source of catholic dogma 2100-2200


2100 Furthermore, as a result of this division and arrangement of the documents by ages it naturally follows that the Sacred Books cannot be attributed to those authors to whom in fact they are ascribed. For this reason the modernists generally do not hesitate to assert that those same books, especially the Pentateuch and the first three Gospels, from the brief original account grew gradually by additions, by interpolations, indeed, in the manner of either theological or allegorical interpretations; or even by the interjection of parts solely to join different passages together.--To state it briefly and more clearly, there must certainly be admitted the vital evolution of the Sacred Books, born of the evolution of faith and corresponding to the same.--Indeed, they add that the traces of this evolution are so manifest that its history can almost be described. Nay, rather, they do in fact describe it with no hesitation, so that you would believe that they saw the very writers with their own eyes as they applied their hand in every age to amplifying the Sacred Books. Moreover, to support these actions they call to their aid a criticism which they call textual; and they strive to convince us that this or that fact or expression is not in its own place, and they bring forward other such arguments.--You would indeed say that they had prescribed for themselves certain types, as it were, of narrations and discourses, as a result of which they decide with certainty what stands in its own place or in a strange place.--Let him who wishes judge how skilled they can be to make decisions in this way. Moreover, he who gives heed to them as they talk about their studies on the Sacred Books, as a result of which it was granted them to discover so many things improperly stated, would almost believe that no man before them had turned the pages of these same books; and that an almost infinite number of doctors had not examined them from every point of view, a group clearly far superior to them in mind, and erudition, and sanctity of life. These very wise doctors indeed, far from finding fault with the Sacred Scriptures in any part, rather, the more thoroughly they investigated them, the more they gave thanks to divine authority for having deigned so to speak with men. But alas, our doctors with respect to the Sacred Books did not rely upon those aids on which the modernists did; thus they did not have philosophy as a master and guide, nor did they choose themselves as their own authority in making decisions. Now, then, we think that it is clear of what sort the method of the modernists is in the field of history. The philosopher goes ahead; the historian succeeds him; right behind, in order, works criticism, both internal and textual. And since it is characteristic of the first cause to communicate its power to its consequences, it becomes evident that such criticism is not criticism at all; that it is rightly called agnostic, immanentist, and evolutionist; and that so, he who professes it and uses it, professes the errors implicit in the same and opposes Catholic doctrine.--For this reason it can seem most strange that criticism of this kind has such weight today among Catholics. This obviously has a twofold cause: first of all the pact by which the historians and the critics of this kind are so closely joined, the differences of nationality and the dissension of religions being placed in the background; then the endless effrontery by which all with one voice extol whatever each of them prattles, and attribute it to the progress of science; by which in close array they attack him who wishes to examine the new marvel or his own; by which they accuse him who denies it of ignorance, adorn him with praises who embraces and defends it. Thus no small number are deceived who, if they should examine the matter more closely, would be horrified.--From this powerful domineering on the part of those in error, and this heedless compliance on the part of fickle souls, a corruption in the surrounding atmosphere results which penetrates everywhere and diffuses its pestilence.

2101 [VI] But let us pass on to the apologist. He, too, among the modernists depends in a twofold manner upon the philosopher. First, indirectly, taking history as his subject matter, written at the dictation of the philosopher, as we have seen; then directly, having obtained his doctrines and judgments from him. Hence that precept widespread in the school of the modernists that the new apologetics should resolve controversies over religion by historical and psychological investigations. Therefore, the modernist apologist approaches his task by advising the rationalists that they defend religion not by means of the Sacred Books, nor by history as widely employed in the Church which is written in the old way, but by real history composed of modern principles and the modern method. And this they assert not as if using an argumentum ad hominem, but because in very fact they think that only such history hands down the truth. They are indeed unconcerned about asserting their sincerity in what they write; they are already known among the nationalists; they are already praised for doing service under the same banner; and on this praise, which a real Catholic would reject, they congratulate themselves, and, hold it up against the reprimands of the Church.--But now let us see how one of them proceeds in his apologies. The end which he places before himself for accomplishment, is this: to win a person thus far inexperienced in the faith over to it, that he may attain this experience of the Catholic religion, which according to the modernists is the only basis of faith. A twofold way is open to this: one objective, the other subjective. The first proceeds from agnosticism, and it strives to show that that vital virtue is in religion, especially the Catholic religion, which persuades every psychologist and likewise historian of good mind that in its history something of the unknown must be concealed. To this end it is necessary to show that the Catholic religion, as it exists today, is exactly that which Christ founded, or that it is nothing other than the progressive development of that germ which Christ introduced. First, then, it must be determined of what nature the germ is. This, furthermore, they wish to prove by the following formula: The Christ announced the coming of the kingdom of God, which was to be established shortly; and that He Himself would be its Messias, that is, the divinely given founder and ordainer. Then it must be shown in what way this germ, always immanent and permanent in the Catholic religion, has evolved gradually, and according to history, and has adapted itself to succeeding circumstances, taking to itself from these vitally whatever of the doctrinal, cultural, and ecclesiastical forms was useful to it, but meanwhile overcoming such obstacles as met it, scattering its enemies, and surviving all attacks and combats. Yet after it has been shown that all these, namely, obstacles, enemies, attacks, combats, and likewise the vitality and fecundity of Church have been of such nature that, although the laws of evolution appear unimpaired in the history of the Church, yet they are not alike to be fully developed by the same history; the unknown will stand before it, and will present itself of its own accord.--Thus do they argue. In all this reasoning, however, they fail to notice one thing, that that determination of the primitive germ is due solely to the apriorism of the agnostic and evolutionist philosopher, and the germ itself is so gratuitously defined by them as to fit in with their case.

2102 Yet while by reciting arguments the new apologists struggle to proclaim and bring conviction to the Catholic religion, of their own accord they grant and concede that there is much in it which offends. With a kind of ill-concealed pleasure they even declare repeatedly and openly that they find errors and contradictions also in the field of dogma; yet they add that these not only admit of an excuse, but, which should be an object of wonder, that these have been produced rightly and lawfully. Thus, even according to themselves much in the Sacred Books within the field of science and history is affected by error. But they say that here it is not a question of science or history, but only of religion and morals. There science and history are a kind of covering with which the religious and moral experiences are bound, so that they may be more easily spread among the masses; since, indeed, the masses would not understand this otherwise, a more perfect kind of science and history would not have been a help but a harm to them. But, they add, the Sacred Books, because they are religious by nature, necessarily possess life; now, life also has its own truth and logic, quite different from rational truth and rational logic, rather of an entirely different order, namely, the truth of comparison and proportion not only with reference to the medium (so they themselves call it) in which it is lived, but also with reference to the end for which it is lived. Finally, they proceed to such a point that, abandoning all restraint, they assert that whatever is evolved through life, is entirely true and legitimate.--Now We, Venerable Brethren, for whom there is one, unique truth, and who regard the Sacred Books thus, "that written under the inspiration of the Holy Spirit they have God as their author" [see n. 1787], declare that this is the same as giving the lie of utility, or the officious lie to God Himself, and We assert in the words of St. Augustine: "Once some officious lie is admitted against so high an authority, there will remain not a clause in those books which, according as it will appear to anyone difficult to practice or incredible of belief, is not referred according to this same pernicious rule to the plan and purpose of a lying author." * Therefore it will happen, as the same Holy Doctor adds: "In these, namely the Scriptures, everyone will believe what he wishes; what he does not wish, he will not believe."--But the modernist apologists move forward rapidly. They also concede that in the Sacred Books such reasonings are frequently discovered which attempt to prove a certain doctrine without rational foundation; such kind are those which rest upon the prophecies. And they defend these as a kind of artifice for preaching, which are made legitimate by life. What more? They admit, rather, they assert that Christ Himself manifestly erred in indicating the time of the coming of the kingdom of God; and this should not seem strange, they say, for He, too, was bound by the laws of life! Again, what about the dogmas of the Church? These also abound in open contradictions; but in addition to the fact that they are admitted by vital logic, they are not opposed to symbolic truth; for in these it is a question of the infinite, to which belong infinite considerations. Finally, they so prove and defend all this that they do not hesitate to profess that no more noble honor is shown the Infinite than the affirming of contradictions about Him.--But when a contradiction is approved, what will not be approved?

2103 He who does not yet believe can be disposed toward faith not only by objective but also by subjective arguments. To this end the modernist apologists return to the doctrine of immanence. They labor in fact to persuade man that in him, and in the innermost recesses of his nature and life are concealed a desire and need for some religion; not for any religion, but for such a one as is the Catholic religion; for this, they say, is ab- absolutely postulated by the perfect development of life.--Here, moreover, we should again complain vigorously that there are not lacking among Catholics those who, although they reject the doctrine of immanence as a doctrine, yet employ it as a method of apology; and they do this so heedlessly that they seem to admit in human nature not only a capacity and a suitability for the supernatural order, as certain Catholic apologists have always demonstrated within proper bounds, but a genuine need in the true sense of the word.--To speak more accurately, this need of the Catholic religion is introduced by modernists who wish to be known as the more moderate. For, those who can be called integralists wish that the germ be demonstrated to the man who does not yet believe, as being hidden in him, the very germ which was in the consciousness of Christ and was transmitted to men by Him.--Thus then, Venerable Brethren, we recognize the apologetic method of the modernists, summarily described, as quite in keeping with their doctrine; a method indeed, as also the doctrines, full of errors, not suited for edifying, but for destroying, not for making Catholics, but for dragging Catholics into heresy, yes, even for the complete subversion of every religion.

