9 December 2017

Appeal for information

A kind friend has sent me an interesting text: the oath fidelitatis that (?) newly consecrated or translated bishops have to swear in the Latin Church (how about the sui iuris Oriental Churches?).

My first impetuous reaction was to feel that no man with any sense of his dignity would sign such a grovelling formula (vide praesertim verba atque consilia prope finem) . Then I recollected that, over the last thirty years, hundreds, perhaps thousands, of bishops may have signed this piece of paper with no intention (exempli gratia) of doing anything to implement Canon 249 (seminarians being taught to be fluent in Latin). Or of doing anything to repress liturgical abuses. So I expect this 'oath' is just an empty formality that one performs and then has a good laugh about. As when we Anglican clergy used to swear an oath to use only the Book of Common Prayer. Ha Ha Ha. Indeed. Ha Ha Ha.

I would be interested, nevertheless, to know the history of this formula, and to what extent its wording is recent. Quite a bit of it seems to me to be redolent of the catch-phrases of Vatican II.


Joshua said...

You remind me of what a former Anglican priest, now a Catholic bishop, told me: when he had to swear to the Articles, that was the only time he ever perjured himself!

John F H H said...

As far as I can find, this appears to be the current text:
Oath of Fidelity
I, (N.), having been promoted to the See of (X) will always be faithful to the Catholic Church and the Roman Pontiff, her Supreme Pastor, the Vicar of Christ, the Successor of the Blessed Apostle Peter in the primacy and the Head of the College of Bishops.
I will respect the free exercise of the primacy of the Supreme Pontiff over the Universal Church, and will take care to promote and defend his rights and authority.
I will also acknowledge and respect the prerogatives and duties of the Legates of the Roman Pontiff, who act in the person of the Supreme Pastor.
With the utmost diligence I will carry out the apostolic duties entrusted to Bishops, namely,to teach, sanctify and rule the People of God, in hierarchical communion with the head and members of the College of Bishops.
I will watch over the unity of the Universal Church, and thus will make every effort to ensure that the deposit of faith handed down from the Apostles is preserved pure and entire, and that the truths to be held and put into practice will be passed on and clearly explained to all, as they are proposed by the Church’s Magisterium.
I will show paternal affection to those who err in faith and I will make every effort to guide them to the fullness of catholic truth.
Having before me the image of Christ, the supreme and eternal priest, I will conduct myself conscientiously and reverently, and thus fulfill the ministry entrusted to me, so that, having become myself an example to the flock, I will be able to confirm the faithful in the pursuit of Christian perfection.
I will uphold the discipline common to the whole Church and will carefully promote the observance of all ecclesiastical laws, particularly those contained in the Code of Canon Law.
I will be ever vigilant to prevent possible abuses, especially with regard to the ministry of the word and the celebration of the sacraments.
I will diligently look after the administration of the Church’s temporal goods, especially those destined for divine worship, for the proper sustenance of the clergy and other ministers, and for the works of the apostolate and of charity.
In carrying out the mandate entrusted to me I will show particular affection to all priests and deacons, the prudent cooperators of the order of Bishops, and to men and women Religious, sharers in the one work.
I will likewise take great care to promote sacred vocations, so that the spiritual needs of the whole Church will be appropriately met.
I will recognize and promote the dignity of lay people and their proper role in the Church’s mission.
And I will be especially concerned to promote missionary works aimed at the evangelization of peoples.
Unless impeded, I will personally attend or promptly respond when called to Councils and other legitimate collegial actions.
At determined times or as the occasion demands, I will give an account of my pastoral office to the Apostolic See, and to the best of my ability I will respectfully accept and carry out its mandates and counsels.
So help me God and these Holy Gospels which I touch with my hand.
[signed](N.)(Bishop of X)
I, the undersigned, testify that the aforementioned Bishop swore the above oath in my presence on this date:
[signed](N.)(Bishop of X)

[to be concluded]

John F H H said...


