source of dogma 1600-1700


PIUS VII 1800-1823

The Indissolubility of Marriage *

[From the Brief to Charles of Dalberg, Archbishop of

Mainz, November 8, 1803]

1600  "To the doubts proposed to him the Supreme Pontiff, among other remarks, responds": The decision of lay tribunals and of Catholic assemblies by which the nullity of marriages is chiefly declared, and the dissolution of their bond attempted, can have no strength and absolutely no force in the sight of the Church. . . . 

1601 Those pastors who would approve these nuptials by their presence and confirm them with their blessing would commit a very grave fault and would betray their sacred ministry. For they should not be called nuptials, but rather adulterous unions. . . .

Versions of Sacred Scripture *

[From the epistle "Magno et acerbo" to the Archbishop of Mohileff, September 3, 1816] 

1602  We were overcome with great and bitter sorrow when We learned that a pernicious plan, by no means the first, had been undertaken, whereby the most sacred books of the Bible are being spread everywhere in every vernacular tongue, with new interpretations which are contrary to the wholesome rules of the Church, and are skillfully turned into a distorted sense. For, from one of the versions of thissort already presented to Us we notice that such a danger exists against the sanctity Of purer doctrine, so that the faithful might easily drink a deadly poison from those fountains from which they should drain "waters of saving wisdom" [ Sirach. 15:3 ]. . . .

1603  For you should have kept before your eyes the warnings which Our predecessors have constantly given, namely, that, if the sacred books are permitted everywhere without discrimination in the vulgar tongue, more damage will arise from this than advantage. Furthermore, the Roman Church, accepting only the Vulgate edition according to the well-known prescription (see n.785 f.) of the Council of Trent, disapproves the versions in other tongues and permits only those which are edited with the explanations carefully chosen from writings of the Fathers and Catholic Doctors, so that so great a treasure may not be exposed to the corruptions of novelties, and so that the Church, spread throughout the world, may be "of one tongue and of the same speech" [Gen. 11:1].

1604 Since in vernacular speech we notice very frequent interchanges, varieties, and changes, surely by an unrestrained license of Biblical versions that changelessness which is proper to the divine testimony would be utterly destroyed, and faith itself would waver, when, especially, from the meaning of one syllable sometimes an understanding about the truth of a dogma is formed. For this purpose, then, the heretics have been accustomed to make their low and base machinations, in order that by the publication of their vernacular Bibles, (of whose strange variety and discrepancy they, nevertheless, accuse one another and wrangle) they may, each one, treacherously insert their own errors wrapped in the more holy apparatus of divine speech. "For heresies are not born," St. Augustine used to say, "except when the true Scriptures are not well understood and when what is not well understood in them is rashly and boldly asserted.'' * But, if we grieve that men renowned for piety and wisdom have, by no means rarely, failed in interpreting the Scriptures, what should we not fear if the Scriptures, translated into every vulgar tongue whatsoever, are freely handed on to be read by an inexperienced people who, for the most part, judge not with any skill but with a kind of rashness? . . .

1605 Therefore, in that famous letter of his to the faithful of the Church at Meta, Our predecessor, Innocent III, * quite wisely prescribes as follows: "In truth the secret mysteries of faith are not to be exposed to all everywhere, since they cannot be understood by all everywhere, but only by those who can grasp them with the intellect of faith. Therefore, to the more simple the Apostle says: "I gave you milk to drink as unto little ones in Christ, not meat" [ 1 Cor. 3:2]. For solid food is for the elders, as he said: "We speak wisdom . . . among the perfect" [1 Cor 2:6]; "for I judged not myself to know anything among you, but Jesus Christ and Him Crucified" [ 1 Cor. 2:2 ]. For so great is the depth of Divine Scripture that not only the simple and the unlettered, but even the learned and prudent are not fully able to explore the understanding of it. Therefore, Scripture says that many "searching have failed in their search" [Ps. 63:7].

1606 "So it was rightly stated of old in the divine law, that even the beast which touched the mountain should be stoned" [ Heb. 12:20 ;Exod. 19:12] lest, indeed, any simple and ignorant person should presume to reach the sublimity of Sacred Scripture, or to preach it to others. For it is written:Seek not the things that are too high for thee [ Sir 3:22 ] Therefore, the Apostle warns "not to be more wise than it behooveth to be wise, but to be wise unto sobriety" [Rom. 12:3]. But, noteworthy are the Constitutions, not only of Innocent III, just mentioned, but also of Pius IV, * Clement VIII, * and Benedict XIV * in which the precaution was laid down that, if Scripture should be easily open to all, it would perhaps become cheapened and be exposed to contempt, or, if poorly understood by the mediocre, would lead to error. But, what the mind of the Church is in regard to the reading and interpretation of Scripture your fraternity may know very clearly from the excellent Constitution of another of Our predecessors, CLEMENT XI, "Unigenitus," in which those doctrines were thoroughly condemned in which it was asserted that it is useful and necessary to every age, to every place, to every type of person to know the mysteries of Sacred Scripture, the reading of which was to be open to all, and that it was harmful to withdraw Christian people from it, nay more, that the mouth of Christ was closed for the faithful when the New Testament was snatched from their hands [Propositions of Quesnel 79-85; n.1429-1435].

LEO XII 1823-1829

The Versions of Sacred Scripture *

[From the Encyclical "Ubi primum,' May 5, 1824]

1607  . . . The wickedness of our enemies is progressing to such a degree that, besides the flood of pernicious books hostile in themselves to religion' they are endeavoring to turn to the harm of religion even the Sacred Literature given to us by divine Providence for the progress of religion itself. It is not unknown to you, Venerable Brethren, that a certain "Society," commonly called "Biblical," is boldly spreading through the whole world, which, spurning the traditions of the Holy Fathers and against the well-known decree [see n. 786] of the Council of Trent, is aiming with all its strength and means toward this: to translate--or rather mistranslate--the Sacred Books into the vulgar tongue of every

1608 And to avert this plague, Our predecessors have published many Constitutions [e.g., PIUS VII; see n. 1602 ff.]. . . . We, also, in accord with our Apostolic duty, encourage you, Venerable Brothers, to be zealous in every way to remove your flock away from these poisonous pastures. "Reprove, entreat, be instant in season, out of season, in all patience and doctrine" [2 Tim. 4:2], so that your faithful people, clinging exactly to the regulations of our Congregation of the Index, may be persuaded that, "if the Sacred Books are permitted everywhere without discrimination in the vulgar tongue, more harm will arise therefrom than advantage, because of the boldness of men." Experience demonstrates the truth of this and, besides other Fathers, St. Augustine has declared in these words: "For not . . ." [see n.1604].

PIUS VIII 1829-1830

Usury *

[Response of Pius Vlll to the Bishop of Rheims,*

given in audience, August 18, 1830]

1609 The Bishop of Rheims in France explains that. . ., the confessors of his diocese do not hold the same opinion concerning the profit received from money given as a loan to business men, in order that they may be enriched thereby. There is bitter dispute over the meaning of the Encyclical Letter, "Vix pervenit" [see n. 1475ff.]. On both sides arguments are produced to defend the opinion each one has embraced, either favorable to such profit or against it. Thence come quarrels, dissensions, denial of the sacraments to many business men engaging in that method of making money, and countless damage to souls. To meet this harm to souls, some confessors think they can hold a middle course between both opinions. If anyone consults them about gain of this sort, they try to dissuade him from it. If the penitent perseveres in his plan of giving money as a loan to business men, and objects that an opinion favorable to such a loan has many patrons, and moreover, has not been condemned by the Holy See, although more than once consulted about it, then these confessors demand that the penitent promise to conform in filial obedience to the judgment of the Holy Pontiff whatever it may be, if he should intervene; and having obtained this promise, they do not deny them absolution, although they believe an opinion contrary to such a loan is more probable. If a penitent does not confess the gain from money given as a loan, and appears to be in good faith, these confessors, even if they know from other sources that gain of this sort has been taken by him and is even now being taken they absolve him, making no interrogation about the matter, because they fear that the penitent, being advised to make restitution or to refrain from such profit, will refuse.

1610  Therefore the said Bishop of Rheims inquires:

 1. Whether he can approve the method of acting on the part of these latter confessors.

 2. Whether he could encourage other more rigid confessors who come to consult him to follow the plan of action of those others until the Holy See brings out an express opinion on this question.

  Pius Vlll responded:

 To 1: They are not to be disturbed. To II: Provided for in the first.

