Sacred Congregation of the Holy Office: July 3, 1907
Pronouncements plausibly pertaining to faith and
morals that I accept/agree with.
Pronouncements implausibly pertaining to faith and
morals [i.e. Church policy etc] that I accept/agree with.
Pronouncements that I reject/doubt/disagree with,
some pertaining to faith and morals and some policy.
My comments and elucidations.
Green and Blue indicates where I agree with the Holy Office, Orange where
Often the cause of difference is (from my perspective) a certain lack of
sophistication on the part of the Holy Office.
WITH TRULY LAMENTABLE RESULTS, our age, casting aside all restraint
in its search for the ultimate causes of things, frequently pursues novelties
so ardently that it rejects the legacy of the human race. Thus it falls
into very serious errors, which are even more serious when they concern
sacred authority, the interpretation of Sacred Scripture, and the principal
mysteries of Faith. The fact that many Catholic writers also go beyond
the limits determined by the Fathers and the Church herself is extremely
regrettable. In the name of higher knowledge and historical research, (they
say), they are looking for that progress of dogmas which is, in reality,
nothing but the corruption of dogmas.
These errors are being daily spread among the faithful. Lest they captivate
the faithful's minds and corrupt the purity of their faith, His Holiness,
Pius X, by Divine Providence, Pope, has decided that the chief errors should
be noted and condemned by the Office of this Holy Roman and Universal Congregation.
Therefore, after a very diligent investigation and consultation with
the Reverend Consultors, the Most Eminent and Reverend Lord Cardinals,
the General Inquisitors in matters of faith and morals have judged the
following proposals to be condemned and proscribed. In fact, by this current
decree, they are condemned and proscribed.
The ecclesiastical law which prescribes that books
concerning the Divine Scriptures are subject to previous examination does
not apply to critical scholars and students of scientific exegesis of the
Old and New Testament.
The Church's interpretation of the Sacred Books is
by no means to be rejected; nevertheless, it is subject to the more accurate
judgement and correction of the exegetes.
[This is the legitimate role of Prophets
and Teachers. Equally, their judgements are subject to the decisions
of the hierarchy.]
From the ecclesiastical judgements and censures passed
against free and more scientific exegesis, one can conclude that
the Faith the Church proposes contradicts history and that Catholic teaching
cannot really be reconciled with the true origins of the Christian religion.
Even by dogmatic definitions the Church's magisterium
cannot determine the genuine sense of the Sacred Scriptures.
Since the Deposit of Faith contains only revealed
truths, the Church has no right to pass judgement on the assertions
of the human sciences. [Still, this should
be done with caution, as was done regarding Darwinian Evolution, in contrast
to Copernican Cosmology.]
The "Church learning" and the "Church teaching" collaborate
in such a way in defining truths that it only remains for the "Church
teaching" to sanction the opinions of the "Church learning."
In proscribing errors, the Church cannot demand any
internal assent from the faithful by which the judgements she issues are
to be embraced. [Still, She can not justly
demand a greater assent than is reasonable.]
They are free from all blame who treat
lightly the condemnations passed by the Sacred Congregation of the
Index or by the Roman Congregations.
They display excessive simplicity or ignorance who
believe that God is really the author of the Sacred Scriptures.
The inspiration of the books of the Old Testament
in this: The Israelite writers handed down religious doctrines under a
peculiar aspect which was either little or not at all known to the Gentiles.
Divine inspiration does not extend to all of Sacred
Scriptures so that it renders its parts, each
and every one, free from every
[Pi = 3 according to the Torah]
If he wishes to apply himself usefully to Biblical
studies, the exegete must first put aside all preconceived opinions about
the supernatural origins of Sacred Scripture and interpret it the same
way as any other merely human document. [Nevertheless,
this is often a fruitful starting place.]
The Evangelists themselves, as well as the Christians
of the second and third generations, artificially arranged the evangelical
parables. In such a way they explained the scanty fruit of the preaching
of Christ among the Jews.
In many narrations the Evangelists recorded, not
so much things that are true, as things which, even though false,
they judged to be more profitable for their readers.
Until the time the canon was defined and constituted,
the Gospels were increased by additions and corrections. Therefore there
remained in them only a faint and uncertain trace of the doctrine of
The narrations of John are not properly history,
but a mystical contemplation of the Gospel. The discourses contained in
his Gospel are theological meditations, lacking historical truth
concerning the mystery of salvation.
The fourth Gospel exaggerated miracles not only in
order that the extraordinary might stand out but also in order that it
might become more suitable for showing forth the work and glory of the
John claims for himself the quality of witness concerning
Christ. In reality, however, he is only a distinguished witness of the
Christian life, or the life of Christ in the Church at the close of the
Heterodox exegetes have [generally]
expressed the true sense of the Scriptures
more faithfully than Catholic exegetes.
