Chapter 9

Student: Again you are pulling me towards material which I would be unwilling to have reviewed in the present context. Give therefore a succinct narration of the manner in which these opponents respond to the authorities and arguments which have been advanced.

Master: The answer to the first authority (that of Gregory of Naziance) is: that by the tribunal and rulership of prelates he means the power which they are known to possess over penitents in the forum of conscience. Indeed this power, because it is spiritual and ordained for the purpose of acquiring life eternal, is much more perfect than any coercive temporal jurisdiction of kings and princes which was primarily instituted for the administration of wordly affairs. The answer to the authority of Pope Felix is: that the royal will should be subject to priests in the matter of learning the catholic faith and receiving ecclesiastical sacraments, if the priests maintain orthodox faith and do not command anything contrary to justice. But if priests should deviate from catholic truth or usurp for themselves a power which they legally do not possess, in this kings are in no way subjects. Therefore the words of Pope Felix must be understood sensibly, and are not to be expounded by reference to the ambition of clerks who wish to dominate over peoples and clergy contrary to the doctrine of the blessed apostle Peter [1 Peter 5:2-3] and with prejudice to kings and princes. A similar answer is given to c. Duo sunt and c. Si imperator. For these opponents say that the pope possesses from the general council and the universal church a certain authority over rulers which goes beyond the one he has received from Christ and in his capacity as the successor of blessed Peter.

Now as to the initial argument advanced to prove that the emperor is inferior to the pope, the answer is, first of all, that the major is not universally true but becomes relevant when someone spontaneously swears fealty to another, for prior to the oath he is not always inferior to the one to whom he swears it, though by the oath he does in some sense make himself inferior to this other. While the minor of the argument is addressed in two ways. One approach is that the emperor never swore fealty to the pope save by his own spontaneous will, and therefore by such an oath he did not at all impose upon his successor a similar legal obligation. Another response is that the emperor could have sworn fealty to the pope by ordination of the Romans from whom the emperor had received his jurisdiction, and in this transaction the pope would not have represented blessed Peter nor been the vicar of Christ, but in this he would have been the trustee of the Romans. A similar response is given to the second argument: that the pope did not transfer the empire from the Greeks to the Romans in his capacity as the vicar of Christ and the successor of blessed Peter; since by reason of this vicarship and of the given succession the Pope did not possess greater authority over the empire than over the kingdom of the Franks or that of the English. Therefore, just as he cannot transfer the kingdom of the Franks from one house to another in his capacity as vicar of Christ and successor of blessed Peter, so by reason of the vicarship and succession he could not have transferred the empire of the Romans from nation to nation. He therefore transferred the empire from nation to nation by the authority of the Romans who for reasonable cause granted to him a power of this kind. There is a threefold response to the third argument. For there are some who say that since excommunication is more a function of jurisdiction than of order, the pope can excommunicate no one in his capacity as the vicar of Christ and the successor of blessed Peter, but he has the power to excommunicate from the universal church which transferred such power to him. Others say however that it is the emperor in the empire and the king in his kingdom who has the power to excommunicate, not the pope.

Student: I consider these opinions to be erroneous, and find the second one particularly repugnant. Nevertheless I shall discourse with you about them in a different treatise. Now however let us have the third response.

Master: The third response is that as the vicar of Christ the pope has the power to excommunicate but in no way that of imposing a greater penalty. For they say that excommunication is the final penalty which ecclesiastical persons may inflict [ John of Paris, ch. 13]. In this, say these opponents, the pope is superior to the emperor, yet in other matters, namely in any temporal jurisdiction, he is inferior to the emperor. The answer to the fourth argument is that the pope by reason of his papal office cannot depose the emperor, just as he cannot in his capacity as pope depose the king of France. But in the same manner that Pope [Zacharias] deposed the king of the Franks by authority of the people of that kingdom and thus it is they who primarily performed the deposition, and, witness the gloss to 15 q. 6 c. Alius, Zacharias "is said to have deposed who gave his consent to those who were deposing" [s.v. deposuit, col. 1083] just so might the Pope depose the Emperor by authority of the Romans. The answer to the fifth argument is that in temporal affairs the Pope as such cannot legitimize those who are illegitimate. Should he however legally have done this de facto, he would have done it by reason of some other power which is not connected to the papacy.

Student: Respond to the second main argument.

Master: The answer to the second argument is that by reason of his office the pope is not free of those imperial laws which are not incompatible with the laws of God, although he may perhaps have been released therefrom from another quarter. The answer to the third principal argument is that clerks belong to the forum of the secular powers unless they have been exempted by the authority of kings or of the general council. The answer to the fourth argument is that in temporal matters one may appeal from the pope to the emperor unless the former has been exempted [from the normal appeal process] by the universal church. To the fifth argument one says that Christ did entrust to Peter the rights of the earthly empire, that is to say, power over the bad in spiritual matters, not in temporal affairs.