270. BISHOP BONNER COMMANDS UNIVERSAL RECONCILIATION.
The same month, the nineteenth day, was a certain intimation set forth and printed in the name of Bonner, wherein was contained a general monition, and strait charge given to every man and woman within his diocese, to prepare themselves against Lent then near approaching, to receive the glad tidings of peace and reconciliation sent from the Pope Julius the Third, by Pole his cardinal and legate de latere, and so receive also the joyful benefit of absolution, being sent first from the cardinal to Bonner, and from him to every of his archdeacons, to be ministered to every private person within his diocese, that would come the said holy time of Lent to his pastor or curate to be confessed, and to receive of him wholesome counsel, penance, and absolution. Signifying moreover, that as he was authorized by the foresaid cardinal, so he, for the same purpose, had endued with the like authority all and singular pastors and curates within his diocese, to reconcile and assoil from their former heresy and schism, and from the censures of the church, such as would resort unto them. And lest any scruple or doubt, rising peradventure in their consciences, should be any stay or let in this behalf, he had assigned and deputed therefore through his diocese certain learned men, to whom they might resort, or else might open their griefs to any of his archdeacons, or else come to his own person, and so should be resolved.
And therefore all manner of doubts and obstaclesset aside, he straitly willed and commanded every man and woman to come to confession, and to enjoy this benefit of reconciliation, and absolution, against the first Sunday next after Easter ensuing; and not to fail. For the which purpose he had specially commanded the pastors and curates of every parish to certify up in writing the names of every man and woman so reconciled, and so forth: the copy of which intimation hereunder followeth.
"Edmund, by the permission of God bishop of London, unto all and singular the lay-people of his diocese, doth send greeting in our Saviour Jesus Christ.
"Whereas this noble realm of England, dividing itself from the unity of the catholic church, and from the agreement in religion with all other Christian realms, hath been, besides many other miseries and plagues which God's indignation hath poured upon it, grievously also vexed and sore infected with many and sundry sorts of sects of heretics, as Arians, Anabaptists, Libertines, Zuinglians, Lutherans, and many others, all which sects be most repugnant, and contrary one against another, and all against God's truth, and Christ's catholic faith; whereupon hath grown such slander to the realm, such malice and disagreement among ourselves the inhabitants thereof, such treasons, tumults, and insurrections against our prince, such blasphemy and dishonour unto God, as no man's tongue or pen is able to express: it hath pleased the goodness of God to cast his eye of mercy and clemency upon us, and to move the pope's Holiness to send his most godly messenger, the most reverend father in God the lord cardinal Pole, legate de latere, to bring us the glad tidings of peace and reconciliation, and to reduce and bring home unto the fold the lost sheep that were gone astray: whose message, as it hath been honourably received of the king and queen's Majesties, even so the lords spiritual and temporal, and commons, at the last parliament have received it; revoking all the laws the which in the time of schism were promulgate against the authority of the pope's Holiness, and restoring the same and the Church of Rome to all that power which they had in this realm before the said schism, the which reconciliation was also most gladly and joyfully embraced, as well of all the clergy and convocation of the province of Canterbury, as also of many other persons -- and being so great and necessary to be extended to every person of the realm, it hath pleased the said lord legate's Grace to give and impart unto me, the said bishop of London, for my said diocese, and to all such as I shall appoint in that behalf, power and authority to absolve and reconcile all and every person thereof, as well of the clergy as of the laity, and as well men as women, the which will renounce their errors, and (being penitent) will humbly require to be restored to the unity of the catholic church,-- as by the letters of the said lord legate's Grace sent unto me, and from me sent unto every of the archdeacons within my diocese, more at large may and doth appear.
"And forasmuch as in mine own person, as well for the multitude of people as distance of places, I cannot minister this benefit unto every private person myself, and for that also the holy time of Lent is now at hand, in which every true Christian man ought to come unto his own pastor and curate, to be of him confessed, and to receive at his hand wholesome counsel, penance, and absolution: these are therefore as well to give knowledge unto every one of you, as also to signify and declare, that for that purpose, I have by the said authority chosen, named, and deputed, and so by these presents do choose, name, and depute, all and singular pastors and curates having cure of souls within my diocese, and being themselves reconciled herein; that they and every of them by authority hereof, shall have full power and authority to absolve all such as be lay-persons of their parishes from heresy and schism, and from the censures of the church, into which they be fallen by occasion thereof, and also to reconcile to the church all such which shall declare themselves penitent, and desirous to enjoy the benefit of the said reconciliation.
"And whereas divers pastors and curates in sundry parishes peradventure be not able to satisfy the minds, and to appease the consciences, of some of their parishioners in cases that shall trouble them, I have therefore given also authority to every archdeacon of my diocese within his archdeaconry, to name and appoint certain of the best learned in every deanery of their archdeaconry, to supply that lack; so that every man so troubled may repair to any one of them within the said deanery whom he shall like best, to be instructed and appeased in that behalf. And also I have appointed, that if, this being done, there shall yet remain any scruple in the party's conscience, and himself not satisfied, then the said party shall repair unto one of mine archdeacons or chaplains, unto whom his mind shall be most inclined, or else to repair unto mine own self, to be resolved in his said scruple or doubt, and to receive and take such order therein, as to one of the said archdeacons, or unto me, shall therein appear to be most expedient.
"Further certifying and declaring unto you, that I have given commandment herein to all my archdeacons, that they monish and command every pastor and curate within their archdeaconries, that they, having knowledge hereof, do, on the first holiday next then following, at the mass time, when the multitude of people is present, declare all these things unto their parishioners, and exhort them that they esteem this grace accordingly, and reconcile themselves to the church before the first Sunday after Easter next ensuing: which thing I also do command by the tenor hereof, with intimation that the said time being once past, and they not so reconciled, every one of them shall have process made against him, according to the canons, as the cause shall require: for which purpose the pastors and curates of every parish shall be commanded by their archdeacon, to certify me in writing of every man and woman's name that is not so reconciled.
"Further, herewith I do signify and declare unto you, that our holy father the pope Julius. the third of that name, like a most tender and natural father, hearing of the return and recovery of his prodigal child, this realm of England, hath himself made much joy and gladness hereat, and also all other true Christian realms have done the like: exhorting you therefore in our Lord, not to be unthankful yourselves, or negligent in this behalf, but diligently to seek for it, joyfully to embrace it, and fruitfully to use it, remembering withal the monition and charge which came from me the last year, concerning your coming to confession in Lent, and receiving the sacrament at Easter: which monition to all effects and purposes I have now here repeated and renewed, charging you, and also all your curates, therewith.
"And because all our duties is earnestly and devoutly to pray for the prosperous estate of our sovereigns, the king and the queen of this realm, I do finally require and pray you, as heartily as I can, to pray for their Majesties accordingly; and specially that it may please Almighty God, to send unto her Grace a good time, and to make her a glad mother, which cannot be but unto us all great joy, much comfort, and inestimable profit.
"Given at London the nineteenth day of the month of February, in the year of our Lord God, after the computation of the Church of England, 1554, and of my translation the sixteenth."
The form of absolution to be kept by the pastors and curates in private confessions, concerning this reconciliation; to be used in the diocese of London.
"Our Lord Jesus Christ absolve you, and by the apostolic authority to me granted and committed, I absolve you from the sentences of excommunication, and from all other censures and pains, into the which you be fallen by reason of heresy, or schism, or any other ways: and I restore you unto the unity of our holy mother the church, and the communion of all sacraments, dispensing with you for all manner of irregularity: and by the same authority I absolve you from all your sins, in the name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Ghost. Amen."