Pope Francis & No Arms Dancer

Student: Were you to provide arguments in support of each and every aforewritten assertion, I fear that you would create for readers a boring prolongation of the discussion. I therefore turn to defenders of heretical wickedness. Concerning these, I request that you state what punishment should be the lot of those who are defenders of heretical wickedness, whether they defend heretical wickedness by prohibiting opponents of this wickedness from attacking it (namely by inflicting persecution and harm upon them for attacking the heretical wickedness staining a heretic pope), or by incinerating the scripts of their catholic allegations against the errors of a heretic pope, or by maliciously preventing these scripts (by whatever means) from coming to the notice of others.

Master: It appears to certain thinkers that these are indeed the methods whereby a person infected by heretical wickedness is defended. Some hold as to this defense that such defenders of a heretic pope sin no less than the heretic pope himself, nor ought they to suffer a lesser punishment. In fact, they say that such defenders are to be considered heretics. Because, just as it is possible to lie by deed according to Ambrose (we have this in 22 q. ultima c. Cavete), [22 q. 5 c. 20, col. 888] so is it possible to consent to heresy and to assert it by one's action. Consequently, someone may be shown to be an obvious heretic by his acts, without reference to words. Therefore the aforesaid defenders of heretical wickedness are to be viewed as heretics, and are to suffer the punishment of heretics, a contention apparently capable of being proved in many ways. For Pope Urban seemingly feels as much when he states (as we read in 24 q. 3. c. Qui aliorum): "he who defends the error of others is to be condemned much more than they who err, for he is not only himself in error, but also prepares and confirms stumbling blocks of errors for others. Hence, being a teacher of error, he is not only a heretic, but must also be labeled a heresiarch". [col. 999] One gathers from these words that defenders of errors are to be reckoned heretics, and are to be condemned more than those who err. Therefore an equal punishment is also to be inflicted upon them.

Student: This authority seems to be irrelevant, for it speaks of those who defend errors by arguing in their favour either verbally or in writing. This is clear enough, since the authority states that he "prepares and confirms stumbling blocks of error for others", and also by the fact that it states that he "is a teacher of error". These descriptions seem to pertain to arguments in favour of errors, and do not apply to those who impede, persecute, or do harm to individuals opposing the errors, nor to those who destroy critical scripts or prevent them from being published among catholics.

Master: The response is that your point is worthless. For although the aforesaid authority of Urban must be understood of those who argue pertinaciously, verbally or in writing, in support of the errors of others, it must nonetheless also be understood of those who defend the errors of others by deed, in that those who defend the errors of others by deed in the ways described appear to be committing a more serious sin than those who merely argue in support of these errors. Indeed, those who defend by action (in the ways described) the errors of a heretic pope, are known to be sinning directly against both God and their neighbour. For they prevent the manifestation of catholic truth, and also do serious injury to the very opponents of heretical wickedness, in that they inflict harm upon their persons, and besmirch their reputation by dealing outrageously with their catholic allegations. On the other hand, those who presume to argue pertinaciously in support of the errors of others merely verbally or in writing, only appear to be committing a sin against God. And therefore, if those who defend by merely arguing in support of errors are more to be condemned than those who err, then all the more those who, in order to support and defend errors, cruelly persecute the opponents of errors and besmirch the latter's reputation by dealing outrageously and abusively with their catholic arguments, should receive a greater condemnation than those who err (if they only adopt the error and do nothing else besides). When one states, however, that Urban is speaking of someone who prepares and confirms stumbling blocks of error for others, and of someone who is a master of error (two characteristics which only apply to individuals who argue in support of error), the answer is that both of these characteristics may in some manner be applicable to those who persecute the opponents of errors, and to those who destroy the scripted allegations against errors. For such an individual may be said to prepare stumbling blocks of error to others in some fashion, and to confirm these in so far as he removes the factors which prohibit error. Indeed, sometimes one who removes prohibitions may be called the cause of what ensues. He may also in some sense be termed a master of errors to the extent that he in fact teaches and demonstrates that errors are to be professed.

Student: Bring forth other arguments in support of the main contention.

Master: Isidore appears to witness in its favour when he states (we have it in 11 q. 3 c. Qui consentit peccantibus): "he who gives his consent to sinners, and defends another who is committing a crime, will be cursed before God and men, and subjected to the most severe reprobation. This is where a most holy father says: 'if someone defends a sinner he will be punished more forcefully than the one who commits the sin' [St Basil, Regulae breviores, regula 7]". [col. 671] One gathers from these words that he who defends a heretic pope by persecuting his opponents and their arguments by imputing the crime of heresy to them, must be punished more forcefully than the heretic pope.

Student: This authority only speaks of one who defends a criminal, and not of a defender of heretical wickedness, and thus it seems irrelevant to the contention.

Master: The answer is that when it speaks generally of someone who defends a criminal, it must also be understood of someone who defends the heresy held by the pope, for it is a greater or no lesser a sin to defend iniquity, when he who commits it would require to be defended if there were no iniquity involved.

Student: May it be proved otherwise that such defenders of heresies in which a heretic pope is involved must suffer the punishment of heretics.

Master: It seems that one may prove this as follows. Those who consent are to suffer the same penalty as those who commit the act, a point which appears above all as needing to be understood of those who consent by providing defense or even by providing authority. This seems attested by the gloss to Extra, De officio et potestate iudicis delegati, c. 1 [c. Quia quaesitum, col. 158] which states: "in the fourth instance of authority or defense, he who consents by defending and by providing authority commits a greater sin than the doer of the act, and must receive a greater punishment, 24 q. 3 c. Qui aliorum, and 11 q. 3 c. Qui consentit". [s.v. pari pena, col. 327] Therefore those who defend heretical wickedness in the ways described must suffer the penalty of heretics.

