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

by Gerardus Maiella

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.

939. 2) An INDEPENDENT SOCIETY is that whose authority is not by right subordinated to the authority of another society.

A twofold dependence is distinguished: direct and indirect.

Direct is that by which an authority by reason of itself is subjected by right to the superior authority of another: e.g. the Bishop of a diocese, the Governor of a province.

Indirect is that by which an authority, not by reason of itself, but only by reason of a higher end, to which its subjects are further ordered, is subordinated to the authority of another and higher society: e.g. the paterfamilias relative to the authority of the State, the authority of the State relative to the Church.

ABSOLUTELY INDEPENDENT is that society, whose supreme authority is subordinated neither directly nor indirectly to the authority of another society.

Some modern Catholic authors call into question the concept of the indirect power and incline toward its denial, holding that the Church and the State are not properly nor indirectly subject to one another, because they are independent and simply perfect societies, and thus supreme in their order. According to these, the true doctrine concerning the indirect subordination of the State toward the Church does not understand subjection in the true and proper sense, but intends only to established and apply a practical norm of prevalence according to the order of ends, which order the State is bound observe, not because it is subordinate even indirectly to the Church, but because it is obliged by God to procure its proper end in an ordinate manner.[8]

940. 3) We have proved that the power of rule belongs to the Church. But now, in a perfect society, there is assigned to the power of ruling a threefold function: legislative, judicial, and coercive. We assert that the same threefold power belongs to the Church.

LEGISLATIVE is the power of passing laws, that is, the power of imposing stable ordinances, which oblige the members of the perfect society, for the efficacious obtaining of the social end.[9]

JUDICIARY is the power of deciding with authority about the sense of the laws, and about the quarrels of the citizens insofar as they are such, and about transgressions of the laws.

COERCIVE OR COACTIVE is the power of compelling the subjects to the observance of laws through exaction of penalties imposed upon transgressors of the laws. Penalties here are understood not as penances, but inflicted upon the unwilling, and are at least spiritual, or even temporal, so far as they will seem necessary by the judgment of the supreme authority.

941. Adversaries. 1) The exaggerated Nationalists of all ages, who either deny the equal independence of the Church or at least diminish it (cf. Gal 5:17).[10]

2) The intromissions of emperors in the affairs of the Church suppose them practically not to have recognized the full independence of the Church. Thus in the fourth century, Constantine and his successors in the causes of the Donatists and the Arians; in the fifth century, Theodosius II and his successors in the Nestorian and Eutichian controversies; in the sixth century, Justinian by his decrees on matters concerning the discipline and doctrine of the Church; in the seventh century, Constantine IV in the cause of the Monothelites; in the eighth century, Leo Isauricus and his successors in the conflict about the cult of images; in the ninth century, Michael III showing favor to Photius (D 333).[11]

942. 3) The Eastern schismatics, who, arguing for a so-called Byzantinism, in practice have subjected the Church to the Emperor. Hence afterward the rise of Cæsaro-papism, which in Russia, thence from Peter the Great (A.D. 1700), attributed all religious and civil authority to the Emperor.[12]

4) Precursors: a) of Gallicanism, at the end of the thirteenth century and the beginning of the fourteenth, that is the French lawyers under Philip IV (“The Fair”), and MARSILIUS OF PADUA (D 469 with the note; 495, 497, 499).

b) of Protestantism, at the end of the fourteenth and the beginning of the fifteenth, WYCLIFFE and HUS, priests (D 592, 596, 635, 681-683).

943. 5) The Protestants thence from the sixteenth century. In Germany there flourished in practice that axiom: “Cuius regio eius et religio”; but LUTHER in the book De captivitate Babylonica wrote: “no law can by any right be imposed upon Christians.” And in England, amongst the articles of the Anglican faith, thence from A.D. 1552, this is also included: “The King of England is the supreme head on earth, after Christ, of the Anglican Church.”[13]

6) The more rigid Gallicans thence from the seventeenth century, who, led by RICHERIUS, attempted to accommodate the Church, such that she would be submitted to the supreme end of the national splendor. With them agreed the milder Gallicans in their articles of the Gallican clergy (D 1322, 1324).[14]

944. 7) The Josephinists, after Joseph II, Holy Roman Emperor (1765-1790), who hold that to the State belongs supreme authority over all things which confer to the common good of the citizens. The Pistorienses agree, favoring Leopold II, the brother and successor of Joseph II (D 1504ff).

8) Liberalism defends separation between the Church and the State, and denies the immunity and liberty of the Church. Thence drawn through Rationalism, there is absolute Laicism and the Statism of the Socialists and the Communists (D 1697, 1719ff, 1724ff). Pius XI, in 1938, condemned the modern-day Statism of the Communists in the encyclicals Divini Redemptoris and Firmissimam constantiam, and that of the German National Socialists in the encyclical Mit brennender Sorge (AAS 29 [1937] 65, 145, 189).

Also in agreement are the Modernists (D 2092ff) and the Panchristians who wish to make the Church of Christ a part of some wider confederation of all Christians, and desire that the Roman Pontiff be obliged to the decisions of a supreme federal Council and made equal to the other rulers of the Churches.

945. The doctrine of the Church. Against Photius, the Sixth Council of Constantinople in the year 870: D 340; cf. D 333.

Against the Gallicans, Boniface VIII’s Unam sanctam, in the year 1302: D 469, and John XXII against Marsilius of Padua (D 495, 497), and against the followers of the Gallicans, the Pistorienses, Pius VI’s Auctorem fidei: D 1504ff. These pontifical documents defend right doctrine.

