Pope John XXII, Quia quorundam, and Papal Infallibility

hey guys.

i recently came across an argument against Papal Infallibility.

it looks like Pope John XXII explicitly denied this doctrine in a bull entitled Quia quorundam.

here is two links…

the official bull franciscan-archive.org/bullarium/qquor-e.html

a blog post explaining the problem rationalityofaith.wordpress.com/2017/07/01/pope-john-xxiis-condemnation-of-papal-infallibility-a-study-of-papal-power-in-quia-quorundam/

Can one of you explain this? It seems that, even if the context of the bull was not a matter of unchangeable doctrine, still, the bull itself denies Infallibility IN GENERAL so as to deny infallibility, not just in cases of Church practice, but in all cases whatsoever.

EWTN Catholic Q&A
RE: Papal Infallibility
Question from Jon Boulineau on 04-29-2002:

A poster, whom you answerd on 04-26, presented the argument that Pope John XXII’s QUIA QUORUNDAM was contrary to the Catholic Dogma of papal infallibility which was officially defined at the First Vatican Council. Quite contrary to what the poster wishes us to believe, the writing in question does not contradict this later definition, but rather gives background support of what would come later. Quia Quorundam was a response by John XXII against those who suggested that a certain interpretation of the Rule of St. Francis was infallible because it was supported by papal predecessors. John XXII responded in strong language that Papal Infallibility only extended to matters of Faith and Morals, not of knowledge. He states:

*For through the key of knowledge, or through the authority to distinguish or examine between leprosy and leprosy (if we say that that is a key), nothing else is attributed to him to whom it is given except authority {cognoscere} to examine. But to someone given authority to examine concerning some thing, [authority] to define that thing is not understood to be given.
*
In other words, simply because the Pope, just like any man, has the authority to examine matters of knowledge, he has not been given the authority to define infallibly anything that is not a matter of Faith or Morals. He may state his opinion, which should carry weight as the Pope demands our respect, but it carries no obligation of belief. This is precisely the way the First Vatican Council defined Papal Infallibility in 1870.

He is not saying that Papal Infallibility is false. Read carefully what he says. He is saying that you cannot define some things using only the key of knowledge, and others only the key of power, which the Franciscans were arguing. For he goes onto say this:

Therefore it remains,** that to establish anything conveniently, or to define it, each of the keys, namely, of examining and defining, is required as necessary**; or that to only the key of power does it belong to establish [anything], and even to define [it]; but, just as the material light directs the key-bearer in the use of a material key, so likewise he obtains as much as regards this matter from knowledge instead of light. And this Our Savior in making the promise of the keys to blessed Peter seems to have understood expressly, when He immediately adds to that: “And whatever you will bind on earth, shall be bound even in heaven, and whatever you loose on earth, will be loosed even in heaven,” making no mention of knowledge.

By the way, the historian Brian Tierney does say that John XXII originally rejected Papal Infallibility but only because John XXII thought it interfered with Papal Sovereignty. Tierney goes onto say that in QQ, John XXII’s attitude towards Papal Infallibility had changed, and that he saw an advantage to it.

The historian James Heft disagrees with Tierney. He states that acceptance of Papal Infallibility is present in John XXII from the start. The following is taken from: theology.slu.edu/archive/prog_essays/kruse.pdf

Furthermore, Heft asserts that Tierney is wrong in stating that John’s attitude towards infallibility changed in Quia quorundam mentes

.
According to Heft, John consistently held that he was bound to his predecessors’ decisions in so far as they touched upon articles of the faith but that he was not bound to other decisions that did not touch upon articles of the faith.19

Heft asserts that John never saw the poverty issue as revolving around matters of the faith. Rather, he saw it as a matter of discipline.20

Thus, because the controversy did not circle around a matter of faith, John felt free to alter the disciplinary decisions of his predecessors on the issue while at the same time held that the decisions of his predecessors were infallible to the degree that they touched upon matters of the faith.

So it is a mortal sin not to murder, if my conscience tells me to murder?

Correct. So make the distinction. Thomists believe it is a sin to go against a well formed conscience.

By the way, since Vatican I is binding on all Catholics, and Papal Infallibility was defined at that council, can you really say this?

You are not required to believe it

You mean “Vatican I”, don’t you?

And, c’mon now… “deity”? Seriously? :rolleyes:

In reality, for the Pope to be infallible

The Pope (himself, as a person) is never “infallible.” However, he can make statements which are infallible. (That’s a pretty huge difference.) :wink:

Papal bulls are not inherently infallible – no document is – but a papal bull could be a way of promulgating an infallible definition.