Student: I have listened to the opinion of some concerning those who defend heretical wickedness by their actions. Now speak of those who defend the erroneous doctrine of a heretic pope verbally or in writing.

Master: One briefly states about these individuals that, if the erroneous doctrine of the pope is such, that they who attempt to defend the pope's erroneous doctrine only by spoken or written arguments are bound to believe it explicitly, then these defenders are to be numbered among the heretics, because everyone who denies a truth which he is bound to believe explicitly is to be numbered among the heretics, and must suffer the penalty of heretics. If, however, the erroneous doctrine of the pope is such that those who argue in support of it are not bound to explicitly believe the contrary truth, then they who merely defend it by spoken or written arguments are not to be adjudged heretics, nor must they suffer the punishment of heretics, unless it somehow appears that they are pertinaciously attached to their arguments. And the manner whereby they may be convicted of pertinacity should be clear from the points we treated earlier in Book Four.

Student: It seems to me that it follows from this proposition that some of those who argue verbally or in writing on behalf of the erroneous doctrine of the pope are to be reckoned heretics, while others remain free of heretical wickedness.

Master: It is conceded that this may be the case. For it may happen that some are bound to explicitly believe a truth which contradicts the pope's erroneous doctrine, and others are not bound to believe this truth explicitly. And some may adhere to their arguments with pertinacity while others may not. That is why, in order to know who among those arguing verbally or in writing in favour of the heretic pope's doctrine are to be reputed heretics and who are not to be numbered among the heretics, it is expedient to examine with utmost attention who are bound to believe the contrary truth explicitly, and who are not bound to do this, and which of them are pertinacious, and which cannot be convicted of pertinacity.

Student: Must we reckon as defenders of heretical wickedness those who would argue in support of the heretic pope's heretical doctrine if they are not bound to explicitly believe the contrary doctrine and cannot be convicted of pertinacity.

Master: The answer is that on the precise legal interpretation of the expression "defender of heretical wickedness", they ought not to be so called, because the term "defender" in its legal acception always involves evidence of pertinacity.

Student: If these statements about defenders are true, there exists an obvious distinction between defenders of heretics and defenders of heretical wickedness. But I do not know whether it is possible to derive this distinction from canonical decisions. Hence, do explain what might be said concerning this point.

Master: The possibility of deriving this distinction from canonical statutes may apparently be proved in the following manner. In some canonical statutes defenders are distinguished from heretics, while in others defenders are called heretics. Therefore it seems that the term "defenders" or "defending" has an equivocal contextual meaning. We now prove the premises of this syllogism as to both of its parts. And initially we prove the first part as follows. Innocent III speaks thus in a general council (as we read in Extra, De hereticis, c. Excommunicamus 1): "as to believers, receivers, defenders, and abettors of heretics, we decreed that they were subject to excommunication, and we firmly ordered that after any of them has been declared excommunicated, if he scorns to offer appropriate satisfaction within one year, from that moment he should by force of law be deemed to have been disgraced, and is not to be permitted to exercise public offices, nor to offer counsel as to such, nor to elect others to such offices, nor to testify in court. He will also not be allowed to have a legal will, etc." [col. 788] One gathers from these words that defenders of heretics do not incur penalties which heretics suffer instantly and immediately, unless they fail to offer due satisfaction within one year. For the properties of defenders of heretics, as appears to be clearly inferred from the cited words of Innocent as well as from other words which follow, are not to be confiscated for a whole year, if they offer appropriate satisfaction within one year after having been declared excommunicated. While the properties of heretics can or must be confiscated even if they return to the truth of faith within one year, witness the same Innocent III, who states, as we read in Extra, De hereticis, c. Vergentis: "but in lands subject to our temporal jurisdiction, we proclaim that the properties of heretics be confiscated. And in other lands we order that the same be decreed by secular princes and authorities. Should these authorities happen to be negligent in the matter, we desire and command that they be compelled by ecclesiastical censure, without provision for an appeal, to carry these provisions through. Nor should their properties revert to heretics in the future, unless someone voluntarily takes pity upon them when they experience a change of heart and reject the company of heretics". [col. 783] We gather from these words that, as states the gloss on the word "misereri": "it is therefore solely from compassion that properties are returned" [col. 1675] to heretics who experience a change of heart, and give appropriate satisfaction either within a year or subsequently. In contrast, defenders are not to lose their properties within that first year. Therefore the defenders who are mentioned in the aforesaid constitution Excommunicamus are neither to be reputed heretics nor abettors of heretical wickedness, but are only to be labeled defenders of heretical wickedness. And these are distinguished from heretics, as we discover in Extra, De hereticis, Sicut ait, [col. 779] and in c. Si adversus, [col. 784] and in Extra, De sententia excomunicationis, c. Noverit. [col. 910]

We now prove the second part of the aforestated reason's premisses, namely, that sometimes defenders are called heretics. For as was argued above (with reference to 24 q. 3 c. Qui aliorum), those who defend the errors of others are proved to be not only heretics, but heresiarchs, because the fact that they defend the errors of others makes them masters of errors. Again: Innocent attests that some defenders are to be reputed heretics when he states in Extra, De verborum significatione, c. Super quibusdam : "your faithfulness requested us to explain which persons must be called manifest heretics. On this we must offer the following reply to you. They should be understood to be manifest heretics in your context, who publicly preach against the catholic faith, or who profess or defend error". [col. 923] We understand from these words that defenders of errors are to be numbered among the heretics. According to some, this must be understood to be the case regardless of whether they defend errors by deed, verbally, or in writing, and these interpreters claim that the proposition is true within the explained context.