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V Lateran Council

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  • INTRODUCTION
    • SESSION 8 - 19 December 1513
      • [Bull on reform]
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[Bull on reform]

Leo, bishop, servant of the servants of God, with the approval of the sacred council, for an everlasting record. Placed by the gift of divine grace at the supreme point of the apostolic hierarchy, we thought nothing was more in keeping with our official duty than to survey, with zeal and care, everything which could pertain to the protection, soundness and extension of the catholic flock entrusted to us. To this purpose we have applied all the force of our activity and the strength of our mind and talent. Our predecessor of happy memory, pope Julius II, since he was concerned about the well-being of the faithful and anxious to protect it, had summoned the ecumenical Lateran council for many other reasons indeed, but also because a constant complaint was being pressed concerning the officials of the Roman curia. For these reasons there were appointed a number of committees composed of his venerable brothers, the cardinals of the holy Roman church, of whose number we were then, and also of prelates, to investigate carefully into these complaints. In order that those attached to the curia and others approaching it for favours would not in the meantime be tormented by the excessive burden of expenses and that, at the same time, the ill-repute by which the said officials were deeply disturbed might be appeased by a speedy remedy, he issued a bull of reform by which they were bound anew, under a heavy penalty, to keep the legal terms of their offices. Because death intervened, he was unable to legislate in particular about the excesses or to complete the council.

We, as the successor of the concern no less than of the office, right at the beginning of our pontificate, did not delay to resume the synod, to promote peace between christian princes and no less, since it is our intention to complete a universal reform, to strengthen by new aids what was first provided by our predecessor concerning the curial offices, and to follow this through with the expanded committees. For no more pressing anxiety weighs on us than that the thorns and brambles be pulled up from the Lord's field, and if there is anything hindering its cultivation, it is to be removed root and branch. Therefore, after a careful report had been received from the committees, with notice of what was being side-tracked by which persons, we restored to the norm whatever had deviated either from a sound and praiseworthy custom or from a long-standing institution. We gathered these together into one bull of reform published on this matter with the approval of the sacred council;{This bull Pastoralis officii was published on 13 Dec. 1513, but it was never submitted to a vote of the fathers} and we appointed to execute it those who would insist on the decisions being kept. With the approval of this sacred council, we order this to be observed without alteration and without deceit by the officials themselves as well as by others, according as it affects each, under penalty of immediate excommunication from which they can only be absolved by the Roman pontiff (except in immediate danger of death), in such a way that, in addition to this and other penalties stated in detail in the bull, those acting against it are automatically suspended for six months from the office in which they committed the fault. And if they have failed for a second time in the same office, they are deprived for ever because they have contaminated the office itself. After they have been brought back to good conduct by means of our constitution, and the general damage has been checked and removed, we shall proceed to the remaining stages of the reform.

If the Almighty in his mercy allows us to settle peace among the christian leaders, we shall press on not only to destroy completely the bad seeds, but also to expand the territories of Christ, and, supported by these achievements, we shall go forward, with God favouring his own purposes, to the most holy expedition against the infidels, the desire for which is deeply fixed in our heart .

Let nobody therefore ... If anyone however...




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