The First Lateran Council, the first held at Rome, met under Pope Callistus II. About 900 bishops and abbots assisted. It abolished the right claimed by lay princes, of investiture with ring and crosier to ecclesiastical benefices and dealt with church discipline and the recovery of the Holy Land from the infidels.
Introduction to the Five Lateran Councils
A series of five important councils held at Rome from the twelfth to the sixteen centuries. From the reign of Constantine the Great until the removal of the papal Court to Avignon, the Lateran Palace and Basilica served the bishops of Rome as residence and cathedral. During this long period the popes had occasion to convoke a number of general councils, and for this purpose they made choice of cities so situated as to reduce as much as possible the inconveniences which the bishops called to such assemblies must necessarily experience by reason of long and costly absence from their sees. Five of these councils were held in the Lateran Palace, and are known as the First (1123), Second (1139), Third (1179), Fourth (1215), and Fifth Lateran Councils.
2 Other, non-ecumenical councils were held at the Lateran, among the best known being those in 649 against the Monothelite heresy, in 823, 864, 900, 1102, 1105, 1110, 1111, 1112, and 1116. In 1725, Benedict XIII called to the Lateran the bishops directly dependent on Rome as their metropolitan see, i.e. archbishops without suffragans, bishops immediately subject to the Holy See, and abbots exercising quasi-episcopal jurisdiction. Seven sessions were held between 15 April and 29 May, and various regulations were promulgated concerning the duties of bishops and other pastors, concerning residence, ordinations, and the periods for the holding of synods. The chief objects were the suppression of Jansenism and the solemn confirmation of the Bull "Unigenitus," which was declared a rule of faith demanding the fullest obedience.
INTRODUCTION TO THE FIRST LATERAN COUNCIL
The Council of 1123 is reckoned in the series of ecumenical councils. It had been convoked in December, 1122, immediately after the Concordat of Worms, which agreement between pope and emperor had caused general satisfaction in the Church. It
3 So deep was the emotion caused by this concordat, the first ever signed, that in many documents of the time, the year 1122 is mentioned as the beginning of a new era. For its more solemn confirmation and in conformity with the earnest desire of the Archbishop of Mainz, Callistus II convoked a council to which all the archbishops and bishops of the West were invited. Three hundred bishops and more than six hundred abbots assembled at Rome in March, 1123; Callistus II presided in person. Both originals (instrumenta) of the Concordat of Worms were read and ratified, and twenty-two disciplinary canons were promulgated, most of them reinforcements of previous conciliary decrees.
END OF INTRODUCTIONS
Summary. Ordinations and promotions made for
pecuniary considerations are devoid of every dignity.
Text. Following the example of the holy
fathers and recognize ng the obligation of our office, we absolutely forbid in virtue of
the authority of the Apostolic See that anyone be ordained or promoted for money in the
Church of God. Has anyone thus secured ordination or promotion in the Church, the rank
acquired shall be devoid of every dignity. []
Note 2. This and the following canon are a textual reproduction of canons 1 and 2 of the
Synod of Toulouse (1119) presided over by
Callixtus in person. Denzinger, no. 359.
2 Comment. The council opened its series of
canons with a condemnation of simony. The social conditions and the
ecclesiastic0-political relations existing in Western Europe under the feudal system,
contributed in no small measure to the growth of two notorious evils that afflicted the
Church during that period, namely, simony and clerical incontinency and of the two the
former was productive of the greater real detriment to the Church. Efforts of civil and
ecclesiastical authorities during and after the time of Charlemagne availed little to
banish the evil from the sanctuary. It grew, and its growth kept pace with the increase of
the civil power of the bishops and the consequent ever increasing influence that the state
exercised over the affairs of the Church. The episcopal office gradually came to be
regarded as much a civil office as an ecclesiastical one. The Church was the holder of
great landed possessions. In Germany three of the seven electors of the Empire were
churchmen. Moreover, within the Empire was a number of prince-bishops and mitered abbots
whose temporal rule was more powerful and more extensive than that of many secular barons.
