UNCIL OF CONSTANCE 1414-1418: Ecumenical XVI (against Wycliffe, Hus, etc.)

SESSION XV (July 6, 1415)

 

Errors of John Hus*

 

[Condemned in the Council and by the above mentioned Bulls in 1418]

 

627 1. One and only is the holy universal Church which is the aggregate of the predestined.

 

628 2. Paul never was a member of the devil, although he did certain acts similar to the acts of those who malign the Church.

 

629 3. The foreknown are not parts of the Church, since no part of it finally will fall away from it, because the charity of predestination which binds it will not fall away.

 

630 4. Two natures, divinity and humanity, are one Christ. *

 

631 5. The foreknown, although at one time he is in grace according to the present justice, yet is never a part of the holy Church; and the predestined always remains a member of the Church, although at times he may fall away from additional grace, but not from the grace of predestination.

 

632 6. Assuming the Church as the convocation of the predestined, whether they were in grace or not according to the present justice, in that way the Church is an article of faith.

 

633 7. Peter is not nor ever was the head of the Holy Catholic Church.

 

634 8. Priests living criminally in any manner whatsoever, defile the power of the priesthood, and as unfaithful sons they think unfaithfully regarding the seven sacraments of the Church, the keys, the duties, the censures customs, ceremonies, and sacred affairs of the Church, its veneration of relics, indulgences, and orders.

 

635 9. The papal dignity has sprung up from Caesar, and the perfection and institution of the pope have emanated from the power of Caesar

 

636 10. No one without revelation would have asserted reasonably regarding himself or anyone else that he was the head of a particular church nor is the Roman Pontiff the head of a particular Roman Church.

 

637 11. It is not necessary to believe that the one whosoever is the Roman Pontiff, is the head of any particular holy church, unless God has predestined him.

 

638 12. No one takes the place of Christ or of Peter unless he follows him in character, since no other succession is more important, and not otherwise does he receive from God the procuratorial power, because for that office of vicar are required both conformity in character and the authority of Him who institutes it.

 

639 13. The pope is not the true and manifest successor of Peter, the first of the other apostles, if he lives in a manner contrary to Peter; and if he be avaricious, then he is the vicar of Judas Iscariot. And with like evidence the cardinals are not the true and manifest successors of the college of the other apostles of Christ, unless they live in the manner of the apostles, keeping the commandments and counsels of our Lord Jesus Christ.

 

640 14. Doctors holding that anyone to be emended by ecclesiastical censure, if he is unwilling to be corrected, must be handed over to secular judgment, certainly are following in this the priests, scribes, and pharisees, who, saying that “it is not permissible for us to kill anyone” (John 18:31), handed over to secular judgment Christ Himself, who did not wish to be obedient to them in all things, and such are homicides worse than Pilate.

 

641   15. Ecclesiastical obedience is obedience according to the invention of the priest of the Church, without the expressed authority of Scripture.

 

642 16. The immediate division of human works is: that they are either virtuous or vicious, because, if a man is vicious and does anything, then he acts viciously; and if he is virtuous and does anything, then he acts virtuously; because as vice, which is called a crime or mortal sin, renders the acts of man universally vicious, so virtue vivifies all the acts of the virtuous man.

 

643 17. Priests of Christ, living according to His law and having a knowledge of Scripture and a desire to instruct the people, ought to preach without the impediment of a pretended excommunication. But if the pope or some other prelate orders a priest so disposed not to preach, the subject is not obliged to obey.

 

644 18. Anyone who approaches the priesthood receives the duty of a preacher by command, and that command he must execute, without the impediment of a pretended excommunication.

 

645 19. By ecclesiastical censures of excommunication, suspension, and interdict, the clergy for its own exaltation supplies for itself the lay populace, it multiplies avarice, protects wickedness, and prepares the way for the Antichrist. Moreover, the sign is evident that from the Antichrist such censures proceed, which in their processes they call fulminations, by which the clergy principally proceed against those who uncover the wickedness of the Antichrist, who will make use of the clergy especially for himself.

 

646 20. If the pope is wicked and especially if he is foreknown, than as Judas, the Apostle, he is of the devil, a thief, and a son of perdition, and he is not the head of the holy militant Church, since he is not a member of it.

 

647 21. Thegrace of predestination is a chain by which the body of the Church and any member of it are joined insolubly to Christ the Head.

 

648 22. The pope or prelate, wicked and foreknown, is equivocally pastor and truly a thief and robber.

 

649 23. The pope should not be called “most holy” even according to his office, because otherwise the king ought also to be called “most holy” according to his office, and torturers and heralds should be called holy, indeed even the devil ought to be called holy, since he is an official of God.

 

650 24. If the pope lives in a manner contrary to Christ, even if he should ascend through legal and legitimate election according to the common human constitution, yet he would ascend from another place than through Christ, even though it be granted that he entered by an election made principally by God; for Judas Iscariot rightly and legitimately was elected by God, Jesus Christ, to the episcopacy, and yet he ascended from another place to the sheepfold of the sheep.

 

651 25. The condemnation of the forty-five articles of John Wycliffe made by the doctors is irrational and wicked and badly made; the cause alleged by them has been feigned, namely, for the reason that “no one of them is a Catholic but anyone of them is either heretical, erroneous, or scandalous.”

 

652 26. Not for this reason, that the electors, or a greater part of them, agreed by acclamation according to the observance of men upon some person, is that person legitimately elected; nor for this reason is he the true and manifest successor or vicar of the Apostle Peter, or in the ecclesiastical office of another apostle. Therefore, whether electors have chosen well or badly, we ought to believe in the works of the one elected; for, by the very reason that anyone who operates for the advancement of the Church in a manner more fully meritorious, has from God more fully the faculty for this.

 

653 27. For there is not a spark of evidence that there should be one head ruling the Church in spiritual affairs, which head always lives and is preserved with the Church militant herself.

 

654 28. Christ through His true disciples scattered through the world would rule His Church better without such monstrous heads.

 

655 29. The apostles and faithful priests of the Lord strenuously in necessities ruled the Church unto salvation, before the office of the pope was introduced; thus they would be doing even to the day of judgment, were the pope utterly lacking.

 

656 30. No one is a civil master, no one is a prelate, no one is a bishop while he is in mortal sin [see n. 595].

 

See the theological censures of these thirty articles among “Questions of Wycliffe and Hus to be proposed”n. 11 ( 661 below ).