Two There Are: The Church, the State and the Dangers of Radical Secularism
In Christianity, the State is de-divinized, the Church is de-politicized
The Catholic accepts the duo sunt as part of social reality. There is therefore in the Catholic mind, both Church and State, and a natural and necessary separation of Church and State. But this separation of Church and State does not imply subordination of Church to State. Quite the contrary, the State and the Church are coordinate powers each with its proper sphere.
But in matters of faith and of morals, the Church is superior. In telling us about truth and about the good, the State is incompetent. In Christianity, the State is de-divinized, the Church is de-politicized. The State is not in possession of spiritual power. The Church as Church is not in possession of political power. These powers are to work together for the common good. Duo sunt.
Both Church and State have public voices; both sing a song. The Catholic, both a citizen and a member of Christ's faithful, hears both songs and both voices, for he or she knows there are two. But like St. Thomas More's last words as he approached the scaffold and imminent death, the Catholic is "the King's good servant, but God's first."
One song, one voice in particular, the voice of God, the vox Domini Iesu Christi, holds him in absolute thrall. He hears the song of his Master, whose yoke is easy, whose burden is light, and he hears the song of Caesar, and of the two songs he recognizes the voice of the Lord as the most lasting, the most beautiful, the most true. (Matt. 11:30)
When push comes to shove-and there is progressively more shoving and less pushing as the Western democracies in their re-creation of society in man's own image jettison their Christian capital as if but flotsam or jetsam-the Catholic will say with St. Peter, "We must obey God rather than men." (Acts 5:29). The Catholic insists there are two voices, but also that there is one more beautiful and lasting than the other-for he hears them both and is able to distinguish them and he knows which is more beautiful-duo sunt.
Like the singing Jewish captive by the rivers of Babylon, the Catholic would rather his right hand wither, and his tongue cleave to the roof of his mouth, than forget the words to his song, the song of the sounds of heavenly Zion, duo sunt. (Cf. Ps. 137 (136):5-6) Duo sunt, duo sunt, duo sunt is the leitmotif of his song, a political and religious song which is not monophonic, but diaphonic. His political song has two voices which, if there is to be proper order, must try to sing in harmony.
Modernly, the Catholic is pressed hard between two groups that command center stage, and which have in their hands either power or violence (and there is but a thin line between the two). These two groups cry not duo sunt, but unus est, "one there is." These are the secularists and the Islamists, and they seem to divide the world between them.
For secularists, the State is all there is; there is no spiritual power. In their zeal for power, the dogmatic secularists cry out like the high priests did to Pontius Pilate: "We have no king but Caesar." (John 19:15) The modern secular State is the Hobbesian "mortal God," and there is no immortal God which competes for obeisance, for secularism subscribes to the Nietzschean view that the immortal God-the God of Jacob, Isaac, and Joseph-is dead. For them, God is dead.
Since for the modern secular State God is dead and sings no more, it, and it alone, is the final reality: unus est. It calls itself liberal, but it is not, since it can only hear one voice: its own, and so it closes itself off in a prison.
The secularist knows no reality outside of what he makes for himself. Man is one dimensional, and he answers neither to God nor to any fixed nature. For the secularist, there is no such thing as an objective reality, one pre-existing him, one founded on nature or nature's God, one which must be given public voice. But against the voice of the secularist who exclaims unus est, the Church insists in both the reality of the natural law and in the ...
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