Against the first Protestants, the Council of Trent, sess. 23, in the year 1563 (D 960, 967) defined the full independence of the ecclesiastical Hierarchy from another human power.

Against the liberals, laicists, and statists, see Pius IX, after the middle of the 19th century: D 1696-1698; in the Syllabus errorum, read propositions 19ff, 28, 39, 41-45, 49, and 51-55: D 1719ff.

946. Leo XIII wrote against the same in many encyclicals, especially Diuturnum illud, Immortale Dei, Libertas præstantissima, Sapientiæ christianæ, and Rerum novarum, from the years 1881 to 1891. From Immortale Dei, read D 1867, 1869. Moreover, he says: “Christ gave to his Apostles unencumbered command over sacred things, there being adjoined both the faculty of drawing up laws truly so called, and the twofold power of judging and punishing which follows hence…But this authority, in itself absolute and plainly of its own right, which is daily opposed by the flattering philosophy of princes, the Church has never ceased to assert for herself and likewise to exercise publicly.[15]

Benedict XV, in 1917, when he promulgated the Codex Iuris Canonici, wrote, “Most provident Mother Church, constituted by her founder Christ in such a way that she would be fitted with all the marks which are suited to any perfect society…” (Constitution Providentissima Mater Ecclesia, at the beginning of the CIC).

Pius XI, when he rejected the Panchristians in 1928 in Mortalium animos; and when in 1929 he compared the domestic, civil, and ecclesiastical societies amongst themselves in Divini illius magistri.[16]

Pius XII, in the encyclical Mystici corporis Christi: “…the Church, which ought to be considered a society perfect in its kind…” The reason of this assertion is because “the divine Redeemer willed a congregation of men established by himself, a society established perfect in its kind, and fitted with all juridical and social elements.”[17]

In the reformed schema of the Constitution on the Church in the Vatican Council, in 1870: a) Can. 12: “If anyone should say, that the power of rule in the Church is only directly, but not legislative, judiciary, and coercive, let him be anathema.” b) Can. 13: “If anyone should say, that the Church is not as a perfect society of its own right, but is subject to the civil power, let him be anathema.” The same doctrine was contained in the first schema of the same Constitution on the Church, cap. 13 and 10, and in can. 10 and 12.[18]

947. State of the question. We intend to prove those things which we have asserted positively in the thesis. We abstract from the ulterior question agitated amongst modern Catholics concerning the indirect power of the Church over the State.

948. Dogmatic value. The thesis is de fide catholica, because it is proposed as to be held (tendenda) by the universal ordinary magisterium.

949. It is proved. 1) The Church is a perfect society.

The Church has as her end the supernatural salvation of men, and as objective means the evangelical law, the doctrine of faith and morals, and the divine mysteries; and as subjective means, the hierarchical powers of teaching, sanctifying, and ruling men.

But such an end is the good of men in its own order full and supreme, and the means are fully in the power of the Church and plainly suffice for obtaining the end. Therefore the Church is a perfect society.

The conclusion is clear from the given definition of a perfect society.

The major has already been proved in the theses on the institution and end of the Church.

For the minor. 1) The supernatural salvation of men is their full and supreme good, because neither a fuller nor higher good can be given.

2) The means are fully in the power of the Church, because they were directly, immediately, and exclusively committed by God to the Church: Matt 16:18ff, 18:17ff, 28:18ff.[19]

3) These means plainly suffice for obtaining the end, because they alone have been divinely established for the Church’s end and fortified with divine assistance even to the consummation of the world: Matt 28:19; John 14:16-17, 26.[20]

950. It is proved. 2) The Church is an absolutely independent society.

A. Absolutely independent is that society, whose supreme authority is subject to another social authority neither by reason of itself nor by reason of a higher end. But the supreme authority of the Church is subject to another social authority neither by reason of itself nor by reason of a higher end. Therefore the Church is a society absolutely independent.

The major is clear from the notion of an absolutely independent society.

For the minor. The supreme authority of the Church is not subject to another social authority: a) by reason of itself, because it is of positively divine right, secured by the assistance of God, hierarchical, and most universal: Matt 16:18ff, 28:18ff;  John 14:15ff; b) nor by reason of the end, because there is not given a social end higher than the end of the Church.

951. B. A society which, both in fieri and in very reality, is absolutely independent from civil society, ought to be called independent absolutely by right. But the Church, both in fieri and in very reality, is absolutely independent from civil society. Therefore she is to be called absolutely independent by right.

The major is clear, because the dependence of one moral person upon another is founded either in this, that it was made by the other, or because it depends upon the other in being.

For the minor. The Church is absolutely independent from civil society:

a) in fieri 1) because it was divinely instituted entirely independently off civil authority, as is clear from the theses on the institution of the Church and of the Primacy, and 2) because the Church is to be propagated, by the mandate of Christ, not only independently, but also in contradiction to the civil power: Matt 10-17-28.

b) in very reality 1) because the Apostles in fact propagated the Church in a manner so contradictory to the civil authority, that they died as martyrs (cf. Acts 12:1-24, 4:5-31, 5:17-42, where there are referred the contradictions of the Jewish high priests); 2) because the successors of the Apostles propagated the Church, notwithstanding the most grave persecutions of the first three centuries; and 3) because thence from the fourth century, the Fathers ceaselessly defended the absolute independence of the Church against the intromissions of the Emperors.[21]

952. It is proved. 3) The power of the Church is legislative, judiciary, and coercive.

A. Christ gave to the Apostles for the Church the most ample and supreme moral power of binding and loosing, which also extends itself to judging and punishing the guilty. But such power in a perfect society is true legislative, judicial, and coercive power of jurisdiction. Therefore the Church has true legislative, judiciary, and coercive power of jurisdiction.

