BONIFACE VIII 1294-1303

 

The Unity and Power of the Church *

 

[From the Bull “Unam Sanctam” November 18, 1302]

 

468 With Faith urging us we are forced to believe and to hold the one, holy, Catholic Church and that, apostolic, and we firmly believe and simply confess this (Church) outside which there is no salvation nor remission of sin, the Spouse in the Canticle proclaiming: “One is my dove, my perfect one. One she is of her mother, the chosen of her that bore her” [ Song. 6:8]; which represents the one mystical body whose head is Christ, of Christ indeed, as God. And in this, “one Lord, one faith, one baptism” [Eph. 4:5]. Certainly Noah had one ark at the time of the flood, prefiguring one Church which perfect on one cubit had one ruler and guide, namely Noah outside which we read all living things on the earth were destroyed. Moreover this we venerate and this alone, the Lord in the prophet saying: “Deliver, 0 God, my soul from the sword; my only one from the hand of the dog” [ Ps. 21:21]. For in behalf of the soul, that is, in behalf of himself, the head itself and the body he prayed at the same time, which body he called the “Only one” namely, the Church, because of the unity of the spouse, the faith, the sacraments, and the charity of the Church. This is that “seamless tunic” of the Lord [ John 19:23], which was not cut, but came forth by chance. Therefore, of the one and only Church (there is) one body, one head, not two heads as a monster, namely, Christ and Peter, the Vicar of Christ and the successor of Peter, the Lord Himself saying to Peter: “Feed my sheep” [ John 21:17]. He said “My,” and generally, not individually these or those, through which it is understood that He entrusted all to him. If, therefore, the Greeks or others say that they were not entrusted to Peter and his successors, of necessity let them confess that they are not of the sheep of Christ, since the Lord says in John, “to be one flock and one Shepherd” [John 10:16].

 

469 And we are taught by evangelical words that in this power of his are two swords, namely spiritual and temporal. . . . Therefore, each is in the power of the Church, that is, a spiritual and a material sword. But the latter, indeed, must be exercised for the Church, the former by the Church. The former (by the hand) of the priest, the latter by the hand of kings and soldiers, but at the will and sufferance of the priest. For it is necessary that a sword be under a sword and that temporal authority be subject to spiritual power. . . . It is necessary that we confess the more clearly that spiritual power precedes any earthly power both in dignity and nobility, as spiritual matters themselves excel the temporal. . . . For, as truth testifies, spiritual power has to establish earthly power, and to judge if it was not good. . . . Therefore, if earthly power deviates, it will be judged by spiritual power; but if a lesser spiritual deviates, by its superior; but if the supreme (spiritual power deviates), it can be judged by God alone, not by man, as the Apostle testifies: “The spiritual man judges all things, but he himself is judged by no one” [1 Cor. 2:15]. But this authority, although it is given to man and is exercised by man, is not human, but rather divine, and has been given by the divine Word to Peter himself and to his successors in him, whom the Lord acknowledged an established rock, when he said to Peter himself: “Whatsoever you shall bind” etc. [ Matt. 16:19]. Therefore, “whosoever resists this power so ordained by God, resists the order of God” [cf.Rom. 13:2], unless as a Manichaean he imagines that there are two beginnings, which we judge false and heretical, because, as Moses testifies, not “in the beginnings” but “in the beginning God created the heaven and earth” [cf. Gen. 1:1]. Furthermore, we declare, say, define, and proclaim to every human creature that they by necessity for salvation are entirely subject to the Roman Pontiff.

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