Infallibilists in the curia of Pope John XXII

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April 1975, Volume1(Issue1) Page71To101

In 1324 the idea of papal infallibility was saved from condemnation at the hands of Pope John XXII through the influence of a small group of infallibilists in John's curia. Founded about 1314 by Peter de la Palu, this group developed the idea of the absolute infallibility of the local Roman church first to defend the privileges of the mendicant orders, then to defend the whole church against heresy. Its members included Guido Terreni, who from 1318 seems to have taken the lead in the development of the idea, and John Regina of Naples, whose argument in 1324 that infallibility was an “ancient teaching of the church” appears to have been decisive in averting Pope John's condemnation. The existence of this group of ‘curial infallibilists’ before 1324 revises the suggestion of recent research that the Franciscan, anti-papal conception of papal infallibility which surfaced in the early 1320's served as the inspiration for the development of a curial, pro-papal conception in the late 1320's. The curial conception was not a response to the Franciscan conception, but an independent, parallel development. Peter de la Palu and Guido Terreni in 1318 were not even aware that Peter Olivi, the formulator of the Franciscan conception, had taught a theory of infallibility. In fact, they condemned him for not doing so. If Olivi's theory had any influence on Palu's initial conception, it was through the very simplified version of an intermediary.

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