I think this question is a very pertinent one in our day, because some kind of eartly paradise is the goal of most of the current secular ideologies. To my mind the answer is emphatically ‘No,’ for several reasons which I shall now do my best to put before you.

One very obvious and well-known reason lies in the nature of society and in the nature of man. Society is, after all, only the common ground between the fields of action of a number of personalities, and human personality, at any rate as we know it in this world, has an innate capacity for evil as well as for good. If these two statements are true, as I believe them to be, then in any society on Earth, unless and until human nature itself undergoes a moral mutation which would make an essential change in its character, the possibility of evil, as well as of good, will be born into the world afresh with every child and will never be wholly ruled out as long as that child remains alive. This is as much as to say that the replacement of a multiplicity of civilizations by a universal church would not have purged human nature of original sin; and this leads to another consideration: so long as original sin remains an element in human nature, Caesar will always have work to do, and there will still be Caesar’s things to be rendered to Caesar, as well as God’s to God, in this world. Human society on Earth will not be able wholly to dispense with institutions of which the sanction is not purely the individual’s active will to make them work, but is partly habit and partly even force. These imperfect institutions will have to be administered by a secular power which might be subordinated to religious authority but would not thereby be eliminated. And even if Caesar were not merely subordinated but were wholly eliminated by the Church, something of him would still survive in the constitution of his supplanter; for the institutional element has historically, up to date, been dominant in the life of the Church herself in her traditional Catholic form, which, on the long historical view, is the form in which one has to look at her.

In this Catholic form of the Church, I see two fundamental institutions, the Sacrifice of the Mass and the Hierarchy, which are indissolubly welded together by the fact that the priest, by definition, is the person with the power to perform the rite. If, in speaking of the Mass, one may speak, without offence, with the tongues of the historian and the anthropologist, then, using this language, one may describe the Sacrifice of the Mass as the mature form of a most ancient religious rite of which the rudiments can be traced back to the worship of the fertility of the Earth and her fruits by the earliest tillers of the soil. (I am speaking here merely of the mundane origin of the rite.) as for the hierarchy of the Church in its traditional form, this, as one knows, is modelled on a more recent and less awe-inspiring yet nevertheless most potent institution, the imperial civil service of the Roman Empire.