A collection of personal reflections. Copyright © 2005-2011 K. Gurries

Wednesday, February 24, 2010

Religious Freedom: Disputed Questions (Part VII)

Religious Freedom and the Social Kingship of Christ

I would like to conclude these reflections by taking a closer look into the relationship between religious freedom and the Social Kingship of Christ.  Specifically, do the rights to religious freedom and conscience contradict the absolute rights of God?  Do “modern” political systems, as such, violate the rights of the one true Church?  According to some these appear to be mutually exclusive and necessarily opposed.  One could summarize the essence of the argument as follows:           

The Social Kingship of Christ universally demands - regardless of particular circumstances or social context – the civil recognition of the Catholic Church as the one true Church along with all of the rights and prerogatives that this entails – to the exclusion of all other religious bodies and forms of worship.  Therefore, modern pluralist systems and secular democratic states deny the Social Kingship of Christ and the absolute rights of God and His Church.  Catholics are forced to a practical toleration of such “modern” systems only because we do not currently have the necessary means to implement the “Social Kingship of Christ”.  This is the teaching of Pope Pius IX reflected in the Syllabus.    


Unfortunately, certain propositions (e.g., 77 & 78) from the Syllabus are often badly understood or taken without due regard for context, principles of interpretation and logic (Cf. The Intervention of Mgr. Dupanloup).  I would propose, however, that religious freedom, in the sense we have discussed, is rooted in God’s absolute rights over man and society.  Therefore, the Social Reign of Christ presupposes a social context consistent with the requirements of human freedom – in accordance with the will of God.  In this sense, Christ does not truly reign in society until he first reigns freely in hearts, minds and wills.1  When Christ reigns freely in hearts, minds and wills His reign will overflow [naturally and organically] into families, social institutions and the state itself.2  What this means is that pluralist systems of government may often be required precisely in order to uphold the rights of God – who wills human freedom (individually and in a social context) as a precondition to show forth the Kingship of Christ over all creation and in particular over human societies (Cf. CCC, 2105).  In order to demonstrate this more clearly we will consider a number of Catholic principles that must be taken together as a whole:


First, we should recall that man’s rights are ultimately founded upon his duties toward God.  Yet human rights are not unlimited and unqualified.  On the contrary, "duties set a limit on rights because they point to the anthropological and ethical framework of which rights are a part, in this way ensuring that they do not become license" (CV, 43).  Therefore, man’s relative rights are ultimately rooted in God’s absolute rights – and never opposed. 


Second, we may recall that God has created man in His own image and wills the natural freedom or self-determination of man as the foundation for moral freedom.3  Therefore, even in turning away from God, man retains his natural right to self-determination and freedom [immunity] from coercion in faith (Cf. DH, 2).  Bishop Ketteler articulated this point as follows: “Christianity accords to man his full right of self-determination and recognizes in this right his fullest dignity and nobility. In fact, Christianity by its doctrine of eternal damnation recognizes the ultimate consequence of this right, because this teaching implies that God will even permit men to eternally contradict Him rather than violate man's sacred right to self-determination." (Cf. Ketteler, Sermon on "The Christian Concept of Human Freedom", December 17, 1848; See also: FAQ's On Religious Freedom)   


Third, God requires man to be obedient to the dictates of conscience as the proximate and subjective norm of morality.  Therefore, man has the corresponding right to act in obedience to conscience, within due limits (See Part II of this series). 


Fourth, the right to self-determination and immunity from coercion in faith applies to all men – individually and collectively.  Therefore, the civil ruler may not simply establish his own religion – to the exclusion of all others – without due regard for the religious convictions of the body politic.  In other words, the Social Kingship of Christ is something to be freely and organically realized rather than something to be mechanically imposed upon society in an absolutist manner.  The response to such forms of absolutism in modern times has been a steady movement to recover those legitimate and essential aspects of "democracy" especially to curb “authoritarianism [that] excludes the citizens from all effective participation in, or influence upon the formation of the will of the society. Consequently, it [absolutism] splits the nation into two categories, the rulers and the ruled, and the mutual relationship between the two either becomes purely mechanical, being governed by force, or has no more than a biological basis…On the other hand, if we keep in mind the favourite thesis of democracy – which has been expounded in all ages by outstanding Christian thinkers – namely, that the original subject of civil power derived from God is the people (not the “masses”), then the distinction between the Church and even the democratic State becomes increasingly clear…The ecclesiastical power is, indeed essentially different from the civil power, and hence its judicial power is also different from the State. The origin of the Church, unlike the origin of the State, is not to be found in the Natural Law…In one point, however, the fundamental difference between the two is particularly manifest. The establishment of the Church as a society was not effected from below, as was the case in the origin of the State, but from above…” (Cf. Pope Pius XII, AAS, 1945, p. 256; See also: On Governmental Forms)



