Second Lateran Council
|Second Lateran Council
, translated by Henry Joseph Schroeder
Pope Innocent II in 1139 as an attempt to reunify the church after the two papacies.
The Second Lateran Council was called by |
From H. J. Schroeder, Disciplinary Decrees of the General Councils: Text, Translation and Commentary, (St. Louis: B. Herder, 1937). pp. 195-213. B. Herder's list was bought by TAN books, of Rockford IL. TAN confirmed that US copyright was not renewed after the statuary 28 years and that the text is now in the public domain in the US.
This text is part of the Internet Medieval Source Book. The Sourcebook is a collection of public domain and copy-permitted texts related to medieval and Byzantine history.
Canons of the Council 
CANON 1 (Simony and Ordination) 
- We decree that if anyone has been ordained simoniacally, he shall lose the office thus illicitly obtained.
- Identical with canon I of Clermont (1130) and renewed by Reims (1131)
CANON 2 (Purchasing of Church Offices) 
- If anyone, impelled by the execrable vice of avarice, has by means of money obtained a prebend, priory, deanery, or any ecclesiastical honor or promotion, or any ecclesiastical sacrament, as chrism, holy oil, or the consecration of altars and churches, he shall be deprived of the honor thus illicitly acquired, and buyer and seller and intermediary agent shall be stigmatized with the mark of infamy. Neither for provisions nor under pretense of some custom shall something be demanded from anyone either before or after, nor shall anyone presume to give, because it is simoniacal; but freely and without any price shall he enjoy the dignity or benefice conferred on him.
- An expansion of canon I of Clermont and Reims and analogous to one of Pisa (1135) and to canons 1, 3, and 4 of London (1138). Denzinger, no 364
CANON 3 (Excommunicats) 
- We absolutely forbid that those who have been excommunicated by their own bishops be received by others. He who shall dare communicate knowingly with one excommunicated before he is absolved by the one who excommunicated him, shall incur the same penalty.
CANON 4 (Sanctity Rules of Bishops) 
- We command that bishops and clerics in mind and in body strive to be pleasing to God and to men, and not by superfluity, dissensions, or the color of their clothes, nor in their tonsure, off end the sight of those whose model and example they ought to be; but rather let them manifest the sanctity that should be part and parcel of their office. But if, admonished by their bishops, they do not amend, let them be deprived of their benefices.
- Identical with canon 2 of Clermont and Reims.
CANON 5 (The Property of Dead Bishops Stays With the Chuch) 
- We decree that that which was enacted in the Council of Chalcedon (canon 22) be inviolately observed; namely, that the possessions of deceased bishops be not seized by anyone, but that they remain in the hands of the steward and the clergy for the needs of the Church and his successor. That detestable and barbarous rapacity shall henceforth cease. If anyone in the future shall dare attempt this, let him be excommunicated. Those who seize the possessions of deceased priests or clerics, let them be subjected to the same penalty.
- Identical with canon 3 of Clermont and Reims.
CANON 6 (Clerics prohibited from Marriage) 
- We also decree that those who in the subdiaconate and higher orders have contracted marriage or have concubines, be deprived of their office and ecclesiastical benefice. For since they should be and be called the temple of God, the vessel of the Lord, the abode of the Holy Spirit, it is unbecoming that they indulge in marriage and in impurities.
- Identical with canon 4 of Clermont and Reims. Cf. canon 21 of the First Council of the Lateran.
CANON 7 (Laity are Prohibited from Attending Mass by a Married Clergy Member) 
- Following in the footsteps of our predecessors, the Roman pontiff s Gregory VII, Urban, and Paschal, we command that no one attend the masses of those who are known to have wives or concubines. But that the law of continence and purity, so pleasing to God, may become more general among persons constituted in sacred orders, we decree that bishops, priests, deacons, subdeacons, canons regular, monks, and professed clerics (conversi) who, transgressing the holy precept, have dared to contract marriage, shall be separated. For a union of this kind which has been contracted in violation of the ecclesiastical law, we do not regard as matrimony. Those who have been separated from each other, shall do penance commensurate with such excesses.
