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 canon law.
Latin is a classical language belonging to the Italic branch of the Indo-European languages. The Latin alphabet is derived from the Etruscan and Greek alphabets and ultimately from the Phoenician alphabet.
Political philosophy, also known as political theory, is the study of topics such as politics, liberty, justice, property, rights, law, and the enforcement of laws by authority: what they are, if they are needed, what makes a government legitimate, what rights and freedoms it should protect, what form it should take, what the law is, and what duties citizens owe to a legitimate government, if any, and when it may be legitimately overthrown, if ever.
The Catholic Church, also known as the Roman Catholic Church, is the largest Christian church, with approximately 1.3 billion baptised Catholics worldwide as of 2017. As the world's "oldest continuously functioning international institution", it has played a prominent role in the history and development of Western civilisation. The church is headed by the Bishop of Rome, known as the Pope. Its central administration, the Holy See, is in the Vatican City, an enclave within the city of Rome in Italy.
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.
Politics is a work of political philosophy by Aristotle, a 4th-century BC Greek philosopher.
Aristotle was an ancient Greek philosopher and scientist born in the city of Stagira, Chalkidiki, Greece. Along with Plato, he is considered the "Father of Western Philosophy". Aristotle provided a complex and harmonious synthesis of the various existing philosophies prior to him, including those of Socrates and Plato, and it was above all from his teachings that the West inherited its fundamental intellectual lexicon, as well as problems and methods of inquiry. As a result, his philosophy has exerted a unique influence on almost every form of knowledge in the West and it continues to be central to the contemporary philosophical discussion.
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):
Medieval philosophy is a term used to refer to the philosophy that existed through the Middle Ages, the period roughly extending from the fall of the Western Roman Empire in the 5th century to the Renaissance in the 15th century. Medieval philosophy, understood as a project of independent philosophical inquiry, began in Baghdad, in the middle of the 8th century, and in France, in the itinerant court of Charlemagne, in the last quarter of the 8th century. It is defined partly by the process of rediscovering the ancient culture developed in Greece and Rome during the Classical period, and partly by the need to address theological problems and to integrate sacred doctrine with secular learning.
Saint Thomas Aquinas was an Italian Dominican friar, Catholic priest, and Doctor of the Church. He was an immensely influential philosopher, theologian, and jurist in the tradition of scholasticism, within which he is also known as the Doctor Angelicus and the Doctor Communis. The name Aquinas identifies his ancestral origins in the county of Aquino in present-day Lazio, Italy.
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.
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:
The Age of Enlightenment was an intellectual and philosophical movement that dominated the world of ideas in Europe during the 18th century, the "Century of Philosophy".
An encyclical was originally a circular letter sent to all the churches of a particular area in the ancient Roman Church. At that time, the word could be used for a letter sent out by any bishop. The word comes from Late Latin encyclios.
Immortale Dei written in 1885 is one of five encyclicals of Pope Leo XIII on Church-State relations.
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.
The Second Ecumenical Council of the Vatican, commonly known as the Second Vatican Council or Vatican II, addressed relations between the Catholic Church and the modern world. The council, through the Holy See, was formally opened under the pontificate of Pope John XXIII on 11 October 1962 and was closed under Pope Paul VI on the Solemnity of the Immaculate Conception on 8 December 1965.
The 1983 Code of Canon Law, also called the Johanno-Pauline Code, is the "fundamental body of ecclesiastical laws for the Latin Church". It is the second and current comprehensive codification of canonical legislation for the Latin Church sui iuris of the Catholic Church. It was promulgated on 25 January 1983 by John Paul II and took legal effect on the First Sunday of Advent 1983. It replaced the 1917 Code of Canon Law, promulgated by Benedict XV on 27 May 1917.
People of God is a description that in the Old Testament or Hebrew Bible applies to the Israelites and that the New Testament applies to Christians. Within the Catholic Church, it has been given greater prominence because of its employment in documents of the Second Vatican Council (1962–1965).
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:
Pope Saint Paul VI was head of the Catholic Church and sovereign of the Vatican City State from 21 June 1963 to his death in 1978. Succeeding John XXIII, he continued the Second Vatican Council which he closed in 1965, implementing its numerous reforms, and fostered improved ecumenical relations with Eastern Orthodox and Protestant churches, which resulted in many historic meetings and agreements. Montini served in the Holy See's Secretariat of State from 1922 to 1954. While in the Secretariat of State, Montini and Domenico Tardini were considered as the closest and most influential advisors of Pius XII, who in 1954 named him Archbishop of Milan, the largest Italian diocese. Montini later became the Secretary of the Italian Bishops' Conference. John XXIII elevated him to the College of Cardinals in 1958, and after the death of John XXIII, Montini was considered one of his most likely successors.