GREGORY XVI 1831-1846

Usury *

[Declarations about a response of PIUS VIII *]

1611 A. To the doubts of the Bishop of Viviers: *

 1 "Whether the aforesaid judgment of the Most Holy Pontiff must be understood as its words sound, and aside from the title of the law of the prince, about which the Most Eminent Cardinals speak in these responses, so that it is just a matter of a loan made to business men.

 2. "Or whether the title from the law of the prince, about which the Eminent Cardinals speak, must be so understood that it is enough that the law of the prince declares that it is licit for anyone to agree about a gain made from a loan only, as happens in the civil code of the Franks, without saying that it (law of the prince) grants the right to receive such gain."

  The Congregation of the Holy Office responded August 31, 1831:This has been taken care of in the decree of Wednesday, August 18, 1830, and let the decrees be given.

1612  B. To the doubt of the Bishop of Nicea:

 "Whether penitents, who have taken a moderate gain from a loan only, under title of the law, in doubtful or bad faith, can be sacramentally absolved without the imposition of the burden of restitution, provided they are sincerely sorry for the sin committed because of doubtful or bad faith, and are ready in filial obedience to observe the commands of the Holy See."

 The Congregation of the Holy' Office responded fan. 17, 1838:

 Yes, provided they are ready to observe the commands of the Holy See. . . .* 

Indifferentism (against Felicite de Lamennais) *

[From the Encyclical "Mirari vos arbitramur," Aug. 15, 1832]


1613 Now we examine another prolific cause of evils by which, we lament, the Church is at present afflicted, namely indifferentism, or that base opinion which has become prevalent everywhere through the deceit of wicked men, that eternal salvation of the soul can be acquired by any profession of faith whatsoever, if morals are conformed to the standard of the just and the honest. . . . And so from this most rotten source of indifferentism flows that absurd and erroneous opinion, or rather insanity, that liberty of conscience must be claimed and defended for anyone.

1614 Indeed, to this most unhealthy error that full and immoderate liberty of opinions which is spreading widely to the destruction of the sacred and civil welfare opens the way, with some men repeatedly asserting with supreme boldness that some advantage flows therefrom to religion itself. But "what death of the soul is worse than freedom for error?" Augustine used to say [ep. 166* ]. For, since all restraint has been removed by which men are kept on the paths of truth, since their nature inclined to evil is now plunging headlong, we say that the "bottom of the pit" has truly been opened, from which John [Rev. 9:3 ] saw "smoke arising by which the sun was darkened with locusts" coming out of it to devastate the earth. . . .

1615 Nor can we foresee more joyful omens for religion and the state from the wishes of those who desire that the Church be separated from the State, and that the mutual concord of the government with the sacred ministry be broken. For it is certain that that concord is greatly feared by lovers of this most shameless liberty, which has always been fortunate and salutary for the ecclesiastical and the civil welfare.

1616 Having embraced with paternal affection those especially who have applied their mind particularly to the sacred disciplines and to philosophic questions, encourage and support them so that they may not, by relying on the powers of their own talents alone, imprudently go astray from the path of truth into the way of the impious. Let them remember "that God is the guide of wisdom and the director of the wise" [cf.Wisd.7:15], and that it is not possible to learn to know God without God, who by means of the Word teaches men to know God. * It is characteristic of the proud, or rather of the foolish man to test the mysteries of faith "which surpasseth all understanding" [ Phil. 4:7] by human standards, and to entrust them to the reasoning of our mind, which by reason of the condition of our human nature is weak and infirm.

The False Doctrines of Felicite de Lamennais* 

[From the Encyclical, "Singular) nos affecerant gaudio"

to the Bishops of France, June 25, 1834]

1617 But it is a very mournful thing, by which the ravings of human reason go to ruin when someone is eager for revolution and, against the advice of the Apostle, strives "to be more wise than it behooveth to be wise" [cf. Rom. 12:3 ], and trusting too much in himself, affirms that truth must be sought outside of the Catholic Church in which truth itself is found far from even the slightest defilement of error, and which therefore, is called and is "the pillar and ground of the truth" [1 Tim. 3 15 ]. But you well understand, Venerable Brothers, that We are here speaking in open disapproval of that false system of philosophy, not so long ago introduced, by which, because of an extended and unbridled desire of novelty, truth is not sought where it truly resides, and, with a disregard for the holy and apostolic traditions, other vain, futile, uncertain doctrines, not approved by the Church are accepted as true, on which very vain men mistakenly think that truth itself is supported and sustained.

Condemnation of the Works of George Hermes * 

[From the Brief "Dum acerbissimas," Sept. 26, 1835]

1618 To increase the anxieties by which we are overwhelmed day and night because of this (namely, persecutions of the Church), the following calamitous and highly lamentable circumstance is added: Among those who strive in behalf of religion by published works some dare to intrude themselves insincerely, who likewise wish to seem and who show that they are fighting on behalf of the same religion, in order that, though retaining the appearance of religion yet despising the truth, they can the more easily seduce and pervert the incautious "by philosophy" or by their false philosophic treatises "and vain deceit" [Col. 2:8], and hence deceive the people and extend helping hands more confidently to the enemies who openly rage against it (religion). Therefore, when the impious and insidious labors of any one of these writers have become known to us, we have not delayed by means of our encyclicals and other Apostolic letters to denounce their cunning and depraved plans, and to condemn their errors, and, at the same time, to expose the deadly deceits by which they very cunningly endeavor to overthrow completely the divine constitution of the Church and ecclesiastical discipline, nay, even the whole public order itself. Indeed, it has been proved by a very sad fact that at length, laying aside the veil of pretense, they have already raised on high the banner of hostility against whatever power has been established by God. 

1619 But this alone is not the most grievous cause for mourning. For in addition to those who, to the scandal of all Catholics, have given themselves over to the enemy, to add to our bitter sorrow we see some enter ing even into the study of theology who, through a desire and passion for novelty "ever learning and never attaining to the knowledge of the truth" [2 Tim. 3:7], are teachers of error, because they have not been disciples of truth. In fact, they infect sacred studies with strange and unapproved doctrines, and they do not hesitate to profane even the office of teacher, if they hold a position in the schools and academies; they are known to falsify the most sacred deposit of faith itself, while boasting that they are protecting it Among the teachers of this sort of error, because of his constant and almost universal reputation throughout Germany, George Hermes is numbered as one who boldly left the royal path, which universal tradition and the most Holy Fathers have marked out in explaining and vindicating the truths of faith; nay, even haughtily despising and condemning it, he is now building a darksome way to error of all kinds on positive doubt as a basis for all theological inquiry, and on the principle which states that reason is the chief norm and only medium whereby man can acquire knowledge of supernatural truths. . . .

1620 Therefore, we ordered that these books be handed over to the theologians most skilled in the German language to be diligently scrutinized in every part. . . . At length ... [the most Eminent Cardinal Inquisitors], weighing each and everything with great care, as the gravity of the matter demanded, judged that the author "was growing vain in his thoughts" [Rom. 1:21], and had woven into the said works many absurd ideas foreign to the teaching of the Catholic Church; but especially concerning the nature of faith and the rule of things to be believed, about Sacred Scripture, tradition, revelation, and the teaching office of the Church; about motives of credibility, about proofs by which the existence of God is wont to be established and confirmed; about the essence of God Himself, His holiness, justice, liberty, and His purpose in works which the theologians call external; and also about the necessity of grace, the distribution of it and of gifts, recompense of awards, and the infliction of penalties, about the state of our first parents, original sin, and the powers of fallen man; these same books, inasmuch as they contain doctrines and propositions respectively false, rash, captious, inducive to skepticism and indifferentism, erroneous, scandalous, injurious to Catholic schools, destructive of divine faith, suggesting heresy and other things condemned by the Church (the Most Eminent Cardinals) decree must be prohibited and condemned.

1621 And so we condemn and reject the aforesaid books wherever and in whatever idiom, in every edition or version so far published or to be published in the future, which God forbid, under tenor of these present letters, and we further command that they be placed on the Index of forbidden books. 


Faith and Reason (against Louis Eugene Bautain) * 

[Theses written by Bautain under order of his bishop, Sept. 8,


1622  1. Reason can prove with certitude the existence of God and the infinity of His perfections. Faith, a heavenly gift, is posterior to revelation; hence it cannot be brought forward against an atheist to prove the existence of God [cf. n.1650].

