The State's Obligation to Recognize and Protect the Catholic Church
From the Guilds and Distributism to Usury and Slavery

Lt. Col. James Bogle1

‘When kingdom and priesthood are at one, in complete accord, the world is well ruled, and the Church flourishes, and brings forth abundant fruit’

…St Ivo of Chartres to Pope Paschal II


The prime papal teachings on the subject date chiefly from the 19th and early 20th century, since that was when the Church had to face the issue most acutely. Some, therefore, think that the encyclicals that date from that time are therefore no longer relevant and may be safely ignored.

Nothing could be further from the truth.

It almost seems customary among many modern Catholics to think that any document before Vatican II can be safely ignored. Vatican II itself taught the exact opposite and makes it quite clear that such an attitude is not only not Catholic but not Christian. Indeed, it is scarcely human. How can one ignore one’s own history and traditions? But it is much worse in a Catholic since traditio – the handing on of traditional teachings and practices – is the very essence of Catholicism. We were given a Fidei Depositum (Revelation – the “Deposit of Faith”) and told by our Lord Himself to hand it on faithfully. Therefore to ignore Catholic tradition is already to disobey Christ and that radically. Indeed, if we did so fully we would be able to ignore even Christ Himself, since He is, humanly speaking, a figure of the past. Likewise we could ignore the Bible, since it is a document of the past.

Thus is demonstrated the absurdity of the theological position that diminishes the authority of past tradition.

However, such a view is so current today that very few now read the great papal encyclicals of the past, although they form part of the magisterial teaching of the Church and often contain infallible teaching, the denial of which constitutes apostasy.

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.

If any man – be he even a priest or a bishop – tell you otherwise, then he has departed from the Faith and, what is more, is seeking to destroy your faith, too. As even the Catechism of the Catholic Church (CCC)3 so succinctly puts it, quoting Centesimus Annus of John Paul II:

‘ 2244 Every institution is inspired, at least implicitly, by a vision of man and his destiny, from which it derives the point of reference for its judgment, its hierarchy of values, its line of conduct. Most societies have formed their institutions in the recognition of a certain pre-eminence of man over things. Only the divinely revealed religion has clearly recognized man’s origin and destiny in God, the Creator and Redeemer. The Church invites political authorities to measure their judgments and decisions against this inspired truth about God and man:

“Societies not recognizing this vision or rejecting it in the name of their independence from God are brought to seek their criteria and goal in themselves or to borrow them from some ideology. Since they do not admit that one can defend an objective criterion of good and evil, they arrogate to themselves an explicit or implicit totalitarian power over man and his destiny, as history shows.”4

Moreover, the right to a certain degree of religious freedom is not denied thereby. On the contrary, the Catholic State is better able than any other to grant the proper degree of freedom to practitioners of other religions – a freedom that the secular state is unable and unwilling to do, either by giving too much or not enough.

It is not a coincidence that King James II of Great Britain and Ireland in his Declaration of Indulgence of 16875 gave a freedom to minority religions that the Anglican establishment utterly refused to give and that, together with the fact that James was a Catholic, is the reason why the Anglican Whigs conspired with the Dutch Protestants to overthrow him, their rightful and lawful ruler. Anglicanism was then imposed by force and by one of the most savage penal codes the world had ever seen. Some scholars even have the cheek to suggest that this was a victory for “liberty”! The CCC teaches:

‘ 2105 The duty of offering God genuine worship concerns man both individually and socially. This is “the traditional Catholic teaching on the moral duty of individuals and societies toward the true religion and the one Church of Christ.”6 By constantly evangelizing men, the Church works toward enabling them “to infuse the Christian spirit into the mentality and mores, laws and structures of the communities in which [they] live.”7 The social duty of Christians is to respect and awaken in each man the love of the true and the good. It requires them to make known the worship of the one true religion which subsists in the Catholic and apostolic Church.8 Christians are called to be the light of the world. Thus, the Church shows forth the kingship of Christ over all creation and in particular over human societies.9

2106 “Nobody may be forced to act against his convictions, nor is anyone to be restrained from acting in accordance with his conscience in religious matters in private or in public, alone or in association with others, within due limits.”10 This right is based on the very nature of the human person, whose dignity enables him freely to assent to the divine truth which transcends the temporal order. For this reason it “continues to exist even in those who do not live up to their obligation of seeking the truth and adhering to it.”11

