Is the separation of church and state to blame for the sidelining of religion in public life, and for the moral drift that gave us abortion on demand, the redefinition of marriage, and our transgender moment? Can religious “neutrality” ever be achieved, or will the state act on the basis of some comprehensive doctrine no matter what, in which case better for it to be acting firmly and directly on the basis of the truth? Is integralism—be it conservatively Catholic or progressively secular—inevitable? We offer these essays collected here to help you as you discern where the truth lies.
- According to previous papal teaching, a Catholic confessional state is the ideal, even if in most modern situations it’s not a practical possibility, and prudence would steer us away from it. That teaching continues to be normative for Catholics.
- The confessing state exceeds the limits of its authority, either by acting to no good effect, or by acting contrary to good effect. Thus, the confessing state seems inappropriate as a matter not simply of prudence, but of principle.
- Catholics today are not required to believe in a Catholic confessional state. If anything, they are required to believe that everyone has a right under the natural law to religious freedom, that the state has no authority in religious matters, and that coercion of religious activity by the state is morally wrong. In short, integralism is contrary to Catholic doctrine.
- States that do not recognize both natural law and the transformation of law and public reason brought about by the raising of religion to a supernatural good will become confessors of false belief opposed to Christianity, and their great power will turn from supporting Christianity to opposing or even repressing it, especially in relation to its moral teaching.
- How should Catholics understand the contradiction between the nineteenth-century papal teachings on integralism and the twentieth-century teaching of the Second Vatican Council? We follow the solution of John Paul II and Benedict XVI: we take both sets of teachings at face value, admit that they contradict each other, and explain that the earlier teachings were merely doctrina catholica, which are not absolutely binding and are thus subject to future change.
- The Church must exercise its authority over temporal matters in a way consistent with its spiritual mission, of which the exercise of temporal jurisdiction is a betrayal. The human person is drawn by nature to seek out and hold the truth whose fullness is revealed in God’s revelation in Christ, but this vision of human fulfillment implies a human subjectivity whose freedom must be respected as it seeks out the truth which fulfills it.
- Although they often have the flavor of thought experiments, the arguments of integralists are nonetheless worth taking very seriously. Their reflections include spot-on diagnoses of many pathologies affecting our political community.
- Integralism delivers a more realistic view of how states actually function—including states that are secular—than do models currently dominant in political and legal philosophy.