John Kilcullen

In making this analysis I have consulted Pierre D'Ailly's Abbreviatio (Ian Murdoch, Critical Edition of Pierre D'Ailly's "Abbreviatio dyalogi okan", Ph D thesis Monash University, 1981).

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Is it for Canonists, or theologians, to decide what is heresy?

Who best understands the content of canon law?

Who are the experts in deciding which individuals are heretics?

Who decides whether someone is pertinacious?


What are Catholic truths?

What is a heresy?

How many kinds of heresies are there?

Has every heresy been condemned already?

Condemnation by authorities inferior to pope or council

On what basis can pope or council condemn a heresy?

Must condemnation include the word "heretical" or the like explicitly?

Is a pope at fault if he does not condemn the errors of theologians?

Should an ignorant pope condemn on the advice of experts?

Can the pope condemn errors that are not heresies?


Who should be regarded as a Catholic?

Who should be regarded as a heretic?


What is the definition of "pertinacious"?

Mental pertinacity

How establish from external behaviour a presumption that someone is pertinacious?

Legitimate correction (chs 15-24)


Can a pope become a heretic?

Can the cardinals become heretics?

Can the Roman Church become heretical?

How did the Roman Church become ruler of the other Churches?

Can the Roman Church become heretical? (resumed)

Can a general council become heretical?

Can all the clergy become heretics?

Can all male Christians become heretics?

Can the whole congregation of believers become heretics?


The Student wants the work to be a "Summa" in dialogue form of the matters currently in controversy among Christians about the Christian faith. He wants it to be divided into three parts, "On heretics", "On the teachings of John XXII", "On the deeds of those disputing about the faith". He wants various opinions to be presented, including the Master's own, but he does not want the Master to indicate which opinion is his, so that readers will not be influenced by friendship or enmity. Though he should conceal his own opinion, the Master should report answers to the arguments supporting the various opinions--not necessarily his own answers, but answers that others give or could give, including answers that may sometimes be only plausible, not conclusive.

Part 1 will be divided into seven Books, with the following topics: (1) To whom, theologians or canonists, does it chiefly belong to define which assertions should be regarded as catholic and which as heretical, and who should be regarded as heretics and who as catholics? (2) Which assertions should be considered heretical and which catholic? (3) Who should be counted among heretics? (4) How should anyone be convicted of pertinacity and heretical wickedness? (5) Who can become a heretic? Book (6) will discuss the punishment of heretics, and especially of the pope if he becomes a heretic, and Book (7) will discuss those who believe, favour, defend and harbour heretics.


Is it for Canonists, or for theologians, to decide what is heresy?

Chapter 1. "Decide" here means not decide authoritatively, but as teachers or experts.

FIRST OPINION Deciding what is heresy is the business chiefly of canonists. Arguments: (1) The science of the Canonists treats of the approval of Catholic truths and disapproval of heresies. (2) The Church, which produces the science of the canonists, should be believed more than the gospel (Augustine "would not have believed the gospel unless the authority of the Church had compelled him"). (3) The pope, who is the author of the science of the canonists, appoints the creed and distinguishes articles of faith.

Chapter 2. SECOND OPINION Deciding what is heresy is chiefly the business of theologians. Arguments: (1) Only what is opposed to theology is heresy--non-theological errors are not heresies. (2) Theology hands on the rule of orthodox faith explicitly and completely, canon law only incompletely and by borrowing from theology. (3) When a superior science and an inferior science both investigate the one topic, the topic belongs chiefly to the superior science. Theology and Canon Law both investigate heresy, but theology is the superior science. (4) More Catholic truths are investigated explicitly under their own form in theology. (5) The apostles taught Catholic truths and rejected heresies before canon law existed, and they did this as theologians. (6) Every other science yields in respect of matters of faith to sacred Scripture [the Bible], the science of which is theology, as the canons themselves say. (7) Our faith comes from God, God is the direct author of Scripture, theology is the science of Scripture. (8) Nothing to be added to or removed from Scripture, of which Theology is the science [so no other science can add or remove anything for belief].

Chapter 3. Answers to the arguments of chapter 1. (The Master does not give his own answers, but reports answers that are or could be given by opponents of this opinion.) Many theologians say that while those who wrote the sacred canons were learned in rational science [i.e. logic], moral science and theology, modern canonists are ignorant of those sciences and do not understand the canons. Answer to (1): Catholic truths are chiefly asserted by theology, and the assertion of a truth implies rejection of the opposite, so rejection of heresy also chiefly pertains to theology. ("Chiefly": canon law does assert some Catholic truths, but few is comparison with theology.) On faith and heresy, canon law borrows from theology, but theology borrows nothing from canon law.

Chapter 4. Answer to argument (2): It is not true that the Church is to be believed more than Scripture. One meaning of "Church"[Note 1] is: the totality of Catholics who have lived since the beginning of the Church, and in this sense it includes the gospel writers. Augustine's text means that this Church, including the gospel writers, is of more authority than the gospel writers by themselves; he does not mean that anything in the gospels can be rejected by the authority of any other part of the Church--he does not mean that the pope should be believed more than the gospel. Canon law itself attests that the pope cannot override Scripture. The Church in the sense of the totality of Catholics now living should defend the gospel at the risk of life itself.

Chapter 5. Answer to argument (3): Pope should be learned in both theology and canon law, but in deciding matters of faith he must rely chiefly on theology.

Chapter 6. Another argument for the first opinion: Theologians do not know how to compose writs of accusation, reply, appeal, etc., in matters of heresy. Answer: In civil trials about the genuineness of money or the work of tradesmen, lawyers conduct the trial, but are not the experts on the genuineness of money or the quality of tradesmen's work.

Who best understands the content of canon law?

Chapter 7. FIRST OPINION The Canonists do. Arguments: (1) Canonists are more familiar with the canon law, so understand it best. (2) The experts on a subject know it best, and canonists are the experts on canon law.

Chapter 8. SECOND OPINION Theologians understand some parts of canon law better than canonists do, civil lawyers some other parts, philosophers (those gifted in natural reason, learned in moral philosophy and rational science) some parts; canonists understand no parts more deeply, though they may have better memory of their texts. Argument: Canon law is a collection of Bible texts, texts of fathers, texts of imperial laws, and statutes and determinations of councils and popes, which contain some theological matters, some purely moral matters, some human positive laws. Understanding and judging these matters is chiefly the province of experts in those fields (though it may take them time and effort to master the canon law texts).

Chapter 9. Objection: How can theologians have a deeper understanding of the enactments of canon law on purely positive and changeable moral particulars? These enactments are found only in the canonists' books, and no one can judge at all, let alone more deeply, things he does not know. Answers: (1) A superior science can judge more certainly and deeply of matters treated in science subordinated to it than the inferior science can. But in respect of many purely positive and changeable moral particulars canon law is subordinated to theology, and in respect of many others it is subordinated to moral philosophy. About these matters theology and moral philosophy can judge more certainly and more deeply. (2) Any church custom or statute that is contrary to theology or moral philosophy is to be condemned (as the canon laws say themselves).

Example of a philosopher-theologian[Note 2] who, after a few day's study of unfamiliar law texts, was able to give a penetrating answer to a case advanced against him by expert lawyers.

Chapter 10. Further answer to objection of chapter 9: It comes of ignorance of "the nature, origin and order of the sciences".[Note 3] Experts in a superior science can judge more surely and clearly the principles of matters considered in subalternate sciences (just as bridle-making is subordinate to horsemanship [Nicomachean Ethics, I.1, 1094a 10], and educated people can judge mechanical and other works they do not know how to make [Politics, III.11, 1282 a5-6, 17-24]).[Note 4]

Who are the experts in deciding which individuals are heretics?

Chapter 11. It is possible to hold a heresy but not be a heretic. So who are the experts in recognising heretics? FIRST OPINION Canonists are the experts in deciding which individuals are heretics. There is a long title on heretics in the Decretals, whereas Scripture rarely mentions heretics (Titus 3:10).

SECOND OPINION Others say theologians decide whether someone is a heretic, and canonists are concerned only with the penalties. The ecclesiastical judge must consult theologians about how to convict. No one is a heretic unless a pertinacious adherent to a heresy, and theologians decide what adherence should be considered pertinacious.

Who decides whether someone is pertinacious?

Chapter 12. FIRST OPINION It is for canonists to judge whether a person is pertinacious. Arguments: (1) Pertinacity is refusal to be corrected by one's prelate, and canonists know how prelates should proceed against errants. (2) Pertinacity is contumacy, which presupposes citation, on which canonists are experts. (3) Canonists deal with punishment of heretics, and this presupposes that they know how to recognise pertinacity.

Chapter 13. SECOND OPINION It is for theologians to judge whether a person is pertinacious. Arguments: (1) Theology has God as principal subject, so concerned with crimes against God. (2) Theologians reflect on faith, therefore on its opposite. (3) When a superior and inferior science both deal with the same matter, knowledge of that matter belongs chiefly to the superior science, because it knows by deeper principles. Theology is the superior science in relation to canon law.

Objection: The gospel does not mention pertinacity. Answer: Not by name, but equivalently.

Chapter 14. Reply to chapter 12. (1) Canonists deal most with how to convict an errant of pertinacity in court (though their methods are subject to theological assessment), but sometimes an extra-judicial judgment is to be made (not a judgment of legal authority, but of regarding a person as a heretic). Canon law is concerned with some judgments of pertinacity (those made in court), theology with all. It is not always true that pertinacity is refusal to be corrected by a prelate. (2) Pertinacity is not always contumacy. (3) Whoever punishes must have at least knowledge of a general kind perhaps received from another, but need not have scientific, subtle and profound knowledge. Moneyers and tradesmen are better than civil judges at detecting forged money and faulty artifacts.

Chapter 15. What do canonists know about heretics, according to this second opinion? The canon law condemns some heresies (borrowing texts from theologians), so canonists can judge some heretics, though theologians can judge more profoundly. Canonists know about judicial proceedings and penalties, which are matters of positive human law, with which theologians are not principally concerned. However, it is for theologians to judge whether the positive laws about procedure against heretics and punishment are contrary to Scripture, and if they are they should not be tolerated.


What are Catholic truths?

Chapter 1. Book 2 is about heresies, so first about the opposite: Which truths should be considered Catholic? (The question implies that some truths are not Catholic, i.e. to believe them is not necessary for salvation.)

