POPE FRANCIS - A HERETIC? CAN A POPE BECOME A HERETIC? WILLIAM OF OCKHAM 1 Dial. 5.1-5 Chapter II
CAN A POPE BECOME A HERETIC?
Student: Those authorities are enough for the said assertion. Would you therefore bring forward some examples?
Master: That a pope who enters [office] canonically can err against catholic truth is shown by many examples. Now the first example concerns blessed Peter, the chief of the apostles, whom divine providence permitted to err after he was raised to the papacy for this reason, so it seems, namely so that his successors, far inferior to him in faith, constancy and holiness, would not think that they are unable to fall into error. For blessed Paul clearly asserts that blessed Peter erred against the truth of the gospel when he says in Galatians 2[:11]. "But when Cephas was come to Antioch, I withstood him to the face, because he was to be blamed.' And that he was to be blamed because he erred against gospel truth he shows when he adds below [Gal. 2:14], "But when I saw that they walked not uprightly unto the truth of the gospel, I said to Cephas before them all, 'If thou, being a Jew, livest after the manner of Gentiles, and not as the Jews do, how dost thou compel the Gentiles to live as do the Jews?'" We are given to understand by these words that blessed Peter deviated from the truth of the gospel. That he did turn away from the faith we find in the decretals at 2, q. 7, para. Ecce, where Gratian argues, from the example of Paul rebuking Peter, that subjects can rebuke their prelates. He responds to this argument by saying that this is permitted when prelates turn away from the faith as Peter turned away. Thus he says the following at that place, "Paul rebuked Peter who was the chief of the apostles. We are given to understand by this that subjects can rebuke prelates if they have been blamable." And to this argument he responds saying, "But this is easily rebutted if we attend to why he was rebuked. Peter was forcing the Gentiles to live as do the Jews and to fall back from the truth of the gospel and he made a party with the Jews, secretly refraining from Gentile foods. But it is the same whether one turns aside from the faith oneself or one drives others away from the faith by one's example or one's words. This example does not prove, therefore, that prelates should be accused by their subjects, unless they happen to have turned away from the faith or to have forced others to turn away." [col.495] It is clear from these words that blessed Peter fell into error by not walking rightly according to the truth of the gospel.
Student: Do modern doctors maintain that blessed Peter erred against the faith?
Master: Thomas Aquinas plainly maintains this. For he says the following at 2, 2, q. 33, article 4, "... to resist someone to their face in front of everyone exceeds the proper measure of fraternal correction. And therefore Paul would not have rebuked Peter in this way unless he were in some way his equal in respect to the defence of the faith. ... It should be known, nevertheless, that when danger threatens the faith prelates should be reproved by their subjects even publicly. For this reason, that there was imminent danger of a scandal, Paul, who was subject to Peter, publicly reproved him on a matter of faith."
Student: I marvel how they presume to number blessed Peter among the heretics.
Master: You are mistaken and are attributing to them a falsity that they do not say. For they do not think that blessed Peter was a heretic, even though he erred, because he did not cling to his error pertinaciously. For at blessed Paul's correction he immediately set himself right and willingly listened to his rebuke; nor did he in any way interfere with blessed Paul's preaching of the truth.
Student: As I see it then, according to them if blessed Peter had clung pertinaciously to his error he would have been reckoned as among the heretics. So would you turn to other examples.
Master: The second example concerns blessed Pope Marcellin who erred against the faith by worshipping idols. As we find in dist. 21, c. Nunc autem [col.71], Pope Nicholas says about him, "In the time of the emperors Diocletian and Maximin, Marcellin, bishop of the city of Rome, who later became a noteworthy martyr, was put under such compulsion by pagans that he entered their temple and put grains of incense on the coals." And in his Legend we read as follows, "Marcellin was conducted to a place of sacrifice to burn incense and he did so." And we also find this in the Chronicles, "Being compelled by Diocletian he put in place incense for idols. ... 'I judge', he said, 'that I should be deposed for the crime of idolatry and I anathematise too whoever hands my body over to burial' and in tears he said, 'Alas how bitter I am that I can not remain in the priesthood.'" We gather from this that blessed Pope Marcellin erred against the faith by committing the crime of idolatry.
