Pope Francis & The Sodomite Synod

Chapter 67

Student: I do not wish to inquire any further about defenders of heretics and of heretical wickedness until the treatise On the doctrines of John XXII, and the treatise On the deeds of those disputing about orthodox faith. Therefore I now move on to the issue of receivers of heretics, concerning which do explain initially how they are distinguished from believers, abettors, and defenders.

Master: The answer is that a receiver of heretics and a believer of heretics appear to be two different things. For although a receiver might be a believer, it may nevertheless happen that a receiver is not a believer. One who is a knowing receiver of heretics is not a believer, since he does not believe that those whom he reputes to be heretics are catholics, nor does he believe their errors. A receiver of heretics, however, appears to be their abettor, because he who receives heretics favours them in some fashion: even not to oppose heretics when someone is obligated to oppose them is to show them favour. Therefore every receiver of heretics is an abettor of heretics, but the reverse relationship does not hold, for there are many abettors of heretics who nevertheless are not receivers of heretics. Furthermore, a receiver of heretics and a defender of heretics appear to be different things. For someone may be a defender of heretics although he is not a receiver of heretics, since they do not reside in his dominion. And someone may be a receiver of heretics although he is not their defender, namely, because he has no intention of defending them from any attack.

Student: Who are receivers of heretics.

Master: The answer is that the term "receiver" as it is used in the law denotes something bad. And therefore, they are receivers of heretics who, having the power to expel heretics from their land or dominion, knowingly or unknowingly (but in the latter case with grossly passive ignorance) allow them to reside freely in their land or dominion without putting them under guard. It is of them that the gloss on the word "receptatores" in Extra, De hereticis, Excommunicamus 1 speaks, stating that "without such, heretics cannot remain secure for long". [col. 1683]

Student: According to the aforesaid, if a heretic pope, residing in the dominion of some king or prince or someone else, wielded such power that the temporal lord was unable to expel him or in any way place him under restraint, such a lord would not be considered a receiver of heretics.

Master: The answer is that in this case such a temporal lord would be excused for lack of temporal power.

Student: Might there be any other excuse for a temporal lord who does not expel a heretic pope or his followers from his dominion or from a land subject to him.

Master: The answer is that probable fear of a disturbance of the faithful without spiritual gain might excuse a temporal lord.

Student: If he has sufficient temporal power and has no probable cause to fear a disturbance of the faithful without spiritual gain, is a temporal lord obligated to expel a heretical pope from his dominion, even if the temporal lord has not been requested to do so by prelates of the church.

Master: We have dealt with this issue earlier, in the 99th and in the last chapters of Book Six, where we demonstrated that when ecclesiastical power fails, whether by impotence, or by malice, or by culpable negligence, laymen have the duty to forcibly repress heretics.

Student: What should a temporal lord do if he knows that the heretic pope resides in his dominion, and he lacks power to place the pope under arrest.

Master: Let him request the assistance of other catholics. If, however, others do not want to help him, he is excused.

Student: What should the common people of the territory where the heretic pope resides do, if the temporal lord refuses to use force against this heretic pope even when he can.

Master: The answer is that the populace, regardless of the fact that its temporal lord is a receiver of the heretic pope, is obligated to use force against the pope (if this can be done without spiritual detriment) where it knows that the pope is a heretic, for instance if the pope made some assertion against a truth disseminated among all catholics, e.g., if he stated that Christ was a false prophet, or that the Christian faith was false or fictitious, or that the souls of the damned do not suffer the torture of hell, [an allusion to the Visio beatifica controversy] or something of this sort, which is disseminated among all catholics as catholic doctrine. Nor would it be necessary in this case for the populace to consult experts, except perhaps to be informed of the manner in which it should proceed against the heretic pope. For the populace must in no way doubt that in such a situation the pope must be considered a heretic, and must be avoided and even punished as a heretic, regardless of the convictions, arguments, or words uttered by any, be they expert or ignorant. Indeed any experts, clerks or laymen, who would state that in such a situation the pope ought not to be considered a heretic by the people, would themselves have to be adjudged heretics by the people.

Student: How can the people attempt any action against the heretic pope without the authority of the temporal lord. After all, the populace has no jurisdiction whatsoever, but has transferred all jurisdiction to its lord.

Master: The answer is that although the populace has transferred jurisdiction to the emperor or to the king, it nevertheless cannot transfer from itself the jurisdiction which it possesses in favour of the faith when the pope is a heretic, and the prelates and temporal lord with whom the heretic resides either do not want to, or cannot, use force against him. Nor can the people renounce such jurisdiction, because this jurisdiction has been granted to the people in support of the Christian faith.

