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Not to be confused with Romanum decet pontificem.
Decet Romanum Pontificem

Decet Romanum Pontificem (English: It Pleases the Roman Pontiff) (1521) is the papal bull excommunicating Martin Luther, bearing the title of the first three Latin words of the text [1]. It was issued on January 3, 1521, by Pope Leo X to effect the excommunication threatened in his earlier papal bull Exsurge Domine (1520) since Luther failed to recant [2]. Luther had burned his copy of Exsurge Domine on December 10, 1520, at the Elster Gate in Wittenberg, indicating his response to it.

There are at least two other important papal bulls with the title Decet Romanum Pontificem: one dated February 23, 1596, issued by Pope Clement VIII, and one dated March 12, 1622, issued by Pope Gregory XV.

Toward the end of the 20th century, Lutherans in dialogue with the Catholic Church requested the lifting of this excommunication; however, the Vatican's response was that its practice is to lift excommunications only on those still living. Roland Bainton in "Here I Stand after a Quarter of a Century," his preface for the 1978 edition of his Luther biography, concludes: "I am happy that the Church of Rome has allowed some talk of removing the excommunication of Luther. This might well be done. He was never a heretic. He might better be called, as one has phrased it, 'a reluctant rebel.'" Luther's rehabilitation has been denied however by the Vatican, "Rumors that the Vatican is set to rehabilitate Martin Luther, the 16th-century leader of the Protestant Reformation, are groundless," said the Vatican spokesman, Jesuit Father Federico Lombardi.


  1. ^ Vatican Secret Archives. "The Bull "Decet Romanum Pontificem" - Leo X Excommunicates Martin Luther - Rome, 1521 January 3rd". Holy See. Retrieved 2009-01-03.  
  2. ^ Doak, Robin (2006). Pope Leo X. Minneapolis: Compass Point Books. p. 12. ISBN 0756515947.  


  • Doak, Robin (2006). Pope Leo X. Minneapolis: Compass Point Books. ISBN 0756515947.  

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