Student: That does not prove that blessed Marcellin erred against the faith in intention but only that when forced he committed an act of idolatry.
Master: It is true that blessed Marcellin did not err in intention by clinging to heretical wickedness, but from the fact that he denied Christ in refusing to confess that he was a Christian, we infer that he could have erred in intention and could have become a heretic just as he became an idolater.
Student: Tell me some other examples.
Master: A third example given concerns Pope Liberius who, as we clearly read in the chronicles, agreed with the perfidy of Arianism
Student: We do not read that Liberius agreed with the Arians when he was a true pope, but only after he renounced the papacy.
Master: They say that no pope can err pertinaciously against the faith while he remains pope because from the fact that he errs pertinaciously against the faith he is by right deprived of the papacy even if in fact he were behaving as pope; and they do not mean, therefore, that a pope can become a heretic while he remains pope but that he can be a true pope at first and later become a heretic. This happened to Liberius who was first a true pope and later became a heretic. It is inessential that he renounced the papacy first, for he could have become a heretic even if he had never renounced the papacy.
Student: Are there more examples?
Master: A fourth example is cited concerning Anastasius II who was repudiated by the Roman church because of heretical wickedness. We read as follows about him in the decretals at dist. 19, [c.9; col.64], "Anastasius II, a Roman by birth, lived in the time of King Theodoric. At that time many clerics renounced communion with him because, without seeking advice from bishops or presbyters and the whole catholic church, he had had dealings with a deacon of the church at Thessalonica, named Fotinus, who had associated with Achacius, and because he secretly wanted to recall Achacius and could not do so he was struck down by God's command", because, as the gloss says [s. v. divino, col.87] (it is taken from the chronicles), "While he was at stool his intestines burst out." It is clear from this that Anastasius was defiled with heretical wickedness, on account of which catholic clerics laudably renounced communion with him.
Student: We do not learn from this that Anastasius was a heretic but that he had dealings with a heretic, that is with Fotinus. But many people who have dealings with heretics should not be considered heretics.
Master: He had dealings with heretics and was pertinacious in his crime. So the gloss says that "this man participated in wrong-doing", that is in heresy, and was therefore a heretic because he knowingly participated in a heresy condemned by the church. This is clear from the fact that he wanted to recall Achacius whom he knew to be condemned by the church for a heresy already condemned, and so Anastasius himself had knowingly agreed with an assertion which he knew was condemned; therefore he was to be regarded as a heretic.
Student: It is clear enough from the chronicles and the glosses on the decretals that Anastasius was a heretic, and so would you cite another example.
Master: The fifth example is brought forward not to prove that a pope has in fact fallen into error, but to show that the pope can become a heretic and be accused of heretical wickedness. For, as we read in the decretals at 2, q. 7, c. Item cum Balaam [col.496], the Roman synod decreed that Pope Symachus should reply to the reproaches of his accusers. So we find the following at that place, "Having been deprived of [the regalia] of his dignity in the Roman synod, Pope Symachus is ordered to be returned to his former state that he might come to defend himself and, if it seemed properly done in this way, to reply to the representations of his accusers. The matter seemed worthy of the greatest number of priests and was deserving of this process; when it was later being arranged how he should be called to account the pope got up to plead his case, but was impeded by his rivals." We gather from these words that Pope Symachus was arraigned and was able to be arraigned on the judgement of the synod. The gloss on dist. 17, para. Hinc etiam explains on what charge he was arraigned when it says [s. v. immunia, col.72] that Pope Symachus "was first arraigned for heresy but when the false accusation of his accuser became clear he was later absolved." It is clear from this, therefore, that the synod reckoned that Pope Symachus was able to be accused of heresy; and consequently a pope can become a heretic.
[See Significant Variants, para. 28.] A sixth example is brought forth concerning Leo whom blessed Hilary, bishop of Poitiers, convicted of error. There are opinions about him, nevertheless, with some people saying that he was never a true pope but only a usurper of the papacy and others saying that he was a true pope before he slipped into heresy.
