Communitas perfecta ("perfect community") or societas perfecta ("perfect society") is the Latin name given to one of several ecclesiological, canonical, and political theories of the Catholic Church. The doctrine teaches that the church is a self-sufficient or independent group which already has all the necessary resources and conditions to achieve its overall goal (final end) of the universal salvation of mankind. It has historically been used in order to define church–state relations and to provide a theoretical basis for the legislative powers of the church in the philosophy of Catholic canon law.
Its origins can be traced to the Politics of Aristotle, who described the Polis as a whole made of several imperfect parts, i.e. the consummation of natural communities such as the family and the village.The "perfect community" was originally developed as a theory of political society. The most sovereign political organization (the Polis) can attain the end of the community as a whole (happiness) better than any of the subordinate parts of the community (family, village, etc.). Since it can attain its end (telos) by its own powers and the resources within itself, then it is self-sufficient. It is self-sufficiency that is the defining element of the polis.
The idea of "perfect community" was also present in medieval philosophy. In direct reference to Aristotle, Thomas Aquinas mentions the state (civitas)as a perfect community (communitas perfecta):
As one man is a part of the household, so a household is a part of the state: and the state is a perfect community, according to Polit. i, 1. And therefore, as the good of one man is not the last end, but is ordained to the common good; so too the good of one household is ordained to the good of a single state, which is a perfect community. Consequently he that governs a family, can indeed make certain commands or ordinances, but not such as to have properly the force of law.
Aquinas never referred to the church as a perfect community in his writings.If Aquinas and medieval writers had any notion of communitas perfecta being applied to the church, it was not clearly expressed and was not a clear basis for the societas perfecta theory used in later controversies between church and state.
During Enlightenment period, the Societas Perfecta doctrine was strongly affirmed in order to better protect the church from secular encroachments. It was also mentioned in the magisterium of the Thomistic revivalist pontiffs such as Pius IX. And especially Leo XIII, in his encyclical Immortale Dei, explains this teaching in relation to the church:
It is a perfect society of its own kind and their own right, since it everything for their existence and their effectiveness is necessary, in accordance with the will and power of the grace of their Founder in and of itself owns. As the goal of the Church is more sublime, its power is always far superior, and it can therefore not be considered less than the Civil state, as to not be in a state of subordination.
The two perfect societies correspond to two forces, the church and state:
The one responsible for the care of the divine dimension, the other for the human. Each one is in the highest of its kind: each has certain limits within which it moves, borders that emerged from the nature and purpose of each of the next two forces showed.
Until the Second Vatican Council, the doctrine of the two perfect societies of Leo XIII was held to be official in theological studies. During the council itself, as well as in the new 1983 Code of Canon Law itself, the doctrine was no longer explicitly mentioned and the Aristotelian "Perfect Community" was all but replaced by the biblical "People of God". In the modern Catholic post-conciliar theology, its discussion is limited to theologians and academics. Its near-abandonment in discourse has proven controversial.
In any event, Pope Paul VI mentioned it and summarized it in the 1969 motu proprio Sollicitudo omnium ecclesiarum on the tasks of the papal legate:
It cannot be disputed that the duties of Church and State belong to different orders. Church and state are in their own area perfect societies. That means: They have their own legal system and all necessary resources. They are also, within their respective jurisdiction, entitled to apply its laws. On the other hand, it must not be overlooked that they are both aiming at a similar welfare, namely that the people of God is to obtain eternal salvation.
This theology was largely overshadowed by the biblical theology of the church as the mystici corporis Christi (mystical body of Christ), which began to be more fully developed in the early 20th century and was affirmed by Pope Pius XII in 1943.
Pope Leo XIII was the head of the Catholic Church from 20 February 1878 to his death in 1903. He was the oldest pope, with the exception of Pope Benedict XVI as emeritus pope, and had the third-longest confirmed pontificate, behind those of Pius IX and John Paul II.
In politics, integralism or integrism is the principle that the Catholic faith should be the basis of public law and public policy within civil society, wherever the preponderance of Catholics within that society makes this possible. Integralists uphold the 1864 definition of Pope Pius IX in Quanta cura that the religious neutrality of the civil power cannot be embraced as an ideal situation and the doctrine of Leo XIII in Immortale Dei on the religious obligations of states. In December 1965, the Second Vatican Council approved and Pope Paul VI promulgated the document Dignitatis humanae–the Council's "Declaration on Religious Freedom"–which states that it "leaves untouched traditional Catholic doctrine on the moral duty of men and societies toward the true religion and toward the one Church of Christ" while simultaneously declaring "that the human person has a right to religious freedom," a move that some traditionalists such as Society of St. Pius X-founder Archbishop Marcel Lefebvre have argued is in contradiction to previous doctrinal pronouncements. Integralists therefore do not accept the Second Vatican Council's perceived repudiation of civilly established Catholicism.
Thomism is the philosophical school that arose as a legacy of the work and thought of Thomas Aquinas (1225–1274), philosopher, theologian, and Doctor of the Church. In philosophy, Aquinas' disputed questions and commentaries on Aristotle are perhaps his best-known works.
