Is Pascendi Dead In The Water?

Is Pascendi Dead In The Water?

The following extract from a Christian Order editorial in January, 2002, comes into my mind from time to time:  

christian oder montage (2)…Clearly, none of these men would consider themselves Modernists, let alone spiritual racketeers enmeshed in England’s Modernist Mob. They would either deride such a quaint term or take it as a complimentary reference to their thoroughly modern preoccupation with “community” and “change” and “personal experience” and “the future” (and on and on…). They would not identify Modernism with heresy – even those few who still believe in the possibility of “heresy”! And almost certainly none of their number would have read Pope St. Pius X’s masterly and scathing encyclical Pascendi (1907), wherein the great Pope Saint exposes the many guises of the Modernist: as a philosopher, a believer, a theologian, a critic, an apologist, a reformer. Were they to do so, they would see themselves as in a mirror. They would suddenly perceive how their multifarious and apparently disjointed acts of disobedience and dissent – often disguised as questioning and uncertainty but now increasingly blatant – hang together to form that “synthesis of all heresies” Pius identified as Modernism. Such was the case some years ago with one ex-Modernist priest who recalled: “When I read Pascendi it was like turning on a light. All my mental positions were there and they were all condemned! I thought, ‘My God, I’ve cherished these ideas.’ I was astounded.” (1Click here to read the entire editorial

It strikes me that, while we’ve often made passing reference to Pascendi – one of the most important encyclicals of the twentieth century, if not the most important  – we’ve never devoted a thread explicitly to reading and discussing it. Consider that oversight now corrected. Below is the entire encyclical for comment.  The priest cited in the Christian Order extract above, appears to be in a minority of one.  If so, does that mean Pascendi has failed in its intended purpose to stamp out Modernism?  Is it no longer relevant – dead in the water? Read it right through before answering…

Far, far from our priests be the love of novelty!
Far, far from our clergy be the love of novelty!





1. One of the primary obligations assigned by Christ to the office divinely committed to Us of feeding the Lord’s flock is that of guarding with the greatest vigilance the deposit of the faith delivered to the saints, rejecting the profane novelties of words and the gainsaying of knowledge falsely so called. There has never been a time when this watchfulness of the supreme pastor was not necessary to the Catholic body, for owing to the efforts of the enemy of the human race, there have never been lacking “men speaking perverse things,”1 “vain talkers and seducers,”2 “erring and driving into error.”3 It must, however, be confessed that these latter days have witnessed a notable increase in the number of the enemies of the Cross of Christ, who, by arts entirely new and full of deceit, are striving to destroy the vital energy of the Church, and, as far as in them lies, utterly to subvert the very Kingdom of Christ. Wherefore We may no longer keep silence, lest We should seem to fail in Our most sacred duty, and lest the kindness that, in the hope of wiser counsels, We have hitherto shown them, should be set down to lack of diligence in the discharge of Our office.

2. That We should act without delay in this matter is made imperative especially by the fact that the partisans of error are to be sought not only among the Church’s open enemies; but, what is to be most dreaded and deplored, in her very bosom, and are the more mischievous the less they keep in the open. We allude, Venerable Brethren, to many who belong to the Catholic laity, and, what is much more sad, to the ranks of the priesthood itself, who, animated by a false zeal for the Church, lacking the solid safeguards of philosophy and theology, nay more, thoroughly imbued with the poisonous doctrines taught by the enemies of the Church, and lost to all sense of modesty, put themselves forward as reformers of the Church; and, forming more boldly into line of attack, assail all that is most sacred in the work of Christ, not sparing even the Person of the Divine Redeemer, whom, with sacrilegious audacity, they degrade to the condition of a simple and ordinary man.

3. Although they express their astonishment that We should number them amongst the enemies of the Church, no one will be reasonably surprised that We should do so, if, leaving out of account the internal disposition of the soul, of which God alone is the Judge, he considers their tenets, their manner of speech, and their action. Nor indeed would he be wrong in regarding them as the most pernicious of all the adversaries of the Church. For, as We have said, they put into operation their designs for her undoing, not from without but from within. Hence, the danger is present almost in the very veins and heart of the Church, whose injury is the more certain from the very fact that their knowledge of her is more intimate. Moreover, they lay the axe not to the branches and shoots, but to the very root, that is, to the faith and its deepest fibres. And once having struck at this root of immortality, they proceed to diffuse poison through the whole tree, so that there is no part of Catholic truth which they leave untouched, none that they do not strive to corrupt. Further, none is more skilful, none more astute than they, in the employment of a thousand noxious devices; for they play the double part of rationalist and Catholic, and this so craftily that they easily lead the unwary into error; and as audacity is their chief characteristic, there is no conclusion of any kind from which they shrink or which they do not thrust forward with pertinacity and assurance To this must be added the fact, which indeed is well calculated to deceive souls, that they lead a life of the greatest activity, of assiduous and ardent application to every branch of learning, and that they possess, as a rule, a reputation for irreproachable morality. Finally, there is the fact which is all but fatal to the hope of cure that their very doctrines have given such a bent to their minds, that they disdain all authority and brook no restraint; and relying upon a false conscience, they attempt to ascribe to a love of truth that which is in reality the result of pride and obstinacy.

Once indeed We had hopes of recalling them to a better mind, and to this end We first of all treated them with kindness as Our children, then with severity; and at last We have had recourse, though with great reluctance, to public reproof. It is known to you, Venerable Brethren, how unavailing have been Our efforts. For a moment they have bowed their head, only to lift it more arrogantly than before. If it were a matter which concerned them alone, We might perhaps have overlooked it; but the security of the Catholic name is at stake. Wherefore We must interrupt a silence which it would be criminal to prolong, that We may point out to the whole Church, as they really are, men who are badly disguised.

4. It is one of the cleverest devices of the Modernists (as they are commonly and rightly called) to present their doctrines without order and systematic arrangement, in a scattered and disjointed manner, so as to make it appear as if their minds were in doubt or hesitation, whereas in reality they are quite fixed and steadfast. For this reason it will be of advantage, Venerable Brethren, to bring their teachings together here into one group, and to point out their interconnection, and thus to pass to an examination of the sources of the errors, and to prescribe remedies for averting the evil results.

5. To proceed in an orderly manner in this somewhat abstruse subject, it must first of all be noted that the Modernist sustains and includes within himself a manifold personality; he is a philosopher, a believer, a theologian, an historian, a critic, an apologist, a reformer. These roles must be clearly distinguished one from another by all who would accurately understand their system and thoroughly grasp the principles and the outcome of their doctrines.

6. We begin, then, with the philosopher. Modernists place the foundation of religious philosophy in that doctrine which is commonly called Agnosticism. According to this teaching human reason is confined entirely within the field of phenomena, that is to say, to things that appear, and in the manner in which they appear: it has neither the right nor the power to overstep these limits. Hence it is incapable of lifting itself up to God, and of recognizing His existence, even by means of visible things. From this it is inferred that God can never be the direct object of science, and that, as regards history, He must not be considered as an historical subject. Given these premises, everyone will at once perceive what becomes of Natural Theology, of the motives of credibility, of external revelation. The modernists simply sweep them entirely aside; they include them in Intellectualism, which they denounce as a system which is ridiculous and long since defunct. Nor does the fact that the Church has formally condemned these portentous errors exercise the slightest restraint upon them. Yet the Vatican Council has defined, “If anyone says that the one true God, our Creator and Lord, cannot be known with certainty by the natural light of human reason by means of the things that are made, let him be anathema”;4 and also, “If anyone says that it is not possible or not expedient that man be taught, through the medium of divine revelation, about God and the worship to be paid Him, let him be anathema”;5 and finally, “If anyone says that divine revelation cannot be made credible by external signs, and that therefore men should be drawn to the faith only by their personal internal experience or by private inspiration, let him be anathema.”6 It may be asked, in what way do the Modernists contrive to make the transition from Agnosticism, which is a state of pure nescience, to scientific and historic Atheism, which is a doctrine of positive denial; and consequently, by what legitimate process of reasoning, they proceed from the fact of ignorance as to whether God has in fact intervened in the history of the human race or not, to explain this history, leaving God out altogether, as if He really had not intervened. Let him answer who can. Yet it is a fixed and established principle among them that both science and history must be atheistic: and within their boundaries there is room for nothing but phenomena; God and all that is divine are utterly excluded. We shall soon see clearly what, as a consequence of this most absurd teaching, must be held touching the most sacred Person of Christ, and the mysteries of His life and death, and of His Resurrection and Ascension into Heaven.

7. However, this Agnosticism is only the negative part of the system of the Modernists: the positive part consists in what they call vital immanence. Thus they advance from one to the other. Religion, whether natural or supernatural, must, like every other fact, admit of some explanation. But when natural theology has been destroyed, and the road to revelation closed by the rejection of the arguments of credibility, and all external revelation absolutely denied, it is clear that this explanation will be sought in vain outside of man himself. It must, therefore, be looked for in man; and since religion is a form of life, the explanation must certainly be found in the life of man. In this way is formulated the principle of religious immanence. Moreover, the first actuation, so to speak, of every vital phenomenon — and religion, as noted above, belongs to this category — is due to a certain need or impulsion; but speaking more particularly of life, it has its origin in a movement of the heart, which movement is called a sense. Therefore, as God is the object of religion, we must conclude that faith, which is the basis and foundation of all religion, must consist in a certain interior sense, originating in a need of the divine. This need of the divine, which is experienced only in special and favorable circumstances, cannot of itself appertain to the domain of consciousness, but is first latent beneath consciousness, or, to borrow a term from modern philosophy, in the subconsciousness, where also its root lies hidden and undetected.

It may perhaps be asked how it is that this need of the divine which man experiences within himself resolves itself into religion? To this question the Modernist reply would be as follows: Science and history are confined within two boundaries, the one external, namely, the visible world, the other internal, which is consciousness. When one or other of these limits has been reached, there can be no further progress, for beyond is the unknowable. In presence of this unknowable, whether it is outside man and beyond the visible world of nature, or lies hidden within the subconsciousness, the need of the divine in a soul which is prone to religion excites — according to the principles of Fideism, without any previous advertence of the mind — a certain special sense, and this sense possesses, implied within itself both as its own object and as its intrinsic cause, the divine reality itself, and in a way unites man with God. It is this sense to which Modernists give the name of faith, and this is what they hold to be the beginning of religion.

8. But we have not yet reached the end of their philosophizing, or, to speak more accurately, of their folly. Modernists find in this sense not only faith, but in and with faith, as they understand it, they affirm that there is also to be found revelation. For, indeed, what more is needed to constitute a revelation? Is not that religious sense which is perceptible in the conscience, revelation, or at least the beginning of revelation? Nay, is it not God Himself manifesting Himself, indistinctly, it is true, in this same religious sense, to the soul? And they add: Since God is both the object and the cause of faith, this revelation is at the same time of God and from God, that is to say, God is both the Revealer and the Revealed.

From this, Venerable Brethren, springs that most absurd tenet of the Modernists, that every religion, according to the different aspect under which it is viewed, must be considered as both natural and supernatural. It is thus that they make consciousness and revelation synonymous. From this they derive the law laid down as the universal standard, according to which religious consciousness is to be put on an equal footing with revelation, and that to it all must submit, even the supreme authority of the Church, whether in the capacity of teacher, or in that of legislator in the province of sacred liturgy or discipline.

9. In all this process, from which, according to the Modernists, faith and revelation spring, one point is to be particularly noted, for it is of capital importance on account of the historicocritical corollaries which they deduce from it. The unknowable they speak of does not present itself to faith as something solitary and isolated; hut on the contrary in close conjunction with some phenomenon, which, though it belongs to the realms of science or history, yet to some extent exceeds their limits. Such a phenomenon may be a fact of nature containing within itself something mysterious; or it may be a man, whose character, actions, and words cannot, apparently, be reconciled with the ordinary laws of history. Then faith, attracted by the unknowable which is united with the phenomenon, seizes upon the whole phenomenon, and, as it were, permeates it with its own life. From this two things follow. The first is a sort of transfiguration of the phenomenon, by its elevation above its own true conditions, an elevation by which it becomes more adapted to clothe itself with the form of the divine character which faith will bestow upon it. The second consequence is a certain disfiguration — so it may be called — of the same phenomenon, arising from the fact that faith attributes to it, when stripped of the circumstances of place and time, characteristics which it does not really possess; and this takes place especially in the case of the phenomena of the past, and the more fully in the measure of their antiquity. From these two principles the Modernists deduce two laws, which, when united with a third which they have already derived from agnosticism, constitute the foundation of historic criticism. An example may be sought in the Person of Christ. In the Person of Christ, they say, science and history encounter nothing that is not human. Therefore, in virtue of the first canon deduced from agnosticism, whatever there is in His history suggestive of the divine must be rejected. Then, according to the second canon, the historical Person of Christ was transfigured by faith; therefore everything that raises it above historical conditions must be removed. Lastly, the third canon, which lays down that the Person of Christ has been disfigured by faith, requires that everything should be excluded, deeds and words and all else, that is not in strict keeping with His character, condition, and education, and with the place and time in which He lived. A method of reasoning which is passing strange, but in it we have the Modernist criticism.

10. It is thus that the religious sense, which through the agency of vital immanence emerges from the lurking-places of the subconsciousness, is the germ of all religion, and the explanation of everything that has been or ever will be in any religion. This sense, which was at first only rudimentary and almost formless, under the influence of that mysterious principle from which it originated, gradually matured with the progress of human life, of which, as has been said, it is a certain form. This, then, is the origin of all. even of supernatural religion. For religions are mere developments of this religious sense. Nor is the Catholic religion an exception; it is quite on a level with the rest; for it was engendered, by the process of vital immanence, and by no other way, in the consciousness of Christ, who was a man of the choicest nature, whose like has never been, nor will be. In hearing these things we shudder indeed at so great an audacity of assertion and so great a sacrilege. And yet, Venerable Brethren, these are not merely the foolish babblings of unbelievers. There are Catholics, yea, and priests too, who say these things openly; and they boast that they are going to reform the Church by these ravings! The question is no longer one of the old error which claimed for human nature a sort of right to the supernatural. It has gone far beyond that, and has reached the point when it is affirmed that our most holy religion, in the man Christ as in us, emanated from nature spontaneously and of itself. Nothing assuredly could be more utterly destructive of the whole supernatural order. For this reason the Vatican Council most justly decreed: “If anyone says that man cannot be raised by God to a knowledge and perfection which surpasses nature, but that he can and should, by his own efforts and by a constant development, attain finally to the possession of all truth and good, let him be anathema.”7

11. So far, Venerable Brethren, there has been no mention of the intellect. It also, according to the teaching of the Modernists, has its part in the act of faith. And it is of importance to see how. In that sense of which We have frequently spoken, since sense is not knowledge, they say God, indeed, presents Himself to man, but in a manner so confused and indistinct that He can hardly be perceived by the believer. It is therefore necessary that a certain light should be cast upon this sense so that God may clearly stand out in relief and be set apart from it. This is the task of the intellect, whose office it is to reflect and to analyze; and by means of it, man first transforms into mental pictures the vital phenomena which arise within him, and then expresses them in words. Hence the common saying of Modernists: that the religious man must think his faith. The mind then, encountering this .sense, throws itself upon it, and works in it after the manner of a painter who restores to greater clearness the lines of a picture that have been dimmed with age. The simile is that of one of the leaders of Modernism. The operation of the mind in this work is a double one: first, by a natural and spontaneous act it expresses its concept in a simple, popular statement; then, on reflection and deeper consideration, or, as they say, by elaborating its thought, it expresses the idea in secondary propositions, which are derived from the first, but are more precise and distinct. These secondary propositions, if they finally receive the approval of the supreme magisterium of the Church, constitute dogma.

12. We have thus reached one of the principal points in the Modernist’s system, namely, the origin and the nature of dogma. For they place the origin of dogma in those primitive and simple formulas, which, under a certain aspect, are necessary to faith; for revelation, to be truly such, requires the clear knowledge of God in the consciousness. But dogma itself, they apparently hold, strictly consists in the secondary formulas.

To ascertain the nature of dogma, we must first find the relation which exists between the religious formulas and the religious sense. This will be readily perceived by anyone who holds that these formulas have no other purpose than to furnish the believer with a means of giving to himself an account of his faith. These formulas therefore stand midway between the believer and his faith; in their relation to the faith they are the inadequate expression of its object, and are usually called symbols; in their relation to the believer they are mere instruments.

Hence it is quite impossible to maintain that they absolutely contain the truth: for, in so far as they are symbols, they are the images of truth, and so must be adapted to the religious sense in its relation to man; and as instruments, they are the vehicles of truth, and must therefore in their turn be adapted to man in his relation to the religious sense. But the object of the religious sense, as something contained in the absolute, possesses an infinite variety of aspects, of which now one, now another, may present itself. In like manner he who believes can avail himself of varying conditions. Consequently, the formulas which we call dogma must be subject to these vicissitudes, and are, therefore, liable to change. Thus the way is open to the intrinsic evolution of dogma. Here we have an immense structure of sophisms which ruin and wreck all religion.

13. Dogma is not only able, but ought to evolve and to be changed. This is strongly affirmed by the Modernists, and clearly flows from their principles. For among the chief points of their teaching is the following, which they deduce from the principle of vital immanence, namely, that religious formulas if they are to be really religious and not merely intellectual speculations, ought to be living and to live the life of the religious sense. This is not to be understood to mean that these formulas, especially if merely imaginative, were to be invented for the religious sense. Their origin matters nothing, any more than their number or quality. What is necessary is that the religious sense — with some modification when needful — should vitally assimilate them. In other words, it is necessary that the primitive formula be accepted and sanctioned by the heart; and similarly the subsequent work from which are brought forth the .secondary formulas must proceed under the guidance of the heart. Hence it comes that these formulas, in order to be living, should be, and should remain, adapted to the faith and to him who believes. Wherefore, if for any reason this adaptation should cease to exist, they lose their first meaning and accordingly need to be changed. In view of the fact that the character and lot of dogmatic formulas are so unstable, it is no wonder that Modernists should regard them so lightly and in such open disrespect, and have no consideration or praise for anything but the religious sense and for the religious life. In this way, with consummate audacity, they criticize the Church, as having strayed from the true path by failing to distinguish between the religious and moral sense of formulas and their surface meaning, and by clinging vainly and tenaciously to meaningless formulas, while religion itself is allowed to go to ruin. “Blind’- they are, and “leaders of the blind” puffed up with the proud name of science, they have reached that pitch of folly at which they pervert the eternal concept of truth and the true meaning of religion; in introducing a new system in which “they are seen to be under the sway of a blind and unchecked passion for novelty, thinking not at all of finding some solid foundation of truth, but despising the holy and apostolic traditions, they embrace other and vain, futile, uncertain doctrines, unapproved by the Church, on which, in the height of their vanity, they think they can base and maintain truth itself.”8

14. Thus far, Venerable Brethren, We have considered the Modernist as a philosopher. Now if We proceed to consider him as a believer, and seek to know how the believer, according to Modernism, is marked off from the philosopher, it must be observed that, although the philosopher recognizes the reality of the divine as the object of faith, still this reality is not to be found by him but in the heart of the believer, as an object of feeling and affirmation, and therefore confined within the sphere of phenomena; but the question as to whether in itself it exists outside that feeling and affirmation is one which the philosopher passes over and neglects. For the Modernist believer, on the contrary, it is an established and certain fact that the reality of the divine does really exist in itself and quite independently of the person who believes in it. If you ask on what foundation this assertion of the believer rests, he answers: In the personal experience of the individual. On this head the Modernists differ from the Rationalists only to fall into the views of the Protestants and pseudo-mystics. The following is their manner of stating the question: In the religious sense one must recognize a kind of intuition of the heart which puts man in immediate contact with the reality of God, and infuses such a persuasion of God’s existence and His action both within and without man as far to exceed any scientific conviction. They assert, therefore, the existence of a real experience, and one of a kind that surpasses all rational experience. If this experience is denied by some, like the Rationalists, they say that this arises from the fact that such persons are unwilling to put themselves in the moral state necessary to produce it. It is this experience which makes the person who acquires it to be properly and truly a believer.

How far this position is removed from that of Catholic teaching! We have already seen how its fallacies have been condemned by the Vatican Council. Later on, we shall see how these errors, combined with those which we have already mentioned, open wide the way to Atheism. Here it is well to note at once that, given this doctrine of experience united with that of symbolism, every religion, even that of paganism, must be held to be true. What is to prevent such experiences from being found in any religion? In fact, that they are so is maintained by not a few. On what grounds can Modernists deny the truth of an experience affirmed by a follower of Islam? Will they claim a monopoly of true experiences for Catholics alone? Indeed, Modernists do not deny, but actually maintain, some confusedly, others frankly, that all religions are true. That they cannot feel otherwise is obvious. For on what ground, according to their theories, could falsity be predicated of any religion whatsoever? Certainly it would be either on account of the falsity of the religious .sense or on account of the falsity of the formula pronounced by the mind. Now the religious sense, although it maybe more perfect or less perfect, is always one and the same; and the intellectual formula, in order to be true, has but to respond to the religious sense and to the believer, whatever be the intellectual capacity of the latter. In the conflict between different religions, the most that Modernists can maintain is that the Catholic has more truth because it is more vivid, and that it deserves with more reason the name of Christian because it corresponds more fully with the origins of Christianity. No one will find it unreasonable that these consequences flow from the premises. But what is most amazing is that there are Catholics and priests, who, We would fain believe, abhor such enormities, and yet act as if they fully approved of them. For they lavish such praise and bestow such public honor on the teachers of these errors as to convey the belief that their admiration is not meant merely for the persons, who are perhaps not devoid of a certain merit, but rather for the sake of the errors which these persons openly profess and which they do all in their power to propagate.

15. There is yet another element in this part of their teaching which is absolutely contrary to Catholic truth. For what is laid down as to experience is also applied with destructive effect to tradition, which has always been maintained by the Catholic Church. Tradition, as understood by the Modernists, is a communication with others of an original experience, through preaching by means of the intellectual formula. To this formula, in addition to its representative value they attribute a species of suggestive efficacy which acts firstly in the believer by stimulating the religious sense, should it happen to have grown sluggish, and by renewing the experience once acquired, and secondly, in those who do not yet believe by awakening in them for the first time the religious sense and producing the experience. In this way is religious experience spread abroad among the nations; and not merely among contemporaries by preaching, but among future generations both by books and by oral transmission from one to another. Sometimes this communication of religious experience takes root and thrives, at other times it withers at once and dies. For the Modernists, to live is a proof of truth, since for them life and truth are one and the same thing. Thus we are once more led to infer that all existing religions are equally true, for otherwise they would not survive.

16. We have proceeded sufficiently far, Venerable Brethren, to have before us enough, and more than enough, to enable us to see what are the relations which Modernists establish between faith and science — including, as they are wont to do under that name, history. And in the first place it is to be held that the object-matter of the one is quite extraneous to and separate from the object-matter of the other. For faith occupies itself solely with something which science declares to be for it unknowable. Hence each has a separate scope assigned to it: science is entirely concerned with phenomena, into which faith does not at all enter; faith, on the contrary, concerns itself with the divine, which is entirely unknown to science. Thus it is contended that there can never be any dissension between faith and science, for if each keeps on its own ground they can never meet and therefore never can be in contradiction. And if it be objected that in the visible world there are some things which appertain to faith, such as the human life of Christ, the Modernists reply by denying this. For though such things come within the category of phenomena, still in as far as they are lived by faith and in the way already described have been by faith transfigured and disfigured, they have been removed from the world of sense and transferred into material for the divine. Hence should it be further asked whether Christ has wrought real miracles, and made real prophecies, whether He rose truly from the dead and ascended into Heaven, the answer of agnostic science will be in the negative and the answer of faith in the affirmative yet there will not be, on that account, any conflict between them. For it will be denied by the philosopher as a philosopher speaking to philosophers and considering Christ only in historical reality; and it will be affirmed by the believer as a believer speaking to believers and considering the life of Christ as lived again by the faith and in the faith.

17. It would be a great mistake, nevertheless, to suppose that, according to these theories, one is allowed to believe that faith and science are entirely independent of each other. On the side of science that is indeed quite true and correct, but it is quite otherwise with regard to faith, which is subject to science, not on one but on three grounds. For in the first place it must be observed that in every religious fact, when one takes away the divine reality and the experience of it which the believer possesses, everything else, and especially the religious formulas, belongs to the sphere of phenomena and therefore falls under the control of science. Let the believer go out of the world if he will, but so long as he remains in it, whether he like it or not, he cannot escape from the laws, the observation, the judgments of science and of history. Further, although it is contended that God is the object of faith alone, the statement refers only to the divine reality, not to the idea of God. The latter also is subject to science which, while it philosophizes in what is called the logical order, soars also to the absolute and the ideal. It is therefore the right of philosophy and of science to form its knowledge concerning the idea of God, to direct it in its evolution and to purify it of any extraneous elements which may have entered into it. Hence we have the Modernist axiom that the religious evolution ought to be brought into accord with the moral and intellectual, or as one whom they regard as their leader has expressed it, ought to be subject to it. Finally, man does not suffer a dualism to exist in himself, and the believer therefore feels within him an impelling need so to harmonize faith with science that it may never oppose the general conception which science sets forth concerning the universe.

Thus it is evident that science is to be entirely independent of faith, while on the other hand, and notwithstanding that they are supposed to be strangers to each other, faith is made subject to science. All this, Venerable Brethren, is in formal opposition to the teachings of Our predecessor, Pius IX, where he lays it down that: “In matters of religion it is the duty of philosophy not to command but to serve, not to prescribe what is to be believed, but to embrace what is to be believed with reasonable obedience, not to scrutinize the depths of the mysteries of God, but to venerate them devoutly and humbly.”9

The Modernists completely invert the parts, and of them may be applied the words which another of Our predecessors Gregory IX, addressed to some theologians of his time: “Some among you, puffed up like bladders with the spirit of vanity strive by profane novelties to cross the boundaries fixed by the Fathers, twisting the meaning of the sacred text…to the philosophical teaching of the rationalists, not for the profit of their hearer but to make a show of science…these men, led away by various and strange doctrines, turn the head into the tail and force the queen to serve the handmaid.”10

18. This will appear more clearly to anybody who studies the conduct of Modernists, which is in perfect harmony with their teachings. In their writings and addresses they seem not infrequently to advocate doctrines which are contrary one to the other, so that one would be disposed to regard their attitude as double and doubtful. But this is done deliberately and advisedly, and the reason of it is to be found in their opinion as to the mutual separation of science and faith. Thus in their books one finds some things which might well be approved by a Catholic, but on turning over the page one is confronted by other things which might well have been dictated by a rationalist. When they write history they make no mention of the divinity of Christ, but when they are in the pulpit they profess it clearly; again, when they are dealing with history they take no account of the Fathers and the Councils, but when they catechize the people, they cite them respectfully. In the same way they draw their distinctions between exegesis which is theological and pastoral and exegesis which is scientific and historical. So, too, when they treat of philosophy, history, and criticism, acting on the principle that science in no way depends upon faith, they feel no especial horror in treading in the footsteps of Luther11 and are wont to display a manifold contempt for Catholic doctrines, for the Holy Fathers, for the Ecumenical Councils, for the ecclesiastical magisterium; and should they be taken to task for this, they complain that they are being deprived of their liberty. Lastly, maintaining the theory that faith must be subject to science, they continuously and openly rebuke the Church on the ground that she resolutely refuses to submit and accommodate her dogmas to the opinions of philosophy; while they, on their side, having for this purpose blotted out the old theology, endeavor to introduce a new theology which shall support the aberrations of philosophers.

19. At this point, Venerable Brethren, the way is opened for us to consider the Modernists in the theological arena — a difficult task, yet one that may be disposed of briefly. It is a question of effecting the conciliation of faith with science, but always by making the one subject to the other. In this matter the Modernist theologian takes exactly the same principles which we have seen employed by the Modernist philosopher — the principles of immanence and symbolism — and applies them to the believer. The process is an extremely simple one. The philosopher has declared: The principle of faith is immanent; the believer has added: This principle is God; and the theologian draws the conclusion: God is immanent in man. Thus we have theological immanence. So, too, the philosopher regards it as certain that the representations of the object of faith are merely symbolical; the believer has likewise affirmed that the object of faith is God in himself; and the theologian proceeds to affirm that: The representations of the divine reality are symbolical. And thus we have theological symbolism. These errors are truly of the gravest kind and the pernicious character of both will be seen clearly from an examination of their consequences. For, to begin with symbolism, since symbols are but symbols in regard to their objects and only instruments in regard to the believer, it is necessary first of all, according to the teachings of the Modernists, that the believer does not lay too much stress on the formula, as formula, but avail himself of it only for the purpose of uniting himself to the absolute truth which the formula at once reveals and conceals, that is to say, endeavors to express but without ever succeeding in doing so. They would also have the believer make use of the formulas only in as far as they are helpful to him, for they are given to be a help and not a hindrance; with proper regard, however, for the social respect due to formulas which the public magisterium has deemed suitable for expressing the common consciousness until such time as the same magisterium shall provide otherwise. Concerning immanence it is not easy to determine what Modernists precisely mean by it, for their own opinions on the subject vary. Some understand it in the sense that God working in man is more intimately present in him than man is even in himself; and this conception, if properly understood, is irreproachable. Others hold that the divine action is one with the action of nature, as the action of the first cause is one with the action of the secondary cause; and this would destroy the supernatural order. Others, finally, explain it in a way which savors of pantheism, and this, in truth, is the sense which best fits in with the rest of their doctrines.

