Friday, March 09, 2007

Regnans in Excelsis

Pius Bishop, servant of the servants of God, in lasting memory of the matter.

He that reigneth on high, to whom is given all power in heaven and earth, has committed one holy Catholic and apostolic Church, outside of which there is no salvation, to one alone upon earth, namely to Peter, the first of the apostles, and to Peter's successor, the pope of Rome, to be by him governed in fullness of power. Him alone He has made ruler over all peoples and kingdoms, to pull up, destroy, scatter, disperse, plant and build, so that he may preserve His faithful people (knit together with the girdle of charity) in the unity of the Spirit and present them safe and spotless to their Saviour.

1. In obedience to which duty, we (who by God's goodness are called to the aforesaid government of the Church) spare no pains and labour with all our might that unity and the Catholic religion (which their Author, for the trial of His children's faith and our correction, has suffered to be afflicted with such great troubles) may be preserved entire. But the number of the ungodly has so much grown in power that there is no place left in the world which they have not tried to corrupt with their most wicked doctrines; and among others, Elizabeth, the pretended queen of England and the servant of crime, has assisted in this, with whom as in a sanctuary the most pernicious of all have found refuge. This very woman, having seized the crown and monstrously usurped the place of supreme head of the Church in all England to gether with the chief authority and jurisdiction belonging to it, has once again reduced this same kingdom- which had already been restored to the Catholic faith and to good fruits- to a miserable ruin.

2. Prohibiting with a strong hand the use of the true religion, which after its earlier overthrow by Henry VIII (a deserter therefrom) Mary, the lawful queen of famous memory, had with the help of this See restored, she has followed and embraced the errors of the heretics. She has removed the royal Council, composed of the nobility of England, and has filled it with obscure men, being heretics; oppressed the followers of the Catholic faith; instituted false preachers and ministers of impiety; abolished the sacrifice of the mass, prayers, fasts, choice of meats, celibacy, and Catholic ceremonies; and has ordered that books of manifestly heretical content be propounded to the whole realm and that impious rites and institutions after the rule of Calvin, entertained and observed by herself, be also observed by her subjects. She has dared to eject bishops, rectors of churches and other Catholic priests from their churches and benefices, to bestow these and other things ecclesiastical upon heretics, and to determine spiritual causes; has forbidden the prelates, clergy and people to acknowledge the Church of Rome or obey its precepts and canonical sanctions; has forced most of them to come to terms with her wicked laws, to abjure the authority and obedience of the pope of Rome, and to accept her, on oath, as their only lady in matters temporal and spiritual; has imposed penalties and punishments on those who would not agree to this and has exacted then of those who perserved in the unity of the faith and the aforesaid obedience; has thrown the Catholic prelates and parsons into prison where many, worn out by long languishing and sorrow, have miserably ended their lives. All these matter and manifest and notorius among all the nations; they are so well proven by the weighty witness of many men that there remains no place for excuse, defence or evasion.

3. We, seeing impieties and crimes multiplied one upon another the persecution of the faithful and afflictions of religion daily growing more severe under the guidance and by the activity of the said Elizabeth -and recognising that her mind is so fixed and set that she has not only despised the pious prayers and admonitions with which Catholic princes have tried to cure and convert her but has not even permitted the nuncios sent to her in this matter by this See to cross into England, are compelled by necessity to take up against her the weapons of juctice, though we cannot forbear to regret that we should be forced to turn, upon one whose ancestors have so well deserved of the Christian community. Therefore, resting upon the authority of Him whose pleasure it was to place us (though unequal to such a burden) upon this supreme justice-seat, we do out of the fullness of our apostolic power declare the foresaid Elizabeth to be a heretic and favourer of heretics, and her adherents in the matters aforesaid to have incurred the sentence of excommunication and to be cut off from the unity of the body of Christ.

4. And moreover (we declare) her to be deprived of her pretended title to the aforesaid crown and of all lordship, dignity and privilege whatsoever.
5. And also (declare) the nobles, subjects and people of the said realm and all others who have in any way sworn oaths to her, to be forever absolved from such an oath and from any duty arising from lordshop. fealty and obedience; and we do, by authority of these presents , so absolve them and so deprive the same Elizabeth of her pretended title to the crown and all other the abovesaid matters. We charge and command all and singular the nobles, subjects, peoples and others afore said that they do not dare obey her orders, mandates and laws. Those who shall act to the contrary we include in the like sentence of excommunication.

6. Because in truth it may prove too difficult to take these presents wheresoever
it shall be necessary, we will that copies made under the hand of a notary public and sealed with the seal of a prelate of the Church or of his court shall have such force and trust in and out of judicial proceedings, in all places among the nations, as these presents would themselves have if they were exhibted or shown.

Given at St. Peter's at Rome, on 27 April 1570 of the Incarnation; in the fifth year of our pontificate.

Pius PP.

The fashionable historians denounce it as the rash act of a holy, clear-thinking, but politically naive man. It wasn't fashionable, but it was right. Indeed, perhaps we need a little more holiness and clear thinking from Roman quarters (and from other points in the hierarchy), and a little more political naivete. A click of the news....from the UK, from the Czech Republic, from Red China, from the United States confirms it. I hinted at such myself last year. Perhaps Cardinal Biffi will give us a taste of that very sort of thing...the thing we had a taste of back in the days of Cardinal Ratzinger.


