Catholic Church and politics

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Catholic Church and politics aims to cover subjects of where the Catholic Church and politics share common ground.

Catholic Church Largest Christian church, led by the Bishop of Rome

The Catholic Church, also known as the Roman Catholic Church, is the largest Christian church, with approximately 1.3 billion baptised Catholics worldwide as of 2017. As the world's oldest and largest continuously functioning international institution, it has played a prominent role in the history and development of Western civilisation. The church is headed by the Bishop of Rome, known as the pope. Its central administration, the Holy See, is in the Vatican City, an enclave within the city of Rome in Italy.

Politics is a set of activities associated with the governance of a country or an area. It involves making decisions that apply to members of a group.

Contents

Background

According to the United States Conference of Catholic Bishops, "the separation of church and state does not require division between belief and public action, between moral principles and political choices, but protects the right of believers and religious groups to practice their faith and act on their values in public life." [1]

United States Conference of Catholic Bishops organization

The United States Conference of Catholic Bishops (USCCB) is the episcopal conference of the Catholic Church in the United States. Founded in 1966 as the joint National Conference of Catholic Bishops (NCCB) and United States Catholic Conference (USCC), it is composed of all active and retired members of the Catholic hierarchy in the United States and the Territory of the U.S. Virgin Islands. In the Commonwealth of Puerto Rico, the bishops in the six dioceses form their own episcopal conference, the Puerto Rican Episcopal Conference. The bishops in U.S. insular areas in the Pacific Ocean – the Commonwealth of the Northern Mariana Islands, the Territory of American Samoa, and the Territory of Guam – are members of the Episcopal Conference of the Pacific.

19th century

As a program and a movement, political Catholicism - a political and cultural conception which promotes the ideas and social teaching of the Catholic Church in public life through government action - was started by Prussian Catholics in the second half of the 19th century, as a response to secular social concepts. The main reason were the measures by Chancellor Otto von Bismarck to limit the influence of Catholic Church, first in Prussia, and then in united Germany. That struggle is known in history as the Kulturkampf .

Catholic social teaching is the Catholic doctrines on matters of human dignity and common good in society. The ideas address oppression, the role of the state, subsidiarity, social organization, concern for social justice, and issues of wealth distribution. Its foundations are widely considered to have been laid by Pope Leo XIII's 1891 encyclical letter Rerum novarum, which advocated economic distributism. Its roots can be traced to the writings of Catholic thinkers such as Thomas Aquinas and Augustine of Hippo, and is also derived from concepts present in the Bible and the cultures of the ancient Near East.

Prussia state in Central Europe between 1525–1947

Prussia was a historically prominent German state that originated in 1525 with a duchy centred on the region of Prussia on the southeast coast of the Baltic Sea. It was de facto dissolved by an emergency decree transferring powers of the Prussian government to German Chancellor Franz von Papen in 1932 and de jure by an Allied decree in 1947. For centuries, the House of Hohenzollern ruled Prussia, successfully expanding its size by way of an unusually well-organised and effective army. Prussia, with its capital first in Königsberg and then, in 1701, in Berlin, decisively shaped the history of Germany.

Otto von Bismarck 19th-century German statesman and Chancellor

Otto Eduard Leopold, Prince of Bismarck, Duke of Lauenburg, known as Otto von Bismarck, was a conservative Prussian statesman who dominated German and European affairs from the 1860s until 1890 and was the first Chancellor of the German Empire between 1871 and 1890. In 1862, King Wilhelm I appointed him as Minister President of Prussia, a position he would hold until 1890, with the exception of a short break in 1873. He provoked three short, decisive wars against Denmark, Austria, and France. Following the victory against Austria, he abolished the supranational German Confederation and instead formed the North German Confederation as the first German national state in 1867, leading it as Federal Chancellor. This aligned the smaller North German states behind Prussia. Later receiving the support of the independent South German states in the Confederation's defeat of France, he formed the German Empire in 1871, unifying Germany with himself as Imperial Chancellor, while retaining control of Prussia at the same time. The new German nation excluded Austria, which had been Prussia's main opponent for predominance among the German states.

From Germany, political Catholic social movements spread in Austria-Hungary, especially in today's Austria, Ukraine, Slovenia and Croatia. Catholic Action was the name of many groups of lay Catholics who were attempting to encourage a Catholic influence on political society.

Austria-Hungary Constitutional monarchic union between 1867 and 1918

Austria-Hungary, often referred to as the Austro-Hungarian Empire or the Dual Monarchy, was a constitutional monarchy in Central and Eastern Europe between 1867 and 1918. It was formed when the Austrian Empire adopted a new constitution; as a result Austria (Cisleithania) and Hungary (Transleithania) were placed on equal footing. It dissolved into several new states at the end of the First World War.

The Christian Social Movement in Ukraine was a political movement that existed in Western Ukraine from the end of the 19th century until the 1930s.

Croatian Catholic movement organization

Croatian Catholic movement (HKP) is a form of political Catholicism which was active in the first half of the 20th century in Croatia. The movement was a response to increasing liberalism, with a new, aggressive approach, as the Church and religion lost influence.

