The Catholic Counter-Reformation in the 21st Century
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The Catholic Counter-Reformation in the 21st Century


N° 141 – July 2014

Director : Brother Bruno Bonnet‑Eymard


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

Pius X, Pope.

“ Venerable Brethren, Health and Apostolic Benediction.

“ 1. The office divinely committed to Us of feeding the Lord’s flock has especially this duty assigned to it by Christ, namely, to guard with the greatest vigilance the deposit of the Faith delivered to the saints, rejecting the profane novelties of words and oppositions of knowledge falsely so called. ”

Starting with this first paragraph of the encyclical whereby he condemned Modernism, on September 8, 1907, St. Pius X disapproved in advance the Opening Address of the Second Vatican Council in which John XXIII gave legitimacy to the “ profane novelties of words ” in the Church on October 11, 1962, by stating straightaway  : “ For, the deposit of Faith, namely the truths that our venerable (sic  !) doctrine contains is one thing, and the way in which it is presented is another, preserving nevertheless the same meaning and the same import. ” How can we be surprised to see the ensuing invasion, namely all the heresies that accumulated in the Church through what St. Pius X referred to as their “ sewer main ”  : Modernism.

“ 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 ’(Ac 20  :30), ‘ vain talkers and seducers ’(Tt 1  :10), ‘ erring and driving into error ’(2 Tm 3  :13). Still it must be confessed that these latter days the number of the enemies of the Cross of Jesus Christ has increased exceedingly, who are striving, by arts, entirely new and full of deceit, to destroy the vital energy of the Church, and, if they can, to overthrow utterly the very Kingdom of Christ. ”

The appositeness of this observation no longer needs to be demonstrated, neither does the urgency of the conclusion that the holy Pope draws  :

“ Wherefore We may no longer keep silent, 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 attributed tolack of diligence in the discharge ofOur office.

“ 2. That We make no delay in this matter is rendered necessary especially by the fact that the partisans of error are to be sought not only among the Church’s open enemies ; they lie hid, a thing to be deeply deplored and feared, in her very bosom and heart, and are the more mischievous, the less conspicuously they appear. We allude, Venerable Brethren, to many who belong to the Catholic laity, nay, and this is far more lamentable, to the ranks of the priesthood itself, who, feigning a love for the Church, lacking the firm protection of philosophy and theology, nay more, thoroughly imbued with the poisonous doctrines taught by the enemies of the Catholic Faith, and lost to all sense of modesty, vaunt themselves 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 daring, they reduce to a simple, mere man.

“ 3. Though they express astonishment themselves, no one can justly be surprised that We number such men among the enemies of the Church if, leaving out of consideration the internal disposition of soul, of which God alone is the Judge, he considers their tenets, their manner of speech and their conduct. Nor indeed will he err in accounting them the most pernicious of all the adversaries of the Church. For, as We have said, they put their designs for her ruin into operation 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, the more intimate is their knowledge of her.

“ 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. After having struck at this root of immortality, they proceed to disseminate poison through the whole tree, so that there is no part of the Catholic Faith that they leave untouched, none that they do not strive to corrupt. ”

This is the universal character of today’s “ reform of the Church ” that the Second Vatican Council undertook  : all the dogmas, all the rite, all the Rules and customs of all the religious orders are struck. The great Catholic City is “ half in ruin, ” as Our Lady of Fatima prophesised on July 13, 1917, and the Church is compared by Pope Francis to “ a field hospital after a battle. ”

“ Further, none is more skilful, none more astute than they, in the employment of a thousand noxious devices ; for they play the part of the rationalist and the Catholic at the same time, and this so craftily that they easily lead the unwary into error ; and since 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 the strictest morality. Finally, and this almost destroys all hope of cure, their very doctrines have given such a bent to their minds, that they disdain all authority and brook no restraint ; and relying upon a warped conscience, they attempt to ascribe to a love of truth that which is in reality the result of pride and obstinacy. ”

This paints the amazingly true-to-life portrait of “ the pride of the reformers ” (Georges de Nantes, CRC no. 1, October 1967). This holy Pope triumphed over them during his lifetime, but fifty years later, they took their revenge under the pontificates of John XXIII and Paul VI.

“ Once indeed We had hopes of recalling them to a better sense, and to this end We first of all used gentle means as Our children, then we treated them with severity, and at last We have had recourse, though with great reluctance, to public reproof. ”

In fact, Pius X, who had been elected on August 4, 1903, denounced in his first encyclical on October 4, “ the fallacious manoeuvres of a certain new science, which, while donning the mask of truth, under cover of deceptive and perfidious reasoning, strives to open the way to the views of rationalism and semi rationalism. ” (E supremi apostolatus.)

On December 16, five of Loisy’s books were placed on the Index by the Holy Office, in spite of the exertions of two Modernist bishops who had the Combes government intervene through diplomatic channels on behalf of Loisy. They showed how little they knew Pius X. Leo XIII was well and truly dead  !

Replying to the Pope’s reproof, Loisy dared to publish Autour d’un petit livre (About a Little Book) in which he defended and accentuated his thesis contained in “ the little red book, ” entitled The Gospel and the Church, which had appeared in November 1902.

Whilst the controversy was raging in France, Pius X studied the dossier that he had been sent and he prepared his solemn condemnation of the heresy.

On July 3, 1907, through the decree Lamentabili Sane Exitu, the Pope drew up a Syllabus of this new heresy with 65 propositions formulating 65 Modernist errors in order to condemn them. It arrived as a thunderbolt. That same August the Modernists had the audacity to gather at Molveno in the Trentino to organise their resistance. Among those present were  : Von Hügel, Fogazzaro, Murri, Houtin, Sabatier, Buonaiuti. Loisy and Tyrrel were represented. They protested their innocence to the Pope in an open letter entitled What We want. In secret, however, they decided to cloak their revolt by remaining within the Church… to “ reform ” her.

Their efforts were wasted and their manoeuvres in vain, since the encyclical Pascendi Dominici Gregis appeared on 8 September. Fr. de Nantes wrote that it was “ the greatest and most important encyclical ever to have been addressed to the Episcopate of the world, and it was the most complete, systematic and indisputable exposition of the Modernist error ever made in all its depth and under every aspect. ” (Pius X and Modernism, CCR no.69, December 1975, p. 16)

Let us continue our reading of this authoritative encyclical  :

“ Yet you know, Venerable Brethren, how fruitless has been Our action. They bowed their head for a moment, but it was soon uplifted more arrogantly than ever.

“ If it were a matter that concerned them alone, We might perhaps have overlooked it   : but the security of the Catholic religion is at stake. Wherefore, as to maintain silence longer would be a crime, We must now break it, in order to expose these men before the whole Church and reveal them in their true colours.

“ 4. Since the Modernists (as they are commonly and rightly called) employ a very clever artifice, namely, to present their doctrines without order and systematic arrangement into one whole, scattered and disjointed one from another, so as to appear to be in doubt and uncertainty, while they are in reality firm and steadfast, it will be of advantage, Venerable Brethren, to bring their teachings together here into one group, and to point out the connexion between them, and thus to pass to an examination of the sources of the errors, and to prescribe remedies for averting the evil. ”

This denunciation and its attendant condemnation made it impossible for anyone still attached to Modernism to remain within the Church. A choice had to be made  ! Since, however, the partisans of Modernism professed not to choose while remaining where they were, in order to seduce and conquer the Church from within, St. Pius X armed with strength from On High, decided to search them out and denounce them before the faithful, whom the Modernists were abusing and corrupting, by ruthlessly excommunicating them. It was in order to save the Church  !

“ 5. To proceed in an orderly manner in this recondite subject, it must first of all be noted that every Modernist sustains and comprises within himself many personalities ; he is a philosopher, a believer, a theologian, an historian, a critic, an apologist, a reformer. These roles must be clearly distinguished from one another by all who would accurately know their system and thoroughly comprehend the principles and the consequences of their doctrines. ”


Two key words define it  : agnosticism and immanence.


“ 6. We begin, then, with the philosopher. Modernists place the foundation of religious philosophy in that doctrine which is usually called agnosticism. According to this teaching, human reason is confined entirely within the field of phenomena, that is to say, to things that are perceptible to the senses, and in the manner in which they are perceptible ; it has no right and no power to transgress these limits. Hence it is incapable of lifting itself up to God, and of recognising His existence, even by means of visible things. Such is this doctrine.

“ 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, all will readily perceive what becomes of Natural Theology, of the motives of credibility, of external revelation. The Modernists simply make away with them altogether ; they include them in Intellectualism, which they call a ridiculous and long ago defunct system. Nor does the fact that the Church has formally condemned these portentous errors exercise the slightest restraint upon them.

“ For 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 (De Revel., can. I) ;

“ 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 ’ (Ibid., can. 2) ;

“ 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 ’(De Fide, can. 3).

“ Yet how the Modernists 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, starting from ignorance as to whether God has in fact intervened in the history of the human race or not, they proceed, in their explanation of this history, to ignore God 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, according to this most absurd teaching, must be held touching the most sacred Person of Christ, what concerning 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 side of it consists in what they call vital immanence. This is how they advance from one to the other. Religion, whether natural or supernatural must, like every other fact, admit of some explanation. However, when Natural theology has been destroyed, the road to revelation closed through 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 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.

“ Hence the principle of religious immanence is formulated.

“ Moreover, the first actuation, so to say, of every vital phenomenon, and religion, as has been said, belongs to this category, is due to a certain necessity or impulsion ; but it has its origin, speaking more particularly of life, in a movement of the heart, which movement is called a sentiment.

“ Therefore, since God is the object of religion, we must conclude that faith, which is the basis and the foundation of all religion, consists in a sentiment which originates from a need of the divine. This need of the divine, which is experienced only in special and favourable circumstances, cannot, of itself, appertain to the domain of consciousness ; it is at first latent within the consciousness, or, to borrow a term from modern philosophy, in the subconsciousness, where also its roots lies hidden and undetected.

“ Should anyone ask how it is that this need of the divine which man experiences within himself develops into a religion,

“ the Modernists reply thus   :

“ ‘ Science and history are confined within two limits, the one external, namely, the visible world, the other internal, which is consciousness. When one or other of these boundaries 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 in the subconsciousness, the need of the divine, according to the principles of Fideism, excites in a soul with a propensity towards religion a certain special sentiment, without any previous advertence of the mind   : and this sentiment possesses, implied within itself both as its own object and as its intrinsic cause, the reality of the divine, and in a way unites man with God. ’

“ It is this sentiment to which Modernists give the name of faith, and this it is which they consider the beginning of religion. ”

This happens in a totally subjective way, inspired by Kant’s dualist philosophy. According to this philosophy, what reason proves to be false in its own domain of the real scientific external world, can nevertheless be true for the heart, conscience and sentiment.

“ 8. We have not yet come to the end of their philosophy or, to speak more accurately, their folly.

