Before passing on to the other great divisions of the jurisdictional power we must linger a while longer over the study of the canonical power. If the declaratory power is the higher, the canonical power, which brings it into immediate touch with temporal things, is the more deeply affected by their complexity and contingence. The documents of the ecclesiastical magisterium that rule its exercise have, in every age, to reckon with the contemporary state of cultural development. The field of its influence is therefore variable; sometimes, as in the early Christian era, it seems to keep itself well within its legitimate frontiers, and at others, as in the Middle Ages, it appears to overstep them. We must first define its essential exigencies, and determine the nature of its relations with political power and political society. That, however, will not suffice. We shall still have to discuss, endless as the task may seem to be, the legitimacy of many measures taken by the medieval Popes in the name of their powers, measures that find mention in the canonical collections and were then turned to account in the theological Summae: transference of the Imperial dignity, deposition of apostate princes, suppression of heresy, organization of Crusades. If we maintain that these measures were justified, there seems to be a danger that those who thus work to save the full authority of the canonical power entertain the secret hope that one day all its medieval applications will be revived. And if, on the contrary, we disavow these measures, and consider them to have been usurpations on the part of the spiritual power, it seems as if we shall have to agree that in thus falling in with the methods of the kingdoms of this world the Church lost sight of her transcendence, yielded to the third temptation rejected by Our Lord, allowed her sanctity to be eclipsed during long centuries and, by ambition, weakness or ignorance, betrayed the mission that Christ had entrusted to her. Neither the theologian who simply asserts the divine character of the canonical power, nor the historian content to plead extenuating circumstances for an attitude he admits to be regrettable, will ever resolve these grave questions. Let us make an attempt to resolve them on their own merits. We shall in the first place recall (1) the analogical character of the canonical jurisdiction. I shall indicate (2) the essential claims of the Church in her relations with the State. Then (3) we shall set out to describe the normal role of the Church in a secular Christendom. And finally (4) we shall discuss more at length the role of the Church in medieval Christendom.

1. The Analogical Character Of The Canonical Jurisdiction

1. The Church's Likeness To Civil Society Analogical Only

Since the Church has no other end than eternal life and union with the divine Persons, we have refused to distinguish in her first, a specific element by reason of which she is supernatural and possesses the powers of order and magisterium, and then a generic element by reason of which she is social and visible, possessing like other societies the power of legislating, judging and punishing. The Church is, at once and through and through, both supernatural and visible: first by reason of the power of order and the declaratory power, next by reason of her canonical power which contains the legislative, judicial, and coercive powers within itself. Her resemblance to political societies is analogical only, not univocal. Hence the resemblance of her canonical power to the political power is also only analogical; and that of her legislative, judiciary and coercive powers to the legislative, judiciary, and coercive powers of the State, is merely analogical likewise.

2. The Original Characters Of The Canonical Power

It follows, as I have already pointed out, that the canonical power can propose even speculative and doctrinal statements to the faithful, who will then be bound to give them an intellectual assent; that if it more especially governs exterior acts, it can nevertheless prescribe the interior acts of faith and religion that should lie behind them; and that the maxim De internis non judicat praetor is not to be applied to the canonical domain simply as it stands.[446]

It further results that the means of coercion open to the Church to bring her rebellious children back into the ways of obedience and love will not be identical with those used by the temporal society. Since the Church is a society which is not of this world, a spiritual society, ecclesiastical penalties will be always spiritual by reason of their end. But since the Church is a society which is in this world, a visible society, she can touch delinquents in their visible, temporal and material goods; but, even then, such penalties, remaining spiritual in aim, will be distinct from those inflicted by civil society. They will have another measure; they will be lighter and will not, for example, go as far as the shedding of blood and the death penalty.

The same remarks apply to the means of extending and defending the Church. The sole means of conquest proper to the Church as such, is the preaching (and living) of the Gospel; neither constraint nor war is allowable here. The sole means of defence proper to the Church as such, and arising from her nature as the visible Kingdom of God among men, remain spiritual in measure and aim, even when temporal in themselves. They do not consist in opposing blade to blade, bloody constraint to bloody constraint: "Behold, I send you forth as sheep among wolves" (Matt. x. 16); so that if the Church still exists in the world, if the sheep still live in the midst of wolves, the thing is clearly a miracle.[447] The only bloodshedding for which the Church, as such, takes the full and immediate responsibility is that of the martyr. "Then they came up and laid hands on Jesus, and held him. And behold one of them that were with Jesus, stretching forth his hand, drew out his sword; and striking the servant of the High Priest, cut off his ear. Then Jesus saith to him: Put up again thy sword into its place; for all that take the sword shall perish by the sword" (Matt. xxvi. 50-52). And we are clearly warned that what applies to Jesus Himself applies to all His Kingdom: "My kingdom is not of this world. If my kingdom were of this world, my servants would certainly strive that I should not be delivered to the Jews: but now"—since they have not done so it is clear that—"my kingdom is not from hence." (John xviii. 36).

Yet Popes have issued decrees for setting holy wars on foot, and for compelling princes to hunt down heresy, and I believe that they did so legitimately. But what I propose to dispute is that they did so in virtue only of their canonical power, and of essential and permanent exigencies of the Kingdom of God.

3. The Action Of The Canonical Power Immediate Or Mediate

A further remark. When we speak of the means adopted by the legislative, judiciary and coercive powers of the Church, we speak first, of course, of those means which she wields herself, without having recourse to any intermediary. But we include further certain activities exerted through the medium of the secular arm; not all such activities indiscriminately, but those only for which the ecclesiastical power can and ought to bear the full responsibility, those whose immediate end is the spiritual not the temporal-Christian, Christianity and not Christendom, activities regulated by the laws of the Church and not by the laws of the State. The secular power is then functioning as a pure instrument of the canonical power. Its activity, ordinarily civil, becomes spiritual hic et nunc, exceptionally, on special occasion; it submerges itself in the activity of the canonical power, changes its character, becomes lighter and more moderate. On that account, the secular arm has to renounce the use of the sword. St. Augustine does not refuse its services to deal with the Donatists, but he "would not hear of capital punishment; he trembled lest the blood of the enemies of the Church should flow back upon her and dishonour her."[448] The Church is the party responsible for these activities, not the secular power: they are here regarded as pertaining to her "direct power". I shall reserve the term "indirect power" for another use.[449]



The claims of the Church with respect to the State concern on the one hand the life of the Church herself, and on the other her influence on the State. The Church has first of all the right and the duty to take root, live and develop in the bosom of political societies. She has moreover the right and the duty to exert a sanctifying influence on the life of political societies. Both kinds of claim are put forward by Leo XIII in the Encyclical Sapientiae Christianae (10th January 1890): "The Church cannot be indifferent as to the particular laws which shall rule cities, since it happens only too often that instead of keeping to the political sphere these laws transgress their due limits and encroach on ecclesiastical rights. Now God has entrusted the Church with the duty, first of opposing political measures harmful to religion; and secondly, of bringing all her zeal to bear to ensure that the laws and institutions of peoples should be penetrated with the spirit of the Gospel. "Let us consider, briefly, each of these claims.

1 The Church's Need To Safeguard Her Own Existence: Defence Of The Spiritual Order

However great their diversity the Kingdom of God and the kingdoms of this world meet on the same territories, not to say in the same men, and claim them for their respective ends. How are we to conceive this partition—first within the man himself, and then among his worldly and temporal goods?

A. Mans Twofold Motion Towards God: Through The Temporal Community And Through The Spiritual Community

The law of all created natures, be they physical particles or living germs, is to tend towards their act, their end, their perfection, their good. This good is a distant likeness of the divine good; and so, in tending to their own perfection they are also tending blindly—and of course with numberless failures—to God. Now if this is so, then man, who is not exempt from the general law, ought likewise to be constantly moving towards his end and his good, that is towards God, in a truly human way, in which the failures will take on the nature of sins.[450] In moving in this properly human manner towards the fulfilment and fullness of his nature, man will find himself bound to enter into relations with other persons and to live a communal life; first of all in the basic community of the family, which is ordained for the handing on of life, and is itself involved in civil communities, wider, more perfect, more "divine "ordered to the unfolding and flowering of human life [451]—communities whose influence will penetrate the family community and lift it gradually above itself. The supreme civil community alone will have full moral personality, will be perfect; not in the sense that it can isolate itself from all others and tend to some impossible autarchy, but in the sense that it can treat with the others as an equal with equals. At each step of this progressive introduction to community life man is moving towards God.

And yet the human person is too noble a thing to be wholly received into and absorbed by a community. It is but a part of himself that moves towards God by way of the family, and another part by the various civil communities; and there remains an element in him that can move towards God only directly, that concerns no one but God and himself. That is why St. Thomas distinguishes three parts in moral philosophy: first the "monastic", which rules the activity of man in his singleness; then the "economic, "which rules the activity of the domestic community; and then "politics" which rules the activity of the civil community.[452] He writes elsewhere that the good of man as man, which consists in the knowledge of truth and the regulation of the lower appetites, is distinct from the good of man as citizen, which consists in social intercourse; that the virtue that makes a good man is distinct from the virtue that makes a good citizen.[453] Thus the community has its rights over the man, and its place on the road by which he moves towards God (and there we have the part given over to Caesar, although for God's sake); yet it must never become totalitarian, never wholly absorb the man, in whom is an irreducible greatness, mysterious and referable immediately to God, on which the civil community has no right to lay hands (and there we have God's exclusive part): and it is inasmuch as it protects the mystery of the independence of the human person that private property too becomes inviolable. "The man," says St. Thomas, "is not ordained to the political community according to all that he is or has. . . . But all that man is, all that he does, all that he has, ought to be referred to God."[454] Without even quitting the plane of philosophy it thus becomes evident that the civil community is of itself unfitted to rule the entire being of the men it brings together; it rules only their life as citizens and the inner reserves of their nature lie beyond its grasp. It is precisely in virtue of this part of themselves, the part that remains inaccessible to the civil community and by which they are capable of God by grace, [455] that men are called to enter into a higher community.

The same men, composed of soul and body, whom the State, on account of their natural capacities, claims for civil life, are claimed by the Church, on account of a more inward obediential capacity, for the life of the heavenly city, the life "of this Jerusalem, whose Prince is God, whose citizens are the angels and all the saints whether reigning in glory in their fatherland or still pilgrims on earth, according to the word of the Apostle [Eph. ii. 19]: "You are fellow citizens with the saints, and the domestics of God."[456] It is a supernatural city which Christ has begun to gather up around Himself and incorporate into His own Body, a visible extension of His being, of which He remains today the Head though He is ascended into Heaven and cannot corporeally touch our miseries (save under the eucharistic veils). He now continues by way of the sacramental power (made visible by the sacraments that confer it) [457] to endow it with the life of grace and the infused virtues: "for, that man should be a member of this City his nature does not suffice, it needs to be elevated by God's grace; and it is clear that the virtues that are in man inasmuch as he is a member of that City, cannot be acquired by his natural powers. Wherefore they are not caused in us by our own acts but infused into us by the divine gift."[458] And He continues by the jurisdictional power (also made visible by reason of the designation that confers it) to dispense the truth that nourishes its contemplation and directs its action. Of the two forms of the jurisdictional power it is the second, the canonical, that most often comes in contact with the political power. It takes the necessary regular disciplinary measures concerning matters of a spiritual nature (whether wholly so, and these are the most numerous, or only partially so—"mixed" matters, such as the effects of marriage, education, etc.); and it takes accidental disciplinary measures concerning matters essentially civil but becoming spiritual hic et nunc, as touching the altar. The Church intervenes here to defend spiritual goods in the strict measure demanded by this defence; she herself takes the concrete initiative of the materially political (but formally spiritual) act; and her intervention may be effected by "civic Catholic action"—this is properly Catholic action and not political action, since its object is to defend, for the sake of the spiritual, values that are proper to the city of God, though involved in the temporal order.[459] Thus the same men are drawn into the orbit of two great visible communities, of two societies, each being perfect and supreme in its sphere, whose specific ends, jurisdictional powers, and formal bonds, are profoundly distinct. The Pope alone could be an exception; but if, with a view to safe-guarding the free exercise of his spiritual power, he voluntarily assumes the charge of a political principality, as in fact he did for a long period, the line of partition between the spiritual and the temporal will run through his own heart.

How do these great communities confront each other within the soul of a man? Are they contraries, and is it the law of each to devour the other and assimilate it? There are some who are so persuaded. Those of them who recognize the divine greatness of the Church, would endow her with a mission to absorb the State.[460] Others, much more numerous, want the State to swallow up the Church: it is to this that totalitarianism, whether it flatters or persecutes the Church, whether it be pagan, or atheist, communist, racist or statist, tends of its nature. A third reaction, anarchist this time, would consist in proclaiming the radical illegitimacy of every social hierarchy, divine or human, and in involving the human person in an unbridled revolt.[461] All these solutions do violence to the human being and hurry him on to catastrophe. It is enough to respect the depth of the mystery in man to understand that he has to move towards God in two different ways. By reason of his natural powers, actualized by his acquired virtues, he will move towards his connatural ends, and will therefore enter into civil communities. By reason of the obediential potency of his spirit, actualized by grace and the infused virtues, he will acquire wings on which he may rise to the city of the angels, of Christ, and of the divine Persons. He will walk and fly at one and the same time; and in this there will be no incompatibility. Indeed, he will walk the more surely on the earth when his love draws him towards heaven, and be the better citizen when fully Christian; it will be the mission of the Church to Christianize civil life. The earthly city and the heavenly city, the State and the Church, divide man's inward life between them. The law of an essential duality, from which he will only escape by death, divides his being in this world. The division is grievous, no doubt, but in itself salutary. It does not aim at vainly tearing man apart and producing sterile and unending conflicts. It is meant to bring the various powers of his soul by different routes to the same God. It was always present, but it only came to light on the day when the Saviour uttered, as it were in passing, the famous words: "Render therefore unto Caesar the things that are Caesar's, and unto God the things that are God's" (Matt. xxii. 21): words which sanctioned the just rights of Caesar while creating the rights of the Church, and which were to overturn the age-long totalitarianism of the pagan world. St. Augustine drew attention to it forcibly.[462] It is a homicidal folly and an offence to the Gospel to want to change the distinction between Church and State into opposition. The conflicts that have arisen between them in the course of history are accidental, not of the true essence of either.

B. The Respective Dominions Of Church And State: The Church, By Nature, Not Territorial

Church and State meet on the same territories. How define the dominium of each?

Man's dominion over external things—a feeble reflection of the divine dominion over the being and the activity of all creation—is the power, flowing from his intelligence and his will, of using them for his own ends, as if they had been made for him.[463]

It can take two forms. First there is the dominion inherent in the human person, the use of external things which each individual person has the right to make for his own ends. There we have personal property, the dominium humile. Then there is the dominion of the civil power, the use of external things which the civil power has the right to make for the common good. There we have the high dominion, the dominium altum. It is not meant to supplant personal property but to make it more secure, more fruitful, better distributed and better regulated. And if the State may itself become proprietor of certain domains and non-movables, of certain industries and public services, this is only the more efficiently to favour the autonomy and personal property of its subjects.

What dominion does the Church claim over these external things? Exactly that which is needful for the complete fulfilment of her spiritual mission.

First of all, to safeguard the free exercise of his sovereign spiritual jurisdiction, the Pope will have the canonical right—subject of course to all the claims of justice—to a civil principate, whereby he will possess, to the exclusion of all other political power, the dominium altum over a portion of territory, to be administered by him as by any other temporal prince. It is clear that this principate, standing alongside other temporal principates to guarantee the independence of the pontifical power, will not of its nature tend to supplant these others; any more than the movable or immovable property of the State will tend of its nature to supplant other personal properties.

Save only for this temporal principate, which does not enter into her structure but is annexed to it from without, the Church as such cannot without usurpation claim dominium altum over any territory. It is not her business, but that of political governments, to look to the security, regulation and development of personal property. In this sense she ought to refuse, as Jesus did, the kingdoms of this world and their glory. A territory, a kingdom, may be added to her from without, but she remains intrinsically and of her very nature a non-territorial society, a society without a fatherland. She must neither retreat into some determinate region as into an entrenched camp, nor extend the frontiers of the pontifical state to those of her mission to all mankind. Even in the Middle Ages that was never her ideal; [464] and if the canonical power then penetrated deeply into political life, this was not, as we shall see, in virtue of any essential and permanent claim of the Church, but of a particular conception of Christian political order. This conception was legitimate, I hold, for the epoch in question, but is not bound up with the life of the Church.

If the Church is essentially non-territorial she must needs have her being in the territories of others. In this sense she will dwell on the earth as a stranger. Like the God who lies hid in the Host, she too, a supernatural person of whom the world is not worthy, will ask only of States, in order that she may live with them, this dominium humile, this right of personal property, which they cannot abolish without injustice. But this right will then be doubly inviolable: first, as personal property, so that they cannot despoil her of it without tyranny, without overturning the equity they exist to defend; and again as religious property, so that they cannot take it away without sacrilege and outrage on religion.[465] Thus the Church, though she is greater than the states, is yet subject to them in one respect. She is bound to obey their just laws. The theologians have recognized this, [466] and Cajetan gives it precise point in a celebrated text.[467] She will be more or less at their mercy, and they will find it easy to despoil her, to rob her of the means of subsistence, to stifle her; it has in fact been her fate to be constantly dispossessed and as often rehabilitated. But clearly, they cannot behave in this way without calling in question the rights on which they themselves are based. Here again, these conflicts between Church and State remain accidental; only by a violation of the nature of things could they be made essential.

2. The Christianization Of Civil Life By The Church: Illumination Of The Temporal Order

A. The Spiritual Connected With Some Temporal Activities Simply On Account Of Their Existence In A Human Subject; With Others, On Account Of Their Content

In coming to divinize the inmost depths of a man, to make him a citizen of heaven, a member of Christ, a living temple for the divine Persons, grace and the infused virtues make their influence felt throughout the whole range of his temporal activity, and speed his progress towards his political and properly human ends. The plane of spiritual activity remains clearly distinct from the plane of temporal activity, even when this is directed and penetrated by the spirit of the Gospel. To the first plane belongs the work of the infused virtues and the things of the interior life looking directly to God. To the second belong the work of the acquired virtues and the things of the cultural life, notably those of political life which are directly Caesar's concern, but for God's sake. "Let every soul be subject to higher powers. For there is no power but from God. . . Therefore he that resisteth the power, resisteth the ordinance of God. . . Wherefore be subject of necessity, not only for wrath but also for conscience sake,": so writes St. Paul (Rom. xiii. 1-5), who here gives us the full meaning of the Reddite Caesari. The planes of the spiritual and of the temporal are in themselves different, but they cannot be separated. "One is subordinate to the other; the temporal as such needs to be vivified by the spiritual; the common good of civilization demands of itself to be referred to the common good of life eternal, which is God Himself. On the one plane as on the other, my work will only be well done if I have, in regard to the object in view, the necessary competence and the needed instruments: but even when I act as a citizen of another city than the Church of Christ, the Christian life and truth should permeate my activity from within, should be the living soul and direction of all the material, whether of knowledge or means of realisation, that I bring into play; and this whatever be the object of my work, whether it is, as in planting a vine or building a house, one which belongs in itself to a technique independent of the Christian faith, or, as in things of the social and political sphere, one where, however large the part played by technical elements, the ethical order predominates, and hence one that intrinsically depends on the higher principles assigned by Christian faith and the Christian wisdom that comes from above."[468]

We need not fear to push the debate too far. The general question of the subordination of the temporal to the spiritual, of the profane to the sacred, is evidently wider than the more particular question of the jurisdictional relations of Church and State. It is the whole field of temporal life that is due to fall under the attraction of the whole field of spiritual life. But, as we have just seen, the activities of the temporal life can be disposed into two groups.

In the first we shall put all those activities which, in themselves, do not directly involve ethical and contemplative values: gardening, cooking, building canals and aeroplanes, studying algebra and the sciences—in the sense in which science is opposed to wisdom [469]—and so forth. It is not by reason of their content but solely on account of their existence in a human subject redeemed by the blood of the cross and bound to direct all his acts to eternal life, that these temporal activities are touched by the breath of the spirit.[470]

In the second group we shall put activities which, over and above all technical and scientific values, bring into play of themselves the highest of human values, the values of ethics and wisdom. Such are social, political and philosophical activities. It is not simply on account of their existence in a subject wayfaring towards eternity, but also by reason of their very content, of their specific object, that these activities should receive influence and regulation from the spiritual order. And what will be the effect of this influence and regulation? First, it will tend to heal, to rectify the deviations that are bound to occur in human temporal activity, since it comes from creatures fallible in their own nature and wounded by their revolt against grace, so that they pursue the good and the true with diminished powers, even when this good and true are, in themselves, proportioned to their nature, connatural.[471] Innumerable errors, philosophical, moral, economic, political, cultural—concerning the place of the human person in the universe, how he is to attain his last end, his multiple social relations, the use to be made of worldly goods—are brought to light and corrected by the healing function of revealed truth and divine grace. That is not all. The influence of the spiritual not only rectifies the defects of natural activities; it permeates them through and through and gives them tone, infuses them with new sap, and this without in any way removing them from their own plane and their proper laws; even in their own specific sphere—that of philosophical research, economic and political organization, artistic invention—it operates to sublimate them, [472] to give them a new splendour which is the proper effect of Christianity; so that we can indeed have a Christian philosophy, a Christian economics and politics, a Christian art, and, more generally, a Christian culture—Christian, that is, in its inner inspiration, and in the way in which it faces the problems of life in time. In thus impregnating with its influence the activities which flow from the acquired virtues and which are specified by ends that are immediately cultural, Christianity communicates its own impetus, so that they march with a surer, quicker, lighter step towards their own cultural ends; one can say of them what the Vulgate says of those who hope in the Lord: "they shall take wings as eagles; they shall run and not be weary; they shall walk and not faint" (Isa. xl. 31).

B. Cultures Illuminated By The Kingdom Of God; But The Cultural Work Thus Sublimated Itself Outside The Kingdom

Should we attribute these spiritual influences which orientate temporal things to a last end, rectify and invigorate them, to the temporal or to the spiritual order, to the Kingdom of God, or to the world of culture?

Formally considered they belong to the Kingdom of God. They affect the world of culture, the philosophic, economic, social, political and artistic life of a people, but they do so as an analogical cause which remains transcendent to its effects. The ray of grace and truth which falls on a culture and operates to heal its wounds and sublimate it, belongs indeed to the Kingdom of God. It is as it were an overflow from that Kingdom, tending to rectify and inspire the stuff and environment of a world in which other influences also—those of man, those of the devil—play their part. So that a culture, a civilization, even Christian, can be said to belong to the Kingdom of God not properly but only in a certain respect, only to the extent to which it receives the rectifications and illuminations we have mentioned.

So then, while the spiritual influences affecting a culture belong formally, and in themselves, to the Kingdom of God, the cultural work itself on which these influences fall is, properly speaking, exterior to the Kingdom.[473] It belongs to the temporal sphere. It derives immediately from human energies and resources, from acquired virtues and habits, which may be aided and vivified by the spiritual but function here as temporal agents and for temporal ends.

The temporal should subordinate itself, as I have said, to the spiritual, not to abdicate, not to renounce its own nature, not to allow itself to be absorbed; but, on the contrary, to save its true temporal nature, so that, thanks to the purifying and elevating influence of the spiritual, it may tend of itself to its own better temporal development; as the flora and fauna of a country feel the benefit of a favourable climate without in any way being withdrawn from the laws of vegetative and sensitive life. From the standpoint of efficient causality we might say that spiritual energy acts on the temporal, as a principal cause of higher rank acts on lower principal causes; it penetrates and elevates them. From the standpoint of final causality we might say that the temporal is ordered to the spiritual as an intermediate end might be, which, while having its own native dignity, is nevertheless referred to a higher and ampler end. This, for example, in animals the vegetative functions (respiration, nutrition, reproduction) are modified and elevated by contact with sensitive life—their primary value lies in themselves, but they are besides referred to sense experience, which is something of a higher order. The subordination of the lower efficient cause to the higher, of the intermediate or infravalent end to the higher and supravalent, being essential and intrinsic, we can speak of an essential and intrinsic subordination of the temporal to the spiritual. Thus subordination is of such a nature that the sources of temporal activity in no way lose their character as principal causes (lower), so as to be changed into mere instruments of the spiritual; and that the ends of temporal activity in no way lose their character as ends (intermediate, infravalent), so as to become mere means to the spiritual. The distinction, subtle perhaps, but capital, between a lower principal cause and a mere instrument, and the corresponding distinction between an intermediate end and a pure means, should never here be lost sight of; the lower principal cause acts by virtue of its form, of its nature, the motion it receives being only the condition of its activity; whereas the pure instrument does not act of itself at all, the motion it receives being the total cause of its activity. Similarly, the intermediate end is, absolutely speaking, an end, something desirable for its own sake; it is only in a certain sense that it is a means, something desirable for the sake of something else; whereas the pure means is desirable solely for the sake of something else.[474]

C. Temporal Values Sublimated And Values Become Spiritual

In certain circumstances, of course, temporal activities can be treated as strict instruments of the spiritual; the acquired habits and virtues can function, with spiritual good in view, as pure instruments of the infused habits and virtues, and cultural values can be regarded as pure means to the spiritual. But when that happens the temporal is shorn of its own laws and ends, becomes itself spiritual so as to be incorporated in the spiritual, converted into the spiritual, absorbed into the spiritual; natural resources, acquired virtues and dispositions, things in themselves temporal or cultural—such as churches, religious houses, benefices, treasures of art, the languages needed for worship or for preaching, the liturgical chant—all these, on account of the direct use of them made by the Church and the immediate purposes to which they are referred, at once become spiritual.

Thus we admit that the acquired virtues and dispositions, psychological resources, and temporal values in general, can be elevated by the spiritual in two typically different ways. First—while they are still functioning as principal second causes, according to their own laws and within their own sphere, but under the rectifying and illumining influence of the spiritual order and of the Gospel virtues. We shall then have a Christian philosophy, a Christian economy, a Christian sociology, a Christian politics, a Christian art, in short, a culture that is Christian but distinct from the Church and from the Kingdom of God: Christian culture then being the domain of human and temporal life restored and inspired by the Gospel, and the Church being the Kingdom of life divine and eternal. Second, temporal activities and values can function as pure instruments of the spiritual: they will then have been taken up out of their own plane to be reintegrated and reabsorbed into the Kingdom of God.

D. The Spiritual Light's Union With The Temporal For The Building Of A Christian Society

Spiritual influences acting on the temporal for the good of the temporal, to orientate, inspire and sublimate it, are subject to two phases which ought to be carefully distinguished.

In the first place, such influences operate by way of men, clerics or laymen (the latter being bearers of Catholic action, one of whose ends is to Christianize the temporal human order) who work in the name of the Church and engage her responsibility; they are acting in their capacity as Christians, as such, as members of Christ and citizens of the Kingdom of God, to safeguard certain primordial and permanent temporal values, the radiant centres of cultural life. The presence of these values appears to be morally necessary to the normal exercise of the spiritual life itself, in the general run of men. Thus, in the doctrinal order, the Church takes up on its own account the defence of certain fundamental truths concerning the nature, life and destiny of man, concerning social justice, the civic conscience, the rights and duties of political society, the origin of authority, the unity of the human race and the solidarity of all men. These truths are in substance temporal—they are spiritual only for the radiance they receive from Christianity, for the Christian light [475] that confirms and illuminates them; and they represent a frame of reference, the touchstone, if you will, by whose aid we may appreciate and judge the broad tendencies of the world of philosophy, art, and the moral, social and political sciences. Thus again, but now in the practical order, the Church takes up on her own account the defence of certain virtues indispensable in the work of civilisation, virtues such as humanity, friendship, loyalty, fidelity, justice, clemency, generosity; more generally and more profoundly, she strives to foster an attitude of soul, a spirit, in which all cultural problems should be taken up, an attitude, a spirit, which flows from and finds its highest instance in divine charity, and is capable of marvellously purifying and elevating the civilizing virtues. Here then is the first way, the first phase, we have to deal with: the spiritual ray that lights up the temporal here remains pure, undivided, unalloyed.[476]

Taken at this first stage, the influence of the spiritual is capable of preparing the Christianization of a culture; it may favour a Christian style in politics, economics, philosophy and art, impregnating these with Christian principles and a Christian spirit. But it is essentially incapable of setting a society on foot, of giving existence to a cultural whole and bringing it to a successful issue. The construction of a temporal society, the building up of a civilization, demands activities and means that are properly human. But the men who set about these temporal tasks, if Christian, if regenerated by grace, will work as Christians, with a Christian conscience and without even provisionally setting God and Christ aside.[477] Then appears the second stage, the second phase of the penetration of the spiritual into the temporal. It is brought about by Christians dedicated to the maintenance and progress of culture, living in the midst of the complexities of technical life, who therefore cannot pretend to engage the authority of the Church; for this transcends all the divergencies, oppositions, and legitimate conflicts between civilizations. The spiritual radiance that here falls on the temporal is the more divided and refracted the more it penetrates the temporal shadows; it demands to be associated with a multiplicity of ephemeral manifestations of cultural life so as to be embodied in them and by them; with the various types of political regime, the various efforts at economic amelioration, the various branches of work and technique, the various styles of art, the various vocations of peoples and races. Its destiny is to be broken up so as to enter into partnership with every honest attempt at cultural improvement, even when these attempts are in opposition to each other.[478]

Here then are the essential exigencies of the Church anxious to accomplish her double task, namely to safeguard her own existence, and to Christianize civil life, to defend the spiritual and to enlighten and inspire the temporal.

These exigencies, thus defined, will not of themselves suffice to account for the form taken in the Middle Ages by the intervention of the ecclesiastical authority in political matters. It aimed at fashioning a determinate type of Christendom, a "sacral, "or "consecrational" Christendom. This form of intervention, which is not bound up with the essence of the Church, was justified in its main lines by conditions which we look upon today as having passed away for ever.

E. The Church, Though Not Of The World, The World’s Salvation

If we reduce the problem of the relations of the Church with the State and, more generally, with human culture, to its essential elements and permanent features, it seems that we have to recognize two facts, both incontestable, but in union a seeming paradox.

First, the Church is so profoundly differentiated from the State, and her divine ends so completely transcend all merely cultural ends, that the law ruling their relations can be but a law of distinction; of themselves Church and State are not in competition and should not conflict.[479] And further, from the fact that all human activities without exception, each in its own way, should help to bring about our return to God, the Last End of the whole universe, it is clear that the activities whose proximate end lies in terrestrial and temporal goods, have to be ordered, rectified, enlightened and sustained by the activities whose immediate end lies in heavenly and eternal goods; so that the spiritual, far from smothering the temporal and impeding its development, will alone be capable of bringing it to its full completeness; not indeed giving it existence, "instituere ut sit", [480] but giving it a purified and sublimated Christian existence, "instituere ut sit perfecte et christiane. "There we have a received doctrine already found in Augustine [481] and in the Apologists of the preceding centuries; the Popes of our own day have not ceased to recall it. It opens the Encyclical Immortale Dei on the Christian constitution of states: "The Catholic Church, that imperishable handiwork of our all-merciful God, has for her immediate and natural purpose the saving of souls and securing of our happiness in heaven. Yet in regard to things temporal she is the source of benefits as manifold and great as if the chief end of her existence were to ensure the prosperity of our earthly life. "It is found again in the Encyclical Ubi Arcano, of the 23rd December 1922, in which Pius XI writes that the Church "far from diminishing the power of temporal societies, each legitimate in its place, happily perfects it as grace perfects nature", and that "if, in virtue of her divine mission, she looks only to spiritual and imperishable goods, yet by reason of the harmonious interconnection of all things, her action contributes even to the earthly happiness of each man and of human society as effectively as if she had been established expressly to promote it. "In the measure in which it departs from Christianity the movement of history gets out of control, the higher cultural values take second place, might gains upon right, the spirit of hatred supplants the spirit of concord; respect for the human person, the rights of other classes, of other peoples, of other races are despised; the sanctity of treaties and of agreements is trampled under foot.[482]

But if the law of the relations of the Church with the State, of the spiritual life with the cultural life, is a law of concord, we are bound to note and admit that in point of fact such concord is a very rare achievement, an equilibrium attainable only with effort, a prize to be won in daily battle. Hostile forces, veiled or open, work unceasingly against it. They are at work, not indeed in the Church as such, since she is holy and unstained, but in those of her children who easily yield to the solicitations of nature, become victims of error, passion, and sin; they are still more busily at work in social or political movements, in cultural tendencies, in the very heart of those states that take their stand on the cult of riches, the pride of life, and all the other ideologies that thrust aside and despise the holiness of the Gospel. The revelation of St. Paul on the divine origin of the political power, and its fundamental harmony with Christianity, is completed by the terrible revelation of St. John on the diabolical use of the political power as exploited by the Dragon against the Church, [483] and on the mortal warfare that goes on till the end of the world between the Woman and the Beast.

F. The Law Of The Duality Of Church And State Valid Only For Time: The Church's Eventual Re-Absorption Of The World

It is not the diabolic powers alone, nor the forces of concupiscence alone, that seek to set the Church against the world, grace against nature; there is something else, more subtle. Even to angelic natures, exempt from all passion and disorder, divine grace could seem to come as something alien, so that they could be startled and taken aback when it was proffered and sin made possible for them.[484] It is not surprising therefore that the Church, which is the kingdom of grace, should feel in some sense an exile among human societies: that she should disconcert them by the splendour of her revelation, and frighten them as soon as she tries to spread her wings. "The neighbourhood of Eternity is dangerous for the perishable, and that of the Universal for the particular."[485] There is a reason for this mystery: the law of duality and accord, which rules the relations of Church and State, of the spiritual kingdom and the cultural world, is valid only while the Church is in time, still a kingdom in chrysalis, a crucified kingdom, and the law of her activity is but a law of sanctification. When she has passed the frontiers of eternity to enter, as St. Augustine says, the higher City, "the age in which all principality and power shall vanish", when she has become a kingdom fulfilled, a kingdom of glory, when the law of her activity has changed into a law of transfiguration, then there will be no more distinction between the temporal and the spiritual, because there will no longer be our time, nor our historical movement, nor our culture and cultural progress; the law of duality will be dissipated in the splendour of the heavenly City, and the final kingdom, fully delivered, will absorb into itself the new heaven and the new earth, and all that is other than hell.



1. Consecrational Christendom And Secular Christendom

Under the influence of the kingdom of grace, that is to say, in a Christian climate, we can envisage the flowering of two general types of political regime.[486]

Those of the first type—which are not to be dreamed of save in a region populated exclusively or mainly by Christians, indeed by visible members of the Church of Christ—seek to form a political unity of Christians alone, or visible members of the Church alone; granting civic rights to no others.

Those of the second type would try to weld into a political unity all the inhabitants of a region, granting citizenship to all no matter what their religion, but directing them to temporal and political ends which Christianity would regard as legitimate and would not disavow.

In the first case, Christian values permeate the whole political order; the notion of Christianity, of visible membership of the Church, enters into the very definition of the citizen. That is the Christian consecrational conception of the temporal regime. In the second case, Christian values affect the political order from without, to sustain, enlighten and sublimate it; the notion of Christianity, of visible membership of the Church, remains outside the definition of the citizen; it designates only a perfect way of being a citizen, distinguishing a spiritual family of citizens. That is the Christian secular conception of the temporal regime.

We may use the word "Christendom" in a limited and recent sense, [487] not directly of the Church nor yet of her successive stages of development and internal organization, but directly of a certain temporal regime of peoples who welcome her, a certain cultural complex which she maintains and inspires, a Christian civilization, a Christian world.[488] In this sense there are two possible realizations—not univocal, but proportional and analogical—of the idea of Christendom, two specifically distinct types of Christendom: the consecrational and the secular.

2. Two Ways Of Justifying A Secular Christendom

1. The legitimacy, indeed the necessity, of a secular Christian temporal organization, of a Christendom of the secular type, stands clear when we consider the position of a political power which, while fully resolved to build a Christian political order, finds itself obliged to unite on the plane of civic life, citizens of a single region but varying religious belief. The principle is incontestable that, since faith is something interior, no one is to be constrained to it.[489] The political power we have in mind cannot allow the consciences of any of its subjects to be forced, and cannot but take cognisance of the multiplicity of the spiritual families to which they belong; it will practise "civil tolerance". Its whole function, its whole effort, will be to unite these people as citizens and on the temporal plane, following political rules of Christian inspiration, both as regards means and ends.[490]

There will be no question of falling into "dogmatic tolerance", which regards all forms of belief or unbelief as equally acceptable, or of seeking some doctrinal minimum common to all the citizens, believing or unbelieving; the sole problem will be how to go to work practically for the realization of a common temporal regime. Undoubtedly the Christian political effort "comprehended in the fullness and perfection of the truths which it implies, takes in all Christianity; yes, the whole of Christian ethics and dogmatics: it is only through the mystery of the redeeming Incarnation that a Christian sees the proper dignity of human personality, and what it costs. The idea which he has of it stretches out indefinitely, and only attains the absolute fullness of its significance in Christ. "But by the very fact that it is "secular and not sacred, this common task does not in the least demand in its beginnings a profession of faith in the whole of Christianity from each man. On the contrary, it includes in its characteristic features a pluralism which makes possible the convivium of Christians and non-Christians in one temporal city. Hence, if by the very fact that it is a Christian work it supposes by hypothesis that those who take the initiative will be Christians, with a full and total comprehension of the end to be attained, yet it calls to work all men of goodwill, all those whom a grasp more or less partial and defective—very defective it may be—of the truths which the Gospel makes known in their plenitude, disposes to give their practical help (which may not be the least devoted or the least generous) in the achievement of their common task. It is here that the text has its fullest force and application: he that is not against you is for you" (Mark ix. 39).[491] It would be to misapply it to behave "usually without admitting it to oneself, as if the political city could not be usefully served except by Catholics."[492]

How, from a Catholic standpoint, can a fraternal accord and partnership on the spiritual plane, between believers of different denominations, be brought about? How could such a partnership be made to result normally in co-operation on the plane of temporal and secular life? These delicate questions were treated by Maritain in a conference at the fourth World Congress of Faiths.[493] On the religious and spiritual plane, the basis of this partnership "is not in the order of intellect and ideas, but of that of the heart and of love: it lies in friendship, natural friendship, but first and before all in mutual dilection in God and for God. . . Love is not given to essences, or to qualities, nor yet to ideas, but to persons, and what we are concerned with here is the mystery of persons and the divine presence within them. The partnership in question is not a partnership of beliefs, but a partnership of men who believe. . . In the fraternal dialogue envisaged there is a sort of forgiveness, of remission, not bearing on ideas—they deserve none if they are false—but on the state of those who go along with us. Every believer knows that all men will be judged, himself along with the others; and that neither he nor the other is God, and able to judge the other. And what either is in the eyes of God neither knows. Here the Gospel's Nolite judicare applies in all its force. "Of this friendship of charity" it will be false to say that it is supra-dogmatic and that it lives in spite of the dogmas of the faith; such a way of speaking is inadmissible for all to whom God's word is as absolute as His unity and His transcendence. "But it is supra-subjective in this sense, that it brings recognition that the other man exists not as mere accident of the empirical world, but exists in the sight of God and has a right to exist. Love and charity, while still holding to the faith, help us to recognize all the truth and dignity, all the divine and human values, in beliefs that are other than our own; it makes us respect them, it urges us unceasingly to seek in them all that bears the stamp of man's original greatness and God's loving-kindness and generosity." That amounts to saying that "it inevitably involves a kind of tearing apart of a heart fixed on the truth it loves, and fixed also on the neighbour who ignores or misappreciates this truth." That is all we can do on the religious plane. From the Catholic standpoint there can be no other rapprochement than that of charity. We cannot "enter any sort of communion less intangible, more determinate, more visible, expressed in some common intellectual symbol or sacred form. But, on the plane of temporal and secular life, this rapprochement ought to be expressed in common activities, should be signified in some more or less strict co-operation having concrete and determinate objects in view—whether there is question of the common good of the political society to which each of us respectively belongs, or of the common good of the whole of our temporal civilization. A common activity supposes common principles. What community of doctrine in men whose religious convictions are different, will be capable of holding them together in positive co-operation for the good of civilization?"

For answer let us recall (1) that men are fundamentally united as having a common nature; (2) that the immediate end to be practically achieved is in the natural order. That granted, we can go on to say that "the unity of the earthly task and the temporal end pursued necessarily suppose a certain community of principles and of doctrine, but not necessarily—however desirable, however evidently better and more effective it may be in itself—a strict and pure and simple doctrinal identity: it suffices that the principles and doctrines should have a unity of likeness or proportion, let us say in the technical sense of the word, of analogy, regard being had to the practical end in question, which, although referable to a higher end, is of itself in the natural order, and is doubtless conceived by each party in the light of the principles proper to each, but in its existential reality is extraposed to these conceptions. "We know of course when we speak in this way that a complete doctrine, founded on Catholic teaching, can alone bring an entirely true solution of the problems of civilization." Thus the law of fraternal love, "which either party understands with different theological and metaphysical connotations, and which for Christians striving to fulfil a radical—but terribly contradicted—tendency of our nature is the second commandment like unto the first", implies at least the practical and implicit recognition of high spiritual values, such as the existence of God, the sanctity of truth, the value and necessity of goodwill, the dignity of the person, the spirituality and immortality of the soul, no matter what theoretical doctrines may be explicitly professed on these points. In this way, men with different religious convictions can collaborate not only, as is evident, "in establishing a technique, in putting out a fire, in helping the hungry and sick, in stopping an aggression. But it is possible—if the analogical likeness between their principles of action just mentioned really exists—that they should co-operate at least and above all in procuring the primary goods of earthly existence, in activities that bear on the good of the temporal city and civilization and the moral values invested in them. ""They will work together for the good of the human city not under cover of any mere equivocation, but in the community of the analogy between principles, movements and practical proceedings implied by the common recognition of the law of love, and corresponding to the primary inclinations of human nature. And why should I conceal the fact that for me, a Christian, according to whose faith one only Name has been given to men whereby they can be saved, that even in the temporal order this community of analogy supposes a first analogue which is purely and simply true? and that implicitly it is to Christ, known to some, unknown to others, that there tends in the end, under more or less pure, more or less perfect forms, all authentic love that works in this world for the reconciliation of men and for the common good of their earthly life?"

