Council of Basel (Florence) - 1431-1435 A.D.
Part 2 of 2
SESSION 25 7 May 1437
[On the places for the future ecumenical council for the Greeks]
The holy general synod of Basel, legitimately assembled in the holy Spirit, representing the universal church, for an everlasting record. Recently this holy synod among the various tasks for which the inscrutable providence of the divine majesty has deigned, by the invocation of the holy Spirit the paraclete, to bring it together and to employ it in the cultivation of the Lord's field, turning its mind like a watchful farmer and clearly perceiving how deplorable and abiding has been the division in God's church over the profession of the same faith by the eastern and western churches, conceived high hope and confidence in the most merciful goodness of him with whom nothing is impossible, and who generously and without restraint gives to all who duly ask him, to bring about the unity of the catholic faith between these churches. It decided, therefore, to apply the resources of its diligence more fully, grudging no labour or expense, because it was convinced that thence would follow the greater praise and glory of almighty God, a more fruitful salvation of souls and a greater increase of the faith. Desirous of undertaking this most salutary project of union, with the help of the grace of the holy Spirit it invited and exhorted to come to the project, through various envoys and letters, the most serene emperor of the Romans, the venerable patriarch of Constantinople, the other prelates and the rest of the Greek people.
The emperor, the patriarch and others of the Greeks received these exhortations with eagerness, their hearts inclined and influenced by the grace of the most High. Sincerely zealous to embark on this project of union, they decided to send to this holy synod their solemn envoys and spokesmen, who were furnished with an adequate mandate with the golden seal and signature of the emperor and the leaden seal of the patriarch, devoutly expressing their most fervent desire for this unity of faith. This holy synod concluded with them, in various preliminary meetings and deliberations about the execution of this salutary task of union, certain mutually agreed decrees and terms highly useful and necessary for this purpose, which were recorded above and were promulgated in a session of this holy synod in the cathedral of Basel. Thereafter this holy synod wished to implement these decrees and terms by all necessary and suitable means, and therefore to proceed to choosing a place for the coming ecumenical council, to which the aforesaid emperor, the patriarch and others of the Greeks could and should come. After many propositions about these and other topics relevant to this holy matter had been considered by the various deputations of this holy synod, and after the votes of their members on these points had been counted, finally in a general congregation summoned for this purpose in the said cathedral, as is customary, in which the votes of the individuals were again counted, it was found that more than two-thirds of them had voted for Basel, Avignon or Savoy. After they had invoked the grace of the holy Spirit and celebrated a mass, they agreed that due and earnest pressure should be exerted on the emperor, the patriarch and other aforesaid Greeks, with the many good reasons being put before them, so that they might agree to Basel as the place for the ecumenical council, and that if they rejected Basel, it should be held at Avignon. If Avignon proved impossible, it should be held in Savoy.
Therefore, in order that each and all of the aforesaid points might be brought to fruition, with all the solemnity normally employed in this sacred council of Basel in expediting matters of importance, while the fathers are seated in the cathedral of Basel after the mass, this holy synod decrees, wishes, ordains and declares that the future ecumenical council ought to be held at the due and agreed time in the city of Basel or, if that is rejected, in the city of Avignon or otherwise in Savoy, in accordance with the above-mentioned agreement; and that the emperor, the patriarch and other aforesaid Greeks, as detailed in the said terms and decrees, and all other persons of whatever rank, status, dignity or pre-eminence who ought by right or custom to take part in general councils, including those of episcopal rank, are bound and obliged to come to and take part in that ecumenical council, especially so that this salutary work might be completed. This holy synod wishes, declares and decrees this nomination and choice to be firm, fixed and unchangeable. Any modification, ordinance, disposition, nomination or choice to the contrary that may be made by this holy council or by one or more other persons, whatever their authority, even if it be papal, is utterly invalid; and this holy synod from its certain knowledge as from now quashes, revokes and annuls any such measures, and denounces them as quashed, null and of no effect, and it wishes them to be of no effect and holds them so now, in so far as they impede or oppose in whole or in part the said choice. Also this holy synod from its certain knowledge supplies for any defect that may exist in the aforesaid things or in any of them in particular. Furthermore, since this very difficult undertaking, which will bear great fruit in God's church, as well as the transport and maintenance of the aforesaid Greeks, cannot be accomplished without heavy expenses, it is right and fitting that all of Christ's faithful, especially ecclesiastics, should contribute generously from the substance of the patrimony of our lord Jesus Christ entrusted to them, for the conclusion of so happy a venture. This holy synod therefore imposes on each and every ecclesiastical person, both exempt and non-exempt under whatever form or words, even the order of St John of Jerusalem, of whatever status, dignity, rank, order or condition, even if they are cardinals or bishops, a tenth of all their ecclesiastical fruits and revenues -- only daily distributions being excepted -- from their churches, monasteries, dignities, offices and other ecclesiastical benefices. This tenth has already been imposed and agreed upon in a general congregation of this holy synod, and this holy synod now decrees and declares that it is to be imposed, and by this decree it imposes it. Furthermore, the said holy synod decrees, wishes, ordains and declares that the venerable bishops John of Luebeck, Luis of Viseu, Delfino of Parma and Louis of Lausanne, envoys of this holy synod, have full power for bringing the Greeks to the place of the ecumenical council, and for the majority of them then present to choose and nominate the Latin port which is most suitable and nearest to the places chosen and nominated above, and to which the said Greeks ought to direct themselves. The synod concedes this power to them by this present decree in accordance with the form of the other letters granted to them in this affair. Finally the same holy synod wishes, ordains and decrees, for the due and desired execution of the aforesaid points and what follows from them, and for the fuller security of the said envoys and of the council, that, at the request of these envoys or of their agents, any other suitable, useful and necessary letters shall be granted, drawn up and despatched in due and correct form by the synod's chancery under the synod's seal.
The holy general synod of Basel, legitimately assembled in the holy Spirit, representing the universal church, for an everlasting record. This holy synod from its outset, in order that those things might be accomplished which general councils are instituted to achieve with the assistance of the holy Spirit, devoted very great care to promoting union between the western and eastern peoples so that, as the church of God has suffered innumerable disasters from the long-standing dissension, the greatest profit might ensue from fraternal union. Therefore it sent envoys to Constantinople for the promotion of this holy work. They returned with the ambassadors of the most serene emperor of the Romans and of the venerable patriarch of Constantinople. After many meetings and mature deliberation on this subject, certain terms were agreed between this sacred council and those ambassadors and were confirmed by a decree in a public session. By these terms this holy synod bound itself to send envoys with certain sums of money, two large and two smaller galleys and three hundred crossbowmen within a fixed time, and to nominate through these envoys one of the places mentioned in the decree for the ecumenical council, where the emperor and the patriarch with seven hundred persons would meet with us to bring about this holy union.
However, since the time-limit for accomplishing the above is imminent, this holy synod, desirous of fulfilling its promises completely and of bringing to its desired goal this holy endeavour which is the most salutary of all works in these times, came to the following conclusion in its discussions and then in a general congregation: namely, that Florence or Udine in Friuli should be put into the council's hands, or else that there should be chosen for the ecumenical council some other safe place which is mentioned in the decree and is convenient for the pope and the Greeks, that is to say whichever of the aforesaid places shall be quickest to collect and send the galleys, the sums of money and other requisites with the necessary securities. The port would be Venice, Ravenna or Rimini; whichever of them the emperor and the patriarch of Constantinople prefer. Also, so that the clergy are not burdened uselessly, the tenth shall not be decreed or exacted until the Greeks have arrived at one of the above-mentioned ports. Also, that the sacred council should remain in this city during the whole time covered by the decree. Also, that the legates and presidents of the apostolic see, after they have summoned such fathers as shall seem good to them, shall choose the envoys for accompanying the Greeks and for carrying out the aforesaid things; these envoys ought to urge forcibly the choice of this city of Basel. Therefore, in order that each and all of the above may attain due effect, with the assistance of divine grace, in this public and solemn session this holy synod wishes, decrees and declares that the aforesaid decision is definite and valid, to be adhered to and to be implemented. It quashes, voids and annuls, and declares to be quashed, void and null, whatever has been or shall be done, or may be attempted, by any person or persons contrary to the above or its consequences or whatever could in any way impede their execution. And it wishes that the aforesaid apostolic legates and presidents shall compose in due form and under the seal of the council suitable letters for the execution of the above, and shall expedite whatever else may be necessary and appropriate for this holy enterprise.
SESSION 1 8 January 1438
[Declaration of cardinal Nicholas Albergati, president of the council]
We, Nicholas, legate of the apostolic see, announce that we preside on behalf of our most holy lord pope Eugenius IV in this sacred synod which was translated from Basel to the city of Ferrara and is already legitimately assembled, and that the continuation of this translated synod has been effected today 8 January, and that the synod is and ought to be continued from today onwards for all the purposes for which the synod of Basel was convened, including being the ecumenical council at which the union of the western and the eastern church is treated and with God's help achieved.
SESSION 2 10 January 1438
[On the legitimate continuation of the council of Ferrara, against the assembly at Basel]
For the praise of almighty God, the exaltation of the catholic faith and the peace, tranquillity and unity of the whole Christian people. This holy universal synod, through the grace of God authorized by the most blessed lord pope Eugenius IV, legitimately assembled in the holy Spirit in this city of Ferrara, represents the universal church. Its president, on behalf and in the name of the said most holy lord Eugenius, is the most reverend father and lord in Christ lord Nicholas, cardinal-priest of the holy Roman church of the title of holy Cross in Jerusalem, legate of the apostolic see. It adheres to the firm foundation of him who said to the prince of the apostles: You are Peter, and on this rock I will build my church. It is eager to preserve the unity of the spirit in the bond of peace, so that we might be one body and one spirit, just as we were called in the one hope of our calling. It records that much was done in days past both at the former council of Basel and after its translation by some staying on there without any authority, and also by the said most blessed pope lord Eugenius, especially in respect of the business of the most holy union of the western and the eastern church, namely the following: the decree of the nineteenth session of the former council of Basel beginning As a dutiful mother, to which the most holy lord Eugenius gave his assent by his letter; also an agreed proposal on the choice of a place to which the council of Basel should be translated which was agreed upon and confirmed by all the fathers in common and which led to the decree of the twenty-fifth session of the former council, which begins This holy synod from its outset etc. and which the pope himself, urged on by the envoys of the Greeks, accepted and confirmed by his letter given in a general consistory at Bologna and published in the presence of these envoys, also the letter of the same most blessed Eugenius dated 18 September last, issued in a general consistory at Bologna and solemnly read out at the beginning of the continuation of this synod, by which the pope with the counsel and consent of the most reverend cardinals of the holy Roman church and with the approval of the prelates then in the curia, transferred the council to this city of Ferrara; also the letter of the declaration of the same, dated 30 December, immediately following the said translation; all of which this holy synod has ordered to be registered verbatim in its acts as a permanent record, as is contained in these same acts.
All these facts and many more have been duly pondered and maturely discussed in various meetings. This holy synod declares that the aforesaid translation and declaration were and are legitimate, just and reasonable, and were and are made from urgent necessity so as to remove an obstacle to the most holy union of the western and the eastern church, to prevent a schism already threatening in God's church, and for the manifest benefit of the whole Christian commonwealth, and that therefore this holy synod was legitimately assembled and established in the holy Spirit in this city of Ferrara for all the purposes for which the said former council of Basel was instituted at its beginning, and especially to be the future ecumenical council for the aforesaid most holy union; and that it ought to continue and to proceed to all the aforesaid matters. This holy synod therefore praises, accepts and approves the translation and the consequent declaration, as mentioned above. It exhorts in the Lord and requires of each and all of the present and future members of the holy synod to apply themselves to the above things with earnest care and serious study. By the generosity of him who has begun in us a good work, may everything be directed and done for his glory and the salvation of the whole Christian people.
This holy synod further declares that, since the well known necessity of the above reasons demanded and impelled the said most holy lord Eugenius to that translation, the matter in no way falls within the decrees of the eighth, the eleventh or any other session of the former council of Basel.
It decrees that the assembly at Basel, and every other assembly which may perchance convene there or elsewhere under the name of a general council, rather is and ought to be considered a spurious gathering and conventicle, and can in no way exist with the authority of a general council.
It quashes, invalidates and annuls, and declares to be invalid, quashed, null and of no force or moment, each and all of the things done in the city of Basel in the name of a general council after the said translation, and whatever may be attempted there or elsewhere in the future in the name of a general council.
But if in the matter of the Bohemians something useful has been achieved by the said people assembled at Basel after the said translation, it intends to approve that and supply for defects.
In order that each and all of the members of the holy synod may be kept safe from every annoyance and may serve God in good works without anxiety, free from all fear, harassment and injury, this holy synod absolves, frees and dispenses, and declares to be absolved and freed, and the oaths to be dispensed from, each and all of those who, under whatsoever plea or cause, bound themselves to the former synod of Basel by oaths, with obligations and commitments, whereby their full and free right to obey this present holy synod and to promote its honour and good might be impeded and they might have scruples of some kind.
This holy synod also ordains and decrees that nobody of whatsoever rank or dignity, by any ordinary or delegated jurisdiction for any cause or occasion, except by the jurisdiction of the apostolic see, shall dare to disturb, harass or molest, in their dignities, offices, administrations, privileges, honours, benefices and other goods, each and all of those, both seculars and religious, including members of mendicant orders, who are or shall be at this present synod, or who follow the Roman curia and will soon be at this synod on account of the move of the most holy lord Eugenius with his curia to this city, which has been announced by the posting up of notices in accordance with the ancient custom of the curia.
But if, under any pretext, directly or indirectly, any should presume to molest any of the said persons in their dignities, offices, administrations, honours, privileges, benefices or other goods, or to prevent them from freely enjoying their jurisdiction, fruits and emoluments as they did before, or to confer on others their dignities, offices, administrations, honours and benefices, on the plea of some deprivation, this holy synod intends that each and all of them, even if they are cardinals, patriarchs, archbishops, bishops or persons with some other dignity, or chapters, colleges, convents or universities, shall incur automatically and without the need for a previous warning sentences of excommunication, suspension and interdict, absolution from which is reserved to the Roman pontiff alone, except at the hour of death.
Moreover the synod decrees that those who do not repent within three days after making these conferrals or placing these obstacles, by fully restoring those whose dignities, offices, administrations, honours and benefices they conferred, or whom they impeded in other ways, as stated above, to all their churches and benefices as they held them before, whether they held them by title, in commendam or in administration; and also each and all of those who presume to accept collation to the aforesaid dignities, offices, administrations, honours and benefices, even if they were made motu proprio, or to take possession of them in person or through others, or to hold such action as valid; all these persons are automatically deprived by law, if they previously had any claim in them, of all their other benefices, whether they held them by title, in commendam or in administration, and they are rendered perpetually disqualified from them and all other benefices, and they can be restored and habilitated only by the Roman pontiff.
This holy synod, moreover, warns and requires each and all of those who are obliged by law or custom to take part in general councils, to come as soon as possible to this present synod at Ferrara, which will continue, as noted above, for the speedy attainment of the aforesaid purposes.
SESSION 31 15 February 1438
[Ecclesiastical penalties against members of the Basel synod]
Eugenius, bishop, servant of the servants of God, for an everlasting record. The duties of the pastoral office over which we preside by divine mercy, despite our lack of merit, demand that we repress by opportune remedies the nefarious excesses of evil-minded persons, especially those who, unless prevented, strive to force the peaceful state of the church into various dangerous storms and disturbances and who endeavour to overturn the barque of Peter, and that we inflict due retribution for their excesses, lest boasting of their malice they give occasion to others to commit mischief. For it is a crime to be slack in punishing crimes that harm many people, as canonical regulations state.
