How to Inherit a Kingdom

Bradley Lewis (00:06):
Good afternoon. I’m Bradley Lewis. And on behalf of the Institute for Human Ecology’s Program in Catholic Political Thought, it’s my pleasure to welcome you this afternoon to this inaugural Catholic Political Thought lecture. We hope the first of many. The Institute for Human Ecology is a center here at Catholic University dedicated to bringing together scholars here and from other institutions to advance and promote our understanding of human flourishing and its conditions in light of Catholic social teaching. Today’s lecture is the in-person debut of our Program in Catholic Political Thought. We announced the program in an online event last year dedicated to David Walsh’s book, The Priority of the Person, which was all together fitting given David’s great contributions to political theory at this institution and well beyond it. But today is the in-person live debut of the program.

Its origins are, really, conversations that many of us have had over the past several years, often provoked by students who’ve told us that they want to study the Catholic tradition of political thought and asked where they could do this in a concentrated way. The answer has generally been, well, there’s this person here and there’s that person there, but there’s no one place where a student could get a reasonably full formation in this invaluable tradition of thought. The executive director of IHE, Joseph Capizzi finally said, “Well, then let’s just do it here.” And here we are. This was the origin of the Program in Catholic Political Thought. And we think that there’s no better place for this endeavor than here at the Catholic University of America.

The program aims to leverage resources in our Schools of Theology and Religious Studies, the School of Philosophy, and the Department of Politics to offer graduate students especially a range of courses that will help them learn and contribute to the ongoing tradition of Catholic political thought because we think it valuable in itself but also because, in a time of often disorienting polarization and confusion, the authentic tradition of Catholic reflection on political things is invaluable both to the church as it makes its pilgrimage, but also for our country. The founder of Catholic University, who was also the catalyst for Thomistic revival and the originator of the modern line of Catholic social thought, Leo XIII, specifically enjoined this institution to, quote, “give to the Republic its best citizens,” unquote. This injunction guides our work.

I want to acknowledge and thank Father Mark Morozowich, the Dean of the School of Theology and Religious Studies, John McCarthy, the Dean of the School of Philosophy, and Thomas Smith, the Dean of the School of Arts and Sciences, especially for their support for our program as well as the university’s provost, Dr. Aaron Dominguez, who’s been very supportive of our efforts as well. I also want to thank the donors to the Institute for Human Ecology and especially the board of the Institute, many of the members of which are here today. This afternoon’s lecture is the fruit of a partnership of IHE with two other wonderful institutions, the Thomistic Institute based at the Dominican House of Studies… and I want to thank especially its director Father Dominic Legge, who’s here today… and also the Program in Constitutional Originalism and the Catholic Intellectual Tradition at the Columbus School of Law. And I want to thank its director, Professor Joel Alicea and also Dean Stephen Payne of the law school. We’re very grateful for the collaboration with Thomistic Institute and the Program in Constitutional Originalism.

Today, the program, as I said, makes our in-person debut. And there’s no better way to begin than with today’s lecturer, Professor Russell Hittinger. Professor Hittinger holds a bachelor’s degree from the University of Notre Dame and a Ph.D. From Saint louis University. He was Warren Professor of Catholic Studies at the University of Tulsa from 1996 to 2019. Prior to that, he was on the faculty of the School of Philosophy here at Catholic University. He’s been a visiting professor at many institutions including Fordham, Princeton, The Catholic University of Ružomberok in Slovakia, Regina Apostolorum in Rome, and frequently at the Dominican School of Philosophy and Theology. He’s been an ordinary member of the Pontifical Academy of Saint Thomas Aquinas since 2005 and was, from 2009 to 2019, an ordinary member of the Pontifical Academy of the Social Sciences. I believe he’s only one of two laypersons who’s been a member simultaneously of two pontifical academies. Dr. Hittinger is the author of three books and over 100 scholarly articles. It’s a great joy to say that today marks not only the inauguration of the annual Catholic Political Thought lecture, but also of Russ’ return to Catholic University, where he is now Senior Fellow in the Institute for Human Ecology and Research Professor in the School of Philosophy. It’s my great pleasure to introduce Russell Hittinger, whose lecture is entitled, How to Inherit a Kingdom: Reflections on the Situation of Catholic Political Thought.