Nor was Germany an isolated instance. True, Germany was the greatest offender, but the
same conditions prevailed in France, Spain, England, Scotland, and other countries. The
result was the enslavement of the Church by the state. Rulers who endowed the Church with
crown lands in gratitude for her work in bringing order out of chaos in Western Europe,
thought they thereby acquired a right to have something to say in the nomination of those
who were to be set over these lands. They claimed the right of investiture of spiritual
offices. Elections were disputed. Church offices were obtained at the price of money, and
noble families sought by dishonest methods, by bribery, intimidation, and other species of
corruption to place their own members in episcopal and abbatial offices and at times even
on the papal throne. Simony reached the highest point of its career in the eleventh
century, which may well be termed its classic period. Papal and synodal decrees had indeed
been issued against it but with little or no effect. The gigantic struggle initiated by
Leo IX and Gregory VII and continued by their successors to restore the independence of
the Church by freeing her from the demoralizing clutches of the state, was the beginning
of the fall of simony. Enactments against the evil by popes and synods during the eleventh
and, twelfth centuries are very numerous. []
3 Note 4. Mention may be made of Clement II in
the Roman synod, 1047 (Mansi, XIX, 627); Leo IX, Rome, 1049 (id., XIX, 721); Reims, I049
(id., XIX, 741); Mainz, 1049 (id., XIX, 749); Nicholas II, Rome, 1059 (id., XIX, 909);
Alexander II, Rome, 1063 (id., XIX, 1023); Gregory VII, Rome, 1073 (id., XX, 173); Rome,
1074 (id., XX, 408); Rome, 1078 (id., XX, 503); Rome, 1078 (id., XX, 509); Urban II,
Melfi, 1089 (id., XX, 721); Piacenza, 1095 (id., XX, 805); Clermont, 1095 (id., XX, 916);
Rome, 1099 (id., XX, i); Callixtus II, Toulouse, 1119 (id., XXI, 225); Reims, 1119 (id.,
XXI, 235); Second Lateran (1139), canons 1 and 7.; Third Lateran (1179), canons 7 and 15;
Fourth Lateran (1215), canon 63.
Summary. Only a priest may be made provost,
archpriest, and dean; only a deacon ay be archdeacon.
Text. No one except a priest shall be promoted to the dignity of ,provost, archpriest, or d
ean; and no one shall be made archdeacon
unless he is a deacon.
4 Comment. The purpose of this canon was to
put an end to the intrusion of laymen and of persons who had not received any major orders
into the offices mentioned. The prohibition had already found frequent expression in
earlier synods. Because of their importance, not only from the standpoint of revenue but
also from that of political expediency, the higher ecclesiastical offices offered an
excellent vantage-ground for the realization of secular ambitions. Members of royal and
noble families who had not received any sacred orders intruded themselves. Many of the men
promoted by Charles Martel to the principal offices of the Church were laymen, who were
either totally unworthy or else had naught but their military qualifications to recommend
them; some of them refused afterwards to receive sacred orders.
Summary. Priests, deacons, and subdeacons
are forbidden to live with women other than such as were permitted by the Nicene Council.
5 Text. We absolutely forbid priests, deacons,
and subdeacons to associate with concubines and women, or to live with women other than
such as the Nicene Council (canon 3) for reasons of necessity permitted, namely, the
mother, sister, or aunt, or any such person concerning whom no suspicion could arise.[]
Note 5. In content this canon is closely
related to that which in conciliar collections is given as canon 21 of this series.
Denzinger, no 360.
Summary. Lay persons, no matter how pious
they may be, have no authority to dispose of anytfiing that belongs to the Church.
Text. In accordance with the decision of
Pope Stephen [], we declare that lay persons, no matter how devout they may be, have no
authority to dispose of anything belonging to the Church, but according to the Apostolic
canon (39) the supervision of all ecclesiastical affairs belongs to the bishop, who shall
administer them conformably to the will of God. If therefore any prince or other layman
shall arrogate to himself the right of disposition, control, or ownership of
ecclesiastical goods or properties, let him be judged guilt y of sacrilege.
Note 6. A pseudo-Isidorian ordinance. Mansi,
I, 892 c. 10. Denzinger, no- 36i.
2 Comment. This canon was directed against lay investiture of ecclesiastical dignities. Like canon 10 of this series, it was one of the chief provisions of the Concordat of Worms, and contributed perhaps more than any other to the termination of the struggle between the papacy and the
3 Empire. It asserts without compromise the
principle that ecclesiastical jurisdiction can emanate only from the Church. As the power
of conferring sacred orders, so also does that of conferring benefices belong exclusively
to the bishops. Among the Germanic tribes the national laws gave to the builder of a
church, to the feudal lord or to the administrator, full right over the church built or
founded by him. As it was his ecclesia propria, he exercised full authority over the
ecclesiastics, whom, with the consent of the bishop in each case, he appointed and also
dismissed at pleasure. In the course of the investiture conflict private right over
churches was abolished, the jus patronatus, however, remained and the builder or feudal
lord was granted the jus praesentandi whenever a vacancy occurred in the church. In the
case of major benefices, that is, those of episcopal or supra-episcopal rank,
ecclesiastical rights were safeguarded by a distinction between the spiritual and secular
elements in the filling of such vacancies. The collation of the ecclesiastical offices was
clearly distinguished from that of the temporalities. The bestowal of the former pertained
obviously to the authority of the Church, that of the latter was conceded to the secular
authority. Any encroachment on these ecclesisastical rights the council characterizes as a
sacrilegious act. This canon was renewed by the Second and Third Lateran Councils in
canons 25 and 14 respectively.
