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V Lateran Council

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    • SESSION 12 - 16 March 1517
      • [Against those attacking the houses of cardinals]
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SESSION 12 - 16 March 1517

[Against those attacking the houses of cardinals]

Leo, bishop, servant of the servants of God, with the approval of the sacred council, for an everlasting record. Certain audacious persons disdain to show the appropriate deference to the cardinals of the holy Roman church, who are the chief pillars of the catholic church. They do not fear to lay violent hands, with impious boldness, on their possessions and properties. Their uncontrolled desire warns and induces us to strengthen, increase and extend -- in accordance with the character of the times and with what we perceive in the Lord to be soundly in keeping with so distinguished an office in God's church -- those measures which, by wise planning, were established by our predecessors for the safe-guarding of the high office of the said cardinals, in order that the boldness of these people may be restrained before it extends even further. Indeed, there has recently grown up in Rome a damnable abuse and lack of restraint in wrongdoing. Thus, while there is a vacancy in the apostolic see, and the election of a future Roman pontiff is actually being discussed by the cardinals in conclave, if some rumour leaks out, even if false, that one of the cardinals has been elected as pontiff, the mob attacks his house with arms and contends by force with his servant-guards, while he is still in the conclave, over the despoiling of his house . If an entry is forced by breaking down the doors or digging under the wall, the mob rushes in to plunder all the goods that are there, unless a defence is made by armed guards. Sometimes there are some who are so audacious and headstrong that they do not fear even on other occasions to attack the houses of cardinals in a hostile fashion and with arms, under the guise of general brawling, and to strike and wound while they are there, as a result of which there is considerable loss to the honour of the cardinalate, by which the most holy church militant is fully adorned as by a purple garment, contempt for the cardinals is aroused, and occasion is given for murders and other scandals .

We wish to suppress audacious tendencies of this kind by fitting punishments . We therefore renew by this letter, with the approval of the sacred council and by our apostolic authority, the published constitutions of our predecessors as Roman pontiffs, Honorius III and Boniface VIII of happy memory, against those pursuing any cardinal of the said church in a hostile manner, those assisting such persons by their presence, counsel or support, or knowingly harbouring or defending them, and those attacking their houses or dwellings, as said above, and their descendants and property. We decree that these constitutions must be observed everywhere without alteration for all future times. We also extend these same constitutions, with each and every censure and penalty contained in them, to each and every living person of whatever status, condition and distinction, who attacks with an armed band the home of any of the said cardinals, both at the time of the said conclave, even if the cardinal in question has been elected pope, and at other times and for any reasons, and who seizes anything in the house with violence like an enemy or wounds anyone of those dwelling there, and also their associates and those who have given orders for it to be done, or have given personal approval to the deed or have provided counsel and support to the attackers in the above matters and have defended them. This is notwithstanding apostolic constitutions and ordinances and other measures of whatever kind to the contrary. Let nobody therefore . . . If anyone however . . .

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