Joseph de Maistre published at Lyons in 1819 his masterpiece "Du Pape". The work (2 vols. in 8vo.) is divided into four parts. In the first the author proves that in the Church the pope is sovereign
, and that it is an essential characteristic of all sovereign power that that its decisions should be subject to no appeal. The doctrinal declarations of the pope are binding on man without right of appeal.
Consequently, the pope is infallible in his teaching, since it is by his teaching that he exercises his sovereignty. And in point of fact "no sovereign pontiff, speaking freely to the Church, has ever made a mistake in the matter of faith"
. In the remaining divisions of his work the author examines the relations of the pope and the temporal powers: civilization and the welfare of nations; the schismatical Churches. He establishes that nations require to be guaranteed against abuses of the power to which they are subject by a sovereignty superior to all others; now, this sovereignty can be none but the papacy, which, even in the Middle Ages, had, in fact, already saved European civilization from the barbarians.
As to the schismatical Churches, the writer thinks that they will inevitably fall into Protestantism, and from Protestantism through Socinianism into philosophic indifference. For "no religion can resist science, except one."