Lumen Scholasticum

Elucubrations, translations, and commentary from a Scholastic and Catholic integralist perspective

Bouix on the consensus of Cardinals and whether popes may bind their successors

Since we first discovered the writings of Marie-Dominique Bouix, the French canonist who made a name for himself in the 19th century combating Gallicanism and defending strenuously the rights of the Apostolic See of Peter, we have been reading him continuously—especially once we had managed to procure printed copies of his works. Again and again we are delighted to discover remarkably topical chapters and articles in his canonical treatises which, in our humble opinion, are able to shed much light on questions agitated in the controversies of our day. In the present case, it is his discussion of the relationship between the Sacred College and the Roman Pontiff, in which he treats the question of whether popes may bind their successors, that engaged our attention. Anyone familiar with the traditionalist liturgical and canonical debates about Pius V’s Quo primum and Sixtus V’s Postquam verus will be aware of the relevance of such a discussion.

The present excerpt is from Bouix’s De Curia Romana (1859), Ia pars, cap. VI, §1, prop. IV-V. A .pdf of this translation may be found here.

N.B. In the places where Bouix has not supplied a source for an assertion or an authority adduced, we have done our best to provide them ourself from likely works.


Proposition IV. — The Pope does not need the consensus of the Cardinals in order to alienate [that is, transfer] goods of the Church. — This proposition would already be proved sufficiently from the general thesis, which has now been established, that the Pope does not need the consensus of the cardinals in dispatching business concerning the rule of the Church. Yet, since there occur some special difficulties regarding the present matter and some others, it seems good to discuss them individually at present, so that the doctrine given may be confirmed all the more, and all occasion of doubt removed.

As regards ecclesiastical goods, that the Pope does not need the consensus of the Cardinals in order to alienate them can be proved thus:

He would be bound to obtain consensus of this sort, either from the sacred canons and the decrees of his predecessors which proscribe this under penalty even of nullity: or from some right proper to the cardinalitial dignity: or from some divine law: or by force of consuetude: but none of these can be said, as is proved under the following numbers:

I. In order to alienate goods of the Church, the Pope is not bound to obtain the consensus of the Cardinals from any canons or Pontifical decrees, even those requiring such consensus under penalty of nullity. — Certain it is that there are decrees which prohibit the Roman Pontiff from alienating goods of the Church without the consensus of the Cardinals. Already under Pope Symmachus we find his power constrained regarding the Pontifical alienation of goods of this sort: « Let it be forbidden for the Pope to alienate an estate of the Church for some necessity, or to give lands for usufruct; except only houses which in any cities whatsoever are sustained at no small cost. Let all custodians be bound by this law; so that the donor, the surveyor, the seller be disgraced. And he who should subscribe, let him be anathema with him who hath given it, or who hath received it, except it be restored. Let it be permitted also to any and all ecclesiastical persons to refuse, and to demand back the things alienated with the profits of the same. Which is to be observed not only in the Apostolic Church, but is also declared to pertain to all the churches throughout the provinces. » (c. Non liceat, C. XII, q. 2, ex synodo III sub Symmacho Papa, anno 499). But Gregory IX in his Constitution Rex excelsus of 16 Jan 1234, making the aforesaid ordinance of Symmachus more determinate, judged to be void any alienations of the patrimonials of the Apostolic See, unless they be done with the prior counsel and assent of the Brethren, namely, the Cardinals. Since there nevertheless afterwards followed some alienations and infeudations, those which had been done without usefulness Pius IV annulled, in his Constitution Apostolicæ servitutis; in which, after he recalled, that hitherto there have been many alienations of the things of the Roman Church done and approved by the Roman Pontiffs our predecessors, and perchance (which we relate with sorrow) by us, with no reasonable cause urging it, unto the gravest harm of the Church herself, unto the offense of God, the scandal of the people, and the evident peril of souls, those he annulled and made void. There followed the Constitution Admonet nos of Pius V, in which there is prohibited only the alienation and infeudation of fortresses, fiefs, and jurisdictional places; but in the same place it is prescribed, that the Cardinals swear to the observance of this Constitution, both in their promotion or assumption of the hat, and in conclave when the See is vacant. Likewise, that the Supreme Pontiff newly ascended should make the same oath, which he ought to repeat afterwards in his confirmatory letters. For other Pontifical ordinances regarding this matter, see Cardinal Petra, Commentaria in constitutiones apostolicas, tom. II, in Const. VI Greg. IX. Therefore there are many decrees which make the consensus of the Cardinals necessary for alienating goods of the Church.

Nevertheless it should be said that the Pontifical power is in no wise bound by these canons and decrees, and the said consensus of the Cardinals is not at all required; which is proved thus:

1° Even if the mentioned decrees had force of themselves for binding the Pope, they would no longer be in force on account of desuetude. Concerning this desuetude Cardinal de Luca writes thus: « …although Gregory IX, renewing the Constitution of Symmachus (in c. Non liceat, XII, q. 2) in his mentioned sixth Constitution[*], established it thus (namely, that alienations were void without the assent of the Cardinals), and the Council of Constance adhered to the said decree, nevertheless all these seem to be abolished by unuse, or contrary custom, at least de facto, the most ample derogations standing… Whence in the many similar controversies agitated in my time, although the most learned advocate of the Camera and the Purse has continually inculcated this motive of the Constitution of Gregory IX, yet I know that in the Camera no concern was ever had for it » (Theatrum veritatis, de feudis, disc. IV, n. 2 and 3). « This Constitution seems to be abolished by contrary custom, on account of the ample derogations accustomed to be assigned in concessions » (ibid., disc. V, n. 13). Cardinal Petra attests the same: « In practice the ordinance of the cited canon Non liceat, and the form introduced by this Constitution of Gregory IX, has fallen into desuetude » (Commentaria, tom. II, in Const. VI Greg. IX, n. 19). Therefore, at least because of the desuetude of the aforementioned decrees, the Pope is no longer bound to require the consensus of the Cardinals in order to alienate goods of the Church.

[*] It should be noted that Petra here employs the numbering of Cherubini’s Bullarium Romanum. — Tr.

2° But the Roman Pontiff was never bound and could never be bound by these decrees. Which Cardinal Petra expounds thus: « Yet there arises against the aforementioned ordinances of Symmachus and Gregory a living and convincing reason, that they in no way could have been able to compel and arrest the succeeding Pontiffs; since the Pope is unbound by the laws, nor does an equal have authority over an equal [par in parem non habet imperium], as was precisely said by Innocent III (in c. Innotuit, de electione): That he could not in this office make any prejudice to his successors, who are to discharge after him an equal, no indeed the very same power, since an equal has no authority over an equal [non habet imperium par in parem]. Whence Boniface VIII (c. Quia, de rescriptis, 6), while he imposes a sure law upon himself, and says at the end, And that which we do not suffer to be permitted to us, we indicate to our successors, in that place the Gloss, at the word indicamus, subjoins: he could indicate, but could not impose a law, because an equal has no authority over an equal. And Pius V of holy memory used the same words (in the cited 35th Constitution, de non infeudandis, §2): And that which we do not suffer to be permitted to us, we indicate to our successors. And the Canonists have taught this explicitly… » (Commentaria, tom. II, in Const. VI Greg. IX, n. 15-16).

That the canonists in truth hold to this commonly will be sufficiently clear if one reads Fagnani (in c. Ex parte, de feudis, n. 23ff; in c. Omnis, de poenitent. et remiss., n. 25; in c. 1 de Constitutionibus, n. 56ff); Cardinal de Luca (adnot. ad disc. IV de feudis, n. 1 and 2; de relationibus Curiæ Romanæ, disc. II, n. 30); the Rota (decisio 1204, n. 12, coram Emerix iuniore; decisio 664, n. 9, partis 2, recentiorum); and Petra himself (after the locus transcribed above).

3° But now, the reasons customarily adduced for the proof of the thesis can be shown under another form thus: Firstly, the legislator cannot constrain with his law anyone but those inferior to him; but no Pope is inferior relative to another Pope his predecessor; therefore no Pope properly can be obliged by the law of his predecessor. Secondly, he who succeeds the legislator with equal power, can abrogate his law; but each and every Pope succeeds his predecessors with equal power; therefore he can abrogate their disciplinary laws; therefore the papal prohibition that the Roman Pontiff not alienate goods of the Church without the consensus of the Cardinals, can be abrogated by any succeeding Roman Pontiff whosoever; therefore no Pope is bound by such a law; therefore any Pope whosoever can act against such a law; because by acting against a law of this sort, by that very fact he abrogates or nullifies it. Thirdly, the said law should not be said to have directive force over succeeding Roman Pontiffs. For indeed it is a sufficiently common opinion of the doctors, that the legislator is constrained by his own laws and those of his predecessors as regards directive force, although he is not obliged as regards coercive force; but now, this only holds true with regard to laws passed for the whole community, and in the hypothesis that they are not abrogated; but not with regard to laws only touching upon succeeding legislators, nor with regard to the faculty of abrogating the laws of predecessors: but the law prohibiting the Pope from alienating goods of the Church without the consensus of the Cardinals, would be directed only to succeeding Pontiffs; and moreover when a succeeding Pontiff acts against it, by that very fact he abrogates it; therefore that which is said of the directive force of laws upon even the legislator himself, has no application here. Take as an example the law of confessing one’s sins once a year at Easter, which law, insofar as it prescribed such a time, is merely ecclesiastical: such a law is passed for all the faithful, not for succeeding legislators only; and when it is asked whether the Pope himself is also bound by the force of this law to confess his sins at Easter, it is supposed that the law is not abrogated, but remains in its force. Furthermore, in this hypothesis, the doctors commonly hold with St. Thomas (ST IaIIæ, q. 96, a. 5 ad 3) that the legislator is obliged by the directive force of the law to observe his laws and those of his predecessors; and such that, unless he himself observe them, he may sin, whether by reason of scandal, or for other reasons. But now, if the Pope passes a law, not for all the faithful, but only for restraining the power of his successors in some matter, if a succeeding Pope should indeed wish to annul entirely that law, and de facto abrogate it, it would be absurd to say that the said succeeding Pope is constrained by such a law even as regards directive force.

4° Hence the said laws cannot be considered as anything but counsels which are given by a preceding Pope to his successors. Nor is this hindered by the fact that Gregory IX had willed that the consensus of the Cardinals be so necessary, that in its absence, he decreed that an alienation be entirely null: for this must be understood as subordinated to the will of his successors; so that it retains force so long as they wish the law to endure; but it is otherwise if they should wish it to be done away with.