FIRST OPINION Truths which are Catholic are only those found in or strictly implied by the Bible.[Note 5] Proofs: Prov 30:5-6, Deut 4:2, Apoc 22:18-19 (nothing to be added to scripture); texts of Augustine (not necessary to believe anything other than canonical scripture). Arguments: (1) everything necessary is in the Bible; (2) the Jews were not required to believe anything besides the Old Testament; (3) Jerome says that everything except Scripture is "as readily despised as approved".

SECOND OPINION (chapters 2-5):

Chapter 2. There are other truths, not found in the Bible, which it is necessary for salvation to believe, explicitly or implicitly. These include: truths about God and about creatures (even about infidels) that God has revealed or approved that have come to us from the Apostles, either (a) in Scripture or (b) through other channels; also, truths that did not come from the Apostles, but (c) follow from truths which did together with certain other truths of fact that cannot truly be denied (these are not "Catholic truths" strictly, but truths that "smack of" Catholic truth); also, some truths that are (d) only truths of fact, found in histories, etc., that the faithful ought not to reject. (See below, Chapter 5.)

Chapter 3. Proofs of second opinion. Texts showing that the authority of the Church is enough to establish faith without Scripture: Innocent III, Augustine, Agatho, Nicholas. Arguments: (1) ad absurdum--if we must believe only Scripture a Catholic could deny that the apostles were the authors of the Apostles' Creed, that Peter was Roman Pontiff, that Peter's see was transferred from Antioch to Rome, that the Roman Pontiffs succeed Peter (another from argument 3, the primacy of the Roman Church), and therefore (since it has taught these things) the universal Church would have erred, which Catholics must regard as impossible. (2) Catholics are bound to believe the pope's definition when it is certainly not against faith, but popes define many things not provable from Scripture. (3) The Apostles taught many things they did not leave in writing. (4) The universal Church cannot err, Mt 28:20, but it teaches many things not found in Scripture (see above examples). (5) It would be foolish to deny histories, but the teachings of pontiffs and saints teaching sound doctrine are not of less authority than historians.

Chapter 4. According to the second opinion, which authorities should be believed besides the Bible? OPINION 2A Some say, councils and popes, the saints. Proof: various canon law texts. OPINION 2B It is not always necessary to believe councils, popes and saints. Councils and popes reserved for later discussion. Why it is not necessary always to believe the saints: (A) Catholics need not believe something just because some saint believes that it should be believed. Proof: Texts from Augustine. Arguments: (1) If some person is can err, then it is not necessary to believe something just because that person believes it; and the saints can err. Augustine sometimes erred, because he retracted. (2) Sanctity is consistent with non-pertinacious error, so a saint can be in error. (B) Even if a work of a saint is published throughout the Church it may contain error. Examples of such works contradicting one another (Augustine and Jerome, Cyprian and Augustine).

Objection: If these works are sometimes in error, they have no authority at all--"Whatever is found partly false is wholly rejected". Answer: The works of the saints that the Church has approved are approved in respect to everything not corrected by the author or by other Catholics. Such greatly beneficial things should not be rejected because of a few things not beneficial. The saints intended some things as only probable.

Chapter 5. According to the SECOND opinion, how many kinds of truth must be accepted? Five: (a) Statements in the Bible explicitly or by necessary implication. (b) Truths from the Apostles, though not in category "a". (c) Chronicles, histories etc that are worthy of trust. (d) Implications of categories "a" and "b", or of "a" and/or "b" together with "c". (e) New undoubted revelations to the Church.

They do not mention decretals and conciliar definitions, because when rightly made they are based on (a)-(e).

What is a heresy?

Chapter 6. FIRST OPINION A heresy is a false doctrine contrary to orthodox faith. Texts of Jerome and Augustine.

Chapter 7. Did Jerome intend his statement as a definition?

Chapter 8. Objection to this definition: some false doctrines become heresies "newly", though they are not newly false doctrines contrary to faith. Various texts from Gratian.

Chapter 9. Proponents of the first opinion reply: "new" because newly asserted, or in the sense that the heretical disposition or act is new. Heresy in the sense of the doctrine asserted satisfies the above definition.

Chapter 10. Another objection: according to another text of Jerome, "heresy" implies choice, and a false doctrine is not a heresy until someone chooses it--indeed true doctrines are heresies, when they are chosen.

Chapter 11. Answer: Jerome means a false doctrine that could (potentially) be chosen.

Chapter 12. SECOND OPINION a false doctrine is not a heresy until it has actually been condemned by the Church; similarly truths are not Catholic truths until defined. On this view the pope can make a new article of faith or a new heresy.

Examples: Before Alexander III's Cum Christus it was permissible to deny that Christ was God and man; before John XXII's Cum inter nonnullos it was permissible to say that Christ and his apostles did not have anything either individually or in common. Arguments: (1) Anyone who asserts a heresy should be condemned as a heretic, but many who have asserted things later condemned by the Church should not be condemned as heretics (e.g. Abbot Joachim). (2) Unless the pope can make new articles of faith and new heresies, his definition would have no more effect than the determination of a university teacher.

Chapter 13. Against the second opinion: the pope has no more power to make propositions to be catholic truths or heresies or articles of faith that were not before, than to make true what is false or false what is true. Catholic truths are immutable and immutably true by the very nature of things, without definition by the Church, and therefore they are immutably catholic.

Arguments: (1) Why is a truth Catholic? Not from reason and experience, because then geometrical truths could be Catholic truths; not from human wisdom or will (1 Corinthians 2:5); but only because of divine inspiration or revelation in the Bible or by inference from those, and these things do not depend on the approval of the Church or of the pope. (2) If Catholic truth were made by papal approval, then either by implicit or explicit approval. If implicit approval is enough, then no new articles can be made from things that were true beforehand, because every pontiff has already approved all of the Catholic faith implicitly. If explicit approval is necessary, then such truths as "Christ was God and man" could not have been regarded as Catholic unless the pope had approved them, which seems unsuitable. (3) If heresy is made by Catholic approval, then as in argument 2, and "Christ is not a man" was not heretical before condemnation, which seems unsuitable. (4) An assertion is truly a heresy if a pertinacious defender of it would be a heretic. But anyone is a heretic if they pertinaciously defend "a false and perverse opinion, something unwholesome and evil" (Augustine, who does not mention previous condemnation). Such an opinion is anything that the Church can rightly condemn, even if it has not already done so.

Chapter 14. Replies to arguments of Chapter 12. (1) Sometimes heretics should not be condemned, either because their heresy is secret, or because it is not yet certain that their opinion is heretical (this has to be decided by pope or Council). (2) The pope's definition is authoritative, but does not make a Catholic truth. His definition has more effect because no one is then permitted to maintain the opposite, and those who hold the opposite can be proceeded against by bishop or inquisitor--unless someone offers to prove that the pope has erred, in which case the matter must be decided by a Council.

Chapter 15. Reply to the proof from Cum Christus: The effect of the pope's definition was that from then on no one could deny what was already a Catholic truth.

How many kinds of heresies are there?

Chapter 16. Holders of the FIRST OPINION of Chapter 1 say there are three kinds: (1) heresies that contradict scripture explicitly in the same terms, (2) those that conflict with Scripture in a way obvious even to the unlearned, (3) those that conflict with Scripture in a way that can be discerned only by the wise and learned after long and subtle investigation (e.g. "Christ is nothing as a man").

Holders of the SECOND OPINION, Chapter 2, say that there are those three kinds, and in addition (4) those that oppose Apostolic teaching not in the Bible but handed down in other ways, and (5) those that oppose post-apostolic revelation.

Chapter 17. Second opinion continued: In addition there are "deadly errors" not strictly heresies. General list of pestiferous errors: (i) heresies that conflict with Scripture--three modes as above; (ii) heresies that conflict with Apostolic teaching not recorded in the Bible but handed down in other ways; (iii) heresies that conflict with post-apostolic revelation; (iv) errors that conflict with chronicles, histories and acta approved by the Church; (v) errors that "smack of" heresy, that conflict with (i)/(ii)/(iii) together with other truths that cannot be denied.

Has every heresy been condemned already?

Chapter 18. Some say yes, c. Excommunicamus. (No other opinion stated.)

Chapter 19. Objection: Gratian says that "every heretic follows an already-condemned heresy or invents a new one". Answer: Every heresy has been condemned implicitly, but some not explicitly. "Explicit" condemnation: (1) some heresies have been condemned in particular in that exact form; (2) some are heresies whose contradictories have been approved in exact form; (3) some contradict in exact form truths contained in some writing approved in particular as Catholic, i.e. in the Bible; (4) some imply clearly (even to a layman) some heresy of the first three classes. "Implicit" condemnation: Of some heresies it is clear only by subtle reflection to those who are learned in sacred literature that they are opposed to Catholic truth in Scripture or in the express teaching of the Church, and that they imply some heresy explicitly condemned. Heresies of modern doctors are like this.

Condemnation by authorities inferior to pope or council

Chapter 20. The utility of the distinction between implicit and explicit condemnation: they say that it is important to bishops and inquisitors, who can proceed only against asserters of heresies explicitly condemned; others heretics can be condemned only by pope or council. Argument from canon law, which reserves the decision to the pope when there is doubt whether an assertion is a heresy.

Chapter 21. Some objections, showing that not only popes or councils condemn heresies not already explicitly condemned: (1) The University of Paris condemned certain opinions, including some of Thomas Aquinas. (2) Kilwardby and Pecham. (3) The Franciscans condemned Olivi.[Note 6]

Answers to objection (1): The condemnation was rash (a) because it condemned truths. This is the opinion of those who taught the condemned propositions even before the condemnation of Thomas was lifted.

Chapter 22. Digression: Did those who taught the condemned propositions before the condemnation was lifted incur excommunication? Some think that if catholic assertions were condemned, the excommunication could not bind, although those who believe that the assertions are not Catholic truths are obliged to shun the asserter. Arguments for this: (1) Condemnation of Catholic truth is "intolerable error", which voids excommunication. (2) No one can be forced to do wrong. (3) Anyone who condemns Catholic truth is a heretic, and a heretic's sentence does not bind.