Political changes in Spain during the second half of the nineteenth century led to the development of Catholic Integrism and Carlism struggling against a separation of church and state. The clearest expression of this struggle arose with the 1884 publication of the book Liberalism is a Sin . The book was rapidly referred to Rome, where it received a positive, albeit cautious welcome. [2]

Carlism political movement supporting the claim to the Spanish throne by Don Carlos and his successors

Carlism is a Traditionalist and Legitimist political movement in Spain aimed at establishing an alternative branch of the Bourbon dynasty – one descended from Don Carlos, Count of Molina (1788–1855) – on the Spanish throne.

Liberalism is a Sin is a controversial book written by Félix Sardà y Salvany in 1884, which became a rallying point for conservative political movements such as Integrism and Carlism.

After the 1891 encyclical Rerum novarum (Of New Things) by Pope Leo XIII, political Catholic movements got a new impulse for development, and they spread the area of their involvement. With this encyclical, the Catholic Church expanded its interest in social, economical, political and cultural issues, and it called for a drastic conversion of Western society in the 19th century in the face of capitalist influences. Following the release of the document, the labour movement which had previously floundered began to flourish in Europe and later in North America. Mary Harris Jones, better known as "Mother Jones", and the National Catholic Welfare Council were central in the campaign to end child labour in the United States during the early 20th century.

An encyclical was originally a circular letter sent to all the churches of a particular area in the ancient Roman Church. At that time, the word could be used for a letter sent out by any bishop. The word comes from Late Latin encyclios.

<i>Rerum novarum</i> encyclical issued by Pope Leo XIII on May 15, 1891

Rerum novarum, or Rights and Duties of Capital and Labor, is an encyclical issued by Pope Leo XIII on 15 May 1891. It was an open letter, passed to all Catholic patriarchs, primates, archbishops and bishops, that addressed the condition of the working classes.

Pope Leo XIII 256th Pope of the Catholic Church

Pope Leo XIII was head of the Catholic Church from 20 February 1878 to his death. He was the oldest pope, and had the third-longest confirmed pontificate, behind that of Pius IX and John Paul II.

Catholic movements in the 20th century

In the 20th century, Catholic political movements became very strong in Spain, Italy, Germany, Austria, Ireland, France and Latin America. What these movements had in common was a defense of the acquired rights of the Catholic Church (attacked by anticlerical politicians) and a defense of Christian faith and moral values (threatened by increasing secularization). Members of opposing schools of thought called such attempts clericalism.

These Catholic movements developed various forms of Christian democratic ideology, generally promoting a morally and socially conservative agenda whilst supporting a middle ground third way between unrestrained capitalism and state socialism. Freemasons were seen mainly as enemies and vehement opponents of political Catholicism. A special situation occurred in Mexico, where an atheistic president ruled in the 1920s and oppressed the Church and Catholics. This led to the open Christian revolution of 1926 to 1929, known as the Cristero War.

Some of the earliest important political parties were:

Most of these parties in Europe joined together in White International (1922). Franco's mixture of Catholicism and nationalism received its own brand of National Catholicism and it inspired similar movements throughout Europe. [3]

In addition to political parties, Catholic/Christian trade unions were created, which fought for worker's rights: the earliest include:

After World War II, more unions were formed, including:

Until the Second Vatican Council, the Church did not always accept the model of modern democracy and its expansion into social and economic realms because it was wary of anticlerical socialistic tendencies. When Catholic social activists were perceived to be too extreme in social conflicts, the Church hierarchy tried to stop their excesses; occasions of this included the Worker-priest movement in France in the 1940s and 1950s, and liberation theology in Latin America in the 1960s, 1970s, and 1980s. But some movements were strongly supported by the Church - in Australia the Catholic Social Studies Movement during the 1940s and 1950s, from which the National Civic Council has developed.

Catholic clergy and lay activists sometimes tended to support far-right leaders such Francisco Franco and António de Oliveira Salazar, as well as the military regimes in Latin America. As a result, many workers involved in the labor movement joined social democratic and communist parties, which were sometimes secular and called for revolution against old values, which included religion and the Church.

In recent times, after the Second World War, Christian engagement in politics became weaker and even "Demo-Christian" parties by name lost some of their Christianity. Stronger Christian involvement in Europe on the beginning of the 21st century has produced some new small parties, for example those joined in the European Christian Political Movement. According to New York Times columnist Ross Douthat, part of the younger generation of Catholics are now showing a renewed interest in forms of political Catholicism such as a revived Catholic Integralism or Tradinista! socialism. [4]

US

Catholics are called to participate in the political process, be informed voters, and to encourage elected officials to act on behalf of the common good. There are limits to official Catholic Church political activity. The Church engages in issue-related activity, not partisan political candidate activities. This restriction does not apply to individuals or group provided they do not represent themselves as acting in an official Church capacity. [5]

Every two years the USCCB produces "Faithful Citizenship" guides, to provide guidelines and explanations of Catholic teaching to Catholic voters. [6]

See also

Notes

  1. "Catholics in Political Life", United States Conference of Catholic Bishops
  2. "Liberalism is a Sin". Liberalism is a Sin. Retrieved 15 August 2019.
  3. Stanley G. Payne (1984). Spanish Catholicism: An Historical Overview. Univ of Wisconsin Press. p. xiii. ISBN   978-0-299-09804-9.
  4. Douthat, Ross (October 8, 2016). Among the Post-Liberals. The New York Times. Retrieved July 17, 2017
  5. "Guidelines for Parish and Church Organization Political Activity", Minnesota Catholic Conference, July 2018
  6. "The Catholic Church in US Politics", Berkley Center for Religion, Peace, and World Affairs - Georgetown University

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