II. Nor is their consensus required from any right proper to the Cardinals, in order that the Pope might be able to alienate goods of the Church. — 1. « It is a true and common conclusion of writers, that the Pope can explicate difficult matters without the Cardinals », as Fagnani relates (in c. Ex parte, de feudis, n. 18); and he cites many canonists who affirm the same: therefore according to the true and common opinion of the doctors, the Pope can alienate goods of the Church, omitting the consensus of the Cardinals; therefore no right belongs to the Cardinals from which it is demonstrated that their consensus is necessary for the said alienation.

2. Moreover, whatever right or power the Cardinals have, has descended to them from the Pope. Thus hold the doctors in common. The power of the Cardinals, Fagnani says (in c. Ex parte, de feudis, n. 20), emanates from the Pope alone. Which the Archdeacon had already taught previously (in c. Ubi periculum, de electione, in 6): But the power of the Lord Cardinals is from man: for whatever they are able to do, they have from the Pope. Nor do others differ, see Fagnani in the cited locus. The same can also be inferred from the very nature of the cardinalitial institution. For we have said above, that its distinctive characteristic consists in this, that it is a clerical college instituted for assisting the Pope in the rule of the Church. Therefore the right which is proper or essential to the cardinalitial institution, is this only, to assist. But if the Pope were to depend upon the consensus of the Cardinals in his action, the Cardinals would be something more than mere assistants, as is clear. Nor can it be objected that a cathedral chapter is also a college of clerics instituted for assisting the Bishop in the rule of the diocese: for that right comes to the cathedral chapter, not from the nature of its proper office, but from ecclesiastical law, which has willed episcopal power to be restricted in this manner. But since there exists no one superior to the Pope, papal power cannot be restrained by any ecclesiastical law in the said manner, and be made to depend upon the consensus of the Cardinals. It remains, therefore, that the consensus of Cardinals, in order that the Pope be able to alienate goods of the Church, is required neither by any ecclesiastical law, nor from the nature of the cardinalitial office.

III. Nor is the said consensus required by any divine law. — For even if it be admitted that the Cardinals are of divine institution, yet in no way can it be proven that the Roman Pontiffs are prohibited by Christ himself from alienating goods of the Church without the consensus of the Cardinals. There exists nowhere any vestige of a divine law of this sort. Moreover, that to the Roman Pontiff has been committed by Christ the full power of ruling and governing the universal Church, is catholic dogma, from the express definition of the Council of Florence: but that power would not be full, if it were to depend in part upon the consensus of the Cardinals. Whence entirely to be rejected is the hypothesis of any divine law which makes the consensus of the Cardinals necessary for the Pope to alienate goods of the Church.

IV. Nor can the said consensus be said to be required from legitimately prescribed consuetude. — For the supreme power of the Pope is of divine law; but there can be no prescription against divine law by any consuetude, no matter how lengthy. Wherefore even if for many centuries, or even always, the Roman Pontiffs have been accustomed not to alienate goods of the Church without the consensus of the Cardinals, yet by that custom no right has acceded to the Cardinals. Says Cardinal Petra: « If a contrary consuetude were introduced, it would not have force, because it would be to prescribe against the supreme imprescribable power of the Pope (Abbas, in c. Ex gestis, de clericis non resid., n. 4); and since the power of the pope is immediately from God and that of the Cardinals is from the Pope, the former cannot depend upon the latter, as the cited Fagnani details; although out of honor [ex honestate] the Pope is accustomed to seek the counsel of the Cardinals in difficult matters…; and the words customarily affixed in some Bulls, from the counsel of our venerable Brethren, do not induce necessity, but only honor [honestas] » (Commentaria, in Const. VI Greg. IX, n. 20). And finally, we have heard Cardinal de Luca above attesting, that the Constitution of Gregory IX which prescribed that the said consensus of the Cardinals necessarily must be used, has fallen into desuetude.

Proposition V. — The Pope does not need the consensus of the sacred college in order to augment the customary number of Cardinals. — 1° In various times decrees were made, which prescribed a sure number of Cardinals which was to be observed perpetually after. In the Council of Constance in 1414, it was prescribed that the number was never to exceed 24. And in 1431 in the Synod of Basel, sess. 23, the same was declared: Let the Cardinals not exceed the number of twenty-four. Under Paul IV, who ascended to the Supreme Pontificate in 1555, after various discussions regarding this matter between the Pontiff and cardinals, it was laid down that the number never exceed forty. But Sixtus V wished it to be fixed at seventy, and also prescribed it to be observed by his successors. Now in the Cæremoniale Romanum, lib. I, tit. 8, §1 et seq., we see that at one time there was the custom (now wholly obsolete) of seeking out the wishes of the sacred college regarding the question, whether it is necessary or expedient to create new Cardinals, and in what number. And other similar ordinances could be recalled which determine a certain number of Cardinals.

2° But it must be said that all these statutes, insofar as they restrain the liberty of future Pontiffs, are to be considered as mere counsels, not as laws inducing obligation properly so called; since, as we have shown above, it is repugnant that the Pope be able to be restrained by any ecclesiastical law of his predecessors.[1] Wherefore, even if the said ordinances required the consensus of the Cardinals, the Pope in no way is bound to obtain this. From nothing else, not by any divine law, or any proper right of the Cardinals, can it be said that the Pope is obliged not to exceed a certain number of Cardinals. Therefore the number of Cardinals to be created is entirely up to the judgment of any Roman Pontiff whosoever. This doctrine the canonists hold commonly: says Cohellius (Notitia cardinalatus, c. 3), « It is asked whether the Supreme Pontiff, notwithstanding this Constitution of Sixtus, can exceed the number seventy: and all, absolutely no one disagreeing, respond affirmatively; saying that the number of cardinals is left to the judgment of the Pope ».[2]


[1] “The bulls of the Popes to restrict the freedom of their successors seem to me to belong to the class of human weaknesses. A ridiculous presumption of wanting to reign in the grave, and to reign over those who receive the same most equal power from God!” (Tamagna, Origini e prerogative de’ cardinali della S.R.C., part. 1, p. 139).

[2] Sixtus V had decreed in this manner: If it should happen in the future that one or more be elected, or created, or pronounced a Cardinal by Us or by the Roman Pontiff reigning at the time, exceeding the said number, We decree the election, creation, and pronunciation of this sort to be null, of no effect, and void… (Bull Postquam verus).

Bouix on the pope heretic

Dominique Bouix, Tractatus de papa, ubi et de concilio oecumenico, vol. II , pars IIIa, cap. iii, p. 653ff.

N.B. With the exception of one instance, marked [Auth.], all footnotes have been inserted by the translator.

A .pdf version of this may be found here.


CHAPTER III

CONCERNING THE CASE OF A POPE HERETIC. — NEITHER IN THIS CASE IS THE POPE SUBJECTED TO THE COUNCIL.

Preliminary notes. — 1° The case of heresy regarding the supreme Pontiffs is not understood to be that in which one of them, defining ex officio some dogma of faith, would define error. In this manner, no Roman Pontiff can ever be a heretic, on account of the infallibility conceded to him teaching ex cathedra, which we have proved as certain and absolutely to be held, in the second part of the present treatise. But we speak only of the case in which a Pope, as a private doctor, were to believe and pertinaciously to propound something contrary to any evident or defined article of faith, which is proper to heresy. — 2° This case is confidently invoked by the adversaries, that is, the followers of the Gallican system, in order that they might conclude that the council is superior to the Pope. Thus, for example, they argue: the Pope, even if he cannot teach heresy ex cathedra, at least as a private doctor can become a heretic: but it is necessary that a Pope heretic be able to be deposed by a general council, and hence that the council have right over the Pope: therefore in this case, at least, the Pope is subjected to the council. The major of this syllogism, that is, that there can be a case of a Pope heretic, is denied by many catholic authors, amongst whom is Albert Pighius (Hierarchiæ ecclesiasticæ assertio, lib. IV, c. viii); whose opinion is not at all dependent upon trifling reasons, such that it prevents by itself the argumentation of the adversaries from being destructive. Now, the minor, that is, that in the case of a Pope heretic there belongs to the council a right over the Pope who here and now is Pope, is rejected as certainly erroneous in the common opinion of catholic doctors. Certainly, in the times of the council of Constance, when this question began to be agitated, and even for some time after, one can find in some authors, otherwise catholic, not a few things less considerately said; as customarily happens whenever a question recently sprung up is subjected to disputations. But afterward, all approved authors have with common opinion taught that it is certain and absolutely to be held, that in the aforesaid case (supposing that it is possible), the Pope, unless he should already have fallen from the papacy through heresy, is not subjected to the council. They differ in this, whether the Pope is ipso facto through heresy deposed [depositus], or whether he is to be deposed [deponendus], or finally whether he is neither deposed nor to be deposed [nec depositus nec deponendus]. But in this threefold opinion it is equally denied that any act of jurisdiction can be exercised by the council over the Pope. Regarding the first and third, it is clear of itself; if according to the first, the Pope is no longer Pope, and hence the council, in judging him, judges not the Pope, but an ex-Pope; and according to the third, he cannot be judged by the council, nor deposed. And according to the second opinion, he indeed can and ought to be deposed, but through a mere declaration of his heresy; which declaration is not an act of jurisdiction over the Pope; but, when it has been laid down, the Pontiff is deposed by Christ himself; just as, when he has been legitimately elected, he is created by Christ himself. These things having first been noted down, we shall first explain the various opinions of the catholic doctors, who concord in denying to the council any authority over the Pope. Then we shall confute the erroneous opinion, which subjects the Pope to the council on account of the aforesaid case of heresy.

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Denis the Carthusian: Prooemium to the Saracens

Many things indeed have engaged our attentions over the past two months, not the least being a very debilitating fever which we contracted several weeks ago. Excepting that period of illness, we have been often engaged in the work of translating various projects, Suárez’s De bello and an early Thomist work on the common good being chief among them, though there is still much work to be done with either. (In addition to that, we have also been making our way through a very lengthy fiction series with great avidity—something we have given far too little time to in recent years.) But these of course are excuses for our inactivity here more than anything else. Recently, we were reminded of a much-neglected work by Denis the Carthusian against the Saracens, entitled Contra perfidiam Mahometi libri quatuor—that is, Against the Perfidy of Mohammed, comprising four books. We read his page-long opening address to the Muslims, to whom he primarily directed the work, and, finding it to contain noble and worthy sentiments, resolved on a whim to translate it for the pleasure of our friends on social media. We now present it for your reading, in the hope that it may be the harbinger of more material from us in the near future.

(Taken from vol. 36 of the Doctoris ecstatici D. Dionysii Cartusiani opera omnia, published in 1908.)


To the great king and powerful Ruler of the Saracens, and to all doctors and followers of the law of Mahomet, a Christian religious: to know the truth of things necessary for salvation, to read and hear with equanimity writings which are reasonable, and to arrive at true beatitude.

