Monday, August 13, 2012

Patriarchal encyclical addresses issues of Christian duty in government and civic life

Encyclical regarding Christian duty in government and community

 To the Bishops, Regular Clergy, and Faithful of the Anglican Rite Roman Catholic Church in the United States of America, greetings and Apostolic Blessings.

1. The Church and the State are not separate, even if they are not administratively linked. While it is correct that the State does not have the authority to govern or interfere with the business of the Church, it is a complete perversion of Christian duty and doctrine to believe that Christians must lay aside their sacred beliefs when serving in public office or fulfilling a public function such as voting. When confronted with the pervasion promotion of such a perversion in American society today, a faithful Christian is surely left perplexed at how the faith can be truly and wholly practiced if it is to be laid aside in such an important arena as government and the community. One is further left perplexed as to why every other school of thought and purported source of morality and ethics is permitted in the public sphere when religion is not. This is the ultimate work of the secularists, who seek to destroy the Church from without, and the modernists, who seek to destroy the Church from within.

2. The Christian Faith is a religion of action. No area of our lives may remain untouched by our faith if we are to call ourselves Christians. There can be no walls built between different areas of our individual lives, for in truth we each have only one life on this earth. The building of such walls is part of thought stemming from errors introduced by Protestantism. It is not appropriate for Christians to claim that they have, for example, a religious life, a work life, a social life, and a family life, and all such so-called lives are separate. Rather, those things are all aspects of one's life, not separate lives. Chief among all aspects is the religious, as it is based on the very essence of humanity and our relationship to our Creator. We cannot claim to be Christian, therefore, if we ignore the teachings of our faith when we are at work, at play, interacting with our families, participating in social organizations, and so forth.

3. There is in each person an essential hierarchy of rules. This applies even in today's lamentable environment of moral relativism that is so dangerous to the soul. Let us consider the example of two sets of rules, the social and the civil. Note that by social rules and social matters here is explicitly meant the general customs of interaction between human beings. This does not pertain to matters of social justice or social responsibility as used in these examples.
  Under social rules, one might feel a certain loyalty to one's friends and not betray their trust, for to do so would be a violation of the social rules. However, consider that there might be occasions in which the civil rules, i.e., the laws of the State, might expect you to betray the trust of your friends. Placed in such a position, one is faced with violating either the social rules or the laws of the State. Thus, anyone who would choose the laws of the State over social rules clearly values State law more than social rule. That value may indeed come from fear of greater punishment from the State, or it may come from a genuine belief that the laws of the State are superior to the social norms. It does not matter the source of the value, but only that there is such a hierarchy of rule systems inside each person. In general it can be said that whatever set of rules one values over the others such that one will always or at least most always choose those rules over the other can be said to be the chief governing set of rules for an individual. This is something inherent to each individual.
  Now consider that there are three sets of rules, viz., the social rules, the laws of the State, and the laws of the Church. We have already dealt with the choice between social rules and the laws of the State in the previous example. Consider now the two remaining choices: social rules vs. the laws of the Church, and the laws of the State vs. the laws of the Church. The scenarios are precisely the same as in the previous example. Will an individual choose social rules or Church law? If the former, then social matters are more important to the individual than the faith. This could be an individual, for example, who does not practice his faith when he is in danger of being ridiculed by others. Now, if one chooses the latter, on the other hand, then one clearly values one's faith over social matters. Likewise, if given the choice between following State law and Church law, and one chooses the former, then one finds the State superior to the Church. If one chooses the latter, then one finds the Church superior to the State.
  In the hierarchy of rules, the only appropriate arrangement is first Church, then State, and then Social. Note again that this does not refer to matters of social justice and social responsibility, for those fall under the laws of the Church.

4. It is disheartening and concerning that many people today find the State superior to the Church. It is also sad that many feel the need to give into societal pressure from modern, secular American society to hide their light under a bushel and not truly practice their faith. The more Christians give in to these bully tactics by secularists, liberals, and modernists, the weaker the Church becomes. That is, of course, the plan of the secularists, liberals, and modernists. Each individual Christian has a duty to stand up for the Faith.(1) The strength of the Church is the responsibility of all Christians.