Thus, the former council of Basel debated the choice of a place for the future ecumenical council. Those on whom the power of choosing the place devolved, passed a decree which was accepted by the ambassadors of our most dear son in Christ John, emperor of the Greeks, and of our venerable brother Joseph, patriarch of Constantinople. Some persons chose Avignon or another place, but the said ambassadors protested that most assuredly they did not want to go there, declaring as certain that the said emperor and patriarch would by no means go to the said sacred council unless we attended in person. Those who asked for Avignon, afraid that the Greeks certainly would not come to them, dared to concoct a certain decree or notorious pamphlet, which they call a monition, against us, even though it is null and indeed leads to serious scandal and a split in the church, disrupting this holy work of union with the Greeks.
In order to preserve the unity of the church and to promote the said union with the Greeks, we, for just, necessary and pressing reasons, with the advice and assent of our venerable brothers the cardinals of the holy Roman church, and with the advice and approval of very many of our venerable brothers the archbishops, bishops, beloved chosen sons and abbots who were present at the apostolic see, translated the said council of Basel, by our apostolic authority and in a fixed manner and form, to the city of Ferrara, which is suitable for the Greeks and for us, so that those at Basel might duly recoil from their scandalous actions, as is contained at greater length in the letter composed for the occasion' . But they, spurning every avenue of peace, persevering in their obstinate purpose, scorning the letter of the said translation and everything contained in it, and piling evil upon evil, not only rejected our reasonable translation made for the said most just and urgent reasons, as stated above, but even dared with renewed obstinacy to warn us to withdraw the said translation within a fixed time and under pain of suspension. Yet this would have been nothing less than to force us to abandon the prosecution of such a holy work so much desired by all Christians.
When we realized this, with grief of heart, since we saw that everything tended to the destruction of the holy task of union and to an open split in the church, as was said above, we declared that the translation had been made by us from necessity, that the conditions attached to it had been regularized, and that the council at Ferrara ought to begin and legitimately continue, as is stated more fully in another letter of ours .
To open this council at Ferrara we sent our beloved son Nicholas, cardinal-priest of the holy Roman church of the title of holy Cross, legate of us and the apostolic see.
This council at Ferrara, legitimately assembled and with many prelates, solemnly declared in a public session that the said translation and declaration were and are legitimate, just and reasonable, and were made from urgent necessity so as to remove an obstacle to the said most holy union between the western and the eastern church and to avoid an impending split in God's church for the evident benefit of the whole Christian commonwealth, as is crystal clear from the decree made about it.
Meanwhile, informed that the aforesaid emperor, patriarch and Greeks were approaching the shores of Italy, under God's guidance we came to this council at Ferrara with the firm intention and purpose of effectively pursuing, with God's help, not only the work of holy union but also the objectives for which the council of Basel had assembled.
In view of all this, our beloved son Julian, cardinal-priest of the title of St Sabina, legate of the apostolic see, strongly urged the aforesaid people at Basel to withdraw from such flagrant scandals. But because of their obstinacy of mind he was without effect. Then, seeing them ready to precipitate still worse scandals in God's church, he departed so as not to appear to approve their impiety. They, for their part, paid no attention to this. Ignorant of how to direct their steps in the way of peace and justice, although they were already aware that the Greeks were utterly unwilling to come to them and were approaching the shores of Italy, they persevered in their hardness of heart. Since they could in no other way prevent and disrupt the union with the Greeks, for which they should have been labouring with us with all their strength and mind and assisting us, they added bad to worse and went to such a pitch of rashness and insolence that, even though many of the envoys of kings and princes who were at Basel execrated so wicked a deed and protested against it, they dared to declare with sacrilegious arrogance that we were suspended from the administration of the papacy and to proceed to various other things, albeit everything was null.
So we, conscious that their excesses are so notorious that they cannot be hidden by any subterfuge, and that error that is not resisted appears to be approved and throws wide open to delinquents a door that no longer guards against their intrusions, and unable without grave offence to our lord Jesus Christ and his holy church to tolerate further so many grievous excesses which are seen especially to impede, disrupt and utterly destroy the holy and most desired union with the Greeks, we decree against the aforesaid remnant at Basel, in virtue of the most High and with the approval of this holy council, the steps that should be taken with justice.
Hence we decree and declare, after mature deliberation with this holy synod and with its approval, that each and all of those meeting in Basel, in spite of the aforesaid translation and declaration, under the pretended name of a council which more accurately should be called a conventicle, and daring to perpetrate such scandalous and nefarious deeds, whether they are cardinals, patriarchs archbishops, bishops or abbots or of some other ecclesiastical or secular dignity, have already incurred the penalties instanced in our said letter of translation, namely excommunication, privation of dignities and disqualification from benefices and offices in the future.
We also decree and declare to be null and void and of no force or moment, whatever has been attempted by them in the name of a council or otherwise since the day of the translation made by us, or shall be attempted in the future, in respect of the aforesaid matters or against those who follow our curia or are at this sacred council at Ferrara.
We also command, with the approval of this council, under the same penalties and censures and in virtue of their oath by which they are bound to the holy apostolic see, each and all of the cardinals, patriarchs, archbishops, bishops, elected persons, abbots and all others of whatsoever condition, status or rank who are meeting in the said city of Basel under the pretext of a council, really and effectively to leave the said city within thirty days of the date of this decree. We also order the mayor of the citizens, the councillors and the magistrates ruling the city of Basel and the governors and other officials, whatever name they go under, to expel the aforesaid persons who have not left the city within the said thirty days and really and effectively to eject them.
If they fail to do this within the said thirty days, we decree that each and all of the said rulers and officials automatically incur sentence of excommunication, and the people and the city automatically incur sentence of ecclesiastical interdict; we specially reserve to ourself absolution from the sentences of excommunication, except at the hour of death, and the lifting of the interdict. We order and command, in virtue of holy obedience and under pain of excommunication, each and all of those to whom this notice shall come that, if the aforesaid persons meeting in Basel and the citizens are obstinately disobedient towards us, nobody should approach the city of Basel after the said thirty days and they should deny them all commerce and all articles needed for human use.
Merchants of all kinds, who have gone to Basel on account of the former council, shall depart under the same pain of excommunication. If there are some who ignore these orders of ours, daring perhaps to convey goods after the time-limit to those at Basel persisting in contumacy, since it is written that the righteous plundered the ungodly, such persons may be despoiled without penalty by any of the faithful and their goods shall be ceded to the first takers.
However, because the church never closes its bosom to returning sons, if the said people meeting in Basel, or some of them, repent and depart from the said city within the said interval of thirty days from the date of this present decree, then with the approval of this sacred council we remit and fully cancel the aforesaid penalties as for obedient sons and we wish, decree and order that they and their consequences are to be regarded as without force from the date of their imposition, and we supply with the council's approval for all defects, if perhaps there are any in respect of solemnity of the law or of omission. Let nobody therefore ... If anyone however ...
SESSION 42 9 April 1438
[Eugenius IV and the fathers of the council at Ferrara declare the council at Ferrara to be legitimate and ecumenical]
Eugenius, bishop, servant of the servants of God, for an everlasting record. It befits us to render thanks to almighty God who, mindful of his past mercies, always bestows on his church even richer growth and, although he allows her to be tossed on occasions by the waves of trials and tribulations, yet never permits her to be submerged but keeps her safe amid the mountainous waters, so that by his mercy she emerges from the various vicissitudes even stronger than before. For behold, the western and eastern peoples, who have been separated for long, hasten to enter into a pact of harmony and unity; and those who were justly distressed at the long dissension that kept them apart, at last after many centuries, under the impulse of him from whom every good gift comes, meet together in person in this place out of desire for holy union.
We are aware that it is our duty and the duty of the whole church to strain every nerve to ensure that these happy initiatives make progress and have issue through our common care, so that we may deserve to be and to be called co-operators with God.
Finally, our most dear son John Palacologus, emperor of the Romans, together with our venerable brother Joseph, patriarch of Constantinople, the apocrisiaries of the other patriarchal sees and a great multitude of archbishops, ecclesiastics and nobles arrived at their last port, Venice, on 8 February last. There, the said emperor expressly declared, as he had often done before, that for good reasons he could not go to Basel to celebrate the ecumenical or universal council, and he intimated this by a letter to those assembled at Basel. He exhorted and required all of them to go to Ferrara, which had been chosen for the council, to carry through the pious task of this holy union.
We have always had this holy union close to our heart and have sought with all our strength to bring it about. Therefore we intend to carry out with care, as is our duty, the decree of the council of Basel, to which the Greeks agreed, as well as the choice of a place for the ecumenical council, which was made at the council of Basel and which was later confirmed by us at Bologna at the urging of the envoys of the said emperor and patriarch, and any other things pertaining to this work of holy union.
Therefore we decree and declare, in every way and form as best we can, with the assent of the said emperor and patriarch and of all those in the present synod, that there exists a holy universal or ecumenical synod in this city of Ferrara, which is free and safe for all; and therefore it should be deemed and called such a synod by all, in which this holy business of union will be conducted without any quarrelsome contention but with all charity and, as we hope, will be brought by divine favour to a happy conclusion together with the other holy tasks for which the synod is known to have been instituted.
SESSION 5' 10 January 1439
[Decree translating the council of Ferrara to Florence]
Eugenius, bishop, servant of the servants of God, for an everlasting record. It is fitting that the site of an ecumenical council, in which men chosen from the whole Christian world meet together, should be such that in it, among other human necessities, there should be the most important of all, namely healthy air. Otherwise, because of the pest-laden contagion of infected air which all people naturally fear and flee, those present at the council may be forced to depart with nothing accomplished and the absent will refuse to attend. Assuredly it is right that those who come together at synods to treat of difficult questions should be free from every anxiety and fear, so that they may be able in greater peace and freedom to give their attention to the matters of public concern.
We would, indeed, have preferred that the universal council which we initiated in this city should continue here, and that the union of the eastern and western churches should be brought to its happy and desired conclusion in this city, where we initiated it. When the plague afflicted this city last autumn, pressure was exerted by some for the transferral of the synod to a non-infected locality. Nothing was done, however, because it was hoped that the plague would cease with the advent of winter, as it usually does.
Since in fact the plague continues from day to day and it is feared that it will gain strength when spring and summer come, all judge and advise that a move must be made without delay to some non-infected place. For this and several other good reasons, with the agreement of our dear son John Palaeologus, emperor of the Romans, and of our venerable brother Joseph, patriarch of Constantinople, and with the approval of the council:
In the name of the Trinity, Father, Son and holy Spirit, with the full securities and safe-conducts which we gave to all at the beginning of the sacred council, we transfer and declare to be transferred as from now this ecumenical or universal synod from this city of Ferrara to the city of Florence, which is manifestly free for all, safe, peaceful and tranquil, and enjoying healthy air, and which, situated as it is between the Tyrrhenian and Adriatic seas, is excellently situated for easy access for both easterners and westerners. Let nobody therefore . .. If anyone however . . .
SESSION 6 6 July 1439
[Definition of the holy ecumenical synod of Florence]
Eugenius, bishop, servant of the servants of God, for an everlasting record. With the agreement of our most dear son John Palaeologus, illustrious emperor of the
Romans, of the deputies of our venerable brothers the patriarchs and of other representatives of the eastern church, to the following.
Let the heavens be glad and let the earth rejoice. For, the wall that divided the western and the eastern church has been removed, peace and harmony have returned, since the corner-stone, Christ, who made both one, has joined both sides with a very strong bond of love and peace, uniting and holding them together in a covenant of everlasting unity. After a long haze of grief and a dark and unlovely gloom of long-enduring strife, the radiance of hoped-for union has illuminated all.
Let mother church also rejoice. For she now beholds her sons hitherto in disagreement returned to unity and peace, and she who hitherto wept at their separation now gives thanks to God with inexpressible joy at their truly marvellous harmony. Let all the faithful throughout the world, and those who go by the name of Christian, be glad with mother catholic church. For behold, western and eastern fathers after a very long period of disagreement and discord, submitting themselves to the perils of sea and land and having endured labours of all kinds, came together in this holy ecumenical council, joyful and eager in their desire for this most holy union and to restore intact the ancient love. In no way have they been frustrated in their intent. After a long and very toilsome investigation, at last by the clemency of the holy Spirit they have achieved this greatly desired and most holy union. Who, then, can adequately thank God for his gracious gifts?' Who would not stand amazed at the riches of such great divine mercy? Would not even an iron breast be softened by this immensity of heavenly condescension?
These truly are works of God, not devices of human frailty. Hence they are to be accepted with extraordinary veneration and to be furthered with praises to God. To you praise, to you glory, to you thanks, O Christ, source of mercies, who have bestowed so much good on your spouse the catholic church and have manifested your miracles of mercy in our generation, so that all should proclaim your wonders. Great indeed and divine is the gift that God has bestowed on us. We have seen with our eyes what many before greatly desired yet could not behold.
For when Latins and Greeks came together in this holy synod, they all strove that, among other things, the article about the procession of the holy Spirit should be discussed with the utmost care and assiduous investigation. Texts were produced from divine scriptures and many authorities of eastern and western holy doctors, some saying the holy Spirit proceeds from the Father and the Son, others saying the procession is from the Father through the Son. All were aiming at the same meaning in different words. The Greeks asserted that when they claim that the holy Spirit proceeds from the Father, they do not intend to exclude the Son; but because it seemed to them that the Latins assert that the holy Spirit proceeds from the Father and the Son as from two principles and two spirations, they refrained from saying that the holy Spirit proceeds from the Father and the Son. The Latins asserted that they say the holy Spirit proceeds from the Father and the Son not with the intention of excluding the Father from being the source and principle of all deity, that is of the Son and of the holy Spirit, nor to imply that the Son does not receive from the Father, because the holy Spirit proceeds from the Son, nor that they posit two principles or two spirations; but they assert that there is only one principle and a single spiration of the holy Spirit, as they have asserted hitherto. Since, then, one and the same meaning resulted from all this, they unanimously agreed and consented to the following holy and God-pleasing union, in the same sense and with one mind.
In the name of the holy Trinity, Father, Son and holy Spirit, we define, with the approval of this holy universal council of Florence, that the following truth of faith shall be believed and accepted by all Christians and thus shall all profess it: that the holy Spirit is eternally from the Father and the Son, and has his essence and his subsistent being from the Father together with the Son, and proceeds from both eternally as from one principle and a single spiration. We declare that when holy doctors and fathers say that the holy Spirit proceeds from the Father through the Son, this bears the sense that thereby also the Son should be signified, according to the Greeks indeed as cause, and according to the Latins as principle of the subsistence of the holy Spirit, just like the Father.
And since the Father gave to his only-begotten Son in begetting him everything the Father has, except to be the Father, so the Son has eternally from the Father, by whom he was eternally begotten, this also, namely that the holy Spirit proceeds from the Son.
We define also that the explanation of those words "and from the Son" was licitly and reasonably added to the creed for the sake of declaring the truth and from imminent need.
Also, the body of Christ is truly confected in both unleavened and leavened wheat bread, and priests should confect the body of Christ in either, that is, each priest according to the custom of his western or eastern church. Also, if truly penitent people die in the love of God before they have made satisfaction for acts and omissions by worthy fruits of repentance, their souls are cleansed after death by cleansing pains; and the suffrages of the living faithful avail them in giving relief from such pains, that is, sacrifices of masses, prayers, almsgiving and other acts of devotion which have been customarily performed by some of the faithful for others of the faithful in accordance with the church's ordinances.
