On Civil Authority, and on the Relations between Church and State

by Ireneo González Moral, S.J.

Translated by Timothy Wilson


Continuing our series of original translations of texts on Catholic political philosophy, we here offer an excerpt from a treatise on ethics by Fr. Ireneo González Moral, S.J. It is taken from vol. 3 of the manual Philosophiæ Scholasticæ Summa (BAC 1952), by the Jesuit Professors of the Philosophical Faculties in Spain, pp. 788-800. This particular selection deals very briefly with some matters concerning civil authority, and then proceeds to a lengthy and systematic examination of the question of what kinds of relations can and should exist between the civil power and the Church.


ARTICLE VI

ON CIVIL AUTHORITY IN PARTICULAR

1052. Nexus. We have treated of the origin and the original subject of civil authority. Now we wish to examine in more detail its extension or objective comprehension, the diverse ways in which political power is able to be acquired through derivation, the diverse forms which it is able to put on, and finally its different functions.

§1. On the comprehension of civil authority as regards its object.

1053. 1. General principles for resolving the question.[1] In this part, we wish to see how far civil power is able to extend itself in different questions which occur in civil society, that is, in material or economic, in moral, in religious questions; it is necessary, therefore, to have at the outset some general and fundamental principles for giving the right solution in all things.

1. The civil power has all those rights, and only those, which may be necessary for the fitting achievement of its end; this is clear from the end of society.

2. The civil power is able to command nothing which may be contrary to certain divine will. For since every authority descends from God, He is not able to concede to the same the power of subverting the order established by Himself.

3. The civil power, in the distributing of goods and burdens which are common, is held to observe distributive justice; for the common good demands this.

4. The civil power ought to govern according to a legitimate mode of governing in each and every society; for in this way, the rights of the subjects, both natural and positive, will be preserved.

1054. In the aforementioned four principles, the civil authority has an infallible norm in the exercise of its own activity; subjects also will find in them the guardianship of their own liberty and independence, so far as they are able to correspond with social life.

Treating of the end of civil society, we have seen that things of this sort include the protection of the rights of the subjects and the positive promotion of public prosperity; hence, the civil authority ought to defend directly all the rights of the subjects, both the private rights of individuals, families, and particular associations; and the public rights or relations between the citizens and civil society, and between civil society and other societies, in the first place the Church. Pertaining directly also to the civil authority is the positive promotion of all goods which are required for public prosperity, as has been said.

Whatever might also be necessary for the securing of the things aforesaid pertains to the civil authority, as e.g. the election and institution of public officials, the exaction of taxes, the erection of tribunals, etc.; but these pertain to it in an indirect manner.

1055. 2. On public decency. From the things just now said, there can arise a difficulty. Since decency of morals confers most of all to the public good, will care for decency of morals also pertain directly to the public authority?

a) Private decency, which consists in the especially interior acts of each person, by which he may accommodate himself to the norm of natural or supernatural morality, does not at all pertain to the civil authority, since it is not able to judge of purely interior matters; furthermore, this private decency is not referred per se to the common good, which is to be achieved by common cooperation.

b) Public decency, which consists in such a conformation of society that not only removes incitements to vice, so far as is possible, but also positively promotes virtue and encourages all toward it, certainly pertains to the necessary conditions of the common prosperity, and the activity of the civil authority extends itself to it.

1056. What the care of public decency demands. 1) That it impede all those things which are able to obstruct the practice of virtue, e.g. public prostitution, obscene houses, books contrary to good morals; 2) that legislation be of such a kind, that it not only does not impede the practice of virtue, but even positively promotes it; 3) that it should commend public offices to those men who are able to be an example to others.

1057. 3. On the care of religion in the purely natural order. It is asked, whether care of religion would pertain to the civil authority, in the hypothetical case in which there did not exist some supernatural society—the Church—to whom the care of religion was committed.

It seems that it ought to be answered affirmatively. For society itself, as such, is held to render worship to God (because of benefits received, because of the necessity of religious worship for civil society itself, and finally, because of its necessity for the subjects);[2] but since in the purely natural order, there would not be another society, at least a public one, to which the care of religion would be given, it follows that care of religion would pertain to the civil authority, which would fulfill a duty of this sort in the name of society.

