The Doctor and Student (1518)

Christopher St. Germain

If there were a schism in the papacy, what the parliament might do therein

Stud. If there were a schism in the papacy, who were right wise pope, the king in his parliament, as the high sovereign over the people, which hath not only charge on the bodies, but also on the souls of his subjects, hath power for the quietness and surety of his realm to ordain and determine, who shall be in this realm holden for right wise pope, and may command, that no man spiritual nor temporal shall name any other to be pope, but him that is so authorised in the parliament; nor sue to any other as pope, but only to him. And a statute of like effect was made in the 2 Rich. II., ch. 7, where pope Urban was adjudged in the parliament to be lawfully chosen pope. And the parliament; for appeasing divisions that might rise in the realm by such a schism in the papacy, may set a remedy; why then may not the king and his parliament in like wise, as well to the strength of the faith, and to the health of the souls of many of his subjects, as to save his realm from being noted of heresy, search the cause of such division as is now in the realm by diversities of sects and opinions; and to know also by whom, and by what occasion the noise hath arisen, that there should he so many heresies in this realm as are noted to be: and whether there be such heresies or not, and not to put any to answer thereupon after the process of the law; but charitably to examine the truth. therein, and thereupon by their wisdoms to devise some charitable way for unity and peace. And great reward shall they have of God, that put their hands to avoid the great danger that is like to fall to many souls, as well of men spiritual as temporal, if this division continue long. And as far as I have heard, all the articles that be misliked in this behalf, sowneither against the worldly honour, worldly power, or worldly riches of spiritual men; but to express the articles I hold it not most expedient. And verily if it be true that some have reported, many of them be so far against the truth, that I suppose no Christian man will hold them, believing them to be true: but that they do it for some other consideration. And though they do not well in that doing, how good soever the consideration be, for no evil is to be done that good should follow; yet they do not so evil, as if they held them, believing them also to be true; nor it will not be so hard to remove them from it, as it would be, if they did believe them indeed. For if it be so, that they believe them not, then the cause removed, it is to think, that they would be lightly reformed: and therefore if it were ordained for a law, that every curate at the death of every of their parishioners, should say for their souls in audience Placebo and Dirige, and mass, without taking any thing therefore and that they should also at a certain time, there to be assigned by parliament, as it were once in a month, or as, shall be thought convenient, do in likewise, and pray especially for the souls of their parishioners, and for all Christian souls, and for the king and the whole realm and religious houses to do after the same manner, I suppose, that in short time there would be but few, that would say, there were no purgatory. And in likewise if it were ordered so by the pope, that there might be certain general pardons of full remission in divers parts of the realm, which the people might have for saying certain orisons and prayers, without paying any money for it, it is not unlike, but in short time there would be very few, that would find any default at pardons: for verily it is a great comfort to all christian people to remember, that our Lord loved his people so much that he would to their relief and comfort, leaye behind him so great a treasure, as is the power to grant pardons: which, as I suppose, next unto the treasureof his precious body in the sacrament of the altar, may be. accounted among the greatest. And therefore he laboured greatly to his own hurt, and to the great heaviness of all other also, that would endure himself to prove, that there was no power left by God. And I suppose verily that if such free pardons were granted (as I have spoken of before) and that then other pardons were afterward granted, to have the aid of the people for some charitable cause, as to resist the Turk, or such other, that the people would as diligently receive those pardons to be partakers of the good deed, as they would be, if there were no such free pardons. granted before. And I think verily, that if the king’s. grace, and his parliament, look not upon these matters, it will be hard to tell who shall be able to do it. And under this manner Naitanus, king of Picts, took great labour and diligence for the appeasing of the division and variance, that was amongst his subjects (as well spiritual as temporal) for the due time of keeping the Easter. For some men in that variance kept Easter, when other kept Palm Sunday; and that was seen some time in one house. In which schism many great clerks