Twelfth Ecumenical Council: Lateran IV 1215

Original Medieval Sourcebook Text


Text: We firmly believe and openly confess that there is only one true God, eternal and immense, omnipotent, unchangeable, incomprehensible, and ineffable, Father, Son, and Holy Ghost; three Persons indeed but one essense, substance, or nature absolutely simple; the Father (proceeding) from no one, but the Son from the Father only, and the Holy Ghost equally from both, always without beginning and end. The Father begetting, the Son begotten, and the Holy Ghost proceeding; consubstantial and coequal, co-omnipotent and coeternal, the one principle of the universe, Creator of all things invisible and visible, spiritual and corporeal, who from the beginning of time and by His omnipotent power made from nothing creatures both spiritual and corporeal, angelic, namely, and mundane, and then human, as it were, common, composed of spirit and body. The devil and the other demons were indeed created by God good by nature but they became bad through themselves; man, however, sinned at the suggestion of the devil. This Holy Trinity in its common essense undivided and in personal properties divided, through Moses, the holy prophets, and other servants gave to the human race at the most opportune intervals of time the doctrine of salvation.

And finally, Jesus Christ, the only begotten Son of God made flesh by the entire Trinity, conceived with the co-operation of the Holy Ghost of Mary ever Virgin, made true man, composed of a rational soul and human flesh, one Person in two natures, pointed out more clearly the way of life. Who according to His divinity is immortal and impassable, according to His humanity was made passable and mortal, suffered on the cross for the salvation of the human race, and being dead descended into hell, rose from the dead, and ascended into heaven. But He descended in soul, arose in flesh, and ascended equally in both; He will come at the end of the world to judge the living and the dead and will render to the reprobate and to the elect according to their works. Who all shall rise with their own bodies which they now have that they may receive according to their merits, whether good or bad, the latter eternal punishment with the devil, the former eternal glory with Christ.

There is one Universal Church of the faithful, outside of which there is absolutely no salvation. In which there is the same priest and sacrifice, Jesus Christ, whose body and blood are truly contained in the sacrament of the altar under the forms of bread and wine; the bread being changed (transsubstantiatio) by divine power into the body, and the wine into the blood, so that to realize the mystery of unity we may receive of Him what He has received of us. And this sacrament no one can effect except the priest who has been duly ordained in accordance with the keys of the Church, which Jesus Christ Himself gave to the Apostles and their successors.

But the sacrament of baptism, which by the invocation of each Person of the Trinity, namely of the Father, Son, and Holy Ghost, is effected in water, duly conferred on children and adults in the form prescribed by the Church by anyone whatsoever, leads to salvation. And should anyone after the reception of baptism have fallen into sin, by true repentance he can always be restored. Not only virgins and those practicing chastity, but also those united in marriage, through the right faith and through works pleasing to God, can merit eternal salvation.


Text. We excommunicate and anathematize every heresy that raises against the holy, orthodox and Catholic faith which we have above explained; condemning all heretics under whatever names they may be known, for while they have different faces they are nevertheless bound to each other by their tails, since in all of them vanity is a common element. Those condemned, being handed over to the secular rulers of their bailiffs, let them be abandoned, to be punished with due justice, clerics being first degraded from their orders. As to the property of the condemned, if they are laymen, let it be confiscated; if clerics, let it be applied to the churches from which they received revenues. But those who are only suspected, due consideration being given to the nature of the suspicion and the character of the person, unless they prove their innocence by a proper defense, let them be anathematized and avoided by all 1-intil they have made suitable satisfaction; but if they have been under excommunication for one year, then let them be condemned as heretics. Secular authorities, whatever office they may hold, shall be admonished and induced and if necessary compelled by ecclesiastical censure, that as they wish to be esteemed and numbered among the faithful, so for the defense of the faith they ought publicly to take an oath that they will strive in good faith and to the best of their ability to exterminate in the territories subject to their jurisdiction all heretics pointed out by the Church; so that whenever anyone shall have assumed authority, whether spiritual or temporal, let him be bound to confirm this decree by oath. But if a temporal ruler, after having been requested and admonished by the Church, should neglect to cleanse his territory of this heretical foulness, let him be excommunicated by the metropolitan and the other bishops of the province. If he refuses to make satisfaction within a year, let the matter be made known to the supreme pontiff, that he may declare the ruler's vassals absolved from their allegiance and may offer the territory to be ruled lay Catholics, who on the extermination of the heretics may possess it without hindrance and preserve it in the purity of faith; the right, however, of the chief ruler is to be respected as long as he offers no obstacle in this matter and permits freedom of action. The same law is to be observed in regard to those who have no chief rulers (that is, are independent). Catholics who have girded themselves with the cross for the extermination of the heretics, shall enjoy the indulgences and privileges granted to those who go in defense of the Holy Land.

We decree that those who give credence to the teachings of the heretics, as well as those who receive, defend, and patronize them, are excommunicated; and we firmly declare that after any one of them has been branded with excommunication, if he has deliberately failed to make satisfaction within a year, let him incur ipso jure the stigma of infamy and let him not be admitted to public offices or deliberations, and let him not take part in the election of others to such offices or use his right to give testimony in a court of law. Let him also be intestable, that he may not have the free exercise of making a will, and let him be deprived of the right of inheritance. Let no one be urged to give an account to him in any matter, but let him be urged to give an account to others. If perchance he be a judge, let his decisions have no force, nor let any cause be brought to his attention. If he be an advocate, let his assistance by no means be sought. If a notary, let the instruments drawn up by him be considered worthless, for, the author being condemned, let them enjoy a similar fate. In all similar cases we command that the same be observed. If, however, he be a cleric, let him be deposed from every office and benefice, that the greater the fault the graver may be the punishment inflicted.

If any refuse to avoid such after they have been ostracized by the Church, let them be excommunicated till they have made suitable satisfaction. Clerics shall not give the sacraments of the Church to such pestilential people, nor shall they presume to give them Christian burial, or to receive their alms or offerings; otherwise they shall be deprived of their office, to which they may not be restored without a special indult of the Apostolic See. Similarly, all regulars, on whom also this punishment may be imposed, let their privileges be nullified in that diocese in which they have presumed to perpetrate such excesses.

But since some, under "the appearance of godliness, but denying the power thereof," as the Apostle says (II Tim. 3: 5), arrogate to themselves the authority to preach, as the same Apostle says: "How shall they preach unless they be sent?" (Rom. 10:15), all those prohibited or not sent, who, without the authority of the Apostolic See or of the Catholic bishop of the locality, shall presume to usurp the office of preaching either publicly or privately, shall be excommunicated and unless they amend, and the sooner the better, they shall be visited with a further suitable penalty. We add, moreover, that every archbishop or bishop should himself or through his archdeacon or some other suitable persons, twice or at least once a year make the rounds of his diocese in which report has it that heretics dwell, and there compel three or more men of good character or, if it should be deemed advisable, the entire neighborhood, to swear that if anyone know of the presence there of heretics or others holding secret assemblies, or differing from the common way of the faithful in faith and morals, they will make them known to the bishop. The latter shall then call together before him those accused, who, if they do not purge themselves of the matter of which they are accused, or if after the rejection of their error they lapse into their former wickedness, shall be canonically punished. But if any of them by damnable obstinacy should disapprove of the oath and should perchance be unwilling to swear, from this very fact let them be regarded as heretics.

