We shall first of all recall that Christ Himself entrusted to the Church certain exceptional (or extraordinary) powers, and certain regular (or permanent) powers; and that the regular powers of jurisdiction comprise, by divine ordinance, two degrees. It will then be possible to enter on a detailed study of the particular or episcopal jurisdiction, and the universal or papal jurisdiction.


How did the apostolate give birth to the episcopate? In what sense are the bishops the successors of the Apostles? Did the episcopate come immediately from the hands of Christ? Did the Church receive from Him her definitive jurisdictional constitution? We will examine the teaching of the theologians on these points.

1. Christ's Conferring Of Certain Exceptional Or Extra-Ordinary Powers And Certain Regular Or Permanent Powers On The Apostles: The Immediate Foundation Of The Permanent Jurisdiction By Christ

The Church came from the hands of Christ. The Gospel itself witnesses that it was immediately from Him that the Church received the basic constitution which she is to keep till the end of time: "As the Father hath sent me, so also I send you" (John xx. 21); "All power is given me in heaven and on earth. Going therefore, baptize ye all nations. . . and behold I am with you all days even till the consummation of the world" (Matt. xxviii. 18-20). And that is why we are able to profess, in the anti-modernist oath, "that the Church, the guardian and teacher of the revealed word, was established immediately and directly [proxime ac directo institutam] by the true and historic Christ, while He lived among us". He gave her at once both the exceptional and temporary powers and the regular and permanent powers.

On the Apostles whom He chose that "they should be with him" (Mark iii. 14), for whom He performed miracles to touch and awaken their hearts (vi. 52), to whom He explained the meaning of the parables (iv. 11) and of the Scriptures (Luke xxiv. 45), to whom He appeared over a period of forty days to instruct them on the Kingdom of God (Acts i. 3), and who were to be witnesses of His life and resurrection (i. 22), the Saviour poured out a hidden power which associated them in an exceptional way with the foundation of His Church, enabling them to launch her on the world with the initial impulsion which would carry her from age to age to the end of her history. They would have authority to promulgate certain sacraments; they would have plenary prophetic knowledge of the revealed deposit; they would be inspired to manifest this deposit to the world; and wherever they went they would themselves found local Churches. These privileges are apostolic in the sense that the Apostles were their sole depositaries. They constitute what we have called, in the most restricted sense, "the apostolate". They were intransmissible; and if the Church is called apostolic today, it is not because she possesses them, but simply because she issued from them and because they presided at her birth. They were to be found in an equal degree in each of the Apostles. But since they were granted only in view of the foundation of a Church which was essentially destined to be governed by a single visible ruler, they tended of themselves to place the Apostles, in all that concerned the government of the Church, in dependence on the trans-apostolic powers entrusted by Christ to Peter.[832] So that the Apostles themselves were counted among those sheep of Christ having Peter for visible shepherd.[833] And when Peter died they would remain, as regards ecclesiastical government, subject to the supreme and regular power over the universal Church which would pass on from Peter to his successors.[834]

Within these exceptional and temporary privileges concerned with the founding of the Church there lay hidden the ordinary and permanent powers concerned with preserving the Church; powers by which the Apostles were not only the causes of the Church's coming into being but were also her first regular heads. These are the powers that are apostolic in the sense that the Apostles were not their only, but their first, depositaries. They passed as they stood to the Church, which therefore on this new ground deserves to be called apostolic. These are the powers of order and jurisdiction. They depend on Peter, sole visible head of the body of the Church, and it is from him, consequently, that the other Apostles were regularly to receive them; but, by a singular favour, they received them in fact immediately from Christ.[835] Here we may recognize the ordinary and permanent powers of jurisdiction which we have opposed to the "apostolate" understood in the restricted sense, by calling them the "pontificate".

Thus all the powers possessed by the Apostles, whether exceptional or regular, of order or of jurisdiction, apostolate or pontificate, came to them immediately from Christ.

2. The Opinions Of Bellarmine And Suarez On The Powers Of Order And Jurisdiction In The Apostles

The thesis I have just set out is that which is today the most generally accepted, and is in my opinion the only correct one. Nevertheless, it has not been accepted by several great theologians.

Following Turrecremata's Summa de Ecclesia,[836] St. Robert Bellarmine holds, in his De Romano Pontifice,[837] that Peter alone received episcopal consecration immediately from Christ, and that the other Apostles received it from the hands of Peter. If it be objected that the apostolate supposed the powers of order and of jurisdiction and that it was conferred by Christ directly on all the Apostles, Bellarmine replies that the apostolate carried with it only the right to preach and a delegated jurisdictional power of wide extension but including neither the power of order nor the episcopate. If it be insisted that on this view the bishops would not be successors of the Apostles, he replies that the bishops are certainly the successors of the Apostles, not however because the apostolate included the episcopate, but because the Apostles were, additionally, bishops—that they were even the first bishops of the Church although they were ordained by Peter and not by Christ. What are we to think of this view?

Let us begin by clearing up all merely verbal disagreement. If the name "apostolate "be reserved for the jurisdictional powers which were the exclusive privilege of the Apostles, it is clear, as Bellarmine says, that the bishops, not possessing these exceptional powers, would not succeed the Apostles in any proper way, in the way in which one bishop succeeds another;[838] they succeed the Apostles not inasmuch as they were Apostles, but inasmuch as they were bishops. But if by "apostolate" we mean the totality of the extraordinary and ordinary powers conferred on the Apostles, the bishops would then properly succeed the Apostles in respect of all the regular powers of the apostolate, but not in respect of the exceptional powers.

This question of vocabulary once out of the way, two points of fact remain to be cleared up, though their importance for the rest might seem secondary. The first concerns the power of order, and the second that of jurisdiction.

On the first point, relating to the power of order, St. Robert Bellarmine considers that the Apostles had to receive from Peter the fullness of the power of order; Cajetan thinks, on the contrary, that they received it immediately from Christ, e. g. at the Last Supper, and Suarez, who is of the same opinion, adds that it is hardly possible to allege any valid ground for thinking otherwise.[839] These views of Cajetan and Suarez seem to me hardly open to question, and I shall take them for granted.

On the second point, relating to the power of jurisdiction, St. Robert Bellarmine considers that the Apostles, having received the supreme ecclesiastical power from Christ, could not be other than extraordinary and delegated pastors, without any possible genuine successors as far as jurisdiction is concerned,[840] and Suarez considers similarly that the Apostles possessed a delegated general jurisdiction, without themselves having the transmissible ordinary episcopal jurisdiction;[841] but John of St. Thomas believes, on the contrary, that besides the extraordinary jurisdictional power that they had as founders, as causes of the coming into being of the Church, the Apostles had a regular jurisdictional power for her conservation, attached to their power of order, which would pass as it stood to their successors.[842] Billet, who is of the same opinion, notes that this assertion is not gratuitous but based on the idea of the bishops as successors of the Apostles (even as regards jurisdiction), and that it is inconceivable that during the period of foundation the Church was not yet in possession of her final and permanent constitution.[843] Finally, and above all, it was expressly with episcopal jurisdictional power in view that the Vatican Council declared the bishops to be successors of the Apostles.[844] We shall have to return to the meaning of this assertion and to the point that here sets Bellarmine and Suarez in opposition to other theologians.

3. Points Of Agreement: The Extraordinary Jurisdiction Of The Apostles

In the Gospel texts addressed to the Apostles in view of a mission extending to all nations and to all times, it is evidently impossible not to recognize—enveloped no doubt in exceptional and temporary privileges, but nevertheless clearly formulated—the promise of the permanent, ordinary, transmissible jurisdictional powers needed to preserve the revelation unaltered down the ages, and for taking, as circumstances might dictate, all the measures required for the spiritual good of souls. "The Paraclete, the Holy Ghost, whom the Father will send in my name, he will teach you all things, and bring all things to your mind, whatsoever I shall have said to you" (John xiv. 26); "It is expedient for you that I go; for if I go not, the Paraclete will not come to you: but if I go I will send him to you" (xvi. 7); "When the Spirit of Truth is come, he will teach you all truth" (xvi. 13); "Go ye into the whole world and preach the gospel to every creature" (Mark xvi. 15); "Going therefore, teach ye all nations. . . teaching them to observe all things whatsoever I have commanded you: and behold I am with you all days, even to the consummation of the world" (Matt. xxviii. 19-20); if the brother who has sinned "will not hear the church, let him be to thee as the heathen and the publican. Amen I say to you, whatsoever you shall bind upon earth shall be bound also in heaven, and whatsoever you shall loose upon earth shall be loosed also in heaven" (Matt. xviii. 17-18).

4. Points Of Divergence: Does The Extraordinary Jurisdiction Contain The Permanent Virtually Or Formally?

How are we to understand the power of jurisdiction indicated in these great texts?

Is it only, as Bellarmine and Suarez believe, an exceptional power to found the Church, one in which the regular power for conserving her would be contained only in potency, virtually, analogically, as the flower in the stem, the effect in its cause? If we take this view, the Church would have received her definitive statute, not immediately from the hands of Christ, but from those of the Apostles.

Was it not rather, as Cajetan, John of St. Thomas, and many modern theologians believe, an exceptional power to found the Church in which the regular power of conserving her was contained expressly, formally, univocally, as a part in the whole?

In support of this second view we may bring a twofold argument:

a. All theologians admit that the Apostles possessed the plenitude of the power of order and a mission to hand it on to the bishops, their successors. But if the plenitude of the power of order is the basis of, and normally brings with it, an ordinary jurisdictional power [845] is it not natural to conclude that the Apostles, who possessed the power of order in a regular and transmissible way, possessed also an ordinary and permanent jurisdictional power in a regular and transmissible way, masked if you like under their extraordinary jurisdictional power; and that they had a mission to pass it on to their successors? The bishops then would be successors of the Apostles not only as regards their power of order but also as regards their regular power of jurisdiction.

b. If that is so, the proposition we meet with in the Fathers,[846] and which the Church makes her own,[847] according to which the bishops are the successors of the Apostles, can receive its full meaning. On the contrary, Bellarmine and Suarez are led to maintain that the Apostles possessed only the extraordinary and intransmissible jurisdiction, and did not formally have the ordinary and transmissible episcopal jurisdiction.

Hence the important consequence: according to the commoner view, which I have adopted, the Church received her definitive jurisdictional constitution immediately from the hands of Christ.

5. Peter's Reception, Direct From Christ, Of Not Only His Extraordinary Apostolic Power But Also His Permanent Power Over The Whole Church

For Peter, at least, what was received immediately from the hands of Christ was indubitably a regular ordinary power, transmissible for all time; in virtue of it, on the precise point of the government of the universal Church, his relation to the other Apostles was not one of equality, but the relation of a shepherd to his flock. The Saviour made him not merely the same promises as he made to the others, but promises still more astonishing by which he was designated as the foundation stone of the Church and the keybearer in this world of the Kingdom of Heaven—"And I say to thee: That thou art Peter; and upon this rock I will build my Church, and the gates of hell shall not prevail against it. And I will give to thee the keys of the Kingdom of Heaven. And whatsoever thou shalt bind upon earth, it shall be bound also in heaven: and whatsoever thou shalt loose on earth, it shall be loosed also in heaven" (Matt. xvi. 18-19)—and again: "Feed my sheep" (John xxi. 16-17). When He made these promises, the new powers conferred thereby were, besides the exceptional and intransmissible powers common to all the Apostles, the regular, permanent, transmissible powers in virtue of which, from the morrow of the Ascension, Peter and his successors were to be the ultimate visible foundation of the Church, the stewards of the Kingdom of Heaven, the supreme shepherds of all the sheep of Christ. The divine Word, by reason of the mysterious love that impelled Him to become incarnate to heal our wounds through this sensible contact, had willed to become Himself the Master, Teacher and Visible Head of the apostolic band, which He sent to preach the Kingdom of God; at the same stroke He had willed to give His Church its first constitution by organizing it around Himself as a single visible centre. When He withdrew His visible presence from men, He had either to replace this first organization of the Church by a new one, or else, if He wished to preserve His work as it stood and develop it along its original lines, to have recourse to the sole remaining solution: namely, to single out one of the Apostles from the rest by promising him a special assistance, powerful enough, effectual enough, to enable him to become the visible spokesman of Christ, His Vicar on earth, a permanent visible centre of organization for the universal Church. "Since Christ was about to withdraw His bodily presence from the Church, "says St. Thomas Aquinas, who here touches the root of the question, "He needed to appoint one to take His place in governing the whole Church. Wherefore, before His Ascension, He said to Peter: Feed my sheep; and before His Passion: Thou, being once converted, confirm thy brethren; and to him alone He made the promise: To thee I will give the keys of the Kingdom of Heaven; whence it results that in order to safeguard the unity of the Church, the power of the keys was to descend from Peter to the others."[848] And again: "If the power of binding and loosing was given to all the Apostles in common, nevertheless a hierarchy appears in this power, and that is why it is given first to Peter alone, as to him from whom it should pass down to the others."[849]

6. The Permanent Jurisdiction Distributed, By Divine Ordinance, On Two Planes: Either Particular Or Universal

"And it cannot be said, "continues St. Thomas, "that although He conferred this dignity on Peter, it does not pass from him to others. For it is evident that Christ so instituted His Church that it would endure to the end of the world. . . and that those He appointed to the ministry then and there, were, for the good of the Church, to communicate their powers to their successors until the end of time: especially since He says: Behold I am with you all days, even to the consummation of the world."[850]

As the privileged and exceptional powers of the Apostles became gradually extinct, and their regular, permanent and transmissible powers alone survived, it more and more appeared that, unlike the regular power of Peter which extended over the universal Church, the regular powers of the others were destined by their nature to feed particular flocks and to be limited to local Churches: Timothy seems to rule in Ephesus (1 Tim. i. 3) and Titus in Crete (Titus i. 5).

Consequently, it was due to a provision of divine law that the regular jurisdictional power was to reside, on the one hand in the Apostles and their successors so as to make them shepherds of a particular flock; and on the other, in Peter and his successors, so as to make them supreme shepherds of the universal flock. By the imprescriptible will of Christ the hierarchy of the Church had, as regards the power of order, three degrees, bishops, priests, and ministers, but, as regards the power of jurisdiction, two: the supreme pontificate or Papacy [851] and the subordinate pontificate or episcopate. "If the power of Peter and his successors is plenary and sovereign, "wrote Leo XIII in his Letter Satis Cognitum, of the 29th June 1896, "we are not to believe that there is no other power in the Church. He who established Peter as the foundation of the Church also chose twelve of them whom also he named Apostles (Luke vi. 13). And just as the authority of Peter was to be perpetuated in the Roman Pontiff, so the ordinary power of the Apostles passes to the bishops who succeed them, so that the episcopal order is a necessary part of the internal constitution of the Church. And although their authority is neither plenary [in the sense in which that of the Pope is plenary] nor universal, nor sovereign, they are nevertheless not to be regarded as simple vicars of the Roman Pontiff, for they possess an authority proper to themselves, and are very truly called the ordinary prelates of the peoples they govern."

To define the relations between the Papacy and the episcopate—that is between the two degrees of the fourth of the great divisions of the permanent jurisdiction—we must apply, on the supernatural plane, the general principle that the good of the part and the good of the whole differ not only quantitatively according to more or less, but also qualitatively according to species.[852] Then we shall be in a position to determine with some precision the relations between the episcopal jurisdiction, ordered immediately to the good of a particular Church, and the papal jurisdiction, ordered immediately to the good of the universal Church.

7. The Derived Divisions Arising From Canon Law

The other divisions of the power of jurisdiction do not arise from the divine law but from the ordinances of ecclesiastical law. Just as, in effect, the Church has extended the power of order of deacons, of the simple ministers, to several inferior functions (sub-diaconate and Minor Orders), so she has extended the power of jurisdiction to several inferior levels. The power of the sovereign pontificate, participated up to a point, has given birth to the power of the Cardinals, of the Roman Curia, of the Legates, of the Patriarchs, of the Primates, of the Metropolitans, of the Vicars and Prefects Apostolic, of the superiors of religious and so on. If the Patriarchs of Alexandria and of Antioch had, for example, according to the old ecclesiastical discipline, the right to appoint the bishops of their provinces and to exercise other functions of a general order, this was not in virtue of powers properly belonging to their episcopal office; it was in virtue of added powers, which they possessed, in reality, as vicars of Peter. The episcopal power is shared by the Vicars-General, for example, or, in a limited way, by the simple parish priests who can preach, administer the sacraments and grant certain dispensations. But the jurisdiction proper to the Pope is never devolved otherwise than partially—for example, on the Roman Congregations; hence, although it is ordinary, that is to say attached to their office, the jurisdiction of the Roman Congregations is not a proper but a vicarious jurisdiction. So also the jurisdiction proper to the bishops is only partially devolved on the parish priests; hence, although it is ordinary, i. e. attached to their office, their jurisdiction is not a proper but a vicarious jurisdiction. These secondary divisions of the jurisdictional power are studied in Canon Law.



1. Unitary Episcopate And Collegiate Episcopate

The regular powers of the Apostles passed to the episcopate which, in the beginning, was sometimes unitary, sometimes collegiate.[853] Where the episcopate was unitary, that is to say in numberless Christian communities, no difficulty arises. Where the episcopate appears as collegiate, three suppositions are possible. Either we may suppose that the presbyters, who, as the Epistles of St. Paul and St. James show, presided together in certain Churches, were all true bishops—and they certainly were so at Alexandria, where they replaced a deceased bishop not only by electing, but also by consecrating his successor—and then there is no difficulty about the transmission of the hierarchic powers. Or we may suppose on the contrary that they were simple priests, one only among them being truly bishop, and then the hierarchic succession was assured by the latter. Finally, supposing that none were more than simple priests, we should have to say that it was owing to authentic itinerant bishops—such as Timothy and Titus to some extent were—that the apostolic powers came down over their heads to us. Which of these suppositions was verified in fact may be left to the decision of the historian.[854]

2. The Episcopate, In Divine Law, Established For Particular Churches

The episcopate early appears as the authority instituted for a particular Church, a local Church. That applies also to the collegiate episcopate [855] no less than to the unitary. The seven angels to whom St. John addressed his Apocalypse represent the bishops—not really angels, since some of them are reprimanded—as identified with their respective local Churches. Later on, towards 110 St. Ignatius of Antioch refers to the bishop as exercising the supreme power in each local Church: "Be careful to partake of one Eucharist; for there is but one flesh of our Lord Jesus Christ, one cup to make us one in His blood, one altar, as there is but one bishop surrounded by the priests and deacons."[856] His power, according to St. Ignatius, is plenary: "Wherever the bishop appears there also let the people be; as wherever is Jesus Christ there is the Catholic Church. Without the bishop it is not lawful either to baptize or to celebrate the Agape, agapen. But all that he shall approve will be pleasing to God; and so all that is done will be sure and valid. . . A sound maxim is to keep God in view always and the bishop. He who honours the bishop is honoured of God; to act without the bishop is to serve the devil."[857] Here, clearly, we have the episcopal power, and limited to a local Church.

The bishops, says the Code of Canon Law, in a text already cited, "are the successors of the Apostles, and, in virtue of a divine institution, they are placed at the head of particular Churches, which they rule with an ordinary power, under the authority of the Roman Pontiff".[858]

3. The Bishop's Powers As Shepherd Of His Own Particular Flock

The bishop is the shepherd of the flock assigned him. It can be said that, in the widest sense, the role of a shepherd is to attend to the preservation and propagation of life within the flock itself. In a narrower sense, the shepherd has to lead the sheep in the right path.

These two roles, that of looking after the preservation and propagation of spiritual life, and that of directing the belief and action of the faithful, belong to the bishop: the first in virtue of the power of order, and the second in virtue of the power of jurisdiction.

The bishop possesses the plenitude of the power of order. Ordinarily it is he who confirms Christians in the grace of their Baptism. Above all, he alone can ordain priests, and it is by their ministry that the waters of Christ's redemption spring up day by day in every place in the midst of the flock to preserve and propagate life—that is to say, grace.

Besides the episcopal power of order, the bishop possesses the episcopal power of jurisdiction. The bishop's jurisdiction over his local Church is plenary, immediate, proper or ordinary. It can be exercised even during a vacancy of the Holy See.[859]

a. The spiritual jurisdiction of the bishop over his flock is first of all plenary. He has authority to teach in the name of Christ the speculative truth to be believed. "A bishop. . . must be able to exhort in sound doctrine and to convince the gainsayers" (Titus i. g); and by way of comment on these words of St. Paul, St. John Chrysostom writes: "If he does not do it, all is lost. He who does not know how to resist the enemy, how to bring all minds captive to the obedience of Christ, how to dispose of false reasonings, he who is unable to teach according to true doctrine, let him not occupy the throne of doctrine. Other qualities may be found among the faithful. . . but the thing that characterizes the master is the power of making his word understood."[860] He has authority moreover to lay down, in Christ's name, the speculatively practical and practically practical truth to be observed. Or, to turn to another way of dividing the jurisdictional powers, the bishop, who is the guardian of faith and morals in his own diocese, has (1) to put the faithful in mind of the great revealed teachings of the Christian faith and the great revealed imperatives of Christian morals (primary message); (2) to hand on to them the general prudential measures promulgated for the universal Church (secondary message); and (3) to exercise the canonical power himself, on his own responsibility, with a view to assuring a better acceptance of the primary message and the universal secondary message in his own diocese; so that in the things that concern the salvation of souls—in those things alone, but in all of them—he has the sole authority to legislate, to judge, and to apply sanctions.[861] And if simple parish priests are called pastors, they are known to be so only in a vicarious way (their ordinary jurisdiction derives, by a provision of ecclesiastical law, from that of the bishops), and partially (they can preach, and administer the sacraments, grant certain dispensations, but not legislate). "Properly speaking," says St. Thomas, "the bishop alone is head of the Church, he alone wears the nuptial ring of the Church, he alone possesses as of personal right the full power of dispensing the sacraments and the judicial power that the others only borrow. The priests who have the cure of souls are not true rulers but coadjutors of the bishop: the weaker we are says the bishop when consecrating them, the more we have need of such aids. And that is why it does not belong to them to administer all the sacraments."[862] Thus when the bishop, thanks to the plenitude of the power of order, has given his flock Christ and the grace of Christ, he keeps them, by the power of jurisdiction, in unity of belief and unity of action." The bishops says the Code of Canon Law, "have the right and the duty of governing their dioceses in both spiritual and temporal matters, with legislative, judicial and coercive power, to be exercised according to the rule of the sacred canons."[863] And again: "Although the bishops either singly or sitting in local Councils have no doctrinal infallibility, they are, nevertheless, under the authority of the Roman Pontiff, true teachers and masters of the faithful committed to their care."[864]

b. The bishop's jurisdiction is immediate. He can reach every member of his flock directly without having to go through any intermediary. In the thirteenth century there were some who contested this truth. In their fierce struggle against the mendicant orders, Franciscans and Dominicans, William of St. Amour and Siger of Brabant denied that jurisdiction to preach and hear confessions could be delegated to these religious. They maintained that the bishops, having given this double jurisdiction to the priests, could no longer resume it and delegate it to others, and that they themselves had no longer any right to exercise it in the parishes of their dioceses save only with the assent of the parish priests. The archbishop, they said, does not directly intervene in the suffragan dioceses save only to deputise, and it is the same with the bishop in the parishes. It was then, in defence of the mendicant orders, that St. Thomas wrote his Contra Impugnantes Dei Cultum et Religionem, in which he recalled the traditional doctrine on the jurisdiction of bishops and of parish priests: "There is no parity," he says, "between the relation of the priest to his bishop and that of the bishop to his archbishop. For the archbishop has no immediate jurisdiction over the diocesans of another bishop, save in matter specially referred to him [nisi ex appellatione]; but the bishop has immediate Jurisdiction over the parishioners of his priests, so that he can cite any one of them before him and cut him off from communion. . . The difference arises from the fact that the power of the priest, being imperfect, is under the power of the bishop both by its own nature and by the divine law. The bishop is subject to the archbishop only in virtue of a provision of the ecclesiastical law and within its limits. The priest on the contrary, who is subject to the bishop in divine law, is subject to him in all things."[865]

c. Lastly, the bishop's jurisdiction is ordinary, and properly his.[866]

With the Code of Canon law [867] we may call a jurisdiction "delegated" when it is merely lent to a person, and "ordinary" when it is affixed to an office. Ordinary jurisdiction is called "proper" when the office is exercised as by a second cause, and "vicarious" when exercised as by a mere transmitter in the name of another.[868]

The full and immediate power we have thus defined is held by bishops appointed to a diocese (residential bishops) in a proper way. The vicars and prefects apostolic, on the contrary, appointed to mission fields where as yet no hierarchy has been set up, hold it only, even when they are bishops (titular bishops, or in partibus infidelium), in a vicarious way. The residential bishops act in their own name as true second causes; the vicars and prefects apostolic act in the name of the Sovereign Pontiff as instruments and legates. Hence, while the vicarious jurisdiction of the vicars and apostolic prefects, which is of ecclesiastical law, can be made and unmade according to the will of the Sovereign Pontiff, the ordinary jurisdiction of residential bishops, which is of divine law, cannot be repealed. Christ who is "the shepherd and bishop of your souls" (1 Pet. ii. 25) wished to give His sheep dispersed through the world something more than mere itinerant missionaries, legates simply transmitting instructions from afar; he wished to give them responsible rulers, who should prepare them suitable daily nourishment, live with their life, partake of their destiny both spiritual and temporal, and share all their sufferings and joys. These are the true pastors of whom the Vatican Council speaks, whose jurisdiction carries on the permanent jurisdiction committed long ago to the Apostles by which each is to feed and rule—the particular flock assigned him, "episcopi qui positi a Spiritu sancto in apostolorum locum successerunt, tanquam veri pastores, assignatos sibi greges singuli singulos pascunt et regunt".[869] They are bound too, either in one way or in another, to give their lives for their sheep.

4. The Episcopal State Of Its Nature A State Of Perfection

We may now understand what tradition means when it calls the episcopal state a state of perfection. According to St. John Chrysostom the episcopal life is more difficult, but also more perfect, than the monastic life; for all the purity which the monk preserves in the desert and which enables him to say with St. Paul: "I live, now not I, but Christ liveth in me" (Gal. ii. 20), must be brought by the bishop into the midst of the world, so that, with all his sheep behind him, he may stem the current of the world.[870] St. Thomas takes up this noble doctrine. For him, the episcopal life demands perfection, at least initial, for its end is to bring souls to perfection; religious life demands only the desire for perfection. "Perfection is a prerequisite for the episcopal state and that is why the Lord, before committing the pastoral charge to Peter, asked him whether he loved Him more than the others. It is not a prerequisite for the religious state, since this is meant to lead souls to perfection; wherefore the Saviour did not say: If thou art perfect, go and sell all that thou hast, but: If thou wouldst be perfect. . . The reason for this difference is, according to Dionysius, that whereas perfection belongs to the bishop in an active sense, and as in one who brings others to perfection, it belongs to the monk only in a passive sense, as in one who is to be made perfect. To lead others to perfection one must be perfect, but this is not needed in order to be led to perfection."[871] We recognize here the spirit of Christianity, calling upon man to be more than himself; the episcopal state of life is above the life of many of the bishops, the sacerdotal state of life is above the life of many of the priests, the Christian state of life is above the life of many of the baptized. It is only the saints who rise to the height of their vocation; and yet they suffer more acutely than any from their own unworthiness. As for the others, it remains for them to recognize their defects, to repudiate them unceasingly in their hearts and in their lives, and to throw themselves, when they come to die, on the infinite mercy of God.

5. The Bishop Ruler, Pastor And Foundation Of His Own Particular Church In Christ's Name Alone

The head of the Church is the bishop; the head of the Church is Christ. Some appear to be puzzled when we confess both these truths. They find them irreconcilable, as though we gave the word "head "the same meaning in both propositions. So they offer us the choice, the bishop or Christ. And when we declare for both they talk of a bicephalous or a polycephalous Church. Scripture, however, which says that Jesus Christ is the foundation (1 Cor. iii. 11), also says that the Church is founded on the Apostles (Eph. ii. 20); it says that Christ is the Shepherd (John x. II), and the prince of shepherds (1 Pet. v. 4), and it also says that the elders are shepherds (1 Pet. V. 2). And did not Christ Himself say to the Apostles: "Whoso heareth you, heareth me" (Luke x. 16)? Where these people say "juxtaposition", all traditional Christianity along with the Scriptures says "subordination".

Consider, for example, the Epistles of St. Ignatius of Antioch. He writes to the Ephesians: "Every steward, sent by the master to govern his house, should be received as if he were the sender; wherefore the bishop should be regarded as the Lord Himself" (vi. I). And to the Magnesians: "It is the very power of God the Father that you should reverence in your bishop. Such, I believe, is the conduct of your holy priests: they have not taken advantage of his apparent youth; but full of the wisdom of God they are subject to him; or rather not to him but to the Father of Jesus Christ, the universal Bishop" (iii. I). And to the Ephesians again the beautiful words so often cited: "You ought to have but one mind with your bishop, and so indeed you have. Your venerable presbyterium, truly worthy of God, is fitted to the bishop as the strings to a harp, and so from the perfect accord of your thoughts and your charity a chorus of praise goes up to Jesus Christ. Let each of you enter this choir; then in the harmony of your hearts the very note of God will sound in your unity, and you will all sing together with one voice, through Jesus Christ, the praises of the Father; who will hear you, and by your good works will recognize you as members of His Son. Thus it is profitable for you to keep unbroken unity; and so enjoy a never-failing union with God Himself" (iv).

All is not yet said on the jurisdiction of the bishops. For besides their episcopal jurisdiction which is particular, and held as proper to themselves, the bishops, taken together and as a college, have always since the earliest days of the Church, participated in the papal jurisdiction which is universal.



1. Providential Reason For A Sovereign Jurisdiction

A. Monarchical Government Meets The Need Of Local Churches: Still More Of The Universal Church

The whole jurisdictional order of a particular or local Church, explains St. Ignatius, derives from the bishop. At Antioch the bishop was Ignatius himself; at Smyrna, it was Polycarp; at Ephesus, Onesimus; at Magnesia, Damasus; at Tralles, Polybius. But these local Churches were not independent; they were parts of a whole, members of a body, portions of the universal Church, of the Katholike: "Where the bishop appears, there let the people be; as wherever is Jesus Christ, there is the Catholic Church."[872]

By thus comparing the local community gathered round its bishop with the universal Church gathered round Christ, St. Ignatius shows that the unitary episcopate, precisely because it reflects the law that gathers the universal Church round Christ, the Prince of Pastors (1 Pet. v. 4), is more deeply stamped on the ecclesiastical structure than the collegiate episcopate; that it, and it alone, answers to the need for a definitive jurisdictional organization. In point of fact the plural or collegiate episcopate, which might have answered special needs, very quickly disappeared and gave place to the unitary and monarchical form; and this change may be seen to have begun during the lifetime of St. Paul.[873]

But St. Ignatius indicates another truth at the same time. The local Church is not a whole, a collective person in the strict sense, a perfect society. It exists only as a member of the universal Church, which latter alone is strictly a whole, a collective person, a perfect supernatural society. The universal Church, the Katholike, that is the first object of the divine solicitude. This is what Jesus calls "my Church" (Matt. xvi. 18), the "one flock" (John X. 16), "my kingdom" (John xviii. 36) which is to cover all nations (Matt. xxviii. 20). It is a single people gathered up from Jews and Gentiles (Eph. ii. 14). Behind the seven particular Churches of Anatolia to whom his Apocalypse is addressed, St. John personifies the unity of her historical existence in the image of the Woman fighting against the Dragon. For she is indeed a Person, the Spouse of Christ (Eph. v. 23; Apoc. xxi. 2 and 9), His Body (Eph. i. 23). She alone has the promise of indefectibility (Matt. xvi. 18), and not the local Churches; for as to these, by reason of their laxity, their candlestick may be removed out of its place (Apoc. ii. 5).

Thus the local Church lives within the universal Church as a part within its whole, as a member in the body. In consequence a very natural induction presents itself. If it is a structural law of each local Church, a law attested in the letters of St. Ignatius, and later in the De Unitate Ecclesiae of St. Cyprian,[874] that the supernatural unity of belief and action cannot be maintained save by the grouping of all the people around the bishop who, in all that concerns jurisdiction, manifests the authority of Christ and is, as it were, a continuation of His visible and corporeal presence—if this fundamental law is valid for the part, how should it not be valid for the whole? Obviously we must transpose it from the plane of the local Church to that of the universal Church; for the universal Church is no merely material juxtaposition but the organic assembly of all the local Churches: and a much vaster, richer, and more complex unity of belief and action can be maintained by the grouping of all around a single pastor; in all that concerns jurisdiction, he is a still higher manifestation of the authority of Christ than the bishop, and, as it were, a continuation of His visible and corporeal presence.[875]

B. The Reason For This Need: The Church, Founded Round A Single Visible Head, Is To Retain This Essential Structure

The fundamental reason for having a single visible head is that the Church was from the first gathered together by the authority of a single visible Pastor, Christ. Thus she could retain her primitive structure after His bodily presence was withdrawn, only if He placed her under the authority of a single visible head, and gave him the assistance he would need to be the age-long foundation on which she would stand, the depositary of the jurisdictional power which would open her doors or close them, and the sovereign pastor who was to rule her. Here we penetrate to the roots of the whole Christian hierarchy. The law of the Incarnation is always valid; Christ continues to save us as He began, by bodily contact with His sanctity. But, after His ascension into heaven, where He lives under His own appearances, He could maintain a sensible corporeal contact with us only by means of appearances not His own. So, just as He continues to make contact with us by His substance, under the appearances of bread and wine, so He continues to make contact with us by His action, under the appearances of the hierarchy. To be more precise still, He continues to make contact by exercising among us His external and sensible authority as Prince of Pastors; no longer directly in Himself as once He did, but through the ministry of a vicar, of a supreme visible pastor sufficiently assisted by Him to be, in all that concerns the jurisdictional order, the embodiment of His authority and the continuation of His sensible and corporeal presence.[876]

C. The Witness Of The New Testament To The Primacy

That is why Jesus, having come to the regions of Caesarea Philippi, said to that disciple who, speaking for the rest, had just confessed Him for the first time to be the Son of the living God,[877] that to him, to Simon son of John, an office would be entrusted; that he was to be the basis of the work that He would build in the world and would call His Church, not to be overthrown by all the powers of hell; that he should keep the keys that open and close here below the gates of the Kingdom of Heaven; that he should bind and loose consciences in the name of heaven: "And I say unto thee that thou art Peter and upon this rock I will build my church and the gates of hell shall not prevail against it. And I will give unto thee the keys of the kingdom of heaven, and whatsoever thou shalt bind upon earth shall be bound also in heaven, and whatsoever thou shalt loose on earth shall be loosed also in heaven" (Matt. xvi. 18-19).

That again is why, later on, having appeared to the disciples on the shores of the Lake of Tiberias, and having eaten with them a little bread and fish, Jesus, turning again to Peter, appointed him supreme pastor of His sheep and of His lambs: "When they had eaten Jesus saith to Simon Peter: Simon, son of John, lovest thou me more than these? He saith to him: Yea Lord, thou knowest that I love thee. He said to him: Feed my lambs. He saith to him again: Simon, son of John, lovest thou me? He saith to him: Yea, Lord, thou knowest that I love thee. He saith to him: Feed my lambs. He saith to him the third time: Simon, son of John, lovest thou me? Peter was grieved because he had said to him the third time, Lovest thou me? And he said to him: Lord, thou knowest all things: thou knowest that I love thee. He said to him: Feed my sheep" (John xxi. 15-17). We must either throw doubt on the Gospel or else admit that Peter is the foundation and supreme pastor of the universal Church for as long as it shall endure upon earth.[878]

What do we see on passing from the Gospels to the Acts of the Apostles, from the regime which preceded the Ascension to that which followed it? In the earlier regime, one Person only counts, one around whom the Church is built up, the Person of Jesus. In the later, another appears at the Church's centre, he to whom the promises were made, the person of Peter. It is he and none other who rises up "in the midst of the brethren "to pass sentence on Judas in their name, and to prompt them to choose a successor (i. 15-22). It is he who explains to the Jews the meaning of the life and death of Jesus, and of the events of Pentecost (ii. 14-36). It is he who exhorts them to receive the gift of the Holy Spirit through repentance and Baptism (ii. 38-41). It is he, Peter, and not John, who heals the lame beggar at the gate of the Temple (iii. 6). He explains to the people how all the Messianic prophecies have been fulfilled in Jesus (iii. 24). He asserts before the Elders of Israel that apart from Christ there is no salvation (iv. 12). He discovers the double lie of Ananias and Sapphira (v. 1-11). His mere shadow heals the sick who lie in wait for him (v. 15-16). In the name of the Apostles he proclaims that God must be obeyed rather than men (v. 29). He deals with Simon the Magician (viii. 20-24). He is warned by the Lord in a vision that the time has come for him to open the doors of the Church to the Gentiles (x and xi). He takes up the defence of Paul and Barnabas against those who reproached them for relying on the grace of the Lord Jesus alone and not on circumcision (xv. 7-11). And if Paul, in order to convince the Galatians of the excellence of his gospel and the absolute confidence it deserves, boasts of having resisted Peter himself at Antioch, on account of conduct that seemed to defer to the Judaizers (Gal. ii. 11-14), that is surely an indirect testimony to the prestige that surrounded Peter in the primitive Church. Peter's pre-eminence could have been recognized from the beginning only because it was founded on the Gospel promise.

D. The Three Ages Of The World: The Age Of Pentecost To Be That Of The Primacy Of Peter

Jesus, who announced the pre-eminence of Peter, also foretold the coming of the Holy Spirit. The book of the Acts of the Apostles shows us the simultaneous fulfilment of these two promises. The age of the Holy Spirit, which is to be the last age of the world, will also be that of the primacy of Peter. Can we discover the reason for this economy? It has been remarked that we can divide the world's history into three great epochs according to the three divine Persons, provided that we recognize that the age of the Spirit began with the Apostles, whereas the heresies have postponed the great outpouring of the Spirit that Jesus promised till long after Pentecost. But if we distinguish three successive ages it is not therefore to be thought that the reign of the Father was to disappear before the reign of the Son began, nor that of the Son before that of the Spirit. How are we to reckon these three ages?

With some of the ancients we can say [879] that the age of the Father preceded the Fall. Then God governed His people without visible intermediary and the Church was not yet constituted.

The age of the Son began after the Fall and continued till the death of Jesus: God then decided to gather His people round a Mediator, and the Church, which is the Body of Christ, came to birth. But first of all the Mediator has to be hoped for, awaited: and so we have the long preparatory period of the age of the Son which we have called the first regime of the Church.[880] Then the Mediator appeared: God governed His people through the human nature of Christ coming among us visibly to effect our redemption and to organize His Church. It was the epoch par excellence of the age of the Son. It was very short. It prepared the imminent coming of the Spirit.

The last age of the world is the age of the Spirit. God governs His people through the human nature of Christ, who has now entered into the spiritualizing light of glory,[881] and preserves contact with us through the hierarchy. This is the present regime of the Church. It is important to note that the second age came to add new benefits to the first: the providential action by which God had begun to sanctify the world did not grow weaker; on the contrary, it was intensified, when the Mediator appeared. And the third age in its turn will add new benefits to the second: "It is expedient for you that I go: for if I go not, the Paraclete will not come to you; but if I go, I will send him to you" (John xvi. 7).[882] The Holy Spirit is the supreme mystical personality of the Church; He continues to rule her in the third and last age of the world, through the heart and mind of this Christ whom God "has raised from the dead and set on his right hand in the heavenly places" to make Him Head over all the Church (Eph. i. 20, 22). The supreme unity of the Holy Spirit, as also the unity of the glorified Christ, both hidden from our eyes, must be externally expressed, so that their single voice may be audible to the senses of men. And they could not have chosen a simpler instrument, a clearer "sacrament" of their single and sovereign but invisible jurisdiction, than by investing with the supreme visible jurisdiction a single head who should gather all the Church around himself. Surely we have here the reason why the Gospel, which announces the age of the Spirit, the last age of the world, tells of the pre-eminence of Peter and his successors. We have here also the reason why the Acts of the Apostles, which relates the inauguration of the age of the Spirit, relates also the inauguration of the primacy of Peter and his successors. In a word, the age of the Spirit does not suppress the law of salvation by corporeal contact with Christ, and what has once been given us is not to be withdrawn: "Behold I am with you all days to the consummation of the world. "But, for immediate contact with the passible Body of Christ, it substitutes a mediate contact with His "spiritual Body", which is in heaven under its proper appearances and becomes accessible to us only under the veil of borrowed appearances.

E. The Pope's Power Derived Immediately From Christ; That Of The Bishops, Through The Mediation Of The Pope

The particular Churches are portions of the universal Church. They live only when they share the rhythm of the universal Church. When isolated or separated from her, their condition rapidly changes and they fall under an alien law. The regular pulse of life slows down, narcosis sets in, even decomposition. But the jurisdiction of their local bishops benefits them in that these Churches are kept in close union with the supreme source of jurisdiction in the universal Church. The bishops exercise their jurisdiction in dependence on that of Peter.

Christ, as we have said, bestowed on the Apostles immediately, besides certain exceptional and temporary powers of which they were the sole depositaries, the regular and permanent powers of which they were the first depositaries. However, although it was conferred on them immediately by Christ, the regular jurisdiction proper to each of the Apostles, which they would hand on to their successors, did not belong to all of them in the same degree or by the same right. Not in the same degree, for in Peter it was sovereign and universal while in the others it was subordinated and particular. Not by the same right, for in Peter it dwelt as in a fountainhead, in the others as something derived. It was by a special favour, as we have seen, that Christ Himself bestowed on the Apostles a jurisdictional power which, normally, was to reach them through Peter as intermediary.[883] The consequence of this doctrine is that as time went on the jurisdictional power would devolve differently on the Pope and on the other bishops. On the Pope it is bestowed immediately by Christ as soon as he is validly elected.[884] To the bishops it is given mediately, through the Pope: the Saviour, says Cajetan, sends down His power first on the head of the Church, and thence to the rest of the body.[885] When a Pope is created the electors merely designate the person, and it is Christ who then confers on him immediately his dignity and power. But, when the Sovereign Pontiff, either of himself or through others, invests bishops, the proper jurisdiction they receive does not come to them directly from God, it comes directly from the Sovereign Pontiff to whom Christ gives it in a plenary manner, and from whom it comes down to the bishops: somewhat after the manner of the life-pulse that begins in the heart and is transmitted thence to the other organs. And that is why the Sovereign Pontiff must not be conceived as merely designating bishops who then receive directly from Christ their proper and ordinary authority; but as himself conferring the episcopal authority, having first received it from Christ in an eminent form.[886]

The Encyclical Satis Cognitum of the 29th June 1896 confirms all this. Two passages are cited from St. Leo the Great on the eminent dignity of the Apostle Peter: "The divine condescension. . . if it willed that the other princes [of the Church] should have certain privileges in common with him, has never given save through him what it has not refused to the others [nunquam nisi per ipsum dedit quidquid aliis non negavit] [887] and "Although he received many things for himself alone, nothing was granted to any other without his participation [cum multa solus acceperit, nihil in quemquam sine ipsius participatione transierit]". Then Pope Leo XIII attaches to this principle the common doctrine according to which schism, in itself, deprives the bishops of all jurisdiction.[888] "Whence we see clearly that the bishops would lose the right and the power to govern if they willfully separated themselves from Peter or his successors."

However, to say that the bishops' jurisdiction comes down to them from the Sovereign Pontiff is not to say that it comes down to them by the mere will of the latter or in virtue of a free canonical provision. The power to bind and to loose committed to Peter alone, the supreme pastor of the Church, as in its source—"Whatsoever thou shalt bind on earth shall be bound also in heaven" (Matt. xvi. 19)—is, by a constitutional provision, to come down to the secondary pastors—"Whatsoever you shall bind on earth shall be bound also in heaven" (Matt. xviii. 18). The power of these last is doubtless derived, but they hold it by the express will of Christ. Their jurisdiction, although fully subordinated to that of the Sovereign Pontiff, belongs to them nevertheless by divine law, not merely by ecclesiastical law; in an ordinary and proper way, not in a delegated and vicarious way; as an indispensable degree of the hierarchy, not as an institution revocable by the Sovereign Pontiff. It is therefore impossible to imagine the Papacy without the episcopate; both institutions will endure as long as the Church endures, that is to say as long as the world endures.

F. The Profound Kinship Of These Two Powers

Thus the jurisdiction of the Pope and the jurisdiction proper to the bishops are bound up with each other. They are simply two forms, the one supreme and extending over the universal Church, the other dependent and limited to a local Church, of one same power coming from Christ, ordered to the eternal salvation of souls, and, of its nature, spiritual. Interfere with one, and whether you want to or not you interfere with the other. Obviously, if with the Presbyterians you reject the jurisdictional power of the bishops, you reject also the jurisdictional power of the supreme bishop, of the Sovereign Pontiff. It is rather less evident perhaps, but none the less certain, that if you reject the supreme jurisdiction of the Pope, with the Anglican or Oriental Episcopalians, you attack the indivisible scheme laid down by Jesus, apparent in Scripture and stamped on the life of the primitive Church, by which the bishop in the local Church is as the Pope in the universal Church. But if it is true, as we have admitted, that the bishops receive their proper and ordinary jurisdiction from the Pope, it becomes possible to give its full significance to the truth announced by the Vatican Council when, having asserted the primacy of the Roman Pontiff, it adds: "Far from being an obstacle to the ordinary and immediate jurisdiction by which the bishops established by the Holy Spirit as successors of the Apostles feed and rule, as true pastors, the flocks respectively committed to them, the power of the Sovereign Pontiff recognizes, confirms and defends it, according to the words of Pope St. Gregory the Great to the Bishop of Alexandria: My honour is the honour of the universal Church. My honour is the strength and prosperity of my brothers. Then am I truly honoured when the honour that belongs to each Of them by right is not refused them."[889]

G. The Particular Power Of The Bishops Ruled, And Sometimes Limited, In Its Exercise, By The Universal Power

The subordination of the jurisdictional power proper to bishops will explain the limitations that sometimes affect its exercise. It can, in fact, happen that what is needed for the general good of the Church as a whole, runs counter—up to a point, or for a certain time—to the immediate good of a local Church. Here again the universal outweighs the particular, the interest of the whole body that of one of the members, the glory of the Kingdom of God in the world, its glory in a diocese or province. Hence in certain circumstances the supreme spiritual power can partially restrain, in view of a greater good, not indeed the episcopal power itself, but its exercise. At the Council of Trent, for example, certain fully orthodox Bohemian bishops considered, that in their own dioceses they would be better able to contend with the Hussite heresy by re-establishing the custom of communion in both kinds for the laity; but the Council, having in view the needs of the whole

Church, adopted a different opinion. Similarly, the Pope can for the general good reserve to himself the granting of certain dispensations, the infliction or removal of certain sanctions, or the exemption of certain religious orders from episcopal jurisdiction and so on. The tendency of this general overseeing will naturally vary with the times; sometimes making for greater centralization, sometimes for less. But the essential characters of the hierarchy can in no case be changed.