20. With this principle of immanence is connected another which may be called the principle of divine permanence. It differs from the first in much the same way as the private experience differs from the experience transmitted by tradition. An example illustrating what is meant will be found in the Church and the sacraments. The Church and the sacraments according to the Modernists, are not to be regarded as having been instituted by Christ Himself. This is barred by agnosticism, which recognizes in Christ nothing more than a man whose religious consciousness has been, like that of all men, formed by degrees; it is also barred by the law of immanence, which rejects what they call external application; it is further barred by the law of evolution, which requires, for the development of the germs, time and a certain series of circumstances; it is finally, barred by history, which shows that such in fact has been the course of things. Still it is to he held that both Church and sacraments have been founded mediately by Christ. But how? In this way: All Christian consciences were, they affirm, in a manner virtually included in the conscience of Christ as the plant is included in the seed. But as the branches live the life of the seed, so, too, all Christians are to be said to live the life of Christ. But the life of Christ, according to faith, is divine, and so, too, is the life of Christians. And if this life produced, in the course of ages, both the Church and the sacraments, it is quite right to say that their origin is from Christ and is divine. In the same way they make out that the Holy Scriptures and the dogmas are divine. And in this, the Modernist theology may be said to reach its completion. A slender provision, in truth, but more than enough for the theologian who professes that the conclusions of science, whatever they may be, must always be accepted! No one will have any difficulty in making the application of these theories to the other points with which We propose to deal.

21. Thus far We have touched upon the origin and nature of faith. But as faith has many branches, and chief among them the Church, dogma, worship, devotions, the Books which we call “sacred,” it concerns us to know what the Modernists teach concerning them. To begin with dogma, We have already indicated its origin and nature. Dogma is born of a sort of impulse or necessity by virtue of which the believer elaborates his thought so as to render it clearer to his own conscience and that of others. This elaboration consists entirely in the process of investigating and refining the primitive mental formula, not indeed in itself and according to any logical explanation, but according to circumstances, or vitally as the Modernists somewhat less intelligibly describe it. Hence it happens that around this primitive formula secondary formulas, as We have already indicated, gradually continue to be formed, and these subsequently grouped into one body, or one doctrinal construction and further sanctioned by the public magisterium as responding to the common consciousness, are called dogma. Dogma is to be carefully distinguished from the speculations of theologians which, although not alive with the life of dogma, are not without their utility as serving both to harmonize religion with science and to remove opposition between them, and to illumine and defend religion from without, and it may be even to prepare the matter for future dogma. Concerning worship there would not be much to be said, were it not that under this head are comprised the sacraments, concerning which the Modernist errors are of the most serious character. For them the sacraments are the resultant of a double impulse or need — for, as we have seen, everything in ttheir system is explained by inner impulses or necessities. The first need is that of giving some sensible manifestation to religion; the second is that of expressing it, which could not be done without some sensible form and consecrating acts, and these are called sacraments. But for the Modernists, sacraments are bare symbols or signs, though not devoid of a certain efficacy — an efficacy, they tell us, like that of certain phrases vulgarly described as having caught the popular ear, inasmuch as they have the power of putting certain leading ideas into circulation, and of making a marked impression upon the mind. What the phrases are to the ideas, that the sacraments are to the religious sense, that and nothing more. The Modernists would express their mind more clearly were they to affirm that the sacraments are instituted solely to foster the faith but this is condemned by the Council of Trent: If anyone says that these sacraments are instituted solely to foster the faith, let him be anathema.12

22. We have already touched upon the nature and origin of the Sacred Books. According to the principles of the Modernists they may be rightly described as a summary of experiences, not indeed of the kind that may now and again come to anybody, but those extraordinary and striking experiences which are the possession of every religion. And this is precisely what they teach about our books of the Old and New Testament. But to suit their own theories they note with remarkable ingenuity that, although experience is something belonging to the present, still it may draw its material in like manner from the past and the future inasmuch as the believer by memory lives the past over again after the manner of the present, and lives the future already by anticipation. This explains how it is that the historical and apocalyptic books are included among the Sacred Writings. God does indeed speak in these books through the medium of the believer, but according to Modernist theology, only by immanence and vital permanence. We may ask, what then becomes of inspiration? Inspiration, they reply, is in nowise distinguished from that impulse which stimulates the believer to reveal the faith that is in him by words of writing, except perhaps by its vehemence. It is something like that which happens in poetical inspiration, of which it has been said: There is a God in us, and when he stirreth he sets us afire. It is in this sense that God is said to be the origin of the inspiration of the Sacred Books. The Modernists moreover affirm concerning this inspiration, that there is nothing in the Sacred Books which is devoid of it. In this respect some might be disposed to consider them as more orthodox than certain writers in recent times who somewhat restrict inspiration, as, for instance, in what have been put forward as so-called tacit citations. But in all this we have mere verbal conjuring. For if we take the Bible, according to the standards of agnosticism, namely, as a human work, made by men for men, albeit the theologian is allowed to proclaim that it is divine by immanence, what room is there left in it for inspiration? The Modernists assert a general inspiration of the Sacred Books, but they admit no inspiration in the Catholic sense.

23. A wider field for comment is opened when we come to what the Modernist school has imagined to be the nature of the Church. They begin with the supposition that the Church has its birth in a double need; first, the need of the individual believer to communicate his faith to others, especially if he has had some original and special experience, and secondly, when the faith has become common to many, the need of the collectivity to form itself into a society and to guard, promote, and propagate the common good. What, then, is the Church? It is the product of the collective conscience, that is to say, of the association of individual consciences which, by virtue of the principle of vital permanence, depend all on one first believer, who for Catholics is Christ. Now every society needs a directing authority to guide its members towards the common end, to foster prudently the elements of cohesion, which in a religious society are doctrine and worship. Hence the triple authority in the Catholic Church, disciplinary, dogmatic, liturgical. The nature of this authority is to be gathered from its origin, and its rights and duties from its nature. In past times it was a common error that authority came to the Church from without, that is to say directly from God; and it was then rightly held to be autocratic. But this conception has now grown obsolete. For in the same way as the Church is a vital emanation of the collectivity of consciences, so too authority emanates vitally from the Church itself. Authority, therefore, like the Church, has its origin in the religious conscience, and, that being so, is subject to it. Should it disown this dependence it becomes a tyranny. For we are living in an age when the sense of liberty has reached its highest development. In the civil order the public conscience has introduced popular government. Now there is in man only one conscience, just as there is only one life. It is for the ecclesiastical authority, therefore, to adopt a democratic form, unless it wishes to provoke and foment an intestine conflict in the consciences of mankind. The penalty of refusal is disaster. For it is madness to think that the sentiment of liberty, as it now obtains, can recede. Were it forcibly pent up and held in bonds, the more terrible would be its outburst, sweeping away at once both Church and religion. Such is the situation in the minds of the Modernists, and their one great anxiety is, in consequence, to find a way of conciliation between the authority of the Church and the liberty of the believers.

24. But it is not only within her own household that the Church must come to terms. Besides her relations with those within, she has others with those who are outside. The Church does not occupy the world all by herself; there are other societies in the world., with which she must necessarily have dealings and contact. The rights and duties of the Church towards civil societies must, therefore, be determined, and determined, of course, by her own nature, that, to wit, which the Modernists have already described to us. The rules to be applied in this matter are clearly those which have been laid down for science and faith, though in the latter case the question turned upon the object, while in the present case we have one of ends. In the same way, then, as faith and science are alien to each other by reason of the diversity of their objects, Church and State are strangers by reason of the diversity of their ends, that of the Church being spiritual while that of the State is temporal. Formerly it was possible to subordinate the temporal to the spiritual and to speak of some questions as mixed, conceding to the Church the position of queen and mistress in all such, because the Church was then regarded as having been instituted immediately by God as the author of the supernatural order. But this doctrine is today repudiated alike by philosophers and historians. The state must, therefore, be separated from the Church, and the Catholic from the citizen. Every Catholic, from the fact that he is also a citizen, has the right and the duty to work for the common good in the way he thinks best, without troubling himself about the authority of the Church, without paying any heed to its wishes, its counsels, its orders — nay, even in spite of its rebukes. For the Church to trace out and prescribe for the citizen any line of action, on any pretext whatsoever, is to be guilty of an abuse of authority, against which one is bound to protest with all one’s might. Venerable Brethren, the principles from which these doctrines spring have been solemnly condemned by Our predecessor, Pius VI, in his Apostolic Constitution Auctorem fidei.13

25. But it is not enough for the Modernist school that the State should be separated from the Church. For as faith is to be subordinated to science as far as phenomenal elements are concerned, so too in temporal matters the Church must be subject to the State. This, indeed, Modernists may not yet say openly, but they are forced by the logic of their position to admit it. For granted the principle that in temporal matters the State possesses the sole power, it will follow that when the believer, not satisfied with merely internal acts of religion, proceeds to external acts — such for instance as the reception or administration of the sacraments — these will fall under the control of the State. What will then become of ecclesiastical authority, which can only be exercised by external acts? Obviously it will be completely under the dominion of the State. It is this inevitable consequence which urges many among liberal Protestants to reject all external worship — nay, all external religious fellowship, and leads them to advocate what they call individual religion. If the Modernists have not yet openly proceeded so far, they ask the Church in the meanwhile to follow of her own accord in the direction in which they urge her and to adapt herself to the forms of the State. Such are their ideas about disciplinary authority. But much more evil and pernicious are their opinions on doctrinal and dogmatic authority. The following is their conception of the magisterium of the Church: No religious society, they say, can be a real unit unless the religious conscience of its members be one, and also the formula which they adopt. But this double unity requires a kind of common mind whose office is to find and determine the formula that corresponds best with the common conscience; and it must have, moreover, an authority sufficient to enable it to impose on the community the formula which has been decided upon. From the combination and, as it were, fusion of these two elements, the common mind which draws up the formula and the authority which imposes it, arises, according to the Modernists, the notion of the ecclesiastical magisterium. And, as this magisterium springs, in its last analysis, from the individual consciences and possesses its mandate of public utility for their benefit, it necessarily follows that the ecclesiastical magisterium must be dependent upon them, and should therefore be made to bow to the popular ideals. To prevent individual consciences from expressing freely and openly the impulses they feel, to hinder criticism from urging forward dogma in the path of its necessary evolution, is not a legitimate use but an abuse of a power given for the public weal. So too a due method and measure must be observed in the exercise of authority. To condemn and proscribe a work without the knowledge of the author, without hearing his explanations, without discussion, is something approaching to tyranny. And here again it is a question of finding a way of reconciling the full rights of authority on the one hand and those of liberty on the other. In the meantime the proper course for the Catholic will be to proclaim publicly his profound respect for authority, while never ceasing to follow his own judgment. Their general direction for the Church is as follows: that the ecclesiastical authority, since its end is entirely spiritual, should strip itself of that external pomp which adorns it in the eyes of the public. In this, they forget that while religion is for the soul, it is not exclusively for the soul, and that the honor paid to authority is reflected back on Christ who instituted it.

26. To conclude this whole question of faith and its various branches, we have still to coactically their principal doctrine, namely, evolution. To the laws of evolution everything is subject under penalty of death — dogma, Church, worship, the Books we revere as sacred, even faith itself. The enunciation of this principle will not be a matter of surprise to anyone who bears in mind what the Modernists have had to say about each of these subjects. Having laid down this law of evolution, the Modernists themselves teach us how it operates. And first, with regard to faith. The primitive form of faith, they tell us, was rudimentary and common to all men alike, for it had its origin in human nature and human life. Vital evolution brought with it progress, not by the accretion of new and purely adventitious forms from without, but by an increasing perfusion of the religious sense into the conscience. The progress was of two kinds: negative, by the elimination of all extraneous elements, such, for example, as those derived from the family or nationality; and positive, by that intellectual and moral refining of man, by means of which the idea of the divine became fuller and clearer, while the religious sense became more acute. For the progress of faith the same causes are to be assigned as those which are adduced above to explain its origin. But to them must be added those extraordinary men whom we call prophets — of whom Christ was the greatest — both because in their lives and their words there was something mysterious which faith attributed to the divinity, and because it fell to their lot to have new and original experiences fully in harmony with the religious needs of their time. The progress of dogma is due chiefly to the fact that obstacles to the faith have to be surmounted, enemies have to be vanquished, and objections have to be refuted. Add to this a perpetual striving to penetrate ever more profoundly into those things which are contained in the mysteries of faith. Thus, putting aside other examples, it is found to have happened in the case of Christ: in Him that divine nsider, Venerable Brethren, what the Modernists have to say about the development of the one and the other. First of all they lay down the general principle that in a living religion everything is subject to change, and must in fact be changed. In this way they pass to what is prsomething which faith recognized in Him was slowly and gradually expanded in such a way that He was at last held to be God. The chief stimulus of the evolution of worship consists in the need of accommodation to the manners and customs of peoples, as well as the need of availing itself of the value which certain acts have acquired by usage. Finally, evolution in the Church itself is fed by the need of adapting itself to historical conditions and of harmonizing itself with existing forms of society. Such is their view with regard to each. And here, before proceeding further, We wish to draw attention to this whole theory of necessities or needs, for beyond all that we have seen, it is, as it were, the base and foundation of that famous method which they describe as historical.

27. Although evolution is urged on by needs or necessities, yet, if controlled by these alone, it would easily overstep the boundaries of tradition, and thus, separated from its primitive vital principle, would make for ruin instead of progress. Hence, by those who study more closely the ideas of the Modernists, evolution is described as a resultant from the conflict of two forces, one of them tending towards progress, the other towards conservation. The conserving force exists in the Church and is found in tradition; tradition is represented by religious authority, and this both by right and in fact. By right, for it is in the very nature of authority to protect tradition: and in fact, since authority, raised as it is above the contingencies of life, feels hardly, or not at all, the spurs of progress. The progressive force, on the contrary, which responds to the inner needs, lies in the individual consciences and works in them — especially in such of them as are in more close and intimate contact with life. Already we observe, Venerable Brethren, the introduction of that most pernicious doctrine which would make of the laity the factor of progress in the Church. Now it is by a species of covenant and compromise between these two forces of conservation and progress, that is to say between authority and individual consciences, that changes and advances take place. The individual consciences, or some of them, act on the collective conscience, which brings pressure to bear on the depositories of authority to make terms and to keep to them.

With all this in mind, one understands how it is that the Modernists express astonishment when they are reprimanded or punished. What is imputed to them as a fault they regard as a sacred duty. They understand the needs of consciences better than anyone else, since they come into closer touch with them than does the ecclesiastical authority. Nay, they embody them, so to speak, in themselves. Hence, for them to speak and to write publicly is a bounden duty. Let authority rebuke them if it pleases — they have their own conscience on their side and an intimate experience which tells them with certainty that what they deserve is not blame but praise. Then they reflect that, after all, there is no progress without a battle and no battle without its victims; and victims they are willing to be like the prophets and Christ Himself. They have no bitterness in their hearts against the authority which uses them roughly, for after all they readily admit that it is only doing its duty as authority. Their sole grief is that it remains deaf to their warnings, for in this way it impedes the progress of souls, but the hour will most surely come when further delay will be impossible, for if the laws of evolution may be checked for a while they cannot be finally evaded. And thus they go their way, reprimands and condemnations not withstanding, masking an incredible audacity under a mock semblance of humility. While they make a pretense of bowing their heads, their minds and hands are more boldly intent than ever on carrying out their purposes. And this policy they follow willingly and wittingly, both because it is part of their system that authority is to be stimulated but not dethroned, and because it is necessary for them to remain within the ranks of the Church in order that they may gradually transform the collective conscience. And in saying this, they fail to perceive that they are avowing that the collective conscience is not with them, and that they have no right to claim to be its interpreters.

28. It is thus, Venerable Brethren, that for the Modernists, whether as authors or propagandists, there is to be nothing stable, nothing immutable in the Church. Nor, indeed, are they without forerunners in their doctrines, for it was of these that Our predecessor Pius IX wrote: “These enemies of divine revelation extol human progress to the skies, and with rash and sacrilegious daring would have it introduced into the Catholic religion as if this religion were not the work of God but of man, or some kind of philosophical discovery susceptible of perfection by human efforts.”14 On the subject of revelation and dogma in particular, the doctrine of the Modernists offers nothing new. We find it condemned in the Syllabus of Pius IX, where it is enunciated in these terms: ”Divine revelation is imperfect, and therefore subject to continual and indefinite progress, corresponding with the progress of human reason”;15 and condemned still more solemnly in the Vatican Council: ”The doctrine of the faith which God has revealed has not been proposed to human intelligences to be perfected by them as if it were a philosophical system, but as a divine deposit entrusted to the Spouse of Christ to be faithfully guarded and infallibly interpreted. Hence also that sense of the sacred dogmas is to be perpetually retained which our Holy Mother the Church has once declared, nor is this sense ever to be abandoned on plea or pretext of a more profound comprehension of the truth.”16 Nor is the development of our knowledge, even concerning the faith, barred by this pronouncement; on the contrary, it is supported and maintained. For the same Council continues: “Let intelligence and science and wisdom, therefore, increase and progress abundantly and vigorously in individuals, and in the mass, in the believer and in the whole Church, throughout the ages and the centuries — but only in its own kind, that is, according to the same dogma, the same sense, the same acceptation.”17

29. We have studied the Modernist as philosopher, believer, and theologian. It now remains for us to consider him as historian, critic, apologist, and reformer.

30. Some Modernists, devoted to historical studies, seem to be deeply anxious not to be taken for philosophers. About philosophy they profess to know nothing whatever, and in this they display remarkable astuteness, for they are particularly desirous not to be suspected of any prepossession in favour of philosophical theories which would lay them open to the charge of not being, as they call it, objective. And yet the truth is that their history and their criticism are saturated with their philosophy, and that their historico-critical conclusions are the natural outcome of their philosophical principles. This will be patent to anyone who reflects. Their three first laws are contained in those three principles of their philosophy already dealt with: the principle of agnosticism, the theorem of the transfiguration of things by faith, and that other which may be called the principle of disfiguration. Let us see what consequences flow from each of these. Agnosticism tells us that history, like science, deals entirely with phenomena, and the consequence is that God, and every intervention of God in human affairs, is to be relegated to the domain of faith as belonging to it alone. Wherefore in things where there is combined a double element, the divine and the human, as, for example, in Christ, or the Church, or the sacraments, or the many other objects of the same kind, a division and separation must be made and the human element must he left to history while the divine will he assigned to faith. Hence we have that distinction, so current among the Modernists, between the Christ of history and the Christ of faith; the Church of history and the Church of faith; the sacraments of history and the sacraments of faith, and so in similar matters. Next we find that the human element itself, which the historian has to work on, as it appears in the documents, is to be considered as having been transfigured by faith, that is to say, raised above its historical conditions. It becomes necessary, therefore, to eliminate also the accretions which faith has added, to relegate them to faith itself and to the history of faith. Thus, when treating of Christ, the historian must set aside all that surpasses man in his natural condition, according to what psychology tells us of him, or according to what we gather from the place and period of his existence. Finally, they require, by virtue of the third principle, that even those things which are not outside the sphere of history should pass through the sieve, excluding all and relegating to faith everything which, in their judgment, is not in harmony with what they call the logic of facts or not in character with the persons of whom they are predicated. Thus, they will not allow that Christ ever uttered those things which do not seem to be within the capacity of the multitudes that listened to Him. Hence they delete from His real history and transfer to faith all the allegories found in His discourses. We may peradventure inquire on what principle they make these divisions? Their reply is that they argue from the character of the man, from his condition of life, from his education, from the complexus of the circumstances under which the facts took place; in short, if We understand them aright, on a principle which in the last analysis is merely .subjective. Their method is to put themselves into the position and person of Christ, and then to attribute to Him what they would have done under like circumstances. In this way, absolutely a priori and acting on philosophical principles which they hold but which they profess to ignore, they proclaim that Christ, according to what they call His real history, was not God and never did anything divine, and that as man He did and said only what they, judging from the time in which He lived, consider that He ought to have said or done.

31. As history takes its conclusions from philosophy, so too criticism takes its conclusions from history. The critic on the data furnished him by the historian, makes two parts of all his documents. Those that remain after the triple elimination above described go to form the real history; the rest is attributed to the history of the faith or, as it is styled, to internal history. For the Modernists distinguish very carefully between these two kinds of history, and it is to be noted that they oppose the history of the faith to real history precisely as real. Thus, as we have already said, we have a twofold Christ: a real Christ, and a Christ, the one of faith, who never really existed; a Christ who has lived at a given time and in a given place, and a Christ who never lived outside the pious meditations of the believer — the Christ, for instance, whom we find in the Gospel of St. John, which, according to them, is mere meditation from beginning to end.

32. But the dominion of philosophy over history does not end here. Given that division, of which We have spoken, of the documents into two parts, the philosopher steps in again with his dogma of vital immanence, and shows how everything in the history of the Church is to be explained by vital emanation. And since the cause or condition of every vital emanation whatsoever is to be found in some need or want, it follows that no fact can be regarded as antecedent to the need which produced it — historically the fact must be posterior to the need. What, then, does the historian do in view of this principle? He goes over his documents again, whether they be contained in the Sacred Books or elsewhere, draws up from them his list of the particular needs of the Church, whether relating to dogma, or liturgy, or other matters which are found in the Church thus related, and then he hands his list over to the critic. The critic takes in hand the documents dealing with the history of faith and distributes them, period by period, so that they correspond exactly with the list of needs, always guided by the principle that the narration must follow the facts, as the facts follow the needs. It may at times happen that some parts of the Sacred Scriptures, such as the Epistles, themselves constitute the fact created by the need. Even so, the rule holds that the age of any document can only be determined by the age in which each need has manifested itself in the Church. Further, a distinction must be made between the beginning of a fact and its development, for what is born in one day requires time for growth. Hence the critic must once more go over his documents, ranged as they are through the different ages, and divide them again into two parts, separating those that regard the origin of the facts from those that deal with their development, and these he must again arrange according to their periods.

33. Then the philosopher must come in again to enjoin upon the historian the obligation of following in all his studies the precepts and laws of evolution. It is next for the historian to scrutinize his documents once more, to examine carefully the circumstances and conditions affecting the Church during the different periods, the conserving force she has put forth, the needs both internal and external that have stimulated her to progress, the obstacles she has had to encounter, in a word, everything that helps to determine the manner in which the laws of evolution have been fulfilled in her. This done, he finishes his work by drawing up a history of the development in its broad lines. The critic follows and fits in the rest of the documents. He sets himself to write. The history is finished. Now We ask here: Who is the author of this history? The historian? The critic? Assuredly neither of these but the philosopher. From beginning to end everything in it is a priori, and an apriorism that reeks of heresy. These men are certainly to be pitied, of whom the Apostle might well say: “They became vain in their thoughts…professing themselves to be wise, they became fools.”18 At the same time, they excite resentment when they accuse the Church of arranging and confusing the texts after her own fashion, and for the needs of her cause. In this they are accusing the Church of something for which their own conscience plainly reproaches them.

34. The result of this dismembering of the records, and this partition of them throughout the centuries is naturally that the Scriptures can no longer be attributed to the authors whose names they bear. The Modernists have no hesitation in affirming generally that these books, and especially the Pentateuch and the first three Gospels, have been gradually formed from a primitive brief narration, by additions, by interpolations of theological or allegorical interpretations, or parts introduced only for the purpose of joining different passages together. This means, to put it briefly and clearly, that in the Sacred Books we must admit a vital evolution, springing from and corresponding with the evolution of faith. The traces of this evolution, they tell us, are so visible in the books that one might almost write a history of it. Indeed, this history they actually do write, and with such an easy assurance that one might believe them to have seen with their own eyes the writers at work through the ages amplifying the Sacred Books. To aid them in this they call to their assistance that branch of criticism which they call textual, and labor to show that such a fact or such a phrase is not in its right place, adducing other arguments of the same kind. They seem, in fact, to have constructed for themselves certain types of narration and discourses, upon which they base their assured verdict as to whether a thing is or is not out of place. Let him who can judge how far they are qualified in this way to make such distinctions. To hear them descant of their works on the Sacred Books, in which they have been able to discover so much that is defective, one would imagine that before them nobody ever even turned over the pages of Scripture. The truth is that a whole multitude of Doctors, far superior to them in genius, in erudition, in sanctity, have sifted the Sacred Books in every way, and so far from finding in them anything blameworthy have thanked God more and more heartily the more deeply they have gone into them, for His divine bounty in having vouchsafed to speak thus to men. Unfortunately. these great Doctors did not enjoy the same aids to study that are possessed by the Modernists for they did not have for their rule and guide a philosophy borrowed from the negation of God, and a criterion which consists of themselves .

We believe, then, that We have set forth with sufficient clearness the historical method of the Modernists. The philosopher leads the way, the historian follows, and then in due order come the internal and textual critics. And since it is characteristic of the primary cause to communicate its virtue to causes which are secondary, it is quite clear that the criticism with which We are concerned is not any kind of criticism, but that which is rightly called agnostic, immanentist, and evolutionist criticism. Hence anyone who adopts it and employs it makes profession thereby of the errors contained in it, and places himself in opposition to Catholic teaching. This being so, it is much a matter for surprise that it should have found acceptance to such an extent among certain Catholics. Two causes may be assigned for this: first, the close alliance which the historians and critics of this school have formed among themselves independent of all differences of nationality or religion; second, their boundless effrontery by which, if one then makes any utterance, the others applaud him in chorus, proclaiming that science has made another step forward, while if an outsider should desire to inspect the new discovery for himself, they form a coalition against him. He who denies it is decried as one who is ignorant, while he who embraces and defends it has all their praise. In this way they entrap not a few, who, did they but realize what they are doing, would shrink back with horror. The domineering overbearance of those who teach the errors, and the thoughtless compliance of the more shallow minds who assent to them, create a corrupted atmosphere which penetrates everywhere, and carries infection with it. But let Us pass to the apologist.

35. The Modernist apologist depends in two ways on the philosopher. First, indirectly, inasmuch as his subject-matter is history — history dictated, as we have seen, by the philosopher; and, secondly, directly, inasmuch as he takes both his doctrines and his conclusions from the philosopher. Hence that common axiom of the Modernist school that in the new apologetics controversies in religion must be determined by psychological and historical research. The Modernist apologists, then, enter the arena, proclaiming to the rationalists that, though they are defending religion, they have no intention of employing the data of the sacred books or the histories in current use in the Church, and written upon the old lines, but real history composed on modern principles and according to the modern method. In all this they assert that they are not using an argumentum ad hominem, because they are really of the opinion that the truth is to be found only in this kind of history. They feel that it is not necessary for them to make profession of their own sincerity in their writings. They are already known to and praised by the rationalists as fighting under the same banner, and they not only plume themselves on these encomiums, which would only provoke disgust in a real Catholic, but use them as a counter-compensation to the reprimands of the Church. Let us see how the Modernist conducts his apologetics. The aim he sets before himself is to make one who is still without faith attain that experience of the Catholic religion which, according to the system, is the sole basis of faith. There are two ways open to him, the objective and the subjective. The first of them starts from agnosticism. It tends to show that religion, and especially the Catholic religion, is endowed with such vitality as to compel every psychologist and historian of good faith to recognize that its history hides some element of the unknown. To this end it is necessary to prove that the Catholic religion, as it exists today, is that which was founded by Jesus Christ; that is to say, that it is nothing else than the progressive development of the germ which He brought into the world. Hence it is imperative first of all to establish what this germ was, and this the Modernist claims to he able to do by the following formula: Christ announced the coming of the kingdom of God, which was to be realized within a brief lapse of time and of which He was to become the Messias, the divinely-given founder and ruler. Then it must be shown how this germ, always immanent and permanent in the Catholic religion, has gone on slowly developing in the course of history, adapting itself successively to the different circumstances through which it has passed, borrowing from them by vital assimilation all the doctrinal, cultural, ecclesiastical forms that served its purpose; whilst, on the other hand, it surmounted all obstacles, vanquished all enemies, and survived all assaults and all combats. Anyone who well and duly considers this mass of obstacles, adversaries, attacks, combats, and the vitality and fecundity which the Church has shown throughout them all, must admit that if the laws of evolution are visible in her life they fail to explain the whole of her history — the unknown rises forth from it and presents itself before Us. Thus do they argue, not perceiving that their determination of the primitive germ is only an a priori assumption of agnostic and evolutionist philosophy, and that the germ itself has been gratuitously defined so that it may fit in with their contention.

36. But while they endeavour by this line of reasoning to prove and plead for the Catholic religion, these new apologists are more than willing to grant and to recognize that there are in it many things which are repulsive. Nay, they admit openly, and with ill-concealed satisfaction, that they have found that even its dogma is not exempt from errors and contradictions. They add also that this is not only excusable but — curiously enough — that it is even right and proper. In the Sacred Books there are many passages referring to science or history where, according to them, manifest errors are to he found. But, they say, the subject of these books is not science or history, but only religion and morals. In them history and science serve only as a species of covering to enable the religious and moral experiences wrapped Up in them to penetrate more readily among the masses. The masses understood science and history as they are expressed in these books, and it is clear that the expression of science and history in a more perfect form would have proved not so much a help as a hindrance. Moreover, they add, the Sacred Books, being essentially religious, are necessarily quick with life. Now life has its own truths and its own logic — quite different from rational truth aand rational logic, belonging as they do to a different order, viz., truth of adaptation and of proportion both with what they call the medium in which it lives and with the end for which it lives. Finally, the Modernists, losing all sense of control, go so far as to proclaim as true and legitimate whatever is explained by life.

