Skip to content
Catholic Online Logo

By Andrew M. Greenwell, Esq.

2/29/2012 (3 years ago)

Catholic Online (

In Christianity, the State is de-divinized, the Church is de-politicized

Both Church and State have public voices; both sing a song.  The Catholic, both a citizen and a member of Christ's faithful, hears both songs and both voices, for he or she knows there are two.  But like St. Thomas More's last words as he approached the scaffold and imminent death, the Catholic is "the King's good servant, but God's first."  One song, one voice in particular, the voice of God, the vox Domini Iesu Christi, holds him in absolute thrall.

Early Christian Icon

Early Christian Icon


By Andrew M. Greenwell, Esq.

Catholic Online (

2/29/2012 (3 years ago)

Published in Living Faith

Keywords: Church, State, natural law, radical secularism, freedom, moral truth, Andrew M Greenwell

CORPUS CHRISTI, TX (Catholic Online) - "Duo sunt," said the 5th century Pope Gelasius I in a famous letter to Emperor Anastasius, "quibus principaliter mundus hic regitur."  "Two there are by which this world is ruled."  Pope Gelasius I merely reformulates what is the teaching of our Lord, and which is part of reality, of what is, in the political world for those who bask in the benefit of Revelation.  "Render unto Caesar that which is Caesar's, and to God the things that are God's." (Matt. 22:21)  Since Christ came into this world, the Christian knows that there are two public songs, and not just one, in the world.

The Catholic accepts the duo sunt as part of social reality.  There is therefore in the Catholic mind, both Church and State, and a natural and necessary separation of Church and State.  But this separation of Church and State does not imply subordination of Church to State.  Quite the contrary, the State and the Church are coordinate powers each with its proper sphere. 

But  in matters of faith and of morals, the Church is superior.  In telling us about truth and about the good, the State is incompetent.  In Christianity, the State is de-divinized, the Church is de-politicized.  The State is not in possession of spiritual power.  The Church as Church is not in possession of political power.  These powers are to work together for the common good.  Duo sunt.

Both Church and State have public voices; both sing a song.  The Catholic, both a citizen and a member of Christ's faithful, hears both songs and both voices, for he or she knows there are two.  But like St. Thomas More's last words as he approached the scaffold and imminent death, the Catholic is "the King's good servant, but God's first." 

One song, one voice in particular, the voice of God, the vox Domini Iesu Christi, holds him in absolute thrall.  He hears the song of his Master, whose yoke is easy, whose burden is light, and he hears the song of Caesar, and of the two songs he recognizes the voice of the Lord as the most lasting, the most beautiful, the most true. (Matt. 11:30)

When push comes to shove-and there is progressively more shoving and less pushing as the Western democracies in their re-creation of society in man's own image jettison their Christian capital as if but flotsam or jetsam-the Catholic will say with St. Peter, "We must obey God rather than men." (Acts 5:29).  The Catholic insists there are two voices, but also that there is one more beautiful and lasting than the other-for he hears them both and is able to distinguish them and he knows which is more beautiful-duo sunt.

Like the singing Jewish captive by the rivers of Babylon, the Catholic would rather his right hand wither, and his tongue cleave to the roof of his mouth, than forget the words to his song, the song of the sounds of heavenly Zion, duo sunt. (Cf. Ps. 137 (136):5-6)  Duo sunt, duo sunt, duo sunt is the leitmotif of his song, a political and religious song which is not monophonic, but diaphonic. His political song has two voices which, if there is to be proper order, must try to sing in harmony.

Modernly, the Catholic is pressed hard between two groups that command center stage, and which have in their hands either power or violence (and there is but a thin line between the two).  These two groups cry not duo sunt, but unus est, "one there is."  These are the secularists and the Islamists, and they seem to divide the world between them.

For secularists, the State is all there is; there is no spiritual power.  In their zeal for power, the dogmatic secularists cry out like the high priests did to Pontius Pilate: "We have no king but Caesar." (John 19:15)  The modern secular State is the Hobbesian "mortal God," and there is no immortal God which competes for obeisance, for secularism subscribes to the Nietzschean view that the immortal God-the God of Jacob, Isaac, and Joseph-is dead. For them, God is dead. 

Since for the modern secular State God is dead and sings no more, it, and it alone, is the final reality: unus est.  It calls itself liberal, but it is not, since it can only hear one voice: its own, and so it closes itself off in a prison.