1623 2. The divinity of the Mosaic revelation is proved with certitude by the oral and written tradition of the synagogue and of Christianity.

1624  3. Proof drawn from the miracles of Jesus Christ, sensible and striking for eyewitnesses, has in no way lost its force and splendor as regards subsequent generations. We find this proof with all certitude in the authenticity of the New Testament, in the oral and written tradition of all Christians. By this double tradition we should demonstrate it (namely, revelation) to those who either reject it or, who, not having admitted it, are searching for it.

1625 4. We do not have the right to expect from an unbeliever that he admit the resurrection of our divine Savior before we shall have proposed definite proofs to him; and these proofs are deduced by reason from the same tradition.

1626 5. In regard to these various questions, reason precedes faith and should lead us to it [cf. n.1651].

1627 6. Although reason was rendered weak and obscure by original sin, yet there remained in it sufficient clarity and power to lead us with certitude to a knowledge of the existence of God, to the revelation made to the Jews by Moses, and to Christians by our adorable Man-God.*

The Matter of Extreme Unction *


[From the decree of the Sacred Office under Paul V,

Jan. 13. 1611, and Gregory XVI, Sept. 14, 1842]

1628  1. Proposition:"that without doubt the sacrament of extreme unctioncan be validly administered with oil not consecrated by episcopal blessing." The Sacred Office on fan. 13, 1611, declared:it is destructive and very close to error.

1629 2.Similarly, to the doubt:whether in a case of necessity as regards the validity of thesacrament of extreme unction, a parish priest could useoil blessed by himself.

 The Sacred Office, Sept. 14, 1842, replied:negatively, according to the form of the decree of Thursday in the presence of His Holiness, Jan. 13, 1611, which resolution Gregory XVI approved on the sameday.

Versions of Sacred Scripture* 

[From the Encyclical, "Inter praecipuas," May 6, 1844]

1630  . . . Indeed, you are aware that from the first ages called Christian ,it has been the peculiar artifice of heretics that, repudiating the traditional Word of God, and rejecting the authority of the Catholic Church ,they either falsify the Scriptures at hand, or alter the explanation of the meaning. In short, you are not ignorant of how much diligence andwisdomisneeded to translate faithfully into another tongue the words of the Lord; so that, surely, nothing could happen more easily than that in the versions of these Scriptures, multiplied by the Biblical societies, very grave errors creep in from the imprudence or deceit of so many translators; further, the very multitude and variety of those versions conceal these errors for a long time to the destruction of many. However, it is of little or no interest at all to these societies whether the men likely to read these Bibles translated into the vulgar tongue, fall into some errors rather than others, provided they grow accustomed little by little to claiming free judgment for themselves with regard to the sense of the Scriptures, and also to despising the divine tradition of the Fathers which has been guarded by the teaching of the Catholic Church, and to repudiating the teaching office itself of the Church.

1631 Toward this end those same Biblical associates do not cease to slander the Church and this Holy See of PETER, as if it were attempting for these many centuries to keep the faithful people from a knowledge of the Sacred Scriptures; although, on the other hand, there are extant many very illuminating documents of remarkable learning which the Supreme Pontiffs and other Catholic bishops under their leadership, have used in these more recent times, that Catholic peoples might be educated more exactly according to the written and traditional word of God.

1632  Among those rules, which have been written by the Fathers chosen by the Council of Trent and approved by Pius IV * . . . and set in the front part of the Index of prohibited books, in the general sanction of the statutes one reads that Bibles published in a vulgar tongue were not permitted to anyone, except to those to whom the reading of them was judged to be beneficial for the increase of their faith and piety. To this same rule, limited immediately by a new caution because of the persistent deceits of heretics, this declaration was at length appended by the authority of Benedict XIV, that permission is granted for reading vernacular versions which have been approved by the Apostolic See, or have been edited with annotations drawn from the Holy Fathers of the Church or from learned Catholic men. . . . All the aforesaid Biblical societies, condemned a short time ago by our predecessors, we again condemn with Apostolic authority. 

1633 Hence, let it be known to everyone that all those will be guilty of a very grave fault in the eyes of God and of the Church who persume to enroll in any one of these societies, or to adapt their work to them or to favor them in any way whatsoever.

PIUS IX 1846-1878

Faith and Reason *

[From the Encyclical, "Qui pluribus," Nov. 9, 1846]

1634 For you know, Venerable Brethren, that these hostile enemies of the Christian name, unhappily seized by a certain blind force of mad impiety, proceed with this rashness of thought that "opening their mouth unto blasphemies against God" [cf. Rev. 13:6] with a boldness utterly unknown, are not ashamed to teach openly and publicly that the most holy mysteries of our religion are the fictions and inventions of men; that the teaching of the Catholic Church is opposed [see n. 1740] to the good and to the advantage of society, and they do not fear even to abjure Christ Himself and God. And, to delude the people more easily and to deceive especially the incautious and the inexperienced, and to drag them with themselves into error, they pretend that the ways to prosperity are known to them alone; and do not hesitate to arrogate to themselves the name of philosophers, just as if philosophy, which is occupied wholly in investigating the truth of nature, ought to reject those truths which the supreme and most clement God Himself, author of all nature, deigned to manifest to men with singular kindness and mercy, in order that men might obtain true happiness and salvation.

1635 Hence, by a preposterous and deceitful kind of argumentation, they never cease to invoke the power and excellence of human reason, to proclaim it against the most sacred faith of Christ, and, what is more, they boldly prate that it (faith) is repugnant to human reason [see n. 1706]. Certainly, nothing more insane, nothing more impious, nothing more repugnant to reason itself can be imagined or thought of than this. For, even if faith is above reason, nevertheless, no true dissension or disagreement can ever be found between them, since both have their origin from one and the same font of immutable, eternal truth, the excellent and great God, and they mutually help one another so much that right reason demonstrates the truth of faith, protects it, defends it; but faith frees reason from all errors and, by a knowledge of divine things, wonderfully elucidates it, confirms, and perfects it [cf. n. 1799].

1636 And with no less deceit certainly, Venerable Brothers, those enemies of divine revelation, exalting human progress with the highest praise, with a rash and sacrilegious daring would wish to introduce it into the Catholic religion, just as if religion itself were not the work of God but of men, or were some philosophical discovery which can be perfected by human means [cf. n. 1705]. Against such unhappily raving men applies very conveniently, indeed, what Tertullian deservedly made a matter of reproach to the philosophers of his own time: "Who have produced a stoic and platonic and dialectic Christianity.''* And since, indeed, our most holy religion has not been invented by human reason but has been mercifully disclosed to men by God, thus everyone easily understands that religion itself acquires all its force from the authority of the same God speaking, and cannot ever be drawn from or be perfected by human reason.

1637 Indeed, human reason, lest it be deceived and err in a matter of so great importance, ought to search diligently for the fact of divine revelation so that it can know with certainty that God has spoken, and so render to Him, as the Apostle so wisely teaches, "a rational service" [ Rom. 12:1]. For who does not know, or cannot know that all faith is to be given to God who speaks, and that nothing is more suitable to reason itself than to acquiesce and firmly adhere to those truths which it has been established were revealed by God, who can neither deceive nor be deceived?

1638 But, how many, how wonderful, how splendid are the proofs at hand by which human reason ought to be entirely and most clearly convinced that the religion of Christ is divine, and that "every principle of our dogmas has received its root from above, from the Lord of the heavens,"* and that, therefore, nothing is more certain than our faith, nothing more secure, that there is nothing more holy and nothing which is supported on firmer principles. For, in truth, this faith is the teacher of life, the index of salvation, the expeller of all faults, and the fecund parent and nurse of virtues, confirmed by the birth, life, death, resurrection, wisdom, miracles, prophecies of its author and consummator, Christ Jesus; everywhere resplendent with the light of a supernatural teaching and enriched with the treasures of heavenly riches, especially clear and significant by the predictions of so many prophets, by the splendor of so many miracles, by the constancy of so many martyrs, by the glory of so many saints, revealing the salutary laws of Christ and acquiring greater strength every day from these most cruel persecutions, (this faith) has pervaded the whole earth by land and sea, from the rising to the setting of the sun, under the one standard of the Cross, and also, having overcome the deceits of idolaters and torn away the mist of errors and triumphed over enemies of every kind, it has illuminated with the light of divine knowledge all peoples, races, nations, howsoever barbarous in culture and different in disposition, customs, laws, and institutions; and has subjected them to the most sweet yoke of Christ Himself, "announcing peace" to all, "announcing good" [Isa. 52:7]. All of this certainly shines everywhere with so great a glory of divine wisdom and power that the mind and intelligence of each one clearly understands that the Christian Faith is the work of God.