Student: By what right do the people possess such jurisdiction over a heretic pope. Not by divine right, since there is no mention of it in divine law. Nor by human right, because there is no mention of this in human law either. Nor by natural right, because no jurisdiction whatever exists by natural law, in that no one has power over another by natural right, for nature has made all humans equal.

Master: The answer is that although no verbal mention of such a jurisdiction is made in divine law, one nevertheless may deduce its existence in substance from a convergence of divine, natural, and human law. One concludes indeed from divine law that a pope who has become a heretic is deprived of the papacy. And one holds from human law that there is to be no communication as described with a heretic pope, a duty which must also be observed with respect to physical contact, when this can be done without harmful disturbance to the faithful, because there is to be no contact of the type described with any heretic. Again, we have it from human law that if the pope or the temporal lord of some people becomes a heretic, the entire populace is released from the jurisdiction of both the pope and of the temporal lord, witness Gregory IX, who states (as we discover in Extra, De hereticis, c. ultimo) : "Let any know who were duty bound by any agreement, however strongly confirmed, to individuals obviously fallen into heresy, that they are released from the debt of human obedience and from any respectful deference whatever". [c. 16, cols. 789-790] While from natural law (indeed not the natural law which would have regulated our deeds had our original nature developed historically, but the natural law which exists for the period of fallen human nature) we deduce that the populace is not obligated to abandon its place of residence or its homeland because of the faithlessness of someone who is not the people's superior. From these various points, one concludes that if the pope becomes a heretic, and the temporal lord favours him, the populace obtains at least a certain jurisdiction over the heretic pope, because, based on the fact that a heretic pope is deprived of the papacy by divine law, he is not the superior of the people in his area of residence. And by human law the populace must not communicate with the heretic pope, therefore it must avoid contacting the heretic pope. Finally, by natural law a populace is not bound to desert or to abandon its country or territory because of a heretical pope. Therefore the populace is entitled to expel the pope from its territory, or to place him under detention, so as to avoid having to communicate with him. Student: This reason carries weight only if a heretic pope involves himself in active communion with the populace. Therefore if he does not seek such active contact, the populace possesses no jurisdiction over him.

Master: The response is that it suffices to prove by means of the stated reason that the populace occasionally obtains a certain jurisdiction over a heretic pope, stretching the term "jurisdiction" to include any power to expel or even to detain someone, because the contention is that from such a jurisdiction of the people over a heretic pope a broader one may be inferred.

Student: For the sake of brevity, I do not wish any other matters to be inferred from the jurisdiction being discussed. But answer the following on the basis of the stated opinion: if the heretic pope should decide to leave, must the populace allow him to depart in freedom, or is it bound to detain him in firm custody.

Master: The answer is that the populace is bound to detain him in firm custody, and the following reason is advanced to explain this. Each and every person and multitude of believers must be no less concerned about the spiritual salvation of their neighbours than about their physical salvation, a conviction evidently gathered from the words of blessed Augustine in 23 q. 4 c. Ipsa pietas, which were earlier advanced in argument. [cols. 909-910. Cf. 1 Dial. 6.44, 50] But if there was someone within the people who, with the help of accomplices, were to attempt to physically exterminate this same people and every other catholic people, the people would be obligated not to allow him to withdraw in freedom, but rather to detain him lest he slay the other Christian peoples. Therefore, if a heretic pope is attempting to spiritually destroy all catholics through heretical wickedness, the populace with which he is residing is obligated to detain him, not only to prevent peril to itself, but also to prevent peril to the other faithful.

Student: If the populace allows the heretic pope to freely reside in its midst, and to propound his errors, must it be considered a receiver of heretics, assuming that it has the power to detain the heretic pope.

Master: The answer is affirmative. Since it is up to the people to detain a heretic pope when the temporal lord and the prelates are culpably negligent with respect to the use of force against a heretic pope, if the populace does not detain him it must be considered to be a receiver of the heretic pope.

Student: Must any member of such a people be called a receiver of the heretic pope.

Master: The answer is that all those are receivers of the heretic pope who are culpably negligent in the matter of his detention, or who consent to such negligence. If, on the other hand, there are some members of the people who, to the extent that their status allows, exhort others to detain the heretic pope, and would be prepared to collaborate with others in the matter of detaining the heretic pope, or if their omission of such exhortation is due to fear of death or of severe torments, and they grieve at the fact that the heretic pope is not being detained, then they are not to be numbered among the receivers of the heretic pope.

Student: Are those who would be prepared to detain the heretic pope obligated to leave, so as not to communicate with the heretic pope.

