One of my favorite Popes, Papa Lambertini, Pope Benedict XIV, was a great canonist and scholar. Among his many contributions, he established the process for canonization that is still in its major aspects in effect today. I have some great swag for him! HERE
He also issued a rite of Degradatio ab ordine pontificali… Degradation from the order of bishop.
If you thought the movie excommunication in Becket was spiffy, get a load of this. In the Pontificale romanum sanctissimi D.N. Benedicti Papae XIV, jussu editum et auctum of 25 March 1752 find the rite of degradation of all the grades of order, major and minor.
In the presence of secular officials. The praenotanda says that the scraping was to be without the drawing of blood. I suspect that there were slips. Even the tonsure was to be scraped. Eventually all clerical clothes are stripped and he puts on lay clothes. However, if later the sentence was found to be unjust, he is to be given back everything publicly, at the altar. The Degrader is to be vested in amice, alb, cincture, stole and red cope, simple miter, holding his crozier in the left hand. The rite is at the faldstool, versus populum, with the secular judge standing nearby and the rest of the clergy surrounding in their grades. They are to announce to the people in the vernacular what was going on. They then read a Latin decree with pretty stern language “… propter ipsius confessionem, vel legitimas probationes, evidenter invenimus eum ipsum crimen commisisse; quod cum non solum grande, sed etiam damnabile, et damnorum fit, et adeo enorme, quod exinde non tantum divina maiestas offensa….”
The is a stripping of the men of symbols for each and every order, major and minor.
Here is the rite for a bishop or archbishop:
Si degrandandus sit Archiepiscopus, Pontifex degradator aufert ab eo pallium, sic dicendo:
Praerogativa Pontificalis dignitatis, quae in pallio designatur, te exuimus, quia male usus es ea.
If the man to be degraded (Degradandus) is an Archbishop, the Bishop Degrader removes the pallium from him, saying in this way:
We strip you of all pontifical prerogative, which is symbolized in the pallium, because you have used it badly.
Deinde, vel si degradandus sit Episcopus tantum, Pontifex degradator amovet ei mitram, dicendo:
Mitra Pontificalis dignitatis videlicet ornatu, quia eam male praesidendo foedasti, tuum caput denudamus.
Then, if the Degradandus is only a bishop, the Bishop Degrader takes the miter from him, saying:
The miter being the symbolic ornament of pontifical dignity, because you besmirched it badly in presiding, we denude your head.
Deinde unus ex Ministris tradit degradando librum Evangeliorum, quem Pontifex degradator aufert de manibus degradandi, dicens:
Redde Evangelium, quia praedicandi officio, quo spreta Dei gratia te indignum fescisti, te juste privamus.
Then one of the ministers gives to the Degradandus a book of the Gospels, which the Bishop Degrader snatches away from the hands of the Degradandus, saying:
Give back the Gospel, because in the office of preaching, having despised the grace of God you made yourself unworthy and we properly deprive you of it.
Deinde Pontifex degradator amovet annulum de digito degradandi, sic dicens:
Annulum, fidei scilicet signaculum, tibi digne subtrahimus, quia ipsam sponsam Dei Ecclesiam temere violasti.
Then the Degrader Bishop takes away the ring from the finger of the Degradandus, saying thusly:
The ring, namely the sign of fidelity, we worthily withdraw from you, because you thoughtlessly violated your very Spouse, the Church of God.
Tum unus ex Ministris tradit degradando in manus baculum pastoralem, quem mox Pontifex degradator tollit de manibus degradandi, dicens:
Auferimus a te baculum pastoralem, ut inde correctionis officium, quod turbasti, non valeas exercere.
Then one of the ministers gives a crozier into the hands of the the Degradandus, which right away the Bishop Degrader takes from the hands of the Degradandus, saying:
We take from you the pastoral staff, that hence you cannot exercise the office of correction, which you have thrown into confusion.
Deinde extractis sibi per Ministros chirothecis, Pontifex degradator abradit degradando pollices et manus leviter cum cultello, aut vitro, dicens:
Sic spiritualis benedictionis, et delibutionis mysticae gratia, quantum in nobis est, te privamus, ut sanctificandi et benedicendi perdas officium, et effectum.
Then the gloves having been removed by ministers, the Bishop Degrader scrapes the thumbs and hands of the Degradandus lightly with a knife or shard of glass, saying:
Insofar as it is in us, thusly we deprive you of the grace of spiritual blessing (ability to bless), and mystical anointing (ability to anoint), so that you lose the office and effectum of sanctifying and blessing.
Post haec Pontifex cum eodem cultello et vitro abradit leviter caput degradandi, dicens:
Consecrationem, et benedictionem, atque unctionem tibi traditam radendo delemus, et te ab ordine Pontificali, quo inhabilis redditus, abdicamus.
After this the Bishop lightly scrapes the head of the Degradandus with the same knife or shard, saying:
By this scraping, we terminate the consecration and blessing and the anointing given to you, and we reject you from the pontifical order, for you are rendered unfit.
Tum degradando per ministros extrabuntur sandalia.
Then the shoes are taken off of the Degradandus by the ministers.
After all this, there follows the Degradation of a Priest.
Help me out if I have typos, etc. It’s well after midnight and I am rushing in view of a very early Sunday morning rise.
However, make yourself feel a little better by getting some Benedict XIV swag!
In his 1755 document Allatae sunt Benedict, who saw that a terrible practice has slithered in among some Greeks, he in the sternest way forbade “altar girls” and any thought of female deacons.
For this alone, Benedict deserves his very own FR. Z SWAG!
And… wear him with pride!