Catholicity, Religious and Secular
The True Relation Between Citizenship of This World and Citizenship of the Next
I By Michael de la Bedoyere I
IN times like these, when most secularist ideas and forces are in the melting pot and when Christians themselves are often deeply worried as to how their citizenship of the next world and their citizenship of this one are best reconciled, it is well for a Catholic newspaper to restate the general principles upon which it seeks to base its work.
Here, then, briefly stated, is the outlook that, we hope, governs the CATHOLIC HERALD.
THE CHURCH IS NOT A SECT
CATHOLICITY, as we understand it, demands not only a specifically religious or ecclesiastical allegiance to the Church but also a moral, intellectual and cultural allegiance to the civilising or " ordering " values that have been established in the history and tradition of Christendom through the spirit and teaching of the Church " informing " the temporal life of State, societies and human beings.
To put it otherwise—the Church is not a sect, a Church among other Churches, or even a Church separated off from temporal affairs; it is not something that concerns itself with what might be called " Sunday " life and does not concern itself with " weekday " life. To assume this or to act as though this were the case is implicitly to deny that the Church is the one true Church, through which God's truth and God's design for living are revealed and preserved intact. If God is not a Sunday God, leaving week-days to the empire of Casar, then God's Church cannot be a Sunday Church, still less one of many rival Sunday Churches.
At the same time there remains a vital and all-important distinction between Church and State, the distinction that flows from the fact that the Church was founded by God in the course of human history for a supernatural purpose and given authority proportionate to that purpose, the distinction illustrated by Christ's ordinance: " Render to Cesar the things that are Cpesar's." The authority of the Church does not, for example, extend to the temporal ruling of mankind or nations ; nor to the ruling of our public and private actions in themselves, where supernatural truth in matters of faith and morals is not directly or indirectly affected.
CLERICALISM OR THEOCRACY
TITS we have, as it were, two poles : the first is the limitless uthority of Catholic truth which affects all life, religious and secular, " the things of God " and " the things of Cresar," citizenship of this world as well as citizenship of the next. This Catholic truth (or " truth " simply, God's truth) has been preserved and protected by the Church, is implicit in her teaching and has been developed in the history and tradition of Christendom, where Church and State are organically related in the one Catholicity. The second is the limited authority of the Church as the ecclesiastical, legislating institution founded by Christ for the specific purpose of enabling men to attain to citizenship of the next world.
In practice these two poles are constantly confused, and the result is sectarianism.
Some people-subordinate the limitless authority of Catholic truth (God's truth), which is revealed to the Church and to human reason, and preserved and developed in an ordered Christian life, to the limited jurisdiction of the ecclesiastical institution or any of its parts, thereby setting up what is virtually a theocracy. Another name for this is clericalism, though the error is made as frequently by the laity as the clergy.
And actually those who think this way do not succeed in extending the authority of the Church : they limit it. For the ecclesiastical institution was never meant to legislate for the matter of men's daily lives, their businesses, their homes, the activities of the State, the creative work of men in art, literature and science. By coming to regard the ecclesiastical institution as the only authority to be consulted and the priest as the mentor of every human action, by trying to turn " weekday " life into glorified " Sundays," they really falsely emancipate all this secular and temporal life from the authority of Catholic truth and order. For men, even Catholics, will reject in practice the false claim end, as a result, overlook the true one, namely, that all life must be ordered according to Catholic truth. Thus they encourage Catholics to be secularists rather than true Catholics on " weekdays " and encourage the State and temporal authorities to draw a wholly false line between what is secular and what is religious, what (from the State's point of view) is important and what is unimportant.
THE WRONG SORT OF EMANCIPATION
THE complementary error is that of those people who seek to be emancipated from the authority of Catholic truth in secular or weekday matters and do so by subordinating the authority of the Church to that of truth or reason in an undefined sense. They are the liberal or secularist or modernist Catholics who, in practice, reject Catholic authority over all secular matters, acknowledging the Church's authority only within the four walls of a church, or within a confessional where the subject matter discussed is very strictly confined to the code of personal and private conduct within a restricted field and to matters of ecclesiastical observance. In their public or business or creative life they only acknowledge in effect the secularist code of the State, the rules of business, the public-school sanction, their own artistic impulse, and so on.
By seeking to broaden the conception of the Church, to show that Catholics are as good citizens as others, by reacting against the " We Catholics " mentality, by opposing " clericalism," by hiding their religion, by one form of liberal snobbery or other, they often tend in effect to increase the sectarianism against which they are contending. For the Church, as the guardian of Catholicity, of Catholic moral principles—which are the same as God's order or design for citizenship of this world as well as the next—cannot acquiesce in this limited, " Sunday " position. Hence in practice she tends to react by increasing rather than decreasing her clericalism " so as to safeguard as much as possible of Catholic Truth in secular matters, even at the price of narrowing it, thus meeting the challenge of the emancipators.