2107 “If because of the circumstances of a particular people special civil recognition is given to one religious community in the constitutional organization of a state, the right of all citizens and religious communities to religious freedom must be recognized and respected as well.”12

2108 The right to religious liberty is neither a moral license to adhere to error, nor a supposed right to error13, but rather a natural right of the human person to civil liberty, i.e., immunity, within just limits, from external constraint in religious matters by political authorities. This natural right ought to be acknowledged in the juridical order of society in such a way that it constitutes a civil right.[38]

2109 The right to religious liberty can of itself be neither unlimited nor limited only by a “public order” conceived in a positivist or naturalist manner14. The “due limits” which are inherent in it must be determined for each social situation by political prudence, according to the requirements of the common good, and ratified by the civil authority in accordance with “legal principles which are in conformity with the objective moral order.”15

Please note this: ‘the Church shows forth the kingship of Christ over all creation and in particular over human societies’. The footnote refers to Quas Primas of Pius IX, the encyclical on Christ the King and the kingship of Christ over civil society and the need for men to recognise that kingship expressly in the laws of the nation.

Paragraph 2107 expressly recognises that special civil recognition can be given to one religious community. It follows that this applies a fortiori to the true religious community, namely the Catholic Church.

Equally, however, the “due limits” of religious liberty must be determined for each social situation by political prudence, according to the requirements of the common good in conformity with the objective moral order.

Moreover, it will be later seen that, whilst historically and in its documents16, the Church has favoured the monarchical form of government, Leo XIII, in Immortale Dei17, his encyclical on the Christian constitution of states, points out that any form of government that does not conflict with Divine or Natural Law may form the basis of the state. This applies even though the Church has, herself, favoured certain specific forms of government.

There is no question that the Church has favoured the monarchical form of government and especially the Roman imperial form of government which was passed on from classical Roman times.

Any who doubt that may see this from history itself, wherein the Church has always approved that form of government, since the time of the Roman Emperor Constantine, through to the time of the Byzantine Eastern Roman Empire, to the time of the Western Roman Emperor Charlemagne, King of the Franks, to the end of the Holy Roman Empire in 1806 and beyond during the time of the Austro-Hungarian Empire which succeeded it. This is matter of historical record.

Moreover, it is expressly spelt out in the Papal Decretal of Pope Innocent III entitled Venerabilem18, in which he writes:

‘...We acknowledge as we are bound, that the right and authority to elect a king (later to be elevated to the Imperial throne) belongs to those princes to whom it is known to belong by right and ancient custom; especially as this right and authority came to them from the Apostolic See, which transferred the Roman Empire from the Greeks to the Germans in the person of Charles the Great. But the princes should recognize, and assuredly do recognize, that the right and authority to examine the person so elected king (to be elevated to the Empire) belongs to us who anoint, consecrate and crown him.’

Moreover, the Church gave special pride of place to the Catholic Roman Emperor in its liturgy – including at the Solemn Intercessions on Good Friday and in the Exultet at the Easter Vigil on Holy Saturday – right up until as late as 1955 when the late Archbishop Bugnini rather secretively removed the imperial prayers from the Roman rite of liturgy.

In its “Collect for the Emperor” the Church used to pray:

 ‘O God, who prepared the Roman Empire for the preaching of the Gospel of the eternal King, extend to Thy servant (name), our Emperor, the armoury of heaven, so that the peace of the churches may remain undisturbed by the storms of war’.

The Church thus expressly recognised the hand of God in the choice of the Roman Empire as the seedbed of the Church and of Roman Catholicism and of its initial primary evangelisation.

Indeed, St Peter, the first pope, likewise gave his endorsement to the Roman imperial system in his own very first encyclical letter, the First Epistle of St Peter19, when he wrote:

‘Be ye therefore subject to every creature for God’s sake: whether it be to the Roman Emperor [NT Gr: ho Basileus which means the Roman Emperor] as excelling; or to governors as sent by him for the punishment of evil-doers and for the praise of the good….Honour all men. Love the brotherhood. Fear God. Honour the Emperor.’

