MARCH 19, 1179

On the election of the Supreme Pontiff

Although ordinances have emanated from our predecessors which are clear enough and destined to prevent any discord, nonetheless grave splits often occurred in the Church after these ordinances, due to the audacity of wicked ambition; in order to avoid this evil, we, too, have decided to make some addition to them, by the advice of our brothers and by the approval of the holy Council.

We therefore decree that if, by any chance, full concord could not be achieved in view of constituting a Pontiff, owing to a hostile man sowing tares of discord among the Cardinals, and one-third of them would not be willing to agree with the two other thirds united and concordant, or even would presume to consecrate some other candidate, he shall be regarded as Roman Pontiff who shall be elected and received by two-thirds.

But if any one, relying on the nomination by one-third, shall usurp for himself the episcopal name--for the substance of the episcopal function he can not usurp--he himself and those who shall have received him shall be subject to excommunication and, as further punishment, shall be deprived of the holy order in such a way that the holy Eucharist and even the Viaticum shall be denied to them, except if they are actually dying, and they shall share--unless they return to their senses--the lot of Dathan and Abiron whom the earth engulfed alive.

Moreover, if any one was elected to the Apostolic office by less than two-thirds, he shall by no means be accepted--unless a greater concord is attained--and shall be subject to the aforesaid punishment if he refuses humbly to abstain. This, however, must not engender any prejudice to the canonical ordinances and to other churches, in which the opinion of the greater and sounder part should prevail, so that if any contest occurs in them, it may be decided by judgment of a superior authority. But in the Roman church it is necessary to establish a special rule because from it no recourse to a superior authority can be made.


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