Fifth Council of Lateran


Attacks on Cardinals, Taxes, Closing the Council

Against those attacking the houses of cardinals

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

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

Constitution imposing taxes and closing the council

Leo, bishop, servant of the servants of God, with the approval of the council, for an everlasting record. We have been set over nations and kingdoms, as the prophet declared, although our merits are unequal to this. We are suitably carrying out the duty of our office when we renew again that reform of the whole church and its affairs which we have accomplished with profit; when we plan to apply suitable remedies for the unchallenged observance of the reform and to make provision for cathedrals and metropolitan churches so that they may no longer be without their pastors; and when we supervise these remedies with ever-present attention and untiring efforts, by means of which we may be able to render the Lord's flock, which has been entrusted to our care, acceptable and submissive in the sight of the divine majesty. Our aim is also to crush the Turks and other infidels standing firm in the eastern and southern regions. They treat the way of true light and salvation with complete contempt and totally unyielding blindness; they attack the life-giving cross on which our Saviour willed to accept death so that by dying he might destroy death, and by the ineffable mystery of his most holy life he might restore life; and they make themselves hateful enemies of God and most bitter persecutors of the christian religion. Strengthened by defences not only spiritual but also temporal, we may be able, under God's guidance and favour, to oppose the bitter and frequent sallies by which, in wild rage, they move savagely amidst christian blood.

Indeed, pope Julius II, our predecessor of happy memory, acting in union with the holy Spirit, in a laudable and legitimate manner, for sound reasons, with the advice and consent of his venerable brothers, the cardinals of the holy Roman church, of whom we were then one, summoned the sacred Lateran council. He held five sessions and summoned a sixth. He then passed from the human scene. We were then raised to the summit of the highest apostolate by the favour of the divine mercy. We had always had a heartfelt desire, even at lesser meetings, to see a general council being celebrated as a very important development in the Lord's field. We realised that an obligation had been added to our honourable and useful desire as a result of the duty of pastoral care now laid upon us. We therefore undertook this matter with a more burning commitment and a total readiness of mind. We gave approval in the said sixth session, with the advice and consent of our said brother cardinals and with the approval of the same sacred Lateran council, to the postponement of the council to a fixed date, which was then clearly stated, for reasons made clear from the situation and for others affecting our own and the minds of our said brother cardinals. The council was to continue towards the completion of the objectives for which it had been summoned; and especially that, once the terrible conflicts between christian princes and rulers were settled and weapons of war set aside, a universal and lasting peace could be established. Leaving nothing untried, we intended to use all our efforts to bring about this peace and to conclude it, as if it were a good of supreme advantage. We also declared that it is and shall be part of our unchangeable thought and intention that, once the matters concerning the praise of God and the exaltation of the aforesaid church have been completed, the holy and most necessary expedition against the enemies of the catholic faith shall take place and a successful triumph over them be accomplished with the aid of the most High. In order that those under an obligation to attend this most useful council might not be held back in any way from coming to it, and so that they might be unable to proffer any excuse, we provided and granted, with the approval of the said Lateran council, to each and all of those summoned to the celebration of the council by our predecessor Julius, and to their attendants, a safe-conduct while they were travelling to and staying in Rome for the purposes of the said Lateran council. We urged kings and princes, out of reverence for the apostolic see, not to molest those coming here but to permit them to travel in safety.

We summoned the seventh session. We wanted nothing more than that those useful and necessary matters on account of which the said Lateran council had been summoned might be brought to their conclusion. We therefore set up three special committees of cardinals and other prelates to listen to and discuss matters of this kind and other conciliar business, and we ordered them to report to the council on what they had heard and discussed. One of the committees had the special task of establishing a universal peace between christian kings and princes, which was one of the chief reasons for the said council coming together, and of rooting out the schism; the second had the special task of general reform, including the reform of the curia; and the third had the special task of examining and abrogating the Pragmatic Sanction and of dealing with matters concerning the true faith. Each committee carefully examined many useful and necessary topics and accurately reported to us about them. The subjects discussed and investigated by them were completed and concluded by us, with God's favour and the approval of the sacred council, in the remaining five sessions of the council which we held. We then knew beyond all doubt that God himself, the giver of gifts, had favoured our devout desires and those tending to the common good, out of his exceeding goodness and mercy, and that he had granted to us what we had planned in our own mind and for which we had greatly laboured namely that once the matters on account of which the council had been summoned had been concluded in conformity with the council's aims, the council itself could be closed and discharged.