And this claims to be an accurate translation (caution, by Protestants) of the version in 1845:
"I, _____, elect of the church of _____, from henceforth will be faithful and obedient to St. Peter the Apostle and to the holy Roman Church, and to our Lord, the Lord _____, Pope _____, and to his successors canonically entering.
I will neither advise, consent, nor do anything that they may lose life or member, or that their persons may be seized, or hands any wise laid upon them, or any injuries offered to them under any pretence whatsoever.
The counsel with which they shall entrust me by themselves, their messengers, or letters, I will not knowingly reveal to any to their prejudice.
I will help them to keep and to defend the Roman Papacy, and the regalities of St. Peter, saving my Order against all men.
The legate of the Apostolic See, going and coming, I will honourably treat and help in his necessities.
The rights, honours, privileges, and authority of the holy Roman Church, of our Lord the Pope, and his aforesaid successors, I will endeavor to preserve, defend, increase, and advance.
I will not be in any council, action, or treaty in which shall be plotted against our said Lord, and the said Roman Church, anything to the hurt or prejudice of their persons, right, honor, state, or power; and if I shall know any such thing to be treated or agitated by any whatsoever, I will hinder it to my power, and, as soon as I can, will signify it to our said Lord, or to some other by whom it may come to his knowledge.
"The rules of the holy Fathers, the apostolic decrees, ordinances or disposals, reservations, provisions, or mandates I will observe with all my might, and cause to be observed by others.
"Heretics, schismatics, and rebels, to our said Lord, or his foresaid successors, I will to my power persecute and oppose.
"I will come to a council when I am called, unless I be hindered by a canonical impediment.
I will by myself in person visit the threshold of the apostles every three years; and give an account to our Lord and his aforesaid successors of all my pastoral office, and of all things any wise belonging to the state of my Church, to the discipline of my clergy and people; and, lastly, to the salvation of souls committed to my trust; and I will in like manner humbly receive and diligently execute the apostolic commands.
And if I be detained by a lawful impediment, I will perform all things aforesaid by a certain messenger heretofore especially empowered, a member of my chapter, or some other in ecclesiastical dignity, or else having a parsonage, or in default of these, by a priest of the diocese, or, in default of the clergy of the diocese by some other secular or regular priest of approved integrity and religion, fully instructed in all things above mentioned.
And such impediments I will make out by lawful proofs, to be transmitted by the aforesaid messengers to the cardinal proponent of the holy Roman Church in the congregation of the sacred council.
"The possessions belonging to my table I will neither sell, nor give away, nor mortgage, nor grant anew in fee, nor any wise alienate, no, not even with the consent of the chapter of my church, without consulting the Roman Pontiff; and if I shall make any alienation, I will hereby incur the penalties contained in a certain constitution put forth about this matter.
So help me God, and these holy Gospels of God."

The mediæval oaths were, of course, from time to time cause of great controversy between the Papacy and monarchs - remember Præmunire?

J said...

Apparently the text of the Oath has never been officially published. I guess that jokes need that bit of intrigue and mistery to be funny.

Calvin Engime said...

Ex Pontificali Romano jussu edito a Benedicto XIV et Leone XIII recognito et castigato