The political realisation of “Gospel values” was thus not some hippie-like commune seemingly beloved of some utopian Christian sects, and even of some modern Catholics, nor even of some modern, religiously liberal, Federal Democratic Capitalist Republic as one might be mistaken for thinking from reading the political writings of some American theologians, but rather the Christianised Roman Empire beginning with the Emperors Constantine and Theodosius.

That is simply a matter of historical and theological record.

Even today, the Church enjoys cordial relations with the remaining Catholic monarchies such as Belgium, Spain, Luxemburg and Liechtenstein.

Equally, however, the Church, despite favouring the Roman imperial system, does not rule out other forms of government. Indeed, history gives us the examples of the Florentine and Venetian Republics which, although largely aristocratic republics, nevertheless placed great emphasis upon their parliamentary customs.

We should also remember that it was the Church itself that preserved the democratic ideals of the ancients but without their reliance upon slavery (both the Greek and the Roman republics depended upon slaves who had no votes). Indeed, over the centuries Catholic kings and popes gradually abolished the institution of slavery replacing ancient slavery with the Feudal serf and then replacing the serf and the unfree villeins, bordars and cottars with a free, land-owning peasantry and villeinage.

That happy state of affairs was exploded by the Protestant Reformation which stole the common lands from the free peasants, surreptitiously invaded their rights and, by blood, murder and rapine, enriched the partisans of the Reformation out of the plunder of the monasteries and religious houses which were, in a demonstrably concrete form, the infrastructure of social welfare and the patrimony of the poor.

It was also the Catholic Dioceses and monasteries that had helped to preserve much of the democratic traditions that survive today. The Chapter of Canons elected the bishop and the monks elected their Abbot.

Even the Roman Emperor himself was elected from among suitable candidates by the 7 Prince-Electors of the Empire who, themselves, had the same status as the Cardinals who elect the Pope.

The Roman emperors, moreover, helped to preserve the spirit of democracy by granting charters of, and rights to, self-government and election for districts, groups and institutions. The people of the Tyrol region of the Holy Roman Empire had for long elected their own deputies and had their own Parliament at Innsbruck without whose approval they could not be taxed or conscripted. This was eventually formalised in an Imperial brief of 1342 by the Holy Roman Emperor, Kaiser Maximilian I. Now this was over 300 years before the English Whigs demanded “no taxation without representation” (all the while persecuting Catholics and minority religions in England!) and over 400 years before the American Colonists made their demands at the time of the Boston “Tea Party”!

The Holy Roman Empire itself, whilst under the overall suzerainty of the Emperor, was, in fact, divided into a Distributist patchwork of hundreds of kingdoms, duchies, counties, baronies and lordships, often ruled by abbeys or bishops, and power was diffused and decentralised in a way that we can hardly imagine today with our over-centralised organs of state, Internal Revenue Service, State Departments and heavy-handed, over-centralised government departments and law-enforcement agencies.

This same “Distributism” has been much extolled by more recent Catholic writers notably men like G K Chesterton and Hilaire Belloc who both founded the “Distributist League”. Belloc writes extensively, in his book The Servile State, of the Distributism of Catholic Europe in former times and of the damage caused by the Protestant Reformation and of the gradual return of slavery and servility in Western society as a result.

In business and commerce in the days of Catholic Christendom, careful rules and customs prevailed under the Guild system which had begun back in Roman times and which allowed for a steady progression from Apprentice to Journeyman to Master, ensured full employment for all trades, a fair price for the consumer, a high standard of quality of goods and services, a social welfare system for all guildsmen and their families and the spiritual care of, and suffrages for, the members and their families.

Usury was forbidden as being alien to justice and, as Aristotle had written, “an exceedingly unnatural way to earn one’s living”20. Thus men could not make money simply by having money but had to work to earn their living or, at least, share the risk of any business venture and not simply demand their loan back with interest even if the business failed. Banking was thus run on Christian lines.

This, in turn, was backed up by the largest private system of social welfare and community care that the world has ever seen – the monastic system. Yes, it was a private system not a Socialist system owned by the government like our modern cumbersome, inefficient, corrupt and bureaucratic systems of social welfare and community care. Indeed, unlike so much modern bureaucracy, the monastic system of welfare was entirely founded upon charity in its true sense, that is, of love – love both divine and human.

