Domingo de Soto on the two powers

Domingo de Soto (1494—1560) was a prominent Dominican of the 16th century in Spain. One of the foremost Thomist philosophers and theologians of his time, he occupied a chair of theology at the famous University of Salamanca from 1532 to 1545, and then held the principal chair of theology there from 1552 to 1556. In 1545 he was selected by Emperor Charles V as imperial theologian to the Council of Trent, where he labored much in the drawing up of decrees and in answering the principal heresies of that age. He is perhaps best known for his treatise De natura et gratia in three books, which he composed during the Council of Trent and in which he expounded the Thomist doctrine regarding original sin and grace; but he left a great many other able works, including the large and worthy treatise De iustitia et iure in ten books, commentaries upon several of the works of Aristotle, a commentary upon St. Paul’s letter to the Romans, and two volumes of commentary upon the fourth book of Peter Lombard’s Liber Sententiarum. The translation presented here is from this latter work.

Translated by Timothy Wilson

Domingo de Soto, In IV Sent., dist. 25, q. 2, a. 1


On the Ecclesiastical power, and the exemption of clerics.


Whether the ecclesiastical power is supreme in such wise, that the civil power depends upon it, as its delegate.

We have considered it worthwhile to treat, at the end of this matter of orders, the question of the Ecclesiastical power in respect of the civil, divided into two articles.

The first of which is, whether the Ecclesiastical power is supreme, in such a way, that the civil power depends upon it as its delegate. It is argued from the affirmative part.

Christ instituted the Church as the best commonwealth: but the best commonwealth is that which, after the manner of a kingdom, is governed by one supreme head, as the Philosopher says in the Politics, lib. II: but there cannot be a supreme head in the Church, unless the civil power be wholly subject to the Ecclesiastical, so that the pope is the lord of all, as much temporal as spiritual. Otherwise there would be two heads, which the Philosopher condemns in the Metaphysics, lib. XII. And it is confirmed from Rom 12 and 1 Cor 12, where Paul says, that Christians are all one body consisting of diverse members: and there must be a single head of one body, lest it be monstrous. Jerome declares this with the example of bees, can. In apibus. 7. q. 1.

It is argued secondly. Christ left to his vicar that power which he himself had: but he, even insofar as he is man, not only was Lord of the kingdom of heaven in spiritual things, but also king of temporal things: for he says, in the final chapter of Matthew, All power is given to me in heaven and in earth: for which reason in Apoc 19 he is called the King of kings, and Lord of lords.

Thirdly, it is gathered from Canon law, for in any cause whatsoever, one may appeal from any secular judge to the apostolic see, 11. q. 1. can. Quicumque litem, and the Pope can depose kings: for Pope Zachary deposed the king of the Franks as harmful to the kingdom, 15. q. 6. can. Alius, and Innocent deposed Frederick, dist. 96. can. Duo sunt.[1]

But to the contrary, there is the authority of Pope Pelagius[2] in the same cited can. Duo sunt, where he says: Two there are, emperor Augustus, by which this world is ruled, the sacred authority of the Pontiffs, and the royal power.

Concerning this dispute, as Turrecremata says in lib. 2. cap. 113, there are two diametrically opposed opinions, between which there is a middle opinion, which shall be established as the catholic. For there are those who, out of an enthusiasm and (as they think) a zeal for religion, attempt to extol the apostolic dignity, so that they think the Roman Pontiff to be the supreme judge as much in spiritual as in temporal matters, and thus it pertains to him to institute kings and secular princes, who thus are as his vicars delegate. Augustinus de Ancona partakes of this opinion in his Tractatus de potestate ecclesiastica, whom Sylvester followed, at Papa §2. Panormitanus is also a patron of this opinion, as well as many other jurists. Others, having sunken to the other extreme, withdraw from the Supreme Pontiff absolutely any temporal power; no indeed, in temporal matters they subject him entirely to the civil power, and permit no exemption of clerics to be of divine law. Concerning this latter heresy, we shall speak at greater length in the following article.