Fifth, the Church is entrusted by God with a spiritual mission and is entitled to pursue it in full freedom and with the necessary support from the civil power.4  Therefore, the state has the duty to respect the full freedom and rightful autonomy of the Church.  Additionally, political leaders must cooperate with the Church while ensuring her protection.  In his 1953 Address to Catholic Jurists (Ci Riesce), Pope Pius XII identified the essential requirements of any Concordat between the Church and the State.  Concordats are an "expression of collaboration between the Church and State...The Concordats, therefore, must assure to the Church a stable condition in right and in fact in the State with which they are concluded, and must guarantee to her full independence in the fulfillment of her divine mission." (See also: FAQ's On Church and State) 


Sixth, political leaders must favor religious truth and objective moral goodness – while at the same time respecting the rights of conscience and the religious convictions of the body politic: “The Church has not just one principle to keep in mind – man’s obligation as a social being to make social profession of his religion – there are other Catholic principles: that individual persons are obliged to follow their consciences, even erroneous consciences; that no man may be constrained to accept Catholicism; and finally, that the State has the obligation to provide for the common welfare of all, not simply its Catholic citizens” (Cf. Van Noort, Dogmatic Theology, Vol. II, Newman Press, 1957, pp. 382-383; See also Part IV of this series). 


Seventh, while the Catholic ideal (thesis) is the perfection of Catholic unity5, the optimal solution in the juridical order (hypothesis) – to analogically realize the “full freedom”, “cooperation” and “favor” towards religious truth – will legitimately vary according to the just requirements of a given social context.  For example, concordats between the Church and the state – while always preserving the essential immutable principles – often will vary in practical application depending upon the particular circumstances.  In other circumstances the Church may prudently renounce certain acquired rights or other non-essential privileges that may be potentially detrimental to her spiritual mission or no longer considered equitable within the context of a non-Catholic or mixed population (See, for example, Pope Pius XI concerning the Lateran Treaty, A.A.S., 1929, pp. 108-109; Cf., Journet, op. cit., p. 466; Also, see Cardinal Cerejeira, patriarch of Lisbon, concerning the 1940 concordat with Portugal, November 18, 1941; Jacques Maritain, Man and the State, CUA Press, 1951, p. 163).  Dr. John Rao provides some helpful insights from Taparelli in this context: “And, truth to say, one cannot artificially enforce a unity that does not exist.  In such circumstances, the Church might ask for only one thing: freedom to preach, to speak, to publish, and to teach---the same freedom that would be granted to all other groups that did not manifestly violate the dictates of reason. ‘This is the protection she demands from the governments of non-Catholic peoples’, Taparelli wrote in 1850; ‘she does not ask for violent actions to promote her; she asks no benefit to suborn others; she is strong enough with her own light and efforts.’” (Cf. Rao, Theology of the Mystical Body, Ch. 4; See also: The Intervention of Mgr. Dupanloup - Part II)


Eighth, within a mixed or pluralist context, prudence and justice often dictate political systems that satisfy in a stable manner the demands of tolerance and due freedom of conscience.  Far from being opposed to the Social Kingship of Christ, such systems ensure respect for human rights rooted in God’s rights as stated above.  In other words, the rights of God and the Church may dictate pluralist systems for the sake of the immutable principles themselves.6  Additionally, the reality of a pervasive and progressive globalization has created the need for national and international structures of peaceful coexistence, tolerance and religious freedom.  In this sense, Pope Pius XII affirmed that the “increasingly frequent contacts between different religious professions, mingled indiscriminately within the same nation, have caused civil authorities to follow the principles of tolerance and liberty of conscience.  In fact, there is a political tolerance, a civil tolerance, a social tolerance, in regard to adherents of other religious beliefs which, in circumstances such as these, is a moral duty for Catholics.” (Pius XII, Allocution to the Roman Rota, October 6, 1946)