CANON 8 (Prohibitions against Nuns marrying) 
- We decree that the same be observed with regard to nuns if, which God forbid, they attempt to marry.
CANON 9 (Monks and Canons May Not Study Law and Medicine for Profit) 
- An evil and detestable custom, we understand, has grown up in the form that monks and canons regular, after having received the habit and made profession, despite the rule of the holy masters Benedict and Augustine, study jurisprudence and medicine for the sake of temporal gain. Instead of devoting themselves to psalmody and hymns, they are led by the impulses of avarice to make themselves defenders of causes and, confiding in the support of a splendid voice, confuse by the variety of their statements what is just and unjust, right and wrong. The imperial constitutions, however, testify that its is absurd and disgraceful for clerics to seek to become experts in forensic disputations. We decree, therefore, in virtue of our Apostolic authority, that offenders of this kind be severely punished. Moreover, the care of souls being neglected and the purpose of their order being set aside, they promise health in return for detestable money and thus make themselves physicians of human bodies. Since an impure eye is the messenger of an impure heart, those things about which good people blush to speak, religion ought not to treat (that is, religious ought to avoid). Therefore, that the monastic order as well as the order of canons may be pleasing to God and be conserved inviolate in their holy purposes, we forbid in virtue of our Apostolic authority that this be done in the future. Bishops, abbots, and priors consenting to such outrageous practice and not correcting it, shall be deprived of their honors and cut off from the Church.
- Identical with canon 5 of Clermont.
CANON 10 (Laymen May Not Control Church Finances) 
- In virtue of our Apostolic authority, we forbid that tithes of churches which canonical authority shows to have been given for pious purposes be possessed by laymen. Whether they have received them from bishops, kings, or other persons, unless they are returned to the Church, the possessors shall be judged guilty of sacrilege and shall incur the danger of eternal damnation. We command also that laymen who hold churches shall either return them to the bishops or incur excommunication. We confirm, moreover, and command that no one shall be promoted to the office of archdeacon or dean, unless he be a deacon or priest; those archdeacons and deans or provosts who exist below the orders just mentioned, if they refuse to be Ordained, let them be deprived of the honor received. We forbid, moreover, that the aforesaid honors be bestowed upon young men, even though they are constituted in sacred orders; but let them be conferred on those who are noted for prudence and rectitude of life. We command, moreover, that churches be not committed to hired priests; but let every church that possesses the means of support have its own priest.
- Cf. canon 2 of I Lateran.
CANON 11 (The Safety of Clerics and Travelers Must be Guaranteed) 
- We command also that priests, clerics, monks, travelers, merchants, country people going and returning, and those engaged in agriculture, as well as the animals with which they till the soil and that carry the seeds to the field, and also their sheep, shall at all times be secure.
- Identical with canons 8 of Clermont and 10 and 11 of Reirns.
CANON 12 (Rules Governing the Truce of God) 
- We decree that the truce of God be strictly observed by all from the setting of the sun on Wednesday to its rising on Monday, and from Advent to the octave of Epiphany and from Quinquagesma to the octave of Easter. If anyone shall violate it and does not make satisfaction after the third admonition, the bishop shall direct against him the sentence of excommunication and in writing shall announce his action to the neighboring bishops. No bishops shall restore to communion the one excommunicated; indeed every bishop should confirm the sentence made known to him in writing. But if anyone (that is, any bishop) shall dare violate this injunction, he shall jeopardize his order. And since "a threefold cord is less easily broken" (Eccles. 4:12), we command the bishops, having in mind only God and the salvation of the people, and having discarded all tepidity, offer each other mutual counsel and assistance for firmly establishing peace; nor should they be swayed in this by the love or hatred of anybody. But if anyone be found to be tepid in this work of God, let him incur the loss of his dignity.
