Feb 162011

“Of all tyrannies, a tyranny exercised for the good of its victims may be the most oppressive. It may be better to live under robber barons than under omnipotent moral busybodies. The robber baron’s cruelty may sometimes sleep, his cupidity may at some point be satiated; but those who torment us for our own good will torment us without end, for they do so with the approval of their own conscience.” – C.S. Lewis

Earlier today I wrote a post about the Catholic Church’s teachings with respect to the bearing and raising of children, specifically as expressed by Pope Piux XI in his encyclical Casti Conubii. In the course to applying my amateur skills to parsing the text into more widely accessible terms, I found myself disagreeing with the Holy Father on several points related to the relationship between Church and State.

My ideals with respect to Church-State relations flow primarily from the maxim, “In essentials, unity; in non-essentials, liberty; in all things, charity”. What I regard as essentials are introduced in broad strokes via the Philosophy of Liberty. However, while the State arrogates to itself matters proper to the Church or the individual, a faithful member of the Church has a moral obligation to use civic means to prevent the State from participating in or protecting evil. Just how to go about doing that is the subject of much debate, however.

Rather than clutter up my post on family planning with digressions about politics, I’ve decided to write a separate post here. In order to better understand the context of these remarks, the reader is encouraged to read my other post, or at least the full text of the encyclical itself.

All emphases in the quoted text below are mine.

“37. …what the families and individuals are, so also is the State, for a body is determined by its parts. Wherefore, both for the private good of husband, wife and children, as likewise for the public good of human society, they indeed deserve well who strenuously defend the inviolable stability of matrimony.”

This is a rather pernicious conflation of State and society. Lincoln’s paean to a government allegedly “of the people, by the people, and for the people” notwithstanding, the State is not an organic extension of its citizens. It is not an emergent phenomenon generated by natural processes. It is not the product of voluntary society. It is law, and law entails force. That force is negative, not in the sense of a moral evil, but in that its proper scope it inhibits behavior.

Frederic Bastiat describes it this way in The Law:

“What, then, is law? It is the collective organization of the individual right to lawful defense.

“Each of us has a natural right — from God — to defend his person, his liberty, and his property. These are the three basic requirements of life, and the preservation of any one of them is completely dependent upon the preservation of the other two. For what are our faculties but the extension of our individuality? And what is property but an extension of our faculties? If every person has the right to defend even by force — his person, his liberty, and his property, then it follows that a group of men have the right to organize and support a common force to protect these rights constantly. Thus the principle of collective right — its reason for existing, its lawfulness — is based on individual right. And the common force that protects this collective right cannot logically have any other purpose or any other mission than that for which it acts as a substitute. Thus, since an individual cannot lawfully use force against the person, liberty, or property of another individual, then the common force — for the same reason — cannot lawfully be used to destroy the person, liberty, or property of individuals or groups.

“Such a perversion of force would be, in both cases, contrary to our premise. Force has been given to us to defend our own individual rights. Who will dare to say that force has been given to us to destroy the equal rights of our brothers? Since no individual acting separately can lawfully use force to destroy the rights of others, does it not logically follow that the same principle also applies to the common force that is nothing more than the organized combination of the individual forces?

“If this is true, then nothing can be more evident than this: The law is the organization of the natural right of lawful defense. It is the substitution of a common force for individual forces. And this common force is to do only what the individual forces have a natural and lawful right to do: to protect persons, liberties, and properties; to maintain the right of each, and to cause justice to reign over us all.

“Can the law — which necessarily requires the use of force — rationally be used for anything except protecting the rights of everyone? I defy anyone to extend it beyond this purpose without perverting it and, consequently, turning might against right. This is the most fatal and most illogical social perversion that can possibly be imagined. It must be admitted that the true solution — so long searched for in the area of social relationships — is contained in these simple words: Law is organized justice.

“Now this must be said: When justice is organized by law — that is, by force — this excludes the idea of using law (force) to organize any human activity whatever, whether it be labor, charity, agriculture, commerce, industry, education, art, or religion. The organizing by law of any one of these would inevitably destroy the essential organization — justice. For truly, how can we imagine force being used against the liberty of citizens without it also being used against justice, and thus acting against its proper purpose?”