1639 And so, human reason, knowing clearly and openly from these most splendid and equally strong proofs that God is the author of the same faith, can proceed no further; but, having completely cast aside and removed every difficulty and doubt, it should render all obedience to this faith, since it holds as certain that whatever faith itself proposes to man to be believed or to be done, has been transmitted by God.* 

Civil Marriage * 

[From the Allocution, "Acerbissimum vobiscum," Sept. 27, 1857]

1640 We say nothing about that other decree in which, after completely despising the mystery, dignity, and sanctity of the sacrament of matrimony; after utterly ignoring and distorting its institution and nature; and after completely spurning the power of the Church over the same sacrament, it was proposed, according to the already condemned errors of heretics, and against the teaching of the Catholic Church, that marriage should be considered as a civil contract only, and that divorce, strictly speaking, should be sanctioned in various cases (see n.1767); and that all matrimonial cases should be deferred to lay tribunals and be judged by them (see n.1774); because no Catholic is ignorant or cannot know that matrimony is truly and properly one of the seven sacraments of the evangelical law, instituted by Christ the Lord, and that for that reason, there can be no marriage between the faithful without there being at one and the same time a sacrament, and that, therefore, any other union of man and woman among Christians, except the sacramental union, even if contracted under the power of any civil law, is nothing else than a disgraceful and death-bringing concubinage very frequently condemned by the Church, and, hence, that the sacrament can never be separated from the conjugal agreement (see n. 1773), and that it pertains absolutely to the power of the Church to discern those things which can pertain in any way to the same matrimony.

Definition of the Immaculate Conception of the B.V.M. * 

[From the Bull, "Ineffabilis Deus," Dec. 8, 1854]

1641  . . . To the honor of the Holy and Undivided Trinity, to the glory and adornment of the Virgin Mother of God, to the exaltation of the Catholic Faith and the increase of the Christian religion, by the authority of our Lord Jesus Christ, of the blessed Apostles, Peter and Paul, and by Our own, We declare, pronounce, and define that the doctrine, which holds that the most Blessed Virgin Mary at the first instant of her conception, by a singular grace and privilege of Almighty God, in virtue of the merits of Christ Jesus, the Savior of the human race, was preserved immaculate from all stain of original sin, has been revealed by God, and on this account must be firmly and constantly believed by all the faithful. Wherefore, if any should presume to think in their hearts otherwise than as it has been defined by Us, which God avert, let them know and understand that they are condemned by their own judgment; that they have suffered shipwreck in regard to faith, and have revolted from the unity of the Church; and what is more, that by their own act they subject themselves to the penalties established by law, if, what they think in their heart, they should to signify by word or writing or any other external means.

Rationalism and Indifferentism*

[From the Allocution, "Singular) quadem," Dec. 9, 1854]

1642 There are, besides, Venerable Brothers, certain men pre-eminent in learning, who confess that religion is by far the most excellent gift given by God to men, who, nevertheless, hold human reason at so high a value, exalt it so much, that they very foolishly think that it is to be held equal to religion itself. Hence, according to the rash opinion of these men, theological studies should be treated in the same manner as philosophical studies [see n.1708], although, nevertheless, the former are based on the dogmas of faith, than which nothing is more fixed and certain, while the latter are explained and illustrated by human reason, than which nothing is more uncertain, inasmuch as they vary according to the variety of natural endowments and are subject to numberless errors and delusions. Therefore, the authority of the Church being rejected, a very broad field lies open to every difficult and abstract question, and human reason, trusting too freely in its own weak strength, has fallen headlong into most shameful errors, which there is neither time nor inclination to mention here; for, they are well known to you and have been examined by you, and they have brought harm, and that very great, to both religious and civil affairs. Therefore, it is necessary to show to those men who exalt more than is just the strength of human reason that it (their attitude) is definitely contrary to those true words of the Doctor of the Gentiles: "If any man think himself to be something, whereas he is nothing, he deceiveth himself" [Gal. 6:3]. And so it is necessary to show them how great is their arrogance in examining the mysteries which God in His great goodness has deigned to reveal to us, and in pretending to understand and to comprehend them by the weakness and narrowness of the human mind, since those mysteries far exceed the power of our intellect which, in the words of the same Apostle, should be made captive unto the obedience of faith [cf. 2 Cor. 10:5].

1643  And so, such followers, or rather worshipers of human reason, who set up reason as a teacher of certitude, and who promise themselves that all things will be fortunate under its leadership, have certainly forgotten how grave and terrible a wound was inflicted on human nature from the fault of our first parent; for darkness has spread over the mind, and the will has been inclined to evil. For this reason, the famous philosophers of ancient times, although they wrote many things very clearly, have nevertheless contaminated their teachings with most grave errors; hence that constant struggle which we experience in ourselves, of which the Apostle says: "I see a law in my members fighting against the law of my mind" [Rom. 7 23]

1644 Now, since it is agreed that by the original sin propagated in all the posterity of Adam, the light of reason has been decreased; and since the human race has most miserably fallen from its pristine state of justice and innocence, who could think that reason is sufficient to attain to truth? Who, lest he fall and be ruined in the midst of such great dangers and in such great weakness of his powers, would deny that he needs the aid of a divine religion, and of heavenly grace for salvation? These aids, indeed, God most graciously bestows on those who ask for them by humble prayer, since it is written: "God resisteth the proud and giveth grace to the humble" [ Jas. 4:6]. Therefore, turning toward the Father, Christ our Lord affirmed that the deepest secrets of truth have not been disclosed "to the wise and prudent of this world," who take pride in their own talents and learning, and refuse to render obedience to faith, but rather (have been revealed) to humble and simple men who rely and rest on the oracle of divine faith [cf.Matt. 11:25 ; Luke 10:21 ].

1645 You should inculcate this salutary lesson in the souls of those who exaggerate the strength of human reason to such an extent that they venture by its help to scrutinize and explain even mysteries, although nothing is more inept, nothing more foolish. Strive to withdraw them from such perversity of mind by explaining indisputably that nothing more excellent has been given by the providence of God to man than the authority of divine faith; that this is for us, as it were, a torch in the darkness, a guide which we follow to life; that this is absolutely necessary for salvation; for, "without faith . . . it is impossible to please God" [ Heb. 11:6] and "he that believeth not, shall be condemned"[Mark 16:16].

1646 Not without sorrow we have learned that another error, no less destructive, has taken possession of some parts of the Catholic world, and has taken up its abode in the souls of many Catholics who think that one should have good hope of the eternal salvation of all those who have never lived in the true Church of Christ [see n. 1717]. Therefore, they are wont to ask very often what will be the lot and condition after death of those who have not submitted in any way to the Catholic faith, and, by bringing forward most vain reasons, they make a response favorable to their false opinion. Far be it from Us, Venerable Brethren, to presume on the limits of the divine mercy which is infinite; far from Us, to wish to scrutinize the hidden counsel and "judgments of God" which are 'a great deep" [ Ps. 35:7] and cannot be penetrated by human thought. But, as is Our Apostolic duty, we wish your episcopal solicitude and vigilance to be aroused, so that you will strive as much as you can to drive from the mind of men that impious and equally fatal opinion, namely, that the way of eternal salvation can be found in any religion whatsoever. May you demonstrate with that skill and learning in which you excel, to the people entrusted to your care that the dogmas of the Catholic faith are in no wise opposed to divine mercy and justice. 

1647 For, it must be held by faith that outside the Apostolic Roman Church, no one can be saved; that this is the only ark of salvation; that he who shall not have entered therein will perish in the flood; but, on the other hand, it is necessary to hold for certain that they who labor in ignorance of the true religion, if this ignorance is invincible, are not stained by any guilt in this matter in the eyes of God. Now, in truth, who would arrogate so much to himself as to mark the limits of such an ignorance, because of the nature and variety of peoples, regions, innate dispositions, and of so many other things? For, in truth, when released from these corporeal chains "we shall see God as He is" [ 1 John 3:2], we shall understand perfectly by how close and beautiful a bond divine mercy and justice are united; but, as long as we are on earth, weighed down by this mortal mass which blunts the soul, let us hold most firmly that, in accordance with Catholic teaching, there is "one God, one faith, one baptism" [ Eph. 4:5 ]; it is unlawful to proceed further in inquiry.

