Message Sent to New Zealand at Passing of Dame Te Atairangikaahu
VATICAN CITY, AUG. 22, 2006 (Zenit.org).- Benedict XVI expressed sorrow for the death of the queen of New Zealand's indigenous Maori, Te Arikinui Dame Te Atairangikaahu, and sent a message of sympathy to her relatives and people.Another act of a fictional head of state? (I believe the message was sincere.) Some Catholics have complained about the Holy See's statements regarding Israel and Lebanon, that the "prudential judgments" being issued are completely uninformed. Undoubtedly there are those who who argue the Holy See should give up the remnants of its medieval claims to secular power and recognition, perhaps even abandon its permanent seat on the U.N. as an observer. (Of course there are those who want to see the Vatican's status revoked, whether the pope agrees to it or not, including Catholics for a Free Choice.)
In a telegram sent by Vatican Secretary of State Cardinal Angelo Sodano, the Pope assured the deceased sovereign's loved ones of his prayer at this time of national mourning.
"The Holy Father commends the late Dame Te Atairan to the loving mercy of Almighty God and invokes upon the country the divine gifts of consolation and peace," stated the message, published today by the bishops' conference of New Zealand.
The queen died Aug. 15 at age 75 from kidney failure.
The country's Catholic episcopate confirmed that the vicar general of the Diocese of Hamilton, Monsignor David Bennett, along with other Church officials paid their respects Aug. 17 to the deceased queen at Turangawaewae Marae, while awaiting the arrival from Australia of Bishop Denis Browne of Hamilton, president of the New Zealand bishops' conference.
In his absence, Monsignor Bennett, on behalf of New Zealand bishops and particularly of Catholic Maori and the Hamilton Diocese, expressed his prayerful condolences to Dame Te Ata's family.
"Many have attested to her qualities of leadership," he said, stressing her sincerity, graciousness, gentleness and humility.
Ties with Church
Monsignor Bennett spoke of the friendship and personal regard between the queen and the first Catholic Maori prelate, Auxiliary Bishop Takuira Max Mariu of Hamilton, who died last December at 53.
During his 1986 visit to New Zealand, Pope John Paul II also had a cordial meeting with Dame Te Ata.
The vicar general of Hamilton mentioned that in 1981, when Bishop Edward Gaines was installed as the first Catholic Bishop of Hamilton, "Dame Te Ata presented him with a carved crozier. And when Bishop Denis Browne was installed as the second bishop of Hamilton, Dame Te Ata brought the crozier forward again to give it to him. This crozier is always used by the bishop in our cathedral church."
"The fact that people of diverse cultures and backgrounds are coming in great numbers to Turangawaewae to pay her tribute, attests to the way in which Dame Te Ata brought peoples and cultures closer together," observed Monsignor Bennett.
The new Maori king is the son of Dame Te Ata. Vatican Radio reported on Monday that Tuheitia Paki, 51, assumed his duties, according to tradition, while his mother was being buried on Taupiri mountain, where all Maori sovereigns are buried.
Thousands of faithful attended the ceremony, including New Zealand's prime minister and numerous representatives of the government and other Pacific countries.
The new king will have the task to continue his mother's legacy, which kept the various Maori tribes united and obtained positive results in the area of territorial and political rights for her people, commented Vatican Radio.
Tuheitia Paki is the seventh king since New Zealand's indigenous monarchy was instituted in 1858 to counteract the colonization of the territories.
About 500,000 of New Zealand's 4 million inhabitants are Catholics.
After all, how many still hold to the theory that the pope is both the supreme spiritual authority and temporal as well (whether it be exercised directly or indirectly)? Would such claims not be an obstacle to non-believers and those who have been scandalized by the sins of various popes and other Christians in the past?
It is the tension between the Church and the world, in a different guise--some would call for a pure Church, cleaned of all the abuses, accretions, ambition for power, and human artifice that were adopted by the Constantinian Church and is endemic to Constantinism.
A notable critic of Constantinian Christianity is Stanley Hauerwas.
- an interview; SoJo interview
- When the Politics of Jesus Makes a Difference
- Remembering John Howard Yoder
The investiture controversy and many of the struggles between the Church and kings should be understood as the Church attempting to assert and protect her authority and autonomy from the temporal authorities; while some of the conflict clearly involved the pope as the ruler of the Papal states, and not as the head of the Church, still I suspect the struggles were more complex than a fine distinction between his two roles would allow. iirc, even in the 19th century, Pope Pius XI argued that the papal states were necessary for the papacy to maintain its spiritual independence.
(European history is something I definitely need to read up on when I have time.)
Did the popes go too far in asserting the supremacy of the Church's spiritual authority, to the point of subordinating secular political authorities to it? It should not be in question among Catholics that the common good of a temporal community is subordinate to the supernatural common good. The question is whether the pope has care of either. Certainly God as Lord and Creator rules the universe through His providence and omnipotence, and is that supreme authority. Does the pope, then, have any role to play as the vicar of Christ and servant of God?
