Apostolic Constitution of Pope Paul IV, Cum ex Apostolatus Officio, 15th February 1559 (Roman Bullarium Vol. IV. Sec. I, pp. 354-357)
Cum ex Apostolatus Officio
Paul, Bishop, Servant of the Servants of God
for a perpetual remembrance of the matter
Since, by virtue of the office of the Apostolate divinely entrusted to Us despite Our inadequate merits, the general care of the Lord’s flock devolves upon Us, and We are thence bound, for the sake of her faithful protection and salutary direction, to keep careful watch like a vigilant Shepherd, and to be particularly attentive in ensuring
that there be expelled from Christ’s sheepfold those at this time who, driven on by their sins and relying on their own wisdom, rise up more shrewdly and perniciously than usual against the discipline of the orthodox Faith, and who, by perverting their understanding of the Sacred Scriptures with superstitious and fictitious inventions, strive to tear apart the unity of the Catholic Church and the seamless tunic of the Lord,
and that those who scorn to be disciples of Truth discontinue their magisterium of Error,
in consideration of the fact that a matter of this kind is of so grave and perilous nature that the Roman Pontiff (who is the vicegerent of God and of Our Lord Jesus Christ upon earth, and who holds the plenitude of power over nations and kingdoms, and who judges all, and may be judged by none in this world) may yet be confuted if he be discovered to be deviating from the Faith,
and that where the danger is the more intense, there more fully and diligently must it be addressed, lest false prophets or also others having secular jurisdiction should wretchedly ensnare the souls of the simple and drag into perdition and the ruin of damnation with themselves countless peoples committed to their care and government in matters spiritual or temporal, and lest at any time it befall Us to see the abomination of the desolation, which was spoken of by the Prophet Daniel, in the Holy Place,
and in Our desire (insofar as we are able with God’s help, and for the sake of Our pastoral duty) to seize the foxes busying themselves with demolishing the Lord’s vineyard, and to keep the wolves at bay from the sheepfolds, lest We should seem like dumb dogs incapable of barking, and perish with the wicked farmers, and be likened to the hireling,
2. after mature deliberation upon these matters with Our venerable brothers, the Cardinals of the Holy Roman Church, upon their advice and with their unanimous assent,
do approve and renew by Apostolic authority each and every sentence of excommunication, suspension, interdict and privation, and any other sentences, censures and penalties against heretics or schismatics, passed and promulgated in any manner by any of Our predecessors the Roman Pontiffs (or by those considered their representatives), even in their litterae extravagantes, or by the sacred Councils received by the Church of God, or by the decrees and statutes of the Holy Fathers, or by the sacred Canons and Constitutions and Apostolic Ordinances;
and We desire and decree that the same be observed in perpetuity, and that they be restored to vigorous observance if perchance they be not so already;
and, furthermore, that all incur the aforementioned sentences, censures, and penalties, no matter who they may be,
who prior to this date were caught, or confessed to, or were convicted of, deviating from the Catholic Faith, falling into some heresy, or incurring, inciting or committing schism,
or who shall in the future (which may God in His mercy and goodness to all deign to avert) so deviate, fall into heresy, or incur, incite or commit schism, and shall be found, or shall confess to, or shall be convicted of, having deviated, having fallen, or having incurred, incited or committed schism, of whatever status, degree, class, condition and pre-eminence they may be, even if they enjoy the lustre of Episcopal, Archiepiscopal, Patriarchal, Primatial or other greater Ecclesiastical dignity, or the honour of the Cardinalate, and the office (be it permanent or temporary) of Legate of the Apostolic See in any territory, or even the worldly authority or excellence of Count, Baron, Marquis, Duke, King or Emperor.