Summary. Marriages between blood-relatives
2 Text. We forbid marriages between
blood-relatives because they are forbidden by the divine and secular laws. Those who
contract such alliances, as also their offspring, the divine laws not only ostracize but
declare accursed, while the civil laws brand them as infamous and deprive them of
hereditary rights. We, therefore, following the example of our fathers, declare and
stigmatize them as infamous.
3 Comment. The evil here condemned attained
its widest extent during the eleventh and twelfth centuries. In the synods of Rome and
Reims, both held in 1049, Leo IX made a determined effort to check it, but his measures
went unheeded. Similar action was taken by subsequent popes, Especially by Alexander II.
In respect to the degrees within which marriage among blood-relatives was forbidden, the
council adheres to the prevailing discipline, which prohibited marriage in the direct line
ascending and descending in infinitum and in the collateral line to the seventh degree of
consanguinity inclusive. Whether the impediment was at that time universally regarded as
diriment is a matter of dispute. It seems certain, however, that in most countries the
last three degrees were looked upon as impedient and not as diriment. The present canon
was renewed by the Second Lateran Council in canon 17, but even after that the binding
force of the last two degrees was a matter of doubt. The Fourth Lateran Council in canon
50 limited the prohibition to the fourth degree of the collateral line. This discipline
remained unchanged till the most recent matrimonial legislation, which retains the earlier
law governing the impediment of consanguinity in the direct line but restricts it to the
third degree of the collateral line.
Summary. Ordinations by Burdinus and the
bishops consecrated by him are invalid.
2 Text. The ordinations made by the heresiarch
Burdinus after his condemnation by the Roman Church, as also those made by the bishops
consecrated by him after that point of time, we declare to be invalid.
3 Comment. Mauritius Burdinus, once the
archbishop of Braga, was the antipope set up by Henry V to succeed Paschal II ( 1099-
1118). He took the name of Gregory VIII. At the time of his appointment to the papal
throne he was under excommunication, incurred a few months previously when he crowned the
Emperor, whose cause he had espoused. The ordinations made by him after this
excommunication and by the bishops consecrated by him since then, the council declared to
be null and void. []
Note 7. . I Nicaea, note 106.
Summary. No one is permitted to arrogate to
himself the episcopal authority in matters pertaining to the cura animarum and the
bestowal of benefices.
2 Text. No archdeacon, archpriest, provost, or
dean shall bestow on another the care of souls or the prebends of a church without the
decision or consent of the bishop; indeed, as the sacred canons point out, the care of
souls and the disposition of ecclesiastical property are vested in the authority of the
bishop. If anyone shall dare act contrary to this and arrogate to himself the power
belonging to the bishop, let him be expelled from the Church.
3 Comment. During the first three centuries of
the Christian era there were no parish priests as we understand the term today. There was
only one church in each diocese or district, namely, the episcopal church or cathedral,
situated in the residential city of the bishop. This was the center to which people living
in the city and its suburbs came on Sundays and festivals to attend divine services and
from which the bishop exercised the cura animarum throughout the district. The gradual
expansion of Christianity with the resultant growth in Church membership necessitated the
erection of churches in rural districts. In these rural churches, which were under the
direct administration of the bishop, divine services were conducted by priests residing at
the cathedral. Further growth in membership brought about the organization during the
fourth century rural churches or parishes with a distinct administration of their own .
[] A similar situation and development we find in the West, though here, for obvious
reasons, the change came less rapidly. The erection of rural churches kept pace with the
spread of Christianity in the rural districts, in the temporal and spiritual
administration of which the bishop was assisted by his archdeacon. The rapid
Christianization of the people of Western Europe, however, rendered it impossible for the
clergy of the episcopal church satisfactorily to supply the spiritual needs of a
population scattered throughout the rural districts. To meet this exigency the larger
rural centers were provided with their own churches, their own resources, and a permanent
clergy. These were the baptismal or mother churches, at which all the people of the parish
were obliged to attend the principal mass on Sunday and to which they paid their tithes.