Because we Christians, according to the doctrine and command of our Savior Jesus Christ, ought not only to love friends, but enemies also, to do good to those who hate us, and likewise to pray for persecutors and calumniators, in order that we might be adoptive sons of the almighty Father, who makes his sun to rise over the good and the bad, and makes it to rain upon the just and the unjust; hence, in truth, Christians do in spirit love the Saracens—although the latter violently oppose themselves—and daily intercede for their illumination, conversion, and salvation. Nevertheless, this love and piety of the Christians is looked upon with scorn by the Saracens, who think themselves to be wiser and happier than the Christians; still, if they should attend patiently and diligently to those things which are written in this little work, perhaps they shall suppose or think otherwise. And so, I, the least of the servants of Christ, who have heard frequently and read a little concerning the law of Mahomet, and have always grieved for those who walk by that law—when, in the same year in which I began to write these things, I had read the Koran and the Doctrine of Mahomet and certain other things concerning it, and had reread them with very great diligence, I was touched with anguish in my heart, deploring the deception and eternal damnation of such innumerable thousands of men: in particular, because the Saracens concord with us in so many things, and because of this seem to be able to be converted with sufficient ease. Hence, for the laud and glory of God, sublime and blessed, who is worshiped profitably by Christians alone, I have set it before myself to write these things for the conversion of the Saracens, by showing to them in a clearer light their errors and the falsities of the doctrines of Mahomet, and by manifesting that the writings of the Koran are rife with errors, and implying contradiction, alas! frequently.

I furthermore desire, that as much as we Christians attentively read the writings concerning the law of the Saracens, they themselves read these things with diligence, and do not pertinaciously contradict what is most clearly true. For if (as Mahomet himself declares many times) Jesus, the son of Mary, is the Christ, absolutely no doubt is left for one who understands the scriptures of the new and old Testament, that all the Saracens, and likewise the other infidels, are in a state of eternal damnation, especially since Christ himself in the Gospel says: “I am the way, the truth, and the life; no man comes to the Father except through me.” Indeed, all the Prophets have foretold and taught this, that Christ is the savior of the whole world, nor can anyone be saved unless he believe in him, so that in the time of the evangelical law, no man can please God unless he be truly Christian. Nor does faith alone suffice, but (according to the doctrine of Christ) it is necessary to serve the superglorious and incircumscribable God with all humility, patience, charity, and the other virtues. Finally, Christ says in the Gospel: “Unless a man has been reborn of water and the Holy Ghost, he cannot enter the kingdom of God.” Since therefore the Saracens were not regenerated from water and the Holy Ghost, that is, they are not baptized, it is certain that they are damned. And it suffices now to have touched upon these things, seeing that they shall be proved most clearly in what follows below.

Manualist Monday: Benedict XIV on communicatio in divinis with heretics

After a rather extended hiatus, occasioned by some personal mortifications on our part and the subsequent onset of Lent, we return with a short piece, the posting of which has been far too long delayed. This is taken from the great treatise De synodo dioecesano of Prospero Lorenzo Lambertini, better known as Pope Benedict XIV—surely one of the most learned men to have graced the Chair of Peter, certainly as regards juridical and canonical subjects. The learnéd Pontiff here presents a brief but altogether luculent and forceful account of the Church’s traditional condemnation of communication in divinis with heretics, drawing from Scripture as well as the documents, decrees, and treatises of Councils, popes, and the theologians. (N.B. We have inserted hyperlinks and a few footnotes, in order to make immediately available to the curious and Latinate reader some further readings and sources to which Benedict makes reference.)


Benedictus XIV Pont. Opt. Maximus, De synodo dioecesano lib. VI, cap. 5, in Opera omnia (ed. Prati, 1844) vol. XI, p. 157ff.

CHAPTER FIVE.

Those things which were said in the preceding chapter, are confirmed by the example of the communion of Catholics with Heretics in divinis, and so also of the Matrimony of Catholics with Heretics.

I. The degree to which the Church has abominated the fellowship of Catholics with heretics, is clearly proved from the second epistle of the Apostle John, in which, in verses 10 and 11, he admonished his disciples in this wise: If any man come to you, and bring not this doctrine, receive him not into the house nor say to him, God speed you. For he that saith unto him, God speed you, communicateth with his wicked works. And moreover, from the epistle of the Apostle Paul to Titus, chap. 3, v. 10: A man that is a heretic, after the first and second admonition, avoid. Hence the same Apostle John, in order that he might precede others by his own example, refused to wash in the same bathhouse with Cerinthus the heretic, but said to his fellows: Let us flee more swiftly, lest the bathhouse, in which is Cerinthus the adversary of truth, should topple forthwith: as Irenaeus, Jerome, and Epiphanius testify. And St. Polycarp the bishop of Smyrna, instructed by the example of his Teacher, hostile and not daring to return the salutation to Marcion, who had greeted him, said: I know the firstborn of the devil. And so tenacious was the great Anthony in the discipline of this kind, that of him Athanasius writes, in De vita Antonii, num. 68, tom. 1, part. 2. Oper. pag. 847: Never did he communicate with the Meletian schismatics, considering from the beginning their proven malice and defection. Nor did he ever exchange words amicably with the Manichæans, or with any other heretics whatsoever, except for the sake of admonishing, in order that, their opinion being changed, they might hold to the godly Faith, regarding as he did their friendship and conversations to be harmful and pernicious to the soul; and he warned others likewise. Innumerable Canons of the Church have renewed this prohibition, but most of all do they press hard lest Catholics should communicate with heretics in sacred things, or lest they should frequent the gatherings of the same. Amongst the Apostolic Canons, the Forty-Fifth, known alternately as the Thirty-Seventh, sets down: Let the Bishop, Presbyter, and Deacon who should merely pray with heretics be deprived of communion: and the Sixty-Fifth, alternately the Sixty-Fourth or Fifty-Seventh: If any cleric or lay person should enter into a synagogue of the Jews, or of heretics, in order to pray, let him be put away, and separated. The Synod of Laodicea decreed something similar in can. 9 from the version of Dionysius Exiguus, tom. 1 of Collect. Harduinus col. 781: That Ecclesiastics are not permitted at the cemeteries of heretics, or to accede to those which by them are called martyr’s graves, for the sake of prayer or service: but ones of this sort, if they should be Faithful, are to be deprived of communion for a certain time. And the Fourth Council of Carthage, canon. 72. tom. 1. of Collect. Harduinus col. 983, which council Augustine praises in a sermon to the people of Mauretania Cæsariensis, says: One must neither pray nor sing psalms with heretics. Hence Cyril of Jerusalem, in catech. IV. n. 37. in fin. bids his catechumen to despise all the assemblies of the perfidious heretics: and the same is advised by the other Fathers, whom Christianus Lupus adduces in schol. et not. ad canon. Concil. tom. 5. edition. Venet. pag. 60 et seq. Read the rest of this entry »

Victor Cathrein SJ on society, social activity, and the partition of society

We present today a rather short text on society, taken from an influential manual, the Philosophia moralis of Victor Cathrein, SJ, which went through twenty-one editions. To our knowledge, this work is an abridged Latin recension of his larger two-volume work in German, Moralphilosophie, which may be found here and here. The present translation is taken from Philosophia moralis, IIa pars, lib. II, cap. 1, a. 1-3.


BOOK II.

SOCIAL ETHICS IN PARTICULAR

426. We have hitherto considered man according to individual relations; now we shall treat of the same as a member of society. And because natural society is principally twofold, domestic and civil, we shall consider both separately in chapter 2 and 3, the general notions about society having been set forth in chapter 1. In chapter 4, finally, we shall set down the question concerning the relations of diverse civil societies among themselves, that is, of international law.

CHAPTER I.

ON SOCIETY IN GENERAL.

ARTICLE I.

WHAT IT IS.

(Zallinger, Institut. nat. n. 166. Meyer, Institut. iuris nat. I, n. 347.)

427. 1. A society is a moral and stable union of many, working in harmony by their acts toward some common end.

It is called a) a moral union, i.e. of that sort which is effected by spiritual bonds, from which hence there is excluded not only the aggregation of irrational beings, as a crowd of apes, but also a multitude of men brought together into one place and not united except by an external bond, e.g. a multitude of men congregated for market day. For a true society it is required, that its members know the common end, and are secured by mutual duties and rights in an order for willing this end, and, with united powers, attaining it.

b) stable, because a transitory union which is for a momentary end, or which is to be dissolved, its singular endeavor having been completed, is not properly called a society.

428. 2. From these things, it is clear that the material element of society is the multitude, but the formal element is the moral union itself. This moral union is effected by a twofold principle:

a) a common end, which specifies the society and of itself is already capable of effecting, to a certain degree, unity of minds and wills. Nevertheless, for a constant and ordered union in cooperating, taking into account the liberty of men and the diversity of judgments and powers, of itself a common end alone does not suffice, but there is required in addition

b) some element in the real order, which primarily consists in a mutual obligation in respect of the same end. There is further required some principle, which constantly and efficaciously directs free will to the common end, namely authority, which is a necessary element of society and may be defined: the right of obliging members of society, so that they might cooperate by their acts for the common good.

In any society, authority, as the principle of social union, cannot but be one, and ought to inhere in some real subject, and indeed by exclusive right. This subject is called a superior. By reason of social union, society brings forth the similitude of a person, or it institutes a new person—not indeed physical, but moral—which has its own being and activity proper to itself. Read the rest of this entry »

Manualist Monday: Cardinal Billot on the baptism of children, and ecclesiastical jurisdiction over the baptized

Having returned from our holiday “break”, we present for this Manualist Monday another text on baptism, from the esteemed traditional Jesuit theologian Louis Cardinal Billot’s commentary on the Tertia Pars of St. Thomas. This excerpt, consisting of the two Theses concerning pædobaptism, deals directly with the topic of ecclesial jurisdiction over all the baptized, hence our interest in it. We think it good for the reader to pay special attention to the very important argument that the Cardinal makes in footnote 6, regarding the causal rôle played by human consent in the reception of baptism and the sacramental character thereof.


Card. Louis Billot, De Ecclesiae sacramentis vol. 1, In IIIam, Q. 68, Theses XXVII-XXVIII, pp. 267ff.

THESIS XVII.

(Art. 9).

The children of the faithful are to be baptized. But those baptized in infancy, when they shall have come to the age of discretion, do not have the right of ratifying by their own decision that which the patrons promised in their name, but, whether they wish it or not, they remain perpetually bound by all the obligations of Christians.

