Does the social teaching of the Catholic Church contain the modernized elements of the medieval doctrina de duo gladi?

Dmytro Honcharenko


The purpose of the medieval Catholic political and theological doctrine of the "two swords" was to ground the thesis of the supremacy of the pope's authority over political power, and this enabled the spiritual institute to claim on the issues of secular and state character. However, as a result of reform processes in Europe, the doctrine of the "two swords" has been minimized but it assumes that certain elements of the doctrine could be preserved till our time and used by the Church in a time-adapted form. The solution of this problem is based on the study of the social doctrines of the Roman Catholic Church, as far as it is the Catholic social doctrine that has absorbed a number of secular issues, and this enables the Church to influence on civil society by addressing problems in the economic, political and social realms. As the Doctrine of the Two Swords contained a political component, the main focus of the article is made on the study of the theoretical and practical steps of the Roman Catholic Church in the diplomatic and geopolitical arena which in some ways may be consistent with the provisions of medieval doctrine. However, by paying attention to the socio-political aspects, the Church reserves the right to exercise moral and ethical control over both society and government, thereby demonstrating that the spiritual institute obtains an important role in shaping the architecture of the modern world. Therefore, the purpose of the article is to investigate Catholic social doctrine and to identify its elements that can be interpreted as a modern realization of the medieval "two swords" theory.


Catholic Church; Doctrine; «two swords»; Diplomacy; Catholic Social Doctrine; Pontiff; Geopolitics; State; Politics

Full Text:



Aronov, E. and Gostev, A. (2015). Big politics of the pope. Radio Freedom. Retrieved from (In Russian).

Chetverykova, O. N. (2011). Changes to the Vatican, or the Pope's Conspiracy against Christianity. Moscow: Eksmo (In Russian).

Compendium of the Social Doctrine of the Church (2008). Kyiv: Kairos (In Ukrainian).

Filippov, B. (2017). Cardinal Stefan Wyszyński - Initiator and Critic of Vatican's “Eastern Policy”, 1945-1978. Hosudarstvo, relyhyia, tserkov v Rossii i za rubezhom, 35(1): 98-122. DOI: (In Russian).

Golubiev, K. (2012). The positioning of Catholic social doctrine in the encyclicals of Pope Ivan Paul II. Khristianskoe chtenie (Christian reading), 6: 95-130 (In Russian).

Kanevskyi, K. (2003). The Social Doctrine of the Catholic Church. «Rossyiskaia yustytsyia» (Russian justice). 4. Retrieved from (In Russian).

Kondrusevych, T. (2005). Church and State in the Teachings of the Catholic Church. Svoboda sovesti v Rossii: istoricheskij i sovremennyj aspekty (Freedom of conscience in Russia: historical and modern aspects), 2. Retrieved from (In Russian).

Leo XIII (1891). Rerum Novarum. Libreria Editrice Vaticana: the Holy See. Retrieved from

Ratnikov, A. (2014). Word and Deal: How did the Pope influence politics? RBC. December 18. Retrieved from (In Russian).

Sardarian, H. T. (2016). The liberal reversal of Catholic social doctrine during the pontificate of Leo XIII. Pravo i polytyka (Law and politics), 11: 1433-1439. DOI: (In Russian).

Sardarian, H. T. (2017). Political Doctrine of Pope John XXIII. Polytyka i Obshchestvo (Politics and Society), 11: 155-162. DOI: (In Russian).

Yarotskyi, P. (2001). Features of the development of social teaching of Catholicism. Ukrainske relihiieznavstvo (Ukrainian Religious Studies), 20, 55-63 (In Ukrainian).

Yevdokymova, T. (2000). Christian Social Teaching: Dialogue with the Modern World. Ukrainske relihiieznavstvo (Ukrainian Religious Studies), 15: 13-22 (In Ukrainian).

GOST Style Citations

Аронов Е., Гостев А. Большая политика папы. Радио Свобода: веб-сайт. URL: (Дата обращения: 29.12.2019).

Голубев К., диак. Позиционирование католического социального учения в энцикликах папы римского Ивана Павла II. Христианское чтение. 2012. № 6. С. 95-130.

Євдокимова Т. Християнське соціальне вчення: діалог з сучасним світом. Українське релігієзнавство. 2000. № 15. С. 13-22.

Каневский К. Социальная доктрина Католической церкви. Российская юстиция. 2003. № 4. URL: (Дата обращения 27.05.2019).

Компендіум Соціальної доктрини Церкви. Київ: Кайрос, 2008. 549 с.

Кондрусевич Т., митрополит. Церковь и государство в Учении католической церкви. Свобода совести в России: исторический и современный аспекты. 2005. Выпуск № 2. URL: (Дата обращения: 16.09.2019).

Ратников А. Слово и дело: как папы римские влияли на политику? РБК: веб-сайт. 18.12.2014. URL: (Дата обращения: 15.10.2019).

Сардарян Г. Т. Либеральный разворот католического социального учения в период понтификата Льва XIII. Право и политика. 2016. № 11. С. 1433-1439. DOI:

Сардарян Г. Т. Политическая доктрина Папы Иоанна XXIII. Политика и Общество. 2017. № 11. С. 155-162. DOI:

Филиппов Б. Кардинал Стефан Вышиньский - инициатор и критик «восточной политики» Ватикана. Государство, религия, церковь в России и за рубежом. 2017. № 1. С. 98-122. DOI:

Четверикова О. Н. Измена в Ватикане, или Заговор пап против христианства. Москва: Эксмо, 2011. 240 с.

Яроцький П. Особливості розвитку соціального вчення католицизму. Українське релігієзнавство. 2001. № 20. С. 55-63.

Leo XIII. Rerum Novarum (15.05.1891). Libreria Editrice Vaticana: the Holy See. URL: (Retrieved from 03.05.2019).

Copyright (c) 2020 Dmytro Honcharenko

Creative Commons License
This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-NoDerivatives 4.0 International License.

ISSN 1728-9343 (Print)

ISSN 2411-3093 (Online)