The ministers of the Church are appointed in the Church which is founded by God. Wherefore they need to be appointed by the Church before exercising their ministry, just as the work of creation is presupposed to the work of nature. And since the Church is founded on faith and the sacraments, the ministers of the Church have no power to publish new articles of faith, or to do away with those which are already published, or to institute new sacraments, or to abolish those that are instituted, for this belongs to the power of excellence, which belongs to Christ alone, Who is the foundation of the Church. Consequently, the Pope can neither dispense a man so that he may be saved without Baptism, nor that he be saved without confession, in so far as it is obligatory in virtue of the sacrament. He can, however, dispense from confession, in so far as it is obligatory in virtue of the commandment of the Church; so that a man may delay confession longer than the limit prescribed by the Church.Latin text:
Et ideo institutio Ecclesiae praesupponitur ad operationem ministrorum, sicut opus creationis praesupponitur ad opus naturae. Et quia Ecclesia fundatur in fide et in sacramentis, ideo ad ministros Ecclesiae novos articulos fidei edere, aut editos removere, aut nova sacramenta instituere, aut instituta removere non pertinet, sed hoc est potestatis excellentiae, quae soli debetur Christo, qui est Ecclesiae fundamentum. Et ideo sicut papa non potest dispensare ut aliquis sine baptismo salvetur, ita nec quod salvetur sine confessione, secundum quod obligat ex ipsa vi sacramenti: sed potest dispensare in confessione, secundum quod obligat ex praecepto Ecclesiae (1) ut possit aliquis diutius confessionem differre quam ab Ecclesia institutum sit (2).Citation: Thomas Aquinas (as represented by Reginald di Piperno), Supplement to the Summa Theologica, Question 6, Article 6
Compare the Latin text of Aquinas' commentary on the Sentences (which is essentially the same):
Ad quintam quaestionem dicendum, quod ministri Ecclesiae instituuntur in Ecclesia divinitus fundata; et ideo institutio Ecclesiae praesupponitur ad operationem ministrorum, sicut opus creationis praesupponitur ad opus naturae. Et quia Ecclesia fundatur in fide et sacramentis; ideo ad ministros Ecclesiae nec novos articulos fidei edere, aut editos removere, aut nova sacramenta instituere, aut instituta removere, pertinet; sed hoc est potestatis excellentiae, quae soli debetur Christo, qui est Ecclesiae fundamentum. Et ideo, sicut Papa non potest dispensare ut aliquis sine Baptismo salvetur; ita nec quod salvetur sine confessione, secundum quod obligat ex ipsa vi sacramenti; sed potest dispensare in confessione secundum quod obligat de praecepto Ecclesiae, ut possit aliquis diutius confessionem differre quam ab Ecclesia institutum sit.( Super Sent., lib. 4 d. 17 q. 3 a. 1 qc. 5 co.)
Of course, the main point of this article is the decidedly non-Reformed position that sacramental confession is necessary for salvation. However, notice the point about articles of the faith. Observe that Thomas thought that "the ministers of the Church have no power to publish new articles of faith, or to do away with those which are already published."
