Encyclical of Pope Pius IX promulgated on October 27, 1867
To the Venerable Brothers Patriarchs, Primates, Archbishops and Bishops of the Entire Catholic Community in Favor and Communion with the Apostolic See.
Venerable Brothers, Greetings and Apostolic Benediction.
Lift up your eyes, venerable brothers. Look about you and grieve at the evil abominations which now defile unhappy Italy. We can but humbly revere the inscrutable judgments of God, which destined Us to live in these most sorrowful times. By the efforts of many, particularly those who hold power in Italy, the venerable commands of God and the sacred laws of the Church are completely despised. Here triumphant impiety rears her ugly head, and here We grieve to see all kinds of injustice, evil, and destruction. Hence the many phalanxes of rebels, men who walk in impiety and fight under the standard of Satan - a leader branded with deceit. Raising their mouths to the very heavens, they blaspheme God; polluting and scorning all that is sacred, they trample underfoot all laws, divine and human. Like ravening wolves panting after their prey, they spill blood and destroy souls with their grievous scandal. They seek the unjust gain of their own malice and seize the property of others.
Then they sadden the lowly and the poor, making widows of wives and orphans of happy children. They pardon the impious and condemn the just, for there are bribes to take and goods to steal; with a corrupt heart they satisfy every depraved desire, to the detriment of all civil society.
2. At present We are surrounded by evil men of this sort, men entirely animated by a diabolical spirit. They plan to raise the standard of lies in this beloved city of Ours, before the very Chair of Peter, the center of Catholic truth and unity. And the officials of the government of Piedmont, who should have repressed these uprisings, have aided them in every way. They supply them with arms and other goods and even fortify the approach to this city. But these officials, though they hold the highest rank in civil government, are fearful because through their wickedness they ensnare themselves in a net of ecclesiastical penalties and censures. In the humility of Our heart We continue to beseech the God of mercy to return these miserable men to a salutary penitence and to the straight path of justice, religion, and piety. Nevertheless We must declare the dangers We are exposed to in this hour of darkness. We tranquilly await whatever events may bring, be it nefarious frauds, calumnies, treachery, or lies. We place all Our hope in the God of Our salvation, who is Our helper and strength in all Our tribulations. He does not permit those who trust in Him to be confounded, He who thwarts the attacks of the impious and breaks the necks of sinners. In the meantime We are anxious to inform you and your faithful of the sad condition and the great danger in which We live, due especially to the activity of the Piedmont government. Although Our faithful army defends Us vigorously and heroically, it is clear that they cannot resist for long because they are greatly outnumbered by these unjust aggressors. The filial piety of Our subjects, now greatly reduced in number by the evil usurpers, consoles Us. But We must also grieve since they suffer serious dangers rising against them from the savage throngs of the wicked, who terrify them constantly with all sorts of threats and plunder them exhaustively.
Evils in Poland and Russia
3. But We have other evils to deplore, too. You know well from Our consistorial address of October 29 of last year, and from its publication with supporting documents, the many calamities with which the Catholic Church and her sons are troubled in the Russian Empire and in the Polish Kingdom. There the Catholic bishops, the ecclesiastics, and the lay faithful are exiled, thrown into prison, harassed in every way, robbed of their possessions, and oppressed with severe penalties. The canons and laws of the Church are completely trampled underfoot. And not at all content with this, the Russian government continues with its long-standing plan to violate the teaching of the Church and to break the chain of union and communication between those faithful to Us and the Holy See. The government strives to overthrow the Catholic religion completely in regions, separating the faithful from the Church in order to draw them into a disastrous schism. With great sorrow We inform you that that government has issued two decrees after the last address We mentioned. An abhorrent decree promulgated last May 22 suppressed the Polish diocese of Podlachia, together with its college of canons, the Consistory General, and the diocesan seminary. The bishop of the diocese was separated from his flock and at once forced to leave his territory. And this decree is similar to the one published last June 3, which We were not able to mention because We had no knowledge of it. By this decree the same government arbitrarily suppressed the diocese of Kamieniec and dispersed its college of canons, Consistory, and seminary; then it violently tore its bishop from his diocese.
Communication by Papal Decree
4. Now since We cannot communicate with those faithful, and also lest someone be exposed to arrest, exile, or some other penalty, We have been compelled to insert an Act in Our publication to provide for the exercise of legitimate jurisdiction in those extensive dioceses and for the spiritual needs of the faithful. By means of the printed word, notice of Our plans will reach them. Anyone can easily understand the attitude and purpose with which the Russian government would publish such a decree, since the suppression of dioceses is added to the absence of many bishops.
5. But what adds to Our bitterness is another decree of this same government, promulgated last May 22, by which a college was established in St. Petersburg, a college called "Roman Catholic Ecclesiastical," with the presiding officer the Archbishop of Mohilev. All petitions pertaining to matters of faith and conscience which the bishops, clergy, and faithful of the Russian Empire and Polish Kingdom send to Us and this Apostolic See are first to be sent to this college. This same college is to examine them to determine whether the petitions exceed the power of the bishops; if so, it will send them to Us. But after Our decision reaches there, the presiding officer of the college is bound to send this decision to the minister of internal affairs, who is to determine whether it contains anything against the laws of the state and the rights of the supreme ruler. If nothing is found, he may execute it according to his will and judgment.
Condemnation of This College
6. You surely see how vehemently a decree of this kind must be condemned. This schismatic secular power destroys the constitution of the Catholic Church and subverts ecclesiastical discipline. Furthermore, it inflicts the greatest injury on Our supreme Pontificate, on the power and authority of this Holy See and of the bishops, and on the liberty of the highest pastor of all the faithful. It therefore drives the faithful to a mournful schism and even tramples underfoot natural law in matters pertaining to faith and conscience.
7. Add to this that the Catholic Academy of Warsaw has been closed and that a sad ruin awaits the Ruthenian dioceses of Chelm and Belzium. And what is most grievous is that a certain priest Woicicki has been found whose faith is suspect and who has no regard for ecclesiastical penalties and censures, nor for the terrible judgment of God. He was not afraid to accept the rule and administration of this same diocese from that civil power, nor to issue ordinances contrary to ecclesiastical discipline and favoring schism.
8. In these calamitous difficulties, no one fights for Us except Our Lord and God. We earnestly beseech you, because of your love for things Catholic and your devotion to Us, that you join your most fervent prayers with Ours. Together with all your clergy and faithful people, beseech God unceasingly to snatch His Holy Church and Us from such great evils. The sons of this same Church, who are most dear to Us, are exposed to many plots and afflicted with many hardships almost everywhere, but especially in Italy, in the Russian Empire, and in the Kingdom of Poland. Pray that God may aid and defend them by His omnipotent power. Pray that He may preserve, confirm, and strengthen them more each day in the Catholic faith and the profession of its salutary doctrines. Pray that He thwart all the impious plans of hostile men, recalling them from the abyss of iniquity to the way of salvation and leading them in the path of His commandments.
9. Therefore We desire that within six months a three-day period of public prayer be proclaimed in your dioceses; for those beyond the sea, the proclamation should be made within one year. To encourage more ardent devotion at these prayers, We grant mercifully in the Lord a plenary indulgence and the remission of all their sins to each and all the faithful in Christ, both men and women, who are devoutly present at these prayers on these three days, who have prayed to God for the present necessities of the Church according to Our intention, who have expiated their sins by sacramental confession, and who have received holy communion. But to the faithful who with at least a contrite heart are present on any one of these days, and have performed the other works, We grant an indulgence of seven years, and We relax as many forty day periods of the penance enjoined on them or otherwise owed by them, in accordance with the usual custom of the Church. We also grant that these indulgences, all and singly, the remission of sins, and the relaxation of penances are applicable by way of suffrage to the souls of the faithful who, joined to God by love, have left this life. We also declare that anything to the contrary has no power to resist Our decrees.
10. Finally, nothing is more pleasing to Us than that We may use this occasion to testify and confirm the great benevolence with which We embrace you in the Lord. Receive as a certain pledge of this the Apostolic Benediction which We impart most lovingly to you, venerable brothers, and to all the clergy and faithful laity entrusted to your vigilance.
Given at Rome at St. Peter's, October 21, 1867, in the twenty second of Our pontificate.
Pius IX, Pope. 1864.
I. Pantheism, Naturalism and Absolute Rationalism
1. There exists no Supreme, all-wise, all-provident Divine Being, distinct from the universe, and God is identical with the nature of things, and is, therefore, subject to changes. In effect, God is produced in man and in the world, and all things are God and have the very substance of God, and God is one and the same thing with the world, and, therefore, spirit with matter, necessity with liberty, good with evil, justice with injustice.--Allocution Maxima quidem, June 9, 1862.
2. All action of God upon man and the world is to be denied.-- Ibid.
3. Human reason, without any reference whatsoever to God, is the sole arbiter of truth and falsehood, and of good and evil; it is law to itself, and suffices, by its natural force, to secure the welfare of men and of nations.--Ibid.
4. All the truths of religion proceed from the innate strength of human reason; hence reason is the ultimate standard by which man can and ought to arrive at the knowledge of all truths of every kind.--Ibid. and Encyclical Qui pluribus, Nov. 9, 1846, etc.
5. Divine revelation is imperfect, and therefore subject to a continual and indefinite progress, corresponding with the advancement of human reason.--Ibid.
6. The faith of Christ is in opposition to human reason and divine revelation not only is not useful, but is even hurtful to the perfection of man.--Ibid.
7. The prophecies and miracles set forth and recorded in the Sacred Scriptures are the fiction of poets, and the mysteries of the Christian faith the result of philosophical investigations. In the books of the Old and the New Testament there are contained mythical inventions, and Jesus Christ is Himself a myth.
II. Moderate Rationalism
8. As human reason is placed on a level with religion itself, so theological must be treated in the same manner as philosophical sciences.--Allocution Singulari quadam, Dec. 9, 1854.
9. All the dogmas of the Christian religion are indiscriminately the object of natural science or philosophy, and human reason, enlightened solely in an historical way, is able, by its own natural strength and principles, to attain to the true science of even the most abstruse dogmas; provided only that such dogmas be proposed to reason itself as its object.--Letters to the Archbishop of Munich, Gravissimas inter, Dec. 11, 1862, and Tuas libenter, Dec. 21, 1863.
10. As the philosopher is one thing, and philosophy another, so it is the right and duty of the philosopher to subject himself to the authority which he shall have proved to be true; but philosophy neither can nor ought to submit to any such authority.--Ibid., Dec. 11, 1862.
11. The Church not only ought never to pass judgment on philosophy, but ought to tolerate the errors of philosophy, leaving it to correct itself.--Ibid., Dec. 21, 1863.
12. The decrees of the Apostolic See and of the Roman congregations impede the true progress of science.--Ibid.
13. The method and principles by which the old scholastic doctors cultivated theology are no longer suitable to the demands of our times and to the progress of the sciences.--Ibid.
14. Philosophy is to be treated without taking any account of supernatural revelation.--Ibid.
III. Indifferentism, Latitudinarianism
15. Every man is free to embrace and profess that religion which, guided by the light of reason, he shall consider true.-- Allocution Maxima quidem, June 9, 1862; Damnatio Multiplices inter, June 10, 1851.
16. Man may, in the observance of any religion whatever, find the way of eternal salvation, and arrive at eternal salvation.-- Encyclical Qui pluribus, Nov. 9, 1846.
17. Good hope at least is to be entertained of the eternal salvation of all those who are not at all in the true Church of Christ.--Encyclical Quanto conficiamur, Aug. 10, 1863, etc.
18. Protestantism is nothing more than another form of the same true Christian religion, in which form it is given to please God equally as in the Catholic Church.--Encyclical Noscitis, Dec. 8, 1849.
IV. Socialism, Communism, Secret Societies, Biblical Societies, Clerico-Liberal Societies
Pests of this kind are frequently reprobated in the severest terms in the Encyclical Qui pluribus, Nov. 9, 1846, Allocution Quibus quantisque, April 20, 1849, Encyclical Noscitis et nobiscum, Dec. 8, 1849, Allocution Singulari quadam, Dec. 9, 1854, Encyclical Quanto conficiamur, Aug. 10, 1863.
V. Errors Concerning the Church and Her Rights
19. The Church is not a true and perfect society, entirely free- nor is she endowed with proper and perpetual rights of her own, conferred upon her by her Divine Founder; but it appertains to the civil power to define what are the rights of the Church, and the limits within which she may exercise those rights.--Allocution Singulari quadam, Dec. 9, 1854, etc.
20. The ecclesiastical power ought not to exercise its authority without the permission and assent of the civil government.-- Allocution Meminit unusquisque, Sept. 30, 1861.
21. The Church has not the power of defining dogmatically that the religion of the Catholic Church is the only true religion.-- Damnatio Multiplices inter, June 10, 1851.
22. The obligation by which Catholic teachers and authors are strictly bound is confined to those things only which are proposed to universal belief as dogmas of faith by the infallible judgment of the Church.--Letter to the Archbishop of Munich, Tuas libenter, Dec. 21, 1863.
23. Roman pontiffs and ecumenical councils have wandered outside the limits of their powers, have usurped the rights of princes, and have even erred in defining matters of faith and morals.--Damnatio Multiplices inter, June 10, 1851.
24. The Church has not the power of using force, nor has she any temporal power, direct or indirect.--Apostolic Letter Ad Apostolicae, Aug. 22, 1851.
25. Besides the power inherent in the episcopate, other temporal power has been attributed to it by the civil authority granted either explicitly or tacitly, which on that account is revocable by the civil authority whenever it thinks fit.--Ibid.
26. The Church has no innate and legitimate right of acquiring and possessing property.--Allocution Nunquam fore, Dec. 15, 1856; Encyclical Incredibili, Sept. 7, 1863.
27. The sacred ministers of the Church and the Roman pontiff are to be absolutely excluded from every charge and dominion over temporal affairs.--Allocution Maxima quidem, June 9, 1862.
28. It is not lawful for bishops to publish even letters Apostolic without the permission of Government.--Allocution Nunquam fore, Dec. 15, 1856.
29. Favours granted by the Roman pontiff ought to be considered null, unless they have been sought for through the civil government.--Ibid.
30. The immunity of the Church and of ecclesiastical persons derived its origin from civil law.--Damnatio Multiplices inter, June 10, 1851.
31. The ecclesiastical forum or tribunal for the temporal causes, whether civil or criminal, of clerics, ought by all means to be abolished, even without consulting and against the protest of the Holy See.--Allocution Nunquam fore, Dec. 15, 1856; Allocution Acerbissimum, Sept. 27, 1852.
32. The personal immunity by which clerics are exonerated from military conscription and service in the army may be abolished without violation either of natural right or equity. Its abolition is called for by civil progress, especially in a society framed on the model of a liberal government.--Letter to the Bishop of Monreale Singularis nobisque, Sept. 29, 1864.
33. It does not appertain exclusively to the power of ecclesiastical jurisdiction by right, proper and innate, to direct the teaching of theological questions.--Letter to the Archbishop of Munich, Tuas libenter, Dec. 21, 1863.
34. The teaching of those who compare the Sovereign Pontiff to a prince, free and acting in the universal Church, is a doctrine which prevailed in the Middle Ages.--Apostolic Letter Ad Apostolicae, Aug. 22, 1851.
35. There is nothing to prevent the decree of a general council, or the act of all peoples, from transferring the supreme pontificate from the bishop and city of Rome to another bishop and another city.--Ibid.
36. The definition of a national council does not admit of any subsequent discussion, and the civil authority car assume this principle as the basis of its acts.--Ibid.
37. National churches, withdrawn from the authority of the Roman pontiff and altogether separated, can be established.-- Allocution Multis gravibusque, Dec. 17, 1860.
38. The Roman pontiffs have, by their too arbitrary conduct, contributed to the division of the Church into Eastern and Western.--Apostolic Letter Ad Apostolicae, Aug. 22, 1851.
VI. Errors About Civil Society, Considered Both in Itself and in Its Relation to the Church
39. The State, as being the origin and source of all rights, is endowed with a certain right not circumscribed by any limits.-- Allocution Maxima quidem, June 9, 1862.
40. The teaching of the Catholic Church is hostile to the well- being and interests of society.--Encyclical Qui pluribus, Nov. 9, 1846; Allocution Quibus quantisque, April 20, 1849.
41. The civil government, even when in the hands of an infidel sovereign, has a right to an indirect negative power over religious affairs. It therefore possesses not only the right called that of exsequatur, but also that of appeal, called appellatio ab abusu.--Apostolic Letter Ad Apostolicae, Aug. 22, 1851
42. In the case of conflicting laws enacted by the two powers, the civil law prevails.--Ibid.
43. The secular Dower has authority to rescind, declare and render null, solemn conventions, commonly called concordats, entered into with the Apostolic See, regarding the use of rights appertaining to ecclesiastical immunity, without the consent of the Apostolic See, and even in spite of its protest.--Allocution Multis gravibusque, Dec. 17, 1860; Allocution In consistoriali, Nov. 1, 1850.
44. The civil authority may interfere in matters relating to religion, morality and spiritual government: hence, it can pass judgment on the instructions issued for the guidance of consciences, conformably with their mission, by the pastors of the Church. Further, it has the right to make enactments regarding the administration of the divine sacraments, and the dispositions necessary for receiving them.--Allocutions In consistoriali, Nov. 1, 1850, and Maxima quidem, June 9, 1862.
45. The entire government of public schools in which the youth- of a Christian state is educated, except (to a certain extent) in the case of episcopal seminaries, may and ought to appertain to the civil power, and belong to it so far that no other authority whatsoever shall be recognized as having any right to interfere in the discipline of the schools, the arrangement of the studies, the conferring of degrees, in the choice or approval of the teachers.-- Allocutions Quibus luctuosissimis, Sept. 5, 1851, and In consistoriali, Nov. 1, 1850.
46. Moreover, even in ecclesiastical seminaries, the method of studies to be adopted is subject to the civil authority.--Allocution Nunquam fore, Dec. 15, 1856.
47. The best theory of civil society requires that popular schools open to children of every class of the people, and, generally, all public institutes intended for instruction in letters and philosophical sciences and for carrying on the education of youth, should be freed from all ecclesiastical authority, control and interference, and should be fully subjected to the civil and political power at the pleasure of the rulers, and according to the standard of the prevalent opinions of the age.--Epistle to the Archbishop of Freiburg, Cum non sine, July 14, 1864.
48. Catholics may approve of the system of educating youth unconnected with Catholic faith and the power of the Church, and which regards the knowledge of merely natural things, and only, or at least primarily, the ends of earthly social life.--Ibid.
49. The civil power may prevent the prelates of the Church and the faithful from communicating freely and mutually with the Roman pontiff.--Allocution Maxima quidem, June 9, 1862.
50. Lay authority possesses of itself the right of presenting bishops, and may require of them to undertake the administration of the diocese before they receive canonical institution, and the Letters Apostolic from the Holy See.-- Allocution Nunquam fore, Dec. 15, 1856.
51. And, further, the lay government has the right of deposing bishops from their pastoral functions, and is not bound to obey the Roman pontiff in those things which relate to the institution of bishoprics and the appointment of bishops.--Allocution Acerbissimum, Sept. 27, 1852, Damnatio Multiplices inter, June 10, 1851.
52. Government can, by its own right, alter the age prescribed by the Church for the religious profession of women and men; and may require of all religious orders to admit no person to take solemn vows without its permission.--Allocution Nunquam fore, Dec. 15, 1856.
53. The laws enacted for the protection of religious orders and regarding their rights and duties ought to be abolished; nay, more, civil Government may lend its assistance to all who desire to renounce the obligation which they have undertaken of a religious life, and to break their vows. Government may also suppress the said religious orders, as likewise collegiate churches and simple benefices, even those of advowson and subject their property and revenues to the administration and pleasure of the civil power.--Allocutions Acerbissimum, Sept. 27, 1852; Probe memineritis, Jan. 22, 1855; Cum saepe, July 26, 1855.