Concerning the baptism of infants, the Anabaptists have erred most of all, who, led by Muncer (in 1522) began to teach that no one is rightly baptized unless of adult age, and thus not only did they abstain from baptizing children, but they even rebaptized those who had been baptized as children, whence they claimed the name of Anabaptists for themselves. These ones, amongst all the initiators of the Pseudo-Reformation, stand out for their truculent fierceness; undaunted, they have with implacable logic taken the principles of Protestantism to their ultimate conclusions; and in them, finally, as Bellarmine notes,[1] there appears the greatest rage of Satan against the human race, who, not being content that innumerable souls of adult men have perished through the Lutherans and the Sacramentarians, wished also that the souls of infants should perish through the Anabaptists. But Erasmus, the guide and teacher of all the liberals of our age, inasmuch as he was imbued with the principles of the Protestants wherever, introduced another error. For he taught, that men baptized in infancy, when they had reached manhood, should be asked whether they would ratify what had been promised in their name in baptism; and if they should refuse, they ought to be dismissed free, and not be subjected in any way to the coercion of the Church. Against all of these errors, there advance the Tridentine anathemas, sess. VII, can. 11-14 on baptism: «If anyone should say, that no one is to be baptized, save at that age at which Christ was baptized, or in the very article of death, let him be anathema. — If anyone should say, that little children, having received baptism, for that they have not the act of believing, are not to be accounted amongst the faithful, and furthermore, when they shall arrive at the years of discretion, are to be rebaptized, or that it is preferable that the baptism of such be omitted than that they, not believing by their own act, be baptized in the faith alone of the Church, let him be anathema.» Cf. also the Second Council of Malta, can. 2,[2] and the Fourth Lateran Council, cap. Firmiter.[3]

Moreover, if we speak at present of the children of believers, the reason is not that others are excluded, but that a special question will be considered concerning these others, as has been premised above. Read the rest of this entry »

Fr. Salaverri on the Church as a perfect and independent society

We must apologize to any readers who might have been disappointed by the lack of a Manualist Monday this week. We are at present still attempting to get into a regular schedule of posting for this blog: the original intention had been to post several times a week, every two or three days, but life and laziness have proven this to be impracticable. We think posting at least once a week is more practical at this immediate point in time, given that we are working simultaneously on two long-term projects which we shall not be posting here for quite some time yet. One is a translation of Francisco Suárez’s De bello in full, the thirteenth disputation of his treatise De caritate, which project has proved more arduous than expected due to its length and the many passing references to the Corpus iuris canonici that the Doctor eximius makes, which we feel obliged to track down and cite in footnotes; the other, which has been hinted at very obliquely by a good friend of this blog, is considerably longer and is in fact nothing less than the translation of an entire volume. We feel considerable excitement concerning this latter project, but it shall remain close to the vest for the time being.

The text offered for today, which was to be the Manualist Monday post, is again from the eminent Fr. Salaverri’s manual De Ecclesia Christi. (We did mention, after all, that we consult this manual often, andt consider it to be among the best of those treating of dogmatic theology.) This excerpt treats of the Church as a perfect and independent society, a thesis which is of considerable importance as regards the constitution of the Church, her rights and prerogatives, and her relations to other societies. Fr. Salaverri’s treatment, while not the most in-depth discussion of this matter by any means (the second project which we have mentioned contains such a one, though), yet is excellent for its systematic and concise character, and helps to familiarize one with the basic ideas.


Ioachim Salaverri, De Ecclesia Christi, lib. III, cap. 1, a. 2, thes. 23. Ecclesia est societas perfecta et absolute independens, cum plena potestate legislativa, iudiciaria, et coercitiva. In Sacræ Theologiæ Summa (3rd ed., 1955) vol. I, nn. 935-940, pp. 826-838.

ARTICLE II.

THE PERFECTION AND ABSOLUTE INDEPENDENCE OF THE CHURCH

 

Thesis 23. The Church is a perfect and absolutely independent society, with full legislative, judiciary, and coercive power.

936. St. Thomas, Summa theologiæ IaIIæ, q. 90, a. 3 ad 3; De regimine principum, lib. I, cap. 1; Suárez, Defensio fidei lib. III, cap. 5-9;[1] Muncunill, n. 309-418; Bainvel, 99, 127; De Groot, 131, 389; Dorsch, 242, 519; Ottiger, 50, 227; Straub, nn. 613, 1074;[2] Billot, th. 20;[3] Pesch, Comp. I, 233;[4] Schultes, 260, 333;[5] Palmieri, 113;[6] D’Herbigny, n. 75; G. Martínez, Credo Sanctam Ecclesiam Catholicam (1954). Cf. J. Salaverri, El Derecho Público Eclesiástico en la Semana de Teologia: Estudios Eclesiásticos 29 (1955) 54-64.

937. Nexus. We have proved that Christ instituted the Church as a true society, whose end is the supernatural salvation of men. But since from the end of a society there is immediately drawn its social perfection, thus we now ask, whether the Church, relative to civil society, is or is not perfect and independent, and endowed with the threefold power proper to a perfect society.

938. Notions.[7] A SOCIETY is the moral and stable conjunction of many acting in accord toward a common end.

1) A PERFECT SOCIETY is that which has as its end the good of men which is full and supreme in its order, and possesses the sufficient means, either in reality or by right, for obtaining its end: the Church and the State are perfect societies.

An imperfect society is that which, by reason of its end, either is a part of another society, or is subordinate to another, and by reason of means, depends upon another society which furnishes to it the means sufficient for its end: the Province, the Diocese, the religious Order, and the Family are imperfect societies.

A complete society is that which directly procures the adequate good for man both of the body and of the soul. It will be incomplete if it directly intends only the spiritual or the temporal good. The family is a complete society; the Church is an incomplete society. Read the rest of this entry »

Fr. Salaverri on whether heretics, apostates, schismatics, and excommunicates are members of the Church

The following text is from the well-respected and voluminous manual of dogmatic theology, Sacræ Theologiæ Summa (which has been translated in full by Fr. Kenneth Baker SJ, though it seems available only through some obscure sellers; we cannot decide whether we want the English set or not). It was put together and published at the start of the 1950s for Biblioteca Autores Cristianos by the Patres Societatis Iesu, Facultatum Theologicarum in Hispania professores, Scholastic Jesuit professors of theology in Spain. (These Patres nobilissimi atque doctissimi have in fact released several splendid such sets via BAC, including one Philosophiæ Scholasticæ Summa, which we have consulted with great profit.) It is certainly the manual that we consult the most on dogmatic questions, and in order to discover where certain great Scholastics and Fathers have treated on matters of dogmatic interest. In particular, we have dipped into Fr. Ioachim Salaverri’s De Ecclesia Christi, a treatise which helped earn him high praise from Msgr. Clifford Fenton in a March 1953 article of the American Ecclesiastical Review. (Fenton asserted that Salaverri “holds very much the same position in the theological world of the mid-twentieth century that Cardinal Billot occupied in that of fifty years ago.”)

Though the footnotes for this particular excerpt are already quite dense and informative, we hope to extend their usefulness even more for the curious and Latinate, by adding as many links to the works cited in there as we can find online (which is indeed a considerable number). Since we are at the time of posting strapped for time, we shall do this later this evening.


Ioachim Salaverri, De Ecclesia Christi lib. III, cap. 2, a. 3. Causæ quæ baptizatum ab Ecclesiæ corpore separant. Thesis 26, nos. 1045-1067. In Sacræ Theologiæ Summa vol. I, tract. 3, pp. 872-882.

ARTICLE III

CAUSES WHICH SEPARATE A BAPTIZED PERSON FROM THE BODY OF THE CHURCH

Thesis 26. The heretic, apostate, and schismatic are ipso facto separated from the body of the Church; but the excommunicate is separated by the legitimate authority.

1045. St. Rob. Bellarmine, De ecclesia militante lib. 3, c. 4-6;[1] Franzelin, th. 22-23;[2] Wilmers, th. 111-114; De San, n. 338-344, 360-374; Straub, th. 33-34; Muncunill, n. 637-653; Billot, th. 11-12;[3] D’Herbigny, th. 32; Dieckmann, n. 960-961; Dorsch, p. 488-499;[4] De Guibert, th. 21; S. Fraghi, De membris Ecclesiæ (1937);[5] Stolz, p. 27-34; Vellico, th. 14; Journet, vol. II, p. 1056-1081; Sauras, El Cuerpo mistico p. 616-631; Zapalena, vol. II (1954) 389-397; K. Rahner, Die Zugehörigkeit zur Kirche nach der Encycl. «Mystici Corporis»: Zeitschrift für katholische Theologie 69 (1947) 129-188.

1046. Nexus. In the preceding thesis, we have seen that Baptism constitutes one a member of the Church. But now, Baptism impresses upon the soul an indelible character, nor can it be repeated; whence it is asked, whether the nature of “member of the Church” is also incapable of being lost, or whether some causes are given by which the baptized might be able to be separated from the body of the Church. This thesis responds to that question.

1047. Notions. The notion of member has been explicated in the preceding thesis.

A heretic is one who, after Baptism has been received, pertinaciously denies some of the truths to be believed with divine and catholic faith, or entertains doubts concerning them.

One is called an apostate who, after Baptism has been received, pertinaciously recedes totally from the Christian faith.[6] The same divisions which follow concerning the heretic are entirely valid for the apostate.

A material heretic is one who indeed denies a truth to be believed with divine and catholic faith, but from invincible ignorance or from error accepted in good faith. Good faith in one who errs is the prudent judgment by which the errant one thinks himself not to err, but on the contrary, to adhere to the truth. A formal heretic is one who denies a truth to be believed, out of vincible ignorance or from error accepted in bad or doubtful faith.

A manifest heretic is one whose error or doubt in faith cannot be concealed by hiding. But an occult heretic is one whose error or doubt in faith remains sufficiently concealed.

A public heretic is one who openly adheres to one of the heretical sects. But a private heretic is one who openly adheres to none of the heretical sects.

The same divisions and definitions can be made concerning the apostate.

1048. A schismatic is one who, after Baptism has been received, refuses to be subject to the Roman Pontiff or declines to commune with the members of the Church subject to him.[7] A schismatic can also be material or formal, occult or manifest, private or public. The same definitions of the varieties of this sort which we recently gave concerning heretics can also be applied to the concept of the schismatic.