CANON 13 (Usurers) 
- We condemn that detestable, disgraceful, and insatiable rapacity of usurers which has been outlawed by divine and human laws in the Old and New Testaments, and we deprive them of all ecclesiastical consolation, commanding that no archbishop, no bishop, no abbot of any order, nor anyone in clerical orders, shall, except with the utmost caution, dare receive usurers; but during their whole life let them be stigmatized with the mark of infamy, and unless they repent let them be deprived of Christian burial .
- Denzinger, no.. 365. Schneider, Das kircbl. Zinsverbot u. d. kuriale Praxis im 13. Jahrh., in Festgabe f. Hein. Finke, Münster, 1904.
CANON 14 (Condemnation of Tournaments) 
- We condemn absolutely those detestable jousts or tournaments in which the knights usually come together by agreement and, to make a show of their strength and boldness, rashly engage in contests which are frequently the cause of death to men and of danger to souls. If anyone taking part in them should meet his death, though penance and the Viaticum shall not be denied him if he asks for them, he shall, however, be deprived of Christian burial.
CANON 15 (Anathema Against Violence Towards Clerics and People Seeking the Church's Protection) 
- If anyone at the instigation of the devil incurs the guilt of this sacrilege, namely, that he has laid violent hands on a cleric or monk, he shall be anathematized and no bishop shall dare absolve him, except mortis urgente periculo, till he be presented to the Apostolic See and receive its mandate. We command also that no one shall dare lay hands on those who have taken refuge in a church or cemetery. Anyone doing this, let him be excommunicated.
CANON 16 (Ecclesiastical Office is Given According to Merit) 
- It is beyond doubt that ecclesiastical honors are bestowed not in consideration of blood relationship but of merit, and the Church of God does not look for any successor with hereditary rights, but demands for its guidance and for the administration of its offices upright, wise, and religious persons. Wherefore, in virtue of our Apostolic authority we forbid that anyone appropriate or presume to demand on the plea of hereditary right churches, prebends, deaneries, chaplaincies, or any ecclesiastical offices. If anyone, prompted by dishonesty or animated by ambition, dare attempt this, he shall be duly punished and his demands disregarded.
CANON 17 (Incestual Marriage is Forbbiden) 
- We absolutely forbid marriages between blood-relatives. The declarations of the holy fathers and of the holy Church of God condemn incest of this kind, which, encouraged by the enemy of the human race, has become so widespread. Even the civil laws brand with infamy and dispossess of all hereditary rights those born of such unions.
- Cf. canon 5 of the w:First Council of the Lateran.
CANON 18 (Condemnation of Incendiarism) 
- By the authority of God and of the blessed Apostles Peter id Paul we absolutely condemn and prohibit that most wicked, devastating, horrible, and malicious work of incendiaries; for this pest, this hostile waste, surpasses all other depredations. No one is ignorant of how detrimental this is to the people of God and what injury it inflicts on souls and bodies. Every means must be employed, therefore, and no effort must be spared that for the welfare of the people such ruin and such destruction may be eradicated and extirpated. If anyone, therefore, after the promulgation of this prohibition, shall through malice, hatred, or revenge set fire, or cause it to be set, or knowingly by advice or other connivance have part in it, let him be excommunicated. Moreover, when incendiaries die, let them be deprived of Christian burial. Nor shall they be absolved until, as far as they are able, they have made reparation to those injured and have promised under oath to set no more fires. For penance they are to spend one year in the service of God either in Jerusalem or in Spain.
CANON 19 (Bishop Punishment for Not Adhering to the Canons of the Council.) 
- If any archbishop or bishop relaxes this ordinance, he shall restore the loss incurred and shall be suspended from his Episcopal office for one year.
CANON 20 (Secular Leaders May Confer with Ecclesiastical Authorities in Dispensing Justice) 
- We do not deny to kings and princes the authority (facultatem) to dispense justice in consultation with the archbishops and bishops.