SECULAR AND SECULARIST
THIS unfortunate conflict between the two kinds of Catholic sectarians, the " Sunday " Catholics or clericalists, who would bring all secular life under the direct authority of the ecclesiastical institution, and the Catholics who either neglect the Church entirely, except in well-trodden " Sunday " fields, or try to liberalise the idea of Catholicity so as in fact to disregard the Church guardianship of all moral truth, can only, we believe, be overcome by the education of Catholics throughout the world to understand and live the true balance.
That balance can be understood by discovering again the proper meaning of the word " secular." To-day, after generations of sectarianism, we instinctively think of what is " secular " as being " non-Catholic " or even " irreligious." A Catholic paper, we say, should not treat of secular matters. Catholics, as Catholics, should mind their own business; or, alternatively, have no business except where the religious or pious label can be affixed.
But the truth is that what is wholly secular is or should he also wholly Catholic; and if what is secular is " in order," " in God's order," it is every bit as Catholic as religious things. The word we need when we wish to point out what is non-Catholic, in the true sense, or anti-Catholic, is not " secular " but " secularist.." " Secularism " stands for an outlook which gives priority to the ends of the world, the ends of human reason, imagination, will, over the ends of God. But secular matters (those dealing directly with citizenship of this world) and religious matters (those dealing directly with citizenship of the next) are equally Catholic when they are " in order," i.e., fitted into God's design for human life.
Now the Church, as an ecclesiastical institution, is only directly concerned with religious matters (a reason, by the way, why the prevalent sectarianism has brought it about that we associate the word " Catholic " exclusively with what is religious, relegating the word " secular '' to what is vaguely irreligious or non-Catholic); but Catholics, as individuals, are concerned with the secular affairs (citizenship of this world) and with their religious life (citizenship of the next). It falls on them, therefore, to see to it that the on Catholicity covers the whole of life, secular as well as religious. And, while the Church exerts her authority over the faithful, directly in matters of faith and morals and indirectly over whatever in secular matters is related to faith and morals, it is the duty of Catholic individuals, in their public, business and private lives, to seek from the inspiration and tradition of the Church that " informing " spirit, that " order," which shall fit their citizenship of this world into God's whole design. In doing this, while remaining entirely secular, entirely faithful to their allegiance to the State, to their societies, to the technique of their work or business, to their art, they are also fully faithful to Catholicity and to the Church which preserves and protects Catholic truth and Catholic ideas.
FUNCTION OF CHRISTIAN CITIZENS IN MODERN EUROPE
see no hope for Europe unless the millions of Catholics who form
Mr substantial part of its chief countries are trained to pull their weight as Christian citizens in the above sense, playing their full parts as members of the State, members of the various societies within the State, In their professional and businese avocations, in their creative work, and yet all the time fearlessly and intransigently drawing their inspiration—the end and motive of their actions—from Catholic principles which are the only principles of order end truth. And yet, in doing this, they must avoid giving the impression that they are trying to bring under the religious and ecclesiastical authority of the Church those departments of life which do not properly fall under that authority.
The formation of such Catholic citizens in countries where Catholics are in a majority must gradually lead to the evolution of the State. of special, cultural and economic life in a genuinely Christian direction, and the example of such Christian States will affect others as well as enriching and deepening international life.
In countries whore Catholics are still in a minority it still remains possible to create a powerful Christian leaven, and one which can work all the more effectively in that the secularist ideologies of the past are demonstrably failing. Moreover it must not be forgotten that there are millions of nonCatholic Christians, and even of men who have ceased to believe in institutional religion as such. whose minds ere rapidly becoming attuned to the social, political, economic principles that spring from Catholicity and who, given the required leadership and example, will readily work in the same direction. Many of these men, we do not fear to say, are nearer the true Christian balance of Church and State than "sectarian " Catholics who are " Sunday" clericals and "weekday" secularists. What these non-Catholic Christians fear is not Catholic truth, but the Catholic " clerical " or theocratic sectarianism. While they often agree with Catholic values and admire the great tradition of Christendom, they believe that Catholics themselves are Church-ridden, seeking, if only unconsciously, to transfer to the Church as an ecclesiastical Institution that which is temporal and secular. And there is no getting away from the fact that Catholics do constantly fall into the double error of dividing their personalities into " totalitarian " Catholics about one department of life and what is in effect secularism about another department. Fearful of criticising anything that bears the religious label, rigid in their views where literature, art and life are concerned, sometimes even passing over grievous political and economic faults in countries simply because they are not Protestant countries, tending to call things right because they wear a Catholic exterior rather than see that they are Catholic because they are right and true In themselves, they are at the same time become uncritical nationalists where their own country is concerned and totally disregard Christian principles in their social and economic and business lives because these principles are not the fashion, or do not pay, or make them unpopular. Nor can we doubt that Catholic organisations and the common Catholic outlook in many countries unconsciously encourage this unsatisfactory dualism, by insisting on an external allegiance to the institution rather than an inner living allegiance to Catholic truth. preserved by the Church, and to the supernatural authority of the Church in the Church's supernatural sphere.
