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The Catholic Church and the Nation-State

The Catholic Church and the Nation-State: Comparative Perspectives

Paul Christopher Manuel
Lawrence C. Reardon
Clyde Wilcox
Copyright Date: 2006
Pages: 298
  • Book Info
    The Catholic Church and the Nation-State
    Book Description:

    Presenting case studies from sixteen countries on five continents, The Catholic Church and the Nation-State paints a rich portrait of a complex and paradoxical institution whose political role has varied historically and geographically. In this integrated and synthetic collection of essays, outstanding scholars from the United States and abroad examine religious, diplomatic, and political actions-both admirable and regrettable-that shape our world. Kenneth R. Himes sets the context of the book by brilliantly describing the political influence of the church in the post-Vatican II era. There are many recent instances, the contributors assert, where the Church has acted as both a moral authority and a self-interested institution: in the United States it maintained unpopular moral positions on issues such as contraception and sexuality, yet at the same time it sought to cover up its own abuses; it was complicit in genocide in Rwanda but played an important role in ending the horrific civil war in Angola; and it has alternately embraced and suppressed nationalism by acting as the voice of resistance against communism in Poland, whereas in Chile it once supported opposition to Pinochet but now aligns with rightist parties. With an in-depth exploration of the five primary challenges facing the Church-theology and politics, secularization, the transition from serving as a nationalist voice of opposition, questions of justice, and accommodation to sometimes hostile civil authorities-this book will be of interest to scholars and students in religion and politics as well as Catholic Church clergy and laity. By demonstrating how national churches vary considerably in the emphasis of their teachings and in the scope and nature of their political involvement, the analyses presented in this volume engender a deeper understanding of the role of the Roman Catholic Church in the world.

    eISBN: 978-1-58901-724-5
    Subjects: Religion

Table of Contents

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  1. Front Matter
    (pp. i-iv)
  2. Table of Contents
    (pp. v-vi)
  3. Tables
    (pp. vii-viii)
  4. Foreword: Faith and Culture in a Turbulent Age
    (pp. ix-xi)
    Thomas Massaro and James Morone

    “IN ALL YOU DO YOU should seek advice,” wrote Anselm of Canterbury in 1076, and “let your advisers be one in a thousand.” This book takes up Anselm’s call, for it offers a dialogue across disciplines that rarely engage one another. The authors come from political science, history, theology, and comparative religion; they include lay scholars and clerics. They all wrestle with one of the crucial issues of our age: the interplay of religion and politics in a turbulent world.

    The book analyzes the familiar rubric of church and state—and explores it around the globe, from East Timor to...

  5. Acknowledgments
    (pp. xii-xiv)
  6. Introduction: Theoretical Considerations on the Relationship between the Catholic Church and the Nation-State
    (pp. 1-12)

    IN 2004, THE ROMAN CATHOLIC Church was intensely involved in an amazing range of international, national, and subnational politics around the world. Internationally, the Church was actively influencing the language of international agreements being negotiated within various United Nations organizations. Pope John Paul II spoke eloquently in opposition to the American invasion and occupation of Iraq, including during his private discussions with the American president, George W. Bush. For his part, since his 2005 election as pope, Benedict XVI has been warning the world about the dangers of a “dictatorship of relativism,” which rejects absolute truth and exalts personal desires....

  7. Part One: The Theological and Political Challenges of the Vatican

    • Chapter 1 Vatican II and Contemporary Politics
      (pp. 15-32)
      Kenneth R. Himes

      INVOLVEMENT IN POLITICAL LIFE IS not something new for the Roman Catholic Church. There are abundant illustrations available throughout history that Catholicism has engaged the political order. There also is the record of service evidenced by the multitude of institutions sponsored by the Catholic Church. Add to these the various movements for social reform that have been allied with and supported by the Church and the historical record is clear. The Church in every age has had to consider how it will relate to the political order.

      For example, Paul in chapter 13 of his Letter to the Romans encouraged...

