Non possumus

Non possumus

Non possumus meaning: we cannot, is a Latin religious phrase originating from the story of the martyrs of Abitina, when emperor Diocletian prohibited Christians, under pain of death, to possess the Scriptures, to meet on Sunday to celebrate the Eucharist and to build premises for their assemblies.

The full context of the phrase is "Sine dominico non possumus," we cannot live without Sunday. It stresses the importance of sabbath in Christianity and the eucharistic celebration in the Christian religion. [1]

Another ecclesiastic usage of the term has been attributed to pope Leo the Great, who wrote in 448 "quibus viventibus non communicavimus mortuis communicare non possumus' (i.e., we cannot hold communion in death with those who in life were not in communion with us)." This principle has been used to justify various Church policies, from refusal to hold funeral liturgies, to the lifting of excommunications on deceased individuals, and to objections to ecumenism and general relations with the non-Christian world. [2]

In the 19th and 20th centuries, Non possumus was the name given to the diplomatic policy of popes Pius IX, Leo XIII, Pius X, Benedict XV, Pius XI and Pius XII in their relations with foreign powers, especially after the capture of Rome, where the pontiff became the prisoner in the Vatican and deliberately chose to limit his contacts with the outside world. [3] It is generally thought that the Second Vatican Council downplayed this earlier Church policy.

Non possumus is also an album of Szwadron 97 and a book by Julien Benda. The phrase is also found in the motto of Bodens ingenjörregemente.


  1. ^ Pope to Proclaim Cry of Abitene Martyrs
  2. ^ Diocese of Brooklyn Denies Funeral Mass for Gotti
  3. ^ Pius IX revisited

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  • Non possumus — * Non possumus. Diese Redensart ist, obwol nicht deutsch, in der letzten Zeit so oft vernommen worden, dass sie auch in das Volk übergegangen ist. Ueber ihre Entstehung berichtet die Neue Frankfurter Zeitung Folgendes: »Es war am 7. Febr. 1848,… …   Deutsches Sprichwörter-Lexikon

  • non possumus — лат. (нон поссумус) букв. «не можем»; формула категорического отказа. Толковый словарь иностранных слов Л. П. Крысина. М: Русский язык, 1998 …   Словарь иностранных слов русского языка

  • Non possŭmus — (lat., »Wir können nicht«), mit Anwendung der Stelle aus Apostelgesch. 4, 20, Antwort des Papstes Clemens VII. auf die drohende Aufforderung des Königs Heinrich VIII. von England, ihn von seiner Gemahlin Katharina zu scheiden; seitdem allgemeine… …   Meyers Großes Konversations-Lexikon

  • Non possumus — Non possūmus (lat., »wir können nicht«), auf Grund von Apostelgesch. 4, 20 Antwort Clemens VII. auf die drohende Aufforderung Heinrichs VIII. von England, ihn von seiner Gemahlin Katharina zu scheiden; Weigerungsformel der röm. Kurie der… …   Kleines Konversations-Lexikon

  • non possumus — non pọssumus   [lateinisch »wir können nicht«], nach Apostelgeschichte 4, 20 gebildete Weigerungsformel des Heiligen Stuhles gegenüber staatlichen Forderungen, die er aus kirchlich rechtlichen Gründen nicht erfüllen kann. * * * non pọs|su|mus… …   Universal-Lexikon

  • non possumus — non pọs|su|mus 〈geh.〉 wir können nicht (Formel der Weigerung der katholischen Kirche gegenüber der weltl. Macht) [Etym.: lat.] …   Lexikalische Deutsches Wörterbuch

  • non possumus — non pos|su|mus <lat. ; »wir können nicht«> (Weigerungsformel der röm. ↑Kurie gegenüber der weltlichen Macht …   Das große Fremdwörterbuch

  • non possumus — /nohn poh soo moos /; Eng. /non pos euh meuhs/, Latin. we cannot. * * * …   Universalium

  • non possumus — noun Etymology: Latin, we cannot Date: 1883 a statement expressing inability to do something …   New Collegiate Dictionary

  • Non possumus — (лат. мы не можем ) место из Деяний апостольских (4, 20), примененное папой Климентом VII для ответа на грозное приглашение короля Генриха VIII развести его с супругой его Екатериной; с тех пор постоянная формула для каждого отказа папского… …   Энциклопедический словарь Ф.А. Брокгауза и И.А. Ефрона

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