I couldn’t have said it better myself. Since Bastiat so eloquently states ideas near to my own, I shall rely on him heavily for the remainder of this article.

Getting back to the relationship between the Church and the State with respect to marriage let’s see what Pius XI says.

“73. It follows therefore that they are destroying mutual fidelity, who think that the ideas and morality of our present time concerning a certain harmful and false friendship with a third party can be countenanced, and who teach that a greater freedom of feeling and action in such external relations should be allowed to man and wife, particularly as many (so they consider) are possessed of an inborn sexual tendency which cannot be satisfied within the narrow limits of monogamous marriage. That rigid attitude which condemns all sensual affections and actions with a third party they imagine to be a narrowing of mind and heart, something obsolete, or an abject form of jealousy, and as a result they look upon whatever penal laws are passed by the State for the preserving of conjugal faith as void or to be abolished. Such unworthy and idle opinions are condemned by that noble instinct which is found in every chaste husband and wife, and even by the light of the testimony of nature alone, – a testimony that is sanctioned and confirmed by the command of God: ‘Thou shalt not commit adultry,'[55] and the words of Christ: ‘Whosoever shall look on a woman to lust after her hath already committed adultery with her in his heart.'[56] The force of this divine precept can never be weakened by any merely human custom, bad example or pretext of human progress, for just as it is the one and the same ‘Jesus Christ, yesterday and today and the same for ever.'[57] so it is the one and the same doctrine of Christ that abides and of which no one jot or tittle shall pass away till all is fulfilled.[58]”

Pius is wishes to see laws against adultery upheld.

“78. These enemies of marriage go further, however, when they substitute for that true and solid love, which is the basis of conjugal happiness, a certain vague compatibility of temperament. This they call sympathy and assert that, since it is the only bond by which husband and wife are linked together, when it ceases the marriage is completely dissolved. What else is this than to build a house upon sand? – a house that in the words of Christ would forthwith be shaken and collapse, as soon as it was exposed to the waves of adversity ‘and the winds blew and they beat upon that house. And it fell: and great was the fall thereof.'[59] On the other hand, the house built upon a rock, that is to say on mutual conjugal chastity and strengthened by a deliberate and constant union of spirit, will not only never fall away but will never be shaken by adversity.”

Serial monogamy and unwedded cohabitation are condemned.

“79. We have so far, Venerable Brethren, shown the excellency of the first two blessings of Christian wedlock which the modern subverters of society are attacking. And now considering that the third blessing, which is that of the sacrament, far surpasses the other two, we should not be surprised to find that this, because of its outstanding excellence, is much more sharply attacked by the same people. They put forward in the first place that matrimony belongs entirely to the profane and purely civil sphere, that it is not to be committed to the religious society, the Church of Christ, but to civil society alone. They then add that the marriage contract is to be freed from any indissoluble bond, and that separation and divorce are not only to be tolerated but sanctioned by the law; from which it follows finally that, robbed of all its holiness, matrimony should be enumerated amongst the secular and civil institutions. The first point is contained in their contention that the civil act itself should stand for the marriage contract (civil matrimony, as it is called), while the religious act is to be considered a mere addition, or at most a concession to a too superstitious people. Moreover they want it to be no cause for reproach that marriages be contracted by Catholics with non-Catholics without any reference to religion or recourse to the ecclesiastical authorities. The second point which is but a consequence of the first is to be found in their excuse for complete divorce and in their praise and encouragement of those civil laws which favor the loosening of the bond itself. As the salient features of the religious character of all marriage and particularly of the sacramental marriage of Christians have been treated at length and supported by weighty arguments in the encyclical letters of Leo XIII, letters which We have frequently recalled to mind and expressly made our own, We refer you to them, repeating here only a few points.