Francis Russell Hittinger (05:34):
Thank you. Testing. Loud and clear? Good. I too would like to thank the sponsors of this inaugural lecture. Of course, Professor Capizzi, the fellows and the staff of the Institute for Human Ecology, co-sponsors Father Dominic in Thomistic Institute and the CIT run by professor Alicea and Kevin Walsh. In 1890, Leo XIII wrote, “The political prudence of the pontiff embraces diverse and multiform things, for it is his charge not only to rule the Church but generally so to regulate the actions of Christian citizens that these may be an apt conformity to their hope of gaining eternal salvation.” The letter was entitled Sapientiae Christianae. Basically, on principles of Christian wisdom. Specifically, truths concerning our supernatural end. But he also refers to the regnative prudence of ecclesial authority. Directing citizens who are baptized. Even if the direction is about political morality, the prudential directives presuppose sanctifying grace and a supernatural end. In other words, it’s under the formality of the new law.

But to direct those who have sanctifying grace to right judgment and action regarding political life requires prudence because so many of the issues are contingent. Especially when they concern the proper relationship between the church and temporal political authority. When we are speaking of representative governments, this has even more gravity, for wherever there is such responsibility vested in citizens, whether small Italian communes of the 12th century or the vast republics that emerged in the late 18th century, baptized citizens have more rather than less burden of sorting out what belongs to the two cities. For citizens are not vassals. Thus, it does little good for the pope to go over their heads and pow wow only with the top dog in the temporal domain. The citizens are the top dog.

For his part, Leo understood the world he inhabited. Nothing he mused is more useful than to look upon the world as it really is. This pontificate marks a revolution in pontifical letters, for Christian wisdom has to be communicated not merely to Catholics who are subjects, but to Catholics who are citizens in France, Germany, Italy, Belgium, and so forth. Thus, he observed in an allocution just two years after this [inaudible 00:08:54]. Quote, “Faith embodied in the conscience of the people rather than restoration of medieval institutions is the way to final victory.” As it turned out, Leo’s greatest problem was the French church. The Third Republic became more aggressively laicist with every passing decade, even though somewhat paradoxically it was still under the 1801 concordant signed by Napoleon and Pius VII. Much was at stake. Chiefly the law of divorce, which had been excised from the Napoleonic Code.

Born in 1810, Leo had seen an enormous span of great historical events. The captivity of Pius VII. His released by the French. The demise of Napoleon. The loss of the Papal States, which was the longest continuous temporal government in Western Europe until the summer of 1870. Bismarck’s Kulturkampf. Leo, I should say, really possessed those chief parts of prudence. Especially memory, foresight, circumspection, and above all, caution. So right into French church in 1892, he observed that the ocean of time transforms most human institutions, especially political ones. Unlike the church founded by Christ, in marriage… even natural marriage, both of which have a divinely in sculpted and fixed form… political order has no fixed form. God the author of nature does not guarantee the perpetuity of a particular political form. Thus, he counseled the French Catholics to dial down the temperature of debate about the relative merits of monarchical versus republican forms. What was at stake was a laicist crackdown that could endanger the two societies that really are divinely insculpted: marriage and church. And this is exactly what happened. A decade later, the republic dissolved the concordant, expelled religious orders, closed Catholic schools and provided for civil divorce.

Even in Immortale Dei, which I think most scholars would regard as the most doctrinal and cyclical on political things, is very carefully worded. Here I quote Leo. “Hence, civil society established for the common welfare should not only safeguard the wellbeing of the community, but also have at heart the interest of its individual members. In such mode as not in any way to hinder but in every manner to render as easy as may be the possession of the highest unchangeable good for which all should seek. Wherefore, for this purpose, care must be especially taken to preserve unharmed and unimpeded the religion whereof the practice is the link connecting man to God.” Clearly, he was not asking the Third Republic to make laws about religion, not directly, much less to direct citizens to a supernatural land, but rather not to hinder and to preserve unharmed and unimpeded the religious practices of Catholics.

