source of catholic dogma 1800-1900


1800 [The true progress of knowledge, both natural and revealed] .For, the doctrine of faith which God revealed has not been handed down as a philosophic invention to the human mind to be perfected, but has been entrusted as a divine deposit to the Spouse of Christ, to be faithfully guarded and infallibly interpreted. Hence, also, that understanding of its sacred dogmas must be perpetually retained, which Holy Mother Church has once declared; and there must never be recession from that meaning under the specious name of a deeper understanding [can. 3]. "Therefore . . . let the understanding, the knowledge, and wisdom of individuals as of all, of one man as of the whole Church, grow and progress strongly with the passage of the ages and the centuries; but let it be solely in its own genus, namely in the same dogma, with the same sense and the same understanding.'' * 


Canons (of the Catholic Faith)* 

1. God the Creator of all things 


1801 T.[Against all errors about the existence of God the Creator] . If anyone shall have denied the one true God, Creator and Lord of visible and invisible things: let him be anathema [cf. n. 1782 ].

1802 2. [Against materialism]. If anyone shall not be ashamed to affirm that nothing exists except matter: let him be anathema [cf. n. 1783]. 

1803 3.[Against pantheism] .If anyone shall say that one and the same thing is the substance or essence of God and of all things: let him be anathema [cf. n.1782 ].

1804 4.[ Against special forms of pantheism]. If anyone shall say that finite things, both corporeal and spiritual, or at least the spiritual, have emanated from the divine substance, or, that the divine essence by a manifestation or evolution of itself becomes all things, or, finally, that God is universal or indefinite being, because by determining Himself, He created all things distinct in genera, in species, and in individuals: let him be anathema.

1805 5. [ Against pantheists and materialists].If anyone does not confess that the world and all things which are contained in it, both spiritual and material, as regards their whole substance, have been produced by God from nothing [cf. n. 1783 ],

 [Against the Guentherians] , or,shall have said that God created not by a volition free of all necessity, but as necessarily as He necessarily loves Himself [cf. n. 1783],

 [ Against the Guentherians and the Hermesians],or, shall have denied that the world was created to the glory of God: let him be anathema.


2. Revelation 

1806 1. [Against those denying natural theology]. If anyone shall have said that the one true God, our Creator and our Lord, cannot be known with certitude by those things which have been made, by the natural light of human reason: let him be anathema [cf. 1785].

1807 2. [Against the deists ] .If anyone shall have said that it is not possible nor expedient that through divine relation man be taught about God and the worship to be given to Him: let him be anathema [cf. n.1786 ].

1808 3. [Against the Progressionists]. If anyone shall have said that man cannot be drawn by divine power to a knowledge and perfection which is above the natural, but that he of himself can and ought to reach the possession of all truth and good by a continual progress: let him be anathema.

1809 4. If anyone shall not accept the entire books of Sacred Scripture with all their divisions, just as the sacred Synod of Trent has enumerated them [see n.783 f.], as canonical and sacred, or denies that they have been inspired by God: let him be anathema.

3. Faith

1810 1. [Against the autonomy of reason]. If anyone shall have said that human reason is so independent that faith cannot be enjoined upon it by God: let him be anathema [cf. n. 1789 ].

1811  2. [Some things must be held as true, which reason itself does not draw from itself]. If anyone shall have said, that divine faith is not distinguished from a natural knowledge of God and moral things, and that therefore it is not necessary to divine faith that revealed truth be believed because of the authority of God Who reveals it: let him be anathema [cf. n1789 ]

1812  3. [In faith itself the rights of reason must be preserved]. If anyone shall have said that divine revelation cannot be made credible by external signs, and for this reason men ought to be moved to faith by the internal experience alone of each one, or by private inspiration: let him be anathema [cf. n. 1790].

1813  4. [The demonstrability of revelation]. If anyone shall have said that miracles are not possible, and hence that all accounts of them, even those contained in Sacred Scripture, are to be banished among the fables and myths; or, that miracles can never be known with certitude, and that the divine origin of the Christian religion cannot be correctly proved by them: let him be anathema [cf. n. 1790].

1814  5. [The liberty of faith and the necessity of grace: against Hermes (see n.1618 ff.) ]. If anyone shall have said that the assent of the Christian faith is not free, but is necessarily produced by proofs from human reasoning; or, that the grace of God is necessary only for that living faith "which worketh by charity" [ Gal. 5:6]: let him be anathema [cf. n 1791]

1815 6. [Against the positive doubt of Hermes (see n.1619 )]. If anyone shall have said that the condition of the faithful and of those who have not yet come to the true faith is equal, so that Catholics can have a justcause of doubting the faith which they have accepted under the teaching power of the Church, by withholding assent until they have completed the scientific demonstration of the credibility and truth of their faith: let him be anathema [cf. n. 1794].

4. Faith and reason

[ Against the pseudo-philosophers and the pseudo-theologians, concerning whom see n. 1679 ff.]

1816 1. If anyone shall have said that no true mysteries properly so-called are contained in divine revelation, but that all the dogmas of faith can be understood and proved from natural principles, through reason properly cultivated: let him be anathema [cf. n.1795f.].

1817 2. If anyone shall have said that the human sciences should be treated with such liberty that their assertions, although opposed to revealed doctrine, can be retained as true, and cannot be proscribed by the Church: let him be anathema [cf. n.1797-1799].

1818 3. If anyone shall have said that it is possible that to the dogmas declared by the Church a meaning must sometimes be attributed according to the progress of science, different from that which the Church has understood and understands: let him be anathema [cf. n.1800].

1819 And so, fulfilling the obligation of Our supreme pastoral office, by the incarnation of Jesus Christ We beseech all the faithful of Christ, but especially those who have charge of, or who perform the duty of teaching; and in fact, by the authority of Our same God and Savior, We command that they bring their zeal and labor to arrest and banish these errors from Holy Church, and to extend the light of a most pure faith.

1820 But, since it is not sufficient to shun heretical iniquity unless these errors also are shunned which come more or less close to it, we remind all of the duty of observing also the constitutions and decrees by which base opinions of this sort, which are not enumerated explicitly here, have been proscribed and prohibited by this Holy See.

SESSION IV (July 18, 1870)*

Dogmatic Constitution I on the Church of Christ

1821 [The institution and foundation of the Church]. "The eternal Pastor and Bishop of our souls" [ 1 Pet. 2:25], in order to render the saving work of redemption perennial, willed to build a holy Church, in which, as in the house of the living God, all the faithful might be contained by the bond of one faith and charity. Therefore, before His glory was made manifest, "He asked the Father, not only for the Apostles but also for those who would believe through their word in Him, that all might be one, just as the Son Himself and the Father are one" [ John 17:20 f.]. Thus, then, as He sent the apostles, whom He had selected from the world for Himself, as He himself had been sent by the Father [ John 20:21], so in His Church He wished the pastors and the doctors to be "even to the consummation of the world" [ Matt. 28:20]. But, that the episcopacy itself might be one and undivided, and that the entire multitude of the faithful through priests closely connected with one another might be preserved in the unity of faith and communion, placing the blessed Peter over the other apostles He established in him the perpetual principle and visible foundation of both unities, upon whose strength the eternal temple might be erected, and the sublimity of the Church to be raised to heaven might rise in the firmness of this faith. * And, since the gates of hell, to overthrow the Church, if this were possible, arise from all sides with ever greater hatred against its divinely established foundation, We judge it to be necessary for the protection, safety, and increase of the Catholic flock, with the approbation of the Council, to set forth the doctrine on the institution, perpetuity, and nature of the Sacred Apostolic Primacy, in which the strength and solidarity of the whole Church consist, to be believed and held by all the faithful, according to the ancient and continual faith of the universal Church, and to proscribe and condemn the contrary errors, so pernicious to the Lord's flock.