It goes without saying that under a secular as under a consecrational regime the earthly city, as such, has its duties to God, that it ought to show itself deeply religious and Christian, that it should effectively collaborate with the Church.[494] But to fulfil these duties it will neither have to constrain men to some sort of confessional conformity, nor to set up any interconfessional cult. Its Christianity will be shown in the elevation of its temporal ends, the purity of its chosen political means, its public acknowledgement of those Christian values on which all the sanctity of the temporal order depends, and the unfailing respect in which it holds the rights of the Church. It is even conceivable, in a secular regime, that the canonical power might have recourse to the secular arm; not, of course, under its medieval form and as touching all the citizens, but those only who belong to the Church.[495]

2. There is a second and more general justification, based on the nature of things, for the existence of a Christian temporal order of the secular type. If the spiritual and temporal spheres are essentially distinct, and if the second is, in itself, subordinate to the first, it is easy to foresee that in the organization of their relations two great successive periods, two historical epochs, will be distinguishable.

The first of these will begin at the moment when the supremacy of the spiritual order is publicly recognized. Then, on account of the extraordinary power of attraction inherent in spiritual values, they will inevitably begin to envelop, enwrap, and embrace all values of the temporal order, so that these latter will seem in a way to be based on them, or, more exactly, withdrawn behind them, hidden in them, renouncing all ambition for the time being to assert their difference and emphasise their originality.

The second legitimate period—(leaving on one side the question, whether in practice it can follow the first without dislocations and dangers)—will begin at the moment when temporal values, though still fully recognized as essentially and intrinsically subordinate to spiritual, begin to be seen with a clearer consciousness of their own specific nature and role; as such they will be distinguished from spiritual realities, not in the least to be withdrawn from their influence, but, on the contrary, to achieve a dependence that is to be more conscious of itself, and more conformable to the respective natures of either. For the Church too will profit by this differentiation. It will allow her to appear all the more clearly to the world as the Body of Christ, as the Kingdom not of this world, but capable nevertheless of illuminating all the kingdoms of this world with the light of heaven.

To the first epoch corresponds the organization of a Christendom of the consecrational type. To the second corresponds the organization of a Christendom of the secular type. And if the differentiation of which I have spoken represents a normal historical process, a genuine progress, it will be recognized by the understanding and wisdom of the Church as a good and desirable solution of the question of her relations with temporal powers. "Even supposing that religious divisions should one day come to an end, this more perfect differentiation of the temporal order would remain as a gain achieved—the distinction between dogmatic tolerance, which regards liberty to err as itself a good, and civil tolerance, which insists that the commonwealth should respect the rights of conscience, will remain stamped in the substance of the city."[496]

3. The Historical Order Of Succession Of The Two Christendoms

After the Edict of Constantine the Graeco-Roman world was moving towards a Christendom of the consecrational type. To the reason for this just given we may now add other explanations of the historical order.

Ancient society, as Fustel de Coulanges has convincingly shown, rested on a confusion of the divine and the social, of the religious and the political.[497] Christianity—and in this is its miracle—was powerfully to revive the religious spirit, but by making a profound distinction between the religious and the political, the things of God and those of Caesar. However, this new and unexpected distinction could not at once manifest all its consequences to the Christians who took over from the ancient world; and since it was consistent with two forms of political organization, it was natural that the majority should first have looked to the consecrational form, more nearly allied to the old regime, and have given it the preference.

Did they have any choice in the matter? The Emperors themselves, in the attempt to reconstruct the Empire on the basis of the living forces of Christianity, were the first to consider the Christians as the sole true citizens of the Empire, and so to prepare the advent of a Christendom of the consecrational type. That at least seems to be suggested by Fr. Konstantin Hohenlohe: "The great social reform that was to culminate in the abolition of slavery and the remodeling of the Roman family was only made possible by discouraging the non-Catholics, for Catholics alone were prepared for these profound reforms, they alone had learned to respect the slaves and to lead a healthy family life. . . It was more especially for political reasons that Constantine and his successors insisted with such a heavy hand on maintaining unity of faith in the Roman Empire. It emerges, both from one of Constantine's letters, and from his speech to the Council of Nicaea, that he turned to the Christians because, above all else, he found a social sense amongst them and a spirit of sacrifice hitherto unexampled. In the face of endemic military revolutions, the Church seemed to him to be the sole institution in which any belief in authority and any moral stability remained. Christianity appeared to him and his successors to be the only bond of unity that could prevent the dissolution of the Empire. If they served the unity of the Church, it was because this unity alone could serve their political designs. And that is why every attempt against this unity seemed, at the same time, to be an attempt against the State."[498]

The secular form of Christendom which in the abstract might have been the earliest in date, or even the only one to be realized in the concrete, in point of fact came after the consecrational form. The passage from one form to the other could hardly have been effected without a crisis. The end of a Christendom, if it is neither the end of the Church nor the end of the world, will certainly appear as the end of a world, and the birth of another. The crisis was in fact terrible. Instead of evolving normally towards a secular Christendom, medieval Christendom was ravaged by the wars of religion, by the disastrous error of theological liberalism, by the establishment of a regime of separation between the Church and the State, and lastly by the ideologies of Communism and Racism. It seems that a secular Christendom, however extensive and precious its inheritance from the past, is destined to grow in the midst of ruins. The evil is immeasurable. But thanks to the divine omnipotence it may well, and all unwittingly, lend itself to the ultimate development of the Church. Thus the errors of theological liberalism and of the separation of Church and State, spread now over all the earth, seem today to be preparing the great pre-Christian civilizations of the East, and even certain peoples of the Near East, to reject the confusion of the religious and political orders and to recognize the doctrine of the distinction of the spiritual and temporal spheres.[499]



To the pagan religion, which in the ancient world was immersed in the social order and identified with the State, there succeeded the Christian. In the measure of its triumph it brought into being an order in which spiritual things, not separated but definitively distinguished from the temporal, were to permeate them with the influence of the Gospel and organize them into a Christendom. The first of these historical Christendoms was of a type not yet concerned to draw out all the consequences of the differentiation of spiritual and temporal: first because such a task was premature, and next because, in view of the prompt religious unification of the peoples of the West and the diminution of conflicting beliefs within the confines of a single culture, it did not seem to be pressing. In this first type, which I have called consecrational, what notions would be formed of Christendom and of Christian civilization? How shall we characterize the medieval city, considered (1) in itself and in its intrinsic nature, and (2) with respect to the authority that ruled it? More precisely, how shall we (3) define the coercive power in general, and how explain the Church's responsibility for the infliction of the death penalty in the days of the Inquisition, and for (4) the wars in the days of the Crusades?

In this study of medieval Christendom it is not my purpose to write its history. Writing primarily as a theologian, I wish to establish two things—(1) the legitimacy and logical structure of this type of Christendom; and (2) its contingent and transitory character: for medieval Christendom with all its inevitable imperfections was not the only possible form of Christendom. It will then be my task to determine the powers that devolved upon the Church precisely on account of this historic type of Christendom; and finally to bring out the transcendence of the canonical power, its inalienable spirituality, and its distinction from the inferior powers that have sometimes accompanied it: which last is the chief purpose of the study as a whole.

1. The Nature Of Medieval Society

We do not need to grasp the nature of medieval society, but only the nature of the Church, to understand what heresy is in itself and at all times. But without grasping the nature of medieval society we should never understand the very special character which heresy took on at this epoch; nor why its social consequences differed profoundly from those of other forms of infidelity, those of the heathen, of the Jew, or the Moslem; nor the nature and forms of its repression in the Middle Ages.

A. Christian Values Integrated In The Structure Of Society

It would be incorrect to describe medieval times as those of a confusion between the spiritual and the temporal. Since Our Lord's decisive utterance about God's things and Caesar's, the two powers, even when united in a single subject, have remained for Christians formally distinct. But their interrelations were characterized in medieval society by the fact that the spiritual order did not confine itself to acting on the temporal as a regulator of political, social and cultural values. It tended besides, in virtue of an historically explicable process, to associate a part of itself with the temporal, to weld that part to the temporal, to become thus united with the temporal, a component element in the structure of society. The idea of "Christian" tended to enter into the definition of "citizen", and the idea of Christianity into the definition of society, not simply as an extrinsic cause and source of inspiration, but as an intrinsic cause and an integrant part. One had in fact to be Christian, a visible member of the Church, in order to be a citizen; society, in virtue of its constitutional principle, was made up of Christians only. Those who did not visibly belong to the Church were from the first dismissed society: the heathen over the frontiers, the Jews into ghettos. Those who, having first been Christians, afterwards broke with the Church, as heretics or schismatics, constituted a much greater danger—they shook the very bases of the new society and appeared as enemies of the public safety.

The medieval society was therefore a composite whole, an amalgam of the spiritual and temporal, in no wise demanded by the nature of things. What is required by the nature of things is the distinction of the spiritual and the temporal, and the subordination of the latter to the former, not their fusion as component parts of society; and another type of Christian society is always conceivable. But owing to various historical contingencies the medieval fusion was the best, perhaps even the only practicable, solution. In the measure in which the peoples of the West were converted to Christianity, they more and more expressly brought the qualification of "Christian "into the definition of citizen, the idea of Christianity into the definition of the society. They had clearly realised that "the divine law that comes of grace does not do away with human law that comes of natural reason", and that," in itself, the distinction between faithful and unbelievers does not do away with the dominion and authority of unbelievers over the faithful".[500] But since the attempt was made in the concrete to establish a society constitutionally containing none but Christians, it was not enough to be a man to enter it; one had besides to be a Christian. According to a distinction suggested by James of Viterbo, in such a city the natural rights of man as man stood for the material and initial value; and a man's quality as a Christian, as a visible member of the Church, became the formal and perfective value.

A second characteristic of the medieval policy, which stems from that just described, and from the involvement of the spiritual in the temporal I have just mentioned, is that the dominant dynamic ideal was then that of force at the service of right, while today the ideal tends to be in the non-totalitarian states at least—that of the conquest of freedom and the realization of human dignity.[501]

I have mentioned the very different position which the Middle Ages reserved for simple unbelievers (pagans, Saracens, Jews) on the one hand, and for heretics on the other.

B. The Juridical Condition Of The Gentiles Without And Within Christendom

What, in Christian eyes, was the juridical condition of the Gentiles? What did St. Augustine think about it? What were the views of St. Thomas and his followers? What was the attitude of the Church?

1. St. Augustine's Recognition Of The Legitimacy Of Political Groups Made Up Of Unbelievers

The main lines of traditional thought in this matter are easy to make out. The texts that express it, far from refusing pagans all legal status, went so far even as to allow them (though outside the consecrational order) to exercise authority over Christians.

That is the burden of the distinction between the things of Caesar and the things of God, made in the Gospel and explained by the Apostle when he recommends the Christians of Rome to obey the constituted authorities, pagan though they were: "Let every soul be subject to higher powers. For there is no power but from God; and those that are ordained of God. Therefore he that resisteth the power resisteth the ordinance of God" (Rom. xiii. 1-2).

St. Augustine in his turn was often to recall that established authority, even in the hands of pagans, should be regarded as legitimate. He does so for example in his penetrating exposition of the Apostle's words written to undeceive Christians who, on account of their initiation into spiritual liberty, considered themselves free of all obligations towards the temporal city.[502] He does so again in his commentary on Psalm cxxiv where he describes the situation of the Christians under the Emperor Julian: "The faithful soldiers served a faithless Emperor. Was it a question of worshipping idols, of offering them incense? They preferred God to the Emperor. Was it a question of mustering for battle, of marching on the enemy? They obeyed at once. They distinguished their eternal Master from their temporal master, and nevertheless for their eternal Master's sake they obeyed their temporal."[503] And even in the De Civitate Dei, after refusing unbelievers any knowledge of the true republic born of true justice," of which Christ is the Founder and Guardian", he goes on to define the terrestrial republic, people, and city by the pursuit of peace. The peace it pursues, not being the peace of Christ, can hardly be final, but it is not reprehensible either; indeed it is necessary to the City of God during its journey through mortality, and the City of God will not hesitate to obey the laws which guarantee it.[504] It is in these same texts that St. Augustine passes sentence on the pagan world and declares that, not having known true justice," without which great kingdoms are merely great robberies", [505] it could not have known any true city. These severe views (which might be compared with St. John's maledictions against the Beasts of the Apocalypse, symbols of the powers of iniquity) helped in the Middle Ages to give birth to what H. X. Arquilliere calls "political Augustinianism": he characterises this as a "tendency to absorb natural law into supernatural righteousness, the law of the State into that of the Church "and considers it, with reason, as "a simplified and impoverished form of the great Doctor's thought, a remote and unforeseen consequence of certain pages of his works, a posthumous derivative of his teaching, in which he would certainly not have recognized his personal thought in its integrity."[506] However, if the teaching of Augustine was too narrowly interpreted by his successors, the truth he brought to light is clear. It is not a denial to the pagans of all legality, peace and true citizenship: it is the assertion that the temporal city cannot be perfect—that is to say based on true justice and true peace—save in dependence on Christianity. How deny, he asks, that the peace so much longed for by the earthly city is a good? And the earthly city itself is a still better good, by reason of the human race it harbours. But when this peace and good begin to be taken as the sole or supreme ones, then indeed catastrophe is on the way.[507] In other words, the common good of temporal life demands of its own nature to be ordered to the common good of eternal life: and there we have another aspect of the traditional doctrine.

2. The Doctrine Of St. Thomas And Of His Followers

Following St. Augustine, the high Middle Ages did not refuse to accord a legal status to pagans.[508]

Later, this doctrine was not lost sight of. The most authoritative theologians defended it. "The divine law, which is the law of grace," wrote St. Thomas, "does not do away with human law which is the law of natural reason", so that, in itself, the fact that princes are infidels does not prevent them from continuing to reign legitimately even over those of their subjects who may be converted to Christianity.[509] St. Thomas explains a little further on, in virtue of the same principle, that the prince who falls into infidelity or apostasy does not, simply on that account, lose his power over his subjects, who remain bound to obey him: "Unbelief, in itself, is not inconsistent with dominion, since dominion is a device of the law of nations which is a human law; whereas the distinction between believers and unbelievers arises from the divine law, which does not annul human law."[510] A precision, demanded by the passage of time, is introduced here: it is of itself that the infidelity of princes leaves their power over the faithful intact; but the Church reserves the right to take away this power by sentence in certain circumstances—which will be those obtaining in a consecrational regime.

In his commentary on the Secunda Secundae (1511-1517), Cajetan, who is certainly thinking of the Indians of the New World, very strongly insists on the legitimacy of their political status, and on the injustice of making war on them simply because they are pagans: "There may be unbelievers who are not under the temporal jurisdiction of Christian princes, either in right or in fact. For example, the pagans who were never subjects of the Roman Empire, and those who inhabit lands where the Christian name is unknown. The governments of these peoples, albeit unbelieving, are legitimate, whether they be of the royal or democratic form. Their unbelief does not do away with their jurisdiction over their subjects, since the dominium arises from positive law, and infidelity is of the divine law which does not annul human law, as St. Thomas explains (II-II, q. 10, a. 10). No king, no emperor, not even the Roman Church, [511] has any right to make war on the pagans to take possession of their lands or to subject them temporally. No pretext for a just war is here discoverable, since Jesus Christ, the King of kings, to whom all power is given in heaven and on earth, did not send soldiers or armies to conquer the world, but holy preachers, like sheep among wolves. And so, even under the Old Law, though that was the time of armed conquest, I do not see that any war was declared against any people simply because they were infidels. It was declared against peoples who refused passage, or who had first attacked the people of Israel, or who detained what did not belong to them. We should therefore sin grievously if we undertook to spread the faith of Christ by such means. Not only should we not be legitimate masters of the peoples thus conquered, but we should be guilty of great robberies, and we should be bound to make restitution like all those who have unjustly occupied or conquered a country. We must send these peoples, not conquerors who oppress them, scandalise them, enslave them and make them twice the child of hell more than themselves (Matt. xxiii. 15), but holy preachers capable of converting them to God by their word and by their example."[512]

Taking his stand on the authority of St. Thomas and of Cajetan, Francis of Vittoria was to affirm in 1532, in his lectures at Salamanca, that infidelity, in itself, does away neither with public nor private dominion; that Saracens, Jews and other infidels are therefore true proprietors, just as much as Christians, and that to despoil them is simply to be guilty of theft and rapine; [513] that the Barbarians, that is the Indians of the New World, in spite of their infidelity and the many mortal sins they indulge in, are legitimate princes and legitimate proprietors, so that Christians can find no justification in this infidelity and sin for taking possession of their country and stealing their goods.[514] And this was also to be the doctrine of the man who deserved to be called the Father of the Indians, the Dominican, Las Casas. In a treatise published at Seville in January 1553, he protested with the greatest energy, and a typically Spanish violence, against the theoreticians in the pay of the Conquistadores, who pretended that since the Indians were unbelievers their goods and lands passed at once to the Christians: "Those who say that Christ, by coming into the world, has, ipso jure, deprived the infidels of all authority, independence, sovereignty and jurisdiction, are uttering absurdities, contrary to all reason, unworthy of the intelligence of a peasant, scandalous, infamous, unworthy of the name of Christian. They bear false witness against Jesus and dishonour Him. There is no greater obstacle to the preaching of the Gospel. If Christ came to fulfil all justice He could by no means rob men of their natural rights. With this impious and detestable opinion, they make the Church a liar, they are guilty of heresy and sacrilege, and those who maintain it ought to be burnt alive, since it is contrary to Scripture and the doctrine of the Church."[515]

It is therefore clear, according to the doctrine which may be called traditional, that unbelievers, if they were outside Christendom, were not on that account outside the law; and that their juridical status had to be respected by Christians.[516]

3. The Absolute Inviolability Of The Natural Rights And Conscience Of Unbelievers

1. We need then say no more of pagan princes governing their pagan subjects. But a little further on we shall have to return to the case of the pagan prince whose subjects have become Christian, and still more especially to the case of the Christian prince who turns unbeliever. For, according to St. Thomas, although in such circumstances the prince does not, ipso facto, lose his power, the Church can nevertheless take it away from him by sentence.

It remains to say here that whatever may have been the civil condition of infidels living in Christendom—of pagans, Saracens, Jews and so on—it was never permissible to invade their natural rights.[517] And so St. Thomas, who here appeals to the custom of the Church, forbids the baptism of young children of Jews and other unbelievers without the consent of their parents.[518] This teaching of St. Thomas—rejected by Scotus, who maintains that a prince would act well in ordering the baptism of all his subjects' children, whether Jews or infidels [519]—continued to prevail in the Church. It was sanctioned notably by a Bull of Julius III, dated 8th June 1551, [520] and by Benedict XIV's letter Postremo Mensae of 28th February 1747.[521]

For the same reason, unbelievers, even when they are subjects of Christian princes, are not to be compelled to enter the Church. The Decretum of Gratian (Part I, dist. 45, ch. 3) transcribes a letter addressed to Paschasius, Bishop of Naples, in which Pope St. Gregory forbids the disturbance of Jewish worship: "If with a right intention you would lead non-Christians to the true faith, you must use persuasion and not violence. For minds that might easily be enlightened by your explanations will be estranged by your hostility. All who, under colour of snatching men from false cults, go about it differently, show that they seek their own will rather than God's."[522] In Chapter 5 the Decretum reports the 57th Canon of the fourth national Council of Toledo in 633, concerning the Jews. As for those who had already been compelled to become Christian in the reign of Sisebut, and had received the sacraments, they should remain Christian, and the question of the validity of these extorted conversions should not be reopened. But "for the future, no one is to be constrained to believe. For the Lord hath mercy on whom he will, and whom he will he hardeneth (Rom. ix. 18). The Jews are not to be saved in spite of themselves, but freely, so that all justice be safeguarded. Conversions are to be made by consent, not constraint, by persuasion, not force."[523] Towards 1190, Clement III forbade "anyone to compel the Jews to receive Baptism against their will", and towards 1250 Innocent IV reminded the Archbishop of Arles of the same principles: "It is contrary to the Christian religion that any man, without willing it, and in spite of his absolute opposition, should be forced to become and remain a Christian."[524] Shortly afterwards, St. Thomas was writing in the Summa that "as for unbelievers who have never received the faith, such as the heathens and the Jews, they are by no means to be compelled to the faith in order that they may believe, because to believe depends on the will". When Christians wage war on unbelievers, "it is not for the purpose of forcing them to believe, because even if they were to conquer them and take them prisoners, they should still leave them free to believe if they will; but in order to prevent them from hindering the faith of Christ".[525] Finally, the Council of Trent declared that "the Church never passes judgment on anyone who has not yet come into her by the door of baptism."[526]

2. To sum up: the medieval Church, as such, regarded the natural rights of pagans as inviolable. She did not wish their children to be baptized against their will, nor that they themselves should be compelled to believe.

That applies in the first place to the unbelievers outside the Church who had a proper juridical status recognized by Christians. It cannot be denied that in the course of centuries writers appeared who hoped for the destruction of paganism by fire and sword, and made it a duty for princes to wage war on the pagans and compel them to believe; [527] but it is impossible to maintain that they express the authentic thought of the Church.

It applies also, naturally, to unbelieving ethnic groups, Slavs or Moors, allied with Christian princes, and, on that account, more or less incorporated into Christendom.

But it also applies even to unbelievers deprived of juridical status and reduced to bondage, for example, by a just war. If we grant that even these are not to be constrained to Baptism we shall be led to a solution of the pluralist type—the permission of more than one religion—especially if their numbers are considerable. There will be toleration for their rites and their manner of serving God. That, says St. Thomas, is the practice of the Church.[528] Undoubtedly there were theologians who, in such circumstances, would concede the right of Christian princes to impose the faith on unbelievers. But they did not express the true thought of the Church; and the later theological development, to which Benedict XIV is a witness, followed a different direction. They were careful for the most part to speak with reserve. Francis of Vittoria himself found it difficult to approve the measure by which, in 1502, the Moors of Spain were forced to choose between conversion and exile. Any political chief who forced a religion on his subjects would be stigmatized as a tyrant today by all theologians. And how could Christianity be forced on anyone without opening the door to sacrilege, and, notably, the worst of all, to sacrilege against the Eucharist?[529] It is indeed astonishing that this last consideration which, unfortunately, has nothing chimerical about it, [530] did not prevail in the minds of theologians of the calibre of Scotus and Vittoria.

C. The Juridical Condition Of The Jews In Medieval Christendom

Religious liberty, which had been taken from the Jews after 135 and restored to them by the Antonines, was in principle respected and guaranteed by the Christian Emperors. But it is clear that from the moment when the Empire was reconstructed on the basis of unity of faith, it could no longer welcome on an equal footing those Jews who, from the beginning, had shown themselves to be fierce adversaries of the Christians, and who intended to preserve their autonomy as a religious and ethnic group. Constantine saw them as people who had to be kept at arm's length. His successors, whose laws were incorporated in the Theodosian Code in the fifth century and in Justinian's in the seventh, while recognizing the Jewish religion as lawful, sought to favour the Christians and to keep them free from contamination by forbidding the Jews to build new synagogues, to marry Christian women, to convert Christians, to have Christian servants in their houses, and so on. It should be remarked that these laws were not in force for very long throughout the whole Empire, which was now beginning to crumble.[531]

The barbarian princes adapted the Roman legislation to their kingdoms with more or less strictness. At intervals, the severity of the laws was equalled or surpassed; thus Dagobert I in France (630) and Sisebut in Spain (612-613) ordered the Jews to receive Baptism under pain of exile. To the extent to which the principle of nationality asserted itself the Jewish dislike of fusion with the indigenous element drew stronger resentments on their heads. Their position in Spain during the century preceding the Arab invasion was very precarious.[532] Then were held those Councils of Toledo so remarkable for their dogmatic definitions on the Trinity and the Incarnation, but of which it has been said, in respect of their practical ordinances, that they were "less Councils than national assemblies of the Spanish monarchy, content to do no more, or little more, than register the decrees of their sovereigns". Gratian records several of their canons in the Decretum, and the severe spirit in which they were couched was to leave its mark on ecclesiastical legislation.[533] Charlemagne was rather less hard on the Jews. But from the thirteenth century to the end of the fifteenth their situation grew worse. Although in certain cities they achieved remarkable prosperity, they were banished successively from England, from France, from a large part of Germany, and then, in 1492, from Spain, where since 1480 the Inquisition, founded by the Catholic kings, functioned chiefly against the Marranos; and finally, in 1496, from Portugal.[534] They emigrated to Italy, Poland, the Ottoman Empire, and later to Holland and England.

1. The Jews Tolerated, Not In The Church But In Christendom

As long as they were not converted, the Jews, in medieval Christendom, by reason of their ethnico-religious autonomy, functioned as an alien body embedded in an organism.

From the standpoint of the Christian faith, their religion appeared as a kind of infidelity—less grave than heresy, since it was not a repudiation of the Christian faith.[535] That is the original meaning of the phrase "perfidia judaica".[536] Now the Church, as such, that is to say Christianity, the spiritual kingdom, can cheerfully tolerate sinful members within her, or again, a conflict of theological opinions, or the onerous conditions of a Concordat, and so on; but it is clear that she cannot tolerate infidelity in her own ranks, that her task is to fight it with all the spiritual weapons the Saviour has placed in her hands.

The Church, however, can readily agree that Christian princes, Christendom, the temporal kingdoms, should put a certain pluralism into practice in respect of other religious groups, and tolerate, for example, the exercise of infidel cults. Religious tolerance is then realized and takes effect on the plane of temporal life. Political rulers, the princes of the Christian states, or of the states of the Church, will accordingly admit the Jews to their territory under certain conditions, and will guarantee them the free exercise of their worship; they may act likewise with regard to other non-Christian peoples, Moslem populations for example, whom they may have subjugated in a just war.

2. The Special Reason For This Tolerance: The Mystery Of Israel

In the case of the Jews, says St. Thomas, there is, it is true, a special reason for toleration.[537] For their worship prefigured the Christian faith; they bear witness, in spite of themselves, to its truth; their remnants are to be saved at the end of time. What lies at the bottom of the Jewish question is the mystery of Israel. The Saviour pointed to this mystery when He predicted "the hardening of the hearts of the Jews (Matt. xii, 41; xiii. 12; xxiii. 36), the conversion of the Gentiles in default of the Jews (Matt. xxii. 8; xxiv. 14), and the final conversion of the Jews (Matt. xxiii. 39)."[538] And for the Christians of the Gentile world St. Paul unveils the profound significance of these prophecies (Rom. ix-xi). He reminds them first that the Old Testament prophecies have not been falsified, since they are realized in the spiritual Israel, the Church: "Not as though the word of God hath miscarried, for all are not Israelites that are of Israel" (ix. 6). Then he considers the lot of carnal Israel, the Jewish people. Their rejection is full of mystery and their prerogatives remain astonishing: the offence of the Jews becomes the riches of the world: it hastens the conversion of the Gentiles, and that will one day provoke a salutary jealousy in the Jews. "I say then: have they so stumbled that they should fall? God forbid. But by their offence salvation is come to the Gentiles, [539] that they may be emulous of them. Now if the offence of them be the riches of the world, and the diminution of them the riches of the Gentiles: how much more the fullness of them?" (Rom. xi. 12). They are and always will be, in a way, a people consecrated to God, dedicated to God; and if the nations are in the Church as a wild olive grafted on a good tree, they too will one day be in her as on their own olive tree. "If the root be holy, so are the branches. And if some of the branches be broken, and thou, being a wild olive, art engrafted in them, and art made partakers of the root and of the fatness of the olive tree: boast not against the branches. . . If thou wert grafted into the good olive tree, how much more shall they, that are the natural branches, be grafted into their own olive tree?" (16-24). If they continue as a people in spite of their dispersion, it is that they may be one day re-integrated in the Church. "I would not have you ignorant, brethren, of this mystery. . . that blindness in part has happened in Israel until the fullness of the Gentiles should come in. And so all Israel should be saved" (25-26). Then, as their rejection had provoked the reconciliation of the Gentiles, their re-integration will provoke a resurrection of the dead (15). It is therefore clear that they are still the people of God, somewhat as a rebellious son remains a son, and an apostate priest remains a priest, in virtue of an election which, for all their refusal of the Gospel, remains irrevocable: "As concerning the gospel indeed they are enemies for your sake; but as touching the election they are most dear for the sake of the fathers. For the gifts and the calling of God are without repentance" (28-29). The nature of the mystery that weighs upon Israel according to the flesh can be glimpsed: it is the mystery of a people chosen for the purpose of inaugurating the Church and refusing the grace of the Church, but whose lot remains bound up with that of the Church. It marks in reverse the theme traced through history by the Church in relief. This people, primarily no doubt in its books, but also in its flesh, is the bearer of prophecies.[540] There was therefore a special reason to tolerate it in medieval Christendom, but this tolerance had to be prudently hedged about. The Jews could exercise their religion, but proselytism was forbidden them, the publicity of their worship was reduced, [541] and the number of their synagogues limited.[542] And when, between 1238 and 1240, the blasphemies of the Talmud against Christ were discovered, the book was ordered to be burnt.[543]

3. The Civil Status Of The Jews

These restrictions on their worship did not, as we have pointed out, touch the natural rights of the Jews. Their children could not be taken from them nor Baptism forced on them. The dilemma of conversion or exile, although it survived a long time in the practice of princes or of certain bishops, was condemned even by one of the national Councils of Toledo.[544] The general teaching of the Church is clear.[545]

But from the civic point of view, the rights of the Jews, like those of other unbelievers, were strictly limited. They were forbidden to exercise any public functions, a prohibition that applied also to Saracens; [546] for how could those who rejected the mystery of Christ be given the direction of a society composed of Christians alone?[547] If the feudal regime hardly allowed them to become great proprietors they could at any rate hold landed property and let it to agricultural workers, who, however, could neither eat nor lodge with them; [548] but neither they nor the Saracens could have Christian slaves in their houses, since their faith would be endangered.[549] A Jew could neither buy nor keep in service any of the baptized, nor any unbeliever asking for Baptism; if he had bought for re-sale any infidel seeking Baptism, he had to turn him over to Christians, subject to due compensation.[550] The Jews were obliged, like the Saracens, to wear clothes that differed from those of the Christians, so as to hinder marriages and other close relations with Christians.[551] They grouped themselves, quite spontaneously to start with, in the same quarter of the town around their synagogue; but later on, in the fifteenth century, and especially in Spain and the Pontifical States, they were forcibly confined to these ghettos.[552]

4. How Justified

At the moment when it opted against its Messiah, [553] the messianic people mysteriously and irremediably left the ways marked out for it by Providence. Till the day of its reintegration in the Church dawns, Israel will be a disorientated and frustrated people, and the Jewish problem will find no solution.

Was the mystery of Israel to be stamped on the secular history of this people, and thus to influence also the temporal destinies of the Jews? The ancients thought so.[554] We may take them to task perhaps for looking at it a little too narrowly, for taking very accidental or even very dubious forms of "fulfilment" as the logical upshot of the prophecies. Thus the impossibility of incorporating the Jews in a constitutionally Christian society and the restrictions with which they had to be surrounded in a consecrational regime, seemed to be so many direct consequences of their primary deviation. And further, the state of servitude into which the Jews fell for various reasons after the Crusades [555] was thought to be justified, in so far as it had become a part of the public law, by their initial transgression. Thence it comes that texts of Innocent III and of St. Thomas on the servitude of the Jews [556] may bring together considerations of very unequal value, but following in strict sequence: the carnal Israel has preferred the religion of servitude to the religion of liberty (cf. Gal. iv. 21-30); [557] it has departed from the ways of providence till the day of its re-integration (Rom. xi); it cannot mingle with a consecrational Christendom; the public law at the end of the Middle Ages considers it as in bondage. The origins of this bondage are sometimes sought far back.[558] In reality it had no other foundation than the actual laws of the period.

5. An Appreciation Of The Medieval Solution

The theologian is under no obligation to justify all the laws brought to bear on the Jews by provincial Councils or by the Popes, the latter, notably, as princes of the Pontifical States.[559] He is even less bound to take up the defence of all that was done in Christendom against the Jews. Medieval Christendom was an attempt at political organization under the sign of the Christian faith; it was very far from making perfect application of the principles of the Gospel on the plane of social and political life. We must realize however that the Papacy always aimed at keeping the Jewish problem clear of the political or religious passions that obscured it, and at bringing it back to its essentials. The measures the Popes adopted to regulate the activities of the Jews and to limit their influence, were dictated by the need to maintain the basic principle of the political constitution of the West. They belonged to the logic of a consecrational conception of the temporal order which, by definition, granted the quality of citizenship to Christians alone.[560] Doubtless they did not amount to the solution of the Jewish problem. They were but a solution, a political and provisional compromise. "The Middle Ages tried out a consecrational solution, in conformity with the typical structure of the contemporary civilisation. This solution, the solution of the ghetto, based on the fact of a divine chastisement hanging over Israel, and giving the Jews the status of foreigners in the Christian society, was of its nature hard, and in application often iniquitous and ferocious; it proceeded however from a lofty idea. . .; of the religious order, and nowise racial, it recognized the privilege of the soul, and the Jew, when baptized, entered as of right into the full convivium of the Christian society. This medieval solution has passed away to return no more, like the type of civilization from which it Sprang."[561]

Where this medieval solution is concerned, we must make a careful distinction between (1) a modus vivendi political by nature, which was, obviously, imperfect, but which, permitting as it did the peaceful living side by side of Jews and Christians, by the same token was a good, and which the Church could in consequence approve as valid in the temporal order; (2) the vexations and iniquities which the Jews suffered at the hands of the Christians, whether rulers or subjects, clerics or laymen, in the practical application of this modus vivendi, and which, in consequence, the Church as such has never accepted as her own responsibility.

The political emancipation of the Jews began in Holland in the seventeenth century, and then spread to England. "The young United States of America recognized the political equality of Jewish citizens. . . In 1791 the French Revolution granted the status of active citizens to the Jews, but on condition that they renounced all national particularism. The other states, except Russia, followed this example sooner or later. The Jew need not any longer be an object of contempt. The importance of the Jews in the world became considerable. But the Jewish problem remains. HOW could religious liberalism provide the solution? It ignored on the one hand the mystery of the Church on which hangs the notion of a truly human temporal order; and, on the other, it ignored the mystery of Israel, of the election that still rules the destinies of this people and will do so till the day of its conversion. Some notice will have to be taken of this two-fold datum if it is desired to fix the place of the Jews in the Christendom of the future."[562]

D. The Position Of Heretics

The condition of heretics in the old consecrational Christendom was quite other than that of the Jews and of simple unbelievers.

Instead of flourishing outside the Church like Judaism and paganism, heresy is an evil that infects her own subjects, those who belong to her fully and visibly; gaining on her like a cancer on its parent organism. The Church has then to fight in her own members against the seductions that carry them away. She can avail herself of canonical penalties to remind them of their former solemn promises and to save the rest of the faithful from apostasy. The common doctrine of the Church has always looked with very different eyes, first, from the speculative standpoint, on the infidelity of Jews and pagans as compared with that of heretics; and again, from the canonical standpoint, on those who have never been her members, as compared with those who at first were so and have fallen away.

These considerations are valid for all ages. But in the Middle Ages the position of heretics had a special significance. In a society which never pretended to contain any but Christians, any but visible members of the Church, heresy loomed up unexpectedly as something anarchic, something capable of destroying the whole political and social structure from within. It amounted to a crime against the public safety. And a crime it would have to remain until it became strong enough itself to form independent political organizations of its own and to defend them by arms—when we have the period of the "wars of religion"; finally new heretical States arose, also modelled on the consecrational ideal, and, like the medieval State, proscribing any new "heresies", that might arise within them.

Thus, as long as temporal society was ruled by this consecrational ideal, which, at the fall of the Roman Empire, saved the Western world—but which eventually ceased to be useful—heresy amounted to a political disorder with which it was impossible in principle to make terms, [563] whether it was professed inwardly in good faith or bad. Let us rather say that as long as the consecrational temporal order was legitimate, the political harmfulness of all heresy was evident to everybody, and that in this sense good faith could not be presumed.

When the consecrational temporal order broke down, it was the spirit of indifference, of unbelief, of hatred of Christianity, religious liberalism grown powerful on account of the scandalous divisions of the Reformation, which was to take up the tale and put its stamp on Western civilisation. And that is why the Church tried to save the old order of things for as long as possible. We may venture to think that she would have defended it less energetically—that she would have abandoned it spontaneously, even boldly—if she had found a more enlightened faith and a higher sanctity in more of her children, and if, in consequence, she had felt it possible to pass to a secular Christian order without any tragic break.

E. Characters Of Consecrational Christendom

1. Compenetration Of Church And State

From a first regime in which she had remained external to the State, which had showed itself hostile and persecuting but later became more friendly, the Church passed gradually to a regime in which a portion of her being became entangled in the stuff of the State and there took on a growing importance.

Undoubtedly in herself the Church remains outside and transcends all states, whether we consider her primary essential function which is to form the Kingdom of God, or her secondary essential function which is to sanctify the social, political and cultural work of mankind. But historically, by reason of the Christian values included in the very definition of the medieval State, the Church came in a way to be mirrored in the State; which nevertheless remained essentially distinct from her and inadequate to her. Thus the State received a consecrational character.

The Church exerted a profound influence on the affairs of the State. She was involved, in a way, with the administration of the temporal, by the fact that the very texture of the "consecrational "temporal order comprised supernatural values, such, for instance, as the profession of the Catholic faith, which none but she could define or control. Not that she needed to encroach on the jurisdiction of the princes. But she was then doubly authorized to remind them of their duty to defend the common good of the State: first under her general and permanent title as guardian and illuminator of temporal values; and then under a special and temporary title, due to the supernatural element incorporated and incarnated in the structure of the consecrational State. It was never, to be sure, the business of the Church herself to defend the faith considered as representing political values, or herself to take up arms on behalf of the State and the spiritual interests embodied in it. But under a consecrational regime she could impose this duty on princes with very special insistence. There we have one of the reasons for the intimate compenetration of the spiritual and the temporal in medieval times.

2. "Church" And "Christendom" Partially Synonymous

We can, and commonly do, distinguish the Church, the spiritual and indefectible Kingdom, from Christendom, that is to say the temporal and perishable kingdoms, the societies which, being consecrational, themselves insisted on unity of faith, but as an element of their political unity.

However, since a consecrational Christendom comprised a spiritual element as one of its components, and was so penetrated by the Church that the latter descended in a way into the very heart of the State, there was a natural tendency to extend the name of the Church to cover Christendom itself. Taken in this large and improper sense the Church englobed Christendom.

It was on this account that, having quoted Gregory IX, who in 1229 saw in the University of Paris "the river that waters and fertilizes the whole paradise of the Church", and Jourdain, who considered it (along with the priesthood and the Empire) as the third of the institutions necessary to the Church, Etienne Gilson adds that "we observe at this period a strong tendency to identify. . . Christendom with the Church, as if the temporal and historical matter had already been wholly absorbed into the spirituality of its end. In reality, the University of Paris never was, and could not be, an institution of the Church, but was rather a French institution adopted by the Church to become an essential pivot of Christendom. We must be quite clear on this point, which is not without its importance even for the present state of the problem of Christendom."[564] We have seen St. Thomas writing that the Jews are bondsmen of the Church [565] (by reason of their temporal submission to the prince of the Pontifical State, or the other princes of Christendom); and again that the Church has tolerated the rites of unbelievers [566] (it was in Christendom, not in the Church that the rites were tolerated); and he says in a Quodlibet that the Church has armies and that the kings are her vassals [567] (which can evidently be valid only for Christendom and for the Pope as a prince of Christendom). When Pope Boniface VIII declared in the Bull Unam Sanctam that the Church "has both swords, that is the spiritual and the temporal, in her power", he affirms that the temporal power is in the bosom of the Church only because he too takes the word Church in the sense of Christendom.[568]

However, in the Middle Ages the word "Christendom" was usually taken in a sense rather different from that of the word "Church". It always connoted, whether directly or indirectly, proximately or remotely, the Church herself. But it directed attention rather on her lay elements, her relations with the world of culture, her temporal interests, her social activities and embodiments, the organized political whole she was trying to sanctify, and even on the peoples of the Byzantine Empire which the Middle Ages never gave up as finally lost to the unity of the Church.[569]

3. Consecrational Christendom A Dynamic Ideal Rather Than A Realized Idea

I shall try to define this consecrational Christendom, to grasp it in its essential type. But this essential type was never completely embodied in concrete fact along with all its implied consequences.

It was on its way to realization in medieval times. It showed itself first as a formative impulse directing and sustaining the movement of culture, like a seed fallen into the soil of history and there gradually unfolding its virtualities. As the Church came to fuller consciousness of her victory over the ancient world, the spiritual element she had deposited at the heart of the consecrational society gained ever more and more control and more clearly manifested its exigencies: thus, for example, the measures taken against heretics became more rigorous and even extended to the Western schismatics;[570] thus the excommunication of princes, by a consequence that does not seem to have been directly envisaged at first, began to involve their deposition.[571]

While the consecrational order was evolving in accordance with its own internal logic and was revealing its multiple implications with ever greater precision, it seems that faith too would have to keep pace with it and become ever more and more delicate and more profound: for although the consecrational order, being temporal, could tolerate many defects,[572] it nevertheless tended to establish a very high ideal of social life, and one that was deeply saturated with the data of revelation.[573] Unfortunately, instead of presenting the spectacle of an interior growth of the evangelical life, the end of the Middle Ages displays, in every branch of human activity, the advent of a spirit of independence finding ever more and more difficulty in accommodating itself to the rules of the faith and of the Christian life. The demands of the consecrational regime became more and more imperious, but the difficulty of maintaining and applying it increased from day to day. The Sovereign Pontiffs were constrained to a growing severity. From Gregory VII or from Innocent III, to Gregory IX, to Innocent IV, to Boniface VIII or to St. Pius V, their task seemed to become ever more overwhelming. We feel that the end of a world is in preparation and that consecrational Christendom, whose role had been so glorious, was beginning to crumble under its own weight.

2. Authority Over The Temporal In A Consecrational Regime

A. The Power Of The Prince

St. Paul recommended the faithful to obey authorities that were pagan, but, in the Middle Ages, faith and communion with the Church became indispensable for the legitimacy of the princely authority.


St. Thomas relies on the authority of Gregory VII, who released the subjects of an excommunicated prince from their oaths of allegiance, to establish that an apostate prince cannot retain his power.[574] Why not? It was not because unbelief of necessity does away with dominion: for an unbelieving prince can rule legitimately over unbelievers, and, in certain cases, over believers. It was in virtue of particular historical circumstances which gave the Church the right to intervene in the organization of political society on account of the Christians who were its members. "Unbelief, in itself, is not inconsistent with dominion, since dominion is a device of the law of nations which is a human law; whereas the distinction between believers and unbelievers is of divine law, which does not annul human law. Nevertheless a man who sins by unbelief may be sentenced to the loss of his right of dominion, as also, sometimes, on account of other sins."