The secularist knows no reality outside of what he makes for himself.  Man is one dimensional, and he answers neither to God nor to any fixed nature.  For the secularist, there is no such thing as an objective reality, one pre-existing him, one founded on nature or nature's God, one which must be given public voice.  But against the voice of the secularist who exclaims unus est, the Church insists in both the reality of the natural law and in the truth of the Gospels.  Nature and Nature's God. Duo sunt.

The secularist does not like this, and he is a proud spirit who does not endure to be mocked. As James V. Schall states in his book The Sum Total of Human Happiness, there is, in the modern world, a real hatred to those who sing the song of duo sunt.  There is, he says, "a real hatred of man as he is pictured in natural law and in the Gospels."  Anyone who insists on this picture of man is likewise hated, is a persona non grata.  And so it is in his encyclical Centesimus Annus, Pope John Paul II adverts to these singers of duo sunt, those "convinced that they know the truth and firmly adhere to it," and he recognizes that they "are considered unreliable from a democratic point of view." (No. 46)

In the face of the secularist state, we are unreliable citizens because we believe in an objective reality, because we believe in duo sunt.  Christians are not to be included in the public secularist choir which sings songs only of unus est, as it worships not God but only itself.

In the main, secularists like to think themselves liberal, but they are intolerantly liberal.  Leo Strauss called secularist liberalism a "seminary of intolerance."  They are tolerant of all intolerance but their own, to which intolerance they are blind.  And that intolerance is aimed at particular ferocity at those who insist on an objective reality outside of that which we make for ourselves.  This includes those who insist-the way Catholics must do if they are to think like a Catholic-of the truth of duo sunt.

To be sure, the liberals--being effete in the main--do not like blood.  But though they wince at drawing blood, they are not shy at wielding power, much less moral suasion.  The problem they confront, as James Schall puts it is "how to silence Socrates without the nasty business of killing him, and how to tame the teachings of Christ without putting Him on the Cross."  Their schemes to do this are legion, including ridicule, public banishment, the closing of the public square to them, and-increasingly-legal burdens and legal constraints.  There are ominous signs of worse things to come.

Why this foreboding?  "The claim that certain actions are wrong," Schall observes, "is implicitly a threat to the [modern] state, which is designed to prevent strife and which is neutral to all values except to intolerance . . . . In this sense, the theory is already in place that makes Christians enemies of the state. We simply await its enforcement, either by converting or coercing Christians to live according to secular norms or by marginalizing or eliminating those who insist in calling wrong what the state guarantees as 'right.'" 

What Schall sees coming is secular dhimmitude.  Unless things change, there will be a time where, like Christ, we will be "handed over" to the secular authorities.  So, at least, the trajectory appears to be going.


Andrew M. Greenwell is an attorney licensed to practice law in Texas, practicing in Corpus Christi, Texas.  He is married with three children.  He maintains a blog entirely devoted to the natural law called Lex Christianorum.  You can contact Andrew at


Pope Francis: end world hunger through 'Prayer and Action'

Copywriter 2015 - Distributed by THE NEWS CONSORTIUM

Pope Francis Prayer Intentions for October 2015
That human trafficking, the modern form of slavery, may be eradicated.
Evangelization: That with a missionary spirit the Christian communities of Asia may announce the Gospel to those who are still awaiting it.


More Living Faith

Young girl blessed by Pope Francis during visit to U.S. believes the 'miracle has begun' Watch

Image of Julia Bruzzese was blessed by Pope Francis.


12-year-old Julia Bruzzese, who has been experiencing symptoms of Lyme disease, suffered from sudden paralysis that doctors are still unable to explain. However, following a blessing from Pope Francis, the young girl seems to be healing. NEW YORK, NY (Catholic Online) ... continue reading

'God did not create us to live in sorrow or to be alone,' Pope Francis says of marriage Watch

Image of Pope Francis' comments were made during his Oct. 4 Mass marking the official opening of this year's Ordinary Synod of Bishops on the Family.