Respect for these social and political contingencies was also reflected in the textbooks of the pre-conciliar Church. Textbooks that were used to teach clergy, religious, and lay students in universities take, for example, Henri Grenier’s three-volume work, Thomistic Philosophy. 1948. In the sections on church and state… By the way, he was the student of [inaudible 00:13:04]. This guy was not a liberal. But in the sections on church and state, we find no fewer than 12 prescriptions for rightly ordered relations between church and state and at least nine are contingent. That is, they need to be read in the sense of conditional clauses. If-then.

He distinguishes obligations in the light of pagan states… that is, not Christian… no presupposition of baptism or sanctifying grace, which means that pagan political authority is intact and under natural law for neither sin or grace. Take away the natural avidity of human persons to form political society. And he distinguishes these from apostate Christian peoples or actively schismatic or rebellious Christian peoples. The conditions of which must be further delineated for what are proper relations. And finally, liberal states marked by the right of liberty of conscience or by one or another constitutional prohibition on the making of laws respecting religion. I’m not going to continue that list because I only want to make a moral point here at the outset. Namely, if one doesn’t have a stomach for such historical and social contingencies, not to mention reversals of fortune, then perhaps the church state questions are not for you.

Now, I can turn to my main subject. I want to locate a fundamental principle that can serve as a light. Not at the end of the tunnel of contingencies, but one that illuminates our path at the very beginning. So here we go. I’m speaking for myself. I’m a separationist. It’s not a slogan. It’s a principle learned from Saint Thomas and Saint Augustine, who learned it by studying the New Testament. The proper term for the relationship between the kingdom here below and the temporal state is separate or separated. That means, for starters, set apart. A holy people as Christ, the God man is set apart as the new temple. I’m not speaking here of separation as a juridical act or constitution of government. Certainly not the US Constitution, which almost everyone in the room surely understands never uses the word separation.

I mean by separation a theological principle. What Cardinal Journet once called the central duality. Not a separation done by human hands but rather by divinity. The term separation rather than integral is a first order term. If we start with the notion of integral as a first premise, we’re almost bound to make mistakes. We first need to understand what it means to be set apart and then we can get around to trying to understand what is integral. By the way, in this talk, I do not directly address any integralists because I’m speaking for myself and because I think integralists will agree with my premise even if they’re somewhat cautious or disturbed about where I want to take it.

So, let’s begin with separation. The title of my talk, How to Inherit a Kingdom, is traceable to late September 410. 1612 years ago last week. It’s at this time that Augustine’s sermons turn to the catastrophe. That is, Alaric’s sack of Rome. Happened about five weeks earlier. Saint Jerome, for his part, bemoaned that the whole world is perishing in one city. But Augustine was annoyed that so many Christians blamed the catastrophe on Christ. From time immemorial, deities were expected to protect the safety and prosperity of the city by a virtually universal custom. Religion bound men and women not so much to their gods, but their gods to the public common good. So if the empire is now overseen by Christian emperors, where is Christ? For weak and recently converted Christians, the Sack of 410 suggested that an incompetent deity was on duty. Just when Christians had some political grip on imperial power, Rome itself was shattered.

Augustine understood almost right away that this complaint suggests that at least some of his flock had not understood the difference between Christianity and pagan integralism. Indeed, his main hemolytic theme for quite some time became how to inherit a kingdom. Sermon 113A, quoting Matthew 25. “Come, blessed of my Father and receive the kingdom.” In these catastrophe sermons, he admonishes his flock in this tone of voice. But the Lord and his ministers were preparing you to receive a divine kingdom that is not of this world. For your part you preferred to grieve for the stones of Rome. Augustine was insistent that they learned the dominical words, my kingdom is not of this world, John 18. Here, I’m quoting. “Listen, therefore, Jews and Gentiles. Listen, uncircumcision. Listen, all earthly kingdoms. I am no hindrance to your dominion in this world. What more do you want? Come to the kingdom that is not of the world by believing.”

