01 July 2018

Imperial Catholicism & Duties of Citizenship

Sub Tuum.

The notion of citizenship and duty of citizenship is one with which men and women of faith often struggle. We are taught to be faithful citizens of the state, yet we are taught to be faithful to Christ. Both the Church and the State today command and demand supremacy. We are all pulled in two directions. To some extent, it has always been that way. Yet, as people of faith, we are first and foremost citizens of the Church, both in a broad sense and as citizens of the particular jurisdiction to which we belong. Only in that context may we consider any citizenship we may have in a temporal state. Indeed, we are dual citizens, and our loyalty is and must remain first and above all to the Church. As society has secularised, this is becoming more and more challenging. Yet, we must neither be afraid nor worry, but instead go forward in faith, trusting always in the love of God and the intercession of the Blessed Virgin, St. Michael the Archangel, and all the Saints. 

Secular society today, particularly in secular republics and democracies, is unsurprisingly at odds with the traditional Catholic faith. Imperial Catholicism in its modern context refers to traditional Old Roman Catholicism, descended from the ancient Diocese of Utrecht, affiliated with the Holy Roman Empire. In its broader sense, Imperial Catholicism simply is the true and authentic Catholicism of the ages. So, it is no surprise that the church and state are at odds today, for they have been always at odds to one degree or another. There was even conflict between the Church and the various Catholic monarchies, and indeed at times even with the Holy Roman Empire, the temporal wing of the Church. Today, though, there are no longer any truly Catholic states. Italy, Spain, and Ireland have all fallen to secularism, as has France. Those states may be historically Catholic or even have a Catholic majority, but it is essentially Catholic in name only. Secularism reigns at present. 

In other countries, such as the United States of America, there is an infestation of concepts contrary to the faith in general, coupled with a Protestant influence that has worked against Catholicism for centuries. Indeed, the U.S. was founded on principles of Deism and the Enlightenment, both of which stress relativism and the supremacy of man's logic. It is no surprise in the U.S. that not only has the Protestant majority sought constantly to persecute and eliminate Catholics, but the State has always attempted to exert supremacy over the Church. Granted, the U.S. religious freedom laws do thankfully provide a good deal of recognised autonomy to religious organisations. However, when Church Law and State Law come into conflict, the American State asserts its perceived supremacy, sadly ignoring the supremacy of Christ and His Holy Church. The American State considers Catholics to be citizens of the U.S. first and above all, Catholics second. Laws, tilted wholly in the favour of the Protestants and others, have been used as weapons to eradicate Catholics. New laws were passed, such as anti-garb laws, sponsored by such unsavoury organisations such as the Ku Klux Klan, which were aimed at removing any real or perceived Catholic influence. Physical violence has occurred as well throughout the years. It is difficult to view all of that and still take the assertions of religious freedom seriously. Similar conditions exist in various other secular republics as well. 

What, then, is a Catholic to do? It is all too tempting to cave in to the peer pressure and the pressure of the state, hide one's light under the proverbial bushel, and keep one's faith as something only for the home or church, or for clergy to hide the outward symbols of their state in life. Yet, this must never be allowed. Catholicism calls for men and women of courage. The faith demands warriors.

It is easier to cave in, to knuckle under and crawl, sacrificing all that is most sacred and most dear in the hopes of material gain or approval from a government, business, or organisation. Although that is wrong in totality, there is more to it than that. First, it starts small. Once you demonstrate that you will capitulate, you have set a life pattern, both for yourself and others. You will continue to capitulate. They will continue to expect you to comply. Only a dramatic event of self-change will result in anything different, and it will be met with the strictest of opposition to try to prevent you breaking free.

Another issue is that once one person capitulates, it becomes all the more difficult for others to stand firm. The so-called "domino effect" can eventually be set in motion until the faith has been driven underground or eliminated. Peer pressure and the herd-like behaviour so common among humans makes that easier to manipulate by those in positions of power or influence.

The idea of not doing something or not wearing something or not saying something to do with the faith because a secular authority says not to do so is, again, wrong in its totality. But again, it starts small. It is easy to say, "Ok, I will not wear this cross lapel pin, and they will leave me alone." That becomes all the more likely when under duress, i.e., under some form of threat. Like physical torture, such duress today against the Christian people is often just as effective. People capitulate to make the uncomfortable situation stop or to alleviate fear of negative outcome. However, the reality is that it does not change what is in one's heart, and so allowing it to be driven underground will eat a person up inside. It simply is not healthy. And, in reality it will not make the perpetrator of the persecution like you any more. Consider that fact. If a person asks you to cease something pertaining to religion, the most fundamental aspect of identity a human being can have, they do not like you. Conforming will not make them like you.

Therefore, whether in reference to a civil state or a private organisation, remember always that one's loyalty must be first to Christ and His Holy Church. We, the Christian Faithful, are first and foremost citizens of the Church. All else is second. The faith is the rock that provides stability to life and the compass that provides direction.

The legacy of Imperial Catholicism that we in our Patriarchate maintain, and indeed the legacy of the whole of Christ's Church is one of Church above State, as the Holy Faith of Christ mandates. It is the State that must yield to the will of the Church, not the other way around. Submission to earthly authority can be legitimate only insofar as that authority is consistent with the doctrine of the faith. Otherwise it is wholly and completely illegitimate. 

We must resist suppression at all costs. We must refuse to be driven into the shadows. We must refuse to yield to the tyranny that opposes our faith today.