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   St. Robert Bellarmine

On Papal Authority

  Chapter 9  
Not to fight the Word of God, that one man should be the
Ecclesiastical and, at the same time, a political Head.

As to the third part of the question, since certain adversaries teach certain things about the temporal power which the supreme Pontiff has.

Is there question of a possession [of temporal power] held by sheer piracy?

Secondly, even if he were to have it [temporal power] by a just title, he could not retain what is in conflict with his spiritual power. So argues Calvin (lib. IV. Inst, cap. 11. 8 et 11). It will be necessary for us to prove both propositions, namely, that such a primacy befits the Pontiff, and that, in reality, he has and possesses it.

Therefore, that it is not repugnant that the Pontiff be at the same time the spiritual head and the temporal head of a certain province is proved first by the examples of Saints who are found to have been Kings and Princes. For, in the law of nature, Melchisedek was a King and a Pontiff, as is clear from Genesis XIV and Heb. VII. Also, formerly, the first-born was both a King and a High Priest, as Blessed Jerome teaches (in quaest. Hebr. in illud Genes. XLIX), "Reuben, my Firstborn." (Gen. XLIX, 3). It is clear, also, that Noah, Abraham, Isaac, Jacob were placed over their own, both in those matters that pertained to religion and in those that pertained to political life.

Then, Moses was both the highest temporal Head and the supreme High-Priest, as is most clear from the Divine Word. For, in Exodus XVIII, it is said: "Moses sat down and judged the people." (Exodus, XVIII, 13). And in Chapter XXXII, he ordered that many of the people be killed for the sin of idolatry, and in Chapter XL, 27, he burned fragrant incense to the Lord, which was the most distinctive duty of the High Priest, as is clear from II Chronicles, chapter 26, and likewise in Leviticus, chapter 8, Moses consecrated Aaron as a priest, consecrated the Tabernacle and the altar, offered sacrifices and holocausts, which only a priest can do. Hence, Philo (lib. III, de vita Mosis) in the final words: "This is the life, this is the ending of Moses the King, the Legislator, the High Priest, the Prophet." And Gregory Nazianzen (in Orat. ad Gregor. Nysenn): "Moses," he says, "the Prince of princes, and Priest of priests, used Aaron as spokesman." Finally, Augustine says of the reign of Moses (q. 68, in Exod): "He sat alone on a judicial height, while the whole people stood around." About his pontificate, moreover, he says (q. 23 in Levit): "There were two High Priests," he says, "Moses and Aaron."

In addition, Heli was both High Priest and political Judge for forty years, as is clear from the First Book of Kings, c. I, and IV. Finally, the Machabees, Judas, Jonathan, Simon, John, and others, up to the time of Herod, were at the same time High Priests and political leaders, as is clear from the Books of Maccabees and from Josephus, in Book XII of the Antiquities and the following.

It is proven by a second reason. First, ecclesiastical and political power are not opposed, but both are good, both from God, both praiseworthy, and one serves the other; therefore, they are not mutually repugnant. Therefore, they can be present in the same one.

Secondly, much more diverse are peace and war than are temporal and spiritual goods: but one and the same King presides over a Senate and an army, over those clad in togas and over those equipped with arms. Therefore, much more probably can one preside over temporal and spiritual matters.

Thirdly, one King can govern kingdoms the most diverse in customary morals, rites, laws and practices: and, for a similar reason, one Bishop can govern very many churches, as is manifest from the ancient Patriarchates (to pass over the Roman) any of which had under him a great many bishops; therefore, one man can rule one episcopacy and one principality. For it is either more difficult to rule an episcopate than a principality, or easier, or equally difficult: if the first, therefore, if one rules two episcopacys, even rules ["well", presumably] two principalities, even more can he rule one principality and one episcopacy; in the third suppostion, where one rules two principalities or two episcopacys, equally, he can rule one episcopacy and one principality.

Fourthly, those who conferred temporal principalities on the Bishop of Rome and on other bishops were devout men; on that account, especially, they were commended by the whole Church, as is clear in the case of Constantine and Charlemagne and his son Louis, who were, therefore, call "Pious" and even praised by adversaries: and, to the contrary, those who wished to confiscate a principality of that kind, like Aiustulphus, King of the Lombards, the Henrys IV and V, Otto IV, Frederick the First and the Second, are cited by all historians as impious and sacriligious.