In Christian theology, the beatific vision is the ultimate direct self-communication of God to the individual person. A person possessing the beatific vision reaches, as a member of redeemed humanity in the communion of saints, perfect salvation in its entirety, i.e. heaven. The notion of vision stresses the intellectual component of salvation, though it encompasses the whole of human experience of joy, happiness coming from seeing God finally face to face and not imperfectly through faith..
Joseph Hergenröther was a German Church historian and canonist, and the first Cardinal-Prefect of the Vatican Archive.
Mystici corporis Christi is a papal encyclical issued by Pope Pius XII on 29 June 1943 during World War II. It is principally remembered for its statement that the Mystical Body is identical with the Roman Catholic Church, repeated by Pius XII in Humani generis (1950) in response to dissension. According to Mystici corporis, to be truly (reapse) a member of the Mystical Body one must be a member of the Roman Catholic Church. Other Christians who erred in good faith could be unsuspectingly united to the Mystical Body by an unconscious desire and longing.
The Summa Theologiae or Summa Theologica, often referred to simply as the Summa, is the best-known work of Thomas Aquinas, a scholastic theologian and Doctor of the Church. It is a compendium of all of the main theological teachings of the Catholic Church, intended to be an instructional guide for theology students, including seminarians and the literate laity. Presenting the reasoning for almost all points of Christian theology in the West, topics of the Summa follow the following cycle: God; Creation, Man; Man's purpose; Christ; the Sacraments; and back to God.
Summa and its diminutive summula was a medieval didactics literary genre written in Latin, born during the 12th century, and popularized in 13th century Europe. In its simplest sense, they might be considered texts that 'sum up' knowledge in a field, such as the compendiums of theology, philosophy and canon law. Their function during the Middle ages was largely as manuals or handbooks of necessary knowledge used by individuals who would not advance their studies any further.
Aeterni Patris was an encyclical issued by Pope Leo XIII in August 1879,. It was subtitled "On the Restoration of Christian Philosophy in Catholic Schools in the Spirit of the Angelic Doctor, St. Thomas Aquinas". The aim of the encyclical was to advance the revival of Scholastic philosophy.
Immortale Dei written in 1885 is one of five encyclicals of Pope Leo XIII on Church-State relations.
Neo-scholasticism, is a revival and development of medieval scholasticism in Roman Catholic theology and philosophy which began in the second half of the 19th century.
Giuseppe Pecci was a Jesuit Thomist theologian whose younger brother, Vincenzo, became Pope Leo XIII and appointed him a cardinal. The Neo-Thomist revival, which Leo XIII and his brother Giuseppe, Cardinal Pecci originated in 1879, remained the leading papal philosophy until Vatican II.
The Mariology of the popes is the theological study of the influence that the popes have had on the development, formulation and transformation of the Roman Catholic Church's doctrines and devotions relating to the Blessed Virgin Mary.
The history of Catholic dogmatic theology divides into three main periods: the patristic, the medieval, the modern.
People of God is a term used in the Hebrew Bible to refer to the Israelites and used in Christianity to refer to Christians.
Thomas Aquinas was an Italian Dominican friar, philosopher, Catholic priest, and Doctor of the Church. An immensely influential philosopher, theologian, and jurist in the tradition of scholasticism, he is also known within the latter as the Doctor Angelicus, the Doctor Communis, and the Doctor Universalis. The name Aquinas identifies his ancestral origins in the county of Aquino in present-day Lazio, Italy. Among other things, he was a prominent proponent of natural theology and the father of a school of thought known as Thomism. He argued that God is the source of both the light of natural reason and the light of faith. His influence on Western thought is considerable, and much of modern philosophy developed or opposed his ideas, particularly in the areas of ethics, natural law, metaphysics, and political theory.
The theology of Pope Leo XIII was influenced by the ecclesial teachings of the First Vatican Council (1869-1870), which had ended only eight years earlier. Leo issued some 46 apostolic letters and encyclicals dealing with central issues in the areas of marriage and family and state and society.
Divinum illud munus is an encyclical issued by Pope Leo XIII on May 15, 1897. In the encyclical, Leo addresses "the indwelling and miraculous power of the Holy Ghost; and the extent and efficiency of His action, both in the whole body of the Church and in the individual souls of its members, through the glorious abundance of His divine graces." As such it serves as one of the precursors to the Catholic pneumatological renaissance of the twentieth century.
Catholic ecclesiology is the theological study of the Catholic Church, its nature and organization, as described in revelation or in philosophy. Such study shows a progressive development over time. Here the focus is on the time leading into and since the Second Vatican Council (1962–1965).
The philosophy, theology, and fundamental theory of Catholic canon law are the fields of philosophical, theological (ecclesiological), and legal scholarship which concern the place of canon law in the nature of the Catholic Church, both as a natural and as a supernatural entity. Philosophy and theology shape the concepts and self-understanding of canon law as the law of both a human organization and as a supernatural entity, since the Catholic Church believes that Jesus Christ instituted the church by direct divine command, while the fundamental theory of canon law is a meta-discipline of the "triple relationship between theology, philosophy, and canon law".