Summis desiderantes

From Academic Kids

Summis desiderantes affectibus is a papal bull issued on December 5, 1484 by Pope Innocent VIII. It condemned an alleged outbreak of witchcraft and heresy in the region of the Rhine River valley, and deputized Heinrich Kramer and Jacob Sprenger, authors of the Malleus maleficarum, as inquisitors to root out alleged witchcraft in Germany.

Since this papal bull led to one of the severest witchhunts in European history, a brief summary may be in order:

"Desiring... that the catholic faith... grow and flourish as much as possible, and that all heretical depravity be put far from the territories of the faithful, we... decree this... It has recently come to our ears ... that in some parts of upper Germany, as... Mainz, Koln, Trier, Salzburg, and Bremen, many persons of both sexes, ... forsaking the catholic faith... give themselves over to devils male and female, and by their incantations, charms, and conjurings, and by other abominable superstitions and sortileges... ruin and cause to perish the offspring of women, the foal of animals, the products of the earth... as well as men and women, cattle and flocks and herds... vineyards also and orchards... that they afflict and torture with dire pains and anguish, both internal and external, these men, women, cattle, flocks, herds, and animals, and hinder men from begetting and women from conceiving, and prevent all consummation of marriage; that, moreover, they deny... the faith they received in holy baptism... and perpetrate many other abominable offences and crimes... to the pernicious example and scandal of multitudes.
"And, although our beloved sons Henricus Institoris and Jacobus Sprenger, of the order of Friars Preachers, professors of theology, have been... deputed by our apostolic letters as inquisitors of heretical pravity, the former in the aforesaid parts of upper Germany... and the latter throughout certain parts of the course of the Rhine; nevertheless certain of the clergy and of the laity of those parts... because in the said letter of deputation the aforesaid provinces... and the persons and offences in question were not individually and specifically named... assert that these are not at all included... and that therefore it is illicit for the aforesaid inquisitors to exercise their office of inquisition in the provinces, cities, dioceses, territories, and other places aforesaid, and that they ought not to be permitted to proceed to the punishment, imprisonment, and correction of the aforesaid persons for the offences and crimes above named.
"Wherefore in the provinces... such offences and crimes... go unpunished. We therefore,... to remove all impediments by which in any way the said inquisitors are hindered... and to prevent the taint of heretical pravity and of other like evils from spreading their infection to the ruin of others who are innocent... do hereby decree, by virtue of our apostolic authority, that it shall be permitted to the said inquisitors in these regions to exercise their office of inquisition and to proceed to the correction, imprisonment, and punishment of the aforesaid persons for their said offences and crimes, in all respects and altogether precisely as if the provinces, cities, territories, places, persons, and offences aforesaid were expressly named in the said letter.
"And, for the greater sureness, ... we grant to the said inquisitors... joining with them our beloved son Johannes Gremper, cleric of the diocese of Constance, master of arts, their present notary, or any other notary public... temporarily delegated... may exercise against all persons, of whatsoever condition and rank, the said office of inquisition, correcting, imprisoning, punishing and chastising, according to their deserts, those persons whom they shall find guilty as aforesaid.
"And they shall also have full and entire liberty to propound and preach to the faithful word of God, as often as it shall seem to them fitting and proper, in each and all of the parish churches in the said provinces, and to do all things necessary and suitable under the aforesaid circumstances...
"And moreover we enjoin ... the Bishop of Strassbourg, that ... he permit [these inquisitors] not to be molested or hindered in any manner whatsoever.... they may be, with excommunication, suspension, interdict and still other more terrible sentences, censures, and penalties.
"Let no man, therefore, dare to infringe... our declaration... If any presume this, let him know that he incurs the wrath of almighty God and of the blessed apostles Peter and Paul."

The full text, translated into English (, from Innocent VIII's Papal Bull can be found at Wikisource.cs:Summis desiderantes affectibus sv:Summis desiderantes de:Summis desiderantes


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