Council of Vienne
1311-1312 A.D.

part four

For document sources noted, see Abbreviations


    • [1] - the rational or intellectual soul is the form of the human body of itself and essentially

Pope Clement V's Papal Bull Licet pridem continued

In the letter of donation, union and incorporation, however, through the carelessness, neglect or engagements of the scribe or secretary, mention was omitted of the non-violation of the rights of kings, princes, prelates and other persons concerned. Lest therefore any doubt arises in the future from such an omission concerning these charges and rights, and any prejudice be generated against the said kings, princes, prelates, barons, nobles and other persons, we, who desire that everyone retains his rights unimpaired, wishing to provide a suitable remedy in the matter for the said kings, princes, prelates, barons, nobles and any other Catholics, declare that we have made the above donation, union and incorporation to the order of the Hospital of saint John of Jerusalem, and to the Hospital itself and its master and brothers, in the name of the said Hospital and order, in the way expressed above. We determine and decree of our certain knowledge that, without violation of the property of the former order of the Temple donated to the order of the Hospital, together with all its privileges, indults, immunities, liberties, rights, honours and charges, for the help of the holy Land, nevertheless whatever rights belonged to kings, princes, prelates, barons, nobles and any other Catholics, at the time of the said arrest of the master and some brothers of the Temple, remain intact, unimpaired and exactly as they would be in everything as if they had been distinctly and expressly mentioned in the said letter of donation, union and incorporation. Let nobody therefore . . .

Given at Avignon on 13 January in the eighth year.{6}


[1]. Adhering firmly to the foundation of the catholic faith, other than which, as the Apostle testifies, no one can lay, we openly profess with holy mother church that the only begotten Son of God, subsisting eternally together with the Father in everything in which God the Father exists, assumed in time in the womb of a virgin the parts of our nature united together, from which he himself true God became true man: namely the human, passible body and the intellectual or rational soul truly of itself and essentially informing the body. And that in this assumed nature the Word of God willed for the salvation of all not only to be nailed to the cross and to die on it, but also, having already breathed forth his spirit, permitted his side to be pierced by a lance, so that from the outflowing water and blood there might be formed the one, immaculate and holy virginal mother church, the bride of Christ, as from the side of the first man in his sleep Eve was fashioned as his wife, in this way, to the determinate figure of the first and old Adam, who according to the Apostle is a type of the one who was to come, the truth might correspond in our last Adam, that is to say in Christ. This, we say, is the truth, fortified by the witness of that huge eagle which the prophet Ezechiel saw flying over the other gospel animals, namely blessed John the apostle and evangelist, who relating the event and order of this sacrament, said in his gospel : But when they came to Jesus and saw that he was already dead, they did not break his legs, but one of the soldiers pierced his side with a spear, and at once there came out blood and water. He who saw it has borne witness - his testimony is true, and he knows that he tells the truth -- that you also may believe.

We, therefore, directing our apostolic attention, to which alone it belongs to define these things, to such splendid testimony and to the common opinion of the holy fathers and doctors, declare with the approval of the sacred council that the said apostle and evangelist, John, observed the right order of events in saying that when Christ was already dead one of the soldiers opened his side with a spear. Moreover, with the approval of the said council, we reject as erroneous and contrary to the truth of the catholic faith every doctrine or proposition rashly asserting that the substance of the rational or intellectual soul is not of itself and essentially the form of the human body, or casting doubt on this matter. In order that all may know the truth of the faith in its purity and all error may be excluded, we define that anyone who presumes henceforth to assert defend or hold stubbornly that the rational or intellectual soul is not the form of the human body of itself and essentially, is to be considered a heretic.

All are faithfully to profess that there is one baptism which regenerates all those baptized in Christ, just as there is one God and one faith'. We believe that when baptism is administered in water in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the holy Spirit, it is a perfect means of salvation for both adults and children. Yet because, as regards the effect of baptism in children, we find that certain theologians have held contrary opinions, some saying that by baptism guilt is indeed remitted in infants but grace is not conferred, others on the contrary asserting that both guilt is remitted and the virtues and sanctifying grace are infused with regard to habit though for the time being not with regard to use, we, considering the general efficacy of Christ's death, which through baptism is applied in like manner to all the baptised, choose, with the approval of the sacred council, the second opinion, which says that sanctifying grace and the virtues are conferred in baptism on both infants and adults, as more probable and more in harmony with the words of the saints and of modern doctors of theology.