But if some private society were formed for this, this society necessarily would depend upon public authority, just as any other societies of the merely private order. But this power would be contained within limits far more restricted than is the supernatural power of the Church now.

§2. On the relations between civil society and the Church

A. ON THE NEGATIVE RELATION

Thesis 58. Separation of any sort between the Church and civil society is to be rejected.

Ottaviani, A., Institutiones iuris publici ecclesiastici, 2nd ed. vol. 2, p. 75ff; R. Sotillo, Comp. Iuris publ. eccl. 2nd ed. (Santander 1951); Cappello, F., Summa iuris publici Eccles. 3rd ed. p. 266ff; Bendiscioli, La Política de la Santa Sede, span. vers. 1943, pp. 35-50; Chenon, El papel social de la Iglesia p. 146ff; G. Martínez, F., Credo Sanctam Ecclesiam Catholicam pp. 1-45; Maritain, J., Primacía de lo espiritual, span. vers. by Mariano Argüello (Buenos Aires 1947); Castañeda, E., El poder indirecto en el Dr. Navarro: Archivo Teológico Granadino 6 (1942) 63-93; Cathrein, Filos. morale vol. 2, pp. 604-624; Donat, Ethica vol. 2, p. 238ff.

1058. Nexus. We have the fact of the existence of this society which is called the Church, which declares itself to be a society perfect and supernatural, and which manifestly proves its constitution and aforementioned properties with such arguments as cannot be denied even in the merely philosophic order. This being posited, it is for us to inquire what sort of relations ought to be between these two perfect societies existing at the same time and in the same place, that is, between civil society and the Church.

1059. Notions. 1. The CHURCH: is a society that is supernatural, visible, perfect and independent, instituted by Christ our Lord, and governed by His Vicar, the Supreme Pontiff, for the direct care of religion and for the eternal salvation of souls.[3]

a) Society: or some multitude of men stably united unto a common end under some authority. b) Supernatural: on account of its origin and most of all on account of its means and end. c) Visible: for the following are visible: the material element of the Church (men), the formal element, and the means. d) Perfect: because it has all the elements and power which are required for acquiring its end, independent. e) Independent: for in no way does it depend upon any other society. f) Instituted by Christ our Lord, Who both established the Church, and gave to it His divine mission. g) Governed by His Vicar, or monarchically constituted. h) Religious, for the direct care of religion was committed to it. i) Supernatural: for it provides for the eternal salvation of souls.

1060. 2. SEPARATION: by this is understood that state of public affairs in which civil society regards the Church as something merely private and disjoined from public life.

1061. WHAT THIS IMPLIES: 1) Negatively: in a regime of separation, the Church is not had as a corporation of public right; its jurisdiction is not recognized, nor are its ordinances defended by the civil authority, nor are privileges of worship conceded to its ministers, such as exemption from military service, or from taxes, nor are subsidies given to them; the ministry of the Church in public organs, e.g. in schools and the armed forces, is not admitted. 2) Positively: Liberty, according to the right common to all, is granted to the Church so that it might establish itself after the manner of some private society, which in all things is subject to the laws of private societies, with the rights and obligations annexed to the same.

Therefore, so long as it is not opposed to civil laws, the Church will be free in internal things, in worship, in doctrine, in rule; any of its goods and rights are defended by the civil authority.

But the civil authority arrogates to itself the right to govern by its own authority all things, even religious, insofar as they touch civil life, as e.g. schools, matrimony, funerals, and ownership.

N.B. Separation properly speaking is not present if only liberty of worship is had, or if equality is granted to all religions; for, this notwithstanding, the Church is able to enjoy the rights and privileges of public corporations, most of all with respect to the ordering of schools and the regulation of marriages according to the doctrine of the Church.

In reality there is not found a perfect separation, since contact between either society is not able to be avoided; thus, at most it is able to be more or less perfect; sometimes it is established in order to avoid a regime of persecution and hostility (amicable separation); but sometimes—which more often happens—it is instituted in order to plague and oppress the Church, and restrict her liberty in preaching, in the administration of goods, in founding schools (hostile separation).