“ For Modernism finds in this sentiment not faith only, but with and in faith, as they understand it, revelation, they say, abides. ”

The latter, however, is no longer marked with any objective character.

“ For what more can one require for revelation   ? Is not that religious sentiment which is perceptible in the consciousness revelation, or at least the beginning of revelation   ? Nay, is not God Himself, as He manifests Himself to the soul, indistinctly it is true, in this same religious sense, revelation   ? 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, God is both the Revealer and the Revealed. Hence, Venerable Brethren, springs that ridiculous proposition of the Modernists, that every religion, according to the different aspect under which it is viewed, must be considered as both natural and supernatural. ”

This is akin to the “ naturalising of the supernatural ” and the “ supernaturalising of the natural ” discerned by Georges de Nantes in the Acts of the Second Vatican Council.

“ Hence it is that they make consciousness and revelation synonymous. Hence the law, according to which religious consciousness is given as the universal rule, to be put on an equal footing with revelation, and to which all must submit, even the supreme authority of the Church, whether in its teaching capacity, or in that of legislator in the province of sacred liturgy or discipline. ”

The Second Vatican Council made this “ folly ” its own and drew conclusions from it by proclaiming “ religious liberty ” as a right of the human person. When religion ceases to lay claim to objectivity, it defies all dogmatic codification, the tutelage of ecclesiastical Authority and the verification of science. Religion becomes free, progressive, fluctuating and unstable.


“ 9. However, 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 historico-critical corollaries that are deduced from it.

“ For the Unknowable does not present itself to faith as something solitary and isolated ; but rather in close conjunction with some phenomenon which, though it belongs to the realm of science and history, oversteps their bounds to some extent. Such a phenomenon may be an act 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 that is united with the phenomenon, possesses itself of the whole phenomenon, and, as it were, permeates it with its own life.

“ Two consequences derive from this.

“ The first is a sort of transfiguration of the phenomenon, by its elevation above its own true conditions, by which it becomes more adapted to that form of the divine which faith will infuse into it.

“ The second is a kind of disfigurement, which springs from the fact that faith, which has made the phenomenon independent of the circumstances of place and time, attributes to it qualities which, in reality, are not appropriate for it. This is true particularly of the phenomena of the past, and the older they are, the truer it is.

“ From these two principles the Modernists deduce two laws which, when united with a third that they have already acquired from agnosticism, constitute the foundation of their historical criticism. We will take an illustration from 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 keeping with His character, circumstances and education, and with the place and time in which He lived.

“ 10. A strange style of reasoning, truly ; but it is Modernist critic. ”

In his Memoirs and Anecdotes, Fr. de Nantes shows how the Devil, in spite of himself, can be made to serve a good cause. Thus it was that Fr. Vimal, our Father’s venerated master during his seminary years at Issy-les-Moulineaux after the “ Liberation ”, drew a decisive lesson against this “ Modernist criticism ” from the implacable rationalist stance of a certain Couchoud.


“ An implacable rationalist, Couchoud assailed all his predecessors, more liberal than himself, who claimed to reconstruct, each as he pleased and as he saw fit, the ‘ Jesus of history, ’ an ordinary man whom the Church later on slowly, silently, transfigured until she had made him a god  ! Nothing but nonsense  ; our man showed that none of it stood the test.

“ Jesus did not half exist or two-thirds or three-quarters exist  : a preacher but without miracles, or a healer without prophecies, prophet and thaumaturgist full of illusions, a divine man but not God… It is all or nothing. The Gospel must be taken literally or be completely rejected. The Scriptures recount to us a God made man. You have to believe them and become fully Catholic, that is the only acceptable reconstruction  !

“ Otherwise, they would have to be understood in terms of mythology and the conclusion would be that Jesus never existed. In this hypothesis, it would only be a question of a god to whom the magicians of the word would have given human characteristics, thus composing from one to the other, throughout generations, this extraordinary painting of ‘ God made man, ’ assuredly incomparable. Our professor wanted us to reach this logical extremity so as to cure us of all easy but insubstantial liberal exegesis. Then, once we had reached this state of radicalism, which in itself is untenable – for if it were so, the Church would have been born clandestinely from a total deception  ! – our professor wanted us to hasten to the other extremity, to the solution that was henceforth unavoidable  : to believe in the Scriptures, to believe the witnesses who had their throats slit, to proclaim that this Jesus is Christ and Lord, He Who was crucified for us under Pontius Pilate, was buried and nevertheless was raised from the dead on the third day for our justification.

“ Now that I have recreated its climate by the mysterious game of reviviscences, our Sulpician seminary appears to me to have been entirely steeped in the knowledge of this immensely existing Christ by both science and faith. He governed our whole being  : intelligence and heart, body and soul, present and future […]. In those days still, for these hundreds of young men and for the priests, their directors, it was inconceivable that Christ could be the principle and foundation of everything, absolutely everything, without Him being conceptualised, loved and adored there as the surest and most certain of all beings, full of grace and truth. ”

(quoted in Georges de Nantes, The Mystical Doctor of the Catholic Faith, chapter 4)


“ 11. Therefore the religious sentiment, 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. The sentiment, which was at first only rudimentary and almost formless, gradually matured, under the influence of that mysterious principle from which it originated, with the progress of human life, of which, as has been said, it is a form. This, then, is the origin of all religion, even supernatural religion ; it is only a development of this religious sentiment. Nor is the Catholic religion an exception ; it is quite on a level with the rest. ”

Thus it is that the word “ believer ” becomes a common noun with an ‘ interreligious ’ connotation, although Christian in origin  :

“ For it was engendered, by the process of vital immanence, in the consciousness of Christ, Who was a man of the choicest nature, Whose like has never been, nor will be. Those who hear these audacious, these sacrilegious assertions, are simply shocked   ! ”

The sacrilege consists in abolishing the personal intervention of a living God, external to His creature  !

“ Yet, Venerable Brethren, it is not only non-believers who utter such impudences. There are many 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 entire programme of the minority that assumed control of the Second Vatican Council fifty years later was nothing other than a resurgence of this spirit of ‘ reformation ’ which, since the reign of Leo XIII and under his influence, had motivated an active minority. It hoped not only for a simple social transformation, or for some purely intellectual renewal, but for the mankind’s coming of age prophesised by Lamennais… and prior to him, by Fenelon  !

“ There is no question now of the old error, by which a sort of right to the supernatural order was claimed for the human nature. ”

It is an “ old error ” since it dates back to Baius (16th century). Nowadays, however, it has been revived by Fr. de Lubac and it inspired the Second Vatican Council, which invented nothing  !

“ We have gone far beyond that   : we have reached the point when it is affirmed that our most holy religion, in the man Christ as in us, emanated from nature spontaneously and entirely. Than this there is surely nothing more destructive of the whole supernatural order. Wherefore 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  (De Revel., can. 3). ”

Thus the ‘ progressivism ’ that prevailed at the Second Vatican Council was already condemned by the First Vatican Council  ! Then emerges its corollary, “ faith in man. ”

“ 12. So far, Venerable Brethren, there has been no mention of the intellect. Still it also, according to the teaching of the Modernists, has its part in the act of faith. It is of importance to see how.

“ The sentiment of which We have frequently spoken, precisely because it is sentiment and not knowledge, indeed makes God emerge within man, but in a manner so confused that, truth to tell, He can hardly be distinguished from him. It is therefore necessary that a ray of light should be cast upon this sentiment, so that God may be clearly distinguished and set apart from it. This is the task of the intellect, the office of which is to reflect and to analyse, and by means of which man first transforms into mental pictures the vital phenomena that arise within him, and then expresses them in words. ”

It is with these exact terms that Joseph Ratzinger describes and explains the apparitions of Our Lady of Fatima.

“ Hence the common saying of Modernists   : that the religious man must ponder his faith.

“ The intellect, then, encountering this sentiment directs itself upon it, and produces in it a work resembling that of a painter who restores and gives new life to a picture that has perished with age. The simile is that of one of the leaders of Modernism. ”

The Pope is very careful not to name him, so as not to encourage us to read him. Since then, however, Pope John Paul II is an emblematic case  : “ I have never regarded my faith as traditional, he confided to André Frossard. It had nothing to do with any kind of conformism ; it was born in the depths of my own “ me ”, it was also the fruit of my mind’s efforts in seeking an answer to the mysteries of man and of the world. ”

“ The operation of the intellect in this work is twofold   : first by a natural and spontaneous act it expresses its concept in a simple, ordinary 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 perfect and distinct. These secondary propositions, if they finally receive the approval of the supreme Magisterium of the Church, constitute dogma. ”


“ 13. Thus, We have reached one of the principal points in the Modernists’ 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 manifestation of God in the consciousness. Yet dogma itself they apparently hold, is contained in the secondary formulas. To ascertain the nature of dogma, we must first find the relation that exists between the religious formulas and the religious sentiment.

“ This will be readily perceived by him who realises that these formulas have no other purpose than to furnish the believer with a means of giving an account of his faith to himself.

“ 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 express absolute truth   : for, in so far as they are symbols, they are the images of truth, and so must be adapted to the religious sentiment 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 sentiment. Yet the object of the religious sentiment, since it embraces that absolute, possesses an infinite variety of aspects of which now one, now another, may present itself. In like manner, he who believes may pass through different phases. Consequently, the formulas too, which we call dogmas, must be subject to these vicissitudes, and are, therefore, liable to change.

“ Thus the way is open to the intrinsic evolution of dogma. An immense collection of sophisms this, that ruins and destroys all religion. ”

Pope John XXIII decreed this “ ruin and destruction ” in his Address for the opening of the Second Vatican Council on October 11, 1962, by laying down as a principle the distinction between “ the deposit of Faith, namely the truths that our venerable (sic  !) doctrine contains ” on the one hand, and on the other “ the way in which these truths are presented ”.

St. Pius X had already explained that if the Modernists were allowed to employ this distinction, it would lead to “ changing religion  : ”

“ 14. Dogma is not only able, but ought to evolve and to be changed. This is strongly affirmed by the Modernists, and as clearly flows from their principles.

“ For amongst the chief points of their teaching is this which they deduce from the principle of vital immanence ; that religious formulas, to be really religious and not merely theological speculations, ought to be living and to live the life of the religious sentiment. This is not to be understood in the sense that these formulas, especially if merely imaginative, were to be made for the religious sentiment ; it has no more to do with their origin than with number or quality ; what is necessary is that the religious sentiment, with some modification when necessary, 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 spring the secondary formulas must proceed under the guidance of the heart. Hence it comes that these formulas, 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 must be changed.

“ Since the character and lot of dogmatic formulas is so precarious, there is no room for surprise that Modernists regard them so lightly and in such open disrespect. What is always on their lips, what they endlessly extol, is the religious sentiment, the religious life.