Chap. 1. The Institution of Apostolic Primacy in Blessed Peter

1822 [Against heretics and schismatics]. So we teach and declare that according to the testimonies of the Gospel the primacy of jurisdiction over the entire Church of God was promised and was conferred immediately and directly upon the blessed Apostle Peter by Christ the Lord. For the one Simon, to whom He had before said: "Thou shalt be called Cephas" [John 1:42], after he had given forth his confession with those words: "Thou art Christ, Son of the living God" [Matt. 16:16], the Lord spoke with these solemn words: "Blessed art thou, Simon Bar Jona; because flesh and blood hath not revealed it to thee, but my Father who is in heaven. And I say to thee: That thou art Peter, and upon this rock I will build my church, and the gates of hell shall not prevail against it: and I shall give to thee the keys of the kingdom of heaven. And whatsoever thou shalt bind upon earth, it shall be bound also in heaven: and whatsoever thou shalt loose upon earth, it shall be loosed also in heaven" [Matt. 16:17 ff.]. [against Richerius etc. (see n. 1503)]. And upon Simon Peter alone Jesus after His resurrection conferred the jurisdiction of the highest pastor and rector over his entire fold, saying: "Feed my lambs," "Feed my sheep" [ John 21:15 ff.]. To this teaching of Sacred Scriptures, so manifest as it has been always understood by the Catholic Church, are opposed openly the vicious opinions of those who perversely deny that the form of government in His Church was established by Christ the Lord; that to Peter alone, before the other apostles, whether individually or all together, was confided the true and proper primacy of jurisdiction by Christ; or, of those who affirm that the same primacy was not immediately and directly bestowed upon the blessed Peter himself, but upon the Church, and through this Church upon him as the minister of the Church herself.

1823  [Canon]. If anyone then says that the blessed Apostle Peter was not established by the Lord Christ as the chief of all the apostles, and the visible head of the whole militant Church, or, that the same received great honor but did not receive from the same our Lord Jesus Christ directly and immediately the primacy in true and proper jurisdiction: let him be anathema.

Chap. 2. The Perpetuity of the Primacy of Blessed Peter among the Roman Pontiffs

1824 Moreover, what the Chief of pastors and the Great Pastor of sheep, the Lord Jesus, established in the blessed Apostle Peter for the perpetual salvation and perennial good of the Church, this by the same Author must endure always in the Church which was founded upon a rock and will endure firm until the end of the ages. Surely "no one has doubt, rather all ages have known that the holy and most blessed Peter, chief and head of the apostles and pillar of faith and foundation of the Catholic Church, received the keys of the kingdom from our Lord Jesus Christ, the Savior and Redeemer of the human race; and he up to this time and always lives and presides and exercises judgment in his successors, the bishops of the holy See of Rome, which was founded by him and consecrated by his blood, [cf. Council of Ephesus, see n. 112]. Therefore, whoever succeeds Peter in this chair, he according to the institution of Christ himself, holds the primacy of Peter over the whole Church. "Therefore the disposition of truth remains, and blessed Peter persevering in the accepted fortitude of the rock does not abandon the guidance of the Church which he has received.'' * For this reason "it has always been necessary because of mightier pre-eminence for every church to come to the Church of Rome, that is those who are the faithful everywhere," * so that in this See, from which the laws of "venerable communion" * emanate over all, they as members associated in one head, coalesce into one bodily structure.

1825   [Canon]. If anyone then says that it is not from the institution of Christ the Lord Himself, or by divine right that the blessed Peter has perpetual successors in the primacy over the universal Church, or that the Roman Pontiff is not the successor of blessed Peter in the same primacy, let him be anathema.


Chap. 3. The Power and Manner of the Primacy of the Roman Pontiff

1826  [Assertion of primacy]. Therefore, relying on the clear testimonies of Sacred Scripture, and adhering to the eloquent and manifest decisions not only of Our predecessors, the Roman Pontiffs, but also of the general Councils, We renew the definition of the Ecumenical Council of Florence, by which all the faithful of Christ most believe "that the Apostolic See and the Roman Pontiff hold primacy over the whole world, and that the Pontiff of Rome himself is the successor of the blessed Peter, thechief of the apostles, and is the true vicar of Christ and head of the whole Church and faith, and teacher of all Christians; and that to him was handed down in blessed Peter, by our Lord Jesus Christ, full power to feed, rule, and guide the universal Church, just as is also contained in the records of the ecumenical Councils and in the sacred canons" [see n.694].

1827 [Consequences denied by innovators]. Furthermore We teach and declare that the Roman Church, by the disposition of the Lord, holds the sovereignty of ordinary power over all others, and that this power of jurisdiction on the part of the Roman Pontiff, which is truly episcopal, is immediate; and with respect to this the pastors and the faithful of whatever rite and dignity, both as separate individuals and all together, are bound by the duty of hierarchical subordination and true obedience, not only in things which pertain to faith and morals, but also in those which pertain to the discipline and government of the Church [which is] spread over the whole world, so that the Church of Christ, protected not only by the Roman Pontiff, but by the unity of communion as well as of the profession of the same faith is one flock under the one highest shepherd. This is the doctrine of Catholic truth from which no one can deviate and keep his faith and salvation.

1828 [The jurisdiction of the Roman Pontiff and of the bishops]. This power of the Supreme Pontiff is so far from interfering with that power of ordinary and immediate episcopal jurisdiction by which the bishops, who, "placed by the Holy Spirit" [cf. Acts 20:28], have succeeded to the places of the apostles, as true shepherds individually feed and rule the individual flocks assigned to them, that the same (power) is asserted, confirmed, and vindicated by the supreme and universal shepherd, according to the statement of Gregory the Great: "My honor is the universal honor of the Church. My honor is the solid vigor of my brothers. Then am I truly honored, when the honor due to each and everyone is not denied.'' * 

1829 [Free communication with all the faithful]. Furthermore, it follows that from that supreme power of the Roman Pontiff of ruling the universal Church, the same has the right in the exercise of this duty of his office of communicating freely with the pastors and flocks of the whole Church, so that the same can be taught and guided by him in the way of salvation. Therefore, We condemn and disapprove the opinions of those who say that this communication of the supreme head with pastors and flocks can lawfully be checked, or who make this so submissive to secular power that they contend that whatever is established by the Apostolic See or its authority for the government of the Church has no force or value unless confirmed by an order of the secular power [Placitum regium, see n. 1847].

