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.
Showing posts with label Pope Leo XIII on Natural Law. Show all posts
Showing posts with label Pope Leo XIII on Natural Law. Show all posts

Tuesday, February 15, 2011

Leo XIII's Immortale Dei: What is Caesar's? What is God's? Part 4

IN THE EYES OF THE NEW LAW, the novus ius, the Church is demoted into a private association and has as much standing, and no more, than the Red Cross or Planned Parenthood or the Kiwanis Club. "[N]o regard is paid to the laws of the Church, and she who, by the order and commission of Jesus Christ, has the duty of teaching all nations, finds herself forbidden to take any part in the instruction of the people." The Church is banished from the public square from law and by law. Where she ought to be held at least as equal to the State, and where she in fact ought to be preeminent in those matters assigned to her jurisdiction or where she shares jurisdiction, she is in fact subordinate. Her laws are superseded or ignored by the State, which claims preeminence if not de jure certainly de facto.
With reference to matters that are of twofold jurisdiction, they who administer the civil power lay down the law at their own will, and in matters that appertain to religion defiantly put aside the most sacred decrees of the Church.
ID, 27. The effect is most significantly seen in respect to marriage and family life and the civil laws that govern these institutions. In essentially ever Western nation, these, contrary to the natural law, allow for divorce and remarriage, in some cases even allow for homosexual marriages. These permit and encourage artificial contraception and even abortion. What kind of marriage and family life is promoted when the unity and indissolubility of marriage is derided in law? When the very purpose of conjugal relations is perverted or shunted? When the maternal authority allowed a mother over the child in her womb includes the power of execution of her child for no reason at all but inconvenience? The State purports to have jurisdiction over all marriages and over family life, even those of baptized Christians. It ignores the existence of any covenant that claims unity and indissolubility beause it refuses to enforce it (and though Leo XIII did not foresee it, even claims that the contract ought to be between a man and a woman).

The State is not satisfied with dabbling in marriage and family life. It wishes to stand in loco parentis, and gains a practical monopoly on the education of youth; it restricts the Church, and restricts even any mention of philosophies that speak of God.* The State also enters into health care and into scientific research (e.g., stem cell research) entirely oblivious to the moral law in certain particulars. There is virtually no area where the State is not overweening in its power, in exercising its muscle. At times, the State, particularly in Europe and in Central and South America at one time, even denied the Church the right to own property and suppresses religious orders. Though that has not been the case in the United States, any attempt which directly or even indirectly favors the Church will immediately draw forth "men," well-trained by the existing Zeitgeist, who "forthwith begin to cry out that matters affecting the Church must be separated from those of the State." ID, 27. All these efforts by the monolithic State, a state inspired by a secularist philosophy, "aim to this one end-to paralyze the action of Christian institutions, to cramp to the utmost the freedom of the Catholic Church, and to curtail her ever single prerogative." ID, 29.

This novus ius, this new law, where the constitution of things is that the State is independent from God and His Church, and the Church is fenced away as if some sort of bad neighbor, is contrary to reason:
Now, natural reason itself proves convincingly that such concepts of the government of a State are wholly at variance with the truth. Nature itself bears witness that all power, of every kind, has its origin from God, who is its chief and most august source. The sovereignty of the people, however, and this without any reference to God, is held to reside in the multitude . . . lacks all reasonable proof . . . . To hold, therefore, that there is no difference in matters of religion between forms that are unlike each other, and even contrary to each other, most clearly leads in the end to the rejection of all religion in both theory and practice. And this is the same thing as atheism, however it may differ from it in name. So, too, the liberty of thinking, and of publishing, whatsoever each one likes, without any hindrance, is not in itself an advantage over which society can wisely rejoice. . . . Liberty is a power perfecting man, and hence should have truth and goodness for its object. . . . Whatever, therefore, is opposed to virtue and truth may not rightly be brought temptingly before the eye of man, much less sanctioned by the favor and protection of the law.
ID, 30, 31, 32. We have, by and large, chosen or at least consented to live in this manner, to suffer a constitution of state that is practically atheistic in its religious indifferentism. It is the fruit of a sinful rebellion started long ago by a German Augustinian monk whose private thoughts and privates chafed under his habit, perhaps initially engendered by our own sins, and then imitated by a host of other clerics, philosophers, statesmen, and then finally peoples. But in doing so we have painted ourselves into a moral cul-de-sac. And we have not the means to extricate ourselves from the tyranny of relativism into which we have fallen. It all stems from the "grave and fatal error," the original sin of modern politics in the West, and error of which we must repent:
To exclude the Church, founded by God Himself, from life, from laws, from the education of youth, from domestic society is a grave and fatal error. A State from which religion is banished can never be well regulated; and already perhaps more than is desirable is known of the nature and tendency of the so-called civil philosophy of life and morals. The Church of Christ is the true and sole teacher of virtue and guardian of morals. She it is who preserves in their purity the principles from which duties flow, and, by setting forth most urgent reasons for virtuous life, bids us not only to turn away from wicked deeds, but even to curb all movements of the mind that are opposed to reason, even though they be not carried out in action.
ID, 32.

Pope Leo XIII reflects on the teaching of his predecessors, and then recapitulates:
[I]t is evident that the origin of public power is to be sought for in God Himself, and not in the multitude, and that it is repugnant to reason to allow free scope for sedition. Again, that it is not lawful for the State, any more than for the individual, either to disregard all religious duties or to hold in equal favour different kinds of religion; that the unrestrained freedom of thinking and of openly making known one's thoughts is not inherent in the rights of citizens, and is by no means to be reckoned worthy of favour and support. In like manner it is to be understood that the Church no less than the State itself is a society perfect in its own nature and its own right, and that those who exercise sovereignty ought not so to act as to compel the Church to become subservient or subject to them, or to hamper her liberty in the management of her own affairs, or to despoil her in any way of the other privileges conferred upon her by Jesus Christ. In matters, however, of mixed jurisdiction, it is in the highest degree consonant to nature, as also to the designs of God, that so far from one of the powers separating itself from the other, or still less coming into conflict with it, complete harmony, such as is suited to the end for which each power exists, should be preserved between them. . . .

This, then, is the teaching of the Catholic Church concerning the constitution and government of the State.
ID, 34-35. Between Church and State: harmony, not disharmony; communion, not separation; complementarity, not subordination. With respect to the "wall of separation" between Church and State which has brought us practical atheism in governance, we might say, were we to follow Leo XIII in the quest of true freedom and liberty instead of Thomas Jefferson who has been co-opted by secularists: "Mr. Chief Justice . . . tear down this wall."

"Tear Down this Wall!"

It is apparent, however, how far our culture is from ever practically doing this. "Our eyes are not closed to the spirit of the times." ID, 40. "All this, though so reasonable and full of counsel," rued Leo XIII, "finds little favour nowadays when States not only refuse to conform to the rules of Christian wisdom, but seem even anxious to recede from them further and further on each successive day." ID, 40. The people do not want yet want it, though there are signs that they are tired of liberalism being poured down their throats, and the New Evangelization has not yet borne its fruit in overcoming the neo-paganism under which we labor. We are unquestionably in that area more than ever before where "for the sake of securing some great good or of hindering some great evil," we must "allow patiently custom or usage to be a kind of sanction for each kind of religion," including liberalism, "having its place in the State." ID, 36. And to be sure, matters could be worse:
If there really exist anywhere, or if we in imagination conceive, a State, waging wanton and tyrannical war against Christianity, and if we compare with it the modern form of government just described, this latter may seem the more endurable of the two. Yet, undoubtedly, the principles on which such a government is grounded are, as We have said, of a nature which no one can approve.
ID, 42. But while we must be tolerant, we must not be passive and sit idly by. We must take care of our own household, and then "swarm and crowd" and pray.

In private and in domestic life, we must do all we can to counter this secularizing tendency, to conform our life and conduct to the precepts of the Gospel, and to be obedient children to the Church our Mother, solicitous for her welfare and rights.

In public affairs, Catholics with public responsibility have a significant burden to discharge:
[T]hey assume not nor should they assume the responsibility of approving what is blameworthy in the actual methods of government, but seek to turn these very methods, so far as is possible, to the genuine and true public good, and to use their best endeavours at the same time to infuse, as it were, into all the veins of the State the healthy sap and blood of Christian wisdom and virtue. The morals and ambitions of the heathens differed widely from those of the Gospel, yet Christians were to be seen living undefiled everywhere in the midst of pagan superstition, and, while always true to themselves, coming to the front boldly wherever an opening was presented. Models of loyalty to their rulers, submissive, so far as was permitted, to the sovereign power, they shed around them on every side a halo of sanctity; they strove to be helpful to their brethren, and to attract others to the wisdom of Jesus Christ, yet were bravely ready to withdraw from public life, nay, even to lay down their life, if they could not without loss of virtue retain honours, dignities, and offices.
ID, 45. This is the duty of all Catholics holding public office, though few seem to recognize it:
First and foremost, it is the duty of all Catholics worthy of the name and wishful to be known as most loving children of the Church, to reject without swerving whatever is inconsistent with so fair a title; to make use of popular institutions, so far as can honestly be done, for the advancement of truth and righteousness; to strive that liberty of action shall not transgress the bounds marked out by nature and the law of God; to endeavour to bring back all civil society to the pattern and form of Christianity which We have described. It is barely possible to lay down any fixed method by which such purposes are to be attained, because the means adopted must suit places and times widely differing from one another.
ID, 46. The New Evangelization, which is nothing less than the Real Conservatism, is "but of yesterday," but to the liberal, relativist, secularist, we must hope to one day say with Tertullian, "yet we swarm in all your institutions, we crowd your cities, islands, villages, towns, assemblies, the army itself, your wards and corporations, the palace, the senate, and the law courts." ID, 45.** The temples of the secularists, we leave to them; in them their idols, which are really disguised phalluses or sweetened Mammon, we shall not worship. There is a vacuum in public life, and someone needs to fill it. If we don't swarm and crowd, someone else will. Muslims swarm and crowd their governments; it's time that Christians swarm and crowd theirs.