H. The Apostolicity Of Jurisdiction

The infinite power of the Father sustains the power of Christ the eternal Pastor to whom all things have been committed in heaven and on earth; Christ's power sustains the power of Peter, the universal pastor of all the sheep; and this in its turn sustains on the visible plane, the power of the bishops, each the pastor of the particular flock committed to him. There we have the apostolicity of jurisdiction, a law announced in Scripture and stamped on the origins of Christianity. It is a law of hierarchy, of subordination.

Christ is the foundation, and none other can be laid (1 Cor. iii. 11), and Peter too, representing Christ, is the foundation on which the Church rests. Christ carries the Key of David, and none other can open or shut (Apoc. iii. 7), and Peter also has the keys that open and shut the Kingdom of Heaven. Christ is the Good Shepherd (John x), and Peter also is the shepherd of the same sheep and the same lambs.

The Pope is the head and ruler of the Church, but only on the visible plane, in the jurisdictional order, and in so far as he is assisted by Christ during the limited duration of his pontificate; on account of all these restrictions the Church cannot call herself the body of Peter, the body of the Pope.[890] The Son of Man, hidden in the glory of the Spirit, is Head and Ruler of the Church for all time, in an excellent and incomparable manner, bestowing on her not only truth, but also grace: hence the Church is truly His Body. And God Himself, in a still higher sense, is Head and Chief at once of Christ and of the Church: "The head of Christ is God" (1 Cor. xi. 3); and the Church is truly the Mystical Body of the divine Word.[891]

1. The Mystery Of The Incarnation As Related To The Eucharist And The Primacy Of Peter

To say that Peter, who was a man and could be only in one place at a time, was chosen for head of a Church which is divine and universal, seems to involve a union of contradictory attributes. But in Christianity, this saying is neither isolated nor strange. It has a familiar ring. It formulates a great mystery, but no new mystery; it is but a particular application of the astonishing mystery of which Christianity consists: God's will to envelop divine things in weakness, and to enclose infinite things in space and time. He began by demanding faith in the revelation that the fullness of the Godhead dwelt in a true Man—corporeally, and that the Creator of heaven and earth was born on our planet as a baby. Reconsider for a moment those two verses of St. Luke (i. 26-27) in which, to announce the descent of eternity into time, immensity into space, and spiritual liberty into the constraints of matter, every kind of geographical and genealogical detail has been intentionally accumulated. Later on came other words declaring that His Flesh would be true meat and His Blood true drink: words uttered to unite, but seeming to some to be intolerable, and thus dividing. Lastly, as if to keep in step with all this, He proposed another mystery, inferior no doubt but analogous, and chose, we will not say for His successor—that would be blasphemous—but for His Vicar, that is to say for authorized spokesman of His teaching and for depositary of an hitherto unexampled power, a frail man whose inadequacy He dragged to light, and whose denials He published in advance.[892] The Incarnation, the Eucharist, the primacy of Peter—these are the ordered manifestations, and as it were the successive levels, of one and the same revelation. There is a wisdom of the world that turns away from it at once. But there is also a wisdom that begins by being Christian, which begins to believe in the Incarnation, and then soon, when faced with the mystery of the Eucharist, or the mystery of the primacy of Peter, becomes disconcerted and goes no farther. It seems to forget that God is God, that He passes through matter without being diminished, rather turning it to His purposes and transfiguring it. When it comes face to face with integral and authentic Christianity it is quite ready to abuse it as materialism and paganism. Sometimes, by an obvious blunder, it opposes to belief in the Eucharist the words of Jesus on "the flesh which profiteth nothing"; it opposes the Western Church as Peter's to the Eastern Church as John's, as if the Evangelist par excellence of the Word made flesh (John i. 14), of a new birth by water and the Spirit (iii. 5), of the communication of life by the eating of Jesus' Flesh (vi. 58) could have revealed to the world a Christianity that dispensed with the Incarnation, with sacramentality, and with the visible primacy.

2. The Supreme Jurisdiction Does Not Belong As A "Proper" Power To The Bishops

A. The Sum Of Particular Jurisdictions Does Not Amount To The Universal Jurisdiction

The jurisdictional power is "proper" both in the Sovereign Pontiff and the bishops. It descends from the Sovereign Pontiff, who possesses it as its source, to the bishops, who possess it as a proper power no doubt, but derivatively.

At the stage of the sovereign pontificate as at the stage of the episcopate, the jurisdiction is wholly spiritual, wholly ordered to the same supernatural salvation of souls. So that whether it be found at the one stage or the other, it keeps its profound generic unity.

However, it appears in the bishops and in the Pontiff under forms that are clearly distinct. The jurisdiction proper to the Pope is universal. The jurisdiction proper to the bishops is particular. These two forms do not differ only in a quantitative way, according to more or less. They differ also in a qualitative way, in species. The universal Church is not simply a sum-total of particular Churches; and the jurisdictional order of the universal Church is not simply a sum-total of particular orders.[893]

If therefore each bishop, in virtue of his episcopate, possesses properly only a particular jurisdiction, it follows that the sum of the bishops possess, in virtue of their episcopate alone, only a sum of particular jurisdictions; which sum in no wise amounts to a universal jurisdiction. Supposing even, as Cajetan does, that after the death of a Pope all the bishops in the world meet and agree in a universal synod, there will then be a quantitative and cumulative jurisdictional universality; but, between that and the qualitative and essential universality of the supreme pastor there remains an abyss.[894] No decision, for example, belonging to the proper power of the Pope could be taken, no truth implicitly revealed could be explicitly defined.[895] And the dissident Graeco-Russian Churches, whatever fragments of authentic jurisdiction the Church in fact allows them and they still retain, seem to admit, in their own way, the justice of this doctrine by officially condemning themselves to dogmatic stagnation.

B. The Church During A Vacancy Of The Holy See

We must not think of the Church, when the Pope is dead, as possessing the papal power in act, in a state of diffusion, so that she herself can delegate it to the next Pope in whom it will be re-condensed and made definite. When the Pope dies the Church is widowed, and, in respect of the visible universal jurisdiction, she is truly acephalous.[896] But she is not acephalous as are the schismatic Churches, nor like a body on the way to decomposition. Christ directs her from heaven. There is no one left then on earth who can visibly exercise the supreme spiritual jurisdiction in His name, and, in consequence, any new manifestations of the general life of the Church are prevented. But, though slowed down, the pulse of life has not left the Church; she possesses the power of the Papacy in potency, in the sense that Christ, who has willed her always to depend on a visible pastor, has given her power to designate the man to whom He will Himself commit the keys of the Kingdom of Heaven, as once He committed them to Peter.[897]

3. The Supreme Jurisdiction Nevertheless "Participated" By The Bishops Associated With The Sovereign Pontiff And Forming The Episcopal College

A. The Collegiate Jurisdiction Of The Bishops United With The Pope

I have mentioned the proper jurisdiction of the bishops. It is distinct from the jurisdiction of the Supreme Pastor. The first is ordered to the good of a particular Church, the second to the good of the universal Church. And we know that the good of a whole and the good of a part differ qualitatively as to species, and not merely quantitatively according to more or less. However, the jurisdiction proper to the bishops derives from the jurisdiction of the Sovereign Pontiff. It is contained in the supreme jurisdiction as the lesser perfection is contained in the greater. It can therefore add nothing to it intensively; it can do no more than diffuse and refract its virtue. The power proper to the bishops and the power of the Sovereign Pontiff are indeed many powers, but they do not together make up a higher power: "Papa cum residuo Ecclesiae non est majoris potestatis jurisdictionis spiritualis quam ipse solus. . . Papa cum Ecclesia reliqua non facit majus in potestate, sed plures potestates", writes Cajetan.[898] In another field we should say similarly that the creation of the universe adds nothing to the divine perfection, that it does no more than refract it; so that after creation there is no more "being", more perfection, than there was before, although there are more "beings", more existing subjects.

But, besides this particular jurisdiction which they possess as properly theirs, the bishops, taken as a college, in virtue of their close union with the Sovereign Pontiff, participate in the universal jurisdiction proper to the Pontiff. And just as we distinguish, in the case, for instance, of a harp, the beauty of the sound it gives out at the touch of the strings, from the spiritual beauty lent it by the mind of the artist; or, in the case of a human arm, its mechanical from its intelligent activity; or in the case of Socrates' disciples or Napoleon's marshals, their own personal qualities from the added powers they gain from the genius of their master; so we must distinguish in the bishops the power of particular jurisdiction which finds in each of them its proper subject, from the power of universal jurisdiction which finds in them a supplementary subject. I have said that the particular jurisdiction of the bishops is distinct from the universal jurisdiction of the Pope; it is superadded to it, not so as to make up more power, "majus in potestate", but many powers, "plures potestates". On the other hand, the collegiate jurisdiction of the bishops is not numerically added to the universal jurisdiction, but is one with it.

In other words, the power to rule the universal Church resides first of all in the Sovereign Pontiff, then in the episcopal college united with the Pontiff; and it can be exercised either singly by the Sovereign Pontiff, or jointly by the Pontiff and the episcopal college: the power of the Sovereign Pontiff singly and that of the Sovereign Pontiff united with the episcopal college constituting not two powers adequately distinct, but one sole supreme power—considered on the one hand in the head of the Church teaching, in whom it resides in its wholeness and as in its source, and on the other hand as at once in the head and in the body of the Church teaching, to which it is communicated and in which it finds its plenary and integral subject.[899]

B. The Scriptural Basis

The great words in which Jesus laid upon His disciples the duty of preaching the Gospel to every creature were too pregnant with meaning to communicate all of it from the outset, and time alone could bring out distinctly the multiple powers they conferred. Apart from the transapostolic power promised to Peter personally, they assured the Apostles of: (1) the extraordinary powers of founding the Church; (2) the ordinary and transmissible powers of ruling her (a) by collegiate participation in the universal jurisdiction of the Sovereign Pontiff (b) by exercising a particular jurisdiction over the local Churches, as these appear in the Acts of the Apostles, the Epistles and the Apocalypse.

The second power, the regular, permanent, collegiate power to rule the universal Church, is not solely, but certainly comprised in Jesus' promise to all the Apostles: "Whatsoever you shall bind upon earth shall be bound also in heaven, and whatsoever you shall loose upon earth shall be loosed also in heaven" (Matt. xviii. 18). These words had previously been addressed to Peter (Matt. xvi. 19). They were addressed now to the whole apostolic college. What does that mean if not that the apostolic college was to share in Peter's power, that it was to share with Peter the supreme jurisdiction over the universal Church, and that this supreme jurisdiction was to be given first to Peter and to his successors, so as to devolve next on the Apostles and on their successors? [900]

The same thing emerges from Luke xxii. 31-32: "Simon, Simon, behold Satan hath desired to have you that he may sift you as wheat. But I have prayed for thee that thy faith fail not: and thou, being once converted, confirm thy brethren. "Perseverance in the faith was therefore to find its principle in Peter and thence to be communicated to the others. And so it was to be down the ages.[901]

Lastly, the Acts of the Apostles show us the whole of the apostolic college at work, and solemnly assembled in the first Council. For the sake of the universal Church they have to fix the discipline governing the reception of converts from paganism. The decision is taken not by Peter alone, but simultaneously by all: "For it hath seemed good to the Holy Ghost and to us. . ." (Acts xv. 28). These are the words of the Apostles and the presbyters.

Thus, the episcopate taken alone—for example during a vacancy of the Holy See, even though all its members are assembled and all are unanimous—and on the other hand this same episcopate in actual union with the Sovereign Pontiff to share in the government of the universal Church, represent two specifically distinct forms of the jurisdictional power. In the first the bishops perform only acts of particular jurisdiction. In the second they exercise, conjointly with the Pope, the acts of the supreme jurisdiction. They are not, as Melchior Cano remarks, mere theologian-consultors.[902] They have authority to decide. They declare the speculative truth to be believed and the practical truth to be observed by the whole Church.

The episcopate—the orthodox and legitimate episcopate of coursehas made frequent pronouncements in the past on questions concerning the life of the universal Church; on many occasions, for example, it has defined the faith and imposed a uniform discipline. The episcopate owed its oecumenical prestige throughout history, not to its own proper power but to the virtue of the See of Peter, whose authority, either tacit or express, never ceased to sustain it, lift it above itself, enlarge it and enlighten it. This consideration, whose scriptural basis we have seen, provides the key to the misconception into which those have fallen who, neglecting the distinction between what the episcopate has of itself and what it has from the See of Peter, have thought it possible to set up an opposition between the power of the See of Peter and the power of oecumenical Councils.

C. The Episcopal College Dispersed Through The World: Its Distinctive Signs

The oecumenical activity of the episcopate in union with the actually reigning Pope, can have (the difference is merely accidental) a double character: regular when the bishops remain dispersed over the world, each in his own Church; and exceptional, when the bishops are assembled in Council.

The bishops scattered over the world rule their local Churches. They do more. Because they are closely united to the Supreme Pastor and act with his tacit or expressed consent, they contribute to the preserving and explaining of the deposit of revealed truth all over the world, to the maintaining and formulating of the rules of the common discipline, and, in a word, to the ruling of even the universal Church. If, for example, there is question of the declaratory power, the episcopal body, in so far as accordant with the Sovereign Pontiff, becomes an organ by which the ordinary and daily teaching of the Church can be given to the world with true and absolute infallibility. The divine and Catholic faith, according to the Vatican Council, embraces all truths contained in the word of God, whether written or traditional, and proposed to our faith by the Church as divinely revealed, whether by way of a solemn judgment or by the ordinary and universal magisterium;[903] and Pius IX adds precisely that the exercise of the ordinary magisterium may be found in dispersion all over the earth: "Divine faith is not to be restricted to matters expressly defined by oecumenical Councils, or the Roman Pontiffs, or the Apostolic See: but extends also to matters set forth as divinely revealed by the ordinary magisterium of the whole Church dispersed throughout the world".[904] If now there is question of the canonical power, the episcopal body, inasmuch as it is united to the Sovereign Pontiff, will lay down in each epoch and each civilization, both doctrinal points arising in connection with the revealed deposit, and authentic moral and social duties; and it will establish customary usage.

But by what signs are we to recognize the true episcopal body?

The answer belongs to the treatise De Locis Theologicis. The most important sign is communion with the Sovereign Pontiff—since Peter was made perpetual head of the apostolic college.

Will a majority of bishops be a sufficient assurance? It is clear in any case that the majority as such is far from being a criterion of truth: "Scimus frequenter usuvenire ut major pars vincat meliorem, scimus non ea semper esse optima quae placent pluribus", says Cano.[905] Even in the case of a majority of bishops, good theologians think that they can go astray, contradict the Sovereign Pontiff, and even persevere in error. Thus Cano, and also Benedict XIV: "From the fact that the bishops assembled in General Council are true judges, it is not to be concluded that the Roman Pontiff is bound to decide in conformity with the majority of the judges and to approve their doctrine. For, as Melchior Cano remarks, if all the bishops are true judges, the Lord Christ has nevertheless committed the final judgment to His Vicar on earth and it is he who is charged with the duty of recalling all who waver, whether few or many, to the true faith: I have prayed for thee that thy faith fail not, and thou, being converted, confirm—not just this one and then that, but whether a minority or a majority—confirm thy brethren. The four hundred prophets of Achab did not prevail against the single prophet Micheas; so also the Arian Council of Rimini did not prevail against Vincent of Capua and those few bishops who remained faithful to the Bishop of Rome."[906] Clearly enough, in the canon of orthodoxy of St. Vincent of Lerins, "In the Catholic Church herself we must be careful to hold what has been believed everywhere, always and by all", the last clause, quod ab omnibus, must be understood only of those who make up the flock of Christ under the guardianship of Peter. It remains that, since the Church of Christ is always to endure, and since there is no Church of Christ without an episcopal body, it is absurd to imagine that the Pope can stand alone over against the bishops. Certain theologians even consider that Christ's promise to the episcopal body "Behold I am with you all days even to the consummation of the world", imply that the majority of this body will never desert the Sovereign Pontiff: "It is impossible that a majority of the bishops having jurisdiction in the Church, that is to say of the Catholic bishops, should teach anything which the Sovereign Pontiff does not teach either expressly or at least tacitly. It cannot therefore fall into error and break with the Holy See."[907] As for the future, we may recognize that if this eventuality does not appear "impossible" it seems at any rate highly unlikely.

The day-to-day relations of the episcopal body dispersed through the world with its head the Sovereign Pontiff, are now facilitated by the development of the means of communication; our modern techniques, like the old Roman roads, being no less serviceable for the expansion of the Kingdom of God than for that of the powers of evil.

However, the unity of the teaching Church is most effectively asserted when, exceptional circumstances demanding it, the episcopal body assembles in Council; above all in General or Oecumenical Council.[908]

D. The Episcopal College Assembled In Council

The law ruling the relations between the Sovereign Pontiff and the bishops, between the head and the members, is the same that will rule the proceedings of the Oecumenical Council. The rightful authority for calling them to council is the Sovereign Pontiff. Supposing the Council's inception to be irregular, it would not become a valid Council until authorised by the Sovereign Pontiff, whether expressly, or at any rate tacitly. Its decisions will not be decisive unless issued in actual collaboration with the Sovereign Pontiff, or unless ultimately ratified by him.

It follows that between the ordinary jurisdiction of a dispersed magisterium and the solemn jurisdiction of an Oecumenical Council, there are but accidental differences. But they are worth noting.

The first new element, where a Council is concerned, is a more solemn supplication to draw down on the Church a superabundant outpouring of the divine wisdom. Jesus Himself spoke of the virtue of collective prayer: "Again I say to you, that if two of you shall consent upon earth concerning anything whatsoever they shall ask, it shall be done to them by my Father who is in heaven. For where there are two or three gathered together in my name, there am I in the midst of them" (Matt. xviii. 19-20).[909] That is addressed to all Christians, not the faithful alone but also their pastors. It is there to sustain them on their journey towards the truth and to welcome them in the truth at each halting-place.

Next, we shall find a better and more sustained effort to prepare and arrange the speculative and practical statements to be defined. The Church here does not act as a pure instrument but as a responsible second cause entrusted with initiatives, and she can, in consequence, propose matters for infallible sanctions that vary in extension, complexity and subtlety. It would, for example, have been difficult for the Sovereign Pontiff to prepare by his own sole efforts such an organic whole of propositions, such a considerable body of doctrine, as that which was submitted for infallible definition at the Council of Trent.

There is, thirdly, a more evident and impressive collaboration when the final resolutions have to be promulgated and an unanimous and simultaneous profession of faith made by the whole teaching body of the Church. Their example is eminently calculated to win the whole-hearted adhesion of the faithful. And it is, finally, the pledge of a more speedy promulgation, a more even and exact application of measures taken for the higher welfare of the Church and the world.

Abundant fruits, said the Vatican Council, flow from Oecumenical Councils: "There it is that the sacred dogmas of religion are defined with the greatest depth, expressed with the greatest breadth, that ecclesiastical discipline is restored and more firmly established. . . that head and members are knit together and the vigour of the whole Mystical Body of Christ renewed. . . that our zeal is nourished to extend, even were it with our blood, the reign of Christ over all the earth."[910] More than fourteen centuries earlier, in 451, the Fathers of the Council of Chalcedon had written to Pope St. Leo the Great: "You have come to us, you have been the interpreter for all of us of the voice of the Blessed Peter, and have procured for all of us the blessing of his faith. And so, having profited from you as from our head in good things, we have been able to manifest the heritage of the truth to the children of the Church, not each elaborating a doctrine for himself in secret, but making confession of faith in one Spirit, in one impulsion, in one thought. And we formed a single choir, making our delights, as at a royal banquet, of the spiritual food which Christ, by your letters, had prepared for His guests. And we seemed to see the heavenly Spouse dwelling in our midst: for where two or three are gathered together in His name, there, He says, is He in the midst of them. How close then He must have been to the five hundred and twenty bishops who preferred the knowledge and confession of the faith of Christ to the quiet of their homes, and whom you, through those who took your place [the two legates of the Pope to Chalcedon] led with benignancy as the head leads his members. As for the faithful princes, they presided for the sake of decorum [ad ornatum, pros eukosmian like Zorobabel beside Joshua [I Esdras. iii. 2], and desirous, in his footsteps, to build up the dogmatic edifice of the Church like another Jerusalem."[911]

E. Its Members Mandatories Of Christ, Not Of The Peoples

Whether assembled in council or dispersed through the world the bishops hold their supreme and oecumenical jurisdiction from the Sovereign Pontiff. In either case they are subject to the same ordinance. They do not come to the council to inject any law of numbers, of proportional representation, of majorities, into the government of the Church. Whether they are primates, archbishops or simple bishops, whether they hold the smallest or the largest dioceses, they sit in council with complete parity of rights. They are not mandatories of populations. They are Christ's bishops, Catholic bishops. If there are many Christian countries in Asia or in America, and consequently many Asiatic or American bishops at an Oecumenical Council, it may happen—but merely accidentally—that disproportionate attention is given to the ecclesiastical affairs of Asia or America. What is certain in any case is that these questions will be settled, not by the help of a temporal light but by that of a divine light. It is not impossible for the law of numbers to play its part in drawing up the list of problems to be considered, and thus to intervene in the order of material causality. That, too, will be merely indirectly, and without power to prevail even in this sphere; for true bishops will always be Catholic before being of such and such a culture or colour, and the Sovereign Pontiff will well know how to recognize the general interests of the Church. But the law of numbers, though it may affect the list of problems, will never dictate the answer to these problems; it will never come into play in the order of formal causality.

Neither will prince or emperor give the law. They may receive all the honours. But you cannot judge the spirit of a true Oecumenical Council by the importance of the honours voted to the potentate who made it possible, or even perhaps convoked it or presided. I do not think anyone would maintain that the Fathers of Nicaea, the Roman See, or the Church herself, were spiritually governed by Constantine; or that if the Emperor had chosen to turn Arian the Council and the whole Church would have followed suit.[912]

F. The Church Of The Oecumenical Councils

The great orthodox Councils appear on the stage of history as confronting errors in faith and deviations in morals with the most striking reminders, the most solemn proclamations that the Church could make of the imprescriptible exigencies of the Gospel. They were not indispensable for the purpose of dissipating heresies. "Was a Council required, "writes St. Augustine, "to condemn the manifest error of the Pelagians? As if no heresy had ever been condemned without resort to a Council! Very few indeed, on the contrary, are the heresies in which recourse to such a thing was needed, whereas those which were condemned on the very spot where they appeared and notified at once to all the world as noxious, are incomparably more numerous. But Pelagian pride which exalts itself so haughtily against God that it would glory no longer in God but in its own free-will, is ambitious into the bargain to assemble East and West in council."[913] However, at certain moments when all was in doubt and confusion was spreading everywhere—even perhaps, as in the Arian conflict, in the hearts of the bishops themselves—the Church felt the need for gathering her forces and counting her children: "When they judged it useful, especially in times of grave perturbations and calamities for our holy religion and for civil society, the Roman Pontiffs, "says Pius IX, "have not neglected to convoke General Councils and to confer with the bishops of the whole Catholic world, whom the Holy Spirit has chosen to rule the Church of God, to concentrate energies, to decide prudently and wisely on all that can help to define the dogmas of the faith, to unmask new errors, to defend, illustrate and develop Catholic doctrine, to preserve and tighten the bonds of ecclesiastical discipline, to strengthen the relaxed morals of peoples."[914] It was the East that took the initiative in assembling General Councils [915] but the practice spread over the whole Church. The Church of the Roman Pontiffs is still today, as in the past, the Church of the holy Oecumenical Councils.[916]

4. The Supreme Jurisdiction, In Its Integral Wholeness, Lodged "First" In The Pope Alone

A. The Pope Vicar Of Christ, Not Of The Church

Our Lord said: "Simon, son of John, feed my sheep. "He did not say: feed your sheep. They were always to be Christ's. They are not to change masters. "I am the good Shepherd, "He says again, "and I know my sheep and my sheep know me. . . The shepherd calls his own sheep by name and leads them out" (John x). It is therefore Christ's sheep, not his own, that Simon Peter is to feed. It is in Christ's name, not his own, that he is to lead them out. That is the point to be recalled when one hears it said that Peter is the Vicar of Jesus Christ; since a vicarious power, as we all know, is a power exercised in the name of another.

Peter is the Vicar of Christ; not of the Church or of Christians. Jurisdiction does not come up from the Church to him, but comes down from him to the Church. Christ gives it directly and immediately to him, not first to the Church that she may hand it over to him.[917] And furthermore, He gave it him prior to any choice of a constitution by the Church.

B. The Sole Regime Of Divine Right

Certain theologians at the end of the Middle Ages, who wanted to put the Council above the Pope, contended that under the natural law every perfect society can choose, control and depose its own head. That is true of civil society, and, they went on to say, it should be true of the religious society, since it is a perfect society and since grace does not destroy nature but rather confirms it.[918]

They reason rightly of civil society. This latter arises neither out of an optional contract like a sports club or an art society; nor from a simple act of nature like a community of bees or ants. Neither artificialism nor physicism is valid here. It comes from a consensus of wills in conformity with the fundamental inclinations of human nature. Just as a profound inclination prompts men to marriage, although the domestic society ordered to the transmission of life is founded freely, so, all due proportions being observed, a profound inclination prompts men to live in society, although the political society ordered to the development of humanity, to the perfecting of the properly human values, material and moral, and, in a word, to the common good, is nevertheless freely constituted. The political community is willed in the last resort by God: first because He wishes the full development of the higher human values and of this "common good "which is "more divine "than that of each particular individual; and next because He urges men towards this common good by an inner impulse preceding all deliberation, an impulse which it will be for them to bring freely to fruition. But if the political community is willed by God, its management and conduct is left to human freedom. And God, who chooses the social form of life for man, makes no pronouncement in favour of any particular form of social life, for any particular political regime. The community, to be sure, must needs adopt a monarchical, or aristocratic or democratic or some other kind of regime; but there is no divine law that favours one rather than another; it remains free to choose its own fundamental constitution and even to change it when evident social necessity demands—for example when, the ancien regime being destroyed, the new one was sufficiently consolidated to be irreversible without grave disorders. If therefore, on the one hand, God Himself is the Author of society, and if, on the other, He leaves it the right to choose its own constitution and, on due occasion, to modify it, then it is true to say (1) that the "prince", the government, is the vicegerent or representative of the multitude (gerit vicem, gerit personam multitudinis,[919] (2) that he holds his authority from God without doubt, but indirectly, and thanks to the multitude which could have chosen, and could still on due occasion choose, another regime, and (3) that if the political community is of natural, that is to say of divine law, the various forms it can take—royal, aristocratic, republican—are due (even in the case of the Hebrew people) to none but human law, the jus gentium, the law of nations.

But if civil society chooses its own constitution and thereby decides the condition of its head, the Church is in a different position. "To understand her regime, "says Cajetan, "you have only to look at her beginnings. She did not emerge from any collectivity or community whatever. She was formed around Jesus Christ her Head, her Ruler, from whom all her life, perfection and power came to her. You have not chosen me, He said, but I have chosen you. Thus from the birth of the Church her constitution clearly appears. Authority does not reside in the community; it never passes, as in the civil order, from the community to one or to several heads. By its very nature, and from the very outset, it resides in a single recognizable prince. Since this prince is the Lord Jesus, who is to live and to reign yesterday, today, and for ever, it results that in natural right it was for Him and not for the ecclesiastical community to choose for Himself a vicar, whose role it would not be to represent the ecclesiastical community, born to obey not to command; but to represent a Prince, the natural Lord of this community. That, then, was what Our Lord Himself deigned to do when, having risen, before ascending to heaven, He chose, as St. John tells us, the Apostle Peter alone for His Vicar. And just as in natural right the Prince of the Church does not draw His authority from the Church, so neither does His Vicar, who depends upon Him and not upon the Church."[920] We conclude: (1) that the Pope is the Vicar of Christ, not of the Church; (2) that he holds his authority directly from God, the Church's election merely going to designate a successor for Peter; (3) that of all existing governments the Papacy is the sole government by divine right, the only one which is sovereign in the strict sense [921]

C. The Pope's Jurisdiction Pastoral—That Is To Say, Plenary, Immediate—And Ordinary Or Proper

The jurisdiction of the Pope is truly pastoral, truly episcopal; vere episcopalis est.[922] It is, in the universal Church, what the jurisdiction of the bishop is in a local Church: plenary, immediate, proper or ordinary.

a. First, it is plenary. Christ asks the Pope to feed all the sheep of His fold, to keep them in peace and protect them, to gather them together and rule them throughout the universe, and to lead them into the ways of truth both absolute and prudential, both speculative and practical. And for those of Christ's sheep who are not of the sheepfold, Christ would have them enter it so that there may be one flock and one shepherd (John x. 16); He died, as Caiaphas prophesied "for the nation, and not only for the nation but to gather together in one the children of God that were dispersed" (xi. 51-52).

The plenary jurisdiction of the bishops, taken simply as bishops, is restricted to a particular Church; it is exercised in dependence on that of the Pope; and it even derives from that of the Pope. But the plenary jurisdiction of the Vicar of Christ extends in act to the universal Church and in potency to the whole universe, omni creaturae; it is exercised in dependence on Christ alone and the Spirit; and it derives uniquely from Christ and from the Spirit. It is therefore plenary in a much larger sense.

The whole jurisdictional power is found first in the Pope alone. From him it passes over to the bishops. So that if the Pope in his own person, in his own inner life "quoad personam et merita" is certainly a part of the universal Church, yet the power of jurisdiction deposited in him is not a part added to other parts so as to constitute the Church's total jurisdiction. The power of the Pope is the whole power of the universal Church; the others are its participations, and designed to support it.[923]

And yet, continues Cajetan, all this power is given to the Pope for no other end than the service of the Church. She is greater than he, not in authority, but in worth and nobility. The Papacy is for the Church, not the Church for the Papacy: the end is always a nobler thing than the means. Hence the Pope calls himself the "Servant of the servants of God", and, so doing, he stands in the truth, "et sic est in veritate".[924]

b. The spiritual jurisdiction of the Pope is, furthermore, immediate. It is exercised on the whole body of the Church, and yet it can be exercised immediately over each one of the faithful, and is not bound to go through any intermediary whatsoever. In the thirteenth century, William of St. Amour and Siger of Brabant maintained that a bishop, in various important matters, has to go through his parish priests to reach his lay subjects, over whom he has therefore only a mediate jurisdiction; and similarly later on it was asserted that the Pope has to go through the bishops to reach the faithful, over whom again he has only mediate jurisdiction. But just as the virtue of the first cause is participated by the second causes without losing any of its privileges, so the jurisdiction of the Sovereign Pontiff is participated by the bishops without itself being in any way alienated or diminished; and Peter, who received the power to feed all the sheep of Christ without distinction, retains the right to feed each one of them directly.

c. Finally, the Pope's spiritual jurisdiction is ordinary and belongs to him in a proper way. It is not a "delegated" jurisdiction, that is to say one attached to a particular person for the time being, but an "ordinary" jurisdiction, that is, permanently attached to an office.

Ordinary jurisdiction is called "proper "in one who exercises an office in his own name; and "vicarious "in one who does so in the name of another. What is to be said of the jurisdiction of the Pope?

If we compare the Pope, visible on earth, with Christ, hidden in heaven, the Pope's power is, in divine law, "vicarious"; for he exercises it in the name of Christ. But if we ask where, in this world, the supreme spiritual jurisdiction resides, the answer will be, to complete the previous reply, that it resides, by "proper" title, first and in itself in the Pope alone; and then secondarily and by participation, in the episcopal college united to the Pope as body to head: and that it can reside "vicariously", but only in a partial measure as determined by Canon Law, in other subjects, such as the Roman Congregations.

The spiritual power of the Pope is undoubtedly unique and unparalleled. But it becomes unintelligible only when we cease to look at it in the light of the Christian mystery. I have said that if it be true that the fullness of the Godhead could dwell, as from a determinate moment of history, in a human nature like our own, it is no new mystery, but only an extension of the old one, which presents us with the Body and Blood of Jesus under the appearances of a little bread and wine, and with His external power to teach faith and morals behind the voice of a Galilean fisherman, a man from the ordinary run of men.

D. The Sole Remedy For A Bad Pope: A Text Of Cajetan's On Prayer

The Church has no power to change the form of her government, nor to control the destiny of him who, once validly elected, is no vicar of hers but Vicar of Christ. Consequently she has no power to punish or depose her head. She is born to obey. This truth may seem hard, but the best theologians have never attenuated it; rather, they have accentuated it. To make us aware of all that we ought to be ready to suffer for the Church, of how much heroism she can ask of us, they have proposed extreme cases. They have supposed a Pope who shall scandalise the Church by the gravest sins; they have supposed him to be incorrigible; and then they ask whether the Church can depose him. Their answer is, no. For no one on earth can touch the Pope.

In his Summa de Ecclesia (lib. II, cap. cvi) Cardinal Turrecremata pointed out several remedies for such a calamity: respectful admonitions, direct resistance to bad acts, and so forth. All these could, of course, prove useless.

There remains a supreme resource, never useless, terrible sometimes as death, as secret as love. This is prayer, the resource of the saints. "See that I do not have to complain of you to Jesus crucified, "wrote Catherine of Siena to Pope Gregory XI; "there is none other to whom I can appeal, since you have no superiors on earth. "And again, a little earlier in the same letter: "Take care, as you value your life, that you commit no negligence."

To the bad theologians who thought that the Church would be defenceless if not allowed to depose a vicious Pope, Cardinal Cajetan, who had seen the reign of Alexander VI, had but one answer: he reminded them of the power of prayer. For never has it such power as in such crises. We must always have recourse to prayer, as one of the purest weapons a Christian can use. But here it is not only a "common" means, i. e. one to be used along with others, it is the "proper" means, the proper instrument for the use of the Church in distress. "If you tell me that prayer is but a common remedy to be used against all the ills that afflict us, and that for the special evil that troubles us here we need a proper remedy—since every effect comes of a proper cause, not merely from general causes—I reply, in a general way, that the highest causes, although they play the part of common causes in respect of lower effects, play in fact the part of proper causes in respect of higher effects. And that is why prayer, which is to be put among the highest of supernatural second causes, is only a common cause of lower effects; but it is a proper cause and the proper remedy for the highest effects, such as would be—since it is matter reserved for God—the removal from this world of a still believing but incorrigible Pope."[925] The same author sufficiently indicates the sort of prayer to be offered when he reproaches his contemporaries for their manner of reciting the Divine Office and of celebrating Mass. Here he shows both the clarity of his genius and the charity of his heart. "The divine Wisdom, "he says, "who in the natural order governs lower things through the higher and these last through the highest second causes, acts in a similar way in the supernatural order, to which belong grace and faith, and the Church based on the faith. On the other hand, causes are proportionate to their effects, the highest causes having the highest effects. If then, on the one hand, the means available to human effort [providentia humana], even if super-elevated by the authority of the Church, are a force inferior to prayer, appointed as the highest of second causes by God, to whom all creatures, corporeal or spiritual, are subject; and if, on the other hand, a remedy against a bad but still believing Pope [926] is among the highest effects in the Church, it follows that God, in His wisdom, must have given the Church for remedy against a bad Pope, not now any of these merely human means which may avail for the rest of the Church, but prayer alone. And can the prayer of the Church, when she perseveringly asks things needful for her salvation, be any less efficacious than merely human means? Is not the fervent prayer of an individual soul who asks such things for himself, already efficacious and infallible? [927] If then the salvation of the Church demands that such and such a Pope should be removed, then undoubtedly the prayer we have mentioned will remove him. And if it be not necessary, why question the goodness of the Lord, who refuses what we wish and gives us what we ought to prefer?. . . But alas, it seems that we are come to the days announced by the Son of Man when He asked whether, on His return, He should find faith on the earth. For the promises relating to the highest and most efficacious of second causes are held to be of nothing worth. They say that we must depose a bad Pope by human means; that one cannot be content with resort to prayer and to divine providence alone! But why do they say that, if not because they prefer human means to the efficacy of prayer, because the animal man does not perceive the things of God, because they have learnt to trust in man, not in the Lord, and to put their hope in the flesh? So, if a Pope hardened in evil ways appears, his subordinates, without leaving their own vices, content themselves with daily murmurings against the evil regime; they do not seek to avail themselves, save perhaps in a dream and without faith, of the remedy of prayer; so that what Scripture predicts comes about by their fault, namely that it is due to the sins of the people that a hypocrite reigns over them, holy in respect of his office, but a devil at heart. . . We have become blind to the point of refusing to pray as we ought, while yet desiring the fruit of prayer; of refusing to sow, while still wanting to reap. Let us not call ourselves Christians any longer! Or if we do, let us turn to Christ; and the Pope, were he frantic, furious, tyrannical, a render, dilapidator and corrupter of the Church, would be overcome. But if we do not know how to overcome ourselves, what right have we to complain of being unable to break through the evils that surround us by prayers that not only fail to rise through our roofs, but do not even mount as far as our heads? And the worst of all is this: God of old upbraided His people for honouring Him with their lips while their hearts were far from Him; but in the days of the revelation of grace, God is not even honoured with lips, for nothing is less intelligible than the recitation of the divine office, nothing said more quickly than the Mass; the time given to these seems long, too long, but time enough is found for play, business and worldly pleasures, and for loitering over them endlessly."[928]

Thus, even though his private life should be grievously sinful, the Pope cannot be deposed. Immense scandal might be given, but his doctrinal infallibility would be unaffected. And it remains true that no temptation is superhuman. God, who is faithful, will suffer none who seeks Him to be tempted beyond his strength, and to each He offers inwardly the help that will enable him to overcome (cf. 1 Cor. x. 13).

5. Peter's Successor The Bishop Of Rome

On this subject I shall first set out an intermediate thesis which seems to me to be preferable. Then I shall mention two divergent and extreme positions, both represented by theologians of repute.

A. The Link Between The Roman And The Universal Episcopate: Manifestation Of The Apostolic Succession

If it be expressly revealed that the Church is to be visibly based on Peter and his successors till the end of time, it is ipso facto revealed that the line of Peter's successors will be recognizable till the end of time; and it is also implicitly revealed that Peter, by an exceptional privilege which he held till his death, could determine the conditions that would make the line of his succession recognizable. Whence arises a twofold question: what steps did he take to make it so; and how are we to know, with complete certainty, the significance of these steps?

1. What did Peter do to point out the line of his successors in advance?

He fixed his See at Rome, thus setting up a permanent bond between the pastoral power over the Church of Rome, and the pastoral power over the universal Church; so that those who should succeed him as Bishops of Rome would succeed him in the supreme apostolic authority. In other words, that Peter indissolubly wedded the Roman episcopate and the supreme apostolic authority appears in the light of a dogmatic fact. We believe it not only in virtue of a human certitude based on historical documents, but we believe it with divine faith. And if we are asked how it is contained in the revealed deposit we reply that it is a concrete determination of the Gospel revelation that the Church is to rest till the end of time on the visible and recognizable line of the successors of Peter.[929]

2. But how are we to know that Peter, when linking up the Roman and the universal episcopates, really willed the bond to be necessary and indissoluble?

The only enlightenment which we have to show us the real nature of it is that which Christ provides as He aids the magisterium of His Church. If it be asked whether this link is one of fact only—destined to be broken one day—or one of right, the second alternative is (it seems to me) better authorized, more in conformity with the declarations of the magisterium, and thus should be retained—with certain precisions which I shall indicate.

The Church's divine certitude that the Bishop of Rome is her universal Pastor has left numerous traces all down the Christian ages—in the measure indeed in which chance allows the survival of the documents of the past, but clearly enough for historians to grasp. Later on it received repeated solemn expression, for example in the Bull Unam Sanctam (1302): It is necessary for salvation for every human creature to be subject to the Roman Pontiff; at the Council of Florence (1439): The Roman Pontiff is the successor of Blessed Peter, Prince of the Apostles, he is the head of the whole Church, the Father and Teacher of all Christians; at the Vatican Council: [930] By the will of Christ, and therefore by divine law, the Blessed Peter, to whom was committed the primacy of jurisdiction over the universal Church, will always have a successor; the Roman Pontiff is this successor.[931]

B. This Link Not Foreseen: Effected By Absorption: Apparently Indissoluble In Right

If the fact of the conjunction of the universal pastorate with that of Rome is dogmatic, and to be held with divine faith, the explanation of the fact raises several questions. With what kind of necessity was the conjunction effected by Peter? What is its intimate nature? To what extent will it be permanent? The answers of the theologians to these three questions will enable us to see clearly what is meant by saying that the Church of Christ is Roman.

1. Supposing that Peter had lived, as he did at the outset, without fixing his Chair, his See, in any local Church: then his successor, in the same way, would not necessarily have had a Chair in any particular Church. Suppose that he had died at Antioch after having (as Origen, Eusebius, St. Jerome and St. John Chrysostom report) set up his Chair there: then his successor would have been Bishop of Antioch and the Church of Christ would have been Antiochene. Suppose once more that after transferring his Chair from Antioch to Rome he had taken it away from Rome to fix it elsewhere—that he had ceased, I do not say to have his residence at Rome, but his Chair, that is to say the episcopal See to which he would attach the sovereign pontificate: then his successor would have been Bishop elsewhere, at Alexandria, say, or Jerusalem, and the Church of Christ would have been Alexandrine or Jerusalemite.[932] If we look at the metaphysical possibilities alone, the supreme jurisdiction might either have been unattached to any particular See or might have been attached to some See other than that of Rome. The union effected by Peter was therefore due to no metaphysical necessity but to an unforeseeable decree of Providence.

2. In point of fact Peter united the universal episcopate to the Roman. How is the union to be conceived?

The episcopate of the universal Church and the episcopate of the local Church at Rome must not be imagined as two powers which, although coexisting in the same subject, would yet be actually distinct. For the local episcopate of Rome is absorbed into that of the universal Church somewhat as the king's capital town is into his kingdom; so that the Pope has but one episcopate. This episcopate is exercised simultaneously, on the one hand over the universal Church in which it is the generator of all the other particular and subordinate episcopates—the jurisdiction of all the bishops emanates, as we have said, from that of the Pope—and on the other hand over the particular Church of Rome, in which it is, on the contrary, exclusive of every particular episcopate: Rome can have no other Bishop than the Pope. Undoubtedly, if Peter had not united them, the universal pontificate and the Roman pontificate would have counted as two distinct pontificates: but now they make up a single pontificate with the Pope for subject.

For this state of things Cajetan seems to give only an historical reason: when Peter came to Rome he found no episcopate already there and so set up the universal episcopate at once in the still unoccupied place. Billot goes deeper: he recalls that the universal jurisdiction of the Pope and the particular jurisdiction of the bishops make up together, not indeed more power, but a multiplicity of powers; and that, says he, is possible because the Pope and the bishops are distinct subjects; but if the supreme jurisdiction and the particular are united in the same subject the second disappears into the first, and there is no longer either more power or several powers—just as, if we could put the scholarship of a pupil into the mind of his master, we should get neither more scholarship nor more scholars.[933]

Consequently, if the Papacy were conjoined with other bishoprics it would necessarily absorb them into itself, as in fact it absorbed the bishopric of Rome.

3. Is the Papacy attached to the See of Rome for ever?

I answer, yes. I think that in fixing on Rome, Peter was prompted by the Spirit who assisted the Apostles in founding the Church. He was expressly led, I believe, by the divine will to unite the Papacy to the See of Rome for all future time. It was, in other words, by divine right that the jurisdiction over the Roman Church was henceforth fused with the supreme and universal jurisdiction, and no one in this world can ever dissociate them. The Church of Christ, the Church of Peter, the Church of the successors of Peter, is Roman for ever. The title "Roman" is more than a merely historical one reminding us that after twenty centuries the primacy of jurisdiction remains attached to the Roman See; it is a prophetic title signifying that for all ages to come the primacy of jurisdiction will be linked with the See of Rome.

