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§ 30. The Papal Syllabus, A.D. 1864.


The Enyclica and Syllabus of Dec. 8, 1864, are published in Pii IX. Epistola encycl., etc., Regensb. 1865; in Officielle Actenstücke zu dem v. Pius IX. nach Rom. berufenen Oekum. Concil, Berlin, 1869, pp. 1–35, in Acta et Decreta S. œcum. Conc. Vatic. Frib. 1871, Pt. I. pp. 1–21, etc.

J. Tosi (R.C.): Vorlesungen über den Syllabus errorum der päpstl. Encyclica, Wien, 1865 (251 pp.).

J. Hergenröther (R.C.): Die Irrthümer der Neuzeit gerichtet durch den heil. Stuhl, 1865.

Beleuchtung der päpstlichen Encyclica v. 8 Dec. 1864, und das Verzeichniss der modernen Irrthümer (by a R.C.), Leipz. 1865.

Die Encyclica Papst Pius IX. vom 8 Dec. 1864. Stimmen aus Maria-Laach (R.C.), Freib. 1866–69. (By Riess, Schneemann, and others.)

Der Papst und die modernen Ideen (R.C.), several numbers, Wien, 1865–67. [By Cl. Schrader, a Jesuit.]

C. Pronier (Prof. of the Free Theol. Sem. at Geneva, 1873): La liberté: religieuse et le Syllabus, Genève, 1870.

W. E. Gladstone: The Vatican Decrees: a Political Expostulation, London and New York, 1874; Vaticanism, 1875. Comp. the Roman Catholic Replies of Monsign. Capel, J. H. Newman, and Archbishop Manning in defense of the Vatican Decrees; see below, § 31.

On the 8th of December, 1864, just ten years after the proclamation of the sinlessness of the Virgin Mary, Pope Pius IX. issued an encyclical letter 'Quanta cura,' denouncing certain dangerous heresies and errors of the age, which threatened to undermine the foundations of the Catholic religion and of civil society, and exhorting the Bishops to counteract these errors, and to teach that 'kingdoms rest on the foundation of the Catholic faith;' that it is the chief duty of civil government 'to protect the Church;' that 'nothing is more advantageous and glorious for rulers of States than to give free scope to the Catholic Church, and not to allow any encroachment upon her liberty.'245245   These and similar sentences are inserted from letters of mediæval Popes, who from their theocratic stand-point claimed supreme jurisdiction over the states and princes of Europe. Popes, like the Stuarts and the Bourbons, never forget and never learn any thing. In the same letter the Pope offers to all the faithful a complete indulgence 129for one month during the year 1865,246246   . . . 'plenariam indulgentiam ad instar jubilæi concedimus intra unius tantum mensis spatium usque ad totum futurum annum 1865 et non ultra.' and expresses, in conclusion, his unbounded confidence in the intercession of the immaculate and most holy Mother of God, who has destroyed all the heresies in the whole world, and who, being seated as queen at the right hand of her only begotten Son, can secure any thing she asks from him.247247   'Quo vero facilius Deus Nostris, Vestrisque, et omnium fidelium precibus, votisque annuat, cum omni fiducia deprecatricem apud Eum adhibeamus Immaculatam Sanctissimamque Deiparam Virginem Mariam, quæ cunctas hereses interemit in universo mundo, quæque omnium nostrum amantissima Mater "tota suavis est . . . ac plena misericordiæ . . . omnibus sese exorabilem, omnibus clementissimam prœbet, omnium necessitates amplissimo quodam miseratur affectu" [quoted from St. Bernard], atque utpote Regina adstans a dextris Unigeniti Filii Sui, Domini Nostri Jesu Christi, in vestitu deaurato circumamicta varietate, nihil est quod ab Eo impetrare non valeat. Suffragia quoque petamus Beatissimi Petri Apostolorum Principis, et Coapostoli ejus Pauli, omniumque Sanctorum Cœlitum, qui facti jam amici Dei pervenerunt ad cœlestia regna, et coronati possident palmam, ac de sua immortalitate securi, de nostra sunt salute solliciti.'

To this characteristic Encyclical is added the so-called Syllabus, i.e., a catalogue of eighty errors of the age, which had been previously pointed out by Pius IX. in Consistorial Allocutions, Encyclical and other Apostolic Letters, but are here conveniently brought together, and were transmitted by Cardinal Antonelli to all the Bishops of the Roman Catholic Church.

This extraordinary document presents a strange mixture of truth and error. It is a protest against atheism, materialism, and other forms of infidelity which every Christian must abhor; but it is also a declaration of war against modern civilization and the course of history for the last three hundred years. Like the papal bulls against the Jansenists, it is purely negative, but it implies the assertion of doctrines the very opposite to those which are rejected as errors.248248   A learned Jesuit, Clemens Schrader, translated them into a positive form. It expressly condemns religious and civil liberty, the separation of Church and State; and indirectly it asserts the Infallibility of the Pope, the exclusive right of Romanism to recognition by the State, the unlawfulness of all non-Catholic religions, the complete independence of the Roman hierarchy from the civil government (yet without allowing, a separation), the power of the Church to coerce and enforce, and its supreme control over public education, science, and literature.

