Monday, November 23, 2009

The Syllabus of Errors

Pius IX
In 1864 Pope Pius IX published as an appendix to his Papal Encyclical Quanta Cura a Syllabus listing the errors of the Modern Age.1 It helped propel the Papacy into an age of reaction and gave the forces that opposed the Catholic Church enormous ammunition in their battle against it.

Now in all fairness to Pius IX he had stated out as a relatively Liberal Pope but his treatment during the Revolutions of 1848-49 C.E., had soured his disposition towards the modern world. During it he had been forced to flee when revolutionaries seized control of Rome. He had not been very well treated. Further the aim of the revolutionaries was to divest the papacy of the Papal States, and create a secular united Italy. The Pope was not congenial to the idea of losing the Papal States and the fact that a great many of the Liberals and Nationalists who wanted a secular united Italy were very anti-clerical did not help.2

When the Pope was restored by French troops in 1849 he inaugurated a period of reaction. The various liberal measures that had characterized the beginning of his reign were not reinstated instead the autocratic, features of the Papal States reinforced and so was clerical domination. The result was that Papal rule in the Papal States became deeply unpopular. Everything from censorship, to arbitrary Police power was significantly increased. In many respects the Papal States, aside from being poorly governed, were a Police state; riddled with informers and Secret Police agents.3

It was only the presence of French troops that kept the Papal States from collapsing due to internal tensions. It was agreed that so long as French troops remained any attempt to overthrow the Papacy would fail. It is only fair to mention that there were violent revolutionaries who desired to overthrow the Papal States and make Rome the Capital of a United Italy.4

When the great Italian Diplomat Cavour of Piedmont acting for the King of Sardinia, (who was also ruler of Piedmont), managed to with the aid of France to acquire the greater part of Italy in the years 1858-1861. This included most of the Papal States which simply collapsed into the hands of Victor Emmanuel II of Sardinia who thereby became King of Italy.5

This thoroughly enraged Pius IX who believed that a vast Satanic conspiracy was out to destroy the Church and that the Church needed in order to pursue its functions the temporal domination of the Papal States. The fact that the inhabitants of the Papal states were heartedly sick of incompetent, authoritarian, clerical rule was of course irrelevant to him. With French troops still in Rome the Pope was able to keep control of the area around Rome and continue the rule of the clerics.6

Feeling that the world was closing in on the Church and that the forces of darkness were gathering to smother the Church he felt the need for a counterblast as well as demanding that the conquered portions of the Papal states be handed back to him. Pius IX thus absolutely refused to negotiate at all.7

An example of Pius’ intransigence to say nothing of it being an example of intrinsic evil, was the case of Edgardo Mortara. Edgardo Mortara was a young Jewish boy who had been secretly baptised by a Christian servant in the first two years of his life. Later when this was revealed, Papal Police kidnapped the child took him to Rome, refused to return the child to his parents and proceeded to brainwash the young boy into becoming a fervent Catholic. All this with Pius IX strong supported. During this whole disgraceful affair Pius IX whined continually; viewing himself as the victim. Sadly Edgardo Mortara was far from the only example of this type of wickedness. Not surprisingly this generated a great deal of bad publicity.8

That Italian nationalists wanted to unify Italy and make Rome the capital of Italy was not a surprise that Pius IX refused to recognize that many of these Italian Nationalists were sincere Catholics perfectly willing to negotiate generous terms with the Papacy was ignored by Pius IX to him they were all servants of Satan out to destroy the Church.9

It was in this most inauspicious circumstance that in 1864 along with the Encyclical Quanta Cura the so-called Syllabus of Errors was attached to it and also released. Consisting of quotations of previous Papal documents it is basically a cry of impotent rage and anger at the modern world and much of it is even in mid-nineteenth century terms both flaky and repellent.

The following is the complete Syllabus of Errors with my commentary on some of the more absurd bits.
Pope Pius IX

1. There exists no Supreme, all-wise, all-provident Divine Being, distinct from the universe, and God is identical with the nature of things, and is, therefore, subject to changes. In effect, God is produced in man and in the world, and all things are God and have the very substance of God, and God is one and the same thing with the world, and, therefore, spirit with matter, necessity with liberty, good with evil, justice with injustice.—Allocution "Maxima quidem," June 9, 1862.
Why Pius IX is wasting his time condemning Pantheism, a doctrine of then as now of only moderate appeal is beyond me.
2. All action of God upon man and the world is to be denied.—Ibid.