As for those who govern the church, Augustine admonishes them to imitate Noah, Daniel, and Job. These sermons were swiftly reworked into book one, The City of God. Interestingly, this is the sole book of the City of God that mostly criticizes Christians on grounds both of weak morals and even weaker faith. It’s also worth remarking that between this first sermon, How to Inherit a Kingdom, and his writing of book one of the City of God, who should show up in North Africa other than Pelagius himself taking flight from his now uncomfortable habitation in Rome? Indeed, it’s Pelagius who becomes an object of the main question. How can one here below inherit a kingdom except by supernatural faith?

Now, back to separation. For his part, Leo XII insisted, quote, “It cannot be doubted under safeguard of the faith that the governance of souls was committed to the church alone in such wise that powers of the political order have no share whatsoever in it,” unquote. To have no share whatever is precisely what I mean by separation. In making sense of church and the world, including the political powers, separation is a first order term because it describes what’s essential to the kingdom. Being set apart, having a suture supernatural end, as well as supernatural capacities for achieving that end.

Thomas Aquinas, who relied heavily on Augustine’s understanding of what belongs to this world in contrast to the kingdom, comments on John 18. “My kingdom is not of this world, that is, does no have its origin in earthly causes and human choice.” Unquote. That’s from the Catena Aurea. We never say that the [foreign language 00:21:41] or imperium is separate from the families and associations that compose it. Rather, we affirm that the government is distinguished but not separated from the component parts. The living stones, so to speak. For common sense, we say that when some thing or group is integral, we affirm that its elements can be distinguished but not separated. The kingdom in pilgrimage, however, does not consist of other societies as integral parts.

This is why, for nearly 1500 years, resolving overlapping interests of civil and ecclesial powers, the problems and tensions of, I’d put it, comedy of jurisdictions, can be solved by concord but rarely are. And if they are, not for long. I offer this explanation for that fact. What I take to be a fact. It’s difficult not to think of the church as the highest region of a single society. Perhaps for progressives today, an international one. Perhaps for conservatives, a national one. But it’s hard not to think of the church as the upper region of a single integral society. But the church here below is set aside, separated, sanctified, and as Aquinas argues, in Questions on Religion in the Secunda Secundae, what is holy is always separated. Therefore, the word integral is not fit to do this first bit of work.

Here again I quote Thomas. “In order to dispose our affections, the gospel contains things that involve that hatred of the world through which a man comes to have a capacity or the grace of the Holy Spirit. For as John 14 says, the lovers of the world cannot take in [inaudible 00:24:07] the Holy Spirit.” So this dominical saying, that my kingdom is not of this world, is really of supreme importance. We know that Jesus’ own disciples vehemently resisted this teaching until after Pentecost. Over the course of church history, many of their successors and our own brethren are unnerved by the teaching. And I think I understand why. It is unnerving.

The recurrent… By the way, these next few paragraphs, I rely heavily on the philosophical instruction I got from my editor Scott Roninger, who is in the audience. The recurrent perennial position post [inaudible 00:25:01] in real historical time is pagan integralism. And I would argue that pagan integralism flows in part from the natural human desire for immortality run amuck after sin. By the way, read Ratzinger on that one. He’s very good on this question. Read book one of The City of God. The highest practical expression of the desire for immortality is to participate in political life. It outlasts the individual, the family, and the tribe. Normal people will grieve the loss of their political society more than even the loss of their own lives. Political life is therefore the highest practical expression of achieving immortality that, to quote Thomas again, we can do by our own causes. By earthly causes and human choice.

Pagan integralism is contrary to the kingdom insofar as it includes genuine political elements that… I say contrary. I mean other than. But it’s contradictory to the kingdom insofar as it tends to exalt itself into the mode of savior and giver of immortality. It was Christ who had to achieve the separation as a dimension of his overcoming of sin and death. We can even say that, if the higher life doesn’t achieve separation by transcending the political, its activities are not being done badly. Rather than that, they’re not being done at all. It’s the very first thing the supernatural society has to do. The political is not bad. It’s just dangerous if it’s confused with a broken and exaggerated sense of immortality by nature alone.

