Sanctum Unum (“One Church”)
Many moons ago I has said to a couple of people that I would post my personal opinion of Sanctum Unum - once I was done studying it and its context - and let it simmer.
Below - is only my opinion - and I am not a theologian nor do I have any authority what so
The entire Bull (letter) is not - infallible. The only infallible statement is the very last line (‘we define and pronounce‘) while the entire preceding portion is a ‘we believe and hold’ (fallable) thing and is used as general interpretation of pertinent history and gospel based allegory - with clear intent to set the stage for the concluding infallable pronouncement.
It is well known that the Bull (letter from office of the Pontiff) was issued in responce to the imminent possibility of a forced temporal division of the church in France. This then should be its major context.
The cause for the letter is King Phillip of France who is planning to cut French Catholic’s off from their Roman Bishop (which is also the Universal Pontiff ) by civil force and decree - by appropriating the Catholic Church within France to a French national Catholic church with the King as its supreme head.
The portion which states “that outside of her there is no salvation nor remission of sins,” has the meaning “There are no valid sacraments outside of proper apostolic church authority nor is there any valid Confession (‘remission of sins‘).”
To any member of the church at the peak of Christendom - the ‘remission of sin’ is only one thing - it is the sacrement of confession - the pre-requisite (conditioning of conscience) to all sacrements.
The early council statement akin to this would be “There is no salvation outside of the church” and Council use is clearly using “salvation” to specifically mean sacraments.
At the same time these same early Councils clearly affirmed and continued the traditional Old Testament view of the “the righteousness gentile” in that God can and does sanctify and justify people who are not members of the Church and do not have access to the sacraments. And so a meaning of “there is no sanctification except as a member of the church” in not warranted either in Councils nor in this Bull.
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Early Council jargon and phrase….
“salvation” = the sacraments (mysteries) given to the church as means of its members to sanctification.
“remission of sins” = Confession - a preparation of conscience for all other sacraments.
Sanctification or justification = the process of being on the way to union with God.
“righteousness” = justification or sanctification - a union with God.
“outside the church” = members of the church
who are currently in excommunication (not in community)
To the mind of the Councils - the sacrements (salvation) and sanctification (righteousness) joined (one thing) when the context is within the Church. But separated (two separate things) when the context is the rest of the world (non-members).
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Jesus himself pointed out the justification and sanctification of the good Samaritan (a non-member who did take compassion) as opposed to the legitimate member par-excellence (the temple priest) who passed on the other side of the road. And so there is justification and sanctification for non-members. Conversely - membership and sacraments are not a guarantee to a personal sanctification.
The church has always made good conscience a pre-requisite for the effectiveness of the reception of grace (sacrements).
Further, the paraphrased formula: “No salvation (sacrements) outside the church." when used in Councils applies to church members only. Those who, while being church members, have willfully and defiantly separated themselves from authentic apostolic Church authority are also sperated from valid sacrements.
The Pontifical letter continues it main and central theme that there can not be two separate, and both authentic, churches. The Church is one (Sanctum Unum)- and established by Christ through apostolic authority.
Hence the name of the letter Sanctum Unum ('One Church') has the meaning of = "One authentic Church - not two".
The letter then turns to an allegorical theme of two swords… two powers. A spiritual sword (the power of the gospels and church) and a temporal sword (allegorical for Kings, emperors, and civil governing). And that the Church is the greater (has authority over the temporal) and not the other way around. Temporal authorities should be pro-church (“for the [moral authority of the] church“). Temporal (civil) authority is subject to (subordinate and judged by) the higher moral authority of the Church.
In preparation for the infallible definition - the letter reminds that the Papacy has the authority to “bind on earth and it will be bound in heaven” that moral authority is from Christ himself - and temporal authority has no say about it.
The very last line contains the only infallible statement of the entire letter (“this we declare, say, define, and pronounce”) and the infallible pronouncement is essentially a re-statement of, and contemporary definition of: “what you shall bind on earth is bound in heaven”
Furthermore, that every human creature is subject to the Roman pontiff,—this we declare, say, define, and pronounce to be altogether necessary to salvation.
“Every human creature is subject to the Roman pontiff.”
(““what you shall bind on earth is bound in heaven”)
And is limited to the desposit of faith (divine revelation) and moral matters precedeing from that desposit (matters of conscience).
In summation… I would consider that this letter is not so much a ‘new’ definition of the infallibility of the Pope but is rather a use of that existing infallibility - to establish a more current and contextual (Phillip) re-assertion of the definition of itself as also being inseperable from the church.
“to be altogether necessary to salvation.” has a meaning of “to be absolutely indivisible to the church”. Without this essential ingredient - there is no church. If you replace the Pope with the King - what the king has is not the authentic church - it is a sham. No two ways about it.
Final summation - THE - infallible declaration!!! - In paraphrase -.The spiritual and moral authority of the Roman Pontiff, over all humans, cannot be separated from the church nor replace by temporal powers.
(so...'take that!' You Phillip! you Phillip - you!!) An excellent public and pre-emptive strike for what Phillip was planning to do.
(these are my opinions only)