Bull Unum Sanctum
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[From "The Church of Rome at the Bar of History", William Webster, Banner of Truth Trust]

The Bull Unam Sanctum
of Pope Boniface VIII

Boniface, Bishop, Servant of the servants of God. For
perpetual remembrance:

Urged on by our faith, we are obliged to believe and hold
that there is one holy, catholic, and apostolic Church. And we
firmly believe and profess that outside of her there is no
salvation nor remission of sins, as the bridegroom declares in
the Canticles, ‘My dove, my undefiled, is but one; she is the
only one of her mother; she is the choice one of her that bare
her.’ And this represents the one mystical body of Christ, and
of this body Christ is the head, and God is the head of Christ.
In it there is one Lord, one faith, one baptism. For in the
time of the Flood there was the single ark of Noah, which pre-
figures the one Church, and it was finished according to the
measure of one cubit and had one Noah for pilot and
captain, and outside of it every living creature on the earth,
as we read, was destroyed. And this Church we revere as the
only one, even as the Lord saith by the prophet, ‘Deliver my
soul from the sword, my darling from the power of the dog.’
He prayed for his soul, that is, for himself, head and body.
And this body he called one body, that is, the Church,
because of the single bridegroom, the unity of the faith, the
sacraments, and the love of the Church. She is that seamless
shirt of the Lord which was not rent but was allotted by the
casting of lots. Therefore, this one and single Church has one
head and not two heads,—for had she two heads, she would
be a monster,—that is, Christ and Christ’s vicar, Peter and
Peter’s successor. For the Lord said unto Peter, ‘Feed my
sheep.’ ‘My,’ he said, speaking generally and not particularly,
‘these and those,’ by which it is to be understood that all the
sheep are committed unto him. So, when the Greeks and
others say that they were not committed to the care of Peter
and his successors, they must confess that they are not of
Christ’s sheep, even as the Lord says in John, ‘There is one
fold and one shepherd.’

That in her and within her power are two swords, we are
taught in the Gospels, namely, the spiritual sword and the
temporal sword. For when the Apostles said, ‘Lo, here,’—that
is, in the Church,—are two swords, the Lord did not reply to
the Apostles ‘it is too much,’ but ‘it is enough.’ It is certain
that whoever denies that the temporal sword is in the power
of Peter hearkens ill to the words of the Lord which he spake,
‘Put up thy sword into its sheath.’ Therefore, both are in the
power of the Church, namely, the spiritual sword and the
temporal sword; the latter is to be used for the Church, the
former by the Church; the former by the hand of the priest,
the latter by the hand of princes and kings, but at the nod
and sufferance of the priest. The one sword must of necessity
be subject to the other, and the temporal authority to the
spiritual. For the Apostle said, ‘There is no power but of God,
and the powers that be are ordained of God’; and they would
not have been ordained unless one sword had been made
subject to the other, and even as the lower is subjected to the
other for higher things. For, according to Dionysius, it is a
divine law that the lowest things are made by mediocre things
to attain to the highest. For it is not according to the law of
the universe that all things in an equal way and immediately
should reach their end, but the lowest through the mediocre
and the lower through their higher. But that the spiritual
power excels the earthly power in dignity and worth, we will
the more clearly acknowledge just in proportion as the
spiritual is higher than the temporal. And this we perceive
quite distinctly from the donation of the tithe and functions
of benediction and sanctification, from the mode in which
the power was received, and the government of the subjected
realms. For truth being the witness, the spiritual power has
the functions of establishing the temporal power and sitting
in judgment on it if it should prove to be not good. And to
the Church and the Church’s power the prophecy of
Jeremiah attests: ‘See, I have set thee this day over the nations
and kingdoms to pluck up and to break down and to destroy
and to overthrow, to build and to plant.’

And if the earthly power deviate from the right path, it is
judged by the spiritual power; but if a minor spiritual power
deviate from the right path, the lower in rank is judged by its
superior; but if the supreme power [the papacy] deviate, it
can be judged not by man, but by God alone. And so the
Apostle testifies, ‘He which is spiritual judges all things, but
he himself is judged by no man.’ But this authority, although
it be given to a man, and though it be exercised by a man, is
not a human but a divine power given by divine word of
mouth to Peter and confirmed to Peter and to his successors
by Christ himself, whom Peter confessed, even him whom
Christ called the Rock. For the Lord said to Peter himself,
‘Whatsoever thou shalt bind on earth,’ etc. Whoever, there-
fore, resists this power so ordained by God, resists
the ordinance of God, unless perchance he imagines two
principles to exist, as did Manichaeus, which we pronounce
false and heretical. For Moses testified that God created
heaven and earth not in the beginnings but ‘in the

Furthermore, that every human creature is subject to the
Roman pontiff,—this we declare, say, define, and pronounce
to be altogether necessary to salvation.


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