We, Venerable Brethren, for whom there is but one and only one truth, and who hold that the Sacred Books, “written under the inspiration of the Holy Ghost, have God for their author”19 declare that this is equivalent to attributing to God Himself the lie of utility or officious lie, and We say with St. Augustine: “In an authority so high, admit but one officious lie, and there will not remain a single passage of those apparently difficult to practice or to believe, which on the same most pernicious rule may not be explained as a lie uttered by the author willfully and to serve a purpose.”20 And thus it will come about, the holy Doctor continues, that “everybody will believe and refuse to believe what he likes or dislikes in them,” namely, the Scriptures. But the Modernists pursue their way eagerly. They grant also that certain arguments adduced in the Sacred Books in proof of a given doctrine, like those, for example, which are based on the prophecies, have no rational foundation to rest on. But they defend even these as artifices of preaching, which are justified by life. More than that. They are ready to admit, nay, to proclaim that Christ Himself manifestly erred in determining the time when the coming of the Kingdom of God was to take place; and they tell us that we must not be surprised at this since even He Himself was subject to the laws of life! After this what is to become of the dogmas of the Church? The dogmas bristle with flagrant contradictions, but what does it matter since, apart from the fact that vital logic accepts them, they are not repugnant to symbolical truth. Are we not dealing with the infinite, and has not the infinite an infinite variety of aspects? In short, to maintain and defend these theories they do not hesitate to declare that the noblest homage that can be paid to the Infinite is to make it the object of contradictory statements! But when they justify even contradictions, what is it that they will refuse to justify?

37. But it is not solely by objective arguments that the non-believer may be disposed to faith. There are also those that are subjective, and for this purpose the modernist apologists return to the doctrine of immanence. They endeavour, in fact, to persuade their non-believer that down in the very depths of his nature and his life lie hidden the need and the desire for some religion, and this not a religion of any kind, but the specific religion known as Catholicism, which, they say, is absolutely postulated by the perfect development of life. And here again We have grave reason to complain that there are Catholics who, while rejecting immanence as a doctrine, employ it as a method of apologetics, and who do this so imprudently that they seem to admit, not merely a capacity and a suitability for the supernatural, such as has at all times been emphasized, within due limits, by Catholic apologists, but that there is in human nature a true and rigorous need for the supernatural order. Truth to tell, it is only the moderate Modernists who make this appeal to an exigency for the Catholic religion. As for the others, who might he called integralists, they would show to the non-believer, as hidden in his being, the very germ which Christ Himself had in His consciousness, and which He transmitted to mankind. Such, Venerable Brethren, is a summary description of the apologetic method of the Modernists, in perfect harmony with their doctrines — methods and doctrines replete with errors, made not for edification but for destruction, not for the making of Catholics but for the seduction of those who are Catholics into heresy; and tending to the utter subversion of all religion.

38. It remains for Us now to say a few words about the Modernist as reformer. From all that has preceded, it is abundantly clear how great and how eager is the passion of such men for innovation. In all Catholicism there is absolutely nothing on which it does not fasten. They wish philosophy to be reformed, especially in the ecclesiastical seminaries. They wish the scholastic philosophy to be relegated to the history of philosophy and to be classed among absolute systems, and the young men to be taught modern philosophy which alone is true and suited to the times in which we live. They desire the reform of theology: rational theology is to have modern philosophy for its foundation, and positive theology is to be founded on the history of dogma. As for history, it must be written and taught only according to their methods and modern principles. Dogmas and their evolution, they affirm, are to be harmonized with science and history. In the Catechism no dogmas are to be inserted except those that have been reformed and are within the capacity of the people. Regarding worship, they say, the number of external devotions is to he reduced, and steps must be taken to prevent their further increase, though, indeed, some of the admirers of symbolism are disposed to be more indulgent on this head. They cry out that ecclesiastical government requires to be reformed in all its branches, but especially in its disciplinary and dogmatic departments They insist that both outwardly and inwardly it must be brought into harmony with the modern conscience which now wholly tends towards democracy; a share in ecclesiastical government should therefore be given to the lower ranks of the clergy and even to the laity and authority which is too much concentrated should be decentralized The Roman Congregations and especially the index and the Holy Office, must be likewise modified The ecclesiastical authority must alter its line of conduct in the social and political world; while keeping outside political organizations it must adapt itself to them in order to penetrate them with its spirit. With regard to morals, they adopt the principle of the Americanists, that the active virtues are more important than the passive, and are to be more encouraged in practice. They ask that the clergy should return to their primitive humility and poverty, and that in their ideas and action they should admit the principles of Modernism; and there are some who, gladly listening to the teaching of their Protestant masters, would desire the suppression of the celibacy of the clergy. What is there left in the Church which is not to be reformed by them and according to their principles?

39. It may, perhaps, seem to some, Venerable Brethren, that We have dealt at too great length on this exposition of the doctrines of the Modernists. But it was necessary that We should do so, both in order to meet their customary charge that We do not understand their ideas, and to show that their system does not consist in scattered and unconnected theories, but, as it were, in a closely connected whole, so that it is not possible to admit one without admitting all. For this reason, too, We have had to give to this exposition a somewhat didactic form, and not to shrink from employing certain unwonted terms which the Modernists have brought into use. And now with Our eyes fixed upon the whole system, no one will be surprised that We should define it to be the synthesis of all heresies. Undoubtedly, were anyone to attempt the task of collecting together all the errors that have been broached against the faith and to concentrate into one the sap and substance of them all, he could not succeed in doing so better than the Modernists have done. Nay, they have gone farther than this, for, as We have already intimated, their system means the destruction not of the Catholic religion alone, but of all religion. Hence the rationalists are not wanting in their applause, and the most frank and sincere among them congratulate themselves on having found in the Modernists the most valuable of all allies.

Let us turn for a moment, Venerable Brethren, to that most disastrous doctrine of agnosticism. By it every avenue to God on the side of the intellect is barred to man, while a better way is supposed to be opened from the side of a certain sense of the soul and action. But who does not see how mistaken is such a contention? For the sense of the soul is the response to the action of the thing which the intellect or the outward senses set before it. Take away the intelligence, and man, already inclined to follow the senses, becomes their slave. Doubly mistaken, from another point of view, for all these fantasies of the religious sense will never be able to destroy common sense, and common sense tells us that emotion and everything that leads the heart captive proves a hindrance instead of a help to the discovery of truth. We speak of truth in itself — for that other purely subjective truth, the fruit of the internal sense and action, if it serves its purpose for the play of words, is of no benefit to the man who wants above all things to know whether outside himself there is a God into whose hands he is one day to fall. True, the Modernists call in experience to eke out their system, but what does this experience add to that sense of the soul? Absolutely nothing beyond a certain intensity and a proportionate deepening of the conviction of the reality of the object. But these two will never make the sense of the soul into anything but sense, nor will they alter its nature, which is liable to deception when the intelligence is not there to guide it; on the contrary, they but confirm and strengthen this nature, for the more intense the sense is the more it is really sense. And as we are here dealing with religious sense and the experience involved in it, it is known to you, Venerable Brethren, how necessary in such a matter is prudence, and the learning by which prudence is guided. You know it from your own dealings with souls, and especially with souls in whom sentiment predominates; you know it also from your reading of works of ascetical theology — works for which the Modernists have but little esteem, but which testify to a science and a solidity far greater than theirs, and to a refinement and subtlety of observation far beyond any which the Modernists take credit to themselves for possessing. It seems to Us nothing short of madness, or at the least consummate temerity to accept for true, and without investigation, these incomplete experiences which are the vaunt of the Modernist. Let Us for a moment put the question: If experiences have so much force and value in their estimation, why do they not attach equal weight to the experience that so many thousands of Catholics have that the Modernists are on the wrong path? Is it that the Catholic experiences are the only ones which are false and deceptive? The vast majority of mankind holds and always will hold firmly that sense and experience alone, when not enlightened and guided by reason, cannot reach to the knowledge of God. What, then, remains but atheism and the absence of all religion? Certainly it is not the doctrine of .symbolism that will save us from this. For if all the intellectual elements, as they call them, of religion are nothing more than mere symbols of God, will not the very name of God or of divine personality be also a symbol, and if this be admitted, the personality of God will become a matter of doubt and the gate will be opened to pantheism? And to pantheism pure and simple that other doctrine of the divine immanence leads directly. For this is the question which We ask: Does or does not this immanence leave God distinct from man? If it does, in what does it differ from the Catholic doctrine, and why does it reject the doctrine of external revelation? If it does not, it is pantheism. Now the doctrine of immanence in the Modernist acceptation holds and professes that every phenomenon of conscience proceeds from man as man. The rigorous conclusion from this is the identity of man with God, which means pantheism. The distinction which Modernists make between science and faith leads to the same conclusion. The object of science, they say, is the reality of the knowable; the object of faith, on the contrary, is the reality of the unknowable. Now, what makes the unknowable unknowable is the fact that there is no proportion between its object and the intellect — a defect of proportion which nothing whatever, even in the doctrine of the Modernist, can suppress. Hence the unknowable remains and will eternally remain unknowable to the believer as well as to the philosopher. Therefore if any religion at all is possible, it can only be the religion of an unknowable reality. And why this might not be that soul of the universe, of which certain rationalists speak, is something which certainly does not seem to Us apparent. These reasons suffice to show superabundantly by how many roads Modernism leads to atheism and to the annihilation of all religion. The error of Protestantism made the first step on this path; that of Modernism makes the second; atheism makes the next.

40. To penetrate still deeper into the meaning of Modernism and to find a suitable remedy for so deep a sore, it behooves Us, Venerable Brethren, to investigate the causes which have engendered it and which foster its growth. That the proximate and immediate cause consists in an error of the mind cannot be open to doubt. We recognize that the remote causes may be reduced to two: curiosity and pride. Curiosity by itself, if not prudently regulated, suffices to account for all errors. Such is the opinion of Our predecessor, Gregory XVI, who wrote: “A lamentable spectacle is that presented by the aberrations of human reason when it yields to the spirit of novelty, when against the warning of the Apostle it seeks to know beyond what it is meant to know, and when relying too much on itself it thinks it can find the truth outside the Catholic Church wherein truth is found without the slightest shadow of error.”21

But it is pride which exercises an incomparably greater sway over the soul to blind it and lead it into error, and pride sits in Modernism as in its own house, finding sustenance everywhere in its doctrines and lurking in its every aspect. It is pride which fills Modernists with that self-assurance by which they consider themselves and pose as the rule for all. It is pride which puffs them up with that vainglory which allows them to regard themselves as the sole possessors of knowledge, and makes them say, elated and inflated with presumption, “We are not as the rest of men,” and which, lest they should seem as other men, leads them to embrace and to devise novelties even of the most absurd kind. It is pride which rouses in them the spirit of disobedience and causes them to demand a compromise between authority and liberty. It is owing to their pride that they seek to be the reformers of others while they forget to reform themselves, and that they are found to be utterly wanting in respect for authority, even for the supreme authority. Truly there is no road which leads so directly and so quickly to Modernism as pride. When a Catholic layman or a priest forgets the precept of the Christian life which obliges us to renounce ourselves if we would follow Christ and neglects to tear pride from his heart, then it is he who most of all is a fully ripe subject for the errors of Modernism. For this reason, Venerable Brethren, it will be your first duty to resist such victims of pride, to employ them only in the lowest and obscurest offices. The higher they try to rise, the lower let them be placed, so that the lowliness of their position may limit their power of causing damage. Examine most carefully your young clerics by yourselves and by the directors of your seminaries, and when you find the spirit of pride among them reject them without compunction from the priesthood. Would to God that this had always been done with the vigilance and constancy which were required!

41. If we pass on from the moral to the intellectual causes of Modernism, the first and the chief which presents itself is ignorance. Yes, these very Modernists who seek to be esteemed as Doctors of the Church, who speak so loftily of modern philosophy and show such contempt for scholasticism, have embraced the one with all its false glamour, precisely because their ignorance of the other has left them without the means of being able to recognize confusion of thought and to refute sophistry. Their whole system, containing as it does errors so many and so great, has been born of the union between faith and false philosophy.

42. Would that they had but displayed less zeal and energy in propagating it! But such is their activity and such their unwearying labour on behalf of their cause, that one cannot but be pained to see them waste such energy in endeavouring to ruin the Church when they might have been of such service to her had their efforts been better directed. Their artifices to delude men’s minds are of two kinds, the first to remove obstacles from their path, the second to devise and apply actively and patiently every resource that can serve their purpose. They recognize that the three chief difficulties which stand in their way are the scholastic method of philosophy, the authority and tradition of the Fathers, and the magisterium of the Church, and on these they wage unrelenting war. Against scholastic philosophy and theology they use the weapons of ridicule and contempt. Whether it is ignorance or fear, or both, that inspires this conduct in them, certain it is that the passion for novelty is always united in them with hatred of scholasticism, and there is no surer sign that a man is tending to Modernism than when he begins to show his dislike for the scholastic method. Let the Modernists and their admirers remember the proposition condemned by Pius IX: “The method and principles which have served the ancient doctors of scholasticism when treating of theology no longer correspond with the exigencies of our time or the progress of science.”22 They exercise all their ingenuity in an effort to weaken the force and falsify the character of tradition, so as to rob it of all its weight and authority. But for Catholics nothing will remove the authority of the second Council of Nicea, where it condemns those “who dare, after the impious fashion of heretics, to deride the ecclesiastical traditions, to invent novelties of some kind…or endeavor by malice or craft to overthrow any one of the legitimate traditions of the Catholic Church”; nor that of the declaration of the fourth Council of Constantinople: “We therefore profess to preserve and guard the rules bequeathed to the Holy Catholic and Apostolic Church, by the Holy and most illustrious Apostles, by the orthodox Councils, both general and local, and by everyone of those divine interpreters, the Fathers and Doctors of the Church.” Wherefore the Roman Pontiffs, Pius IV and Pius IX, ordered the insertion in the profession of faith of the following declaration: “I most firmly admit and embrace the apostolic and ecclesiastical traditions and other observances and constitutions of the Church.”

The Modernists pass judgment on the holy Fathers of the Church even as they do upon tradition. With consummate temerity they assure the public that the Fathers, while personally most worthy of all veneration, were entirely ignorant of history and criticism, for which they are only excusable on account of the time in which they lived. Finally, the Modernists try in every way to diminish and weaken the authority of the ecclesiastical magisterium itself by sacrilegiously falsifying its origin, character, and rights, and by freely repeating the calumnies of its adversaries. To the entire band of Modernists may be applied those words which Our predecessor sorrowfully wrote: “To bring contempt and odium on the mystic Spouse of Christ, who is the true light, the children of darkness have been wont to cast in her face before the world a stupid calumny, and perverting the meaning and force of things and words, to depict her as the friend of darkness and ignorance, and the enemy of light, science, and progress.”23 This being so, Venerable Brethren, there is little reason to wonder that the Modernists vent all their bitterness and hatred on Catholics who zealously fight the battles of the Church. There is no species of insult which they do not heap upon them, but their usual course is to charge them with ignorance or obstinacy. When an adversary rises up against them with an erudition and force that renders them redoubtable, they seek to make a conspiracy of silence around him to nullify the effects of his attack. This policy towards Catholics is the more invidious in that they belaud with admiration which knows no bounds the writers who range themselves on their side, hailing their works, exuding novelty in every page, with a chorus of applause. For them the scholarship of a writer is in direct proportion to the recklessness of his attacks on antiquity, and of his efforts to undermine tradition and the ecclesiastical magisterium. When one of their number falls under the condemnations of the Church the rest of them, to the disgust of good Catholics, gather round him, loudly and publicly applaud him, and hold him up in veneration as almost a martyr for truth. The young, excited and confused by all this clamor of praise and abuse, some of them afraid of being branded as ignorant, others ambitious to rank among the learned, and both classes goaded internally by curiosity and pride, not infrequently surrender and give themselves up to Modernism.

43. And here we have already some of the artifices employed by Modernists to exploit their wares. What efforts do they not make to win new recruits! They seize upon professorships in the seminaries and universities, and gradually make of them chairs of pestilence. In sermons from the pulpit they disseminate their doctrines, although possibly in utterances which are veiled. In congresses they express their teachings more openly. In their social gatherings they introduce them and commend them to others. Under their own names and under pseudonyms they publish numbers of books, newspapers, reviews, and sometimes one and the same writer adopts a variety of pseudonyms to trap the incautious reader into believing in a multitude of Modernist writers. In short, with feverish activity they leave nothing untried in act, speech, and writing. And with what result? We have to deplore the spectacle of many young men, once full of promise and capable of rendering great services to the Church, now gone astray. It is also a subject of grief to Us that many others who, while they certainly do not go so far as the former, have yet been so infected by breathing a poisoned atmosphere, as to think, speak, and write with a degree of laxity which ill becomes a Catholic. They are to be found among the laity, and in the ranks of the clergy, and they are not wanting even in the last place where one might expect to meet them, in religious communities If they treat of biblical questions, it is upon Modernist principles; if they write history, they carefully, and with ill-concealed satisfaction, drag into the light, on the plea of telling the whole truth, everything that appears to cast a stain upon the Church. Under the sway of certain a priori conceptions they destroy as far as they can the pious traditions of the people, and bring into disrespect certain relics highly venerable from their antiquity. They are possessed by the empty desire of having their names upon the lips of the public, and they know they would never succeed in this were they to say only what has always been said by all men. Meanwhile it may be that they have persuaded themselves that in all this they are really serving God and the Church. In reality they only offend both, less perhaps by their works in themselves than by the spirit in which they write, and by the encouragement they thus give to the aims of the Modernists.

44. Against this host of grave errors, and its secret and open advance, Our predecessor Leo Xlll, of happy memory, worked strenuously, both in his words and his acts, especially as regards the study of the Bible. But, as we have seen, the Modernists are not easily deterred by such weapons. With an affectation of great submission and respect, they proceeded to twist the words of the Pontiff to their own sense, while they described his action as directed against others than themselves. Thus the evil has gone on increasing from day to day. We, therefore, Venerable Brethren, have decided to suffer no longer delay, and to adopt measures which are more efficacious. We exhort and conjure you to see to it that in this most grave matter no one shall be in a position to say that you have been in the slightest degree wanting in vigilance, zeal, or firmness. And what We ask of you and expect of you, We ask and expect also of all other pastors of souls, of all educators and professors of clerics, and in a very special way of the superiors of religious communities.

45. In the first place, with regard to studies, We will and strictly ordain that scholastic philosophy be made the basis of the sacred sciences. It goes without saying that “if anything is met with among the scholastic doctors which may be regarded as something investigated with an excess of subtlety, or taught without sufficient consideration; anything which is not in keeping with the certain results of later times; anything, in short, which is altogether destitute of probability, We have no desire whatever to propose it for the imitation of present generations.”24 And let it be clearly understood above all things that when We prescribe scholastic philosophy We understand chiefly that which the Angelic Doctor has bequeathed to us, and We, therefore, declare that all the ordinances of Our predecessor on this subject continue fully in force, and, as far as may be necessary, We do decree anew, and confirm, and order that they shall be strictly observed by all. In seminaries where they have been neglected it will be for the Bishops to exact and require their observance in the future; and let this apply also to the superiors of religious orders. Further, We admonish professors to bear well in mind that they cannot set aside St. Thomas, especially in metaphysical questions, without grave disadvantage.

46. On this philosophical foundation the theological edifice is to be carefully raised. Promote the study of theology, Venerable Brethren, by all means in your power, so that your clerics on leaving the seminaries may carry with them a deep admiration and love of it, and always find in it a source of delight. For “in the vast and varied abundance of studies opening before the mind desirous of truth, it is known to everyone that theology occupies such a commanding place, that according to an ancient adage of the wise it is the duty of the other arts and sciences to serve it, and to wait upon it after the manner of handmaidens.”25 We will add that We deem worthy of praise those who with full respect for tradition, the Fathers, and the ecclesiastical magisterium, endeavor, with well-balanced judgment, and guided by Catholic principles (which is not always the case), to illustrate positive theology by throwing upon it the light of true history. It is certainly necessary that positive theology should be held in greater appreciation than it has been in the past, but this must be done without detriment to scholastic theology; and those are to be disapproved as Modernists who exalt positive theology in such a way as to seem to despise the scholastic.

47. With regard to secular studies, let it suffice to recall here what our predecessor has admirably said: ”Apply yourselves energetically to the study of natural sciences: in which department the things that have been so brilliantly discovered, and so usefully applied, to the admiration of the present age, will be the object of praise and commendation to those who come after us.”26 But this is to be done without interfering with sacred studies, as Our same predecessor prescribed in these most weighty words: “If you carefully search for the cause of those errors you will find that it lies in the fact that in these days when the natural sciences absorb so much study, the more severe and lofty studies have been proportionately neglected — some of them have almost passed into oblivion, some of them are pursued in a half-hearted or superficial way, and, sad to say, now that the splendor of the former estate is dimmed, they have been disfigured by perverse doctrines and monstrous errors.”27 We ordain, therefore, that the study of natural sciences in the seminaries be carried out according to this law.

48. All these prescriptions, both Our own and those of Our predecessor, are to be kept in view whenever there is question of choosing directors and professors for seminaries and Catholic Universities. Anyone who in any way is found to be tainted with Modernism is to be excluded without compunction from these offices, whether of government or of teaching, and those who already occupy them are to be removed. The same policy is to be adopted towards those who openly or secretly lend countenance to Modernism either by extolling the Modernists and excusing their culpable conduct, or by carping at scholasticism, and the Fathers, and the magisterium of the Church, or by refusing obedience to ecclesiastical authority in any of its depositories; and towards those who show a love of novelty in history, archaeology, biblical exegesis; and finally towards those who neglect the sacred sciences or appear to prefer to them the secular. In all this question of studies, Venerable Brethren, you cannot be too watchful or too constant, but most of all in the choice of professors, for as a rule the students are modeled after the pattern of their masters. Strong in the consciousness of your duty, act always in this matter with prudence and with vigor.

49. Equal diligence and severity are to be used in examining and selecting candidates for Holy Orders. Far, far from the clergy be the love of novelty! God hateth the proud and the obstinate mind. For the future the doctorate of theology and canon law must never be conferred on anyone who has not first of all made the regular course of scholastic philosophy; if conferred, it shall be held as null and void. The rules laid down in 1896 by the Sacred Congregation of Bishops and Regulars for the clerics, both secular and regular, of Italy, concerning the frequenting of the Universities, We now decree to be extended to all nation.28 Clerics and priests inscribed in a Catholic Institute or University must not in the future follow in civil Universities those courses for which there are chairs in the Catholic Institutes to which they belong. If this has been permitted anywhere in the past, We ordain that it be not allowed for the future. Let the Bishops who form the Governing Board of such Catholic Institutes or Universities watch with all care that these Our commands be constantly observed.

50. It is also the duty of the Bishops to prevent writings of Modernists, or whatever savours of Modernism or promotes it, from being read when they have been published, and to hinder their publication when they have not. No books or papers or periodicals whatever of this kind are to be permitted to seminarists or university students. The injury to them would be not less than that which is caused by immoral reading — nay, it would be greater, for such writings poison Christian life at its very fount. The same decision is to be taken concerning the writings of some Catholics, who, though not evilly disposed themselves, are ill-instructed in theological studies and imbued with modern philosophy, and strive to make this harmonize with the faith, and, as they say, to turn it to the profit of the faith. The name and reputation of these authors cause them to read without suspicion, and they are, therefore, all the more dangerous in gradually preparing the way for Modernism.

51. To add some more general directions, Venerable Brethren, in a matter of such moment, We order that you do everything in your power to drive out of your dioceses, even by solemn interdict, any pernicious books that may be in circulation there. The Holy See neglects no means to remove writings of this kind, but their number has now grown to such an extent that it is hardly possible to subject them all to censure. Hence it happens sometimes that the remedy arrives too late, for the disease has taken root during the delay. We will, therefore, that the Bishops putting aside all fear and the prudence of the flesh, despising the clamor of evil men, shall, gently, by all means, but firmly, do each his own part in this work, remembering the injunctions of Leo XIII in the Apostolic Constitution Officiorum: “Let the Ordinaries, acting in this also as Delegates of the Apostolic See, exert themselves to proscribe and to put out of reach of the faithful injurious books or other writings printed or circulated in their dioceses.”29 In this passage the Bishops, it is true, receive an authorization, but they have also a charge laid upon them. Let no Bishop think that he fulfills his duty by denouncing to Us one or two books, while a great many others of the same kind are being published and circulated. Nor are you to be deterred by the fact that a book has obtained elsewhere the permission which is commonly called the Imprimatur, both because this may be merely simulated, and because it may have been granted through carelessness or too much indulgence or excessive trust placed in the author, which last has perhaps sometimes happened in the religious orders. Besides, just as the same food does not agree with everyone, it may happen that a book, harmless in one place, may, on account of the different circumstances, be hurtful in another. Should a Bishop, therefore, after having taken the advice of prudent persons, deem it right to condemn any of such books in his diocese, We give him ample faculty for the purpose and We lay upon him the obligation of doing so. Let all this be done in a fitting manner, and in certain cases it will suffice to restrict the prohibition to the clergy; but in all cases it will be obligatory on Catholic booksellers not to put on sale books condemned by the Bishop. And while We are treating of this subject, We wish the Bishops to see to it that booksellers do not, through desire for gain, engage in evil trade. It is certain that in the catalogs of some of them the books of the Modernists are not infrequently announced with no small praise. If they refuse obedience, let the Bishops, after due admonition, have no hesitation in depriving them of the title of Catholic booksellers. This applies, and with still more reason, to those who have the title of Episcopal booksellers. If they have that of Pontifical booksellers, let them be denounced to the Apostolic See. Finally, We remind all of Article XXVI of the above-mentioned Constitution Officiorum: “All those who have obtained an apostolic faculty to read and keep forbidden books, are not thereby authorized to read and keep books and periodicals forbidden by the local Ordinaries unless the apostolic faculty expressly concedes permission to read and keep books condemned by anyone whomsoever.”

52. It is not enough to hinder the reading and the sale of bad books — it is also necessary to prevent them from being published. Hence, let the Bishops use the utmost strictness in granting permission to print. Under the rules of the Constitution Officiorum, many publications require the authorization of the Ordinary, and in certain dioceses (since the Bishop cannot personally make himself acquainted with them all) it has been the custom to have a suitable number of official censors for the examination of writings. We have the highest esteem for this institution of censors, and We not only exhort, but We order that it be extended to all dioceses. In all episcopal Curias, therefore, let censors be appointed for the revision of works intended for publication, and let the censors be chosen from both ranks of the clergy — secular and regular — men whose age, knowledge, and prudence will enable them to follow the safe and golden means in their judgments. It shall be their office to examine everything which requires permission for publication according to Articles XLI and XLII of the above-mentioned Constitution. The censor shall give his verdict in writing. If it be favorable, the Bishop will give the permission for publication by the word Imprimatur, which must be preceded by the Nihil obstat and the name of the censor. In the Roman Curia official censors shall be appointed in the same way as elsewhere, and the duty of nominating them shall appertain to the Master of the Sacred Palace, after they have been proposed to the Cardinal Vicar and have been approved and accepted by the Sovereign Pontiff. It will also be the office of the Master of the Sacred Palace to select the censor for each writing. Permission for publication will be granted by him as well as by the Cardinal Vicar or his Vicegerent, and this permission, as above prescribed, must he preceded by the Nihil obstat and the name of the censor. Only on a very rare and exceptional occasion, and on the prudent decision of the Bishop, shall it be possible to omit mention of the censor. The name of the censor shall never be made known to the authors until he shall have given a favorable decision, so that he may not have to suffer inconvenience either while he is engaged in the examination of a writing or in case he should withhold his approval. Censors shall never be chosen from the religious orders until the opinion of the Provincial, or in Rome, of the General, has been privately obtained, and the Provincial or the General must give a conscientious account of the character, knowledge, and orthodoxy of the candidate. We admonish religious superiors of their most solemn duty never to allow anything to be published by any of their subjects without permission from themselves and from the Ordinary. Finally, We affirm and declare that the title of censor with which a person may be honored has no value whatever, and can never be adduced to give credit to the private opinions of him who holds it.

53. Having said this much in general, We now ordain in particular a more careful observance of Article XLII of the above-mentioned Constitution Officiorum, according to which “it is forbidden to secular priests, without the previous consent of the Ordinary, to undertake the editorship of papers or periodicals.” This permission shall be withdrawn from any priest who makes a wrong use of it after having received an admonition thereupon. With regard to priests who are correspondents or collaborators of periodicals, as it happens not infrequently that they contribute matter infected with Modernism to their papers or periodicals, let the Bishops see to it that they do not offend in this manner; and if they do, let them warn the offenders and prevent them from writing. We solemnly charge in like manner the superiors of religious orders that they fulfill the same duty, and should they fail in it, let the Bishops make due provision with authority from the Supreme Pontiff. Let there be, as far as this is possible, a special censor for newspapers and periodicals written by Catholics. It shall be his office to read in due time each number after it has been published, and if he find anything dangerous in it let him order that it be corrected as soon as possible. The Bishop shall have the same right even when the censor has seen nothing objectionable in a publication.

