Whatever you think or believe about the Catholic Church, the latest dust up between the current Pontiff and Donald Trump may seem trite, but actually reveals a fundamental difference in the meaning of being a Christian. When Pope Francis Suggests Donald Trump Is ‘Not Christian’, such a troubling account reported in the New York Times, should alarm believers and non-believers alike. An integral part of this issue must acknowledge a startling distinction on the basei of law and how it relates to the concept of a Christian Church.
Geoffrey Grider writes in THE POPE RECOGNIZES NO SALVATION OUTSIDE OF THE ROMAN CATHOLIC SYSTEM.
“Pope Francis gave a sermon on June 25th in Rome, where he dispelled any and all lingering doubt about how the Vatican views worldwide Christianity. Francis once again declared his unshakable belief that the Roman Catholic Holy Mother Church – the very same one mentioned in Revelation 17 & 18 as the ‘Whore of Babylon’ – is the one and the only church. Listen to Pope Francis as he tells you in his own words exactly what he thinks of all Christian churches outside of the Roman Catholic Church:”
Well, do yourself a service and investigate the true background and ideological temperament of Pope Francis the False Prophet. The dichotomy set forth by this pontiff that only an obedient Catholic can be a real Christian has a long history with the Roman Latin Church. Much of this ritual of cathedral authority is guised in ecclesiastical platitudes of salvation through clerical absolution.
Nonetheless, the operational enforcement of the temporal power exerted by the Church, throughout the last two millenniums requires an understanding of the difference between Roman Law and English Law: Two Patterns of Legal Development. This account by Alan Watson argues from the perspective of the Canon Law tradition of the Catholic Church.
Compare this interpretation with that of Piyali Syam, who answers the question in WashULaw, What is the Difference Between Common Law and Civil Law?
“The main difference between the two systems is that in common law countries, case law — in the form of published judicial opinions — is of primary importance, whereas in civil law systems, codified statutes predominate.”
It is noted that Watson prefers the model followed by the religious jurisprudence foundations for their influence over political authority. Piyali Syam continues:
“The original source of the common law system can be traced back to the English monarchy, which used to issue formal orders called “writs” when justice needed to be done. Because writs were not sufficient to cover all situations, courts of equity were ultimately established to hear complaints and devise appropriate remedies based on equitable principles taken from many sources of authority (such as Roman law and “natural” law). As these decisions were collected and published, it became possible for courts to look up precedential opinions and apply them to current cases. And thus the common law developed.
Civil law in other European nations, on the other hand, is generally traced back to the code of laws compiled by the Roman Emperor Justinian around 600 C.E. Authoritative legal codes with roots in these laws (or others) then developed over many centuries in various countries, leading to similar legal systems, each with their own sets of laws.”
With establishing the clear linkage between the civil authorities claim of the Catholic Church grounded upon Roman law and custom, one needs to track the relative recent departure in defining the essence of the Church.
Turn to the Encyclopædia Britannica section, THE NATURE OF THE CHURCH, which provides a distinction that is often missed.
In 1965 the Roman Catholic theologian Marie-Joseph Le Guillou defined the church in these terms:
“The Church is recognized as a society of fellowship with God, the sacrament of salvation, the people of God established as the body of Christ and the temple of the Holy Spirit.”
The progress of Roman Catholic theology can be seen in the contrast between this statement and the definition still current as late as 1960, which was substantially the one formulated by the Jesuit controversialist Robert Cardinal Bellarmine in 1621:
“The society of Christian believers united in the profession of the one Christian faith and the participation in the one sacramental system under the government of the Roman Pontiff.”
Here lies the key to understanding the sympathies of the only Jesuit Pope, Francis. Even Catholic Answers acknowledges the following:
“There is a person sometimes called “the black pope,” but his existence is not a secret and he does not have anywhere near as much power as the real pope. “The black pope” is a nickname given to the Father General of the Society of Jesus. “The black pope” does not have authority over anyone but Jesuits.”
Historically Jesuits were the equivalent of the storm troopers for the Roman Church. With the unprecedented selection of Francis, from the ranks of the Society of Jesus, you have the liberation theology ingredients and a celebrity heretic sitting on the chair of Peter.
If one strips out the secular appetite of Popes to enter the political arena, the humanism direction of the post Vatican II Church involvements would be tempered by the correct traditional doctrinal gospel of the New Testament.
The 1054 schism with the Eastern Orthodox Catholics had more to do with an adherence to Roman law authority of a political pontificate emperor, than theological differences.
“The eleventh-century reform in the Western Church called for the strengthening of papal authority, which caused the church to become more autocratic and centralized. Basing his claims on his succession from St. Peter, the pope asserted his direct jurisdiction over the entire church, East as well as West.”
This split forewarned of the eventual 95 Theses of Martin Luther. But before that fateful break which had significant doctrinal differences, the contribution of Thomas Aquinas needs to be recognized. E. B. F. Midgley writes in a scholar abstract in the Cambridge Journals, Natural law and the ‘Anglo-Saxons’—some reflections in response to Hedley Bull.
“I concentrated upon St. Thomas’s discussion of the various kinds of law and especially upon the doctrine of eternal law which he brought to a certain perfection. In doing this, I was consoled by the view which I shared with Vincent McNabb that “it was always the thought of Aquinas never the history of that thought which seemed of greatest worth…” Indeed, given the incompleteness of so much of the discussion on the intellectual reconciliation of natural and divine law before Aquinas, it is arguable that McNabb was hardly exaggerating very greatly when he wrote that Aquinas’s treatise on law in the Summa theologiae “would seem be the first great treatise ever written on law”.
Church abuses like the inquisition and the selling of indulgences cannot be condoned. Violations of natural law by church courts share similarities to a Roman Ceasar. The English tradition of “Common Law” and Aquinas’ foundations of developing the natural law legal underpinnings of individual rights is the exception.
The transition of restraint on a monarch as laid down in the Magna Carta, leads a path to the break with the Roman Papacy. Since the Catholic Church as an institution is actually a political entity, it should surprise no one that the Vatican is organized as a sovereign civil state.
One should not reject the theological precepts out of hand from two thousand years of Christian teachings. The gospels are timeless and are not subject to a live interpretation as the legal charlatans on the Supreme Court would have you believe.
However, the world is inescapable from its political interactions and the clergy is certainly entitled to enter the coliseum to do warfare. When Pope Francis condemns Donald Trump for not being a Christian, he is engaging in a bare knuckle brawl that often results in self induced bruises.
Political partisans can argue all day long if “The Donald” is a Methodist, a Presbyterian, neither or something else. What everyone should agree upon is that he is not a Jesuit.
The Scottish roots of Trump’s lineage have an influence of Anglo-Saxon Law – Extracts From Early Laws of the English. This contrast with the attitude of proclaimed infallibility as defined in,
“As Vatican II remarked, it is a charism the pope “enjoys in virtue of his office, when, as the supreme shepherd and teacher of all the faithful, who confirms his brethren in their faith (Luke 22:32), he proclaims by a definitive act some doctrine of faith or morals. Therefore his definitions, of themselves, and not from the consent of the Church, are justly held irreformable, for they are pronounced with the assistance of the Holy Spirit, an assistance promised to him in blessed Peter.”
Educated within this tradition of church history, one comes to know that few political positions out of the Vatican have very much to do with doctrines of faith and morals.
One can certainly maintain their faith in Catholic teachings, while rejecting the social liberalism and New World Order pronouncements of a fictitious Pope. America is based upon the tradition of English common law, not Roman imperial dictates.