by Father Denis Fahey, D.D.
with Nihil Obstat and Imprimi Potest, 1932
CHAPTER VI: POWER OF THE CHURCH IN THE SOCIAL ORDER ESTABLISHED BY GOD
S. What is the will of Christ, King of the Social Order, with regard to the Church?
T. The object of His will is twofold. First, as we have said, the Church owes the most complete submission to God and to Jesus Christ. She may not lawfully add one truth to the teaching of Christ. Neither may she take away a single one. She depends upon God with an absolute dependence which extends to the smallest details. Further, by the will of Christ she is charged with a certain mission. Christ confers this mission upon her in virtue of His supreme authority, and it necessarily carries with it a share in His supreme authority over every subordinate authority.
S. Would you kindly explain this mission of the Church?
T. This is the position in which our Lord has placed His Church. He has said to her, "Go and teach all nations ... I am with you all days, even to the consummation of the world." These words explain the intentions of Jesus Christ. The Divine Master wants His Church to be in the world the instrument for the salvation of souls. This is so much His desire that to the Church alone, to the exclusion of all other organisations, He has entrusted the care of guiding souls to their final supernatural beatitude. It is certainly His will that His Church should fulfill in the world the office of an organism necessary for the salvation of the world.
s. But in that case the Church would be as necessary as Christ Himself and that cannot be admitted.
T. It may quite well be admitted that the Church is as necessary as Christ if Christ wishes it to be so. Now Christ commands His Church to teach the nations and to administer the Sacraments. It might better be said that Jesus Christ has decided that, through the Church, He should Himself be the Way, the Truth and the Life for every man and for every society.
Throughout his whole life man has Jesus Christ as his King: he has the clear and definite command to obey the Church whenever She speaks in the name of Jesus, the
Way, the Truth and the Life. But Christ is all this, not to the individual alone, but to every society. Every society then must obey the Church as Christ Himself, for the Church is commissioned to explain His mind and will just as much to men gathered in societies as to the individual.
S. On that reasoning, then, the Church should be called Queen and the title of King passes to the Pope.
T. Undoubtedly. The Church has neither above her nor beside her anyone who can enlighten, teach, or guide her but God the Holy Spirit and Jesus Christ. If Jesus Christ is truly King, because He exercises authority over individuals, societies and all other authorities, in like manner the Church is Queen because She must teach men, themselves wielding authority, their duties. She truly rules, therefore she is Queen. By the same right and for the same reasons the Pope is truly King.
S. These are surely weighty consequences flowing from these truths.
T. The first result is that Christ and His Church are obliged to intervene throughout the whole social order. Concerning every social duty, whatever it may be, the mission is divinely imposed upon them to enlighten nations and communities. This is taught by the Holy See in a letter to the Archbishop of Tours:---
"In the midst of the present upheavals, men must be taught once more that the Church, by reason of her Divine institution, is the only Ark of Salvation for the human race. Built by the Son of God upon Peter and his successors, She is not only the guardian of revelation but also the necessary bulwark of the natural law. " Therefore,
Monseigneur, it is more opportune than ever to teach, as you are doing, that the truth which sets man free, whether individually or socially, is supernatural truth in all its fullness and its purity, without attenuation, diminution or compromise, that truth, in short, in its fullness which Jesus Christ came to bring into the world, that truth of which He has confided the safeguarding and the teaching to Peter and to His Church" (Letter of March 16th, 1917, published in the Semaine Religieuse de Tours).
The second consequence, in complete conformity with the first, is that Christ and the Church are a necessity for the whole social fabric. If they were not necessary, God would not have imposed them on the world as the means of salvation. If they have a mission to the nations incumbent upon them, the nations have a corresponding obligation to have recourse to them.
S. In that case the Church has a mission not only to souls but also to societies. But does not that seem an abuse of her position?
T. The Church and the Pope have to carry out a divinely imposed office, not only for individual souls but also for societies. In the first place, to the Church alone on earth is confided the deposit, not only of revealed truths, but also of moral truths in the natural order. No society can survive without the existence and practice of this moral law. It belongs then to the Church to teach those basic truths which alone can save the world as a whole and each country individually. It belongs to the Church and to the Church alone to interpret with authority the laws of natural justice which should govern the mutual relation of peoples. Everything shows this to be the case. The Church has to guide the nations to their last end. In this world, nations live normally only in a state of society. To the Church then it belongs to bring them to their end through that social state in which it is God's will they should live. It is this basic truth of the final destiny which God wills for man, and which man ought to will for himself, which lights up all these great questions. It is not surprising that contempt of this truth and of this law brings with it God's punishments. Is not the powerlessness of governments, in spite of all their efforts to bring about the peace of nations, a real punishment?
God, the Church and the Pope are set aside. The world wants to do without them. The consequence of this criminal neglect is fatal: man wants to do without God, and God leaves him to himself. Chaos is the inevitable ending. [Emphasis in bold that of the Web Master.]
S. It would seem, then, that, in spite of everything, we must impress upon men the dependence upon God of all human society, both in regard to God Himself, His Christ, and the mission of His Church?
T. Assuredly. It is commonly said "Of two evils ,choose the less." Now it is certain that the evil arising from the silence of those whose mission it is to teach is greater and more pernicious than any other evil. Jesus Christ has spoken clearly and definitely for such circumstances as these: if, to plant His Truth in the world, we have to undergo suffering and persecution, we must be ready to do so. Martyrdom must be faced rather than the abandonment and denial of truths necessary for salvation. [Ibid.]