church and state

The Sexual Revolution Turns Ugly

How many intellectuals have come to the revolutionary party via the path of moral indignation, only to connive ultimately at terror and autocracy? ∼ Raymond Aron The Sexual Revolution is now out of control. Initially promising freedom, like all revolutions, it has entered something like its Reign of Terror phase and is devouring its own children. As with [...]

Has Government Become Too Big?

Thomas Jefferson is said to have quipped, "a government big enough to give you everything you want is a government big enough to take away everything that you have." While history does not support the Jeffersonian attribution, it does support the conclusion—witness Soviet Russia, Communist China, and North Korea. But how big is too big? [...]

The Injustice of Social Justice

Affordable and accessible health care is a right, was the line. And it worked. By shoving the partisan healthcare bill through the straw of “social justice,” Obamacare was passed, if barely, adding to the already ponderous government programs for health and welfare. But what was touted as social justice, as so many things are, is [...]

To Whom Do Democrats Pray?

On June 14, 2017, James Hodgkinson, a staunch Bernie Sanders supporter and volunteer for the Sanders presidential campaign, opened fire at a Republican baseball practice in Virginia for an annual congressional charity baseball game. Hodgkinson had a list of Republican lawmakers in his front pocket, and was apparently attempting to kill as many Republicans as [...]

Catholics and the Revolutionary State

To what extent should Catholics support an essentially evil government? The question is unaccustomed. The Church views government as natural and necessary, and normally favors obedience even to tyrannical governments as long as the specific command is not at odds with divine or natural law. That’s why Paul told Christians to honor and obey Nero’s [...]

Vatican Ostpolitik and the Death of Fidel Castro 

Upon the passing of Fidel Castro, the mainstream media are presenting the Cuban tyrant, the longest-reigning dictator in human history, in a much more benevolent way than they would the passing of any other strongman. For example, the headline in The New York Times reads: “Fidel Castro, Cuban Leader Who Defied U.S., Dies at 90.” [...]

Catholic Ties to the American Public Order Continue to Unravel

It has been clear for quite some time that a new and different public order is taking shape in America in which Catholics (or at least Catholics faithful to the magisterium of the Church) will have serious difficulty finding a comfortable place. The recent election does nothing to change this fact because it does not [...]

The Confessional State, Catholic or Liberal?

Why am I allowed to attend Mass on Sundays? Is it because God has commanded that I worship him, and having a social nature I must do so in union with my fellows within the bounds of the Church founded by Christ for that purpose, on the day he rose from the dead? Or is [...]

The Narrowness of Martyrdom

A broad justification for martyrdom is preferable to a narrow one. A person would prefer to die for something grand, sweeping, and generally held. Perhaps world peace, or what used to be called the fellowship of man. Martyrdom is in practice narrow. When St. Thomas More died on a scaffold in Henry VIII’s kingdom, it [...]

Liberalism, Conservatism, and Catholicism

We all talk about liberalism and conservatism, and about liberal and conservative Catholics, but what does it mean? Some say it doesn’t mean much at all. They say these are labels attached to arbitrary and even contradictory collections of positions. Liberals say they want lots of freedom and lots of regulations. Conservatives say they want [...]

What a Pastoral Church Looks Like

Now more than ever, there are calls for a more pastoral Church. That's a good thing. It's the clergy's job to be our pastors, and who could object to priests, bishops, and popes doing their job? “Pastor“ means shepherd, so we find what pastors should do by looking at what shepherds do, especially in the [...]

The Best Way Forward For the Church

Things look bad in the Church and Western world just now. The Church, humanly speaking, seems to be destroying herself through unresisted absorption in a secular world with which she has ever less in common. What was once her real, though imperfect, reflection—the civilization of the West—is also destroying itself through willful rejection of moral [...]

Why Thomas More is the Patron Saint of Statesmen

Wolf Hall, the recent novel-turned-television-series, raises the question of who is right about the actions and legacy of Thomas More (1478-1535) and Thomas Cromwell (1485-1540). The stakes are higher than many realize. As Mark Movsesian explains: In its biased portrayal of More, British history’s great example of religious resistance to state orthodoxy, Wolf Hall is [...]

Vatican II Followed Ottaviani on Church and State

For many people, Alfredo Ottaviani—head of the Holy Office (later the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith) from 1952 to 1968—is the epitome of intransigent, pre-Vatican II Catholicism. He is what the Council had repudiated and moved beyond, or so it is supposed. Indeed, the sentiment expressed by the motto of Cardinal Ottaviani’s coat [...]

Untethering Sacramental Marriage from Civil Marriage 

Months ago, I watched as some Christians took to the internet opposing R. R. Reno's position in “A Time to Rend,” in which he calls for a separation of sacramental marriage from civil marriage. Much of the criticism made accusations of disengagement with, and abandonment of, the culture. One Protestant even went so far as [...]

A Catholic Patriotism

How should we be good Catholics and good Americans? Until recently that did not seem to be an issue to most of us. Separation of Church and State appeared to reconcile the Faith with a secular pluralist public order. The arrangement seemed to leave room for each to be what it is, do what it [...]

Great Political Ideas are Sustained by Great Religious Ideas

I do not normally read the New York Times. No normal person normally does. But every once in a while I make an exception. Which is also a normal thing to do. The article I read astonished me, especially the following passage: America had a great political idea, but it had a small religious idea. [...]

The Last Catholic King of Ireland

Recently, whilst traveling through Ireland, I passed over a small bridge. The river was easily crossed but I was conscious that the waters below were those of the River Boyne, and that upon its banks had been fought a battle that was to prove calamitous for the Catholic faith in these islands. And yet, for [...]

A Proposal from Milan: Making Space for Religion

Christendom may have begun with an edict from Milan; now, in the waning days of Christendom, another voice from Milan, Angelo Cardinal Scola, in his little book Let’s Not Forget God: Freedom of Faith, Culture, and Politics, “brings back to our attention the issue, more relevant than ever, of religious freedom.” Initially a speech celebrating [...]

When Teaching Truth Stops Being a Church Priority

Basic issues have basic importance. Does God exist? If he does, what is he like? If he doesn’t, can an objective moral order survive his absence? It seems obvious that such questions are crucial to all aspects of life, including our life together in society. That conclusion has inconvenient implications. Christian societies, Muslim societies, and [...]

What is the Church’s Political Role?

For more than 1500 years the Church was a major influence on Western politics. That is how it should be. Ultimate standards matter, and if the Church doesn’t explain what they are and how to apply them someone else will. It’s not an improvement when her authority gives way to that of journalists, advertisers, TV [...]

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