1830  [Recourse to the Roman Pontiff as the supreme judge]. And since the Roman Pontiff is at the head of the universal Church by the divine right of apostolic primacy, We teach and declare also that he is the supreme judge of the faithful [cf. n.1500 ], and that in all cases pertaining to ecclesiastical examination recourse can be had to his judgment [cf. n. 466 ]; moreover, that the judgment of the Apostolic See, whose authority is not surpassed, is to be disclaimed by no one, nor is anyone permitted to pass judgment on its judgment [cf. n.330 ff.]. Therefore, they stray from the straight path of truth who affirm that it is permitted to appeal from the judgments of the Roman Pontiffs to an ecumenical Council, as to an authority higher than the Roman Pontiff.

1831  [Canon]. If anyone thus speaks, that the Roman Pontiff has only the office of inspection or direction, but not the full and supreme power of jurisdiction over the universal Church, not only in things which pertain to faith and morals, but also in those which pertain to the discipline and government of the Church spread over the whole world; or, that he possesses only the more important parts, but not the whole plenitude of this supreme power; or that this power of his is not ordinary and immediate, or over the churches altogether and individually, and over the pastors and the faithful altogether and individually: let him be anathema.

Chap. 4. The Infallible "Magisterium" of the Roman Pontiff

1832  [Arguments from public documents]. Moreover, that by the very apostolic primacy which the Roman Pontiff as the successor of Peter, the chief of the Apostles, holds over the universal Church, the supreme power of the magisterium is also comprehended, this Holy See has always held, the whole experience of the Church approves, and the ecumenical Councils themselves, especially those in which the Last convened with the West in a union of faith and charity, have declared.

1833 For the fathers of the fourth council of Constantinople, adhering to the ways of the former ones, published this solemn profession: "Our first salvation is to guard the rule of right faith [. . .]. And since the sentiment of our Lord Jesus Christ cannot be passed over when He says: 'Thou art Peter; and upon this rock I will build my church' [Matt. 16:18], these words which were spoken are proven true by actual results, since in the Apostolic See the Catholic religion has always been preserved untainted, and holy doctrine celebrated. Desiring, then, least of all to be separated from the faith and teaching of this [Apostolic See], We hope that We may deserve to be in the one communion which the Apostolic See proclaims,in which the solidarity of the Christian religion is whole and true" *

1834 [cf. n. 171 f.]. Moreover, with the approval of the second council of Lyons, the Greeks have professed, "that the Holy Roman Church holds the highest and the full primacy and pre-eminence over the universal Catholic Church, which it truthfully and humbly professes it has received with plenitude of power from the Lord Himself in blessed Peter, the chief or head of the Apostles, of whom the Roman Pontiff is the successor; and, just as it is bound above others to defend the truth of

1835  faith, so, too, if any questions arise about faith, they should be defined by its judgment" [cf. n.466]. Finally, the Council of Florence has defined: "That the Roman Pontiff is the true vicar of Christ and head of the whole Church and the father and teacher of all Christians; and to it in the blessed Peter has been handed down by the Lord Jesus Christ the full power of feeding, ruling, and guiding the universal Church" [see n.694].

1836  [Argument from the assent of the Church]. To satisfy this pastoral duty, our predecessors always gave tireless attention that the saving doctrine of Christ be spread among all the peoples of the earth, and with equal care they watched that, wherever it was received, it was preserved sound and pure. Therefore, the bishops of the whole world, now individually, now gathered in Synods, following a long custom of the churches and the formula of the ancient rule, referred to this Holy See those dangers particularly which emerged in the affairs of faith, that there especially the damages to faith might be repaired where faith cannot experience a failure. * The Roman Pontiffs, moreover, according as the condition of the times and affairs advised, sometimes by calling ecumenical Councils or by examining the opinion of the Church spread throughout the world; sometimes by particular synods, sometimes by employing other helps which divine Providence supplied, have defined that those matters must be held which with God's help they have recognized as in agreement with Sacred Scripture and apostolic tradition. For, the Holy Spirit was not promised to the successors of Peter that by His revelation they might disclose new doctrine, but that by His help they might guard sacredly the revelation transmitted through the apostles and the deposit of faith, and might faithfully set it forth. Indeed, all the venerable fathers have embraced their apostolic doctrine, and the holy orthodox Doctors have venerated and followed it, knowing full well that the See of St. Peter always remains unimpaired by any error, according to the divine promise of our Lord the Savior made to the chief of His disciples: "I have prayed for thee, that thy faith fail not: and thou, being once converted, confirm thy brethren" [Luke 22:32].

1837 So, this gift of truth and a never failing faith was divinely conferred upon Peter and his successors in this chair, that they might administer their high duty for the salvation of all; that the entire flock of Christ, turned away by them from the poisonous food of error, might be nourished on the sustenance of heavenly doctrine, that with the occasion of schism removed the whole Church might be saved as one, and relying on her foundation might stay firm against the gates of hell.

1838 [Definition of infallibility]. But since in this very age, in which the salutary efficacy of the apostolic duty is especially required, not a few are found who disparage its authority, We deem it most necessary to assert solemnly the prerogative which the Only-begotten Son of God deigned to enjoin with the highest pastoral office.

1839 And so We, adhering faithfully to the tradition received from the beginning of the Christian faith, to the glory of God, our Savior, the elevation of the Catholic religion and the salvation of Christian peoples, with the approbation of the sacred Council, teach and explain that the dogma has been divinely revealed: that the Roman Pontiff, when he speaks ex cathedra, that is, when carrying out the duty of the pastor and teacher of all Christians by virtue of his supreme apostolic authority he defines a doctrine of faith or morals to be held by the universal Church, through the divine assistance promised him in blessed Peter, operates with that infallibility with which the divine Redeemer wished that His church be instructed in defining doctrine on faith and morals; and so such definitions of the Roman Pontiff from himself, but not from the consensus of the Church, are unalterable.

1840   [Canon]. But if anyone presumes to contradict this definition of Ours, which may God forbid: let him be anathema.

Twofold Power on Earth * 

[From the Encyclical, "Etsi multa luctuosa," Nov. 2, 1873]

1841 Faith (however) teaches and human reason demonstrates that a two- fold order of things exists, and that at the same time two powers are to be distinguished on earth, one naturally which looks out for the tranquillity of human society and secular affairs, but the other, whose origin is above nature, which presides over the city of God, namely, the Church of Christ, divinely established for the peace and the eternal salvation of souls. Moreover, these duties of the twofold power have been very wisely ordained, that "the things that are God's may be rendered to God," and, on account of God, "to Caesar the things that are Caesar's" [ Matt. 22:21], who "is great on this account, because he is less than heaven; for he himself belongs to Him to whom belong heaven and every creature.''* And from him, surely by divine mandate, the Church has never turned aside, which always and everywhere strives to nurture obedience in the souls of her faithful; and they should inviolably keep, (this obedience) to the supreme princes and their laws insofar as they are secular; and, with the Apostle it has taught that princes "are not a terror to the good work, but to the evil," ordering the faithful "to be subject not only for wrath," because the prince "beareth not the sword as an avenger to execute wrath upon him that cloth evil, but also for conscience' sake," because in his office "he is God's minister" [Rom. 13:3 ff.]. Moreover, it itself has restricted this fear of princes to evil works, plainly excluding the same from the observance of the divine law, mindful of that which blessed Peter taught the faithful: "But let none of you suffer as a murderer, or a thief, or a railer, or a coveter of other men's things. But if as a Christian, let him not be ashamed, but let him glorify God in that name" [ 1 Pet.4:15f ]