3. Human reason, without any reference whatsoever to God, is the sole arbiter of truth and falsehood, and of good and evil; it is law to itself, and suffices, by its natural force, to secure the welfare of men and of nations.—Ibid.

4. All the truths of religion proceed from the innate strength of human reason; hence reason is the ultimate standard by which man can and ought to arrive at the knowledge of all truths of every kind.—Ibid. and Encyclical "Qui pluribus," Nov. 9, 1846, etc.
Pius IX fails to recognize that he as just condemned a great many Catholic theologians who thought the truths of Christianity were perfectly in tune with human reason.
5. Divine revelation is imperfect, and therefore subject to a continual and indefinite progress, corresponding with the advancement of human reason.—Ibid.
Since Humans are imperfect I fail to see how their interpretation of divine revelation could be anything but imperfect.
6. The faith of Christ is in opposition to human reason and divine revelation not only is not useful, but is even hurtful to the perfection of man.—Ibid.
7. The prophecies and miracles set forth and recorded in the Sacred Scriptures are the fiction of poets, and the mysteries of the Christian faith the result of philosophical investigations. In the books of the Old and the New Testament there are contained mythical inventions, and Jesus Christ is Himself a myth.
An attack on the then emerging discipline of Biblical criticism. And of course a demand that Catholics ignore it and refuse to have anything to do with it.

8. As human reason is placed on a level with religion itself, so theological must be treated in the same manner as philosophical sciences.—Allocution "Singulari quadam," Dec. 9, 1854.

9. All the dogmas of the Christian religion are indiscriminately the object of natural science or philosophy, and human reason, enlightened solely in an historical way, is able, by its own natural strength and principles, to attain to the true science of even the most abstruse dogmas; provided only that such dogmas be proposed to reason itself as its object.—Letters to the Archbishop of Munich, "Gravissimas inter," Dec. 11, 1862, and "Tuas libenter," Dec. 21, 1863.

10. As the philosopher is one thing, and philosophy another, so it is the right and duty of the philosopher to subject himself to the authority which he shall have proved to be true; but philosophy neither can nor ought to submit to any such authority.—Ibid., Dec. 11, 1862.
Not exactly well phrased. This of course is actually a reference to Catholic Theologians and Philosophers having to submit themselves to the authority of the Catholic hierarchy.
11. The Church not only ought never to pass judgment on philosophy, but ought to tolerate the errors of philosophy, leaving it to correct itself.—Ibid., Dec. 21, 1863.
An attack on the idea that Philosophers and others have freedom of expression.

12. The decrees of the Apostolic See and of the Roman congregations impede the true progress of science.—Ibid.
Well one could give the example of Galileo here.

13. The method and principles by which the old scholastic doctors cultivated theology are no longer suitable to the demands of our times and to the progress of the sciences.—Ibid.

14. Philosophy is to be treated without taking any account of supernatural revelation.—Ibid.


15. Every man is free to embrace and profess that religion which, guided by the light of reason, he shall consider true.—Allocution "Maxima quidem," June 9, 1862; Damnatio "Multiplices inter," June 10, 1851.
One of Pius IX’s great bugaboos, freedom of religion. To Pius a great and terrible evil. So he hysterically denounced freedom of religion and even worst the terrible refusal of states to make life difficult for non-Catholics.
16. Man may, in the observance of any religion whatever, find the way of eternal salvation, and arrive at eternal salvation.—Encyclical "Qui pluribus," Nov. 9, 1846.

17. Good hope at least is to be entertained of the eternal salvation of all those who are not at all in the true Church of Christ.—Encyclical "Quanto conficiamur," Aug. 10, 1863, etc.
Since of course salvation can only be found in the Catholic Church any attempt to even suggest that salvation may be attained outside it is of course both wicked and evil.
18. Protestantism is nothing more than another form of the same true Christian religion, in which form it is given to please God equally as in the Catholic Church.—Encyclical "Noscitis," Dec. 8, 1849.
Of course Protestantism is the great heresy of which no-compromise or accommodation can ever be made with.

