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Sent. II, D.

Expositio textus

Scriptum super libros Sententiarum II, dist. 44

Exposition of the text.

... Ex hoc videtur quod sit magis

obediendum majori potestati quam
minori. Sed hoc videtur esse falsum.

... From this it seems we should obey a superior

authority more than an inferior one. But that seems

Quia in quibusdam magis obeditur uni

quam alteri, et in quibusdam minus,
sicut in quibusdam plus patri quam
duci exercitus, et in quibusdam plus
duci exercitus quam patri, ut in 9 Ethic.
dicitur. Ergo sequitur quod idem
eodem sit major et minor.

1. Because in some things obedience is given to

one rather than the other, and in some to one
more and the other less. Thus in some matters a
father is obeyed more than the leader of an army,
and in others the leader of the army more than a
father, as is said in 9 Ethics. It follows therefore
that in one matter one is obeyed more, and the
other less.

Praeterea, archiepiscopi potestas est

major quam potestas episcopi. Sed in
quibusdam plus tenentur obedire
archiepiscopis. Ergo non semper
majori potestati est obediendum

2. Besides, the power of an archbishop is greater

than that of a bishop. But in some matters subjects
are to obey their bishops rather than archbishops.
Therefore the greater power is not always to be
obeyed more.

Praeterea, abbates monasteriorum

subduntur episcopis, nisi sint exempti.
Ergo potestas episcopi est major quam
potestas abbatis. Sed monachus
tenetur plus obedire abbati quam
episcopo. Ergo non semper majori
potestati obediendum est magis.

3. Besides, abbots of monasteries are subject to

bishops, unless they are exempt. Therefore the
power of a bishop isgreater than that of an abbot.
But a monk is held to obey his abbot more than
his bishop. Therefore, a higher power is not
always to be obeyed more.

Praeterea, potestas spiritualis est altior

quam saecularis. Si ergo majori
potestati magis est obediendum,
praelatus spiritualis semper absolvere
saecularis: quod est falsum.

4. If the position be taken that such is indeed our

duty, this seems not to be true.... For [fourth
argument] spiritual power is higher than secular
power. If, then, it were true that we must obey
more the superior power, the spiritual power
would have the right always to release a man from
his allegiance to a secular power, which is
evidently not true.

Respondeo dicendum, quod potestas

superior et inferior dupliciter possunt
se habere. Aut ita quod inferior
potestas ex toto oriatur a superiori; et
tunc tota virtus inferioris fundatur supra

Solution and determination. Two cases are to be

considered in which we find the superior and the
inferior authorities standing in different relations
one to the other. First, the inferior authority
originates totally from the superior authority. In this

virtutem superioris; et tunc simpliciter

et in omnibus est magis obediendum
potestati superiori quam inferiori; sicut
etiam in naturalibus causa prima plus
secundae quam etiam ipsa causa
secunda, ut in Lib. de causis dicitur: et
sic se habet potestas Dei ad omnem
potestatem creatam; sic etiam se habet
potestas imperatoris ad potestatem
proconsulis; sic etiam se habet
potestas Papae ad omnem spiritualem
potestatem in Ecclesia: quia ab ipso
Papa gradus dignitatum diversi in
Ecclesia et disponuntur et ordinantur;
unde ejus potestas est quoddam
Ecclesiae fundamentum, ut patet
Matth. 16. Et ideo in omnibus magis
episcopis vel archiepiscopis, vel
distinctione. Potest iterum potestas
superior et inferior ita se habere, quod
ambae oriantur ex una quadam
suprema potestate, quae unam alteri
subdit secundum quod vult; et tunc
una non est superior altera nisi in his
quibus una supponitur alii a suprema
potestate; et in illis tantum est magis
obediendum superiori quam inferiori:
et hoc modo se habent potestates et
descendentes a Papae potestate.