54. We have already mentioned congresses and public gatherings as among the means used by the Modernists to propagate and defend their opinions. In the future, Bishops shall not permit congresses of priests except on very rare occasions. When they do permit them it shall only be on condition that matters appertaining to the Bishops or the Apostolic See be not treated in them, and that no resolutions or petitions be allowed that would imply a usurpation of sacred authority, and that absolutely nothing be said in them which savours of Modernism, presbyterianism, or laicism. At congresses of this kind, which can only be held after permission in writing has been obtained in due time and for each case it shall not be lawful for priests of other dioceses to be present without the written permission of their Ordinary. Further, no priest must lose sight of the solemn recommendation of Leo XIII: “Let priests hold as sacred the authority of their pastors, let them take it for certain that the sacerdotal ministry, if not exercised under the guidance of the Bishops, can never be either holy, or very fruitful, or worthy of respect.”30

55. But of what avail, Venerable Brethren, will be all Our commands and prescriptions if they be not dutifully and firmly carried out? In order that this may be done it has seemed expedient to us to extend to all dioceses the regulations which the Bishops of Umbria, with great wisdom, laid down for theirs many years ago. “In order,” they say, ”to extirpate the errors already propagated and to prevent their further diffusion, and to remove those teachers of impiety through whom the pernicious effects of such diffusion are being perpetuated, this sacred Assembly, following the example of St. Charles Borromeo, has decided to establish in each of the dioceses a Council consisting of approved members of both branches of the clergy, which shall be charged with the task of noting the existence of errors and the devices by which new ones are introduced and propagated, and to inform the Bishop of the whole, so that he may take counsel with them as to the best means for suppressing the evil at the outset and preventing it spreading for the ruin of souls or, worse still, gaining strength and growth.”31 We decree, therefore, that in every diocese a council of this kind, which We are pleased to name the “Council of Vigilance,” be instituted without delay. The priests called to form part in it shall be chosen somewhat after the manner above prescribed for the censors, and they shall meet every two months on an appointed day in the presence of the Bishop. They shall be bound to secrecy as to their deliberations and decisions, and in their functions shall be included the following: they shall watch most carefully for every trace and sign of Modernism both in publications and in teaching, and to preserve the clergy and the young from it they shall take all prudent, prompt, and efficacious measures. Let them combat novelties of words, remembering the admonitions of Leo XIII: “It is impossible to approve in Catholic publications a style inspired by unsound novelty which seems to deride the piety of the faithful and dwells on the introduction of a new order of Christian life, on new directions of the Church, on new aspirations of the modern soul, on a new social vocation of the clergy, on a new Christian civilization, and many other things of the same kind.”32 Language of the kind here indicated is not to be tolerated either in books or in lectures. The Councils must not neglect the books treating of the pious traditions of different places or of sacred relics. Let them not permit such questions to be discussed in journals or periodicals destined to foster piety, either with expressions savoring of mockery or contempt, or by dogmatic pronouncements, especially when, as is often the case, what is stated as a certainty either does not pass the limits of probability or is based on prejudiced opinion. Concerning sacred relics, let this be the rule: if Bishops, who alone are judges in such matters, know for certain that a relic is not genuine, let them remove it at once from the veneration of the faithful; if the authentications of a relic happen to have been lost through civil disturbances, or in any other way, let it not be exposed for public veneration until the Bishop has verified it. The argument of prescription or well-founded presumption is to have weight only when devotion to a relic is commendable by reason of its antiquity, according to the sense of the Decree issued in 1896 by the Congregation of Indulgences and Sacred Relics: “Ancient relics are to retain the veneration they have always enjoyed except when in individual instances there are clear arguments that they are false or superstitious.” In passing judgment on pious traditions let it always be borne in mind that in this matter the Church uses the greatest prudence, and that she does not allow traditions of this kind to be narrated in books except with the utmost caution and with the insertion of the declaration imposed by Urban VIII; and even then she does not guarantee the truth of the fact narrated; she simply does not forbid belief in things for which human evidence is not wanting. On this matter the Sacred Congregation of Rites, thirty years ago, decreed as follows: “These apparitions or revelations have neither been approved nor condemned by the Holy See, which has simply allowed them to be believed on purely human faith, on the tradition which they relate, corroborated by testimony and documents worthy of credence.”33 Anyone who follows this rule has no cause to fear. For the devotion based on any apparition, in so far as it regards the fact itself, that is to say, in so far as the devotion is relative, always implies the condition of the fact being true; while in so far as it is absolute, it is always based on the truth, seeing that its object is the persons of the saints who are honored. The same is true of relics. Finally, We entrust to the Councils of Vigilance the duty of overlooking assiduously and diligently social institutions as well as writings on social questions so that they may harbor no trace of Modernism, but obey the prescriptions of the Roman Pontiffs.

56. Lest what We have laid down thus far should pass into oblivion, We will and ordain that the Bishops of all dioceses, a year after the publication of these letters and every three years thenceforward, furnish the Holy See with a diligent and sworn report on the things which have been decreed in this Our Letter, and on the doctrines that find currency among the clergy, and especially in the seminaries and other Catholic institutions, those not excepted which are not subject to the Ordinary, and We impose the like obligation on the Generals of religious orders with regard to those who are under them.

57. This, Venerable Brethren, is what We have thought it Our duty to write to you  The adversaries of the Church will doubtless abuse what We have said to refurbish the old calumny by which We are traduced as the enemy of science and of the progress of humanity. As a fresh answer to such accusations, which the history of the Christian religion refutes by never-failing evidence, it is Our intention to establish by every means in our power a special Institute in which, through the co-operation of those Catholics who are most eminent for their learning, the advance of science and every other department of knowledge may be promoted under the guidance and teaching of Catholic truth. God grant that We may happily realize Our design with the assistance of all those who bear a sincere love for the Church of Christ. But of this We propose to speak on another occasion.    Keys of Peter

Meanwhile, Venerable Brethren, fully confident in your zeal and energy, We beseech for you with Our whole heart the abundance of heavenly light, so that in the midst of this great danger to souls from the insidious invasions of error upon every hand, you may see clearly what ought to be done, and labour to do it with all your strength and courage. May Jesus Christ, the author and finisher of our faith, be with you in His power; and may the Immaculate Virgin, the destroyer of all heresies, be with you by her prayers and aid. And We, as a pledge of Our affection and of the Divine solace in adversity, most lovingly grant to you, your clergy and people, the Apostolic Benediction.

58. Given at St. Peter’s, Rome, September 8, 1907, in the fifth year of Our Pontificate. PIUS X, POPE   

Comments (124)

  • westminsterfly

    The fact that Pascendi is widely ignored can never make it irrelevant, in fact it is more relevant now than ever, precisely because we are living through the disaster in the Church which St Pius X envisaged if we didn’t heed his timely warning.

    I really believe that most priests and laity seem to be filled with this bizarre alien concept that everything prior to Vatican II can now be safely disregarded, and everything post-Vatican II is akin to a ‘second New Covenant’ in which all the ‘old’ is superceded.

    The article about the priest who read Pascendi and realised his errors was originally in Death of a Catholic Parish, by Michael McGrade, 1992, pp. 276-280, and was reprinted as “Return of a Prodigal Son” in Christian Order, May 1996. I’ve checked and it isn’t online, but I’ll see if I can get hold of a copy of the full article to post here later on.

    I wouldn’t want to misquote the Saintly Pontiff, but I’m sure I remember reading years ago that he said words to the effect that he knew Pascendi had driven the Modernists underground for a while, but it hadn’t finished them, and that they would be back. How right he was. Perhaps someone here would be able to confirm if it was St Pius X who said words to that effect.

    March 31, 2016 at 10:36 am
    • editor


      Thank you for promising to try to get the full CO article about the priest quoted in the 2002 editorial linked above.That would be really interesting.

      I have heard, often, the claim that Pius X knew that Modernism had only been forced underground, but I can’t say I recall any direct quote attributable to him. It would be interesting if we could locate one, but, in any case, it seems obvious that that is exactly what happened.

      Critics attack what they considered to be unjust “methods” sanctioned, if not ordered, by Pope Pius X – spies in parish congregations for instance. I can’t see it. We have “spies” (inspectors) in schools and colleges, even in hospitals these days, just to make sure professional standards and correct teaching and treatment are being met. How much more important when it is the Faith being handed on to people, not just poetry and arithmetic!

      March 31, 2016 at 11:02 am
  • Christina

    ‘Has Pascendi failed in its intended purpose to stamp out Modernism? Is it no longer relevant – dead in the water?’

    The Second Vatican Council, full, as it was, of Modernist periti, and its devastating aftermath through which we are all living seems to answer the question in the affirmative. Certainly Pope St. Pius X must have hoped and prayed that Pascendi would be obeyed by the bishops of the time, and for 50+ years it must have seemed that modernism had been rooted out. It was into a safe and thriving Catholic Church that I was baptised and in which I was nurtured. However, it continued to fester and grow quietly in the philosophers, theologians, etc., whose evil day came with the opening of Vat. II and their incorporation as periti. The following is a pertinent link:

    The 100 years reminds me of Pope Leo XIII’s vision, and Sister Emmerich’s visions where she speaks of the Devil’s being unchained about 50 to 60 years before the year 2000. No, Pascendi is not dead. I think that when this agony of the Church is over and the Devil chained once more, this magisterial encyclical will come into its own to inspire and rebuild the Church.

    March 31, 2016 at 10:59 am
    • editor


      Well said.

      Yours is exactly my own opinion – that when this crisis is over and the work of restoration begins, it is Pascendi that will form the basis of the rebuilding of the Church.

      March 31, 2016 at 11:07 am
  • gabriel syme

    The people who ignore Pascendi (the current hierarchy) are likely the largest part of the few who know it even exists, let along what it says.

    In some 34 years as a “modern catholic” (lapsed and active) I had never once heard of Papal encyclicals. I would not have been able to explain what they were, let alone name one and describe its contents. I could not name a single occasion where I heard one such document referenced from the pulpit – sorry, lectern.

    The first one I became aware of was Summorum Pontificum (2007) which came out around the time I started practicing Catholicism again – and I was only made aware of it due to the great animus it drew from certain Bishops, (not least the contemporary Archbishop of Glasgow), not because it was widely extolled (it wasnt) or because lay people were encouraged to read it (they werent).

    Since aligning with the SSPX I have of course become aware of Encyclicals and their great importance, Pascendi chief among them.

    But of course, I have to agree that at present Pacendi does seem a dead letter – in common with all other encyclicals. But It will remain and I agree it will help form the basis of restoration.

    Sadly some Bishops will not accept the wisdom of a Saint at face value, they require to experience the warned of consequences for themselves, before taking the warnings seriously.

    As well as the jiggery-pokery at Vatican II, the evil genius of modernists has been to simply stop talking about Papal teaching (encyclicals) such that now two or three generations of Catholics are completely unaware of it and how it is communicated, just as I was.

    Growing up as youngsters, we understood Pope John Paul II as some kind of travelling superstar figure, who would galavant around the world hosting large “feel good” outdoor masses and kissing the ground. We didnt realise that he was someone who issued documents to guide and inform the faith of Catholics worldwide.

    March 31, 2016 at 12:56 pm
    • editor

      Gabriel Syme,

      Just before reading your post, I had been remembering my days as a student teacher in Glasgow. I was trying to recall what had been said by our lecturers about Modernism, in response to WF’s question above about whether it was Pope St Pius X himself who had said that Modernism had only been pushed underground after Pascendi.

      I can only remember mockery of what I now know to be Pascendi. As you have noted, there was never any mention of the encyclical (or any other encyclical) by name, just that Pope Pius X tried to stamp out “dissent” – it was presented as the Pope being a bully and trying to stifle honest debate. As true Modernists themselves, of course, they didn’t accept the unchanging nature of dogma so it was natural for them to make fun of the Pope’s attempts to protect the Faith. I would expect that the same method was applied in seminaries, as far as possible.

      They had no conscience about failing to point us to the sources and allow us to make up our own minds. No prizes for guessing why!

      March 31, 2016 at 1:03 pm
      • Helen

        Heavens! Were those problems around in the 30’s?

        March 31, 2016 at 3:40 pm
      • editor


        Watch it! You must know I did my teacher training in the 40s!

        March 31, 2016 at 4:09 pm
      • gabriel syme

        Would that be the 1730s or the 1830s Helen?

        (Only kidding Editor! haha! 😉 )

        March 31, 2016 at 4:17 pm
  • damselofthefaith

    In the modern Church, of course Pascendi is dead. The reason? Well, who in their right mind is going to teach and spread something that they reject, that condemns them?

    The whole of the Catholic Religion condemns what they are doing because what they are doing is summed up in: pride and innovation.

    March 31, 2016 at 1:45 pm
  • editor

    In trying unsuccessfully to locate a particular cartoon for blogger Pat McKay, I came across this one and couldn’t resist…

    March 31, 2016 at 2:12 pm
  • Therese

    It is a stunningly precise and comprehensive description of what the Church has been suffering for the past several decades.

    March 31, 2016 at 2:29 pm
  • Therese

    If you follow this link you can read extracts from Death of a Catholic Parish, and you can purchase a copy of the full book.

    March 31, 2016 at 2:34 pm
  • Elizabeth

    I am ashamed to confess that I had never come across Pascendi before today and have now speed read it. I feel so sad that there is such a manifest gulf between the teaching of St Pius X and the sound bites of our present pontiff. There is just no comparison. I was particularly struck by the Saint’s insistence on sound Thomistic theology being the bedrock in seminaries and on the care that should be taken in the appointment of seminary rectors and professors. It is surely in our seminaries that the Modernists are now firmly entrenched. I read only recently that the Summa Theologica is now rarely taught in USA , I hope that is not case here? Somehow radical reform must begin with the selection and education of our future priests but given the modernist hierarchy we have in the UK it will take a huge seismic culture shift or miracle for that to happen.

    March 31, 2016 at 2:48 pm
    • Michaela


      There’s no way the modern seminaries will be using the Summa in any serious way. There was a blog thread on that here recently.

      About the re-education – it is a hopeful sign that Cardinal Ranjith said he would hand over his seminary to the SSPX as soon as they are regularised and I guess that will be the case in many places around the world. The cream of the clergy will cluster around them and IMHO that is one of the chief ways the restoration will be achieved.

      Pascendi is superb in its clarity and vision. You will be among the majority who didn’t know about it, but that’s not your fault.

      March 31, 2016 at 3:00 pm
    • editor


      It’s interesting that this is your first reading of Pascendi.

      Would you mind doing me a huge favour. Would you read through all the comments so far on this thread, and tell us if Father Arthur’s comments convince you that Pascendi is not infallible OR if the other bloggers have got it right.

      In essence, do you think from reading Pascendi and the majority of the bloggers here, that Pascendi is still – and always will – apply within the Church to stamp out dissent, or is Fr Arthur right in the views he is expressing?

      April 1, 2016 at 6:13 pm
      • Margaret Mary


        It’s not my very first reading of Pascendi, but on reading it over again and then reading all the comments here, I have to say that the bloggers who are correcting Fr Arthur win, hands down. Anyone who thinks dogma evolves is obviously wrong. That just can’t be. So, I have found this whole thread really useful and some statements have really helped me, especially the ones showing that it is the Pope’s “command” language when defending teachings always believed, that are helpful to me in recognising real modernism when I come across it.

        I compared the ending of Pascendi with the ending of Laudato si – this is Laudato si’

        245. God, who calls us to generous commitment and to give him our all, offers us the light and the strength needed to continue on our way. In the heart of this world, the Lord of life, who loves us so much, is always present. He does not abandon us, he does not leave us alone, for he has united himself definitively to our earth, and his love constantly impels us to find new ways forward. Praise be to him!

        Then there’s a prayer that could be in the Green Party manifesto! LOL!

        Pascendi ends:

        Meanwhile, Venerable Brethren, fully confident in your zeal and energy, We beseech for you with Our whole heart the abundance of heavenly light, so that in the midst of this great danger to souls from the insidious invasions of error upon every hand, you may see clearly what ought to be done, and labour to do it with all your strength and courage. May Jesus Christ, the author and finisher of our faith, be with you in His power; and may the Immaculate Virgin, the destroyer of all heresies, be with you by her prayers and aid. And We, as a pledge of Our affection and of the Divine solace in adversity, most lovingly grant to you, your clergy and people, the Apostolic Benediction.

        58. Given at St. Peter’s, Rome, September 8, 1907, in the fifth year of Our Pontificate. PIUS X, POPE

        So, I don’t know what Elizabeth thinks, but for me, it’s obvious Pascendi is infallible and that’s why the modernists didn’t mark it’s 100th anniversary.

        April 1, 2016 at 7:11 pm
      • Elizabeth

        Editor, I have always understood that the Pope is infallible when he is proclaiming to all the faithful any teaching pertaining to faith or morals to be held by the whole Church.
        The teaching in Pascendi is not new teaching but an emphatic reiteration of dogma that the Church has always held and taught.
        The bloggers here repeatedly say that Pope St Pius X was firmly defining truths and as such the encyclical is infallible. By its very tone and content it is laid down as teaching to be observed in perpetuity by the whole Church. It is without doubt issued with Papal authority.
        Fr Arthur says that an encyclical is not necessarily infallible. He is quite right. But this particular encyclical speaks with the voice of firm authority. He then meanders off about to talk about evangelism of the word which did not seem terribly relevant to the argument. Fr A then tries to argue by referring to a recent encyclical from Pope Francis which made no claim to be infallible. Is he then saying that because one encyclical is not to be seen as infallible than none can be. As you, Athanasius, and Petrus repeatedly point out the infallibility is demonstrated by the content and the clear authority with which the content is expressed.
        So to answer your query, the arguments for infallibility from the bloggers is convincing. Fr Arthur’s contributions are muddled and unconvincing.

        If I might add one point: the only section of the encyclical that worried me a bit was the part about the censorship of books. To ban books and forbid people, seminarians in particular, from reading books written by people on the Index, concerns me as the banning or destruction of books has always been one of the hallmarks of totalitarian regimes. Clearly in this case the motive is to protect from error but in this age is it perhaps better to expose and explain the errors in proscribed literature rather than suppress them? Where does infallibility come in here?

        The Pope also requires that every three years reports be given to him about dioceses and seminaries. Has that requirement been abandoned? And by whose authority? Would that requirement written within an infallible encyclical not be binding?

        April 1, 2016 at 8:10 pm
      • editor


        Infallibility applies only to the teachings of the Church. The two things which “worried” you – censorship of books and three yearly reports on dioceses and seminaries – are matters of discipline.

        While I fully understand your concerns about censorship of books, because we are imbibed with the notion that censorship per se is bad, I think a more objective consideration would perhaps lead you to a different conclusion.

        I’m thinking of the home-educating parents I know who scrutinise, very closely, not only the books, films etc that are recommended by their home-schooling programme but anything which their children/teenagers wish to read for leisure or watch on film for leisure. This is obviously due to the fact that when young people are being formed, they must be formed via sound materials and reliable information.

        When, for example, I saw the history books used in secondary schools in England (and I presume Scotland) I was absolutely appalled at the downright falsehoods – on every single page – about the Catholic Church in the series, if I remember correctly, Changing Minds.

        The pupils coming out of that course in history could not but help having a negative view of the Church. THOSE books would have been burned by me, were I a Head of Department taking up appointment in that school. Having lied throughout the entire glossy book about the Church, the very last section was headed “So why did people in the Middle Ages stay in the Church?” And the answer was that the priests terrified them with accounts of the Hell-fire and torments awaiting them if they left. I’d been asked to help out with some history classes in the absence of one of the history teachers and said I would certainly help out but would not, in a million years, use that textbook.

        Just imagine now, with the restoration in place, and priests and teachers being properly formed, yet they were able to walk into the Pauline Bookshop in Glasgow and buy any number of books containing heresy. Setback, with bells on, for said restoration. Just as a parent has a clear duty to protect offspring from reading dangerous books, in all sorts of spheres, so that they are not imbibing ignorance and prejudice, so the Church has the duty to protect us all from imbibing false teaching which might take us on the road to perdition. Love that word. Must use it more often 😀

        The Bishop has a duty (currently suspended it seems) to make sure that there is no reading material available to his people which would poison their faith. We need to keep reminding ourselves that we are talking, not about some false religion made by man, but about the one, true religion revealed by God. It cannot possibly be right to allow God’s divinely revealed religion to be contradicted, questioned and insulted, all in the name of being “open-minded” We were always taught at school that it was a serious sin to entertain doubts about what God has revealed. Having a passing “doubt” cannot be helped but to indulge that doubt, to read about it and try to use it to question the Faith, is a serious sin. It is a serious sin against Faith – there IS no “faith” if we require empirical evidence for every doctrine. To seriously doubt, is, in fact, to effectively call God a “liar”. We are obliged, under pain of sin, to believe all that God has revealed. And, incidentally, that is the key reason why it is so crucially important that no Pope, no bishop or priest, takes it upon himself to add “new” stuff to the deposit of Faith. Pascendi, is, to this end, a pearl of great price. Pascendi: Pearl of Great Price – that should have been the title of this blog thread. What am I LIKE!

        Yes, in a discussion, such as blogging or verbal conversation, it is better not to stifle free speech, so that we can correct the Modernist errors, but to permit dangerous books to be made available makes someone culpable of misleading souls and the Church has determined that that “someone” is the local Bishop. Canon Law puts him squarely in charge of ensuring safe and solid literature only is published and disseminated in his diocese. Incidentally, I am very pleased that your own objective study of this thread has led you to see the truth of Pascendi and the errors of Modernism; another reader, to whom I spoke on the phone earlier this evening, said that the priest blogger has helped her immensely – she said he is invaluable in providing us with examples of the very errors we so often discuss and she has – like yourself – benefited immensely from reading the refutations of our seasoned bloggers. I suppose it’s a bit like having a resident Devil’s Advocate – very useful to focus our minds on the precise errors of Modernism while affording us the opportunity to provide authentically Catholic answers to them.

        As for the other matter, of the three-yearly reports – I think the Pope had to make some practical provision to be able to check that his efforts to stamp out the evil of Modernism was being supported and enacted in the Church around the world.

        Pope Benedict, remember, asked that the Bishops send him a report on the number of priests who were offering the traditional Latin Mass, I think it was 3 years after the publication of Summorum Pontificum, but we never heard any more about it. I remember doing a cartoon in the newsletter, with a cartoon figure holding a piece of blank paper, to show how the report of the Scottish Bishops would probably look! Well, today there would be a few numbers on there, although none on Sundays yet.

        Anyway, not sure if my ramblings have clarified anything for you but I am only half-awake: I was battling with my email until after 2.a.m this morning trying to get the April edition off to the email list and ended up having to re-do the entire list. I have typed the above through drooping eyelids, therefore, so forgive me if I’m as clear as mud on this occasion!

        April 1, 2016 at 10:54 pm
      • Fr Arthur

        How can you argue the document is infallible and then quibble one of its central acts: the banning of books? So you can choose which paragraphs are infallible for yourself?

        April 2, 2016 at 6:08 am
      • editor

        Fr Arthur,

        Who’s “quibbling”?

        In fact, you give me the golden opportunity to clarify the fact that, as so often is true, doctrine and discipline are so closely intertwined that they cannot be separated. In fact, Canon Law enshrines the duty on Bishops to “censor” literature published and disseminated in their dioceses precisely because the two things cannot really be separated. That is because, as I’ve already explained, we cannot insult God by promoting books that seek to cast doubt on divine revelation. Seems very obvious to moi. Sorry if my answer to Elizabeth above didn’t make that clear.

        Of course, nobody would claim that the fasting laws of the Church are “infallible” since they are disciplinary in nature and subject to change. However, the FACT of the importance of fasting in relation to reception of the Eucharist, is something we cannot dismiss.

        Does that help you to see the crucial distinction – when applicable – in relation to the gift of infallibility?

        April 2, 2016 at 8:19 am
      • Fr Arthur


        Elizabeth said the document was infallible, and then said she didn’t agree with The Index of Books. The Index was based on the notion that “Modernism” was rife, and needed to be halted. Odd for an adherent of the notion the document is infallible to deny the supposed remedy to a supposed problem.

        Canon Law also requires that those present themselves as a Catholic source have ecclesial approval.

        For The Sacraments to be properly celebrated the Liturgy/Rite has to be valid and licit. What a conundrum for some to face!

        April 2, 2016 at 6:19 pm
      • Athanasius

        Fr. Arthur

        “For The Sacraments to be properly celebrated the Liturgy/Rite has to be valid and licit. What a conundrum for some to face!”

        How absolutely right you are on this occasion. We are all conversant on this blog with the numerous sacreligious Masses that have taken place since the Novus Ordo was introduced. I remember well the clown masses, the juice and cookie kids Masses, the balloon Mass of Cardinal Schonborn and the Mass of an Archbishop in the U.S., whose name escapes me, giving Holy Communion to two transvestites who presented themselves before him dressed as nuns.. There are hundreds of such scandalous examples of liturgical/Sacramental abuses like this on YouTube. Shocking and appalling blasphemies.

        April 2, 2016 at 6:43 pm
      • Fr Arthur

        I am glad you agree that loyal Traditional Catholics would attend the celebration of The Sacraments recognised by “The Authorities”, as Bishop Fellay might say, as valid and licit presided over by clergy in a regular canonical situation.

        April 2, 2016 at 6:47 pm
      • editor

        Fr Arthur,

        Again, you are trying to mislead readers – Athanasius did NOT say “would attend….” You clearly have no problem with telling porky pies.

        And yet again, swallowing camels galore. Cardinal Kasper is in “a regular canonical situation” and I would no more attend one of HIS Masses than I would attend Friday prayers in the local mosque.

        Now, I’m going offline for a bit so if you post any more comments, take care not to try to misquote or mislead because I will have no qualms in highlighting your dishonesty – and, may the Lord forgive me – thoroughly enjoy myself in the process.

        April 2, 2016 at 7:28 pm
      • Fr Arthur

        I haven’t misquoted or misled anyone.

        I have not witnessed a liturgy celebrated by Cardinal Kasper. However, I know that opinions of Bishops are not infallible and that would include a Cardinal, a former Archbishop once based in Econe, and a Bishop illicitly ordained, or even a Diocesan Auxiliary Bishop elevated to almost sainthood by some “Traditionalists”.. Therefore we can discount personal opinions but not truths taught Universally by those in Full Communion with The Church.

        April 2, 2016 at 7:34 pm
      • Athanasius

        Fr. Arthur

        “Loyal Catholics” are those who adhere to the deposit of faith handed down, the faith of the saints and martyrs.

        The above examples I cited of liturgical and Sacramental abusers are of Churchmen considered to be in your eyes and the eyes of all other Modernists “in full communion with Rome.” That alone should demonstrate to all just how corrupt Rome has become when the loyal Traditional Catholics are exiled and the blasphemers embraced. Fortunately, when it comes to Faith, there is a higher authority than the Pope in the order of obedience, precisely to protect the faithful from partisan Popes who misuse their authority to the great detriment of the Church.

        That former Econe Archbishop you speak of, Archbishop Lefebvre, to give him his proper name, said of the present clerical crisis that, for him, the dread of all dreads was to find himself one day before his judge, who asks: “And what did you do with your priesthood?”, which the Lord Himself then answers, saying: “you helped destroy the Church along with the rest of them.”

        That was what motivated Archbishop Lefebvre to adhere strictly to the deposit of Faith handed down. There is safety in antiquity but great danger in innovation, as we all now so tragically witness. Tradition is excommunicated, Modernism is rewarded.

        April 2, 2016 at 8:12 pm
      • Fr Arthur

        That would be those in Full Communion with The Pope then, who worship at liturgies recognised by “The Authorities”, as described by Bishop Fellay, as licit and valid.

        April 2, 2016 at 8:15 pm
      • Athanasius

        Fr. Arthur

        Licit and valid, yes, but under the condition that correct matter, form and intention are present on the part of the celebrating priest, which, as I have demonstrated, is regularly in question due to the innovative nature of the new Lutheran-influenced vernacular liturgy.

        With the ancient Latin liturgy of the saints and martyrs, there is no such fear of invalidity or sacrilege and a much greater emphasis on the Sacrifice of Calvary. That’s why the Portestants hate it so much, yet have expressed their satisfaction with the New Mass.

        April 2, 2016 at 8:42 pm
      • editor

        Fr Arthur,

        Are you on something? I want some of that…

        I mean, who needs to “witness” a liturgy by Cardinal Kasper to know that anyone concerned to attend only valid Masses would avoid his like the plague?

        He has made clear that he doesn’t see objective unrepented mortal sin as being any bar to Holy Communion ergo it is perfectly natural for any intelligent person to question his belief in the Real Presence etc etc, blah blah. Do I really need to spell it out?

        April 2, 2016 at 10:23 pm
      • Fr Arthur

        I replied that the personal opinion of a particular Cardinal or Bishop has no relevance to a discussion on infallibility or the official Teaching of The Church. That applies whether it is Cardinal Burke, or Archbishop Lefebvre or Bishop Fellay.

        Editor: Cardinal Burke? Archbishop Lefebvre? Bishop Fellay? Their personal opinions are not under discussion. If you are referring to Cardinal Kasper because I mentioned his Masses (to be avoided like the plague in MY humble opinion) then reflect on the fact that Pope Francis has made it crystal clear that Cardinal Kasper is not expressing his own personal opinion when he speaks about permitting the divorced and “remarried” to receive Holy Communion, but the Pope’s personal opinion on that subject, as well. That, tragically, will become all too clear on April 8th, but let’s not get into that yet. Let’s wait until 8th April when I sincerely hope I’m proved wrong and that the Pope does not seek to force their personal opinions on the whole Church, in this crucially important matter.

        April 3, 2016 at 5:41 am
      • editor

        Fr Arthur,

        The “full communion” thing is treated here… from The Remnant Newspaper – enjoy…

        Well at least he seemed to be in full communion with Rome

        Written by Michael Matt | Editor

        Erwin Mena, 59, celebrated masses, funerals, marriages and heard confessions around California since first posing as a priest in the mid-1990s

        This just in from the Daily Mail: “A fraudster who posed as a priest for decades has been arrested on suspicion of selling fake tickets for the visit of Pope Francis. Erwin Mena, 59, celebrated masses, funerals, marriages and heard confessions around California since first posing as a priest in the mid-1990s.

        “For the best part of two decades, Mena appeared at parishes or prayer groups in Los Angeles, San Bernardino, Stockton, Fresno and Orange counties… He showed up at St. Mary parish in Fontana more than five years ago and celebrated mass on a few occasions, a spokesman for the Diocese of San Bernardino said.”


        You don’t say! I wonder what would happen if a SSPX priest in cassock were to turn up at St. Mary parish in Fontana and announce that he’d be saying the Mass and hearing a few confessions this afternoon. No problem, right? Yeah, right!