[2]. Abbots and other religious holding any major ecclesiastical office may not, when it is a question of priories or other places subject to them, bring an action against anyone on the authority of letters of the apostolic see or its legates, except in such places and before such persons as is permitted to the priors and other persons in charge of the priories and other places. Nor is anything else of this kind permissible in the case of places belonging to the table maintenance of these abbots and other religious, except when these places have special officials in charge of them. If anyone presumes to molest someone in contravention of the above, he is to be condemned by the judge of the case to pay the expenses and for any damage. Any process contrary to this decree is null and void.

[3]. Although the chief official of a bishop, or a religious obtaining the office of conventual prior (even though that office is not customarily elective), may be delegated by the apostolic see or its legate, nevertheless we do not wish this to be observed in the cases of an official-forane or of a religious who is the claustal prior of his monastery.

[4]. Since prelates of religious orders occasionally neglect to fill vacant priories, churches, offices or other benefices pertaining to their disposition within the time prescribed by the Lateran council, the local diocesan bishops shall supply for this negligence by their own authority in the case of the non-exempt, and by apostolic authority in the case of the exempt. Those which have customarily been governed by the secular clergy shall be conferred on secular clerics, those which have usually been entrusted to or conferred on only religious shall be conferred on the religious of the monasteries whose prelates were negligent. The diocesan bishops, by the same authority, shall in no way permit the said prelates to apply such priories, churches, offices or benefices to their table maintenance, to impose new payments or to increase the old ones any new ones imposed or old ones increased shall be paid back. By the said priories, churches, offices and benefices we mean those that are not for the table maintenance of their prelates and customarily have their own priors, administrators or rectors, even though these priors and administrators can be freely recalled, if necessary, to the cloister.

In this matter we have decided to uphold the constitution of our predecessor pope Boniface VIII, which prohibits the property of vacant benefices to be appropriated by prelates or anyone else, as well as that other constitution of the same Boniface which forbids any religious to have several priories or churches with the cure of souls, even though the cure is exercised by someone other than himself and there is no danger to souls for the priories.

[5]. So that those who are obliged to divine office in cathedrals or secular collegiate churches, or will be so obliged in the future, may be more readily moved to receive sacred orders, we decree that nobody henceforth may have in such churches a voice in the chapter, even though this is freely granted to him by the others, unless he has received at least the subdiaconate. Moreover, those who now hold peacefully dignities, parsonages, offices or prebends to which certain orders are annexed, or will hold them in future, shall have no voice in the chapter unless, having no just impediment, they receive the corresponding orders within a year. They shall receive only half the payment made to those who assist at certain hours, all customs and statutes to the contrary notwithstanding. The penalties, moreover, which are decreed by law against those refusing to be promoted to orders, are to remain in force.

[6]. We wish to check, in the cases mentioned below, the expensive prolongation of lawsuits which, as experience teaches us, arises sometimes from overprecise observance of judicial order. We therefore decree that in cases concerning elections, postulations, or provisions, concerning dignities, parsonages, offices, canonries, prebends or any other church benefices, concerning tithes, even when those obliged to pay them have been admonished and can be corrected by ecclesiastical censure, and concerning matrimony or usury and anything connected with it, that a simple, easy process shall be valid without the noise and rhetoric of a court of justice. We wish this decree to apply not only to future business but also to the present, and even to cases awaiting appeal.