"[T]he integrity of Catholic faith cannot be reconciled with opinions verging on naturalism or rationalism, the essence of which is utterly to do away with Christian institutions and to install in society the supremacy of man to the exclusion of God." ID, 47. A compartmentalization is to be rejected: "[I]t is unlawful to follow one line of conduct in private life and another in public, respecting privately the authority of the Church, but publicly rejecting it; for this would amount to joining together good and evil, and to putting man in conflict with himself; whereas he ought always to be consistent, and never in the least point nor in any condition of life to swerve from Christian virtue." ID, 47.

Tolerance of error and the exercise of great charity while we "swarm and crowd" is the best we can hope for while we strive for a renewal of hearts and a public will to reject past, deep-seated errors of political philosophy, practical politics, and customary nostrums. We must remember and hope that, "since truth when brought to light is wont, of its own nature, to spread itself far and wide, and gradually take possession of the minds of men," there may be a time when matters shall be different, when we will accept the Gospel truth in all its fullness, and reach that perfect freedom that is given to the children of God.

Until then, tolerance of error, charity, suffering, swarming and crowding, and prayer.

Indeed, a Veni Sancte Spiritus may be appropriate:
VENI, Sancte Spiritus,
reple tuorum corda fidelium,
et tui amoris in eis ignem accende.
V. Emitte Spiritum tuum et creabuntur;
R. Et renovabis faciem terrae et Civitatium Foederatarum Americae.

COME, Holy Spirit,
fill the hearts of Thy faithful
and kindle in them the fire of Thy love.
V. Send forth Thy Spirit and they shall be created
R. And Thou shalt renew the face of the earth and of the United States of America.

Let us work towards repealing the "new law," the novum ius.
*I know this from experience. My daughter's public school would not allow any philosophical teachings of Plato or Aristotle because they referred to God as first cause.
**Leo XIII quotes Tertullian's Apologeticum, 37 (in the Vatican English translation mistakenly stated as Chapter 27): "Hesterni sumus, et vestra omnia implevimus, urbes, insulas, castella, municipia, conciliabula, castra ipsa, tribus, decurias, palatium, senatum, forum . . . ."

Monday, February 14, 2011

Leo XIII's Immortale Dei: What is Caesar's? What is God's? Part 3

THE PHILOSOPHY OF THE GOSPEL had its hold on the governments of men since it had their allegiance, fed their imagination and informed their purpose. "Then it was," Leo XIII states, "that the power and divine virtue of Christian wisdom, the evangelica philosophia, the christiana sapientia, had diffused itself throughout the laws, institutions, and morals of the people, permeating all ranks and relations of civil society." ID, 21. Christ's teachings flourished among the people in Europe as those teachings received the ear and then the favor of those with the reins of civil power. Caesar had accepted Christ. Proud Caesar cast off the pretense to divinity, and the former divus bent his knee before the Lord and His Church. "Church and State were happily united in concord and friendly interchange of good offices," at least more than presently was the case in Europe. Europe's face . . . nay, Europe's heart changed and with it her face. "Christian Europe has subdued barbarous nations, and changed them from a savage to a civilized condition, from superstition to true worship." ID, 21. Not only did it conquer the internal enemies of superstition and barbarism, Christian Europe "victoriously rolled back the tide of Mohammedan conquest." It also "retained the headship of civilization," and in doing so was able to bestow on the world "the gift of true and many-sided liberty," and "numerous institutions for the solace of human suffering." ID, 21.

Portion of Stavelot Triptych showing
Conversion of Constantine

What more could have been wrought had the "agreement of the two powers been lasting," or had "obedience waited upon the authority, teaching, and counsels of the Church," and "submission been specially marked by greater and more unswerving loyalty"! How much human suffering, how much deracination, how much war could have been avoided! That the State should have parted ways from the Church was bound to bring with it evils in its wake. "When kingdom and priesthood are at one, in complete accord," the great canonist St. Ivo of Chartres* wrote to Pope Paschal II, "the world is well ruled, and the Church flourishes, and brings forth abundant fruit. But when they are at variance, not only small interests prosper not, but even things of greatest moment fall into deplorable decay."

The liberals and freethinkers scream progress, progress, progress, progress, when all there really is is decay, decay, decay, decay . . . . dilabuntur, dilabuntur, dilabuntur, dilabuntur . . . . The decay comes from rebellion, a rebellion that first roused itself against the authority of the Church and, "by natural sequence, invaded the precincts of philosophy," and from there trickled down to all classes of society entering into their mores and their hackneyed ways. This is the seed, not of the Gospel, not of the εὐαγγέλιον, the euangelion, but a seed of a rebellion, a badspel, a κακαγγέλιον or kakangelion. Like the mustard seed of the Gospel, it started small but soon germinated into a new plant that flowered into a "new conception of law," a novus ius, "which was not merely previously unknown, but was at variance on many points with not only the Christian, but even the natural law (et a iure non solum christiano, sed etiam naturali plus una ex parte discrepat)."

What is this new law, this novus ius, under which the novus ordo seclorum is guided? It is a law with the following distinguishing characteristics:
  1. All men are alike by race and nature, so that in like manner all are equal in the control of their life.
  2. Each man is "so far his own master as to be in no sense under the rule of any other individual," i.e., every man is autonomous, every man autonomos, αὐτόνομος, every man makes his own law (self-law), every man a law unto himself.
  3. Each is "free to think on every subject just as he may choose."
  4. Each is is free "to do whatever he may like to do."
  5. No man has any other right to rule over other men.
  6. Government "is nothing more nor less than the will of the people."
  7. The people, "being under the power of itself alone, is alone its own ruler."
  8. The leader selected by the people, has "not the right so much as the business of governing," which, in any event, is exercised in the people's (and not God's) name.**
ID, 24. This is the new law of the new regime. Notably absent is the mention of God:
The authority of God is passed over in silence, just as if there were no God; or as if He cared nothing for human society; or as if men, whether in their individual capacity or bound together in social relations, owed nothing to God; or as if there could be a government of which the whole origin and power and authority did not reside in God Himself. Thus, as is evident, a State becomes nothing but a multitude which is its own master and ruler. And since the people is declared to contain within itself the spring-head of all rights and of all power, it follows that the State does not consider itself bound by any kind of duty toward God.
ID, 25.

Leo XIII then addresses a modern shibboleth, and that is the what the liberals regard as a truism, and which really is not, and that is that religion is an issue of "private judgment," and that every person "is to be free to follow whatever religion her prefers, or none at all if he disapprove of all." ID, 26. We say that facilely, without any thought whatsoever for the inanity of the statement, and without regard to what it means to take that intellectual posture. Pope Leo XIII, however, puts his finger on the absurdity, nay, evil of this doctrine. It suggests, Pope Leo XIII points out, that our conscience is under no law, our conscience is exlex. It presupposes that we are, in the most interior part of our being, under no law, no governance. This is not absolute freedom under law, but an absolute vacuum of law. That is, in the area which is the most important and the most precious, the internal forum of man, there is no law: all is arbitrary, all is will, which of course means, that the internal forum is nothing since there is no ratio ordinis or ratio boni. Or what may be the same thing, we are gods, as out of nothing we make our own law: ex nihilo lex nostrum.
From this the following consequences logically flow: that the judgment of each one's conscience is independent of all law [exlex uniuscuiusque conscientiae iudicium]; that the most unrestrained opinions may be openly expressed as to the practice or omission of divine worship; and that every one has unbounded license to think whatever he chooses and to publish abroad whatever he thinks.
From mere makers of manners, we have become would-be makers of truth and right.