The minor is clear from the notions of the powers of a perfect society.

953. For the major. 1) The proof is taken from Matt 16:19 and 18:16-18.[22]

a) That Christ gave moral power in the places cited, is clear from the theses on the promise of the Primacy and on the institution of the College of the Apostles, where it has been proven that in these places it concerns true social power;

b) that this power is given for the Church, is clear from the theses on the perennity of the Hierarchy and the Primacy;

c) that this power is most ample and supreme, is declared in the words “whatsoever you shall bind and loose” and “will be bound and loosed in heaven”: Matt 16:19 and 18:18;

d) that it is extended to the judging and punishing of the guilty is contained in the words “if he will not hear them (the witnesses): tell the Church” and “let him be to thee as the heathen and publican”: Matt 18:17.

954. For the major. 2) The confirmation is taken from the practice of the Apostles: 2 Thess 3:4, 6, 14, where in verse 4 and 6 we have the exercise of legislative power, but in verse 14 there are clearly supposed the judiciary and coercive powers.[23] It equally concerns the legislative power in 1 Tim 5:9-12, but in verse 19 it concerns the judiciary and coercive power.[24] Furthermore, the matter concerns the judiciary and coercive powers in 1 Cor 4:19-5:13 and 2 Cor 13:1-3, 10;[25] but the exercise of the legislative power is had in Acts 15:22-29 and 16:4.[26]

955. B) It has always been recognized that the Church has the legislative, judiciary, and coercive power of jurisdiction, which power she has always attributed to herself and exercised over her own. Therefore such power in fact belongs to the Church.

The antecedent is abundantly clear from the history of ecclesiastical legislation, beginning from the Council of the Apostles (Acts 15:6ff) even to the Code of Canon Law promulgated in 1917. It suffices to recall to mind the Regesta, the Bullaria, and the Acts of the Roman Pontiffs; the Collections of Councils, the most ample of which has been edited by Mansi in 54 volumes; the editions of the Decretals and of canonical laws, which are reviewed in the Preface to the CIC. From these it is most evidently proved, that the Church has abundantly exercised the legislative, judiciary, and coercive power, and that this power has always been universally recognized.

In the CIC, books I-III can. 1-1551 are on the legislative power; book IV can. 1552-2194 are on the judiciary power; book V can. 2195-2414 are on the coercive power.

956. C. The Church is a perfect and independent society of men. But there necessarily belongs to a perfect and independent society of men the legislative, judiciary, and coercive power of jurisdiction. Therefore the Church has legislative, judiciary, and coercive power.

Proof of the minor. Among men, according to the witness of experience, there is had variety of character, inconstancy of will, and agitation of passions, which are contrarily opposed to the necessary cooperation of all in order that the common end be obtained efficaciously. Therefore, for a perfect and independent society there is necessary some force or power efficaciously unifying, strengthening, and restraining the citizens, such that all might tend to the common end and pursue it. But there is no other force of this sort consentaneous to men, except the legislative, judiciary, and coercive power. For the legislative power unites the tendencies of all unto the end, insofar as it proposes means which are apt for the end and which are to be employed obligatorily by all; but the judiciary power strengthens all who are inconstant, insofar as it authoritatively dissolves the doubts and quarrels of citizens concerning the obligations of the laws; finally, the coercive power holds in check the agitation of passions, insomuch as it efficaciously restrains all the citizens from transgression of the laws by means of congruent penalties. Therefore the legislative, judiciary, and coercive power of jurisdiction belongs to a perfect and independent society of men.

957. Objections.[27] 1. An imperfect society is that which by reason of the end is a part of another society. But the good of religion, which is the end of the Church, is a part of public prosperity, which is the end of the State. Therefore the Church, by reason of the end, is an imperfect society.

I concede the major. I distinguish the minor. The good of religion is a part of public prosperity in the merely natural order, I concede the minor; in the supernatural order, I deny the minor.

2. The supernatural order does not destroy, but perfects the order of nature. But in the order of nature, the good of religion is a part of public prosperity. Therefore a fortiori in the supernatural order.

I distinguish the major. The supernatural order does not destroy the order of nature, but perfects it such that even in many thins it positively modifies it, I concede the major; such that it in no way positively modifies it, I deny the major. The minor being conceded, equally I distinguish the consequent. For in the matter concerning which we treat, the natural order has been modified such that God has positively committed the good of supernatural religion to the care of a hierarchical power independent of the civil power.

958. 3. A perfect society is not that which lacks its own territory. But the Church lacks its own territory. Therefore the Church is not a perfect society.

