VIX PERVENIT (On Usury and Other Dishonest Profit

Pope Benedict XIV Encyclical of Pope Benedict XIV promulgated on 1 November 1745. To the Venerable Brothers, Patriarchs, Archbishops, Bishops and Ordinary Clergy of Italy. Venerable Brothers, Greetings and Apostolic Benediction. Hardly had the new contro ersy !na"ely, whether certain contracts sho#ld be held alid$ co"e to o#r attention, when se eral opinions began spreading in Italy that hardly see"ed to agree with so#nd doctrine% &e decided that &e "#st re"edy this. If &e did not do so i""ediately, s#ch an e il "ight ac'#ire new force by delay and silence. If we neglected o#r d#ty, it "ight e en spread f#rther, sha(ing those cities of Italy so far not affected. Therefore &e decided to cons#lt with a n#"ber of the Cardinals of the Holy )o"an Ch#rch, who are renowned for their (nowledge and co"petence in theology and canon law. &e also called #pon "any fro" the reg#lar clergy who were o#tstanding in both the fac#lty of theology and that of canon law. &e chose so"e "on(s, so"e "endicants, and finally so"e fro" the reg#lar clergy. As presiding officer, &e appointed one with degrees in both canon and ci il law, who had lengthy co#rt e*perience. &e chose the past +#ly , for the "eeting at which &e e*plained the nat#re of the whole b#siness. &e learned that all had (nown and considered it already. -. &e then ordered the" to consider caref#lly all aspects of the "atter, "eanwhile searching for a sol#tion% after this consideration, they were to write o#t their concl#sions. &e did not as( the" to pass .#dg"ent on the contract which ga e rise to the contro ersy since the "any doc#"ents they wo#ld need were not a ailable. )ather &e as(ed that they establish a fi*ed teaching on #s#ry, since the opinions recently spread abroad see"ed to contradict the Ch#rch/s doctrine. All co"plied with these orders. They ga e their opinions p#blicly in two con ocations, the first of which was held in o#r presence last +#ly 01, the other last A#g#st 0% then they s#b"itted their opinions in writing to the secretary of the con ocation. 2. Indeed they pro ed to be of one "ind in their opinions. I. The nat#re of the sin called #s#ry has its proper place and origin in a loan contract. This financial contract between consenting parties de"ands, by its ery nat#re, that one ret#rn to another only as "#ch as he has recei ed. The sin rests on the fact that so"eti"es the creditor desires "ore than he has gi en. Therefore he contends so"e gain is owed hi" beyond that which he loaned, b#t any gain which e*ceeds the a"o#nt he ga e is illicit and #s#rio#s. II. One cannot condone the sin of #s#ry by arg#ing that the gain is not great or e*cessi e, b#t rather "oderate or s"all% neither can it be condoned by arg#ing that the borrower is rich% nor e en by arg#ing that the "oney borrowed is not left idle, b#t is spent #sef#lly, either to increase one/s fort#ne, to p#rchase new estates, or to engage in b#siness transactions. The law go erning loans consists necessarily in the e'#ality of what is gi en and ret#rned% once the e'#ality has been established, whoe er de"ands "ore than that iolates the ter"s of the

whose ad ice &e had as(ed for in this "ost serio#s b#siness.loan.9 In "any circ#"stances. Christian "inds sho#ld not thin( that gainf#l co""erce can flo#rish by #s#ries or other si"ilar in.. the decrees of pre io#s popes. to spend and in est "oney legiti"ately either to pro ide oneself with an ann#al inco"e or to engage in legiti"ate trade and b#siness. these sa"e legiti"ate contracts s#ffice to pro ide a standard and a principle for engaging in co""erce and fr#itf#l b#siness for the co""on good. In these contracts. 4ro" these other titles. 5or is it denied that it is ery often possible for so"eone. both open and hidden. he "#st "a(e restit#tion according to the co""#tati e bond of . restit#tion is obligated.#st and legiti"ate reasons arise to de"and so"ething o er and abo e the a"o#nt d#e on the contract. By these re"ar(s. Beca#se of this. &e are also aware that the theologians of regions neighboring those .#st contracts e*ist. plain loan. that so"e will falsely and rashly pers#ade the"sel es3and s#ch people can be fo#nd anywhere3that together with loan contracts there are other legiti"ate titles or. &e do not deny that at ti"es together with the loan contract certain other titles3which are not at all intrinsic to the contract3"ay r#n parallel with it.oin it. howe er. This law is to be obser ed in a holy "anner. "a(es nations "iserable. entirely . e*cepting loan contracts.#stice raises #p nations% sin. e*plained their opinions. &hoe er therefore wishes to follow his conscience "#st first diligently in'#ire if. 6 en tho#gh it "ay not fall #nder the precise r#bric of #s#ry !since all reciprocity. b#t also co""on h#"an sense and nat#ral reason. along with the loan. 7ho#ld any one thin( li(e this. Christ Hi"self teaches this8 9:o not ref#se to lend to hi" who as(s yo#. If not obser ed e*actly. and again after they had been held% for &e read the opinions of these o#tstanding "en "ost diligently. reparation "#st be "ade. III. On the contrary &e learn fro" di ine )e elation that . Besides. There are "any different contracts of this (ind. B#t yo# "#st diligently consider this. Also &e de oted o#r pri ate st#dy to this "atter before the congregations were con ened. they "ight con ince the"sel es that other . while they were in session. whate er is recei ed o er and abo e what is fair is a real in.#st contract "ay be possible e*cept for a loan.aw and Theology. IV. and the a#thority of Ch#rch co#ncils and the 4athers all see" to en.#stice% its f#nction in h#"an contracts is to ass#re e'#ality for each one. for which it is per"issible to recei e a "oderate a"o#nt of interest. no other tr#e and . since the professors of Canon . 6 eryone (nows that "an is obliged in "any instances to help his fellows with a si"ple. V.#stice. . is absent$. script#ral e idence.#dg"ent of the Catholic Ch#rch on #s#ry. 4ro" these types of contracts honest gain "ay be "ade. Therefore if one recei es interest.#stices. he will oppose not only the . if e'#ality is not "aintained. This is how the Cardinals and theologians and the "en "ost con ersant with the canons. &e appro e and confir" whate er is contained in the opinions abo e. howe er. &e certainly (now the a#thors who hold the opposite opinions and also those who either s#pport and defend those a#thors or at least who see" to gi e the" consideration. another category e*ists by "eans of which the gain he see(s "ay be lawf#lly attained. Th#s if e erything is done correctly and weighed in the scales of . by "eans of contracts differing entirely fro" loans.#stice.