1049. Excommunication is a censure or penalty by which a baptized person who is delinquent and contumacious is excluded from the communion of the faithful, until, receding from his contumacy, he should be absolved. It can be called formal, which pertains to a man in fact delinquent and contumacious. But it can be called merely material, which is brought to bear upon a subject who through invincible error is considered delinquent and contumacious, though in fact he is not such. It can be total or partial inasmuch as it excludes the excommunicate from the communion of the faithful in all, or only in some goods which fall under the Church’s jurisdiction. But internal supernatural goods, such as sanctifying grace and the infused virtues, are not lost by means of the censure itself. The excommunicate is called vitandus (to be avoided) who has been excluded by name by the Apostolic See from the communion of the faithful, and either by right itself or by a public decree or sentence has by name been denounced as vitandus.[8]

We call perfect excommunication that by which the Apostolic See properly intends to separate a delinquent and contumacious man from the very body of the Church. Therefore, besides the privation of spiritual goods which fall under the jurisdiction of the Church, perfect excommunication implies, as its proper and characteristic aspect, this manifest intention of separating from the body of the Church. But because the prevailing intention of the Church is “to induce excommunication unto a cure and not unto ruin,”[9] thus, if through contrition the excommunicate should return to grace and charity, ipso facto his excommunication ceases to be perfect, although juridically he in fact remains an excommunicate vitandus, nor may he licitly participate in the communion of the faithful until he is absolved.[10]

1050. We have deliberately said that heretics, apostates, schismatics, and excommunicates of this sort are separated from union with the Church; by which we wish to signify, that heresy, apostasy, schism, and excommunication are as obstacles merely impeding union. For this reason, these obstacles having been removed, Baptism, by means of the efficacy which it enjoys for incorporating men to the Church, itself suffices for again restoring union.

1051. Adversaries. In particular, all schismatics and Protestants who adhere to the theory of the three branches of the Church, or who argue for the doctrines proper to Panchristians, deny that heretics and schismatics are excluded from the Body of the Church. For they recognize the supreme necessity of Baptism; but in what remains, they hold that no conditions for pertaining to the Church ought to be established by which there might in any way be impeded the just liberty and equal right of Churches which rightly call themselves Christian: “The Church is one,” writes Zankow, “and comprehends all who have been baptized in Christ; in truth, the hedges of the Churches shall not reach heaven.”[11] The Irenists agree, whose opinion we have explained in n. 1007.

1052. Opinions of the Theologians. About the particular points and ulterior questions which occur in this matter relative to the separation of the baptized from the Church, Catholic theologians put forth various opinions, the chief of which, for the sake of information, we review.

1) That formal and manifest heretics are not members of the body of the Church, can well be said to be a unanimous opinion among Catholics.

a) That formal, but occult, heretics are not members of the Church, is defended by some authors, such as Suárez, Molina, Billuart, Franzelin, Michelitsch, Stolz, Fraghi, Journet, Zapalena, and a few others. But the contrary opinion is more common.[12]

b) That merely material heretics, even if manifest, are members of the Church, is argued by Franzelin, De Groot, D’Herbigny, Caperan, Terrien, and a few others. But the contrary opinion is more common.[13]

1053. 2) That formal and manifest schismatics are not members of the Church, is an opinion nearly unanimous among Catholics.[14]

a) That formal but occult schismatics are members of the Church, is commonly conceded by Catholic authors.

b) That merely material and manifest schismatics are members of the Church, is held by authors who defend the same concerning merely material and manifest heretics.

1054. 3) That those who have been excommunicated by the Church with perfect excommunication are not members of the body of the Church, is the common opinion among Catholics.

a) That the Church indeed wishes to punish by excommunication delinquent members, but nevertheless does not de facto intend to separate the excommunicates from the body of the Church, although she declares them to be avoided, is held by D’Herbigny, Dieckmann, Spacil, and Sauras, with Báñez, Valentia, Suárez, and Guarnieri.[15]

b) That those excommunicated with partial excommunication are members of the Church, is the common opinion among the theologians who also commonly hold that merely material and occult heretics are members of the Church.

1055. State of the question. We are treating of the Church in the strict sense, that is, concerning that which has been instituted by Christ and inasmuch as it is such, and concerning those who, not merely putatively, nor only in desire, but in fact have at one time been constituted members of the Church through Baptism. We divide the thesis into two parts. In the first we say: heretics, apostates, and schismatics formally and manifestly such are ipso facto separated from the Church. In the second part we hold: those excommunicated by total, formal, and perfect excommunication, or legitimately promulgated with this intent, are also separated from the body of the Church.

We abstract therefore from the ulterior questions which are disputed amongst Catholic authors, concerning merely material or occult heretics, apostates, and schismatics; we do not deny them to be members of the Church who have been punished only by material, partial, or imperfect excommunication.

1056. The doctrine of the Church. The first part is implicitly defined in the Council of Florence’s decree for the Jacobites: D 714. But concerning heretics and apostates, we deduce our teaching also from the formula of faith “Clemens Trinitas”, from can. 23 of the Second Lateran Council, and from the Bull Ineffabilis Deus of Pius IX: D 18 367 1641.

The second part, in which we hold that those excommunicated by perfect excommunication, which the Supreme Pontiff can determine, are separated from the body of the Church, is taught as Catholic doctrine by Pius XII in the encyclical Mystici corporis: AAS 35 (1943) 202ff.

1057. This whole thesis of ours is clearly taught by Pius XII and the Catechism of the Council of Trent.[16]

Pius XII writes: “But in truth, only those are to be numbered amongst the members of the Church who have received the laver of regeneration and profess the true faith, who have not miserably separated themselves from the community of the Church or through most grave crimes been separated by the legitimate authority…For this reason, those who are divided from one another in faith or government are unable to live in the one Body of this sort and in its divine Spirit…Nor should it be thought that the Body of the Church, because it is insigned with the name of Christ, consists, even in this time of terrestrial pilgrimage, only of members outstanding in sanctity, or that it is constituted only of the company of those who are predestined by God to sempiternal felicity…Indeed not every crime, even if a grave wickedness, is of such kind that of its very nature it separates man from the Body of the Church—as do schism, heresy, or apostasy.”

In the Catechism of the Council of Trent we read:

“Only three sorts of men are excluded from the Church: firstly, infidels, then heretics and schismatics, and finally excommunicates: pagans indeed, because they have never been in the Church, nor ever known it, nor been made partakers of any Sacrament in the society of the Christian people; heretics and schismatics, because they have revolted from the Church, for they no more pertain to the Church, than do deserters to the army from which they have defected: yet it must not be denied that they are in the power of the Church, as ones who may be called to judgment by her, punished, and condemned by anathema. Finally also excommunicates, because by the judgment of the Church have they been excluded from her, and do not belong to her communion until they come to their senses. But concerning other men, though they be wicked and criminal, it is not to be doubted that they yet persevere in the Church.”

1058. Dogmatic value. The first part, concerning heretics, apostates, and schismatics, is implicitly defined, particularly in the Council of Florence: D 714. The second part, on excommunicates by perfect excommunication, is Catholic doctrine, especially from the words of the encyclical of Pius XII, Mystici corporis Christi, recently cited by us above.

1059. The first part is proved. Heretics, apostates, and schismatics are not members of the Church.

It is proved by a common argument. Those baptized persons who formally and manifestly have severed the social bond of faith or of government established by Christ as essential in his Church are not members in reality of the body of the visible Church. But formal and manifest heretics, apostates, or schismatics formally and manifestly have severed the social bond of faith or of government established by Christ as essential in his Church. Therefore formal and manifest heretics, apostates, and schismatics are not members in reality of the Body of the visible Church.

For the major. a) The social bond of faith and of government is established as essential in his Church, because it is necessarily included in the powers of teaching and of governing which Christ placed as essential in the Church, as has been proved in thesis 3.

For the major. b) They are not members in reality of the Body of the visible Church who have formally and manifestly severed the essential social bond, because from the very nature of a society of men qua society, they cease to be members of its body who formally and manifestly break some essential social bond.

For the minor. That formal and manifest heretics, apostates, and schismatics formally and manifestly have severed the essential social bond of the Church’s faith or government, is clear from the notions themselves. Thus they are not of the Church, which is the congregation of the faithful, because schismatics are not congregated and heretics are not faithful.

1060. The same doctrine is confirmed by the authority of testimonies of the holy Fathers.

a) On heretics. Tertullian: “If they are heretics, they cannot be Christians” (R 298). St. Hilary: “I am a Catholic; I do not wish to be a heretic. I am a Christian, not an Arian.” St. Jerome: “Heretics pass judgment upon themselves, receding from the Church of their own will.” St. Augustine: “Sever yourselves from the members of the Church, sever yourselves from its Body. But what still might I say, in order that they might segregate themselves from the Church, since they have already done this? For they are heretics; they are already without.” The controversy on the rebaptizing of heretics, which was agitated thence from the middle of the third century, supposed as recognized by all that heretics are outside of the Church.[17]

b) On schismatics. Cyprian: “But what pertains to the person of Novatian…you know that we in the first place ought not to be inquisitive of what he taught, since he taught from without. Whosoever he is and of whatever condition, he is not a Christian who is not in the Church of Christ…he who neither held fast to fraternal charity nor ecclesiastical unity, has lost even that which he was previously.” St. Jerome: “Between heresy and schism, we think there to be this difference, that heresy imports perverse dogma; schism, on account of episcopal dissension, separates from the Church…moreover, no schism does not fabricate for itself a heresy, so that it might seem to have receded from the Church rightly.” St. Augustine: “Heretics and schismatics call their congregations churches. But heretics, thinking falsely about God, violate the faith itself; but schismatics burst free of fraternal charity through hostile divisions, although they believe those things which we believe. For this reason, heretics do not belong to the Catholic Church, because she loves God, nor schismatics, because she loves the neighbor” (R 1562). St. Fulgentius: “Most firmly hold and doubt not at all, that every one baptized outside of the Catholic Church is unable to become a partaker of eternal life, if before the end of this life he has not returned and been incorporated to the Catholic Church. Most steadily and in no way doubt, that not only all pagans, but also all Jews and all heretics and schismatics, who finish this present life outside of the Catholic Church, are to enter into the eternal fire” (R 2274-5). Pelagius I: “Pollute not a mind ever Catholic by any communion of schismatics. It is clear that the Body of Christ is one, the Church is one…our Savior taught: a vine separated from the grapevine cannot be good for anything, but fire for burning…Do not think that they either are or can be called the Church. And indeed since, as we have said, the Church is one…it is clear that there is no other but that which is founded in the apostolic root.”[18]

1061. Reason urges the same doctrine; for if formal and manifest heretics and schismatics were members of the Body of the Church, it would detract from the visible unity and unicity of the Church; which is repugnant. The Church is the congregation of the faithful: schismatics cease to be congregated, heretics cease to be faithful.

