Pope thanks Bishops of Mali for Safeguarding Interreligious Dialogue
WHAT IS A HERESY?
"NEW" HERESIES AND "NEW" CATHOLIC TRUTHS
Student It seems to me that the difficulty about new heresies that has been investigated is more verbal than real, and so would you not dwell upon it any longer. But do not hide from me whether there is any other objection to the above description of heresy.
Master That description seems to be disproved by the words of blessed Jerome which are put in 24, q. 3, c. Haeresis [col.997]. For he says, "Heresy is taken from the Greek for 'choice', that is, that each person chooses for himself that teaching which he thinks to be the better." We are given to understand two things from these words. The first is that from the fact that heresy is taken from choice no falsity should be counted among the heresies before someone chooses to propound, opine or assert it. The second is that since not only unbelievers but also catholics and believers choose the teaching that they think is better, the assertions not only of unbelievers but also of believers should be called heresies. And we conclude from both of these that the oft-cited description of heresy has been unsuitably assigned.
William of Ockham, Dialogus,
part 1, book 2, chapters 1-17
Text and translation by John Scott.
Copyright © 1999, The British Academy