Translation:Ea est in fovendis
To the abbots of Citeaux, Morimond, and La Crête, that they should examine those suspected of heresy, along with the bishop of Metz. (Lateran, fifth day before the Ides of December.)
Discretion should be preserved, and careful consideration should be employed, by the prelates of the Church in fostering virtues and rooting out vices, so that they are neither harmed either by a thicket of thorns growing among the grain, nor is the wheat picked out along with bthe seeds of the cockle. In cutting away and also in curing the bodies of the sick, the diligence of the eye should thus precede the duty of the hand, and the finger should come before the sword, so that, if the branding iron is used incautiously, it does not both leave the weak parts uncured and also weaken the healthy parts: because the more it should be preserved more diligently in weaker minds, the more we know that the mind is more worthy than the body and spiritual things should be put before worldly things.
Although our venerable brother the bishop of Metz previously explained in his letter that both in the diocese and in the city of Metz not a small multitude, exerting themselves towards a certain French translation of the divine books, also dared to discuss among themselves in secret meetings, rejecting the company of others and standing firm against the priests trying to correct them, whose simplicity they mock, confident in the expertise of their own translation, the matter, which has not been put on trial, does not immediately stir us towards vengeance, but we ourselves, paying attention to this more diligently, have taken care to send an apostolic letter about this matter to everyone established both in the city and in the diocese of Metz, which you can plainly see from an inspection of its contents.
To the same bishop and chapter of Metz we have given orders to inquire carefully about the truth, who was the author of that translation, what was the intention of the translator, what is the faith of those using it, what is the cause of teaching it, if those using it venerate the apostolic See and honour the Catholic Church; so that having been instructed by their letter about these and other things which are necessary for more fully investigating the truth, we might understand more fully and plainly what ought to be done about them. Recently however the same bishop explained to us in his letter that some of them, whom he had noted as notorious in his previous letter, refuse to obey the apostolic command; while some of them privately, and some of them publicly, say that they should obey God alone; they do not cease even from their secret meetings, and although they have been forbidden to do so, they do not fear to usurp for themselves the duty of preaching in secret, although they are sent by no one; they reject people dissimilar to themselves and still insist on using that same translation, and they assert that they will pay no attention to either the bishop or their metropolitan, nor even to us, if we should decree that it should be abolished.
Although such people seem to deserve to be chastised about this, because they carry out meetings in secret, usurp the duty of preaching, despise the simplicity of priests and reject the company of those who do not accept their aforementioned translation; lest we seem to do anything sudden, we command and order through this apostolic letter that, at your discretion, in which we have full confidence, you should approach the city of Metz together, assemble before you, with the bishop, men who are knowledgeable in such matters, and those who adhere to the aforementioned translation, and if possible, after removing the obstacle of appeal, and supported by apostolic authority, you should correct what might be reprehensible in them. But if perhaps they do not wish to accept your correction, you should more diligently inquire the truth about those chapters which, as we told you above, were explained in the letter which we had sent to the bishop, and you should explain more fully what you find through your legate and letter; so that when you have become more certain, we may proceed as far as the matter should proceed.
Since the business of the Church is disturbed in this matter, and the cause of the Christian faith is questioned, we wish and command that you are studious and prompt in carrying out the command of the apostolic see with the highest diligence and caution. To this end, if you find that M. Crispinus the priest and his associate R. are guilty of these things which the aforementioned bishop thought they should be accused of, you should punish them according to canon law and deny their appeal. Otherwise, you should not delay, with ample warning and with whatever strictness is convenient, to compel the same bishop to relax the punishment, if perhaps he has inflicted any punishment on them, since they did not propose in our presence to do anything against him or the clergy.
But if all three of you cannot take part in carrying put these things, they may nevertheless be carried out by two of you.
Issued at the Lateran, on the fifth day before the Ides of December.
- Guy de Paray, 1194-1200.
- Reminiscent of Matthew 13, especially 13:29
- December 9, 1199.