i liinibs, came to the capital of tlie Romrnempire to proclaim the Gospel.rniring Nero’s reign, he underwent thernincnt of the cross, like his Divine Masr.rnPeter was niarhred in Nero’s circusrn• the VaHcan and buried nearby.rnAs a man, Peter lived and died like thern.’st of tlie saints and apostles; as Pope,rn• t. Peter remains at the center of thern’Inncli, through his pa,storal ministryrnnid supreme religious authoritv. St.rn’eter did not receise the promises ofrnhe pontificate for himself, but for therni^ood ot the Roman Church. Since thernChurch must last until the end of thernworld, the ministrv of Peter survived hinirnin order to safeguard the Church oer therncenturies. The pope is bishop of Romerninsofar as he is the successor of Peter, andrnis pope insofar as he is bishop of Rome.rnBut the bishop of the See of Rome isrnalso bishop of the world. The RomanrnChurch is the mother and mistress of allrnthe churehe.s of the world.rnThe pope’s primacv is his supremernpower in all of his spiritual jurisdiction,rnhis eapaeitv as head of the CatholicrnChurch, bishop of bishops, prince of pastors,rnsuccessor to St. Peter, and vicar ofrnChri.st on earth. This power is not simplyrnprimus inter pares (the first among peers),rnwhereby he would enjo’ a formal preeminencernover the otlier bishops. It is arnreal authorit extending o-er all thernmembers of the Church and —withoutrnexception —pertaining not onlv to allegiancernand respect, but to submission.rnI’he kes, the emblem of soereignty,rnhave been given to St. Peter alone, andrnthrough him to the Roman pontiff whornpossesses plenary, entire, and independentrnauthority, and haa no superior onrnearth.rnChrist might have selected anotherrnform of go’ernment, instituHng the A’isiblernChurch as a democracv or an aristocracyrnThe practical question, however, isrnnot what Christ might have done, butrnwhat Christ actualh did.rnhi a monarehv, one person possessesrnsupreme power. He has direct and immediaternrule o’er all subjects within hisrnkingdom, whether as individuals or as arnbod. Christ tempered monarchy withrnan aristocracv, so it is not in the power ofrnthe supreme ruler to abolish those inferiorrnrulers whose power w as equally of di-rnine origin. Pontificate and episcopaternboth belong to the internal eonstituhournof the invisible Church. Neither canrncease to exist it the Church is to endurernas insHtuted b- Christ. Pontificate withoutrnepiscopate would not consfitute thernChurch; nor would episcopate withoutrnpontificate.rnPlenitude of power to rule a society ofrnmen includes legislative power, judicialrnpower, and coercive power. Legislativernpower is the authorit}- to make the laws byrnwhich a socieh,’ is goerned. If laws arernuniversal, they can be made only by arnuniversal or supreme ruler. If laws arernparticular—binding onlv a part of societ}’rn—they may be made by the ruler whornhas the power to govern that part. Thernsupreme ponfiff alone, as universal ruler,rnhas power to make a miiversal law, tornbind the universal Church. It is not inrnthe power either of any individual bishop,rnor of all the bishops in one body, tornmake a universal law. Church councilsrnare called by the pope, and the popernmust promulgate their conclusions beforernthev become laws of the Church.rnP,ver’ bishop is, nevertheless, a lawgiverrnwithin his own limits. He has jurisdictionrnover his subjects, and his jurisdictionrnincludes the legislative authority byrnwhich his flock is to be goerned. He hasrnneither the right nor the authority tornmake a law to govern other flocks, nor tornmake a universal law.rnjudicial power is a necessary consequencernof legislative power because, inrnthe applicafion of law s, there may be controversy.rnFor the decision of a controversy,rnthere must be a judge. All judges arernnot equal in their judicial authoritv. Thernsentence of a lower judge may be appealedrnto a higher judge; the judgment ofrna supreme judge is, however, a peremptoryrnjudgment, from which there can bernno appeal. Bishops are therefore truernjudges, but noisupreme; their judgmentsrnarc true judgments, although fiiey are notrnperemptor)’. They may be reversed on appealrnto higher judges whose judgmentsrnmay, in turn, be reversed on final appealrnto the sovereign pontiff who is, by insfitutionrnof Christ, the supreme judge fromrnwhose judgment there is no appeal.rnSedes Apostolica a nemine judicatur—ihernApostolic See is, and can be, judged b’rnno man.rnA ruler of men must also have coercivernpower; otherwise, laws will be made inrnvain, and the exeeufion of judgments willrnnot be secured. A law must have its sanctionrnin a riireatened punishment, and hernwho threatens must have the power to inflict.rnThis power, as it is a power to bind,rnis possessed by the ponfiff because it was,rnin its fullness, bestowed on Peter.rnBishops also possess coercive power;rnbut, like their legislative and judicialrnpowers, it has limits. Even within thosernlimits, it is dependent on the power thatrnis independent and supreme. The ponfifPsrnpower is independent of every otherrnpower on earth. Wliat he binds on earth,rnno man can loose; what he looses onrnearth, no man can bind. Christ gave thernKeys of His Kingdom—the visible Churchrnon earth —to the ponfifieate, not flie episcopate.rnThese principles were proclaimedrna dogma of the Catholic faifli byrnPius IX at the First Vatican Council inrn1870. This proclamation came to assumernparamount importance, enablingrnPius’s successors to fend off attempts tornbehead the Church of her supreme aufliorityrnand to turn her into a democraticrnand egalitarian ecclesiastical society.rnUnderstanding the significance ofrnpontifical sovereignty is important notrnonly for Catholics, but for all who valuernauthorit)’ and order—especially today, inrna world sinking into chaos. We face anrnimpreeedented offensive against the sovereigntyrnof nation-states and, indeed, thernprinciple of sovereignty’ itself Clobalizationrnand separatist movements join forcesrnin dismantling nation-states, which arernseen as transitional historical phenomena,rnbound to disappear. This process appliesrnto the Church as well, where progressiverntheologians argue fliat pontificalrnprimacv is an expression of an outdatedrnconcept of sovereignty. The papacy andrnthe Church, thev assert, need demoerafiernand egalitarian reform; the monarchicalrnand hierarchical structure of the Churchrnshould go the way of the vanishing nation-rnstates.rnSfill, the principle of sovereignt)’ flowsrndirecfly from human nature; neither politicalrnnor ecelesiasfical society may renomieernthis principle without falling intornanarch) and chaos.rnThe liturgy and ritual of the Church —rntile visible expressions of her life—are todavrnoften neglected and unappreciatedrnwithin the Catholic Church; nonetheless,rnthey help us comprehend morerndeepl)- not only the relevance of thernChurch’s eternal message, but the significancernof the principles and institufionsrnon which civil societ)’ is founded.rnRoberto de Mattei, a professor of historyrnat the University of Monte Cassino, isrnthe author of eight books, most recentlyrnPio IX. This article is drawn from arnspeech he delivered at The RockfordrnInstitute’s January’ 2001 Convivium inrnRome.rnMAY 2001/43rnrnrn