On Dignitatis Humanae – A Reply to Thomas Storck

Thomas Pink

1. Introduction

Thomas Storck has challenged my Leonine interpretation of Dignitatis Humanae, the declaration of the Second Vatican Council that teaches a moral right of the individual, based on their human dignity, to religious liberty. My interpretation is Leonine in that it seeks to establish the declaration’s consistency with previous Catholic teaching by reading it as an application for modern times of the magisterial teaching on church and state of Leo XIII.

Storck rejects this reading by alleging that I employ what was at best a political theology of the counter-reformation, the theology of Suarez and Bellarmine. According to Storck this theology was not shared by Leo XIII, was never magisterially taught, and had nothing to do with the drafting of Dignitatis Humanae.

We shall see that none of Storck’s claims is true. The theology of Suarez and Bellarmine was indeed shared by Leo XIII who did magisterially teach it, and this theology remained central to the understanding of Leo XIII’s teaching in official Catholic theology up to Vatican II. From 1964 to 1965 it was Leonine teaching understood in terms entirely consistent with Suarez’s political theology that was applied at Vatican II by the commission drafting Dignitatis Humanae to explain the declaration’s meaning to the council fathers.

2. Leo XIII and Immortale Dei

According to the teaching of Leo XIII in Immortale Dei human life is governed by two distinct potestates or sovereign authorities with the right to coerce – that is, to issue legal directives that impose moral obligations or duties on those subject to them, and to enforce those obligatory directives by sanctions. There is a religious potestas, the church, directing the good of religion and a civil potestas, the state, directing goods other than religion:

The Almighty, therefore, has given the charge of the human race to two coercive authorities (potestates), the ecclesiastical and the civil, the one being set over divine, and the other over human, things…While one of the two authorities [the state] has for its immediate and chief object care of the goods of this mortal life, the other [the church] provides for goods that are heavenly and everlasting. Whatever, therefore, in human affairs is in any way of a sacred character, whatever belongs either of its own nature or by reason of the end to which it is referred, to the salvation of souls or to the worship of God, falls wholly under the coercive authority of the church and is wholly subject to her judgment (id est omne in potestate arbitrioque ecclesiae). Whatever is to be ranged under the civil and political order is rightly subject to the civil authority. Jesus Christ has himself given command that what is Caesar’s is to be rendered to Caesar, and that what belongs to God is to be rendered to God. Immortale Dei §13–§14

The civil potestas may certainly have a duty to do whatever it can to further the good of religion; but it has no competence to direct people coercively just on its own authority for specifically religious ends. The church is sovereign over the good of religion. Likewise the church has no authority of her own to direct people coercively for the civil ends over which the state is sovereign.

A fundamental concern of Leo XIII is for the harmonious interaction of the two distinct authorities of church and state. Since both authorities are divinely instituted, harmony between them must be possible in principle. Indeed Immortale Dei insists that church-state harmony is divinely ordained – it is God’s declared will, even if given human sin this harmony is not always attainable. Essential to harmony between the two sovereign authorities is that they should never impose conflicting duties on those within their jurisdiction:

But, inasmuch as each of these two powers has authority over the same subjects, and as it might come to pass that one and the same thing – related differently, but still remaining one and the same thing – might belong to the jurisdiction and determination of both, therefore God, who foresees all things, and who is the author of these two powers, has marked out the course of each in right correlation to the other. “For the powers that are, are ordained of God” (Rom.XIII,1). Were this not so, deplorable contentions and conflicts would often arise, and, not infrequently, people, like travellers at the meeting of two roads, would hesitate in anxiety and doubt, not knowing what course to follow. Two distinct sovereign authorities would be commanding contrary things, when it would be a dereliction of duty to disobey either of the two. Immortale Dei §13

Conflict is avoided first by church and state being sovereign over quite distinct spheres. The church is sovereign over a legal order of religion in which law is made and enforced for religious ends, and the state is sovereign over a civil order in which law is made and enforced for other non-religious ends. Then because religion is the supreme good but depends on earthly goods that fall within the competence of the state, just as the good of religion takes priority over other goods, so when the good of religion requires the state must subordinate itself to and assist the church.

Leo XIII introduces an analogy with the relation between the intellectual soul and the body in the human person. This analogy was notably and extensively employed by Suarez and Bellarmine, but is far older, going back to Nazianzen in the patristic period.

There must, accordingly, exist between these two coercive authorities an ordained connection which not without reason may be compared to the union of the soul and body in man. Immortale Dei §14

Church and state should stand in a cooperative union for the good of all those subject to their authority somewhat as intellectual soul and body. In any case when vital functioning alone is at stake, determining heart rate and the like, the body acts without reference to the intellectual soul. But in higher intellectual matters, such as how deliberately to pursue the morally good and true, the body acts at the direction of the intellectual soul, for example by moving from place to place as the soul decides. Just so the state is sovereign over questions that are purely civil but must be ready to legislate for the good of religion at the direction of the church.

The point of the analogy is to convey in matters of religion a principal-agent relation between church and state. The Christian state is sovereign in the civil order; but it can act as agent for the church in the distinct and higher legal order of religion. Where it does so, the state acts not simply as civilis potestas, but as the church’s brachium seculare or temporale, providing its own civil authority and jurisdiction to help secure the supreme good of religion. A Latin term commonly used in the theological tradition to convey the state’s agency role in matters of religion is minister – the term for a servant, official or agent. On the soul-body model the state should act as sovereign in the civil order but as the church’s minister in the order of religion.

Not only may church and state govern the same community, but they will do so sharing a responsibility and a concern for the overall flourishing of that community and its members. Concern for the happiness of each person within the community is a basic requirement of Christian love. So the Christian state will desire not only the earthly happiness of its citizens but also their salvation, and it will do whatever it can to secure that salvation as their chief good. It is not as if the church alone should pursue this end or give it priority. And of course, enjoyment of the benefits of religion and of goods of the civil order are deeply connected. The supreme good of religion is of especial importance to the civil order which is the state’s concern. Loss of grace at the supernatural level will degrade humanity at the level of nature and thereby damage the understanding of and conformity to natural morality that is so vital to the civil order, as the nineteenth century popes frequently emphasised in their teaching. So the state has very great reason to further, in so far as it can, the specifically religious good of salvation, because, as Leo XIII emphasised at the very beginning of Immortale Dei the grace that provides that supernatural good provides many earthly benefits too: it supports the natural virtue both of the people and of the civil authorities themselves. But since, for the reasons Leo XIII founded on church-state harmony, legislative competences must be clearly divided, each of church and state must pursue the happiness of those who are both baptised faithful and political citizens within the limits of its own particular authority. The state may properly legislate for religious ends, making laws specifically aimed at fostering true worship and the salvation of its citizens, and indeed may be under a duty to do so when it has the authority. But it can only legitimately so act as agent for the church.

Suarez understood perfectly well that the religious good was vital to flourishing in the civil order. He emphasised nevertheless that it was the church, not the state, that has the authority to legislate and punish for religious ends, and that a state could only so legislate and punish as the church’s agent or minister:

Punishment of crimes only belongs to civil magistrates in so far as those crimes are contrary to political ends, public peace and human justice; but coercion with respect to those deeds which are opposed to religion and to the salvation of the soul, is essentially a function of coercive authority that is spiritual [the authority of the church], so that the authority to make use of temporal penalties for the purposes of such correction must have been allotted in particular to this spiritual power, whether the penalties are to be inflicted directly by the said power, or whether it avails itself of the ministry of its temporal arm (brachium temporale) that all things may be done decently, in order and efficaciously…. Suarez, Defensio Fidei Catholicae adversus Anglicanae Sectae Errores, book 3, chapter 23 §19

Suarez’s view comes from a work commissioned by pope Paul V to explain to James I of England the proper ordering of church and state. This work, though officially commissioned, was not itself magisterial teaching, as Storck is right to note. But Suarez’s account of this ordering remained approved official theology into modern times. It was very much part of the post-1815 restoration Jesuit intellectual formation that Leo XIII received in his youth, and in the mid-nineteenth century was especially recommended in influential theological work by Leo’s friend Ketteler the bishop of Mainz. We shall see how right up to the Second Vatican Council the work of Suarez and Bellarmine remained central at the highest levels of the church to the official understanding of Leo’s own magisterial teaching on church and state. It was Leonine teaching, very obviously understood in Suarezian terms, that, as we are about to see, was invoked by those drafting Dignitatis Humanae.

My argument is that Dignitatis Humanae represents Leonine political teaching, but for a modern situation where the state is no longer publicly Christian – no longer a political community of the baptised existing in a soul-body union with the church.

As human beings created in the image of God we have a right to liberty from subjection to unauthorised threats of force and sanction. This right is not some mere convention but is based on the dignity of our human nature. It is a dictate of natural law that we should not be subjected to coercion without proper authority. Now according to Leo XIII’s teaching the state acting on its own, apart from the church, has no authority whatever to impose legal obligations on us for religious ends. Hence when the state is acting purely on its own authority, purely as civilis potestas as it now does, we have a moral right, based on the dignity of our nature, to religious liberty against the state or any other body acting in the civil order, just as Dignitatis Humanae teaches. We have a right not to coerced by civil authority for any religious end.

2. Thomas Storck’s objections to my interpretation

Storck allows that Suarez and Bellarmine may have believed that religion lay under the authority of the church alone. He denies that this was the magisterial teaching of Leo XIII.

What is his ground for this denial? That the political community depends for its flourishing on the good of religion and on state recognition of and conformity to religious truth, and that therefore, as Leo XIII did indeed teach, the state has a duty to profess religious truth and legislate in favour of religion and religious truth. Storck infers that the state must therefore have a sovereign authority of its own to legislate in matters of religion. Leo XIII cannot then have meant to deny the state that authority. What he meant to reserve exclusively to the church was authority not over religion itself, but over the church’s ‘internal affairs’:

…the attentive reader will see that Leo is not saying anything regarding state coercion or authority in religious matters in the two quotes from Immortale Dei that Professor Pink adduces. Rather, Leo is pointing out that it is the Church’s task to lead us to heaven, and that her internal affairs – her worship and teaching, for example – are solely her concern, not the state’s.

Whence comes, in Stock’s view, the apparently novel right to religious liberty taught by Dignitatis Humanae, and how is the assertion of this right not a contradiction of previous magisterial teaching? This right and its assertion comes, he claims, from a change in political circumstance that is nothing to do with any detachment of the state from the church. It is simply that religious error and its manifestations are now less of a threat than they once were to the public order guarded by the state. Dignitatis Humanae expressly teaches, after all, that states can legitimately restrict religious activity to protect ‘just public order’.

