Roberts Liardon tells us that these bulls cited eighteen errors from Wycliffe’s tract, On Civil Dominion. To the Oxford scholars, the pope rebuked their leadership, stating that, “…through negligence and sloth on your part [you have allowed] cockle to spring among the pure wheat in the field of your glorious university…and (what is worse) to grow up.”
The pope went on to say that if they could not silence Wycliffe, the result would be the peril of their souls, the blemish of the Oxford name, and the decay of the entire orthodox faith. The pope arrogantly declared that if Oxford did not get rid of Wycliffe, the university would no longer receive the graces and support of the Catholic Church.
Despite the threats, Oxford took Wycliffe’s side. A council of doctors declared that the “propositions attributed to him [Wycliffe], though ill-sounding, were not erroneous.” 8 In other words, if we used today’s vernacular, Oxford might have said something like, “the truth hurts.”
Oxford realized the pope was embarrassed and extremely threatened by Wycliffe’s accusations. I believe the Oxford scholars were proud of Wycliffe’s insight and secretly wished they had the personal boldness to address the Catholic Church’s hypocrisy. Although they supported him and gave him the liberty to continue teaching, Wycliffe decided to place himself under house arrest to spare the university from further action by the pope.
Roberts Liardon tells us that the bulls also ordered the government to turn Wycliffe over to Courtenay, who, in turn, was to examine Wycliffe regarding his errors. But the government never paid any attention to the bulls— King Edward III died before he received them.
I Deny the Pope Any Right Of course, Courtenay’s political and religious ambition prompted him to scurry to summon Wycliffe before a court in Lambeth to address the pope’s charges. Wycliffe accepted the challenge and answered the summons.