Cum Ex Apostolatus Officio
Pope Paul IV’s 1559 Bull

(Translation by Prof. B. F. Dryden with the exception of those portions in brackets, where Dryden’s copy is corrected from the Latin text of Prof. Carlos Disandro; also the summaries provided for paragraphs eight and nine and paragraph 10. All emphasis within the text of the Bull below has been added by this editor.)

The Apostle’s office entrusted, to Us by God, though beyond any merit of Ours, lays upon Us the general care of the Lord’s flock. Hence We are bound, to watch over the flock assiduously, as a vigilant shepherd, with faithful protection and wholesome guidance. We must see attentively to driving away from Christ’s fold those who, in Our time more consciously and balefully than usual, driven by malice and trusting in their own wisdom, rebel against the rule of right Faith and strive to rend the Lord’s seamless robe by corrupting the sense of the Holy Scriptures with cunning inventions. We must not allow those to continue as teachers of error who disdain to be taught.

1. Whereas We consider such a matter to be so grave and fraught with peril that the Roman Pontiff, who is Vicar of God and of Jesus Christ on earth, holds fullness of power over peoples and. kingdoms, and judges all, but can be judged by no one in this world — (even he) may be corrected if he is apprehended straying from the Faith. Also, it behooves us to give fuller and more diligent thought where the peril is greatest, lest false prophets (or even others possessing secular jurisdiction) wretchedly ensnare simple souls and drag down with themselves to perdition and the ruin of damnation the countless peoples entrusted to their care and government in matters spiritual or temporal; and lest it befall Us to see in the holy place the abomination of desolation spoken of by Daniel the prophet, We wish, as much as possible with God’s help, in line with our pastoral duty, to trap the foxes that are busily ravaging the Lord’s vineyard and to drive the wolves from the sheepfolds, lest We seem to be silent watchdogs, unable to bark, or lest We come to an evil end like the evil husbandmen or be likened to a hireling.

2. Now therefore, having thoroughly discussed these matters with Our venerable brothers the Cardinals of the Holy Roman Church, upon their advice and with their unanimous consent, We approve and renew, BY OUR APOSTOLIC AUTHORITY, each and every sentence, censure or penalty of excommunication, suspension and interdict, and removal, and any others whatever in any way given and promulgated against heretics and schismatics by any Roman Pontiffs Our Predecessors, or considered as such, even in their uncollected letters, or by the sacred Councils recognized by God’s Church or in the decrees or statutes of the Holy Fathers or in the sacred Canons and Apostolic Constitutions and ordinances. We will and decree that they be forever observed and, if perchance now obsolete, that they shall be restored and shall remain in vigorous observance; that the above mentioned sentences, censures and penalties shall be incurred by all who have, in the past, been apprehended or have confessed or been convicted of deviating from the faith* or falling into some heresy or of incurring, inciting or committing schism or who shall hereafter — which may God deign to avert through His decency and goodness toward all — stray or fall into heresy or incur, incite or commit schism or be apprehended or confess or be convicted of so straying or falling or inciting or committing, be they of any state, degree, class, condition or pre-eminence whatever, even if illustrious as bishops, Archbishops, Patriarchs, Primates or other major Church dignitaries, or with the honor of Cardinal or the position either permanent or temporary of Legate from the Apostolic See in any place, or indeed the worldly authority or excellence of Count, Baron, Marquis, Duke, King or Emperor.