1062. State of the question. We suppose the fact of the institution of the Church, and that she is a society that is perfect, visible, spiritual, universal, and completely free.

Between it and civil society, existing mingled together, diverse relations can be found[4]:

a) Friendship or perfect concord, that is, if they are closely and perfectly united, and mutually respect and sincerely help one another.

b) Enmity and persecution (hostile separation), that is, if civil society harries and persecutes the Church, even as a private association.

c) Separation (amicable separation) of liberty and indifference, that is, if civil society neither positively assists the Church, nor persecutes her, but rather prescinds from her, considering her not as a perfect society, but as one merely private, just as any other society, e.g. literary, industrial, etc.

It is inquired in the thesis: is this regime of separation something to be admitted?

1063. Opinions. 1. The first opinion holds to the hegemony of civil society, and attributes supreme power to the civil authority, subjecting the Church entirely to civil society. After Marsilius Patavinus (14th cent.), who professed this system, many regalists of every age henceforth have defended it, as well as many modern positivist jurists.

2. The liberals in particular defend perfect separation, who prefer the Church to be free in the churches and in some activities of private life, but not in all; yet in the whole of her external activity they wish her to be subject to the civil authority, which is able to intervene directly in ecclesiastical affairs. Nor do they suffer the Church, as they say, to mix herself up in political matters; thus do they abusively call any external activity of the Church.[5]

Certain authors in our own times, led by Maritain, seem to defend something similar.

3. Our opinion. We defend as certain that a regime of separation of this sort is not at all per se to be wished for; yet we do not deny that sometimes it is able to be tolerated or even chosen per accidens as a lesser evil, in order to avoid open persecution of the Church even as a private society. But when there may be given sufficient cause for permitting a regime of this sort, is for the Church herself to determine.

1064. It is proved. 1°. From the divine wisdom. Christ, establishing the Church, was not able to will a regime disordered and liable to commotions. But such would be a regime of any kind of separation between the Church and civil society. Therefore the regime of separation between the Church and civil society is per se to be rejected.

Major: It is evident given the infinite wisdom and sanctity of the founder of the Church.

Minor: Often there are two jurisdictions to be exercised over the same subjects, in the same territory, about the same matter, at the same time, e.g. about feast days, about impediments of matrimony…Hence, if civil society should not recognize the Church as a perfect society, nor admit the juridical personality of the same, and her supreme power concerning those things which are proper to her, necessarily there will be conflicts; for one society is able to declare e.g. some day to be festive, but the other that it is not; one might say that some matrimony is valid, but the other might say it is invalid, etc.

1065. 2°. From the obligation which society has of rendering worship to God.

Civil society, in the order in which we find ourselves, is obliged to render to God Catholic worship. But this implies a necessary relation between the Church and civil society. Therefore any kind of regime of separation between the Church and civil society cannot be admitted.

Major: For to God is owed the worship which He Himself wishes; but He expressly has manifested Himself to desire that all render to Him Catholic worship.

Minor: The care of Catholic worship of this sort has been committed expressly to the Church by God; therefore civil society is not able to arrogate to itself the regulation of this kind of worship. It pertains therefore to the Church to command that magistrates and public officials be present at religious ceremonies, and to establish those things which are connected with social worship.

1066. The doctrine of the Church concerning this matter. It is best declared: by Leo XIII, Immortale Dei §§6-8, 10-15, 18, 21-22, 34-35; Libertas præstantissimum §§14-22, where the doctrines of liberalism are exposed and refuted, and most of all at §§38-41; by Pius XI, Dilectissima nobis §6-7.

1067. Objections. 1. The end of civil society is the public prosperity to be obtained in this life; but the end of the Church is eternal felicity, which is to be obtained in another life. But each society is best able to achieve its own end, so that it ought not to have any relation with the other. Therefore separation between civil society and the Church ought not to be rejected.

I respond. I distinguish the major: such that it ought to be subordinated to the final end, that is, to perfect felicity in another life, I concede; otherwise, I deny. I contradistinguish the minor.