To the present question, therefore, a response is made in five conclusions. The first is: the ecclesiastical power and the civil are two and distinct. This assertion is from Pelagius in the cited can. Duo sunt. But because this matter touches upon divine law, it is to be gathered from the testimonies of sacred scripture. For, because (I plead your good indulgence) it has not been granted to the interpreters of the sacred Canons to treat of the divine and natural law with precision, it is no wonder that they prate idly in this present matter. For the sacred Canons which speak of this matter shall have to be elucidated through sacred scripture, from which they are collected. Thus the conclusion is proved: as the Philosopher says in Ethics, lib. II, potencies and arts differ through actions, and actions through the objects and ends whither the actions are directed: but in the mystical Christian body there are two ends, the one natural, whither civil administration tends, namely, the peace and tranquility of the republic: and the other supernatural, which is occupied in the divine consideration, which, as Paul says, neither eye hath seen, nor ear heard: therefore there are diverse powers for pursuing those ends. The reason is that of Hugo, part. 2 de sacramen., where he says, that since there are two lives, the one terrestrial and the other spiritual, in order that both be preserved in justice, and that utility prosper, there is necessary a twofold power for the conservation of justice: one, which presides over terrestrial things to govern the civil life, and the other, which presides over spiritual things to order the spiritual life. Now the same truth is proved, secondly. The ecclesiastical power is the faculty of the keys of the kingdom of heaven, as is clear from Matt 16 and 18, and likewise of the remission of sins, as is had in John 20, and moreover, the power of consecrating the true body and blood of Christ: but this faculty has not been conceded to the civil power: therefore there are two powers. Thirdly, because in order to move men to ends of this sort, there are diverse laws, namely, in respect of the temporal end there are laws entirely human and civil, but in respect of the supernatural end, the supernatural mandates of the sacraments are also used: likewise there are also diverse swords: namely, diverse punishments: for civil punishments are consummated in the death of the body, nor are they extended further: while the ecclesiastical power uses a sword moreover spiritual: namely, excommunication, and other censures. Fourthly, and finally: the spiritual power is referred proximately to souls, and it is incumbent upon it to examine and consider the divine laws, and is concerned with divine worship, and thus it institutes pontiffs and priests, which functions do not belong to kings, but the rights of emperors are to treat, to create praetors, and other magistrates: there are diverse hierarchies, therefore, and thus diverse powers; and moreover, not only in the Mosaic law but also in the law of nature, the priests were different than the other magistrates, and to them was entrusted the summit of religion and divine worship. For as we have demonstrated in dist. 1 q. 2, in every law there was always some supernatural and necessary revelation of faith, which pointed out the necessary worship of God. No indeed, even in the state of nature these two powers would have flourished, although in that case no sacraments would have been necessary. But it is not proper to this place to discuss this further.

But perhaps one might argue to the contrary. The end of the civil commonwealth is, as Aristotle says in the same place, to make the citizens good, and well-instructed: now none is good but he who would be a friend of God, which friendship suffices for eternal life: whence it is gathered, that civil laws suffice for the obtaining of eternal life. And it is confirmed from Matt 22, If you wish to enter into life, keep the commandments, where he was speaking of the commandments of nature, Thou shalt not kill, Thou shalt not steal, etc., which if it be true, the end of the civil and ecclesiastical power is one, and not many, and thus there is but one power. But the heretics of this age gather, that the spiritual power, along with the civil, lies with Kings and the civil republic. This heresy, though it is the most recent of all, never heard of before our age, yet is the most pestilential.

It is responded, therefore, that although the commands of the natural and civil law be referred to the order of eternal felicity, still they are not sufficient for obtaining it: for where Aristotle says that it is the purpose of the ruler to make the citizens good, he spoke only of moral goodness, but the moral duties do not suffice for the friendship of God without infused charity, without which no man is either called or is good, nor any work good. For this reason, beyond the natural and civil law, there is required, in the first place, the special help of God, and the laws of the sacraments, which are supernatural: for unless a man be reborn of water and the holy Spirit, he cannot enter into the kingdom of God: and except you eat the flesh of the son of man, it is said, you shall not have life in you. This power, therefore, which Christ committed in the first place to his vicar and through him to the Church, is more exalted than the civil.

But if you should ask again, surely God could have comprehended both through a single power and a single head: namely, that the king (just as has been imagined recently amongst the English) would administer all things pertaining as much to divine worship as to the civil commonwealth, or that the Pope would do both alone? It is responded, that it is not our concern to dispute on the absolute power of God; yet because, as it says in Wis 7, [wisdom] ordereth all things sweetly, and it is the task of wisdom, as Aristotle says in the Metaphysics, to order and govern all things in an orderly and apposite manner according to their ends, it was not seemly to commit such diverse offices to one power alone, for the ecclesiastical and civil administrations are very much different: indeed, the one is administered by secular magistrates, who have wives and children: while the other is appropriate to none but men free from the burden of a wife: for as the Apostle says in 1 Cor 7, he who has a wife seeks how he may please her, and they who are without a wife, seek how they may please God. If, therefore, the same power were to lie with the same supreme governor, it would be impossible for everything not to be jumbled, and thus subject to many perils. For this reason it was necessary that diverse heads be determined for matters so diverse, and that the Church would be as a queen seated at the right hand of the ruler, clothed round about with variety, and that the mystical body of Christ be compacted from various members, as Paul says in 1 Cor 10.

The second conclusion. The spiritual power is more excellent than the civil. Their very names declare this conclusion, as Innocent says in the capit. Solitæ de maior. et obedien. The Pontiff in that place reprehends the Emperor of Constantinople, who, on account of the testimony in 1 Pet 2: Be ye subject therefore to every human creature for God’s sake: whether it be to the king as excelling; or to governors as sent by him for the punishment of evildoers, etc., opined that the royal power was more excellent than all others. He reprehends him, I say, objecting that in that place the Apostle only signifies the excellence of Kings in temporal matters, in respect of dukes and others, who receive those offices from him. But nevertheless, the pontiff prevails in spiritual matters, which are as much worthier than temporal matters, as the soul surpasses the body. And so, just as the soul is that which vivifies the body, and the spirit is the commander of the body: so also the spiritual power ought to be preeminent over temporal things. To this he also joins another and most apt similitude, that God instituted the pontifical and regal authorities as two great lights, namely the Sun and the Moon, for just as the Sun presides over the day, so also the Pontiff over spiritual things: and just as the Moon presides over the night, so also the King over temporal things, which take the likeness of the night. Moreover, just as the Moon receives light from the Sun, so also does the civil power receive light from the spiritual: for the king ought so to rule and govern temporal matters, that they serve spiritual religion.

