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.

Sunday, February 13, 2011

Leo XIII's Immortale Dei: What is Caesar's? What is God's? Part 2

THE CHURCH IS AN INSTITUTION DIRECTLY FOUNDED BY GOD made flesh, Jesus. Her authority does not rely upon the State or civil society, and it is by God's express design "plainly meant to be unfettered," though it has been "so long assailed by a philosophy that truckles to the State." As a result of a "singular disposition of God's providence," the Church was provided with "a civil sovereignty," a potestas principatu civili, which assures her independence from civil authority so as better to accomplish her divine mission. ID, 12.

It is then the will of God that there be two authorities over baptized Christians. Authority and power is to be--from the foundation of the Church by the Lord until the end of time--split. What God has rent asunder, man ought not to join.
The Almighty, therefore, has given the charge of the human race to two powers, the ecclesiastical and the civil, the one being set over divine, and the other over human, things. Each in its kind is supreme, each has fixed limits within which it is contained, limits which are defined by the nature and special object of the province of each, so that there is, we may say, an orbit traced out within which the action of each is brought into play by its own native right.
ID, 13. But while the civil and ecclesiastical jurisdictions may have been split, those over whom the jurisdictions govern are not. Church and State are two; however, man, over whom "The condition of the commonwealth depends on the religion with which God is worshiped; and between one and the other there exists an intimate and abiding connection."
--Pope Leo XIII, Immortale Dei, 19
the Church and State exercise their authority, is one. And so it follows that "one and the same thing--related differently, but still remaining one and the same thing--might belong to the jurisdiction and determination of both." What, then, is the rule set out by God for handling these areas of overlapping jurisdiction? It cannot be the intention of God to have the two powers command two different and contrary things, both of them binding, and so putting the subject to a Morton's Fork, a double bind, where "it would be a dereliction of duty to disobey either of the two." ID, 13. "There must, accordingly, exist between these two powers a certain orderly connection, which may be compared to the union of the soul and body in man." ID, 14.

The rule or connection is found by reference to the nature of the civil authority and the ecclesiastical authority:
The nature and scope of that connection can be determined only . . . by having regard to the nature of each power, and by taking account of the relative excellence and nobleness of their purpose. One of the two has for its proximate and chief object the well-being of this mortal life; the other, the everlasting joys of heaven. Whatever, therefore in things human is of a sacred character, whatever belongs either of its own nature or by reason of the end to which it is referred, to the salvation of souls, or to the worship of God, is subject to the power and judgment of the Church. Whatever is to be ranged under the civil and political order is rightly subject to the civil authority. Jesus Christ has Himself given command that what is Caesar's is to be rendered to Caesar, and that what belongs to God is to be rendered to God.
ID, 14.

Emperor Otto III and Pope Gregory V
(Unknown Artist, ca. 1450)

It is only when there is mutual co-ordination of the two authorities that one approaches perfection in government. That is to say, to have civil authority without ecclesiastical authority yields moral chaos;* to have ecclesiastical authority without civil authority yields civil chaos. In a Christian state, "divine and human things are equitably shared; the rights of citizens assured to them, and fenced round by divine, by natural, and by human law; the duties incumbent on each one being wisely marked out, and their fulfillment fittingly insured." ID, 17.

Man as pilgrim, the homo viator, has an "uncertain and toilsome journey to the everlasting city." The State must not forget that each of its subjects, from the youngest to the oldest, is, in fact, a pilgrim of the Absolute, on journey to God and eternal life. The Church and the State both, then, are to see that these citizen-pilgrims "have safe guides and helpers on their way," and the Church and State both are "are conscious that others have charge to protect their persons alike and their possessions, and to obtain or preserve for them everything essential for their present life." ID, 17.