All baptisms and burials took place here. Through the devotion of the faithful numerous
chapels, oratoria, and martyria were erected within the parish, on Church lands and on
monastery lands, and also on the estates kings and nobles. All these chapels (tituli
minores) which from the eighth century on multiplied rapidly and in which only
instructions, the usual devotions and daily mass were permitted, had their own clergy but
were dependent on and subject to the mother-church. At the head of the clergy attached to
these mother-churches was the archpriest. He was the head also of all the clergy within
his parish, that is, those attached to the various chapels, and was responsible for the
proper discharge of their ministerial duties. His parish was called an archipresbyterate
and he was subject in certain matters to the archdeacon, whose scope of authority covered
a variety of activities; in fact, when necessity required, he was the bishop's
representative in the exercise of the many duties of the episcopal office. During the
Carolingian period many of these chapels became independent parishes. Then, the division
of large dioceses into several archidiaconal districts for the purpose of facilitating
supervision necessitated the appointment in such dioceses of a corresponding number pf
archdeacons. Several of such large rural parishes, that is, archipresbytes, constituted an
archidiaconate at the head of which was an archideacon. The archdeacon of the cathedral,
who was usually the provost or praepositus of the chapter, supervised the urban clergy,
while the rural archdeacons, who were provosts of the principal churches in towns, had the
supervision of the rural deans or archpriests. The authority of the archdeacons, both
urban and rural, attained its height during the eleventh and twelfth centuries when they
exercised within their territorial limits a quasi-episcopal jurisdiction. The power and
influence of the deans or archpriests also kept pace with the march of time and events.
The importance of these offices from an ecclesiastical but particularly from a secular
viewpoint brought them under the influences of intrigue. Archdeacons and archpriests often
overstepped the limits of their authority by usurping that of the bishop. This is the
abuse which the canon condemned.[]
Note 8. Cf. Council of Chalcedon, canons 6
and 7. The Synod of Neocaesarea (315) speaks in canons 13 and 14 of rural priests and
bishops, the chorepiscopi.
Note 9. Zorell, "Die Entwickelung d.
Parochialsystems," in Archiv f. kath. Kirchenrecht, 1902-03; Imbart de la Tour, Les
paroisses rurales du IVe au VIO siècles, Paris,1900; Thomassin, Vetus et nova ecclesiae
discipline, I, 221-30, 274-87; Schröder, Die Entwickelung d. Archidiakonats bis zum ii.
jahrh., München, 1890; Stutz, Gesch. d. kirchl. Benefizialwesens v. Anfang bis Alexander
III, Berlin, 1896; Sagmüller, Die Entwickelung d. Archipresbyterats u. Dekanats bis zum
Ende d. Karolingerreiches, Tübingen, 1898.
Summary. Military persons are forbidden
under penalty of anathema to invade or forcibly hold the city of Benevento.
Text. Desiring with the grace of God to
protect the recognized possessions of the Holy Roman Church, we forbid under pain of
anathema any military person to invade or forcibly hold Benevento, the city of St. Peter.
If anyone act contrary to this, let him be anathematized.
2 Comment. Benevento was the ancient seat of the Lombard rulers. Through Charlemagne it became part of the territory of the Church, with the provision, however, that he retain its government. In 891 it was taken by the Greek Emperor, but was restored to the Church in 962 through the assistance of Otto 1. In subsequent years it was threatened by the Saracens and Greeks and in 1047 fell into the hands of the Normans. Henry III in 1053 drove out the Norman conquerors and turned the city together with the surrounding territory over to Leo IX in payment of the annual tax rendered to the Holy See by the diocese of Bamberg, which Henry had previously donated to the Roman Church. Shortly afterward, Benevento was retaken by the Normans. Leo IX placed himself at the head of a powerful army, but after a severe struggle the papal forces were defeated and Leo himself taken prisoner (1053). Regardless of their triumph, the Norman leaders now swore fealty to the sovereign pontiff and became loyal champions of the Holy See. Thenceforth Benevento belonged to the territory of the Church. In formulating this canon Callixtus no doubt had in mind chiefly the terrible and wily Normans.
Summary. Those excommunicated by one bishop,
may not be restored by others.
Text. We absolutely forbid that those who
have been excommunicated by their own bishops be received into the communion of the Church
by other bishops, abbots, and clerics.
2 Comment. This prohibition is an ancient one,
going back in all likelihood to Apostolic times. It was restated by the First General
Council in canon 5 and frequently renewed in subsequent councils. In a period when
confusion and violence were the order of the day and when the penalty of excommunication
was resorted to without moderation, it was but natural that eventually there should have
developed a contempt for it in certain circles.
Summary. A bishop consecrated after an
uncanonical election shall be deposed.
Text. No one shall be consecrated bishop who
has not been canonically elected. If anyone dare do this, both the consecrator and the one
consecrated shall be deposed without hope of reinstatement.