2. That the Church might be able to achieve her end, it suffices that she have liberty within her own sphere. But in a regime of separation between the Church and civil society, this liberty is conceded to the Church. Therefore the separation of the Church from the State is not to be rejected.

I respond. I distinguish the major: the liberty due to her, I concede; only tolerance and a portion of liberty, but not all which is due to her, I deny. I contradistinguish the minor.

3. A regime different from the regime of separation supposes that social authority knows the true religion. But generally this does not happen. Therefore at least then, the regime of separation is better.

I respond. I distinguish the major: the civil authority is able, if it wishes, to know it, I concede; otherwise, I deny. I contradistinguish the minor. For the true religion, by means of evident signs, reveals itself to any who should be willing to know it.

4. In a society in which different religions are professed by the citizens—as often happens—to recognize one, but not the others, as a perfect society, would beget hostility against the worshipers of that religion. But then this regime would harm the worshipers of the true religion. Therefore at least then, the regime of separation is to be preferred.

I respond. I distinguish the major: and this harm would spring forth from the malice of those men, I concede; from the nature of the regime itself, I deny. Thus, in practice the Church will consider what is more agreeable for avoiding greater evils. For at present we set forth the doctrine from is to be supported from the nature of civil society and the Church.

5. It seems that the regime of separation of civil society from the Church is to be preferred; for in this way other civil societies which do not recognize the Church, whether from fault or inculpably, in the same manner will be moved to tolerate the Catholic religion as a society merely private; otherwise, if this tolerance for other religions is not had in Catholic nations, tolerance for the Catholic religion will not be able to be urged in other nations.

I respond. I deny the assertion. The tolerance of error, such that truth also would be destroyed, of itself is to be rejected. For the truth alone has the right to rule in the intellects of men. The trouble which would follow from other quarters would arise, not from the nature of religion and from the reverence toward the true religion, but extrinsically and from the malice of men.

6. The practice of separation, e.g. in the United States of America, demonstrates that it is the best regime.[6]

I respond. I distinguish the assertion: Per accidens in some regions, I concede; per se, and as the ideal regime, I deny.

B. ON THE POSITIVE RELATION BETWEEN THE CHURCH AND CIVIL SOCIETY

Thesis 59. In matters merely civil, the State is independent of the Church (I); in matters moral and religious, the Church is independent of the State (II); but in mixed matters, unless a mutual concord be obtained through convention, the supreme authority is with the Church (III).

1068. Nexus. We see that the Church and civil society are not able to be separated; now we wish to see what sorts of relations ought in fact to exist between them.

1069. Notions. MATTERS MERELY CIVIL. Here are understood those things which, because of their end or destination, tend toward merely temporal prosperity, e.g. exaction of taxes, the ordering of public servants, custody of order, public health, national defense, ways of communication, postal and telephone services, etc.

1070. MATTERS MERELY MORAL AND RELIGIOUS. These refer to all those things which singly look to morals or to the salvation of souls: e.g. faith, administration of the sacraments, preaching of the Gospel, etc.

1071. MIXED MATTERS. These are those things which at once have a twofold aspect, namely, temporal and religious.

a) Mixed per se are those things which by their nature have this twofold aspect, e.g. matrimony between Christians, and education.[7]

b) Mixed per accidens are those things which of their nature are merely temporal things, but per accidens take on a religious aspect, e.g. ordering of the military, which of its nature is a merely temporal action; yet to ordain it such that soldiers are not able to be present at religious rites on feast days, endues it with a religious aspect; possession of some building is a merely temporal affair, but if this building is intended for worship, or for the residence of sacred persons, it participates in a religious aspect.[8]

1072. MUTUAL CONVENTION. By mutual convention there is understood the mode of proceeding pacifically in these matters, by previously determining what, in any affair, should pertain in practice to each society, mediated by some mutual pact which is accustomed to be called a concordat or manner of living. But in this pact, each member cedes a little from its right, so that a perfect and mutual concord might be able to be had, limiting well what should pertain to either society in these mixed matters; e.g. in the military service of clergy, in youth associations, in education, in matrimony, etc.