Revelation could be nothing else than the consciousness
man acquired of his revelation to God.
Revelation, constituting the object of the Catholic
faith, was not completed with the Apostles.
The dogmas the Church holds out as revealed are not
which have fallen from heaven. They are
an interpretation of religious facts which the human mind has acquired
by laborious effort.
Opposition may, and actually does, exist between
the facts narrated in Sacred Scripture and the Church's dogmas which rest
on them. Thus the critic may reject as false facts the Church holds
as most certain.
The exegete who constructs premises from which it
follows that dogmas are historically false or doubtful is not to be reproved
as long as he does not directly deny the dogmas themselves.
The assent of faith ultimately rests on a mass of
probabilities. [What does it rest on? What
does the word "rest" signify?]
The dogmas of the Faith are to be held only according
to their practical sense; that is to say, as perceptive norms of conduct
and not as norms of believing.
The divinity of Jesus Christ is not proved from the
Gospels. It is a dogma which the Christian
conscience has derived from the notion of the Messiah. [Neither
alternative is true. Jesus knew and spoke of Himself as Divine. In particular,
He took it upon Himself to forgave sins. Proof is too strong a word. Equally,
I don't think that the notion of Messiah
itself gave rise to the notion that Jesus was God. Clearly, according to
John, at the Last Supper the Apostles still hadn't understood that Jesus
was Divine. Holy Spirit subsequently opened their minds to this fact.]
While He was exercising His ministry, Jesus did not
speak with the object of teaching He was the Messiah, nor did His miracles
tend to prove it.
It is permissible to grant that the Christ of history
is far inferior to the Christ Who is the object of faith.
In all the evangelical texts the name "Son of God"
is [at most]
equivalent only to that of "Messiah." It does not in the least way signify
that Christ is the true and natural Son of God. [There
may be one or two exceptions.]
The doctrine[s] concerning
Christ taught by Paul, John and the Councils of Nicea, Ephesus and Chalcedon
is not that which Jesus taught but that which the Christian conscience
conceived concerning Jesus. [However,
it is the doctrine that Holy Spirit led the Church to believe, and is implicit
in the teaching of Jesus.]
It is impossible to reconcile the natural sense of
the Gospel texts with the sense taught by our theologians concerning the
conscience and the infallible knowledge of Jesus Christ.
Everyone who is not led by preconceived opinions
can readily see that either Jesus professed an error concerning the
immediate Messianic coming or the greater part of His doctrine as contained
in the Gospels is destitute of authenticity. [This
seems to be garbled. I presume a reference is made to the Second
The critics can ascribe to Christ a knowledge without
limits only on a hypothesis which cannot be historically conceived and
which is repugnant to the moral sense. That hypothesis is that Christ as
man possessed the knowledge of God and yet was unwilling to communicate
the knowledge of a great many things to His disciples and posterity. [Why
is this repugnant? God knows an infinity of facts, which of these
is He obliged to tell to "all and sundry"? Which of these would it be helpful
to reveal? Jesus was not in the business of future for casting, but of
preaching the Gospel!]
Christ did not always possess the consciousness of
His Messianic dignity. [Obviously so. For
example, when he was a foetus and had no human consciousness whatever!]
The Resurrection of the Saviour is not properly a
fact of the historical order. It is a fact of merely the supernatural order
(neither demonstrated nor demonstrable) which the Christian conscience
gradually derived from other facts.
In the beginning, faith in the Resurrection of Christ
was not so much in the fact itself of the Resurrection, as in the immortal
life of Christ with God.
The doctrine of the expiatory
death of Christ is Pauline and not evangelical.
The opinions concerning the origin of the Sacraments
which the Fathers of Trent held and which certainly influenced their dogmatic
canons are very different from those which now rightly exist among historians
who examine Christianity.
The Sacraments had their origin in the fact
that the Apostles and their successors, swayed and moved by circumstances
and events, interpreted some idea and intention of Christ.
The Sacraments are intended merely to recall
to man's mind the ever beneficent presence of the Creator.
The Christian community imposed the necessity of
Baptism, adopted it as a necessary rite, and added to it the obligation
of the Christian profession.
The practice of administering Baptism to infants
was a disciplinary evolution, [How
not?] which became one of the causes why the
Sacrament was divided into two, namely, Baptism and Penance.
There is nothing to prove that the rite of
the Sacrament of Confirmation was employed by the Apostles. The
formal distinction of the two Sacraments of Baptism and Confirmation does
not pertain to the history of primitive Christianity. [Manifestly,
witness the Eastern tradition.]
