CONDEMNING CURRENT ERRORS
Encyclical of Pope Pius IX promulgated on December 8, 1864.
The numbered paragraph are Pius IX. The bold ones are mine. Some Trads consider this the ultimate in papal authority. It is more the ultimate in papal authoritarianism.
To Our Venerable Brethren, all Patriarchs, Primates, Archbishops, and Bishops having favor and Communion of the Holy See.
Venerable Brethren, Health and Apostolic Benediction.
With how great care and pastoral vigilance the Roman Pontiffs, our predecessors, fulfilling the duty and office committed to them by the Lord Christ Himself in the person of most Blessed Peter, Prince of the Apostles, of feeding the lambs and the sheep, have never ceased sedulously to nourish the Lord's whole flock with words of faith and with salutary doctrine, and to guard it from poisoned pastures, is thoroughly known to all, and especially to you, Venerable Brethren. And truly the same, Our Predecessors, asserters of justice, being especially anxious for the salvation of souls, had nothing ever more at heart than by their most wise Letters and Constitutions to unveil and condemn all those heresies and errors which, being adverse to our Divine Faith, to the doctrine of the Catholic Church, to purity of morals, and to the eternal salvation of men, have frequently excited violent tempests, and have miserably afflicted both Church and State. For which cause the same Our Predecessors, have, with Apostolic fortitude, constantly resisted the nefarious enterprises of wicked men, who, like raging waves of the sea foaming out their own confusion, and promising liberty whereas they are the slaves of corruption, have striven by their deceptive opinions and most pernicious writings to raze the foundations of the Catholic religion and of civil society, to remove from among men all virtue and justice, to deprave persons, and especially inexperienced youth, to lead it into the snares of error, and at length to tear it from the bosom of the Catholic Church.
He believes he has to do our thinking for us.
2. But now, as is well known to you, Venerable Brethren, already, scarcely had we been elevated to this Chair of Peter (by the hidden counsel of Divine Providence, certainly by no merit of our own), when, seeing with the greatest grief of Our soul a truly awful storm excited by so many evil opinions, and (seeing also) the most grievous calamities never sufficiently to be deplored which overspread the Christian people from so many errors, according to the duty of Our Apostolic Ministry, and following the illustrious example of Our Predecessors, We raised Our voice, and in many published Encyclical Letters and Allocutions delivered in Consistory, and other Apostolic Letters, we condemned the chief errors of this most unhappy age, and we excited your admirable episcopal vigilance, and we again and again admonished and exhorted all sons of the Catholic Church, to us most dear, that they should altogether abhor and flee from the contagion of so dire a pestilence. And especially in our first Encyclical Letter written to you on Nov. 9, 1846, and in two Allocutions delivered by us in Consistory, the one on Dec. 9, 1854, and the other on June 9, 1862, we condemned the monstrous portents of opinion which prevail especially in this age, bringing with them the greatest loss of souls and detriment of civil society itself; which are grievously opposed also, not only to the Catholic Church and her salutary doctrine and venerable rights, but also to the eternal natural law engraven by God in all men's hearts, and to right reason; and from which almost all other errors have their origin.
He thinks our souls and civilization will be lost without his nattering, however he cannot seem to write a readable paragraph. He keeps at it because he does not know how to quit while behind.
3. But, although we have not omitted often to proscribe and reprobate the chief errors of this kind, yet the cause of the Catholic Church, and the salvation of souls entrusted to us by God, and the welfare of human society itself, altogether demand that we again stir up your pastoral solicitude to exterminate other evil opinions, which spring forth from the said errors as from a fountain. Which false and perverse opinions are on that ground the more to be detested, because they chiefly tend to this, that that salutary influence be impeded and (even) removed, which the Catholic Church, according to the institution and command of her Divine Author, should freely exercise even to the end of the world -- not only over private individuals, but over nations, peoples, and their sovereign princes; and (tend also) to take away that mutual fellowship and concord of counsels between Church and State which has ever proved itself propitious and salutary, both for religious and civil interests.1
He believes he is the last word on every issue..and stay off my lawn! He believes it is his duty to think for us, so he is monopolizing the Holy Spirit. She does not wish to be monopolized, however. (Shekhinah in Hebrew). The hierarchs won’t even use Her name.