1648 But, just as the way of charity demands, let us pour forth continual prayers that all nations everywhere may be converted to Christ; and let us be devoted to the common salvation of men in proportion to our strength, "for the hand of the Lord is not shortened" [Isa. 9:1] and the gifts of heavenly grace will not be wanting those who sincerely wish and ask to be refreshed by this light. Truths of this sort should be deeply fixed in the minds of the faithful, lest they be corrupted by false doctrines, whose object is to foster an indifference toward religion, which we see spreading widely and growing strong for the destruction of souls.

False Traditionalism (against Augustine Bonnetty) *

[From the Decree of the S.C. of the Index, 11, (15) June, 1855]

1649  1 "Although faith is above reason, nevertheless no true dissension, no disagreement can ever be found between them, since both arise from the one same immutable source of truth, the most excellent and great God, and thus bring mutual help to each other" * [cf. n.1635 and 1799]

1650 2. Reason can prove with certitude the existence of God, the spirituality of the soul, the freedom of man. Faith is posterior to revelation, and hence it cannot be conveniently alleged to prove the existence of God to an atheist, or to prove the spirituality and the freedom of the rational soul against a follower of naturalism and fatalism [cf. n.1622,1625 ].

1651 3. The use of reason precedes faith and leads men to it by the help of revelation and of grace [cf. n. 1626 ].

1652  4. The method which St. Thomas and St. Bonaventure and other scholastics after them used does not lead to rationalism, nor has it been the reason why philosophy in today's schools is falling into naturalism and pantheism. Therefore, it is not lawful to charge as a reproach against these doctors and teachers that they made use of this method, especially since the Church approves, or at least keeps silent.* 

The Misuse of Magnetism*

[From the Encyclical of the Holy Office, Aug. 4, 1856]

1653  . . Already some responses on this subject have been given by the Holy See to particular cases, in which those experiments are condemned as illicit which are arranged for a purpose not natural, not honest, and not attained by proper means; therefore, in similar cases it was decreed on Wednesday, April 21, 1841: "The use of magnetism, as it is explained, is not permitted." Similarly, the Sacred Congregation decreed that certain books stubbornly disseminating errors of this kind should be condemned. But because, aside from particular cases, the use of magnetism in general had to be considered, by way of a rule therefore it was so stated on Wednesday, July 28, 1847: "When all error, soothsaying, explicit or implicit invocation of the demon is removed, the use of magnetism, i.e., the mere act of employing physical media otherwise licit, is not morally forbidden, provided it does not tend to an illicit end or to one that is in any manner evil. However, the application of principles and purely physical means to things and effects truly supernatural, in order to explain them physically, is nothing but deception altogether illicit and heretical."

1654 Although by this general decree the lawfulness and unlawfulness in the use or misuse of magnetism were satisfactorily explained, nevertheless the wickedness of men grew to such an extent that neglecting the legitimate study of the science, pursuing rather the curious, with great loss to souls and detriment to civil society itself, they boast that they have discovered the principle of foretelling and divining. Thus, girls with the tricks of sleepwalking and of clear-gazing, as they call it, carried away by delusions and gestures not always modest, proclaim that they see the invisible, and they pretend with rash boldness to hold talks even about religion, to evoke the souls of the dead, to receive answers, to reveal the unknown and the distant, and to practice other superstitious things of that sort, intending to acquire great gain for themselves and for their masters through their divining. Therefore, in all these, whatever art or illusion they employ, since physical media are used for unnatural effects, there is deception altogether illicit and heretical, and a scandal against honesty of morals.* 

The False Doctrine of Anton Guenther*

[From the Brief, "Eximiam tuam" to Cardinal de Geissel. Archbishop of Cologne, June 15, 1857]

1655 Not without sorrow are We especially aware that in these books that erroneous and most dangerous system of rationalism, often condemned by this Apostolic See, is particularly dominant; and likewise we know that in the same books these items among many others are found, which are not a little at variance with the Catholic Faith and with the true explanation of the unity of the divine substance in three distinct, eternal Persons. Likewise, we have found that neither better nor more accurate are the statements made about the mystery of the Incarnate Word, and about the unity of the divine Person of the Word in two natures, divine and human. We know that in the same books there is harm to the Catholic opinion and teaching concerning man, who is so composed of body and soul that the soul, and that rational, may of itself be the true and immediate form of the body. * And we are not unaware that in the same books those teachings are stated and defended which are plainly opposed to the Catholic doctrine about the supreme liberty of God, who l is free from any necessity whatsoever in creating things.

1656 And also that extremely wicked and condemned doctrine which in Guenther's books rashly attributes the rights of a master both to human reason and philosophy, whereas they should be wholly handmaids, not masters in religious matters; and therefore all those things are disturbed which should remain most stable, not only concerning the distinction between science and faith, but also concerning the eternal immutability of faith, which is always one and the same, while philosophy and human studies are not always consistent, and are not immune to a multiple variety of errors.

1657  In addition, the Holy Fathers are not held in that reverence which the canons of the Councils prescribe, and which these splendid lights of the Catholic Church so altogether deserve, nor does he refrain from the slurring remarks against Catholic Schools, which Our predecessor of cherished memory, PIUS VI, solemnly condemned [see n.1576].

1658 Nor shall we pass over in silence that in Guenther's books "the sound form of speaking" is completely outraged, as if it were lawful to forget the words of the Apostle Paul [2 Tim. 1:13], or those which Augustine most earnestly advised: "It is right for us to speak according to a fixed rule, lest liberty with words give birth to an impious opinion, even about the things which are signified by them''* [see n.1714a].

Errors of the Ontologists*

[From the decree of the Sacred Office, Sept. 18, 1861, "they cannot be safely taught"]

1659 1. Immediate knowledge of God, habitual at least, is essential to the human intellect, so much so that without it the intellect can know nothing, since indeed it is itself intellectual light.

1660   2. That being which is in all things and without which we understand nothing, is the divine being.

1661 3. Universals considered on the part of the thing are not really distinguished from God.

1662  4. Congenital knowledge of God as being simply involves in an eminent way all other cognition, so that by it we hold as known implicitly all being, under whatever aspect it is knowable

1663 5. All other ideas do not exist except as modifications of the idea by which God is understood as Being simply.

1664 6. Created things exist in God as a part in the whole, not indeed in the formal whole, but in the infinite whole, the most simple, which puts its parts, as it were, without any division and diminution of itself outside itself.

1665 7. Creation can be thus explained: God, by that special act by which He knows Himself, and wills Himself as distinct from a determined creature, man, for example, produces a creature.

The False Freedom of Science (against James Frohschammer) *

[From the epistle, "Gravissimas inter,', to the Archbishop of Munich-Freising, 

Dec. 11, 1862]

1666 Amidst the terrible anguish by which we are pressed on all sides in the great restlessness and iniquity of these times, we are sorely grieved to learn that in various regions of Germany are found some men, even Catholics, who, betraying sacred theology as well as philosophy, do not hesitate to introduce a certain freedom of teaching and writing hitherto unheard of in the Church, and to profess openly and publicly new and altogether reprehensible opinions, and to disseminate them among the people.

1667 Hence, We were affected with no light grief, Venerable Brother, when the sad message reached Us that the priest, James Frohschammer, teacher of philosophy in the Academy at Munich, was displaying, beyond all the rest, freedom of teaching and writing in this manner, and was defending these most dangerous errors in his works that have been published. Therefore, with no delay We commanded Our Congregation appointed for censuring books to weigh with great diligence and care the particular volumes which are circulating under the name of the same priest, Frohschammer, and to report all findings to Us. These volumes written in German have the title: Introductio in Philophiam, De Libertate scientiae, Athenaeum, the first of which was published in the year 1858, the second in the year 1861, but the third at the turn of this year 1862, by the Munich press. And so the said Congregation . . . judged that the author in many matters does not think correctly, and that his doctrine is far from Catholic truth.

1668 And this, especially in a twofold direction; the first, indeed, because the author attributes such powers to human reason which are not at all appropriate to reason itself; and the second, because he grants to the same reason such liberty of judging all things, and of always venturing anything, that the rights of the Church itself, its office and authority are completely taken away.