Chapter 23. Second answer to the example of the University of Paris: The condemnation was rash (b) because it was not clear how the condemned propositions were contrary to Catholic truth; (c) because the University usurped a power it did not have. However, the condemnation may have been justified if it was done by the authority of the pope (but then it is not an instance of condemnation by some authority other than pope or council). Either those who condemned Thomas were heretics, or those were who revoked the condemnation: it cannot be known which unless it is known whether the propositions were heretical.

Chapter 24. To objection (2) (Kilwardby and Pecham). Some say that Kilwardby rashly condemned truths--but of philosophy, so he was not a heretic. Others say that he was a heretic, since it is heresy to affirm that something that is not of the faith does belong to it. Some say his condemnation was rash because the propositions were truths; this is the opinion of those who continued to teach them (e.g. unity of form in man). Other say it was rash because he usurped power he did not have, both by doing what only the pope can do, and by condemning philosophical propositions "in connection with which anyone ought to be free to say freely what pleases him". Others say that the archbishops did well, since Thomas's opinion on the unity of form conflicts with the church teaching that Christ's body was the same alive and dead, and any bishop has the power to condemn such an error (but then it is not an instance of condemnation by some authority other than pope or council).

Chapter 25. To objection (3), condemnation of Olivi: People differ about the orthodoxy of Olivi's teaching. Some of those who regard it as heretical yet think the Franciscan Order usurped power it did not have. Others say they did it by papal authority (but then it is not an instance of condemnation by some authority other than pope or council).

Chapter 26. Can inferior authorities forbid the public teaching of some doctrines, even if they cannot condemn them as heresies? Some say Yes, for reasonable cause (e.g. to avoid scandal or schism), but they cannot forbid them to everybody for all time. Thomas's opinions caused scandal--that Christ's body was not numerically one alive and dead, that the body in the tomb was never Christ's while alive, etc.

Argument: whatever can licitly be omitted for a reason can be forbidden for a reason.

On what basis can pope or council condemn a heresy?

Chapter 27. FIRST OPINION The pope can condemn whatever he pleases. SECOND OPINION Condemnation by pope or council must be based on one or more of (1) Scripture, (2) Apostolic teaching handed down not in Scripture, (3) new divine revelation (proponents of this opinion know of no example of condemnation based on new revelation, but say that God can make a revelation at any time). The third needs to be confirmed by some obvious miracle, such as unanimous acceptance by all Christians. Mt 28:20 means that the universal Church will never err. If there is even one dissenter the proposition could not be accepted as a revelation--the Catholic faith may abide in just one person (as once it did in the Blessed Virgin).

Objection: miracles were performed by the wicked and unbelievers. Answer: But never to support false doctrine.

THIRD OPINION Some say, condemnation of heresy can be based only on Scripture.

Must condemnation include the word "heretical" or the like explicitly?

Chapter 28. Some say the condemnation is not explicit unless it includes some such words as "as heretical" or "contrary to catholic truth"; others say that it is enough if the opposite Catholic truth is explicitly approved.

Is a pope at fault if he does not condemn the errors of theologians?

Chapter 29. Some say no, as long as the error has not been explicitly condemned and the theologian is ready to be corrected: it is then permissible for the theologian to hold the error subject to correction (not pertinaciously), and to permit what is permissible is not heretical.

Others say that popes have sinned in allowing heresies to be held even as opinions. It is the pope's duty to root out not only heretics but also heresies, and not only those that have already been explicitly condemned. A pope who does not condemn heresies newly arising is not imitating the apostles who acted promptly against heresies.

Excuse: these theologians are not pertinacious. Answer: Unless the pope condemns the heresy he does not know whether the holders are pertinacious. Further, even if the theologians are not pertinacious, their students may be misled into pertinacious adherence to their teacher's opinion.

Excuse: the theologians have not been accused. Answer: Though they have not been accused of being heretics, they have been accused of teaching heresies. (Examples from opinions of Thomas and Scotus.)

Excuse: the accusation has not reached the pope. Answer: This is not probable.

Chapter 30. Excuse: the popes since Innocent III have been canonists, and not expert theologians; they have rightly followed Jerome's maxim, "Better pious doubt than rash definition". This excuse is in accordance with the opinion presented in Book 1 that heresy is the business of theologians, not canonists (and not of all theologians: some called Masters of Theology are not really experts).[Note 7]

Chapter 31. Objection to the last excuse: the popes could have consulted experts. If they were too ignorant to understand the issue even with the instruction of experts, they could have believed the experts and condemned the heresies they were advised to condemn. This objection leads to the question:

Should an ignorant pope condemn a heresy on the advice of experts, even if he cannot see how it is opposed to Catholic truth?

FIRST OPINION Some say that this is so. SECOND OPINION Others say that a pope should not condemn a doctrine as heresy unless he clearly sees that it is, even if everyone in a Council is urging him--in matters of faith the pope should not rely on the consciences of men, but only in divine authority. In a matter of faith, a pope who does not understand should follow advisers only if they confirm their advice by a miracle.

Chapter 32. Arguments for the second opinion: (1) If Christ had not confirmed his teaching by miracle the Jews would not have sinned in not believing. (Objection: then one should not believe the Church without a miracle. Answer: Christ, whose teaching was confirmed by miracle, promised that his faith would last to the end of the age, so the universal Church will not err.) (2) Otherwise the condemnation would be based on the wisdom, will or insistence of men, contrary to 1 Corinthians 2:4-5. (3) Masters in theology and all those gathered in a Council can err, since they are not the whole Church which Christ promised would not fall away. (4) In condemning on advice, the pope would not rely on reason (since he does not see how the doctrine conflicts with Catholic truth), nor on divine authority (since he does not see how the alleged heresy conflicts with divine authority), therefore on human authority; but our faith is above human understanding. (5) The Apostles and Moses confirmed their teaching by miracle or established truths, and the members of a general council are not greater than them.

Objection: If the advisers put forward an argument that the doctrine is heretical and their argument is (objectively) a proof, then the pope is at fault if he does not condemn the doctrine even if he does not personally understand the proof. Answer: If he is not convinced because he is obstinate, he is at fault, but if because of simplicity, he is not at fault.

(6) A judge should understand the sentence he pronounces; it is not enough to believe advisers. Otherwise wisdom would not be required in a judge.

(7) One man can contradict the whole collectivity if he has reasonable cause, for one person can lead the others to his side (as Pannutius did at the Council of Nicea). Therefore the pope should not follow the others unless he knows that they are right. Especially if he knows that some theologians regard some assertion as Catholic, he should not condemn it because of the insistence of all the others unless he knows clearly how it is opposed to orthodox faith.

Is it permissible for the pope to order that some doctrine not be publicly taught if it is not evident to him whether it is heretical? They say yes, if there is scandal, or if many people might cling to it pertinaciously. [See above, chapter 26.]

Can the pope condemn errors that are not heresies?

Chapter 33. Some say that the pope should not condemn assertions on purely philosophical matters, or on theological points that cannot be settled without doubt. If he condemned such doctrines he might entangle souls by obliging believers to believe things against their consciences or where it is not dangerous to affirm or deny. Errors opposed to chronicles or histories worthy of trust can be condemned, not as heretical but as dangerous and pernicious to the Church. Errors that smack of manifest heresy can be condemned, not as heretical strictly speaking but as smacking of manifest heresy.

Chapter 34. Can any one inferior to the pope condemn errors that are not heresies? Some say not, because if they cannot condemn heresies, a fortiori they cannot condemn lesser errors. Others say that since inferior prelates could once canonise saints, and therefore could condemn the erroneous statement that the canonised person was not a saint, then they can still condemned errors that are not heresies. (Though these days they cannot canonise, their powers in relation to other errors have not been removed.) Inferiors to whom greater affairs are forbidden can undertake lesser ones. Lower authorities should resist heresies not by condemning them but by reporting them to pope or council.


Who should be regarded as a Catholic?

Chapter 1 SINGLE OPINION A Catholic is whoever observes the Catholic faith whole and inviolate, by believing faithfully and without doubt, explicitly or implicitly, everything belonging to the faith. Implicit belief is believing something from which the implicitly believed things follow and not adhering pertinaciously to anything contrary--e.g. believing that whatever is taught by Scripture and the Church is true.

Is it necessary to say "not adhering pertinaciously to anything contrary"? SINGLE OPINION This is needed because many heretics have been condemned by Councils who believed that everything in Scripture is true: because they adhered pertinaciously to something actually contrary to an assertion of Scripture (though they did not realise this), they were heretics.

How is it possible to believe that everything in Scripture and church teaching is true, yet hold pertinaciously something contrary to something in Scripture or the teaching of the Church? Answer: Someone can believe the universal statement "Whatever is in Scripture is true", yet pertinaciously deny the statement "Andrew was an Apostle", because he does not know that the latter truth is in Scripture.

Who should be regarded as a heretic?

Chapter 2 Several meanings of "heretic". (c) Whoever thinks that the Christian faith is false. (d) Every Christian (or one who thinks or thought himself a Christian) who errs pertinaciously against Catholic truth. (e) Anyone who adheres pertinaciously to an error that smacks of heresy.

Chapter 3 Commonest meaning, the "heretic" who is excommunicate and may be handed over to secular authority: SINGLE OPINION (f) A heretic is someone seriously baptized, or presenting himself as such, who pertinaciously doubts or errs against Catholic truth.

Chapter 4 Objections against elements of (f). Those who have always been outside the Church are not subject to judgment by the Church (1 Corinthians 5:12); therefore someone presenting himself as baptized but not actually baptized is not a heretic. Answer: Such a person is not "outside" in Paul's sense.

Chapter 5 Objection: "pertinaciously" seems superfluous. Various canon law texts do not mention pertinacity.

Chapter 6 First proof (offered by those who give the above definition) that pertinacity is required: Text of Augustine ("Those who (a) without any pertinacious ill will defend [a false opinion], especially if (b) they have not conceived it with the boldness of their own presumption but have accepted it from their parents... and if... (c) they seek the truth with careful diligence, (d) ready to be corrected... should not be counted among the heretics").

Objection: Augustine's text mentions four things that are all required if a person holding an opinion against Catholic truth is to escape being adjudged a heretic, and not only non-pertinacity; so one might not be pertinacious and yet be a heretic. Answer: At issue is the judgment of the Church (who should be "counted among the heretics"), which must be by inference from externals; God may judge differently. The opposite of (d) is essential to heresy, the opposite of any of (a)-(c) justifies an inference of pertinacious belief. That is: unreadiness to be corrected is pertinacity in belief and makes the person a heretic; pertinacious defence (which is not the same thing as pertinacious belief), bold presumption and failure to seek truth are things from any one of which pertinacity of belief can reasonably be inferred.