By Elise Harris, CNA/EWTN News

Pope Francis formally opened the synod of bishops Sunday, telling participants that the union between a man and woman is the foundation of God's plan for the family, and a solution to the many forms of loneliness in today's world. Vatican City (CNA/EWTN News) - ... continue reading

FULL TEXT: Family synod prayer vigil, Pope Francis's full address Watch

Image of

By Catholic Online (NEWS CONSORTIUM)

Presiding over a prayer vigil in St. Peter's Square, Pope Francis led the beginning of the Extraordinary Synod of Bishops on the Family, at the Vatican. Drawing tens of thousands of the faithful, many were present in the Square since the afternoon for a ... continue reading

Vatican issues statement in regards to monsignor's declaration of homosexuality Watch

Image of


The director of the Holy See press office has issued a statement in response to Vatican official Msgr. Krzysztof Charamsa's declaration in a recent interview that he is homosexual and has a boyfriend. Vatican City (CNA/EWTN News) - Msgr. Charamsa, 43, granted a ... continue reading

Guardian Angels are always by our sides, Pope Francis says Watch

Image of Pope Francis explained that when Adam and Eve were expelled from the Garden of Eden, God could have left them to fend for themselves. Instead, as an act of love and mercy, the Lord sent with them an angel to guide and protect them.


Each of us has a Guardian Angel who, acting on behalf of God, advises us and protects us from evil, if we only listen to him, Pope Francis said during his homily at Mass on Friday. Vatican City (CNA/EWTN News) - "May we ask the Lord for the grace of this ... continue reading

Top 5 Bible verses to turn to when you're angry Watch

Image of What does the Bible have to say about anger?

By Kenya Sinclair (NEWS CONSORTIUM)

What makes you angry? Maybe you don't like the way your boss talks to you at work or your spouse spends too much money. What do you do when you feel anger coming on? Who do you turn to? LOS ANGELES, CA (Catholic Online) - When we get angry we can say or do things we ... continue reading

Megachurch Pastor's new book tells people to 'get over themselves' Watch

Image of Pastor Kyle Idleman (YouTube).


Megachurch Pastor Kyle Idleman claims that to live life, "everyone simply needs to get over themselves" to truly "experience abundant life with Jesus," a theory he promotes in his new book The End of Me: Where Real Life in the Upside-Down Ways of Jesus Begins. LOS ... continue reading

Parents of St. Therese of Lisieux to be canonized by Pope Francis Watch

Image of The canonizations of the married couple will coincide with the Synod on the Family, to be held on Oct. 4-25.


Pope Francis approved, earlier this year, the decrees necessary for Blesseds Louis and Zelie Martin - known for being the parents of St. Therese of Lisieux - to be declared saints. VATICAN CITY (CNA/EWTN News) - The two blesseds will be the first couple ever to ... continue reading

Phoenix bishop encourages Catholic men to 'step into the breach' Watch

Image of Calling on all Christian men to take a stand in the Church's spiritual battle, Bishop Thomas Olmsted of Phoenix asked men in his diocese to courageously pursue their vocations as friends, fathers, and spouses.


Calling on all Christian men to take a stand in the Church's spiritual battle, Bishop Thomas Olmsted of Phoenix asked men in his diocese to courageously pursue their vocations as friends, fathers, and spouses. Phoenix, Ariz. (CNA/EWTN News) - "Men, do not ... continue reading

Interview with Archbishop Chaput puts U.S. papal visit in perspective Watch

Image of Archbishop Chaput offered his take on the historic papal trip, the challenges facing family in the U.S., and the upcoming Synod of Bishops in Rome.

By Michelle Bauman, CNA/EWTN News

Archbishop Charles Chaput of Philadelphia hosted Pope Francis in his highly anticipated first visit to the United States. As the dust settled after the departure of nearly one million participants in the final Mass for the World Meeting of Families, CNA had the ... continue reading

All Living Faith News


Newsletter Sign Up icon

Stay up to date with the latest news, information, and special offers

Subscribe to Catholic OnlineYouTube Channel

Daily Readings

Reading 1, Jonah 3:1-10
1 The word of Yahweh was addressed to Jonah a second ... Read More

Psalm, Psalms 130:1-2, 3-4, 7-8
1 [Song of Ascents] From the depths I call to you, ... Read More

Gospel, Luke 10:38-42
38 In the course of their journey he came to a ... Read More

Saint of the Day

Saint of the Day for October 6th, 2015 Image

St. Bruno
October 6: Bruno was born in Cologne of the prominent Hartenfaust family. ... Read More