Pope Francis congratulates new Armenian Catholic Patriarch



Student Although that opinion seems to have been proved strongly, yet I am in my mind reflecting on some objections which urge against it. The first of these concerns the University of Paris which excommunicated and condemned as erroneous many opinions, even of Thomas Aquinas while he was still alive. [See E. Gilson, History of Christian Philosophy in the Middle Ages (London, 1955), p. 417] The second concerns two archbishops of Canterbury, the first of whom was a doctor of theology from the Order of Preachers and later a cardinal [Robert Kilwardby]; the second was also a doctor of theology from the Order of Friars Minor [John Pecham]; they excommunicated and condemned many of Thomas's opinions. [See Gilson, pp. 406, 359]. The third concerns the Order of Friars Minor which condemned the teaching of brother Peter John. [See David Burr, Olivi and Franciscan Poverty (Philadelphia: Pennsylvania University Press, 1989), chapter 4, p. 88ff and pp. 109 and 125. See also Leo Amorós, "Series condemnationum et processuum contra doctrinam et sequaces Petri Ioannis Olivi", Archivum franciscanum historicum, 24 (1931), pp. 399-451 -- a document that may have been composed by Bonagratia of Bergamo, written post 1328. On p. 509 it mentions a Chapter at Marseilles, called by Michael of Cesena in 1319, which examined the errors of Peter John Olivi and condemned them and passed sentence of excommunication against every brother who knowingly held and used his books.] And so it seems that it pertains both to a gathering inferior to a general council and to other persons inferior to the highest pontiff to condemn the errors put forward as opinions by theologians. Make clear, therefore, how reply is made to the above objections.

Master To the first objection, about the University of Paris, many replies are made. One way is that it has condemned many assertions rashly, that is, by condemning truths. For in no way can the truth be solemnly condemned without rashness. For although anyone can without culpable rashness offer an opinion which is opposed to a truth and can doubt its truth, yet a truth is never solemnly and publicly condemned without culpable rashness. Therefore since very many truth are, according to the judgement of many, contained among the articles condemned at Paris, it follows that that university condemned many assertions rashly. Of that opinion have been and are all those outside the University of Paris who have held and hold the opinions condemned at Paris. Also of that way of thinking are all those who, since the revocation of the aforesaid sentence in respect of Thomas's opinions, now publicly or secretly maintain and approve at Paris those same opinions of his that were earlier condemned.

Student I wonder at your saying that before the revocation of that sentence of Paris some people had maintained the assertions condemned at Paris, unless perhaps in their ignorance they did not know that the assertions had been condemned there.

Master I want you to know that many people have knowingly taught secretly and publicly a number of assertions condemned at Paris. Whence I know as a certainty that a certain doctor of the Order of Preachers had publicly taught an assertion condemned at Paris before the above-mentioned revocation, and when he made the objection against himself that the assertion which he maintained had been excommunicated at Paris he replied that the said excommunication had not crossed the sea. Master Godfrey of Fontaines seems to have been of that opinion too, teaching and leaving it in his writings that the condemned articles should have been corrected.

William of Ockham, Dialogus,
part 1, book 2, chapters 17-34

Text and translation by John Scott.
Copyright © 1999, The British Academy