This is proved secondly from the end of both powers: for as the Philosopher says in the Ethics, lib. I, the order between ends is such as that between faculties and arts, which have them as their set ends. On account of this, the equestrian art is more excellent than the bridle-making art, and the nautical art more excellent than the art of making ships, because the ends of the former are superior to the ends of the latter: and thus the equestrian art commands to the bridle-making art how it ought to fabricate the bridle, and the nautical art to the ship-making art how it ought to make a ship: since therefore the end of the spiritual power is, as we have said, eternal beatitude, and the end of the secular power is the tranquil state of the republic, which is referred to that supernal beatitude, it happens that the ecclesiastical power is higher.

Furthermore, this is proved by the example of Paul in Heb 7, where he proves, that the priest Melchisedech was superior to the secular Abraham, because, as it is read in Gen 14, Melchisedech blessed Abraham, and (says Paul) without doubt he who blesses, is greater than he who is blessed.

The third conclusion. The excellence of the ecclesiastical power, in respect of the civil, is not of this sort, that the pope is the lord of the whole earth in temporal things. We do not speak of a particular kingdom, whether the Supreme Pontiff is truly the temporal King of those cities and provinces of which he holds supreme dominion in temporals, since in these he knows no superior on earth. So much do we not deny this, that we think it pertains to his defense and splendor. But we speak of the universal kingdom of the world, whether the whole world, or the Christian world. This conclusion follows from the first: for if the Pope were supreme lord of all things, there would not be two powers, but one: for then, just as all prelates are subject to the supreme pontiff, and dukes to the king, by the same reason and in the same manner, kings would be subject to the supreme Pontiff, and would depend upon him entirely in the same way: for this reason, just as the ecclesiastical power is one, and the whole civil power one, in like manner then the two would be simultaneously one.

So that this conclusion and those subsequent might be known through their first foundation, it should be noted, that Christ left no other power to his vicar, than that which he himself received insofar as he was man, and redeemer of the world: yet he took up no temporal kingdom, but that precise dominion of temporal things, which was necessary for the end of  redemption. I have said, insofar as he was man: for inasmuch as he was God, it is entirely acknowledged and accepted by all mortals, and not merely Christians, that he is by right of creation the absolute Lord and king of the world. For, as the Psalm has it, the earth is the Lord’s, and the fulness thereof: and as it is read in Prov 8, by him kings reign, and lawgivers decree just things. For this reason, John Faber, who in his commentary upon c. de summa Trinitate attempts to show that Christ was a king because he was God, produces nothing of relevance. For we dispute of him insomuch as he was man. But insofar as he was man, he could indeed, if he had wished, have taken up even universal secular dominion of the world. And yet it is the case, as we have asserted, that he did not accept a dominion and kingdom of this sort, but only spiritual, and accepted of temporals only so much as was necessary for that spiritual dominion. For the spiritual kingdom is that which, as we have said above, has eternal life for its proximate end: and the temporal kingdom is that which is concerned with the peaceful status of the Republic. The conclusion is therefore proved, firstly. In the whole of the gospel, there occurs no mention of the temporal kingdom of Christ: it is therefore vain, lest I say temerarious, to assert it: for if a thing of such importance were true, the Evangelists never would have been silent upon it: but they pay heed only to the spiritual kingdom, which is called the kingdom of heaven. For this reason, the protheme of the preaching of John the precursor, and then of Christ, was, as in Matt 3, Do penance: for the kingdom of heaven is at hand, and Matt 5, Blessed are the poor in spirit: for theirs is the kingdom of heaven, and many other things of that sort.

Secondly, it is confirmed by plain reason. Christ, who, since he was God, as David says, had no need of our goods, put on our humanity for that reason and end only, that he might bring about our redemption: for this reason, he preached the faith to us, and instituted laws, and created Apostles and Pontiffs, who would be our shepherds, that they might lead us to that beatitude: therefore, since Christ took up nothing superfluous, and the temporal power of a kingdom, so broadly and absolutely patent in secular kings, was not necessary to him for that end, the consequence is, that he by no means took it up.

But the patrons of the contrary opinion say, that Christ seized royal power of the whole world on account of his outstanding excellence and dignity. Yet reason stands to the contrary, because this pertained not at all to that same excellence of his. For, I ask, what increase of honor would accrue to Christ, since he was God per se, and, insofar as he was man, king also of the kingdom of heaven, if he had taken up temporal dominion and kingdoms, that is, their power? None, certainly. No indeed, how much more loftily is his majesty then commended, that, aside from that which was necessary for his office, he scorned the whole world: for he lived in poverty, and chose for Apostles men abject and humble, and ever preached against the glory and pomp of the world: poverty, and humility, and repudiation of the world he both taught and extolled with praise. Life of this sort, after the fall of Adam, is best, and suffers fewer perils. Whence Paul says, Phil 3, that he considers all these things as dung.

