Ecumenical XII (against the Albigensians, Joachim, Waldensians etc.)

The Trinity, Sacraments, Canonical Mission, etc.*

Chap.2.The Error of Abbot Joachim *


431 We condemn, therefore, and we disapprove of the treatise or tract which Abbot Joachim published against Master Peter Lombard on the unity or essence of the Trinity, calling him heretical and senseless because in his Sentences he said: “Since it is a most excellent reality-the Father, and the Son, and the Holy Spirit, and it is not generating, nor generated, nor proceeding.” * Thus he (Joachim) declares that Peter Lombard implies not so much a Trinity as a quaternity in God, namely the three Persons and that common essence as a fourth, openly protesting that there is no matter which is the Father and the Son and the Holy Spirit; neither is there essence, nor substance, nor nature, although he concedes that the Father, and the Son. and the Holy Spirit are one essence, one substance, and one nature. But he says that unity of this kind is not true and proper, but is something collective and similar, as many men are called one people, and many faithful, one Church, according to the following: “Of the multitude believing there was one heart and one mind” [ Acts 4:32]; and, “He who clings to God is one spirit with him” [ 1 Cor. 6:17]; likewise, “He who . . . plants and he who waters are one” [ 1 Cor. 3:8]; and, “we are all one body in Christ” [ Rom. 12:5]; again in the Book of Kings [Ruth]: “My people and your people are one” [Ruth 1:16]. Moreover, to add to this opinion of his he brings the following most powerful expression, that Christ spoke in the Gospel about the faithful: “I will, Father, that they are one in us as we are one, so that they may be perfected in unity” [John 17:22 f.]. For not, (as he says), are the faithful of Christ one, that is, a certain one matter which is common to all, but in this way are they one, that is, one Church because of the unity of the Catholic faith; and finally one kingdom, because of the union of indissoluble love, as in the canonical letter of John the Apostle we read: “For there are three that give testimony in heaven, the Father, and the Son, and the Holy Spirit, and these three are one” [ 1 John 5:7], and immediately is added: “And there are three who give testimony on earth, the Spirit, the water, and the blood, and these three are one” [ 1 John 5:8 ], as is found in certain texts.


432 We, however, with the approval of the sacred Council, believe and confess with Peter Lombard that there exists a most excellent reality, incomprehensible indeed and ineffable, which truly is the Father, and the Son, and the Holy Spirit, at the same time three Persons, and anyone of the same individually; and so in God there is Trinity only, not a quaternity; because any one of the three Persons is that reality, namely, substance, essence or divine nature, which alone is the beginning of all things, beyond which nothing else can be found, and that reality is not generating, nor generated, nor proceeding, but it is the Father who generates, the Son who is generated, and the Holy Spirit who proceeds, so that distinctions are in Persons and unity in nature. Therefore, although “one is the Father, another the Son, and another the Holy Spirit, yet they are not different” * but what is the Father is the Son and the Holy Spirit entirely the same, so that according to the true and Catholic Faith they are believed to be consubstantial. For the Father from eternity by generating the Son gave His substance to Him according to which He Himself testifies: “That which the Father has given to me is greater than all things” [John 10:29]. But it cannot be said that He (the Father) has given a part of His substance to Him (the Son), and retained a part for Himself, since the substance of the Father is indivisible, namely, simple. But neither can it be said that the Father has transferred His substance to the Son in generating, as if He had given that to the Son which he did not retain for Himself; otherwise the substance would have ceased to exist. It is clear, therefore, that the Son in being born without any diminution received the substance of the Father, and thus the Father and the Son have the same substance, and so this same reality is the Father and the Son and also the Holy Spirit proceeding from both. But when Truth prays to the Father for His faithful saying: “I will that they may be one in us, as we also are one” [ John 17:22]: this word “one” indeed is accepted for the faithful in such a way that a union of charity in grace is understood, for the divine Persons in such a way that a unity of identity in nature is considered, as elsewhere Truth says: “Be . . . perfect, as also your heavenly Father is perfect” [Matt. 5:48 ], as if He said more clearly, “Be perfect” in the perfection of grace “as your heavenly Father is perfect” in the perfection of grace, that is, each in his own manner, because between the Creator and the creature so great a likeness cannot be noted without the necessity of noting a greater dissimilarity between them. If anyone, therefore, shall presume to defend or approve the opinion or doctrine of the above mentioned Joachim, let him be refuted as a heretic by all.


433 Yet on this account we do not wish to detract from the monastery in Florence (whose founder is Joachim himself), since both the institution there is regular and the observance salutary, especially since Joachim himself has ordered all his writings to be assigned to us, to be approved or even corrected by the judgment of the Apostolic See, dictating a letter which he signed with his own hand in which he firmly confesses that he holds that Faith which the Roman Church, which (the Lord disposing) is the mother and master of all the faithful, holds. We reprove also and we condemn that very perverse dogma of the impious Almaricus, whose mind the father of lies has so blinded that his doctrine must be considered not so heretical as insane.