Friday, August 06, 2004

HYW(Duncan2): His Holiness Benedict, Bishop of Rome's Declaration to the King of Rome

This unedited declaration is issued by Pope Benedict XII on November 12 1336 to the excommunicated Holy Roman Emperor Ludwiv IV "the Damned" von Bayern. Though there is no apparent signature, its authenticity is not questioned.

The contested election 1313 remains unsettled with regards to the Church. At that time both Louis Wittelsbach of Bavaria and Frederick Habsburg ofAustria had themselves elected by dubious and questionable conventions of electors. Our predecessor asserted his right to mediate between these two claimants. His Holiness, John XXII refused to acknowledge either party as Emperor, and applied more and more pressure to bring about a fair and just peace within the Empire. The Church has long been a champion of election as the true expression of God's will on earth, as expressed in Church practice in the voting of the Church Councils, the election of Bishops in every diocese, including the Bishop of Rome by the canons of the whole church, the Cardinals. So too the election of the Emperor is a matter of grave concern, for matters of peace within the Empire, for matters of elective succession, for matters of the Church's right to abitrate disputes.

When John XXII insisted that Louis resign his office and stand once more for fair election, the king refused, and John added the threat of excomunication. Louis now turned in battle against Frederick, and in a battle in the Tyrol captured him and imprisoned his rival. At this method of settlement of this dispute, the Church took grave exception, for battles are not a means for settling disputed elections, for the arbitration of the Church is not to be replaced by war, for the civil war in the Empire is a matter of Satan's power on Earth and a rejection of the Lord's system of political justice.

With the imprisonment of Frederick was John's patience exhausted, and Louis was given the most stingent warnings to submit. Louis instead was full of pride and had the audacity to march on Rome, while the true head of the Church was, by chance in Avignon. In Rome, Louis heaped Pope John with invective and declared him deposed. In Rome according to the old method ofPapal election such as produced Pope Stephen VI and Pope Sergius III. What fraud in injustice! Yet by God's grace did true correction occure then, bythe Electoral Decree of Pope Nicholas II, which prevented the Roman nobility from proclaiming Popes and the Emperor from appointing Popes. With this decree the Bishop of Rome was elected henceforth by the cardinal bishops of Christendom. Louis' attempt to revive the ancient practice, declare the deposition of John XXII, and the election of an anti-Pope is the most vile attempt by this prince to subvert the authority of the Church. As it happened, the fickle Roman populace which sees our residence in Avignon, turned against Louis and his anti-pope. They fled.

Since 1334, we have, as John's successor, pursued the true and right policies of restoring peace to the Empire, establishing the refom and adhearence to elections, and right of the Church to mediate disputes. We have seen continued resistance of Louis of Bavaria, and his refusal to undertake our recomendations in this matter. We continue to demand, as did our predecessor, that Louis of Bavaria resign his office, and stand once again for proper and legitimate election, that he serve penance for his abuse of what unlawful power he obtained, and his attempts to subvert the Church. Only then can we undertake his reconcilliation with the Holy Church.


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