“85. The advocates of the neo-paganism of today have learned nothing from the sad state of affairs, but instead, day by day, more and more vehemently, they continue by legislation to attack the indissolubility of the marriage bond, proclaiming that the lawfulness of divorce must be recognized, and that the antiquated laws should give place to a new and more humane legislation. Many and varied are the grounds put forward for divorce, some arising from the wickedness and the guilt of the persons concerned, others arising from the circumstances of the case; the former they describe as subjective, the latter as objective; in a word, whatever might make married life hard or unpleasant. They strive to prove their contentions regarding these grounds for the divorce legislation they would bring about, by various arguments. Thus, in the first place, they maintain that it is for the good of either party that the one who is innocent should have the right to separate from the guilty, or that the guilty should be withdrawn from a union which is unpleasing to him and against his will. In the second place, they argue, the good of the child demands this, for either it will be deprived of a proper education or the natural fruits of it, and will too easily be affected by the discords and shortcomings of the parents, and drawn from the path of virtue. And thirdly the common good of society requires that these marriages should be completely dissolved, which are now incapable of producing their natural results, and that legal reparations should be allowed when crimes are to be feared as the result of the common habitation and intercourse of the parties. This last, they say must be admitted to avoid the crimes being committed purposely with a view to obtaining the desired sentence of divorce for which the judge can legally loose the marriage bond, as also to prevent people from coming before the courts when it is obvious from the state of the case that they are Iying and perjuring themselves, – all of which brings the court and the lawful authority into contempt. Hence the civil laws, in their opinion, have to be reformed to meet these new requirements, to suit the changes of the times and the changes in men’s opinions, civil institutions and customs. Each of these reasons is considered by them as conclusive, so that all taken together offer a clear proof of the necessity of granting divorce in certain cases.

“86. Others, taking a step further, simply state that marriage, being a private contract, is, like other private contracts, to be left to the consent and good pleasure of both parties, and so can be dissolved for any reason whatsoever.

Pius condemns those who would remove marriage from the purview of the Church and hand it over entirely to the State. In the process, though, he has made two logical errors. The first is that he has assumed that all who wish reduce marriage in the civil sphere to private contract wish to entirely remove marriage from the religious sphere. On the contrary, libertarian Catholics (Catholic libertarians?) such as myself wish to leave marriage, the sacramental joining of one man and one woman for unitive and procreative ends, to the Church (other private institutions may define marriage as they see fit, as they already do); a contract of civil or domestic union would merely add public legal recognition to what a couple has already contracted privately. There should laws pertaining to contractual unions for the sake of insurance, inheritance, etc., but marriage should be a private affair mediated by religious institutions, if at all. That way, the Church can marry or not marry whomever it pleases and the State can limit itself to setting and protecting civil contract laws. In such a system, domestic partnerships needn’t be be restricted in any way to marriage. For instance, two elderly sisters couldn’t register themselves as mutually committed despite sharing residence and financial burdens.

As a libertarian, I don’t believe the State should have anything to with marriage, whatsoever, beyond enforcing contract law. Like the “modern subverters of society” Pius decries, I contend that “the civil act itself should stand for the marriage contract”. However, unlike them, I do not believe that “the religious act is to be considered a mere addition, or at most a concession to a too superstitious people”. On the contrary, I believe the religious act to be the far more significant one, and the civil act is of no more import than signing of an apartment lease. The sacrament of marriage is far too serious, sacred, and important to be entrusted to the State. The Church alone should be the earthly guardian of the sacraments; the State has no legitimate claim to them. Not every citizen wishes to be married within the Church, nor does the Church permit all individuals to be sacramentally married. Nevertheless, all citizens have the right to freely associate and freely enter civil contracts.

Pius’ second logical error is that all private contracts are “left to the consent and good pleasure of both parties, and so can be dissolved for any reason whatsoever”. This is nonsense. Just because the terms of a contract can be made very lose and the bonds easily broken doesn’t mean they must or always will. There’s no reason why a Catholic couple couldn’t codify the vow they made before God and His Church in a civil contract, with appropriate legal consequences for breach of contract. Murray Rothbard responded to straw men like this in his “Myth and Truth About Libertarianism“.

