Category Archives: Encyclicals

Pope Pius IX on the Pontifical States

Image result for pope pius ix


To all the Patriarchs, Primates, Archbishops, Bishops, and other Local Ordinaries, who are in Loving Communion with the Apostolic See.

Venerable Brothers, We give you Our Greetings and Apostolic Blessing.

When We were defeated by Our enemies in accordance with the mysterious design of God, We observed the severely bitter fortunes of Our City and the downfall of the civil rule of the Apostolic See in the face of military invasion. Then We sent you Our letter of the 1st of November 1869 to tell you, and the whole Catholic world through you, the state of Our affairs and those of this City. We also told you of Our subjection to the excesses of impious and unbridled license. We testified before God and man that We desired the rights of the Apostolic See to be safe and unprejudiced, as the nature of Our supreme office demanded. We summoned you and all Our beloved children, the faithful entrusted to your care, to appease the divine majesty with fervent prayers. Since that time the ills and disasters of this City and Ourselves, foreshadowed by those first unhappy experiences, have really exceeded all bounds in assailing Our Apostolic rank and authority, the sanctity of religion and morals, and Our dearest subjects. What is more, venerable brothers, since conditions worsen daily, We are compelled to repeat the words of St. Bernard: “this is the beginning of the evils; we fear worse evil.”[1] For wickedness advances on its path and promotes its designs. No longer does it take pains to conceal its worst deeds since they cannot remain hidden, but it is eager to carry off the last spoils from the overthrow of justice, honor, and religion. Our days are filled with bitterness, particularly when We consider the dangers and deceits to which the virtue of Our faithful people is subjected every day. When We recall the exceptional merits of yourselves, venerable brothers, and of the faithful embraced by your care, We are greatly pleased. For in every region of the earth, Christ’s faithful have answered Our exhortations with wonderful enthusiasm, ever since the ill-starred day of the City’s capture. Following your lead and example, they have prayed continually and fervently. They approach the throne of divine clemency with perseverance in repeated public supplication, in undertaking holy pilgrimages, in unceasingly thronging to the churches, in partaking of the sacraments, and in the other main works of Christian virtue.

Benefits of Prayer

2. This burning zeal for prayer cannot fail to produce the most abundant fruit in God’s sight. Many benefits indeed have already come from this source, and these give promise of further benefits which We confidently await. For We see the faith and charity growing and spreading daily, and We observe that the distressing attacks on this See and on the supreme Shepherd have aroused such concern in the spirits of Christ’s faithful as only God could inspire. We perceive such great unity that never until now, since the first days of the Church, did the multitude of the faithful so clearly show that they are of one heart and one soul.[2] With this show of virtue before Us, We cannot be silent about Our dearest children, the citizens of this fair city, whose love and piety towards Us exceed all bounds. Their constancy too continues to be splendidly equal to the struggle, and their greatness of soul rivals that of their ancestors.

3. Consequently, We give unending glory and thanks to God for all of you and for Our beloved children, Christ’s faithful. He continues to effect great deeds in you and in His Church, and has ensured that although malice abounds, the grace of faith, charity, and confession abound too. “What then is our hope and joy and crown of glory? Isn’t it you in the presence of God? A wise son is the glory of his father. May God accordingly reward you and be mindful of the faithful service, pious compassion, consolation, and honor which you continue to give to the spouse of His Son in an evil time and in the days of her affliction.”[3]

The Northern Government

4. Meanwhile indeed, the Piedmont government is on the one hand bent on making the city the talk of the world.[4] On the other hand, to deceive the Catholics and calm their anguish, it has promoted certain empty immunities and privileges, commonly called “guarantees.” These “guarantees are compensation for stripping Us of Our civil rule; this they accomplished by a lengthy series of machinations and their unholy arms. We have already delivered Our judgment on these immunities and provisions, and stigmatized their absurdity, cunning and mockery in Our letter of last 2nd March to Constantine Patrizi, cardinal of the holy Roman Church, dean of the Sacred College, and Vicar of Our Authority in the City. This letter was immediately printed and published.

5. But it is characteristic of the Piedmont Government to unite continuous, base pretense with shameless contempt for Our papal rank and authority. It has also shown that it completely disregards Our protestations, complaints and censures. Accordingly it has not ceased in the least to press on with the serious discussion and examination of these “guarantees” before the highest bodies in the kingdom, despite Our expressed judgment on these provisions. In this discussion, both the truth of Our judgment on the nature of these provisions and the vain attempt of Our enemies to conceal their malice and deceit have been clearly seen. Assuredly, these many errors and blasphemies are plainly at variance with the Catholic faith and with the very foundations of natural law. It is unbelievable that they could have been produced here in Italy, whose chief glory has always been in the practice of the Catholic religion and in the Apostolic See. And in fact, Italians join with Us in lamenting and deploring this novel and unheard-of sacrilege. Indeed, they have shown Us by ever-increasing notable proofs and deeds of piety that they are allied in one spirit and understanding with the rest of the world’s faithful.

Warning Against Deceivers

6. Accordingly We address you again, venerable brothers. The faithful entrusted to you have clearly indicated both by letter and serious protestations how painful they find Our beleaguered state. They are far from being deceived by the measures which are disguised as “guarantees.” Nevertheless We must solemnly declare through you to the whole world that not only these so-called guarantees, but all other titles, honors, immunities, and privileges-that is whatever else can be named a “guarantee” — cannot protect the due and free exercise of Our God — given power and cannot preserve the necessary liberty of the Church.

Necessity of Civil Rule

7. Therefore We can submit to no agreement which would in any way destroy or diminish Our rights, which are the rights of God and of the Apostolic See. If We did, We would be violating Our sworn trust, which We have often declared and professed. Similarly, We never can and never shall allow or accept those “guarantees” devised by the Piedmont Government, whatever their motive. Nor shall We ever accept other similar ones. These are often offered under the guise of defending Our holy power and liberty in compensation for the civil rule they stripped Us of. But divine providence has willed this civil rule to be protection and strength for the Apostolic See; furthermore, legitimate and indisputable titles, as well as Our having possessed it for more than eleven centuries, confirm Our right to it. For if the Roman Pontiff were subject to the sway of another ruler, but no longer possessed civil power, neither his position nor the acts of the Apostolic ministry would be exempt from the authority of the other ruler. This ruler could be either a heretic or a persecutor of the Church or constantly at war with other rulers.