“ Thus they audaciously charge the Church both with taking the wrong road from inability to distinguish the religious and moral sense of formulas from their surface meaning, and with clinging tenaciously and vainly to meaningless formulas whilst religion is allowed to go to ruin.

“ ‘ Blind that they are, and leaders of the blind, inflated with a boastful science, they have reached that pitch of folly where they pervert the eternal concept of truth and the true nature of the religious sentiment ; with that new system of theirs 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 vain, futile, uncertain doctrines, condemned by the Church, on which, in the height of their vanity, they think they can rest and maintain truth itself. ’ (Gregory XVI, Singulari nos, 1834). ”

This quotation of the encyclical whereby Pope Gregory XVI condemned Lamennais and his “ Words of a Believer ” prove that the Modernists invented nothing. They serve as an introduction to “ the Modernist as believer. ”


“ 15. Thus far, Venerable Brethren, we have considered the Modernist as a Philosopher. Now if we proceed to consider him as a believer, and to seek to know how the believer, according to Modernism, is marked off from the Philosopher, it must first be observed that, although the Philosopher recognises the reality of the divine as the object of faith, still this reality is not to be found by him except in the heart of the believer, as an object of feeling and affirmation, and therefore confined within the sphere of phenomena  ; the question as to whether God exists in Himself outside the feeling and affirmation of the believing soul is one which the Philosopher passes over and neglects.

“ For the believer, on the contrary, it is an established and certain fact that God exists in Himself, and quite independently of the person who believes in Him. This is what distinguishes him from the philosopher. If you ask on what foundation this certitude 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 explaining the thing  : If one examines religious sentiment, he will easily discover a certain intuition of the heart, thanks to which, and without any intermediary, man attains to the very reality of God  : hence the certitude of His existence, which far surpasses all scientific certitude.

“ 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, it arises from the fact that such persons are unwilling to put themselves in the moral state which is necessary to produce it.

“ It is this experience which, when a person acquires it, makes him properly and truly a believer. ”


“ 16. How far this position is removed from that of the Catholic Faith  ! 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 the other doctrine of symbolism, every religion, even that of paganism, must be held to be true. ”

Truly, the Second Vatican Council has invented nothing  !

“ What is to prevent such experiences from being met within every religion   ? Many assert that this is so. With what right will Modernists deny the truth of an experience affirmed by a follower of Islam   ? ” How topical it is  !

“ With what right can they claim true experiences for Catholics alone   ? Indeed Modernists do not deny but actually admit, some confusedly, others in the most open manner, that all religions are true. ”

One might as well say that no religion is true  !

“ That they cannot feel otherwise is clear. For on what ground, according to their theories, could falsity be predicated of any religion whatsoever   ? It must be certainly on one of these two   : either on account of the falsity of the religious sentiment or on account of the falsity of the formula pronounced by the mind. Now the religious sentiment, although it may be 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 sentiment and to the Believer, whatever be the intellectual capacity of the latter. In the conflict between different religions…, ” which Jacques Perret called the “ muddle of religions, ” and Georges de Nantes, our Father, the MASDU, the Movement for the Spiritual Animation of Universal Democracy…

“ … the most that Modernists can maintain is that the Catholic has more truth because it is more living and that it deserves with more reason the name of Christian because it corresponds more fully with the origins of Christianity. ”

“ That these consequences flow from the premises will not seem unnatural to anyone. ”

“ What is amazing, however, is that there are Catholics and priests who, We would fain believe, abhor such enormities yet act as if they fully approved of them. For they heap such praise and bestow such public honour on the teachers of these errors as to give rise to 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 errors that these persons openly profess and that they do all in their power to propagate. ”


“ 17. This doctrine of experience, however, is also under another aspect entirely contrary to the Catholic Faith. It is extended and applied to Tradition, as hitherto understood by the Church, and destroys it. By the Modernists, tradition is understood as a communication to others, through preaching by means of the intellectual formula, of an original experience. To this formula, in addition to its representative value, they attribute a species of suggestive efficacy that acts both in the person who believes, to stimulate the religious sentiment should it happen to have grown sluggish and to renew the experience once acquired, and in those who do not yet believe, to awake for the first time the religious sentiment in them and to produce the experience. In this way is religious experience propagated among the peoples ; 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. Hence again it is given to us to infer that all existing religions are equally true, for otherwise they would not live. ”


“ 18. Having reached this point, Venerable Brethren, we have sufficient material in hand to enable us to see the relations that Modernists establish between faith and science, including history also under the name of science.

“ In the first place it is to be held that the object of the one is quite extraneous to and separate from the object of the other. For faith occupies itself solely with something that science declares to be unknowable for it. Hence each has a separate field assigned to it   : science is entirely concerned with the reality of phenomena, into which faith does not enter at all ; faith on the contrary concerns itself with the divine reality that is entirely unknown to science. Thus the conclusion is reached 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 be in contradiction.

“ 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. ”

Thus it is that, against all the evidence provided by superabundant proofs, ‘ scientists ’ affect to not know the identity of ‘ the man of the Shroud, ’ of the Holy Shroud of Turin marked with the imprint of His Body with pierced hands feet and side, His Head crowned with Blood, and His back streaked with the impacts of a cruel scourging, and Who came out of this Winding-Sheet without leaving the slightest trace of it being torn off, or leaving on it any trace of corruption, thus less than three days after having been shrouded.

“ 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 [in the Resurrection of Christ] transfigured and disfigured, they have been removed from the world of sense and translated to become 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 ” denying what is perfectly obvious  ; “ and the answer of faith in the affirmative, ” and ‘ I do not need all that ’ to believe, as they say of the Holy Shroud  !

“ Yet there will not be, on that account, any conflict between them. For it will be denied by the philosopher as philosopher, speaking to philosophers and considering Christ only in His historical reality ; and it will be affirmed by the believer speaking to believers and considering the life of Christ as lived again by the faith and in the faith.

“ 19. It would be a great mistake, however, to suppose that, given these theories, one is authorised to believe that faith and science are independent of one another. On the side of science the independence is indeed complete, but it is quite different 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, with the exception of the divine reality and the experience of it which the believer possesses, everything else, and especially the religious formulas of it, belongs to the sphere of phenomena and therefore falls under the control of science. Let the believer leave the world if he will, but so long as he remains in it he must continue, whether he like it or not, to be subject to the laws, the observation, the judgements of science and of history.

“ Further, when it is said 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 philosophises 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 conclusions concerning the idea of God, to direct it in its evolution and to purify it of any extraneous elements that may become confused with it. Thus this adage of the Modernists according to which religious evolution must be coordinated with intellectual and moral evolution or, better still, in the words of one of their masters, must be subject to them.

“ Finally, man does not suffer a dualism to exist in him, and the believer therefore feels within him an impelling need so to harmonise 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. ”

What a reversal of roles  !

“ All this, Venerable Brothers, is in formal opposition with 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 scrutinise the depths of the mysteries of God but to venerate them devoutly and humbly. (June 15, 1857).

“ The Modernists completely invert the parts, and to them may be applied the words of another Predecessor of Ours, Gregory IX, addressed to some theologians of his time   : Some among you, inflated like bladders with the spirit of vanity strive by profane novelties to cross the boundaries fixed by the Fathers, twisting the sense of the heavenly pages to the philosophical teaching of the rationals, not for the profit of their hearer but to make a show of science… these, seduced by strange and eccentric doctrines, make the head of the tail and force the queen to serve the servant.

“ 20. This becomes still clearer to anyone who studies the conduct of Modernists, which is in perfect harmony with their teachings. In the writings and addresses they seem not unfrequently to advocate now one doctrine now another so that one would be disposed to regard them as vague and doubtful. There is a reason for this, however, and it is to be found in their ideas as to the mutual separation of science and faith. Hence in their books you find some things that might well be expressed by a Catholic, but in the next page you find other things that might 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 write history they pay no heed to the Fathers and the Councils, but when they catechise the people, they cite them respectfully.

“ In the same way they draw their distinctions between theological and pastoral exegesis and scientific and historical exegesis.

“ So, too, acting on the principle that science in no way depends upon faith, when they treat of philosophy, history, criticism, feeling no horror at treading in the footsteps of Luther, they are wont to display a certain contempt for Catholic doctrines, or the Holy Fathers, for the Ecumenical Councils, for the ecclesiastical Magisterium ; and should they be rebuked for this, they complain that they are being deprived of their liberty.

“ Lastly, guided by the theory that faith must be subject to science, they continuously and openly criticise the Church because of her sheer obstinacy in refusing to submit and accommodate her dogmas to the opinions of philosophy ; while they, on their side, after having blotted out the old theology, endeavour to introduce a new theology that shall follow the vagaries of their philosophers. ”


“ 21. Thus, Venerable Brethren, the road is open for us to study the Modernists in the theological arena – a difficult task, yet one that may be disposed of briefly.

“ The end to be attained is the conciliation of faith with science, always, however, saving the primacy of science over faith. In this branch the Modernist theologian avails himself of exactly the same principles that we have seen employed by the Modernist philosopher, and applies them to the believer   : the principles of immanence and symbolism.

“ 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 as certain that the representations of the object of faith are merely symbolical ; the believer has affirmed that the object of faith is God in Himself ; and the theologian proceeds to affirm that   : The representations of the divine reality are purely symbolical. Thus we have theological symbolism.

“ Truly enormous errors both, the pernicious character of which 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 do not lay too much stress on the formula, but avail himself of it only with the scope of uniting himself to the absolute truth which the formula at once reveals and conceals, that is to say, endeavours to express but without succeeding in doing so.

“ They would also have the believer avail himself of the formulas only in as far as they are useful 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 that the public magisterium has deemed suitable for expressing the common consciousness until such time as the same magisterium provide otherwise. ”


“ 22. Concerning immanence it is not easy to determine what Modernists 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 in even himself, and this conception, if properly understood, is free from reproach. 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 that savours of pantheism and this, in truth, is the sense that tallies best with the rest of their doctrines.

23. With this principle of immanence is connected another that 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 will illustrate what is meant, and this example is offered by the Church and the Sacraments. The Church and the Sacraments, they say, are not to be regarded as having been instituted by Christ Himself. This is forbidden by agnosticism, which sees in Christ nothing more than a man whose religious consciousness has been, like that of all men, formed by degrees ; it is also forbidden by the law of immanence that rejects what they call external application ; it is further forbidden by the law of evolution that requires for the development of the germs a certain time and a certain series of circumstances ; it is, finally, forbidden by history, which shows that such in fact has been the course of things.

“ Still it is to be 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. As the shoots live the life of the seed, so, too, all Christians are to be said to live the life of Christ. The life of Christ is divine according to faith, and so, too, is the life of Christians. Since this life produced, in the courses 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 prove that the Scriptures and the dogmas are divine.

“ Thus the Modernistic theology may be said to be complete. No great thing, in truth, but more than enough for the theologian who professes that the conclusions of science must always, and in all things, be respected.

