What are the writings of St.Thomas Aquinas on papacy and church authority?

  • 2
    List of Works by Thomas Aquinas : Wiki-List of Works-Thomas Aquinas. These are, firstly, in Subject order, then, secondly, in Chronological order.
    – Nigel J
    Apr 8, 2022 at 12:04
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    This question probably needs to be more narrowly targeted. Do you have a specific question regarding Aquinas' theology of the papacy.
    – jaredad7
    Apr 8, 2022 at 14:36
  • @jaredad7 No, but I am currently studying St.Thomas Aquinas's view on various subjects.
    – Wenura
    Apr 9, 2022 at 16:41
  • 1
    @NigelJ thank you
    – Wenura
    Apr 9, 2022 at 16:42

1 Answer 1


St. Thomas did not write a treatise ex professo on the papacy or ecclesiology, like St. Robert Bellarmine did (On the Roman Pontiff, On the Church Militant), but St. Thomas did address the question in other contexts.

See St. Thomas's questions on Christ as Head of the Church (Summa Theologica III q. 8), esp. a. 6 "Whether it is proper to Christ to be Head of the Church?", where he distinguishes visible and invisible headship:

Invisible vs. visible headship

In ibid. a. 6 ("Whether it is proper to Christ to be Head of the Church?") co., St. Thomas explains that a

head influences the other members in two ways.

  1. by a certain intrinsic influence, inasmuch as motive and sensitive force flow from the head to the other members;
  2. by a certain exterior guidance, inasmuch as by sight and the senses, which are rooted in the head, man is guided in his exterior acts.

Christ the Head influences by #1, whereas the "great men, heads of the people" (Amos 6:1), such as bishops, influence by #2.

Christ's headship differs from human headship because

  1. Christ is the Head of all who pertain to the Church in every place and time and state; but all other men are called heads with reference to certain special places, as bishops of their Churches. Or with reference to a determined time as the Pope is the head of the whole Church, viz. during the time of his Pontificate, and with reference to a determined state, inasmuch as they are in the state of wayfarers.

  2. Christ is the Head of the Church by His own power and authority; while others are called heads, as taking Christ's place, according to 2 Cor. 2:10, "For what I have pardoned, if I have pardoned anything, for your sakes I have done it in the person of Christ," and 2 Cor. 5:20, "For Christ therefore we are ambassadors, God, as it were, exhorting by us."

#2 explains why a Pope is called the Vicar of Christ. "Vicar" is related to the word "vicarious," that which "takes or supplies the place of another thing or person"; a Pope represents Christ.

source: this answer to the question "Is the pope the head of the Church for Catholics?"

  • Thanks for your response
    – Wenura
    Apr 9, 2022 at 16:17

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