We must note that concordats are neither the only nor the more perfect solution.[9]

1073. State of the question. There are matters and questions which, of their nature, are merely temporal, nor do they bespeak in any way a relation to spiritual things; we treat of these in the first part, so that we might see whether in them the Church may make intervention. On the other hand there are others which especially present a spiritual aspect. We treat of these latter in the second part, that we might see whether civil society is able to intervene in some way in these things. There are, finally, other matters which, of their nature, pertain to both societies; we treat of these in the third part, so that we might see whose is the ultimate and definitive decision in a case of conflict, and how these might be able to be forestalled.

1074. Opinions. 1. The first is of those who are opposed to the preceding thesis.

2. Some mediævals[10], perhaps many, asserted that all power, both spiritual and temporal, has been given by God to the Church, such that princes would not rule peoples except by power received from the Roman Pontiff, and thus they would be directly subject to the jurisdiction of the Church. They therefore conceive of the State as a counterpart of the diocese.[11]

3. Radical liberals and regalists. These make the Church entirely dependent upon the State. For them, the Church is as it were an instrument of the State; this is also the doctrine of modern statolatrists of every sort.[12]

4. All moderate liberals concede to the State supremacy over the Church in mixed matters.[13]

5. Our opinion: a) in the first part we assert the full independence of the State in merely temporal affairs; b) but in the second part, the full independence of the Church in merely moral and religious affairs, i.e. in those which look especially to the sanctification of souls; c) but in the third part we state the supremacy of the Church in mixed matters, that is, we defend that which by many is called the indirect power of the Church in temporal matters, by reason of the spiritual element conjoined with the temporal.

Hence in this third part we assert the indirect subordination of the State in all things which, although of their nature temporal, are either united with spiritual things or are referred to them; and thus they are subordinate by reason of the end or destination.[14]

The first part is proved: In merely civil affairs the State is entirely independent

1075. For this reason, that the Church does not think herself to have any power in these matters.

The State enjoys that independence which it had before the institution of the Church, unless it be proved that the limits to this independence were placed through the institution of the Church. But before the institution of the Church, the State had full independence in merely temporal affairs, nor can it be proved that limits were placed upon it through the institution of the Church. Therefore the State is independent from the Church in merely temporal matters.

Major: For the State is in possession of power.

Minor: a) In respect of the first part, from the nature of the State and from history.

b) In respect of the second part: 1) It is not proved indirectly, for this indirect limitation would not have a reason except on account of the end of the Church. But even now the end of the Church—the sanctification of souls—does not postulate these limits, since for this, it is not at all required that the Church be able to ordain merely civil affairs, e.g. to determine taxes to be required by the State, composing agrarian laws, etc.; no indeed, this would rather be harmful to the end of the Church, because it would excite innumerable offenses.

2) Nor is it proved directly from the positive will of Jesus Christ granting such power to the Church, for nowhere is such a will revealed.

3) The Church expressly acknowledges that power in merely civil affairs does not at all belong to her.[15]

The second part is proved: In moral and religious matters, the Church is independent from the State.

1076. 1. From the positive will of Christ.

The Church, as a society, must be believed to have that independence which Christ willed to confer upon it. But Christ conferred to the Church fully independent power in matters merely spiritual and religious. Therefore the Church has full independence in matters moral and spiritual.

Major: Since Christ, the founder of the Church, is God, He is able to confer to the Church the power which He freely wishes.

Minor: a) Jesus Christ communicated all regal power which He had to the Church represented in the Apostles: (John 18:37: I am a king; Matt 28:18: all power has been given to me in heaven and on earth; Matt 28:20: going therefore teach ye all nations). But now Christ is not a king without a kingdom, nor does he have a kingdom without supreme rights; but since His perduring kingdom is the Church, He granted to her the power which He Himself had, that is, supreme power, independent relative to the supernatural end committed to her.[16]

b) It had been understood thus from the beginning by the Apostles, who always conducted themselves as equipped with a supreme and independent power with regard to moral and spiritual matters, by preaching the Gospel even against supreme legislators and human kings, and administering the sacraments: which would not have been licit for them, if the Church were not independent of the State in spiritual affairs.[17]

1077. 2. From the necessity of the Church’s end.