Also, the souls of those who have incurred no stain of sin whatsoever after baptism, as well as souls who after incurring the stain of sin have been cleansed whether in their bodies or outside their bodies, as was stated above, are straightaway received into heaven and clearly behold the triune God as he is, yet one person more perfectly than another according to the difference of their merits. But the souls of those who depart this life in actual mortal sin, or in original sin alone, go down straightaway to hell to be punished, but with unequal pains. We also define that the holy apostolic see and the Roman pontiff holds the primacy over the whole world and the Roman pontiff is the successor of blessed Peter prince of the apostles, and that he is the true vicar of Christ, the head of the whole church and the father and teacher of all Christians, and to him was committed in blessed Peter the full power of tending, ruling and governing the whole church, as is contained also in the acts of ecumenical councils and in the sacred canons.
Also, renewing the order of the other patriarchs which has been handed down in the canons, the patriarch of Constantinople should be second after the most holy Roman pontiff, third should be the patriarch of Alexandria, fourth the patriarch of Antioch, and fifth the patriarch of Jerusalem, without prejudice to all their privileges and rights.
SESSION 7 4 September 1439
[Decree of the council of Florence against the synod at Basel]
Eugenius, bishop, servant of the servants of God, for an everlasting record. Moses, the man of God, was zealous for the well-being of the people entrusted to him. He feared that God's wrath would be roused against them if they followed Korah, Dathan and Abiram in their seditious schism. Therefore he said to the whole people, at the Lord's command: depart from the tents of these wicked men and touch nothing of theirs, lest you be involved in their sins. For he had perceived, under the Lord's inspiration, that those seditious and schismatic men would incur a grievous retribution, as was demonstrated afterwards when even the earth could not bear with them but by God's just judgment swallowed them up, so that they fell alive into hell.
Similarly we too to whom, though unworthy, the lord Jesus Christ has deigned to entrust his people, as we hear of the abominable crime that certain wicked men dwelling in Basel have plotted in these days so as to breach the unity of holy church, and since we fear that they may seduce some of the unwary by their deceits and inject them with their poisons, are forced to proclaim in like words to the people of our lord Jesus Christ entrusted to us, depart from the tents of these wicked men, particularly since the Christian people is far more numerous than the Jewish people of those days, the church is holier than the synagogue, and the vicar of Christ is superior in authority and status even to Moses.
This impiety of those at Basel we began to foresee long ago, when we observed the council of Basel already lapsing into tyranny; when many, including those of lower status, were forced to go to it and to stay at the whim of that faction of agitators; when the votes and decisions of some of them were being extorted by various tricks and others were being suborned by lies and deceits, as they abandoned almost everything to conspiracies, cabals, monopolies and cliques, and from a long-standing rivalry with the papacy sought to prolong the duration of the council; when, finally, innumerable novelties, irregularities, deformities and ills were perpetrated, to which there concurred even clerics in lower orders, the ignorant and inexperienced, vagabonds, quarrelers, fugitives, apostates, condemned criminals, escapees from prison, those in rebellion against us and their own superiors, and other such human monsters, who brought with them every stain of corruption from those teachers of evil-doing.
We directed our attention also to that most holy work of union with the eastern church, which seemed to us to be greatly endangered by the deceit of certain factious persons, and we wished to provide as best we could for so many evils. For these and other just and necessary reasons which are stated in full in the decree of translation, with the advice of our venerable brothers the cardinals of the holy Roman church, and with the approval of very many venerable
brothers and sons, archbishops, bishops, elected persons, abbots and other prelates of churches, masters and doctors, we transferred the aforesaid council of Basel to this city of Ferrara, where we established with the Lord's help an ecumenical council of the western and the eastern church.
Afterwards, when the plague came and continued unabated, under the inspiration of grace and with the approval of the same holy council, we transferred the council to this city of Florence. Here the most gracious and merciful God showed his wonders. For, the most disastrous schism, which had endured in God's church for almost five hundred years to the immense harm of the whole of Christianity, and for the elimination of which very many of our predecessors as Roman pontiffs and many kings and princes and other Christians in past times had laboured very hard, at last, after public and private discussions in both places and many other labours, was removed and the most holy union of the Greeks and the Latins was happily achieved, as is described more fully in the decree about this which was drawn up and solemnly promulgated.
Returning fervent thanks for this to the eternal God and sharing our joy with all the faithful, we offered to God a sacrifice of jubilation and praise. For we saw that not just one nation like the Hebrew people was being summoned to the promised land, but peoples of many races, nations and tongues were hastening to the one utterance and merit of the divine truth. Through this, great hope is forthcoming that the sun of justice, rising in the east, will spread the beams of its light to pierce the darkness of many other races, even of infidels, and the salvation of the Lord may reach to the ends of the earth.
Already indeed, by God's providence, we have excellent pledges of this. For almighty God has granted that, by our means, representatives of the Armenians with full powers have recently come from most distant northern parts to us and the apostolic see and to this holy council. They regard and venerate us as no other than blessed Peter, prince of the apostles, they recognize the holy see as mother and mistress of all the faithful, and they profess that they have come to the holy see and to the aforesaid council for spiritual food and the truth of sound doctrine. For this too we have given many thanks to our God.
But the mind recoils from recording what troubles, attacks and persecutions we have suffered in the course of this divine undertaking until now, not indeed from Turks or Saracens but from those who call themselves Christians. Blessed Jerome reports that from the time of Hadrian until the reign of Constantine there was set up and worshipped by the pagans at the place of the Lord's resurrection an image of Jupiter and on the rock of the crucifixion a marble statue of Venus, since the authors of persecution thought that they could take away from us our faith in the resurrection and the cross if they polluted the holy places with their idols.
Much the same has happened in these days against us and the church of God, at the hands of those desperate men at Basel, except that what was then done by pagans ignorant of the true God is now the work of men who have known him and hated him Their pride, then, according to the prophet, is ever rising, all the more dangerously in that it is under the cloak of reform, which in truth they have always abhorred, that they spread their poisons.
In the first place, those who were the authors of all the scandals in Basel have failed in their promises to the Greeks. For they knew from the envoys of the Greeks and the eastern church that our most dear son in Christ John Palaeologus, illustrious emperor of the Romans, and Joseph, patriarch of Constantinople of happy memory, and the other prelates and persons of the eastern church wished to proceed to the place which had been legally chosen for the ecumenical council by our legates and presidents and other notable persons present there, whose right it was to choose the site in accordance with the agreement which had been approved by the common consent of the council after serious disagreements among its members. Whereupon we, for our part, confirmed the choice of place in a general consistory at Bologna and we sent to Constantinople, at great labour and expense, the galleys and other things necessary for this holy work of union.
When they learnt of this, they dared to decree against us and the aforesaid cardinals a detestable admonition or citation, so as to block the holy work, [and to send it to the aforesaid emperor and patriarch of Constantinople, so that they and all others] might be deterred from coming. Yet they knew full well that there was no chance of them going to any place other than the one which had been chosen for the site, as stated above.
Then, when they realized that the aforesaid emperor and patriarch and others were already on their way to us for this work of holy union, they tried to lay another wicked snare to catch this divine project. That is, they produced against us a sacrilegious sentence of suspension from the administration of the papacy. Finally, those leaders of scandal, very few in number, most of them of the lowest rank and reputation, in their intense hatred of true peace, piling iniquity on top of iniquity lest they should enter into the justice of the Lord, when they saw that the grace of the holy Spirit was working in us towards union with the Greeks, swerving away from the straight line into paths of error, held a so-called session on 16 May last asserting that they were obeying certain decrees, although these were passed at Constance by only one of the three obediences after the flight of John XXIII, as he was called in that one obedience, at a time of schism.
Alleging obedience to those decrees, they proclaimed three propositions which they term truths of the faith, seemingly to make heretics of us and all princes and prelates and other faithful and devout adherents of the apostolic see. The propositions are the following.
"The truth about the authority of a general council, representing the universal church, over a pope and anyone else whatsoever, declared by the general councils of Constance and this one of Basel, is a truth of the catholic faith. The truth that a pope cannot by any authority, without its consent, dissolve a general council representing the universal church, legitimately assembled for the reasons given in the above-mentioned truth or for any of them, or prorogue it to another time or transfer it from place to place, is a truth of the catholic faith. Anyone who persists in opposing the aforesaid truths is to be considered a heretic."
In this, those utterly pernicious men, masking their malice with the rosy colour of a truth of the faith, gave to the council of Constance an evil and mischievous meaning completely opposed to its true teaching, imitating in this the teaching of other schismatics and heretics who always amass for their support fabricated errors and impious dogmas drawn from their perverse interpretation of the divine scriptures and the holy fathers.
Finally, completely perverting their mind and turning away their eyes from looking to heaven or remembering righteous judgments, after the manner of Dioscorus and the infamous synod of Ephesus, they proceeded to a declaratory sentence of deprivation, as they claimed, from the dignity and office of the supreme apostolate, a poisonous and execrable pronouncement involving an unforgivable crime. Here we will take the tenor of that sentence, abhorrent to every pious mind, as sufficiently expressed. They omitted nothing, as far as was in their power, that might overthrow this incomparable good of union.
O miserable and degenerate sons! O wicked and adulterous generation! What could be more cruel than this impiety and iniquity? Can anything more detestable, more dreadful and more mad be imagined? Earlier on they were the ones who said that nothing better, nothing more glorious and fruitful had ever been seen or heard of in the Christian people, from the very birth of the church, than this most holy union, and that to further it there should be no contention about the place, but rather to achieve it the wealth of this world as well as body and soul should be hazarded, proclaiming this aloud to the whole world and urging the Christian people to it, as their decrees and letters fully state. But now they persecute exactly this as furiously and as impiously as they can, so that the devils of the entire world seem to have flocked together to that conventicle of brigands at Basel.
So far almighty God has not allowed their iniquity and its lying inconsistencies to prevail. But seeing that they are striving with all their strength to bring it to success, even to the point of setting up the abomination of desolation in God's church, we can in no way pretend to ignore these things without most serious offence to God and imminent danger of confusion and abomination in God's church. In keeping with our pastoral office, at the urging of many who are fired with zeal for God, we wish to put a stop to such evils and, as far as we can, to take appropriate and salutary measures to eliminate from God's church this execrable impiety and most destructive pestilence.
Following in the steps of our predecessors who, as Pope Nicholas of holy memory writes, were accustomed to annul councils which had been conducted improperly, even those of universal pontiffs, as occurred at the second universal synod at Ephesus, inasmuch as the blessed pope Leo summoned it but later established the council of Chalcedon.
We renew by our apostolic authority, with the approval of this holy council of Florence, the solemn and salutary decree against those sacrilegious men, which was issued by us in the sacred general council of Ferrara on 15 February. By that decree we declared among other things, with the approval of the said sacred council of Ferrara, that each and every person at Basel who, in the name of a pretended council which we called more accurately a conventicle, dared to perpetrate those scandalous and wicked deeds in contravention of our translation and declaration, whether they are cardinals, patriarchs, archbishops, bishops, abbots or of some other ecclesiastical or secular dignity, has incurred the penalties of excommunication, privation of dignities, benefices and offices and disqualification for the future, which are instanced in our letter of translation.
Now we decree and declare again that all the things done or attempted by those impious men presently in Basel, which were mentioned in our said decree of Ferrara, and each and all of the things done, performed or attempted by the same men since then, especially in the two so-called sessions or rather conspiracies which have just been mentioned, and whatever may have followed from these things or from any of them, or may follow in the future, as coming from impious men who have no authority and have been rejected and reprobated by God, were and are null, quashed, invalid, presumptuous and of no effect, force or moment.
With the approval of the sacred council we condemn and reject, and we proclaim as condemned and rejected, those propositions quoted above as understood in the perverse sense of the men at Basel, which they demonstrate by their deeds, as contrary to the sound sense of sacred scripture, the holy fathers and the council of Constance itself; and likewise the aforesaid so-called sentence of declaration or deprivation, with all its present and future consequences, as impious and scandalous and tending to open schism in God's church and to the confusion of all ecclesiastical order and Christian government. Also, we decree and declare that all of the aforesaid persons have been and are schismatics and heretics, And that as such they are assuredly to be punished with suitable penalties over and above the penalties imposed at the aforesaid council of Ferrara, together with all their supporters and abettors, of whatever ecclesiastical or secular status, condition or rank they may be, even cardinals, patriarchs, archbishops, bishops or abbots or those of any other dignity, so that they may receive their deserts with the aforesaid Korah, Dathan and Abiram Let nobody therefore ... If anyone however ...
SESSION 8 22 November 1439
[Bull of union with the Armenians]
Eugenius, bishop, servant of the servants of God, for an everlasting record. All people everywhere who go by the name of Christian: Exult in God our helper, rejoice in the God of Jacob. Behold the Lord once again, mindful of his mercy had deigned to remove from his church another stumbling block which has endured for more than nine centuries. He who makes peace in the heavens and is peace on earth for people of good will, has granted in his inexpressible mercy that most desired union with the Armenians. Blessed be the God and Father of our lord Jesus Christ, the father of mercies and God of all comfort, who comforts us in all our tribulation. For the most merciful Lord, seeing his church buffeted about by strong whirlwinds, some times at the hands of those who are outside, at other times at the hands of those within, deigns in many ways every day to console and strengthen her so that she may be able to breathe freely in the midst of her troubles and to rise more robust to resist.
Some time ago God established that great union with the Greeks, who include many races and tongues spread far and wide. Today God has confirmed in the same bond of faith and charity with the apostolic see this union with the Armenians, who are a very numerous people spread over the north and east. These indeed are such great and wondrous benefactions of divine providence that the human mind cannot render worthy thanks for either of them, still less for both together. Who would not be overwhelmed with admiration at the achievement in this council, within so short a time, of two such brilliant feats which have been longed for over centuries ? Truly this is the Lord's doing and it is wonderful in our eyes. For how could human prudence or diligence have brought to completion such great exploits as these are, unless the favour of God had given them their beginning and end? Let us, then, together and with all our hearts bless the Lord who alone does great wonders, let us sing with the spirit, let us sing with our minds and our mouths and let us give thanks in deeds, as far as human weakness allows, for such great gifts. Let us pray and beseech that, as the Greeks and the Armenians have been made one with the Roman church, so also may other nations be, especially those signed with the seal of Christ, and that finally the whole Christian people, after all hatreds and wars have been extinguished, may rest and rejoice together in mutual peace and brotherly love. Rightly we hold that the Armenians deserve great praise. As soon as they were invited by us to this synod, in their eagerness for ecclesiastical unity, at the cost of many labours and much toil and perils at sea, they sent to us and this council from very distant parts, their notable, dedicated and learned envoys with sufficient powers to accept, namely whatever the holy Spirit should inspire this holy synod to achieve.
We, for our part, with all our attention as befits our pastoral office and desiring to bring this holy work to a successful conclusion, frequently conversed with their envoys about this holy union. To avoid even the slightest delay in this holy project, we nominated from every rank of this sacred council experts in divine and human law to treat of the matter with the envoys with all care, study and diligence, closely inquiring of them about their faith in respect of the unity of the divine essence and the Trinity of divine persons, also about the humanity of our lord Jesus Christ, the seven sacraments of the church and other points concerning the orthodox faith and the rites of the universal church.