        I guess this nutter appeared to be in full communion with Rome — so whatever.

        Not a lot of oversight going on in the Novus Ordo these days. So long as you’re not a traditionalist you can pretty much do whatever the heck you want. END.

        And so say all of us!

        April 2, 2016 at 10:32 pm
      • Fr Arthur

        The Full Communion Question can only be answered by those Bishop Fellay terms “The Authorities”. The Remnant is not one of their publications and the example is nonsense and belongs in the same basket as, so called, “Clown Masses”.

        Editor: in other words, you can’t explain the inconsistency of heretics being in “full communion” while those SSPX priests and bishops who have merely clung, as the Church Fathers instructed, to the traditional apostolic Faith, are in an irregular situation. I think you’re wise to avoid trying to square that circle. Very sensible.

        April 3, 2016 at 5:43 am
      • editor

        Fr Arthur,

        About “licit and valid” – The Vatican, when asked by a South American bishop to say in what way the new Mass could be described as “licit”, limited itself to saying that only in the sense that it is permitted by ecclesiastical authority at this time. Refused to affirm that it is licit because it is “wholly orthodox and pleasing to God”.

        So, as long as you don’t mind risking offending God, go ahead and “celebrate” your brand new (and getting newer by the nano-second) Mass.

        April 2, 2016 at 10:47 pm
      • Fr Arthur

        I would suggest you read every document, and don’t “quote out of context. Why not start with Summorum Pontificum and the accompanying letter?

        Editor: read it many times. Unsatisfactory. I know from my contacts in Rome that the publication of SP was delayed because the Pope tried to keep it under wraps until the last minute and then all hell broke out. It was clear that there were compromises having to be thrashed out, and my own pet theory about the daft term “Extraordinary Form” given to the Mass that the martyrs gave their lives to defend, is that it was one of the compromises. Just my own pet theory although the letter is no “theory” as it had to be rushed out to appease the “liberals” – so don’t lecture me about SP and that ridiculous letter. Pope Benedict, as anyone with half a brain knows (and there’s plenty of those around today in “liberal” circles) abdicated because, contrary to his determination on assuming office when he asked us to “pray that I do not flee for fear of the wolves”, did exactly that at the end. He fled for fear of the wolves – he allowed the wolves to drive him out. And look at the result. One of the “wolves” – i.e. alleged liberals – is now running the show.

        April 3, 2016 at 5:45 am
      • Fr Arthur

        The validity and licitness, if there is such a word, of The New Rites cannot be doubted. The authority for there use, from whichever Pope was in Office at the time, is clearly printed in the front of every liturgical book. Summorum Pontificum, one of the most recent commenataries/expositions of this question says: ”
        Art 1. The Roman Missal promulgated by Paul VI is the ordinary expression of the ‘Lex orandi’ (Law of prayer) of the Catholic Church of the Latin rite. Nonetheless, the Roman Missal promulgated by St. Pius V and reissued by Bl. John XXIII is to be considered as an extraordinary expression of that same ‘Lex orandi,’ and must be given due honour for its venerable and ancient usage. These two expressions of the Church’s Lex orandi will in no any way lead to a division in the Church’s ‘Lex credendi’ (Law of belief). They are, in fact two usages of the one Roman rite.

        Editor: we all know that there is a desperate push to make the new Mass appear legitimate. It’s not legitimate in the eyes of God. End of. Read the words of its architects, Archbishop Bugnini for one, to see that they expressly set about removing all Catholicity from the Mass. How can that be pleasing to God, no matter what any Pope or liturgical terrorist expert prints on the front, centre or back of liturgical books. But this is laughable: “These two expressions of the Church’s Lex orandi will in no way lead to a division in the Church’s ‘Lex credendi’ (Law of belief). They are, in fact two usages of the one Roman rite.” – “will in no way lead to a division in the Church’s law of belief…” Hilarious! We’ve got a HUGE division in belief as a result. It’s almost impossible to find two Catholics in the same parish who believe the same thing about anything, the Mass included. Gerragrip.

        As for “two expressions of the one Roman rite”. Gerranothergrip! Here is an example of one of Cardinal Schonborn’s Masses (He’s one of those who will be revealing the Papal Exhortation next week, 8th April.)


        And here’s an example of the Traditional Latin Mass (now labelled “Extraordinary” – no wonder, really, when you compare it to the (literally) balloons in the new Mass above)


        View both of the above videos and then restate your belief that those two Masses are the same rite. Let me tell you this; on each and every occasion that I’ve met a newcomer at our chapel or at one of the other traditional Latin Masses in the city, I have asked them if they accept this idea that the two Masses are the same, just different “forms”. In every single case, the reply has been to the effect “absolutely not” – everyone can see that they are two entirely different ceremonies. I asked one young man who attended my mother’s funeral. He expressed amazement, having been lapsed for years and expecting the new sing-a-long Mass, and said “no way” was this the same Mass. “Completely different”. So, again, please don’t insult our intelligence. We’re not daft. We know an apple from and orange and we know a bunch of bananas when we see them coming out of a novus ordo Mass and claiming it’s the same (or better!) than the old rite.

        It is, therefore, permissible to celebrate the Sacrifice of the Mass following the typical edition of the Roman Missal promulgated by Bl. John XXIII in 1962″

        Editor: if you say so. Cardinals Ottaviani & Bacci must have been wide of the mark then when they wrote to Pope Paul VI to say that the new Mass “departs in whole and in part from Catholic theology of the Mass.”

        However, solely for The Year of Mercy, confessions celebrated by members of The SSPX Pope Francis has said: “A final consideration concerns those faithful who for various reasons choose to attend churches officiated by priests of the Fraternity of St Pius X. This Jubilee Year of Mercy excludes no one. From various quarters, several Brother Bishops have told me of their good faith and sacramental practice, combined however with an uneasy situation from the pastoral standpoint. I trust that in the near future solutions may be found to recover full communion with the priests and superiors of the Fraternity. In the meantime, motivated by the need to respond to the good of these faithful, through my own disposition, I establish that those who during the Holy Year of Mercy approach these priests of the Fraternity of St Pius X to celebrate the Sacrament of Reconciliation shall validly and licitly receive the absolution of their sins.”

        Editor: So it’s OK to attend for SSPX confessions for one year, but not before and not afterwards. Sheer undiluted nonsense. Is the same permission granted to attend Anglican confessions or any other schismatic outfit? ‘Course not.

        Rome is clear. (Ed: as mud)

        May I remind readers a video was published by you about a Shrine, claimed by one former Ambassador to the Holy See, to have been approved by Cardinal Ratzinger? The apparitions began when the Nun opened The Tabernacle, and according to you affirms Fatima?

        Editor: now, this is where your dishonesty is most evident, when you get into the “casting up” of mistakes made by me (or anyone else) which have already been highlighted, corrected, explained, and for which I have issued an apology – anyone can search for the Akita thread and read my apology there. I was, at the time, grateful to have read the blog post from Athanasius, highlighting concerns, because it was due to the fact that Cardinal Ratzinger had approved the Akita apparitions, that I didn’t take the time to view the video, presuming that there would be nothing untoward in it. In fact, I had intended to post something in the April newsletter to alert readers to information in that video that seems to throw a question mark over Akita. It slipped my mind, due to lack of space, but I will do so, hopefully in the June newsletter. Clearly, Cardinal Ratzinger was lax in his readiness to approve that alleged apparition, but I repeat my apology for not viewing the film before posting it, as the last thing we want to do is post anything from any dodgy shrine. Usually, certainly in the past, no apparition would be approved as “worthy of belief” were it to contain glaring causes for concern/question marks. Times surely have changed!

        Quoting one Bishop, or “unofficial” source, for dubious claims is, well, dubious, and full of pitfalls.

        Editor: I don’t know what you mean by “one Bishop” or “unofficial” source – if you refer to the Bishop who sent the dubia to Rome about the legitimacy of the Mass – he is named, and I have published the full text of his letter and Rome’s reply several times on this blog and in the newsletter. If you think I’m going to dance attendance on you by searching it out again, think again. Google and you will find it eventually.

        April 3, 2016 at 6:15 am
      • Athanasius

        Fr. Arthur

        On the subject of communion with heretics, what do you make of Pope Leo XIII’s Infallible encyclical Apostolicae Curae in light of the dalliance of the post-conciliar popes and other Churchmen with Anglicanism?

        Why, for example, would popes and other Catholics refer to Justin Welby as “Archbishop Welby” or “The Archbishop of Canterbury” when Leo made it clear for all time that Anglican Orders are null and void?

        And even more to the point. Why would Popes and other Churchmen jointly pray with such non-clergy in the places of worship, thereby giving the lie to Leo and the Church that they are legitimate clerics?

        I’ll take it you’ll avoid these questions and move on. You really have no choice, do you?

        April 3, 2016 at 7:05 pm
      • Athanasius

        Fr. Arthur

        Of course in the case of the SSPX, “the authorities” have shown themselves to be at times unjust and inconsistent, thereby forcing an invocation of Canon Law by Traditional Catholics as God permits and duty demands.

        I speak of the seminary in Econe having its canonical recognition withdrawn in the 1970s without explanation or recourse to appeal, and on the basis of hateful Modernists whose only concern was to shut down Tradition at that time.

        These same wicked men while attempting to shut down Traditional seminaries by abuse of power and justice, were at the same time cavorting with every heretical religion in the world against the Magisterial teaching of the Church, permitting all manner of liturgical outrages everywhere and spreading the illicit and Protestant practice of Communion in the hand, which resulted and continues to result in countless sacrileges against the Blessed Sacrament all over the world, not to mention the widespread indifference that particular abuse has facilitated against Our Lord’s Real Presence.

        You seem to forget that many, if not most, of us started off life as Novus Ordo Catholics in parishes until new religion became so grotesque and offensive that we could no longer abide the hypocrisy, irreverence and emptiness of it all. I don’t know if you were around in the 1970s and 80s, but it was at its worst then, a rebellion and hatred against Sacred Tradition in every diocese that cannot be described as anything short of diabolical.

        Thank God for Archbishop Lefebvre and his SSPX when we needed them for religious sanity, because the modern popes failed then and are failing now to demonstrate holiness and firmness in upholding what has been entrusted to their safekeeping. Rather, they have thought themselves masters of the sacred deposit of faith, at liberty to alter what pleases the bent of their minds. I give you the most recent example of Pope Francis washing the feet of non-Catholics, non-Christians and women at the Maundy Thursday Mandatum.

        Other examples are Pope John Paul II kissing the Koran, wherein the Blessed Trinity is horribly blasphemed and the divinity of Christ Our Lord denied. And then there is the same Pope’s infamous syncretist gatherings in Assisi, where Buddhists worshipped an image of their false deity atop a tabernacle while other pagans ritually slaughtered chickens in sacrifice on a Catholic altar.

        So please, don’t try to pull the old chestnut of full communion on us. Full communion is as essential for popes as for all other Catholics. Popes do not have a dispensation to do whatever they like and still remain in full communion. They are fallen men, not deities.

        Now my question to you is: Have these popes remained in full communion with the Church while offending so greviously against the Faith handed down?

        April 3, 2016 at 7:28 pm
      • Athanasius

        How any Catholic can view that Schonborn fiasco and claim legitimacy as the Roman Rite of Mass for it is beyond me. No one with the faith could ever defend that sacrilege as a valid and licit Mass, much less equate it with the venerable Latin Mass of the saints and martyrs. I fear Lucifer and his demons are laughing their ugly heads off right now!

        Imagine a pope surrounding himself with the likes of Kasper and Schonborn. What does that tell us about the Pope’s beliefs and discernment? It’s too horrible to contemplate.

        April 3, 2016 at 7:59 pm
      • Fr Arthur

        And Bishop Williamson handpicked by The Archbishop and ordained by him is an example of a good bedmate?

        Editor: and Judas Iscariot handpicked by Christ etc…. Finish the sentence to see the complete lack of logic in your unthinking nonsense, which really does stand out for all the world to see.

        April 3, 2016 at 8:29 pm
      • Fr Arthur


        You wrote: “Editor: and Judas Iscariot handpicked by Christ etc…. Finish the sentence to see the complete lack of logic in your unthinking nonsense, which really does stand out for all the world to see.

        I used the example of Bishop Williamson as he is an example of only four people chosen by one man whose wisdom, and knowledge, is deemed to be greater than that of The Church Universal, The Pope, and the members of The College of Bishops.

        Jesus has chosen a lot of failures and redeemed them. As Saint Paul says what proves that God loves us is that Jesus died for us whilst we are still sinners.

        Is Judas the only one who failed/denied Jesus. I think Tradition say all but one Apostle deserted Jesus. I do not believe that same Traditon says that St John never got anything wrong.

        The Archbishop made a deeply personal choice, and unlike Jesus he hasn’t redeemed anyone.

        I you quote “sources” in Rome abour SM. I guess they are the same ones who didn’t tell you Benedict was going to resign.

        April 3, 2016 at 8:57 pm
      • Athanasius

        Fr. Arthur

        “I used the example of Bishop Williamson as he is an example of only four people chosen by one man whose wisdom, and knowledge, is deemed to be greater than that of The Church Universal, The Pope, and the members of The College of Bishops.”

        Wrong! The Church universal is the Church of all time, not just a pope and his bishops of a particular time. When these latter contradict all the former, then all Catholics worthy of the name have a duty to object, as St. Paul did with St. Peter and as Sts. Robert Bellarmine, Thomas Aquinas, Augustine and others have said we should respectfully imitate should the faith be placed in danger.

        You have a very gravely mistaken idea of what the Church universal is, I’m afraid. Now why does that not surprise me?

        “I think Tradition say all but one Apostle deserted Jesus.”

        Indeed, you are right. And the one who stayed with Him to the end, the disciple “whom Jesus loved” and gave to His Blessed Mother, is the one recorded in history as having remained celibate all his life. Let that be a lesson to all the advocates of a married clergy. Thatnk you for allowing me the opportunity to point this truth out once more.

        “The Archbishop made a deeply personal choice, and unlike Jesus he hasn’t redeemed anyone.”

        On the contrary, Archbishop Lefbevre redeemed priestly formation and saved the Mass of the saints and martyrs, which, had it not been for his blessed fidelity to Our Lord and the Church, would not be flourishing anew today.

        April 3, 2016 at 9:44 pm
      • editor

        Fr Arthur,

        I really cannot improve on Athanasius’ reply to you above so won’t try, except to say that, of course, if Our Lord, God the Son, would choose the treacherous Iscariot for one of his first priests, it shouldn’t be shock horror if Archbishop Lefebvre chose a bad apple as well. You do seem to have a problem with simple concepts.

        Hilarious swipe at the end! Even the cardinals listening to Pope Benedict’s abdication speech knew nothing about it – only a journalist picked it up and raced out to report it.

        You really do not think before you write, do you?

        But listen, don’t you worry about any contacts I may have in Rome. Worry instead about those I may have in England who may think they may well know your real ID 😀

        I shouldn’t tease you, I really shouldn’t, but I’m really enjoying their speculations. Who needs to watch Hercule Poirot these days?

        April 3, 2016 at 10:14 pm
      • Christina

        Father Arthur, I would be very interested to hear your opinion of the Cardinal Schonborn balloon Mass in general, and his use of leavened bread which though valid, is not licit.

        April 3, 2016 at 10:59 pm
      • editor

        Fr Arthur,

        Wrong. Elizabeth said no such thing. Read her post again. Don’t post falsehoods, because I will always check the original post. Elizabeth said no such thing.

        Canon Law requires a lot of things that are ignored these days but I agree, those schools and parishes which use the name Catholic while teaching and preaching heresy, should have the name removed, as the Pope commanded in Ad Tuendam Fidem.

        Indeed, Archbishop Conti wrote to his priests insisting that they ignore a letter from a concerned layman who – as the father of a newborn baby girl – had written to every priest in Glasgow, Paisley and I think Motherwell, a few short years ago asking them not to attend the talk being given in the Glasgow Jesuit church, by Thomas Groome a former priest who abandoned his ministry to marry and have children and whose writings on Catholic education are heretical – with bells on. The young parent demonstrated this in his letter and happily some priests did not go along as a result. However, Archbishop Conti wrote to ask his priests to ignore the letter and to extend to Thomas Groome the welcome he was entitled to as a member of the “household of the Faith” – Truly nobody could make this stuff up, not even someone with my good looks, intellect and wit.

        the Archbishop’s concern for his duty under Canon Law was completely ignored, as it has been with the anything but Catholic schools who insist on using the name “Catholic” and ditto parishes galore. Let’s keep the full context before one’s eyes, Fr Arthur, since that way you won’t be so inclined to strain at gnats while swallowing camels.

        And your closing side-swipe at the SSPX Masses is another example of swallowing camels. Never a word of criticism about the very “licit” but self-evidently invalid Masses available to view at a click on YouTube


        April 2, 2016 at 7:23 pm
      • Fr Arthur


        Elizabeth wrote
        “Editor, I have always understood that the Pope is infallible when he is proclaiming to all the faithful any teaching pertaining to faith or morals to be held by the whole Church.
        The teaching in Pascendi is not new teaching but an emphatic reiteration of dogma that the Church has always held and taught………….If I might add one point: the only section of the encyclical that worried me a bit was the part about the censorship of books. To ban books and forbid people, seminarians in particular, from reading books written by people on the Index, concerns me as the banning or destruction of books has always been one of the hallmarks of totalitarian regimes. Clearly in this case the motive is to protect from error but in this age is it perhaps better to expose and explain the errors in proscribed literature rather than suppress them?”

        I would say that is quibbling about the supposed solution to a supposed problem supposedly infallibly defined.

        You can’t have your cake and eat it!

        April 2, 2016 at 7:29 pm
      • Elizabeth

        Fr Arthur,
        I read and occasionally contribute or ask questions on this blog in order to learn and understand more about my Catholic faith. I admitted to my uneasiness about the censorship of books and asked a question about it. I did not say I did not agree with it per se.
        As a result I received very full and helpful responses from the Editor and Athanasius for which I am very grateful.

        April 2, 2016 at 9:04 pm
      • editor

        Fr Arthur,

        “worried me a bit” is quite different from”didn’t agree with”

        As for your “I would say that is quibbling about the supposed solution to a supposed problem supposedly infallibly defined.”
        Well, I would say you’re plain wrong. I’ve already said it, stop requiring me to repeat myself. Read more carefully and make sure you know what it is bloggers are meaning before you launch into answering something that hasn’t been asked.

        As well as being qualified in Religious Studies/Education, I am also a qualified English teacher. If you wish to enrol for one to one tuition in reading and comprehension classes, I’m your gal…

        “You can’t have your cake and eat it!”

        Oh but I can, and frequently do. Always keep a spare cake in the tin, that’s my motto…

        PS if you read Elizabeth’s response to your erroneous interpretation of her initial “worry” – that is, read it properly and carefully, you will see that she is using the blog as it is intended to be used; seeking clarification where necessary but always with a view to understanding as best any of us can, in order to be sure of adhering to Catholic doctrine. She’s made her position clear after receiving explanations from some of us so don’t be dishonest and try to use her initial “worry” against her. That would be extremely un-pastoral.

        April 2, 2016 at 10:12 pm
      • Fr Arthur

        It strikes me that if you are having to explain basics to people like Elizabeth then it is odd to ask her if, having read it for the first time, she accepts it is infallible!

        Editor: I asked Elizabeth whether YOU had convinced her it wasn’t infallible or had the bloggers got it right. I think that’s more or less verbatim. She wasn’t convinced by your arguments. Don’t take it personally. It’s the Holy Spirit at work. And, of course, lots of people visiting this blog will have read Pascendi for the first time. Clearly, the Church’s teaching stands out and they can recognise the truth when they read it. Ergo they can recognise your Modernist errors when they read them. Don’t dare try to belittle people like Elizabeth who are humble enough to admit when they don’t know something. Stands in stark contrast to your ignorance, which you just refuse to acknowledge, even in the face of the clearest possible words from a Pope Saint describing the very heresies permeating the Church today. That’s either born of “pure dead thick” as they say in the bowels of Glasgow, or wilful ignorance. Take your pick. Neither looks good and will look even worse on Judgment Day, when the Lord will say to you “And you blogged at Catholic Truth? And you STILL wouldn’t accept the Faith? You STILL thought you knew better than Pope Saint Pius X? ”

        I just hope I’m within earshot.

        April 3, 2016 at 5:37 am
      • Athanasius


        Editor has more or less covered the query you raised about the Index, but I just wanted to add a few lines myself to reinforce what she has said.

        The first point I would like to make is that there is good “authoritarian” censorship and bad “Totalitarian” censorship. The latter is a liberal method of censoring anything and everything that is good and true in faith and morals. The former is anything and everthing that is dangerous to faith and morals. In any event, there is no such thing, never has been, as a non-authoritive or non-totalitarian censorship in any society. There will always be one or the other and that will be reflected in the life of a nation’s citizens.

        In the Epistles of St. Paul the saint admonishes the faithful that there are certain sins (against Christian morals) that should not so much as be named amongst Christians. In other words, a certain censorship in writing and speech is neccessary to preserve the minds and hearts of the people in God’s grace, taking into consideration the weakness of fallen human nature.

        The sex educationalists of today, however, throwing that wise counsel to the wind, decided that children in schools should not be restricted by such “Totalitarianism.” And so, with the greatest imprudence, they introduced the subject of sex ed to kids for the purpose, as they put it, of awakening them to the realities of young adulthood. The results of this madness are there today for all to see in a largely dissolute youth.

        And where do we find God, His Creation, The Ten Commandments, grace and virtue in the general school curriculum? We find them exiled as dangerous to human freedom of expression.

        And speaking of the Ten Commandments. Are these not God’s very own Index of deadly indulgences that we are not permitted to partake of? Is Almighty God to be labelled “Totalitarian” because He draws the line between true freedom and licence? No, this is divine censorship based on love, for God knows well enough that we are only truly free when we embrace the good and reject (censor) the evil. True freedom must always have limits. And so it must be in every sphere of human life in those things which pertain to the good of our souls and our salvation.

        There is no such thing as “Totalitarianism” when it comes to suppressing evil works for the common good, only wisdom and charity.

        If people write or speak in a manner that is detrimental of divinely revealed truths, then it is incumbent upon all authority, clerical and secular, to silence that error lest man should be seen to dispute with God. This is good and wholesome censorship.

        The Rationalists of the last few hundred years have taken great issue with this. For them, divine faith is subordinate to human reason and not the other way around. In other words, man, not God, is the supreme legislator of what is and is not acceptable in learning. The tragedy of this is clear today in a society lost entirely to eternal truths, a relativist society in which nothing remains certain or constant but rather susceptible to continuous convulsive evolutionary alteration in accordance with the fashions and demands of increasingly godless governments and populations. And the result? Vice, not virtue, is the new order of the day, but all in the interests of human freedom, you inderstand!

        As a Traditional Catholic writer I have found it increasingly difficult to air the teachings of the Church in faith and moral matters in diocesan newspapers. Indeed, the last thread on the censoring of my article at the SCO is just one of many such examples. Likewise in the secular newspapers. If I write anything that smacks of Traditional Christianity or morality then it will not see the light of day. This is true “Totalitarian” censorship, the promotion of evil and the censoring of the good.

        In this respect you hit on a very pertinent point, which is that in every society gone atheist a meticulous and ruthless totalitarian suppression of divinely revealed faith and morals is employed everywhere, especially in publishing.

        If you read the so-called Catholic papers today you will find them replete with errors dangerous to faith and morals, some of which are outrighly heretical. This never happened before Vatican II because the Popes and bishops were zealous for souls and vigilant to safeguard them from religious and moral errors. With the disappearance of the Index and other such wise censorship following Vatican II, the Church and the world was suddenly flooded with the writings of heterodox theologians and writers whose cleverly constructed intellectual arguments left many lesser informed people in doubt and/or despair. Suddenly all those certain truths of the faith that had previously been held as inviolable were being cast into doubt by wily revolutionaries preying on the ignorance of the masses.

        And there was indeed great ignorance among the masses in the Church at the commencement of the post-conciliar reformation. For the majority of everyday priests and faithful who had formerly believed in the truths of the faith, but who lacked knowledge of the teachings of the Church underpinning them, suddenly found themselves exposed to multitudes of errors, an onslaught of heretical publications and speeches that left them rudderless and bewildered, the more so because those espousing the errors were Churchmen of influence whose authority it was thought could not and should not be challenged. Hence the apostasy of millions of souls from the Faith that continues to this very day.

        A good recent example of such a renegade Churchman is Cardinal Walter Kasper. Now this sly fox has very cleverly twisted his way around the moral teaching of the Church on the grounds of pastoral care, as if the two could ever be at odds. He is a classic Modernist proponent of the evolution of dogma, that same contra-science theory (now dogma!) that in secular society has been adapted to deny God and Creation. Ultimately what he proposes in the field of morals is essentially the relatvist poison I mentioned earlier, which is that the Church should adapt her teaching in accordance with the changing fashions of the world. In other words, there is no such thing as divinely revealed and eternal truths, just man, his evolving mind and his ever-increasing demands.

        Ok, now I have gone on a lot longer than a few lines, so I’ll leave it there. I hope I have said enough to demonstrate that there is a great distinction to be made between the wise and holy censorship of the Church and the evil censorship of todays libertarians who promote wickedness and licence while suppressing all that is good and true.

        One final thought, though. Would you consider yourself “Totalitarian” for forbidding your children a right and freedom to view inappropriate material on the Internet or TV? Of course you wouldn’t. You would insist, and quite rightly so, that you were acting out of love for your children, the health of their minds, souls and bodies. Well, that’s what the Church used to do when heretics and the immoral attempted to spread their contagous poison through the Church or civil society. How desperately we need to see that holy watchfulness back in place and prominent once more.

        April 2, 2016 at 2:46 am
      • Athanasius

        To all bloggers

        I have in my possession a small booklet recently produced by an SSPX priest on the proper formation of young Catholic minds through wholesome literature, and the dangers to be avoided. It is an excellent and informative read, a must read for all Catholic teachers and home educators. It is of course supported with the teaching of the Magisterium and the saints. I could post it on the blog if others wish to read it, or I would be happy to email it to interested individuals if editor is comfortable acting as middle-woman in the process.

        April 2, 2016 at 2:55 am
      • editor


        I am more than happy to email it out to others, but it would be good to post it on the blog as well. Perhaps post it here and then anyone who wishes the (I presume) pdf or Word copy, could email for it.

        Which brings me to the email I’ve received from Rod Pead, Editor of Christian Order. I’d alerted him to the fact that I used an extract from CO to introduce this thread and this is his reply:

        Thanks for that

        What an encyclical! Among the greatest ever written for sure.

        When I first met the late great Fr Godfrey Carney of Liverpool in the mid-90s, he confessed that he had never sat down and read Pascendi all the way through. But when he finally did he was staggered. He found it stupendous. And he was a top scholar. I prevailed upon him to attempt a summary of it for the benefit of CO readers. And eventually he did and I published it in the October 1998 CO. I’ve attached it in case you ever want to use it. I still think it’s as good a short summary of Pascendi as you’ll find anywhere, reducing its many aspects to a fairly understandable level for the average reader.

        God bless.


        I will, in due course, publish that summary in the newsletter but, in the meantime, if anyone wishes to read the pdf copy, feel free to email me on and I will happily send it to you. Then, if you also send for the pamphlet on offer from Athanasius, it will be a clear case of DON’T buy one, STILL get one free!

        April 2, 2016 at 8:11 am
      • Christina

        I’ll certainly be sending for that. I remember Father Carney with affection and gratitude for the support he gave to the disorientated sheep who were suddenly thrown from the security of the holy Church they had known into the torrent of liturgical change and novel teachings and practice that Vat.II released. He preserved the Mass for us and comforted us, never losing his own cheerful trust in God. RIP.

        April 2, 2016 at 10:31 am
      • Elizabeth

        Editor and Athanasius,

        Well not only have I learned a lot from my reading of Pascendi but also from both of you. Thank you for taking the trouble to reply in such depth and clarity.

        April 2, 2016 at 8:46 am
      • Christina

        Elizabeth, thank YOU also for your excellent post that served to prompt those hugely informative and clear responses of Editor and Athanasius. This blog at its educative best!

        April 2, 2016 at 10:14 am
  • Athanasius

    Modernism has been threatening the Faith since the mid 19th century. It flared up in earnest just at the end of the 19th century, championed by one Fr. George Tyrrel S.J., and remains to this present day the pet “Synthesis of all hereises” of the Jesuit Order, Pope Francis showing himself to be the Modernist par excellence thus far. St. Pius X could not have foreseen one of his successors actually embracing Modernism as this present Pope has.

    Anyway, it is noteable that after Vatican II one of the first actions to be taken was the abandonment of the anit-Modernist oath that all newly ordained priests were bound to make upon their ordination. Simultaneously, St. Thomas was exorcised from the seminaries while the Holy Office Index of forbidden publications, as well as the Index of “those suspect of heresy,” which included many of Vatican II’s more liberal periti, such as Fr. Joseph Ratzinger, were scrapped. I understand that it was in fact Fr. Ratzinger who set about the task of abolishing that latter register.

    It is a rule of the Church that theologians suspected of heresy or heterodoxy are forbidden to participate as experts in an ecumenical council. Yet it is a fact that the most prominent and influential theological experts during Vatican II were generally priests whose names were recorded on the Index, or who had fallen foul of censure during the reign of Pius XII.

    What we can glean from this is that the Modernist assault on the Faith that started in 1962 and continues its fratricidal path today was planned and executed with a cunning and precision that is straight from Hell. St. Pius X stopped them dead in their tracks with Pascendi, but they went underground, regrouped and awaited a favourable time and Pope to re-launch their Reformation. The disasters today are there for all to see yet they cannot or will not see them, calling instead for more reform. Well did the saintly Pius X declare that pride sits in the Modernist mind as in its own house.