I distinguish the major. A perfect society is not that which lacks its own territory in which it may exercise its peculiar jurisdiction, I concede the major; which lacks its own territory in which it maintains civil dominion, I subdistinguish: it is not a natural or civil perfect society, I concede; supernatural and ecclesiastical, I deny. The minor having been contradistinguished, the consequent and the consequence are denied. For the territory in which the Church can and ought to exercise with full right her hierarchical power and jurisdiction, is the whole world, according to that mandate of Christ: Go ye into the whole world…(Mark 16:15): cf. Matt 28:18-19 and Acts 1:8.[28]

959. 4. According to St. Optatus: “The State is not in the Church, but the Church is in the State, that is, in the Roman Empire.” But a society which is in the State is not independent from it. Therefore the Church is not independent from the State.

I admit the words of St. Optatus, but to understand them, the context must be considered: Donatus, he says, “intended, contrary to the precepts of the Apostle Paul, to do injury to powers and Kings, for whom, if he would hear the Apostle, he ought to pray daily; for thus teaches the blessed Apostle Paul: [Pray] for kings, and for all that are in high station, that we may lead a quiet and a peaceable life in all piety and chastity (1 Tim 2:2).[29] For the State is not in the Church, but the Church in the State, that is, in the Roman Empire…where the priesthoods, and chastity and virginity, are holy, and they are not in the barbarous nations, and, if they were, would not be able to be safe.”[30]

I distinguish the major. According to the context, St. Optatus wished to say, that it is not the State which may find security and temporal conveniences in the Church, but on the contrary, it is the Church which may find security and temporal conveniences in the State, that is, in the Roman Empire, I concede the major: he wished to signify that the Church is a part of the State, upon which it depends, I deny the major. The minor being contradistinguished, the consequent is denied, and the consequence.

960. 5. The Church requires temporal goods. But temporal goods are under the power of the State. Therefore the Church, by reason of means, is dependent upon the State.

I distinguish the major. The State requires temporal goods, whether of private persons or of the State, I concede the major; precisely the goods of the State, I subdistinguish: as means absolutely necessary for the obtaining of the supernatural end, I deny; as fitting means in order that the faithful might pursue the end of the Church, again I subdistinguish: and the faithful have the right to such means, as citizens of the State, and the Church also, as an association of citizens which is endowed with the legitimate right of possessing goods, I concede; and the faithful and the Church lack the right to require such means from the State, I deny. The minor being contradistinguished, I deny the consequent and the consequence.

961. 6. Christ commanded: Do not possess gold, nor silver, nor money (Matt 10:9; cf. Mark 6:8; Luke 9:3, 10:4).[31] Whence it is thus: Christ positively prohibited them to possess anything whatsoever. Therefore the Church lacks any right of possessing.

I admit the text, and explain it. The command of Christ is referred only for the brief time of that prior mission of the Apostles, which is described in Matt 10:5-15. It can also be taken as a mere counsel of perfection, about which Luke 18:22, Matt 19:21, and Mark 10:21 speak.[32] For the Apostles indeed possessed some things, as is clear from John 4:8, Luke 22:35ff, and 1 Cor 9:14.[33] These things having been laid down, I respond to the objection.

I distinguish the antecedent. Christ positively prohibited for a brief time that the Apostles possess anything,  I concede the antecedent; he prohibited all, and that firmly,[34] I subdistinguish: he commended it after the manner of a counsel of perfection, I concede; he prohibited it after the manner of a precept, I deny.

962. 7. The Church is not able to uphold her liberty immune. Therefore she is not absolutely independent.

I distinguish the antecedent. The Church cannot uphold her liberty immune from persecutions, I concede the antecedent; immune from true dependence, I deny.

8. Two perfect and independent societies, placed over the same subjects, are a perpetual font of discords. But the God of peace cannot be conceived to be the parent of discords. Therefore God was not able to establish the Church as a society perfect and independent from the State.

I distinguish the major. Two societies of the same order and power, I concede the major; of diverse order and power, I subdistinguish the major: they are a font of discords per se, I deny; per accidens or because of the intellectual and moral deficiencies of men, I concede. The minor being conceded, the consequent is equally distinguished and the consequence denied.

Objections against the powers of the Church.

9. Christ openly condemned the “mandates of men.” But the decrees of the ecclesiastical legislative power are mandates of men. Therefore Christ condemned the legislative power of the Church.

I distinguish the major. Christ openly condemned the “mandates of men, which would make void the precepts of God” (Matt 15:9, Mark 7:7-13),[35] I concede the major; which would be consonant with the divine law, I deny the major. The minor being contradistinguished, the consequent is denied, and the consequence.

963. 10. Just as in the Old Testament there was the precept that nothing be added to the Law (Deut 4:2, 12:32), so also in the New Testament, by the mouth of Paul, it has been prescribed that “the good deposit be guarded” (1 Tim 6:20 and 2 Tim 1:14).[36] Therefore the power of passing laws has been excluded after those which the Church accepted from the Apostles.

I concede the antecedent. I distinguish the consequent. In either Testament there is excluded the power of drawing up laws contrary or less consentaneous to the divine law, I concede the consequent; laws consentaneous to the divine law and which help for better observance of the same, I deny the consequent. And under the given distinction of the consequent, the consequence is denied.

964. 11. The object of the legislative power is external things. But external things are not subject to the power of the Church. Therefore legislative power is not in the Church.

I let the major pass, because it pertains to the treatise On laws to determine the cases, if there are such, in which the Church would be able to command or prohibit internal acts. I distinguish the minor. External things which have no connection with matters of faith, cult, and morals, I concede the minor; which have a true connection with matters of faith, cult, and morals, I deny the minor. For such are the profession and propagation of the faith, the liturgical cult with the sacrifice and the sacraments, the morals of the faithful, etc.