    • Chapter 2 The Vatican as a Transnational Actor
      (pp. 33-50)
      Lisa L. Ferrari

      WHEN THE UNITED NATIONS CALLED its Third International Conference on Population and Development in 1994, the Bill Clinton administration wanted a final document with clear pro-choice language on abortion and that linked population control with development. Because wealthy industrialized states supported the American position, the United States was confident of realizing its policy objectives. In fact, nearly 90 percent of the draft language met the approval of most UN member states.¹ However, the Holy See guaranteed that the remaining 10 percent would prove lethal to U.S. interests. With a small but adamant group of Latin American and Muslim allies, the...

  8. Part Two: The Challenge of Secularization

    • [Part Two Introduction]
      (pp. 51-52)

      IN HIS CHRISTMAS 2000 MESSAGE, Pope John Paul II warned of a “culture of death” in those societies that condoned abortion, euthanasia, and the death penalty. He was also disturbed by the increasing commoditization of the human body by pornography, which places pleasure and profit over sacrifice and charity as ultimate values in society. Pope Benedict XVI has continued to voice similar concerns about these issues. The following chapters examine a Catholic Church offering its traditional teaching on life, sexuality, marriage, divorce, and abortion as an antidote to this perceived culture of death. In this, and following Gaudium et Spes,...

    • Chapter 3 The Latin European Church: “Une Messe Est Possible”
      (pp. 53-68)
      Paul Christopher Manuel and Margaret MacLeish Mott

      FOR MORE THAN A THOUSAND YEARS, Latin Europe, which includes the nation-states of France, Italy, Spain, and Portugal, has shared a common Christian and Roman Catholic faith. Yet during the last two hundred years, the modernization process, initiated by the democratic and industrial revolutions, has also introduced far-ranging secularization. In the twentieth century, each state experienced democracy and fascism, and they have recently come together as partners in the European Union. Throughout these periods, the church–state relationship in these historically Roman Catholic nation-states has been a feisty source of political conflict and societal cleavage.

      Deep and complex contradictions characterize...

    • Chapter 4 The American Church: Of Being Catholic and American
      (pp. 69-88)
      Ted G. Jelen

      IN 1960, JOHN F. KENNEDY became the second Roman Catholic to run for president of the United States. As a Catholic, he was repeatedly called upon to clarify his positions on church–state relations and on his possible relationship with the Vatican if he were elected. Speaking to the Greater Houston Ministerial Association on September 12, he strongly reiterated his position on church–state separation, and he asserted that if ever his duties as president should conflict with his religious obligations as a Catholic, he would resign the presidency.¹ Thus, Kennedy was forced, by virtue of his religious affiliation, to...

    • Chapter 5 The Chilean Church: Declining Hegemony?
      (pp. 89-100)
      William Lies and Mary Fran T. Malone

      IN THE YEARS SINCE THE 1990 Chilean transition to democracy, the Catholic Church has faced several challenges to its political power. Traditionally, the Church has adopted the corporatist approach promoted by Pope Leo XIII’s Rerum Novarum by aligning itself with Chilean political and economic elites, just as the Church has done throughout the world—also discussed in this volume by Ferrari in chapter 2, Manuel and Mott in chapter 3, and Kearney in chapter 9. These alliances, coupled with a considerable popular base of adherents, have rendered the Church a key player in politics far beyond its separate legal status....

  9. Part Three: The Challenge of Opposition

    • [Part Three Introduction]
      (pp. 101-102)

      POLAND, EAST TIMOR, IRELAND, AND Northern Ireland each provide examples of the Roman Catholic Church acting as an indigenous institutional and cultural expression against an outside occupying force. These case studies speak strongly to three interwoven themes: first, the church as a strategic moral actor battling foreign occupiers; second, the church as distinctive cultural space, which insulates and protects indigenous peoples from a foreign belief structure—be it communism, Islam, or, Protestantism; and finally, to a lesser extent, the church in opposition to modernism and secularization in various forms. These chapters echo Kenneth Himes’s concept of the church as servant,...