*The English translation in the Vatican website has a typographical error, identifying "Ivo" mistakenly as "No." St. Ivo, Bishop of Chartres (1040-1115), was and important canon lawyer. Leo XIII cites to Epistle 238 to Pope Paschal [PL 162, 246B] "Cum regnum et sacerdotium inter se conveniunt, bene regitur mundus, floret et fructificat Ecclesia. Cum vero inter se discordant, non tantum parvae res non crescunt, sed etiam magnae res miserabiliter dilabuntur."
**Compare the Prooemium of Justitian's Institutes and Digest which begin "In nomine Domini nostri Iesu Christi" ("In the name of Our Lord Jesus Christ") with the United States Constitution which begins with the words "We the People." Public and private legal instruments (e.g., wills) commonly began with the words "In nomine Dei. Amen" (In the name of God, Amen). Now they begin with something like "Know all men by these presents." The Mayflower Compact retains the old usage, as it begins with the words, "In the name of God, Amen." Christians have noted the lack of reference to God in the U. S. Constitution. Like Pope Leo XIII, and in marked distinction with the Declaration of Independence, they noticed that "[t]he authority of God is passed over in silence. just as if there were no God." ID, 25. They have considered it a defect, and throughout our history, especially during the Civil War via a group called the National Reform Association, some efforts were made by Protestant denominations to try to amend the U. S. Constitution preamble to cure the perceived defect. See Christian Amendment in Wikipedia. The proposed amendment to the Constitution would have resulted in the following preamble: "We, the People of the United States [recognizing the being and attributes of Almighty God, the Divine Authority of the Holy Scriptures, the law of God as the paramount rule, and Jesus, the Messiah, the Savior and Lord of all], in order to form a more perfect union, establish justice, insure domestic tranquility, provide for the general welfare, and secure the blessings of liberty to ourselves and to our posterity, do ordain and establish this Constitution for the United States of America." Only part of the problem would be resolved by such amendment. The "new law" also believes that the State "is not obliged to make public profession of any religion; or to inquire which of the very many religions is the only one true; or to prefer one religion to all the rest; or to show to any form of religion special favour; but, on the contrary, is bound to grant equal rights to every creed, so that public order may not be disturbed by any particular form of religious belief." It is certain that a public profession or preference or special favor to Christianity in general, but to the Catholic Church in particular, even if it would not go so far as "establishment," would be considered to a clear violation of the "establishment" clause of the 1st Amendment of the U. S. Constitution under current jurisprudence which has stiffened the Constitutional Amendment so as to adopt a Jeffersonian-crafted "wall of separation between church and state," which, in practice appears to be a wall where only one party is kept out. Of course, the words "wall of separation" or "separation of church and state" are not found in the U. S. Constitution or the Bill of Rights. They come from Thomas Jefferson's letter (January 1, 1802) to the Danbury Baptist Association where he opined that the upshot of the First Amendment was to build "a wall of separation between Church & State." The letter has been cited by the United States Supreme Court several times and thereby incorporated into its First Amendment jurisprudence and certainly into the popular imagination. In Reynolds v. United States (1879), for example, the United States Supreme Court opined that Jefferson's statements "may be accepted almost as an authoritative declaration of the scope and effect of the [First] Amendment." In Everson v. Board of Education (1947), Justice Black, writing for the Court, stated, "In the words of Thomas Jefferson, the clause against establishment of religion by law was intended to erect a wall of separation between church and state." In practice, of course, the wall has been construed in a one-way, diodic fashion almost always in favor of the State.

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)).

Saturday, February 12, 2011

Leo XIII's Immortale Dei: What is Caesar's? What is God's? Part 1

A SO-CALLED "NEW LAW" WAS AT LARGE, and this caused Pope Leo XIII to issue his encyclical Immortale Dei on November 1, 1885. In this encyclical, Leo XIII addressed the Christian doctrine of the State and the relationship between Church and State, and he opposed himself to this "new, so-called, law" which sought to aggrandize the State at the expense of the Church. "[W]herever the Church has set her foot," the pope notes, "she has straightway changed the face of things, and has attempered the moral tone of the people with a new civilization and with virtues before unknown." To attemper --to make less harsh, severe, extreme, to refine . . . to imbue with urbanity, civility . . . ita et nova urbanite imbuit. "All nations which have yielded to her sway," Pope Leo XIII claims, "have become eminent by their gentleness, their sense of justice, and the glory of their high deeds." But he recognized efforts of a number of political philosophies which shared in a common desire to have the State to separate itself from any transcendent value, specifically God and His Church, or, what is perhaps the same thing in effect if not in intention, to make itself transcendent: to bring Caesar and Christ together by getting rid of Christ. The rupture was justified by those who were self-anointed as the Enlightened in politics, promulgators of a "new law," or at least a new conception of fundamental law where Christ and His Church were excluded from the public forum. The problem of what is Caesar's and what is Christ's is solved, sort of like Alexander solved the problem of the Gordian knot, by cutting out Christ, leaving only Caesar.

It is an old saw--the propaganda of unbelievers as deep and as meritless as the Leyenda negra* against the Spaniards--that the Church is opposed to the common good, to development of peoples, or to real advancement, to real freedom, and enlightenment. "
From the very beginning Christians were harassed by slanderous accusations of this nature." ID, 2. Like Socrates, they were branded enemies of the State, corruptors of morals, even atheists relative to the civil gods manufactured by Roman hands, borrowed by them from their neighbors, or created by divinizing their emperors. Enemies of the Imperium, of the Senatus Populusque Romanum. Enemies of the Revolution. Enemies of the Know Nothing Party. Enemies of the Third Reich. Écrasez l'infâme, or something similar to it, has been said in more languages than French and in many before and after the 18th century. Even modernly, John Paul II has suggested that Christians have come to be viewed by advocates of secular democracy as "unreliable citizens."** And the false accusations, in fact calumnies againsdt Christ and his faithful, have drawn responses from St. Justin Martyr's Apologias to St. Augustine's De civitate Dei to Pope Leo XIII's Immortale Dei.

But there was something more than the old prejudice that bothered Leo XIII. There was something new in the air, or, if not in the air, in the chambers of the legislatures or the ratifiers of Constitutions: "in these latter days," Leo XIII sensed, "a novel conception of law has begun here and there to gain increase," a so-called "novum jus." This "new, so called, law" is the result, according to its propagandists, of "an age arrived at full stature," the "result of progressive liberty," SC, 2, but in reality it is nothing less than a shrugging off of the Gospel and of the natural law.

Pope Pius II (Enea Silvio Piccolomini) and Emperor Frederick III
Representing Church and State

The Gospel teaching, which is that of the natural law, can be succinctly stated by Pope Leo XIII:
Man's natural instinct moves him to live in civil society [Insitum homini natura est, ut in civili societate vivat], for he cannot, if dwelling apart, provide himself with the necessary requirements of life, nor procure the means of developing his mental and moral faculties. Hence, it is divinely ordained that he should lead his life-be it family, or civil-with his fellow men, amongst whom alone his several wants can be adequately supplied. But, as no society can hold together unless some one be over all, directing all to strive earnestly for the common good, every body politic must have a ruling authority, and this authority, no less than society itself, has its source in nature, and has, consequently, God for its Author [a natura proptereaque a Deo ipso oriatur auctore]. Hence, it follows that all public power must proceed from God. For God alone is the true and supreme Lord of the world. Everything, without exception, must be subject to Him, and must serve him, so that whosoever holds the right to govern holds it from one sole and single source, namely, God, the sovereign Ruler of all. "There is no power but from God." [Rom. 13:1]
ID, 3.

The Church is indifferent to the mode or form of government, as it should adapt to the needs of the people and their cultures and their legitimate wishes. But there is a limit, a proviso. Whatever government's form, it must conform to the "nature" of government; namely, the agents of government "must ever bear in mind that God is the paramount ruler of the world, and must set Him before themselves as their exemplar and law in the administration of the State." ID, 4.

There are certain qualities that government, to be true to its nature, must have according to Christian philosophy of the State:
  1. It must dispense evenhanded justice [imperium iustum];
  2. It must paternal and tempered rather than dominating and severe [neque herile, sed quas paternum];
  3. It must exist for the well-being of its citizens, that is, the common good [gerendum vero est ad utilitatem civium . . . ad commune omnium bonum constituta sit];
  4. It must not be set up for the advantage of an individual or a group [neqe ullo pacto committendum, unius ut, vel paucorum commodo serviat civilis auctoritas]; and
  5. It must recognize God as the paramount ruler of the world and as exemplar and law in the administration of the State [in societate civili voluit esse principatum, quem qui gererent, ii imaginem quamdam divinae in genus humanum potestatis divinaeque providentiae referrent].
If these requirements are met, then "will the majesty of the law meet with the dutiful and willing homage of the people," for both should recognize their duty to God who is the dispenser of justice, both in the exercise of power for the common good and for justice and in the submission or obedience to that power. As important as it is for the ruler to recognize that power comes from God, so it is for the citizen to recognize it. ID, 5.

The State, therefore, cannot be oblivious to its duties to God and to religion:
As a consequence, the State, constituted as it is, is clearly bound to act up to the manifold and weighty duties linking it to God, by the public profession of religion. Nature and reason, which command every individual devoutly to worship God in holiness, because we belong to Him and must return to Him, since from Him we came, bind also the civil community by a like law. For, men living together in society are under the power of God no less than individuals are, and society, no less than individuals, owes gratitude to God who gave it being and maintains it and whose ever-bounteous goodness enriches it with countless blessings. Since, then, no one is allowed to be remiss in the service due to God, and since the chief duty of all men is to cling to religion in both its reaching and practice-not such religion as they may have a preference for, but the religion which God enjoins, and which certain and most clear marks show to be the only one true religion -it is a public crime to act as though there were no God. So, too, is it a sin for the State not to have care for religion as a something beyond its scope, or as of no practical benefit; or out of many forms of religion to adopt that one which chimes in with the fancy; for we are bound absolutely to worship God in that way which He has shown to be His will.
ID, 6. By natural law, the State has the same obligation to God as the individual.

To what religion, out of the many that may be chosen, must, by the natural law, the State be inclined?
Now, it cannot be difficult to find out which is the true religion, if only it be sought with an earnest and unbiased mind; for proofs are abundant and striking. We have, for example, the fulfillment of prophecies, miracles in great numbers, the rapid spread of the faith in the midst of enemies and in face of overwhelming obstacles, the witness of the martyrs, and the like. From all these it is evident that the only true religion is the one established by Jesus Christ Himself, and which He committed to His Church to protect and to propagate.

For the only-begotten Son of God established on earth a society which is called the Church, and to it He handed over the exalted and divine office which He had received from His Father, to be continued through the ages to come. "As the Father hath sent Me, I also send you."' "Behold I am with you all days, even to the consummation of the world." [Matt. 28:20] Consequently, as Jesus Christ came into the world that men "might have life and have it more abundantly," [John 10:10] so also has the Church for its aim and end the eternal salvation of souls, and hence it is so constituted as to open wide its arms to all mankind, unhampered by any limit of either time or place. "Preach ye the Gospel to every creature." [Mark 16:15]
ID, 7-8.

