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Catholic Dictionary




The authority of the Pope in temporal matters outside the Papal States, or now Vatican City State. Except in this territory the Pope has no mere temporal authority, possessed directly and by divine right. Yet, in virtue of his office as supreme arbiter of faith and morals, for the spiritual protection and supernatural salvation of his flock, the Pope possesses indirect temporal authority to be exercised whenever the action of secular powers threatens the eternal welfare of the faithful. In modern times the doctrine was most extensively described in the Controversies of St. Robert Bellarmine. (1542-1621).