NEED OF A PHILOSOPHY OF LIFE
TO-DAY international relations and the socio-economic problems have grown too complex and involved to be settled by any mere technical means. Confusion has become such that men cannot seek a solution by merely asking the question " how?"; they are forced back to the questions " why?", "to what end?" Only if men can agree as to why they are living, what kind of peace they want, what sort of social order is worth having, can they start again to find the means of achieving their purposes. Communism, Fascism, Socialism, Liberalism—these have all been attempts to present a philosophy of life in the light of which the ,troubles of the world can be settled, rather than a mere technique..
We have only to look around us to see how these new gospels have failed; but to do without a gospel at all is to drift with the tide and be carried to disaster. It is useless merely to talk of winning a war, preserving the Empire, smashing Germany, solving the unemployment problem, paying for the war or recovering from it. In the mess we are in these phrases have no meaning. What sort of England do we want, what kind of peace are we fighting for, what social and economic order is right and proper and worthy of man? These are more relevant questions. And none of them can be answered except in terms of a philosophy, indeed of a religion.
As Catholics it is overwhelmingly our job to see to it that the Christian international order is the one to build up, that an England where God counts and His law obtains is fought for, that the radical social and economic principles taught by the Encyclicals are realised through the dislocation and revolution caused by war, that family and personal life re-acquire the dignity fitting to man made by God. If we are earnest about these ends, there can be no victory worth having apart from them, no patriotism outside them, no social order that. disregards them.
THE DEMAND OF TRUE PATRIOTISM TO-DAY THAT Is why even in time of war we cannot accept a policy simply because it is national or patriotic or appears to pay best. That is why we cannot view social, financial and economic policy solely in the light of winning the war or preserving the values acceptable to the governing or possessing classes. In times like this, when no man cau any longer say that Britain means this or Germany that, that the economic future will be this or that, we firmly hold that true patriotism itself demands of a Christian that intransigently Christian ideas and principles should come first, that the only country or system worth preserving is one that will be Christian, and the only one to be destroyed is the one which turns against God and the things of God or "by-passes " them.
In standing for this, we are not seeking the establishrekent of a totalitarian Church or supporting clericalism. When we follow the international guidance of the Vatican nether than that of Whitehall, it is not because we own any political or temporal allegiance to the Vatican or deny our allegiance to Whitehall. It is as British citizens that we write, as independent men thinking for ourselves. But, as Catholics, we must seek our inspiration for our very citizenship in the truth of Catholicity which is guarded and proclaimed in the Church and her tradition, and since we realise that when every rival inspiration Is discredited, bringing the world to ruin, we see that it is vital that this Catholic Inspiration should permeate every nation and every secular institution in order to make them worth preserving.
In writing editorials, in reporting news at home and abroad, in the articles we publish, in the correspondence we encourage, we seek all the time to illustrate this truth, the truth that appeals to the Catholic citizen who submits fully to the ecclesiastical and moral authority of the Church wherever that authority properly extends, but who also, in his loyal secular citizenship, his business and work, endeavoure, independently of acclesiasticism, to inspire himself by the Catholic spirit and the Catholic tradition which the Church has preserved, and continues to maintain intact and alive with the co-operation of Christians, Christian countries, Christian work.
We try to work for a Europe In which all Catholics — and as many Christians as possible-shall see their citizenship in this light, good Britishers, good Frenchmen, good Germans, good Italians, good Spaniards, each seeking the best for his or her country, but each realising that that best to-day can only lie in the actualising in each country and through each country's own way and habits of Catholicity; each seeking also for that social and economic justice between class and class and man and man that depends upon the realisation of the dignity and rights of the human person made in God's image. If the millions of Catholics, we believe, understood their true relationship to the Church and to their State, working for both under the one Catholic Inspiration, religious and secular, then indeed would countries emerge from the darkness, seeking together for that international and social justice in God which alone is true welfare for each and all, and true peace.