It is argued thirdly. Christ never discharged this office of royal power, no indeed, he always removed himself from the use of the same, which the partisans of the contrary opinion are unable to deny: for as he himself says, John 3: God sent not his son into the world, to judge the world, but that the world may be saved by him. And when the adulterous woman was brought before him [in John 8], whose cause he would judge, he passed no sentence as judge, by which he would either condemn or absolve her, but he only explicated the natural and divine law, He that is without sin among you, let him first cast a stone at her. And when the coin of the census was offered to him, he refused to judge whether or not the tax was due to Caesar, but left that to their judgment: only commending the natural and divine law, that if something be owed to Caesar, it be rendered to him, just as to God that which is his. And when others came to him, that he would sit as judge between them, he disparaged it as something lesser, saying, Who hath appointed me judge over you? Therefore, if he never discharged the office of King, it happens that he never took up such power: for that power is redundant and vain, which is never reduced to act. Sight or hearing accrue no dignity to man, except on account of their use. For this reason, if Christ was never to use that power, no dignity accrued to him from thence. Moreover, since power is made known through its acts, if the Gospel teaches us that he had neither the use nor the splendor of royal power, it is asserted without foundation that he took it up. For if he had taken it up on account of his dignity, he would have had to make it visible to men through its use. This was so far from his intent, that when the crowds set off to make him King, he withdrew himself from their attempt. A futile device, then, is that charming opinion of some, who say that in Christ there was royal power, but not its use.

Fourthly, it is also argued more evidently. Christ, as we are taught by the evangelical testimony, was naught but king of the Jews: but the king of the Jews was not to be a king of temporal goods, but of a spiritual and sempiternal inheritance: therefore he was not a king in temporals, as are secular kings. This is plainly confirmed from John 18, where, when Christ, who had been accused by them before Pilate of making himself a king, was asked by the governor whether he was a king, he asked him in turn whether he had said so from himself, or whether others had told it of him: as if to ask, of what kingdom he meant it: of that secular kingdom, by which the Romans and other nations rule, or another and higher? And when Pilate responded that he had said it not from himself, but from the relation of the Jewish nation: Christ, conceding that he is the king whom they awaited, adds, that his kingdom is not of this world, that is, of that sort which are temporal and perishable kingdoms. Hence the governor, not understanding that mystery, absolved him of the crime presented. And afterward, as if by a prophetic spirit, he affixed that epitaph to the Cross, Jesus the Nazarene, King of the Jews.

And if we consult the ancient testimonies of the prophets, they plainly manifest this. For he himself says through the prophet, Psalm 2: But I am appointed king by him (namely, God) over Sion his holy mountain (namely, the Church), preaching his commandments. Behold, he established his kingdom in the preaching only of the faith of the celestial kingdom. This is consonant with Matt 28, where he says: All power is given to me in heaven and in earth. Going therefore, teach ye all nations; baptizing them, etc., where he affirms, that no other power was given him, than that which pertains to the celestial kingdom. And Jer 23: Behold the days come, saith the Lord, and I will raise up to David a just branch: and a king shall reign, and shall be wise…In those days shall Juda be saved, that is, there will only be a king in order to save Juda. And Isaias 9: He shall sit upon the throne of David, and upon his kingdom, to establish it…from henceforth and forever. Thus David speaks of his offspring, Psalm 144: Thy kingdom is a kingdom of all ages: because it is not brought to an end, as the secular kingdom is, through the elapsing of mortal life, but without interruption endures forever. But the Angel expounded this to Mary, saying: The Lord God shall give unto him the throne of David his father, and he shall reign in the house of Jacob for ever. And of his kingdom there shall be no end.

Some have imagined that he was a king by paternal right: for Joseph descended from David through Solomon, and the blessed Virgin through Mathan; but this is not pertinent. Firstly, because that kingdom was peculiar only to that province: but we speak of a universal kingdom of the whole world. Moreover, that temporal kingdom of David was entirely extinguished in Sedecias, as is written in 4 Kings 24, according to the prophecy of Jer 22. Wherefore Ambrose, in lib. 3 super Lucam says, that although Christ the king descended from Jechonias, to whom it was threatened by the prophet, that none of his offspring was to be king, yet (he says) there is no contradiction: because he did not rule with secular honor, nor sit in the seat of Jechonias, but in the seat of David. No indeed, although Jechonias had sat in the seat of David, yet not in the same seat as Christ: the latter had an eternal kingdom, which sort David himself did not have.

Finally, the same truth is confirmed by the testimony of all the holy fathers, for whom the thing was ever undoubted, that Christ took up no other kingdom, than the spiritual kingdom of heaven. Whence Augustine, lib. 83, q. 61, and wherever else he discusses this matter, says nothing but that Christ was our king, for that he gave to us an example of battling and conquering, by whose leadership we are liberated from Egypt, and brought into the heavenly Jerusalem, as into the land of promise.

But if someone should object to us blessed Thomas, in opusculum 20, lib. 3, cap. 13, where it appears to some that he taught the contrary opinion, it is responded, that it shall be clear to no one reading him attentively that he was of such an opinion. For there he establishes only that Christ was monarch of the whole universe, which he deduces from Psalm 8, Thou hast subjected all things under his feet, and from Malachi, From the rising of the sun to its setting, great is his name. Now these testimonies are understood only of his heavenly kingdom, in respect of which all things are subject to him. Which St. Thomas himself acknowledges, adding, that that dominion and kingdom of Christ is ordered to the salvation of the soul, and to spiritual goods, although it is not excluded from temporals insofar as they are ordered to spiritual things. He does not, therefore, affirm that he was a king in temporals except precisely in the order to spiritual things. And thus to be understood are his final words in II Sent.

