The Decretals (Cont.) Decrees of Fabian.

Taken from the Decretal of Gratian

I. That the Man Who Refuses to Be Reconciled to His Brother Should Be Reduced by the Severest Fastings.1

If any injured person refuses to be reconciled to his brother, when he who has injured him offers satisfaction, he should be reduced by the severest fastings, even until he accepts the satisfaction offered him with thankful mind.

II. The Man Is Rendered Infamous Who Knowingly Presumes to Forswear Himself.2

Whosoever has knowingly forsworn himself, should be put for forty days on bread and water, and do penance also for the seven following years; and he should never be without penance; and he should never be admitted to bear witness. After this, however, he may enjoy communion.

III. A Man And a Woman Subject to Madness Cannot Enter into Marriage.3

Neither can a mad man nor a mad woman enter into the marriage relation. But if it has been entered, then they shall not be separated.

IV. Marriage Relations in the Fifth Generation May Unite with Each Other; and in the Fourth Generation, if They Are Found, They Should Not Be Separated.4

Concerning relations who enter affinity by the connection of husband and wife, these, on the decease of wife or husband, may form a union in the fifth generation; and in the fourth, if they are found, they should not be separated. In the third degree of relationship, however, it is not lawful for one to take the wife of another on his death. In an equable manner, a man may be united in marriage after his wife’s death with those who are his own kinswomen, and with the kinswomen of his wife.

To the Immediately Preceding Notice.5

Those who marry a wife allied by blood, and are separated, shall not be at liberty, as long as both parties are alive, to unite other wives with them in marriage, unless they can plead the excuse of ignorance.

V. Blood Connections Alone, or, if Offspring Entirely Fails, the Old and Trustworthy, Should Reckon the Matter of Propinquity in the Synod.6

No alien should accuse blood connections, or reckon the matter of consanguinity in the synod, but relations to whose knowledge it pertains, — that is, father and mother, sister and brother, paternal uncle, maternal uncle, paternal aunt, maternal aunt, and their children. If, however, offspring entirely fails, the bishop shall make inquiry canonically of the older and more trustworthy persons to whom the same relationship may be known; and if such relationship is found, the parties should be separated.

VI. Every One of the Faithful Should Communicate Three Times a Year.7

Although they may not do it more frequently, yet at least three times in the year should the laity communicate, unless one happen to be hindered by any more serious offences, — to wit, at Easter, and Pentecost, and the Lord’s Nativity.

VII. A Presbyter Should Not Be Ordained Younger Than Thirty Years Of Age.8

If one has not completed thirty years of age, he should in no way be ordained as presbyter, even although he may be extremely worthy; for even the Lord Himself was baptized only when He was thirty years of age, and at that period He began to teach. It is not right, therefore, that one who is to be ordained should be consecrated until he has reached this legitimate age. 


The Decrees of the Same, from the Codex of Decrees in Sixteen Books, from the Fifth Book, and the Seventh and Ninth

I. That the Oblation of the Altar Should Be Made Each Lord’s Day.

We decree that on each Lord’s day the oblation of the altar should be made by men and women in bread and wine, in order that by means of these sacrifices they may be released from the burden of their sins.

II. That an Illiterate Presbyter May Not Venture to Celebrate Mass.

The sacrifice is not to be accepted from the hand of a priest who is not competent to discharge the prayers or actions (actiones) and other observances in the mass according to religious usage.





1 Dist. 90, Si quis coaeririaeus. Basil, in Reg., c. 74.

2 6, Q. 1, Quicunque sciens. Regino in the Book of Penance.

3 32, Q. 7, Neque furiosus. And the Decret. Ivo., book vi, Regino adduces it from the law of Rome.

4 35, Q. 2 and 3, de proponquis. From the Pœnitentiale of Theodorus.

5 From the same.

6 35 Q. 6, Consauguineos extraneorum. And in the Decret. Ivo., vii.

7 de Consecr., dist. 2, Etsi non. And in the Decret. Ivo., i.

8 Dist. 78, Si quis, 30; and in the Decret. Ivo., iii.; from Martin Bracar, ch. 20.




(From Clement to Melchiades)

The early Bishops of Rome, who till the time of Sylvester (a.d. 325) were, with few exceptions, like him pure and faithful shepherds, and not lords over God’s heritage, shall here be enumerated. But first let us settle in few words the historic facts as to the See.