The Liberty of the Church *

[From the Encyclical, "Quod nunquam," to the bishops of Prussia, February 5, 1875]


1842 We intend to fulfill parts of Our duty through this letter, announcing to all to whom this matter pertains, and to the whole Catholic world, that those laws are invalid, namely, which are utterly opposed to the constitution of the divine Church. For, the Lord of holy things did not place the powerful of this world over the bishops in these matters which pertain to the holy ministry, but blessed Peter to whom he commended not only His lambs but also His sheep to be fed [cf. John 21:16, 17]; and so by no worldly power, however elevated, can they be deprived of their episcopal office "whom the Holy Ghost hath placed as bishops to rule the Church of God" [cf.Acts 20:28]. Moreover, let those who are hostile to you know that in refusing to pay to Caesar what belongs to God, you are not going to bring any injury to royal authority, nor to detract anything from it; for it is written: "We ought to obey God, rather than men" [Acts 5:29]; and at the same time let them know that everyone of you is prepared to give tribute and obedience to Caesar, not for wrath, but for conscience [cf.Rom. 13:5 f.] in those matters which are under civil authority and power.


Explanation of Transubstantiation*

[From the Decree of the Holy Office, July 7, 1875]

 Reply to the question: "Whether the explanation of transubstantiation in the sacrament of the most holy Eucharist can be tolerated, which is comprehended by the following propositions:

1843  1. Just as the formal reason for hypostasis is "to be through itself," or, "to subsist through itself," so the formal reason for substance is "to be in itself" and "actually not to be sustained in another as the first subject"; for, rightly are those two to be distinguished: "to be through itself" (which is the formal reason for hypostasis), and "to be in itself" (which is the formal reason for substance).

1844  2. Therefore, just as human nature in Christ is not hypostasis, because it does not subsist through itself but is assumed from a superior divine hypostasis, so finite substance, for example, the substance of bread, ceases to be substance by this alone and without any change of itself, because it is sustained supernaturally in another, so that it is not already in itself, but in another as in a first subject.

1845 3. Thus, transubstantiation, or the conversion of the entire substance of bread into the substance of the body of Christ our Lord, can be explained in this way, that the body of Christ, while it becomes substantially present in the Eucharist, sustains the nature of bread, which by this very fact and without any change in itself ceases to be substance, because it is not now in itself, but in another sustaining; and, indeed, the nature of bread remains, but in it the formal reason for substance ceases; and so there are not two substances, but one only, that, of course, of the body of Christ.

1846 4. Therefore, in the Eucharist the matter and form of the elements of bread remain; but now, existing supernaturally in another, they do not have the nature of substance, but they have the nature of supernatural accident, not as if in the manner of natural accidents they affected the body of Christ, but on this account, insofar as they are sustained by the body of Christ in the manner in which it has been said."

  The reply is that "the doctrine of transubstantiation, as it is set forth here, cannot be tolerated."

Royal Assent * 


[From the Allocution, "Luctuosis exagitati," March 12, 1877]


1847  . . . Very recently We have been forced to declare that the following can be tolerated: that the acts of the canonical institution of certain bishops be shown to a secular power, so that, as far as We could, We might avert certain baneful consequences, in which there was no longer question of the possession of temporal goods, but of the consciences of the faithful, their peace, the care and salvation of souls, which is the supreme law for us, and which were called into open risk. But in this which We have done in order to avoid most serious dangers, We wish it to be known publicly and again that We entirely disapprove and abominate that unjust law which is called "royal assent," declaring openly that by it the divine authority of the Church is harmed and its liberty violated. . . . [see n. 1829 ].

LEO XIII 1878-1903

The Reception of Converted Heretics *

[From the Decree of the Holy Office, Nov. 20, 1878]

1848 To the question: "Whether baptism should be conferred conditionally on heretics who are converted to the Catholic religion, from whatever locality they come, and to whatever sect they pertain?" The reply is: "In the negative. But in the conversion of heretics, from whatever place or from whatever sect they come, inquiry should be made regarding the validity of the baptism in the heresy which was adopted. Then after the examination has been established in individual cases, if it is found either that none was conferred, or it was conferred without effect, they shall have to be baptized absolutely. But if according to circumstances and by reason of the localities, after the investigation has been completed, nothing is discovered in favor either of validity or invalidity, or, probable doubt still exists regarding the validity of the baptism, then let them be baptized conditionally, in secret. Finally, if it shall be established that it was valid, they will have to be received only for the profession of faith."

Socialism *

[From the Encyclical, "Quod Apostolici muneris," Dec. 28, 1878]

1849 From the records of the Gospels the equality of men consists in this, that all have received the same nature, and are called to the same highest dignity of the sons of God; and at the same time that, since the same end is established for all, each is to be judged individually according to the same law, to obtain punishments or rewards according to merit. An inequality of right and power, however, emanates from the very author of nature, "from whom all paternity in heaven and earth is named" [Eph. 3:15]. But the souls of princes and subjects, according to Catholic doctrine and precepts, are so bound by mutual duties and rights that both the passion for ruling is tempered and the way of obedience is made easy, steadfast, and most noble. . . . 

1850 If, however, it should ever happen that public power is exercised by princes rashly and beyond measure, the doctrine of the Catholic Church does not permit rising up against them on one's own terms, lest quiet and order be more and more disturbed, or lest society receive greater harm therefrom. Whenever matters have come to such a pass that no other hope of a solution is evident, it teaches that a remedy is to be hastened through the merits of Christian patience, and by urgent prayers to God. But if the decisions of legislators and princes should sanction or order something that is contrary to divine and natural law, the dignity and duty of the Christian name and the opinion of the apostles urge that "we ought to obey God, rather than men" [ Acts 5:29].

1851 But also, Catholic wisdom most skillfully provides for public and domestic tranquillity, supported by the precepts of divine law, through what it holds and teaches concerning the right of ownership and the distribution of goods which have been obtained for the necessities and uses of life. For when Socialists proclaim the right of property to be a human invention repugnant to the natural equality of man, and, seeking to establish community of goods, think that poverty is by no means to be endured with equanimity; and that the possessions and rights of the rich can be violated with impunity, the Church, much more properly and practically, recognizes inequality among men, who are naturally different in strength of body and of mind; also in the possession of goods, and it orders that right of property and of ownership, which proceeds from nature itself, be for everyone intact and inviolate; for it knows that theft and raping have been forbidden by God, the author and vindicator of every right, in such a way that one may not even look attentively upon (al.: covet) the property of another, and "that thieves and robbers, no less than adulterers and idolators are excluded from the kingdom of heaven" [cf. 1 Cor. 6:9f.].

