What Is The Source Of The Roman Empire? Opinion 3: The Roman Empire Is From The Pope Chapter 23 ~ William Of Ockham

What is the source of the Roman Empire? 

Opinion 3: The Roman Empire is from the Pope

Chapter 23 

Student That reply [[ratio or responsio?]], to which perhaps we will return later, is clearly refuted. So touch on another argument for the same conclusion.

Master [7] Another argument is as follows. The power of the Roman empire is from that person who received from Christ the power of binding and loosing everything. But Christ gave that power to blessed Peter when he said to him, as we read in Matthew 16:18-19, "You are Peter and on this rock I will build my church and the gates of Hades will not prevail against it. And I will give you the keys of the kingdom of heaven, and whatever you bind on earth will be bound in heaven, and whatever you loose on earth will be loosed in heaven." Blessed Peter, therefore, could do everything. And consequently he could give the empire to the emperor.

Student Although we will be able to find many things about the basis of that argument in the tract, On the power of the pope and clergy, yet tell me briefly here whether everyone agrees that the pope can do everything without any exception. For it seems that it is so, since Innocent III seems expressly to think and say this when he says, as we find in Extra, De maioritate et obedientia, c. Solite [c.6, col.196] "... in order to pass over as very well known that the Lord said to Peter, and in Peter said to his successors, `Whatever you bind on earth will also be bound in heaven' etc, excepting nothing in saying, `Whatever'.

Master Many regard it as a heresy to say that the pope can do anything without any exception, even speaking about those things which can be done by man. This is (i) because he can do nothing which is against divine law or natural law and (ii) because there are many things which are not against divine law or natural law that he can not do, many of which indeed can be done by others.

Student I do not doubt that the pope can not do anything which is against divine law or natural law. So do not give any examples of those things, but touch briefly on some other examples which others bring forward to prove that the pope can not do everything which is not against divine law or against natural law.

Master The first example is that he can not appoint the successor who is pope after him, (8, q. 1, para. His omnibus [c.7, col.591]).

The second is that it is not against divine or natural law, but in agreement with it, that unbelievers should receive the faith. And yet the pope can not compel unbelievers to receive the faith, (dist. 45, De Iudaeis c.5, col.161] and 23, q. 5, c. Ad fidem [c.33, col.939] and c. Quali nos [c.44, col.943]).

The third is that without blame he can not compel anyone to enter religion, 20, q. 3, c. Praesens [c.4, col.849].

The fourth is that without manifest fault or reason he can not order anyone to maintain their virginity, as Ambrose attests when he says, as we read in 32, q. 1, c. Integritas [c.13, col.1119], "For virginity alone, to which one can be persuaded, can not be commanded. It is a matter more of a vow than of a command."

From these words the fifth example is taken, namely that the pope can command nothing supererogatory of anyone, without blame and without a reason, so that he can not command chastity or fasting on anyone except by reason of some fault or for some clear cause, dist. 74, c. Gesta c.2, col.262], where blessed Gregory says, "As it is just that no one who is unwilling is compelled to multiply, so I think that it should be resolved that no one who is guiltless is to be ejected unjustly from the ministry of his order." From these words it is argued as follows. By plenitude of power the pope can not eject anyone unjustly. Nor can he, therefore, by plenitude of power force anyone who is unwilling to multiply, except by reason of some fault or for some cause.

The sixth is that the pope can not exempt a monk so that he may have his own goods or contract matrimony, Extra, De statu monachorum, c. Cum ad monasterium [c.6, col.599], where we find the following, "The renunciation of property, like the guarding of chastity, has been so bound to the monastic rule that the highest pontiff can not grant freedom from it."

The seventh is that without a reason the pope can not grant an exemption from any vow at all, as the gloss on Extra, De voto et voti redemptione, c. Non est voti [col.1280] attests. About the word fulfil it says, "He whom the pope exempts is not safe with respect to God unless there is a reason for the exemption, just as he is not said to be absolved who suppresses the reason for excommunication. That one who is granted an exemption without a reason will nevertheless be exempted with respect to the church; with respect to God the allegation will not avail him."

The eighth is that the pope can not alienate the estates and possessions of the church except for a reason and in the due manner, 12, q. 2, c. Non liceat [c.20, col.693], where Pope Symachus speaks as follows, "Let the pope not be permitted to alienate an estate of the church in any way at all," that is at his own pleasure, although he can do so in a particular case in the due manner. Nor does a pope impose a law on his successor, but shows what he can not by right do, as the gloss on dist. 40, c. Si papa says. [[col. 195-7, but the gloss is not there.]]