St. Paul was, clearly, the Apostolic founder of the Roman church, as appears from Holy Scripture. St. Peter seems to have come to Rome not long before his martyrdom. Linus and Cletus could not have been Bishops of Rome, for they were merely coadjutors of the Apostles during their lifetime. Clement was the first who succeeded to their work after their death; and thus he should unquestionably be made the first of the Roman bishops, — a position of which he was eminently worthy, for his was the spirit of St. Peter himself,1 as set forth in that incomparable passage of his first Epistle,2 in which the Apostle bids all his brethren to be shepherds indeed, and “ensamples to the flock.” We may therefore give the outline of this history as follows: — 

1. St. Paul was the “Apostle of the Gentiles,” and St. Peter of “the Circumcision.”

2. St. Paul came first to Rome, and organized the Christians he found there after the pattern “ordained in all the churches.”

3. He had Linus for his coadjutor, being himself a prisoner, until he went into Spain.

4. St. Peter came to Rome (circa a.d. 64), and laboured with the Jewish Christians there, St. Paul recognising his mission among them.

5. This Apostle (soon thrown into prison) had Cletus for his coadjutor.

6. In the Neronian persecution Linus seem to have suffered with St. Paul, and probably Cletus as well. The latter died before St. Peter.

7. St. Peter, therefore, about to suffer himself, ordains Clement to succeed him.

8. As he was the first “successor of the Apostles,” therefore, in the See of Rome, and the first who had jurisdiction there (for the Apostles certainly never surrendered their mission to their coadjutors), it follows that Clement was the first Bishop of Rome.

9. This is confirmed by the earliest testimony, — that of Ignatius.

10. It agrees with Tertullian’s testimony, and he speaks (as a lawyer and expert) from “the registers.” Irenæus, speaking less precisely, may be harmonized with these testimonies without violence to what he reports. 


Bishops of Rome.


Bishop Dates (a.d.) Bishop Dates (a.d.)   

1. Clement 68-71 16. Anterus 235-236   

2. Evaristus 72-108 17. Fabianus 236-249   

3. Alexander 109-117 18. Cornelius 251-251   

4. Xystus I 117-127 19. Lucius 252-252   

5. Telesphorus 127-138 20. Stephen 253-256   

6. Hyginus 139-142 21. Xystus II 257-258   

7. Pius 142-156 22. Dionysius 259-269   

8. Anicetus 156-168 23. Felix 269-274   

9. Sorer 768-176 24. Eutychianus 275-282   

10. Eleutherus 176-189 25. Caius 283-295   

11. Victor 190-201 26. Marcellinus 296-304   

12. Zephyrinus 201-218 27. Marcellus 308-309   

13. Callistus 218-222 28. Eusebius 310-310   

14. Urban 223-230 29. Melchiades 311-314   

15. Pontianus 230-234 30. Sylvester 314-335  


N.B. — After A.D. 325 the Bishops of Rome are canonical primates; the Bishops of New Rome primates equally, but second on the list; then Alexandria, Antioch, Ephesus. The Councils of Constantinople and Chalcedon state that these primacies were awarded because Rome and New Rome were the capitals of the œcumene, or empire. The primacy conferred no authority over the sister Sees of Apostolic foundation, and recognised no inequality among bishops, save those of such honorary distinction.


The Patriarchate.

1. From (A.D. 325) Sylvester to Gregory the Great, and his successor, who lived but one year, the Bishops of Rome were canonical primates.

2. Boniface III. accepted the court title of “Universal Bishop” (A.D. 606) from the Emperor Phocas, but it was not recognised by the Church.

3. From this time to Adrian I. many Bishops of Rome vied with those of Constantinople to augment their honour and power. The establishment of the Western Empire (A.D. 800) made their ambitious claims acceptable to the Latins; and they became primates of all Christendom in Western estimation, with extra-canonical and indefinite claims as “successors of St. Peter.”

4. Nicholas I. (A.D. 863), by means of the False Decretals, gave shape to these extra-canonical claims, abrogated the Nicene Constitutions in the West by making these Decretals canon-law, and asserted a supremacy over the old patriarchares, which they never allowed: hence the schism of the West from the Apostolic Sees of the East, and from the primitive discipline which established the Papacy, as now understood.

5. From Nicholas I. (who died A.D. 867) the Latin churches recognised this Papacy more or less; the Gallicans resisting, though feebly, by asserting their “liberties,” according to Nicene Constitutions.