In conclusion, I would like to recall that Bishop von Ketteler had articulated the fundamental principles in connection with Religious Freedom in a manner wholly consistent with the teaching of the great theologians before his time (e.g., St. Thomas and Suarez).7  Additionally, we can recognize clear continuity between the teaching of the Bishop of Mainz and the teaching later reflected in Dignitatis Humanae (DH).  Therefore, if there is any novelty or innovation to be found in Bishop Ketteler’s teaching it is certainly not at the level of immutable principles.  On the other hand, we can find much value in Bishop Ketteler’s application of immutable principles to “new” contexts involving mixed populations within formerly confessional states.  In my opinion, this “innovation in continuity” constitutes one of the most valuable aspects of his work – and it greatly anticipates the concepts behind the “hermeneutic of continuity” given by Pope Benedict XVI nearly 150 years later. 

In this process of innovation in continuity we must learn to understand more practically than before that the Church's decisions on contingent matters…precisely because they refer to a specific reality that is changeable in itself.  It was necessary to learn to recognize that in these decisions it is only the principles that express the permanent aspect, since they remain as an undercurrent, motivating decisions from within.  On the other hand, not so permanent are the practical forms that depend on the historical situation and are therefore subject to change.  Basic decisions, therefore, continue to be well-grounded, whereas the way they are applied to new contexts can change. (Cf. Pope Benedict XVI, Address to the Roman Curia, December 22, 2005)

Back to Part VI            Back to Part I


1 Cf. Quas Primas, 7, 33.  This aspect of the Social Kingship of Christ is considered from the subjective point of view -- where His objective dominion over all creation is duly recognized by individual hearts, minds and wills.  This also corresponds to the petition in the Our Father -- that His Kingdom may come.

2 This is also the triple basis of social unity: minds united in truth, wills united in the good, hearts united by the flame of charity.  Christians explicitly recognize in Christ all truth, goodness and love - and therefore the basis of all true unity.  At the same time, however, others who by grace of faith implicitly recognize Christ as Lord can also contribute towards the building up of a true social unity based upon truth, goodness and the reign of God's love: "The coming-together of such men to co-operate for the good of human society is not based on equivocation. It is based upon "analogical" likeness as between the practical principles, motions, and progressions implied in their common acceptance of the law of love and corresponding to the primary inclinations of human nature. And why should I, a Christian, according to whose faith a single Name has been given to men through whom they can be saved, even in the temporal order, why should I disguise the fact that this community of analogy itself supposes a primum analogatum purely and simply true; and that implicitly and ultimately everything which is authentic love, working in the world for the reconciliation of men and the common good of their life here below, tends, under forms more or less perfect, more or less pure, toward Christ, who is known to some, un- known to others?" (Cf. Maritain, The Journal of Religion, University of Chicago Press, Vol. 21, No. 4, October, 1941) 

3 Cf. Libertas, 1-3; In DH this is referred to as "psychological freedom" (Cf. DH, 2).

4 Pope Pius XI identifies the evils that prompted him to initiate the Feast of Christ the King: "The right which the Church has from Christ himself, to teach mankind, to make laws, to govern peoples in all that pertains to their eternal salvation, that right was denied. Then gradually the religion of Christ came to be likened to false religions and to be placed ignominiously on the same level with them. It was then put under the power of the state and tolerated more or less at the whim of princes and rulers. Some men went even further, and wished to set up in the place of God's religion a natural religion consisting in some instinctive affection of the heart. There were even some nations who thought they could dispense with God, and that their religion should consist in impiety and the neglect of God." (Cf. Quas Primas, 24)

5 According to Vermeersch we "may compare the thesis to an ideal, the perfect realization of which is not possible in  this world...And even where complete realization cannot be obtained, it is a great blessing to come near it, and to possess in the ideal that we cherish and the reality that we accept with resignation an end of our efforts, and a rule by which we may measure our social progress" (Cf. Vermeersch, Tolerance, Benziger, 1913, pp. 252-253).   In this sense, the notion of a true Catholic "confessional" state, understood as a society freely constituted on the basis of unity in the Catholic Faith, can be understood as "coming near" the absolute ideal considered in the abstract.  Such a religiously united society will naturally lead to the "special civil recognition" of the Catholic Church, however, without contradicting due respect for the religious freedom of non-Catholics in their midst. (Cf. DH, 6) 