A little further back St. Thomas treats of dominion and unbelief in a broader way, not in connection with apostasy, but with the simple unbelief of a prince who had never belonged to the Church, and who therefore can never be subject to any canonical penalty.[575] The principles involved are the same. "Dominion and authority [dominium et praelatio] are institutions of human law, while the distinction between faithful and unbelievers arises from the divine law. Now the divine law, which is the law of grace, does not do away with human law, which is the law of natural reason. Wherefore the distinction between faithful and unbelievers, considered in itself, does not do away with dominion and authority of unbelievers over the faithful. Nevertheless this right of dominion or authority can be justly done away with by the sentence or ordination of the Church, which has the authority of God." And here is the reason: "since unbelievers in virtue of their unbelief deserve to forfeit their power over the faithful who are converted into children of God."

Thus therefore certain effects of the law of nations, such as the principle of legitimacy, can at times be set aside by sentence of the Church. On the consecrational hypothesis it is in fact clear that society cannot be left to an apostate prince nor entrusted to an unbelieving prince. The legitimate prince is a member of the Church, intra Ecclesiam.[576]

2. The Two Politically Legitimate Regimes Recognized By The Ancients

The texts of St. Thomas himself thus introduce us to two political regimes, both legitimate.

In the first, the prince is an unbeliever. His power, based on human law depending on natural reason, is entitled to respect by the Christian conscience. The Apostle Paul recognises the authority of a prince, such as Nero, and he speaks to the Philippians (see St. Thomas II-II, q. 10, a. 10, obj. 2) of saints in Caesar's household (iv. 22).

In the second regime, political unity demands religious unity. Hence no unbelieving prince can be legitimate. Also there will be no question of appealing to any unbelieving potentate without—that is to say to any not incorporated in the Catholic Church—to rule the Christian society.[577] Next, if we suppose an unbelieving prince whose subjects are beginning to pass to the true faith, this prince could be repudiated as soon as conversions became numerous enough [578] to warrant, without injustice or scandal, the foundation of a consecrational State. Finally, an apostate prince will be deposed. As we see, the duty of civic obedience to pagan Emperors like Nero, or "apostates" like Julian,[579] recognized under the first Christian regime, ceased to be justifiable under the second.

The conditions of legitimacy could thus undergo profound modifications when the constitution of political society was altered.

3. Political Augustinianism And Consecrational Politics

Why was the primitive principle of legitimacy judged to be insufficient in the Middle Ages, and under what immediate ideological influence was it transformed?

This change was certainly due to a large extent to the current of thought known as "political Augustinianism".[580] Numerous ecclesiastical writers, taking their cue from texts of St. Augustine on the impossibility of any true justice, any true peace, and consequently any true republic, before the coming of Christ, concluded—but against Augustine's own thought—that the ancient world, and, more generally, all unbelieving nations, could enjoy no incontestable political rights, and that the Church alone could introduce the principle of political legitimacy to the peoples she converted. There can be no question of denying the importance of this movement of ideas, which developed, as we have indicated, on the margins of the authentic theological tradition. But precisely on that account it fails to provide the fundamental explanation of the medieval political system; and I believe that the greater part of its success came from the fact that it was a very much simplified and very crude justification of a state of things which rested in reality on much more complex and much subtler considerations: a state of things which I have called the consecrational political regime.

Thus, the principle of political Augustinianism would explain, doubtless very clearly, that an apostate prince, by leaving the Church in which lies the source of all legitimate political order, would at once lose his rights of dominion. But the explanation would be a bad one, because, by starting from the same premises, we could conclude that the princes of unbelieving peoples were without rights and could be dispossessed simply in virtue of their unbelief. That, in fact, is how the opponents of Cajetan, Vittoria, and Las Casas reasoned at the moment of the conquest of the West Indies.

In the light of the principle of the consecrational State things take on a different aspect. There exists a human law, based on reason, which is not necessarily done away with when the divine law, based on grace, supervenes. Outside Christendom, this human law is the sole one. It ought to be held as sacred by Christian princes, and also by the faithful who live scattered among the nations, in conditions analogous with those of the Christians in the time of Nero or Julian the Apostate. But in societies whose political unity is based on unity of faith, where Christians are organizing themselves politically as Christians, when the regime is consecrational, a new element, of which the Church alone is judge, enters into the qualification of the citizen, and, a fortiori, that of the legitimate prince. It is evident that a man under excommunication cannot. retain the dominion. Human law, founded on reason, is not indeed renounced; it is partially neutralized by the law inscribed in the very constitution of the society and vanishes in the exact measure in which it opposes the superior exigencies of this fundamental law. Is not that, after all, the teaching of James of Viterbo? He poses the question: Was the temporal power instituted by the spiritual power? Or does it find its foundation in nature? "Between these two opposed paths we can find a middle and more reasonable one by saying that the temporal power results materially and initially [inchoative] from the natural inclination of men, and therefore from God Himself inasmuch as a work of nature is a work of God; but that it results formally and fully [perfective] from the spiritual power. . . That a man receives authority over men belongs to human law founded on nature. But that one of the faithful receives authority over the faithful, comes of divine law, issue of grace. For it is grace, not nature, that makes the faithful; and since the divine law is in the hands of the Vicar of Christ, it is to him that belongs the institution of faithful kings and of temporal power over the faithful as such. Also in the Church [here read Christendom] the temporal prince has power over men by human law and over the faithful by divine law. And if the faith fulfils [informat] nature, the spiritual power institutes the temporal by fulfilling it and fulfils it by instituting it."[581]

4. Institution And Deposition Of The Temporal Power

1. In seeking to justify the formula of Hugh of St. Victor, famous in the Middle Ages, according to which "the spiritual power has to institute the temporal that it may exist, and must judge it if it behaves ill",[582] James of Viterbo distinguishes, in the passage cited, two complements, two fulfillments, which the political authority can receive from the spiritual order: first that of faith, without which it would be neither wholly true nor complete; and then that of the approbation and ratification of the "sacring", the anointing.

Of the necessity of faith and visible membership of the Church enough has been said. Clearly, such will not suffice for a principle of legitimacy: in itself, it is simply a prerequisite. Accidentally, however, in virtue of circumstances, it could decide accession to the throne.

What now is the meaning of the sacring, the consecration, the anointing? It was left undecided. In itself it was but a simple sacramental designed to call down the divine benediction on a Christian prince.[583] But in certain historical crises it could take on a larger significance; and, for example, in the case of a competition for the throne, it could serve to designate that candidate whose faith and communion with the Church was beyond doubt, and who alone, in consequence, could remain legitimate prince. The consecration then served for a sign of loyal membership of the Church.

2. It was within the outlook of a consecrational political organization, and in the limited way we have described, that the Church could be said to institute the temporal authority. We shall have to retain this outlook to understand how she came to be able to depose princes. Her canonical power itself gave her the right to excommunicate a prince guilty of apostasy or of some scandalous crime. The consequence, in a consecrational regime, was clear. St. Thomas, relying on the authority of Gregory VII, formulates it thus: "As soon as sentence of excommunication is passed on a prince for apostasy from the faith, his subjects are ipso facto absolved from his authority and from the oath of allegiance whereby they were bound to him." The excommunication necessarily entailed deposition, and the canonical intervention thus penetrated into the very heart of politics. But this necessary consequence was operative only in a consecrational regime; and, in this sense, it can be said to have been accidental. We see in what context we must place the sentence of 1080, by which Gregory VII, for the second time, excommunicated and deposed King Henry.[584]

Up to this point we have considered the deposition of princes only in an abstract and theoretical way. In practice, things did not stop there. We see the Pope placing the vassals of an apostate prince under obligations of conscience to take up arms against him, and to take the responsibility for violent action on themselves: that much he could still do in virtue of his canonical power, as we shall soon see. But we further see the Pope himself take over the direction of military operations against rebellious princes: that is something he could not do save in virtue of a temporal and extra-canonical power, as prince, for example, of the Pontifical State or as Protector of Christendom.

3. In a text already quoted St. Thomas wrote that "this right of dominion or authority [of unbelievers over the faithful] can be justly done away with by the sentence or ordination of the Church which has the authority of God: since unbelievers [here, those who have never been subjects of the Church] in virtue of their unbelief deserve to forfeit their power over the faithful who are converted into children of God."[585] And Francis of Vittoria explains, in his commentary on this article, that "wherever there are Christians the Church has rights over them; and that is why, in punishment for their infidelity, since unbelievers might turn Christians from their faith, the Church can do away with the power of unbelievers." It is certain in fact that wherever there are Christians the Church has divine authority to intervene and to defend the faith: in her own spiritual way however, and by the spiritual means (material or moral) that are properly hers. It is further certain that the Church will have the right—but solely in a consecrational regime—in order to defend the faith which has accidentally become a political value, to have recourse to those severe means which societies commonly use to protect their own existence and fundamental laws against enemies within and without. From this standpoint St. Thomas is able to affirm with justice that the Church always has the right to annul the dominion or lordship of unbelievers over Christians; and that, when she abstains from its exercise, it is merely "to avoid scandal".[586] But neither he nor the medieval writers envisaged the possibility of another type of Christian society that would not demand unity of faith and visible communion with the Church as the indispensable basis of political unity. They knew only of two forms of political legitimacy: that of the paganism mentioned by St. Paul; and that of consecrational Christendom which they hoped would last till the end of the world, and which is today no more. For my own part, I believe in the coming of a third form of political legitimacy, that of a secular Christendom.

B. The Power Of The Clergy

It was the canonical power that directly pertained to the clergy; but, as we shall see, an extra-canonical or temporal power could, for various reasons, be superadded.

1. The Field Of The Canonical Power In The Middle Ages

The canonical power exists for the spiritual kingdom, for the Church. Its essential and permanent task is to rule this kingdom, to extend and defend it by those spiritual means alone (whether of the material or the moral order) bequeathed her by Christ and the Apostles; and not by the heavy-handed political means with which princes are accustomed to rule the kingdoms of this world. "Jesus said to him: put up again thy sword into its place, for all who take the sword shall perish with the sword" (Matt. xxvi. 52). "My kingdom is not of this world; if my kingdom were of this world my servants would certainly strive that I should not be delivered to the Jews" (John xviii. 36). That applies to the Church as such, for all time, and for every country on earth.[587]

But a special phenomenon appeared in the Middle Ages. In virtue of the principle that bases political unity on the unity of visible communion with the Church, a spiritual element descended into the civil order and became one of its components. Since this element, taken in itself, was spiritual, it remained subject to the Church which had sole authority to define and control it. However, from the fact of its incorporation in the city it could and should be defended not only with spiritual ends in view, for the sake of and by the spiritual means of the Church, but also with temporal ends in view, for the sake of the civil order and by the temporal means at the disposal of states; it could and ought to be defended not only as a value of Christianity, but also as a value of Christendom. To the degree in which the constitution of the medieval society recognized the faith as a value intrinsic to its common good, it is clear that the Church could require the faith to be defended with all the machinery used by cities in defence of their common good.

2. The Canonical Power's Two Ways Of Calling On The Secular Arm

Here we enter on the delicate problem of recourse to the secular arm. We can imagine two ways in which the canonical power might call on the secular power for its use, and two ways in which the secular power might subordinate itself to the canonical.

Either the secular power consents for the moment to act for a spiritual end, for the sake of the Church as such—by expelling, for example, at the Church's request, public sinners less noxious to itself than to the Church, whose moral standards are stricter. In that case it puts itself at the disposal of the canonical power as a pure instrument, the latter taking the initiative and the direct responsibility, and merely requiring the thing to be done with due regard to its spiritual nature and with less than the usual temporal severity. What is done thus by the secular arm is spiritualised by the Church and pertains to her own kingdom.

Or else the canonical power, by reason of the spiritual element interwoven into the very texture of the temporal and constituting its supreme value, throws its influence over the temporal as a whole, making it a pressing duty for the secular power to defend this supreme value by its own proper means, and to oppose those who seek to overturn it, in its own proper way.

In the first case, the Church asks the secular power to act as a pure instrument for the Church's ends and in the Church's way. In the second case she asks it to act as an autonomous temporal cause fulfilling its proper temporal task (that she can do at all times) while specifying (and this she can do only in a consecrational regime) that the fulfilment of the temporal task involves the defence, by temporal means and in a temporal way, of those spiritual values that are bound up with the temporal.

3. The Two Swords

To the question: does the Church hold both swords? we can now, from a strictly theological standpoint,[588] give a first answer.

It is to be noted to start with that the "spiritual sword ', means the canonical power, which is not merely coercive but also legislative and judiciary, and that the "material" or "temporal" sword means the secular power, which also is not merely coercive but legislative and judiciary. That the Church holds the spiritual sword is clear enough. Further, to the extent to which she can have recourse to the "temporal sword" it may be said that she has it, possesses it. But this possession is to be understood in two very different ways.

The Church holds the temporal sword above all when she makes it serve as an instrument for ends that are directly spiritual (from which action the State also will reap advantage). Thus she transforms an instrument which in virtue of its end is temporal into one that in virtue of its end is spiritual. She makes it her own. But on condition that she directs its use, restrains its violence, forbidding for example the shedding of blood and the death penalty, and so refusing to hold as licit for herself what is so only for the State, to confuse the righteousness of the Kingdom of Heaven with that of the kingdoms of this world. Because it is the mission of the Church to embody the Kingdom of Heaven in the world and to take all the measures this demands, she can on occasion, notably in certain political conditions which were those that obtained in medieval society, use the temporal sword as an instrument and thus extend her field of action; but because the Church is not a kingdom of this world she cannot use this temporal sword without many restrictions.

Again, the Church has the temporal sword, this time in quite another sense, when she asks or commands the State to use it for ends that are directly temporal; and in the consecrational State she has a special title to do so on account of the Christian values incorporated in society. She does not then transform the sword into an instrument of the spiritual; she leaves it all its character as temporal means—to be used with justice and charity certainly, but in accordance with the measure of justice and charity that God has assigned to the kingdoms of this world, differing widely from the measure He has assigned to His own Kingdom amongst men. To speak strictly, the temporal sword then remains with the State, which has the direct use of it; it belongs to the Church only in a broad sense, and she cannot take the responsibility for the temporal character of the effects produced.

4. The Canonical Power Not Responsible For Bloodshed

To defend a spiritual value, inasmuch as in a consecrational regime it has become a civic value, by the temporal means at the disposal of the State, notably by recourse to war and the punishment of death, is a task that can doubtless be called spiritual by reason of the thing defended, but is of itself, and formally, a temporal one. It is carried out by the State. But the Church is concerned in it. How?

1. She is concerned, clearly enough, in this sense, that she asks and commands the State to carry out, in its own name and on its own responsibility, this temporal task. She is acting then as the Church, and with spiritual authority. But the State, if it does its duty and obeys, will act as temporal authority and on its own behalf (not as instrument of the Church and on behalf of the Church), and the responsibility for adopting severe measures will fall on the State and not on the Church. The latter, writes L. Choupin, "is, by divine right, judge of the obligations lying on the faithful. She can therefore remind and admonish the prince of the duty that lies on him to use force not only to apply the temporal penalties [589] inflicted by her, but also to punish by severer chastisements those grave religious offences which are, at the same time, social crimes,[590] a duty which the State is to fulfil in its own name, and by no means in the name of, or by the authority of, the Church. And since the Church does not only judge of duties in general, but also of particular cases, she can easily, in certain determinate circumstances, admonish the prince, with sanctions at call (interdict, excommunication), that he is bound in conscience to act with severity, to use the sword (in his own name, not in that of the Church) against the enemies of religion, as he does against other disturbers of the public peace, of the social order, e. g., against incendiaries. A prince who is gravely negligent in this matter, as in all that touches the moral order, is subject to the jurisdiction of the Church."[591]

2. It is of the first importance here to state the role of the Church with precision. It belonged to the spiritual mission of Christ to remind men of what they owed directly to Caesar—thus He confirmed Caesar's authority, but did not act as a temporal king and make Caesar's rights His own, or abolish the dividing-line between His kingdom and those of this world. Similarly it belongs to the spiritual mission of the Church to remind the State of the duties of its temporal mission, to ask it, even in some circumstances to direct it, to act in accordance with its own temporal laws, for its own temporal ends, which are good: thus she sanctions and defends the rights of the temporal, but does not become temporal herself or exchange her own spiritual ways for the temporal ways of the State. Certainly, if a churchman counsels or directs the State to do anything perverse, this churchman (not the Church: qui facit peccatum ex diabolo est, 1. John iii. 8) will then be responsible for the malice of the ends and effects sought. But when the Church directs the State to obey its own righteous temporal laws (and here we assume that recourse to war and the death-penalty can be sometimes legitimate), she is in no way the cause of, and consequently in no way responsible for, the harsh and temporal character of the means employed or effects sought. She can adopt and approve this character, if you like, for the sake of the State, never for her own sake; somewhat as God made time for the sake of mutable things, not for His own sake, since He is unaffected by time. She cannot err to the point of considering the means, even just means, freely used by temporal kingdoms, as suitable means for the Kingdom of Heaven; or of confusing the righteousness of Caesar's business with that of God's business. Just as a saint does well to direct a beginner to act in accordance with the ways of beginners—ways that would sully his own soul and are not to be ascribed to him without injustice—so the Church does well to require things from States which are just for States, but would not be just for her. Only those could blame her who lack a sufficiently deep understanding of the Gospel distinction between the spiritual society and temporal societies.

3. The objections brought against this interpretation largely arise, I believe, from imagining the Church as utilizing the harsh means of the State—such as the punishment of death and war—as instruments for her own spiritual ends. Evidently, if the sword could be properly drawn for the ends of the Church, then it would really be the Church herself who drew it, and the Church would be immediately responsible (with an immediacy not perhaps of contact, "supposital", but certainly of action, of "virtue" which is more important). On this hypothesis, the Church as such would have the right, at least in an eminent manner, to have recourse to the death penalty and to war. In the Middle Ages she would have effectively dipped her hand in blood, and assumed the responsibility for bloodshedding.[592] That, I agree, was a very common view among the theologians and canonists of the Renaissance. Suarez even calls it "Catholic".[593] However, in the eyes of modern theologians it seems to be quite uncalled for. Its chief weakness lies in too closely identifying the two societies, temporal and spiritual, and in failing to notice that their likeness is merely analogical. It does not distinguish with any precision between the privileges belonging to the clergy in virtue of their jurisdictional power alone, and those that accrued to them accidentally owing to the peculiar temporal organization of medieval times. We are left to conclude, moreover, that since the Church is a perfect society she has as much right to use the sword as the State, even if not in the same manner as the State.[594] The Church, it was said, possesses it eminently; she takes as such the responsibility for the holy war against the pagans and for the extermination of the heretics; the forces of the State are no more than her instrument. But this explanation of the great historical events of the Middle Ages involved an abandonment of the high conception of St. Augustine, who agreed indeed to accept the help of the State, but only if it were spiritualized to start with, so that, for example, the Church was not dishonoured by the shedding of blood. And it whittled down the profound distinction made in the Gospel between the Kingdom of God, which does not defend itself by arms, and the kingdoms of this world, which may legitimately do so.

For my own part, I wish to propose quite another view. I have said that by reason of the spiritual values invested in the temporal common good in a consecrational regime, it was this temporal common good itself which the Church required to be defended, by temporal means used in accordance with their own laws. And if the order of agents always corresponds to the order of ends, the principal agent who bears the responsibility for the defence of the temporal, can be only a temporal agent; subjected to the Church as an autonomous cause of a lower order is subjected to a cause of a higher order, but not as an instrument is subjected to its principal cause.

Does this cover the facts? Did the Church indeed descend no further into the temporal?

She did not, that is if we speak strictly of the canonical power, of the Church as such, of the Church that is Christianity and the Kingdom of God. But of course such strictly canonical interventions do not tell the whole story of the influence of the clergy on the great events of medieval history. Other prerogatives were involved.

5. The Extra-Canonical Powers Of The Clergy

Since the canonical power is spiritual, the extra-canonical powers here referred to cannot, in themselves, be other than temporal.

1. The existence of one of these is contested by nobody. To safeguard the independence of his spiritual and apostolic power the Sovereign Pontiff was led—in the eyes of the Middle Ages it was the best solution—to assume a temporal and political power. He was the head of the universal Church; he became, besides, the prince of a Roman State. He had to assume therefore all the cares of a temporal administration, to react by force against internal disorders (seditions, robberies, heresies and the rest) or against attacks by Christian princes or by Saracens. Hence too he had to have vassals who could be armed and mobilized when the security of the Pontifical or of allied States was threatened. The whole of this vast activity, which occupies so much of the attention of historians, is, in the eyes of theologians, a temporal and political activity juxtaposed to the spiritual and apostolic power with a view to protecting its exercise. The Pope, as ruler of his State, could, and could rightly, do many things which he had neither the right nor the power to do as ruler of the Church. The Pontifical State was one of the kingdoms of this world for whose sake it is allowable to take up arms.

So also in the case of the prince-bishops, we have to distinguish a canonical power which they exercised as bishops in union with the Sovereign Pontiff; and a political power annexed to this, but purely accidentally—a power they exercised as vassals either of the Pontifical State or, more usually, of the kings or emperors.

To the temporal power which the Popes and bishops exercised under any of the regular titles just mentioned, we must add such temporal power as they exercised under some provisional or exceptional title, in order to supply, here and now, for the absence of a legitimate temporal government. "In certain provinces or independent towns, the civil organization was either lacking or not strong enough to repress these disorders [of heresy]. The civil power defaulting, authority devolved upon the Church, who took the place of the prince and exercised his power."[595]

2. Besides the civil principate of the States of the Church, did not the medieval Popes possess perhaps an extra-canonical power of another kind, less onerous in character, but of still wider influence? I think they did.

However much independent of each other the various medieval societies were, they were all based on unity of faith and visible membership of the Church. This amounted to an ontological bond between them. They all had to defend an identical spiritual value incorporated into the very substance of their common good. When this value was threatened, for example by the progress of heresy or Saracen invasion, the common good and ideal of each and all of them was simultaneously imperiled. They could, in consequence, take up arms, and at need they were bound to do so. The duty of so doing evidently lay on the immediate temporal authorities; and the Pope, who measured its importance, could, in the name of his apostolic and spiritual power, draw their attention to it and lay it on their conscience. So much has been said already. Something has now to be added.

After Charlemagne the temporal authority in the West was again split up. It did not remain in the same hands. The Empire did not cover all the Christian countries. It was the greatest of them, perhaps, but not the only one. The consequence of this state of things was a corresponding disintegration of the power of defence. Each prince served the interests of his own state and lost sight of the interests of Christendom. The Popes, on the other hand, were well placed to grasp the structural likeness of so many consecrational societies and the grandeur of their common ideology. It was they, in fact, and not the princes, who in the eleventh century with Gregory VII and Urban II were alive to the temporal unity of the West, to the true nature and the true extent of Christendom. When heresy and Islam tried to shake its foundations, they saw it as a single entity, as a general good, superior to the good of each particular society, something to be defended by concerted temporal action co-ordinating the efforts of all societies, and undertaken for the safety of the whole Christian political order.

Could this temporal defence of Christendom be undertaken by the Popes themselves? We know already that in virtue of their canonical power they could oblige Christian princes to defend their own respective societies. But at this period there was no longer any single prince responsible—practically speaking—for the whole of the consecrational temporal order whom they could have charged with the duty of defending Christendom as such. And yet the task was urgent. What happened?

In default of a competent temporal authority, it was the Pope himself who, under the pressure of events, was to take in hand, not the task of constructing some novel empire on the ruins of the old, but the more disinterested task, less trammeled by politics but political nevertheless, of synchronising and co-ordinating the unequal efforts of the Emperor, the Christian princes, and the knights. This power over the length and breadth of Christendom which thus fell to him by way of default and devolution was, no doubt, not a complete political power seeking, like the rest, to occupy the field of technical and material administration, and destined to supplant the others. It was a genuine temporal power nevertheless, effectively aiming at the maintenance of the consecrational political order. It acted as a principal universal cause, temporal in character, and utilizing more particular temporal causes as its instruments with a view to the universal common good of Christendom; in other words, it was the Pope, considered now as protector of Christendom, who bore the final responsibility for the temporal defence of Christendom.

If we try to explain it in terms of the canonical power, the role of the Holy See in the organization of the Crusade would constitute, as M. A. Fliche says, "an historical paradox, so much in contradiction does it appear to the traditional order. This, at the end of the eleventh century, always conformed to the principles enunciated in the famous letter of Gelasius I, often cited by canonists and by polemical writers of various tendencies, laying down that there are two powers by which this world is chiefly governed, the sacred authority of the Pontiffs and the power of the kings, the first set over the spiritual and the second over the temporal, in such a way that spiritual action is withdrawn from the temporal domain and that the knights of the Lord are but very little concerned with secular affairs. If, conformably with this celebrated text, the Gregorian theses claim for the sacerdotal power the right to control the lay power ratione peccati, they in no way propose to substitute the Pope for the Emperor in the temporal direction of the world; they do not deny to the latter the power, always recognized as his, to protect Christendom against its enemies within and without."[596]

In reality, continues Fliche, who seems here to be resorting to the explanation I have just proposed, "it was the lack of the imperial power in the Mediterranean lands from the tenth century onwards, which led the Holy See to envisage means to protect the people, whose faith was threatened no less than their material interests, and to organize resistance". The first Pope who realized the gravity of the Mussulman peril, John VIII, never at any time contemplated, in spite of the small success of his appeals to the Emperor, the possibility of substituting himself for the latter to assure the defence of Western Christendom. The situation changed after the fall of the Carolingian Empire during the pontificate of John X (914-928). The vacancy in the Empire led the Papacy "to overstep the limits assigned to its function. Undoubtedly, it is difficult to say exactly by what title John X was able to act;[597] it remains true nevertheless that for the first time, under his pontificate, the direction of the war against the Saracens fell to the Holy See". With the territorial recession of the Germanic Empire, the struggle against Islam became the appanage of the Normans in Sicily and of the French chivalry in Spain. The Papacy could not remain indifferent to this movement, "in which temporal preoccupations had, no doubt, their part, but in which the Christian faith was equally at stake". The last stage was reached by Gregory VII with the excommunication of Henry IV.

To resume, "the Council of Clermont is the logical and normal upshot of a whole series of circumstances occupying two centuries; the fall of the Carolingian Empire led the Papacy to organize the war against Islam in Italy; the territorially incomplete character of the Imperial restoration of 962 explains why the Germanic Emperors neglected a peril which did not threaten their own dominions, and why the Papacy assumed the direction of a war which so deeply affected the spiritual interests under its care; finally, the Imperial schism of 1080 completed the removal of the Emperor, then excommunicated, from an enterprise which the Holy See seemed to be marked out to conduct, owing to the collapse of the Carolingian tradition".

The apparent historical paradox noted by Fliche is easily explained if we admit, as he seems himself to suggest, that the failure of the Empire would necessarily lead the Pope to subjoin to his apostolic power, held from St. Peter, an extra-canonical power of tutelage over Christendom.

Over and above the spiritual power which he wielded as the Rock of the Church, the Vicar of Christ, and the Pastor of His sheep, I believe therefore that in the Middle Ages he had two quite distinct temporal or extra-canonical powers; one by which he was Prince of the States of the Church (of which we shall speak again); and another, less complete but wider, by which he became the defender, the protector, the guardian of Christendom.[598] When he acted as head of the Church and for the defence of the Church, he could not sanction bloodshed. It was otherwise when he acted in defence of temporal interests, as Prince of the States of the Church or as protector of Christendom; for Christendom, like the States of the Church, was of the kingdoms that defend themselves by arms.

It is now possible to complete what has been written from the theological standpoint on the distinction of the two swords. I have said that the Church as such, the Pope as such, can have recourse to the secular arm in two ways: either asking it to become an instrument of the spiritual, functioning for spiritual ends; or treating it as an autonomous temporal cause, left to its own laws, and functioning for temporal ends. We must now add that the Pope, not as Pope, but as protector of Christendom and acting as a principal temporal agent, could, up to a point, set the princes in motion as instruments of Christendom; he was then responsible even for the temporal character of the effects produced and ends procured. (And if the cause was just, he could further it, as Pope, by announcing spiritual rewards or penalties.)

6. A "Theocratic" Or "Consecrational" Regime?

Should the regime of medieval Christendom be called a theocracy? The word, in fact, is often applied to it by historians. But it explains nothing, and leads to many inaccuracies and misunderstandings.

If the word is taken etymologically, a "theocratic" regime means a government directly exercised by God, whether immediately, as in the earthly paradise, or mediately, by ministers acting in some measure as His instruments.

The spiritual jurisdiction of the Church, the Kingdom of God, could rightfully be called a theocracy, a Christocracy. It must be remembered however that this jurisdiction is not an univocal power, that it is distributed over several distinct degrees. For God governs in one way through the Apostles (extraordinary jurisdiction, with the privilege of oral or scriptural inspiration), and in another through their successors (permanent jurisdiction). And He governs in one way through the declaratory power, assisted in an absolute manner—a power whose role is akin to that of a pure instrument—and in another way through the canonical power, assisted in a manner far less strict and merely prudential. Now it is in virtue of this last power that the Pope intervenes in affairs that in a general way are temporal, but have become accidentally spiritual, ratione peccati. The word "theocracy", if used to designate God's government of His Church, must not tempt us to forget these different planes.

Moreover, nobody applies the word theocracy to the spiritual jurisdiction: it is always understood of a temporal government carried on in the name of the Deity. Littre proposes to call a government theocratic if the rulers of a nation are regarded as gods or as the ministers of God. But who would call St. Paul's doctrine theocratic when he teaches that the temporal authorities are the "ministers of God" (Rom. xiii. 4)? Let us say rather that a theocracy exists when temporal values, subject in themselves to the common providential government, are taken out of their proper rank to be strictly associated with religious values for which God provides a special providence: God then intervening directly in order, for example, to prescribe the form of the government, to lay down the lines of its action, to protect it by miracles, etc. To put it more exactly, a theocracy exists when the temporal authority is the vicar of God directly and not of the people. And there will be a pseudo-theocracy if the belief in all this is based on illusion.

Up to a point the regime of the ancient Hebrew people was a theocracy. In those times the Kingdom of God, spread all over the earth, found nevertheless its clearest expression, the highest form of its visibility, in the very body of a race, of a nation, over which God kept particular watch by sending it prophets and assisting it with miracles. (Yet note in passing that the sociotemporal good, however strictly linked with the spiritual, was not identified with it, so that at times the first was allowed to suffer for the sake of the second. Moreover, as Cajetan notes, the king is made in order to represent the people and the people's power, whether he be made by the people, as Saul was, or given by God, as was David. In both cases he is vicar of the people, not directly of God, non Dei immediate.)[599]

Can the regime of consecrational Christendom be likened to that of the Hebrew people? Christ sharply differentiated it. Henceforth one was no longer a child of God by carnal descent. The Kingdom of God no longer borrowed its visibility from that of the nation; it had a visibility of its own, a visibility of a new order, supranational. The duality of the things of Caesar and the things of God, "of the apostolic dignity and the royal dignity"[600] of the pontifical authority "which presides over spiritual things", and the royal authority "which presides over carnal things"[601] is vigorously asserted. If the spiritual power intervenes exceptionally in temporal things ratione peccati, the temporal nevertheless retains, both in right and in fact, its own structure and its own laws. That being so, there can be no question of a theocracy. As to the mistaken theory which would grant the Vicar of Christ, as such, a direct canonical power over the temporal order, it could represent nothing but a pseudo-theocracy.

But how is one to designate the government exercised by the Popes in medieval Christendom in virtue of their extra-canonical powers? They acted, as we have said, both as rulers of the States of the Church and as protectors of Christendom. Fliche, who spoke at first of a "theocratic government",[602] afterwards dropped the expression and adopted "sacerdotal government".[603] We might speak perhaps of "hierocracy".[604] These words remain exterior, descriptive, material. They indicate that the Pope has some government of temporal things. They do not say whether he governs them in virtue of his canonical or of his extra-canonical power.

In any event the Pope's government was not the only government. It did not exclude that of the princes, either in right or in fact. It cannot then serve to characterize the general system of authority in medieval Christendom. Let us say, for this is the phrase that seems preferable, that it was a consecrational regime.

7. Table Of The Powers Of Medieval Christendom

On opposite page, in tabular form, are the various jurisdictional powers, canonical or infra-canonical, appearing in medieval Christendom.

[this is the diagram on page 261, but put in the form of an indented tree for e-text]


1 Canonical or spiritual, directed to:
1 .1 .1 the defence of the spiritual, undertaking a spiritual task for which it bears the direct responsibility, and executes either:
1 .1 .1 .1 immediately and by its own action. . . 1
1 .1 .1 .2 mediately, by putting the secular arm in motion and moderating its exercise as a pure instrument of the spiritual. . . 2
1 .1 .2 the inspiration of the temporal, commanding the secular arm with the special insistence in a consecrational regime, to undertake its temporal task, as an autonomous cause, by its own means and under its own responsibility. . . 3
2 temporal, conceded to:
2 .1 .1 clerics, but on extra-canonical grounds:
2 .1 .1 .1 for spiritual ends:
2 .1 .1 .1 .1 civil principate over the States of the Church, juxtaposed to the supreme canonical power as condition of its free exercise. . . 4
2 .1 .1 .1 .2 protectorate of Christendom, juxtaposed to the supreme canonical power by devolution for the temporal defence of consecrational Christendom. . . 5
2 .1 .1 .2 in a purely accidental way: temporal power of the bishop who is prince either by regular title or provisionally and by default of others. . . 6
2 .1 .1 .3 2 .1 .2 laymen. . . 7

In Suarezian terms the power exercised immediately by the Church herself would be called "direct", and that which she exercises mediately, "indirect". Then we are led to classify together under the name of "indirect power over the temporal for the sake of the spiritual" the powers I have numbered 2, 3 (possibly 4) and 5.

It seems better, if we are to have recourse to the distinction of powers into "direct" and "indirect", to understand it according to the way in which the canonical power assumes responsibility, and not according as it acts of itself or by way of the secular arm. Then the "direct power" will be that in which the canonical power assumes responsibility, whether acting itself or by the secular arm (1 and 2). And the "indirect power" will be that in which a duty is laid on the temporal power to act as a second cause, by its own means, for its own ends, and under its own responsibility (no. 3). In the first case, in which the role of the secular arm is that of a pure instrument, the power of the Church is, in effect, "direct"; it is only in the second case, in which the role of the secular arm is that of an autonomous and responsible cause, that the power of the Church is really "indirect". In any event, the distinction of powers into direct and indirect can bear several different senses, and when we use it we should specify which we have in mind.

If one rejects, along with a goodly number of modern theologians who find support in St. Augustine, the systematization of Suarez and of the great Inquisitors,[605] one does so the better to proclaim the transcendence of the canonical power, and to distinguish it from the other powers, legitimate certainly, but of a lower order, whose means and ends are temporal—powers that may co-exist with it in the same subject, but could not be identified with it without error.

In condemning those who refuse the Church an "indirect temporal power" the twenty-fourth proposition of the Syllabus [606] is meant to affirm that besides the direct power over things that are essentially religious, the Church has a jurisdiction over things which, being in themselves and in general temporal, become spiritual incidentally and on occasion. There is no question of course of disputing this power: the sole question is whether it should be called "spiritual" or "temporal" whether it is "direct" or "indirect". The answer seems to me to be clear: it is formally "spiritual", and we should put its activities under nos. 1 and 2. It is only materially, and therefore improperly, that it can be called "temporal," or "indirect". Choupin, in his commentary on this proposition of the Syllabus, says excellently: "The object of the jurisdiction, in the case in point, is the temporal only in so far as it enters the religious sphere, and thus ceases to be purely temporal. Such is the indirect power." And again: "By reason of the object on which it bears, the indirect power is sometimes qualified as temporal; but in reality, in its nature, in its origin and aim, it is truly spiritual, and it is a power of jurisdiction properly so-called."[607]

These distinctions were by no means all of them recognized and expressly noted by the medieval writers. They were interlocked, not to say jumbled up together, in the necessities of action. This, however, does not matter. If they are correct they are in the line of the common doctrine of the Church where they have always existed, at least implicitly. Their formulation even if belated, may throw light on the past, and enable us to refer each effect—the Crusades, the suppression of heresy, the segregation of the Jews—to its proper cause; temporal effects to the temporal power (whether held by clerics or laymen), spiritual effects to the spiritual power (held by clerics alone); enable us, in a word, to discern, in the immense collective effort of the Middle Ages, and in the explanations which the Middle Ages have themselves attached to them, what properly belongs to Christianity and what to Christendom.

3. The Coercive Power Of The Church And Its Medieval Exercise

Some of the problems concerned with the coercive power are purely theological. Others are mixed, and belong as much to history as to theology.

A. Theological Questions: The Coercive Power In Itself

1. The End Of The Coercive Power

The question of the coercive power must be examined in the light of the severities of the Last Judgement, in which the Son of Man, coming with all His angels, and sitting on the throne of His glory, will put the good on His right hand and the wicked on His left, to send the latter to eternal torment and the others to eternal life (Matt. xxv. 41-46). If we strike out of the Gospel such passages as this, or as those where it is said of one who scandalizes a child, that it were "better for him that a millstone should be hanged about his neck and that he should be drowned in the depths of the sea" (Matt. xviii. 6), or that the workers of iniquity shall be cast by the angels "into the furnace of fire, where there shall be weeping and gnashing of teeth" (Matt. xiii. 42)—if, in a word, we cease to believe in the terrible severities of the next world, then it is quite clear that we shall no longer be able to understand the stern penalties which, when justice demands, the Church uses in this world in order to avoid them.[608] But then the problem will be shifted, and the thing to be debated will no longer be the coercive power but the much more fundamental question of the reality of its ends. And here the Gospel is clear. Those whom the Gospel scandalizes will certainly be scandalized by the doctrine of the Church.

Since they are ordained to the salvation of souls the penalties imposed by the Church will, in respect of their end, be always spiritual, that is to say supernatural.

But these penalties, always spiritual by reason of their end, can be looked at in themselves, materially, intrinsically. From this secondary standpoint they will appear now as spiritual, now as temporal. Spiritual, in the sense, this time, of moral and religious penalties, of "reserved" penalties, proper to the Church: excommunication is a penalty proper to the Church, intrinsically spiritual, involving effects of which some are partly visible (exclusion from active participation in the liturgy, from reception of the sacraments, and so forth), and some invisible (loss of the benefit of indulgences and of the suffrages of the Church). Temporal: these are physical, bodily penalties, the only ones the State has at its disposal; but the Church, on its own sole authority, and in a measure that remains to be determined, can have recourse to penalties of this sort; which thus become "common" to Church and State; penalties that directly touch the liberty, the goods, the body of the delinquent are intrinsically temporal. This division of ecclesiastical penalties into spiritual and temporal is recognized by the Code of Canon Law: "The Church has, of herself and essentially, independently of all human authority, the right to coerce the guilty who come under her authority by penalties both spiritual and temporal."[609]

2. The Root Of The Coercive Power

A second Gospel truth rules the question of the coercive power, namely that Peter received the keys of the Kingdom of Heaven on earth, and that he and the Apostles have a power to bind and loose in this Kingdom such that their decisions are ratified on high. They will therefore have power to use sanctions, for every legislative institution—unlike a merely consultative one—carries with it a judicial authority and a coercive authority. Of course, if we deny the divine institution by Christ of a legislative power, we also ipso facto deny the coercive power. But here again, through the Church, it is the Gospel that is really attacked.

Nor should we be faithful to Scripture if we said that it confines the coercive power of the Church to sanctions in themselves spiritual. We have only to reflect on Jesus' words that "he that will not hear the Church "is to be regarded as "a heathen and a publican" (Matt. xviii. 17), to understand at once that on the hypothesis of a world, or of a region, where the Church is universally received and honoured, the man regarded as a pagan and a publican would be kept out of public life and shunned by society; so that the sentence of the Church would necessarily be accompanied by a temporal penalty. The same applies to the passage where St. Paul, without wishing to oblige the Christians of Corinth to break off all relations with their pagan compatriots, since then they would have to "go out of this world", made it incumbent on them not to keep company with any of the baptized who might be a fornicator, covetous, a drunkard or a thief, indeed "not so much as to eat with such an one" (1 Cor. v. 9-11). Elsewhere the Apostle orders Timothy to reprove "before all" those that fell short of their duties "that the rest also may have fear" (1 Tim. v. 20). What does that mean if not that they are to be publicly humiliated and thus subjected to temporal disadvantages? Similarly he orders that "if any man obey not our word by this epistle, note that man and do not keep company with him, that he may be ashamed" (2 Thess. iii. 14).

Temporal penalties are still more directly in evidence in the case of the incestuous Corinthian. Paul judges "with the power of our Lord Jesus" that this man be "delivered to Satan for the destruction of the flesh, that the spirit may be saved in the day of our Lord Jesus Christ" (1 Cor. v. 5). The words "delivered to Satan for the destruction of the flesh "mean more than a simply spiritual sanction; they signify that the excommunication would hand the guilty one over to the power of the devil who would even afflict his flesh.[610] St. Paul decrees the same punishment against Hymenaeus and Alexander whom he "delivered up to Satan, that they may learn not to blaspheme" (1 Tim. 1. 20).

Must we go further and maintain that in these last two cases the Apostle envisages bodily punishments in a direct and immediate manner and not simply as results of excommunication? Some commentators believe so. They think that just as the Lord left the Apostles the privilege of casting out devils, so He left them the power to compel the devils to chastise sinners, and that St. Paul ordered the Church at Corinth to deliver the shameless one to Satan's vexations.[611] They compare this passage with that in which the Apostle strikes Elymas blind (Acts xiii. 8-12), and that in which Ananias and Sapphira are punished (v. I-II).[612] The episode of Jesus casting out the money-changers from the Temple might here be added.

Even if this last explanation be adopted we should recognize that it is not expressly said in Scripture that the Church, in virtue of her ordinary jurisdiction, can have recourse to corporal punishments. I have no desire to force the texts. It is enough to remark (1 ) that Scripture expressly recognizes that the Church has power to promulgate intrinsically spiritual penalties, even if they be visible, such as excommunication; (2) that in the divine plan sinners deserve formidable corporal penalties even here below; and (3) that Scripture recognizes the Church's power to set these heavy temporal penalties in motion by way of excommunication.

All this greatly helps us to understand that the Church, which has an efficacious power to legislate expressly indicated in Scriptureand there we have the source of the coercive power—will have the right of direct recourse (with moderation however, as we shall soon see) even to penalties which, while spiritual as regards the reasons that justify them and the ends they aim at, may be intrinsically and materially physical.

3. Effects Of Sanctions On The Guilty

It is not to be supposed that any man can be made virtuous in spite of himself, but fear of punishment may give him pause on the downward path; it can prevent him from harming others; it can even make him give up the sin that has held him, and so at last to will with a good heart what previously he did not will. "One who is in sin" says St. Thomas, "has no longer a healthy taste, and is not to be snatched from sin by the sweetness of the divine good since his heart is infected with an inordinate love of self; but punishments that cross his nature and thwart his will can snatch him back from sin."[613] That applies to the thought of future punishments inflicted by divine justice; but it applies also to those that can be inflicted in this world by a legitimate authority, whether they be intrinsically spiritual or intrinsically corporal.

