Papal Documents - The Prophet - 742 

long experience described above, both as regards the pious intention of the said Confessor and as regards whatever pertains to the Rule and its observance. We have, too, fully and considerately gone over everything our predecessors are known to have approved and clarified, whether on the Rule itself or whatever touches on it. In the present document, therefore, we have enacted, decreed, and endorsed a number of things in a precise manner, or have in a formal way approved, promulgated or conceded what has been previously endorsed, treating a number of points with greater detail and clarity, as more fully explained in the articles which follow.

Article 1: Observance of the Gospel

1 First of all, we understand there is doubt in some minds as to whether the brothers of the said Order are bound in conscience to the counsels of the Gospels as well as its precepts. For at the beginning of their Rule it states: "The rule and life of the Lesser Brothers is this: to observe the holy Gospel of our Lord Jesus Christ by living in obedience, without anything of their own, and in chastity." Again, farther on in the said Rule there is the passage: "When the year of probation has come to an end, they may be received to obedience, promising always to observe this rule and life." And again, at the end of the rule there are the words: "so that . . . we may observe the poverty, humility, and the Holy Gospel of our Lord Jesus Christ, as we have firmly promised."

Now, our predecessor Pope Gregory IX of happy memory did indeed clarify this and certain other points of the Rule.a Due, however, to the carping attacks of certain antagonists of the brothers and their Rule, his explanation has proved to be unclear in certain particulars, incomplete in others, and inadequate to cover many other points contained in the Rule.

2 It is our intention, therefore, to remove any such lack of clarity and adequacy by means of an explanation that shall interpret the points perfectly, and to excise whatever scruple of anxiety might exist from the minds of all by means of the certainty of a fuller exposition. We affirm, therefore, that when the beginning of the Rule states: " The rule and life of the Lesser Brothers is this: to observe the Holy Gospel of our Lord Jesus Christ by living in obedience, without anything of their own, and in chastity," this is not intended to be an absolute statement, but one with some degree of qualification, or restriction

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Francis of Assisi: Early Documents, vol. 3, p. 742