What Is The Source Of The Roman Empire? Opinion 3: The Roman Empire Is From The Pope Chapter 19 ~ William Of Ockham
What is the source of the Roman Empire?
Opinion 3: The Roman Empire is from the pope
Student In that case would you bring forward another argument to prove the same opinion?
Master The gloss cited above implies [[it does not seem to]] another reason, which can be formulated as follows.  The empire is from that one to whom the keys of the heavenly and earthly empire were given; but the keys of the heavenly and earthly empire were given to blessed Peter and consequently to his successors. Whence, as we read in dist. 22, c.1, [Omnes sive patriarchi col.73], Pope Nicholas speaks as follows, "He alone who entrusted the rights over both the earthly and heavenly empire to blessed Peter, the key-bearer of eternal life, founded it", that is the Roman church, "and built it on the rock of the faith that was soon to be born." The Roman empire therefore is from the pope.
Student That argument seems strong to me and yet tell me if some people try to answer it.
Master Some people try to refute it in many ways because they say that if the text of Nicholas on which that argument is based is understood as those who adduce it understand it, many absurdities, indeed clear errors, follow. The first absurdity or error is that all kingdoms are from the pope and that no one is a true king except he who receives his kingdom from the pope. For we do not find in the whole of divine scripture or in any authentic writing that Christ entrusted to blessed Peter rights over the Roman empire in a different way than rights over other kingdoms. If it can be shown by that text, therefore, that the Roman empire is from the pope and that the only true emperor is he who receives the empire from the pope, as that opinion holds in support of which this argument is adduced, it follows that all other kingdoms are from the pope and so other kings are not true kings unless they receive their kingdoms from the pope. Since none or few of them receive their kingdoms from the pope, none or few of them are true kings.
Student Kings seem to receive their kingdoms from the pope in a sufficient way because they are prepared to obey him and would even be prepared, if it were pleasing to the pope, to resign their kingdoms to the pope and receive them back from him.
Master Many people deny this. So the pope bears witness about the king of France in particular (Extra, Qui filii sunt legitimi, c. Per venerabilem [c.13, col.714] that he does not recognise a superior in temporal affairs. The king of France, therefore, is not a true king nor has anyone ever been who thought that he did not have a superior in temporal affairs.
Student Now it seems to me that the text of Nicholas brought forward above can be understood to the disadvantage of kings, and especially the king of France. But, I ask you, tell me what those who understand the said text of Pope Nicholas and the opinion for which it is adduced in the sense the words mean on first sight, and who also think that, as Christ entrusted rights over all kingdoms to blessed Peter, all kings are bound to recognise the pope as their superior even in temporal affairs, think about the king of France and other kings and princes who do not recognise the pope as a superior in temporal matters? Is their error, that is to say, such that it should be counted among the heresies?
Master Some people say that if the above opinion is true, that error should be counted among the heresies because, according to that opinion, we gather from sacred scripture that Christ bestowed rights over all kingdoms on blessed Peter in such a way that all true and legitimate kingdoms are from the highest pontiff and the highest pontiff is superior to all kings even in temporal affairs; But every error which conflicts with divine scripture should be counted among the heresies. Therefore, if the aforesaid assertion, namely that no king should recognise a superior on earth in temporal affairs, is against divine scripture it should be considered heretical.
Student Should the king of France and other who hold that view be counted among the heretics according to the said opinion?
Master If that assertion is heretical and the king of France or someone else does not hold it pertinaciously he should not be regarded as a heretic. If it is heretical, however, and the king of France or someone else clings to it pertinaciously he should be considered a heretic. How someone should be convicted of pertinacity, however, is investigated in some way in the fourth book of the first tractate [[i.e. part]] of this Dialogue.
Student You have recounted one absurdity, including many [aspects], which follows, in the opinion of some people, from the text of Pope Nicholas understood as that opinion understands it. Now tell me whether, according to some people, any other absurdity or error follows from that same opinion understood in that way.
Master Some people say that another absurdity follows from this, namely that the heavenly empire is from the pope, because that text affirms that Christ entrusted to blessed Peter rights over the heavenly empire as [he did] over the earthly one. If it can be concluded from that text, therefore, that the earthly empire is from the pope, it may be concluded from it by the same reasoning that the heavenly empire is from the pope. This seems most absurd (i) because there was a heavenly empire before there was a pope, (ii) because many are received into the heavenly empire without the pope and (iii) even when the see is vacant many are accepted into the heavenly kingdom.
Student I have listened to how some people strive to demonstrate many absurdities and errors from the text of Pope Nicholas understood as the opinion recorded in the previous chapter understands it. Now tell me how they understand that text, so that I will be able to perceive how they try to reply to the argument based on it.
Master They say that just as by heavenly empire Nicholas does not mean the empire which the church triumphant possesses, because that empire is not given by the pope but by God, even if the pope has the keys to it and is the key-bearer, not the lord, of that empire, so by earthly empire he does not mean the temporal empire which the emperor possesses, but by heavenly empire he means the good people in the church militant and by earthly empire he means wicked people, over whom the pope is known to have power.
In another way, it is said that Pope Nicholas does not say that lordship of the earthly and the heavenly empire was entrusted to blessed Peter, but rights [over them], and therefore the earthly empire is not from the pope. The pope does have some right, nevertheless, in the earthly empire when it is governed by a christian. This is both because he has spiritual power over the emperor and because he has the right of obtaining material things from the emperor to whom he ministers spiritually, according to what the apostle says in 1 Cor. 9:11, "If we have sown spiritual good among you, is it too much if we reap your material benefits?"