Continuing with Pius XI:

“87. Opposed to all these reckless opinions, Venerable Brethren, stands the unalterable law of God, fully confirmed by Christ, a law that can never be deprived of its force by the decrees of men, the ideas of a people or the will of any legislator: ‘What God hath joined together, let no man put asunder.'[64] And if any man, acting contrary to this law, shall have put asunder, his action is null and void, and the consequence remains, as Christ Himself has explicitly confirmed: “Everyone that putteth away his wife and marrieth another, committeth adultery: and he that marrieth her that is put away from her husband committeth adultery.”[65] Moreover, these words refer to every kind of marriage, even that which is natural and legitimate only; for, as has already been observed, that indissolubility by which the loosening of the bond is once and for all removed from the whim of the parties and from every secular power, is a property of every true marriage.

“89. If therefore the Church has not erred and does not err in teaching this, and consequently it is certain that the bond of marriage cannot be loosed even on account of the sin of adultery, it is evident that all the other weaker excuses that can be, and are usually brought forward, are of no value whatsoever. And the objections brought against the firmness of the marriage bond are easily answered. For, in certain circumstances, imperfect separation of the parties is allowed, the bond not being severed. This separation, which the Church herself permits, and expressly mentions in her Canon Law in those canons which deal with the separation of the parties as to marital relationship and co-habitation, removes all the alleged inconveniences and dangers.[68] It will be for the sacred law and, to some extent, also the civil law, in so far as civil matters are affected, to lay down the grounds, the conditions, the method and precautions to be taken in a case of this kind in order to safeguard the education of the children and the well-being of the family, and to remove all those evils which threaten the married persons, the children and the State. Now all those arguments that are brought forward to prove the indissolubility of the marriage tie, arguments which have already been touched upon, can equally be applied to excluding not only the necessity of divorce, but even the power to grant it; while for all the advantages that can be put forward for the former, there can be adduced as many disadvantages and evils which are a formidable menace to the whole of human society.

“91. To conclude with the important words of Leo XIII, since the destruction of family life ‘and the loss of national wealth is brought about more by the corruption of morals than by anything else, it is easily seen that divorce, which is born of the perverted morals of a people, and leads, as experiment shows, to vicious habits in public and private life, is particularly opposed to the well-being of the family and of the State. The serious nature of these evils will be the more clearly recognized, when we remember that, once divorce has been allowed, there will be no sufficient means of keeping it in check within any definite bounds. Great is the force of example, greater still that of lust; and with such incitements it cannot but happen that divorce and its consequent setting loose of the passions should spread daily and attack the souls of many like a contagious disease or a river bursting its banks and flooding the land.'[70]

92. Thus, as we read in the same letter, ‘unless things change, the human family and State have every reason to fear lest they should suffer absolute ruin.’[71] All this was written fifty years ago, yet it is confirmed by the daily increasing corruption of morals and the unheard of degradation of the family in those lands where Communism reigns unchecked.”

All this is to say that Pius believes that the State has an obligation to its people to write and enforce civil laws that uphold the laws of God, at least where sexuality, marriage, and children are concerned. I’ll address this erroneous belief in response to paragraphs 123-127.

“119. When these means which We have pointed out do not fulfill the needs, particularly of a larger or poorer family, Christian charity towards our neighbor absolutely demands that those things which are lacking to the needy should be provided; hence it is incumbent on the rich to help the poor, so that, having an abundance of this world’s goods, they may not expend them fruitlessly or completely squander them, but employ them for the support and well-being of those who lack the necessities of life. They who give of their substance to Christ in the person of His poor will receive from the Lord a most bountiful reward when He shall come to judge the world; they who act to the contrary will pay the penalty.[94] Not in vain does the Apostle warn us: ‘He that hath the substance of this world and shall see his brother in need, and shall shut up his bowels from him: how doth the charity of God abide in him?'[95]

“120. If, however, for this purpose, private resources do not suffice, it is the duty of the public authority to supply for the insufficient forces of individual effort, particularly in a matter which is of such importance to the common weal, touching as it does the maintenance of the family and married people. If families, particularly those in which there are many children, have not suitable dwellings; if the husband cannot find employment and means of livelihood; if the necessities of life cannot be purchased except at exorbitant prices; if even the mother of the family to the great harm of the home, is compelled to go forth and seek a living by her own labor; if she, too, in the ordinary or even extraordinary labors of childbirth, is deprived of proper food, medicine, and the assistance of a skilled physician, it is patent to all to what an extent married people may lose heart, and how home life and the observance of God’s commands are rendered difficult for them; indeed it is obvious how great a peril can arise to the public security and to the welfare and very life of civil society itself when such men are reduced to that condition of desperation that, having nothing which they fear to lose, they are emboldened to hope for chance advantage from the upheaval of the state and of established order.