That the union we speak of is indissoluble is attested by the deep instinct of generations of Christians. In order to exalt the privileges of the successor of Peter the Fathers have often exalted those of the Roman Chair, thereby showing that in their eyes these privileges were inseparable. For example, for St. Ignatius of Antioch "The Roman Church presides over the charity"—that is to say, taking it in its most natural sense, over the unity—of the Church.[934] For St. Irenaeus, "it is with this Church [the Roman] by reason of its more powerful principality, that every Church should agree, that is to say all the faithful in all places for";[935] St. Augustine "it is in the Roman Church that the principate of the apostolic chair has always resided",[936] and so on. Hence we must not only say, with the Syllabus, that "no conciliar decree or popular will can transfer the sovereign pontificate from the bishopric and city of Rome, to another bishopric and another city", but that not even the Sovereign Pontiff himself can detach his authority from the See of Rome.[937]

We speak of the "See" of Rome, not of "residence" in Rome. The Pope can leave Italy, and go to Avignon. In ecclesiastical law, which is always revocable, he could even annex the episcopate of Avignon to the universal episcopate. He remains however, by divine right, the Roman Pontiff; and there can be no other legitimate Bishop of Rome. If Rome one day should be utterly destroyed, we should then have to say that the exclusive authority of the Pope over it would have become in fact without object, though continuing to exist in right. "Residence is one thing," says Perrone, "the See another. The residence is not so tied down to place that it cannot, for good reasons, be transferred elsewhere. The thing has often happened, above all during the long years of exile at Avignon. On the destruction of Rome, or its occupation by enemies of the Christian name, it would happen again. But the See associated with the Petrine authority cannot be detached or changed by any human authority. The Sovereign Pontiff might reside at Vienna, Milan, Berlin or St. Petersburg. It is impossible that the Bishop of Vienna or St. Petersburg should, as such, ever be Sovereign Pontiff. No matter where he lives the true successor of St. Peter will necessarily remain the Bishop of Rome."[938]

C. Two Extreme Opinions: Connection Not Indissoluble; Connection Indissoluble Even In Fact

To this solution of Perrone's, which I have adopted, there can be only one difficulty: if Peter fixed his See at Rome to indicate, by a prophetic sign, the Chair of his authentic successors, then, if Rome were destroyed, or if persecution scattered all the Christians it contained, so that it had no longer a bishop in fact, would then the authentic line of Peter's successors be recognizable any more, and would it not be deprived in any case of the distinctive sign by which the Apostle intended to mark it for ever?

Supposing this objection were insoluble we should have to explain the fusion of the Roman and universal episcopates otherwise than as I have here explained it. We should have to choose between two extreme theses.

a. The first is that of John of St. Thomas. He explains to perfection that it is of divine faith that the Papacy and the Chair of Rome were united in the past and still are so today. Is this union indissoluble? That, says he, is another question. And logically he is right: it is of faith, for example, that the Papacy has been associated in the past, or is so today, with a person, e. g. that of Benedict XV or of Pius XII; but this union is temporary and death dissolves it. Was the Papacy attached to Rome only in some such temporary manner?

John of St. Thomas believes so. He thinks that in fixing his seat at Rome St. Peter was the executor of a decision left to his free initiative, and not the instrument of an irrevocable will of the Holy Spirit; that he then acted merely as a Pope preserving the Church of Christ, not as an Apostle founding the Church of Christ; that the bond between the Papacy and Rome is of reformable ecclesiastical law, not of irreformable divine law.

Now what derives only from the will of a Pope, the will of another Pope can change. So John of St. Thomas grants it not absurd to imagine, as certain Fathers have done when speaking of the days of Antichrist, a total destruction of Rome. Then, says he, the Pope would cease to be Bishop of Rome, and could, at his discretion, either remain without a See or choose for See some other particular bishopric, which would then belong to him by the same title as the former bishopric of Rome.

The denomination of the Church as Roman would then become merely historical. We should continue to speak of the Roman Church as we speak of the Church of St. Leo, the Church of St. Gregory, or the Church of Pius V.[939]

There is, of course, no difficulty in imagining the disappearance of the temporal Rome before the end of human history. But in the texts of the solemn magisterium proclaiming the Roman Pontiff as head of the universal Church it seems to me difficult to see the simple acknowledgement of a temporary connection, in place of a stable truth involving the future.

b. Other theologians seem to link up the fate of Rome and that of the Papacy too closely. They consider—as I also would maintainthat the Papacy is joined to the See of Rome by express will of the Holy Spirit, and so by a necessity of divine law, since it will never be joined, for example, to the See of Ostia. They hold consequently, as again I would agree, that this union is, in right, indissoluble, indestructible. But they add that it is indestructible even in fact. They think that the Papacy will always have Rome at its disposal, that the local Church of Rome will never fail the Pope. They therefore hold it to be impossible that Rome should ever lack clergy or faithful;[940] or again, for it seems indeed to be bound to come to this, that the city of Rome, the soil of Rome, should ever disappear: Rome, even materially, would be eternal, as eternal as the Church militant herself.

To these extremes I prefer the middle position of Perrone. And to the objection made against it the reply is, I think, that on the day when the Church of Rome, or Rome itself, were to disappear, the authentic line of the successors of Peter would undoubtedly lose one of the positive signs that make it recognizable, but it would still be indicated by this negative sign among others: all those who formed the links of the chain of succession would be Bishops of Rome "by right"; and if they were not so "in fact", it would be solely because the Church of Rome, or Rome itself, would have ceased to exist.

D. "Roman Church" A Name Of Humility But Also Of Miracle

The true Church is the Church of the true Pope, of the true successor of Peter; but the true Pope is, by divine law as we have said, the legitimate Bishop of Rome. He then who sees by what precise title the true Pope is Roman, sees at the same time by what precise title the true Church is Roman. Yet "Roman" is not her interior, comprehensive and essential name, but merely her concrete, obvious and easily apprehensible name. When the Christian communities of the Far East, converted from paganism by St. Francis Xavier, and left without priests for two hundred years, once more saw new missionaries disembark, they recognized them simply by asking whether they obeyed the "white robe".

"Jesus of Nazareth, a man approved of God. . ." (Acts ii. 22); Jesus of course was more than that; however, He was truly that; and if Peter wept bitterly for having denied this name of humility, it was in the thought that his Master had become a Nazarene only that He might dwell among us, and that this name was, at bottom, one of the dearest names of His love. We may say, perhaps, in a similar way that "Roman" is the name of servitude of the divine Church, her name of humility, borrowed from a corner of the earth, since to save the world she cannot but know subjection in her turn to the bonds of space and time.

It is already, at the same time, a name of miracle. It tells us directly—not in virtue of a mere metonymy, but of a real promotion of the Roman episcopate to the universal episcopate—where to find the spiritual power that Simon, son of John, received from Jesus on the shores of the Lake of Tiberias, and was to deposit in the bosom of the Christian community founded in pagan Rome, in Babylon (1 Pet. v. 13), that thence he might unify the Christians of the world.

E. The Pope, As Such, Roman, Never Italian; He Alone Subject Of No State; Sense In Which His Sovereignty Is Foreign

The Pope, as we have said, will always be Roman. If one day he should be Bishop of New York, Valparaiso, or Nazareth, that will be additionally and by ecclesiastical law, not primarily and by divine law. Possibly the Pope will never be the Bishop of these places, but it is impossible that he should not be in fact, as long as Rome exists, the one legitimate Bishop of Rome. But if the Pope as such is always Roman, the Pope as such is never Italian, never a subject of the Italian state, or of any other state whatever.

Spiritual jurisdiction is above temporal jurisdiction. The person in whom it resides in its fullness is above those in whom resides the fullness of temporal jurisdiction. He is absolutely free, absolutely independent of any temporal power.

The jurisdictional measures he will take for the supernatural good of souls will doubtless never concern the temporal as such, that is, the purely temporal; but they cannot fail to have immeasurable repercussions on the temporal order, which, being a human order, necessarily includes intellectual and moral values demanding of themselves to be vivified by the spiritual, and to be referred (as pure means or intermediate end) to the common good of eternal life, to God Himself.

If the Sovereign Pontiff were the subject of any state, he would be bound, in certain respects at least, to serve its interests. The supreme spiritual jurisdiction over the universal Church would thus be limited and controlled by the temporal jurisdiction of a state, the Church would be a State Church, a monstrosity; Catholics, as such, would have in effect to obey a foreign temporal prince. In reality, the other Kingdom to which they belong, if it is in this world, is not of this world. The other sovereignty they obey, if "foreign", is not so only with respect to some particular temporal principate, it is so with respect to the whole order of temporal principates. If on occasion it has taken them out of the hands of their political rulers, it has been in the strict measure in which these political rulers have taken them out of the hands of Christ; it has no ambition to take them from their temporal societies in order to subject them to some other temporal society, not even to a pontifical society, however legitimate, however necessary this last may be.

It is an error to believe, as the Anabaptists did in the past, that Christians are free from the State, that when they become children of God they are released from their duties as citizens. St. Peter and St. Paul reminded the first Christians of their civic obligations. Christians belong simultaneously both to the Kingdom of God in which they have to act in their capacity as Christians, and to the kingdoms of this world in which they have to act in their capacity as citizens, but after the manner of Christians, not like pagans. This distinction, it may be, does not make things too easy, and may result in numberless cases of conscience. It cannot, in any case, be denied without falling into heresy. The line that separates our duties to the Kingdom of God and our duties to the kingdoms of this world, divides the hearts of Christians. They have to witness to their Master twice over: by working to build up the spiritual kingdom, the Church, the visible Body of Christ; and by working to save the temporal order, to purify it, to quicken it by grace, to Christianize it, and to orientate it as an intermediate end towards the higher goods of eternal life;[941] and that too without destroying its autonomy, without reducing it to the condition of a pure means. If the activities of Christians are thus divided, that is not, properly speaking, due to the essence of charity and to the essence of the spiritual Kingdom; for the supreme law of charity and of the spiritual Kingdom, which will appear in the heavenly Jerusalem, is a pure law of unity. It is due rather to the conditions under which charity and the things of the spirit have to exist in history, conditions in which the relations between the spiritual and the temporal are ruled by a law of distinction, of duality. The spirit of evil will do all it can to turn this into a law of opposition; but in the divine plan it is to remain a law of concord and of hierarchy, since the two tasks of the Christian, his spiritual task and his temporal task, are closely interdependent: to build up the Kingdom of God is already to begin to save the kingdoms of this world, and to save the kingdoms of this world, to save them truly, is not possible without bringing them under the radiance of Christian charity. But however real is the interdependence of the spiritual and temporal tasks of the Christian, it does not dispense with all division of labour, with all specialization of Christian activities. There will be specialists in Christian spiritual activity who will act more as Christians as such, and specialists in temporal activity who will act simply as Christians. In virtue of the deep vital unity of the Church, the Body of Christ, in which no member can work save by help of all the others and in view of all the others, the purely spiritual specialists will really participate in the undertakings of those of their brothers who are concerned with bringing the radiance of charity into the heart of the affairs of this world; and these latter will really participate in the prayer and action of those who work in the inner depths of the spiritual Kingdom. For it is one same person, one same Church whose members they are, who, through both of these, in unanimous effort, works to build up the Kingdom of God and to save the kingdoms of this world.

Among the specialists of spiritual activity we must put, besides those laymen vowed to "Catholic action", all those Christians who, whether by reason of their functions and offices as clerics, or by reason of the state of life as religious (assimilated on this point with clerics by the Code of Canon Law), have a right to ecclesiastical immunities, and escape to a certain extent the order of the civil society. They are not freed from it altogether. They continue to depend in part on the kingdoms of this world, in which they have to act in a Christian manner, endeavouring by their spirit of justice to bring the whole temporal order of their country into the light of Christianity. That is as true of bishops as of other clerics: if they too have to observe the just laws of their respective countries, it is not as the promulgator of the law is bound to obey the law, to set the example, "quantum ad vim directivam legis", but like any ordinary citizen by obedience "quantum ad vim praeceptivam legis".[942]

But if the bishops, like the rest of the clergy and faithful, are members at once of temporal kingdoms and of the Kingdom of God, it is otherwise with the Sovereign Pontiff. The plenary spiritual jurisdiction that comes to him from Christ takes him necessarily and wholly beyond all jurisdictional subjection. He is the subject of no state (if he is the citizen of any country, it will be of the Pontifical State alone, of which he cannot but be the Prince). It is a privilege that can indeed be invaded in respect of its exercise, but cannot in itself be voided or alienated. This essential privilege of which the States of the Church and the little Vatican City were later to be emblems, already belonged to St. Peter. The first Christians were subjects of the Empire, and he took care to warn them to be "subject therefore to every human creature for God's sake: whether it be to the king as excelling, or to governors as sent by him for the punishment of evildoers and for the praise of the good" (1 Pet. ii. 13-14). But he himself, by reason of the power he held from Christ, was free. If, in actual fact, he obeyed the Imperial laws, he did so in the recollection of the still recent drama in which he had been an actor at Capharnaum: "What is thy opinion, Simon? The kings of the earth, of whom do they receive tribute or custom? Of their own children or of strangers? And he said: Of strangers. Jesus said to him: Then the children are free. But that we may not scandalise them, go to the sea and cast in a hook, and that fish which shall first come up, take: and when thou hast opened its mouth thou shalt find a stater: take that and give it to them for me and thee" (Matt. xvii. 25-27). For me and thee: already he was no more bound to pay the tax than Jesus.[943]

F. On The Present Custom Of Choosing The Pope From Among The Italian Cardinals

The Pope, of course, before he was Pope, was the subject of some state; and belonged moreover to some particular race and culture. In this sense we can speak of Italian, Greek, Spanish, German and English Popes. For four centuries past it has been customary, as everyone knows, to choose an Italian for Pope—the last non-Italian Pope, Adrian VI, a Dutchman, elected at the suggestion of Cardinal Cajetan, died on the 14th September 1523. Why this custom? I can see only one answer: that the advantage of a "peaceful election" would seem to be better secured, in our time, at any rate, by the designation of an Italian. When nationalist rivalries have become so acute and so susceptible this seems the best way to evade them.

The custom has not always prevailed and new circumstances, such as the present far-reaching transformation of the world, might alter it. It would be a grave error in any case to seek to lend it any other meaning, to imagine, for example, that it symbolises a secret identification of the Roman Church with Latin culture or nationality. No theologian will lend himself to such an aberration. There are, however, those who work to give it currency. Hence the bizarre reaction that started some years ago in New York. Some of the faithful, fearing that the true Church was becoming nationalized, set out to internationalize her. The project they drew up and sent to the Holy Father, the cardinals, the bishops, the vicars apostolic, the generals of orders and the rectors of Catholic universities proposed to assimilate the organization of the Church to that of the League of Nations.[944] It did not directly mention the election of the Sovereign Pontiff, but it was easy to divine its thought on the matter: the Popes, in justice, should be chosen from the several nations in rotation—after an Italian Pope, then a French Pope, then a German one, then an English and so on.

Those who think that justice and the true nature of the Church demand that the Pope should be chosen in turn from the various nationalities, seem to think of the Church as of a confederation of Catholic nations, and of the Pope as their delegate ex aequo on the pontifical throne. But the Church is supranational and neither national nor international. To make this rule of national rotation a condition of just and normal election, is not really to rise above national considerations, but rather to bring the law of nationality into the spiritual domain; and even indeed the law of number. The Code of Canon Law says that "the Cardinals are freely chosen from all over the world by the Roman Pontiff".[945] That is to have regard to the different nations and the number of faithful in each in the proper way, namely as a factor of merely material causality. It is not to introduce either the law and rule of nationality or the law and rule of number into the election of the cardinals. The project in question would have the cardinals taken from the various nations "proportionally to the number of the faithful in each". This number becomes a formal rule in the election of cardinals and, consequently, in the election of the Pope.

It goes without saying (and this is another question) that the organization of the Church should take account of the varying conditions of her children, and that as her Catholicity goes further afield she will spontaneously tend to find places in her hierarchy for the representatives of various peoples, languages and races. That there is plenty of room for further development here is clear enough.[946]

"Roman "Church, in any case, does not mean Italian Church nor Latin Church. The waves of the Mediterranean might meet over Italy and the Latin culture might crumble away in the chances and changes of history, but the eternal Church will remain Roman, the Church of Peter, whose universal pontificate is linked, for as long as Rome exists, with the Roman pontificate.

6. The Vatican Definition Of Papal Infallibility

A. The Different Forms Of Assistance Bestowed On The Pope

"The apostolic primacy which the Roman Pontiff holds over the universal Church as successor of Peter, Prince of Apostles" covers, besides the supreme disciplinary power, "the supreme magisterial power",[947] the aid of the Holy Spirit having been promised to the successors of Peter so that "not doubtless by way of revelation enabling them to publish any new doctrine, but by way of assistance, they should guard as a sacred trust and faithfully expound the revelation handed down by the Apostles, to wit, the deposit of faith".[948] So, as we see, it is the highest task of the pontifical magisterium, which is to guard the revealed truth, that the Council of the Vatican proposes to define in a precise manner and to proclaim solemnly; thus closing the medieval discussions about the respective authorities of Pope and Council.

The theologians point out that the Pope can be considered as a private person, as a particular theologian, the author for instance of a theological work or a treatise on Canon Law, and so on; or as the Sovereign Pontiff and ruler of the Church. From the first standpoint he does not differ from other theologians; he is, as they are, liable to err. It is only in the second capacity that he is protected by the various forms of divine assistance we have recognized. In imitation of the moral philosophers who carefully distinguish the "acts of the man "proceeding from our psychological mechanism (reflex acts), and "human acts" proceeding from deliberation (responsible acts), we may here distinguish the "acts of the Pope", in which the Pope does not engage his supreme jurisdiction, and "pontifical acts", in which he engages his authority as Vicar of Christ. The divine assistance concerns these "pontifical acts", not the "acts of the Pope". With all the less reason does it concern the acts of a dubious Pope or an Antipope.

Let us furthermore recall that the assistance promised to pontifical acts can be either fallible or infallible, and with an infallibility which, according to the case, may be simply prudential, or, on the contrary, absolute.[949] Now it is solely the absolute infallibility of the Sovereign Pontiff, teaching either truths proposed expressly as revealed or truths proposed simply as irrevocable, which is defined in the fourth chapter of the Constitution Pastor Aeternus.

B. The Vatican Definition

Here is the definition:

"The Roman Pontiff, when he speaks ex cathedra, that is to say when in the exercise of his office of pastor and teacher of all Christians he, in virtue of his supreme apostolic authority, defines that a doctrine of faith or morals is to be held by the whole Church, by the assistance of God promised to him in the person of Blessed Peter, has that infallibility with which it was the will of our divine Redeemer that His Church should be furnished in defining a doctrine on faith or morals; wherefore such definitions of the Roman Pontiff are irreformable in themselves and not in virtue of the consent of the Church."[950]

Here, as we see, there is question:

a. of pontifical acts, in which the Pope is acting as pastor and doctor of all Christians,

b. and engaging his authority solemnly (ex cathedra), absolutely and irrevocably (definitio irreformabilis),

c. to define a doctrine either speculative or practical in content (doctrina de fide vel moribus).[951]

The first chapter of the Constitution Pastor Aeternus condemned the error of those who think "that the primacy of jurisdiction was given immediately and directly, not to Peter himself, but to the Church, so as thence to devolve on Peter as representative of the Church".[952] The same error could be committed in respect of the infallibility. It does not pass upwards from the Church to the Pope, who is the Vicar of Christ Himself and not of Christians. Consequently the definitions of the Roman Pontiff are irreformable of themselves, ex sese; they do not get their infallibility from majorities nor from the general will, non autem ex consensu Ecclesiae.[953] The Pope indeed can never be isolated from the episcopal college nor from the Church, but he is not the delegate of the Church; he is, as Peter was, the delegate of Christ and the head of the Church. He is no mere echo of the collective consciousness of the Church; he is the infallible judge of the doctrinal consciousness of the Church. Hence it is the Sovereign Pontiff himself with whom the whole Council actively associates itself—itaque nos. . . sacro approbante concilio, docemus. . . et definimus,—who, in the Constitution Pastor Aeternus, solemnly defines his own infallibility.

C. The Revelation Of Infallibility Contained In The Gospel

The Council could define only a truth contained in the primitive revealed deposit. Where then is the revelation of the infallibility of Peter and his successors?

It is contained implicitly in the two great revelations made by Our Lord to Peter, reported respectively by St. Matthew and St. John.

At the end of St. Matthew's Gospel, Jesus, to whom all power has been given in heaven and on earth, sends His disciples to evangelize the world, promising His assistance till the end of the world. What is explicitly designated here is the indefectibility of the teaching Church. But the teaching Church, and every believing Church sustained by her, has Peter for foundation (Matt. xvi. 13-20). To say that the Church is truly indefectible, and that it is truly based on the assistance promised to Peter, is to say in a way that is as yet implicit but already real that the assistance promised to Peter is indefectible.

In the same way, it is explicitly affirmed at the end of St. John's Gospel (xxi. 15-17) that Jesus, who was about to withdraw His visible presence from the world, chose Peter as the pastor of all His sheep. But the visible flock of the sheep of Christ is indefectible; it should even grow greater with sheep who already belong to Christ in secret but are still visibly wandering (x. 16). To say that the flock of Christ has a visible pastor on earth, and to say that this flock is indefectible, is to say in a way that is still undoubtedly latent, but real, that the visible pastor of the Church is, as such, indefectible.

There is besides, and it should be considered as explicit inasmuch at least as it directly concerns the person of the Apostle, the revelation of the infallibility of Peter found in St. Luke: "Simon, Simon, behold Satan hath desired to have you that he may sift you as wheat. But I have prayed for thee that thy faith fail not: and thou, being once converted, confirm thy brethren. Who [Peter] said to him: Lord I am ready to go with thee both into prison and to death. And he said: I say to thee, Peter, the cock shall not crow this day, till thou thrice deniest that thou knowest me" (Luke xxii. 31-34).[954] It was all the Apostles that Satan wanted to sift like wheat. It was for all of them too that Jesus prayed in His sacerdotal prayer: "I pray for them. . . Sanctify them in truth. Thy word is truth. As thou hast sent me into the world, I also have sent them into the world. And for them do I sanctify myself: that they also may be sanctified in truth. And not for them only do I pray, but for them also who through their word shall believe in me. . ." (John xvii. 9-20). This divine prayer, however, will not be effective without any other means at all. The Apostles themselves and all the faithful are to be confirmed in the faith from without by one of their own band. As well as the prayer for all, there is the prayer for Peter, a special prayer: a privilege has been bestowed on him; the word to come from him was to enlighten all the world, and to be so potent an aid for believers that it would enable them to overcome all the wiles of Satan: "I have prayed for thee that thy faith fail not, and thou, being once converted, confirm thy brethren."[955]

D. Infallibility Not Impeccability

But Scripture contains another lesson, and the insistence with which it opposes Peter's privileges to his ignorances and faults, leads us to make clear distinction in his successors, between infallibility and impeccability. St. Luke has hardly finished reporting the prayer offered for Peter's constancy than he goes on to announce Peter's impending treason. St. Matthew has hardly drawn his picture of St. Peter inspired by the Father to confess the divinity of Christ (Matt. xvi. 16-19), than he represents him as invaded by the spirit of darkness and incurring Jesus' anathema: "Go behind me, Satan, thou art a scandal unto me; because thou savourest not the things that are of God, but the things that are of men" (Matt. xvi. 23).

Soloviev saw the antinomy very clearly. "Are we to follow our Graeco-Russian controversialists in placing this text (Matt. xvi. 23) in opposition to the one before it (Matt. xvi. 16) and so make Christ's words cancel each other out? Are we to believe that the Incarnate Truth changed His mind so quickly and revoked in a moment what He had only just announced? And yet on the other hand, how are we to reconcile 'Blessed' and 'Satan'? How is it conceivable that he who is for Our Lord Himself a 'rock of offence' should yet be the rock of His Church which the gates of hell cannot shake? Or that one who thinks only the thoughts of men can receive the revelation of the heavenly Father and can hold the keys of the Kingdom of God? There is only one way to harmonize these passages which the inspired Evangelist has with good reason placed side by side. Simon Peter as supreme Pastor and Doctor of the universal Church assisted by God and speaking in the name of all, is the faithful witness and infallible exponent of the divine-human truth; as such he is the impregnable foundation of the house of God and the keybearer of the Kingdom of Heaven. The same Simon Peter as a private individual, speaking and acting by his natural powers and merely human intelligence, may say and do things that are unworthy, scandalous and even diabolical. But the failures and sins of the individual are ephemeral, while the social function of the ecclesiastical monarch is permanent. ' Satan ' and 'offence' have vanished, but Peter has remained."[956]

E. Indications Of Belief In The Infallibility Of The Bishop Of Rome

That belief in the pontifical infallibility has always been alive in some form or other in the depths of the heart of the Church appears in a twofold outward sign observable by historians. Firstly, from the earliest centuries difficult and capital causes were referred to the Bishop of Rome.[957] This, undoubtedly, directly establishes only the primacy of the Bishop of Rome. not his infallibility; but this primacy had to make decisions that concerned Christian faith and life—it was a primacy in the realm of truth; and that is why, in the highest causes, it was incompatible with error. Secondly, without the confirmation, at least tacit, of the Pope, no Council, even general, has ever been held to be valid.[958]

In a conference given to a dissident Russian group at Paris (22nd December 1927) and published in Cathedra Petri (1938, pp. 199-214), Mgr. Batiffol points out that if oriental Catholicism gave itself out from the fourth to the sixth century as a Kirchenrechtwhich after all it was free to do—and set out to be sui juris, yet two series of facts attest that this autonomy, historically incontestable, was conditioned by the primacy of the Roman Church; a primacy by no means one of honour only, as has sometimes been unwarrantably maintained.

First, "oriental Catholicism recognized in the Roman Church a juridical competence, a superior authority to which recourse could be had to reform sentences pronounced, whether regularly or otherwise, by the oriental Councils.[959] The oldest known case of such recourse was in 340, that of St. Athanasius and the bishops deposed by the Arian faction of Eusebius, formerly of Nicomedia and then of Constantinople. This precedent became law, and this law of resort to Rome remained in force till the rupture of 1054."

Second, "oriental Catholicism inaugurated, with the Council of Nicaea, the institution of the oecumenical Council, an embodiment of the authority of the universal episcopate. It is to be noted that the first seven oecumenical Councils were held in the East, and had been convoked to settle differences about the faith that troubled the East—Arianism, Macedonianism, Nestorianism, Monophysitism, Three Chapters, Monothelitism, Iconoclasm. The East had seen many other Councils, some even, in Arian days, that claimed to be oecumenical, such as those of Rimini-Seleucia. However, it recognized only those Councils as oecumenical to which the Church of Rome had been invited and had either taken part in or subsequently approved. One principle dominates the theory of every oecumenical Council: no decision involving the Catholic faith is taken without the Roman Church, and none can be oecumenical without her."

The author thus sums up the significance of these facts: "Catholicism is the communion in unity of faith and institutions of all the Churches of the Oikoumene. This unity is assured by the association of the Churches on the one hand, and on the other by an authority of universal scope which may be seen in operation long before Constantine took the initiative of convoking the first oecumenical Council. This authority is that of the Apostolic See par excellence, the See of Rome. What is true of the second century, of the third century, is true for the Greek East, and true till the schism of the eleventh century, which could justify itself only by repudiating, as far as this point is concerned, the doctrine of the ten preceding centuries."

F. The Doctrine Of Infallibility Prior To The Vatican Definition

What has been said raises a question. Since the Vatican definition, the pontifical infallibility has been taught by the solemn magisterium as a truth of faith. How was it taught before the definition? Was it not yet proposed expressly as a truth of faith? Or was it already so proposed, but by the ordinary magisterium? Both answers, I believe, could be given, and were true of different times.

Giving the first answer we shall say: Before the solemn definition it appeared as theologically evident (all theologians agreed on it) and as solidly guaranteed by the Church (the consent of the Fathers and theologians being a recognized theological authority) that the pontifical infallibility was a truth revealed by the Saviour. With the definition, that became divinely certain.

Giving the second answer we shall say: Before the solemn definition it was already divinely certain, in virtue of the ordinary magisterium, that the pontifical infallibility is a truth revealed by the Saviour, and all the faithful believed it with divine faith—if not in theory and reflexively at least in fact and spontaneously.

However it be, it is certain that the Church has always believed, with divine faith, in the pontifical infallibility, at least in an indirect and radical manner, by explicitly believing other truths in which this infallibility was implicitly contained (if we confine ourselves to the first answer); or even in a direct, formal and explicit manner (if we confine ourselves to the second). And all who belong to the Church by desire and already believe the first truths in which all the rest are rooted, believe on that account implicitly in the pontifical infallibility; perhaps unconsciously, perhaps even expressly refusing to recognize it out of ignorance for which they are not responsible before God.

G. The Problem Of The Pope's Power To Define His Own Infallibility

It was the Sovereign Pontiff himself, in union with the Council, who, as we have said, defined his own infallibility.

That causes no difficulty to those who think that, before the Council, the infallibility was already of divine faith on the proposition of the ordinary magisterium. It was believed therefore by divine faith that the Pope could speak infallibly on everything concerned with faith or morals, and even, consequently, on his own spiritual power. Since the definition the doctrine is held, furthermore, on the proposition of the solemn magisterium; thus faith in the infallibility proposed by the ordinary magisterium has passed into faith in the infallibility proposed by the solemn magisterium. It is as if the next Oecumenical Council should solemnly define the infallibility of Oecumenical Councils.

But there are those who think that before the Vatican definition it was not yet certain as of divine faith that the Pope was infallible. HOW then could there be divine faith in the sentence whereby the Pope defined his own infallibility? Are we caught in a vicious circle? The answer is, no. Already, at the moment of the definition—no Catholic theologian denies it—the faithful knew with divine faith that in order to remain in the communion of the Church, they were under an obligation to accept interiorly all definitions made by the Pope in an absolute and irreformable way. Now to believe with divine faith, express and explicit, in the existence of such an obligation, was—as Perrone remarked some fifteen years before the definition—to believe with divine faith, at least, latent and implicit, in the infallibility of these definitions; for there can be no obligation to accept interiorly as absolute and irreformable any definitions that could contradict the faith. In other words, before the definition it was of divine faith that the Pope could oblige the faithful to receive certain teachings as absolute and irrevocable. After the definition, it is furthermore of divine faith that if the Pope can oblige the faithful to receive teachings as absolute and irrevocable, this is because they are proposed by an infallible authority. The Pope's power was not increased by the definition, it was more explicitly promulgated.[960]

In neither case is there any vicious circle.

H. The Marks Of An Infallible Teaching

As soon as an infant receives life, it is of divine faith that he is subject to original sin. The evidence of the infant's existence conditions the act of faith we make in this respect. In the same way, the evidence that the Pope intends to speak ex cathedra, that he intends to define a doctrine concerning faith or morals in an irreformable manner, will condition the act of divine faith with which we are to receive his teaching. We must not imagine that this evidence was unobtainable prior to the Vatican definition; quite the contrary. Billot mentions, by way of example, some ten definitions prior to the Council in which the Pope is evidently speaking ex cathedra: [961] Boniface VIII in the Bull Unam Sanctam, 1302: "We declare, define and pronounce that it is absolutely necessary for salvation that every creature should be subject to the Roman Pontiff"; Benedict XII, in the constitution Benedictus Deus, 1336: "We define, in virtue of our apostolic authority, that the souls of the saints. . . before the general judgment. . . enjoy the beatific vision"; Leo X, in the Bull Exsurge Domine, 1520, against the errors of Luther: "In virtue of the authority of Almighty God, the Blessed Apostles Peter and Paul, and of our own, we condemn and reprove these articles and these errors as respectively heretical, or scandalous, or false"—and so on. Such formulas, used by the Pontiffs since the Middle Ages, are not the only criterion; the "sense" of a pontifical act, its intention to settle a question for ever, may clearly appear independently of all conventional formulas.[962]

1. The Human Fear Of Infallibility

"They were astonished at his words, for he taught as one having authority and not as the Scribes" (Mark i. 22). Soon they began to murmur: "HOW doth this man know letters, having never learned?" (John vii. 15), and they looked on Him as fanatical and possessed. The authoritarian tone in teaching is apt to offend. We like to hear suggestions which we can consider and judge, not the unmixed truth that judges us. Infallibility, which is always dogmatic, scandalized in Christ; and it scandalizes in the Church of Christ. What it offends in us is, at bottom, our lack of confidence in the absolute. But can the absolute speak to us at all if not to deliver us from human opinion, "that henceforth we be no more children tossed to and fro and carried about with every wind of doctrine, by the wickedness of men, by cunning craftiness by which they lie in wait to deceive. But doing the truth in charity, we may in all things grow up in him who is the head, even Christ" (Ephes. iv. 14-15)?

7. The Pontifical City

One of the consequences of the jurisdictional prerogatives conferred by Our Lord on Peter was to be the appearance on the stage of history of a pontifical city.

A. A Contingent Solution Of The Problem Of The Independence Of The Popes

The immediately important thing for the Church, demanded first and foremost by her very nature, is the independence of her supreme apostolic authority. It is only secondarily and by way of consequence that she troubles herself about the conditions that favour this independence or make it possible, conditions that vary of course from time to time. We can be sure in advance that they all leave something to be desired.

The pontifical city represents only one of the possible solutions of the problem of papal independence. It is not a perfect one, and there is no reason for thinking it final. The old States of the Church brought many troubles with them; and no one would maintain that the new Vatican City provides all the desirable guarantees. Christ Himself did not enjoy ideal conditions for preaching the Gospel; we may therefore question whether His Church will ever do so.

B. Apostolic Or Canonical Sovereignty And Political Principate

There pertains to the Sovereign Pontiff as successor of Peter an authority not in the temporal order, but in the divine order; it is not a political principate capable of assuming the civil government of a population, but an apostolic or canonical sovereignty.

I myself here employ the word "sovereignty" in its proper sense, that is, to designate the Pope's power as Vicar of Christ; the words "principate", dominium, etc., are used to designate the political power. It will however be found sometimes (in the quotations) that the word "sovereignty" (sovranita) is used in the relatively recent sense of a political power not subordinated to another political power.[963]

C. The Bearer Of The Apostolic Sovereignty Of His Nature Independent

The person in whom this sovereignty resides is, as such, released from all human dependence, free from all subjection to political or interpolitical principates. "The supreme pontifical authority" wrote Leo XIII, "instituted by Jesus Christ and conferred on St. Peter and his legitimate successors, the Roman Pontiffs, cannot of its very nature, and by the will of its divine Founder, be subject to any earthly power, but should enjoy the most complete liberty for the exercise of its high functions. . . The Sovereign Pontiff should enjoy this independence not only that his liberty may be wholly unimpeded, but that it may be evident to all that it is so."[964] In his discourse to the professors and students of the University of Milan, Pius XI was similarly to recall that "on account of the divine responsibility that rests upon him, the Roman Pontiff, whatever name he bears, in whatever age he lives, cannot be subject to any earthly authority."[965] This was already true of St. Peter himself.

D. His Independence Radical And Inalienable

Since the independence of the pontifical power of all forms of political authority is a privilege of the divine order, it is evidently imprescriptible and inalienable. The Popes themselves cannot renounce it. They are its depositaries, not its judges. The exercise of their power may very well be thwarted, but its essence cannot be touched. No violence, no human force can prescribe anything against the divine law. The invasion of the States of the Church by the armies of Garibaldi could doubtless hinder the free exercise of the apostolic sovereignty, but it left intact the Pontiff's right to his full independence. "Thus, after the loss in 1870 of the very ancient and traditional guarantees of the liberty and independence of the pastoral mission of the Sovereign Pontiff, the very essence of his imprescriptible right to liberty and independence remained. This right is never to be confused with the measures and material entities that guarantee it. The Pope himself is not judge of this right, which remains inherent in the divine constitution of the Church."[966]

E. The Apostolic Power's Right To Fix The Conditions Of Its Own Normal Exercise

The Church, then, cannot renounce her right to independence, though she can go on living, as history has shown, even when it is under attack. It remains that she still has a right, by the divine will, to the normal and connatural exercise of the apostolic or canonical power. It is for her therefore to judge of the temporal conditions which may be indispensable to its functioning in any given epoch.

This question is formally and in the last resort religious, although it may be political in virtue of the realities bound up with it. The Pope has to settle it as Vicar of Jesus Christ, as head of the Church. The decisions that prudence dictates, being taken in virtue of his apostolic authority cannot, in consequence, be likened to ordinary political measures. They are not purely temporal. Hence they are not subject to any purely political rule or precedent.

The "Roman Question", which remained pending after the events of 1870, presented itself firstly and formally as a religious question, not one to be settled by any standing political rule. It presented itself further as a supranational question, which the apostolic authority could settle as might seem good to it, and not one that simply fell to international law and the international tribunals. Certainly, the existence of a pontifical polity concerned the Catholics of all nations; but it was not for the assembled nations to determine the conditions of this existence. Firstly, and above all, because such an intervention of the nations would have made an international question of what was properly a supranational one. Next, because the despoiled Papacy, rather than call on other nations to put pressure on the usurping State, found it preferable to wait until this latter should of itself consent to such restitutions as could be deemed sufficient.[967]

F. The Apostolic Right To A Civil Principate

The apostolic sovereignty, being of a higher kind than all temporal principates, cannot willingly countenance interference by any one of them; neither by the old imperial dominion nor any of the contemporary principates with which it has to treat, to conclude Concordats, and so forth. What political conditions, what juridical privileges necessary for its free exercise, is it divinely authorised to claim?

The least that can satisfy it must needs be the most that the temporal order can offer in the way of juridical privileges; nothing less than international political principate. In virtue of his apostolic sovereignty, and to safeguard its free exercise, the Pope will therefore have the right (all demands of justice, wisdom and prudence being reserved) to take over a political dominion, a civil principate. He has a right apostolically to deny it would infringe his apostolic and spiritual power—to govern temporally, to assume in the end the responsibility for the temporal lot of a people. His right to the temporal principate is apostolic; the exercise of this principate is political.

This right will be the more expressly proclaimed by the ecclesiastical magisterium as it is the more openly contested. Thus the draft of the dogmatic constitution on the Church of Christ proposed to the Fathers of the Vatican Council, comprised a chapter condemning and proscribing "the heretical doctrine of those who affirm it to be repugnant to divine law that the Roman Pontiffs should add a civil principate to the spiritual power."[968] But it was formerly recognized without difficulty. We have said of St. Peter, that from the standpoint of divine law, he was not subject to Caesar. The spiritual independence of his successors was not long in finding political expression.[969] Reflecting on this phenomenon Joseph de Maistre could truly write, "An invisible law uplifted the Roman See and it could be said that the head of the universal Church was born a sovereign. From the scaffold of the martyrs, he mounted a throne which at first was hardly noticed, but which consolidated itself insensibly like all great things, and was surrounded from its earliest years by an inexplicable aura of majesty that seems to have no known human cause."[970]

G. The Sacred Character Of This Principate

Born of a quite definite spiritual exigence, the civil principate of the Sovereign Pontiff naturally reflects the spiritual values it serves, and hence it is clearly distinguished from all other civil principates. The Popes have insisted on this character. Pius IX, the Pope who witnessed the downfall of the States of the Church, had written on the 26th March 1860 in his apostolic letter Cum Catholica Ecclesia: "The Catholic Church, founded and established by Our Lord Jesus Christ to procure the eternal salvation of mankind, has, in virtue of its divine institution, the form of a perfect society. That is why it ought to enjoy a liberty such that it is in no wise subject to any civil power in the fulfilment of its sacred ministry. . . It was therefore by a special decree of divine providence that after the fall of the Roman Empire and its division into several kingdoms, the Roman Pontiff, whom Christ had made the head and centre of His whole Church, acquired the civil principate. . . It is easy to understand how this principate, although of its nature temporal, takes on nevertheless something of a spiritual character in virtue of its sacred purpose and of the close ties that unite it with the highest interests of Christianity. "Leo XIII, stripped of his temporal power, said on the 27th September 1888, in his discourse to Cardinal Alimonda and to the Italian priests on pilgrimage to Rome: "They have dared to say that the claims of the Pope are dictated by the spirit of ambition and desire for human dignities. . . but Our aims are far higher; what is in question at this moment is the great cause of the liberty and independence of the Church."[971] And Pius XI, who solved the Roman question, did not cease to protest that the Pope is "a stranger to all vain desire for temporal dominion", that the jurisdictional guarantee he claims is, in his eyes, "a means to a spiritual end, "namely the liberty and independence of the government of the Church, which is "indispensable to the religious authority" and claimed solely "in view of the inviolable rights and incontestable interests of the divine mission of the Papacy".

One point remains to be settled.

What is the nature of this "sacred character" which distinguishes the civil principate of the Pope from all others?

To reply, we must further determine the relations of the civil principate to the apostolic authority of the Sovereign Pontiff.

Is the civil principate to function as an autonomous cause essentially and primarily ordained to procure the good of a temporal polity, but guaranteeing furthermore the liberty of the Pontiff? Or will it rather seek to avoid the cares of the civil administration of a population, so as to serve the apostolic power in a manner more exclusive, more direct, more single-minded, tending at the limit to become instrumental?

Affirmative answers can be given, I think, to both questions, but they will be applicable to different historical periods.

H. The Highest Of Political Principates Involved In It

The political principate annexed in Christian law to the apostolic sovereignty is the highest of all political principates. If the notion of political dominion to which modern states very justly appeal, should have to undergo a restriction—in favour of some international organization for instance—the political dominion due to the Holy See could not emerge diminished; it would become juridically the equal of the highest existing temporal dominion. This is because the civil principate of the Sovereign Pontiff is but a symbol, a practically necessary expression, but political and therefore radically inadequate, of his apostolic sovereignty. Hence it is that the papal nuncios rank above ambassadors; and according to the ancient usage of Christendom, not yet wholly abolished and worthy of retention, they take precedence of all other diplomatic agents as representing a power of a higher order.

1. The Territorial Principate

Pius XI did not raise the question as to whether the notion of "temporal "principate is essentially separable from that of "territorial" principate. He was content to claim the temporal principate recognized by international law "as then in force".[972] It carries with it in fact a territorial principate. The Lateran Treaty, said the Pope, in his discourse to the Lenten preachers at Rome, "aims at recognizing, and, as far as is humanly possible, at securing to the Holy See, a genuine proper and real territorial sovereignty—seeing that, up to the present at any rate, no other true and proper form of sovereignty is known if not precisely territorial [altra forma di sovranita vera e propria se non appunto territoriale]."[973] And a little further on: "Some kind of territorial sovereignty is the condition generally recognized as indispensable for any true jurisdictional sovereignty. "The Treaty itself, seeking to assure the Holy See "a situation of fact and law which may guarantee its absolute independence for the fulfilment of its high mission in the world", and to assure it "an indisputable sovereignty even in the international field", lays down in article 2 that "Italy recognizes the sovereignty of the Holy See in the international domain, as an attribute inherent in its nature, in conformity with its tradition, and the demands of its mission in the world"; and in article 3 that "Italy recognizes that the Holy See has full property in, and exclusive and absolute power and sovereign jurisdiction over, the Vatican as actually constituted along with all its dependencies and endowments".[974] Territorial independence becomes the symbol and the condition of religious independence.

But what territorial principate was needed by the Roman Pontiff? Was the Pope to reign as of old over the States of the Church? Was there a possibility of some new form of territorial principate? The expression "temporal power" of the Popes, charged as it was with historical echoes, had become ambiguous. It could suggest the idea that the Popes were dreaming of a restoration of the old Papal States. Pius XI avoided it. He spoke expressly, and desired others to speak, of the "Roman question", of the "prerogatives of the Holy See", of the liberty and of the independence of the Pope, without so much as naming this temporal power, but speaking instead of the "civil principate". The right to a civil principate ceased to be envisaged as involving a return to the old state of affairs.

J. The Two Forms Of The Pontifical Polity: The Old States Of The Church

We come now to the distinction between the two concrete forms of the pontifical polity, between the old States of the Church on the one hand, and the little Vatican City on the other. Let us try to determine the nature of the relations between the spiritual order and the temporal in each case.

1. Appearance Of The Old States

The ancient States of the Church, as we have seen, were set up after the dismemberment of the Roman Empire as if by the action of providence. Almost without seeking it the Sovereign Pontiff found himself at the head of a temporal State. To his apostolic power was annexed a political power, of the same nature as other political powers, setting him openly and officially free from every kind of political subjection. He accepted this situation as the sole clear, immediate and practical solution that the problem of his independence could at that time receive. In a culture of the consecrational type, in which temporal values were charged throughout with spiritual significance, the temporal principate of the Roman Pontiff, however distinct in itself from his spiritual sovereignty, appeared as its normal and connatural result. So true is this that at the outset the Pope, acting as temporal prince, did not even dream of adding any new title to his ecclesiastical one.[975]

Undoubtedly, the temporal administration of a city, however much it may have gone down in the world, was an enormous burden. It certainly absorbed some of the attention which should have been given to spiritual things. The defence of their patrimony drew several of the Popes too deeply into politics. But, if they had refused to assume responsibility for a temporal government, the Popes would have condemned themselves to see their apostolic authority perpetually obscured by princely interferences; they would have abandoned the task of making Christian values and Christian morals prevail in the new society, and they would have betrayed their spiritual mission.[976]

Thus the right of the Sovereign Pontiff to the civil principate found its first historical realization, which was to last for a thousand years, at the moment when the Pope was led to add to his apostolic mission the duty of securing the temporal welfare of a particular people by taking over the machinery of government and defence.

2. Temporal Power Of The Consecrational Type

How was the political power of the Sovereign Pontiff to function? Like other political powers of the same epoch. At times it was to put itself at the service of the Church as a pure instrument, the Church being the principal agent, and handling it in her own way, lifting it to her own level, imposing on it her own measure, form and style.