Chapter 7 Other proofs: Another text from Augustine: "Those in the Church who think something unwholesome and perverse and (a) contumaciously resist if they are corrected... and (b) refuse to correct... but (c) persist in defending them...". Objection: Again, Augustine mentions two other requirements besides pertinacity. Answer: Any one of the three makes a person a heretic, but the second and third imply the first, pertinacity, which is what is necessary and sufficient.

Chapter 8 Other proofs: Arguments (1) Those who err but seek the truth should not be rejected by Catholics, and should therefore not be counted as heretics; but those who are seeking the truth are not pertinacious. (2) Whoever is not pertinacious is ready to be corrected and therefore should not be considered a heretic. (3) Whoever errs but not pertinaciously satisfies the definition of a Catholic given in chapter 1. (4) Many people have erred but not been regarded as heretics because they were not pertinacious (e.g. Augustine, Jerome, Cyprian).

Chapter 9 Answer to chapter 5, first objection (that Innocent III lists six kinds of manifest heretics, without mention of pertinacity): The text can be interpreted to mean that a person must be pertinacious to fall into any of the six kinds. (a) Those who preach that the Catholic faith is false, or preach some heretical assertion and says that he will never desist, are pertinacious. But those who preach a heresy but say they are ready to be corrected, or simply preach without expression of pertinacity, should be regarded as Catholics until they have been examined. (b) Those who swear that they will uphold some heresy are pertinacious. (c) Those who defend a heresy are not pertinacious and not heretics if they are ready to be corrected, otherwise they are. (d) and (e) those who have been convicted of heresy by a prelate may not be heretics, if it is the error that has been convicted but they are not wicked. (f) If they themselves have been convicted, they are heretics only if pertinacious.

Chapter 10 Answer to chapter 5, the remaining objections: These can also be interpreted in accordance with the opinion that pertinacity is required. "When a pope or a canon does not distinguish and no distinction can clearly be gathered from other canons or from sacred Scripture or from authentic sayings or from evident reason, we should not distinguish: but when a distinction can clearly be apprehended from one of the above, we should indeed distinguish. It is so in the matter under discussion because we gather very well from other sacred canons and from clear reason that there is an obvious distinction between falling into a condemned heresy pertinaciously and not pertinaciously".

Someone who doubts that the Catholic faith is true is not ready to be corrected by Catholic truth, so is pertinacious and a heretic. But if someone believes in general that the Catholic faith is true but doubts or disbelieves some particular truth, it should be presumed (unless the contrary is apparent) that he is ready to be corrected when he realises that what he doubts or disbelieves is part of Catholic truth.

Chapter 11 More objections: Another statement of Augustine: "A heretic is someone who ... follows ... new opinions for the sake of some temporal advantage...". Then those who only follows old heresies, or are not motivated by temporal gain, will not be heretics even though they satisfy the description of chapter 3; conversely some may for temporal advantage assert false opinions without believing them and so be a heretic according to Augustine's statement but not according to the description of chapter 3. Answer: Augustine's statement is not a definition, but states one way of recognising a heretic. Someone who asserts a heresy without believing it is not a heretic in God's eyes, but must be adjudged a heretic by the Church, which must judge by appearances.


What is the definition of "pertinacious"?

Chapter 1 Some define it thus: "Someone errs (or doubts) pertinaciously in faith if he persists in a heresy (or a doubt) that he should (of necessity for salvation) lay aside".

Mental pertinacity

Chapter 2 Pertinacity may be mental or external. What is observable may not correspond with the state of mind.

Some say that there are three ways of being pertinacious in one's mind. (1) When, notwithstanding the miracles, someone thinks that the Catholic faith is false or doubtful. (2) When a person believes in general that the Catholic faith is true, but adheres so strongly to some particular error that he does not know contradicts the faith that even if it were shown to him that it contradicts the faith he would not lay it aside but would then rather think that the faith is false. (3) When a person in error neglects appropriate occasions for seeking the truth.

Mental pertinacity is distinguished into knowing and unknowing (or ignorant). Someone is unknowingly pertinacious if they hold pertinaciously a proposition they do not know contradicts Catholic faith (at the same time holding the general proposition that the Catholic faith is true). A person who is knowingly pertinacious or knowingly a heretic does not know that he is pertinacious or a heretic, but he knows that what he believes contradicts the Catholic faith.

Chapter 3 Objection: No one is unknowingly a heretic, because if believes that the Catholic faith is true he believes everything in it at least implicitly, which is enough.

A distinction: Some are unknowingly heretics because they think that something that in fact belongs to the Catholic faith does not belong to it, others because, though they accept the whole of the Bible, they misinterpret it.

Chapter 4 Answer to objection of Chapter 3: True implicit faith excludes every pertinacious assertion of heresy. There is a false implicit faith, which believes that "the Christian faith is true", but regards as the Christian faith something other than the faith that is truly Christian.

How establish from external behaviour a presumption[Note 8] that someone is pertinacious?

Chapter 5 FIRST way: If he shows by deed or word that he does not firmly believe that the Christian faith is true and sound (e.g. by saying the Christianity is false or doubtful, or by converting to another sect), he is to be condemned as a heretic without examination to test whether he is ready to be corrected. (Only possible excuse: fear of death.)

Chapter 6 SECOND: If he says that some part of the Bible asserts falsehood or should not be accepted by Catholics. If he does not know which books the Church regards as belonging to the Bible, he should first be instructed, and if he does not then correct himself he is pertinacious in heresy; but if he already knows what belongs to the Bible and says that some of it is to be rejected, he should be at once regarded as pertinacious in heresy, without examination to test whether he is ready to be corrected.

Chapter 7 Why not try correction, since such a person might change his mind? Answer: "incorrigible" does not mean impossible to correct, but "not having any intention of being corrected".

Chapter 8 THIRD: If he holds that the universal Church errs or has erred, he should be considered pertinacious without further examination. A different opinion Some of the learned say that such people can be excused by simplicity and ignorance and should be examined to see whether he is ready to be corrected.

Chapter 9 Argument for chapter 8 first opinion: The Christian faith is the faith of the universal Church, therefore whoever says that the Church errs says that the Christian faith is false. Argument for the second opinion: Someone who denies a truth he is not obliged to believe explicitly should not be judged a heretic without testing whether he is open to correction. Not every Christian is obliged to believe explicitly that the Church cannot err, since this truth (and its proof-text, Mt 28.20) has not been widely disseminated among all Christians. (This does not make preaching more authoritative than the Bible, but what is widely preached may be better known. Sometimes one is more bound explicitly to believe the conclusion than the premise, because of wider dissemination.)

Chapter 10 Continuation of Chapter 9. It is not necessary to believe that the majority of Christians cannot err, since the faith may be preserved in one or a few.

Chapter 11 FOURTH: If he denies any Catholic truth which is widely disseminated as Catholic among all Catholics, including those with whom he has been living, he is immediately, without further examination, to be judged a heretic. (However, if he can prove that he did not know that this truth was Catholic he can be excused.)

Chapter 12 Some reject this view, and say that such a person should be questioned to see whether he is ready to be corrected. Others object that then anyone could deny a widely published truth and claim to be ready to be corrected--the claim should not be believed, since however much he says he is ready to be corrected there is a strong presumption that he is not, since he is not ignorant of what is published.

Chapter 13 FIFTH: If it can be shown that a person has previously read and understood in the Bible or in Church teaching a truth he now denies, then there is a strong presumption that he is knowingly rejecting the truth, and he should be regarded as pertinacious in heresy without further examination.

Objection: Perhaps he previously thought it to be Catholic but did not know this; and he may claim to be ready to be corrected. Answer: Since he is contradicting himself, he should not be believed. His claim to be ready to be corrected should not be believed, since such a claim is credible only in someone who may be erring from ignorance.

Objection: this is mere presumption, and no one should be punished on the basis of presumption. Answer: Punishment can be based on strong presumption.

Chapter 14 SIXTH: Some say that a person who knowingly denies some teaching of the saints should be judged a heretic immediately without examination, others say that even if he refuses to be corrected he is not a heretic. (This depends on whether Catholics are obliged to believe the assertions of the saints--see Book 2, chapter 1, 4.)

Legitimate correction (chs 15-24)

Chapter 15 SEVENTH: If he is not willing to retract his heresy when legitimately corrected, he is to be judged pertinacious and therefore a heretic. Correction is "legitimate" when it is shown to the one erring that his assertion conflicts with Catholic truth so clearly that he cannot credibly deny that this has been shown, e.g. by showing him the text of the Bible. [Chapters 16-23 discuss correction by a prelate, Chapter 24 correction by a person without jurisdiction.]

Chapter 16 Must a person retract an error solely on the admonition of his prelate, even though it has not been shown to him that it is an error? First Opinion No. Arguments: (1) Theologians take precedence over prelates in the exposition of the faith, so they should not defer to the prelate's opinion. Simple people who follow the theologians, and other simple people, are likewise not bound to retract on the sole admonition of a prelate.

Chapter 17 (2) Subjects are not bound to demonstrate undoubting trust in their prelates, because then their faith would rest on human wisdom (1 Corinthians 2:5), and because prelates can err against the faith. (3) Prelates have a duty to give a reason for the faith (1 Peter 3:25). (4) A subject may appeal against a prelate who corrects an error without showing that it is an error by the rule of faith, and therefore is not bound to retract.

Chapter 18 Objection: If the error is a heresy already explicitly condemned, he is bound to retract. Answer: Not if he does not know, and has not been shown, that it has been condemned.

Chapter 19 Objections against this answer: the Bible, canon law, church custom and reason all agree that someone who holds a heresy explicitly condemned already must retract it immediately.

Chapter 20 Answer: See above, book 3, chapter 6. (1) No one should be more regarded as a heretic if he contradicts a Council decision than if he contradicts the Bible, unless the Council decision is more widely published than the Bible. But there are many heresies explicitly condemned by Councils that are not more widely published than the Bible, and a person who contradicts some particular truth in the Bible is not to be condemned immediately but must be questioned to see whether he is ready to be corrected. (2) No one should be condemned immediately as a heretic unless he denies something he is obliged to believe explicitly, but none or few are obliged to believe explicitly all the truths that contradict explicitly condemned heresies, since they do not have the books containing the condemnations.