We wish, therefore, and in virtue of obedience strictly command, that to carry out these instructions effectively the bishops exercise throughout their dioceses a scrupulous vigilance if they wish to escape canonical punishment. If from sufficient evidence it is apparent that a bishop is negligent or remiss in cleansing his diocese of the ferment of heretical wickedness, let him be deposed from the episcopal office and let another, who will and can confound heretical depravity, be substituted.




Summary. Those baptized by the Latins must not be rebaptized by the Greeks.

Text. Though we wish to favor and honor the Greeks who in our days are returning to the obedience of the Apostolic See by permitting them to retain their customs and rites in so far as the interests of God allow us, in those things, however, that are a danger to souls and derogatory to ecclesiastical propriety, we neither wish nor ought to submit to them. After the Church of the Greeks with some of her accomplices and supporters had severed herself from the obedience of the Apostolic See, to such an extent did the Greeks begin hating the Latins that among other things which they impiously committed derogatory to the Latins was this, that when Latin priests had celebrated upon their altars, they would not offer the sacrifice upon those altars till the altars had first been washed, as if by this they had been defiled. Also, those baptized by the Latins the Greeks rashly presume to rebaptize, and even till now, as we understand, there are some who do not hesitate to do this. Desirous, therefore, of removing such scandal from the Church of God, and advised by the holy council, we strictly command that they do not presume to do such things in the future, but conform themselves as obedient children to the Holy Roman Church, their mother, that there may be "one fold and one shepherd." If anyone shall presume to act contrary to this, let him be excommunicated and deposed from every office and ecclesiastical benefice.




Summary. The council approves the existing order of the patriarchal sees and affirm, three of their privileges: their bishops may confer the pallium and may have the cross borne before them, and appeals may be taken to them.

Text. Renewing the ancient privileges of the patriarchal sees, we decree with the approval of the holy and ecumenical council, that after the Roman Church, which by the will of God holds over all others pre-eminence of ordinary power as the mother and mistress of all the faithful, that of Constantinople shall hold first place, that of Alexandria second, that of Antioch third, and that of Jerusalem fourth, the dignity proper to each to be observed; so that after their bishops have received from the Roman pontiff the pallium, which is the distinguishing mark of the plenitude of the pontifical office, and have taken the oath of fidelity and obedience to him, they may also lawfully bestow the pallium upon their suffragans, receiving from them the canonical profession of faith for themselves, and for the Roman Church the pledge of obedience. They may have the standard of the cross borne before them everywhere, except in the city of Rome and wherever the supreme pontiff or his legate wearing the insignia of Apostolic dignity is present. In all provinces subject to their jurisdiction appeals may be taken to them when necessary, saving the appeals directed to the Apostolic See, which must be humbly respected.




SUMMARY Provincial synod, for the correction of abuses and the enforcement of canonical enactments must be held annually. To ensure this, reliable persons are to be appointed who will investigate such thin as need correction.

Text. In accordance with the ancient provisions of the holy Fathers, the metropolitans must not neglect to hold with their suffragans the annual provincial synods. In these they should be actuated with a genuine fear of God in correcting abuses and reforming morals, especially the morals of the clergy, familiarizing themselves anew with the canonical rules, particularly those that are enacted in this general council, that they may enforce their observance by imposing due punishment on transgressors. That this may be done more effectively, let them appoint in each and every diocese prudent and upright persons, who throughout the entire year shall informally and without any jurisdiction diligently investigate such things as need correction or reform and faithfully present them to the metropolitan, suffragans, and others in the following synod, so that they may give prudent consideration to these and other matters as circumstances demand; and in reference to those things that they decree, let them enforce observance, publishing the decisions in the episcopal synods to be held annually in each diocese. Whoever shall neglect to comply with this salutary statute, let him be suspended from his office and benefits till it shall please his superior to restore him.




Summary No custom or appeal shall hinder prelates from correcting abuses and reforming the morals of their subjects. If the chapter neglects to correct the excesses of the canons, it shall devolve upon the bishop to do so. Prelates shall not use this statute as means of pecuniary gain.

Text. By an irrefragable decree we ordain that prelates make a prudent and earnest effort to correct the excesses and reform the morals of their subjects, especially of the clergy, lest their blood be demanded at their hands. But that they may perform unhindered the duty of correction and reform, we decree that no custom or apeal shall stand in the way of their efforts, unless they shall have exceeded the form to be observed in such cases. The abuses, however, of the canons of the cathedral church, the correction of which has by custom belonged to the chapter, shall, in those churches in which such a custom has hitherto prevailed, by the advice or command of the bishop be corrected within a reasonable time specified by the bishop. Otherwise the bishop, having in mind the interests of God, opposition notwithstanding, shall not delay to correct them means of ecclesiastical censure according as the cura animarum demands. Nor shall he neglect to correct the excesses also of the other clerics (those assisting the canons) according as the cura animarum requires, due order, however, being observed in all things. If the canons without a manifest and reasonable cause, chiefly through contempt for the bishop, discontinue divine services, the bishop may, if he wishes, celebrate in the cathedral church, and on his complaint the metropolitan, as delegated by us in this matter, shall so punish them with ecclesiastical censure that for fear of a repetition of the punishment they will not presume to do such things in the future. Let the prelates of the churches, therefore, be diligently on their guard that they do not convert this salutary decree into a means of personal profit or other objectionable conduct, but let them enforce it earnestly and faithfully if they wish to escape canonical punishment, for in this matter the Apostolic See, on the authority of the Lord, will be most vigilant.


SUMMARY: Bishops who are unable to preach the word of God to the people are to provide suitable men to do it for them. They must see to it that the needs of the clergy so appointed are supplied, otherwise their work will prove a failure.

Text: Among other things that pertain to the salvation of the Christian people, the food of the word of God is above all necessary, because as the body is nourished by material food, so is the soul nourished by spiritual food, since "not in bread alone doth man live but in every word that proceedeth from the mouth of God" (Matt. 4: 4). It often happens that bishops, on account of their manifold duties or bodily infirmities, or because of hostile invasions or other reasons, to say nothing of lack of learning, which must be absolutely condemned in them and is not to be tolerated in the future, are themselves unable to minister the word of God to the people, especially in large and widespread dioceses. Wherefore we decree that bishops provide suitable men, powerful in work and word, to exercise with fruitful result the office of preaching; who in place of the bishops, since these cannot do it, diligently visiting the people committed to them, may instruct them by word and example. And when they are in need, let them be supplied with the necessities, lest for want of these they may be compelled to abandon their work at the very beginning. Wherefore we command that in cathedral churches as well as in conventual churches suitable men be appointed whom the bishops may use as coadjutors and assistants, not only in the office of preaching but also in hearing confessions, imposing penances, and in other matters that pertain to the salvation of souls. If anyone neglect to comply with this, he shall be subject to severe punishment.