So much leisure time was there in those days that between ¼ and 1/3 of the year was marked off as “Holy days” when servile work ceased. Compare this with the measly 2 weeks annual vacation which the average worker in the USA gets to spend with his or her family!

Indeed, there was so much leisure time that the people used much of it to build the great Cathedrals as an act of worship, love and homage to God. They laboured out of love and freely to construct these great monuments of love for God. They were not compelled to this task but did it out of love for God.

That, in itself, is an astonishing fact against which there is nothing to compare in our secularist age.

The laws and the courts were all founded upon principles of biblical and Natural Law from which developed the whole system of both Roman and Common law which, even today in our secularist world, are still the foundation of our legal systems.

Education was carefully organised and run with Diocesan, monastic, local, municipal, City, Guild and Royal foundations of all sizes and each carefully seeking out worthy and deserving candidates for schooling with a particular eye on future priests and clergy. There was a widespread system for detecting the brighter sons of the poor to benefit from the very considerable range of sources of funding to educate them. It was during the Christian centuries that the great educational foundations were established, most notably the great universities of Europe like Paris, Bologna, Oxford, Cambridge, Salamanca, Coimbra, Heidelberg, Cracow’s Jagiellionian, Vienna and so many others, not least in Rome itself.

Modern science itself has its origins in the Christian centuries among Catholic scholars. The law of impetus, discovered and named by John Philoponus (John the Grammarian or John of Alexandria) at the 6th century University of Alexandria, and later expanded by the post-Lateran IV scholars at the Sorbonne, like Jean Buridan, is almost identical to Newton’s law of inertia. Indeed, Newton “borrowed” the idea from these earlier Catholic scholars. Scientists recognise that Newton’s law is the foundation of most modern science. Yet it was discovered by Roman Catholic scholars during the Christian centuries at a time when Church and State worked closely together.

Indeed, the condemnations of the false Aristotelianism of the Cathars and Albigensians by the 4th Lateran Council of the Church ensured that time was not wasted on such false ideas but was re-focussed upon more fruitful areas. The result was Buridan’s re-discovery of the principle of impetus and a huge leap forward in scientific understanding - and this not from an academic “free-for-all” but rather following an actual condemnation of false ideas by an Ecumenical Council of the Catholic Church! Yet modern secularist scientists will tell you that the Catholic Church is opposed to science. On the contrary, the Catholic Church founded modern science!

It is during the Christian centuries of the Middle Ages that the first parliaments of Europe have their foundation. Count Simon de Montfort, Earl of Leicester, laid the foundations for the modern English parliament in 1265. He and his father, with a tiny army of only 750 Catholic knights, had defeated a huge army of some 50,000 Albigensians at the Battle of Muret in 1213, 2 years before the end of the 4th Lateran Council.

The Spanish Cortes, the Polish Sejm, the French Parlement and the Imperial Diet or Reichstag and the local Landtag and Landschaft of the German lands begin to take their modern shape over this period when Catholic Christendom is the unchallenged system of government in Europe. Parliamentary democracy has its beginnings then and not in the English Civil War or the American Revolution, still less the French Revolution. Parliamentary representation is an idea devised by Roman Catholic Christendom. That is merely an historical fact. Doubters need only look up the historical sources.

In those days, even wars were carefully regulated by laws, rules and customs in a manner designed greatly to mitigate their savagery. This set of rules formed part of the Christian Code of Chivalry by which knights were enjoined to exercise the virtues of compassion, gentleness, mercy and forbearance toward others even, nay especially, their enemies. They were to treat women with especial care and respect and their first task was to defend and extend, by lawful means, the boundaries of Christendom – the kingdom of Christ upon the earth. In this respect, the Roman Emperor was the First Knight of Christendom and his primary duty was to protect Christendom, the Church and the Pope.

Here, indeed, then, was a system designed entirely upon “Gospel values”.

All of this was shattered at the Protestant Reformation.

Moreover, the Protestant governments, in stark contrast to the Catholic governments, actually re-introduced slavery and it was as a direct result of the Protestant Reformation that laws forbidding the enslaving of human beings were over-turned. Thus the infamous slave trade began once again to flourish, with Europeans daring to call themselves “Christians” making themselves fabulously rich by forcibly enslaving their fellow man.

