Oxford, Councils of
Oxford, Councils of (CONCILIA OXONIENSIA), were frequently held in the Middle Ages. Of these the most important are:
(1) Convened in 1160, in which more than thirty Vaudois or Publicani, who had lately come over into England, headed by one Gerard, and who denied baptism, the Eucharist, and marriage, and who set at naught the authority of the Church, were condemned, and given over to the secular arm, upon which they were sentenced to be branded in the forehead, and publicly flogged out of the city, and were forbidden to remain in that neighborhood. They appear to have made but one convert, a woman, who soon returned into the Church. See Labbe, Comm. 10:1404; Wilkins, Conc. i, 438.
(2) King John, on his return from abroad, assembled a large number of his clergy and barons. first at London, and subsequently at Oxford, demanding a certain portion of the ecclesiastical revenues, but this was unanimously. refused (Wilkins, Conc. i, 515).
(3) Was held at the monastery of Osney, near Oxford, on the 11th of June, by Stephen Langton, archbishop of Canterbury and cardinal legate, who presided. This was a council of all England, and fifty canons were published in conformity with those of the Council of Lateran of 1215:
1. Excommunicates generally all who encroach upon the rights of the Church, disturb the public peace, etc.
2. Directs that bishops shall retain about them wise and charitable almoners, and attend to the petitions of the poor; that they shall also at times themselves hear and make confessions; that they shall reside at their cathedrals, etc.
3. Forbids bishops, archdeacons, and deans to take anything for collations or institutions to benefices.
6. Orders the celebration of the nocturnal and diurnal office, and of all the sacraments, especially those of baptism and of the altar.
7. Forbids priests to say mass more than once in the same day, except at Christmas and Easter, and when there was a corpse to be buried.
10. Orders curates to preach often, and to attend to the sick.
11. Directs that the ornaments and vessels of the church be properly kept, and that in every church there shall be a silver chalice and a clean white linen cloth for, the altar; also that old corporals be burned, etc.
12. Forbids any one to resign his benefice, retaining the vicarage, to prevent suspicion of unlawful bargain.
13. Forbids to divide benefices in order to provide for several persons.
15. Orders churches not worth more than five marks a year to be given to none but such as will reside and minister in them.
16. Assigns to the perpetual vicar a stipend not less than five marks, except in Wales, "where vicars are content with less by reason of the poverty of the churches." Orders that the diocesan shall decide whether the parson or vicar shall bear the charges of the church.
17. Orders that in large parishes there shall be two or three priests.
18. Directs that the bishop shall make the person presented to a living take an oath that he has neither given nor promised anything to the patron.
19. Provides that in each archdeaconry confessors shall be appointed for the rural deans and others of the clergy who may be unwilling to confess to the bishop.
20. Takes from the rural. deans the cognizance of matrimonial causes.
21. Forbids, under anathema, to harbor thieves, etc.
22 and 23. Relate to archidiaconal visitations. Forbid those dignitaries to burden the clergy whom they visit with many horses, to invite strangers to the procurations provided for them, or to, extort procurations without reasonable cause.
24. Forbids to let out to farm archdeaconries, deaneries, etc.
25. Orders the archdeacons to take care in their visitations that .the canon of the mass be correct; that the priest can rightly pronounce the words of the canon and of baptism; that laymen be taught how to baptize rightly in case of necessity; and that the host, chrism, and holy oil be kept under lock and key, etc.
26. Forbids bishops, archdeacons, and their officers to pass sentence without first giving the canonical monitions.
27. Forbids to exact any fee for burials and the administration of the holy sacraments.
30. Orders ecclesiastics to wear decent habits with close copes, to observe the tonsure, to keep their hair cut short, and to abstain from immoderate eating and drinking.
31. Forbids clergymen in holy orders publicly to keep concubines.
34. Forbids the clergy to spend their ecclesiastical revenues in building houses on lay fees for their sons, nephews, or concubines.
36. Forbids the nuns to wear veils of silk, to use pins of silver and gold, and to wear girdles worked and embroidered, and long trains.
41. Forbids to give to a person already provided with a benefice, having cure of souls, any revenue out of another church.
42 and 43. Order monks to live in common, and forbid them to receive any one into their community under eighteen years of age.
44. Orders monks to give away to the poor what remains of their repasts.
45. Forbids monks to make. wills.
47. Forbids monks and canons regular to eat and drink save at the: appointed hours; permits them to quench their thirst in the refectory, but not to indulge.
In the Oxford copy of these constitutions two others are added relating to the Jews. See Johnson, Eccl. Canons; Conc. 11:270; Wilkins, Conc. i, 585.
(4) Convened in 1322, by Walter Reynolds, archbishop of Canterbury, in which ten constitutions were published:
1. Relates to the conferring of holy orders. Directs that all- candidates shall be examined previously; enumerates those cases in which holy orders shall be refused. Also forbids to admit clerks ordained in Ireland, Wales, and Scotland to officiate without letters dismissory or commendatory from their ordinaries. Orders that monks shall be ordained by their own diocesan.
2. Directs priests to exhort their people to be confirmed, and adults to confess before confirmation. Orders that children on the third day after confirmation be carried to church, that their foreheads may be washed in the baptistery by the priest's hand, in honor of the chrism. Prescribes caution against children receiving confirmation twice.
3. Relates to extreme unction, and appeals to St. James (Jas 5:14-15) in proof of its necessity.
4. Orders rectors and priests to be careful of their altars, to keep the holy Eucharist in a clean pyx of silver or ivory, or other befitting material, to renew the consecrated host weekly, to carry it to the sick with reverence, a light going before, etc.
