Obama & Francis

Chapter 21

Student: What you have stated leaves me in utter amazement, because it seems almost unbelievable to me that it might be permissible to appeal for a cause of faith under any circumstance to a person of a contrary religious persuasion. And nevertheless it is apparently shown that Paul appealed for a cause of faith to Caesar, who was of a contrary religion. From which it seems to follow that it would not be inconvenient to appeal to a heretic pope, and consequently that it is not permitted to appeal from such a pope because one must not appeal to and from the same person for the same cause, and so this appears to contradict the aforementioned assertion which states that it is permitted to appeal from a heretic pope.

Master: Some say (in order to resolve this contradiction) that it must be noted that there are two ways in which one can appeal to someone for a cause of faith. A first way is to appeal to him as to someone who has the official function of determining questions raised about the faith; and one must not appeal in this manner for a cause of faith to anyone of a contrary religion (whether pagan or heretic), because the determination of questions of faith belongs only to catholic and faithful supreme pontiffs, and to a general council of catholics, as is clearly apparent from the sacred canons. There is another way in which someone may appeal to another for a cause of faith, not indeed as to an instance which has the right to determine causes of faith, but as to one which (by function of office or by election of the appellant or by any other method) can judicially investigate whether an appellant might be accused by his enemies about such a cause or be legally summoned for a hearing in the court from which he had appealed. And so they say that were someone to be accused before a bishop about a doubtful issue in the faith concerning which there was no certain heresy involved nor a heresy explicitly condemned (even if it was a heresy implicitly condemned), the accused individual would be able to appeal such an issue to the metropolitan: not indeed as to the person having the function of defining such a doubt, but as to one with authority to know and to judge that such a question ought not to be decided either by the bishop or by the metropolitan himself, but was to be reserved for the supreme pontiff or for the general council. These considerations solve the contradiction mentioned above, because in no circumstance may one appeal for a cause of faith to a person of the contrary religious orientation as to someone who has the function of defining a question of faith. Nor did Paul appeal to Caesar in this fashion. For he knew that Caesar considered the faith of Paul to be utterly false. But occasionally it was permitted to appeal for a cause of faith to a person of alternative religious persuasion, as to someone who (by his official function or by the choice of the appellant or by any method whatever) could judicially investigate and declare the legal irrelevance of his judges with respect to a question of faith. It is on the latter basis that Paul appealed to Caesar. For Paul knew that up to this point in time no persecution had been undertaken against the Christians by the Romans or by Caesar, and therefore he knew that Caesar's judges, according to the laws of Caesar, did not have the legal competence to intervene with respect to this question. This is why (we have the account in Acts 18) Gallio the proconsul of Achaia, when Paul was accused to him by the Jews of convincing people to worship God in a manner opposed to the Jewish law, refused to hear this accusation in court, saying: " 'if it were a matter of wrong or wicked lewdness, O ye Jews, reason would that I should bear with you: But if it be a question of words and names, and of your law, look ye to it; for I will be no judge of such matters.' And he drove them from the judgement seat". [Acts 18:14-16] From these words one gathers that the judges sent by Caesar did not have the authority to adjudicate matters pertaining to the Jewish law. Hence Pilate also, as the Gospel account makes clear, did not consider himself competent to judge Christ on the basis of any accusation made against Christ with respect to the Jewish law. In the same way the texts of chapters 23 [Acts 23:29] and 24 [Acts 24:25] and 25 [Acts 25:25] and 26 [Acts 26:31] of the Acts of the Apostles show that the tribune Lysias, governor Felix, governor Festus, and king Agrippa firmly believed that Paul was not to be punished on account of the issues which were objected against him concerning the Jewish law and Paul's doctrine. Therefore Paul, knowing that such a question even on the basis of the laws and customs of the Romans in no way pertained to judges and public authorities inferior to Caesar, appealed to Caesar as to the authority who would judicially declare that such a question did not concern the judges before whom Paul had been accused.