Those who doubt this need only read the Recopilacion de las Leyes de Indias (‘the Compilation of the Laws of the Indies’)21 of the Spanish Habsburg kings and emperors, proclaimed almost immediately after the discovery of the New World which absolutely forbade the enslaving of the native Indians and demanded their fair and equitable treatment so as to persuade them, by the equity of Christian laws, that they should themselves consider converting to Christianity.

Then read the laws of the thoroughly Protestant State of Massachusetts regarding slavery and you will see a very different view of things.

Massachusetts was the first slave-holding colony in New England. Slavery there is said to have predated the settlement of Massachusetts Bay colony in 1629.

Samuel Maverick, apparently New England’s first slaveholder, arrived in Massachusetts in 1624 and, according to John Gorham Palfrey, owned two Negroes before John Winthrop, who later became governor of the colony, arrived in 163022.

The Pequot War in 1637 provided and opportunity for slaving. The Pequot Indians of central Connecticut, pressed hard by encroaching European settlements attacked the town of Wetherfield. Later the Massachusetts and Connecticut militias raided the Pequot village near Mystic, Connecticut with much slaughter and the women and children were enslaved in New England. Roger Williams of Rhode Island wrote to Winthrop congratulating him saying that God had placed in his hands ‘another drove of Adam’s degenerate seed.’

In 1645, Emanuel Downing, brother-in-law of John Winthrop, wrote to him of his desire for a “juste warre” with the Pequots, to enable the capture of enough Indian men, women, and children to exchange in Barbados for black slaves, saying the colony would never thrive “untill we gett ... a stock of slaves sufficient to doe all our business.”23

By 1676, Boston ships had pioneered a slave trade to Madagascar, and they were selling black human beings to Virginians by 1678. At home, the Puritans generally took black African slaves to the West Indies and exchanged them for experienced slaves to bring back to New England. Massachusetts merchants and ships were supplying slaves to Connecticut by 1680 and Rhode Island by 1696.

The principal families of New England were tied up in the slave trade. Cornelius Waldo, maternal great-grandfather of Ralph Waldo Emerson, was a large scale slave merchant.

Massachusetts, like many American colonies, had roots in a very fundamentalist Protestantism. This did not prevent them from becoming slave-owners, however – far from it. All Puritans considered themselves to be God’s Elect, but they seemed to believe that the slave-trade was not forbidden by the God of Israel’s Law. The Calvinist Puritans seem to have considered that blacks were a people required by God to serve whites. Cotton Mather, the New England Puritan, even told black slaves because they were the “miserable children of Adam and Noah” and that slavery was their punishment.

A 1642 Massachusetts law of 1641 established rules for slaves “which the law of God, established in Israel concerning such people, doth morally require”24 expressly claiming a Scriptural basis for their slavery laws.

The fact that English-speaking people tend to live in English-speaking countries, not least those former British colonies like Canada, the USA and so on, has tended to permit a certain blindness to these facts and to result in comparisons with the Catholic monarchies odious to the latter and favourable to the former. The reality is rather different. It has been largely the legislation of the Catholic monarchs which, under the guidance of the Church, has been more favourable to true human freedom and dignity. Protestant legislation has varied from the thoroughly oppressive – like the penal codes introduced after the Dutch invasion of England in 1688 and the expulsion of King James II – to the downright bizarre in Calvin’s Geneva or in the form of some of the early Puritan legislation in the American colonies.

Once these historical facts are appreciated it soon can be seen that the teachings of the popes about the need to retain a strong relationship between Church and State are not the fruit of some obscurantist, dark, self-serving, oppressive “Popish Plot” designed to reduce mankind to slavery and servitude, as the Puritan Protestants and Secular Humanists would have us believe, but rather the very opposite.

There is a much stronger case for arguing that Puritanism and its bastard offspring, Secular Humanism, have conspired to return much of mankind to servitude and misery.

The strong influence of Catholic teaching on the political life of a nation is the best way to guarantee freedom, security, wealth, the happiness and holiness of any people and, ultimately, their salvation in the next life. Since Catholicism is the true religion this should not surprise us! How could truth have the opposite effect? If it did, it could hardly be called truth.

Moreover, despite the further false propaganda of the Church’s enemies, history testifies to this. Institutions founded in the Christian Middle Ages when Church and State worked in harmony, survive to this day.