Furthermore, society has the right to defend itself against possible abuses committed on the pretext of freedom of religion. It is the special duty of government to provide this protection. However, government is not to act in an arbitrary fashion or in an unfair spirit of partisanship. Its action is to be controlled by juridical norms which are in conformity with the objective moral order. These norms arise out of the need for the effective safeguard of the rights of all citizens and for the peaceful settlement of conflicts of rights, also out of the need for an adequate care of genuine public peace, which comes about when men live together in good order and in true justice, and finally out of the need for a proper guardianship of public morality. These matters constitute the basic component of the common welfare: they are what is meant by public order. Dignitatis Humanae §7

When in the past the church did approve of the state restriction of non-Catholic religions, Storck claims that this was because non-Catholic practice and proselytization did once constitute an immediate threat to just public order in Catholic societies. But with the disappearance of traditionally Catholic societies this is no longer so, and need for such restriction on non-Catholic religions to protect just public order has been removed. As Storck has put it:

The “just requirements of public order,” the “due limits,” and considerations of the rights of others and of the common good vary considerably from society to society, and in a society overwhelmingly and traditionally Catholic they could easily include restrictions, and even an outright prohibition, on the public activities of non-Catholic sects, particularly on their proselytizing activities. Storck, Foundations of a Catholic Social Order, (Four Faces Press, 1998), pp28-9

It is because just public order no longer warrants such restrictions and prohibitions that Dignitatis Humanae now teaches a right not to be coerced religiously by the state.

I based my Leonine reading of Dignitatis Humanae on the relationes issued by the drafting commission at sessions of Vatican II up to the final vote to explain the declaration’s content to the council fathers. From the time in 1964 that the declaration changed significantly from being a chapter in the decree on ecumenism to being a stand-alone declaration, these relationes repeatedly and explicitly described the declaration as an application for modern times of the political teaching of Leo XIII. My ‘Suarezian’ reading of these relationes and of the Leonine teaching to which they appealed is ‘anachronistic’, according to Storck. It has nothing to do with their true content or what the commission can have meant in issuing them. To support this Storck claims that at the council there was no discussion of an agency relationship between church and state. Further he notes that at least one theologian involved in the declaration’s preparation, John Courtney Murray, viewed the declaration as bearing, at least by wider implication, on liberty in relation to the authority of the church and not just that of the state.

Storck also claims that the Church’s past support for state restrictions on the public religious practice of non-Christians cannot have been an exercise of her ecclesial authority because non-Christians were not baptised and so were never subject to her jurisdiction. So such state restrictions on non-Christian religious activity must have been the exercise of an authority over religion that was native to the state and was simply approved of by the Church, not directed by her. Although I claimed that these restrictions arose as an indirect or defensive exercise by the Church of her jurisdiction, to resist intrusions on her mission and jurisdiction from without, Storck objects that no text was ever provided by me to establish this.

3. A reply to Storck

Storck claims it clear from the text of Immortale Dei that Leo does not reserve sovereign authority over religion to the church, but only authority over her own internal regulation. The text of the encyclical, however, does not support this.

Immortale Dei reserves to the potestas of the church not merely her internal regulation but, quite generally, all responsibility for what is ‘divine’ as opposed to ‘human’, giving the church the charge not merely for this-worldly ecclesial regulations, but for all those goods that are ‘heavenly and everlasting’. The encyclical more specifically reserves for the authority of the church ‘whatever, therefore, in human affairs is in any way of a sacred character’ which means ‘whatever belongs either of its own nature or by reason of the end to which it is referred, to the salvation of souls or to the worship of God’. So the church’s exclusive competence includes anything sacred in human affairs not just in matters internal to the church. Not only Catholicism, not only revealed Christianity generally, but the worship owed to God just as naturally known creator falls within the sovereign competence of the Church.

Religion in general is included, therefore, if we understand religion to be whatever practice involves worship of a kind which is properly owed to God alone. Religion so conceived clearly meets Leo’s criterion for what falls within the exclusive competence of the church. Such worship, even when practised in defective form, such as in polytheistic idolatry, ‘of its own nature’ belongs ‘to the worship of God’.

This extends the exclusive competence of the church well beyond her own internal regulation. It includes, for example, any legislation that might be aimed at encouraging worship in its proper form, based on religious truth, and at discouraging what is specifically opposed (such as idolatry or other falsehoods in respect of religion, such as atheism). That does not mean that the church has the authority to adopt any measure at all to restrict or prohibit any form of falsehood in religion. There are moral limitations on what the church can do through coercive law, even for a specifically religious end. One such limit (and not the only one) comes from her jurisdiction, which extends only to the baptised. But the lesson of Immortale Dei is that state lacks a native authority for such legislation altogether.

Storck complains that my reading of interpretive relationes issued at Vatican II by the drafting commission is ‘anachronistic’. But he does not address these relationes in detail. This is not surprising. His peculiar reading of Leo XIII’s political teaching (clearly not shared by the drafting commission) makes no sense of them at all.

Consider this key relatio of September 1965, just before the final vote in November. This relatio invokes the authority of Leo XIII to distinguish two legal orders – an order of religion over which the potestas or coercive authority of the church is sovereign, and the civil order over which the potestas of the state is sovereign. It then states that the right to religious liberty taught by the declaration is based on the fact that sovereignty over religion belongs to the church and not the state:

For the schema [the declaration’s pre-vote draft] rests on the traditional doctrine between a double order of human life, that is sacred and profane, civil and religious. In modern times Leo XIII has wonderfully expounded and developed this doctrine, teaching more clearly than ever before that there are two societies, and so two legal orders, and two coercive authorities [potestates], each divinely constituted but in a different way, that is by natural law and by the positive law of Christ. As the nature of religious liberty rests on this distinction of orders [sicut ratio libertatis religiosae in hac distinctione ordinum nititur], so the distinction provides a means to preserving it against the confusions which history has frequently produced. Vatican II Acta Synodalia 4.1 p193 (my emphasis)

In other relationes the drafting commission repeatedly emphasised that the declaration did not address the authority of the church in the order of religion, but only coercion in the civil order. Consider this relatio, again from September 1965 just before the final vote:

There this question of religious liberty, since it has to do with the civil order, is to be distinguished from other questions which are of a theological order. The first of these is of the nature and extent of that evangelical liberty by which Christ has liberated us (Galatians 5,1); the other has to do with relations between freedom and authority within the Church herself. Vatican II, Acta Synodalia 4.1 p185 (my emphases)

So according to these relationes the declaration is not addressing the sovereign authority of the church over religion, but only liberty and coercion exercised in the civil order, and so under the authority of the state. Since according to Leonine teaching this authority never extends to coercion for religious ends, we have a moral right against all such coercion in the civil order, as the declaration teaches.

The commission’s reliance on Leo XIII to establish a natural right to religious liberty against the state, at least when the state is acting just on its own authority in the civil order, seems intelligible enough. It is clear how ‘the nature of religious liberty’ might indeed rest on Leo XIII’s distinction of potestates and legal orders. But that of course requires that we do indeed take the relationes, and Leo XIII as invoked by them, to be reserving legislative competence over religion in general to the church. The relationes refer, after all, to ‘a legal order of religion’, and not to a ‘legal order of internal ecclesial regulation’.

Now on Storck’s reading that legal order of ‘religion’ from which the state’s own authority is excluded does concern only the church’s internal regulation. Suppose that had been the drafting commission’s meaning. Then according to these relationes, religious liberty would simply be about excluding the state from the church’s regulation of her internal affairs. It would have nothing to do, for example, with the liberty of non-Christians from state restrictions on false worship. This would be an absurd account of the declaration, which teaches a right to religious liberty had not just by the church but by everyone, non-Catholics and non-Christians included, against authority in the civil order.

Given Leo XIII’s evident and fundamental concern for a clear division of legislative competences, it is worth asking which potestas on Storck’s reading of Leo has a sovereign authority to coerce for religious ends? The state or the church? It must at least be the church. Why else does the church regulate herself internally but for a further religious end beyond that regulation – the good of salvation? Moreover it is the superiority of the good for which the church is competent that establishes, for Leo XIII, a superiority of the church as the higher soul over the state as a lower body. But that superior good is clearly not just her internal regulation, which it would be an absurd and clericalist ecclesiasticism to take as in itself the source of the church’s superiority over the state, but the further ends that it serves, namely worship and salvation, precisely the wider good of religion itself. And if the superiority of religion itself as a good is to establish the superiority of the church over the state, the state cannot also have a sovereign competence over that good. Indeed if as well as the church the state were also a potestas competent to direct for the good of religion, we should end up with exactly the conflict of sovereign potestates and the opposing duties they might impose that Immortale Dei sought to exclude.

Storck’s concern that the state somehow share sovereign authority over religion with the church is in one respect unmotivated. His own conception of a legitimate state restriction of religious practices simply does not require the state to have an authority of its own over religion.

Storck supposes that such state restrictions, when legitimate, were always understood and approved of by the church because needed to protect ‘just public order’. Now if this were so, then the restrictions would not be justified by the good of religion. They would be justified by needs of the civil order. To be fully justified, of course, such restrictions would have to avoid undue damage to the good of religion itself. But in protecting just public order their immediate purpose would not be to foster right religion. Just public order has to do with goods other than religion, and legislation in its defence is to protect flourishing and virtue in forms that are not specifically religious. Just public order, as Dignitatis Humanae stated in the passage from paragraph 7 cited above, has to do with ‘the rights of all citizens’ ‘public peace’ and ‘public morality’. Provided the genuine good of religion was not harmed thereby, Catholic theology always allowed the state a native authority just as potestas for the civil order to restrict activities that might be religious in character but that also posed an immediate threat to non-religious goods, and of course this remains the case after Dignitatis Humanae.

So before the council a widely read and respected theologian such as Lucien Choupin (author of a standard and frequently reprinted seminary text within the Francophone world on ecclesial authority) would distinguish between the state’s restriction and punishment of religious activity to defend true religion itself, and the state’s restriction and punishment of religious activity to defend civil society. Both forms of coercion might be legitimate. But in defending true religion the state was acting in the name of the church, while in defending the civil order the state acted in its own name (see Valeur des Décisions Doctrinales et Disciplinaires du Saint-Siège, pp270 and 526). Another interpretive relatio issued by the drafting commission in November 1964 uses the same distinction between state coercion aimed at protecting true religion and at protecting the civil order. In 1964, however, the distinction is not used to endorse state coercion in protection of religious truth, but to oppose it.

This relatio again makes very clear that, on the commission’s understanding, ‘the order of religion’ where the state lacks sovereign authority extends well beyond the internal regulation of the church. The relatio condemns any state restriction of a religious practice just on grounds of its falsehood as nefas, illicit, and illicit specifically because an intrusion by the state ‘into the order of religion’. By contrast the relatio allows that state restriction of religious practice may indeed be justified to protect of goods of the civil order – what the declaration itself refers to as ‘just public order’. So, for example, the state can ban religious practice that involves human sacrifice, not because this is defective just as a form of worship and so specifically offends against the good of religion (which arguably it does) but because as murder human sacrifice is a violation of people’s right to life under natural law:

But the public power so acts in the civil order, not however in the order of religion as such. On the other hand it is not permissible for the public power to restrict the public exercise of any religion by law or governmental action on the basis that this or that religion is judged to be false or that its exercise proceeds from an erroneous conscience or that it harms the good of the Church. For then the public power’s coercive action would intrude into the order of religion as such, which is unlawful (nefas). Vatican II Acta Synodalia 3.8 pp462-3

Of course, if non-Catholic practice and proselytisation are now less likely to disturb public order at the civil level even in Catholic cultures, there will be less justification on that basis for restricting them. But the church did not historically call on the state to restrict false religions simply because they threatened goods of the civil order. The church, for one and a half millennia, called on the state to restrict false religions, at least limiting the exposure to them of the Christian community, just because those religions were false, and as false opposed right worship and endangered salvation.

