Understanding "Unam Sanctum"


#1

I’ve recently read the papal bull* Unam Sanctum* from the EWTN website (ewtn.com/library/PAPALDOC/B7UNAM.HTM). I’m a bit confused about what it says. Firstly, I believe 100% the jist of the bull, that is, submission to the Roman Pontiff is *absolutely necessary *in order to attain salvation, the doctrine we call Papal Primacy. What I’m confused about is the teaching about secular and spiritual authority:

We are informed by the texts of the gospels that in this Church and in its power are two swords; namely, the spiritual and the temporal. For when the Apostles say:
“Behold, here are two swords” [Lk 22:38] that is to say, in the Church, since the Apostles were speaking, the Lord did not reply that there were too many, but sufficient. Certainly the one who denies that the temporal sword is in the power of Peter has not listened well to the word of the Lord commanding: “Put up thy sword into thy scabbard” [Mt 26:52]. Both, therefore, are in the power of the Church, that is to say, the spiritual and the material sword, but the former is to be administered for the Church but the latter by the Church; the former in the hands of the priest; the latter by the hands of kings and soldiers, but at the will and sufferance of the priest.
However, one sword ought to be subordinated to the other and temporal authority, subjected to spiritual power. For since the Apostle said: “There is no power except from God and the things that are, are ordained of God” [Rom 13:1-2], but they would not be ordained if one sword were not subordinated to the other and if the inferior one, as it were, were not led upwards by the other.

To me, this seems to debunk the idea that all Christians are subject to government and to the authorities as Paul says, and at the same time, makes the Church seem temporal while Christ said, “My kingdom is not of this world. If it were, my followers would have fought to free me…” when he was questioned by Pilate. How can I understand this papal bull?


#2

The main idea of the bull is that the Church should not experience government interference. Kings are subject to the pope, not vice-versa. No king should dictate dogma (as was done in the East) or elect bishops, etc. The authority of the Church is greater.

Also, the Catholic Church believes, that as the servant of the King of kings, she can how civil disobediece when necessary, or excommunicate kings,etc. But this is not usual. Usually, Christians are to remain submissive to the powers that be, in matters where they can. (i.e. early Christians disobeyed imperial laws to sacrifice to idols).


#3

Oh I see…yeah that does make sense. What about the idea that the Church “holds the material sword and the spiritual sword”? Does that mean, ideally, that the Pope should have authority not only in matters of faith, but also in the world, over the kings of the earth, as was the case in the middle ages?


#4

[quote=youthcrusader]Oh I see…yeah that does make sense. What about the idea that the Church “holds the material sword and the spiritual sword”? Does that mean, ideally, that the Pope should have authority not only in matters of faith, but also in the world, over the kings of the earth, as was the case in the middle ages?
[/quote]

The material sword is temporal power.

In case you forgot, the Pope runs a country, Vatican City. He still has temporal power which is defended by the sword–the Swiss Guard. :thumbsup:


#5

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