The Bishops’ Oath Prior to Vatican Council II

This oath of allegiance to the Pope and to the doctrines of the Roman Catholic Church was mandatory for every Bishop who participated in the Second Vatican Council (1962-1965). This document provides useful insights into the main doctrines of the Roman Catholic Church.

The first part of the document – not included here – is a reminder of the articles of the Nicene Creed.  The second part of the document contains the following statements:

“I firmly acknowledge and embrace the Apostolic traditions and other customs and rules of the Church. I also acknowledge the Holy Scriptures as interpreted in the past and present by our Holy Mother Church. It is her prerogative to judge and to explain faithfully the meaning of the Holy Scriptures. Never shall I interpret or explain them differently from the Fathers.

I also confess that there are, in the true and proper sense of the term, seven Sacraments of the New Covenant, instituted by our Lord Jesus Christ and necessary for the salvation of mankind, although not all of them are necessary for each individual, namely : Baptism, Confirmation, the Eucharist, Penitence, the Anointing of the Sick, Holy Orders, and Marriage; I confess that grace is imparted through them, and that Baptism, Confirmation, and Holy Orders cannot be repeated without a sacrilege. I also accept and uphold all of the Rites approved by the Church for the solemn administration of the Sacraments.

I wholly accept all that was defined and decreed by the Council of Trent concerning original sin and justification.[1]

I also confess that in the Mass, a true and expiatory sacrifice is offered for the living and for the dead, and that in the most Holy Sacrament of the Eucharist, the Body, Soul and Divinity of our Lord are really and truly present; that the substance of the bread is wholly changed into His Body, and the substance of the wine wholly into His Blood. The Catholic Church calls this change Transsubstantiation. I further confess that Christ is wholly present, together with the true Sacrament, even under one of the species.

I firmly believe that Purgatory exists, and that the souls secluded therein are helped by the prayers of the faithful.

I firmly believe that the saints reigning with Christ are to be venerated and invoked; that they offer prayers to God on our behalf, and that their relics are to be venerated. I firmly declare that pictures of Christ, of the Ever-Virgin Mother of God, and of the saints are to be used and kept, and duly respected and revered.

I also declare that Christ has vouchsafed the Church full powers to grant Indulgences, the use of which is a great blessing to the Christian people.

I acknowledge the Holy Roman Catholic and Apostolic Church as Mother and Teacher of all Churches. I promise and vow true obedience to the Roman Pope, the Successor of Saint Peter, the Prince of Apostles and Vicar of Jesus Christ.

I also receive without the slightest doubt and confess all the other matters defined, decreed and declared by the Holy Ecumenical Councils, especially by the Holy Council of Trent and the Ecumenical Council of the Vatican[2], namely concerning the primacy of the Bishop of Rome and his infallible Magisterium. I likewise condemn, reject, and anathematize whatever contradicts them, as well as every false doctrine that has been condemned, rejected, and anathematized by the Church. I desire to unswervingly hold to the true Catholic Faith outside of which none can be saved, and to confess it, pure and unadulterated, till I breathe my last; and inasmuch as depends on me, I will see to it that it is held and taught and preached by my subordinates and by those entrusted to my care according to my office. This I promise and vow and swear to carry out. So help me God and His Holy Gospels.”

Source: Union de Défense Protestante Suisse, CH-2300 LA CHAUX DE FONDS 2

[1]One of numerous examples of Trent’s decress on justification is the Sixth Session, Chapter XVI, Canon XII: “If anyone says that justifying faith is nothing else than confidence in divine mercy, which remits sins for Christ’s sake, or that it is this confidence alone that justifies us, let him be anathema.”  Edited and translated by J. Waterworth, The Council of Trent: The Canons and Decrees of the Sacred and Oecumenical Council of Trent, (London: Dolman, 1848) on,_Concilium_Tridentinum,_Canons_And_Decrees,_EN.pdf accessed on September 24, 2017.

[2]A reference to the First Vatican Council (December 1869 – October 1870) which decreed the primacy of the Pope, his full and supreme power of jurisdiction over the whole Church, and his infallibility when speaking ‘ex cathedra’ (i.e. as supreme teacher of the Catholic Church) on matters of faith and morals.