On 20 August 1308, Pope Clement V secretly absolved the Knights Templar of the charges brought against them by the Inquisition.
The Knights Templar had been one of the largest of the medieval Catholic military orders and had acquired a great deal of political and financial influence in Europe. French King Philip IV, who owed the Templars a significant amount of money, used rumors about the secret rituals of the Templars to bring charges of heresy against them. He wanted to suppress the Templars in Europe and to obtain their wealth for himself. He brought a good deal of pressure against Pope Clement V to support his attacks against them. In 1307, many Templars in France were forced to give false confessions and burned at the stake.
The Chinon Parchment reveals that Pope Clement V gave the Grand Master of the Templars and other heads of the Templars absolution from the charges of heresy and permission to receive the sacraments. At this time, Clement still hoped to be able to save the Templars from the wrath of Philip IV. However, Philip threatened military action against Clement if he did not dissolve the Templars and at the Council of Vienne in 1312 issued the bull Vox in excelso – which abolished the Order of Templars on the grounds of the many scandalous accusations which had been brought against them. Though, Clement V also noted that his decision to abolish the Templars “[was] not without bitterness and sadness of heart”.