CANON 21 (Sons of Priests Must Be Debarred) 
- We decree that the sons of priests must be debarred from the ministry of the altar, unless they become monks or canons regular.
CANON 22 (Ecclesiastical Leaders Must Instruct Layith Against False Penance) 
- Since among other things there is one that chiefly disturbs the Church, namely, false penance, we admonish our confrères (that is the bishops) and priests that the minds of the people be not deceived by false penances, lest thus they should run the risk of being drawn into hell. A penance is false when it is performed for one sin only and not also for the others, or when only one is avoided, and the other are not. Hence it is written: "Whoever shall observe the whole law but offend in one (point), is become guilty of all," so as far as eternal life is concerned. For as one guilty of all sins will not enter the gate of eternal life, so also if one be guilty of only one sin. A penance, moreover, is false when the penitent does not resign a curial or commercial occupation, the duties of which he cannot perform without committing sin, or if he bears hatred in his heart or does not repair an injury or does not pardon an offense, or if he carries arms in contravention of justice.
- James 2:10.
- Denzinger, no. 366. Synod of Melfi, canon 16, Mansi, l.c.; Hefele-Leclercq, 1. c.
CANON 23 (Condemnation of Those Who Reject the Sacraments) 
- Those who, simulating a species of religious zeal, reject the sacrament of the body and blood of the Lord, the baptism of infants, the priesthood, and other ecclesiastical orders, as well as matrimony, we condemn and cast out of the Church as heretics, and ordain that they be restrained by the civil power. For their partisans also we decree the same penalty.
- Mansi, XX, 533; Hefele-Leclercq, V, 263 f.
- Denzinger, no. 367.
CANON 24 (Sacraments Shall Be Provided Free of Charge) 
- We decree further that not money shall be demanded for chrism, oil, and burial.
CANON 25 (Ecclesiastical Offices May Not Be Issued by Layity) 
- If anyone has received a deanery, prebend, or other ecclesiastical benefices from the hands of laymen, he shall be deprived of the benefices unjustly obtained. For, according to the decrees of the holy fathers, laymen, no matter how devout they may be, have no authority to dispose of ecclesiastical property.
- Cf. canon 4 of preceding council.
CANON 26 (Women May Not Behave as Nuns If They Are Not Nuns) 
- We decree that that pernicious and detestable custom of some women who, though they live neither according to the Rule of Blessed Benedict nor according to the rules of Basil and Augustine, yet wish to be commonly regarded as nuns be abolished. For while, according to the rule, those living in monasteries must observe the common life in the church as well as in the refectory and dormitory, these build their own retreats (receptacula) and private houses in which, contrary to the sacred canons and good morals, they are not ashamed to receive at times under cover of hospitality strangers and persons of little religious faith. Wherefore, since all who do evil hate the light, moved by the same impulse, these, hidden in the tent of the just (that is, under the name of nuns), think they can conceal themselves also from the eyes of the judge who sees all things, we absolutely and under penalty of anathema forbid that this disgraceful and detestable evil be practiced in the future.
CANON 27 (Nuns May Not Sing the Office With Monks) 
- We likewise forbid nuns to sing the divine office in the choir with the canons or monks.
CANON 28 (Replacement of Bishops) 
- Since the decrees of the fathers insist that on the death of bishops the Churches be not left vacant more than three months, we forbid under penalty of anathema that the canons of cathedrals exclude from the election of bishops viros religiosos (that is, monks and canons regular), but rather with the aid of their counsel let a capable and trustworthy person be chosen for the Episcopal office. If, however, an election has been held with such religious excluded and held without their assent and agreement, it shall be null and void.
CANON 29 (Anathem Against Slingers and Archers Who Attack Christians) 
- We forbid under penalty of anathema that that deadly and God-detested art of stingers and archers be in the future exercised against Christians and Catholics.
CANON 30 (Ordinations by Anacletus II Are Void) 
- The ordinations conferred by Peter Leonis (Pierleone, the antipope Anacletus II) and other schismatics and heretics, we declare null and void.
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