2104 [VII] Finally, a few words must be said about the modernist as a reformer. What we have said thus far shows abundantly with how great and keen a zeal for innovating these men are carried away. Moreover, this zeal extends to absolutely everything which exists among Catholics. They wish philosophy to be reformed, especially in ecclesiastical seminaries, so that, after relegating scholastic philosophy to the history of philosophy along with the other obsolete systems, youth may be taught modern philosophy which alone is true and in accord with our age.--To reform theology, they wish that that which we call rational have modern philosophy as a basis, but they demand that positive theology be based especially upon the history of dogma.--They also demand that history be written and be taught according to their method and modern prescriptions. Dogmas and the evolution of the same, they declare, must be brought into harmony with science and history.--As regards catechesis, they demand that only those dogmas be noted in catechism, which have been reformed, and are within the capacity of the masses. As for worship they say that external devotions are to be reduced in number, and that steps be taken to prevent their increase, although some who are more favorable toward symbolism show themselves more indulgent on this score.--They cry out that the government of the Church must be reformed in every respect, but especially on the disciplinary and dogmatic side. Thus, both within and without it is to be brought in harmony with the modern conscience, as they say, which tends entirely towards democracy; so to the lower clergy and to laity itself appropriate parts in the government should be assigned, and when authority has been unified too much and too centralized, it is to be dispersed.--The Roman congregations they likewise wish to be modified in the performance of their holy duties, but especially that which is known as the Holy Office and is also called the Index. Likewise, they contend that the action of ecclesiastical authority must be changed in the political and social fields, so that it may at the same time live apart from civil affairs, yet adapt itself to them in order to imbue them with its spirit.--In the field of morals they adopt the principle of the Americanists, that the active virtues are to be placed before the passive, and should be put ahead of them in practice.--They desire that the clergy be prepared to practice the ancient humility and poverty; moreover, that in thought and deed they conform with the precepts of modernism.--Finally, there are some who, giving heed to the words of their Protestant masters, desire the removal of holy celibacy itself from the priesthood--What, then, do they leave untouched in the Church, that is not to be reformed by them or according to their pronouncements?

2105 In explaining all this doctrine of the modernists, Venerable Brethren, We shall seem to some, by chance, to have delayed too long. Yet it was quite necessary to do so, both that, as is customary, We might not be charged by them with ignorance of their tenets, and that it might be clear that when it is a question of modernism we are dealing not with scattered teachings in no way connected with one another, but with a single and compact body, as it were, in which, if you admit one thing, the rest necessarily follows. Thus we have made use of what amounts to didactic reasoning, and sometimes we have not rejected the atrocious words which the modernists have employed.

 Now as we look back upon the whole system in one glance, as it were, no one will be surprised when we define it as the synthesis of all heresies. Surely, if anyone had proposed this to himself, to bring together into one the sap and blood of all the errors that have ever existed about the faith, no one would have performed the task more completely than the modernists have done it. Rather they have gone so much beyond this as not only to destroy completely the Catholic religion, but all religion, as We have already intimated. Hence, the applause of the rationalists; for this reason do those among the rationalists who speak more freely and openly congratulate themselves on having found no more efficacious allies than the modernists.

2106 Now let us return for a moment, Venerable Brothers, to that most pernicious doctrine of agnosticism. By it evidently, as far as the intellect is concerned, every way to God is barred to man, while a more fitting approach is supposed to be open through a certain sense of the soul and action. Who does not see how wrong this is? For the sense of the soul is the response to the action of the thing which the intellect and the external senses have proposed. Take away the intellect and man will be prone to follow the external senses, in which direction he is already proceeding. Again this is bad; for any phantasies of the religious sense will not destroy common sense; moreover, by common sense we are taught that any disturbance or occupation of the soul is not a help but rather a hindrance to the search for truth, for truth, we say, as it is in itself; for that other subjective truth, the fruit of the internal sense and action, if indeed it is adapted to play, contributes nothing at all to man whose chief concern it is to learn whether outside himself there is a God into whose hands he will one day fall.--But the modernists do introduce experience as an aid to so great a task. Yet, what will this add to that sense of the soul? Nothing at all, except to make it more vehement; and as a result of this vehemence to make its conviction of the truth of the object proportionately stronger. Now these two certainly never make the sense of the soul cease to be sense, nor do they change its nature which is always liable to deception, unless it is directed by the intellect; but rather they confirm and assist it, for the more intense the sense, by that greater right it is sense.

2107 Now since we are here dealing with religious sense and the experience contained in it, you know well, Venerable Brethren, how much there is need of prudence in this matter; likewise how much doctrine to guide prudence itself. You know this from your own experience with souls, especially certain ones in whom the sense is pre-eminent; you know it from your habit of reading books which treat of asceticism, which works, although they are of little worth in the estimation of the modernists, yet present a doctrine far more solid and more profound for observing wisdom than that which they arrogate to themselves. Indeed, it seems to Us the part of madness, or at least consummate imprudence, to hold as true without investigation the intimate experiences which the modernists recommend. But why, to speak cursorily, if there is so much force and value in these experiences, should not the same value be attributed to that experience which many thousands of Catholics assert that they have regarding the erroneous path on which the modernists tread? Is not all this false and fallacious? But the great majority of men firmly hold this, and will hold this: that through sense alone and experience, with no guidance and light of the mind, man can never attain God. And so we again have atheism, and no religion.

2108 The modernists promise themselves nothing better by proclaiming the doctrine of symbolism. For if all intellectual elements, as they say, are merely symbols of God, will not the very name of God, or of the divine personality be a symbol. And if this is so, then there will be a possibility of doubt about the divine personality and the way is open to pantheism. Moreover, in the same way the other doctrine of divine immanence leads to pure and unmixed pantheism. For we ask this: Does such immanence distinguish God from man or not? If it does so distinguish, in what then does it differ from Catholic doctrine, or why does it reject the doctrine of external revelation? If it does not so distinguish, we have pantheism. But this immanence of the modernists holds and grants that every phenomenon of conscience proceeds from man as man. Thus good reasoning infers from this that God and man are one and the same; and so we have pantheism.

2109 Indeed, the distinction which they proclaim between science and faith admits no other conclusion. For, they place the object of science in the reality of the knowable; the object of faith, on the contrary, in the reality of the unknowable. Now, the unknowable is fully established from this, that between the material object and the intellect there is no proportion, and this defect of proportion can never be removed, not even in the doctrine of the modernists. Therefore, the unknowable will always remain unknowable, to the believer as well as to the philosopher. Therefore, if we will possess any religion, it will be of an unknowable reality. Why this cannot also be the soul of the universe, as certain rationalists admit, we certainly do not see. But let these words suffice now to show fully how the doctrine of the modernists leads by manifold routes to atheism, and to the destruction of all religion. Indeed, the error of the Protestants was the first to take the step down this road; the error of the modernists follows; atheism will be the next step. [After fixing the causes of these errors-- curiosity, pride, ignorance of true philosophy--certain rules are laid down for the support and organization of philosophical, theological, and profane studies, and for the cautious selection of teachers, etc.]


The Author and Historical Truth of the Fourth Gospel *

[Response of the Biblical Commission, May 29, 1907]


2110 Question I: Whether from the constant, universal, and solemn tradition of the Church coming down from the second century, inasmuch as it is taken chiefly a) from the testimonies and allusions of the Holy Fathers, ecclesiastical writers, even heretics, which, since they must derive from the disciples and first successors of the apostles, are necessarily closely connected with the very origin of the work itself; b) from the acceptance always and everywhere of the name of the author of the fourth Gospel in the Canon and in the catalogues of the Sacred Scriptures; c) from the oldest manuscripts, codices, and versions in various languages of the same Books; d) from the public liturgical practice obtaining in the whole world from the beginnings of the Church; prescinding from theological proof, it is demonstrated by such strong historical proof that John the Apostle and no other is to be recognized as the author of the fourth Gospel, that the reasons adduced by critics in opposition by no means weaken this tradition?--Answer: In the affirmative.

2111 Question II: Whether the internal reasons also, which are taken from the text of the fourth Gospel, considered separately, from the testimony of the author and the manifest relationship of the Gospel itself with the First Epistle of the Apostle John, are to be considered as confirming the tradition which undoubtedly attributes the fourth Gospel to the same Apostle?--And whether the difficulties which are assumed from a comparison of the Gospel with the other three, the diversity of the times, purposes, and audiences, for whom and against whom the author wrote, being kept in view, can be reasonably solved, just as the most Holy Fathers and exegetes have shown in different places?--Answer: In the affirmative to both parts.

2112 Question III: Whether, not withstanding the practice which flourished constantly in the whole Church from the earliest times, of arguing from the fourth Gospel as from a truly historical document, in consideration, nevertheless, of the peculiar nature of the same Gospel, and of the manifest intention of the author to illustrate and to prove the divinity of Christ from the very deeds and words of the Lord, it can be said that the deeds related in the fourth Gospel are totally or partially so invented that they are allegories or doctrinal symbols; but that the words of the Lord are not properly and truly the words of the Lord himself, but theological compositions of the writer, although placed in the mouth of the Lord?--Answer: In the negative.


The Authority of the Decisions of the Biblical Commission *

[From Motu prop Rio, "Praestantia Scripturae," Nov. 18, 1907]


2113 . . . After long discussions and most conscientious deliberations, certain excellent decisions have been published by the Pontifical Biblical Commission, very useful for the true advancement of Biblical studies and for directing the same by a definite norm. Yet we notice that there are not lacking those who have not received and do not receive such decisions with the obedience which is proper, even though they are approved by the Pontiff.