1062. The second part is proved. Excommunicates by perfect excommunication are not members of the Body of the Church.

a) De iure. The right is for the Church of making it so that those excommunicated by perfect excommunication be no longer members of the Church’s Body. We deduce this from Matt 18:15-18. For it is clear from the immediate context, that in this place it is chiefly concerned with the correction of delinquent faithful, and with the faculty given to the Church of separating the contumacious from the ecclesiastical community through judicial sentence.[19] Wherefore I argue thus: in Matt 18:18, by the power of binding and solving, there is given to the Church the right of separating contumacious sinners from the ecclesiastical community through judicial sentence, by force of which they become as heathens and publicans. But a separation of this sort is perfect excommunication, by which it happens that contumacious sinners no longer are members of the Church’s Body. Therefore the right is for the Church of making it so that those excommunicated by perfect excommunication are no longer members of the Church’s Body. The major is drawn from the analysis of the text of Matt 18:18 in the context of the verses of Matt 18:15-17. The minor is clear, because if by excommunication it happens that sinners become as heathens and publicans, therefore in other words it happens that the same are no longer members of the Church’s Body.

The same teaching is confirmed as it were a priori. For to the Church, which is a true and proper society of men, the right cannot be denied which belongs to every society of men, namely the right of completely ejecting delinquents from the social Body who pose grave harm to the common good of the citizens. But this is the right of excommunicating them by perfect excommunication, by which the Church determines to separate delinquents from her Body.

1063. b) De facto. Perfect excommunication de facto will be that in the decree of which it is manifestly clear, that the Church indeed intends to separate the excommunicate from her Body. For as St. Thomas says, “Excommunication is a certain punishment and medicinal remedy.”[20] But now, insofar as it is a punishment, it supposes a true moral bond subsisting between the Church and the delinquent; but insofar as it is medicinal, it does not properly intend death, but rather the healing of the delinquent. Every excommunication, according to the law presently established (cf. CIC 2257ff, 2241), takes on this character of medicinal punishment. Indeed it is certain, that any excommunication deprives the delinquent of spiritual goods of the Church, and obliges his soul not only externally, but also internally (D 763, 1546). Nevertheless, because “the Church introduces excommunication for healing and not for destruction,”[21] thus it is not the case that every excommunication of its very nature separates from the Body of the Church. But it can separate de facto by the intention of the Church, according to the right which we have proved belongs to her for doing this.

Therefore de facto it is properly to be seen, whether by excommunication the Church intends to cast out the sinner from her Body, or only either to heal him as one who is sick, or to punish him as a delinquent, so that he might recede from his contumacy. It should be said that perfect excommunication is determined de facto, since from its decree it is manifestly clear, that the Church in fact intends to separate the excommunicate from her Body.

De facto, this intention of the Church of separating the excommunicate from her Body has often been recognized, as the testimonies which follow prove.

St. Cyprian: “By the spiritual sword are the proud and contumacious made to perish, when they are cast out of the Church. For they cannot live without, since the House of God is one, and no one can be saved except in the Church.” Origen: “Not only through his Apostles has God handed the delinquent into the hands of enemies; but also through those who rule over the Church, and have the power not only of loosing, but also of binding, are sinners given over to the destruction of the flesh, when for their offenses they are separated from the Body of Christ…and are driven out of the Church by the Priests.” St. Ambrose: “And thus the good Teacher…comes with a rod, because he removes the guilty one from the sacred communion. And well is he said to be given up to Satan, who is separated from the Body of Christ…For it is necessary also to sequester one gravely lapsed, lest a little leaven corrupt the whole loaf.” St. Gregory: “Let there be nothing common for you with him, but he is to be segregated in all things from your fellowship and communion. For…better it is to cast out from the Lord’s flock the diseased sheep, than by the sickness of one to lose those who are healthy.”[22]

1064. De facto this same intention of separating the excommunicate from the Body of the Church seems to be included in the formulas of the most notable excommunications.

First Council of Orange, AD 441: “Mode and form of excommunication…We, by the authority of God and by the judgment of the Holy Ghost, do thrust out violators of the Churches of God from the bosom of the Holy Church, and from the consortium of all Christianity, until they should come to their senses, and make satisfaction to the Church of God.” St. Gregory VII: “We have excommunicated Stephan, invader of the Church and simoniac…and have separated him from the bosom of the Holy Church.” “Silvio, Duke, and the people of Venice…you are become outside the consortium of the members of Christ and of the Church, pursuing and receiving those who for their offenses have been excommunicated.” Pontificale Romanum: the words having been cited of Matt 18:8, 1 Cor 5:11-13, and 2 John 10ff, it proceeds: “Carrying out the Lord’s commands, and thus also the apostolical, by the sword of excommunication do we separate from the Body of the Church the putrid and irremediable member, which accepts not medicine, lest by so pestiferous a sickness, the remaining members of the Body should be infected as by a poison…Therefore, by the judgment of God the omnipotent Father, and Son, and Holy Ghost, and of blessed Peter Prince of the Apostles, and of all the Saints, and of Our own mediocrity, by the authority and power of binding and loosing in heaven and on earth divinely committed to Us, We do separate him, with all his confederates and supporters, from the reception of the Lord’s precious Body and Blood, and from the society of all Christians, and We exclude him from the limits of holy mother Church in heaven and on earth, and declare him excommunicate and anathema; and We judge him damned, with the devil and his angels, and all the reprobate, into eternal fire; until he should come forth from the snares of the devil, and return for amendment and penitence, and should make satisfaction to the Church of God which he has wounded; delivering him to Satan for the destruction of the flesh, that the spirit may be saved in the day of judgment (1 Cor 5:5).”[23]

The explicit decrees of the Supreme Pontiff in which there occurs excommunication by name. Pius X: “The above-named Priests…by the authority of the omnipotent God do We excommunicate and anathematize, and we command and solemnly declare them to be separated from the communion of the Church, to be considered entirely schismatic, and to be avoided by all Catholics.” Under Pius XI, the Sacred Congregation of the Holy Office, “by express mandate of Our Most Holy Lord Pius XI, Pope by the providence of God, solemnly declares and proclaims, that the above-named Priests…are sentenced by name and personally with excommunication, they are cast out of the bosom of the Church entirely, are punished with all the penalties of the publicly excommunicate, are to be avoided, and ought to be shunned by all the faithful.”[24]

1065. Scholion. The nature of subject differs from the nature of member of the Church.

A baptized person remains always a subject of the Church, according to the edict of CIC 87, as is concluded from the doctrine of St. Thomas: “Because the baptismal character, by which one is added to the people of God, is indelible; thus the baptized always in a certain way remains of the Church; and thus the Church can always judge of him.”[25] Nevertheless a baptized person cannot simply be called a member of the Body of the Church who is a heretic or apostate or schismatic or excommunicate, just as has been proved in the thesis. For this reason, the notion of subject of the Church differs from the notion of member of the Body of the Church; and thus rightly it can be concluded with Eriberto, bishop of Reggio Emilia-Guastalla in the eleventh century: “One Body indeed is the entire holy universal Church, constituted under Christ Jesus, namely her head…and just as the soul which vivifies the diverse members of the body is one, so does one Holy Spirit invigorate and illuminate the whole Church at once…The heretic does not live according to this Spirit, nor the schismatic, nor the excommunicate; for they are not of the Body. But the Church has the vivifying Spirit, because she adheres inseparably to her Head, Christ.”[26]

1066. Objections. 1. All heretics, schismatics, and excommunicates are always subject to the judgment of the Church (CIC 87). But those only are subject to the judgment of the Church who are within the Church (D 895). Therefore all heretics, schismatics, and excommunicates are members of the Church.

I distinguish the major. They thus are subject to the judgment of the Church because they always remain subjects of the Church, I concede the major; thus because they are members of the Church, I deny the major. I contradistinguish the minor. Those only are subject to the judgment of the Church who are the Church’s subjects, I concede the minor; only those who are members of the Church, I deny the minor. For all who are members of the Church, are also subjects of the same Church; but not all subjects of the Church are by that very fact members of her.

2. From Matt 13:24-30 with Matt 13:36-41; from 2 Tim 2:20; from 1 Cor 3:11-17; from 1 Cor 15:12, and other places of Scripture, there are some who, resting on the interpretations of some of the holy Fathers, attempt to infer that heretics and schismatics, according to these testimonies of Scripture, are members of the Church.

Yet from the obvious sense of the texts and the contexts, in the cited places, either it does not concern formal and manifest heretics, or it is not asserted that they are precisely members of the Church, as the notion of member differs from the notion of subject of the Church, or the discussion is not about the Church in the strict sense insofar as it is a visible social Body.

1067. 3. At least during the so-called Western Schism (1378-1417), there were factions or schismatic sects, many of which yet belonged to the same Church of Christ. Therefore schism does not ipso facto separate from the Body of the Church.

I respond. I deny the supposition, namely, that there was a schism separating from the Body of the Church. For during those disputes, in which all attempted to detect who in fact was the legitimate successor of St. Peter, so that all might give to him due obedience, there was not formal schism, that is, emanating from a spirit of secession, no indeed, neither was there material schism properly called, as we explain more in the Scholion to Thesis 31, nn. 1278-1283.

4. A formal and manifest schismatic, who is not formally a heretic, can be united to Christ by faith, in unformed (dead) faith, sorrow of attrition, and initial love. But by these supernatural principles is man actually united to the mystical Body of Christ. Therefore a formal and manifest schismatic is not ipso facto separated from the Body of the Church.

I concede the major. I distinguish the minor. A man, in whom there is not any rupture from the three essential bonds of faith, government, and communion of sacred things, by which members as such are united to the Head in the mystical Body—such a man is united to the mystical Body of Christ by such supernatural principles, I concede. A man in whom there is some rupture from the three essential bonds by which members as such are united in the mystical Body, I deny. And under these distinctions, the consequent and consequence are denied.

5. Even an excommunicate vitandus (to be avoided), who is not formally a heretic or a schismatic, can still be perfectly united to Christ by grace and charity.[27] But the baptized one who is still perfectly united to Christ by grace and charity, is a member in act of the mystical Body, that is, the Church. Therefore even an excommunicate vitandus is not in fact separated from the Body of the Church.

I distinguish the major. An excommunicate by partial, or merely material, or imperfect excommunication, can be perfectly united to Christ by grace and charity, I concede; by total, formal, and perfect excommunication, I deny. The minor having been conceded, the consequent can equally be distinguished, and the consequence denied.


[1] Opera omnia (ed. Tri-Adelphorum, 1614), vol. II, coll. 110-118; Opera omnia (ed. Napoli, 1837) vol. II, pp. 76-81.

[2] Theses de Ecclesia Christi (op. posthumous, 1887), pp. 379-423.

[3] Tractatus de Ecclesia Christi (3rd ed., 1909) vol. I, pp. 291-311.

[4] Institutiones theologiæ fundamentalis (2nd ed., 1928), IIa pars, sect. 2, cap. ii, art. 2, §§3-4.

[5] Dissertatio ad lauream in facultate S. Theologiæ apud Pontificium Institutum “Angelicum” de Urbe.

[6] St. Thomas, Summa theologiæ IIaIIæ, q. 11, a. 2, ad 3; CIC 1325 §2.

