На английском языке For an everlasting record. Not long ago, under the Lord's providence, we held a general council at Vienne, at which we suppressed the former order of the Knights Templar of Jerusalem. We granted, attached and joined the Templar possessions, with the approval of the sacred council, to the order of the Hospital of saint John of Jerusalem, for the help of the holy Land; with the exception, for certain reasons, of their property lying in the kingdoms and lands of our beloved sons in Christ, the illustrious kings ....of Castile, ....of Aragon, ....of Portugal and ....of Majorca, outside the kingdom of France, which we reserved for our disposal and that of the apostolic see until we made other arrangements. Then, in the same council, we made some sound provisions for furthering the cause of the holy Land and others by which quarrels, scandals and discord might be prevented, and continuous peace and concord be established, between prelates of churches and other clergy on the one hand and the brothers of the Hospital on the other. We also made provision on other points relating to the reform of the order of the Hospital.
Actually, business has pressed upon us. It is like an ocean pouring into the apostolic see. The waters of care constantly harass our heart. We have not been permitted until now, and are still not permitted, to put into execution the arrangements we desire. In order that the fruit of such sound proposals may not perish through oblivion or pressure of business, but rather may be gathered up, by the Lord's will, at the opportune time, we have had the headings of these projected decrees inserted into the present document. Their drift is as follows. We wish that the transfer of property of the former order of the Temple to the order of the Hospital may, by our provision, be of advantage to the holy Land. We also wish that quarrels, scandals and discord be prevented between prelates and other clergy on the one hand and the brothers of the order on the other; that lasting concord be established between them; and that the order and its members be reformed, if and as this seems good. We have therefore made three special provisions regarding the order of the Hospital.
The first has to do with the holy Land. We shall have an exact and careful enquiry made into the past and present possessions of the order of the Hospital and their exact annual value. We shall wish to know fully the annual value of each old and new house of the order, and how much this represents each year in terms of assistance to the holy Land. On completion of this valuation, and taking into account the necessary local expenditure, we shall oblige the order to maintain continuously in the holy Land a certain number of brothers and knights. These brothers and knights are to labour effectively and strive to win the holy Land and keep it, as far as God grants. We shall arrange and provide that very few brothers of the order remain on this side of the sea. These shall be only those required to govern the houses of the order and those who are old, sick or unfit for war. The young and the strong, who are able to fight, shall be required to go and stay overseas so that the holy Land may have its needs met. The order will thus pursue the purpose for which it was instituted, as is only right and fitting. In this way it will not reserve for itself great wealth or many persons of quality. Rather, the order will lose all occasion for pride or the prosecution of idle enterprises, since the brothers and knights who drag their feet on this side of the sea will be far fewer than before. The property remaining behind will also be heavily and more than usually burdened as a result of our above-mentioned provisions.
We cannot impose on our successors the continuation of the above policy. Yet, in order to make this course of action possible and easier for them, we shall have the annual value of each house registered exactly in the Roman curia, and also the service which it will be able to provide each year for the holy Land, and the fixed number of brothers and knights required to stay overseas. We shall arrange that the registered material be kept permanently with the papal registers under our bull. Further, that there be no lack of carefulness or caution in this matter, we shall send the registered material under our bull to all Christian kings to be permanently kept by them in order that if it should happen-though may it not-that this ordinance is not observed by the Hospitallers, the kings themselves, being informed in the above manner, may more quickly and fully know where the observance of this ordinance has ceased. As a result, they will also be moved to take care that it is observed.
Secondly, in order to establish tranquility and peace, as was said above, between the churches with their prelates and the order of the Hospital, we shall see that all the privileges of the order are fully shown to us. And although we have no intention whatsoever of taking away its exemption, if the order has such, or of granting exemption, if the order has none, we shall altogether take away any privileges, if such there be, which are odious or provide matter for quarrels, discord or scandals. If we happen to find areas of uncertainty which it is not advisable to remove, we shall clarify. In addition, we shall delegate in each province two of its prelates and one of our clerics or another cleric to provide more fully for concord, giving them full and unrestricted powers, so that simply and easily, and without the din of a court of law, they may hear and settle or make peace between the parties in all disputes and cases that have arisen or might arise for any reason between the aforesaid order and the churches and any ecclesiastics with regard to churches, tithes, first-fruits, procurations and any property or rights whatsoever. This is to include questions concerning the property and rights of the former order of the Temple. The parties may be summoned or not as they wish; charges may be laid or not, as they please. Before or after the delegates' decision there can be no appeal. Whatever they do or decide shall altogether be regarded as done or decided by us.