How can someone deny a truth explicitly in the Bible without being a heretic? Answer: It is enough to have implicit belief in every truth in the Bible. Augustine and Jerome on occasion contradicted the Bible without being heretics.

Chapter 21 Answer to objections of Chapter 19: The Bible and canon law texts adduced apply to those who knowingly and pertinaciously hold heresies already condemned. The practice of inquisitors is no argument because they often proceed unfairly. Those who are not proved by other means to be pertinacious can excuse themselves by ignorance. Even the well-informed are not bound to know of every explicit condemnation of heresy. To the arguments that ignorance of the law does not excuse the answer is that not everyone is obliged to know of every law, and that it is not true unless the law has been widely published. Sometimes an oath is enough to prove ignorance.

Chapter 22 What if a condemnation seems ambiguous and a person holds the version he does not think has been condemned, but it has been? Answer: If he is not obliged to know the true meaning of the condemnation he should not be condemned without examination. There are examples of ambiguous and even contradictory condemnations.

Chapter 23 Are those who err unknowingly bound to retract upon simple correction by the pope, without "legitimate" correction? Answer. They say not, because the pope may be unlearned, he can err, and he is bound to offer a reason for believing, because it is possible to appeal from his decision, because our faith does not rest upon the wisdom of the pope.

Objection: Popes and councils do not always offer reasons for their decisions. Answer: Sometimes the reason is found outside the condemnation itself.

What if someone were to defend a heresy before the pope? Answer: They say that if he were to defend unknowingly a heresy a thousand times even before the pope, with an explicit or tacit declaration that the is ready to be corrected, he should not be judged a heretic.

What if, even after his opinion has been proved heretical, he says that it has not been shown to him that his opinion conflicts with the faith? Answer: They say that if knowledgable people think it has been sufficiently proved to him that his opinion is heretical, he must retract or be considered a heretic.

Chapter 24 According to this opinion, a person corrected by someone with no jurisdiction must retract his heresy. Proof: (1) Our faith does not depend on the wisdom of men (1 Corinthians 2:5). With respect to being bound to put aside a heresy it does not matter who shows that the opinion is a heresy. (2) A person corrected legitimately by anyone at all who does not put aside his opinion is not ready to be corrected. (3) if a person discovers his error by his own research, he is bound to lay it aside, and no less bound if the error is revealed by anyone else.

Is there any difference between being corrected by a prelate and being corrected by someone else? Answer: They say that in either case the error should be put aside, but a prelate can call the person to account, compel him to listen, force him to recant publicly, and can punish him if he is pertinacious. Prelates inferior to the pope can do these things only if the heresy has already been condemned explicitly by pope or council, but must otherwise or refer the matter to the pope; the pope can act against any heresy.

Chapter 25 EIGHTH: A person is pertinacious in heresy if he tries to force others by commands, threats, punishments, promises, oaths, or in any other way to pertinaciously defend a heresy. Proofs: (1), (2), (3), (4), (5) those who force do the thing through the other and are guilty of the same crime. (6) A person who forces others pertinaciously to defend his heresy is not ready to be corrected.

Objection: It is possible to defend a heresy without pertinacity. He should not be regarded as pertinacious if he does not force them to defend it pertinaciously. Answer: As far as in him lies, he forces the other to defend the heresy pertinaciously, even if it is in the power of that person later to refuse to defend the heresy pertinaciously.

Chapter 26 NINTH: If he forces someone to deny Catholic truth, he should be considered pertinacious in heresy. Ignorance is no excuse because without rashness no one can force another to deny an assertion unless he is certain that it is untrue, but no one can have such certainty that a Catholic assertion is contrary to Catholic truth. In this case rashness is equivalent to pertinacity.

Chapter 27 TENTH: Anyone who swears that he will always assert as Catholic an assertion which in fact is heretical is pertinacious and heretic, because he is not ready to be corrected.

Chapter 28 ELEVENTH: If he persecutes defenders of Catholic truth he is pertinacious in heresy, because whoever prevents the disclosure Catholic truth and the uncovering of heresy is not ready to be corrected and is not seeking the truth with careful responsibility. It does not make a person a heretic to block a preacher as someone who usurps an office that does not belong to him, but anyone who blocks a preacher because of his doctrine, if it is in fact Catholic truth, is a heretic.

Chapter 29 TWELFTH: If he errs against Catholic truth and refuses to submit to correction and amendment by those whose concern it is, is pertinacious in heresy. He prevents judgment being made on his error and "avoids the light". Thus a pope who teaches some heresy and prevents the holding of a Council lest it examine his assertion should be considered pertinacious in heresy.

Chapter 30 THIRTEENTH: If the learned censure his statement as heretical but he refuses to be instructed about the truth, he is pertinacious in heresy, since he is not ready to be corrected and is not seeking the truth.

Chapter 31 FOURTEENTH: If by deeds or words he protests that he will not retract an assertion which is heretical, he is pertinacious in heresy, because such a person is not ready to be corrected.

FIFTEENTH: If out of partiality for heresy he prevents reading of Catholic writings or preaching or publication of Catholic truths, he is a heretic.

SIXTEENTH: If he fabricates and defends new errors in defence of heresy, he is pertinacious in heresy, because he not ready to be corrected and is not seeking the truth.

Chapter 32 SEVENTEENTH: If he solemnly defines an error against the faith, he must be regarded as pertinacious in heresy, because he is trying to force Catholics pertinaciously to defend heresy (see above, eighth, ninth, twelfth and fourteenth ways). Anyone who finally and irrevocably confirms his adherence to a heresy is not ready to be corrected, and a pope defining a heresy does this.

Chapter 33 EIGHTEENTH: If a person supports a pope in defining a heresy, he is himself pertinacious in heresy, since those acting and those agreeing with the act are guilty of the same fault.

NINETEENTH: Anyone in an office inferior to the papacy purporting to define a heresy, and anyone supporting such a definition, is pertinacious in heresy.

Chapter 34 TWENTIETH: If someone does not resist heresy when he has the power to do so, should be considered pertinacious. (Though some people say that these should be regarded as favourers of heresy rather than heretics: pertinacity extends to more vices than heresy.)


Chapter 1 All Christians believe (e) that the whole multitude of Christians cannot become heretics, some believe (d) that a general council cannot, some (c) that the Roman Church cannot, some (b) that the college of cardinals cannot, some (a) that the pope cannot. [These opinions are discussed in reverse order.]

(a) Can a pope become a heretic?

FIRST OPINION A pope who has entered office canonically can become a heretic. Texts: Hebrews 5:1-2, 1 Corinthians 10:12, Galatians 6:1. Canon law: Si papa, Sunt quidam, various glosses.

Chapter 2 Examples: Peter erred (Galatians 2), though not pertinaciously; Marcellinus (also not a heretic); Liberius, Anastasius II. A synod judged that Pope Symachus could be tried as a heretic (though he was not a heretic), which implies that a pope can become a heretic. Other examples: Leo, Sylvester. A definition of John XXII contradicted one of Nicholas III, so one of them must be a heretic; similarly John XXII has contradicted various other popes.

Chapter 3 Arguments: Election to the papal office does not make a person unable to sin or unable to err, or, therefore, unable to become a heretic: the pope is a mere "pilgrim", not confirmed irrevocably in grace.[Note 9] It is true that God could preserve the pope or a Council from error, but cannot be asserted that he certainly will unless he has revealed that he will. God has revealed that he will never permit the whole Church to err, but not that he will never permit pope or Council to err.

Either John XXII or Nicholas III was a heretic, since on poverty they have issued opposing definitions. John formerly supported Nicholas's definition. If a pope can contradict himself he can err.

Chapter 4 SECOND OPINION A pope who has entered office canonically can not become a heretic. Arguments (1) There is sure judgment in the Church militant[Note 10] about doubts arising concerning the faith, which could not be so if everyone in the Church can err; therefore there is someone in the Church militant who cannot err, and no one but the pope. (2) Questions of faith must be brought for decision to the pope, but if he could err he could not rightly make a definition. (3) A pope's decretals are counted among canonical scriptures, which they could not be if the pope could err against faith. (4) Anyone who doubted the judgment of the high priest under the old law deserved death (Deuteronomy 17:8-13), and the pope has at least as much authority. (5) The office of the papacy makes the pope holy even if he was bad before, so he cannot become a heretic unless he renounces the papacy. (6) If the pope can become a heretic, any Christian can; if any member of a collective can become a heretic the whole collective can become heretical; therefore if the pope can become a heretic the whole Church can fall into heresy, which is against the gospel. (7) If a pope can err against faith he need not be obeyed in all things; but this is contrary to certain canons. (8) If a pope could become a heretic he could be judged by man; but the pope cannot be judged by man, as the canons attest.

Chapter 5 Replies to arguments for the second opinion: (1), (6) Any given individual, including the pope, can err, but God makes sure that there is always another who does not err, so that the whole Church will not err. ("Any member can err, therefore the whole community can err", is a fallacy.) A temporal lord might preserve a monastery by preventing every monk from being killed at the same time, but not defend them while they were many; if they were all killed but one, he would defend that one until he was joined by another and then leave them to themselves: he would not preserve anyone except in a certain situation and for a time. (2) Questions should be bought to the pope provided he has not actually fallen into heresy. (3) Only decretals consistent with the Bible and the teachings of the fathers should be accepted as authoritative. A pope can issue decretals that should not be accepted--as either John XXII or Nicholas III have done. (4) If the Old Testament high priest had ordered something against God's law he should not have been obeyed, and there are many examples. (5) The office of papacy does not necessarily confer holiness; there are many examples of popes who sinned. (The pope should be presumed to be holy unless it is clear that he is not.) (7) The pope should not be obeyed if he orders anything wrong. The canons apply when what he orders is permissible. (8) On occasion the pope can be judged by man.

(b) Can the cardinals become heretics?