    • Chapter 6 The Polish Church: Catholic Hierarchy and Polish Politics
      (pp. 103-116)
      Timothy A. Byrnes

      THERE ARE TWO KEYS TO understanding the important role that the Roman Catholic Church plays in contemporary Polish politics. First, there has been a long-standing, intimate relationship between Catholicism and Polish national identity. From the creation of the Polish state in A.D. 966, during the national crises of partition and occupation between 1795 and 1948, to the communist era when the Church was the alternative locus of legitimate public authority, the Polish Church has continuously played an important political role. Therefore, it should come as no surprise that the Church continues to play a similar political role today.¹

      The second...

    • Chapter 7 The Catholic Church in Ireland and Northern Ireland: Nationalism, Identity, and Opposition
      (pp. 117-130)
      William Crotty

      THIS CHAPTER ANALYZES THE ROLE of the Roman Catholic Church in the Republic of Ireland as well as in Northern Ireland. It examines the Irish Church, its former prominence, and its changing contemporary role; the impact of economic development in Ireland in creating a new social, political, and moral culture in the nation; the scandals the Church has had to contend with; and the Church’s present status in Irish society. It also analyzes the Northern Irish Church and its emphasis on moderation, peace, and cooperative efforts to establish a more stable governing arrangement. Its role as conciliator will be increasingly...

    • Chapter 8 The East Timorese Church: From Oppression to Liberation
      (pp. 131-148)
      Alynna J. Lyon

      AFTER CENTURIES OF SERVING THE interests of the colonial elite, the Roman Catholic Church in East Timor has emerged as a heroic advocate of human rights and national autonomy during the past three decades. Currently, the Church acts as a peacemaker and provides a venue for the building of a nonviolent East Timor, or as it is officially known today, Timor-Leste. This chapter explores the chameleon nature of the Church as it reluctantly became the predominant international advocate of East Timor’s independence, and, in the process, turned itself into an integral part of the modern political, cultural, and spiritual landscape...

  10. Part Four: The Challenge of Justice

    • [Part Four Introduction]
      (pp. 149-150)

      THIS PART OFFERS THREE OF the volume’s most compelling case studies detailing the Catholic Church’s paradoxical struggle for justice. These chapters on Brazil, Rwanda, and Angola each recall that the Roman Catholic Church itself can be understood in paradoxical terms—sometimes heroic and courageous, and other times cowardly and spineless—in the face of social injustice, poverty, and even genocide.

      In chapter 9, Christine Kearney provides an important analysis of the development of liberation theology in Brazil as a unique Catholic response to poverty and oppression, and the subsequent Vatican reaction to that approach. Her account of the Catholic Church...

    • Chapter 9 The Brazilian Church: Reintegrating Ontology and Epistemology
      (pp. 151-172)
      Christine A. Kearney

      THE EMINENT HISTORIAN Thomas Skidmore tells us that in March of 1500, King Manuel of Portugal celebrated a special mass to mark the launch of his greatest fleet of ships. The fleet was to sail around the tip of Africa to India, repeating Vasco da Gama’s famous voyage of a few years earlier. To announce Portugal’s dedication to the Christian mission, the ships’ flags were emblazoned with crosses. But the fleet never made it to India. The lead ship, captained by Pedro Álvares Cabral, blew off course, and on April 23 of the same year landed in what today is...

    • Chapter 10 The Rwandan Church: The Challenge of Reconciliation
      (pp. 173-190)
      Elisée Rutagambwa

      IN THE YEARS IMMEDIATELY FOLLOWING World War II, when the truth of the Holocaust proved much worse than anyone believed possible, global reaction was unanimous: Crimes of this magnitude must never be allowed to happen again. But the firm imperative “never again” heard in the late 1940s has become something closer to “again and again.” One such example is the 1994 genocide in Rwanda, in which nearly a million Tutsis and moderate Hutus were murdered.¹ The Rwandan genocide has clearly challenged the international community’s commitment to the “never again” principle, and it has brought shame upon the world’s most prominent...

