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Si fuit in re


Pope Leo XIII (r. 20 February 1878 to 20 July 1903 †)

13 December 1880




Essentially this Address just elevates to the Cardinalate an Armenian Catholic bishop, Antonium Hassum, together with a promise to do likewise with three other bishops from "the East". Perhaps though this Allocution is more significant in that it reflects an awareness and focus in the early part of the Pontificate of Leo XIII of the special past and promise of the "Eastern" Churches — Orthodox and Non-Chalcedonian/Oriental Orthodox.

"As for ourselves, to say the truth we must confess that the very rememberance of the ancient glory and incomparable merits which the East can boast are to us inexpressibly sweet. There in fact were the cradle of human redemption and the first fruits of Christianity. From thence, as a stream of some royal river, were diffused over the West, the riches of inestimable blessings, derived to us from the Gospel of Jesus Christ. While we ponder on these things, venerable brethren, in our mind we desire and long for nothing so much as to affect the restoration to all the East of the virtue and the grandeur of the past, and the more so because the signs, which in the development of human events appear from time to time give reason to hope that the orientals, moved by Divine Grace, may return to reconciliation with the Church of Rome, from whose bosom they have been for so many years separated."



    Si fuit in re in the original Latin


  [With apologies for the poor translation into the English language from the Latin original]  
  If ever there was a time which was evil and fruitful in disasters for the Church, such indubitably is the present epoch, in which we see her exposed to bitterest injuries, so extraordinary and incessant as to compel her without respite to combat for the maintenance of her liberty, her rights and her dignity. For the audacity of the evil measures proposed against her is always and everywhere increasing, the Divine majesty of religion is, without the least respect, subjected to outrage, Catholic institutions are oppressed, and iniquitous laws are imposed upon the people to the evident hazard of faith and the salvation of souls. Wherefore, if any one among those having at heart the interests of Christianity has just cause to lament these perils and disasters, We assuredly must be far more anguished, inasmuch as We above all others sustain a burden of most bitter grief. Notwithstanding it is Our pleasure to day to turn away Our eyes from so mournful a spectacle and to direct them rather towards that part from whence We are offered some reason for comfort, We mean towards the Oriental Churches, concerning which We have had already another opportunity of treating. For in this same honourable presence were lately commemorated by Us the especial cares which from the very commencement of Our Pontificate We hastened to expend upon the nations of the East. And this We did with most heartfelt satisfaction not only because their needs urgently demanded succour, but because their minds, thanks to Divine Providence, seemed disposed to turn toward the centre of Catholic unity.  
  As for Ourselves, to say truth, We must confess that the very remembrance of the ancient glory and incomparable merits of which the East can boast are to Us inexpressibly sweet. There, in fact, were the cradle of human redemption and the first fruits of Christianity. From thence, as streams of some royal river, were diffused over the West the riches of the inestimable blessings derived to Us from the Gospel of Jesus Christ. Nor will the renown be ever extinguished of those illustrious Orientals who, under the inspiration and guidance of Catholic truth, were enabled to rise to every kind of excellence, and by their holiness, their learning and their deeds, to transmit to posterity the glory of their names. While We ponder on these things, Venerable Brethren, in Our mind, We desire and long for nothing so much as to effect the restoration to all the East of the virtue and grandeur of the past. And the more so because the signs which in the development of human events appear there from time to time give reason to hope that the Orientals, moved by Divine grace, may return to reconciliation with the Church of Rome from whose bosom they have been for so many years separated.  
  Wherefore, resolved as We are to advance as much as possible the work already begun, We have for some time studied the mode in which We might place before all the Orientals a special evidence of Our paternal affection. And now that the opportunity is come for fulfilling Our desire, We intend publicly and solemnly to manifest to them Our benevolence by promoting to the Cardinalitial dignity one of the most distinguished Bishops of the East, and this we intend doing not only from regard to him but for the sake of all.  
  You are well aware, Venerable Brethren, in what manner those of the Armenians who in these latter days severed themselves from the Apostolic See, becoming penitent, returned, by the mercy of God, to the fold from which they had strayed. In all this work of reconciliation, Our venerable brother, Antonio Hassun, has nobly proved to Us his industry, charity, and prudence. This illustrious personage (it is a pleasure to Us to speak in his praise) having when a young man completed his instruction in literature and graver studies in Rome, returned to the East, where he became first the Archbishop, and finally the Cilician Patriarch of the Armenians. He spent well nigh forty years with wisdom and integrity amid the cares of the Episcopal Office. When that pernicious schism broke out among his people, he distinguished himself by his incomparable forbearance and fortitude in defending the rights and maintaining the doctrines of the Church. But among the many gifts of his mind, that which is most to be admired is not merely his constant fidelity, but the ardent love and singular devotion which he bears towards this Apostolic See.  
  Such then, Venerable Brethren, is the personage whom for his great deserts we have determined to select in order to restore to the Oriental Churches the honour of the Roman purple of which they have been so long, since the time of Bessarion, deprived. May God grant that the high dignity conferred on so conspicuous a man may prove a joyful augury for the Catholic and especially for the Oriental Church, that those who retain the Catholic faith may feel that they all are honoured in the person of this one, and may be incited to guard jealously the faith received from their forefathers, and that the others may recognise and receive our good will toward them, and take this as a pledge of blessings incomparably greater which we promise them in the name, and by the authority of God, whenever they may resolve to re-connect themselves by the path of Christian faith and charity with the See of Peter, Prince of the Apostles.  
  And to the greater glory of God and advantage of the Church We intend to create, besides the personage above mentioned, three other Cardinals, whom for the present, from just motives, We reserve in fietto.  
  Therefore, by the authority of the Almighty God, and of the holy Apostles Peter and Paul, and by our own we create a Cardinal Priest of the Holy Roman Church,  