    March 31, 2016 at 3:34 pm
    • Petrus

      I’m sure I read that St Pius X would not accept any congratulations for ‘defeating’ Modernism. Didn’t he say he had simply beaten it underground but it would return one day more dangerous than ever?

      March 31, 2016 at 4:15 pm
      • RCA Victor

        Petrus – yes.

        March 31, 2016 at 4:20 pm
    • Prognosticum


      I beg to differ. St. Thomas was not so much exorcised from seminaries as seminaries were left to jettison him from the curriculum at will.

      This, to me, is one of the main indicators of why the Church of the 1950s was far from being as monolithic in orthodoxy and praxis as it is often supposed to be. Pope Pius X had, in a sense, defeated Modernism, but it was far from being a route. The Modernists went underground, only to surface at Vatican II which sought to reconcile the modernist and anti-modernist parties. Hence the highly ambiguous passages in many of the documents.

      At the heart of the modernist controversy, it seems to me, lies the Church-World relationship which has been the object of dispute since the Church came into being. It has surfaced again with a vengeance in Francis’s pontificate which is essentially the belated victory of the ‘Gaudium et spes’ party over its opponents.

      April 2, 2016 at 5:09 am
      • Athanasius


        It may have appeared that seminaries were left to jettison St. Thomas at will but the reality is that it was an orchestrated event that occurred in almost every seminary in the world with some rapidity after the Council. Had it been down to the choice of individual seminary superiors, then some at least would have retained Thomistic formation. That did not happen.

        Besides this, if you follow the trail of Modernism, its authors, champions and disciples, there is a unilateral agreement amongst them from the earliest days that Thomism should give place in seminaries to modern philosphical and theological thought. Even though Modernism is split into camps, some more liberal than others, all Modernists are generally agreed on this one point. So you see, this was well laid out as part of the plan to prepare future priests in a less supernatural way to prepare them for the new worldly orientation. Yes, it was all very carefully and skillfully executed.

        April 2, 2016 at 9:00 pm
      • Prognosticum

        I disagree. The uniform imposition of Thomism by Leo XIII was never universally accepted in the Church, and so when the opportunity presented itself, many cast off what they thought was a heavy yoke and to which they had only been paying lip service for decades.

        April 4, 2016 at 10:33 pm
      • Athanasius

        Not so. Here is a snippet from a very good article on the subject of Thomism. Please read the entire article at the link provided, it is really enlightening.

        “…The substantive accusations against Thomism are easily dismissed. The allegation that Thomism was imposed on preconciliar theology is without foundation, as can easily be seen by looking at the official texts that deal with it. All these texts are concerned with the teaching of philosophy and theology in educational institutions. Leo XIII and subsequent popes had decided that it was essential that the clergy be given a sound philosophical formation, and that the best philosophy for them to be formed in was Thomism. In order to achieve that end, they ruled that philosophical formation in seminaries and Catholic universities should be Thomistic in nature. This made it necessary to give some definition of what Thomism consisted in, and the 24 Thomistic theses were promulgated to meet this need…”

        April 4, 2016 at 11:31 pm
      • Margaret Mary


        Then it is no wonder those priests went so far astray. Pope Leo XIII was one of the most saintly popes and the Church went from strength to strength during his reign. Those priests who you say were paying lip service to Thomism for decades, were dishonest and so their opinions don’t count. No good priest would consider Thomism a “heavy yoke” – and it is quite shocking to think how many poor parishioners were stuck with such priests not knowing that they were paying lip service to the Church’s greatest theologian and teacher. I wonder what else they were paying lip service to?

        April 4, 2016 at 11:33 pm
      • editor


        Where do you get the idea that “the Church-World relationship has been the object of dispute since the Church came into being”?

        Christ said at the outset that the world would hate His followers as it had hated Him. There’s not a saint in the Church’s calendar who questions the relationship of the world to Christ’s Church. Not one.

        Perhaps you refer to the perpetual struggle within ourselves, of which St Paul wrote when he pointed out the battle between the flesh and the spiritual but that’s a very different thing from claiming that there was any “dispute” about the relationship between the Church and the World. As already noted, Our Lord’s own warning about the world, demolishes any attempt at pretending that we’ll get along just fine, Church and World.

        April 2, 2016 at 10:42 pm
  • RCA Victor

    I think the motivation for effectively burying Pascendi is the very same motivation for burying the Third Secret. Pascendi gives the lie, in completely devastating and comprehensive fashion, to the “new orientation”/aggiornamento/ecumenism/collegiality/religious liberty track taken since Vii. As for the Third Secret, many have speculated that it includes a condemnation of a future “evil Council,” which obviously, would refer to Vii, upon which the entire hierarchy, except for Archbishop Lefebvre, has hung its hat for the past 50+ years.

    When you are carrying out a revolution (“the malice of revolutionary men” being God’s wrath visited upon us), truth becomes the enemy and must be destroyed – or at least hidden. When truth manages to emerge, the credibility of the revolutionaries is destroyed and their evil schemes exposed.

    March 31, 2016 at 4:29 pm
    • Athanasius

      RCA Victor

      It is poignant that you refer to the burying of the Third Secret and Pascendi at the same time since the Third Secret chastisement, the spiritual one, relates exactly to the Post-Vatican II reform, or rather revolution!

      March 31, 2016 at 7:17 pm
  • RCA Victor

    This was just posted on LifeSite News: Mother Angelica denouncing the “liberal Church in America” (which, of course, applies worldwide):


    March 31, 2016 at 5:39 pm
  • Fr Arthur

    I think it should be recalled that an Encyclical is not an infallible statement, and that an encyclical may be even be addressed to an individual, a group, or nation, and not necessarily the entire Church. Its author must intend, and clearly, express explicitly that it is intended as an ex-cathedra statement exercising their Supreme Authority.

    We must recognised that any leader, even a Pope, can wander down a path not too dissimilar to the “Reds under the beds” scare experienced in civil society. There can indeed a kind of spiritual paranoia, and an abandonment of trust in Divine Providence, and the unerring nature of The Universal Church.

    We must remember that one of the most spiritual, and learned, recent occupants of The See of Rome spoke earlier this month of the long held belief in The Church, expressed in different ways, of the evolution of dogma.

    Further, even now, over 100 years after this document was published, no Catholic leader, anywhere, believes the “…… absurd tenet of the Modernists, that every religion, according to the different aspect under which it is viewed, must be considered as both natural and supernatural. It is thus that they make consciousness and revelation synonymous. From this they derive the law laid down as the universal standard, according to which religious consciousness is to be put on an equal footing with revelation, and that to it all must submit, even the supreme authority of the Church, whether in the capacity of teacher, or in that of legislator in the province of sacred liturgy or discipline”.

    Only last year, in Central Africa, Pope Francis said “Each of us, in his or her heart, can ask the crucial question of where we stand with Jesus, asking what we have already accepted – or refused to accept – in responding to his call to follow him more closely. The cry of ‘those who bring good news’ resounds all the more in our ears, precisely when times are difficult; that cry which ‘goes out through all the earth… to the ends of the earth’ (Rom 10:18; cf. Ps 19:4). And it resounds here, today, in this land of Central Africa. It resounds in our hearts, our families, our parishes, wherever we live. It invites us to persevere in enthusiasm for mission, for that mission which needs new ‘bearers of good news’, ever more numerous, generous, joyful and holy. We are all called to be, each of us, these messengers whom our brothers and sisters of every ethnic group, religion and culture, await, often without knowing it. For how can our brothers and sisters believe in Christ – Saint Paul asks – if the Word is neither proclaimed nor heard?”

    March 31, 2016 at 6:52 pm
    • Petrus

      I think this is completely wrong, Fr A. Only those who are blinded by Modernism themselves could deny that there’s an unprecedented crisis in the Church which is caused by Modernism. It really is quite incredible that a supposed educated human being could make such an incredulous claim!

      My understanding is that an encyclical is addressed to the universal Church. Pascendi starts with:

      “To the Patriarchs, Primates, Archbishops, Bishops and other Local Ordinaries in Peace
      and Communion with the Apostolic See.”

      The Catholic Encyclopedia makes it clear that Encyclicals are addressed to individual churches by exception and that is always made clear. Pascendi was addressed to the universal Church.

      March 31, 2016 at 7:11 pm
      • Fr Arthur

        Even one addressed to The Universal Church may contain no infallible binding teaching. Its intent to impart such teaching must be explicitly stated.

        The most recent one by Pope Francis, for example, makes no such claim.

        March 31, 2016 at 7:15 pm
      • Athanasius

        Fr. Athur,

        Here are the Pontifical words in Pascendi that set it apart from general Encyclicals as an infallible document. The Pope is addressing the entire Church in a matter pertaining to faith and is imposing corrective action by formal decree.

        “One of the primary obligations assigned by Christ to the office divinely committed to Us of feeding the Lord’s flock is that of guarding with the greatest vigilance the deposit of the faith delivered to the saints, rejecting the profane novelties of words and the gainsaying of knowledge falsely so called. There has never been a time when this watchfulness of the supreme pastor was not necessary to the Catholic body, for owing to the efforts of the enemy of the human race, there have never been lacking “men speaking perverse things, “vain talkers and seducers, “erring and driving into error. It must, however, be confessed that these latter days have witnessed a notable increase in the number of the enemies of the Cross of Christ, who, by arts entirely new and full of deceit, are striving to destroy the vital energy of the Church, and, as far as in them lies, utterly to subvert the very Kingdom of Christ. Wherefore We may no longer keep silence, lest We should seem to fail in Our most sacred duty, and lest the kindness that, in the hope of wiser counsels, We have hitherto shown them, should be set down to lack of diligence in the discharge of Our office….

        …Lest what We have laid down thus far should pass into oblivion, We will and ordain that the Bishops of all dioceses, a year after the publication of these letters and every three years thenceforward, furnish the Holy See with a diligent and sworn report on the things which have been decreed in this Our Letter, and on the doctrines that find currency among the clergy, and especially in the seminaries and other Catholic institutions, those not excepted which are not subject to the Ordinary, and We impose the like obligation on the Generals of religious orders with regard to those who are under them”

        March 31, 2016 at 7:32 pm
      • editor


        Thank you for that. It is crucial to understand that one of the ways we can discern the teachings to be held as binding as opposed to the non-binding opinions of popes, is the tone of command which we see in certain encyclicals, such as Pascendi.

        Pascendi is calling the Church to order, repeating what has always been believed and identifying errors to be eliminated. That – clearly communicated in the language of command used by the Pope – makes it binding and applicable in all times and cultures.

        March 31, 2016 at 9:39 pm
      • Athanasius


        Exactly right. And since St. Pius X followed up his Encyclical by imposing the anti-Modernist oath on every newly ordained priest, it follows that he was bringing the attention of the universal Church to a very grave threat to the Faith. Yes, that Encyclical was binding on the Church then and it remains so now.

        March 31, 2016 at 10:06 pm
      • Fr Arthur


        Daily Pope Francis reasserts, in this present age,: “We are all called to be, each of us, these messengers whom our brothers and sisters of every ethnic group, religion and culture, await, often without knowing it. For how can our brothers and sisters believe in Christ – Saint Paul asks – if the Word is neither proclaimed nor heard?” and so over 100 years later, even after the nonsensical “Modernist Oath, was removed we have clear evidence the analysis of Pascendi missed the mark?

        The Church cannot operate on the basis of blinkered, polarised, talk from people no matter what high office they hold.

        Blessed Pope Paul Vl, who furthered the renewal in The Church wrote in 1975:”The Church is born of the evangelizing activity of Jesus and the Twelve. She is the normal, desired, most immediate and most visible fruit of this activity: “Go, therefore, make disciples of all the nations.” (37)Now, “they accepted what he said and were baptized. That very day about three thousand were added to their number…. Day by day the Lord added to their community those destined to be saved.”[38] – Having been born consequently out of being sent, the Church in her turn is sent by Jesus. The Church remains in the world when the Lord of glory returns to the Father. She remains as a sign – simultaneously obscure and luminous – of a new presence of Jesus, of His departure and of His permanent presence. She prolongs and continues Him. And it is above all His mission and His condition of being an evangelizer that she is called upon to continue.[39] For the Christian community is never closed in upon itself. The intimate life of this community – the life of listening to the Word and the apostles’ teaching, charity lived in a fraternal way, the sharing of bread[40] this intimate life only acquires its full meaning when it becomes a witness, when it evokes admiration and conversion, and when it becomes the preaching and proclamation of the Good News. Thus it is the whole Church that receives the mission to evangelize, and the work of each individual member is important for the whole.” EVANGELII NUNTIANDI

        April 1, 2016 at 6:36 am
      • Petrus

        “Furthered the renewal”? Sorry….that made me laugh. Pope Paul VI poured weedkiller on the roses!

        April 1, 2016 at 7:47 am
      • editor

        Fr Arthur,

        “Nonsensical Modernist Oath”? Have you read it? Here, for the record, is the oath in full:


        Given by His Holiness St. Pius X September 1, 1910.

        To be sworn to by all clergy, pastors, confessors, preachers, religious superiors, and professors in philosophical-theological seminaries.

        I . . . . firmly embrace and accept each and every definition that has been set forth and declared by the unerring teaching authority of the Church, especially those principal truths which are directly opposed to the errors of this day. And first of all, I profess that God, the origin and end of all things, can be known with certainty by the natural light of reason from the created world (see Rom. 1:19), that is, from the visible works of creation, as a cause from its effects, and that, therefore, his existence can also be demonstrated:

        Secondly, I accept and acknowledge the external proofs of revelation, that is, divine acts and especially miracles and prophecies as the surest signs of the divine origin of the Christian religion and I hold that these same proofs are well adapted to the understanding of all eras and all men, even of this time.

        Thirdly, I believe with equally firm faith that the Church, the guardian and teacher of the revealed word, was personally instituted by the real and historical Christ when he lived among us, and that the Church was built upon Peter, the prince of the apostolic hierarchy, and his successors for the duration of time.

        Fourthly, I sincerely hold that the doctrine of faith was handed down to us from the apostles through the orthodox Fathers in exactly the same meaning and always in the same purport. Therefore, I entirely reject the heretical’ misrepresentation that dogmas evolve and change from one meaning to another different from the one which the Church held previously.

        I also condemn every error according to which, in place of the divine deposit which has been given to the spouse of Christ to be carefully guarded by her, there is put a philosophical figment or product of a human conscience that has gradually been developed by human effort and will continue to develop indefinitely.

        Fifthly, I hold with certainty and sincerely confess that faith is not a blind sentiment of religion welling up from the depths of the subconscious under the impulse of the heart and the motion of a will trained to morality; but faith is a genuine assent of the intellect to truth received by hearing from an external source. By this assent, because of the authority of the supremely truthful God, we believe to be true that which has been revealed and attested to by a personal God, our creator and lord.

        Furthermore, with due reverence, I submit and adhere with my whole heart to the condemnations, declarations, and all the prescripts contained in the encyclical Pascendi and in the decree Lamentabili, especially those concerning what is known as the history of dogmas.

        I also reject the error of those who say that the faith held by the Church can contradict history, and that Catholic dogmas, in the sense in which they are now understood, are irreconcilable with a more realistic view of the origins of the Christian religion.

        I also condemn and reject the opinion of those who say that a well-educated Christian assumes a dual personality-that of a believer and at the same time of a historian, as if it were permissible for a historian to hold things that contradict the faith of the believer, or to establish premises which, provided there be no direct denial of dogmas, would lead to the conclusion that dogmas are either false or doubtful.

        Likewise, I reject that method of judging and interpreting Sacred Scripture which, departing from the tradition of the Church, the analogy of faith, and the norms of the Apostolic See, embraces the misrepresentations of the rationalists and with no prudence or restraint adopts textual criticism as the one and supreme norm.

        Furthermore, I reject the opinion of those who hold that a professor lecturing or writing on a historico-theological subject should first put aside any preconceived opinion about the supernatural origin of Catholic tradition or about the divine promise of help to preserve all revealed truth forever; and that they should then interpret the writings of each of the Fathers solely by scientific principles, excluding all sacred authority, and with the same liberty of judgment that is common in the investigation of all ordinary historical documents.

        Finally, I declare that I am completely opposed to the error of the modernists who hold that there is nothing divine in sacred tradition; or what is far worse, say that there is, but in a pantheistic sense, with the result that there would remain nothing but this plain simple fact-one to be put on a par with the ordinary facts of history-the fact, namely, that a group of men by their own labor, skill, and talent have continued through subsequent ages a school begun by Christ and his apostles.

        I firmly hold, then, and shall hold to my dying breath the belief of the Fathers in the charism of truth, which certainly is, was, and always will be in the succession of the episcopacy from the apostles.

        The purpose of this is, then, not that dogma may be tailored according to what seems better and more suited to the culture of each age; rather, that the absolute and immutable truth preached by the apostles from the beginning may never be believed to be different, may never be understood in any other way.

        I promise that I shall keep all these articles faithfully, entirely, and sincerely, and guard them inviolate, in no way deviating from them in teaching or in any way in word or in writing. Thus I promise, this I swear, so help me God. .END

        Quote one “nonsensical” sentence in that oath. And having failed to find one, explain to us how it can be “nonsensical” for a Pope to ask those entrusted with preaching and passing on the Faith to pronounce such an oath, to bind them, in conscience, to do so faithfully, at a time when the Faith has been undermined by those claiming falsely that dogma evolves etc.?

        Of COURSE the 100th anniversary of Pascendi was not marked! The Modernists are running the show! As Bishop Fellay said, not long after Pope Francis’s election, Pope Francis is an “outright Modernist”. He’s hardly going to be marking Pascendi and praising Pope SAINT Pius X, is he?

        April 1, 2016 at 11:15 am
      • Nicky

        Fr Arthur,

        According to the Catholic Encyclopaedia, section on encyclicals – “The degree in which the infallible magisterium of the Holy See is committed must be judged from the circumstances, and from the language used in the particular case.”

        I think that since Pius X was warning against the heresy of Modernism, in order to defend the infallible teaching of the Church, and using very strong language to warn Modernists, then Pascendi cannot be anything other than binding on Catholics. In fact, it would make the papal office look really foolish if the strong language used by Pius X could be dismissed by a future pope.

        March 31, 2016 at 9:47 pm
      • Fr Arthur

        Pope Francis used strong language when a child was in danger, and some here accuse him of arrogance, and being a bully, and lacking Christian Charity.

        However, more seriously, just how do you measure the strength of words used? Perhaps by using them to say what you want to say: “We declare, pronounce and define that the doctrine which holds that the Blessed Virgin Mary, at the first instant of her conception, by a singular privilege and grace of the Omnipotent God, in virtue of the merits of Jesus Christ, the Saviour of mankind, was preserved immaculate from all stain of original sin, has been revealed by God, and therefore should firmly and constantly be believed by all the faithful.” — Pope Pius IX, Ineffabilis Deus, December 8, 1854

        I assume you can see the difference in the two styles!

        Further, it is the practice of The Church to mark encyclicals of lasting, and Universal significance, on significant anniversaries. For example, Rerum Novaram (1891) was “celebrated” in 1991 by with Centesimus Annus.

        What document was issued to mark Pascendi in 2007?

        April 1, 2016 at 6:05 am
      • Petrus

        I think that’s an important point. Nothing was issued to mark Pascendi because the Vatican is in the hands of Modernist usurpers!

        April 1, 2016 at 7:45 am
      • Christina

        Petrus, too right. Here’s a reminder of a link I posted earlier. A good reply to anyone who thinks Pascendi shouldn’t have been commemorated with the greatest dignity and ceremony. The silence condemns modernist Rome.

        April 1, 2016 at 11:59 am
      • editor

        Fr Arthur,

        You are now being silly. To shout “selfish” at a fan for getting over-excited in the Pope’s presence, is not quite the same thing as using a tone of command to bring the Church to order. Context, as you keep telling us, is everything. Any teacher will tell you that when dealing with disruptive pupils, a quiet warning tone works better than shouting. Sometimes neither works, believe me, but that’s another subject, for another day. In any event, if the Pope had quietly pointed out that all this pushing and shoving was dangerous, that would have been one thing. Of course, he shouldn’t be doing these royal walk-abouts in the first place, but hey, he’s a celebrity man of the world, so who am I to suggest he stick to sitting at his desk in the Vatican and set to work to sort out his dissenting priests and bishops like any non-Modernist pope would want to do.

        The fact is, that anyone who does not want to think of Pascendi as infallible teaching is forgetting that the teachings contained therein, are constant Christian teaching and the Pope was simply calling them to mind and repeating them – that’s the papal duty. You are giving yourself away here, for all your efforts to pretend to be an orthodox priest, you are anything but if you reject Pascendi, aimed only at repeating the traditional teaching of the Church. The Modernist oath may, who knows, have been the very instrument required to bring clergy to heel and may have been the saving of some, at least of them because, as we read even in the new Catechism of the Catholic Church, what we believe is crucial to whether or not we are saved. Can’t recall the verbatim quote off the top of my head, but that is the watered down version.

        April 1, 2016 at 11:22 am
      • Athanasius

        Fr. Arthur

        I know this must be difficult for you but there were Popes before Francis, many of them, including St. Pius X, of far higher virtue and intellect than the present incumbent.

        “The Church cannot operate on the basis of blinkered, polarised, talk from people no matter what high office they hold.”

        That must be the most perverse dismissal of St. Pius X’s landmark Papal Encyclical that I have ever had the misfortune to read. It simply beggars belief. Here’s how the pope/saint in question foresaw and answered such audacity.

        “…That We should act without delay in this matter is made imperative especially by the fact that the partisans of error are to be sought not only among the Church’s open enemies; but, what is to be most dreaded and deplored, in her very bosom, and are the more mischievous the less they keep in the open. We allude, Venerable Brethren, to many who belong to the Catholic laity, and, what is much more sad, to the ranks of the priesthood itself, who, animated by a false zeal for the Church, lacking the solid safeguards of philosophy and theology, nay more, thoroughly imbued with the poisonous doctrines taught by the enemies of the Church, and lost to all sense of modesty, put themselves forward as reformers of the Church; and, forming more boldly into line of attack, assail all that is most sacred in the work of Christ, not sparing even the Person of the Divine Redeemer, whom, with sacrilegious audacity, they degrade to the condition of a simple and ordinary man.

        Although they express their astonishment that We should number them amongst the enemies of the Church, no one will be reasonably surprised that We should do so, if, leaving out of account the internal disposition of the soul, of which God alone is the Judge, he considers their tenets, their manner of speech, and their action…”

        April 1, 2016 at 4:43 pm
  • Deacon Augustine

    “Is Pascendi Dead In The Water?”

    Ha ha ha ha ha ha haaaa….! Haven’t you listened to that bloke in Rome recently?

    I must confess to not having read the full Encyclical just now, but I have read it before and it is even more relevant now than it was when it was promulgated. Judging by Benedict XVI’s recent comments on the “Evolution of the dogma ‘Extra ecclesiam nulla salus'”, it was not clear whether he was speaking approvingly of “evolving dogma” or not. He maybe coming to the point of realizing that he has also been part of the problem all along. And yet he gives the appearance of total orthodoxy compared to his successor.

    The modernists have taken over the asylum and have been running it for decades. Modernism is a pox that infects and disfigures the Body of Christ and it needs to be cut out and destroyed like a cancer.

    I don’t give a snot whether Pascendi was infallible or not. It was right then, it is right now and it will always be right. It only elaborated on the infallible doctrine of Vatican I which clearly set the limits on any notion of development of doctrine:

    “On faith and reason


    3. If anyone says that
    it is possible that at some time, given the advancement of knowledge, a sense may be assigned to the dogmas propounded by the church which is different from that which the church has understood and understands:
    let him be anathema.

    And so in the performance of our supreme pastoral office, we beseech for the love of Jesus Christ and we command, by the authority of him who is also our God and saviour, all faithful Christians, especially those in authority or who have the duty of teaching, that they contribute their zeal and labour to the warding off and elimination of these errors from the church and to the spreading of the light of the pure faith.”

    March 31, 2016 at 11:07 pm
    • Athanasius

      Deacon Augustine,

      You are right in your assessment of what’s happening in the Church in our time, a movement that is completely contrary to the infallible teaching of the Magisterium of Vatican I, and you hit the nail on the head with the “evolution of dogma”.

      I have often said that Modernism is essentially about pushing the notion of evolving dogma. Nothing is unchangeable, nothing sacred and divine, man is God! No wonder St. Pius X called it “the synthesis of all heresies”. We have witnessed this more glaringly in recent months with Cardinal Kasper’s proposals to alter the Church’s moral teaching. Now they are coming out into the open with great impudence disguised as pastoral concern. Prior to the Kasper scandal the modus operandi was to suppress the dogmas of the Church by silence. When was the last time you heard a Pope, Cardinal, Bishop or priest speak or write publicly about extra ecclesiam nulla salus? They just ignore it as an inconvenient truth that gets in the way of their integral humanism.

      I haven’t read Benedict XVI on the evolutuion of dogma but I do know that he is a supporter of separation of Church and State, as is Pope Francis, and this is hugely contradictory of Church teaching. Benedict is certainly nowhere near as radical a Modernist as Francis. It seems there are opposing camps within the movement, some more conservative than others, though all dangerous innovators in their own way. Benedict is more on the Modernist conservative side while Francis is radical liberal. Neither side would accept that St. Pius X was addressing them. The great Pope said they would be that blind, and they are.

      April 1, 2016 at 12:22 am
  • RCA Victor

    Here is an article about Pascendi on The Remnant site originally written in 1908 by Rev. Simon FitzSimons and published in The American Catholic Quarterly Review in 1908…republished by The Remnant…repeatedly making use of the word “infallible”:

    April 1, 2016 at 12:56 am
    • Christina

      RCA Victor, that is a. brlliant ‘find’ to insert here in this discussion. It’s not often that one can be mentally transported back in time like this, to get a real feeling for the way in which the contemporary Church received Pascendi, and of the source and nature of the opposition. I hope you don’t mind if I copy and paste one part which particularly struck me , in order to further emphasise it:

      ’Catholics have, of course, received the encyclical with joy and gratitude-nay, even with pride. It is at once a luminous exposition and a masterly refutation, and as such they welcome it. The authoritative voice has spoken, and they marvel only at the clearness and firmness of the note in such a surrounded babel of error and confusion. They are in admiration of the synthetic power which has crystallized so many volatile views and reduced the chaos of erroneous and desultory opinion to system and order. Indeed, the very reduction of the scattered errors to a unified system has of itself dealt a deathblow to the heresy; for it appears that the leaders of the movement have courted confusion and purposely and systematically avoided all arrangement and system, in order the more easily to escape observation and thus evade condemnation. For this reason, as well as for the profound and masterful refutation of the errors, the encyclical has been pronounced-and rightly so-one of the most remarkable documents, perhaps the most remarkable document, that has ever been issued from the seat of infallible authority. Scholars are in admiration of the sureness and accuracy of its observation, the breadth and solidity of its knowledge, the depth of its philosophy and, wherever it pauses to reason, the forcefulness of its intellectuality. These things of themselves would constitute an extraordinary document, and the ‘Catholic world would on these grounds alone receive it with pride and pleasure. But behind all this they recognize the words of the Vicar of Christ safeguarding the deposit of faith and keeping intact from all dross of error and corruption the purity of doctrine handed down by the Apostles.’

      I believe firmly in the accuracy of this contemporary assessment, for there remained no trace of modernism outwardly evident in the Church that I knew in my formative years. Here, in the reception of Pascendi as described by Catholics, and the way in which its instructions were obeyed by hierarchies world-wide, we see the true’sensus fidelium’ in action, adding, if that were needed, to all other evidence of the infallible nature of this magnificent encyclical.

      April 1, 2016 at 4:43 pm
      • RCA Victor


        Yes, the sensus fidelium was still predominant in 1908! Wish I could say the same for nowadays….

        Here is an interesting passage from Pascendi itself, certainly appropriate for the ludicrous horror that awaits us in 2017:

        So, too, when they treat of philosophy, history, and criticism, acting on the principle that science in no way depends upon faith, they feel no especial horror in treading in the footsteps of Luther and are wont to display a manifold contempt for Catholic doctrines, for the Holy Fathers, for the Ecumenical Councils, for the ecclesiastical magisterium; and should they be taken to task for this, they complain that they are being deprived of their liberty.

        April 1, 2016 at 5:53 pm
      • Christina

        Don’t mention that! I’m concentrating on horrors nearer to hand, for sufficient unto the day is the evil thereof 😈!

        April 1, 2016 at 8:16 pm
  • westminsterfly

    OK here is the ‘Return of the Prodigal Son as promised. With thanks to Rod Pead / Christian Order. I had to convert this document from pdf to Word in order to paste it, so footnotes in the original have been incorporated into the text. I have checked as best I can, but if there are any typos, I apologise in advance!


    On the one hand, the following extract from Death of a Catholic Parish: The Benalla Experiment (Between 1989-92 a Team Ministry comprising 3 “progressive” priests dismantled, spiritually and physically, the orthodox faith of St. Joseph’s parish, Benalla – a provincial city in south-eastern Australia) confirms in every respect our common experience of Modernist (newchurch) clergy who ignore the Church and rationalise disobedience; on the other, it proves that their prideful condition need not be terminal. This all too rare and invaluable insight – right from the “horse’s mouth” – is required reading.

    Return of a Prodigal Son


    . . . THE Benalla faithful quickly discovered the futility of pointing out to the Team that its secularised version of Catholicism was a mere wish devoid of all credible evidence, that it had no foundation in the New Testament or in patristic literature, that the saints neither lived it nor held it, that Vatican II, canon law and numerous papal statements ruled it out. If the priests reacted to such statements, it was usually a pejorative labelling of parishioners’ “views,” even though what had been presented were hard facts, not views at all. Alternatively, the gnostic war-cry – “you don’t understand” – was duly invoked.

