The Kingship of Christ over All Human Societies: Modern Catholic Social Teaching on the separation of Church and State

The Apostolic letter Post tam Diuturnas and the later encyclical Quas Primas were both explicitly hostile to eighteenth-century notions of the separation of Church and State.  In Arcanum and elsewhere, Leo XIII envisioned the Church and the State as working together:  “If civil power combines in a friendly manner with the spiritual power of the Church, it necessarily follows that both parties will greatly benefit.”  St. Pius X was outspoken on the issue, and Pius XI asserted that the “Christ has no authority whatever in civil affairs” was a “grave error.”  Casti Connubi is quite fulsome in its expressed desire that the State will “assist” the Church by creating laws that protect all those matters that we now identify with “the culture of life,” including the discouragement of divorce and birth control.

Papal statements denouncing any assertion for the “separation of church and state” are uniform in the eighteenth through twentieth centuries.  A summary of early statements can be found in the “syllabus” collected by Bl. Pius IX and promulgated in Quant Cura.  This encyclical and its syllabus were referenced throughout the first half of the twentieths century.  It contains a group of errors related to Church-State relations, all soundly condemned.

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