Of course, the use of coercive power, if imprudent, immoderate, or unjust, can have the worst consequences; but when it is prudent, moderate and just it can be salutary and useful and that even for the guilty one himself.

4. Whom Does The Coercive Power Reach?

Everything can be thrown into confusion and all kinds of iniquities fathered on the Church, unless we are clear about those to whom the coercive power applies.

The Unbaptized: The authentic coercive power of the Church has no authority to force the faith on those outside. The only right the Church has over adepts, whether of paganism, Judaism, or Islam, who, not being baptized, are no subjects of hers, is to proclaim the Gospel to them peaceably, and ultimately to protect those of them who may be converted. But the Church never desires to impose the faith on them by force. Faith must be free; you cannot implant it in a soul by force. "You can force a man to enter a church, to approach the altar, to receive the Sacrament; but you cannot force him to believe", said St. Augustine.[614] So also St. Thomas: "Among unbelievers there are some who have never received the faith, such as the heathen and the Jews; and these are by no means to be compelled to the faith in order that they may believe, because belief depends on the will [quia credere voluntatis est]. But they should be compelled, if possible, by the faithful so that they may not hinder the faith by their blasphemies or by their evil persuasions, or even by their open persecutions. It is for this reason that Christ's faithful often wage war with unbelievers, not indeed for the purpose of forcing them to believebecause even if they were to conquer them and take them prisoner, they should still leave them free to believe if they will—but in order to prevent them from hindering the faith of Christ."[615] The Council of Trent in its turn, recalls that "the Church never passes any judgment on those who have not first entered her through the door of baptism".[616] And the code of Canon Law declares generally that purely ecclesiastical laws cannot bind the unbaptized.[617] We see what has to be thought from a Catholic standpoint of the forced conversions of the Saxons by Charlemagne, of the Jews and Moors by the Catholic kings.

The Baptized: Of these we must distinguish two classes.

First, there are those who, having been born in dissidence, continue there in good faith. St. Augustine refuses to consider them as guilty, and consequently to give them the name, always infamous in his vocabulary, of heretics: "Whoever defends his opinion, however erroneous or perverse, without pertinacity, especially when this opinion is not the fruit of his own presumption but is inherited from parents seduced and carried away into error, if he honestly seeks the truth and is ready to yield to it when found, this man should not be reckoned among the heretics."[618] Such men are incipiently members of the Church. But on account of their good faith the coercive power of the Church does not touch them any more than it touches the non-baptized. Thinking of them, but without here wishing to separate them from the unbaptized—for he has just been speaking of tolerance of different religions by the State—Leo XIII recalls that: "in fact the Church is wont to take earnest heed that no one shall be forced to embrace the Catholic faith against his will, for, as St. Augustine wisely reminds us, man cannot believe otherwise than of his own free will".[619] What therefore has been said of the unbaptized applies also to these baptized "incipient members" of the Church. There can be no question of forcing them to believe, or to observe the Church's laws. All that is allowable is to prevent them from corrupting the faith of the humble.

The second class is that of the baptized who, having been born in the Church, have culpably deserted her. These are they whom the older Doctors—Augustine or Aquinas—call heretics or schismatics. They are at one and the same time still of the Church and already no longer of the Church. In their case we must speak of a "repudiated" or "servile" membership of the Church.

It is clear to start with that in the measure in which they are aggressors and corrupt the faith of the humble, the Church has a right to defend herself against them.

But the coercive power could reach them on another count, not now as aggressors but as guilty—supposing this guilt established. The coercive power might therefore intervene for two purposes.

The first would be to repress the guilty so as to defend and safeguard the common good.[620]

The second will be to correct the guilty and induce them to fulfil the promises they have forgotten, to their own prejudice. For we are free to make vows, but having made them ought to keep them; and we are free to opt for the faith, but having done so ought to remain faithful. Here St. Thomas recalls what St. Augustine said in his letter to Count Boniface: "What do these people mean by crying out are we not free to believe or not to believe? Whom did Christ compel? They should remember that Christ at first compelled Paul and afterwards taught him."[621]

The Church wishes to make them begin in the suffering of segregation what she hopes they will afterwards fulfil in love.

5. The Nature Of Ecclesiastical Sanctions

"Because sin is an inordinate act, it is evident that whoever sins commits an offence against an order: wherefore he is put down by that same order, which repression is punishment. Accordingly, man can be punished with a threefold punishment corresponding to the orders to which the human will is subject. In the first place, a man's nature is subjected to the order of his own reason; secondly, it is subject to the order of another man who governs him either in spiritual or in temporal matters, as a member either of the State or of the household: thirdly, it is subjected to the universal order of the divine government. . . Wherefore he incurs a threefold punishment: one, inflicted by himself, viz., remorse of conscience; another, inflicted by men; and a third inflicted by God."[622] St. Thomas here distinguishes the spiritual social order and the temporal social order. We must therefore similarly distinguish spiritual sanctions from temporal sanctions. Between the spiritual order and the temporal order, both of them however visible, between the law that aims at friendship of man with God, and the law that aims at friendship of men with each other,[623] there is, properly speaking, no univocity, but a likeness of analogy or proportionality; similarly between offences against the order of the Church and offences against the order of the State, between the sanctions of the Church and the sanctions of the State, there is no univocity, but only a likeness of analogy or proportionality.

The spiritual or supernatural order is better than the temporal. To build itself up it has need of faith, charity and the infused virtues, of everything in the world that is freest. It draws far more than does the temporal order on the reserves of generosity in men. It uses earthly realities as the basis in this world for the potencies of grace, as a temple for the divine presence, and in order eventually to raise them to the height of its own law by giving them a share in the splendours of the transfiguration—whereas the temporal order uses these same earthly realities only to erect perishable social structures which end in surrender to the law of matter and are swept away by the revolutions of history. In a word, the spiritual social order, the Church, is a kingdom in this world, but not, like the temporal social order, of this world. Because of all these differences, it is fitting that the laws that rule it and the sanctions that protect it, even when they look to material means and intrinsically temporal penalties, should refrain from using them in the manner, always more or less harsh, of the State, but only in ways more moderate, pure, and holy. "My kingdom is not of this world. If my kingdom were of this world my servants would certainly strive that I should not be delivered to the Jews; but now my kingdom is not from hence" (John xviii. 36). It would be going too far to cite this text to establish that the Church should never be defended by the secular arm. But it clearly means that, when it becomes just to defend it by the secular arm, it is never just to do so in the manner of the kingdoms of this world.

It would be therefore an error to put the sanctions of the spiritual society and the sanctions of the political society on the same level. Even when they coincide materially—if, for example, the Church should approve penalties intrinsically temporal (such as fines, imprisonment, etc. )—these sanctions would differ profoundly in their justification, in their nature, and in their ends. We may see an indication of this difference, a sign that the Church uses even intrinsically temporal penalties in a spirit different from that of the State, in the fact that while recognizing that under certain conditions the death-penalty can be justified and legitimately decreed by the secular power,[624] and that in certain conditions war can be justly waged, she nevertheless absolutely forbids all clerics and all who hold ecclesiastical power, to have any hand themselves in the heaviest and most terrible of punishments, the punishment of death. Ecclesia horret a sanguine. The reason for this, explains St. Thomas, is that the shedding of blood, even supposing it entirely just, is profoundly repugnant to those who, commemorating Christ's sacrifice, have a mission "not to slay or shed blood, but rather to be ready to shed their own blood for Christ, so as to imitate in deed what they portray in their ministry. For this reason it has been decreed that those who shed blood, even without sin, become irregular".[625]

We should fall into an opposite error if we denied that the Church's power of coercion could cover intrinsically temporal penalties. For although the Church is spiritual, she is not invisible or outside this world; she is visible and in the world. Her spirituality does not consist in eliminating visible realities; it consists in utilizing them, not doubtless as the State does, but otherwise than the State does, with greater purity, greater elevation of mind, and greater holiness than the State. Hence she has often claimed the power in question. In his Encyclical Quanta Cura of 8th December 1864, Pius IX condemned those who asserted that "the Church has no power to constrain law-breakers with temporal penalties".[626] More recently, the Code of Canon Law, as we have seen, has recalled that the Church has, of herself, independently of any human authority whatever, the right to constrain her delinquent subjects "by penalties, whether temporal or spiritual".[627]

To hold that the Church cannot make use of intrinsically temporal punishments is to forget that she is a visible society; to hold that she can do so in just the same way as the State does is to forget that she is a spiritual society.

6. For What Exercise Of The Coercive Power Is The Church, Understood Formally And Theologically, Responsible?

If "the Church" be taken to mean simply the sum-total of churchmen, or even the sum-total of Christians, she could undoubtedly be blamed for many sins and iniquities which it is the duty of every Christian to condemn and not to justify. The name "Church" is then taken so materially that all the sins of Christians become part of her make-up. It is not thus, but always formally, that we understand the Church in this enquiry. The churchman, like the simplest of the faithful, belongs to her by reason of what is holy in him, not by reason of his sins. We shall say, from this standpoint, that the visible Church may indeed contain sinners, but not sins. "He that committeth sin is of the devil; for the devil sinneth from the beginning. For this purpose the Son of God appeared, that he might destroy the works of the devil. Whosoever is born of God committeth not sin: for his seed abideth in him, and he cannot sin, because he is born of God. In this the children of God are manifest, and the children of the devil" (1 John iii. 8-10).

The Church therefore is not to be held responsible for every mode of exercising the coercive power, but for that only which is virtuous, not prompted by passion but ruled by justice, with severity when right reason demands it, and with clemency when it permits.

Once more therefore we can never seek to lay on the Church the innumerable sins of those of her children who openly disobey her, or who, feigning exterior obedience, betray her spirit.

In her Code of Canon Law the Church recalls the spirit in which the coercive power should be used. Having declared that "she has a true and native right, independent of all human authority, to apply constraint to her culpable subjects, inflicting on them punishments, spiritual or even temporal", she draws attention at once to the warning of the Council of Trent: "Let the bishops and other ordinaries remember that they are pastors, not persecutors, that they should rule their subjects, not lord it over them, but love them as sons and brothers, and try to turn them from evil ways by advice and exhortations, for fear of having to be severe when they sin. But when human frailty has led them to fall into sin, let the bishops, conformably with the word of the Apostle, reprove, entreat, rebuke in all patience and doctrine, since sinners are often more easily brought back to the right way by benignity than by sternness, by persuasion than by threats, by charity than by authority. But if, on account of the gravity of the sin, chastisement becomes inevitable, then let sternness be tempered with gentleness, justice with mercy, severity with sweetness, that necessary and wholesome discipline may be preserved without undue harshness, that those corrected may amend, or at least, if they will not come to a better mind, that others may be deterred by the salutary example of their punishment."[628]

From this we may see that it is only the virtuous use of the coercive power that the Church takes upon herself.

Even when virtuous, this use will not be infallible in every given case. For judicial sentences belong to the domain of particular decisions where error is always possible. The divine assistance is here assured, not for each individual case in its individuality, but only in general and for the due functioning of the whole. We can imagine, as an extreme case, a sentence of excommunication prudently and virtuously pronounced, but falling by sheer mistake on an innocent person. The moralists say that at bottom such an excommunication would be invalid, since where there is no offence, that is to say no morally imputable violation of a law,[629] no ecclesiastical sentence properly so-called can be pronounced; and that no one would be bound to obey it, for example by refraining from the sacraments, save only for the scandal that might otherwise be caused. We can even imagine a case, unlikely perhaps, but possible—not that of Joan of Arc, who was condemned by men whose hearts were far from clean—of a judicial sentence, motivated by the purest love of justice, which by some unavoidable misapprehension, shall have declared heretical and delivered to the secular arm one whose error was in fact not culpable, whose death was magnanimous, whose charity was heroic, and whose sanctity would be later on proclaimed; so that from both sides, that of the judge and that of the accused, there would be equal love of God and desire for justice. Such misunderstandings are always possible here below. Love might even be increased by them: aquae multae non potuerunt extinguere charitatem.

B. Mixed Questions: The Exercise Of The Coercive Power In History, And The Inquisition

1. Recourse Had To The Secular Arm Particularly For Penalties Lesser Than That Of Death

a. The Church's Rights

The means of temporal coercion at the disposal of the Church—fines, deprivation of benefices, segregation, internment in a monastery, imprisonment—are limited, and their use commonly difficult and sharply restricted. It is the State that has the most effective means to hand: exile, confiscation of goods, perpetual imprisonment and so forth. When the Church wishes to deal with her rebellious subjects, can she approach the State and not merely beg, but require it to punish them?

Yes: but only in certain circumstances.

The Church certainly believes that she possesses this right. The fourteenth proposition of John Hus, condemned at the Council of Constance, asserts that to deliver to the secular arm those who despise ecclesiastical censures, is to imitate the Priests, Scribes and Pharisees who gave up Christ to Pilate under the plea that they were not allowed to put anyone to death (John xviii. 31).[630] The thirty-second question proposed by the Council of Constance to the followers of Wycliff and Hus asked whether they admitted that "when the disobedience and insolence of the excommunicated increased, their prelates and spiritual rulers could make the excommunication heavier, impose an interdict and call on the secular arm [brachium saeculare invocandi]".[631] The Council of Trent provided that women living publicly in sin could be driven out of a town or diocese, "by recourse, if necessary, to the secular arm".[632] The Code of Canon Law stipulates that "offences against the law of the Church alone, are, of their nature, within the cognisance of the ecclesiastical authority alone, which, when it judges it necessary or opportune, can claim the help of the secular arm".[633] Finally, the Roman Bullarium testifies to numerous cases of resort to the secular arm.[634]

What circumstances are needed to justify such a recourse?

From the standpoint of the Church as calling for them, it suffices that the steps in question are really apt and effectual to achieve the desired spiritual good. But that is not all. From the standpoint of the State, on whom the Church calls, other conditions are required. I shall attempt to define them. Since the proper end of the temporal power is the temporal common good, the only acts that can be asked of it will be those which in the long run will contribute to the maintenance and advancement of the temporal common good. "Reignative" prudence,[635] the characteristic virtue of the political ruler, will not allow him to engage in other enterprises than those directed to the political well-being of his country; this of course being understood in the highest and most generous sense, not in an egoistic and basely utilitarian way. "A certain measure of temporal success is postulated as a matter of course "by temporal efforts and means. "Whoso loses his soul for my sake" Our Lord says "shall find it again." He did not say: "Whoso loses his kingdom shall save it." St. Louis was an excellent administrator of his kingdom; he added to its power and prosperity."[636] Even when a country sacrifices itself to defend its fellows in Christendom, it is still a political good—for heroism, fraternal friendship, fidelity are political goods—the memory of which will be cherished among men. And even when a power intervenes to punish "an offence that breaks no law but the Church's", this would be in view of a higher political advantage, and because it is known that the Church alone can speed the advent of a true humanism and a full political life. (Thus for example in another domain, the State could contribute to the budget of a purely spiritual cult, because of its beneficial effect on the temporal.) Could the Church, would the Church, ever ask of the head of a state, even for the best of causes, an intervention that would dismember this state, give it over to civil war, for example, and political ruin? No. She could strengthen and exalt the aims of reignative prudence, but not bring them simply to nothing. It follows that she cannot legitimately call for the support of the secular arm save when some immediately temporal good—a very exalted one perhaps, such as the temporal good of all Christendom—is to be expected. She would drop any claim on it at once if it involved any grave political injury, not because the State's refusal would make any recourse to the secular arm physically impossible, but because she would herself regard this recourse as surrounded by quite different moral conditions and as constituting a morally reprehensible act.

b. The Secular Arm Able to Act Under the Church Either as Principal Cause or as Instrument

How are we to explain the mutual relations of Church and State in the case of a recourse to the secular arm?

Two schemas [637] can be proposed, as I have said. In the first the State acts as instrument of the Church. It is the Church that takes the initiative and the responsibility. She makes use of the State for ends which, being spiritual or supernatural, are higher than those of the State. And yet in this, the State, at any rate in the highest sense, will find its own political advantage. In the performance of an act intrinsically political—it is always by way of its own proper act that an instrument performs its instrumental act [638]—it procures spiritual ends which hic et nunc will bring with them good temporal consequences.

Under the second schema the State acts as principal cause. It takes all the initiative and responsibility for an intervention whose end is an immediately temporal good considered as conditioning a spiritual good, or even, in the case of a consecrational regime, as involving a spiritual good.

Clearly enough the intervention of the secular arm will have a different character according as it falls under one or the other of these schemas. In the first case it should tend to fall in with the mode of action of the spiritual power. In the second it will follow no law but its own, which is that of the temporal.

I believe that the calls the Church has actually made on the secular arm are to be explained in terms of one or other of these two schemas. It is for the historian to say which in each case, and it will not always be an easy task. It becomes the less so by the fact that in the Middle Ages the Pope did not always act in virtue of his canonical power and as Vicar of Christ, but sometimes in virtue of his extra-canonical powers, as Prince of the Roman State or as Protector of Christendom. Let us say, still speaking very generally, that the State always seeks a political advantage. If it seeks it secondarily, as an accompaniment or consequence of a precise and previously willed spiritual good, then the State is behaving as an instrument of the Church. If it seeks it primarily—even though this political good remains subordinate to the spiritual good attached to it—then the State is acting as principal cause. For it is open to the State, without any sin, to seek spiritual things—to establish divine worship for example, as Cajetan remarks—on account of the political advantages they carry with them.[639]

c. St. Augustine's Two Attitudes on the Coercion of Heretics

The Church has the right to call on the secular arm. She can, and at times she ought to, exercise this right in defence of good morals. Is there ever anything to be gained by exercising it in defence of the faith? Has resort to the political power for such a purpose ever been opportune—has it ever been really useful to the Church herself?

a. No one knew the value of liberty better than St. Augustine. No one was less inclined to introduce force into the domain of intelligence and love. At the outset of his book Contra Epistolam Manichaei Quam Vocant Fundamenti, which dates from 397, he writes: "Let those rage against you who know not how hard a task it is to reach the truth, how difficult to avoid error. Let them rage against you who know not how seldom and how hardly our corporeal fancies are pierced by the intelligence of a pious spirit. Let them rage against you who know not how difficult it is to clear the eye of the interior man that it may behold the true Sun. . . Let them rage against you who know not how many sighs and groanings go to how imperfect a knowledge of God. Let them, lastly, rage against you who have never fallen into error like yours. For my part I, who did not come to contemplation of the pure truth cleared of fables save after long tossing about in seas of bewilderment; who in my misery could barely with God's help shake off the vain fantasies of my mind mixed with a throng of false opinions; who yielded so late to the physician who called me and drew me so sweetly to rid me of this darkness of my mind; who cried out so long that the immutable and immaculate Substance of whom Holy Scripture speaks, might deign to make Himself known to me; who sought out curiously all those fictions that now hold you in the bonds of old acquaintance and custom, listened to them attentively, believed them imprudently, urged them at every opportunity upon the belief of others, defended them obstinately and passionately—I certainly have no wish to rage against you, for I ought to bear with you as then I was borne with, and to show as much patience with you as then my neighbour had with me, when, infatuate and blind, I too erred in your doctrine. "That is St. Augustine's first attitude. And undoubtedly it is the attitude to which we shall have finally to return, given that the medieval era is gone. In that era the West made a supreme effort to banish from her political and cultural life those who held any form of religious error, driving back the Jews into their ghettos, the new heretics into the darkness of excommunication and death,[640] and the pagans into the four continents. But we are now entering on an era in which the disciples of truth and of error are to be inextricably mingled together, like the wheat and the tares, till the end of time, not indeed in the religious life, but in the political and cultural life of every country on earth. I do not doubt that it was to prepare our hearts for a new effort, differing from the medieval effort, that Pope Pius XI cited at the close of his Encyclical for the fifteenth centenary of the death of St. Augustine,[641] the great Doctor's moving declaration to the Manichaeans.

b. And yet, on the testimony of Augustine himself, the secular arm has been employed to good effect in defence of the faith. He himself had seen it happen. In the letter he addressed about the year 408 to Vincentius the Donatist bishop, having recalled how the Donatists themselves had tried to call in the secular arm, he adds: "You see now I hope that the thing to be considered is not just whether anybody is constrained, but by what or in what cause it is that he is constrained, whether for good or for evil. Not that a man can become good in spite of himself; but fear of what he does not wish to suffer either makes him moderate the obstinacy by which he is held, or induces him to inform himself about the truth of which he is ignorant: it will either make him quit the error he cherishes, or seek the truth he does not know; and he comes in the end to will with a good heart what before he did not will.[642] It would be useless perhaps to say such things if numerous examples were not there to attest them. We have seen not merely certain men here and there, but whole towns, once Donatist, now Catholic, detesting their late diabolical schism and animated with an ardent love for unity; and they became Catholic on occasion of this very fear that so displeases you, and of the laws of the emperors. . . I have therefore yielded to these examples laid before me by my colleagues. For my first feeling was against constraining anybody [to return] to the unity of Christ, to act only by words, to fight by discussion, to conquer by reason, for fear of changing into pretended Catholics those whom we knew before as open heretics.[643] It was not contentious words that overcame my opinion but indisputable facts. They pointed, to start with, to my own town, which having been wholly of the party of Donatus was converted to the unity of the Catholic faith by fear of the imperial laws; and we see it so strongly detesting its former views that one would think it had never fallen into them. So it has been with many other towns whose names were mentioned to me that I might see in them new verifications of the Scripture text: Give an occasion to a wise man, and wisdom shall be added to him [Prov. ix. 9]. For how many there are—we have certain proof of it—that, struck by the evidence of the truth would have long ago become Catholic, and put it off from day to day for fear of the violence of their own party ! How many remain enslaved—not to the truth, for there never was any presumption that the truth was on your side—but to the heavy chains of inveterate custom, so that in them the divine word is fulfilled: A slave will not be corrected by words: because he understandeth what thou sayest and will not answer [Prov. xxix. 19]. How many believed that the party of Donatus was the true Church, merely because the peace in which they lived had made them sleepy, tired, idle in seeking out the truth ! For how many were not the doors of the Church closed by lying rumours that we placed I know not what offerings on the altar of God ! How many, thinking that the place where a Christian was could matter but little, remained in the sect of Donatus because they had been born there,[644] and because nobody had compelled them to leave it and pass to the Catholic Church. The fear of these laws by whose promulgation kings serve the Lord in fear, has been thus profitable to all."[645]

In the letter to Boniface mentioned above, written about 417, in which ho summarises the same argument, St. Augustine adds: "Give me a man who, with right faith and true understanding, can say with all the energies of his heart: My soul thirsteth for God, for the living God: when shall I come and appear before God? For such a one there is no need of the terror of hell, to say nothing of temporal punishments or imperial laws, seeing that for him it is so great a good to cleave to God that he not only dreads being parted from that happiness but can scarcely even bear delay in its attainment. But yet before the good sons can cry out that they have a desire to depart and to be with Christ, many, like bad servants and good-for-nothing fugitives, must first be recalled to their Lord by the goad of temporal pains. For who can love us more than Christ who has laid down His life for His sheep? And yet, after calling Peter and the other Apostles by word alone, when He came to summon Paul, who was before called Saul, who would become the great builder of His Church but was before her cruel persecutor, He not only stopped him with a word but dashed him to earth by His power; and to bring him to desire the light of faith who walked in the darkness of infidelity He struck him first with blindness of the eyes. Without that punishment he would not afterwards have been healed; and unless he had had afflicted eyes when, opening them, he saw nothing [Acts ix. 8], the Scripture would not tell us that there fell as it were scales from these eyes at the touch of Ananias' hands. What then becomes of the Donatist protestation: Is not man at liberty to believe or not to believe? To whom did Christ do violence? Whom did He constrain? Here before them stands the Apostle Paul. Here let them recognize Christ first compelling and afterwards teaching, first striking and afterwards consoling. For wonderful indeed it is that he who entered the service of the Gospel through corporal constraint, afterwards laboured more in the Gospel than all they who were called by word of mouth; and he who was compelled by fear to love displayed that perfect love that casts out fear."[646]

Later on, in the Retractations (towards 426) the same doctrine appears. St. Augustine there speaks of two books of his, now lost, written Contra Partem Donati: "In the first of these books I wrote that I was displeased at those who wished to call in the secular arm to force the schismatics to return to communion. And at that time, it is true that I did not approve it at all. I had then no experience either of the audacity in evil which brought them impunity, or of the beneficent change which the observance of discipline could produce."[647]

Elsewhere Augustine shows himself aware that these interventions of the secular arm "are subject to abuses, and detestable abuses, which the good condemn and oppose to the best of their power [no doubt he had had occasion himself to react against them with all the authority at his command] but if it happens that the good cannot prevent what they condemn, it will be their duty to put up with it for the sake of peace, pro pace laudabiliter tolerant, non ea laudabilia, sed damnabilia judicantes. . . He thinks of the coercion of heretics by the secular arm; he foresees the excesses it may occasion; he asks us to resign ourselves to these pro pace, for the peace of the Church, because nothing can justify schism, and because the good should not abandon unity whatever the trials they may have to face."[648]

d. Conclusion

What is to be the theologian's final reply to the problem raised by recourse to the secular arm?

If recourse to the secular arm were, in itself, that is to say always and everywhere, contrary to the true spirit of the Gospel, we should evidently be unable to regard it as open to the Church. It would be unjustifiable. At the most we might be able to plead extenuating circumstances. And, since we believe that the Church herself is holy and immaculate, we should have to throw the responsibility for the numerous occasions on which secular help has been sought and obtained, not on her, but on the spirit of violence characterizing certain historical epochs; on the short-sightedness, weakness, error, passion—in a word, on the personal failings of Pontiffs who so insufficiently or even unworthily represented her. For if the Church is without sin she is not without sinners, and even her Pontiffs may be sinners. Is such a position really called for, or even tenable?

I think not. Undoubtedly there is much that an historian of the Church can put down to the false spirit of the times, to the personal or social shortcomings of ministers of the Church; and many regrettable episodes may be thus explained. But I do not think that resort to the secular arm is always and everywhere incompatible with an enlightened zeal for the Gospel and for the salvation of souls. And so there is nothing to prevent us from sometimes making the Church herself responsible; her purity and sanctity will remain untouched. Moreover it is clear that the Church assumes this responsibility. We could deny the fact only by claiming that a penal law of quite general application, sanctioned by several Popes, long embodied in the Corpus and invoked by the Council of Trent, was the work of the spirit of the world, of ignorance, of human imprudence and passion. And this no theologian would concede.

But it will be important to make quite sure under which of the two schemas above mentioned recourse to the secular arm is had; for the responsibility of the Church is involved in a completely different way according as she herself makes use of the State as an instrument, or asks, or even requires, the State to act as principal cause, on its own initiative and in its own connatural manner.

Moreover, one fact is evident. In proportion as the temporal power becomes more and more differentiated from the spiritual, in proportion as we pass from a regime of the consecrational type, in which the temporal order is exceptionally well adapted to serve as instrument of the spiritual, to a regime of the secular type bringing together citizens of all confessions and beliefs, any appeal to the secular arm, especially if it be asked to function as a pure instrument of the spiritual, becomes much less frequent, more delicate, more hypothetical. But the essential power, the radical right of the Church, is not therefore modified. It is undeniable. And one can imagine that in a secular Christendom of a pluralist type the Church might still exercise it under new forms, and in connection with her own children alone.

2. The Death Penalty And The Medieval Repression Of Heresy

a. The State of the Question

Can the Church in certain circumstances—for if we want to state her doctrine, not travesty it, we must be precise, not generalize in the abstract—can the Church, finding the death penalty universally accepted as just in a given cultural epoch, ask the secular arm to employ it for the repression of heresy, when this, besides its proper spiritual malice, is universally held to be a grave danger for the social order—not only because it is very often accompanied (as among the Cathari) with immoral doctrines and practices,[649] nor yet, be it added, simply because it is a heresy; but rather because it is a heresy which affects Christians living in a Christian society and social order, excluding all non-Christians?

Several Popes have done this. They called upon a temporal social order composed solely of Christians to use the sternest sanction in its power, the death penalty, in order to save itself from forces bent on its destruction, forces that attacked it at once in itself and in the spiritual principle behind it, that is to say the faith of the Gospel. Did they, in so doing, betray the Gospel?

If the answer is yes, on what position would the theologian fall back? He would say, as we said just now, that the Church being holy and unspotted, the responsibility for the betrayal could not lie on her, but would have to fall wholly on her ministers. This position would now be still more readily defensible. The penal legislation of the Church, meaning thereby not all the legislative measures of the Popes, but only those that found their way into the old Corpus, would be beyond reproach; for if, in the Corpus, there are texts that require the heretic to be turned over to the secular arm, there are none that stipulate that he is then to be put to death.[650]

But ought then the theologian to disavow, if not the penal code, the general and constant legislation of the Church, at least the decrees, bulls, the more detailed measures, what might be called the jurisprudence [651] of Pontiffs who, like Gregory IX or Innocent IV, in circumstances which I have done my best to detail, have called for the use of the death penalty against heresy, not precisely as heresy, but as the medievo-Western heresy, that is to say, heresy directly incompatible with a political constitution designed for none but the faithful? (It is always to be understood that the faith can inspire other political constitutions, in which Catholics would co-exist politically, not religiously, with non-Catholics, and in which consequently the secular arm would no longer be needed by the Church in dealing with heresy. ) Here again I do not think we are reduced to such an extremity.

b. Legitimacy of the Death Penalty in Certain Cases

To legitimize a call for the death penalty by the Church we shall need first to be assured that, in certain circumstances, the State can properly employ it on its own account.

Let us briefly recall that when the Old Testament forbids killing (Exod. xx. 13) the word "unjustly" is understood. For it goes on to prescribe the death penalty again and again, for example in Leviticus (xx. 2, 9, 10, 27; xxiv. 16, 17). The New Testament did not abolish the right of the sword. St. Paul, speaking of the political authority, writes: "For he is God's minister to thee for good. But if thou do that which is evil, fear; for he beareth not the sword in vain. For he is God's minister and avenger to execute wrath upon him that doth evil" (Rom. xiii. 4). In his De Civitate Dei, St. Augustine thus comments on these passages: "The same divine authority that says Thou shalt not kill, sets up certain exceptions to this prohibition. God then commands, either by way of a general law or a special and temporary commission to an individual, that the punishment of death be applied. Now he is no murderer who acts under authority, but a mere instrument like the sword with which he strikes. And those who by God's commands have waged war, or who, wielding the public power, and in conformity with the divine laws, have put criminals to death, these have by no means violated the commandment Thou shalt not kill."[652] Consequently, Innocent III did no more than defend a biblical and traditional truth when he proposed to the Vaudois who wished to re-enter the Church, a profession of faith asserting, inter alia, that "the secular power can, without mortal sin, exercise judgment of blood, provided that it punishes with justice, not out of hatred, with prudence, not precipitation."[653]

Drawing his inspiration from St. Augustine, St. Thomas, in a few words, resolves the scriptural difficulties brought against this doctrine.

To the difficulty drawn from St. Matthew: "He who takes the sword shall perish by the sword" (xxvi. 52), he replies that he who takes the sword is he who sheds blood without having either legitimate power or delegation from the same. But he who uses the sword by direct command of God or of the legitimate authority, does not take the sword, he receives it for the vindication of justice.[654] More generally, Christ reminds us that the arms proper to the Kingdom of God are those that are intrinsically spiritual and moral. Not that those intrinsically temporal or physical arms which it turns to account in a certain measure (making what was alien its own), but which are specially the prerogative of the kingdoms of this world, "are in themselves evil and to be rejected. When He says that he who draws the sword shall perish by the sword Christ does not condemn the sword; He announces a universal law of temporal and transitive action",[655] a law which moreover had long ago been promulgated in Genesis: "Whoso shall shed the blood of man, his blood shall be shed" (ix. 6), and was to be repeated in the Apocalypse (xiii. 10): "He that shall kill by the sword must be killed by the sword."

To the difficulties drawn from the Sermon on the Mount: "But I say to you not to resist evil" (Matt. v. 39), and from the text of St. Paul: "Revenge not yourselves my dearly beloved, but give place unto wrath, for it is written: Revenge is mine, I will repay, saith the Lord" (Rom. xii. 19), St. Thomas replies that such precepts should always be borne in mind so that we may be ready to obey them, and, if necessary, to refrain from resistance or self-defence. Nevertheless a man must sometimes act otherwise for the common good, or even for the good of those against whom he is fighting.[656] In short, if these words of Scripture were aimed at the abolition of the death penalty and of the coercive power, St. Paul would not have written that the public authorities do not bear the sword in vain, "being God's ministers and avengers to execute wrath upon him that doth evil" (Rom. xiii. 4).

The secular arm therefore can, on its own account and for its own purposes, rightly inflict, on occasion, the punishment of death.

c. Whether the Church Could Demand it of the Medieval State Against Heresy

Yes, if the heresy directly endangered the fundamental political constitution of society, and if the punishment of death was already provided for the worst crimes against the temporal good of society. But in other cases, no.

Let us examine these two conditions.

Consider the hypothesis of a civil society, a cultural world, whose aim it was to bind together politically a religiously disparate multitude, and in which the ruler, even were he Catholic, would represent only the political union of that multitude. None can doubt that such a union has become legitimate and necessary today. Since the days of the medieval Church, a field in which wheat alone was sown, but enclosed in the narrow limits of the West, Providence has prepared a new era in which tares are to be mixed with the wheat but the field is to cover all the earth.[657] On this hypothesis, it is clear that heresy, no longer anti-constitutional simply as heresy, cannot be justly made the object of a constitutional repression, either on the initiative of the State or the injunction of the Church. This applies to any sort of repression whatever, and with all the more reason therefore to repression by the sword.

But, on the hypothesis of a society aiming, as the medieval society did, at the political embodiment of the faithful alone, a society composed essentially, not merely accidentally, of none but members of the Church, heresy would not only be antagonistic to the Church, but of necessity and whatever its kind, it would be openly anti-constitutional, and hence deserving of constitutional repression—a repression of which the Church, if need be, might remind the State as a duty. So that—and this is the point to be noted—it could never become a duty for the secular arm to be lifted against heresy save only when this appeared to be undermining the basic temporal order of society.[658]

If moreover—and here is the second condition—the death penalty is provided for the highest crimes against the temporal good of society, it is clear that the secular arm could punish the heretic with death, and that the Church, at need, could remind it of its duty; and more readily on this point than on others, since what heresy destroys is the faith, the supreme political value in a consecrational regime. In fact, it was not the Church, but the secular arm itself—and under the most sceptical of princes—which, in the Middle Ages, legally extended the death penalty to the crime of heresy.[659] Finding this penalty received and in force the Popes did not declare it unjust. Did they thereby betray the Gospel? Yes, if the Gospel forbids the State ever to use the death penalty: and then St. Paul himself would have betrayed it. Otherwise, no. For at this period heresy appeared as one of the gravest of political disorders, and if the legitimacy of putting the malefactor to death was to be contested, that should have been done in connection with such crimes as theft and coining, and not in connection with heresy.

If we take due account of these two points—the basically anti-constitutional character of medieval heresy, and the legitimacy of the death penalty—we shall recognize the defensibility not only of the ancient Corpus, but also, in all essentials, of the conduct and jurisprudence of the Popes themselves in encouraging the secular arm to deal with heresy by capital punishment. We say "in essentials" because it will remain for the historian to appreciate in each individual case, the manner in which the jurisprudence was applied, and the abuses to which it lent itself.[660]

d. The Thirty-third Proposition of the Bull Exsurge Domine

A word now on the Thirty-third Lutheran proposition condemned on the 15th June 1520, in the Bull Exsurge Domine: "The burning of heretics is against the will of the Spirit."[661]

In the eightieth conclusion of his Resolutiones Disputationum de Indulgentiarum Virtute, addressed in 1518 to Leo X, Luther protests against the interpretation which put two swords, one spiritual and the other material, into the hands of the Sovereign Pontiff. For Luther, the two swords are the Spirit and the Gospel. In our day, he adds, what we seem to want "is not to destroy heresies and errors, but to burn the heretics and the misled, following less the counsel of Scipio than that of Cato who wanted to see Carthage destroyed. We even go against the will of the Spirit, who wrote that the Jebusites and Canaanites were left in the promised land so that the children of Israel could learn to make war and keep their warlike skill, by which are prefigured, if St. Jerome does not mislead me, the wars of the heretics. In any case, the Apostle is to be believed when he says: there must needs be heresies. But we say, on the contrary, that the heretics must be burnt. As if we had to pluck up the roots along with the fruits, the cockle along with the corn."[662] These reflections were condensed into the condemned proposition: "It is against the will of the Spirit that heretics are burnt."

It is to be noted first that Luther did not deny either that the Spirit punishes the reprobate in the fires of hell, nor that the true heretics are deserving of hell; so that in a sense (which doubtless is not in question here) Luther's proposition might have appeared false even in his own eyes. It may be further remarked that having begun by saying that the heretics should be overcome by the Scriptures and not by fire, Luther soon changes his mind and maintains (and with him the Protestant theology of the sixteenth century) that if they resist Scripture, heretics—in this case the Anabaptists—should be put to death, even when not seditious; and the Saxon law provided the punishment of fire preceded by torture to make them reveal their accomplices.[663] But let us come now to the heart of our subject. Against Luther, who was maintaining that the heretics could not, in those days, be put to death without defying the Holy Spirit, Leo X affirmed the existence of a right in those days to apply the death penalty to heretics. Who had that right? Not the Church. It belonged to the Christian State. The Church judged of heresy and called on the State to perform its temporal duties.[664]

The theses mentioned in the Bull Exsurge were condemned by the Pope "as respectively heretical, or scandalous, or false, or as likely to shock pious ears and seduce simple minds."[665] What note of condemnation attached to the thesis that heretics could not be put to death? Certainly a lesser note than heresy; like the thesis immediately following: "To fight against the Turks is to fight against God who, through them, punishes our iniquities"—a thesis which also would soon be violently disowned by its author. To call on the secular arm to defend Christendom against its enemies within and without, against the heretics and against the Turks, then seemed to be a piece of prudence not to be rashly dismissed.

e. Recourse to the Secular Arm in the Manner of the Church and the Manner of the State: from St. Augustine to St. Thomas

Let us be still more precise. How are we to understand the respective responsibilities of Church and State in applying the punishment of death?

Did the Church take the immediate responsibility of the initiative, using the State as an instrument, a tool, for the direct procurement of her own good, and then secondarily of that of the State? Or did the Church content herself rather with inviting, even requiring [666] the State to do its duty as a medieval Christian state—a state constitutionally composed of Christians—to act of itself, as a principal cause, under its own responsibility, to procure its own temporal good directly, and the spiritual and higher good of the Church secondarily? In the first case it would have to be said that the antisocial character of all heresy in the Middle Ages was but a conditio sine qua non of its repression by the secular arm, the formal motive of the repression being the directly anti-religious character of heresy. In the second case it would have to be said that the anti-social character of heresy was the formal motive of its repression by the secular arm.

Thus, as has been said, recourse to the secular arm could be explained theoretically in more ways than one. It is not always easy for the historian to say which it was that prevailed. The official and canonical documents do not seem to suffice to settle it, for they often appear to support opposite conclusions.[667] We must go the heart of the matter, and note the kind of action taken against heresy.

If the repression is carried out in the manner of the Church, conformably, that is, with the deeper exigencies of the Church, so that the use made of intrinsically temporal penalties is overruled, moderated, and transfigured by purely spiritual influences and raised to the height of the spiritual, then the Church is acting as principal cause and the State is no more than an instrument. But if the repression is carried out in the manner of the State, conformably with the exigencies of the State and of its harsher means, so that the legitimate use of temporal penalties (for we are considering legitimate use alone) is abandoned to the gravitational pull of the temporal, then it is the State that is acting as principal cause, and the Church is merely stimulating it. That seems to be the rule. How is it to be applied?

We may say that for St. Augustine, recourse to the secular arm was conceived in the manner of the Church. The State was no more than the instrument of a cause directly religious and indirectly secular. Its proceedings therefore reflected the moderation and sanctity of those of the Church herself. If Augustine calls for the support of the secular arm, he tries at the same time to bring its intervention under the laws of a higher justice, more merciful than that which presides over purely temporal causes. He is afraid that the State does not always act with the needful high-mindedness, sobriety and charity, that it does not sufficiently enter into the spirit of the Church, and may end by compromising her. He wants it to abstain from punishments involving mutilation and death, and to fall in with the Church's horror of blood. To the tribune Marcellinus, then sitting in judgment on the Donatists who, having kidnapped two Catholic priests, had killed the first and mutilated the second by putting out an eye and cutting off a finger, St. Augustine wrote about 412 that he was very anxious "lest perchance your excellency should judge them worthy, according to the laws, of punishment not less severe than the injuries they had inflicted upon others. Wherefore I implore you by your faith in Christ, and by the mercy of Christ the Lord Himself, by no means to do this or permit it to be done. For although we might silently pass over the execution of criminals who need not be regarded as brought up for trial on any indictment of ours, but by those to whose vigilance the preservation of the public peace is entrusted, we do not desire the sufferings of the servants of God to be avenged by the infliction of precisely similar injuries by way of retaliation. Not that we object to preventing these wicked men from committing further crimes; but we desire rather that justice be satisfied without taking their lives or maiming their bodies in any part, and that, by such coercive measures as the laws prescribe, they may be turned from their insane frenzy to the ways of peace, or compelled to give up their violence and betake themselves to some useful labour. This is indeed called a penal sentence; but who does not see that when a constraint is put on the boldness of savage violence, and the remedies fitted to produce repentance are not withheld, this discipline should be called a benefit rather than a vindictive punishment?"[668] In the Contra Cresconium (about 406), St. Augustine had even declared that "it does not please good people in the Catholic Church when an evil man, even a heretic, is put to death".[669] But how are these texts, especially the last, to be understood? Does Augustine set himself absolutely against the death sentence? No, since towards 413 he recognized its lawfulness in a text of the De Civitate Dei cited above. Does he wish to deny the Church the right to authorise the use of the sword in any circumstances? He does not say so, and we cannot attribute the view to him. He desires simply that the sword should not be used when some other punishment will suffice; and he does not consider that its use against heresy is just or suitable for times like his, when the Christian world is not yet politically organized. He tries to spiritualize the action of the State as far as may be before putting it at the service of the Church, even to absorb it in a way into that of the Church. Above all, if the State is merely the mandatory of the Church he would not have it defend her by the sword. For then indeed the maxim is valid: "Illud ab eo fit, cujus auctoritate fit."

