Leaving aside the uncertainty about any involvement by Richard Annibaldi, what is certain is that the decree promulgated after the Council of Lyons in 1274 by Pope Gregory X (Pope from 1271 to 1276) acknowledged that the Augustinians and Carmelites both existed before 1215.
Canon 23 of the decree, however, seemed to offer the Order a challenge and a way to move forward. Since this canon in principle suppressed all the religious orders given to begging, it endangered the very future of the Carmelites and Augustinians.
Canon 23 stated: ""The Order of Carmel and the Hermits of Saint Augustine, whose foundations antedate the aforesaid council, we permit to continue in suo statu (in their present state) until we ordain otherwise. Decision will not have been taken in their regard . . . For we intend to provide for these [orders] . . . such measures as we may deem expedient for the salvation of souls and for their own welfare."
Since this statement directly followed a reference to the Dominicans and Franciscans, "whose eminent usefulness to the universal Church is apparent," the implication was clear.
While awaiting Rome’s final decision on the matter, for the Augustinians and Carmelites it was not, however, “business as usual” because the Council of Lyons imposed some immediate restrictions on them. For example, they were not to dispose of any property, they were not to open any new communities, and no further religious profession could occur.
In the broader church, it was not surprising that numerous people stopped making donations and bequests to these Orders and their building projects that could suddenly be closed down by Rome. In the civil sphere, town councils and local authorities became reluctant to make agreements with these Orders because of the uncertainty of their continued existence.
In some parts of Europe, the rumour spread that these Orders had in fact already been suppressed and that all was wanted was the motu proprio to enact it. For example, the rumour to this effect was so strong in the Archdiocese of Salzburg that he published a circular letter stating that the rumour about closure of these Orders was untrue.
There was nothing for the Orders to do but to place themselves at the immediate service of the Church and to strive for a fruitful apostolate, according to the practice of the Dominicans and Franciscans during the previous decades.
The Carmelites and the Augustinians understood and responded. But, in official terms, their future was not yet assured. This was a situation of uncertainly which could not continue, and indeed it might not have been the intention of Pope Gregory X to have it continue.
(Continued on the next page.)
For the Augnet photo gallery of Augustinian ministry in Hammersmith and elsewhere in London, select England: London after you click here.