Angilbert (fl. ca. 840/50), On the Battle Which was Fought at Fontenoy

The Law of Christians is broken,
Blood by the hands of hell profusely shed like rain,
And the throat of Cerberus bellows songs of joy.

Angelbertus, Versus de Bella que fuit acta Fontaneto

Fracta est lex christianorum
Sanguinis proluvio, unde manus inferorum,
gaudet gula Cerberi.

Saturday, February 12, 2011

Leo XIII's Immortale Dei: What is Caesar's? What is God's? Part 1

A SO-CALLED "NEW LAW" WAS AT LARGE, and this caused Pope Leo XIII to issue his encyclical Immortale Dei on November 1, 1885. In this encyclical, Leo XIII addressed the Christian doctrine of the State and the relationship between Church and State, and he opposed himself to this "new, so-called, law" which sought to aggrandize the State at the expense of the Church. "[W]herever the Church has set her foot," the pope notes, "she has straightway changed the face of things, and has attempered the moral tone of the people with a new civilization and with virtues before unknown." To attemper --to make less harsh, severe, extreme, to refine . . . to imbue with urbanity, civility . . . ita et nova urbanite imbuit. "All nations which have yielded to her sway," Pope Leo XIII claims, "have become eminent by their gentleness, their sense of justice, and the glory of their high deeds." But he recognized efforts of a number of political philosophies which shared in a common desire to have the State to separate itself from any transcendent value, specifically God and His Church, or, what is perhaps the same thing in effect if not in intention, to make itself transcendent: to bring Caesar and Christ together by getting rid of Christ. The rupture was justified by those who were self-anointed as the Enlightened in politics, promulgators of a "new law," or at least a new conception of fundamental law where Christ and His Church were excluded from the public forum. The problem of what is Caesar's and what is Christ's is solved, sort of like Alexander solved the problem of the Gordian knot, by cutting out Christ, leaving only Caesar.

It is an old saw--the propaganda of unbelievers as deep and as meritless as the Leyenda negra* against the Spaniards--that the Church is opposed to the common good, to development of peoples, or to real advancement, to real freedom, and enlightenment. "
From the very beginning Christians were harassed by slanderous accusations of this nature." ID, 2. Like Socrates, they were branded enemies of the State, corruptors of morals, even atheists relative to the civil gods manufactured by Roman hands, borrowed by them from their neighbors, or created by divinizing their emperors. Enemies of the Imperium, of the Senatus Populusque Romanum. Enemies of the Revolution. Enemies of the Know Nothing Party. Enemies of the Third Reich. Écrasez l'infâme, or something similar to it, has been said in more languages than French and in many before and after the 18th century. Even modernly, John Paul II has suggested that Christians have come to be viewed by advocates of secular democracy as "unreliable citizens."** And the false accusations, in fact calumnies againsdt Christ and his faithful, have drawn responses from St. Justin Martyr's Apologias to St. Augustine's De civitate Dei to Pope Leo XIII's Immortale Dei.

But there was something more than the old prejudice that bothered Leo XIII. There was something new in the air, or, if not in the air, in the chambers of the legislatures or the ratifiers of Constitutions: "in these latter days," Leo XIII sensed, "a novel conception of law has begun here and there to gain increase," a so-called "novum jus." This "new, so called, law" is the result, according to its propagandists, of "an age arrived at full stature," the "result of progressive liberty," SC, 2, but in reality it is nothing less than a shrugging off of the Gospel and of the natural law.

Pope Pius II (Enea Silvio Piccolomini) and Emperor Frederick III
Representing Church and State

The Gospel teaching, which is that of the natural law, can be succinctly stated by Pope Leo XIII:
Man's natural instinct moves him to live in civil society [Insitum homini natura est, ut in civili societate vivat], for he cannot, if dwelling apart, provide himself with the necessary requirements of life, nor procure the means of developing his mental and moral faculties. Hence, it is divinely ordained that he should lead his life-be it family, or civil-with his fellow men, amongst whom alone his several wants can be adequately supplied. But, as no society can hold together unless some one be over all, directing all to strive earnestly for the common good, every body politic must have a ruling authority, and this authority, no less than society itself, has its source in nature, and has, consequently, God for its Author [a natura proptereaque a Deo ipso oriatur auctore]. Hence, it follows that all public power must proceed from God. For God alone is the true and supreme Lord of the world. Everything, without exception, must be subject to Him, and must serve him, so that whosoever holds the right to govern holds it from one sole and single source, namely, God, the sovereign Ruler of all. "There is no power but from God." [Rom. 13:1]
ID, 3.