In a sense, this separation of Church and State is broader than structures of civil government at their highest. There is a separation that trickles down to that most basic of civil and natural institutions, the institution of the family, the domestic society:
[D]omestic society acquires that firmness and solidity so needful to it from the holiness of marriage, one and indissoluble, wherein the rights and duties of husband and wife are controlled with wise justice and equity; due honour is assured to the woman; the authority of the husband is conformed to the pattern afforded by the authority of God; the power of the father is tempered by a due regard for the dignity of the mother and her offspring; and the best possible provision is made for the guardianship, welfare, and education of the children.
ID, 17. The power of the paterfamilias, like the power of the State, is not absolute: the father and husband must recognize that, in exercising his care over his wife and children, he also must render to God that which is God's. The Church has authority over the institution of marriage and family, for God is present everywhere, in study, dining room, playroom, and bedroom, even in the most intimate place and intimate time between man and wife. The bedroom is not outside the pale of the law. It is not a lawless place. When the lights are turned off, the light of the law remains. There is, in fact, government in the bedroom, government in the orgasm, even government in the womb, for the moral law reaches into the tiniest crevices of human life, ordering in all to the good.

If the State is properly configured, then positive laws will be framed with reference to the common good, not neglecting truth and justice, and, they will not be detracted from these essentials by reference to anything else. If some law is proposed that is contrary to these, whether it be to assuage desires of private interests or even the will of the majority, it will be rejected as outside the bounds of civil authority:
In political affairs, and all matters civil, the laws aim at securing the common good, and are not framed according to the delusive caprices and opinions of the mass of the people, but by truth and by justice; the ruling powers are invested with a sacredness more than human, and are withheld from deviating from the path of duty, and from overstepping the bounds of rightful authority; and the obedience is not the servitude of man to man, but submission to the will of God, exercising His sovereignty through the medium of men.
ID, 18.


*Later in the encyclical (No. 20), Pope Leo XIII quotes extensively from St. Augustine's De moribus ecclesiae [I.30.63; PL 32, 1336] on the Catholic Church's function. In reading this, ask yourself the question: If the Church is not doing this task, then who is?
Thou dost teach and train children with much tenderness, young men with much vigour, old men with much gentleness; as the age not of the body alone, but of the mind of each requires. Women thou dost subject to their husbands in chaste and faithful obedience, not for the gratifying of their lust, but for bringing forth children, and for having a share in the family concerns. Thou dost set husbands over their wives, not that they may play false to the weaker sex, but according to the requirements of sincere affection. Thou dost subject children to their parents in a kind of free service, and dost establish parents over their children with a benign rule. . . Thou joinest together, not in society only, but in a sort of brotherhood, citizen with citizen, nation with nation, and the whole race of men, by reminding them of their common parentage. Thou teachest kings to look to the interests of their people, and dost admonish the people to be submissive to their kings. With all care dost thou teach all to whom honour is due, and affection, and reverence, and fear, consolation, and admonition and exhortation, and discipline, and reproach, and punishment. Thou showest that all these are not equally incumbent on all, but that charity is owing to all, and wrongdoing to none.

Tu pueriliter pueros, fortiter iuvenes, quiete senes, prout cuiusque non corporis tantum, sed et animi aetas est, exerces ac doces. Tu feminas viris suis non ad explendam libidinem, sed ad propagandam prolem, et ad rei familiaris societatem, casta et fideli obedientia subiicis. Tu viros conjugibus, non ad illudendum imbecilliorem sexum, sed sinceri amoris legibus praeficis. Tu parentibus filios libera quadam servitute subiungis, parentes filiis pia dominatione praeponis . . . Tu cives civibus, tn gentes gentibus, et prorsus homines primorum parentum recordatione, non societate tantum, sed quadam etiam fraternitate coniungis. Doces reges prospicere populis, mones populos se subdere regibus. Quibus honor debeatur, quibus affectus, quibus reverentia, quibus timor, quibus consolatio, quibus admonitio, quibus cohortatio, quibus disciplina, quibus objurgatio, quibus supplicium, sedulo doces; ostendens quemadmodum et non omnibus omnia, et omnibus caritas, et nulli debeatur injuria.
Truly, the Church's moral teaching, "if duly acted up to, is the very mainstay of the commonwealth," si obtemperetur, salutem esse reipublicae. ID, 20 (quoting St. Augustine's Epistle 138 to Marcellinum, 2:15 (PL 33, 532)).

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