Let me sharpen the meaning a little bit further. When I use the word separation, I can mean two things. Separate can mean contradictory or it can mean contrary. For example, the reign of sin and death is contradictory to the kingdom even here below and the church must be separated from it. But we can say that political life just as such is a good thing… not inherently sinful or death dealing… but even so it’s contrary to other than the kingdom. It’s perhaps paradoxical, but if Christians are to fecundate the world, it cannot come by being united to the state or becoming one with the reign of sin and death. Rather, the church must achieve both kinds of separation as fully as possible. Separate from what is contradictory and separate from what is contrary. Along the lines of merely contrary, for example, Jesus says there’s no marriage or family in heaven. The mode of human fellowship in heaven does not include natural procreation and family. This is not contradictory. It’s only contrary.

Politics has its foundational principles in morals under natural law, custom, and various species of human law. The capacities and actions deployed to secure this order are connatural to human beings even if political order is difficult to achieve and even more difficult to maintain. In sharp distinction, however, no person can direct another to the kingdom without presupposing grace. Sacramentally, this means baptism, but more generally, it just means sanctifying grace. This follows from our baptism. We participate in [inaudible 00:29:16] Christ. Priest, prophet, and king. We call these integral because they belong to the same order for the same end. Distinguishable, not separable.


On these and other related questions, I proposed that the most important Catholic thinker of the 20th century is Joseph Ratzinger, both as bishop, cardinal, and pope. And I think his most neglected theological treatise is his book on eschatology. Ratzinger treats the fundamental distinction between morals by nature and the formal efficient and final causes of initiation into the kingdom, properly understood as eschatology. First, the Church imitates Christ who himself taught the rudiments of the moral law and virtue. Such teaching is given to all the natures, but the kingdom, which is the locus of eschatology, is not an association that’s sociologically familiar in the usual sense because the kingdom is the person of Christ and its inhabitants are those who draw near to him by grace.

I’m quoting now Ratzinger. “The message of the kingdom of God has something very important to say to politics. It is healthy for politics to learn that its own content is not eschatological. The setting asunder of eschatology and politics is one of the fundamental tasks of Christian theology.” End quote. Why is this an eschatological distinction? I think for Ratzinger it goes like this. The true [inaudible 00:31:06], the temple, the regnum, is Christ. To us properly called autobasileia. For when Christians are moved by the Holy Spirit to make an act of faith, that is itself truly an eschatological event. At the trial of Christ, Pilate assumed that Jesus was representing something other than himself. Just as Pilate represented Caesar. And so Pilate was confounded. To Pilate he says, “I am the truth.” In other words, I’m not delivering a message from someone else as do the prophets. This is eschatological. The completion is now and it’s standing before you. Thomas, in his commentary on John 18, makes a big deal out of that line.

But anyway, on this point, Ratzinger observes Jesus had actually achieved a separation of the religious from the political, thereby changing the world. He began to detach these two hitherto inseparable realities from one another. And I continue the quotation. “The transformation of human nature and the world with it is possible only as miracle of grace. Where it is regarded as being rather the building site where the house of politics is under construction, we find a rank in possibility if this is taken to be a foundation for all human reality The kingdom of God is not a political norm, but it is a moral norm of political things. In other words, the message of the kingdom of God is significant for political life, not by way of eschatology, but by way of political ethics, chiefly justice.”

He continues. A very interesting remark. “Nevertheless, we must not be too hasty in condemning the purely political outlook of his opponents. For in the world they inhabited, the two spheres, political and religious, were inseparable.” So integralism of a certain kind really has a place in human history insofar as men and women do not understand the Christian difference. On this distinction between eschatological and moral, Christians find themselves under the governance of rulers who are somewhat like infidels, somewhat like apostates. But it’s very daunting that, in today’s world, Christians are more apt to be punished by law and common opinion over their moral standards than the strictly eschatological ones. It’s a sublime paradox for us.