But now, at Vatican II, it is state restriction of false religions just as false and so on specifically religious grounds that is condemned as nefas or illicit. Storck’s appeal to the state’s role in the civil order and change in what just public order might require misses the point. It simply does not address the glaringly apparent doctrinal discontinuity. In the past the church called on the state coercively to privilege and protect true religion not simply to preserve just public order at the civil level, but because the religion to be protected was true, and was the way to salvation; and similarly to restrict false religion just because it was false and an obstacle to salvation. But now state restriction of religion on these grounds is opposed by the church as nefas.

Such state coercion on religious grounds is not only condemned in this relatio. It is condemned in the final declaration, and for precisely the reason presented in that very explicitly Leonine relatio of September 1965 – that religion exists in a distinct legal order where the state as civil potestas lacks authority:

Furthermore, those private and public acts of religion by which people relate themselves to God from the sincerity of their hearts, of their nature transcend the earthly and temporal levels of reality. So the state, whose peculiar purpose it is to provide for the temporal common good, should certainly recognise and promote the religious life of its citizens. With equal certainty it exceeds the limits of its authority if it takes upon itself to direct or prevent religious activity. Dignitatis Humanae §3 (my emphases)

It is not then change in what the civil order requires, but the state’s identity simply as potestas responsible for that order and not the order of religion, that precludes the state from coercively legislating for religion on its own authority. But the church had already taught this limit to state authority under Leo XIII, as that relatio of September 1965 so clearly emphasised. As I have argued, what changed in 1965 was that the state was no longer being addressed by the church as her actual or potential minister in the order of religion, but only as an independent potestas for the civil order. That was why a state protection and privileging of religious truth could be endorsed by the church in the nineteenth century, but in the twentieth century come to be condemned by her as nefas.

Storck’s inference from a duty to legislate for a certain good to the possession of sovereign authority over that good is clearly invalid. All that a duty to legislate implies is authority to do so. It is quite another question where that authority comes from. A pope addressing states on the presupposition that they are to be Christian may well assert duties on the state to legislate in favour of Catholicism as the true religion that would be beyond the competence of a secular state. So we should beware an inference from a state’s having a duty to pursue a good, even to pursue it through coercive legislation, to that state’s having a sovereign authority of its own over that good.

Of course it is true, and Leo XIII clearly taught, that the religious and civil flourishing of a community are profoundly interconnected, and equally true that Church and state share a common duty to foster the overall flourishing of an entire human community, civil and religious. But Leo XIII also taught teaching that church and state cannot each have sovereign authority over every respect of human flourishing, even though every aspect of human flourishing should be of concern to each, otherwise we would be back with what Leo XIII taught had to be avoided – the dilemma of an irresoluble clash of sovereign authorities and of the inconsistent duties that they might impose.

Storck ignores Leo XIII’s concern with the need to avoid conflict between sovereign authorities, and his teaching of a division of legislative competence to avoid it. That is why Storck so readily infers from some good’s mattering to the flourishing of a community for which an authority is a sovereign to that authority’s having some sovereignty over that good. But this inference really is invalid. There may be some other authority that has the sovereignty, and the two authorities must work together. Counterexamples to the validity of Storck’s inference are legion outside political theology. A state has a sovereign authority over economic activity within its jurisdiction. But economic flourishing within its jurisdiction may depend very much on economic activity elsewhere, and in having a duty to foster the economic wellbeing of its citizens a state may also have a duty to foster the economic flourishing of others in the world. But a state has no jurisdiction in the matter beyond its borders and any attempt to assert such a jurisdiction would simply lead to conflict with other states. So any state must fulfil its duty to the world economy through cooperation with the other states that are sovereign elsewhere.

I have noted that Storck’s own account of why much state restriction of non-Catholic religion was once legitimate did not in fact depend on the state having any authority for religion. His account presupposed only the state’s authority to protect the civil order. In fact his own explanation why we now have a right to religious liberty against the state that we did not previously have actually requires that the state lack an authority of its own for religion.

Why is it wrong for the state to restrict non-Catholic religions when once it was right? On Storck’s account, these religions were once immediately dangerous to civil order, but no longer are. For example, unlike the Calvinists of sixteenth century Lyon, modern Calvinists no longer express themselves religiously by iconoclasm – such as by smashing statuary belonging to Catholics and Catholic institutions. But suppose that beyond its authority to protect the civil order the state did also have an authority of its own to protect true religion. Would not the state remain just as much justified now as in the past in imposing restrictions on false religions, not because they were a threat to civil order, but simply because they were false? In which case why, on Storck’s theory of a native state authority to do just this, would we suddenly have so comprehensive a right to religious liberty against the state?

Leo XIII very importantly teaches that the state is under a duty publicly to profess that Catholicism is true. This is a duty that certainly does not depend on the state’s acting as an agent of the Church. The state has a duty under natural law to acknowledge as true whatever religion God reveals. It is the mere fact of a Catholic revelation that binds the state to acknowledge Catholicism, not any agency relationship to the church. Storck treats this immediate duty on the state to acknowledge Catholicism as implying an equally immediate authority to impose legal obligations in its support. But this simply does not follow. Given that Catholicism has been revealed, the state is indeed under a duty to confess it. But so are we all, even as private individuals, under the same duty. The duty to acknowledge religious truth implies no authority to coerce on its behalf, since it binds those who lack coercive authority altogether.

The state’s duty to acknowledge religious truth certainly does not then presuppose any authority to enforce it. Indeed the opposite is true. A state can impose legal obligations in support of religious truth only if it has first professed it. The state’s authority is public. If a state is to impose legal obligations for some religious end – such as right worship or salvation – that state must publicly admit its purpose to its citizens and defend it to them. Without the prior public profession by the state of the truth that it is supporting, it cannot legitimately impose legal obligations to privilege that truth.

This means that one interpretation Storck gives of my position is not accurate. He claims that on my view Dignitatis Humanae was simply a policy decision by the church. Though the church always has the authority to use states as her agents for the good of religion, in 1965 she decided no longer to do so, and that was what detached states from legislating for religion. Now this may have been part of what happened in some cases – witness the ecclesial pressure under Paul VI and his successors on formerly Catholic states to repeal laws privileging Catholicism over other religions. But it is equally clear that in much of the world by 1965 the church anyway faced a fait accompli, and that the change in church policy was importantly a response to this. Most states were simply no longer prepared to acknowledge Catholicism as true, mainly because they were no longer in any sense political communities of the baptised. So the church no longer had the capacity to employ these states as her religious agents even if she wanted to.

Storck’s view is that no matter the approval of it given by Paul V at the counter-reformation, the political theology of Suarez did not inform Leo XIII’s magisterial teaching and was irrelevant to the subsequent interpretation of that teaching. We have seen that this view is simply not plausible. Unless we understand Leo XIII’s teaching in broadly Suarezian terms, as reserving religion in general to the sovereign authority of the church, we cannot make sense either of the text of Immortale Dei itself or the use made of Leo’s teaching at Vatican II by those drafting Dignitatis Humanae. It should not be surprising then to find that in the period between Immortale Dei and Vatican II Suarez’s political theology was not forgotten counter-reformation history. It was officially approved of and cited right up to Vatican II, certainly not as magisterial teaching in its own right, but as a safe guide to understanding magisterial teaching.

Consider Alfredo Ottaviani’s Compendium iuris publici ecclesiastici, a manual on canon law and ecclesial authority specially abridged for seminary use from Ottaviani’s longer Institutiones. This went into multiple editions up to Vatican II and references here are to the fourth edition of 1954. This standard vade mecum presents Leo XIII’s Immortale Dei as among the most important magisterial teaching about the proper ordering of church and state and presents the political theology of Suarez as an excellent interpretation of that teaching. Far from disapproving of Suarezian political theology as Storck claims, Pius XII had just made this prominent supporter of it both a cardinal and pro-secretary of the Holy Office.[1]

Appealing to Immortale Dei Ottaviani distinguishes between a temporal end served by the state and a spiritual end served by the church. This spiritual end is not some internal church order but lies, exactly as Leo XIII taught, in the worship of God and in salvation. Ottaviani presents this spiritual end as of another and higher order from that served by the state whose own authority extends only to natural goods, namely the protection of rights, the needs of a natural existence and earthly happiness (Compendium p351). The state should protect and support the Church and her mission, but this role implies no state jurisdiction over the spiritual end. Were there such a jurisdiction the state’s role in spiritual matters would be auctoritativa (as it is not) rather than ministerialis (which it is) (Compendium p365). Where religion is concerned, the state is minister rather than potestas. And a state that is not Christian lacks even that ministerial role (Compendium p360).

This doctrine, Ottaviani claims, was taught not by Leo XIII alone, but by popes and general councils throughout the church’s history. He appeals to Suarez’s description of it, as involving a duty of the rulers of a Catholic state to be to be directed by a superior potestas towards the higher end of salvation for which that superior potestas alone is competent. Ottaviani writes of this teaching as one ‘to which Saint Bellarmine and Suarez applied themselves to give polished doctrinal formulation’. ‘Suarez rightly said [the teaching] is a certain and common conclusion for Catholics’ (Compendium p356).

It is hardly surprising then that the commission drafting Dignitatis Humanae expounded Leo XIII’s teaching of the two legal orders, religious and civil, each with its own governing potestas, in (as has become apparent) such very similar terms. The Vatican II conservative Ottaviani and the Vatican II progressives that had charge of the declaration’s drafting were formed and trained within exactly the same theological culture.

The difference between the conservative Ottaviani and the progressives lay not in their shared Leonine understanding of the two legal orders, but in their view of soul-body union and the possibility or even desirability of a continued ministerial role for the state in defence of religious truth.

Storck says there was no sign of a Suarezian understanding of Leonine political teaching at the council because people made no great issue of the church’s role as a religious agent. But it is perfectly clear why the agency role of the state was not central to discussion. For the progressives on the commission, what mattered was the two legal orders, and the removal of religion from the sovereign authority of the state. That secured the moral right to religious liberty in the civil order. The past ministerial role of the state within this juridical structure was regarded by them as history, and irrelevant to the future of church-state relations. For the conservatives what was desirable and necessary was the continued state privileging of Catholicism not just (pace Storck) to protect the civil order, but to protect true religion and salvation. They viewed the abandonment by the state of its support for true religion as very undesirable, and saw any endorsement of this abandonment by the church as itself contrary to historical magisterial teaching, not least that of Leo XIII. Whether the state’s role in defence of true religion was ministerialis rather than auctorativa was not the issue for them. What mattered was the state’s continued fulfilment of that role, and the spiritual need for it.