Chapter 6 FIRST OPINION It is not possible for the whole college [i.e. body, corporation] of cardinals to become heretics. Arguments: (1), (2) According to the canons, the Roman Church cannot become heretical, and this means the college of cardinals. (3) The college of cardinals has the exclusive right to elect a pope, and if they all became heretics they could not elect a pope, so none could be elected. (4) The college of cardinals corrects and judges the pope if he becomes a heretic; but if they could all err, the pope would not be subject to their judgment. (5) The college of cardinals is the head, therefore if they became heretics the whole body of the Church would easily become heretical, which cannot happen. (6) If they could become heretical, then a fortiori any body of Christians could, and the whole Church could. (7) No Christian dares resist the college of cardinals in a matter of faith, so if they could be heretics the faith would be endangered. (8) The college of bishops succeeds the college of apostles, which could not become heretical; the college of cardinals is nobler than the college of bishops. (9) No one can accuse the college of cardinals of heresy since inferiors cannot accuse superiors; therefore it cannot be heretical. (10) The simple can be saved in the faith of the elders, and the cardinals are the greatest of the elders.

Chapter 7 SECOND OPINION It is possible for the whole college of cardinals to become heretics. They have not been confirmed in faith, and it is not certain that they will never err against faith. Arguments: (1) The college of cardinals was established by the pope, but only Christ can promise that a body will never err--Christ's promise does not depend on arrangements made by the pope. (2) The college of cardinals could be abolished by the pope, but the Church which cannot err cannot be abolished. (3) Christ made the promise in the time of the Apostles, that from that time until the end of the age the Church would not abandon the faith; but the college of cardinals did not exist until later. (4) If the pope can err the cardinals can, since they are inferior to the pope. (5) Many who are not cardinals can be saved, but outside the Church that cannot err none can be saved. (6) Whoever can err against morals can err against faith, but the cardinals can err against morals--sometimes wicked men are made cardinals. (7) The cardinals can err in choice of pope (e.g. because of simony), so a fortiori in questions of faith, which are more momentous. (8) The cardinals are not better than the Apostles, who did err--in the time of Christ's passion none of them remained steadfast. (9) "The place does not sanctify the man" (Chrysostom); an ecclesiastical dignity does not confer the impossibility of erring against faith. (10) The episcopate is more eminent than the college of cardinals (some cardinals have been appointed archbishops, and if appointment was needed they were not equivalent to archbishops already), and the body of bishops can err against the faith--Christ did not promise that the faith would remain among bishops until the end of the age. (11) There is only one Church militant that cannot err, viz. the congregation of believers, and the cardinals are only part of it. What belongs to the whole Church cannot, without necessary reason, be attributed to any part, even the main part. (12) The cardinals need advice, because otherwise general councils would be pointless; therefore the cardinals can err.

Chapter 8 Answer by those who hold the second opinion to arguments (chapter 6) for the first opinion: (1) "Roman Church" may not mean the college of cardinals; the term has various meanings. (2) "Apostolic see" has various senses. (3) At times the Emperor had power to choose the pope, and the Emperor could have become a heretic. If the cardinals became heretics, the choice of pope would devolve to others. (4) An heretical pope can be judged by a bishop (if the heresy is one already condemned), or by a general council. A heretic can be judged by someone who can (but has not yet) become a heretic. (5) It is not true that the heresy of the college of cardinals would corrupt absolutely all Christians. (6) Even if there is no particular body within the Church which cannot err, God will never permit the whole Church to err. (7) If the cardinals erred, some Christians would dare to resist. (8) It is not certain that all the bishops will not stray (in the time of anti-Christ). (9) In some cases inferiors can accuse superiors. (10) The simple can be saved in the faith of the elders, i.e. of the Apostles and martyrs, even if the cardinals err.

Chapter 9 Answer by those who hold the first opinion to arguments (chapter 7) for the second opinion: (1) Christ made a promise (not recorded in Scripture) that the Roman Church would not err. This is now the college of cardinals, which succeeds an earlier college that could not err. (2) The pope cannot abolish the college of cardinals, since he cannot change the status of the Church (25, q. 1, c. Que ad perpetuam). (3) The college of cardinals has succeeded an earlier body. (4) Although the Roman Church is inferior to the pope, who can err, it cannot err. (5) It is possible to be saved without being a cardinal, but no one who opposes the college of cardinals can be saved. (6) The college cannot err because it will be kept from doing so by God. (7) God may keep the Church safe in major matters though not in minor matters. (8) It is not because they have greater sanctity that they cannot err, but because of Christ's promise. (9) An ecclesiastical dignity does not make a person unable to err, but Christ will protect from error those who hold a certain dignity, just as Christ prevents the whole Church from erring even though any of its members can err. (10) One answer is that there may be several bodies in the Church which cannot err. Another is that the cardinals are inferior to bishops in some ways and superior in others. (11) There is only one Church militant, but there may be some parts of it that cannot err. (12) Advice is needed so that the decision may be more authenticated.

Chapter 10 Can pope and cardinals be heretics together? Answer: Some say no, because the Roman Church and the Apostolic See consist of pope and cardinals. Others say yes: otherwise general councils would be pointless; there is only one Church that cannot err; there is salvation outside the pope and cardinals; pope and cardinals can be wicked. These questions depend on the next question:

(c) Can the Roman Church become heretical?

Chapter 11 "The Roman Church" has various meanings, and various people say that the Roman Church in one or another sense cannot err. Some say that the Roman Church in the sense of the congregation of believers throughout the world cannot err, but the pope, cardinals and whole diocese of Rome can err.

Chapter 12 Evidence that "The Roman Church" can mean the congregation of all believers.

Chapter 13 FIRST OPINION That the Roman Church that is only part of the congregation of all believers can not err. Arguments: (1) According to Pope Pelagius, the Roman Church is "preferred to the rest of the churches... by the word of our Lord", and the work of God (this preference) cannot be destroyed by men (by the Romans falling into heresy). (2) Whoever tries to take from the Roman Church a divinely-given privilege becomes a heretic (Pope Nicholas); but if the Roman Church could fall into heresy it would lose every privilege. (3) All the churches are governed by the Roman Church (Pope Anacletus). If it fell into heresy the whole Church will be left unruled, contrary to Christ's promise. (4) A Church from which anyone who dissents is not a catholic can not err against faith, because no one should be excluded from the number of catholics because of a disagreement with heretics; but no one can be a catholic bishop unless he is in communion with the Roman Church (Ambrose). (5) No one can be saved outside the Roman Church (Jerome). (6) Whoever withdraws from the Roman Church is a schismatic (Cyprian, Innocent III). (7) A body cannot exist without members. The head is the principal member, and the Roman Church is the head of the Church. (8) No evil can destroy the Church established by the successions of bishops from the source of the apostolic see, and this is the Roman Church. (Pope Pelagius, Augustine). Texts: from Jerome.

Chapter 14 The answer will depend on whether it was God, or merely men, who made the Roman Church the ruler of the other churches: if God, then only God can deprive it of its rule, and the divine promise that the universal Church will never fall away implies that the Roman Church never will; but if men, then the promise does not have that implication. Hence a digression:

How did the Roman Church become ruler of the other Churches?

ONE OPINION[Note 11] makes six assertions: first, Christ did not appoint Peter to rule the other Apostles; second, he was not bishop of Rome; third, it was the other Apostles who appointed Peter to rule them; fourth, Christ has not given any priest power over other priests; fifth, before Constantine the Roman Church did not rule other churches; sixth, the Roman Church received primacy over the other churches from Constantine.

Chapter 15 Arguments for the first assertion: (1) Christ did not give Peter rule over the other Apostles, since he gave them power equal to Peter's. Mt 18:18: "Whatever you shall bind" was said to all the Apostles. In Mt 16:19 he promised to Peter (as representing all the Apostles) that he would give the keys, which he gave to all the Apostles at John 20:21-3. (2) Christ forbad such power at Lk 22:25-6, "the princes of the gentiles... not so among you". This included spiritual power--Christ's statement was prompted by a dispute about spiritual greatness (Lk 22:24-5). (3) "Feed my sheep" (John 21:17) means by teaching, example and correction; but all of Apostles were to do these things (Mt 28:19-20, "teach all nations", Mt 5:14-16, let men "see your good works", and John 20:23 "Whose sins you shall forgive...", were all addressed to all the Apostles).

Objection: The other Apostles were to correct in conscience, Peter in the external forum. Answer: Correction in the external forum was entrusted to the whole Church, Mt 18:15-18, "If he will not hear the Church, let him be as the heathen". Individuals such as Paul (1Tim 1:20) corrected on behalf of the Church, or some province of it. Objection: Then Christ left the Church without a head. Answer: Nevertheless he made adequate provision for the Church by leaving the Christian community power to choose one head or several according to the variety of persons, places and times [cf. 3.1 Dial., 2.20-28]. Christ did not decree that the Church must always have one head because sometimes this could damage the Church.

Texts supporting the first assertion: Anacletus, Cyprian, Augustine.

Chapter 16 Arguments for the opposite of the first assertion, that Christ did appoint Peter to rule the other Apostles: (1) The other Apostles were part of the Lord's flock when he said to Peter, "Feed my sheep" (John 21:7). (2) Christ gave Peter "rights over both the earthly and heavenly kingdoms" (Nicholas). (3) Christ made Peter head "so that he might pour forth his gifts from him, as from the head to the whole body" (Leo). (4) In the time of the Apostles it was Peter who appointed priests for all the churches (Innocent). (5) "Peter had received power to rule" (Gregory). (6) The Church sings, "You are... the Prince of the Apostles".

Chapter 17 Argument for the second assertion: If Peter had been bishop of Rome, Luke would have mentioned it in Acts of the Apostles. For the third: "The rest of the Apostles were equal..., and wanted him to be their chief" (Anacletus). For the fourth: Originally there was no distinction between priest and bishop, according to Jerome, who quotes Titus 1:5-7, 1 Tim. 4:14, 1 Peter 5:1, 2 John 1:1, 3 John 1:1. According to Jerome priests later appointed one of their number to be bishop, as a remedy for schism.

Chapter 18 For the fifth and sixth: Constantine conferred on the Roman bishop the privilege, which he did not have before then, of being head over all other bishops and priests (dist. 96, c. 14).

Chapter 19 Arguments for the opposite, that the Roman Church had primacy before Constantine: Three accounts of how the Roman Church gained primacy:

(a) From the general councils (dist. 17, para. Hinc etiam).

Chapter 20 (b) Directly from Christ, Mt 16:18, "You are Peter" (Pelagius, Nicholas, Anacletus, Gelasius, Leo).