2 Comment. With bishops possessing an
extensive civil jurisdiction over I :the clergy and laity of their respective dioceses,
their office acquired a political importance that could not but prove detrimental to the
Church. The greater the political importance of the higher ecclesiastical offices, the
more the secular rulers strove to obtain control over them. One of the gravest evils
resulting from this was the constant interference of lay authorities in episcopal
elections. While in most countries such elections had become a mere formality, they were
replaced in Germany by royal nomination, with the result that only such men were chosen or
appointed to vacant sees as were willing to serve the interests of the emperor. In this
canon, therefore, the council orders the observance of the ecclesiastical laws governing
episcopal elections and threatens with perpetual deposition both the consecrator and the
one consecrated in the event of violation.
Summary. To those who give aid to the
Christians in the Orient is granted the remission of sins, and their families and
possessions are taken under the protection of the Roman Church.
2 Text. For effectively crushing the tyranny
of the infidels, we grant to those who go to Jerusalem and also to those who give aid
toward the defense of the Christians, the remission of their sins and we take under the
protection of St. Peter and the Roman Church their homes, their families, and all their
belongings, as was already ordained by Pope Urban (II). Whoever, therefore, shall dare
molest or seize these during the absence of their owners, shall incur excommunication.
Those, however, who with a view of going to Jerusalem or to Spain (that is, against the
Moors) are known to have attached the cross to their garments and afterward removed it, we
command in virtue of our Apostolic authority to replace it and begin the journey within a
year from the coming Easter. Otherwise we shall excommunicate them and interdict within
their territory all divine service except the baptism of infants and the administration of
the last rites to the dying.
3 Comment. The purpose of this canon was to
promote the cause of the crusades against the Saracens in the Orient and against the Moors
in Spain. The "remissions of sins" spoken of refers to the plenary indulgence
granted to all who should either undertake the journey or in other ways contribute toward
the furtherance of the cause, and is not to be understood as the actual remission by the
pope of sins not yet remitted by the sacrament of penance. The property of those taking
part in the crusade was to be regarded as sacred. Many who in the first fervor of
enthusiasm had taken the cross and pledged themselves to undertake the journey, later
manifested indifference in its execution. These the Pope commanded to begin the journey
within a year from the coming Easter. The interdict, threatened in case of failure to heed
the command, applied to princes and all others who owned vast landed estates.
Summary. The property of the porticani dying
without heirs is not to be disposed of in a manner contrary to the wish of the one
2 Text. With the advice of our brethren and of
the entire Curia, as well as with the will and consent of the prefect, we decree the
abolition of that evil custom which has hitherto prevailed among the porticani, namely, of
disposing, contrary to the wish of the one deceased, of the property of porticani dying
without heirs; with this understanding, however, that in future the porticani remain
faithful to the Roman Church, to us and to our successors.
3 Comment. The porticani, it seems, were those people who dwelled in t he Vatican territory, or more properly, in the neighborhood of the portico of St. Peter's. They were chiefly travelers and merchants; their scholae or quarters were located principally on the left side of the Basilica. In making obedience to the Roman Church, to himself and to his successors, a condition of the abolition of that custom, Callistus had in mind the division among the porticani consequent upon the schism created by the Emperor in setting up Burdinus as antipope.
Summary. If anyone violates the truce of God
and after the third admonition does not make satisfaction, he shall be anathematized.
2 Text. If anyone shall violate the truce of
God he shall be admonished three times by the bishop to make satisfaction. If he
disregards the third admonition the bishop, either with the advice of the metropolitan or
with that of two or one of the neighboring bishops, shall pronounce the sentence of
anathema against the violator and in writing denounce him to all the bishops.
3 Comment. The "truce of God" (treuga Dei) was a temporary suspension of hostilities, instituted to replace the "peace of God" (pax Dei) when the latter, which implied a perpetual suspension, had proved ineffective. With the dissolution of the Carolingian Empire, anarchy of the worst type set in, in consequence of which the two following centuries may well be called the nadir of order and civilization. It was a period of murder and rapine, of license and tyranny, and above all there raged an epidemic of private wars. What the conditions were even as late as the end of the eleventh century we learn from the address of Urban II to the multitude that had assembled for the Synod of Clermont (1095).