We shall also grant to them the power of regulating the procurations owed by the order to the bishops in different places so that, when and as seems good to them, they are converted into an annual payment as money to be paid by the order to the bishops. The bishops, on receiving such payments, are bound to visit at their own expense, at a time suitable for them, the places making them. If this regulation does not seem useful, the bishops will receive on visitation the procurations owed to them by the churches of the order, if these are able to pay them. If a church cannot pay the full procuration, the above delegates will make an estimate of the amount payable to the bishop as the procuration for that church. We shall also ordain that all churches which have annexed to them the cure of souls and belonged to the order of the Hospital on account of any right of the Temple, or even on account of any other rights which belong or shall belong to the Hospital, shall be subject in all spiritual matters to their diocesans, notwithstanding any privilege of exemption. Indeed, in order that everything decreed above may be fulfilled more quickly and without evasion on the part of the order, and that our good will may appear to everyone, we suspend entirely from now all the privileges for long granted by the apostolic see to the order, except for the privilege of exemption, if possessed, and we wish them to remain suspended at our pleasure.
Thirdly, concerning the order of the Hospital itself, we shall be making decrees regarding its regulation and reform. We shall be seeing and examining carefully the rules, statutes, form of government and progress of the order itself and of its members. We shall approve and confirm what is good. We shall clarify doubtful points that we find in need of revision in the order itself and in its personnel, both head and members. We shall restore the norm of truth, justice and regular observance with the equilibrium of reason and equity, to the advantage and welfare of the order and for the help of the holy Land. In this way the order itself will be preserved from decay and kept in a healthy and prosperous condition.
The prelates of France, after the above intentions had been explained to them, petitioned that we should take away the privilege of exemption, if the order of the Hospital possessed it, or at least suspend such exemption, just as we have decreed the suspension of the order's other privileges. These prelates also declared that, as long as the unlettered and simple brothers of the order remain under the care of their simple priests, and the prelates themselves are unacquainted with the brothers' deeds and consciences, they can be in grave danger of losing their souls through having the privilege of exemption, if they do in fact possess it. Our reply is that because of shortness of time we are unable here to formulate a full and determinate decree. As soon as we can conveniently do so we shall with the Lord's help decree and provide in this matter. Also, as these prelates earnestly petitioned us, it is our will and decree that just as individual catholic kings shall receive in writing the valuation of the order's revenues and the other relevant information, so each province ought to have and shall have the same document.
Also, in accordance with the petition of these prelates, we decree and determine that the compositions pending or made within the last ten years, which were extorted from churches and ecclesiastics through fear of the order of the Hospital and the order of the former Temple, do not disadvantage or harm the said churches and ecclesiastics in any way, and that if two prelates and a non-prelate delegated by us cannot reach agreement, then whatever is decided by one of the prelates and the non-prelate, or decreed by them by way of composition or agreement, shall have effect and full validity. Also, we wish to be as gracious as possible to the said prelates. Therefore we shall allow the two prelates delegated by us to raise in ready money the procurations of their dioceses while absent, and we shall have the non-prelate provided for in money from the property of the former order of the Temple. We shall also decree in accordance with the petition of the prelates of France, that Hospitallers who publicly receive excommunicated persons or those under interdict or notorious usurers for ecclesiastical burial, or for solemnizing their marriages or having them solemnized or permitting them to be solemnized in their churches against the law, or for administering the sacraments to outside parishioners or permitting this in their churches, incur automatic excommunication. And we strictly forbid the Hospitallers to trouble anyone unduly by use of apostolic letters. We shall also decree, in accordance with the petition of the same prelates, against the building of new churches or chapels, the erecting of bell-towers and the making of cemeteries; we shall provide adequate laws on these subjects to be observed by the Hospitallers.
Given at Avignon on 31 December in the eighth year of our pontificate.