God-given Rights

8. Indeed, is not this concession of “guarantees” itself the clearest proof that laws are being imposed on Us? God has given Us the authority of making laws in regard to the religious and moral order. We have been established as interpreters of the natural and divine law for the entire world; these laws concern the government of the universal Church. Will their observance and execution be right only because they are commanded and established by the will of lay powers? We, as the representative of blessed Peter, have received directly from God Himself all the prerogatives and all rights of authority which are necessary for ruling the universal Church; those prerogatives and rights, as well as the liberty of the Church, were produced and acquired by the blood of Jesus Christ and must be valued in accordance with the infinite value of His divine blood. So We would not be valuing the divine blood of Our Redeemer if We borrowed Our rights for the rulers of the earth, especially in the curtailed and defiled condition in which they now want to present them.

Teaching of St. Anselm

9. For Christian rulers are sons, not lords, of the Church. St. Anselm, Archbishop of Canterbury, that great light of holiness and teaching, aptly used to say to rulers: “Do not think that the Church of God has been given to you to serve you as its master you are its advocate and defender. God loves nothing in this world more than the liberty of His holy Church.”[5] To inspire rulers, he wrote elsewhere: “Never consider that your high rank is diminished if you love and defend the liberty of the Spouse of God and your Mother the Church; do not think you are humbled if you raise Her up: do not believe you are weakened if you strengthen Her. Look round and see: examples are ready: contemplate the rulers who fought against Her and trampled on Her. What was their reward? To what end did they come? It is clear enough and need not be stated. Assuredly those who glorify Her will be glorified with Her and in Her.”[6]

10. Now from what We have just told you, as We have done on other occasions, it must be perfectly clear to all that injury suffered by this Holy See in these bitter times affects the entire Christian commonwealth. For, as St. Bernard used to say, an injury done to the Apostles, the glorious rulers of the earth, involves every Christian. And since the Roman Church works for all the churches, as St. Anselm says, whoever takes this church’s goods away is regarded as guilty of sacrilege, not towards this church alone, but towards all churches.[7] No one can doubt that the preservation of the rights of this Apostolic See is most closely bound up with the most important advantages and benefits of the universal Church and the freedom of your episcopal ministry.

Civil Rule Given by God

11. Reflecting on all these matters, We are compelled to confirm again and profess without change what We have often declared to you and what you have all agreed with. Divine Providence gave the civil rule of the Holy See to the Roman Pontiff. This rule is necessary in order that the Roman Pontiff may never be subject to any ruler or civil power, but may be able to freely exercise his supreme power and authority of feeding and ruling the entire flock of the Lord, and of looking after the greater good of this Church, its well-being, and its needs.

Pray for the End of the Fighting

12. Since you and your faithful understand this well, you have all risen up for the sake of religion, justice, and tranquillity, which are the foundation of all good things. You make the Church of God glorious with the worthy show of your faith, charity, constancy, and virtue; by your faithful efforts in the Church’s defense, you fashion a new and wonderful example in its history, which will be remembered by generations to come. But since the God of mercies is the source of those good things, We raise Our eyes, Our hearts, and Our hope to Him. We continually beseech Him to strengthen and increase the illustrious understanding of you and of the faithful, the piety you share, your love, and your zeal. We strongly exhort you and your people likewise to cry to the Lord with Us more strongly day by day, as the fighting grows more stern, that He may Himself deign to hasten the days of His propitiation.

Unite the Rulers

13. The rulers of the earth do not want the usurpation which We are suffering to be established and to thrive to the ruin of all authority and order. May God unite all rulers in agreement of mind and will. By removing all discord, claiming the disturbance of rebellions, and rejecting the ruinous counsels of the sects, may these rulers join in a common effort to have the rights of the Holy See restored. Then tranquillity will once again be restored to civil society.

14. Then request the divine clemency to dispel the blindness of impious minds and convert their hearts to penitence before the great and awful day of the Lord arrives, or to check their lawless plans and show them how foolish those men are who attempt to overthrow the rock founded by Christ and infringe its divine privileges.[8] In these prayers may Our hope be set more strongly on God. “Do you think that God can turn His ear away from His dearest spouse when she cries while opposing those who straiten her? How shall He not acknowledge bone of His bones and flesh of His flesh and even in some manner spirit of His spirit? Now indeed is the hour of wickedness and the power of darkness. But it is the final hour and the power quickly passes away. Christ the strength of God and the wisdom of God is with us, and He is on our side. Have confidence: he has overcome the world.”[9] Meanwhile let Us follow with great courage and assured faith the voice of eternal truth which says: fight for justice with your life, and struggle for justice even to death, then God will conquer your enemies for you.[10]

Finally, We heartily beseech from God the richest gifts of His heavenly grace for you, venerable brothers, and for all clerics and faithful laity entrusted to your individual care; and as a pledge of Our special and deep charity towards you and them, We lovingly impart to you and to these dear children Our Apostolic blessing.

Given at Rome in St. Peter’s on the 15th of May in the year of the Lord 1871 in the twenty-fifth year of Our Pontificate.


How much has changed in 200 years!

To hear these words spoken again by a holy Pope, with much more zeal and concern for the salvation of souls in this 21st century, a century full of heresy, apostasy and Modernism that has overrun the Catholic Church, is the hope of every Catholic that truly loves the Church.

“If ever those in charge of the Lord’s vineyard should be concerned about the salvation of souls, they must be so in this age especially. For many ideas aimed at weakening religion arise almost daily. When men are enticed by novelty and led on by an eagerness for alien knowledge, they come together more eagerly for this very purpose and more willingly embrace it. Wherefore, We lament that the destruction of souls is propagated more widely each day.

Accordingly you must work all the harder and exercise diligence and authority to repel this audacity and insanity which stalks even divine and most holy matters. Be confident that you will accomplish this by simplicity of sound doctrine and by the word of God which penetrates more than any two-edged sword. You will easily be able to contain the attack of enemies and blunt their weapons when in all your sermons you preach and present Jesus Christ crucified. By His own laws and institutions He founded and reenforced this holy city which is His Church. To it he entrusted, as it were, the deposit of faith in Him to be preserved piously and without contamination. He wished it to be the bulwark of His teaching and truth against which the gates of hell would never prevail.

We, therefore, the overseers and guardians of this holy city, must preserve the magnificent heritage of Our laws and faith which has been passed down intact to Us; We must transmit it pure and sound to our successors. If We direct all our actions to this norm found in sacred scripture and moreover cling to the footsteps of our ancestors, We will be best equipped to avoid whatever could weaken and destroy the faith of the Christian people and loosen in any way the unity of the Church.”

