By Prince Matthew of Theben.
In 1312 AD, Pope Clement V issued the Papal Bull Vox in Excelso (“Voice From on High”), for final resolution of the status of the Knights Templar. This famous Papal Bull is typically claimed and widely believed to have “dissolved” the Order, and even proponents of Templarism describe it more softly, but still mistakenly, as having “suspended” the Order. The historical record, however, proves that in fact it merely “suppressed” the Templars, and only within the Vatican, which is a very limited and purely political move.
Even Vatican scholars rarely cite the original text of the Papal Bull, instead referring to Vatican records which describe it being read aloud to the Council of Vienne. Those references routinely note that it was read under the overbearing presence of the French King Philip IV and his three sons. The official records state the following:
“The Pope said that though he had no sufficient reasons for a formal condemnation of the Order, nevertheless, because of… the hatred borne them by the King of France, the scandalous nature of their trial, and the probable dilapidation of the Order’s property in every Christian land, he suppressed it by virtue of his sovereign power, and not by any definitive sentence.” 
Declaring that there were “no sufficient reasons”, and that it was “not by definitive sentence”, clearly emphasized that it had no real legal effect. All official statements consistently highlight (and thereby protest) the pressure and interference from the French King, indicating that the resulting Papal Bull would be necessarily null and void by the legal doctrine of “duress”.
By the operative key words “suppressed it by virtue of his sovereign power”, Pope Clement V revealed the true legal context of Vox in Excelso:
The Vatican was well aware that it had already granted the Templar Order full, permanent, irrevocable and independent sovereignty in its own right, specifically on the basis of its own ecclesiastical authority of the Templar Priesthood, in the Papal Bull Omne Datum Optimum of 1139 AD, reconfirmed by Milites Templi of 1144 AD and also Militia Dei in 1145 AD  . Having no ecclesiastical jurisdiction over the Templar Priesthood, the Pope was limited to exercising “sovereign power”, solely in a governmental capacity. Under customary law and Canon law, the Pope also could not claim to assert any sovereignty over the Order’s autonomous legal status or existence.
By definition, the Pope could only exercise “his sovereign power” over his own institution, the Vatican itself. The only relevant power, within the confines of the Vatican’s own jurisdiction, was to simply cease its own active recognition of and direct cooperation with the Templar Order. Naturally, given the overwhelming socio-political influence of the Vatican, merely ceasing such support would thereby serve to “suppress” the Order, only by means of the practical and political effects which would follow.
Moreover, in 1312 AD it was abundantly clear that the French persecution had already effectively “suppressed” the Order de facto since 1307 AD, such that five years earlier the Order was already forced to survive only as an underground network. Accordingly, whatever declarations the Vatican could make were mere political posturing, solely to protect the Vatican itself from the relentless continuing aggression of the insatiable French King.
In the context of those clear limitations and qualifying statements, the original official text of Vox in Excelso specifically declared the following resolutions:
“The Order, moreover, had a good and holy beginning; it won the approval of the Apostolic See. The Rule, which is holy, reasonable and just, had the deserved sanction of this Holy See. For all these reasons we were unwilling to lend our ears to the insinuation and accusation against the Templars… Then came the intervention of… Philip, the illustrious King of France.” 
This part reveals that the Temple Rule of Saint Bernard in 1128 AD, by its ratification at the Vatican Council of Troyes in 1129 AD, was considered an “approval” and “sanctioning” of the Order by additional Papal Patronage, separate from its own independent sovereignty. It confirms that the Rule itself remains “holy” and thus worthy of future use. It also admits the unlawful interference and duress by King Philip IV as the sole reason for issuing the Papal Bull.
“Indeed, although legal process against the Order at this time does not permit its canonical condemnation as heretical by definitive sentence, the good name of the Order has been largely taken away by the heresies attributed to it.” 
This part admits that the disposition of the Papal Bull was not supported by legal process, and not permitted by Canon law, revealing it is legally void and invalid, and thus purely political. It again emphasizes that the sole reason for suppression was the persistent unlawful false defamation promoted by the French King, creating a purely political problem.
“[We] suppress the Order by way of ordinance and provision of the Apostolic See, assigning the property to the use for which it was intended. … Therefore, with a sad heart, not by definitive sentence, but by apostolic provision and ordinance, we suppress… the Order of Templars, and its Rule, habit and name… and we entirely forbid that anyone from now on enter the Order… or presume to behave as a Templar.” 