Things were different in the Middle Ages. It was no longer a case of a government's favouring Christianity, but ruling over a mixed body of Christians and pagans. Western society is now altogether Christian. It is Christian in constitution. Heresy, more than ever before, has become a political crime. The medieval State is forced to protect itself against it, for it endangers the very principle of its existence. If it is not to perish it must mobilise the means of defence at its disposal; and these means are harsh. Politically, and therefore morally, it may justly defend itself; and it is even its duty to do so. And the Church, which then to a great extent depended on the State for the conditions of her biological existence, could at need recall it to its duty.

The repression of heresy in those days was effected in the manner of the State, to safeguard the good of the State in the first place, and that of the Church, so much more precious in herself, in the second. The responsibility therefore fell directly on the State and not on the Church. The Church was responsible for recognizing and approving a political structure incorporating none but Christians (Jews and pagans being held at arm's length), and one therefore in which heresy, should it unexpectedly crop up, would seem a crime against the State; but we cannot say that the Church, at any given moment of her historical existence, should from the first have refused to recognize as legitimate a society composed of none but the faithful. There was nothing sinful in such an experiment. Again, the Church was responsible for having recognized the legitimacy of the death penalty for crimes against the State; but here too the Church acted rightly. In this sense, then, the Church was responsible for the death of heretics; but evidently only by way of an after-effect and essentially indirectly. She cannot justly be saddled with the real responsibility. In virtue of the political and historical conditions of the Middle Ages it lies squarely on the secular power. It was for the latter to punish heresy as a crime against the State when the Church had punished it as a religious offence by excommunication. And things were such that at the beginning, when the secular power attempted to shirk its duty, as happened more than once, it failed in one of its principal tasks, that of safeguarding the common good and the public safety. I say "at the beginning", and for as long as the states were constitutionally composed of the faithful alone; for later on, when their populations became of necessity mixed, the moral obligation to civil repression of heresy automatically lapsed.

Thus then, in St. Thomas, day, the State acted, or at least was held to act, on its own account in dealing with heresy. Certain precautions taken by the canonists whereby, on handing over the delinquent, they invited the secular courts to stop short of effusion of blood and the death penalty, might lead us to think that the ecclesiastical power considered itself still as primarily and principally responsible for the treatment inflicted on the heretics.[670] But these are formulas of an age that had long passed away. By the time of Gregory IX, and much earlier no doubt, the effective responsibility for the punishment of heresy had passed to the secular powers, and the expression brachio saeculari relinquere is not in the least to be taken as a legal fiction, still less an hypocrisy, but meant just what it said. That is the opinion of many theologians today.[671] I think it was that of St. Thomas himself; there is nothing in his writings to oblige us to rank him among those who threw the juridical responsibility for the death penalty on the Church.[672]

To sum up: when punishments are moderate and still keep something of the air of paternal correction, that is a sign that the Church herself is taking the responsibility for the chastisement of heresy and is treating the State as a mandatory. But when the sanctions become heavier and more terrible, that is a sign that the State, under no matter what legal formula, is now the principal partner in the business of repression and has undertaken to conduct it in its own way. It is significant that it was the Emperor Frederick II who legalised the use of the death penalty and of the stake against the heretics.

Even if one had to grant with Suarez (which I do not) that the Church was the principal agent in the application of the death penalty, it would remain clear after all that has been said, that she was prompted only by the peculiar political situation in the Middle Ages—a situation which, on Suarez, supposition, played the part, not as I believe of "formal motive" but at least of condition sine qua non for the intervention of the Church. But then the Church, as we must recognize, would have undertaken very heavy repressive proceedings. Too heavy, in my opinion at least, to leave her holiness untarnished. Moreover the State, then functioning only as an instrument, could have taken none of this responsibility upon itself. We should then have had to attribute it, not to the sins of the Church, but to the sins of her representatives, the sins of the hierarchy. The Church in the person of her Popes, says Vacandard somewhere; the expression is just, but could be taken equivocally. For, in those of their proceedings which would be blameworthy in God's eyes, or manifestly tainted with error or injustice,[673] the Popes do not represent Christ; they are not the Church. However, fortunately we have no need to fall back on this extreme solution.

Here it may be remarked that the attitude of the Pope and the bishops seems to be different in the case of a judicial condemnation to death for heresy, and in the case of the holy war, of the Crusade against the heretics or the Mussulmans. In the first case the ecclesiastical tribunals handed over the delinquent to the secular arm. In the second we shall see the Pope or his legate positively directing the operations of the Crusade. That is why we attribute the responsibility for the judicial punishment of heretics to the secular power. This solution will not serve for the Crusades. There the responsibility rests on the legate and finally on the Pope—considered, it is true, not as head of the Church but as protector of Christendom. If the facts demanded it, there would be no objection from a theological standpoint to the adoption of this last solution to explain the judicial punishment of heresy: the secular power would then be an instrument in the hands of the Pope, as Suarez would have it—but of the Pope considered as protector of Christendom and not as Vicar of Christ. My chief preoccupation here once more is not to detail the facts as an historian would do, but to bring out the theological explanation they require when looked at in the light of the subsequent evolution of theological doctrine.

f. The Relation of the Pagan Empire to Christianity Unlike that of Medieval Christendom to Heresy

If it be now objected that Christianity had formerly overthrown pagan society, just as heresy overturned the Christian society, and that in consequence, according to our principles, the pagan State had the right to persecute the Christians, the reply will be that from the standpoint of a pure political empiricism the two situations did in fact present similar characteristics, and that once the legitimacy of a State essentially and constitutionally pagan is admitted, it must indeed be granted the right to punish Christians as guilty of the crime of lese-majeste: [674] not all the persecutors were wholly possessed by the spirit of hatred, and many, no doubt, resembled that proconsul who warned Cyprian to have a care for his life, and to whom the saint serenely replied: "Do what you have to do."

But the error would consist precisely in this empiricism. We must tread warily: the debate is not solely, or even directly, religious. It does not consist in asking whether medieval heresy had the same rights against Christianity as Christianity had against the old paganism: the answer is clear, but leaves intact the question whether we are to form the same estimate of the death penalty as used against the first Christians and as used against the first heretics. This question is directly political and indirectly religious: it consists precisely in asking whether the pagan Empire could as legitimately defend itself against the Christians as the medieval regime could against the heretics: we must take pains to discover, said St. Augustine, in a text already mentioned, not whether anybody is constrained, but in what cause he is constrained, whether in that of good or of evil, of justice or injustice.

This raises the whole question of the legitimacy of the pagan Empire. My answer is that this Empire was politically legitimate to the extent to which it assured, doubtless with numberless deficiencies, a certain common good, a certain authentic political order. In this sense St. Paul could write to the Romans themselves that "authority comes from God only, and all authorities that hold sway are of his ordinance. Thus the man who opposes authority is a rebel against the ordinance of God", that "the magistrate is God's minister, working for thy good", and that we must be subject "not only for fear of punishment, but in conscience" (xiii. 1-7). Now, the first Christians had no intention of overturning this authentic political order; they tried, on the contrary, to respect it, as the first apologists remarked, and they safeguarded it as far as they could when their numerical growth entailed the foundation of a new political regime. But the pagan Empire was politically illegitimate to the extent to which it protected paganism against Christianity, and politically and constitutionally conditioned the existence of one of the worst religious aberrations, one moreover in which the rulers did not themselves believe. In this sense St. John compared it to the Beast issuing from the sea, blaspheming against God, warring with the saints and having power over the whole earth (Apoc. xiii. 1-8). Thus, from the standpoint of a political science that would transcend empiricism, of a large and integral politics, the persecuting edicts appear unjust and the conduct of the Emperors monstrous. That cannot be said of medieval society. Its constitution politically conditioned the existence of Christianity and not of a religious aberration. Heresy, in overturning it, had neither the intention nor the power to replace it by any other Christian political constitution. If, in ruining medieval Christendom, it prepared a future Christendom, the Christendom of tomorrow, it was not in any direct and constructive manner, but indirectly and blindly. It appeared, politically, as the opposite of a legitimate movement. The State could take severe measures against it without injustice.

3. Torture And Cruelty In The Middle Ages

Let us sum up what has been said on the medieval repression of heresy. First, the laws of the Corpus Juris, which nowhere mention the death penalty and provide for abandonment to the secular arm only for other punishments, such as confiscation of goods and imprisonment, do not seem unreasonable. The jurisprudence of those Popes who, from Gregory IX onward, approve the secular power for its spontaneous introduction of the death penalty for heretics, and go so far as to recall it to its self-imposed duty, seems to me also justifiable, so long at least as this jurisprudence has the character of an authentic measure of public safety, and provided one observes the first rule of sound history and puts events into their historical context. But what then are we to say of the jurisprudence of these same Popes when it sanctions the use made by the civil tribunals of the barbarisms of the stake and the torture chamber? Are we obliged to justify it? Here the question becomes more complex.

a. The Middle Ages and Modern Times

Without wishing to pass a comprehensive judgment on the morals of the Middle Ages in order to compare them with those of other times, we have, to start with, to note a fact. Alongside characteristics whose nobility and delicacy win all admiration, the Middle Ages present us—e. g., in penal customs and methods of suppressing disorder—with brutalities, cruelties and barbarisms which revolt our sensibilities and provoke our indignation.[675] And we are right to be scandalized; but that does not mean that our modern conscience is necessarily, on the whole, and in the sight of the angels, more generous, more spiritual, more holy, more heroic, than the medieval conscience—in a word, that it is better intensively; it means that, Christianity having quietly continued its work, a certain cultural progress has been achieved,[676] so that the modern conscience is more alive to certain of its duties, and has become better extensively, at any rate in SO far as it has not lost ground elsewhere. However that may be, this spirit of violence, the dregs of a barbarism which Christianity has not yet fully dissolved, The upsurge too of a barbarity that Christianity had repressed, overshadowed one whole side of medieval history, and ended by surrounding the most legitimate institutions and enterprises with an atmosphere of horror. For our modern imagination it is all concentrated in a single word: the Inquisition.

b. Condemnation of Torture by Nicholas I: Its Revival

Whence arose the use of torture in the tribunals of the Middle Ages? It "had left too many sorrowful memories in the minds of the Christians of the first centuries for them to dream of employing it in their own tribunals. With the exception of the Visigoths, The barbarians who founded The states of Europe knew nothing of this brutal method of judicial enquiry. At the most, they availed themselves of whipping which according to St. Augustine, had a paternal and familial character."[677] In 866, in his Responsa ad Consulta Bulgarorum, Pope Nicholas I seized the opportunity offered him formally to condemn the use of torture, even in the civil tribunals. He declared it to be contrary to divine and human law.[678] We see in which direction the influence of the Church was brought to bear at the outset.

The pagan spirit however made war on her. It was not dead everywhere. It struggled up once more to the light, penetrating into custom; it invaded secular, and even spiritual institutions. It was thus that the ordeal, accredited among the Germans, found its way gradually into the civil tribunals, and even into many of the local ecclesiastical tribunals.[679] The punishment of burning, also in favour in German lands, was first inflicted on the heretics at the hands of excited crowds before it was legalised by Frederick II;[680] and when the Popes approved the measures taken by this Emperor against heresy, what they found themselves approving in practice was death at the stake. Torture had been condemned by the Church, but under the influence of the legists and the old Roman law it invaded the civil tribunals at the very moment when the Popes had got the upper hand of the ordeals. It was inflicted first on thieves and then on brigands. Then, with Innocent IV, the Popes ended by ratifying its use by the secular arm against the heretics.[681]

More generally speaking, it is the barbarity of all the penal codes and customs of the epoch that sickens us. The state of things may perhaps be well enough summed up by saying that the judicial machinery in its entirety, though it was on the whole more useful than harmful, was nevertheless vitiated first of all in the civil tribunals, and then eventually in the ecclesiastical tribunals by practices too cruel not to be unjust, inhuman, and truly lamentable.

c. Judgment on the Use of Torture

Is our judgment on torture to be similar to that on the punishment of death? Clearly not, if the punishment of death is legitimate and if we hold, with Pope Nicholas I, that torture cannot be justified under any law human or divine.

How then should the Church historian estimate the conduct of those Popes who approved the action of the secular power in using torture to force heretics to denounce their accomplices? Two judgments are possible.

An attentive study of the period will do one of two things. Either it will reveal that the employment of torture by the civil tribunals (whether inflicted on ordinary criminals or on heretics is all one, since heresy was considered in the Middle Ages as a crime against the State) had penetrated so deeply into customary procedure, had become so "natural", that it was practically impossible to call on the secular arm yet pretend to forbid its use. A true prudence (not that of the flesh) might then counsel a provisional tolerance of torture as of a lesser evil (as slavery had once been tolerated, as God Himself had tolerated polygamy in the Old Law), so as to leave the way clear for other and more urgent tasks; but without abandoning hope of a better regime in which to work effectually for its extirpation from judicial customs and penal codes. In that case the historian will certainly condemn torture, but he will not condemn the Popes who attempted to put the secular judicial and penal machine into action against the heretics before they could hope to make it less barbarous. "Every prudent man tolerates a lesser evil for fear of preventing a greater good."[682]

Alternatively an attentive study of the facts will reveal that torture, instead of being tolerated as an inevitable evil, was approved and maintained at an epoch when it could, and therefore ought to have been, abolished. In this case the historian will be bound to condemn those who maintained it and to denounce a concession made to the powers of evil for which they alone should bear the responsibility before history, before the Church, and before God, who themselves acted violently and inhumanly, who sinned by weakness and lacked the energy to combat the spirit of cruelty around them, or perhaps simply lacked the perspicacity. to discern the needs of their time and the immediate tasks to which they should have turned their hands.

Thus then the strictest theology of the Church leaves the historian a complete liberty of judgment in this matter.[683] It will ask him simply not to attribute to the Church, but rather to our human misery, everything clearly erroneous and reprehensible uncovered by his researches.

C. Summary

It is impossible to speak of the coercive power of the Church, to call up the history of its exercise, without a sense of depression. It could scarcely be otherwise. In raising this problem we have brought ourselves face to face with a form of evil that cannot but prove disturbing and oppressive even when it seems just and necessary—the evil of punishment, malum poenae. We cannot help feeling it. But if we see the malum poenae as a stain on the holiness of the Church, then we must see the holiness of God as stained with it too.

1. Coercion In Hell

One cannot read without a shudder the tremendous condemnations of the Gospel passed on those who, on the last day, shall be thrown into the furnace of fire and devoted to eternal torment. But the evil lies not in God, but in the perversity of wills in revolt; on the one hand against the infinite and eternal holiness of God Himself, and on the other against the finite holiness of the order of the universe. The supreme punishments, therefore, cast no shadow on the divine holiness; this we know by divine faith. And yet this certitude cannot quieten our hearts in this world. Only in the direct vision of the divine essence will the problem of the final obduracy of the damned, and the correlative problem of eternal punishment, become intrinsically clear in the sight of men and of angels.

2. Spiritual Coercion In Time

Making all due allowances and modifications we may recognize an analogous mystery in ecclesiastical penalties. Here again we stand in the presence of a divine order, an order of love which, because it is never to disappear, tends to overcome and repress all adverse influences. The jurisdictional power founded by Christ has for its first mission the announcing of the good news of the Gospel (declaratory power), and for its secondary mission the effectual organizing of the conduct of those who welcome this good news (canonical power). And the Kingdom of God in its wholeness, that is to say the divine order resulting from the descent of the Holy Trinity into history and from Its habitation among men, cannot, in virtue of a divine intention expressly signified in the Gospel, find its final perfection, its perfect realization, save by the integral functioning of the jurisidictional power, involving first a genuinely legislative power (whose essential and general decisions are ratified in heaven), and in consequence a judicial and coercive power. When therefore those who have given their hearts to the Church begin to revolt against her laws, she is entitled to act against them and inflict penalties.

These penalties, always spiritual if you look to the power that decrees them and the end that justifies them, will be, in their immediate and intrinsic tenor, either directly spiritual—as excommunication, expressly provided for in Scripture—or else temporal, material. To deny this last point—to deny that the Church can decree, subject of course to the demands of prudence according to time, place and circumstance, penalties that touch her subjects in the goods of fortune, in the goods of the body, in the use of liberty—would be to deny her power—always exercised of course, for spiritual ends—over the whole man; it would be to deny her all power to descend into the realities of practical life, thereby limiting not only her coercive power but even her judicial and legislative power; lastly, it would be gravely to misconceive her spiritual nature, for while this certainly forbids her to use temporal things in the manner of, and for the ends of, the State, it does not forbid but rather requires her to make use of them according to her own spiritual laws and for her own spiritual ends.

There are here two errors to be avoided: that which denies the Church's right to dispose of temporal things, contesting her character as a perfect and autonomous society, a kingdom effectively organized to exist in this world; and that which grants her the power of disposing of temporal things in the manner of and for the ends of the State; making her a kingdom of this world. If the jurisdictional power is divine, assisted—in a measure which I shall try to determine further on—even in its legislative, judiciary and coercive exercise, here, as before, we are in the presence of the most mysterious form of the malum poenae, since by man's revolt the things that should bring him highest deliverance bring him only oppression from without and affliction from within.

The exercise of the coercive power, moreover, even when just, prudent and generally irreproachable, even when confined to intrinsically spiritual penalties such as excommunication, runs the risk of irritating instead of amending the delinquent, and may thus occasion, indirectly, and on account of his own lack of virtue, an aggravation of the malum culpae, the evil of guilt. Finally, while every judgment immediately pronounced by God is infallible, it is certain that the exercise of the coercive power is divinely guaranteed only in a general way, for the general tendency of its decisions, but not for each particular case; so that these, through judicial error or the influence of passion, may sometimes be unjust. And the possibility of the least injustice in spiritual matters is a thing too terrible to contemplate, although we know perfectly well that properly speaking it is not the Church that is to be blamed, but the ignorance or sin of her ministers.

The penalties which the Church inflicts with her own hands, are, when considered intrinsically, spiritual and temporal. Among intrinsically spiritual or moral penalties we find, for example, deprivation of the sacraments, of the sacramentals, of ecclesiastical suffrages, of ecclesiastical burial, degradation, and so on. The intrinsically temporal or physical penalties are more variable. The Code actually mentions punishments touching external goods—fines [684], deprivation of pensions [685], of benefices [686], obligation to almsgiving [687]; touching bodily goods—fasts, pilgrimages [688]; and touching freedom—obligation or interdiction of residence in a given place [689], obligation to make a retreat in a monastery [690], surveillance [691]. The older usage of the Church provided for heavier penalties: imprisonment, beating (e. g., in the Rule of St. Benedict). It is to be noted on the one hand that the intrinsically temporal and physical punishments inflicted by the Church herself, appeared only in a rudimentary state to begin with, when the canonical powers had not had time to develop; and that, on the other, these same penalties became milder with the development of the spirit of humanity, which is among the fine flowers of Christian charity as manifest on the plane of human culture. The sacramental penances themselves were formerly much heavier. As I have pointed out, the present Code, without forgetting the grave recommendations of the Gospel (Matt. xviii. 17), of St. Paul (1 Cor. v. 2), and of St. John (2 John. 10—11), is nevertheless careful to respect the human ties that may unite the faithful with one excommunicated, even vitandus.

3. Recourse To The Secular Arm

Below the Kingdom of Heaven there are the kingdoms of this world; below the Church whose immediate ends are spiritual, there is a social order whose immediate ends are temporal. The Church is founded on grace; she confers those gifts that make us fellow citizens with the saints, members of Christ, the domestics of God; the social order is founded on nature, and confers the goods of civilization and culture. An abyss separates these two planes. The concepts of order, society, organism, happiness, justice, legislative, judiciary and coercive power, are applicable to both; not, however, in an identical sense, but analogically, in a sense essentially different though proportionally similar. Even when the temporal order opens itself, as it should, to the influence of Christianity, and tends to become a Christian temporal order, its own plane will never be that of Christianity, and its means of coercion will never be those of Christianity.

How are we to explain the attitude of the Church when, in circumstances which need careful definition she has decided to call on the secular arm, on temporal powers of coercion? Such an attitude could take two forms.

The intention of the Church in the first case would be to extend the field, in itself very narrow, of the temporal or physical punishments at her disposal. She would ask the State to lend her, to place in her hands for the time being, some of its own numerous means of physical coercion; so that she could turn them first to directly spiritual ends (the formal motive of the intervention), while the State, for its part, would reap its own temporal advantage (the absolute condition of the intervention). Suppose for example that the Church invokes the secular arm to put a stop to scandals and punish delinquencies proscribed by the divine law, but tolerated by the less exigent civil law. Then the secular arm would be functioning as an instrument of the Church. The responsibility for the consequences would fall on the Church (though, strictly speaking, no stain could ever affect her). But the Church would have tried at the same time to overrule the State's coercive action, to set her own limits to it, to assimilate it to the spirituality of her own law. She would require moderation; she would forbid recourse to the death penalty and to bloodshed. If she called on the secular arm to chastise crimes particularly baneful and scandalous in a society composed exclusively of Christians, in which the average level of collective morality could be placed sufficiently high, the holiness of the Church would then be shown in her care to spiritualize the temporal penalties she borrowed from the State, a care that clearly appears for example in St. Augustine's recommendations to the tribune Marcellinus. An historian who wishes to deal with these appeals to the secular arm that went to augment the number of ecclesiastical penalties, ought to distinguish three great periods: in the first, the State was not yet Christian and there could be no question of the Church borrowing its means of coercion; in the second, medieval period, the State, conceived as exclusively composed of Christians, could, without losing sight of its temporal vocation, lend the Church certain means of coercion which, for her part, she found it good hic et nunc to borrow for the better fulfilment of her spiritual mission; in the third, the State, even Christian, even Catholic, but no longer conceivable as composed essentially and exclusively of children of the Church, cannot, by its own constitution, put its coercive power at the disposal of the Church.[692]

In the second case the Church's intention would be to remind the State of the obligations of her temporal mission and of her duty to watch over the public safety (the formal motive and direct end of the intervention), whose ruin, in the given circumstances of place and time, would imperil the salvation of many souls (the safeguarding of which would be the remote end of the intervention). We have already seen the principles involved in this sort of intervention (supra, pp. 250 and 274).

4. The Way Of The Church And The Way Of The State

The historian will often have difficulty in recognizing the nature of the Church's interventions. Is she borrowing means of coercion from the State? Is she simply recalling the State to its duty in defence of a gravely menaced temporal common good? The difficulty of deciding will be so much the greater inasmuch as these two kinds of intervention seem at times to be mixed up. Certain great enterprises began in one manner and ended in the other, the dead weight of matter making them slip insensibly from the spiritual style proper to the Church to the temporal style proper to the State. It was thus that the medieval Inquisitors continued to make use of a formula of condemnation in which the secular arm was "efficaciously" recommended to avoid spilling blood and inflicting the punishment of death, when everything, including the very inefficacy of this recommendation, showed that at this period the repression of heresy had become a directly temporal affair. It was thus that at the time of the Crusades, certain pilgrimages, begun in the spiritual mode, ended up in the temporal.

If we confuse these two types of intervention on the part of the Church, and see their distinction as just another piece of intellectual by-play or a worthless subtlety, we shall fall into misconceptions impossible to remedy. We may then be led to saddle the Church with the responsibility for enterprises required by her, certainly, but to be conducted under the responsibility of the State and in the temporal manner of the State. We shall tend to forget the gulf that separates a Christian temporal order, however perfect, from a Christian spiritual order; the Christian States from Christianity; the ways of the kingdoms of this world from those of the Kingdom of Heaven. And then they will be right who, considering the medieval repression of heresy, reproach the Church for having stained her native purity, and having replaced evangelical means by political means, with having confused the Kingdom of Christ with the kingdoms of this world.

But however much intermingled in practice these two modes of intervention may be, they cannot be identified by the theologian. One of them may merge insensibly into the other as time goes on, and may often disguise itself under the same juridical formulas and within the same continuous web of history; we may hesitate to fix the precise point at which one replaces the other; each keeps its own character nevertheless, and is not to be reduced to the other. And it is this character that decides what has to be attributed to the Church or to the State, to God or to Caesar, in all the tangled complexities and variations of these appeals to the secular arm.

5. The Two Regimes, Consecrational And Secular

The political conditions required to justify the Church in calling on the secular arm for the repression of heresy suppose the existence of a temporal community essentially composed of Christian citizens alone. That is the first form of Christian State ever effectively contemplated. It was not destined to last for ever.

The state of things has changed. The Church, which is divine, has retained her unity. But her children are no longer temporally gathered up into one country, or indeed into one culture. Within each country, within each culture, they find themselves closely united for the needs of temporal life with men of other religions, men who do not belong to the Church, not visibly at any rate. To make up for it, their numbers have grown and they are spread over the whole earth. Heresy therefore has ceased to be, as such, a crime against the security, the very existence, of the State. The political conditions of the Middle Ages have passed away, and along with them the legitimacy of any recourse to the secular arm for the repression of heresy.

Between those times when recourse to the secular arm seemed to be necessary and legitimate, and those in which it had clearly ceased to be so, there was a lengthy period in which its legitimacy and usefulness might seem less evident, even disputable; sometimes and in some places it seemed to be opportune and in others not. Under such circumstances the question of how the canonical power is to behave, of the attitude it is to adopt, becomes a question of jurisprudence. If the assistance of the Holy Spirit extends to this domain it does so only in a very general manner. Errors and faults are not hard to find; and if one may judge the past in the light of the present one may think that it would have been better perhaps to come to an earlier resolution to limit the use of coercive means, especially intrinsically temporal means, and to have given all the preference to those of charity and persuasion.

"Men like Gandhi have given an example of what a technique of non-violence, inspired by an advanced spirituality, can achieve even on the temporal plane. It is for us Christians to revive a truly authentic part of our heritage and learn how at once to protect the holiness of the Church and save the souls of our separated brethren, in an attitude toward them which is at once firm and charitable.[693]

6. Torture

It is certain, as Pope Nicholas I taught, that torture is contrary to the laws of God and man. It is certain on the other hand that later on it found entrance into medieval practice under the combined influence of paganism and the old Roman law. How then are we to judge the conduct of a Pope like Innocent IV who, finding it in use against thieves and brigands, notified the civil tribunals that they ought to apply it against heretics because they were politically more dangerous?

There can be no question of justifying the use of torture. Nor is it sufficient to note that it was no sad monopoly of the Middle Ages, and that modern coercive institutions, under the influence of the sadistically inclined, have invented new forms of torture, often more subtle but certainly no less repulsive. All that can be said is that either torture had then become so common that it would have been practically impossible to forbid it to secular tribunals in the very act of asking their aid, and that it was therefore tolerated as a lesser evil; or that it could then, and consequently ought then, to have been abolished. In this case the responsibility for its use does not stop short at the State; it extends to the churchmen who failed in their mission and betrayed the ideal of the Church. It cannot in any case be laid on the Church herself. The errors of the canonical power in purely particular decisions, due to the deficiencies of its ministers, do not touch her inner sanctity.

7. What The Church Approves As Righteousness In The State Able To Be Defilement For Herself

The Church has a doctrine on the coercive power applicable to herself as a Kingdom living in this world, though not of this world. This doctrine is righteous. She has another doctrine on the coercive power applicable to the kingdoms of this world. This doctrine too is righteous, but with another kind of righteousness.

What is duly proportioned to the Christian State may not be proportioned to Christianity itself and to the Church; what is pure for temporal society is not necessarily so for the spiritual society, and the righteousness of the kingdoms of this world might be a stain on the Kingdom of Heaven. "You, who are an ecclesiastical ruler" said Cardinal Cajetan, "be careful first to rule conformably with the divine laws. . . You cannot, for the sake of the Church entrusted to you, be satisfied with this merely external order that leaves a secular ruler content. . . The Bride should be able to hear these words: Thou art fair, O beloved!"[694] We shall fall into grave error if we forget these things.

The coercive power of the Church is assisted in a general way and in respect of its exercise as a whole. It is not infallible in each particular case. Ignorance, error, sloth, cowardice, passion and injustice will all play a part there. For there are sinners in the Church and in the hierarchy, although in the Church there is no sin. The coercive power of the State, even the Christian State, is subject to even more defects. And what State, what temporal order, has ever been fully Christian?

If we bear these principles in mind we can look squarely at the problem of the Church's coercive power: we can welcome all the facts unearthed by the historians, and we shall have no fear of seeing the Church's holiness effaced. She shines in the midst of evil like the sun in a mist.

3 The Holy War And The Crusade

The origins of the Crusades are usually sought in the Christian pilgrimages to the Holy Places, pilgrimages which, on account of the hostility of the Mussulmans, were transformed into organized military expeditions. But, says Carl Erdmann, if you want to go to the root of the matter and understand the formation of the idea of the Crusade,[695] attention should first be fixed on the effort made by the medieval Church to moralise the use of arms, and turn them to ends she could approve of. Under the pontificate of Urban II, one of those ends was the conquest of the Holy Places, to which the Pope attached the same indulgences as to the pilgrimage to Jerusalem, so that it thereby acquired the value of a pilgrimage, cum armis Iherusalem peregrinati sunt.[696] The idea of the Crusade is to be explained above all by the general attitude of the medieval Church to war; it crowns the elaboration of a Christian ethic of war.

I propose first to deal with the very ambiguous expression "holy war", then to study from a theological standpoint the gradual formation of the idea of a holy war, drawing on the assistance provided by Herr Erdmann's work. I shall recall something of the history of the Crusade itself, then the famous texts of St. Bernard on the two swords. The way will thus be cleared to appreciate the part played by the Papacy in the military work of the Crusade, and to disentangle its theology.

A. The Expression "Holy War"

We are told that the Middle Ages gradually elaborated the concept of the "holy war", a concept that was to come to maturity with the Crusades. Is this expression "holy war" a happy one? It looks slightly paradoxical in any case: "war" seems to envisage the taking of others, lives by violence, whereas "holiness", according to the Gospel, consists in giving one's own life for love of others—how are the two ideas to be united? To make matters worse many further misunderstandings can arise: for their own convenience or for lack of theological analysis, historians too often lump together under the name of "holy war" enterprises which we shall have to take care to distinguish. It is unquestionable, on the other hand, that in the Middle Ages the Church tried, and with some success, to purify, to rehabilitate, to Christianize, this most astonishing—if not most disputable—and surely most secular of vocations: that of the soldier. She approved a certain use of arms. She even recommended it to the laity when grave dangers threatened Christendom, just as insistently as she forbade it to clerics. If then certain military enterprises especially encouraged by the Church are to be called "holy wars", the phrase is permissible, but on condition that it be first determined what precise part was played in the enterprise by the canonical, and what by the extra-canonical, powers of the clerics. It will then appear that "holy wars" are bound up with the existence or survival of a consecrational type of Christendom.

1. War, Diabolic And Divine

Christianity's first revelation concerning death—echoing that of Genesis ii. 17 and iii. 19—sets it forth as the fruit of sin: per peccatum, mors (Rom. v. 12). And Christianity's first glance at war was to be similar: war has its roots in sin. The formidable physical havoc it involves has its source in a hidden disorder still more terrible in the eyes of faith. It is the symptom of the interior and spiritual catastrophe of a people or of a civilization.

Here we have the explanation of the contradiction that appears in war according as we consider it in its source or in its consequences. Considering it in the sin that lies at its root, we shall call it free and voluntary, directly against nature, satanic. But looking at its overwhelming effects on the world it will seem like a fatality, a law of nature, blind and irresistible, with all the air of being the outcome of a divine will. Diabolic or divine? It is both at once. It is diabolic, as is the sin whence it springs, and the great Pope, Nicholas I, could write to the Bulgarians in 866, in his famous Responsa which amount to a code of Christian politics: "The passions that produce war and battles and the beginnings of all quarrels, are due without doubt to the fraudulent wiles of the devil, and only a man who is greedy for power, who is the slave of anger, envy or some other vice could seek for and rejoice in such things. Wherefore, save in cases of necessity, it would be well to abstain from fighting, not only in Lent but at all times."[697] And yet at bottom, Joseph de Maistre was not wrong in calling it divine,[698] and to consider it as a paradox so disconcerting that "there is no way of explaining how it is humanly possible"; the only thing to be said is that the fundamental laws of creation, when transgressed, take terrible and mysterious revenges. From this standpoint war has all the aspect of a divine chastisement; it is divine in the sense in which hell is divine. Such abysses can only be opened up by the refusal of an infinite good.

2. Wars, Just And Unjust: Peace Stronger In Itself Than War

If it is always sin that causes wars, it can unleash them in two very different ways.

First by inspiring them, by informing them; and then they are unjust. The Scriptural malediction on murder, on all great offences against charity, hangs over them: "Depart from me, ye cursed, into everlasting fire."

Second, by occasioning them, by making them necessary, but without inspiring them or directing them. Then the war will be just,[699] a cruel necessity, legitimate violence opposing an illegitimate violence. It will remain a terrible thing, lamentable, a mark of opprobrium on mankind, for it presupposes sin somewhere.[700] But it will be waged without sin; it will be morally good,[701] and it may therefore become meritorious. When the injustice of the adversary puts arms into the hands of the just, then the just will fight with hearts torn by the injustice out of which the need for the war arose. In any event, every just war will aim at peace: in the Christian outlook peace, in itself, is a higher, nobler, stronger work than war; and love, in itself, is stronger than hate.[702]

3. The Church's First And Second Action

All this being so, the Church's action could find but two points of application. The first was to make every iniquitous war impossible.[703] And the second, when war became inevitable and the only liberty left was to choose on which side to fight, was to hinder men's choice of the unjust side. The feudal regime had multiplied armies: every lord was the head of a troop. Was he to fight for justice or for injustice, to be a brigand or a knight? It is clear enough why the great Cluniac reformers started the idea of a Christian chivalry.

4. Just Wars And "Holy" Wars

Like all temporal activities that are morally legitimate, just wars may, as such, receive the approbation of the Church. However, they will not all receive it on the same grounds, or with the same insistence. In this respect we may divide wars into two great categories.

1. Under the first come all just wars for which temporal princes take the responsibility:

a. Those in which they simply defend their own legitimate temporal interests. If they are truly just, or at least have all the appearance of justice—for error is unfortunately always possible here—they can receive canonical approbation; they can, like every morally legitimate temporal enterprise, and without diminution of their essential temporal and secular character, be touched by a ray of spirituality. That will suffice to invest them with a kind of consecration, enough to justify, if you like, the title of Christian war, as one speaks of Christian economics or Christian politics; always on condition that the necessary reservations are made, for a war, even when just, brings terrible sins in its train.

It matters little, for the rest, how this Christian consecration or colouring is proclaimed. The prince, for example, can himself protest his Christian intentions, unite his cause with that of the Church, appeal to the Christianity of his subjects to persuade them to follow him. Or again, he can raise the standard of the saints, or the sign of the cross: the Bulgarians, who in their wars carried a horse's tail for ensign, asked Pope Nicholas I by what it should be replaced. "By what indeed," he replied, "if not by the sign of the Holy Cross?"[704] Did he, on that account, accept the responsibility for these wars? Obviously not! Or again, the Pope may give his benediction, may order prayers or thanksgivings for the success of wars which he considers just or which are represented to him as such: he blessed Charlemagne's war against the Saxons,[705] and sent a standard to William the Conqueror, which was raised at the battle of Hastings.

Supposing that these wars were just and conformed in all essentials with the requirements of Christian doctrine, are we to call them holy wars? No. They were in reality wars waged for the defence of secular interests, and had no immediate relation with spiritual things.

b. Furthermore, in a consecrational regime, the temporal princes ought, on their own responsibility—whether they act spontaneously, or are called to their duty by the canonical powerto draw the sword in defence of their Christian subjects against those who attack them in their Christian faith or life—against those, for example, who propagate heresy or infidelity: for in a consecrational regime it is a crime under the common law like theft or murder. Such wars may be encouraged and approved by the Church more strongly than those before mentioned. Their end is the defence of spiritual values, in so far, of course, as these values have taken their place with other political values of the consecrational city.[706]

In this first category are those wars which have been undertaken by bishops, whether as secular princes, charged with a regular temporal administration, or as supplying, on occasion, for defaulting secular power.

2. In the second category come three types of wars—taking it for granted always that they are just: [707]

a. Those for which the Pope takes the responsibility, acting as head of the States of the Church. These are essentially political wars. But seeing that the Pontifical State is then guaranteeing the independence of the supreme apostolic power, these wars become charged with spiritual significance. They can the more easily be called Christian. Such were the wars of the Pope against the first Saracens who came up the Tiber to subjugate the Roman territory.

b. Those for which the Pope takes the responsibility, acting as protector of a consecrational Christendom. They are still political wars, but directed to the defence of the political order inasmuch as it is consecrational, inasmuch as it requires visible membership of the Church from all its citizens. Hence these wars also take on a Christian and spiritual character. Such were the wars directed against the Mussulman invasion, which came to the fore in the reign of Urban II, and were called by historians such as Ranke, and later Erdmann, the "popular Crusade".

c. Between these two types of war, the one waged for the independence of the Pontifical State, the other for the independence of Christendom, there is room for a transitional type. When the armies of a prince who has been excommunicated as heretic or schismatic, march on Rome to set up an anti-pope, it is not merely the civil principate of the Pope that is endangered, but the fate of all Christendom. The Pope may recruit his military forces not only as Prince of the States of the Church, but also as protector of Christendom; for under a consecrational regime it is the very basis of political order, the constitution of Christendom, that schism and heresy imperil. Consider, for example, the wars of Gregory VII against King Henry, wars which the historians I have mentioned called the "hierarchic Crusade", and which they consider to have opened the way to the "popular Crusade".

Thus we have three types of wars: those waged for the defence of the Pontifical State, those waged for the defence of Christendom against its internal enemies such as heretics and schismatics, and those waged for its defence against external enemies, such as Islam. These three sorts of wars stand in strong contrast with other just wars by reason of the very special relationship they bear to spiritual things. And, if we grant that the expression "holy war"—which is not to be found in St. Thomas is capable of any acceptable meaning, it is here that it should be used. One may very well say, for example, with H. Pissard,[708] that holy wars are just wars which the Church not only encourages but also rewards with her spiritual favours. But this is not to say that they are undertaken and directed by the Church, that is to say by the canonical power of the Church: they are undertaken and directed by the extra-canonical power of the Pope acting as head of the Pontifical State or as protector of Christendom.

5. The Church, As Such, Does Not Make War

There is no room, in my opinion, for any third category of war; for wars, that is, for which the mediate or immediate responsibility would fall on the Church as such, on the canonical power bequeathed by Christ to His Apostles. So understood, the "holy war" has become a pure contradiction ever since the introduction of the law of the Gospel.

It would speedily open the way for the old ideas of conversion by constraint, armed mission, forced Baptism—ideas that haunted the imagination of many men of action, and even theologians; but rejected by the Church as such, and not to be imputed to her without injustice.

If it is clear that the Church does not countenance conversion by force, can she at least, and as the Church, as the Body of Christ, take up arms when attacked, and defend her spiritual treasures as the kingdoms of this world defend their material treasures? St. Augustine did not think so; neither the practice nor the authentic doctrines of the Church compel us to think so; and the words of Our Lord who would not have the sword drawn in defence of His Kingdom, can be received in their plain sense by Catholic theology.[709] "Suavi jugo tuo dominare, Domine, in medio inimicomm tuorum."[710]

B. The Formation Of An Ethic Of The Holy War

1. The New Testament

"Love not the world, nor the things which are in the world", for all that is in the world is "the concupiscence of the flesh, and the concupiscence of the eyes, and the pride of life"; "the whole world lies in the power of evil"; but "the world passeth away and the concupiscence thereof" (1 John ii. 15-17; V. 19). If concupiscence and sin lie at the roots of every war, then every war is condemned in its roots by these words, in which the last surviving Apostle recalls the essential Christian attitude to the world and to life. That is too clear to need comment.

But not all these wars, as I have said, are necessarily inspired by concupiscence and sin. There are just wars. Are they mentioned in the Gospel? It is silent enough as a general rule on the value of temporal and cultural activities. Does it speak of the just war?

Christ says enough about it to let us know that we are not to draw the sword to defend either Himself (Matt. xxvi. 52; John xviii. II) or His Kingdom (John xviii. 36).

But resort to the sword in temporal causes is not forbidden. Temporal justice, in the first place, may employ it, as St. Paul expressly says to the Romans (xiii. 4). And as for war, St. Augustine was to write that if it were always culpable no matter what the circumstances, John the Baptist would not have been able to recommend the soldiers who consulted him about their salvation to be content with their pay (Luke iii. 14), and Jesus, having praised the faith of the Centurion (Matt. viii. 10), would not have failed to ask him to abandon the army.[711]

The use of the sword is thus both forbidden and authorized in the New Testament. In later centuries this was to lead to contradictory interpretations. There is really no contradiction: the sword is forbidden on the spiritual plane, and authorized on the temporal plane.


It has been said that St. Augustine and St. Gregory, the first speaking of heretics, the second of pagans, brought to light in the West those principles which, having been obscured for several centuries, were to be used to justify the two forms of holy war, the Crusade of Gregory VII against the heretics and that of Urban II against the Mussulmans.[712] What exactly was the thought of these two Doctors?

1. St. Augustine sets out to justify those wars which the Old Testament represents as undertaken at God's command. In his Quaestiones in Heptateuchum,[713] speaking of the capture of Haï; by Josue (Josue viii), he recalls first that those who have the right to take up arms (a right not held by all) can do so only for a just cause; then, having defined a just war, he adds: "But those wars also are just, without doubt, which are ordained by God Himself, in whom is no iniquity, and who knows every man's merits. The leader of the army in such wars, or the people itself, are not so much the authors of the war as the instrument [non tam auctor belli quam minister]." In the De Civitate Dei [714] he declares that God Himself has made exceptions to the non occides: "They did not impugn this precept who made war at God's command [Deo auctore], or who, representing public justice and in conformity with His laws, have put criminals to death." That is why we are able to applaud the conduct of Abraham, question Jephta's, and excuse Samson's. "With these exceptions, then, which are justified either by a just law, or by a special intimation from God, the fountain of all justice, whoever kills either himself or another is guilty of murder." There are just slayings at all times, and in the Old Testament there are wars having God for author. So says St. Augustine.

He recalls, on the other hand, the Church's right to resort to the secular arm, notably against heretics.

Are we then to conclude, as Erdmann does,[715] that St. Augustine raised the repression of the Donatists by the Emperor Honorius to the rank of a holy war, of which God Himself would be the author and the soldiers His instruments? But Augustine constantly protests against the capital punishment meted out to the heretics, even when they were known to be guilty of murder; he fears lest the blood of the enemies of the Church should throw a stain on the Church's honour.[716] How then can it be supposed that in the slayings of the Donatists he sees a war like those of the Old Testament with God Himself for author?