6 By way of analogy, we can compare this to the legitimate variation in economic systems depending on the context of time and place.  For example, in one context just price determination may be fixed by a guild or occupational association.  In another context market systems may be utilized as an efficient mechanism for just price determination.  In either case, the goal of justice in pricing -- founded upon the immutable prinicple of equivalence -- remains constant.  Therefore, in changing circumstances, the systems themselves may need to change for the sake of the immutable principles themselves.  We find another example in the case of interest on loans.  Fr. Heinrich Pesch notes: "In pastoral practice, those who take modest interest nowadays need not feel concerned, in the light of the penitentiary instructions. The new Codex luris Canonici (Can. 1543) goes further...There were those who attributed the easing of the Church’s position to a concession to the sad state of affairs which came about with capitalism, or to the hardness of men’s hearts. The theologian would have some genuine reservations about such a position. The divine moral law remains ever the same and unchangeable; and the Church, according to Catholic teaching, is its true guardian through the ages…" (Cf. My Opuscula post "Solidarist Perspectives"; Pesch, LDN, 5.2, 4, 1, 5)

7 Cahill characterizes Ketteler's "Freedom, Authority and the Church" as a "classical expression of the Church's position" on the social question - where the question of religious freedom was thouroughly treated (along with many other related topics) within the context of the broader social question. (Cf. Cahill, The Framework of a Christian State, 1932, RCB,  p. 256)

Thursday, February 11, 2010

Religious Freedom: Disputed Questions (Part VI)

Natural Law: A Compromise Confessional State?

We now proceed to analyze another objection to Bishop Ketteler raised by Chris Ferrara in the second installment of his three-part Remnant series.  As we have seen, Bishop Ketteler follows the common teaching of Suarez and St. Thomas in placing the [absolute] limits to religious freedom in the juridical order within the confines of the natural moral law (See Part II of this series).  On the other hand, those due limits to the full public and civic manifestation of religious freedom can be more restrictive within the context of a confessional state freely constituted on the basis of unity of faith (See Parts I and III of this series).  This [absolute] limit to civic religious freedom is also clearly taught in Dignitatis Humanae (DH, 7).  Therefore, Mr. Ferrara must concede that the official interpretation of Dignitatis Humanae is consistent with the common teaching expressed by Bishop Ketteler:

Von Ketteler would reply that his criterion for restricting the legal existence of certain sects is, as he puts it, “reason… natural morality, and… the natural order of things.  No reasonable moral freedom can go so far as to destroy moral order to which everyone has a right.” As Father Harrison has pointed out, according to the relator at Vatican II (but not the infallible Magisterium) this is essentially the limitation DH would impose on “the right to religious freedom.”  (Cf. Chris Ferrara, The Remnant, October 15, 2009, p. 15)

In the next breath, however, Mr. Ferrara sets himself in opposition to this traditional teaching (inclusive of St. Thomas and Suarez) concerning the absolute limit to religious freedom.  The basis for this opposition to the common teaching is twofold: (1) it creates a kind of detachment or separation between morality and religious truth; (2) it equates to a compromise or “lowest common denominator” approach to religion and morality.

So, according to von Ketteler, and one reading of DH, the State has the right to repress the public activity of sects only when their tenets attack the moral order, but not when they simply preach heresy—an argument that presumes without demonstration that morality can be detached from the integrity of religious truth, which it clearly cannot be. At least seven obvious objections present themselves to this attempt at a “lowest common denominator” distinction between tolerable and intolerable religious errors.  (Cf. Ferrara)

Mr. Ferrara then attempts to defend his position against the common teaching with a series of arguments: 

First, according to von Ketteler’s own criterion Protestant sects ought to be restrained from propagating their errors in Catholic countries, since the inevitable tendency of Protestantism is precisely to degrade “reason, morality and the natural order of things.” (ibid)

This is certainly a false representation of Bishop Ketteler’s teaching since (as discussed previously) the spread of heresy would be forbidden in the context of a true confessional state that is freely constituted on the basis of unity in the Catholic faith (See parts I, III and V of this series).  In such a religiously united context the due limits to religious freedom corresponds to ecclesiastical law.  Additionally, Mr. Ferrara does not explain how the common errors of Protestantism constitute punishable violations of natural law while, as Suarez noted, the practices of Judaism and Islam do not constitute such a violation.  In this sense, St. Paul indicates that pagans – not having the law of faith – are a “law to themselves” insofar as they conscientiously conform their actions to the natural moral law that is “written in their hearts” (Rom. 2:14-15).  Finally, being illogical regarding supernatural aspects to religious truth is not necessarily a punishable civil offense.