For some reason Storck treats John Courtney Murray as a decisive authority for the interpretation of the declaration in its final form. But Murray was unusually radical in his rejection of the political teaching of Leo XIII. So far so that he in fact rejected the entire Leonine theology by which from 1964 to the final vote the declaration was being officially explained. He denied the Leonine framework of the two legal orders and two potestates that those drafting the final declaration publicly invoked. The state was the only sovereign coercive authority in human society:

If an authority exists that is empowered to restrain men from public action in accord with their religious beliefs, this authority can reside only in government, which presides over the juridical and social order. “The Declaration on Religious Freedom,” in Vatican II: An Interfaith Appraisal, ed. John H. Miller (Notre Dame, IN: Association Press, 1966), 565–76.

Since the state lacked the authority to coerce for religious ends there was, in his view, no other potestas that possessed it. There was no legal order of religion with its own governing potestas. So of course Murray wanted to understand the right to religious liberty broadly, as holding against all forms of authority. But that does not give his view force against the relationes that at the time of the declaration’s passing very clearly and repeatedly gave an official interpretation of the declaration otherwise. As Yves Congar acknowledged, in 1966, immediately after the council, the coercive authority of the church herself was a ‘distinct question’ which Dignitatis Humanae did not address. In fact even Murray conceded that ‘the conciliar affirmation of the principle of freedom was narrowly limited – in the text.’ But it was that text that became magisterial teaching, not Murray’s opinions.

Other progressives, Maritain and Paul VI included, certainly did not take Murray’s highly revisionary view of the church and her authority. Maritain, who had gained Giovanni Montini, later Paul VI, as an intellectual disciple, thought not only that the church was indeed the coercive potestas for religion but that her past use of the state as her brachium seculare or minister in this sphere had been entirely legitimate. Maritain addressed this use of the state as an ecclesial agent and its past legitimacy very explicitly just before Vatican II in Man and the State. Such use of the state by the church, though once desirable, was in his view no longer spiritually beneficial now. That meant that in his view though Leo XIII’s teaching of the two coercive legal orders with two potestates, civil and religious, was indeed perennially true, the once legitimate appropriation of the state as her minister by the religious potestas was now an outmoded relic. It was of course Paul VI who was in charge when the relationes were presented that interpreted Dignitatis Humanae in terms of this Leonine division of orders, and who continued after the council in papal addresses to emphasise the identity of the church as a coercive potestas, employing stock New Testament proof texts for this conception of the church familiar from the theology of Suarez and Bellarmine. For example in an address in 1970 Paul VI insisted:

The coercive power is also founded on the experience of the primitive Church, and already St Paul was applying it to the Christian community at Corinth (cf I Co 5).

This referred to a passage in which St Paul called for the good of his salvation for a member of the church at Corinth guilty of incest to be ‘handed over to Satan for the destruction of the flesh’ – a passage that Catholic theologians, Suarez included, had long used as scriptural support for the church’s authority (still assumed in the 1983 Code) to impose temporal punishments on the baptised.

It is not surprising that Ottaviani, a leading canonist, held Suarez in such high regard on questions of church and state. The political theology of Suarez long met with official favour because it made especially good sense of the canonical tradition, of which Suarez was one of the leading theological interpreters of his day. So let us now turn to canonical issues. Storck asks for the textual basis for the so long ecclesially supported restrictions on non-Christians, and in particular for their canonical foundation. These restrictions lay especially on Jews and Moslems, who were present in large communities within parts of Christian Europe. These limited their social contact with Christians, forbad prominent sitings of synagogues and mosques in Christian areas, banned Jews and Moslems from public office in Christian states and the like. Our question is not the overall moral defensibility of these restrictions. Many of us now find them morally very objectionable for all sorts of reasons that are not simply to do with questions of jurisdiction between church and state. Our discussion simply concerns the authority under which these restrictions were enacted. Storck questions whether these restrictions could in any way be canonical in basis, since Jews and Moslems as unbaptised were always outside the church’s jurisdiction and unbound by canon law.

The canonical basis for these restrictions is not mysterious or hard to find, and I have already cited it repeatedly in published work. It is to be found within the Corpus Iuris Canonici, such as among the decretals of Gregory IX. This canonical regulation contained with the Corpus may now be defunct. But there can be no doubt that as so contained it is historical canon law.

The juridical force of all this regulation is not mysterious either, once we consider the soul-body model with precision. These restrictions on the conduct of Jews and Moslems were not to force conversions, or to ban the practice of their religions outright, even at the public level, for which there was no authority. These non-Christian religions were practiced by the unbaptised, and so were not a violation of canon law; and as forms of monotheism they did not violate the natural law that based the civil order either. The aim of these restrictions was not to suppress Judaism or Islam as false, but to protect the Christian community by limiting its exposure to non-Christian religious belief and practice. These restrictions were clearly legislated by church authority. Not only do they form part of the canonical Corpus. They consist, for example, in decrees of general councils such as Lateran IV, decrees that do not simply approve of such restrictions, but are clearly instructions addressed to the baptised rulers of Christian states ordering their imposition.

Jews and Moslems as unbaptised were indeed not bound by any canonical obligation imposed by the Church. But they were bound by state jurisdiction and civil law, and it was the law of the state that obligated them to respect the restrictions, not canon law. This is clearly not a problem for the soul-body model, but an illustration of it. Remember that the Christian state was not simply providing the church with coercive force. It was not simply lending police or troops. The Christian state was making its jurisdiction available, for religious ends. And the good of religion justified such restrictions, to the extent they were ever justified, not to enforce the church’s jurisdiction over non-Christians, which did not exist, but to protect the church’s jurisdiction over Christians and the mission served by that jurisdiction. Only the church was able to authorise coercion for this religious end, and her canonical requirement of it could only bind rulers within her jurisdiction – rulers who were themselves baptised. But once the mandated laws were passed the Christian state then provided the jurisdiction that obligated non-Christian observance of them.

To conclude, there is a common pattern to Storck’s misreading of Immortale Dei, his inattention to the continuing reliance up to Vatican II within the official church on the political theology of Suarez, and his failure seriously to engage with the Leonine relationes by which from 1964 the declaration was officially interpreted to the council fathers about to vote on it. Storck treats the state as if it were in effect really the only coercive potestas, at least for all matters save those strictly internal to the church’s own self-regulation.

We now see that this view was certainly not historical church teaching; nor the view of a leading Vatican II conservative such as Ottaviani; nor the view, at least officially, of the leading progressives who took charge of the final drafting of the declaration on religious liberty and its official interpretation; nor the view of Jacques Maritain and his school, to which Paul VI belonged, and at whose bidding Dignitatis Humanae was being thus redrafted and officially explained. That is quite a consensus against Storck, whose striking amnesia regarding historical church teaching about the church as the unique potestas not only for her own regulation but for the good of religion on this earth is unfortunately now all too common among Catholics.

  1. Citing Ci Riesce Storck presents Pius XII as supposedly opposing Suarez. From the passage cited, it is not clear why. Pius XII observes that God may ‘communicate’ a right to the state to restrict religious error. Indeed he might, but this hardly rules out that the right might be communicated via the church to the state as minister. Storck puts weight on Pius talking merely of political rulers being guided by the church in deciding whether to enforce truth, not explicitly of their being subject to ecclesial permission. But the address is clearly not an exact juridical treatise. Pius might effectively be permitting Catholic rulers to use their own political judgment in hard cases on ecclesial advice. If Suarez’s juridically precise account really had been rejected by Pius XII, Ottaviani would certainly not have been presenting Suarez as a sure guide to the magisterium in this area in a standard manual while helping run the Holy Office.

Recent Discussions of Religious Liberty

The forthcoming Portuguese translation of Thomas Storck’s book  Foundations of a Catholic Political Order afforded him the opportunity to rework the Second Appendix of that book to address Professor Thomas Pink’s interpretation of Dignitatis Humanae (previously discussed on The Josias, for instance, here and here). With the author’s gracious permission, we now present Mr. Storck’s response below.

The Editors

As I said in chapter two, I have reserved this Appendix for a fuller discussion of the question of religious liberty. Since the first edition of this book appeared in 1998 there has been considerable discussion and debate on Dignitatis Humanae in English, Italian, German and other languages. Space and other considerations prevent a thorough review of all this material, which is voluminous, but it is necessary to say something about some of the recent commentary on this question.[1]

Before doing so I remind the reader that despite the unequivocal pledge to maintain traditional Catholic doctrine made at the beginning of Dignitatis Humanae, the Declaration does not seem to do so. And some at least of its principal framers definitely intended to create new doctrine and apparently thought they had done so. Moreover, they have managed to convince almost everyone else that they had done so too. But it is not the tone of the document that we must pay attention to, but “to what the writer succeeded in setting down on paper explicitly.”[2] If we can overlook the rhetoric of Dignitatis Humanae and examine its text with care and with correct principles of interpretation, then I think it can be understood in such a way as not to stand in conflict with the earlier teaching.

In an article in the American magazine, Touchstone, Korey D. Maas, a Lutheran, summarizes the state of the Catholic debate on religious liberty for an ecumenical readership.[3] Maas notes that

The Council proceedings made evident the prolonged controversy concerning the discussion of religious liberty, what would become Dignitatis Humanae went through nine drafts and hundreds of interventions, with a vote on the text being postponed until the very conclusion of the Council. The greatest source of controversy was quite simply the belief that the document forwarded a doctrine contrary to dogmatic tradition.

Maas continues, “Unsurprisingly, then, the half-century since Vatican II has witnessed a plethora of attempted—but incompatible—clarifications,” and he points out the existence of “four distinct positions [that] have been articulated” with regard to how Dignitatis Humanae can or cannot be reconciled with previous teaching. The first two simply accept that the Council’s teaching was indeed an innovation, “a repudiation of pre-conciliar doctrine.” But the two positions regard this very differently. “While agreeing that the Declaration signals a rupture with the dogmatic tradition, `traditionalists’ condemn and `progressives’ celebrate this.” The former believe that the Church appears to have repudiated one of her settled teachings, with obviously ominous implications for all of her doctrine, while progressive or liberal Catholics rejoice because they see the Declaration as opening the door to further, and perhaps widespread, doctrinal change.

The remaining two interpretations of Dignitatis Humanae are what Maas calls, first, the neo-conservative view, and secondly, the radical. The first upholds the common understanding of Dignitatis Humanae as a pretty much unequivocal endorsement of religious liberty, and welcomes this affirmation. But, Maas points out, those who uphold this position differ widely in how they deal with the fact of the previous papal teaching, with some arguing that the apparently new teaching was always implicit in the older texts, while others assert that there are sufficient ambiguities in the teaching of previous pontiffs to allow for doctrinal development, or that the earlier teaching was not “dogmatic in nature…[and] merely represented temporary and mutable policy preferences….”

Finally, Maas concludes, the radical view sees the traditional pre-conciliar teaching as authoritative and the Council’s Declaration as “ambiguous. If it is to be understood as authoritative, then certain of its interpretations must be corrected to harmonize with the pre-conciliar tradition.”

Among those upholding this fourth position, Maas mentions the present writer along with John Lamont, Fr. Thomas Crean and Professor Thomas Pink of King’s College, London. It is the latter, however, whose views lately seem to have made considerable headway among those inclined to this kind of solution. I find Professor Pink’s approach unconvincing, however, and I will set forth briefly my objections to it here.