1852 And yet she does not on this account neglect the care of the poor, or, as a devoted mother, fail to take thought for their necessities; but rather, embracing them with maternal affection, and realizing well that they represent the person of Christ Himself, who considers as done to Himself whatever benefit is conferred by anyone on the least of the poor, holds them in great honor; she relieves them by every resource possible; she has erected everywhere in the world homes and hospices to receive them, and to nourish and to care for them, and she takes these institutions under her loving care. By most urgent precept she commands the rich to distribute their superfluous possessions among the poor, and terrifies them by the divine judgment, whereby, unless they go to the aid of the needy poor, they are to be tormented by everlasting punishments. Finally, she especially refreshes and consoles the souls of the poor either by presenting the example of Christ who, "although he was rich, became poor for our sakes" [cf.2 Cor. 8:9], or by recalling the words, by which He addressed the poor as "blessed" [cf. Matt. 5:3], and bade them hope for the rewards of eternal blessedness.

Christian Marriage *

[From the Encyclical, "Arcanum divinae sapientiae," February l0, 1880] 

1853 To the apostles as masters are to be referred the accepted matters which our holy Fathers, the Councils, and the Universal Church have always taught [see n. 970], namely, that Christ our Lord raised matrimony to the dignity of a sacrament, and at the same time brought it about that the spouses strengthened and fortified by heavenly grace which His merits procured, obtain sanctity in the marriage; and that in it, marvelously conformed to the model of the mystical marriage of Himself with the Church, He perfected a love which is befitting to nature [Cone. Trid. sess. 24, C. I de reform. matr.; cf. n. 969], and He cemented the union of man and woman, indivisible by its own nature, more strongly by the bond of divine love. . . .

1854 And the distinction put forward especially by royal legists must not disturb anyone, in which they separate the nuptial contract from the sacrament, with, of course, this purpose, that, while reserving the conditions of the sacrament to the Church, they may hand over the contract to the power and will of the chiefs of the State. For such a distinction or, more truly, a severance, cannot be approved, since it has been proved that in Christian marriage the contract is inseparable from the sacrament; and so it cannot be a true and legitimate contract without being a sacrament, for this very reason. For, Christ our Lord honored marriage with the dignity of a sacrament; but marriage is the contract itself, provided it is lawfully made. In addition, marriage is a sacrament for this reason, because it is a holy sign, both giving grace and conveying an image of the mystical nuptials of Christ with the Church. Moreover, the form and figure of these nuptials are expressed by the very bond of the supreme union in which man and woman are bound together, and which is nothing other than marriage itself. And thus it is evident that every just union between Christians is in itself and by itself a sacrament; and that nothing is more inconsistent with truth than the belief that the sacrament is a kind of added ornament, or an external property which can be disengaged and separated from the contract according to man's pleasure.

The Political Principality *

[From the Encyclical, "Diuturnum illud," June 29, 1881]


1855 Although man incited by a kind of arrogance and contumacy often strives to cast off the reins of government, yet he has never been able to succeed in obeying anyone. In every association and community of men, necessity demands that some be in charge. . . . But it is of interest to note at this point that those who are to be in charge of the state can in certain cases be elected by the will and judgment of the multitude, and Catholic doctrine makes no opposition nor resistance. By this election by which the prince is designated, the rights of principality are not conferred, nor is the power committed, but it is determined by whom it is to be carried on. There is no question here of the kinds of states; for there is no reason why the principality of one person or of several should be approved by the Church, provided it be just and intent upon the common good. Therefore, as long as justice is preserved, peoples are not prohibited from establishing that kind of state for themselves which more aptly befits either their genius or the institutions and customs of their ancestors.

1856 But the Church teaches that what pertains to political power comes from God. . . . It is a great error not to see what is manifest, that, although men are not solitaries, it is not by congenital free will that they are impelled to a natural community life; and moreover the pact which they proclaim is patently feigned and fictitious, and cannot bestow as much force, dignity, and strength to the political power as the protection of the state and the common welfare of the citizens require. But the principality is to possess these universal glories and aids, only if it is understood that they come from God, the august and most holy source.

1857 That is the one reason for men not obeying, if something is demanded of them which is openly at odds with natural and divine law; for it is equally wrong to order and to do anything in which the law of nature or the will of God is violated. If, then, it ever happens to anyone to be forced to choose one or the other, namely, to ignore the orders either of God or of princes, obedience must be rendered to Jesus Christ who orders, "the things that are Caesar's, to Caesar; the things that are God's to God" [cf.Matt. 22:21], and according to the example of the apostles the reply should be made courageously: "We ought to obey God, rather than man" [Acts 5:29]. . . . To be unwilling to refer the right of ordering to God, the author, is nothing else than to wish the most beautiful splendor of political power destroyed, and its nerves cut. . . .

 In fact, sudden tumults and most daring rebellions, especially in Germany, have followed that so-called Reformation, whose supporters and leaders have utterly opposed sacred and civil power with new doctrines.

  . . . From that heresy a falsely called philosophy took its origin in an earlier time, and a right, which they call "new," and a popular power, and an ignorant license which many people consider only liberty. From these we have come to the ultimate plagues, namely, to communism, to socialism, to nihilism, most loathsome monsters and almost destroyers of man's civil society.

1858 Surely the Church of Christ cannot be mistrusted by the princes nor hated by the people. Indeed, she advises the princes to follow justice and in nothing to err from duty; and at the same time she strengthens and aids their authority in many ways. Whatever takes place in the field of civil affairs, she recognizes and declares to be in their power and supreme control; in those matters whose judgment, although for different reasons, pertains to sacred and civil power, she wishes that there exist concord between both, by benefit of which lamentable contentions are avoided for both.


Secret Societies* 

[From the Encyclical, "Humanum genus,', April 20, 1884]


1859  Let no one think that for any reason whatsoever he is permitted to join the Masonic sect, if his profession of Catholicism and his salvation is worth as much to him as it ought to be. Let no pretended probity deceive one; for it can seem to some that the Freemasons demand nothing which is openly contrary to the sanctity of religion and morals, but since the entire reasoning and aim of the sect itself rest in viciousness and shame, it is not proper to permit association with them, or to assist them in any way.

[From the Instruction of the Holy Office, May 10, 1884]


1860 (3) Lest there be any place for error when decision will have to be made as to what the opinions of these pernicious sects are, which are under such prohibition, it is especially certain that Freemasonry and other sects of this kind which plot against the Church and lawful powers, whether they do this secretly or openly, whether or not they exact from their followers an oath to preserve secrecy, are condemned by automatic excommunication.

1861   (4) Besides these there are also other sects which are prohibited and must be avoided under pain of grave sin, among which are to be reckoned especially all those which bind their followers under oath to a secret to be divulged to no one, and exact absolute obedience to be offered to secret leaders. It is to be noted, furthermore, that there are some societies which, although it cannot be determined with certainty whether or not they belong to these which we have mentioned, are nevertheless doubtful and full of danger not only because of the doctrines which they profess, but also because of the philosophy of action which those follow under whose leadership they have developed and are governed.

