Oath of Conformity and Obedience
Oath of Conformity and Obedience
is the title of the vow taken by all beneficed priests, professors, and bishops of the Romish Church. The oaths taken by the priests and professors will be inserted in the article ROMANISM. We make room here only for the bishop's oath, which is translated from the Pontificale. Romanum, published by authority of the popes, and reprinted at Rome in 1869 by the Congregation of Rites and the Propaganda:
"I, N, elect of the Church of N, from this hour henceforward will be faithful and obedient to the blessed Peter the apostle, and to the holy Roman Church, and to our lord, the lord N [Pius], pope N [IX], and to his successors canonically coming in. I will not advise, or consent, or do anything that they may lose life or member, or be taken by an evil deception, or have hands violently laid upon them in any way, or have injuries ofered to them under any pretense whatsoever. The counsel indeed which they shall intrust to me, by themselves, or by their messengers or letters, I will not, to their harm, knowingly reveal to any one. The Roman papacy and the royalties of St. Peter I will help them to retain and defend, without prejudice to my order, against every man. The legate of the apostolic see, in his going and returning, I will treat honorably and help in his necessities. The rights, honors, privileges, and authority of the holy Roman Church, of our lord the pope, and of his aforesaid successors, I will take care to preserve, defend, increase, and promote. Nor will I be in any counsel, or deed, or working, in which any thing may be contrived against our lord himself or the said Roman Church, to the injury or prejudice of
their persons, right, honor, state, and power. And if I shall know such things to be taken in hand or managed by any whomsoever, I will hinder this as far as I cans; and as soon as I shall be able , will make it known to our said lord, or to some other one by whom it may come to his knowledge. The rules of the holy fathers, the decrees, ordinances, or dispositions, reservations, provisions, and mandates apostolical, I will observe with all my might, and cause to be observed by others. Heretics, schismatics, and rebels against our said lord or his aforesaid successors I will, as far as I can, follow after (persequar) and fight against. When called to a synod I will come, unless I shall be prevented by a canonical impediment. I will myself personally visit the thresholds of the apostles [i.e. Rome] every three years [this period applies to those in Italy and its vicinity; once in four years is the rule for those in France, Spain, Germany, Great Britain and Ireland, etc.; once in five years for those in remoter parts of Europe, in North Africa, etc.; once in ten years for those in Asia, America, etc. — thus the Pontificale Romanumn determines]; and I will render to our lord and his aforesaid successors an account of my whole pastoral office, and of all things in anywise pertaining to the state of my Church, to the discipline of the clergy and people, finally to the salvation of the souls committed to my trust; and I will in turn humbly receive and with the utmost diligence perform the apostolic commands. But if I shall be detained by a lawful impediment, I will perform all the things aforesaid by a certain messenger specially authorized for this purpose, one of my chapter, or some other one placed in ecclesiastical dignity, or else having a parsonage; or, if these are lacking to me, by a priest of the diocese; and if the clergy are altogether lacking, by some other secular or regular presbyter, of tried honesty and piety, well instructed in all the above-named subjects. In respect to an impediment of this sort, however, I will give information by legitimate proofs, to be transmitted by the aforesaid messenger to the cardinal proponent of the holy Roman Church in the Congregation of the Sacred Council. Assuredly the possessions belonging to my table I will not sell, nor give away, nor pledge, nor enfeoff anew, or in any way alienate, even with the consent of the chapter of my Church, without consuling the Roman pontiff. And if I shall make any alienation, I desire by that very act to incur the penalties set forth in a certain constitution published on this subject. So help me God, and these holy Gospels of God." At the solicitation of the bishops in council assembled at Baltimore in 1846, the pope of Rome "consented," according to archbishop Kenrick, "to the omission of the feudal phrases, and sanctioned a simpler formulary to be used by all the bishops in' the United States." Yet a gentleman who was present at the consecration ceremonies of bishop Bailey and others on Oct. 30, 1853, was confident that the longer oath given in the Pontificale Romanum, which he held in his hand at the time, was taken by the bishops elect, and the decrees of the plenary Council of Baltimore in 1866 contain no modification of the oath. It is believed that nothing regarded as essential was omitted then or is omitted now. We give the oath as reported taken by the bishops elect at that date according to the New York Times, Oct. 31, 1853:
"The bishops elect then knelt and severally read the following oath [in Latin]: 'Elect of the Church of N, I will from this hour henceforward be obedient to blessed Peter the apostle, and to the holy Roman Church, and to the blessed father, pope N, and to his successors canonically chosen. I will assist them to retain and defend against any man whatever the Roman pontificate, without prejudice to my rank. I will take care to preserve, defend, and promote the rights, honors, privileges, and authority of the holy Roman Church, of the pope, and of his successors as aforesaid, With my whole strength I will observe, and came to be observed by others, the rules of the holy fathers, the decrees, ordinances, or dispositions, and mandates of the apostolic see. When called to a synod I will come, unless prevented by a canonical impediment. I will perform all the things aforesaid by a certain messenger specially authorized for this purpose, a priest of the diocese, or by some secular or regular priest of tried virtue and piety, well instructed on all the above subjects. I will not sell, nor give away, nor mortgage, enfeoff anew, nor in any way alienate the possessions belonging to my table, without the leave of the Roman pontiff. And should I proceed to any alienation of them, I am willing to contract, by the very fact, the penalties specified in the constitution published on this subject.' The consecrator held the Gospels open on his lap, and received the oath from the bishops elect, who, kneeling, also placed both hands upon the book, and said, 'So may God help me, and these holy Gospels of God.'
"The bishop elect and the assistant bishops now took their seats; and while the consecrator read aloud the examen. [examination] the assistant bishops accompanied his words in a low voice. The concluding questions were answered by the bishops elect. ' It ex toto corde, volo in omnibus consentire et obedire' [Thus from my whole heart I desire in all things to consent and to obey].
"Among the questions in the examination are the following:
"Consec. — 'Wilt thou teach, both by word and example, the people for whom thou art to be ordained those things which thou understandest from the holy Scriptuies?'
"Elect. — ' I will.'
"Qu. — 'Wilt thou with veneration receive, teach, and keep the traditions of the orthodox fathers and the decretal constitutions of the holy and apostolic see ?'
"Ans. — 'I will.'
"Qu. — 'Wilt thou exhibit in all things fidelity, subjection, and obedience, according to canonical authority, to the blessed Peter the apostle, to whom was given by God the power of binding and loosing: and to his vicar, our lord pope Pius IX, and to his successors the Roman pontiffs?'
"Ans. — 'I will.'" The examination having closed, the bishops elect were led to the consecrator, before whom they knelt, and reverently kissed his hand. Monsignor Bedini, laying off his mitre, turned to the altar and commenced the mass, the bishops elect being at his left hand, and the assistant bishops at their seats. See Barnum, Romanism, p. 271, 272. 2