4 The truce of God had its origin in the
second quarter of the eleventh century and was the means employed by the Church to do
the lay authorities had been powerless to do, namely, to restore and enforce respect for
public peace. In its earliest form, it seems, it was a decision that no one should attack
his enemy from nine o'clock Saturday night to one O'clock Monday morning, for the reason
ut omnis homo person debitum honorem diei dominico. Subsequently this prohibition was
extended, in some localities to certain days of the week, for instance, Thursday, Friday ,
and Saturday, in memory of the ascension, passion, and resurrection, to which mysteries
these three days were consecrated; in other places, to the Ember days and certain feast
days, as the Exaltation of the Cross, All Saints, etc. Later the seasons of Advent and
Lent were included in the truce. Uniformity as to the time and duration of the truce was
brought about by the Synod of Clermont in its decision that the truce shall be observed
"ab Adventu Domini usque ad octavam Epiphaniae et a Septuagesima usque as octavam
Pentecostes, praeterea, ab occasu solis in quarta feria usque ad ortum solis in secunda
feria." This canon became the general rule. It was renewed by the Second and Third
Lateran Councils in canons 12 and 21 respectively. The penalty for violation was
excommunication. It is with the penalty that the present canon concerns itself. []
Note 10. Huberti, Gottesfrieden und
Landfrieden, Ansbach, 1892; Hefele-Leclercq, V, passim.
Summary. Laymen are absolutely forbidden to
remove offerings from the altars of Roman churches.
Text. Following the canons of the holy
fathers, we absolutely and under penalty of anathema forbid laymen to remove the offerings
from the altars of the churches of St. Peter, of The Savior (Lateran Basilica), of St.
Mary Rotund, in a word, from the altars of any of the churches or from the crosses. By our
Apostolic authority we forbid also the fortifying of churches and their conversion to
Summary. Counterfeiters of money shall be
Text. Whoever manufactures or knowingly
expends counterfeit money, shall be cut off from the communion of the faithful
(excommunicated) as one accursed, as an oppressor of the poor and a disturber of the city.
Summary. Robbers of pilgrims and of
merchants shall be excommunicated.
Text. If anyone shall dare attack pilgrims
going to Rome to visit the shrines of the Apostles and the oratories of other saints and
rob them of the things they have with them, or exact from merchants new imposts and tolls,
let him be excommunicated till he has made satisfaction.
2 Comment. An excellent description of
prevailing conditions, conditions that were by no means peculiar to his pontificate, is
given by Gregory VII in a letter written in 1074 to the bishops of France. He says: Omnes
malitia quasi quodam pestilentiae morbo repleti, horrenda et multum execranda facinora
multoties nemine impellente committunt; nihil humani nihilque divini attendunt; perjuria
sacrilega, incestum perpetrate, sese invicem tradere, pro nihilo ducunt et, quod nusquam
terrarum est, cives, propinqui fratres, etiam alii alios propter cupiditatem capiunt, et
omnia bona eorum ab illis extorqentes, vitam in extrema miseria finire faciunt. with
regard to the matter with which the canon deals, he says in the same letter: Peregrinos ad
Apostolorum limina euntes et redeuntes, uti cuique opportunum fit, capientes in carceres
trudunt, et acrioribus quam paganus aliquis, tormentis afficientes, saepe ab illis
plusquam habeant pro redemtione exigunt"' []
3 Note 11. Lib. II, epist. V ad episcopos
Francorum, Mansi, XX, 129 ff. The writings of Gregroy VII are to be found under the title,
Gregorii VII registri sive epistolarum libri, in Mansi, XX, 60-391.
Summary. Abbots and monks may not have the
Text. We forbid abbots and monks to impose
public penances, to visit the sick, to administer extreme unction, and to sing public
masses. The chrism, holy oil, consecration of altars, and ordination of clerics they shall
obtain from the bishops in whose dioceses they reside.
2 Comment. In the earliest ages of the Church, abbots and monks were laymen. For divine service and the reception of the sacraments they proceeded in a body to the nearest church. When later by reason of their large number this became impractical, they built their own monastic churches, and the abbot or some other member of the community was invested with priestly orders to serve its spiritual needs. From the fourth century onward the number of monks raised to the priesthood and exercising spiritual functions gradually increased. This course, however, was not to go unchallenged, and as late as 1096 the Synod of Nimes in canon 2 condemned the statement that monks may not become priests, adding that Pope Gregory the Great, Martin of Tours, Augustine of Canterbury, and others had been monks []. In the following canon the synod [of Nimes] went so far as to declare that priests who are monks are better qualified to perform spiritual functions than are the secular priests. The rapid expansion of the Chrisin religion and the consequent demand for priests naturally invited them to the field of parochial activity. The discipline governing the care of souls and the administration of parishes by monks had not always been uniform, owing to the different views taken by different bishops and popes. Synods before and after the tenth century permitted and prohibited monks to have the care of souls outside of those within the monastery. The reason for the prohibition is to be found in the ever increasing encroachment of the monks on parochial ministrations, and much more so in their frequent and flagrant invasion of episcopal rights and privileges. That causes of this nature were at the bottom of the present canon, can scarcely be doubted. []
3 Regarding ordinations, the Second Council of
Nicaea in canon 14 permitted abbots, provided they were priests and had received the
solemn rite of benediction, to confer tonsure and advance their monks to the lectorate.