The ninth is that according to blessed Gregory formerly a pope could not compel subdeacons to chastity. As we find in 27, q. 2, c. Multorum [c.20, col.1068] and dist. 31, c. Ante triennium [c.1, col.111] he rejects a constitution of his predecessor. As the gloss on the chapter Ante triennium (col. 149) says, he [the predecessor] commanded that subdeacons who had not promised chastity "or had been content with their wives were to be deprived of their benefices. Later that same predecessor of Gregory, that is Pelagius, issued a constitution in which he absolutely restrained subdeacons from mixing in any way with their wives from that time on." In writing about this constitution blessed Gregory says [col.111] "Three years ago the subdeacons of all the churches of Sicily were, in the custom of the church of Rome, restrained," by Pope Pelagius, "from mixing with their wives. It seems to me unsuitable and harsh that he who has not learnt the practice of chastity and has not promised purity beforehand should be compelled to be separated from his wife and because of her absence fall into worse [behaviour]." In conveying the legal problem of this chapter the gloss says the following of that constitution of Pope Pelagius [col.149], "But that constitution was unjust because someone who did not promise chastity was forced to preserve it. It is retracted here by Gregory and established here that those who are not subdeacons will not be forced to preserve it unless they want to. If there are any in the future who are to be ordained, however, they are not to be admitted unless they promise chastity." And the gloss on the word harsh [col. 149] says, as follows, "The statute of Pelagius was against the gospel in which only fornication is expressly mentioned. And therefore it was rejected."

Student If what Pope Pelagius commanded was against the gospel, that example does not prove that the pope can not do everything which is not against divine or natural law.

Master The reply to you is that that statute of Pelagius was both against the gospel and against the freedom or right of those subdeacons and their wives, because he wanted to force the subdeacons to be chaste, notwithstanding the gospel and notwithstanding the freedom or right of both the subdeacons and their wives. For it was in the power of the subdeacons, with the consent of their wives, to be chaste and this was not against the gospel. But Pope Pelagius could not take that power away from the subdeacons and their wives, as Gregory attests. He was not able, therefore, to do everything that was not against divine or human law. And from this opinion of Gregory we conclude that the pope can do nothing against the freedom and right of any christian, even in spiritual matters, except by reason of fault or for some clear cause, since no one can deprive [another] of his right and his freedom without some fault or for some reason. And except by reason of fault or for some cause, therefore, he can not enjoin on anyone, except at his own bidding, fasting to which he is not bound or alms to which he is not bound or anything else similar.

Student We will be able to find many things about this, as about other matters, in the tract On the power of the pope and clergy. Touch briefly, therefore, on some more examples.

Master A tenth is that he can not force anyone who steadily refuses to do so, to take on authority [[or to accept a dignity]], as the gloss on 23, q. 4, c. Displicet notes.

An eleventh is that he can not decree that he not be accused of heresy, as the gloss on dist. 40, c. Si papa [col. 195] attests when it asks, "Can the pope decree that he can not be accused of heresy?" In reply it says, "No, because by that the whole church would be endangered." And by a similar argument he could not decree that he can not in whatever way at all be accused of some other crime, since he can not decree that he can not be accused of that crime for which he can be deposed. But for any other crime the pope can, in a particular case, be deposed, as the gloss in the same place [col. 195] attests when it says, "Certainly I believe that if his crime, whatever it is, is notorious and the church is as a result scandalised and he is incorrigible, then he can be accused", and, consequently, judged, because the accusation should be made before a judge. He can not decree, therefore, that he can not be accused of and judged for any crime at all.

According to some people a twelfth is that he can not compel someone to confess a sin which he has confessed to someone else who could absolve him, because the confession of sins is something sacramental which lies under divine command not human.

A thirteenth is that the pope can not force someone to contract marriage. Some people offer an argument for this, saying that a man is not bound to obey man but only God with respect to those things which pertain to the nature of the body, because all men are equal in nature, that is in those things which pertain to the sustenance of the body and the generation of offspring, as in the contracting of marriage, the maintaining of virginity or anything else of this kind.

A fourteenth is that the pope can not legitimate in temporal affairs, as is noted in Extra, Qui filii sunt legitimi, c. Per venerabilem [c.13, col.714].

A fifteenth, which includes very many [examples], is that outside the lands subject to his temporal jurisdiction the pope can not do those things which a temporal lord can do to his slaves, in so far as they are slaves.

Student That example has strength from the fact that not all men are pure slaves of the highest pontiff, because if the pope could do everything which was not against natural or divine law he would be able to do everything against emperors, kings, princes, and all mortals generally which any lord can do against any slave of his and so no one except the pope would be free but all would be slaves of the pope. Now although we could find many things about that, as also about all the other many things which pertain to the power of the pope, in the first tractate of this third part of our dialogue, would you nevertheless try to show briefly here by argument that not all men are pure slaves of the pope.

Master This seems provable in many ways. Firstly, as follows: kings, princes and other laymen have ownership of temporal things. A slave, however, has nothing of his own. Therefore not everyone is a slave of the pope. Secondly, as follows: there is a difference between slaves of the church and of others. Therefore not all men are slaves of the highest pontiff. Thirdly, as follows: the pope does not have all the same power in the lands subject to his jurisdiction and in the others not subject to his temporal jurisdiction. Therefore not all men are pure slaves of the highest pontiff. Fourthly, as follows: there are some men who do not have principal lords, Extra, De haereticis, c. Excommunicamus [c.15, col.789]. Therefore not all men are slaves of the pope. Fifthly, as follows: if all men were pure slaves of the pope, the pope could at his pleasure alienate any temporal thing at all. He could alienate at his pleasure, therefore, the estates of the church, against 12, q. 2, c. Non liceat papae [c.20, col.693]. Sixthly, as follows: the pope should not domineer over the clergy, according to Peter's statement (1 Peter 5:3), "Not domineering over the clergy." Therefore clerics are not pure slaves of the highest pontiff.


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