THE BULL «DECET ROMANUM PONTIFICEM» LEO X EXCOMMUNICATES MARTIN LUTHER

Rome, 1521 January 3rd

Paper volume, mm. 288x217, ff. 4 (rubricelle) + 330, bound in pale-red leather; on the back at the top: LEON. X. BULLAR. A.V. AD IX. L. CLXX ASV, Reg. Vat., 1160, f. 305r The time limit of 60 days set by the Bull Exsurge Domine, during which Martin Luther was supposed to make an act of obedience to the Pope, expired on the 27th November 1520, after copies of the papal bull had been put on the doors of the Cathedrals of Meissen, Merseburg and Brandenburg, and after the German friar received the original document, he burnt it with contempt. Since Luther decided to proceed along his way (in suo pravo et damnato proposito obstinatum), the Pope had no other choice than to carry out the threat clearly announced in the document of the 15th June 1520. On the 3rd January 1521, the Bull Decet Romanum pontificem that officially declared Luther a heretic, as well as his followers and anyone who from then on accepted or helped Luther and his followers, was published. The Pope reserved for himself the possibility of acquitting the friar and ordered all the archbishops, metropolitans, bishops, Cathedral Chapters, canons and the superiors of regular orders to combat against Luther’s and his followers’ heresy to defend the Catholic faith. On the same day the Bull was published, apostolic brieves were sent to the Archbishop of Mainz, Alberto (nominated General Inquisitor for all Germany) and to the Nuncios Caracciolo and Eck to urge them, granting them the appropriate powers to fight against and judge all the obstinate Lutherans. On the contrary of the previous one, the harangue of this Bull has an exquisitely juridical tone, where little space is given to biblical texts (from the first line: Leo episcopus servus servorum Dei. Ad futuram rei memoriam. Decet Romanum pontificem, ex tradita sibi divinitus potestate, poenarum spiritualium et temporalium, pro meritorum diversitate, dispensatorem constitutum, ad reprimendum nefarios conatus perversorum quos noxiae voluntatis adeo depravata captivat intentio, ut, Dei timore postposito, canonicis sanctionibus mandatisque apostolicis neglectis atque contemptis, nova et falsa dogmata excogitare, ac in Ecclesia Dei nefarium scisma inducere [...] contra tales eorumque sequaces acrius insurgere...).

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