Pests of this kind are frequently reprobated in the severest terms in the Encyclical "Qui pluribus," Nov. 9, 1846, Allocution "Quibus quantisque," April 20, 1849, Encyclical "Noscitis et nobiscum," Dec. 8, 1849, Allocution "Singulari quadam," Dec. 9, 1854, Encyclical "Quanto conficiamur," Aug. 10, 1863.
Since both Socialism and Communism threatened the temporal authority, (wealth and power) of the church they are both to be condemned. Organizations that promote those ideas, including Liberal-Catholicism are also condemned. The fear of higher Biblical criticism is also obvious.
19. The Church is not a true and perfect society, entirely free- nor is she endowed with proper and perpetual rights of her own, conferred upon her by her Divine Founder; but it appertains to the civil power to define what are the rights of the Church, and the limits within which she may exercise those rights.—Allocution "Singulari quadam," Dec. 9, 1854, etc.
Interestingly this is not a traditional Catholic belief but is in fact contrary to centuries of practice whereby the Church agreed to having her power limited by allowing the state to at least have some say in national church affairs. The outstanding example of this was the French Church which traditionally had an enormous amount of independence from Rome and was to a large extent run by the French government.11
20. The ecclesiastical power ought not to exercise its authority without the permission and assent of the civil government.—Allocution "Meminit unusquisque," Sept. 30, 1861.

21. The Church has not the power of defining dogmatically that the religion of the Catholic Church is the only true religion.—Damnatio "Multiplices inter," June 10, 1851.
The desire of Pius IX to impose Catholicism is made quite clear.

22. The obligation by which Catholic teachers and authors are strictly bound is confined to those things only which are proposed to universal belief as dogmas of faith by the infallible judgment of the Church.—Letter to the Archbishop of Munich, "Tuas libenter," Dec. 21, 1863.
Free thought is wicked especially if exercised by Catholics.

23. Roman pontiffs and ecumenical councils have wandered outside the limits of their powers, have usurped the rights of princes, and have even erred in defining matters of faith and morals.—Damnatio "Multiplices inter," June 10, 1851.
Well in the Middle Ages and early modern times a great many Catholic Theologians etc., would have fully agreed with this point of view.
24. The Church has not the power of using force, nor has she any temporal power, direct or indirect.—Apostolic Letter "Ad Apostolicae," Aug. 22, 1851.
No doubt trying to justify the Police state that was the Papal States at this time.

25. Besides the power inherent in the episcopate, other temporal power has been attributed to it by the civil authority granted either explicitly or tacitly, which on that account is revocable by the civil authority whenever it thinks fit.—Ibid.

26. The Church has no innate and legitimate right of acquiring and possessing property.—Allocution "Nunquam fore," Dec. 15, 1856; Encyclical "Incredibili," Sept. 7, 1863.

27. The sacred ministers of the Church and the Roman pontiff are to be absolutely excluded from every charge and dominion over temporal affairs.—Allocution "Maxima quidem," June 9, 1862.

28. It is not lawful for bishops to publish even letters Apostolic without the permission of Government.—Allocution "Nunquam fore," Dec. 15, 1856.

29. Favours granted by the Roman pontiff ought to be considered null, unless they have been sought for through the civil government.—Ibid.
The above are a whole list of complaints that the Church is not subject to the state and that its authority over temporal matters is strictly limited.
30. The immunity of the Church and of ecclesiastical persons derived its origin from civil law.—Damnatio "Multiplices inter," June 10, 1851.
Pius IX lets the cat out of the bag. The Church is superior to the state. Of course Pius IX is wrong and those commentators who stated that the immunity of clerical persons from Civil law originated in Civil law itself were right. Thus we see the beginning of the idea that the Church is not subject to the state but the state should be in many respects subject to the Church.
31. The ecclesiastical forum or tribunal for the temporal causes, whether civil or criminal, of clerics, ought by all means to be abolished, even without consulting and against the protest of the Holy See.—Allocution "Nunquam fore," Dec. 15, 1856; Allocution "Acerbissimum," Sept. 27, 1852.

32. The personal immunity by which clerics are exonerated from military conscription and service in the army may be abolished without violation either of natural right or equity. Its abolition is called for by civil progress, especially in a society framed on the model of a liberal government.—Letter to the Bishop of Monreale "Singularis nobisque," Sept. 29, 1864.
Again the Church is not subject to the state.

33. It does not appertain exclusively to the power of ecclesiastical jurisdiction by right, proper and innate, to direct the teaching of theological questions.—Letter to the Archbishop of Munich, "Tuas libenter," Dec. 21, 1863.