Anonymous said...

An interesting post. Thanks for posting this. But I do have one

You posted.

"He that reigneth on high, to whom
is given all power in heaven and
earth, has committed one holy
Catholic and apostolic Church,
outside of which there is no

This is a rather clear statement concerning 'Extra Ecclesiam Nulla Salus (EENS)', or 'no salvation outside the Church'.

The Catholic Catechism makes it clear how Catholics are to understand the term EENS; and the colloquial phrase 'God is not bound by His sacraments' is a phrase to describe the Church's current understanding of EENS (along with the understanding that Catholics, once joining the Church and understanding its unique position in the world concerning salvation, are not to leave).

So, my question is this: How do YOU understand the term EENS; and are you advocating a stricter interpretation? Also, how does the SSPX define EENS?


Rick Jones

Curmudgeon said...

How do I explain EENS? I'm not a theologian. It is sufficient for me to say that I affirm every point of doctrine the Catholic Church teaches as true, including without limitation the statement "I" posted above, which is of course, not my statement, but that of Michele Ghisleri, Pope St. Pius V, the man sent by our Lord to be his vicar on earth during a time of terrible crisis, and a man who truly understood and who did his duty with courage, with zeal, and with faith in our Lord's providence unlike those who went before him, and unlike the vast majority of those other successors of the apostles of his time who waivered, made excuses, and (at best) bided their time with pastoral gobbledy-gook.

How does the SSPX define EENS? I don't know; the SSPX does not have its own doctrine, and I suspect if you ask Bp. Fellay or one of their seminary professors, they'd give you a very similar answer to the one I gave. Then they'd probably follow it up with a give you a 30 minute explanation about how the modern "pastoral" gloss on this unchangeable doctrine of the Church, while perhaps not explicitly heretical when formulated as it is in the Catechism, leads to religious indifferentism and the loss of souls. But I'm not affiliated with the SSPX, much less authorized to speak for them, so I invite you to ask them (or just go to their website,'d bet it's in their FAQ section).

Am I advocating a "stricter interpretation"? No. I'm not advocating any doctrinal argument. Such would be beyond my competence. I have no doctrinal object in posting this at all; it's not a Magisterial document; rather it's an exercise of St. Pius' office as supreme governor of Holy Mother office that our Holy Father and our Ordinaries so often forget they possess (unless, of course, there's something going on among the traddies that must be put down).

My object in the posting the Bull was to highlight a model of courage and authority from a past Holy Father, and to let it stand in contrast to today's typical hierarch, helpless before secularlist civil authorities, beset by Satan's little helpers on all sides who are nibbling away at the edges of Holy Mother Church, and so far from defending her, facilitating them with "pastoral" ambiguities and unilateral civility. One certain midwestern Archbishop with a pro-choice governor under his jurisdiction immediately comes to mind, as does the Archbishop of Prague, the entire hierarchies of California, Massachusetts, the United Kingdom, and all but one of the Canadian bishops.

Curmudgeon said...

Oh, yes, and let's not forget to see how this Bull compares to recent Roman reaction to the schism and persecutions in China....

Anonymous said...

This was more or less the end of the confessional state was it not?

Curmudgeon said...

Not at all. Confessional states continued well into the 20th century, albeit the masons have the upper hand almost everywhere now. Our own wretched Woody Wilson did his bit to destrow the last vestiges of Christendom in Central Europe, of course. But we will someday, in the great reallignment that must certainly come after the leftists have completed their cultural suicide and the moslems finally conquer most of old Europe, unless our Lord finally calls us to judgment day. The remnants of the Church will necessarily regroup somewhere, and we will work to reestablish such a state.

Anonymous said...

Perhaps beginning of the end would have been a better choice of words. The Pope deposed a ruler and yet she went on ruling. The other monarchs could not help but notice the lack of consequences, at least in this world.

The masons may have given us the written constitution but that came a couple of centuries later.

Anonymous said...


Thanks for your reply.

Rick Jones

Ben said...

Dear Curmedgeon,

Thanks for posting this! A truly heroic example for us all. I know this is an old post, but still...

P.S. I was wondering if you could answer this problem: when St. Edmund Campion was asked if he accepted Elizabeth as queen, he agreed. Wouldn't this make him excommunicated?

Curmudgeon said...

Ben, another question beyond my competence. I would guess that his statement might have been conditional. I understand (from reading biographies of Fisher and More) that it was an element of the English constitution by that time that the king was whomever parliament said it was...they didn't have anything so strict as the Salic law in Britain. Perhaps he was saying in context that if things were set aright, he would accept her. Also, I don't knowwhether the bull came before or after Campion's statement. And also, I'm not an expert on canon law, past or present.

But I would perhaps say that it would seem whatever imperfections Campion suffered in exercising his ministry, and whatever censures were imposed latae sententiae, were washed away by the blood of his martyrdom. Think about it...even someone as reckless and imprudent as .... say .... Bp. Williamson of the SSPX .... would, if he died a martyr for the faith (and not for his unfashionable historical and political opinions) nonetheless be acknowledged a saint.