Pius VII: The Church’s Laws are of the Deposit

The neat and fast distinction between laws and deposit is too readily, and imprudently drawn. Thus writes Pius VII, in face of pressure on the Church to change her laws, pressure from within and pressure from the State:

18. Still another deposit which We must firmly protect is that of the Church’s holy laws by which it establishes its own practice, and over which it alone has power. Under these laws, virtue and piety thrive; the spouse of Christ terrifies her enemies as an army set in battle array. Many of these laws are like foundations laid down to bear the weight of the faith, as Our predecessor St. Zosimus says.[16] There is no greater benefit or boast for kings and political leaders, as another wise and brave predecessor, St. Felix, wrote to Emperor Zeno, than “to allow the Catholic Church to enjoy its own laws and not to let anyone interfere with its liberty….For it is certain that it is beneficial for their own affairs, as God has laid down, for kings to submit their will to the priests of Christ when God’s business is in question, rather than imposing it.”