Mandeville, LA – “So what do the former popes teach about the Christian constitution of states? I have listed below just a few of the many encyclicals on the subject considering that most will not have time to read them all. I start with the condemnation by Blessed Pius IX of the idea that the Church and the State should be separate. In short, any Catholic state worthy of the name must first recognise the truth of the Catholic religion. Second, it must give a special, protected place to the Catholic religion. It is a grave error to say that a Catholic state can allow all religions an equal footing before the law with no special position given to the true religion.
If a Catholic state fails to recognise the Catholic religion as true then that state is putting itself above God and God’s truth. That is a reversal of right order. God is above the state not vice versa.
It is not enough to say that all the state need do is recognise the Natural Law. States must also recognise God, truth and the true religion. That is the obligation of all states. Catholic states have a more pressing obligation since they call themselves “Catholic”.
Naturally, the realisation of these obligations becomes difficult, or even impossible, the less Catholic a state is. In a non-Catholic state the obligation remains but cannot be realised and circumstances mitigate, as they do in all judgments and laws. Thus Catholics still owe a duty of allegiance to their own state even if it is not Catholic or where the state refuses to recognise the truth of the Catholic religion. They must still “Render unto Caesar that which is Caesar’s”, as our Lord Himself expressly taught2, but that does not absolve them from continuing to work for a fully Catholic society.
In short, no Catholic may settle for the “second best” position of saying that there is no obligation to work for a Catholic state and that one may be satisfied with a state that is merely neutral in matters of religion. However, prudence must, as ever, be exercised. Where there is no prospect of the state ever becoming Catholic in the lifetime of an individual Catholic and, indeed, when to proclaim publicly such an intent may actually do harm to the Catholic cause in public life, then it would be imprudent to make such a proclamation or even to speak of it openly. Nevertheless, it remains the ideal that should maintain a place in the breast of every true Catholic.” – Lt Col James Bogle, The Remnant