But more often it was the political power that functioned as principal agent, under its own habitual rule and style. Its immediate end was then to procure the temporal good of society conformably with the ideal of the Christian Middle Ages. If the temporal good of society is always and everywhere to be referred to the common good of eternal life, which is God, there are yet, as we have seen, two specific types of Christian state: the first containing, in virtue of its fundamental charter, none but children of the Church, so that all heresy will be a crime against the State (consecrational type); and the second, also indeed orientated to the fullness of Christianity, but—because it has to be a political union of believers and unbelievers, or simply because it has to cope with the higher differentiation of the temporal order that historical progress brings with it—finding a place in its basic charter not, doubtless, for "dogmatic tolerance" which takes freedom to err for a good thing in itself, but for "civil tolerance" which imposes respect for consciences on the State (secular type). The pontifical city was of the consecrational type, unlike that of the secular Christian temporal order whose advent we now await. By ruling it in accordance with the public law of medieval Christendom, the Pope hoped to give the princes an example of a political order fully respecting the spiritual: "Nowhere" wrote Innocent III, "is ecclesiastical liberty better respected than in those regions in which the Roman Church holds the plenitude of temporal and spiritual power."[977] He could even hope to exemplify a fully human political order. The efforts of the Popes—to ensure the safety of their subjects, to conclude treaties with neighbouring peoples, to fight poverty and social inequalities, the slave trade and piracy, to protect the Jewish minorities, to promote the development of the arts and sciences, to expand the public services—may not all of them have been fully successful, yet we should recognize that they all had a symbolic value and witness at least that the will to refer the temporal to the spiritual is not a will to sacrifice it.

3. Its Spiritual Character Juxtaposed

It was as "prince "and not as "pontiff" that the Pope had to procure the common good of a civil population, as prince and not as pontiff that, to defend the Roman city against attacks that imperiled its existence, he could use force in his turn, with the right to decree the punishment of death, suppress internal disorders, and take up arms against the invader.

The prince is for the people and not vice-versa, which would be tyranny; the people may defend the prince but in so doing it defends itself. The civil principate of the Pope was for the good of the Roman City. Its immediate, proper and specifying end was temporal. And political good no doubt demands always to be referred to the good of the Kingdom of God and of eternal life: but in the manner of an intermediate and infravalent end, not as a pure means; so that government remains a temporal work, a political activity. It does not become spiritual, raised above itself, save when it functions exceptionally as a pure instrument of the Church.

Where then are we to look for the sacred character which distinguishes the civil principate of the Pope from all others? It is not to be found in the relation of the principate to the temporal and political end it has to serve. It lies in the relationship which unites in one sole person both the Pontiff and the Prince, so that the independence of the Prince (which serves the independence of the City) brings political independence to the Pontiff and that exemption from political subjection needed for the full exercise of his spiritual power. The sacred character of the civil principate is to be sought not in any subordination of the role of Prince to that of Pontiff, but in the union, the juxtaposition, of these two roles in a single person. The government of the old Roman state was not apostolic. It was a political government, but a political government which, while exercised as such, secured the free exercise of the apostolic jurisdiction in addition. It was in this sense that it took on a sacred character.

4. The Pope's Defence Of His Rights As Pontiff And As Prince

The Pope, as we have said, has the apostolic right, all demands of justice being respected, to assume that kind of civil principate which, at a given period, seems to be the moral guarantee of his independence. To attack this right—to force the Pope to give up his temporal power—was a direct attack on the Church herself, a sacrilege. The Pope could defend himself as Pontiff, avail himself of ecclesiastical arms, of spiritual penalties [978]—even indeed, had they been applicable, such temporal penalties as the Church had made hers, penalties for which she was ready to take the responsibility. But the Pope could also defend himself as Prince, oppose his own armies to those of his enemies, and descend into the political arena.[979]

An attack, even unjust, not upon the Pope's right to be a prince, but upon his way of exercising the principate, the expediency of his temporal proceedings, was, in itself, a merely political opposition. The Pope had to deal with it as Prince, as temporal ruler. However, he could still intervene on due occasion as Head of the Church, ratione moralitatis, to bring ecclesiastical penalties to bear against those concerned in any unjust war whatsoever; and similarly, he could grant spiritual favours—supposing the recipients otherwise worthy of them—to those who went to war to put down an injustice.

In a general way, it was as Pontiffs, as successors of Peter, as Vicars of Jesus Christ, that the Popes had recourse to ecclesiastical penalties. Whenever we see them resort to harsh measures—when they draw the sword with their own hands, or take the responsibility for making princes draw it—they were acting in their political capacity, whether as temporal rulers of the Roman State, or as protectors of Christendom, and by right of the additional powers accruing to them from the existence of a consecrational Christendom. To speak otherwise would be to confuse the principate of temporal things with the principate of charity, the role of political ruler with the role of the Vicar of Christ as such. It would be to forget that Jesus has given His Kingdom as such this special mark: that it does not defend itself by arms.

5. The Temporal Principate Of Its Nature Limited

In the ecclesiastical State the immediate legitimate Prince is the Pope. Elsewhere are other princes, whose mission is recognized and consecrated by the Church. The Pope's principate is obviously not intended to supplant or dominate them, but to enable him to treat with them on terms of equality; and also, but secondarily, to give them an example of wise temporal government. To see—like Dostoievsky—in the civil principate of the Popes, an imperialist dream aiming at dispossession of the princes and a gathering of all the temporal power in the world into the hands of the Pontiff, is a strange error, a substitution of pure poetic fancy for theological thinking.[980] The apostolic power alone is universal, the civil principate is, of its essence, limited.

6. An Ecclesiastical State At Jerusalem?

There was, it is true, a moment when the formation of new papal states seemed to be dreamed of. Their object this time was not to assure the independence of the apostolic power, but the freedom of the Holy Places and of the sepulchre of Christ. If Urban II entrusted Bishop Adhemar of Monteil with the direction of the Crusade, if he declined the offers of the too-enterprising Count of Toulouse, it was, thinks M. Rene Grousset, in the hope of organizing the Holy Land as a patrimony of the Holy See—or at least as an ecclesiastical principality like so many other bishoprics of the Empire.[981] In fact, after the conquest of the Holy Places Godfrey de Bouillon did not take the title of King, refusing, according to the tradition, "to wear a golden crown where Christ had worn a crown of thorns". He contented himself with the title of Defender of the Holy Sepulchre, under Christ the King to whom the Holy Land belonged. The supreme government passed into the hands of the Latin Patriarch of Jerusalem, Daimbert. According to Carl Erdmann, on the other hand, no text exists to warrant us in attributing territorial ambitions to Urban II; the Pope had even made it clear to the Council of Clermont that the Churches of the recovered lands would recognize the hegemony of the conqueror. Pascal II, after the capture of Jerusalem, said nothing more about territorial claims; and Daimbert worked in the interests of the Patriarchate of Jerusalem, not in those of the Papacy. It was the Crusaders themselves who, after the capture of Antioch, entertained the idea of asking the Pope to come and take possession of the first of the sees of St. Peter.[982] But in any case the idea of a Palestinian ecclesiastical state was not practicable. "The precarious Western colony to which a freak of history had given birth in the heart of the Mussulman world was to live in a state of perpetual war, unable to put off its armour for a single day."[983] To want to make it into a colony of clerics was paradoxical. The Frankish kingdom of Jerusalem was to be the march of Christendom towards the frontiers of Islam. History was to know no other pontifical city than that which would go to assure the independence of the apostolic power.

7. The Pope As Suzerain

If the Pope was the head of a state he could, in feudal law, receive the homage of vassal princes and thus enlarge the field of his temporal jurisdiction. In fact we shall see the princes of Norman Italy and of Spain, the kings of Hungary, Croatia-Dalmatia, Kiev and so on, recognize his suzerainty, sometimes to acquire a legal existence, sometimes to escape the grasp of the Germanic Emperors. The power of a suzerain, although the medieval Popes made use of it to advance the interests of the Kingdom of God in the vassal lands, was temporal in character with clearly circumscribed rights. It must be carefully distinguished from the higher and more universal jurisdictional titles which enabled the Popes to address themselves to all the princes of Christendom without exception; whether immediately in virtue of their canonical power to recall them to their duty to govern in a Christian manner and solemnly to condemn their shortcomings, or in virtue of their position as protectors of a consecrational Christendom. It is one of the achievements of M. Augustin Fliche to have proved the existence of a very clear distinction in the time of Gregory VII between the Pope's suzerainty and what he calls the "sacerdotal government".[984] This distinction clearly emerges from the facts, whatever in other respects may have been the compenetration of Church and State in the Middle Ages.

8. Can The Vicar Of Christ Be A Prince?

But—a last question—was it desirable that the Vicar of Christ should consent to be a political ruler, that the Pontiff should become Prince? Was the union of these two titles in one same person compatible with the holiness of the Gospel? That is the real point at issue.

Calvin—who, be it noted, effectively governed Geneva—refers us to St. Luke: "The kings of the Gentiles lord it over them; and they that have power over them are called beneficent. But you not so; but he that is greater among you, let him become as the younger, and he that is the leader as he that serveth" (xxii. 25-26). By these words, he says, the Saviour makes it understood not only "that the office of a pastor is other than that of a prince, but also that the two offices are so different that they cannot both belong to the same person".[985] Clearly, Calvin adds something of his own. In St. Luke where they belong to the story of the Last Supper, in St. Mark (x. 42) and St. Matthew (xx. 25), where they follow the reference to the chalice which the sons of Zebedee are to drink, Jesus' words convey that those who rule in His Kingdom ought to be humble and ready for self-sacrifice, that their authority should be a service. They do not say either that the temporal power is necessarily evil or that it cannot be joined to the spiritual power. What would really be contrary to the Gospel—to the doctrinal holiness of the Gospel—would be the confusion, the identification, of these two powers; what would also be contrary to the Gospel—to the moral holiness of the Gospel—would be shortcomings liable to impede the just exercise of one or other of these powers—the eclipsing of the life of the Pontiff by the splendour of that of the Prince; but not the conjunction of the two titles in one person.

Such a conjunction has its perils; it should be undertaken only to avoid great evils or obtain great good. But these grave reasons did in fact exist, and if the Pope had accepted the effective protection of the princes it is not difficult to foresee what would have become of the jurisdictional liberty of the Church.

9. The Use Made Of The Princely Authority

That said, we shall see the Popes availing themselves with varying degrees of prudence, varying degrees of holiness, of the situationdifficult, but not in itself evil—in which they found themselves. Some, giving all due attention to temporal affairs, fulfilling all the obligations that the good government of their people supposed, could still give their chief care to the things of God, and make use of their political independence for the better exercise of their apostolic jurisdiction. Others, of lesser calibre, allowed themselves to be overwhelmed by temporal preoccupations, granted too much to what should have been no more than a condition favouring their mission, neglected to place the source of their confidence sufficiently high, and gave way to the intoxication of temporal dominion.

They went so far as to engage in wars that could have been avoided. "A war does not become just," remarked Cajetan, who had seen the reigns of Alexander VI and of Julius II, "simply because it is the Pope who declares it, for the person who holds the pontifical authority can be led into injustice, ambition, revenge and other faults of the utmost gravity."[986] Christ will judge the Popes. History tries to do it here and now: but it is not always easy. Probably nobody wants to justify the wars of John XII, but those of Julius II, which scandalized Erasmus,[987] and provoked the sarcasms of Machiavelli,[988] have found defenders. They were necessary, says Pastor, to secure for the See of Peter an independence and respect without which the Pope could not hope to succeed with his vast project for internal reform of the Church, which was bound to make him many enemies; and the same historian considered that without Julius II's work of temporal restoration the Papacy would have been reduced later on to cruel extremities and perhaps forced to go back to the catacombs.[989] "As a matter of fact," Pastor writes a few pages further on, "this was a time in which no respect seemed to be paid to anything but material force, and the secular powers were striving on all sides to subjugate the Church to the State. Purely ecclesiastical questions were regarded merely as counters in the game of politics, and the Popes were obliged to consolidate their temporal possessions in order to secure for themselves a standing ground from which they could defend their spiritual authority."

The consolidation of the temporal power opened the way to several good things such as the victory of Lepanto, which broke the onrush of Islam. But it served also, on the eve of the Reformation, to conceal the spiritual character of the Roman Church from many minds. Schnurer replies to Pastor that it would have been preferable to leave the Papacy to "descend into the catacombs" and that such a humiliation would not have been too dear a price to pay for the unity of the Western Church: "A Papacy working solely for the reform of the Church would never, in any case, have become an object of contempt, as was the case with the Church of Rome, following so many complaints about the worldly life of the Curia. The loss of religious unity was not compensated by the fact that the Papacy stood at the head of the temporal civilization of the period. To minds with a deeper appreciation of religion it was repugnant that the greatness of the Papacy and the Church should be measured by the part they played in the temporal civilization of the West, which only the more fatally absorbed them in the world."[990] Yet at the period of the Renaissance the political power was not merely becoming excitedly conscious of its specific difference, it was also losing its simplicity of purpose, allowing itself to be fascinated by the will to power and absolutism, and so becoming more and more difficult to control. And the whole question is this: was it prudent to ask of it the same services as in the Middle Ages, and to glorify the Pontifical States with the height of material magnificence, or had not the day come when the Church, while taking all due care to assure her liberty, should have begun to defend herself more exclusively than before by the arms of the spirit, and to rely more on divine help to safeguard such human things as were indispensable to her life? [991]

10. The Thought Of St. Bernard

St. Bernard, though forcibly insisting on the wide gulf between the character of "Pontiff" and that of "Prince", in no wise affirms, as Calvin seeks to do, that they are incompatibles in one and the same person. Less directly attentive to the principate itself than to the sumptuous style of a princely household, he exhorts the Pope, who ought to give himself to the care of all the Churches, not to allow himself to be corrupted by riches: "However, if thou shouldst happen to possess such earthly riches, use them not according to thy pleasure, but according to the necessities of the time: in this way thou shalt use them as if using them not. It is true that so far as the soul is concerned worldly wealth is neither good nor evil. Nevertheless the use of it is good, and the abuse of it is evil—yet not so evil as anxiety about it, nor so shameful as the pursuit of it. I grant that thou mayst claim gold and silver on some other title, but certainly not as the successor of St. Peter. "But if the Pope may be Prince, he is, before all else, Pontiff. As Pontiff he must not lord it over the people like the kings of the Gentiles, but must serve. "And wilt thou nevertheless have the temerity either to usurp the apostolic office while holding dominion, or to usurp dominion while holding the apostolic office? Thou art plainly excluded from either one or the other. . . dominion is interdicted, ministration enjoined [dominatio interdicitur, indicitur ministratio]."[992] The thought of St. Bernard is clear: it is St. Robert Bellarmine, not Calvin, who sets it out correctly. Elsewhere he reminds the Pope of Peter's example, who did not appear in public adorned with gold and jewels, clothed in silk, mounted on a white palfrey, surrounded by soldiers and followed by a clamorous cortege, but thought himself able none the less to fulfil his mission to feed the sheep of Christ: "In all that belongs to earthly magnificence thou hast succeeded not Peter, but Constantine. However, I would counsel thee to tolerate this pomp and this splendour at least for a time, yet not to desire them as if they were essential to thy state. "He adds that if, even in purple and gold, the Pontiff, heir to the first Shepherd, has not rejected the cares of the pastoral office, he will have his part in the glory of the Apostles.[993] Lastly, he exhorts Pope Eugenius to be gentle in governing the Romans: "If thou wilt act in this way, then, even should thine efforts prove fruitless, thou shalt have a sufficient excuse and mayst say to thyself: Go forth from Hur of the Chaldees [Gen. xii. 3], and also: To other cities also I must preach the Kingdom of God [Luke iv. 43]. And it seems to me thou shalt have no cause to regret such an exile, receiving the universe in exchange for Rome, orbe pro urbe commutato." The saint does not contest the Pope's right to be Prince. But when the exercise of this right becomes impossible, he thinks that the Pope should not contest it stubbornly, that he should prefer the world to Rome. As the chief object of his solicitude? Undoubtedly. But as his place of residence? That is a question which will need to be examined.

11. The Lesson Of The Gospel

"Jesus therefore, when he knew that they would come to take him by force, and make him king, fled again into the mountain, himself alone" (John vi. 15). And here are Pascal's words: "Jesus Christ, without wealth, and without outward show of knowledge, stands in His own order of holiness. He gave us no inventions, He did not reign. . . it would have been useless for Our Lord Jesus Christ, in order to assume a splendour in His reign of holiness, to appear as a king; but with what a splendour in His own order has He not come !"

With Him, the Church appeared as in her Head, the Christian form as in its source, the Kingdom of Heaven in its Centre. This Kingdom is incarnate in human realities; it is essentially invested with sacramental signs and a jurisdictional organization. And yet it transcends all the cultural values with which it coexists—values on which the Gospel too is strangely silent. It seems that Jesus wanted only to emphasise this transcendence when He made use of external things. He chose them with a sovereign liberty. All were subject to Him. He could summon angels to His aid, walk on the waters, multiply loaves, wither the fig tree to strike the imagination of His disciples. But He knew likewise when to dispense with the legion of angels, as also with Peter's sword. And when He accepted the aid of visible things or the services of men—when He made clay for the blind man's eyes and asked that the pitchers at Cana should be filled with water—it is clear that He did so, not of necessity, but by condescension and in order to call the world of nature, of human workmanship and human culture, to the service of the Kingdom of Heaven. He retired to the mountain and refused to be king for fear that the transcendence of His Kingdom would be overlooked; but one day, mounted on an ass, He welcomed the plaudits of the crowd to its Messiah-King, and did not consider it useless to enter Jerusalem as a king. The sole lesson that He teaches us here, too, is that of the supreme independence with which He uses or dispenses with all things.

If the Word chose to become incarnate in simple surroundings, still close to nature, exempt from the complexities of cultural life, it was undoubtedly to make it so much the clearer that the Gospel is addressed to what is essential and eternal in man.[994] But He sends His disciples to the nations, and there they will meet with many problems concerning the relations of the Kingdom of God and human culture. What other law than that of Jesus can they keep before their eyes? They will be anxious before all else to save the transcendence of the Kingdom of God in the face of the whole universe of cultural formations. Given this, they will undoubtedly have to learn, in view of their Master's example, to dispense at times with cultural resources; but they will also have to learn to make use of them, for the disciples are not their Master's equals, and cannot without presumption turn their backs so readily on human prudence.[995] The Vicar of Christ, having a right to the independence of his spiritual jurisdiction, has a duty to act with all justice in achieving it, and consequently to assume or keep the charge of a temporal government just so long as it seems to be the appropriate safeguard of this independence. While such a state of things endures it would be mere cowardice to renounce the responsibility. It can be taken from the Pope by violence, but he will have no right to lay it down of himself—not till the movement of history has so profoundly modified events as to make it, on the whole, unhelpful.[996]

12. The Disappearance Of The Old States Of The Church

The old States of the Church were destroyed by violence. It was well known that the fate of the Church was not bound up with them, that they were not made for eternity. Though they had done good service in the past, a day would come when their existence would be ill-suited to the times and no longer desirable. A time was to come when all temporal powers would move further away from the feudal form and from effective monarchy,[997] when authority would find it ever more necessary to grant civil tolerance to populations becoming more and more mixed from the religious viewpoint, and in general, the political order would become more and more differentiated from the religious in virtue of a development doubtless unfortunate in the concrete, but representing something good and legitimate in itself. Under such circumstances the duty of governing a civil population would become more onerous, and thus more of an encumbrance to the Pope. Machiavelli, again, was already reproaching the Church for standing in the way of Italian national unity, for it was "never strong enough to occupy the whole of Italy", nor ever "so weak as to be unable to call some prince to its aid who would defend it against anyone who became formidable to the rest of Italy".[998] It is thus clear that the civil principate of the Popes could not remain for ever what it had been in the Middle Ages. But its form could change. It ought not to have been overturned by force and injustice. These things are doubtless capable of accelerating the course of history, but they are also capable of stampeding it, and preparing catastrophe for all mankind. As far as Italy is concerned, it might have been hoped that if it became evident one day that she had more to lose than to gain by the survival of the Pontifical State, and that her temporal destiny was to become a great centralized nation, the Popes, too weak to lead her down this road (a sacred weakness, a fitting reminder of the true destiny of their principate), would not have been the last to understand the fact, and peacefully to propose a system of guarantees of pontifical independence adapted to the new situation.[999]

K. The New Pontifical State

The work of Pius XI was at once traditional and innovating.

1. Tradition And Innovation

The Pope wished, like his predecessors, to make the pontifical independence secure. And since, up to the present, no one knows of any way of not depending on a prince other than being a prince oneself, he had to claim a genuine territorial principate of his own.

The innovation lay in this. The territorial principate of the Pope had always hitherto involved the civil government of a population. This arrangement, good and just in the past, would be unsuitable today, and Pius XI avoided it. "People do not sufficiently reflect perhaps on how troublesome and dangerous it would be—We speak of the situation today—to unite the civil administration of a population, no matter how small, to the universal government of the Church. The smallness of the territory guarantees Us against all inconvenience of this kind."[1000] The objections of Machiavelli and Comte have lost their point. Soloviev's wish (and Moehler's) for a Papacy shorn of all strictly political cares, more exclusively devoted to the spiritual, offering no pretext for the common misunderstandings of dissidents, has been fulfilled.

The splendours of the Vatican City are not political. They are of the purely cultural order, belonging to the domain of art and science: a park, some palaces, "Bernini's colonnade, Michaelangelo's cupola, the treasures of science and art in the archives, libraries, museums and galleries of the Vatican". They are still more spiritual than that: the Vatican City guards the relics of the first martyrs and enshrines the memory of the Prince of the Apostles.

2. Spiritualization Of The Pontifical State

One thing is clear. The whole effort of the Pope has been to spiritualize as far as may be the little Vatican City. It is not saddled with the laws that commonly rule other cities. It is relieved of all tasks too cumbrous and too worldly. It is, as it were, lifted out of the temporal plane, attracted to the spiritual, drawn into the life and gravitational sphere of the Church herself. It is, in a new sense, a State of the Church.

The Pope's declarations are clear enough: "So then, a minimum of territory, enough for the exercise of sovereignty; the needful territory without which it could not subsist because it would have nothing to stand on. We seem to see things as they were to be seen in the person of St. Francis; he had just enough body to keep his soul united with it. Thus it was with other saints: the body reduced to what is strictly necessary to serve the soul, to support human life, and, with life, beneficent action. It will be evident to all, We hope, that the Sovereign Pontiff will have just that material territory indispensable for the exercise of the spiritual power entrusted to men for the benefit of men. We do not hesitate to say that We rejoice in this state of things. We are glad to see the material domain reduced to such narrow limits that one can speak of it and consider it as spiritualized by the immeasurable and truly divine spirituality which it is destined to sustain and serve."[1001]

In a word, the civil principate of the Holy See, instead of functioning as an autonomous principal cause as formerly, charged with the task of first of all assuring the temporal welfare of a people and of guaranteeing the pontifical independence over and above, would tend now to function rather as a pure instrument of the spiritual.

The very idea of a holy war, in its most urgent form at least, is henceforth eliminated.

3. A Reversal Of Roles

One consequence of this transformation of the Pontifical City is that henceforth the civil principate will take no further responsibility for the use of harsh temporal means, and will never draw the sword. Italy will protect the person of the Sovereign Pontiff.[1002] She undertakes to punish delinquencies committed on Vatican territory.[1003]

From the moment when the Popes, desirous of safeguarding their spiritual independence, became the temporal governors of a city, they could have recourse to the sword and take up arms in a just war. They are now quit of this grave responsibility. The new civil principate is a principate without an army.

The material weakness of the Vatican City is therefore evident. What does it matter? The old States of the Church, very much stronger as they were, were not spared for all that. The Pope noted the fact with a certain sadness: "What guarantees can be hoped for, even from a temporal power as large as that which formerly figured on the political map of Europe? We have seen what the Powers have done, or rather did not do, what they did not wish to do or rather could not do, to prevent its fall. They could hardly have acted otherwise. But if such be—and it is—the perpetual condition and history of human things, how could We seek assured defenders against the perils of the future?"[1004]

However, from the fact that the Vatican City tends to become, as we have said, a pure instrument of the spiritual, its moral guarantees are strengthened. The L’Osservatore Romano remarked in an article that appeared on the very day of the signature of the treaty: [1005] "In the little consecrated city the temporal sovereignty of the Holy Father is so thoroughly identified with his religious sovereignty, his State is so thoroughly identified with the very foundations of his Chair, that no violation will be able to hide behind a screen of political pretexts and sophisms in order to justify itself in equity and before civilization. To carry out a spoliation they would have to affront the verdict of the world and of history with that same sacrilegious audacity which appeared in the insult of Anagni, the deportation of Pius VI and the abduction of Pius VII. They would have to proclaim openly and defiantly that the aim of the attack was not to safeguard—as has been said a thousand times with. . . pious solicitude—the purity of the spiritual government by striking only at the temporal power, but to rob the Pontiff and the Pastor of this minimum of human and material support which cannot here below and amongst men be separated from the things of the spirit. Thus would be established beyond the reach of sophistry what Leo XIII repeated in his Discourse of the 7th October 1883: 'The true purpose of the sectaries was to strike at the Church and its head'."

Is the civil principate still there to protect the spiritual and apostolic principate of the Vicar of Christ? Or do we witness a kind of reversal of the roles, and is it not today, more clearly than in the past, the spiritual and apostolic principate that protects the civil principate, the universal Church that safeguards the Vatican City? On the Kingdom that is not of this world and does not defend itself by arms depends another little kingdom, also renouncing armed defence; a little kingdom which in itself and materially is nevertheless of this world. The Pope is at the head of both. As head of the first he is unable, and as head of the second he does not wish, to put his trust in military power at the dawn of the new age. But he retains a sufficient independence for all that, and sustains the Church throughout the world.

L. Roman Pomp

What we have said of the civil principate of the Pope, throws light on the question of the pomp of the Roman court. Pomp was obligatory on royal courts: "In all this thou hast succeeded, not Peter, but Constantine," said St. Bernard to Pope Eugenius; "however, I would counsel thee to tolerate this splendour for a time and yet not regard it as indispensable. "Like other princely trappings it could be justified in an organic, artistic, qualitative civilization, inclined to outward expression of its hierarchic structure. It gave rise to some abuses. They were tolerated, even favoured, by worldly Popes and Cardinals: they were condemned by other Popes and Cardinals. A rule of life is not to be found in the conduct of all the Popes; rather, in the teaching of all the Popes and in the conduct of all the saints, in the teaching of the Church which does not canonize all the Popes, but which has never ceased to magnify and canonize the poor, the humble, the magnanimous, and to inscribe the three vows in the constitutions of the religious orders. And even in the days of the Renaissance this teaching never failed to reach the people.

What has become today of this Roman pomp, so much emphasised among Protestant sects and in Communist gatherings? Altum dominium over the Basilica of St. Peter, the palaces and museums of the Vatican, property with privilege of extra-territoriality of three patriarchal Basilicas and of the gardens of Castel-Gandolfo; the administration of a civil personnel, the ceremonies of the protocol, the Swiss Guard, the gay uniforms, all these "riches" which, because they preserve, as Benson remarked at the beginning of his Lord of the World, a human, qualitative, archaic character, are very conspicuous in a drab and standardized world, have become today much more than the Pope's court; they constitute the very substance of his humble and pacific temporal kingdom. They embody and symbolise in our eyes the apostolic sovereignty of the Vicar of Christ as among governments in general, his inalienable right to international political independence, and, in a word, the absolute freedom of the spiritual with respect to the whole political order. Over and above this they witness to the influence of the Church in the field of temporal culture: "In the magnificence of Julius II and Leo X there was much more than a noble love of glory and beauty; with whatever concomitance of vanity there passed over it a pure ray of the Spirit which has never failed the Church."[1006] Christians, who know the worth of simple temporal realities, of perishable things entrusted to them as stewards and for which they do not forget that they will one day have to give an account, certainly know how to estimate the importance of the little Vatican City. They know, however, and even better, that not even the whole sum of its constituents, taken in itself and materially, touches on the essence of the Kingdom of God.

8. Conclusion: The Manifestation Of The Roman Primacy

At the conclusion of this study of the spiritual power of the Sovereign Pontiff, I should like to say a word on a matter which seems at first sight to contain a paradox. The Primacy of Peter in the Church is so clearly expressed in Scripture that it seems that all would be bound to acknowledge it at once. Yet, in certain undeniable aspects which historians are not slow to emphasise, it appears to have been an achievement effected by time.

A. The Primacy In Peter's Mind, In That Of The Roman See, And In That Of The Rest Of The Church

Peter, who had heard Christ's words at Caesarea Philippi and at the Lake of Tiberias, and who had seen their meaning unfolded in the illumination of Pentecost, could have had no uncertainty about the extraordinary power committed to him. As founders of the Church, the Apostles saw the whole content of the revelation with a privileged clarity, and in a deeper and more searching manner than the Church on earth would ever know it. Peter therefore realized the elevation of his privilege better than we can do even after the Vatican Council. For an indication of this we may turn to the assured authority with which he begins to act on the day of Pentecost itself. The exercise of this privilege however could take on manifold forms. How these would succeed each other in the concrete course of history was something that neither Peter himself nor, a fortiori, the infant Church could foresee; for the history of the Church was a daily creation, not a programme drawn up in advance.

Now it happened for several widely different reasons that the exercise of the jurisdictional primacy was to a certain extent impeded during the first Christian centuries, never indeed to such a point as to leave the Roman See without a clear consciousness of its rights, nor without witnesses to those rights in the rest of the Christian world, but sufficiently to prevent its influence, veiled in certain regions and reduced to a minimum, from being fully displayed to men, even men of great perspicacity and indeed sanctity. As these obstacles to its full exercise disappeared from the field of the Church herself, the jurisdictional primacy could begin to show its true nature and so prepare the mass of the faithful for a deeper and more explicit grasp of the meaning of the promises made to Peter.

B. The Manifestation Of The Primacy, At The Outset, Partial And Limited

We have seen that, although Peter alone had the power to rule the universal Church, the other Apostles had, equally with him but in an extraordinary way, the power to found local Churches. On one point therefore they were his equals, and his right could seem to be limited and neutralized by theirs. That explains not only why St. Paul could act with so great a freedom, but also why the jurisdictional primacy, which rested first with Peter and was handed on to his successors in the Chair of Rome, was unable to bring all its virtualities to bear at the outset. It was only after the death of the Apostles that it could begin to express itself fully.

C. Disconformity Produced In The East When The Extraordinary Apostolate Passed Into The Ordinary Pontificate

How did things in fact turn out?

Rome, once more, could not be unaware of the privilege she had inherited from Peter. But in the Churches that lay beyond her immediate influence there appears, after the death of the Apostles, a certain lack of co-ordination. The whole life, the whole immediate unity of each of these Churches, was gathered instinctively round the bishop whose authority therefore stood out clearly, as the letters of St. Ignatius witness, and, later, those of St. Cyprian. This instinct was or course right and infallible. But how then would the unity of the universal Church be understood? The insight here was less penetrating. Everything seemed at times to happen as if it were believed that the bishops, being successors of the Apostles, had only to be in agreement with each other to create by their intercommunion, and dispense to the universal Church, the holy unity which was assured her by the Apostles themselves as long as they lived. There precisely lay the loophole for illusion. For the Apostles had received, besides the simple episcopal jurisdiction, an extraordinary power of government which was not to be continued in the bishops their successors, but which, after their decease, would leave full scope to the jurisdictional primacy of Peter and his successors. It was not possible to pass from the government of Apostles to that of the bishops without stepping down to another level; and the thing destined by providence to restore the equilibrium needed for the life and unity of the great Church, was precisely the full exercise of the Roman primacy. Rome never forgot this truth; but it might perhaps be said that she wished the Churches less immediately under her dependence to have time enough to rediscover its divine importance by experience.[1007]

D. Three Simultaneous Canonical Regimes In The Church Of The Early Centuries

In studying the conditions under which the Roman primacy was exercised during the first centuries, Mgr. Batiffol was led to map out three distinct zones.[1008]

The first consisted in ancient times of Italy and, from the second half of the fourth century, of the regiones or ecclesiae suburbicariae, the Churches lying close to the city of Rome. "None of the provinces of these regiones suburbicariae had any metropolitan or provincial council. The Bishop of Rome was their Metropolitan and had an immediate and quasi-monarchical authority over them. He ordained their bishops, and at need he judged and deposed them; he supervised and admonished them; he held them in an affectionate but close subjection. He is the vigilant maintainer among them of ecclesiastical law and the liturgical tradition; and, of course, of the Catholic faith."[1009]

The second zone was properly the West beyond the regiones suburbicariae. "Whether the Churches of the West and of Africa were or were not daughter Churches of the Roman Church, the Bishop of Rome was held by them to be invested with a primacy deriving from the fact that his See was the Cathedra Petri. He is the bishop who notifies the date of Easter by annual letters to all the bishops of the West and of Africa. He is the Bishop with whom all the other bishops take care to be in communion, so as to be assured of communion with each other: a fact which makes him the centre, and also on occasion the arbiter, of Catholic unity in the West, since intercommunion implies community of faith. He is the Bishop by whom the other bishops are guided in matters of discipline, not at times indeed without resistance, as witness the attitude of St. Cyprian in the baptismal controversy. He is the Bishop to whom bishops condemned by their fellow-provincials appeal, although these latter do not always bow to the sentence pronounced, as witness the attitude of Bishop Felix of Saragossa and of his colleagues. He is the Bishop to whom recourse is had to procure the excommunication and deposition of a bishop of so important a town as Arles."[1010]

The third zone was the East. "It was a notably more elastic regime than that which Rome consented to in the West, or imposed on the ecclesiae suburbicariae. But why? It was enough for Rome that, orthodoxy being safe, communion was preserved. The East did not want the subjection which Rome had brought the West to accept, and Rome respected this repugnance. I believe that the East had an insufficient realization of the Roman primacy. The East did not see in it what Rome saw, and what the West saw along with Rome, that is to say a continuation of the primacy of St. Peter. The Bishop of Rome was something more than Peter's successor in his cathedra, he was Peter perpetuated, he was invested with Peter's responsibility and Peter's power. The East had never understood this perpetuity. It was unknown to St. Basil, as also to St. Gregory of Nazianzen and St. Chrysostom. The authority of the Bishop of Rome was an authority of the first order, but we do not see that for the East it was an authority of divine right. What a pity that a point so fundamental had not been settled in full discussion and by an oecumenical council during the centuries in which the union still subsisted!"[1011]

Here Batiffol adds an important remark: "In the matter of her autonomy the East granted more to Rome in actual fact than she conceded in theory."[1012] Six years later, when he once more took up the examination of the conditions under which the Roman primacy was exercised, he recalls that from the first it was felt in the East. "The Catholica of the second and third centuries reveals the characteristics of the essential and primitive Catholicism, and this Catholicism is more Roman than it was to be in the Constantinian period or in the century of Justinian."[1013] But two things that happened at that period contributed to the slackening of the bonds attaching the East to Rome. First, the peace of Constantine "introduced a new and alien element into the life of the Catholica, namely the Christian prince. It was a protection, certainly, but also a tutelage; and it was the tutelage of a sovereignty that had no limit but its own discretion. . . Constantine did not favour the primacy of the Roman Church; the Emperor Constantius II, his son, at the time of Pope Liberius, favoured it still less. He maltreated it, he humiliated it, he would have gladly compromised it, had not Providence been on the watch. The Emperor Theodosius and the Council of Constantinople of 381 restored the Nicene faith in the East, but at this date the East re-established its own orthodoxy by its own means, and, as we may say, without asking anything from Rome. It needed the Council of Ephesus, and the Council of Chalcedon, to restore to the Roman Church that role in the East which was hers in causes concerning the faith; that is to say the rule that nothing was to be done without her, and that the Prince is not the arbiter of controversies."[1014] Furthermore—and this is the second fact—the Churches, which had begun to group themselves spontaneously around their Metropolitans, arranged themselves in ecclesiastical provinces that coincided with the imperial provinces, and ended, by analogy with the great civil dioceses, by constituting the patriarchates. "In sum, from the fourth to the sixth centuries a Kirchenrecht was elaborated and established in the East, a work of the Councils and the Emperors, a Kirchenrecht which Eastern Catholicism was of course free to set up, and which the Popes did not reject, save as regards the pretensions of the See of Constantinople in so far as they challenged the primacy of the Roman Church."[1015] However, two series of facts, already pointed out above, continued, even in the East, to witness to the exceptional authority of the Roman Church in deciding questions of faith and communion.

E. The Roman Primacy Not Exclusive Of A Canonical Pluralism, Simultaneous Or Successive, And Able To Bear With Imperfect Solutions

The historical view I have just resumed may serve to illustrate and even support two important considerations of a practical character.

The first is that a general recognition of the Roman primacy and of its normal exercise is in no wise incompatible with the existence in the Church of a plurality of canonical or ecclesiastical regimes, profoundly different from each other on account of difference of country or epoch. It would be a grave error to think that acceptance of the primacy in a given area or a given time would necessarily bring with it the imposition of a uniform ecclesiastical law and liturgy. The Sovereign Pontiffs, on the contrary, have never ceased to remind us that the legitimate rites and customs of the East are quite at home in the great Church, which is Catholic, and not Latin.

The second observation is that even if certain of these canonical regimes might not be wholly favourable to the exercise of the Roman primacy, yet—provided that they recognized the principle of the primacy, its authority to determine the rule of faith and the order of ecclesiastical communion—they would not necessarily be condemned. They might well be tolerated for centuries. Rome will be careful not to quench the smoking flax. If, for example, the East had remained in union with her she would never have dreamed of imposing a canonical regime such as that of the suburbicarian regions, or even one like that which obtained in the rest of the West. Even today the Code of Canon Law directly envisages only the Latin Church.[1016] Rather than make demands which, being premature, might well have seemed too exacting, she would even have had the patience to wait until the East should rediscover the right road for herself and without any prompting. So that by the time the Vatican proclamation of the privileges of the Sovereign Pontiff was made, it would have been evident to the Orientals themselves that the fullest confession of the Roman primacy brought with it no interference with their legitimate liberties.

F. The Vatican Proclamation, Hastened By The Schism, An Illumination Of The Gospel

What a pity, wrote Batiffol, that a point so fundamental as that of the Roman primacy was not settled by an Oecumenical Council while the union still subsisted! The schism had to come into being before circumstances allowed the East to reach full awareness of the supreme visible principle maintaining the unity of the Catholica in this world, the principle by which the East had doubtless lived without penetrating it as deeply as might have been wished. Twice over, at Lyons in 1274 and at Florence in 1439, it seemed for a moment that the rift was about to be closed and that the spiritual unity of the Christian world would be re-knit under the pressure of the great political threats that hung over the East. These hopes were, however, soon extinguished. And since the revealed truth has to be unfolded none the less, since from the treasures of the Gospel things new and old must constantly be drawn, it was in the absence of the Graeco-Russian Churches that the Roman Primacy was solemnly defined at the Vatican Council by a Church which schism had reduced and purified, and which no longer had to take account of the scruples and oppositions of an East unhappily turned dissident.

When, in the full light of the Council, we re-read the great scriptural texts that witness to the privilege of Peter, and compare their mystery with that other and deeper one of the Incarnation, of which it appears as a consequence, we can give them at last their full significance; and cannot fail to be struck by their probative force.

G. The Pope Greater Jurisdictionally, The Church Greater Absolutely

"What are we concerned with," asks Bellarmine, in the preface to his De Romano Pontifice, "when we speak of the primacy of the Roman Pontiff?

I reply in a word: with the sum and substance of Christianity. We are asking whether the Church should continue to live, or whether she is to dissolve and disappear. We are asking whether the foundation should be separated from the building, the shepherd from the flock. . ."

Cajetan had already said, with his unerring instinct, that the whole jurisdictional power of the Church is gathered up, as in its principle, into the power of the Pope. But, he adds at once, the power of the Pope is for the service of the Church. The Pope is greater than the rest of the Church jurisdictionally; but absolutely it is the Church that is the greater. "The Church is greater than the Pope, as the end is greater than the means, because better."[1017]



The Gospel texts are clear, but they teach too great a mystery to allow us to hope that they will ever cease to be contested. Men will quarrel over the primacy of Peter, as they quarrel over the divinity of Jesus and the existence of God. Not that these truths are doubtful in themselves, for they leap to the eye, but because the hearts and minds of men are obdurate and full of shadows. "The living truths of religion" said Soloviev in this connection, "do not compel the reason in the manner of geometrical theorems. Moreover it would be unsafe to assert that even the truths of mathematics are unanimously accepted by everyone for the sole reason of their intrinsic proof; they meet with general acceptance because no one is concerned to reject them. I am not so simple as to hope to convince those who are influenced by other motives more powerful than the search for religious truth. In setting out the general proofs of the permanent primacy of Peter as the foundation of the universal Church, my only aim has been to assist the intellectual task of those who deny this truth, not from personal or emotional reasons, but from unconscious error and inherited prejudice" (Russia and the Universal Church, p. 108).

(1) In his book Saint Pierre et les origines de la primaute romaine, Mgr. Besson sums up the present state of the controversy on the Tu es Petrus: "Some declare it interpolated. It is the quickest way to get rid of an awkward witness. They note that the Tu es Petrus is found in St. Matthew alone, not in St. Luke, nor in St. Mark; as if every text, to be authentic, must figure in all three Evangelists. They claim that the authors of the second century knew nothing of it, and that up to the fourth century it is cited with variants. These difficulties, hatched in modern times, have been carefully examined by serious authors and disposed of one after the other. Let it be enough to say that in the third century more than twenty citations of the Tu es Petrus have been mentioned, without the least discordant note, at Rome, in Africa, at Alexandria, at Caesarea—that is to say in those Western and Eastern Churches of which we have the most detailed information. Better still, some allusions to the same text and one certain citation have been discovered in second century writings, amongst others in the Gospel concordance edited towards 170 by Tatian under the title of Diatessaron. Since on the other hand the Tu es Petrus occurs in all the MSS. of the Gospel according to St. Matthew, we have really no reason to doubt its authenticity" (p. 32). Those who are not prepared to reject so well accredited a text fall back on distortion of its meaning. Their exegesis is fairly evaluated by Loisy, who prefers to reject the authenticity: "It is truly not necessary to prove that Jesus' words are addressed to Simon, son of John, who was to be, and has been, the foundation stone of the Church, and that they do not exclusively concern Simon's faith, or all those who might have the same faith; still less can the rock, here, be Christ Himself. Such interpretations were proposed by the ancient commentators who had the moral application of the text in view, and Protestant exegesis has turned them to polemical account; but if they are put forward as containing the historical sense of the Gospel they are simply subtleties that do violence to the text" (Les Evangiles synoptiques, vol. II, p. 7; cited in the above-named work, p. 33).[1018]

(2) As to the Pasce ovas meas, it is found in St. John in that chapter xxi which certain critics consider as an appendix, because a little epilogue (xx. 30 and 31) seems to separate it from the body of the Gospel. Appendix it may be, but it was certainly written by John himself, as language, manner and thought attest. Pere Lagrange says "this hypothesis of an appendix, even coming from the same author, seems to us to be neither plausible nor necessary. It is not suggested by the nature of chapter xxi, which does not go back on what precedes. . . It is not necessary, since there is another and much simpler hypothesis removing all pretext for regarding xxi as an appendix; and this is to suppose that the epilogue (xx. 30 and 31) is not in its proper place". A displacement of this little epilogue, which should appear at the end of the book after xxi. 1-23, appears to be "very likely when we note the perfect cohesion of xxi. 1-23 with what precedes" (J. M. Lagrange, O. P., l'Evangile selon saint Jean, 1925, p. 520). Or we can consider (St. Thomas) chapter xxi as forming, along with xx. 30 and 31, the epilogue of the whole Gospel. In any case there is but one author. Furthermore, chapter xxi is a climax: the Gospel "culminates with the foundation of the Church and the appointment of its head". But, adds Pere Lagrange, "is not that the very thing that so much irks the Protestant mind?" (ibid., p. 521).

(3) What the Catholic Church still reads after two thousand years in these two great Gospel texts may be put into four propositions: (1) Jesus addresses Peter himself (2) to confer on him the pontificate (spiritual jurisdiction) over the whole Church, (3) which pontificate is to pass to his successors, (4) who are the Roman Pontiffs.

The first two points contain no more than the literal, explicit and direct sense of the Gospel. (Let us leave aside the secondary senses and the spiritual senses which the Fathers so often delight in, and which some Protestant exegesis has for its own reasons long attempted, vainly, to substitute for the direct literal sense. On these patristic interpretations see Mgr. Besson, Saint Pierre et les origines de la primaute romaine, p. 34.)

Thou art Peter [Kipha, Cephas] and on this rock [Kipha, Cephas] I will build my Church, "cannot be understood save of building the Church on this man Peter (Cephas), otherwise the whole point of the phrase disappears. Jesus was called the corner stone (1 Pet. ii. 4-8; Eph. ii. 20), but He could not be indicating Himself here: it would have been rather like a bad joke, if we may venture to say so: Thou art Peter, but it is on quite another Peter that I am going to build ! McNeile tries to return indirectly to this superannuated Protestant interpretation by making out the Rock to be Peter's faith in the Messiahship of the Lord. It was indeed Peter's faith that introduced the promise, but the promise is given to the person whose faith has just been displayed. If the building is a group, the foundation is their head: Jesus, says St. Chrysostom, exalts Peter's declaration, He made him pastor (P. G. LVIII, col. 534). The position of Peter in the Church is that of the rock on which the building is erected; thanks to this foundation the building will stand firm; thanks to this head the community will be well ruled" (M. J. Lagrange, Evangile selon saint Matthieu, 1923, p. 324).

I will give unto thee the keys of the kingdom of heaven. "Far from being a mere repetition of what precedes, this verse explains in clearer terms the part to be played by Peter as foundation. . . At first sight Peter figures as the doorkeeper who opens and shuts... But this restricted office, being special, does not suffice for him who is the foundation, and we shall soon see that he is to carry out his duties inside the kingdom. The gift of the keys is therefore an investiture with power over the whole house; the Master keeps His sovereign power but delegates its exercise to the steward. I will lay the key of the house of David upon his shoulder; and he shall open and none shall shut, and he shall shut and none shall open. . . And they shall hang upon him all the glory of his father's house. This passage (Isa. xxii. 22 and 24) is applied in the Apocalypse (iii. 7) to Jesus Himself. Jesus is the foundation, and Peter is the foundation, Jesus has the key of David, and Peter has the keys: Peter's authority is therefore that of Jesus. The measures he will take upon earth as faithful steward, will be ratified in heaven, that is to say by God" (ibid., p. 328).

