Pope St. Pius V’s MOTU PROPRIO Inter Multiplices

(Dec. 21, 1566)

 Among the manifold cares that continuously affect our mind, the foremost is, as it should be, that the Church of God — entrusted to Us from on high and cleansed to the greatest degree possible of all heresies after the total removal of perverse teachings founded on erroneous opinions — be able to serve safely in Christ’s army and, like a ship on a calm sea, after all the tempestuous waves and storms have settled, sail without worry and reach the longed-for port of salvation. Therefore, while We, in our assignment at the Most Holy[1] Office of the Roman and Universal Inquisition, were dealing with matters in lesser affairs against heretical perversity, We learned at length from long custom and the teaching of experience that many indicted accused parties — parties who had been indicted even in the aforesaid Holy Office or elsewhere before a local bishop, parties who had been tried by inquisitors for heretical perversity and investigated for heretical perversity for causing false witnesses to be examined[2] in their defense, and who were enjoying the assistance and testimony of corroborating character witnesses[3] little informed of their life and teaching, and who, by various other illicit means, were deceiving and deluding through guileful justifications and roguery the aforesaid sacred Office of the Most Holy Inquisition, other judges, and even Roman Pontiffs — obtained or extracted, just as though they were innocent of the charges against them (1) definite declarations of absolution from the aforesaid judicial processes and inquisitions, (2) declaratory pronouncements of their life and teaching through a previous canonical clearance of a charge based on the oaths of others with respect to their presumed good and Catholic faith, or (3) decrees from the same Holy Office, from other ordinaries of places or delegates and inquisitors, and even from Roman Pontiffs who were our predecessors.

The aforementioned Roman Pontiffs confirmed these judicial pronouncements and decrees with the added imposition of permanent silence, along with a prohibition lest said Holy Office or other inquisitors might be able to or should go forward in respect to additional details. Also, moreover, the popes confirmed these pronouncements (a) by means of a summons to appear before the Roman Pontiff alone (under whose protection they were placed), (b) by means of other legal modifications, and (c) by the most legally effective provisos (some even nullifying), or (d) by other decrees, even by enhancing them in the form of a letter of indulgence. The pontiffs further confirmed these pronouncements through their several motu proprios and, in addition, through letters sent under the official seal or the ring of the Fisherman, even issued in consistory or in a consistorial manner.

Accordingly, the result was that the aforesaid investigated parties — under the cover and protection of the aforementioned declaratory pronouncements, Apostolic letters, and especially the force of a prohibitory proviso (made in secret against the inquisitors sitting in session) — never truly returned to the bosom of the Church, sometimes by even remaining openly steadfast in their old errors against the Catholic faith. Instead, by safely keeping company with others as Catholics, they were able to corrupt and infect the minds of those individuals and easily draw them into their own heretical opinions, to the not inconsequential scandal of all Christendom, and to the injury, ruin, and detriment of the aforesaid fallen souls.

  1. Desiring to confront this very dangerous and contagious scandal, to be mindful of and to provide for the salvation of the above-mentioned souls, to remove all the doubt and the disputes of legal experts and any impediments and obstacles by which the Holy Inquisition was hindered or delayed in any way whatsoever with regard to heretical perversity, by a like motu proprio, and based on Our established knowledge and on the fullness of Apostolic power, We declare, decree, establish, and ordain, by our Apostolic authority, that the following instruments have never been applicable nor in the future can be applicable to a decided case: (a) above all, each and every one whatsoever of the Apostolic letters under whatever form, including the afore cited and any judicial processes of heresy; (b) the motu proprios etc., including those issued in a consistorial manner and others howsoever derived; (c) likewise also the official attestations of the motu proprios and whatever other documents pertaining to the law and justice, which abate legal decisions; (d) similarly, the already mentioned letters in regard to the prosecutorial authority of the aforenamed Holy Office of the Inquisition and of other ordinary or appointed judges; (e) prohibitions and also repeals and whatever other provisos that open a loophole, insofar as they may be contrary to the inclination or the manner of procedure of the said Office.