“ 24. The application of these theories to the other points We shall proceed to expound, anyone may easily make for himself.

“ 25. Thus far We have spoken of the origin and nature of faith. As faith, in the Modernist system, has many shoots, and chief among them the Church, dogma, worship, the Books that we call ‘ Sacred ’. ”

The Pope does not content himself with this enumeration. He brilliantly guides our thought  :

“ Of these also we must know what is taught by the Modernists. ”


“ To begin with dogma, we have already indicated its origin and nature. Dogma is born of the species of impulse or necessity by virtue of which the believer is constrained to elaborate his religious thought so as to render it clearer for himself and others. This elaboration consists entirely in the process of penetrating and refining the primitive formula, not indeed in itself and according to logical development, but as required by circumstances, or vitally as the Modernists more abstrusely put it. Hence it happens that around the primitive formula secondary formulas gradually continue to be formed, and these subsequently grouped into bodies of doctrine, or into doctrinal constructions as they prefer to call them, 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 to harmonise religion with science and remove opposition between the two, in such a way as to throw light from without on religion, 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 Modernists fall into the gravest errors. For them the Sacraments are the resultant of a double need for, as we have seen, everything in their system is explained by inner impulses or necessities.

“ In the present case, the first need is that of giving some sensible manifestation to religion ; the second is that of propagating it, which could not be done without some sensible form and consecrating acts, and these are called sacraments. For the Modernists, however, the Sacraments are mere 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 on, ’ inasmuch as they have become the vehicle for the diffusion of certain great ideas which strike the public mind. What the phrases are to the ideas, that the Sacraments are to the religious sentiment – that and nothing more. The Modernists would be speaking 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 say that these Sacraments are instituted solely to foster the faith, let him be anathema. ’ ”


“ 26. 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 collection of experiences, not indeed of the kind that may come to anyone, but those extraordinary and striking ones that have happened in any religion. This is precisely what they teach about our books of the Old and New Testament.

“ To suit their own theories, however, they note with remarkable ingenuity that, although experience is something belonging to the present, still it may derive its material from the past and the future alike, 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 apocalyptical books are included among the Sacred Writings.

“ God does indeed speak in these books – through the medium of the believer, but only, according to Modernistic theology, by vital immanence and permanence.

“ Do we inquire concerning inspiration   ? Inspiration, they reply, is distinguished only by its vehemence from that impulse which stimulates the believer to reveal the faith that is in him by words or writing. It is something like what happens in poetical inspiration, of which it has been said   : There is God in us, and when He stirs He sets us afire. It is precisely in this sense that God is said to be the origin of the inspiration of the Sacred Books.

“ The Modernists affirm, too, that there is nothing in these Books which is not inspired. In this respect some might be disposed to consider them as more orthodox than certain other moderns who somewhat restrict inspiration, as, for instance, in what have been put forward as tacit citations. Yet it is all mere juggling of words. For if we take the Bible, according to the tenets of agnosticism, to be a human work, made by men for men, but allowing the theologian to proclaim that it is divine by immanence, what room is there left in it for inspiration   ? General inspiration in the Modernist sense it is easy to find, but of inspiration in the Catholic sense there is not a trace. ”


“ 27. 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, the need of the individual believer, especially if he has had some original and special experience, to communicate his faith to others, and the need of the mass, when the faith has become common to many, to form itself into a society and to guard, increase, and propagate the common good.

“ What, then, is the Church   ?

“ It is the product of the collective conscience, that is to say of the society of individual consciences which by virtue of the principle of vital permanence, all depend 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 conserve prudently the elements of cohesion that 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. This conception however, 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 fullest development, and when the public conscience has in the civil order introduced popular government. Now there are not two consciences in man, any more than there are two lives. It is for the ecclesiastical authority, therefore, to shape itself to democratic forms, unless it wishes to provoke and foment an internal conflict in the consciences of mankind. ”

It is the argument invoked by the Council  : “ A sense of the dignity of the human person has been impressing itself more and more deeply on the consciousness of contemporary man… ” (Dignitatis humanæ, no. 1) Fr. de Nantes said, amazed  : “ How odd it is  ! An interior feeling felt collectively… ” (Vatican II, Auto-da-fe, HIR 65) At the Second Vatican Council, the principle and foundation of Modernism took its revenge on St. Pius X.

“ … the demand is increasingly made that men should act on their own judgement, enjoying and making use of a responsible freedom, not driven by coercion but motivated by a sense of duty. ” (ibid.) This great social and political claim that triumphed during the Council, was already formulated and condemned as ‘ Modernist ’ by Pope St. Pius X. He did so in the same terms wherein Dignitatis humanæ adopted this claim… in order to ‘ canonise ’ it  !

“ The penalty of refusal is disaster. For it is madness to think that the sentiment of liberty, as it is now spread abroad, can retreat. Were it forcibly confined and held in bonds, the more terrible would be its outburst, sweeping away at once both Church and religion.

“ Such are, in this matter, the ideas 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 believers. ”


“ 28. It is not with its own members alone that the Church must come to an amicable arrangement – besides its relations with those within [ad intra], it has others with those outside [ad extra]. The Church does not occupy the world all by itself  ; there are other societies in the world, with which it must necessarily have contact and relations. The rights and duties of the Church towards civil societies must, therefore, be determined, and determined, of course, by its own nature as it has been already described by the Modernists.

“ The rules to be applied in this matter are those that have been laid down for science and faith, though in the latter case the question is one of objects, while here we have one of ends. In the same way, then, as faith and science are strangers to each other by reason of the diversity of their objects, Church and State are strangers by reason of the diversity of the ends they pursue, 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, allowing 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. This doctrine, however, 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 reprimands. To trace out and prescribe for the citizen any line of conduct, on any pretext whatsoever, is to be guilty of an abuse of ecclesiastical authority, against which one is bound to act with all one’s might. ”

Such was already the ‘ politics ’ of Leo XIII who declared that “ those, if there are any, who do not distinguish clearly between what is holy and what is merely civil, commit a pernicious error which lends the name of religion to a political party. ” (encyclical Pergrata Nobis to the Portuguese Bishops, of September 14, 1886). This new ‘ Pope’s politics ’ would even force the French Catholics to rally to the Masonic Republic, in the name of liberty, equality and fraternity  !

St. Pius X restored what he would call, in the Letter on the Sillon (1910), the “ happy concert ” practised by the Church with Catholic States for centuries, in conjunction with a bitter but just battle against modern persecuting States.

“ 29. The principles from which these doctrines spring have been solemnly condemned by our predecessor Pius VI in his Constitution Auctorem Fidei.

“ 30. 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. They do not say this openly as yet, but they will say it when they wish to be logical on this head.

“ For given the principle that in temporal matters the State possesses absolute mastery, it will follow that when the believer, not fully satisfied with his merely internal acts of religion, proceeds to external acts, such for instance as the administration or reception of the Sacraments, ” for example the sacrament of Matrimony that seals before God and before society an indissoluble and fruitful covenant between a man and a woman…

…“ these will fall under the control of the State ”…

… that will authorise divorce and abortion…

“ 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 that impels many among liberal Protestants to reject all external worship, nay, all external religious community, and makes them advocate what they call, individual religion. If the Modernists have not yet reached this point, they do ask the Church in the meanwhile to be good enough to follow spontaneously where they lead her and adapt herself to the civil forms in vogue. ”

For example by accepting “ same-sex marriages. ”


“ 31. Such are their ideas on disciplinary authority. Far more advanced and far more pernicious are their teachings on doctrinal and dogmatic authority.

“ This 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 one also the formula that they adopt.

“ This double unity, however, requires a kind of common mind the office of which 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 that has been decided upon. From the combination and, as it were fusion of these two elements, the common mind that draws up the formula and the authority which imposes it, arises, according to the Modernists, the notion of the ecclesiastical magisterium. As this magisterium springs, in its last analysis, from the individual consciences and possesses its mandate of public utility for their benefit, it follows that the ecclesiastical magisterium must be subordinate to them, and should therefore take democratic forms.

“ To prevent individual consciences from revealing freely and openly the impulses they feel, to muzzle criticism, to hinder it from impelling dogmas towards their necessary evolutions is not a legitimate use, but an abuse of a power given for the public utility.

“ 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, assuredly savours of tyranny.

“ Thus, here again a way must be found to save the full rights of authority on the one hand and of liberty on the other. In the meanwhile the proper course for the Catholic will be to proclaim publicly his profound respect for authority, and continue to follow his own bent.

“ Their general directions for the Church may be put in this way.

“ Since the end of the Church is entirely spiritual, the religious authority should strip itself of all that external pomp which adorns it in the eyes of the public. Here they forget that while religion is essentially for the soul, it is not exclusively for the soul, and that the honour paid to authority is reflected back on Jesus Christ Who instituted it. ”


“ 32. To finish with this whole question of faith and its shoots, it remains to be seen, Venerable Brethren, what the Modernists have to say about their development. First of all they lay down the general principle that in a living religion everything is subject to change, and must change, and in this way they pass to what may be said to be, among the chief of their doctrines, that of Evolution.

“ To the laws of evolution everything is subject  : dogma, Church, worship, the Books we revere as sacred, even faith itself, and the penalty of disobedience is death. The enunciation of this principle will not astonish 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 applies.

“ 33. 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 penetration of the religious sentiment in the conscience.

“ This progress was of two kinds  : negative, by the elimination of all foreign elements, such, for example, as the sentiment of family or nationality  ; and positive by the intellectual and moral refining of man, by means of which the idea was enlarged and enlightened while the religious sentiment became more elevated and more intense.

“ For the progress of faith no other causes are to be assigned than those that are adduced to explain its origin. To them, however, must be added those religious geniuses whom we call prophets, and of whom Christ was the greatest.  ”

Without prejudice to the honour due to Mohammed and the truth of Buddha…

“ They contribute to the progress of faith because in their lives and their words there was something mysterious that faith attributed to the divinity, and because it fell to their lot to have new and original experiences fully in harmony with the needs of their time.

“ The progress of dogma is due chiefly to the obstacles that faith has to surmount, to the enemies it has to vanquish, to the contradictions it has to repel. Add to this a perpetual striving to penetrate ever more profoundly its own mysteries.

“ Thus, to limit ourselves to the example of Christ  : in Him that divine something which faith admitted in Him expanded in such a way that He was at last held to be God.

“ The chief stimulus of evolution in the domain of worship consists in the need of adapting itself to the uses and customs of peoples, as well as the need of availing itself of the value that certain acts have acquired by long usage. Finally, evolution in the Church itself is fed by the need of accommodating itself to historical conditions and of harmonising itself with existing forms of society.

“ 34. Such is religious evolution in detail.

“ 35. Before proceeding further, we would have you note well this whole theory of necessities and needs, for it is at the root of the entire system of the Modernists, and it is upon it that they will erect their famous historical method.

