CHAPTER II: NECESSARY CONSEQUENCES OF THAT CREATED STATE
WHICH IS THE ESSENCE OF HUMAN SOCIETY
S. Well, then, what is the immediate consequence of the created nature of every society?
T. The first consequence is the necessary, absolute and complete dependence on God of every society---of every established social order, as of every possible social order.
S. I do not understand, I fear, the dependence of a social organism on God. A social organism has not got a conscience. Only the individual can grasp the meaning of duty and carry out moral obligations.
T. I know, but is there not a certain confusion of thought to be noted in what you say? In the first place, creation, and the dependence that results therefrom for every society, is not a consequence of the fact that man is endowed with a conscience, but of the fact that man has received from God being and existence. His creation did not depend upon himself: he is a created being, whether he likes it or not. It is the same for every society. Its coming into being did not depend upon itself: its created condition belongs to its very essence. Moreover, every community is a group of intelligent beings, and such a group has, as its first duty, to understand what is essential to it. It must, therefore, recognise the primary duties that are incumbent on it by the very fact that---it is a created being. Now the first truth- on which all others depend, and which imposes obligations on the creature---is that of the sovereign dominion of God over every creature and the absolute dependence of every creature on God. A group of intelligent beings not recognising this truth would fail in its strictest duty and would infallibly go astray. It is, then, rigorously necessary that every state, every nation, in a word, every human society, should be absolutely subject to God. Thus, this obligation of social order is proclaimed by the conscience of a group or social body, just as by the individual conscience.
S. I understand, but has that created condition, which is proper to every society, no other consequences.
T. Another consequence is that every society depends upon God in its very constitution. By that I mean that everything that goes to make up a community must be impregnated with God. Let me explain further. In every community must be found a union of wills, an adaptation of means to end, an end to be attained. In each of these elements the society, being God's creature, depends upon Him. It follows as a strictly logical consequence that when a community is constituted, it should examine the end to be attained by it from the point of view of the ultimate and supreme end---God Himself. The union of wills must be made in practical dependence on God. The adaptation of means to end must be in conformity with the demands of the Eternal Law. Accordingly, when a State is first formed, its first duty is to place at the basis of its charter or constitution and of its legislation the most absolute dependence upon God, and the most complete conformity to the Eternal Law. To state the contrary would be to set up disorder and to open the way to idolatry.
S. But in saying this you seem to affirm that States are obligated to offer worship to God.
T. Quite so. What has been said above applies to every group of intelligent beings. The first duty of every State, every nation, and of the League of Nations itself, is to be convinced of its primary obligations. God is the God of societies as He is the God of individuals, but as it is the property of societies to act socially, therefore, as societies, they owe to God absolute dependence, recognition and acknowledgment of this dependence and worship.
S. But how can States be obliged to offer worship to God when in fact God is unknown to them?
T. To that question I answer in the words of St. Paul. In the first chapter of the Epistle to the Romans he speaks as follows: " The wrath of God is revealed from heaven against all ungodliness and injustice of those men that detain the truth of God in injustice: "Because that which is known of God is manifest in them. For God has manifested it unto them.
"For the invisible things of Him, from the creation of the world are clearly seen, being understood by the things that are made. His eternal power also and divinity: so that they are inexcusable.
"Because that when they knew God, they have not glorified Him as God, nor given thanks" (Rom. i. 18-21).
The Holy Spirit declares, through the mouth of the Doctor of the Gentiles, that the pagans, immersed in all the horrors of false belief and evil practice, are inexcusable, in that they have not known and glorified God. He accuses them of having rejected the light: he can find no excuse for them. Modern States are just as truly without excuse as the pagans of old of whom St. Paul speaks. We cannot admit that their attitude is in conformity with the requirements of reason. To rulers and leaders as to all others God makes Himself manifest by His works. If any of them refuse to exact that an official and social worship be offered to God by the State, they are inexcusable, for the reasons given by St. Paul. Simply from the point of view of reason, governments, parliaments, legislators, all alike must offer to God that worship from which they cannot dispense themselves, and from which they cannot dispense any State or any community.
The conclusion from these facts is that even if a State could be excused for not submitting to the directions of the Church, which are unknown to it, nothing can excuse it from the duty of worship to God and from submission to the divine precepts of the Eternal Law.
S. You consider then all public men to be inexcusable who, for political and prudential reasons, dare not assert the supreme authority of God over all created things, and especially over social organisms?
T. Certainly. The Apostle St. Paul goes further. He declares that God's wrath will be manifested against the Nations who disobey this primordial law. Those who refuse to accept God as Creator, Ruler and Sovereign Lord of all society, are going against the natural law and the light of their reason. We cannot accept their theories: we must combat them with the utmost energy.
S. Am I to understand then that under these conditions all statecraft is and must be subordinated to God?
T. That is so: all statecraft must be subordinated to God. Whatever meaning is given to the term "statecraft " or "politics" it must be recognised that it expresses a reality dependent on God. Moreover, it is here above all that we must apply that principle of our last end, set forth above. We can never lode sight of the fact that man is placed on earth to prepare for eternal happiness. All institutions, divine or human, have for their last end the glory of God and the salvation of souls. Hence all social institutions, all political activities and lines of
direction, must take into account this fundamental truth, that man is made, not for this world, but for eternity. The constitutions of nations, their legislation, their legal, administrative and other organisation must all envisage, first and before all, the last end of all human existence. All statecraft must, like everything else, on account of this last end, be in conformity with the Eternal Law of God, with the Creed and with the Ten Commandments.
S. But this would seem to mean that the State must be totally subordinated to God: is not this rather the case with the Church?
T. Undoubtedly, the Church, like every society, owes to God complete obedience and submission. There are in the world many and various societies, among which two predominate over all others---the Church and the State. If we are insisting on the dependence of the State upon God it is because of current errors on this subject. The submission owed by the Church to God must be all the greater because it is her task to guide men towards their eternal destiny. She depends upon God for her very existence and for the means which He puts at her disposal for the sanctification of souls. She depends upon God too by the obligation that rests upon her of pointing out alike to private citizens and public men, to private associations and to States, the road to be followed for the attainment of Life Eternal. To sum up---every society depends upon God: the State is a society: it depends upon God. The Church is a society: it depends upon God, its dependence being of a more intimate character. (The Church is charged with the diffusion of the inner supernatural life of God.)
S. All this would seem logically to establish that there is an obligation on Church and State to be in agreement in the government of men.
T. That is the case. The Sovereign Pontiffs have always taught that there should be a perfect understanding between Church and State. The reason of this is simple enough: Church and State are two institutions established by God. The mission of the Church is to guide men to their final happiness. The mission of the State is to procure the material and temporal well-being of the subjects. This well-being must be sought by the State in such wise that its subjects may not only not be hindered, but be actually favoured in the pursuit of their final end. As his last end is man's supreme object, it is evident that everything must be subordinated to it. As the Church is charged with the mission of guiding men with certainty to their last end, it is God's will that she should be obeyed. Her power, without extending to matters of a purely material order, which involve, that is, no spiritual interest, does extend to the manner of using temporal and passing goods, with a view to attaining the final end of man. Pius IX and Leo XIII have explicitly condemned the doctrine of the separation of Church and State.
S. These precepts are exceedingly serious. It would seem that, to be in accord with the Divine Truth and Divine Law, no human intelligence should ever deliberately entertain the notion of a State, a community, or even politics being independent of God?
T. In truth, a thought of this sort fully accepted amounts to an explicit declaration of independence on the part of the creature against its Creator. It is a revolt of the the mind against God and this revolt is a sin of exceptional gravity.