5. Orders that the linen furniture of the altar be kept whole and clean, that the words of the canon be fully and exactly pronounced, and with the greatest devotion. Forbids a priest to celebrate mass till he has finished 7matins, prime, and undern. Directs that two candles, or one at least, be lighted at high mass.
6. Relates to the duty of archdeacons in visitation.
7. Relates to marriage.
8. Relates to penance. Orders the priest to consider carefully the particular circumstances of each sin, to receive confessions, especially those of women, in some open place; to consult the bishop, or some discreet men, in doubtful cases, and to be careful not to make the penitents implicate other persons by name in their confessions.
9. Forbids a priest in a state of mortal sin to celebrate before confession. Forbids to reveal confession in any way, directly or indirectly; orders that a priest convicted of doing so shall be degraded without hope of reconciliation.
10. Orders the appointment of a fit priest in every deanery to receive the confession of the clergy.
See Johnson, Eccl. Canons; Wilkids, Conc. i, 512.
(5) Held in 1408, by Thomas Arundel, archbishop of Canterbury, against the Lollards. Ten constitutions Were published at this council, and sanctioned in one held afterwards in London:
1. Forbids any one to preach without being first examined and allowed by the diocesan. Also forbids men suspended for preaching erroneous doctrine to preach within the province until they be restored by the ordinary who suspended them. Sentences all violators of this statute to excommunication. Declares that any preacher who shall a second time, in any way, intimate that the Church has not power to make such ordinances by her prelates shall be sentenced to excommunication; and all Christian people forbidden to hold any communication with him under pain of excommunication. Further declares that when lawfully convicted of so doing, such offenders shall be declared heretics by the ordinary, and incur all the penalties of heresy, and their aiders and abettors also, unless they desist within a month from the date of their admonition.
2. Forbids the clergy aid people of any parish to allow any one to preach unless full assurance be first given of his being authorized, privileged, or sent according to the form specified in Constitution I. Orders that the church, churchyard, or other place where unauthorized preachers hive been pernitted to hold forth, shall be put under an interdict. Orders, further, that authorized preachers shall suit their discourses to the circumstances-of their hearers.
3. Excommunicates, ipso facto, all who preach or say anything contrary to the teaching of the Church concerning the sacraments, or any point of faith; declares that such offenders shall not be absolved (except at the point of death), unless they abjure their errors and do penance. Orders that persons who do so a second time shall be formally denounced as heretics, and subject to confiscation of their goods. With regard to the penance to be performed, it is declared that the offender shall expressly recant the things he has preached, taught, or affirmed in the parish church in which he did so, upon some one or more Lord's-days or holy days at high mass.
4. Forbids, schoolmasters and other teachers to instruct their pupils in the sacraments and other theological points contrary to the determination of the Church, and enjoins them not to permit their scholars to dispute publicly or privately upon such subjects.
5. Forbids to read any book composed by John Wickliffe, or any other in his time or since, in any schools, halls, inns, or other places whatsoever within the province, unless it have been first examined and unanimously approved by the universities of Oxford or Cambridge.
6. Declares, upon the authority of St. Jerome, that the translation of the text of holy Scripture is a dangerous thing, because it is not easy to make the sense in all respects the same; enacts that no one shall henceforth, by his own authority, translate any text of Scripture into English; and that no part of any such book or treatise lately composed in the time of John Wickliffe shall be read in public or private, under pain of excommunication.
7. Forbids any one, under pain of being publicly denounced excommunicate, to propose or assert any propositions which carry a sound contrary to the Catholic faith or good morals.
8. Forbids all disputing, either in public or private, concerning things determined by the Church, unless it be in order to get at the true meaning. Forbids, also, to call in question the authority of Church decisions, or to preach anything contrary to them, especially concerning the adoration of the cross, the veneration of the images of the saints, and pilgrimages to holy places and relics, or against taking oaths in judicial matters. Orders all preachers to encourage these things, as fell as processions, genuflections, bowinegs, incensings, kissings, olhations, pilgrimages, illuminations, and the making of oaths in a lawful manner by touching God's holy Gospels. Offenders to incur the penalty of heresy.
9. Orders that none be admitted to serve as chaplain in any diocese within the province who was not born or ordained there, unless he bring with him letters from his diocesan.
10. Declares the University of Oxford to be infected with new unprofitable doctrines, and blemished with the new damnable brand of Lollardy, to the great scandal of the university at home and abroad, and to the seemingly irreparable injury of the Church of England, which used to be defended by her virtue and learning; that therefore, upon the petition of the proctors of the whole clergy of the province, and with the consent of all the prelates present in the convocation, it is enacted that every head of a college or hall in the university shall, at least once a month, make diligent inquiry whether any scholar or inhabitant hath asserted or held any position carrying a sound contrary to the Catholic faith and sound morals; and if he find any such, that he shall effectually admonish him; and that any such person so admonished advancing the same proposition shall be ipso facto excommunicated and otherwise punished. Orders that if the offender be a scholar, he shall be disqualified for his degree; if a doctor, M.A., or B.A., he shall be suspended from all scholastic acts, lose all his rights in his college, and be actually expelled, and a Catholic put into his place. Declares that if any head of a house shall neglect, within ten days after the publication of these constitutions, to execute the above regulations against any offender in their college, he shall himself be ipso facto
excommunicated and deprived of his office, and the college considered to be void, and a new head appointed. Enacts the same penalties against a head of a college suspected of heresy, who, after admonition from the ordinary, does not reform; and, further, declares him to be for three years incapable of holding any benefice within the province. Lastly, it treats of the manner of proceeding against suspected persons.
See Johnson, Eccles. Canons; Labbe, Conc. 11, 2089; Wilkins, Conc. iii, 314.