Likewise, as someone else said, Pope John XXII did not need to believe in papal infallibility, since it had not yet been defined as a dogma of the faith, but surely after the definition of the First Vatican Council all Catholics are required to believe in the doctrine.

Finally, I presume you were expressing a common misconception about infallibility rather than stating your own understanding, but of course at no point has the Church taught that the Pope is “an infallible deity.” He may teach under the protection of infallibility within defined limits, as a protection for the rest of us rather than because he is particularly holy or awesome (though of course we hope that our Popes are both).

The Pope is always supreme and must be obeyed at all times, even if he is not speaking ex cathedra.

Lumen Gentium 25:

“In matters of faith and morals, the bishops speak in the name of Christ and the faithful are to accept their teaching and adhere to it with a religious assent. This religious submission of mind and will must be shown in a special way to the authentic magisterium of the Roman Pontiff, even when he is not speaking ex cathedra; that is, it must be shown in such a way that his supreme magisterium is acknowledged with reverence, the judgments made by him are sincerely adhered to, according to his manifest mind and will. His mind and will in the matter may be known either from the character of the documents, from his frequent repetition of the same doctrine, or from his manner of speaking.”

vatican.va/archive/hist_councils/ii_vatican_council/documents/vat-ii_const_19641121_lumen-gentium_en.html

From what I understand, Pope John XXII explicitly denies that St. Peter was ever given the key of knowledge - that he was only given the key of power.

Also, the argument does not appear to limit this to merely matters of discipline. I do not see anywhere in the bull that says this argument does not apply to matters of faith and morals. The argument appears to be a general argument applying to the nature of the keys, in general, and that, because St. Peter only has the key of power and not the key of knowledge, that he is utterly incapable of infallibility, in general, regardless of the circumstance. Because he does not have the key of knowledge, but only the key of power.

In fact, John XXII seems to be saying that there is no “key of knowledge.” Therefore, the argument that says “only the ‘key of knowledge’ can do thus and such” as its basis, fails to have any effect, as this argument is pointing to something illusory.

Also, the argument does not appear to limit this to merely matters of discipline. I do not see anywhere in the bull that says this argument does not apply to matters of faith and morals.

In other words, what you’re saying is that this argument does not make the claim that it applies to matters of faith and morals. In other words, this argument cannot support the blogger’s claim that it applies to the notion of papal infallibility, per se, since it does not address the context in which papal infallibility applies. :thumbsup:

The argument appears to be a general argument applying to the nature of the keys, in general, and that, because St. Peter only has the key of power and not the key of knowledge, that he is utterly incapable of infallibility, in general, regardless of the circumstance.

Nope. Doesn’t make that claim.

In any case, I think I would argue that a particular decree (i.e., a constitution for a particular order) is neither dogma, doctrine, nor discipline, but rather, simply a legal decree. No one has ever made the claim that legal decrees (e.g., codes of canon law) cannot be changed. So, even on that count, the blogger’s argument fails to hold.

I dont know. I am not questioning the office of the Papacy. It is clear from the Scriptures and from the history of the early Church that Jesus ordained for the people of God to have a single male patriarch, based in Rome, the successor of St. Peter, as the head of the Church. That is how Jesus has always done things, both OT and NT: a single male patriarch leading His people.

So I am in no way calling into question the Papacy.

But the arguments seem to me pretty air tight that Pope John XXII denied the infallibility of the Papacy.

Now, if the counter-argument is that a Papal Bull is not infallible and thus Pope John XXII was in error, then that is fine. But I do not see any getting around the idea that he did, in fact, deny the infallibility of the Pope.

No… he was denying that constitutions of religious orders could not be modified. See Duane1966’s post. He was replying to the Franciscans and refuting their claims, not making a general statement.

In my experience, when a person attempts to debunk papal infallibility, he usually (unintentionally) sets up a straw man (that is, one that greatly expands the scope of infallibility), and then knocks it down. That’s what’s happening here, it seems. :shrug:

Pope John XXII simply denies the distinction alleged by the Spiritualist Franciscans to exist between the “key of knowledge” and the “key of power”. He says:

“On account of which moreover, since it was previously mentioned in the aforesaid consideration, namely, that “It is not licit for their successors to call again into doubt those things, which were defined once for all by the key of knowledge in faith or morals by the Supreme Pontiffs, although it is otherwise,” so they say, ” in regards to those things, which have been ordained by the Supreme Pontiffs by [means of] the key of power,” it is evidently clear from the following things [that] this is directly contrary to the truth.”

papalencyclicals.net/John22/qquor-e.htm

He then goes on to say that** it belongs to the key of power and examining to define a matter**:

“Wherefore it remains, that to establish anything conveniently, or to define it, each of the keys, namely, of examining and defining, is required as necessary; or that to only the key of power does it belong to establish [anything], and even to define [it]”.