But Burgensis, addit. 2 super Matt 1, contrives the contrary opinion, namely, that he was king in temporals, although he admits that it cannot at all be gathered from the testimonies of the prophets, who ascribe only an eternal kingdom to him. But he says, that because the Jews were anticipating him to be a temporal king also, God ordained, that Christ would have the same dignity. Now this conjecture is so tenuous, that it rather confirms our opinion. For that opinion of the Jews was false and erroneous: for aside from the testimonies cited, they had the clear witness of Zacharias, Behold thy king will come to thee, the just and savior: he is poor, and riding upon an ass, by whom they were taught that he would come without royal pomp. It was not fitting, therefore, that Christ take up a temporal kingdom on account of that error.

Let the good reader consult whether I have confirmed this foundation of truth with so many things. We now turn to the confirmation of the third conclusion. And indeed, should Christ have taken up a temporal kingdom: yet it would not immediately follow thence, that he committed an equal power to his vicar, for we could say that such pertained to his power of excellence, just as does his power to institute sacraments, and to confer grace without these, which function he did not commit to the Pope. But since neither did he take up royal power, it is most plain, that neither did he commit it to his vicar.

But furthermore, the same truth shines forth from what Christ says, Matt 20 and Luke 22, You know that the princes of the Gentiles lord it over them; and they that are the greater, exercise power upon them. It shall not be so among you: but whosoever will be the greater among you (namely, Peter, who was to be the head of the Church), let him be your minister. Even as the Son of man is not come to be ministered unto, but to minister, and to give his life a redemption for many. Which place Bernard introduces, De consideratione lib. 2, and says: “For what else has the Apostle given to you? What I have, he says, I give thee. What is that? One thing I know, it is not gold or silver. Albeit you claim these things to yourself for any other reason: but not by Apostolical right; for he could not give to you that which he had not: that which he had, he gave, as I have said, the solicitude over the church[es].[3] Can it be that he says domination? Hear him. Neither as lording it over the clergy, he says, but being made a pattern of the flock. And lest you think this said in mere humility, and not truth also, it is the words of the Lord in the Gospel, The kings of the Gentiles lord it over them; and they that have power over them, are called beneficent: and he continues, But you not so. It is plain: mastery [dominatus] is forbidden to the Apostles. Go you therefore, venture to seize for yourself, being one who either lords it over the Apostolate, or an Apostle over the mastery. Plainly you are prohibited from one or the other. If you should wish to have both at once, you shall lose both. Do not think yourself excepted from the number of those of whom God speaks thus: They have reigned, but not by me; they have been princes, and I knew not. This is the apostolical pattern: mastery is forbidden, ministry is enjoined.” And below: “Go out into the field (the field is the world): go out not as a master, but as a servant.” Thus Bernard. With Bernard as interpreter, Christ could not have removed this temporal dominion from the apostles in a more splendid manner. Hence it is a fiction to say that the Pope has the power of this dominion without its use. For that a power is vain which cannot be reduced to act, is proven much more efficaciously of this, than of Christ.

Likewise. If he had such a power, the Pope would also be able to usurp the jurisdiction of Princes without injury, and to remove and institute Kings even outside of causes of faith: which the most holy pontiffs, whatever their flatterers should say, certainly have never dared to attempt. Indeed Innocent,[4] in the cited can. Duo sunt, recognized that the two powers of the emperor and the Pope are distinct. Nor does he attribute any power of the Pope over Kings other than that of a pastor, such that he can excommunicate them, and remove them by reason of the faith.[5] And the can. Si imperator says, that the Emperor has the privileges of his power, which he has obtained divinely for the sake of administering the public laws. And in the cap. Per venerabilem. qui filii sunt legitimi, he frankly says, that he does not have power in temporals over the King of France. And whatever others might dream up, he understood that of all Kings. And in can. Cum ad verum, Nicholas expressly says, that neither has the Emperor seized the rights of the pontificate, nor the pontiff the Imperial name: since the mediator of God and man Christ Jesus has divided the offices of both powers with their own proper acts and distinct dignities.

Moreover, these things are more clearly confirmed. The administrations of the ecclesiastical and the civil republic are so different, that the ecclesiastical is impeded most of all by secular business: for this reason all the canon laws admonish the clerical order, not to mix themselves up in secular affairs. Because of this, it was most just, that they be most removed from marriage: for as Paul says, they who have wives, seek how they may please the wife. Certainly for this reason, in the same can., Nicholas says that just as the Emperor ought not to mix himself up in divine affairs, so also the Pope, soldiering for God, ought not to entangle himself in secular business, lest he seem to preside, not over divine things, but secular.

But in order that these things might become even clearer, it is argued, again. Power, as much civil as ecclesiastical, is divinely instituted: for there is no power but from God, as the Apostle says in Rom 13: and those that are, are ordained of God: and therefore, he that resisteth the power whether civil or ecclesiastical, resisteth the ordinance of God. Yet God wisely has appointed these in different ways: for he has granted to each and every republic the civil power through the law of nature, of which he is the author, as we have demonstrated copiously in De iustitia et iure, lib. IV, q. 4. a. 1: for to each and every republic there pertains the governance of itself, as it belongs to all things to preserve themselves: namely, that they rule themselves either by the power of optimates, or of the people, or of a king: for which reason the people voluntarily transfer to the ruler all their authority and power, as is read in l. Quod principi de constitu. principum. ff. But Christ by himself conferred the ecclesiastical power to his vicar. The royal power, therefore, is derived from God through the republic: in which sense the text of Prov 8 is understood, Through me kings reign, and lawgivers decree just things: but the ecclesiastical and evangelical power was committed by Christ to Peter: therefore, the secular dominions of kingdoms were not simply committed either to Peter, or to his successors.

