WE ARE COMPELLED, OUR FAITH URGING us, to believe and to hold—and we do firmly believe and simply confess—that there is one holy Catholic and Apostolic Church, outside of which there is neither salvation nor remission of sins; her Spouse proclaiming it in the canticles, “My dove, my undefiled is but one, she is the choice one of her that bore her”; which represents one mystical body, of which body the head is Christ, but of Christ, God.
In this Church there is one Lord, one Faith, and one Baptism. There was one ark of Noah, indeed, at the time of the flood, symbolizing one Church; and this being finished in one cubit had, namely, one Noah as helmsman and commander. And, with the exception of this ark, all things existing upon the earth were, as we read, destroyed.
This Church, moreover, we venerate as the only one, the Lord saying through His prophet, “Deliver my soul from the sword, my darling from the power of the dog.” He prayed at the same time for His Soul—that is, for Himself the Head, and for His Body— which Body, namely, He called the one and only Church on account of the unity of the Faith promised, of the sacraments, and of the love of the Church. She is that seamless garment of the Lord which was not cut but which fell by lot. Therefore of this one and only Church there is one body and one head—not two heads as if it were a monster: Christ, namely, and the vicar of Christ, Saint Peter, “Feed my sheep.” My sheep, He said, using a general term, and not designating these or those particular sheep; from which it is plain that He committed to him all His sheep.
If, then, the Greeks or others say that they were not committed to the care of Peter and his successors, they necessarily confess that they are not of the sheep of Christ; for the Lord says, in John, that there is one fold, one shepherd, and one only.
We are told by the word of the Gospel that in this His fold there are two swords—a spiritual, namely, and a temporal. For when the apostles said, “Behold here are two swords”—the Lord did not reply that this was too much, but enough. Surely he who denies that the temporal sword is in the power of Peter wrongly interprets the word of the Lord when He says, “Put up thy sword in its scabbard.” Both swords, the spiritual and the material, therefore, are in the power of the Church; the one, indeed, to be wielded for the Church, the other by the Church; the one by the hand of the priest, the other by the hand of kings and knights, but at the will and sufferance of the priest. One sword, moreover, ought to be under the other, and the temporal authority to be subjected to the spiritual. For when the Apostle says “There is no power but of God, and the powers that are of God are ordained,” they would not be ordained unless sword were under sword and the lesser one, as it were, were led by the other to great deeds.
For according to St. Dionysius the law of Divinity is to lead the lowest through the intermediate to the highest things. Not, therefore, according to the law of the universe are all things reduced to order equally and immediately; but the lowest through the intermediate, the intermediate through the higher. But that the spiritual exceeds any earthly power in dignity and nobility we ought the more openly to confess, the more spiritual things excel temporal ones. This also is made plain to our eyes from the giving of tithes, and the benediction and the sanctification; from the acceptation of this same power, from the control over those same things. For, the truth bearing witness, the spiritual power has to establish the earthly power, and to judge if it be not good. Thus, concerning the Church and the ecclesiastical power, is verified the prophecy of Jeremias: “See, I have this day set thee over the nations and over the kingdoms,” and the other things which follow.
Therefore if the earthly power err, it shall be judged by the spiritual power; but if the lesser spiritual power err, by the greater. But if the greatest, it can be judged by God alone, not by man, the Apostle hearing witness. A spiritual man judges all things, but he himself is judged by no one. This authority, moreover, even though it is given to man and exercised through man, is not human but rather divine, being given by divine lips to Peter and founded on a rock for him and his successors through Christ Himself whom He has confessed; the Lord Himself saying to Peter: “Whatsoever thou shalt bind,” etc. Whoever, therefore, resists this power thus ordained by God, resists the ordination of God, unless he makes believe, like the Manichean, that there are two beginnings. This we consider false and heretical, since by the testimony of Moses, not “in the beginnings,” but “in the beginning” God created the heavens and the earth.
Indeed we declare, say, pronounce, and define that it is altogether necessary to salvation for every human creature to be subject to the Roman Pontiff.
The Lateran, November 14, in our eighth year. As a perpetual memorial of this matter.