 Therefore, we see that it must be declared and ordered as We do now declare and expressly order, that all are bound by the duty of conscience to submit to the decisions of the Biblical Pontifical Commission, both those which have thus far been published and those which will hereafter be proclaimed, just as to the decrees of the Sacred Congregations which pertain to doctrine and have been approved by the Pontiff; and that all who impugn such decisions as these by word or in writing cannot avoid the charge of disobedience, or on this account be free of grave sin; and this besides the scandal by which they offend, and the other matters for which they can be responsible before God, especially because of other pronouncements in these matters made rashly and erroneously.

2114 In addition to this, intending to repress the daily increasing boldness of spirit of many Modernists, who by sophisms and artifices of every kind endeavor to destroy the force and the efficacy not only of the Decree, "Lamentabili sane exitu," which was published at Our command by the Sacred Roman and Universal Inquisition on the third of July of the current year [see n. 2071 ff.], but also of Our Encyclical Letter, "Pascendi Dominici gregis," given on the eighth of September of this same year [see n. 2071 ff.] by Our Apostolic authority, We repeat and confirm not only that Decree of the Sacred Supreme Congregation, but also that Encyclical Letter of Ours, adding the penalty of excommunication against all who contradict them; and We declare and decree this: if anyone, which may God forbid, proceeds to such a point of boldness that he defends any of the propositions, opinions, and doctrines disproved in either document mentioned above, he is ipso facto afflicted by the censure imposed in the chapter Docentes of the Constitution of the Apostolic See, first among those excommunications latae sententiae which are reserved simply to the Roman Pontiff. This excommunication, however, is to be understood with no change in the punishments, which those who have committed anything against the above mentioned documents may incur, if at any time their propositions, opinions, or doctrines are heretical; which indeed has happened more than once in the case of the adversaries of both these documents, but especially when they defend the errors of modernism, that is, the refuge of all heresies.


The Nature and Authorship of the Book of Isaias *

[Response of the Biblical Commission, June 28th, 1908]


2115 Question I: Whether it can be taught that the prophecies which are read in the book of Isaias, and here and there in the Scriptures, are not prophecies in the true sense of the word, but either accounts composed after the event or, if it is necessary that they be acknowledged as being foretold before the event, that the prophet foretold them not from any natural revelation of God who knows the future, but by a kind of happy sagacity and natural acumen of the mind from things that have already happened?--Reply: In the negative.

2116 Question II: Whether the opinion which prevails that Isaias and the other prophets uttered only prophecies which were to take place in the near future, or after no great space of time, can be reconciled with those prophecies, especially the Messianic and eschatological, which were certainly pronounced by these same prophets a long time in advance, and also with the common opinion of the Holy Fathers who assert with one accord that the prophets foretold those things also which were to be fulfilled after many ages?--Reply: In the negative.

2117 Question III: Whether it can be admitted that the prophets, not only as reformers of human depravity, and heralds of the divine Word for the benefit of those who heed it, but also as foretellers of future events, must have continually addressed themselves, not to future listeners but to contemporary ones, on an equal footing with themselves, and in a manner to make possible a clear understanding; that as a consequence the second part of book of Isaias (chapter 40, 66), in which the prophet living among them addresses and consoles not the Jews on an equal footing with Isaias, but the lamenting in Babylonian exile, cannot have had Isaias himself, who was already dead, as its author, but should be assigned to some unknown prophet living among the exiles?--Reply: In the negative.

2118 Question IV: Whether the philological argument taken from the language and style to impugn the identity of the author of the book of Isaias, is to be considered of such importance as to force a serious person, skilled in the art of criticism and in the Hebrew language, to recognize in the same book a plurality of authors?--Reply: In the negative.

2119 Question V: Whether solid arguments stand out, even taken collectively, to induce the conviction that the Book of Isaias is not to be attributed to Isaias himself alone, but to two, or even to several authors.--Reply: In the negative.


The Relationship Between Philosophy and Theology *

[From the Encyclical, "Communium rerum,'' April 21, 1909]


2120 . . . (Therefore) the task of philosophy is chiefly to set forth prominently the "reasonable service" [Rom. 12:1] of our faith, and the duty which follows from that of joining faith to divine authority which proposes the most profound mysteries which, proven by many evidences of truth, "are become exceedingly credible" [Ps. 92:5]. Far different from this is the task of theology, which relies on divine revelation and makes more solid in the faith those who confess that they rejoice in the honor of the Christian name; for no Christian should dispute how what the Catholic Church believes in heart, and confesses in words is not so; but always unhesitatingly holding to the same faith, but loving and living according to it, humbly seek the reason, insofar as he can, how it is so. If he can understand, let him give thanks to God; if he cannot let him not push his horns to the struggle [Cf. 1 Mach. 7:46], but let him submit his head to veneration.


The Historical Character of the Earlier Chapters of Genesis *

[Response of the Biblical Commission, June 30th, 1909]


2121 Question I: Whether the various exegetical systems which have been proposed to exclude the literal historical sense of the three first chapters of the Book of Genesis, and have been defended by the pretense of science, are sustained by a solid foundation?--Reply: In the negative.

2122 Question II: Whether, when the nature and historical form of the Book of Genesis does not oppose, because of the peculiar connections of the three first chapters with each other and with the following chapters, because of the manifold testimony of the Old and of the New Testaments; because of the almost unanimous opinion of the Holy Fathers, and because of the traditional sense which, transmitted from the Israelite people, the Church always held, it can be taught that the three aforesaid chapters of Genesis do not contain the stories of events which really happened, that is, which correspond with objective reality and historical truth; but are either accounts celebrated in fable drawn from the mythologies and cosmogonies of ancient peoples and adapted by a holy writer to monotheistic doctrine, after expurgating any error of polytheism; or allegories and symbols, devoid of a basis of objective reality, set forth under the guise of history to inculcate religious and philosophical truths; or, finally, legends, historical in part and fictitious in part, composed freely for the instruction and edification of souls?--Reply: In the negative to both parts.

2123 Question 111: Whether in particular the literal and historical sense can be called into question, where it is a matter of facts related in the same chapters, which pertain to the foundations of the Christian religion; for example, among others, the creation of all things wrought by God in the beginning of time; the special creation of man; the formation of the first woman from the first man; the oneness of the human race; the original happiness of our first parents in the state of justice, integrity, and immortality; the command given to man by God to prove his obedience; the transgression of the divine command through the devil's persuasion under the guise of a serpent; the casting of our first parents out of that first state of innocence; and also the promise of a future restorer?--Reply: In the negative.

2124 Question IV: Whether in interpreting those passages of these chapters, which the Fathers and Doctors have understood differently, but concerning which they have not taught anything certain and definite, it is permitted, while preserving the judgment of the Church and keeping the analogy of faith, to follow and defend that opinion which everyone has wisely approved?--Reply: In the affirmative.

2125 Question V: Whether all and everything, namely, words and phrases which occur in the aforementioned chapters, are always and necessarily to be accepted in a special sense, so that there may be no deviation from this, even when the expressions themselves manifestly appear to have been taken improperly, or metaphorically or anthropomorphically, and either reason prohibits holding the proper sense, or necessity forces its abandonment?--Reply: In the negative.

2126 Question VI: Whether, presupposing the literal and historical sense, the allegorical and prophetical interpretation of some passages of the same chapters, with the example of the Holy Fathers and the Church herself showing the way, can be wisely and profitably applied?--Reply: In the affirmative.

2127 Question VII: Whether, since in writing the first chapter of Genesis it was not the mind of the sacred author to teach in a scientific manner the detailed constitution of visible things and the complete order of creation, but rather to give to his people a popular notion, according as the common speech of the times went, accommodated to the understanding and capacity of men, the propriety of scientific language is to be investigated exactly and always in the interpretation of these?--Reply: In the negative.

2128 Question VIII: Whether in that designation and distinction of six days, with which the account of the first chapter of Genesis deals, the word (dies) can be assumed either in its proper sense as a natural day, or in the improper sense of a certain space of time; and whether with regard to such a question there can be free disagreement among exegetes?--Reply: In the affirmative.


The Authors and the Time of the Composition of the Psalms *

[Reply of the Biblical Commission, May 1, 1910]


2129 Question 1: Whether the designations Psalms of David, Hymns of David, Davidian Psalter, used in the ancient collections and in the Councils themselves to designate the Book of 150 psalms of the Old Testament, just as also the opinion of many Fathers and Doctors who held that absolutely all the psalms of the Psalter are to be ascribed to David alone, have such force that David ought to be held as the only author of the entire Psalter?--Reply: In the negative.

2130 Question 11: Whether from a comparison of the Hebraic with the Alexandrian Greek text and with other old versions it can rightly be argued that the titles of the psalms prefixed to the Hebraic text are more ancient than the so-called version of the seventy men; and therefore have derived, if not directly from the authors themselves of the psalms, at least from an old Judaic tradition?--Reply: In the affirmative.

2131 Question III: Whether the aforesaid titles of the psalms, witnesses of the Judaic tradition, since there is not serious argument against their authenticity, can prudently be called into doubt?--Reply: In the negative.