Concerning Aistulphus, Ado wrote that "Aiustulphus, the King of the Lombards very shamefully smashed the bequest conferred on his predecessors by the gift of Blessed Peter and bestowed on his soldiers the faculties of the Roman Church." And, further on, "Aistulphus, while he was pursuing the hunt, was, by divine justice, suddenly stricken and died." Also, Blessed Bernard (epist. 242. ad Rom.) vehemently rebuked the Romans because they had withdrawn from Pope Eugenius: the reason for their disagreement was, as is clear from Platina and other historians, because they did not want to be subject to the Pontiff in temporal matters, but, as by their ancient custom, they wanted the republic to be governed by Consuls. Concerning Henry the Fourth, see what we indicated above, in Book IV, chapter 13.

Nor were the best rulers only those who thus enriched the Apostolic Church, but also very many of those who had received similar resources and a principality. For Platina wrote that Leo the Fourth was renowned for miracles, all writers call Leo the Ninth a Saint, and Sigebertus and Otto Frisingensis, write that Gregory the Seventh was illustrious for miracles, and also the best of men, writes Lambert Schnaffnaburgensis, and we have said much about the very holy life of Celestine the Fifth and his many miracles, described by Peter ab Aliaco, the Bishop of Camerina. Finally, all writers praise Adrian the First, Leo the Third, Nicholas the First, Innocent the Third, and not a few others, who, nevertheless, as is sufficiently clear, administered a principality along with a pontificate.

Then, lastly, it is proved by experience. For, although it should be preferable, absolutely speaking, that Pontiffs deal with the spiritual and Kings with the temporal; nevertheless, because of the evil of the times, experience cries out that it is not only usefully but even necessarily, and out of the special providence of God, that some temporal rulerships have been given to the Pontiff and other bishops: for, if there had not been Prince Bishops in Germany, none of them would have remained in their sees to this day. As, therefore, for a long time in the Old Testament, there were High Priests without temporal power to rule, and, nevertheless, during later days, religion could not persist and be defended unless High Priests were also Kings, so also we have seen happen to the Church, that, in early times it did not need temporal power to defend its majesty, but now it seems to need it out of necessity.

Now, indeed, that the Supreme Pontiff has, by right, the ruling power he has, can be proven easily by the fact that he has it by the gift of Rulers: to this effect writes Paul the Deacon (de gestis Longobardorum, lib. VI, cap. 26): "Aripertus, the King of the Lombards, restored the donation of the patrimony of Alpius Cotiare, which formerly belonged by right to the Apostolic See, but which for a long time had been confiscated by the Lombards, and directed that this donation be written down in gold letters for Rome." Bede recalls both the same donation and its restitution (in lib. de sex aetatibus); so also writes Ado (in Chronico anni 727): "Moreover, the King Pipin gave over Ravenna and the whole Pentapolis to the Apostles Peter and Paul." And there is extant, in the Decree of Gratian (dist. 63) the constitution of Charles the First, son of Charlemagne, in this form: "I, Louis, the august Emperor of the Romans, establish and concede by this pact of our confirmation to Blessed Peter, the Prince of the Apostles, and through you, to your Vicar the Lord Paschal, the Supreme Pontiff, and to his successors in perpetuity, as you have held, from your predessors right up to now, in your power and possession, the city of Rome with its duchy, suburban and mountainous, maritime, littoral, portside, with all the cities, castles, towns, and villas in the parts of Thusia [Tuscany?].

Likewise, Leo, the Bishop of Ostia (lib. I Chron. Cassinen. cap. 9): "The same renowned King (Pipin), together with his sons, made to Blessed Peter and his Vicar," he said, "the concession relative to the cities and territories of Italy within certain boundaries. From Lunis with the isle of Corsica, thence to Suranum, to Mount Bardo, to Verctum, to Parma, Rhegium, Mantua, and to the mountain of Sicily, together with the entire exarchate of Ravenna, as it had been in antiquity, with the provinces of Venice and Istria: and the entire duchy of Spoleto and Benevento." And, further on: "The same King coming to Italy with the Roman Pontiff, subjected to the Holy See Ravenna and the other twenty cities taken by the already mentioned Aistulphus." The same Leo (lib. III, cap.48): "In the year 1079 of our Lord's Incarnation, the Countess Matilda, fearing the army of the Emperor Henry, devoutly presented the provinces of Ligouria and Thusciam (Tuscany?) to the Pope Gregory, and S. R. E. (devotissime obtulit)." And there are extant at Rome authentic documents of these and similar donations. But even if none of these were extant, the (right of) prescription after 800 years would suffice. For even kingdoms and empires acquired by banditry, finally, after a long time, become legitimate: for otherwise, by what right, did Julius Caesar occupy the Roman Empire? And yet, at the time of Tiberius, Christ says, in Matthew XXII, 21: "Render to Caesar what belongs to Caesar." by what right did the Franks invade Gaul, the Saxons, Britain, the Goths, Spain? And, nevertheless, who in our time would say that the kingdoms established by them are illegitimate?