This Dark Age

A manual for life in the modern world.

By Daniel Schwindt

General remarks

“The world has heard enough of the so-called rights of man. Let it hear something of the rights of God.”

~ Pope Leo XIII[1]

The relationship between Church and State involves two questions: one of power and one of knowledge. From the point of view of the State, it is a question of power and who is subordinate to whom. From the point of view of the Church it is a question of truth, and whose knowledge is closer to the Absolute and must, therefore, be considered superior to the other. The failure to understand these differing points of view is the perennial source of conflict between the two spheres. The Church understands itself as the bridge between the absolute and the relative, between Eternity and Present, between Truth itself and temporal confusion. In this role it clearly sees itself as superior from a logical point of view to all other social bodies in knowledge, since it is attached to “the source” while others receive the knowledge thus drawn. The State, on the other hand, which tends to conceive of all social institutions in terms of power, cannot help but be jealous of an authority which claims to hold this directing knowledge. It feels this as a threat to the exercise of its power, whether or not the threat is real, and is perpetually seeking to dethrone the spiritual authorities in such a way that it no longer has to reconcile the exercise of its power with the dictates of their knowledge. It loathes being responsible to a body that is, from its unique point of view, so utterly weak. And so the two social groups, which in the end represent two necessary social functions, tend to exist in tension, although at certain periods throughout history they have, by understanding themselves and their respective functions properly, harmonized in their purposes and achieved the unity dreamed of by St. Thomas Aquinas and Dante. The purpose of this section is to examine the nature of this relationship. We will also seek to understand the problems that arise when the relationship between the two is denied, destroyed, or inverted. This will lead us not only to questions of religion and politics, but to questions regarding the nature of law and justice itself.

[1] Tametsi Futura Prospicientibus, 13.

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