1669 For the author teaches especially that philosophy, if a right notion of it is held, cannot only perceive and understand those Christian dogmas which natural reason has in common with faith (as, for instance, a common object of perception), but also those which particularly and properly affect Christian religion and faith, namely, the supernatural end of man, and all that is related to it; and also, that the most holy mystery of the Incarnation of the Lord belongs to the province of human reasoning and philosophy; and that reason, when this object is presented to it, can by its own proper principles, arrive at those (dogmas) with understanding. But, although the author makes some distinction between these (natural) dogmas and those (Christian), and assigns these latter with less right to reason, nevertheless, he clearly and openly teaches that these (Christian) dogmas also are contained among those which constitute the true and proper matter of science or philosophy. Therefore, according to the teaching of the same author, it can and should be definitely concluded that, even in the deepest mysteries of divine wisdom and goodness, nay, even of Its free will, granted that the object of revelation be posited, reason can of itself, no longer on the principle of divine authority, but on its own natural principles and strength, reach understanding or certitude. How "false" and "erroneous" this teaching of the author is, there is no one, even though lightly imbued with the rudiments of Christian doctrine, who does not see immediately and clearly understand.

1670 For, if these worshipers of philosophy were protecting the true and sole principles and rights of reason and philosophic study, they should certainly be honored with merited praise. Indeed, true and sound philosophy has its own most noble position, since it is the characteristic of such philosophy to search diligently into truth, and to cultivate and illustrate rightly and carefully human reason, darkened as it is by the guilt of the first man, but by no means extinct; and to perceive, to understand well, to advance the object of its cognition and many truths; and to demonstrate, vindicate, and defend, by arguments sought from its own principles, many of those truths, such as the existence, nature, attributes of God which faith also proposes for our belief; and, in this way, to build a road to those dogmas more correctly held by faith, and even to those more profound dogmas which can be perceived by faith alone at first, so that they may in some way be understood by reason. The exacting and most beautiful science of true philosophy ought, indeed, to do such things and to be occupied with them. If the learned men in the academies of Germany would make efforts to excel in this, in proportion to that peculiar well-known inclination of that nation to cultivate the more serious and exacting studies, their zeal would be approved and commended by Us, because they would be turning to the utility and progress of sacred things that which they have learned for their own uses.

1671 But, in truth, We can never tolerate that in so grave a matter as this surely is, that all things be rashly confused, and that reason should seize upon and disturb those things which pertain also to faith, since the limits beyond which reason in its own right has never advanced nor can advance, are fixed and well-known to all. To dogmas of this sort pertain particularly and openly all those which treat of the supernatural elevation of man and his supernatural intercourse with God, and which are known to have been revealed for this purpose. And surely, since these dogmas are above nature, the' cannot, therefore, be reached by natural reason and natural principles. For, indeed, reason by its own natural principles can never be made fit to handle scientifically dogmas of this sort. But, if those men dare to assert this rashly, let them know that they are withdrawing, not merely from the opinion of a few learned persons, but from the common and never changing doctrine of the Church.

1672 For, from the divine Scriptures and from the tradition of the Holy Fathers, it is agreed indeed that the existence of God and many other truths were known [cf. Rom. 1] by the natural light of reason, even by those who had not yet received the faith, but that God alone manifested those more hidden dogmas when He wished to make known "the mystery, which had been hidden from ages and generations" [Col. 1:26]. And in such a way indeed that, "at sundry times and in diverse manners He had formerly spoken to the fathers by the prophets, last of all . . . He might speak to us by His Son, . . . by whom He also made the world" [Heb. 1:1 f.]. For "no man hath seen God at any time: the only-begotten Son, who is in the bosom of the Father, he hath declared Him" [John 1:18]. Therefore, the Apostle who testifies that the gentiles knew God by those things which were made, discoursing about "grace and truth" which "came by Jesus Christ" [John 1:17], says, "We speak of the wisdom of God in a mystery, a wisdom which is hidden . . . which none of the princes of this world know . . . But to us God hath revealed them by His Spirit: for the Spirit searcheth all things, yea the deep things of God. For, what man knoweth the things of man but the spirit of a man that is in him? So the things also that are of God, no man knoweth but the Spirit of God" [1 Cor. 2:7 f].

1673 Adhering to these and other almost innumerable divine texts, the Holy Fathers, in transmitting the teaching of the Church, have constantly taken care to distinguish the knowledge of divine things which is common to all by the power of natural intelligence, from the knowledge of those things which is received on faith through the Holy Spirit; and they have continuously taught that through this (faith) those mysteries are revealed to us in Christ which transcend not only human philosophy but even the angelic natural intelligence, and which, although they are known through divine revelation and have been accepted by faith, nevertheless, remain still covered by the sacred veil of faith itself, and wrapped in an obscuring mist as long as we are absent from the Lord * in this mortal life. From all this, it is clear that the proposition of Frohschammer is wholly foreign to the teaching of the Catholic Church, since he does not hesitate to assert that all the dogmas of the Christian religion without discrimination are the object of natural science or philosophy, and that human reason, cultivated so much throughout history, provided these dogmas have been proposed to reason itself as an object, can from its own natural powers and principle, arrive at the true understanding concerning all, even the more hidden dogmas [see n. 1709].

1674 But now, in the said writings of this author another opinion prevails which is plainly opposed to the teaching and understanding of the Catholic Church. For, he attributes that freedom to philosophy which must be called not the freedom of science but an utterly reprobate and intolerable license of philosophy. For, having made a certain distinction between a philosopher and philosophy, he attributes to a "philosopher" the right and duty of submitting himself to the authority which he himself has approved as true, but he denies both (right and duty) to philosophy, so that taking no account of revealed doctrine he asserts that it (philosophy) ought never and can never submit itself to authority. And this might be tolerable and perhaps admissible, if it were said only about the right which philosophy has to use its own principles or methods, and its own conclusions, as also the other sciences, and if its liberty consisted in employing this right in such a way that it would admit nothing into itself which had not been acquired by it under its own conditions, or was foreign to it. But, such true freedom of philosophy must understand and observe its own limitations. For, it will never be permitted either to a philosopher, or to philosophy, to say anything contrary to those things which divine revelation and the Church teaches, or to call any of them into doubt because (he or it) does not understand them, or to refuse the judgment which the authority of the Church decides to bring forward concerning some conclusion of philosophy which was hitherto free.

1675 It also happens that the same author so bitterly, so rashly fights for the liberty, or rather the unbridled license of philosophy that he does not at all fear to assert that the Church not only ought never to pay any attention to philosophy, but should even tolerate the errors of philosophy itself, and leave it to correct itself [see n. 1711]; from which it happens that philosophers necessarily share in this liberty of philosophy and so even they are freed from all law. Who does not see how forcefully an opinion and teaching of this sort of Frohschammer's should be rejected, reproved, and altogether condemned? For the Church, from her divine institution, has the duty both to hold most diligently to the deposit of faith, whole and inviolate, and to watch continually with great earnestness over the salvation of souls, and with the greatest care to remove and eliminate all those things which can be opposed to faith or can in any way endanger the salvation of souls

1676 Therefore, the Church, by the power entrusted to it by its divine Founder, has not only the right, but particularly the duty of not tolerating but of proscribing and condemning all errors, if the integrity of faith and the salvation of souls so demand; and on every philosopher who wishes to be a son of the Church, and also on philosophy, it lays this duty--never to say anything against those things which the Church teaches, and to retract those about which the Church has warned them Moreover, We proclaim and declare that a doctrine which teaches the contrary is entirely erroneous and especially harmful to faith itself, to the Church and its authority.

Indifferentism *

[From the Encyclical, "Quanto conficiamur moerore," to the bishops of Italy,

Aug. 10, 1863] 

1677 And here, beloved Sons and Venerable Brothers, We should mention again and censure a very grave error in which some Catholics are unhappily engaged, who believe that men living in error, and separated from the true faith and from Catholic unity, can attain eternal life [see n. 1717]. Indeed, this is certainly quite contrary to Catholic teaching. It is known to Us and to you that they who labor in invincible ignorance of our most holy religion and who, zealously keeping the natural law and its precepts engraved in the hearts of all by God, and being ready to obey God, live an honest and upright life, can, by the operating power of divine light and grace, attain eternal life, since God who clearly beholds, searches, and knows the minds, souls, thoughts, and habits of all men, because of His great goodness and mercy, will by no means suffer anyone to be punished with eternal torment who has not the guilt of deliberate sin. But, the Catholic dogma that no one can be saved outside the Catholic Church is well-known; and also that those who are obstinate toward the authority and definitions of the same Church, and who persistently separate themselves from the unity of the Church, and from the Roman Pontiff, the successor of PETER, to whom "the guardianship of the vine has been entrusted by the Savior," * cannot obtain eternal salvation.

