Academic journal article The Catholic Historical Review

Pope John XXII and His Franciscan Cardinal: Bertrand De la Tour and the Apostolic Poverty Controversy

Academic journal article The Catholic Historical Review

Pope John XXII and His Franciscan Cardinal: Bertrand De la Tour and the Apostolic Poverty Controversy

Article excerpt

Pope John XXII and His Franciscan Cardinal: Bertrand de la Tour and the Apostolic Poverty Controversy. By Patrick Nold. (New York: Clarendon Press/Oxford University Press. 2003. Pp. xii, 212.)

During the 1320's a dramatic confrontation took place between Pope John XXII and leaders of the Franciscan order. In 1322, shortly after supporting those leaders in their struggle with the spiritual Franciscans, John traumatized them by reopening the question of whether Christ and his disciples had possessions, a matter inseparable from the question of whether the Franciscans themselves had possessions. (To state the matter thus is to oversimplify it, but in the context of a review it will have to suffice.) What was at stake was the question of whether the pope or the order owned everything used by the Franciscans, from the buildings they lived in right down to the eggs they consumed at dinner. The Franciscan claim to superiority over other orders was also at issue, since they felt their superiority lay in having renounced both individual and common possessions, as Christ had done.

After a period of debate, John decided that both Christ and the Franciscans had possessions. The dispute took on a political coloring in 1324 when Ludwig of Bavaria sided with the Franciscan minister general, Michael of Cesena. In 1328 Michael and others escaped from detention at the papal court and, under Ludwig's protection, busied themselves with hurling charges of heresy at John as well as recasting the history of the controversy in terms favorable to themselves. …

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