The key point in Pink’s method of dealing with the apparent discrepancy between Dignitatis Humanae and earlier papal teaching is his claim that the previous doctrine dealt not with the state’s inherent right or duty to restrict non-Catholic religious activity for the sake of the common good, but with the Church’s right to do so, at least with regard to the baptized. What Dignitatis Humanae does, therefore, is to withdraw an earlier authorization given to the civil authorities to restrain or coerce the baptized, on behalf of the Church, but it does not concern the Church’s own rights in this area, which remain as before. Thus the Declaration becomes a policy statement, withdrawing a power granted to the state by the Church. But since this grant of authority by the Church to the secular powers was always in principle revocable, Dignitatis Humanae does not constitute any change of doctrine, simply a change of policy.

While Professor Pink does well to call attention to the Church’s own rights over her subjects—that is, all the baptized—and is correct that this point is often overlooked, this in no way denies that the state may also have certain indirect rights in the religious sphere, insofar as this sphere concerns the preservation of the common good, for in fact it is impossible in practice to separate the temporal good of man entirely from his religious activity. By refocusing the argument exclusively around the Church’s rights and authority, Professor Pink has neglected the numerous passages in which a certain authority to safeguard and promote Catholic practice and to restrict non-Catholic religious conduct is seen as proper to the state’s own duties and rights.

Professor Pink has drawn from his studies on earlier Catholic thinkers, particularly Suárez and Bellarmine, to support his thesis. But whatever positions those earlier thinkers took on this matter, and no matter how much any of their writings may have been esteemed by any of the sovereign pontiffs, or even “commissioned by” any of them,[4] still such writings are not part of the Church’s magisterial teaching, and even if they do reflect the thinking of any particular pope, that does not make them part of the Church’s doctrine.[5] Lastly, if Professor Pink wishes to confine the power of dealing with religious matters solely to the Church, with the state’s authority in this area seen merely as something granted by the Church, it is not clear how he can explain the rights of the state to regulate religious activity on the part of unbaptized persons, over whom the Church has no rights whatsoever. Let us look at each of these points in order.

It seems clear from Pope Leo’s oft repeated assertions of the state’s duty toward the true Faith that he did teach that the state itself has a certain care for the religious life of its citizens, inasmuch as this affects the common good. This is not a mere grant of authority by which the state acts on behalf of the Church. I think that any common-sense interpretation of the following quotations from Leo’s encyclicals will bear out this claim.

So, too, is it a sin in the State not to have care for religion, as a something beyond its scope, or as of no practical benefit; or out of many forms of religion to adopt that one which chimes in with the fancy; for we are bound absolutely to worship God in that way which He has shown to be His will. All who rule, therefore, should hold in honor the holy name of God, and one of their chief duties must be to favor religion, to protect it, to shield it under the credit and sanction of the laws, and neither to organize nor enact any measure that may compromise its safety. This is the bounden duty of rulers to the people over whom they rule.

Immortale Dei, no. 6.

But, to justify [liberty of worship], it must needs be taken as true that the State has no duties toward God, or that such duties, if they exist, can be abandoned with impunity, both of which assertions are manifestly false. For it cannot be doubted but that, by the will of God, men are united in civil society; whether its component parts be considered; or its form, which implies authority; or the object of its existence; or the abundance of the vast services which it renders to man. God it is who has made man for society, and has placed him in the company of others like himself, so that what was wanting to his nature, and beyond his attainment if left to his own resources, he might obtain by association with others. Wherefore, civil society must acknowledge God as its Founder and Parent, and must obey and reverence His power and authority. Justice therefore forbids, and reason itself forbids, the State to be godless; or to adopt a line of action which would end in godlessness- namely, to treat the various religions (as they call them) alike, and to bestow upon them promiscuously equal rights and privileges. Since, then, the profession of one religion is necessary in the State, that religion must be professed which alone is true, and which can be recognized without difficulty, especially in Catholic states….

Libertas, no. 21

Men have a right freely and prudently to propagate throughout the State what things soever are true and honorable, so that as many as possible may possess them; but lying opinions, than which no mental plague is greater, and vices which corrupt the heart and moral life, should be diligently repressed by public authority, lest they insidiously work the ruin of the State.

Libertas, no 23.

Yet, with the discernment of a true mother, the Church weighs the great burden of human weakness, and well knows the course down which the minds and actions of men are in this our age being borne. For this reason, while not conceding any right to anything save what is true and honest, she does not forbid public authority to tolerate what is at variance with truth and justice, for the sake of avoiding some greater evil, or of obtaining or preserving some greater good…. But if, in such circumstances, for the sake of the common good (and this is the only legitimate reason), human law may or even should tolerate evil, it may not and should not approve or desire evil for its own sake; for evil of itself, being a privation of good, is opposed to the common welfare which every legislator is bound to desire and defend to the best of his ability.

Libertas, no. 33.

[T]he more a State is driven to tolerate evil, the further is it from perfection; and that the tolerance of evil which is dictated by political prudence should be strictly confined to the limits which its justifying cause, the public welfare, requires.

Libertas, no. 34.

Professor Pink quotes Immortale Dei, that “it is the Church, and not the State, that is to be man’s guide to heaven” (no. 11), and “Whatever, therefore, in things human is of a sacred character, whatever belongs…to the salvation of souls or to the worship of God, is subject to the power and judgment of the Church” (no. 13). But in view of the quotations from Leo that are set out immediately above, it seems clear that the sweeping conclusion that he draws from these quotations is not justified, namely, that “according to Leo XIII, in matters of religion the Church is the only authority with the right to coerce.”[6] Moreover, even without reference to the Leonine statements about the state’s duties in this area, the attentive reader will see that Leo is not saying anything regarding state coercion or authority in religious matters in the two quotes from Immortale Dei that Professor Pink adduces. Rather, Leo is pointing out that it is the Church’s task to lead us to heaven, and that her internal affairs – her worship and teaching, for example – are solely her concern, not the state’s. Moreover, we should recall that in the discussion of the state’s rights to regulate religious activity on behalf of the common good, we are chiefly or only looking at the activity of non-Catholics, to whom no divine mandate has been given to care for the religious life of mankind at all.

In addition to those passages which I have quoted, there is one more which it seems necessary to mention, the address of Pius XII, Ci Riesce, to the Union of Italian Catholic Jurists of December 6, 1953. Speaking of the authority of the state, Pius asks,

Could it be that in certain circumstances [God] would not give men any mandate, would not impose any duty, and would not even communicate the right to impede or to repress what is erroneous and false? A look at things as they are gives an affirmative answer.

no. 17.

The Pope is speaking here of political authority, as the whole address makes clear, and the point of the discussion is whether at times God might not “communicate the right to impede or to repress what is erroneous and false.” It is simply assumed here that at times God does communicate such a right, and nowhere in the text is there the slightest suggestion that this is a matter of a grant of authority on the part of the Church. In fact, a few paragraphs later, Pius XII states that it is “the Catholic statesman [who] must judge if this condition [calling for toleration] is verified in the concrete,” although he also notes that such a statesman will seek the “guidance,” but, note, not the permission, of the Church in making such a decision on behalf of the toleration of what is objectively evil.

Since Pius XII speaks of occasions when God might “not even communicate the right to impede or to repress what is erroneous and false,” obviously this cannot be a reference to the rights of the Church in this area, for the authority which the Church possesses over her own subjects is not something which is granted by God only according to circumstances, but is always present.

With regard to unbaptized persons, Professor Pink asserts the Church’s right to some authority over them.

But the Church still has the authority to use coercion to defend her jurisdiction against those unbaptized who interfere from without, proselytizing on behalf of false religions.[7]

He provides no text to support this view, however. While it is certainly the case that the state was traditionally seen as having such powers over its unbaptized citizens, as part of the state’s care of the common good, it is hard to see how such a right could belong to the Church herself, and hence be delegated by the Church to the state.

Finally, Professor Pink asserts that Dignitatis Humanae absolutely forbids state intrusion into the religious realm.

[B]ecause the good of religion does altogether transcend the authority of the state, our right not to be coerced by the state where the good of religion alone is at stake admits of no exceptions. The state cannot restrict our liberty for specifically religious ends, to protect religious truth, or simply for people’s religious good.[8]

But in fact Dignitatis Humanae is not so absolute in its teaching as Pink maintains. In addition to the well-known exceptions based on “due limits” and the “just requirements of public order” (no. 2) there is the far more important but often neglected statement in no. 7 that “the common good of all” is one of the factors to be taken into account with regard to the state’s care of religious conduct. In fact it was the common good that was traditionally seen as the chief factor that ought to guide the civil authorities in their legislation on religious matters.

Of course the state authorities do not exercise their powers in a vacuum. Catholic rulers must learn their religion from the Church, just as anyone else. But the authority that they hold for the sake of the common good to regulate the public religious activity of non-Catholics, and to protect and promote the Catholic faith, is not based on a grant of authority given by the Church, but is part of the “bounden duty of rulers to the people over whom they rule.”

Professor Pink also quotes a number of the relationes or official explanations of the meaning of Dignitatis Humanae given to the Council Fathers during their deliberations on the text, and claims that these explanations support his interpretation of what the Council was doing.[9] He points out that they emphasize the fact that Dignitatis Humanae concerns only religious freedom in the civil order, and not in the Church. This, he argues, confirms his position that the Council’s Declaration was merely the withdrawal of a prior permission granted to the state to enforce the Church’s rights over her own baptized subjects. But I think that this is an anachronistic reading of these statements. During and after the Council there was discussion of whether or how far the (presumed) teaching of Dignitatis Humanae might affect the freedom of a Catholic vis-à-vis the Church. Thus John Courtney Murray, in his introduction to Dignitatis Humanae for the Abbott edition of the Council’s documents, wrote,

[T]hough the Declaration deals only with the minor issue of religious freedom in the technical secular sense, it does affirm a principle of wider import – that the dignity of man consists in his responsible use of freedom. Some of the conciliar Fathers – not least those opposed to the Declaration – perceived that a certain indivisibility attaches to the notion of freedom… The conciliar affirmation of the principle of freedom was narrowly limited – in the text. But the text itself was flung into a pool whose shores are wide as the universal Church. The ripples will run far.

Inevitably, a second great argument will be set afoot…. The children of God…assert it within the Church as well as in the world….[10]

Although Fr. Murray’s remarks do concern the Church’s rights and authority over her members, they do so not in the sense that Professor Pink believes. That is, they are not concerned with a grant of power to the civil authorities, but with questions such as whether a Catholic has a right to dissent from Church teaching, for example. No one at the time raised the question of the state acting as agent for the Church to coerce its citizens in religious matters.[11]

Before concluding I will deal briefly with Professor Pink’s comments on my own and similar positions.[12]. He writes,

It is…remarkable that so many authors attempt to reconcile Dignitatis Humanae with the pre-conciliar magisterium by appealing to the just public order exception. These authors claim that in the Catholic societies of the past, non-Catholic religious activity and proselytization in the public sphere…did once threaten just public order as it might not be threatened now, and then suggest that the Catholic magisterium was calling on the state to restrict such activity just on that account.

