Source Book and Bibliographical Guide for American Church History

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Religion

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I. PAPAL ESTABLISHMENT OF THE SEE OF BALTIMORE (November 6, 1789)

"Pius Pope VI. For the Perpetual Memory of the Fact

When from the eminence of our apostolical station, we bend our attention to the different regions of the earth, in order to fulfil, to the utmost extent of our power, the duty which our Lord has imposed upon our unworthiness of ruling and feeding his flock; our care and solicitude are particularly engaged that the faithful of Christ, who, dispersed through various provinces, are united with us by Catholic communion, may be governed by their proper pastors, and diligently instructed by them in the discipline of evangelical life and doctrine. . . . Wherefore, it having reached our ears that in the flourishing commonwealth of the Thirteen American States many faithful Christians united in communion with the chair of Peter, in which the centre of Cathoolic unity is fixed, and governed in their spiritual concerns by their own priests having care of souls, earnestly desire that a Bishop may be appointed over them to exercise the functions of episcopal order; to feed them more largely with the food of salutary doctrine, and to guard more carefully that portion of the Catholic flock.

We willingly embrace this opportunity which the grace of Almighty God has afforded us to provide those distant regions with the comfort and ministry of a Catholic Bishop. And that this be effected more successfully, and according to the rules of the sacred canons, We commissioned our venerable Brethren the Cardinals of the holy Roman Church, directors of the Congregation ’de propaganda fide,’ to manage this business with the greatest care, and to make a report to us. It was therefore appointed by their decree, approved by us, and published the twelfth day of July of the last year, that the priests who lawfully exercise the sacred ministry and have care of souls in the United States of America, should be empowered to advise together and to determine, first, in what town the episcopal see ought to be erected, and next, who of the aforesaid priests appeared the most worthy and proper to be promoted to this important charge, whom We, for the first time only, and by special grace permitted the said priests to elect and to present to this apostolic See. In obedience to this decree the aforesaid priests exercising the care of souls in the United States of America, unanimously agreed that a bishop with ordinary jurisdiction, ought to be established in the town of Baltimore, because this town situate in Maryland, which province the greater part of the priests and of the faithful inhabit, appeared the most conveniently placed for intercourse with the other States, and because from this province Catholic religion and faith had been propagated into the others. And at the time appointed for the election, they being assembled together, the sacrifice of holy Mass, being celebrated, and the grace and assistance of the Holy Ghost being implored, the votes of all present were taken, and of twenty-six priests who were assembled twenty-four gave their votes for our beloved son, John Carroll, whom they judged the most proper to support the burden of episcopacy, and sent an authentic instrument of the whole transaction to the aforesaid Congregation of Cardinals. Now all things being materially weighed and considered in this Congregation, it was easily agreed that the interests and increase of Catholic religion would be greatly promoted if an episcopal see were erected at Baltimore, and the said John Carroll were appointed the Bishop of it. We, therefore, to whom this opinion has been reported by our beloved son, Cardinal Antonelli, Prefect of the said Congregation, having nothing more at heart than to ensure success to whatever tends to the propagation of true religion, and to the honor and increase of the Catholic Church, by the plentitude of our apostolical power, and by the tenor of these presents, do establish and erect the aforesaid town of Baltimore into an episcopal see forever, for one Bishop to be chosen by us in all future vacancies; and We, therefore, by the apostolical authority aforesaid, do allow, grant and permit to the Bishop of the said city and to his successors in all future times, to exercise episcopal power and jurisdiction, and every other episcopal function which Bishops constituted in other places are empowered to hold and enjoy in their respective churches, cities and dioceses, by right, custom, or by other means, by general privileges, graces, indults and apostolical dispensations, together with all pre-eminences, honors, immunities, graces and favors, which other Cathedral Churches, by right or custom, or in any other sort, have, hold and enjoy. We moreover decree and declare the said Episcopal see thus erected to be subject or suffragan to no Metropolitan right or jurisdiction, but to be forever subject, immediately to us and to our successors the Roman Pontiffs, and to this Apostolical See. And till another opportunity shall be presented to us of establishing other Catholic Bishops in the United States of America, and till other dispositions shall be made by this apostolical See, We declare, by our apostolical authority, all the faithful of Christ, living in Catholic communion, as well ecclesiastics as seculars, and all the clergy and people dwelling in the aforesaid United States of America, though hitherto they may have been subject to other Bishops of other dioceses, to be henceforward subject to the Bishop of Baltimore in all future times; And whereas by special grant, and for this first time only, we have allowed the priests exercising the care of souls in the United States of America, to elect a person to be appointed Bishop by us, and almost all their votes have been given to our beloved Son, John Carroll, Priest; We being otherwise certified of his faith, prudence, piety and zeal, forasmuch as by our mandate he hath during the late years directed the spiritual government of souls, do therefore by the plenitude of our authority, declare, create, appoint and constitute the said John Carroll, Bishop and Pastor of the said Church of Baltimore, granting to him the faculty of receiving the rite of consecration from any Catholic bishop holding communion with the apostolical see, assisted by two ecclesiasics, vested with some dignity, in case that two bishops cannot be had, first having taken the usual oath according to the Roman Pontifical.

And we commission the said Bishop to erect a church in the said city of Baltimore, in form of a Cathedral Church, inasmuch as the times and circumstances may allow, to institute a body of clergy deputed to divine worship, and to the service of said church, and moreover to establish an episcopal seminary, either in the same city or elsewhere, as he shall judge most expedient, to administer ecclesiastical incomes, and to execute all other things which he shall think in the Lord to be expedient for the increase of Catholic faith and the augmentation of the worship and splendor of the new erected church. . . .

Given at Rome at St. Mary Major, under the Fisherman’s Ring, the 6th day of November, 1789, and in the fifteenth year of our Pontificate.

R. Card. Braschi Onesti."

Text—Shea: History of the Catholic Church . . ., Vol. II, pp. 337–343.

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Chicago: "Pius Pope VI. For the Perpetual Memory of the Fact," Source Book and Bibliographical Guide for American Church History in Source Book and Bibliographical Guide for American Church History 449–451. Original Sources, accessed September 25, 2018, http://www.originalsources.com/Document.aspx?DocID=DD4UEUSJCJV63NI.

MLA: . ""Pius Pope VI. For the Perpetual Memory of the Fact." Source Book and Bibliographical Guide for American Church History, in Source Book and Bibliographical Guide for American Church History, pp. 449–451. Original Sources. 25 Sep. 2018. www.originalsources.com/Document.aspx?DocID=DD4UEUSJCJV63NI.

Harvard: , '"Pius Pope VI. For the Perpetual Memory of the Fact' in Source Book and Bibliographical Guide for American Church History. cited in , Source Book and Bibliographical Guide for American Church History, pp.449–451. Original Sources, retrieved 25 September 2018, from http://www.originalsources.com/Document.aspx?DocID=DD4UEUSJCJV63NI.