POPE FRANCIS - A HERETIC? CAN THE CARDINALS BECOME HERETICS? WILLIAM OF OCKHAM Dial. 5.6-10 CHP. VIII
Student: It seems hard to me to assert that the college of cardinals can err against faith, yet the arguments brought forward for it appear difficult [to refute]. So show me how reply is made to the arguments for both sides, and first how the arguments for the first assertion are answered.
Reply to arguments that the Cardinals cannot become heretics
Master: The reply to the first of them is that 'Roman church' is taken in many ways. Sometimes it is taken as the universal church, sometimes as the pope, sometimes as the clergy and people of Rome, sometimes as the college of cardinals. However, the Church that cannot err is the universal Church, and not the college of cardinals.
Student: Would you not say more about that matter here because I will ask you about it later. But tell how reply is made to the second argument.
Master: Some people reply to the second that by 'apostolic see' sometimes the pope is meant, sometimes his diocese, sometimes the pope with the college of cardinals, sometimes the universal church. According to some people, however, that apostolic see which can not err against faith is the universal church but according to others it is the Roman diocese.
Student: Would you pass over this now too and speak to the third argument.
Master: A reply to the third argument is that just as the emperor, who once had the power to choose the highest pontiff, as we find in the decretals at dist. 63, c. Adrianus [col.241] and c. In synodo [col.241], could have incurred heretical wickedness, so too that college which now has the power to choose the highest pontiff can be stained with heretical wickedness.
Student: If that college were to become heretical no one in the church of God would have the power to choose the highest pontiff and so there would not be sufficient provision made for the church of God in the choice of the highest pontiff.
Master: The reply is that sufficient provision has been made because if the college of cardinals were to become heretical the choice would devolve upon the Romans. If, however, as some people say, it would be possible for all the Romans to become heretical, the power to choose the highest pontiff would devolve upon the other orthodox.
Student: I will discuss this with you elsewhere, so tell me how reply is made to the fourth argument.
Master: A reply is made to that argument by making a distinction, because [i] either the pope publicly and notoriously falls into a manifest heresy already explicitly condemned -- and in that case not only the college of cardinals, if it has remained in the faith, but also the diocesan of the place where the pope was staying would have the power to judge a pope who has become a heretic -- and then the minor [premise] of that argument is denied, because just as a pope who has become a heretic is subject to the judgement of a believing diocesan, (who nevertheless himself can err,) so also a pope who has become a heretic is subject to the judgement of the college of the cardinals who remain in faith, although if [the college] were to become heretical, it would not have the power to judge a heretical pope. [ii] Or the pope would fall into a heresy which has only been condemned implicitly and then it would not be the college of cardinals but a general council that would have the power to judge him.
Student: How can someone who can err judge a heretical pope?
[See Significant Variants, para. 32.]Master: It is replied that just as bishops and inquisitors into heretical wickedness, about whom there is no doubt but that they can err against faith, can judge heretics, before they themselves fall into heretical wickedness, so also although the college of cardinals can err against faith yet if it has not erred but remained in orthodox faith it can judge a pope who has become a heretic.
Student: Speak to the other arguments.
Master: A reply to the fifth is that the college of cardinals becoming heretical would not cause the whole multitude of christians to become heretical. A reply to what is said about the head becoming ill, etc. is that it is true of many members, yet does not always prove to be true of all members. For in the time of Anastasius II the head, that is Anastasius who was pope, was ill with heretical wickedness and yet many members remained sound and whole.
There are two ways of replying to the sixth argument. The first way is by granting that there is no particular college, either of prelates, religious, clerics, laity, men or women, which can not err against faith. Yet God will never permit the universal college of christians, which in fact is comprised of men and women, to err against faith. In another way it is said that apart from the universal college, the college of the Roman diocese can not err against faith. And [besides] the inference is not valid: 'the college of cardinals can err against faith, therefore any other particular college at all can err against faith.' For sometimes some prerogative belongs to a whole which should not be attributed to a part [of it] and so although the whole Roman diocese can not err against faith, according to them, yet the college of cardinals which is part of that diocese can err against faith.
A reply to the seventh is that if the college of cardinals were to err against faith other christians would be found who would dare to resist them because fear of death would not drag them away from the confession and defence of catholic truth, just as in the times of the emperors, who were lords of the world and of much greater temporal power than are cardinals, many holy martyrs confessed the catholic faith and defended it according to their ability.
Student: Such people would not be found now.
Master: It is said that they would be. For if very many seculars now oppose the whole college of cardinals to defend temporal goods, it ought not be regarded as incredible that some of them would risk much for the defence of the faith if the college of cardinals were to attack the catholic faith.
Student: Tell me how answer is made to the eighth argument.
Master: To the eighth argument it is said that the college of bishops could err against faith and that it is not certain, either from divine Scripture, from the teaching of the universal church or from the teaching of the saints, that all the bishops in the time of anti-Christ or in another time will not stray from the catholic faith. Indeed some people think, although they can not have a strong foundation for this, that just as the priests and Pharisees crucified Christ so bishops, religious and clerics will be the principal followers of anti-Christ and that no cleric or religious will oppose him.
Student: This is rashly said too, given that it is not certain whether some clerics would resist anti-Christ. So pass on and indicate how reply is made to the ninth argument.
Master: It is said to the ninth argument that the college of cardinals could be accused of heresy, and when it is said that inferiors can not accuse inferiors this is denied in many cases.
The reply to the tenth is that the simple would not be saved in the faith of the cardinals if they were to become heretical but would be saved in the faith of the apostles and other saints who explicitly believed what the simple believe implicitly. So when it is said that the simple are saved in the faith of the elders or in the faith of the church, this should be understood [as meaning] that they are saved in that faith which the apostles explicitly had and which elders still have, if the elders are not simple in divine law, are catholics and are believers. For if only the unlearned or those having little knowledge of divine law were catholics and all bishops, religious and clerics were heretics then even if the unlearned did not explicitly believe many things which pertain to the faith yet in believing that the true faith is that which the apostles preached and for which the holy martyrs were killed they would be saved in the faith of the elders, that is, of the apostles and other saints who believed explicitly what they believe implicitly.