Assistance of a Physician or of a Confessor at a Duel * 

[From the Response of the Holy Office to the Bishop of Poitiers, May 31, 1884]

 To the question:

1862 I. Can a physician when invited by duelists assist at a duel with the intention of bringing an end to the fight more quickly, or simply to bind and cure wounds, without incurring the excommunication reserved simply to the Highest Pontiff? 

 II. Can he at least, without being present at the duel, stay at a neighboring house or in a place nearby, ready to offer his service, if the duelists have need of it.

 III. What about a confessor under the same conditions?

  The answers are: 

 To I, he cannot, and excommunication is incurred.

 To II and III, that, insofar as it takes place as described, he cannot, and likewise excommunication is incurred.

Cremation of Corpses* 

[From the Decree of the Holy Office, May 19 and Dec. 15, 1886]

1863 To the question: 

I. Whether it is permitted to join societies whose purpose is to promote the practice of burning the corpses of men?

II. Whether it is permitted to command that one's own or the corpses of others be burned?

The answer on the 19th day of May, 1886, is:

 To I. In the negative, and if it is a matter concerned with societies affiliated with the Masonic sect, the penalties passed against this sect are incurred.

 To II. In the negative. * 

Then, on the 15th day of December, 1886:

1864  Insofar as it is a question of those whose bodies are subjected to cremation not by their own will but by that of another, the rites and prayers of the Church can be employed not only at home but also in the church, not, however, at the place of cremation, scandal being avoided. Indeed, scandal can also be avoided if it be known that crema- tion was not elected by the deceased's own will. But when it is a question of those who elect cremation by their own will, and have persevered in this will definitely and notoriously even until death, with due attention to the decree of Wednesday, May 19 1886 [given above], action must be taken in such cases according to the norms of the Roman Ritual, Tit. Quibus non licet dare ecclesiasticam sepulturam (To whom it is not permitted to give burial in the church). But in particular cases where doubt or difficulty arises, the ordinary will have to be consulted.


Civil Divorce *


[From the Decree of the Holy Office, May 27, 1886]

1865 The following questions were raised by some Bishops of France to the inquisition S.R. et U.: "In the letter S.R. et U. 1. of June 25th 1885, to all the ordinaries in the territory of France on the law of civil divorce it is decreed thus: "Considering very serious matters, in addition to times and places, it can be tolerated that those who hold magistracies, and lawyers who conduct matrimonial cases in France, without being bound to cede to the office," and it added conditions, of which the second is this: "Provided they are so prepared in mind not only regarding the dignity and nullity of marriage, but also regarding the separation of bodies, about which cases they are obliged to judge, as never to offer an opinion or to defend one to be offered, or to provoke or to incite to that opinion which is at odds with divine and ecclesiastical law."

  It is asked:

 I. Whether the interpretation is right which is widespread throughout France and even put in print, according to which the judge satisfies the above mentioned condition, who, although a certain marriage is valid in the sight of the Church, ignores that true and unbroken marriage, and applying civil law pronounces that there is ground for divorce, provided he intends in his mind to break only the civil effects and only the civil contract, and provided the terms of the opinion offered consider these alone? In other words, whether an opinion so offered can be said not to be at odds with the divine and ecclesiastical law?

 II. After the judge has pronounced that there is ground for divorce, whether the syndic (in French: le maire), intent also upon only the civil effects and the civil contract, as is explained above, can pronounce a divorce, although the marriage is valid in the eyes of the Church.

 III. After the divorce has been pronounced, whether the same syndic can again join a spouse who strives to enter into other nuptials in a civil ceremony, although the previous marriage is valid in the eyes of the Church and the other party is living?

 The answer is: 

 In the negative to the first, the second, * and the third.

The Christian Constitution of States *

[From the Encyclical "Immortale Dei," November 1, 1885]

1866  And so God has partitioned the care of the human race between two powers, namely, ecclesiastical and civil, the one, to be sure, placed over divine, the other over human affairs. Each is highest in its own order; each has certain limits within which it is contained, which are defined by the nature of each and the immediate purpose; and therefore an orbit, as it were, is circumscribed, within which the action of each takes place by its own right. * . . . Whatever, then, in human things is in every way sacred, whatever pertains to the salvation of souls or the worship of God, whether it is such by its own nature or again is understood as such because of the purpose to which it is referred, this is entirely in the power and judgment of the Church; but other matters, which the civil and political order embraces, are rightly subject to civil authority, since Jesus Christ has ordered: "The things that are Caesar's, render to Caesar; the things that are God's to God" [cf.Matt. 22:21]. But occasions sometimes arise, when another method of concord is also efficacious for peace and liberty, namely, if rulers of public affairs and the Roman Pontiff agree on the same decision in some special matter. On these occasions the Church gives outstanding proof of her motherly devotion, when, as is her wont she shows all possible affability and indulgence. . . .

1867 To wish also that the Church be subject to the civil power in the exercise of her duties is surely a great injustice (to her), and great rashness. By this deed order is disturbed, because the things that are of nature are put over those that are above nature; the frequency of the blessings with which the Church would fill everyday life, if she were not hampered by anything, is destroyed or certainly greatly diminished; and besides a way is prepared for enmities and contentions; and, what great destruction they bring to both powers, the issue of events has demonstrated beyond measure. Such doctrines, which are not approved by human reason and are of great importance for civil discipline, the Roman Pontiffs, Our predecessors, since they understood well what the Apostolic office demanded of them, did by no means allow to pass uncondemned. Thus, Gregory XVI by the encyclical letter beginning, "Mirari vos," on the fifteenth day of August, 1832 [see note1613 ff.], with great seriousness of purpose struck at those teachings which even then were being preached, that in divine worship no preference should be shown; that individuals are free to form their judgments about religion as they prefer; that one's conscience alone is his guide; and furthermore that it is lawful for everyone to publish what he thinks, and likewise to stir up revolution within the state. On questions of the separation of Church and state the same Pontiff writes thus: "We could not predict happier results both for religion and for the civil government from the wishes of those who desire that the Church be separated from the state, and that the mutual concord between the civil and ecclesiastical authorities be broken off. For, it is manifest that devotees of unhampered freedom fear that concord which has always been beneficial and salutary for both sacred and civil interests."--In a not dissimilar manner Pius IX, as opportunity presented itself, noted many of the false opinions which began to prevail, and afterwards ordered the same to be gathered together so that in, as it were, so great a sea of error, Catholics might have something to follow without mishap.* 

1868 Moreover, from these precepts of the Pontiffs the following must be thoroughly understood; that the origin of public power should be sought from God Himself, not from the multitude; that free license for sedition is at odds with reason; that it is unlawful for private individuals, unlawful for states to disregard the duties of religion or to be affected in the same way by the different kinds (of religion); that the unrestricted power of thinking and publicly expressing one's opinions is not among the rights of citizens, and is by no means to be placed among matters worthy of favor and support.

1869 Similarly, it should be understood that the Church is a society no less than the state itself, perfect in its kind and in its right; and those who hold the highest power should not act so as to force the Church to serve and to be under them, or so as not to permit her to be free to transact her own affairs, or so as to take from her any of the other rights which have been conferred upon her by Jesus Christ.