2132 Question IV: Whether, if the by no means infrequent testimonies of Holy Scripture about the natural skill of David, illustrated by the grace of the Holy Spirit in composing the religious hymns, are considered, the institutions established by him on the liturgical singing of the psalms, the attributing of the psalms to him both in the Old Testament and the New, and in the inscriptions themselves which were prefixed to the psalms from antiquity, besides the consensus of opinion of the Jews, Fathers, and Doctors of the Church, it can be prudently denied that David is the chief author of the hymns of the Psalter; or on the other hand affirmed that only a few hymns of the Psalter are to be attributed to him? Reply:--In the negative to both parts.

2133 Question V: Whether in appearance the Davidian origin can be denied to those psalms which are cited in the Old and New Testament distinctly under the name of David, among which to be considered before the rest come: psalm 2, Quare fremuerunt gentes; psalm 15, Conserva me, Domine; psalm 17 Diligam te, Domine, fortitudo mea; psalm 31, Beati, Quorum remissae sunt iniquitates; psalm 68, Salvum me fac, Deus; psalm 109, Dixit Dominus Domino meo?--Reply: In the negative.

2134 Question Vl: Whether the opinion of those can be admitted who hold that among the psalms of the psalter some, whether of David or of other authors, which for liturgical and musical reasons, the listlessness of the amanuenses, or for other unknown reasons, have been divided into several groups or joined into one; and likewise that there are other psalms, such as Miserere mei, Deus, which, that they may be made to fit in better with historic circumstances or the solemnities of the Jewish people, have been lightly revised and modified by the subtraction or addition of one or two verses, although preserving the inspiration of the entire sacred text?--Reply: In the affirmative to both parts.

2135 Question Vll: Whether the opinion can probably be sustained of those among more recent writers who, relying on internal indications only, or on an inaccurate interpretation of the sacred text, tried to show that not a few psalms were composed after the times of Esdras and Nehemias, even in the late period of the Machabees.--Reply: In the negative.

2136 Question VIII: Whether because of the many testimonies of the Sacred Books of the New Testament, and the unanimous consent of the Fathers, together also with the indications of the writers of the Judaic nation, more psalms should be recognized as prophetic and messianic, which have predicted the coming of the future Liberator, the kingdom, the priesthood, the passion, the death, and resurrection; and therefore their opinion ought to be completely rejected, who pervert the prophetic and messianic nature of the psalms and restrict the same oracles on Christ only to pronouncing the future lot of the elect people?--Reply: In the affirmative for both parts.


The Age for Admitting to First Eucharistic Communion *

[From the Decree, "Quem singular)," of the Congregation on the Sacraments, August 8, 1910]

2137 I. The age of discretion both for confession and for Holy Communion is that at which the child begins to reason, that is, at about the seventh year, more or less. The obligation of satisfying both precepts of confession and communion begins from that time [see n. 437].

2138 II. For first confession and for first communion a full and perfect knowledge of Christian doctrine is not necessary. But the child will be obliged afterwards to learn gradually the whole catechism in accord with his intelligence.

2139 III. The knowledge of religion which is required in a child, that he may prepare himself fittingly for his first communion, is that by which in accord with his capacity he perceives the mysteries of faith necessary by a necessity of means, and by which he distinguishes Eucharistic bread from the common and corporeal, in order that he may approach the most blessed Eucharist with that devotion which his age carries.

2140 IV. The obligation of the precept of confession and communion which rests upon a child, falls especially upon those who should have care of him, that is, upon parents, confessor, teachers, and pastor. But to the father, or to those who take his place, and to the confessor, it pertains, according to the Roman Catechism, to admit the child to first communion.

2141 V. Once or several times a year let the pastors take care to announce and to hold general communion for children, and to admit to it not only new communicants but also others who by the consent of their parents or confessor, as has been mentioned above, have already partaken for the first time from the holy altar. Let some days for instruction and preparation be set aside in advance.

2142 VI. Those who have charge over children must make every effort to see that these same children after first communion approach the holy table often, and, if it can be done, daily, just as Jesus Christ and Mother Church desire [see n. 1981 ff.]; and that they do this with that devotion of mind which is appropriate to such an age. Let those who have this responsibility remember besides the very serious obligation by which they are bound, see to it that the children themselves continue to be present at the public instructions in catechism, or otherwise in some manner supply the same with religious instruction.

2143 VII. The custom of never admitting children to confession, or of never absolving them when they have arrived at the use of reason, is to be disapproved entirely. Therefore, the local ordinaries will see to it, even by applying the remedy of the law, that this custom is entirely abandoned.

2144 VIII. The abuse of not administering Viaticum and extreme unction to children past the age of reason, and of burying them according to the rite of infants is entirely an abuse. Let the local ordinaries deal severely with those who do not abandon such a custom.


The Oath Against the Errors of Modernism *

[From Mot?' proprio, "Sacrorum antistitum,', September 1, 1910]


2145 I . . . firmly embrace and accept all and everything that has been defined, affirmed, and declared by the unerring magisterium of the Church, especially those chief doctrines which are directly opposed to the errors of this time. And first, I profess that God, the beginning and end of all things, can be certainly known and thus can also be demon strafed by the natural light of reason "by the things that are made" [cf. Rom. 1:20], that is, by the visible works of creation, as the cause by the effects. Secondly, I admit and recognize the external arguments of revelation, that is, divine facts, and especially miracles and prophecies, as very certain signs of the divine origin of the Christian religion; and I hold that these same arguments have been especially accommodated to the intelligence of all ages and men, even of these times. Thirdly, likewise, with a firm faith I believe that the Church, guardian and mistress of the revealed word, was instituted proximately and directly by the true and historical Christ Himself, while he sojourned among us, and that the same was built upon Peter, the chief of the apostolic hierarchy, and his successors until the end of time. Fourthly, I accept sincerely the doctrine of faith transmitted from the apostles through the orthodox fathers, always in the same sense and interpretation, even to us; and so I reject the heretical invention of the evolution of dogmas, passing from one meaning to another, different from that which the Church first had; and likewise I reject all error whereby a philosophic fiction is substituted for the divine deposit, given over to the Spouse of Christ and to be guarded faithfully by her, or a creation of the human conscience formed gradually by the efforts of men and to be perfected by indefinite progress in the future. Fifthly, I hold most certainly and profess sincerely that faith is not a blind religious feeling bursting forth from the recesses of the subconscious, unformed morally under the pressure of the heart and the impulse of the will, but the true assent of the intellect to the truth received extrinsically ex auditu, whereby we believe that what has been said, attested, and revealed by the personal God, our Creator and Lord, to be true on account of the authority of God the highest truth.

2146 I also subject myself with the reverence which is proper, and I adhere with my whole soul to all the condemnations, declarations, and prescriptions which are contained in the Encyclical letter, "Pascendi" [see n. 2071 ff.] and in the Decree, "Lamentabili" [see n. 2001 f.], especially on that which is called the history of dogma. In the same manner I disapprove the error of those who affirm that the faith proposed by the Church can be in conflict with history, and that Catholic dogmas, in the sense in which they are now understood, cannot be reconciled with the more authentic origins of the Catholic religion.--I also condemn and reject the opinion of those who say that the more erudite Christian puts on a dual personality, one of the believer, the other of the historian, as if it were permitted the historian to hold what is in contradiction to the faith of the believer; or to establish premises from which it follows that dogmas are either false or doubtful, provided they are not directly denied.--I disapprove likewise that method of studying and interpreting Sacred Scripture, which disregards the tradition of the Church, the analogy of faith, and the norms of the Apostolic See, and adheres to the fictions of the rationalists, and no less freely than boldly adopts textual criticism as the only and supreme rule.--Besides I reject the opinion of those who hold that to present the historical and theological disciplines the teacher or the writer on these subjects must first divest himself of previously conceived opinion either on the supernatural origin of Catholic tradition, or on the aid promised by God for the perpetual preservation of every revealed truth; then that the writings of the individual Fathers are to be interpreted only by the principles of science, setting aside all divine authority, and by that freedom of judgment with which any profane document is customarily 

2147 investigated. Finally, in short, I profess to be utterly free of the error according to which the modernists hold that there is nothing divine in the sacred tradition; or, what is far worse, admit this in the pantheistic sense, so that nothing remains but the bare and simple fact to be assimilated with the common facts of history, namely, of men by their industry, skill, and genius continuing through subsequent ages the school inaugurated by Christ and His disciples. So I retain most firmly the faith of the Fathers, and shall retain it until the final breath of life, regarding the certain gift of truth, which is, was, and will be always in the succession of the episcopacy from the apostles,* not so that what may seem better and more fitting according to each one's period of culture may be held, but so that the absolute and immutable truth preached * by the apostles from the beginning may never be believed otherwise, may never be understood otherwise.

 All these things I promise that I shall faithfully, completely, and sincerely keep and inviolably watch, never deviating from them in word and writing either while teaching or in any other pursuit. So I promise, so I swear, so may God, etc.