12. James 3:12 says: There is one lawgiver and judge. Therefore the legislative and judicial powers are excluded from the Church.

I distinguish the antecedent. Absolutely, principally, and by his own right is Christ lawgiver and judge, I concede the antecedent; relatively, ministerially, and by vicarious right, I deny the antecedent. The consequent having been distinguished, the consequence is denied.

965. 13. In Matt 18:15-18, the matter concerns fraternal correction. Therefore from there, the judicial power of the Church is not proved.

I distinguish the antecedent. The matter concerns fraternal correction in verses 15-16, at the occasion of which the judicial power is yet referred to in verses 17-18, I concede the antecedent; the matter concerns fraternal correction only, I deny the antecedent.

14. The same Matt 18:15-18 treats of the particular Church of a certain place. Therefore it does not treat of the judicial power of the Church universal.

I distinguish the antecedent. They treat of the particular Church in verses 15-16, I concede the antecedent; they treat of the particular Church in verses 17-18, in which the most ample and supreme power of binding and loosing is raised, I subdistinguish: they treat of the particular Church simply and primarily, I deny; secundum quid and secondarily, again I subdistinguish: they treat of the particular Church as one participating in the power which is asserted of the Church universal in verse 18, I concede; of the particular Church without any consideration for the power asserted of the Church universal, I deny.

966. 15. The Christian law is not a law of fear, but of charity. But coercive power moves not by love, but by fear. Therefore coercive power is not Christian.

I distinguish the major. In the state of consummation in heaven, where men are no longer liable to waver, I concede the major; in the state of testing on the way, where, enticed by hostile allurements, men are liable to waver, I subdistinguish: the Christian law is a law of charity positively, principally, and primarily, I concede; exclusively, accessorily, and secondarily, I deny. For holy fear of God’s justice is very salutary in this life.

16. The end of the coercive power of the Church is to correct unwilling delinquents with penalties in order that they be voluntarily subject to God. But a penalty corrects none unwilling in order that they be voluntarily subject to God. Therefore the coercive power of the Church is not useful.

I distinguish the major. Such is the end of penalties insofar as they are examples, I deny the major; insofar as they are medicinal, I subdistinguish the major; an end to be obtained at least indirectly and mediately, I concede; to be obtained precisely directly, and immediately, I deny. The minor being contradistinguished, the consequent is denied, and the consequence.

967. 17. The scope of the Church’s coercive power is at least to restrain the subjects from iniquity. But often it is entirely clear that the contumacious and obdurate are restrained by no penalties from iniquity. Therefore at least with respect to these, the Church lacks coercive power.

I distinguish the major. The Church restrains either delinquent subjects medicinally, that they might come to their senses, or she does so after the manner of an example, lest they draw away others, I concede the major; only delinquent subjects, I deny the major. The minor being conceded, equally distinguish the consequent and deny the consequence.

18. Luke 9:54-56: And when his disciples James and John had seen this, they said: Lord, wilt thou that we command fire to come down from heaven, and consume them? And turning, he rebuked them, saying: You know not of what spirit you are. The Son of man came not to destroy souls, but to save. With these words, Christ taught that corporal punishments are contrary to the spirit of the Gospel. Therefore the Church lacks coercive power at least for inflicting corporal penalties.

I distinguish the antecedent. It is contrary to the spirit of the Gospel to inflict penalties upon those who are not yet subjects of the Church, I concede the antecedent; upon subjects of the Church, I subdistinguish: penalties which are immoderate or inopportune or not useful, I concede; moderate or opportune or useful, I deny. The consequent equally being distinguished, the consequence is denied.

968. 19. St. Ambrosius says: “My tears are weapons; for such are the defenses of the priest. I ought not nor am able to resist otherwise.” And St. John Chrysostom says: “To Christians least of all is it licit to correct the sins of sinners through force.”[37] Whence it is thus: the holy Fathers either deny to the Church the power of inflicting corporal penalties, or they assert it to be illicit for her. Therefore such power is not to be attributed to the Church.

I explain the texts given: St. Ambrose asserts that he ought not nor is able through armed force to resist Auxentius, who with his armies iniquitously took possession of the things of the Church; but St. Chrysostom teaches, that sicknesses of the soul are not healed by force alone, but rather by voluntary reception of spiritual medicine. Which things having been set down, I respond thus.

I distinguish the antecedent. The holy Fathers deny to the Church the power of inflicting corporal penalties, in relation to the unbaptized either for extorting by force the conversion of the faithful, or for procuring merely terrestrial things; but they assert that it is illicit for the Church, if the penalties are immoderate or inopportune or plainly not useful, I concede the antecedent; otherwise, I deny the antecedent.

969. 20. That one which lacks material force, cannot command corporal penalties. But the Church lacks material force. Therefore the Church cannot command corporal penalties.

I distinguish the major. That one cannot command them by itself, I concede the major; through the ministry of others, I deny the major. The minor being conceded and the consequent distinguished, the consequence is denied.

21. External moral and spiritual penalties suffice for obtaining the end of the Church and are more effective. Therefore corporal penalties are not necessary.

I distinguish the antecedent. Much of the time and often, I concede the antecedent; in all cases and always, I deny the antecedent. The consequent being distinguished, the consequence is denied.

