In the second place, however, this Church upheld the idea of religious and ecclesiastical independence in Western Europe in the face of the tendencies, not lacking here either, towards State-omnipotence in the spiritual domain. In the Greek Church, as we saw, religion has become so intimately allied with nationality and the State that, public worship and monasticism apart, it has no room left for independent action. On Western ground it is otherwise; the religious element and the moral element bound up with it occupy an independent sphere and jealously guard it. This we owe in the main to the Roman Church.
These two facts embrace the most important piece of work which this Church achieved and in part still achieves. We have already indicated the bounds which must be set to the first. To the second also a sensible limitation attaches, and we shall see what it is as we proceed.
What are the characteristics of the Roman Church? This was our second question. Unless I am mistaken, the Church, complicated as it is, may be resolved into three chief elements. The first, Catholicism, it shares with the Greek Church. The second is the Latin spirit and the Roman World-Empire continuing in the Roman Church. The third is the spirit and religious fervour of St. Augustine. So far as the inner life of this Church is religious life and religious thought, it follows the standard which St. Augustine authoritatively fixed. Not only has he arisen again and again in his many successors, but he has awakened and kindled numbers of men who, coming forward with independent religious and theological fervour, are nevertheless spirit of his spirit.
These three elements, the Catholic, the Latin in the sense of the Roman World-Empire, and the Augustinian, constitute the peculiar character of the Roman Church.