Pope Leo X
Pope Leo X (born Giovanni di Lorenzo de' Medici, 11 December 1475 - 1 December 1521) was head of the Roman Catholic Church and ruler of the Papal States from 9 March 1513 to his death in 1521.
Born into the prominent political and banking Medici family of Florence, Giovanni was the second son of Lorenzo de' Medici, ruler of the Florentine Republic, and was elevated to the cardinalate in 1489. Following the death of Pope Julius II, Giovanni was elected pope after securing the backing of the younger members of the Sacred College. Early on in his rule he oversaw the closing sessions of the Fifth Council of the Lateran, but struggled to implement the reforms agreed. In 1517 he led a costly war that succeeded in securing his nephew as Duke of Urbino, which reduced papal finances.
In Protestant circles, Leo is associated with granting indulgences for those who donated to reconstruct St. Peter's Basilica, a practice that was soon challenged by Martin Luther's 95 Theses. Leo rejected the Protestant Reformation, and his Papal bull of 1520, Exsurge Domine, condemned Martin Luther's condemnatory stance, rendering ongoing communication difficult.
- Since God has given us the papacy, let us enjoy it.
- Statement to his brother, Giuliano, as quoted in The Claims of Christianity (1894) by William Samuel Lilly, p. 191
- Made thirty, we should make thirty-one
- Statement (1 July 1517), when he created 30 new cardinals. Another priest, who seemed to him also worthy, was nominated during the ceremony.
Exsurge Domine (1520)
- Papal bull issued 15 June 1520, condemning The Ninety-Five Theses of Martin Luther - Full text online
- Arise, O Lord, and judge your own cause. Remember your reproaches to those who are filled with foolishness all through the day. Listen to our prayers, for foxes have arisen seeking to destroy the vineyard whose winepress you alone have trod.
- Give heed to the cause of the holy Roman Church, mother of all churches and teacher of the faith, whom you by the order of God, have consecrated by your blood. Against the Roman Church, you warned, lying teachers are rising, introducing ruinous sects, and drawing upon themselves speedy doom. Their tongues are fire, a restless evil, full of deadly poison. They have bitter zeal, contention in their hearts, and boast and lie against the truth.
- Some, putting aside her true interpretation of Sacred Scripture, are blinded in mind by the father of lies. Wise in their own eyes, according to the ancient practice of heretics, they interpret these same Scriptures otherwise than the Holy Spirit demands, inspired only by their own sense of ambition, and for the sake of popular acclaim, as the Apostle declares. In fact, they twist and adulterate the Scriptures. As a result, according to Jerome, "It is no longer the Gospel of Christ, but a man's, or what is worse, the devil's."
Let all this holy Church of God, I say, arise, and with the blessed apostles intercede with almighty God to purge the errors of His sheep, to banish all heresies from the lands of the faithful, and be pleased to maintain the peace and unity of His holy Church.
For we can scarcely express, from distress and grief of mind, what has reached our ears for some time by the report of reliable men and general rumor; alas, we have even seen with our eyes and read the many diverse errors.
- In virtue of our pastoral office committed to us by the divine favor we can under no circumstances tolerate or overlook any longer the pernicious poison of the above errors without disgrace to the Christian religion and injury to orthodox faith. Some of these errors we have decided to include in the present document; their substance is as follows:
- It is a heretical opinion, but a common one, that the sacraments of the New Law give pardoning grace to those who do not set up an obstacle.
- To deny that in a child after baptism sin remains is to treat with contempt both Paul and Christ.
- The inflammable sources of sin, even if there be no actual sin, delay a soul departing from the body from entrance into heaven.
- To one on the point of death imperfect charity necessarily brings with it great fear, which in itself alone is enough to produce the punishment of purgatory, and impedes entrance into the kingdom.
- That there are three parts to penance: contrition, confession, and satisfaction, has no foundation in Sacred Scripture nor in the ancient sacred Christian doctors.
- Sins are not forgiven to anyone, unless when the priest forgives them he believes they are forgiven; on the contrary the sin would remain unless he believed it was forgiven; for indeed the remission of sin and the granting of grace does not suffice, but it is necessary also to believe that there has been forgiveness.
- By no means can you have reassurance of being absolved because of your contrition, but because of the word of Christ: "Whatsoever you shall loose, etc." Hence, I say, trust confidently, if you have obtained the absolution of the priest, and firmly believe yourself to have been absolved, and you will truly be absolved, whatever there may be of contrition.
- Excommunications are only external penalties and they do not deprive man of the common spiritual prayers of the Church.
- Christians must be taught to cherish excommunications rather than to fear them.
- The Roman Pontiff, the successor of Peter, is not the vicar of Christ over all the churches of the entire world, instituted by Christ Himself in blessed Peter.
- The word of Christ to Peter: "Whatsoever you shall loose on earth," etc., is extended merely to those things bound by Peter himself.
- It is certain that it is not in the power of the Church or the pope to decide upon the articles of faith, and much less concerning the laws for morals or for good works.
- If the pope with a great part of the Church thought so and so, he would not err; still it is not a sin or heresy to think the contrary, especially in a matter not necessary for salvation, until one alternative is condemned and another approved by a general Council.
- A way has been made for us for weakening the authority of councils, and for freely contradicting their actions, and judging their decrees, and boldly confessing whatever seems true, whether it has been approved or disapproved by any council whatsoever.