So, after many debates, conferences and disputations, after a thorough examination of the written authorities which were produced from fathers and doctors of the church, and after discussion of the questions at issue, at length, so that in future there could be no doubt about the truth of the faith of the Armenians and that they should think in every way like the apostolic see and that the union should be stable and lasting with no cause for hesitation whatsoever we judged it advantageous, with the approval of this sacred council of Florence and the agreement of the said envoys, to give in this decree a summary of the truth of the orthodox faith that the Roman church professes about the above.
In the first place, then, we give them the holy creed issued by the hundred and fifty bishops in the ecumenical council of Constantinople, with the added phrase and the Son, which for the sake of declaring the truth and from urgent necessity was licitly and reasonably added to that creed, which runs as follows: I believe . . . I We decree that this holy creed should be sung or read within the mass at least on Sundays and greater feasts, as is the Latin custom, in all Armenian churches.
In the second place, we give them the definition of the fourth council of Chalcedon about two natures in the one person of Christ, which was later renewed in the fifth and sixth universal councils. It runs as follows: This wise and saving creed ... Thirdly, the definition about the two wills and two principles of action of Christ promulgated in the above-mentioned sixth council, the tenor of which is This pious and orthodox creed, and the rest which follows in the above-mentioned definition of the council of Chalcedon until the end, after which it continues thus: And we proclaim
Fourth, apart from the three synods of Nicaea, Constantinople and the first of Ephesus, the Armenians have accepted no other later universal synods nor the most blessed Leo, bishop of this holy see, by whose authority the council of Chalcedon met. For they claim that it was proposed to them that both the synod of Chalcedon and the said Leo had made the definition in accordance with the condemned heresy of Nestorius. So we instructed them and declared that such a suggestion was false and that the synod of Chalcedon and blessed Leo holily and rightly defined the truth of two natures in the one person of Christ, described above, against the impious tenets of Nestorius and Eutyches. We commanded that for the future they should hold and venerate the most blessed Leo, who was a veritable pillar of the faith and replete with all sanctity and doctrine, as a saint deservedly inscribed in the calendar of the saints; and that they should reverence and respect, like the rest of the faithful, not only the three above-mentioned synods but also all other universal synods legitimately celebrated by the authority of the Roman pontiff.
Fifthly, for the easier instruction of the Armenians of today and in the future we reduce the truth about the sacraments of the church to the following brief scheme. There are seven sacraments of the new Law, namely baptism, confirmation, Eucharist, penance, extreme unction, orders and matrimony, which differ greatly from the sacraments of the old Law. The latter were not causes of grace, but only prefigured the grace to be given through the passion of Christ; whereas the former, ours, both contain grace and bestow it on those who worthily receive them. The first five of these are directed to the spiritual perfection of each person in himself, the last two to the regulation and increase of the whole church.
For, by baptism we are reborn spiritually; by confirmation we grow in grace and are strengthened in faith. Once reborn and strengthened, we are nourished by the food of the divine Eucharist. But if through sin we incur an illness of the soul, we are cured spiritually by penance. Spiritually also and bodily as suits the soul, by extreme unction. By orders the church is governed and spiritually multiplied; by matrimony it grows bodily.
All these sacraments are made up of three elements: namely, things as the matter, words as the form, and the person of the minister who confers the sacrament with the intention of doing what the church does. If any of these is lacking, the sacrament is not effected.
Three of the sacraments, namely baptism, confirmation and orders, imprint indelibly on the soul a character, that is a kind of stamp which distinguishes it from the rest. Hence they are not repeated in the same person. The other four, however, do not imprint a character and can be repeated.
Holy baptism holds the first place among all the sacraments, for it is the gate of the spiritual life; through it we become members of Christ and of the body of the church. Since death came into the world through one person, unless we are born again of water and the spirit, we cannot, as Truth says, enter the kingdom of heaven. The matter of this sacrament is true and natural water, either hot or cold. The form is: I baptize you in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the holy Spirit. But we do not deny that true baptism is conferred by the following words: May this servant of Christ be baptized in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the holy Spirit; or, This person is baptized by my hands in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the holy Spirit. Since the holy Trinity is the principle cause from which baptism has its power and the minister is the instrumental cause who exteriorly bestows the sacrament, the sacrament is conferred if the action is performed by the minister with the invocation of the holy Trinity. The minister of this sacrament is a priest, who is empowered to baptize in virtue of his office. But in case of necessity not only a priest or a deacon, but even a lay man or a woman, even a pagan and a heretic, can baptize provided he or she uses the form of the church and intends to do what the church does. The effect of this sacrament is the remission of all original and actual guilt, also of all penalty that is owed for that guilt. Hence no satisfaction for past sins is to be imposed on the baptized, but those who die before they incur any guilt go straight to the kingdom of heaven and the vision of God.
The second sacrament is confirmation. Its matter is chrism made from oil and balsam blessed by a bishop, the oil symbolizing the gleaming brightness of conscience and balsam symbolizing the odour of a good reputation. The form is: I sign you with the sign of the cross and I confirm you with the chrism of salvation in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the holy Spirit. The ordinary minister is a bishop. Whereas a simple priest can use other unctions, only a bishop ought to confer this one, because it is said only of the apostles, whose place is held by bishops, that they gave the holy Spirit by the imposition of hands, as this text from the Acts of the Apostles shows: Now when the apostles at Jerusalem heard that Samaria had received the word of God, they sent to them Peter and John, who came down and prayed for them that they might receive the holy Spirit; for it had not yet come down upon any of them, but they had only been baptized in the name of the lord Jesus. Then they laid their hands on them and they received the holy Spirit'. In place of this imposition of hands confirmation is given in the church. We read that sometimes for a reasonable and really urgent cause, by dispensation of the apostolic see, a simple priest has conferred this sacrament of confirmation with chrism prepared by a bishop. The effect of this sacrament is that a Christian should boldly confess the name of Christ, since the holy Spirit is given in this sacrament for strengthening just as he was given to the apostles on the day of Pentecost. Therefore the candidate is enjoined on the forehead, which is the seat of shame, not to shrink from confessing the name of Christ and especially his cross, which is a stumbling block for Jews and a folly for gentiles, according to the Apostle, and for this reason he is signed with the sign of the cross. The third is the sacrament of the Eucharist. Its matter is wheat bread and wine from the vine, to which a very little water is added before the consecration. Water is added thus because it is believed, in accordance with the testimony of holy fathers and doctors of the church manifested long ago in disputation, that the Lord himself instituted this sacrament in wine mixed with water, and because it befits the representation of the Lord's passion. For the blessed pope Alexander, fifth after blessed Peter, says: "In the oblations of the sacraments which are offered to the Lord within the solemnities of masses, only bread and wine mixed with water are to be offered in sacrifice. There should not be offered in the chalice of the Lord either wine only or water only but both mixed together, because both blood and water are said to have flowed from Christ's side'; also because it is fitting to signify the effect of this sacrament, which is the union of the Christian people with Christ. For, water signifies the people according to those words of the Apocalypse: many waters, many peoples. And Pope Julius, second after blessed Silvester, said: The chalice of the Lord, by a precept of the canons, should be offered mixed of wine and water, because we see that the people is understood in the water and the blood of Christ is manifested in the wine; hence when wine and water are mingled in the chalice, the people are made one with Christ and the mass of the faithful are linked and joined together with him in whom they believe. Since, therefore, both the holy Roman church taught by the most blessed apostles Peter and Paul and the other churches of Latins and Greeks, in which the lights of all sanctity and doctrine have shone brightly, have behaved in this way from the very beginning of the growing church and still do so, it seems very unfitting that any other region should differ from this universal and reasonable observance. We decree, therefore, that the Armenians should conform themselves with the whole Christian world and that their priests shall mix a little water with the wine in the oblation of the chalice, as has been said. The form of this sacrament are the words of the Saviour with which he effected this sacrament. A priest speaking in the person of Christ effects this sacrament. For, in virtue of those words, the substance of bread is changed into the body of Christ and the substance of wine into his blood. In such wise, however, that the whole Christ is contained both under the form of bread and under the form of wine, under any part of the consecrated host as well as after division of the consecrated wine, there is the whole Christ. The effect of this sacrament, which is produced in the soul of one who receives it worthily, is the union of him or her with Christ. Since by grace a person is incorporated in Christ and is united with his members, the consequence is that grace is increased by this sacrament in those who receive it worthily, and that every effect that material food and drink produce for corporal life -- sustaining, increasing, repairing and delighting -- this sacrament works for spiritual life. For in it, as Pope Urban said, we recall the gracious memory of our Saviour, we are withdrawn from evil, we are strengthened in good and we receive an increase of virtues and graces.
The fourth sacrament is penance. Its matter is the acts of the penitent, which are threefold. The first is contrition of heart, which includes sorrow for sin committed, with the resolve not to sin again. The second is oral confession, which implies integral confession to the priest of all sins that are remembered. The third is satisfaction for sins in accordance with the judgment of the priest which is ordinarily done by prayer, fasting and almsgiving. The form of this sacrament are the words of absolution which the priest pronounces when he says: I absolve you. The minister of this sacrament is a priest with authority to absolve, which is either ordinary or by commission of a superior.
The fifth sacrament is extreme unction. Its matter is olive oil blessed by a priest. This sacrament should not be given to the sick unless death is expected. The person is to be anointed on the following places: on the eyes for sight, on the ears for hearing, on the nostrils for smell, on the mouth for taste or speech, on the hands for touch, on the feet for walking, on the loins for the pleasure that abides there. The form of this sacrament is: Through this anointing and his most pious mercy may the Lord pardon you whatever you have done wrong by sight, and similarly for the other members. The minister of the sacrament is a priest. Its effect is to cure the mind and, in so far as it helps the soul, also the body. Blessed James the apostle said of this sacrament: Any one of you who is sick should send for the elders of the church, and they shall pray over him and anoint him with oil in the name of the Lord. The prayer of faith will save the sick person and the Lord will raise him up again: and if he is in sins, they will be forgiven him.
The sixth is the sacrament of orders. Its matter is the object by whose handing over the order is conferred. So the priesthood is bestowed by the handing over of a chalice with wine and a paten with bread; the diaconate by the giving of the book of the gospels; the subdiaconate by the handing over of an empty chalice with an empty paten on it; and similarly for the other orders by allotting things connected with their ministry. The form for a priest is: Receive the power of offering sacrifice in the church for the living and the dead, in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the holy Spirit. The forms for the other orders are contained in full in the Roman pontifical. The ordinary minister of this sacrament is a bishop. The effect is an increase of grace to make the person a suitable minister of Christ.
The seventh is the sacrament of matrimony, which is a sign of the union of Christ and the church according to the words of the apostle: This sacrament is a great one, but I speak in Christ and in the church. The efficient cause of matrimony is usually mutual consent expressed in words about the present. A threefold good is attributed to matrimony. The first is the procreation and bringing up of children for the worship of God. The second is the mutual faithfulness of the spouses towards each other. The third is the indissolubility of marriage, since it signifies the indivisible union of Christ and the church. Although separation of bed is lawful on account of fornication, it is not lawful to contract another marriage, since the bond of a legitimately contracted marriage is perpetual.
Sixthly, we offer to the envoys that compendious rule of the faith composed by most blessed Athanasius, which is as follows:
Whoever wills to be saved, before all things it is necessary that he holds the catholic faith. Unless a person keeps this faith whole and undefiled, without doubt he shall perish eternally. The catholic faith is this, that we worship one God in the Trinity, and the Trinity in unity, neither confounding the persons nor dividing the substance. For there is one person of the Father, another of the Son, and another of the holy Spirit. But the Godhead of the Father, of the Son and of the holy Spirit is one, the glory equal, and the majesty co-eternal. Such as the Father is, such is the Son, and such is the holy Spirit. The Father uncreated the Son uncreated and the holy Spirit uncreated. The Father infinite, the Son infinite and the holy Spirit infinite. The Father eternal, the Son eternal and the holy Spirit eternal. Yet they are not three eternals, but one eternal. As also they are not three uncreateds nor three infinites, but one uncreated and one infinite. Likewise the Father is almighty, the Son is almighty and the holy Spirit is almighty. Yet they are not three almighties, but one almighty. Likewise the Father is God, the Son is God and the holy Spirit is God. Yet they are not three gods, but one God. Likewise the Father is Lord, the Son is Lord and the holy Spirit is Lord. Yet they are not three lords, but one Lord. For just as we are compelled by the Christian truth to acknowledge each person by himself to be God and Lord, so we are forbidden by the catholic religion to say there are three gods or three lords. The Father is made by none, neither created nor begotten. The Son is from the Father alone; not made nor created, but begotten. The holy Spirit is from the Father and the Son; not made nor created nor begotten, but proceeding. So there is one Father, not three fathers; one Son, not three sons; one holy Spirit, not three holy spirits. And in this Trinity nothing is before or after, nothing is greater or less; but the whole three persons are co-eternal together and co-equal. So that in all things, as has been said above, the unity in Trinity and the Trinity in unity is to be worshipped. Whoever, therefore, wishes to be saved, let him think thus of the Trinity.
It is also necessary for salvation to believe faithfully the incarnation of our lord Jesus Christ. The right faith, therefore, is that we believe and confess that our lord Jesus Christ, Son of God, is God and man. God, of the substance of the Father, begotten before the ages; and man, of the substance of his mother, born in the world. Perfect God, perfect man, subsisting of a rational soul and human flesh. Equal to the Father according to his Godhead, less than the Father according to his humanity. Although he is God and man, he is not two, but one Christ. One, however, not by conversion of the Godhead into flesh, but by the taking of humanity into God. One altogether, not by confusion of substance, but by unity of person. For as a reasoning soul and flesh is one man, so God and man is one Christ. He suffered for our salvation and descended into hell. On the third day he rose from the dead. He ascended into heaven and sits at the right hand of God the Father almighty. Thence he shall come to judge the living and the dead. At his coming all shall rise again with their bodies, and shall give an account of their own deeds. Those who have done good shall go into eternal life, but those who have done evil shall go into eternal fire.
This is the catholic faith. Unless a person believes it faithfully and firmly, he cannot be saved.
Seventhly, the decree of union concluded with the Greeks, which was promulgated earlier in this sacred ecumenical council of Florence and which is as follows: Let the heavens be glad . . . '
Eighthly, there was discussion with the Armenians about, among other things, the days on which the following feasts should be kept: the annunciation of the blessed virgin Mary, the birth of blessed John the Baptist and, in consequence, the birth and the circumcision of our lord Jesus Christ and his presentation in the temple (or the purification of the blessed virgin Mary). The truth was made quite clear by the testimonies of fathers and by the custom of the Roman church and all other churches among Latins and Greeks. Therefore, lest the rites of Christians be at variance in such great celebrations, whence a threat to charity could arise, we decree that, as something consonant with truth and reason, the Armenians too should solemnly celebrate, according to the observance of the rest of the world, the following feasts on the following days: the annunciation of the blessed virgin Mary on 25 March, the birth of blessed John the Baptist on 24 June, the birth of our Saviour on 25 December, his circumcision on 1 January, the epiphany on 6 January, and the presentation of our Lord in the temple (or the purification of the mother of God) on 2 February.
After all these matters had been explained, the aforesaid Armenians, in their own name and in the name of their patriarch and of all Armenians, with all devotion and obedience accept, admit and embrace this salutary synodal decree with all its chapters, declarations, definitions, traditions, precepts and statutes and all the doctrine contained in it, and also whatever the holy apostolic see and the Roman church holds and teaches. They also accept with reverence all those doctors and holy fathers approved by the Roman church. Indeed, they hold as reprobated and condemned whatever persons and things the Roman church reprobates and condemns. They promise that as true sons of obedience, in the name as above, they will faithfully obey the ordinances and commands of the apostolic see.