the so#rce of all e il% to this end. 4or instance. Ta(e great care that no one in yo#r dioceses dares to write or preach the contrary% howe er if any one sho#ld ref#se to obey. when so"e contract is disc#ssed. also. 4irst of all. partic#larly if it does not lac( the s#pport of reason and of "en of rep#tation. Indeed cla"oro#s o#tcries and acc#sations brea( the chain of Christian lo e and gi e offense and scandal to the people. and priests to "a(e all of yo# aware of these "atters. =. 1. This will not only greatly help to a oid concern and an*iety. let the" be g#ided by those who e*cel in doctrine and the glory of irt#e. . In the second place.#dge these "atters with s#ch se erity that they hold any profit deri ed fro" "oney to be illegal and #s#rio#s% in contrast to the". "ay again be dri en headlong into r#in. to a oid e*tre"es. Concerning the specific contract which ca#sed these new contro ersies. b#t will also confir" the contract in the real" of p#blic b#siness. show yo#r people with pers#asi e words that the sin and ice of #s#ry is "ost e"phatically conde"ned in the 7acred 7cript#res% that it ass#"es ario#s for"s and appearances in order that the faithf#l. which are always e il. let no ins#lts be h#rled at those who hold the contrary opinion% nor let it be asserted that it "#st be se erely cens#red. B#t it is essential for these people. Therefore. the abo e opinions "#st be adhered to strictly.ected to the penalties i"posed by the sacred canons on those who iolate Apostolic "andates. )e(indle yo#r >eal for piety and yo#r conscientio#sness so that yo# "ay e*ec#te what &e ha e gi en. This approach also closes the door on contro ersies3 which ha e arisen "ore than once3since it clarifies whether the "oney. &hene er 7ynods are held or ser"ons preached or instr#ctions on sacred doctrine gi en. <.et the" not adhere too "#ch to their pri ate opinions. restored to liberty and grace by the blood of Christ. if they desire to in est their "oney. &e decide nothing for the present% &e also shall not decide now abo#t the other contracts in which the theologians and canonists lac( agree"ent. so"e tr#st in their own strength and (nowledge to s#ch an e*tent that they do not hesitate to gi e answers to those '#estions which de"and considerable (nowledge of sacred theology and of the canons. Before they gi e their answer. Therefore &e address these encyclical letters to all Italian Archbishops. let the" cons#lt a n#"ber of e"inent writers% then let the" accept those iews which they #nderstand to be confir"ed by (nowledge and a#thority. let the" e*ercise diligent care lest they be snatched by c#pidity. In the contract they sho#ld e*plain the conditions and what gain they e*pect fro" their "oney. ?. he sho#ld be s#b.in which the contro ersy had its origin #ndertoo( the defense of the tr#th with wisdo" and serio#sness. those who desire to (eep the"sel es free and #nto#ched by the conta"ination of #s#ry and to gi e their "oney to another in s#ch a "anner that they "ay recei e only legiti"ate gain sho#ld be ad"onished to "a(e a contract beforehand. In the third place. @. Bishops. there are so"e who . there are so"e so ind#lgent and so re"iss that they hold any gain whatsoe er to be free of #s#ry. And if a disp#te sho#ld arise. which has been .

or. the si*th year of O#r Pontificate.<. . 0 5o e"ber 0?. "ay act#ally contain concealed #s#ry. since gain is al"ost always obtained fro" "oney gi en to another. These are the chief things &e wanted to say to yo#. to yo# and to the floc( co""itted to yo#r care. &e hope that yo# "ay co""and yo#r faithf#l to obser e what these letters prescribe% and that yo# "ay #nderta(e effecti e re"edies if dist#rbances sho#ld be stirred #p a"ong yo#r people beca#se of this new contro ersy o er #s#ry or if the si"plicity and p#rity of doctrine sho#ld beco"e corr#pted in Italy. Th#s.#dg"ents of both co#rts. Gi en in )o"e at 7t. By the sa"e to(en. on the gro#nds that so"e gain is #s#ally recei ed fro" "oney lent o#t. and "#st therefore be ret#rned according to the . Cary Ca. and therefore can be #pheld in the co#rts of both ci il and canon law. and gain which is illicitly obtained. 4inally. it is clearly in alid to s#ggest. 00. In the fo#rth place &e e*hort yo# not to listen to those who say that today the iss#e of #s#ry is present in na"e only. that the iss#e of #s#ry is irrele ant in o#r ti"es. Tr#ly an ob io#s difference e*ists between gain which arises fro" "oney legally. 0A. How false is this opinion and how far re"o ed fro" the tr#thB &e can easily #nderstand this if we consider that the nat#re of one contract differs fro" the nat#re of another. &e i"part the Apostolic Benediction.loaned witho#t apparent interest. the things which res#lt fro" these contracts will differ in accordance with the arying nat#re of the contracts.

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