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Syllabus errorum


Syllabus errors condemned by the Catholic Church

§ I

Pantheism, naturalism and absolute rationalism


There exists no Supreme, all-wise, all-provident Divine Being, distinct from the universe, and God is identical with the nature of things, and is, therefore, subject to changes. In effect, God is produced in man and in the world, and all things are God and have the very substance of God, and God is one and the same thing with the world, and, therefore, spirit with matter, necessity with liberty, good with evil, justice with injustice (26).


All action of God upon man and the world is to be denied (26).


Human reason, without any reference whatsoever to God, is the sole arbiter of truth and falsehood, and of good and evil; it is law to itself, and suffices, by its natural force, to secure the welfare of men and of nations (26).


All the truths of religion proceed from the innate strength of human reason; hence reason is the ultimate standard by which man can and ought to arrive at the knowledge of all truths of every kind (1, 17, 26).


Divine revelation is imperfect, and therefore subject to a continual and indefinite progress, corresponding with the advancement of human reason (1, 26).


The faith of Christ is in opposition to human reason and divine revelation not only is not useful, but is even hurtful to the perfection of man (1, 26).


The prophecies and miracles set forth and recorded in the Sacred Scriptures are the fiction of poets, and the mysteries of the Christian faith the result of philosophical investigations. In the books of the Old and the New Testament there are contained mythical inventions, and Jesus Christ is Himself a myth (1, 26).


§ II

Moderate rationalism


As human reason is placed on a level with religion itself, so theological must be treated in the same manner as philosophical sciences (13).


All the dogmas of the Christian religion are indiscriminately the object of natural science or philosophy, and human reason, enlightened solely in an historical way, is able, by its own natural strength and principles, to attain to the true science of even the most abstruse dogmas; provided only that such dogmas be proposed to reason itself as its object (27, 30).


As the philosopher is one thing, and philosophy another, so it is the right and duty of the philosopher to subject himself to the authority which he shall have proved to be true; but philosophy neither can nor ought to submit to any such authority (27, 30).


The Church not only ought never to pass judgment on philosophy, but ought to tolerate the errors of philosophy, leaving it to correct itself (27).


The decrees of the Apostolic See and of the Roman congregations impede the true progress of science (30).


The method and principles by which the old scholastic doctors cultivated theology are no longer suitable to the demands of our times and to the progress of the sciences (30).


Philosophy is to be treated without taking any account of supernatural revelation (30).



Indifferentism, latitudinarianism


Every man is free to embrace and profess that religion which, guided by the light of reason, he shall consider true (8, 26).


Man may, in the observance of any religion whatever, find the way of eternal salvation, and arrive at eternal salvation (1, 3, 17).


Good hope at least is to be entertained of the eternal salvation of all those who are not at all in the true Church of Christ (13, 28).


Protestantism is nothing more than another form of the same true Christian religion, in which form it is given to please God equally as in the Catholic Church (5).


§ IV

Socialism, communism, secret societies, biblical societies, clerico-liberal societies

Pests of this kind are frequently reprobated in the severest terms in the Encyclical “Qui pluribus,” Nov. 9, 1846, Allocution “Quibus quantisque,” April 20, 1849, Encyclical “Noscitis et nobiscum,” Dec. 8, 1849, Allocution “Singulari quadam,” Dec. 9, 1854, Encyclical “Quanto conficiamur,” Aug. 10, 1863.


§ V

Errors concerning the Church and her rights


The Church is not a true and perfect society, entirely free- nor is she endowed with proper and perpetual rights of her own, conferred upon her by her Divine Founder; but it appertains to the civil power to define what are the rights of the Church, and the limits within which she may exercise those rights (13, 23, 26).


The ecclesiastical power ought not to exercise its authority without the permission and assent of the civil government (25).


The Church has not the power of defining dogmatically that the religion of the Catholic Church is the only true religion (8).


The obligation by which Catholic teachers and authors are strictly bound is confined to those things only which are proposed to universal belief as dogmas of faith by the infallible judgment of the Church (30).


Roman pontiffs and ecumenical councils have wandered outside the limits of their powers, have usurped the rights of princes, and have even erred in defining matters of faith and morals (8).


The Church has not the power of using force, nor has she any temporal power, direct or indirect (9).


Besides the power inherent in the episcopate, other temporal power has been attributed to it by the civil authority granted either explicitly or tacitly, which on that account is revocable by the civil authority whenever it thinks fit (9).


The Church has no innate and legitimate right of acquiring and possessing property (18, 29).