5. Further of concern is the misinterpretation of the Constitution of the United States, and specifically the First Amendment. Nowhere in the Constitution do the words "separation of Church and State" appear. The complete text of the First Amendment is given as follows: "Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof; or abridging the freedom of speech, or of the press; or the right of the people peaceably to assemble, and to petition the Government for a redress of grievances." This Amendment applied first only to the Federal government of the United States. It did not apply to the several States until 1947.(2) Attempts to prevent federal and state governments from "promoting" religion did not come about until the twentieth century, predominately in 1994.(3)

6. We observe the long-standing Christian nature of the American republic. Even in the colonial period, each colony was predominately Christian in nature. Some colonies had official or at least preferred religions. This Christian nature did not end with the American Revolution or with the ratification of the Constitution of the United States. The Supreme Court building displays the Ten Commandments. The President of the United States is sworn into office with his hand on a Bible. "In God we Trust" is printed on money. The office of Chaplain exists in the United States Congress. These are but a few of many such examples of the presence of religion, and especially the Christian religion, in the government of the United States and the several States thereof. We also point out the religious aspect to the War Between the States, or the Civil War, for both sides of the conflict. It is simply a fallacy to suggest that it is historically American to keep religion out of the public sphere. Yet, this fallacy is precisely the reinterpretation of history and the law that the liberals, secularists, and modernists are promoting.

7. The right of the Church to be free from interference of the government is what is guaranteed by the First Amendment. Said amendment does not prevent people from applying their faith and morals to their work in public office, to their vote, or to any other aspect of the public sphere. Indeed, no true Christian can lay aside his faith to serve in public office. From whence, then, would come the moral compass expected to guide each public servant? The changing whims of society or State-imposed pseudo-morality take the place of Christian morals and ethics if Christian morals and ethics are laid aside.

8. A Christian public servant is first a servant of Christ. Likewise, a Christian citizen of a country is first a Christian. This applies even to secular states, for the law of Christ is universal. The law of Christ has outlasted many regimes and governments and will outlast them all.

9. Furthermore, the validity of any government rests on its consistency with the laws of Christ. For example, socialist regimes are intrinsically invalid and illegitimate, for socialism is incompatible with Christianity. Also, any State that seeks to suppress the Faith and restrict the freedom of the Church is inherently flawed and illegitimate. It is the duty of citizens of all countries to vote according to the principles of Christianity in order to establish that freedom that can come only through Christ. This is for the benefit of all citizens of such countries, not only for Christians, as the true Christian works for the good of all mankind.

10. We, therefore, call upon the faithful in the United States of America at this crucial time in history to remember their Christian duty when engaged in any matter of public policy or action. This includes public officials, government employees, and private citizens. In a republic, each citizen has a right to participate in governance, and therefore has a duty to do so as a means of establishing Christ's justice and truth in this world. One cannot be a Christian on Sunday and a secular public servant the rest of the week. One cannot be a Christian even every day and a secular citizen, laying aside the faith, in the voting booth.

11. America is at an important cross-roads. She faces the choice of being a secular nation that suppresses the Christian Faith or a Christian nation that embraces the freedom that can only come through Christ. We must all do our Christian duty first and foremost when making decisions that impact others. This is not an imposition of our personal beliefs on others, but an exercise not only of our rights but our duty as members of the faithful. And, indeed, the clergy have an even greater obligation.

12. We therefore pray that all the faithful in America will be given the courage and resolve to stand firm in the faith despite the opposition. We pray that those whose faith has been weakened through their own action or the influence of secularists, liberals, or modernists, may be strengthened. We pray that the hearts of our enemies may be turned. We pray that America will be spared the evils of socialism, communism, and other totalitarian regimes that are an affront to the dignity of the human person. We pray that America will respect life and individual freedom. We pray that America will shine forth as an example of true religious freedom in the future.

Rutherford Card. Johnson
Patriarch of the Anglican Rite Roman Catholic Church

Given at the Court of Saint Mary of Walsingham on the Feast of Saint Clare the Virgin, within the Octave of Saint Lawrence the Martyr, and on the tenth Sunday after the Feast of the Most Holy Trinity, on the twelfth day of August in the 2011th day of the Incarnation of our Lord.

(1) Jude 1.3; I Peter 3.15; II Timothy 4.
(2) Everson v. Board of Education. 1947
(3) Board of Education of Kiryas Joel Village School District v. Grumet. U.S. Supreme Court. 1994.