Rodger Austin Royal Commission
Author: Dr Rodger Austin
Publication: Royal Commission into Institutional Responses to Child Sexual Abuse
THE STATE AND THE CHURCH 1 The Royal Commission into Institutional Responses to Child Sexual Abuse in Australia has investigated such responses within the Catholic Church in Australia and as such this involves the relationship between the State and the Church. 2 Within the historical and political context of the late nineteenth century, Pope Leo XIII [1878-1903] presented in his Encyclical Letter of 1 November 1885 the Church’s teaching on the relationship between the State and the Church as two independent and sovereign societies, each was a perfect society – societas perfecta. A perfect society is one that is complete in itself, a self-sufficient community which has the necessary resources, especially an independent ruling authority, to achieve its overall goal or purpose.1 3 Leo XIII explained that “the Church no less than the State itself is a perfect society in its own nature and in its own right”2 and is “distinguished and differs from civil society” for it is “a supernatural and spiritual society” founded by Jesus Christ.3 The Church “has for her immediate and natural purpose” the salvation of all peoples and the fulness of eternal life in the Kingdom of Heaven.4 By contrast the purpose for which the State exists is “the well-being of its citizens in “this mortal life” safeguarding not only “the well-being of the community” but also “the interests of its individual members”.5 4 As a societas perfecta “Jesus Christ gave to His Apostles unrestrained authority in regard to things sacred, together with the genuine and most true power of making laws, as also with the twofold right of judging and of punishing, which flow from that power”.6 The Church’s purpose is to lead all its members to their eternal salvation and the means for attaining that end include the scriptures, the sacraments and the authority Christ gave to the Church exercised by the Pope and the Bishops “who are not vicars of the Roman Pontiff because they exercise a power really their own”.7 5 Pope Pius X [1903-1914] said that, in accord with the Scriptures, the constitutional structure of the Church “is essentially an unequal society, that is, a society comprising two categories of persons, the pastors and the flock, those who occupy a rank in the different degrees of the hierarchy and the multitude of the faithful. So distinct are these categories that with the pastors rests the necessary right and authority for promoting the end of the society and directing all its members towards that end; the one duty of the multitude is to allow themselves to be led, and, like a docile flock, to follow the Pastors”.
For more information visit: https://www.childabuseroyalcommission.gov.au/sites/default/files/CTJH.304.90001.0020.pdf