Whatsoever thou shalt bind on earth shall be bound in heaven. These words must be taken in a sense "comprising all the applications suitable to the power of a steward" (ibid., p. 329). Later on Jesus entrusts the power of binding and loosing to all the Apostles: "Whatsoever you shall bind on earth shall be bound in heaven. . . (Matt. xviii. 18). But "this in no wise revoked the power bestowed on Peter as the principal steward of the house; its purpose was rather to associate them with him who bears the keys" (ibid., p. 355).

For in St. John Peter will be put in charge of all the sheep without distinction: "Peter is henceforth the shepherd of the flock in place of Christ who is visible no longer, having ascended to His Father. The Apostles have received their mission and the power to remit or retain sins (xx. 23); they too then can be called shepherds with respect to the others. But in comparison with the first shepherd they fall back into the flock; they are not even named apart as occupying an intermediate rank, for lambs and sheep are here synonymous" (J. M. Lagrange, Evangile selon saint Jean, p. 529). In conferring on Peter the supreme authority Jesus admonishes him that its use is to be governed by love; he is to feed, not to oppress; and to feed sheep, not goats or wolves; sheep that belong to Him, that are His. Peter's care for them is to reflect that of Jesus. If he fails Jesus will judge him; we are not, for all that, dispensed from obeying him, unless indeed something manifestly immoral should be commanded—a thing which, as we have seen, will be possible only in the sphere of particular decisions.

That suffices for the first two points. The third, affirming that the primacy of Peter will pass to his successors, is also evident. The Church, according to the Gospel, needs the power of Peter as the house needs a foundation, the household a steward, the flock a shepherd. If then the Church is immortal, the power of Peter is immortal. So true is this that a good number of those who deny the perpetuity of Peter's power, have come to deny that of the Church, to sacrifice the Gospel texts that concern her, and to assert that Jesus believed in the imminent end of the world, and so never had any idea of founding a Church at all. "It cannot be said "writes St. Thomas Aquinas of the power of the keys, "that though He conferred this dignity on Peter, it does not pass from him to others. For it is evident that Christ so instituted His Church that it would endure to the end of the world according to Isaias ix. 7: He shall sit upon the throne of David, and upon his kingdom to establish it, and strengthen it with judgment and with justice, from henceforth and for ever. Hence it is evident that those He appointed to the ministry then and there, were, for the good of the Church, to communicate their powers to their successors until the end of time: especially since He says [Matt. xxviii. 20]: Behold, I am with you all days, even to the consummation of the world" (IV Con. Gen., lxxvi).

On the fourth point, affirming that the successors of Peter are the Roman Pontiffs, it will be sufficient to quote a simple and powerful passage from Soloviev: "The perfect circle of the one universal Church requires a unique centre, not so much for its perfection as for its very existence. The Church upon earth, called to gather in the multitude of the nations, must, if she is to remain an active society, possess a definite universal authority to set against national divisions; if she is to enter the current of history and undergo continual change and adaptation in her external circumstances and relationships and yet preserve her identity, she requires an authority essentially conservative but nevertheless active, fundamentally unchangeable though outwardly adaptable; and finally, if she is set amidst the frailty of man to assert herself in reaction against all the powers of evil, she must be equipped with an absolutely firm and impregnable foundation, stronger than the gates of hell. Now we know on the one hand that Christ foresaw the necessity of such an ecclesiastical monarchy and therefore conferred on a single individual supreme and undivided authority over His Church; and on the other hand we see that of all the ecclesiastical powers in the Christian world there is only one which perpetually and unchangingly preserves its central and universal character and at the same time is specially connected by an ancient and widespread tradition with him to whom Christ said: Thou art Peter and upon this rock I will build my Church, and the gates of hell shall not prevail against it. Christ's words could not remain without their effect in Christian history; and the principal phenomenon in Christian history must have an adequate cause in the word of God. Where then have Christ's words to Peter produced a corresponding effect except in the Chair of Peter? Where does the Chair find an adequate cause except in the promise made to Peter?" (Russia and the Universal Church, p. 107).

Those who consider the Roman Church to be the Beast of the Apocalypse, and the Pope as Antichrist, find their answer in Newman. Giving an account of his intellectual attitude towards 1839, he explains how, from his Protestant infancy, this persuasion had remained as a stain on his imagination: "As regards my reason, "he continues, "I began in 1833 to form theories on the subject, which tended to obliterate it; yet by 1838 I had got no further than to consider Antichrist as not the Church of Rome, but the spirit of the old pagan city, the fourth monster of Daniel, which was still alive, and which had corrupted the Church which was planted there. Soon after this indeed, and before my attention was directed to the Monophysite controversy, I underwent a great change of opinion. I saw that, from the nature of the case, the true Vicar of Christ must ever to the world seem like Antichrist, and be stigmatized as such, because a resemblance must ever exist between an original and a forgery; and thus the fact of such a calumny was almost one of the notes of the Church" (Apologia Pro Vita Sua, ch. iii).

A further precision should be made at this point. The Church can be founded, in the sense of that word when applied to a workman's laying the foundations of a building. That is to say, episodically, or in so far as concerns her historical appearance. The workman may die but the building remains; his role as founder is one that cannot be handed on. Or again, the Church can be said to be founded in the sense in which that word is used of a rock or the foundations themselves, on which the weight of the building rests—that is to say, structurally and under the aspect of her permanence into the present. All the Apostles founded the Church in the first sense—and it is in this that the apostolic privilege, common to the Apostles as such, consists. Peter alone founded the Church, in the second sense; hence his privilege as the shepherd of Christ's sheep, his "trans-apostolic" privilege.

In his recent work, Petrus, Junger, Apostel, Martyrer: Das historische und das theologische Petrusproblem (Zwingli-Verlag, Zurich 1952), Herr Oscar Cullmann has made an attempt to explain away the "trans-apostolic "privilege, transmissible and permanent, proper to Peter alone, in terms of the intransmissible and temporary apostolic privilege common to all the Apostles. His whole exegesis is dominated by this preoccupation, especially when he is dealing with Matt. xvi. 18-19, where it leads him to separate the odd verses as opposed to linking them up. On this subject see my own book Primaute' de Pierre dans la perspective protestante et dans la perspective catholique, Paris, Editions Alsatia, 1953.



During a vacancy of the Apostolic See the Church, as far as the supreme jurisdiction is concerned, possesses only the power of proceeding to the election of a new Pope; either through the cardinals, or, in default of them, by other ways: "Papatus, secluso papa, non est in Ecclesia nisi in potentia ministerialiter electiva, quia scilicet potest, sede vacante, papam eligere, per cardinales, vel per seipsam in casu" (Cajetan, De Comparatione Auctoritatis Papae et Concilii, cap. xiv, no. 210). Cajetan here expresses astonishment at Gerson's grave errors.

(1) Nature of the election. All that the Church can then do, as far as supreme jurisdiction is concerned, is to designate him on whom God, in virtue of the Gospel promises, will send it down directly. "The power to confer the pontificate belongs to Christ alone, not to the Church, which does no more than designate a particular subject" (John of St. Thomas, II-II, q. 1-7; disp. 2, a. I, no. 9, vol. VII, p. 218).

(2) Can the Pope directly designate his successor? It is not fitting, and all theologians are here agreed, that the designation of a successor should be made by the Pope himself. The act of electing a Pope precedes, strictly speaking, any exercise of the papal power; and so it is fittingly assigned to the Church and not to the Pope. Such in fact is the usage, conformable, as Cajetan says, to the divine prudence which assigns a proper time for everything. "Be not therefore solicitous for tomorrow, for the morrow will be solicitous for itself. Sufficient for the day is the evil thereof" (Matt. vi. 34). For certain theologians indeed, the direct election of a successor by the Pope would be invalid—for example, Cajetan (Apologia de Comparata Auctoritate Papae et Concilii, cap. xiii, no. 736), according to whom the power to elect a successor resides in the Pope not in a formal manner, apt to pass into act (as the mason's art is in the mason), but in an eminent manner, inapt for immediate exercise (as the mason's art is in the architect). For many others, however, it would be simply contra-indicated in the present state of things. History records the case of Felix IV who, in 530, chose his successor, Boniface I1. But did the latter become Pope in virtue of this election or in virtue of the later ratification by the Roman clergy? (cf. L. Duchesne, L'Eglise au VI siecle, Paris 1925, pp. 142-6). Boniface II, in his turn, made the Roman clergy promise to maintain after his death the choice he had made of Vigilius as his successor: but fearing, later on, for the consequences of such an act, he publicly retracted it (cf. T. Ortolan, art. "Elections des papes", Dict. de theol. cath., col. 2284).

(3) In whom does the power to elect the Pope reside? If the Pope is not concerned to designate his successor directly, it belongs to him, on the other hand, to determine or modify the conditions of a valid election: "The Pope" says Cajetan, "can settle who the electors shall be, and change and limit in this way the mode of election to the point of invalidating anything done outside these arrangements" (De Comparatione Auctoritatis Papae et Concilii, cap. xiii, no. 201). Thus, resuming a usage introduced by Julius II, Pius IX decreed that if a Pope should chance to die during the sitting of an Oecumenical Council, the election of his successor would be made not by the Council, which would be at once interrupted ipso jure, but by the College of Cardinals alone (Acta et Decreta Sacrosancti Oecumenici Concilii Vaticani, Rome 1872, p. 104 et seq. ). This same provision is recalled in the constitution Vacante Sede Apostolica, of Pius X, 25th Dec. 1904.

In a case where the settled conditions of validity have become inapplicable, the task of determining new ones falls to the Church by devolution, this last word being taken, as Cajetan notes (Apologia, cap. xiii, no. 745) not in the strict sense (devolution is strictly to the higher authority in case of default in the lower) but in the wide sense, signifying all transmission even to an inferior.

It was in the course of the disputes on the respective authorities of Pope and Council that the question of the power to elect a Pope came up in the fifteenth and sixteenth centuries. On this point Cajetan's thought is as follows.

He explains first that the power to elect the Pope resides in his predecessors eminently, regularly and principally. Eminently, as the "forms" of lower beings are in the angels, who, however, are incapable in themselves of exercising the activities of bodies (Apologia, cap. xiii, no. 736). Regularly, that is to say as an ordinary right, unlike the Church in her widowhood, unable to determine a new mode of election save "in casu", unless forced by sheer necessity. Principally, unlike the widowed Church, in whom this power resides only secondarily (no. 737). During a vacancy of the Apostolic See, neither the Church nor the Council can contravene the provisions already laid down to determine the valid mode of election (De Comparata, cap. xiii, no. 202). However, in case of permission (for example if the Pope has provided nothing against it), or in case of ambiguity (for example, if it is unknown who the true Cardinals are or who the true Pope is, as was the case at the time of the Great Schism), the power "of applying the Papacy to such and such a person" devolves on the universal Church, the Church of God (ibid., no. 204).

Cajetan affirms next that the power to elect the Pope resides formally—that is to say in the Aristotelian sense, as apt to proceed directly to the act of electing—in the Roman Church, including in that Church the cardinal bishops who, in a way, are suffragans of the Bishop of Rome. That is why, according to the canonical rule provided, the right to elect the Pope belongs in fact to the cardinals alone (Apologia, cap. xiii, no. 742). That again is why, when the provisions of the Canon Law cannot be fulfilled, the right to elect will belong to certain members of the Church of Rome. In default of the Roman clergy the right will belong to the Church universal, of which the Pope is to be Bishop (ibid., nos. 741 and 746).

(4) The modes of election in history. If the power to elect the Pope belongs, by the nature of things, and therefore by divine law, to the Church taken along with her Head, the concrete mode in which the election is to be carried out, says John of St. Thomas, has been nowhere indicated in Scripture; it is mere ecclesiastical law which will determine which persons in the Church can validly proceed to election.

At different times and with various qualifications the following have taken part in the election: the Roman clergy (whose right seems to be primary and direct), the people (but only in so far as it consents to and approves the election made by the clergy), the secular princes (whether licitly by simply giving their consent and their support to the person elected, or by an abuse, as when Justinian forbade the elect to be consecrated before the Emperor's approbation), and lastly the cardinals who are the first of the Roman clergy, so that today it is to the Roman clergy that the election of a Pope is once again confided (cf. John of St. Thomas, II-II, q. 1, a. 7; disp. 2, a. 1, nos. 21 et seq.; vol. VII, pp. 223 et seq. ). The Dict. de theol. cath. has an article, "Election des papes", containing an historical account of the various conditions under which the Popes have been elected.

The constitution Vacante Sede Apostolica of Pius X, dated the 25th December 1904, provides for three modes of election: a. by inspiration, when the cardinals, prompted by the Spirit, unanimously proclaim the Sovereign Pontiff; b. by compromise, when the cardinals agree to leave the election to three, or five or seven of their number; c. by scrutiny, when two-thirds of the voices (exclusive of that of the elect himself) are obtained (nos. 55 to 57).

(5) Validity and certitude of election. The election, remarks John of St. Thomas, may be invalid when carried out by persons not qualified, or when, although effected by persons qualified, it suffers from defect of form or falls on an incapable subject, as for example one of unsound mind or unbaptized.

But the peaceful acceptance of the universal Church given to an elect as to a head to whom it submits is an act in which the Church engages herself and her fate. It is therefore an act in itself infallible and is immediately recognizable as such. (Consequently, and mediately, it will appear that all conditions prerequisite to the validity of the election have been fulfilled. )

Acceptance by the Church operates either negatively, when the election is not at once contested; or positively, when the election is first accepted by those present and then gradually by the rest (cf. John of St. Thomas, II-II, qq. 1-7; disp. 2, a. 2, nos. 1, 15, 28, 34, 40; pp. 228 et seq. ).

The Church has the right to elect the Pope, and therefore the right to certain knowledge as to who is elected. As long as any doubt remains and the tacit consent of the universal Church has not yet remedied the possible flaws in the election, there is no Pope, papa dubius, papa nullus. As a matter of fact, remarks John of St. Thomas, in so far as a peaceful and certain election is not apparent, the election is regarded as still going on. And since the Church has full control, not over a Pope certainly elected, but over the election itself, she can take all measures needed to bring it to a conclusion. The Church can therefore judge a Pope to be doubtful. Thus, says John of St. Thomas, the Council of Constance judged three Popes to be doubtful, of whom two were deposed, and the third renounced the pontificate (loc. cit., a. 3, nos. 10-11; vol. VII, p. 254).

To guard against all uncertainties that might affect the election the constitution Vacante Sede Apostolica counsels the elect not to refuse an office which the Lord will help him to fill (no. 86); and it stipulates that as soon as the election is canonically effected the Cardinal Dean shall ask, in the name of the whole College, the consent of the elect (no. 87). "This consent being given—if necessary, after a delay fixed by the prudence of the cardinals and by a majority of voices—the elect is at once the true Pope and possesses in act, and can exercise, the full and absolute jurisdiction over all the world" (no. 88).

(6) Sanctity of the election. These words do not mean that the election of the Pope is always effected with an infallible assistance since there are cases in which the election is invalid or doubtful, and remains therefore in suspense. Nor does it mean that the best man is necessarily chosen.

It means that if the election is validly effected (which, in itself, is always a benefit) even when resulting from intrigues and regrettable interventions (in which case what is sin remains sin before God) we are certain that the Holy Spirit who, overruling the Popes, watches in a special way over His Church, turning to account the bad things they do as well as the good, has not willed, or at least permitted, this election for any but spiritual ends, whose virtue will either be manifest, and sometimes with small delay, in the course of history, or will remain hidden till the revelation of the Last Day. But these are mysteries that faith alone can penetrate.

Let us single out this passage from the constitution Vacante Sede Apostolica: "It is manifest that the crime of simony, odious at once to God and man, is absolutely to be condemned in the election of the Roman Pontiff. We reprobate and condemn it once more, and we declare that those guilty of the same incur the penalty of excommunication ipso facto. However, we annul the measure by which Julius II and his successors have invalidated simoniacal elections (from which may God preserve us!) that we may remove all pretext for contesting the validity of the election of the Roman Pontiff."



How can the pontificate, once validly held, be lost? At the most in two ways.

a. The first—and at bottom, as we shall see, the only way—is by the disappearance of the subject himself; whether as a result of an inevitable event (death, or that species of death which consists in irremediable loss of reason), or as a result of the free renunciation of the pontificate such as that of St. Celestine V, "che fece. . . il gran' rifiuto". The Pope was considered as having resigned when he was so placed that he could not possibly exercise his powers: "It appears that in those times, when a bishop was removed from his see by a capital sentence (death, exile, relegation) or by an equivalent measure emanating from the secular authority, the see was considered as vacant. It was under these circumstances that the Roman Church replaced in the third century Pontianus by Anteros, in the sixth century Silverius by Vigilius, in the seventh Martin by Eugenius" (L. Duchesne, The Early History of the Church, vol. III, p. 160, note 1).

b. The second way would be by deposition. If deposition means, properly, deprivation by a superior authority, it is evident that the Pope, having the highest spiritual jurisdiction on earth, can never in this sense be deposed. When then the deposition of a Pope is spoken of it can only be in some improper sense. Two cases present themselves.

First, there is the deposition of a doubtful Pope. But a Pope whose election remains uncertain was never Pope, so that there is no question here of deposition properly so called.

Next, comes the debated case of an heretical Pope.

Many theologians hold that the assistance promised by Jesus to the successors of Peter will not only prevent them from publicly teaching heretical doctrine, but will also prevent them from falling into heresy in their private capacity. If that view is correct the question does not arise. St. Robert Bellarmine, in his De Romano Pontifice (lib. II, cap. xxx), already held this thesis as probable and easy to defend. It was however less widespread in his time than it is today. It has gained ground, largely on account of historical studies which have shown that what was once imputed to certain Popes, such as Vigilius, Liberius, Honorius, as a private heresy, was in fact nothing more than a lack of zeal and of courage in certain difficult moments, to proclaim and especially to define precisely, what the true doctrine was.

Nevertheless, numerous and good theologians of the sixteenth and seventeenth centuries have admitted that the Pope as a private person could fall into heresy, and not only in secret but even openly.

Some, such as Bellarmine and Suarez, considered that such a Pope, withdrawing himself from the Church, was ipso facto deposed, papa haereticus est depositus. It seems that heresy was regarded by these theologians as a kind of moral suicide, suppressing the very subject of the Papacy. Thus we come back without difficulty to the first way in which the pontificate can be lost.

Others, such as Cajetan, and John of St. Thomas, whose analysis seems to me more penetrating, have considered that even after a manifest sin of heresy the Pope is not yet deposed, but should be deposed by the Church, papa haereticus non est depositus, sed deponendus. Nevertheless, they added, the Church is not on that account above the Pope. And to make this clear they fall back on an explanation of the same nature as those we have used in Excursus IV. They remark on the one hand that in divine law the Church is to be united to the Pope as the body is to the head; and on the other that, by divine law, he who shows himself a heretic is to be avoided after one or two admonitions (Tit. iii. 10). There is therefore an absolute contradiction between the fact of being Pope and the fact of persevering in heresy after one or two admonitions. The Church's action is simply declaratory, it makes it plain that an incorrigible sin of heresy exists; then the authoritative action of God disjoins the Papacy from a subject who, persisting in heresy after admonition, becomes in divine law, inapt to retain it any longer. In virtue therefore of Scripture the Church designates and God deposes. God acts with the Church, says John of St. Thomas, somewhat as a Pope would act who decided to attach indulgences to certain places of pilgrimage, but left it to a subordinate to designate which these places should be (II-II, q. I; disp. 2, a. 3, no. 29, vol. VII, p. 264). The explanation of Cajetan and John of St. Thomas—which, according to them, is also valid, properly applied, as an interpretation of the enactments of the Council of Constance—brings us back in its turn to the case of a subject who becomes in Divine law incapable at a given moment of retaining the papacy. It is also reducible to the loss of the pontificate by default of the subject. This then is the fundamental case and the others are merely variants. In a study in the Revue Thomiste (1900, p. 631, "Lettres de Savonarole aux princes chretiens pour la reunion d'un concile"), P. Hurtaud, O. P., has entered a powerful plea in the case—still open—of the Piagnoni. He makes reference to the explanation of Roman theologians prior to Cajetan, according to which a Pope who fell into heresy would be deposed ipso facto: the Council concerned would have only to put on record the fact of heresy and notify the Church that the Pope involved had forfeited his primacy. Savonarola, he says, regarded Alexander VI as having lost his faith. "The Lord, moved to anger by this intolerable corruption, has, for some time past, allowed the Church to be without a pastor. For I bear witness in the name of God that this Alexander VI is in no way Pope and cannot be. For quite apart from the execrable crime of simony, by which he got possession of the [papal] tiara through a sacrilegious bargaining, and by which every day he puts up to auction and knocks down to the highest bidder ecclesiastical benefices, and quite apart from his other vices—well-known to all—which I will pass over in silence, this I declare in the first place and affirm it with all certitude, that the man is not a Christian, he does not even believe any longer that there is a God; he goes beyond the final limits of infidelity and impiety" (Letter to the Emperor).[1019] Basing our argument on the doctrinal authorities which Cajetan was soon to invoke, we should say that Savonarola wished to collect together the Council, not because, like the Gallicans, he placed a Council above the Pope (the Letters to the Princes are legally and doctrinally unimpeachable), but so that the Council, before which he would prove his accusation, should declare the heresy of Alexander VI in his status as a private individual. P. Hurtaud concludes: "Savonarola's acts and words—and most of his words are acts—should be examined in detail. Each of his words should be carefully weighed and none of the circumstances of his actions should be lost sight of. For the friar is a master of doctrine; he does not only know it but he lives it too. In his conduct nothing is left to chance or the mood of the moment. He has a theological or legal principle as the motive power in each one of his decisions. He should not be judged by general laws, for his guides are principles of an exceptional order—though I do not mean by this that he placed himself above or outside the common law. The rules he invokes are admitted by the best Doctors of the Church; there is nothing exceptional in them save the circumstances which make them lawful, and condition their application."



I shall give a brief outline of (1) St. Thomas' doctrine on this point, (2) the teaching of recent Popes, (3) certain precisions made recently by Christian philosophers.

(1) When St. Thomas enquires whether legislation can be done by anybody (I-II, q. go, a. 3) his answer is as follows: "The law envisages, first and principally, order for the common good. Now, to order something for the common good is the business either of the multitude as a whole or of the person who is the representative of the multitude as a whole [vel alicujus gerentis vicem totius multitudinis]. And this is why the establishing of the law pertains either to the multitude as a whole or to the public personage who has charge of the multitude as a whole. In the same way the ordering of something to an end is, in all other domains, the concern of him whose proper business the end is. "Further on (I-II, q. 97, a. 3) he explains that "where a free multitude is concerned, which can give itself its own law, the multitude's consent to some observance, made manifest by custom, carries more weight than the authority of the head of the multitude, who can legislate only inasmuch as he is its personification [in quantum gerit personam multitudinis]"; in a multitude which is not, on the contrary, free to give itself its own laws (for example, a people decisively conquered), custom has the force of law only insofar as it is tolerated by the legislator. In II-II, q. 10, a. 10, St. Thomas writes that the diverse forms of the dominium and of political power arise from positive human law, "dominium et praelatio introducta sunt ex jure humano". From these three texts it can be clearly deduced that although social existence and political authority come from the natural law, those in whom this political authority resides are the representatives of the multitude.

Cajetan considered this problem with his accustomed shrewdness (In II-II, q. 50, a. I). He writes: "The choice of a constitution is not an act of government but an act anterior to any form of government [electio regiminis non est pars regiminis sed praevium ad omnem speciem regiminis]. By natural law, it is for the people to choose whether the constitution shall be popular, aristocratic, or royal [ad electionem siquidem populi spectat, secundum naturale jus, an populare an optimatum an regale sit futurum regimen]. "We must note that "the word 'people' has two senses: it can stand for either the people itself or a popular regime. A royal regime depends on the choice of the people which transfers to the king its vote and its power, and that is why he is said to be the vicar of the people [regimen regium a populi quidem electione dependet, qui vota sua et potestatem in eum transtulerunt, et propterea vices populi gerere dicitur]. But the royal regime—which is held to be the best—does not depend on a popular regime—according to St. Thomas, the reverse is true—and is not its representative. "Thus, the power of the multitude as a whole is the constitutive power which decides the political constitution by custom or by vote; the power of its regent or vicar is the ruling power which exercises legislative, judicial and coercive functions within the limits envisaged in advance by the political constitution. In his Apologia de Comparata Auctoritate Papae et Concilii (ch. xiv, nos. 562-4), Cajetan makes distinction between the royal and the papal powers; "Kings are God's ministers not immediately but as representatives of the multitude. The Pope, who is the vicar not of the multitude but of Jesus Christ, is in a quite different position. "Whether the king be made king by the people according to the natural law, as was Saul, or given miraculously, as was David, he is the representative of the people and its power; he is the people's vicar and is not, immediately, that of God. The Pope—whether he be chosen directly by God or indirectly by the Church, represents neither the power of the people (in the ecclesiological sense) nor his own power; he represents, directly, the power of Christ and is Christ's immediate Vicar, the Vicar of Christ alone. "This is the difference between the king and the Pope: According to the natural law, the royal power is primarily in the people and derives from the people to the king. But the papal power is above nature and, by a divine right, resides primarily in one single person, not in the community."

The same doctrine is put forward as traditional and explained by St. Robert Bellarmine in his De Membris Ecclesiae Militantis (bk. iii, "De Laicis", ch. vi): (1) He considers political power in general without going into its particular forms—monarchy, aristocracy, democracy; it comes direct from God who is the Author of our nature, and exists by natural law; whether they like it or not men ought to accept it under pain of perishing—hence St. Paul's phrase (Rom. xiii. 2) "He that resisteth the power resisteth the ordinance of God." (2) As far as the natural law is concerned this power is, immediately, in the multitude; (3) but since it cannot itself exercise it, the multitude is obliged under natural law to transfer it to one or more subjects. (4) The different regimes—monarchy, aristocracy, democracy—fall under human law and not natural law; they depend on the consent of the multitude which can forsake one kind for another, and come from God indirectly, by way of human reason. (5) The differences between the political and ecclesiastical powers are: a. The political power resides immediately in the multitude and the ecclesiastical in a single human person. b. The political power, considered in general, is of divine law, and of human law, as considered in particular: while the ecclesiastical power is in all aspects of divine law and comes directly from God. Defending these theses of his Controversies in his Apology against James I, Bellarmine also recalls that when the people has given itself a legitimate head it is bound to obey him.

In his Defensio Fidei Catholicae Adversus Anglicanae Sectae Errores (bk. iii, chs. ii and iii; vol. XXIV in the Vives edition, pp. 206 et seq. ), Suarez brings against James I's theory on the divine right of kings the same traditional theses: (1) The supreme civil power is conferred immediately by God on the perfect community alone. (2) In this sense—that is, abstracting from the many particular regimes—we may say that democracy stems from the natural law. (3) The political principate is conferred on monarchs through the mediation of the human will. (4) Where a transmission of power is concerned the human will can intervene in two ways—a. by simple designation of the person to whom the power passes just as it is instituted by God (so that the succession of Popes chosen by the Church is of divine law); b. by free determination of the power itself ("per novam donationem ultra designationem personae"), so that the establishing of a king by consent of the people is of human law. On the subject of the society, which is of natural law, and the forms of the dominium, which are of human law, Suarez refers us to St. Thomas (II-II, q. 10, a. 10). (5) To James's criticism of Bellarmine as having maintained that the people retains its power in habitu when it makes the transfer to the king, and that this is in order to be able to use it in certain cases, Suarez replies that if the people does retain its power in habitu this is in order to exercise it only to the degree envisaged beforehand by the constitution, and not arbitrarily. The people cannot restrain the power transferred to the king, nor abrogate his just laws. To sum up, there is here a rejection of the theory according to which rulers ought to obey the people ad nutum, since the people's concern is to command and not to obey.

These condemnations of the errors of James I were made by Bellarmine and Suarez at the request of the Sovereign Pontiff.

(2) The teaching of recent Popes. In the Syllabus Pius IX took a firm stand against those who regarded a divinised humanity as a law unto itself: cf. the condemned propositions 56, 59, 60, 63—"It is by no means essential that human laws should conform to the natural law or receive from God the power of binding us": "Law consists in material fact": "Authority is nothing other than a sum total of numbers and material forces": "It is permissible to refuse obedience to legitimate rulers and rebel against them" (Denz. 1756, 1759, 1760, 1763).

It was against this background that Leo XIII wrote the encyclical Diuturnum Illud (29 June 1881). In it he says that those who attack the Church also destroy the true doctrine concerning political power. It is false that the people is the source of all power, and that authority resides in them without the power to emerge in responsible heads, so that the people always commands and never obeys: "Many of our contemporaries, following in the footsteps of those who, in the last century, awarded themselves the title of the Philosophers, claim that power comes from the people, that those who wield it in society are never the holders of it but only the mandatories of the people, and thus of their nature recallable by the people's will [potestatem. . . non uti suam geri, sed ut a populo sibi mandatam]. "In fact, God is the Source of all authority: it was His will that human nature should be social and in consequence that there should be political authority. Legitimate political power, which resides in rulers, comes from God Himself, and the people is bound in conscience to obey it. This much established (and it is the essence of the Pope's message), it remains to recall that peoples can intervene in the choice of either their rulers or of the political regimes which suit them. Here comes a text of Leo XIII which does not seem to be based upon the doctrine of the theologians just quoted but does not, for all that, repudiate it. It will be remembered that according to this doctrine the transmission of power can be carried out in two ways: a. by simple designation of the subject to whom God transmits authority directly (as is the case in the election of Popes)—"populus solum eligens, Deus auctoritatem immediate conferens"; b. by free determination of power derived from God (as is the case where a people chooses its rulers and organises itself as a monarchy, aristocracy or democracy)—"populus eligens et determinans, Deus auctoritatem mediate conferens". The text of Diuturnum appears to envisage one method of transmission only, equally valid for civil society and society in the ecclesiological sense: "The choice of the people designates the ruler but does not confer the rights of the political principate [designatur princeps, non conferuntur jura principatus]; power is not delegated, but it is decided who shall exercise it [neque mandatur imperium, sed statuitur a quo sit gerendum]. "In spite of this, Leo XIII did not intend to express disapproval of the long theological tradition exemplified in St. Thomas, Cajetan, Bellarmine and Suarez, according to which political power derives from God to the people and from the people to the rulers in whom it resides. There is nothing in the text to warrant such an interpretation and the Pope himself said so later on. He was solely concerned, as the context shows, to put an end to the errors of those who denied that temporal authority comes from God, and locate the source of political power not in Him but in the people itself and mere numbers. His condemnation is directed against a popular choice which should claim to be the creator of that power; not against a popular choice which at one and the same time transmits to rulers, and determines, a power originating in God and coming by way of the people.

Here we must quote a passage from Pius X's letter of 25th August 1910 on the Sillon: "The Sillon locates public authority primarily in the people, from which it derives to those who rule, but in such a fashion that it continues to reside in the people. This doctrine was formally condemned by Leo XII1. "There then follows the first text from Diuturnum Illud quoted above. Pius X goes on: "Doubtless, the Sillon holds that the authority which it locates primarily in the people descends from God—but in such a way [and here the Pope quotes Marc Sangnier] that it comes from below, while, in the organization of the Church, power comes from above. But apart from the fact that it is abnormal for delegation to go upwards—since it is of its nature to come down—Leo XIII refuted in advance this attempt to reconcile Catholic doctrine with the errors of the Philosophes. "There then follows the second text from Diuturnum, quoted above. How are these passages to be interpreted? First it should be noted that theologians speak of the "derivation" and "transmission" of power rather than of its "delegation". There is no reason why power should not come from the people to its rulers by derivation and transmission. Second, it must be emphasised that if the traditional theological doctrine (according to which political power comes from God through the people and thus up to the rulers and regimes which the people chooses) seems attacked in this letter concerning the Sillon, it is not so attacked on its own account. It is attacked solely insofar as an attempt has been made to link it with "the errors of the Philosophes", and to turn it to account in the service of a movement which was doubtless full of zeal in principle, but ended in aberration, as the pontifical document shows.

Any doubts as to the correctness of this interpretation should be dispelled by the most recent pontifical document on this subject, His Holiness Pope Pius XII's Allocution to the Auditors of the Rota, 2 October 1945 (Acta Apost. Sedis, 1945, pp. 256-62): "If we consider the favourite thesis of democracy (a thesis constantly defended by great Christian thinkers)—that is, that the subject of the political power that derives from God is, first and foremost, the people (not, indeed, the "masses") [vale a dire che il soggetto originario del potere civile derivante da Dio e il popolo, non gia la "massa "], the distinction between Church and State, even a democratic State, becomes ever clearer. . . Ecclesiastical power is in fact essentially different from civil power. . . The origin of the Church, unlike that of the State, does not arise from natural law. . . The Church derives from a positive act of God which is beyond and above man's social character but in perfect harmony with it. . . This fundamental difference is manifest at one point above all. Unlike the foundation of the State, the foundation of the Church, as a society, was carried out not from below but from above [la fondazione della Chiesa come societa si e effetuata, contrariamente all'origine dello Stato, non dal basso all'alto, ma dall'alto al basso]. Which means that Christ who, in His Church, has set up the Kingdom of God on earth which He announced and destined for all men and ages, did not hand on to the community of the faithful the mission as Master, Priest and Shepherd which He received from the Father for the salvation of all men. He handed it on, rather, to a college of Apostles or envoys chosen by Himself so that they should, by their preaching, their priestly ministry and their social power respectively, bring into the Church the multitude of the faithful in order to sanctify them, enlighten them, and lead them into full maturity as disciples of Christ. . . In the Church, in contradistinction to the State, the basic subject of power and its ultimate manifestation, the supreme judge, is never the community of the faithful [nella Chiesa, altrimenti che nello Stato, il soggetto primordiale del potere. . . non e mai la comunita dei fideli]. There is thus no popular tribunal or judiciary power emanating from the people in the Church as founded by Christ, and there cannot be."[1020] Thus political society organizes itself jurisdictionally from below, while the Church organizes itself jurisdictionally from above; the basic subject of power is the people in the first case and the Vicar of Christ in the second. It should be added that "the favourite thesis of democracy", as the Holy Father calls it, is also the thesis of those who—like St. Thomas (II-II, q. 50, a. 1) and Cajetan—consider monarchy as the regime with the greatest perfection. What it does overturn completely is the theory of the Divine Right of Kings, according to which Kings are the vicars of God and not of the people, and indeed the theory of the Divine Right of any political regime. Even in the case of Israel, it did not matter whether the king were created by the people—as in the case of Saul—or given by God—as in the case of David; it is always the people that he represents (Cajetan, Apologia, no. 563).

(3) The scholastic theory of the transmission of political power has recently been taken up again and further developed in the United States, notably in two important works on political philosophy: Jacques Maritain's Man and the State and Yves Simon's Philosophy of Democratic Government, both published in 1951 by the University of Chicago Press.

Maritain comes to direct grips with the problem in the fifth chapter of his book, entitled "The Democratic Charter". But light is thrown on this study by the important clarifications which have gone before: a clear-cut distinction between the political body or society, which is the whole, and the State, which is merely a part of it though the principal part; a substitution of the concept of a political principate for the misleading modern idea of political sovereignty, conceived as the natural, innate and inalienable right of a supreme power separated from its subjects and above them: a distinction between power, or the force by which you can make others obey you, and authority, or the right to rule and be obeyed by others—power needing authority, without which it is tyranny: and so on. Concerning the point under discussion here, the following points should be noted: (1) Whatever the type of the political regime, authority derives from the consent of the people and its right to self-government. It rises from the base of the structure of the body politic to its highest point; but its primary source is in the Author of our human nature. (2) Authority is not located in the people by God in a transitory fashion. It is in the people inherently, and when the people transmits it to its rulers it acts not as a mere instrument but as a second cause. (3) The people does not lose the authority or the rights which it hands over to its rulers, but continues to possess them permanently; what it does renounce is a certain ulterior exercise of these rights—the special cases of a popular movement or referendum excepted—so that insofar as it does not command its rulers it is bound in conscience to obey them. (4) Appointment of a deputy does not take anything away from the first subject of a right; one can invest another man with one's rights without losing them, provided that he receives them vicariously—that is, as one's deputy. Moreover, the rights of a deputy are not additional to those of the first subject; the rights of the Pope are not additional to those of Christ. The office of a deputy, of a vices gerens implies a "passing-through".

Chapter iii of Yves Simon's book, entitled "Sovereignty in Democracy", discusses with admirable clarity, three theories: (1) The "coach-driver" theory of government, according to which no one man may demand obedience from any other, and our only obligation of obedience is to ourselves. According to this theory the people cannot lay aside its incommunicable right to legislate, even if it would. It hands over the executive power only, and this in such a way that "the depositaries of the executive power are not the masters of the people but rather its officials". The words quoted are from Rousseau's Contrat Social (bk. ii, ch. vii; bk. iii, ch. xviii), but the theory under discussion represents no more than one aspect of his political philosophy. (2) The theory of divine right, or designation: man chooses a subject and God confers authority exclusively and directly. This is the way in which the Church chooses the Pope. According to James I of England and Bossuet in France (with the intention of justifying Louis XIV's absolutism) this is also the way in which the people chooses the subject of the royal power. (3) The theory of transmission, which is that of St. Thomas, Cajetan, St. Robert Bellarmine and Suarez and holds good for all political government, whether it be democratic or no.


We have studied the jurisdictional power at length; in fact the greater part of this book has been given up to it. The part it plays in the Church is indispensable and essential. She could not possibly exist without it. Yet it is not the more important of the two powers which give her existence and sustain her through the centuries. Its influence is not the more intimate. It acts on men in an objective way, by proposing the truth from without. Its end is to orientate, direct and canalize the spiritual energies whose presence in the faithful it presupposes; energies produced in their hearts by more immediate and more hidden activities of God. When He seeks out men to propose the revealed truth and the way of salvation in His name, God entrusts them with a task which, under one aspect, is not disproportionate to their powers, and in which they themselves can play a large and active part. It is in fact connatural to man to set before his fellows what he holds to be true and good; to teach, persuade, command and convince. In the fulfilment of this task, therefore, men can act not simply as instruments (as with the sacramental power) but as real second causes endowed with an initiative which the divine assistance does not suppress: for it is not its end to replace human activity, but to guide, sustain, and stimulate it. That is why the jurisdictional activities are so complex, and why their exploration is so long and delicate a matter.

In the part left to human liberty in the exercise of the jurisdictional power, we meet with a mystery in the Kingdom of God which we may find elsewhere on the temporal plane. God does not construct the sequence of historical events by His own sole activity: He constructs it with the concurrence of human liberty, to which He leaves innumerable initiatives. In the case of evil He even leaves it the first initiative,[1021] reserving however the second, which by ways often impenetrable reduces this evil to some higher good.[1022] Thus He remains finally the master of the lines of force which direct the advance of history, and of the road that it opens through time.[1023] Yet many histories were possible for the world, just as many histories were, and still are, possible for the Church founded by Christ; and only one of these histories emerges from the possible order to the real, to write itself, with all its vicissitudes, in the flesh of the Church, to fashion her being, to make her at last what she is to be when Christ comes to unite her immediately to Himself that she may live eternally in His glory.

The more important therefore of the two powers which cause and maintain the Church in existence is not the jurisdictional. It is the sacramental power, the power through which Christ acts on His members by way not of exterior government (exterior gubernatio) but of a hidden influx (interior influxus). The minister of a sacrament, his intelligence, his will, the movements he goes through, the words he pronounces—there is nothing in all this of the character of a second cause, possessing a certain freedom of specification and able to produce this or that effect at will; all is but a purely instrumental cause, possessing no more than a freedom of exercise, a freedom to act or not to act, in view of an effect that wholly transcends all human powers and has been determined in advance by the divine good pleasure alone.

We have given less space to the sacerdotal power, simpler, humbler, more hidden than the jurisdictional. Summarizing what was said of it: Any man can, at need, assume it in the administration of the first of the sacraments, namely Baptism. Even in Baptism it is fitting, in all the other sacraments it is absolutely necessary, that the minister should be equipped, spiritualized, by the possession of a mysterious supernatural quality which may be called the sacramental power, consecration, character. Thus the baptismal character is needed by a man and a woman before they can enter into a Christian marriage; and one must be priest or bishop validly to administer the other five sacraments. But if the sacramental power can be described in outline more briefly than the jurisdictional, its effects enter into the very substance of the Church, so that it is a longer task to take account of all the hidden riches that they bring her. The created soul of the Church, in its integrity, results from the junction of the effects of these two powers. It comprises not only the sacramental characters and the sacramental graces but also the right orientation of the energies of the Church—proposed from without no doubt by the jurisdictional power, but interiorized in the faithful themselves by faith and obedience. It is to be seen as an emanation, an outpouring, of the spiritual riches of Christ, in whom priesthood and grace and truth all take their rise. This soul it is whose function is to assemble, organize, and vivify from within the whole great body of the universal Church.



There are two essentially distinct hierarchical powers: that of order conferred by consecration and consequently not able to be lost, and that of jurisdiction, conferred by designation and so capable of being lost. But these two powers do not make two hierarchies. It is merely by inadvertence that we speak sometimes of a "hierarchy of order" and a "hierarchy of jurisdiction". The power of order and the power of jurisdiction are interdependent. They are the two halves of a single hierarchy. "In virtue of the divine institution," says the Code of Canon Law, "the sacred hierarchy comprises in the line of order [ratione ordinis], bishops, priests, ministers; and in the line of jurisdiction [ratione jurisdictionis], a supreme pontificate and a subordinate episcopate. But, by institution of the Church, other degrees have been distinguished."[1024] Let us examine this mutual dependence of the hierarchical powers.[1025]

1. The Power Of Order Dependent On The Power Of Jurisdiction

1. We may recognize a triple dependence of the power of order on the power of jurisdiction.

a. The primary mission of the Apostles and their successors is to teach the nations. And it is only to those who have begun to believe—under the influence of extra-sacramental grace sent down to them by Christ, as from a distance—that the sacraments can be afterwards administered. The case of infants is an exception only in appearance, since here they constitute but a single moral person with their parents, or those whose faith carries them to the baptismal font.[1026] Thus the power of order cannot proceed to the administration of the sacraments unless the exercise of the power of jurisdiction has preceded it.

b. To this profound and universal dependence, in relation to the subjects on which the power of order is to be exercised, we must add another, in relation to its cause, the sacrament that confers it. Theologians who recognize the conciliar and doctrinal character of the decree Pro Armenis—and it would seem impossible to say that they are wrong [1027]—are led to declare that certain sacramental signs such as those of order, were determined by Christ only in a general way, in genere, leaving it to the permanent jurisdiction of the Church to determine them later on in a more concrete way, in specie.[1028] Thus, the imposition of hands, the original matter of the sacrament of order, was replaced in the West by what is called the tradition of the instruments.[1029] That is not to say that the jurisdictional power is, in such cases, superior, absolutely speaking, to the sacramental. It means simply that the jurisdictional power has the right to determine precisely the conditions required in order that the sacramental sign, recognized as valid, may become thereby the vehicle of grace, a grace coming from Christ and in no wise from the jurisdictional power.[1030]

c. Lastly, the power of order is ruled, as far as its immediate and legitimate exercise is concerned, by the prescriptions of the canonical power, which orders all the proceedings of the faithful, clergy or laity, in view of the spiritual good of the universal Church.

2. Besides these forms of dependence on the power of jurisdiction which are special to the power of order, we must mention a more general and deeper dependence, by which the doctrine on the nature of the power of order and the mystery of its efficacy, like the whole of the doctrine of faith, is placed under the protection of an infallible jurisdictional authority. It is owing to this divinely assisted authority that the revealed teachings concerning the power of order, the sacraments it dispenses, the redemptive sacrifice it perpetuates in the Mass, can be proclaimed always and everywhere unaltered. They melt like snow in the sun as soon as they are removed from the field on which the influence of this magisterial authority can make itself felt, whether directly or indirectly. One of the missions of the jurisdictional power is thus to conserve in the world a power of order that is more precious than itself.

2. The Power Of Jurisdiction Dependent In Its Turn On The Power Of Order

There is a double dependence of the jurisdictional power; one in relation to the subjects in which it resides, the other in relation to the energies it rules.

1. The power of jurisdiction can be found in a regular and connatural way only in subjects made apt for it, prepared and consecrated for it, by the power of order.

In a particular subject, of course, these two powers can be disjoined. Bishops who go into schism or heresy, or who are consecrated in schism or heresy, are thereby deprived of jurisdiction. On the other hand, according to the discipline actually in force, jurisdictional investiture is often conferred on bishops before their consecration. And that is why it is said that if jurisdiction presupposes order, it is that it may exist in a regular and connatural manner.[1031] But, if we consider not particular individuals but the whole Church, the power of jurisdiction requires the presence of the power of order necessarily and absolutely. Where there is no power of order at all there never has been, and there never could be, any jurisdiction. Scripture and tradition witness to this.

This is because the power of jurisdiction is transmitted by simple designation, and is by nature intentional, dependent on the continuing will of the authority which designates. Therefore it needs in a way to be sustained and strengthened by a power, such as that of order, which is transmitted by consecration (thus not only in a more visible way but as an objective fact), and which is by nature ontological (and thus more stable because it confers a character upon the recipient). That a Church has maintained an uninterrupted succession of the power of order does not prove that it has kept the jurisdictional succession and an integral apostolicity. But, where it has not maintained such an uninterrupted succession, there is no hope of finding the apostolic jurisdiction.

