One of the mysteries of the English language finally explained.
nounthe secular arm
The legal authority of the civil power as invoked by the Church to punish offenders.
- ‘The so-called ultramontanes believed that the state should serve as the secular arm of the Church and enforce its monopoly of the truth against all rival ideologies.’
- ‘They were equivalent to the Church Militant - or secular arm - of Joan of Arc's era which carried out her public burning in Rouen's market square.’
- ‘To protect their understanding of Christian freedom, these Lutherans refused to be compelled in matters of church usages when the secular arm of authority was forcing the issue.’
- ‘In Portugal the inquisition was still releasing heretics to be burnt by the secular arm as late as 1750.’
- ‘In Western Christendom the Church of Rome exercised spiritual domination and was not reluctant to use the secular arm - that is, the civil authorities and their armies - to ensure conformity in doctrine and practice.’
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