IS IT FOR CANONISTS, OR FOR THEOLOGIANS,TO DECIDE WHO IS A HERETIC? WILLIAM OF OCKHAM BOOK 1 CHAPTER 12
Student: ALTHOUGH it seems probable to me that it pertains chiefly to theologians to judge what assertion should be considered catholic and what heretical, yet I still do not know whether it chiefly pertains to them to decide who clings pertinaciously to heretical wickedness and who not pertinaciously. And therefore I do not know whether it chiefly pertains to them to distinguish between heretics and the orthodox, because an error [held] without pertinacity does not render the errant a heretic. So would you like to discuss this?
Master: Some canonists seem to differ from theologians about this, saying that it pertains chiefly to canonists to judge who should be judged as pertinacious. In maintaining this they seem able to be moved by the arguments written below, the first of which is as follows. No one erring against catholic faith should be judged pertinacious unless he defends his error after being corrected by his prelate. To those, therefore, to whom it pertains to examine how errants should be corrected by their prelates it chiefly pertains to determine who should be judged pertinacious. But canonists chiefly treat of how errants should be corrected by their prelates, because it is up to them to know when and how prelates should proceed against those who err, something that does not pertain to theologians. For it is canonists, not theologians, who know about accusations and denunciations of, and inquisitions into, heretical wickedness and also about citations, interrogations and examinations of heretics and about the other matters that pertain to the order of legal proceedings to be observed concerning those who err. Therefore it chiefly pertains to canonists to know who should be judged pertinacious and heretical
The second argument is this. Pertinacity is a certain contumacy, according to what Gregory, as we find in dist. 15, c. Non licuit [wrong reference], and blessed Augustine, as we read in 24, q. 3, c. Qui in ecclesia [col.998] imply. It is canonists, however, who chiefly treat of contumacy, since contumacy applies either in respect of to not coming or not restoring or not replying (or replying obscurely) or not showing, all of which presuppose a citation in connection with which someone may be regarded as contumacious. It is not theologians, however, but canonists who reflect on citations and matters which are known to pertain to the order of legal proceedings. Therefore it pertains chiefly to them to know who should be judged pertinacious and heretical.
The third argument is this. To the same person to whom the punishment of any crime pertains, cognizance of that crime pertains, because an unrecognised crime should not be punished. But how someone should be punished for pertinacity pertains chiefly to canonists, Therefore it pertains chiefly to them to know who should be judged as pertinacious.
WILLIAM OF OCKHAM, DIALOGUS
part 1, prologue and book 1
Text and translation by John Kilcullen and John Scott
as at december, 2003