3. And as We no less consider it appropriate that those who fail to refrain from evil through love of virtue should be deterred therefrom through fear of penalties,
and in view of the fact that Bishops, Archbishops, Patriarchs, Primates, Cardinals, Legates, Counts, Barons, Marquises, Dukes, Kings and Emperors (who ought to teach others and be a good example to them, so that they be kept in the Catholic Faith), sin more gravely than the rest by violating their duty, since they not only damn themselves but also drag with them into perdition and into the pit of death countless other people entrusted to their care and government (or otherwise subject to them) through their counsel and assent on similar matters,
by this Our Constitution which is to remain valid in perpetuity, in Our hatred of so great a crime (than which none in the Church of God can be greater or more pernicious), and by the fullness of our Apostolic power,
We enact, determine, decree and define
that – since the aforementioned sentences, censures and penalties remain in full force and efficacy and achieve their effect – all and sundry Bishops, Archbishops, Patriarchs, Primates, Cardinals, Legates, Counts, Barons, Marquises, Dukes, Kings and Emperors,
who prior to this date, as previously stated, were found, confessed to, or convicted of deviating, falling into heresy, or incurring, inciting or committing schism,
and who shall in future so deviate, fall into heresy, or incur, incite or commit schism, and shall be discovered, confess to, or be convicted of having deviated, having fallen into heresy, or having incurred, incited or committed schism,
shall also by that very fact, in addition to the aforementioned sentences, censures and penalties (seeing as how they are rendered more inexcusable than the rest in this matter), be deprived thoroughly, entirely and permanently, without any involvement of law or lawsuit, of their Orders, and of their Cathedral Churches (even Metropolitan, Patriarchal and Primatial ones), and of the honour of the Cardinalate and the office of Legation of any kind; and likewise, of all active and passive voting rights and all authority; and of Monasteries, benefices, and Ecclesiastical offices (be they with or without the care of souls, be they secular or religious of any Order), which they may have acquired by concessions of any kind, by Apostolic dispensations to title, income and administration, or in any other kind of manner, and in which or to which they have any legal right; as well as of any proceeds, returns and annual revenues reserved and assigned to them over and above related proceeds, returns and revenues; and also of their Countships, Baronies, Marquisates, Dukedoms, Kingdoms and Imperial Power;
and henceforth that they shall be considered unfit and ineligible for those offices, as backsliders, men entirely and thoroughly subverted, exactly as though they had previously denied heresy of this kind on oath in a public trial;
and that they shall never at any time be restored, reinstated, reappointed, or rehabilitated to their former status, or to their Cathedral, Metropolitan, Patriarchal and Primatial Churches, or to their Cardinalates, or to any other honour, or to any other dignity (be it greater or lesser), or to any right to vote (be it active or passive), or to any authority, or to Monasteries and benefices, or to Countships, Baronies, Marquisates, Dukedoms, Kingdoms and Imperial power;
but rather that they shall be abandoned to the judgement of the secular power to be punished with a fitting chastisement, unless there appear in them evidence of true contrition and the fruits of a condign repentance, and unless, by the benignity and clemency of this See itself, they shall be sequestered to some Monastery or other Regular institution to perform perpetual penance in the bread of affliction and the water of sorrow;
and that they shall be considered, treated and reputed as such by all men, of whatever status, degree, class, condition and pre-eminence they may be, and by whatever excellence they may be empowered, be it even by Episcopal, Archiepiscopal, Patriarchal and Primatial dignity, or by any other greater Ecclesiastical dignity, and by even the honour of the Cardinalate, or by the secular authority of Count, Baron, Marquis, Duke, King or Emperor;
and, as such, that they must be avoided and stripped of all human consolation.
4. And in order that those offices be not exposed to the inconveniences arising from a long vacancy, but, having been rescued from their enslavement to heretics, be granted to suitable persons who may faithfully direct their people in the paths of justice, let those who claim to hold the right of patronage or of nominating suitable persons to Cathedral as well as to Metropolitan, Patriarchal and Primatial Churches, or to Monasteries, or to other Ecclesiastical benefices falling vacant through a confiscation of this kind, be obliged, either by the concordats or the compacts they have entered into with said See, to present Us (or the currently existing Roman Pontiff) with other suitable persons for such Churches, Monasteries and benefices of this kind within the time determined by law. Otherwise, after a period of this kind has elapsed, full and free disposal of said Churches, Monasteries and benefices is to devolve automatically and by full right upon Us (and the aforesaid Roman Pontiff).
5. Furthermore, those who should knowingly presume in any way to receive or defend those so apprehended, confessed or convicted, or to favour them, believe them, or peddle their doctrines are ipso facto to incur sentence of excommunication, and are to be rendered infamous, and shall not be admitted, and may not be admitted (whether orally, in person, in writing, by nuncio or by some other proxy), to public or private offices or deliberations, or to a Synod, or to a Council be it general or provincial, or to a Conclave of Cardinals, or to any other congregation of the faithful, or to the election of anyone, or to present testimony;
they shall also be held incapable of making a will, nor may they accede to the chain of inheritance; furthermore, no one shall be compelled to respond to them concerning any business.
But if perchance they be Judges, their verdicts shall have no force, nor shall any lawsuits be brought to their hearing; and if they be Advocates, their pleading shall by no means be accepted; and if on the other hand they be Notaries, the documents drafted by them shall be entirely without force or weight.
And furthermore, such clerics shall be divested of every single Church, including Cathedral, Metropolitan, Patriarchal and Primatial ones, likewise of their dignities, Monasteries, benefices and Ecclesiastical offices, even those of the type mentioned above, no matter how obtained by them;
and they themselves, as well as laity of the kind previously mentioned and endowed with said dignities, are automatically to be divested of any Kingdoms, Duchies, Domains, Fiefs and temporal goods possessed by them;
and Kingdoms, Duchies, Domains, Fiefs and goods of this kind are to be confiscated, made public property, and come under the legal right and ownership of those who shall have taken control over them at the first, provided that these be in sincerity of faith, in the unity of the Holy Roman Church, and under obedience to Us and Our successors, the canonically acceding Roman Pontiffs.