34. The teaching of those who compare the Sovereign Pontiff to a prince, free and acting in the universal Church, is a doctrine which prevailed in the Middle Ages.—Apostolic Letter "Ad Apostolicae," Aug. 22, 1851.

35. There is nothing to prevent the decree of a general council, or the act of all peoples, from transferring the supreme pontificate from the bishop and city of Rome to another bishop and another city.—Ibid.
Actually this is a truism. It was certainly doctrine in the later Middle Ages that General Councils of the Church could both depose and make Popes and they did so on a number of occasions.
36. The definition of a national council does not admit of any subsequent discussion, and the civil authority car assume this principle as the basis of its acts.—Ibid.

37. National churches, withdrawn from the authority of the Roman pontiff and altogether separated, can be established.—Allocution "Multis gravibusque," Dec. 17, 1860.

38. The Roman pontiffs have, by their too arbitrary conduct, contributed to the division of the Church into Eastern and Western.—Apostolic Letter "Ad Apostolicae," Aug. 22, 1851.
Here Pius IX quarrels with history. The idea that the Catholic Church contributed nothing to the division of the Catholic and Orthodox Churches is simply special pleading.

39. The State, as being the origin and source of all rights, is endowed with a certain right not circumscribed by any limits.—Allocution "Maxima quidem," June 9, 1862.

40. The teaching of the Catholic Church is hostile to the well- being and interests of society.—Encyclical "Qui pluribus," Nov. 9, 1846; Allocution "Quibus quantisque," April 20, 1849.

41. The civil government, even when in the hands of an infidel sovereign, has a right to an indirect negative power over religious affairs. It therefore possesses not only the right called that of "exsequatur," but also that of appeal, called "appellatio ab abusu."—Apostolic Letter "Ad Apostolicae," Aug. 22, 1851
Roughly translated. The state can only do things that benefit the Church not anything that impedes it, has defined by Pius IX.
42. In the case of conflicting laws enacted by the two powers, the civil law prevails.—Ibid.

43. The secular Dower has authority to rescind, declare and render null, solemn conventions, commonly called concordats, entered into with the Apostolic See, regarding the use of rights appertaining to ecclesiastical immunity, without the consent of the Apostolic See, and even in spite of its protest.—Allocution "Multis gravibusque," Dec. 17, 1860; Allocution "In consistoriali," Nov. 1, 1850.
Here is a legitimate call for complaint. It was true that various powers were unilaterally rescinding agreements that had given the Church many rights over education etc. This would of course be infuriating. Of course a lot of it was because these powers and privileges were in favour of Catholicism and not given to any other faith and thus violated the Liberal idea of neutrality in matters of religion.
44. The civil authority may interfere in matters relating to religion, morality and spiritual government: hence, it can pass judgment on the instructions issued for the guidance of consciences, conformably with their mission, by the pastors of the Church. Further, it has the right to make enactments regarding the administration of the divine sacraments, and the dispositions necessary for receiving them.—Allocutions "In consistoriali," Nov. 1, 1850, and "Maxima quidem," June 9, 1862.

45. The entire government of public schools in which the youth- of a Christian state is educated, except (to a certain extent) in the case of episcopal seminaries, may and ought to appertain to the civil power, and belong to it so far that no other authority whatsoever shall be recognized as having any right to interfere in the discipline of the schools, the arrangement of the studies, the conferring of degrees, in the choice or approval of the teachers.—Allocutions "Quibus luctuosissimis," Sept. 5, 1851, and "In consistoriali," Nov. 1, 1850.

46. Moreover, even in ecclesiastical seminaries, the method of studies to be adopted is subject to the civil authority.—Allocution "Nunquam fore," Dec. 15, 1856.

47. The best theory of civil society requires that popular schools open to children of every class of the people, and, generally, all public institutes intended for instruction in letters and philosophical sciences and for carrying on the education of youth, should be freed from all ecclesiastical authority, control and interference, and should be fully subjected to the civil and political power at the pleasure of the rulers, and according to the standard of the prevalent opinions of the age.—Epistle to the Archbishop of Freiburg, "Cum non sine," July 14, 1864.
Public education by the state in a faith neutral manner is of course wicked; public education must continue to be the monopoly of the Church.