The sacred ministers of the Church and the Roman pontiff are to be absolutely excluded from every charge and dominion over temporal affairs (26).


It is not lawful for bishops to publish even letters Apostolic without the permission of Government (18).


Favours granted by the Roman pontiff ought to be considered null, unless they have been sought for through the civil government (18).


The immunity of the Church and of ecclesiastical persons derived its origin from civil law (8).


The ecclesiastical forum or tribunal for the temporal causes, whether civil or criminal, of clerics, ought by all means to be abolished, even without consulting and against the protest of the Holy See (12, 18).


The personal immunity by which clerics are exonerated from military conscription and service in the army may be abolished without violation either of natural right or equity. Its abolition is called for by civil progress, especially in a society framed on the model of a liberal government (32).


It does not appertain exclusively to the power of ecclesiastical jurisdiction by right, proper and innate, to direct the teaching of theological questions (30).


The teaching of those who compare the Sovereign Pontiff to a prince, free and acting in the universal Church, is a doctrine which prevailed in the Middle Ages (9).


There is nothing to prevent the decree of a general council, or the act of all peoples, from transferring the supreme pontificate from the bishop and city of Rome to another bishop and another city (9).


The definition of a national council does not admit of any subsequent discussion, and the civil authority car assume this principle as the basis of its acts (9).


National churches, withdrawn from the authority of the Roman pontiff and altogether separated, can be established (23, 24).


The Roman pontiffs have, by their too arbitrary conduct, contributed to the division of the Church into Eastern and Western (9).


§ VI

Errors about civil Society, considered both in itself and in its relation to the Church


The State, as being the origin and source of all rights, is endowed with a certain right not circumscribed by any limits (26).


The teaching of the Catholic Church is hostile to the well- being and interests of society (1, 4).


The civil government, even when in the hands of an infidel sovereign, has a right to an indirect negative power over religious affairs. It therefore possesses not only the right called that of “exsequatur,” but also that of appeal, called “appellatio ab abusu” (9).


In the case of conflicting laws enacted by the two powers, the civil law prevails (9).


The secular Dower has authority to rescind, declare and render null, solemn conventions, commonly called concordats, entered into with the Apostolic See, regarding the use of rights appertaining to ecclesiastical immunity, without the consent of the Apostolic See, and even in spite of its protest (7, 23).


The civil authority may interfere in matters relating to religion, morality and spiritual government: hence, it can pass judgment on the instructions issued for the guidance of consciences, conformably with their mission, by the pastors of the Church. Further, it has the right to make enactments regarding the administration of the divine sacraments, and the dispositions necessary for receiving them (7, 26).


The entire government of public schools in which the youth- of a Christian state is educated, except (to a certain extent) in the case of episcopal seminaries, may and ought to appertain to the civil power, and belong to it so far that no other authority whatsoever shall be recognized as having any right to interfere in the discipline of the schools, the arrangement of the studies, the conferring of degrees, in the choice or approval of the teachers (7, 10).


Moreover, even in ecclesiastical seminaries, the method of studies to be adopted is subject to the civil authority (18).


The best theory of civil society requires that popular schools open to children of every class of the people, and, generally, all public institutes intended for instruction in letters and philosophical sciences and for carrying on the education of youth, should be freed from all ecclesiastical authority, control and interference, and should be fully subjected to the civil and political power at the pleasure of the rulers, and according to the standard of the prevalent opinions of the age (31).


Catholics may approve of the system of educating youth unconnected with Catholic faith and the power of the Church, and which regards the knowledge of merely natural things, and only, or at least primarily, the ends of earthly social life (31).


The civil power may prevent the prelates of the Church and the faithful from communicating freely and mutually with the Roman pontiff (26).


Lay authority possesses of itself the right of presenting bishops, and may require of them to undertake the administration of the diocese before they receive canonical institution, and the Letters Apostolic from the Holy See (18).


And, further, the lay government has the right of deposing bishops from their pastoral functions, and is not bound to obey the Roman pontiff in those things which relate to the institution of bishoprics and the appointment of bishops (8, 12).


Government can, by its own right, alter the age prescribed by the Church for the religious profession of women and men; and may require of all religious orders to admit no person to take solemn vows without its permission (18).


The laws enacted for the protection of religious orders and regarding their rights and duties ought to be abolished; nay, more, civil Government may lend its assistance to all who desire to renounce the obligation which they have undertaken of a religious life, and to break their vows. Government may also suppress the said religious orders, as likewise collegiate churches and simple benefices, even those of advowson and subject their property and revenues to the administration and pleasure of the civil power (12, 14, 15).


