An Opening Remark on Integralism and Symphonia

Yesterday on Twitter someone raised the question whether I now reject integralism in favor of symphonia. The reason behind this query is simple: I now dwell somewhere East of Rome. Superficially speaking (though hopefully not too superficially), I do not see integralism and symphonia as contradictory terms, at least not if this pithy definition of the latter holds: “A distinction is drawn between the imperial authority and the priesthood, the former being concerned with human affairs and the latter with things divine; the two are regarded as closely interdependent, but, at least in theory, neither is subordinated to the other” (Oxford Dictionary of the Christian Church, pg. 771). A slightly longer definition of integralism, one which I supplied in an article for The Josias, runs as follows:

Contrary to popular belief, Catholic integralism—or what I shall refer to simply as “integralism” for the duration of this essay—is not first and foremost a political program. For the integral understanding of Christianity begins first with the supernatural society established by our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ, namely the Corpus Mysticum, the Holy Catholic Church, which transcends the temporal sphere and has for its end the salvation of souls. By carrying out its mission in the world, the Catholic Church possesses indirect power over the temporal sphere which is exercised for the good of souls. This indirect power in no way sullies the Church’s divine mission nor dilutes it by way of overextension since the civil authority retains at all times direct power over temporal matters.

Are there slight differences in emphasis? Perhaps. And has their respective concrete historical manifestations yielded distinct practical results–both good and ill? Absolutely. At this juncture in history it seems to be more imperative to look at their commonalities than fall into carping over trivial distinctions.