Wednesday, April 22, 2009

History Unveiled: Papal Bull Threatening Luther With Excommunication

Copyright © Archivio Segreto Vaticano

Rome, 1520 June 15th

From the Vatican (No longer) Secret Archives:

The copy of the long text of the bull, on which, as well as Leo X, also Giovanni Eck and the Cardinals Benedetto Accolti and Giulio de’ Medici (the future Clement VII) worked on it, is found in the register of Pope Medici, mainly at his eighth and ninth year of papacy (Reg. Vat., 1160, ff. 251r-259v). The originals that were sent had an unfortunate destiny and were nearly all destroyed; as everyone knows, when Luther received the bull he burnt it on 10th December 1520 at Wittenberg, along with the books of canon right, a clear sign of his rebellion against Rome.

With the Bull Exsurge Domine, where Luther’s name is repeated several times, Leo X condemns the 41 propositions or errors, drawn from the works of the Saxon monk, such as «vel hereticos, vel falsos, vel scandalosos, vel piarum aurium offensivos, vel simplicium mentium seductivos»; the propositions that were condemned regarded the «fides fiduciosa», the justification, the grace, the ecclesiastic hierarchy, the efficacy of the sacraments, the purgatory, repentance, the indulgencies and the original sin. The Pope ordered all the Christian faithful to not keep, read, defend or print Martin Luther’s books that contained these errors, moreover he exhorted them to burn them publicly. With regard to the innovator of Eisleben, for whom the Pope declared he had worked very hard (Quod vero ad ipsum Martinum attinet - bone Deus! - quid praetermisimus, quid non fecimus, quid paterne caritatis omisimus ut eum an huiusmodi erroribus revocaremus?), it was announced that he would have been excommunicated, if he had not made an act of obedience within 60 days from promulgation of the Bull in Germany.

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