When the aforesaid decree had been solemnly read out in our and the holy synod's presence, straightaway our beloved son Narses, an Armenian, in the name of the said envoys, publicly recited the following in Armenian and thereupon our beloved son Basil of the order of friars Minor, the interpreter between us and the Armenians, publicly read it out in Latin as follows.
Most blessed father and most holy synod. Recently the whole of this holy decree, which has now been read out in Latin in your presence, was clearly explained and interpreted to us word by word in our language. It was and is completely acceptable to us. To disclose our understanding more fully, however, we repeat its contents in summary.
The following is contained in it. First, you give to our people of the Armenians the holy creed of Constantinople, with the added phrase and the Son, to be sung or read within the mass in our churches at least on Sundays and greater feasts. Secondly, the definition of the fourth universal council of Chalcedon about two natures in the one person of Christ. Thirdly, the definition about the two wills and principles of action of Christ which was promulgated in the sixth universal council.
Fourthly, you declare that the synod of Chalcedon and most blessed pope Leo rightly defined the truth about two natures in the one person of Christ against the impious doctrines of Nestorius and Eutyches. You order that we should venerate most blessed Leo as holy and a pillar of the faith and that we should reverently accept not only the synods of Nicaea, Constantinople and the first of Ephesus, but also all other synods legitimately celebrated . . authority of the Roman pontiff.
Fifthly, a short scheme of the seven sacraments of the church, namely baptism, confirmation, Eucharist, penance, extreme unction, orders and matrimony indicating the matter, the form and the minister of each; and that while the chalice is being offered in the sacrifice of the altar a little water should be mixed with the wine.
Sixthly, a compendious rule of the faith of most blessed Athanasius, which begins: Whoever wills to be saved etc.
Seventhly, the decree of union concluded with the Greeks, which was promulgated earlier in this sacred council, recording how the holy Spirit proceeds eternally from the Father and the Son, and that the phrase and the Son was licitly and reasonably added to the creed of Constantinople. Also that the body of the Lord is effected in leavened or unleavened wheat bread; and what is to be believed about the pains of purgatory and hell, about the life of the blessed and about suffrages offered for the dead. In addition, about the plenitude of power of the apostolic see given by Christ to blessed Peter and his successors, . . . . . about the order of the patriarchal sees.
Eighthly, you decree that the following feasts should be kept on the following days, in accordance with the custom of the universal church: the annunciation of the blessed virgin Mary on 25 March, the birth of blessed John the Baptist on 24 June, the birth of our Saviour on 25 December, his circumcision on I January, the epiphany on 6 January, and the presentation of the Lord in the temple (or the purification of blessed Mary) on 2 February.
Therefore we envoys, in our own name and in the name of our reverend patriarch and of all Armenians, with all devotion and obedience accept, admit and embrace, just as your holiness affirms in the decree, this most salutary synodal decree with all its chapters, declarations, definitions, traditions, precepts and statutes and all the doctrine contained in it, and also whatever the holy apostolic see and the Roman church holds and teaches. We accept with reverence all those doctors and holy fathers approved by the Roman church. Indeed we hold as reprobated and condemned whatever persons and things the Roman church reprobates and condemns. We promise that as true sons of obedience, in the name of the above, we will faithfully obey the ordinances and commands of this apostolic see.
SESSION 9 23 March 1440
[Monition of the council of Florence against the antipope Felix V]
Eugenius, bishop, servant of the servants of God, for an everlasting record. Many examples of holy fathers of the old and the new Testament warn us that we should not pass over in silence or leave completely unpunished specially grave crimes which lead to the scandal and public division of the people entrusted to us. For if we delay to pursue and avenge what is grievously offensive to God, we thereby provoke the divine patience to wrath. For, there are sins for which it is a sin to be slack about their retribution. It is indeed right and eminently reasonable, in the opinion of holy fathers, that those who despise divine commands and disobey paternal enactments should be corrected with really severe penalties, so that others may fear to commit the same faults and that all may rejoice in fraternal harmony and take note of the example of severity and probity. For if -- though may it never be -- we are negligent about ecclesiastical vigilance and activity, idleness ruins discipline and the souls of the faithful will suffer great harm. Therefore, rotting flesh should be cut away and mangy sheep driven out
He cannot have God as his father If he does not hold the unity of the church i he who does not agree with the body of the church and the whole brotherhood, cannot agree with anyone. Since Christ suffered for the church and since the church is the body of Christ, without doubt the person who divides the church is convicted of lacerating the body of Christ. Hence the avenging will of the Lord went forth against schismatics like Korah, Dathan and Abiram, who were swallowed up together by an opening in the ground for instigating schism against Moses, the man of God, and others were consumed by fire from heaven; idolatry indeed was punished by the sword; and the burning of the book was requited by the slaughter of war and imprisonment in exile.
Finally, how indivisible is the sacrament of unity! How bereft of hope, and how punished by God's indignation with the direst loss, are those who produce schism and, abandoning the true spouse of the church, set up a pseudo-bishop! Divine scripture declares this in the book of Kings, which says that when ten tribes had separated themselves from the tribe of Judah and Benjamin and abandoned their king, setting up for themselves another king: the Lord was indignant with all the descendants of Israel and gave them over to destruction till he cast them away from his face. It says that the Lord was indignant and gave over to destruction those who split off from unity and set up for themselves another king. Indeed, so great was the wrath of God against those who had brought about a schism that even when the man of God had been sent to Jeroboam to reprove his sins and to predict a future vengeance, the man of God was forbidden to eat bread with them or to drink water and when he did not obey this order of the Lord and dined, straightaway the divine retribution struck him and he was killed by a lion on his return journey. Hence, as blessed Jerome declares, nobody should doubt that the crime of schism is very wicked since it is avenged so severely.
In days gone by, in the holy general council of Constance, that chronic and disastrous schism, which had cruelly and daily afflicted God's church and the Christian religion with great loss of souls, not only of individual persons but also in entire cities and provinces, was at last settled by the ineffable mercy of God and the unbounded labours and hardships of many kings and princes, both ecclesiastical and secular, many universities and others of Christ's faithful, and at great expense. With the election of lord Martin of happy memory and, after his death, the undisputed, genuine, unanimous and canonical elevation of your holiness to the summit of the apostolate, the universal church seemed to be enjoying a greatly desired peace. But behold! Again we are compelled with copious tears to say with Jeremiah the prophet: we looked for peace, but behold disturbance. And again with Isaiah: we looked for light, but behold darkness. Some sons of perdition and disciples of iniquity, who were few in numbers and of little authority, tried at Basel with all their strength, guile and cunning, even after the translation of the former council which had been made canonically and legitimately by your holiness for just, evident, urgent and necessary reasons, to prevent the most holy union with the Greeks and the whole eastern church, which was ardently desired by the whole Christian people.
For after the said authors of the scandals who remained in Basel had failed to fulfil their promise to the Greeks, when they learnt from the envoys of the Greeks and the eastern church that the most serene prince lord John Palaeologus, emperor of the Romans, and Joseph, patriarch of Constantinople of happy memory, with many other prelates and men of the eastern church were about to come to the place chosen for the ecumenical council, and that your holiness had dispatched many prelates and envoys with galleys at great expense and outlay, they dared to decree, with a view to preventing the arrival of the said emperor and Greeks, a detestable monition against your holiness and my most reverend lords, the lord cardinals of the holy Roman church.
Afterwards, when they learnt that the said emperor and patriarch and other easterners were coming, they issued against your holiness a kind of sacrilegious decree of suspension from the administration of the papacy.
Despite these and other wicked attempts and sacrilegious acts, on account of the constant solicitude displayed by you and this sacred council and after great labours and many disputations, at last the divine mercy granted that the above-mentioned schism of the Greeks and the eastern church, which had lasted for almost five hundred years to the great harm of the whole Christian people, should be removed from the midst of the church and that the most desired union of the western and the eastern church, which was hardly thought possible, should follow with the utmost harmony from your and this sacred council's holy work. This ought to be greatly admired and venerated with the highest praise and the joy of exultation, as all the rest of the Christian religion had done, and thanks should be returned to the most High for so admirable a gift. But they became more hard-hearted and obstinate, preferring even at the cost of ruining the whole Christian world to fan into flames the conflagration, which they had already begun, of their aforesaid most wicked monster. They adopted an attitude of opposition and, prodigal of their good name and enemies to their own honour, they strove to their utmost with pestilential daring to rend the unity of the holy Roman and universal church and the seamless robe of Christ', and with serpentlike bites to lacerate the womb of the pious and holy mother herself.
The leader and prince of these men and the architect of the whole nefarious deed was that first-born son of Satan, the most unfortunate Amadeus, once duke and prince of Savoy. He meditated this scheme for long. Several years ago, as is widely said, he was seduced by the trickery, soothsayings and phantoms of certain unfortunate men and women of low reputation (commonly called wizards or witches or Waldensians and said to be very numerous in his country), who had forsaken their Saviour to turn backwards to Satan and be deceived by demonic illusions, to have himself raised up to be a monstrous head in God's church. He adopted the cloak of a hermit, or rather of a most false hypocrite, so that in sheep's clothing, like a lamb he might assume the ferocity of a wolf. Eventually he joined the people at Basel. By force, fraud, bribery, promises and threats he prevailed on the majority of those at Basel, who were subject to his sway and tyranny, to proclaim him as an idol and Beelzebub, the prince of these new demons, in opposition to your holiness, the true vicar of Christ and the undoubted successor of Peter in God's church.
Thus that most ill-starred Amadeus, a man of insatiable and unheard of greed, whom avarice (which, according to the Apostle, is the service of idols) has always blinded, was set up as an idol and like a statue of Nebuchadnezzar in God's church by that most wicked synagogue, those offscourings of forsaken men, that shameful cesspool of all Christianity, from among whom certain heinous men, or rather demons hiding under the form of men, had been deputed as electors or rather as profaners. He himself, agitated by the furies of his own crimes and sinking into the depth of all evils, said after the manner of Lucifer: I will set my throne in the north and I shall be like the most High. He grasped with avid and detestable greed at the above-mentioned election, or rather profanation made of him, which he had earlier sought with intense fever of mind and anguish of heart. He did not shrink from adopting and wearing papal robes, ornaments and insignia, from behaving, holding himself and acting as Roman and supreme pontiff, and from having himself venerated as such by the people. Further, he was not afraid to write and despatch to many parts of the world letters which were sealed with a leaden seal after the manner of the Roman pontiffs. By these letters, in which he calls himself Felix even though he is the most unhappy of mortals, he tries to spread the poisons of his faction among the people of Christ.
What complaint or accusation am I to make first, most blessed father and most holy synod? With what force of speech, grief of mind or outpouring of words am I to deplore so great a crime? What rich discourse could suitably bewail or express this most foul deed? Assuredly no account can equal the grossness of the act, for the magnitude of so heinous a crime transcends the power of speech.
But, as I see it, most blessed father and most reverend and reverend fathers, now is the hour not for lament but for remedy.
For behold, holy mother church was basking in true unity and peace, in the person of your holiness her undoubted spouse, when the fountain of tears was opened. To you, her spouse, and to you most reverend and reverend fathers, who share in solicitude and have been summoned to this sacred and ecumenical council, she is forced to cry and shout with many sighs and sobs: Have pity on me, have pity on me, at least you my fiends'. For my bowels are full of bitterness. For the foxes destroy the vineyard of the God of hosts, and the impious rend the seamless robe of Christ. Let God therefore arise, let all his enemies be scattered. And you, most blessed father, since all these things are so manifest, public and notorious that they cannot be hidden by any evasion or defended by excuses, arise in the power of the most High, together with this sacred council, and judge the cause of your spouse and be mindful of your sons. Gird your sword upon your thigh, O mighty one. Set out, proceed prosperously and reign, and say with the psalmist: I will pursue my enemies and crush them, and I shall not return until I consume them. I shall consume and crush them and they will not rise; they will fall at my feet. For it is wrong that so wicked a deed and so detestable a precedent should be allowed to pass by disguised, lest perhaps unpunished daring and malice find an imitator, but rather let the example of punished trangressions deter others from offending.
Therefore your holiness and this sacred synod, following the example of Moses the man of God, must say to the whole Christian people: Depart from the tents of these impious men. Follow also the example of blessed pope Leo, your predecessor, who moved the second council of Ephesus and Dioscorus with his supporters to Chalcedon, where he instituted a synod which condemned them, and of your other predecessors as supreme pontiff, who continuously rising up in God's church have eliminated heresies and schisms, with their instigators, followers and supporters, from the church of God and the communion of the faithful, which is the most sacred body of Christ, and have afflicted them with many other condign penalties at the demand of justice.
With the approval and help of this sacred ecumenical council, avenge with condign penalties this new frenzy which has become inflamed to your injury and that of the holy Roman church, your spouse, and to the notorious scandal of the whole Christian people. By the authority of almighty God and of the blessed apostles Peter and Paul and by your own authority, remove and separate from God's holy church, by a perpetual anathema, the aforesaid wicked perpetrators of this prodigious crime and their unfortunate heresiarch and veritable antichrist in God's church together with all their supporters, adherents and followers and especially his execrable electors or rather profaners.
May he and all the aforesaid be cast out like an antichrist and an invader and a destroyer of the whole of Christianity. Let no appeal in this matter ever be allowed to him or to them. Let them and their posterity and successors be deprived without appeal of every ecclesiastical or secular rank and dignity whatsoever. Let all of them be condemned by a perpetual anathema and excommunication and may they be counted among the wicked who will not rise at the judgment. May they feel the anger of God against them. May they feel the rage of saints Peter and Paul, whose church they dare to throw into confusion, both in this life and in the next. May their dwelling be a desolation, let no one dwell in their tents. May their children be orphans and their wives be widows. May the world fight against them and all the elements be opposed to them, so that they may be cast out, destroyed and eliminated by all and so that, as they grovel in permanent penury, death may deservedly be their refuge and life their punishment. May the merits of all the saints cast them into confusion and display open vengeance on them in their lifetime. May they receive a deserved fate with Korah, Dathan and Abiram. Finally, unless they repent from their hearts, perform deeds worthy of repentance and make worthy satisfaction to your holiness and the universal church for the enormity of their sins, may they be thrust with the wicked into the everlasting darkness, doomed by the just judgment of God to eternal torments.
May the grace of almighty God protect all of us and all Christ's faithful who execrate with merited blasphemies the aforesaid heresiarchs and their abominable idol and antichrist, who acknowledge you as Christ's vicar and spouse of his most worthy church, and who venerate you with devout reverence and constant faith and obedience. By the authority of blessed Peter and Paul and your authority, may we and they be absolved from all bonds of sins, be filled with all blessings on our pilgrimage and finally be led by his ineffable mercy to eternal joys. Amen.
For our part, as soon as we were aware from the reports of trustworthy people that so great an impiety had been committed, we were afflicted with grief and sadness, as was to be expected, both for the great scandal to the church and for the ruin of the souls of its perpetrators, especially Amadeus that antichrist whom we used to embrace in the depths of charity and whose prayers and wishes we always strove to meet in so far as we could in God. Already for some time we had it in mind to provide salutary remedies, in accordance with our pastoral office, against an abomination of this sort. Now, however, challenged publicly before the church to confront these evils, we propose to rise to the defense of the church and tackle this great crime more quickly and more urgently. Therefore, in order that so enormous and execrable a deed may, with the help of God whose cause is at stake, be destroyed from its very roots, we are applying, in conjunction with this holy council and with the least possible delay, a remedy in accordance with the holy canons.