Professor Pink then quotes me to the effect that

“just requirements of public order,” the “due limits,” and considerations of the rights of others and of the common good vary considerably from society to society, and in a society overwhelmingly and traditionally Catholic they could easily include restrictions, and even an outright prohibition, on the public activities of non-Catholic sects, particularly their proselytizing activities.

Professor Pink responds to the position of myself and of other authors holding similar views, as follows,

But this is to misunderstand the Church’s past conception of the state’s role when privileging Catholicism – which was primarily to protect the spiritual good of its citizens, and not simply to protect just public order under civil and social conditions very different from those of the present. The state’s coercive role was to protect the Church and her mission as essential to the supreme spiritual good of salvation, and not just to protect the civil order.

I find this comment odd, for I do not understand how “the spiritual good of its citizens” can be separated from “public order.” As I said above, it is impossible to separate the temporal good of mankind – which is directly under the care of the state – from our eternal destiny, for the two are interwoven, as the first chapter of this book illustrates again and again.

Moreover, the fact that “previous teaching justified not only restrictions on the public activity of false religions, but also coercing heretics to return to the true faith” is not at issue here, as the latter was clearly a power of the Church, and insofar as the Church sought the support of the state in implementing it, this was indeed an example of the Church asking the assistance of the civil powers, and in effect, delegating a certain authority to them. The fact that the Church’s powers over heretics are more far-reaching than those possessed by the state does not mean that the state has no duties of its own in the religious sphere, however.

To sum up my argument, then: Man has a right, in the political order, to religious freedom.[13] This is affirmed by Dignitatis Humanae, and in the context of that Declaration this assertion might seem to be at variance with the earlier teaching. But this is not really the case. For, as Dignitatis Humanae itself asserts in no. 7, the exercise of this freedom is limited by the concerns of the common good, a teaching reaffirmed by the Catechism of the Catholic Church (nos. 1738 and 2109). Thus, since the common good differs from one social situation to another, as the Catechism also points out (no. 2109), the degree of religious liberty rightly permitted to non-Catholics differs from one social situation to another. In overwhelmingly and traditional Catholic societies, we may rightly see public non-Catholic religious activity, especially proselytizing, as contrary to the common good, though non-Catholics would still enjoy their right to the private exercise of their religion, for example, in their own homes. Thus non-Catholics would always enjoy a political right to religious liberty, but the “due limits” which a state must place on this right “must be determined for each social situation by political prudence, according to the requirements of the common good….”[14]

The foundation of the de facto practice of allowing non-Catholics private religious liberty was not altogether clear in the earlier teaching. Did they have any kind of right to such liberty or was it merely something tolerated for the sake of the common good and peace of the society as a whole? But while this aspect of the teaching was undeveloped, the relevant pre-Vatican II papal documents never excluded the notion of a right of religious liberty for non-Catholics in certain circumstances. For example, in the Syllabus of Errors (no. 78), Pius IX condemned the “public exercise” of non-Catholic religions in Catholic states. And as I quoted above, in Ci Riesce, Pius XII says that God “would not even communicate the right” to restrict non-Catholic religious activity in some circumstances. Thus I do not think it is contradictory to say that there could be a right (in the political order) to religious liberty for non-Catholics, the exercise of which right, like all others, is subject to the exigencies of the common good. Thus non-Catholics would always have a right to private religious activity, and where they are a majority or a large or traditional minority or otherwise where the common good indicates, they also have a right to at least some public religious freedom. But, on the other hand, in Catholic nations the common good would usually indicate limitation, at least to some extent, of their public religious acts. This position, I think, is perfectly consistent both with the earlier teaching and with Dignitatis Humanae. It is true that Dignitatis Humanae emphasizes the right to religious freedom, but it contains sufficient in the way of limitations to make it compatible with that “traditional Catholic teaching” it undertook to develop, while at the same time, like all true doctrinal development, leaving what came before “intact.” Thus Dignitatis Humanae‘s contribution to the development of doctrine may be seen to lie in its giving the religious liberty of non-Catholics a firmer theological foundation, i.e., pointing out that their liberty is likewise founded on right. But note that their religious liberty is not the same as the exercise of that liberty, which is limited by the requirements of the common good, as Dignitatis Humanae itself clearly states in no. 7.

  1. In the United States the debate on religious liberty has been largely subsumed in recent years into a larger and more fundamental controversy about the relationship between Catholicism and the classical liberal tradition.

  2. William G. Most, “Religious Liberty: What the Texts Demand,” Faith & Reason, vol. 9, no. 3, fall 1983, p. 198. Emphasis author’s.

  3. “Can We Hang Together?” Touchstone, A Journal of Mere Christianity, vol. 31, issue 6, November/December 2018, pp. 52-7.

  4. Professor Pink speaks of Suárez’s work, Defensio Fidei Catholicae as being “commissioned by Paul V and directed against James I of England.” Thomas Pink, “Conscience and Coercion,” First Things, August/September 2012, pp. 46-7.

  5. We might compare such endorsements with the praise that Pope Benedict XV gave to Fr. Augustine Roesler’s World War I era book, Die Frauenfrage, which the Pope described as “a book…in which [readers] might safely and thoroughly and clearly discover what they should think of the social position of women according to the laws of the Catholic religion.” (Quoted in William B. Faherty, The Destiny of Modern Woman in the Light of Papal Teaching, Westminster : Newman Press, 1950, p. 63.) Yet no one today would consider a Catholic as bound by Fr. Roesler’s opinions on the civil status or social role of women.

  6. Pink, “Conscience and Coercion,” p. 47.

  7. Pink, “Conscience and Coercion,” p. 47.

  8. Thomas Pink, “Dignitatis Humanae: continuity after Leo XIII,” Available on academia.edu, p. 1.

  9. Thomas Pink, “Dignitatis Humanae: continuity after Leo XIII,” pp. 15ff.

  10. Walter Abbott, ed., The Documents of Vatican II, (New York : Guild Press, 1966), pp. 673-4.

  11. See also, for example, the address to the Council of Bishop Emile De Smedt on November 19, 1963, introducing the draft on religious liberty, which at the time was still a part of the ecumenical schema. (Vatican Council II, Acta Synodalia, vol. II, periodus 2, pars V, pp. 485-95. Reprinted and translated in Council Daybook, Vatican II, Session 1, Session 2, edited by Floyd Anderson, Washington : National Catholic Welfare Conference, 1965, pp. 277-82.)

    Also see the address of John Courtney Murray on September 15, 1965 at the Dutch Documentation Center in Rome on the pending religious liberty schema. Nowhere in his speech is there the slightest hint of the meaning of the text that Professor Pink advocates. Fr. Murray reviews the teaching of Leo XIII, focusing exclusively on Leo’s conception of the state, its rulers and whether they possess a patria potestas over their subjects, etc. But no reference to what Professor Pink claims was the point at issue. (Reprinted in Council Daybook, Vatican II, Session 4, edited by Floyd Anderson, Washington : National Catholic Welfare Conference, 1966, pp. 14-17.)

  12. Thomas Pink, “Dignitatis Humanae: continuity after Leo XIII,” Available on academia.edu Quotes are from pp. 3ff.

  13. Clearly there can be no moral right to embrace error, only a political right to be free of external restraint on the part of the state.

  14. Catechism of the Catholic Church, no. 2109.

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.

The Josias Podcast, Episode XXVIII: Socialism (Part 2)

The debate on socialism continues, with Pater Edmund playing the socialist and Alan Fimister taking the anti-socialist side. Joel is joined by Chris to moderate the discussion.

Bibliography and Links

Leo XIII, Rerum novarum (1891)

Pius XI, Quadragesimo anno (1931)

Ernest Fortin, “Sacred and Inviolable: Rerum Novarum and Natural Rights

Karl Marx, Theories of Surplus Value, ch. 9

Beatrice Freccia, “Aristotle’s Account of the Relationship of the Household to the State

Charles De Koninck, “The End of the Family and the End of Civil Society

Jacques de Monléon, “Short Notes on the Family and the City

Scott Meikle, “Aristotle and Exchange Value

Tři oříšky pro Popelku

Music: Prokofiev – Cinderella Suite – Cinderella’s Waltz

Header Image: “Das ist eine wunderschöne Wiese

If you have questions or comments, please send them to editors(at)thejosias.net.

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Many thanks to our generous supporters on Patreon, who enable us to pay for podcast hosting. If you have not yet joined them, please do so. You can set up a one-time or recurring donation in any amount. Even $1 a month would be splendid.

John Zmirak’s Liberalism

In a piece written a number of years ago and in another more recent offering John Zmirak purports to explain the folly of integralism and to propound instead a doctrine fit for ‘patriotic Christians’ which reconciles liberalism in its true sense with the creed of Catholics. The first objection to Zmirak’s patriotic Christianity is his overt endorsement of liberalism. No Catholic is free to embrace liberalism. Zmirak does not mean by liberalism support for democratic institutions but he very explicitly means by the term precisely the error condemned by the Church’s magisterium. Liberalism purports to advocate a public sphere and constitutional order which prescinds from questions of revealed truth and rests solely upon reason. This posture is disingenuous and is firmly condemned as nothing less than Satanic by Leo XIII in his great encyclical Libertas. For, as the Catechism of the Catholic Church explains  “every institution is inspired, at least implicitly, by a vision of man and his destiny, from which it derives the point of reference for its judgment, its hierarchy of values, its line of conduct.” In rejecting its obligations of public worship the liberal state becomes necessarily totalitarian in form and hedonistic in content. As St John Paul II observed “the rights of God and man stand or fall together” and as he said of the teaching of Leo XIII in Libertas it “called attention to the essential bond between human freedom and truth, so that freedom which refused to be bound to the truth would fall into arbitrariness and end up submitting itself to the vilest of passions, to the point of self-destruction.” This is the social order that reigns today and for which Zmirak insists, contrary to the teaching of John Paul II and Leo XIII, liberalism cannot be held accountable. Let there be no doubt it is the Satanic doctrine condemned in Libertas which John Zmirak expressly espouses.

Continue reading “John Zmirak’s Liberalism”

From Steam Engines to the Singularity: How the Technological Spirit of (Classical) Liberalism Remakes Man in its Own Image

by Deion A. Kathawa*

“God blessed them, saying: ‘Be fertile and multiply; fill the earth and subdue it.  Have dominion over the fish of the sea, the birds of the air, and all the living things that move on the earth.’ ”

–Gen. 1:28

“For just as in affairs of state we see a man’s mettle and the secret sense of his soul and affections better when he is under pressure than at other times, so nature’s secrets betray themselves more through the vexations of art than they do in their usual course . . .  I also think that it does not matter much for mankind’s well being [sic] what abstract opinions you hold about nature and the principles of things . . .  On the contrary, my object is to see whether I can really lay firmer foundations for human power and prestige, and to extend their bounds yet wider.”

