Second Council of Lyons - 1274 A.D.
part three

For document sources noted, see Abbreviations

CONSTITUTIONS II

18. On Local Ordinaries on dispensations

18. Local ordinaries must strictly compel their subjects to produce the dispensations by which they hold canonically, as they assert, several dignities or churches to which is annexed the cure of souls, or a parsonage or dignity together with another benefice to which a similar cure is annexed. These dispensations are to be shown within a time proportionate to the situation as judged by the ordinaries themselves. If without just reason no dispensation has been shown within that time, the churches, benefices, parsonages or dignities which it is now obvious are held unlawfully without dispensation, are to be conferred freely on suitable persons by those who have the right. If on the other hand the dispensation shown seems clearly sufficient, the holder is not to be troubled in any way in the possession of these benefices canonically obtained. The ordinary is however to make provision that neither the care of souls in those churches, parsonages or dignities is neglected nor the benefices themselves are defrauded of the services owing to them. If there is doubt whether the dispensation is sufficient, recourse should be had to the apostolic see, to which judgment belongs concerning its benefices. Ordinaries, moreover, in bestowing parsonages, dignities and other benefices involving the cure of souls, are to take care not to confer one on someone already holding several similar benefices, unless an obviously sufficient dispensation is shown for those already held. Even then, we wish the ordinary to confer the benefice only if it appears from the dispensation that the beneficiary may lawfully retain this parsonage, dignity or benefice together with those he already holds, or if he is prepared freely to resign those he already holds. If not, the bestowing of such parsonages, dignities and benefices is to be of no consequence whatever. '

18. Local Ordinaries on dispensations

18. Local ordinaries must strictly compel their subjects to produce the dispensations by which they hold canonically, as they assert, several dignities or churches to which is annexed the cure of souls, or a parsonage or dignity together with another benefice to which a similar cure is annexed. These dispensations are to be shown within a time proportionate to the situation as judged by the ordinaries themselves. If without just reason no dispensation has been shown within that time, the churches, benefices, parsonages or dignities which it is now obvious are held unlawfully without dispensation, are to be conferred freely on suitable persons by those who have the right. If on the other hand the dispensation shown seems clearly sufficient, the holder is not to be troubled in any way in the possession of these benefices canonically obtained. The ordinary is however to make provision that neither the care of souls in those churches, parsonages or dignities is neglected nor the benefices themselves are defrauded of the services owing to them. If there is doubt whether the dispensation is sufficient, recourse should be had to the apostolic see, to which judgment belongs concerning its benefices. Ordinaries, moreover, in bestowing parsonages, dignities and other benefices involving the cure of souls, are to take care not to confer one on someone already holding several similar benefices, unless an obviously sufficient dispensation is shown for those already held. Even then, we wish the ordinary to confer the benefice only if it appears from the dispensation that the beneficiary may lawfully retain this parsonage, dignity or benefice together with those he already holds, or if he is prepared freely to resign those he already holds. If not, the bestowing of such parsonages, dignities and benefices is to be of no consequence whatever. '

19. On pleading

19 {24} It seems that we must counteract promptly the crafty dragging-out of lawsuits. We hope to do this effectively by giving suitable remedial directives to those who offer their services in legal matters. Since the things that have been beneficially provided by legal sanction concerning advocates seem to have fallen into disuse, we renew the same sanction by the present constitution, with some addition and modification. We decree that each and every advocate in the ecclesiastical forum, whether before the apostolic see or elsewhere, is to swear on the holy gospels that in all ecclesiastical causes and others in the same forum, of which they have assumed or will assume the defence, they will do their utmost for their clients in what they judge to be true and just. They are also to swear that at whatever part of the process they find out that the cause which they had accepted in good faith is unjust, they will cease to defend it; they will rather abandon it altogether, having nothing further to do with it, and will inviolably observe the rest of the above sanction. Proctors also are to be bound by a similar oath. Both advocates and proctors are obliged to renew this oath every year in the forum in which they have assumed office. Those who come before the apostolic see or to the court of some ecclesiastical judge, in which they have not yet taken such an oath, in order to act as advocate or proctor in some individual case, are to take a like oath, in each case, at the beginning of the litigation. Advocates and proctors who refuse to swear in the above way are forbidden to practise while their refusal persists. If they deliberately violate their oath, counsellors who have knowingly encouraged an unjust cause incur, in addition to the guilt of perjury, the divine and our malediction, from which they cannot be absolved unless they restore double the amount they accepted for such evil work as advocate, proctor or counsel. They are moreover obliged to make restitution for the loss caused to the parties wronged by their unjust ministry. Furthermore, lest insatiate greed drive some into contempt for these sound decrees, we strictly forbid an advocate to accept more than twenty tournois pounds for any case, a proctor more than twelve, as salary or even on the pretext of a reward for winning. Those who accept more are not in any way to acquire ownership of the excess, but are obliged to restitution; none of this penalty of restitution can be remitted in evasion of the present constitution. In addition, advocates who thus violate the present constitution are to be suspended from their office for three years. Proctors, on the other hand, shall be denied permission to exercise their office in a court of law.

