Ausculta Fili

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Ausculta Fili (Latin, literally "Give ear, my son") is a letter addressed 5 December 1301, by Pope Boniface VIII to Philip the Fair, King of France.


Philip was at enmity with the Pope. He had aggressively expanded what he saw as royal rights: he conferred benefices, and appointed bishops to sees, regardless of papal authority. He drove from their sees those bishops who were in opposition to his will and supported the Pope.

In 1295 Pope Boniface created a see at Pamiers from the diocese of Toulouse by the bull Romanus Pontifex, and made it a suffragan of the archdiocese of Narbonne. He named Bernard Saisset as bishop. However the opposition of Hughes Mascaron, Bishop of Toulouse, and the conflict between Saisset and Roger Bernard III, Count of Foix, prevented Saisset from taking immediate possession of his diocese. As an ardent Occitan aristocrat, Saisset made no secret of the fact that he despised the northern “Frankish” French.

In 1299 Boniface VIII suspended two bishops in the south of France. King Philip then attempted to exercise the Droit de regale and claim the right to seize the revenues of the vacant sees. The Pope objected that suspension is not the same as deposition and did not render a see vacant. He sent the Bishop of Pamiers to Philip as legate to protest.[1]

The incipit is modeled on that of the Rule of St Benedict. The letter is couched in firm, paternal terms. It points out the evils the king has brought to his kingdom, to Church and State; it invites him to do penance and mend his ways. It went unheeded by Philip, and was followed by the papal Bull Unam Sanctam.