Let us then see what the popes have to teach us about the relationship between Church and State.

Syllabus Errorum (The Syllabus of Errors) (Bl Pius IX) –

“On Modern Errors”

Condemned proposition: ’55. The Church ought to be separated from the .State, and the State from the Church. — Allocution “Acerbissimum,” Sept. 27, 1852.’

Quas Primas (Pius XI) –

“On the Kingship of Christ”

‘ 17. It would be a grave error, on the other hand, to say that Christ has no authority whatever in civil affairs, since, by virtue of the absolute empire over all creatures committed to him by the Father, all things are in his power. Nevertheless, during his life on earth he refrained from the exercise of such authority, and although he himself disdained to possess or to care for earthly goods, he did not, nor does he today, interfere with those who possess them. Non eripit mortalia qui regna dat caelestia.

18. Thus the empire of our Redeemer embraces all men. To use the words of Our immortal predecessor, Pope Leo XIII: “His empire includes not only Catholic nations, not only baptized persons who, though of right belonging to the Church, have been led astray by error, or have been cut off from her by schism, but also all those who are outside the Christian faith; so that truly the whole of mankind is subject to the power of Jesus Christ.”25] Nor is there any difference in this matter between the individual and the family or the State; for all men, whether collectively or individually, are under the dominion of Christ. In him is the salvation of the individual, in him is the salvation of society. “Neither is there salvation in any other, for there is no other name under heaven given to men whereby we must be saved.”26 He is the author of happiness and true prosperity for every man and for every nation. “For a nation is happy when its citizens are happy. What else is a nation but a number of men living in concord?”27 If, therefore, the rulers of nations wish to preserve their authority, to promote and increase the prosperity of their countries, they will not neglect the public duty of reverence and obedience to the rule of Christ. What We said at the beginning of Our Pontificate concerning the decline of public authority, and the lack of respect for the same, is equally true at the present day. “With God and Jesus Christ,” we said, “excluded from political life, with authority derived not from God but from man, the very basis of that authority has been taken away, because the chief reason of the distinction between ruler and subject has been eliminated. The result is that human society is tottering to its fall, because it has no longer a secure and solid foundation.”28

19. When once men recognize, both in private and in public life, that Christ is King, society will at last receive the great blessings of real liberty, well-ordered discipline, peace and harmony. Our Lord’s regal office invests the human authority of princes and rulers with a religious significance; it ennobles the citizen’s duty of obedience. It is for this reason that St. Paul, while bidding wives revere Christ in their husbands, and slaves respect Christ in their masters, warns them to give obedience to them not as men, but as the vicegerents of Christ; for it is not meet that men redeemed by Christ should serve their fellow-men. “You are bought with a price; be not made the bond-slaves of men.”29] If princes and magistrates duly elected are filled with the persuasion that they rule, not by their own right, but by the mandate and in the place of the Divine King, they will exercise their authority piously and wisely, and they will make laws and administer them, having in view the common good and also the human dignity of their subjects. The result will be a stable peace and tranquillity, for there will be no longer any cause of discontent. Men will see in their king or in their rulers men like themselves, perhaps unworthy or open to criticism, but they will not on that account refuse obedience if they see reflected in them the authority of Christ God and Man. Peace and harmony, too, will result; for with the spread and the universal extent of the kingdom of Christ men will become more and more conscious of the link that binds them together, and thus many conflicts will be either prevented entirely or at least their bitterness will be diminished.

20. If the kingdom of Christ, then, receives, as it should, all nations under its way, there seems no reason why we should despair of seeing that peace which the King of Peace came to bring on earth — he who came to reconcile all things, who came not to be ministered unto but to minister, who, though Lord of all, gave himself to us as a model of humility, and with his principal law united the precept of charity; who said also: “My yoke is sweet and my burden light”. Oh, what happiness would be Ours if all men, individuals, families, and nations, would but let themselves be governed by Christ! “Then at length,” to use the words addressed by our predecessor, Pope Leo XIII, twenty-five years ago to the bishops of the Universal Church, “then at length will many evils be cured; then will the law regain its former authority; peace with all its blessings be restored. Men will sheathe their swords and lay down their arms when all freely acknowledge and obey the authority of Christ, and every tongue confesses that the Lord Jesus Christ is in the glory of God the Father”.30