SUMMARY In every cathedral church and other churches also that have sufficient means, a master is to be appointed to instruct gratis the clerics and poor students. The metropolitan church ought to have a theologian who shall teach the clergy whatever pertains to the cura animarum (i.e. care of souls).

Text. Since there are some who, on account of the lack of necessary means, are unable to acquire an education or to meet opportunities for perfecting themselves, the Third Lateran Council in a salutary decree provided that in every cathedral church a suitable benefice be assigned to a master who shall instruct gratis the clerics of that church and other poor students, by means of which benefice the material needs of the master might be relieved and to the students a way opened to knowledge. But, since in many churches this is not observed, we, confirming the aforesaid decree, add that, not only in every cathedral church but also in other churches where means are sufficient, a competent master be appointed by the prelate with his chapter, or elected by the greater and more discerning part of the chapter, who shall instruct gratis and to the best of his ability the clerics of those and other churches in the art of grammar and in other branches of knowledge. In addition to a master, let the metropolitan church have also a theologian, who shall instruct the priests and others in the Sacred Scriptures and in those things especially that pertain to the cura animarum. To each master let there be assigned by the chapter the revenue of one benefice, and to the theologian let as much be given by the metropolitan; not that they thereby become canons, but they shall enjoy the revenue only so long as they hold the office of instructor. If the metropolitan church cannot support two masters, then it shall provide for the theologian in the aforesaid manner, but for the one teaching grammar, let it see to it that a sufficiency is provided by another church of its city or diocese.


SUMMARY: Provincial chapters of regulars are to be held every three years. All not canonically impeded must-attend. The chapters to be under the guidance of two Cistercians, and careful attention is to be given to the reform of the order and to regular observance. Visitation of monasteries and nunneries. Ordinaries must strive to ref'orm monasteries and ward off molestation of them by lay officials.

Text: In every ecclesiastical province there shall be held every three years, saving the right of the diocesan ordinaries, a general chapter of abbots and of priors having no abbots, who have not been accustomed to celebrate such chapters. This shall be held in a monastery best adapted to this purpose and shall be attended by all who are not canonically impeded, with this restriction, however, that no one bring with him more than six horses and eight persons. In inaugurating this new arrangement, let two neighboring abbots of the Cistercian order be invited to give them counsel and opportune assistance, since among them the celebration of such chapters is of long standing. These two Cistercians shall without hindrance choose from those present two whom they consider the most competent, and these four shall preside over the entire chapter, so that no one of these four may assume the authority of leadership; should it become expedient, they may be changed by prudent deliberation. Such a chapter shall be celebrated for several consecutive days according the custom of the Cistercian order. During its deliberations careful attention is to be given to the reform of the order and to regular observance, and what has been enacted with the approval of the four shall be observed inviolably by all, excuses, contradictions, and appeals to the contrary notwithstanding. In each of these chapters the place for the holding of the following one is to be determined. All those in attendance, even if f or want of room many must occupy other houses, must live the vita communis and bear proportionately all common expenses. In the same chapter religious and prudent persons should be appointed who, in our name, shall visit every abbey in the province, not only of monks but also of nuns, according to a form prescribed for them, correcting and reforming those things that need correction and reform; so that, if they should know that the rector of a locality ought to be removed from office, let them make it known to his bishop, that he may procure his removal; but if he should neglect to do it, then the appointed visitors shall refer the matter to the attention of the Apostolic See. We wish and command that canons regular observe this according to their order. But if in this new arrangement a difficulty should arise which cannot be disposed of by the aforesaid persons, let it be referred without scandal to the judgment of the Apostolic See; in the meantime let the other things that have been accomplished by amicable deliberation be in. violably observed. Moreover, the diocesan ordinaries must strive so to reform the monasteries subject to them, that when the aforesaid visitors come to them they will find in them more that is worthy of commendation than of correction, taking special care lest the monasteries be oppressed by them with undue burdens. For, while we wish that the rights of the superiors be respected, we do not on that account wish that injury be sustained by inferiors. We strictly command diocesan bishops and persons attending the chapters, that with ecclesiastical censure-every appeal being denied-they restrain advocates, patrons, vicegerents, rulers, consuls, nobles, and soldiers, and all others, from molesting the monasteries either in persons or properties and if perchance these persons should so molest, let the aforesaid bishops and chapter members not neglect to compel these latter to make satisfaction, that the monasteries may serve Almighty God more freely and peacefully.


SUMMARY: The founding of new religious orders is forbidden. New monasteries must accept a rule already approved. A monk may not reside in different monasteries nor may one abbot preside over several monasteries.

Text. Lest too great a diversity of religious orders lead to grave confusion in the Church of God, we strictly forbid anyone in the future to found a new order, but whoever should wish to enter an order, let him choose one already approved. Similarly, he who would wish to found a new monastery, must accept a rule already proved. We forbid also anyone to presume to be a monk in different monasteries (that is, belong to different monasteries), or that one abbot preside over several monasteries.


Summary: Clerics, especially those in sacred orders, shall live chastely and virtuously. Anyone suspended for incontinency who presumes to celebrate the divine mysteries shall be forever deposed.

Text: That the morals and general conduct of clerics may be better let all strive to live chastely and virtuously, particularly those in sacred orders, guarding against every vice of desire, especially that on account of which the anger of God came from heaven upon the children of unbelief, so that in the sight of Almighty God they may perform their duties with a pure heart and chaste body. But lest the facility to obtain pardon be an incentive to do wrong, we decree that whoever shall be found to indulge in the vice of incontinence, shall, in proportion to the gravity of his sin, be punished in accordance with the canonical statutes, which we command to be strictly and rigorously observed, so that he whom divine fear does not restrain from evil, may at least be withheld from sin by a temporal penalty. If therefore anyone suspended for this reason shall presume to celebrate the divine mysteries, let him not only be deprived of his ecclesiastical benefices but for this twofold offense let him be forever deposed. Prelates who dare support such in their iniquities, especially in view of money or other temporal advantages, shall be subject to a like punishment. But if those. who according to the practice of their country have not renounced the conjugal bond, fall by the vice of impurity, they are to be punished more severely, since they can use matrimony lawfully.


SUMMARY Clerics, who after being warned do not abstain from drunkenness, shall be suspended from their office and benefice.

Text. All clerics shall carefully abstain from drunkenness. Wherefore, let them accommodate the wine to themselves, and themselves to the wine. Nor shall anyone be encouraged to drink, for drunkenness banishes reason and incites to lust. We decree, therefore, that that abuse be absolutely abolished by which in some localities the drinkers bind themselves suo modo to an equal portion of drink and he in their judgment is the hero of the day who out drinks the others. Should anyone be culpable in this matter, unless he heeds the warning of the superior and makes suitable satisfaction, let him be suspended from his benefice or office.

We forbid hunting and fowling to all clerics; wherefore, let them not presume to keep dogs and birds for these purposes.