Kings and princes are not only exempt from the jurisdiction of the Church, but are superior to the Church in deciding questions of jurisdiction (8).


The Church ought to be separated from the .State, and the State from the Church (12).



Errors concerning natural and christian Ethics


Moral laws do not stand in need of the divine sanction, and it is not at all necessary that human laws should be made conformable to the laws of nature and receive their power of binding from God (26).


The science of philosophical things and morals and also civil laws may and ought to keep aloof from divine and ecclesiastical authority (26).


No other forces are to be recognized except those which reside in matter, and all the rectitude and excellence of morality ought to be placed in the accumulation and increase of riches by every possible means, and the gratification of pleasure (26, 28).


Right consists in the material fact. All human duties are an empty word, and all human facts have the force of right (59).


Authority is nothing else but numbers and the sum total of material forces (26).


The injustice of an act when successful inflicts no injury on the sanctity of right (24).


The principle of non-intervention, as it is called, ought to be proclaimed and observed (22).


It is lawful to refuse obedience to legitimate princes, and even to rebel against them (1, 2, 5, 20).


The violation of any solemn oath, as well as any wicked and flagitious action repugnant to the eternal law, is not only not blamable but is altogether lawful and worthy of the highest praise when done through love of country (4).



Errors concerning christian marriage


The doctrine that Christ has raised marriage to the dignity of a sacrament cannot be at all tolerated (9).


The Sacrament of Marriage is only a something accessory to the contract and separate from it, and the sacrament itself consists in the nuptial benediction alone (9).


By the law of nature, the marriage tie is not indissoluble, and in many cases divorce properly so called may be decreed by the civil authority (9, 12).


The Church has not the power of establishing diriment impediments of marriage, but such a power belongs to the civil authority by which existing impediments are to be removed (8).


In the dark ages the Church began to establish diriment impediments, not by her own right, but by using a power borrowed from the State (9).


The canons of the Council of Trent, which anathematize those who dare to deny to the Church the right of establishing diriment impediments, either are not dogmatic or must be understood as referring to such borrowed power (9).


The form of solemnizing marriage prescribed by the Council of Trent, under pain of nullity, does not bind in cases where the civil law lays down another form, and declares that when this new form is used the marriage shall be valid (9).


Boniface VIII was the first who declared that the vow of chastity taken at ordination renders marriage void (9).


In force of a merely civil contract there may exist between Christians a real marriage, and it is false to say either that the marriage contract between Christians is always a sacrament, or that there is no contract if the sacrament be excluded (9, 11, 12, 23).


Matrimonial causes and espousals belong by their nature to civil tribunals (9, 12).


§ IX

Errors regarding the civil power of the sovereign Pontiff


The children of the Christian and Catholic Church are divided amongst themselves about the compatibility of the temporal with the spiritual power (9).


The abolition of the temporal power of which the Apostolic See is possessed would contribute in the greatest degree to the liberty and prosperity of the Church (4, 6).


§ X

Errors having reference to modern liberalism


In the present day it is no longer expedient that the Catholic religion should be held as the only religion of the State, to the exclusion of all other forms of worship (16).


Hence it has been wisely decided by law, in some Catholic countries, that persons coming to reside therein shall enjoy the public exercise of their own peculiar worship (12).


Moreover, it is false that the civil liberty of every form of worship, and the full power, given to all, of overtly and publicly manifesting any opinions whatsoever and thoughts, conduce more easily to corrupt the morals and minds of the people, and to propagate the pest of indifferentism (18).


The Roman Pontiff can, and ought to, reconcile himself, and come to terms with progress, liberalism and modern civilization (24).


List of Pius IX Acts from which the Syllabus was made:

1. Qui pluribus, 9 XI 1846 [ad propos. 4–7, 16, 40, 63], [w:] Pii IX P. M. Acta, Rome 1856, prima pars, vol. I, s. 4–24.

2. Allocution Quisque vestrum, 4 X 1847 [ad 63], [w:] Pii IX P. M. Acta, 1/I, 64–69.

3. Allocution Ubi primum, 17 XII 1847 [ad 16], [w:] Pii IX P. M. Acta, 1/I, 70–77.

4. Allocution Quibus quantisque, 20 IV 1849 [ad 40, 64, 76], [w:] Pii IX P. M. Acta, 1/I, 167–194.

5. Noscitis et nobiscum, 8 XII 1849 [ad 18, 63], [w:] Pii IX P. M. Acta, 1/I, 198–223.

6. Allocution Si semper antea, 20 V 1850 [ad 76], [w:] Pii IX P. M. Acta, 1/I, 224–234.

7. Allocution In consistoriali, 1 XI 1850 [ad 43–45], [w:] Pii IX P. M. Acta, 1/I, 251–261.

8. Letter Multiplices inter, 10 VI 1851 [damnans opus Franc. G. Vigil, Defensa de la autoridad de los gobiernos y de los obispos contra las pretensiones de la curia Romana (Lima 1848) – ad 15, 21, 23, 30, 51, 54, 68], [w:] Pii IX P. M. Acta, 1/I, 280–284.