48. Catholics may approve of the system of educating youth unconnected with Catholic faith and the power of the Church, and which regards the knowledge of merely natural things, and only, or at least primarily, the ends of earthly social life.—Ibid.

49. The civil power may prevent the prelates of the Church and the faithful from communicating freely and mutually with the Roman pontiff.—Allocution "Maxima quidem," June 9, 1862.

50. Lay authority possesses of itself the right of presenting bishops, and may require of them to undertake the administration of the diocese before they receive canonical institution, and the Letters Apostolic from the Holy See.—Allocution "Nunquam fore," Dec. 15, 1856.

51. And, further, the lay government has the right of deposing bishops from their pastoral functions, and is not bound to obey the Roman pontiff in those things which relate to the institution of bishoprics and the appointment of bishops.—Allocution "Acerbissimum," Sept. 27, 1852, Damnatio "Multiplices inter," June 10, 1851.

52. Government can, by its own right, alter the age prescribed by the Church for the religious profession of women and men; and may require of all religious orders to admit no person to take solemn vows without its permission.—Allocution "Nunquam fore," Dec. 15, 1856.

53. The laws enacted for the protection of religious orders and regarding their rights and duties ought to be abolished; nay, more, civil Government may lend its assistance to all who desire to renounce the obligation which they have undertaken of a religious life, and to break their vows. Government may also suppress the said religious orders, as likewise collegiate churches and simple benefices, even those of advowson and subject their property and revenues to the administration and pleasure of the civil power.—Allocutions "Acerbissimum," Sept. 27, 1852; "Probe memineritis," Jan. 22, 1855; "Cum saepe," July 26, 1855.

54. Kings and princes are not only exempt from the jurisdiction of the Church, but are superior to the Church in deciding questions of jurisdiction.—Damnatio "Multiplices inter," June 10, 1851.

55. The Church ought to be separated from the .State, and the State from the Church.—Allocution "Acerbissimum," Sept. 27, 1852.
Again Pius IX longs for those days in the Middle Ages when some Popes were able to dictate to Kings. It of interest that although the Church was to be free of the authority of the state, the state was not to be free of the authority of the Church.
56. Moral laws do not stand in need of the divine sanction, and it is not at all necessary that human laws should be made conformable to the laws of nature and receive their power of binding from God.—Allocution "Maxima quidem," June 9, 1862.

57. The science of philosophical things and morals and also civil laws may and ought to keep aloof from divine and ecclesiastical authority.—Ibid.

58. No other forces are to be recognized except those which reside in matter, and all the rectitude and excellence of morality ought to be placed in the accumulation and increase of riches by every possible means, and the gratification of pleasure.—Ibid.; Encyclical "Quanto conficiamur," Aug. 10, 1863.

59. Right consists in the material fact. All human duties are an empty word, and all human facts have the force of right.—Allocution "Maxima quidem," June 9, 1862.

60. Authority is nothing else but numbers and the sum total of material forces.—Ibid.
So I guess democracy is a bad idea.

61. The injustice of an act when successful inflicts no injury on the sanctity of right.—Allocution "Jamdudum cernimus," March 18, 1861.

62. The principle of non-intervention, as it is called, ought to be proclaimed and observed.—Allocution "Novos et ante," Sept. 28, 1860.
What Pius IX means is non intervention in terms of religion. From his point of view intervention in favour of Catholicism is always mandated and against other religions.
63. It is lawful to refuse obedience to legitimate princes, and even to rebel against them.—Encyclical "Qui pluribus," Nov. 9, 1864; Allocution "Quibusque vestrum," Oct. 4, 1847; "Noscitis et Nobiscum," Dec. 8, 1849; Apostolic Letter "Cum Catholica."
How Pius IX squares this with his condemnation of state interference in Church affairs is not clear. Although it is obvious it is a swipe at the revolutionaries of 1848.
64. The violation of any solemn oath, as well as any wicked and flagitious action repugnant to the eternal law, is not only not blamable but is altogether lawful and worthy of the highest praise when done through love of country.—Allocution "Quibus quantisque," April 20, 1849.
This is a swipe at those states which abrogated agreements with the Vatican.

65. The doctrine that Christ has raised marriage to the dignity of a sacrament cannot be at all tolerated.—Apostolic Letter "Ad Apostolicae," Aug. 22, 1851.