Certain Errors of the Orientals *


[From the letter, "Ex quo,,' to the Archbishops Apostolic

Delegates in Byzantium, in Greece, in Egypt, in Mesopotamia, in Persia, in Syria, and in the Oriental Indies, December 26, 1910]


2147a No less rashly than falsely does one approach this opinion, that the dogma concerning the procession of the Holy Spirit from the Son by no means is taken from the very words of the Gospel, or is sanctioned by the faith of the ancient Fathers;--most imprudently, likewise, is doubt raised as to whether the sacred dogmas on purgatory and on the Immaculate Conception of the Blessed Virgin Mary were acknowledged by the holy men of earlier years;--. . . regarding the constitution of the Church . . . first of all an error, long since condemned by Our predecessor, Innocent X, is being renewed [cf. n. 1091], in which it is argued that St. Paul is held as a brother entirely equal to St. Peter;--then, with no less falsity, one is invited to believe that the Catholic Church was not in the earliest days a sovereignty of one person, that is a monarchy; or that the primacy of the Catholic Church does not rest on valid arguments.--But . . . the Catholic doctrine on the most Blessed Sacrament of the Eucharist is not left untouched when it is taught inflexibly that the opinion can be accepted which maintains that among the Greeks the words of consecration do not produce an effect unless preceded by that prayer which they call epiclesis, *although, on the other hand, it is well known that to the Church there belongs no right whatsoever to innovate anything touching on the substance of the sacraments; and no less inharmonious with this is the view that confirmation conferred by any, priest at all is to be held valid.

 These opinions are noted as "grave errors."


The Author, the Time of Composition, and Historical Truth of the Gospel According to Matthew *

[Response of the Biblical Commission, June 19, 1911]


2148 I. Whether after noting the universal and constant agreement of the Church from the earliest times, which is clearly shown by the eloquent testimonies of the Fathers, the inscriptions of the manuscripts of the Gospels, even the most ancient versions of the Sacred Scriptures, and the catalogues handed down by the Holy Fathers, the ecclesiastical writers, the Highest Pontiffs, and the Councils, and finally the liturgical practice of the Eastern and Western Church, it can and should be affirmed with certainty that Matthew, the Apostle of Christ, is in fact the author of the vulgate Gospel under his name?--Reply: In the affirmative.

2149 II. Whether the opinion should be considered as sufficiently supported by the assent of tradition, which holds that Matthew preceded the other evangelists in his writing, and that he composed the first Gospel in the native language then employed by the Jews of Palestine, to whom that work was directed?--Reply: In the affirmative to both parts.

2150 III. Whether the redaction of this original text can be placed beyond the time of the overthrow of Jerusalem, so that the prophecies which are read there about this same overthrow were written after the event; or whether what is customarily alleged to be the testimony of Irenaeus [Adv. haer., lib. 3, cap. I, n. 2] of uncertain and controversial interpretation, is to be considered of such weight that it forces us to reject the opinion of those who think, more in accord with tradition, that the same redaction was composed even before Paul's arrival in the City? --Reply: In the negative to both parts.

2151 IV. Whether that opinion of certain moderns can even with some probability be sustained, according to which Matthew did not properly or strictly compose the Gospel such as has been handed down to us, but only some collection of the words or conversations of Christ, which another anonymous author has made use of as sources, whom they make the redactor of the Gospel itself.--Reply: In the negative.

2152 V. Whether from the fact that the Fathers and all ecclesiastical writers, indeed the Church herself from her own incunabula used, as canonical, only the Greek text of the Gospel known under the name of Matthew, not even excepting those who taught expressly that Matthew the Apostle wrote in his native language, it can be proved with certainty that the Greek Gospel is identical as to substance with that Gospel written in his native language by the same Apostle?--Reply: In the affirmative.

2153 VI. Whether from the fact that the author of the first Gospel pursues especially the dogmatic and apologetic aim, namely, of demonstrating to the Jews that Jesus is the Messias foretold by the prophets, and descended from the lineage of David, and from the fact that when arranging the deeds and words which he narrates and sets forth anew, he does not always hold to the chronological order, it may be deduced that these matters are not to be accepted as true; or, also, whether it can be affirmed that the accounts of the accomplishments and discourses of Christ, which are read in the Gospel itself, have undergone a kind of alteration and adaptation under the influence of the prophets of the Old Testament, and the status of the more mature Church, and so are by no means in conformity with historical truth?--Reply: In the negative to both parts.

2154 VII. Whether in particular the opinions of those persons should be rightly considered as devoid of solid foundation, who call into question the historical authenticity of the two first chapters, in which the genealogy and infancy of Christ are related; as also of certain opinions on dogmatic matters of great moment, as are those which have to do with the primacy of Peter [Matt. 16:17-19], the form of baptizing, together with the universal mission of preaching handed over to the apostles [Matt. 28:19-20], the apostles' profession of faith in the divinity of Christ [Matt. 14:33], and other such matters which occurred in Matthew announced in a special way?--Reply: In the affirmative.


The Author, the Time of Composition, the Historical Truth of the Gospels According to Mark and According to Luke *

[Reply of the Biblical Commission, June 26, 1912]


2155 I. Whether the evident judgment of tradition, from the beginnings of the Church in wonderful agreement with and confirmed by manifold arguments, namely, the eloquent testimonies of the Holy Fathers and ecclesiastical writers, the citations and allusions which occur in the writings of the same, the practice of the ancient heretics, the versions of the Books of the New Testament, the most ancient and almost entire body of manuscripts, and also the internal reasons taken from the very text of the Sacred Books, definitely compels the affirmation that Mark, the disciple and expounder of Peter, and Luke the physician, the hearer and companion of Paul, are in fact the authors of the Gospels which are respectively attributed to them?--Reply: In the affirmative.

2156 II. Whether the reasons by which some critics strive to demonstrate that the last twelve verses of the Gospel of Mark [Mark 16:9-20] were not written by Mark himself, but were added by another hand, are such as to give the right to affirm that they are not to be accepted as inspired and canonical; or at least demonstrate that the author of the said verses is not Mark?--Reply: In the negative to both parts.

2157 III. Whether one may likewise doubt the inspiration and canonicity of the accounts given by Luke of the infancy of Christ [Luke 1-2]; or the apparition of the Angel strengthening Christ, and the sweat of blood [Luke 22:43 f.]; or whether it can at least be shown by solid reasons--as pleased the ancient heretics, and is agreeable also to some more recent critics--that the said accounts do not belong to the genuine Gospel of Luke?--Reply: In the negative to both parts.

2158 IV. Whether those most rare and very peculiar documents, in which the Canticle Magnificat is directed not to the Blessed Virgin but to Elizabeth, can and should in any way prevail against the harmonious testimony of almost all manuscripts, both of the original Greek text and of the versions, as well as against the interpretation which the context no less than the spirit of the Virgin herself, and the constant tradition of the Church clearly exacts?--Reply: In the negative.

2159 V. Whether, with respect to the chronological order of the Gospels, it is right to withdraw from that opinion which, strengthened equally by the most ancient and continued testimony of tradition, testifies that Mark was the second in order to write and Luke the third, after Matthew, who was the first of all to write his Gospel in his native tongue; or, whether their opinion, which asserts that the Gospel was composed second and third before the Greek version of the first Gospel, is to be regarded in turn as in opposition to this idea?--Reply: In the negative to both parts.

2160 VI. Whether the time of composition of the Gospel of Mark and Luke may be postponed until the overthrow of the city of Jerusalem; or, because the prophecy of the Lord in Luke about the overthrow of this city seems more definite, it can be sustained that his Gospel at least was composed after the siege had already begun?--Reply: In the negative to both parts.

2161 VII. Whether it ought to be affirmed that the Gospel of Luke preceded the book of the Acts of the Apostles; and although this book, with same i author Luke [Acts 1:1 f.], was finished before the end of the Apostle's Roman captivity [Acts 28:30 f.], his Gospel was not composed after this time?--Reply: In the affirmative.

2162 VIII. Whether, keeping in mind both the testimonies of tradition and internal evidence, as regards the sources which both evangelists used in composing the Gospels, that opinion can prudently be called into question which holds that Mark wrote according to the preaching of Peter, but Luke according to the preaching of Paul; and which also asserts that other sources worthy of trust were also at hand for these same evangelists, either oral or even already consigned to writing?--Reply: In the negative.

2163 IX. Whether the words and deeds which are described accurately and, as it were, graphically by Mark according to the preaching of Peter, and are most sincerely set forth by Luke, following everything diligently from the beginning through witnesses clearly worthy of trust, inasmuch as they themselves from the beginning were eyewitnesses and ministers of the word [Luke 1:2 f.], rightly vindicate that complete historical faith in themselves which the Church has always given them; or, whether on the contrary the same deeds and actions are to be judged void of historical truth, at least in part, either because the writers were not eyewitnesses, or because in both Gospels defects in order and discrepancies in the succession of the deeds are not rarely caught; or because, since they came and wrote later, they were obliged to represent conceptions necessarily extraneous to the minds of Christ and the apostles, or deeds now more or less distorted by the imagination of the people; or, finally, because they indulged in preconceived dogmatic ideas, each one according to his purpose?--Reply: In the affirmative to the first part; in the negative to the second.


The Synoptic Question or the Mutual Relations between the Three Earlier Gospels *

[Reply of the Biblical Commission, June 26, 1912]


2164 I. Whether, preserving what must be jealously preserved according to the decisions made above, especially on the authenticity and integrity of the three Gospels of Matthew, Mark, and Luke; on the substantial identity of the Greek Gospel of Matthew with its early original; also on the order of time in which the same were written, to explain their mutual likenesses and differences, midst so many varying and opposite opinions of the authors, it is permitted for exegetes to dispute freely and to appeal to the hypotheses of tradition whether written or oral, or even of the dependence of one upon a preceding or upon several preceding?--Reply: In the affirmative.

2165 II. Whether they should be advised to preserve what was established above, who, supported by no testimony of tradition or by historical argument, easily taken in by the hypothesis publicly proclaimed of two sources, which labors to explain the composition of the Greek Gospel of Matthew and of the Gospel of Luke chiefly by their dependence upon the Gospel of Mark and a so-called collection of the Lord's discourses; and whether they are thus able to defend this freely?--Reply. In the negative to both parts.