The number of errors was no doubt suggested by the example of Epiphanius, the venerable father of heresy-hunters (d. 403), who, in 130his Panarion, or Medicine-Chest, furnishes antidotes for the poison of no less than eighty heresies (including twenty before Christ), probably with a mystic reference to the octoginta concubinæ in the Song of Solomon (vi. 8).

The Pope divides the eighty errors of the nineteenth century into ten sections, as follows:

I. Pantheism, Naturalism, and Absolute Rationalism, No. 1–7.

Under this head are condemned the following errors:

(1.) The denial of the existence of God.

(2.) The denial of his revelation.

(3 and 4.) The sufficiency of human reason to enlighten and to guide men.

(5.) Divine revelation is imperfect, and subject to indefinite progress.

(6.) The Christian faith contradicts human reason, and is an obstacle to progress.

(7.) The prophecies and miracles of the Bible are poetic fictions, and Jesus himself is a myth.249249   'Jesus Christus est mythica fictio.' I am not aware that any sane infidel has ever gone so far. Strauss and Renan resolve the miracles of the gospel history into myths or legends, but admit the historical existence and extraordinary character of Jesus, as the greatest religions genius who ever lived.

II. Moderate Rationalism, No. 8–14.

Among these errors are:

(12.) The decrees of the Roman See hinder the progress of science.

(13.) The scholastic method of theology is unsuited to our age.250250   No. 13. 'Methodus et principia, quibus antiqui Doctores scholastici theologiam excoluerunt, temporum nostrorum necessitatibus scientiarumque progressui minime congruunt.'

(14.) Philosophy must be treated without regard to revelation.

III. Indifferentism, Latitudinarianism, No. 15–18.

(15.) Every man may embrace and profess that religion which commends itself to his reason.251251   No. 15. 'Liberum cuique homini est eam amplecti ac profiteri religionem, quam rationis lumine quis ductus veram putaverit.'

(16.) Men may be saved under any religion.252252   No. 16. 'Homines in cujusvis religionis cultu viam æternæ salutis reperire æternamque salutem assequi possunt.'

(17.) We may at least be hopeful concerning the eternal salvation of all non-Catholics.253253   No. 17. 'Saltem bene sperandum est de æterna illorum omnium salute, qui in vera Christi Ecclesia nequaquam versantur.'

131(18.) Protestantism is only a different form of the same Christian religion, in which we may please God as well as in the Catholic Church.254254   No. 18. 'Protestantismus non aliud est quam diversa veræ ejusdem christianæ religionis forma, in qua æque ac in Ecclesia catholica Deo placere datum est.'

IV. Socialism, Communism, Secret Societies, Bible Societies, Clerico-Liberal Societies.

Under this head there are no specifications, but the reader is referred to previous Encyclicals of 1848, 1849, 1854, 1863, in which 'ejusmodi pestes sæpe gravissimisque verborum formulis reprobantur.' The Bible Societies, therefore, are put on a par with socialism and communism, as pestilential errors worthy of the severest reprobation!

V. Errors respecting the Church and her Rights.

Twenty errors (19–38), such as these: the Church is subject to the State; the Church has no right to exercise her authority without the leave and assent of the State; the Church has not the power to define dogmatically that the religion of the Catholic Church is the only true religion; Roman Pontiffs and œcumenical Councils have exceeded the limits of their power, usurped the rights of princes, and have erred even in matters of faith and morals;255255   No. 23. 'Romani pontifices et concilia œcumenica a limitibus suæ potestatis recesserunt, jura principum usurparunt, atque etiam in rebus fidei et morum definiendis errarunt.' the Church has no power to avail herself of force, or any temporal power, direct or indirect;256256   No. 24. 'Ecclesia vis inferendæ potestatem non habet, neque potestatem ullam temporalem directam vel indirectam.' besides the inherent power of the Episcopate, there is another temporal power conceded expressly or tacitly by the civil government, which may be revoked by the same at its pleasure; it does not exclusively belong to the jurisdiction of the Church to direct the teaching of theology; nothing forbids a general council, or the will of the people, to transfer the supreme Pontiff from Rome to some other city; national Churches, independent of the authority of the Roman Pontiff, may be established;257257   No. 37. 'Institui possunt nationales Ecclesiæ ab auctoritate Romani Pontificis subductæ planeque divisæ.' the Roman Pontiffs have contributed to the Greek schism.258258   No. 38. 'Divisioni ecclesiæ in orientalem atque occidentalem nimia Romanorum Pontificum arbitria contulerunt.'

VI. Errors concerning Civil Society, considered as well in itself as in its relations to the Church. Seventeen errors (39–55).

132(44.) 'Civil authority may meddle in things pertaining to religion, morals, and the spiritual government.'