~Pope Clement XIV, Cum Summi (Proclaiming a Universal Jubilee, Encyclical, 1769


~Damsel of the Faith

Rejecting the Faith

From Pope Leo XIII

“Wherefore, as appears from what has been said, Christ instituted in the Church a living, authoritative and permanent Magisterium, which by His own power He strengthened, by the Spirit of truth He taught, and by miracles confirmed. He willed and ordered, under the gravest penalties, that its teachings should be received as if they were His own. As often, therefore, as it is declared on the authority of this teaching that this or that is contained in the deposit of divine revelation, it must be believed by every one as true. If it could in any way be false, an evident contradiction follows; for then God Himself would be the author of error in man. ‘Lord, if we be in error, we are being deceived by Thee’ (Richardus de S. Victore, De Trin., lib. i., cap. 2). In this wise, all cause for doubting being removed, can it be lawful for anyone to reject any one of those truths without by the very fact falling into heresy? Without separating himself from the Church? Without repudiating in one sweeping act the whole of Christian teaching? For such is the nature of faith that nothing can be more absurd than to accept some things and reject others. Faith, as the Church teaches, is ‘that supernatural virtue by which, through the help of God and through the assistance of His grace, we believe what he has revealed to be true, not on account of the intrinsic truth perceived by the natural light of reason, but because of the authority of God Himself, the Revealer, who can neither deceive nor be deceived’ (Conc. Vat., Sess. iii., cap. 3). If then it be certain that anything is revealed by God, and this is not believed, then nothing whatever is believed by divine Faith: for what the Apostle St. James judges to be the effect of a moral delinquency, the same is to be said of an erroneous opinion in the matter of faith. ‘Whosoever shall offend in one point, is become guilty of all’ (Ep. James ii., 10). Nay, it applies with greater force to an erroneous opinion. For it can be said with less truth that every law is violated by one who commits a single sin, since it may be that he only virtually despises the majesty of God the Legislator. But he who dissents even in one point from divinely revealed truth absolutely rejects all faith, since he thereby refuses to honor God as the supreme truth and the formal motive of faith. ‘In many things they are with me, in a few things not with me; but in those few things in which they are not with me the many things in which they are will not profit them’ (S. Augustinus in Psal. liv., n. 19). And this indeed most deservedly; for they, who take from Christian doctrine what they please, lean on their own judgments, not on faith; and not ‘bringing into captivity every understanding unto the obedience of Christ’ (2 Cor. x., 5), they more truly obey themselves than God. ‘You, who believe what you like, believe yourselves rather than the gospel’ (S. Augustinus, lib. xvii., Contra Faustum Manichaeum, cap. 3).” (Pope Leo XIII, “Satis Cognitum”, 1896 A.D.

Pope St. Pius X, Hammer of Modernists

A Blessed Feast of Pope St. Pius X to all! May he intercede for the Church ravaged by Modernism so that we may soon see the restoration of all things in Christ that Pope St. Pius X so tirelessly worked for.

The following are his great Encyclicals and short videos of his Canonization.  He issued 17 Encyclicals during his reign, the most famous being “E Supremi,” his opening Encyclical and Pascendi on the Modernists.

This was a Pope like no other, staunch, courageous and fearless, a Pope who recognized that the Church would one day be in danger from within by Modernists hellbent on destroying any vestige of the Catholic Faith.  Prophetic indeed was Archbishop Lefebvre’s choice to name the SSPX after Pope St. Pius X, for the work of the SSPX would be to fight against Modernism in the Church and preserve the True Catholic Faith.

Pope St. Pius X, pray for us!

“They lay the ax not to the branches and shoots, but to the very root, that is, to the faith and its deepest fibers. And once having struck at this root of immortality, they proceed to diffuse poison through the whole tree so that there is no part of the Catholic truth which they leave untouched, none that they do not strive to corrupt. Further, none is more skillful, none more astute than they, in the employment of a thousand noxious devices, for they play the double part of rationalist and Catholic, and this so craftily that they easily lead the unwary into error; and as audacity is their chief characteristic, there is no conclusion of any kind from which they shrink or which they do not thrust forward with pertinacity and assurance.”  ~Pope St. Pius X

“E Supremii” on the restoration of all things in Christ

The following is Pope St. Pius X’s first Encyclical of his Pontificate on the restoration of all things in Christ, which this great saint tirelessly worked for. Unlike Laudato Si, this Encyclical demonstrates the true love of God and the Church that the pre-Counciliar Popes so obviously exhibited.  The blueprint of Pope Pius X’s Pontificate was the restoration of all things in Christ, which we have yet to see but so desperately need in the Church and in the world.  Let us pray to Pope Pius X to intercede for the Church ravaged by Modernism.

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

Venerable Brethren, Health and the Apostolic Benediction

In addressing you for the first time from the Chair of the supreme apostolate to which We have, by the inscrutable disposition of God, been elevated, it is not necessary to remind you with what tears and warm instance We exerted Ourselves to ward off this formidable burden of the Pontificate. Unequal in merit though We be with St. Anselm, it seems to us that We may with truth make Our own the words in which he lamented when he was constrained against his will and in spite of his struggles to receive the honor of the episcopate. For to show with what dispositions of mind and will We subjected Ourselves to the most serious charge of feeding the flock of Christ, We can well adduce those same proofs of grief which he invokes in his own behalf. “My tears are witnesses,” he wrote, “and the sounds and moanings issuing from the anguish of my heart, such as I never remember before to have come from me for any sorrow, before that day on which there seemed to fall upon me that great misfortune of the archbishop of Canterbury. And those who fixed their gaze on my face that day could not fail to see it . . . I, in color more like a dead than a living man, was pale for amazement and alarm. Hitherto I have resisted as far as I could, speaking the truth, my election or rather the violence done me. But now I am constrained to confess, whether I will or no, that the judgments of God oppose greater and greater resistance to my efforts, so that I see no way of escaping them. Wherefore vanquished as I am by the violence not so much of men as of God, against which there is no providing, I realize that nothing is left for me, after having prayed as much as I could and striven that this chalice should if possible pass from me without my drinking it, but to set aside my feeling and my will and resign myself entirely to the design and the will of God.”

2. In truth reasons both numerous and most weighty were not lacking to justify this resistance of Ours. For, beside the fact that We deemed Ourselves altogether unworthy through Our littleness of the honor of the Pontificate; who would not have been disturbed at seeing himself designated to succeed him who, ruling the Church with supreme wisdom for nearly twenty-six years, showed himself adorned with such sublimity of mind, such luster of every virtue. as to attract to himself the admiration even of adversaries, and to leave his memory stamped in glorious achievements. Then again, to omit other motives, We were terrified beyond all else by the disastrous state of human society today. For who can fail to see that society is at the present time, more than in any past age, suffering from a terrible and deep-rooted malady which, developing every day and eating into its inmost being, is dragging it to destruction? You understand, Venerable Brethren, what this disease is — apostasy from God, than which in truth nothing is more allied with ruin, according to the word of the Prophet: “For behold they that go far from Thee shall perish” (Ps. 1xxii., 17). We saw therefore that, in virtue of the ministry of the Pontificate, which was to be entrusted to Us, We must hasten to find a remedy for this great evil, considering as addressed to Us that Divine command: “Lo, I have set thee this day over the nations and over kingdoms, to root up, and to pull down, and to waste, and to destroy, and to build, and to plant” (Jerem. i., 10). But, cognizant of Our weakness, We recoiled in terror from a task as urgent as it is arduous.