He then goes on to spend the majority of the bull showing that previous Popes had not defined any doctrine in regard to the Spiritualist Franciscans’ claims regarding apostolic poverty.

In contrast, your blogger rather simplistically jumps to the conclusion that the “key of knowledge” is identical to the Vatican I ability of the Pope to define dogma ex cathedra, which is completely unsupported by the text.

Actually, what he explicitly denies is that you need the key of knowledge to bind. The Franciscans said this:

“It is not licit for their successors to call again into doubt those things, which were defined once for all by the key of knowledge in faith or morals by the Supreme Pontiffs,

and then they said you could call into question things that the pontiffs had bound using the key of power when they said this:

***although it is otherwise,” ***so they say, “ in regards to those things, which have been ordained by the Supreme Pontiffs by [means of] the key of power,”

This second part is what John XXII denies, that you could call into question things that the pontiff had bound without the key of knowledge. This is quite clear from his quoting Jesus at the end of point #2, where he says Jesus gave Peter the KEYS, (notice he says Jesus gave Peter keys, not a singular key), and he goes onto say that Jesus never mentions knowledge as being REQUIRED to bind. In fact he says earlier that all priests are given two keys.

Then in point 3 of QQ, your argument totally falls apart, because John XXII states that the reason he can change the rule that his predecessors had confirmed, was because the had explicitly not used certain language in confirming the rule, i.e. they had not invoked infallibility, and that if they had, he could not change it. Read what he says. The friars said that his predecessors had used this language:

“This is the evangelical rule,” etc

and that’s why they say John XXII cannot change the rule.

John XXII’s whole counter argument rests on the fact that none of his predecessors ever said "This is the evangelical rule," here:

Honorius indeed confirmed the aforementioned rule without any declaration, in confirmation of which no mention of the aforesaid words is had, SO THAT

<<<< Right here he says he can change it because his predecessors did not invoke infallibility.

He goes on:

**to whomsoever considers [it] attentively he can dissolve a confirmation of this kind **

Clearly, he is stating here that he can dissolve it because his predecessors had not invoked infallibility in confirming the rule. He goes on to say this:

except in so far as mention is made of the evangelical life there in the rule itself, as confirmed, when it says: “This is the rule of the Friars Minor, namely to observe the Holy Gospel of Our Lord Jesus Christ, by living in obedience, without anything of one’s own, and in chastity.” From which words it cannot be concluded that through that same predecessor of ours those things, which they themselves assert in [regards to] the aforesaid words, have been defined. On the contrary it can be concluded rather, that the evangelical life, which Christ and the Apostles kept, did not exclude holding anything in common, since one cannot survive without anything of one’s own, on which account, as living men, they would have nothing in common. Also in the declarations of the aforesaid Gregory, Innocent and Alexander, who explained the same rule without another confirmation, similarly no direct mention is made of the aforesaid [words];

Tell me, why does John XXII place such import on those five words, if he doesn’t believe in papal infallibility? Yet he makes it clear that the only reason he could change what his predecessors had confirmed, was because they did not say those five words, though the Franciscans said they had!!!

It’s airtight. John XXII clearly believes in Papal Infallibility.

it seems the Franciscans were claiming that the Pope could not alter the previous decision because it was made with the Key of knowledge - knowledge which ensures infallibility

the Pope responds by saying that he was not given the key of knowledge, but only the key of power

thus, he has the power to bind and loose. but he does not have infallibility.

therefore, even if he was contradicting a previous Pope in a matter of faith and morals (which I think he claims he is not doing), he argues, he could do so if he wanted to, because the Keys do not provide infallibility, they only provide the power of binding and loosing.

so what one Pope binds, he may bind in error, and another Pope can loose that error.

the keys then do not provide the knowledge needed to define something infallibility, but only the power needed to enforce a definition (whether it is right or wrong.)

In all of Christianity, only the Catholic Church is unassailable on doctrine. Therefore, when encountering the innumerable rash and poorly thought out accusations against Catholicism, it is best to turn the tables and investigate those making the accusations. The burden of proof is theirs, and it will amount to nothing more than opinion. Their primary aim is to justify their separation/division from the one true Church. Just that simple.