54. Kings and princes are not only exempt from the jurisdiction of the Church, but are superior to the Church in deciding questions of jurisdiction.--Damnatio Multiplices inter, June 10, 1851.
55. The Church ought to be separated from the State, and the State from the Church.--Allocution Acerbissimum, Sept. 27, 1852.
VII. Errors Concerning Natural and Christian Ethics
56. Moral laws do not stand in need of the divine sanction, and it is not at all necessary that human laws should be made conformable to the laws of nature and receive their power of binding from God.--Allocution Maxima quidem, June 9, 1862.
57. The science of philosophical things and morals and also civil laws may and ought to keep aloof from divine and ecclesiastical authority.--Ibid.
58. No other forces are to be recognized except those which reside in matter, and all the rectitude and excellence of morality ought to be placed in the accumulation and increase of riches by every possible means, and the gratification of pleasure.--Ibid.; Encyclical Quanto conficiamur, Aug. 10, 1863.
59. Right consists in the material fact. All human duties are an empty word, and all human facts have the force of right.-- Allocution Maxima quidem, June 9, 1862.
60. Authority is nothing else but numbers and the sum total of material forces.--Ibid.
61. The injustice of an act when successful inflicts no injury on the sanctity of right.--Allocution Jamdudum cernimus, March 18, 1861.
62. The principle of non-intervention, as it is called, ought to be proclaimed and observed.--Allocution Novos et ante, Sept. 28, 1860.
63. It is lawful to refuse obedience to legitimate princes, and even to rebel against them.--Encyclical Qui pluribus, Nov. 9, 1864; Allocution Quibusque vestrum, Oct. 4, 1847; Noscitis et Nobiscum, Dec. 8, 1849; Apostolic Letter Cum Catholica.
64. The violation of any solemn oath, as well as any wicked and flagitious action repugnant to the eternal law, is not only not blamable but is altogether lawful and worthy of the highest praise when done through love of country.--Allocution Quibus quantisque, April 20, 1849.
VIII. Errors Concerning Christian Marriage
65. The doctrine that Christ has raised marriage to the dignity of a sacrament cannot be at all tolerated.--Apostolic Letter Ad Apostolicae, Aug. 22, 1851.
66. The Sacrament of Marriage is only a something accessory to the contract and separate from it, and the sacrament itself consists in the nuptial benediction alone.--Ibid.
67. By the law of nature, the marriage tie is not indissoluble, and in many cases divorce properly so called may be decreed by the civil authority.--Ibid.; Allocution Acerbissimum, Sept. 27, 1852.
68. The Church has not the power of establishing diriment impediments of marriage, but such a power belongs to the civil authority by which existing impediments are to be removed.-- Damnatio Multiplices inter, June 10, 1851.
69. In the dark ages the Church began to establish diriment impediments, not by her own right, but by using a power borrowed from the State.--Apostolic Letter Ad Apostolicae, Aug. 22, 1851.
70. The canons of the Council of Trent, which anathematize those who dare to deny to the Church the right of establishing diriment impediments, either are not dogmatic or must be understood as referring to such borrowed power.--Ibid.
71. The form of solemnizing marriage prescribed by the Council of Trent, under pain of nullity, does not bind in cases where the civil law lays down another form, and declares that when this new form is used the marriage shall be valid.
72. Boniface VIII was the first who declared that the vow of chastity taken at ordination renders marriage void.--Ibid.
73. In force of a merely civil contract there may exist between Christians a real marriage, and it is false to say either that the marriage contract between Christians is always a sacrament, or that there is no contract if the sacrament be excluded.--Ibid.; Letter to the King of Sardinia, Sept. 9, 1852; Allocutions Acerbissimum, Sept. 27, 1852, Multis gravibusque, Dec. 17, 1860.
74. Matrimonial causes and espousals belong by their nature to civil tribunals.--Encyclical "Qui pluribus," Nov. 9 1846; Damnatio Multiplices inter, June 10, 1851, Ad Apostolicae, Aug. 22, 1851; Allocution Acerbissimum, Sept. 27, 1852.
IX. Errors Regarding the Civil Power of the Sovereign Pontiff
75. The children of the Christian and Catholic Church are divided amongst themselves about the compatibility of the temporal with the spiritual power.--Ad Apostolicae, Aug. 22, 1851.
76. The abolition of the temporal power of which the Apostolic See is possessed would contribute in the greatest degree to the liberty and prosperity of the Church.--Allocutions Quibus quantisque, April 20, 1849, Si semper antea, May 20, 1850.
X. Errors Having Reference to Modern Liberalism
77. In the present day it is no longer expedient that the Catholic religion should be held as the only religion of the State, to the exclusion of all other forms of worship.--Allocution Nemo vestrum, July 26, 1855.
78. Hence it has been wisely decided by law, in some Catholic countries, that persons coming to reside therein shall enjoy the public exercise of their own peculiar worship.--Allocution Acerbissimum, Sept. 27, 1852.
79. Moreover, it is false that the civil liberty of every form of worship, and the full power, given to all, of overtly and publicly manifesting any opinions whatsoever and thoughts, conduce more easily to corrupt the morals and minds of the people, and to propagate the pest of indifferentism.--Allocution Nunquam fore, Dec. 15, 1856.
80. The Roman Pontiff can, and ought to, reconcile himself, and come to terms with progress, liberalism and modern civilization.- -Allocution Jamdudum cernimus, March 18, 1861.
The faith teaches us and human reason demonstrates that a double order of things exists, and that we must therefore distinguish between the two earthly powers, the one of natural origin which provides for secular affairs and the tranquillity of human society, the other of supernatural origin, which presides over the City of God, that is to say the Church of Christ, which has been divinely instituted for the sake of souls and of eternal salvation.... The duties of this twofold power are most wisely ordered in such a way that to God is given what is God's (Matt. 22:21), and because of God to Caesar what is Caesar's, who is great because he is smaller than heaven. Certainly the Church has never disobeyed this divine command, the Church which always and everywhere instructs the faithful to show the respect which they should inviolably have for the supreme authority and its secular rights....
. . . Venerable Brethren, you see clearly enough how sad and full of perils is the condition of Catholics in the regions of Europe which We have mentioned. Nor are things any better or circumstances calmer in America, where some regions are so hostile to Catholics that their governments seem to deny by their actions the Catholic faith they claim to profess. In fact, there, for the last few years, a ferocious war on the Church, its institutions and the rights of the Apostolic See has been raging.... Venerable Brothers, it is surprising that in our time such a great war is being waged against the Catholic Church. But anyone who knows the nature, desires and intentions of the sects, whether they be called masonic or bear another name, and compares them with the nature the systems and the vastness of the obstacles by which the Church has been assailed almost everywhere, cannot doubt that the present misfortune must mainly be imputed to the frauds and machinations of these sects. It is from them that the synagogue of Satan, which gathers its troops against the Church of Christ, takes its strength. In the past Our predecessors, vigilant even from the beginning in Israel, had already denounced them to the kings and the nations, and had condemned them time and time again, and even We have not failed in this duty. If those who would have been able to avert such a deadly scourge had only had more faith in the supreme Pastors of the Church! But this scourge, winding through sinuous caverns, . . . deceiving many with astute frauds, finally has arrived at the point where it comes forth impetuously from its hiding places and triumphs as a powerful master. Since the throng of its propagandists has grown enormously, these wicked groups think that they have already become masters of the world and that they have almost reached their pre-established goal. Having sometimes obtained what they desired, and that is power, in several countries, they boldly turn the help of powers and authorities which they have secured to trying to submit the Church of God to the most cruel servitude, to undermine the foundations on which it rests, to contaminate its splendid qualities; and, moreover, to strike it with frequent blows, to shake it, to overthrow it, and, if possible, to make it disappear completely from the earth. Things being thus, Venerable Brothers, make every effort to defend the faithful which are entrusted to you against the insidious contagion of these sects and to save from perdition those who unfortunately have inscribed themselves in such sects. Make known and attack those who, whether suffering from, or planning, deception, are not afraid to affirm that these shady congregations aim only at the profit of society, at progress and mutual benefit. Explain to them often and impress deeply on their souls the Papal constitutions on this subject and teach, them that the masonic associations are anathematized by them not only in Europe but also in America and wherever they may be in the whole world.
To the Archbishops and Bishops of Prussia concerning the situation of the Catholic Church faced with persecution by that Government....
But although they (the bishops resisting persecution) should be praised rather than pitied, the scorn of episcopal dignity, the violation of the liberty and the rights of the Church, the ill treatment which does not only oppress those dioceses, but also the others of the Kingdom of Prussia, demand that We, owing to the Apostolic office with which God has entrusted us in spite of Our insufficient merit, protest against laws which have produced such great evils and make one fear even greater ones; and as far as we are able to do so with the sacred authority of divine law, We vindicate for the Church the freedom which has been trodden underfoot with sacrilegious violence. That is why by this letter we intend to do Our duty by announcing openly to all those whom this matter concerns and to the whole Catholic world, that these laws are null and void because they are absolutely contrary to the divine constitution of the Church. In fact, with respect to matters which concern the holy ministry, Our Lord did not put the mighty of this century in charge, but Saint Peter, whom he entrusted not only with feeding his sheep, but also the goats; therefore no power in the world, however great it may be, can deprive of the pastoral office those whom the Holy Ghost has made Bishops in order to feed the Church of God.
Encyclical of Pope Pius IX promulgated on December 8, 1864.
To Our Venerable Brethren, all Patriarchs, Primates, Archbishops, and Bishops having favor and Communion of the Holy See.
Venerable Brethren, Health and Apostolic Benediction.
With how great care and pastoral vigilance the Roman Pontiffs, our predecessors, fulfilling the duty and office committed to them by the Lord Christ Himself in the person of most Blessed Peter, Prince of the Apostles, of feeding the lambs and the sheep, have never ceased sedulously to nourish the Lord's whole flock with words of faith and with salutary doctrine, and to guard it from poisoned pastures, is thoroughly known to all, and especially to you, Venerable Brethren. And truly the same, Our Predecessors, asserters of justice, being especially anxious for the salvation of souls, had nothing ever more at heart than by their most wise Letters and Constitutions to unveil and condemn all those heresies and errors which, being adverse to our Divine Faith, to the doctrine of the Catholic Church, to purity of morals, and to the eternal salvation of men, have frequently excited violent tempests, and have miserably afflicted both Church and State. For which cause the same Our Predecessors, have, with Apostolic fortitude, constantly resisted the nefarious enterprises of wicked men, who, like raging waves of the sea foaming out their own confusion, and promising liberty whereas they are the slaves of corruption, have striven by their deceptive opinions and most pernicious writings to raze the foundations of the Catholic religion and of civil society, to remove from among men all virtue and justice, to deprave persons, and especially inexperienced youth, to lead it into the snares of error, and at length to tear it from the bosom of the Catholic Church.
2. But now, as is well known to you, Venerable Brethren, already, scarcely had we been elevated to this Chair of Peter (by the hidden counsel of Divine Providence, certainly by no merit of our own), when, seeing with the greatest grief of Our soul a truly awful storm excited by so many evil opinions, and (seeing also) the most grievous calamities never sufficiently to be deplored which overspread the Christian people from so many errors, according to the duty of Our Apostolic Ministry, and following the illustrious example of Our Predecessors, We raised Our voice, and in many published Encyclical Letters and Allocutions delivered in Consistory, and other Apostolic Letters, we condemned the chief errors of this most unhappy age, and we excited your admirable episcopal vigilance, and we again and again admonished and exhorted all sons of the Catholic Church, to us most dear, that they should altogether abhor and flee from the contagion of so dire a pestilence. And especially in our first Encyclical Letter written to you on Nov. 9, 1846, and in two Allocutions delivered by us in Consistory, the one on Dec. 9, 1854, and the other on June 9, 1862, we condemned the monstrous portents of opinion which prevail especially in this age, bringing with them the greatest loss of souls and detriment of civil society itself; which are grievously opposed also, not only to the Catholic Church and her salutary doctrine and venerable rights, but also to the eternal natural law engraven by God in all men's hearts, and to right reason; and from which almost all other errors have their origin.
3. But, although we have not omitted often to proscribe and reprobate the chief errors of this kind, yet the cause of the Catholic Church, and the salvation of souls entrusted to us by God, and the welfare of human society itself, altogether demand that we again stir up your pastoral solicitude to exterminate other evil opinions, which spring forth from the said errors as from a fountain. Which false and perverse opinions are on that ground the more to be detested, because they chiefly tend to this, that that salutary influence be impeded and (even) removed, which the Catholic Church, according to the institution and command of her Divine Author, should freely exercise even to the end of the world--not only over private individuals, but over nations, peoples, and their sovereign princes; and (tend also) to take away that mutual fellowship and concord of counsels between Church and State which has ever proved itself propitious and salutary, both for religious and civil interests.
For you well know, venerable brethren, that at this time men are found not a few who, applying to civil society the impious and absurd principle of "naturalism," as they call it, dare to teach that "the best constitution of public society and (also) civil progress altogether require that human society be conducted and governed without regard being had to religion any more than if it did not exist; or, at least, without any distinction being made between the true religion and false ones." And, against the doctrine of Scripture, of the Church, and of the Holy Fathers, they do not hesitate to assert that "that is the best condition of civil society, in which no duty is recognized, as attached to the civil power, of restraining by enacted penalties, offenders against the Catholic religion, except so far as public peace may require." From which totally false idea of social government they do not fear to foster that erroneous opinion, most fatal in its effects on the Catholic Church and the salvation of souls, called by Our Predecessor, Gregory XVI, an "insanity," viz., that "liberty of conscience and worship is each man's personal right, which ought to be legally proclaimed and asserted in every rightly constituted society; and that a right resides in the citizens to an absolute liberty, which should be restrained by no authority whether ecclesiastical or civil, whereby they may be able openly and publicly to manifest and declare any of their ideas whatever, either by word of mouth, by the press, or in any other way." But, while they rashly affirm this, they do not think and consider that they are preaching "liberty of perdition;" and that "if human arguments are always allowed free room for discussion, there will never be wanting men who will dare to resist truth, and to trust in the flowing speech of human wisdom; whereas we know, from the very teaching of our Lord Jesus Christ, how carefully Christian faith and wisdom should avoid this most injurious babbling."
4. And, since where religion has been removed from civil society, and the doctrine and authority of divine revelation repudiated, the genuine notion itself of justice and human right is darkened and lost, and the place of true justice and legitimate right is supplied by material force, thence it appears why it is that some, utterly neglecting and disregarding the surest principles of sound reason, dare to proclaim that "the people's will, manifested by what is called public opinion or in some other way, constitutes a supreme law, free from all divine and human control; and that in the political order accomplished facts, from the very circumstance that they are accomplished, have the force of right." But who, does not see and clearly perceive that human society, when set loose from the bonds of religion and true justice, can have, in truth, no other end than the purpose of obtaining and amassing wealth, and that (society under such circumstances) follows no other law in its actions, except the unchastened desire of ministering to its own pleasure and interests? For this reason, men of the kind pursue with bitter hatred the Religious Orders, although these have deserved extremely well of Christendom, civilization and literature, and cry out that the same have no legitimate reason for being permitted to exist; and thus (these evil men) applaud the calumnies of heretics. For, as Pius VI, Our Predecessor, taught most wisely, "the abolition of regulars is injurious to that state in which the Evangelical counsels are openly professed; it is injurious to a method of life praised in the Church as agreeable to Apostolic doctrine; it is injurious to the illustrious founders, themselves, whom we venerate on our altars, who did not establish these societies but by God's inspiration." And (these wretches) also impiously declare that permission should be refused to citizens and to the Church, "whereby they may openly give alms for the sake of Christian charity"; and that the law should be abrogated "whereby on certain fixed days servile works are prohibited because of God's worship;" and on the most deceptive pretext that the said permission and law are opposed to the principles of the best public economy. Moreover, not content with removing religion from public society, they wish to banish it also from private families. For, teaching and professing the most fatal error of "Communism and Socialism," they assert that "domestic society or the family derives the whole principle of its existence from the civil law alone; and, consequently, that on civil law alone depend all rights of parents over their children, and especially that of providing for education." By which impious opinions and machinations these most deceitful men chiefly aim at this result, viz., that the salutary teaching and influence of the Catholic Church may be entirely banished from the instruction and education of youth, and that the tender and flexible minds of young men may be infected and depraved by every most pernicious error and vice. For all who have endeavored to throw into confusion things both sacred and secular, and to subvert the right order of society, and to abolish all rights, human and divine, have always (as we above hinted) devoted all their nefarious schemes, devices and efforts, to deceiving and depraving incautious youth and have placed all their hope in its corruption. For which reason they never cease by every wicked method to assail the clergy, both secular and regular, from whom (as the surest monuments of history conspicuously attest), so many great advantages have abundantly flowed to Christianity, civilization and literature, and to proclaim that "the clergy, as being hostile to the true and beneficial advance of science and civilization, should be removed from the whole charge and duty of instructing and educating youth."
5. Others meanwhile, reviving the wicked and so often condemned inventions of innovators, dare with signal impudence to subject to the will of the civil authority the supreme authority of the Church and of this Apostolic See given to her by Christ Himself, and to deny all those rights of the same Church and See which concern matters of the external order. For they are not ashamed of affirming "that the Church's laws do not bind in conscience unless when they are promulgated by the civil power; that acts and decrees of the Roman Pontiffs, referring to religion and the Church, need the civil power's sanction and approbation, or at least its consent; that the Apostolic Constitutions, whereby secret societies are condemned (whether an oath of secrecy be or be not required in such societies), and whereby their frequenters and favourers are smitten with anathema--have no force in those regions of the world wherein associations of the kind are tolerated by the civil government; that the excommunication pronounced by the Council of Trent and by Roman Pontiffs against those who assail and usurp the Church's rights and possessions, rests on a confusion between the spiritual and temporal orders, and (is directed) to the pursuit of a purely secular good; that the Church can decree nothing which binds the conscience of the faithful in regard to their use of temporal things; that the Church has no right of restraining by temporal punishments those who violate her laws; that it is conformable to the principles of sacred theology and public law to assert and claim for the civil government a right of property in those goods which are possessed by the Church, by the Religious Orders, and by other pious establishments." Nor do they blush openly and publicly to profess the maxim and principle of heretics from which arise so many perverse opinions and errors. For they repeat that the "ecclesiastical power is not by divine right distinct from, and independent of, the civil power, and that such distinction and independence cannot be preserved without the civil power's essential rights being assailed and usurped by the Church." Nor can we pass over in silence the audacity of those who, not enduring sound doctrine, contend that "without sin and without any sacrifice of the Catholic profession assent and obedience may be refused to those judgments and decrees of the Apostolic See, whose object is declared to concern the Church's general good and her rights and discipline, so only it does not touch the dogmata of faith and morals." But no one can be found not clearly and distinctly to see and understand how grievously this is opposed to the Catholic dogma of the full power given from God by Christ our Lord Himself to the Roman Pontiff of feeding, ruling and guiding the Universal Church.
6. Amidst, therefore, such great perversity of depraved opinions, we, well remembering our Apostolic Office, and very greatly solicitous for our most holy Religion, for sound doctrine and the salvation of souls which is intrusted to us by God, and (solicitous also) for the welfare of human society itself, have thought it right again to raise up our Apostolic voice. Therefore, by our Apostolic authority, we reprobate, proscribe, and condemn all the singular and evil opinions and doctrines severally mentioned in this letter, and will and command that they be thoroughly held by all children of the Catholic Church as reprobated, proscribed and condemned.