Chapter 21 (c) From Peter's transferring his see from Antioch to Rome (Marcellinus, Anacletus, Anterius), and therefore indirectly from Christ--Christ gave Peter power to make the successive bishops of any church the heads of the whole Church by finally locating his see in that church. Could the pope transfer the papal see from Rome? Answer: Some say yes; others say, yes, but only if he did so at the command of the Lord, as Peter transferred from Antioch "at the Lord's command" (Marcellinus). [End of digression on how the Roman Church become ruler of the other churches.]

Can the Roman Church become heretical? (resumed)

Chapter 22 SECOND OPINION That the Roman Church that is only part of the congregation of believers can err. Arguments: (1) The same argument as was used above--that what is promised to the whole should not be attributed to a mere part, even the chief part. Christ's promise that it would not err was made to the whole congregation of believers. Objection: Christ said to Peter, "I have prayed for thee that thy faith fail not" (Lk 22:32). Answer: It does not follow that the faith of the Roman Church will never fail, only that there will always be believers somewhere. It would be rash[Note 12] to affirm that the Church of Rome will never fail, just as it would have been rash to affirm that the Church of Antioch would never fail. Objection: The Bible should be understood as the fathers have understood it, and they have applied the text to the Roman Church. Answer: Not to the Roman Church that is merely part, but to the Roman Church that is the congregation of all believers--or they mean that some part of the particular church of Rome will always be faithful, or that it has always been faithful in the past.

Chapter 23 Arguments for the second opinion continued: (2) When Christ promised that the Church would never fail, he was not referring to the particular church of Rome, since that did not then exist. He meant that the faith would always remain in some part or other (either the Church of Rome, or the Church of Pisa, etc). (3) The Church of Rome began before Peter arrived there, and at that time it was able to err against faith; and we do not read that it was afterwards confirmed in faith. Objection: But it was consecrated by Peter and Paul. Answer: Jesus consecrated the Jerusalem Church, and Peter and Paul consecrated other churches, but those churches have fallen away. (4) God permitted the Jerusalem Church to fail, so it is rash to say that the Roman Church never will. Objection: If all the Romans fall into heresy, the Roman Church will be elsewhere (as it is now in Avignon). Answer: The "Roman Church" in what sense? If you mean the whole congregation of believers it is true, otherwise not. (5) Though Christ was sent to save the lost sheep of the house of Israel (Mt 15:24), the Jews were not confirmed in faith so as not to be able to err; therefore not the Church of Rome. Objection: This would prove that the whole congregation of believers could err. Answer: No--the difference is that Christ provided another law in addition to the Jewish law, whereas he will not provide another law in addition to the Christian law, so there can be no salvation outside the Christian Church; but there can be outside the particular church of Rome. (6) Every church outside which there can be salvation can err. (7) A church that cannot err does not need advice; if the Roman Church could not err general councils would be pointless. (8) The pope by his own authority could transfer the papal see to another church and make the Roman Church subordinate; but this could not happen to a church that cannot err. (9) The Romans will perish before the day of judgment (Numbers 24:24), so it is rash to say that the faith will always remain among the Romans. Objection: The text from Numbers refers to the Roman temporal Empire. Answer: True, but if the Romans lose temporal power the city may become subject to unbelievers who may drive the Christians out. God could miraculously prevent this, but it is rash to say that he will (or that he will not). (10) God made sure that not all the angels fell with Satan, but did not keep any particular angels from falling; similarly he has promised that the whole Church will not fail, but not that any particular part will not.

Chapter 24 Replies to arguments for the first opinion: (1) It is false that the church preferred to the rest of the churches by the word of our Lord cannot fall into error, because this is not more true of the Roman Church than of the Church of Antioch (these churches were "preferred by the Lord's word" only in the sense that Peter located his see there). The works of God can be destroyed by men--human free will can destroy virtues, such as faith. We cannot know whether unbelievers will capture Rome and hold it until the end of the age, or whether Roman Christians will all become Muslims or follow anti-Christ. If such a thing happened, other Christians would be obliged to choose a pope when possible, and he would by right (though not in fact) be bishop of Rome, so in a sense the Roman Church would survive--but not because the particular church of Rome could not fail in faith. (2) Rome can lose privileges because the pope can transfer the papal see, or because the Romans all fall into heresy, or because the privilege of electing the pope has been transferred elsewhere (as Charlemagne and Otto had this right). By the Roman Church Nicholas means the pope, and by "taking away" he means asserting that Peter was not made head by Christ. (3) The universal Church could be ruled without the Roman Church which is distinct from the pope. If the pope falls into heresy, another pope can be chosen and the Church will not be without a ruler. (4) It is true that anyone who dissents from a church that does not err is not a Catholic, but this does not mean that that church can not err. (5) Being outside the Roman Church can mean simply not being a Roman, or it can mean being pertinaciously opposed to the teaching of the Roman Church. While the Roman Church does not err, no one outside it in the second sense can be saved. (6) Cyprian and Innocent mean, while the Roman Church is orthodox. (7) Unlike the human body, the Church can exist for a time without a head (on earth--it always has Christ as its head in heaven), though it should appoint an earthly head as soon as possible. The Church can therefore exist even if the Roman Church (as distinct from the pope) ceases to exist. (8) Evil could destroy the Roman Church. Every Catholic church, whether at Rome or Pisa or Naples, has been founded from an apostolic source. Even if all the Romans become heretics, the Church will continue to exist in Syria, Egypt, Ethiopia, India, or wherever God wills.

(d) Can a general council become heretical?

Chapter 25 FIRST OPINION A general council can err. Arguments: (1) A general council is merely part of the Church that cannot err, so it is rash to say that it cannot err. Objection: A general council represents the whole Church. Answer: So does the pope, who can err. Further, a representative does not have all the prerogatives of the community represented. (2) A general council can be dissolved by human will, whereas the Church that Christ promised will not err will last until the end of the age. (3) Those who can err when apart can err when they meet. Objection: Christ will help them, since "Where there are two or three gathered together in my name, there am I..." (Mt 18:20). Answer: God will help, but they are not confirmed in grace and faith so as not to be able to fall away. On this argument, provincial councils and other meetings of Christians would be unable to err. (4) A human summons or commission (which is all that convenes a council) does not confirm in faith. (5) If they cannot err, it must be because of (a) their wisdom, (b) their holiness, (c) their authority, or (d) Christ's promise. Not (a), because many wise may be outside the council who can defend the faith even if the council errs, and in any case God can reveal to children what is hidden from the wise (and demonstrate that our faith does not rest on human wisdom). Not (b), because holier people may be outside the council, and in any case holiness does not confirm in faith. Not (c), because authority does not confirm in faith. Not (d), because in his promise Christ did not mention a council.

Chapter 26 Examples showing that a general council can err, in which a synod was contradicted by another synod or by a pope. (A general council is one called by the pope, even if not all bishops come--they never do.)

Chapter 27 SECOND OPINION A general council can not err. Arguments: (1) A council judges a pope accused of heresy (dist. 19, Anastasius, gloss on concilio); but if it could err he could justifiably reject its judgment. (2) Unless there is sure judgment in the Church militant about questions of faith, the whole Church could err. But final judgment is passed by a council. Therefore it cannot err. (3) It is not permissible to appeal from a general council on a question of faith; but against any decision that may be mistaken an appeal should be possible. (4) A general council cannot be accused of heresy, since there is no superior to judge it; so it must not be able to err. (5) The works of a general council "persist stable and most vigorous" (Isidore). (6) According to Gregory, the decisions of the four principal councils must be accepted because "they have been established by universal consent"; therefore the decisions of other councils supported by general consent must be accepted. (7) According to Gelasius, the acts and constitutions of all general councils should be "observed and guarded". (8) If a general council erred the Church would err, because no one would dare to defend the orthodox faith.

Chapter 28 Replies to arguments for the second opinion: (1) A pope could reject the judgment of a council that does err, but is bound to obey the true judgment of one that does not (though it could have erred). Similarly Christians are bound to obey the true judgment of pope or bishop, even though pope and bishop are capable of error. (2) Distinguish "Judgment of knowledge" from "judgment of judicial authority". The first will always be found in the Church, because until the end of the world there will always be catholics who believe what catholics are bound to believe explicitly, and be ready to inquire about other things (of which pious doubt is better than rash definition)--about such things it will never happen that all Catholics err or doubt pertinaciously. But it is not necessary that there should always be in the Church certain judgment of judicial authority, and at times there has not been. (3) It is possible to appeal from an erroneous decision by a general council, to another, and to another, or to a pope, or to the universal Church (if it can meet), until Catholics agree. If heresy is too widespread, the remaining orthodox must suffer in silence. (4) An orthodox council is subject to no one, but if a council falls into error it is possible to accuse it of heresy to a Catholic pope, or to some other person or college remaining Catholic. (5) Isidore and (6) Gregory and (7) Gelasius refer to councils that do not err. (8) Catholics would remain who would dare to defend the orthodox faith. If all the clergy fell away, the faith would be defended by simple laypeople. This leads to an incidental inquiry:

Can all the clergy become heretics?

Chapter 29 FIRST OPINION All the clergy can become heretics. Arguments: (1) The main argument is the one often used before, that only the one Church militant is unable to err; the whole body of the clergy is part of this Church, and not identical with the whole. (2) According to Jerome, priests and doctors divide the Church and mislead the people; therefore all priests (and other clergy) can err. (3) The laity can all err, and the clergy are worse than the laity (according to a gloss). (4) "Evil has proceded from priests" (another gloss). (5) According to Jerome, the laity can judge bad clergy; some of the clergy, therefore, can err against morals and against faith. (6) According to Jerome, the laity can be better than the clergy. Therefore, just as the whole multitude of the laity can err against the faith, so can the whole multitude of the clergy. (7) According to Chrysostom, all the clergy can sin and scarcely any is truly penitent. (8) No church office necessarily confers grace and virtue or confirm in faith. (9) If the clergy could not err, this would be because of (a) their authority, (b) their holiness, (c) their wisdom and learning or (d) because the whole catholic faith would be endangered [and then as in Chapter 25, argument 4, above]. (10) At the time of Christ's passion, all the apostles erred in faith.

It is rash to assert that any body of people cannot err unless it can be proved from Christ's words (Mt 28:20) promising that the faith will remain until the end of time. But Christ made no mention of the clergy, or of any other particular body within the Church. We can only be sure that the whole Church will not err.

