This is a continuation of my article on Apologia Anglicana, The Catholic Church: A Perfect Society. Here I show the political conclusions of the biblical doctrine of the Church.
The Catholic Church is a communion of particular churches, bound together in faith with Jesus Christ as the head. It is a true societas perfecta, a society that has everything it needs for its purpose. If this is true, and established by God, then the Church serves as the perfect model of every civil society.
Authority from God
All authority, ecclesiastical or civil, comes from God. As St. Paul teaches,
Let every person be subject to the governing authorities. For there is no authority except from God, and those that exist have been instituted by God.Romans 13:1
Since every man is created by God and the family is given by God to all men, how else could one man have authority over the other? If it was just by some human arrangement, it wouldn’t be true civil rule and headship but contract work. Instead, God gives authority to human civil rulers to govern.
Therefore, each civil ruler needs to govern well, beholding the light of the Gospel illuminated by the Church. Of course, Jesus Christ is the head of the Church. However, His headship is not limited by the Church. Instead, the headship of Jesus Christ over the Church gives a perfect model of His headship over all things.
The civil ruler, who accepts the light of the Gospel, realises that everything he is and does is under the true King of Kings, Lord of the Nations: Jesus Christ, “for by him all things were created, in heaven and on earth, visible and invisible, whether thrones or dominions or rulers or authorities—all things were created through him and for him. And he is before all things, and in him all things hold together” (Col. 1:15-7).
Autonomy of the Head
The civil ruler is a true head of his civil society. This is perfectly modeled in the Church as well. In each particular church, each bishop continues the high priestly authority of Jesus Christ. Beyond that, he is to be pious, cherishing the Scriptures and the church’s tradition, which show the very raison d’être of the Church. Likewise, the civil ruler is responsible for his society, for governing it well and keeping not only the Christian faith but also civil piety. A civil ruler who loves not his nation and cherishes its history and traditions cannot be a good ruler.
However, the autonomy of the ruler cannot divorce him from the rest of the world. Just as a bishop exists in communion with the other faithful bishops, so the civil ruler should be in communion with the other rulers.
The civil ruler fundamentally acts for the good of his people while willing the good of others. This is the model of nationalism given by the Scriptures and lived out in the Church.
The Danger of Globalism
The danger creeps in when another false model is given. This may be the nebulous concept of “universal human rights”: obligations imposed upon civil rulers to help foreigners before their own people. Or it may come in the form of demanding allegiance to another civil authority first, such as the United Nations, such as requiring authorisation from an external body to govern in its own lands.
These intrusions not only are absent from the model of the Church but also antithetical to it. Surely, the Lord demands every man pursue virtue and act justly. However, just as a father needs to perform justice to his household first and foremost, and the bishop his particular church, so the civil ruler and his civil society.
Furthermore, just as any bishop can fall away from the faith and be removed from the communion of the Catholic Church, so any civil society can lose its purpose and collapse. This collapse happens when (1) God is not recognised as the one who gives the authority to rule, (2) the good foundational principles of the society are scorned, or (3) the autonomy of the nation is relinquished—in whole or in part—to a foreign body.
Solution of Patriotic Autonomy
The solution to this is patriotic autonomy. First and foremost, a society must cherish its history. It must value its traditions. And, despite this great piety, must constantly be reforming itself according to the law of God, for the wicked hate to be reformed (Ps. 50:17) and the ways of the wicked shall surely perish (Ps. 112:10). Second, the society must be truly perfect. That is, it must have everything necessary for its purpose. Once it cannot sustain itself and needs to look outside of itself, the danger of destruction begins to lurk. Then, once it engages in treaties which demand authorisation, approval, or even consultation in order to manage its internal affairs, hope of sovereignty and autonomy will be lost.