3. We likewise consider it fitting that those who do not refrain from evil through love of virtue should be deterred therefrom through fear of penalties. Bishops, Archbishops, Patriarchs, Primates, Cardinals, Legates, Counts, Barons, Marquis, Dukes, Kings or Emperors, who must teach others and give them good example to keep them in the Catholic Faith — when these prevaricate, they sin more gravely than others; for they not only lose themselves, but drag down with them to perdition and the pit of death countless other peoples entrusted to their care and government or otherwise subject to them. Upon advice and consent concerning such as these, through this Our Constitution, which is to remain forever effective, in hatred of such a crime the greatest and deadliest that can exist in God’s Church, We sanction, establish, decree and define, through the fullness of Our Apostolic power, that although the aforesaid sentences, censures and penalties keep their force and efficacy and obtain their effect, all and sundry Bishops, Archbishops, Patriarchs, Primates, Cardinals, Legates, Counts, Barons, Marquis, Dukes, Kings and Emperors who in the past have, as mentioned above, have strayed or fallen into heresy or have been apprehended, have confessed or been convicted of incurring, inciting or committing schism or who, in the future, shall stray or fall into heresy or shall incur, incite or commit schism or shall be apprehended, confess or be convicted of straying or falling into heresy or of incurring, inciting or committing schism, being less excusable than others in such matters, in addition to the sentences, censures and penalties mentioned above, (all these persons) are also automatically and without any recourse to law or action, completely and entirely, forever deprived of, and furthermore disqualified from and incapacitated for their rank; their Cathedrals, even Metropolitan and Patriarchal ones; Primatial Churches; honor as Cardinals; position as any sort of Legate; active or passive voice and all authority; and Monasteries, benefices and Church offices, with or without the care of souls, whether secular or regular of any Order whatever which they may have obtained in any way, by any Apostolic grant or concession by title, life-long tenure as administrators, or otherwise, and in which or to which they have any right; likewise, any yearly fruit, yield or produce reserved or assigned to them on similar fruit, yield or produce; also any County, Barony, Marquisate, Dukedom, Kingdom or Empire. They shall be treated, as relapsed and subverted in all matters and for all purposes, just as though, they had earlier publicly abjured such heresy in court. They can never at any time be re-established, re-appointed, restored or recapacitated for their former state or for Cathedral, Metropolitan, Patriarchal or Primatial Churches, for the Cardinalate or other honor or for any other greater or lesser dignity or for active or passive voice, or authority; or for Monasteries and benefices, or for the office of Count, Baron, Marquis, Duke, King or Emperor.

Rather, they shall be left to the Judgment of the secular power, to be punished with a fitting chastisement. Or else, by the kindness and clemency of this See, having shown signs of true repentance and fruits of worthy penance, they shall be confined in some Monastery or other religious house, to do perpetual penance in the bread of sorrow and water of sadness. As such they are to be considered, treated, reputed; as such to be shunned and denied all solace of humaneness by all persons of whatever state, degree, class, condition and pre-eminence, even those specially distinguished as Bishops, Archbishops, Patriarch and Primates or through any other great ecclesiastical dignity, even the office of Cardinal, or through worldly authority as Counts, Barons Marquis, Dukes, Kings and Emperors.

4. Let all who claim the right of patronage, or naming persons suitable for the Cathedral, and Metropolitan, Patriarchal and Primatial Churches, or Monasteries or other Ecclesiastical benefices falling vacant through such removal of the incumbents, seek to avoid the inconveniences of long vacancy and to insure that positions so snatched from servitude to heretics shall be granted to suitable persons who will direct the people thereof in the paths of justice. They shall therefore be obliged, within the time fixed by law or by their concordats or pacts with said See, to present to Us, or to the Roman Pontiff existing at the time, other persons suitable for such Churches, Monasteries and benefices. Else, after such time has elapsed, full and free disposal of the aforesaid Churches, Monasteries and benefices shall pass, ipso facto and by full right, to Us or to the aforesaid Roman Pontiff.

5. Further, whoever knowingly presumes in any way to receive anew the persons so apprehended, confessed or convicted, or to favor them, believe them, or teach their doctrines shall ipso facto incur excommunication, and, become infamous. They shall not and cannot be admitted orally, in person, in writing, through any spokesman or pro- curator to offices public or private, or deliberations or a Synod or general, or provincial Council, or a Conclave of Cardinals, or any congregation of the faithful, or anyone’s election, or to give testimony. They shall be incapable of making a will, nor shall they receive any inheritance; furthermore, no one shall be obliged to answer to them in any affair. If perchance, they be known as Judges, their sentences shall be without any force; nor shall any lawsuits be heard before them. If they be Advocates, their pleading shall in no wise be recognized. If they be Notaries, the instruments prepared by them shall be wholly without effect or moment. Furthermore, clerics shall be ipso facto removed from all and sundry Cathedral, Metropolitan, and patriarchal Churches and dignities, Monasteries, benefices and ecclesiastical offices, even those in any way obtained, as stated above, by persons appointed through them. Both they and laymen appointed as aforesaid and endowed with said dignities shall be ipso facto deprived of any Kingdoms, Duchies, Domains, Fiefs, and temporal goods possessed through them. The Kingdoms, Duchies, Domains, Fiefs, and such goods shall be confiscated and return to the public domain, and shall come under the right and ownership of those persons who first occupy them, provided they be unblemished in Faith, united with the Holy Roman Church, and under Our obedience or that of Our Successors, the Roman Pontiffs canonically designated.

