De Laicis — Saint Robert Bellarmine’s Treatise on Civil Government

Print Email This Post

(Chapters 16, and 19-22 translated from the Latin by Fr. James Goodwin, S.J.)

Chapter 1

We have examined two branches of the Church — that is, the clergy and monks; it remains for us to discuss the third — that is, the laity or seculars, and likewise to discuss those branches severed from the Church, that is, heretics. The whole may be reduced to a discussion of political magistracy.

This entire discussion falls under six heads. Firstly, we must discuss the nature itself of political power; secondly, its scope in affairs of state; thirdly, its scope in the matter of religion.

On the first point two questions arise: First, in regard to the duty of the magistracy to preserve the State from the wickedness of citizens by means of laws and punishments, civil as well as criminal, there is the question whether it is lawful for Christians to make laws, to administer justice, and to put guilty men to death, acts which properly pertain to the magistracy. Secondly, in regard to the duty of the magistracy to protect the State from external enemies, there is the question whether it is lawful for Christians to carry on war; and to this, because of Luther, we should add a corollary, viz., whether it is lawful to make war against the Turks.

On the third point two other questions arise. First, whether the care of religion pertains to the magistracy, or whether, indeed, the state can permit each man to believe as he pleases. Secondly, whether the magistracy ought to punish those judged and condemned by the Church as heretics, in their persons and freedom as well as in their writings, even to the extent of inflicting the death penalty.

Share, Bookmark, Like: Facebook, Twitter, etc.

 
This entry was posted in Online Books. Bookmark the permalink.