[7].Although it is generally forbidden by the sacred canons for a bishop to exercise jurisdiction in a diocese other than his own, we nevertheless make an exception for bishops who have been driven from their sees by the insolence of the ungodly and do not dare, from fear of their persecutors, to reside in their cities and dioceses or in any part of them, nor to exercise their jurisdiction there directly or through others. Lest the wrong done to their churches by their expulsions remains unpunished, we have considered it necessary to permit that in other dioceses, from cities or other prominent places near their churches, where they will be able to reside securely and to exercise freely their jurisdiction they may freely proceed against their expellers and their counsellors and supporters, as justice shall advise. (The cities and places must be such as are untroubled by these expellers and their counsellors and supporters. They are to be cited personally or to the bishop's house, if this can be done safely; if not, they are to be cited publicly in the cathedral church of the place or of their domicile.) If however the bishops have not dared to cite their expellers or their counsellors or supporters in this way, or if these have maliciously frustrated their being cited, it is lawful for the bishops to cite the expellers, counsellors and supporters, or to have them cited, on Sundays and festivals when the people assemble for divine worship, so that the accused may be presumed in all probability to have learned of the citation. This shall take place publicly in the churches of the cities or other prominent places, and then the bishops shall proceed against their persecutors, if they refuse to appear in the bishops' presence within a suitable fixed time, just as if the citation had been made legally elsewhere. We grant also to those bishops, lest justice suffer, authority to exercise full jurisdiction over their subjects from the other dioceses in which they have to stay, provided that they cannot or dare not do this, either directly or through someone else, in their own dioceses. The subjects, however, excluding the expellers or their counsellors and supporters, should not have to travel more than two days' journey from the boundary of their diocese. It is our will also that the bishops first seek permission from the diocesans of their places of exile; if they are not able to obtain this, they may nevertheless proceed as we have said. Of course if the said bishops have asserted that they did not dare to cite the expellers or their counsellors and supporters, personally or to the bishop's house, or publicly in their cathedral church, as has been said, or that they maliciously prevented the citation, or that the bishops cannot or dare not exercise jurisdiction in their dioceses either directly or through someone else against these persecutors, then we wish these assertions to be reliable, strictly enjoining the bishops, under threat of the divine judgment, that they do not assert or invent anything false or deceptive. The neighbouring bishops, when asked by the exiled bishops, should give notice or have notice given throughout their dioceses of the verdicts and the legal processes which the exiled bishops have judged necessary. No prejudice shall arise from the passage of time, or for any other reason, to the local ordinaries or to anyone else having jurisdiction in these places where the expelled bishops also exercise jurisdiction.

[8]. We strictly command local ordinaries to admonish by name three times clerics who publicly and personally engage in the butcher's trade or conduct taverns, that they cease to do so within a reasonable time to be fixed by the ordinary and never resume such trades. If after admonition they do not leave off or if they resume them at any time, then as long as they persist in the above ways of life those who are married shall automatically lose all clerical privileges, and those who are unmarried shall automatically lose their clerical privileges relating to things, and if the latter go about in every way as laymen they shall also lose automatically their personal privileges as clerics. As for other clerics who apply themselves publicly to secular commerce and trade or any occupation inconsistent with the clerical state, or who carry arms, the ordinaries are to be diligent in observing the canons, so that these clerics may be restrained from such miscon duct and they themselves may not be guilty of reprehensible negligence.

[9]. Since he who abandons the dress proper to his order, and puts on other clothes and wears them in public, without a good reason, renders himself unworthy of the privileges of that order, we ordain by the present constitution that any cleric wearing striped or variegated clothes in public, without a good reason, is automatically suspended, if he is beneficed, from receiving the revenues of his benefices for a period of six months. If however he does not have a benefice but is in sacred orders below the priesthood, he becomes automatically disqualified for the same period from obtaining an ecclesiastical benefice. The same penalty applies to other clerics having the tonsure yet wearing such clothes in public. He who holds a dignity, a parsonage or another benefice to which the cure of souls is annexed, as also any other priests and religious, whose outward garb should reveal their inner integrity, who without reasonable cause wear such clothing in public, or appear thus with a woollen band or linen cap on their heads, are, if beneficed, automatically suspended for a year from receiving the revenues of their benefices. Such other priests and religious are also disqualified for the same period from obtaining any ecclesiastical benefices. These and any other clerics who wear a gown or tabard which is furred to the edge and so short that the lower garment is clearly seen, if they are secular clergy or religious with administrative posts, are obliged to give the gown to the poor within a month. The other religious who do not have administrative posts are obliged within the same period to consign the gown to their superiors, to be used for some pious purpose. If this is not done, the above penalties, of suspension in the case of the beneficed clergy and of disqualification in the case of the rest, are incurred for the above period of time. To this penalty we add that clerics, especially those with benefices, may not wear in public chequered, red or green boots.