My final section. Avatars. 50 years ago, Étienne Gilson Louvain lectures were published in our English edition, CUA Translation, Metamorphoses of the City of God. His main theme is the problem of trying to achieve a universal human society. He explores that problem through the thought of seven Christian, or at least Christian inspired, thinkers. But on this occasion, I’m interested in Gilson’s eschatology. Let’s set the scene. Gilson was addressing the political and ecclesial leaders of the West in the early 1950s when a new kairos, a moment had been declared for the [inaudible 00:34:56] city in both its domestic and international tasks. These included decolonization and rebuilding of Western Europe, the founding of the United Nations, publication of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights, nuclear disarmament. There were two decades of optimism which subsided rather quickly in the late 1960s. But anyway, in 1952, Gilson set out to challenge this moment.

His thesis and conclusion can be considered in this arresting thought. I quote. “If a lesson emerges about the history of the city of God and its avatars, it has assumed during the course of these centuries it is first of all that it cannot be metamorphisized. What is common to these attempts is the substitution of a human bond for the bond of faith. This occurs in the hope that some human bond will be universalized more easily than faith.” But of course, Gilson contends there’s no other way to know and to have the kingdom except to participate by faith. And he cites on this score Aquinas. Summa Contra Gentiles 1.6.

So we’re quoting Aquinas now. “The divine wisdom that knows all things most fully has deigned to reveal these her secrets to men, and in proof of them has displayed works beyond the competence of all natural powers, in the wonderful cure of diseases, in the raising of the dead. And what is more wonderful still, in such inspiration of human minds that a simple and ignorant persons, filled with the gift to the Holy Ghost, have gained in an instant the height of wisdom in eloquence. By force of the aforesaid proof, without violence of arms, without promise of pleasures, and, most wonderful thing of all, in the midst of the violence persecutors, a countless multitude not only of the uneducated but of the wisest men flocked to the Christian faith, wherein doctrines are preached that transcend all human understanding. That mortal minds should assent to such teaching is the greatest of miracles. [foreign language 00:37:29] and a manifest work of divine inspiration leading men to despise the visible and desire only invisible things.” End quote.

Gilson remarks that faith is not naturally transmittable by simple rational demonstration, but rather stems from a consent in which the will takes apart. And this is precisely why the problem is posed of finding out how to universalize it. The supernatural virtue of faith, he points out, is the Holy Spirit moving the will to move the intellect. It’s not so much a search as it is an adherence to divine word. The kingdom begins in creatures by adherence to Christ. It’s already eschatological. Human and divine share a life. This, says Thomas. is the greatest of miracles. Greater than the raising of the dead.

The avatars of Christendom, Gilson continues, substitute an intramundane task or mission. What Ratzinger calls the building of a better world work site. This task comes under morals, but it’s vulnerable once it enters the territory of collapsing eschatology into social teaching. The specifically Christian difference vanishes and, as Ratzinger suggested, the entire confession of faith is brought under the single theme of hope. A social gospel without adherence of supernatural faith and unmindful of what Gilson calls the shadow of the cross. The worst scenario is that Christians themselves craving to be avatars of an intratemporal social empire.

He concludes that given the adherence of faith, a diffuse civilization is born around the church. We find observable Christian social formations, Christian culture, all the things that socially supervene upon those who have faith. And we can’t forget. For nearly four centuries after the crucifixion, Christians went from a few thousand to 30 million adherence by the time Augustine was baptized. Miraculously. Little help of the state and often with persecution. This is Christendom in Gilson’s sense of the term. Social formations named for the way Christians live. In order to remain Christian, it must undertake two separations. Separation from that which is contradictory and that which is contrary. I take this to be an essential insight, perennial insight, of theology.