7. And besides these things, you know very well, Venerable Brethren, that in these times the haters of truth and justice and most bitter enemies of our religion, deceiving the people and maliciously lying, disseminate sundry and other impious doctrines by means of pestilential books, pamphlets and newspapers dispersed over the whole world. Nor are you ignorant also, that in this our age some men are found who, moved and excited by the spirit of Satan, have reached to that degree of impiety as not to shrink from denying our Ruler and Lord Jesus Christ, and from impugning His Divinity with wicked pertinacity. Here, however, we cannot but extol you, venerable brethren, with great and deserved praise, for not having failed to raise with all zeal your episcopal voice against impiety so great.
8. Therefore, in this our letter, we again most lovingly address you, who, having been called unto a part of our solicitude, are to us, among our grievous distresses, the greatest solace, joy and consolation, because of the admirable religion and piety wherein you excel, and because of that marvellous love, fidelity, and dutifulness, whereby bound as you are to us. and to this Apostolic See in most harmonious affection, you strive strenuously and sedulously to fulfill your most weighty episcopal ministry. For from your signal pastoral zeal we expect that, taking up the sword of the spirit which is the word of God, and strengthened by the grace of our Lord Jesus Christ, you will, with redoubled care, each day more anxiously provide that the faithful entrusted to your charge "abstain from noxious verbiage, which Jesus Christ does not cultivate because it is not His Father's plantation." Never cease also to inculcate on the said faithful that all true felicity flows abundantly upon man from our august religion and its doctrine and practice; and that happy is the people whose God is their Lord. Teach that "kingdoms rest on the foundation of the Catholic Faith; and that nothing is so deadly, so hastening to a fall, so exposed to all danger, (as that which exists) if, believing this alone to be sufficient for us that we receive free will at our birth, we seek nothing further from the Lord; that is, if forgetting our Creator we abjure his power that we may display our freedom." And again do not fail to teach "that the royal power was given not only for the governance of the world, but most of all for the protection of the Church;" and that there is nothing which can be of greater advantage and glory to Princes and Kings than if, as another most wise and courageous Predecessor of ours, St. Felix, instructed the Emperor Zeno, they "permit the Catholic Church to practise her laws, and allow no one to oppose her liberty. For it is certain that this mode of conduct is beneficial to their interests, viz., that where there is question concerning the causes of God, they study, according to His appointment, to subject the royal will to Christ's Priests, not to raise it above theirs."
9. But if always, venerable brethren, now most of all amidst such great calamities both of the Church and of civil society, amidst so great a conspiracy against Catholic interests and this Apostolic See, and so great a mass of errors, it is altogether necessary to approach with confidence the throne of grace, that we may obtain mercy and find grace in timely aid. Wherefore, we have thought it well to excite the piety of all the faithful in order that, together with us and you, they may unceasingly pray and beseech the most merciful Father of light and pity with most fervent and humble prayers, and in the fullness of faith flee always to Our Lord Jesus Christ, who redeemed us to God in his blood, and earnestly and constantly supplicate His most sweet Heart, the victim of most burning love toward us, that He would draw all things to Himself by the bonds of His love, and that all men inflamed by His most holy love may walk worthily according to His heart, pleasing God in all things, bearing fruit in every good work. But since without doubt men's prayers are more pleasing to God if they reach Him from minds free from all stain, therefore we have determined to open to Christ's faithful, with Apostolic liberality, the Church's heavenly treasures committed to our charge, in order that the said faithful, being more earnestly enkindled to true piety, and cleansed through the sacrament of Penance from the defilement of their sins, may with greater confidence pour forth their prayers to God, and obtain His mercy and grace.
10. By these Letters, therefore, in virtue of our Apostolic authority, we concede to all and singular the faithful of the Catholic world, a Plenary Indulgence in the form of Jubilee, during the space of one month only for the whole coming year 1865, and not beyond; to be fixed by you, venerable brethren, and other legitimate Ordinaries of places, in the very same manner and form in which we granted it at the beginning of our supreme Pontificate by our Apostolic Letters in the form of a Brief, dated November 20, 1846, and addressed to all your episcopal Order, beginning, "Arcano Divinae Providentiae consilio," and with all the same faculties which were given by us in those Letters. We will, however, that all things be observed which were prescribed in the aforesaid Letters, and those things be excepted which we there so declared. And we grant this, notwithstanding anything whatever to the contrary, even things which are worthy of individual mention and derogation. In order, however, that all doubt and difficulty be removed, we have commanded a copy of said Letters be sent you.
11. "Let us implore," Venerable Brethren, "God's mercy from our inmost heart and with our whole mind; because He has Himself added, 'I will not remove my mercy from them.' Let us ask and we shall receive; and if there be delay and slowness in our receiving because we have gravely offended, let us knock, because to him that knocketh it shall be opened, if only the door be knocked by our prayers, groans and tears, in which we must persist and persevere, and if the prayer be unanimous . . . let each man pray to God, not for himself alone, but for all his brethren, as the Lord hath taught us to pray." But in order that God may the more readily assent to the prayers and desires of ourselves, of you and of all the faithful, let us with all confidence employ as or advocate with Him the Immaculate and most holy Virgin Mary, Mother of God, who has slain all heresies throughout the world, and who, the most loving Mother of us all, "is all sweet . . . and full of mercy . . . shows herself to all as easily entreated; shows herself to all as most merciful; pities the necessities of all with a most large affection;" and standing as a Queen at the right hand of her only begotten Son, our Lord Jesus Christ, in gilded clothing, surrounded with variety, can obtain from Him whatever she will. Let us also seek the suffrages of the Most Blessed Peter, Prince of the Apostles, and of Paul, his Fellow-Apostle, and of all the Saints in Heaven, who having now become God's friends, have arrived at the heavenly kingdom, and being crowned bear their palms, and being secure of their own immortality are anxious for our salvation.
12. Lastly, imploring from our great heart for You from God the abundance of all heavenly gifts, we most lovingly impart the Apostolic Benediction from our inmost heart, a pledge of our signal love towards you, to yourselves, venerable brethren, and to all the clerics and lay faithful committed to your care.
Given at Rome, from St. Peter's, the 8th day of December, in the year 1864, the tenth from the Dogmatic Definition of the Immaculate Conception of the Virgin Mary, Mother of God.
In the nineteenth year of Our Pontificate.
1. Gregory XVI, encyclical epistle "Mirari vos," 15 August 1832.
3. St. Augustine, epistle 105 (166).
4. St. Leo, epistle 14 (133), sect. 2, edit. Ball.
5. Epistle to Cardinal De la Rochefoucault, 10 March 1791.
6. Clement XII, In eminenti; Benedict XIV, Providas Romanorum; Pius VII, Ecclesiam; Leo XII, Quo graviora.
7. St. Ignatius M. to the Philadelphians, 3.
8. Ps 143.
9. St. Celestine, epistle 22 to Synod. Ephes. apud Const., p. 1200.
10. St. Innocent. 1, epistle 29 ad Episc. conc. Carthag. apud Coust., p. 891.
11. St. Leo, epistle 156 (125).
12. Pius VII, encyclical epistle Diu satis, 15 May 1800.
13. St. Cyprian, epist. 11.
14. St. Bernard, Serm. de duodecim praerogativis B. M. V. ex verbis Apocalyp.
Encyclical of Pope Pius IX promulgated on August 10, 1863
To Our Beloved Sons, S. R. E. Cardinals and to Our Venerable Brothers, the Archbishops and Bishops of Italy.
Our Beloved Sons and Venerable Brothers, Greetings and Apostolic Benediction.
How much cause we have to grieve over the most cruel and sacrilegious war brought upon the Catholic Church in almost all regions of the world during these turbulent times, and especially declared upon unhappy Italy before our very eyes many years ago by the Piedmontese Government and stirred up more violently day by day, each of you, our beloved sons and venerable brothers, easily understands. In the midst of our great distress, however, as long as you keep watch with us, we are deeply comforted and consoled. Although you are, indeed, most deplorably harassed by every grave injustice possible, torn away from your own flock, exiled and even cast into prison, nevertheless, with your profound virtue you have never neglected to speak and to write in ardent defense of the teachings of God, his Church, and this Apostolic See.
2. Consequently, we give thanks because you fervently rejoice to suffer insult in the name of Jesus. We extend to you merited praise in the words of our most saintly predecessor, Leo: "May you endure with all your heart the trials of your love, which you have undergone in reverence for the Catholic faith; may I accept the sufferings inflicted upon you as if I were bearing them myself. I know, however, that it is a cause of joy rather than of sorrow that with the strength of our Lord, Jesus Christ, you have persevered invincible in your evangelical and apostolic teaching . . . And when the enemies of the Christian faith were tearing you away from your respective churches, rather than being contaminated by their impiety, you preferred to endure the injustice of undergoing exile."(1)
3. Would that we could announce the end of such terrible calamities besetting the Church! Never will there be grief enough over the corruption of morals so extensively increasing and promoted by irreligious and obscene writings, theatrical spectacles and meretricious houses established almost everywhere; by other depraved arts and monstrous portents of every error disseminated in all directions; by the abominable impurities of all vices and crimes growing constantly and the deadly virus of unbelief and indifferentism spread far and wide; by contempt for ecclesiastical authority, sacred things, and laws and by the outrageous plundering of Church possessions; by the bitter and constant abuse of consecrated Church officials, of the students of religious communities, of virgins dedicated to God; by the diabolical hatred of Christ, his Church, teaching, and of this Apostolic See. These and almost innumerable other evils perpetrated by the embittered enemies of the Catholic Church and faith, we are daily compelled to lament.
4. All these agonies seem to prolong and delay that most yearned for time when we shall see the full triumph of our most holy religion, of justice, and of truth. This triumph cannot fail us, however, even if it is not given us to know the time destined for it by almighty God. Even though our heavenly Father permits his holy Church to be afflicted and plagued by various tribulations and distresses while serving during this most miserable and earthly pilgrimage, nevertheless, because it has been founded by Christ, the Lord, upon an immovable and most firm rock, it cannot be shaken or overthrown by any force or violence. Rather, "it is strengthened, not weakened by persecutions. The Lord's vineyard is always clothed with a richer harvest, for while each grain dies singly, it is born again manyfold."(2)
5. That is what we see happening, beloved sons and venerable brothers, even in these most sorrowful times as a special blessing from God. For although the immaculate Spouse of Christ may be vehemently troubled at the present time by the work of the wicked, yet she is triumphing over her enemies. Yes, indeed, she is conquering her enemies and shines wonderfully bright with your unparalleled faithfulness, love, and respect towards us and this Chair of Peter, and with your outstanding constancy and that of the other venerable brothers, the bishops of the whole Catholic world. She shines with many pious works of Christian charity multiplying rapidly each day; with the light of blessed faith illuminating many regions evermore each day; with the exceptional love and devotion shown by Catholics towards the Church itself, towards us, and this Holy See; with the eminent and immortal glory of martyrdom. You know, in fact, how in Tonkin and especially in the regions of Cochin China, bishops, priests, laymen and even peaceful women themselves, and young boys and girls, emulating the martyrs with their unconquerable spirit and heroic virtue, disdained the most inhuman torture, and greatly rejoiced to pour out their lives for Christ. All these joys should be no slight consolation to us and to you in the midst of the overwhelming anguish that torments us.
6. Now, since our Apostolic Office demands we carefully and zealously defend the cause of the Church committed to us by Christ, we condemn those who attack and despise the Church itself, its sacred laws, ministers, and this Apostolic See. Hence, with this letter, once more we confirm, proclaim and condemn totally and singly that which in many consistorial allocutions and in our other Letters we have been forced to deplore, declare and condemn.(3)
7. Here, too, our beloved sons and venerable brothers, it is again necessary to mention and censure a very grave error entrapping some Catholics who believe that it is possible to arrive at eternal salvation although living in error and alienated from the true faith and Catholic unity. Such belief is certainly opposed to Catholic teaching. There are, of course, those who are struggling with invincible ignorance about our most holy religion. Sincerely observing the natural law and its precepts inscribed by God on all hearts and ready to obey God, they live honest lives and are able to attain eternal life by the efficacious virtue of divine light and grace. Because God knows, searches and clearly understands the minds, hearts, thoughts, and nature of all, his supreme kindness and clemency do not permit anyone at all who is not guilty of deliberate sin to suffer eternal punishments.
8. Also well known is the Catholic teaching that no one can be saved outside the Catholic Church. Eternal salvation cannot be obtained by those who oppose the authority and statements of the same Church and are stubbornly separated from the unity of the Church and also from the successor of Peter, the Roman Pontiff, to whom "the custody of the vineyard has been committed by the Savior."(4) The words of Christ are clear enough: "If he refuses to listen even to the Church, let him be to you a Gentile and a tax collector;"(5) "He who hears you hears me, and he who rejects you, rejects me, and he who rejects me, rejects him who sent me;"(6) "He who does not believe will be condemned;"(7) "He who does not believe is already condemned;"(8) "He who is not with me is against me, and he who does not gather with me scatters."(9) The Apostle Paul says that such persons are "perverted and self-condemned;"(10) the Prince of the Apostles calls them "false teachers . . . who will secretly bring in destructive heresies, even denying the Master. . . bringing upon themselves swift destruction."(11)
9. God forbid that the children of the Catholic Church should even in any way be unfriendly to those who are not at all united to us by the same bonds of faith and love. On the contrary, let them be eager always to attend to their needs with all the kind services of Christian charity, whether they are poor or sick or suffering any other kind of visitation. First of all, let them rescue them from the darkness of the errors into which they have unhappily fallen and strive to guide them back to Catholic truth and to their most loving Mother who is ever holding out her maternal arms to receive them lovingly back into her fold. Thus, firmly founded in faith, hope, and charity and fruitful in every good work, they will gain eternal salvation.
10. Furthermore, beloved sons and venerable brothers, we cannot be silent about another most pernicious error, an evil that is pitifully tearing apart and deeply disturbing minds, hearts, and souls. We are referring to that unbridled and damnable self-love and self-interest that drive many to seek their own advantage and profit with clearly no regard for their neighbor. We mean that thoroughly insatiable passion for power and possessions that overrides all the rules of justice and honesty and never ceases by every means possible to amass and greedily heap up wealth. Completely absorbed in the things of earth, forgetful of God, religion and their souls, they wrongly place all their happiness in procuring riches and money. Let such people recollect and meditate seriously upon the very sobering words of Christ, the Lord: "What will it profit a man, if he gains the whole world and forfeits his life?"(12) Let them also reflect upon the teaching of Paul: "Those who desire to be rich fall into temptation, into a snare, into many senseless and hurtful desires that drag men down to ruin and destruction. For the love of money is the root of all evil; it is through this craving that some have wandered away and pierced their hearts with many pangs."(13)
11. Now, truly, we cannot conceal the fact that we are in great anguish since there are some clergy in Italy who, forgetful of their vocation, do not blush in the least to spread abroad false doctrine, even in subversive writings. They arouse the people against us and this Apostolic See; they oppose our civil rule and that of the Chair itself; they shamelessly and zealously support the wicked enemies of the Catholic Church and this same See. Deserting their bishops and us, emboldened by the approval of the Piedmontese government and its Parliament, these ecclesiastics in open contempt of ecclesiastical censure and penalty have become impudently fearless in organizing certain condemnable societies commonly known as Liberal Clerical, of Mutual Assistance, For the Emancipation of the Italian Clergy, and other associations animated by the same depraved spirit. Although deservedly forbidden to perform their holy ministry, nevertheless, like brazen intruders, they sinfully and illicitly exercise it in many churches. We, therefore, disapprove and condemn the behavior of the same ecclesiastics. At the same time, we admonish and exhort, again and again, these unfortunate men to return to their right mind and heart and take thought for their own salvation, seriously considering "that God tolerates no example of conduct more from others than from priests when He sees those, whom He ordains for the improvement of others, give example of their own depravity."(14) Let them fervently reflect that their confused state must be repaired before the tribunal of Christ. May these pitiful churchmen heed our paternal advice and willingly render us the consolation of a repentant clergy. May they seek refuge in us day by day, begging pardon for their defection with suppliant prayer and humbly imploring absolution from ecclesiastical censure.
12. You are certainly aware, our beloved sons and venerable brothers, that every kind of impious and deceitful writing, lies, calumny, and blasphemy has been let loose from hell. No pain has been spared to transfer schools to non-Catholic teachers and to appropriate churches for non-Catholic worship. With a multiple of other, surely diabolical treacheries, arts, and undertakings, the enemies of God employ every effort to destroy completely - if that were possible - the Catholic Church, seduce and corrupt the people, especially guileless youth, and uproot our holy faith and religion from the souls of all.
13. We are fully confident that you, our beloved sons and venerable brothers, strengthened by the grace of our Lord, Jesus Christ, will continue steadfast in your outstanding episcopal zeal. With one mind and heart and with redoubled dedication, may you persist in defending the House of Israel, may you fight the good fight for the faith and defend from the snares of the enemy the faithful entrusted to your care. Admonish and exhort them to be strong in our sacred faith, without which it is impossible to please God. Urge them to persevere firmly established in our divine religion, which alone is true and eternal and prepares for salvation and even, to a very great extent, preserves and prospers civil society.
14. Through the parish priests chiefly and other ecclesiastics known for integrity of life, gravity of morals, and constant adherence to sound doctrine, may you teach unremittingly and accurately: at one time preaching the divine word, at another instructing the people in the mysteries of our august religion, its doctrine, precepts, and discipline. You, above all, know that many evils generally arise from ignorance of divine matters essential for salvation. Hence, you will understand that it behooves you to use every care and diligence that so detrimental a condition be prevented.
15. Before we bring our letter to its close, however, we cannot restrain from bestowing due praise upon the Italian clergy, who with the highest degree of devotion to us and this Chair of Peter and to their bishops, have certainly not strayed. Following the noble example of their bishops and bearing all hardships with utmost patience, they fulfill their duty most laudably. We put our trust in the hope, moreover, that this same clergy, with the help of divine grace and walking worthily in their vocation, will always strive to be shining examples of piety and virtue.
16. We continue, too, with fitting and public praise for the many consecrated virgins who violently driven from their monastaries, despoiled of their recompense, and reduced to beggary, have not broken faith with their Spouse. Enduring the most deplorable conditions, they pray day and night in the holy house of God where they patiently await His mercy and beseech Him for the salvation of all, even that of their enemies.
17. We rejoice, also, in praising the people of Italy who, with deep Catholic sensibilities, abhor the many impious and destructive efforts taken against the Church. With filial piety, respect and obedience, they take great pride in honoring us, this Holy See, and their bishops. Amid very serious difficulties and impeded by dangers, each day and in many ways they faithfully offer us tokens of their love and devotion, alleviating the wants of this Apostolic See, at times with money, at other times with other gifts.
18. In the midst of so many calamities and confronted with such fury against the Church, we are not despondent for "Christ is our counsel and our strength; without him we can do nothing, through him we can do all things. While confirming the preachers of the Gospel and the ministers of the sacraments, he said: 'Lo, I am with you always, to the end of time.'"(15) We know for certain, moreover, that the gates of hell will never prevail against the Church which stands and will stand immovable with Christ Jesus, our Lord, as guardian and protector, who has built the Church and who has been "yesterday and today and forever."(16)
19. With ever more ardent zeal and humility of heart, let us, our beloved sons and venerable brothers, never stop offering our prayers and petitions to God through Jesus Christ that His Church, driven by this most turbulent tempest, may recover from such great disasters, enjoy the most blessed peace and freedom throughout the world, and gain new and more splendid triumphs over her enemies. Let us pray that the errant be flooded with the light of his divine grace, may turn back from the path of error into the way of truth and justice and, experiencing the worthy fruit of repentance, may possess perpetual love and fear of his holy name.
20. That the merciful God may more readily grant our most fervent prayers, let us invoke patronage of the immaculate and most holy Virgin Mary, Mother of God. Let us seek likewise the intercession of the most holy Apostles, Peter and Paul, and of all the blessed in heaven, that with their efficacious prayers before God, they may implore mercy and graces for all and powerfully avert all adversities and dangers afflicting the Church everywhere and especially in Italy.