Christ bestowed upon the Church an end, to be attained necessarily; all things therefore which might be necessary for this, He granted to her. But that the Church might be able to achieve her end, it is required that she have full independence from the State in matters moral and spiritual. Therefore the Church is independent from the State in matters moral and spiritual.

Major: Mark 16:16: He that believeth and is baptized, shall be saved; but he that believeth not shall be condemned.

Minor: The diversity of nations and the mutability of kingdoms being considered, since the Church is a spiritual kingdom, full independence is for her altogether necessary; otherwise, perpetual variations in her laws and in policy from States would be required, to the very great detriment of souls.

1078. 3. From the preeminence of the Church.

Christ could not have willed a higher power to depend upon another and inferior power. But the power of the Church is higher than the power of the State, as is clear from their origin and end. Therefore the Church does not depend upon the State in matters spiritual and moral.[18]

1079. Corollary. 1. Some applications of the independence of the Church. The Church is therefore independent in teaching; in administering the sacraments; in the ordering of divine worship; in drawing up laws and in communicating them with the faithful; in the election both of bishops and of parish priests; in the institution of clergy; in decreeing penalties, the effect of which ought to be recognized by the State; in founding and fostering religious orders, for the members of which there is the right that they might follow the evangelical counsels under the direction of the Church.

Similarly, she has the right of freely acquiring and administering material things, without which no human society is able to exist.

The State cannot in any way impede the communication of bishops or parish priests with their faithful, and a fortiori there is not required any placet regium or exequatur[19] of the civil government in order that ecclesiastical acts might have force; nor do many other similar things which modern States allot to themselves truly belong to them.

All civil laws also which are concerned with spiritual matters, if they are drawn up without the consent of the Church, and infringe upon her rights, are utterly invalid, since they lack the due competence.[20]

1080. 2. On the indirect power of the Church. It also is concluded, from the first and second part, that the Church has no direct power over the State, or vice versa, at least if the relation between the jurisdictions qua jurisdictions be considered.

A direct power of some society toward another is had when one society is subordinated to another by reason of its own end, that is, if the same end is also intended directly by another society, e.g. a province or district depends directly upon the State. An indirect power is had when one is subordinated to another by reason of an end intended by a superior power, or if both societies are referred to the same thing but under a different aspect; for order then demands that the superior right should prevail: thus the power of the head of the family is subordinated to the State. When there is had an indirect power of one society over another, then there is had an indirect independence of the inferior society from the superior society.

The third part is proved: In mixed matters, the supreme authority lies with the Church.

1081. As a corollary of the preceding thesis.

Between the powers of the Church and the State, there ought to be some relation. But no other proper relation is able to exist between them, except that the Church should have supreme authority in mixed matters. Therefore in mixed matters the supreme authority lies with the Church.

Major: From the preceding thesis.

Minor: Relations other than the aforementioned would not be proper:

1) In the first and second part of this thesis we excluded a direct power of the Church over matters merely temporal, and likewise of the State in matters moral and spiritual.

2) The supreme decision concerning a matter in which there is present something spiritual and something temporal is not able to lie indirectly with the State; for this would be a disorder, since it would subordinate a superior thing to an inferior. Therefore there remains no other option but that the supreme decision is with the spiritual power, because the temporal matter depends indirectly upon the spiritual, as is said in the second corollary of the preceding part.

1082. The doctrine of the Church concerning the relations between her and the State in mixed matters is admirably set forth by Leo XIII, Immortale Dei §§13-15.

1083. Scholion. On Concordats. Concerning concordats, we should note that a regime founded upon a concordat is not the ideal regime; for in these, the Church always cedes something without any compensation; for those things which seem to be compensations are already due to her from other quarters. Yet the Church accepts and promotes concordats, seeing that she very much desires concord and peaceful relations with civil society.[21]

1084. Objections. 1. The care of public prosperity was committed to the State by natural right. But care of public prosperity requires also care of religion. Therefore the care of religion pertains also to the State.

I respond. I distinguish the major: dependently or independently, I concede; in respect of religion, I subdistinguish: in the purely natural order, I concede; in the supernatural order, I deny. I concede the minor. I equally distinguish the consequence.

