15 January 2017

The Temporal Duties of the Church

Sub Tuum.

Absalon, Archbishop of Lund
A warrior bishop and statesman.
That there are segments of the Church hierarchy devoted to the temporal authority of the Church Militant here on earth is nothing new* and indeed is an essential element of the very fact that the Church, while not of this world, is nevertheless in this world. To shun that aspect of the Church in favor of spiritual piety only is to deny the fundamental nature of Christ's Church on earth. As Christ on earth had a dual nature - wholly God and wholly man - so, too does His Holy Church have the same dual nature. There is spiritual authority, and there is temporal authority. The latter flows from the the former. Both carry out the essential function of our Lord on earth. Even in today's world, where secular governments have experienced significant change in their form from earlier times in history, this dual nature of the Church is as relevant as ever, if not more so. If we claim it is irrelevant because at present we no longer rule territory (or much territory), we are guilty of ceding the legacy of the Church of establishing Christ among all men to the governments that are merely of this world. That which one has as a right given by God can not be taken away, but can only be given away. We must not and will not give away that which is our sacred right and our sacred duty to maintain. There is much to be done outside of the parish walls. It is by those to whom the legacy of the temporal authority of the Church has fallen that must provide the leadership for such work out in the world, even if that leadership is only provided by example. We can always hope for better times, but then no time in history is ever perfect. We live in this time period. We do not live in the past or in the future. We draw strength and guidance from the past. If we want a brighter future, then we must make it ourselves with the help of God. That is the duty of the temporal defenders of the faith. It always has been and always will be. Deus vult.

+Rutherford, Cardinal Count of Sainte Animie

* "One need not assume that on joining the church hierarchy young noblemen lost any of their military ambition or their taste for the knightly life. These were merely now channelled into the service of a church only too happy to make use of such qualities. Not surprisingly, these churchmen tended to show less concern for piety. Rising perhaps to become bishops and archbishops of the Empire, these noblemen more often administered the power than the sacraments of the church. In contrast to the communal living practiced by their brothers in the monasteries, many enjoyed themselves in their favourite estates or town houses. It is said that by the thirteenth century only lavish feasts and special delicacies could interest noble-born members of the Cologne church chapters in attending religious observances. Indications are, however, that for many men of the church active participation in military conflicts required considerably less incentive. A church hierarchy dominated by the offspring of the rural aristocracy, frequently practicing the quarrelsome lifestyle of their feudal relatives, undoubtedly succeeded in earning the mistrust of the urban bourgeoisie. Even an archbishop of Cologne was bound to be viewed not simply as a man of the church, but also a representative of a class whose values and interests frequently clashed with those of the new urban elite."
From "The Battle of Worringen, 1288: The History and Mythology of a notable Event" Thesis at the University of Alberta by Jan Mähler