POPE INNOCENT X’S DENUNCIATION OF THE PEACE OF WESTPHALIA (1648)

 

[As head of the Church, Pope Innocent X promptly declared null and void all the articles in the treaties of Westphalia relating to religious matters.]

 

Consumed by zeal for the house of the Lord, we are especially concerned with the endeavor everywhere to main­tain the integrity of the orthodox faith and the authority of the Catholic Church, so that the ecclesiastical rights of which we have been appointed guardian by our Saviour shall not in any way be impaired by those who seek their own interest rather than God's, and that we may not be accused of negligence when we shall render account to the Sovereign Judge. Accordingly it is not without deep pain that we have learned that by several articles in the peace concluded at Osnabruck, August 6, 1648, between our very dear son in Christ, Ferdinand, king of the Romans and emperor elect, his allies and adherents, on the one hand, and the Swedes, with their allies and adherents, on the other, as well as in that peace which was likewise concluded at Munster in Westphalia on the twenty-fourth day of October of this same year 1648, between the same Ferdinand, king of the Romans, etc., and our very dear son in Jesus Christ, Louis, the very Christian king of the French, his allies and adherents, great prejudice has been done to the Cath­olic religion, the divine service, the Roman apostolic see, the ecclesiastical order, their jurisdictions, authority, im­munities, liberties, exemptions, privileges, possessions, and rights; since by various articles in one of these treaties of peace the ecclesiastical possessions which the heretics form­erly seized are abandoned to them and to their successors, and the heretics, called those of the Augsburg Confession, are permitted the free exercise of their heresy in various districts. They are promised places in which they may build temples for their worship and are admitted with the Catholics to public offices and positions. . . .

 

The number seven of the electors of the empire, formerly ratified by the apostolic authority, is increased without our consent or that of the said see, and an eighth electorate has been erected in favor of Charles Louis, count of the Rhenish palatinate, a heretic. Many other things have been done too shameful to enumerate and very prejudicial to the orthodox religion and the Roman see. . . .

 

[Accordingly] we assert and declare by these presents that all the said articles in one or both of the said treaties which in any way impair or prejudice in the slightest degree, or that can be said, alleged, understood, or imagined to be able in any way to injure or to have injured the Catholic religion, divine worship, the salvation of souls, the said Roman apostolic see, the inferior churches, the ecclesiasti­cal order or estate, their persons, affairs, possessions, juris­dictions, authorities, immunities, liberties, privileges, pre­rogatives, and rights whatsoever, - all such provisions have been, and are of right, and shall perpetually be, null and void, invalid, iniquitous, unjust, condemned, rejected, frivolous, without force or effect, and no one is to observe them, even when they be ratified by oath. . . .

 

Given at Rome in Santa Maria Maggiore, under seal of the fisherman's ring, November 26th of the year 1648, and of our pontificate the fifth.