    • Chapter 11 The Angolan Church: The Prophetic Tradition, Politics, and the State
      (pp. 191-206)
      Linda Heywood

      THE CALL TO BE BOTH prophetic and political has presented a major problem for the Roman Catholic Church in Angola. During the time of Portugal’s authoritarian “New State,” or Estado Novo, which was in power from 1926 to 1974, Portuguese colonial authorities used the Angolan Church as a convenient ally to subvert the liberty of Portuguese and Africans alike. The postcolonial Marxist state also attempted to manipulate the Angolan Church following independence, from 1975 to 1992. This chapter examines the ideological challenges from the colonial, postcolonial, and revolutionary states, which eventually forced the Roman Catholic Church to adopt a prophetic...

  11. Part Five: The Challenge of Accommodation

    • [Part Five Introduction]
      (pp. 207-208)

      IN CHAPTER 1 OF THIS VOLUME, Kenneth Himes argues that the early Church was lacking both political and military influence, and, as such, patiently endured the larger political dynamic all around. That description speaks very clearly to the contemporary situation for the Catholic Church in India and China, and to a lesser extent, in the Congo. In all three cases, the respective national churches have faced the challenge of accommodation to civil authorities. In this, they have sought to create some protective space in civil society for their flock.

      In chapter 12, Mathew Schmalz highlights the often tenuous position of...

    • Chapter 12 The Indian Church: Catholicism and Indian Nationhood
      (pp. 209-226)
      Mathew N. Schmalz

      AFTER THE INDIAN GOVERNMENT RECOGNIZED Vatican City as a state and exchanged ambassadors, Pope John Paul II announced that he would make a state visit and a “pilgrimage” to India in 1986. The Catholic Bishops Council of India (CBCI) promulgated several documents that invoked the spirit of the Second Vatican Council to renew the Indian Church.¹ Many Indian Catholics hoped that the papal visit would bring international attention to the Indian Catholic movement as well as add credibility to Catholic contributions to Indian civil society. These hopes were concealed in language that sought to contain or negate the political resonance...

    • Chapter 13 The Chinese Catholic Church: Obstacles to Reconciliation
      (pp. 227-244)
      Lawrence C. Reardon

      FOLLOWING THREE DECADES OF PERSECUTION and suppression, Christianity in China is enjoying a renewed sense of vibrancy and growth. Churches that were once used as pigsties, grain silos, and automotive repair centers have reopened to serve China’s 21 to 80 million Christians.¹ The Protestant and Catholic churches are enjoying an upsurge in popularity as China’s masses increasingly search for religious alternatives to the atheistic credo of Marxism–Leninism–Mao Zedong Thought.

      Similar to the Indian and the early American churches analyzed in this volume, the Chinese Church is a minority church that has had a contentious relationship with the state....

    • Chapter 14 The Congolese Church: Ecclesial Community within the Political Community
      (pp. 245-258)
      Yvon C. Elenga

      THE RECENT WAVE OF DEMOCRATIZATION in Africa has enabled the Roman Catholic Church to participate in the political life of several African countries, including the Republic of the Congo.¹ Under the leadership of the Congolese bishops, the Church has sought to contribute to the country’s political, economic, and social life—a rather complex task given the county’s history of political instability and the fact that the Church has never enjoyed the same moral and legal authority as the secular state. This chapter examines how the Roman Catholic Church has tried to enliven the ecclesial community within the Congolese political community...

  12. Appendixes

    • Appendix A Vatican Documents with Relevance to Church–State Issues
      (pp. 259-260)
    • Appendix B. Religious Concentration of the Countries Considered in this Volume
      (pp. 261-262)
    • Appendix C Timeline of Significant Catholic Events in the Life of the Roman Catholic Church, 1800 to the Present
      (pp. 263-264)
    • Appendix D World Values Survey: How Important Is Religion in Your Life?
      (pp. 265-268)
  13. Contributors
    (pp. 269-270)
  14. Index
    (pp. 271-283)