21. Finally, as a most certain pledge of our singular benevolence toward you, we lovingly impart our heartfelt Apostolic Blessing upon you, beloved sons and venerable brothers, and upon the flock committed to your care.
Given at Rome, at St. Peter's, 10 August, 1863, in the eighteenth year of Our Pontificate.
1. St. Leo, epistle 154 to the bishops of Egypt, ed. Baller.
2. St. Leo, sermon 82 on the feast of the apostles Peter and Paul.
3. Addresses on 20 June 1859; 26 September 1859; 13 July 1860; 28 September 1860; 17 December 1860; 18 March 1861; 30 September 1861; and 9 June 1862. Encyclical letters on 18 June 1859 and 19 January 1860. Apostolic letter on 26 March 1860.
4. Ecumenical Council of Chalcedon in its letter to Pope Leo.
5. Mt 15.17.
6. Lk 10.16.
7. Mk 16.16.
8. Jn 3.18.
9. Lk 11.23.
10. Ti 3.11.
11. 2 Pt 2.1.
12. Mt 16.26.
13. I Tm 6.9-10.
14. St. Gregory the Great, homily 17 in Evangel.
15. St. Leo, epistle 167 to Rusticus, bishop of Narbonne.
16. Heb 13.8.
Encyclical of Pope Pius IX promulgated on January 19, 1860
To the Venerable Brothers, the Patriarchs, Primates, Archbishops, Bishops and other Ordinaries Keeping Favor and Communion with the Apostolic See.
Greetings and the Apostolic Blessing.
We cannot express in words what a consolation and what a joy to Us, in the midst of the greatest unpleasantness, are your admirable loyalty and respect, and that of your faithful, for Us and this Apostolic See, We are referring to your truly outstanding unanimity, willingness, zeal, and constancy in defending the rights of this same See and the claims of justice. From Our encyclical of last June 18 (Qui Nuper and then from Our two allocutions in Consistory, you learned of the evils oppressing civil and sacred affairs in Italy and the attempts against the legitimate Princes of Italy and the holy and legitimate dominion which belongs to Us and this Holy See. In compliance with Our wishes, you immediately ordered public prayers in your dioceses.
2. Afterwards, in kind letters sent to Us and by pastoral letters of other religious and learned writings, you vehemently denounced the sacrilegious attacks made on the civil power of the Roman Church. And defending constantly this dominion, you proclaimed and taught that God gave the civil power to the Roman Pontiff, so that he, never subject to any power, might exercise in full liberty and without any impediment the supreme task of the apostolic ministry divinely committed to him by Christ our Lord.
3. Moreover, Our beloved sons of the Catholic Church, imbued with your teaching and aroused by your example, have striven valiantly and still strive to make the same sentiments known to Us. For from every region of the whole Catholic world, We have received practically innumerable letters from ecclesiastics and laity alike of every dignity, rank, grade, and condition. These are signed by hundreds of thousands of Catholics, in which they declare their filial devotion toward Us and this Chair of Peter. They vehemently oppose the revolution and the attacks made in some of Our provinces. They maintain that the patrimony of blessed Peter ought to be preserved completely intact and inviolate and should be defended from all injury. Some of them have, in addition, asserted this wisely in suitable printed works.
4. These outstanding expressions have so moved Us that We could not forbear to gladly proclaim, "Blessed be God, the Father of Our Lord Jesus Christ, the Father of mercy and the God of all consolation, who consoles Us in all our tribulation." For nothing in the midst of the gravest straits in which We are oppressed, could be more welcome and more pleasing than to behold your zeal and that of the faithful for the protection of the rights of this Holy See. And you yourselves can easily understand how strongly Our paternal benevolence towards you and these Catholics grows deservingly by the day.
5. Now, however, a new cause of sorrow has arisen from a different source. And so We write to you to make Our sentiments well known. Recently, as many of you know, in a Paris newspaper called Le. Moniteur, a letter of the Emperor of the French was published replying to Our letter. In it, We asked that he, by his most powerful patronage in the Congress at Paris, defend the integral and inviolate nature of the temporal power belonging to us and the Holy See, and that he be willing to safeguard it from evil rebellion. In his letter the great Emperor, recalling his somewhat earlier proposal to Us concerning rebellious provinces of Our papal states, advises that We should of Our own accord surrender the possession of these same provinces, since it seems to him to be the only way to amend the present disorder.
6. You all know that We could not keep silence at the receipt of such a letter. Therefore, without delay, We responded to the same Emperor, declaring freely and openly that We could in no way assent to his counsel. We said that "it offers insuperable difficulties, in consideration of Our dignity and that of the Holy See and Our sacred character and the rights of the same Holy See, which pertain not to the succession of any royal family but to all Catholics." Likewise We professed "what is not Ours cannot be given up by Us, and We plainly understand that the victory he wishes to be conceded to the traitors of Emilia, would be a stimulus for future internal and external disturbers of other provinces to perpetrate the same things, when they saw the prosperous fortune of the rebels."
7. And, among other things, We informed the same Emperor, that "We could not abdicate the provinces in Emilia without violating solemn oaths by which We are bound, without exciting quarrels and disturbances in the rest of Our provinces, without committing injustice to all Catholics, and without, finally, weakening the rights not only of the Princes of Italy but of all Princes of the whole Christian world who could not watch with indifference the introduction of most destructive principles." Nor did We omit to point out that "his majesty could scarcely ignore by what men and by what money and resources the recent attempts at rebellion in Bologna, Ravenna, and elsewhere were inflamed and carried out, while the far greater part of the population showed itself in no way induced to support these movements, something it little expected. It was, in fact, amazed."
8. And since the Emperor felt that We ought to give up these provinces because of the rebellions stirred up in them, We replied appropriately that an argument of this kind, in as much as it proved excessive, has no validity. Similar rebellions have often occurred in Europe and other areas, yet anyone can see that a legitimate argument cannot be deduced from that fact to diminish civil sovereignty. We reminded the Emperor that his first letter, sent to Us before the Italian war, which offered Us consolation, not affliction, differed from his most recent ones.
9. From certain words in his newspaper letter, We gathered that there were grounds for fear that the above cited provinces of Ours in Emilia were already considered as if they had been taken away from Our dominion. We, accordingly, begged him in the name of the Church, that for his own Majesty's good and utility as well, to vanquish this fear. We reminded him that all must give an exact account at some time before the tribunal of Christ and undergo a most severe judgment; therefore each one must take care that he experience the effect of mercy rather than justice.
10. These are the chief matters, among others, that We replied to the Emperor of France. We judged they should be made known to you that you and the universal Catholic world recognize that We will without fear leave nothing untried in fighting bravely for the cause of religion and for preserving the civil dominion of the Roman Church and its temporal possessions and rights. Intact and inviolate these pertain to the entire Catholic world, and We look to the just cause of other Princes.
11. And supported by the divine aid of Him who said "you will have tribulation in the world, but be confident, I have overcome the world" an 16.33) and "blessed are they who suffer persecution for justice sake" (Mt 5.10), We are prepared to follow the illustrious footsteps of Our Predecessors, to emulate their example and to suffer harsh hard things and even lay down Our life, before deserting the cause of God, the Church, and justice in any way. But you can easily conjecture with what bitter sorrow We are affected, seeing the dreadful war which harasses our religion to the greatest detriment of souls and seeing the great whirlwinds which toss about the Church and this Holy See. And you can also easily understand our disquietude at the great danger for souls in these disturbed provinces, where piety, religion, faith, integrity, and morals are weakened daily especially from the pernicious writings published there.
12. Do you, therefore, defend this cause and inflame more and more daily the faithful entrusted to your care so that under your leadership they do not cease either defending the Catholic Church and this Holy See or protecting the civil dominion of the same See and the patrimony of St. Peter. Together with your faithful pray that God may command the winds and the water and come to the benefit of Us and His Church. Pray also that He may enlighten enemies to bring them back to the paths of truth, justice, and salvation.
13. And so that God may incline His ear to Our prayers and yours and those of all the faithful, We ask first the recommendation of the Virgin Mary, who is our most beloved mother and most trustworthy hope and ever present guardian of the Church. Nothing is more powerful with God than her patronage. We also implore the support of Peter, then of his co-apostle Paul, and of all the heavenly citizens who reign with Christ in heaven. We do not doubt that in the light of your outstanding religion and priestly zeal, you will obey these Our prayers and petitions. Meanwhile as a pledge of Our burning charity toward you, from Our deepest heart and with a wish for all every true happiness, We lovingly impart Our Apostolic Blessing to you yourselves and all the clergy, and faithful laity committed to each of your vigilance.
Given in Rome at St. Peter's, 19 January 1860, in the 14th year of Our pontificate.
Encyclical of Pope Pius IX promulgated on April 27, 1859
To Our Venerable Brothers, the Patriarchs, Primates, Archbishops, Bishops and other Ordinaries in Friendship and Communion with the Apostolic See
Venerable Brethren: Greetings and the Apostolic Blessing.
Now when holy Mother Church is joyously celebrating the annual solemnity of the Paschal Sacrament, she reminds her faithful of the joyful message of peace, which the risen Jesus Christ, having conquered death and overthrown the tyranny of the evil one, frequently and lovingly announced to His apostles and disciples; by contrast, the most dire sound of war among Catholic nations arises and is heard by all. Christ at His birth announced His peace to men of good will through angels, and later, left His peace to His disciples. Because of our love and care for Catholic peoples, we cannot refrain from crying out again and again for peace.
2. And so We exhort you, to stir the faithful committed to your vigilance in view of your outstanding piety, to turn to God in prayer, so that He might grant His deeply desired peace to all. For the same reason We have ordered that public prayers be offered by all within the Papal Territories to the most kind Father of Mercies. Following the illustrious example of Our predecessors, We have decided to have recourse to your prayers and those of the whole Church. And so We ask that you order public prayers in your dioceses as soon as possible. Having implored the patronage of Mary, may your faithful strenuously beseech our merciful God to turn his wrath from us and banish war to the very ends of the earth. By doing this, he may illuminate all minds by His divine grace and inflame all hearts with the love of Christian peace. He may insure that all may be rooted in faith and love. These then would diligently keep His holy Commandments and humbly beseech His forgiveness for their sins. Turning aside from evil and doing good, they would walk in the ways of justice, exercise mutual charity among themselves and obtain salutary peace with God, with themselves, and with all men.
3. We do not doubt that in view of your proven respect toward Us and this Holy See, that you will be desirous to fulfill with all diligence these Our desires and prayers. But to encourage the faithful in the prayers you decree, We have resolved to proffer and draw from the treasury of heavenly graces, whose dispensation the Most High has granted to Us. Wherefore We grant to these faithful, as often as they have been devoutly present at and completed the prayers We have mentioned, three hundred days indulgence in the customary form granted by the Church. Moreover, during the time of these prayers, We grant to these faithful a plenary indulgence once a month; it is to be received on the same day on which they have been duly absolved of their sins in Confession, have received Holy Communion, and have piously visited a place of worship where they have recited prayers for this purpose.
4. In conclusion, We are indeed happy to use this occasion also to attest again and confirm the special benevolence which We have for you all, venerable brothers. May the Apostolic Blessing which from the depths of Our heart We most lovingly grant especially to you, venerable brothers, and to all the clergy and laity entrusted to each of you, be a guarantee of Our most zealous good will toward you.
Given in Rome at St. Peter's, 27 April, 1859, in the 13th year of Our Pontificate.
Encyclical of Pope Pius IX promulgated on May 3, 1858
To Our Venerable Brothers, the Patriarchs, Primates, Archbishops, Bishops, other Ordinaries who have Friendship and Communion with the Apostolic See.
Greetings and Apostolic Blessing.
Christ's love towards men was so great that not only was He willing to endure most cruel sufferings for our salvation and an atrocious death on the cross, but also He wished to nourish us eternally in the sacrament of His body and blood. In this way, He might strengthen us by the presence of His divinity and be the safest bulwark of our spiritual life. And not content to have loved us with such an outstanding and truly divine love, He heaped benefits on benefits, poured out the riches of His love upon us, and, as you know so well, having loved His own He loved them to the end. For, declaring Himself to be an eternal Priest according to the order of Melchisedech, He instituted permanently His priesthood in the Catholic Church. He decreed that that same sacrifice which He performed is to redeem the whole human race from the yoke of sin to reconcile all things in heaven and earth, and to remain until the consummation of the world. He decreed that it be renewed and take plaice daily by the ministry of the priesthood. Only the reason for the offering is diverse, namely, that the salvific and most abundant fruits of His passion might forever be dispersed upon mankind.
2. In the unbloody sacrifice of the Mass, celebrated by priests, the same life-giving victim is offered up. This entreaty reconciles us to God the Father. It "renews in a mysterious way the death of Christ, who having risen from the dead dies no longer. Death no longer has domination over Him. Still, He is sacrificed for us in the mystery of this sacred oblation".(1)
3. No unworthiness or wickedness on the part of those offering it can ever defile this oblation. The Lord predicted through Malachy that it would be great and would be cleanly offered from sunrise to sunset in all places to His name.(2) This oblation abounding with an unspeakable richness of fruit embraces the present and future life. For by this oblation God is pleased and, granting the grace and gift of repentance, remits even great crimes and sins. Although grievously offended by our sins, He is moved from anger to mercy, from the severity of just chastisement to clemency; by it the title and obligation of temporal punishment is dissolved; by it the souls of the departed in Christ who have not yet been fully purged are aided; by it temporal goods also are obtained, if they do not stand in the way of greater benefits; by it singular honor and cult are procured for the saints and especially for the Immaculate and most holy Mother of God, the Virgin Mary. Wherefore, from the apostolic tradition, we offer the divine sacrifice of the Mass "for the universal peace of the Churches; for the right disposition of the world; for rulers, soldiers, allies; those laboring with infirmity; those oppressed by afflictions; for all who are in need; for those detained in purgatory; with the belief that it will be a help to those souls for whom prayer is offered before the holy and most awesome victim lying before us".(3)
4. Nothing is greater or holier than the unbloody sacrifice of the Mass, in which the body and blood of Christ are offered to God for the salvation of all. Holy Mother the Church has always been careful and diligent in order that the Mass be celebrated by priests with clean and pure hearts. It should be celebrated with the proper splendor of sacred ceremonies and rites so that the greatness of this mystery will shine forth all the more even from external appearances. This will also arouse the faithful to the contemplation of divine things hidden in such an admirable and venerable sacrifice. And with like solicitude and devotion, the same most holy Mother has never ceased to urge, exhort, and influence her faithful sons to frequently attend this divine sacrifice with due piety, veneration and devotion. She teaches that they must at all cost be present at it on all holy days of obligation, with their minds and eyes religiously intent on that from which the divine mercy and an abundance of all good things might be acquired.
5. The sacrifice of the Mass must be offered by pastors of souls for the people committed to their care; this obligation comes from a divine precept according to the teachings of the Council of Trent, since the same Council teaches in most express and grave words: "it is by divine mandate that all those to whom the care of souls is committed are to know their sheep and offer sacrifice for them".(4) The encyclical letter of Benedict XIV of 19 August 1744 (5) speaks most wisely about this obligation, explaining and confirming more fully the mind of the Fathers of Trent. In order to remove all controversies, questions, and uncertainties, he clearly declares that pastors and all others actually having the care of souls ought to offer the sacrifice of the Mass for the people committed to them on all Sundays, and holy days of obligation, as well as on those days on which he, lessening the number of holy days of obligation in some dioceses, allowed people to engage in servile work, with the provision that the faithful fulfill the obligation of hearing holy Mass.
6. We are joyful when We learn from you in your communications that those in charge of souls diligently fulfill the obligation of their office on Sundays and other holy days of obligation, on which they rarely omit to offer the sacrifice of the Mass for the people entrusted to them. But we are not ignorant of the fact that in many places the Mass is now customarily omitted by pastors on those other days which were formerly kept as holy days of obligation according to the constitution of Our Predecessor Urban VIII.(6) Agreeing to petitions of various holy bishops and having before his eyes their causes and reasons, He lessened the holy days of obligation and not only permitted people to perform servile work, but granted also that they be exempt from the obligation of attending holy Mass. But where this generous indult of the Holy See was promulgated, straight-away the pastors of many regions, considering that they were free from the obligation of celebrating Mass for their people on these reduced holy days, neglected the obligation altogether. Hence the custom evolved that pastors in these regions stopped offering holy Mass for their people on the said days, and some did not even hesitate to defend and justify this custom.
7. We are greatly grieved by this situation; therefore, We have decided to remedy this matter especially since We are aware that this Apostolic See has taught that pastors are obliged to celebrate Mass for their people even on the reduced holy days. Our Predecessors were moved by the vigorous pleas of holy bishops; and many and varied needs of the faithful; and the grave concerns of circumstances, times, and places. As a result, they decided to lessen the number of holy days of obligation, and allowed people to undertake servile work on these days and to miss Mass. Nevertheless these same Predecessors, in granting these indults, wished that the law remain intact and inviolate. They wished that on the aforesaid days no innovation ever be made in the churches as to the customary order and rite of the divine offices. They meant for all things to be carried out the exact way they were before, while the constitution of Urban VIII was in force. This prescribed the holy days of obligation. On those days pastors are not free from the obligation of offering Mass for their people; they will realize this, especially when they recall that the pontifical rescripts are to be strictly interpreted. Moreover, We have frequently decreed, that pastors are bound by the obligation of saying Mass for their people even on those days which were removed from the number of holy days of obligation.
8. Wherefore, having weighed this matter carefully and having consulted certain Cardinals of Our Congregation for the Preservation and Interpretation of the Decrees of the Council of Trent, We have decided to write this encyclical letter to establish norm and law to be observed carefully and diligently by all pastors. Accordingly in this letter We declare that pastors and all those actually having care of souls should celebrate holy Mass for their people on all Sundays and on days of obligation. Mass must also be offered on those days, which by indult of this Holy See were removed or transferred from the number of holy days of obligation, just as the clergy were obliged to do when the constitution of Urban VIII was in full force before holy days of obligation were lessened or transferred. As for feasts which have been transferred we make one exception, namely when the divine office of a solemnity has been moved to a Sunday, only one Sunday Mass need be offered by pastors for their people, since the Mass, being the principal part of the divine office, is considered as transferred along with the same office.
9. Concerned with the peace of soul of those pastors who, on account of the asserted custom, have omitted to offer Mass for their people on the days previously mentioned, We, by Our Apostolic authority, fully absolve them from each and every past omission. And, because some claim that they have received from this Apostolic See a special indult of reduction, We grant that they can continue to enjoy the benefit of this indult, according, however, to the conditions expressed in the indult and as long as they exercise the office of pastor in the parishes which they presently govern and administer.
10. While, however, We make these provisions and grant these indults, We hope that pastors will glory in satisfying most diligently and religiously this obligation of offering Mass for their people. They should seriously consider the rich abundance of heavenly favors and earthly goods which redound on the Christian people committed to their care from the offering of this unbloody and divine sacrifice. Since, however, we know that peculiar circumstances can arise in which a remission of the obligation for a particular reason and time should be granted to pastors, We wish to inform you that all must apply uniquely to Our Congregation of the Council to obtain this sort of indult. Only those who depend on the Congregation for the Propagation of the Faith are exempted since We have given the proper faculties for this purpose to both congregations. We have no doubt that you will inform every pastor of your dioceses concerning their obligation of offering the holy sacrifice of the Mass for the people committed to them. And We are convinced also that you will apply the greatest vigilance that those in charge of souls fulfill diligently this part of their task also, and carefully observe what We have decreed and sanctioned by this encyclical. We hope that a copy of this letter will be permanently kept in the records of each of your episcopal curias.