–Francis Bacon

In the last few years, a debate about the desirability and sustainability of classical liberalism—the West’s regnant governing ideology—has migrated from obscure corners of the internet into the edges, at least, of the general public’s consciousness.[1]  Since, much ink has been spilled assessing whether various sorts of “post-liberal” systems[2] are compatible with what many take to be classical liberalism’s core—and highly desirable—features: “constitutionalism, the rule of law, rights and privileges of citizens, separation of powers, the free exchange of goods and services in markets, and federalism.”[3]  But because those things “are to be found in medieval thought,”[4] we are free to retain and refine them while simultaneously identifying and rejecting classical liberalism’s errors and excesses.[5]  At its core, “[classical] liberalism is constituted by a pair of . . . anthropological assumptions that give liberal institutions a particular orientation and cast: 1) anthropological individualism and the voluntarist conception of choice, and 2) human separation from and opposition to nature.”[6]  These assumptions are properly understood as “revolutions in the understanding of human nature and society.”[7]  And yet, relatively little effort has been expended to trace and understand the effects of classical liberalism’s second core feature—i.e., Man’s alienation from the natural world, driven by a technological mindset—on the human soul.

Continue reading “From Steam Engines to the Singularity: How the Technological Spirit of (Classical) Liberalism Remakes Man in its Own Image”

The Josias Podcast, Episode XXVII: Socialism (Part 1)

Alan Fimister comes on the podcast to debate socialism with Pater Edmund. For the purposes of the debate, Pater Edmund takes the socialist side, arguing that the injustices of modern capitalism, which orders all things to the private interests of capitalists, requires the adoption of socialism to subordinate economic matters to the common good of the political community. Alan Fimister takes the anti-socialist side, arguing that the individual and the family are prior to the state, and have the antecedent duty and right to provide for their subsistence, which requires private property. The debate is moderated (not entirely impartially) by Joel: There are no rules.

Bibliography and Links

Leo XIII, Rerum novarum (1891).

Pius XI, Quadragesimo anno (1931).

W. Borman, “Thomism and Private Property,” The Josias (2017).

Thomas Crean and Alan Fimister, Integralism: A manual of political philosophy (2020).

David Graeber, Debt: The First 5000 Years (2011).

Henri Grenier, “The Lawfulness and Social Character of Private Ownership,” The Josias (2015).

C.W. Strand, “A Catholic Socialism,” Tradinista! (2016).

Edmund Waldstein, O.Cist., “Use Values and Corn Laws, Aristotelian Marxists and High Tories,” Sancrucensis, 2015.

Edmund Waldstein, O.Cist., “Dialogue with a Catholic Leftist,” Sancrucensis (2016).

Edmund Waldstein, O.Cist., “Robin Hood Economics: How should the wealth of the world be distributed?Plough, 2019.

Music: Дми́трий Шостако́вич, Jazz Suite No.2 – 6. Waltz II.

Header Image: New Harmony, Indiana, as proposed by Robert Owen. Engraving by F. Bate, 1838.

If you have questions or comments, please send them to editors(at)thejosias.net.

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Many thanks to our generous supporters on Patreon, who enable us to pay for podcast hosting. If you have not yet joined them, please do so. You can set up a one-time or recurring donation in any amount. Even $1 a month would be splendid.

St. Thomas Becket, Integralist

On December 29, the Church celebrates the feast of St. Thomas Becket, Archbishop of Canterbury and martyr.

St. Thomas Becket, like all true saints, endorsed the Gelasian proposition that the civil authority has no right to interfere in matters conferred exclusively by Christ to the Catholic Church.  Although the saint is often commemorated as a defender of “religious liberty,” he was martyred specifically for defending the libertas Ecclesiae, or the liberty of the Catholic Church.

In a statement to King Henry II, St. Thomas asserted that “God willed . . . that those things which must be administered by his Church pertain to his priests, not to secular powers, which if they are faithful, he willed rather to be subject to the priests of his Church.” Furthermore, he declared that the “Christian religion [is] to be ordered and examined” by bishops and priests, not by secular powers. Temporal rulers, he went on, ought to subject their own policy preferences to the bishops of the Church in matters of spiritual jurisdiction. In support, he cited Gratian’s Decretum which set forth that civil authorities “ought not give judgment concerning bishops.”

For St. Thomas, the purpose of the distinction between temporal and spiritual power was to allow the Catholic Church to exercise, without impediment, its jurisdiction over spiritual matters and to direct civil power toward its perfective end, the common good, and to censure its bearers with spiritual and temporal punishments should they deviate from this proper ordering.

The saint was ultimately martyred for defending Gelasian Dyarchy, that is Integralism, from an overreaching civil authority. St. Thomas Becket’s example is critical for us today in a time when liberal regimes worldwide seek to regulate the administration of the sacraments and even define the nature of authentic worship. Just think of all the judges and governors—effectively banning the Mass—telling us that private worship is the same as public worship whilst exempting various secular purposes.

As the Trump administration’s proclamation commemorating St. Thomas’s feast day put it: “A society without religion cannot prosper. A nation without faith cannot endure—because justice, goodness, and peace cannot prevail without the Grace of God.” On this feast day, Catholics, adherents of the true religion and faith, should imitate the example of St. Thomas Becket, who died defending the rights of the Church and subjecting all things, including the political order, to Christ.

Dan Whitehead

The Need for an Integral Approach to Music

By Vincent Clarke

What would art look like in a society that had successfully revived true Christian culture? To answer this question is, in a sense, to begin a long process of confirming the speculation. Answering this question orients us toward creating the very art that we wish to see. Music seems to be the best medium to approach. Unlike, say, painting it has become more, not less prevalent in the modern world than it had been in the past. It is at once the most instinctual and the most complex of the artforms, and for this reason it is both popular and infinitely diverse.

One key problem facing us when we ask this question is: whose music? In Christianized culture music has typically fallen into three categories: highbrow, liturgical, and popular. Often these have overlapped. J. S. Bach is both highbrow and liturgical; John Dowland is both liturgical and popular. But the distinctions are sufficient to draw something of worth out of the material. They will guide us in what follows.

Liturgy, Avant Garde, and the Merely Christian

To ask what a revival of liturgical music might look like requires little imagination because it is already taking place. In October 2016, Pope Francis sat for an Aramaic interpretation of the Our Father sung by a priest and a small girl to reflect the pain of the Syrians and the Iraqis. This was one of the most profound musical events in recent memory. The video on YouTube has over 5 million views. The Pope fell into a deep meditation. The whole event was enveloped by a sort of spirit of the ancient. This is striking to the viewer, who feels that they are being sucked back in time to a small, newly formed Christian sect in the fifth century. Yet if you listen to the singing there is something strangely modern about it. Perhaps it is the effective use of drone that makes it at once old and modern—a technique that found favor with some of the better avant garde artists in the 20th century. 

This seems the most promising path for new developments in liturgical music: to embrace forgotten musical techniques and, rather than simply aspiring to European medievalism, seeking to fuse various developments, various taproots in the Christian canon into a harmonious whole. That goes for Protestant developments too; if the Catholic Church has always been willing to take what is good in pagan culture and develop it, then the likes of Bach should not be off limits.

Likewise, Christianized highbrow music is already with us. The modernist movement in highbrow music has totally collapsed. ‘Sophisticated people,’ it would seem, could only pretend that the onanism of Schoenberg and his followers was impressive for so long. A video from a decade ago of an aged Yoko Ono screaming into a microphone in front of an audience of gullible people also has over 5 million views on YouTube. It also has 50,000 dislikes against 26,000 likes, and the comments are mostly people making fun of the video. As the baby boomers age, their cultural products rapidly become self-parodies. Their most devoted children, the under-40s who are trying to maintain their crumbling establishment, still pay lip service to this muck but when they get home from their climate summit, they typically turn on the latest hits. Or, if they have a semblance of taste, possibly some classical standards.

Unfortunate young people who study music under those that promote modernism typically turn to contorted fusionist attempts to incorporate ‘underground’ popular ‘music’ like Dubstep into the highbrow repertoire. No one pays attention, although the grants keep flowing. At best, these crossovers into subcultural garbage produce YouTube sensations. But these show up clearly the severe limits of the musical forms that we are dealing with. Consider a dubstep rendition of Beethoven’s Für Elise by the ‘artist’ Klutch. It is almost comical to listen to—although the YouTube video has attracted over 49 million people who either have fantastic senses of humor or awful musical taste. Mr. Klutch has chosen Für Elise for the simple reason that it has a catchy hook. Since dubstep is basically the repetition and modulation of an underlying hook, the crossover just about “works” in a technical sense. But the piece loses everything else that makes it interesting. It is not allowed to develop or to go anywhere. The hook is simply repeated over and over again. 

Since these crossovers are obviously unproductive a priori, and creative people have realized the dead-end of Schoenbergian modernism, true artists seem to have shunted back onto the Christian track. From the haunting hymns of Arvo Pärt to the exotic rhythms of Jordi Savall, the motifs are familiar to anyone accustomed to classical and renaissance canons. Pärt’s rendition of Salve Regina has nearly 3 million views on YouTube, although from the comments it seems that many listeners are not aware that they are listening to a prayer rather than film music. His Fratres is unspeakably brilliant and is recognizably of our time. This is not a simple throwback or a nostalgic recreation; a Renaissance-era listener would have found Fratres baffling. It’s oscillation between violent, jolting assaults of violin and ephemeral, spiritually uplifting landscapes is utterly strange and perfectly modern and suited to the modern world. If anything in highbrow music has a chance of developing, it is this.

No Masses Breed Suffering Masses

The most difficult genre to imagine in a Christianized society is undoubtedly popular music. Yet it is, in a sense, the most important. Popular music forms popular consciousness. It promotes the virtues of the population or, in sadly decadent societies like our own, the vices. Music hits the mood directly and uplifts or degrades us accordingly. 

Contemporary rap and hip-hop music, for example, are designed to degrade. Whereas earlier iterations mixed upbeat rhythms with degrading lyrical content, contemporary iterations drop the upbeat rhythms in favor of dreary and repetitive beats. One of the most popular songs in this new genre is Gucci Gang by Lil Pump (1 billion views on youtube!). The song is hilarious—a real bellyacher—and the video puts it well over the top. There is no point in highlighting here the infantile simplicity of its lyrics or its borderline self-parody of crude consumerism. What is fascinating is that it performs a sort of reductio ad absurdum on pop music itself. Pop music, of course, relies on crude hooks to catch the attention of listeners. Trap music pushes this to the next step where it inserts strange vocal utterances that sound like they are from a child’s cartoon—I would almost advise the listener to try it out for themselves, no description can capture it—and uses these as additional catches. But this ‘gagagoogoo’ is presented against a dark and bleak backdrop, where the music sounds like it is pulling the listener into a depressive spiral. This is not the melancholy of Schubert’s Der Doppelganger—and, take caution, even such Romantic excesses are (at least in the opinion of this writer) dangerous for the soul— no, this is degradation pure and simple. This is not the melancholy of the frustrated lover; this is the suicidal nihilism of the opium-eater, mixed with the morality of the mugger.

