Definition of secular arm in US English:

secular arm


the 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.’