In the beginning the church was a fellowship of men and women centering on the living Christ. Then the church moved to Greece, where it became a philosophy. Then it moved to Rome, where it became an institution. Next it moved to Europe, where it became a culture, and, finally, it moved to America, where it became an enterprise.
Sick or well, blind or seeing, bond or free, we are here for a purpose and however we are situated, we please God better with useful deeds than with many prayers or pious resignation. The temple or church is empty unless the good life fill it. The altar is holy if only it represents the altar of our heart upon which we offer the only sacrifices ever commanded – the love that is stronger than hate and the faith that overcometh doubt.
Christian civilization has proved hollow to a terrifying degree: it is all veneer, but the inner man has remained untouched, and therefore unchanged. His soul is out of key with his external beliefs; in his soul the Christian has not kept pace with external developments. Yes, everything is to e found outside – in image and in word, in Church and Bible – but never inside. Inside reign the archaic gods, supreme as of old.
Segregation in the church violates something that is basic in the nature of the church. How can a church exclude from “the church of God” those who are children of God? How can it, as “the body of Christ,” withhold the privilege of worship from those who have been brought into union with Christ.
Toleration… is not true liberty when it is only a gracious concession by the state to the individual. Gracious concessions are incompatible with liberty of religion which is not something that a state, or an absolutist church offers, but that which the citizen claims and the law protects.
The Catholic Church rejects nothing which is true and holy in these religions… In Hinduism, men probe the mystery of God and express it with a rich fund of myths, and a penetrating philosophy… In the various forms of Buddhism the basic inadequacy of this changing world is recognized and men are taught with confident application how they can achieve a state of complete liberation… The Church also regards with esteem the Muslims who worship the one, subsistent, merciful and almighty God… They venerate Jesus as a prophet… Given the great spiritual heritage common to Christians and Jews, it is the wish of this sacred Council to foster and recommend a mutual knowledge and esteem.
As we have seen over and over again, whenever church and state enter into partnership, human freedom is restricted, intellectual growth is stifled, and education is formalized and routinized to exclude and smother innovation and creativity.