The Church is a perfect society, just as civil society, one founded on divine right, and natural right enlightened by Grace:
This society [the Church] is made up of men, just as civil society is, and yet is supernatural and spiritual, on account of the end for which it was founded, and of the means by which it aims at attaining that end. Hence, it is distinguished and differs from civil society, and, what is of highest moment, it is a society chartered as of right divine, perfect in its nature and in its title, to possess in itself and by itself, through the will and loving kindness of its Founder, all needful provision for its maintenance and action. And just as the end at which the Church aims is by far the noblest of ends, so is its authority the most exalted of all authority, nor can it be looked upon as inferior to the civil power, or in any manner dependent upon it. . . . it is the Church, and not the State, that is to be man's guide to heaven. It is to the Church that God has assigned the charge of seeing to, and legislating for, all that concerns religion; of teaching all nations; of spreading the Christian faith as widely as possible; in short, of administering freely and without hindrance, in accordance with her own judgment, all matters that fall within its competence.
ID, 10, 11.

Christ has transformed the world. First, by coming. Second, by His rejection of the temptation of political power, the power of the State, of the kingdoms of this world.*** (cf. Matthew 4:10) Second, by founding His Church upon Peter. Third, by giving her His authority and jurisdiction. Fourth, by separating the functions of civil society and its organ of government, the State, and the functions of this religious society, the Church. "Render unto Caesar . . . ." "All authority in heaven and on earth has been given to me . . . ." "And I assign to you, as my Father assigned to me, a kingdom . . . ." (Mark 12:17, Matthew 28:18, Luke 22:29)


*"La Leyenda negra," or the "black legend," is the negative animus and bias frequently found in histories of Spain, especially, but not exclusively, in the works of English Protestant historians. The reader is referred to the work by Philip Wayne Powell entitled Tree of Hate: Propaganda and Prejudices Affecting United States Relations with the Hispanic World (New York: Basic Books, 1971). In his book, Inquisition (Berkely: University of California Press, 1989), 131, Edward Peters describes the "black legend" as "[a]n image of Spain circulated through late sixteenth-century Europe, borne by means of political and religious propaganda that blackened the characters of Spaniards and their ruler to such an extent that Spain became the symbol of all forces of repression, brutality, religious and political intolerance, and intellectual and artistic backwardness for the next four centuries. Spaniards . . . have termed this process and the image that resulted from it as ‘The Black Legend,’ la leyenda negra." The term was apparently first used by the Spanish historian Julián Juderías in his 1914 book La Leyenda Negra.
**"Those who are convinced that they know the truth and firmly adhere to it are considered unreliable from a democratic point of view, since they do not accept that truth is determined by the majority, or that it is subject to variation according to different political trends." Centesimus Annus, No. 46.
***The Satanic-inspired temptation to assume political power was clearly rejected by Christ. This temptation was not, however, rejected by Muhammad who succumbed to its blandishments, and so political and religious authority were both grasped by him, and we find them both unified thereafter in traditional Islam, particularly in its notion of the caliphate. As explained by Bernard Lewis in his The Political Language of Islam (Chicago: University of Chicago Press, 1988), 2:
In classical Islam there was no distinction between Church and state. In Christendom the existence of two authorities goes back to the founder, who enjoined his followers to render unto Caesar the things which are Caesar's and to God the things which are God's. Throughout the history of Christendom there have been two powers: God and Caesar, represented in this world by sacerdotium and regnum, or, in modern terms, church and state. They may be associated, they may be separated; they may be in harmony, they may be in conflict; one may dominate, the other may dominate; one may interfere, the other may protest, as we are now learning again. But always there are two, the spiritual and the temporal powers, each with its own laws and jurisdictions, its own structure and hierarchy. In pre-westernized Islam, there were not two powers but one, and the question of separation, therefore, could not arise. . . . At the present time, the very notion of a secular jurisdiction and authority--of a so-to-speak unsanctified part of life that lies outside the scope of religious law and those who uphold it--is seen as an impiety, indeed as the ultimate betrayal of Islam. The righting of this wrong is the principal aim of Islamic revolutionaries and, in general, of those described as Islamic fundamentalists.
The conception of "Church" and "State" is as foreign to traditional Islam (though for different reasons) as it was foreign to Caesar of the Romans or even to the Protestants and Secularists who, through various doctrines or practices, subordinate the Church to the State [E.g., Luther's doctrine of "two kingdoms" and "one sword," and rejection of the Gelasian doctrine of "two swords." Calvin's notion of a "theocratic" state in Geneva. King Henry VIII's assumption of headship of the Church. Thomas Erastus and his Erastian doctrine that the church was under the dominion of the civil government. John Rawls's efforts to remove any references to "comprehensive doctrines" in public political discourse. ]

Thursday, February 10, 2011

Natural Law Limits of State: Leo XIII's Sapientiae Christianae, Part 2

THE DESERT FATHERS TALK ABOUT WATCHFULNESS (νήψις or nēpsis) and "guarding the heart" in the spiritual life, and Leo XIII advocates just such an attitude on the part of the Christian who confronts a civil society headed by a State that has ostracized God from everyday life and law.
Under such evil circumstances therefore, each one is bound in conscience to watch over himself, taking all means possible to preserve the faith inviolate in the depths of his soul, avoiding all risks, and arming himself on all occasions, especially against the various specious sophisms rife among non-believers.

His igitur tam iniquis rebus, primum omnium respicere se quisque debet, vehementerque curare, ut alte comprehensam animo fidem intenta custodia tueatur, cavendo pericula, nominatimque contra varias sophismatum fallacias semper armatus.
SC, 13. This watchfulness is to be an informed and faithful watchfulness, and it requires a "deep study of Christian doctrine," an imbuing of the mind with a knowledge of "those matters that are interwoven with religion and life and lie within the range of reason." It requires, moreover, or perhaps principally, an increase in faith: "the suppliant and humble entreaty of the apostles ought constantly to be addressed to God: 'Increase our faith.'"* Adauge nobis fidem!

Adauge nobis fidem! God will give us faith if we pray for it. "And I say to you, Ask, and it shall be given you; seek, and you shall find; knock, and it shall be opened to you. For everyone that asketh receiveth; and he that seeketh findeth; and to him that knocketh, it shall be opened." Luke 11:9-10. God does not give stones when we ask for bread, or scorpions when we ask for an egg. The gift of faith which is sure to come upon the asking of it will increase commensurately our responsibilities: to show forth one's faith, to instruct and encourage others of the faithful, and to repel the attacks of unbelievers.** Then, in a remarkable statement, Leo XIII states: "Christians are, moreover, born for combat." Christiani ad dimicationem nati! Leo XIII thus enjoins Christians to close ranks, to bind themselves closer to the Church, to put aside their minor differences and strive toward a harmonious "union of minds and uniformity of action," so they may be more effective in confronting the enemies of the Faith and their strongholds. SC, 18.

Adauge nobis fidem! Reason has its place. But reason alone is not enough in confronting the principalities of this world. And if it ever was, it certainly is not now. One is reminded of Blessed John Henry Cardinal Newman's statement in his The Idea of a University:

Quarry the granite rock with razors, or moor the vessel with a thread of silk; then may you hope with such keen and delicate instruments as human knowledge and human reason to contend against those giants, the passion and the pride of man.

Listen to the message of Leo XIII. It is the same:
In the case of those who profess to take reason as their sole guide, there would hardly be found, if, indeed, there ever could be found, unity of doctrine. Indeed, the art of knowing things as they really are is exceedingly difficult; moreover, the mind of man is by nature feeble and drawn this way and that by a variety of opinions, and not seldom led astray by impressions coming from without; and, furthermore, the influence of the passions oftentimes takes away, or certainly at least diminishes, the capacity for grasping the truth.
SC, 20.

Adauge nobis fidem! To have that unanimity in action which the unity of truth requires, Christians need to rely, with greater assurance, on the teachings of the Church, "by whose authority and under whose guidance they are conscious that they have beyond question attained to truth." SC, 21. There is required a "complete submission and obedience of will to the Church and to the Roman Pontiff, as to God Himself." SC, 22. This unanimity of Faith, assured by an intimate, deep, and abiding communion with the Church and the Church's magisterial authority, especially as found in the Pope, is "the saving principle whence proceed spontaneously one and the same will in all, and one and the same tenor of action." But more than mere submission to doctrine is required. Christians are to douse themselves, nay, immerse themselves in the Church: "it is necessary to enter more fully into the nature of the Church," a "divinely established and admirably constituted society." SC, 25. We ought to be governed by the Church, not only externally, but internally. The full breadth of our mind, heart, soul, and strength ought to be governed by the Church. We ought to sentire cum ecclesia!*** Ultimately, the State has no business in soulcraft separate and apart from the Church: In soulcraft, the Church is our mother: "No one can, however, without risk to faith, foster any doubt as to the Church alone having been invested with such power of governing souls as to exclude altogether the civil authority." SC, 27. We are therefore never linked or subordinate to party:
The Church, therefore, possesses the right to exist and to protect herself by institutions and laws in accordance with her nature. And since she not only is a perfect society in herself, but superior to every other society of human growth, she resolutely refuses, promoted alike by right and by duty, to link herself to any mere party and to subject herself to the fleeting exigencies of politics. On like grounds, the Church, the guardian always of her own right and most observant of that of others, holds that it is not her province to decide which is the best amongst many diverse forms of government and the civil institutions of Christian States, and amid the various kinds of State rule she does not disapprove of any, provided the respect due to religion and the observance of good morals be upheld. By such standard of conduct should the thoughts and mode of acting of every Catholic be directed.
SC, 28.