In law, motu proprio describes an official act taken without a formal request from another party. Some jurisdictions use the term sua sponte for the same concept.
Sollicitudo omnium ecclesiarum was a papal bull issued in 1814 by Pope Pius VII, reestablishing the Society of Jesus (Jesuits) after its suppression by the 1773 bull issued by Clement XIV, Dominus ac Redemptor. Nevertheless, the order continued to exist in some places. Pius VII had earlier, with the brief Catholicae Fidei, approved the existence of the Society of Jesus in Russia. The Vicar General, Franciszek Kareu, was declared "Superior General of the Jesuits in Russia."
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 head of the Catholic Church from 20 February 1878 to his death. He was the oldest pope, and had the third-longest confirmed pontificate, behind that of Pius IX and John Paul II.
In Christian theology, ecclesiology is the study of the Christian Church, the origins of Christianity, its relationship to Jesus, its role in salvation, its polity, its discipline, its destiny, and its leadership.
The Summa contra Gentiles is one of the best-known books by St Thomas Aquinas, written during c. 1259–1265.
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 most well-known works. In theology, his Summa Theologica is one of the most influential documents in medieval theology and continues to be the central point of reference for the philosophy and theology of the Catholic Church. In the 1914 encyclical Doctoris Angelici Pope Pius X cautioned that the teachings of the Church cannot be understood without the basic philosophical underpinnings of Aquinas' major theses:
The capital theses in the philosophy of St. Thomas are not to be placed in the category of opinions capable of being debated one way or another, but are to be considered as the foundations upon which the whole science of natural and divine things is based; if such principles are once removed or in any way impaired, it must necessarily follow that students of the sacred sciences will ultimately fail to perceive so much as the meaning of the words in which the dogmas of divine revelation are proposed by the magistracy of the Church.
Joseph Hergenröther was a German Church historian and canonist, and the first Cardinal-Prefect of the Vatican Archives.
Mystici corporis Christi is a papal encyclical issued by Pope Pius XII during World War II, on the Church as the Mystical Body of Christ. It is one of the more important encyclicals of Pope Pius XII, because of its topic, the Church, and because its Church concept was fully included in Lumen gentium but also strongly debated during and after Vatican II. The Church is called body, because it is a living entity; it is called the body of Christ, because Christ is its Head and Founder; it is called mystical body, because it is neither a purely physical nor a purely spiritual unity, but supernatural.
The Summa Theologiae is the best-known work of Thomas Aquinas. Although unfinished, the Summa is "one of the classics of the history of philosophy and one of the most influential works of Western literature." It is intended as an instructional guide for theology students, including seminarians and the literate laity. It is a compendium of all of the main theological teachings of the Catholic Church. It presents the reasoning for almost all points of Christian theology in the West. The Summa's topics follow a cycle: God; Creation, Man; Man's purpose; Christ; the Sacraments; and back to God.
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.
Subsistit in is a Latin phrase, which appears in the eighth paragraph of Lumen gentium, a landmark document of the Second Vatican Council of the Catholic Church:
This Church constituted and organized in the world as a society, subsists in the Catholic Church, which is governed by the successor of Peter and by the Bishops in communion with him, although many elements of sanctification and of truth are found outside of its visible structure. These elements, as gifts belonging to the Church of Christ, are forces impelling toward catholic unity.
Haec Ecclesia, in hoc mundo ut societas constituta et ordinata, subsistit in Ecclesia catholica, a successore Petri et Episcopis in eius communione gubernata, licet extra eius compaginem elementa plura sanctificationis et veritatis inveniantur, quae ut dona Ecclesiae Christi propria, ad unitatem catholicam impellunt.
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 history of Catholic Mariology traces theological developments and views regarding Mary from the early Church to the 21st century. Mariology is a mainly Catholic ecclesiological study within theology, which centers on the relation of Mary and the Church. Catholic Mariology is the encyclopedic area of theology concerned with Mary, the Mother of God. Theologically, it not only deals with her life, but her veneration in daily life, prayer, art, music, architecture, in modern and ancient Christianity throughout the ages.
The history of Catholic dogmatic theology divides into three main periods: the patristic, the medieval, the modern.
Double-truth theory is the view that religion and philosophy, as separate sources of knowledge, might arrive at contradictory truths without detriment to either.
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.
The ecclesiology of the Catholic Church is the area of Catholic theology covering the ecclesiology -- the nature, structure, and constitution -- of the Catholic Church itself on a metaphysical and revealed level.
The philosophy, theology, and fundamental theory of 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".