- Some articles of John Hus, condemned in the Council of Constance, are most Christian, wholly true and evangelical; these the universal Church could not condemn.
- In every good work the just man sins.
- A good work done very well is a venial sin.
- That heretics be burned is against the will of the Spirit.
- To go to war against the Turks is to resist God who punishes our iniquities through them.
- No one of sound mind is ignorant how destructive, pernicious, scandalous, and seductive to pious and simple minds these various errors are, how opposed they are to all charity and reverence for the holy Roman Church who is the mother of all the faithful and teacher of the faith; how destructive they are of the vigor of ecclesiastical discipline, namely obedience. This virtue is the font and origin of all virtues and without it anyone is readily convicted of being unfaithful.
Therefore we, in this above enumeration, important as it is, wish to proceed with great care as is proper, and to cut off the advance of this plague and cancerous disease so it will not spread any further in the Lord's field as harmful thorn-bushes.
- With the advice and consent of these our venerable brothers, with mature deliberation on each and every one of the above theses, and by the authority of almighty God, the blessed Apostles Peter and Paul, and our own authority, we condemn, reprobate, and reject completely each of these theses or errors as either heretical, scandalous, false, offensive to pious ears or seductive of simple minds, and against Catholic truth. By listing them, we decree and declare that all the faithful of both sexes must regard them as condemned, reprobated, and rejected….We restrain all in the virtue of holy obedience and under the penalty of an automatic major excommunication....
Moreover, because the preceding errors and many others are contained in the books or writings of Martin Luther, we likewise condemn, reprobate, and reject completely the books and all the writings and sermons of the said Martin, whether in Latin or any other language, containing the said errors or any one of them; and we wish them to be regarded as utterly condemned, reprobated, and rejected. We forbid each and every one of the faithful of either sex, in virtue of holy obedience and under the above penalties to be incurred automatically, to read, assert, preach, praise, print, publish, or defend them. They will incur these penalties if they presume to uphold them in any way, personally or through another or others, directly or indirectly, tacitly or explicitly, publicly or occultly, either in their own homes or in other public or private places.
- Therefore let Martin himself and all those adhering to him, and those who shelter and support him, through the merciful heart of our God and the sprinkling of the blood of our Lord Jesus Christ by which and through whom the redemption of the human race and the upbuilding of holy mother Church was accomplished, know that from our heart we exhort and beseech that he cease to disturb the peace, unity, and truth of the Church for which the Savior prayed so earnestly to the Father. Let him abstain from his pernicious errors that he may come back to us. If they really will obey, and certify to us by legal documents that they have obeyed, they will find in us the affection of a father's love, the opening of the font of the effects of paternal charity, and opening of the font of mercy and clemency.
We enjoin, however, on Martin that in the meantime he cease from all preaching or the office of preacher...
- It has served us well, this myth of Christ.
- Widely attributed to Leo X, the earliest known source of this statement is actually a polemical work by the Protestant John Bale, the anti-Catholic Acta Romanorum Pontificum, which was first translated from Latin into English as The Pageant of the Popes in 1574: "For on a time when a cardinall Bembus did move a question out of the Gospell, the Pope gave him a very contemptuous answer saying: All ages can testifie enough how profitable that fable of Christe hath ben to us and our companie." The Pope in this case being Leo X. Later accounts of it exist, as recorded by Vatican Librarian, Cardinal Baronius in the Annales Ecclesiastici (1597) a 12-volume history of the Church.
- In a more modern polemic, "The Criminal History of the Papacy" by Tony Bushby, in Nexus Magazine Volume 14, Number 3 (April - May 2007), it is stated that "The pope's pronouncement is recorded in the diaries and records of both Pietro Cardinal Bembo (Letters and Comments on Pope Leo X, 1842 reprint) and Paolo Cardinal Giovio (De Vita Leonis Decimi..., op. cit.), two associates who were witnesses to it."
Quotes about Leo X
- Sorted alphabetically by author or source
- Leo X succeeded Julius II, and under his pontificate, Latin Christianity assumed a pagan, Greco-Roman character, which, passing from art into manners, gives to this epoch a strange complexion. Crimes for the moment disappeared, to give place to vices; but to charming vices, vices in good taste, such as those indulged in by Alcibiades and sung by Catullus.
- Alexandre Dumas, in "The Cenci", in Celebrated Crimes (1839), Vol. I, P F Collier & Son edition (1910), pp. 361–414
- The pope is a good-natured and extremely free-hearted man, who avoids every difficult situation and above all wants peace; he would not undertake a war himself unless forced into it by his advisors; he loves learning; of canon law and literature he possesses remarkable knowledge; he is, moreover, a very excellent musician.
- Marino Giorgi, in remarks as Venetian ambassador (March 1517), reported in Historia de los Papas, Tomo IV, Vol VIII (1910) by Ludovico Pastor, p. 62
- Sacra sub extrema, si forte requiritis, hora
Cur Leo non potuit sumere: vendiderat.
- Leo lack'd the last sacrament. Why, need we tell?
He had chosen the chalice and paten to sell.
- Jacopo Sannazaro, as quoted in Epigrams, Ancient and Modern (1865), edited John Booth, p. 150
- Variant translations:
- If by chance you ask why in his last hour Leo wasn't able to take the sacraments: he had sold them.
- Leo lack'd the last sacrament. Why, need we tell?