“121. Wherefore, those who have the care of the State and of the public good cannot neglect the needs of married people and their families, without bringing great harm upon the State and on the common welfare. Hence, in making the laws and in disposing of public funds they must do their utmost to relieve the needs of the poor, considering such a task as one of the most important of their administrative duties.

In his assertions regarding “the duty of the public authority to supply for the insufficient forces of individual effort” and the the State’s role “in making the laws and in disposing of public funds they must do their utmost to relieve the needs of the poor”, I must differ from the Holy Father. To take goods or money from one individual against his will and give it to another individual, however altruistic the end, is theft. Bastiat gives such legalized plunder the name of socialism.

“But how is this legal plunder to be identified? Quite simply. See if the law takes from some persons what belongs to them, and gives it to other persons to whom it does not belong. See if the law benefits one citizen at the expense of another by doing what the citizen himself cannot do without committing a crime.

“Then abolish this law without delay, for it is not only an evil itself, but also it is a fertile source for further evils because it invites reprisals. If such a law — which may be an isolated case — is not abolished immediately, it will spread, multiply, and develop into a system.
“Now, legal plunder can be committed in an infinite number of ways. Thus we have an infinite number of plans for organizing it: tariffs, protection, benefits, subsidies, encouragements, progressive taxation, public schools, guaranteed jobs, guaranteed profits, minimum wages, a right to relief, a right to the tools of labor, free credit, and so on, and so on. All these plans as a whole — with their common aim of legal plunder — constitute socialism.”
As Bastiat explains, State-enforced charity is a contradiction of terms.

“Here I encounter the most popular fallacy of our times. It is not considered sufficient that the law should be just; it must be philanthropic. Nor is it sufficient that the law should guarantee to every citizen the free and inoffensive use of his faculties for physical, intellectual, and moral self-improvement. Instead, it is demanded that the law should directly extend welfare, education, and morality throughout the nation.

“This is the seductive lure of socialism. And I repeat again: These two uses of the law are in direct contradiction to each other. We must choose between them. A citizen cannot at the same time be free and not free.

“I do not, as is often done, use the word [plunder] in any vague, uncertain, approximate, or metaphorical sense. I use it in its scientific acceptance — as expressing the idea opposite to that of property [wages, land, money, or whatever]. When a portion of wealth is transferred from the person who owns it — without his consent and without compensation, and whether by force or by fraud — to anyone who does not own it, then I say that property is violated; that an act of plunder is committed.

“The mission of the law is not to oppress persons and plunder them of their property, even though the law may be acting in a philanthropic spirit. Its mission is to protect persons and property.

“Furthermore, it must not be said that the law may be philanthropic if, in the process, it refrains from oppressing persons and plundering them of their property; this would be a contradiction. The law cannot avoid having an effect upon persons and property; and if the law acts in any manner except to protect them, its actions then necessarily violate the liberty of persons and their right to own property.

“The law is justice — simple and clear, precise and bounded. Every eye can see it, and every mind can grasp it; for justice is measurable, immutable, and unchangeable. Justice is neither more than this nor less than this. If you exceed this proper limit — if you attempt to make the law religious, fraternal, equalizing, philanthropic, industrial, literary, or artistic — you will then be lost in an uncharted territory, in vagueness and uncertainty, in a forced utopia or, even worse, in a multitude of utopias, each striving to seize the law and impose it upon you. This is true because fraternity and philanthropy, unlike justice, do not have precise limits. Once started, where will you stop? And where will the law stop itself?

When providing for the less fortunate is no longer voluntary, but obligatory and extracted by force or threat of force, it cannot be called charity. It is theft. That said, if the State has already confiscated the fruits of citizen’s labors, it would be better to allocate them to “relieve the needs of the poor” or altruistic ends than preemptive war, “stimulus” boondoggles, and other harmful destructions of wealth and/or life.