*Luke 18:5.
**Leo XIII cites to St. Thomas Aquinas: Summa Theologiae, IIª-IIae q. 3 a. 2 ad 2: "ubi fides periclitatur, quilibet tenetur fidem suam aliis propalare, vel ad instructionem aliorum fidelium sive confirmationem, vel ad reprimendum infidelium insultationem."

***Leo XIII does not use the notion of sentire cum ecclesia, but it is implicit in what he is advocating in his encyclical. The notion of "sentire cum ecclesia" is a phrase that may be attributed to St. Ignatius of Loyola. In his Spiritual Exercises, St. Ignatius provides "Eighteen Rules of Sentire Cum Ecclesia": (1) All judgment laid aside, we ought to have our mind ready and prompt to obey, in all, the true Spouse of Christ our Lord, which is our holy Mother the Church Hierarchical. (2) To praise confession to a Priest, and the reception of the most Holy Sacrament of the Altar once in the year, and much more each month, and much better from week to week, with the conditions required and due. (3) To praise the hearing of Mass often, likewise hymns, psalms, and long prayers, in the church and out of it; likewise the hours set at the time fixed for each Divine Office and for all prayer and all Canonical Hours. (4) To praise much Religious Orders, virginity and continence, and not so much marriage as any of these. (5) To praise vows of Religion, of obedience, of poverty, of chastity and of other perfections of supererogation. And it is to be noted that as the vow is about the things which approach to Evangelical perfection, a vow ought not to be made in the things which withdraw from it, such as to be a merchant, or to be married, etc. (6) To praise relics of the Saints, giving veneration to them and praying to the Saints; and to praise Stations, pilgrimages, Indulgences, pardons, Cruzadas, and candles lighted in the churches. (7) To praise Constitutions about fasts and abstinence, as of Lent, Ember Days, Vigils, Friday and Saturday; likewise penances, not only interior, but also exterior. (8) To praise the ornaments and the buildings of churches; likewise images, and to venerate them according to what they represent. (9) Finally, to praise all precepts of the Church, keeping the mind prompt to find reasons in their defense and in no manner against them. (10) We ought to be more prompt to find good and praise as well the Constitutions and recommendations as the ways of our Superiors. Because, although some are not or have not been such, to speak against them, whether preaching in public or discoursing before the common people, would rather give rise to fault-finding and scandal than profit; and so the people would be incensed against their Superiors, whether temporal or spiritual. So that, as it does harm to speak evil to the common people of Superiors in their absence, so it can make profit to speak of the evil ways to the persons themselves who can remedy them. (11) To praise positive and scholastic learning. Because, as it is more proper to the Positive Doctors, as St. Jerome, St. Augustine and St. Gregory, etc., to move the heart to love and serve God our Lord in everything; so it is more proper to the Scholastics, as St. Thomas, St. Bonaventure, and to the Master of the Sentences, etc., to define or explain for our times the things necessary for eternal salvation; and to combat and explain better all errors and all fallacies. For the Scholastic Doctors, as they are more modern, not only help themselves with the true understanding of the Sacred Scripture and of the Positive and holy Doctors, but also, they being enlightened and clarified by the Divine virtue, help themselves by the Councils, Canons and Constitutions of our holy Mother the Church. (12) We ought to be on our guard in making comparison of those of us who are alive to the blessed passed away, because error is committed not a little in this; that is to say, in saying, this one knows more than St. Augustine; he is another, or greater than, St. Francis; he is another St. Paul in goodness, holiness, etc. (13) To be right in everything, we ought always to hold that the white which I see, is black, if the Hierarchical Church so decides it, believing that between Christ our Lord, the Bridegroom, and the Church, His Bride, there is the same Spirit which governs and directs us for the salvation of our souls. Because by the same Spirit and our Lord Who gave the ten Commandments, our holy Mother the Church is directed and governed. (14) Although there is much truth in the assertion that no one can save himself without being predestined and without having faith and grace; we must be very cautious in the manner of speaking and communicating with others about all these things. (15) We ought not, by way of custom, to speak much of predestination; but if in some way and at some times one speaks, let him so speak that the common people may not come into any error, as sometimes happens, saying: Whether I have to be saved or condemned is already determined, and no other thing can now be, through my doing well or ill; and with this, growing lazy, they become negligent in the works which lead to the salvation and the spiritual profit of their souls. (16) In the same way, we must be on our guard that by talking much and with much insistence of faith, without any distinction and explanation, occasion be not given to the people to be lazy and slothful in works, whether before faith is formed in charity or after. (17) Likewise, we ought not to speak so much with insistence on grace that the poison of discarding liberty be engendered. So that of faith and grace one can speak as much as is possible with the Divine help for the greater praise of His Divine Majesty, but not in such way, nor in such manners, especially in our so dangerous times, that works and free will receive any harm, or be held for nothing. (18) Although serving God our Lord much out of pure love is to be esteemed above all; we ought to praise much the fear of His Divine Majesty, because not only filial fear is a thing pious and most holy, but even servile fear—when the man reaches nothing else better or more useful—helps much to get out of mortal sin. And when he is out, he easily comes to filial fear, which is all acceptable and grateful to God our Lord: as being at one with the Divine Love.

Wednesday, February 9, 2011

Natural Law Limits of State: Leo XIII's Sapientiae Christianae, Part 1

CHRISTIANS ARE CITIZENS of two perfect societies as long as they are pilgrims on earth: the Church and the State. They are no different than other men, though--in contrast to their fellows--they also seek after the City of God. They also live in the City of Man. They, like their fellow citizens who may not be of the household of faith, are πολιτικά ζῷα, politika zōa, political animals, homines politici. Under the natural law--like their fellows--they have obligations to the common good. It is these obligations of the Christian citizen that Pope Leo XIII addresses in his 1890 encyclical Sapientiae Christianae. Christians had a public role when Christianity, as the informer of civil institutions and of law, was on the wane in the 19th century. Christians have a doubly-urgent public role when the universal message of Christianity and the universal natural law which reaches across all confessional boundaries are all but gone in the 21sthcentury as informers of civil institutions and law. They have both an evangelical obligation and an obligation under the natural law to speak to universal supernatural and natural truths, and to see that the laws of the State, if they do not conform to these truths, at least do not contradict them.

We are called to re-evangelize, re-convert our civil institutions. This does not mean we will be loved any more or hated any less than the early Christians were by their Roman fellows. We will, without doubt, be thrown to the maw of lions or the maw of the press, rabid liberal commentators, ridiculing night hosts, and vituperative comedians. But the line must be drawn in the sand. It is time to refuse to live etsi Deus non daretur, as if God did not exist. It is time to live veluti si Deus daretur, as if God did exist. It is time to tell our elected public officials so. And if there are organic laws and constitutions that--as a result of the tampering of zealous secularist men and women in black robes who parade under the name of "Justice" but do nothing other than mock it--have been suppressed or construed so as to prevent it (though these expressly talk of "Nature and Nature's God" or of "establishment" and not a "wall of separation"), it is time to have that changed. It's time to "throw the bastards out" and time to throw the bastard interpretations of law out. It's time for a political defenestration. Nothing less than the survival of our way of life and charity to our fellow men demands it.

As then Cardinal Ratzinger stated the day before John Paul II's death at the convent of Saint Scholastica in Subiaco:

The attempt, carried to the extreme, to manage human affairs disdaining God completely leads us increasingly to the edge of the abyss, to man's ever greater isolation from reality. We must reverse the axiom of the Enlightenment and say: Even one who does not succeed in finding the way of accepting God, should, nevertheless, seek to live and to direct his life "veluti si Deus daretur," as if God existed.*

To put it plainly, atheists should be made to live as if God exists;** it is not Christians who should be made to live as if God does not exist so as to appease the errant atheist. The reason Christians can so insist is because structuring our life, or civil institutions, as if God existed is a demand of the natural moral law, a demand that is universal and reaches across confessional divisions. The existence of God is, by the light of natural reason, sufficiently probable, sufficient real, to justify, by reason alone, structuring society "under God." On the contrary, to form governments and to fashion laws as if God did not exist is to live an unreal life, a law contrary to reason.

Pope Leo XIII states in the beginning of his encyclical Sapientiae Christianae:
To contemplate God, and to tend to Him, is the supreme law of the life of man. For we were created in the divine image and likeness, and are impelled, by our very nature, to the enjoyment of our Creator. But not by bodily motion or effort do we make advance toward God, but through acts of the soul, that is, through knowledge and love. For, indeed, God is the first and supreme truth, and the mind alone feeds on truth. God is perfect holiness and the sovereign good, to which only the will can desire and attain, when virtue is its guide.

Deum spectare, atque ad ipsum contendere, suprema lex est vitae hominum: qui ad imaginem conditi similitudinemque divinam natura ipsa ad auctorem suum potiundum vehementer incitantur. Atqui non motu aliquo cursuque corporis tenditur ad Deum, sed iis quae sunt animi, cognitione atque affectu. Est enim Deus prima ac suprema veritas, nec nisi mens veritate alitur: est idem perfecta sanctitas summumque bonorum, quo sola voluntas aspirare et accedere, duce virtute, potest.
SC, 1. The "supreme law of the life of man," is to "contemplate God," Deum spectare . . . suprema lex est vitae hominum. And this truth relates to each individual man, but it also relates to man-in-society, the ζῷον πολιτικόν (zōon politikon), the political man, the homo politicus. "What applies to individual men applies equally to society--domestic alike and civil." Quod autem de singulis hominibus, idem de societate tum domestica tum etiam civili intelligendum. SC, 2. So if the contemplation of God is the supreme law of the life of man, then what business has man building domestic and civil structures that ignore such supreme law? What business do Christians have in helping the misguided men building institutional structures that ignore such a supreme law?