Recall as well Thomas comment on the possibility of increasing the number of the articles of faith:
Accordingly we must conclude that, as regards the substance of the articles of faith, they have not received any increase as time went on: since whatever those who lived later have believed, was contained, albeit implicitly, in the faith of those Fathers who preceded them. But there was an increase in the number of articles believed explicitly, since to those who lived in later times some were known explicitly which were not known explicitly by those who lived before them. Hence the Lord said to Moses (Exodus 6:2-3): "I am the God of Abraham, the God of Isaac, the God of Jacob [Vulgate: 'I am the Lord that appeared to Abraham, to Isaac, and to Jacob'] . . . and My name Adonai I did not show them": David also said (Psalm 118:100): "I have had understanding above ancients": and the Apostle says (Ephesians 3:5) that the mystery of Christ, "in other generations was not known, as it is now revealed to His holy apostles and prophets."Latin text:
Sic igitur dicendum est quod, quantum ad substantiam articulorum fidei, non est factum eorum augmentum per temporum successionem, quia quaecumque posteriores crediderunt continebantur in fide praecedentium patrum, licet implicite. Sed quantum ad explicationem, crevit numerus articulorum, quia quaedam explicite cognita sunt a posterioribus quae a prioribus non cognoscebantur explicite. Unde dominus Moysi dicit, Exod. VI, ego sum Deus Abraham, Deus Isaac, Deus Iacob, et nomen meum Adonai non indicavi eis. Et David dicit, super senes intellexi. Et apostolus dicit, ad Ephes. III, aliis generationibus non est agnitum mysterium Christi sicut nunc revelatum est sanctis apostolis eius et prophetis.Citation: Thomas Aquinas, Summa Theologica, Second Part of the Second Part, Question 1, Article 7
However, carefully notice the context in which Aquinas is speaking:
On the contrary, Gregory says (Hom. xvi in Ezech.) that "the knowledge of the holy fathers increased as time went on . . . and the nearer they were to Our Savior's coming, the more fully did they received the mysteries of salvation."Latin text:
I answer that, The articles of faith stand in the same relation to the doctrine of faith, as self-evident principles to a teaching based on natural reason. Among these principles there is a certain order, so that some are contained implicitly in others; thus all principles are reduced, as to their first principle, to this one: "The same thing cannot be affirmed and denied at the same time," as the Philosopher states (Metaph. iv, text. 9). On like manner all the articles are contained implicitly in certain primary matters of faith, such as God's existence, and His providence over the salvation of man, according to Hebrews 11: "He that cometh to God, must believe that He is, and is a rewarder to them that seek Him." For the existence of God includes all that we believe to exist in God eternally, and in these our happiness consists; while belief in His providence includes all those things which God dispenses in time, for man's salvation, and which are the way to that happiness: and in this way, again, some of those articles which follow from these are contained in others: thus faith in the Redemption of mankind includes belief in the Incarnation of Christ, His Passion and so forth.
Sed contra est quod Gregorius dicit, quod secundum incrementa temporum crevit scientia sanctorum patrum, et quanto viciniores adventui salvatoris fuerunt, tanto sacramenta salutis plenius perceperunt.Citation: Thomas Aquinas, Summa Theologica, Second Part of the Second Part, Question 1, Article 7
Respondeo dicendum quod ita se habent in doctrina fidei articuli fidei sicut principia per se nota in doctrina quae per rationem naturalem habetur. In quibus principiis ordo quidam invenitur, ut quaedam in aliis implicite contineantur, sicut omnia principia reducuntur ad hoc sicut ad primum, impossibile est simul affirmare et negare, ut patet per philosophum, in IV Metaphys. Et similiter omnes articuli implicite continentur in aliquibus primis credibilibus, scilicet ut credatur Deus esse et providentiam habere circa hominum salutem, secundum illud ad Heb. XI, accedentem ad Deum oportet credere quia est, et quod inquirentibus se remunerator sit. In esse enim divino includuntur omnia quae credimus in Deo aeternaliter existere, in quibus nostra beatitudo consistit, in fide autem providentiae includuntur omnia quae temporaliter a Deo dispensantur ad hominum salutem, quae sunt via in beatitudinem. Et per hunc etiam modum aliorum subsequentium articulorum quidam in aliis continentur, sicut in fide redemptionis humanae implicite continetur et incarnatio Christi et eius passio et omnia huiusmodi.
Finally, notice that for Aquinas this progression that existed in the Old Testament period has reached its ultimate point:
The ultimate consummation of grace was effected by Christ, wherefore the time of His coming is called the "time of fulness [Vulgate: 'fulness of time']" (Galatians 4:4). Hence those who were nearest to Christ, wherefore before, like John the Baptist, or after, like the apostles, had a fuller knowledge of the mysteries of faith; for even with regard to man's state we find that the perfection of manhood comes in youth, and that a man's state is all the more perfect, whether before or after, the nearer it is to the time of his youth.Latin text:
Ad quartum dicendum quod ultima consummatio gratiae facta est per Christum, unde et tempus eius dicitur tempus plenitudinis, ad Gal. IV. Et ideo illi qui fuerunt propinquiores Christo vel ante, sicut Ioannes Baptista, vel post, sicut apostoli, plenius mysteria fidei cognoverunt. Quia et circa statum hominis hoc videmus, quod perfectio est in iuventute, et tanto habet homo perfectiorem statum vel ante vel post, quanto est iuventuti propinquior.Citation: Thomas Aquinas, Summa Theologica, Second Part of the Second Part, Question 1, Article 7 (Response to Objection 4)