11. Since, venerable brothers, you yourselves know full well the holy sacrifice of the Mass contains a great source of instruction for the faithful, never cease to exhort pastors especially and other preachers of the divine word and those to whom the task of educating the Christian people is delegated to explain to the faithful the necessity, excellence, greatness, purpose and fruits of so holy and admirable a sacrifice. Likewise inflame the faithful themselves to frequently attend this sacrifice with the faith, religion, and piety it deserves, that they may be able to obtain the divine mercy and all kinds of benefits they need. Nor should you cease encouraging the priests of your dioceses to be outstanding in moral integrity, dignity, innocence of life, and sanctity. Those who alone are given the privilege of consecrating the divine host and accomplishing so holy and awesome a sacrifice should display these qualities. Therefore, frequently exhort all who are initiated into the most holy priesthood to give serious consideration to the ministry which they have received in the Lord. They should fulfill their ministry, being always mindful of the dignity and heavenly power with which they are endowed; they should shine forth with the splendor of all kinds of virtue; they should occupy themselves with divine worship, divine things, and the salvation of souls. Then, offering themselves as a living and holy host to the Lord, and always carrying about in their bodies the mortification of Jesus, they may duly offer with pure minds and clean heart to God the propitiatory host for their own salvation and that of all the world.
12. Finally, We are pleased to use this occasion also, to testify again to the special benevolence We have for you. We hope you will quickly proceed to carefully fulfill all aspects of your pastoral ministry and that you will concern yourselves with the salvation and well-being of your beloved flock.
13. Be assured that We are most ready to carry out lovingly all those things which We know can greater benefit your own and your dioceses' well-being. Meanwhile receive as a guarantee of all heavenly gifts and a witness of our deepest benevolence for you, the apostolic blessing, which we lovingly impart from the deepest sentiments of Our heart to you yourselves, venerable brothers, and all the clergy, and faithful laity committed to the vigilance of each of you.
Given in Rome at St. Peter's, 3 May 1858, in the 12th year of Our Pontificate.
1. St. Gregory the Great, Diolog., bk. 44, chap. 58.
2. Malachy, chap. 1.
3. Sr. Cyril of Jerusalem, Catechesis 23, Mystagogia 5 de sacra Liturgia
4. Council of Trent, session 23, chap. 1, De Reformat
5. Benedict XIV, encyclical Cum Semper Oblatas, 19 August 1744.
6. Urban VIII, apostolic constitution Universa Per Orbem, 13 September 1642.
Apostolic Constitution of Pope Pius IX, December 8, 1854
God Ineffable - whose ways are mercy and truth, whose will is omnipotence itself, and whose wisdom "reaches from end to end mightily, and orders all things sweetly" - having foreseen from all eternity the lamentable wretchedness of the entire human race which would result from the sin of Adam, decreed, by a plan hidden from the centuries, to complete the first work of his goodness by a mystery yet more wondrously sublime through the Incarnation of the Word. This he decreed in order that man who, contrary to the plan of Divine Mercy had been led into sin by the cunning malice of Satan, should not perish; and in order that what had been lost in the first Adam would be gloriously restored in the Second Adam. From the very beginning, and before time began, the eternal Father chose and prepared for his only-begotten Son a Mother in whom the Son of God would become incarnate and from whom, in the blessed fullness of time, he would be born into this world. Above all creatures did God so lover her that truly in her was the Father well pleased with singular delight. Therefore, far above all the angels and all the saints so wondrously did God endow her with the abundance of all heavenly gifts poured from the treasury of his divinity that this mother, ever absolutely free of all stain of sin, all fair and perfect, would possess that fullness of holy innocence and sanctity than which, under God, one cannot even imagine anything greater, and which, outside of God, no mind can succeed in comprehending fully.
Supreme Reason for the Privilege:The Divine Maternity
And indeed it was wholly fitting that so wonderful a mother should be ever resplendent with the glory of most sublime holiness and so completely free from all taint of original sin that she would triumph utterly over the ancient serpent. To her did the Father will to give his only-begotten Son - the Son whom, equal to the Father and begotten by him, the Father loves from his heart - and to give this Son in such a way that he would be the one and the same common Son of God the Father and of the Blessed Virgin Mary. It was she whom the Son himself chose to make his Mother and it was from her that the Holy Spirit willed and brought it about that he should be conceived and born from whom he himself proceeds.(1)
The Catholic Church, directed by the Holy Spirit of God, is the pillar and base of truth and has ever held as divinely revealed and as contained in the deposit of heavenly revelation this doctrine concerning the original innocence of the august Virgin - a doctrine which is so perfectly in harmony with her wonderful sanctity and preeminent dignity as Mother of God - and thus has never ceased to explain, to teach and to foster this doctrine age after age in many ways and by solemn acts. From this very doctrine, flourishing and wondrously propagated in the Catholic world through the efforts and zeal of the bishops, was made very clear by the Church when she did not hesitate to present for the public devotion and veneration of the faithful the Feast of the Conception of the Blessed Virgin.(2) By this most significant fact, the Church made it clear indeed that the conception of Mary is to be venerated as something extraordinary, wonderful, eminently holy, and different from the conception of all other human beings - for the Church celebrates only the feast days of the saints.
And hence the very words with which the Sacred Scriptures speak of Uncreated Wisdom and set forth his eternal origin, the Church, both in its ecclesiastical offices and in its liturgy, has been wont to apply likewise to the origin of the Blessed Virgin, inasmuch as God, by one and the same decree, had established the origin of Mary and the Incarnation of Divine Wisdom.
Ordinary Teaching of the Roman Church
These truths, so generally accepted and put into practice by the faithful, indicate how zealously the Roman Church, mother and teacher of all Churches, has continued to teach this doctrine of the Immaculate Conception of the Virgin. Yet the more important actions of the Church deserve to be mentioned in detail. For such dignity and authority belong to the Church that she alone is the center of truth and of Catholic unity. It is the Church in which alone religion has been inviolably preserved and from which all other Churches must receive the tradition of the Faith.(3)
The same Roman Church, therefore, desired nothing more than by the most persuasive means to state, to protect, to promote and to defend the doctrine of the Immaculate Conception. This fact is most clearly shown to the whole world by numerous and significant acts of the Roman Pontiffs, our predecessors. To them, in the person of the Prince of the Apostles, were divinely entrusted by Christ our Lord, the charge and supreme care and the power of feeding the lambs and sheep; in particular, of confirming their brethren, and of ruling and governing the universal Church.
Veneration of the Immaculate
Our predecessors, indeed, by virtue of their apostolic authority, gloried in instituting the Feast of the Conception in the Roman Church. They did so to enhance its importance and dignity by a suitable Office and Mass, whereby the prerogative of the Virgin, her exception from the hereditary taint, was most distinctly affirmed. As to the homage already instituted, they spared no effort to promote and to extend it either by the granting of indulgences, or by allowing cities, provinces and kingdoms to choose as their patroness God's own Mother, under the title of "The Immaculate Conception." Again, our predecessors approved confraternities, congregations and religious communities founded in honor of the Immaculate Conception, monasteries, hospitals, altars, or churches; they praised persons who vowed to uphold with all their ability the doctrine of the Immaculate Conception of the Mother of God. Besides, it afforded the greatest joy to our predecessors to ordain that the Feast of the Conception should be celebrated in every church with the very same honor as the Feast of the Nativity; that it should be celebrated with an octave by the whole Church; that it should be reverently and generally observed as a holy day of obligation; and that a pontifical Capella should be held in our Liberian pontifical basilica on the day dedicated to the conception of the Virgin. Finally, in their desire to impress this doctrine of the Immaculate Conception of the Mother of God upon the hearts of the faithful, and to intensify the people's piety and enthusiasm for the homage and the veneration of the Virgin conceived without the stain of original sin, they delighted to grant, with the greatest pleasure, permission to proclaim the Immaculate Conception of the Virgin in the Litany of Loreto, and in the Preface of the Mass, so that the rule of prayer might thus serve to illustrate the rule of belief. Therefore, we ourselves, following the procedure of our predecessors, have not only approved and accepted what had already been established, but bearing in mind, moreover, the decree of Sixtus IV, (4) have confirmed by our authority a proper Office in honor of the Immaculate Conception, and have with exceeding joy extended its use to the universal Church.(5)
The Roman Doctrine
Now inasmuch as whatever pertains to sacred worship is intimately connected with its object and cannot have either consistency or durability if this object is vague or uncertain, our predecessors, the Roman Pontiffs, therefore, while directing all their efforts toward an increase of the devotion to the conception, made it their aim not only to emphasize the object with the utmost zeal, but also to enunciate the exact doctrine.(6) Definitely and clearly they taught that the feast was held in honor of the conception of the Virgin. They denounced as false and absolutely foreign to the mind of the Church the opinion of those who held and affirmed that it was not the conception of the Virgin but her sanctification that was honored by the Church. They never thought that greater leniency should be extended toward those who, attempting to disprove the doctrine of the Immaculate Conception of the Virgin, devised a distinction between the first and second instance of conception and inferred that the conception which the Church celebrates was not that of the first instance of conception but the second. In fact, they held it was their duty not only to uphold and defend with all their power the Feast of the Conception of the Blessed Virgin but also to assert that the true object of this veneration was her conception considered in its first instant. Hence the words of one of our predecessors, Alexander VII, who authoritatively and decisively declared the mind of the Church: "Concerning the most Blessed Virgin Mary, Mother of God, ancient indeed is that devotion of the faithful based on the belief that her soul, in the first instant of its creation and in the first instant of the soul's infusion into the body, was, by a special grace and privilege of God, in view of the merits of Jesus Christ, her Son and the Redeemer of the human race, preserved free from all stain of original sin. And in this sense have the faithful ever solemnized and celebrated the Feast of the Conception."(7)
Moreover, our predecessors considered it their special solemn duty with all diligence, zeal, and effort to preserve intact the doctrine of the Immaculate Conception of the Mother of God. For, not only have they in no way ever allowed this doctrine to be censured or changed, but they have gone much further and by clear statements repeatedly asserted that the doctrine by which we profess the Immaculate Conception of the Virgin is on its own merits entirely in harmony with the ecclesiastical veneration; that it is ancient and widespread, and of the same nature as that which the Roman Church has undertaken to promote and to protect, and that it is entirely worthy to be used in the Sacred Liturgy and solemn prayers. Not content with this they most strictly prohibited any opinion contrary to this doctrine to be defended in public or private in order that the doctrine of the Immaculate Conception of the Virgin might remain inviolate. By repeated blows they wished to put an end to such an opinion. And lest these oft-repeated and clearest statements seem useless, they added a sanction to them.
All these things our illustrious predecessor, Alexander VII, summed up in these words: "We have in mind the fact that the Holy Roman Church solemnly celebrated the Feast of the Conception of the undefiled and ever-Virgin Mary, and has long ago appointed for this a special and proper Office according to the pious, devout, and laudable instruction which was given by our predecessor, Sixtus IV. Likewise, we were desirous, after the example of our predecessors, to favor this praiseworthy piety, devotion, feast and veneration - a veneration which is in keeping with the piety unchanged in the Roman Church from the day it was instituted. We also desired to protect this piety and devotion of venerating and extolling the most Blessed Virgin preserved from original sin by the grace of the Holy Spirit. Moreover, we were anxious to preserve the unity of the Spirit in the bond of peace in the flock of Christ by putting down arguments and controversies and by removing scandals. So at the instance and request of the bishops mentioned above, with the chapters of the churches, and of King Philip and his kingdoms, we renew the Constitutions and Decrees issued by the Roman Pontiffs, our predecessors, especially Sixtus IV,(8) Paul V,(9) and Gregory XV,(10) in favor of the doctrine asserting that the soul of the Blessed Virgin, in its creation and infusion into the body, was endowed with the grace of the Holy Spirit and preserved from original sin; and also in favor of the feast and veneration of the conception of the Virgin Mother of God, which, as is manifest, was instituted in keeping with that pious belief. So we command this feast to be observed under the censures and penalties contained in the same Constitutions.
"And therefore, against all and everyone of those who shall continue to construe the said Constitutions and Decrees in a manner apt to frustrate the favor which is thereby given to the said doctrine, and to the feast and relative veneration, or who shall dare to call into question the said sentence, feast and worship, or in any way whatever, directly or indirectly, shall declare themselves opposed to it under any pretext whatsoever, were it but only to the extent of examining the possibilities of effecting the definition, or who shall comment upon and interpret the Sacred Scripture, or the Fathers or Doctors in connection therewith, or finally, for any reason, or on any occasion, shall dare, either in writing or verbally, to speak, preach, treat, dispute or determine upon, or assert whatsoever against the foregoing matters, or who shall adduce any arguments against them, while leaving them unresolved, or who shall disagree therewith in any other conceivable manner, we hereby declare that in addition to the penalties and censures contained in the Constitutions issued by Sixtus IV to which we want them to be subjected and to which we subject them by the present Constitution, we hereby decree that they be deprived of the authority of preaching, reading in public, that is to say teaching and interpreting; and that they be also deprived ipso facto of the power of voting, either actively or passively, in all elections, without the need for any further declaration; and that also, ipso facto, without any further declaration, they shall incur the penalty of perpetual disability from preaching, reading in public, teaching and interpreting, and that it shall not be possible to absolve them from such penalty, or remove it, save through ourselves, or the Roman Pontiffs who shall succeed us.
"We also require that the same shall remain subject to any other penalties which by us, of our own free will - or by the Roman Pontiffs, our successors (according as they may decree) - shall be deemed advisable to establish, and by the present Constitution we declare them subject thereto, and hereby renew the above Decrees and Constitutions of Paul V and Gregory XV.
"Moreover, as regards those books in which the said sentence, feast and relative veneration are called into question or are contradicted in any way whatsoever, according to what has already been stated, either in writing or verbally, in discourses, sermons, lectures, treatises and debates - that may have been printed after the above-praised Decree of Paul V, or may be printed hereafter we hereby prohibit them, subject to the penalties and censures established by the Index of prohibited books, and ipso facto, without any further declaration, we desire and command that they be held as expressly prohibited."(11)
Testimonies of the Catholic World
All are aware with how much diligence this doctrine of the Immaculate Conception of the Mother of God has been handed down, proposed and defended by the most outstanding religious orders, by the more celebrated theological academies, and by very eminent doctors in the sciences of theology. All know, likewise, how eager the bishops have been to profess openly and publicly, even in ecclesiastical assemblies, that Mary, the most holy Mother of God, by virtue of the foreseen merits of Christ, our Lord and Redeemer, was never subject to original sin, but was completely preserved from the original taint, and hence she was redeemed in a manner more sublime.
The Council of Trent
Besides, we must note a fact of the greatest importance indeed. Even the Council of Trent itself, when it promulgated the dogmatic decree concerning original sin, following the testimonies of the Sacred Scriptures, of the Holy Fathers and of the renowned Council, decreed and defined that all men are born infected by original sin; nevertheless, it solemnly declared that it had no intention of including the blessed and immaculate Virgin Mary, the Mother of God, in this decree and in the general extension of its definition. Indeed, considering the times and circumstances, the Fathers of Trent sufficiently intimated by this declaration that the Blessed Virgin Mary was free from the original stain; and thus they clearly signified that nothing could be reasonably cited from the Sacred Scriptures, from Tradition, or from the authority of the Fathers, which would in any way be opposed to so great a prerogative of the Blessed Virgin.(12)
Testimonies of Tradition
And indeed, illustrious documents of venerable antiquity, of both the Eastern and the Western Church, very forcibly testify that this doctrine of the Immaculate Conception of the most Blessed Virgin, which was daily more and more splendidly explained, stated and confirmed by the highest authority, teaching, zeal, knowledge, and wisdom of the Church, and which was disseminated among all peoples and nations of the Catholic world in a marvelous manner - this doctrine always existed in the Church as a doctrine that has been received from our ancestors, and that has been stamped with the character of revealed doctrine. For the Church of Christ, watchful guardian that she is, and defender of the dogmas deposited with her, never changes anything, never diminishes anything, never adds anything to them; but with all diligence she treats the ancient documents faithfully and wisely; if they really are of ancient origin and if the faith of the Fathers has transmitted them, she strives to investigate and explain them in such a way that the ancient dogmas of heavenly doctrine will be made evident and clear, but will retain their full, integral, and proper nature, and will grown only within their own genus - that is, within the same dogma, in the same sense and the same meaning.
Interpreters of the Sacred Scripture
The Fathers and writers of the Church, well versed in the heavenly Scriptures, had nothing more at heart than to vie with one another in preaching and teaching in many wonderful ways the Virgin's supreme sanctity, dignity, and immunity from all stain of sin, and her renowned victory over the most foul enemy of the human race. This they did in the books they wrote to explain the Scriptures, to vindicate the dogmas, and to instruct the faithful. These ecclesiastical writers in quoting the words by which at the beginning of the world God announced his merciful remedies prepared for the regeneration of mankind - words by which he crushed the audacity of the deceitful serpent and wondrously raised up the hope of our race, saying, "I will put enmities between you and the woman, between your seed and her seed"(13) - taught that by this divine prophecy the merciful Redeemer of mankind, Jesus Christ, the only begotten Son of God, was clearly foretold: That his most Blessed Mother, the Virgin Mary, was prophetically indicated; and, at the same time, the very enmity of both against the evil one was significantly expressed. Hence, just as Christ, the Mediator between God and man, assumed human nature, blotted the handwriting of the decree that stood against us, and fastened it triumphantly to the cross, so the most holy Virgin, united with him by a most intimate and indissoluble bond, was, with him and through him, eternally at enmity with the evil serpent, and most completely triumphed over him, and thus crushed his head with her immaculate foot.(14)
This sublime and singular privilege of the Blessed Virgin, together with her most excellent innocence, purity, holiness and freedom from every stain of sin, as well as the unspeakable abundance and greatness of all heavenly graces, virtues and privileges - these the Fathers beheld in that ark of Noah, which was built by divine command and escaped entirely safe and sound from the common shipwreck of the whole world;(15) in the ladder which Jacob saw reaching from the earth to heaven, by whose rungs the angels of God ascended and descended, and on whose top the Lord himself leaned'(16) in that bush which Moses saw in the holy place burning on all sides, which was not consumed or injured in any way but grew green and blossomed beautifully;(17) in that impregnable tower before the enemy, from which hung a thousand bucklers and all the armor of the strong;(18) in that garden enclosed on all sides, which cannot be violated or corrupted by any deceitful plots;(19) as in that resplendent city of God, which has its foundations on the holy mountains;(20) in that most august temple of God, which, radiant with divine splendors, is full of the glory of God;(21) and in very many other biblical types of this kind. In such allusions the Fathers taught that the exalted dignity of the Mother of God, her spotless innocence and her sanctity unstained by any fault, had been prophesied in a wonderful manner.
In like manner did they use the words of the prophets to describe this wondrous abundance of divine gifts and the original innocence of the Virgin of whom Jesus was born. They celebrated the august Virgin as the spotless dove, as the holy Jerusalem, as the exalted throne of God, as the ark and house of holiness which Eternal Wisdom built, and as that Queen who, abounding in delights and leaning on her Beloved, came forth from the mouth of the Most High, entirely perfect, beautiful, most dear to God and never stained with the least blemish.