Second, von Ketteler contradicts the Magisterium by limiting the authority of the State in this area to defending the bare existence of some kind of personal God, such as the Masonic Architect of the Universe, and the preservation of “natural morality,” as he calls it. (Cf. Ferrara)   

Again, this is a false representation of Bishop Ketteler’s teaching since he clearly affirms the duty of Catholic rulers to give cooperation and positive support to the Church and her spiritual mission.  In addition, Bishop Ketteler denounces any indifferentism on the part of civil rulers towards religious and moral truth.  At the same time, however, the civil power, as such, does not have an unlimited scope of authority to apply coercive force in all matters pertaining to religious and supernatural truth – as this properly belongs to the domain of the Church. (See part IV of this series)

Third, natural law needs the support of divine law, the revealed will of God in Sacred Scripture and Tradition as enunciated by an infallible teaching authority, if the commands of the natural law are not to be drowned out in a welter of dissenting opinions advanced by fallen men whose reason is darkened by Original Sin…The divine law cannot be separated from the moral life of the rightly ordered State any more than it can from the life of the rightly ordered individual soul. To transgress the divine law is to undermine morality… In short, the State must defend divine law for the sake of morality itself. (Cf. Ferrara)

Certainly Bishop Ketteler nowhere denies the necessity of supernatural grace, divine revelation and the Magisterium of the Church as a divinely constituted teaching authority.  The point is that the civil power, as such, does not have the legitimate authority to use coercive power in any of these areas.  The state must cooperate and support the Church in these areas as stated above.  Therefore, the civil authorities should do all in their power to favor morality and religious truth without violating the limits and legitimate use of their coercive power.  Here it is necessary to reflect on the teaching of Pope Pius XII concerning the limits to human authority and coercive power in religious matters: "Could God, although it would be possible and easy for Him to repress error and moral deviation, in some cases choose the "non impedire" without contradicting His infinite perfection? Could it be that in certain circumstances He would not give men any mandate, would not impose any duty, and would not even communicate the right to impede or to repress what is erroneous and false? A look at things as they are gives an affirmative answer…Moreover, God has not given even to human authority such an absolute and universal command in matters of faith and morality.  Such a command is unknown to the common convictions of mankind, to Christian conscience, to the sources of Revelation and to the practice of the Church.” (Pope Pius XII, Address to Catholic Jurists, 1953)     

Fourth, the minimalist natural religion and “natural morality” von Ketteler would have the State defend by restraining its violators does not actually exist: it has no dogmas, no church to preach it, no Magisterium to define it. (Cf. Ferrara)

On the contrary, the natural moral law is a reality that God has inscribed onto all hearts.1  In addition, the state has the duty and corresponding right to uphold these laws for the sake of the common good.  Can fallen man become confused about the moral law giving rise to the necessity of positive revelation and a divinely constituted teaching authority?  Absolutely!  Again, the state must favor religious truth and Catholic rulers should support and defend the mission of the Church, however, without going beyond the natural limits that God has imposed on the civil power.  In other words, the moral duty to favor the true religion does not imply the native right to the use of coercive power in this domain -- even if such a coercive power can legitimately extend to religious matters, per accidens.2  Additionally, Bishop Ketteler notes that the scope of civil authority, as such, does not extend to "supernatural truths of revelation".  The Bishop then adds that authority "can be extended if the Church chooses to confer more powers, as the Church did grant additional rights to the ancient Christian rulers – powers which they then exercised in the name of the Church."3 (Cf. Religious Freedom Part II)  

Fifth, how would von Ketteler propose that the State defend belief in “a personal God” against sects alleged to attack it?  Will the “personal God” whose existence the State defends be a Trinity, a Father, a Great Spirit, a generic Creator or all of the above?  (Cf. Ferrara)

Here we must once again recall that the natural moral law dictates the [absolute] limit to religious freedom.  The questions posed by Ferrara above presupposes that the objective criterion of the natural moral law is beyond the grasp of man – lacking the common grammar necessary to pursue the natural end of the state (Cf. Rom. 2:14-15).  Fr. Higgins notes that the “natural law indicates only the broadest outline of the mode of worshiping God.  But there is a vast array of systems by which the one true God is worshiped” (Cf. Higgins, Man as Man: The Science and Art of Ethics, TAN Publishers, p. 185).  At the same time, however, the natural law indicates those vices opposed to true religion including: indifference, relativism, irreligion, blasphemy, sacrilege, simony, perjury, superstition, idolatry, divination and magic (Cf. Higgins, op cit., pp. 186-189; Fr. Fagothey, Right and Reason, TAN, pp. 271-272).  These vices against religion can be known by the light of natural reason and the natural law and are objectively harmful to the state.  Therefore, the civil power has the duty to favor and promote true religious virtue and the legitimate authority to apply coercion when necessary against such vices in view of the common good.    