For you well know, venerable brethren, that at this time men are found not a few who, applying to civil society the impious and absurd principle of "naturalism," as they call it, dare to teach that "the best constitution of public society and (also) civil progress altogether require that human society be conducted and governed without regard being had to religion any more than if it did not exist; or, at least, without any distinction being made between the true religion and false ones." And, against the doctrine of Scripture, of the Church, and of the Holy Fathers, they do not hesitate to assert that "that is the best condition of civil society, in which no duty is recognized, as attached to the civil power, of restraining by enacted penalties, offenders against the Catholic religion, except so far as public peace may require." From which totally false idea of social government they do not fear to foster that erroneous opinion, most fatal in its effects on the Catholic Church and the salvation of souls, called by Our Predecessor, Gregory XVI, an "insanity,"2 viz., that "liberty of conscience and worship is each man's personal right, which ought to be legally proclaimed and asserted in every rightly constituted society; and that a right resides in the citizens to an absolute liberty, which should be restrained by no authority whether ecclesiastical or civil, whereby they may be able openly and publicly to manifest and declare any of their ideas whatever, either by word of mouth, by the press, or in any other way." But, while they rashly affirm this, they do not think and consider that they are preaching "liberty of perdition;"3 and that "if human arguments are always allowed free room for discussion, there will never be wanting men who will dare to resist truth, and to trust in the flowing speech of human wisdom; whereas we know, from the very teaching of our Lord Jesus Christ, how carefully Christian faith and wisdom should avoid this most injurious babbling."4
He is entirely against natural law reasoning, which abandons the role of authority in determing the outcome of the argument (making it easier for dolt popes to win). Later popes, like Pius XI in Casti Cannubii, embraced the language of natural law. There are two kinds of naturalism, one relates to human behavior as an extension of our evolutionary roots (which is actually not a bad hypothesis, especially on sex if the Bonobos are in our family tree - since they do it for pleasure at the drop of a hat) and the other is natural reason that anyone can access without resort to authority. The former is not an old enough theory for Pius to condemn and the latter is condemned because of fear of loss of status, not virtue or holiness, no matter who Pius tries to dress his intentions up as somehow salutatory for the faithful. Natural law mixed with authority is simply authority and ignores truth when it rears its head in opposition to prior teaching (just ask Galileo and everyone on the Index who are now considered major influences in science and theology).
Pius was afraid of secularists who denied the authority of the Church. He assumed that the believers in scientism simply found that religion was now unnecessary superstition, not entertaining the more likely view that it was the authoritarianism of the Holy See that was the source of at least some of there objections, so of course he responds with more authoritarianism. Not all critics of the Church or some of its natural law doctrines seek its demise. Instead, we seek its improvement and as members we have a right to do so. Listening to that call and incorporating what we see (rather than proposing counter-objections based on authority) will improve doctrine and attract back those who equate Catholicism with despotism.
The purpose of natural law morality is to become humanistic as God is humanistic. God accepts us as we truly are. Jesus commaded us to be perfect in love as the Father is perfect in love. He promised that his yoke is easy and his burden light. Jesus did not want his Church to behave as the Temple Priests did, putting burdens moral burdens on people in order to perfect their conduct before God rather than their love. The moral law of Leviticus was to make life easier and to make the people separate from others. Pius seeks to do the same, but that separateness and perfectionism is burdensome and does not accept some as they are, with Cardinal Ratzinger calling some people disordered. That is burden. God does not create homosexuals to test them with burdens but to test our ability to love.
The moral law and the salvation of the cross are not to prevent people from going to Hell in the next life. Rather, they are how we escape from the Hell of sin and separation from God in this one.
Natural Law does not necessarily disregard scripture, in fact, it cannot. What it does disregard is anyone trying to monopolize reason, scripture and science as being the province of the hierarchy and not all the people.