But I’ll let Chantal Delsol have the last word in her new book. “In its pretension to establish itself as a civilization, Christianity ended up producing a monstrous avatar that is at the same time its alter ego and its mortal enemy.” Unquote. I take her to be saying this. When the Christian Church sloughs off faith, it lets loose phony eschatologies in the world. Avatars. But what’s worse is that the church herself made vulnerable to being an avatar of temporal powers. And we will find persistently what’s at the root of it is that separation is secretly regarded as an evil by Christians. And it would be an evil if we were talking just about social things. Marriage, family, polity and so forth. But we are talking now about how to inherit a kingdom and, here, separation is the beginning of wisdom. Thank you.

Bradley Lewis (41:59):
So, we have time for questions. Members of our crack IHE staff have got microphones.

Speaker 3 (42:22):
Russ, I know you’ve written in the past about the difference it made for Catholic social thinking for Papal’s territories to shrink and shrink and shrink over the last couple of centuries. Is this related to what you’re talking about here or does this… You talked about how that affected the church’s ability to teach.

Francis Russell Hittinger (42:47):
Territorial Christendom is a contradiction in terms because the Christianity is not a territorial religion. Maritain himself argued in his first book of any note, which was Primacy of the Spiritual… He said Christendom died 500 years ago with the treaties of Westphalia, in which sovereignty… absolute, perpetual, indivisible power… was applied to a certain piece of land. But listen, Christianity is not confined to territory that way. There are religious orders. There are marriages. Catholic marriage in Toulouse is valid when they go down to Lombardy. It is not territorial in that sense. And so the outlier is what to make of the Papal States. Originally, they weren’t called Papal States. They were given by Pepin, Charlemagne’s father. They were called the Patrimonium Petri. He actually gave them to Saint Peter. And how to understand being a universal pastor and at the same time being a territorial sovereign created almost a thousand years of trouble and jokes.

So when the Pope as pope would issue [inaudible 00:44:28] the list of complaints against temporal sovereigns… It was called the [foreign language 00:44:38]. They put the list of complaints to people on horseback. And they would head for France. They would head for Austria. Only to be intercepted at the border of the Papal States. And the sovereigns would joke, “The Pope can only complain about his own errors in exercising sovereign.” So, yeah. By the way, I’m not making any claim that God deliberately got rid of the Papal States. I’m just saying it is true that, within 10 or 15 years, the Catholic social teaching was up and running in a way it wasn’t before. Coincidence perhaps.

Speaker 4 (45:47):
Thank you for your interesting and provocative lecture. It provokes a host of questions, but I’ll try to narrow in on one. I’m wondering how the second part of your talk fit with the first one. You stated in the first one… Your conclusion of the first part was that one without a sufficient stomach for historical contingencies maybe ought not to address this particular question. But in the second part, it seems like you were establishing kind of a timeless principle in response to this problem. I guess, if one does not interpret that in that way, one way to harmonize it would be to take very seriously the point that you made, which is that a pagan political society is essentially integralist. You repeatedly called it the Christian difference. The Christian insight, the Christian revelation, that allowed for a distinction. One would think that you were… One way to interpret that, I guess, is to say something like it’s in fact only a Christian state, a Christian society, including the political dimension, that would be capable of avoiding the drift into integralism. Precisely because it’s in fact a Christian difference. That doesn’t seem to be the direction, though, that you would want to take. It seems like you would want something like a liberal state has a better conception in a kind of-

Francis Russell Hittinger (48:01):
You notice I didn’t argue that.

Speaker 4 (48:01):
… universalist sense would a better… would do the separation of eschatology better than a Christian state would.

Francis Russell Hittinger (48:09):
That’s not my thesis.

Speaker 4 (48:10):
Okay. So, yeah, I’d be interested to know how you would-

Francis Russell Hittinger (48:15):
As to the first point though… Because I had 40 minutes and you haven’t heard the entire paper. I had to say something about church state rigmarole. But I wanted to get to a principle that is antecedent to all of that. That’s the explanation for the exposition, anyway. I mean, that’s whole other matter because, when we say liberal, which one are we talking about? If we simply mean that the state, the political powers, do not propose their competence on matters essentially relating to the kingdom, that’s a different kind of liberalism than what we have today, in which they assert such competencies. So, it’s a difference. But the latter is a kind of laicist liberalism, which is certainly incompatible with any of my ideas. The other one… Actually, I could defend a juridical doctrine of separation, but I would have to be very specific because you have to name what you’re talking about. I’m not giving you the answer you want?

