JMC : The State and the Church / by Ryan and Millar

Social Action Series

This series will comprise several volumes presenting the Catholic teaching on the important social and industrial problems of the day. The following are now ready: "The Church and Labor," by Rev. John A. Ryan and Rev. Joseph Husslein, S.J.; "The Social Mission of Charity," by Rev. William J. Kerby; "The State and the Church," by Rev. John A. Ryan and Rev. Moorhouse, F. X. Millar, S.J. Other volumes will be published from time to time, according as the need for them becomes manifest and competent writers can be obtained to prepare them.


This work endeavors to set forth the teaching of the Catholic Church concerning the State. In the first chapter will be found the most authoritative doctrine that we possess regarding the nature, authority, and object of the State, and the relations that should subsist between the State and the Church. Practically all the rest of the book is devoted to the development and specific application of these general principles. The second chapter discusses certain declarations of the first which have been the subject of more or less controversy. Chapters III and IV present a comprehensive treatment and defense of the doctrine that governments and rulers derive their moral authority from God through the people. The development of this doctrine in Catholic political theory, and its bearing upon modern democratic theory, are treated at length in the next three chapters. It is believed Fhat these three chapters constitute a distinct contribution to the history of American political principles. The remaining chapters deal mainly with the purpose and scope of the State and the ethical relations existing between it and the citizen.

We have attempted to furnish a substantially adequate discussion of all the religious and moral aspects of the State. We have tried to answer the following and kindred questions: What is the State? What is its relation to the Church? What is the ethical basis of government? Whence do civil rulers obtain their moral right to rule? Do governments "derive their just powers from the consent of the governed?" Is the genesis of American democratic principles to be found in the philosophy of eighteenth century France, or in the rationalistic traditional teaching of Christianity? Does the individual exist for the State, or the State for the individual? Should the State be merely a limited policeman? or a universal provider of every < vi PREFACE > good thing? or something between these extremes? Are the ordinances of the State merely civic counsels with the intermittent sanction of physical force, or are they true moral laws? What are the duties and what are the rights of the individual citizen? What is the normal Catholic attitude toward the American State and American political institutions? What is the rational meaning of patriotism? What manner of spirit must animate the nations if they would restore and preserve international peace?

The general importance and the peculiar timeliness of these questions need no elaboration of statement. Whenever possible, the answers have been drawn directly from the teaching of Popes, Bishops, and theologians. When these sources did not provide sufficiently specific answers, we have had recourse to lesser authorities, or have made our own interpretation and application of the traditional and authoritative doctrine.

January 6, 1922.
John A. Ryan.
Moorhouse F. X. Millar, S.J.

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