Master: The answer is that if, due to the power of the heretic pope and of his supporters, such individuals could not remain members of the people unless they communicated with the heretic pope, they may physically communicate with him, namely, speak, eat, drink, and converse with him in mutual contact, and they are not obligated to leave with deleterious effects to themselves in order to avoid this kind of communication. But they must withdraw from this territory sooner than communicate with the heretic pope otherwise than physically, for instance, by going to mass with him, or having dealings with him pertinent to the papal office, most of all as to issues relating to spiritual order, or by acknowledging him to be pope by word or deed; for no one may communicate with a heretic pope in this manner without committing a mortal sin, and everyone ought rather to undergo all possible pains than to sin mortally.

Student: The first part of this opinion seems to contradict the decretal of Innocent III found in Extra, De his que vi metusve causa fiunt, c. Sacris. For he states: "we should distinguish whether he who unwillingly communicates with excommunicated persons does this under pressure of force, or motivated by fear. In the first situation, at any rate, we do not believe the individual in question to be obligated by the excommunication, since he is clearly more a victim than an actor. But in the second case, although fear diminishes guilt, it does not entirely exclude it, because no one must commit a mortal sin however strong the fear, and therefore we believe such an individual to be polluted with the stain of excommunication". [col. 220] We gather from these words, it would appear, that no fear, not even fear of death, excuses from the commission of a mortal sin someone who physically communicates with an excommunicated person. Therefore, since a heretic pope is excommunicated because he falls under the sanction of a promulgated judgement, as notes the gloss to 24 q. 1 c. Achatius, [s.v. in heresim, col. 1382] earlier adduced in argument, [cf. 1 Dial. 6.19] whoever communicates with a heretic pope, even if merely physically, is polluted by a judgement of excommunication.

Master: The answer to this is that Innocent III makes no mention whatever of physical excommunication in the aforesaid decretal, and therefore one is permitted to communicate physically with any excommunicated individual in order to avoid death. Nor can the church use its plenitude of power in this case to force anyone against his will into avoiding an excommunicated individual. And therefore Innocent is not speaking of a physical communication but of a different kind of communication, for instance in crime, or in some other fashion which is known to be forbidden independently of human law.

Student: I have two difficulties with respect to this answer. The first is this. It appears that the church (which also includes the supreme pontiff), in whose competence plenitude of power resides, may command to any catholic not to communicate with an excommunicated person even if threatened by death or loss of property. For otherwise the church would not possess plenitude of power. And if the church may command this, then one is bound to obey. The second difficulty is this. If the church cannot obligate someone under penalty of excommunication to refrain from physical communication with an excommunicated person even if threatened by death, it appears (for the same reason) that the church cannot obligate the faithful by the same penalty not to communicate with excommunicated persons otherwise than physically.

Master: The answer to the first difficulty is that the church cannot obligate someone under penalty of excommunication to refrain from communicating with an excommunicated person even if threatened by death or loss of property, and this for the following reason. The church cannot from plenitude of power force the faithful to perform acts of supererogation, or such as are known to be excessively burdensome, acts one is known not to be obligated to perform either by divine law, or by natural law, or by one's free will. This is indeed the reason why the church cannot force Christians to vow chastity or virginity, because, as the sacred law states: "chastity may be advocated, but cannot be ordered". [32 q. 1 c. 13, col. 1119] Similarly, the church cannot force Christians to enter a religious Order of mendicants, or monks, because this is a supererogatory matter. And the reason why the church cannot compel Christians to perform acts of supererogation is because such acts are exceedingly burdensome, and Christians are not obligated to perform them by divine law or by natural law. Therefore, prelates must not obligate Christians to perform such acts, lest the prelates be numbered among those of whom Christ states in Matthew 23: "for they bind heavy burdens and grievous to be borne, and lay them on men's shoulders; but they themselves will not move them with one of their fingers". [Matthew 23:4] Therefore the church cannot, as a rule, obligate the faithful to perform acts which are excessively difficult and onerous, although it may obligate some to such performance for cause and fault. For instance, it forbids matrimony to some on the basis of a prior misdeed, and it commands that individuals be locked up in monasteries even against their will. Therefore since death, loss of property, harsh torture, and the like are numbered among excessively onerous experiences, the church cannot, as a rule, constrain Christians by any legislation to perform or accept such specifics where Christians are not obligated to do so by divine law, by natural law, or by their own free will. And indeed Christians are neither bound nor forced by any of the stated sources to refrain from physical communication with an excommunicated person, for if they were bound to avoid this by any of the stated sources, then none could communicate with excommunicated individuals even by papal dispensation, a fact evidently false. Therefore as a rule the church cannot obligate anyone by some general statute, under penalty of excommunication, to refrain from physical communication with excommunicated individuals, even if threatened by death or loss of property.

