Papal Documents - The Prophet - 787 

would recognize that this goes beyond the nature of "use," and that such activity is not proper to a "user" at all, but to the one who owns it. So when these brothers themselves make such dispositions about so many mobile goods, claiming that this was conceded to them by this ordinance, such examples clearly argue that such a use is hardly "bare."

5 They are also not "bare users" of things that are consumable by use, for to say that there could be either a use of law or a use of fact without the rights of dominion over such goods is repugnant to law and to reason.a Nor does it seem to have been the intention of our predecessor to reserve the ownership of such things to the Roman Church. For what person in his right mind could believe that it was the intention of so great a father to acquire for the Roman Church the ownership of one egg, one bean, or one loaf of bread, or even a crust of bread, which are often given to the brothers? Or if this was his intention, who could defend this claim as a real form of ownership, when it is simply an empty phrase? Rather, should he not denounce something that is not real but a fiction?

6 For the kind of use that one has in relation to such things can in no way be said to be a "bare use," because the use of a thing that is consumed by the user is no different from the use by a person who owns it. For it is obvious that this kind of use totally consumes the thing, and therefore it is certain that a use that has such complete control over something cannot be called a "bare use." From such cases it seems to follow that they should not be maintaining that they have only a "bare use" of things. Rather, it is the "ownership" of the Roman Church that appears to be bare, verbal, and mathematical, for no gain has so far resulted from it for that Church, nor is it hoped that any gain might occur in the future. For it is neither the intention of the Church who reserves the ownership of these goods nor of the brothers themselves that the benefit of having these goods should accrue to anyone else but these brothers. It is obvious that such "ownership" neither makes the person who has it richer, nor the person who lacks it poorer. So it is quite apparent that it is an empty boast for these brothers to claim that they have the "highest poverty" of all the mendicant orders [because they do not own their belongings].

7 Moreover, the aforesaid retention of ownership by the Apostolic See has been the cause of recurring dangerous divisions among the brothers of the same Order, and weighty perils which have followed




Francis of Assisi: Early Documents, vol. 3, p. 787