This part is the core substance of what was actually decided. It clearly states that the Order was only “suppressed”, specifically “by way of ordinance and provision”, meaning merely politically, solely by administrative measures, and only by means of “assigning the property” of the Order.
To “forbid” joining the order or being seen as a Templar applied only to Clergy and followers under ecclesiastical jurisdiction of the Vatican itself. This could not lawfully apply to independent cultural Templars nor to any others outside the Roman Catholic Church, and could not have any legal effect on the Order’s own rightful existence possessing its own sovereignty.
To “suppress” the “Rule” meant that the Vatican was rescinding only its own Papal Patronage of the Temple Rule, which was already unnecessary as it was superseded by full permanent Papal Protection granted by Omne Datum Optimum of 1139 AD. Nothing in any part of Vox in Excelso claimed to invalidate or revoke that prior Papal Bull, which by customary law and Canon law is irrevocable.
Proving conclusively that the grant of independent sovereignty in Omne Datum Optimum is absolutely irrevocable, that Papal Bull declares: “If anyone, with the knowledge of this our decree, rashly attempts to act against it… he shall lose the dignity of his power and honor” due to that “perpetrated injustice” . This makes any claimed attempt to revoke the prior Bull legally null and void, as contrary to law and justice. Furthermore, as the word “dignity” is a historical legal term meaning “official capacity”, this would also legally trigger involuntary abdication of any Pope who would ever attempt or presume to revoke it, or even deny it.
Therefore, while Vox in Excelso did politically “suppress” the Order of the Temple of Solomon in practice, the Papal Bull did nothing to change the Order’s own inherent status of full legal legitimacy as a sovereign chivalric and religious institution in its own right.
Furthermore, while ostensibly “suppressing” the Templar Order, Vox in Excelso specifically upheld and reaffirmed the Vatican’s full vindication of the Templars from the Chinon Parchment of 1308 AD, incorporating it by reference: “Through this decree, however, we do not wish to derogate from any processes made… in conformity with what we have ordained at other times.” 
The Chinon Parchment of 1308 AD had fully exonerated the Knights Templar and their Grand Master of all charges, and granted the Order “pardon from excommunication”, also “restoring to unity with the Church and reinstating to the communion”. 
Upholding the Chinon Parchment was also again reaffirmed by the subsequent Papal Bull Considerantes of 1312 AD, which repeated: “We had no intention of derogating from the processes made… as we have ordained elsewhere.” Also referring to all Templars who were collectively pardoned and absolved in 1308 AD, it declared: “Thus those who have been legally acquitted… shall be supplied with the goods of the former Order whereby they can live as becomes their state.”  This declaration also confirms that the Templars continued to retain their “state”, meaning their recognized and irrevocable official capacity, from the permanent independent sovereignty of the Order.
The medieval concept of “heresy”, and related accusatory practices which created the political necessity for suppression of the Templar Order, have been effectively eliminated in the modern era. The Vatican established the first Code of Canon Law in 1917, which was refined by the Second Ecumenical Council (“Vatican II”) in 1965, and updated in 1983. Several major improvements rendered Vox in Excelso obsolete, such that it can no longer prohibit Roman Catholics from joining the Order of the Temple of Solomon:
The recognition by Saint Augustine and Saint Jerome in 418 AD that the Ancient Solomonic Priesthood as “true religion, which already existed, began to be called Christian” , which “established anew the ancient Faith” within Catholicism , is now given force of Canon Law as the “common and constant opinion of learned authors” (Canon 19); Ancient “immemorial customs” from the Solomonic origins of Christianity and related “centennial customs” of the Templar Priesthood are incorporated into modern Catholicism (Canon 26), and cannot be revoked (Canon 28) as long as they are “reasonable” (Canon 24, §2); Freedom of liturgy and “the right to follow their own form of spiritual life” is required (Canon 214) .
The Roman Catholic Code of Canon Law of 1983 now prohibits all of the historical instruments of persecution which were used against the Knights Templar, including: Aggressive interference with disregard for rights and justice (Canon 287, §1); Defamation to “unlawfully harm good reputation” by inflammatory accusations (Canon 220); and Falsely or maliciously “denouncing” to “injure the good name of another” (Canon 1390, §2) .