66. The Sacrament of Marriage is only a something accessory to the contract and separate from it, and the sacrament itself consists in the nuptial benediction alone.—Ibid.

67. By the law of nature, the marriage tie is not indissoluble, and in many cases divorce properly so called may be decreed by the civil authority.—Ibid.; Allocution "Acerbissimum," Sept. 27, 1852.
This is again a truism. Of course the Church granted “Divorces” all the time it simply called them annulments.

68. The Church has not the power of establishing diriment impediments of marriage, but such a power belongs to the civil authority by which existing impediments are to be removed.—Damnatio "Multiplices inter," June 10, 1851.
Again a simple truism going back to the Roman Empire.

69. In the dark ages the Church began to establish diriment impediments, not by her own right, but by using a power borrowed from the State.—Apostolic Letter "Ad Apostolicae," Aug. 22, 1851.

70. The canons of the Council of Trent, which anathematize those who dare to deny to the Church the right of establishing diriment impediments, either are not dogmatic or must be understood as referring to such borrowed power.—Ibid.

71. The form of solemnizing marriage prescribed by the Council of Trent, under pain of nullity, does not bind in cases where the civil law lays down another form, and declares that when this new form is used the marriage shall be valid.

72. Boniface VIII was the first who declared that the vow of chastity taken at ordination renders marriage void.—Ibid.

73. In force of a merely civil contract there may exist between Christians a real marriage, and it is false to say either that the marriage contract between Christians is always a sacrament, or that there is no contract if the sacrament be excluded.—Ibid.; Letter to the King of Sardinia, Sept. 9, 1852; Allocutions "Acerbissimum," Sept. 27, 1852, "Multis gravibusque," Dec. 17, 1860.

74. Matrimonial causes and espousals belong by their nature to civil tribunals.—Encyclical "Qui pluribus," Nov. 9 1846; Damnatio "Multiplices inter," June 10, 1851, "Ad Apostolicae," Aug. 22, 1851; Allocution "Acerbissimum," Sept. 27, 1852.
Pius IX clearly wants Marriage to be under the control of the Church. This is of course nonsense. That marriage is a civil contract sanctified by the state is a simple truism. The sacrament of marriage as defined by the Church is a different thing. It is clear that Pius IX wanted the abolition of Civil Marriage.

75. The children of the Christian and Catholic Church are divided amongst themselves about the compatibility of the temporal with the spiritual power.—"Ad Apostolicae," Aug. 22, 1851.
Another truism.

76. The abolition of the temporal power of which the Apostolic See is possessed would contribute in the greatest degree to the liberty and prosperity of the Church.—Allocutions "Quibus quantisque," April 20, 1849, "Si semper antea," May 20, 1850.


77. In the present day it is no longer expedient that the Catholic religion should be held as the only religion of the State, to the exclusion of all other forms of worship.—Allocution "Nemo vestrum," July 26, 1855.

78. Hence it has been wisely decided by law, in some Catholic countries, that persons coming to reside therein shall enjoy the public exercise of their own peculiar worship.—Allocution "Acerbissimum," Sept. 27, 1852.

79. Moreover, it is false that the civil liberty of every form of worship, and the full power, given to all, of overtly and publicly manifesting any opinions whatsoever and thoughts, conduce more easily to corrupt the morals and minds of the people, and to propagate the pest of indifferentism.—Allocution "Nunquam fore," Dec. 15, 1856.
Pius IX really did abominate religious tolerance. But then the religious tolerance of the Papal states was pretty minimal. Again what he longed for was a return to the theocratic states of the Middle Ages complete with State Churches and the suppression of contrary belief.
80. The Roman Pontiff can, and ought to, reconcile himself, and come to terms with progress, liberalism and modern civilization.—Allocution "Jamdudum cernimus," March 18, 1861.
What can one say to such obscurantism?