SUMMARY Clerics are not to engage in secular pursuits, attend unbecoming exhibitions, visit taverns, or play games of chance. Their clothing must be in keeping with their dignity.

Text. Clerics shall not hold secular offices or engage in secular and, above all, dishonest pursuits. They shall not attend the performances of mimics and buffoons, or theatrical representations. They shall not visit taverns except in case of necessity, namely, when on a journey. They are forbidden to play games of chance or be present at them. They must have a becoming crown and tonsure and apply themselves diligently to the study of the divine offices and other useful subjects. Their garments must be worn clasped at the top and neither too short nor too long. They are not to use red or green garments or curiously sewed together gloves, or beak-shaped shoes or gilded bridles, saddles, pectoral ornaments (for horses), spurs, or anything else indicative of superfluity. At the divine office in the church they are not to wear cappas with long sleeves, and priests and dignitaries may not wear them elsewhere except in case of danger when circumstances should require a change of outer garments. Buckles may under no condition be worn, nor sashes having ornaments of gold or silver, nor rings, unless it be in keeping with the dignity of their office. All bishops must use in public and in the church outer garments made of linen, except those who are monks, in which case they must wear the habit of their order; in public they must not appear with open mantles, but these must be clasped either on the back of the neck or on the bosom.


SUMMARY. Prelates and clerics are commanded in virtue of obedience to celebrate diligently and devoutly the diurnal and nocturnal offices.

Text: It is a matter for regret that there are some minor clerics and even prelates who spend half of the night in banqueting and in unlawful gossip, not to mention other abuses, and in giving the remainder to sleep. They are scarcely awakened by the diurnal concerts of the birds. Then they hasten through matins in a hurried and careless manner. There are others who say mass scarcely four times a year and, what is worse, do not even attend mass, and when they are present they are engaged outside in conversation with lay people to escape the silence of the choir; so that, while they readily lend their ears to unbecoming talk, they regard with utter indifference things that are divine. These and all similar things, therefore, ,we absolutely forbid under penalty of suspension, and strictly command in virtue of obedience that they celebrate diligently and devoutly the diurnal and nocturnal offices so far as God gives them strength.


SUMMARY Clerics may neither pronounce nor execute a sentence of death. Nor may they act as judges in extreme criminal cases, or take pa in matters connected with judicial tests and ordeals.

Text. No cleric may pronounce a sentence of death, or execute such a sentence, or be present at its execution. If anyone in consequence of this prohibition (hujusmodi occasions statuti) should presume to inflict damage on churches or injury on ecclesiastical persons, let him be restrained by ecclesiastical censure. Nor may any cleric write or dictate letters destined for the execution of such a sentence. Wherefore, in the chanceries of the princes let this matter be committed to laymen and not to clerics. Neither may a cleric act as judge in the case of the Rotarrii, archers, or other men of this kind devoted to the shedding of blood. No subdeacon, deacon, or priest shall practice that part of surgery involving burning and cutting. Neither shall anyone in judicial tests or ordeals by hot or cold water or hot iron bestow any blessing; the earlier prohibitions in regard to dueling remain in force.


SUMMARY: Household goods must not be stored in churches unless there be an urgent necessity. Churches, church vessels, and the like must be kept clean.

Text: We do not wish to leave uncorrected the practice of certain clerics who convert the churches into storehouses for their own household goods and also for those of others,"' so that the churches have the appearance of the houses of lay people rather than of the house of God, not considering that the Lord does not permit the carrying of a vessel through the temple. There are also others who not only neglect to keep the churches clean but also leave the vessels, vestments, palls, and corporals so unclean that sometimes they are a source of aversion. Wherefore, since the zeal of the house of God hath eaten us up (John 2: I 7), we strictly forbid that household goods be placed in the churches, unless by reason of hostile invasion, sudden fire, or other urgent reasons it should become necessary to store them there. When, however, the necessity no longer exists, let them be returned to their proper place. We command also that the aforesaid churches, vessels, corporals, and vestments be kept clean and bright. For it is absurd to tolerate in sacred things a filthiness that is unbecoming even in profane things.


SUMMARY: In all churches the Eucharist and the chrism must be kept under lock and .key. Those who neglect to do this, are to be suspended.

Text: We decree that in all churches the chrism and the Eucharist be kept in properly protected places provided with locks and keys, that they may not be reached by rash and indiscreet persons and used for impious and blasphemous purposes. But if he to whom such guardianship pertains should leave them unprotected, let him be suspended from office for a period of three months. And if through his negligence an execrable deed should result, let him be punished more severely.


SUMMARY Everyone who has attained the age of reason is bound to confess his sins at least once a year to his own parish pastor with his permission to another, and to receive the Eucharist at least at Easter. A priest who reveals a sin confided to him in confession is to be deposed and relegated to a monastery for the remainder of his life.

Text. All the faithful of both sexes shall after they have reached the age of discretion faithfully confess all their sins at least once a year to their own (parish) priest and perform to the best of their ability the penance imposed, receiving reverently at least at Easter the sacrament of the Eucharist, unless perchance at the advice of their own priest they may for a good reason abstain for a time from its reception; otherwise they shall be cut off from the Church (excommunicated) during life and deprived of Christian burial in death. Wherefore, let this salutary decree be published frequently in the churches, that no one may find in the plea of ignorance a shadow of excuse. But if anyone for a good reason should wish to confess his sins to another priest, let him first seek and obtain permission from his own (parish) priest, since otherwise he (the other priest) cannot loose or bind him.

Let the priest be discreet and cautious that he may pour wine and oil into the wounds of the one injured after the manner of a skilful physician, carefully inquiring into the circumstances of the sinner and the sin, from the nature of which he may understand what kind of advice to give and what remedy to apply, making use of different experiments to heal the sick one. But let him exercise the greatest precaution that he does not in any degree by word, sign, or any other manner make known the sinner, but should he need more prudent counsel, let him seek it cautiously without any mention of the person. He who dares to reveal a sin confided to him in the tribunal of penance, we decree that he be not only deposed from the sacerdotal office but also relegated to a monastery of strict observance to do penance for the remainder of his life.


SUMMARY. Physicians of the body called to the bedside of the sick shall before all advise them to call for the physician of souls, so that, spiritual health being restored, bodily health will follow.

Text: Since bodily infirmity is sometimes caused by sin, the Lord saying to the sick man whom he had healed: "Go and sin no more, lest some worse thing happen to thee" (John 5: I4), we declare in the present decree and strictly command that when physicians of the body are called to the bedside of the sick, before all else they admonish them to call for the physician of souls, so that after spiritual health has been restored to them, the application of bodily medicine may be of greater benefit, for the cause being removed the effect will pass away. We publish this decree for the reason that some, when they are sick and are advised by the physician in the course of the sickness to attend to the salvation of their soul, give up all hope and yield more easily to the danger of death. If any .physician shall transgress this decree after it has been published by bishops, let him be cut off (arceatur) from the Church till he has made suitable satisfaction for his transgression. And since the soul id far more precious than the body, we forbid under penalty of anathema that a physician advise a patient to have recourse to sinful means for the recovery of bodily health.