We completely and perpetually revoke them, each and every one whatsoever by means of this Our universal constitution that will be valid perpetually. We include in our revocation those documents that confer absolution in instances of declared innocence, or those declaratory judgments issuing from a previous canonical clearance in any verbal form whatsoever, including definitive judgments and decrees incurred in favor of the same parties investigated and denounced by the afore cited Holy Office, by other ordinary and appointed judges, and even by the Roman Pontiffs, or those judgments and decrees that are to be imposed in the future even by Us and by our successor Popes in the course of time.

  1. In respect to the aforementioned judgments and decrees, albeit in accordance with Apostolic letters, even those in the form of an indulgence, including those renewed, and also those issued, confirmed or to be confirmed by several Roman Pontiffs, along with any legal modifications whatsoever, including nullifying or other provisos or decrees, as well as prohibitions and even canonical sanctions, We desire the contents of each and every one of them, and of others sent in advance, and of those thence to follow, to be considered as included expressly and totally in this present document, as if they were incorporated word for word, notwithstanding any others whatever acting to the contrary. Furthermore, by the same Apostolic authority, We, in like manner, wish and command, through the agency of the aforesaid Holy Office of the Holy Inquisition and the Cardinals of the Holy Roman Church (our beloved present-day sons and those who will emerge over the course of time as inquisitors of heretical perversity, appointed now and in the course of time over said Office), that the same accused, denounced, and investigated individuals can and should be investigated and tried again, even if they were or are Bishops, Archbishops, Patriarchs, Primates, Cardinals of the same Holy Roman Church, Legates, including the highest ranking Papal Legates, Counts, Barons, Marquises, Dukes, Kings, and Emperors, both in respect to the past as well as recent times with regard to the same issues of law, the witnesses received or to be received, and other arguments, proofs, and evidence, according to the faculties in any way whatever given and conceded to the same Cardinal inquisitors by Us and by any of Our predecessors, and respectively to be given and conceded in the future by Our successors, the Roman Pontiffs, who emerge in the course of time, and by the Apostolic See (completely and wholly as well), just as if the aforementioned judgments, decrees, and Apostolic letters, including canonical clearances, had not been issued in favor of the aforesaid denounced, accused, and investigated persons, including Bishops, Archbishops, Patriarchs, Primates, Cardinals, Legates, Counts, Barons, Marquises, Dukes, Kings, and Emperors[4], especially where it would appear, by means of new, supervening evidence of the same or another species of heresy (including evidence relating to past time), and through other evidence, that the party had been absolved by illicit means before he had been denounced or investigated.

We grant to the same Cardinal inquisitors, appointed now and in the course of time over the Holy Office of the Holy Inquisition, the full, free, abundant, and complete faculty, power, and authority (a) of reviewing cases of this kind, including those decided by the authority of the Universal Ecumenical Council of Trent; and (b) of taking them up again under the status and terms in which they were howsoever found before the aforementioned judgments, decrees, including canonical clearances; and (c) of bringing them to a close by a proper settlement, just as in other pending undecided cases it may and usually does occur through the agency of the same Cardinals in accordance with their faculties.

  1. And closely following upon the footsteps of Our predecessor of happy memory Paul IV, We renew, in accordance with this motu proprio, the constitution against heretics and schismatics previously issued by the same predecessor Paul, namely the one dated at Rome at St. Peter’s[5], in the year of our Lord’s Incarnation, February 15, 1558 [sic][6], in the fourth year of his pontificate, and We also confirm it as inviolable and wish and command that it be observed to the letter, according to its contents and wording.

 Given at Rome, at St. Peter’s, December 21, [1566,] in the first year [of Our pontificate].