The emperor-elect Maximilian, our dear son in Christ, in the time of our said predecessor Julius, and king Louis of France, of happy memory, in our own time, as well as other kings and princes adhered to the Lateran council, lawfully assembled in the holy Spirit, to the greatest satisfaction of everyone. The quasi-council at Pisa, which had been summoned by certain persons without the necessary authority and had been condemned by the same Julius who preceded us, was treated by them as condemned in accordance with the decision of the said Julius. The schism which had begun to grow from this was ended (although it is clear that so long as the situation continued, it brought very many injures to prelates and others of Christ's faithful at various times, as well as to other general councils held until this time). There was peace for the whole church and a resulting union. The moral habits of churchmen as well as of secular and other persons were reformed, insofar as this seemed appropriate, and several matters concerning the true faith were defined. Several other matters, after being carefully examined and debated in the three committees of cardinals and prelates mentioned above, were considered with care and skill in the said council and a final decision was reached. Finally, it was reported to us on several occasions, through the cardinals and prelates of the three committees, that no topics remained for debate and discussion by them, and that over several months nothing at all new had been brought before them by anyone. The bishops who had been invited to share with us the responsibility for the support and care of the Lord's flock, as well as other prelates, had remained in Rome rather a long time beyond the normal usage of sacred councils, with inconvenience and loss to themselves and to their churches.

Therefore there seemed to remain, of all the above things which we and the said committees so much desired to be completed in the council, only peace between kings and princes and a harmony of minds. Our attitude in favour of this, and our striving with every effort for its accomplishment, can be made abundantly clear to all who read our letters. God himself, who is the supreme light and truth of all things, knows how we never ceased to beg and implore of him, by many prayers and constant appeals, that he would deign of his mercy to influence the christian flock -- which he has entrusted to our care, despite our lack of merits -- to enter upon a stable and enduring peace, now that this same flock has been roused by the warmth of mutual charity. We have earnestly urged this in the Lord, whose cause is principally in question, upon kings and princes, by means of persuasive reasons, through the nuncios whom we keep at the court of the emperor-elect Maximilian and with the aforesaid kings and princes, and through letters; especially if they wish to provide and take measures, as is right, on behalf of the christian religion and the catholic faith, which have been brought into serious danger and risk by the recently extended power of the ruler of the Turks. We have learnt from the letters of the same nuncios, kings and princes that our appeals have been of such great power and efficacy with the said kings and princes, and have influenced their hearts and minds to such an extent, that the peace so long desired by us for the good of the whole christian state has been almost concluded in intention, and the hope is that if anything remains it will soon be resolved (by God's favour). Our heart exults in our Lord Jesus Christ as we ponder over this in our mind and spirit. We give thanks for this to him, the giver of all graces, because he has guided these persons to the harmony we had longed for. We think that all Christ's faithful should offer to God thanks and those signs of joy which are customary on such occasions, and that God be asked that the peace achieved may endure.

It only remains, therefore, for the holy and very necessary campaign to be undertaken against the fury of the infidels thirsting for christian blood, and for all the measures decided upon as powerful safeguards in the eleven sessions, held partly by us and partly by our predecessor Julius, to be approved and renewed and ordered to be observed unchallenged. Accordingly, after mature deliberation on these matters with our brothers and other prelates, we approve and renew by apostolic authority, with the approval of the sacred council, all and each of the acts and decisions of the said eleven sessions, and the letters published above together with all the clauses contained in them -- apart from certain excepted matters which we judge should be conceded to specified persons for the sake of the peace and unity of the universal church -- as well as the business carried out by the committees. We decree and order that they are to be observed without alteration for ever, and that those carrying them out are to see that they and their contents are observed, namely: in the Roman curia, the current governor of our mother city and our vicar as well as the auditor general of the apostolic camera, who have the power to oblige and compel persons subject to them; and outside the Roman curia, we depute for this purpose each and all local ordinaries. We forbid each and all of Christ's faithful, under penalty of immediate excommunication, to presume to interpret or gloss what has been produced and carried out in the present council without our permission and that of the apostolic see.