970. 22. The power of imposing corporal punishments in inhuman and leads to savage cruelty. Therefore it should rather be called harmful to the Church.

I distinguish the antecedent. Per se and by its nature, I deny the antecedent; per accidens and from the circumstances, I subdistinguish: it is inhuman and leads to cruelty from the abuse of men, which abuse is to be condemned, I concede; from its just and legitimate use, I deny.

Concerning the inhumanity, of which the Church is not rarely accused on account of the abuses of the tribunal of the Inquisition, one must rightly distinguish between true abuses, and the innumerable fictitious ones which the enemies of the Church have constructed. But in true abuses, again those ought to be distinguished for which the ecclesiastical tribunal as such was responsible, from those for which the tribunal was responsible insofar as it was a civil tribunal. If these be accurately distinguished, the justice of the Church even in the tribunal of the Inquisition will be revealed to be readily free from the crime of inhumanity and cruelty.[38]

971. 23. The coercive power of a perfect society brings with it the right of inflicting even capital punishment. But the Church lacks this right. Therefore she also lacks coercive power.

A twofold response: 1° with those who deny to the Church the right of punishing with capital punishment: I distinguish the major. In a society whose end is temporal prosperity, I concede the major; in a society whose end is eternal salvation, I deny the major. The minor being contradistinguished, the consequent is denied, and the consequence.

2° with those who concede to the Church the right of punishing with capital punishment: I distinguish the major. The coercive power of a perfect society brings with it the right of punishing with capital punishment, yet the punishment is to be determined and commanded to execution at least by the ministry of those who wield force, I concede the major; to be determined and commanded to execution immediately by herself, I deny the major. I contradistinguish the minor. The Church lacks the right of determining capital punishment and commanding to execution capital punishment, I concede the minor; by the ministry of the secular arm which wields force, I deny the minor.[39]


[1] Opera omnia (ed. Vivès) vol. 24, pp. 224-253.

[2] De Ecclesia Christi (1912), vol. II, cap. IV, nn. 613-641, pp. 1-19; cap. VI, th. 28, nn. 1074-1124, pp. 484-537.

[3] Louis Cardinal Billot SJ, Tractatus de Ecclesia Christi (3rd ed., 1909) vol. I, pp. 440-455.

[4] Christian Pesch SJ, Compendium theologiæ dogmaticæ (Herder, 1913) vol. I, pars II, cap. 2, nn. 233-239, pp. 157-162.

[5] De Ecclesia catholica prælectiones apologeticæ (1925), cap. IV, a. 29, pp. 260-267.

[6] Domenico Palmieri SJ, Tractatus de Romano Pontifice cum prolegomeno de Ecclesia (3rd ed., Prati, 1902), prol. §XVIII, pp. 113-121.

[7] Irenæus González Moral SJ, Philosophia moralis (3rd ed., 1952), lib. II, sect. 3, cap. 1, nn. 1063-1068, pp. 482-486.

[8] Glez, Pouvoir du Pape en matière temporelle: Dictionnaire de Théologie Catholique XII, 2750-2772; C. Journet, L’Eglise et la souverainité de l’Etat (1946 c. 5, Les theories du pouvoir indirect, pp. 96-113; L.Bender, O.P.: Ius publicum ecclesiasticum (1948) 125; A. Stickler, Magistri Gratiani sententia de potestate Ecclesiæ in Statum: Apol 21 (1948) 71-77; W. Onclin, Ephemerides Theologicæ Lovanienses 25 (1949) 176, 181; cf. O. Robleda, Sobre el poder directo e indirecto de la Iglesia: SalTer 39 (1951) 365-372; L. R. Sotillo, Algunas notas sobre la potestad indírecta de la Iglesia: Miscellanea Comillas 16 (1951) 31-34.

[9] St. Thomas, Summa theologiæ IaIIæ, q. 90, a. 4: “And thus from the four things said before, there can be had the definition of law, which is nothing other than a certain ordinance of reason [quædam rationis ordinatio] for the common good, promulgated by him who has care of the community.” L. Rodrigo, Prælectiones theologico-morales vol. II, De legibus (1944), nn. 3-62.

[10] “For the flesh lusteth against the spirit: and the spirit against the flesh; for these are contrary one to another: so that you do not the things that you would.”

[11] C. Silva-Tarouca, Institutiones Historiæ ecclesiasticæ pars 2, Ecclesia in Imperio Romano-Byzantino (1933), c. 1. De Imperatore et Ecclesia.

[12] M. Jugie, Theologia græco-russorum 4, De Ecclesia, c. 9, pp. 598-639.

[13] Articuli Anglicani 21, 35, 36ff; K. Müller, Die Bekenntnisschriften der reformirten Kirche 513, 519ff.

[14] Cf. M. D’Herbigny, De Ecclesia n. 76.

[15] Leo XIII, Immortale Dei §12: ASS 18 (1885) 165. See the encyclicals of the same Pontiff, Diuturnum illud: ASS 14 (1881) 1-14; Immortale Dei: ASS 18 (1885) 161-180; Libertas præstantissimum: ASS 20 (1888) 593-613; Sapientiæ christianæ: ASS 22 (1890) 385-404; Rerum novarum: ASS 23 (1891) 641-670.

[16] Pius XI, Mortalium animos §6: AAS 20 (1928) 1-16; Divini illius magistri §13: AAS 22 (1930) 49ff.