9. Letter Ad apostolicae sedis, 22 VIII 1851 [damnans duo opera Joh. Nep. Nuytz: Iuris ecclesiastici institutiones (Tn. 1844); In ius eccl. universum tractationes; Prolegomena: De rebus; De matrimonio; De personis (Tn. 1846; 1847; 1848; 1850) – ad 24n, 34–36, 38, 41n, 65–67, 69–75], [w:] Pii IX P. M. Acta, 1/I, 285–292.

10. Allocution Quibus luctuosissimis, 5 IX 1851 [ad 45], [w:] Pii IX P. M. Acta, 1/I, 293–302.

11. Lettera al Re di Sardegna, 9 IX 1852 [ad 73].

12. Allocution Acerbissimum, 27 IX 1852 [ad 31, 51, 53, 55, 67, 73n, 78], [w:] Pii IX P. M. Acta, 1/I, 383–395.

13. Allocution Singulari quadam, 9 XII 1854 [ad 8, 17, 19], [w:] Pii IX P. M. Acta, 1/I, 620–631.

14. Allocution Probe memineritis, 22 I 1855 [ad 53], [w:] Pii IX P. M. Acta, 1/II, 5–8.

15. Allocution Cum saepe, 26 VII 1855 [ad 53], [w:] Pii IX P. M. Acta, 1/II, 436–440.

16. Allocution Nemo vestrum, 26 VII 1855 [ad 77], [w:] Pii IX P. M. Acta, 1/II, 441–458.

17. Singulari quidem, 17 III 1856 [ad 4, 16], [w:] Pii IX P. M. Acta, 1/II, 510–530.

18. Allocution Numquam fore, 15 XII 1856 [ad 26, 28n, 31, 46, 50, 52, 79], [w:] Pii IX P. M. Acta, 1/II, 538–549.

19. Letter Eximiam tuam ad archiep. Colon., 15 VI 1857 [ad 14], [w:] Pii IX P. M. Acta, 1/II, 585–590.

20. Letter Cum catholica Ecclesia, 26 III 1860 [ad 63, 76], [w:] Pii IX P. M. Acta, 1/III, 137–147.

21. Letter Dolore haud mediocri ad episc. Vratislav., 30 IV 1860 [ad 14].

22. Allocution Novos et ante, 28 IX 1860 [ad 19, 62, 76], [w:] Pii IX P. M. Acta, 1/III, 180–189.

23. Allocution Multis gravibusque, 17 XII 1860 [ad 37, 43, 73], [w:] Pii IX P. M. Acta, 1/III, 206–215.

24. Allocution Iamdudum cernimus, 18 III 1861 [ad 37, 61, 76, 80].

25. Allocution Meminit unusquisque, 30 IX 1861 [ad 20], [w:] Pii IX P. M. Acta, 1/III, 281–287.

26. Allocution Maxima quidem, 9 VI 1862 [ad 1–7, 15, 19, 27, 39, 44, 49, 56–60, 76], [w:] Pii IX P. M. Acta, 1/III, 451–461.

27. Letter Gravissimas inter ad archiep. Monaco-Frising., 11 XII 1862 [ad 9–11], [w:] Pii IX P. M. Acta, 1/III, 548–556.

28. Quanto conficiamur, 10 VIII 1863 [ad 17, 58 ], [w:] Pii IX P. M. Acta, 1/III, 609–621.

29. Incredibili afflictamur, 17 IX 1863 [ad 26], [w:] Pii IX P. M. Acta, 1/III, 622–628.

30. Letter Tuas libenter ad archiep. Monaco-Frising., 22 XII 1863 [ad 9n, 12–14, 22, 33], [w:] Pii IX P. M. Acta, 1/III, 636–645.

31. Letter Quum non sine ad archiep. Friburg., 14 VII 1864 [ad 47n], [w:] Pii IX P. M. Acta, 1/III, 650–656.

32. Letter Singularis nobisque ad episc. Montisregalem, 29 IX 1864 [ad 32].