We decree, with the approval of the sacred council, that the said campaign against the infidels is to be undertaken and carried through. Zeal for the faith prompts us to this. It has been so often proposed and promised by us and our predecessor Julius in the sessions referred to, when the business of the council was being explained. On several occasions it was communicated to, and discussed with, spokesmen at our court representing kings and princes. Pope Nicholas V, our predecessor of pious memory, summoned a general expedition against the infidels after the disastrous fall of Constantinople in order to crush their fury and to avenge the wounds of Christ. Callistus III and Pius II, of happy memory our predecessors as Roman pontiffs, urged on by zeal for the faith, followed in the same path with skill and energy. During a subsequent period of three years, we imitated them by means of an authorisation from ourselves and our said brothers for imposing and exacting a tithe on the revenues of churches, monasteries and other benefices throughout the world and for doing each and every other thing that is necessary and customary in a campaign of this kind. We continually pour forth holy, humble and earnest prayers to almighty God that the campaign may have a happy outcome. We order the same to be done by all Christ's faithful of either sex. We exhort Maximilian, the emperor-elect, and kings, princes and christian rulers, whose courage God bids us to rouse, beseeching them by the tender mercy of our God, Jesus Christ, and appealing to them by his fearful judgment to remember that they shall have to render an account of their defence and preservation -- even by giving their lives -- of the church itself, which has been redeemed by Christ's blood, and to rise up in strength and power for the defence of the christian faith, as is incumbent on them as a personal and necessary duty, with all mutual hatred being set aside and quarrels and conflicts among themselves being committed to everlasting oblivion. At this time of such great need, let them offer with eagerness their ready assistance in keeping with their resources. We urge with paternal affection and ask them that, at least during the campaign, out of reverence for almighty God and for the apostolic see, they assure the unbroken observance of the peace into which they have entered, so that such an important good, which we hope and desire will be obtained with the help of the Lord's right hand, may not be impeded by some interruption from discord and dissension.

In order that prelates and others at the present council, which has lasted for nearly five years, may not be further wearied by their labours and expenses and so that they may be able to visit and bring encouragement to their churches, and for other reasonable and just causes, we bring the present council to a close and we discharge it with the Lord's blessing. With the approval of the same sacred council, we grant permission to each and all who are present at the council to return to their own countries. In order that they may be able to go back with ever increasing joy and strengthened with spiritual gifts, we impart to them and to all their attendants a plenary remission and indulgence for all their sins, once in their lifetime and again at the hour of death. Let nobody therefore ... If anyone however ... The quasi-council of Pisa is condemned, and everything done at it is declared null and void. The Lateran council and whatever has been rightly done at it are confirmed.

Julius, bishop, servant of the servants of God, with the approval of the sacred council, for an everlasting record. We intend, with the help of the most High, to proceed with the holding of this sacred Lateran council which has now begun for the praise of God, the peace of the whole church, the union of the faithful the overthrow of heresies and schisms, the reform of morals, and the campaign against the dangerous enemies of the faith, so that the mouths of all schismatics and enemies of peace, those howling dogs, may be silenced and Christians may be able to keep themselves unstained from such pernicious and poisonous contagion.

Accordingly, in this second session lawfully assembled in the holy Spirit, after mature deliberation held by us with our venerable brothers, the cardinals of the holy Roman church, by the advice and unanimous consent of the same brothers from sure knowledge and by the fullness of apostolic power, we confirm approve and renew, with the approval of the sacred council, the rejections condemnations, revocations, quashings, invalidations and annulments of the summoning, convoking and public utterances of that schismatical assembly, the vaunted quasi-council of Pisa, with its aim of rending and hampering the union of the aforesaid church, and of the citations, warnings, decrees, pardons, sentences, acts, legacies, creations, obediences, withdrawals, enjoined censures and applications issuing from it, and of the transfer of the said quasi-council to the cities of Milan or Vercellae or any other place, and of each and all of the acts and decisions of the said quasi-council, that have been expressed in our various letters completed and issued in due order, especially those issued under the dates of 18 July in the eighth year of our pontificate, and of 3 December and 13 April in the ninth year of our pontificate. Likewise we confirm, approve and renew with the approval of the sacred council, the letters themselves along with their decrees, declarations, prohibitions, commands, exhortations, warnings, applications of ecclesiastical interdicts, and other sentences, censures and penalties, whether by canonical sanctions or by our own act, especially those in the letter summoning this sacred universal council, and each and all of the other clauses contained in the said letters, the meanings of which we wish to be considered as expressed as if they were inserted herein word for word, even though, as being definite and valid, they require no other confirmation or approval for a more extensive guarantee and demonstration of the truth. We wish, decree and ordain that they be observed without alteration, and we make good each and all of the defects in them, should there be any.

