Student Tell me how reply is made to the third objection about the Order of Minorites which condemned the teaching of Peter John.

Master There are many replies to this. To make this clear you should know that different people think differently about Peter John's teaching. For some people think that all his teaching is catholic. Some think that nothing is found in it which smacks of manifest heresy, yet that it contains many false and fantastic features, especially when he predicts future events. Others reckon that it contains manifest heresies.

The first and second groups hold that the Order of Minorites condemned the said teaching rashly, indeed some of them think that the condemners fell into heretical wickedness because to condemn a catholic truth in a sentence makes the condemner a pertinacious heretic. The third group is diversified, for although some of them regard Peter John's teaching as heretical, yet they assert that the aforesaid Order condemned it rashly in usurping a power which it did not have. Others say the condemners did not proceed rashly because they proceeded with the authority of the pope. For they say that Nicholas IV ordered that his teaching be condemned. A third group says about the chapter at Marseilles in particular that it did not condemn that teaching rashly because it condemned, or rather declared or pronounced condemned, only those things which had been condemned previously by a general council or by some Roman pontiff or which were clearly in contradiction with divine scripture.

Student That last opinion pleases me more, especially because it did not charge that Order with usurping power which it did not have and because it is not known to be opposed to the condemnation by the lord, Pope John XXII, and therefore try to support it as well as you can.

Master I could not make that opinion clear unless I had the condemned articles, the acts of the above Order and also the teaching of Peter from which the said articles have been taken. You know, however, that I have none of those and perhaps the members of the Order would refuse to share them with me.

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

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