1678 But, God forbid that the sons of the Catholic Church ever in any way be hostile to those who are not joined with us in the same bonds of faith and love; but rather they should always be zealous to seek them out and aid them, whether poor, or sick, or afflicted with any other burdens, with all the offices of Christian charity; and they should especially endeavor to snatch them from the darkness of error in which they unhappily lie, and lead them back to Catholic truth and to the most loving Mother the Church, who never ceases to stretch out her maternal hands lovingly to them, and to call them back to her bosom so that, established and firm in faith, hope, and charity, and "being fruitful in every good work" [Col. 1:10], they may attain eternal salvation.

The Conventions of the Theologians of Germany *

[From the letter, "Tuas libenter," to the Archbishop 

of Munich-Freising, Dec. 21, 1863]

1679 . . . Indeed we were aware, Venerable Brother, that some Catholics who devote their time to cultivating the higher studies, trusting too much in the powers of human ability, have not been frightened by the dangers of errors, lest, in asserting the false and insincere liberty of science, they be snatched away beyond the limits beyond which the obedience due to the teaching power of the Church, divinely appointed to preserve the integrity of all revealed truth, does not permit them to proceed. Therefore, it happens that Catholics of this sort are unhappily deceived, and often agree with those who decry and protest against the decrees of this Apostolic See and of Our Congregations, that they (decrees) hinder the free progress of science [see n. 1712]; and they expose themselves to the danger of breaking those sacred ties of obedience by which, according to the will of God, they are bound to this same Apostolic See which has been appointed by God as the teacher and defender of truth.

1680 Nor, are We ignorant that in Germany also there prevailed a false opinion against the old school, and against the teaching of those supreme doctors [see n. 1713], whom the universal Church venerates because of their admirable wisdom and sanctity of life. By this false opinion the authority of the Church itself is called into danger, especially since the Church, not only through so many continuous centuries has permitted that theological science be cultivated according to the method and the principles of these same Doctors, sanctioned by the common consent of all Catholic schools, but it (the Church) also very often extolled their theological doctrine with the highest praises, and strongly recommended it as a very strong buttress of faith and a formidable armory against its enemies. . . . 

1681 Indeed, since all the men of this assembly, as you write, have asserted that the progress of science and its happy result in avoiding and refuting the errors of our most wretched age depend entirely on a close adherence to revealed truths which the Catholic Church teaches, they themselves have recognized and professed that truth, which true Catholics devoted to cultivating and setting forth knowledge, have always held and handed down. And so, relying on this truth, these wise and truly Catholic men could cultivate these sciences in safety, explain them, and make them useful and certain. And this could not be achieved if the light of human reason, circumscribed by limits in investigating those truths also which it can attain by its own powers and faculties, did not venerate above all, as is just, the infallible and uncreated light of the divine intellect which shines forth wonderfully everywhere in Christian revelation. For, although those natural disciplines rely on their own proper principles, apprehended by reason, nevertheless, Catholic students of these disciplines should have divine revelation before their eyes as a guiding star, by whose light they may guard against the quicksands of errors, when they discover that in their investigations and interpretations they can be led by them (natural principles)--as often happens---to profess those things which are more or less opposed to the infallible truth of things which have been revealed by God.

1682 Hence, We do not doubt that the men of this assembly, knowing and professing the truth mentioned above, have wished at one and the same time clearly to reject and repudiate that recent and preposterous method of philosophizing which, even if it admits divine revelation as an historical fact, nevertheless, submits the ineffable truths made known by divine revelation to the investigations of human reason; just as if those truths had been subject to reason, or, as if reason, by its own powers and principles, could attain understanding and knowledge of all the supernal truths and mysteries of our holy faith, which are so far above human reason that it can never be made fit to understand or demonstrate them by its own powers, and on its own natural principles [see n. 1709]. Indeed, We honor with due praise the men of this same convention because, rejecting, as We think, the false distinction between philosopher and philosophy, about which We have spoken in our other letter to you [see n. 1674], they have realized and professed that all Catholics in their learned interpretations should in conscience obey the dogmatic decrees of the infallible Catholic Church.

1683 While, in truth, We laud these men with due praise because they professed the truth which necessarily arises from their obligation to the Catholic faith, We wish to persuade Ourselves that they did not wish to confine the obligation, by which Catholic teachers and writers are absolutely bound, only to those decrees which are set forth by the infallible judgment of the Church as dogmas of faith to be believed by all [see n. 1722]. And We persuade Ourselves, also, that they did not wish to declare that that perfect adhesion to revealed truths, which they recognized as absolutely necessary to attain true progress in the sciences and to refute errors, could be obtained if faith and obedience were given only to the dogmas expressly defined by the Church. For, even if it were a matter concerning that subjection which is to be manifested by an act o f divine faith, nevertheless, it would not have to be limited to those matters which have been defined by express decrees of the ecumenical Councils, or of the Roman Pontiffs and of this See, but would have to be extended also to those matters which are handed down as divinely revealed by the ordinary teaching power of the whole Church spread throughout the world, and therefore, by universal and common consent are held by Catholic theologians to belong to faith.

1684 But, since it is a matter of that subjection by which in conscience all those Catholics are bound who work in the speculative sciences, in order that they may bring new advantages to the Church by their writings, on that account, then, the men of that same convention should recognize that it is not sufficient for learned Catholics to accept and revere the aforesaid dogmas of the Church, but that it is also necessary to subject themselves to the decisions pertaining to doctrine which are issued by the Pontifical Congregations, and also to those forms of doctrine which are held by the common and constant consent of Catholics as theological truths and conclusions, so certain that opinions opposed to these same forms of doctrine, although they cannot be called heretical, nevertheless deserve some theological censure.

The Unity of the Church *

[From the letter of the Sacred Office to the bishops of England, Sept. 16, 1864.]

1685 It has been made known to the Apostolic See that some Catholic laymen and ecclesiastics have enrolled in a society to "procure" as they say, the unity of Christianity, established at London in the year 1857, and that already many journalistic articles have been published, which are signed by the names of Catholics approving this society, or which are shown to be the work of churchmen commending this same society.

 But certainly, I need not say what the nature of this society is, and whither it is tending; this is easily understood from the articles of the newspaper entitled THE UNION REVIEW, and from that very page on which members are invited and listed. Indeed, formed and directed by Protestants, it is animated by that spirit which expressly avows for example, that the three Christian communions, Roman Catholic, Greekschismatic, and Anglican, however separated and divided from one another, nevertheless with equal right claim for themselves the name Catholic. Admission, therefore, into that society is open to all, wheresoever they may live, Catholics, Greek-schismatics, and Anglicans, under this condition, however, that no one is permitted to raise a question about the various forms of doctrine in which they disagree, and that it is right for each individual to follow with tranquil soul what is acceptable to his own religious creed. Indeed, the society itself indicates to all its members the prayers to be recited, and to the priests the sacrifices to be celebrated according to its own intention: namely, that the said three Christian communions, inasmuch as they, as it is alleged, together now constitute the Catholic Church, may at some time or other unite to form one body. . . . 

1686 The foundation on which this society rests is of such a nature that it makes the divine establishment of the Church of no consequence. For, it is wholly in this: that it supposes the true Church of Jesus Christ to be composed partly of the Roman Church scattered and propagated throughout the whole world, partly, indeed, of the schism of Photius, and of the Anglican heresy, to which, as well as to the Roman Church, "there is one Lord, one faith, and one baptism" [cf. Eph. 4:5]. Surely nothing should be preferable to a Catholic man than that schisms and dissensions among Christians be torn out by the roots and that all Christians be "careful to keep the unity of the Spirit in the bond of peace" [Eph. 4:3]. . . . But, that the faithful of Christ and the clergy should pray for Christian unity under the leadership of heretics, and, what is worse, according to an intention, polluted and infected as much as possible with heresy, can in no way be tolerated. The true Church of Jesus Christ was established by divine authority, and is known by a fourfold mark, which we assert in the Creed must be believed; and each one of these marks so clings to the others that it cannot be separated from them; hence it happens that that Church which truly is, and is called Catholic should at the same time shine with the prerogatives of unity, sanctity, and apostolic succession. Therefore, the Catholic Church alone is conspicuous and perfect in the unity of the whole world and of all nations, particularly in that unity whose beginning, root, and unfailing origin are that supreme authority and "higher principality''* of blessed PETER, the prince of the Apostles, and of his successors in the Roman Chair. No other Church is Catholic except the one which, founded on the one PETER, grows into one "body compacted and fitly joined together" [Eph. 4:16] in the unity of faith and charity. . . . 