Tower of Babel by the Meister der Weltenchronik (ca. 1370)
(Bayerische Staatsbibliothek, Munich)

Are we to build a Tower of Babel? No. The common good does not require us to build Tower of Babels. Rather, the common good requires us to spurn such projects. Pope Leo XIII makes this clear:
Nature did not form society in order that man should seek in it his last end, but in order that in it and through it he should find suitable aids whereby to attain to his own perfection. If, then, a political government strives after external advantages only, and the achievement of a cultured and prosperous life; if, in administering public affairs, it is wont to put God aside, and show no solicitude for the upholding of moral law, it deflects woefully from its right course and from the injunctions of nature; nor should it be accounted as a society or a community of men, but only as the deceitful imitation or appearance of a society.

Non enim ob hanc caussam genuit natura societatem ut ipsam homo sequeretur tamquam finem, sed ut in ea et per eam adjumenta ad perfectionem sui apta reperiret. Si qua igitur civitas nihil praeter commoditates externas vitaeque cultum cum elegantia et copia persequatur, si Deum in administranda republica negligere, nec leges curare morales consueverit, deterrime aberrat ab instituto suo at praescriptione naturae, neque tam est ea societas hominum et communitas putanda, quam fallax imitatio simulatioque societatis.
SC, 2. A society whose project is to form institutions of government and promulgate law that neglects God or the nature God established, and which shows no solicitude in conserving the moral law, is a society or a community of men in name only; nay, not even in name only. Rather, such a society is a "deceitful imitation or appearance of a society." It is an anti-Society, an ape of society.

When living within a State that ignores the natural moral law, the Christian is placed in a quandary in which he ought not to be. The Christian, like all men, ought to walk in conformity with the natural law which "enjoins us to love devotedly and to defend the country in which we had birth, and in which we were brought up." SC, 5. (Similarly, a Catholic will have a love, both natural and supernatural, for his Church, who has been the custodian of his soul and his soul's second birth.) In addition, the Catholic will have a natural and supernatural love for God. Since the ordered natural love of one's country and the natural and supernatural love of God and His Church stem from the same principle, they--like reason and faith--ought to complement each other, not detract from each other:
Moreover, if we would judge aright, the supernatural love for the Church and the natural love of our own country proceed from the same eternal principle, since God Himself is their Author and originating Cause. Consequently, it follows that between the duties they respectively enjoin, neither can come into collision with the other.
SC, 6. For that reason:
Wherefore, to love both countries, that of earth below and that of heaven above, yet in such mode that the love of our heavenly surpass the love of our earthly home, and that human laws be never set above the divine law, is the essential duty of Christians, and the fountainhead, so to say, from which all other duties spring.

Ambas itaque patrias unumquemque diligere, alteram naturae, alteram civitatis caelestis, ita tamen ut huius, quam illius habeatur caritas antiquior, nec unquam Dei iuribus iura humana anteponantur, maximum est christianorum officium, itemque velut fons quidam, unde alia officia nascuntur.
SC, 11.

Conflicts, if they arise, arise because the State assumes powers that are not its powers to assume or deprecates and ignores those realities which it ought not. By the very nature of things, however, devotion to God and His Church ought to precede--and inform--the love of one's country. "As to which should be preferred no one ought to balance for an instant." Uter vero sit anteponendus, dubitare nemo debet. SC, 7. Patriotism is not a virtue that rises above Faith, Hope, and Charity, but is a virtue that flourishes beneath them. The flag of patriotism should be beneath the flag of faith, just like a state flag should be placed beneath the U.S. flag in accordance with flag protocol. "It is a high crime (scelus est) indeed to withdraw allegiance from God in order to please men, an act of consummate wickedness (nefas) to break the laws of Jesus Christ, in order to yield obedience to earthly rulers, or, under pretext of keeping the civil law, to ignore the rights of the Church." SC, 7.

The State must recognize the proper definition of law and act within its confines:
Law is of its very essence a mandate of right reason, proclaimed by a properly constituted authority, for the common good. But true and legitimate authority is void of sanction, unless it proceed from God, the supreme Ruler and Lord of all. The Almighty alone can commit power to a man over his fellow men;*** nor may that be accounted as right reason which is in disaccord with truth and with divine reason; nor that held to be true good which is repugnant to the supreme and unchangeable good, or that wrests aside and draws away the wills of men from the charity of God.

Non est lex, nisi iussio rectae rationis a potestate legitima in bonum commune perlata. Sed vera ac legitima potestas nulla est, nisi a Deo summo principe dominoque omnium proficiscatur, qui mandare homini in homines imperium solus ipse potest: neque est recta ratio putanda, quae cum veritate dissentiat et ratione divina: neque verum bonum, quod summo atque incommutabili bono repugnet, vel a caritate Dei torqueat hominum atque abducat voluntates.
SC, 8.

Modernly, man suffers from hubris, a hubris spawned from his scientific prowess. "From the fact that it has been vouchsafed to human reason to snatch from nature, through the investigations of science, many of her treasured secrets and to apply them befittingly to the divers requirements of life, men have become possessed with so arrogant a sense of their own powers." SC, 12. This arrogance has led men to think that such scientific, empirical principles can be applied to social life; therefore, through their materialism and empiricism, they elbow God out from the public square. "Led away by this delusion, they make over to human nature the dominion of which they think God has been despoiled." Wed to the world of nature alone, to the the physical here-and-now, and refusing to entertain the thought that there may be a supernatural world, a metaphysical world of above-here-and-beyond now, the structure their entire political and social philosophies as if nature was all there was, and as if the author of nature did not exist:
[T]hey maintain, we must seek the principle and rule of all truth; from nature, they aver, alone spring, and to it should be referred, all the duties that religious feeling prompts. Hence, they deny all revelation from on high, and all fealty due to the Christian teaching of morals as well as all obedience to the Church, and they go so far as to deny her power of making laws and exercising every other kind of right, even disallowing the Church any place among the civil institutions of the commonweal.
SC, 12.

With such underlying philosophical principles, these men "lay hands on the rudder of the State, in order that the legislation may the more easily be adapted to these principles, and the morals of the people influenced in accordance with them." SC, 12.

Disorder thus injected into the system through the hands of unscrupulous, grasping men that are heedless of God and the supernatural verities, what is the Christian to do?


*For a text of Cardinal Ratzinger's speech, see Cardinal Ratzinger On Europe's Crisis of Culture at
**This, of course, does not mean the atheist must be forcibly converted, something altogether impossible anyway. We are talking about public and civil structures,
external fora, not matters relating to the internal forum of conscience.
***In the English translation of the encyclical there is a footnote, not contained in the Latin text, which states: "Note the extreme importance of this principle; it justifies the doctrine according to which the only conceivable foundation of political authority must be divine in origin."

Tuesday, February 8, 2011

Natural Law of Marriage: Arcanum divinae sapientia

THERE IS NO STATE IN THE WORLD that recognizes Christian marriage and that enforces its law in all its purity. Indeed, there is not a state in the world that recognizes the natural law of marriage. Every nation in the West has abandoned the teachings of Christ and His Church on marriage, those that pertain to the divine law and even those that pertain to the natural law. There is no nation in the East that, in its laws, pays the Lord's teachings on marriage any heed, although they may, in some respects pay greater respect to the natural law on marriage than the West. In the West, the discrepancy between the natural law of marriage and the positive law is the result of the secular State's intentional rejection of the public role of Christ (the reign of Christ the King) and the jurisdiction of the Church over those areas of her competence and then later an intentional rejection of any notion of natural law. In the East, the public role of Christ has never had to be rejected since it never was institutionalized as it had been in the West.

Marriage, and its basis in natural law, is addressed by Pope Leo XIII in his encyclical Arcanum divinae sapientia. This encyclical was published in 1880. It is written with the intention of addressing the secular state's arrogation of rights over marriage. As Leo XIII put it:
But, now, there is a spreading wish to supplant natural and divine law by human law; and hence has begun a gradual extinction of that most excellent ideal of marriage which nature herself had impressed on the soul of man, and sealed, as it were, with her own seal.

Sed quia modo passim libuit humanum ius in locum naturalis et divini supponere, deleri non solum coepit matrimonii species ac notio praestantissima, quam in animis hominum impresserat et quasi consignaverat natura.
AD, 27.

The much vaunted principle of "separation of Church and State" in the modern, liberal West in practice means "removal of Church from State," that is, removal of the Church from any public, civil role, including those areas where she has competence and jurisdiction by divine appointment. Marriage is one of those areas. As the State has exercised more power over marriage, it has arrogated to itself the right to define it, and, ignoring its fundamental nature, has allowed such corruptions to enter into the positive laws of marriage such as divorce and remarriage, and serial polygamy. In some instances, the modern secular liberal state has even considered homosexual unions as "marriages"* (which is about the same as legislating that "cats" shall henceforth be considered "dogs"). The State, in fact, has obviously decided that marriage is nothing but convention, to be defined at will, without reference to its fundamental nature or to God who instituted marriage.

As part of this process of usurpation, liberals and secularists have sought to restrict the rights of the Church in the area of marriage, to "bring it [marriage] within the contracted sphere of those rights which, having been instituted by man, are ruled and administered by the civil jurisprudence of the community." AD, 7. Moderns "attribute all power over marriage to civil rulers, and allow none whatever to the Church," except, perhaps by courtesy. "[W]hen the Church exercises any such power, they think that she acts either by favor of the civil authority or to its injury." "Now is the time, they [the modern secularists whom Leo XIII calls naturalists or those who divinize the State] say, for the heads of the State to vindicate their rights unflinchingly, and to do their best to settle all that relates to marriage according as to them seems good." AD, 7.