4. Since, however, it has been pleasing to the Divine Will to raise Our lowliness to such sublimity of power, We take courage in Him who strengthens Us; and setting Ourselves to work, relying on the power of God, We proclaim that We have no other program in the Supreme Pontificate but that “of restoring all things in Christ” (Ephes. i., 10), so that “Christ may be all and in all” (Coloss. iii., 2). Some will certainly be found who, measuring Divine things by human standards will seek to discover secret aims of Ours, distorting them to an earthly scope and to partisan designs. To eliminate all vain delusions for such, We say to them with emphasis that We do not wish to be, and with the Divine assistance never shall be aught before human society but the Minister of God, of whose authority We are the depositary. The interests of God shall be Our interest, and for these We are resolved to spend all Our strength and Our very life. Hence, should anyone ask Us for a symbol as the expression of Our will, We will give this and no other: “To renew all things in Christ.” In undertaking this glorious task, We are greatly quickened by the certainty that We shall have all of you, Venerable Brethren, as generous co-operators. Did We doubt it We should have to regard you, unjustly, as either unconscious or heedless of that sacrilegious war which is now, almost everywhere, stirred up and fomented against God. For in truth, “The nations have raged and the peoples imagined vain things” (Ps. ii., 1.) against their Creator, so frequent is the cry of the enemies of God: “Depart from us” (Job. xxi., 14). And as might be expected we find extinguished among the majority of men all respect for the Eternal God, and no regard paid in the manifestations of public and private life to the Supreme Will — nay, every effort and every artifice is used to destroy utterly the memory and the knowledge of God.

5. When all this is considered there is good reason to fear lest this great perversity may be as it were a foretaste, and perhaps the beginning of those evils which are reserved for the last days; and that there may be already in the world the “Son of Perdition” of whom the Apostle speaks (II. Thess. ii., 3). Such, in truth, is the audacity and the wrath employed everywhere in persecuting religion, in combating the dogmas of the faith, in brazen effort to uproot and destroy all relations between man and the Divinity! While, on the other hand, and this according to the same apostle is the distinguishing mark of Antichrist, man has with infinite temerity put himself in the place of God, raising himself above all that is called God; in such wise that although he cannot utterly extinguish in himself all knowledge of God, he has contemned God’s majesty and, as it were, made of the universe a temple wherein he himself is to be adored. “He sitteth in the temple of God, showing himself as if he were God” (II. Thess. ii., 2).

6. Verily no one of sound mind can doubt the issue of this contest between man and the Most High. Man, abusing his liberty, can violate the right and the majesty of the Creator of the Universe; but the victory will ever be with God — nay, defeat is at hand at the moment when man, under the delusion of his triumph, rises up with most audacity. Of this we are assured in the holy books by God Himself. Unmindful, as it were, of His strength and greatness, He “overlooks the sins of men” (Wisd. xi., 24), but swiftly, after these apparent retreats, “awaked like a mighty man that hath been surfeited with wine” (Ps. Ixxvii., 65), “He shall break the heads of his enemies” (Ps. Ixvii., 22), that all may know “that God is the king of all the earth” (Ib. Ixvi., 8), “that the Gentiles may know themselves to be men’ (Ib. ix., 20).

7. All this, Venerable Brethren, We believe and expect with unshakable faith. But this does not prevent us also, according to the measure given to each, from exerting ourselves to hasten the work of God — and not merely by praying assiduously: “Arise, O Lord, let not man be strengthened” (Ib. ix., 19), but, more important still, by affirming both by word and deed and in the light of day, God’s supreme dominion over man and all things, so that His right to command and His authority may be fully realized and respected. This is imposed upon us not only as a natural duty, but by our common interest. For, Venerable Brethren, who can avoid being appalled and afflicted when he beholds, in the midst of a progress in civilization which is justly extolled, the greater part of mankind fighting among themselves so savagely as to make it seem as though strife were universal? The desire for peace is certainly harbored in every breast, and there is no one who does not ardently invoke it. But to want peace without God is an absurdity, seeing that where God is absent thence too justice flies, and when justice is taken away it is vain to cherish the hope of peace. “Peace is the work of justice” (Is. xxii., 17). There are many, We are well aware, who, in their yearning for peace, that is for the tranquillity of order, band themselves into societies and parties, which they style parties of order. Hope and labor lost. For there is but one party of order capable of restoring peace in the midst of all this turmoil, and that is the party of God. It is this party, therefore, that we must advance, and to it attract as many as possible, if we are really urged by the love of peace.

8. But, Venerable Brethren, we shall never, however much we exert ourselves, succeed in calling men back to the majesty and empire of God, except by means of Jesus Christ. “No one,” the Apostle admonishes us, “can lay other foundation than that which has been laid, which is Jesus Christ.” (I. Cor., iii., II.) It is Christ alone “whom the Father sanctified and sent into this world” (Is. x., 36), “the splendor of the Father and the image of His substance” (Hebr. i., 3), true God and true man: without whom nobody can know God with the knowledge for salvation, “neither doth anyone know the Father but the Son, and he to whom it shall please the Son to reveal Him.” (Matth. xi., 27.) Hence it follows that to restore all things in Christ and to lead men back to submission to God is one and the same aim. To this, then, it behoves Us to devote Our care — to lead back mankind under the dominion of Christ; this done, We shall have brought it back to God. When We say to God We do not mean to that inert being heedless of all things human which the dream of materialists has imagined, but to the true and living God, one in nature, triple in person, Creator of the world, most wise Ordainer of all things, Lawgiver most just, who punishes the wicked and has reward in store for virtue.

9. Now the way to reach Christ is not hard to find: it is the Church. Rightly does Chrysostom inculcate: “The Church is thy hope, the Church is thy salvation, the Church is thy refuge.” (“Hom. de capto Euthropio,” n. 6.) It was for this that Christ founded it, gaining it at the price of His blood, and made it the depositary of His doctrine and His laws, bestowing upon it at the same time an inexhaustible treasury of graces for the sanctification and salvation of men.