There is another reason. The character of order confers, especially when received in its plenitude, a virtue which spiritualizes the subject, enables him to act spiritually (on the ontological plane of the cultus) for the social good of the whole Mystical Body. Therefore of itself it is apt to prepare those who possess it to receive the power of jurisdiction, which brings with it the duty of acting spiritually (but now on the juridical and intentional plane) for the social good of the whole Mystical Body.

2. There is a further dependence. It is the power of order that calls into the world the highest sources of the energies which it is for the power of jurisdiction to canalize. So that if, by impossibility, the power of order should disappear the power of jurisdiction would thereby lose, not indeed all its significance but certainly the greater part of it.

The preaching of the Gospel by the jurisdictional power normally precedes all exercise of the power of order. This preaching encounters first in the heart (and its first mission is to orientate and direct it) the first faint stirring of faith that comes from the Spirit that breathes where He will; but these initial and general graces, given as from afar to sheep who are not yet of the sheepfold, are not the highest graces. These latter are born of the sacramental contact; they are riches reserved to the Church. It is therefore only after the exercise of the power of order, by which sacramental graces are dispensed, that the power of jurisdiction can attain its fullest and highest exercise. If this power has the great privilege of opening from without the door of the fold for the entrance of the sheep, it has a privilege still more glorious when it canalizes the sacramental graces—when for example it directs by infallible teaching and a wise prudence the mystical ascensions of a St. John of the Cross towards the summit of Carmel.

For this mutual interdependence, which inextricably knits up the powers of order and of jurisdiction to make of them one hierarchy, we have to seek a still higher reason.

3. The Unicity Of The Hierarchy: One God, One Christ, One Hierarchy

If the hierarchy is one, it is because it is unique. Its unity results from its unicity. There is but one sole hierarchy, as there is but one sole Christ and one sole God. The Church is brought under a single hierarchy and a single Mediator—who, alone being God and Man, can alone be the bridge between heaven and earth, pontifex—to her end, the one sole God. "There is one God and Father of all, who is above all and through all, and in us all" says St. Paul; "there is one Lord"; and one sole hierarchy which dispenses through its two conjoint powers "one faith, one baptism"; so that the Church has but "one body", apt to be the vessel of one sole spirit, namely her created soul, and of "one Spirit", her uncreated Soul (Eph. iv. 4-6).

Just as a man, writes Karl Barth, "has only one father, can look only one man in the eyes at a time, listen only to one man at a time, just as he is born once and can die but once, so he can believe in only one Revelation, recognize one alone.... Whoever speaks of revelation, speaks of the revelation of God, that is to say the act of God by which He makes Himself known[1032].... therefore the one sole Revelation made once and for all, irrevocable, not to be repeated—for the Cross of Calvary is not to be repeated".[1033] For, properly speaking, neither the revelation nor the cross of Calvary is ever repeated; it is the generations of men, with the successive waves of their needs, of their miseries, of their sins, that are repeated beneath the cross and the revelation which abide. It is enough that they entered once into time. They entered it, never to leave it. They are not closed on the side of their efficacy, not finite, but open and infinite. They do not repeat themselves; they continue. They are not simply memories; they are real presences. And we enter into contact with them precisely under the borrowed and visible appearances of a hierarchy that is one as they are one and as Christ is one.

In Him, the Head of the Church, the power to institute the new cultus through His cross and His sacraments and the power to proclaim the supreme revelation—the sacerdotal power par excellence and the royal power par excellence—are indissolubly united. If, ascended into heavenly glory, He wishes to continue to make contact with us by His sacerdotal virtue and His royal virtue, He must leave a visible hierarchy among us with a twofold ministerial role, at once sacerdotal and royal. To be authentic, to be Christian, the hierarchy must indissolubly unite the two powers, of order and of jurisdiction. They can be accidentally separated in this or that particular subject. But neither one nor the other, taken separately, can constitute the hierarchy, the hierarchy instituted by Christ in the Apostles, the apostolic hierarchy. Neither of them alone can confer on the Church the unchallengeable mark of foundation by Christ, the mark of apostolicity.

4. The Indivisibility Of The Hierarchy: Devotion To The Hierarchy

This visible hierarchy, one and indissoluble, unique and apostolic, penetrated by a spiritual virtue coming from Christ and flowing from the innermost life of God, fashions in the world the visible Church, one and indissoluble, unique, and apostolic. It is clear that schism and heresy can never succeed without first dividing and mutilating her. And when the authors of schism and heresy have disappeared, it is not she, the one Church, who will be found in the dissident Churches. Whatever their good faith they are merely fragments of her. You might indeed say that the hierarchy is divided, but only as you might say that Christ is divided.[1034] It is divided by the passions of men. In itself it is indivisible.

Thus our love for the hierarchy is our very love for Christ. When one thing is loved for the sake of another alone—though we must purify our hearts to keep it so—there is only one love. "He that receiveth you, receiveth me, and he that receiveth me receiveth him that sent me" (Matt. x. 40; cf. Luke x. 16). "He that receiveth you...." The Apostles and their successors bring with them the power of order. And with it the power of jurisdiction too, comprising a declaratory power assisted absolutely; and a canonical power, arising from the foregoing like leafage from its stalk, assisted only relatively, especially in merely particular matters or in those that concern the empirical existence of the Church. But the measures of the canonical power may on occasion be found to be less than perfect—particular measures, we have seen, can be accidentally erroneous, even immoral, and in this case do not count since they are disavowed in advance by the general teachings of the jurisdictional power. When this is the case, or when they are hard and vexatious (which will usually be for our good); when we have to suffer either from the carelessness or the incomprehension or the chicanery of those who wield the canonical power, or simply from their divergent ways of judging certain events that are at once religious and political or cultural—the sufferings involved can cause anguish but can never dim the outlook of a soul that wishes to remain great. For the thing which makes the soul great before God is the depth of her faith and the reality of her love for the cross. And sufferings of this nature need never conceal from us the divine magnificence of the good things that are indissolubly united under the name of hierarchy.

5. The Three Characters Of The Hierarchy: Continuity, Instrumentality, Connaturality

1. Founded by Christ, the hierarchy was quickened by the Spirit who, on the day of Pentecost, brought it the first autonomous pulses of its life, the repercussions of which will live on, transmitted from age to age, to the end of history. It is an organic institution, an articulated and differentiated body, from which individual members are ceaselessly removed by death. But through an uninterrupted transmission, it endures from generation to generation as a single living thing, always identical with itself, endowed with divinely enlightened wisdom and memory and prudence.

If the Spirit descended on the Apostles and disciples at the moment when they were all together in one place, with one heart, that, as Moehler remarks, was to signify that the hierarchy, and indeed also the whole Church,[1035] was to have the character of a social body. By reason of the organic character essential to the hierarchy, the Apostles themselves, in spite of the exceptional gifts they had received, were careful to keep in touch with each other, and insisted on their mutual agreement as a mark of the authenticity of their mission. The doubts that arose among the first Christians, says Moehler, "were placed before the Apostles, each one of whom was individually capable of solving them, in virtue of their having lived in close intimacy with the Master, a thing equivalent to many special gifts. But it must not therefore be inferred that each Apostle considered himself as an independent centre of life; on the contrary, the solution itself was submitted, wherever possible, to the Apostolic College, as its first meeting at Jerusalem witnesses (Acts. xv). We have, moreover, many indications of the need felt by this or that Apostle to seek confirmation of his gospel, either from another or from the entire College. Often, too, confirmation or rectification was offered without having been specially sought. Their spirit prompted them to many ways of comparing their own individual point of view with that of the others, for they could not rest save in the assurance that they were in harmony with this whole whose interpreters they were. We have an example of this need for unity in the behaviour of St. Paul. He could boast of having received the divine revelation directly from on high (Gal. i. 16-17), yet in all humility he lays his gospel before the Apostles (Gal. ii. 2) so as to be sure that he has not run and will not run in vain."[1036] Thus closely bound together, the apostolic body could continue organically down the ages. "From His many disciples" says Moehler, "Christ had chosen the Twelve, a choice that signified the special commission to preach the Gospel to all the world and to take charge of the whole assembly of the faithful. The Apostles in their turn appointed certain remarkable men to take their places in the communities they founded, so that the apostolic mission with its prerogatives should not come to an end with them. Christ had not left it to chance to determine how the Gospel should be preached, nor did the Apostles so leave it. Even without this regular organization some of them undoubtedly would have been capable of understanding many things in Christian doctrine and of handing them on to others; but such teaching would always have remained doubtful, lacking in precision and power. Such mere echoes of the Gospel would soon have gone astray in the world and been lost. On the contrary, the word of God, ordered organically as we have said, had a perfect consistency, an assured power, and unique precision. A people with one mind and one heart grouped themselves round an identical centre. They formed a mass, a powerful bloc, opposing all that was not Christian with concentrated energy, fighting paganism while listening all the time to the word of God teaching them to live in love."[1037] Thus Christ grouped the Apostles in a body, and these in their turn prepared successors for themselves so that the hierarchy should go on without interruption. Moehler strongly emphasized these truths, and rightly. The continuity of the hierarchy founded by Christ and designed to pass down through the centuries was the constant preoccupation of St. Paul. It inspired his anxious recommendations to Timothy and Titus, and occupied the whole soul of the Apostle as he lay in sight of death.[1038]

2. But the powers thus transmitted from generation to generation are not to be considered as sufficing to themselves. Compared with the virtue of Christ who ever rules His Church from heaven, and with the infinite virtue of the Divinity, they are subordinate powers, means. Thus beside their horizontal transmission in time we must consider their continuing dependence on the supra-temporal causes ceaselessly maintaining them in being. So it is with the power of order, which is strictly instrumental. So it is also with the power of jurisdiction—for though it functions as a second cause, yet beside the dependence in which all second causes stand with respect to the First Cause, it needs for its existence to be unceasingly superelevated and directed by divine motions of a new order. This actual present dependence of the hierarchy, or of the temporary charisms, on the humanity and the divinity of Christ is expressed in the great text of St. Paul to the Ephesians: "Some he has appointed to be apostles, others to be prophets, others to be evangelists, or pastors, or teachers. They are to order the lives of the faithful, minister to their needs, build up the frame of Christ's body, until we all realize our common unity through faith in the Son of God, and fuller knowledge of him. So we shall reach perfect manhood, that maturity which is proportioned to the completed growth of Christ.... On him all the body depends; it is organized and unified by each contact with the source which supplies it; and thus, each limb receiving the active power it needs, it achieves its natural growth, building itself up through charity" (Ephes. iv. 11-16).[1039]

3. Towards the end of this text the depositaries of the hierarchical and charismatic gifts are regarded as members who have to act in the body in the measure of the activity granted to each. In fact, inasmuch as they reside in faithful souls who are united to all the rest by faith and charity, and who are members with them of the Church believing and loving, the hierarchic and charismatic gifts may appear as a spontaneous outflow from the Church, a foreseen and expected manifestation of her vital superabundance, a function of her organic activity. Moehler strongly presses this view. It pervades, amongst others, his book on the Unity of the Church. His words on St. Athanasius are well known: "He had taken deep roots in the Church; he regarded himself as simply a member of the community of the Church." That too is true. St. Paul himself, in the First Epistle to the Corinthians, compares the charismatic gifts, whether of the hierarchic order or simply miraculous, to the organs of a human body: "For a man's body is all one though it has a number of different organs; and all this multitude of organs goes to make up one body; so it is with Christ.... The body, after all, consists not of one organ but of many.... And you are Christ's body, organs of it depending on each other. God has given us different positions in the Church; apostles first, then prophets; and thirdly teachers; then come miraculous powers, then gifts of healing, works of mercy, the management of affairs, speaking with different tongues and interpreting prophecy" (xii. 12, 14, 27). But that is only a comparison. It would be a mistake, as Moehler well knew, to liken the hierarchic gifts, regularly transmitted by consecration. and designation, to pure charisms which arise gratuitously and unexpectedly, solely according to the good pleasure of God. It would be a mistake of another kind—and here Moehler is not always blameless, having failed even in his Symbolik to give sufficiently exact expression to the profound insight that possessed him from the days when he wrote Die Einheit in der Kirche—to press this comparison too far, and to represent the hierarchy, since it is a function, an organ, of the body of the Church, as being simply the expression, the exteriorization, the overflow of the life of charity,[1040] conceived as producing it as the organ of sight, for example, is produced by the normal development of the embryo. For the hierarchy is not primarily the effect of the interior life of the Church; it is primarily a ministerial cause of that life. It expresses, exteriorizes and represents this life, no doubt; but only in the sense that orientated sacramental charity (which constitutes, as I have said, the created soul of the Church, and lives in the hearts of the faithful), being a direct issue of the hierarchy, readily seizes its own likeness to the hierarchy, and looks on the latter, in return, as one of its own manifestations and exteriorizations.

Thus the hierarchical powers can be looked at in three ways. First, "horizontally", as transmitted in time through an uninterrupted, organic, univocal succession, linking them up with the Apostles and with Christ. Next, "vertically", as related to eternity, inasmuch as they are in always actual present dependence on the humanity of the Saviour and the divine omnipotence, whose instruments and ministerial agents they are, and whose purest and richest motions they communicate to our souls.[1041] Lastly, from the standpoint of their roots—that is to say of the subjects in which they reside, who are normally members of the Church believing and loving, so that, although they are the ministerial causes of the Church, these same powers appear to be rooted in her, and seem in a way to arise out of her own being.

6. A General Definition Of The Hierarchy

The theologians alone can give the word "hierarchy" its highest meaning. They do not use it indiscriminately for any subordination of powers whatever. The hierarchy, in its most general sense, is in their eyes, a sacred principate (sacer principatus), comprising several co-ordinated degrees (gradus et ordo), and endowed with power and knowledge (potestas et scientia) to lead a multitude (actio inducens ad finem) to union with and likeness to God (finis intentus).[1042] The hierarchy is thus defined by its essential principles (ordo, scientia, actio) and by its end (ad Deum unitas et similitudo). But—as St. Thomas notes—its most formal definition is that taken from the end: union and conformity with God.

That is why there is no hierarchy among the devils. Undoubtedly, being pure spirits, they are specifically distinct from each other and are ranked one above another according to the degree of elevation of their nature. There exists therefore among them an order of natures. And since activity issues from a nature, there also exists among them an order of activities, those of the lower natures ranking beneath those of the higher. Among the devils therefore we shall find superiority and inferiority, command and subordination, in a word an order, a praelatio, and St. Thomas writes that "This agrees too with divine wisdom, which leaves nothing inordinate, which reaches from end to end mightily, and ordereth all things sweetly".[1043] But this natural order is constantly being overturned by the incorrigible malice of the devils. "Their perversity is such" writes St. Thomas, "that they make no attempt to orientate each other towards God, but rather to turn each other away from the divine order."[1044] There cannot therefore be a hierarchy among the devils. But there is a hierarchy among the angels of God.

7. The Hierarchy Of Exile And Hierarchy Of The Patria

When, in the first chapter, we sought the basic reason for the Christian hierarchy, we saw it as the effect of a general law—another and altogether greater effect being the Incarnation—according to which God willed to have sensible contact with men immersed in sin, in order to heal their wounds and awake them to the highest form of the life of grace. For the divine action, when exercised through contact, penetrates the heart with incomparably greater abundance, power and depth than when exercised from afar.

If, from the very first moment of the Incarnation, Christ was already the Saviour of all men by the graces that came from His heart to enlighten and enkindle from afar, yet it was to those whom He touched sensibly by a look, a word or a gesture, that He dispensed the most marvellous of His graces; and it was by drawing them towards Him and gathering them close around Him that He began to form His Church in the world. The question arises: was this capital distinction between graces bestowed from a distance and graces communicated by contact to disappear afterwards? When the glorified Christ left us on the day of the Ascension to go to heaven would the graces given thence be from then onwards the only ones to reach us, and the privileged graces of contact be lost for ever? Would Christ cease to visit mankind as mercifully, concretely, and intimately as He had done during the years of His mortal life; would He cease to touch men sensibly to maintain His Church in their midst? That is not what the Gospel teaches, as we have seen. But by means of what mystery could Christ, in the glory of heaven, continue still to keep contact with us in sensible fashion? Precisely under the appearances of the hierarchy. He left in our midst a visible hierarchy directed by Him from heaven, and serving Him as an instrument for entering into sensible contact with us.

We see then that the role of the hierarchy is purely ministerial. The Christian hierarchy is not there for its own sake, but for the Church. Its whole function is to pass down from Christ, who is in heaven, to men, hidden in the mists of time, that action by contact, those mysterious spiritual riches, which are capable of forming the created soul of the Church, the immanent organizing principle of her visible body. As the beauty of a pictured face has a merely transitive and imperfect being in the artist's pencil and is not discernible save on the page on which it is projected, so the full beauty of Christ, that of grace in act and truth lived, has merely transitive and imperfect being in the hierarchy; and it is in the Church born of the hierarchy, in the hearts of Christians who believe, love, suffer and hope, that it will be found fully disclosed. That is why the grandeurs of the hierarchy and the grandeurs of sanctity are distinguishable in this world. They do not always coincide. Indeed, they are often separated: of necessity to start with, since all the faithful cannot be in the hierarchy; and accidentally also, since charity can be lacking in those who are of the hierarchy. But the greatnesses of charity and the achieved likeness to Christ that they bring with them will never be lacking in the Church that issues from the hierarchy.

However, the Church that the hierarchy thus ministerially sustains is a Church not yet possessed of her definitive condition, not yet in her homeland. By definition she is a Church still on the move through the shadows of time; an exiled Church. The hierarchy from which she is suspended is a hierarchy of time, of exile. It will disappear—as I have said, it does not exist for its own sake—when the Church, which does exist for herself, passes from an earthly to a heavenly condition, and from time to eternity.

Then a new hierarchy, preformed already, will arise from the very heart of the Church to illumine her wholly, along with her angels and her elect. It will be no hierarchy of signs and symbols, no hierarchy of exile, such as that of the powers of order and jurisdiction. For between Christ and the blessed there will no longer be this veil of weakness and sin that makes action by contact, and therefore the hierarchy of exile, needful in this world to effect a perfect assimilation, communication, and conformity. This will be the pure hierarchy of interior sanctity expressing itself outwardly, the hierarchy of beatific vision and love, the hierarchy of our spiritual homeland.[1045]

8. Our Lady And The Hierarchy

In the hierarchy of the fatherland Our Lady, whom the Church salutes as Queen of Angels, Patriarchs, Apostles, Martyrs and all the Saints, will have, under Christ, the supreme role as indeed she has now. But in the hierarchy of exile she has no visible part to play. "Although the Blessed Virgin Mary was more worthy, higher, than all the Apostles, it was yet not to her but to them that the Lord gave the keys of the Kingdom of Heaven."[1046] She sustained the newborn Church by the power of her contemplation and of her love. She was of even more use to the Church than were the Apostles who acted outwardly. She was the hidden root in which was secreted the sap that was to burst into flower and fruit. She did not bear the keys of the Kingdom, but by her prayer she guided and sustained those who bore them, and those also who came and knocked at their door. This role she still fulfils today.[1047]



The field of Christ's action from a distance is universal. It reaches all men without exception as soon as they come to the age of reason. Even if they are not yet in the fold of the Church it presides in secret over the awakening of their moral life, and knocks at the door of their hearts. It enters as soon as they try to open to it; it makes of them those unfolded sheep who represent the Church foreshadowed, the Church in becoming, the Church in virtual act. And if they are in the sheepfold, then by an uninterrupted influx it preserves in their souls the sacramental graces deposited there by the momentary influx from the sacraments. Its illuminations and inspirations ceaselessly stir them, and indeed where five of the sacraments are concerned it will even revive their effects when they are lost.

Within this universal field Christ's action by contact, passing through the hierarchy, creates, at Christ's feet and all around Him, the more restricted field of the sheepfold, of the Church fully formed, the Church complete, in achieved act.

Thus this action by contact through the hierarchy takes effect first of all and immediately on the Church and gives her visible shape. I shall shortly discuss this direct action of the hierarchy, but we must deal first with a derivative form of its influence. We might say that certain rays of the action by contact are refracted by passing through the hierarchy, and are dispersed, far beyond the visible limits of the Church into the immense field of action at a distance, so as to aid this latter, effectively and perceptibly, to prepare and foreshadow the Church. This refraction and projection of the action by contact beyond the Church's visible limits I shall call the indirect action of the hierarchy. Let us examine its two manifestations, the one deriving from the power of order, the other from the power of jurisdiction.

1. Survivals From The Power Of Order

The hierarchy is indivisible. But it can, in certain regions, be broken by force so that fragments of it subsist in a mutilated state beyond the field of the Church. Thus, in lands overrun by schism or by heresy we may find not only the sacramental powers deriving from Baptism and Confirmation, but the hierarchical power of order.

The violent disjunction of the power of order from the power of jurisdiction—which latter disappears of itself whenever there is a rupture with the Sovereign Pontiff—its persistence in the uprooted state to which it is then reduced, its transmission, valid but not licit, beyond its proper and natural sphere, is always the sign of a terrible spiritual catastrophe, a partial victory of the spirit of evil over the Church of Christ, which henceforth will move through history as though divided in herself, and become a scandal to the Gentiles.

However, the Church is not in reality divided. She is indivisible like the hierarchy from which she is suspended. Peoples who have received her and belonged to her can fall away from her in consequence of schism and heresy; yet, despite failing her in this way, they can still carry away with them some of her treasures and certain relics of her royalty. What then remains of her among them may, at first glance, suggest a division; but to a wider knowledge and a deeper perception these scattered riches will themselves witness to her unicity. They are rays from one same original centre of life and activity.

Those who are responsible before God for a schism or a heresy may carry away with them the valid succession of the sacrament of Holy Order. They do so in the darkness of a personal sin by which they partially rend the Church; and insofar as their own hearts are closed to the good influence of the sacraments they are like sick men taking to others medicines which they do not know how to use for their own benefit. But their followers in later times, who inherit a patrimony of schism or heresy from their birth, are not culpable on that account. They can grow in spiritual stature by remaining in good faith. The sanctifying influence of the sacraments, no longer finding the same obstacles in the will, can result in graces of a high order.[1048] What they still lack in order to be fully and openly of the Church is the divinely assisted orientation of the jurisdictional power. But, from this standpoint, the uninterrupted transmission of the valid exercise of the power of order within the dissident Churches is a moving witness to the depth of the salvific will of God. By thus continuing to dispense the graces of contact by way of His sacrifice and His sacraments, and thereby closely conforming to Christ many whose spiritual situation is in itself very precarious, He reveals an astonishing design: that of beginning, in a way, to form the Church outside the Church, to collect His "other sheep" as in a flock, and to draw them to the one fold by a strangely powerful ontological desire, a "virtual act" not far removed from "act achieved".

2. Survivals From The Power Of Jurisdiction

If the power of order can subsist where the power of jurisdiction has disappeared, this last, more easily uprooted, is not to be found, in itself, in Churches that lack Orders. Its repercussions, however, as we shall see, can penetrate even there. But let us first consider under what diminished form it can still itself remain in those dissident Churches which have kept the power of order.

A. The Presence Of A Partial And Borrowed Jurisdiction

1. Having cited a passage from St. Leo the Great on the eminent dignity of St. Peter, in dependence on whom the other Apostles received their privileges, Leo XIII, in the Encyclical Satis Cognitum, declares that "the bishops would lose their right and power to govern if they willfully separated themselves from Peter and his successors; since this separation removes them from the foundation on which the whole edifice should rest, it puts them out of the edifice itself, excludes them from the fold governed by the supreme pastor and banishes them from the Kingdom the keys of which God gave to Peter alone.... None can have part in the authority unless united to Peter, for it would be absurd to pretend that a man excluded from the Church could have authority in the Church.... Now the order of bishops cannot be regarded as truly united to Peter as Christ willed that it should be, save by submission and obedience to Peter. Without that it becomes a mere confused and tumultuous multitude."

Thus, then, the current of episcopal jurisdiction is interrupted in those Churches that have knowingly broken away from the Sovereign Pontiff by schism and heresy.

It follows first of all that they are no longer protected either by the absolute assistance given to the declaratory power or by the prudential assistance given to the canonical power.

In respect of the exercise of the power of order two kinds of consequence follow. The first concerns the celebration of the Sacrifice of the Mass, and the administration of three of the sacraments: Baptism, the Eucharist, Order. While still remaining valid,[1049] they become in themselves and in principle, illicit, illegitimate, and so the Church as a general rule forbids the faithful to receive the sacraments from non-Catholic ministers, and to take part in non-Catholic worship. The second concerns those sacraments which, to be validly conferred, require a minister approved by the jurisdictional power. Such are Confirmation given by a simple priest, Extreme Unction given with oil blessed by a simple priest, and Penance. Their administration in schism and heresy becomes therefore, in principle, not merely illicit but invalid.

2. These two kinds of consequences flow, in themselves, and in principle, from schism and heresy. Nevertheless, in fact and in virtue of a borrowed title, the dissident Churches which retain the power of order (the dissident Oriental Churches for instance), may retain, by a concession of the Sovereign Pontiff, either express or tacit, a partial but genuine jurisdiction which enables them validly to administer to their subjects even those sacraments which require a jurisdictional power in the minister; such as Confirmation and Penance.

In the case of Confirmation, it is clear that the bishops, even when schismatic or heretic, keep the power to confer it validly. But a problem arises as to that Confirmation which, in the East, simple priests themselves give to small children immediately after Baptism. A simple priest undoubtedly possesses, as John of St. Thomas explains,[1050] the physical power to confer Minor Orders and Confirmation. But this power is inhibited. It cannot be validly exercised without the authorization of the Sovereign Pontiff. This authorization, which is granted only exceptionally in the West,[1051] is possessed by the Oriental Catholic priests; but do dissident Oriental priests effectively possess it? Theologians think so. "A long time before the Byzantine schism." writes Pere Jugie, "priests of the Oriental Churches, with the knowledge of and without the least protest from the Western and Roman Church, were accustomed, not in virtue of an ordinary power, but of a current usage, and with the authorization of their own bishops, to give Confirmation to neophytes immediately after Baptism. This practice, which continued after the schism, is still in force today. After the schism nevertheless, whenever the renewal of communion between Greeks and Latins was considered, at the second Council of Lyons, as at the Council of Florence, the validity of the Confirmation given by the Oriental priests was never questioned. Undoubtedly, in the Profession of Faith proposed to Michael Paleologus by the Sovereign Pontiff, it was simply declared that the sacrament of Confirmation is conferred by the imposition of the hands of the bishop who anoints the baptized. But, on the other hand, we know that the Byzantines who came into the union were not obliged to give up their custom."[1052] For the rest, the validity of the Confirmation given by the dissident priests, a validity that could only result from a concession of the Sovereign Pontiff, was explicitly recognized by the Holy Office (3rd July 1859) for all the Oriental Churches, save those of Bulgaria, Cyprus, South Italy and the islands adjacent from whom this concession had been earlier withdrawn.[1053]

Extreme Unction raises a kindred problem. To be valid it should be conferred with the oil blessed by the bishop. To contest this would, in the judgment of the Holy Office (13th January 1611), be "rash" and "bordering on error".[1054] Even in case of necessity the blessing of a simple priest would be insufficient.[1055] Nevertheless, on the 30th August 1595, Clement VIII had tolerated the practice of simple Greek priests in union with Rome, who, with their bishops' authority, themselves blessed the oils needed for the sacraments, with the exception however of the sacred chrism.[1056] (We may see here why Billuart writes that it is an immediate, or at least mediate, episcopal blessing that is required for Extreme Unction.)[1057] It may therefore be thought that the Sovereign Pontiff implicitly authorizes the practice of simple Greek dissident priests themselves to bless, with the permission of their bishops, the oil of Extreme Unction and of Confirmation, and thus to recognize the validity of the preparation and administration of these two sacraments by simple priests in the dissident Greek Church.

As to the sacrament of Penance, we know that "in peril of death all priests, even those not approved for hearing confessions, can validly and licitly absolve any penitents from all sins and censures."[1058] There then is a definite case in which the dissident Oriental priests certainly receive from the Sovereign Pontiff every authorization to dispense the sacrament of Penance. But apart from peril of death can these Oriental priests separated from the Church give absolution validly? The Ami du clerge, which has dealt with the question more than once, holds that they can. There are indeed, it says, no express documents of the Holy See to support the thesis, and the few theologians who have looked into the matter have expressed themselves against it. However, we can bring forward two points in its favour: (1) The Church, which has not withdrawn from them the jurisdiction needed for Confirmation, will not deprive them of the still more useful jurisdiction to absolve their flock from their sins; (2) Rome has never required Eastern converts to make a general confession; and must thus regard confessions made in good faith to dissident priests as valid. If it is asked through what channel such jurisdiction comes to the priests of a dissident Church we must answer that it is transmitted to them "by the bishops and patriarchs who rule their Church today as formerly, themselves retaining their jurisdiction because the Roman Church, for the good of so many souls living in good faith in schism, has not wished to deprive them of it, has in fact done nothing to indicate an intention to do so, and much, on the contrary, to suggest her will for its preservation".[1059]

3. We come now to a delicate question. If Rome continues to grant to dissident Oriental priests the power of conferring the sacraments of Confirmation and Penance, that shows that the use of this power is not only valid but licit.—These priests have a duty of charity to use it, since, according to the Code of Canon Law, a duty of charity lies on all priests to hear the confessions of the faithful in peril of death;[1060] and the Code lays down precisely that every priest then acts not only validly but even licitly.[1061] Would it not equally be a duty of charity for dissident bishops to confer the power of order, and to multiply priests to whom the Roman Church herself will grant the power of confirming and absolving? In other words, must we say that in the dissident Churches the transmission of the power of order should be considered as valid, certainly, but illicit, illegitimate? Or is it permissible to think, on the contrary, that the Roman Church, desiring it for the good of souls, regards it as licit and legitimate? To this I answer that in the eyes of the Roman Church the transmission of the power of order in the dissident Churches is licit conditionally, that is to say on the hypothesis of their good faith and invincible ignorance, an hypothesis which indeed is probable and generally admitted. But we add that this transmission remains illicit in itself and speaking absolutely, so that it would become, not of course invalid, but illegitimate, as soon as it ceased to be effected in good faith.

4. However this may be, the dissident Oriental Churches can possess the spiritual jurisdiction needed for the valid administration of Confirmation and Penance. We will not say that they can possess it illicitly or illegitimately since they have it by a free delegation from the Sovereign Pontiff and so licitly and legitimately; rather let us say preferably, in a partial, precarious, borrowed and accidental manner. And hence the seven forms of sacramental grace are to be found in these Churches, and this unites them in profound fellowship with the one true Church, the sole Bride of Christ. However, they lack that full and divinely assisted jurisdiction which puts the final seal on the unity of the Mystical Body.

B. The Indirect Effects Of The Jurisdictional Power

1. Let us first summarise the considerations of P. Billot on the way in which the infallible magisterium may enlighten those who live "outside" the Church,[1062] that is to say, outside the Church in achieved act.

Theological faith is more necessary still than the sacraments, since nothing can replace it, whereas those who possess it in charity already possess the sacraments as by desire, voto. If then the sacraments can in some sense be had "outside" the Church to bring salvation to those who receive them in uprightness of heart, it is still more necessary that a sufficient proposal of the faith should be made outside the Church, and that true believers in the true faith should be found even amongst those whose ecclesiastical rulers hold doctrines that are contrary to orthodoxy or erroneous.

The infallible magisterium of the Church is doubtless the normal means that God has provided for proposing the revelation in its integrity and without error. But it does not follow that the revelation proposed by other means, and even mingled with error, is always insufficient to give birth to a true theological faith. For the apparently simple act of the believer who holds to a message which he takes for divine, but which is in fact a tangled mixture of truth and error, falls apart under theological analysis into two quite distinct acts: an act of divine faith which God produces in him by His grace and whereby he adheres to the pure truth; and a merely human act of faith, of which he is himself the sole author, and by which he attaches himself to error. Thus the believer may err, but his faith itself, if it be theological faith in God, is always infallible.

It follows that the way of justification remains open, "outside" the Church, to men of goodwill, who are ready at heart to believe all that God has revealed. It can even be opened to them by the message proposed by schismatics and heretics, provided, of course, that this message still contains that minimum of truth without which no adult in any event can be saved—namely the supernatural mystery of the existence and providence of God. So that the sects separated from the legitimate Bride of Christ seem, in these circumstances, to become her servants to aid her to engender new children to grace, not solely by the ministration of the sacraments but also by proposing a doctrine, tainted with error though it be.

It can be said that this message proposed by dissident or possibly heretical ministers to faithful men of upright conscience, flows—in virtue of the element of divine revelation it contains—from the Chair of the Church, and that the infallible magisterium makes its good influence felt even so far afield. There are two reasons for this.

First, the basic Christian truths which the dissident confessions took with them when they broke away from unity, were received by them from the Church, who had kept them and explained them infallibly from the beginning and up to the moment of the rupture.[1063]

Second, the preaching of Catholic truth continues through the ages to have its repercussions throughout the world and to influence indirectly, but profoundly, the preaching of all the Churches that call themselves Christian. So that if the Church, which is the pillar and ground of the truth (1 Tim. iii. 15) should ever, by impossibility, be wiped out and her perpetual profession of faith be suddenly silenced, we should soon witness the disappearance of all that remains of divine truth in the separated Churches.

It would therefore be a serious error to restrict the influence of the magisterium to those it reaches directly. Its preaching is heard far beyond the limits of the Church. It carries a message to dissidents and to strangers, a message that helps to open for them the way to salvation. Thus, as it were, Catholic doctrine waters a garden, all around which lies an immense region to which this same water finds its way; but not unmixed.

2. In the pages I have just summed up Pere Billot has confined himself to the examination of one aspect only of the jurisdictional power: the infallible magisterium. One could speak in similar terms of the prudential magisterium of the Church. In the Encyclical Quadragesimo Anno, Pope Pius XI more than once notes that the teachings of Leo XIII on the social question were received "with admiration and gratitude, not only by loyal children of the Church but by many also who were wandering far from the truth or from the unity of faith; nay more, by well nigh everyone who, either as private student or as legislator, was thereafter interested in social and economic questions.... Thus Catholic principles of sociology gradually became part of the intellectual heritage of the whole human race. Thus we rejoice that the eternal truths proclaimed so vigorously by Our illustrious Predecessor, are advanced and advocated, not merely in non-Catholic books and journals, but frequently also in legislative assemblies and in courts of justice. "We could say as much of the teachings of Pius XI on Communism and Racism, and, in general, of all the great documents by which the Papacy guides the march of Christianity through history.

3. Lastly it must be added that the disciplinary, as well as the magisterial, power has its influence outside the Church. The practical prescriptions on the moral life and mutual relations of Christians, the celebration of divine worship, the organization of the clergy, of religious and laity, avail no doubt directly for the Church. They cannot be without influence on the rest of the world.

Thus, in the immense field of action from a distance, by which God prepares His Church, and which leaves no adult human being untouched, the indirect influences of the hierarchy bring a precious addition of grace and light; whether it be because the fragments of this divine hierarchy, broken by the negligence and the passions of Christians themselves, still cast a beneficent light about them like the shattered fragments of a star; or because the measures taken by the hierarchy, and, more generally, the effects of its direct action, are propagated like waves which tend to spread out over all the earth. Here, once more, we have two sets of men to consider: those who are to be saved by simply receiving the truth from Christ; and those who, closely united to the jurisdictional power, incorporated into Christ as Prophet and King, are called to be saviours with Him, by working for the diffusion of His message of truth.[1064]



All "action at a distance" and all "indirect action of the hierarchy", aims at conveying spiritual realities to men's hearts. Whether recognized or not, these realities will tend of themselves, of their own weight, to draw men to the one fold, where in this world they will find the natural resting place, the true centre of gravity of their souls. But it is only where the divine hierarchy—one, unique, indivisible—directly touches the earth that the Church appears in all her fullness—equally one, unique and indivisible. For she is the Betrothed of the Lamb. And she is the Body of Christ, the fulfilment and fullness of His being.

1. Conformity With Christ And The Created Soul Of The Church

Because Christ bears in Himself the sources of the priesthood, of grace, and of truth, He produces in the Church, by means of the hierarchy through which He acts, a threefold likeness to Himself as Priest, Giver of grace, and Teacher of truth. This constitutes her created soul, the immediate principle which acts to spiritualize her whole body from within, to organize and articulate it.[1065] From the sacramental power the Church receives the very principles of her activity, namely the sacramental characters and sacramental graces; from the jurisdictional power she receives the directives which, interiorized in her children by faith and obedience (according as they come respectively from the declaratory power or from the canonical power), become capable of orientating her activity ab intus and vitally, lex Dei ejus in corde ipsius.

These three elements of the created soul of the Church, these three aspects of her configuration to Christ—the sacramental characters, the sacramental graces, and the interiorized jurisdictional truths—are already closely united to each other from the mere fact that they result from a hierarchy, one and indivisible. But they are moreover intrinsically ordered to each other. The end of the sacramental power is to call down sacramental graces on the world; and the highest duty of the jurisdictional power is to direct their activity. Nothing could be more precious than these graces. In the subject in which they exist they presuppose the sacramental character, at least of Baptism; and they make the subject capable of an ever deeper interiorization of the jurisdictional directives by faith and obedience. Thus the three elements of the created soul of the Church are mutually interlinked. In Christ the names Priest, Saviour, and King signify formalities which are distinct but inseparable, which compenetrate and attract each other; so in the Church, which is an extravasation of His life, the sacramental power, sacramental charity and jurisdictional truth, although signifying distinct formalities, are mutually implicated and knitted up together to make an indivisible whole.

Orientated sacramental charity—that, precisely, is the created soul of the Church. Since it is sacramental, the charity presupposes the sacramental characters or powers. Since it is orientated it presupposes the jurisdictional power. We may here recall, transposing and applying it to the supernatural community of the Church, what John of St. Thomas says of the mutual interdependence of the "substantial form" and the "ultimate disposition" in substantial transformations: the ultimate disposition preparing the introduction of the new form in the order of material causality; and, on the other hand, resulting from the form in the order of formal causality as its property, its propria passio.[1066] If therefore we consider the Church, not in any particular individual, but as a collective and indivisible whole, we shall say similarly that charity will be her form—but charity in its full flowering, evangelical charity, that is to say sacramental and orientated charity. The sacramental characters and the interiorized jurisdictional orientation will be the properties, the "propriae passiones", which on the one hand, from the standpoint of formal causality, necessarily result from evangelical charity; but which on the other hand, from the standpoint of material and dispositive causality, prepare its entry into the hearts of men. The created soul, the immanent form of the Church, culminates thus in charity; in evangelical charity, the charity of Christ. The spiritual riches represented by this soul exist in the hierarchy, taken as such, only as in an instrument through which they operate. But all are found most eminently in Christ, the Head of the Church.

2. The Church As Co-Redemptive

The created soul of the Church can confer upon men a triple likeness to Christ, bringing them into profound conformity with His character and action as Priest, Saviour and King. We shall have to go further into this idea later on, but may briefly indicate its meaning here.[1067]

1. Christ did not come into the world for Himself alone. His soul was not closed within itself, but open to all mankind and even to the angels. He came to transform the world, to take up and recapitulate all things, purifying them in His blood and re-grouping them around His cross in a new order, better than the old, better even than that of the state of innocence. The law of His life was the law of fire, reaching out to all to assimilate all: "I am come to cast fire on the earth, and what will I but that it be kindled?" (Luke xii. 49). The work He accomplished as Priest, Saviour and King, the virtue of His priesthood, His grace and His truth—the redemptive virtue in short, made available in its plenitude through His operation in the hierarchy He founded—can reach thus directly only a limited number of believers. In itself, however, it is co-extensive with the universe. Its end is not to save Christians closed in upon themselves, but to produce Christians open to the distress of all mankind. As history moves on it incorporates into this Christ who was born, suffered and died for the salvation of all men and ascended into glory, ordinary men who in their turn are born, suffer and die in Him for the salvation of all men. To say that the Church is the Body of Christ is to say that she is one with Him in redeeming the world; that she is, by that definition, co-redemptive. It is the co-redemptive Church that is to be formed in time by Christ's action through the hierarchy, the Church whose members have received the call to identify themselves with Christ to save other men, in Him, with Him, through Him. "I fill up those things "says the Apostle, "that are wanting of the sufferings of Christ, in my flesh, for his body, which is the Church" (Col. i. 24).

2. Thus all the faithful who are openly and fully of the Church are, by vocation, members of Christ the Redeemer, His co-redeemers. They should, by vocation, take upon themselves the burden of the salvation of all men, known or unknown, now journeying with them on this planet towards eternity. Not only that, they should help to bear the sufferings of those in purgatory, who still need their prayers. It is by vocation that the Church prays for the salvation of the entire world, and it has been remarked that this universalist preoccupation is expressed with an ever more urgent insistence in the liturgy of the new feasts of Our Lord, the feasts of the Sacred Heart and of Christ the King. And it is also by vocation that she prays unceasingly that purgatory may soon be left untenanted and that the Kingdom of God may come in all its fullness. But it is clear that the faithful of the Church, and the whole Church on earth, will be unable to support so terrible a burden unless interiorly sustained by the cross of Christ which, in one instant of time whose efficacy remains always present, bore upon its sole self the weight of all the sins of all the nations and all the ages.

But if all the children of the Church are called to be co-redemptive members, if they are all co-redeemers in respect of their state and virtually, only those who are fully faithful, those who follow their vocation to the end and live only that Christ may live in them, are co-redeemers effectively and actually. These, says Tauler, are "noble men, useful to all Christendom; they avail for the betterment of mankind, for the glory of God, and the consolation of all men". Elsewhere he adds: "These are they on whom Holy Church relies, and if they did not exist in Christendom, Christendom would not survive for an hour. Their mere existence, the sole fact that they are, is something more precious and more useful than all the activity in the world."[1068] For these are at the heart of the Church. Such are the saints, filled with the apostolic spirit, which is nothing other than the spirit of Christ.[1069] Such, above all, was the Our Lady, whose co-redemptive dignity has been recognized by the Church; but the Virgin is the Church at its purest.

3. Twenty centuries after Christ the Church, the great Church, is still no more than a little flock. She alone is chosen, not the rest of the world; but chosen for the redemption of the rest of the world. Her way of being saved in Christ is to save others in Christ. And thus the whole immense human multitude may be divided into two parts: those whom Christ's action reaches through the hierarchy and who become redemptive members, saviour members, by vocation; and those whom He reaches only by action from a distance, and who, in part, on account of the prayers and sufferings of the others, can be members redeemed, members saved. When they approach the Church, and enter the zone of the indirect action of the hierarchy, they too may begin to have a part in redeeming the world.

This is a glorious thing for the Church, but a difficult vocation for Christians. "The Church exults in the witness that she has to bear, and the Christian exults in the Church. She knows it to be her strict duty to confess the holy reality of the privileges she has received. The divine Liberty gives as It pleases, and to whom It pleases. But it is in a frail vessel, as St. Paul says, that every faithful soul bears grace. Though divine truth rests in a measure on feeble human shoulders it is not for the believer to adopt a superior or protective air, but rather to apologize and to ask pardon of all who pass by. Euntes ibant et flebant. Going, they went and wept."[1070]

3. The Created Soul And Uncreated Soul Of The Church

From the standpoint of final causality two reasons may be given, following St. Thomas, why the sacred humanity of Christ was filled with grace and the infused virtues. On the one hand the humanity had to merit the redemption of the world, and on the other, it had to enter into an immediate contact with the divinity by knowledge and love.[1071]

In a similar way, we may assign two ends to which the created soul of the Church is ordered. It has to form the Church co-redeeming the world; and it has to prepare the Church to become the home of God among men. From this last standpoint we shall say that orientated sacramental charity, which is the created soul of the Church, prepares the coming of the Trinity in the manner of an ultimate disposition and in the order of material causality; while this same orientated sacramental charity results, in the order of formal causality, as a propria passio, from the indwelling of the Trinity. The visible envelope of the Church, illuminated by her created soul, can receive the Holy Spirit as into a living dwelling-place, and with the Spirit the whole Godhead, the Uncreated Soul of the Church.[1072] The created soul is thus ordered to the Uncreated Soul, the possession of created grace is ordered to the indwelling of Uncreated Grace, and the highest definition of the Church that can be given is that she is God's resting-place among His creatures.[1073]




The thing that first strikes Moehler is the way in which the individual incarnation of the Word in Christ prepares a collective incarnation of the Spirit in the Church. Schleiermacher, says P. Chaillet,[1074] tried, by a clever defence of Sabellianism, to justify a kind of Christian pantheism according to which the Divinity, following a necessary evolution, was manifested first in creative activity as Father, then in redemptive activity as Son, and finally in sanctifying activity, or in the Church, as Spirit; the three Persons of the Godhead really being only successive outpourings ad extra. Moehler expressly combated this pantheistic deformation of Christianity throughout his life, but he wanted to save the truth that lies buried in it, and which he had often come across in the earliest Fathers, according to which the world is to be brought back to the Father, through the Son, in the Spirit. "It may seem strange," he writes in the preface to Die Einheit in der Kirche, "that I should begin with the Holy Spirit when the centre of our faith is the Person of Christ.... I prefer to go straight to the true heart of the question. The Father sends the Son, and the Son sends the Holy Spirit. It was thus that God came to us. We go in the reverse direction to God. The Spirit leads us to the Son, and the Son to the Father. So I have determined to begin with the step that is first in time in the work of our Christianization."

