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Tuesday, April 19, 2016

Abjuration of Heresy

Abjuration of Heresy


This is required in the canon law as a preliminary to baptism, or, when there is no question of that (as in the case of converts from the Eastern Church), before the convert makes his confession of faith. There are decrees of several councils to this effect: thus the Council of Laodicea (about 364) ordains that Novatian and Photinian heretics, "whether they be baptised persons or catecumens, shall not be received before they have anathematized all heresies, especially that in which they were held. A celebrated instance of abjuration is that of Clovis (496), to whom St. Remy said before baptizing him, "Meekly bow down thy head, Sicambrian; adore what thou hast burnt, and burn what thou hast adored." An early German council requires the Saxon converts to renounce belief in "Thor and Woden and Saxon Odin" before being received into the Church.

Ferraris sums up the canonical requirements in the matter of abjuration as follows:--that it should be done without delay; that it should be voluntary; that it should be done with whatever degree of publicity the bishop of the place might think necessary; and that the abjuring person should make condign satisfaction in the form of penance.

The modern discipline insists mainly on the positive part, the profession of the true faith. Thus in the Ritual of Strasburg (1742) the abjuration required is merely general: "Is it your firm purpose to renounce in heart and mind all the errors which it [the Catholic religion] condemns?" In English-speaking countries the abjuration is, so to speak, taken for granted in ordinary cases, since converts are not. admitted into the Church except after suitable instruction, and the Creed of Pope Pius IV., which everyone desiring to become a Catholic must read and accept, expressly denounces most of those errors which in fect the religious atmosphere of this country.




The Profession of Faith of the Council of Trent
[From the Bull of Pius IV, "Iniunctum nobis," Nov. 13, 1565]


I, N., with firm faith believe and profess all and everything which is contained in the creed of faith, which the holy Roman Church uses, namely: I believe in one God the Father Almighty, creator of heaven and earth, of all things visible and invisible; and in one Lord Jesus Christ, the only-begotten Son of God, and born of the Father before all ages, God of God, light of light, true God of true God, begotten not made, consubstantial with the Father, by whom all things were made; who for us men and for our salvation descended from heaven, and became incarnate by the Holy Spirit of the Virgin Mary, and was made man; he was also crucified for us under Pontius Pilate, suffered and was buried; and he rose on the third day according to the Scriptures, and ascended into heaven; he sitteth at the right hand of the Father, and will come again with glory to judge the living and the dead, of whose kingdom there shall be no end; and in the Holy Spirit, the Lord and giver of life, who proceeds from the Father and the Son; who together with the Father and the Son is adored and glorified; who spoke through the prophets; and in one holy Catholic and apostolic Church. I confess one baptism for the remission of sins, and I await the resurrection of the dead, and the life of the world to come. Amen. The apostolic and ecclesiastical traditions and all other observances and constitutions of that same Church I most firmly admit and embrace. I likewise accept Holy Scripture according to that sense which our holy Mother Church has held and does hold, whose [office] it is to judge of the true meaning and interpretation of the Sacred Scriptures; I shall never accept nor interpret it otherwise than in accordance with the unanimous consent of the Fathers.

I also profess that there are truly and properly seven sacraments of the New Law instituted by Jesus Christ our Lord, and necessary for the salvation of mankind, although not all are necessary for each individual; these sacraments are baptism, confirmation, the Eucharist, penance, extreme unction, order, and matrimony; and [I profess] that they confer grace, and that of these baptism, confirmation, and order cannot be repeated without sacrilege. I also receive and admit the accepted and approved rites of the Catholic Church in the solemn administration of all the aforesaid sacraments. I embrace and accept each and everything that has been defined and declared by the holy Synod of Trent concerning original sin and justification. I also profess that in the Mass there is offered to God a true, proper sacrifice of propitiation for the living and the dead, and that in the most holy sacrament of the Eucharist there is truly, really, and substantially present the body and blood together with the soul and the divinity of our Lord Jesus Christ, and that there takes place a conversion of the whole substance of bread into the body, and of the whole substance of the wine into the blood; and this conversion the Catholic Church calls transubstan-tiation. I also acknowledge that under one species alone the whole and entire Christ and the true sacrament are taken.

I steadfastly hold that a purgatory exists, and that the souls there detained are aided by the prayers of the faithful; likewise that the saints reigning together with Christ should be venerated and invoked, and that they offer prayers to God for us, and that their relics should be venerated. I firmly assert that the images of Christ and of the Mother of God ever Virgin, and also of the other saints should be kept and retained, and that due honor and veneration should be paid to them; I also affirm that the power of indulgences has been left in the Church by Christ, and that the use of them is especially salutary for the Christian people.

I acknowledge the holy Catholic and apostolic Roman Church as the mother and teacher of all churches; and to the Roman Pontiff, the successor of the blessed Peter, chief of the Apostles and vicar of Jesus Christ, I promise and swear true obedience.

Also all other things taught, defined, and declared by the sacred canons and ecumenical Councils, and especially by the sacred and holy Synod of Trent, (and by the ecumenical Council of the Vatican,1 particularly concerning the primacy of the Roman Pontiff and his infallible teaching), I without hesitation accept and profess; and at the same time all things contrary thereto, and whatever heresies have been condemned, and rejected, and anathematized by the Church, I likewise condemn, reject, and anathematize. This true Catholic faith, outside of which no one can be saved, (and) which of my own accord I now profess and truly hold, I, N., do promise, vow, and swear that I will, with the help of God, most faithfully retain and profess the same to the last breath of life as pure and inviolable, and that I will take care as far as lies in my power that it be held, taught, and preached by my subjects or by those over whom by virtue of my office I have charge, so help me God, and these holy Gospels of God. 

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