20. On what is done by force or because of fear

20. {25} We annul by authority of this constitution any absolution from sentence of excommunication or any recall of it, or of suspension or even of interdict, which has been extorted by force or fear. Lest boldness increase when violence goes unpunished, we decree that those who have extorted such an absolution or withdrawal by force or fear lie under sentence of excommunication.

21. On prebends and dignities

21. {26} We have decreed that the statute of Pope Clement IV, our predecessor of happy memory, that dignities and benefices which become vacant in the Roman curia are to be conferred by nobody other than the Roman pontiff, is to be modified as follows. Those who have the conferring of these benefices and dignities may confer them validly, notwithstanding the said statute, but not till a month after the day on which the dignities and benefices have become vacant, and then only by themselves personally or, if they are at a distance, through their vicar-generals in their dioceses, to whom this charge has been canonically entrusted . 5

22. On not alienating the property of the church

22. {27} By this well-considered decree we forbid each and every prelate to submit, subject or subordinate the churches entrusted to him, their immovable property or rights, to lay people without the consent of his chapter and the special leave of the apostolic see. It is not a question of granting the property or rights in emphyteusis or otherwise alienating them in the form and in the cases permitted by the law. What is forbidden is the establishment or recognition of these laity as superiors from whom the property and rights are held, or making them the protectors, an arrangement which is called in the vernacular of certain places "to avow", that is, the laity are appointed patrons or advocates of the churches or their property, either perpetually or for a long period. We decree that all such contracts of alienation, even when fortified by oath, penalty or any other confirmation, which are made without the above leave and consent, and any consequences of these contracts, are entirely null; no right is conferred, no cause for prescription is provided. We decree moreover that prelates who disobey are automatically suspended for three years from office and administration, and clerics who know that the prohibition has been violated but fail to give notice of it to the superior, are automatically suspended for three years from receiving the fruits of benefices they hold in the church so oppressed. The laity indeed, who have hitherto forced prelates, chapters of churches or other ecclesiastical persons to make these submissions, are to be bound by sentence of excommunication, unless after suitable admonition, having given up the submission they exacted through force or fear, they set free the churches and return the property thus surrendered to them. Those also who in future shall compel prelates or other ecclesiastical persons to make such submissions are also to be excommunicated, whatever be their condition or status. Even when contracts have been or will be made with the due leave and consent, or on the occasion of such contracts, the laity are not to transgress the limits set by the nature of the contract itself or the law on which the contract is based. Those indeed who act otherwise, unless after lawful admonition they desist from such usurpation restoring also what they have usurped, incur automatic excommunication, and henceforward the way is open, if need be, to lay their land under ecclesiastical interdict.

23. On religious houses, that they are to be subject to the bishop

23 {28} A general council by a considered prohibition averted the excessive diversity of religious orders, lest it might lead to confusion. Afterwards, however, not only has the troublesome desire of petitioners extorted their multiplication, but also the presumptuous rashness of some has produced an almost unlimited crowd of diverse orders, especially mendicant, which have not yet merited the beginnings of approval. We therefore renew the constitution, and severely prohibit that anyone found henceforth a new order or form of religious life, or assume its habit. We perpetually forbid absolutely all the forms of religious life and the mendicant orders founded after the said council which have not merited confirmation of the apostolic see, and we suppress them in so far as they have spread. As to those orders, however, confirmed by the apostolic see and instituted after the council, whose profession, rule or constitutions forbid them to have revenues or possessions for their fitting support but whose insecure mendicancy usually provides a living through public begging, we decree that they may survive on the following terms. The professed members of these orders may continue in them if they are willing not to admit henceforth anyone to profession, nor to acquire a new house or land, nor to have power to alienate the houses or land they have, without special leave of the apostolic see. We reserve these possessions for the disposal of the apostolic see, to be used for aid to the holy Land or for the poor or to be turned to other pious uses through local ordinaries or others commissioned by the apostolic see. If the above conditions are violated, neither the reception of persons nor the acquisition of houses or land nor the alienation of these or other property is valid, and in addition excommunication is incurred. We also forbid absolutely to members of these orders, in regard to externs, the office of preaching and hearing confessions and the right of burial. Of course we do not allow the present constitution to apply to the orders of Preachers and Minors; their approval bears witness to their evident advantage to the universal church. Furthermore, we grant that the order of Carmelites and that of the Hermits of Saint Augustine, the institution of which preceded the said general council {29} , may remain as they are, until other regulations are made for them. We intend in fact to provide both for them and for the other orders, even the non-mendicants, as we shall see to be for the good of souls and for the good state of the orders. We grant also a general permission to members of orders to which this present constitution applies, to pass to the other approved orders on this condition: no order is to transfer itself wholly to another, no community is to transfer itself and its possessions wholly to another, without special permission from the apostolic see. '

