Lumen Scholasticum

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

Month: November, 2016

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.

Manualist Monday: Louis Cardinal Billot on subjection to non-infallible decrees of the Magisterium

We take our text today from Louis Cardinal Billot, SJ, Tractatus de Ecclesia Christi vol. I (3rd ed., 1909), q. 10, th. XIX, pp. 434-439. It is certainly a relevant topic today, given the prevalence of that sophism advanced again and again by many modern dissenters from either the left or the right, that the obligation by which Catholic teachers and writers are altogether bound is confined to those things only which are proposed by the infallible judgment of the Church as dogmas of faith to be believed by all (cf. Syllabus errorum, condemned prop. 22; cf. also the epistle Tuas libenter, from which prop. 22 is drawn). Relevant also is the 1998 CDF commentary on the Professio fidei, nn. 10-11, and Lumen gentium §25.


Finally, it pertains to the power of the Magisterium to censure doctrines with censures of the practical order, as doctrines which are safely able to be held and taught, or not safely. And although decisions of this sort may not be, from the nature of the thing, irreformable, nor from the supreme doctrinal authority, but proceed for the most part from the Pontifical Congregations, yet Catholics are placed under obligation from conscience, such that they must subject themselves to them.

All those things which have been considered to this point regard the definitions declared by the supreme and infallible magisterium of the Church, and that from the whole plenitude of its power. Now the matter is concerning the other decrees equally pertaining to doctrine, which yet are not from the supreme power proffering a definitive judgment from the plenitude of its power, and hence do not contain in the speculative order an infallible proposition of truth. Things of this sort are, in the first place, the doctrinal decrees of the Sacred Congregations, concerning which Pius IX declared in his apostolic letter Tuas libenter to the archbishop of Munich, that if it is a question of that subjection by which all those Catholics are obliged in conscience, who devote themselves to the contemplation of the sciences, that they might produce for the Church new things of use, it is necessary that they subject themselves also to the decisions pertaining to doctrine which are given by the Pontifical Congregations.[1] Concerning this genus of decrees, Cardinal Franzelin splendidly treats of it in his De divina Traditione et Scriptura, Thes. XII, schol. 1.

«The Holy Apostolic See, to which has been committed custody of the deposit of faith, and upon which has been enjoined the duty and office of feeding the entire Church unto the salvation of souls, is able either to prescribe as to be followed, or to proscribe as not to be followed, theological opinions insofar as they are connected with theological matters—not solely from the intention of deciding truth infallibly by a definitive sentence, but even without that, from the necessity and intention, either simply or for determinate circumstances, of providing for the security of Catholic doctrine. In declarations of this sort, although there be not an infallible truth of doctrine—because ex hypothesi there is no intention of deciding this—yet is there an infallible security, insofar as it is safe for all to embrace it, and it is not safe, nor can it happen without violation of the due submission toward the divinely constituted Magisterium, that the faithful should refuse to embrace it. — The authority of the Magisterium instituted by Christ in the Church, therefore, with respect to the matter about which we now speak, ought to be considered in a twofold manner. Firstly, as in individual acts it is under the assistance of the Holy Ghost for the infallible definition of truth, or as it the authority of infallibility. Secondly, it is considered as it were extensively, as the same Magisterium acts with the authority divinely committed to it, of feeding the sheep, yet not in its full intension—if it is permissible to speak in this way—nor ultimately defining truth, but so much as seems necessary or opportune and sufficient for the security of doctrine; which authority we might perhaps call the authority of doctrinal providence. — The authority of infallibility is not able to be communicated by the Pontiff to others, as if to his ministers as acting in his name. But the inferior authority of doctrinal providence, as we have called it, is not indeed independent of the Pontiff, but is communicable by the Pontiff with dependence, and is communicated by the Pontiff himself in greater or lesser extension to certain Sacred Congregations of Cardinals…But we opine that judgments of this sort, even without regard to definition ex cathedra, are so able to be disposed, that they require obedience which includes a submission of the mind: not indeed so that there be believed a teaching infallibly true or false, but so that it might be judged that the teaching contained in such a judgment is secure, and to be embraced by us with submission of the mind from the motive of sacred authority—the indubitable office of which it is to provide for the security of doctrine—and the contrary is to be rejected.» Read the rest of this entry »

Denis the Carthusian on rulers: Commentary on Wisdom 6:1-12

In keeping with the theme of the recent election, we today present part of Denis the Carthusian’s Enarratio on the sixth chapter of the book of Wisdom, wherein the sacred author exhorts princes to wisdom. An unexpected but lovely tidbit is Denis’ brief reference to Gelasian dyarchy, on which the good Pater Edmund Waldstein’s essay is highly recommended.

Wisdom is better than strength, and a wise man is better than a strong man. Hear therefore, ye kings, and understand: learn, ye that are judges of the ends of the earth. Give ear, you that rule the people, and that please yourselves in multitudes of nations: For power is given you by the Lord, and strength by the most High, who will examine your works, and search out your thoughts: Because being ministers of his kingdom, you have not judged rightly, nor kept the law of justice, nor walked according to the will of God. Horribly and speedily will he appear to you: for a most severe judgment shall be for them that bear rule. For to him that is little, mercy is granted: but the mighty shall be mightily tormented. For God will not except any man’s person, neither will he stand in awe of any man’s greatness: for he made the little and the great, and he hath equally care of all. But a greater punishment is ready for the more mighty. To you, therefore, O kings, are these my words, that you may learn wisdom, and not fall from it. For they that have kept just things justly, shall be justified: and they that have learned these things, shall find what to answer. Covet ye therefore my words, and love them, and you shall have instruction.