This privilege was gradually extended until it embraced all the minor orders. Other
orders, as our canon rules, must be conferred by the bishop in whose diocese the monastery
is located. []
Note 12. Mansi, XX, 931-
Note 13. Cf. Hefele-Leclercq, V, 643 f
Note 14. Thomassin, op. cit., I, lib. III,
cap. 13 f.
Summary. The appointment of priests to
churches belongs to the bishops, and without their consent they may not receive tithes and
churches from laymen.
Text. Priests shall be appointed to
parochial churches by the bishops, to whom they shall be responsible f or the care of
souls and other matters pertaining to them. They are not permitted to receive tithes and
churches from laics without the will and consent of the bishops. If they act otherwise,
let them be subject to the canonical penalties.
2 Comment. The first part of this canon was directed against the abuse by which patrons usurped the authority of the bishops in the appointment of priests to those churches over which they exercised the right of patronage, particularly the jus praesentandi. The evil was an old one and had been frequently outlawed by popes and synods. In canon 8 of the Synod of Nimes (1096) Urban 11 decreed: Clericus vel monachus qui ecclesiasticum de manu laici susceperit beneficium, quia non intravit per ostium sed ascendit aliunde, sicut fur et latro ab eodem separetur officio []
3 The second part forbids priests to accept tithes and churches from laymen without the approval of their respective bishops. The tithes here referred to are those ecclesiastical taxes which in the course of time had become alienated from the churches by lay proprietors. This alienation came about in various ways. The secularization inaugurated during the Merovingian period, especially by Charles Martel, brought about the transfer of much ecclesiastical property and its tithes or the tithes alone to laymen. It was Charles' way of compensating his partisans. In subsequent times, under pressure of circumstances, even bishops and abbots resorted to such alienation to secure vassals and protectors against violence and the only churches but also invasion of their civil rights. Then again, not only churches but also ecclesiastical property with its tithes or the tithes alone were taken forcibly by laymen. Finally, when churches, which had once been the property
4 of private individuals, became parish
churches subject to the bishops, ,the former owner frequently appropriated the tithes
belonging to that church. In his autumn synod of 1078 (canon 6) Gregory VII demanded from
the laity the return to the Church of all tithes, no matter how or from whom they had
received them, and declared guilty of sacrilege all who refused obedience to his decree.
This demand was renewed by subsequent popes and synods, but to expect the return to the
Church of tithes that had for centuries been in the possession of laymen, was expecting
too much. They preferred to give them to monasteries or to their friends among the secular
clergy. The churches that had been usurped by laymen were often bought by monks, or they
were handed over by the usurper to the secular clergy. It was this acceptance of tithes
and churches from laymen by monks and secular clergy without the approval of the bishops,
that the present canon prohibited.[]
Note 15. Mansi, XX, 936; Hefele-Leclercq, V, 449. Cf. canon 15 of the Synod of Clermont
(1095), Mansi, XX, 817
Note 16. Thomassin, op. cit., III, lib. 1,
cap. i-ii; Stutz, Gescb. d. Beneficialwesens bis Alexander III; Perels, Die kirchl Zehnten
im karoling. Reiche, Berlin, 1904; Stutz, "Das karoling. Zehngebot," in
Zeitschr. d. Savigny-Stiftung f. Recbtsgesch. XXIX (1909), 191-240; Viard, Hist. de la
dîme eccl. principalement en France jusqu' au dicret de Gratien, Dijon, 1909.
Summary. Taxes paid to bishops by monks
since Gregory VII must be continued. Monks may not by prescription acquire the possessions
of churches and of bishops.
2 Text. The tax (servitium) which monasteries
and their churches have rendered to the bishops since the time of Gregory VII, shall be
continued. We absolutely forbid abbots and monks to acquire by prescription after thirty
years the possessions of churches and of shops.
