Continuing from the last post on the Immaculate Conception, the next in line was the bull Grave Nimis. The contention over the Immaculate Conception was very high - the Dominicans particularly, felt obligated to defend the common opinion that St. Thomas Aquinas had pronounced against it, and consequently, vigorously opposed it (something that continued persistently- even when introduced into their calendar, it was under the name "The Sanctification of the Blessed Virgin Mary". But that'll be covered later) Sixtus IV imposed one of the first of a series of "gag orders" by this bull:
WE bear a burden too onerous and painful, when unfavourable reports are brought to us regarding certain ecclesiastical persons. But in the excesses committed in preaching by those who are deputed to announce the word of God, we are the more provoked at it, in proportion as they remain with greater danger uncorrected, when the errors, which are impressed on the hearts of many by thus preaching publicly in a more diffused and damnable manner, cannot easily be done away with.
And truly, when the holy Roman Church solemnly publicly celebrates a festival concerning the conception of the undefiled and ever-Virgin Mary, and has ordained regarding this a special and peculiar office, some preachers of different orders, as we have heard, in their discourses to the people publicly have hitherto not blushed to affirm, through different states and lands, and cease not daily to preach, that all those who hold or assert, that the same glorious and immaculate mother of God was conceived without the stain of original sin, commit deadly sin, or that they are heretics; that those celebrating the office of the same immaculate conception, and hearing the discourses of those who affirm that she was conceived without such stain, sin grievously.
But not content with the aforesaid preachings, they have published books got up about these their assertions,from whose assertions and preachings no inconsiderable scandals have arisen in the minds of the faithful, and still greater are dreaded to arise every day.
We then, desiring to obviate such rash daring and perverse and scandalous assertions, which may thence arise in the Church of God, as far as is permitted us from on high, of our own proper motion, not at the instance of any petition presented to us on the point, but from our own mere deliberation and certain knowledge, reprobate and condemn by apostolic authority, by the tenor of these presents, such assertions of the same preachers, and of any other persons soever, who presume to affirm that those who believe or hold that the same mother of God was at her conception preserved from the stain of original sin, are for this reason polluted with the stain of any heresy, or committed mortal sin; or that when celebrating such office of the conception, or listening to such discourses, that they incur the guilt of any sin, as being false and erroneous, and utterly foreign from the truth;
And, moreover, in this respect, the aforesaid published books containing such assertion, and by the aforesaid motion, knowledge, and authority, we determine and ordain, that the preachers of the word of God, and any other persons soever, of what state, grade, order, or condition soever they may be, who in future shall presume, by rash daring, to affirm to the people, or in any other way soever, that such assertions, so disapproved and condemned by us, are true, or to read as true the aforesaid books, to hold or to keep them, after they have obtained the knowledge of these presents, incur by the very fact sentence of excommunication, from which they cannot obtain the benefit of absolution from any other person save from the Roman Pontiff, except at the very point of death.
Likewise, by a similar motion, knowledge, and authority, subjecting to the same penalty and censure those who shall presume to assert, holding a contrary opinion, viz. that the glorious Virgin Mary was conceived with original sin, incur the guilt of heresy, or deadly sin, when it was not yet decided by the Roman Church and the Apostolic See; any apostolic constitutions and ordinances soever to the contrary notwithstanding, to which, whether in common or separately, there may exist an indult from the Apostolic See, that they cannot be interdicted, suspended, or excommunicated by apostolic letters, not making full, express, and word for word mention of such indult.
And lest at any time they may be able to allege ignorance with regard to the foregoing, we desire that the requisite ordinaries of the places would deliver, in their discourses to the people, and cause to be published the present letters in the churches situate in their states, and in remarkable places of their dioceses, when a considerable multitude of the people has assembled for divine service. Moreover, because it would be difficult to convey the present letters to the individual places, wherein it might be expedient, we also will and decree, by the aforesaid authority, that a copy of the same letter, drawn up by the hand of a notary-public, and confirmed with the authentic seal of some ecclesiastical prelate, be observed everywhere, as the same original letter would be observed, if it were exhibited or shown.
Be it lawful, therefore, for no person soever to infringe this page of our reprobation, condemnation, statute, ordinance, will, and decree, or by rash attempt to contravene it. But if any one shall presume to attempt it, let him know that he will incur the indignation of Almighty God, and of the blessed apostles Peter and Paul.
Given at Rome, at Saint Peter's, in the year of the incarnation of our Lord 1483, the day before the nones of September, in the thirteenth year of our pontificate.
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