6. In addition, if ever at any time it should appear that any Bishop (even one acting as an Archbishop, Patriarch or Primate), or any Cardinal of said Roman Church, even a Legate as previously stated, or even a Roman Pontiff prior to his promotion or elevation as Cardinal or Roman Pontiff, has deviated from the Catholic Faith or fallen into some heresy, then
his promotion or elevation, even if it be uncontested and carried out by the unanimous assent of all the Cardinals, shall be null, invalid, and void;
nor may it be said to have acquired validity, or to be acquiring validity, through his reception of office and of consecration, or through his subsequent tenure of government and administration, or through his putative enthronement as the Roman Pontiff himself, or through the homage paid him, or through the obedience accorded him by all, or through any lapse of time in the foregoing situation;
nor may it be held as legitimate in any part thereof;
nor may it be deemed to have conferred, or to be conferring, any faculty of administration in matters spiritual or temporal on such persons promoted as Bishops, Archbishops, Patriarchs or Primates, or elevated as Cardinals or the Roman Pontiff;
rather, each and every one of their statements, deeds, enactments and administrative acts, howsoever made, as well as anything that ensues therefrom, shall be devoid of force, and shall confer absolutely no legal privilege or right on anyone; and those thus promoted and elevated shall automatically and without need of a further declaration be deprived of any dignity, position, honour, title, authority, office and power.
7. And it shall be lawful for any and all persons who would have been subject to those thus promoted and elevated, had these not first deviated, become heretics, incurred, incited or committed schism – that is, for clerics, both secular and regular, as well as members of the laity; likewise for Cardinals, even those who took part in the election of the very Pontiff that had previously deviated from the Faith or become a heretic or schismatic, or who otherwise acquiesced in his election, vouchsafed obedience to him, and paid him homage; and for Castellans, Prefects, Captains, and Officials, even those of our Beloved City and of the entire Ecclesiastical State (even if they were indebted and beholden to those thus promoted or elevated by their homage, oath or bond) –
to withdraw at any time with impunity from obedience and fealty to those thus promoted or elevated;
and to shun them as sorcerers, heathens, publicans, and heresiarchs (although the same subject persons nevertheless remain bound to practise fidelity and obedience towards future Bishops, Archbishops, Patriarchs, Primates, Cardinals, and the canonically acceding Roman Pontiff);
and – for the greater confounding of those thus promoted or elevated, should they attempt to continue their government and administration – to implore the aid of the secular arm against those so promoted and elevated.
Nor for this reason shall those who withhold their fidelity and obedience in the foregoing circumstances to those thus promoted and elevated be liable to reprisal through any kind of censure or punishment, as though they were renderers of the Lord’s tunic.
8. Notwithstanding any Constitutions and Apostolic Ordinances, or privileges, indults, and Apostolic Letters granted to these same Bishops, Archbishops, Patriarchs, Primates, and Cardinals, or any others; no matter what their import and form, no matter with what legal articles and rulings they were granted, including those issued motu proprio, those issued ex certa scientia, and those issuing from the plenitude of Apostolic power, or even those issued in consistory or any other manner; even if they were approved and renewed many times over, or were included in the corpus of Canon Law, or were reinforced by the chapters of a Conclave, even by an oath, or by Apostolic confirmation, or by any other endorsement, and including those sworn by Ourselves.
From all of these – taking their meaning in this letter of Ours exactly as expressed and inserted word for word, and even though they would otherwise remain in force as at this time – We do specifically and expressly derogate, as well as from anything else to the contrary.
9. Now in order that this letter be brought to the notice of all whom it concerns, We wish that it or a transcription of it (whereto We decree that full trust must be accorded when undersigned by the hand of a public notary and confirmed by the seal of any person constituted in ecclesiastical dignity) be published and affixed in the Basilica of the Prince of the Apostles of this City and on the doors of the Apostolic Chancery and in the Acies Campi Florae by some of our couriers; and that the copy affixed therein be distributed; and that such a publication, affixation, and distribution of the affixed copy suffice and be held as solemn and legitimate; and that no other publication be required or awaited.
10. No one at all, therefore, shall be permitted to infringe this document of Our approbation, restoration, sanction, statute, derogation, wishes, and decrees, or with temerarious daring to go against it. However, if any should presume to attempt this, let him know that he will incur the wrath of Almighty God and of the blessed Apostles Peter and Paul.
Given in Rome at Saint Peter’s, in the Year of Our Lord’s Incarnation 1559, on 15 February, in the Fourth Year of Our Pontificate.
+ I, Paul, Bishop of the Catholic Church
[Translated from Latin by Timothy Johnson, a teacher of Latin, who studied classical languages at Cambridge University]
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