According to these it is then plainly argued. The law of faith does not destroy the law of nature, but perfects it: but kings ruled prior to the coming of Christ by the law of nature and the law of nations, which derive from the eternal law of God: whence it is read in Daniel 2, that the God of heaven gave to Nabuchodonosor power and a kingdom: and Christ responded to Pilate, Thou shouldst not have any power against me, unless it were it were given thee from above: therefore Christ did not change the kingdoms, whence the Apostle says in Romans 13, speaking universally of the potentates even of the infidels, Let every soul be subject to higher powers: to which he urges that tribute be paid. And in 1 Peter 2, Peter commands all Christians to be subject to every human creature for God’s sake, whether to the king, he says, as excelling. And after: Servants, be subject to your masters with all fear, not only to the good and gentle, but also to the froward: whence it is gathered, that Christians ought to obey even infidel Kings, so long as they rule without peril to the faith and injury to the savior: much more freely, therefore, do the Kings of Christians enjoy their power by themselves independently from the Pope, so long as they inflict no injury upon the faith.

It is therefore an unvarnished invention, to constitute the Pope thus as the ordinary judge of temporal kingdoms, and of kings, just as he is the supreme judge of the things of the church, and its prelates, or as the secular king is the judge of his dukes, and counts, and other vassals. Hence not all jurists hold to that opinion. For Ioannes Andreæ, Hugo, and others think with us. Nor should have Sylvester adhered to the contrary opinion, since blessed Thomas (whose disciple he was), although he was a most studious defender of the Apostolic see, nowhere left such an opinion.

On that account, the aforementioned patrons of this opinion provide even less reason for its probability, saying that the donation made to Sylvester by Constantine (if such existed) or by king Philip, was not a donation, but a restitution. And vice versa, that Sylvester, for the good of peace, gave to Constantine the eastern empire. Likewise that the Pope, if he does not use the administration of temporal goods in the whole Christian world, does so not from a lack of power which he truly has, but for the sake of confirming tranquility and peace with his sons. No wonder, therefore, if others, being more sensible, reject these as trifling nonsense. For if he had simply and absolutely the right of all temporals, he could have the use thereof without injury, which none of them dares to assert.

The fourth conclusion. Not only is the Pope not the lord of temporal kingdoms, no indeed neither is he their superior such that he can institute kings: indeed, someone could perhaps say, that although he is not the lord simply speaking of temporal kingdoms, yet he can in an ordinary way institute kings everywhere, just as he institutes Bishops, although he is not the lord simply speaking of Episcopates, or just as a king institutes dukes and magnates, although he is not simply speaking the lord of their patrimonies: but this conclusion of ours asserts the contrary. Hence he cannot act as judge between kings in an ordinary way absent causes of faith, just as between ecclesiastical prelates, or between dukes. Unless perchance their quarrels incline to the detriment of the faith or of religion: for then he can very rightly do so, not only by way of fraternal correction, as Innocent says, cap. Novit. de iudic., but also with coercive judgement. This is gathered from what was said above: for either power is sufficient of itself, and divinely instituted in a different way, such that any king is, in temporals, made by his commonwealth the supreme judge in his own kingdom. Hence in the same cap. the same Pontiff protests that he does not involve himself in order to usurp the judgment of kings. And Alexander III, cap. Causam. in 2. qui filii sunt legitimi, declares that judgment regarding possessions pertains, not to the church, but to the king.

From these, finally, the consequence is, that though the king were to break out into tyranny: absent injury to the faith, it is incumbent upon, not the Pontiff, but the republic to expel him from the kingdom.

In sum, in the Pope there is no merely temporal power, as there is in kings, except in the lands secularly subjected to him. This is what Cajetan, that loyal defender of the apostolic See, asserted in his Apologia de potestate papæ, cap. 6. And the reason is, that temporal power of this sort is not merely necessary for the government of the church.