In point of fact, "it was not as mandatories of the Church but in virtue of their own sovereign power that the Emperors dealt harshly with the heretics".[717] Honorius did not wait for the delegation of the African bishops to issue his edict against the Donatists in 405, nor for Augustine's assent to proceed to the infliction of the punishment of death in 409.[718] However, as the latter said, when the Emperor decrees the supreme penalty it remains open to the judges to soften the sentence.[719] Augustine certainly affirms the Emperor's right to act as a Christian prince, and to consider heresy as an offence against the common law;[720] to that extent we already have the consecrational order of the Middle Ages. But he wishes that "Catholicism alone should prescribe the laws that protect its security, and that it should remain judge in each case of the need to ask the tribunals to apply these laws".[721] The secular arm would then function as a pure instrument of the Church, and that is why it ought to act mildly and never go so far as to shed blood.

2. St. Gregory's outlook on the matter is different. In connection with an expedition against the heretics who rise against the Catholic Church, corrupt the faith, and infect members of the Christian body with their venom, he urges Gennadius, Patrician and Exarch of Africa, to use force against them for the good of the Christian people, and to conduct these ecclesiastical battles valiantly like a warrior of the Lord [ecclesiastica praelia sicut bellatores Domini fortiter dimicatis]; he suggests the re-establishment of the unity of the dismembered Churches and prays the Lord to grant him the victory.[722] Indubitably, there is here an appeal to the sword and to the use of the sword to defend the Christians against the turbulence of the heretics. It is already, if you like, a holy war. But Gennadius was not under the orders of Gregory. The expedition was undertaken in the name of the secular power. The Pope does not try to take the responsibility to himself. He intervenes to stir up the Exarch to defend the Church. If he speaks of "ecclesiastical" wars and "warriors of the Lord", we need not take the phrases too literally.

What was Gregory's attitude as regards the pagans? He writes to the same Gennadius to praise him for preparing himself for battle by prayer. He congratulates him on his victories which, by stopping the incursions of the Moors of Libya, and by widening the frontiers of an empire in which God is duly honoured, will enable the name of Christ to be spread abroad by the preaching of the faith.[723] There is here no question of attacking the pagans just because they are pagans; but of a war that is politically justified and one of whose fortunate consequences will be to introduce and favour Christian preaching among the heathen. The immediate aim of such a war is the subjugation of pagan populations, and this, as Gregory hopes, will condition a subsequent missionary activity under the protection of the State. Erdmann agrees. But I cannot agree with him when he speaks of a "Gregorian missionary war" or when he assures us that Gregory took the perilous step that leads to armed missionary aggression.[724]

The Kingdom of God cannot take the responsibility for defending itself in arms: that is the lesson of the New Testament. But the New Testament nowhere forbids the secular powers to defend the Kingdom of God, when unjustly attacked, by the ordinary means at their disposal; and on the hypothesis of a consecrational Christendom—bound to take measures against interference with spiritual values that have become fundamental political values—such defence becomes a duty to which the canonical power may, at need, recall them. Thus, from the Gospel to St. Augustine and to St. Gregory, we may undoubtedly observe a process of doctrinal explication, but no break.

3. The Oscillations Of Medieval Thought

Medieval thought on the relations between Christianity and war was dominated by two principles, both incontestable and yet opposed. They seem at first to be in active conflict, until the moment when one of them, gradually gaining ground, took possession, about the end of the first millennium, of the whole area to which it had any right in a consecrational regime.

The first of these principles is that war is always illicit for the kingdom of God, which must not resort to the sword. The second is that war can be licit for the kingdoms of this world, and is indeed inevitable in view of human perversity. Everywhere is combat, but here it is spiritual (militia spiritualis) and there carnal (militia saecularis).

These two principles are clear, and it might seem easy to confine each within its proper concrete limits. In reality, the operation is delicate, for not only do the same men belong to both kingdoms, so that war is allowed them on one count and disallowed on the other, but in a consecrational regime certain spiritual values penetrate the structure of society and there take on a political significance and character and call for secular means of defence. Hence the uncertainties and fluctuations found in the medieval writers in connection with the conduct (a) of laymen, (b) of clerics, and (c) of the Sovereign Pontiff.

a. That the emperor, the king, the prince have the right in certain circumstances to declare war, is doubted by none. If the prince is Christian it is as a Christian (in a Christian manner) that he is to make war, and, more generally, it is as a Christian that he should perform all his temporal tasks; and so doing he may merit the Church's approval. It remains true, although this was not then made precise, that he makes war not in his capacity as a Christian, as a member of the Kingdom of God, but in his capacity as prince of an earthly kingdom.

Over the case of the soldier there is a certain hesitation. As a member of the Church he cannot shed blood, and yet that is what he has to do in virtue of his profession. Hence the curious custom attested by the penitentials, but disappearing as ideas became more precise, of imposing an ecclesiastical penance for killing anyone in battle, and correlatively of forbidding public penitents to bear arms and do military service.[725]

The shadow that still lay over the vocation of the soldier was dissipated by degrees. The weakening of the royal power and the formation of the feudal system obliged the Church, if she did not want to abandon the nobles to their own anarchy, not only to remind them of the general duties of a Christian, but also to indicate the ends for which it was permitted them, indeed commanded them, to fight. A Christian ethic of war in function of the consecrational regime began to develop. To the model of monastic sanctity and clerical sanctity, were added those of lay sanctity and knightly sanctity. But it was done with prudence. Odo of Cluny's hero, Gerard d'Aurillac—as also the Abbot of Fleury's, the English King, Edmund—triumphed without spilling blood.[726] It is true that, for a long time past, saints who had been soldiers had been proposed for the veneration of the faithful. But these had achieved sanctity on the fringes, so to speak, of the profession of arms, by martyrdom like St. Sebastian, St. Maurice and St. George, or by renouncing the soldiership of this world to enter that of God, like St. Martin.[727] We have to come down to Erlembald, the military leader of the Pataria of Milan, to reach the first knight in history who was held to have achieved sanctity by the exercise of his profession. And already we come in sight of the "holy war", for Erlembald had received a mandate from the Pope to meet the violence of married and simoniacal clerics with violence.[728] It was clear enough henceforth that even the vocation of arms could lead to sanctity. Even before the First Crusade the Liber de Vita Christiana of Bonizo of Sutri, which contains a code of obligations for knights, the first we possess, calls upon them to fight for the poor, for widows, for orphans, for the safety of the fatherland, and for the suppression of heretics and schismatics.[729]

The great movement of reform, begun at Cluny, was not confined to clerics but extended to the laity; and just as there had been, after Constantine, an attempt to Christianize the vocation of the prince, so did the institution of chivalry set out to Christianize the vocation of the soldier.

b. Clerics were still forbidden to bear arms. But the bishops accepted secular responsibilities, and after that it was difficult for them to keep clear of war. They found themselves engaged in it in their character as temporal princes. When the great movement of the Peace of God was organized, which attempted to banish war finally from Christendom,[730] the bishops raised troops against those knights who did not want peace.[731] There were those again who found themselves, for example, at Milan, at the head of the communal militia.[732] Fulbert of Chartres, careful only for the sacred character of the bishops, was scandalized at such conduct which seemed to him a betrayal, since the Church should wield none but the spiritual sword. But his contemporary, Bernard of Angers, thinking of the defence of the consecrational political order, goes so far as to pronounce the panegyric of a prior who repelled a band of malefactors at the head of his monks, and who prefigured in a way the "military orders" of St. Bernard.[733]

c. As to the Pope, it is clear that he cannot make war in virtue of his apostolic power whereby he is vicar of Christ and head of a Kingdom that is not of this world. What he can do here is to encourage, approve, bless, indeed reward by spiritual favours, those temporal enterprises which, being just and wholesome, more or less directly help in the long run the spiritual progress of mankind. Consequently he can approve a war that he sees as just, and ban another that seems to him iniquitous. Such papal interventions were not always without their inconveniences; they could be prompted by incomplete and one-sided information, not to mention prejudice and passion, and raise terrible cases of conscience for Christians who found themselves fighting in good faith in the wrong camp. Moreover the benedictions invoked on the just cause, and the maledictions levelled against the unjust, were not always followed by immediate effect even when the Pope was a saint: the justice immanent in the world is not, to be sure, an illusory notion, but its workings may disappoint the hopes of a generation; they commonly lack that point and promptitude which a faith that often seems to us a little naive was apt to expect. The more weighty the events of history the slower seems their coming to fulfilment, the more unforeseeable their consequences.[734]

It is clear, on the contrary, that by reason of the political power conjoined with the apostolic the medieval Popes could take, or cause to be taken, all the military measures needed for the defence of the States of the Church. That scandalizes no one; Sergius II is blamed for not having more efficiently protected Rome against the Saracens;[735] John VIII is not blamed for having posted a flotilla at the mouth of the Tiber,[736] nor Pius IX for having mobilized his Zouaves against Garibaldi's bands: for in all these cases the Pope acted as prince and not as pontiff—although the older Popes were less concerned to make the distinction than those of more recent times. The true scandal occurs when certain Popes, whether in reality or appearance, allow affairs of State to gain the upper hand in their hearts.

But it is especially surprising to see some Popes, whose holiness is undisputed, resort to force not only to assure the independence of the patrimony of St. Peter and of tributary lands, but also for the success of much wider temporal causes. They begin, doubtless, by urging the Emperor and the Christian kings to arm, but when these remain deaf to their exhortations they take into their own hands great tasks the like of which their predecessors had never before assumed: they call to their aid the princes and knights of all lands to defend a Christendom threatened in its entirety by enemies from within, like the heretics, or from without, like the Mussulmans. Clearly they are no longer acting as princes of the Pontifical State. By what right then do they assume the leadership of armies? Nobody at the time could say exactly.[737] But for their part they did not hesitate. They did what they thought they ought to do for the common good. Certain great temporal interests which, in a consecrational regime, involved great spiritual interests, were threatened. They alone had the power to defend them effectively. Their duty was to act.

The theory came later, and hesitantly. Manegold of Lautenbach tried to justify the undertakings of Gregory VII against the schismatics and excommunicated Henricians by alleging texts of St. Augustine approving the use of force against the Donatists: but St. Augustine would on no account have the blood of the heretics on the hands of the Church, and what had to be justified was precisely the Pope's resort to arms and shedding of blood. Next were brought forward the wars ordered and glorified in the Old Testament. They serve to demonstrate, no doubt, that there can be just wars, but do they suffice to prove that in the New Testament (a spiritual, not a fleshly covenant) in which spiritual realities are clearly distinguished from material, in which the worship of God is freed from Jewish nationalism and love for the Church is distinguished from love for the fatherland,[738] the Kingdom of God can defend itself by arms, and that the Popes, even as Vicars of Jesus Christ, can wage war? But if not, how can one justify the conduct of these Popes? What right had they to act in the armed repression of heresy and in the organization of the movement—to all appearance aggressive—of the Crusade? The answer has been suggested already. It was not in virtue of any canonical right, but by a right annexed, extra-canonical, as protectors of a consecrational Christendom.

The oscillations of medieval thought were between two extreme principles, one forbidding all war to the Kingdom of God, the other allowing it to the kingdoms of this world. The difficulty was to trace the lines of demarcation between the two zones. It is identical with the line dividing the canonical or spiritual power from the political or temporal. But it is not identical with the line dividing clerics from laymen. For the clerics could then legitimately enjoy extra-canonical powers. Prince-bishops existed; and the Pope himself, besides his apostolic jurisdiction, exercised a temporal authority, whether as Prince of the Pontifical State or as protector of Christendom.

There is certainly nothing in the Gospel to authorize the Pope as Vicar of Christ and successor of Peter to take on himself the responsibility for a political government and consequently for the use of the sword. But neither is there anything that forbids him to annex to his spiritual power, if the general good should imperiously demand it, an extra-canonical power of a temporal nature. Now, supposing a consecrational Christendom, these interventions of the Pope in temporal affairs can be fully justified. To preserve the independence of his apostolic power the Pope was in fact constrained to assume the political government of the city of Rome. And to safeguard the common good of a consecrational Christendom, a common good that is political in essence but presupposes the profession of the Catholic faith and visible membership of the Church, he saw himself obliged to support the crusading movement. It is from this standpoint that we must judge the pre-Crusade of Gregory VII against the schismatic and excommunicated Emperor, and the great popular Crusade of Urban II against the Mussulmans.

C. The Crusades

1. The Historical Facts

1. From the standpoint of the secular historian the Crusades appear as a phase in that gigantic struggle between East and West, which oscillates more and more dangerously as history advances. It began with the Median wars, and is far from ended yet. It was marked by the conquests of Alexander, by the invasion of the Huns, by the successive victories of the Persian Sassanids and of the Eastern Roman Empire, by the overwhelming triumph of Islam which in the middle of the seventh century was "the great revenge of Asia", the "ground swell" that submerged North Africa and passed the Pyrenees; by the Byzantine re-conquest which at the end of the tenth century threw back the Arabs for a brief space beyond Armenia and the Middle Euphrates, by the thrust of the Turkish invasion which in the last quarter of the eleventh century wholly engulfed Syria and most of Anatolia. "At this date the integrity of Europe could be saved only by an outburst of conscious energy, in point of fact only by the entry on the scene of the youthful forces representing the renewed West since the great Roman renaissance of the eleventh century, and it is this effort that is properly called the Crusades."[739] Whereas the West had become Christian, the East had passed to a considerable extent under the hegemony of the Crescent, so that the Christian faith, which in this conflict of peoples and cultures was represented only on one side, seemed to have its destinies bound up with that of the Western world. Above the great duel which, in the first half of the seventh century, took place between the Persian king Khosroes Parviz and the Emperor Heraclius, and in which he saw the first Crusade, the chronicler William of Tyre held up the true cross, "symbol and prize of the struggle";[740] and the great basileis who, in the tenth century, led against Islam what may be called strictly "the first of the Crusades in date",[741] the Greek Crusade, aimed not merely at restoring the old Roman frontiers but also at "liberating the Holy Sepulchre" and "restoring Jerusalem to the faith of Christ".[742] They were repelled by the Turks, and it was the Latin West that took up the task of defending the Cross against the Crescent.

2. Whence came the moral impetus, the dynamism of the Crusades? They were closely integrated in a larger historical fact—the awakening of Europe, the first European renaissance after the fall of the Roman Empire—and they were one of the manifestations of a spiritual power of expansion, becoming eventually warlike, demographic, artistic, whose other effects in the eleventh century were the Cluniac movement, the flowering of Romanesque art, the development of pilgrimages, the constitution of the Pontifical monarchy and the warlike expeditions against the Arabs in Spain. For the Crusade "if by that we understand the defence of Latinity against Islam, in no wise began, as the textbooks teach, in the Levant and in 1097, but well back in the first half of the eleventh century and in the extreme West—in Spain—where Gregory VII in particular warmly encouraged the enrolment of French barons under the standard of the Reconquista. Gregory's gesture against the Mussulmans of Spain is the prelude to that of Urban II against the Mussulmans of Syria".[743] This last fact is not without its significance: the Crusade, up to a certain point, appeared as the reply of medieval Christendom to the principle of the holy war proclaimed by Mahomet himself against the pagan tribes of Arabia,[744] which was now imperiling the very existence of Christianity. "The Eastern Crusade was thus bound up with the Spanish reconquest. Even the Italian shipping, long before it helped the Crusaders to capture the maritime towns of Syria and Palestine, had participated in the struggle against Islam by helping the Spanish to reconquer the Balearics. The Dieu le veut! of 1095 was only in appearance a new formula. For more than a century God had willed it, the Papacy had proclaimed it, and the barons of the Midi and of Northern France had fulfilled this will on the marches of Castile and Aragon."[745] Whereas Alexander and Saladin embody in a way "the stream of history, the ineluctable chain of causes and effects", the first symbolising the revenge of Hellenism on the barbarian world, the second personifying the irresistible counter-attack, Pope Urban II, proclaiming to the Council of Clermont on the 27th November 1095, "that in view of the Turkish conquest and the Byzantine collapse, the West must be defended not only on the marches of Spain, but also on the shores of Asia", appeared as coming "to halt and turn back the course of events". The Crusade which he had long been planning and whose inception was due "neither to the appeal of Alexis Comnenus, nor to the pilgrimage and preaching of Peter the Hermit", was "the saving reaction, the defensive rebound of Europe in the face of the greatest danger it had ever been in since the fall of the Roman Empire. The moral unity of the Roman world was now suddenly re-knit from the Atlantic to the Danube and indeed to the Bosphorus, to postpone for three and a half centuries the fatal collapse of 1453".[746] Such were the main lines of the picture on the eve of the First Crusade.

3. The initiative in the matter of the Crusade thus came from the Pope. By choosing for its leader the Bishop of Puy, Adhemar of Monteil, the Pope showed that "he wanted to keep the direction of the movement in his own hands, the territories to be conquered by the Crusaders undoubtedly being, in his mind, another patrimony of the Holy See".[747] In fact, after the conquest of Jerusalem, we see the Archbishop of Pisa, Daimbert, become Patriarch of the Holy City, claim possession. "The Holy Land belonged to Christ the King whose representative the Patriarch was. Thus the Patriarch was the sole legal possessor of the land, and it was only as his mandatories and vassals that the Defender of the Sepulchre and the Prince of Antioch could exercise authority."[748] The Latin society of the Levant thus presented itself "as a replica of the Latin society of the West. At the centre, a pontifical see—Jerusalem instead of Rome—commanding vassal kings. But what was possible in the midst of the Christian world was hardly possible here in this entrenched borderland on the threshold of the desert, at the mercy of the first Arab or Turkish raid".[749] Daimbert's Patriarchate was of short duration. At the death of Godfrey de Bouillon the Holy City passed into the hands of Baldwin I, founder of the Kingdom of Jerusalem, which did not differ from other temporal kingdoms.

2. Various Meanings Of The Word Crusade

The above recital shows that what is commonly called the history of the Crusades covers several different types of fact that need to be carefully distinguished:

a. First come the pilgrimages. The Crusade, then understood in its most spiritual sense, "is, by definition, a work of piety, the fulfilment of a vow, the laying up of merits, so much so that many who took the Cross merely went to the Holy Land and, like Count Robert of Flanders in 1177, let it be known that they came to pray and in no wise to make war".[750]

b. But the time came when these pilgrimages led to fighting. "The essential thing then was to fight, and not to come back without having killed Saracens, even if that involved breaking truce, upsetting all the patient policy of the Franco-Syrian colonists, and finally leaving these latter to struggle on in the midst of inextricable difficulties."[751] These expeditions deserve to be called raids and brigand expeditions rather than Crusades.

c. The name "Crusade" attaches, on the other hand, to military expeditions conducted according to the law of nations, undertaken in response to papal appeals and aiming at the liberation of the Holy Land and the protection of Christendom against the Mussulman invasions.

d. Lastly, to the spirit of the Crusade defined as an outburst of enthusiasm, of adventure, of transient pilgrimage, we may oppose, as Grousset constantly does, the spirit of permanent occupation, of colonisation, of political action, which presided at the formation and maintenance of the Frankish monarchy in the East.

The only one of these elements which raises a problem that concerns us here is the third, relating to those organized expeditions of the Christian West, at once spiritual and warlike, begun in Spain at the behest of the Popes and carried by them to the threshold of Asia.[752] By what title did the Pope intervene? Was it as the head of Christianity or as protector of Christendom? Were the Crusades the warlike expeditions of Christianity or of Christendom?

D. St. Bernard's Distinction Of The Two Swords

The capture of Edessa by the Turks on the 23rd December 1144 and again on the 3rd November 1146, followed by the massacre and deportation of the Armenian population, marked the beginning of the return wave of Mussulman conquest. It was thus that it was understood in the West, where the news of the event provoked the Second Crusade. Pope Eugenius III gave the task of preaching it to St. Bernard. After reading to the immense assembly at Vezelay (31st March 1146) the Bull exhorting the Christians to "take up the cross and your arms" to stop the advance of the infidels, to defend the Eastern Church liberated by the first Crusaders, to rescue those thousands of Christian prisoners whom the Mussulmans held in chains, the saint succeeded, by the fire of his eloquence, in raising a wave of enthusiasm not unlike that of 1095. The Second Crusade was fixed for the following year. It has been remarked that instead of being a more or less inorganic international migration, it set on foot two regular national armies commanded by the two most powerful sovereigns of the West—the King of France, Louis VII, and the Emperor of Germany, Conrad III—and that it was thus distinguished from the First Crusade "in theory at least, since the religious origin of the Crusade had obliged the knights to drag after them in their wake a whole crowd of pilgrims and penitents, devoid of all military value and impeding the movement of the troops".[753]

How did St. Bernard explain the alliance of the cross and the sword? He had recourse to the image, since become famous, of the two swords.

In the book he dedicated to the Templars the saint in a general way justified the use of arms by the fact that John the Baptist did not ask the soldiers to lay down their arms, but simply to be contented with their pay (Luke iii. 14).[754] He gave St. Paul's words reminding the Romans that the civil power bears the sword as God's minister (xiii. 4); he quoted the wars of the Old Testament; and, as a climax, recalled the example of the Chief of all knights who one day armed Himself, if not with the sword at least with the lash, to chase the traders from the Temple. After all this, he went on to approve of the drawing of both the swords of the faithful to repel the heathen who make war, oppress the Christian people, and dream of depriving Jerusalem of all its inestimable riches, of profaning the Holy Places, and of possessing themselves for ever of the sanctuary of God.[755]

After the loss of Edessa St. Bernard urged the Pope to draw the material sword himself and go to the aid of the Eastern Church: "Since the Saviour suffers anew where once He died for us, both the swords must be drawn which he allowed on the first occasion [Luke xxii. 38]. And who should draw them but you? Both swords of Peter must be unsheathed as often as need be, the one at his command, the other by his hand. And, indeed, of the one of which it seemed that he ought not to make use it was said: Put up thy sword into its sheath. Therefore that too was his, but not to be drawn by his own hand. I think that now is the time when necessity bids both to be drawn for the defence of the Eastern Church."[756] There are therefore two swords quite distinct from each other, one of which Peter takes immediately into his own hand, and one that is taken immediately by the prince. But Peter can, and in certain very grave circumstances ought to, command the prince to draw his sword.

Finally, at the end of his life, St. Bernard makes the same distinction in his De Consideratione. But the circumstances have changed. It is no longer a question of encouraging the Pope to the Crusade against the heathen, but of recommending him to be gentle to his own flock. He is to gain them not by steel but by words. And though the material sword is rightly his, to use it unwisely would be in a way to usurp it: "Why do you seek to usurp the sword that once already you have been ordered to put back into its scabbard? But he who denies that it is yours does not sufficiently consider the words of the Saviour: 'Put back THY sword into its sheath' [John xviii. 11]. It is therefore yours, and to be drawn, no doubt, at your bidding, but not by your hand. For otherwise, if it concerned you in no way, to the Apostles who said: 'Here are two swords', the Saviour would not have replied: 'It is enough', but: 'It is too much.' Both swords therefore belong to the Church, the spiritual and the material. The material sword is to be drawn in defence of the Church, the spiritual by the Church; the spiritual by the hand of the priest, the material by the soldier, but at a sign from the priest, and on the order of the Emperor."[757]

The Church, says St. Bernard, possesses the material sword because she can command princes to draw it. But when the material sword spills blood, whose is the responsibility? Does it fall on the Church, or on the prince? The problem arising from the bloody repression of heresy arises again in connection with the Crusade.

E. Theology Of The Crusade

I have no intention here of setting out all the various theological explanations that have been proposed for the Crusade. Erdmann has noted that, contrary to what happened in the quarrel over investitures, it was practice rather than theory that took the precedence in the matter of the holy war.[758] The Popes, prompted as I believe by the Holy Spirit, had a lively sense of the new responsibility that lay on them at this historical moment. They acted accordingly. The theoretical justification came afterwards. It took forms that may seem to us too vague, or insufficient, or disputable; even erroneous. We need neither the Donation of Constantine nor the False Decretals to justify the States of the Church and the authority of the great Pontiffs of the Middle Ages. Nor have we any need, in order to justify the Inquisition (as far as it can be justified), to credit the canonical power that Christ left with His Church with a right to inflict the punishment of death. Similarly, we are not obliged to justify the wars against the heretics, nor yet the Crusades, on the grounds alleged by contemporary writers: to force St. Augustine's texts, for example, on the suppression of the Donatists, so as to make them cover the death penalty, or to compare Pope Urban II, preaching the First Crusade, with Moses leading the Hebrews to the Promised Land. Behind all these theoretical explanations, disputable or plainly incorrect, we may perhaps recognize a practical attitude in the Sovereign Pontiffs which can be shown as justified in the light of the later development of Christian doctrine. For I think that the precisions furnished, for example, by Leo XIII on the relations of Church and State will enable the theologian to appreciate more exactly how certain facts of the past, such as the Inquisition, the wars against heresy and the Crusades, stand with regard to the powers and the life of the Church. Doubtless this standpoint is not that of the historian, but that of the speculative theologian. But the historian himself should, I think, recognize its legitimacy.

Let us see then how, from this standpoint, we should understand the distinction of the two swords as formulated by St. Bernard on the occasion of the Second Crusade.

In accordance with what has been said there are, in the abstract, three possible interpretations.

It could be said first that those who dispose of military forces are acting as pure instruments of the canonical power, that is of the Church. The Church is the principal agent, and on her finally lies the responsibility for the blood spilt. On this interpretation the Crusades would be Church affairs; they would pertain directly to the Kingdom of God. Such a view might be in conformity with the doctrine of Suarez: it is not in conformity with that of St. Augustine, nor, I think, with that of St. Thomas. Its defect is to make the analogous too much like the univocal, to fail to make a clear enough distinction between the ways of God's Kingdom and those of Caesar's, between the characteristic means of the former, which, even when intrinsically and immediately material, should always, by reason of the immediate ends they envisage, submit to the attraction of the spiritual and be purified, moderated and softened; and the means of the latter, which, serving purely temporal ends, can remain severe and even bloody.

War of course can be waged for temporal ends that are very noble, and sometimes closely connected with the maintenance or progress of the faith in a given region. The well-recognized piety of certain military leaders, such as St. Louis on the Christian side,[759] led them to seek the spiritual before all else, to efface themselves before it, to reduce themselves, and their armed forces too if that were possible, to the condition of a pure instrument.[760] And yet I think one may claim that an armed force refuses of its very nature to be handled as a pure instrument of the spiritual.[761]

We now come to the second explanation. Those who dispose of the military force are acting as secondary principal causes. The Church intervenes only to remind them of their task, of their duty to act according to purely temporal laws of action which are other than her own. The Crusades are directly temporal affairs; they pertain directly to the kingdoms of this world. What they aim at immediately is the temporal safety of the Christian West. But the defence by arms of the Christian West, of the social order then called Christendom,[762] though forbidden to the Church as such—to the canonical power—could nevertheless become the subject of a precept addressed by the Church to the Christian princes, and of spiritual favours granted to all who would undertake it—since it appeared not only as a legitimate work, but also as a condition of the preservation of the faith in so many souls. The Church used her canonical power to preach the Crusade, but she did not directly assume the responsibility for the Crusade understood as a warlike expedition. Theologically, this thesis is beyond reproach. Let us suppose a Christendom of the secular type, a civilization sufficiently penetrated by the influence of the Church to deserve to be called a Christian civilization. Suppose that one day it has to defend itself in arms against a civilization of the naturalist or atheist type, and that the Sovereign Pontiff intervenes morally in the conflict to support one camp and to forbid Christians to fight in the other. Then it is to the above explanation that we should turn. But the Crusades were more than that. They occurred in a different atmosphere and cannot, I think, be fully accounted for in this way. If the attitude of the medieval Popes is to be thoroughly justified we must take into account a further consideration.

Hence a third explanation. Owing to the failure of the imperial power the Pope was compelled to accept the responsibility for the Crusade, not as Vicar of Christ and Head of Christianity, but as protector of a consecrational Christendom, being bound to act on account of the spiritual values then involved in the political order, values which therefore could and should be defended by political resources. Thus it was in virtue of a temporal extra-canonical power that the Pope then intervened, exercising authority over the princes considered as pure instruments for the common good of Christendom. To be responsible for a just war, for just bloodshed, was no sin for a temporal power; it was ethically good and so could be made meritorious by charity; but it would have been a sin for the Church, who has to conquer by being ready to shed her own blood, like Christ, not by spilling that of others. What is allowable for the kingdoms of this world, whose ends and means are temporal, would be certainly illicit for the Kingdom of God, whose end and means are spiritual. The Crusade might very suitably be a war waged by Christendom against Islam. It could not be a war of Christianity against Islam, since Christianity does not go to war. If then a "holy war" is a war for which the Church takes the responsibility there has never yet been a holy war. The phrase "holy war" can only startle anyone who contemplates the mystery of the cross, the mystery that lies at the heart of Christianity, is presented every day at Mass and is the cause wherefore, as St. Thomas says, the Church forbids all clerics to take blood on their hands.[763] It remains foreign to the Christian vocabulary. In point of fact St. Thomas never makes use of it; and when he wants to characterize a war undertaken at the instance of the Church, he is content to call it "just".[764]

The duty of the Crusaders—symbolized by the liberation of the Holy Land, the earthly country of the God of Heaven,[765] now, it was hoped, to become the marches of Christendom upon the frontiers of Asia—was really nothing less than the defence of the temporal order of the West, of the whole of Christendom, whose collapse would be so damaging to the Kingdom of God. Even while perilously hemmed in by Islam, it had been foolishly occupied in shedding its own blood in battles and tourneys, but was now at last recalled to a sense of its own living solidarity by the extraordinary moral prestige of the Papacy. The fact that at this moment of the millennial struggle between Asia and Europe, between East and West, the Church was ranged wholly on one side gave the West a privileged character and an importance not unlike that of the ancient Jewish people whom no one could attack without seeming to attack the cause of the true God. That, it is true, is but a superficial resemblance; for whereas the Old Testament revelation was, by the divine law, reserved to the Jewish people,[766] that of the New is divinely addressed to all peoples, the cross being destined to extend its arms over East and West alike. It is true however that in respect of the material conditions of its existence the Kingdom of God then stood in close dependence on the social organization of the West. The connection between the spiritual and the temporal was then the more evident since many bishops were also temporal princes, and since, if they did not fight themselves, they accompanied their people on the field of battle. Facts like these might easily produce the illusion that the Church as such was in the midst of the melee. But this was not so. The Church does not shed blood. The military Crusade was the direct work of the temporal powers of Christendom, and of the Pope as protector of Christendom.[767]

Thus the Kingdom of God never takes up arms and never assumes the responsibility for blood. Mahomet, in whom Islam found its highest and purest embodiment, having borne patiently with injuries for thirteen years, proclaimed the principle of the holy war, promised paradise to his swordsmen, took part in thirty campaigns and directed ten battles. But Jesus, in whom the Kingdom of God found its highest and purest embodiment, not only directed no battles but offered Himself, on the contrary, to death without even allowing Himself to be defended by the sword; not to condemn the use of the sword by the temporal authorities, as St. Paul clearly saw, but to manifest to all eyes that his Kingdom was not of this world: "If my kingdom were of this world, my servants would certainly fight that I should not be delivered to the Jews: but now my kingdom is not from hence" (John xviii. 36).[768]


We may now pass on to the other great divisions of the jurisdictional power. In this Chapter I shall discuss two of these: first the accidental division taken from the quality of the assistance promised by God to the jurisdictional intervention; second, the material division, taken from the nature of the things prescribed by the jurisdictional authority.

Although the great divisions of the jurisdictional power are thus made from different standpoints, they nevertheless partly overlap on account of the matters they apply to. Hence it will not be possible to keep completely clear of repetitions.

1. The Accidental Division: The Degrees Of Jurisdictional Assistance

Without prejudice to more direct and more immediate distinctions, the power of jurisdiction is divisible from an external, accidental but not unimportant standpoint, by grouping the jurisdictional interventions according to the nature of the divine aid, the degree of divine assistance, on which they can count. The results of this study may help us later on to characterize the various speculative and practical pronouncements of the Church.

1. Human Hesitation And Divine Assistance

In assisting the depositaries of the power of jurisdiction, God does not seek to dispense them from effort, reflection or hesitation. He sends them like labourers into the harvest, allowing them to make all kinds of experiments, fortunate or otherwise, to be stored up in the memory of the Church and continually to enrich it with the passing of the centuries. It may seem at times that He leaves her to be the sport of the winds, like the little boat on the Lake of Tiberias, but in reality He never ceases to watch over her, and it is His omnipotence that finally determines her line of movement through history. To adopt another comparison, just as the grace of predestination, without destroying man's liberty or sparing him trials, brings him infallibly to the goal of salvation, so the grace of divine assistance, without destroying the liberty of the jurisdictional power or freeing it from the obligation of enquiry, consultation, reflection and prayer, nevertheless directs its steps infallibly to the great ends that God has assigned it.

2. The Jurisdictional Power's Three Tasks, Corresponding To Different Kinds Of Divine Assistance

What are these great ends assigned to the Church, the great immediate tasks which she must carry out in this world? And in the case of each one of these tasks, what is the area left to the hesitation of human effort and what the area protected by the divine infallibility?

We may recognize three distinct tasks for the jurisdictional power, all of them necessary, but not all on the same level. They are mutually ordered among themselves. In the first, the divine assistance will appear in its preeminent form; in the second and the third, which are not immediately divine, the assistance of the Holy Spirit will leave an increasing-margin to human initiative and take on a form more and more concealed—without ever leaving them wholly under the laws which rule human behaviour.

3. The "Proposition" Of The Revelation: "Absolute Assistance"

The first and highest task of the jurisdictional power is, conjointly with the sacramental power, to manifest the very sources of evangelical grace and truth to the world. The jurisdictional power has to preserve the burden of the divine revelation intact among men, and authoritatively to make clear its contents as the passage of time may require. The least inexactitude here would be a catastrophe. For it is the divine revelation as proposed by the Church that is the object of our theological faith, that is to say of our supernatural, absolute, final and irrevocable assent. It must therefore be defined in a strictly infallible and irrevocable manner. That is not possible without the help of the highest existing form of the divine assistance. It does not suppress human effort, but it divinely consecrates it; some what as the miracle at Cana consecrated the efforts of the servants who had filled the urns with water. The divine assistance is here infallible in the proper sense and in an absolute manner. By "infallible assistance in the proper sense" we understand that which divinely guarantees each one of the decisions taken by the jurisdictional power (the assistance would be infallible only in an improper sense, would in fact be fallible, if it guaranteed the exercise of the jurisdictional power only as a whole and in a general way). And by "absolute infallible assistance" we understand that which divinely guarantees as irreformable the speculative and practical pronouncements of the jurisdictional power. It is on this first form of assistance that the primary message of the Church depends. It comprises all those truths that the Church has defined, whether expressly as revealed or simply as infallible; and also dogmatic facts.

4. "Protection" Of The Revelation And The Two Forms Of "Prudential Assistance"

The second task of the jurisdictional power is still, though less divine, one of the highest dignity. It consists in taking all the measures which, on the one hand, will give Christians secure access to the divine sources of grace and truth, and, on the other, will help to bring the living waters down into their daily lives. To feed Christ's sheep is not simply to have authority to open the divine pastures for them; it is also to have authority to ward off the dangers that threaten them, and direct their steps, that is to say their interior and exterior actions, towards these pastures. There we have a vast field of measures taken by the canonical power in matters both speculative and practical, and constituting what I have called its secondary message. Here the question is no longer to determine whether such and such a thing is, or is not, revealed, irrevocably defined, of divine institution. It is to determine whether this thing is adapted to lead minds, hearts and lives nearer to or farther away from what is revealed, irrevocably defined, of divine institution. Evidently we are in the domain of prudential decisions. The assistance needed now will not have to be "absolute", as in the preceding case. A relative one will suffice, guaranteeing the prudence of the measures decreed by the canonical power.

The more important, universal, permanent and urgent are the decrees of the canonical power, the more they will engage the wisdom and holiness of the Church. The more particular, circumstantial and temporary they are, the more they will depend on the prudence of her ministers, and the less they will involve the Church herself. Hence the distribution, commonly made by theologians, of the decisions of the canonical power into two major and clearly recognizable categories—between which room can doubtless be found for measures whose nature is not easily determinable. The first category comprises the universal decisions, such as the great speculative and practical teachings of the canonical powers, the laws of the Church, the permanent provisions of her Canon Law; and the second category comprises particular decisions, such as legislative applications and concrete and detailed measures. Correlatively to these two species of canonical decision we must recognize two species of relative or prudential assistance:

a. First, a relative or prudential assistance which will be, like the absolute assistance, infallible in the proper sense, since it will divinely guarantee the prudence of each particular canonical decision of general interest.

b. Second, a relative and prudential assistance which will be, properly speaking, fallible, because it will not guarantee the prudence of each particular canonical decision, of each concrete legislative application. And yet this assistance could still be called infallible, though now in an improper sense, since the particular decrees of the canonical power particularize the great teachings and laws of the Church, so that the prudence of their general orientation will be thereby guaranteed; and whatever ignorances, errors and faults may be found in this domain—and they are inevitable—we shall nevertheless be able to hold these decrees to be beneficial on the whole, and in most cases. We may think here of the multitudinous pronouncements made from time to time by provincial councils or by bishops, with a view to the proper regulation of the lives of clergy and laity.

5. A Text Of St. Thomas

Up to this point we have recognized three kinds of assistance: (1) absolute infallible assistance, guaranteeing the irreformable truth of each of the decisions of the declaratory power; (2) infallible prudential assistance, guaranteeing the prudence of each of the universal decisions of the canonical power; and (3) fallible prudential assistance (infallible only in an improper sense), guaranteeing the beneficence of the particular decisions of the canonical power, but only as a whole. I think that this division does not differ from that set up by St. Thomas in the sixteenth article of Quodlibet IX. Speaking of the way on which divine providence assists the jurisdictional power, he first distinguishes decisions on points of divine faith, in which the judgment of the universal Church, that is, of the declaratory power, cannot go astray: "Certum est quod judicium Ecclesiae universalis errare in his quae ad fidem pertinent, impossibile est. "There we have the absolute and infallible assistance. Next he distinguishes decisions bearing on particular facts, concerned for example with ecclesiastical goods, legal proceedings and so forth, in which the judgment of the Church, that is, of the canonical power, can be led astray by false testimonies: "In aliis vero sententiis quae ad particularia facta pertinent, ut cum agitur de possessionibus, vel de criminibus, vel de hujusmodi, possibile est judicium Ecclesiae errare propter falsos testes." There we have the domain of fallible prudential assistance. Finally St. Thomas recognizes a third type of decision, standing between the definitions of the faith and particular decisions, and in which, as we may believe, the Church cannot err even in the exercise of her canonical power: "Pie credendum est quod nec etiam in his judicium Ecclesiae errare possit." The Church, he says, answering difficulties raised about these intermediate decisions, is here led by the instinct of the Holy Spirit who searches all things, even the deep things of God, and divine providence sees to it that she is not here misled by the fallible testimonies of men. St. Thomas speaks here of the canonization of saints which seemed in those days to be a matter of human or purely ecclesiastical faith, as is today the beatification of a servant of God (it was only later, following the detailed study of dogmatic facts, provoked by the Jansenist quarrels, that theologians came to regard the canonization of saints as matters of irrevocable definition). Thus then, according to St. Thomas, there is a category of decisions to be held as infallible under pain of sin against piety and due respect for the Church, but not directly under pain of sin against the faith. There we have the domain of infallible prudential assistance.

6. The "Empirical Existence" And "Biological Assistance" Of The Church

A third task, to which corresponds a last type of assistance, also prudential, although less strict than the foregoing, devolves on the jurisdictional power. Its first task is to set out the divine revelation infallibly. Its second is to bring the Christian people into touch with this revelation. Its third will be to assure the temporal conditions of the Church's daily existence in the midst of the world of politics and culture. If such conditions were wholly absent the sacramental and jurisdictional powers could no longer be exercised, nor could the faith be propagated; and that would be the end of Christianity. This, as we know, is impossible. The powers of evil will not prevail against the Church. The conditions needed for the exercise of the sacramental and jurisdictional powers and for the manifestation of the faith, in a word for the biological and empirical existence of the Church, will always be present, if not in a particular region still unconverted or swept by persecution, at least in other parts of the world. In this sense an infallible assistance is promised the Church. I shall call it "biological assistance". It will be very supple, as might be expected. Here there is no question of defining, or even protecting, a revealed deposit; but only of assuring the temporal conditions of the Church's spiritual life. Many and various expedients will be possible at all times. Any exact estimate of their value would require the widest knowledge, not only of the present, but of the whole course of history in so far as it affects the Kingdom of God. One would have to divine the whole mystery of the growth of things in time; even to know how the divine omnipotence makes use of our errors, our sins, and every other kind of evil. All that is quite beyond us, and here the prudence of the canonical power will always be uncertain. "Che sara domani?. . . Non sappiamo," said Pius XI, speaking of the results of the Lateran Treaty. The divine assistance promised the Church is here infallible only to assure her physical existence in the world; it spares her neither experiment nor hesitation, nor even governmental mistakes; these last it may even turn to good account. We can thus understand the freedom with which historians like Pastor, who has not lacked pontifical approbation, are able to pass judgment retrospectively on the fortunate or unfortunate character of the political action of the Popes.

7. The Characters Of The Divine Assistance: A. Extrinsic, B. Analogical, C. Positive

a. "If we look only at the persons of those who govern the Church" says St. Thomas (Quodlibet IX, a. 16), "we should say that they could err in their decisions, but if we consider the divine providence which, according to His promise, rules the Church through the Holy Spirit", we must judge otherwise. From this we see that the assistance that sustains the Church in the world does not flow from any permanent or habitual principle inherent in the Church. It is due to extrinsic providential aid, to a divine influx. However, it is more than a mere inerrancy of fact; it is an inerrancy of right, for the Church can, in all circumstances, count on God's special help.

b. It is easy to distinguish assistance from other exceptional forms of divine aid, for example from the prophetic graces granted to the Apostles, such as revelation or inspiration whether oral or scriptural. By revelation the Holy Spirit made the mysteries of the new faith known to the Apostles. By inspiration the Holy Spirit led the Apostles to express it infallibly whether viva voce (hence Tradition) or in writing (hence the Scriptures). By assistance the Holy Spirit does not manifest any new mysteries of faith for the Church to hand on to the world; He sustains her supernaturally in the fulfilment of her mission.