We are aware that the above petition of the promoter and the procurator is just and in conformity with both divine and human law, and although the aforesaid crimes and excesses are so very public and notorious that nothing can conceal them and no further information is required; Nevertheless, for greater precaution and certainly about the above, we commissioned, with the approval of this sacred council, some noteworthy persons from every rank in the council to seek information about the above and to refer their findings to us and the sacred council. Those so commissioned fulfilled their task of investigation with the care demanded by a schismatical depravity of this kind and faithfully reported to us and the sacred council in a synodal congregation what they had found out by the interrogation of trustworthy persons. In such public, manifest and notorious matters, action could have been taken against the said infamous and scandalous men without waiting further, by means of severe penalties in accordance with canonical sanctions. Nevertheless we and this holy synod, imitating the mercy of God who desires not the death of the sinner but rather that he be converted and live, have decided to show all possible mercy and to act, in so far as we can, in such a way that the proposed mildness may recall them to heart and lead them to recoil from the above-mentioned excesses, and so that when at last they return to the bosom of the church like the prodigal son, we may receive them with kindness and embrace them with fatherly love.
Therefore, through the tender mercy of our God and by the shedding of the precious blood of our lord Jesus Christ, in whom and by whom the redemption of the human race and the foundation of holy mother church were effected, from the depths of our hearts we exhort, beg and beseech the antichrist Amadeus and the aforesaid electors, or rather profaners, and whoever else believes in, adheres to, receives or in any way supports him, straightaway to stop violating the church's unity for which the Saviour prayed so earnestly to the Father, and to cease from rending and lacerating the fraternal charity and peace which the same Redeemer, as he was about to leave this world, repeatedly and so insistently commended to his disciples and without which neither prayers nor fasts nor alms are acceptable to God, and utterly to desist as quickly as possible from the aforesaid destructive and scandalous excesses, and so to find with us and this sacred council, if they really obey as they are bound to do, the affection of a father in respect of everything.
However, so that fear of penalties and harshness of discipline may force them if perchance love of justice and virtue does not withdraw them from sin, with the approval of this sacred council we demand and warn the antichrist Amadeus and the aforesaid electors, or rather profaners, and believers, adherents, receivers and supporters, and we strictly enjoin and order him and them in virtue of holy obedience and under the penalties of anathema, heresy, schism and treason which have been inflicted in any ways against such persons, whether by men or by the law:
That within fifty days immediately following the publication of this letter, the antichrist Amadeus should cease from acting any more and designating himself as the Roman pontiff and should not, in so far as he can, allow himself to be held and called such by others, and should not dare hereafter in any way to use papal insignia and other things belonging in any way to the Roman pontiff; And that the aforesaid electors, or rather profaners, and adherents, receivers and supporters should no longer, either in person or through others, directly or indirectly or under any pretext, aid, believe in, adhere to or support the said Amadeus in this crime of schism.
Rather, both Amadeus himself and the aforesaid electors, believers, adherents and supporters should hold, recognize and reverence us as the true Roman pontiff and vicar of Christ and legitimate successor of Peter, and should reverently obey and maintain us as father and pastor of their souls, and should take care legitimately to notify us and this sacred council about these matters within the appointed interval of time, so that no scruple of doubt may remain about their genuine obedience.
If Amadeus and the said electors, believers, adherents, receivers and supporters shall act otherwise -- though may it not be so -- and do not effectively fulfil each and all of the aforesaid points within the appointed time, we wish and decree that from then as from now they automatically incur the stated penalties.
Moreover, on the fifteenth day after the aforesaid interval of time, if it is not a feast, otherwise on the following non-feast day, the aforesaid supporters all together or singly shall appear in person before us and the aforesaid council where we shall then be, to be seen and heard individually and even by name. Thus we now cite them for that day, to be declared schismatics, blasphemers and as heretics, to be punished as traitors, and to have incurred the aforesaid censures and penalties, and others to be inflicted, according as it shall seem good and justice shall persuade:
Notifying the same people and any of them individually, whether or not they come, that if they shall not have shown that they have obeyed, we shall proceed with justice to declaring the aforesaid penalties, notwithstanding their contumacy or absence, with the intention of proceeding further to aggravation and re-aggravation, as the rigour of justice shall demand and their merits require. In order that this monition and citation of ours may be brought to the attention of the authors of their monition and citation and of other interested persons, we shall have sheets of paper or membranes of parchment containing it affixed to the doors or gates of the church of St Mary Novella in Florence, of our palace situated near that church and of the cathedral church of Florence. These will make known this monition as if by a sonorous town-crying and a public notice, in order that after such notification these people may not be able to pretend that it did not reach them or that they were ignorant of it, since it is unlikely that what is made known so obviously to all should remain unknown or hidden to them.
We wish and we decree by our apostolic authority that this our monition promulgated on the said doors and gates shall have as much value and be as immutable and as binding on the said warned people, notwithstanding any contrary constitution, as if it had been intimated and disclosed to each and all of the warned people in person and in their presence.
Finally, lest the aforesaid warned and cited persons allege as a cloak of excuse that the council and the Roman curia, the common fatherland of all, is an unsafe place for them and that, because of the above-mentioned things or other enmities or other reasons, danger threatens them in their coming, staying and returning, we reassure them by this present letter and we require and exhort by the same letter all patriarchs, archbishops, bishops and other prelates of churches and monasteries, clerics and ecclesiastical persons as well as dukes, marquises, princes, rulers, captains and any other officials and their lieutenants, as also the communities and corporations of cities, castles, towns, vills and other places, and we strictly command the patriarchs, archbishops, bishops and other prelates and our other subjects that they are not to inflict any injury or harm on the aforesaid warned persons and their goods and property nor, to the best of their power, to allow such to be inflicted by others. Let nobody therefore . . . If anyone however . . .
SESSION 10 27 May 1440
[Eugenius IV exhorts the members of the synod at Basel to desist from their opposition]
Eugenius, bishop, servant of the servants of God, for an everlasting record. In the opinion of holy fathers, public sinners ought to be publicly censured so that others may stand in fear. Accordingly, we and this sacred council of Florence recently censured and denounced in public before the church, in synodal form, the authors and abettors of the pestilential sin of schism against the holy apostolic see and the holy Roman church, the mother and mistress of all Christians, which was perpetrated by Amadeus, once duke of Savoy, and his accomplices. It would have been in conformity with the sacred canons to have passed a sentence of due severity straightaway on those notoriously sacrilegious persons. However, desiring their conversion and salvation rather than their punishment, we begged, warned and required of them, with all the charity and mildness we could, to reflect and to recoil from such great iniquity, promising them pardon and favour and a father's affection. But if they refused to heed these dutiful admonitions, we decreed that they should be punished with penalties proportionate to so great an outrage, as is contained in the monition promulgated against them, which is as follows.
SESSION 11 4 February 1442
[Bull of union with the Copts]
Eugenius, bishop, servant of the servants of God, for an everlasting record. Sing praises to the Lord for he has done gloriously; let this be known in all the earth. Shout, and sing for joy, O inhabitant of Zion, for great in your midst is the holy one of Israel. To sing and to exult in the Lord certainly befits the church of God for his great magnificence and the glory of his name, which the most merciful God has deigned to bring about on this very day. It is right, indeed, to praise and bless with all our hearts our Saviour, who daily builds up his holy church with new additions. His benefactions to his Christian people are at all times many and great and manifest more clearly than the light of day his immense love for us. Yet if we look more closely at the benefactions which the divine mercy has deigned to effect in most recent times, we shall assuredly be able to judge that in these days of ours the gifts of his love have been more in number and greater in kind than in many past ages.
For in less than three years our lord Jesus Christ by his indefatigable kindness, to the common and lasting joy of the whole of Christianity, has generously effected in this holy ecumenical synod the most salutary union of three great nations. Hence it has come about that nearly the whole of the east that adores the glorious name of Christ and no small part of the north, after prolonged discord with the holy Roman church, have come together in the same bond of faith and love. For first the Greeks and those subject to the four patriarchal sees, which cover many races and nations and tongues, then the Armenians, who are a race of many peoples, and today indeed the Jacobites, who are a great people in Egypt, have been united with the holy apostolic see.
Nothing is more pleasing to our Saviour, the lord Jesus Christ, than mutual love among people and nothing can give more glory to his name and advantage to the church than that Christians, with all discord between them banished, should come together in the same purity of faith. Deservedly all of us ought to sing for joy and to exult in the Lord; we whom the divine clemency has made worthy to see in our days such great splendour of the Christian faith. With the greatest readiness we therefore announce these marvellous facts to the whole Christian world, so that just as we are filled with unspeakable joy for the glory of God and the exaltation of the church, we may make others participate in this great happiness. Thus all of us with one voice may magnify and glorify God and may return abundant and daily thanks, as is fitting, to his majesty for so many and so great marvellous benefits bestowed on his holy church in this age. He who diligently does the work of God not only awaits merit and reward in heaven but also deserves generous glory and praise among people. Therefore we consider that our venerable brother John, patriarch of the Jacobites, whose zeal for this holy union is immense, should deservedly be praised and extolled by us and the whole church and deserves, together with his whole race, the general approval of all Christians. Moved by us, through our envoy and our letter, to send an embassy to us and this sacred synod and to unite himself and his people in the same faith with the Roman church, he sent to us and this synod the beloved son Andrew, an Egyptian, endowed in no mean degree with faith and morals and abbot of the monastery of St Anthony in Egypt, in which St Anthony himself is said to have lived and died. The patriarch, fired with great zeal, ordered and commissioned him reverently to accept, in the name of the patriarch and his Jacobites, the doctrine of the faith that the Roman church holds and preaches, and afterwards to bring this doctrine to the patriarch and the Jacobites so that they might acknowledge and formally approve it and preach it in their lands.
We, therefore, to whom the Lord gave the task of feeding Christ's sheep', had abbot Andrew carefully examined by some outstanding men of this sacred council on the articles of the faith, the sacraments of the church and certain other matters pertaining to salvation. At length, after an exposition of the catholic faith to the abbot, as far as this seemed to be necessary, and his humble acceptance of it, we have delivered in the name of the Lord in this solemn session, with the approval of this sacred ecumenical council of Florence, the following true and necessary doctrine.
First, then, the holy Roman church, founded on the words of our Lord and Saviour, firmly believes, professes and preaches one true God, almighty, immutable and eternal, Father, Son and holy Spirit; one in essence, three in persons; unbegotten Father, Son begotten from the Father, holy Spirit proceeding from the Father and the Son; the Father is not the Son or the holy Spirit, the Son is not the Father or the holy Spirit, the holy Spirit is not the Father or the Son; the Father is only the Father, the Son is only the Son, the holy Spirit is only the holy Spirit. The Father alone from his substance begot the Son; the Son alone is begotten of the Father alone; the holy Spirit alone proceeds at once from the Father and the Son. These three persons are one God not three gods, because there is one substance of the three, one essence, one nature, one Godhead, one immensity, one eternity, and everything is one where the difference of a relation does not prevent this. Because of this unity the Father is whole in the Son, whole in the holy Spirit; the Son is whole in the Father, whole in the holy Spirit; the holy Spirit is whole in the Father, whole in the Son. No one of them precedes another in eternity or excels in greatness or surpasses in power. The existence of the Son from the Father is certainly eternal and without beginning, and the procession of the holy Spirit from the Father and the Son is eternal and without beginning. Whatever the Father is or has, he has not from another but from himself and is principle without principle. Whatever the Son is or has, he has from the Father and is principle from principle. Whatever the holy Spirit is or has, he has from the Father together with the Son. But the Father and the Son are not two principles of the holy Spirit, but one principle, just as the Father and the Son and the holy Spirit are not three principles of creation but one principle. Therefore it condemns, reproves, anathematizes and declares to be outside the body of Christ, which is the church, whoever holds opposing or contrary views. Hence it condemns Sabellius, who confused the persons and altogether removed their real distinction. It condemns the Arians, the Eunomians and the Macedonians who say that only the Father is true God and place the Son and the holy Spirit in the order of creatures. It also condemns any others who make degrees or inequalities in the Trinity.
Most firmly it believes, professes and preaches that the one true God, Father, Son and holy Spirit, is the creator of all things that are, visible and invisible, who, when he willed it, made from his own goodness all creatures, both spiritual and corporeal, good indeed because they are made by the supreme good, but mutable because they are made from nothing, and it asserts that there is no nature of evil because every nature, in so far as it is a nature, is good. It professes that one and the same God is the author of the old and the new Testament -- that is, the law and the prophets, and the gospel -- since the saints of both testaments spoke under the inspiration of the same Spirit. It accepts and venerates their books, whose titles are as follows.
Five books of Moses, namely Genesis, Exodus, Leviticus, Numbers, Deuteronomy; Joshua, Judges, Ruth, four books of Kings, two of Paralipomenon, Esdras, Nehemiah, Tobit, Judith, Esther, Job, Psalms of David, Proverbs, Ecclesiastes, Song of Songs, Wisdom, Ecclesiasticus, Isaiah, Jeremiah, Baruch, Ezechiel, Daniel; the twelve minor prophets, namely Hosea, Joel, Amos, Obadiah, Jonah, Micah, Nahum, Habakkuk, Zephaniah, Haggai, Zechariah, Malachi; two books of the Maccabees; the four gospels of Matthew, Mark, Luke and John; fourteen letters of Paul, to the Romans, two to the Corinthians, to the Galatians, to the Ephesians, to the Philippians, two to the Thessalonians, to the Colossians, two to Timothy, to Titus, to Philemon, to the Hebrews; two letters of Peter, three of John, one of James, one of Jude; Acts of the Apostles; Apocalypse of John.
Hence it anathematizes the madness of the Manichees who posited two first principles, one of visible things, the other of invisible things, and said that one was the God of the new Testament, the other of the old Testament. It firmly believes, professes and preaches that one person of the Trinity, true God, Son of God begotten by the Father, consubstantial and coeternal with the Father, in the fullness of time which the inscrutable depth of divine counsel determined, for the salvation of the human race, took a real and complete human nature from the immaculate womb of the virgin Mary, and joined it to himself in a personal union of such great unity that whatever is of God there, is not separated from man, and whatever is human is not divided from the Godhead, and he is one and the same undivided, each nature perduring in its properties, God and man, Son of God and son of man, equal to the Father according to his divinity, less than the Father according to his humanity, immortal and eternal through the nature of the Godhead, passible and temporal from the condition of assumed humanity. It firmly believes, professes and preaches that the Son of God was truly born of the virgin in his assumed humanity, truly suffered, truly died and was buried, truly rose from the dead, ascended into heaven and sits at the right hand of the Father and will come at the end of time to judge the living and the dead. i It anathematizes, execrates and condemns every heresy that is tainted with the contrary. First it condemns Ebion, Cerinthus, Marcion, Paul of Samosata, Photinus and all similar blasphemers who, failing to see the personal union of the humanity with the Word, denied that our lord Jesus Christ was true God and professed him to be simply a man who by a greater participation in divine grace, which he had received through the merit of his holier life, should be called a divine man.
