<< So it seems to me that the statement is infallible. Of course, the real debate is what he meant. I know this has been debated endlessly on here, but admit it, you love fighting about it, don’t you? >>
Yeah sometimes. And it is just over the 10 year anniversary of my response to this in FidoNet. 10 years ago. Before I was on the “Internet” Some of my points then:
(A) The immediate historical context of the Bull is important, written to French CATHOLICS in the 14th century who were not submitting to the Pope. It was basically a war of letters between the French Catholic king Philip IV (the Fair) and Pope Boniface : Recordare Rex Inclyte (July 18, 1300); Secundum Divina; Salvator Mundi; Ante Promotionem Nostram; Ausculta Fili (AF) and its French version Deum Time (Dec 4-5, 1301); then Unam Sanctam (November 18, 1302); and finally Nuper ad Audientiam (August 15, 1303).
As Catholic historian Philip Hughes explains the purpose of the Bull –
"In many ways this letter hardly differs from the remonstrances which Boniface had already sent to the king. It tells him that his sins, as a Catholic ruler oppressing the rights of the Church, are notorious and a bad example to all Christendom…
“The Church has but a single head, Boniface reminds the king, and this head is divinely appointed as a shepherd for the whole flock of Christ. To suggest, then, that the King of France has no earthly superior, that he is not in any way subject to the pope is madness, is indeed, the prelude to infidelity. This doctrinal note is to appear again, and still more strikingly, in the controversy.” (Philip Hughes, A History of the Church, volume 3, page 78)
(B) The theological context is also important, and must take into account the broader context of Catholic theology, especially on salvation, Baptism, and the Mystical Body of Christ. A single line from a 14th century document, even if infallible, cannot be taken out of context.
From decidedly anti-Catholic historian Philip Schaff, who says that Boniface was “controlled by blind and insatiable lust of power” and in Unam Sanctam “the arrogance of the papacy finds its most naked and irritating expression,” nevertheless admits:
“There was no assertion of authority contained in the bull which had not been before made by Gregory VII and his successors, and the document leans back not only upon the deliverances of popes, but upon the definitions of theologians like Hugh de St. Victor, Bernard and Thomas Aquinas.” (Schaff, History of the Christian Church, volume 6, page 20)
© The Bull simply CANNOT be applied to (for example) modern Protestant Christians (who did not exist in the 14th century and had nothing whatsoever to do with the Bull) without carefully considering the WHOLE teaching of the Church on salvation and the Body of Christ.
(D) The final statement of Unam Sanctam must be understood in light of the first statement about membership in the Church for salvation since ONLY Catholics can submit to the Roman Pontiff. A Protestant, or any other religion must first BECOME a Catholic to submit (or be subject to) the Roman Pontiff.
(E) The final sentence is basically a re-statement of the first sentence.
“The Bull lays down dogmatic propositions on the unity of the Church, the necessity of belonging to it for the attainment of eternal salvation, the position of the pope as supreme head of the Church, and the duty thence arising of submission to the pope in order to belong to the Church and thus to attain salvation.” (Catholic Encyclopedia , article “Unam Sanctam” page 126)
“We must immediately distinguish between defined doctrine and ordinary papal teaching. Only the final sentence, as italicized, was solemnly defined and represents traditional Catholic dogma on the Church’s necessity for salvation.” (Fr. John Hardon, The Catholic Catechism, page 247)
“The other statements quoted (before and after the words about the two swords) regarding the need to be subject to the Pope for salvation, refer to the obligation to believe the teaching of the Pope on morals – which Boniface VIII himself pointed out. The statements also express that there is ‘no salvation outside the Church.’ Actually, the very wording of the last sentence that says men must be subject to the Pope comes word for word from St. Thomas Aquinas [Contra Errores Graecorum, Part II, Chapter 38]. Considering the context of St. Thomas’ statement it is just a statement of no salvation outside the Church.” (Fr. William Most, Catholic Apologetics Today, page 171)
Unam Sanctam Problem Resolved