1870 However, in matters of mixed jurisdiction, it is wholly in accord with nature, and likewise in accord with the plans of God, that there be no separation of one power from the other, but plainly that there be concord, and this in a manner befitting the closely allied purposes which have given rise to both societies.

1871  This, then, is what is taught by the Church on the establishment and government of states.--However, by these statements and decrees, if one desire to judge rightly, no one of the various forms of the state is condemned in itself, inasmuch as they contain nothing which is offensive to Catholic doctrine, and they can, if they are wisely and justly applied, preserve the state in its best condition.

1872  Neither by any means is this condemned in itself, that the people participate more or less in the state; this very thing at certain times and under certain laws can not only be of use to the citizens, but can even be of obligation.

1873 Furthermore, neither does there appear any just cause for anyone charging the Church with being lenient and more than rightly restricted by affability, or with being hostile to that liberty which is proper and lawful.

1874 Indeed, if the Church judges that certain forms of divine worship should not be on the same footing as the true religion, yet she does not therefore condemn governors of states, who, to obtain some great blessing or to prevent an evil,

1875  patiently tolerate custom and usage so that individually they each have a place in the state. And this also the Church especially guards against, that anyone against his will be forced to embrace the Catholic faith, for, as St. Augustine wisely advises: "Man cannot believe except of his free will." * 

1876 In a like manner the Church cannot approve that liberty which begets an aversion for the most sacred laws of God and casts aside the obedience due lawful authority. For this is more truly license than liberty. And very rightly is it called "the liberty of ruin" * by Augustine, and "a cloak of malice" by the Apostle Peter [ 1 Pet. 2:16]; rather, since it is beyond reason, it is true slavery, for "whosoever committeth sin, is the servant of sin" [John 8:34]. On the other hand, that liberty is genuine and to be sought after, which, from the point of view of the individual, does not permit man to be a slave of errors and passions, most abominable masters, if it guides its citizens in public office wisely, ministers generously to the opportunity for increasing means of well-being, and

1877 protects the state from foreign influence.--This liberty, honorable and worthy of man, the Church approves most of all, and never ceases to strive and struggle for its preservation sound and strong among the nations.--In fact, whatever is of the greatest value in the state for the common welfare; whatever has been usefully established to curb the license of rulers who do not consult the people's good; whatever prevents highest authority from improperly invading municipal and family affairs; whatever is of value for preserving the dignity, the person of man, and the quality of rights among individual citizens, of all such things the records of past ages testify that Catholic Church has always been either the discoverer, or the promoter, or the protector. Therefore, always consistent with herself, if on the one hand she rejects immoderate liberty, which for individuals and states falls into license or slavery, on the other hand she willingly and gladly embraces the better things which the day brings forth, if they truly contain prosperity for this life, which is, as it were,

1878   a kind of course to that other life which is to remain forever. Therefore, when people say that the Church is envious of the more recent political systems, and indiscriminately repudiates whatever the genius of these times has produced, it is an empty and groundless calumny. Indeed, she does repudiate wild opinions; she does disapprove nefarious zeal for seditions, and expressly that habit of mind in which the beginnings of a voluntary departure from God are seen; but since all that is true must come from God, she recognizes whatever has to do with the attaining of truth as a kind of trace of the divine intelligence. And, since there is nothing of truth in the natural order which abrogates faith in teachings divinely transmitted, but many things which confirm it; and since every discovery of truth can lend force to the knowledge and praise of God, accordingly whatever contributes to the extension of the boundaries of knowledge will always do so to the pleasure and joy of the Church; and just as is her custom in the case of other branches of knowledge, so will she also favor and promote those which are concerned with the investigation of nature. 

1879 In these studies the Church is not in opposition if the mind discovers something new; she does not object to further investigations being made for the refinements and comforts of life; rather, as an enemy of indolence and sloth she wishes especially that the talents of man bear rich fruits by exercise and cultivation; she furnishes incentives to all kinds of arts and works; and by directing through her influence all zeal for such things towards virtue and salvation, she struggles to prevent man from being turned away from God and heavenly blessings by his intelligence and industry. . . .

1880 And so in such a difficult course of events, if Catholics give heed to us, as they ought, they will easily see what are the duties of each one in matters of opinion as well as of action. And, indeed, in forming opinion, it is necessary to comprehend and hold with a firm judgment whatever the Roman Pontiffs have handed down, and shall hand down, and to profess each publicly as often as occasion demands. And specifically regarding the so-called liberties so sought after in recent times, it is necessary for everyone to stand by the judgment of the Apostolic See, and to have the same opinion as that held by it. One should not be deceived by the honorable appearance of these liberties; one should consider from what sources they are derived, and by what efforts they are everywhere sustained and promoted. It is well known from experience what results such liberties have achieved in the state; for everywhere they have borne fruits which good and wise man rightly deplore. If such a state really exists anywhere or is imagined in our thoughts, which shamelessly and tyrannically persecutes the name of Christian, and that modern kind of state be compared with it, of which we are speaking, the latter may well seem the more tolerable. Yet the principles upon which it relies are certainly of such a kind, as we have said before, that in themselves they should be approved by no one.

1881 However, action may be concerned with private and domestic affairs or public affairs.--Certainly in private matters the first duty is to conform life and conduct most diligently to the precepts of the Gospel, and not to refuse to do so when Christian virtue exacts something more than ordinarily difficult to bear and endure. Furthermore, all should love the Church as their common mother; keep her laws obediently; promote her honor, and preserve her rights; and they should try to have her cherished and loved with equal devotion by those over whom they have any authority.

1882  It is also in the public interest to give attention wisely to the affairs of municipal administration, and in this to strive especially to effect that consideration be given publicly to the formation of youth in religion and in good conduct, in that manner which is right for Christians. On these things especially does the safety of the individual states depend.

1883  Likewise, it is, in general, beneficial and proper for Catholics to extend their attention further, beyond this, as it were, rather restricted field, and to take in the national government itself. We say "in general," because these precepts of Ours apply to all nations. But it can happen in some places that it is by no means expedient for weighty and just reasons to take part in national politics and to become active in political affairs. But, in general, as we have said, to be willing to take no part in public affairs would be as much at fault as to have no interest and to do nothing for the common good, and even more, because Catholics by the admonition of the very doctrine which they profess are impelled to carry on their affairs with integrity and trust. On the other hand, if they remain indifferent, those whose opinions carry very little hope for the safety of the state will easily seize the reins of government. And this also would be fraught with injury to the Christian religion, because those who were evilly disposed toward the Church would have the greatest power, and those well disposed the least.

1884 Therefore, it is very clear that the reason for Catholics entering public affairs is just, for they do not enter them nor ought they to do so for this reason, so as to approve that which at the moment is not honorable in the methods of public affairs, but to transfer these methods insofar as it can be done, to the genuine and true public good, having in mind the purpose of introducing into all the veins of the state, as a most healthful sap and blood, the wisdom and virtue of the Christian religion. . . .