2. If this thesis is admitted, the rights of the State are diminished through the institution of the Church, and its condition is made worse, which is not able to be admitted. Therefore the State in no way depends upon the Church.

I respond. I distinguish the antecedent: in respect of things other than religion, I deny; in respect of religion, I subdistinguish: in respect of private religion, which was never subjected to the State, I deny; in respect of public religion, I subdistinguish: in respect of the power of ordering and defining it, I concede; in respect of the power of protecting and promoting it, I deny; this rather is amplified, because now it extends itself even to the protection of the rights of the Church.

The condition of the State simply speaking is not made worse, for the condition of the Christian State simply speaking is better; only per accidens is it made worse, that is, insofar as its power is diminished in the sense explained.

3. If the Church were independent from the State, then we would have a State within a State. But this state of affairs cannot be admitted. Therefore the Church is not independent from the State.

I respond. I distinguish the major: the Church is in the State, as a society of the same end and power, I deny; as a society of a higher order, I concede. Rather, the State is within the Church, for the latter is more universal. I contradistinguish the minor (cf. García, Credo Sanctam Catholicam, nos. 29-30).

4. The State has the right of impeding, lest it suffer some detriment from the Church. But if the decision in mixed matters were to pertain to the Church, the State would be able to suffer detriment at the hands of the Church. Therefore the supreme power in these matters is not with the Church.

I respond. I distinguish the major: with proportionate means, as e.g. monitions, information, postulations, etc., I concede; with disproportionate means, as by exercising jurisdiction in moral and spiritual matters without a concession of the Church, I deny. I contradistinguish the minor (cf. García, p. 37).

5. The Church is a spiritual society. But power over temporal things does not belong to a spiritual society. Therefore in mixed matters the supreme power lies with the State.

I respond. I distinguish the major: by reason of the end, I concede; by reason of persons and all means, I deny. I contradistinguish the minor: if it were spiritual in every aspect, I concede; otherwise, I subdistinguish: a direct power over temporal things, I concede; indirect, I deny.

6. The Church does not have coercive power. But in order that some society be perfect and independent, it is required that it have coercive power. Therefore the Church is not a perfect society, independent from the State.

I respond. I distinguish the major: through spiritual means, I deny; through physical means, I subdistinguish: she does not have the right to exert physical coercion either per se or through recourse to the civil power, in order to demand help of it, I deny; often she does not have the actual power of compelling through physical force directly, if the civil authority should deny cooperation to her, I concede. But this is not required for the essence of the right. I contradistinguish the minor.

7. For a perfect and independent society, it is required that it have territory. But the Church does not have territory. Therefore it is not a perfect and independent society.

I respond. I distinguish the major: in which it might be able to exercise true jurisdiction, I concede; in which it might also have civil power, that is, over temporal matters, I subdistinguish: generally it is required for civil society, I concede; for any society whatever, I deny. But the Church also has this territory, even though it be very small. I contradistinguish the minor.

8. If these things were true, then the indirect power would need to be granted to the Church in nearly all temporal matters, since all things are able to be conjoined with spiritual things. But this is an entirely inadmissible doctrine. Therefore the indirect power in mixed matters does not belong to the Church.

I respond. a) If the arguments are true, the doctrine ought not to be rejected because of the fact that it must needs be extended to more things than many believe. b) There are many things which produce no conflict with the spiritual end of the Church; and to these the indirect power of the Church does not extend itself.

9. This doctrine is agreeable neither to our times nor to the dignity of the State, and it is impossible that it be brought back into practice. Therefore it ought to be rejected.

I respond. I distinguish the antecedent: it is not agreeable in our times to the erroneous ideas which many have about the power of the State, and about its dignity, I concede; it is not agreeable to objective truth and a proper estimation of the dignity of the State, I deny. It is not able to be brought into practice in its whole purity, on account of the exaggerated statism existing nearly everywhere, I pass over; it is not able to be brought into practice at least in a determinate way through concordats between the Church and the State, in which the Church most benevolently is accustomed to cede something from her right, for the good of peace and harmony, I deny.