You see, then, Venerable Brethren, the duty that has been imposed alike upon Us and upon you of bringing back to the discipline of the Church human society, now estranged from the wisdom of Christ; the Church will then subject it to Christ, and Christ to God. If We, through the goodness of God Himself, bring this task to a happy issue, We shall be rejoiced to see evil giving place to good, and hear, for our gladness, ” a loud voice from heaven saying: Now is come salvation, and strength, and the kingdom of our God and the power of his Christ.” (Apoc. xii., 10.) But if our desire to obtain this is to be fulfilled, we must use every means and exert all our energy to bring about the utter disappearance of the enormous and detestable wickedness, so characteristic of our time — the substitution of man for God; this done, it remains to restore to their ancient place of honor the most holy laws and counsels of the gospel; to proclaim aloud the truths taught by the Church, and her teachings on the sanctity of marriage, on the education and discipline of youth, on the possession and use of property, the duties that men owe to those who rule the State; and lastly to restore equilibrium between the different classes of society according to Christian precept and custom. This is what We, in submitting Ourselves to the manifestations of the Divine will, purpose to aim at during Our Pontificate, and We will use all our industry to attain it. It is for you, Venerable Brethren, to second Our efforts by your holiness, knowledge and experience and above all by your zeal for the glory of God, with no other aim than that Christ may be formed in all.

10. As to the means to be employed in attaining this great end, it seems superfluous to name them, for they are obvious of themselves. Let your first care be to form Christ in those who are destined from the duty of their vocation to form Him in others. We speak of the priests, Venerable Brethren. For all who bear the seal of the priesthood must know that they have the same mission to the people in the midst of whom they live as that which Paul proclaimed that he received in these tender words: “My little children, of whom I am in labor again until Christ be formed in you” (Gal. iv., 19). But how will they be able to perform this duty if they be not first clothed with Christ themselves? and so clothed with Christ as to be able to say with the Apostle: “I live, yet not I, but Christ lives in me” (Ibid. ii., 20). “For me to live is Christ” (Phlipp. i., 21). Hence although all are included in the exhortation “to advance towards the perfect man, in the measure of the age of the fullness of Christ” (Ephes. iv., 3), it is addressed before all others to those who exercise the sacerdotal ministry; thus these are called another Christ, not merely by the communication of power but by reason of the imitation of His works, and they should therefore bear stamped upon themselves the image of Christ.

11. This being so, Venerable Brethren, of what nature and magnitude is the care that must be taken by you in forming the clergy to holiness! All other tasks must yield to this one. Wherefore the chief part of your diligence will be directed to governing and ordering your seminaries aright so that they may flourish equally in the soundness of their teaching and in the spotlessness of their morals. Regard your seminary as the delight of your hearts, and neglect on its behalf none of those provisions which the Council of Trent has with admirable forethought prescribed. And when the time comes for promoting the youthful candidates to holy orders, ah! do not forget what Paul wrote to Timothy: “Impose not hands lightly upon any man” (I. Tim. v., 22), bearing carefully in mind that as a general rule the faithful will be such as are those whom you call to the priesthood. Do not then pay heed to private interests of any kind, but have at heart only God and the Church and the eternal welfare of souls so that, as the Apostle admonishes, “you may not be partakers of the sins of others” (Ibid.). Then again be not lacking in solicitude for young priests who have just left the seminary. From the bottom of Our heart, We urge you to bring them often close to your breast, which should burn with celestial fire — kindle them, inflame them, so that they may aspire solely after God and the salvation of souls. Rest assured, Venerable Brethren, that We on Our side will use the greatest diligence to prevent the members of the clergy from being drawn to the snares of a certain new and fallacious science, which savoureth not of Christ, but with masked and cunning arguments strives to open the door to the errors of rationalism and semi-rationalism; against which the Apostle warned Timothy to be on his guard, when he wrote: “Keep that which is committed to thy trust, avoiding the profane novelties of words, and oppositions of knowledge falsely so called which some promising have erred concerning the faith” (I. Tim. vi., 20 s.). This does not prevent Us from esteeming worthy of praise those young priests who dedicated themselves to useful studies in every branch of learning the better to prepare themselves to defend the truth and to refute the calumnies of the enemies of the faith. Yet We cannot conceal, nay, We proclaim in the most open manner possible that Our preference is, and ever will be, for those who, while cultivating ecclesiastical and literary erudition, dedicate themselves more closely to the welfare of souls through the exercise of those ministries proper to a priest jealous of the divine glory. “It is a great grief and a continual sorrow to our heart” (Rom. ix., 2) to find Jeremiah’s lamentation applicable to our times: “The little ones asked for bread, and there was none to break it to them” (Lam. iv., 4). For there are not lacking among the clergy those who adapt themselves according to their bent to works of more apparent than real solidity — but not so numerous perhaps are those who, after the example of Christ, take to themselves the words of the Prophet: “The Spirit of the Lord hath anointed me, hath sent me to evangelize the poor, to heal the contrite of heart, to announce freedom to the captive, and sight to the blind” (Luke iv., 18-19).

12. Yet who can fail to see, Venerable Brethren, that while men are led by reason and liberty, the principal way to restore the empire of God in their souls is religious instruction? How many there are who mimic Christ and abhor the Church and the Gospel more through ignorance than through badness of mind, of whom it may well be said: “They blaspheme whatever things they know not” (Jude ii., 10). This is found to be the case not only among the people at large and among the lowest classes, who are thus easily led astray, but even among the more cultivated and among those endowed moreover with uncommon education. The result is for a great many the loss of the faith. For it is not true that the progress of knowledge extinguishes the faith; rather is it ignorance, and the more ignorance prevails the greater is the havoc wrought by incredulity. And this is why Christ commanded the Apostles: “Going forth teach all nations” (Matth. xxviii., 19).