The Spirit came down on the Apostles and disciples at a moment when all were together in one place, and henceforth He will dwell uniquely in the Church: "Where the Church is, there also is the Spirit of God. Where the Spirit of God is, there also is the Church and every grace "says St. Irenaeus. Thus "the social character of Christian existence"[1075] is apparent from the outset. It is not an isolated individual but an organic group that harbours the Spirit and whose mission it is to communicate Him from generation to generation. The task of the individual, according to Moehler, is "to accept into himself, in personal religious experience, the holy life that fills the Church; he has to transform, and by his personal contemplation make it genuinely his own", the religious experience of the community (Die Einheit, pt. i, ch. i, 4, p. 12). Thus, for example, "the question: What is Christ's teaching? is penetrated through and through with history. It means: What has been taught in the Church since the days of the Apostles?, or again: What is the common and constant tradition?" (Die Einheit, pt. i, ch. ii, 10, p. 33). To this teaching the faithful Christian unconditionally submits, "persuaded as he is that if the Holy Spirit manifests Himself in the Christian community as a whole, He will be manifested also to himself when he attains to greater spiritual maturity, when his interior life has become more perfect" (ibid.). This collective and organic life of the faithful, being transmitted by the Divinity through the sacred humanity of Christ, and being the proper reflection of His personal life, constitutes a Body of which He is the Head. We have to be members if we would know what it is to exist in Christ: "We cannot experience the life of Christ in us save only by and in the Church. Hence the more the divine life, pouring through the Church as in a torrent, is allowed to flow through us, so much the more does the communion of saints become real and deep in us, so much the more we share in this life and the more it gains from ours—the more efficacious also is our knowledge and the more lively our intimate awareness of Christ, the clearer will be our vision of what He is for us or, at least, of what He should be in our lives" (ibid., ch. i, 7, p. 22). It was to be one of Moehler's deep and magnificent insights to recognize above all in the Fathers of the Church the expression of a life and a thought moving in the inner depths of the Body of Christ. With them, wrote Pere Congar, recalling this intuition of Moehler's, "everything proceeds from a living and total conformity with the mind of the Church. They live in her, and they live by her; neither in their life nor in their thought are they determined by anything outside her or foreign to her. The very object of their speculations is taken from the very heart of her life and of her thought. They do not speculate for speculation's sake, for all their work is but a service of the Church, carried out for the vital needs of the Christian community; hence their thought is always a reference to the very principle of Christianity, to this essential and central reality: Jesus Christ, Saviour and Regenerator, Initiator for all men of a new life as children of God. All their work breathes Jesus Christ, because all their thought has unfolded and ripened in the heart of the Church, who lives only by Jesus Christ, or rather who lives Jesus Christ. Hence this sense that they have for the things of Christ, and this sure instinct for all that is opposed to them. Their formulas may perhaps at times be inadequate, insufficient, or even doubtful; but that is not the essential thing, for beyond all imperfect formulas and in the very use of occasionally rudimentary conceptual or verbal instruments, they have the keenest sense of the truth, the very sense of Christ and of Christianity, which is more a life than a formula."[1076]

The voices of the Fathers are shot through with the flame of that charity with which the whole Church burns for Christ. The teaching of those among them who belonged to the hierarchy was, on that account also, guaranteed by the charism of the divine assistance coming also from the Holy Spirit, but quite distinct from charity. This hierarchical teaching was proposed "from without", for the acceptance and obedience of the faithful. But since it was in some sort upborne by the charity of the whole believing Church, it might seem, unless clear distinctions are drawn, to be no more than a spontaneous expression of this common charity. Moehler's thought needs a little clarification here.[1077]

The essential thing in his eyes—and here I think he is entirely right—is the insertion of the individual person into the organism of love. Thereby we enter infallibly into the truth. "He who, in our days, turns to the common teaching of the Church cannot be in error; not because truth goes with majorities, but because the totality of the gifts of the Holy Spirit are to be found only in the totality of believers.... All believers appear as parts integrating themselves into each other, so that they are perpetually referred to this fundamental law, that it is in unity and charity that the truth is to be found."[1078] To recommend his truth to his contemporaries Moehler does not hesitate to attempt a transposition of the romantic ideology then in vogue, according to which the individual cannot hope to escape death by isolation and egoism save by recovering his organic place in the universe of which he is a member, unity of life with the universe being "the condition of all genuine knowledge of God, the Creator of this universe; for the universe as such is rooted in God and is a kind of global revelation of God". Similarly on the supernatural plane, says Moehler, the Christian is to keep clear of egoism, the instigator of heresies, by entering into the organic community of the faithful, so as to find the true Christ.[1079]



Moehler's fundamental insight is undoubtedly sure, great and fruitful. Its expression, as I have suggested, is at certain points insufficiently thought out. To make it complete we must see Christian communal living, organic life in Christ, as, in an essential and absolutely indispensable respect, the effect of an influx coming from the Trinity and from the heart of Christ, by means of the hierarchy. We must see the hierarchy, that is to say the powers of order and of jurisdiction, as acting, ministerially no doubt but uninterruptedly, for the existence and continuance of the Church, the home of orientated sacramental charity. We must see God as ever forming the Church amongst men by a twofold action: an action creative and conservative of the substantial being of things, excluding every interposed agent; and a sanctifying action which does not draw its virtue from any of the created energies of things; this second action is in some sort humanized by passing through the sacred humanity of Christ, and reaches men—so tar at least as its deepest, most precious, most deiform effects are concerned—only through the hierarchy left by Christ upon earth. Grasping all these truths, we see how the Church, coming from Christ by way of the hierarchy, must feel a constant, profound and natural need for the hierarchy, and necessarily has an awareness of its true character as the visible envelope, the vehicle, of marvellous spiritual virtues. The created soul of the Church, the formal organizing principle of the body, is, as I have said, orientated sacramental charity. But charity, as sacramental, can scarcely fail to recognize its divine cause in the sacraments, which are the very means appointed to contain and communicate it. Indeed, it will have a spontaneous interior inclination to them, and will take pleasure in the very sacramentals of the Christian cultus which are, as it were, their extension and shadow.[1080] Charity, as originally orientated by the influences of the jurisdictional power, will naturally be attentive to receive the declaratory and canonical decisions that come from it; it will even, up to a point, be led to divine them in advance and forestall them.

Thus we come back to an idea dear to Moehler, and can estimate its true value. This idea is that to the Christian, in proportion as he becomes more wholly Christian, the hierarchy normally appears as no alien and oppressive power, no constraint, but rather as the fruit of an inner and organic requirement of the entire Church (I say "normally", because now and again certain demands of the hierarchy—of the canonical order chiefly—may take on the character of a providential trial or even a mysterious cross). The hierarchy, that is to say the twofold power, sacramental and jurisdictional, is the cause of the Church before it is her effect, and Moehler did not sufficiently emphasize the fact. But there is an influence flowing the other way too, inasmuch as the quality and functioning of the hierarchy in a given period—the precise state of its historical development, the choice perhaps of its declaratory pronouncements, the nature above all and the quality of its canonical decisions[1081]—may be explained in a large measure by the state of the inner charity of the Church at the time. We shall therefore reverse Moehler's order. For him, the hierarchy figures first as a product of the love of the faithful (a love which therefore he cannot represent as sacramental and orientated from the outset): he writes, for example, that "the formation of the visible Church is the great work of the faithful";[1082] that the bishop, or rather the episcopate, began as the expression or image of the community before impressing its influence on the latter, and becoming finally "the speaking image of a first love now forgotten";[1083] that "the episcopate, the juridical constitution of the Church, etc." are only "an exterior representation" of the Church's interior essence, "the external unity having its source in the internal unity and being, as it were, its extravasation".[1084] For us, it would undoubtedly be vain to conceive the hierarchy as prior in time to the love that ceaselessly beats in the heart of the Church from the day of her foundation; but of its nature the hierarchy is first of all a ministerial cause of the love in so far as this love is sacramental and orientated, that is to say fully ripened in the sun of the Christian revelation. Afterwards, by a sort of recoil, it can be effectively acted upon by this same love. Provided we are clear upon this, we can make our own Moehler's phrase that the bishop represents as such "the manifestation and living centre of Christian aspirations to unity.... the love of Christians realized and fully conscious"; and even that the Apostles, themselves instituting bishops before there were any great communities and without waiting for their consent, anticipated in a way "the feeling for union which would necessarily arise in future believers". Various other expressions of Moehler's can be interpreted favourably.[1085] We can agree with him, for example, that "To those who have not yet the perfect Christian spirit, the episcopal mission appears as a law; the bishop is there to teach them what they should be and what they should aim at. In their bishop they see the term, the ideal achievement of the common life. The more perfect, or those who touch perfection, those who have mastered their egoism, recognize in the bishop a free fulfilment of man become spontaneously active in the Holy Spirit."[1086] For orientated sacramental charity, which stems from the hierarchy, cannot normally feel this hierarchy as distant; it interiorizes it, takes its stamp and makes it its own, much as we make our mother tongue our own—we express ourselves through it spontaneously. There is thus a secret and indestructible harmony between orientated sacramental charity, that is to say charity in its fullest development, and the hierarchy; such a charity normally feels at ease under the hierarchy, and postulates it in spontaneous desire. When on the other hand the significance of the hierarchy is no longer understood, that is a sign that charity has grown cold in the hearts of Christians and that the spirit of schism and heresy is abroad. Thus, the affinity that knits up the hearts of the faithful with the hierarchy, although doubtless completed and perfected by an affinity of the moral order, arising from the virtues of religion and obedience, is at bottom, in its principle, much more than that: it is an affinity in the theological order arising from faith and charity. This view, which Moehler made his own and forcibly expressed, is authentically Christian.[1087] But it is so only if we see that orientated sacramental charity is an effect of the hierarchy, whereas Moehler tends to reverse the terms by presenting the hierarchy as the product of collective charity.



The idea of the hierarchy as something used by the divine omnipotence as a ministerial cause serving ceaselessly to form the Church in the world—the idea that pervades the Treatise on the Sacraments in the Summa of St. Thomas Aquinas—is absent from the organizing principle of the Moehlerian ecclesiology. Moehler made much of the other splendours of the hierarchy: the chief one escaped him. One sees it in the article that Moehler, then a young professor, published in the Theological Review of Tubingen. He criticises Katerkamp for conceiving the hierarchy as the central point around which the history of the Church turns—and indeed it is not that, but only the instrumental or ministerial cause of realities that surpass it. He sees this as equivalent to thinking that the Church, having once received the hierarchy from God, is thereby equipped to be self-sufficient till the end of time. To this he opposes "the genuinely Christian conception of history, according to which the Spirit of God remains the perpetually active principle in the Church, leading all things to the end prescribed by His Providence, all else being but means, the organ of the Spirit". In the same article Moehler writes that the hierarchy may sometimes be but a blind instrument in the hand of God (which may be true, not of the hierarchy as such, but of certain particular decisions of the canonical power), and that the hierarchy could be tempted to infidelity; whereas the divine Spirit could not decisive measure, the Spirit protects His Church. Undoubtedly Moehler's ideas on the hierarchy were to be rectified and deepened. But it is surprising that he was able to imagine that, for a Catholic like Katerkamp, the hierarchy could suffice to itself and function independently of the Spirit. The fact is that the Moehlerian ecclesiology, in spite of all its greatness and generosity, simply will not allow the hierarchy its proper place.[1088] And Moehler always seems to be fascinated by the idea of the hierarchy as emergent from the common charity of the faithful.

This seems quite impossible as regards the sacramental power. It is true, says St. Thomas, that under the "law of nature" men would have to choose their own sacramental system under the prompting of an interior grace; but as early as the patriarchs, then under the Mosaic Law, still more under the New Law, the divine love was to anticipate them with sacraments of His own choice, and these of a very much greater perfection.[1089] On the threshold of Die Einheit in der Kirche the mention of Baptism, Communion and Imposition of Hands prompts the remark that no one can claim them for his own since they were handed down to us by a community to which one has to be aggregated in order to receive life. The same thought is taken up further on: "Just as the Apostles received from Christ the mission to preach the Gospel—a mission they could never have bestowed on themselves—so no one will ever be able to bestow such a mission on himself. The Church alone can bestow it, and she does so through the ordainer as intermediary" (pt. ii, ch. iii, 65, p. 255). But here Moehler unsuccessfully tries to furnish an explanation of ordination; unsuccessfully, for he simply achieves a straightforward return to the Lutheran conception: "Ordination, as far as appears externally, is nothing else than an official recognition by the whole Church of what one of the faithful genuinely finds in his spirit, a spirit that enables him to represent the love of a certain number of Christians and to be the link between them and the body of the Church. Ordination is not so much a communication of the Holy Spirit as a recognition that the ordinand has already received a certain gift of the Spirit."[1090]

With all the greater reason Moehler endeavours to represent the jurisdictional power, even in the extraordinary form it took in the Apostles, as an expression of the charity of the Christian community. This leads him to a definition of tradition which, as he rightly feels (pt. i, ch. ii, 16, p. 58), is not that of the general run of theologians. For them, the Apostles made use of two procedures to transmit the revealed deposit to their contemporaries: oral (Tradition) and written (Scripture). Tradition and Scripture are the only two loci theologici which contain the revealed deposit. This deposit was entrusted to the living magisterium of the Church, whose first duty is to declare it infallibly, that is to say to preserve and unfold it.[1091] Moehler considerably widened the meaning of the word "Tradition". What he calls Tradition is the Gospel living from the outset in the heart of the Christian community, the living consciousness of the Church. He is to be blamed for running together under one word so many various realities: the Apostles' charity; the living charism that enabled them to teach new revelations whether orally (whence Tradition in the strict sense) or by writing (whence the canonical Scriptures); the charity of the whole of the later Church; the Church's magisterial power; and, in a word, everything that is spirit and life as opposed to writing and the letter. This Tradition of Moehler's expresses itself, "embodies" itself, in several stages: first, during the lifetime of the Apostles, in Holy Scripture, which thus forms the first link in the "written tradition", then in the writings of the Fathers and ecclesiastical authors, who represent the succeeding links in the written tradition. What here seems to me insufficient is Moehler's mode of expression rather than his thought. But, that said, one cannot leave unquoted the fine passage in which he describes the relation of the magisterium (which he calls Tradition) to Scripture, of which he says that we must not describe it as a creation of chance just because its origins appear fortuitous to us. For what idea, he continues, could we then form of the reign of the Holy Spirit in the Church? "Without Holy Scripture we should miss the first link of the chain, which would then become incomprehensible, confused, chaotic; on the other hand, without a regular Tradition we should miss the inner meaning of Scripture, for without the intermediate links we should be unable to see how things were connected. Without the Holy Scriptures we should have no complete picture of the Saviour, for we should lack certainty on many details and everything would melt into legend and fable; without an uninterrupted Tradition we should lack the Spirit, and so everything would be deprived of interest.... Without the Scriptures we should not have the words of the Saviour, we should never be able to say how the Son of Man spoke, and it seems to me that I should not want to go on living if I could no longer hear Him speak. But without Tradition it would be impossible to say with any certainty who was speaking and what precisely it was that He announced, and the joy of savouring His words would be denied us."

Coming to the ordinary and permanent jurisdiction, we must say briefly that it is quite useless for Moehler to try to represent primitive institutions of divine origin, such as the episcopate and sovereign pontificate, as pure effects of the charity of the Christian communities. He says of the Church that "it is before all else an effect of Christian faith, the outcome of the living love of the faithful united by the Holy Spirit" (pt. ii, ch. i, 49, p. 193); that "the active power, communicated to believers by the Holy Spirit, fashions for itself the visible body which is the Church, and conversely, it is the visible Church which receives and carries this higher power in order to communicate it." One accepts these expressions, of which the pages of Die Einheit in der Kirche are full, but explains them by saying that orientated sacramental charity, which is an effect of the hierarchy, fashions from within, not the hierarchy, but the very body of the Church. And if in the word Church we include both the life of the faithful and the exercise of the hierarchic powers, both the "Church believing" and the "Church teaching", the Church, thus understood, has for her created soul, for the immanent formative and organizing cause of her body, not only orientated sacramental charity, but everything presupposed by it, that is all the spiritual powers of the hierarchy and the secret motions of the Divinity that set these powers in action. We may very well sum up all these various spiritual elements under such names as interior energy, life, and so on; but they are certainly not to be reduced to values of the order of charity alone.



The Church is the living abode of the Spirit, of uncreated love; she contains Him and He is the infinite energy at her centre, creating, conserving and sanctifying her whole being ab instrinseco. But also He overflows and transcends her at all points, containing her as the sea contains a sponge.

Again, the Church is the living abode of spirit, of love, that is, of created charity. Moehler, arguing against Schleiermacher, says forcibly, "We shall always recognize, and could cease to do so only if the Church herself should cease to do so, that the spirit of the whole, her esprit de corps, the spirit of union, and all the truth and glory she possesses, are effects of the operation of the Holy Spirit within her; but we shall never say that the spirit of wholeness is the Holy Spirit, the Divinity Himself. No: the Church has never fallen into the strange contradiction of taking the Holy Spirit for her own esprit de corps, or feeling for union."[1092] The same thought already appears in Die Einheit in der Kirche: "The unique spirit of the faithful is the operation of the unique Spirit of God" (pt. i, ch. i, 1, p. 5). Precisely. But here Moehler has to be completed. The created spirit and love, effects of the uncreated Spirit and Love, are poured out into the very core of the Church and there maintained by means of spiritual powers, "embodied" however and made visible—namely, the hierarchic powers of order and of jurisdiction. And that is why this spirit, love and charity attain in the Church an intensity and plenitude unknown before, and incapable of existence outside her visible frontiers.

Is it still possible, as Moehler desires, to represent the Church as "the exterior effect of an inner creative energy" (pt. ii, ch. i, 49, p. 195), as the body, the expression, "the envelope, the exteriorized image of the spirit" (pt. i, ch. i, 1, p. 4)? Certainly. Moehler was completely right; his fundamental intuition is profound, as old as Christianity and eternally fruitful.

All that is required is a good definition of this inner creative energy of which the Church is the reflection. Either it is the Spirit, Love, and Indweller of the Church, her Soul and uncreated Form;[1093] and then we shall have to say that the Spirit fills His Church with spiritual gifts, charisms of all kinds, that charity holds the first place among them but that they cannot all be identified with charity without confusion. Or else the inner creative energy causing the Church consists of the created gifts deposited in her by the Spirit. That, more often than not, is Moehler's thought. We do not have to reject it; we merely have to make it precise.

The Church may be taken to mean simultaneously the indissoluble complex formed by the life of the faithful and the hierarchical activities, by the "Church believing" and the "Church teaching." In this case the inner energy that quickens her external activities is multiple. It comprises not only the supernatural virtues, but also the hierarchical powers and all the motions that go with them respectively. The error would be to overlook this diversity, and to try to account for the exterior action of the hierarchy by the simple virtue of charity.

And the Church may be taken to mean only the Church believing (always, it is true, indissolubly united to the hierarchy, whose proper effect she is). In this case the interior energy quickening her actions and organizing her body is indeed ultimately charity, as Moehler says, but charity under the plenary form which Christ came to give it—orientated sacramental charity, which feels itself intrinsically harmonised with the hierarchical powers of order and jurisdiction.

St. Thomas put all these notions into their proper places. "What is preponderant in the law of the New Testament," he says, "that whereon all its efficacy is based, is the grace of the Holy Spirit".[1094] However, other exterior elements are essential although secondary.[1095] First there are the means to this grace itself, which has to be brought to us—and these are the sacraments;[1096] moreover, it has to be orientated, and thus we have the rules of faith and morals.[1097] Then we have all the external activities flowing from the operation of this grace, "opera exteriora quae ex instinctu gratiae producuntur".[1098]



1. "Apostolic Church" The Name In Its Plenitude

1. "Roman" Is One Of The Names For The Authentic Church. It Is Not Her Complete Name.

The Church is orientated towards the truth, both speculative and practical, by a virtue which comes from heaven through the heart of Christ, then through the jurisdictional or pastoral power. This last resides, in its entirety and primarily (which does not mean exclusively), in the permanent person of Peter, in whom the universal episcopate, the universal pastoral power, is for ever attached to the Roman episcopate. Thus the true Church is Roman.

In virtue of the sacramental power of order, she can still do what Jesus did at the Last Supper, and thus unite herself validly and liturgically with the sacrifice of the cross, perpetually offered in a bloodless manner from one end of the world to the other; through the sacraments she can communicate to the soul that grace which is the root of faith and of charity. Because of this the true Church is sacramental.

For all their grandeur, the names "Roman Church", and "Sacramental Church", are still inadequate. They designate the true Church by the two divine powers without which she could neither propagate nor maintain herself. But the adequate name, naming the Church in the fullness of her reality, naming her by her efficient and conserving cause, is Apostolic.

2. Apostolic Mediation And Apostolic Succession

To maintain that the true Church is apostolic is to maintain that she depends, as heat on fire, on a spiritual virtue residing in the Holy Trinity and thence descending by stages, first into the humanity of Christ, then into the two-fold power, sacramental and jurisdictional, of the apostolic body, and finally to the Christian people. Where we find this mediation, this chain of dependence, there we find the true Church (composed, it must be added, of the just who are to be saved and of sinners who are to be damned). Where this mediation is lacking there also the true Church is lacking; there may be inchoate ontological membership, of itself salvific, but certainly not fully achieved ontological membership, of the true Church. No link of the chain can be omitted or even changed. The Godhead is eternal; Jesus Christ is the same yesterday, today and for ever (Heb. xiii. 8), and to the end of the world He will assist the apostolic body (Matt. xxviii. 19-20). An eternal God, an immortal Christ, an indefectible apostolic body, lastly, the generations of the faithful—that is the evangelical order.

But the apostolic body can be indefectible only in virtue of an uninterrupted succession. Suppose it had failed, and then been replaced by another institution to all appearances identical: apparently nothing would have been altered, but in point of fact everything would have been subverted; and this would quickly become apparent. Naturally, both God and Christ would remain untouched; but the institution claiming to take the place of the apostolic body and separated from it by a break, would be a new institution, and could not be that indefectible institution set up in the world by Christ. It would therefore inherit none of the mysterious privileges attached by Him to the true apostolic body; it would have but a simulacrum of the power of order, a simulacrum of the power of jurisdiction, and any appearance of permanency would be illusory. From this standpoint, the need for an uninterrupted succession in the apostolic body, apostolicae successionis praerogativa,[1099] is obvious. Without it, the last link of the chain by which the Church is suspended would be broken, and the divine apostolicity of the Church would have foundered.[1100]

Consequently, to say that apostolicity is a property of the Church means that the Church results from the apostolic body as from her proper immediate cause—the immediacy being supposital—her proper ulterior cause being first the humanity of Christ and finally the Trinity. Thus apostolicity marks the dependence of the Church on her divine causes, and above all on the nearest of those causes.[1101]

3. The Virtue Of Apostolicity

We may think of apostolicity as the power that gives birth to the Church. We should then define apostolicity as "the supernatural virtue (formal aspect) which, to form the Church (final cause) among men (material cause), comes down from God (first efficient cause), then from Christ (instrumental cause conjoined to the Divinity), then from an apostolic body preserved by an uninterrupted succession (instrumental cause separate from the Divinity).[1102]

The definition "separate instrumental cause" associates three notions necessary to apostolicity: first that of a mediation by which God continues to sustain His Church, and whose elements are Christ and the apostolic body; next that of a body, the mediation being entrusted not to isolated individuals but to an organic group capable of retaining a continuous personality in spite of the death of its individual members; and lastly that of the uninterrupted succession of this apostolic body. Why? The reason must be sought in the fact that the last link of the chain which is to bring the apostolic virtue to men, namely the apostolic or hierarchic body, was instituted by Christ Himself to endure till the end of time. Composed, in the line of order, of bishops, priest and ministers, and in the line of jurisdiction of a supreme pontificate and a subordinated episcopate, the hierarchy is a mediate, organic and permanent institution. Hence the virtue that forms and conserves the Church, the apostolic virtue, cannot flow freely unless the primitive grouping of the apostolic body remains unaltered and continues uninterruptedly. Otherwise it would be hindered either wholly or in part, and the Church would either be mutilated or unable to exist at all.

4. The Property Of Apostolicity Considered In The Church Believing

But apostolicity may be thought of, not as a power giving birth to the Church but as a property of the Church.

It will then be defined as "the property belonging to the Church in as much as she results from a supernatural virtue received from God through Christ and through the apostolic body persisting uninterruptedly"; "the apostolic body" meaning the hierarchy established by Christ in bishops, priests and ministers (according to the power of order), and in the supreme pontificate and subordinated episcopate (according to the power of jurisdiction); so that wherever the apostolic body is mutilated or absent the property of apostolicity is mutilated or absent.

Such, it seems to me, is the most comprehensive evangelical idea of apostolicity as a property of the Church.

5. The Property Of Apostolicity Considered As In The Church At Once Believing And Teaching

It is the Church as found in all the faithful, the Church believing and loving, sometimes called the Church taught, which arises from the apostolic body as from her proper cause. But we can extend the meaning of the word "Church" still further so that it covers at once both the community of the faithful and the hierarchic powers, the Church taught and the Church teaching.[1103] Then the hierarchic powers, hitherto considered as exterior to the Church, are brought within her. Being essentially spiritual—though outwardly manifested—they directly pertain to the created soul of the Church; while the visible inequalities they bring with them pertain to the body of the Church. Pertaining to the Church's soul are (1) the sacramental powers of Baptism, of Confirmation, and of Order; (2) the jurisdictional power itself along with the right orientation it bestows on all those who listen to it with faith and obedience; and (3) sacramental grace. In other words, the powers of order and of jurisdiction, conferred first on the Apostles and handed down without a break to our times, are a constitutive and permanent element in the created soul of the Church; which soul, by structural necessity, is therefore hierarchized or apostolic. From this standpoint the Church is called apostolic, not, as before, because she depends on the apostolic body as on an extrinsic cause; but because she contains the apostolic body in her own being, because she bears in her own interior the divine powers of order and jurisdiction, received from the Apostles by way of an uninterrupted succession. It is in virtue of her essence that she is apostolic or hierarchic.[1104] Apostolicity can then be defined as "the property belonging to the Church owing to the presence within her (resulting from a supernatural virtue coming from God through Christ) of the hierarchic powers of order and jurisdiction, preserved since the time of the Apostles by uninterrupted transmission."

6. Apostolicity As An Object Of Faith

From every standpoint, the property of apostolicity is mysterious. It is faith alone, not reason or history, which teaches us that from its source in the Trinity a divine virtue passes through the soul of Christ and then through the hierarchical powers, to dispense supernatural salvation to the world and to gather into one the people of God.

The hierarchic or apostolic powers, which endow the Church with her hierarchic or apostolic character, are in themselves pure mysteries, objects of faith, not of sight. Undoubtedly we can verify historically the uninterrupted continuity of certain doctrinal teachings such as the great dogmas, and of certain exterior rites such as the Mass and the sacraments. But to believe that these teachings are the infallible, albeit analogical, expression of mysteries hidden in the heart of God, to believe that these rites communicate the power to perpetuate the unique redemptive sacrifice and to sanctify men—this would in no way be possible without the divine virtue of faith. If the hierarchic or apostolic powers are transmitted by visible rites which leave their traces in the sands of history, they remain nevertheless intrinsically outside the reach of historical, rational or psychological investigation; and the hierarchic or apostolic character stamped on the true Church is no less mysterious than is the true Church herself. We believe in apostolicity as we believe in the Church, credo.... apostolicam Ecclesiam.



1. Preliminary Remarks

A. The Properties Mysterious, The Notes Miraculous

In its principle, therefore, apostolicity is mysterious and an object of divine faith; but in its outward manifestations it becomes a sign distinguishing the true Church. Thus the life, death and resurrection of Christ are pure mysteries in their essence, but in their outward showing they are miraculous signs.

Similar language must be used of the unity, catholicity and holiness of the Church: in respect of their principle they are mysteries, in virtue of their visible effects they are miracles. The soul of the Church is altogether invisible, mysterious, an object of faith alone, yet this soul by vivifying the social body of the Church, transforms it, illuminates it, lifts it above all other social organisms so as to make it a permanent social miracle. Equally the properties of the Church (which have their roots in her soul) are in their principle invisible and mysterious; but in the measure in which they are imparted to her body they begin visibly to appear as observable objects, and to become so many divine signs or marks. Unity, sanctity, catholicity, apostolicity are properties which under one aspect remain invisible and mysterious; but, being reflected in the body of the Church, they become visible and present themselves as miracles. When these properties are treated from an apologetic standpoint we are led to abstract from their mysterious roots and to consider only their visible manifestation in the body of the Church and their miraculous nature. Then it is that in all strictness, they may be called signs, marks or notes of the true Church. Thus, in my opinion, the concept of "property" is more comprehensive, and the concept "note", more restricted.[1105]

B. The Metaphysical Connection Between All The Properties And Between All The Notes

The essential properties, of course, cannot be separated from the essence; they are distinguished from it conceptually, but identified with it in reality. Where apostolicity exists, there also are unity, catholicity, sanctity: and conversely.

This applies also to the notes, which are simply the properties "in so far as these are externally apparent and known".[1106] One note is enough to indicate the true Church, but where this one note is, there are all the others.[1107] It is possible to consider them separately however, since, though identical in reality, they differ conceptually. They are manifold aspects of one and the same reality too rich to be seized in a single concept.

C. The Place For The Properties And Notes In The Treatise On The Church

In the Treatise on the Church, the properties and notes appear as a corollary to the study of the four great causes of the Church: apostolicity, pertaining to the efficient cause; unity and catholicity to the formal and material causes; and sanctity to the final cause.

Clearly it will always be allowable to detach any of these notes from the Treatise on the Church and to study it apart, either for the purpose of doing so more minutely or the better to bring out its interest for some particular period.

D. Whether The Notes Are To Be Found Imperfectly In The Dissident Churches

Insofar as the dissident Churches carried away with them fragments of the true Church and still retain genuine Christian elements, something of her nature may still be found there, in a debased state; and therefore also something of her influence.

The notes may then in a manner be present, no doubt attenuated and altered, even in the dissident Churches. Far from demonstrating the ineffectiveness of these notes to indicate the true Church, this imperfect presence attests the existence of remnants of the true Church in the very core of the sects that have left her. They enable us to recognize, under the debris, something of the splendour of the original design.

Catholic apologists have often recognized the presence of signs of a Christian origin in the separated Churches. They have even proposed to call them "negative notes", that is to say notes accompanying the true Church but insufficient to reveal her. It is, I think, preferable to think of them as debased or mutilated notes. When compared with the notes in their state of perfection and integrity they witness at once to the presence of Christian elements in the dissident Churches and to the alteration they have undergone.

One may say, for example, that the Oriental Churches, where the power of order has been validly transmitted, possess a partial and mutilated apostolicity.

E. Apostolicity As Note

Let us therefore consider apostolicity as a note. It is important to remark that it can become a sign of the true Church for two kinds of enquirers:

a. For those who already believe that Christ and the Apostles brought the definitive religion to the world. Then the proof by apostolicity supposes that the enquirer accepts a datum of the faith; and apostolicity, for him, is a mixed sign, appealing in part to faith and in part to reason. It is thus that it enters into the argumentation, famous from the early days of Christianity, called by Tertullian the argument from prescription.

b. For those who as yet accept no datum of the faith it is a pure sign, appealing solely to reason.

2. Apostolicity As A Mixed Sign, Or The Argument From Prescription

The consideration of apostolicity as a mixed sign (the argument from prescription) is called by certain apologists the via historica.[1108] I think, however, that this name, which seems to indicate a purely historical argument and fails to fix attention on the mixed character of the argument from prescription, cannot but give rise to misconceptions; and for that reason I shall not make use of it.

A. Continuity A Sure Sign Of Truth

If it be admitted that Christ and the Apostles brought the world the definitive religion that came from heaven, then, of two things, one must be true: either, this religion will continue in this world without interruption, and will therefore keep its divine and supernatural character intact; or, this religion will be interrupted, and what then succeeds it will be due to human initiative, which can only come from below.

Continuity is a sure mark of truth; rupture a sure mark of falsity.

B. Two Signs Of Rupture: A. Dissidence B. Innovation

A rupture can be positively demonstrated in two ways: by dissidence or by innovation.

a. First, by dissidence, separation, schism. But at the moment when two Churches separate, each claims to be the true Church of Christ, and each accuses the other of dissidence. Is there any mark enabling us to recognize which of the two is the Church of Christ and which the dissident?

The ancients replied: the Church of Christ is that where universality is found. "The sect of Donatus," wrote St. Augustine, "is found in Africa, the Eunomians are not in Africa; but the Catholica is there, like the Donatists. The Eunomians are in the East, the sect of Donatus is not; but the Catholica is there like the Eunomians. She is like a vine that, growing, spreads everywhere; they are like useless shoots, cut back by the owner of the vineyard because of their sterility, so that the vine may be pruned, not amputated. Where the shoots have been cut off, there they lie."[1109] And again: "The heretics, some here, others there, come into conflict with Catholic unity spread abroad everywhere. For whereas the Church they have left is to be found everywhere, they have not succeeded for their part in penetrating everywhere; and they cry out, according to the prophecy: Lo, here is Christ, or There is Christ."[1110] The road to be taken is shown us by the "decisions of the universal Church", "the unanimous authority of the universal Church", the "authority of the whole world [universi orbis auctoritas]", the "consent of the universal Church."[1111] St. Vincent of Lerins, in his turn, reminds us that we have to hold to what is believed everywhere and by all, quod ubique, quod ab omnibus: "We shall follow the universality if we confess as alone true the faith confessed by the whole Church throughout the world."[1112]

Now this was certainly not because it was thought that numbers alone could decide the question of truth, especially of such a truth. But everyone knew that Christ had sent the Eleven to "all nations" (Matt. xxviii. 19), that they were to be His witnesses "in Jerusalem, and in all Judaea and Samaria, and even to the uttermost parts of the earth" (Acts i. 8), that Paul had received "apostleship for obedience to the faith in all nations" (Rom. i. 5), and that the seven Churches to whom St. John wrote symbolise the universal Church.[1113] They knew also that while the true Church was set up by God for all peoples, the other Churches, in the measure in which they depart from her, are set up by men to answer the divergent aspirations of places, times and cultures; so that the divine Church will normally be able to show, on the whole and over all the centuries, more Christians than any of the dissident Churches. They believed nevertheless that it was not altogether impossible for the dissidents at a given moment to be more numerous than the faithful. St. Augustine recalls that at the Council of Rimini "the faith of many was deceived by the guile of a few", although "the liberty of the Catholic faith" prevailed a short while after;[1114] and speaking of the same Council St. Vincent of Lerins opposed the attitude of "almost all the world" infected by the poison of Arianism, to that "of the true disciples and true adorers of Christ" who preferred the old faith to faithless innovations.[1115]

What are we to conclude? Geographical and numerical universality, the quod ubique, quod ab omnibus, will often be a fully sufficient criterion to mark the true Church and distinguish her from schism. Fourteen centuries after St. Vincent of Lerins, Newman was to recount in unforgettable pages of the Apologia Pro Vita Sua how deeply his soul was disturbed when, in the situation in which the Donatists of Africa and the Monophysites of the East once stood in relation to the great Church, he recognized the very situation of the Church of England of his day.[1116] However, because the true Church is mysterious in her essence and in the mode of her diffusion, it may happen in other circumstances—likely to become more and more common nowadays when errors, like truths, make the circuit of the world in a moment and insinuate themselves everywhere—that the criterion of universality will remain ambiguous and will need to be supplemented by another; that, for instance, of fidelity to the faith of our fathers.

Or rather this criterion may stand in need of more exact definition. For the universality which carries weight here is, as Vincent of Lerins says, that "of the true disciples, the true adorers, of Christ", or, to use the Gospel image, of the true sheep of Christ. Will they be recognizable by some sign distinguishing the true faithful from the false? Undoubtedly they will, granted that Christ confided His sheep to Peter, that He set Peter over His Church, and commanded him to confirm his brethren in the faith. The true faithful will be found amongst the faithful gathered round Peter; the true universality will be that of which Peter is the centre; where Peter is, there will be the Church.[1117] The criterion of universality will then attain that strictness which the progress of our time makes desirable. And thus the argument from universality taken as a sign of apostolicity will receive its final touch from the Gospel prophecies concerning Peter; the quod ubique, quod ab omnibus is given its last precision by the quod ab Ecclesia romana. In this way the via apostolicitatis leads into the via primatus. And we may see a sign of it in the fact that St. Augustine, who had so often appealed to the universality of the true faith against the heretics, was himself, after St. Ambrose's example, expressly to invoke the authority of Rome against the Pelagians: the resolutions of the Councils of Carthage and Milevis, he says, "have been sent on to the Apostolic See. Decisions have come from thence. The cause is ended. May it please God to end the error."[1118]

b. The existence of a rupture may be proved also by innovation, whereby divine things are made to pass for human or human for divine, according as it adds to or takes away from the revealed deposit. What has been divinely given to the world once and for all, ought to be kept without addition or subtraction. The supreme revelation, given by Christ and the Apostles, is not to be transformed. The definitive institutions coming from Christ are not to be replaced. Where we find antiquity there is the Church of Christ.

The Donatists maintained that the Church, in whose communion St. Cyprian had remained, was Catholic only because she too had members who held that Baptism conferred by heretics was null and void and that converts had to be re-baptized. "What then," replied St. Augustine, "did the Church not exist at all before Agrippinus, with whom this new custom began? Or again, after Agrippinus, when there had been a return to the primitive custom—without which Cyprian would not have called for another Council—was there then no Church? Did it cease to exist because the baptism of Christ was considered still to be the baptism of Christ even though conferred among heretics and schismatics? But if the Church existed even then, and has not perished through any breach of continuity but on the contrary has held its ground and increased among the nations, surely it is safest to abide by this same custom which gathered up good and bad alike into unity. But if there was then no Church in existence because sacrilegious heretics were received without baptism and this was the general custom, whence has Donatus made his appearance? From what land did he spring? From what sea did he emerge? From what sky did he fall? And so we, as I had begun to say, are safe in the communion of that Church wherein that custom now universally prevails as it similarly prevailed before the time of Agrippinus, and in the interval between Agrippinus and Cyprian."[1119]

St. Vincent of Lerins likewise appeals to what has always been believed, quod semper: "We follow antiquity" he adds, "if we depart in no point from the sentiments manifestly shared by our holy forbears and fathers";[1120] and he specially praises those who, at the Council of Rimini, "preferred the ancient faith to faithless innovations, and so kept clear of the contagion of the plague."[1121]

But how are we to understand the quod semper? Does it mean that along with the divine substance of Christianity we must immutably preserve the accidental forms under which it first appeared, and that out of respect for the past we should sacrifice the future? Or does it mean that—provided eternal truths are held inviolate and the divine substance of Christianity preserved—the future can freely succeed the past? Again does it mean that, by the will of the Holy Spirit, the primitive Church received the deposit revealed by Christ and the Apostles, as a doctrine completely unfolded from the first and incapable of any subsequent development; or does it mean that, by the will of the Spirit, the primitive Church received the deposit as a source of endless fecundity, destined gradually to bring forth its consequences in the course of ages, as suggested in the Gospel: "Therefore every scribe instructed in the kingdom of heaven is like to a man that is a householder, who bringeth forth out of his treasure new things and old" (Matt. xiii. 52)? Must it not be said with Newman, as by Soloviev,[1122] that the idea of development is the only one that enables us to seize the whole logical sequence of Christian thought?[1123] To these questions the ancients had their reply. St. Augustine assures us that "while the hot restlessness of heretics stirs up questions about many articles of the Catholic faith, the necessity of defending them forces us both to investigate them more accurately, to understand them more clearly and to proclaim them more earnestly; and the question mooted by an adversary becomes the occasion for instruction."[1124] He explains that "even general Councils are often bettered by those that follow them, when actual events bring things to light which before were concealed and things become known which previously lay hid."[1125] St. Vincent of Lerins has the same doctrine. Immediately after recalling St. Paul's anxious words to Timothy, that is to say to the universal Church—"O Timothy, keep the deposit, avoiding profane novelties" he goes on, in a famous chapter of the Commonitorium: "But we are asked perhaps: Is then religion in the Church of Christ incapable of progress?—But surely there must be progress and that not a little! Who would be so much man's enemy and God's as to try to prevent it? We must make this reservation however, that the progress shall be a genuine progress and not an alteration of the faith [profectus non permutatio]. We have progress when a thing grows and yet remains itself: we have alteration when a thing becomes something else. Therefore let intelligence, knowledge, wisdom grow and make great progress, both those of individuals and those of the collectivity, those of a single man and those of the whole Church, down the ages, down the centuries—but on condition that this be exactly in accordance with their particular nature, that is to say continuing in the same dogma, the same meaning, the same thought."[1126]

The rule of antiquity excludes alteration, but not progress. And often, no doubt, it is easy to recognize alteration, innovation, transformation. But on other occasions, which the passage of time, it seems, will bring about more frequently, doubts may very well arise. Then the rule of antiquity will need to be supplemented by that of universality; and, in point of fact, the two rules are used together by St. Augustine and St. Vincent of Lerins.[1127]

Or it may well be that the rule of antiquity needs to be given greater precision. It is not the preservation of any deposit whatsoever, or any continuity simply in itself, that suffices for proof of the truth, but the preservation of the divine deposit, the uninterrupted transmission of the powers entrusted to the Apostles, the permanence of the true doctrine. What does that mean? The continuity that is a mark of the truth will be that of the Church against which the gates of hell do not prevail and of the Churches in communion with her. The argument from antiquity taken as a mark of apostolicity thus becomes fully rigorous; but it is by resorting to the prophecies concerning Peter—the quod semper is made precise by the quod ab Ecclesia romana. Once more the via apostolicitatis leads into the via primatus. Thus, having to give an example of the proof by antiquity, St. Vincent of Lerins takes it "preferably from the Apostolic See, so that all may see as clearly as day with what vigour, what zeal, what efforts the blessed successors of the blessed Apostles have defended the integrity of the traditional religion", and he repeats the famous words of Pope Stephen against those who proposed to re-baptize the heretics: "Let them innovate in nothing, but keep the traditions."[1128] Before him, St. Ambrose said of the Novatians: "They have not the heritage of Peter who have not the seat of Peter, rent by their impious division.[1129]

To sum up, the two signs which serve to reveal a breach with the Christian religion, to wit, dissidence and innovation, gradually become explicit and precise in a single sign, more immediately apprehensible—separation from the Roman Church. The clearest and strictest criterion of genuine apostolicity is communion with Peter. But even before bringing the argument from apostolicity to this last degree of definitiveness, even before giving their final precision to the notions of universality and antiquity it brings into play, it could be successfully employed to recognize the Church founded by Christ and the Apostles. The Fathers early made use of it; and in the last century it was several years before admitting the Roman primacy that Newman remarked that the Anglican Church, lacking universality, had all the appearance of a sect.

