“States must be secular. Confessional states end badly.”
~H.H. Pope Francis
If it is indeed true that Pope Francis said this, then he is at odds with a number of popes who came before him. They promoted confessional states and said for somebody to be opposed to a confessional state is to be a modernist.
The modernist says, “The Church ought to be separated from the State, and the State from the Church” (Syllabus of Errors, n. 55).
Saint Pius X, author of Syllabus of Errors, stated, “That the State must be separated from the Church is a thesis absolutely false, a most pernicious error” (Vehementer Nos, n.3).
The Church in the 19th century called this Americanism because many of its adherents were American bishops who adapted constitutional values in spiritual life. Leo XIII wrote an encyclical to warn about this philosophy.
There are a number of problems practicing Catholics will have supporting an absolute separation of Church and state.
1.) The state becomes the arbiter of truth in which all religions, even Christianity, are critiqued; the state puts its proverbial label on aspects of Christianity which it sees as beneficial to the state; this is moralism. As G.K. Chesterton wrote, “Once abolish the God, and the government becomes the god.”
2.) The state gets to dictate which religions are good and which ones are bad. This even means the state can label certain religious groups it does not like as cults. The Church has been labeled a cult in socialist nations like the Soviet Union, China, North Korea and Cuba. Waco comes to mind.
3.) Secularists are indifferent to the de-Christianization of our culture. As much as libertarians and conservatives lament the Islamization of the West, secularism hasn’t helped stop the Islamization but only enabled it because it claims to be welcome to all ideas. This means secularism does not value Christianity any more than Islam in spite of Sharia law’s confliction with classical liberal principles.
4.) When a nation is a confessional state, everything else falls in place. In a secular state, you might win on a particular issue like abortion or gay “marriage”, but lose on others. That’s not to say you force people to issue a law, but in a confessional state the officials have freely come to believe in Church doctrine. Sure, history has some bad examples of things happening, but there are good examples like Liechtenstein, Monaco, Andorra and a number of Swiss cantons.
5.) Secularization is the ultimate weapon to create religious and moral indifference in society. This means the state can easily fund abortions, contraceptives and push for these things along with gay “marriage” at the protestation of religious Christians. This includes endless decrees to defund businesses, schools and other institutions that do not comply with their secular standards. That’s what’s happening in regards to the bathroom debate. Schools are funded by the government to teach in favor of statism, socialism, abortion, contraception and gay “marriage”, to bash Christianity and praise Islam. Secularism and progressivism go together which is why progressivism uses separation of Church and state to justify the ever-increasing secularization of culture from one topic to another. As soon as you bring a logical reasoning why something either should be banned or at least not advocated they shout “separation of Church and state” if not calling you a bigot. They then become the dictators or bullies who shut people up with slogans.
6.) Secular states fall too and they have fallen. The Soviet Union suddenly collapsed in 1991. A nation divided on religion and morals cannot be expected to last long. Secularism does not lead a nation in the right direction, even on economics because then everything from religion to ethics is viewed as relative, meaning what is right or wrong is whatever you make it to be. It shouldn’t be surprising why many people justify Ponzi schemes, homicide, or other criminal acts in a relativistic culture where truth is whatever you make it out to be. It also shouldn’t be surprising that Islamists use the 1st Amendment to tear down the 1st Amendment.
7.) Secularists don’t tolerate Christianity even outside of the government. They say things like “Keep it to yourself.” That goes as far as them wanting to take down public displays of religion: e.g. Nativity scenes. They probably will eventually want to secularize the names of cities like Corpus Christi, San Antonio, San Jose, Los Angeles, Santa Fe, Sacramento or Santa Barbara which witness to the splendor of the Catholic faith brought by Spanish Franciscan missionaries. It witnesses to the history, culture and religion of those who lived there. Secularists don’t respect that. They feel it encroaches on them and they thus feel it necessary to change that. The secularists who took over France via terrorism didn’t respect freedom of religion: in spite of Catholicism being the religion of the majority, it was banned by the French secularists who made their own state religion centered around a goddess.
While many value a two-way street where the state does not, for example, favor Islam or Christianity. It hasn’t worked. It always seems to either be that the state disfavors Christianity or it favors Christianity, but never stays strictly in the middle. Progressives know this too well which is why to try to eliminate Christianity in every part of the public sphere. To be mid-way on Christianity’s influence in society is to allow Christianity to spread and the progressives can’t have that… now can they? Now, this is not to say that coercing people to convert to Catholicism or stay in the faith is a virtue, but it does mean a leader of a country should be a good example whom others can follow. It’s not to advocate tyranny, censorship or other things paranoid secularists think of when they think of a confessional state. Besides, if they were so opposed to the relation between Church and state, then why don’t they bring up federal institutions being closed on Sundays and Christmas: e.g. the post office?