When the Fathers and writers of the Church meditated on the fact that the most Blessed Virgin was, in the name and by order of God himself, proclaimed full of grace(22) by the Angel Gabriel when he announced her most sublime dignity of Mother of God, they thought that this singular and solemn salutation, never heard before, showed that the Mother of God is the seat of all divine graces and is adorned with all gifts of the Holy Spirit. To them Mary is an almost infinite treasury, an inexhaustible abyss of these gifts, to such an extent that she was never subject to the curse and was, together with her Son, the only partaker of perpetual benediction. Hence she was worthy to hear Elizabeth, inspired by the Holy Spirit, exclaim: "Blessed are you among women, and blessed is the fruit of your womb."(23)
Mary Compared with Eve
Hence, it is the clear and unanimous opinion of the Fathers that the most glorious Virgin, for whom "he who is mighty has done great things," was resplendent with such an abundance of heavenly gifts, with such a fullness of grace and with such innocence, that she is an unspeakable miracle of God - indeed, the crown of all miracles and truly the Mother of God; that she approaches as near to God himself as is possible for a created being; and that she is above all men and angels in glory. Hence, to demonstrate the original innocence and sanctity of the Mother of God, not only did they frequently compare her to Eve while yet a virgin, while yet innocence, while yet incorrupt, while not yet deceived by the deadly snares of the most treacherous serpent; but they have also exalted her above Even with a wonderful variety of expressions. Eve listened to the serpent with lamentable consequences; she fell from original innocence and became his slave. The most Blessed Virgin, on the contrary, ever increased her original gift, and not only never lent an ear to the serpent, but by divinely given power she utterly destroyed the force and dominion of the evil one.
Accordingly, the Fathers have never ceased to call the Mother of God the lily among thorns, the land entirely intact, the Virgin undefiled, immaculate, ever blessed, and free from all contagion of sin, she from whom was formed the new Adam, the flawless, brightest, and most beautiful paradise of innocence, immortality and delights planted by God himself and protected against all the snares of the poisonous serpent, the incorruptible wood that the worm of sin had never corrupted, the fountain ever clear and sealed with the power of the Holy Spirit, the most holy temple, the treasure of immortality, the one and only daughter of life - not of death - the plant not of anger but of grace, through the singular providence of God growing ever green contrary to the common law, coming as it does from a corrupted and tainted root.
Explicit Affirmation . . .
As if these splendid eulogies and tributes were not sufficient, the Fathers proclaimed with particular and definite statements that when one treats of sin, the holy Virgin Mary is not even to be mentioned; for to her more grace was given than was necessary to conquer sin completely.(24) They also declared that the most glorious Virgin was Reparatrix of the first parents, the giver of life to posterity; that she was chosen before the ages, prepared for himself by the Most High, foretold by God when he said to the serpent, "I will put enmities between you and the woman."(25) - unmistakable evidence that she was crushed the poisonous head of the serpent. And hence they affirmed that the Blessed Virgin was, through grace, entirely free from every stain of sin, and from all corruption of body, soul and mind; that she was always united with God and joined to him by an eternal covenant; that she was never in darkness but always in light; and that, therefore, she was entirely a fit habitation for Christ, not because of the state of her body, but because of her original grace.
. . . Of a Supereminent Sanctity
To these praises they have added very noble words. Speaking of the conception of the Virgin, they testified that nature yielded to grace and, unable to go on, stood trembling. The Virgin Mother of God would not be conceived by Anna before grace would bear its fruits; it was proper that she be conceived as the first-born, by whom "the first-born of every creature" would be conceived. They testified, too, that the flesh of the Virgin, although derived from Adam, did not contract the stains of Adam, and that on this account the most Blessed Virgin was the tabernacle created by God himself and formed by the Holy Spirit, truly a work in royal purple, adorned and woven with gold, which that new Beseleel(26) made. They affirmed that the same Virgin is, and is deservedly, the first and especial work of God, escaping the fiery arrows the the evil one; that she is beautiful by nature and entirely free from all stain; that at her Immaculate Conception she came into the world all radiant like the dawn. For it was certainly not fitting that this vessel of election should be wounded by the common injuries, since she, differing so much from the others, had only nature in common with them, not sin. In fact, it was quite fitting that, as the Only-Begotten has a Father in heaven, whom the Seraphim extol as thrice holy, so he should have a Mother on earth who would never be without the splendor of holiness.
This doctrine so filled the minds and souls of our ancestors in the faith that a singular and truly marvelous style of speech came into vogue among them. They have frequently addressed the Mother of God as immaculate, as immaculate in every respect; innocent, and verily most innocent; spotless, and entirely spotless; holy and removed from every stain of sin; all pure, all stainless, the very model of purity and innocence; more beautiful than beauty, more lovely than loveliness; more holy than holiness, singularly holy and most pure in soul and body; the one who surpassed all integrity and virginity; the only one who has become the dwelling place of all the graces of the most Holy Spirit. God alone excepted, Mary is more excellent than all, and by nature fair and beautiful, and more holy than the Cherubim and Seraphim. To praise her all the tongues of heaven and earth do not suffice.
Everyone is cognizant that this style of speech has passed almost spontaneously into the books of the most holy liturgy and the Offices of the Church, in which they occur so often and abundantly. In them, the Mother of God is invoked and praised as the one spotless and most beautiful dove, as a rose ever blooming, as perfectly pure, ever immaculate, and ever blessed. She is celebrated as innocence never sullied and as the second Even who brought forth the Emmanuel.
Preparation for the Definition
No wonder, then, that the Pastors of the Church and the faithful gloried daily more and more in professing with so much piety, religion, and love this doctrine of the Immaculate Conception of the Virgin Mother of God, which, as the Fathers discerned, was recorded in the Divine Scriptures; which was handed down in so many of their most important writings; which was expressed and celebrated in so many illustrious monuments of venerable antiquity; which was proposed and confirmed by the official and authoritative teaching of the Church. Hence, nothing was dearer, nothing more pleasing to these pastors than to venerate, invoke, and proclaim with most ardent affection the Virgin Mother of God conceived without original stain. Accordingly, from ancient times the bishops of the Church, ecclesiastics, religious orders, and even emperors and kings, have earnestly petitioned this Apostolic See to define a dogma of the Catholic Faith the Immaculate Conception of the most holy Mother of God. These petitions were renewed in these our own times; they were especially brought to the attention of Gregory XVI, our predecessor of happy memory, and to ourselves, not only by bishops, but by the secular clergy and religious orders, by sovereign rulers and by the faithful.
Mindful, indeed, of all these things and considering them most attentively with particular joy in our heart, as soon as we, by the inscrutable design of Providence, had been raised to the sublime Chair of St. Peter - in spite of our unworthiness - and had begun to govern the universal Church, nothing have we had more at heart - a heart which from our tenderest years has overflowed with devoted veneration and love for the most Blessed Virgin - than to show forth her prerogatives in resplendent light.
That we might proceed with great prudence, we established a special congregation of our venerable brethren, the cardinals of the holy Roman Church, illustrious for their piety, wisdom, and knowledge of the sacred scriptures. We also selected priests, both secular and regular, well trained in the theological sciences, that they should most carefully consider all matters pertaining to the Immaculate Conception of the Virgin and make known to us their opinion.
The Mind of the Bishops
Although we knew the mind of the bishops from the petitions which we had received from them, namely, that the Immaculate Conception of the Blessed Virgin be finally defined, nevertheless, on February 2, 1849,(27) we sent an Encyclical Letter from Gaeta to all our venerable brethren, the bishops of the Catholic world, that they should offer prayers to God and then tell us in writing what the piety an devotion of their faithful was in regard to the Immaculate Conception of the Mother of God. We likewise inquired what the bishops themselves thought about defining this doctrine and what their wishes were in regard to making known with all possible solemnity our supreme judgment.
We were certainly filled with the greatest consolation when the replies of our venerable brethren came to us. For, replying to us with a most enthusiastic joy, exultation and zeal, they not only again confirmed their own singular piety toward the Immaculate Conception of the most Blessed Virgin, and that of the secular and religious clergy and of the faithful, but with one voice they even entreated us to define our supreme judgment and authority the Immaculate Conception of the Virgin. In the meantime we were indeed filled with no less joy when, after a diligent examination, our venerable brethren, the cardinals of the special congregation and the theologians chosen by us as counselors (whom we mentioned above), asked with the same enthusiasm and fervor for the definition of the Immaculate Conception of the Mother of God.
Consequently, following the examples of our predecessors, and desiring to proceed in the traditional manner, we announced and held a consistory, in which we addressed our brethren, the cardinals of the Holy Roman Church. It was the greatest spiritual joy for us when we heard them ask us to promulgate the dogmatic definition of the Immaculate Conception of the Virgin Mother of God.(28)
Therefore, having full trust in the Lord that the opportune time had come for defining the Immaculate Conception of the Blessed Virgin Mary, Mother of God, which Holy Scripture, venerable Tradition, the constant mind of the Church, the desire of Catholic bishops and the faithful, and the memorable Acts and Constitutions of our predecessors, wonderfully illustrate and proclaim, and having most diligently considered all things, as we poured forth to God ceaseless and fervent prayers, we concluded that we should no longer delay in decreeing and defining by our supreme authority the Immaculate Conception of the Blessed Virgin. And thus, we can satisfy the most holy desire of the Catholic world as well as our own devotion toward the most holy Virgin, and at the same time honor more and more the only begotten Son, Jesus Christ our Lord through his holy Mother - since whatever honor and praise are bestowed on the Mother redound to the Son.
Wherefore, in humility and fasting, we unceasingly offered our private prayers as well as the public prayers of the Church to God the Father through his Son, that he would deign to direct and strengthen our mind by the power of the Holy Spirit. In like manner did we implore the help of the entire heavenly host as we ardently invoked the Paraclete. Accordingly, by the inspiration of the Holy Spirit, for the honor of the Holy and undivided Trinity, for the glory and adornment of the Virgin Mother of God, for the exaltation of the Catholic Faith, and for the furtherance of the Catholic religion, by the authority of Jesus Christ our Lord, of the Blessed Apostles Peter and Paul, and by our own: "We declare, pronounce, and define that the doctrine which holds that the most Blessed Virgin Mary, in the first instance of her conception, by a singular grace and privilege granted by Almighty God, in view of the merits of Jesus Christ, the Savior of the human race, was preserved free from all stain of original sin, is a doctrine revealed by God and therefore to be believed firmly and constantly by all the faithful."(29)
Hence, if anyone shall dare - which God forbid! - to think otherwise than as has been defined by us, let him know and understand that he is condemned by his own judgment; that he has suffered shipwreck in the faith; that he has separated from the unity of the Church; and that, furthermore, by his own action he incurs the penalties established by law if he should are to express in words or writing or by any other outward means the errors he think in his heart.
Our soul overflows with joy and our tongue with exultation. We give, and we shall continue to give, the humblest and deepest thanks to Jesus Christ, our Lord, because through his singular grace he has granted to us, unworthy though we be, to decree and offer this honor and glory and praise to his most holy Mother. All our hope do we repose in the most Blessed Virgin - in the all fair and immaculate one who has crushed the poisonous head of the most cruel serpent and brought salvation to the world: in her who is the glory of the prophets and apostles, the honor of the martyrs, the crown and joy of all the saints; in her who is the safest refuge and the most trustworthy helper of all who are in danger; in her who, with her only-begotten Son, is the most powerful Mediatrix and Conciliatrix in the whole world; in her who is the most excellent glory, ornament, and impregnable stronghold of the holy Church; in her who has destroyed all heresies and snatched the faithful people and nations from all kinds of direst calamities; in her do we hope who has delivered us from so many threatening dangers. We have, therefore, a very certain hope and complete confidence that the most Blessed Virgin will ensure by her most powerful patronage that all difficulties be removed and all errors dissipated, so that our Holy Mother the Catholic Church may flourish daily more and more throughout all the nations and countries, and may reign "from sea to sea and from the river to the ends of the earth," and may enjoy genuine peace, tranquility and liberty. We are firm in our confidence that she will obtain pardon for the sinner, health for the sick, strength of heart for the weak, consolation for the afflicted, help for those in danger; that she will remove spiritual blindness from all who are in error, so that they may return to the path of truth and justice, and that here may be one flock and one shepherd.
Let all the children of the Catholic Church, who are so very dear to us, hear these words of ours. With a still more ardent zeal for piety, religion and love, let them continue to venerate, invoke and pray to the most Blessed Virgin Mary, Mother of God, conceived without original sin. Let them fly with utter confidence to this most sweet Mother of mercy and grace in all dangers, difficulties, needs, doubts and fears. Under her guidance, under her patronage, under her kindness and protection, nothing is to be feared; nothing is hopeless. Because, while bearing toward us a truly motherly affection and having in her care the work of our salvation, she is solicitous about the whole human race. And since she has been appointed by God to be the Queen of heaven and earth, and is exalted above all the choirs of angels and saints, and even stands at the right hand of her only-begotten Son, Jesus Christ our Lord, she presents our petitions in a most efficacious manner. What she asks, she obtains. Her pleas can never be unheard.
Given at St. Peter's in Rome, the eighth day of December, 1854, in the eighth year of our pontificate.
(1) Et quidem decebat omnino, ut perfectissimae sanctitatis splendoribus semper ornata fulgeret, ac vel ab ipsa originalis culpae labe plane immunis amplissimum de antiquo sepente triumphum referret tam venerabilis mater, cui Deus Pater unicum Filius suum, quem de corde suo aequalem sibi genitum tamquam seipsum diligit, ita dare disposuit, ut naturaliter esset unus idemque communis Dei Patris et Virginis Filius, et quam ipse Filius, Filius substantialiter facere sibi matrem elegit, et de qua Siritus Sanctus voluit et operatus est, ut conciperetur et nasceretur ille, de quo ipse procedit.
(2) Cf. Ibid., n. 16.
(3) Cf. St. Irenaeus, Adv. Haereses, book III, c. III, n. 2.
(4) C.A. Cum Praeexcelsa, February 28, 1476; Denz., n. 734.
(5) Decree of the Sared Cong. of Rites; September 30, 1847.
(6) This has been the constant care of the Popes, as is shown by the condemnation of one of the propositions of Anthony de Rosmini-Serbati (cf. Denzinger, nn. 1891-1930). This is how the 34th proposition runs (Denzinger, n. 1924): "Ad praeservandam B. V. Mariam a labe originis, satis erat, ut incorruptum maneret minimum sesmen in homine, neglectum forte ab ipso demone, e quo incorrupto semine de generatione in generationem transfuso, suo tempore oriretur Virgo Maria." Decree of the Holy Office, December 14, 1887 (AAS 20, 393). Denz. n. 1924.
(7) Apost. Const. Sollicitudo Omnium Ecclesiarum, December 8, 1661.
(8) Apost. Const. Cum Praeexcelsa, February 28, 1476; Grave Nemis, September 4, 1483; Denz., nn. 734, 735.
(9) Apost. Const. Sanctissimus, September 12, 1617.
(10) Apost. Const. Sanctissimus, June 4, 1622.
(11) Alexander VIII, Apost. Const. Sollicitudo Omnium Ecclesiarum, December 8, 1661.
(12) Sess. V, Can. 6; Denz. n. 792. Declarat tamen haec ipsa sancta Synodus, non esse suae intentionis, comprehendere in hoc decreto, ubi de peccato originali agitur, beatam et immaculatam Virginem Mariam Dei genitricem, sed observandas esse constitutiones felicis recordationis Sixti Papae IV, sub poenis in eis constitutionibus contentis, quas innovat.
(13) Gn 3:15.
(14) Quo circa sicut Christus Dei hominumque mediator, humana assumpta natura, delens quod adversus nos erat chirographum decretia, illud cruci triumphator affixit; sic Sanctissima Virgo, Arctissimo et indissolubili vinculo cum eo conjuncta, una cum illo et per illum, sempiternas contra venenosum serpentem inimicitias exercens, ac de ipso plenissime triumphans, illus caput immaculato pede contrivit.
(15) Cf. Gn. 6:9.
(16) Cf. Gn 28:12.
(17) Cf. Ex 3:2.
(18) Cf. Sg 4:4.
(19) Cf. Sg 4:12.
(20) Cf. Ps 87:1.
(21) Cf. Is 6:1-4.
(22) Cf. Lk 1:28.
(23) Ibid., 42.
(24) Cf. St. Augustine: De Natura et Gratia, c. 36.
(25) Gn 3:15.
(26) Cf. Ex 31:2.
(27) Cf. Ibid., n. 19ff.
(28) Cf. Ibid., n. 27ff.
(29) Declaramus, pronuntiamus et definimus doctrinam quae tenet beatissimam Virginem Mariam in primo instanti suae conceptionis fuisse singulari Omnipotentis Dei gratia et privilegio, intuitu meritorum Christi Jesu Salvatoris humani generis, ab omni originalis culpae labe praeservatam immunem, esse a Deo revelatam, atque idcirco ab omnibus fidelibus firmiter constanterque credendam. Cf. Denz., n. 1641.
Encyclical of Pope Pius IX promulgated on August 1, 1854
To the Venerable Brothers, the Patriarchs, Primates, Archbishops, Bishops, and other Local Ordinaries Who Share Grace and Communion with the Apostolic See.
Venerable Brothers, Greetings and Apostolic Benediction.
When We contemplate the whole Catholic world with the care and affection of Our apostolic love, We can hardly put into words how deeply saddened We are at seeing Christian and civil society disturbed and thoroughly confused, oppressed and torn apart by all kinds of disasters. Moreover you know very well how the Christian people are afflicted and harassed by ferocious wars, internal discords, plagues, earthquakes, and other serious troubles. In addition, it is lamentable that among so many injuries and evils perpetrated by the sons of darkness, who are more artful than the sons of light, they try energetically to wage a bitter war against the Catholic Church and its doctrines. In this they use diabolic deceits, arts, and labors. They attempt to overthrow the authority of the Church's legitimate power and to corrupt the minds and souls of everyone. They want to spread everywhere the deadly virus of indifferentism and unbelief; to mix together all human and divine rights; to promote dissension, discord, and movements of impious rebellion; and to commit vicious deeds and cruel crimes. They leave nothing untried so that if it were possible, Our religion would be uprooted and human society itself might be destroyed.
2. Well aware of these dangerous circumstances, We have not failed to raise Our eyes to the holy mountain whence We trust every future help will come. We asked to obtain all the good things which We lack and to avoid the evils We dread. We do not cease to beseech Our merciful God with fervent prayers so that, banishing war to the ends of the earth and removing all disagreements from the Christian princes, He might grant peace and tranquility to their people. May God especially grant to those princes a pious zeal by preserving and spreading the Catholic faith and doctrine. The happiness of the people depends upon this. May He also save those leaders and people from all the evils which afflict them and make them rejoice in true prosperity. May He bestow the gift of His grace on those who stray so that they may return from the path of perdition to the way of truth and justice and may be turned toward God with a sincere heart. Moreover We have ordered that prayer imploring the divine mercy be offered in this Our beloved city. Following in the footsteps of Our predecessors, We decided to have recourse to your prayers and to those of the whole Church.
3. Therefore, We are writing this letter to you. We implore you to arouse the faithful entrusted to your care concerning the matters mentioned above so that they might strive to appease the wrath of God provoked by the shameful deeds of men. They should do this by true penance with prayers, fasting, almsgiving, and other good works. Also explain to the faithful how God is merciful to all who call upon Him and how powerful prayer is if We go to the Lord without permitting any enemy of our salvation to have access to us. To use the words of Chrysostom, prayer is "the source, the root, and the mother of innumerable good things. The power of prayer extinguishes the strength of fire, restrains the raging of lions, settles wars and fights, endures storms, escapes devils, opens the doors of heaven, breaks the bonds of death, casts out diseases, repels injuries, and strengthens shattered cities. Prayer endures the blows inflicted from heaven, all the snares of men, and every evil".(1)
4. We strongly desire that when you pray to the Father of Mercies about these matters you do not forget to pray to Him humbly, ardently, and zealously, following the guidelines of Our encyclical letter dated February 2, 1849. Pray that He will desire to enlighten Our mind with the light of His Holy Spirit by which We might issue a decree as soon as possible concerning the conception of the Most Holy Mother of God, the Immaculate Virgin Mary. This would result in the greater glory of God and the praise of that Virgin, the loving mother of us all.