1687 Therefore, the faithful should especially shun this London society, because those sympathizing with it favor indifferentism and engender scandal.

Naturalism, Communism, Socialism *

[From the Encyclical, "Quanta cura,'' Dec. 8, 1864]

1688 Moreover, although We have not failed to proscribe and frequently condemn the most important errors of this sort, nevertheless, the cause of the Catholic Church and the salvation of souls divinely entrusted to Us, and the good of human society itself, demand that We again arouse your pastoral solicitude to overcome other base opinions which spring from these same errors as from fountains. These false and perverted errors are to be the more detested because they have this goal in mind: to impede and remove that salutary force which the Catholic Church, according to the institution and command of her divine founder, must exercise freely "unto the consummation of the world" [Matt. 28:20], no less toward individual men, than toward nations, peoples, and their highest leaders; and to remove that mutual alliance of councils between the sacerdotal ministry and the government, and that "happy concord which has always existed, and is so salutary to sacred and civil affairs." * 

1689 For, surely you know, Venerable Brothers, that at this time not a few are found who, applying the impious and absurd principles of naturalism, as they call it, to civil society, dare to teach that "the best plan for public society, and civil progress absolutely requires that human society be established and governed with no regard to religion, as if it did not exist, or at least, without making distinction between the true and the false religions." And also, contrary to the teaching of Sacred Scripture, of the Church, and of the most holy Fathers, they do not hesitate to assert that "the best condition of society is the one in which there is no acknowledgment by the government of the duty of restraining, by established penalties, offenders of the Catholic religion, except insofar as the public peace demands."

1690 And, from this wholly false idea of social organization they do not fear to foster that erroneous opinion, especially fatal to the Catholic Church and to the salvation of souls, called * by Our predecessor of recent memory, GREGORY XVI, insanity; namely, that "liberty of conscience and of worship is the proper right of every man, and should be proclaimed and asserted by law in every correctly established society; that the right to all manner of liberty rests in the citizens, not to be restrained by either ecclesiastical or civil authority; and that by this right they can manifest openly and publicly and declare their own concepts, whatever they be, by voice, by print, or in any other way." While, in truth, they rashly affirm this, they do not understand and note that they are preaching a "liberty of perdition," * and that "if human opinions always have freedom for discussion, there could never be wanting those who will dare to resist truth, and to trust in the eloquence of human (al. mundane) wisdom, when faith and Christian wisdom know from the very teaching of our Lord Jesus Christ how much it should avoid such harmful vanity." *

1691 And since, when religion has been removed from civil society, and when the teaching and authority of divine revelation have been repudiated; or the true notion of justice and human right is obscured by darkness and lost; and when in place of true justice and legitimate right, material force is substituted, then it is clear why some, completely neglecting and putting aside the certain principles of sound reason, dare to exclaim: "The will of the people, manifested as they say by public opinion, or in some other way, constitutes the supreme law, freed from all divine and human right; and, that deeds consummated in the political order, by the very fact that they have been consummated, have the force of right." But who does not see and plainly understand that a society of men who are released from the bonds of religion and of true justice can have no other aim, surely, than the goal of amassing and heaping up wealth, and that it (society) can follow no other law in its actions except an uncontrolled cupidity of soul, a slave to its own pleasures and advantages ?

1692 Therefore, men of this sort pursue with bitter hatred religious orders, no matter how supremely deserving because of their Christian, civil, and literary work; and they cry out that these same orders have no legitimate reason for existing, and in this way approve the falsehoods of heretics. For, as Our predecessor of recent memory, PIUS VI, very wisely taught, "abolition of the regulars wounds the status of the public profession of the evangelical counsels; it injures the way of life approved in the Church as suitable to the apostolic teaching; it harms the most distinguished founders whom we venerate on our altars, who established these orders only when inspired by God.''*

1693 And they also make the impious pronouncement that from the citizens and the Church must be taken away the power "by which they can ask for alms openly in the cause of Christian charity," and also that the law should be repealed "by which on some fixed days, because of the worship of God, servile works are prohibited," pretending most deceitfully that the said power and law obstruct the principles of the best public economy. And, not content with removing religion from public society, they wish even to banish religion itself from private families.

1694 For, teaching and professing that most deadly error of communism and socialism, they assert that "domestic society or the family borrows the whole reason for its existence from the civil law alone; and, hence, all rights of parents over their children, especially the right of caring for their instruction and education, emanate from and depend wholly on the civil law."

1695 In these impious opinions and machinations these most deceitful men have this particular intention: that the saving doctrine and power of the Catholic Church be entirely eliminated from the instruction and training of youth, and that the tender and impressionable minds of youths may be unfortunately infected and ruined by every pernicious error and vice. For, all who have tried to disturb not only the ecclesiastical but also the public welfare, and to overturn the just order of society, and to destroy all rights, divine and human, have always formed all their evil plans, studies, and work to deceive and deprave especially unsuspecting youth, as we have intimated above, and have placed all their hopes in the corruption of youth. Therefore, they never cease to harass in every unspeakable way both clergy (secular and regular), from whom, as the genuine documents of history splendidly testify, have flowed so many great advantages for Christian, civil, and literary society; and they never cease to declare that the clergy "as an enemy to the true and useful progress of science and government, must be removed from all responsibility and duty of instructing and training youth."

1696 But, in truth, others, renewing the evil and so-many-times-condemned fabrications of the innovators, dare with signal impudence to subject the supreme authority of the Church and of this Apostolic See, given to it by Christ the Lord, to the judgment of the civil authority, and to deny all rights of the same Church and See with regard to those things which pertain to the exterior order.

1697 For, they are not at all ashamed to affirm that "the laws of the Church do not bind in conscience, except when promulgated by the civil power; that the acts and decrees of the Roman Pontiffs relating to religion and the Church, need the sanction and approval, or at least the assent, of the civil power; that the Apostolic Constitutions,* in which secret societies are condemned, whether an oath of secrecy is demanded in them or not, and their followers and sympathizers are punished with anathema, have no force in those regions of the world where societies of this sort are allowed by the civil government; that the excommunication uttered by the Council of Trent and the Roman Pontiffs against those who invade and usurp the rights and possessions of the Church rests upon a confusion between the spiritual order and the civil and political order for the attaining of a mundane good only; that the Church should decree nothing which could bind the consciences of the faithful in relation to the use of temporal goods; that to the Church does not belong the right to coerce by temporal punishments violators of its laws; that it is conformable to the principles of sacred theology, and to the principles of public law for the civil government to claim and defend the ownership of the goods which are possessed by churches, by religious orders, and by other pious places."

1698 Nor do they blush to profess openly and publicly the axiom and principle of heretics from which so many perverse opinions and errors arise. For they repeatedly say that "the ecclesiastical power is not by divine right distinct from and independent of the civil power, and that the distinction and independence of the same could not be preserved without the essential rights of the civil power being invaded and usurped by the Church." And, we cannot pass over in silence the boldness of those who "not enduring sound doctrine" [2 Tim. 4:3], contend that "without sin and with no loss of Catholic profession, one can withhold assent and obedience to those judgments and decrees of the Apostolic See, whose object is declared to relate to the general good of the Church and its rights and discipline, provided it does not touch dogmas of faith or morals." There is no one who does not see and understand clearly and openly how opposed this is to the Catholic dogma of the plenary power divinely bestowed on the Roman Pontiff by Christ the Lord Himself of feeding, ruling, and governing the universal Church.

1699 In such great perversity of evil opinions, therefore, We, truly mindful of Our Apostolic duty, and especially solicitous about our most holy religion, about sound doctrine and the salvation of souls divinely entrusted to Us, and about the good of human society itself, have decided to lift Our Apostolic voice again And so all and each evil opinion and doctrine individually mentioned in this letter, by Our Apostolic authority We reject, proscribe, and condemn; and We wish and command that they be considered as absolutely rejected, proscribed, and condemned by all the sons of the Catholic Church.