    To the orthodox, such evasion, either by silence or by a refusal to come to terms with a critique, did not support the idea of a love for truth. They simply could not comprehend why Catholic priests would not renounce ideas that were shown to be without foundation. This particular manifestation of the Team’s ideological baggage was, in fact, consonant with that deep-seated fear of exposure experienced by all newchurch dilettantes who have substituted Trendomania for serious theological study. In a trenchant criticism of dissenting clergy, Pope St. Pius X explained that the root-cause of this slovenly scholarship is an arrogance steeped in pride:

    “It is pride which fills the Modernists with that self-assurance by which they consider themselves and pose as the rule for all. It is pride that puffs them up … and which, lest they should seem as other men, leads them to devise novelties even of the most absurd kind. ‘It is pride which rouses in them the spirit of disobedience and causes them to demand a compromise between authority and liberty. It is owing to their pride that they seek to be reformers of others while they forget to reform themselves” (Pascendi, 40)

    Is the saint too harsh in his judgement? Not according to a former newchurch priest with whom I spoke at length about life on the other side of the clerical “fence”. Among other things, it was Pius X’s insightful, no-nonsense expose of Modernism that enlightened and guided him on a demanding journey into the Catholic priesthood he had never known. The following summary of his experience not only confirms in every respect the Team Ministry purview, it demonstrates that only intellectual honesty in co-operation with God’s grace can demolish the mental ‘brick­ wall’ of Modernism.

    Spiritual and Intellectual Void

    For obvious reasons this priest prefers to remain anonymous but it is helpful to know that he completed his seminary training in the early 1970s. In the seminary he was fed a mixture of orthodox and heterodox courses of which fundamental theology was one of the more radical. Infamous dissenters Schillebeeckx and Kung were popular. He left with a head full of doubts, although doubt of a particular kind: It was called “insinuated doubt”, whereby you don’t actually doubt but, rather, question absolutely everything. In this way, all the traditional answers are made redundant and in need of reform and transformation. Through this constant questioning associated with “insinuated doubt” you form an attitude based very much on the Modernist idea where everything is evolving and nothing is static.

    The understanding was that with the ‘Spirit of Vatican II’ we had a new ball-game and new problems. We had to reinvent the wheel and devise new answers. Everything was indefinite and fluid. And if everything was open to change we could reconstruct anything, even tradition. Because the techniques of questioning were more to the fore in all of this, there was a major problem with scholarship. There was no formal intellectual system in the seminary. It was eclectic – bits and pieces. At the same time, the spiritual side of things was downplayed. You had devotion to the Blessed Virgin and the Blessed Sacrament and you attended, but it was not a strong part of your life. Once ensconced in a parish, he quickly moved into experimental mode which, as he discovered, was too much for some.

    “As soon as I’d see you walk out on the altar,” one parishioner later confessed, “I’d walk out of the church.” Father explained his state of mind:’The object of the exercise was to so manipulate things to keep them changing. I would wake up in the morning thinking about what I might change next. In full flight it fed off itself. You would change what you had just changed! Everything was fluid and indefinite so you would change a word here, an activity there. Why use bread and wine? Why wear vestments? One didn’t hold to the Canon Law approach on these matters. The general principal applied right across the board was that things always changed according to circumstances. In the area of morality you would always take the ‘hard case’ approach to make compassionate allowance for just about anything. The only invariant was the notion of change itself. But, of course, you always did these things for “pastoral reasons.” As for papal and magisterial authority: the Pope belonged to the ‘old school’. We knew that Paul VI was old and had lost his way. We knew that married priests and all those things would soon be introduced. We as the Church were seeking the truth of God. Dogma had its place, but we’d moved on from there.

    Saved by the Troglodytes

    It was a lack of spiritual and intellectual rigour, a hangover from his seminary formation or lack thereof, that shaped his attitude towards orthodox parishioners who challenged his ideas
    and constant experimentation: My attitude to these parishioners was extremely patronising.

    They were troglodytes, living in the Dark Ages. I didn’t have anything against them. They just hadn’t advanced. You would see them coming and think: “They’re always negative these people, they have such a negative, anti-Christian approach. But we’ve got to let them have their say, after all they’re only lay people anyway.” “So you would classify parishioners into ‘good-news people’ – who agreed with you and became your little coterie, running the committees and the liturgy, and made you feel like the parish was really humming with lay participation – and ‘bad-news people’.

    These [‘bad-news’] people confronted me and this was a part of my salvation. I said they were wrong and when they asked me to prove it, my argument fell away. Mainly in the areas of morals, the Eucharist and the Sacrifice of the Mass. I found I was shifting my position because I simply wasn’t equipped to articulate my position or take account of an opponent’s argument and analyse it. (In 1907, Pius X had reached the same conclusion: “If we pass on from the moral to the intellectual causes of Modernism, the first and the chief which presents itself is ignorance. Yes, these very Modernists who … speak so loftily of modem philosophy and show such contempt for scholasticism; have embraced the one with all its false glamour, precisely because their ignorance of the other has left them without the means of being able to recognise confusion of thought and to refute sophistry.- Pascendi, 41)

    If someone wanted me to prove my position I just didn’t take them seriously. I wiped them off and categorised those people – isolated them and spread around who they were. I had imbibed the Marxist dialectic where you’d raise doubts about things. I would say, “while we agree on this point, the traditional position doesn’t address this matter and therefore needs upgrading”. The dialectical approach doesn’t afford a reasoned debate because you know you’II come off second best. Instead, you name-call and don’t meet people face to face. It works on negation, showing up weaknesses and ridiculing them. Father eventually set about studying opposing positions in a scholarly way and in the process of looking up footnotes discovered Pius X’s Encyclical Letter on the Doctrines of the Modernists ( Pascendi Dominici Gregis, September 8, 1907) and the Syllabus Condemning the Errors of the Modernists (Lamentabile Sane, July 3, 1907): “When I read Pascendi and Lamentabile it was like a light. All my mental positions were there and they were all condemned! I thought, “My God, I’ve cherished these ideas.” I was astounded.

    Hatred of Neighbour

    After rediscovering his true vocation, at the heart of which lay a vigorous renewal of his spiritual life, Father found himself ostracised by his former newchurch comrades. For example, when he suggested that their reasons for using Pita bread for the Eucharist (“because it was more like the bread Jesus used”) or for breaking the bread before the Consecration (“because Jesus did so at the Last Supper”) were erroneous, he was told that he was too rigid and ritualistic. The intellectual honesty required to regain one’s Catholic perspective is, in his experience, a rare quality amongst his brother priests in the new church:

    “They have made a moral decision not to respond to people’s genuine objections. They refuse to enter into a genuine dialogue at all. I call it ‘hatred of neighbour’. A trenchant form of pride. Their own reputation is very much to the fore. They are responsible for their own ignorance and select out anything that smacks of being traditional. You count it out, otherwise you have to account for it.I see them as intellectually lazy. If there was more intellectual rigour they would undergo a change and see the illogicality of their position. We subscribed to magazines in which the professional dissenters reinforced erroneous ideas. We read that stuff very quickly just to get the gist of it and then delivered it from the pulpit. I never read it thoroughly and I wasn’t trained to analyse it. There is this whole atmosphere where you mix with a certain group of priests and you all pass around these magazine articles that support dissent, so it is really self-fulfilling. You never look at the opposition in a scholarly way. You just categorise it.”

    As one would imagine, Father found his own de-programming a difficult task: The change doesn’t come easily. You have to dismantle the thing. But once you get away from it [the new church] entirely
    you’re not interested in it at all because it lacks depth and is not satisfying. Father’s return from the brink of the Modernist abyss was in the tradition of Cardinal Newman’s painstaking journey. It required a single-minded pursuit of truth, to see things as they are rather than what he wanted them to be, and the acceptance of considerable personal suffering during and after the conversion. Only this arduous road enabled him to dismantle the entrenched fictions of the new church.

    Note: emphases added

    Postscript: The priest concerned was finally forced out of his diocese after the bishop succumbed to pressures exerted by his former Modernist allies. He is now serving the orthodox cause in the field of NFP and bio-ethics.

    The author of ‘Death of a Catholic Parish’ has a limited number of copies left and if anyone is interested they can email for details

    April 1, 2016 at 11:21 am
  • Christina

    WF, I bet you needed a stiff drink or three after all that hard graft!

    How sad that there was ‘only the one’ to receive that illumination as to the error of his ways.

    When the absolute accuracy and inerrancy of all Pascendi’s censures sem so very clear to most bloggers and traditionalists in general, it is difficult to understand how any supposedly reasonable person can oppose them. But then I suddenly recalled a conversation I had years ago with a psychiatrist when I had a short course of treatment for a thankfully short-lived depressive illness. I had, I think, been complaining about what someone had said or done about or to me, and I ended with “But of course he’s mad”. To which the psychiatrist replied “So, rather than face the uncomfortable issues posed by this man’s words, you dismiss him as mad, so that you can also dismiss his words. Having thus dismissed them, you no longer feel the need or obligation to face the isues posed by them.”

    How true! So similarly perhaps, when the modernists claim that Pope St. Pius X was blinkered and polarised and that his anti-modernist oath was ridiculous, then that gives them a perceived rationale for ignoring all he said in this great encyclical. It’s a tragic spiritual blindness that perhaps only the Psychiatrist of souls can cure. Oremus.

    April 1, 2016 at 5:31 pm
    • editor


      It is really very simple. Anyone who can read Pascendi and not recognise that it is infallibly binding precisely because it is a Pope who is re-stating what Christians have always and everywhere believed, is not Catholic. Not remotely.

      April 1, 2016 at 6:18 pm
      • Christina

        Yes, but can’t you see that all the modernists should be referred to a psychiatrist like that one of mine long ago. It might make tham think. I thought the analogy was very apposite 😀.

        April 1, 2016 at 8:23 pm
  • RCA Victor


    Looks like the Synod Against the Family final report won’t be released until April 8. In the meantime, perhaps we should all see a psychiatrist to steel ourselves….and then go pubbing and clubbing en masse while we recite quotes from Pascendi and the Syllabus to comfort ourselves….

    April 2, 2016 at 12:33 am
    • Prognosticum

      Careful. It is not a final report. It is an Apostolic Exhortation belonging to the Papal Magisterium. The Synod is not binding on the Pope.

      April 2, 2016 at 5:17 am
    • editor

      RCA Victor,

      I’ve reported the updates on the Exhortation, due on April 8th, with link to live stream when it takes place on the General Discussion thread, so would appreciate if bloggers would resist any temptation to anticipate its contents since I will post a thread on it, on 8th April. It is being released at 11.30, so will post it asap thereafter. Stick to the topic of Pascendi here, please and thank you.

      April 2, 2016 at 8:28 am
  • Prognosticum

    I return to the blog after an absence dictated by personal difficulties.

    I do not myself consider Pascendi to be infallible except in as far as it reproduces teachings which have always been taught in the Church. Apart from anything else, I am unaware that claims were made for the infallibility of the Letter when it was promulgated. If anyone else knows differently, I would be most interested in hearing it. Of clurse, the fact that it is not infallible does not mean that we are then free to disattend to its teaching.

    But Encyclicals, and other literary genres of the Magisterium, can be infallible teaching without overtly stating that it is intended that such teaching be so. A case in point would be, in my humble opinion, Humanae Vitae. Other recent cases would be Evangelium Vitae and Ordinatio Sacerdotalis.

    But even if Pascendi is not in itself infallible, it deals with questions of the greatest importance to the Church of its day and which only a blinkered fool would consider to be irrelevant to the Church of our day.

    As I have said elsewhere, the history of the Catholic Church over the last two hundred-and-fifty years or so is characterised by a dispute about where she stands in relation to the world. To paint the question in some very broad brush strokes, should she just go with the flow, as liberal Protestantism and mainstream Anglicanism have increasingly done, treating modernity almost as a source of revelation above Scripture and Tradition to the point where it is almost impossible to discern where the world leaves off and the Church begins? Or should she rather seek to convert the world to Christ as God’s definitive truth for a fallen humanity which it is her God-given mission to convert?

    In our age this dispute is made more poignant because of the role of the mass media in contemporary culture, something that was only incipient during the life of Pius X. The rise of the mass media makes it almost impossible for Catholics to have an ecclesial consciousness apart from the general consciouness created by the media and which is antithetical to the Gospel. The effects of this are increasingly devestating. Does anyone seriously think that Pope Francis could have been elected if a large part of the Church were not salivating like Pavlov’s dogs to media stimuli?

    Pascendi is still very relevant and will be, I fear, for very many decades to come.

    April 2, 2016 at 5:58 am
    • editor


      “I do not myself consider Pascendi to be infallible except in as far as it reproduces teachings which have always been taught in the Church.”

      Pascendi is entirely about “teachings which have always been taught in the Church” – the whole point of Pascendi is to point out and condemn the errors against the Faith and to repeat the binding nature of authentic doctrine.

      Pascendi is infallibility in action. We know that by the fact that it is solely repeating what Christians have always believed, everywhere, and – with the clear commanding voice of authority – condemning the Modernist errors and exhorting the Bishops to act to eliminate them in their dioceses.

      I cannot think of a clearer example of infallibility in action.

      April 2, 2016 at 8:34 am
      • Prognosticum

        Infallibility in action is a category unkown to Catholic theology, at least in the terms you employ.

        Remember that the Magisterium is not governed by a written ‘constitution’. In this it is very much like the Common Law in which tradition and precedent are paramount. Thus it has been surprisingly elastic in its expressions down through the centuries. Take, for instance, the literary genres of the Magisterium. Under John Paul II the literary genre of ‘Encyclical’ came to be modified because of that Pope’s use of the genre to deal with matters which were not specifically doctrinal–something that would have been quite foreign to his predecessors.

        It is not correct to affirm that for a teaching to be infallible it must conform to the criteria for the promulgation of a dogma ex Cathedra. A dogma is a very different thing from an Encyclical, the former being revealed teaching which touches upon the deposit of faith. Encyclicals are simply not in this league, even if the Magisterium is always authtentic in all its expressions and is ever deserving of our assent. But that is not to say that an Encyclical cannot contain infallible teaching. Humanae Vitae lays no explicit claim to infallibility, but many would contend, and have contended since its promulgation, that it is infallible because it teaches something that has always been taught in the Church. The same goes for Ordinatio Sacerdotalis and for the dogmatic parts of Evangelium Vitae.

        We must be careful in the present crisis not to over egg the pudding by making claims for Magisterial documents which are not reflected in the Magisterium itself or which are not to be found in reputable Catholic theologians. in the case in hand, if you cannot come up with a claim for the infallibility of Pascendi made by St. Pius X or by any of his successors, including the pronouncements of the Holy Office, or if you cannot find a similar claim in the consensus theologorum prior to 1962, why make such a claim yourself? On what authority? To what end?

        The following article is very interesting in this regard:

        April 4, 2016 at 10:28 pm
      • Athanasius


        You may find this 1960 article of Mgr. Fenton interesting. It explains very clearly why St. Pius X’s Pascendi was no ordinary Papal Encyclical. Although the article does not claim infallibility for Pascendi, it seems to me that Mgr. Fenton implies it on the grounds that the Encyclical addressed an urgent threat to the universal Faith of the Church. Anyway, it proves at the very least, as you have already indicated, that dismissal of Pascendi on the part of any Catholic of any rank in the Church would be a grave offence against God and the Faith.

        Here’s the link:

        April 4, 2016 at 11:11 pm
      • Margaret Mary


        I don’t know that any encyclical contains the claim explicitly that it is infallible. I think that is obvious from the content, and the message of it. In Pascendi, the Pope was clearly condemning errors and affirming dogmatic teaching. That is an exercise of his infallibility without having to say so. Popes generally (in my understanding) only use the word “infallible” when they are pronouncing a formal ex-cathedra statement, but those are not the only infallible teachings.

        If Pascendi is not infallible then Modernism must be acceptable in the Church. I think that is obviously not possible. I think Pascendi is certainly “infallibility in action” which is only a way of saying the document is evidence of infallibility before our very eyes. That’s what I think it means, I don’t see Editor claiming it is a “category in Catholic theology” – LOL!

        April 4, 2016 at 11:26 pm
  • Athanasius


    Here is that timely booklet on Catholic principles for education by an SSPX priest. It’s a bit lengthy for a blog post, but well worth the read. Apologies in advance for any formatting errors in this text. I had to convert it from .pdf.

    Moral Principles of the Catholic Church Concerning the Reading of Literature
    By Fr. Stephen DeLallo, SSPX March 25, 2016

    I. Preliminary Notes:

    1. The Catholic Moral Principles outlined below can help Catholics – espe-cially parents and teachers – to discern what kind of literature the youth are allowed to read as good Christians. It is necessary to be guided by the teachings of the Catholic Church and great saints rather than to rely on one’s own thoughts and opinions. The Church is a 2000-year-old Mother with great prudence and wisdom.

    Since college and university students are normally more mature and responsible than high school students, they are able to read literary works with more mature themes, provided there is no near occasion of sin. Of course, they also must follow the Catholic principles of morality with regard to literature.

    2. Adherence to the Catholic Moral Principles concerning literature is espe-cially important today when we consider the methods used in schools over the past 50 years to corrupt Christian morals. During the 1960s and 1970s in America, count-less Catholic parents saw the faith of their children undermined by liberal priests, brothers and nuns in Catholic schools. Their method was always the same: in the younger grades, they would mix truth with error in the classroom, and they would instruct the children not to tell their parents, saying that their parents wouldn’t understand.

    In public and Catholic high schools, literature and poetry were introduced that contained texts describing immorality and sensuality, and sometimes making references to homosexuality. The teachers explained that students should read about the grave moral evils in the world in order to be better prepared to confront them when leaving high school. Besides, they argued, they’re going to see these things anyway when they get out of high school.

    If parents objected or complained, the teachers would make veiled remarks to belittle or ridicule their authority in front of the students in the classroom. They accused parents of being old fashioned, ignorant, extreme or puritanical; sometimes, they were accused of having some kind of sensual or psychological disorder which made them see temptations that “normal” people don’t see – thus insulting their intelligence and moral integrity. Also, if a student complained to his parents, teach-ers would make remarks in the classroom to embarrass him or make him look dumb in front of the other students. This method of intimidation would cause the other students to be afraid to complain to their parents about anything in the class.

    The teachers were often witty and fun, and tried to establish a good rapport with their students, encouraging them to use their own intelligence and freedom to think for themselves in deciding what was right and wrong, e.g., by asking them: “How do ‘you’ feel about this?”, or “What do ‘you’ think about this?”

    In Catholic Youth Organizations (CYO), teachers would present moral cases and dilemmas to small groups of Catholic teenagers, who were then asked to give the answer they thought was best according to their conscience, and according to the circumstances in the case. But the correct Catholic answer was not clearly ex-plained at the end of the discussion. Rather, each student was encouraged to follow the answer that seemed right to him.

    By using these methods of sensitivity training and situation ethics, students were slowly conditioned to doubt or reject the traditional moral values taught by their parents, thus creating division and discord in the family. This method of con-ditioning students to abandon or “reinterpret” their traditional moral values is called values clarification. All these methods were part of the communist plan to corrupt and destroy the traditional Christian family in America.

    *Note: Sensitivity Training is a communist technique designed to convince children that they are the main authority in their own lives. In practice, we can see three main steps: (1) direct students to get in touch with their own feelings about moral or doctrinal questions, e.g., “How do ‘you’ feel about this?”; (2) desensitize students to impurity by slowly familiarizing them with reading material or movies that contain indecencies and immoral scenes, so that eventually they won’t seem so bad; and (3) direct teachers to establish a friendly rapport with the students so that they will develop a strong sense of loyalty to the teacher, thus defending him and his teaching methods.

    This work of corruption was especially effective in Catholic schools because parents and students who objected were told to be quiet and obey, and trust their priests and religious superiors because “they have the grace of state” to make the right judgments in these matters. Those who continued to show opposition were accused of causing division and being uncharitable. Of course, all Catholics know that the grace of God does not take away free will. This is why there is a crisis in the Church today! Bishops, priests and religious superiors have resisted and diso-beyed the “grace of state” given to them by God, and by embracing modernist and liberal doctrines, they have betrayed Our Lord and His Church in matters of faith and morals.

    3. The Warning of Our Lord Jesus Christ: Mark 9: 42: “And whosoever shall scandalize one of these little ones that believe in me; it were better for him that a millstone were hanged around his neck, and he were cast into the sea.” Therefore, all teachers, whether religious or laity, who place literature with indecent texts into the hands of the youth are guilty of scandalizing children. *Not infrequently people hear Sunday sermons about the dangers of the internet, smartphones and tablets because of the occasions of sins of impurity. But it’s pre-cisely those teachers who promote the use of literature with indecent texts in the classroom who are at least partially responsible for sparking the curiosity about sins of impurity in the minds of the youth, which in turn may lead them to the bad use of smartphones, tablets and computers.

    II. The Role of Literature in Catholic Education

    Note: In general, the Catholic Church approves the reading and study of good literature because: (1) it introduces students to the transcendent realities of truth, beauty and goodness, with the ultimate goal of raising their minds and hearts to God and to the truths of the Catholic Faith. In this way, natural goodness and truth are always considered in their relation to supernatural realities; (2) it presents truth and knowledge in an organized and structured manner, thereby training students to think in a logical, rational way. This improves their ability think abstractly about im-portant concepts, such as truth and justice, love and compassion, honor and loyalty, bravery and fortitude, etc., and their opposing vices; (3) it trains students in “critical thinking,” i.e., disciplined thinking that is clear and rational, based on synthesizing and analyzing evidence to formulate correct judgments; (4) it helps students in the formation of good moral judgement, by allowing them to experience various life situations through characters in a story, to see praise for virtue and punishment for vice, and to think what they should do as Catholics if they were in similar situations; (5) in the practical order, good literature improves the students’ vocabulary, reading comprehension, reading ability and language growth, thus improving their ability to express themselves more clearly and intelligently in writing and conversation.

    However, with regard to literary stories that praise virtue and condemn vice, the Church has always warned against reading any literature that would be an occa-sion of sin. Consequently, it is not allowed to read literature that contains texts which illustrate or describe scenes of sensuality or moral depravity, or which relate various details of sins of impurity. According to the Church and all the saints, it would be serious sin to place oneself in the near occasion of sins of impurity.
    When speaking about the Liberal Arts education at St. Mary’s College in St. Marys, Kansas, Archbishop Lefebvre once said (in 1984): “Dear friends, I have learned that for the first time, St. Mary’s will present her students for graduation. It is truly an event with merit to be noted in the annals of the College. This is the fruit of the conjunction of the patient and devoted work of many people. I am thinking not only of the professional body, but also of all the families… this conjunction could not have taken place without the ideal which is pursued at the College of St. Marys: ideal of the Christian and Catholic formation and education under the regard of God, of the Cross of Jesus, and of the Blessed Virgin Mary, Patron of the College… This event, which you are celebrating, must be the occasion to thank God, and to beseech Him to continue to aid the College, in order that it might form children worthy of the Catholic Church and courageous citizens of your country.” (See: St. Mary’s College yearbook, “The Sword,” 1983-84).

    1. St. Basil the Great, in his “Address to Young Men” on Reading Greek Literature: “Since it is through virtue that we must enter upon this life of ours, and since much has been uttered in praise of virtue by the poets, much by historians, and much more still by philosophers, we especially ought to apply ourselves to such literature. For it is no small advantage that a certain intimacy and familiarity with virtue should be engendered in the minds of the young, seeing that the lessons learned by such are likely, in the nature of the case, to be indelible, having been deeply impressed on them by reason of the tenderness of their souls” (#4).

    And again, St. Basil says: “But we shall take rather those passages of theirs in which they have praised virtue or condemned vice. For just as in the case of other beings, enjoyment of flowers is limited to their fragrance and color; but the bees, as we see, possess the power to get honey from them as well, so it is possible here also for those who are pursuing, not merely what is sweet and pleasant in such writings, to store away from them some benefit also for their souls;

    “Inasmuch as the subjects they deal with are of every kind, you ought not to give your attention to all they write without exception; but whenever they recount for you the deeds or words of good men, you ought to cherish and emulate these and try to be as far as possible like them; but when they treat of wicked men, you ought to avoid such imitation, stopping your ears no less than Odysseus did, according to what those same poets say, when he avoided the songs of the Sirens. For familiarity with evil words is, as it were, a road leading to evil deeds.” (#4).

    2. Pope Pius XI, in “Christian Education of Youth,” Dec. 31, 1929: “In such a school, in harmony with the Church and the Christian family, the various branches of secular learning will not enter into conflict with religious instruction to the manifest detriment of education. And if, when occasion arises, it be deemed necessary to have the students read authors propounding false doctrine, for the purpose of re-futing it, this will be done after due preparation and with such an antidote of sound doctrine, that it will not only do no harm, but will be an aid to the Christian formation of youth.” (#86) “In such a school moreover, the study of the vernacular and of classical litera-ture will do no damage to moral virtue. There the Christian teacher will imitate the bee, which takes the choicest part of the flower and leaves the rest, as St. Basil teaches in his discourse to youths on the study of the classics. Nor will this necessary caution, suggested also by the pagan Quintilian, in any way hinder the Christian teacher from gathering and turning to profit, whatever there is of real worth in the systems and methods of our modern times, mindful of the Apostle’s advice: “Prove all things: hold fast that which is good” (#87).

    III. Exposing the Errors of Naturalists, Modernists and Liberals

    1. Modernists and Liberals say that the youth should read and study classic literature which illustrates and describes scenes of indecency and moral depravity, so they can see for themselves the evil consequences of original sin, and thereby be better prepared to resist these sins and practice virtue in the modern world.

    First of all, this opinion is directly opposed to the teaching of Pope Pius XI in his encyclical on Christian Education of Youth, when he says: “Another very grave danger is that naturalism which nowadays invades the field of education in that most delicate matter of purity of morals. Far too common is the error of those who, with dangerous assurance [and under an ugly term propagate a so-called sex-education], falsely imagining they can forearm youths against the dangers of sensuality by means purely natural, such as a foolhardy initiation and precautionary instruction for all indiscriminately, even in public; and, worse still, by exposing them at an early age to the occasions, in order to accustom them, so it is argued, and as it were to harden them against such dangers.” (#65) “Such persons grievously err in refusing to recognize the inborn weakness of human nature, and the law of which the Apostle speaks, fighting against the law of the mind; and also in ignoring the experience of facts, from which it is clear that, particularly in young people, evil practices are the effect not so much of ignorance of intellect as of weakness of a will exposed to dangerous occasions, and unsupported by the means of grace” (#66).

    Secondly, this opinion logically falls into two errors. The first error states that it is sometimes permitted to do evil in order to accomplish good, which was condemned by St. Paul (Rom. 3:8). The second error is Naturalism, which, by denying or ignoring the wounds and consequences of original sin, promotes the reading of famous literature and poetry for the sake of its eloquence and style, in spite of de-scriptions of indecencies and moral depravity in the text. By definition, Naturalism excessively praises and exalts the natural goodness and dignity of man, and man’s great works of literature, poetry and art, above the Law of God and Christian moral guidelines. The movement of Naturalism was the first stage of attack against Christendom during the Renaissance of the late Middle Ages.

    Thirdly, this method to corrupt the youth is actually similar to the method of Lucifer when tempting Adam and Eve, who offered them the knowledge of both good and evil, under the pretext that they would be more knowledgeable, more in-telligent, superior, and better prepared to live in the world. This appealed to their intellectual pride, and caused a disordered curiosity for the knowledge of evil.

    2. Archbishop Marcel Lefebvre, in his book “They Have Uncrowned Him” (p. 4), says: “Naturalism is found beforehand in the Renaissance, which, in its effort to recover the riches of the ancient pagan cultures, and of the Greek culture and art in particular, came to glorify man, nature and natural forces to an exaggerated de-gree. In exalting the goodness and the power of nature, one devalued and made disappear from the minds of man the necessity of grace; the fact that humanity is destined for the supernatural order and the light brought in by revelation.

    “Under a pretext of art, they determined to introduce then everywhere, even in the churches, that nudism – we can speak without exaggeration – which triumphs in the Sistine Chapel. Without doubt, looked at from the point of view of art, those works have their value; but they have, alas, above all a carnal aspect of exaltation of the flesh that is really opposed to the teaching of the Gospel: ‘For the flesh covets the spirit,’ says St. Paul, ‘and the spirit militates against the flesh’.”

    To defend the use of this kind of literature program mixed with indecency and immorality, Modernists and Liberals argue that it is important to address the corruption of man in the natural order first, in order to restore order and balance to man’s natural life as the necessary preparation for grace and the supernatural work of God in his soul. This opinion, however, is false and contrary to Catholic teaching. Archbishop Lefebvre always condemned “the false principle that states ‘Let us restore the natural order so that it might become supernatural’, saying that this false principle is ‘disastrous for the true apostolate…. Christ our Lord never taught us such a principle since He Himself was the restoration of order in the natural and supernat-ural domains. His grace both heals us and raises us up’.” (See “Marcel Lefebvre,” by Bishop Tissier de Mallerais, p. 280).

    The same Archbishop also reprimands the liberal opinion which holds that young people should be taught about vice in order to be more protected against it as they get older. Concerning this error, and in view of protecting the dignity of marriage in the minds of the young, the Archbishop says: “So many errors are common on this subject, even in Christian circles! New methods are advocated on the grounds that it is desirable for a child to know about vice in order to be the more securely protected against it; but do you inoculate young bodies with adult vaccines? Such methods seriously, and often irreparably, scandalize impressionable young souls.” (See “Pastoral Letters,” p. 20).