Also the three others, which we have previously pointed out, those Cardinals who create, whenever the power of our publishing.

With a dispensation, derogations, and the clauses of the necessary and opportune. In the name of the Father, - and of the Son - and the Holy Spirit - the Holy Spirit. Amen.



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  Venerabiles Fratres  
  Si fuit in re christiana tempus ullum difficile et plenum laboribus, hoc profecto est, cum in pluribus Europae partibus Ecclesiam intuemur acerbissimis iniuriis affectani, iisque tam variis tamque multis, ut prope in singulas horas de libertate, de iuribus, de dignitate sua dimicare cogatur. Etenim crescente passim rerum malarum audacia, divina religionis maiestas contemnitur, instituta catholica violantur, iniquae leges cum manifesto fidei et salutis animarum discrimine praescribuntur. Quam ob rem si omnibus, quotquot sunt amantes catholici nominis, iusta caussa est, cur praesentibus eius aut periculis aut incommodis commoveantur, multo Nos vehementius angimur, et praecipuum quemdam dolorem sustinemus. — Nihilominus tamen placet hodierno die ab earum rerum molesta contemplatione tantisper avocare mentem, atque illuc potius convertere, unde solatium Nobis aliquod oblatum videmus ; ad Ecclesias Orientis intelligimus, de quibus ipsis ad Vos loquuti sumus, cum tempora postularent. Alias enim in hoc amplissimo loco commemoratae a Nobis sunt curae singulares, quas sub ipsa Pontificatus Nostri exordia in populos Orientis conferre properavimus. Idque perlibenter egimus, non solum ob eam caussam, quod eorum ne-, cessitatibus mature occurrere oportebat, sed etiam quia, divinae providentiae beneficio, ad catholicae veritatis centrum inclinare animi viderentur.  
  Nos quidem certe pervetusta Orientis gloria, et in omne genus hominum fama meritorum ipsa recordatione delectat. Ibi enim salutis humani generis incunabula, et christianae sapientiae primordia; illinc omnium beneficiorum, quae una cum sacro Evangelio accepimus, velut abundantissimus amnis in Occidentem influxit. Neque interitura laus est virorum ex Oriente magnorum, quibus contigit ut afflatu auspiciisque veritatis catholicae ad omnem excellentiam niterentur, et sanctitate, doctrina , rebus gestis gloriam nominis sui ad posteros propagarent. Atque haec Nobiscum, Venerabiles Fratres, in animo considerantes, nihil tam cupimus atque optamus, quam dare operam, ut Oriente toto maiorum virtus et magnitudo reviviscant. Eoque magis, quod illic humanorum eventuum is volvitur cursus, ut indicia identidem appareant, quae spem portendunt, Orientis populos, ab Ecclesiae Romanae sinu tam diuturno tempore dissociatos, cum eadem aliquando in gratiam, aspirante Deo, redituros.  