Sixth, when disputes arise over whether a sect is really guilty of professing one of von Ketteler’s repressible errors—“denial of a personal God,” “foster[ing] crass materialism,” or teachings “which jeopardize morality”—to what authority would the State have recourse in determining the impermissible variations of the “personal God” tenet, the forbidden “crass materialism,” or the unacceptable moral opinions?  If not the Catholic Church, then who?  And if the Church, have we not returned to the concept of the Catholic confessional state? (Cf. Ferrara)

It is unclear whether Ferrara is referring to the context of a true confessional Catholic state, an absolutist regime, or a secular state with a mixed population.  In the former case, doctrinal “disputes” are settled by the authority of the Church.  Within the context of an absolutist regime religious and moral questions are settled by the will of the ruler -- following the principle of the so-called "divine right of kings" or adopting the principle of Louis XIV: L’Etat c’est moi (I am the state).  Within the context of a pluralist or mixed secular state, however, the “disputes” concerning the objective criterion of the moral law must be resolved by reasoned public debate.  This has nothing to do with positivistic convention based on artificial "consensus".  Rather, it involes a natural and necessary process of reasoning and discernment regarding the objective content of the natural moral law and its prudential application to concrete circumstances.  Taparelli expressed a similar view as noted by Dr. John Rao: “What happens if a society suffers an obvious, severe division of opinion regarding religious truth, as in any modern pluralist society?  Every Catholic in such circumstances, the Civiltà argued, should strive to re-Catholicize the society in question with the greatest possible vigor.  Nevertheless, the Catholic living under these conditions of disunity could demand from the State only those restrictions on error that were commonly accepted by everyone as being rational and natural” (Cf. Rao, Theology of the Mystical Body, Ch. 4).  The Church plays a crucial role in this process by making her voice heard and by enlightening the consciences of Catholics and all men of good will.  For their part, the Catholic laity has its own crucial role to play including the duty and right to engage in the “apostolate in the social milieu, that is, the effort to infuse a Christian spirit into the mentality, customs, laws, and structures of the community in which one lives…so that they attract all to the love of the true and the good and finally to the Church and to Christ” (AA, 13). (See also part IV of this series)

Seventh, today an enormous variety of religious sects fall into the category even von Ketteler would deem intolerable and deserving of repression. But since modern society, having rejected the organic union of Church and State, is no longer united concerning the existence, nature or attributes of God or the moral principles from which the sects have long since defected in condoning divorce, contraception, abortion, adultery, premarital sex, homosexual relations, etc., on what ground would von Ketteler stand, were he were alive in 2009, to insist that the State must restrain the propagation of the errors he deemed intolerable in 1862 as threats to “reason, natural morality, and the natural order of things”? (Cf. Ferrara)       

As we have seen, Bishop Ketteler laments the disunity of the faith and its consequences to the state and civil society.  Furthermore, having recognized the de facto disunity it is no longer legitimate to employ a mode of coercion that is proper to true confessional states.  Were Bishop Ketteler alive today he would no doubt speak as he did within the context of a mixed Germany.  He would speak out in defense of the Church and religious and moral truth.  He would encourage the Catholic faithful to take up their crucial role in the apostolate in the social milieu.  In summary, Bishop Ketteler would continue to do now what he had done then.

Back to Part V            Forward to Part VII


1 We can also note here that the natural law, properly understood, is necessarily open to the transcendent and the truths given by way of positive divine revelation.

2 The implication here is that religious and spiritual matters can accidentally and temporarily assume a temporal character.  In such special cases of necessity, the civil power may be justified - by virtue of its own unique title - to the use coercive power in religious matters -- but never exercised contrary to the objective moral order. 

3 This corresponds to the temporal power acting as "secular arm" to the Church within the context of of confessional or sacral state.