10. The Church has claimed for herself a direct power even over merely temporal matters. For Boniface VIII, in the Bull Ausculta fili, says: for God has set Us over kings and kingdoms; and in the Bull Unam sanctam, he says: Furthermore, We declare, say, define, and pronounce that it is absolutely necessary for salvation that every human creature be subject to the Roman Pontiff.

I respond: in these testimonies, as is clear from context as well as history, Boniface VIII only asserted the indirect power of the Church over temporal matters, or by reason of the spiritual element with which they are joined, as is shown by the classic phrase ratione peccati, “by reason of sin” (cf. Chenon, op. cit., p. 153ff; Pilati, op. cit. pp. 329-354).


[1] Cf. Cathrein, Filos. morale vol. 2, pp. 593-604; Phil. Moralis n. 623ff.

[2] Cf. Leo XIII, Immortale Dei §6.

[3] We take this definition from ecclesiastical documents; cf. e.g. Leo XIII, Immortale Dei §§8-12. The theologians and canonists prove this brilliantly; cf. e.g. Salaverri, J., De Ecclesia Christi: Sacræ Theologiæ Summa (BAC Madrid 1950) vol. 1, tract. 3, p. 785ff.

[4] Cf. Cappello, Summa Iuris publici Eccles., p.270ff; Chenon, El papel social de la Iglesia, p. 171 n. 50; Bendiscioli, La política de la Santa Sede, p. 45ff.

[5] Cf. Leo XIII, Libertas præstantissimum §14-16, 29-31, 38-41.

[6] Cf. Chenon, El papel social de la Iglesia, p. 172.

[7] Cf. Pius XI, Divini illius magistri §§26-27; Mérida, Carta pastoral sobre la restauración Cristiana de le enseñanza (Astorga 1947) pp. 40-41.

[8] Cf. Rodríguez Sotillo, Comp. publi. eccles., p. 210

[9] Cf. the best source concerning this matter, Fidel García, Credo Sanctam Catholicam, n. 38; Benoist, Las leyes de la política, p. 205ff.

[10] Cf. Castañeda, El poder indirecto…: Archivo Teológico Granadino 5 (1942) 69ff.

[11] Cf. Chenon, El papel social de la Iglesia, p. 148.

[12] Cf. Syllabus errorum, props. 19, 20, 24.

[13] Cf. Syllabus errorum, props. 41-42, 54.

[14] Cf. Código social de Malinas no. 53-56; García, Credo Sanctam Catholicam, no. 33-35, 38; Pilati, G., Bonifacio VIII e il potere indiretto: Antonianum 8 (1933) 329-354; Castañeda, El poder indirecto, p. 67-68 (here he sets forth well what are the elements of the indirect power); Yaben, El poder indirecto de la Iglesia y sus aplicaciones actuals: Revista Eclesiástica 5 (1933) 131-153; 6 (1934) 257-273.

[15] Cf. Leo XIII, Immortale Dei §14; Diuturnum illud §26.

[16] Cf. Leo XIII, Immortale Dei §§10-12.

[17] Cf. García, Credo Sanctam Catholicam, pp. 20-21; Salaverri, De Ecclesia Christi nos. 937-971.

[18] Cf. Leo XIII, Immortale Dei §§10, 14.

[19] The regium placet, as the article concerning it in the Catholic Encyclopedia relates, is “a faculty which civil rulers impart to a Bull, papal brief, or other ecclesiastical enactment in order to give it binding force in their respective territories.” Cardinal Tarquini, in his celebrated Dissertatio de regio placet, writes with the mind of the Church when he characterizes it as an egregious usurpation of the Church’s rights and jurisdiction and an overturning of the order of things, setting the student as judge over the teacher and the son over the mother: “ne quid fari libere valeat, iudicem imponit filium matri, discipulum magistræ, interdicens perduellionis scelere populos ne huic magistræ ac matri morem gerant, nisi discipulus filiusque permiserit.” — Tr.

[20] Cf. García, Credo Sanctam Catholicam, p. 23 scholion, and p. 38 scholion.

[21] Cf. García, Credo Sanctam Catholicam, n. 38 with the note.

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