Of One who is Convicted but who hath Fled or who Contumaciously Absents himself.
The Thirteenth and last method of arriving at a definite sentence in a process on behalf of the Faith is used when the person accused of heresy, after a diligent discussion of the merits of the process in consultation with learned lawyers, is found to be convicted of heresy, but has made his escape, or defiantly absents himself after the expiration of a set time. And this happens in three cases.
First, when the accused is convicted of heresy by his own confession, or by the evidence of the facts, or by the legitimate production of witnesses, but has fled, or has absented himself and refused to appear after being legally summoned.
Secondly, when a person has been accused and certain information has been laid against him on account of which he rests under some suspicion, even if it be only a light one, and he has been summoned to answer for his faith; and because he has defiantly refused to appear, he is excommunicated, and has stubbornly remained in that excommunication for a year, and always defiantly absents himself.
The third case is when someone directly obstructs the Bishop’s or Judge’s sentence or process on behalf of the Faith, or lends his help, advice or protection for that purpose, and such a person has been stricken with the sword of excommunication. And if he was obstinately endured that excommunication for a year, he is then to be condemned as a heretic who has defied the administration of justice.
In the first case, such a person is, according to the Canon ad abolendam, to be condemned as an impenitent heretic. In the second and third cases he is not to be judged as an impenitent heretic, but to be condemned as if he were a penitent heretic. And in any of these cases the following procedure should be observed. When such a person has been awaited for sufficient time, let him be summoned by the Bishop and his officer in the Cathedral Church of that Diocese in which he has sinned, and in the other churches of that place where he had his dwelling, and especially from where he has fled; and let him be summoned in the following manner:
We, N., by the mercy of God Bishop of such Diocese, having in our charge the welfare of souls, and having above all the desires of our heart this most earnest desire that in our time in the said Diocese the Church should flourish and that there should be a fruitful and abundant harvest in that vineyard of the Lord of Hosts, which the right hand of the Most High Father has planted in the bosom of the righteous, which the Son of that Father has plentifully watered with His own life-giving Blood, which the reviving Spirit the Paraclete has made fruitful within by His wonderful and ineffable gifts, which the whole incomprehensible and ineffable Blessed Trinity has endowed and enriched with many very great and holy privileges; but the wild boar out of the forest, by which is meant any sort of heretic, has devoured and despoiled it, laying waste the fair fruit of the faith and planting thorny briars among the vines; and that tortuous serpent, the evil enemy of our human race, who is Satan and the devil, has breathed out venom and poisoned the fruit of the vineyard with the plague of heresy: And this is the field of the Lord, the Catholic Church, to till and cultivate which the only first-born Son of God the Father descended from the heights of Heaven, and sowed it with miracles and Holy discourse, going through towns and villages and teaching not without great labour; and He chose as His Apostles honest labouring men, and showed them the way, endowing them with eternal rewards; and the Son of God Himself expects to gather from that field on the Day of the Last Judgement a plentiful harvest, and by the hands of His Holy Angels to store it in His Holy barn in Heaven: But the foxes of Samson, two-faced like them who have fallen into the sin of heresy, having their faces looking both ways but tied together by their burning tails, run about with many torches amidst the fields of the Lord now white unto harvest and shining with the splendour of the faith, and bitterly despoil them, speeding most cunningly here and there, and with their strong attacks burning, dissipating, and decastation, and subtly and damnably subverting the truth of the Holy Catholic Faith.
Wherefore, since you, N., are fallen into the damned heresies of witches, practising them publicly in such place (naming it), and have been by legitimate witnesses convicted of the sin of heresy, or by your own confession received by us in Court; and after your capture you have escaped, refusing the medicine of your salvation: therefore we have summoned you to answer for the said crimes in person before us, but you, led away and seduced by a wicked spirit, have refused to appear.
Or as follows:
Wherefore, since you, N., have been accused before us of the sin of heresy, and from information received against you we have judged that you are under a light suspicion of that sin, we have summoned you to appear personally before us to answer for the Catholic faith. And since, having been summoned, you have defiantly refused to appear, we excommunicated you and caused you to be proclaimed excommunicate. And in this state you have remained stubborn for a year, or so many years, hiding here and there, so that even now we do not know whither the evil spirit has led you; and though we have awaited you kindly and mercifully, that you might return to the bosom and the unity of the Holy Faith, you being wholly given up to evil have scorned to do so. Yet we wish and are bound to justice to conclude this case beyond any question, now can we pass over with connivent eyes your iniquitous crimes.
We the Bishop and Judges in the said cause on behalf of the faith require and strictly command by this our present public edict that you the aforesaid, at present in hiding and runaway and fugitive, shall on such a day of such a month in such a year, in such Cathedral Church of such Diocese, at the hour of Terce appear personally before us to hear your final sentence: signifying that, whether you appear or not, we shall proceed to our definitive sentence against you as law and justice shall require. And that our summons may come to your knowledge beforehand and you may not be able to protect yourself with a plea of ignorance, we wish and command that our said present letters, requisition and summons be publically affixed to the doors of the said Cathedral Church. In witness of all which we have ordered these our present letters to be authorized by the impressions of our seals. Given, etc.