“ 36. Still continuing the consideration of the evolution of doctrine, it is to be noted that Evolution is due no doubt to those stimulants styled needs, but, if left to their action alone, it would run a great risk of trangressing the bounds of Tradition, and thus, turned aside from its primitive vital principle, would lead to ruin instead of progress.

“ Hence, studying more closely the ideas of the Modernists, evolution is described as resulting from the conflict of two forces, one of them tending towards progress, the other towards conservation.

“ The conserving force in the Church is Tradition, and Tradition is represented by religious authority, and this both by right and in fact  ; for by right it is in the very nature of authority to protect Tradition, and, in fact, for 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, that responds to the inner needs lies in the individual consciences and ferments there, especially in such of them as are in most intimate contact with life.

“ Note here, Venerable Brethren, the appearance already of that most pernicious doctrine which would make of the laity a factor of progress in the Church. Now it is by a species of compromise between the forces of conservation and of progress, that is to say, between authority and individual consciences, that changes and advances take place. The individual consciences of some of them act on the collective conscience, which brings pressure to bear on the depositaries of authority, until the latter consent to a compromise, and, the pact being made, authority sees to its maintenance. ”

Thus is unveiled, defined and condemned sixty years in advance what Fr. de Nantes called the ‘ conciliar pact. ’


“ 37. 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  ! Being in intimate contact with consciences they know better than anyone else, and certainly better than the ecclesiastical authority, what needs exist  ; nay, they embody them, so to speak, in themselves. Having a voice and a pen they use both publicly, for this is their duty. Let authority rebuke them as much as 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 that uses them roughly, for after all it is only doing its duty as authority. Their sole grief is that it remains deaf to their warnings, because delay multiplies the obstacles that impede the progress of souls. ”

“ Sic enim cursus animarum tardatur. ” What is the aim of this “ progress of souls  ? ” According to St. Thérèse of the Child Jesus, their contemporary, it is Heaven  ! Heaven is transcendent, thus alien to their ‘ immanent ’ horizon.

“ The hour will most surely come, however, when there will be no further chance for tergiversation, for if the laws of evolution may be checked for a while, they cannot be ultimately destroyed. So they go their way, reprimands and condemnations notwithstanding, masking an incredible audacity under a mock semblance of humility. While they make a show of bowing their heads, their hands and minds are more intent than ever on carrying out their purposes.

“ They follow this policy 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, thus unconsciously avowing that the common conscience is not with them, and that they have no right to claim to be its interpreters. ”


“ 38. Thus then, Venerable Brethren, for the Modernists, both as authors and propagandists, there is to be nothing stable, nothing immutable in the Church. Nor indeed are they without precursors 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. ’ (encyclical Qui Pluribus, November 9, 1846)

“ 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. ’ (proposition no. 5)

“ It is condemned still more solemnly in the Vatican Council  : ‘ The doctrine of the Faith that 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 the sense, too, of the sacred dogmas is that 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. ’ (constitution Dei Filius, chap. 4)

“ Nor is the development of our knowledge, even concerning the Faith, impeded by this pronouncement  ; on the contrary it is aided and promoted. 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. ’

“ 39. After having studied the Modernist as philosopher, believer and theologian, it now remains for us to consider him as historian, critic, apologist, reformer. ”


“ 40. Some Modernists, devoted to historical studies, seem to be greatly afraid of being taken for philosophers. About philosophy, they tell you, they know nothing whatever. In this they display remarkable astuteness, for they are particularly anxious not to be suspected of being prejudiced in favour of philosophical theories that would lay them open to the charge of not being objective, to use the word in vogue. Yet the truth is that their history and their criticism are saturated with their philosophy, and that their historico-critical conclusions are the natural fruit of their philosophical principles. This will be patent to anyone who reflects.

“ Their first three laws are contained in those three principles of their philosophy already dealt with  : the principle of agnosticism, the principle of the transfiguration of things by faith, and the principle that We have called of disfiguration.

“ Let us see what consequences flow from each of them. agnosticism tells us that history, like every other 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. In things where a double element, the divine and the human, mingles, in Christ, for example, or the Church, or the Sacraments, or the many other objects of the same kind, a division must be made and the human element assigned to history while the divine will go to faith. Hence we have that distinction, so current among the Modernists, between the Christ of history and the Christ of faith, between the Sacraments of history and the Sacraments of faith, and so on.

“ Next we find that the human element itself, which the historian has to work on, as it appears in the documents, has been by faith transfigured, that is to say raised above its historical conditions. It becomes necessary, therefore, to eliminate also the accretions that faith has added, to assign 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, either according to the psychological conception of him, or according to the place and period of his existence.

“ Finally, by virtue of the third principle, even those things that are not outside the sphere of history they pass through the crucible, excluding from history and relegating to faith everything which, in their judgement, is not in harmony with what they call the logic of facts and 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. Do you inquire as to the criterion they adopt to enable them to make these divisions  ? The reply is that they argue from the character of the man, from his condition of life, from his education, from the circumstances under which the facts took place, in short, from criteria which, when one considers them well, are purely 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 that they admit they hold but that they affect 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, can admit Him to have said or done. ”


“ 41. As history receives its conclusions, ready-made, from philosophy, so too criticism takes its own 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 we have a double 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 has never lived outside the pious meditations of the believer, the Christ, for instance, whom we find in the Gospel of St. John, which is pure contemplation from beginning to end

“ 42. The dominion of philosophy over history, however, 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 principle of vital immanence, and shows how everything in the history of the Church is to be explained by vital emanation. Since the cause or condition of every vital emanation whatsoever is to be found in some need, it follows that no fact can antedate the need which produced it. Historically the fact must be posterior to the need.

“ See how the historian works on this principle.

“ He goes over his documents again, whether they be found in the Sacred Books or elsewhere, draws up from them his list of the successive needs of the Church, whether relating to dogma or liturgy or other matters, 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 lists 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. ”

St. Paul’s epistles and the ‘ Catholic Epistles ’ of St. Peter, St. James, St. John, St. Jude are writings suited to the circumstances that respond to the ‘ needs ’ of the communities that they had founded. Thus, strictly speaking, they do not constitute ‘ facts. ’ The founding event, the ‘ fact, ’ is the Gospel that all the Apostles preached and for which the Apostle Paul was “ put aside ” by God (Rm 1  :1).

His first Epistles are addressed to the Thessalonians whom he evangelised in the course of his second voyage (Ac 17  :1-10,) during the summer of 50 A.D. The thought of the Apostle is entirely focused on the ‘ fact ’ of Christ’s resurrection and on the expectation of His coming in glory that will bring salvation to those who will have believed in Him, even those already dead (1 Th 4  :13-18).

“ Even so, the rule holds that the age of any document can only be determined by the age in which each need had manifested itself in the Church.

“ Further, a distinction must be made between the beginning of a fact and its development, for what is born 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, and divide them into two lots, separating those that regard the first stage of the facts from those that deal with their development, and these he must again arrange according to their periods. ”

This is precisely what Fr. Boismard did with the Gospel of St. John in which he discerned three ‘ editorial layers ’ and even a fourth  : John I, John II, John III and John IV  !

“ 43. Then the philosopher must come in again to impose on the historian the obligation of following in all his studies the precepts and laws of evolution. It is next for the historian to scrutinise 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 in its broad lines a history of the development of the facts. The critic follows and fits in the rest of the documents with this sketch  ; he takes up his pen, and soon the history is made complete.

“ 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 a prioriin a way that reeks of heresy. These men are certainly to be pitied, and of them the Apostle might well say  : ‘ They became vain in their thoughts… professing themselves to be wise they became fools ’ (Rm 1  :21-22); but, at the same time, they excite just indignation when they accuse the Church of torturing the texts, arranging and confusing them after its own fashion, and for the needs of its cause. In this they are accusing the Church of something for which their own conscience plainly reproaches them.

“ 44. The result of this dismembering of the Sacred Books 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.

“ This poses no difficulty  !

“ The Modernists have no hesitation in affirming commonly that these Books, and especially the Pentateuch and the first three Gospels, have been gradually formed by additions to a primitive brief narration by interpolations of theological or allegorical interpretation, by transitions, by joining different passages together.

“ This means, briefly, that in the Sacred Books we must admit a vital evolution, springing from and corresponding with 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 them.

“ Indeed this history they do actually write, and with such an easy security that one might believe them to have with their own eyes seen the writers at work through the ages amplifying the Sacred Books.

“ 45. To aid them in this they call to their assistance that branch of criticism which they call textual, and labour to show that such a fact or such a phrase is not in its right place, and 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 decision as to whether a thing is out of place or not. Judge if you can how men with such a system are fitted for practising this kind of criticism. To hear them talk about 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 no one ever even glanced through the pages of Scripture, whereas the truth is that a whole multitude of Doctors, infinitely superior to them in genius, in erudition, in sanctity, have sifted the Sacred Books in every way, and so far from finding imperfections in them, have thanked God more and more the deeper 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 their guide and rule  : a philosophy based on the negation of God, and a criterion that 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 internal and textual criticism. Since it is characteristic of the first cause to communicate its virtue to secondary causes, it is quite clear that the criticism We are concerned with is an agnostic, immanentist, and evolutionist criticism. Hence anyone who embraces it and employs it, makes profession thereby of the errors contained in it, and places himself in opposition to the Catholic Faith.

“ 46. This being so, one cannot but be greatly surprised by the consideration that is attached to it by certain Catholics. Two causes may be assigned for this  : first, the close alliance, independent of all differences of nationality or religion, which the historians and critics of this school have formed among themselves  ; second, the boundless effrontery of these men. Let one of them but open his mouth and the others applaud him in chorus, proclaiming that science has made another step forward  ; let an outsider but hint at a desire to inspect the new discovery with his own eyes, and they are on him in a body  ; deny it, and you are an ignoramus  ; embrace it and defend it, and there is no praise too warm for you. In this way they win over any who, did they but realise what they are doing, would shrink back with horror.

“ The impudence and the domineering of some, and the thoughtlessness and imprudence of others, have combined to generate a pestilence in the air that penetrates everywhere and spreads the contagion.

“ Let us pass to the apologist. ”


“ 47. The Modernist apologist depends in two ways on the philosopher.

“ First, indirectly, inasmuch as his theme is history – history dictated, as we have seen, by the philosopher  ; and, secondly, directly, inasmuch as he takes both his laws and his principles from the philosopher. Hence that common precept of the Modernist school that the new apologetics must be fed from psychological and historical sources. The Modernist apologists, then, enter the arena by 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 composed according to old methods, but real history written on modern principles and according to rigorously modern methods. In all this they are not using an argumentum ad hominem, but are stating the simple fact that they hold, that the truth is to be found only in this kind of history.

“ They feel that it is not necessary for them to dwell on 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 are a kind of salary to them but would only provoke nausea in a real Catholic, but use them as an offset to the reprimands of the Church.