Not everything [?]
which Paul narrates concerning the institution of the Eucharist (1 Corinthians
11:23-35) is to be taken historically.
In the primitive Church the concept of the Christian
sinner reconciled by the authority of the Church did not exist. Only very
did the Church accustom herself to this concept. As a matter of fact, even
after Penance was recognized as an institution of the Church, it was not
called a Sacrament since it would be held as a disgraceful Sacrament.
The words of the Lord, "Receive the Holy Spirit;
whose sins you shall forgive, they are forgiven them; and whose sins you
shall retain, they are retained" (John 20:22-23), in no way refer to the
Sacrament of Penance, in spite of what it pleased the Fathers of Trent
In his Epistle (Chapter 5:14-15) James did not intent
to promulgate a Sacrament of Christ but only commend a pious custom.
If in this custom he happens to distinguish a means of grace, it is not
in that rigorous manner in which it was taken by the theologians who laid
down the notion and number of the sacraments.
When the Christian supper gradually assumed
the nature of a liturgical action those who customarily presided over the
supper acquired the sacerdotal character.
The elders who fulfilled the office of watching over
the gatherings of the faithful were instituted by the Apostles as priests
or bishops to provide the necessary ordering of the increasing communities
and not properly for the perpetuation of the Apostolic mission and power.
It is impossible that Matrimony
could have become a Sacrament of the new law until later in the
Church since it was necessary that a full theological explication of the
doctrine of grace and the Sacraments should first take place before Matrimony
should be held as a Sacrament.
it was only recognized
explicitly as a sacrament in early medieval times, but jointly in East
It was far from the mind of Christ to found a Church
as a society which would continue on earth for a long course of centuries.
On the contrary, in the mind of Christ the kingdom of heaven together with
the end of the world was about to come immediately. [The
Church should be the Kingdom of God. The timing of the "end of history"
is hidden. Even Jesus' human mind was ignorant. It is obvious that
Jesus' human "guess", was that it was to be sooner rather than later.]
The organic constitution of the Church is not immutable.
Like human society, Christian society is subject to a perpetual evolution.
is manifest in the continual extension of Papal and Curial power!]
Dogmas, Sacraments and hierarchy, both their notion
and reality, are only interpretations and evolutions of the Christian
intelligence which have increased and perfected by an external series of
additions the little germ latent in the Gospel.
Simon Peter never even suspected that Christ
entrusted the primacy in the Church to him.
The Roman Church became the head of all the churches,
not through the ordinance of Divine Providence, but merely through
political conditions. [Nevertheless the means
and style of the exercise of this authority has
The Church has shown that she is hostile to the progress
of the natural and theological sciences. [Nevertheless,
She has sometimes been a reactionary force, for example in espousing, championing
and enforcing Aristotelianism.]
Truth is no more immutable than man himself, since
it evolved with him, in him, and through him.
Christ did not teach a determined body of doctrine
applicable to all times and all men, but rather inaugurated a religious
movement adapted or to be adapted to different times and places.
Christian Doctrine was originally Judaic.
Through successive evolutions it became first Pauline,
then Joannine, finally Hellenic
and universal. [But in all stages, it
maintained organic self-identity.]
It may be said without paradox that there is no chapter
of Scripture, from the first of Genesis to the last of the Apocalypse,
which contains a doctrine absolutely identical with that which the Church
teaches on the same matter. For the same reason, therefore, no chapter
of Scripture has the same sense for the critic and the theologian. [Of
course, the identity is generally implicit and involves development.]
The chief articles of the Apostles' Creed did not
the same sense for the Christians of the first age as they have for the
Christians of our time. [The
Tradition maintains organic continuity, doctrine developing rather than
The Church shows that she is incapable of effectively
maintaining evangelical ethics since she obstinately clings to immutable
doctrines which cannot be reconciled with modern progress.
[The Church regularly fails in this field,
but not as this proposition most readily suggests. The problem is more
with Aristotelianism rather than with "doctrine".]
Scientific progress demands that the concepts
of Christian doctrine concerning God, creation, revelation, the Person
of the Incarnate Word, and Redemption be re-adjusted.
[Obviously! The question is how!]
Modern Catholicism can be reconciled with true science
only if it is transformed into a non-dogmatic Christianity; that is to
say, into a broad and liberal Protestantism. [Utter
The following Thursday, the fourth day of the same month and year, all
these matters were accurately reported to our Most Holy Lord, Pope Pius
X. His Holiness approved and confirmed the decree of the Most Eminent Fathers
and ordered that each and every one of the above listed propositions be
held by all as condemned and proscribed.
Peter Palombelli Notary, Congregation for the Propagation of the Faith