1885 Lest the union of souls be broken by rash charges, let all understand the following: That the integrity of the Catholic faith can by no means exist along with opinions which border on naturalism and rationalism, the sum total of which is to tear Christian institutions from their foundations and to establish man's leadership in society, relegating God to second place.--Likewise, that it is not lawful to follow one form of duty in private life, and another in public; for example, so that the authority of the Church is observed in private life, and cast aside in public. For this would be to combine the honorable and the shameful, and to place man in conflict with himself, when on the other hand he should always be in accord with himself, and never in anything or in any manner of life abandon Christian virtue.

1886  But if there is question merely of methods in politics, about the best kind of state, about ordering government in one way or another, surely, in these matters there can be an honorable difference of opinion. Therefore, a dissenting opinion in the matters which we have mentioned on the part of those men whose piety is otherwise known, and whose minds are ready to accept obediently the decrees of the Apostolic See, cannot in justice be considered a sin on their part; and a muck greater injury takes place, if they are faced with the charge of having violated or mistrusted the Catholic Faith, which we are sorry to say has taken place more than once.

1887 Let all who are accustomed to express their opinions in writing, and especially writers for newspapers, bear this precept in mind. In this struggle over most important matters, there can be no place for internal controversies or for party rivalries; and all should strive to preserve religion and the state, which is the common purpose of all. If, therefore, there have been any dissensions before, they should be obliterated by a kind voluntary oblivion; if hitherto there have been rash and injurious actions, those who are in any way to blame for this should make amends with mutual charity, and a kind of special submission should be made on the part of all to the Apostolic See.

1888  In this way Catholics will obtain two very excellent results: one, that of establishing themselves as helpers of the Church in preserving and propagating Christian wisdom; the other, that of bestowing upon civil society the greatest blessing, the preservation of which is imperiled by evil doctrines, and passions.

Craniotomy and Abortion * 

[From the Response of the Holy Office the Archbishop of Lyons, May 31st, 1899 (May 28th 1884)]

1889 To the question: Whether it can be safely taught in Catholic schools that the surgical operation which is called craniotomy is licit, when, of course, if it does not take place, the mother and child will perish; while on the other hand if it does take place, the mother is to be saved, while the child perishes?"

The reply is: "It cannot be safely taught."

[From the reply of the Holy Office to the Archbishop of

Cambresis, August 19 1889]

1890 The reply is similar with the following addition: ". . . and every surgical operation that directly kills the fetus or the pregnant mother."

[From the reply of the Holy Office to the Archbishop of Cambresis, July 24, 25, 1895] * 

1890a When the doctor, Titius, was called to a pregnant woman who was seriously sick, he gradually realized that the cause of the deadly sickness was nothing else than pregnancy, that is, the presence of the fetus in the womb. Therefore, to save the mother from certain and imminent death one way presented itself to him, that of procuring an abortion, or ejection of the fetus. In the customary manner he adopted this way, but the means and operations applied did not tend to the killing of the fetus in the mother's womb, but only to its being brought forth to light alive, if it could possibly be done, although it would die soon, inasmuch as it was not mature.

 Yet, despite what the Holy See wrote on August 19th 1889, in answer to the Archbishop of Cambresis, that it could not be taught safely that any operation causing the death of the fetus directly, even if this were necessary to save the mother, was licit, the doubting Titius clung to the licitness of surgical operations by which he not rarely procured the abortion, and thus saved pregnant women who were seriously sick.

 Therefore, to put his conscience at rest Titius suppliantly asks: Whether he can safely repeat the above mentioned operations under the reoccurring circumstances.

  The reply is:

 In the negative, according to other decrees, namely, of the 28th day of May, 1884, and of 19th day of August, 1889.

 But on the following Thursday, on the 25th day of July . . . our most holy Lord approved a resolution of the Most Eminent Fathers, as reported to him.


[From the reply of the Holy Office to the Bishop of Sinaboa, May 4, 6, 1898] *

1890b I. Will the acceleration of the birth be licit, when because of the woman's structure the delivery of the fetus would be impossible at its own natural time? 

 II. And, if the structure of the woman is such that not even a premature birth is considered possible, will it be permitted to cause an abortion, or to perform a Caesarean operation in its time?

 III. Is a laparotomy licit, when it is a matter of an extrauterine pregnancy, or of ectopic conceptions?

The reply is:

 To I. That the acceleration of the birth per se is not illicit, provided it is performed for good reasons at that time, and according to the method by which under ordinary conditions consideration is given to the lives of the mother and the fetus.

 To II. With respect to the first part, in the negative, according to the decree (issued) on Wednesday, the 24th of July, 1895, on the illicitness of abortion.--As to what pertains to the second part, nothing prevents the woman, who is concerned, from submitting to a Caesarean operation in due time.

 To III.That when necessity presses, a laparotomy is licit for extracting ectopic conceptions from the womb of the mother, provided, insofar as it can be done, care is taken seriously and fittingly of the life of the fetus and that of the mother.

 On the following Friday, the sixth day of the same month and year, His Supreme Holiness approved the responses of the Most Eminent and Reverend Fathers.

[From the reply of the Holy Office to the Dean of the faculty of theology of the university of Marienburg, the 5th of March, 1902] *

1890 c To the question: "Whether it is at any time permitted to extract from the womb of the mother ectopic fetuses still immature, when the sixth month after conception has not passed?"

  The reply is:

 "In the negative, according to the decree of Wednesday, the 4th of May, 1898, by the force of which care must be taken seriously and fittingly, insofar as it can be done, for the life of the fetus and that of the mother; moreover, with respect to time, according to the same decree, the orator is reminded that no acceleration of the birth is licit, unless it be performed at the time and according to the methods by which in the ordinary course of events the life of the mother and that of the fetus are considered."

Errors of Antonius de Rosmini-Serbati* 

[Condemned in a Decree of the Holy Office, 14th of Dec., 1887]


1891 1. In the order of created things there is immediately manifested to the human intellect something of the divine in its very self, namely, such as pertains to divine nature.

1892 2. When we speak of the divine in nature, we do not use that word divine to signify a nondivine effect of a divine cause; nor, is it our mind to speak of a certain thing as divine because it is such through participation.

1893 3. In the nature of the universe then, that is in the intelligences that are in it, there is something to which the term of divine not in a figurative but in a real sense is fitting.--The actuality is not distinct from the rest of divine actuality.

1894  4. Indeterminate being, which without doubt is known to all intelligences, is that divine thing which is manifest to man in nature. 

1895  5. Being, which man observes, must be something of the necessary and eternal being, the creating cause, the determining and final cause of all contingent beings; and this is God.

1896  6. In the being which prescinds from creatures and from God, which is indeterminate being, and in God, not indeterminate but absolute being, the essence is the same.

1897 7. The indeterminate being of intuition, initial being, is something of the Word, which the mind of the Father distinguishes, not really, but according to reason from the Word.

1898 8. Finite beings, of which the world is composed, result from two elements, that is, from the real finite terminus and from the initial being' which contributes the form of being to the same terminus.

1899  9. Being, the object of intuition, is the initial act of all beings. Initial being is the beginning both of the knowable and the subsisting; it is likewise the beginning of God, according as He is conceived by us, and of creatures.