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*Image: Crucifixion of St Peter, 1660 by Luca Giordano [Gallerie dell’Accademia, Venice]

By Randall Smith, The Catholic Thing, Jan. 9, 2023

Randall B. Smith is a Professor of Theology at the University of St. Thomas in Houston, Texas. His latest book is From Here to Eternity: Reflections on Death, Immortality, and the Resurrection of the Body.

Please, allow me to begin with some wisdom from St. John Henry Newman’s Lectures on the Present Position of Catholics in England. Speaking of the establishment of a state religion, Newman wrote:

Now, you may say that Catholicism has often been established also. True, but Catholicism does not depend on its establishment for its existence, nor does its tradition live upon its establishment; it can do without establishment, and often dispenses with it to an advantage. A Catholic nation, as a matter of course, establishes Catholicism because it is a Catholic nation; but in such a case Catholicism and its tradition come first, and establishment comes second; the establishment is the spontaneous act of the people; it is a national movement, the Catholic people does it, and not the Catholic Church….

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