    Additionally, in his book, An Open Letter to Confused Catholics (p. 110), the Archbishop warns the faithful to beware of modernists who “advise children to listen to what atheists have to say, because they have much to learn from them; and besides, if they do not believe in God they have their reasons, and these are worth knowing!”

    In his book, “They Have Uncrowned Him,” the Archbishop points out that modernists are infected by this same error in their method of trying to convert non-believers to the Faith. He says: “Therefore, according to them, in order to convert those who do not believe in the supernatural, an abstraction must be made of the revelation of Our Lord, of grace, of miracles—if you are dealing with atheists, do not speak to them of God, but put yourself onto their level, at their pitch; go into their system! By this means, you are going to become a Marxist-Christian: it will be they who will convert you!” (pp. 112-113).

    In the work of restoring Christian society, the Archbishop says in his book “A Bishop Speaks” (pp.70-71): “A Christian civilization has existed; we no longer have to invent one. It has existed: we have only to bring it back to life. We must not hesitate to rebuild society on Our Lord Jesus Christ. There is no other foundation for our morals, our personal life, our family life, and our public life.” And then the Archbishop warned: “We must build in a spirit of faith upheld by prayer. We must not be content with half-measures and ourselves take refuge in compromise. If we do not build on the rock of Catholicity, with our Lord Jesus Christ as the cornerstone, we shall begin to shuffle and find ourselves, with Liberalism and Neo-Modernism, at the gates of Communism.

    3. Cardinal Henry Manning of England writes, in 1861: “In the 15th century, the study and cultivation of classical literature excited in the minds of the leading men of European countries a sort of admiration, which I may call a worship, of the models of pagan antiquity, of its philosophy and its policy, of its patriots and of its public morality. That which is styled the Renaissance or the New Birth of the Christian world, profoundly infected the men of that day. This antichristian reaction has spread down to the present time. People were deceived into thinking that the Renaissance was the measure of all that is cultivated and civilized. This was the first step to the rejection of Christian civilization.

    “It introduced paganism into books, into language, into art, into education. On the testimony of multitudes of men, the education of Christian nations has been based and formed upon what is called classical literature. The examples, maxims, principles, the deeds, the crimes – personal, private and public – glorified in classical literature, have been taken in unconsciously by boys in their early education for these three hundred years. In Italy and France this is already bearing its fruit.” (See “Fourfold Sovereignty of God,” pp. 88-89).

    4. Note on the French Troubadours: One of the greatest forces that introduced paganism and immorality into medieval literature and poetry were the French troubadours.

    In the book “St. Ignatius of Loyola, the Pilgrim Years,” by James Brodrick, S.J., 1956, pp. 37-38, we read: “A huge tidal wave of romanticism flooded over Spain at the triumphant conclusion of the Moorish wars. It had long been gathering ever since, in the 12th and 13th centuries, Provençal troubadours, and trouvères from northern France, had wandered with their songs and tales along the famous road to Compostela. It was they who brought to Spain the legend of the Holy Grail, the whole Breton cycle of tales centering on King Arthur and his Round Table, and of course, the Chanson de Roland…

    “The troubadours did an immense disservice to social life and to religion by adding the element of gallantry to the old consecrated conception of chivalry, such as found in El Cid… The most deadly wound which the wandering minstrels inflicted on the older and nobler ideal of chivalry was their divinization of woman-in-the-abstract, and their exaltation of what they called courtly love. This has been well described as a gigantic system of bigamy, requiring every lady to have both a husband and a paramour, and every knight a goddess other than his wife, to be obeyed unhesitatingly no matter what she commanded, and upheld against all competitors.”

    The troubadours had a notable influence on the development of medieval literature, and were among the first promoters of medieval music in the vernacular. They lived in southern France and played in many of the courts in Provence and Languedoc – the land of the Gnostic Cathars and Albigensians. Their musical poetry recounted stories of chivalry and courtly love. Many songs were addressed to a married lover, perhaps because of the practice of “arranged marriages” at the time.
    The “courtly love” promoted by troubadours was actually contradictory, as it sought to reconcile sensual desire and spiritual attainment (due in part to the influence of the dualist philosophy of the Cathars). In the New World Encyclopedia, we read that courtly love is “a love at once illicit and morally elevating, passionate and self-disciplined, humiliating and exalting, human and transcendent.” And in the Encyclopedia Britannica, we read: “The courtly lover existed to serve his lady. His love was invariably adulterous, marriage at that time being usually the result of busi-ness interest or the seal of a power alliance. Ultimately, the lover saw himself as serving the all-powerful god of love and worshipping his lady-saint. Faithlessness was the mortal sin.”

    The troubadours were also instrumental in spreading the Gnostic errors of the Cathars and Albigensians. In “History of the Catholic Church” by Mourret-Thomp-son, Vol. 4, Nov. 22, 1940, we read: “Scattered in different sections of France and Italy, the neo-Manichaean heresy spread especially in Provence… The poetry of the troubadours, which in Provence was then a sort of prelude to the literary awakening of Europe, became its harmonious mouthpiece” (pp. 524), and, “The songs of the troubadours of Provence, which were destined later to awaken the lyrical genius of St. Francis of Assisi, were powerful instruments of propaganda for the heresy… Through the minstrel’s songs a hundred times repeated, as well as by the regular preachers of the sect, the people accepted the doctrine of the ‘double’ God” (p. 525).

    The style of the troubadours spread to northern France, where it inspired the trouvère movement. It also spread to Spain, Italy and Germany. They were dispersed from southern France during the Church’s crusade against the Albigensians (1209-1229).

    Some famous troubadours were Guillaume d’Aquitaine (1071-1127) and Arnaut Daniel (flourished 1180–1200). The most famous trouvère was Chrétien de Troyes, a late 12th century French poet famous for his stories on the Legend of King Arthur, and for creating the character Lancelot.

    *The Holy Office, in May 1927: Only ten years after the promulgation of the 1917 Code of Canon Law, “the Holy See has expressed deep concern on a number of occasions over the increase of licentious literature. The most important of these pronouncements is contained in the Instruction of the Holy Office on Sensual and Sensual-Mystic Literature of May 3, 1927, which has been prefixed to subsequent editions of the Roman Index. After decrying the damage to souls wrought by ‘liter-ature which exploits sensuality and lust, or even a certain lascivious mysticism,’ the instruction notes that ‘literary works, which exert so great an influence upon many, especially the young, would be able to afford innocent pleasure and even elevate the morals of the readers if only they kept within the bounds of decency’.” (see Sex in Contemporary Literature, 1960, by M. Joseph Costelloe, S.J., Ph.D.).

    *The 1948 Edition of the Church Index again speaks against Sensual-Mystic Literature in its Instruction>/i>, which is directed to “all archbishops, bishops and other church administrators throughout the world. It points out the dangers in current literature which exploit sensuality and obscenity under the guise of culture. Many of these works are in the form of romances which deny all moral standards and ‘the authors…do not hesitate to give to their sensuality the appearance of rectitude by blending it with sacred things’.” (See “What is the Index,” 1952, p. 48, by Redmond A. Burke, C.S.V., PhD).

    5. According to Catholic principles of moral theology, and the common teaching of the saints and Fathers of the Church, when it concerns sins against the 6th and 9th commandments, a person must resist and avoid temptations of impurity, not read or study sensual or immoral stories about them. The reason is because Man-kind is a fallen race, and by the wounds of original sin, all people have disordered inclinations towards sensual pleasure. As a consequence, a person becomes more attracted to temptations of impurity the more he thinks about the sensual object. It is the error of Naturalism to ignore or deny this.

    To heal the wounds of original sin, we must turn to God, Who in His infinite goodness and mercy, will always give us the grace we need to overcome sin and temptation, as long as we don’t willfully seek temptation by placing ourselves in the near occasion of sin. By the grace of Christ and the supernatural helps of the Church, such as frequent confession and Holy Communion, and by true devotion to Mary – especially by praying the daily rosary, wearing the scapular and making the five First Saturdays, the Catholic family will be protected against the evils of the modern world, and will be a reflection of the love of God for all to see.

    6. Traditional Catholic Moral Theology Manuals teach: (a) “Opposition to temptations of the flesh must be sufficient to remove the temptation, when the temptation is due to the continuance of one’s own sinful or unjustified act; for one is obliged to cease from sin or the unreasonable. This happens: (i) when the temptation is directly voluntary – for example, one who wishes to experience temptation and therefore reads a very seductive book must give over this reading; or (ii) when the temptation is not directly voluntary and is without sufficient reason – for example, one who experiences carnal temptation due to a book which he reads from idle curiosity must desist from the book. “

    (b) “Opposition to temptations of the flesh must be such as is sufficient to keep one from consent, that is, to protect one against the proximate danger of sin. That resistance is harmful which strengthens the temptation. Hence, resistance by direct attack or by formal rejection is oftentimes to be omitted in favor of resistance by flight or by contempt. It is a common teaching of the Fathers and Doctors, confirmed by experience, that dwelling on reasons and means of repelling passion often adds to its strength, and that resolving mightily and expressly to crush a weak and passing temptation often serves only to give it longer life.” (e.g., see “Manual of Moral Theology,” by McHugh O.P. and Callan O.P., 1958, p. 525, #2499 and #2500).

    IV. Encyclical of Pope Pius XI: “Christian Education of Youth,” Dec. 31, 1929

    (35) “By nature parents have a right to the training of their children, but with this added duty that the education and instruction of the child be in accord with the end for which by God’s blessing it was begotten. Therefore, it is the duty of parents to make every effort to prevent any invasion of their rights in this matter, and to make absolutely sure that the education of their children remain under their own control in keeping with their Christian duty, and above all to refuse to send them to those schools in which there is danger of imbibing the deadly poison of impiety.”

    (57) “Every Christian child or youth has a strict right to instruction in harmony with the teaching of the Church, the pillar and ground of truth. And whoever disturbs the pupil’s Faith in any way, does him grave wrong, inasmuch as he abuses the trust which children place in their teachers, and takes unfair advantage of their inexperi-ence and of their natural craving for unrestrained liberty, at once illusory and false.”

    (58) “It must never be forgotten that the subject of Christian education is man whole and entire, soul united to body in unity of nature, with all his faculties natural and supernatural, such as right reason and revelation show him to be; man, therefore, fallen from his original estate, but redeemed by Christ and restored to the supernat-ural condition of adopted son of God, though without the preternatural privileges of bodily immortality or perfect control of appetite. There remain therefore, in human nature the effects of original sin, the chief of which are weakness of will and disor-derly inclinations.”

    (60) “Every form of pedagogic naturalism which in any way excludes or weakens supernatural Christian formation in the teaching of youth, is false. Every method of education founded, wholly or in part, on the denial or forgetfulness of original sin and of grace, and relying on the sole powers of human nature, is un-sound.”

    (65) “Another very grave danger is that naturalism which nowadays invades the field of education in that most delicate matter of purity of morals. Far too common is the error of those who, with dangerous assurance [and under an ugly term propagate a so-called sex-education], falsely imagining they can forearm youths against the dangers of sensuality by means purely natural, such as a foolhardy initi-ation and precautionary instruction for all indiscriminately, even in public; and, worse still, by exposing them at an early age to the occasions, in order to accustom them, so it is argued, and as it were to harden them against such dangers.”

    (66) “Such persons grievously err in refusing to recognize the inborn weakness of human nature, and the law of which the Apostle speaks, fighting against the law of the mind; and also in ignoring the experience of facts, from which it is clear that, particularly in young people, evil practices are the effect not so much of ignorance of intellect as of weakness of a will exposed to dangerous occasions, and unsup-ported by the means of grace.”

    (67) “Such is our misery and inclination to sin, that often in the very things considered to be remedies against sin, we find occasions for and inducements to sin itself. Hence it is of the highest importance that a good father, while discussing with his son a matter so delicate, should be well on his guard and not descend to details, nor refer to the various ways in which this infernal hydra destroys with its poison so large a portion of the world; otherwise it may happen that instead of extinguishing this fire, he unwittingly stirs or kindles it in the simple and tender heart of the child. Speaking generally, during the period of childhood it suffices to employ those remedies which produce the double effect of opening the door to the virtue of purity and closing the door upon vice.”

    (80) “For the mere fact that a school gives some religious instruction (often extremely stinted), does not bring it into accord with the rights of the Church and of the Christian family, or make it a fit place for Catholic students. To be this, it is necessary that all the teaching and the whole organization of the school, and its teachers, syllabus and text-books in every branch, be regulated by the Christian spirit, under the direction and maternal supervision of the Church; so that Religion may be in very truth the foundation and crown of the youth’s entire training; and this in every grade of school, not only the elementary, but the intermediate and the higher institutions of learning as well.

    “To use the words of Leo XIII: ‘It is necessary not only that religious instruction be given to the young at certain fixed times, but also that every other subject taught, be permeated with Christian piety. If this is wanting, if this sacred atmosphere does not pervade and warm the hearts of masters and scholars alike, little good can be expected from any kind of learning, and considerable harm will often be the consequence’.”

    (86) “And if, when occasion arises, it be deemed necessary to have the students read authors propounding false doctrine, for the purpose of refuting it, this will be done after due preparation and with such an antidote of sound doctrine, that it will not only do no harm, but will be an aid to the Christian formation of youth.”

    (87) “Greater stress must be laid on the employment of apt and solid methods of teaching, and, what is still more important, on bringing into full conformity with the Catholic faith, what is taught in literature, in the sciences, and above all in philosophy, on which depends in great part the right orientation of the other branches of knowledge.”

    (88) “Perfect schools are the result not so much of good methods as of good teachers, teachers who are thoroughly prepared and well-grounded in the matter they have to teach; who possess the intellectual and moral qualifications required by their important office; who cherish a pure and holy love for the youths confided to them, because they love Jesus Christ and His Church, of which these are the children of predilection; and who have therefore sincerely at heart the true good of family and country.”

    (91) “Worthy of all praise and encouragement therefore are those educational associations which have for their object to point out to parents and educators, by means of suitable books and periodicals, the dangers to morals and religion that are often cunningly disguised in books and theatrical representations. In their spirit of zeal for the souls of the young, they endeavor at the same time to circulate good literature and to promote plays that are really instructive, going so far as to put up at the cost of great sacrifices, theaters and cinemas, in which virtue will have nothing to suffer and much to gain.”

    (92) “This necessary vigilance does not demand that young people be removed from the society in which they must live and save their souls; but that today more than ever they should be forewarned and forearmed as Christians against the seduc-tions and the errors of the world, which, as Holy Writ admonishes us, is all “concupiscence of the flesh, concupiscence of the eyes and pride of life.”

    V. Additional Citations from the Church and Saints:

    1) The Council of Trent says: “Ancient books, however, that were written by pagans are allowed on account of the elegance and perfection of their style, but on no account are they to be read by youths.” (See “Tridentine Index, 1564, 7th Rule” on Forbidden Books).

    Also, in the Catechism of the Council of Trent, we read: “Next to the sexual excitement, usually provoked by too studied an elegance of dress, follows another, which is indecent and obscene conversation. Obscene language is a torch which lights up the worst passions of the young mind; and the Apostle has said, that evil communications corrupt good manners. Immodest and passionate songs and dances are most productive of this same effect and are, therefore, cautiously to be avoided. “In the same class are to be numbered soft and obscene books which must be avoided no less than indecent pictures. All such things possess a fatal influence in exciting to unlawful attractions, and in inflaming the mind of youth. In these matters the pastor should take special pains to see that the faithful most carefully observe the pious and prudent regulations of the Council of Trent.”

    2) Pope Leo XIII: “Classical works of ancient or more recent authors, if they are infected with this stain of turpitude, on account of the elegance and perfection of their style are permitted only to those who are excused by reason of their office or teaching; but on no account are they to be given to youths or young men to translate or read unless they have been carefully expurgated” (in his Apostolic Constitution “Officiorum ac Munerum”, Jan. 25, 1897).

    3) Pope Pius XII, in his Aug. 7, 1940 Address to Newly Married Couples, gave this example: “‘I am no longer a child,’ a young lady will explain, ‘and I know life, and have therefore the wish and the right to know it still better.’ But does not the poor girl realize that her talk is like that of Eve when confronted with the forbidden fruit? And does she think that to know, love, and enjoy life it is necessary to investigate all its abuses and ugliness? ‘I am no longer a child,’ a young man also will say, ‘and at my age, sensual descriptions and voluptuous scenes have no effect.’ Is he sure? If it should be true, it would be an indication of an unconscious perversion, the result of bad reading already indulged . . . The danger of bad reading is, under some aspects even worse than that of evil companions, because it can make itself more treacherously familiar.”

    4) St. Clement of Alexandria: “It is imperative that we neither listen to nor look at nor talk about obscene things . . . Writings that treat of evil deeds must be considered indecent talk, such as the description of adultery or pederasty or similar things” (in “Paedagogus” 2.6).

    5) St. Bernard of Clairvaux: “To preserve chastity and at the same time to expose oneself to the proximate occasion of sin, is a greater miracle than to raise a dead man to life.” (See St. Alphonsus Liguori, Sermon for the 1st Sunday after Easter).

    6) St. Thomas Aquinas, in his commentary on Eccl. 3:27: “A stubborn heart shall fare evil at the last; and he that loveth danger shall perish therein,” says: “When we expose ourselves to danger, God abandons us.”

    7) St. Philip Neri: “In the war against the vice of impurity, the victory is gained by cowards—that is, by those who fly from the occasions of this sin. But the man who exposes himself to it, arms his flesh and renders it so powerful, that it will be morally impossible for him to resist its attacks.” (See St. Alphonsus Liguori, Sermon for the 1st Sunday after Easter).

    8) St. Alphonsus Liguori, in his Sermon on the 1st Sunday after Easter, declares: (a) “When a dangerous occasion is present, it violently excites our corrupt desires, so that it is then very difficult to resist them: because God withholds efficacious helps from those who voluntarily expose themselves to the occasions of sin;” (b) “When the occasion in which we are placed is really necessary, the Lord always helps us to avoid sin; but we sometimes imagine certain necessities which are not sufficient to excuse us;” (c) “Being compelled by exorcisms to tell the sermons which displeased him the most, the Devil confessed that it was the sermon on avoiding the occasions of sin.”
    Ad Majorem Dei Gloriam

    April 2, 2016 at 12:29 pm
    • editor


      I’ve now read the pamphlet – Phew!

      It’s great. I am hoping to re-publish it in the newsletter, assuming (cheekily) Fr DeLallo’s permission.

      I highlighted the following passage only, out of the many I would like to consider here:

      However, with regard to literary stories that praise virtue and condemn vice, the Church has always warned against reading any literature that would be an occasion of sin. Consequently, it is not allowed to read literature that contains texts which illustrate or describe scenes of sensuality or moral depravity, or which relate various details of sins of impurity. According to the Church and all the saints, it would be serious sin to place oneself in the near occasion of sins of impurity.

      If only priests would say this sort of thing in their sermons. I have, for years now, been frustrated to hear what amounts to an A Level (Higher in Scotland) lesson in Scripture, and not much more. There may be the occasional nugget of applying the readings to daily life, linking with Catholic doctrine and morals, but all too often priests offer merely a lesson on what this or that meant in the first century, when the Scriptures were written, instead of linking with Catholic teaching to preach about how to apply the Faith/Morals to our lives today. I remember one mother telling me she was shocked to discover that her young son has accessed impure pictures on his computer. He did know that it was wrong, he admitted, but no thanks to anything he’s heard in his parish church. I sympathised and said I wish I could say it was different in traditional chapels, but I’m afraid that is not the case – at least not in the 10 or so years that I’ve been attending regularly. I suspect priests may be reluctant to preach on the subject due to the criticisms of pre-Vatican II sermons focusing too much on purity (I disagree and am thankful for the strong sermons on purity that we had from time to time) and/or because of the priest-scandals in the post-Vatican II era. Whatever, it’s a real shame because – as the Little Flower pointed out when she accepted the office of novice mistress – it is in teaching others (and preaching to others) that we learn ourselves.

      Young people especially, need to hear from priests (not just parents, and if they’re lucky, a sound teacher) what it means to live the Faith in practice. I’ve actually seen a young person become alert, sit up and look across at the priest when he DOES hit a nail on the head, mention a practical virtue to be cultivated and give a contemporary context. But it doesn’t happen often enough.

      Anyway, moan (intended to be constructive criticism!) over – that is an excellent pamphlet and I am sure others will benefit, too, from reading it.

      April 2, 2016 at 7:09 pm
      • RCA Victor


        I hope you have better luck contacting Fr. DeLallo than I did last summer. I emailed the parish office where he was staying to get his permission to re-publish one of his books (“The Sword of Christendom”), but never received a reply. Maybe I should have put “Editor” after my name!

        April 3, 2016 at 12:29 am
      • Athanasius

        RCA Victor

        I think you must have used an incorrect email address, or possibly your message wasn’t passed on. I know for certain that Fr. DeLallo would never be that rude.

        If you like you can pass your email address to me via editor and I’ll forward it directly to Fr. DeLallo with an explanation. I assure you he will respond. How does that sound?

        April 3, 2016 at 1:05 am
      • RCA Victor


        Many thanks, I’ve just emailed Editor to ask her to forward my address to you, but see the content of the email regarding the book.

        April 3, 2016 at 11:16 pm
      • editor

        RCA Victor/Athanasius,

        Done and dusted! Email forwarded as requested.

        Catholic Truth at your service!

        April 3, 2016 at 11:46 pm
      • Athanasius


        “Catholic Truth at your service!”

        Excellent! I’ll have two bacon rolls and a nice big mug of sweat tea, please!

        April 4, 2016 at 12:22 am
      • editor


        Kettle on, but is “sweat tea” a typo, or a rather UN-subtle way of reminding us all how hard you work on this blog? 😀

        April 4, 2016 at 12:26 am
      • Athanasius


        I am becoming more convinced by the day that dyslexia or some such thing is taking hold on me. Or, maybe I just type too fast and don’t proof read before posting.

        The sweat in my tea I can live without, thank you.

        April 4, 2016 at 12:30 am
      • Athanasius

        RCA Victor

        Thank you, I received your message and email address from editor. It was a pleasant surprise!

        April 4, 2016 at 12:20 am
  • Athanasius


    Thank you for taking the time to read and comment on Father’s excellent work. You may rest assured that he will not object to your publishing all or parts of it in the newsletter. The more Catholics who read and digest this sound Catholic teaching the better. As you rightly say, we don’t hear it often enough these days.

    April 2, 2016 at 11:55 pm
  • Athanasius


    I should have stated earlier that Fr. DeLallo wrote the booklet in his capacity as SSPX Third Order Chaplain in Post Falls, Idaho.

    April 3, 2016 at 1:11 am
  • editor

    Because there are too many replies to Fr Arthur above, beyond the limit permitted, I am going to respond to each of his latest comments IN his comments, so please read his latest comments, posted today, and note my comments in bold at the end.

    It’s the only possible way to make sure his nonsense today is answered. If I’m interrupted and can’t manage to answer them all in one go, I’ll do so later, so don’t give up hope!

    April 3, 2016 at 6:24 pm
    • Fr Arthur

      I can’t wait.

      April 3, 2016 at 6:40 pm
      • Christina

        Comments are so mixed up by now that it’s hard to follow, but I’d still like to hear what Father Arthur thinks of Cardinal Schonborn’s balloon Mass and illicit matter.

        April 3, 2016 at 11:58 pm
  • Athanasius

    Fr. Arthur

    While editor gets on with her task, I’ve commented on a couple of your posts. Let’s see what you can come up with in response. I’ll bet that whatever it is it won’t have any Magisterial teaching to back it up.

    April 3, 2016 at 7:47 pm
  • RCA Victor


    It took me a little time to wade through all these comments made in the past couple of days, but I was a bit surprised to see you had asked Elizabeth whose comments were more convincing, Fr. Arthur or the rest of the bloggers.

    I was surprised because Fr. Arthur has no argument whatsoever until March 31st at 6:52 pm, when he finally says: “I think it should be recalled that an Encyclical is not an infallible statement…” and then immediately contradicts himself by saying “…Its author must intend, and clearly, express explicitly that it is intended as an ex-cathedra statement exercising their Supreme Authority.” In other words, an Encyclical may indeed be infallible, as Editor

    To that point (March 31) and in later posts appearing beforehand, instead of a coherent argument, he uses his usual tactic of cherry-picking statements out of context, trying to twist their meaning, and offering up all manner of straw man and red herring items in order to evade the point.

    Other bloggers have already addressed his blatant error on the evolution of dogma, his scandalous dismissal of the Oath Against Modernism, and his complete lack of understanding (and therefore dismissal of) this error of Modernism: “absurd tenet of the Modernists, that every religion, according to the different aspect under which it is viewed, must be considered as both natural and supernatural. It is thus that they make consciousness and revelation synonymous.”

    But he also attempts to dismiss Pascendi on this basis: “We must recognised (sic) that any leader, even a Pope, can wander down a path not too dissimilar to the “Reds under the beds” scare experienced in civil society. There can indeed a kind of spiritual paranoia, and an abandonment of trust in Divine Providence, and the unerring nature of The Universal Church.”

    So Pius X, and all the great Popes before him who condemned the fatal errors spreading in and around the Church, were not defending the Church and the Faith at all, they were just suffering from a “kind of spiritual paranoia and an abandonment of trust in Divine Providence etc.”!! That is, they should have simply said or written nothing, recollected themselves, and trusted God to take care of the problems!

    One wonders to what depths this priest will stoop in order to evade Tradition, evade Truth, evade logic – all in order to maintain his loyalty to the shallow personality cult of the modern Papacy.

    April 3, 2016 at 11:51 pm
    • Christina

      RCA Victor,

      “We must recognised (sic) that any leader, even a Pope, can wander down a path not too dissimilar to the “Reds under the beds” scare experienced in civil society. There can indeed a kind of spiritual paranoia, and an abandonment of trust in Divine Providence, and the unerring nature of The Universal Church.”😡

      As long as you don’t for one moment think that that could apply to ‘Laudato si’.

      April 4, 2016 at 12:09 am
    • editor

      RCA Victor

      Well said.

      However, I’m surprised that you are surprised at my question to Elizabeth, so allow me to explain…

      I’d had a conversation with a reader by phone, who said she was a bit surprised at the calls from so many bloggers to ban Fr Arthur because she thinks he is proving to be a GREAT asset, a real teaching tool. This because – she insisted – any person of average intelligence, even without a lot of knowledge of the Faith, even never having read Pascendi, would be able to see the truth of the infallibility of the encyclical (and other topics covered) because Fr Arthur’s comments are clearly not Catholic (as you’ve so helpfully highlighted yourself) and the responses from our regular bloggers were just as clearly thoroughly Catholic.

      Thus, when Elizabeth – so soon after the above telephone conversation – mentioned that she had never read Pascendi before, I saw it as a first class opportunity to test the telephone-reader’s theory.

      And, as you will have seen by Elizabeth’s response, said reader was spot on. Elizabeth came to the considered view that Fr Arthur is wrong about Pascendi not being infallible, while she found the “pro-Pascendi” comments to be convincing.

      As to your concluding reflection, we’ll have to wait until the Exhortation is published on Friday, 8th April – assuming (I hope wrongly) that the “Kasper Camp” have won the day and the Exhortation is unacceptable to the truly Catholic mind, in order to really know the answer to that question. So, hold that thought! Say nothing more about it, until all is revealed on Friday.

      Am I now forgiven for asking Elizabeth the question – or do you want blood?

      April 4, 2016 at 12:39 am
  • RCA Victor

    (strike the words “as Editor: at end of para. 2 – don’t know how that got in there!

    April 3, 2016 at 11:53 pm
    • Athanasius

      RCA Victor

      Maybe divine providence is telling us through you that editor is infallible!!

      April 4, 2016 at 12:27 am
      • editor

        Love it! Won’t strike “as Editor” RCA Victor – I do believe it’s a message from on high 😀

        Me? Infallible? Well, since I’ve long realised that, while I might not always be right, I’m never wrong, there may be something in that theory, Athanasius – hold that thought!

        April 4, 2016 at 12:41 am
      • RCA Victor

        Athanasius and Editor,

        Wow, I always wanted to be a channel of something!

        April 4, 2016 at 3:48 pm
  • RCA Victor


    Sigh, I suppose all is forgiven.

    But seriously, your phone caller anticipated my next post, in which I was going to say that, in a certain perverse way, it is a good thing that this priest has burdened the blog with his modernist presence. I say that because he is a clear reference point, a veritable poster boy for the intellectual dishonesty and arrogant contempt for Tradition that is the hallmark of Modernism. Yes, a poster boy for the Vatican II revolution; for the new religion it inaugurated, and which, step by stealthy step, has been obscuring and replacing the real Catholic Faith ever since (to the point where its enablers no longer feel the need to be stealthy, having elected their man, Pope Francis, a bull in a china shop, to the Papacy); a poster boy for Pope-worship; a poster boy for kneeling before the Golden Calf of human respect; a poster boy for religious indifference; and most of all a poster boy for the denial of reality, both natural and supernatural.

    At one point I was going to suggest to him that he abandon the priesthood and become a Lutheran minister, but really, there is no need, since (a) his hero Pope Francis is busily embracing the disease of Lutheranism as fast as his inner itch will take him, to the point where I have to wonder whether he will actually, during the course of 2017, pronounce Lutheranism to be a superior form of Catholicism, and (b) the new religion he, Fr. Arthur, represents already has more in common with Lutheranism than with Catholicism anyway.

    So you just stay where you are, Fr. Arthur, on the spiritual and moral high ground you imagine you occupy, and thank you for distilling the lesson of the crisis in the Church down to its simplest form: NON SERVIAM.

    April 4, 2016 at 4:09 pm

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