3 Comment. Originally all monasteries within a diocese were under the authority of the bishop. The Council of Chalcedon in canon 4 expressed this in the form of a law, and Justinian decreed that all complaints against clerics and monks should be laid before the bishop, "because they are
4 subject to him." []. The Synod of
Orleans (511i) in canon 21 ruled that monks are under the authority of the abbot, but the
abbot under that of the bishop. [] In consequence, however, of episcopal oppression
which frequently assumed the worst form of tyranny and rapine, monasteries were by degrees
taken under the protection of the popes. At a later period this papal protection often
developed into exemption from episcopal authority, at least so far as the temporalities
were concerned. Beginning with the eleventh century, exemptions multiplied rapidly. Not
only individual monasteries but entire orders obtained exemption in all things from the
authority of the bishop. Since Urban II papal protection practically meant exemption from
episcopal authority. But such exemption did not release monasteries and their churches
from the obligation of paying to the local ordinary an annual pension (servitium). To put
a stop to the oppressive exactions of the bishops, Gregory VII in 1078 not only condemned
such excesses but also established a limit beyond which bishops were forbidden to extend
their demands. It is this rule of Gregory that the council here confirms.
Note 17. Novella 123, C. 21.
Note 18. C. 16, C. XVIII, q. 2.
Summary. Churches and their possessions, as
well as the person ans things connected with them, shall remain safe and unmolested.
2 Text. Having in mind the example of our
fathers and discharging the duty of our pastoral office, we decree that churches and their
possessions, as well as the persons connected with them, namely, clerics and monks and
their servants (conversi), also the laborers and the things they use, shall remain safe
and unmolested. If anyone shall dare act contrary to this and, recognizing his crime, does
not within the space of thirty days make proper amends, let him be cut off from the Church
Summary. Clerics in major orders may not
marry, and marriages already contracted must be dissolved.
Text. We absolutely forbid priests, deacons,
subdeacons, and monks to have concubines or to contract marriage. We decree in accordance
with the definitions of the sacred canons, that marriages already contracted by such
persons must be dissolved, and that the persons be condemned to do penance.
2 Comment. This canon, together with the preceding and following canons, does not appear to have originated in the First Lateran Council. This seems to be true especially of the present one; for the matter dealt with in it had already been considered in canon 3, and it is hardly probable that the council dealt with the same subject in two distinct decrees. It is very probable that these three canons originated in a provincial council under Urban II and were later wrongly ascribed to this Council of the Lateran.
3 Although at the time of our council clerical
celibacy had long been an established rule for ecclesiastics in major orders, the extent
of its observance was reduced practically to a minimum during the period of war and moral
disorder that followed the dissolution of the Carolingian Empire. In the maelstrom of
corruption and lawlessness that prevailed, clerical morality reached its lowest ebb, and
all sense of vocation had apparantly disappeared. During this dark period, this "Iron
Age," there was no dearth of synodal enactments directed against the evil. But when
all too frequently the government of monasteries was usurped by rude and ignorant laymen,
and when into bishoprics were intruded creatures whose only gods were Greed and-Lust,
synodal decrees meant nothing. The reforms initiated by Gregory VII with so much
determination and vigorously continued by his successors, struck at the root of the evil
and finally brought it under control.[]
Note 19. The earliest conciliar enactment on
the subject of clerical celibacy is canon 33 of the Spanish Synod of Elvira (305), which
imposed it on the three higher orders, bishops, priests, and deacons. If they continued to
live with their wives and bring forth-children after their ordination, they were to be
deposed. An attempt to impose celibacy on the clergy was made at the first general
council, but it seems the argument of Paphnutius againts it prevailed. The council then
contented itself with the prohibition expressed in canon 3. Justinian permitted no one to
be consecrated bishop who had children. The Synod of Melfi (1089) in canon 12 ruled that a
subdeacon who refused to separate himself from his wife, was to be deprived of his office
and benefice. If, on being warned by the bishop he did not put her away, the overlord was
permitted to take here as a slave. Leclerq, "La législation conciliaire relative au
célibat ecclésiastique," in Histoire des conciles, II, 1321-48, where an abundant
literature on the subject is given.
Summary. The alienation of possessions of
the exarchate of Ravenna is condemned, and the Ordinaries made by the intruders are
Text. The alienation that has been made
especially by Otto, Guido, Jerome, and perhaps by Philip of possessions of the exarchate
of Ravenna, we condemn. In a general way we declare invalid the alienations in whatever
manner made by bishops and abbots whether intruded or canonically elected, and also the
ordinations conferred by them whether with the consent of the clergy of the Church or
simoniacally. We also absolutely forbid any cleric in any way to alienate his prebend or
any ecclesiastical benefice. If he has presumed to do this in the past or shall presume to
do so in the future, his action shall be null and he shall be subject to the canonical
Note 20. These were the four schismatical successors of the antipope Guibert in the archiepiscopal see of Ravenna. Guibert was intruded into the Roman see by Henry IV.
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