The Church is indifferent to the mode or form of government, as it should adapt to the needs of the people and their cultures and their legitimate wishes. But there is a limit, a proviso. Whatever government's form, it must conform to the "nature" of government; namely, the agents of government "must ever bear in mind that God is the paramount ruler of the world, and must set Him before themselves as their exemplar and law in the administration of the State." ID, 4.

There are certain qualities that government, to be true to its nature, must have according to Christian philosophy of the State:
  1. It must dispense evenhanded justice [imperium iustum];
  2. It must paternal and tempered rather than dominating and severe [neque herile, sed quas paternum];
  3. It must exist for the well-being of its citizens, that is, the common good [gerendum vero est ad utilitatem civium . . . ad commune omnium bonum constituta sit];
  4. It must not be set up for the advantage of an individual or a group [neqe ullo pacto committendum, unius ut, vel paucorum commodo serviat civilis auctoritas]; and
  5. It must recognize God as the paramount ruler of the world and as exemplar and law in the administration of the State [in societate civili voluit esse principatum, quem qui gererent, ii imaginem quamdam divinae in genus humanum potestatis divinaeque providentiae referrent].
If these requirements are met, then "will the majesty of the law meet with the dutiful and willing homage of the people," for both should recognize their duty to God who is the dispenser of justice, both in the exercise of power for the common good and for justice and in the submission or obedience to that power. As important as it is for the ruler to recognize that power comes from God, so it is for the citizen to recognize it. ID, 5.

The State, therefore, cannot be oblivious to its duties to God and to religion:
As a consequence, the State, constituted as it is, is clearly bound to act up to the manifold and weighty duties linking it to God, by the public profession of religion. Nature and reason, which command every individual devoutly to worship God in holiness, because we belong to Him and must return to Him, since from Him we came, bind also the civil community by a like law. For, men living together in society are under the power of God no less than individuals are, and society, no less than individuals, owes gratitude to God who gave it being and maintains it and whose ever-bounteous goodness enriches it with countless blessings. Since, then, no one is allowed to be remiss in the service due to God, and since the chief duty of all men is to cling to religion in both its reaching and practice-not such religion as they may have a preference for, but the religion which God enjoins, and which certain and most clear marks show to be the only one true religion -it is a public crime to act as though there were no God. So, too, is it a sin for the State not to have care for religion as a something beyond its scope, or as of no practical benefit; or out of many forms of religion to adopt that one which chimes in with the fancy; for we are bound absolutely to worship God in that way which He has shown to be His will.
ID, 6. By natural law, the State has the same obligation to God as the individual.

To what religion, out of the many that may be chosen, must, by the natural law, the State be inclined?
Now, it cannot be difficult to find out which is the true religion, if only it be sought with an earnest and unbiased mind; for proofs are abundant and striking. We have, for example, the fulfillment of prophecies, miracles in great numbers, the rapid spread of the faith in the midst of enemies and in face of overwhelming obstacles, the witness of the martyrs, and the like. From all these it is evident that the only true religion is the one established by Jesus Christ Himself, and which He committed to His Church to protect and to propagate.

For the only-begotten Son of God established on earth a society which is called the Church, and to it He handed over the exalted and divine office which He had received from His Father, to be continued through the ages to come. "As the Father hath sent Me, I also send you."' "Behold I am with you all days, even to the consummation of the world." [Matt. 28:20] Consequently, as Jesus Christ came into the world that men "might have life and have it more abundantly," [John 10:10] so also has the Church for its aim and end the eternal salvation of souls, and hence it is so constituted as to open wide its arms to all mankind, unhampered by any limit of either time or place. "Preach ye the Gospel to every creature." [Mark 16:15]
ID, 7-8.