On the appointed day assigned for the hearing of the final sentence, if the fugitive shall have appeared and consented to abjure publicly all heresy, humbly praying to be admitted to mercy, he is to be admitted if he has not been a backslider; and if he was convicted by his own confession or by the legitimate production of witnesses, he shall abjure and repent as a penitent heretic, according to the manner explained in the eighth method of concluding a process on behalf of the faith. If he was gravely suspected, and refused to appear when he was summoned to answer for his faith, and was therefore excommunicated and had endured that excommunication obstinately for a year, but becomes penitent, let him be admitted, and abjure all heresy, in the manner explained in the sixth method of pronouncing sentence. But if he shall appear, and not consent to abjure, let him be delivered as a truly impenitent heretic to the secular Court, as was explained in the tenth method. But if he still defiantly refuses to appear, let the sentence be pronounced in the following manner:
We, N., by the mercy of God Bishop of such city, seeing that you, N., of such a place in such a Diocese were accused before us by public report and the information of worthy men of the sin of heresy: We, whose duty it is, proceeded to examine and inquire whether there was any truth in the report which had come to our ears. And finding that you were convicted of heresy by the depositions of many credible witnesses, we commanded that you be brought before us in custody. (Here let it be said whether he had appeared and been questioned under oath or not.) But afterwards, led away and seduced by the advice of the evil spirit, and fearing to have your wounds wholesomely healed with wine and oil, you fled away (or, if it was the case, You broke from your prison and place of detention and fled away), hiding here and there, and we are altogether ignorant of whither the said evil spirit has led you.
Or after this manner:
And finding that against you, accused as aforesaid before us of the sin of heresy, there were many indications by reason of which we judged you to be lightly suspected of the said heresy, we summoned you by public edict in such and such churches of such Diocese within a certain time assigned to appear in person before to answer to the said charges against you and otherwise on matter concerning the Faith. But you, following some mad advice, obstinately refused to appear. And when, as in justice bound, we excommunicated you and caused you to be publicly proclaimed excommunicate, you stubbornly remained in that excommunication for more than a year, and kept hidden here and there, so that we do not know whither the evil spirit has led you.
And where the Holy Church of God has long awaited you up to this present day in kindness and mercy, that you might fly to the bosom of her mercy, renouncing your errors and professing the Catholic Faith, and be nourished by the bounty of her mercy; but you have refused to consent, persisting in your obstinacy; and since we wished and still wish, as we ought to do and as justice compels us, to bring your case to an equitable conclusion, we have summoned you to appear in person before us on this day at this hour and place, to hear your final sentence. And since you have stubbornly refused to appear, you are manifestly proved to abide permanently in your errors and heresies; and this we say with grief, and grieve in saying it.
But since we cannot and will not delay to do justice, nor may we tolerate so great disobedience and defiance of the Church of God; for the exaltation of the Catholic Faith and the extirpation of vile heresy, at the call of justice, and by reason of your disobedience and obstinacy, on this day and at this hour and place heretofore strictly and precisely assigned to you for the hearing of your final sentence, having diligently and carefully discussed each several circumstance of the process with learned men in the Theological faculty and in the Canon and Civil Laws, sitting in tribunal as Judges judging, having before us the Holy Gospels that our judgement may proceed as from the countenance of God and our eyes see with equity, and having before our eyes only God and the irrefragable truth of the Holy Faith, and following in the footsteps of the Blessed Apostle Paul, in these writings we pronounce final sentence against you, N., absent or present, as follows, invoking the Name of Christ.
We the Bishop and Judges named on behalf of the Faith, whereas the process of this cause on behalf of the Faith has in all things been conducted as the laws require; and whereas you, having been legally summoned, have not appeared, and have not by yourself or any other person excused yourself; and whereas you have for a long time persisted and still obstinately persist in the said heresies, and have endured excommunication in the cause of the Faith for so many years, and still stubbornly endure it; and whereas the Holy Church of God can do no more for you, since you have persisted and intend to persist in your excommunication and said heresies: Therefore, following in the footsteps of the Blessed Apostle Paul, we declare, judge and sentence you, absent or present, to be a stubborn heretic, and as such to be abandoned to secular justice. And by this our definitive sentence we drive you from the ecclesiastical Court, and abandon you to the power of the secular Court; earnestly praying the said Court that, if ever it should have you in its power, it will moderate its sentence of death against you. This sentence was give, etc.
Here it is to be considered that, if that stubborn fugitive had been convicted of heresy, either by his own confession or by credible witnesses, and had fled before his abjuration, he is by the sentence to be judged an impenitent heretic, and so it must be expressed in the sentence. But if, on the other hand, he had not been convicted, but had been summoned as one under suspicion to answer for his faith; and, because he has refused to appear, has been excommunicated, and has obstinately endured that excommunication for more than a year, and has finally refused to appear; then he is not to be judged a heretic, but as a heretic, and must be condemned as such; and so it must be expressed in the sentence,as it is said above.