Since the 1800s, the naturalists and secularists have been remarkably successful at dismantling the natural institution of marriage. And in supplanting the role of God and the Church, modern secularists have put man in control of marriage, which means that they have rejected the role of God and the role of nature of marriage. This is necessarily the case because marriage is not something instituted by man, but rather is something instituted by God in nature: non ab hominibus acceptum, sed natura insitum. AD, 19. It is this fundamental liberal and secular proposition--that man and his political institutions have authority over marriage, i.e., that marriage is nothing but convention--that allows the absurd discussions over whether the State through the judiciary, or through the legislative, or even through the democratic process can define marriage as something that occurs between two people of the same sex. Does no one see the arrogance of the State--its legislators, its judges, or its people--in suggesting that it has such authority? In the public debate, most seem to accede that the State--acting through legislators or judges--or the people--acting through a vote--have authority over this natural institution.

However, no human, singly or in the aggregate, and no human civil institution (including the State) have power over the fundamental nature of marriage. The Church alone has Christ's authority in the area of marriage, and that power does not include any power to change its fundamental nature. Christ exercised jurisdiction over marriage. It was Christ's by right. That power was not given Christ by the State. Nor was it taken by Christ from the State. "It would, for instance, be incredible and altogether absurd," observes Pope Leo XIII, "to assume that Christ our Lord condemned the long-standing practice of polygamy and divorce by authority delegated to Him by the procurator of the province, or the principal ruler of the Jews." AD, 21. Leo XIII observes further: "And it would be equally extravagant to think that, when the Apostle Paul taught that divorces and incestuous marriages were not lawful, it was because Tiberius, Caligula, and Nero agreed with him or secretly commanded him so to teach." No man in his senses could ever be persuaded that the Church made so many laws about the holiness and indissolubility of marriage . . . by power received from Roman emperors, most hostile to the Christian name, whose strongest desire was to destroy by violence and murder the rising Church of Christ" AD, 21. Manifestly, both Christ and then subsequently the Church exercised fundamental jurisdiction and authority over marriage over and against any civil authority because they had it.

In fact, the natural law on marriage is an area where the Church, as custodian and expositor of the natural law, speaks for all mankind.** She speaks with Christ's authority to further Christ's mission. Christ's mission, as St. Paul puts it, was to "divinely renew the world, which was sinking, as it were, with length of years into decline." AD, 1. Christus in terris erat perfecturus, eo spectavit, ut mundum, quasi vetustate senescentem, Ipse per se et in se divinitus instauraret. The Church was founded by the Lord with his mission:
In order that these unparalleled benefits might last as long as men should be found on earth, He entrusted to His Church the continuance of His work; and, looking to future times, He commanded her to set in order whatever might have become deranged in human society, and to restore whatever might have fallen into ruin.

Quo vero tam singularia beneficia, quamdiu essent homines, tamdiu in terris permanerent, Ecclesiam constituit vicariam muneris sui, eamque iussit, in futurum prospiciens, si quid esset in hominum societate perturbatum, ordinare; si quid collapsum, resituere.
AD, 2. The collapsed world, or at least part of it, for a time, grew young, it enjoyed "a new form and fresh beauty" to which Christ restored it, Christ, who took away the effects of the world's "time-worn age." Over centuries, the Roman and Barbarian laws on marriage were modified to conform to the natural law and the Gospel teaching. At one time a famous writer could say with but minimal controversy, Europe is the Faith and the Faith is Europe, and it would have included Europe's law on marriage. But this world made young grew older again and forgot the Lord and His Church who brought joy to its youth, and indeed not only brought joy to its youth, but brought it youth. It rejected its Christian patrimony, first by rejecting the Church, then by rejecting Christ, then by rejecting God, and the finally by rejecting Nature herself. Thus in stages it dismantled Christendom, disassembled Christian rule, and dissipated its moral capital, a moral capital hard-earned by thousands of popes, bishops, pious kings and queens and princes and princesses, monks and nuns and friars, and millions of laymen who had cooperated in the reign of Christ that clambered over the body of a dying paganism.

What this new neo-pagan worldview saw as progress was, in many respects, and in many important respects, really regress. The West was like a foolish man who--losing his hair, his muscle tone, his teeth, and his eyesight and hearing--kept insisting that there was progress, increasing vitality, and growing resiliency in his life. But all this was false. Like some foolish old man dying his hair dark, combing it over his balding head, and wearing youthful clothes, the newly secularly-accoutered West has really just become old again, but it looks young because it has new technology: useful stuff such as nuclear bombs, Viagra, latex condoms, RU-486, and abortion clinics. But in fact, it has lost both youth and youth's resilient joy, and it has re-collapsed, like a senile old man, into the senescence of relativism, skepticism, and self-indulgence. The Christian bang is gone. The world is reduced to a whimper. Compare St. Francis of Assisi to Charlie Sheen and you see how the world's gone.

This is not how it is supposed to be. Christ's restorative mission was (and is) aimed at the restoration of the entire man, both natural and supernatural. So Christ's mission benefited (and benefits) all men even if they were not members of His Church.
Although the divine renewal we have spoken of chiefly and directly affected men as constituted in the supernatural order of grace, nevertheless some of its precious and salutary fruits were also bestowed abundantly in the order of nature. Hence, not only individual men, but also the whole mass of the human race, have in every respect received no small degree of worthiness. For, so soon as Christian order was once established in the world, it became possible for all men, one by one, to learn what God's fatherly providence is, and to dwell in it habitually, thereby fostering that hope of heavenly help which never confoundeth. From all this outflowed fortitude, self-control, constancy, and the evenness of a peaceful mind, together with many high virtues and noble deeds.

Quamquam vero divina haec instauratio, quam diximus prae cipue et directo homines attigit in ordine gratiae supernaturali constitutos, tamen pretiosi ac salutares eiusdem fructus in ordinem quoque naturalem largiter permanarunt; quamobrem non mediocrem perfectionem in omnes partes acceperunt cum singuli homines, tum humani generis societas universa. Etenim, christiano rerum ordine semel condito, hominibus singulis feliciter contigit, ut ediscerent atque adsuescerent in paterna Dei providentia conquiescere, et spem alere, quae non confundit, caelestium auxiliorum; quibus ex rebus fortitudo, moderatio, constantia, aequabilitas pacati animi, plures denique praeclarae virtutes et egregia facta consequuntur.
It is, of course, impossible to engage in "what ifs" without entering into the world of speculation. What if Christ had not come into the world and His Church not been founded? The way the world would look under that scenario is impossible to know. But this much is certain: there is much that the world has to be thankful to the Christ and His Church, even though it be not Christian and even it they be not Catholic.** AD, 3. Christians and the Church have been the salt of the earth. The contribution to mankind's development by Christ and His Church, especially in the area of marriage and family life, have been immense.

On the other hand, the verdict appears to be against modernity. While modern notions seem to have given us some "liberties" that seem to advantage the vicious the most, these have been purchased at tremendous price: millions dead in wars, millions more dead in concentration camps, hundreds of millions affected by social deracination, endemic poverty, and the destruction of indigenous cultures, and hundreds of millions perhaps even billions of deaths of human zygotes, fetuses, and children as a result of artificial contraception (frequently a disguised abortifacient) and medical and drug-induced abortion. And these, of course, are just the material costs. At what sort of spiritual costs have these "liberties" been purchased? This is shuddering to contemplate.

What the fruits of modernity and its political structures suggest, of course, is that even an unbeliever, at least an unbeliever of good will, would be better off under a Christian order than he is under a liberal, practically (and theoretically) atheist, order. Viewed from the perspective of the common good, no one, it would seem, except the wicked, are better off in a liberal order than a Christian order. It is impossible to believe that the good and the virtuous would be worse off in an order that conformed itself to the natural moral law rather than an order that ignored it. It is the ignorant, the greedy, the lecherous, the impious, the self-indulgent, the vicious who flourish in liberalism's order and society formed about its premises. The virtuous and those of good will may, with greater effort given the lack of support in public institutions, also flourish. It is the majority in the middle, or those who are excluded altogether from the program by being called "non-persons," who, as a whole, are worse off in a liberal society and its mores. Has the common good really been advanced by a civil society whose governing and legislative institutions are built without reference to God and nature if we include all the hundreds of millions of silent victims too small to be buried in a casket? Are most of us really better off because Charlie Sheen can have sex with a bunch of hookers, get high on cocaine, and not be thrown in jail or put in stocks? We might be better off if he were punished. Imus was without even the process of law, and he did much less that Charlie Sheen ever did.

One area where Christ's influence was deeply felt, and therefore where his modern absence is deeply felt, was the institution of the family. In particular, Christ's influence on marriage, which is the beginning and the foundation of family life, has been significant. Christ's influence upon human marriage must start with an understanding of whence marriage comes.

The true origin, the vera origo, of marriage is God. God is the creator of marriage.
God thus, in His most far-reaching foresight, decreed that this husband and wife should be the natural beginning of the human race, from whom it might be propagated and preserved by an unfailing fruitfulness throughout all futurity of time.