Speaker 4 (49:51):
[inaudible 00:49:53].

Francis Russell Hittinger (49:54):
It would be a longer conversation. But you can see what principle I would probably go to immediately to understand even Grenier’s list of all of the obligations. By the way, nine of the obligations, if you put them together in a five page essay would be, [foreign language 00:50:15]. If you did it coherently in about five pages, nine of the 12 obligations would fit pretty well with [inaudible 00:50:26], which is to make a twofold argument that political authority does not have rightful power to move people to a supernatural end. That’s part two of [inaudible 00:50:41]. And, part one, to try to directly coerce natural conscience. That’s [inaudible 00:50:54]. I think you’d find them all in volume three at the very end of Thomistic Philosophy. 1948. To remove an obstacle, not to do something can be a very important political principle.

Speaker 5 (51:33):
Thank you. Coming over from politics, if I might somewhat continue that line but ask a somewhat political question. You talked a fair bit implicitly and explicitly about French history and the tumultuous relationship of the Church there. My question goes to whether we aren’t in a moment where the world is somewhat shifting under our feet and whether that requires rethinking a lot of arguments about integralism, separation, and so on. Because separation depends upon the sphere of Christian life being allowed to exist and that there’s not a separation in the important things. Family life and so on. As you know, with the French Revolution, all that was attacked, but over time the Church managed to have a role and a Christian life remained rather vigorous in a way. At this time, it seems the sphere that allows a Christian integralism in the social institutions of family and so on is very much under attack in all. We need that sphere for that to exist. I wonder if that challenges the argument that you’re making. This is different now than it was maybe even five years ago. Are we in a critical moment in that way?

Bradley Lewis (53:01):
Of course, if I’m on the right track about the theological understanding of separation, there’s no historical contingency that’s going to make it irrelevant, but I understand your question. Right. We are under attack. Without any theological sophistication, I should say. But chiefly, we are held to be immoral and unjust. They don’t go into crazy ideas about the resurrection of the dead or sacraments. Those are left to one side. We are judged to be haters of human beings. We are unjust and immoral. That’s what I’m hearing. It can be said much more politely, but that is the charge. The charge is not that we eat the body of Christ or all these kind. It’s that we’re immoral and unjust. And that does fall under civil rule. I mean, just how much under civil rule, but it does in principle it seems, fall under civil rule. So they do not believe themselves to be instituting religion or punishing religion, but immorality. Is that what you’re seeing?

Speaker 5 (54:39):
Well, that leaves us in a rather difficult spot for making an argument that it’s viable to continue a correct form of integralism within a larger separated earthly sphere. Where are the two kingdoms at this moment? How can one maintain that? Does it not impact… I don’t know. That’s a question I ask myself, at least. I don’t know.

Francis Russell Hittinger (55:04):
There has been a fair amount of historical evidence that it thrives under that kind of persecution.

Speaker 5 (55:12):
One could hope.

Bradley Lewis (55:14):
We have time for one more question.

Speaker 6 (55:21):
Thank you very much. I was really interested to hear your thoughts with regard to Augustine and the city of God. I’m wondering. When I think about Augustine now and in our current contemporary circumstances, Christians within a secularized world, could one describe Augustine as an isolationist for the city of God contra the secular city? Thank you.

Francis Russell Hittinger (55:54):
No because he thought, until the end of time, they’re thoroughly mixed together. That’s Augustine’s teaching. In other words, if… At the end of book one of The City of God, he warns the Christians, there are people who go to our worship and then duck out to the Colosseum or other sorts of things. And there are people who persecute us that will be our brethren in heaven. That’s Augustine. They are mixed together. In a sociological sense of the term, they’re mixed together. Ma’am.

Bradley Lewis (56:46):
Okay, let’s thank Professor Hittinger.

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