It anathematizes also Manes and his followers who, imagining that the Son of God took to himself not a real body but a phantasmal one completely rejected the truth of the humanity in Christ, Valentinus, who declared that the Son of God took nothing from his virgin mother but that he assumed a heavenly body and passed through the virgin's womb like water flowing down an aqueduct; Arius, who by his assertion that the body taken from the virgin had no soul, wanted the Deity to take the place of the soul; and Apollinarius who, realizing that if the soul informing the body were denied there would be no true humanity in Christ, posited only a sensitive soul and held that the deity of the Word took the place of the rational soul. It anathematizes also Theodore of Mopsuestia and Nestorius, who asserted that the humanity was united to the Son of God through grace, and hence that there are two persons in Christ just as they profess there are two natures, since they could not understand that the union of the humanity to the Word was hypostatic and therefore they denied that he had received the subsistence of the Word. For according to this blasphemy the Word was not made flesh but the Word dwelt in flesh through grace, that is, the Son of God did not become man but rather the Son of God dwelt in a man. It also anathematizes, execrates and condemns the archimandrite Eutyches who, when he understood that the blasphemy of Nestorius excluded the truth of the incarnation, and that it was therefore necessary for the humanity to be so united to the Word of God that there should be one and the same person of the divinity and the humanity; and also because, granted the plurality of natures, he could not grasp the unity of the person, since he posited one person in Christ of divinity and humanity; so he affirmed that there was one nature, suggesting that before the union there was a duality of natures which passed into a single nature in the act of assumption, thereby conceding a great blasphemy and impiety that either the humanity was converted into the divinity or the divinity into the humanity. It also anathematizes, execrates and condemns Macarius of Antioch and all others of similar views who, although they are orthodox on the duality of natures and the unity of person, yet have gone enormously wrong on Christ's principles of action by declaring that of the two natures in Christ, there was only one principle of action and one will. The holy Roman church anathematizes all of these and their heresies and affirms that in Christ there are two wills and two principles of action.
It firmly believes, professes and preaches that never was anyone, conceived by a man and a woman, liberated from the devil's dominion except by faith in our lord Jesus Christ, the mediator between God and humanity, who was conceived without sin, was born and died. He alone by his death overthrew the enemy of the human race, cancelling our sins, and unlocked the entrance to the heavenly kingdom, which the first man by his sin had locked against himself and all his posterity. All the holy sacrifices sacraments and ceremonies of the old Testament had prefigured that he would come at some time.
It firmly believes, professes and teaches that the legal prescriptions of the old Testament or the Mosaic law, which are divided into ceremonies, holy sacrifices and sacraments, because they were instituted to signify something in the future, although they were adequate for the divine cult of that age, once our lord Jesus Christ who was signified by them had come, came to an end and the sacraments of the new Testament had their beginning. Whoever, after the passion, places his hope in the legal prescriptions and submits himself to them as necessary for salvation and as if faith in Christ without them could not save, sins mortally. It does not deny that from Christ's passion until the promulgation of the gospel they could have been retained, provided they were in no way believed to be necessary for salvation. But it asserts that after the promulgation of the gospel they cannot be observed without loss of eternal salvation. Therefore it denounces all who after that time observe circumcision, the sabbath and other legal prescriptions as strangers to the faith of Christ and unable to share in eternal salvation, unless they recoil at some time from these errors. Therefore it strictly orders all who glory in the name of Christian, not to practice circumcision either before or after baptism, since whether or not they place their hope in it, it cannot possibly be observed without loss of eternal salvation.
With regard to children, since the danger of death is often present and the only remedy available to them is the sacrament of baptism by which they are snatched away from the dominion of the devil and adopted as children of God, it admonishes that sacred baptism is not to be deferred for forty or eighty days or any other period of time in accordance with the usage of some people, but it should be conferred as soon as it conveniently can; and if there is imminent danger of death, the child should be baptized straightaway without any delay, even by a lay man or a woman in the form of the church, if there is no priest, as is contained more fully in the decree on the Armenians.
It firmly believes, professes and teaches that every creature of God is good and nothing is to be rejected if it is received with thanksgiving, because according to the word of the Lord not what goes into the mouth defiles a person, and because the difference in the Mosaic law between clean and unclean foods belongs to ceremonial practices, which have passed away and lost their efficacy with the coming of the gospel. It also declares that the apostolic prohibition, to abstain from what has been sacrificed to idols and from blood and from what is strangled, was suited to that time when a single church was rising from Jews and gentiles, who previously lived with different ceremonies and customs. This was so that the gentiles should have some observances in common with Jews, and occasion would be offered of coming together in one worship and faith of God and a cause of dissension might be removed, since by ancient custom blood and strangled things seemed abominable to Jews, and gentiles could be thought to be returning to idolatry if they ate sacrificial food. In places, however, where the Christian religion has been promulgated to such an extent that no Jew is to be met with and all have joined the church, uniformly practicing the same rites and ceremonies of the gospel and believing that to the clean all things are clean, since the cause of that apostolic prohibition has ceased, so its effect has ceased. It condemns, then, no kind of food that human society accepts and nobody at all neither man nor woman, should make a distinction between animals, no matter how they died; although for the health of the body, for the practice of virtue or for the sake of regular and ecclesiastical discipline many things that are not proscribed can and should be omitted, as the apostle says all things are lawful, but not all are helpful.
It firmly believes, professes and preaches that all those who are outside the catholic church, not only pagans but also Jews or heretics and schismatics, cannot share in eternal life and will go into the everlasting fire which was prepared for the devil and his angels, unless they are joined to the catholic church before the end of their lives; that the unity of the ecclesiastical body is of such importance that only for those who abide in it do the church's sacraments contribute to salvation and do fasts, almsgiving and other works of piety and practices of the Christian militia produce eternal rewards; and that nobody can be saved, no matter how much he has given away in alms and even if he has shed his blood in the name of Christ, unless he has persevered in the bosom and the unity of the catholic church.
It embraces, approves and accepts the holy synod of 318 fathers at Nicaea, which was convened in the time of our predecessor most blessed Silvester and the great and most pious emperor Constantine. In it the impious Arian heresy and its author was condemned and there was defined that the Son of God is consubstantial and coeternal with the Father. It also embraces, approves and accepts the holy synod of 150 fathers at Constantinople, which was convoked in the time of our predecessor most blessed Damasus and the elder Theodosius and which anathematized the impious error of Macedonius, who asserted that the holy Spirit is not God but a creature. Those whom they condemn, it condemns; what they approve, it approves; and in every respect it wants what was defined there to remain unchanged and inviolate.
It also embraces, approves and accepts the first holy synod of 200 fathers at Ephesus, which is third in the order of universal synods and was convoked under our predecessor most blessed Celestine and the younger Theodosius. In it the blasphemy of the impious Nestorius was condemned, and there was defined that the person of our lord Jesus Christ, true God and true man, is one and that the blessed ever-virgin Mary should be preached by the whole church not only as Christ-bearer but also as God-bearer, that is as mother of God as well as mother of the man.
But it condemns, anathematizes and rejects the impious second synod of Ephesus, which was convened under our predecessor most blessed Leo and the aforesaid emperor. In it Dioscorus, bishop of Alexandria, defender of the heresiarch Eutyches and impious persecutor of holy Flavian, bishop of Constantinople, with cunning and threat led the execrable synod to an approval of the Eutychian impiety.
It also embraces, approves and accepts the holy synod of 630 fathers at Chalcedon, which is fourth in the order of universal synods and was held in the time of our predecessor most blessed Leo and the emperor Marcian. In it the Eutychian heresy and its author Eutyches and its defender Dioscorus were condemned, and there was defined that our lord Jesus Christ is true God and true man and that in the one and same person the divine and human natures remain entire, inviolate, incorrupt, unconfused and distinct, the humanity doing what befits man, the divinity what befits God. Those whom they condemn, it condemns; those whom they approve, it approves.
It also embraces, approves and accepts the fifth holy synod, the second of Constantinople, which was held in the time of our predecessor most blessed Vigilius and the emperor Justinian. In it the definition of the sacred council of Chalcedon about the two natures and the one person of Christ was renewed and many errors of Origen and his followers, especially about the penitence and liberation of demons and other condemned beings, were refuted and condemned.
It also embraces, approves and accepts the third holy synod of 150 fathers at Constantinople, which is sixth in the order of universal synods and was convened in the time of our predecessor most blessed Agatho and the emperor Constantine IV. In it the heresy of Macarius of Antioch and his adherents was condemned, and there was defined that in our lord Jesus Christ there are two perfect and complete natures and two principles of action and also two wills, although there is one and the same person to whom the actions of each of the two natures belong, the divinity doing what is of God, the humanity doing what is human.
It also embraces, approves and accepts all other universal synods which were legitimately summoned, celebrated and confirmed by the authority of a Roman pontiff, and especially this holy synod of Florence, in which, among other things, most holy unions with the Greeks and the Armenians have been achieved and many most salutary definitions in respect of each of these unions have been issued, as is contained in full in the decrees previously promulgated, which are as follows: Let the heavens be glad . . . 1; Exult in God . 2
However, since no explanation was given in the aforesaid decree of the Armenians in respect of the form of words which the holy Roman church, relying on the teaching and authority of the apostles Peter and Paul, has always been wont to use in the consecration of the Lord's body and blood, we concluded that it should be inserted in this present text. It uses this form of words in the consecration of the Lord's body: For this is my body. And of his blood: For this is the chalice of my blood, of the new and everlasting covenant, the mystery of faith1, which will be shed for you and for many unto the remission of sins .
Whether the wheat bread, in which the sacrament is confected, has been baked on the same day or earlier is of no importance whatever. For, provided the substance of bread remains, there should be no doubt at all that after the aforesaid words of consecration of the body have been pronounced by a priest with the intention of consecrating, immediately it is changed in substance into the true body of Christ.
It is asserted that some people reject fourth marriages as condemned. Lest sin is attributed where it does not exist, since the apostle says that a wife on her husband's death is free from his law and free in the Lord to marry whom she wishes, and since no distinction is made between the deaths of the first, second and third husbands, we declare that not only second and third marriages but also fourth and further ones may lawfully be contracted, provided there is no canonical impediment. We say, however, that they would be more commendable if thereafter they abstain from marriage and persevere in chastity because we consider that, just as virginity is to be preferred in praise and merit to widowhood, so chaste widowhood is preferable to marriage.
After all these explanations the aforesaid abbot Andrew, in the name of the aforesaid patriarch and of himself and of all the Jacobites, receives and accepts with all devotion and reverence this most salutary synodal decree with all its chapters, declarations, definitions traditions, precepts and statutes and all the doctrine contained therein, and also whatever the holy apostolic see and the Roman church holds and teaches. He also reverently accepts those doctors and holy fathers whom the Roman church approves, and he holds as rejected and condemned whatever persons and things the Roman church rejects and condemns, promising as a son of true obedience, in the name of the above persons, faithfully and always to obey the regulations and commands of the said apostolic see.
SESSION 12 14 October 1443
[Eugenius IV convokes the Lateran council, that is, the continuation of the council of Florence]
Eugenius. Convocation of the Lateran council. For an everlasting record. By the infinite clemency and pity of the redeemer of the human race, our God and lord Jesus Christ, by whose ineffable providence the whole body of the church is sanctified and ruled and through whose aid -- which surpasses our merits and exceeds what we recognise ourselves as worthy either to seek or to solicit -- gifts and favours of his mercy daily come to us, we have returned to bountiful Rome, the see of most blessed Peter, to the holy of holies, the Lateran of the patriarchs. With great trust we are embracing and earnestly pursuing the things which seem to be promoted and revealed by divine rather than by human wisdom. Hence it is that because of various just, reasonable and necessary causes which then moved our mind, by apostolic authority and the plenitude of power and with the approval of the council, we transferred the holy ecumenical council of Florence, over which we were then presiding, to this bountiful city of Rome and the Lateran basilica, to be re-established and continued on the first day following the fifteenth day after our arrival, as is contained in more detail in the letter composed for that purpose, whose text is word for word as follows:
Eugenius, bishop, servant of the servants of God, for an everlasting record The compassionate and merciful Lord ordained that his only-begotten Son should assume a human nature and should so join it to himself into a single person that not only would fallen nature be repaired by virtue of that ineffable union, but also by his embrace as spouse and by the kiss of his mouth his bride the holy church would be brought forth, her members would be joined together by a solid bond of love, and the Christian people would acquire peace in harmony, salvation in a unity of spirit, and glory in the bond of charity.
In so far as it is granted to us by the mercy of our lord and saviour Jesus Christ, whose place we though unworthy take on earth, we, following in his footsteps, ardently desire and intensely pursue the salvation, unity and peace of the Christian people. Therefore we are intent, with a deserved watchfulness, on the conservation of this holy ecumenical council. In it, by the marvelous kindness and mercy of the same Saviour, very many most noteworthy works have been achieved for his praise and glory, the increase of the catholic faith, the unity of the Christian people and the exaltation of the holy apostolic see and the Roman church. For in our own days we have seen Greeks, Armenians, Jacobites and other almost innumerable peoples, some of whom have been separated from the rite and the holy teaching of the Roman church for almost five hundred or even seven hundred years, joined with us in this sacred council, by God's mercy, under one divine law of truth and embracing us with due reverence as the true vicar of Christ, the successor of Peter and the shepherd of the universal church.
There are no limits to the kindness of our Saviour, who works for the unity of the Christian people and his mystical body, for which he prayed: I wish, Father, that they may be one even as we are one. Indeed we are experiencing his kindness particularly in these times. For his infinite mercy has granted that we are now awaiting the arrival of envoys, furnished with full power to accept in this holy council the doctrine of the orthodox faith from which their peoples have gone astray in many points, from our most dear son in Christ Zar'a Ya'qob, king of Ethiopia, commonly called Prester John, to whom very many kings and almost innumerable peoples are subject and who is impelled, as we trust, by divine inspiration. To foster and hasten such a holy and divine proposal, which is so necessary for the whole of Christianity, we have sent our own nuncios and envoys, who are full of zeal for this holy task and have considerable influence with the said most powerful king.
Many more works have been proposed to us for the praise of God and the increase of the faith and the Christian people. We wish to give careful attention to them. Frightened by neither the heavy expenses nor the many labours, we put our trust in the power of him whose inspiration motivates us. Let us hope, moreover, that in the course of time many other desirable and salutary fruits will accrue to the catholic faith and the church of Christ, especially if this holy synod is held in a place of greater importance and in a royal and sacerdotal city. To the genial city of Rome, which is particularly our city and which, as is right, we want to participate and help in these salutary and divine tasks, we have turned our attention, a city which we consider to be abounding in all spiritual and temporal goods and more holy and outstanding than all other cities for carrying out these holy tasks and bringing them to a religious and happy conclusion. For in it our Saviour in his eternal providence settled the apostolic see in blessed Peter, prince of all the apostles, and on his right in fellowship the wondrous foresight of the same Saviour added the blessed apostle Paul. They are two bulwarks of the faith through whom the gospel shone in Rome; they are true fathers and true pastors; they are those who suffered on one day for merit, in one place for grace, under one persecutor for equal virtue, and made this city sacerdotal and royal and the capital of the world, as being the holy seat of Peter, and consecrated it to the lord Christ with the glorious blood of martyrdom. "For the Roman church founded all, whether the eminence of a patriarch or the seats of metropolitan primacy or of bishoprics or the dignities of churches of whatever rank; he alone, who entrusted to blessed Peter, the key-bearer of eternal life, the rights of the heavenly as well as of the earthly kingdom, founded the Roman church and straightaway set it on the rock of nascent faith." Since, then, the city of Rome has been ennobled and distinguished by so many and so great divine gifts and is resplendent with so much authority and also draws the faithful to itself from all sides by the relics and sanctity of apostles, martyrs and confessors; since Christian nations and peoples even in the furthest parts of the world flock to the said city and are seen to desire greatly that we return to our see, which has been divinely constituted for Roman pontiffs, in order that a greater veneration and devotion may grow in the Christian people towards both us, through the authority of the said see, and the said see, through our presence and authority, and since we are informed that, on account of our residence in Rome, subjects and faithful of ours and of the Roman church, whose peace and tranquility we are bound to procure and preserve with special zeal, will enjoy much greater peace and unity and that in this way, with God's blessing, we shall be more expeditious and effective in pursuing works of peace and harmony and in arranging and confirming, as we ardently desire, peace and unity among other catholic kings and princes and peoples; Therefore to Rome, which is a suitable and safe place fulfilling all human needs as regards fertility of the soil and sea transport; under the influence of the above-mentioned necessary causes and many other just and reasonable ones which direct our mind to the praise and glory of almighty God, the extirpation of heresies and errors, the reform of morals, the peace, salvation and increase of the Christian people and the prosecution of other holy works, under the Lord's leadership, for which the said council was originally convened;
In the name of the holy and undivided Trinity, Father, Son and holy Spirit, with the approval of the said general council given on 5 January last, in a general congregation under our presidency, by apostolic authority and by this present letter, we translate as from now this holy ecumenical council of Florence, and by the same authority and the same letter we have decreed and declared it to be translated to the Lateran basilica, which is the first and proper seat of the supreme pontiff and the vicar of Jesus Christ, to be resumed, continued and prosecuted on the day following the fifteenth day after our entry into bountiful Rome. In addition, by an inviolable constitution and decree we ordain that each and all of the securities and safe-conducts, which we granted at the beginning of this sacred council and which we are extending anew and prolonging, are to be considered as included in this present letter and as having the same force and effect as if they had been mentioned word for word in this our synodal constitution and had been inserted and denoted in it. Let nobody therefore . . . If anyone however . . .