Yet for greater clarity and firmness regarding these things, a fifth and likewise catholic conclusion is given against the heresy of those who deny all temporal power to the Pontiff. Any civil power whatsoever, is so subject to the ecclesiastical in the order to spiritual things, that the Pope can, through his own spiritual power, as many times as regard for the faith and religion should require, not only act against kings by means of the buffets of ecclesiastical censures, and coerce them, but also deprive Christian Princes of their temporal goods, and even proceed to their deposition. I have said, through his own spiritual power: because the power of the Pontiff, insofar as he is Pontiff, is not merely temporal, but he uses the temporal as minister of the spiritual. But this conclusion is not the same as the second: the latter only asserted, that the ecclesiastical power is superior. Wherefore perhaps someone would merely conclude, that the secular Prince is bound to measure his laws and acts according to the spiritual end, and to obey the pontiff in spiritual censures. But this [fifth] conclusion asserts moreover, that the Pope can use temporal goods for his end and spiritual purposes, and can coerce Princes by temporal punishments. To elucidate this, it should be noted, that the ecclesiastical power is not only more excellent than the civil, for that its end, which is eternal beatitude, is more perfect and more exalted than civil felicity: but also for the reason that civil felicity is not sufficiently perfect in itself, and thus it is per se ordered and related to celestial beatitude. I wish to say, that there are not two commonwealths, entirely distinct and diverse, neither of which depends upon the other, of which sort are those of the French and the Spanish, or of which sort were the Roman and Athenian, for of these, although one were more excellent and more perfect than another, yet neither was bound to serve the other. I say that the spiritual and civil powers are not to be compared thus: but the civil, whatsoever it be, is referred to the spiritual, which is unique to all Christians, because human felicity is of itself ordered to the divine. They are not as two arts wholly different, namely, as ironworking and woodworking, but as armor-making is ordered to the military art, and ship-making is ordered to the art of navigating: the inferior of which is bound to make arms and ships in such a way, that they not deviate from the end of the superior art, and thus, as the Philosopher says in I Ethic., the superior artisan commands the inferior artisans how they ought to work, because he is the judge of the inferior arts. In like manner, the civil commonwealth is referred to the spiritual: for both are simultaneously bound together into one mystical body, which is composed of both, as Paul luculently declares in Romans 12 and 1 Cor 12; but now in one body, all the members ought to be referred to one head, but spiritual things are not ordered to temporal things, which latter are less perfect, therefore on the contrary, temporals ought to be subject to the judgment of spirituals. Whence the same Apostle, in 1 Cor 2, comparing the temporal faculty to the spiritual, says that the animal man perceiveth not these things which are of the Spirit of God, but the spiritual man judgeth all things, and he himself is judged of no man. Nor is this opposed by what we have said above: namely, that the king has supreme power in temporals, because it lies with [the temporal power] to be subordinate to the spiritual in such a way, that it must not deviate from it.

This foundation having been laid down, it is argued thus. For the due government and administration of the spiritual commonwealth, it is necessary that all secular power obey it: therefore, also necessary thereupon, in the spiritual ruler, is the faculty of using temporals, insofar as they are necessary for his end, and thus of coercing princes when it should be needed, even to the point of their deposition, as of members which are now putrid and pestiferous. Now Christ was not lacking in those things which were worthwhile to his church: therefore not only did he take up in himself this sort of temporal power related to the spiritual, but also thereafter committed it to his vicar.

It is argued secondly for the same truth. The chief Pontiff was constituted by Christ as the supreme and universal shepherd of the whole Christian flock: now it is the office of the shepherd to recall to the way errant sheep, of whatever order and dignity they be, and to compel them in any regard: therefore, through that pastoral power, he can use temporals when there is need for it. And Innocent equipped himself with this reason against the Emperor of Constantinople, in the cap. Solitæ de maior. & obedi. in order to coerce him. He says, “To Us in blessed Peter have the sheep of Christ been committed,” with no difference placed between these [sheep] and those: and excepting nothing, as Christ said to Peter, Whatsoever thou shalt bind, etc. And in the same sense must Pope Nicholas be understood, cap. Omnes. 22 distin. where he says, that Christ “committed to blessed Peter, the key-bearer of eternal life, at once the laws of earthly and celestial authority.” By the laws of earthly authority, he means the earthly power of temporal goods and princes, not absolutely, as the authors cited above falsely think, but in the order to spiritual things. And thus is the Gloss to be understood, so that it be in agreement with the truth which it thence collects, that the Pope has both swords: because he can depose kings, as in 15. q. 6. can. Alius, and 96 dist., can. Duo sunt.[6] And with the same moderation should the text of Boniface be taken, in Extravag. Unam sanctam, de maiorit. & obedien. where he says, that the two swords, namely, the spiritual and the temporal, are in the power of the Roman Pontiff. Although, when he ascribes this sense to that word of the apostles in Luke 22, Behold, here are two swords, he does not mean to make such a sense an article of faith: for perhaps there Christ, when he said, He that hath not, let him buy a sword, meant nothing other than the calamity which threatened them. Hence Peter, who, taking it to be about the material sword, cut off the ear of Malchus, was reprehended. Nevertheless, it is still rightly adapted to our proposal. For this reason, kingdoms have never been changed by the pontiff except by reason of the faith: for this reason Pope Stephen transferred the empire from the Greeks to the Germans, as is clear in cap. Venerabilem. de electione, and cap. Licet, de foro competenti. And Innocent IV prohibited to the King of Portugal the administration of the kingdom, as in cap. Grandi. de supplenda negligentia prælatorum libro sexto.

But it is necessary to explain the difference between this conclusion and the two prior ones by way of examples. For however much the king administers the government of the kingdom in other kinds of offenses outside of peril to the faith, nothing falls to the Pope, except by way of fraternal correction. But if, for example, the Christian King were to make laws to the detriment of the faith: namely, laws adverse to the sacraments, or to the Christian religion in any way, or if the Pope were to call a Council, which the King impeded wrongly and contrary to right, or if he were to furnish aid to heretics, and infidels opposing our faith, or to schismatics, or move any other sort of mischief against the Apostolic see or the Church, then the Pope would be able to act against him, not only with the spiritual sword, but with the temporal also.

