Author Topic: John of St. Thomas on the Pope Heretic Question  (Read 414 times)

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Offline Geremia

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John of St. Thomas on the Pope Heretic Question
« on: November 15, 2014, 06:23:02 PM »
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  • See John of St. Thomas's original in the library here.

    From Laszlo Szijarto's Angelus article:
    John of St. Thomas

    After I had composed the main body of this text, I ran across the Cursus Theologicus by John of St. Thomas–specifically, the tract entitled De Auctoritate Summi Pontificis [Concerning the Authority of the Supreme Pontiff]. In a surprisingly detailed commentary about the problem of an heretical pope, he ended up making the very same argument that I have proposed. Instead of weaving quotations from his work into their appropriate place within my exposition, I decided to give him a separate section. I felt that the argument would be more convincing if readers knew that the two of us had arrived at the same conclusion independently, i.e., that I have not been merely “rehashing” what he had written. Instead, both of us have simply followed a line of thinking dictated by an inner logic of its own.
    Quote from: John of St. Thomas
    ...[ Depositio ] facienda est post declarativam criminis sententiam... (disp. II, art. III 17).

    ...[Deposition] is to be made after a declaratory sentence about the crime....
    Quote from: John of St. Thomas
    ...Concilium congregari potest auctoritate Ecclesiae, quae est in ipsis episcopis, vel majore eorum parte; habet enim jus Ecclesia ad segregandum se a papa haeretico ex jure divino, et consequenter ad adhibendum omnia media ad talem segregationem per se necessaria; medium autem necessarium, et per se est ut juridice constet tale crimen; non potest autem juridice constare nisi formetur competens judicium, non potest autem in re tam gravi competens esse judicium, nisi per Concilium generale, qua tractatur de universali capite Ecclesiae, unde pertinet hoc ad judicium universalis Ecclesiae, quod est Concilium generale (disp. II, art. III 19).

    ...By the Church’s authority, a Council is able to be convened. That authority resides in the bishops, or in a majority of them. For the Church has the right from God to separate itself from a heretical popea and, consequently, to apply all the means that are in and of themselves necessary for such a separation. But it is a necessary means–and in and of it-self–that such a crime be established juridically. Yet it cannot be established juridically unless a competent judgment be formed. In so grave a matter, however, there cannot be a competent judgment except through a General Council. Since this matter deals with the universal head of the Church, it therefore pertains to the judgment of the Universal Church. That judgment is a General Council.
    Quote from: John of St. Thomas
    Et ex his concordantur jura, quae aliquando dicunt Pontificis depositionem pertinere ad solum Deum, aliquando in causa haeresis posse judicar ab inferioribus, utrumque enim verum est, et quod ejectio, seu depositio Pontificis soli Deo reservatur auctoritative, et principaliter...; ministerialiter autem, et dispositive declarando crimen, et proponendo papam, ut evitandum Ecclesia judicat de Pontifice... (disp. II, art. III 24).

    As a result, the principles–which sometimes maintain that the deposition of a Pontiff belongs to God alone and at other times that he can be judged by inferiors in the case of heresy–come to be reconciled. Both are true. To God alone is reserved the casting out or deposition of a Pontiff (authoritatively and principally. Yet (ministerially and executionally) the Church makes judgment about a Pontiff by declaring the crime and proposing that the pope should be avoided...
    Quote from: John of St. Thomas
    Respondetur haereticum esse evitandum propter duas correptiones juridice scilicet factas, et ab Ecclesiae auctoritate, et non secundum privatum judicium; sequeretur enim magna confusio in Ecclesia si sufficeret hanc correptionem esse factam ab homine privato... Unde sic videmus practicatum in Ecclesia, quod in casu depositionis papae causa ipsa in generali Concilio prius tractata est quam pro non papa habitus....

    Nec Hieronymus quando dicit haereticum per se discedere a corpore Christi, excludit ipsum Ecclesiae judicium praesertim in re tam gravi, qualis est depositio papae, sed criminis judicat qualitatem, quod per se sine alia censura superaddita excludit ab Ecclesia, dummodo tamen per Ecclesiam declaretur; licet enim ex se separet ab Ecclesia, tamen quoad nos non intelligitur facta separatio sine ista declaratione....

    ...[Q]uoad nos autem adhuc non fit juridice declaratus, ut infidelis, vel haereticus, quantumcumque manifestus sit secundum privatum judicium, adhuc quoad nos est membrum Ecclesiae, et consequenter caput. Requiritur ergo judicium Ecclesiae, quo proponatur, ut non Christianus, et evitandus, et tunc desinit quoad nos esse papa, et consequenter antea non desierat etiam in se, quia omnia quae faciebat erant valida in se
    (disp. II, art III 26).
    The translation of the previous three paragraphs is as follows:
    Quote from: John of St. Thomas
    In response, a heretic must be avoided as a result of two rebukes that have been made juridically–by the Church’s authority and not according to private judgment. Great confusion would result in the Church if it would suffice that this rebuke should be made by a private individual....Consequently, we see what the practice of the Church has been. When a pope needed to be deposed, the case was treated first in a General Council before he was considered not to be a pope....

    St. Jerome–in saying that a heretic departs on his own from the Body of Christ–does not preclude the Church’s judgment, especially in so grave a matter as is the deposition of a pope. He refers instead to the nature of that crime, which is such as to cut someone off from the Church on its own and without any other censure in addition to it–yet only so long as it should be declared by the Church. Although it separates from the Church on its own, the fact of separation does not make itself known to us without that declaration.

    ...So long as he has not become declared to us juridically as an infidel or heretic, be he ever so manifestly heretical according to private judgment, he remains as far as we are concerned a member of the Church, and consequently its head. Judgment is required from the Church, therefore, a judgment by which he would be proposed as not a Christian and to be avoided. It is only then that he ceases to be pope as far as we are concerned. As a result, however, he would not have ceased to be such even in and of himself, since all the things which he enacted had force in and of themselves.
    I have translated the expression quoad nos very loosely throughout. In point of fact, it represents a highly technical term–the equivalent of “criteriologically.” Many theologians would probably disagree with the very last assertion in the citation above, i.e., that a manifestly heretical pope would remain pope even ontologically until it had been determined otherwise criteriologically. I maintain, however, that John of St. Thomas was–rather brilliantly– taking to its logical conclusion a principle already found in most of the theologians who had dealt with this question. Few theologians actually held that a secretly heretical pope would be deposed ipso facto, the reason being that membership in the Church needs to be a visible reality (so that it could be verified criteriologically). Otherwise, the Church might fall into chaos if the activities of secret heretics would in reality be null and void. Ontologically, however, even a secret heretic would cease to be a Catholic before God. Yet membership in the Church does not simply represent a visible–though still only ontologically manifest–reality, but a juridically visible reality, i.e., criteriologically manifest–manifest in the true sense of this term. Holding jurisdiction depends upon the juridical reality of membership in the Church. With this principle, John of St. Thomas ingeniously reconciled the long-standing dispute between the papa haereticus ipso facto depositus [heretical pope ipso facto deposed] and the papa haereticus deponendus [heretical pope to be deposed] schools.
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