Papal bull defining, and declaring that the jurisdiction of heretics, schismatics, apostates or those found deviated from the faith is Null and Void.
By virtue of the Apostolic office which, despite our unworthiness, has been entrusted to Us by God, We are responsible for the general care of the flock of the Lord. Because of this, in order that the flock may be faithfully guarded and beneficially directed, We are bound to be diligently watchful after the manner of a vigilant Shepherd and to ensure most carefully that certain people who consider the study of the truth beneath them should be driven out of the sheepfold of Christ and no longer continue to disseminate error from positions of authority. We refer in particular to those who in this age, impelled by their sinfulness and supported by their cunning, are attacking with unusual learning and malice the discipline of the orthodox Faith, and who, moreover, by perverting the import of Holy Scripture, are striving to rend the unity of the Catholic Church and the seamless tunic of the Lord.
1.In assessing Our duty and the situation now prevailing, We have been weighed upon by the thought that a matter of this kind [i.e. error in respect of the Faith] is so grave and so dangerous that the Roman Pontiff, who is the representative upon earth of God and our God and Lord Jesus Christ, who holds the fulness of power over peoples and kingdoms, who may judge all and be judged by none in this world, may nonetheless be contradicted if he be found to have deviated from the Faith. Remembering also that, where danger is greater, it must more fully and more diligently be counteracted, We have been concerned lest false prophets or others, even if they have only secular jurisdiction, should wretchedly ensnare the souls of the simple, and drag with them into perdition, destruction and damnation countless peoples committed to their care and rule, either in spiritual or in temporal matters; and We have been concerned also lest it may befall Us to see the abomination of desolation, which was spoken of by the prophet Daniel, in the holy place. In view of this, Our desire has been to fulfil our Pastoral duty, insofar as, with the help of God, We are able, so as to arrest the foxes who are occupying themselves in the destruction of the vineyard of the Lord and to keep the wolves from the sheepfolds, lest We seem to be dumb watchdogs that cannot bark and lest We perish with the wicked husbandman and be compared with the hireling.
Thus We will and decree that the aforementioned sentences, censures and penalties be incurred without exception by all members of the following categories:
(i) Anysoever who, before this date, shall have been detected to have deviated from the Catholic Faith, or fallen into any heresy, or incurred schism, or provoked or committed either or both of these, or who have confessed to have done any of these things, or who have been convicted of having done any of these things.
(ii) Anysoever who (which may God, in His clemency and goodness to all, deign to avert) shall in the future so deviate or fall into heresy, or incur schism, or shall provoke or commit either or both of these.
(iii) Anysoever who shall be detected to have so deviated, fallen, incurred, provoked or committed, or who shall confess to have done any of these things, or who shall be convicted of having done any of these things.
6. In addition, [by this Our Constitution, which is to remain valid in perpetuity We enact, determine, decree and define:] that if ever at any time it shall appear that any Bishop, even if he be acting as an Archbishop, Patriarch or Primate; or any Cardinal of the aforesaid Roman Church, or, as has already been mentioned, any legate, or even the Roman Pontiff, prior to his promotion or his elevation as Cardinal or Roman Pontiff, has deviated from the Catholic Faith or fallen into some heresy:
(i) the promotion or elevation, even if it shall have been uncontested and by the unanimous assent of all the Cardinals, shall be null, void and worthless;
(ii) it shall not be possible for it to acquire validity (nor for it to be said that it has thus acquired validity) through the acceptance of the office, of consecration, of subsequent authority, nor through possession of administration, nor through the putative enthronement of a Roman Pontiff, or Veneration, or obedience accorded to such by all, nor through the lapse of any period of time in the foregoing situation;
(iii) it shall not be held as partially legitimate in any way;
(iv) to any so promoted to be Bishops, or Archbishops, or Patriarchs, or Primates or elevated as Cardinals, or as Roman Pontiff, no authority shall have been granted, nor shall it be considered to have been so granted either in the spiritual or the temporal domain;
(v) each and all of their words, deeds, actions and enactments, howsoever made, and anything whatsoever to which these may give rise, shall be without force and shall grant no stability whatsoever nor any right to anyone;
(vi) those thus promoted or elevated shall be deprived automatically, and without need for any further declaration, of all dignity, position, honour, title, authority, office and power.
7. Finally, [by this Our Constitution, which is to remain valid in perpetuity, We] also [enact, determine, define and decree]: that any and all persons who would have been subject to those thus promoted or elevated if they had not previously deviated from the Faith, become heretics, incurred schism or provoked or committed any or all of these, be they members of anysoever of the following categories: the Cardinals, even those who shall have taken part in the election of this very Pontiff previously deviating from the Faith or heretical or schismatical, or shall otherwise have consented and vouchsafed obedience to him and shall have venerated him; Castellans, Prefects, Captains and Officials, even of Our Beloved City and of the entire Ecclesiastical State, even if they shall be obliged and beholden to those thus promoted or elevated by homage, oath or security; shall be permitted at any time to withdraw with impunity from obedience and devotion to those thus promoted or elevated and to avoid them as warlocks, heathens, publicans, and heresiarchs (the same subject persons, nevertheless, remaining bound by the duty of fidelity and obedience to any future Bishops, Archbishops, Patriarchs, Primates, Cardinals and Roman Pontiff canonically entering).
10. No one at all, therefore, may infringe this document of our approbation, re-introduction, 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.
Given in Rome at Saint Peter's in the year of the Incarnation of the Lord 1559, 15th February, in the fourth year of our Pontificate.
+ I, Paul, Bishop of the Catholic Church of Rome