“123. But not only in regard to temporal goods, Venerable Brethren, is it the concern of the public authority to make proper provision for matrimony and the family, but also in other things which concern the good of souls. just laws must be made for the protection of chastity, for reciprocal conjugal aid, and for similar purposes, and these must be faithfully enforced, because, as history testifies, the prosperity of the State and the temporal happiness of its citizens cannot remain safe and sound where the foundation on which they are established, which is the moral order, is weakened and where the very fountainhead from which the State draws its life, namely, wedlock and the family, is obstructed by the vices of its citizens.

“124. For the preservation of the moral order neither the laws and sanctions of the temporal power are sufficient, nor is the beauty of virtue and the expounding of its necessity. Religious authority must enter in to enlighten the mind, to direct the will, and to strengthen human frailty by the assistance of divine grace. Such an authority is found nowhere save in the Church instituted by Christ the Lord. Hence We earnestly exhort in the Lord all those who hold the reins of power that they establish and maintain firmly harmony and friendship with this Church of Christ so that through the united activity and energy of both powers the tremendous evils, fruits of those wanton liberties which assail both marriage and the family and are a menace to both Church and State, may be effectively frustrated.

“125. Governments can assist the Church greatly in the execution of its important office, if, in laying down their ordinances, they take account of what is prescribed by divine and ecclesiastical law, and if penalties are fixed for offenders. For as it is, there are those who think that whatever is permitted by the laws of the State, or at least is not punished by them, is allowed also in the moral order, and, because they neither fear God nor see any reason to fear the laws of man, they act even against their conscience, thus often bringing ruin upon themselves and upon many others. There will be no peril to or lessening of the rights and integrity of the State from its association with the Church. Such suspicion and fear is empty and groundless, as Leo XIII has already so clearly set forth: ‘It is generally agreed,’ he says, ‘that the Founder of the Church, Jesus Christ, wished the spiritual power to be distinct from the civil, and each to be free and unhampered in doing its own work, not forgetting, however, that it is expedient to both, and in the interest of everybody, that there be a harmonious relationship. . . If the civil power combines in a friendly manner with the spiritual power of the Church, it necessarily follows that both parties will greatly benefit. The dignity of the State will be enhanced, and with religion as its guide, there will never be a rule that is not just; while for the Church there will be at hand a safeguard and defense which will operate to the public good of the faithful.'”[96]

“126. To bring forward a recent and clear example of what is meant, it has happened quite in consonance with right order and entirely according to the law of Christ, that in the solemn Convention happily entered into between the Holy See and the Kingdom of Italy, also in matrimonial affairs a peaceful settlement and friendly cooperation has been obtained, such as befitted the glorious history of the Italian people and its ancient and sacred traditions. These decrees, are to be found in the Lateran Pact: ‘The Italian State, desirous of restoring to the institution of matrimony, which is the basis of the family, that dignity conformable to the traditions of its people, assigns as civil effects of the sacrament of matrimony all that is attributed to it in Canon Law.'[97] To this fundamental norm are added further clauses in the common pact.

“127. This might well be a striking example to all of how, even in this our own day (in which, sad to say, the absolute separation of the civil power from the Church, and indeed from every religion, is so often taught), the one supreme authority can be united and associated with the other without detriment to the rights and supreme power of either thus protecting Christian parents from pernicious evils and menacing ruin.”

As I earlier indicated, I have no qualms advocating the absolute separation of civil and religious authority. I believe that cooperation between the two leads to great confusion and disarray among the citizens and the faithful. Too often the law is used as a crutch to lean to when the Church has failed her duty to lead, educate, and sanctify the people. This unhealthy dependence produces lazy, Pharisaical Christians. Meanwhile, as the Church offers an inch, the State takes a foot. If one kind of morality can be codified in civil law, why not others?