[10]. The following decretal, published a little while ago by our predecessor pope Boniface VIII, was revoked by our predecessor pope Benedict XI. Since, as results have proved, the revocation did not bring with it the peace hoped for by its author, but rather stimulated the discord which it was designed to allay, we annul it altogether and renew, with the insistence and approval of the sacred council, the said decretal published by Boniface which runs as follows.

"Boniface, bishop, servant of the servants of God, for an everlasting record.

"Having been placed by the divine clemency on the chair of pastoral preeminence, burdened though we are by the many arduous affairs which flow like a torrent from all directions into the Roman curia, summoned by many cares distracted by many proposals, we nevertheless aim ardently and devote ourselves with ever-active solicitude so that, to the glory of the divine name, the exaltation of the catholic faith and the profit of faithful souls, after the thornbushes of disagreement have been rooted out and the intricacies of quarrels removed, the tranquility of peace may thrive with the ardour of charity, and unity of heart and mind may grow and persist, between the bishops charged with the care and rule of the Lord's flock and other persons in the clerical state. We know, and experience teaches us, that only in time of peace is the author of peace duly worshipped, nor are we ignorant that dissensions and scandals prepare the way to wicked acts, stir up rancour and hatred, and give boldness to evil living. For a long time past there has existed between prelates and rectors or priests and clerics of parish churches throughout the different provinces of the world on the one hand, and the friars Preacher and Minor on the other, grave and dangerous discord, produced by that enemy of peace, the sower of cockle, in the matters of preaching to the faithful, hearing their confessions, enjoining penances, and burying the dead who choose to be buried in the churches or lands of the friars.

"As an affectionate father rightly suffers with his children, we carefully considered and turned over in our mind the great danger and loss that such discord brings, and how detestable it is in the sight of the divine majesty. We therefore intend with all the energy of fatherly care to eradicate and remove it wholly, so that with the Lord's favour it may never revive in the future. We desire greatly that this business, so close to our heart, may be beneficially and speedily completed by apostolic sagacity. After careful deliberation with our brothers, we decree and ordain, with the advice of our brothers and by our apostolic authority, to the honour of God and the exaltation of the catholic faith and for the peaceful condition of the aforesaid parties and the salvation of the souls of the faithful, that the friars of the said orders may freely preach and explain the word of God to the clergy and the people in their churches and other places as also in public places, except at that hour only when the local prelates wish to preach or have someone to give a special sermon in their presence; at this hour they shall not preach, except the prelates decide otherwise and give special permission. In institutes of general studies, where it is customary to give a special sermon to the clergy on certain days, at funerals, and on special feasts of the friars, they are at liberty to preach, unless perhaps during the hour when it is customary to preach to the clergy in the above places the bishop or a higher prelate should summon the clergy in general to his presence, or for some urgent reason should assemble them. In parish churches, however, the said friars may not preach or explain God's word, unless invited or called to do so by the priests of the parishes, and with their good will and assent, or having asked and obtained permission, unless the bishop or higher prelate should through them commission a friar to preach.

"By the same authority we also decree and ordain that in each city and diocese in which the friars have houses, or in neighbouring cities and dioceses where they have no houses, the masters and priors provincial of the Preachers or their vicars, and the ministers general and provincial and the guardians of the Minors, should gather in the presence of the prelates of those places either personally or through friars whom they judge will be suitable delegates, and humbly request that friars chosen for the purpose may freely hear the confessions of those of the prelates' subjects who wish to confess to them, may impose salutary penances as they shall think right in God's eyes, and may grant absolution to them, with the leave, favour and good will of the prelates. The masters, priors, provincials and ministers of the orders are then to choose diligently sufficient persons who are suitable, of approved life, discreet, modest and skilled for such a salutary ministry and office. These they are to present or have presented to the prelates that by their leave, favour and good will, they may hear the confessions of those wishing to confess to them in the prelates' cities and dioceses, impose salutary penances and grant absolution, as has been said above. They are by no means to hear confessions outside the cities and dioceses for which they were appointed. We want them to be appointed for cities and dioceses, not for provinces. The number of persons to be chosen for this ministry ought to be in proportion to that which the number of clergy and people demands.