“ 48. Let us see how the Modernist conducts his apologetics.

“ The aim he sets before himself is to make the non-believer attain that experience of the Catholic religion which, according to the system, is the basis of faith. There are two ways open to him, the objective and the subjective.

“ The first of them proceeds 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 recognise that its history hides some unknown element. To this end it is necessary to prove that this religion, as it exists today, is that which was founded by Jesus Christ  ; that is to say, that it is the product of 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 be able to do by the following formula  : Christ announced the coming of the Kingdom of God, which was to be realised within a brief lapse of time and of which He was to become the Messiah, the divinely-given agent and ordainer.

“ Then it must be shown how this germ, always immanent and permanent in the bosom of the Catholic religion, has gone on slowly developing in the course of history, adapting itself successively to the different mediums through which it has passed, borrowing from them by vital assimilation all the dogmatic, liturgical, ecclesiastical forms that served its purpose.

“ 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 that 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, never suspecting that their determination of the primitive germ is an a priori of agnostic and evolutionist philosophy, and that the formula of it has been gratuitously invented for the sake of buttressing their position. ”

What is missing is the demonstration of the historical character of the evangelical “ germ, ” of the Word of God, the seed that “ the Sower went out to sow, ” two thousand years ago.

“ 49. While they endeavour by this line of reasoning to secure access for the Catholic religion into souls, these new apologists are more than willing to grant that there are many distasteful things in it. ”

For example, the Cross of Christ  !

“ Nay, they go so far as to admit openly, and with ill-concealed satisfaction, that they have found that even its dogma is not exempt from errors and contradictions. They add forthwith that this is not only excusable but, curiously enough, even right and proper. In the Sacred Books there are many passages referring to science or history where manifest errors are to be found. The subject of these Books, however, is not science or history, but 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 had science and history been expressed in a more perfect form this would have proved rather a hindrance than a help.

“ Moreover, the Sacred Books being essentially religious, they are consequently necessarily living. Now life has its own truth and its own logic – quite different from rational truth and rational logic, belonging as they do to a different order, viz., truth of adaptation and of proportion both with the medium [sic !]in which it exists and with the end towards which it tends.

“ Finally the Modernists, losing all sense of moderation, go so far as to proclaim as true and legitimate everything that 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 Spirit, have God for their author ’(Conc. Vat., De Revel., c. 2) 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 practise or to believe, which on the same most pernicious rule may not be explained as a lie uttered by the author wilfully and to serve a purpose. ’ (Epist. 28). Thus it will come about, the holy Doctor continues, that‘ everyone will believe and refuse to believe what he likes or dislikes. ’

“ These new apologists, however, pursue their way eagerly. They grant also that certain arguments adduced in the Sacred Books, like those, for example, which are based on the prophecies, have no rational foundation upon which to rest. They, however, will defend even these as artifices of preaching, which are justified by life.

“ 50. Furthermore, 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 Christ 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 matter that 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 contradictions 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 propositions  ! Yet when they justify even contradiction, what is it that they will refuse to justify  ?

“ 51. 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 Modernists return to their doctrine of immanence. They endeavour, in fact, to persuade their non-believer that down in the very deeps 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.

“ Here We cannot but deplore once more, and grievously, 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, with regard to the supernatural order, that there is in human nature not merely a capacity and a suitability for the supernatural – such as has at all times been emphasised by Catholic apologists – but a true and rigorous necessity for it.

“ 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 be called integralists, they would show to the non-believer, hidden in his inmost being, the very germ that Christ Himself bore in His conscience, and that He bequeathed to the world.

“ Such, Venerable Brethren, is a summary description of the apologetic method of the Modernists, in perfect harmony, as you may see, 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 plunging of those who are Catholics into heresy  ; methods and doctrines that would be fatal to all religion.


“ 52. It remains for Us now to say a few words about the Modernist as reformer. From all that has preceded, some idea may be gained of the reforming mania which possesses them  : in all Catholicism there is absolutely nothing on which it does not fasten. They want philosophy to be reformed, especially in the seminaries  : the scholastic philosophy is to be relegated to the history of philosophy among obsolete systems, and the young men are to be taught modern philosophy that 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 for the future written and taught only according to their modern methods and principles. Dogmas and their evolution are to be harmonised with science and history.

“ In the Catechism no dogmas are to be inserted except those that have been duly reformed and are within the capacity of the people.

“ Regarding worship, the number of external devotions is to be reduced, or at least 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.

“ Ecclesiastical government requires to be reformed in all its branches, but especially in its disciplinary and dogmatic parts. Inwardly and outwardly it must be brought into harmony with the modern conscience that now 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 should be decentralised.

“ The Roman Congregations, and especially the Index and the Holy Office, are to be reformed.

“ The ecclesiastical authority must change its line of conduct in the social and political world  ; while keeping outside political and social organisation, 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, both in the estimation in which they must be held and in the exercise of them. The clergy are asked to return to their ancient lowliness and poverty, and in their ideas and action to be guided by the principles of Modernism.

“ There are some who, echoing the teaching of their Protestant masters, would like the suppression of ecclesiastical celibacy.

“ What is there left in the Church that is not to be reformed by them and according to their principles  ? ”

We see that, in the person of Pius X, “ the pride of the reformers ” denounced by Fr. de Nantes in his letter to Pope Paul VI of October 11, 1967, came up against the obstacle which, since St. Paul, had been “ restraining ” the Antichrist in order “ that he may be revealed in his time. ” (2 Th 2  :6).

“ 53. It may be, Venerable Brethren, that some may think We have dwelt at too great length on this exposition of the doctrines of the Modernists. It was necessary, however, both in order to refute 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 in a perfectly organised body, all the parts of which are solidly joined so that it is not possible to admit one without admitting all. For this reason, too, We have had to give this exposition a somewhat didactic form and not to shrink from employing certain uncouth terms in use among the Modernists. Now, can anyone who takes a survey of the whole system be surprised that We should define it as the synthesis of all heresies  ?

“ Were one to attempt the task of collecting together all the errors that have been broached against the Faith and to concentrate the sap and substance of them all into one, he could not better succeed than the Modernists have done. Nay, they have done more 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, for the most sincere and the frankest among them warmly welcome the Modernists as their most valuable allies.

“ 54. Let us return for a moment, Venerable Brethren, to that most pernicious doctrine of agnosticism. By it every avenue that leads the intellect to God is barred, but the Modernists would seek to open others available for sentiment and action. Vain efforts  ! For, after all, what is sentiment but the reaction of the soul on the action of the intelligence or the senses. Take away the intelligence, and man, already inclined to follow the senses, becomes their slave.

“ Vain, too, from another point of view, for all these fantasias on the religious sentiment 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 course, of truth in itself. As for that other purely subjective truth, the fruit of sentiment and action, if it serves its purpose for the jugglery of words, it is of no use 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 do call in experience to eke out their system, but what does this experience add to sentiment  ? Absolutely nothing beyond a certain intensity and a proportionate deepening of the conviction of the reality of the object. These two, however, will never make sentiment into anything but sentiment, nor deprive it of its characteristic that is to cause deception when the intelligence is not there to guide it  ; on the contrary, they but confirm and aggravate this characteristic, for the more intense sentiment is the more it is sentimental.

“ In matters of religious sentiment and religious experience, you know, Venerable Brethren, how necessary is prudence and how necessary, too, the science that directs prudence. 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 books on ascetical theology – books for which the Modernists have but little esteem, but which testify to a science and a solidity far greater than theirs.

“ Is it not really folly, or at least sovereign imprudence, to trust oneself without control to experiences like those that are the vaunt of the Modernists  ?

“ 55. Let us for a moment put the question  : if these experiences have so much value in their eyes, why do they not attach equal weight to the experience that thousands upon thousands of Catholics have that the Modernists are on the wrong road  ? It is, perchance, that the Catholic experiences are the only ones that are false and deceptive  ? The vast majority of mankind holds and always will hold firmly that sentiment and experience alone, when not enlightened and guided by reason, do not lead to the knowledge of God. What remains, then, but the annihilation of all religion and atheism  ?

“ 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 pure symbol, and if this be admitted will not the personality of God become a matter of doubt and the way opened to pantheism  ?

“ And to pantheism that other doctrine of the divine immanence leads directly. For does it, We ask, leave God distinct from man or not  ? If yes, in what does it differ from Catholic doctrine, and why reject external revelation  ? If no, we are at once in 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 same conclusion follows from the distinction Modernists make between science and faith.

“ 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 its disproportion with the intelligible, a disproportion that 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 man of science. Therefore if any religion at all is possible it can only be the religion of an unknowable reality. And why this reality might not be that universal soul of the universe, of which certain rationalists speak, is something that does not seem to Us apparent. ”

This is an extraordinary prophetical heralding of Theilhard  !

“ Certainly this suffices to show superabundantly by how many roads Modernism leads to the annihilation of all religion.

“ The first step in this direction was taken by Protestantism  ; the second is made by Modernism  ; the next will plunge headlong into atheism. ”

With a frankness that does him credit, Fr. Martelet, S. J., who was in favour in Rome, admitted forthrightly to the Council Fathers  :

“ If you wish to base Religious Liberty on God, you will obviously never succeed, because the relation between God and Christ and the Church is direct and rules out State secularism as well as ecumenism. God must therefore be put in parentheses (sic) and your schema must be based on human dignity. ” Everyone found this proposal acceptable. (testimony of Fr. Joseph Hamon, Eudist, who attended the Council as a translator, quoted in CCR no. 315, January 1999, p. 34).


“ 56. To penetrate still deeper into Modernism and to find a suitable remedy for such a deep sore, it behoves Us, Venerable Brethren, to investigate the causes that have engendered it and that foster its growth.

“ 57. That the proximate and immediate cause consists in a perversion of the mind cannot be open to doubt. The remote causes seem to us to be reduced to two  : curiosity and pride. Curiosity by itself, if not prudently regulated, suffices to explain 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 Church wherein truth is found without the slightest shadow of error(Ep. Encycl. Singulari nos, 7 Kal. Jul. 1834).

“ It is pride, however, that exercises an incomparably greater sway over the soul to blind it and plunge it into error, and pride sits in Modernism as in its own house, finding sustenance everywhere in its doctrines and an occasion to flaunt itself in all its aspects.

“ It is pride that fills Modernists with that confidence in themselves and leads them to hold themselves up as the rule for all, pride that puffs them up with that vainglory which allows them to regard themselves as the sole possessors of knowledge, and makes them say, 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 that rouses in them the spirit of disobedience and causes them to demand a compromise between authority and liberty. It is pride that makes of them the reformers of others, while they forget to reform themselves, and which begets their absolute want of respect for authority, not excepting the supreme authority.

“ Truly, there is no road that leads so directly and so quickly to Modernism as pride. When a Catholic laymen or a priest forgets that fundamental precept of the Christian life which obliges us to renounce ourselves if we would follow Jesus Christ and neglects to tear pride from his heart, then it is he, this layman or priest, who most of all is a fully ripe subject for all the errors of Modernism.