[7] Summa theologiæ IIaIIæ, q. 39, a. 1; CIC 1325 §2.

[8] CIC 2241; 2257; 2258; 2343 §1 no. 1; St. Thomas, In IV Sent., dist. 18, q. 2; Suárez, De censuris in communi, disp. 8, sect. I, n. 177: Opera omnia (ed. Vivès) vol. 23, pp. 250-253.

[9] St. Thomas, Suppl. Q. 23, a. 1; In IV Sent., dist. 18, q. 2, a. 4, sol. 1.

[10] According to St. Thomas, that is called a minor excommunication by which the faithful “are separated only from the participation in the sacraments”; but that is called major excommunication by which the baptized are separated “both from the participation in the sacraments and from the communion of the faithful”: In IV Sent., dist. 18, q. 2, a. 1, sol. 1.

[11] S. Zankow, Das Orthodoxe Christentum 75ff: This dictum, “Die Scheidewände unter den Kirchen reichen nicht bis zum Himmel hinauf,” he attributes to the theologian and Moscow Metropolitan Philareto. Cf. F. Heiler, Urkirche und Ostkirche 227. Cf. Etudes oecuméniques, Désordre de l’homme et dessein de Dieu v. 1-5 (1949). Concerning Panchristians, see below, n. 1126ff.

[12] Those who exclude occult heretics from the Church: Ioannes de Turrecremata (Juan de Torquemada), Summa de Ecclesia, lib. 4, pars 2 c. 18, IIIa via; Francisco Suárez, De fide disp. 9, sect. I, nn. 5, 13, 18 (Opera, vol. 12, pp. 246, 248-249, 250-251); Luis Molina, Concordia (Ed. crit., Oniæ-Matriti, 1953), p. 3, q. 14, a. 13, disp. 46, n. 18, pp. 283-284; Charles-René Billuart, Summa sancti Thomæ (ed. Palmé, nova editio), vol. III, diss. 3, a. 2, §IV, pp. 299-301; Johann Baptist Franzelin, Theses de Ecclesia Christi, th. 23, pp. 402-423; A. Michelitsch, §202; S. Fraghi, De membris Ecclesiæ, 90; A. Stolz, 32; Journet, vol. II, 1064; Zapalena, vol. II, 389.

Those who include occult heretics in the Church: Melchior Cano, De locis theologicis, lib. 4, c. 6, ad 12 (Migne, Theologiæ cursus completus vol. I, coll. 261-268); Bellarmine, De ecclesia militante lib. 3, c. 10; Camillo Mazzella, Prælectiones scholastico-dogmaticæ de religione et Ecclesia, n. 604ff (6th ed., Prati 1905) pp. 470-472; Domenico Palmieri, Tractatus de Romano Pontifice cum prolegomeno de Ecclesia (3rd ed., Prati 1902), prol. §11, pp. 45-48; Van Laak, 190; De San, n. 355-358; Wilmers, n. 399; Pesch, Prælectiones dogmaticæ I, n. 329; Tanquerey, Synopsis theologiæ dogmaticæ (18th ed., Desclée 1921) vol. I, n. 903, pp. 587-8; Straub, n. 1285; Billot, Tractatus de Ecclesia Christi (3rd ed., 1909) vol. I, th. 11, p. 298ff; Muncunill, n. 648; Felder, 45; Zubizarreta, Theologia dogmatico-scholastica (3rd ed., 1937) vol. I, n. 546-550, pp. 445-446; D’Herbigny, n. 350; Schultes, De Ecclesia catholica prælectiones apologeticæ (1925), cap. II, a. 12, n. 7, p. 96; Dieckmann, n. 961; Vellico, 543; Parente, 171; Hervé, n. 453.

[13] Those who include material heretics, even if manifest, in the Church: Franzelin, Theses de Ecclesia Christi, th. 23, pp. 402-423; J. V. de Groot, De Ecclesia, q. 8, a. 3; D’Herbigny, n. 355; L. Caperan, Le problème du salut des infidels (1912); J. B. Terrien, La grâce et la gloire I (1901) 330.

Those who exclude manifest heretics, even material, from the Church: De San, n. 359; Billot, Tractatus de Ecclesia Christi (3rd ed., 1909) vol. I, th. 11, pp. 292-298; Straub, n. 1254; Muncunill, n. 653; Van Noort, n. 153; Zubizarreta, Theologia dogmatico-scholastica (3rd ed., 1937) vol. I, n. 548-550, pp. 446-447; Michelitsch, §201; Dorsch, 495; Lercher, n. 407; Dieckmann, n. 961; De Guibert, n. 187; Fraghi, 85; Stolz, 31; Vellico, 540.

[14] Those who equally exclude formal and manifest heretics and schismatics from the Church: Kilber, n. 90; Franzelin, th. 22; Van Laak, 189, 191; Van Noort, n. 153ff; Mazella, Prælectiones scholastico-dogmaticæ de religione et Ecclesia, n. 600-603, 607 (6th ed., Prati 1905) pp. 468-470, 472-473; Tanquerey, Synopsis theologiæ dogmaticæ (18th ed., Desclée 1921) vol. I, n. 903-904, pp. 587-588; Wilmers, nn. 397-400; Zubizarreta, Theologia dogmatico-scholastica (3rd ed., 1937) vol. I, nn. 548-550, 552, pp. 446-448; Billot, Tractatus de Ecclesia Christi (3rd ed., 1909) vol. I, th. 11, pp. 292-298; Straub, nn. 1254, 1268; Muncunill, nn. 637, 645; Michelitsch, §201; D’Herbigny, th. 32; Dieckmann, n. 961; Schultes, De Ecclesia catholica prælectiones apologeticæ (1925), cap. II, a. 12, nn. 5-6; De San, n. 357ff; Felder, 44; Lercher, nn. 407, 410; Fraghi, De membris Ecclesiæ, 81, 101; Stolz, 30, 33, Vellico, 540, 545; Parente, 171; Calcagno, n. 288.

[15] Domingo Báñez, Scholastica commentaria in IIamIIæ, q. 1, a. 10 (ed. Douay, 1615, p. 44ff); G. de Valentia, De fide disp. 1, q. 1, punct. 7 §14ff; Francisco Suárez, De fide disp. 9, sect. I, nn. 5 and 14; A. F. Guarnieri, De Ecclesia militante, capite, et membris eiusdem, lib. 1, c. 9 (1694) 35-37; D’Herbigny, nn. 350, 3; Dieckmann, n. 960; T. Spacil, De membris Ecclesiæ: «Bogoslovni Vestnik» 6 (1926) 13; M. Peña, ¿Pertenecen los excomulgados a la Iglesia?: Revista Española de Teologia 5 (1943) 121-132. A. Gommenginger accedes to this opinion, Bedeutet di Exkommunikation Verlust der Kirchengliedschaft?: Zeitschrift für katholische Theologie 73 (1951) 1-71, and E. Sauras, El Cuerpo mistico (1952) 629-631.

[16] Catechism of the Council of Trent, part I, on the twelve articles of the Creed, a. 9, “I believe in the Holy Catholic Church,” n. 8: Those who are excluded from the Church; Pius XII, Mystici corporis Christi: AAS 35 (1943) 201ff.

[17] Tertullian, De præscriptione n. 37: ML 2, coll. 59; St. Hilary, Ad Constantium Augustum: ML 10, 558; St. Jerome, In epist. ad Tit., c. 3, v. 10: ML 26, coll. 598; St. Augustine, Sermo 181: ML 38, coll. 981; on the question of the baptism of heretics, cf. D 46ff with the notes, and R 308, 591, 592a, 593, 600, 1636, 2273; St. Ambrose, “Know that all heretics and schismatics also are separated from the Kingdom of God and from the Church,” in Luke 11:24, l. 7, n. 95: ML 15, coll. 1723.

[18] St Cyprian, Epist. 55 ad Antonianum n. 24: ed. Hartel, CSEL 3.642; St. Jerome, In epist. ad Tit., c. 3 v. 10: ML 26, coll. 598; St. Augustine, De fide et symbolo c. 10, n. 21: ML 40, coll. 193; St. Fulgentius, De fide ad Petrum c. 37ff, n. 78ff: ML 65, coll. 703ff; Pelagius I, Epist. ad Ioan. Patricium: ML 69, coll. 411.

[19] Strack-Billerbeck, Kommentar zum Neuen Testament aus Talmud und Midrasch I, Das Evang. nach Matth. 16:19. Cf. th. 3 n. 135ff.

[20] Summa theologiæ, Suppl. Q. 23, a. 1; In IV Sent., dist. 18, q. 2, a. 4, sol. 1.

[21] St. Thomas, Summa theologiæ, Suppl. Q. 23, a. 1; In IV Sent., dist. 18, q. 2, a. 4, sol. 1.

[22] St. Cyprian, Epist. 4 ad Pomponium n. 4: ed. Hartel, CSEL 3.477; Origen, In lib. iudic. homil. 2 n. 5: MG 12, coll. 961; St. Ambrose, De pænitentia lib. 1, c. 15, nn. 78ff: ML 16, coll. 510; St. Gregory I, Epist. 74 ad Eusebium Thesalon. Episcopum: ML 77, coll. 1213ff.

[23] First Council of Orange: Mansi 6, coll. 441; St. Gregory VII, Epist. 18 ad Canonicos anicienses: ML 148, coll. 472; Epist. 27 ad Domn. Silvium Ducem et populum Venetiæ: ML 148, coll. 483; Pontificale Romanum, Ordo excommunicandi 3, Anathema seu solemnis excommunicatio pro gravioribus culpus.

[24] Pius X: AAS 3 (1911) 54; Pius XI: AAS 14 (1922) 593.

[25] Summa theologiæ, Suppl. q. 22, a. 6 ad 1. Cf. CIC 87.

[26] The Expositio in septem Psalmos pænitentiales was attributed to St. Gregory I (ML 79, coll. 602), but its author seems to be Heribertus, according to A. Mercati, L’autore della «Expositio in septem Psalmos pænit.»: Revue Bénédictine 31 (1914-1919) 250-257. Cf. O. Bardenhewer, Geschichte der altkirchlichen Literatur 5 (1932) 299.

[27] Cf. E. Sauras, El Cuerpo místico (1952) 629-631.