5. Indeed We have decided to offer the treasures of divine gifts, whose dispensation the Most High entrusted to Our care, so that your faithful may pray with more fervent love and more abundant fruit. For this reason, by the mercy of almighty God and trusting in the authority of His blessed apostles Peter and Paul, We confer, by the power of binding and loosing which the Lord gave to Us, a plenary indulgence of all sins as in a jubilee. This indulgence will be granted to all the faithful of your dioceses who accomplish the following acts within a three month span to be determined by each one of you and computed from the day which you decide upon. They must have humbly confessed their sins with sincere regret for them, and after being purified with sacramental absolution, they must have reverently received the sacrament of the Eucharist. They must also visit three churches designated by you or one of the churches three times and must say prayers there for the exaltation and prosperity of Holy Mother Church and the Apostolic See, for the elimination of heresies, for the peace and harmony of the Christian princes, and for the tranquillity and unity of the whole Christian people. Moreover they should fast once within the same period and give some alms to the poor. This indulgence can also be applied to the souls in purgatory. Since We desire even cloistered nuns and other people permanently in cloister to participate in this indulgence, as well as people in prisons, invalids, and other people prevented by any handicap from carrying out some of the aforementioned works, We grant the confessors the ability to exchange one work of piety for another or to defer it to another time. In addition, the confessors will have the power to give communion to children who have not yet had their first communion. Therefore, We authorize you on this occasion and during this three month period to bestow on the confessors of your dioceses all those same powers which We gave in the other jubilee announced through Our encyclical letter of November 21, 1851. We published that letter which begins with "Ex aliis nostris" and sent it to you. All those things which We excepted in that letter must be observed. In addition, We also grant you the favor of giving the faithful-both laymen and clerics-the ability on this occasion to choose their own confessors, either secular or regular, from those approved. We also grant this same power to the cloistered nuns exempt from the jurisdiction of the Ordinary and to other women living in cloister.
6. Set to work then, venerable brothers, since you have been called to share in Our cares and have been placed as guardians over the walls of Jerusalem. Do not cease night and day to cry to the Lord Our God with Us. Implore His divine mercy so that He may turn away the scourge of His wrath, which we deserve for our sins and may mercifully bestow the riches of His goodness on everyone. We do not doubt that you will be totally content with these wishes and requests. And We know for certain that everyone, especially the clergy, the men and women in religious orders, and the faithful laity who worthily walk in the vocation to which they were called, will send prayers and supplications unceasingly to God. Nor would We neglect to ask the help of those who have obtained the palm of victory so that God might more easily bend His ear to Our prayers. Above all, We constantly call upon the Virgin Mary, the Immaculate Mother of God, who is the most suitable and most powerful intercessor with God and who is the mother of graces and mercies. Then We invoke the patronage of the blessed apostles Peter and Paul and of all the saints who reign with Christ in heaven. Nothing should be more important, nothing more preferable to you than to exhort the faithful entrusted to your care so that they, daily more firm and immovable, may persist in the profession of the Catholic faith; avoid the snares, lies, and deceptions of their enemies; advance more quickly in the ways of God's commandments; and carefully abstain from sin. From sin comes all the evils of the human race. For this reason never cease to inflame the zeal of the parish priests so that in discharging their office diligently, they may never stop instructing the Christian people entrusted to them in the principles and teachings of our faith, nourishing them through the administration of the sacraments, and exhorting them in sound doctrine.
7. Finally, as a sign of all heavenly gifts and as a witness of Our ardent love for you, receive the apostolic benediction which We affectionately impart to you and to all the clergy and laity entrusted to your care.
Given in Rome at St. Peter's on the first day of August in the year 1854, the ninth year of Our Pontificate.
1. St. John Chrysostom, homily 15 on the incomprehensible nature of God against the Anomaei.
Encyclical of Pope Pius IX promulgated on March 21, 1853
To Our Beloved Sons Cardinals of the Holy Roman Church, and Venerable Brothers Archbishops and Bishops of France.
Beloved Sons of Ours and Venerable Brothers, Greetings and Apostolic Benediction.
Among the many anxieties arising from Our concern for all the churches given to Us, though unworthy, by the hidden deliberation of divine Providence, far too many are the people about whom the Apostle foretold, "There will come a time when they will not endure sound doctrine; having itching ears, they will heap up to themselves teachers to suit their own likings. But the wicked and impostors will go from bad to worse, erring and leading into error."(l) We are thus overjoyed when We turn to that renowned nation of France, a nation of many famous men and worthy of merit from Us. In that nation We are consoled to see how with God's help the Catholic religion and its salutary doctrines flourish, flower, and prevail more every day. We are consoled by the care and zeal with which you fulfill your ministry and care for the safety and salvation of your beloved flock. And Our consolation increases as We learn more and more from the letters you write to Us: more, that is, about the filial piety, love, and reverence with which you glory to follow Us and this Chair of Peter. This chair is the center of Catholic truth and unity, that is, the head, mother, and teacher of all the Churches(2) to which all honor and obedience must be offered.(3) Every church must agree with it because of its greater pre-eminence - that is, those people who are in all respects faithful.(4)
2. We are also joyful because We know that you, aware of the seriousness of your episcopal duties, labor to increase the glory of God and to defend the cause of His Holy Church. You also use all your pastoral care and vigilance to see that the ecclesiastics of your dioceses set forth each day more worthy of the vocation to which they are called and that they give example of all the virtues to the Christian people, performing the offices of their ministry diligently. We rejoice in your concern that the faithful entrusted to you are daily nourished with the words of faith, confirmed by the gifts of grace, grow in the knowledge of God, and walk the road that leads to life. Finally, we rejoice in your concern for those who stray from the truth, that they may return to the paths of salvation. Hence We joyfully recognize how eagerly you strive to obey Our desires and admonitions to celebrate provincial synods. This means that in your dioceses the inheritance of faith is maintained whole and inviolate; pure doctrine is taught; the honor of divine worship increased; the training and discipline of the clergy strengthened; and good character, virtue, religion, and piety are aroused and everywhere confirmed with auspicious and happy progress. And We rejoice very much when We see that by your special zeal the liturgy of the Roman Church has been restored according to Our desires in many of your dioceses, where thus far particular circumstances least resisted. And We are so much the more pleased since We know that in many dioceses of France, because of the condition of the times, even those things were hardly observed which Our predecessor St. Pius V wisely and providently ordained in his Apostolic Letter of July 9, 1568 (Quod a nobis postulat).
3. We rejoice to recall all these things with praise for your distinguished order, beloved sons and venerable brothers; nevertheless We cannot hide the grave sadness and grief which afflicts Us now, when We learn what dissensions the ancient enemy strives to excite among you in order to weaken your concord of minds. Therefore, because of Our Apostolic duty and the great love which We cherish for you and those faithful people, We write this letter in which We address you with the intimate affection of Our heart. At the same time We admonish and beseech you that, daily bound by a covenant of love and mutually perceiving the same things with one mind, you strive in virtue to drive off and eliminate all dissensions which the ancient enemy labors to sow. Strive with all humility and mildness to preserve an all-embracing unity of spirit in the bond of peace. For you are wise enough to know how necessary that sacerdotal and faithful unity of mind, will, and judgment is, and how it contributes to the prosperity of the Church and the procurement of eternal salvation. This concord of minds and wills must be cultivated among you with all zeal, especially now, because by the admirable will of Napoleon, Emperor of the French, and because of the work of his government, the Catholic Church there enjoys all peace, tranquility, and good will. And this fortunate combination of affairs and times in that empire ought to be a greater stimulant for you to strive to do all things with one and the same purpose, so that the divine religion of Christ, His doctrine, and the probity of morals and piety may take the deepest roots in France. Then the finest, uncontaminated education of youth may prevail more from day to day. By these means, hostile at tacks may then be more easily restrained and overcome, attacks which arise from the efforts of those who were and are the constant enemies of the Church and Jesus Christ.
4. Thus We ask you again and again with the greatest zeal We can muster that, in matters concerning the safeguarding of the Church and its salutary teaching and liberty, and in fulfilling all the other episcopal duties of your ministry, your greatest aim should be unity among yourselves. We want you to confidently consult Us and this Apostolic See to remove controversy in all matters of whatever kind. First of all, since you know how much a good education, especially for the clergy, contributes to both sacred and public prosperity, do not neglect with concord of judgment to apply your thoughts and cares to this important matter. Never leave anything untried so that the clerics in your seminaries are formed early in all virtue, piety, and an ecclesiastical spirit; then they can grow in humility, without which we can never please God. At the same time, they should be diligently taught the humanities and the more austere disciplines, especially the sacred ones, free from the danger of any error. Thus they may acquire not only elegance in speaking and writing (this eloquence being both from the wisest works of the Holy Fathers and from the most renowned pagan authors expurgated of all flaws), but also an especially full and solid knowledge of the history of theological doctrines, ecclesiastical history, and the sacred canons, acquired from a source approved by this Apostolic See.
5. Then that illustrious clergy of France, which is resplendent with so much talent, piety, knowledge, ecclesiastical spirit, and singular service to this Apostolic See, will abound more each day with knowledgeable and zealous workers. These workers, distinguished in virtue and armed with salutary knowledge, may be able in time to help in cultivating the vineyard of the Lord and in refuting those who contradict them. They will be able not only to confirm the faithful of France in our holy religion, but also to propagate it by sacred missions among distant and pagan nations. To the great credit of their name, the clergy up to the present have done this, for the good of religion and the salvation of souls. Along with Us, you detest the great number of pestilential books, pamphlets, magazines, and posters which the virulent enemy of God and man incessantly spews forth to corrupt morals, attack the foundations of faith, and weaken the most sacred dogmas of our religion. Therefore, never cease to lead the flock entrusted to your care away from these poison pastures. Never cease to instruct, defend, and confirm them against the deluge of so many errors; use salutary and opportune admonitions and publications to do this.
6. And here We cannot help but remind you of the admonitions and counsels with which, four years ago, We strongly summoned all the bishops of the Catholic world to exhort men outstanding for talent and sound doctrine to publish appropriate writings with which they might enlighten the minds of people and dissipate the darkness of creeping errors. Strive to remove this deadly pestilence of books and magazines from the faithful given into your care. At the same time encourage with all benevolence and favor those men who, animated by a Catholic spirit and educated in literature and learning, will endeavor to write books and publish magazines. Do this so that the Catholic doctrine is defended and spread, that the venerable rights and documents of this Holy See remain sound, that opinions and doctrines opposed to the same See and its authority may be suppressed, and that the darkness of error is banished and the minds of men illumined with the sweet light of truth. And it will be for your episcopal solicitude and love to arouse such inspired Catholic writers, so that they continue with ever greater zeal and knowledge to defend the cause of Catholic truth. You must also admonish them like a prudent father if their writings should offend Catholic teaching.
7. Now you know well that the most deadly foes of the Catholic religion have always waged a fierce war, but without success, against this Chair; they are by no means ignorant of the fact that religion itself can never totter and fall while this Chair remains intact, the Chair which rests on the rock which the proud gates of hell cannot overthrow(5) and in which there is the whole and perfect solidity of the Christian religion.(6) Therefore, because of your special faith in the Church and special piety toward the same Chair of Peter, We exhort you to direct your constant efforts so that the faithful people of France may avoid the crafty deceptions and errors of these plotters and develop a more filial affection and obedience to this Apostolic See. Be vigilant in act and word, so that the faithful may grow in love for this Holy See, venerate it, and accept it with complete obedience; they should execute whatever the See itself teaches, determines, and decrees. Here, however, We are hardly able to restrain Ourselves from telling you of the grief We experienced when, among other things, a recently published book reached Us; it was written in French with the title Sur la situation presente de l'Eglise Gallicane relativement au droit coutumier. Its author is totally opposed to all We so fervently commend, and so We have sent the book to Our Congregation of the Index to be disapproved and condemned.
8. But before We conclude, We remind you again of what We most desire: that is, that you reject all questioning and controversy which, as you know, disturb the peace and injure love and which afford arms to the enemies of the Church, arms with which to oppose and destroy her. Therefore let it be nearest to your heart to have peace among yourselves and to pursue peace with all, seriously reflecting that you are legates for Him who is not a God of dissension but of peace. He never ceased to prescribe peace to His disciples; indeed Christ, as each one of you knows, "promised all of his gifts and rewards in the preservation of peace. If we are the heirs of Christ, let us remain in the peace of Christ. If we are the sons of God, we must be peacemakers.... It is necessary that the sons of God be peaceful, meek of heart, simple in speech, united in affection, and joined faithfully among themselves with the ties of concord."(7) We certainly have confidence in your virtue, religion, and piety; We do not doubt that by obeying most willingly Our paternal admonitions and desires, you will root out the seeds of all dissensions. By supporting each other patiently in love and collaborating in the Evangelical faith, you will continue with ever more active zeal to keep watch by night over the flocks entrusted to your care and execute assiduously every part of your duties, even to the consummation of the saints in the building up of the body of Christ. Be convinced of this, however, that nothing will be more pleasing to Us, nothing more desirable, than that you do all those things which We know contribute to your greater profit and that of your faithful. Meanwhile in the humility of Our heart We pray and beseech God always to pour out the abundance of His heavenly grace upon you. We ask His blessing upon your pastoral concerns and labors by which the faithful entrusted to your care may continue to progress toward their heavenly goal, pleasing God in all things and bearing fruit in every good work. As an auspice of this divine help and as a proof of the burning love with which We embrace you, We eagerly bestow the Apostolic Blessing on you, beloved sons of Ours and venerable brothers, on all the clerics of those churches, and on the faithful laity.
Given at Rome at St. Peter's, March 21, 1853, in the seventh year of Our Pontificate.
1. 2 Tm 4.3,4; 3.13.
2. St. Cyprian, epistle 45; St. Augustine, epistle 162; and others.
3. Acts of the Ephesian Council, 4.
4. St. Irenaeus, adversus haereses, chap. 3.
5. St. Augustine, in Psal contr. part. Donat.
6. Synodical letter of John of Contantinople, ad Hormisd. Pont.
7. St. Cyprian, de int. Eccles.
Encyclical of Pope Pius IX promulgated on November 9, 1846
To All Patriarchs, Primates, Archbishops, and Bishops. Venerable Brothers, We Greet You and Give You Our Apostolic Blessing.
For many years past We strove with you, venerable brothers, to devote Our best powers to Our episcopal office - an office full of labor and worry. We strove to feed those committed to Our care on the mountains of Israel, at its streams and in its richest pastures. Our illustrious Predecessor, Gregory XVI, whose famous actions are recorded in the annals of the Church in letters of gold, will surely be remembered and admired by future generations. Now though, upon his death, by the mysterious plan of divine providence, We have been raised to the supreme Pontificate. We did not purpose this nor expect it; indeed Our reaction is great disquietude and anxiety. For if the burden of the Apostolic ministry is rightly considered to be at all times exceedingly heavy and beset with dangers, it is to be dreaded most particularly in these times which are so critical for the Christian commonwealth.
2. We are well aware of Our weakness. So when We reflect on the most serious duties of the supreme apostolate especially in a period of great instability, We would simply have fallen into great sadness, did We not place all Our hope in God who is Our Saviour. For He never abandons those who hope in Him. Time and again, so as to demonstrate what His power can accomplish, He employs weak instruments to rule His Church; in this way, all men may increasingly realize that it is God Himself who governs and protects the Church with his wonderful providence. We are also greatly supported by the comforting consideration that We have you, venerable brothers, as Our helpers and companions in the work of saving souls. For since you have been called to share a portion of Our care, you strive to fulfill your ministry with attentiveness and zeal, and to fight the good fight.
3. For this reason, as soon as We were placed, despite Our unworthiness, on this high See of the prince of the apostles as the representative of the blessed Peter, and received from the eternal Prince of Pastors Himself the most serious divinely given office of feeding and ruling not only the lambs, that is, the whole Christian people, but also the sheep, that is, the bishops, We surely had no greater wish than to address you all with a deep feeling of love. Therefore, since We have now assumed the supreme pontificate in Our Lateran Basilica, We are sending this letter to you without delay, in accordance with the established practice of Our predecessors. Its purpose is to urge that you keep the night-watches over the flock entrusted to your care with the greatest possible eagerness, wakefulness and effort, and that you raise a protecting wall before the House of Israel; do these as you battle with episcopal strength and steadfastness like good soldiers of Christ Jesus against the hateful enemy of the human race.
4. Each of you has noticed, venerable brothers, that a very bitter and fearsome war against the whole Catholic commonwealth is being stirred up by men bound together in a lawless alliance. These men do not preserve sound doctrine, but turn their hearing from the truth. They eagerly attempt to produce from their darkness all sorts of prodigious beliefs, and then to magnify them with all their strength, and to publish them and spread them among ordinary people. We shudder indeed and suffer bitter pain when We reflect on all their outlandish errors and their many harmful methods, plots and contrivances. These men use these means to spread their hatred for truth and light. They are experienced and skillful in deceit, which they use to set in motion their plans to quench peoples' zeal for piety, justice and virtue, to corrupt morals, to cast all divine and human laws into confusion, and to weaken and even possibly overthrow the Catholic religion and civil society. For you know, venerable brothers, that these bitter enemies of the Christian name, are carried wretchedly along by some blind momentum of their mad impiety; they go so far in their rash imagining as to teach without blushing, openly and publicly, daring and unheard-of doctrines, thereby uttering blasphemies against God.(1) They teach that the most holy mysteries of our religion are fictions of human invention, and that the teaching of the Catholic Church is opposed to the good and the prerogatives of human society. They are not even afraid to deny Christ Himself and God.
5. In order to easily mislead the people into making errors, deceiving particularly the imprudent and the inexperienced, they pretend that they alone know the ways to prosperity. They claim for themselves without hesitation the name of "philosophers." They feel as if philosophy, which is wholly concerned with the search for truth in nature, ought to reject those truths which God Himself, the supreme and merciful creator of nature, has deigned to make plain to men as a special gift. With these truths, mankind can gain true happiness and salvation. So, by means of an obviously ridiculous and extremely specious kind of argumentation, these enemies never stop invoking the power and excellence of human reason; they raise it up against the most holy faith of Christ, and they blather with great foolhardiness that this faith is opposed to human reason.
6. Without doubt, nothing more insane than such a doctrine, nothing more impious or more opposed to reason itself could be devised. For although faith is above reason, no real disagreement or opposition can ever be found between them; this is because both of them come from the same greatest source of unchanging and eternal truth, God. They give such reciprocal help to each other that true reason shows, maintains and protects the truth of the faith, while faith frees reason from all errors and wondrously enlightens, strengthens and perfects reason with the knowledge of divine matters.
7. It is with no less deceit, venerable brothers, that other enemies of divine revelation, with reckless and sacrilegious effrontery, want to import the doctrine of human progress into the Catholic religion. They extol it with the highest praise, as if religion itself were not of God but the work of men, or a philosophical discovery which can be perfected by human means. The charge which Tertullian justly made against the philosophers of his own time "who brought forward a Stoic and a Platonic and a Dialectical Christianity"(2) can very aptly apply to those men who rave so pitiably. Our holy religion was not invented by human reason, but was most mercifully revealed by God; therefore, one can quite easily understand that religion itself acquires all its power from the authority of God who made the revelation, and that it can never be arrived at or perfected by human reason. In order not to be deceived and go astray in a matter of such great importance, human reason should indeed carefully investigate the fact of divine revelation. Having done this, one would be definitely convinced that God has spoken and therefore would show Him rational obedience, as the Apostle very wisely teaches.(3) For who can possibly not know that all faith should be given to the words of God and that it is in the fullest agreement with reason itself to accept and strongly support doctrines which it has determined to have been revealed by God, who can neither deceive nor be deceived?