Now that the appointed day has come and all the reasons for which it had then seemed necessary to resume the council are recognized to be more than ever necessary, with the said necessary reasons and many other just and reasonable ones impelling us, for the praise and glory of almighty God, the extirpation of heresies and errors, the reform of morals, the peace, salvation and increase of the Christian people, and the completion of other holy works, under the Lord's leadership, for which the aforesaid council was originally convened;
In the name of the holy and undivided Trinity, Father, Son and holy Spirit, by the same authority and power, with the same approval and by this present letter; We resume, continue and carry forward the aforesaid ecumenical council of Florence, which was translated as above, and we decree and declare by this present letter that this continuation, resumption and prosecution is taking place in this council hall of the sacred Lateran patriarchate. We warn and require each and all of those who are bound by law or custom to take part in general councils that they should come as quickly as possible to this present holy ecumenical Lateran council, as referred to above, which is continuing for the attainment of the above-mentioned ends. In addition, we ordain again by this constitution and decree that each and all of the securities and safe-conducts, which we granted at the beginning of the sacred ecumenical council of Ferrara and which we are extending anew and prolonging, are to be considered as included in this present letter and as having the same force and effect as if they had been mentioned word for word in this our synodal constitution and had been inserted and denoted in
Let nobody therefore . . . if anyone however . . .
SESSION 13 30 November 1444
[Bull of union with the Syrians]
Eugenius, bishop, servant of the servants of God, for an everlasting record. In these our days the ineffable clemency of divine mercy bestows on his holy church many and marvellous gifts which are much greater than we could have asked for or envisaged. Hence we see that the orthodox faith is expanded, new peoples daily return to the obedience of the apostolic see and reasons for joy and exaltation are daily being multiplied for us and all Christ's faithful, in such wise that we are deservedly incited time and again to say in jubilation with the prophet to the faithful peoples: Come, let us exult in the Lord, let us hail the God who saves us, for the Lord is great and most worthy of praise in the city of our God, on his holy mountain. It is true that in the catholic church, which is the city of God on the holy mountain and is founded on the authority of the apostolic see and Peter, God, whose omnipotence and wisdom knows no limits, has always worked great and inscrutable deeds. But the singular and special gift which the ineffable providence of its founder bestowed on it is that the orthodox faith, which alone gives life to and sanctifies the human race, should abide for ever on that holy mountain in a unique and unchangeable profession of faith and that dissents, which arise against the church from the variety of earthly opinions and separate people off from the firmness of that rock, should return to that mountain and be exterminated and eradicated. Whence it comes about that the peoples and nations thronging to its bosom agree with it in one truth of faith. Assuredly it is not from our merit that the immensity of divine goodness has granted us to behold these great sublime and marvellous gifts of God. His benevolence and condescension alone have granted that after the union of the Greeks in the sacred ecumenical council of Florence, who were seen to differ from the Roman church in some articles, and after the return of the Armenians and the Jacobites, who were entangled in various opinions, they should at last, having abandoned all dissent, come together into the one right way of truth. Behold now again with the Lord's help other nations have gathered from afar, inhabitants of Mesopotamia between the Tigris and the Euphrates, whose thinking about the procession of the holy Spirit and some other articles had gone astray.
Great, then, for us and for all Christ's faithful is the reason for rejoicing. For with the Lord's approval the most illustrious profession of the Roman church about the truth of the faith, which has always been pure from all stain of error shines with new beams also in the east beyond the bounds of the Euphrates inasmuch as it has drawn our venerable brother Abdala, archbishop of Edessa and legate of our venerable brother Ignatius, patriarch of the Syrians, and of his whole nation, to us here in bountiful Rome and to this sacred ecumenical Lateran council and has bidden him humbly and devoutly to petition that we give to them the rule of faith which the holy Roman church professes. Among all the preoccupations of the holy apostolic see, we hold, as we have always done, our first and chiefest care to be the defence of the faith, the extermination of heresies and the propagation of the orthodox faith. Therefore we selected some of our venerable brethren, cardinals of the holy Roman church, who in turn co-opted from this sacred council some masters in holy scripture, to confer with the aforesaid archbishop about the difficulties, doubts and errors of that nation, to examine him in person and to open to him the rule of catholic truth, and finally to instruct and inform him fully about the integrity of the faith of the Roman church.
They found him orthodox on all points of faith and practice except three articles: namely, the procession of the holy Spirit, the two natures in Jesus Christ our saviour, the two wills and principles of action in him. They laid before him the truth of the orthodox faith, opened up the meaning of the sacred scriptures, adduced the testimonies of holy doctors and added telling and pertinent reasons.
When the archbishop had understood the doctrine on these points, he affirmed that all his doubts had been completely answered. He professed that he thought he fully understood the truth of the faith as regards both the procession of the holy Spirit and the two natures, two wills and two principles of action in our lord Jesus Christ. Moreover he declared that he would accept, in the name of the aforesaid patriarch and of the whole nation and of himself, the whole faith and all the teaching which we, with the approval of this sacred council, would propose to him.
For this reason we were filled with exultation in Christ and poured out immense gratitude to our God, since we are seeing our desire for the salvation of that nation fulfilled.
After careful discussion with our brethren and the sacred council, we decided, with the approval of the same council, to propose and assign to the said archbishop, who will accept it in the name of the above persons, the faith and doctrine which the holy Roman mother church holds.
This, then, is the faith which the holy Roman mother church has always held, preached and taught and which she now holds, preaches, professes and teaches. This is the faith, as regards those three articles, which we decree that the said archbishop Abdala, on behalf and in the name of the said patriarch of the Syrians and of all that nation and of himself, shall accept and shall keep for ever. First, that the holy Spirit is eternally from the Father and the Son, and has his essence and his subsistent being from the Father together with the Son, and proceeds from both eternally as from one principle and a single spiration.
Also it holds, professes and teaches that one and the same Son of God and of man, our lord Jesus Christ, is perfect in divinity and perfect in humanity; true God and true man, of a rational soul and a body; consubstantial with the Father as regards his divinity, consubstantial with us as regards his humanity; like us in all respects except for sin; begotten before the ages from the Father, and in the last days the same born according to his humanity for us and our salvation from Mary the virgin mother of God; one and the same Christ true only-begotten Son of God, acknowledged in two natures which undergo no confusion, no change, no division, no separation; at no point was the difference between the natures taken away through the union, but rather the property of both natures is preserved and comes together into a single person and a single subsistent being; he is not parted or divided into two persons, but is one and the same Son of God and of man, our lord Jesus Christ.
Also it believes, professes and teaches in the one lord Jesus Christ two natural principles of action which undergo no division, no change, no separation, no confusion, in accordance with the teaching of the holy fathers; and two natural wills one divine, the other human, not in opposition, but his human will subject to his divine and all powerful will. For in the same way that his most holy animate flesh was made divine, not destroyed, but remained in its own limit and category, so his human will was made divine, not destroyed, but rather was preserved and perfected.
We decree that the said archbishop Abdala ought, in the name of the above persons, to accept this faith, to hold it in his heart and to profess it with his mouth. Further we ordain and decree that he ought to receive and embrace, in the name of the above persons, whatever has been defined and established at various times by the holy Roman church, especially the decrees on the Greeks, the Armenians and the Jacobites, which were issued in the sacred ecumenical council of Florence and which, since Archbishop Abdala has carefully read them translated into Arabic and praised them, we have given to him, in the name of the above persons, for a wider and more complete instruction on everything; that whatever doctors and holy fathers the holy Roman church approves and accepts, he should, in the name of the above persons, approve and accept; and that whatever persons and other things she condemns and rejects, he should, in the name of the above persons, hold as condemned and rejected; promising on oath as a true son of obedience, in the name of the above persons, always devoutly and faithfully to obey the regulations and orders of the said apostolic see. If anyone however . . . Let nobody therefore . . .
SESSION 14 7 August 1445
[Bull of union with the Chaldeans and the Maronites of Cyprus]
Eugenius, bishop, servant of the servants of God, for an everlasting record. Blessed be the God and Father of our lord Jesus Christ, the Father of mercies and God of all consolation, who daily promotes with many great favours, and accompanies with happy results far beyond our deserts, our aims and pious desires, whereby in fulfillment of our pastoral duties we long for and foster with many works, in so far as this allowed us from on high, the salvation of the Christian people.
Indeed, after the union of the eastern church with the western church in the ecumenical council of Florence, and after the return of the Armenians, the Jacobites and the people of Mesopotamia, we despatched our venerable brother Andrew, archbishop of Kalocsa, to eastern lands and the island of Cyprus. He was to confirm in the faith which had been accepted the Greeks, Armenians and Jacobites living there, by his sermons and his expositions and explanations of the decrees issued for their union and return. He was also to try to bring back to the truth of the faith, using our warnings and exhortations, whoever else he might find there to be strangers to the truth of faith in other sects, whether they are followers of Nestorius or of Macarius.
He pursued this task with vigour, thanks to the wisdom and other virtues with which the Lord, the giver of graces, has enriched him. He finally eliminated from their hearts, after many discussions, first all the impurity of Nestorius, who asserted that Christ is only a man and that the blessed Virgin is the mother of Christ but not of God, then that of the most impious Macarius of Antioch who, although he confessed that Christ is true God and man, asserted that there is in him only the divine will and principle of action, thereby diminishing his humanity.
With divine assistance he converted to the truth of the orthodox faith our venerable brothers Timothy, metropolitan of the Chaldeans, who have been called Nestorians in Cyprus until now because they used to follow Nestorius, and Elias, bishop of the Maronites, who with his nation in the same realm was infected with the teachings of Macarius, together with a whole multitude of peoples and clerics subject to him in the island of Cyprus. To these prelates and all their subjects there, he delivered the faith and doctrine that the holy church has always cherished and observed. The said prelates, moreover, accepted this faith and doctrine with much veneration in a great public assembly of different peoples living in that realm, which was held in the metropolitan church of St Sophia.
After that, the Chaldeans sent to us the aforesaid metropolitan Timothy, and Bishop Elias of the Maronites sent an envoy, to make to us a solemn profession of the faith of the Roman church, which by the providence of the Lord and the aid of blessed Peter and the apostle has always remained immaculate . Timothy, the metropolitan, reverently and devoutly professed this faith and doctrine to us, in this sacred general congregation of the ecumenical Lateran council, first in his own Chaldean tongue, which was interpreted in Greek and then translated from Greek into Latin, as follows: I, Timothy, archbishop of Tarsus and metropolitan of the Chaldeans who are in Cyprus, on behalf of myself and all my peoples in Cyprus, profess, vow and promise to almighty God, Father and Son and holy Spirit, and then to you, most holy and blessed father pope Eugenius IV, to this holy apostolic see and to this holy and venerable congregation, that henceforth I will always remain under the obedience of you and your successors and of the holy Roman church as under the unique mother and head of all other churches. Also, in future I will always hold and profess that the holy Spirit proceeds from the Father and the Son, as the holy Roman church teaches and holds. Also, in future I will always hold and approve two natures, two wills, one hypostasis and two principles of action in Christ.
Also, in future I will always confess and approve all seven sacraments of the Roman church, just as she holds, teaches and preaches.
Also, in future I will never add oil in the sacred Eucharist.
Also, in future I will always hold, confess, preach and teach whatever the holy Roman church holds, confesses, teaches and preaches and I reject, anathematize and condemn whatever she rejects, anathematizes and condemns; in future I will always reject, anathematize and condemn especially the impieties and blasphemies of the most wicked heresiarch Nestorius and every other heresy raising itshead against this holy catholic and apostolic church.
This is the faith, holy father, that I vow and promise to hold and observe and to see that it is held and observed by all my subjects. I engage myself and solemnly promise to deprive of all his goods and benefices, to excommunicate and to denounce as heretical and condemned, whoever rejects it and raises himself up against it and, if he is obstinate, to degrade him and to hand him over to the secular arm.
Then our beloved son in Christ Isaac, envoy of our venerable brother Elias, bishop of the Maronites, on his behalf and in his name, rejecting the heresy of Macarius about one will in Christ, made with great veneration a profession that was similar in all details.
For the devotion of these professions and for the salvation of so many souls we offer immense thanks to God and our lord Jesus Christ, who is in our times so greatly enlarging the faith and bestowing benefits on so many Christian peoples. We receive and approve these professions; we receive into the bosom of holy mother church the metropolitan and the bishop in Cyprus and their subjects; and while they remain in the aforesaid faith, obedience and devotion, we honour them with the following favours and privileges.
First, nobody shall in future dare to call the said metropolitan of the Chaldeans and the said bishop of the Maronites, or their clerics and peoples or any individual among them, heretics, or to call Chaldeans, Nestorians. If anyone despises this ordinance, we order him to be excommunicated until such time as he offers a worthy satisfaction or has been punished, in the judgment of the ordinary, by some other temporal penalty.
Also, the said metropolitan and bishop and their successors are forthwith to be preferred in each and every honour to bishops who are separated from the communion of the holy Roman church.
Also, in future they can lay censures on their subjects, and those whom they rightly excommunicate in future shall be held by all as excommunicated, and those whom they absolve shall be held by all as absolved.
Also, the said prelates and priests and their clerics can freely celebrate divine services in the churches of Catholics, and Catholics can freely celebrate them in their churches.
Also, in future the said prelates and clerics and their lay men and women, who have accepted this union and faith, can choose to be buried in the churches of Catholics, to contract marriages with Catholics, but in the rite of Latin Catholics, and to enjoy and utilize all benefits, immunities and liberties which other Catholics, both lay and clerical, possess and enjoy in the said realm. Let nobody therefore . . . If anyone however . . .
1. "Mysterium Fidei" - found in the original Latin. Denzinger 1290 section 1352 on the Congregation for the Clergy of the Holy See website. Not included in the Tanner translation.
Translation taken from Decrees of the Ecumenical Councils, ed. Norman P. Tanner
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