When revelation, inspiration and assistance are thus compared and opposed we are thinking as a general rule of the absolute and infallible assistance which enables the Church to preserve the revealed deposit without error, to define its meaning irrevocably, and to explain its content.[769] We are therefore considering assistance in its highest form. However, the jurisdictional power has other secondary tasks; and it is divinely assisted in the fulfilment of each. The consequence is that the notion of divine assistance must be regarded as analogical. The absolute and infallible assistance will be its highest form, the highest analogue. Then comes infallible prudential assistance, and then fallible prudential assistance. Finally we have biological assistance, the lowest analogue of all.

c. It would be an error to think that the divine assistance amounts to no more than a negative aid. The best theologians hold that divine providence sustains the Church rather by positive graces of light and strength than by negative interventions confined to bringing about the failure of ill-conceived measures and reducing their authors to impotence.[770] "The privilege of inerrancy or of infallibility guaranteed to the magisterium of the Church" writes Pere Clerissac, "cannot then be understood in a purely negative and passive sense which would represent God as only intervening just in time to prevent a mishap. The magisterium of the Church proceeds by positive judgments which imply a profound intelligence, an unlimited discernment. Taken simply in themselves, the formulae in which the Church sets the diamond of dogma are wonderful works. How much more precious is the judgment which they contain! This is the lofty form of prophecy which makes the Church a contemplative of the highest order."[771] The illuminations of the Holy Spirit may be called on to sustain the jurisdictional power even in its lesser tasks. For example, the summoning of Christian princes to a Crusade would appear to be an occasion for simple biological assistance. And yet we know that St. Pius V was supernaturally made aware of the victory of Lepanto long in advance.[772]

8. Definition Of Divine Assistance

I shall define the divine assistance solely by its formal characteristics and say that it is an exterior aid, a present providential influx, sustaining the jurisdictional power in its triple mission (1) to preserve and expound the revealed deposit, (2) to defend it by prudential measures (3) to assure the conditions of its biological existence. If one had to enumerate the wealth of resources it brings into play it would be necessary to accord the highest rank to the living faith of the Church and the contemplative gifts of knowledge and of wisdom which dwell in her in a constant and permanent manner and make her, in this world, the abode in which God hides Himself among men.



The material division of the jurisdictional power does not set out to make two really distinct powers of it, one subordinate to the other. It is simply a division of convenience, and can be effected in two ways.

We can distinguish between pronouncements of the doctrinal order, whether speculative or practical, whether concerning "faith" or "morals"; and pronouncements of the disciplinary order, relating to acts chiefly exterior. Hence the division into magisterial and disciplinary power.

Again, we can distinguish between pronouncements of the speculative order, and those of the practical or moral order, comprising both general principles and disciplinary applications. Hence the division into power to announce speculative truth, and power to announce practical truth.

If we adopt this second mode of division it will be possible to detail, complete, and illustrate what has been said of the jurisdictional power.

1. The Power To Announce Speculative Truth

I shall first discuss truths guaranteed absolutely (those defined by the declaratory power), and then truths guaranteed prudentially (and taught by the canonical power).

A. Truths Guaranteed Absolutely

Under this heading we must include—while insisting on their basic homogeneity [773]—the three first degrees of Catholic doctrine, that is to say: a. the explicit revelation as delivered to the Apostles; b. dogma, or truths defined as revealed; c. truths defined in an absolute or irrevocable manner, though not defined as revealed.

1. The Explicit Revelation

"I have called you friends; because all things whatsoever I have heard of my Father, I have made known to you. . . When the Spirit of truth is come, he will teach you all truth..." (John xv. 15; xvi. 13). The extra-ordinary light bestowed on the Apostles as founders of the Church enabled them to embrace, in the simplicity of a unique glance and in an eminent manner, the whole revelation of the New Law. What they have handed down to us, the explicitly revealed deposit, contains, either explicitly or implicitly, all the truths of the Christian faith. Henceforth we are not to expect any further revelation of the Spirit inaugurating some new age of the world, or any sort of advance on Christianity. The New Testament, the revealed deposit as it has come to us from the Apostles orally (Tradition) or in writing (Scripture), is final; it will be valid till the end of the world. The Church herself has no authority to modify it. Her mission is simply to keep it intact: "O Timothy, keep that which is committed to thy trust avoiding the profane novelties of words and oppositions of knowledge falsely so called. . . Hold the form of sound words which thou hast heard of me, in faith and in the love which is in Christ Jesus; keep the good thing committed to thy trust by the Holy Ghost who dwelleth in us" (1 Tim. vi. 20; 2 Tim. i. 13). Similarly, at the end of the Apocalypse it is written: "If any man shall add to these things, God shall add unto him the plagues written in this book."[774] That is why Pius X condemned the modernist error affirming that revelation, the object of Catholic faith, was not closed at the death of the last Apostle.[775] The first degree of Catholic doctrine comprises therefore the revealed truths, prior to all elaboration and in the very state in which they were handed on by the Apostles whether orally (Tradition) or in writing (Scripture). This first degree is the starting-point of all dogmatic progress.

2. Dogmas, Or Truths Defined As Revealed

But if the revealed deposit cannot increase through new revelations, its content at least may be developed indefinitely. Indeed, like every other living thing, its identity is only saved by development.[776] The Church therefore has a mission to develop and make explicit the deposit entrusted to her, she is like the perfect scribe whom Jesus compares to a householder bringing out of his treasure new things and old (Matt. xiii. 52). And if to preserve a divine deposit and unerringly unfold it needs divine assistance, Jesus will not fail to provide it: "Behold I am with you all days, even to the consummation of the world. "All this is simply scriptural, and the Vatican Council sums it up when marking the role of the dogmatic magisterium of the Church: "The doctrine of faith which God has revealed has been committed as a divine deposit to the Spouse of Christ to be faithfully kept and infallibly declared", to be "reverently guarded and faithfully expounded" .[777]

The Church has thus authority and assistance to guard the revealed deposit. The task is superhuman. For it has to be preserved not by hiding it under a vessel but in the act of proclaiming it from the roof tops, and what has to be kept intact and free from alteration is not merely the outward verbal expression but the inward supernatural meaning. The Church is a living teacher repeating the Gospel message to successive generations, either using the very same inspired words (e. g. "the Word was made flesh") or equivalent words (e. g. "Jesus is true God and true man").

But the Church would be incapable of preserving the content of the divine revelation like a thing alive, not fixed and immobilized, if she had not power to declare, to manifest, to define its meaning, so as to be able to answer the new questions that are bound to crop up continually as time goes on. Hence a development of the revealed deposit, a dogmatic progress, effected either by way of speculative unfolding, or by way of concrete application to contingent facts.

First, by way of unfolding. If, for example, it is explicitly revealed that Jesus is true God and true Man, then it is already revealed, but this time implicitly, that in Jesus there are two intellects, one divine and one human, and two wills, one divine and one human. If it is revealed that Christ declared that what He offered under the appearance of bread was His Body, then it is already revealed, but implicitly, that in that upper room there took place an extraordinary change of one substance into another, a trans-substantiation. The Church, divinely assisted, can therefore define as revealed by the Gospel itself, that in Jesus are two intelligences and two wills; that the real presence of Christ in the Eucharist presupposes transubstantiation. And this she has done; in the first case at the third Council substantiation. And this she has done; in the first case at the third Council of Constantinople, and in the second at the Council of Trent. The progress of the revealed deposit is here effected by simple unfolding, by passing from a truth revealed implicitly and "in itself", to the same truth revealed explicitly and "for us".

The development of the revealed deposit may be effected once more by its application to contingent realities. For if a universal proposition is explicitly revealed, then all the particular propositions that it contains will be thereby implicitly revealed. For example, it is explicitly revealed that the Church is infallible, in other words that every Council that is truly oecumenical, that is, truly representative of the Church, is infallible; and thereby it is revealed in advance that the Councils of Nicaea, Trent, the Vatican, etc., if oecumenical, are infallible. It is revealed explicitly that the Church has sufficient light to teach the evangelical doctrine, in other words to discern what is conformable or contrary to the evangelical doctrine; and thereby it is revealed in advance that the Canon of the Mass, if solemnly guaranteed by the Church, is free from error. It is explicitly revealed that Peter is to feed the sheep of Christ till the end of the world, in other words that the authentic successor of Peter has supreme jurisdiction over the Christian people; and thereby it is revealed in advance that Pius XI, if an authentic successor of Peter, has supreme jurisdiction over the Christian people. Once the condition laid down in these three examples is verified—not in a fallible manner as would be the result of a merely human enquiry, but infallibly as in the case of a declaration (implicit or explicit) of the Church divinely assisted to recognize the points that involve her whole destiny—the revealed universal proposition will be applied to a particular case, and the judgments of fact we have mentioned will appear, with absolute certainty, as implicitly revealed. They will become credible with divine faith; they will eminently deserve the name of dogmatic facts;[778] they can be solemnly defined as such; as it is defined for example that the Canon of the Mass is free from error.[779]

It falls therefore within the competence of the Church firstly to propose, as object of divine faith, the truths explicitly revealed in the oral or written deposit, as handed down to us by the Apostles and Evangelists (revealed deposit). She is competent secondly to propose, as object of divine faith, truths which are included in the foregoing, but which, although from the outset revealed implicitly and "in themselves", were not yet revealed explicitly and "for us" (dogmatic definitions). That is not all: she is competent, thirdly, to propose certain propositions to the faithful the truth of which she absolutely guarantees, but without expressly putting them forward as revealed or as objects of divine faith (infallible irrevocable definitions, but not put forward as dogmatic).

3. Truths Defined Irrevocably, But Not As Revealed

a. Accord of Theologians

These last pronouncements bear either on doctrines which are in logically necessary connection with a truth of faith, or on facts in morally necessary connection with the primary end of the Church, which is to preserve and explain the revealed deposit;[780] doctrines and facts so closely related to the revealed deposit that their denial would at once imperil the deposit itself. Thus among these irrevocable pronouncements are to be included certain condemnations of doctrinal propositions which, though not heretical or directly contrary to the faith, are erroneous, bordering on heresy, and indirectly against the faith. Let us consider as examples picked out at haphazard (and on my own responsibility, since they are not expressly said to represent irrevocable decisions), the following condemned propositions: "The prince or the bishop loses his power as soon as he falls into sin" (Wycliff, Hus); "Man, after the fall, was at first abandoned to his own human resources so that he might learn to desire supernatural aid" (Synod of Pistoia); "Indulgences liberate only from the canonical penance imposed by the Church, not from the temporal punishment of sin imposed by divine justice" (Synod of Pistoia). A theologian would have no difficulty in showing that such errors would tend to the destruction of the revealed deposit: the first misconceives the nature of the spiritual jurisdiction of the Church and of the temporal jurisdiction of society; the second the relations between nature and grace; and the third the promise: "Whatsoever you shall loose on earth shall be loosed in heaven."

Similarly, certain pronouncements concerning contingent facts can be infallibly and irrevocably defined by the Church. She has infallibly declared that the five condemned propositions of Jansenius really figure in his book in an heretical sense; in the canonization of a saint she pronounces infallibly on the holiness of a human life; in giving final approval to a religious order she declares that the new Rule, in virtue of its general tenor—not merely on account of the three vows—is calculated to lead souls to perfection; she can declare infallibly that such and such a treaty is unjust or that a given contract is usurious or simoniacal. And indeed, if the whole Church could be deceived in appreciating how the burden of a book—Jansenius', for instancestands to that of the Gospel, she could no longer teach men infallibly the doctrine of Christ;[781] if she could go astray in appreciating a life—St. Teresa's for instance—or a monastic rule, or a treaty or a contract, as related to the Gospel teachings, she would no longer be an infallible guide to sanctity, which is nevertheless the ideal of Christian life.

Theologians are unanimous in recognizing the infallibility of the Church in the above-mentioned matters. Many make it itself a point of faith. At the Vatican Council a canon had even been prepared with a view to the solemn definition as an article of faith of the doctrine that the infallibility of the Church is not "restricted simply to what is contained in the divine revelation", but "extends also to other truths necessarily required to ensure the integrity of the revealed deposit".[782]

b. Two Different Theological Explanations

Here however the differences begin. Do these truths, absolutely defined because "necessarily required "for the preservation of the revealed deposit, form a part of that revealed deposit, or are they outside it? They express, as we have said, doctrine that is in logically necessary connection with a truth of the faith, and facts in morally necessary connection with the primary ends of the Church. How are we to understand this necessary connection? The essential properties of a circle are involved in its definition; they are not really but only conceptually distinct from it, and you cannot destroy the first without destroying the second. That is a case of intrinsic or metaphysical connection. But the physical properties of a body, an actual radiation for example, while bound up with the nature of the body, are really distinct from the body and could even be separated from it by a miracle. That is extrinsic or physical connection. Under which head fall those truths that are irrevocably defined by the Church—under intrinsic or extrinsic connection?

I think that all truths defined as irreformable bear upon what is implicitly but really revealed. They are truly—and this whether they announce a doctrine or a fact—an integrant part of the primitive deposit, not simply an adjunct, something annexed to it.[783] They were included in it from the outset as the properties of a circle are included in its definition, but this inclusion remained hidden or at least was not infallibly made manifest.[784] In teaching them as absolutely true the Church, of course, does not bring about their inclusion in the deposit; she merely uses her declaratory power to indicate infallibly that they are there. Hence truths of this third category will become objects of divine faith. Thus then we regard these truths as emanating from the declaratory power and as objects of divine faith. It is not yet of divine faith that they are of divine faith. This is simply the conviction of certain theologians, here followed. But this is not to suggest that they are of divine faith for some of these and not for the others. Resuming a distinction used long ago by John of St. Thomas [785] to get over a like difficulty, I shall maintain as to truths of the third degree, that although all theologians do not receive them as of divine faith in theory and reflexively ("Speculative et in actu signato"), all of them nevertheless, even when they express themselves on this point in a manner that seems to us defective, receive them as of divine faith in fact and spontaneously ("practice et in actu exercito").

c. The Consequence of this Divergence of Opinion

However well founded may be the opinion here followed, it does not infallibly close the controversy. Some theologians may very well continue to think that pronouncements of the third degree are not an integrant part of the primitive deposit, that they are simply annexed to it from without, and they are not within the field of revelation. In that case they could not possibly fall under the declaratory power. Could they emanate from the ordinary canonical power, whose decisions are guaranteed only prudentially? No; they would have to be attributed to a privileged canonical power, enjoying an absolutely infallible assistance. Thus they would form a special category of their own. For, on the one hand, they would be irrevocably defined, like the truths of divine faith; and on the other, they would have to be believed on the created authority of the (Church, and not, as are truths of divine faith, on the uncreated authority of God. Therefore, between the intellectual assent, based on the authority of God with its object determined irrevocably (divine faith), and the intellectual assent based on the canonical authority of the Church with its object determined prudentially (moral obedience, religious assent, ecclesiastical faith—"assensus religiosus "as Franzelin well puts it) we should have to admit the existence of an intermediate intellectual assent, based on the canonical authority of the Church, with its object nevertheless determined irrevocably. It was in the sixteenth century that this intermediate assent began to come into vogue—along with the intermediate jurisdictional power it presupposes—it was in the seventeenth century that it was given the name of "ecclesiastical faith" (but with a very different meaning from that in which we take it), and it was in the nineteenth that its idea was generalized.[786]

4. In Proposing These Three Classes Of Truths The Authority Of The Church Only Conditions Faith And Its Object; It Is Not Its Basis

In rejecting ecclesiastical faith thus understood, I maintain that truths of the three first degrees are of divine faith. To believe with divine faith is unreservedly to submit one's mind to Him who said "I am the Truth"; it is to accept what He says as indubitably true however difficult it may seem to us. Now, He has sent the Church into the world to define the precise meaning of what He would have us believe. The infinite Truth, claiming the assent of our intelligence, is thus the foundation of our faith; and the Church, sent to teach the nations and to preserve without error the meaning of the truths to be believed, is the condition of our faith. As regards the truths of these three first categories we can see exactly in what consists the jurisdictional power of the Church: it does not provide the basis for, but conditions, the infallible assent of faith. And nevertheless this is the highest function given it to attain; here it enters into the world of infallibility and there is no longer anything in its own initiative which is not absorbed into the divine assistance; the total responsibility for what is thus taught is assumed by Christ. In dealing with the power of order I have maintained that it is purely instrumental, that it is a pure transmitter, and that its effects are therefore stamped with the likeness not of the instrument, the transmission, but of the holiness of the principal Cause, whose power knows no bounds: it is Christ Himself, true God and true Man, who, through His ministers, baptizes, removes the soul's stains, changes the bread and wine into His Body and Bloodso that the power of order, in the line of its efficacy, is by nature infallible, and no question of a special assistance needed to guarantee it even so much as arises. It is otherwise, as we have noted, with the power of jurisdiction, which proposes things to be believed and done, not in the manner of a pure instrument, but in that of a true second cause enjoying a free initiative; so that the question of divine assistance and of its limits does in fact arise. When this assistance is absolutely infallible, as in the case of truths belonging to the three first categories, the Church's power of jurisdiction is raised, so to speak, to the level of the power of order; all that up to then was human initiative is now directly ratified, authenticated and consecrated by God, reabsorbed in a way into the divine light. And just as it is the virtue of Christ, without attenuation or admixture, which, through the seven sacraments, sanctifies the world; so it is the light of Christ, without attenuation or admixture, which, through the magisterium, when infallibly assisted, enlightens the world. It remains that the sacramental power intervenes always as an instrument, as an intermediate suppositum, to communicate grace and the infused virtues; whereas the absolutely infallible magisterium, although it acts as a true second cause, intervenes only as a pure condition so as to present the first Truth, its formal object, to the theological virtue of faith, without any intermediate suppositum.

B. The Secondary Speculative Message: Truths Guaranteed Prudentially

Two conditions are required in order that a truth, whether representing a doctrine or a fact, shall be an object of divine faith. First, it must be really included in the revealed deposit, and in addition to this it must be proposed absolutely and irreformably by the Church. But there is a vast field of truths lacking the second or even the first of these conditions, and yet so closely connected with the truths of the faith that human thought cannot refuse them without the more or less immediate and more or less grave danger of misappreciating the truths of the faith itself. There then is a new class of truths. They are not of divine faith. They represent the fourth degree of Catholic doctrine.

1. These Truths Of Two Kinds: Included Or Annexed

1. The first are included in the revealed deposit, but have not yet been irreformably defined.

Examples may be found in any and every theological conclusion—if, that is to say, the content of a genuine theological conclusion is to be regarded as homogeneous and identical "quoad se" with the revealed datum, and distinct from it only conceptually, "quoad nos".[787] In the measure in which they are taught by the best and most enlightened servants of the Church, or received by the Christian sense of the faithful, these theological conclusions are clothed with a prudential authority which, without ever becoming equivalent to an irreformable definition, confirms the correctness of the deductive process that gave them birth, brings them to the notice of our filial piety, and makes them still more worthy of our acceptance. Occasionally the Roman Congregations may intervene to declare in some more official way the imprudence of rejecting some one or other of them. Thus a decree of the Holy Office of the 5th June 1918, condemned as unsafe, and therefore as imprudent, the doctrine that hesitates to recognize that Christ, in the course of His mortal life, had all the knowledge of the blessed in His soul, was ignorant of nothing, knew from the beginning in the Word all things past, present and future, and possessed a knowledge that was not limited but universal.[788] In pronouncing on the prudence or imprudence of teaching a doctrine, in view of the need for preserving the revealed deposit—clearly a matter of practical or prudential truth—the jurisdictional power does not yet intend to define or condemn irrevocably the speculative content of this doctrine; but it is also clear that it is not here guided by considerations of mere expediency, that it intends to approve as prudent what is really true and conformable to the revealed deposit, and to reprove as imprudent what is really false and contrary to the deposit; and, in a word, it does not intend to confine itself to a purely exterior and disciplinary measure, but to pass a magisterial judgment. Hence the genuinely speculative and intrinsic value of these decrees, although they are not irreformable.

Turning from the order of doctrine to that of facts, we may cite as an example of those truths which, though not yet defined, may one day be so, the judgment passed on a servant of God in the process of his beatification. It is not a definitive judgment on his sanctity; it amounts directly to no more than a permission to pay him a cultus. When the Church grants this practical permission, she is, in the view of the best theologians, infallible, "errare practice non potest". This means that at the moment things appear in such a light that she certainly does not sin against prudence. That the person in question is in heaven however, and definitively worthy of cultus is, no doubt, already certain, but only with a prudential and reformable certitude, not yet absolutely and irrevocably.[789] This certitude is much greater than that which an historian obtains by purely scientific research.

2. Some truths belonging to this fourth category are not even included in the revealed deposit, but are connected with it more or less loosely.

Thus, in the doctrinal order, "the philosophy of St. Thomas is not a dogma; the Church can define as a truth de fide only what is contained at least implicitly, in the divine deposit of revelation. Any particular truth professed by the Thomist philosophy may very well be so defined one day (if the Church considers that it was contained in the deposit of faith, and cases have in fact already arisen)—but never the whole philosophy, the whole corpus of Thomist doctrine". And yet the Church "orders her masters to teach the philosophy of St. Thomas; by that very fact she recommends the faithful to adhere to it, she throws every possible light on that philosophy, makes use of every kind of signal, cries out: there you will find the running waters ! She exercises no compulsion, forces nobody to go".[790] Such a recommendation sets up a presumption in favour of the truth of the Thomist philosophy, which is, for the faithful, of great weight.

In the order of facts numerous assertions concerning the authenticity of miracles, of private revelations, of apparitions, or of the relics of canonized saints, can be put into this fourth category.[791]

2. The Existence Of A Prudential Authority

That the doctrinal magisterium, over and above its primary mission, which is to define certain truths with absolute authority and irrevocably, has a secondary mission, which is to teach other truths with a prudential authority and not irrevocably, is a point of doctrine that is certain.

In the treatise De Locis Theologicis, theologians unanimously distinguish on the one hand those organs by which the magisterium can, when it acts "suprema intensione" (Franzelin's term), speak with absolute authority and irrevocably—the Sovereign Pontiff teaching alone (solemn magisterium not communicable to the Roman Congregations), the Sovereign Pontiff teaching conjointly with the bishops assembled in General Council (solemn magisterium), the Sovereign Pontiff teaching conjointly with the bishops dispersed through the world (ordinary magisterium)—and, on the other hand, the organs by which the magisterium can speak only with a prudential authority and in a non-definitive way—and here we have either the Roman Congregations, or the Fathers, Doctors and theologians in the measure in which they have the confidence of the Church, since it is from her that they have their authority.[792] Hence the division of theological sources or organs that set out the revealed deposit into absolute or decisive on the one hand, and "probable "or claiming our assent on the other.

To come down to detail, the authority of doctrinal decisions put out by the canonical power has been the subject of express declarations. In the apostolic letter Tuas Libenter addressed on the 21st December 1863 to the Archbishop of Munich, Pius IX drew attention to the duty of (Catholic scholars to recognize both the teaching of the pontifical congregations and the common teaching of theologians: "It is not enough for Catholic scholars to accept and venerate the dogmas of the Church, they ought further to submit themselves both to the doctrinal decisions of the pontifical congregations, and to points of doctrine which by common and constant consent are held in the Church to be truths and theological conclusions so certain that the contrary opinions, although they cannot be qualified as heretical, yet deserve some other note of theological censure."[793] As Franzelin remarks, there is question here not of doctrinal censures formulated in an irrevocable judgment of the Church and to be believed as of divine faith,[794] but of common and constant theological truths which all Catholics should gladly receive. The Vatican Council, in its turn, proclaimed at the end of the constitution Dei Filius, the authority of all the decisions of the Holy See: "Since to avoid heretical perversion we must be careful to turn our backs on errors that more or less approximate to it, we draw attention to the duty that lies upon all to observe also the constitutions and decrees by which those nefarious doctrines, not expressly mentioned here, have been proscribed and condemned by the Holy See."[795] The whole of this passage is reproduced in the Code of Canon Law (can. 1324). Here we might cite also the seventh and eighth propositions condemned by the decree Lamentabili of the 3rd July 1907: "The Church, when condemning errors, cannot ask the faithful to give an interior assent to the judgment passed"; "Those who take no notice of condemnations put out by the Sacred Congregation of the Index, or by the other Roman Congregations, are to be held to be guiltless of all fault"[796]; there is also the passage in the Motu Proprio of the 18th November of the same year, in which Pius X declares that "all, without exception, are bound in conscience to obey the doctrinal decisions of the pontifical Biblical Commission, both those already issued and those to be issued, in the same way as they are bound to obey the decrees of the Sacred Congregations approved by the Sovereign Pontiff".[797]

3. Prudential Authority The Basis Of Religious Assent

Thus then, God has not left us without guidance in the immense accumulation of ideas bearing on the speculative life, on private, economic and political morality, on artistic activity, in the spheres into which the full light of revelation has not yet descended and in which nevertheless convictions are formed, syntheses elaborated and decisive choices taken which may either open or obstruct the road to the fullness of the faith. He helps us through His Church to whom He entrusts a new mission, no longer that of irrevocably defining the data of the faith, but that of prudentially marking the truths which point towards the things of faith or the errors that turn men away from it, that of ratifying or rejecting certain suggestions of the theologians and the philosophers and certain beliefs of popular piety.

In this sphere the Church acts no longer in virtue of her declaratory power, as a simple messenger or mandatory for utterances of divine origin. She acts now in virtue of her canonical power, as promulgator of what can fittingly be taught and believed if the minds of the faithful are to be kept from the dangers that threaten their faith. It is this magisterial authority of the canonical power that Franzelin proposes to call an "authority of universal ecclesiastical providence".[798]

In these matters the Church no longer acts merely to condition assent, as in matters of divine faith; she is herself the immediate basis of an assent (the mediate basis being God, who rules the Church) which on this account may be called ecclesiastical obedience, ecclesiastical faith, religious assent, pious assent.[799]

It is our duty to recognize divine authority not only in itself, but also in the teachers it has pleased it to give us. He whom we bow before is, in both cases, God, although the submission is not, in both cases, of the same species. Obedience based immediately on the uncreated Truth is of the theological order; that given to the master appointed us is of the moral order. And this obedience will be so much the better as the magisterium is the higher and the more sacred. If the magisterium be natural, the obedience will be, in itself, natural. If the magisterium is realized analogically and supernaturally, the virtue of docility and obedience will be realized analogically and supernaturally. Consequently, since the magisterium of the canonical power is supernatural, the intellectual and interior obedience due to it in conscience belongs also to the supernatural order. Ecclesiastical faith, thus understood, is a supernatural moral virtue, a supernatural obedience.

4. Two Forms Of Prudential Assistance: Infallible And Fallible

While the declaratory magisterium is assisted in an absolute manner, the simply canonical magisterium is assisted only in a relative or prudential manner. This latter magisterium pronounces directly on the prudential character of a teaching, of a proposition. What it says is that it is prudent to adhere interiorly to such and such a teaching and rash to refuse to do so. And undoubtedly an interior adhesion to a teaching will appear to be prudent only when this teaching seems to be intrinsically true; and there are strong reasons why a teaching which has once seemed to be true to a providentially assisted magisterium should continue to seem true afterwards and always. Nevertheless, the speculative content of this teaching remains reformable. It is guaranteed only in a practical and prudential manner, by way of consequence and indirectly.

How are we to understand the assistance, divine, but relative and prudential, promised to the magisterium when it teaches truths of the fourth degree? Is it infallible, and are we sure that the magisterium will never pronounce without prudence in any one of its teachings? Or will it be, on the contrary, fallible, and can the magisterium sin against prudence in a given case? Either situation can arise.

If it is a question of teachings universally and constantly proposed to the faithful and often recalled by the Church; if, more generally, it is a case of teachings in which the Church intends fully to engage the prudential authority she has to feed Christ's sheep, to determine what is apt to bring minds nearer to or turn them away from the faith, we shall not hesitate to say that the magisterium proposes them in virtue of a practical prudential assistance which is truly and properly infallible, so that we can be sure of the prudence of each of these teachings, and in consequence practically sure of their intrinsic and speculative truth. To adopt a phrase of Franzelin's, if there is as yet no infallible irrevocable truth, "veritas infallibilis", there is nevertheless an infallible assurance, "infallibilis securitas". Such, for example, are the prescriptions recalling that Sacred Scripture should be interpreted in the light of the Fathers and Doctors; the law of the Code ordering professors in seminaries to teach philosophy and theology conformably with the method, doctrine and principles of the Angelic Doctor; the judgment by which a servant of God is declared blessed, etc.[800]

If, on the contrary, there is question of teachings proposed without this universality and this constancy, of solutions of recent problems not yet generalized by the Church, in which she does not intend fully to engage her prudential authority, then we shall say that the magisterium proposes them only in a fallible manner.[801] If there is infallible assistance here, it is infallible only in the improper sense, and that means that the magisterium is assisted, not for each determinate case, singillatim, divisive, but for the generality of cases, in commune, collective. It is certain, for example, that the decisions of the Biblical Commission, taken as a whole, defend the authentic meaning of the Bible and its divine character, with assured prudence.



(1) All theologians agree that the acts of the doctrinal magisterium are divided into two major categories.

The first comprises those acts by which the magisterium intends to pronounce directly and irrevocably on the truth or the falsity of a doctrinal assertion. Then the proposition defined is absolutely true; and the proposition condemned as erroneous, or heretical, is absolutely erroneous or heretical. Such magisterial acts suppose the intervention of an absolute divine assistance.

The second category comprises acts by which the magisterium intends to pronounce directly only on the safety and the prudence, or on the danger and imprudence, of such and such a doctrine as professed by a believer. The meaning of the magisterial intervention is now this: In the given circumstances, in the present state of science, it is prudent and safe to regard such and such a proposition as true, comformable to Holy Scripture, and so forth. Or, it is prudent and safe to regard this proposition as rash, erroneous, contrary to Holy Scripture and so forth. Such magisterial acts suppose the intervention of a divine assistance solely relative or prudential (cf. L. Choupin, S. J., Valeur des decisions doctrinales et disciplinaires du saint siege, Paris 1913, p. 84).

But, it must be added, this category of prudential acts must itself be subdivided:

Either, the magisterium intends to engage its authority fully, for example in proposing the great teachings approved in the Church in a universal and constant manner; it will speak, as Franzelin says, with "infallible assurance". It will teach, without ever sinning against prudence, that it is safe and prudent to regard such a proposition as true, in conformity with Scripture, and such another as false, or contrary to Scripture. In this it will be supported by an infallible prudential assistance.

Or, the magisterium will not intend fully to engage its authority, for example when it proposes teachings that are not approved in the Church in a manner so universal and so constant. It will remain fallible, and will be infallible only in the improper sense, that is to say that it will teach, without sinning against prudence in the majority of cases, that it is safe and prudent to regard such and such a proposition as true and in conformity with Scripture, or as false and contrary to Scripture; but it can sin against prudence, and occasionally it will do so, for it is now supported only by a fallible prudential assistance.

So there are three sorts of teachings: the first, infallibly guaranteeing the absolute and irreformable truth of a doctrinal proposition; the second, infallibly guaranteeing the safety and prudence of a doctrinal proposition; the third, fallibly guaranteeing the safety and prudence of a doctrinal proposition. To these three kinds of teachings correspond the three species of divine assistance promised to the magisterium: absolute assistance, infallible prudential assistance, and fallible prudential assistance.

(2) If it is to be held to be incompatible with the infallibility of the Roman Pontiff as solemnly defined at the Vatican Council, the condemnation of Galileo will have to be presented as an act of the declaratory power, as a sentence pronounced directly by the Pope in an absolute and irreformable manner.

In point of fact it came only from the canonical and prudential power. Was it even fully engaged? If so, we should be bound to prove that the Roman Congregations then committed no imprudence, and that they were right in denying, not indeed the truth but the opportuneness of the heliocentric thesis. I shall not attempt to prove this. I agree, on the contrary, that the condemnation of Galileo was imprudent.

It belonged therefore to the class of fallible prudential decrees, decrees that do not fully engage the authority of the magisterium. This much was clear from the outset. For the decrees of the Roman Congregations can be approved by the Pope in two ways. First, in the common way, in forma communi: they are then undoubtedly acts of the Holy See, of which the Congregations are an organ, but emanating directly from the Congregations and issued in their name. Secondly, in a special manner, in forma specifica, when the Pope expressly adopts these decrees and issues them in his own name, using for example the following formulas: "By our own authority, of our certain knowledge, in the plenitude of our apostolic power. "These last decrees are the only ones in which any question of prudential infallibility arises (absolute infallibility cannot come in question save when the Pope manifests his will to settle a question by definitive irrevocable sentence). Now, the decrees against Galileo, issued in 1616 by the Congregation of the Index, and in 1633 by the Congregation of the Inquisition, were approved only in a general way, in forma communi. The assistance to which they can lay claim was therefore only fallible (cf. L. Choupin, op. cit., pp. 70, 79, 166, 173).

(3) Let us briefly recall the facts. The Congregation of the Index prepared, in February 1616, a decree declaring the heliocentric thesis to be formally heretical. Then on the 25th February, a disciplinary measure was taken against Galileo: he was summoned to Bellarmine's apartment and notified in the name of the Pope and the Congregation of the Inquisition, that since his astronomical doctrine appeared to be formally heretical, he was not to maintain it and treat of it in any way, either viva voce or in writing. Galileo submitted. On the 5th March 1616, the decree prepared by the Congregation of the Index against the heliocentric thesis was promulgated, and three works in which this thesis was maintained were condemned; with no mention however of that of Galileo. Finally, on the 22nd June 1633, the Congregation of the Inquisition or Holy Office, having first detailed the proceedings of 1616, formulated a sentence under which Galileo "vehemently suspected of heresy for having held and believed the doctrine, which is false and contrary to Holy Scripture, that the sun is the centre of the world", and "for having held and believed that a doctrine which has been declared and defined as contrary to the Holy Scriptures can still be held and defended as probable", incurs all the censures provided by the law against such delinquents. He is absolved from these penalties provided that he detests and denounces "the aforesaid errors and heresies". Nevertheless, that his previous disobedience might not go unpunished, Galileo was condemned to certain penalties.

The decree of the 5th March 1616 was not, of course, a dogmatic decree issued in irreformable matter by an infallible authority; but it was certainly a doctrinal decree, issued in reformable matter by a fallible authority. Choupin wrongly believes that not being dogmatic the decree must needs be disciplinary: "It was a purely disciplinary decree, although resting on considerations of a doctrinal order; the Congregation of the Index is absolutely incompetent to issue dogmatic decrees" (op. cit., p. 165). The decree of the 22nd June 1633 was simultaneously doctrinal (the heliocentric thesis was judged to be contrary to Scripture) and disciplinary (Galileo was condemned to imprisonment and given a penance).

(4) Fallible as they were, these decrees were not without authority. To what, in conscience, did they oblige?

In themselves, they made obligatory in the first place the fulfilment of the exterior penalties prescribed. They made it obligatory furthermore under pain of a sin against prudence—not a certain one, since they were not prudentially infallible, but a very probable one at least—to take the geocentric thesis for the present as true and revealed in Scripture, and the heliocentric one as false and opposed to Scripture. It remained that they might possibly be erroneous.

The possibility of proving the heliocentric theory remained open. (The publication of such a proof was subject to the duty of not giving scandal. ) And anyone in possession of or publishing this proof would, ipso facto, possess or publish the proof that the heliocentric theory was neither heretical nor contrary to Scripture, since scientific truth cannot contradict revealed truth. That is what St. Robert Bellarmine said in a letter which he addressed on the 12th April 1615 to another Copernican, the Carmelite, Paul Antonio Foscarini: "I say that, if there is a true demonstration that the sun is at the centre of the world and the earth in the third heaven, that the sun does not revolve around the earth, but the earth around the sun, then we should have to apply much circumspection in explaining those passages of Scripture which seem to speak otherwise, and to admit that we do not understand them rather than declare that what is demonstrated is false. But I shall not believe in the existence of such a demonstration until it is shown me; and to prove that, by supposing the sun at the centre and the earth in the heaven, we can save the appearances is not the same thing as proving that the sun is at the centre in reality. The first demonstration I believe to be possible; but as for the second I very much doubt it; and in a case of doubt we ought not to abandon the interpretation of Scripture given by the holy Fathers" (cited by Vacandard, art. "Galilee", Dict. de theol. cathol., col 1062).

If therefore Galileo was in possession of the proof of the heliocentric thesis he could not be bound in conscience to disavow it interiorly, and the error of the Holy Office was to constrain him to do so. But was he in possession of this proof? "Galileo, as Laplace the astronomer said, supported this theory by analogies: rotation of the sun, phases of Venus, movement of the satellites of Jupiter. Such proofs by analogy have their weight; even today, two centuries after Galileo, they constitute one of the principal reasons for believing in the rotation of the earth. But these reasons, convincing perhaps for an intuitive genius like the Florentine scientist, were not sufficiently brought to the fore by him; he wrongly preferred to rely on proofs of much less value or even arguments that were quite false. That alone, from the scientific standpoint, was enough to excuse the attitude of his adversaries, and their final dismissal of his case" (Pierre de Vregille, art. "Galilee", Dict. apol. de la foi cathol., col 168; cf. col. 191).

(5) Prudence demanded that the decrees should be received as true (they could be untrue, but very probably they were true) as long as there was no clear certainty of their error. In fact, they were erroneous and imprudent. Where precisely were the authors of these fallible decrees at fault?

They lacked the courage needed to detach the question of Scripture at once from the dispute over the geocentric issue. That, it seems, would have been the prudent thing to do. "Cardinal Baronius", wrote Galileo to the Grand Duchess of Tuscany, "used to say that God did not wish to teach us how the heavens go, but how we are to go to heaven. "One wishes that all the theologians of that day had spoken like Cardinal Baronius ! Then they would not have involved the fallible magisterium of the Congregations in a prudential and doctrinal error.

St. Robert Bellarmine considered that, till proof to the contrary should be forthcoming, the true meaning of Scripture was represented by the geocentric thesis. So did most theologians, Catholic and Protestant. And the Bible undoubtedly says that "the sun riseth and goeth down and returneth to his place, and there rising again, maketh his round by the south and turneth again to the north" (Eccles. i. 5). But they should have remembered and applied the great exegetical principles laid down by men like St. Augustine and St. Thomas Aquinas—namely that the Holy Spirit did not set out to teach men the inner constitution of nature, but what may be useful for salvation (St. Augustine), and that the Bible speaks of nature according to the sensible appearances (St. Thomas). When Galileo wanted to avail himself of these principles (cf. Vacandard, loc. cit., col. 1080), many theologians failed to recognize them. These same principles however were to be recalled, in a more authoritative manner, no doubt, by Leo XIII in the Encyclical Providentissimus, of the 18th November 1893.

(6) Let us note that if Galileo seemed to understand better than Bellarmine that the Bible speaks of natural phenomena only according to the appearances, Bellarmine seemed to understand better than Galileo that astronomical science (and so also the new physics, which was a science of the same type) aims less at making known what is than at "saving the appearances". Because its empiriological character was at first overlooked by the scientists "physico-mathematical science, when perverted from its true nature and erected into a system of metaphysics, of absolute knowledge of reality (and therefore of mechanistic philosophy, of which only Spinoza was later to provide the perfect form) was bound to turn into heresy and to constitute a great danger for the human mind" (J. Maritain, The things that Are Not Caesar's, trans. J. F. Scanlan, London 1939, p. 199). There lay the danger—of an order other than scientific—which science, as Galileo understood it, was bringing on the Church.

As Hartmann Grisar, S. J. ., seems to have established in Galileistudien (Ratisbon 1882, p. 337 et seq. ) astronomical science, on the whole, suffered neither arrest nor regression on account of the condemnation of Galileo, not even among Catholic scientists. They did not cease to develop the Copernican system, doing it good service in fact by treating it as a mere "hypothesis". As to those among them whose researches were really hindered by an over-scrupulous submission to the decrees of the Holy Office, Grisar defends them by saying that the supernatural good of obedience takes precedence in the world's history over the natural good of scientific truth. This consideration is based on the fact that God knows how to draw good out of evil, a fact that we can easily recognize without ceasing to regret the double error, exegetical and scientific, committed by so high a tribunal.

(7) The decrees concerning Galileo, having been approved only in the common form, are fallible. Are they, as I have asserted, magisterial and doctrinal—that is to say, do they recommend the acceptance of a doctrine or condemn a doctrine as heretical, verging on heresy, or erroneous? Or were they, as some have thought it possible to maintain, merely disciplinary, involving only the application of a sanction, the imposition of an external penance?

Whatever opinion is here adopted I do not believe that it will essentially modify the problem raised by the condemnation, or the solution required. To me it seems clear however that the decree of 1616 was doctrinal, and that of 1633 both doctrinal and disciplinary.

In his work L'Inquisition et l'heresie, distinction de l'heresie theologique et de l'heresie inquisitoriale: a propos de l'affaire Galilee, Paris 1912, the Abbe Leon Garzend tries to establish that the sentence of 1633 was purely disciplinary. After a close examination of the sentence he points out, on the one hand, three facts which tend to prove that the ecclesiastical judges of 1633 did not take the opinion that the earth moves for a genuine heresy (e. g. Galileo was condemned as "suspected of heresy", not as a formal heretic); and, on the other hand, certain facts which seem to show that they considered him as heretical (e. g. he was ordered to abjure "the said errors and heresies"). There is therefore an apparent contradiction in the sentence. It would be removed by the fact that in the days of the Inquisition there were two notions of heresy: theological, which is what we should still call heresy today and alone was punished by burning; and inquisitorial, of wider scope, containing everything which, without being strictly and formally heretical, was considered as imperiling the faith and was therefore a subject for penalties or even preventive measures. Hence Garzend's conclusion: "Galileo and his theories were inquisitorially heretical; but neither he nor they were so according to the doctrine of the contemporary theologians. The judges of 1633 were thinking of Galileo as heretical in the inquisitorial sense and as non-heretical in the theological sense; and this occasioned the apparent contradiction in the sentence. The declaration of heresy against Copernicanism in the sentence envisaging only inquisitorial heresy, and this being different from doctrinal, a Pope could order its promulgation even though Copernicanism had only disciplinary decisions against it" (op. cit., p. 429). But, in fact, to overcome what Garzend calls a contradiction it would be enough to admit that the judges of 1633 condemned Galileo as suspect of having adhered to theses which, to them, appeared to be certainly heretical.

(8) To conclude. The anti-Galilean decrees were not guaranteed either as absolute and irreformable, or even as infallibly prudent. They could claim no more than a fallible assistance. According to Garzend it should be said that the judges of 1633 condemned Galileo, not for having doubtfully adhered to what for these judges was certainly a heresy, but for having certainly adhered to what seemed to them to deserve some lower note than heresy, e. g. the note of temerity. Garzend cites elsewhere many theologians of the time who, like Bellarmine, did not, for their own part, consider the Galilean hypothesis as certainly irreconcilable with the faith (Garzend however recognizes that the judges of 1633 applied to Galileo the penalty provided for the case where the delinquent admits the heretical fact but denies his heretical intention, although he is under strong suspicion: ibid., p. 32). Garzend consequently thinks that the sentence of 1633 should be regarded as purely disciplinary. I think, on the contrary, that it was at once doctrinal and disciplinary. It was doctrinal because it condemned the heliocentric thesis as "contrary to Scripture". It would still have been so had it qualified this thesis with some lesser note than heresy. But, and this is the essential thing, it was evident even to all contemporary opinion that this doctrinal condemnation was issued in revocable matter, and by a fallible authority.

