The paper is a response to Thomas Pink’s paper What is the Catholic Doctrine of Religious Liberty. More informed and interesting comment has emerged on this topic thanks to Thomas Pink than has emerged in the five preceding decades. John Lamont’s response dissents from some of Pink’s conclusions [well…. I suppose it would be truer to say it agrees with his conclusions and disagrees with his premises] but in a tremendously constructive fashion. The two papers are a wonderful example of the illumination that can be achieved when intelligence and orthodoxy are genuinely aligned. I look forward to seeing Pink’s response. What immediately occurs to me on reading John Lamont is that one needs to distinguish

(a) The authority of the state to proscribe pseudo-relgion (idolatry).

(b) The authority of the state to recognise and submit to the true religion.

(c) The authority of  the state after submission to the true religion whereupon it functions as the temporal sword of the Church.

(d) The authority of the state prior to its submission to the true religion (which extends only to a & b)

One may accordingly argue that, other than the question of what authority God has established in religious matters, religious questions are beyond the jurisdiction of the state prior to its submission to the true religion because it only has the authority to suppress pseudo-religion. I would even argue from the doctrine of the two cities (endorsed by Leo XIII in Humanum Genus) that the state undergoes a substantial change when it embraces the true religion because according to St Augustine prior to this it is not a true commonwealth. Interestingly Eusebius of Caeserea seems to agree for all his idolatrous love of the state. I would also argue that the execution of heretics historically was for treason not heresy per se because in condition (c) heresy (duly judged by the spiritual sword) is ipso facto treason. Thus the execution of heretics by the state is in virtue of its natural authority to wield lethal force against traitors even if it owes the identification of such traitors to the judgement of the spiritual power.

Really very well worth reading.

h/t sancrucensis

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