  Quoniam igitur Nobis certum est, studiose, quoad possumus, institutum opus insistere , idcirco iamdiu cogitabamus, quo tandem modo cunctis ex Oriente populis singulare quoddam paternae benevolentiae Nostrae testimonium praeberemus. Nunc vero idoneam, ut optabamus, occasionem nacti, benevolentem animum Nostrum publica eademque praeclara significatione testamur, suscepto consilio cooptandi in amplissimum collegium vestrum, Venerabiles Fratres, unum ex Episcopis Orientis virtute praestantissimis : qua re non uni dumtaxat, sed universis gratifican volumus.  
  Haud vos latet, Venerabiles Fratres, eos ex Armeniorum gente, qui ab hac Apostolica Sede postremo hoc tempore desciverant, poenituisse facti, eoque, unde aberraverant, divini numinis benignitate rediisse. Iamvero in omni hoc pacificationis negotio Venerabilis Frater Noster Antonius Hassan valde Nobis industriam, caritatem, prudentiam suam probavit. Is quippe eximius vir, libet enim quod in ipso laudabile est commemorare, ad litteras, ad graviores disciplinas Romae adulescens institutus, in Orientem remigravit, ubi primum Archiepiscopus, ac tandem Patriarcha Ciliciensis Armeniorum renuntiatus est. Itaque per annos fere quadraginta pontificale munus sapienter integreque gessit. Popularium suorum secessione coorta, in vindicandis iuribus, tuendaque Ecclesiae doctrina grande praebuit patientiae et fortitudinis documentum. Sed in eo cum multa sunt ornamenta virtutum, tum maxime elucet erga hanc Apostolicam
Sedem non modo immobilis fides , verum etiam vis quaedam amoris studiumque singulare.
  Hunc itaque, Venerabiles Fratres, dignum iudicavimus, per quem Orientalibus Ecclesiis romanae decus purpurae, longo post Bessarionem intervallo, redderemus. Faxit Deus, ut collata viro amplissimo dignitas rei catholicae universae fausta felixque sit : nominatim vero bene vertat Orienti, ut scilicet qui catholicam professionem retinent, cuncti sese in hoc uno homine honoratos intelligant, atque incitamenta capiant ad fidem avitam sancte custodiendam; ceteri autem agnoscant atque ament voluntatem Nostram, atque hoc velut pignus accipiant bonorum longe maximorum, quae Nos, si animum aliquando induxerint cum hac beati Petri Principis Apostolorum Sede fidem caritatemque christianam consociare, nomine et auctoritate Dei ipsis pollicemur.  
  Ad maiorem autem Dei gloriam et Ecclesiae utilitatem, praeter hunc , quem supra diximus, tres alios praestantes viros S. R. E. Cardinales designamus, quos tamen iustis de caussis in pectore reservamus.  
  Quid vobis videtur?  
  Auctoritate itaque Omnipotentis Dei, Sanctorumque Apostolorum Petri et Paulli ac Nostra creamus Sanctae Romanae Ecclesiae Presbyterum Cardinalem  

Item tres alios, quos supra indicavimus, Cardinales creamus, arbitrio Nostro quandocumque evulgandos.

Cum dispensationibus, derogationibus, et clausulis necessariis et opportunis. In nomine Patris — et Filii — et Spiritus — Sancti. Amen.



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