4. And, since where religion has been removed from civil society, and the doctrine and authority of divine revelation repudiated, the genuine notion itself of justice and human right is darkened and lost, and the place of true justice and legitimate right is supplied by material force, thence it appears why it is that some, utterly neglecting and disregarding the surest principles of sound reason, dare to proclaim that "the people's will, manifested by what is called public opinion or in some other way, constitutes a supreme law, free from all divine and human control; and that in the political order accomplished facts, from the very circumstance that they are accomplished, have the force of right." But who, does not see and clearly perceive that human society, when set loose from the bonds of religion and true justice, can have, in truth, no other end than the purpose of obtaining and amassing wealth, and that (society under such circumstances) follows no other law in its actions, except the unchastened desire of ministering to its own pleasure and interests? For this reason, men of the kind pursue with bitter hatred the Religious Orders, although these have deserved extremely well of Christendom, civilization and literature, and cry out that the same have no legitimate reason for being permitted to exist; and thus (these evil men) applaud the calumnies of heretics. For, as Pius VI, Our Predecessor, taught most wisely, "the abolition of regulars is injurious to that state in which the Evangelical counsels are openly professed; it is injurious to a method of life praised in the Church as agreeable to Apostolic doctrine; it is injurious to the illustrious founders, themselves, whom we venerate on our altars, who did not establish these societies but by God's inspiration."5 And (these wretches) also impiously declare that permission should be refused to citizens and to the Church, "whereby they may openly give alms for the sake of Christian charity"; and that the law should be abrogated "whereby on certain fixed days servile works are prohibited because of God's worship;" and on the most deceptive pretext that the said permission and law are opposed to the principles of the best public economy. Moreover, not content with removing religion from public society, they wish to banish it also from private families. For, teaching and professing the most fatal error of "Communism and Socialism," they assert that "domestic society or the family derives the whole principle of its existence from the civil law alone; and, consequently, that on civil law alone depend all rights of parents over their children, and especially that of providing for education." By which impious opinions and machinations these most deceitful men chiefly aim at this result, viz., that the salutary teaching and influence of the Catholic Church may be entirely banished from the instruction and education of youth, and that the tender and flexible minds of young men may be infected and depraved by every most pernicious error and vice. For all who have endeavored to throw into confusion things both sacred and secular, and to subvert the right order of society, and to abolish all rights, human and divine, have always (as we above hinted) devoted all their nefarious schemes, devices and efforts, to deceiving and depraving incautious youth and have placed all their hope in its corruption. For which reason they never cease by every wicked method to assail the clergy, both secular and regular, from whom (as the surest monuments of history conspicuously attest), so many great advantages have abundantly flowed to Christianity, civilization and literature, and to proclaim that "the clergy, as being hostile to the true and beneficial advance of science and civilization, should be removed from the whole charge and duty of instructing and educating youth."
Relgious societies have been replaced with constitutional ones. In each, basic human rights have been respected, including the right to be free of the tyranny of the Catholic mob egged on by the hierarchs. Public and private morals still survive. Indeed, religion is stronger today than when it was mandated. Vatican II recognized the freedom of religion in both Catholic and non-Catholic nations, repudiating the fears of Pius.
While the pious may be more often offended, it is often a response to its desire to supress free expression of ideas. Moral laws are for people and their happiness. God has no need of our obedience in these areas. A god that would is an imperfect Ogre. Teaching the moral law as self-interest is not only more true, it is more appealing. It most likely will temper what is taught as well, particularly where sexual morality is concerned.
Catholic Charities and Caritas thrive in this environment, although the giving alms part is harder because some see alms as not beneficial to the mendicent who may be alcoholic. Many religious citizens would like to see more in the way of assistance to the poor, but certain conservative bishops refuse to make it a priority, including the bishop whose charge is the Speaker of the House, a Catholic infected with the ideals of Ayn Rand. Teaching against Communism and Socialism is tragically amusing given the First Epistle of the Second Sunday of Eastertide from the second chapter of Acts which is proclaimed this very weekend. Public schools started in America way before Marx, by the way. The purpose of blue laws should not be for religious observance, but to give rest to workers, especially youth and manual laborers. The Sabbath is for man. It is about justice, not worship.
The Church’s treatment of divorce is scandalous, giving abusive and alcoholic men a pass until reform gave women a way out. The Church should concede its error and allow those who have been abused and abandoned a release from their vows rather than hunting for evidence of invalidity, all from inacurate proof-texting.