“ Hence, Venerable Brethren, it will be your first duty to thwart such proud men, to employ them only in the lowest and obscurest offices  ; the higher they try to rise, the lower let them be placed, so that their lowly position may deprive them of the power of causing damage.

“ Sound your young clerics, too, most carefully, by yourselves and by the directors of your seminaries, and when you find the spirit of pride among any of them reject them without compunction from the priesthood. Would to God that this had always been done with the proper vigilance and constancy  ! ”


“ 58. If we pass from the moral to the intellectual causes of Modernism, the first that presents itself, and the chief one, is ignorance. Yes, these very Modernists who pose 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 recognise confusion of thought, and to refute sophistry.

“ Their whole system, with all its errors, has been born of the alliance between faith and false philosophy.

“ 59. If only they had displayed less zeal and energy in propagating it  ! Yet 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 employed.

“ 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 instrument that can serve their purpose.

“ They recognise that the three chief difficulties for them are scholastic philosophy, the authority of the Fathers and Tradition, and the Magisterium of the Church, and on these they wage unrelenting war.

“ For scholastic philosophy and theology they have only ridicule and contempt. Is it ignorance or fear that inspires this conduct in them  ? Truth to tell, it is both. It is a fact that the passion for novelty is always united in them with hatred of scholasticism, and there is no surer sign that a man is on the way to Modernism than when he begins to show his dislike for this system.

“ Modernists and their admirers should remember the proposition condemned by Pius IX  : The method and principles that have served the doctors of scholasticism when treating of theology no longer correspond with the exigencies of our time or the progress of science (Syll. Prop. 13).

“ They exercise all their ingenuity in falsifying the character and undermining the authority of Tradition, so as to abolish its memory and influence. For Catholics, however, the second Council of Nicaea will always have the force of law, where it condemns those who dare, after the impious fashion of heretics, to deride the ecclesiastical traditions, to invent novelties of some kind […] or endeavour by malice or craft to overthrow any one of the legitimate traditions of the Catholic Church.

“ Catholics will hold for law, also, the profession of the fourth Council of Constantinople  : We therefore profess to conserve 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 every one 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 the same judgement on the most holy Fathers of the Church as they pass on Tradition  ; decreeing, with amazing effrontery that, while personally most worthy of all veneration, they were entirely ignorant of history and criticism, for which they are only excusable on account of the time in which they lived.

“ 60. Finally, the Modernists try in every way to disparage the ecclesiastical Magisterium and weaken its authority by sacrilegiously falsifying its origin, character, and rights, and by freely repeating the calumnies of its adversaries. To all the band of Modernists may be applied those words that Our Predecessor wrote with such pain  : 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 perfidious 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(Motu-Proprio, Ut Mysticum, March 14, 1891).

“ This being so, Venerable Brethren, it is no wonder that the Modernists vent all their gall and hatred on Catholics who sturdily fight the battles of the Church. Yet of all the insults they heap on them those of ignorance and obstinacy are the favourites. When an adversary rises up against them with an erudition and force that render him redoubtable, they seek to make a conspiracy of silence around him to nullify the effects of his attack, while in flagrant contrast with this policy towards Catholics, they load with constant praise the writers who range themselves on their side, hailing their works.

“ When a book exuding novelty in every page is published, they greet it with choruses of applause and belaud it with admiration  ; 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 horror of good Catholics, gather round him, heap public praise upon him, venerate him almost as a martyr to truth.

“ The young, excited and confused by all this glamour of praise and abuse, some of them afraid of being branded as ignorant, others ambitious to be considered learned, and both classes goaded internally by curiosity and pride, often surrender and give themselves up to Modernism.

“ 61. Here we have already some of the artifices employed by Modernists to exploit their wares. What efforts they make to win new recruits  ! They seize upon chairs in the seminaries and universities, and gradually make of them chairs of pestilence.

“ From these sacred chairs they scatter, though not always openly, the seeds of their doctrines  ; they proclaim their teachings without disguise in congresses  ; they introduce them and make them the vogue in social institutions. 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 whole multitude of Modernist writers.

“ In short, with feverish activity they leave nothing untried, in action, discourses, writings. What is the results of all this  ? We have to lament at the sight of many young men once full of promise and capable of rendering great services to the Church, now gone astray.

“ There is another sight that saddens Us too  : that of so many other Catholics, who, while they certainly do not go so far as the former, have yet grown into the habit, as though they had been breathing a poisoned atmosphere, of thinking and speaking and writing with a liberty that ill becomes Catholics. 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 institutes. If they treat of biblical questions, it is upon Modernist principles  ; if they write history, it is to search out with curiosity and to publish openly, on the pretext of telling the whole truth and with a species of ill-concealed satisfaction, everything that looks to them like a stain in the history of the Church. ”

‘ The Galileo affair  ! ’

“ Under the sway of certain a priori conceptions, they destroy as far as they can the pious traditions of the people, and bring ridicule on certain relics highly venerable from their antiquity. ”

The Holy Shroud of Turin  !

The miraculous image of Our Lady of Guadalupe  !

“ They are possessed by the empty desire of being talked about, and they know they would never succeed in this were they to say only what has been always said. 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 themselves than by the spirit in which they write and by the encouragement they are giving to the extravagances of the Modernists. ”


“ 62. Against this host of grave errors, and its secret and open advance, Our Predecessor Leo XIII, of happy memory, worked strenuously, both in his words and his acts, especially as regards the Bible. As we have seen, however, the Modernists are not easily deterred by such weapons. With an affectation of submission and respect, they proceeded to twist the words of the Pontiff to their own sense, and his acts they described as directed against others than themselves. ”

After Leo XIII’s death, the Jesuit Father Fontaine had the courage to write in the guise of a funeral oration  : “ ‘ Never has any other Pope before Leo XIII written so many encyclicals of every kind, dealing with biblical, philosophical and theological questions. And yet which of his predecessors left the Church of France in such doctrinal disarray and intellectual anarchy to equal ours  ? ’ ” (quoted by Georges de Nantes, CCR no. 69, December 1975, p. 9)

“ The evil has gone on increasing from day to day. We therefore, Venerable Brethren, have determined to adopt at once the most efficacious measures in Our power.

“ We beseech and conjure you to see to it that in this most grave matter no one will ever be able to say that you have been in the slightest degree wanting in vigilance, zeal or firmness. Furthermore, 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 institutions.

“ 63. In the first place, with regard to studies, We will and 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 that may be regarded as an excess of subtlety, anything that is not in keeping with the certain results of later times or that is altogether destitute of probability, We have no desire whatever to propose it for the imitation of present generations(Leo XIII, Enc. Aeterni Patris). Let it be clearly understood above all things that the scholastic philosophy We prescribe is that which the Angelic Doctor has bequeathed to us. ”

It is in fact absolutely essential to distinguish St. Thomas from the ‘ Thomists, ’ such as Jacques Maritain  ! Fr. de Nantes explains the substance of St. Pius X’s thought when he writes  : “ It seems to us that Thomism saves the full reality of nature and grace from Modernism, just as above it seemed to us that it saved the truth from the onslaughts of subjectivism. The relevance of St. Thomas is manifested here as the safeguard of the very foundation of our faith, our morality, our intellectual attitude and our civilisation. To abandon Thomism would be tantamount to returning to intellectual and moral barbarism. ” (CRC no. 80, May 1974, p. 12)

“ 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 ordain that they be by all strictly observed. In seminaries where they may have been neglected let the Bishops impose them and require their observance, and let this apply also to the Superiors of religious institutions. Further, We admonish professors to bear well in mind that they cannot set St. Thomas aside, especially in metaphysical questions, without grave detriment.

“ 64. On this philosophical foundation the theological edifice is to be solidly 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 their delight in it. 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.(Leo XIII, Lett. ap. In Magna, Dec. 10, 1889).

 “ We will add that We deem worthy of praise those who with full respect for Tradition, the Holy Fathers, and the ecclesiastical Magisterium, undertake, with well-balanced judgement and guided by Catholic principles (which is not always the case), seek to illustrate positive theology by throwing the light of true history upon it. 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 of Modernist tendencies who exalt positive theology in such a way as to seem to despise the scholastic.

“ 65. With regard to profane studies suffice it 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. ’(Leo XIII, Alloc., March 7, 1880).

“ Do this, however, without interfering with sacred studies, as Our Predecessor in these most grave words prescribed  : 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 splendour of the former estate is dimmed, they have been disfigured by perverse doctrines and monstrous errors (loco cit.).

“ We ordain, therefore, that the study of natural science in the seminaries be carried on under this law.

“ 66. All these prescriptions and those of Our Predecessor are to be borne in mind whenever there is question of choosing directors and professors for seminaries and Catholic Universities.

“ Anyone who in any way is found to be imbued 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 favour Modernism either by extolling the Modernists or excusing their culpable conduct, by criticising scholasticism, the holy Fathers, or by refusing obedience to ecclesiastical authority in any of its depositaries  ; 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 profane.

“ 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 modelled after the pattern of their masters. Strong in the consciousness of your duty, act always prudently but vigorously.

“ 67. 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 hates the proud and the obstinate.

“ For the future the doctorate of theology and canon law must never be conferred on anyone who has not 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 nations.

“ 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.

“ 68. It is also the duty of the bishops to prevent writings infected with Modernism or favourable to it from being read when they have been published, and to hinder their publication when they have not. No book or paper or periodical of this kind must ever be permitted to seminarians or university students. The injury to them would be equal to that 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 badly disposed themselves but ill-instructed in theological studies and imbued with modern philosophy, strive to make this harmonise with the Faith and, as they say, to turn it to the account of the Faith. The name and reputation of these authors cause them to be read without suspicion, and they are, therefore, all the more dangerous in gradually preparing the way for Modernism.

“ 69. To give you 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 put down writings of this kind, but the number of them has now grown to such an extent that it is impossible to censure them all. Hence it happens that the medicine sometimes 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 outcries of the wicked, gently by all means but constantly, do each his own share of 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.

“ In this passage the Bishops, it is true, receive a right, but they have also a duty imposed on them. Let no Bishop think that he fulfils this 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, Venerable Brethren, by the fact that an author has obtained the Imprimatur elsewhere, both because this may be merely simulated, and because it may have been granted through carelessness or easiness or excessive confidence in the author as may sometimes happen in religious Orders. Besides, just as the same food does not agree equally 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 not only give him ample faculty for the purpose but We impose it upon him as a duty to do so.