2. The Power To Propose Practical Truth

What Jesus entrusted to the Apostles and their successors was the whole sum of the truth to which He bore witness. The teaching to be carried to the nations was concerned not only with what is, but also with what is to be done—by what ways we may come to our last end. There is therefore an authority assisted till the end of time, competent to announce in Jesus' name both speculative and practical truth, both faith and morals. We are now to discuss this second task of the magisterium, its task in the practical field. And to bring out its various titles to rule in this domain we must first trace some of the great divisions in the field of Christian morals.

A. Division Of Christian Moral Precepts

1. Precepts Of The Human Order

The highest precepts of all, St. Thomas says, are the first principles of the natural law: [802] good must be done, evil avoided, man should act like a reasonable being, not like a beast, and so on. All human morality turns on these fundamental principles, which are as the imprint of the eternal law on our hearts.

The secondary principles of the natural law make up a second class: no innocent man is to be killed, all debts should be paid, polygamy is forbidden, and so on. They are implicit in the primary precepts. They flow from these as necessary conclusions. We pass from one to the other, not by addition of matter from without but by simple unfolding of what is already given; and if a process of reasoning is required it does not produce, but simply manifests, the truth of the conclusion. We remain therefore on the plane the of natural and imprescriptible law, that is to say of precepts of which God is the immediate Author.

But since God inclines men to a development of their life which is not possible save in a social state, and so under the direction of an authority, a power, we may here recognize the source—fallible no doubt, but providential—of a new order of precepts. This is positive law. Its highest but indirect source is the Author of human nature Himself; its second, immediate and fallible source is the prince, the sovereign, the State. The whole role of positive law is, in a way, to extend and prolong the natural law, to carry its light, however enfeebled, as far as it will go. Its precepts are of two kinds.

The first are drawn from natural law by way of consequence; doubtless not necessary (not as the secondary precepts of the natural law result from the primary) but at any rate congruent. The right of private property, for example, will be established thus: human life supposes the cultivation of the soil; but when the soil belongs to all and none, it is bound to be badly cultivated; so that anything like an advanced state of civilization will require it to be parceled out among many possessors. This conclusion is not an absolutely universal truth, admitting of no exceptions—the Trappists cultivate their fields in common—but it is sufficiently universal to admit of only rare exceptions, to impose itself gradually on all peoples, and to pertain at last to what St. Thomas calls the "jus gentium", or human law.[803]

Other precepts are drawn from the natural law by way of determination: a murderer ought to be punished—but by what punishment, death or imprisonment? A hidden treasure is found in a field—does it belong to the finder or to the owner of the field? Several answers are possible; the prince will choose that which seems most to favour the common good, and thenceforward it will be the only just one. Such are the determinations of the "civil law".

Thus under the head of natural morality there fall four great types of precept. The first two are covered by the natural law, that is by those precepts that God has imprinted on men's hearts. The last two are covered by the positive law, that is to say by the precepts of human law and the civil law, promulgated immediately by a fallible human authority, but one that God commands us to obey.

2. Precepts Of The Christian Order

The foregoing division of the precepts of the purely human order will help us to classify those that fall under the Christian moral order.

The first group will consist of all those precepts that were directly revealed by God. They play a part in the supernatural moral order analogous to that of the first principles of the natural law: they are the fundamental precepts on which all the rest in some way or other depend. To enumerate them completely is impossible; the Bible is full of them. Some are addressed to special or restricted classes, such as the counsels: "If thou wouldst be perfect, go, sell all thou hast and give to the poor"; and some are common, addressed to all, such as the commandments: "Thou shalt love the Lord thy God with thy whole heart and with thy whole soul, and with thy whole mind, and thy neighbour as thyself. "If these precepts ratify those of the natural order (those given on Sinai are, in themselves, knowable by reason), and ratify too the temporal duties that concern the family and the state, they add heavenly reasons for their observance. This first group furthermore proclaims more sublime duties relating to the infused virtues, theological and moral—these latter surpassing anything the pagans dreamed of—and to the sacramental power: "Amen, amen, I say unto you: Except you eat the flesh of the Son of Man, and drink his blood, you shall not have life in you"; and again to the jurisdictional power: "Whoso heareth you, heareth me; whoso despiseth you, despiseth me; and whoso despiseth me, despiseth him that sent me."

Into the second group we shall put all precepts implicitly, but of course really, contained in the foregoing, precepts which the Church proposes either as revealed or at least as irreformably true. In promulgating them explicitly the Church adds no new revelation to the primitive deposit, she merely brings out its contents into the light of day. It is explicitly revealed that our Lord, before ascending to heaven, made His Apostles and their successors true judges of sins, for the purpose of forgiving or retaining them (John xx. 22), and it is thereby implicitly revealed that an exact avowal of sins, without which all judgment would be impossible, is of obligation for the sinner. There then we have a practical truth implicitly contained in the Gospel, and taught as revealed by the Council of Trent.[804] As examples of practical truths taught not as revealed but nevertheless as infallibly and irreformably true, we may cite the condemnations issued by Pius VI of certain propositions on the duel—as that a soldier accepting a challenge from fear of discredit in the army and loss of his livelihood is without sin; that to avoid dishonour one can accept or provoke a duel provided one is sure in advance that it will be stopped; etc.[805]

The precepts of these first two groups belong to the revealed deposit. The Church is their bearer, but not their promulgator. She proclaims them all-including those that concern her own structure, life and preservation—as divine and imprescriptible. These are the commandments that God has given us out of love for her, not simply her commandments. The voice is that of the Bridegroom, not simply that of the Bride. In transmitting it and in declaring its meaning, the Church enjoys an infallible and absolute assistance.

But just as, on the purely human plane, the precepts of the natural law promulgated by the Author of our nature have to be extended and made precise in the precepts of the positive law, promulgated by the temporal power; so, on the spiritual plane, the precepts of the divine law, revealed by God and proposed by the declaratory power, have to be extended and made precise in the precepts of the ecclesiastical law, promulgated by the canonical or legislative power. And, like the precepts of the temporal power, those of the canonical power will also be of two sorts.

The first will be drawn from the revealed law by way of consequence, not indeed as necessary consequences (as are precepts first implicitly revealed and then explicitly promulgated by the Church), but as congruent. For example, there is a divine precept enjoining all to "eat the flesh of the Son of Man and drink his blood" (John vi. 54), and another enjoining the sinner to have recourse to one who in Jesus' name can "forgive or retain sins" (John xx. 23). But seeing how easily men lose sight of things invisible, these precepts might be neglected by many; wherefore the Councils of Lateran and of Trent, with a wisdom confirmed by experience, have concluded to the obligation of annual confession and Easter communion.

The other class of precepts are drawn from the revealed law by way of determination. There is a scriptural precept imposing self-denial and fasting; hence the Church has determined certain forms of self-denial such as abstinence and certain modalities of fasting. It is a divine precept that Christ is to be honoured wherever He is; and He is in the Eucharist; so that the Church has provided for the public veneration of the Blessed Sacrament in processions. It is a divine precept that the Flesh of the Son of Man is to be eaten and His Blood drunk; but the Body and Blood of Christ are found under both the sacramental species, so that the precept will be observed whether we communicate under one species or under both; and the Church can regulate the matter according to the needs of the age. Since the end of the Middle Ages she has chosen to give communion to the laity only under one species, and to the clergy too when they are not saying Mass.

The precepts of the third and fourth groups belong to ecclesiastical law. They are the work of the canonical or legislative power, which is not supported by any absolute assistance, but by a prudential or relative assistance. They constitute the secondary practical message of the Church.

The division of the precepts of the ecclesiastical law according as they are drawn from the revealed law by way of consequence (third group) or by way of determination (fourth group), is a division made from the standpoint of their genesis, their mode of origin. It has the advantage of emphasising the organic dependence, the vital link, which connects the precepts of the canonical power with the higher precepts of the declaratory power.

There is, as we have said, another way of dividing the precepts of the canonical power. It proceeds from the teleological standpoint, according as their end is either to protect the revelation by measures of general or particular interest, or to assure the empirical existence of the Church. And it takes account of the different degrees of assistance they can claim. This division I now propose to explore, my purpose being to give a more detailed explanation of the force of the prudential precepts. But first let us summarise these various divisions of the practical message of the Church.

3. Synoptic Table Of These Divisions

Above all we must clearly note the distinction between the precepts of the divine law (primary practical message of the Church) and the precepts of the ecclesiastical law (secondary practical message of the Church).

[the diagram on page 363 of the book was put into an indented tree for e-text]


1 of the declaratory power (primary practical message) and so of divine law and absolute, which are revealed:
1 .1 explicitly 1st group
1 .2 implicitly 2nd group and which are
1 .2 .1 defined as revealed
1 .2 .2 defined simply as irrevocable
2 of the canonical power (secondary practical message) and so of ecclesiastical law and prudential, subdivided in two ways:
2 .1 from the genetic standpoint according as drawn from revelation:
2 .1 .1 by way of consequence (congruent) 3rd group
2 .1 .2 by way of determination 4th group
2 .2 from the teleological standpoint according as their end is
2 .2 .1 to protect the revelation by
2 .2 .1 .1 precepts of general interest
2 .2 .1 .2 precepts of particular interest
2 .2 .2 to assure the empirical existence of the Church; precepts of the biological order

B. The Force Of The Prudential Precepts

Just as the precepts of the natural law have to be extended and given precision in those of the positive law, so the precepts of the declaratory power, which are of revealed and divine law, have to be extended and given precision in those of the canonical power, which belong to ecclesiastical law.

The precepts of the declaratory power are proposed in virtue of an absolute assistance and in an irrevocable manner. The Church is no less assisted in teaching morals than she is in teaching the faith, and if she could be deceived in the former she could be deceived in the latter, since it is of faith that every virtue is good and every vice is evil.[806]

The precepts of the canonical power, whose role it is to extend and determine those of the declaratory power, share in their certitude, but unequally. For, just as we have divided the teachings of the canonical magisterium into two classes according as they fully or only partially engage its authority, so we must divide the precepts, the commandments, of the canonical power into two specifically distinct groups. In the first we shall put those precepts that fully engage the canonical power and which therefore apply universally and always. They formulate the main lines of conduct demanded by the good of the whole Church, and prescribe the measures that stand in necessary connection—a morally necessary connection—with the canonical ends of the Church,[807] which ends are to smooth the soul's path to divine things, and to particularize the social order postulated by the Gospel revelation: e. g. to lay down the conditions for a valid marriage. In the second group we shall put those precepts that engage the canonical power only partially, and thus have a merely particular or temporary character. They have no morally necessary connection with the spiritual good of the whole Church: e. g. this particular marriage is valid. If it be true, as Melchior Cano says, that the divine aid is never wanting in necessary things, but does not overflow on to the superfluous, "sicut Deus non deficit in necessariis, ita non abundat in superfluis",[808] the assistance promised to precepts of general application, and that promised to those of merely particular application, will not be of the same nature: the absolute certitude of the precepts of the declaratory power will be participated proportionally or analogically, not univocally, in the two cases. Let us try to see this in greater detail.

1. Precepts Of General Application

a. Their Infallibility Radically Absolute

The great prudential precepts, ordained for the general good of the Church, are closely and immediately connected with the absolute precepts of revelation, whence they stem as from their proper root; so that they participate in a direct and privileged way in their infallibility. It can be said that the infallibility that guarantees them is absolute—not, doubtless, directly and formally, but radically and fundamentally. It follows that they can never prescribe anything immoral or pernicious, anything that sins against the evangelical law or the natural law. Since the Church is assisted in the task of leading men to eternal life, she will not mislead them by erring either about what has to be believed or about what has to be done: if, for example, the Gospel had contained a commandment to communicate always under two kinds, she would never have been able to ordain communion under one; and similarly, she cannot enjoin on her children any acts that clash with the natural law, anything that partakes for example of idolatry, lying, or injustice. Theologians are here unanimous.[809]

b. Their Infallibility Formally Prudential

The great precepts of the canonical power are not only guaranteed by an absolute infallibility in their principle, their foundation, their root; they are also (and this is a result) guaranteed by a prudential infallibility in themselves, directly and formally. It is not enough to say that they can never prescribe anything contrary to the natural law and the law of the Gospel, it must further be held that all are wise, prudent and beneficial. There are "grave and just reasons", said the Council of Trent, that have led the Church to ratify the custom of communicating the faithful under one kind;[810] the same Council declares it "opportune, praiseworthy, pious and religious "to carry the Eucharist in procession;[811] it teaches not only that the Canon of the Mass is free from all error, but also that "it contains nothing but what breathes holiness and piety and lifts up the heart to God";[812] it affirms that the liturgical ceremonies accompanying the celebration of Mass are well adapted to bring out the majesty of the sacrifice and to facilitate contemplation of the sublime realities it contains.[813] Precepts so universally and constantly proposed cannot lack wisdom, prudence and expediency. John of St. Thomas spoke his true mind on the subject when he wrote that "as for the laws proposed to the whole Church, such as those drawn up by a General Council or incorporated in the Corpus Juris, granting the general approbation they enjoy, it is difficult to admit that they contain even prudential error ["difficilius admittitur etiam prudentialis error"], so that they are not to be waived without some special permission."[814] Thus, between the absolute assistance of the revealed precepts, and the fallible prudential assistance of particular precepts, one admits a prudential and infallible assistance for each of the precepts of general interest. These can never be imprudent nor even useless.[815]

c. Not Necessarily Representing a Maximum of Prudence

However, it does not necessarily follow that precepts of general application will always be the most prudent possible. For, unlike the natural and evangelical laws, which are immutable and perfect, ecclesiastical laws, even when enacted with the special assistance of the Holy Spirit, aim at bringing order into matters that are always changing, and therefore admit of a certain flexibility and a more or less perfect adaptation. For example, the laws on the necessity of annual confession and Easter Communion would have done good, no doubt, if promulgated some years earlier than they were; again, they might have been kept back for some years. More generally, the Church reserves the right to modify and ameliorate even the general provisions of her Canon Law.

d. How Defined and Recognized

When we speak of measures of general applicability the expression should not be taken in a material way, but in a living, qualitative and formal way. It indicates ecclesiastical measures which are general in a three-fold respect: by their final cause, their formal cause, and their efficient cause. First, they reflect the common good of the supernatural society, to which they are immediately ordered, and they are, on the supernatural level, what measures of public safety are on the natural. Then, they are laws in the strict sense, not commands in the strict sense: law, says St. Thomas, defines the rule of the common good, command applies this rule to particular matters.[816] Lastly, they engage the prudential authority of the Church fully, not merely partially: they must be approved by the whole Church, by an oecumenical council, by the Pope, not merely by a number of bishops or the Roman Congregations with the Pope giving his approval only "in forma communi". Most of the measures in question will in addition be general in their material cause, that is to say the subjects to whom they apply: the laws on Easter Communion, on fasting and abstinence, concern all the faithful; some however may concern only particular regions, or particular categories of the faithful such as clerics or religious. However, in spite of all this, it will not always be easy to recognize measures that are truly general. And measures that have once been general can cease to be so, and fall by degrees into desuetude. At bottom, the best sign of the universality with which the Church intends to invest a law lies in the insistence with which she proposes, approves and recommends it during the course of the ages.

e. The Commandments of the Church

I have mentioned several of these measures of general interest. It must be insisted that they always arise as consequences or determinations of the great ordinances of Scripture. The laws of fasting and abstinence for example are bound up with the Gospel precept to do penance (Matt. xi. 21). The laws prescribing Sunday attendance at Mass, or again, the mode of celebrating Mass, the use of unleavened bread in the Western Church, are bound up with the commandment to commemorate the sacrifice of Holy Thursday (1 Cor. xi. 24). The laws prescribing Easter Communion and the mode of distributing Communion under one kind are bound up with the command to receive the Body and Blood of the Lord (John vi. 53-58), both present under each kind and in each fragment of each kind. The custom of carrying the Blessed Sacrament in procession is bound up with the commandment to confess Christ before men (Matt. x. 32). The law of annual confession is bound up with the command given to the Apostles and their successors to remit sins (John xx. 23). The law of priestly celibacy in the Latin Church is linked with St. Paul's reflection: "He who is without a wife is solicitous for the things that belong to the Lord" (1 Cor. vii. 32). The laws obliging confessors to obtain the approbation of their bishop, and the canonical conditions for the validity of marriages, are connected with the general laws concerning the orderly feeding of the sheep of Christ, the general power of binding and loosing, and so on.

f. Approbation of Religious Orders

The approbation of a religious order by the Church may contain a prudential measure of general interest. It is a complex action, analysable into two judgments;[817] an absolute one, pertaining to the declaratory power and bearing on a dogmatic fact—"This monastic rule is in harmony with the Gospel ideal and well fitted to lead souls to perfection"—and a practical and prudential one pertaining to the canonical power—"It is good, prudent and useful here and now to propose this monastic rule to the faithful desirous of tending to evangelical perfection. "In the measure in which this latter judgment continues fully to engage the canonical authority, as it does for example in the case of the great Orders everywhere and always approved by the Church, it remains practically infallible; consequently; it cannot be other than prudent, opportune, useful and beneficial. But religious orders may decline, may cease to answer the needs of an epoch, and gradually lose the favour of the Church. Then the general and infallible prudential judgment which approved them becomes particular and fallible. Such religious orders may even be suppressed as harmful or superfluous.[818]

2. Precepts Of Particular Application

a. Their Nature

Particular decisions are concerned with the application of universal laws, their adaptation to circumstances of place and time. They cover an immense field, comprising innumerable legislative measures, decrees, all judicial verdicts, all penal sentences, and so on.

St. Thomas, as I have said, recognizes three kinds of judgments of the Church: those concerning the faith, those that are intermediate, and those concerning particular facts, such as the distribution of ecclesiastical goods, the settlement of lawsuits, and so on.[819] Judgments defining the faith emanate from the declaratory power and for matter they have only what is revealed whether explicitly or implicitly. The intermediate judgments emanate, in my view, from the canonical power fully engaging its authority in ecclesiastical matters of general interest. Judgments of the last type are put out by the canonical power in particular matters, and hence, whatever otherwise their importance, they do not touch the structure of the Church; they cannot, if erroneous, imperil the salvation of the faithful in general; and consequently they engage the canonical power only partially, even when issued by the Sovereign Pontiff.

b. Fallible Prudential Assistance

Undoubtedly even in these matters God will assist His Church, but not to the exclusion of all possibility of error or inadequacy. The canonical power may be led astray by false witnesses, by ignorance or passion in its depositaries, when it confers an office on a subject thought worthy, when it pronounces on the validity of a marriage, or when it issues a sentence of excommunication. One can even imagine it prescribing, in all good faith, an act in reality contrary to the natural or evangelical law. In such a case obedience will be impossible and it will be better to accept excommunication with faith and humility.[820]

c. Relation Between the; Notions of Authority and Infallibility

Besides the absolute assistance of the declaratory power and the infallible prudential assistance of the canonical power fully engaged, there is therefore room for a prudential assistance that will be fallible, though far from ineffective. We might even say that this assistance is, in a certain sense, infallible. As a general rule, to be sure, we make a distinction between authority and infallibility, and say that obedience is due in virtue of authority, not in virtue of infallibility. Thus, the authority of parents is indisputable, but nobody would call it infallible in the proper sense of the term. However, by a paradox that is merely apparent and may at times conceal a deeper insight into things,[821] it could undoubtedly be maintained that authority is only legitimate when it enjoys a kind of infallibility, not infallibility proper but one which does guarantee the prudence, wisdom, beneficence, if not of each of its interventions divisive, at least of the mass of its interventions collective. Parental authority does, on the whole, assure the due education of children"If you, being evil, know how to give good things to your children. . ."; political authority does on the whole result in something that is better than anarchy; the authority of a superior freely chosen does in fact secure a sufficient liberation from self-will in the religious life. Similarly, and with all the more reason, it can be said that the canonical power is efficaciously assisted by God, if not in each of its particular decisions divisive, singillatim, at least in its decisions as a whole, collective, ut in pluribus: that on the whole its interventions are happy rather than unhappy, useful rather than useless; that it is, in a word, guaranteed by a prudential aid that deserves to be called infallible in the improper sense.

C. The Force Of Decisions Of The Biological Order

Finally, below absolute decisions whose immediate end is to define the revealed deposit, and prudential decisions, whether general or particular, whose immediate end is to protect it, we must place prudential decisions whose end is empirically to determine the contingent relations of the Church with the world, to assure the concrete conditions of her daily existence, and thus to preside over the daily life which the Church has among men.[822]

1. Their Fallibility

It is owing to the hierarchy that the Church, the Body of Christ, the Kingdom of God, is in ceaseless process of formation here below in the highest mode of perfection compatible with her temporal and crucified existence. She is the point of convergence, the focus and the support, of all the sanctity and all the supernatural truth that exists in our world, and so becomes the instrument par excellence for the infusion of a divine life into our cultural life, of eternity into time. All the problems concerning the concrete relations of the Church with the kingdoms of this world, with great political movements and great cultural orientations, are therefore bound to present themselves to the canonical power. To enable it to solve them, the Holy Spirit will support it. But this divine assistance, which I have called biological, will be of a particular kind. It will spare the Church neither trials, nor hesitations, nor disappointments, nor even indubitable errors. It will often seem to exert only a very remote control over her conduct, to abandon her to merely human light and human power, to leave her to achieve her education at her own risk and peril and at the price of bitter experience. Even more than the assistance promised to the particular ecclesiastical precepts, this biological assistance will be in the proper sense fallible. And yet, of this too it may be said that it is, in a sense, infallible, since it will be always sufficient to assure a certain general direction, to save at least the minimum of temporal conditions needed to ensure the permanence of the Church and her uninterrupted visible presence on the stage of history.

2. Their Weakness More Apparent In Proportion As They Are Closer To The Temporal

The measures here in question are, as it were, the fine capillary vessels of the jurisdictional power. They feel out the way to be followed in regions often shifting, uncertain and full of surprises. Their prudence, wisdom and beneficial character will not always be evident to all eyes. Sometimes even they may seem to lack homogeneity when the depositaries of the canonical power, abandoning their habitual reserve, adopt contrary opinions "on this side or that of the Pyrenees", not to say in the same country, and are all equally persuaded that they are faithful interpreters of the mind of the Church and of the supreme authority. Then the Church, one in all that touches divine things, will seem to be divided in the face of the things of this world—when she is called on, for example, to support conservative or progressive political tendencies, to recognize the legitimacy of a form of government or even of a dynasty,[823] the justice or injustice of a war or a conquest, or the denunciation of an article of an international treaty. The consciences of the faithful will be subjected to severe trials. Shall we always be forced to live in the midst of the racking distinctions to which Christendom had to apply herself in the days of the Great Schism or of the trial of Joan of Arc? Unfortunately, they are likely to trouble us for a long time yet. But—and here perhaps history can record some progress—if it be true that the essential and traditional distinction between the Kingdom of God and the kingdoms of this world is to be much more marked in the institutions of the future Christendom than it was in those of medieval Christendom, then the cases of conscience, the trials, the conflicts of which we speak, instead of seeming to invade the inner sanctuaries of the spirit, will tend more and more to be kept on the periphery, on the boundary line between the spiritual and the temporal.

3. Their Nature Beneficial In The Majority Of Cases

Let us adduce some examples of the intervention of the canonical power in the biological order, and try to bring out some of their characteristics.

1. Not being infallible, they can at times be erroneous; and it can happen, though such cases are rare, that the Sovereign Pontiff himself may be misled into giving decisions on information deliberately wrong. After the Polish insurrection of 1830, Gregory XVI, deceived by the reports of Nicholas I, and desirous above all of abating the persecution that afflicted the Catholics of Russia, thought it good to remind the Poles of the maxims of the Church on submission to the temporal authorities. He soon recognized his error and expressed his regret publicly. Thirty years later, after the insurrection of 1864, Pius IX, protesting against the doings of Alexander II, cried: "I very well know how to distinguish the socialist revolution from reasonable liberty" (F. Mourret, op. cit., pp. 201 and 483).

2. More commonly perhaps they may look only to one aspect of a situation and overlook others of equal or greater importance. They will then be partial; and will not solve all the practical doubts of a Christian. Imagine a politician who promises to maintain Catholic schools and institutions and so to favour the cause of religion and of the Church. The spiritual power will be led to support him, and the bishops, in general terms, will recommend his candidates to the votes of Catholic electors. But perhaps this politician, whether by incompetence or otherwise, proves to be an evil influence, and instead of serving the Church he gravely compromises her by the general trend of his conduct; he may even seem to become her adversary, since she is the first to require the human order to be governed with wisdom and justice; and citizens who would act as good Catholics and work for a Christian political order, feel bound to oppose him. To be truly faithful to the spirit and the doctrine of the Church, they ought, as far as possible, to weigh the good that is done her openly against the damage that is done in less obvious ways; and their decision will then be just and enlightened. But all those who—whether prelates or laymen—attempt to save the biological existence of the Church by sacrificing the integrity of her doctrine, the purity of her morals, or the recognition of her sovereignty, will in any case certainly betray her. It will always be an aberration voluntarily to restrict the defence of a Catholic social order to a defence of ecclesiastical persons, goods or immunities.

3. But it is certain that in the majority of cases the interventions of the canonical power will be salutary. Consider, for example, the instructions of Leo XIII, motivated by a theology as firm as it was delicate, on the acceptance by the Church of the Republic in France. Abstractly, said the Pope, it is possible to define the best form of government and to recognize the advantages of each form: "In this order of speculative ideas, Catholics, like all citizens, are free to prefer one form of government to another, precisely because none of these forms is in itself opposed either to the dictates of right reason or to the maxims of Christianity" (Encyclical to the Clergy of France, 16 February, 1892). In point of fact, every people possesses a determinate form of government. Unlike that of the Church, this form is not final. It changes with the passage of time. Some bloody catastrophe perhaps throws a whole people into anarchy. Then a new government is needed. "These changes "says the Pope, realistically, "are far from being always legitimate at the outset; in fact it would be difficult for them to be so. However, the final criterion of the common good and public tranquillity makes it necessary to accept the new governments, once they are effectively established, in place of the old that have disappeared. Thus the ordinary rules for the transference of power are suspended, and may even be finally abolished with the passage of time" (Encyclical to the French Cardinals, 3rd May 1892). When these new governments, representing the authority that no society can dispense with, are once constituted, "to accept them is not merely allowable, but desirable, nay even demanded by the social necessities that have given them birth and maintained them. . . And this great duty of respect and dependence will remain as long as the needs of the common good require, since this good is, after God, the first and last law in a society" (16th February 1892). One should "make no attempt to overturn them or change their form. Hence the Church, guardian of the truest and highest notion of political sovereignty, since she attributes its origin to God, has always reproved the doctrines and condemned the men that rebel against the legitimate authority" (ibid. ). The Pope well knows "that none, without temerity, can assign limits to the action of divine Providence in all that concerns the future of nations", but, in the case of France, "long experience has shown that the state of the country has been so profoundly altered that it does not seem possible to revert to the ancient form of government without grave disturbances" (Letter to Cardinal Lecot, 13th August 1893). On the other hand, the persistence of an important section of the Catholics—not in retaining their preferences for the ancien regime and indulging "an affection for it which deserves respect" (ibid. ), but in living on the periphery of public life and subordinating the defence of religion "to the triumph of their party, even were this on the pretext that this party seems the most likely to defend it" (3rd May 1892)—deeply imperils the future of the Church in France. And so the Pope, whose sole end is "to safeguard the religious interests entrusted to him" (ibid. ), and who claims "the power and duty of choosing the means which, in all the circumstances of time and place, are most fitted to serve the good of religion" (Letter to Cardinal Perraud, 20th December 1893), asks the Catholics of France to accept the constituted government. But it is often overlooked that he strongly distinguishes between political power and legislation: "The acceptance of the one in no way implies acceptance of the other in those matters in which the legislator, forgetful of his mission, places himself in opposition to the laws of God and the Church. And let it be well noted by all, to work and to use one's influence to get the government to change iniquitous or unwise laws, is to give proof of devotion to the fatherland as intelligent as it is courageous, and suggests no shadow of hostility to the public authorities" (3rd May 1892). "Legislation is the work of men invested with power, men who, in fact, govern the nation. Whence it results that in practice the quality of laws depends more on the quality of these men than on the form of government" (16th February 1892). The Pope deplores the fact that there are men who set themselves "against the teachings and prescriptions of him who is at the same time the protector and the head of the Church" (13th August 1893).

4. When they adopt a moderating tone it is not to stifle a movement that may be authentically great and generous; but to effect its more perfect alignment with the real facts. There are always to be found men in the Church who "keenly perceive "—to adopt Newman's words—"and are honestly eager to remedy, existing evils—evils of which divines in this or that foreign country know nothing at all, and which even at home, where they exist, it is not everyone who has the means of estimating."[824] And yet the competent authority, although it recognizes all that is just in their views and generous in their intentions, may judge that the time has not yet come when the truth they have discovered, which tends to dazzle them, can be fruitfully introduced to the world. It will therefore recommend prudence, moderation, even, it may be, silence. Newman, who had the tragic defection of Lamennais before his eyes, has no trouble in justifying this line of action. He writes in the Apologia: "In reading ecclesiastical history, when I was an Anglican, it used to be forcibly brought home to me how the initial error of what afterwards became heresy was the urging forward of some truth against the prohibition of authority at an unseasonable time. There is a time for everything, and many a man desires a reformation of an abuse, or the fuller development of a doctrine, or the adoption of a particular policy, but forgets to ask himself whether the right time for it is come: and, knowing that there is no one who will be doing anything towards its accomplishment in his own lifetime unless he does it himself, he will not listen to the voice of authority, and he spoils a good work in his own century, in order that another man, as yet unborn, may not have the opportunity of bringing it happily to perfection in the next. He may seem to the world to be nothing else than a bold champion for the truth and a martyr to free opinion, when he is just one of those persons whom the competent authority ought to silence; and, though the case may not fall within that subject-matter in which that authority is infallible, or the formal conditions for the exercise of that gift may be wanting, it is clearly the duty of authority to act vigorously in the case. Yet its act will go down to posterity as an instance of a tyrannical interference with private judgment, and of the silencing of a reformer, and of a base love of corruption or error; and it will show still less to advantage, if the ruling power happens in its proceedings to evince any defect of prudence or consideration. And all those who take the part of that ruling authority will be considered as time-servers, or indifferent to the cause of uprightness and truth; while on the other hand, the said authority may be accidentally supported by a violent, ultra party, which exalts opinions into dogmas, and has it principally at heart to destroy every school of thought but its own."

Newman is right. A truth published out of due season will always lack its proper point of application and so will seem to be radically infected with error. That, at bottom, is why it gets condemned. It will have been noticed that Newman's words apply to various kinds of canonical interventions, those aiming at protection of the revealed deposit or simply at assuring the biological existence of the Church.

Newman sees, of course, that these considerations apply to himself as to others.

"It seemed to me especially a time in which Christians had a call to be patient, in which they had no other way of helping those who were alarmed than of exhorting them to have a little faith and fortitude, and to ' beware ', as the poet says" of dangerous steps '. This seemed so clear to me, the more I thought of the matter, as to make me surmise that, that if I attempted what had so little promise in it [i. e. the defence of revealed truth against the shifting objections of a science still too unstable] I should find that the highest Catholic Authority was against the attempt, and that I should have spent my time and my thought in doing what either it would be imprudent to bring before the public at all, or what, did I do so, would only complicate matters further which were already complicated, without my interference, more than enough. And I interpret recent acts of that authority as fulfilling my expectation; I interpret them as tying the hands of a controversialist, such as I should be, and teaching us that true wisdom, which Moses inculcated on his people, when the Egyptians were pursuing them, 'Fear ye not, stand still; the Lord shall fight for you, and ye shall hold your peace. ' And so far from finding a difficulty in obeying in this case, I have cause to be thankful and to rejoice to have so clear a direction in a matter of difficulty."

Precisely a propos of Newman, whose great projects for the establishment of Catholicism in England were not welcomed till after his death, Pere Clerissac has these penetrating lines: "When the dreamer of a great religious work is a man of great sensibility, he caresses his work as the fruit of his personal art: as a true artist he endows it with subtle exigencies and febrile impulses. But the works of God are the fruits of reason and wisdom and, further, they must be such that they cannot be attributable to caprice, nor even to the genius of a human artist. Thus God gave the artist the honour of foreshadowing and announcing the work, but He reserves its accomplishment to His Church and often by more humble instruments. This trial, this law of purification of what is human and individual, is imposed upon ideas as well as upon works. If God did not will that St. Thomas Aquinas should complete his Summa, this was not because the humility of the great doctor was in peril, but because such matters are only elucidated and only completed in Eternity."[825]

5. But the canonical power will know how, when necessary, to support bold initiatives—the founding of great orders, the great missionary ventures of such as Cyril and Methodius, the great reforming labours of men like St. Bernard. In the cultural sphere, consider how rapidly it rallied to the unfamiliar views of Augustine on the transformation of civilisation,[826] or again the rapid approbation of the innovating boldness of Albert the Great and Thomas Aquinas, when, to the scandal of so many bishops, they introduced into the current of medieval thought the suspect Aristotle, so full of pagan infection, "who brought in his train a crowd of Jews and Arabs whose commentaries were fraught with such danger".[827]

4. The "Superior Sense Of Opportuneness"

Provided that we look at things from a sufficiently elevated standpoint it becomes possible to understand what Pere Clerissac has called "the superior sense of opportuneness belonging to the Church."

The general goodwill of the Church towards all governmental regimes, towards all peoples, and more generally towards various and even opposed cultural complexes; her readiness to bid farewell to the social formations that surrounded her infancy and were even able to serve her; the ease with which she accommodates herself—not indeed to settle down comfortably, but to make it the starting-point of her activities—to any situation that permits her to exist; her easy tolerance even of the appearance of cynicism when it is a question of avoiding greater evils [828]—all this, which is sometimes apt to hurt certain human sensibilities and to bring on the Church charges of indifference, opportunism, and even ingratitude, is, in reality, but a proof of her age-long condition as a stranger on this earth, a sign of her sovereign attachment to spiritual realities. Let us say that her mission is to use the things of time for the purposes of eternity, that her detachment is the reverse of a greater love, that her constant availability witnesses to a higher fidelity.

There are, as we have seen and will see again, two Christian ways, both necessary, two laws, by which temporal things are to be referred to the last end. They can be treated as pure means, and then they enter into the very structure of the Kingdom of God on earth; they are incorporated into the Church. They can also play the part of intermediate ends, and then, although spiritualized and sublimated, they belong to the civil order, and remain extrinsic to the Church. The first law is that which the Church adopts for herself; it is that of her children acting precisely in their capacity as Christians and immediately for the Kingdom of God. The second law is that which the Church adopts for the Christian temporal order, that of her children acting like good Christians, but with the immediate purpose of rendering to Caesar and to the human order the things that are due to them.

These two laws are holy, providential, and indispensable to the Church. Yet they are quite distinct. Under the first the Christian considers human things not indeed solely, but preferably, in their eternal aspect—"using this world as though they used it not, for the figure of this world passes away". What then attracts him is the likeness of the Cross of Christ in these things. It suffices to make perfect children of the Church: the Carthusians and the Trappists, St. Paul the Hermit, St. Benedict Joseph Labre, were perfectly children of the Church. Under the second law the Christian considers human things as having a value of their own. He takes them, not of course for a last end but for an intermediate end, for their beauty, for their intrinsic goodness, for the reflection of the creative splendour contained in them and constituting their mystery. This law too is required if there is to be a Christian temporal order, Christian kings, scholars, workmen, artists, Christian culture, a Christendom.

These two laws have not the same immediate aim or the same centre of gravity; nor, therefore, have they the same rhythm. There exists indeed no deep opposition between them, for they move to the same last end; rather, a state of tension, unhappy on occasion, but in itself fruitful and salutary. And that is why the Church can stand aside and console herself more easily than her children do for the disappearance of things that were dear to them. She fosters in them no taste for ruins. She renews their courage, turns them to new tasks, less brilliant it may be, but none the less urgent. Bernanos, characteristically, having begun by denouncing the evil opportunism due to the egoism of churchmen, continues: "The Church has a deposit, and guards it. She carries this Truth within her like a woman big with child, a precious fruit that draws all the blood, all the virtue of the maternal body till its maturity is achieved; which must await the coming of the Kingdom of God. There is nothing high or great in the world which she will not be ready to sacrifice when it comes to protecting that which she bears in her side. There is no engagement that she cannot break, no friend that she cannot abandon or disown for the security of the fruit of her womb; for if this is lost, all is lost, and if she gives it to eternity all will be re-established at one stroke. No injustice is supernaturally irreparable if only the principle of justice is safe. And if the principle of justice is abolished all is afterwards nothing but injustice and disorder."[829] But "sacred characteristic of transcendent egoism "is not the right phrase. Pere Clerissac's is better: "the superior sense of opportuneness that is proper to the Church".

3. Conclusions On The Jurisdictional Powers

A. The Gospel Words On The Jurisdictional Authority Indicative Of Several Distinct Powers

In Jesus' commission to Peter—"Feed my sheep" (John xxi. 17), and: "Whatsoever thou shalt bind upon earth, it shall be bound also in heaven; and whatsoever thou shalt loose on earth, it shall be loosed also in heaven" (Matt. xvi. 19)—there are indicated (over and above the power of order) several jurisdictional powers: that of handing on the divine revelations (declaratory power) and that of promulgating ecclesiastical decisions (canonical or legislative power).

In the words: "Going therefore teach ye all nations. . . teaching them to observe all things whatsoever I have commanded you" (Matt. xxviii. 19-20), there are designated several teachings, several messages: the revealed message concerning the doctrine of faith and of morals, and the secondary message comprising the measures indispensable or useful for the diffusion, the understanding, and the practice of the first.

In the words: "I am with you all days even to the consummation of the world" (Matt. xxviii. 20), are indicated several spiritual presences of Jesus to those charged with the instruction of the nations, several assistances: the absolute or irreformable assistance, and the relative or prudential assistance.

In the words: "He that heareth you, heareth me: and he that despiseth you despiseth me. And he that despiseth me, despiseth him that sent me" (Luke x. 16), are indicated several obediences, and consequently as many rebellions: obedience or rebellion in theological matter in respect of the revealed message, and obedience or rebellion in moral matter in respect of the secondary message.

B. These Powers Not To Be Seen As Separated

These various powers, messages, assistances and obediences, are essentially distinct from each other. Yet they are not strangers to each other. They are implied in each other, the higher finding its normal complement in the lower. The declaratory power calls for the canonical power and its subdivisions; the revealed message calls for the secondary message; the absolute assistance calls for the prudential assistance; theological obedience calls for moral obedience. Between the former realities which are of the divine order and the latter which are of the ecclesiastical, the gulf is deep, and, in a sense, infinite. Nevertheless, if the realities of these two planes are to be sharply distinguished statically, from the standpoint of their structure they appear as most closely linked with each other dynamically from the concrete standpoint of their mutual influence. Hence it is that a man who fully accepts the divine order will not only believe in the existence of a canonical order but will find his heart fully disposed to accept the directions of this canonical order: and the man who rebels knowingly and gravely against the directions of the canonical order will be almost inevitably led to rebel one day against the divine order itself. History and psychology could show perhaps how all the dissidences began in some misunderstanding of the canonical message of the Church; and how all returns to unity began, on the contrary, by a recognition of her divine message. There is a way of shutting oneself up in the secondary which results in by-passing all great things; and there is a way of going straight to all great things, which ultimately leads one to see the profound wisdom of the secondary.

Newman makes use (Apologia, Chap. V) of a comparison that helps us to understand the connection of the declaratory and the canonical powers (although they are not, as he calls them, respectively direct and indirect, but both direct): The authority of the Church "has the prerogative of an indirect jurisdiction on subject-matter which lies beyond its own proper limits, and it most reasonably has such a jurisdiction. It could not act in its own province unless it had a right to act out of it. It could not properly defend religious truth, without claiming for that truth what may be called its pomaeria; or, to take another illustration, without acting as we act, as a nation, in claiming as our own, not only the land on which we live, but what are called British waters. The Catholic Church claims, not only to judge infallibly on religious questions, but to animadvert on opinions in secular matters which bear upon religion, on matters of philosophy, of science, of literature, of history. . . It must of course be obeyed without a word, and perhaps in process of time it will tacitly recede from its own injunctions. In such cases the question of faith does not come in at all; for what is matter of faith is true for all times, and never can be unsaid."

C. Their Degree Of Sanctity

If the directions coming from the jurisdictional power, though closely linked and ordered one to another, are not, on that account, all of equal importance; if the divine assistance which guarantees their truth, their justice and their prudence is not always and in every case infallible, yet its message as a whole is holy, and even in secondary and particular matters, in which lapses may occur, it still remains holy; on the one hand radically and in the majority of cases, since it represents the application of good and prudent general laws; and on the other hand absolutely, since the decisions by which it might come to command a sin are annulled in advance by the general laws of the Church.[830]

D. The Relation Between The Jurisdictional Teaching And The Charity Of The Church

The message of the jurisdictional power is welcomed by the faith and obedience of the faithful. It is cherished in the heart of the Church believing, loving, acting. Under one aspect it would be correct to say that it already supposes, in order to be fully received by men, the full collective outpouring of this caritas viae, which, like the soul in its body, works from within to form, organize and vivify the whole Church, the whole Kingdom of God visibly present among us. But under another aspect it is this message itself that plays the primary part, since it is for it to open wide the ways on which the theological faith, the affective charity, and the effective charity of all the faithful—in other words, the contemplation and action of the whole Church, of the whole Kingdom of God among men—may march with sure step. In a sense it is first to the jurisdictional message (and in another sense it is first to Christian charity, which demands, welcomes and utilises this message) that are due the order, the unity, the perfect proportion of the Church, which sometimes astonishes even her enemies, as the beauty of the camp of Israel astonished the prophet Balaam in the desert.[831]

E. The Jurisdictional Power's Influence Direct On The Church And Indirect On The World

It is therefore only at the point at which the jurisdictional message touches mankind that there is produced the full outflow, the full collective, concerted, organic activity of Christian and sacramental charity, which, like an inner spring of virtue, unfailingly animates, sanctifies and spiritualizes the Church here below, the passible Body of Christ, the Kingdom of God in our midst. But it would be gravely erroneous to think that the directions of the jurisdictional power are content to act on the world only directly, and only at the point where they are openly and visibly received. In manifesting divine truth with unique power, they make their influence felt far beyond these limits. They attain, by repercussion, to much wider circles. They help to enlighten, sustain and save many of those who, without being in the Church openly, fully, in achieved act, belong to her already hiddenly, imperfectly, in initial act. And the more the cultural unification of races and peoples progresses, so much the more does spiritual influence and jurisdiction tend to overflow and to pass far beyond the apparent and humanly discernible limits of the Church.

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