(45.) 'The whole government of public schools, in which the youth of a Christian commonwealth is trained, with the exception of some Episcopal seminaries, can and must be assigned to the civil authority.'259259   No. 45. 'Totum scholarum publicarum regimen, in quibus juventus christianæ alicujus Reipublicæ instituitur, episcopalibus dumtaxat seminariis aliqua ratione exceptis, potest ac debet attribui auctoritati civili,' etc. Compare Nos. 47 and 48. Hence the irreconcilable hostility of the Romish clergy to public schools, especially where the Protestant Bible is read.

(46.) 'The method of study even in the seminaries of the clergy is subject to the civil authority.'

(52.) 'The lay government has the right to depose Bishops from the exercise of pastoral functions, and is not bound to obey the Roman Pontiff in those things which pertain to the institution of bishoprics and bishops.'

(55.) 'The Church is to be separated from the State, and the State from the Church.'260260   No. 55. 'Ecclesia a Statu, Statusque ab Ecclesia sejungendus est.' Compare Alloc. Acerbissimum 27 Sept. 1852.

VII. Errors in Natural and Christian Ethics, No. 56–64. Here among other things are condemned the principle of non-intervention, and rebellion against legitimate princes.

VIII. Errors on Christian Matrimony, No. 65–74.

Here the Pope condemns not only loose views on marriage and divorce, but also civil marriage, and any theory which does not admit it to be a sacrament.261261   No. 73. 'Vi contractus mere civilis potest inter Christianos constare veri nominis matrimonium; falsumque est, aut contractum matrimonii inter Christianos semper esse sacramentum, aut nullum esse contractum, si sacramentum excludatur.'

IX. Errors regarding the Civil Principality of the Roman Pontiff, No. 75, 76.

(75.) Concerning the compatibility of the temporal reign with the spiritual, there is a difference of opinion among the sons of the Christian and Catholic Church.

(76.) The abrogation of the civil government of the Apostolic See would be conducive to the liberty and welfare of the Church.

X. Errors referring to Modern Liberalism, No. 77–80.

Under this head are condemned the principles of religious liberty as 133they have come to prevail in the most enlightened States of Christendom. The Pope still holds that it is right to forbid and exclude all religions but his own, where he has the power to do so (as he had and exercised in Rome before 1870); and he refuses to make any terms with modern civilization.262262   (77.) 'Ætate hoc nostra non amplius expedit, religionem catholicam haberi tamquam unicam status religionem, ceteris quibuscumque cultibus exclusis.'
   (78.) 'Hinc laudabiliter in quibusdam catholici nominis regionibus lege cautum est, ut hominibus illuc immigrantibus liceat publicum proprii cujusque cultus exercitium habere.'

   (79.) 'Enimvero falsum est, civilem cujusque cultus libertatem, itemque plenam potestatem omnibus attributam quaslibet opiniones cogitationesque palam publiceque manifestandi conducere ad populorum mores animosque facilius corrumpendos ac indifferentismi pestem propagandam.'

   (80.) 'Romanus Pontifex potest ac debet cum progressu, cum liberalismo et cum recenti civilitate sese reconciliare et componere.'

The Syllabus, though resting solely on the authority of the Pope, must be regarded as an integral portion of the Roman Creed; the Pope having since been declared infallible in his official utterances. The most objectionable as well as the least objectionable parts of it have been formally sanctioned by the Vatican Council. The rest may be similarly sanctioned hereafter. The Syllabus expresses the genuine spirit of Popery, to which may be applied the dictum of the General of the Jesuits: 'Aut sit ut est, aut non sit.' It can not change without destroying itself.

In the mean time the politico-ecclesiastical doctrines of the Syllabus, together with the Infallibility decree, have provoked a new conflict between the Pope and the Emperor. Pius IX. looks upon the State with the same proud contempt as Gregory VII. 'Persecution of the Church,' he said after the recent expulsion of the Jesuits (1872), 'is folly: a little stone [Dan. ii. 45] will break the colossus [of the new German empire] to pieces.' But Bismarck, who is made of sterner stuff than Henry IV., protests: 'We shall not go to Canossa.'

American Protestants and European Free Churchmen reject all interference of the civil government with the liberty and internal affairs of the Church as much as the Pope, but they do this on the basis of a peaceful separation of Church and State, and an equality of all forms of Christianity before the law; while the Syllabus claims absolute freedom and independence exclusively for the Roman hierarchy, and claims this even in those countries where the State supports the Church, and 134has therefore a right to a share in its government.

[The Syllabus of Pius IX. was substantially confirmed by Leo XIII., Nov. 1, 1885, June 1, 1889, and Feb. 1, 1890, and Pius XI. in pascendi gregis, 1907. It is pronounced infallible by Lehmkuhl, Theol. Mor., II., 780, Straub, de eccles., II., 398–402, and Leitner, Hdbuch. des kath. Kirchenrechts, 2nd ed., p. 15. Other documents pronounced by Lehmkuhl, II., 726–88, infallible, are Leo X.'s bull against Luther, 1520, Innocent X.'s against Jansen, Innocent XI.'s against the Laxists, etc.—Ed.]


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