CHURCH participation I politics has this defense from the late Cardinal Manning:—
“Why should the Holy Father touch any matter in politics at all? For the plain reason, because politics are a part of morals. Politics are morals on the widest scale.”
That is the plea by which every church and every individual professor of religion justify their participation in politics. The plea is equally good for one and all.
And this plea seems all right in itself; but its fruit is bad, and the tree is known by its fruit, and not by its appearance. The early church went into politics, and the result was, the establishment of the papacy. Had the church kept aloof from politics, no such thing as the papacy could ever have been.
And wherever the church—the papal or any other—has participated in politics, and has had the power to mold the political situation to her liking, there has been persecution and oppression to her religious opponents. There has been a likeness of the papacy, if not the thing itself. The papal church does not stand alone in history as a persecutor and oppressor of the people. That church is the mother of persection [sic.]; but she has had numerous daughters.
It is not true that “politics are morals on the widest scale.” Morals are presented on the widest scale in the law of God,—the commandments which are described by the psalmist as “exceeding broad.” Politics are the science of civil government—that government which is suited to selfish people. But the law of God is the rule of divine government—the only government in which selfishness does not appear. Where no selfishness is no other government but the divine one can be possible. And no other than this can harmonize with Christianity.