Ego N. Electus Ecclesiae N. ab hac hora in antea fidelis, et obediens ero beato Petro Apostolo, sanctaeque Romanae Ecclesiae et Domino nostro, Domino N. Papae N. suisque Successoribus canonice intrantibus. Non ero in consilio, aut consensu, vel facto, ut vitam perdant, aut membrum, seu capiantur mala captione, aut in eos violenter manus quomodolibet ingerantur, vel injuriae aliquae inferantur, quovis quaesito colore. Consilium vero, quod mihi credituri sunt, per se, aut Nuntios suos, seu litteras, ad eorum damnum, me sciente, nemini pandam. Papatum Romunum, et Regalia sancti Petri, adjutor eis ero ad retinendum, et defendendum, salvo meo ordine, contra omnem hominem. Legatum Apostolicae Sedis ineundo et redeundo honorifice tractabo, et in suis necessitatibus adjuvabo. Jura, honores, privilegia, et auctoritatem sanctae Romanae Ecclesiae, Domini nostri Papae, et Successorum praedictorum, conservare, defendere, augere, et promovere curabo. Neque ero in consilio, vel facto, seu tractatu, in quibus contra ipsum Dominum nostrum, vel eamdem Romanam Ecclesiam, aliqua sinistra, vel praejudicialia personarum, juris, honoris, status, et potestatis eorum machinentur. Et si talia a quibuscumque tractari, vel procurari novero, impediam hoc pro posse: et quanto citius potero, significabo eidem Domino nostro vel alteri, per quem possit ad ipsius notitiam pervenire. Regulas sanctorum Patrum, decreta, ordinationes seu dispositiones, reservationes, provisiones, et mandata Apostolica, totis viribus observabo, et faciam ab aliis observari. Haereticos, schismaticos, et rebelles eidem Domino nostro, vel Successoribus praedictis, pro posse persequar, et impugnabo. Vocatus ad synodum, veniam, nisi praepeditus fuero Canonica praepeditione. Apostolorum limina singulis trienniis personaliter per me ipsum visitabo; et Domino nostro, ac Successoribus praefatis, rationem reddam de toto meo pastorali officio, ac de rebus omnibus ad meae Ecclesiae statum, ad cleri et populi disciplinam, animarum denique, quae meae fidei traditae sunt, salutem, quovis modo pertinentibus: et vicissim mandata Apostolica humiliter recipiam, et quam diligentissime exsequar. Quod si legitimo impedimento detentus fuero, praefata omnia adimplebo per certum Nuntium ad hoc speciale mandatum habentem, de gremio mei Capituli, aut alium in dignitate ecclesiastica constitutum, seu alias personatum habentem: aut, his mihi deficientibus, per dioecesanum Sacerdotem; et clero deficiente omnino, per aliquem alium Presbyterum saecularem, vel regularem, spectatae probitatis, et religionis, de supradictis omnibus plene instructum. De hujusmodi autem impedimento docebo per legitimas probationes ad sanctae Romanae Ecclesiae Cardinalem proponentem in Congregatione sacri Concilii, per supradictum Nuntium transmittendas. Possessiones vero ad mensam meam pertinentes non vendam, nec donabo, neque impignorabo, nec de novo infeudabo, vel aliquo modo alienabo, etiam cum consensu Capituli Ecclesiae meae, inconsulto Romano Pontifice. Et si ad aliquam alienationem devenero, poenas in quadam super hoc edita constitutione contentas, eo ipso incurrere volo.

Consecrator in gremio suo librum Evangeliorum ambabus manibus apertum tenens, inferiore parte libri Electo versa, ab eo praestationem hujusmodi juramenti recipit, Electo adhuc coram eo genuflexo dicente: Sic me Deus adjuvet, et haec sancta Dei Evangelia.

Et ipsum textum Evangeliorum ambabus manibus tangente, tum, non prius, dicit Consecrator: Deo gratias.

Calvin Engime said...

Formula qua iusiurandum fidelitatis ab iis dandum erit qui episcopi dioecesani nominati sunt (A.D. 1972)

Ego…, nominatus… episcopus… sanctae apostolicae romanae Ecclesiae et Summo Pontifici, beati Petri apostoli in primatu Successori et Christi Vicario, eiusque legitimis Successoribus semper fidelis ero atque oboediens. Quos non tantum summo prosequar honore, sed faciam etiam, quantum in me erit, ut debitus iisdem tribuatur honor et omnis iniuria ab ipsis arceatur.

Iura et auctoritatem Romanorum Pontificum, mihi curae erit promovere ac defendere; itidem praerogativas eorum legatorum vel procuratorum. Quidquid autem contra eadem a quopiam contigerit attentari, ipsi Summo Pontifici sincero animo aperiam.

Apostolica munera mihi commissa docendi, sanctificandi et regendi, in hierarchica communione cum Christi Vicario et Collegii episcopalis membris, omni cura ad mentem et litteram sacrorum canonum absolvere satagam.