And when you say that in that case the church would not have plenitude of power, some thinkers respond that it would be of the highest necessity in these times of ours that kings pressure wise men by oaths and dreadful threats to declare the truth as to matters relevant to the plenitude of power which the church is known to possess. For these thinkers claim that some of the learned, in order to obtain ecclesiastical benefices, magnify the church's plenitude of power to such an extent that they obviously eliminate every lay jurisdiction, indeed every lordship and property of laymen in any temporal goods whatsoever. And this clearly clashes with Holy Writ, since according to Sacred Scripture even non-believers possess lordship and property of temporal goods, nor was it permitted to the church in the age of the apostles to strip non-believing lords of their temporal possessions.

Student: In what way do some of the learned eliminate every property and lordship of laymen.

Master: The answer is that there are some who say that everything which does not contradict divine law or natural law pertains to the plenitude of power of the church, and in all such cases all Christians are obligated to obey the supreme pontiff. Therefore since to lack lordship and property of temporals contradicts neither divine law nor the law of nature, all laymen are bound to obey the supreme pontiff in this. Therefore the supreme pontiff may dispose arbitrarily of the temporals of laymen, and consequently these temporals are not reckoned as pertinent to the property and lordship of laymen.

Student: I shall question you abundantly on this issue in the treatise On the doctrines of John XXII, therefore at present explain only why the church, notwithstanding the plenitude of ecclesiastical power, cannot obligate Christians to refrain from physically communicating with excommunicated persons even in order to avoid death.

Master: Some briefly respond that this is not relevant to the church's plenitude of power, because just as the church's plenitude of power does not extend itself to the properties of laymen, so that it might freely and arbitrarily dispose of such, neither does the church's plenitude of power extend itself to onerous and supererogatory matters, namely, so that it might command their performance, although it may counsel this.

Student: The claim that the church's plenitude of power does not extend itself to onerous matters appears to negate the Capitulary of Charles [Charlemagne] which is found in dis. 19 c. In memoriam. For in that context we read as follows: "even if a hardly bearable yoke is imposed by this holy see, we shall nevertheless bear it, and tolerate it with pious devotion". [cols. 60-61] These words clearly assert that the power of the supreme pontiff extends itself to onerous matters, since matters "hardly bearable" must be numbered among such.

Master: The answer is that Charles is speaking of such matters as pertain to the office of the supreme pontiff, and does not understand this comment as relevant to other matters. Hence, were the pope to order a king or a count to grant the pope's nephew a certain city or fortress, nay, even two florins, the king or the count would in no way be obligated to obey him. All the more if the pope were to command something similar to a poor person would the latter not be bound to obey him.

Student: Explain how one responds to the second difficulty I raised earlier.

Master: The answer flows from the points just made. For where something is known to be forbidden by divine law or by natural law, there the church is empowered to inflict the heaviest of penalties on delinquents, and to obligate catholics to observe the commandments of divine law and of natural law. But where there exists only a human legal provision, the church, except for some reasonable and involuntary cause, cannot force catholics to observe this provision under threat of severe penalty, since someone might bypass the church's command at the very least in order to avoid death. For in such a situation, a reasonable person [epyeikes: cf. Aristotle, Nicomachean Ethics V.10] interprets the human law as not to be observed in the sense which its wording initially seems to convey. Just so, as was argued earlier, [cf. 1 Dial. 7.58] did Boniface the martyr interpret his professed oath that he would not communicate with heretics; and the supreme pontiff Zachary approved this interpretation. Therefore, since physical communication with excommunicated persons is forbidden neither by divine law nor by the law of nature, Christians may not, as a rule, be constrained by any human precept so as to be prevented from communicating with excommunicated persons in order to avoid death; although for cause and fault some individuals, and at certain times all individuals, may be forcibly ordered not to communicate with some excommunicated person even in order to avoid death. And something of the sort may possibly happen with respect to a heretic pope. All Christians may well be constrained not to communicate with him even in order to avoid death. However, this is not an operative rule for all Christians at all times and with respect to all excommunicated persons. But it is forbidden by divine law to communicate with an excommunicated person otherwise than physically, for instance to communicate with him in a crime, or in those issues which pertain to an ecclesiastical office which the excommunicated person cannot exercise. Therefore in this case the church may legally assign a penalty of excommunication, so that no Christian communicate in this way with an excommunicated person even on order to avoid death.