I’d argue that the Church, and other private social and religious institutions, should have never consented to government interference in marriage – or any regulation of faith or morals, for that matter. Once the cudgel of the State was used to enforce orthodoxy and orthopraxis, the genie was out of the bottle and would become nigh impossible to put back. Too often people of faith see Jefferson’s wall between Church and State as a way to keep the Church from interfering in matters of the State, but it also serves to keep the State from interfering in matters of the Church. Were marriages reserved to the purview of private social institutions, and civil unions or domestic partnerships limited to public contracts, constitutional amendments defining marriage would be moot.

Bastiat presents the classical liberal response to Church-State collusion.

“You say: ‘Here are persons who are lacking in morality or religion,’ and you turn to the law. But law is force. And need I point out what a violent and futile effort it is to use force in the matters of morality and religion?

“It would seem that socialists, however self-complacent, could not avoid seeing this monstrous legal plunder that results from such systems and such efforts. But what do the socialists do? They cleverly disguise this legal plunder from others — and even from themselves — under the seductive names of fraternity, unity, organization, and association. Because we ask so little from the law — only justice — the socialists thereby assume that we reject fraternity, unity, organization, and association. The socialists brand us with the name individualist.

“But we assure the socialists that we repudiate only forced organization, not natural organization. We repudiate the forms of association that are forced upon us, not free association. We repudiate forced fraternity, not true fraternity. We repudiate the artificial unity that does nothing more than deprive persons of individual responsibility. We do not repudiate the natural unity of mankind under Providence.

“Socialism, like the ancient ideas from which it springs, confuses the distinction between government and society. As a result of this, every time we object to a thing being done by government, the socialists conclude that we object to its being done at all.

“We disapprove of state education. Then the socialists say that we are opposed to any education. We object to a state religion. Then the socialists say that we want no religion at all. We object to a state-enforced equality. Then they say that we are against equality. And so on, and so on. It is as if the socialists were to accuse us of not wanting persons to eat because we do not want the state to raise grain.”

Pius counters:

“126. To bring forward a recent and clear example of what is meant, it has happened quite in consonance with right order and entirely according to the law of Christ, that in the solemn Convention happily entered into between the Holy See and the Kingdom of Italy, also in matrimonial affairs a peaceful settlement and friendly cooperation has been obtained, such as befitted the glorious history of the Italian people and its ancient and sacred traditions. These decrees, are to be found in the Lateran Pact: ‘The Italian State, desirous of restoring to the institution of matrimony, which is the basis of the family, that dignity conformable to the traditions of its people, assigns as civil effects of the sacrament of matrimony all that is attributed to it in Canon Law.'[97] To this fundamental norm are added further clauses in the common pact.

“127. This might well be a striking example to all of how, even in this our own day (in which, sad to say, the absolute separation of the civil power from the Church, and indeed from every religion, is so often taught), the one supreme authority can be united and associated with the other without detriment to the rights and supreme power of either thus protecting Christian parents from pernicious evils and menacing ruin.”

Bastiat rebuts:

“Law is justice. And let it not be said — as it continually is said — that under this concept, the law would be atheistic, individualistic, and heartless; that it would make mankind in its own image. This is an absurd conclusion, worthy only of those worshippers of government who believe that the law is mankind.

“Nonsense! Do those worshippers of government believe that free persons will cease to act? Does it follow that if we receive no energy from the law, we shall receive no energy at all? Does it follow that if the law is restricted to the function of protecting the free use of our faculties, we will be unable to use our faculties? Suppose that the law does not force us to follow certain forms of religion, or systems of association, or methods of education, or regulations of labor, or regulations of trade, or plans for charity; does it then follow that we shall eagerly plunge into atheism, hermitary, ignorance, misery, and greed? If we are free, does it follow that we shall no longer recognize the power and goodness of God? Does it follow that we shall then cease to associate with each other, to help each other, to love and succor our unfortunate brothers, to study the secrets of nature, and to strive to improve ourselves to the best of our abilities?

“Law is justice. And it is under the law of justice — under the reign of right; under the influence of liberty, safety, stability, and responsibility — that every person will attain his real worth and the true dignity of his being. It is only under this law of justice that mankind will achieve — slowly, no doubt, but certainly — God’s design for the orderly and peaceful progress of humanity.”


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