Qua in re hoc voluit providentissimus Deus, ut illud par coniugum esset cunctorum hominum naturale principium, ex quo scilicet propagari humanum genus, et, numquam intermissis procreationibus, conservari in omne tempus oporteret.
AD, 5. Marriage is thus part of God's creative activity. It is part of the natural endowment given man, and therefore a natural institution. While it is a natural institution, it has an implicit or intrinsic leaning towards the sacred, one might say even a natural sacramentality associated with it. As Leo XIII explains:
Marriage has God for its Author, and was from the very beginning a kind of foreshadowing of the Incarnation of His Son; and therefore there abides in it a something holy and religious; not extraneous, but innate; not derived from men, but implanted by nature.

Etenim cum matrimonium habeat Deum auctorem, fueritque vel a principio quaedam Incarnationis Verbi Dei adumbratio, idcirco inest in eo sacrum et religiosum quiddam, non adventitium, sed ingenitum, non ab hominibus acceptum, sed natura insitum.
AD, 19.

The intrinsic sanctity and solemnity of the marital bond and its religious meaning was recognized even by pagans, who usually accompanied marriage with religious rites and before their priests and pontiffs. "So mighty, even in the souls ignorant of heavenly doctrine, was the force of nature, of the remembrance of their origin, and of the conscience of the human race." AD, 19. Even in natural marriage, a marriage between two non-Christians, the Gospel of Christ is implicitly revealed. Anima naturaliter Christiana, said Tertullian. The soul is naturally Christian. In Tertullian's spirit, we may state a corollary: Matrimonium naturaliter Christianum, marriage is naturally Christian.

According to Christ's teaching, "even from the beginning,"*** vel ex eo tempore, marriage was sealed with two "most excellent properties," duas potissimum, easque in primis nobiles, that being "unity and perpetuity," unitatem et perpetuitatem. Therefore, as Christ's teaching make clear, from the beginning, that is as part of the natural institution of marriage, marriage was to be "between two only, that is, between one man and one woman," inter duos esse debere, scilicet virum inter et mulierem. AD, 5. Christ's proclamation with respect to marriage was "in character of supreme Lawgiver," supremi legislatoris suscepta persona, and as supreme lawgiver, Christ "brought back matrimony to the nobility of its primeval origin, primaevae originis nobilitatem, by condemning the customs of the Jews in their abuse of the plurality of wives and of the power of giving bills of divorce; and still more by commanding most strictly that no one should dare to dissolve that union which God Himself had sanctioned by a bond perpetual." AD, 8. This is the natural law on marriage.

Polygamy, both simultaneous and serial,**** therefore, is excluded under the natural law by the design of God. AD, 5. It is a departure from the natural law as it relates to marriage. Clearly, any sort of homosexual union is, as a matter of natural law, morally abhorrent since it is in direct contravention to the natural law. Moreover, from the beginning, God's intent was to exclude divorce and remarriage. Christ made clear that "from the beginning" the "marriage bond is by the will of God so closely and strongly made fast that no man may dissolve it or render it asunder," nuptiale vinculum sic esse Dei voluntate intime vehementerque nexum, ut a quopiam inter homines dissolvi, aut distrahi nequeat. AD, 5.

What Christ's teaching suggests is that the liberal West's vision of marriage as well as traditional Islam's vision of marriage are contrary to the natural law: the natural institution of marriage is defiled by both Western secular and Islamic religious marital laws. The current state of the law on marriage is no different than when Christ first encountered its corruption even among the Jews: "All nations seem, more or less, to have forgotten the true notion and origin of marriage; and thus everywhere laws were enacted with reference to marriage, prompted to all appearance by State reasons, but not such as nature required." AC, 7. In large part, as Leo XIII observes, the woman bore the brunt of the conventional marriages that violated the natural law, since they favored the male, his dominion and his lust, and reduced the status of the woman "to be all but reckoned as a means for the gratification of passion, or for the production of offspring." AC, 7. In some cases, women were bought and sold as chattel, and men had the right to put them to death for the most specious of reasons, or, to beat them (idhrib, إضرب), but not with severity. Modernly, the burden on women is not one of chattle slavery, but it shows up in other forms, in their unreasonable subordinate role in Muslim countries or, in the West, in the pressures put on single mothers and single-parent families. Modernly, the real brunt has been felt by the unborn, that is to say, the never-to-be-born. Moreover, the common good has suffered all of the evils that Leo XIII anticipated it would suffer be relaxing marital laws to allow divorce and remarriage in contravention to the natural law.
Truly, it is hardly possible to describe how great are the evils that flow from divorce. Matrimonial contracts are by it made variable; mutual kindness is weakened; deplorable inducements to unfaithfulness are supplied; harm is done to the education and training of children; occasion is afforded for the breaking up of homes; the seeds of dissension are sown among families; the dignity of womanhood is lessened and brought low, and women run the risk of being deserted after having ministered to the pleasures of men. Since, then, nothing has such power to lay waste families and destroy the mainstay of kingdoms as the corruption of morals, it is easily seen that divorces are in the highest degree hostile to the prosperity of families and States, springing as they do from the depraved morals of the people, and, as experience shows us, opening out a way to every kind of evil-doing in public and in private life.
AD, 29. Is there any doubt every society in the West suffers from these social problems? We claim to want to solve them, but they are insoluble if we ignore their root cause.

So it appears that, with respect to marriage, we have come full circle:
[T]here are persons who, thanklessly casting away so many other blessings of redemption, despise also or utterly ignore the restoration of marriage to its original perfection. It is a reproach to some of the ancients that they showed themselves the enemies of marriage in many ways; but in our own age, much more pernicious is the sin of those who would fain pervert utterly the nature of marriage, perfect though it is, and complete in all its details and parts.
AD, 6. The Western dog has returned to his own Western vomit. Sicut canis qui revertitur ad vomitum suum sic inprudens qui iterat stultitiam suam. "As a dog returns to his own vomit, so is a fool who repeats his folly." (Proverbs 26:11)

*According to the Pew Forum on Religion & Public Life, the following countries allow homosexual marriage: The Netherlands, Belgium, Spain, Canada, South Africa, Norway, Sweden. In the United States, homosexual marriage is legal in six states: Massachusetts, Connecticut, Iowa, Maine, New Hampshire, and Vermont. This does not include countries or states of the United States that recognize some other form of civil union between homosexual couples.
**The Church, however, though it can declare the natural law, and therefore is the teacher of all mankind. With respect to marriage, "with such foresight of legislation has the Church guarded its divine institution that no one who thinks rightfully of these matters can fail to see how, with regard to marriage, she is the best guardian and defender of the human race." AD, 15. The Church, however, would not have jurisdiction over marriages where there is no baptized party involved.
***We may refer the reader to such books as H. W. Crocker, III's Triumph: The Power and Glory of the Catholic Church (New York: Three Rivers Press, 2001); Thomas E. Woods, Jr.'s How the Catholic Church Built Western Civilization (Washington, D.C.: Regnery, 2005). In the area of marriage and family life, Leo XIII states that as a result of Christ and His Church, mankind received the following benefits related to marriage and family: (1) it raised it to the status of a Sacrament; (2) it emphasized its essential sanctity; (3) it condemned extra-marital relationships thus fortifying the exclusivity of marriage; (4) it prohibited incest, polygamy, adultery, fornication, homosexuality and other crimes against conjugal chastity; (5) it insisted on the equal rights of husband and wife, since it imposed the same law of chastity and mutual affection on both; (6) it prohibited the man from killing his wife on the grounds of adultery; (7) it tempered the powers of fathers over their families (the Roman law of paterfamilias); (8) it assured liberty in marriage by preventing undue parental infringement of their child's right.
****The fact that Christ in Matthew 19:4 spoke about what God intended "in the beginning" (ἀπ’ ἀρχῆς or ab initio) is highly significant, since it states that the teaching of Christ on marriage with respect to its exclusivity and permanency is not a matter of Christian discipline only, but is a matter of the natural law which binds all men and woman by virtue of their being human. That marriage is between one man and one woman and that no human authority has the authority to allow for divorce is not a confessional truth, but a universal, natural truth. Christ's teaching in this regard was to bring back matrimony "to the nobility of its primeval origin." AD, 8. To this teaching regarding the natural institution of marriage as ordained by God one must then add the specifically Christian teaching of its sacramental nature and function. On the sacramentality and sanctity of marriage, there was, as Leo XIII points out, a primitive religious understanding of sacrament and sanctity in the marital covenant among the better pagan thinkers. "We call to witness the monuments of antiquity, as also the manners and customs of those people who, being the most civilized, had the greatest knowledge of law and equity. In the minds of all of them it was a fixed and foregone conclusion that, when marriage was thought of, it was thought of as conjoined with religion and holiness." AD, 19.
*****Simultaneous polygamy is having multiple spouses at the same time, a practice accepted, for example, by traditional Islamic doctrine for men (which allows simultaneous polygyny, up to four simultaneous wives, but not simultaneous polyandry, although it allows serial polyandry as a result of its acceptance of divorce and remarriage). Serial polygamy is what is commonly allowed in the West, and it constitutes of polygamy in series (marriage-divorce-remarriage-divorce--remarriage, etc.). A Western man who has been married thrice, and divorced twice, is a serial polygamist having "enjoyed" three women as wives. A Muslim man who has three wives simultaneously is a simultaneous polygamist "enjoying" three women as wives. The difference in these two practices of polygamy is one of degree, not of kind. Both violate the divine and natural law. (This is one reason why both liberalism and Islam are false and unreasonable political philosophies or religions: on this and many other particulars (e.g., acceptance of onanism/contraception or al'azl or العزل), they contradict the natural law on the matter of marriage and conjugal relations). A true political philosophy or a truly revealed religion would not contradict the natural law on marriage and conjugal relations.)