13. But in order that the desired fruit may be derived from this apostolate and this zeal for teaching, and that Christ may be formed in all, be it remembered, Venerable Brethren, that no means is more efficacious than charity. “For the Lord is not in the earthquake” (III Kings xix., II) — it is vain to hope to attract souls to God by a bitter zeal. On the contrary, harm is done more often than good by taunting men harshly with their faults, and reproving their vices with asperity. True the Apostle exhorted Timothy: “Accuse, beseech, rebuke,” but he took care to add: “with all patience” (11. Tim. iv., 2). Jesus has certainly left us examples of this. “Come to me,” we find Him saying, “come to me all ye that labor and are burdened and I will refresh you” (Matth. xi., 28). And by those that labor and are burdened he meant only those who are slaves of sin and error. What gentleness was that shown by the Divine Master! What tenderness, what compassion towards all kinds of misery! Isaias has marvelously described His heart in the words: “I will set my spirit upon him; he shall not contend, nor cry out; the bruised reed he will not break, he will not extinguish the smoking flax” (Is. xlii., 1, s.). This charity, “patient and kind” (1. Cor. xiii., 4.), will extend itself also to those who are hostile to us and persecute us. “We are reviled,” thus did St. Paul protest, “and we bless; we are persecuted and we suffer it; we are blasphemed and we entreat” (1. Cor., iv., 12, s.). They perhaps seem to be worse than they really are. Their associations with others, prejudice, the counsel, advice and example of others, and finally an ill-advised shame have dragged them to the side of the impious; but their wills are not so depraved as they themselves would seek to make people believe. Who will prevent us from hoping that the flame of Christian charity may dispel the darkness from their minds and bring to them light and the peace of God? It may be that the fruit of our labors may be slow in coming, but charity wearies not with waiting, knowing that God prepares His rewards not for the results of toil but for the good will shown in it.

14. It is true, Venerable Brethren, that in this arduous task of the restoration of the human race in Christ neither you nor your clergy should exclude all assistance. We know that God recommended every one to have a care for his neighbor (Eccli. xvii., 12). For it is not priests alone, but all the faithful without exception, who must concern themselves with the interests of God and souls — not, of course, according to their own views, but always under the direction and orders of the bishops; for to no one in the Church except you is it given to preside over, to teach, to “govern the Church of God which the Holy Ghost has placed you to rule” (Acts xx., 28). Our predecessors have long since approved and blessed those Catholics who have banded together in societies of various kinds, but always religious in their aim. We, too, have no hesitation in awarding Our praise to this great idea, and We earnestly desire to see it propagated and flourish in town and country. But We wish that all such associations aim first and chiefly at the constant maintenance of Christian life, among those who belong to them. For truly it is of little avail to discuss questions with nice subtlety, or to discourse eloquently of rights and duties, when all this is unconnected with practice. The times we live in demand action — but action which consists entirely in observing with fidelity and zeal the divine laws and the precepts of the Church, in the frank and open profession of religion, in the exercise of every kind of charitable works, without regard to selfinterest or worldly advantage. Such luminous examples given by the great army of soldiers of Christ will be of much greater avail in moving and drawing men than words and sublime dissertations; and it will easily come about that when human respect has been driven out, and prejudices and doubting laid aside, large numbers will be won to Christ, becoming in their turn promoters of His knowledge and love which are the road to true and solid happiness. Oh! when in every city and village the law of the Lord is faithfully observed, when respect is shown for sacred things, when the Sacraments are frequented, and the ordinances of Christian life fulfilled, there will certainly be no more need for us to labor further to see all things restored in Christ. Nor is it for the attainment of eternal welfare alone that this will be of service — it will also contribute largely to temporal welfare and the advantage of human society. For when these conditions have been secured, the upper and wealthy classes will learn to be just and charitable to the lowly, and these will be able to bear with tranquillity and patience the trials of a very hard lot; the citizens will obey not lust but law, reverence and love will be deemed a duty towards those that govern, “whose power comes only from God” (Rom. xiii., 1). And then? Then, at last, it will be clear to all that the Church, such as it was instituted by Christ, must enjoy full and entire liberty and independence from all foreign dominion; and We, in demanding that same liberty, are defending not only the sacred rights of religion, but are also consulting the common weal and the safety of nations. For it continues to be true that “piety is useful for all things” (I. Tim. iv., 8) — when this is strong and flourishing “the people will” truly “sit in the fullness of peace” (Is. xxxii., 18).

15. May God, “who is rich in mercy” (Ephes. ii., 4), benignly speed this restoration of the human race in Jesus Christ for “it is not of him that willeth, or of him that runneth, but of God that showeth mercy” (Rom. ix., 16). And let us, Venerable Brethren, “in the spirit of humility” (Dan. iii., 39), with continuous and urgent prayer ask this of Him through the merits of Jesus Christ. Let us turn, too, to the most powerful intercession of the Divine Mother — to obtain which We, addressing to you this Letter of Ours on the day appointed especially for commemorating the Holy Rosary, ordain and confirm all Our Predecessor’s prescriptions with regard to the dedication of the present month to the august Virgin, by the public recitation of the Rosary in all churches; with the further exhortation that as intercessors with God appeal be also made to the most pure Spouse of Mary, the Patron of the Catholic Church, and the holy Princes of the Apostles, Peter and Paul.

16. And that all this may be realized in fulfillment of Our ardent desire, and that everything may be prosperous with you, We invoke upon you the most bountiful gifts of divine grace. And now in testimony of that most tender charity wherewith We embrace you and all the faithful whom Divine Providence has entrusted to Us, We impart with all affection in the Lord, the Apostolic Blessing to you, Venerable Brethren, to the clergy and to your people.

Given at Rome at St. Peter’s, on the 4th day of October, 1903, in the first year of Our Pontificate.

Site Meter

“Maxima Quidem” on the evils of the day

The following is a Consistorial Allocation from Pope Bl. Pius IX, which has been recently translated into English:



Translated by H.H.G.

We were moved with great joy, Venerable Brethren, when yesterday, with God’s good help, We were able to bestow the honors and cult of the Saints upon twenty-seven most invincible heroes* of our divine religion, with you standing by our side. You, our highest solace and consolation, who, gifted with great piety and virtue, are called to our aid in such harsh times to take part in fighting for the House of Israel. If only, while we are bathed in such joy, no cause of sorrow or grief would discourage us from other quarters.

For we cannot but be vehemently grieved and distressed when we see the most lamentable evils and damages, which can never be sufficiently deplored, by which, to the great detriment of souls, the Catholic Church and civil society itself are pressed and torn asunder in the most pitiable manner. As you know well, Venerable Brethren, a most abominable war has been enflamed against the whole Catholic cause by those men, who are enemies of the Cross of Christ. For since they do not accept sound teaching, having joined in a foul conspiracy, they blaspheme in their ignorance, and endeavor by perverse arts of every kind to shake the foundations of our most holy religion and of human society. Indeed they endeavor, as if it were possible, to overthrow religion and society altogether, and to infect the hearts of all men with the most baleful errors, to corrupt them, and to turn them away from the Catholic religion.

Truly these most cunning artificers of fraud and fabricators of falsehood do not cease to call forth from the darkness all monstrous portents of ancient errors—already overthrown and driven away so many times by the wisest writings, and condemned by the most solemn judgment of the Church—and to magnify them, expressing them in new, varied and most fallacious forms and expressions, and to disseminate them in all modes everywhere.