Public education has not done as well in some quarters, however the decline in vocations that came with an end to the demonization of sexuality and an abandonment of authoritarian ways of life has led many Catholic schools to close. I actually favor tax supported parochial schools, but they should be unionized as well. Catholic Charter Schools are a good way to start, espeically in neighborhoods where the residents are not necessarily Catholic. The Blaine Amendments are being considered by the Supreme Court and the prognosis is good. The Church should tread lightly on this matter, however, and not try to impose True Religion on non-Catholic students and parents.
The charge that reform harms our youth goes back to Socrates and Athens. Every generation fears the corruption of its youth. The reality is that this only really occurs in wartime, when young men and women should be at university listening to a priest read Shakespeare, as I had the privilege of doing at Catholic College. It seems Pius’ fears did not materialize.
5. Others meanwhile, reviving the wicked and so often condemned inventions of innovators, dare with signal impudence to subject to the will of the civil authority the supreme authority of the Church and of this Apostolic See given to her by Christ Himself, and to deny all those rights of the same Church and See which concern matters of the external order. For they are not ashamed of affirming "that the Church's laws do not bind in conscience unless when they are promulgated by the civil power; that acts and decrees of the Roman Pontiffs, referring to religion and the Church, need the civil power's sanction and approbation, or at least its consent; that the Apostolic Constitutions,6 whereby secret societies are condemned (whether an oath of secrecy be or be not required in such societies), and whereby their frequenters and favourers are smitten with anathema -- have no force in those regions of the world wherein associations of the kind are tolerated by the civil government; that the excommunication pronounced by the Council of Trent and by Roman Pontiffs against those who assail and usurp the Church's rights and possessions, rests on a confusion between the spiritual and temporal orders, and (is directed) to the pursuit of a purely secular good; that the Church can decree nothing which binds the conscience of the faithful in regard to their use of temporal things; that the Church has no right of restraining by temporal punishments those who violate her laws; that it is conformable to the principles of sacred theology and public law to assert and claim for the civil government a right of property in those goods which are possessed by the Church, by the Religious Orders, and by other pious establishments." Nor do they blush openly and publicly to profess the maxim and principle of heretics from which arise so many perverse opinions and errors. For they repeat that the "ecclesiastical power is not by divine right distinct from, and independent of, the civil power, and that such distinction and independence cannot be preserved without the civil power's essential rights being assailed and usurped by the Church." Nor can we pass over in silence the audacity of those who, not enduring sound doctrine, contend that "without sin and without any sacrifice of the Catholic profession assent and obedience may be refused to those judgments and decrees of the Apostolic See, whose object is declared to concern the Church's general good and her rights and discipline, so only it does not touch the dogmata of faith and morals." But no one can be found not clearly and distinctly to see and understand how grievously this is opposed to the Catholic dogma of the full power given from God by Christ our Lord Himself to the Roman Pontiff of feeding, ruling and guiding the Universal Church.
Christ gave leadership to Peter as an individual. The Church has evolved to consider the Pope his heir, although legend puts him in Rome because the emperor was there (and he did not found the Roman Church, St. Paul names Priscilla as its benefactor. How iroic that is. Rome was granted secular power not by Christ but by Constantine, at least until the Donation was found to be forged. When the western empire fell, the papacy filled the vacuum on and off for more than a thousand years and their conduct was an embarrassment to Christ.
6. Amidst, therefore, such great perversity of depraved opinions, we, well remembering our Apostolic Office, and very greatly solicitous for our most holy Religion, for sound doctrine and the salvation of souls which is intrusted to us by God, and (solicitous also) for the welfare of human society itself, have thought it right again to raise up our Apostolic voice. Therefore, by our Apostolic authority, we reprobate, proscribe, and condemn all the singular and evil opinions and doctrines severally mentioned in this letter, and will and command that they be thoroughly held by all children of the Catholic Church as reprobated, proscribed and condemned.
He lost Italy anyway. Pius mischaracterizes most of the so-called evils he condemns and history has not been kind to him on these matters, the final insult being Vatican II. These are matters of Church power, not dogma, although he tries to dress them up as such. Later popes echoed some of these views, but they too have been rejected as overreach by most Catholics. His infallibility in this area is non-existent, if only because his analysis and conclusions were ultimately wrong. Vatican II etirely rebuffed his views on freedom of religion and today’s religious liberty debate is really about religious power over society. The abuse of such power over morals in the early post-war effort has not been forgotten and will never be restored.