The Church is a perfect society, just as civil society, one founded on divine right, and natural right enlightened by Grace:
This society [the Church] is made up of men, just as civil society is, and yet is supernatural and spiritual, on account of the end for which it was founded, and of the means by which it aims at attaining that end. Hence, it is distinguished and differs from civil society, and, what is of highest moment, it is a society chartered as of right divine, perfect in its nature and in its title, to possess in itself and by itself, through the will and loving kindness of its Founder, all needful provision for its maintenance and action. And just as the end at which the Church aims is by far the noblest of ends, so is its authority the most exalted of all authority, nor can it be looked upon as inferior to the civil power, or in any manner dependent upon it. . . . it is the Church, and not the State, that is to be man's guide to heaven. It is to the Church that God has assigned the charge of seeing to, and legislating for, all that concerns religion; of teaching all nations; of spreading the Christian faith as widely as possible; in short, of administering freely and without hindrance, in accordance with her own judgment, all matters that fall within its competence.
ID, 10, 11.

Christ has transformed the world. First, by coming. Second, by His rejection of the temptation of political power, the power of the State, of the kingdoms of this world.*** (cf. Matthew 4:10) Second, by founding His Church upon Peter. Third, by giving her His authority and jurisdiction. Fourth, by separating the functions of civil society and its organ of government, the State, and the functions of this religious society, the Church. "Render unto Caesar . . . ." "All authority in heaven and on earth has been given to me . . . ." "And I assign to you, as my Father assigned to me, a kingdom . . . ." (Mark 12:17, Matthew 28:18, Luke 22:29)


*"La Leyenda negra," or the "black legend," is the negative animus and bias frequently found in histories of Spain, especially, but not exclusively, in the works of English Protestant historians. The reader is referred to the work by Philip Wayne Powell entitled Tree of Hate: Propaganda and Prejudices Affecting United States Relations with the Hispanic World (New York: Basic Books, 1971). In his book, Inquisition (Berkely: University of California Press, 1989), 131, Edward Peters describes the "black legend" as "[a]n image of Spain circulated through late sixteenth-century Europe, borne by means of political and religious propaganda that blackened the characters of Spaniards and their ruler to such an extent that Spain became the symbol of all forces of repression, brutality, religious and political intolerance, and intellectual and artistic backwardness for the next four centuries. Spaniards . . . have termed this process and the image that resulted from it as ‘The Black Legend,’ la leyenda negra." The term was apparently first used by the Spanish historian Julián Juderías in his 1914 book La Leyenda Negra.
**"Those who are convinced that they know the truth and firmly adhere to it are considered unreliable from a democratic point of view, since they do not accept that truth is determined by the majority, or that it is subject to variation according to different political trends." Centesimus Annus, No. 46.
***The Satanic-inspired temptation to assume political power was clearly rejected by Christ. This temptation was not, however, rejected by Muhammad who succumbed to its blandishments, and so political and religious authority were both grasped by him, and we find them both unified thereafter in traditional Islam, particularly in its notion of the caliphate. As explained by Bernard Lewis in his The Political Language of Islam (Chicago: University of Chicago Press, 1988), 2:
In classical Islam there was no distinction between Church and state. In Christendom the existence of two authorities goes back to the founder, who enjoined his followers to render unto Caesar the things which are Caesar's and to God the things which are God's. Throughout the history of Christendom there have been two powers: God and Caesar, represented in this world by sacerdotium and regnum, or, in modern terms, church and state. They may be associated, they may be separated; they may be in harmony, they may be in conflict; one may dominate, the other may dominate; one may interfere, the other may protest, as we are now learning again. But always there are two, the spiritual and the temporal powers, each with its own laws and jurisdictions, its own structure and hierarchy. In pre-westernized Islam, there were not two powers but one, and the question of separation, therefore, could not arise. . . . At the present time, the very notion of a secular jurisdiction and authority--of a so-to-speak unsanctified part of life that lies outside the scope of religious law and those who uphold it--is seen as an impiety, indeed as the ultimate betrayal of Islam. The righting of this wrong is the principal aim of Islamic revolutionaries and, in general, of those described as Islamic fundamentalists.
The conception of "Church" and "State" is as foreign to traditional Islam (though for different reasons) as it was foreign to Caesar of the Romans or even to the Protestants and Secularists who, through various doctrines or practices, subordinate the Church to the State [E.g., Luther's doctrine of "two kingdoms" and "one sword," and rejection of the Gelasian doctrine of "two swords." Calvin's notion of a "theocratic" state in Geneva. King Henry VIII's assumption of headship of the Church. Thomas Erastus and his Erastian doctrine that the church was under the dominion of the civil government. John Rawls's efforts to remove any references to "comprehensive doctrines" in public political discourse. ]

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