The following paragraphs, although often appended to The Syllabus, actually derive from the encyclical of 21 November 1873, Etsi multa (On the Church in Italy, Germany, and Switzerland), by the same Holy Father, Pope Pius IX.
The faith teaches us and human reason demonstrates that a double order of things exists, and that we must therefore distinguish between the two earthly powers, the one of natural origin which provides for secular affairs and the tranquillity of human society, the other of supernatural origin, which presides over the City of God, that is to say the Church of Christ, which has been divinely instituted for the sake of souls and of eternal salvation.... The duties of this twofold power are most wisely ordered in such a way that to God is given what is God's (Matt. 22:21), and because of God to Caesar what is Caesar's, who is great because he is smaller than heaven. Certainly the Church has never disobeyed this divine command, the Church which always and everywhere instructs the faithful to show the respect which they should inviolably have for the supreme authority and its secular rights....
.... Venerable Brethren, you see clearly enough how sad and full of perils is the condition of Catholics in the regions of Europe which We have mentioned. Nor are things any better or circumstances calmer in America, where some regions are so hostile to Catholics that their governments seem to deny by their actions the Catholic faith they claim to profess. In fact, there, for the last few years, a ferocious war on the Church, its institutions and the rights of the Apostolic See has been raging.... Venerable Brothers, it is surprising that in our time such a great war is being waged against the Catholic Church. But anyone who knows the nature, desires and intentions of the sects, whether they be called masonic or bear another name, and compares them with the nature the systems and the vastness of the obstacles by which the Church has been assailed almost everywhere, cannot doubt that the present misfortune must mainly be imputed to the frauds and machinations of these sects. It is from them that the synagogue of Satan, which gathers its troops against the Church of Christ, takes its strength. In the past Our predecessors, vigilant even from the beginning in Israel, had already denounced them to the kings and the nations, and had condemned them time and time again, and even We have not failed in this duty. If those who would have been able to avert such a deadly scourge had only had more faith in the supreme Pastors of the Church! But this scourge, winding through sinuous caverns, . . . deceiving many with astute frauds, finally has arrived at the point where it comes forth impetuously from its hiding places and triumphs as a powerful master. Since the throng of its propagandists has grown enormously, these wicked groups think that they have already become masters of the world and that they have almost reached their pre-established goal. Having sometimes obtained what they desired, and that is power, in several countries, they boldly turn the help of powers and authorities which they have secured to trying to submit the Church of God to the most cruel servitude, to undermine the foundations on which it rests, to contaminate its splendid qualities; and, moreover, to strike it with frequent blows, to shake it, to overthrow it, and, if possible, to make it disappear completely from the earth. Things being thus, Venerable Brothers, make every effort to defend the faithful which are entrusted to you against the insidious contagion of these sects and to save from perdition those who unfortunately have inscribed themselves in such sects. Make known and attack those who, whether suffering from, or planning, deception, are not afraid to affirm that these shady congregations aim only at the profit of society, at progress and mutual benefit. Explain to them often and impress deeply on their souls the Papal constitutions on this subject and teach, them that the masonic associations are anathematized by them not only in Europe but also in America and wherever they may be in the whole world.
This screed is of interest in indicating the mindset of Pius IX and his advisors. Especially notable is the mention of Masons, who in the demonology of 19th century Catholicism are leading the forces of darkness against the Church. As for the double order of things it is clear that Pius IX regards the Order of the Church as clearly superior to the order of “Caesar”. The desire to subordinate the state to the Church is clear and obvious.
To the Archbishops and Bishops of Prussia concerning the situation of the Catholic Church faced with persecution by that Government....

But although they (the bishops resisting persecution) should be praised rather than pitied, the scorn of episcopal dignity, the violation of the liberty and the rights of the Church, the ill treatment which does not only oppress those dioceses, but also the others of the Kingdom of Prussia, demand that We, owing to the Apostolic office with which God has entrusted us in spite of Our insufficient merit, protest against laws which have produced such great evils and make one fear even greater ones; and as far as we are able to do so with the sacred authority of divine law, We vindicate for the Church the freedom which has been trodden underfoot with sacrilegious violence. That is why by this letter we intend to do Our duty by announcing openly to all those whom this matter concerns and to the whole Catholic world, that these laws are null and void because they are absolutely contrary to the divine constitution of the Church. In fact, with respect to matters which concern the holy ministry, Our Lord did not put the mighty of this century in charge, but Saint Peter, whom he entrusted not only with feeding his sheep, but also the goats; therefore no power in the world, however great it may be, can deprive of the pastoral office those whom the Holy Ghost has made Bishops in order to feed the Church of God.
What Pius IX is referring to here is the so-called Kultur-Kampf waged by Bismarck against the Church. This is perhaps the only genuine example of real persecution and a attack on the Church that can be characterized as unfair in the entire document.12

The aftermath of all this was not pretty. The Syllabus was greeted with dismay by much of Europe and even much Catholic opinion was shocked. Pius IX once again displayed his remarkable talent for shooting himself in the foot. He would later on denounce Democracy, elections, freedom of the press etc., etc., thus cementing his reputation as a Medieval theocrat and a through reactionary. He would meditate endlessly about how persecuted he was and whine about his sufferings.

