The feast of St. Peter’s Chair at Antioch (Feb. 22) should not only be a reminder of the primacy of the papal office, but also demonstrates that the Church, which that august office resides, is above, beyond, and superior to any earthly organization, entity, State, legislative body, sovereign, or individual. It is the Church that is the supreme teacher, judge, and, in its most important duty, the mediator through Christ of souls to Eternity.
To the modern mind imbibed with the notions of “religious liberty” and “separation of Church and State” such a contention is an outrage and holding of such an opinion should be condemned. Yet, prior to the Protestant revolt, this was a common belief, although many kings, princes, and intellectuals sought to undermine it.
Pope St. Gelasius I (492-496) brilliantly summed up the notion in a letter to the Byzantine Emperor Anastasius I in 494 in relations between Church and state, with the latter subservient to the former:
Of these, the burden of the priests is much the weightier, because they will have to
answer for even the kings of men on the day of divine judgment. For you know,
most clement son, that although it is your right to take precedence over the human
race in dignity, you bow your head obediently to those in charge of
divine affairs, and look to them for the means of your salvation; and in partaking of
the heavenly sacraments, where they are properly dispensed, you recognize that
you rather must subject yourself in the realm of religion than rule in it, and, in these
matters, rely on the judgment of the priests and not wish that they bend to your
While Pope Gelasius explains the relationship between the state and Church, the ultimate authority, even in realm of secular affairs, is the Church. This point is made by Kenneth R. Craycraft in his thought provoking book, The American Myth of Religious Freedom:
But neither must it be forgotten that the prince is always under the authority of
God’s vicar on earth, the priest.** [emphasis mine]
“Always” meaning that the prince, even in his daily affairs, is subjected to the dictates of the Church.
Mankind’s rejection of this concept is at the heart of the vast societal ills which plague mankind.
Before a change can take place, however, the Church itself must be cleansed of all those who have contrary notions, which means the entire Novus Ordo structure. Once the Modernists have been swept aside, the Church can unashamedly proclaim its rightful status in a world that has gone largely mad.
*Quoted in Kenneth R. Craycraft Jr., The American Myth of Religious Freedom, Dallas, TX.: Spence Publishing Company, 1999, 114-115.
Posted by editors/2-22-’20