Une Fois Encore (St Pius X) –

“On the separation of Church and State”


Vehementer Nos (St Pius X) –

“On the French law of separation of Church and State”


Iamdudum (St Pius X) –

“On the law of separation of Church and State in Portugal”

In these three encyclicals, St Pius X expressly rejects the laws for separating the Church from the State brought in by anti-clericals and secularists in France and Portugal. These laws were designed not only to de-couple the Church from any part of government but were designed to allow the state to interfere with the institutions of the Church and to attack them and the Church generally.  Under similar laws the children-seers of Fatima were persecuted by the anti-clericals of Portugal.

Notre Charge Apostolique (Our Apostolic Mandate) (St Pius X) –

“Condemnation of the Sillon”

‘...However, let not these priests be misled, in the maze of current opinions, by the miracles of a false Democracy. Let them not borrow from the Rhetoric of the worst enemies of the Church and of the people, the high-flown phrases, full of promises; which are as high-sounding as unattainable. Let them be convinced that the social question and social science did not arise only yesterday; that the Church and the State, at all times and in happy concert, have raised up fruitful organizations to this end; that the Church, which has never betrayed the happiness of the people by consenting to dubious alliances, does not have to free herself from the past; that all that is needed is to take up again, with the help of the true workers for a social restoration, the organisms which the Revolution shattered, and to adapt them, in the same Christian spirit that inspired them, to the new environment arising from the material development of today’s society. Indeed, the true friends of the people are neither revolutionaries, nor innovators: they are traditionalists.’

Immortale Dei (Leo XIII) –

“On the Christian constitution of states”

‘ 21. There was once a time when States were governed by the philosophy of the Gospel. Then it was that the power and divine virtue of Christian wisdom had diffused itself throughout the laws, institutions, and morals of the people, permeating all ranks and relations of civil society. Then, too, the religion instituted by Jesus Christ, established firmly in befitting dignity, flourished everywhere, by the favour of princes and the legitimate protection of magistrates; and Church and State were happily united in concord and friendly interchange of good offices. The State, constituted in this wise, bore fruits important beyond all expectation, whose remembrance is still, and always will be, in renown, witnessed to as they are by countless proofs which can never be blotted out or ever obscured by any craft of any enemies. Christian Europe has subdued barbarous nations, and changed them from a savage to a civilized condition, from superstition to true worship. It victoriously rolled back the tide of Mohammedan conquest; retained the headship of civilization; stood forth in the front rank as the leader and teacher of all, in every branch of national culture; bestowed on the world the gift of true and many-sided liberty; and most wisely founded very numerous institutions for the solace of human suffering. And if we inquire how it was able to bring about so altered a condition of things, the answer is — beyond all question, in large measure, through religion, under whose auspices so many great undertakings were set on foot, through whose aid they were brought to completion.

22. A similar state of things would certainly have continued had the agreement of the two powers been lasting. More important results even might have been justly looked for, had obedience waited upon the authority, teaching, and counsels of the Church, and had this submission been specially marked by greater and more unswerving loyalty. For that should be regarded in the light of an ever-changeless law which Ivo of Chartres wrote to Pope Paschal II: “When kingdom and priesthood are at one, in complete accord, the world is well ruled, and the Church flourishes, and brings forth abundant fruit. But when they are at variance, not only smaller interests prosper not, but even things of greatest moment fall into deplorable decay.”31

36. This, then, is the teaching of the Catholic Church concerning the constitution and government of the State. By the words and decrees just cited, if judged dispassionately, no one of the several forms of government is in itself condemned, inasmuch as none of them contains anything contrary to Catholic doctrine, and all of them are capable, if wisely and justly managed, to insure the welfare of the State. Neither is it blameworthy in itself, in any manner, for the people to have a share greater or less, in the government: for at certain times, and under certain laws, such participation may not only be of benefit to the citizens, but may even be of obligation. Nor is there any reason why any one should accuse the Church of being wanting in gentleness of action or largeness of view, or of being opposed to real and lawful liberty. The Church, indeed, deems it unlawful to place the various forms of divine worship on the same footing as the true religion, but does not, on that account, condemn those rulers who, for the sake of securing some great good or of hindering some great evil, allow patiently custom or usage to be a kind of sanction for each kind of religion having its place in the State. And, in fact, the Church is wont to take earnest heed that no one shall be forced to embrace the Catholic faith against his will, for, as St. Augustine wisely reminds us, “Man cannot believe otherwise than of his own will.”

