The leader of House of Commons, Jacob Rees-Mogg, has recited a verse from the Gospel of Luke after being asked to conduct a review into the restrictions imposed on places of worship during the second Covid-19 lockdown.
Responding to remarks made by Conservative MP Christian Wakeford recognising the efforts made my places of worship "to protect the health and wellbeing of worshippers" at this time, Rees-Mogg recited a phrase taken from Luke 22:38 to elaborate on the complexities of the relationship between Church and State.
"The relationship between Church and state has not always been smooth," Rees-Mogg said. "It was a great matter for discussion by medieval scholars, who concentrated on Luke 22:38: 'there are two swords'. The question is which sword is superior—the spiritual sword or the temporal sword. The temporal authorities often think that the temporal sword is the superior sword."
He continued: "The ecclesiastical authorities were very happy to argue with that, and Pope Boniface VIII put it at its highest level in his 1302 papal bull 'Unam Sanctam', which claimed that all secular authorities were secondary to the spiritual authorities. We have seen this argument rage over the centuries, with greater powers taken by the state and then freedom of religion reasserting itself."
Rees-Mogg further stated that his colleague had raised "a point of fundamental importance" by questioning the current restrictions and further argued that the authority of God must always be enthroned above that of the state.
"The hope that we may all take—the reassurance that those of us who have faith may be certain of—is that the highest authority is unquestionably immortal, invisible and only wise, and even outside the control of the House of Commons," he declared.