With this most calamitous and utterly diabolical method they befoul and disfigure the knowledge of all things; they spread abroad a fatal poison, to the ruin of souls, and encourage unbridled license of living, and all manner of vicious lusts; they invert religious and social order; they strive to extinguish even any idea of justice, truth, right, honesty, and religion, and they mock, and scorn, and attack the most holy dogmas and doctrine of Christ. The soul shudders, and indeed, flees, and shrinks from even lightly touching on such precipitous and pestilential errors, by which men of this sort in these wretched times confound all things divine and human.

None of you are ignorant, Venerable Brethren, that such men are plainly destroying that necessary coherence, which, by the will of God, intercedes between both orders, natural and supernatural; and likewise these same men transform, subvert, and destroy the proper, true, and genuine nature and authority of divine revelation, and the constitution and power of the Church. And they proceed in this boldness of opinion, so that they do not hesitate most audaciously to deny every truth, and every law, power, and right of divine origin.

For by no means do they blush to assert, that the knowledge of moral and philosophical things, and likewise civil laws, can and should deviate from divine revelation and the authority of the Church. And they say that the Church is not a true and perfect society, completely free. They claim that she is not able to define Her proper and constant rights, bestowed upon Her by Her divine Founder; but that it is for the civil power to determine the rights of the Church and the limits within which She can exercise those same rights.

From this, they perversely allege that it is possible for the civil power to immerse itself in affairs that pertain to religion, morals, and spiritual government, and furthermore to prevent the bishops and the faithful from communicating freely with the Roman Pontiff, the highest of all divinely established pastors of the Church, and they dissolve that necessary and closest union, divinely instituted by Christ the Lord himself, which ought to be between the members of the mystical body of Christ and its visible head.

And they are not at all afraid to pronounce, by every fallacy and trickery, before the whole world, that the sacred ministers of the Church and the Roman Pontiff ought to be excluded from every right and dominion of temporal affairs.

Further, they do not hesitate to assert, with the greatest impudence, that divine revelation is not only useless, but even harmful to human improvement, and that revelation is incomplete and therefore subject to a continuous and indefinite development corresponding to the progress of human reason.

Nor do they fear to claim that the prophecies and miracles described and recounted by the sacred scriptures are nothing but the inventions of poets, and the sacred mysteries of our divine faith the result of philosophical speculations, and the sacred books of both Testaments full of invented myths and even (horribile dictu!) that Our Lord Jesus Christ Himself is a mythical fiction.

Thus, according to the prating of these most unruly adherents of perverse dogmas, the moral law is in no need of divine sanction, and it is not at all necessary for human laws to conform to natural right or receive their binding force from God. And therefore they assert that there is no divine law.

In addition, they dare to deny any activity of God in men and in the world. And they rashly assert that human reason, without any reference to God, is the only judge of truth and falsehood, good and evil, and that human reason is a law unto itself, and suffices by its own natural power for the care of the good of persons and peoples. But since they perversely dare to derive all truths of religion from the inborn force of human reason, they assign to man a certain basic right, from which he can think and speak about religion as he likes, and give such honor and worship to God as he finds more agreeable to himself.

But they indeed arrive at the impiety and effrontery to try to attack heaven and remove God Himself from our midst. With singular lack of principle, equal only to their folly, they do not scruple to assert that there is no all wise and provident Divine Being distinct from the things of this world, and that God is identical to nature, and that He is therefore subject to change; and that God is really coming to be in man and in the world; and that all things are really God and of God’s substance; and that God and the world are really one and the same thing, and so too spirit and matter, necessity and freedom, truth and falsehood, good and evil, just and unjust are all really the same.

Certainly nothing more demented, nothing more impious, nothing more repugnant to reason itself can ever be imagined or devised than this. But they prattle about authority and right so heedlessly, that they impudently say that authority is nothing other than the sum of number and material forces, and that right consists in material fact, and that all duties of men are an empty name, and that all human deeds have the force of right.

Now again, heaping up fabrications upon fabrications, delusions upon delusions, and trampling every legitimate authority, and all legitimate laws, obligations, and duties, they do not hesitate to substitute, in the place of true and legitimate right, false and pretended rights of natural forces, and to subject the order of morals to the order of material things.

Nor do they recognize other powers, except those which are placed in matter, and every upright discipline of morals they place in the accumulating and increasing of riches by any means whatsoever, and in the satiating of any and all pleasures. And with these nefarious and abominable principles, they maintain, favor, and exalt the false sense of rebellious flesh for the spirit, and bestow upon it natural endowments and rights, which they say are trampled through Catholic doctrine, utterly despising the warning of the Apostle crying, “For if you live according to the flesh, you shall die: but if by the Spirit you mortify the deeds of the flesh, you shall live” (Rom. 8:13).

Moreover, they strive to usurp and destroy all rights of legitimate property, and falsely feign and imagine in mind and thought that there is a certain unbounded right, which they rashly judge to be the origin and font of all rights, from which the State derives its power.

But while we touch hurriedly and with sorrow upon these preeminent errors of our most wretched age, we omit to review, Venerable Brethren, the innumerable other falsehoods and frauds, which are especially well-known and evident to you, by which the enemies of God and men struggle to confuse and convulse both the sacred and public spheres. And We pass over in silence the many and most grave injuries, calumnies, scorns, with which they unceasingly tear at and slander the sacred ministers of the Church and this Apostolic See. We say nothing of the iniquitous hypocrisy, with which the leaders and accomplices of the destructive party of perturbation and rebellion, chiefly in Italy, persist in saying that they wish for the Church to enjoy Her liberty, while with daring sacrilege they continually trample upon all the rights and laws of this very Church, and despoil Her goods; and in every way harass and thrust into prison Her bishops and ecclesiastics, although these so discharge their illustrious office so well; and they violently drive the mothers of religious orders and virgins consecrated to God away from their convents, and despoil them of their goods; and leave nothing untried so that they might crush the Church, and reduce Her to the most shameful servitude.

And while certainly we feel singular delight at your most welcome presence, you yourselves see what liberty the Venerable Brethren, bishops in Italy, now have, who, strenuously and constantly fighting the battles of the Lord and the labors of their adversaries, have, to the greatest sorrow of our soul, not been able to come to us at all, and be among you, and be present at this assembly, which they very much had wished for, just as the Archbishops and Bishops of unhappy Italy have signified to us and to this Holy See in their most plentiful letters of the utmost love and obedience.

Indeed you also see that none of the sacred prelates of Portugal are present here, and we suffer in no small measure when we consider the nature of the hardships which hinder them, such that they cannot be present among us.