The Author, Time of Composition, Historical Veracity of the Book of the Acts of the Apostles


[Reply of the Biblical Commission, June 12, 1913]


2166 I. Whether in view especially of the tradition of the whole Church going back to the earliest ecclesiastical writers, and noting the internal reasons of the book of Acts, considered in itself or in its relation to the third Gospel, and especially because of the mutual affinity and connection between the two prologues [Luke 1:1-4; Acts 1:1 f.], it must be held as certain that the volume that is entitled Actus A postolorum, or, (Greek text deleted), has Luke the Evangelist as author?--Reply: In the affirmative.

2167 II. Whether for critical reasons taken from the language and style, and from the manner of narrating, and from the oneness of aim and doctrine, it can be demonstrated that the book of the Acts of the Apostles should be attributed to one author alone; and therefore that the opinion of more recent writers which holds that Luke is not the only author of the book, but that different persons are to be recognized as authors of the same book is devoid of any foundation?--Reply: In the affirmative to both parts.

2168 III. Whether in outward appearance, the prominent chapters in the Acts where the use of the third person is broken off and the first person plural introduced, weaken the unity and authenticity of composition; or rather historically and philologically considered are to be said to confirm it?--Reply: In the negative to the first part; in the affirmative to the second.

2169 IV. Whether because of the fact that the book itself is abruptly concluded after scarcely making mention of the two years of Paul's first Roman captivity, it may be inferred that the author had written a second volume now lost, or had intended to write it; and so the time of composition of the Book of Acts can be deferred long after this captivity; or whether it should rather rightly and worthily be held that Luke toward the end of the first Roman captivity of the Apostle Paul had completed his book?--Reply: In the negative to the first part; in the affirmative to the second.

2170 V. Whether, if there is considered together the frequent and easy communication which Luke undoubtedly had with the first and prominent founders of the Palestinian church, and also with Paul, the Apostle of the Gentiles, whose assistant in the preaching of the Gospel and companion in travel he was; also his customary industry and diligence in seeking witnesses, and in observing things with his own eyes; also, and finally, the evident and amazing agreement for the most part of the Book of Acts with the letters of Paul and the more genuine monuments of history, it should be held with certainty that Luke had at hand sources worthy of all trust, and applied them accurately, well, and faithfully, so that he rightly indicates for himself full historical authority?--Reply: In the affirmative.

2171 VI. Whether the difficulties which are usually raised from the supernatural deeds related by Luke, and from the narration of certain discourses which, since they are handed down in summary, are considered fictitious and adapted to circumstances; also from certain passages, apparently at least, in disagreement with history whether profane or biblical; finally also from certain accounts which seem to be at odds with the author of the Acts, or with other-sacred authors, are such as can call the historical authority of the Acts into doubt or at least in some manner diminish it?--Reply: In the negative.


The Author, Integrity, and Time of Composition of the Pastoral

Letters of Paul the Apostle *

[Response of the Biblical Commission, June 12, 1913]


2172 I. Whether, keeping in mind the tradition of the Church which continues universally and steadily from the earliest times, just as the ancient ecclesiastical records testify in many ways, it should be held with certainty that the so-called pastoral letters, that is, the two to Timothy and another to Titus, notwithstanding the rashness of certain heretics who have eliminated them as being contrary to their dogma from the number of Pauline epistles, without giving any reason, were composed by the Apostle Paul himself, and have always been reckoned among the genuine and canonical?--Reply: In the affirmative.

2173 II. Whether the so-called fragmentary hypothesis introduced by certain more recent critics and variously set forth, who for no otherwise probable reason, rather while quarreling among themselves, contend that the pastoral letters were constructed at a later time from fragments of letters, or from corrupt Pauline letters by unknown authors, and notably increased, can bring some slight prejudice upon the clear and very strong testimony of tradition?--Reply: In the negative.

2174 III. Whether the difficulties which are brought up in many places whether from the style and language of the author, or from the errors especially of the Gnostics, who already at that time are described as serpents; or from the state of the ecclesiastical hierarchy, which is supposed to have been already evolved, and other such reasons in opposition in some way, weaken the opinion which holds the authenticity of the pastoral letters as valid and certain?--Reply: In the negative.

2175 IV. Whether, since no less from historical reasons as from ecclesiastical tradition, in harmony with the testimonies of the oriental and occidental most holy Fathers; also from the indications themselves which are easily drawn from the abrupt conclusion of the Book of the Acts and from the Pauline letters written at Rome, and especially from the second letter to Timothy, the opinion of a twofold Roman captivity of the Apostle Paul should be held as certain, it can be safely affirmed that the pastoral letters were written in that period of time which intervenes between the liberation from the first captivity and the death of the Apostle?--Reply: In the affirmitive.


The Author and Method of Composition of the Epistle to the Hebrews *

[Reply of the Biblical Commission, June 24, 1914]


2176 I. Whether so much force is to be attributed to the doubts which inthe first centuries possessed the minds of some in the Occident regarding the divine inspiration and Pauline origin of the Epistle to the Hebrews, because of the special abuse of heretics, that, although aware of the perpetual, unanimous, and continued affirmation of the Oriental Fathers, to which was added after the fourth century the full agreement of the entire Western Church; weighing also the acts of the Highest Pontiffs and of the sacred Councils, especially of Trent, and also the perpetual practice of the universal Church, one may hesitate to classify it with certainty not only among the canonical--which is determined regarding faith--but also among the genuine epistles of the Apostle Paul?--Reply: In the negative.

2177 II. Whether the arguments which are usually drawn from the unusual absence of the name of Paul, and the omission of the customary introduction and salutation in the Epistle to the Hebrews--or from the purity of the same Greek language, the elegance and perfection of diction and style,--or from the way by which the Old Testament is cited in it and arguments made from it,--or from certain differences which supposedly existed between the doctrine of this and of the other epistles of Paul, somehow are able to weaken the Pauline origin of the same; or whether, on the other hand, the perfect agreement of doctrine and opinions, the likeness of admonitions and exhortations, and also the harmony of the phrases and of the words themselves celebrated also by some non-Catholics, which are observed between it and the other writings of the Apostle of the Gentiles, demonstrate and confirm the same Pauline origin?--Reply: In the negative to the first part; in the affirmative to the second.

2178 III. Whether the Apostle Paul is so to be considered the author of this epistle that it should necessarily be affirmed that he not only conceived and expressed it all by the inspiration of the Holy Spirit, but also endowed it with that form with which it stands out?--Reply: In the negative, save for a later judgment of the Church.

BENEDICT XV 1914-1922


Parousia, or the Second Advent of Our Lord Jesus Christ in the Epistles of St. Paul the Apostle *

[Reply of the Biblical Commission, June 18, 1915]


2179 I. Whether to solve the difficulties which occur in the epistles of St. Paul and of the other apostles, where there is mention of "parousia," as they say, or of the second coming of our Lord Jesus Christ, a Catholic exegete is permitted to assert that the apostles, although under the inspiration of the Holy Spirit, taught no error, nevertheless express their own human feelings in which error or deception can lie concealed?-- Reply: In the negative.

2180 II. Whether, bearing in mind the genuine notion of the apostolic gift, and the undoubted fidelity of St. Paul with regard to the doctrine of the Master, likewise the Catholic dogma on the inspiration and inerrancy of the Holy Scriptures, according to which all that the sacred writer asserts, declares, and introduces ought to be maintained as asserted, declared, and introduced by the Holy Spirit; weighing also the texts of the epistles of the Apostle considered in themselves, especially in harmony with the method of speaking of the Lord himself, one should affirm that the Apostle Paul in his writings said nothing at all which does not agree perfectly with that ignorance of parousia of the time, which Christ Himself proclaimed to belong to man?--Reply: In the affirmative.

2181 III. Whether, noting the Greek expression, "(Greek text deleted) weighing also the explanation of the Fathers, especially of John Chrysostom, who was most versed in the native idiom and in the epistles of Paul, it is permitted to reject the traditional interpretation in the Catholic schools as more remotely desired and devoid of solid foundation (which was retained by the renewers themselves also of the sixteenth century), which explains the words of St. Paul in chapter 4, epist. 1 to the Thessalonians, vv. 15-7, without in any way involving the affirmation of parousia so proximate that the Apostle numbers himself and his readers among those faithful who are to go to meet Christ as survivers?--Reply: In the negative.


On Dying and Dead Schismatics *

[Reply of the Holy Office to various local ordinaries, May 17 1916]


2181a  I. Whether when material schismatics at the point of death, in good faith seek either absolution or extreme unction, these sacraments can be conferred on them without their renouncing errors?-- Reply:In the negative, but that it be required that they reject errors as best they can, and make a profession of faith.

 II. Whether absolution and extreme unction can be conferred on schismatics at the point of death when unconscious?--Reply:Conditionally, in the affirmative, especially if from additional circumstances it can be conjectured that they at least implicitly reject their errors, yet effectually removing scandal, at least by manifesting to bystanders that they accept the Church and have returned at the last moment to unity.

 III. As regards ecclesiastical burial the Roman Ritual must stand firm.


Spiritism *

[Reply of the Holy Office, April 21 1917]


2182 Whether it is permitted through a medium,as they call him, or without a medium, with or without the application of hypnotism, to be present at spiritistic conversations or manifestations of any kind, even though these phenomena present the appearance of honesty or piety, whether by interrogating souls or spirits, or by listening to responses, or only by looking on, even with a tacit or expressed protestation that one does not wish to have anything to do with wicked spirits.--Reply:In negative in all cases.