24. On taxes and procurations

24 {30} The boldness of wicked people demands that we should not be satisfied with merely forbidding offences, but should inflict punishment on the offenders. The constitution of Pope Innocent IV, our predecessor of happy memory, forbade procurations to be received in the form of money, or the acceptance of gifts by pastoral visitors and their attendants. It is said that many rashly transgress this constitution. We wish it to be inviolably observed and have decreed that it should be strengthened by adding a penalty. We decree that one and all who presume, because of the procuration owing to them by reason of a visitation, to exact money or even to accept money from someone willing; or to violate the constitution in another way by accepting gifts or, without making the visitation, accepting procurations in food or anything else; are obliged to give back double of what they have received to the church from which they received it, and this within a month. If they do not, from that time patriarchs, archbishops and bishops who put off restoration of the double payment beyond the said period, are to know that entry into the church is forbidden them; and lower clergy are to know that they are suspended from office and benefice until they have made full satisfaction of this double to the burdened churches; the remission, liberality or kindness of the givers is to avail nothing.

25. On the immunity of churches

25 {31} Holiness befits the house of the Lord; it is fitting that he whose abode has been established in peace should be worshipped in peace and with due reverence. Churches, then, should be entered humbly and devoutly; behaviour inside should be calm, pleasing to God, bringing peace to the beholders, a source not only of instruction but of mental refreshment. Those who assemble in church should extol with an act of special reverence that name with is above every name, than which no other under heaven has been given to people, in which believers must be saved, the name, that is, of Jesus Christ, who will save his people from their sins. Each should fulfil in himself that which is written for all that at the name of Jesus every knee should bow; whenever that glorious name is recalled, especially during the sacred mysteries of the mass, everyone should bow the knees of his heart, which he can do even by a bow of his head. In churches the sacred solemnities should possess the whole heart and mind; the whole attention should be given to prayer. Here where it is proper to offer heavenly desires with peace and calm, let nobody arouse rebellion, provoke clamour or be guilty of violence. The consultations of universities and of any associations whatever must cease to be held in churches, so also must public speeches and parliaments. Idle and, even more, foul and profane talk must stop; chatter in all its forms must cease. Everything, in short, that may disturb divine worship or offend the eyes of the divine majesty should be absolutely foreign to churches, lest where pardon should be asked for our sins, occasion is given for sin, or sin is found to be committed. No more business is to be conducted in churches or their cemeteries, especially they are not to have the bustle of markets and public squares. All noise of secular courts must be stilled. The laity are not to hold their trials in churches, more especially criminal cases. The church is not to be a place for lay judicial inquiries. Local ordinaries should see that all this is observed, persuade where persuasion is needed, suppress by their authority what is forbidden by this canon. They should also depute for this purpose persons in the churches who are most assiduous and suitable for the above aims. Moreover, the proceedings of secular judges, and in particular the sentences passed in these sacred places, are to lack all validity. Those indeed who impudently defy the above prohibitions, in addition to the sanctions imposed by ordinaries and their deputies, will have to fear the sternness of the divine retribution and our own until, having confessed their guilt, they have firmly resolved to avoid such conduct for the future.

26. On usury

26. {32} Wishing to close up the abyss of usury, which devours souls and swallows up property, we order under threat of the divine malediction that the constitution of the Lateran council against usurers be inviolably observed. Since the less convenient it is for usurers to lend, the more their freedom to practise usury is curtailed, we ordain by this general constitution as follows. Neither a college, nor other community, nor an individual person, of whatever dignity, condition or status, may permit those foreigners and others not originating from their territories {33} , who practise usury or wish to do so, to rent houses for that purpose or to occupy rented houses or to live elsewhere. Rather, they must expel all such notorious usurers from their territories within three months, never to admit any such for the future. Nobody is to let houses to them for usury, nor grant them houses under any other title {34} . Those indeed who act otherwise, if they are ecclesiastical persons, patriarchs, archbishops or bishops, are to know that they incur automatic suspension; lesser individual persons, excommunication, colleges or other communities, interdict. If they remain obdurate throughout a month, their territories shall lie henceforth under ecclesiastical interdict as long as the usurers remain there. Furthermore, if they are layfolk, they are to be restrained from such transgression through their ordinaries by ecclesiastical censure, all privileges ceasing {35}