SUMMARY Incompetent persons must not be promoted to the priesthood or given the direction of souls.

Text. Since the direction of souls is the art of arts, we strictly command that bishops, either themselves or through other qualified men, diligently prepare and instruct those to be elevated to the priesthood in the divine offices and in the proper administration of the sacraments of the Church. If in the future they presume to ordain ignorant and unformed men (a defect that can easily be discovered), we decree that both those ordaining and those ordained be subject to severe punishment. In the ordination of priests especially, it is better to have a few good ministers than many who are no good, for if the blind lead the blind both will fall into the pit (Matt. 15:14).


Summary. Illegitimate sons of canons may not be appointed heir fathers serve. Such appointments are invalid.

Text. To destroy that worst of corruptions that grown up in many churches, we strictly forbid that the sons of canons, especially the illegitimate ones be made canons in the same secular churches in which their fathers have been appointed. Such appointments, we decree are invalid; those who presume to make them, let them be suspended from their benefices



Summary. The rector of a church, notwithstanding the custom of bishops and patrons must have a sufficient portion of the revenues of the church. He who has a parochial church must serve it-himself. If another be annexed to it, a vicar must be the latter, who shall enjoy a portio congruens of its revenues.

Text. In some localities a vice has grown up, namely, that patrons of parochial churches and some other persons (including bishops), arrogate to themselves the revenues of those churches, leaving to the priests attached to them such a meager portion as to deprive them of a decent subsistence. For we have learned from a source, the authority of which is unquestionable that in some places the parochial clergy receive for sustenance only a quarta quartae, that is one sixteenth of the tithes. Whence it is that in these localities there seldom is found a parochial priest who possesses more than a very limited knowledge of letters. Since therefore the mouth of the ox that threshes should not be muzzled, and he who serves the altar should live by the altar, we decree that no custom on the part patron, or anybody else shall stand in the way of priests receiving a portio sufficiens.

He who has a parochial church must serve it himself and not entrust its administration to a vicar, unless perchance there be a parochial church annexed to the prebend or dignity, in which case we grant that he who has such a prebend or dignity, since it behooves him to serve in the major church, may ask to have appointed for the parochial church a suitable and irremovable vicar, who, as was said before, shall enjoy a portio congruens of the revenues of that church; otherwise by the authority of this decree let him be deprived of it and let it be conferred on another who will and can fulfil the aforesaid requirements. We also absolutely forbid that anyone presume to confer fraudulently on another a pension as a benefice from the revenues of a church that ought to have its own priest (proprius saceraos).


Summary. Prelates are not to take from their subjects more than is due to them. Those who act contrary to this must make restitution and also give an equal amount to the poor.

9The hospitality or procuration extended to the bishop and his assistants in the course of his canonical (fiocesan visitation.

Text. Since very many prelates, that they may provide papal legates and others with procurations and the like, extort from their subjects more than they hand over to them (to the legates), and, chasing after gain to their own damnation, seek among their subjects plunder rather than help, we forbid that this be done in the future. If anyone perchance should presume to act contrary to this decision, he shall not only restore what he has thus extorted, but he shall also be compelled to give an equal amount to the poor. If the superior with whom a complaint in regard to this matter has been lodged, proves negligent in the execution of this decree, let him be subject to canonical punishment.


SUMMARY No cleric may so extend his jurisdiction as to become detrimental to secular justice.

Text. As desirous as we are that laymen do not usurp the rights of clerics, we are no less desirous that clerics abstain from arrogating to themselves the rights of laymen. Wherefore we forbid all clerics so to extend in the future their jurisdiction under the pretext of ecclesiastical liberty as to prove detrimental to secular justice; but let them be content with the laws and customs thus far approved, that the things that are Caesar's may be rendered to Caesar, and those that are God's may by a just division be rendered to God.


Summary. Clerics under no obligation to laymen in matters temporal are not bound to take an oath of fidelity to them.

Text. Some laymen (that is, princes) attempt to usurp too much of the divine right when they compel ecclesiastical persons who are under no obligation to them in matters temporal, to take an oath of fidelity to them. Wherefore, since according to the Apostle, "To the Lord the servant standeth or falleth" (Rom. 14: 4), we forbid by the authority of the sacred council that such clerics be forced by secular persons to take an oath of this kind.


Summary. Alienation of ecclesiastical properties by laymen without the legitimate consent of ecclesiastical authority is forbidden.

Text. Since no power to dispose of ecclesiastical properties has been given to laymen, even though they be pious, their duty being to obey, not to command, we regret that in some of them charity has grown so cold that they do not fear in their laws or rather monstrosities (confictionibus) to attack the immunity of ecclesiastical property, which not only the holy fathers but also the secular princes have fortified with many privileges; presuming illicitly that power not only in the matter of the alienation of fiefs and other ecclesiastical possessions and of the usurpation of jurisdictions, but also in the matter of mortuaries and other things that seem annexed to the spiritual right. Wishing, therefore, in this matter to secure the churches against loss and to provide against such injustice, we decree with the approval of the sacred council that laws of this kind and appropriations of fiefs and other ecclesiastical properties made without the legitimate consent of ecclesiastical persons under pretext of lay power, do not hold, since they cannot be called laws but rather want of law or destruction and usurpation of jurisdiction, and those having recourse to such presumptions are to be checked ecclesiastical censure.


Summary. Patrons and others who exceed their rights in the matter of church government are to be restrained by censures. If they kill or mutilate a cleric, they shall lose their rights and to the fourth generation their posterity shall be excluded from clerical state.

Text. In some provinces patrons, vicegerents, and advocates of churches have so far advanced in insolence that not only do they create difficulties and mischief when vacant churches are to be provided with competent pastors, but they also presume to administer the possessions and other ecclesiastical goods at their own will; and what is worse, they do not fear to put the prelates to death. Since, therefore, what has been ordained as a means of defense must not br perverted into an instrument of destruction, we expressly forbid patrons, advocates, and vicegerents in the future to extend their jurisdiction in the aforesaid matter beyond what is permitted them by law. and should they act contrary to this, let them be restrained by canonical penalties. With the approval of the holy council we decree that if patrons, advocates, feudal tenants, vicegerents, or other beneficiaries should presume either per se or per alios to kill or mutilate the rector of some church or another cleric of that church, the patrons shall lose absolutely their right of patronage, the advocates their office of counselor, the feudal tenants their fief, the vicegerents their vicegerency, and beneficiaries their benefice. That the punishments may not be impressed upon the memory less deeply than the excesses, not only shall their heirs be deprived of all favors accruing to them from the aforesaid offices, but to the fourth generation the posterity of such shall be absolutely excluded from the clerical state, nor may they hold the office of prelate it, religious houses, unless by an act of mercy they have received a dispensation.


Summary. The prohibitions against marriage in the second and third degrees of affinity and against the union of the offspring from second marriages to a relative of the first usband, are removed. This prohibition does not apply beyond the fourth degree of consanguinity and affinity.

