Comma Pianum

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Comma pianum are words that evoke the controversies that arose in the 16th and 17th centuries over the interpretation of the bull ex omnibus afflictionibus, of Oct. 1, 1567, by which Pope Pius V condemned 76 propositions taken from the works of baius and his followers. After the enumeration of the condemned propositions, the bull contained the following clause, which according to the custom of the chancellery was not punctuated: "quas quidem sententias quamquam nonnullae aliquo pacto sustineri possent in rigore et proprio verborum sensu ab assertoribus intento haereticas respective damnamus." If a comma is placed after "pos-sent," the sense is that the propositions, some of which in some way are tenable, are condemned in the full rigor of the terms and the proper meaning of the words such as the authors had in mind. If a comma is placed after "intento," the sense is that the propositions are condemned, although some are tenable in a certain manner in the rigor of the terms and in the proper meaning desired by the authors. The displacement of the comma, then, leads to two opposite interpretations; the second, since it was favorable to Baius, was defended by him and by his defenders, especially by Jacques Janson in 1618 and by C. jansen (jansenius) in augustinus. Since the bull of Pius V was renewed in 1643 (date of promulgation) in the bull of Urban VIII, In eminenti, this document was printed under the direction of the nuncio Fabio Chigi with the comma after "possent," which provoked violent reactions from the Jansenists. The investigation ordered by Urban VIII agreed to the presence of the comma in this place. However, the controversies continued, and it was not until 1701, under the influence of M. Steyaert, that the Faculty of Louvain definitely accepted this punctuation. It must be noted, however, that the recent works of Edouard van Eijl, OFM, have completely reopened the question and have shown that in fact it was the interpretation favorable to Baius that should have been retained as in accord with the intentions of Pius V without, however, thereby diminishing the force of the condemnation.

Bibliography: e. van eijl, "L'Interprétation de la bulle de Pie V portant la condamnation de Baius," Revue d'histoire ecclésiastique 50 (1955) 499542. j. orcibal, "De Baius à Jansénius: Le Comma pianum, " Revue des sciences religieuses 36 (1962) 115139.

[l. j. cognet]