We condemn and reject the aforesaid quasi-council and its transfer, and each and every thing done by it, and also those taking part in it or giving support, approval or consent, directly or indirectly, to whatever extent and in whatever manner, from the day of the summoning of the quasi-council until the present day, whether the things have already been done or are to be done in the future, even if they are or have been such that special, specific, definite and separate mention should be made about them, since we consider their meaning and characteristics as clearly expressed. We condemn and reject it like other counterfeit councils which diverge from the truth and whose acts have been condemned and rejected by the law and sacred canons. We proclaim these things to be null, void and empty, as indeed they are, to be or to have been of no force or Importance; and, so far as is necessary, we declare them void, invalid and null, and we wish them to be considered as void, invalid and null.

We decree and declare, with the approval of this same sacred council, that this sacred ecumenical council, justly, reasonably, and for true and lawful purposes duly and rightly summoned, has begun to be celebrated, and that each and every thing which has been and shall be done and executed in it, will be just, reasonable, settled and valid, and that it possesses and holds the same strength, power, authority and stability which other general councils approved by the sacred canons, especially the Lateran council, possess and hold.

Moreover, in the arrangement of the seasons, as the summer heats approach, in order to take account of the convenience and health of the prelates, and so that those may be awaited who live beyond the mountains and across the sea and who have hitherto been unable to come to this sacred council, and for other just and reasonable causes known to and approved by the said sacred council, we are summoning the third session of this same council to take place on 3 November next, with the said council likewise giving approval. And to each and every prelate and to others present at the same council, we grant and concede the freedom and permission to withdraw from the Roman curia and to stay wherever they wish, so long as they are present at the aforesaid Lateran council on the said 3 November, any clearly legitimate hindrance having been removed, subject to the infliction of the penalties indicated in the letter summoning the council and in canonical punishments against those failing to attend to councils, the said sacred council also approving. Let nobody therefore . . . If anyone however . . . Each and all of the measures sponsored by the schismatic cardinals are rejected

Julius, bishop, servant of the servants of God, with the approval of the sacred council, for an everlasting record. To the praise and glory of him whose works are perfect, we are continuing the sacred council of the Lateran, lawfully assembled by favour of the holy Spirit, in this third session. We had summoned this session on another occasion, during the second session, for the third day of the following November. Later, by the advice and unanimous agreement of our venerable brothers, cardinals of the holy Roman church, for reasons then stated and for other lawful causes, we postponed it and summoned it to be held today, with the same sacred council giving approval to both the postponement and the summons for the said reasons which were known to it. This was after the happy and favourable adherence to, and union with, this most holy Lateran council on the part of our most dear son in Christ, Maximilian, ever revered emperor-elect of the Romans

We condemn, reject and detest, with the approval of this same sacred council, each and every thing done by those sons of damnation, Bernard Carvajal, Guillaume Briconnet, Rene de Prie, and Frederick of San Severino, formerly cardinals, and their supporters, adherents, accomplices and disciples -- who are schismatics and heretics and have worked madly to their own and others' ruin, aiming to split asunder the unity of holy mother church at the quasi-council held at Pisa, Milan, Lyons and elsewhere -- whatever the things were in number and kind that have been enacted, carried out, done, written, published or ordained up to the present day, including the imposition of taxes carried out by them throughout the kingdom of France, or shall be done in the future. Even though they are indeed null, useless and void and have already been condemned and rejected by us with the approval of the aforesaid sacred council, we nevertheless retain this present condemnation and rejection for the sake of greater precaution. We wish the meaning and characteristics of the things done, or to be done, to be considered as expressed herein word for word and not just by general clauses. We decree and declare them to be and to have been null, without purpose and void, of no force, efficacy, effect or importance.

We renew our letter dated 13 August 1512, at St Peter's, Rome, in the ninth year of our pontificate, by which, on the advice of the Dominicans, on account of the support, favours, sustenance and help notoriously provided to schismatics and heretics in the promotion of the said condemned and rejected quasicouncil of Pisa, by the king of France and not a few other prelates, officials, nobles and barons of the kingdom of France, we placed under ecclesiastical interdict the kingdom of France and particularly Lyons, excepting the duchy of Brittany, and we forbade the customary fairs of Lyons to be held in that city and we transferred them to the city of Geneva. We also renew the decrees, declarations, prohibitions and every clause contained in the letter, the said sacred council likewise having full information about them and giving its approval. As stated, we subject the aforesaid kingdom and its cities, lands, towns and any other territories to this interdict, and we transfer the fairs from Lyons to the said city of Geneva.

In order that this sacred Lateran council may be brought to a fruitful and beneficial conclusion, and that the many other serious matters due for treatment and discussion in the council may proceed to the praise of almighty God and the exaltation of the universal church, we declare, with the full approval of the said sacred council, that the fourth session of the continuing celebration of the council shall be held on the tenth day of the present month of December. Let nobody therefore ... If anyone however... The Pragmatic is revoked and the acts of the quasi-council of Pisa regarding the same are annulled.