Clearly, any exercise of such a role or influence would only be feasible with Christian
nations and rulers who were supposed to be under the authority of the Church. If authority is not recognized, even if it is exercised it will not bring about its proper effect (and coercion through the threat of punishment or force is not the same as inducing obedience). In a political (dis-)order hostile to Christianity and the Church and where Faith is explicitly rejected, would the pope's demands for recognition of the higher authority of the Church be heeded by secular governments? It would seem unlikely.
Having direct rule over Christian rulers would imply that the pope has, at the very least, authority over the common good of those communities. One might even argue that he has authority over the temporal common good of the world, but this does not necessarily follow from the first, as far as I can tell.
How was such authority transmitted? The fact that the answer is not evident in Sacred Tradition seems to argue against it being the case. (And what would be theological grounds for the position that the pope does have direct authority over secular rulers?) Moreover, if such a claim was voiced during the the history of Christendom (and no doubt there were theologians and partisans who did voice it), it fell on deaf ears. (Which would seem to give some support the position that the claim was never a part of Sacred Tradition.)
Besides, in order for one to have rule over the temporal common good of the world, one must not only be just but have civic prudence. Since civic prudence is necessary both for the primary act of ruling, legislation, and secondary acts, such as executing law or policy, and so on. But it seems impossible for any one man to have that kind of knowledge of particulars that would be necessary (unless that man were Christ, who is definitely Lord of the world). Without providing the gifts necessary for such authority to be exercised well, would God give that kind of authority to the pope? (If nation-states today are ruled poorly because of the their size and the consequent problems that come from size, we should not blame God, since it is not the case that God will communities of such size to exist--rather they come to existence because of human choices, especially sinful choices.)
At first sight, having the pope be the final arbiter of justice for Christians, especially in disputes between Christian nations, might be appealing. But can the pope have ordinary jurisdiction over the citizens of a political community? Could the pope be the last court of appeal for someone on trial? And could he be an arbiter without having in some way care of the temporal common good of the world? It doesn't seem so. (Would resolving the dispute between Spain and Portugal over the division of territory be an example? )
Then there is the exercise of an indirect authority,
From the Seattle Catholic review of Beginning at Jerusalem by Glenn W. Olsen:
I won't examine the justification for the pope, in historical Christendom, having the power to depose Christian rulers by excommunicating them, and so on. Such a power would not imply direct authority--rather as the pastor of souls the pope could declare that a "Christian" ruler who had committed a serious enough crime (especially one that put the salvation of souls at peril) to be excommunicate, and therefore no longer qualified to hold authority over Christians. By being ministers of a supernatural good, one greater than the temporal common good, the popes could address any threat to that supernatural good with the means available to them. (A fuller inquiry into what those means might be, other than the one I just mentioned, I leave for another time. I definitely need to read St. Robert Bellarmine's writings on papal authority.)
Olsen also spends considerable time on the idea—and reality—of a Christian politics, and in so doing clears away many popular misconceptions. Today, in an era of hypernationalist secularism, any "check and balance" on the power of the state by the Church is near-unthinkable and immediately regarded as a threat. The Catholic conception, argues Olsen, was (and is) different. "Constantinism"—the supposed theocratic domination of society that began with Constantine, is in fact a complete misreading of early Christendom. Constantine and his successors sought to preserve the Roman ideal of society, not create a new one. Christendom was never a theocracy. The Church gradually assumed authority over matters, not worldly, but spiritual. Olsen thus counters the current notion (held by, for example, Father Richard Neuhaus) of the medieval papacy as a "temporal world leadership."
What the medieval age did have was a Church that had a "right to intervene in secular matters in the cause of justice and for the salvation of souls." (77) Olsen turns to the middle ages, and the vision best articulated by Pope Saint Gregory VII, to establish a different, and more just, conception of worldly order. Saint Gregory in particular helped "desacralize" kingship, and hence temporal authority, by asserting that the king could be held accountable by the Church. The king was no longer an absolute, unchallenged monarch whose will was automatically synonymous with God's, but rather a monarch accountable to another authority whose weapons were spiritual, but nonetheless powerful indeed—Christ's Church and Christ's Vicar on earth. Modern liberals may well assert that the necessity of an ecclesial "check" is no longer necessary—that the concept of natural, inalienable rights prevents, at least in liberal democracies, such absolutism. But the Catholic responds that it is the contemporary state itself—in its courts, its constitutions, and most of all its interpretations of who has these rights—that monopolizes the debate. Hence, for example, in American society, the state has thus determined that an entire class of human beings (the conceived but not yet born) has no intrinsic rights whatsoever.