Elucidation of the sixth Chapter: Hear therefore, ye kings, and understand.

The author here admonishes to the desire and love of wisdom: and because this is most of all necessary for those who rule, he addresses them first. Hear therefore, ye kings, and understand: that is, since so horrendous a condemnation threatens the wicked, wisdom is also better than corporeal power; therefore hear with the ears of the body, and understand what is heard with the ears of the mind; learn the things which I shall say, ye that are judges of the ends of the earth, that is, of men dwelling everywhere on the earth, that you might be able to teach others also. For each man is held to know, and most diligently ought to learn those things which pertain to his state and position: so far as according to the exigence of his vocation, he may walk worthily for God; and he who is constituted in some office, let him carry that out in a satisfactory manner. Give ear, that is, of the heart and the body, through diligent listening, you that rule [continetis], that is, you who hold subjects to yourselves, and preserve them in one polity, law, or observance, or restrain them from transgressions, multitudes of men. Indeed, those who are subjected to the same superior, by comparison to it are one body, one collection, one community, and they are compared to it as members to head. And you that please yourselves in multitudes of nations, that is, you who have pleasure in your primacy or presidency over the crowds of subjects. But to be thus pleased is something of elation, ambition, insipience, and vainglory, since Gregory says: “Howsoever many times any ruler is pleased to be placed over men, so many times does he fall into the sin of apostasy.” And indeed, such a one thinks his office to be of the highest rank, and the dignity and elevation of himself, and not as a burden and a servitude: neither does he ponder the severity of the divine judgment, nor his own insufficiency. But to be delighted in the fruit of the office, or the worthy execution thereof, or in the office on account of fruits of this sort, and this only in the Lord, reckoning every good to Him with humble thanks, is not illicit.

Finally, in these words, by “kings,” “judges,” and “princes,” are to be understood the primates of both laws; namely, governors so much spiritual as secular; indeed, and chiefly those who are spiritual, whose dignity is much greater, and who are obliged to greater perfection. These two laws, are the two swords, and two eyes, and two great luminaries in the very body of the Church; but as the sun is greater and more brilliant than the moon, so the more excellent and luminous is the spiritual power than the secular. And just as the sun illuminates the moon, so the spiritual has to teach and direct the secular, as the soul does the body. Read the rest of this entry »

Dominic Prümmer, OP on the duties of rulers and subjects

As something of an Election Day special, and in order to fill in the gap of yesterday’s missed Manualist Monday, we have a text from the esteemed pre-conciliar moral theologian and canonist Dominic Prümmer, OP, on the duties of rulers and subjects in civil society.

Dominicus Prümmer, Manuale theologiæ moralis vol. II, tract. XI, q. 2, art. 6 (13th ed., 1958), pp. 471-475


On the obligations of rulers and subjects.

Preliminary note. Here we speak only of civil leaders and superiors and subjects; for it is the custom to treat of the obligations of ecclesiastic superiors in canon law. The obligations of the faithful toward ecclesiastic superiors are love, reverence, and obedience in spiritual matters. In addition, the faithful ought to supply a subsidy for the suitable sustentation of the ministers of the Church, as has been said above in n. 499 concerning tithes and offerings.

Not only are emperors, kings, dukes, etc. called civil leaders here, but all those to whom falls the management of public affairs. Therefore in this sense, the House of Deputies is a civil leader.

599. a) The obligations of civil governors. All who have been charged with some civil community are held, under pain of grave sin, to procure the temporal common good, yet in such a way that the spiritual good is not endangered. This is clear in itself. Hence they are held, according to their powers, to avert all temporal evils, of which sort are wars, seditions, famines, contagious diseases of both men and animals, etc. They ought in addition to foster true religion, and not only to not impede the true Church in her actions, but rather to protect her against all the attacks of her enemies. They should furthermore strenuously enforce justice, both distributive and vindictive: distributive, namely, insomuch as they distribute offices and burdens in equity; and vindictive, in respect of malefactors, insomuch as they inflict just punishments for crimes committed, without any preference of persons. Read the rest of this entry »

Fr. Reginald Garrigou-Lagrange, O.P. on Church and State

Translated from Garrigou-Lagrange’s manual De revelatione per Ecclesiam Catholicam proposita, vol. II, concl., cap. XV, a. 4.

Article 4.


I. It is proved from the law of God.

II. It is proved from the end of civil society.

III.In what manner the civil authority ought to fulfull this duty.

IV. The objections are resolved.

Cf. above the article of this chapter on Liberalism and the opposite doctrine of the Church (Denz. 1777-1780).

§I. It is proved from the law of God, author of civil society.

To God, as creator, Lord, benefactor, and uncreated truth, there is owed, by the law of nature, the cult of natural religion and the obedience of faith, if He should manifestly reveal something supernaturally. – But God is no less the creator, Lord, and benefactor of society and civil authority than of any man whatsoever. – Therefore society and civil authority, by the law of nature, owe to God a social cult and obedience of faith, if He should manifestly reveal something supernaturally. Read the rest of this entry »