Sacramentum Mundi Online

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(1,190 words)

Conciliarism, or the conciliar theory, which was developed in the 14th century and applied to the so-called reform councils of the 15th century, teaches that an ecumenical council is superior to the Pope.

1. Conciliarism was not originally and exclusively the creation of Marsilius of Padua and William of Occam, as has often been supposed.

It had its roots in the discussions on the Church by canonists of the 12th and 13th centuries, resulting from efforts to set juridical limitations to the power of the papacy. According to Huguccio and others, the Pope can fall into error, but not the Ecclesia…

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Hubert Jedin, “Conciliarism”, in: Sacramentum Mundi Online, General Editor Karl Rahner, SJ. Consulted online on 30 November 2023 <>
First published online: 2016

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