A seventh example cited to prove that a pope can become a heretic concerns Sylvester II of whom we read that he did homage to the devil and also consulted him when he was actually pope; they affirm from this that hewas able to become a heretic because anyone who invokes or worships demons and keeps pestilential company with them is able to incur heretical wickedness.
The eighth example concerns several highest pontiffs maintaining opposed assertions about matters concerning faith, that is John XXII on the one hand and Nicholas III and very many others on the other hand, who defined an agreed opinion on the poverty of Christ and his apostles or approved one defined by others, an opinion which the aforesaid John XXII clearly rejects. We infer from this that because one of them erred in the faith, either John XXII or Nicholas III should be regarded as a heretic. For whichever of them erred by defining his error solemnly and constraining others to hold it adhered to his error pertinaciously; therefore one of them should be adjudged a heretic.
Again, they cite the example of Innocent III and the same John XXII, one of whom erred in the faith. For as we read in Extra, De celebracione missarum, c. Cum Marthe [col.636], Innocent III states and asserts clearly that the saints in heaven are perfectly blessed, that everything prospers for them according to their wishes and that, as a consequence, they see God. Again, in his book, De contemptu mundi, Innocent propounds as dogma that the souls of the condemned are now in hell where they are being severely punished. John XXII teaches and preaches, however, that the souls of the saints do not see God and that the souls of the condemned are not in hell and will not be punished before the day of general judgement. Since contradictory propositions can not be true at the same time, it is therefore certain that one of them has erred, and so it is quite clear that a pope can err.
Next the example of John XXII and blessed Gregory is cited. For as is clear from his book, Dialogues, blessed Gregory believed that the souls of the saints in heaven see God and that the souls of the condemned are being punished in hell. Because John XXII denies both these [statements], one of them has erred.
Then they give the example of John XXII and many other highest pontiffs who disagree with each other about the contingency of events. For John XXII teaches as dogma and preaches that everything happens of necessity because everything has been preordained by God; but God's ordinance can not be prevented. Whence and for this reason he expressly maintains in his constitution, Quia vir reprobus, that Christ, as a man, could not have renounced a temporal kingdom and universal lordship of things because he would have acted against the Father's ordinance. For this reason too he rejects and opposes the theologians' distinction between God's absolute and ordinate power. For the same reason he also says that God has necessarily, and not contingently, predestined the elect to eternal life and so he plainly maintains that everything happens of necessity. Yet many highest pontiffs deny this. For as we find in dist. 86, c. Facientis [col.298], Pope John VIII says, "He who fails to amend what he is able to correct undoubtedly shares the blame of the one acting." We clearly gather from these words that sometimes someone does not correct those whom he should correct; and so he is able to correct and able not to correct; therefore not everything happens of necessity.
Again, as we find in dist. 83, c. Consentire [col.294], Pope Gregory says, "He who does not attend to the curtailing of those things which should be corrected seems to be in agreement with the one who errs." We are given to understand by these words that it is possible for someone not to correct what nevertheless he ought [to correct]; and as a consequence he is able to correct and he is able not to correct.
Again, as we find in Extra, De hereticis, c. Qui alios [col.778], Pope Leo says, "He who does not call others back from error when he can do so", etc.
Again, as we find in 2, q. 7, c. Negligere [col.501], Pope Eleutherius says, "To neglect to disturb the wicked when you can do so is indeed nothing other than to favour them."
Again, as we find in Extra, De sententia excommunicationis, c. Quante [col.909], Innocent III says, "Catholic authority condemns those who act and those who agree with them to be punished with the same penalty, inferring that those who fail to oppose manifest villainy when they can do so are favouring the villains."
Again, as we find in dist. 83, c. Error [col.293], Pope Innocent uses the same words as Eleutherius, saying, "To neglect to disturb the wicked when you can", etc.
Again, as we find in the same dist. para. 1 [col.293], Pope Symachus says, "For he is proved to inflict death on the weak who does not prevent this when he can." See! Seven highest pontiffs implicitly and explicitly affirm clearly that someone is able to do something that he does not do. Many other popes assert this implicitly in their writings; and, as a consequence, according to them not everything happens of necessity, as John XXII affirms. Therefore, either he has erred or they have erred, and it is certain that this [question] touches on faith. Therefore some highest pontiff has erred against the faith.
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