Department of Modern History, Politics and International Relations - Politics and International Relations

John XXII, Quia nonnunquam

Translated by John Kilcullen from Corpus iuris canonici, ed. E. Friedberg, vol. 2, col. 1224 ff. "B" refers to the text of Bullarium Franciscanum, ed. H. Sbaralea and C. Eubelp. 224 ff.)


Since sometimes what conjecture believed would be useful subsequent experience shows to be harmful, it should not be judged reprehensible if the maker of the canons desires to revoke, modify or suspend canons (or things contained in them) published either by himself or by his predecessors, if they seem to him to be obstructive rather than useful.

Now whereas our predecessor of happy memory, Pope Nicholas III, promulgated a certain declaratory constitution that begins Exiit about the Rule of our beloved sons the brothers of the Order of Minors, which the gracious confessor blessed Francis established, strictly forbidding under certain penalties that agreements, disagreements or opposed or different opinions should be in any way brought forward by readers or expositors of that constitution, or that glosses should be made by anyone upon that constitution, except perhaps glosses by which the word or its sense, or the constitution itself, is explained as it were grammatically and to the letter; and that its meaning not be distorted by the reader to something different from what the letter of that constitution conveys. He willed to subject ipso facto to the sentence of excommunication those who wrote glosses upon that constitution in any way other than as is expressed above, and those who make a comment, writings or books and with clear knowledge and deliberation determine in the schools or preach against things contained in the aforesaid constitution (or some things, or something, of the aforesaid) --- notwithstanding any privileges or indulgences or apostolic letters conceded, under whatever form or expression of words, to whatever persons, offices, orders or places, religious or secular, generally or in particular (which he did not wish to favour in any way to any in respect of the foregoing).

We, however, noticing that often by arguments and conferences hidden truth appears, and that under the same letter a multiplicity of meanings often hides, and also that it is difficult for those wishing to read and perfectly understand the aforesaid constitution to avoid the penalties laid down in this constitution, and wishing to open a way to truth and to healthfully obviate the dangers that literate persons, especially in the schools, could incur from the above, especially since certain doubts have sprung up afresh concerning which truth could be endangered and the way opened to errors, unless it were permitted to confer and also dispute upon things contained in this constitution, we have decided in the presence of our brothers and of many archbishops, bishops and other prelates, and also of may professors of both laws and of many masters of sacred theology, when we were holding consistory, that the prohibitions and penalties, both imposed and threatened, and their effects, should be suspended by apostolic authority at the pleasure of the Apostolic See.

We by no means intend that by this suspension any permission be conferred upon anyone to dogmatise, write or determine, preach or speak, publicly or in secret, against the Rule of the aforesaid brothers. Indeed this we strictly prohibit to all and sundry by the aforesaid authority.

But lest in future the suspension of the above prohibitions and penalties should be able to be called into doubt, and lest through lack of proof it happen to anyone to fall into the penalty or penalties aforesaid as a transgressor of those prohibitions, we, wishing upon this matter to provide a timely remedy, will cause charters or parchments containing that suspension to be appended to or fixed to the doors of the greater church of Avignon or upon its lintels, which will publish the aforesaid suspension, so to speak, by its sonorous announcement and open disclosure [patenti iudicio: patulo indicio B] .

Given at Avignon, March 26 in the sixth year [of our pontificate, i.e. 1322].


Papal documents relating to Franciscan poverty



See also translations by Jonathan Robinson of texts relating to Franciscan poverty by Bonaventure, Michael de Cesena and William of St-Amour.

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