Like so many fanatics Pius IX demanded that practitioners of the faith he supported be given freedom to practice their faith; in this case Catholicism. However he totally denied that other faiths must have that freedom also. Pius IX just never saw that what he thought of as “error” had the right to be exercised. It was wrong in his eyes to persecute the Catholic Church but it was right for the Catholic Church to persecute others.

In 1870 at the first Lateran Council the doctrine of Papal Infallibility would be proclaimed. It was of course a futile gesture of defiance against the modern world. The attempt to introduce it generated a good deal of opposition among the Bishops at the conference who regarded it as at once inexpedient and heretical. Pius IX was however adamant to scream defiance at the world.13

Amazingly the version of infallibility that was past was a considerably watered down version of what Pius IX wanted. Pius IX’s monomania was quite large. The opposition was able to do that much but even so it was not enough.14

That this doctrine was in defiance of both Church History and previous Church doctrine is manifest. The idea that a Pope like Alexander VI, the Borgia Pope, would be infallible is just too ludicrous for words. It was all part of Pius IX’s drive to complete the transformation of the Papacy into an absolute monarchy.

The reaction of the rest of the world was one of dismay and ridicule. Even most of the Catholic powers were not pleased and viewed this has a threat to the autonomy of their national churches. Napoleon III who was in charge of the French troops protecting Papal domination in Rome was seriously annoyed. It was ignored as much as possible.15

Of course 1870 witnessed retribution for Pius IX’s foolishness. The Franco-Prussian war broke out and the French withdrew their troops from Rome. The Italians marched in and took the city without much resistance amid scenes of wild popular rejoicing. The new government proceeded to introduce freedom of the press, religion and to dismantle the Secret Police and other acts that Pius IX found ungodly. 16

Pius IX spent the last years of his life, (he lived until 1878), whining about his imprisonment, intriguing for the return of the Papal states complete with secret police, and making life as difficult as possible for the new Italian government. He was described as “The Prisoner of the Vatican” in the propaganda feed to credulous Catholics. Pius IX absolutely refused to negotiate he wanted at a minimum the return of the Papal states. That the inhabitants of the former Papal states most definitely did NOT want a return to Papal rule was considered by Pius IX of no relevance.17

Pius IX lived in a most comfortable “prison”, but then this “prison” was largely self inflicted.

Pius IX died in 1878 thereby ending one of the most disastrous Papacies ever. Although a pious and charming man and very likable, he was a disaster for the Catholic Church and his legacy unfortunately lives on.

Papal States

1. De Rosa, Peter, Vicars of Christ, Bantam Press, New York, 1988, p. 244.

2. Kertzer, David I., Prisoner of the Vatican, Houghton Mifflin Co., New York, 2004, pp. 9-21, De Rosa, pp. 128-136, Wills, Gary, Papal Sin, Image Books, Toronto, 2000, pp. 40-45.

3. IBID, De Rosa.

4. Kertzer, pp. 9-21.

5. IBID, Note 3.

6. De Rosa, pp. 131-132.

7. Kertzer, pp. 65-67.

8. Wills, pp. 41-44, De Rosa, p. 195.

9. Kertzer, pp. 59-72, De Rosa, pp. 131-132.

10. All quotes from the Syllabus of Errors, EWTN, Here.

11. Goubert, Pierre, Louis XIV and Twenty Million Frenchmen, Vintage Books, 1970, pp. 151-155.

12. Craig, Gordon A., Germany 1866-1945, Oxford University Press, Oxford, 1978, pp. 69-78.

13. Wills, pp. 246-259, Kertzer, pp. 22-32, De Rosa, pp. 133-136.

14. IBID.

15. De Rosa, pp. 135-136, Kertzer, p. 32.

16. De Rosa, pp. 131-132, Kertzer, pp. 59-72.

17. De Rosa, p. 132, Wills, pp, 239-244, Kertzer, pp. 100-108.

Pierre Cloutier

No comments:

Post a Comment