CLEMENT VI 1342-1352

The Primacy of the Roman Pontiff*

 

[From the letter “Super quibusdam” to the Consolator, the Catholicon of the Armenians, Sept. 20, 1351]

 

570a 3 . . . We ask: In the first place, whether you and the Church of the Armenians which is obedient to you, believe that all those who in baptism have received the same Catholic faith, and afterwards have withdrawn and will withdraw in the future from the communion of this same Roman Church, which one alone is Catholic, are schismatic and heretical, if they remain obstinately separated from the faith of this Roman Church.

 

570b In the second place, we ask whether you and the Armenians obedient to you believe that no man of the wayfarers outside the faith of this Church, and outside the obedience of the Pope of Rome, can finally be saved.

 

570c But in the second chapter . . . we ask:

 

First, whether you have believed, believe, or are prepared to believe with the Church of the Armenians which is obedient to you, that blessed Peter received complete power of jurisdiction over all faithful Christians from our Lord Jesus Christ; and that every power of jurisdiction, which in certain lands and provinces and in different parts of the world especially and particularly Jude Thaddeus and the other Apostles had, was completely subject to the authority and power which blessed Peter received from our Lord Jesus Christ Himself, over whomsoever are believers in Christ in all parts of the world, and that no apostle or any other one whosoever received that very complete power over all Christians except Peter alone.

 

570d In the second place, whether you have believed, have held, or are prepared to believe and to hold with the Armenians subject to you that all the Roman Pontiffs, who succeeding blessed Peter have entered canonically and will enter canonically, have succeeded blessed Peter the Roman Pontiff and will succeed in the same plentitude in the jurisdiction of power over the complete and universal body of the militant church which blessed Peter himself received from our Lord Jesus Christ.

 

570e In the third place, if you and the Armenians subject to you have believed and do believe that the Roman Pontiffs who have been and we who now are the Roman Pontiff and, those who in future will be successively as legitimate vicars of Christ and full of power in the highest degree, have received immediately from Christ Himself over the complete and universal body of the church militant, every jurisdiction of power which Christ as fitting head had in human life.

 

570f In the fourth place, if you have believed and now believe that all the Roman Pontiffs who have been and we who are, and others who will be in the future from the plentitude of past power and authority have been able, are able, and will be able directly by our own power and theirs both to judge all those subject to our jurisdiction and theirs, and to establish and delegate ecclesiastical judges to judge whomsoever we wish.

 

570g In the fifth place, if you have believed and now believe that to such an extent has been, is, and will be both pre-eminent authority together with juridical power of the Roman Pontiffs who have been, of us who are, and of those who in future will be, has been, is, and will be so extensive, that by no one have they been, can we be, or will they in the future be able to be judged; but they have been, we are, and they will be reserved for judgment by God alone; and that from our sentences and judgments it has not been possible nor will it be possible for an appeal to be made to any judges.

 

570h In the sixth place, if you have believed and still believe that the plentitude of the power of the Roman Pontiff extends so far that it is possible to transfer patriarchs, the Catholicon, the archbishops, bishops, abbots, and whatsoever other prelates from the offices in which they have been established to other offices of greater or lesser jurisdiction, or, as their sins demand, to demote, to depose, excommunicate, or to surrender them to Satan.

 

570i In the seventh place, if you have believed and still believe that the Pontifical authority cannot or ought not to be subject to any imperial or regal or other secular power, in so far as pertains to a judicial institution, to correction or to deposition.

 

570k In the eighth place, if you have believed and now believe that the Roman Pontiff alone is able to establish sacred general canons, to grant plenary indulgences to those who visit the thresholds of the Apostles, Peter and Paul, or to those who go to the Holy Land, or to any of the faithful who are truly and fully repentant and have confessed.

 

570l In the ninth place, if you have believed and do believe that all who have raised themselves against the faith of the Roman Church and have died in final impenitence have been damned and have descended to the eternal punishments of hell.

 

570m In the tenth place, if you have believed and still believe that the Roman Pontiff regarding the administration of the sacraments of the Church, can tolerate and even permit different rites of the Church of Christ, in order that they may be saved, provided that those matters are always preserved which belong to the integrity and necessity of the sacraments.

 

570o In the eleventh place, if you have believed and now believe that the Armenians, who are obedient to the Roman Pontiff in different parts of the world and who observe studiously and with devotion the forms and rites of the Roman Church in the administration of the sacraments and in ecclesiastical duties, fasts, and other ceremonies do well, and by doing this merit eternal life.

 

570p In the twelfth place, if you have believed and now believe that no one can be transferred from episcopal offices to the archiepiscopal, patriarchal, or to the Catholicon by his own authority, nor even by the authority of any secular leader whomsoever, whether he be king or emperor, or any one also distinguished by any such power or earthly office.

 

570q In the thirteenth place if you have believed, and still believe that the Roman Pontiff alone, when doubts arise regarding the Catholic faith, through authentic decision can impose the limit to which all must inviolably adhere, and that whatever by the authority of the keys handed to him by Christ, he determines to be true is true and Catholic, and what he determines to be false and heretical, must be so regarded.

 

In the fourteenth place, if you have believed and now believe that the New and Old Testaments in all their books, which the authority of the Roman Church has given to us, contain undoubted truth in all things.