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Defense of the Imperial Church – Regensburg Reform (July 7, 1524)

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Further, since, in all things, nothing is more appropriate than ensuring that those who work in the Lord's shrine, whom the Lord God Himself has made priests, and who daily handle and transform the holy things, shall be of pure life, we order that, in accordance with the canon law established by the holy Fathers of the Church, priests shall lead a chaste life, and that those who live with wives, and thus impurity, be disciplined according to the canon law, custom and episcopal tolerance notwithstanding.

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The pastor should recognize the voice of his sheep, and the sheep in turn should recognize the pastor's voice. [John 10:3] So that all causes for itinerancy be abolished, we order that itinerant unknown priests shall not be allowed to say Mass. Nor shall they be allowed to reside for more than one month in the parish, unless they produce both written permission from the archbishop or bishop in whose diocese they reside and written permission from the bishop of their own diocese. Thus no one may escape punishment for bad deeds by fleeing to another diocese.

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Because of the new, recently condemned heresies, a steadily growing number of people have left their orders and the priesthood, and many of them have married. In order that such spiritual crimes not go unpunished, it is our order and recommendation that all temporal princes, estates, and authorities, together with their vicars and officials, arrest such criminals. They shall promptly interrogate or torture and hand them over to their bishops for punishment. We urge the bishops to proceed, without delay or favor and with greater than usual diligence, in punishing these criminals according to the canon law. After the case is proved, the bishop may jail such a person or condemn him to life in prison, but the canon law must be followed. Once the bishops' dilatoriness is reported to Rome, at the request of princes and other temporal rulers, spiritual judges may be appointed, who, after investigating the situation, may punish the heretics.

Further, in order to establish and strengthen a solid understanding and unity among the diocesan clergy, we order that the old episcopal custom be revived, namely, that a triennial metropolitan [archiepiscopal] synod be held after Easter once every three years.

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In order that grave blasphemy against God's name and the saints (who are not to be despised) be abolished, we order that any priest or other clerical person who openly criticizes or curses God Almighty, and thereby mocks or dishonors Our Lord Jesus Christ or his praiseworthy Mother, the holy virgins, or other saints, shall be deprived of the incomes of his benefice or of the entire benefice, or shall be otherwise punished following a judicial trial.

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