No. What he’s doing here isn’t accepting their argument, but rejecting it:

For they say, those things, which are established by the key of knowledge, have one affect, and those things, which are established by the key of power, another, supposing that some things, by the key of knowledge, and others, by the key of power, have been determined or even defined, which is evidently false.

Pretty clearly stated here; they’re wrong in their claims that some things are established by ‘the key of knowledge’ and others by ‘the key of power’.

therefore, even if he was contradicting a previous Pope in a matter of faith and morals (which I think he claims he is not doing)

Precisely: “Besides they tell us, where they read assertions of this kind, that it pertains to faith and morals, that Christ and the Apostles did not have as regards these things, which they did have, [anything] but the simplex usus facti? Indeed this does not pertain directly to faith.”

Here, John is telling us what we, in the present day, would frame up in these words: “this isn’t a matter of faith and morals, and therefore, ‘infallibility’ doesn’t apply.”

Therefore, John argues, since this is not a matter of faith and morals, “Nor in the aforesaid creeds, the Gospel, or the Acts of the Apostles and [their] letters is there had any mention that it is not lawful for their successor to rid himself of that [which] was reserved, if this seemed expedient, nor that a successor did not have the force [of authority] to revoke the procurators constituted by the authority of the supreme Pontiff for the transactions of the aforesaid order.”

In other words, that which is not of faith and morals is a prudential matter, upon which each pope may rule.

the keys then do not provide the knowledge needed to define something infallibility, but only the power needed to enforce a definition (whether it is right or wrong.)

Again… no. :nope:

The Franciscans had argued that the constitution was unchangeable because it was given through the key of knowledge. John argues that there’s no such thing as a decision solely by the key of knowledge, since by the key of knowledge, there is only the power to decide, not the power to make a declaration. Therefore, the Franciscans’ argument (that their constitution is unassailable by virtue of the key of knowledge) is seen to be false:

For by means of the key of knowledge… nothing other except the authority to examine [them] is attributed by means of it to him to which it has been given. However to him, to whom is given the authority of deciding concerning anything, there is not understood to have been given [the authority] to define [anything] concerning it.

Instead, John argues, it’s the key of power (whether in conjunction with the key of knowledge or on its own) from which the authority to make a declaration proceeds:

Wherefore it remains, that to establish anything conveniently, or to define it, each of the keys, namely, of examining and defining, is required as necessary; or that to only the key of power does it belong to establish [anything], and even to define [it].

Having asserted that this is not a matter of ‘faith and morals’, but rather, a matter of the authority of the pope, he is free to rule on the matter as he sees fit.

In short, this is not an attack on ‘infallibility’, but rather, a rebuttal of an attack on the authority of the pope.

Your conclusion does not follow from your premise. Nowhere is the “key of knowledge” defined as “infallibility”. That is an inference your blogger makes without any support. Pope John XXII specifically says he can “define” a matter with the key of power alone, and spends the entire bull explaining how his predecessors had not defined anything.

Correct. John XXII says Jesus says nowhere is knowledge needed when He gives the gift of binding to Peter, in section 2 of QQ.

In section 3 of QQ, he spends the whole section explaining that he can change what his predecessors had confirmed, because they had not invoked infallibility when confirming the rule of the Franciscans.

ok. so Pope John XXII says this was not a matter of faith, and therefore he has the power to change previous rulings, yet at the same time, he denies he is actually changing anything to begin with.i think that is right? but what about this matter with the key of knowledge vs. the key of power? he denies the key of knowledge exists? but he says one needs both the key of knowledge and the key of power to examine and define something. so what does that leave him with? merely the power to define - but not the power to examine so as to bind accurately?

One thing is clear from section 3 of QQ, John felt he could change the ruling of his predecessors ***because he felt they had not invoked infallibility when confirming the rule of the Franciscans, ***whereas the Franciscans felt they had. That is why he says to pay attention to the language his predecessors had used, that nowhere had they used language in confirming the rule of the Franciscans that would lead anyone to think they were confirming this as binding on the Church.

In using this argument, he is only saying that his predecessors had not invoked infallibility, not that they couldn’t, nor that he believed it didn’t exist. In fact his whole argument in section 3 makes absolutely no sense if he denies Papal Infallibility. All he would have to say is: "I don’t believe infallibility exists, and I’m changing the rule."
The very fact that he goes into great detail in examining the exact language that his predecessors had used, shows that he acknowledges that the charism of infallibility does exist. Otherwise, why should he care what language his predecessors had used in confirming the rule?

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