Papal Coronation Oath

15 02 2009

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I vow to change nothing of the received Tradition, and nothing thereof I have found before me guarded by my God-pleasing predecessors, to encroach upon, to alter, or to permit any innovation therein; To the contrary: with glowing affection as her truly faithful student and successor, to safeguard reverently the passed-on good, with my whole strength and utmost effort; To cleanse all that is in contradiction to the canonical order, should such appear; to guard the Holy Canons and Decrees of our Popes as if they were the divine ordinance of Heaven, because I am conscious of Thee, whose place I take through the Grace of God, whose Vicarship I possess with Thy support, being subject to severest accounting before Thy Divine Tribunal over all that I shall confess; I swear to God Almighty and the Savior Jesus Christ that I will keep whatever has been revealed through Christ and His Successors and whatever the first councils and my predecessors have defined and declared. I will keep without sacrifice to itself the discipline and the rite of the Church. I will put outside the Church whoever dares to go against this oath, may it be somebody else or I. If I should undertake to act in anything of contrary sense, or should permit that it will be executed, Thou willst not be merciful to me on the dreadful Day of Divine Justice. Accordingly, without exclusion, We subject to severest excommunication anyone — be it Ourselves or be it another — who would dare to undertake anything new in contradiction to this constituted evangelic Tradition and the purity of the orthodox Faith and the Christian religion, or would seek to change anything by his opposing efforts, or would agree with those who undertake such a blasphemous venture.

I post this not in order to further throw my hat into the ring of traditionalist conspiracy theorists who seem to think that the last two Popes were invalidly installed since they omitted this oath, but rather to show such an oath as evidence for a different and increasingly lost sense of the nature of authority in the Church. One cannot reduce the truth of Christianity to a mechanism of who can make an authoritative statement; authority lies in paradosis, the fact that the Church passes on wholly and integrally the Faith given to the Apostles. Neither is their a charism to “develop” or “expand upon” it, and even the Pope himself, supposedly not subject to anyone else on earth (prima sedes a nemine judicatur), puts himself under obedience to the decrees of his predecessors and holy Tradition. In other words, authority admits something above itself. The truth of the Gospel is the “being” of the Church, its foundational essence, and as the scholastic adage goes: operatio esse sequitur (act follows from being).
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