Manualist Monday: Garrigou-Lagrange on the compulsion of unbelievers

This is a somewhat short text taken from Fr. Garrigou-Lagrange, O.P.’s commentary on the Summa theologiæ of St. Thomas, IIaIIæ, q. 10, a. 8, Whether unbelievers are to be compelled to the faith? Our original interest in this text was occasioned by this very interesting paper by Thomas Pink. We first translated the text from Fr. Garrigou-Lagrange as support for Professor Pink’s argument concerning the theological tradition on the jurisdiction of the Church over the baptized—and though we continue to think, as any Catholic ought, that the Church does indeed by right wield jurisdiction over all the baptized, even heretics, schismatics, and apostates, we are not so sure that Professor Pink’s principal thesis of continuity holds water in respect of Dignitatis humanæ. Nevertheless, a very great value lies in reading his article, on account of the fact that he brings to the fore an important and now-forgotten aspect of Catholic sacramental theology and ecclesiology which is much needed in this time of crisis in the Church.

This theme of jurisdiction over the baptized is one to which we plan to return several times in the course of our translations here.


Reginald Garrigou-Lagrange, O.P., De virtutibus theologicis: Commentarius in Summam theologicam S. Thomae IaIIæ q. 62, 65, 68, et IIaIIæ q. 1-46 (Torino, 1949), pp. 267-9.

Art. VIII. Whether infidels are to be compelled to the faith.

One must distinguish insofar as the infidels have at one time received the faith, or not.

First conclusion: Infidels who have never received the Christian faith, such as pagans and Jews, are in no way to be compelled to the faith, yet they can be compelled, particularly in a Catholic State, in order that they do not impede the faith.

1. It is proved firstly from the authority of the Council of Trent, sess. 14, cap. 2 (Denz 895): “The Church exercises judgment over no one who has not first entered into her through the gateway of baptism.” Thus St. Paul says (1 Cor 5:12): “For what have I to do to judge them that are without? Do not you judge them that are within?” And this is clear also from the manner in which Christ sent the Apostles to preach the faith, not as armed soldiers, but as lambs in the midst of wolves, but if some should refuse to receive the Gospel, Christ does not command that the apostles should employ force, but that they leave and shake the dust from their sandals. And indeed the sons of Zebedee were called “sons of thunder,” because they wished to consume the Samaritan unbelievers with fire from heaven, upon which Christ rebuked these two junior Apostles, saying: “You know not of what spirit you are” (Luke 9:55).

2. It is proved secondly by theological argument: because to believe is of the will, as Augustine says, tract. 26 in Ioannem: “A man is capable of other things when unwilling, but cannot believe unless willing.”

It is confirmed by many declarations of the Church, which prohibit that infidels be compelled by force to the faith.

Nevertheless Constantine laudably destroyed the temples of idols; this was laudable, because to worship many gods is contrary to the law of nature, the custodian and defender of which every prince is for his subjects. But the law of the Christian faith is supernatural, to which the secular power does not extend itself.

But infidels can be compelled so that they do not impede the faith and its preaching by means of blasphemies, bad arguments, or open persecutions. For the Church has the right and the mandate from Christ of preaching the Gospel in the whole world. “And because of this,” St. Thomas says, “the faithful of Christ frequently make war against infidels…lest the infidels impede the faith of Christ.” And infidels cannot assert that probability may be less in favor of Christianity.

Second conclusion: Infidels who at one time RECEIVED the faith, such as HERETICS, and apostates, ARE ABLE even corporally to be compelled so that they might fulfill that which they promised. This considers at least the legitimacy of coercion.

1. It is proved firstly from ancient ecclesiastical law taken from the Fourth Council of Toledo. And also from the Council of Trent, sess. 7, can. 14 (Denz. 870): “If any one saith, that those who have been thus baptized when children, are, when they have grown up, to be asked whether they will ratify what their sponsors promised in their names when they were baptized; and that, in case they answer that they will not, they are to be left to their own will; and are not to be compelled meanwhile to a Christian life by any other penalty, save that they be excluded from the participation of the Eucharist, and of the other sacraments, until they repent; let him be anathema.”

But with respect to the execution of temporal penalties, which according to the ancient law are able legitimately to be inflicted upon heretics, cf. the Code, can. 6, n. 5: “Any punishments of the ancient law whatsoever, of which there occurs no mention in the Code, are abrogated.” With respect to spiritual penalties, such as excommunication, cf. the Code of Canon Law, can. 2314-2316, 2372. Cf. infra, q. XI, a. 3: whether heretics are to be tolerated.

2. The legitimacy of coercion is proved by the authority of St. Augustine cited in the reply to the first objection. He says in Epist. 93: “My opinion at first was that no man ought to be coerced to the unity of the faith, that this should rather be effected by word, that it ought to be contended with disputation, lest we should have false Catholics whom we had known to be open heretics. But this opinion of mine is overcome, not by the words of contradictors, but by demonstrative examples; for at first my city was opposed, which since it was entirely in the party of Donatus, was converted by fear of imperial laws to Catholic unity.”

Likewise the passage cited from Augustine in the replies to the third and fourth objections says (Epist. 185): “For who of ours should wish not only that one of them perish, but even so much as lose something of theirs? But…the house of David did not otherwise merit to have peace, except that Absalon his son, in the war which he was waging against his father, had been slain…Thus the Catholic Church, if She collects all the rest by the perdition of some, heals the dolor of Her maternal heart by the deliverance of so many peoples.”

3. It is proved by theological argument: Subjects are able to be compelled by their superiors so that they might satisfy their obligation. But they who received the faith and have been baptized, have been incorporated to the Church as Her subjects, and have obliged themselves to preserve the faith. Therefore they are able to be compelled by their superiors so that they satisfy their obligation, and this by spiritual, or even temporal penalties by which they pertain to the secular forum, under the direction of the Church. Cf. infra, q. XI, a. 3: whether heretics are to be tolerated. Cf. Ius actuale, Code on penalties and delicts against the faith and the unity of the Church (n. 2314, §1, n. 1, 2, 3; 2315, 2316, 2372). “All apostates from the Christian faith, and all heretics or schismatics, incur ipso facto excommunication…If they should give name to, or adhere to, a non-Catholic sect, they are ipso facto infamous, and without prejudice to can. 188, n. 4, let clerics, the given warning having been made in vain, be degraded. One suspected of heresy, who having been warned has failed to remove the cause of suspicion, should be prohibited by legitimate acts, and furthermore a cleric, the warning having been repeated to no avail, should be suspended a divinis.”

Objection: Infidels who never received the faith are not to be coerced to it, because to believe is of the will; but the same reason serves for heretics. Therefore they are not to be coerced.

St. Thomas responds in the reply to the third objection: “Just as to vow is of the will, but to render is of necessity, so to accept the faith is of the will, but to hold it, having been accepted, is of necessity. And thus heretics are to be compelled so that they might hold to the faith.”

But this is understood: First, in a Catholic state, and secondly as something per se licit, but per accidens sometimes a greater evil would follow, cf. ad 1; thirdly, relative to heretics who personally received the faith, at least receiving baptism in infancy. But the children of heretics after two or three generations often become as infidels who never received the faith.

Cardinal Cajetan on correction of prelates

Today, keeping in mind recent events within the Church, we offer a somewhat brief text from Cardinal Cajetan’s celebrated commentary on the Summa theologiæ of St. Thomas, IIaIIæ, q. 33, a. 4, Whether a man is bound to correct his prelate? Cajetan mostly comments on St. Thomas’ response to the second objection, which has to do with St. Paul withstanding St. Peter to the face in Galatians 2:11. We shall give the text of objection 2 and St. Thomas’ response, followed by the comment of Cajetan.


 

Obj. 2: Further, a gloss on Gal. 2:11, “I withstood him to the face,” adds: “as an equal.” Therefore, since a subject is not equal to his prelate, he ought not to correct him.

Ad 2: To withstand anyone in public exceeds the mode of fraternal correction, and so Paul would not have withstood Peter then, unless he were in some way his equal as regards the defense of the faith. But one who is not an equal can reprove privately and respectfully. Hence the Apostle in writing to the Colossians (4:17) tells them to admonish their prelate: “Say to Archippus: Fulfil thy ministry [*Vulg.: ‘Take heed to the ministry which thou hast received in the Lord, that thou fulfil it.’ Cf. 2 Tim. 4:5].” It must be observed, however, that if the faith were endangered, a subject ought to rebuke his prelate even publicly. Hence Paul, who was Peter’s subject, rebuked him in public, on account of the imminent danger of scandal concerning faith, and, as the gloss of Augustine says on Gal. 2:11, “Peter gave an example to superiors, that if at any time they should happen to stray from the straight path, they should not disdain to be reproved by their subjects.”

Commentary of Cardinal Cajetan

I. In the fourth article, in response to the second objection, there is a great doubt: how Paul was equal to Peter as regards the defense of the faith, since Peter was the sole universal pastor, being superior to all as the head to the members because of the office of the papacy, even as regards the defense of the faith.

To this, it is said that, regarding the defense of the faith, Paul was equal to Peter executively. Wherefore also in the text of St. Thomas, it is said in some way: as if to say, that not simply in the defense of the faith, but in some way in this was he equal. But this parity signifies the universal care in both, of defending the faith had from the Lord Jesus Christ. The supreme authority is consistent with this equality, because the office is in Peter alone of defending the faith. Just as if the Pope were to commit episcopal authority in some diocese to an archpriest, the archpriest would be equal to a bishop on account of the delegated power for executing [duties], but not from an office.

II. In the same response to the second objection, note that, since the apostolic teaching is proposed to the Church not by word alone, but by deed; from the deed of Paul, we are taught that, where there is danger to the faith (not lifeless faith but living faith) in some church—and there is hope of assisting in this danger not through secret admonition, but only through this—the prelates should be charged publicly by the subjects, as the prelates err publicly. Indeed, the deed of Peter was not so great that it would have the nature even of active scandal; as the Author says below in the question on scandal.[1] And danger to charity is danger to life: because faith without works is dead.[2] And again, the Church’s whole study is to bring forth, nourish, and protect[3] living faith: and the part which remains is to be bound into bundles to burn.[4] For this reason, Paul, charging Peter because of the danger to the salvation of those believing, and not suffering so small a sin (yet scandalous still), taught others how bold they ought to show themselves in accusing the sins (yet with words) of their prelates who are scandalizing the Church and drawing others to damnation by their example. And to this are held princes both of the Church and of the world, when the Pope scandalizes the Church and, reverently reminded of his office, comes not to his senses. For and in fact, it is probable that he will respect princes who accuse in public, although he scorns the good of the subjects; and if he does not become good, he will at least not scandalize others. For those who are able to provide help are much more obliged to this than to destroying those who are led to corporeal death. For they ought to set up a wall for the house of Israel.[5] He who shall see his brother in need, and shall shut up his bowels from him: how doth the charity of God abide in him?[6]


[1] ST IIaIIæ, q. 43, a. 6, ad 2.

[2] James 2:26.

[3] Cf. Augustine, De Trinitate, lib. XIV, cap. 1.

[4] Matthew 13:30.

[5] Ezechiel 13:5.

[6] 1 John 3:17.