“ Of course, it is Our wish that all this be done in a fitting manner, and sometimes it will suffice to restrict the prohibition to the clergy  ; but even in such cases it will be obligatory on Catholic booksellers not to put on sale books condemned by the Bishop. While We are treating of this subject, We wish the Bishops to see to it that booksellers do not, through desire for gain, put on sale unsound books. It is certain that in the catalogues of some of them a good many of these Modernist works are enticingly advertised. If they refuse obedience let the Bishops, after due admonition, have no hesitation in depriving them of the title of Catholic booksellers  ; so too, and with more reason, if they have the title of Episcopal booksellers, and if they have that of Pontifical, let them be denounced to the Holy See.

“ Finally, We remind all of Article 16 of the abovementioned Constitution Officiorum   : All those who have obtained an apostolic faculty to read and keep forbidden books, are not thereby authorised to read books and periodicals forbidden by the local Ordinaries, unless the apostolic faculty expressly concedes permission to read and keep books condemned by anyone whomsoever. ”


“ 70. 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 severity in granting permission to print. Under the rules of the Constitution Officiorum, many publications require the authorisation of the Ordinary and, since the Bishop cannot personally make himself acquainted with them all, in some dioceses it has been made the custom to have a suitable number of official censors for the examination of writings. We have the highest praise for this institution, and We not only exhort, but We order that it be extended to all dioceses.

“ In all episcopal Curias, therefore, let official censors be appointed for the revision of works intended for publication. They are to be chosen from both ranks of the clergy – secular and regular – men of age, knowledge and prudence who, as regards doctrine to be approved or censured, will know how to follow the golden mean in their judgements. It shall be their office to examine everything that requires permission for publication according to Articles 41 and 42 of the above-mentioned Constitution. The Censor shall give his verdict in writing. If it be favourable, the Bishop will give the permission for publication by the word Imprimatur, which must always be preceded by the Nihil obstat followed by the name of the Censor.

“ In the Curia of Rome official censors shall be appointed just as elsewhere, and the appointment of them shall appertain to the Master of the Sacred Palaces, after they have been proposed to the Cardinal Vicar and accepted by the Sovereign Pontiff. It will also be the office of the Master of the Sacred Palaces 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 always be preceded by the Nihil obstat, followed by the name of the Censor.

“ Only on very rare and exceptional occasions, 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 favourable decision, so that he may not have to suffer annoyance either while he is engaged in the examination of a writing or in case he should deny 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 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 has no value and can never be adduced to give credit to the private opinions of the person who holds it.

“ 71. Having said this much in general, We now ordain in particular a more careful observance of Article 42 of the above-mentioned Constitution Officiorum. It is forbidden to priests, both secular and regular, without the previous consent of the Ordinary, to undertake the direction of papers or periodicals. This permission shall be withdrawn from any priest who makes a wrong use of it after having been admonished. With regard to priests who are correspondents or collaborators of periodicals, as it happens not unfrequently that they write matter infected with Modernism for 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 fulfil 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. The Bishop shall have the same right even when the Censor has seen nothing objectionable in a publication. ”


“ 72. 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 motions or postulates 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 take part 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 (Lett. Encyc. Nobilissima Gallorum, 10 Feb., 1884). ”


 “ 73. Yet 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 laid down with great wisdom many years ago by the Bishops of Umbria for theirs.  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 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 nipping the evil in the bud and preventing it spreading for the ruin of souls or, worse still, gaining strength and growth (Acts of the Congress of the Bishops of Umbria, Nov. 1849, tit. 2, art. 6).

“ 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 under the presidency of the Bishop. They shall be bound to secrecy as to their deliberations and decisions.

“ Their function shall be as follows  : They shall watch most carefully for every trace and sign of Modernism both in publications and in teaching and, to preserve from it the clergy and the young, 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 of a style inspired by unsound novelty that seems to deride the piety of the faithful and dwells on the introduction of a new order of Christian life, on new doctrines of the Church, on new aspirations of the Christian soul, on a new social vocation of the clergy, on a new Christian civilisation and many other things of the same kind (January 27, 1902). Language of the kind here indicated is not to be tolerated either in books or lectures.

“ 74. 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 papers or in periodicals destined to stimulate piety, neither with expressions savouring of mockery or contempt, nor 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 merely based on prejudiced opinion. ”


“ 75. Concerning sacred relics, let this be the rule  : When Bishops, who alone are judges in such matters, know for certain the 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 Sacred Congregation of Indulgences and 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.

“ In passing judgement on pious traditions be it always 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 but forbid belief in things for which human arguments are not wanting. On this matter the Sacred Congregation of Rites, thirty years ago, decreed as follows  : These apparitions and revelations have neither been approved nor condemned by the Holy See, which has simply allowed that they be believed on purely human faith, on the tradition that they relate, corroborated by testimonies and documents worthy of credence(Decree, May 2, 1877).

“ Anyone who follows this rule has no cause for fear. For the devotion based on any apparition, in as far as it regards the fact itself, that is to say in as far as it is relative, always implies the hypothesis of the truth of the fact  ; while in as far as it is absolute, it must always be based on the truth, seeing that its object is the persons of the saints who are honoured. 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 harbour no trace of Modernism, but obey the prescriptions of the Roman Pontiffs. ”


“ 76. Lest what We have laid down thus far should fall 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 all the prescriptions contained in them, 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 under them.

“ 77. This, Venerable Brethren, is what We have thought it our duty to write to you for the salvation of all who believe. The adversaries of the Church will doubtless abuse what We have said to refurbish the old calumny by which she is traduced as the enemy of science and of the progress of humanity. In order to oppose a new answer to such accusations, which the history of the Christian religion refutes by never failing arguments, it is Our intention to establish and develop 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 progress of science and other realms of knowledge may be promoted under the guidance and teaching of Catholic truth. God grant that we may happily realise our design with the ready assistance of all those who bear a sincere love for the Church of Christ. ”

This project of a Pontifical Academy of Sciences was successfully carried through during St. Pius X’s lifetime, and was inaugurated by the Pope who opened in person the Pontifical Biblical Institute that was entrusted to the Jesuits.

“ Meanwhile, Venerable Brethren, fully confident in your zeal and work, 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 from every side, you may see clearly what you ought to do and may perform the task with all your strength and courage. May Jesus Christ, the author and finisher of our faith, be with you by 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 divine assistance in adversity, grant most affectionately and with all Our heart to you, your clergy and people the Apostolic Benediction.

“ 78. Given at St. Peter’s, Rome, on the 8th day of September, 1907, the fifth year of Our Pontificate.

“ Pius X, Pope. ”


Excerpt of the Motu proprio given by His Holiness St. Pius X, September 1, 1910.

“ 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 Rm 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 judgement 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 labour, 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 (Iren. IV, c. 26). 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 (Tertullian, De Præscr. c. 28).

“ 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. ”


The sight of the evil that was ravaging the world and that would soon lead it to appalling chastisements, aroused deep feelings of dread, but also of confidence in the fervent soul of Giuseppe Sarto, elected pope on August 4, 1903. While preparing his encyclical E Supremi Apostolatus Cathedra, published on October 4, in which he denounced the prodigious apostasy that was paving the way for the Antichrist, he simultaneously proposed the remedy for such evils by writing a panegyric of the Immaculate Virgin, Ad Diem Illum, which was published on February 2, 1904  :

“ We must not omit to say that this desire of Ours is especially stimulated by a secret premonition which leads Us to regard as not far distant the fulfillment of those great hopes to which, certainly not rashly, the solemn promulgation of the dogma of the Immaculate Conception opened the minds of Pius IX, Our predecessor, and of all the Bishops of the universe.

“ Many, it is true, lament the fact that until now these hopes have been unfulfilled […]. All such, however, will be certainly rebuked as ‘ men of little faith, ’ who make no effort to penetrate the works of God or to estimate them in the light of truth. For who can number the secret gifts of grace that God has bestowed upon His Church through the intercession of the Blessed Virgin throughout this period  ? ” The Pope quotes the Vatican Council, with the definition of pontifical infallibility, not forgetting this outburst of piety that makes the faithful of all languages and climates flock to the feet of the Vicar of Jesus Christ, to venerate him in person. “ Then, again, no sooner had Pius IX, proclaimed as a dogma of Catholic faith the exemption of Mary from the original stain, than the Virgin Herself began in Lourdes those wonderful manifestations, followed by the vast and magnificent movements which have produced those two temples dedicated to the Immaculate Mother, where the prodigies which still continue to take place through Her intercession furnish splendid arguments against the incredulity of our days.

“ Witnesses, then, as we are of all these great benefits which God has granted through the benign influence of the Virgin in those fifty years now about to be completed, why should we not believe that our salvation is nearer than we thought; all the more since we know from experience that, in the dispensation of Divine Providence, when evils reach their limit, deliverance is not far distant. ‘ Her time is near at hand, and Her days shall not be prolonged. For the Lord will have mercy on Jacob and will choose one out of Israel. ’ Wherefore the hope we cherish is not a vain one, that we, too, may before long repeat  : ‘ The Lord has broken the staff of the wicked, the rod of the rulers. The whole earth is quiet and still, it is glad and has rejoiced. ’ ”

Then the holy Pope expounded the purest Marian doctrine to convince us that the Immaculate is truly the “ Reparatrix of fallen humanity. ”

Today, however, there is more  :

“ What truly is the point of departure of the enemies of religion for the sowing of such numerous and grave errors by which the faith of so many is shaken  ?

“ They begin by denying that man has fallen by sin and been cast down from his former position. Hence they regard as mere fables original sin and all the evils that were its consequence  : humanity vitiated in its source, vitiating in turn the whole race of man, evil consequently introduced amongst men, and the necessity for a Redeemer. All this rejected, it is easy to understand that no place is left for Christ, for the Church, for grace or for anything that is above and beyond nature  ; in a word, the whole edifice of faith is shaken from top to bottom. Yet let people believe and confess that the Virgin Mary has been from the first moment of Her conception preserved from all stain  ; from that point, it is straightway necessary that they should admit both original sin and the rehabilitation of the human race by Jesus Christ, the Gospel, the Church and finally the law of suffering. By virtue of this, rationalism and materialism are torn up by the roots and destroyed, and there remains to Christian wisdom the glory of having preserved and defended the truth.

“ It is moreover a vice common to the enemies of the Faith of our time especially that they repudiate and proclaim the necessity of repudiating all respect and obedience for the authority of the Church, and even of any human power, in the idea that it will thus be more easy to make an end of faith.

“ Here we have the origin of Anarchism, than which nothing is more pernicious and pestilent to the order of things whether natural or supernatural.

“ Now this plague, which is equally fatal to society at large and to Christianity, finds its ruin in the dogma of the Immaculate Conception by the obligation which it imposes of recognising in the Church a power before which not only has the will to bow, but the intelligence to subject itself. It is from a subjection of the reason of this sort that Christian people sing thus the praise of the Mother of God  : ‘ You are all fair, O Mary, and the stain of original sin is not in You. ’ And thus once again is justified what the Church attributes to this august Virgin, that She has exterminated all heresies in the world. ”

Brother Bruno of Jesus-Mary