To the Pope. Beseeching his pardon, we would speak to our sovereign Pontiff, whose kindness stimulates our boldness, whose knowledge supports our ignorance, whose patience assures indulgence. The authority of our forefathers first impels us, then the disease which is insinuating itself, and which will in the end be irremediable if its evil influence be not checked at the beginning. Nor do we say this, Father, as though we wish to be either censors of morals, or judges of the doctors, or debaters of doctrines. This burden requires stronger shoulders and this fight calls for the vigorous arms of spiritual athletes. We wish only to point out this distress to your sacred Fatherhood, on whom God has conferred the power of checking error and the knowledge of how to correct it.
The study of sacred letters among us has descended into the very factory of confusion; the teachers are more watchful for glory than for doctrine, and they write up new and modern summaries and commentaries upon theological foundations, with which they soothe, retain, and deceive their pupils; as though there were not plenty of works of the holy fathers who, we read, put forth their sacred writings inspired by that same spirit which we believe inspired the apostles and prophets when they composed theirs.... Public debates are carried on in violation of the sacred constitutions concerning the incomprehensibility of the Deity; a wordy, carnal strife on the incarnation of the Word goes on irreverently. Even the indivisible Trinity is divided at the street corners and quarrelled over, so that there are already as many errors as there are teachers, as many scandals as lecture rooms, as many blasphemies as public squares.
Furthermore, if recourse is had to the courts which are established by Common Law, either those set up by us, or by the regular judges which we are bound to recognize, there is presented by venal men the tangled forest of the Decretals, under the pretext, as it were, of the sacred memory of Pope Alexander, and the more ancient sacred Canons are thrown away, rejected, and spewed out.
This confusion being made in the very centre of the wholesome regulations made by the Councils of the holy fathers, they impose upon their councils no method and on their business no restraint, those letters having prevailing weight, which, it may be, lawyers have forged and engrossed for pay in their own offices or chambers. A new volume, got together from these sources, is both read regularly in the schools and is exposed for sale in the market with the approval of the crowd of notaries, who rejoice that both their labor is lessened and their pay increased in engrossing these suspicious works.
Two woes have been set forth, and lo, a third woe remains! The Faculties called liberal [i.e., free] have lost their old time liberty, and are devoted to a slavery so complete that long-haired