"If the prelates grant the permission requested for hearing confessions, the said masters, ministers and others shall receive it with thanks, and the persons chosen should carry out the duties entrusted to them. If the prelates do not accept one of the friars presented to them, another may and should be presented in his place. But if the prelates issue a general refusal to the friars chosen, we graciously grant, from the fullness of our apostolic power, that they may freely and lawfully hear the confessions of those wishing to confess to them and impose salutary penances, and then impart absolution. By this permission, however, we by no means intend to give more ample power to such friars than is granted by law to the parish clergy, unless perhaps the prelates of the churches think that such power should be given to them.

"To this decree and regulation of ours we add that the friars of the said orders may provide free burial everywhere in their churches and cemeteries, that is they may receive for burial all who have chosen these places for their burial. Yet, lest parish churches and their clergy, whose office it is to administer the sacraments and to whom it belongs by law to preach God's word and to hear the confessions of the faithful, should be denied their due and necessary benefits, since the labourer deserves his wages, we decree and ordain by the same apostolic authority, that the friars are obliged to give the parish clergy a fourth part of all the income from funerals and from everything left to them, expressly or not, for whatever definite purpose, even from such bequests of which a fourth or canonical part is not claimed by custom or by law, and also a fourth part of bequests made at the death or at the point of death of the giver, whether directly or through a third party. We set and also limit this amount to the fourth part by our apostolic authority. The friars are to see to it that bequests are not left to others from whom this fourth part is not owed, to the advantage or interest of the friars themselves, nor go in this way as gifts to these others; and that they do not arrange for that which would be given at death or in illness to the friars, to be given to themselves while the donors are healthy. We intend to prevent anything of this kind by binding the friars' consciences, so that if, which God forbid, any deceit or fraud has been practised by the friars themselves, contrary to their obligation to the said priests, rectors and pastors, a strict account will be demanded at the last judgment. The rectors of parishes, pastors and prelates may not, however, exact more than this portion, nor are the friars obliged to pay more, nor may they be compelled by anyone to do so.

"In order that everything may go forward evenly and peacefully with the Lord's favour, we revoke, void, annul and invalidate completely all the privileges, favours and indults granted orally or in writing, in any form or expression of words, by ourself or our predecessors as Roman pontiffs to any of the said orders, and also customs, agreements and contracts, in so far as these are contrary to the above provisions or any one of them. We declare all such privileges to be null and void. Furthermore, by this present decree, we earnestly ask and exhort, indeed we strictly command, all prelates of churches, of whatever pre-eminence, status or dignity, and the parish priests, pastors and rectors, out of their reverence for God and the apostolic see, to show friendliness to these orders and their members, not being difficult, severe, hard or austere to the friars, but rather gracious, favourable and kind, showing them a spirit of holy generosity. They should accept the friars as suitable fellow-workers in the office of preaching and explaining God's word and in everything else mentioned above, admitting them with ready kindness and affection to a share in their labours, so as to increase their reward of eternal happiness and the fruitful harvest of souls. Nor let them be unaware that if perhaps they act otherwise, the kindness of the apostolic see, which honours these orders and their members with great favour and holds them in its heart, will with good reason be roused against them, nor can it tolerate with good will such behaviour without applying a suitable remedy. The indignation, moreover, of the heavenly king, the just rewarder, whom the friars serve with all earnestness, will not be lacking."

[11]. There are religious who presume to usurp by cunning fraud, or under a feigned title, tithes on newly tilled land or other tithes owing to churches, to which they have no legal claim, or who do not permit or even forbid tithes to be paid to the churches on animals belonging to their familiars and shepherds or others whose animals intermingle with their flocks, or on animals which they buy in many places and then hand over to the keeping of sellers or others, thus defrauding the churches, or on land the cultivation of which they have entrusted to others. If such religious, after claim has been made by those whom it concerns, do not desist within a month from the above practices, or if they do not make fitting satisfaction to the defrauded churches within two months, they are and remain suspended from their offices, administrative posts and benefices until they have desisted and made satisfaction, as stated above. If these religious have no administrative posts or benefices, they incur, in place of suspension, the sentence of excommunication, from which they cannot receive absolution before making due satisfaction, notwithstanding privileges to the contrary. We do not wish, however, this decree to apply where animals are held by oblates of the religious, provided that these oblates have given themselves and their possessions to the religious.

See Part Five of the Council of Vienne

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