From the Codex of Canon Law promulgated on May 19, 1918, 

variously, see in Index systematicus. 


Certain Propositions on Knowledge of the Soul of Christ * 

[Decree of the Holy Office, June 5, 1918]


 When the question was proposed by the Sacred Congregation on Seminary and University Studies, whether the following propositions can be safely taught: 

2183 I. It is not established that there was in the soul of Christ while living among men the knowledge which the blessed and the comprehensors have [cf. Phil. 3:12,13 ].

2184  II. Nor can the opinion be called certain which has established that the soul of Christ was ignorant of nothing, but from the beginning knew all things in the Word, past, present, and future, or all things that God knows by the knowledge of vision.

2185   III. The opinion of certain more recent persons on the limited knowledge of the soul of Christ is to be accepted in Catholic schools no less than the notion of the ancients on universal knowledge.

 The Most Eminent and Reverend Cardinals, general Inquisitors in matters of faith and morals, the prayer of the Consultors being held first, decreed that the answer must be: In the negative.


T he Inerrancy of Holy Scripture* 

[From the Encyclical, "Spiritus Paraclitus," September 15, 1920]


2186 By the doctrine of Jerome those statements are well confirmed and illustrated by which Our predecessor, Leo XIII, solemnly declared the ancient and constant faith of the Church in the absolute immunity of Scriptures from any errors: Tantum abest . . .[see n. 1951 ]. And, introducing the definitions of the Councils of Florence and Trent, confirmed in the Vatican Synod, he has the following: "Therefore, nothing at all matters . . . otherwise He Himself were not the Author of all Sacred Scripture" [See n. 1952 ].

 Although these words of Our predecessors leave no place for ambiguity or evasion, We must grieve, Venerable Brothers, that not only were there not lacking some among those outside the Church, but even among the sons of the Catholic Church, moreover--which wounds Our soul more severely--among the clergy itself and the teachers of the sacred disciplines, who relying proudly on their own judgment, either openly reject the magisteriumof the Church on this subject or secretly oppose it. Indeed, We approve the plan of those who, to extricate themselves and others from the difficulties of the Sacred Codex, in order to eliminate these difficulties, rely on all the aids of scholarship and literary criticism, and investigate new avenues and methods of research; but they will wander pitifully from their purpose, if they disregard the precepts of Our predecessor and pass beyondcertain limits and bounds which the Fathers have set[ Prov. 22:28]. Yet by these precepts and limits the opinion of the more recent critics is not restrained, who, after introducing a distinction between the primary or religious element of Scripture, and the secondary or profane, wish, indeed, that inspiration itself pertain to all the ideas, rather even to the individual words of the Bible, but that its effects and especially immunity from error and absolute truth be contracted and narrowed down to the primary or religious element. For their belief is that that only which concerns religion is intended and is taught by God in the Scriptures; but that the rest, which pertains to the profane disciplines and serves revealed doctrine as a kind of external cloak of divine truth, is only permitted and is left to the feebleness of the writer. It is not surprising, then, if in physical, historical, and other similar affairs a great many things occur in the Bible, which cannot at all be reconciled with the progress of the fine arts of this age. There are those who contend that these fabrications of opinions are not in opposition to the prescripitions of Our predecessor, since he declared that the sacred writer in matters of nature speaks according to external appearance, surely fallacious [see n. 1947]. But how rashly, how falsely this is affirmed, is plainly evident from the very words of the Pontiff. 

2187 And no less do they dissent from the doctrine of the Church who think that the historical parts of Scriptures depend not on the absolute truth of facts, but only on what they callthe relativeand harmonious opinion of the multitude; and they do not hesitate to infer this from the very words of Pope Leo, because he said that the principles established regarding the things of nature can be transferred to the historical disciplines [see n.1949]. And so they contend that the sacred writers, just as in physical matters they spoke according to what was apparent, so they related events unwittingly, inasmuch as these seemed to be established according to the common opinion of the multitude or the false testimonies of others; and that they did not indicate the sources of their knowledge, and did not make the narrations of others their own. Why shall we refute at length a matter plainly injurious to Our predecessor, and false and full of error? For what is the similarity of the things of nature and history, when the physical are concerned with what "appears to the senses," and so should agree with phenomena; while on the other hand the law of history is chiefly this, that what is written must be in agreement with the things accomplished, according as they were accomplished in fact? If the opinion of these men is once accepted, how will that truth of sacred story stand safe, immune from every falsehood, which Our predecessor declares must be retained in the entire text of its literature? But if he affirms that the same principles that have a place in physics can to advantage be transferred to history and related disciplines, he certainly does not establish this on a universal basis, but is only professing that we use the same methods to refute the fallacies of adversaries as we use to protect the historical faith of Sacred Scripture against their attacks. . . .

2188  Nor is Sacred Scripture lacking other detractors; We recognize those who, if they are restrained within certain limits, so abuse right principles indeed that they cause the foundations of the truth of the Bible to totter, and undermine the Catholic doctrine handed down by the Fathers in common. Among these Fathers Jerome, if he were still alive, would surely hurl the sharpest weapons of his speech, because, neglecting the sense and judgment of the Church, they very smoothly take refuge in citations which they call implicit, or in accounts historical in appearance; or, they contend that certain kinds of literature are found in the sacred books, with which the whole and perfect truth of the divine word cannot be reconciled; or, they have such an opinion on the origin of the Bible that its authority collapses and utterly perishes. Now, what must be thought of those who in expounding the Gospels themselves diminish the human faith due them and overturn divine faith? For what our Lord Jesus Christ said, and what He did they are of the opinion did not come down to us entire and unchanged, although they are witnesses of all those who wrote down religiously what they themselves had seen and heard; but that--especially with reference to the fourth Gospel-- part came down from the evangelists who themselves planned and added much, and part was brought together from the account of the faithful of another age.

 Now, Venerable Brethren, with the passing of the fifteenth generation after the death of the greatest Doctor We have communicated with you not to delay to bring these words to the clergy and your people, that all, under the patronage and leadership of Jerome, may not only retain and guard the Catholic doctrine of the divine inspiration of the Scriptures, but may also cling most zealously to the principles which are prescribed in the Encyclical Letter, "Providentissimus Deus," and in this Our own. . . .


The Doctrines of Theosophy* 

[Reply of the Holy Office, July 18, 1919]


2189  Whether the doctrines, which today are called theosophical, can be in harmony with Catholic doctrine; and thus whether it is permitted to join theosophical societies, attend their meetings, and read their books, daily papers, journals, and writings.--Reply :In the negative in all cases.

PIUS XI 1922-1939


The Relation Between Church and State *

[From the Encyclical, "Ubi arcano," December 23, 1922]


2190 But if the Church thinks it unlawful to mingle in these worldly affairs, concerned in the mere controlling of politics, without reason, yet by her own right she strives that civil power invent no cause for obstructing in any way those higher blessings in which man's eternal salvation is contained, or for threatening harm or destruction by unjust laws and orders; or for undermining the divine constitution of the Church; or, finally, of trampling upon the sacred laws of God in the civil community of men.


The Law and Method of Following the Doctrine of St. Thomas Aquinas *

[From the Encyclical, "Studiorum Ducem," June 29, 1923]


2191 We desire very much that those especially who hold the magisteriaof the higher disciplines in the schools of the clergy note carefully and observe inviolably all the precepts which both Our predecessors, and first of all Leo XIII * and Pius X,* have decreed and We ourselves have ordered last year.* Moreover, let them be convinced that they will then satisfy the demands of their office and will likewise fulfill Our expectation, if, when they begin truly to love the Doctor Aquinas, by a long and intensive study of his works, and by interpreting the Doctor himself, they communicate the warmth of this love to the students under their instruction, and render them capable of exciting a similar zeal in others. 

2192 Naturally among lovers of St. Thomas, such as all the sons of the Church who are concerned with the highest studies should be, We desire that there exist that honorable rivalry with just freedom from which studies make progress, but no detraction which is not favorable to truth and which serves only to break the bonds of charity. Therefore, let whatever is prescribed * in the Code of Canon Law be sacred to each one of them, that "the professors may carry on the study of rational * philosophy and of theology and the instruction of their students in these disciplines according to the method, doctrines, and principles of the Angelic Doc- tor, and may hold them sacred," and that all so conduct themselves according to this norm as to be truly able to call him that master. "But let not some exact from others anything more than this which the Church the mistress and mother of all demands of all; for in those matters about which there is wont to be varied opinions among teachers of higher distinction among our Catholic schools no one is to be prevented from following the opinion which seems to him the more probable."


The Revival of Merits and Gifts * 

[From the Bull of Jubilee, "lnfinita Dei misericordia," May 29, 1924]


2193 Now when the Hebrews in the year of the Sabbath, after recovering their goods which had passed into the ownership of others, were returning "totheir own possession,"and the servants, now free, were betaking themselves "to their former family"[ Lev. 25:10], and the debt of the debtors was cancelled, all this more happily happens and is accomplished among us in the year of atonement. For, all who by doing penance carry out the salutary orders of the Apostolic See in the course of the great Jubilee, the same regain anew and receive that abundance of merits and gifts which they had lost by sinning, and they are so set free from the cruel domination of Satan that they regain the freedom "wherewith Christ has made us free" [ Gal. 4:31], and, finally, of all the punishment which they would have been obliged to pay for their faults and sins, because of the highly accumulated merits of Jesus Christ, the Blessed Virgin Mary, and the saints, they are fully absolved.


