Charles Buck Theological Dictionary
A letter of a pope, determining some point of question in the ecclesiastical law. The decretals compose the second part of the canon law. The first genuine one, acknowledged by all the learned as such, is a letter of Pope Siricius, written in the year 385, to Himerus, bishop of Tarragona, in Spain, concerning some disorders which had crept into the churches of Spain. Gratian published a collection of decretals, containing all the ordinances made by the popes till the year 1150. Gregory IX. in 1227, following the example of Theodosius and Justinian, formed a constitution of his own, collecting into one body all the decisions and all the causes which served to advance the papal power; which collection of decretals was called the Pentateuch, because it contained five books.
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Buck, Charles. Entry for 'Decretal'. Charles Buck Theological Dictionary. https://www.studylight.org/dictionaries/eng/cbd/d/decretal.html. 1802.