What is most regretable is the American hierarchy’s susceptibility to flattery on the abortion issue and its cowardice in not advancing economic solutions that would greatly reduce this tragedy because that would influence its partisan position. The Church either fails to understand the relevant constitional law and the possible legislative parameters or it does understand and is cooperating with an evil lie (that Roe can or even should be overturned and replaced with state sovereignty and all equal protection with it) for electoral purposes for a specific party representing the wealthy over the poor. The reason Pius is wrong in this area is that the Church is not particularly good at civil goverment beyond providing charity, health and education.
7. And besides these things, you know very well, Venerable Brethren, that in these times the haters of truth and justice and most bitter enemies of our religion, deceiving the people and maliciously lying, disseminate sundry and other impious doctrines by means of pestilential books, pamphlets and newspapers dispersed over the whole world. Nor are you ignorant also, that in this our age some men are found who, moved and excited by the spirit of Satan, have reached to that degree of impiety as not to shrink from denying our Ruler and Lord Jesus Christ, and from impugning His Divinity with wicked pertinacity. Here, however, we cannot but extol you, venerable brethren, with great and deserved praise, for not having failed to raise with all zeal your episcopal voice against impiety so great.
Haters? Take away his cell phone. People write pamphlets and now blogs against the Church hierarchy (not to be confused with the vast majority of the Chruch) because it insists immunity from error while it most obviously coddles corruption, sexual abuse and errs on moral issues when science and archeology say otherwise. Calling those of us speaking prophetically satanic risks committing unpardonable sin.
8. Therefore, in this our letter, we again most lovingly address you, who, having been called unto a part of our solicitude, are to us, among our grievous distresses, the greatest solace, joy and consolation, because of the admirable religion and piety wherein you excel, and because of that marvellous love, fidelity, and dutifulness, whereby bound as you are to us. and to this Apostolic See in most harmonious affection, you strive strenuously and sedulously to fulfill your most weighty episcopal ministry. For from your signal pastoral zeal we expect that, taking up the sword of the spirit which is the word of God, and strengthened by the grace of our Lord Jesus Christ, you will, with redoubled care, each day more anxiously provide that the faithful entrusted to your charge "abstain from noxious verbiage, which Jesus Christ does not cultivate because it is not His Father's plantation."7 Never cease also to inculcate on the said faithful that all true felicity flows abundantly upon man from our august religion and its doctrine and practice; and that happy is the people whose God is their Lord.8 Teach that "kingdoms rest on the foundation of the Catholic Faith;9 and that nothing is so deadly, so hastening to a fall, so exposed to all danger, (as that which exists) if, believing this alone to be sufficient for us that we receive free will at our birth, we seek nothing further from the Lord; that is, if forgetting our Creator we abjure his power that we may display our freedom."10 And again do not fail to teach "that the royal power was given not only for the governance of the world, but most of all for the protection of the Church;"11 and that there is nothing which can be of greater advantage and glory to Princes and Kings than if, as another most wise and courageous Predecessor of ours, St. Felix, instructed the Emperor Zeno, they "permit the Catholic Church to practise her laws, and allow no one to oppose her liberty. For it is certain that this mode of conduct is beneficial to their interests, viz., that where there is question concerning the causes of God, they study, according to His appointment, to subject the royal will to Christ's Priests, not to raise it above theirs."12
He still lost all secular power, despite his pleas for help. I doubt he ever understood why.
9. But if always, venerable brethren, now most of all amidst such great calamities both of the Church and of civil society, amidst so great a conspiracy against Catholic interests and this Apostolic See, and so great a mass of errors, it is altogether necessary to approach with confidence the throne of grace, that we may obtain mercy and find grace in timely aid. Wherefore, we have thought it well to excite the piety of all the faithful in order that, together with us and you, they may unceasingly pray and beseech the most merciful Father of light and pity with most fervent and humble prayers, and in the fullness of faith flee always to Our Lord Jesus Christ, who redeemed us to God in his blood, and earnestly and constantly supplicate His most sweet Heart, the victim of most burning love toward us, that He would draw all things to Himself by the bonds of His love, and that all men inflamed by His most holy love may walk worthily according to His heart, pleasing God in all things, bearing fruit in every good work. But since without doubt men's prayers are more pleasing to God if they reach Him from minds free from all stain, therefore we have determined to open to Christ's faithful, with Apostolic liberality, the Church's heavenly treasures committed to our charge, in order that the said faithful, being more earnestly enkindled to true piety, and cleansed through the sacrament of Penance from the defilement of their sins, may with greater confidence pour forth their prayers to God, and obtain His mercy and grace.