Therefore Olsen certainly cannot be classified as a "neoconservative" Catholic, for his favorable view of Gregorian reform puts him at odds with the John Courtney Murray - Richard Neuhaus school. In Olsen's view, "Catholicism in America has been so coopted by the 'American experiment' that almost the whole spectrum of American Catholic interpretation...rules out the confessional state. Thus liberalism rewrites and denies the explicit teaching of the encyclical tradition of the nineteenth and twentieth centuries, making Vatican II mark a decisive break with that tradition..." (82-3) What Olsen has done is what Dawson once did: in a deliberative way, seek to re-open a line of traditional Catholic thinking to challenge contemporary political society.
Examples of indirect authority abound even today. The Church's mission as a witness to and interpreter of the Natural Law is a part of this, elucidating the general principles of morality and of justice, as well as telling us what actions violate those norms. Against any ideologue who might say the contrary for whatever reason, including an exaggerated nationalism, the Church can advise us if a human law is contrary to God's law.
Perhaps the role of the Magisterium as a teacher/interpreter of Natural Law and councillor to governments and nations might obscure its supernatural mission and ministry, and create further animosity when hearts have been hardened. And there is something to be said about the credibility of a bishop suffering when he is unable to keep the affairs of his own house in order; there is a pressing need for bishops to take care of their own flocks as shepherds, not as bureaucrats or CEOs.
Benedict XVI's emphasis on the importance of the bishop and on de-centralization, taking the focus away from national conferences where it interferes with the life of the local Church instead of enhancing it, can be partially understood in this light.
The bishops of a country or nation should be united in addressing local issues as individual bishops, but also work together to address what at the national level affects the local. If there can be something done to improve the state of the local community, the bishops should be spearheading it, especially because it is what [social] justice requires. If the time for that is past, then they should be preparing their flocks for more difficult times, so that they can provide a greater witness to the evangelical counsels and center their spirutal lives on the Beatitudes.
But, if the Church is still voicing its judgment and advising those who do not believe, her ministers must believe there are still men of good will who will listen; if the Church were instead to become silent, one should worry indeed that the end times were at hand, along with the concomitant persecutions.
Given the struggles between the papacy and various temporal authorities during the Middle Ages and afterwards, it is not surprising that theologians would be discussing the question of authority, both ecclesiastical and temporal, its origin, scope, and nature. (One wonders if such a topic is covered in theology programs today, or if it is considered to be irrelevant by the powers-that-be, or just plain wrong-headed.) No study of European history, political theory, political theology can be complete without covering it. (It's a shame that there are no integrated programs at most major Catholic colleges or universities--while there is an order to learning and a hierarchy of the sciences, still history can have a role to play in illuminating the past and the present. At least there are some professors who are offer bibliographies to those who wish inquire further.)
George Weigel's take on the question, "Papacy and Power"
R. Hittinger reviews Owen Chadwick's A History of the Popes, 1830-1914
Some medieval background:
Boniface VIII, Unam Sanctam
Summary of John of Paris, On Royal and Papal Power
SEP on Giles of Rome
Matthew of Aquasparta
IEP on William of Ockham
Franciscan Views on Papal and Royal Sovereignty
SEP: "Medieval Political Philosophy"
Fr. Schall, S.J., "What is medieval political philosophy"
Dr. Winfield H. Rose's course on classical and medieval political thought
Medieval Political Philosophy
The Cambridge History of Medieval Political Thought
Robert Fastiggi, "Ecclesiastical and Temporal Power in Vitoria, Suárez and Berllarmine"
John Courtney Murray, St. Robert Bellarmine on the Indirect Power
(Keep in mind that this is John Courtney Murray writing on Bellarmine; it might not be an accurate portrayal of Bellarmine's teachings.)
Robert Filmer, Patriarcha
(Bellarmine's theory of sovereignty does not imply that democracy is the only valid form of government, or that democracy necessarily follows--see Charles N.R. McCoy's essay comparing Bellarmine and Suarez in reference to the transmission and designation theories.)
John Kilcullen, Medieval Political Theory (his teaching materials on the history of political thought; Politics, Philosophy and Medieval Studies)
Augustine Thompson, O.P. faculty page
Some bibliography; Brian Tierney has written much on the subject and his books probably have a useful bibliography, even if his own personal position on the question is not acceptable within orthodox Catholic Christianity
Chapters from a (questionable?) book at LIBRO: "The Papacy," "Christendom"
An older article by Sandro Magister, "Constantine 1700 Years Later: The Imperial Church of John Paul II." See also his A Parish of the People, Not of the Elite. Italy Renews its Model of Church
and The End of a Taboo: Even Romano Amerio Is “A True Christian”
For future reference:
Pius XI declared St. Robert Bellarmine a Doctor of the Church in 1931; I can't find the document announcing it though.
UN General Assembly observers
Pius XI, Quas Primas, Mortalium Animos; Casti Connubii
Location and Procession of Choir
Ite ad Thomam (website of Francisco Romero Carrasquillo, who's really into the manualist tradition and the commentators on St. Thomas)
John P. Rickert
Aquinas, On the Principles of Nature (pdf); On the Mixture of the Elements (pdf, alt); On Being and Essence
Aristotle, On the Generation and Corruption (alt, txt)