Text. It must not be deemed reprehensible if human statutes change sometimes with the change of time, especially when urgent necessity or common interest demands it, since God himself has changed in the New Testament some things that He had decreed in the Old. Since, therefore, the prohibition against the contracting of marriage in secundo et tertio genere affinitatis and that against the union of the offspring from second marriages to a relative of the first husband, frequently constitute a source of difficulty and sometimes are a cause of danger to souls, that by a cessation of the proibition the effect may cease also, we, with the approval of the holy council, revoking previous enactments in this matter, decree in the resent statute that such persons may in the future contract marriage without hindrance. The prohibition also is not in the future to affect marriages beyond the fourth degree of consanguinity and affinity; since in degrees beyond the fourth a prohibition of this kind cannot be generally observed without grave inconvenience. This quaternary number agrees well with the prohibition of corporal wedlock of which the Apostle says that "the wife hath not power of her own body, but the husband; and in like manner the husband also hath not power of his own body, but the wife" (I Cor. 7: 4); because there are four humors in the body, which consists of four elements. Since therefore the prohibition of conjugal union is restricted to the fourth degree, we wish that it remain so in perpetuum, notwithstanding the decrees already issued relative to this matter either by others or by ourselves, and should anyone presume to contract marriage contrary to this prohibition, no number of years shall excuse him, since duration of time does not palliate the gravity of sin but rather aggravates it, and his crimes are the graver the longer he holds his unhappy soul in bondage .[ cf. I Lat, canon 5].


Summary. Clandestine marriages and witness to them by a priest are forbidden. Marriages to be contracted must be published in the churches by the priests so that, if legitimate impediments exist, they may be made known. If doubt exists, let the contemplated marriage be forbidden till the matter is cleared up.

Text. Since the prohibition of the conjugal union in the three last degrees has been revoked, we wish that it be strictly observed in the other degrees. Whence, following in the footsteps of our predecessors, we absolutely forbid clandestine marriages; and we forbid also that a priest presume to witness such. Wherefore, extending to other localities generally the particular custom that prevails in some, we decree that when marriages are to be contracted they must be announced publicly in the churches by the priests during a suitable and fixed time, so that if legitimate impediments exist, they may be made known. Let the priests nevertheless investigate whether any impediments exist. But when there is ground for doubt concerning the contemplated union, let the marriage be expressly forbidden until it is evident from reliable sources what ought to be done in regard to it. But if anyone should presume to contract a clandestine or forbidden marriage of this kind within a prohibited degree, even through ignorance, the children from such a union shall be considered illegitimate, nor shall the ignorance of the parents be pleaded as an extenuating circumstance in their behalf, since they by contracting such marriages appear not as wanting in knowledge but rather as affecting ignorance. In like manner the children shall be considered illegitimate if both parents, knowing that a legitimate impediment exists, presume to contract such a marriage in conspectu ecclesiae (not clandestinely) in disregard of every prohibition. The parochial priest who deliberately neglects to forbid such unions, or any regular priest who presumes to witness them, let them be suspended from office for a period of three years and, if the nature of their offense demands it, let them be punished more severely. On those also who presume to contract such marriages in a lawful degree, a condign punishment is to be imposed. If anyone maliciously presents an impediment for the purpose of frustrating a legitimate marriage, let him not escape ecclesiastical punishment.


Summary. Relics are not to be sold or put on exhibition, lest the people be deceived in regard to them. Seekers of alms are not to be admitted unless they can exhibit letters of the Apostolic See or of the bishops, and they may not preach anything not contained in the letters. On the occasion of the dedication of a-church, an indulgence of not more than one year may be granted; on the anniversary of the dedication-, it may not exceed forty days.

Text. From the fact that some expose for sale and exhibit promiscuously the relics of saints, great injury is sustained by the Christian religion. That this may not occur hereafter, we ordain in the present decree that in the future old relics may not be exhibited outside of a vessel or exposed for sale. And let no one presume to venerate publicly new ones unless they have been approved by the Roman pontiff. In the future prelates shall not permit those who come to their churches causa venerationis to be deceived by worthless fabrications or false documents as has been done in many places for the sake of gain. We forbid also that seekers (quaestores) of alms, some of whom, misrepresenting themselves, preach certain abuses, be admitted, unless they exhibit genuine letters either of the Apostolic See or of the diocesan bishop, in which case they may not preach anything to the people but what is contained in those letters. We give herewith a form which the Apostolic See commonly uses in granting such letters, that the diocesan bishops may model their own upon it. The following is the form:

Forma litterarum praedicatorum

Quoniam, ut ait Apostolus, omnes stabimus ante tribunal Christi, recepturi prout in corpore gessimus, sive bonum sive malum fuerit, oportet nos diem messionis extremae misericordiae operibus praevenire, ac aeternorum intuitu seminare in terris quod reddente Domino cum multiplicato fructu colligere debeamus in caelis; firmain spem, fiduciamque tenentes, quoniam "qui parce seminat, parce et metet, et qui seminat in benedictionibus, de benedictionibus et metet in vitam aeternam." Cum igitur ad sustentationem fratrum et egenorum ad tale confluentium hospitals propriae non suppetant facultates, universitatem vestram monemus et exhortamur in Domino atque in remissionem vobis in' jungimus peccatorum, quatenus de bonis a Deo vobis collatis pias eleemosynas et grata eis caritatis subsidia erogatis, ut per subventionem vestram ipsorum inopiae consulatur, et vos per haec et per alia bona, quae Domino inspirante feceritis, ad aeterna possitis gaudia pervenire.

Those who are assigned to collect alms must be upright and discreet, must not seek lodging for the night in taverns or in other unbecoming places, nor make useless and extravagant expenses, and must avoid absolutely the wearing of the habit of a false religious.

Since, through indiscreet and superfluous indulgences which some prelates of churches do not hesitate to grant, contempt is brought on the keys of the Church, and the penitential discipline is weakened, we decree that on the occasion of the dedication of a church an indulgence of not more than one year be granted, whether it be dedicated by one bishop only or by many, and on the anniversary of the dedication the remission granted for penances enjoined is not to exceed forty days. We command also that in each case this number of days be made the rule in issuing letters of indulgences which are granted from time to time, since the Roman pontiff who possesses the plenitude of power customarily observes this rule in such matters .


Summary. The sacraments must be administered freely. The bishops should exhort the people to retain pious customs.

Text. It has frequently come to the ears of the Apostolic See that some clerics demand and extort money for burials, nuptial blessings, and similar things, and, if perchance their cupidity is not given satisfaction, they fraudulently interpose fictitious impediments. On the other hand, some laymen, under the pretext of piety but really on heretical grounds, strive to suppress a laudable custom introduced by the pious devotion of the faithful in behalf of the church (that is, of giving freely something for ecclesiastical services rendered). Wherefore, we forbid that such evil exactions be made in these matters, and on the other hand command that pious customs be observed, decreeing that the sacraments of the Church be administered freely and that those who endeavor maliciously to change a laudable custom be restrained by the bishops of the locality when once the truth is known.


Summary. Jews should be compelled to make satisfaction for the tithes and offerings e churches, which the Christians supplied before their properties fell into of the Jews.