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Editor’s Note: It should be noted here that during the reign of Pope Paul IV, Pope St. Pius V was well acquainted with Cardinal Giovanni Morone, imprisoned and placed on trial by Pope Paul IV as a heretic. Morone was charged with reading forbidden books and conspiring with other cardinals to reconcile the Catholic faith with Lutheranism. The Catholic Encyclopedia classifies him as a liberal. (It must be remembered that it was the Lutherans who first promoted the papal antichrist theory.) Pope Paul IV published two bulls; one on “engaging in intrigues to reach the pontificate” (Artaud de Montor, “Lives and Times of the Popes,”) on Dec. 16, 1558 and the other only two months later — Cum ex Apsotolatus Officio. De Montor tells us that St. Charles Borromeo so strongly approved of the 1558 bull that he “absolutely declined to talk about the future pope.” It should not be forgotten here that Roncalli, a suspected Modernist as a young priest, also campaigned for his election prior to Pope Pius XII’s death, (see the articles on Roncalli in the section on antipopes, Free Content page.)

The first bull was most likely written after Paul IV realized his health was failing, for he died the same year Cum ex…was written. Seeing that sympathy was mounting for Morone and support gathering for his exoneration and future election; knowing he would be a likely candidate, the pope took the appropriate precautions. (This provision can still be found today, reflected in Pope Pius XII’s papal election constitution Vacantis Apostolica Sedis.) When no verdict came in Morone’s trial, the pope realized there, too, the dangers it would pose to the Church should a man not cleared of heresy be elected. When Paul IV died, Morone, still a prisoner, was released to attend the conclave. At first he was one of three frontrunners, but ran full force into Cardinal Ghislieri, the future Pope St. Pius V. Of all people, Cardinal Hergenrother is reported to have written, in his “The History of the Popes,” (late 1800s) that Morone’s campaign was quashed by the intervention of Cardinal Ghislieri, who pointedly remarked that Morone’s election would be invalid owing to the question mark hanging over his orthodoxy.

Pope St. Pius V had good reason, then, to ratify Cum ex… Pope Pius IV may have exonerated Morone of all charges of heresy leveled by Pope Paul IV, yet Pope St. Pius V says in his motu proprio above that previous popes were deceived by men such as Morone, and the letters exonerating them, “even from Roman Pontiffs who were our predecessors,” were to be considered null and void. Clearly this was a vindication of Pope Paul IV’s suspicions of Morone by the saint who prevented his election as pope.

(This comment and all emphasis in Pope St. Pius V’s document was added by T. Stanfill Benns. Footnotes are by the translator.)

[1] The text reading sanctissime has been emended by translator to sanctissimi. Verified against Bullarum Diplomatum et Privilegiorum Sanctorum Romanorum Pontificum, vol. 7 (Turin, 1862).

[2] The text reading mandati has been emended by translator to mandari. Verified against Bullarum Diplomatum et Privilegiorum Sanctorum Romanorum Pontificum, vol. 7 (Turin, 1862).

[3] The Latin word, compurgator, technically means one of a group of neighbors called by the accused to swear that he was testifying truthfully. “Character witness” is an approximation since compurgators were not witnesses but oath takers who expressed their belief in the truthfulness of the accused’s testimony.

[4] The text reading Imperatorem has been emended by translator to Imperatorum. Verified against Bullarum Diplomatum et Privilegiorum Sanctorum Romanorum Pontificum, vol. 7 (Turin, 1862).

[5] The text reading Patrum has been emended by translator to Petrum. Verified against Bullarum Diplomatum et Privilegiorum Sanctorum Romanorum Pontificum, vol. 7 (Turin, 1862).

[6] Same year given in several different editions of the Bullarum. Other sources on the Internet give the year of Cum ex apostolatus as 1559. Lancelotti’s Bullarum prints Cum ex apostolatus with year of 1558 and a date of 16 (not 15 as in Inter multiplices) days before the Kalends of March, or February 14.

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