Chapter 30 SECOND OPINION All the clergy can not become heretics. Arguments: (1) The Church cannot err, and the clergy are the Church--as is shown by certain canon law texts. (2) The Church will never be without an authority to decide questions of faith and correct heretics, but only the clergy do this, because it pertains to the Apostolic see, over whom clergy preside. (3) The clergy are not subject to the judgment of any but clergy. (4) Only the clergy have power to choose a pope. (5) In the Church there must exist the power of the keys, but only the clergy have that power. (6) Christ will always be with the Church in his sacramental presence, therefore there must always be priests to consecrate. (7) The ecclesiastical hierarchy will continue until the end of the age, but it consists of clergy. Confirmation of 5-7: If the clergy could be eliminated by heresy, they could be eliminated by death, and then no further clergy could be ordained and the Church would ever afterwards lack the keys, the real presence, and the hierarchy. (8) Whoever is separated from the clergy cannot have peace with the Church (Cyprian).

Chapter 31 Replies to arguments for the second opinion: (1) "Church" has various senses. In the Bible it can mean a material building, or the congregation of believers including both men and women (as in Acts 20:28, Philemon v. 2, etc.). In canon law it has sometimes been restricted to the clergy. It is the Church in the sense of the congregation of the believers that cannot err. The clergy can err. (2) It is not true that only the clergy can decide questions of faith and correct heretics; normally the laity do not do these things, but they can if the clergy fall into heresy. (3) If the clergy fall into heresy they can be judged by the laity--clerical immunity was granted by the laity, who did not intend to grant immunity to heretics. (4) If the clergy were all heretics, the election of a pope would devolve upon the laity. (5), (6), (7) Some say that there will always remain one catholic bishop. But those who hold that all the clergy may fall into heresy say that the Church would not lose the power of the keys etc., but God would supply these powers by miracle. (It is rash to assert that this will happen, or that it will not.) (8) If the clergy are orthodox, whoever is separated from the clergy can not be at peace with the Church, but if the clergy are heretics this is not so--rather, those who did not separate from them, unless non-culpably ignorant, could not have peace with the Church of God. Another incidental question:

Can all male Christians become heretics?

Chapter 32 FIRST OPINION all males (both clergy and lay) can err. Arguments: (1) The men are only part of the Church that will not fail; the faith could be preserved by women. (2) Argument like Chapter 25, argument 4, above. (3) The whole multitude of men erred at the time of Christ's passion, and no revelation tells us that that they cannot err now.

Chapter 33 Objection: It should not be believed that all men will err, or that unbelievers will occupy the whole of Christendom. For (1) according to Mt 24:21-1, Christ foretold that there never was and will never be as much suffering as the Romans caused under Titus and Vespasian, and (2) in Mt 24:24 he predicts that even in the time of anti-Christ some will preserve the faith.

Chapter 34 Answer (after a reminder that the Master is not affirming these opinions, and a warning that they should not be ascribed to Brother Michael and his followers): Christ was not talking about the suffering caused by the Romans, since the suffering caused by Noah's flood was greater than that, and so was the suffering of Sodom. Unbelievers may at times suffer more, but the suffering of believers in the time of anti-Christ will be greater than the suffering of believers ever has been, perhaps so great that few believers will survive; whether these believers will be men or women we do not know. From the prediction that some of the elect will survive it cannot be inferred that the survivors will include men.

Some assert that it is rash to predict that Christians will be more constant in faith than the Jews were, whether the number of true Christians will become very few, whether Saracens or other unbelievers will occupy all the lands of Christendom--or to predict the opposite; but even if believers become few God can use them to re-convert the world. If the Saracens invade, it will be rash for Christians to presume that divine power will protect them, when they commit so many sins. Only God knows what will happen, and those to whom he reveals it. Objection: Faith in Christ will persist until the end of the age. Answer: But perhaps only in a few scattered Christians hiding in the lands occupied by the unbelievers.

(e) Can the whole congregation of believers become heretics?

Chapter 35 Master: No one (except Jews and Saracens) would assert that all Christians can become heretics: this is false, and any argument to prove it will be fallacious. Student: Yet fallacious arguments difficult to resolve are often produced in favour of falsehoods, so try to find some. Arguments to prove that all Christians may err: (1) Faith is a matter of will, and on account of freedom of will and ability to sin, any Christians, and therefore all Christians, can fall away from the faith. (2) No Christian in this life has been confirmed in faith, therefore all can fall away. (3) If certain people can err when part of a larger body (the other parts of which do not strengthen the goodness or virtue of this part), then they can err when the other parts are absent. If all Christians of the present generation were joined by others (e.g. if none of the present generation died while others were born), all the members of the present generation could err [since Christ's promise that there will always be some faithful could be satisfied by the others]; therefore all the members of the present generation can err now. (4) If only two bishops were left, they could err before anyone else became a Catholic: first, because neither has been confirmed in faith; second, because God would not have greater care for two bishops than he had for Adam and Eve, who could have fallen [and did] when they were alone. (5) Even if all Christians having the use of reason were to err, Christ's promise would be kept through baptised infants.[Note 13]


Note 1 "Church" sometimes means the physical place set aside for the divine services, sometimes some particular body of clerics, sometimes the whole body of all clerics, sometimes some particular gathering of the clergy and people, sometimes the whole gathering of believers living together in this mortal life, and sometimes the whole gathering of catholics alive or dead. On the meanings of "Church" see also 1 Dial. 5.31. On the various meanings of "Roman Church" see 1 Dial. 5.11-12.

Note 2 See David Luscombe, "William of Ockham and the Michaelists on Robert Grosseteste and Denis the Areopagite", in The Medieval Church: Universities, Heresy and the Religious Life (ed. Peter Biller and Barrie Dobson), Studies in Church History. Subsidia Series, Boydell and Brewer, Woodbridge, Suffolk, 1999. See also I. Murdoch, Critical Edition of Pierre D'Ailly's "Abbreviatio dyalogi okan", Ph D thesis Monash University, 1981, p. 3.

Note 3 On medieval discussion of this topic see J.A. Weisheipl, "Classification of the Sciences in Medieval Thought", Mediaeval Studies, 27 (1965), pp. 54-90.

Note 4 According to Aristotle the user (e.g. the educated person) judges the work of the artisan, the horseman judges the work of the bridle maker: in practical matters the end provides the criterion of the means. Of speculative sciences, some are subalternate to others (e.g. astronomy, optics, harmonics and mechanics are subalternated to geometry); see Posterior Analytics, I.13, 78 b35-79 a13. For Ockham's views on subalternation see Summa logicae, III.ii.21 (G. Gál and S. Brown, eds. Opera Philosophica, 1 (St Bonaventure, 1974), pp. 539-42. See also J. Livesey, "William of Ockham, the Subalternate Sciences and Aristotle's theory of metabasis", British Journal for the History of Science, 18 (1985), pp. 127-45. According to Ockham, the one science may be subalternated in various of its parts to several other sciences--here canon law is subalternated in some parts to theology and in others to moral philosophy.

Note 5 According to Marsilius of Padua, "for eternal salvation it is necessary for us to believe in or acknowledge as irrevocably true no writings except those which are called 'canonic' [i.e. the Bible], or their necessary consequences, or those interpretations or definitions of doubtful meaning of the holy Scriptures which have been made by the general council of faithful or catholic Christians"; Defensor Pacis, II.xix.1 (tr. A. Gewirth, Toronto, 1980, p. 274). Marsilius' views are discussed further in 3.1 Dial., 3, 4, "on account of the remarks of some people that were not available to us at the time" of writing 1 Dial. (3.1 Dial., 3.1)--from this it seems that Ockham had not read Marsilius' book when he wrote part 1.

Note 6 On the condemnations by Tempier, Kilwardby and Pecham see Gilson, History of Christian Philosophy, pp. 406, 359. On John XXII's revocation of the 1277 condemnation of opinions of Thomas Aquinas see Annaliese Maier and J-P Torrell *******. On the Franciscan condemnation of Peter John Olivi see David Burr, Olivi and Franciscan Poverty, chapter 4, p. 88ff and pp. 109 and 125; see also Leo Amorós, "Series condemnationum et processuum contra doctrinam et sequaces Petri Ioannis Olivi", Archivum franciscanum historicum, 24 (1931), pp. 399-45. This is a document that may have been composed by Bonagratia of Bergamo, written post 1328. On p. 509 it mentions a chapter at Marseilles, called by Michael of Cesena in 1319, which examined the errors of Peter John Olivi and condemned them and passed sentence of excommunication against every brother who knowingly held and used his books.

Note 7 Closing off these various excuses except the last presents a dilemma: Either the second view put forward in Book 1 is correct, and heresy is the concern of theologians (and indeed may only be recognised by expert theologians after subtle investigation), or the canonist popes have been negligent.

Note 8 The question is, how to infer from external signs that a person is mentally pertinacious? The signs establish a presumption. In some cases a presumption is merely "probable", and evidence to the contrary should be considered. In other cases it is "violent", i.e. conclusive, so that no contrary evidence can disprove it. But even in the latter case the inference may be mistaken. See Extra, De presumptionibus, c. Afferte, v. data (Corpus iuris canonici, Lyons, 1671, vol. 1, col. 786).

Note 9 A pilgrim or wayfarer is a Christian still in this life, on his or her way to heaven. During this life a Christian who is in a state of grace can fall away--i.e. commit sin, lose grace. Only in heaven will the state of grace be "confirmed", so that it can never be lost.

Note 10 The Church "militant" is the Church on active service in this world, i.e. the body of Christians now living.

Note 11 This is the opinion of Marsilius of Padua, Defensor Pacis, II.xvi-xviii (ed. cit., p. 241ff).

Note 12 From here on arguments often rest on the tacit premise that we should not make "rash" predictions, i.e. assume that something will happen when it is possible, for all we know, that the opposite will happen.

Note 13 The answer to the first four arguments can be gathered from Book 5, chapter 5. The answer to the fifth is not obvious. In view of the warnings at the beginning of Chapters 34 and 35, it would be rash to ascribe to Ockham the view that the faith may be preserved only in baptised infants. Elsewhere he interprets Christ's promise as implying that in every "day" there will be some orthodox Catholic who can "speak out" in defence of the Catholic truth, and (by definition) infants cannot speak out.