Text. The more the Christians are restrained from the practice of usury, the more are they oppressed in this matter by the treachery of the Jews, so that in a short time they exhaust the resources of the Christians. Wishing, therefore, in this matter to protect the Christians against cruel oppression by the Jews, we ordain in this decree that if in the future under any pretext Jews extort from Christians oppressive and immoderate interest, the partnership of the Christians shall be denied them till they have made suitable satisfaction for their excesses. The Christians also, every appeal being set aside, shall, if necessary, be compelled by ecclesiastical censure to abstain from all commercial intercourse with them. We command the princes not to be hostile to the Christians on this account, but rather to strive to hinder the Jews from practicing such excesses. Lastly, we decree that the Jews be compelled by the same punishment (avoidance of commercial intercourse) to make satisfaction for the tithes and offerings due to the churches, which the Christians were accustomed to supply from their houses and other possessions before these properties, under whatever title, fell into the hands of the Jews, that thus the churches may be safeguarded against loss.


Summary. Jews and Saracens of both sexes in every Christian province must be distinguished from the Christian by a difference of dress. On Passion Sunday and the last three days of Holy Week they may not appear in public.

Text: In some provinces a difference in dress distinguishes the Jews or Saracens from the Christians, but in certain others such a confusion has grown up that they cannot be distinguished by any difference. Thus it happens at times that through error Christians have relations with the women of Jews or Saracens, and Jews and Saracens with Christian women. Therefore, that they may not, under pretext of error of this sort, excuse themselves in the future for the excesses of such prohibited intercourse, we decree that such Jews and Saracens of both sexes in every Christian province and at all times shall be marked off in the eyes of the public from other peoples through the character of their dress. Particularly, since it may be read in the writings of Moses [Numbers 15:37-41], that this very law has been enjoined upon them.

Moreover, during the last three days before Easter and especially on Good Friday, they shall not go forth in public at all, for the reason that some of them on these very days, as we hear, do not blush to go forth better dressed and are not afraid to mock the Christians who maintain the memory of the most holy Passion by wearing signs of mourning.

This, however, we forbid most severely, that any one should presume at all to break forth in insult to the Redeemer. And since we ought not to ignore any insult to Him who blotted out our disgraceful deeds, we command that such impudent fellows be checked by the secular princes by imposing them proper punishment so that they shall not at all presume to blaspheme Him who was crucified for us.

[Note by Schroeder: In 581 the Synod of Macon enacted in canon 14 that from Thursday in Holy Week until Easter Sunday, .Jews may not in accordance with a decision of King Childebert appear in the streets and in public places. Mansi, IX, 934; Hefele-Leclercq, 111, 204. In 1227 the Synod of Narbonne in canon 3 ruled: "That Jews may be distinguished from others, we decree and emphatically command that in the center of the breast (of their garments) they shall wear an oval badge, the measure of one finger in width and one half a palm in height. We forbid them moreover, to work publicly on Sundays and on festivals. And lest they scandalize Christians or be scandalized by Christians, we wish and ordain that during Holy Week they shall not leave their houses at all except in case of urgent necessity, and the prelates shall during that week especially have them guarded from vexation by the Christians." Mansi, XXIII, 22; Hefele-Leclercq V 1453. Many decrees similar to these in content were issued by synods before and after this Lateran Council. Hefele-Leclercq, V and VI; Grayzel, The Church and the Jews in the XIlIth Century, Philadelphia, 1933.]


Summary. Jews are not to be given public offices. Anyone instrumental in doing this is to be punished. A Jewish official is to be denied all intercourse with Christians.

Text. Since it is absurd that a blasphemer of Christ exercise authority over Christians, we on account of the boldness of transgressors renew in this general council what the Synod of Toledo (589) wisely enacted in this matter, prohibiting Jews from being given preference in the matter of public offices, since in such capacity they are most troublesome to the Christians. But if anyone should commit such an office to them, let him, after previous warning, be restrained by such punishment as seems proper by the provincial synod which we command to be celebrated every year. The official, however, shall be denied the commercial and other intercourse of the Christians, till in the judgment of the bishop all that he acquired from the Christians from the time he assumed office be restored for the needs of the Christian poor, and the office that he irreverently assumed let him lose with shame. The same we extend also to pagans. [Mansi, IX, 995; Hefele-Leclercq, III, 7.27. This canon 14 of Toledo was frequently renewed.]


Summary. Jews who have received baptism are to be restrained by the prelates from returning to their former rite.

Text. Some (Jews), we understand, who voluntarily approached the waters of holy baptism, do not entirely cast off the old man that they may more perfectly put on the new one, because, retaining remnants of the former rite, they obscure by such a mixture the beauty of the Christian religion. But since it is written: "Accursed is the man that goeth on the two ways" (Ecclus. 2:14), and "a garment that is woven together of woolen and linen" (Deut. 22: ii) ought not to be put on, we decree that such persons be in every way restrained b the prelates from the observance of the former rite, that, having given themselves of their own free will to the Christian religion, salutary coercive action may preserve them in its observance, since not to know the way of the Lord is a lesser evil than to retrace one's steps after it is known.


Summary. A series of decrees dealing with the preparation of a crusade to the Holy Land.

Text. Desiring with an ardent desire to liberate the Holy Land from the hands of the ungodly, we decree with the advice of prudent men who are fully familiar with the circumstances of the times, and with the approval of the council, that all who have taken the cross and have decided to cross the sea, hold themselves so prepared that they may, on June 1 of the year after next (1217), come together in the Kingdom of Sicily, some at Brundusium and others at Messana, where, God willing, we (the Pope) will be present personally to order and to bestow on the Christian army the divine and Apostolic blessing. Those who decide to make the journey by land, should strive to hold themselves prepared for the same time; for their aid and guidance we shall in the meantime appoint a competent legate a latere. Priests and other clerics who are with the Christian army, subjects as well as prelates, must be diligent in prayer and exhortation, teaching them (the crusaders) by word and example that they have always before their eyes the fear and love of God, lest they say or do something that might offend the majesty of the eternal King. And should any have fallen into sin, let them quickly rise again through true repentance, practicing humility both interiorly and exteriorly, observing moderation in food as well as in clothing, avoiding dissensions and emulations, and divesting themselves of all malice and ill will, that being thus fortified with spiritual and material arms, they may fight with greater success against the enemies of the faith, not indeed relying on their own strength but putting their trust in the power of God. To the clerics we grant for a period of three years as complete an enjoyment of their benefices as if they actually resided in them, and they may, if necessary, even give them as pledges during this time. Therefore, that this undertaking may not be impeded or retarded, we strictly command all prelates that each one in his own territory induce those who have laid aside the crusader's cross to resume it, and carefully to admonish them and others who have taken the cross, as well as those who happen to be engaged for this purpose, to renew their vows to God, and if necessary to compel them by excommunication and interdict to abandon all delay.

