January 20, 2019
So, if the Catholic Church), following the insights of Vatican II (neither evangelical, nor millenarian, nor theocratic), is clear that Church and State are two different animals, each with its own tasks and its own powers in carrying out those tasks, how are they to relate to each other?
The first thing that the Church looks for from the State is freedom of religion. This is a twofold reality; freedom for religion to do its work and freedom for the citizens of the State to believe and practice what they believe. What is ironic in this conversation is that more and more the State looks for freedom from religion, expecting the Church to retire into a single hour each Sunday or the moment when people ‘pass over’ to a world where politics goeth not. This they call freedom of worship. But that is a long way from freedom of religion for a Church or for an individual!
Religion is not just a societal manifestation of shared private convictions. Religion is a societal (inevitably, since religion is about how we live together) manifestation of adherence by its members to certain truths and a commitment to the practices consistent with those truths.
Because Christianity is ‘catholic/universal’, it is committed to converting unbelievers to its way of seeing, thinking and acting. This may make it seem intent upon taking over the world and its management. But, in fact, its intent is to take over the minds and hearts of those who vote for the world’s managers and their platforms and policies.
You see, Christianity intersects with the modern secular state, not in the halls of Government or the Judiciary, but in the hearts of those who vote for that government! This is why Religion (unless it evangelistic, or theocratic) does not endorse parties or candidates. But it is also why Religion addresses modern and contemporary issues in the light of its beliefs and practices.
The problem is not that the modern secular state hates religion; nor is it that religions hate the modern secular state. But both the Church and the State love YOU and your power to bring their projects to life. For an absurd example: very few people will get upset if the ‘majority’ passes legislation forbidding religious observances of Halloween. But when a preacher gets excited about the failure of members of his congregation to make room for worship on the eve of the Feast of All Saints, he is accused of being ‘out of touch’, too ‘traditional’ or ‘anti-childish fun’.
Do you see why serious Church people are more and more concerned to narrow the divide between, not Church and State, but between the Sacred and the Special interests that otherwise erode and, eventually, take over Religion’s vision of a single life for a single humanity on a single planet under a single Creator?
Really and truly and seriously yours,