In depositum fidei purum et integrum servandum atque authentica ratione tradendum studiose incumbam, errantibus vero in fide paternum animum pandam iidemque ut ad plenitudinem catholicae veritatis redeant omni ope annitar.

Ad Concilia aliasque actiones collegiales episcopales vocatus, nisi impediar, me promitto esse venturum vel responsurum.

Bona vero temporalia ad Ecclesiam mihi concreditam pertinentia iuxta sacrorum canonum normas diligenter administra bo, sedulo invigilans ne eadem quoquo modo pereant aut detrimentum capiant.

Concilii Vaticani II aliaque canonica decreta quae institutionem et ambitum actionis conferentiarum episcopalium respiciunt, necnon consiliorum presbyteralium et pastoralium, amplectar eorumque munerum ordinatum usum libenter promovebo.

Statis denique temporibus apostolorum limina vel ego ipse vel per alios ad normam iuris invisam, rationem de pastorali meo officio reddam ac de clero etpopulo mihi commissis fideliter referam: mandata simul obsequenter accipiam maximoque studio perficiam.

Sic me Deus adiuvet et haec sancta Dei Evangelia.

Calvin Engime said...

Dr John Alzog, in his Manual of Universal Church History (tr. Pabisch and Byrne, Cincinnati: Robert Clarke Co., 1903, p. 114), gives this oath of allegiance sworn by St Boniface in 722 (taken from Othlo's life of Boniface, lib. I, cap. 19), which Alzog says is "similar to that taken by the suburbicarian bishops":

Promitto ego Bonifacius, Dei gratia Episcopus, tibi beate Petre, Apostolorum princeps, Vicarioque tuo beato Gregorio Papae, et successoribus ejus per P. et F. et Sp. St., Trinitatem inseparabilem, et hoc sacratissimum corpus tuum, me omnem fidem et puritatem sanctae fidei cathol. exhibere, et in unitate ejustdem fidei, Deo operante, persistere, in quo omnis christianorum salus esse sine dubio comprobatur, nullo modo me contra unitatem communis et universalis ecclesiae, suadente quopiam, consentire, sed, ut dixi, fidem et puritatem meam atque concursum tibi et utilitatibus tuae ecclesiae, cui a Domino Deo potestas ligandi solvendique data est, et praedicto Vicario tuo atque successoribus ejus per omnia exhibere. Sed et si cognovero Antistites contra instituta antiqua SS. Patrum conversari, cum eis nullam habere communionem aut conjunctionem; sed magis, si valuero prohibere, prohibebo; si minus, hoc fideliter statim domno meo Apostolico renuntiabo. Quod si, quod absit, contra hujus professionis meae seriem aliquid facere quolibet modo, seu ingenio, vel occasione tentavero, reus inveniar in aeterno judicio, ultionem Ananiae et Saphirae incurram, qui vobis etiam de rebus propriis fraudem facere praesumserunt. Hoc autem indiculum Sacramenti ego Bonifacius exiguus Episcopus manu propria scripsi, atque ponens supra sacratissimum corpus St. Petri, ita ut praescriptum, Deo teste et judice, feci sacramentum, quod et conservare promitto.

Unknown said...

Dear Father,

I am a silent but constant reader of your blog from Spain.

Sorry for being out of topic, but I would like to know your opinion as an expert in Latin about a certain official traductions of documents from the Holy See. In particula I am concerned about the way in which is commonly traduces the Latin words “res publica”, “civitas” and other of the kind, because I have found that they are translated as “State”. I am not a latinist, but I do believe that that is an inaccurate traduction, what do you think?

I am very much obliged for the help you may give me.

AllEarthsVanities said...

The part of the oath about the bishop's attitude toward heretics in his territory has an American history footnote. The first consecration of a Catholic bishop in America after the Revolution was Neale's, in 1800. Rome permitted the possibly offensive (to Protestants) clause to be omitted. See: http://www.theimaginativeconservative.org/2011/07/john-carroll-and-creation-catholic-2.html