case, absolutely speaking and in all events,

greater obedience is due to the superior power.
An illustration of this is the order of natural causes:
the first cause has a stronger impact upon the
thing caused by a second cause than has this
very second cause, as is said in the Liber De
Causis [1]. In this position we find Gods power in
regard to every created power, or likewise the
Emperors power in regard to that of the
Proconsul, or again the Popes power in regard to
every spiritual power in the Church, since by the
Pope all degrees of different dignities in the
Church are distributed and ordered. Whence
papal authority is one of the foundations of the
Church, as is evident from Matthew 16:18. So in
all things, without any distinction, the Pope ought
to be obeyed more than Bishops and
Archbishops; (more also by the monk than is the
abbot).The second case to be considered is,
that both the superior and the inferior powers
originate from one supreme power. Their
subordination, thus, depends on the latter who
subordinates one to the other as he pleases. As to
this case we say that here one power is superior
to the other only in regard to those matters in view
of which they have been so subordinated one to
the other by that supreme power. Hence in these
matters alone greater obedience is due to the
superior than to the inferior. An example of this is
our relation to the authorities of a Bishop and an
Archbishop, both of which descend from the papal

Ad primum ergo dicendum, quod non

superiorem in rebus familiaribus, et
ducem in rebus bellicis; sed ei qui in
omnibus superior est, scilicet Deo,
simpliciter est magis obediendum, et ei
qui vices Dei gerit plenarie.

Ad 1. In answer to the first, there is no problem in

a father being superior in housdhold matters, and
a commander in military matters. But he who is
overall superior, namely God, is simply to be
obeyed more; the same holds for the one who fully
represents him.

Ad secundum dicendum, quod in illis

in quibus magis obediendum est
archiepiscopus non est superior
episcopo, sed tantum in casibus
determinatis a jure, in quibus ab

Ad 2. In answer to the second, in those matters

where the bishop is to be obeyed more than the
archbishop, the archbishop is not superior to the
bishop, but only in the cases determend by law,
where appeal can be made from the bishop to the

episcopo recurritur ad archiepiscopum.

Ad tertium dicendum, quod monachus
magis tenetur obedire abbati quam
episcopo in illis quae ad statuta
regulae pertinent; in his autem quae
pertinent, magis tenetur episcopo: quia
in his abbas est episcopo suppositus.

Ad 3. In answer to the third, a monk is held to obey

his abbot more than the bishop in matters
determined by his rule. But in matters of
ecclesiastical discipline, he must obey his bishop
more, because in these matters the abbot is under
the bishop.

Ad quartum dicendum, quod potestas

spiritualis et saecularis, utraque
deducitur a potestate divina; et ideo
intantum saecularis potestas est sub
spirituali, inquantum est ei a Deo
supposita, scilicet in his quae ad
salutem animae pertinent; et ideo in
his magis est obediendum potestati
spirituali quam saeculari. In his autem
quae ad bonum civile pertinent, est
magis obediendum potestati saeculari
quam spirituali, secundum illud Matth.
22, 21: reddite quae sunt Caesaris
Caesari. Nisi forte potestati spirituali
etiam saecularis potestas conjungatur,
sicut in Papa, qui utriusque potestatis
apicem tenet, scilicet spiritualis et
saecularis, hoc illo disponente qui est
sacerdos et rex in aeternum,
secundum ordinem Melchisedech, rex
regum, et dominus dominantium, cujus
potestas non auferetur et regnum non
corrumpetur in saecula saeculorum.

Ad 4. The answer then... to the fourth argument is

this. Spiritual as well as secular power comes
from the divine power. Hence secular power is
subjected to spiritual power in those matters
concerning which the subjection has been
specified and ordained by God, i.e., in matters
belonging to the salvation of the soul. Hence in
these we are to obey spiritual authority more than
secular authority. On the other hand, more
obedience is due to secular than to spiritual power
in the things that belong to the civic good (bonum
civile). For it is said Matthew 22:21: Render unto
Caesar the things that are Caesars. A special
case occurs, however, when spiritual and secular
power are so joined in one person as they are in
the Pope, who holds the apex of both spiritual and
secular powers. This has been so arranged by
Him who is both Priest and King, Priest Eternal
after the order of Melchisedech, King of Kings and
Lord of Lords, Whose dominion shall not pass
away, and his kingdom shall not be destroyed for
ever and ever. Amen. [Conclusion of the second
book of the Scriptum; this explains the doxological