8. But how many wonderful and shining proofs are ready at hand to convince the human reason in the clearest way that the religion of Christ is divine and that "the whole principle of our doctrines has taken root from the Lord of the heavens above";(4) therefore nothing exists more definite, more settled or more holy than our faith, which rests on the strongest foundations. This faith, which teaches for life and points towards salvation, which casts out all vices and is the fruitful mother and nurse of the virtues, has been established by the birth, life, death, resurrection, wisdom, wonders and prophecies of Christ Jesus, its divine author and perfector! Shining forth in all directions with the light of teaching from on high and enriched with the treasures of heavenly wealth, this faith grew famed and notable by the foretellings of so many prophets, the lustre of so many miracles, the steadfastness of so many martyrs, and the glory of so many saints! It made known the saving laws of Christ and, gaining in strength daily even when it was most cruelly persecuted, it made its way over the whole world by land and sea, from the sun's rising to its setting, under the single standard of the Cross! The deceit of idols was cast down and the mist of errors was scattered. By the defeat of all kinds of enemies, this faith enlightened with divine knowledge all peoples, races and nations, no matter how barbarous and savage, or how different in character, morals, laws and ways of life. It brought them under the sweet yoke of Christ Himself by proclaiming peace and good tidings to all men!
9. Now, surely all these events shine with such divine wisdom and power that anyone who considers them will easily understand that the Christian faith is the work of God. Human reason knows clearly from these striking and certain proofs that God is the author of this faith; therefore it is unable to advance further but should offer all obedience to this faith, casting aside completely every problem and hesitation. Human reason is convinced that it is God who has given everything the faith proposes to men for belief and behavior.
10. This consideration too clarifies the great error of those others as well who boldly venture to explain and interpret the words of God by their own judgment, misusing their reason and holding the opinion that these words are like a human work. God Himself has set up a living authority to establish and teach the true and legitimate meaning of His heavenly revelation. This authority judges infallibly all disputes which concern matters of faith and morals, lest the faithful be swirled around by every wind of doctrine which springs from the evilness of men in encompassing error. And this living infallible authority is active only in that Church which was built by Christ the Lord upon Peter, the head of the entire Church, leader and shepherd, whose faith He promised would never fail. This Church has had an unbroken line of succession from Peter himself; these legitimate pontiffs are the heirs and defenders of the same teaching, rank, office and power. And the Church is where Peter is,(5) and Peter speaks in the Roman Pontiff,(6) living at all times in his successors and making judgment,(7) providing the truth of the faith to those who seek it.(8) The divine words therefore mean what this Roman See of the most blessed Peter holds and has held.
11. For this mother and teacher(9) of all the churches has always preserved entire and unharmed the faith entrusted to it by Christ the Lord. Furthermore, it has taught it to the faithful, showing all men truth and the path of salvation. Since all priesthood originates in this church,(10) the entire substance of the Christian religion resides there also.(11) The leadership of the Apostolic See has always been active,(12) and therefore because of its preeminent authority, the whole Church must agree with it. The faithful who live in every place constitute the whole Church.(13) Whoever does not gather with this Church scatters.(14)
12. We, therefore, placed inscrutably by God upon this Chair of truth, eagerly call forth in the Lord your outstanding piety, venerable brothers. We urge you to strive carefully and zealously to continually warn and exhort the faithful entrusted to your care to hold to these first principles. Urge them never to allow themselves to be deceived and led into error by men who have become abominable in their pursuits. These men attempt to destroy faith on the pretext of human progress, subjecting it in an impious manner to reason and changing the meaning of the words of God. Such men do not shrink from the greatest insults to God Himself, who cares for the good and the salvation of men by means of His heavenly religion.
13. You already know well, venerable brothers, the other portentous errors and deceits by which the sons of this world try most bitterly to attack the Catholic religion and the divine authority of the Church and its laws. They would even trample underfoot the rights both of the sacred and of the civil power. For this is the goal of the lawless activities against this Roman See in which Christ placed the impregnable foundation of His Church. This is the goal of those secret sects who have come forth from the darkness to destroy and desolate both the sacred and the civil commonwealth. These have been condemned with repeated anathema in the Apostolic letters of the Roman Pontiffs who preceded Us.(15) We now confirm these with the fullness of Our Apostolic power and command that they be most carefully observed.
14. This is the goal too of the crafty Bible Societies which renew the old skill of the heretics and ceaselessly force on people of all kinds, even the uneducated, gifts of the Bible. They issue these in large numbers and at great cost, in vernacular translations, which infringe the holy rules of the Church. The commentaries which are included often contain perverse explanations; so, having rejected divine tradition, the doctrine of the Fathers and the authority of the Catholic Church, they all interpret the words of the Lord by their own private judgment, thereby perverting their meaning. As a result, they fall into the greatest errors. Gregory XVI of happy memory, Our superior predecessor, followed the lead of his own predecessors in rejecting these societies in his apostolic letters.(16) It is Our will to condemn them likewise.
15. Also perverse is the shocking theory that it makes no difference to which religion one belongs, a theory which is greatly at variance even with reason. By means of this theory, those crafty men remove all distinction between virtue and vice, truth and error, honorable and vile action. They pretend that men can gain eternal salvation by the practice of any religion, as if there could ever be any sharing between justice and iniquity, any collaboration between light and darkness, or any agreement between Christ and Belial.
16. The sacred celibacy of clerics has also been the victim of conspiracy. Indeed, some churchmen have wretchedly forgotten their own rank and let themselves be converted by the charms and snares of pleasure. This is the aim too of the prevalent but wrong method of teaching, especially in the philosophical disciplines, a method which deceives and corrupts incautious youth in a wretched manner and gives it as drink the poison of the serpent in the goblet of Babylon. To this goal also tends the unspeakable doctrine of Communism, as it is called, a doctrine most opposed to the very natural law. For if this doctrine were accepted, the complete destruction of everyone's laws, government, property, and even of human society itself would follow.
17. To this end also tend the most dark designs of men in the clothing of sheep, while inwardly ravening wolves. They humbly recommend themselves by means of a feigned and deceitful appearance of a purer piety, a stricter virtue and discipline; after taking their captives gently, they mildly bind them, and then kill them in secret. They make men fly in terror from all practice of religion, and they cut down and dismember the sheep of the Lord. To this end, finally - to omit other dangers which are too well known to you - tends the widespread disgusting infection from books and pamphlets which teach the lessons of sinning. These works, well-written and filled with deceit and cunning, are scattered at immense cost through every region for the destruction of the Christian people. They spread pestilential doctrines everywhere and deprave the minds especially of the imprudent, occasioning great losses for religion.
18. As a result of this filthy medley of errors which creeps in from every side, and as the result of the unbridled license to think, speak and write, We see the following: morals deteriorated, Christ's most holy religion despised, the majesty of divine worship rejected, the power of this Apostolic See plundered, the authority of the Church attacked and reduced to base slavery, the rights of bishops trampled on, the sanctity of marriage infringed, the rule of every government violently shaken and many other losses for both the Christian and the civil commonwealth. Venerable brothers, We are compelled to weep and share in your lament that this is the case.
19. Therefore, in this great crisis for religion, because We are greatly concerned for the salvation of all the Lord's flock and in fulfillment of the duty of Our Apostolic ministry, We shall certainly leave no measure untried in Our vigorous effort to secure the good of the whole Christian family. Indeed, We especially call forth in the Lord your own illustrious piety, virtue and prudence, venerable brothers. With these and relying on heavenly aid, you may fearlessly defend the cause of God and His holy Church as befits your station and the office for which you are marked. You must fight energetically, since you know very well what great wounds the undefiled Spouse of Christ Jesus has suffered, and how vigorous is the destructive attack of Her enemies. You must also care for and defend the Catholic faith with episcopal strength and see that the flock entrusted to you stands to the end firm and unmoved in the faith. For unless one preserves the faith entire and uninjured, he will without doubt perish forever.(17)
20. So, in accordance with your pastoral care, work assiduously to protect and preserve this faith. Never cease to instruct all men in it, to encourage the wavering, to convince dissenters, to strengthen the weak in faith by never tolerating and letting pass anything which could in the slightest degree defile the purity of this faith. With the same great strength of mind, foster in all men their unity with the Catholic Church, outside of which there is no salvation; also foster their obedience towards this See of Peter on which rests the entire structure of our most holy religion. See to it with similar firmness that the most holy laws of the Church are observed, for it is by these laws that virtue, religion and piety particularly thrive and flourish.
21. "It is an act of great piety to expose the concealments of the impious and to defeat there the devil himself, whose slaves they are.(18) Therefore We entreat you to use every means of revealing to your faithful people the many kinds of plot, pretense, error, deceit and contrivance which our enemies use. This will turn them carefully away from infectious books. Also exhort them unceasingly to flee from the sects and societies of the impious as from the presence of a serpent, earnestly avoiding everything which is at variance with the wholeness of faith, religion and morality. Therefore, never stop preaching the Gospel, so that the Christian people may grow in the knowledge of God by being daily better versed in the most holy precepts of the Christian law; as a result, they may turn from evil, do good, and walk in the ways of the Lord. You know that you are acting as deputies for Christ, who is meek and humble, and who came not to call the just but sinners. This is the example that we should follow. When you find someone disregarding the commandments and wandering from the path of truth and justice, rebuke them in the spirit of mildness and meekness with paternal warnings; accuse, entreat and reprove them with all kindness, patience and doctrine. "Often benevolence towards those who are to be corrected achieves more than severity, exhortation more than threats, and love more than power."(19)
22. Strive to instruct the faithful to follow after love and search for peace, diligently pursuing the works of love and peace so that they may love one another with reciprocal charity. They should abolish all disagreements, enmities, rivalries and animosities, thus achieving compatibility. Take pains to impress on the Christian people a due obedience and subjection to rulers and governments. Do this by teaching, in accordance with the warning of the Apostle,(20) that all authority comes from God. Whoever resists authority resists the ordering made by God Himself, consequently achieving his own condemnation; disobeying authority is always sinful except when an order is given which is opposed to the laws of God and the Church.
23. However, priests are the best examples of piety and God's worship,"(21) and people tend generally to be of the same quality as their priests. Therefore devote the greatest care and zeal to making the clergy resplendent for the earnestness of their morals, the integrity, holiness and wisdom of their lives. Let the ecclesiastical training be zealously preserved in compliance with the sacred canons, and whenever it has been neglected, let it be restored to its former splendor. Therefore, as you are well aware, you must take the utmost care, as the Apostle commands, not to impose hands on anyone in haste. Consecrate with holy orders and promote to the performance of the sacred mysteries only those who have been carefully examined and who are virtuous and wise. They can consequently benefit and ornament your dioceses.
24. These are men who avoid everything which is forbidden to clerics, devoting their time instead to reading, exhorting and teaching, "an example to the faithful in word, manner of life, in charity, in faith, in chastity."(22) They win the highest respect from all men, and fashion, summon forth and inspire the people with the Christian way of life. "For it would certainly be better," as Benedict XIV, Our Predecessor of undying memory very wisely advises, "to have fewer ministers if they be upright, suitable and useful, than many who are likely to accomplish nothing at all for the building up of the body of Christ, which is the Church."(23) You must examine with greater diligence the morals and the knowledge of men who are entrusted with the care and guidance of souls, that they may be eager to continuously feed and assist the people entrusted to them by the administration of the sacraments, the preaching of God's word and the example of good works. They should be zealous in molding them to the whole plan and pattern of a religious way of life, and in leading them on to the path of salvation.
25. When ministers are ignorant or neglectful of their duty, then the morals of the people also immediately decline, Christian discipline grows slack, the practice of religion is dislodged and cast aside, and every vice and corruption is easily introduced into the Church. The word of God, which was uttered for the salvation of souls, is living, efficacious and more piercing than a two-edged sword.(24) So that it may not prove to be unfruitful through the fault of its ministers, never cease, venerable brothers, from encouraging the preachers of this divine word to carry out most religiously the ministry of the Gospel. This should not be carried out by the persuasive words of human wisdom, nor by the profane seductive guise of empty and ambitious eloquence, but rather as a demonstration of the spirit and power.
26. Consequently, by presenting the word of truth properly and by preaching not themselves but Christ crucified, they should clearly proclaim in their preaching the tenets and precepts of our most holy religion in accordance with the teaching of the Catholic Church and the Fathers. They should explain precisely the particular duties of individuals, frighten them from vice, and inspire them with a love of piety. In this way the faithful will avoid all vices and pursue virtues, and so, will be able to escape eternal punishment and gain heavenly glory.
27. In your pastoral care, continuously urge all ecclesiastics to think seriously of their holy ministry. Urge them to carefully fulfill their duties, to greatly love the beauty of God's house, to urgently pray and entreat with deep piety, and to say the canonical hours of the breviary as the Church commands. By these means they will be able both to pray efficaciously for God's help in fulfilling the heavy demands of their duty, and to graciously reconcile God and the Christian people.
28. You know that suitable ministers can only come from clergy who are very well trained, and that the proper training greatly influences the whole future life of clerics. Therefore, continually strive to ensure that young clerics are properly molded even from their earliest years. They should be molded not only in piety and real virtue, but also in literature and the stricter disciplines, especially the sacred ones. So your greatest desire should be, in obedience to the prescript of the fathers at Trent,(25) to set up skillfully and energetically, seminaries if they do not yet exist. If necessary expand those already established, supplying them with the best directors and teachers. Watch continuously and zealously that the young clerics in them are educated in a holy and religious manner, in the fear of the Lord and in ecclesiastical discipline. See that they are carefully and thoroughly improved, especially by the sacred sciences, according to Catholic doctrine, far from all danger of any error. They should also be improved by the traditions of the Church and the writings of the holy Fathers, as well as by sacred ceremonies and rites. Thus you will have energetic, industrious workers endowed with an ecclesiastical spirit, properly prepared by their studies, who in time will be able to tend the Lord's field carefully and fight strenuously in the Lord's battles.
29. Furthermore, you realize that spiritual exercises contribute greatly to the preservation of the dignity and holiness of ecclesiastical orders. Therefore do not neglect to promote this work of salvation and to advise and exhort all clergy to often retreat to a suitable place for making these exercises. Laying aside external cares and being free to meditate zealously on eternal divine matters, they will be able to wipe away stains caused by the dust of the world and renew their ecclesiastical spirit. And stripping off the old man and his deeds, they will put on the new man who was created in justice and holiness.
30. Do not regret that We have spoken at length on the education and training of the clergy. For you are very well aware many men are weary of the difference, instability and changing nature of their errors, and therefore want to profess our most holy religion. These men, with God's good help, will more easily embrace and practice the teaching, precepts and way of life of this religion if they see that the clergy surpass all others in their piety, integrity and wisdom, and in the noble example they give of all the virtues.
31. We recognize your many worthy attributes: your burning charity towards God and men, your exalted love of the Church, your almost angelic virtues, your episcopal bravery, and your prudence. Being inspired to do His holy will, you are all followers in the footsteps of the Apostles. As bishops, you are the deputies, and thus the imitators of Christ. In your harmonious pursuits you have become a sincere model for your flock, and you enlighten your clergy and faithful people with the splendor of your sanctity. In your compassionate mercy you seek out and overtake with your love the straying and perishing sheep, as the shepherd in the Gospel did. You place them paternally on your shoulders ant lead them back to the fold. At no time do you spare either cares or plans or toils in religiously fulfilling your pastoral duties and defending all Our beloved sheep who, redeemed by Christ, have been entrusted to your care from the rage, assault and snares of ravening wolves. You keep them away from poisonous pasture land and drive them on to safe ground, and in all possible ways you lead them by deed, word and example to the harbor of eternal salvation.
32. Therefore, to assure the greater glory of God and the Church, venerable brothers, join together with all eagerness, care and wakefulness to repulse error and to root out vice. When this is accomplished, faith, religion, piety and virtue will increase daily. Then all the faithful, as sons of light, casting aside the works of darkness, may walk worthily, pleasing God in all things and being fruitful in every good work. And in the very great straits, difficulties and dangers which must beset your serious ministry as bishops, especially in these times, do not ever be terrified; rather, be comforted by the strength of the Lord "who looks down on us who carry out his work, approves those who are willing, aids those who do battle, and crowns those who conquer."(26)
33. Nothing is more pleasing to Us than to assist you, whom We love, with affection, advice, and exertion. We devote Ourselves wholeheartedly together with you to protect and spread the glory of God and the Catholic faith; We also endeavor to save souls for whom We are ready to sacrifice life itself, should it be necessary. Come to Us as often as you feel the need of the aid, help and protection of Our authority and that of this See.
34. We hope that Our political leaders will keep in mind, in accordance with their piety and religion, that "the kingly power has been conferred on them not only for ruling the world but especially for the protection of the Church."(27) Sometimes We "act both for the sake of their rule and safety that they may possess their provinces by peaceful right."(28) We hope that with their aid and authority they will support the objects, plans and pursuits which we have in common, and that they will also defend the liberty and safety of the Church, so that "the right hand of Christ may also defend their rule."(29)
35. We hope that all these matters may turn out well and happily. Let us together entreat God in urgent and unceasing prayers, to make up for Our weakness by an abundance of every heavenly grace, to overwhelm with His all-powerful strength those who attack us, and to increase everywhere faith, piety, devotion and peace. Then when all enemies and errors have been overcome, His holy Church may enjoy the tranquillity it so greatly desires. Then too there may be one fold and one shepherd.
36. That the Lord may more readily respond to Us, let us call as intercessor Her who is always with Him, the most holy Virgin Mary, Immaculate Mother of God. She is the most sweet mother of us all; she is our mediatrix, advocate, firmest hope, and greatest source of confidence. Furthermore, her patronage with God is strongest and most efficacious. Let us invoke too the prince of the Apostles to whom Christ Himself gave the keys of the kingdom of heaven, and whom He made the rock of His Church, against which the gates of hell will never prevail; let us also invoke his fellow-apostle Paul, and all the heavenly saints who are already crowned and hold the palm of victory. We ask that they implore for all Christians the abundance of divine favor which they desire.
37. Finally, as an augury of all the heavenly gifts and as witness of Our great charity towards you, receive the Apostolic Blessing which from deep in Our heart We most lovingly impart to yourselves, venerable brothers, and to all clerics and the faithful laity who are entrusted to your care.
Given in Rome at St. Mary Major's on the 9th of November 1846 in the first year of Our Pontificate.
1. Ap 13.6.
2. Tertullian, de Praescript., chap. 8.
3. Rom 13.1
4. St. John Chrysostom, hom. 1 in Isaiah.
5. St. Ambrose on Ps 40.
6. Council of Chalcedon, Act. 2.
7. Synod of Ephes., Act. 3.
8. St. Peter Chrysologus, epistle to Eutyches.
9. Council of Trent, session 7 on baptism.
10. St. Cyprian, epistle 55 to Pope Cornelius.
11. Synod. Letter of John of Constantinople to Pope Hormisdas and Sozomen, Hist., III. 8.
12. St. Augustine, epistle 162.
13. St. Irenaeus, Adv. Haer. III, 3.
14. St. Jerome, epistle to Pope Damasus.
15. Clement XII, constitution Providas; Pius VII, constitution Ecclesiam a Jesu Christo; Leo XII, constitution Ubi graviora.
16. Gregory XVI, encyclical letter Inter praecipuas machinationes.
17. Ex Symbolo Quicumque.
18. St. Leo. sermon 8.4.
19. Council of Trent, session 13, chap. on reform.
20. Rom 12.1-2.
21. Council of Trent, session 22. chap. 1 on reform.
22. Tm 4.12.
23. Benedict XIV, encyclical letter Ubi primum.
24. Heb 4.12.
25. Council of Trent, session 23, chap. 18, on reform.
26. St. Cyprian, epistle 77 to Nemesianus and other martyrs.
27. St. Leo, epistle 156 (123) to Emperor Leo.
28. St. Leo, epistle 43 (34) to Emperor Theodosius.