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

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Against spiritual usury, called simony,* we order that the laws of the ancient Fathers be honored, and that the punishment they prescribed be applied.

Against clergymen who prophesy or practice sorcery, and who condemn both the saints and the ancient Fathers, we order that the rulers declare them dishonorable and proceed against those who, having been admonished, refuse to cease these practices. The temporal rulers shall remove them from their own religious communities and relegate them to another monastery, and they shall be stripped of their spiritual benefices and offices.

There are the other false Christians, who have little regard for the Christian faith, and who consort with the Jewish and other sects. They shall be expelled from the holy Christian community and prosecuted. Those who will not recant shall be tried and punished by the bishops, their vicar-generals or others appointed to investigate heresies, or judges named by the Holy See or by us.

We also forbid the clergy and laity to discuss lightly our Holy Faith, especially while drinking in taverns. And we command the clergy to live moderately and read the Old and New Testaments (as is their duty), so that through indolence they do not become prey to vice and lechery.

We order, too, that every bishop should, with due diligence, make sure that the vicars, whether appointed for life or at the patron's pleasure, draw a suitable share of the benefice's incomes, so that they are not driven by poverty and the need to press and burden their flocks.

[ . . . ]

There is no use making ordinances and rules unless they are followed and enforced. So that our Christian faith should flourish once again, and the priesthood will regain its old standing through the destruction of the roots of heresy through strict and effective enforcement, there is no better means than the old practice of convening diocesan assemblies, called "synods," which shall be revived, established, and held. Therefore, we order that all bishops and leading prelates, deans, and other persons of standing in their dioceses hold annual assembles, called "diocesan synods." They shall appoint judges who will diligently investigate whether the aforementioned ordinances and rules, plus all others issued (with episcopal permission) by the diocesan synods, are being enforced or not. They shall do this, where necessary, with the aid of the temporal ruler.

We also command that these, our constitutions, be read in metropolitan and diocesan assemblies, called "synods," so that thereafter no one can plead ignorance of them.

[ . . . ]

* Simony is the ecclesiastical crime of paying for an office or position in the Church. It is named for Simon Magus [Acts 8:18-24] – trans.

Source of original German text: Albrecht P. Luttenberger, ed., Katholische Reform und Konfessionalisierung. Darmstadt: WBG, 2006, pp. 215-25.

English translation: Thomas A. Brady Jr.

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