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DECRETALS, FALSE

A collection of papal letters and council canons published around A.D. 850 by Isidore Mercator in Gaul. The first part contains sixty letters attributed to early popes (fifty-eight of them were forged); the second part is made up of canons of councils; and the third gives letters of Roman pontiffs (thirty of which were forged.) David Blondel (1590-1655), and the Brothers Ballerini, in the eighteenth century, proved them to be false after they had been thought for centuries to have been authentic. The aim of this forger was to increase the authority and independence of the bishops against civil officials. He was most likely not interested in augmenting the power of the popes, which had been already well established before the ninth century.

All items in this dictionary are from Fr. John Hardon's Modern Catholic Dictionary, © Eternal Life. Used with permission.

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