and holy men were of several opinions, insomuch that the blessed man Saint Aidan, which was a holy bishop, erred long in the due time of keeping of Easter, and had many followers, and yet was he no heretic. For that that he did therein, he did with meekness, and as he thought stood according to the truth: and therefore there was but little offence in him. For appeasing of this schism, the said king Naitanus sent messengers to Saint Colfrid, then being abbott of the monasteries of Saint Peter and Paul, that be upon the rivers of Tyne and Tweed, and whereas venerable Bede was brought up, to be instructed in the due tithe of keeping Easter, and of the tonsure of clerks, which was then also in variance, whereupon the said holy man Colfrid wrote a letter unto the said king Naitanus, declaring unto him, by many authorities of scripture, the very due time of keeping Easter, and shewed his mind also in the said tonsures: and when the said letter was read before the king and his lords, and that the tenure thereof was plainly interpretate and declared unto him, he rose up from among his lords, and kneeled down upon his knees, and thanked Almighty God, that had sent him such a gift out of the country of England. And it is not to think, that he did this, intending to give sentence therein by his own authority, for that belonged not to him, but he. did it to know the truth, and that he might thereupon shew his favour to the better part. And if the king’s grace would in this case endeavour himself to know the truth of the cause of this division, I suppose that he shall in some article shew his favour to the one part, and in some other article to the other part. Also when the heresy of Enticetis rose at Constantinople, which erred in the Trinity, the blessed man Saint Theodore, then archbishop of Canterbury, to, the intent he would keep the church of England from that error, gathered all the clergy together, and examined them diligently what they thought concerning the articles of the heresy: and when he found them all stedfast in the catholick faith, he wrote a letter of their belief; and for instruction of them that should come after, sent it to Rome; and the effect of his letter was this We believe and constantly confess after holy fathers, to be verily and truly, the Father, the Son, and the Holy Ghost, a Trinity in Unity, and a Unity consubstantial in Trinity, that is, one God in three persons consubstantial of equal glory and honour.” And among other things that he wrote, which pertained to the faith, he said afterward “We also accept the holy and universal sine synodals of holy fathers: and we accept and glorify our Lord Jesus Christ as they glorified him, nothing adding or diminishing; and we glorify God the Father without beginning, and his only Son gotten of the Father before the worlds, and the Holy Ghost proceeding of the Father and the Son, so as they cannot be spoken as they, that we have remembered, the holy apostles and prophets and doctors have preached and taught. And methinketh, that these examples should somewhat encourage them, that now may do good in this evil and perilous time, to follow somewhat after, and every man after his degree is, to do the best that he can therein to help it, not regarding worldly honour, worldly riches, nor singular profit: but only the honour of God, and the love of their neighbours, and health of their souls. And if they do so, undoubtedly the work shall prosper well in their hands. And let no man, that may do good in this matter, suffer it to over .pass as though it pertained not to him: for Almighty God hath given a commandment to every man upon his neighbour. And to encourage themselves yet the more unto it, let theta remember the words, that be spoken in the first book of the Revelations of Saint Bridget, the 58th chapter, where our Lord Jesus, among other things, said to our lady thus: “I would (said he) if it were possible, suffer for every man such a pain as I once suffered for all men upon the cross, so that they might come to the inheritance promised.” Happy be they then, that help souls to that inheritance, that our Lord desired so much to have them come unto. And sometime it hath been brought about by fair means, that could not be done by rigour and compulsion. And if my lords and masters spiritual will needily forthwith their streight corrections and punishments, without finding some provision, that the minds of the people may somewhat be eased, in such things as they have misliked and grudged at in times past; it is to fear that there will not follow so good fruit of it as there would do, if they would do it; and that they would shew themselves evidently to do nothing but only of a zeal and
love unto the people And it is a doubt to some men, whether some of the things, the people mislike and find default at, be occasions active or passive to the people to offend: but whether they be the one or the other, charity would (as it seemeth) that some: diligence should be put to amove them, though percase they were not evil but indifferent, or peradventure good of themself.