6. Gregory VII., honestly persuaded that the Decretals were authentic, enforced these spurious canons without reference to antiquity, and pronounced the title of “Pope” the sole and peculiar dignity of the Bishops of Rome A.D. 1073. He reigned from A.D. 1061 to 1085.

7. The churches of England and France, which claimed to be outside of the “holy Roman Empire,” under kings whose own crowns were “imperial,” maintained a perpetual contest with the Papacy, admitted the extra-canonical “primacy,” but resisted all claims to “supremacy.” 

8. School-doctrines were framed and enforced, but were extra-symbolic, and of no Catholic authority. They abused the episcopate to exalt the Papacy.

9. The Council of Trent, after the Northern revolt from the Papacy and School-doctrine, sat seventeen years (from A.D. 1545 to A.D. 1563) framing the “Roman-Catholic Church” out of the remainder of national churches, depriving them of their nationalities, and making out of them all, with the missions in America, one mixed confederation, to which it gave a new creed and new organic laws; debasing the entire episcopate (which it denied to he an order distinct from that of presbyters), and making the Pope the “Universal Bishop,” with other bishops reduced to presbyters, acting as his local vicars.

10. The Gallicans feebly withstood these changes, and strove to maintain the primitive Constitutions by accommodations with their theory of the “Gallican liberties,” as founded by St. Louis.

11. Gallicanism was extinguished by Pope Pius IX., who proclaimed the Pope “infallible,” and thus raised his “supremacy” into an article of the Roman-Catholic faith.

12. The following is the modern creed of “Roman Catholics,” which, with the latest additions, embodies a library of dogmas in the eleventh article, and now, since the decree of Infallibility makes the entire Bullary (a vast library of decrees and definitions), equally part of the Creed.3


The Trentine Creed, or the Creed of Pius IV., a.d. 1564.

1. I most stedfastly admit and embrace Apostolical and ecclesiastical traditions, and all other observances and constitutions of the Church.

2. I also admit the Holy Scripture according to that sense which our holy mother the Church has held, and does hold, to which it belongs to judge of the true sense and interpretations of the Scriptures. Neither will I ever take and interpret them otherwise than according to the unanimous consent of the Fathers.

3. I also profess that there are truly and properly seven sacraments of the New Law, instituted by Jesus Christ our Lord, and necessary for the salvation of mankind, though not all for every one; to wit, Baptism, Confirmation, Eucharist, Penance, Extreme Unction, Order, and Matrimony; and that they confer grace; and that of these, Baptism, Confirmation, and Order cannot be reiterated without sacrilege. I also receive and admit the received and approved ceremonies of the Catholic Church in the solemn administration of the aforesaid sacraments.

4. I embrace and receive all and every one of the things which have been defined and declared in the holy Council of Trent concerning original sin and justification.

5. I profess, likewise, that in the Mass there is offered to God a true, proper, and propitiatory sacrifice for the living and the dead; and that in the most holy sacrament of the Eucharist there is truly, really, and substantially, the body and blood, together with the soul and divinity, of our Lord Jesus Christ; and that there is made a conversion of the whole substance of the bread into the body, and of the whole substance of the wine into the blood, which conversion the Catholic Church calls Transubstantiation. I also confess that under either kind alone Christ is received whole and entire, and a true sacrament.

6. I constantly hold that there is a Purgatory, and that the souls therein detained are helped by the suffrages of the faithful.

7. Likewise, that the saints, reigning together with Christ, are to be honoured and invocated, and that they offer prayers to God for us, and that their relics are to be respected.

8. I most firmly assert that the images of Christ, of the mother of God, ever virgin, and also of the saints, ought to be had and retained, and that due honour and veneration is to be given them.

9. I also affirm that the power of indulgences was left by Christ in the Church, and that the use of them is most wholesome to Christian people.

10. I acknowledge the Holy Catholic Apostolic Roman Church for the mother and mistress of all churches; and I promise true obedience to the Bishop of Rome, successor to St. Peter, Prince of the Apostles, and Vicar of Jesus Christ.

11. I likewise undoubtedly receive and profess all other things delivered, defined, and declared by the sacred Canons, and general Councils, and particularly by the holy Council of Trent. 

12. And I condemn, reject, and anathematize all things contrary thereto, and all heresies whatsoever, condemned, rejected, and anathematized by the Church.