Julius, bishop, servant of the servants of God, with the approval of the sacred council, for an everlasting record. Giving close attention by paternal and earnest consideration to the safety of the flock entrusted to us from above, to the reform of morals and the defence of the church's liberty, and to the peace and development of the catholic faith, we approve and renew, with the approval of this holy council, for the praise and glory of almighty God and the undivided Trinity, the letter recently issued by us, of which the same council is aware, by which we made a general reform of the Roman curia's officials and of their imposts. We ordered the letter to be made public by certain persons, who were afterwards designated, for the benefit of the faithful, and in accordance with our wishes. We now order it to be made public in detail by the said designated persons together with other prelates from various nations who are present in the aforesaid council and are to be appointed. Everything that can pervert human judgment is to cease, as is right and fitting. We order, moreover, that the declarations are to be referred to us in other sessions of this sacred council and are to be approved by the same council, in order that they may be duly carried out.

Moreover, for considerable periods of time there has been great disparagement of the apostolic see and of the head, the liberty and the authority of the holy Roman universal church, as well as a limitation of the sacred canons, by a number of prelates of the French nation and by noble laymen and others supporting them, especially under pretext of a certain sanction which they call the Pragmatic. We do not wish to endure further a thing so pernicious and offensive to God, a clear cheapening of and damage to the said church. For it is only in those regions that the sanction, carried out by those lacking all lawful power for that end and without the authority of popes or legitimate general councils, has been introduced and observed by way of an abuse. It must be rightly, along with its contents, be declared null and void and be repealed. Louis XI, king of France, of distinguished memory, repealed this sanction, as is clearly contained in his letters patent already made. Therefore, with the approval of the same council, we commit to the meetings of our venerable brothers, cardinals of the aforesaid church, and of other prelates, which are to be held in the upper room of the Lateran, insofar as this is necessary, the business of the declaration and abrogation which we are to make, as well as the report that is to be made to us and the same sacred council concerning the matters discussed in the first and other sessions, insofar as this can conveniently be done. We determine and decree that the prelates of France, chapters of churches and monasteries, and laymen favouring them, of whatever rank they may be, even royal, who approve or falsely use the said sanction, together with each and every other person thinking, either individually or in a group, that this sanction is to his advantage, be warned and cited, within a definite adequate term to be established, by a public edict -- which is to be fixed on the doors of the churches of Milan, Asti and Pavia, since a safe approach to France is not available -- that they are to appear before us and the aforesaid council and declare the reasons why the said sanction and its corrupting effect and misuse in matters concerning the authority, dignity and unity of the Roman church and the apostolic see, and the violation of sacred canons and of ecclesiastical freedom, ought not to be declared and judged null and void and be abrogated, and why those so warned and cited should not be restrained and held as if they had been warned and cited in person. Moreover, with regard to each and all provisions and collations of ecclesiastical benefices, confirmations of elections and petitions, grants of concessions, mandates and indults, of whatever kind, concerning both favours and matters of justice or both together, of whatever sense they may be -- which things we wish to be regarded as clearly stated in the present letter -- which were made by the synagogue or quasi-council of Pisa and its schismatic adherents, lacking all authority and merit, though they are indeed null and void, yet, for greater caution, we decree, with the approval of the said sacred council, that they are null and of no effect, force or importance; and that each individual, of whatever rank, status, grade, nobility, order or condition, to whom they were granted, or to whose convenience, advantage or honour they pertain, are to give up their fruits, incomes and profits, or to arrange for this to be done, and they are bound to restore both these things and their benefices and to give up the other aforesaid concessions, and that unless they have really and completely given up the benefices themselves and the other things granted to them, within two months from the date of this present letter, they are automatically deprived of the other ecclesiastical benefices which they hold by lawful title. Moreover, we apply whatever has been or shall be obtained in the way of fruits, rents and profits of this kind, and money-taxes imposed by the said quasi-council, to the campaign which is to be conducted against the infidels.

In order that the declaration of reform, and of the nullity of the said sanction, as well as other business may be carried out in due season, and so that the prelates who are still to come to this sacred council (we have received news that some have already set out on their journey to attend) may be able to arrive without inconvenience, we declare, with the approval of the council, that the fifth session shall be held on 16 February, which will be Wednesday after the first Sunday of the coming Lent. Let nobody therefore ... If anyone however…

Fifth Council of Lateran