He may have gotten prayers and limited public pressure, but he still lost Italy. There is also something unseemly in invoking the Sacred Heart to grant his political wishes and his ultramontism. Again, most say this was the best thing for the Church, although a bit of doctrinal humility in the face of new knowledge would be a strength, not a weakness.
10. By these Letters, therefore, in virtue of our Apostolic authority, we concede to all and singular the faithful of the Catholic world, a Plenary Indulgence in the form of Jubilee, during the space of one month only for the whole coming year 1865, and not beyond; to be fixed by you, venerable brethren, and other legitimate Ordinaries of places, in the very same manner and form in which we granted it at the beginning of our supreme Pontificate by our Apostolic Letters in the form of a Brief, dated November 20, 1846, and addressed to all your episcopal Order, beginning, "Arcano Divinae Providentiae consilio," and with all the same faculties which were given by us in those Letters. We will, however, that all things be observed which were prescribed in the aforesaid Letters, and those things be excepted which we there so declared. And we grant this, notwithstanding anything whatever to the contrary, even things which are worthy of individual mention and derogation. In order, however, that all doubt and difficulty be removed, we have commanded a copy of said Letters be sent you.
And he is trying to bribe the faithful using the same tools that gave us Protestantism in the first place. The irony is sad. The theological narrative of St. Anslem is currently under attack and the whole concept of indulgences will fall with it. Jesus did not die to satisfy the Father. He suffered to reach out to us in our suffereing and died so we can be raised with Him to life eternal.
11. "Let us implore," Venerable Brethren, "God's mercy from our inmost heart and with our whole mind; because He has Himself added, 'I will not remove my mercy from them.' Let us ask and we shall receive; and if there be delay and slowness in our receiving because we have gravely offended, let us knock, because to him that knocketh it shall be opened, if only the door be knocked by our prayers, groans and tears, in which we must persist and persevere, and if the prayer be unanimous . . . let each man pray to God, not for himself alone, but for all his brethren, as the Lord hath taught us to pray."13 But in order that God may the more readily assent to the prayers and desires of ourselves, of you and of all the faithful, let us with all confidence employ as or advocate with Him the Immaculate and most holy Virgin Mary, Mother of God, who has slain all heresies throughout the world, and who, the most loving Mother of us all, "is all sweet . . . and full of mercy . . . shows herself to all as easily entreated; shows herself to all as most merciful; pities the necessities of all with a most large affection;"14 and standing as a Queen at the right hand of her only begotten Son, our Lord Jesus Christ, in gilded clothing, surrounded with variety, can obtain from Him whatever she will. Let us also seek the suffrages of the Most Blessed Peter, Prince of the Apostles, and of Paul, his Fellow-Apostle, and of all the Saints in Heaven, who having now become God's friends, have arrived at the heavenly kingdom, and being crowned bear their palms, and being secure of their own immortality are anxious for our salvation.
Mercy was given to the Faithful, especially in Italy, by ending the papal states and it will be further given because of our new Pope, who rejects the imperial trappings inherited from the Roman Imperium and teaches with a gentle heart. Pulling out all the stops in asking God for favors does not help when one is wrong.
12. Lastly, imploring from our great heart for You from God the abundance of all heavenly gifts, we most lovingly impart the Apostolic Benediction from our inmost heart, a pledge of our signal love towards you, to yourselves, venerable brethren, and to all the clerics and lay faithful committed to your care.
Pius’ love would be more authentic if he recognized our ability to reason on moral issues for ourselves and trust that we also love the Faith and wish to see it perfected. His successors too.
It was easy for Pius to love his brother bishops. Sinners do as much. Loving those that he perceived to be attacking the Church is what the Master commands. To love is to listen.