This true Catholic faith, without which no one can be saved, I N.N. do at this present freely confess and sincerely hold; and I promise most constantly to retain, and confess the same entire and unviolated, with God’s assistance, to the end of my life.

N. B. — (1) To this was added, Dec. 8, 1854, the new article of the Immaculate Conception of the Virgin Mary, to be believed as necessary to salvation.

N. B. — (2) To which was added (December, 1864) the whole

N. B. — (3) To which was added (July 18, 1870) the new dogma of Infallibility.

Observe, this “Creed” is imposed on all in the Roman Obedience, and especially on those who enter it from other communions, as that without which no one can be saved. The Catholic Creed of Nicæa is not sufficient. But the Seventh Canon of Ephesus not only forbids the composition of any other creed, but especially adds: “Those who shall presume to compose another creed, or to produce or offer it to persons desiring to return to the acknowledgment of the truth … from any heresy whatever, shall be deposed … if bishops or other clergy, and if they be laymen they shall be anathematized.”



(Donation of Constantine)

On this stupendous fraud I quote from Dupin, as follows: — 

“Among the number of Constantine’s edicts I do not place the Donation which goes under his name. Some have attributed this false monument to the author of the collection (Decretals) ascribed to Isidore, he being a notorious forger of such kind of writings; and this conjecture is more probable than some others.

“By this Donation, Constantine is supposed to give to the Bishops of Rome the sovereignty of the city, and of the provinces of the Western Empire. I note some of the reasons which clearly prove this instrument to be a forgery: — 

“(1) Not one of the ancients mentions this pretended liberality of the emperor. How could Eusebius, and all the other historians who wrote about Constantine, have passed over in silence, had it been a reality, the gift of a Western Empire to the Bishop of Rome?

“(2) Not one of the Bishops of Rome ever refers to such a donation, though it would have been much to their advantage so to do.

“(3) It is dated falsely, and under consuls who flourished when Constantine was unbaptized; yet his baptism is referred to in this instrument. Again, the city of Constantinople is mentioned in it, although it was called Byzantium for ten years subsequent to its date.

“(4) Not only is the style very different from the genuine edicts of the emperor, but it is full of terms and phrases that came into use much after the time of Constantine.

“(5) How comes it that he should have given one-half of his empire to the Bishop of Rome, including the city of Rome itself, without any one ever hearing of it for hundreds of years after?

“(6) The falsities and absurdities of this edict demonstrate that it was composed by an ignorant impostor. Thus by it, for example, the Pope is permitted to wear a crown of gold, and a fabulous history is given of the emperor’s baptism by Sylvester: also, it contains a history of the emperor’s miraculous cure of leprosy by Sylvester, all which do plainly prove the forgery. It is certain that the city of Rome was governed by the emperor, and that the Bishops of Rome were subject to him, and obeyed him, as all his other subjects.

“All that we have said plainly shows that the edict of Donation that bears the name of Constantine is wholly supposititious; but it is not so easy to find out who was the author. However it be, this document has neither any use nor authority.”4 





1 See his genuine Epistle, Ante-Nicene Fathers, vol. 1. p. 7, this series. Compare vol. 1. pp.69, 416, with 7. p. 478.

2 1Pe_5:1-4. The Bishops of Rome have only to restore themselves to the spirit of St. Peter as here set forth, and the schisms of the churches will be at an end. For Tertullian’s testimony, see vol. 3. p. 258, note 230.

3 de Maistre, thinking to overthrow the Anglicans, and imagining the Thirty-nine Articles to be “terms of communion” in the Anglican Church, which they never were, commits himself rashly to the following position: “If a people possesses one of these Codes of Belief, we may he sure of this: that the religion of such a people is false.” No people on earth has such an enormous Codes of Belief as those who profess the creed of Pius the Fourth, and who accept the decrees of Pius the Ninth. See de Maistre, Le Principe Generateur, etc., p.20, Paris, 1852. This Trent Creed is the fruit of the Decretals.

4 Dupin, ut supra, p.17. See also Bryce’s Holy Roman Empire, pp. 43 and 100. He pronounces “the Donation of Constantine” to be “the most stupendous of all the mediæval forgeries. The Decretals certainly surpass it in their nature and their effects; but Mr. Bryce’s reference to these is very feeble and unsatisfactory, after Dupin. See p.156 of this work, ed. Macmillan, 1880.