Church and State in the Modern Age: A Documentary History

By J. F. MacLear | Go to book overview
ecclesiastical power, nor to the keys of the Church, with respect to their temporal government. Their subjects cannot be released from the duty of obeying them, nor absolved from the oath of allegiance; and this maxim, necessary to public tranquillity, and not less advantageous to the Church than to the State, is to be strictly maintained, as conformable to the word of God, the tradition of the Fathers, and the example of the Saints.
The plenitude of power in things spiritual, which resides in the Apostolic See and the successors of St. Peter, is such that at the same time the decrees of the OEcumenical Council of Constance, in its fourth and fifth sessions, approved as they are by the Holy See and the practice of the whole Church, remain in full force and perpetual obligation; and the Gallican Church does not approve the opinion of those who would depreciate the said decrees as being of doubtful authority, insufficiently approved, or restricted in their application to a time of schism.1
Hence the exercise of the Apostolic authority must be regulated by the canons enacted by the Spirit of God and consecrated by the reverence of the whole world. The ancient rules, customs, and institutions received by the realm and Church of France remain likewise inviolable; and it is for the honour and glory of the Apostolic See that such enactments, confirmed by the consent of the said See and of the churches, should be observed without deviation.
The Pope has the principal place in deciding questions of faith, and his decrees extend to every church and all churches; but nevertheless his judgment is not irreversible until confirmed by the consent of the Church.

These articles, expressing truths which we have received from our fathers, we have determined to transmit to all the churches of France, and to the bishops appointed by the Holy Ghost to preside over them, in order that we may all speak the same thing, and concur in the same doctrine.

Source: W. Henley Jervis, The Gallican Church. A History of the Church of France, from the Concordat of Bologna, A.D. 1516, to the Revolution ( London, 1872), II, 49-51. Latin text in Léon Mention, Documents relatifs aux rapports du clergé avec la royauté de 1682 à 1705 ( Paris, 1893- 1903), p. 26.


SUGGESTIONS FOR BACKGROUND AND REFERENCE

G. R. Cragg, The Church and the Age of Reason, 1648-1789 ( London, 1961), pp. 17-36.

A. G. Martimort, Le gallicanisme de Bossuet ( Paris, 1953), pp. 361-523.

W. Müller et al., The Church in the Age of Absolutism and Enlightenment ( New York, 1981), pp. 57-70.

New Cambridge Modern History ( Cambridge, 1957- 1970), V, 135-39. Source for this document, II, 23-59.

____________________
1
The decree Sacrosancta ( April 1415), the most important legislation of the council, asserted: "This holy Council of Constance . . . declares, first that it is lawfully assembled in the Holy Spirit, that it constitutes a General Council, representing the Catholic Church, and that therefore it has its authority immediately from Christ; and that all men, of every rank and condition, including the Pope himself, is [sic] bound to obey it in matters concerning the Faith, the abolition of the schism, and the reformation of the Church of God in its head and its members. . . ." See Henry Bettenson (ed.), Documents of the Christian Church ( New York, 1963), p. 135.

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