This aspect of the music is perhaps best considered with reference to one of the better—although I use the word with trepidation—iterations in this new popular music subgenres: Mask Off by Future (440 million views!). This is a piece of culture worth taking more seriously than the dross of Gucci Gang, but it is not much the better for it. Whereas Gucci Gang is almost humorous in its unselfconscious self-parody of itself, Mask Off is quite honest about what it is. Mask Off discusses a life that comprises using opiates, hitting the gym, and sleeping with women. The limited, almost hellishly repetitive lifestyle described (completely uncritically) in the song is perfectly accompanied by the musical content. The song uses a repeating flute hook to pull the listener in. But behind it is an extremely downbeat sublayer that, as with Gucci Gang, leaves the listener feeling lost and despondent—as if he or she has fallen into a blackhole. The effect is impressive. If you allow yourself, you will certainly be moved by the song. But you will not be tapped into a deeper emotional substratum. If you listen closely, you will just feel dirty and hopeless.

It is remarkable that this music is truly popular. It sounds more like a subgenre for depressed teens or avant garde oddballs rather than the ‘Top Ten’ content it apparently is. But its popularity shows the almost infinite malleability of popular consciousness; something that has become increasingly apparent with the spread of bizarre ideologies in television shows and on streaming services. People, it would seem, really will swallow anything—even if it makes them feel ill. The rampant use of disgusting pornography and the increasingly popular consumption of certain drugs that, until recently, would have been the preserve of only hardened junkies is almost certainly behind this willingness to consume poison and slop.

Pray for the Conversion From Russia

It makes sense that liturgical music is seeing a revival. True Christianity is seeing a revival, as evidenced by the very medium that I am publishing in. So, it is not hard to see why the same people revising true Christianity are also interested in liturgical revival. The revival of highbrow music is less immediately obvious. But the impulse that is giving rise to the return to true Christianity is likely driving the changes in highbrow music. The alternative is simply clapped out. No intelligent person could possibly go to Yoko Ono’s art exhibit and not feel a pang of self-doubt.

Likewise, it is obvious why popular music is not seeing a revival. Good popular music cannot thrive in a degraded culture. Highbrow and liturgical music can separate them from the cultural surroundings. In that sense, both are elite. But popular music cannot. It is an organic outgrowth, a sort of mirror, of the state of the society at any given moment in time. This means that to catch a glimpse of what a revived popular music might look like we must turn to a culture that is trying, no matter how pathetically or slowly, to revive its Christian heritage. The most obvious example in this regard is perhaps Russia, which has been seeing such a revival for at least a decade. 

It seems likely that Russia is seeing this revival before the West because, in the 20th century, they experienced the result of the liberal project in fast forward. In the West, liberal modernity hid its true intentions for the whole 20th century. It pretended that it wanted compromise with its Christian past. Now it is obvious to all but the most devout National Review reader that this is not the case. In 1917, Russia got a shot of liberal modernity straight to the heart. Catalyzed, the liberal modernist project collapsed much faster. And so, the revival inevitably began sooner. In theory, this should mean that there are some younger people who will start to recreate decent popular music.

We are seeing some rumblings. Although you must look hard. But what we can see developing in Russia may have a lot to teach us in the West. The best representative of revived popular music in Russia is the Russian pop folk group Белое Злато or White Gold. The group is composed of a rotating group of young women and appears to have been around for at least 6 years. They are distinctly a ‘girl group’ in the modern sense, and this seems thought out and coordinated. The girls are pretty, good singers and would not be out of place in a standard pop group in the West. Their image is self-consciously opposed to the sexualized image of Western pop music. Sometimes this entails dressing up in traditional Russian outfits, but most of the focus seems to be on dressing modestly and doing street performances as can be seen from their YouTube channel. They seem to be relatively popular within Russia. Their English-language channel has almost 62,000 subscribers and there is evidence of them playing concerts in Germany and France. But Russian commentators have complained about their inability to get broad exposure and the crudity of their marketing attempts. Their recorded album, released in 2019, is available on Spotify, however. It is well-varied and does not disappoint.

Their music is a sort of folk revivalism. But it has a distinctly modern flavor. It is very distinct from the hippyish attempts at folk revival we saw in the West in the 1960s and 1970s. That movement was always going to be countercultural and the use of the music was twisted from its original context; by contrast, White Gold clearly aspires to being a true pop group. 

Their music does not suffer for it. In fact, it is excellent. Some of it is comprised of upbeat Russian folk songs like Young Cossack Girl, one of their most popular songs. The version of the song on YouTube suffers from some slightly wanting production values, but it is rich and complex. The lyrical content is standard folk fare, about a young man courting a young woman. Other songs are slower and more reflective. One of their best is Beyond a Calm River. This song does have explicitly Christian content and imagery, but one gets the sense that this derives from the fact that the song is Russian, and Russia is Christian. That is, the Christianity is secondary, not primary.

This probably speaks to what popular music in a Christian society must necessarily be like. As Catholics know, culture precedes Christianity and is receptive of it. Culture is a sort of base metal or prime matter which is then formed by Christianity. While highbrow and liturgical music can be focused and Christian, it seems more likely that popular music will always be more of a baseline cultural product, generated out of the specific soil that it grew up in.

Der Musikgeist and the Beginning of History

Music speaks to the deepest recesses of our soul. No doubt. And the repulsive world we live in is creating truly repulsive music. We should not doubt the impact that the sounds and songs that people listen to have on their character. They are profound. Much more profound than painting or literature or architecture. We march to the beat of a drum, as the metaphor states, not to the wave of a brush or the placement of a brick. Music is not in truth a simple reflection of culture, but its essence. Hegel spoke of a Weltgeist and tried to glean it through newspaper clippings and Napoleonic marches. Perhaps we would be better off trying to grasp at the essence of the Musikgeist.

The question of popular music in a Christian society is then likely to be tied up with the question of the relationship between Christianity and local cultures more generally. This in turn raises questions about the relationship between an integralist political program and specific national cultures more generally. It seems likely that an integralist state will find itself at war with degenerate corporate music. Perhaps it could have accommodated the American popular music of the 1940s and the 1950s, but today’s corporate music is actively geared toward corruption and degradation, not just of the morals, but also of the mood and the senses. This will likely require some sort of national cultural revival to restore solid prime matter for Christian culture to work with. Christ may have turned filthy water into wine; in the city of man we must be more practical.

Short Notes on the Family and the City


by Edmund Waldstein, O.Cist.

The following article is the first in a series of translations from the works of Jacques de Monléon (1901-1981). Along with his friend Charles De Koninck (1906-1965), de Monléon was a key figure in Laval School Thomism. So much so, in fact, that the school was sometimes called the “de Monléon-De Koninck School.”[1]

De Monléon was born in 1901 in Roquebrune-Cap-Martin on the French Riviera. He was sent to the Catholic boarding school Collège St. Jean in Fribourg, Switzerland (where Antoine de Saint-Exupéry was a fellow pupil). He then studied at the university of University of Aix-Marseille, earning degrees in law (1922/1923) and philosophy (1924). He then moved to Paris to continue his philosophical studies. In Paris he became close to Jacques Maritain.[2] But after a few years he began to diverge from Maritain. One point on which he disagreed with Maritain was the question of “moral philosophy adequately considered” (that is, on whether moral philosophy can be properly scientific without being subalternated to theology).[3] De Monléon was moving towards what he saw as more consistently Thomistic position. He was therefore happy to be invited to the Universty of Laval in Quebec in 1934.

Thomism of the strict observance was established in Quebec by Msgr. Louis-Adolphe Pâquet (1859-1942), who had studied under Cardinal Satolli in Rome. Paquet wrote a commentary on the Summa in Latin,[4] and an intransigently ultramontane-integralist treatise on ecclesiastical public law, written in French.[5] As dean of the faculty of theology at the University of Laval, Pâquet steadily expanded the teaching of philosophy, until it was possible to establish a full pontifical faculty of philosophy.[6]

It was during the expansion of the teaching of philosophy that Laval hired De Koninck and de Monléon. Through a miscommunication they both arrived to fill the same position. In the end, both were retained—De Koninck as professor of natural philosophy, and de Monléon to lecture in political philosophy and ethics. De Monléon was, however, to split his time between Quebec and the Institut Catholique in Paris. Pâquet was originally skeptical of the two laymen, since he thought scholastic philosophy should be taught by clerics, but he was soon won over by their love of St. Thomas.[7]

De Koninck and de Monléon became dear friends. They wrote many letters to each other during the months of each year that de Monléon spent in France. Florian Michel has analyzed their correspondence, showing how they developed the typical theses of Laval School Thomism in the philosophy of science and in political philosophy together.[8]

When De Koninck was appointed dean of the philosophy faculty in 1939, he and de Monléon also began to develop the pedagogical approach that was to become typical of the Laval School. It was an approach that emphasized the importance of learning step by step and in the proper order. The role of the teacher was to lead the students by the hand from the common conceptions of the truth naturally known to all to the first principles of reality. Thus de Monléon wrote to De Koninck:

We [have hitherto] certainly not [been] Thomistic in the way we teach. […] It is indisputable that we proceed in the manner of mathematicians and idealists. […] We immediately plunge poor little immature minds into the dark depths of being and non-being. […] One must lead such minds by the hand if one is allowed to forge such a twisted image. Manuducere. Sicut Zoé (my dear little Zoé[9]) manuducit pueros suos.[10]

This emphasis on the order of learning seems also to have led indirectly to less emphasis on publication in the Laval School, since “leading by the hand” was felt to be something that required personal contact. And, as it turned out, they were to feel that their few publications were often misunderstood. They did, however, begin the Journal Laval théologique et philosophique.

It was in Laval théologique et philosophique that the following “Short Short Notes on the Family and the City” were first published. Later they were included in the volume: Personne et Société, Overtture Philosophique (Paris: Editions L’Harmattan, 2007). Many thanks to Alessandra Fra of L’Harmattan for permission to publish this translation. The translation was originally made by a group of tutors at Thomas Aquinas College for a seminar on Catholic Social Teaching. Many thanks to Anthony Andres for permission to publish the translation on The Josias.

The nature and scope of political authority, and its relation to the incomplete community of the family, is a key issue in recent debates among integralists.[11] I am convinced that de Monléon’s profound reflections can contribute key insights to this debate. A printable version of the essay can be found here.

Short Notes on the Family and the City

Jacques de Monléon

1. – We know that many very eminent authors do not recognize the essential difference between domestic society and political society. Plato, for example, writes: “Well, then, surely there won’t be any difference, so far as ruling is concerned, between the character of a large household, on the one hand, and the bulk of a small city on the other? – Not at all. – So, in answer to the question we were asking ourselves just now, it’s clear that there is one sort of knowledge concerned with all of these things, and whether we call it the science of kingship or political science or household management makes no difference.”[12] The nineteenth century political philosopher, Louis de Bonald, writes in a similar vein: “Such is the likeness, or rather the complete identity that everyone recognizes between domestic and public society, that from the most ancient times kings have been called the fathers of their peoples.”[13] And the same idea is found in Fustel de Coulanges’s The Ancient City, and this opinion is the one of its directive principles: “Family, brotherhood, tribe, city, are societies in exactly the same way, and are born one from another by a succession of federations.”[14] Continue reading “Short Notes on the Family and the City”