37. In the same way the Church cannot approve of that liberty which begets a contempt of the most sacred laws of God, and casts off the obedience due to lawful authority, for this is not liberty so much as license, and is most correctly styled by St. Augustine the “liberty of self-ruin,” and by the Apostle St. Peter the “cloak of malice.”32 Indeed, since it is opposed to reason, it is a true slavery, “for whosoever committeth sin is the slave of sin.”33.’



1 James Bogle is a barrister (trial attorney) in private practice in London, England. He is a former British regular cavalry officer but still serves in the reserve forces as a Lt Colonel. He is Chairman of the Catholic Union of Great Britain and has written, among other books, a biography of the last Habsburg Emperor, Blessed Charles I of Austria. He is a Knight of Malta and of the Constantinian Order of St George. He is a convert to Catholicism from the Scottish Episcopalianism of his family.

2 Matt 22:21.

3 Pope John Paul II. 1994. Catechismus Ecclesiae Catholicae. Libreria Editrice Vaticana. Catechism of the Catholic Church (English Translation). 1994. London: Chapman. Publication authorised by: Pope John Paul II. 1992. Apostolic Constitution Fidei Depositum.

4 Pope John Paul II. 1991. Centesimus Annus. 45, 46.

5 King James II and VII. 1687. The Declaration of Indulgence in Browning, A (ed). 1953. English Historical Documents, 1660-1714. London: Eyre & Spottiswoode, 1953,  pp. 399, 400.

6 Second Vatican Council. 1962-65. Dignitatis Humanae. 1 § 2.

7 Ibid. Apostolicam Actuositatem. 13 § 1.

8 Ibid.. Dignitatis Humanae. 1.

9 Ibid. Apostolicam Actuositatem. 13; Pope Leo XIII. 1888. Immortale Dei. 3, 17; Pope Pius IX. Quas Primas. 1920. 8, 20.

10 Ibid. Dignitatis Humanae. 2 § 1.

11 Ibid. 2 § 2.

12 Ibid. 6 § 3.

13 Pope Leo XIII. 1888. Libertas Praestantissimum. 18; Pope Pius XII. 6 December 1953. Discourse in Acta Apostolicae Sedis. 1953. 799.

14 Ibid. Dignitatis Humanae. 2.

15 Pope Pius VI. 1791. Quod Aliquantum. 10; Pope Pius IX. 1864. Quanta Cura. 3.

16 See, for example: Pope Pius VI. 1786. Super Soliditate; Pope Pius VI. 1793. Pourquoi Notre Voix.

17 Pope Leo XIII. 1888. Immortale Dei. 36.

18 Pope Innocent III. 1202. Venerabilem.

19 1 Peter 2:13-17.

20 Aristotle. Politics. I, x.

21 King Carlos II of Spain. 1681 (re-codified and re-printed). Tomado de Recopilación de Leyes de los Reinos de las Indias. Mandadas imprimir y publicar por la Majestad católica del rey don Carlos II, nuestro señor. Va dividida en cuatro tomos, con el Indice general, y al principio de cada tomo el Indice especial de los títulos que contiene. Madrid: por Julián de Paredes, año de 1681.

22 Greene, Lorenzo Johnston. 1942. The Negro in Colonial New England, 1620-1776. N.Y.: Columbia University Press,  p.16.

23 Ibid, p.62.

24 McManus, Edgar J. 1973. Black Bondage in the North.. Syracuse, N.Y.: Syracuse University Press.

25 Pope Leo XIII. 1899. Annum Sacrum.

26 Acts 4:12.

27 St Augustine of Hippo. Ep. Ad Macedonium. C.iii.

28 Pope Pius XI. 1926. Ubi Arcano.

29 I Cor. 7:23.

30 Pope Leo XIII. 1899. Annum Sacrum.

31 Ivo of Chartres. Epist. 238 to Pope Paschal II in Migne, J-P. 1844-55. Patrologia Latina. 162, 246B.

32 1 Peter 2:16.

33 John 8:34.