From this viewpoint, I find myself in accord with both P. de la Briere, who would define the notes of the Church without any reference to Rome, with a view to bringing believers from without to the Roman Church;[1130] and P. de Guibert, who considers that "romanity" alone gives the other notes their full force.[1131]

C. Witnesses Appealing To Continuity Of Doctrine Or Of The Hierarchy

It is of interest to study the use made by the first apologists of the proof by apostolicity. They regarded it as indicating at the same time where both the divine doctrine and the divine hierarchy are to be found. They fused together, in a way, the question of the continuity of doctrine (apostolicitas doctrinae) and that of the continuity of the hierarchy (apostolicitas hierarchiae). And it is true that these two questions, though mentally distinguishable, are closely bound up with each other in reality. Let us consider some texts, the first dwelling rather on continuity of doctrine and the rest on that of the hierarchy.

a. If there is a truth not invented by men but brought into the world by Christ and His Apostles, nothing but a faithful transmission could have brought it down to us. Wherever there is innovation, wherever the religious experience of some new prophet alters the doctrine hitherto received by all Christians, or where in the name of Scripture itself it is sought to give Scripture a wholly different meaning, then you substitute, for the doctrine revealed once and for all by Christ and His Apostles, a doctrine newly invented by men. We see why continuity is a mark of truth. It is the rule that was followed from the beginning. "I did not go to those who brought in strange precepts," said Papias towards 130, "but to those who kept to the precepts given by the Lord and coming from the Truth itself.... I did not believe that what comes out of books can profit us so much as that which comes from a living and abiding voice."[1132] At the end of the second century we have the same testimony from Clement of Alexandria: "Like a man turned into a brute—as were the victims of Circe—he who repudiates the ecclesiastical tradition and embraces human heresies, ceases to be a man of God and becomes unfaithful to the Lord."[1133] To the many heresies of his period, though he did not refuse to examine them eventually in detail, Tertullian began by opposing what he calls "prescription", that is to say a refusal of further argument because the authentic rule for the recognition of Christ's truth transmitted to us had been abandoned. "If Jesus Christ, our God," he says, in the De Praescriptione Haereticorum, "has sent the Apostles to preach, no other preachers are to be heard save those He has sent: for no man knoweth the Father save the Son and He to whom the Son will reveal him, and it does not appear that the Son revealed Him to any but to those Apostles whom He sent to preach—and to preach of course, what had been revealed to them. But what did they preach, and what things had He revealed to them? To know this we must have recourse to prescription and turn to the Churches which the Apostles themselves founded, the Churches they taught first viva voce, as they say, and later by their letters. It is therefore clear that all doctrine in accord with that of the Apostolic Churches, these matrices and original sources of our faith, is to be regarded as true and as containing what those Churches received from the Apostles, the Apostles from Christ, and Christ from God.... And it remains for us to show that the doctrine we have resumed above comes of the Apostolic tradition, so that the other doctrines, by that very fact, come from lying tongues. We communicate with the Apostolic Churches, our doctrine is none other than theirs, and that is the mark of the truth."[1134] Tertullian, as we perceive, holds that the mark of the apostolic doctrine is that it is believed by the totality of the Apostolic Churches. Still more precisely, it must have been always believed: "The order of time shows that that is divine and true which has been handed down from the beginning; that that is alien and false which has been added later. That is the prescription which disposes of all the heresies started in later days—they can make no assured claim to the truth."[1135]

b. The apostolic doctrine is the doctrine taught by the Apostolic Churches, that is to say by the Churches linked with the Apostles who were their immediate or mediate founders by way of an unbroken succession. The Apostles received certain hierarchical powers from Christ the Incarnate Word to be handed down from generation to generation, notably the power to preserve the revealed doctrine and preach it unaltered to the world. It is clear, then, that wherever the apostolic succession is, there is the apostolic doctrine. But in the early centuries it was easier to produce conviction by bringing out the historical continuity of the hierarchy than by showing the organic continuity of the doctrine. That is why the first apologists set out to prove the second point by means of the first. "If it is a question of doctrines that claim to go back to the Apostles," wrote Tertullian, "and to have come down from them because they have existed ever since, we shall say: Let them show the origin of their Churches, let them show the succession of their bishops, and how their first bishop was installed and preceded by one of the Apostles or by one of those apostolic men who persevered in the communion of the Apostles. For thus it is that the Apostolic Churches present their records: as the Church of Smyrna shows us Polycarp placed therein by John; and the Church of Rome can point to Clement, ordained in like manner by Peter."[1136] And again: "Run over the Apostolic Churches where the very Chairs of the Apostles, remaining still, continue to preside; where their own authentic letters, being read, allow us to hear their voices and observe the ways of each. If you are nigh to Achaia, you have Corinth. If you are not far from Macedonia, you have Philippi. If you reach Asia, you have Ephesus. Touch on Italy, and you have Rome; to whose authority we too have recourse. Happy Church, on whom the Apostles have poured out all their doctrine along with their blood, where Peter endured a passion like his Lord's, where Paul was crowned with a death like that of John the Baptist; where the Apostle John, having arisen unscathed from the boiling oil, was condemned to exile in an island! Let us see what she has learned, what she has taught, what she certifies along with the Churches of Africa."[1137]

A little earlier, to the Gnostics who made their own the Pauline text: "We speak wisdom among the perfect" (1 Cor. ii. 6) and claimed that the Apostles, besides the common doctrine set out in Scripture, taught an esoteric wisdom to the perfect ones, St. Irenaeus (d. 202) replied that the Apostles would have taken care to hand on all this wisdom to those above all whom they placed at the head of the Churches and who were to become their successors. What then is the tradition of the Apostles? For those who are ready to receive the truth it is easy to come by. It is to be found throughout the world, and can be recognized in each of the Churches. And neither the bishops instituted by the Apostles nor their successors up till now have ever known anything resembling the aberrations of the Gnostics; one could enumerate them. "But since it would take too long to set out here the successions of all the Churches, we shall turn to that great, ancient and universally known Church founded and organized at Rome by the two most glorious Apostles Peter and Paul, and we shall show that the tradition it has received of the Apostles and the faith that it preaches to men has come down to our time through the regular succession of its bishops; and thus we shall confute all those who, in whatever way, whether by self-complacency, vainglory, blindness or error, enter into unauthorized assemblies. For it is with this Roman Church, by reason of its more powerful pre-eminence, that every other Church, that is to say all the faithful everywhere, ought to agree, inasmuch as the apostolic tradition has been preserved by these faithful."[1138] Having then set out the names of twelve Bishops of Rome through whom, as he puts it, "the apostolic tradition in the Church and the preaching of the truth have come down to us", Irenaeus passes to the Church at Smyrna, whose aged bishop, Polycarp, installed by the Apostles themselves, he had known in his youth, then to the Church at Ephesus founded by Paul, and where John resided. "After such proofs there is no need to seek of others the truth it is so easy to obtain from the Church; since the Apostles, like a rich man depositing his money in a bank, have deposited in her the fullness of all truth, so that who wills may drink of the waters of life."[1139]

Why then bring forward several Churches? Are not all the Churches founded by the Apostles assured of infallibility? No. Even if a Church be apostolic it can collapse like the Church of Jerusalem. It can be perverted; the Church of Ephesus was founded by St. Paul, and was threatened by God: "But I have somewhat against thee because thou hast left thy first charity. Be mindful therefore from whence thou art fallen: and do penance, and do the first works. Or else I come to thee, and will move thy candlestick out of its place, except thou do penance" (Apoc. ii. 4-5). For it was not to each particular Church, but to the universal Church that the divine promises were made. The proof from antiquity needs to be completed by that from universality. This was recognized from the beginning. And from the beginning also, to discover where universality was to be found, with a sure instinct—the texts of Irenaeus and Tertullian just cited are a sign of it—men turned to Rome, to the Church of the Apostles Peter and Paul.

D. Whether The Proof Of The Apostolic Succession Concerns The Power Of Order Only, Or Jurisdiction As Well?

Schism and heresy were soon to be temporarily installed in the Churches of Antioch, Constantinople, and Alexandria, in Africa and so on. Then came the great schism between East and West. It then became apparent that the divine hierarchy could be torn in two in certain regions. It remained whole and undivided no doubt in the true Church. But in the Church that fell away into schism only a portion of it survived. There the jurisdictional or pastoral power was interrupted; but the power of order, nevertheless, could be validly perpetuated.

Thus the proof from the apostolic succession could have two distinct applications; one when these words "apostolic succession" are given a new and more restricted sense, and one when they are taken in the more comprehensive sense we know already.

a. In the first case the argument from apostolicity will indicate, with an exactitude that might be called material, the presence or absence of the power of order and of the Christian cultus in a Church. Wherever its transmission has been unbroken, there the power of order continues to exist and the cultus is validly celebrated. Apostolicity, to that extent, is safeguarded. But it is a partial and mutilated apostolicity,[1140] since apostolicity of jurisdiction is missing.[1141] Moreover this partial apostolicity is constantly threatened, for belief in the sacraments and in the Eucharist, being no longer protected against new attacks by the infallible magisterium of the Sovereign Pontiff, is liable to weaken and to drag down the power of order in its own ruin.[1142] Wherever, on the contrary, there has been a break in transmission, we must conclude to the absence of the power of order, to the invalidity of the eucharistic sacrifice and of the sacraments, save Baptism and Matrimony. An interruption of this nature is still relatively easy to verify. Thus, Anglican Orders have been declared to be invalid because the sacerdotal consecration, and therefore also the episcopal, having been defective during a period of a hundred years, the amendment inserted later in the Ordinal remained without effect; the breach of continuity was here irremediable.[1143]

b. In the second case, keeping all its extension, the proof from apostolic succession will indicate where we may find today the plenitude of the hierarchy and the true Church. We have to go back through the course of history, seeking to follow step by step, not simply some particular Church or group of particular Churches, but the one Church that has always been orthodox, the one Church against whom the gates of hell shall not prevail, the one Church assisted to teach all nations and to endure till the end of the world—the one universal visible Church. How shall we recognize her?

Sometimes she will be plain for all to see. But when great storms rage and schism rends the faithful, where shall we look for her? Is there any certain sign by which we may know her? Has divine revelation said nothing on the point? We know that the word "universal" is to be taken in a qualitative sense, that it designates the true sheep of Christ scattered throughout all the world. Sitting on the right hand of God, Christ directs them from heaven. But who is to feed them on this earth, to govern them in His name, and bring them together into one sole Church? It was to Peter that the promises were made. Open the Acts of the Apostles, written to show that the Holy Spirit is Himself the Principle of the whole Church, and what do we find on the opening pages? A new and startling fact: Peter's authority over the Church. The Apostles were dispersed. Peter left Jerusalem. Soon after we see the first Christian Churches, still docile under the mighty impulse they have received, begin to turn their eyes to the Church founded at Rome by the Apostles Peter and Paul. In her lies the power to rule the universal Church. That power, as time goes on, will have to put forth its virtualities. The meaning of Christ's words to Peter will become ever clearer. The universal Church, the apostolic Church, will appear ever more and more explicitly as the Church of Peter.

E. Modernism And The Argument From Prescription

The argument from prescription arises from the innermost nature of Christianity. Heresy has not usually dared to reject it in principle, but rather to contest its applications in detail. Today, Modernism attempts to get rid of it once and for all; but it has to sacrifice the substance of the Christian religion in doing so.

It is not to be believed, say the Modernists, that God has revealed through Christ and the Apostles any definitive truth to be received by the intelligence and preserved intact for ever. All that God did—in so far as it is possible to speak about God at all—was to move the soul of Christ and the souls of the Apostles, and these then attempted to translate their experience into more or less happy conceptual formulas, not in the least to be taken for a "divine law" or as binding on later generations. A genuine apostolicity therefore does not consist in the handing down of an unaltered doctrine; it consists in a re-living by each one of us of that experience of divine things which Christ and the Apostles lived so admirably, and in translating it perhaps for ourselves into a new conceptual synthesis, better adapted to a changing world. The marks of apostolicity will therefore rather be innovation than tradition, doctrinal fluidity rather than the immobility of a credo. And why indeed should we be so bent on clinging to a past which possessed neither our wealth of experience nor our sense of history? Must we not say here too: "The real ancients are ourselves"? And the apostolicity of the hierarchy is to be understood like apostolicity of doctrine. It is not to be sought in any uninterrupted transmission of supernatural powers. It consists in Christian zeal, going about to form, as need dictates, the exterior organizations demanded by changing times.

This conception was put forward at the Protestant congresses of Stockholm and Lausanne. It obviously makes a clean sweep of the argument from prescription, but it upsets the whole Christian edifice at the same time. What it calls Christianity is something essentially different from what was called by that name in the past. It is therefore decisively disavowed by history.

Nor is it in conformity with Scripture, with the original idea of the Christian revelation. The charity that appeared in Christ and in the Apostles is the model for all future charity among Christians, and these are bound to open their hearts to the divine graces with which Christ and the Apostles were filled: "Be ye followers of me as I also am of Christ," St. Paul was to say (1 Cor. iv. 16; xi. I). But Christ, being God, and the Apostles, standing at the sources of the Church, enjoyed privileged graces not to be shared by future Christians. The Word of God was sent on the day of the Annunciation, to be united to the human nature of Christ; and the Holy Spirit was sent, on the day of Pentecost, to give the Apostles the fullness of light. The term of the first mission was Christ, who is the Head; that of the second was the Church, which is His Body. It was then that the religion of the Incarnation was founded and the final revelation given to the world. It is vain, according to Scripture, to expect from the spirit of prophecy any other religion than the one then founded, any other revelation than the one then given. Until the end of the world the Saviour will assist His own that they may teach all nations all things He has commanded them. St. Paul himself was to hand down what he had received, and forbade any expectation of salvation from any new outpouring of the spirit of prophecy: "Though we, or an angel from heaven, preach a Gospel to you besides that which we have preached to you, let him be anathema" (Gal. i. 8); "O Timothy, keep that which is committed to thy trust" (1 Tim. vi. 20); "Keep the good thing committed to thy trust" (2 Tim. i. 14).

3. Apostolicity As Pure Sign: The Miracle Of The Perpetuity Of The Church

Even in the eyes of those who do not yet know its divine foundation by Christ and the Apostles, the true religion offers a sign that time can only bring into stronger relief, a sign attesting that a divine and mysterious virtue sustains it in the world: its miraculous perpetuity.

"The Church," says St. Thomas, in his exposition of the Apostles' Creed, "has four marks; she is one, she is holy, she is catholic or universal, she is strong and stable [fortis et firma]. "Her solidity, which comes of the foundations on which she is built, namely Christ and the Apostles, appears outwardly in the fact that neither persecutions, errors, nor the assaults of the devils have been able to overturn her. The Vatican Council consecrated this doctrine when it recalled that the Church, by reason of her sanctity, her catholic unity, and her triumphant perpetuity, invictam stabilitatem, is herself a great and standing motive of credibility and an irrefragable witness of her own divine mission.[1144]

I translate stabilitas by persistence or perpetuity rather than by stability; which latter might seem to add the note of immobility to that of permanence. For the Church is living. Her hierarchy, while remaining in substance the same, will, according the needs of the time, show a greater or lesser centralisation, a greater or lesser complexity, and so on. The sacrificial and sacramental cultus, whose substance is permanent, may be embodied in different liturgies. Doctrine itself may develop and we may speak of the evolution (homogeneous) of Catholic dogma. St. Vincent of Lerins himself, at the beginning of his Commonitorium, formulates the famous rule that "in the Catholic Church we must hold to what has been believed everywhere, always, and by all"; but he knows that in the Church of Christ religion must make progress, provided only that progress is distinguished from alteration, "the mark of progress being that a thing grows while still remaining itself, and that of alteration being that it becomes something else"; and he adds the example of a man who, passing from infancy to adolescence, remains the same person. Lastly, the ecclesiastical communion, while faithfully retaining its essential type, will undergo numerous accidental variations according to times, peoples and cultures. To indicate at once both permanence and progress one must therefore speak of the persistence of the Church.

Let us run over rapidly the persistence of the hierarchy, and then that of doctrine and communion.

A. Persistence Of The Hierarchy

The Church first appears as a hierarchically organized body, composed of Pope and bishops who, in the exercise of an unexampled mission, have governed for twenty centuries, in an unbroken succession, an ever-growing society, surviving all cultural revolutions such as those that provoked its penetration into the Roman Empire, the barbarian invasions, the discovery of new continents, the advent of the modern world. In his History of Pope Innocent III, written when he was still a Protestant pastor at Schaffhausen, Friedrich Hurter brings out, from the standpoint of pure history, and not, as he tells us, from any dogmatic or polemical point of view, the remarkable persistence of the Papacy. "When we cast our eyes backwards and forwards over the course of history, when we note how the institution of the Papacy has survived all the other institutions of Europe, how it has seen the birth and death of all the states, how, in the ceaseless metamorphoses of human things, it stands alone in showing always the same spirit, ought we to be astonished if so many regard it as the rock whose head rises unmoved above all the surging waves of the ages?"[1145] In every age however there have been great men, the "prophets of this world", who have predicted the end of the hierarchy, the end of the Papacy, the end of the Church. It was never the end of the Church; it was only the end of a world, the end, it may be, of a Christendom.

It must be admitted that persistence of this kind is beyond the power of human prudence to produce. To make that clear we should have to follow in close detail the comparison that Pascal, for example, sets up between human societies and the Church. "States would perish if their laws did not often yield to necessity. But religion has never suffered thus, and it has never made use of it. But either it must have such compromises or, in compensation, miracles. It is not strange that states preserve themselves by yielding, and this is not, properly speaking, maintaining themselves; and still they perish at last: there is not one of them that has endured for a thousand years. But that this religion should be always maintained, and that inflexibly—this is something divine." Either compromises or miracles. Frommel does not hesitate. "The political ideal which rules a given period decides under what form religious unity shall be realized. From this general principle we infer that the Churches of the future will manifest Christian Catholicity in conformity with the political ideal of their time."[1146] There speaks the wisdom of this world. But the persistence of the apostolic body, which will go on till the end of the world, already represents, in our own day, a sufficient challenge to the laws of time to make its miraculous character perceptible.

B. Persistence Of The Teaching

The apostolic regime has effects which perhaps are even more admirable. The first is the persistence of a teaching, both speculative and practical, whose principles were formulated once and for all at the beginning of Christianity, and which is still capable, without ever going back on itself, of bringing high, comprehensive, and practically applicable answers to the burning problems that life puts before us today.

The persistence of such a doctrine, and its adoption by men of all times and conditions, is not to be explained by some spontaneous tendency of human nature—as for example we might explain idolatry, whether in such particularized forms as animism, fetishism and so forth, or generalized as in the several varieties of pantheism. The minor effect of this teaching is to bring out fully into the light all the highest rational truths which mankind had allowed to be obscured—God, at once sovereignly distinct from, and marvellously present to, the world, man serving society as individual but above society in virtue of his immortal soul, etc. Its major effect is to propose mysterious doctrines, which absolutely surpass the scope of human intelligence, yet not only do not contradict reason, but remain in the line of its speculative velleities. For belief in the mysteries of the Trinity, of the Incarnation, of grace, of the sacraments, of the beatific vision, even of sin and damnation, appears on examination as a belief not against reason, but above reason, yet in accord with reason too; that is to say, as something which, while respecting reason's essential and constitutive laws, rises higher than reason is able to do, and does not destroy reason but exalts and completes it; as appears in speculative theology in what are called reasons of congruity or of fitness. This doctrine persists and preserves its identity, not as a dead thing does, but as a truth that is living and definitive; it ceaselessly develops the riches it contains and brings them out into the light of day. The spectacle of this doctrinal continuity is absolutely unexampled in the world. It can be fully recognized only by men enlightened by faith, for it spells a "hidden wisdom" touching things that the eye of man has not seen, nor his ear heard, nor his heart divined, and bears on an object so high that it infinitely surpasses either the powers or the exigencies of any created intellect; and yet it already dazzles minds which, even without the light of faith, are able to appreciate this miracle of a doctrine, rich but coherent, living but stable and for ever the same, soaring and sober, "foolish and wise".[1147] It is a truth ever old and ever new which, whether it is rediscovering the catacombs or returning after an absence of ten centuries to African soil, finds in either place ocular evidence of its own miraculous persistence. Opening the first Council of rearisen Christian Africa, Cardinal Lavigerie could say: "All has passed away on our African soil, all the generations, all the empires. The Church, exiled from these shores, has been involved all over the world in cultural movements, in revolutions, migrations, and all the diverse ideas of different peoples. Today she returns to dwell among us in peace, and turning up the deep soil of the centuries she finds in the monuments she left there the shining proof of her faithful guardianship of the truths entrusted to her keeping."[1148]

C. Persistence Of The Social Communion

The second effect of the apostolic regime is the persistence of the communion, that is to say the continuity of a social bond holding together in spiritual fellowship so many millions whom weaknesses within and assaults from without are forever tending to drive apart. Within, are the abiding internal sources of schism and heresy—pretexts, futile and specious; errors, unconscious and willful; passions, personal and national; slights, pretended or real. From without comes the violence of persecution, or the seduction of the spirit of this world. In spite of it all the Church retains the original form of her unity, the organic form. She has not denied it for the idea of a Church whose permanence would be invisible, nor has she exchanged it for the federative form of unity proposed by the dissident Churches today.

Pascal remarked more than once on the astonishing character of this permanence. "We have seen so many schisms and heresies spring up, so many States overturned, so many changes in all things; and this Church, which adores Him who has always been adored, has subsisted without interruption. And what is wonderful, incomparable, and altogether divine, is that this religion which has always endured has always been opposed. A thousand times it has been on the eve of total destruction, and each time it has been in this condition, God has raised it up by some extraordinary stroke of His power. It is astonishing that it has maintained itself without yielding or submitting to the will of tyrants." He adds: "Let people say what they will, it must be confessed that the Christian religion has something astonishing about it. It is because you were born in it, it will be said. So far from that, I rather gird myself against it for this very reason, lest this prejudice suborn me. But, although I have been born in it, I do not fail to find it so."

I do not propose to develop, but simply to sketch, the argument from the persistence of the Church. A complete exposition would belong rather to apologetics than to the treatise on the Church. It could be technically complete only if the general laws of the development of civil societies on the one hand, and of pre-Christian and post-Christian religious societies on the other, were more fully explored and compared. Thus we might observe in detail the transcendence of the Church of Christ.

For this purpose we should have to take up again on a wider basis the comparative studies in natural and supernatural sociology which Pere Schwalm began, doubtless with too much confidence in the theses of the "School of Social Science", but of which he saw the need and divined the fruit.[1149]

But however desirable and however profitable they may be, no technical studies are really necessary to convince men unshakably of the transcendence of the Church—not only men who believe her to be the Church of the Word Incarnate; Hurter, Newman and Soloviev were not yet Catholics when they saw the miracle of the permanence of the Papacy. The fact is there for any historian whose mind is not closed to spiritual realities, whose judgment in ecclesiastical history is not biased—for example by the Protestant thesis of the invisibility of the divine Church—and who is ready to investigate the hidden reason for the mutability of human societies and the unvarying persistence of the Church. Then perhaps he will look with new eyes on the judgment of Gamaliel on the new-born Church: "If this counsel or this work be of men, it will come to nought. But if it be of God, you cannot overthrow it: lest perhaps you be found even to fight against God" (Acts v. 38-9).



Here we touch on the third way of discerning the true Church. It consists essentially, I believe, in a comparison of the image of a Church presented as divine and definitive by the New Testament, and of the Church which after twenty centuries claims to represent her.

This comparison must naturally bear on the deeper characteristics, the vital realities, for the Church, like all living things, only remains what she is by developing. The more we penetrate into the mystery of the New Testament, and into a knowledge of the intimate structure of the Church, the more surprising does the likeness appear, the more clearly we see it as the fulfilment of a prophecy.

Doubtless the dissident Churches, the Eastern Churches especially, may show a certain structural conformity with the Church of the New Testament. But, as I have tried to show, this likeness, besides remaining incomplete, simply bears witness to those elements of the true Church which they have retained.

1. The New Testament's Prediction Of A Hierarchy Concerned At Once With Teaching And Worship

A new miracle is added to those we have noted. The apostolicity of the Church was prophesied in the New Testament. Even if we content ourselves with the most external and obvious meaning of these writings, we shall be struck by the correspondence between the organization they set forth and that observable in the Church of today. If we seek out the deep mystery of this Church as presented in Scripture, the force of the prophecy is all the greater. Gather up the great affirmations of the New Testament on the point that occupies us—namely the way in which the visible Church of Jesus is caused and perpetuated in the world—and what do we find? A hierarchy endowed with a sacerdotal power to perpetuate Christ's sacrifice until He shall come again, donec veniat, and to dispense the sacraments; and with a pastoral power to teach and govern the faithful until the end of history, usque ad consummationem saeculi.

a. At the source of the new religion we perceive the presence of an ineffable act of love enveloping the whole of mankind and externally expressed in a visible sacrifice. To the religion of the Old Law succeeded not a religion without a sacrificial rite, but a religion whose sacrificial rite is of such perfection that it supersedes all the sacrifices of the past. This rite is offered by a Man who is not only priest according to the order of Aaron, but One who, in virtue of a real and physical union with the Godhead, is really and physically consecrated priest according to a new and unheard-of order. One sole and single sacrifice goes up to heaven, and brings eternal redemption to the world. To deny this amounts to rejecting the Epistle to the Hebrews.

As soon as this bloody sacrifice begins to be enacted its whole substantial reality is made mysteriously present in the Cenacle by Christ beneath the appearances of a bloodless rite. The Apostles are commanded to offer, not a new sacrifice, not even, to speak formally, to renew a sacrifice which in its single act is decisive, but to repeat for all time till Christ shall come again a bloodless rite which will bear the substantial reality of the bloody sacrifice to every generation. Henceforward Christ, re-ascended into heaven, was to use the Apostles and their successors as visible instruments for the renewal of the bloodless rite offered by Him alone at the Last Supper, and containing all the reality of the bloody sacrifice. In this appears His power and their power, the sense in which He is Priest and they are priests. His power is absolute; their power is relative, instrumental, ministerial. He alone is the true Priest, they are the instruments of the true Priest. If a man denies the relation of the bloody sacrifice to the bloodless sacrifice, of the absolute priesthood to the instrumental priesthood of those by whom it is continued, he must reject the most direct interpretation, which is also the traditional interpretation, of the passages of the Gospel and of St. Paul on the institution and perpetuation of the eucharistic sacrifice.

Jesus, consecrated as Priest, had obviously the power to bring the purifying redemption into each soul by a word, a gesture. But, ascended into heaven, He chose to reach individual souls through certain instruments called sacraments, and on those who are the ordinary or even exclusive ministers of these He bestowed a share of His sacerdotal power; that is to say, besides the power of consecrating the Eucharist, that of remitting sins, of confirming, of ordaining. If a man denies that, once more he must reject the most direct interpretation, which is also the traditional interpretation, of the texts of the Gospel on the power of binding and loosing, of remitting or retaining sins, and of the texts of the Acts and of St. Paul on the power of imposing hands on those to be confirmed or ordained.

From these texts, of which I merely remind readers here, it results that the true Church of Christ is to be born of a hierarchy marked in the image of Christ with a sacral[1150] character, handed down from generation to generation, thanks to which His sacrifice and sacraments are to be perpetuated for all time.

b. At the source of the new religion we shall see also a public revelation, made by Christ and the Apostles, perfecting that announced of old by the prophets. The successors of the Apostles are to be assisted by Christ in authoritatively proposing this revelation to all nations till the end of time. The power of Christ, the Gospels add, is to come to them through one of their number who is to be the supreme pastor of Christ's sheep, who is to confirm them in the faith, and who is to be the visible foundation through which the whole Church is to rest ultimately on Christ. It follows that the true Church of Christ is to be born of a hierarchy possessing, besides the sacral power of order, a jurisdictional or pastoral power, and proposing to the world with authority and without error the teaching revealed by Christ and the Apostles.

2. The General Fulfilment Of This Prophecy In The Church

Thus, then, a visible hierarchy, of unbroken line, at once sacral and pastoral (magisterial) in character, a hierarchy which thanks to its sacral or sacramental power acts instrumentally in dispensing to men the redemption of Christ the Priest, and thanks to its pastoral power authentically dispenses the message, speculative and practical, of Christ the Teacher, Christ the King, a hierarchy wholly ordained to form and maintain in the world the Body of Christ, the Church—that is the apostolicity prophesied in the New Testament.

Where has the prophecy been fully understood and fully realized?

First, and in general, in the Church which from the start has given herself out, not for a religion without intermediaries, but one dependent on a hierarchy which itself depends on Christ, who Himself depends on God; in other words in the Church in which the ultimate foundation (which is Christ) and the proximate foundation (which is the hierarchy) are regarded, not as opposed, but as ordered to each other.

Next, and more particularly, in the Church in which the bloody sacrifice, which is absolute and therefore unique, and the bloodless sacrifice, which is relative and designed to perpetuate the former in time, are not regarded as rivals; in which the Priesthood of Christ (which is principal) and the participated priesthood (which is altogether ministerial) are not regarded as mutually exclusive. And particularly, again, in that Church in which, as regards the pastoral authority, no opposition but rather the closest union is seen, first between the sovereign magisterium which brought the definitive revelation to the world at a stroke, and the subordinate magisterium which has to propose and dispense it to all ages; and then between the universal magisterium inherited from Peter, and the particular magisterium inherited from the other Apostles.

By bringing together and comparing the prophetic sketch of the true Church in the New Testament, and its living realization in a Church which has already lasted for twenty centuries, each is seen at once in a more vivid and revealing light. The scriptural prophecy is opened up for us in all the abundance and all the coherence of its content; and its living counterpart in the Church appears as the manifest outcome of a divine decree.

3. The Prophecy Concerning Peter

In the same way we can show in detail how the realization of each of the essential elements of the Church responds to a New Testament prophecy. Soloviev, for example, has thrown the most vivid light on the prophecy about Peter and his successors. He remarks that a visible Church, if called on to embrace all nations, to descend the stream of history and to struggle with the powers of evil, will need—unless it is to be split up, changed, or wiped out—a visible spiritual power at its centre; one which is unchangeable and always on the watch. He goes on: "Now we know on the one hand that Christ foresaw the necessity of such an ecclesiastical monarchy and therefore conferred on a single individual supreme and undivided authority over His Church; and on the other hand we see that of all the ecclesiastical powers in the Christian world there is only one which perpetually and unchangingly preserves its central and universal character and at the same time is specially connected by an ancient and widespread tradition with him to whom Christ said: Thou art Peter and upon this rock I will build my Church, and the gates of hell shall not prevail against it. Christ's words could not remain without their effect in Christian history; and the principal phenomenon in Christian history must have an adequate cause in the word of God. Where then have Christ's words to Peter produced a corresponding effect except in the Chair of Peter? Where does the Chair find an adequate cause except in the promise made to Peter?"[1151]

More than sixty years earlier, in 1827, Moehler, in his studies on Anselm of Canterbury, tells how the noble attitude of the primate, who took his stand upon Rome in order to vindicate the liberty of the English Church before a servile assembly of bishops and princes, had helped to show him the profound significance of Jesus' prophecy: "Tu es Petrus.... these words have an extraordinary power. The scholar at his desk may interpret them in a thousand ways. But, like this English assembly, one is silenced as soon as this is grasped in its historical truth. The science of grammar might deny me all hope of getting at its meaning, but history showed me its secret. Hundreds of cases like that of Anselm worked so strongly on my mind that all my doubts came to an end. What a spell have those words of the Saviour cast over eighteen centuries of the history of the Christian Church! I could not escape their power. Anselm never appealed to the pseudo-Isidorian decretals. It was Christ's word that determined the course of history, not the gossip of a charlatan. What this curiosity-monger had in view has vanished with the age that gave it birth, but the words of Christ remain for ever."

It is in fact almost impossible to speak adequately of the Church; one is always afraid of betraying her—not only when touching on her inner mystery, but also in setting out all that is most visible in her: her defeats, which still scandalize today as those that Christ suffered did in His day, and her victories, which are never those of the world and never conformable to the desires of our carnal hearts.

Miracle encircles her. It is the aureole of her deepest mystery, of the grace which is her life—not yet the mystery of a transfiguring grace, but that of a grace crucified. There is indeed only one grace, but it has two states. In the end, when its last effects are freely unfolded, it will transfigure all things, eliminating all our miseries and all our temptations. Now, its transfiguring effects are, as it were, suppressed, as they were in Our Lord Himself in the days of His mortal life; they appeared only in limited measure, initially, under the miraculous illumination that introduced Him to the world. Its immediate end is not to transfigure but first of all to sanctify, not to dissipate our miseries but by purifying them to turn them to account. That is why the Church on earth will always present the paradox of victory in defeat, of miracle in weakness.

There is indeed, it must be repeated, enough obscurity to furnish arms to those who have made up their minds in advance to quarrel with her; but also light enough to enlighten those who seek her in uprightness of heart, and to make them feel that the shadows themselves conceal some divine design. The trials and setbacks suffered by the Church are not intended to fill the hearts of Catholics with shame or defeatism, or to produce in them any "inferiority complex"; rather, to prompt them to enter into closer union with Him whose love has transformed death into victory. The glories of the Church, her splendour, her miracles, are not meant to inflate the hearts of Catholics with vainglory and presumption, with haughty collective assurance or with any "superiority complex", but to invite them to enter more deeply into her mystery, where divinization is fulfilled in humility and on the cross.

The true Church, if we look at her efficient and conserving cause, is the "Apostolic Church." That is her first name of plenitude. She has others.

If we look at her from the standpoint of her end, that is to say an ever greater perfection of union with God, then she is "Holy Church". If we consider her formal cause, the created bond that unites her, then she is the "One Church". If finally we consider her material cause, that is to say the universality of all that she is destined to gather together and to sanctify, then she is the "Catholic Church".

"We confess one Holy, Catholic and Apostolic Church". In this declaration of the creed of Nicaea, Constantinople made in A. D. 381, the Church is named by her four names of plenitude.

To run these four names into one we shall say that the true Church is the "Christian Church", the Church of the Word who became Incarnate that He might die on the cross. She lives, like Christ, a divine life in a body of flesh; through the mediation of Christ she is the immortal work of the God of love, immortale Dei miserentis opus; through conformity with Christ she tends to perfect union with God in the beatific vision.

From the highest standpoint of all, the true Church, the habitation of God in the midst of men, is called the Church of God, the ekklesia tou theou (1 Cor. x. 32).



(1) Newman's theological researches converged on the problem of the Church, more particularly on the problem of the apostolicity of the Church. From the Church of England, as he found it at Oxford, he received the doctrine of the visible Church. He took from Anglican theologians the idea of seizing on the rule of orthodoxy formulated by St. Vincent of Lerins in the first part of the fifth century, and constantly cited since by Catholic theologians, in order to turn it against the Roman Church herself. For the principle of the monk of Lerins, like many other principles, can be taken in many distinct and even irreconcilable senses.

(2) We all know St. Vincent's famous rule: "In the Catholic Church herself we must be careful to hold to what has been believed everywhere, always and by all [quod ubique, quod semper, quod ab omnibus creditum est]; for that alone is truly and properly Catholic, as the word itself indicates, which embraces the universality of things. This will be brought about if we follow universality, antiquity, general consent. We shall follow universality if we confess as the sole truth the faith confessed by the whole Church throughout the world; antiquity, if we depart in nothing from the views of our holy predecessors and of our fathers; and lastly general consent, if, within this antiquity itself, we adopt the definitions and doctrines of all, or at least the greater part, of the bishops and doctors."[1152]

What now is the Catholic interpretation of this canon?

First let us note two points: a. The three signs of orthodoxy given by St. Vincent can easily be reduced to two: doctrinal coherence in time (that is antiquity, the quod semper), and doctrinal coherence in space (that is universality, the quod ubique and the quod ab omnibus). b. For St. Vincent, as for us, it is for the hierarchy, for the apostolic body, to teach the world. If therefore doctrinal coherence is maintained in time and space that will be due to the assistance given by Christ to the true hierarchy, to the true apostolic body. The quod semper and the quod ubique are at once the effects and the signs of the divine and authentic apostolicity.

That presupposed, let us consider the exact meaning of the canon.

Catholic theologians remind us first that the quod semper, that is to say antiquity, is in no wise intended to condemn dogmatic progress. This was expressly affirmed by St. Vincent himself in the Commonitorium: "But we are asked perhaps: Is then religion in the Church of Christ incapable of progress? Why, surely, there must be progress, and that not a little! Who would be so much man's enemy and God's as to try to prevent it? But yet with this reservation—that the progress shall be real progress and not an alteration: since progress makes a thing grow while still remaining itself, whereas alteration turns it into something else."[1153] This means that true dogmatic progress in no wise consists in the addition of foreign matter from without, but in pure unfolding and genuine explicitation of the doctrine integrally revealed from the outset by Christ and the Apostles. The dogma of the Immaculate Conception, for example, which was not solemnly defined till 1854, was implicitly revealed from the outset and has always been implicitly believed by the Church, simply because it was really contained in another truth, explicitly revealed and believed from the beginning—namely that Mary was full of grace and was worthy to be Mother of God.[1154]

Catholic theologians remind us also that the quod ubique, the quod ab omnibus, that is to say universality, does not in any wise mean that orthodoxy is the prerogative of the numerical majority. Clearly, no majority, however great, is any sure criterion of truth: "Who does not know," writes Melchior Cano,[1155] "that numbers often outweigh quality, that what pleases the majority is not always the best?" Even a majority of the bishops—so think the best theologians—can go astray, can judge otherwise than the Sovereign Pontiff in matters of faith, and even persevere in their error. Thus Melchior Cano. So also Benedict XIV who cites him: "From the fact that the bishops assembled in General Council are true judges[of the faith] it must not be concluded that the Roman Pontiff is bound to decide in conformity with a majority of these judges, and to approve their doctrine. For, as Melchior Cano says, if all the bishops are true judges, yet the supreme judgment was committed by the Lord Christ to His Vicar on earth, who is charged with the duty of recalling all waverers, many or few, to the true faith: I have prayed for thee that thy faith fail not: and thou, being once converted, confirm—not first one and then another, but whether a minority or a majority—thy brethren."[1156] The four hundred prophets of Achab did not prevail against the single prophet Micheas; and the Arian Council of Rimini did not prevail against Vincent of Capua and the few bishops who remained faithful to the Bishop of Rome. That, too, St. Vincent of Lerins did not overlook: "So, when the venom of Arianism had infected, not a mere weak party, but almost the whole world, when all the Latin bishops were allowing themselves to be seduced, some by violence, others by guile, and a sort of cloud came down over their minds and hid the true path to be followed, then all the true disciples and true adorers of Christ preferred the ancient faith to faithless innovations, and thus kept themselves free from the contagion of the plague."[1157] Consequently, the quod ab omnibus means that orthodoxy is always found on the side of those who, under the guardianship of Peter, make up the flock of the sheep of Christ, or, as Vincent has just said, on the side "of the true disciples and the true adorers of Christ".

There is therefore a material way of taking the quod semper, antiquity, which would lead to a denial of true dogmatic progress, of the homogeneous evolution of Catholic dogma. And there is a material way of taking the quod ubique, universality, which leads to a denial that the quality of votes takes precedence over their quantity.[1158] These are errors in the eyes of St. Vincent himself. Antiquity and universality are to be understood formally, not materially. That directs attention perforce to the "true disciples", the "true adorers", the true sheep of Christ and to their shepherd. The visible criterion of orthodoxy, contained no doubt implicitly, but really, in the Vincentian canon, is therefore the authority of Peter, the authority of Rome. Before St. Vincent, St. Augustine had appealed already, against the Donatists, to universality and antiquity;[1159] and it was he too who a little later expressly invoked the authority of Rome against the Pelagians.[1160]

(3) But, as we have said, it was not in the Catholic sense that Newman first took up the Vincentian canon. He was persuaded that Rome had added various human and therefore heterogeneous elements to the primitive faith. He invited all those who wanted neither liberalism nor popery to seek a via media in the authentic Anglican Church. In his eyes, this Anglican Church alone had the note of antiquity. This, he thought, was its most obvious, most incontestable privilege. But his confidence was to be rudely shaken by history.

It was during the long vacation of 1839, while studying the history of the Monophysites, that doubts about the principles of Anglicanism assailed him for the first time. Here are his own words: "My stronghold was Antiquity; now here in the middle of the fifth century, I found, as it seemed to me, Christendom of the sixteenth and nineteenth centuries reflected. I saw my face in that mirror, and I was a Monophysite. The Church of the Via Media was in the position of the Oriental communion, Rome was where she now is; and the Protestants were the Eutychians.... It was difficult to make out how the Eutychians or Monophysites were heretics, unless Protestants and Anglicans were heretics also; difficult to find arguments against the Tridentine Fathers, which did not tell against the Fathers of Chalcedon; difficult to condemn the Popes of the sixteenth century, without condemning the Popes of the fifth. The drama of religion, and the combat of truth and error, were ever one and the same. The principles and proceedings of the Church now, were those of the Church then; the principles and proceedings of heretics then, were those of Protestants now. I found it so,—almost fearfully; there was an awful similitude, more awful because so silent and unimpassioned, between the dead records of the past and the feverish chronicle of the present. The shadow of the fifth century was on the sixteenth. It was like a spirit rising from the troubled waters of the old world, with the shape and lineaments of the new. The Church then, as now, might be called peremptory and stern, resolute, overbearing and relentless; and heretics were shifting, changeable...."[1161]

Some weeks later a text of St. Augustine's on the Donatist controversy, struck him with extraordinary force: "Securus judicat orbis terrarum, the whole world judges surely." St. Augustine, an oracle of antiquity, having to convince the Donatists of error, did not appeal to antiquity, to the quod semper, but to the quod ab omnibus, to the actually existing Church, to the Church of the day, to the Christian world:

"Securus judicat orbis terrarum; they were words that went beyond the occasion of the Donatists: they applied to that of the Monophysites....[1162] They decided ecclesiastical questions on a simpler rule than that of Antiquity; nay, St. Augustine was one of the prime oracles of Antiquity; here then was Antiquity deciding against itself. What a light was hereby thrown upon every controversy in the Church! not that, for a moment, the multitude may not falter in their judgment—not that, in the Arian hurricane, Sees more than can be numbered did not bend before its fury, and fall off from St. Athanasius—not that the crowd of Oriental Bishops did not need to be sustained during the contest by the voice and the eye of St. Leo; but that the deliberate judgment, in which the whole Church at length rests and acquiesces, is an infallible prescription and a final sentence against such portions of it as protest and secede. Who can account for the impressions that are made on him? For a mere sentence, the words of St. Augustine struck me with a power which I had never felt from any words before. To take a familiar instance, they were like the 'Turn again Whittington' of the chime; or, to take a more serious one, they were like the Tolle, lege—tolle, lege, of the child, which converted St. Augustine himself. Securus judicat orbis terrarum. By those great words of the ancient Father, interpreting and summing up the long and varied course of ecclesiastical history, the theory of the Via Media was absolutely pulverized."

This, however, was not yet the decisive light. "After a while, I got calm, and at length the vivid impression on my imagination faded away.... I had seen the shadow of a hand upon the wall. It was clear that I had a good deal to learn on the question of the Churches, and that perhaps some new light was coming upon me. He who has seen a ghost, cannot be as if he had never seen it. The heavens had opened and closed again. The thought for the moment had been, 'The Church of Rome will be found right after all'; and then it had vanished. My old convictions remained as before."

Two years later, in 1841, while Newman was occupied in the translation of St. Athanasius, his trouble returned. "The ghost had come a second time. In the Arian history I found the very same phenomenon, in a far bolder shape, which I had found in the Monophysite. I had not observed it in 1832. Wonderful that this should come upon me! I had not sought it out; I was reading and writing in my own line of study, far from the controversies of the day, on what is called a 'metaphysical' subject; but I saw clearly, that in the history of Arianism, the pure Arians were the Protestants, the semi-Arians were the Anglicans, and that Rome now was what it was then."

Thus, for the rule of the quod: semper as he had understood it, Newman saw himself forced to substitute that of the quod ab omnibus. And in each case this Christian faith held by all, this orthodox faith, was the faith of Rome.

(4) To those who persisted in referring him back to the quod semper, to antiquity, as the rule which would enable him to prove that the divine Church was the Anglican, not the Roman, Newman was already replying that "The proof of the Roman (modern) doctrine is as strong (or stronger) in Antiquity, as that of certain doctrines which both we and Romans hold: e. g. there is more of evidence in Antiquity for the necessity of Unity, than for the Apostolical Succession; for the Supremacy of the See of Rome, than for the Presence in the Eucharist; for the practice of Invocation, than for certain books in the present Canon of Scripture, etc. etc."[1163] A little later he remarked that the rule of the quod semper, understood so as to exclude all dogmatic progress, is doubtless unanswerable against Rome, but then "It strikes at Rome through England. It admits of being interpreted in one of two ways: if it be narrowed for the purpose of disproving the Catholicity of the Creed of Pope Pius IV, it becomes an objection to the Athanasian; and if it be relaxed to admit the doctrines retained by the English Church, it no longer excludes certain doctrines of Rome which that Church denies."[1164] To admit the principle of dogmatic development is to understand the quod semper as St. Vincent of Lerins understood it, and as the Catholics understand it. To reject this principle is to undermine the Catholic credo, and many other credos too along with it: that of the Graeco-Russians, that of Calvin, and that of the Anglicans.

5. At the time when he found himself compelled to renounce the Anglican interpretation of the rule of antiquity, Newman, who had at first reproached Rome for having admitted heterogeneous additions, foreign to the primitive faith, became aware of the principle of dogmatic development as found in Vincent of Lerins himself: "I saw that the principle of development not only accounted for certain facts, but was in itself a remarkable philosophical phenomenon, giving a character to the whole course of Christian thought. It was discernible from the first years of the Catholic teaching up to the present day, and gave to that teaching a unity and individuality. It served as a sort of test, which the Anglican could no. exhibit, that modern Rome was in truth ancient Antioch, Alexandria, and Constantinople, just as a mathematical curve has its own law and expression."[1165] The truth of the development principle was at last borne in on Newman's mind with so much force that he had to get to grips with it and clear it up: "I came to the resolution of writing an Essay on Doctrinal Development; and then, if, at the end of it, my convictions in favour of the Roman Church were not weaker, of taking the necessary steps for admission into her fold."[1166]

We know the result: "I had begun my Essay on the Development of Doctrine in the beginning of 1845, and I was hard at it through the year till October. As I advanced, my difficulties so cleared away that I ceased to speak of ' the Roman Catholics', and boldly called them Catholics. Before I got to the end, I resolved to be received, and the book remains in the state in which it was then, unfinished."[1167]

(6) Later on, it was objected to Newman that, being subject to a power "which at its own will imposes upon men any new set of credenda when it pleases, by a claim to infallibility; in consequence.... my own thoughts are not my own property.... I cannot tell that tomorrow I may not have to give up what I hold today." He replied, now as a Catholic theologian, that infallibility can never define anything that is not really contained in Scripture or Tradition: "Nothing can be imposed upon me different in kind from what I hold already—much less contrary to it. The new truth which is promulgated, if it is to be called new, must be at least homogeneous, cognate, implicit, viewed relatively to the old truth. It must be what I may even have guessed, or wished, to be included in the Apostolic revelation; and at least it will be of such a character, that my thoughts readily concur in it or coalesce with it, as soon as I hear it."[1168]

(7) Before leaving the Anglican Church, Newman had attempted to defend her by appealing to the note of sanctity. The Anglican Church, he said, possesses "a divine life, clearly manifested, in spite of all our disorders, which is as great a note of the Church as any can be".[1169]

But after the publication of his famous Tract 90 Newman was compelled to recognize that neither the bishops nor the laity of the Anglican Church any longer believed what was nevertheless primitive patristic doctrine. A little later, the consecration at Jerusalem of an Anglican Bishop with jurisdiction over Calvinists and Lutherans appeared to him as an official recognition of heresy by the Church of England.[1170]

The Church of England, in which nevertheless he still believed it his duty to remain, seemed to him then to be in an abnormal state with respect to the true Church, somewhat as Samaria was with respect to Jerusalem. The divine elements she still retained she was keeping as in exile. "At present I fear, as far as I can analyze my own convictions, I consider the Roman Catholic Communion to be the Church of the Apostles, and that what grace is among us (which, through God's mercy, is not little) is extraordinary, and from the overflowings of His dispensation."[1171]

At the same time Newman realized that the reproaches he had formerly hurled against the Roman Church were mainly attributable to the human weaknesses of Catholics, and that, for example, to have a true and deep love for Our Lady, an Englishman is not obliged to love her according to the devotional style and taste of an Italian.

It was only after his conversion that the Church of England began to appear to him in a new light: "I cannot tell how soon there came on me—but very soon—an extreme astonishment that I had ever imagined it to be a portion of the Catholic Church. For the first time, I looked at it from without, and (as I should myself say) saw it as it was.... It may be a great creation, though it be not divine, and this is how I judge of it.... But that it is something sacred, that it is an oracle of revealed doctrine, that it can claim a share in St. Ignatius or St. Cyprian, that it can take the rank, contest the teaching, and stop the path of the Church of St. Peter, that it can call itself 'the Bride of the Lamb', this is the view of it which simply disappeared from my mind on my conversion."[1172]

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