6. In addition, [We enact, determine, decree. define] that if ever at any time it shall appear [become evident or clear] any Bishop, even one conducting himself as an Archbishop, Patriarch, or primate; or any Cardinal of the aforesaid Roman Church, even as mentioned, a Legate; or likewise any Roman Pontiff before his promotion or elevation as a Cardinal or Roman Pontiff, [has strayed from the Catholic Faith or] fallen into some heresy, [or has incurred schism], then his promotion or elevation shall be null, invalid and void. It cannot be declared valid or become valid through his acceptance of the office, his consecration, subsequent possession or seeming possession of government and administration, or by the enthronement of or homage paid to the same Roman Pontiff, or by universal obedience accorded him, or by the passage of any time in said circumstances, [nor shall it be held as quasi-legitimate.] It shall not be considered to have given or to give any power of administration in matters spiritual or temporal, to such persons promoted as Archbishops, Patriarchs or primates or elevated as Cardinals or as Roman Pontiff. Rather, each and, every one of their statements, deeds, enactments, and administrative acts, of any kind, and any result thereof whatsoever, shall be without force and shall confer no legality or right on anyone. The persons themselves so promoted and elevated shall, ipso facto and without need for any further declaration, be deprived of any dignity, position, honor, title, authority, office and power, [without any exception as regards those who might have been promoted or elevated before they deviated from the faith, became heretics, incurred schism, or committed or encouraged any or all of these.]

7. It shall be lawful for all and sundry who would have been subject to persons so promoted and elevated, had these not first strayed from the Faith or been heretics, or incurred or incited or committed schism; for clerics, secular or regular, and for laymen; likewise for Cardinals, even for those who participated in the election of one straying from the Faith, or of a heretic or schismatic to the Papacy, or who otherwise presented and pledged him obedience and paid him homage; and for Castellans, Prefect’s, Captains, and also for officials of Our own beloved City and of all the Papal States, even if obliged and beholden to said promoted or elevated persons by homage, oath or bond, to depart with impunity at any time from obedience and allegiance to said promoted and elevated persons and to shun them as sorcerers, heathens, publicans, and heresiarchs — though subjects of the same remain, nevertheless, bound in fealty and obedience to future Bishops, Archbishops, Primates, Cardinals and the canonically established Roman Pontiff. For the greater confusion of persons thus promoted and elevated, if they attempt to continue their government and administration, all may implore the aid of the secular arm against those so advanced and elevated. Nor shall they be liable to reprisal through any censure or penalty, as renders of the Lord’s robe, for departing, for the reasons set forth above, from fealty and obedience to said promoted and elevated persons.

8. (Paragraph eight states the Bull is to remain “valid in perpetuity” and that it derogates or supercedes any and all other appointments, decrees, privileges, indults, and so forth in regards to spiritual matters, whether issued or granted by the hierarchy or the secular authorities.)

9. (Paragraph nine lays down the manner in which the Bull is to be published, distributed and posted.)

10. (Taken from the Briton’s Catholic Library translation): [No one at all, therefore, may infringe this document of our approbation, reintroduction, sanction, statute and derogation of wills and decrees, or by rash presumption contradict it. If anyone, however, should presume to attempt this, let him know that he is destined to incur the wrath of Almighty God and of the Blessed Apostles, Peter and Paul.] (Bullarium Romanum, Vol. 4, I pp. 352-357)


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