We pass over so many other truly distressing and horrible things, done by the adherents of these perverse doctrines, to Our unspeakable sorrow, and to yours, and to that of all good men. Nor do We speak of the impious conspiracies, and perverse devices and fallacies of all kinds with which they seek completely to overthrow and destroy the civil power of this Apostolic See. We prefer to recall the wonderful unanimity with which you, together with other Venerable Brethren, the bishops of the whole Catholic world, never ceased to refute such fallacies in letters to us and in pastoral letters to the faithful, in which you taught that the civil power of the Holy See was given to the Roman Pontiff by a special decree of divine providence, and that this is necessary so that the Roman Pontiff might not be subject to any worldly authority, and might thus be able with full liberty to exercise the supreme power and authority, which was divinely granted by Christ the Lord Himself, to shepherd and rule the whole flock of Christ, and be able thus to promote what is best for the Church, and provide what is good and advantageous and needed for the faithful.

Those things that we have lamented thus far, Venerable Brethren, show plainly the sorry spectacle.

For who does not see that the Christian people from day to day are miserably beguiled by the iniquity of so many perverse dogmas, and by so many depraved delusions and machinations, and are thrust into ruin; and that the Catholic Church, her salutary teaching, her venerable rights and laws, and her sacred ministers, are besieged, and that, for these reasons, all manner of vices and calamities predominate and are increased, and civil society itself is continually stirred up?

And so we, exceedingly mindful of our Apostolic office, and especially solicitous of the spiritual good and salvation of all peoples, divinely entrusted to us from heaven—since, to use the words of our most holy predecessor Leo I, “We cannot otherwise govern those entrusted to us, unless we, with the zeal of faith in the Lord, seek after those who destroy and are destroyed, and, with what severity we can muster, sever them from sound minds, lest this pestilence be disseminated more broadly.”**—lifting up our Apostolic voice in this your most distinguished assembly, we reject, proscribe, and condemn all the particularly related errors, entirely repugnant and very much opposed not only to Catholic faith and teaching, and to divine and ecclesiastical laws, but also to the everlasting and natural law, and to justice and right reason.

But you, Venerable Brethren, who are the salt of the earth, and the guardians and pastors of the Lord’s flock, again and again we stir up and implore, that you might proceed on behalf of your distinguished religion and episcopal zeal, just as up to now, with the highest praise of your order, you have worked, with all care, zeal, and eagerness, to protect the faithful delivered to You from these venomous places of pasture, and with what expression, with what commodious writings You have labored to refute and cast down so many portents of perverse opinions.

For you know best about the chief thing to be done, since it concerns the cause of our most holy faith, and that of the Catholic Church and Her doctrine, and of the salvation of peoples, and the good and tranquility of human society. Therefore, so far as it is in You, do not cease ever to turn and divert from the faithful the contagions of so dire a pestilence;—that is, do not cease to remove from their eyes and hands ruinous books and newspapers, and assiduously to imbue, and educate, and admonish, and exhort the very same faithful, with the most pious instructions of our august religion, so that they might flee from these teachers of iniquity, as from the presence of a serpent.

Go on to direct all your cares and thoughts toward that foremost purpose, so that a Clergy might be established in a skillful and holy manner, and be refulgent in all the virtues, in order that the youth of either sex might be formed attentively according to decency of morals, piety, and every virtue; so that the course of study may be salutary. And guard and watch most diligently, lest at any time, in handing on the humanities, and the more difficult disciplines, there might creep in anything which opposes faith, religion, and good morals.

Do manfully, Venerable Brethren, lest you should lose strength of soul in the great commotion and iniquity of the times; but relying entirely on divine help, and taking up in all things the impregnable shield of equity and faith, and the sword of the Spirit, which is the Word of God, do not cease to resist the exertions of all enemies of the Catholic Church and of this Apostolic See, and to blunt their darts and shatter their assaults.

But in the meanwhile, with eyes raised to Heaven, let us not desist, Venerable Brethren, from ceaselessly beseeching and imploring, in the humility of our heart, and with the most fervent prayers, the most clement Father of mercies, and the God of all consolation, Who from the shadows makes light to shine, and Who is able from stones to raise up children for Abraham; so that, through the merits of His Only-begotten Son our Lord Jesus Christ, He might will to extend to the Christian and civil republic a succoring hand, and destroy all errors and impieties, and enlighten the minds of all those who err with the light of His divine grace, and to turn and recall these to Himself, by Whom His holy Church might acquire that most desired peace, and receive, from day to day, greater increase everywhere on the earth, and might prosperously flourish and blossom forth.

But in order that we might more readily obtain the things we seek and ask, let us never cease to make recourse to the foremost intercessor before God, the Immaculate and most Holy Virgin Mother of God, Mary, who, the most merciful and most loving mother of us all, ever extinguishes all heresies, and than whose patronage there is none more propitious to God.

Let us also seek the patronage both of St. Joseph, the spouse of the same Virgin, and then of the holy Apostles Ss. Peter and Paul, and of all the heavenly host, and of those especially whom, having been added most recently to the calendar of Saints, we honor and venerate.

Yet before we make an end of our words to you, we are not able to refrain, in fact let us again testify and confirm, that we enjoy the greatest consolation, when we delight in the most agreeable sight of all of you, who, obliged with such faith, piety, and esteem to us and to this Chair of Peter, and fulfilling your ministry, glory in procuring, with all zeal, the greater glory of God, and the salvation of souls; and who, with minds most harmonious, and with admirable care and love, one with the other Venerable Brethren of the entire Catholic world, the bishops, and with the faithful committed to your care and theirs, you do not cease to alleviate and lighten our most burdensome difficulties and hardships in every way.

Wherefore yet again, on this occasion we declare the feeling of our most loving and thankful soul toward you, and toward all the other Venerable Brothers, and the faithful, publicly and with great words.

But we ask of you, that, when you return to your Dioceses, you might deliver in our name to those same faithful, entrusted to your care, these thoughts of our mind, and assure them of our paternal charity towards them, and of the Apostolic benediction, conjoined with best wishes for true felicity, which we are exceedingly glad to impart to you, and to the same faithful, from the innermost depths of our heart.


* St. Paul Miki and Companions

** Letter VII, to the Bishops of Italy, ch. 2

Quanta Cura

The following is Pope Pius IX’s Encyclical “Quanta Cura” promulgated on December 8th, 1864, condemning the modern errors:

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 [1].

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,”[2] 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;”[3] 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]

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.”[5] 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,[6] 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.”[7] 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.[8] Teach that “kingdoms rest on the foundation of the Catholic Faith;[9] 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.”[10] 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;”[11] 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.”[12]

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.”[13] 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 our 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;”[14] 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.