But you might argue the contrary, firstly. Would it not be enough to hurl at them the fulminations of the spiritual sword, namely, of anathema and other censures? For [the Church] seems to have no other arms: for as Paul says in 1 Cor 10, The weapons of our warfare are not carnal, but are spiritual. It is responded, that the church would not have been sufficiently provided for unless, when she is afflicted in her affairs by secular potentates, and spiritual arms do not suffice, she be able to compel them with the temporal sword also: because otherwise she would not have wholly coercive force, of the sort which is necessary for her.

But again, someone might ask, whether in events of this sort the Pope, omitting the spiritual sword, would be able to employ the temporal? For it seems that he could, because he has both equally. It is responded, that it neither befits him, nor is it licit, unless there were imminent peril, since the ordinary way of the Pontiff is the pastoral rod: while the secular sword is extraordinary. Now the ordinary way ought to precede, nor ought he to use the temporal sword, unless there be urgent need that requires it: namely, when, having attempted spiritual force, he recognizes that these are not sufficient for the matter at hand. No indeed, unless it were in his own lands, of which he is the temporal lord, in order to defend them, but in others it does not befit the Pope to wage war by himself, but when there is a prince of the Church rebellious and injurious to the faith, he ought to present the business of arms to another Prince. For so far is what Paul says true, that the arms of Christian warfare are not carnal. Although the legitimate sense is of the combat which each man sustains against the demons and his own flesh.

But because we have said, that the Pope can abrogate laws which would be harmful to the faith, it should be understood to mean, when they would cause manifest destruction. For that law of Princes, that a testament is not valid unless confirmed by five witnesses, contradicts absolutely no word of sacred scripture in Matthew 18 and John 8, That in the mouth of two or three witnesses every word may stand: for that is understood where the sincerity of the human race flourishes: since, where human trust is so corrupted, it is not repugnant to those words to require more witnesses: because that Evangelical law does not forbid it. Likewise, the law which, in matters of cheating within a half of the just price, does not permit action, as in l. 2. C. de rescinden. venditio. and cap. Cum dilecti and cap. Cum causa de emptione et venditione, is not contrary to justice: because it does not absolve the one cheated in the forum of conscience, but it only intends to put quarrels to rest. But if the King were to make a law, so that a possessor malæ fidei prescribes, that would be both contrary to conscience and the nurse of many frauds and deceits: which would thus have to be abrogated by the pontiff: just as one reads it was abrogated in cap. Vigilanti and cap. ult. de præscriptionibus.

The solution to the first argument, therefore, is gathered from the foregoing. The civil and ecclesiastical power are two and distinct, as has been said: but Christ established only the ecclesiastical under one head of the whole earth: while he left the civil derived from the divine and natural law, so that each kingdom would have its own head: but he willed the civil to subordinated to the ecclesiastical such that its laws would not be opposed to the faith and the law which he himself preached: and in this manner is the Pontiff the unique head of all Christian kings. And that is the sense of Paul when he says, that all Christians are the one mystical body of Christ. For nothing concerns the pope in regard to the infidels, other than to send preachers to them, who convince them of the faith in a legitimate manner and order. But this does not concern the present discussion, nor does the question of whether there is one emperor of the whole world: which we have discussed at length in De iustitia et iure, lib. IV.

To the second, a sufficient response is, that Christ assumed naught but a spiritual kingdom, and of temporals, only so much as was necessary for the former. And this is what the cited sacred testimonies teach.

To the third, finally, it is responded, that that canon, Quicumque litem, 11. q. 1, has been abrogated, as the Gloss says, which it proves with many decrees, such as cap. Si duobus, de appellationibus, and 2 quæstione sexta, can. Non ita, and many others. Indeed, that text is not a sacred determination of the church, but of the emperor Theodosius, who wished to show his great affection toward the Apostolic see. At present there is no need of appealing from civil causes to the church.

But if you should argue: the pope is the judge of all sins: it is responded, that this is true in the spiritual forum, but in the exterior forum he is only the judge of ecclesiastical causes, while civil causes are to be judged by the civil laws; unless no agreement could be reached between kings after all civil laws had been consulted: for then, the Pope could interpose himself by way of fraternal correction, according to the tenor of cap. Novit. extra de iudiciis.

[1] An obvious error; evidently Soto refers here to Innocent IV’s Ad apostolicæ, de sent. et re iud. in 6. — Trans.

[2] Another obvious error; but this error seems to have been somewhat common around that time. One finds a similar attribution of the can. Duo sunt to Pelagius in Turrecremata, Guarnieri, and Marchese, to name a few. Tom. I of the 1578 Venetian edition of Turrecremata’s commentaries on the Decretum of Gratian, in a marginal note, observes that “a more modern codex ascribes this capitulum to Gelasius.” — Trans.

[3] The 1560 edition of de Soto’s commentary, from which we translate, here reads super ecclesiam in his quotation of Bernard; the 1538 Lyon edition, and the 1701 Paris edition, read super Ecclesias. — Trans.

[4] Here de Soto seems once again to misattribute the can. Duo sunt to Pope Innocent IV; cf. supra, note 1. — Trans.

[5] This is the conclusion that may be drawn, not from the can. Duo sunt of Gelasius, but from the cap. Ad apostolicæ of Innocent IV; cf. supra, note 1. — Trans.

[6] Cf. note 5 above. — Trans.