[17] AAS 35 (1943) 222, 224.

[18] Concilii Vaticani Constitutio de Ecclesia: Schema reformatum: Mansi 53, coll. 316ff. Schema primum: Mansi 51, colls. 540, 543, 552.

[19] Matt 16:18-19: “And I say to thee: that thou art Peter; and upon this rock I will build my church, and the gates of hell shall not prevail against it. And I will give to thee the keys of the kingdom of heaven. And whatsoever thou shalt bind upon earth, it shall be bound also in heaven: and whatsoever thou shalt loose on earth, it shall be loosed also in heaven.”

Matt 18:17-18: “And if he will not hear them: tell the church. And if he will not hear the church, let him be to thee as the heathen and publican. Amen I say to you, whatsoever you shall bind upon earth, shall be bound also in heave; and whatsoever you shall loose upon earth, shall be loosed also in heaven.”

Matt 28:18-20: “And Jesus coming, spoke to them, saying: All power is given to me in heaven and in earth. Going therefore, teach ye all nations; baptizing them in the name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Ghost. Teaching them to observe all things whatsoever I have commanded you: and behold I am with you all days, even to the consummation of the world.”

[20] John 14:16-17, 26: “And I will ask the Father, and he shall give you another Paraclete, that he may abide with you for ever. The spirit of truth, whom the world cannot receive, because it seeth him not, nor knoweth him: but you shall know him; because he shall abide with you, and shall be in you…But the Paraclete, the Holy Ghost, whom the Father will send in my name, he will teach you all things, and bring all things to your mind, whatsoever I shall have said to you.”

[21] Cf. M. D’Herbigny, De Ecclesia n. 79, where some splendid testimonies of the Fathers vindicating the liberty of the Church are recorded.

[22] Cf. I. Knabenbauer, Comment. in Evangelium Mt. 16:19, 18:16-18; cf. n. 134ff, 193ff.

[23] 2 Thess 3:4, 6, 14: “And we have confidence concerning you in the Lord, that the things which we command, you both do, and will do…And we charge you, brethren, in the name of our Lord Jesus Christ, that you withdraw yourselves from every brother walking disorderly, and not according to the tradition which they have received from us…And if any man obey not our word by this epistle, note that man and do not keep company with him, that he may be ashamed.”

[24] 1 Tim 5:9-12, 19: “Let a widow be chosen of no less than threescore years of age, who hath been the wife of one husband. Having testimony for her good works, if she have brought up children, if she have received to harbour, if she have washed the saints’ feet, if she have ministered to them that suffer tribulation, if she have diligently followed every good work. But the younger widows avoid. For when they have grown wanton in Christ, they will marry: having damnation, because they have made void their first faith…Against a priest receive not an accusation, but under two or three witnesses.”

[25] 1 Cor 4:19-5:13: “But I will come to you shortly, if the Lord will: and will know, not the speech of them that are puffed up, but the power. For the kingdom of God is not in speech, but in power. What will you? shall I come to you with a rod; or in charity, and in the spirit of meekness? It is absolutely heard, that there is fornication among you, and such fornication as the like is not among the heathens; that one should have his father’s wife. And you are puffed up; and have not rather mourned, that he might be taken away from among you, that hath done this thing. I indeed, absent in body, but present in spirit, have already judged, as though I were present, him that hath done so, in the name of our Lord Jesus Christ, you being gathered together, and my spirit, with the power of our Lord Jesus; to deliver such a one to Satan for the destruction of the flesh, that the spirit may be saved in the day of our Lord Jesus Christ. Your glorying is not good. Know you not that a little leaven corrupteth the whole lump? Purge out the old leaven, that you may be a new paste, as you are unleavened. For Christ our pasch is sacrificed. Therefore let us fast, not with the old leaven, nor with the leaven of malice and wickedness; but with the unleavened bread of sincerity and truth. I wrote to you in an epistle, not to keep company with fornicators. I mean not with the fornicators of this world, or with the covetous, or the extortioners, or the servers of idols; otherwise you must needs go out of this world. But now I have written to you, not to keep company, if any man that is named a brother, be a fornicator, or covetous, or a server of idols, or a railer, or a drunkard, or an extortioner: with such a one, not so much as to eat. For what have I to do to judge them that are without? Do not you judge them that are within? For them that are without, God will judge. Put away the evil one from among yourselves.”

2 Cor 13:1-3, 10: “Behold, this is the third time I am coming to you: In the mouth of two or three witnesses shall every word stand. I have told before, and foretell, as present, and now absent, to them that sinned before, and to all the rest, that if I come again, I will not spare. Do you seek a proof of Christ that speaketh in me, who towards you is not weak, but is mighty in you? …Therefore I write these things, being absent, that, being present, I may not deal more severely, according to the power which the Lord hath given me unto edification, and not unto destruction.”

[26] Acts 15:22-29, 16:4: “Then it pleased the apostles and ancients, with the whole church, to choose men of their own company, and to send to Antioch, with Paul and Barnabas, namely, Judas, who was surnamed Barsabas, and Silas, chief men among the brethren. Writing by their hands: The apostles and ancients, brethren, to the brethren of the Gentiles that are at Antioch, and in Syria and Cilicia, greeting. Forasmuch as we have heard, that some going out from us have troubled you with words, subverting your souls; to whom we gave no commandment; It hath seemed good to us, being assembled together, to choose out men, and to send them unto you, with our well beloved Barnabas and Paul: men that have given their lives for the name of our Lord Jesus Christ. We have sent therefore Judas and Silas, who themselves also will, by word of mouth, tell you the same things. For it hath seemed good to the Holy Ghost and to us, to lay no further burdens upon you than these necessary things: that you abstain from things sacrificed to idols, and from blood, and from things strangled, and from fornication; from which things keeping yourselves, you shall do well. Fare ye well…And as they passed through the cities, they delivered unto them the decrees for to keep, that were decreed by the apostles and ancients who were at Jerusalem.”