Moreover, that nothing connected with the affairs of our Lord Jesus Christ be omitted, we wish and command that patriarchs, archbishops, bishops, abbots, and others who have the care of souls, diligently explain the meaning of the crusade to those committed to them, adjuring-through the Father, Son, and Holy Ghost, one, only true, and eternal God-kings, dukes, princes, marquises, counts, barons, and other prominent men, as well as cities, villages, and towns, that those who cannot go personally to the Holy Land, will furnish a suitable number of soldiers and, for a period of three years, in proportion to their resources, will bear the necessary expenses connected therewith for the remission of their sins, as we have made known in the general letters already sent over the world and as will be,exprcssed in greater detail below. In this remission we wish not only those to participate who for this purpose furnish their own ships, but those also who undertake to build ships. To those declining to render aid, if perchance any should be found to be so ungrateful to God, the Apostolic See firmly protests that on the last day they will be held to render an account to us in the presence of a terrible judge. Let them first consider with what security they can appear in the presence of the only begotten Son of God, Jesus Christ, into whose hands the Father has given all things, if in this matter they refuse to serve Him who was crucified for sinners, by whose favor they live, by whose benefits they are sustained, and by whose blood they were redeemed.

But, lest we should seem to place grave and unbearable burdens on the shoulders of the people, we ourselves (the Pope) donate to the cause what we have been able to save by strict economy, 30,000 pounds, besides a ship to convey the crusaders from Rome and vicinity and 3,000 marks silver, the remnant of alms received from the faithful. The remainder we have given to Albert patriarch of Jerusalem, and to the masters of the Temple and Hospital for the necessities of the Holy Land. With the approval of the council we further decree that absolutely all clerics, subjects as well as superiors, shall, in aid of the Holy Land and for a period of three years, pay into the hands of those appointed by the Apostolic See for this purpose, one twentieth part of ecclesiastical revenues; some religious orders only being excepted and those (clerics) also who take or already have taken the crusader's cross and are about to set out personally. We and our brethren, the cardinals of the Holy Roman Church, will pay one-tenth of our revenues. All are bound to the faithful observance of this under penalty of excommunication, so that those who deliberately commit fraud in this matter will incur that penalty.

Since by the just judgment of the heavenly King it is only right that those who are associated with a good cause should enjoy a special privilege, we exempt the crusaders from collections, taxes, and other assessments. Their persons and possessions, after they have taken the cross, we take under the protection of Blessed Peter and our own, decreeing that they stand under the protection o f the archbishops, bishops, and all the prelates of the Church. Besides, special protectors will be appointed, and, till their return or till their death shall have been certified, they shall remain unmolested, and if anyone shall presume the contrary, let him be restrained by ecclesiastical censure.

In the case of crusaders who are bound under oath to pay interest, we command that their creditors be compelled to cancel the oath given and to cease exacting interest. Should any creditor force the payment of interest, we command that he be similarly forced to make restitution. We command also that Jews be compelled by the secular power to cancel interest, and, till they have done so, intercourse with them must be absolutely denied them by all Christians under penalty of excommunication. For those who cannot be their departure pay their debts to the Jews, the secular princes shall provide such a delay that from the time of their departure till their return or till their death is known, they shall not be embarrassed with the inconvenience of paying interest. If a Jew has received security (for example, a piece of ground) for such a debt, he must, after deducting his own expenses, pay to the owner the income from such security. Prelates who manifest negligence in obtaining justice for the crusaders and their servants, shall be subject to severe penalty.

Since the corsairs and pirates too vehemently impede assistance to the Holy Land by capturing and robbing those who go there and those returning, we excommunicate them and their principal abetters and protectors, forbidding under threat of anathema that anyone knowingly hold intercourse with them in any contract of buying and selling, and enjoin upon the rulers of cities and their localities that they check and turn them away from this iniquity. And since an unwillingness to disturb the perverse is nothing else than to favor them, and is also an indication of secret association with them on the part of those who do not resist manifest crime, we wish and command that severe ecclesiastical punishment be imposed by the prelates on their persons and lands. We excommunicate and anathematize, moreover, those false and ungodly Christians who furnish the enemies of Christ and the Christian people with arms, iron, and wood for the construction of ships; those also who sell them ships and who in the ships of the Saracens hold the post of pilot, or in any other way give them aid or advice to the detriment of the Holy Land; and we decree that their possessions be confiscated and they themselves become the slaves of their captors. We command that this sentence be publicly announced in all maritime cities on all Sundays and festival days, and that to such people the church be not opened till they return all that they have obtained in so reprehensible a traffic and give the same amount of their own -in aid of the Holy Land. In case they are not able to pay, then let them be punished in other ways, that by their chastisement others may be deterred from undertaking similar pursuits.

Furthermore, under penalty of anathema, we forbid all Christians for a period of four years to send their ships to Oriental countries, inhabited by the Saracens, in order that a greater number of ships may be available to those who wish to go to the aid of the Holy Land, and that to the Saracens may be denied the benefits that they usually reap from such commercial intercourse.

Though tournaments have been, under certain penalties, generally forbidden by different councils, since however at this time they are a serious obstacle to the success of the crusade, we strictly prohibit em under penalty of excommunication for a period of three years.

But, since for the success of this undertaking it is above all else necessary that princes and Christian people maintain peace among themselves, we decree with the advice of the holy council that for four years peace be observed in the whole Christian world, so that through the prelates discordant elements may be brought together in the fulness of peace, or at least to the strict observance of the truce. Those who refuse to acquiesce in this, are to be compelled by excommunication and interdict, unless the malice that inspired their wrongdoings was such that they ought not to enjoy such peace. But, if by chance they despise ecclesiastical censure, they have every reason to fear lest by the authority of the Church the secular power will be invoked against them as disturbers of the affairs of the One crucified.

We, therefore, by the mercy of the omnipotent God, trusting in the authority of the Blessed Apostles Peter and Paul, in virtue of that power of binding and loosing which God has conferred on us, though unworthy, grant to all who aid in this work personally and at their own expense, a full remission of their sins which they ,have sincerely repented and orally confessed, and promise them when the just shall receive their reward an increase of eternal happiness. To those who do not personally go to the Holy Land, but at their own expense send there as many suitable men as their means will permit, and to those also who go personally but at the expense of others, we grant a full remission of their sins. Participants of this remission are, moreover, all who in proportion to their means contribute to the aid of the Holy Land, or in regard to what has been said give opportune advice and assistance. Finally, to all who in a spirit of piety aid in bringing to a successful issue this holy under. taking, this holy and general council imparts the benefits of its prayers and blessings that they may advance worthily to salvation. Amen.


From H. J. Schroeder, Disciplinary Decrees of the General Councils: Text, Translation and Commentary, (St. Louis: B. Herder, 1937). pp. 236-296.

NOTE 1: B. Herder's list was bought by TAN books, of Rockford IL. TAN confirmed that US copyright was not renewed after the statuary 28 years and that the text is now in the public domain in the US.]

NOTE 2: Fr. Schroeder accompanied the text with a commentary which, while well informed, was dominated by a concern to defend Catholic positions of his own time, and contained, moreover, a number of verbal attacks on the Orthodox churches. This commentary has not been reproduced here.]


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