27 {36} Although notorious usurers give orders in their wills that restitution be made for their usurious gains, either in express terms or in general, ecclesiastical burial is nevertheless to be refused until full restitution has been made as far as the usurer's means allow, or until a pledge has been given of fitting restitution. This pledge is to be given to those to whom restitution is due, if they themselves or others who can receive for them are present. If they are absent, the pledge is to be given to the local ordinary or his vicar or the rector of the parish where the testator lives, in the presence of trustworthy persons from the parish (the ordinary, vicar and rector, as just mentioned, shall have permission to receive such pledge in their name by authority of the present constitution, so that these ecclesiastics have the right to action). The pledge may also be given to a public servant commissioned by the ordinary. If the sum owing from usury is openly known, we wish this sum always to be expressed in the pledge, if the amount is not clearly known, the sum is to be determined by the receiver of the pledge {37} . The receiver must make his estimate at not less than the probable amount; if he does otherwise, he is obliged to restitution for anything still owing. We decree that all religious and others who presume to grant ecclesiastical {38} burial to notorious usurers, contrary to this decree, are subject to the penalty promulgated against usurers at the Lateran council . Nobody is to assist at the wills of notorious usurers or hear their confessions or absolve them, unless they have made restitution for their usury or have given a fitting guarantee, as far as they can, as described above. The wills made in any other way by notorious usurers have no validity, but are by law null and void. {39}

28. On wrongs and the loss caused

28. {40} The distraints which in the vernacular are called "reprisals", by which some people are burdened in place of others, have been forbidden by the civil constitution as oppressive and contrary to the laws and natural equity. In order, however, that offenders may have greater fear of breaking the law where ecclesiastical persons are concerned, in accordance with the more particular prohibition of reprisals against them, we severely forbid the granting of reprisals against ecclesiastical persons or their goods. By this present decree we also forbid the extension of such reprisals, perhaps granted universally on pretext of some custom which we would prefer to call an abuse, to these persons. Those who act otherwise, by granting distraints or reprisals against such persons or extending the grant to include them, unless they revoke such presumption within a month, incur sentence of excommunication, if they are individuals; they are to be laid under ecclesiastical interdict, if they are a community.

29. On the sentence of excommunication

29. {41} The constitution of Pope Innocent IV, our predecessor of happy memory, forbids that those who communicate with excommunicated persons in matters carrying only a minor excommunication should be bound, without first receiving canonical admonition, by a major excommunication; the sentence of excommunication thus promulgated does not bind. In order to remove any scruple of ambiguity, we declare that the admonition is canonical only if, after all other formalities have been duly observed, it names the persons admonished. We decree also that in the course of the admonitions required for the sentence to be promulgated canonically, the judges, whether they give three admonitions or one for all three, should observe fitting intervals of some days, unless the urgency of the situation counsels otherwise.

{42} 30. By the present general decree we declare that the benefit of provisional absolution does not in any way apply to cities, villages or any other places against which a general interdict has been promulgated.

31. {43} Whoever, from the fact that a sentence of excommunication, suspension or interdict has been promulgated against kings, princes, barons, nobles, bailiffs or their agents or anyone else, gives leave to someone to kill, capture or molest, in their persons or goods or in those of their relatives, those who have published such sentences, or on whose account the sentences were published, or who observe such sentences or refuse to communicate with those so excommunicated, unless they revoke in time such permission, automatically fall under sentence of excommunication. If property has been seized on the occasion of such permission, the same sentence is incurred unless the goods are returned within eight days or satisfaction is made for the loss. All who have dared to make use of the permission, or commit on their own initiative any of the above crimes for which we have forbidden permission to be given, are bound by the same sentence. Those who remain under this sentence of excommunication for two months cannot henceforth obtain absolution except through the apostolic see.


    ENDNOTES
  • {24} const. 9 in BN
  • {25} const. 17 in BN
  • {26} const. 27 in BN
  • {27} const. 26 in BN
  • {28} const. 28 in BN
  • {29} the institution ... council] which claim to have been founded before the said council W
  • {30} const. 11 in BN
  • {31} const. 23 in BN
  • {32} const. 24 in BN
  • {33} foreigners ... territories omitted in W
  • {34} Nobody ... title omitted in W
  • {35} In addition, sentence of excommunication is incurred by all who let houses to notorious usurers for usury or who allow houses to be granted under any other title W
  • {36} const. 25 in BN
  • {37} receiver ... pledge] ordinary himself W
  • {38} confession or absolution or communion or added in W
  • {39} Nobody ... void omitted in W
  • {40} const. 19 in BN
  • {41} const. 12 in BN
  • {42} const. 13 in BN
  • {43} const. 20 in BN

Translation taken from Decrees of the Ecumenical Councils, ed. Norman P. Tanner

To return to the beginning of the Second Council of Lyons, see FIRST PART OF THE SECOND COUNCIL OF LYONS

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