The Kingship of Christ * 

[From the Encyclical, "Quas primas," December 11, 1925]


2194 Moreover, on what foundation this dignity and power of our Lord rests, Cyril of Alexandria aptly observes: "He obtained his dominion over all creatures, to speak in a word, not by having wrested it by force or brought it in from some other source, but by His own essence and nature"; * naturally, His kingdom depends on that wonderful union which is called hypostatic. Therefore, it follows not only that Christ is to be adored as God by angels and men, but also that angels and men obey and are subject to His power as man, namely, that Christ obtains His power over all creatures solely in the name of the hypostatic union. ---But yet what could be more pleasing to us and more pleasant to contemplate than that Christ commands us not only by right of birth but also by an acquired right, that is, of redemption? Would that all forgetful men would recall what price they have cost our Savior, for, "not with corruptible things as with gold or silver were you redeemed but by the precious blood of Christ, as of a lamb unspotted and undefiled" [ 1 Pet. 1:18, 19]. Now we are not our own, since Christ has bought us "with a great price" [1 Cor. 5:20]; our very bodies "are members of Christ" [1 Cor. 6:15 ].

2195 Now to explain briefly the force and nature of this kingship, it is hardly sufficient to say that it consists of a threefold power, and if it lacked this, it is scarcely recognized as a kingship. Testimonies drawn and gathered from Sacred Scriptures indicate more than sufficiently this fact about the universal power of our Redeemer, and according to the Catholic faith it must be believed that Jesus Christ was given to men as a Redeemer, in whom to trust; but at the same time as a legislator, to whom to give obedience (Cone. Trid., sess. VI, can. 21 [see n. 831]). But the Gospels do not insist so much on the fact that He established laws, as they do of Him observing laws; and, indeed, whoever keep these precepts, the same are said in different words in different places by the divine Master both to prove their love for Him, and to remain in His love [ John 14:15; 15:10 ]. Jesus Himself declared to the Jews, who accused Him of violating the quiet of Sabbath by the wonderful healing of the sick man, that the Father had bestowed judicial power on Him: "For neither cloth the Father judge any man, but hath given all judgment to the Son" [John 5:22]; by which this also is understood--- since the fact cannot be separated from the judgment---that by His own right He confers rewards and punishments upon men while still living. And furthermore that power which is called executive is to be attributed to Christ, since it is necessary that all obey His power, and since no one can escape what has been imposed upon the contumacious in the imposing of punishment. 

 Nevertheless, that such a kingdom is spiritual in a special way, and pertains to spiritual things, not only do the words which we have quoted above from the Bible show, but Christ the Lord by His manner of action confirms. For, on more than one given occasion, when the Jews, or rather the apostles themselves were of the opinion through error that the Messias would deliver the people into liberty and would restore the kingdom of Israel, He Himself destroyed and dispelled their vain opinion and hope; when He was about to be proclaimed king by a surrounding multitude, He declined the name and honor by fleeing and hiding; in the presence of the Roman governor He declared that His kingdom was not "of this world" [ John 18:36]. Indeed. this kingdom is presented in the Gospels as such, into which men prepare to enter by doing penance; moreover, they cannot enter it except through faith and baptism, which, although an external rite, yet signifies and effects an interior regeneration; it is opposed only to the kingdom of Satan and to the powers of darkness, and demands of its followers not only that, with mind detached from wealth and earthly things, they prefer gentleness of character, and hunger and thirst after justice, but also that they renounce themselves and take up their cross. Moreover, since Christ as Redeemer has acquired the Church by His blood, and as Priest has offered and continues to offer Himself as a victim for our sins, does it not seem right that He assume the nature of both offices and participate in them?

2196 Otherwise he would err basely, who should deprive Christ, the man, of power over all civil affairs, since He has received the most absolute right over created things from the Father, so that all have been placed under His authority. But yet, as long as He led His life on earth, He abstained entirely from exercising such domination; and just as He once belittled the possession and desire of human things, so He then permitted and today permits the possession of them. And regarding this the following is very aptly said: "He does not snatch away mortal things, who gives heavenly kingdoms" [Hymn, "Crudelis Herodes," in the Office of the Epiphany]. And so the kingdom of our Redeemer embraces all men, and in this matter We gladly make the words of Our predecessor of immortal memory Our own: "Clearly His power is not only over Catholic peoples, or over those alone who, cleansed by holy baptism, surely belong to the Church, if right is considered, though error of opinion leads them in devious ways, or dissension separates them from charity, but it embraces even those who are reckoned as destitute of Christian faith, so that in all truth all mankind is under the power of Jesus Christ" [Encyclical, "Annum sacrum," given May 25, 1899]. Nor is there in this matter any difference among individuals and domestic and civic groups, because men united in society are no less under the power of Christ. Surely the same (Christ) is the source of individual and common salvation: "Neither is there salvation in any other; for there is no other name under heaven given to men, whereby we must be saved" [ Acts 4:12 ]; the same Person is the author of prosperity and true happiness for individual citizens and for the state: "For the city is not made happy from one source, and man from another, since the state is nothing else than a harmonious multitude of men."* Therefore, let the rulers of nations not refuse to offer the public service of reverence and obedience to the power of Christ through themselves and through the people, if they truly wish, while preserving their authority to advance and increase the fortunes of their country.


Laicism *

[From the same Encyclical, "Quas primas," December 11, 1925]


2197 Now, if we order that Christ the King be worshiped by all of Catholic name, by this very fact we intend to provide for the necessity of the times and to apply a special remedy for the plague which infects human society.* 

 We call the plague of our age so-called laicism, with its errors and nefarious efforts. . . . For the power of Christ over all nations has begun to be denied; hence, the right of the Church which exists from the very right of Christ, to teach the human race, to pass laws and to rule for the purpose of leading people especially to eternal salvation has been denied. Then, indeed, little by little the religion of Christ was placed on the same level with false religions, and was put in the same class most shamefully; it was then subjected to civil power, and was almost given over to the authority of rulers and magistrates; some proceeded further, who thought that a kind of natural religion, and some sort of natural impulse of the mind should be substituted for divine religion. States have not been lacking which proclaimed that they could live without God, and that their religion should consist in an impious neglect of God.


The Johannine Comma * 

[From the Decree of the Holy Office, January 13, 1897, and the Declaration of the Holy Office, June 2, 1927]


2198 To the question: "Whether it can safely be denied, or at least called intodoubt that the text of St. John in the first epistle, chapter 5, verse 7, is authentic, which read as follows: 'And there are three thatgive testimony in heaven, the Father, the Word, and the Holy Ghost. And these three are one?' "---the response was given on January 13, 1897: In the negative. At this response there arose on June 2, 1927, the following declaration, at first given privately by the same Sacred Congregation and afterwards repeated many times, which was made a part of public law in EB n. 121 by authority of the Holy Office itself:

 "This decree was passed to check the audacity of private teachers who attributed to themselves the right either of rejecting entirely the authenticity of the Johannine comma, or at least of calling it into question by their own final judgment. But it was not meant at all to prevent Catholic writers from investigating the subject more fully and, after weighing the arguments accurately on both sides, with that and temperance which the gravity of the subject requires, from inclining toward an opinion in opposition to its authenticity, provided they professed that they were ready to abide by the judgment of the Church, to which the duty was delegated by Jesus Christ not only of interpreting Holy Scripture but also of guarding it faithfully." 


Meetings to Procure the Unity of All Christians*

[From the Decree of the Holy Office, July 8, 1927]


2199  Whether it is permitted Catholics to be present at, or to take part in conventions, gatherings, meetings, or societies of non-Catholics which aim to associate together under a single agreement all who in any way lay claim to the name of Christian?

  Reply:In the negative, and there must be complete adherence to the decree ( De participatione catholicorum societati,"ad procurandam christianitatis unitatem") on the participation of Catholics in a society "to procure the unity of Christianity." *


The Connection of the Sacred Liturgy with the Church*

[From the Apostolic Constitution, "Divini cultus," December 20, 1928]


2200 Since the Church has received from her founder, Christ, the duty of guarding the holiness of divine worship, surely it is part of the same, of course after preserving the substance of the sacrifice and the sacraments, to prescribe the following: ceremonies, rites, formulas, prayers, chant--- by which that august and public ministry is best controlled, whose special name isLiturgy,as if an exceedingly sacred action. And the liturgy is an undoubtedly sacred thing; for, through it we are brought to God and are joined with Him; we bear witness to our faith, and we are obligated to it by a most serious duty because of the benefits and helps received, of which we are always in need. Hence a kind of intimate relationship between dogma and sacred liturgy, and likewise between Christian worship and the sanctification of the people. Therefore, Celestine I proposed and expressed a canon of faith in the venerated formulas of the Liturgy: "Let the law of supplication establish the law of believing. For when the leaders of holy peoples administer legislation enjoined upon themselves they plead the cause of the human race before divine Clemency, and they beg and pray while the entire Church sighs with them" [see n.139 ].


Masturbation Procured Directly*

[From the Decree of the Holy Office, August 2, 1929]


2201 Whether masturbation procured directly is permitted to obtain sperm, by which a contagious diseasebIenorragia(gonorrhea) may be detected and, insofar as it can be done, cured. 

  Reply: In the negative.