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Association of German Catholics, Founding Manifesto (July 8, 1872)

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In all this, the anti-clerical press is being publicly organized for battle against us; it is granted the most outrageous latitude to incriminate and slander Catholics, to mock the papal father, to hurl abuse at the most venerable institutions of the church, to heap scorn on all that is sacred to us!

Thus, even if our adversaries were not shouting it out from parliamentary rostrums and repeating it incessantly in fanatical daily newspapers, we are becoming more aware day by day that the current struggle is directed against the overall existence of the Catholic Church in Germany.

The state – that is, the state that the enemies of revealed religion and the church are seeking to construct and invest with authority by arbitrary and passionate means – does not tolerate within its secular sphere any [spiritual]** power that tells it the truth when it errs, that censures its injustices when it sins.

We, on the other hand, stand firm behind our ecclesiastical-political principles, which reason and faith teach us. We adhere to the conviction that there are two powers on earth, which God has appointed for the salvation of mankind. We also believe, however, that it is the will of God, to whose divine providence the worldly order in the form of the state owes its existence, and whose grace has founded the order of salvation within the church, not to view the two orders as separate, but rather as united, so as to establish the great Christian community that is destined to extend across the entire globe. We discern the proper relationship between state and church, however, in the goals set for each: here, a goal in the earthly realm that necessarily takes a subordinate role to the higher, eternal goals of man; there, that eternal goal that extends infinitely beyond this finite existence, treating it like the means to an end. For that reason, we abide by the instructions of the divine founder of our holy religion: to render unto Caesar that which is Caesar's and unto God that which is God’s. And just as we know that faith is the secure guiding light for the actions of each individual, we also revere as part of the apostolic pedagogical duties of the church the authority that teaches the nations and rulers the truth of Christian moral law and that reminds and fortifies us to speak in the manner of the apostles: One must obey God more than the people.

If people in high places, where the reins of secular power rest, no longer recognize these principles, this true foundation of all civic and state order, then we have to work even harder with all legal means at our disposal to win that recognition: on the one hand, in order to preserve for the church the freedom and independence given to it by God and thus the purview of its divine mission; on the other hand, to try with all our might to establish a bulwark against the dissolution and disintegration of civic order, which will inevitably occur if the opposing principles gain the upper hand.

** “günstige” here should almost certainly be “geistige” [spiritual] – ed.

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