[27] Cf. Pesch, Compendium theologiæ dogmaticæ (Herder, 1913) vol. I, pars II, cap. 2, nn. 236-238, pp. 159-160; De Groot, De Ecclesia 136, 394, 400, 404, 410. See also J. Donat, Ethica specialis (1941), nn. 427-429.

[28] Matt 28:18-19: “And Jesus coming, spoke to them, saying: All power is given to me in heaven and in earth. Going therefore, teach ye all nations; baptizing them in the name of the Father, and of the Sons, and of the Holy Ghost.”

Acts 1:8: “But you shall receive the power of the Holy Ghost coming upon you, and you shall be witnesses unto me in Jerusalem, and in all Judea, and Samaria, and even to the uttermost part of the earth.”

[29] N.B. St. Optatus in the Migne, and in the text of Fr. Salaverri quoting him, had rendered the Scriptural reference somewhat differently, thus: Pray for kings and powers, that we may lead a quiet and a peaceable life with them. — Tr.

[30] St. Optatus of Milevis, De schismate Donati, lib. III, cap. 3: ML 11, coll. 999; ed. C. Ziwsa: CSEL 26, pp. 73-74.

[31] Mark 6:8: “And he commanded them that they should take nothing for the way, but a staff only: no scrip, no bread, nor money in their purse, but to be shod with sandals, and that they should not put on two coats.”

Luke 9:3, 10:1-2, 4: “And he said to them: Take nothing for your journey; neither staff, nor scrip, nor bread, nor money; neither have two coats… And after these things the Lord appointed also other seventy-two…And he said to them…Carry neither purse, nor scrip, nor shoes; and salute no man by the way.”

[32] Luke 18:22: “Which when Jesus had heard, he said to him: Yet one thing is wanting to thee: sell all whatever thou hast, and give to the poor, and thou shalt have treasure in heaven: and come, follow me.”

Matt 19:21: “Jesus saith to him: If thou wilt be perfect, go sell what thou hast, and give to the poor, and thou shalt have treasure in heaven: and come follow me.”

Mark 10:21: “And Jesus looking on him, loved him, and said to him: One thing is wanting unto thee: go, sell whatsoever thou hast, and give to the poor, and thou shalt have treasure in heaven; and come, follow me.”

[33] John 4:8: “For his disciples were gone into the city to buy meats.”

Luke 22:35-38: “When I sent you without purse, and scrip, and shoes, did you want anything? But they said: Nothing. Then said he unto them: But now he that hath a purse, let him take it, and likewise a scrip; and he that hath not, let him sell his coat, and buy a sword. For I say to you, that this that is written must yet be fulfilled in me: And with the wicked was he reckoned. For the things concerning me have an end. But they said: Lord, behold here are two swords. And he said to them, It is enough.”

1 Cor 9:11-14: “If we have sown unto you spiritual things, is it a great matter if we reap your carnal things? If others be partakers of this power over you, why not we rather? Nevertheless, we have not used this power: but we bear all things, lest we should give any hindrance to the gospel of Christ. Know you not, that they who work in the holy place, eat the things that are of the holy place; and they that serve the altar, partake with the altar? So also the Lord ordained that they who preach the gospel, should live by the gospel.”

[34] Stabiliter.

[35] Matt 15:9: “And in vain do they worship me, teaching doctrines and commandments of men.”

Mark 7:7-13: “And in vain do they worship me, teaching doctrines and precepts of men. For leaving the commandment of God, you hold the tradition of men, the washing of pots and of cups: and many other things you do like to these. And he said to them: Well do you make void the commandment of God, that you may keep your own tradition. For Moses said: Honour thy father and thy mother; and He that shall curse father or mother, dying let him die. But you say: If a man shall say to his father or mother, Corban, (which is a gift,) whatsoever is from me, shall profit thee. And further you suffer him not to do any thing for his father or mother, making void the word of God by your own tradition, which you have given forth. And many other such like things you do.”

[36] 1 Tim 6:20: “O Timothy, keep that which is committed to thy trust [custodi depositum], avoiding the profane novelties of words, and oppositions of knowledge falsely so called.”

2 Tim 1:14: “Keep the good thing committed to thy trust by the Holy Ghost [bonum depositum custodi per Spiritum Sanctum], who dwelleth in us.”

[37] St. Ambrose, Sermo contra Auxentium, n. 2: ML 16, coll. 1008, n. 2; St. John Chrysostom, De sacerdotio, lib. II, n. 3: MG 48, coll. 634, n. 3.

[38] B. Llorca, Historia eclesiástica §§117, 139; J. Guirard, Inquisition: DAFC 2, 823-890; E. Vacandard, Inquisition: in Dictionnaire de Théologie Catholique VII, 2016-2068.

[39] Cf. Muncunill and the authors whom he cites, in De Ecclesia n. 442.

Advertisements