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Against Modernism

Against Novelty / Novel Doctrine

Also Try... 

Modernism (Topic Page)

On The Doctrines Of The Modernists (Pascendi Dominici Gregis), Pope St. Pius X, 1907  

Syllabus Condemning The Errors Of The Modernists (Lamentabili Sane), Pope St. Pius X, 1907

The Oath Against Modernism (Sacrorum Antistitum), Pope St. Pius X, 1910

The Syllabus Of Errors Condemned By Pope Pius IX (Syllabus Errorum), Pope Pius IX, 1864  

Classic Encyclicals: Errors / Modernism

Against Religious Indifferentism (Coming Home Reflections)

Against Religious Liberty (Coming Home Reflections)

Church Dogmas Are Unchangeable (Catholic Life Reflections)

Unchangeableness of Dogmas 

Duty to Reject Strange Doctrine (Coming Home Reflections)

Error / Truth (Coming Home Reflections)

Heresy/Heretics & Schism/Schismatics (Coming Home Reflections)

Overcoming Heresy, Schism, & Error (Resources)

Latin Mass & Catholic Tradition: Q & A

Necessity of Being Catholic for Salvation

Current Issues


Against Modernism

Also See: Modernism (Topic Page)

"No, truly, there is no road which leads so directly and so quickly to Modernism as pride." (Pope St. Pius X, "Pascendi Dominici Gregis", 1907 A.D.)

"Certainly this suffices to show superabundantly by how many roads Modernism leads to the annihilation of all religion. The first step in this direction was taken by Protestantism; the second is made by Modernism; the next will plunge headlong into atheism." (Pope St. Pius X, "Pascendi Dominici Gregis", 1907 A.D.)

"Whether it is ignorance or fear, or both, that inspires this conduct in them, certain it is that the passion for novelty is always united in them with hatred of scholasticism, and there is no surer sign that a man is on the way to Modernism than when he begins to show his dislike for this system." (Pope St. Pius X, "Pascendi Dominici Gregis", 1907 A.D.)

"Such, Venerable Brethren, is a summary description of the apologetic method of the Modernists, in perfect harmony, as you may see, with their doctrines - methods and doctrines brimming over with errors, made not for edification but for destruction, not for the formation of Catholics but for the plunging of Catholics into heresy; methods and doctrines that would be fatal to any religion." (Pope St. Pius X, "Pascendi Dominici Gregis", 1907 A.D.)

"Their articles to delude men's minds are of two kinds, the first to remove obstacles from their path, the second to devise and apply actively and patiently every instrument that can serve their purpose. [Modernists] recognize that the three chief difficulties for them are scholastic philosophy, the authority of the fathers and tradition, and the magisterium of the Church, and on these they wage unrelenting war." (Pope St. Pius X, "Pascendi Dominici Gregis", 1907 A.D.)

"Blind that they are, and leaders of the blind, inflated with a boastful science, [Modernists] have reached that pitch of folly where they pervert the eternal concept of truth and the true nature of the religious sentiment; with that new system of theirs they are seen to be under the sway of a blind and unchecked passion for novelty, thinking not at all of finding some solid foundation of truth, but despising the holy and apostolic traditions, they embrace other vain, futile, uncertain doctrines, condemned by the Church, on which, in the height of their vanity, they think they can rest and maintain truth itself." (Pope St. Pius X, "Pascendi Dominici Gregis", 1907 A.D.)

"To finish with this whole question of faith and its various branches, it remains to be seen, Venerable Brethren, what the Modernists have to say about their development. First of all they lay down the general principle that in a living religion everything is subject to change, and must change, and in this way they pass to what may be said to be, among the chief of their doctrines, that of Evolution. To the laws of evolution everything is subject - dogma, Church, worship, the Books we revere as sacred, even faith itself, and the penalty of disobedience is death. The enunciation of this principle will not astonish anybody who bears in mind what the Modernists have had to say about each of these subjects." (Pope St. Pius X, "Pascendi Dominici Gregis", 1907 A.D.)

"And here we have already some of the artifices employed by Modernists to exploit their wares. What efforts they make to win new recruits! They seize upon chairs in the seminaries and universities, and gradually make of them chairs of pestilence. From these sacred chairs they scatter, though not always openly, the seeds of their doctrines; they proclaim their teachings without disguise in congresses; they introduce them and make them the vogue in social institutions. Under their own names and under pseudonyms they publish numbers of books, newspapers, reviews, and sometimes one and the same writer adopts a variety of pseudonyms to trap the incautious reader into believing in a whole multitude of Modernist writers - in short they leave nothing untried, in action, discourses, writings, as though there were a frenzy of propaganda upon them." (Pope St. Pius X, "Pascendi Dominici Gregis", 1907 A.D.)

"All this, Venerable Brothers, is in formal opposition with the teachings of Our Predecessor, Pius IX, where he lays it down that: 'In matters of religion it is the duty of philosophy not to command but to serve, but not to prescribe what is to be believed but to embrace what is to be believed with reasonable obedience, not to scrutinize the depths of the mysteries of God but to venerate them devoutly and humbly.' The Modernists completely invert the parts, and to them may be applied the words of another Predecessor of Ours, Gregory IX, addressed to some theologians of his time: 'Some among you, inflated like bladders with the spirit of vanity strive by profane novelties to cross the boundaries fixed by the Fathers, twisting the sense of the heavenly the philosophical teaching of the rationals, not for the profit of their hearer but to make a show of science...these, seduced by strange and eccentric doctrines, make the head of the tail and force the queen to serve the handmaid.'" (Pope St. Pius X, "Pascendi Dominici Gregis", 1907 A.D.)

"Finally, I declare that I am completely opposed to the error of the modernists who hold that there is nothing divine in sacred tradition; or what is far worse, say that there is, but in a pantheistic sense, with the result that there would remain nothing but this plain simple fact - one to be put on a par with the ordinary facts of history - the fact, namely, that a group of men by their own labor, skill, and talent have continued through subsequent ages a school begun by Christ and his apostles. I firmly hold, then, and shall hold to my dying breath the belief of the Fathers in the charism of truth, which certainly is, was, and always will be in the succession of the episcopacy from the apostles. The purpose of this is, then, not that dogma may be tailored according to what seems better and more suited to the culture of each age; rather, that the absolute and immutable truth preached by the apostles from the beginning may never be believed to be different, may never be understood in any other way." (Pope St. Pius X, Oath Against Modernism, 1910 A.D.)

"But since the Modernists (as they are commonly and rightly called) employ a very clever artifice, namely, to present their doctrines without order and systematic arrangement into one whole, scattered and disjointed one from another, so as to appear to be in doubt and uncertainty, while they are in reality firm and steadfast, it will be of advantage, Venerable Brethren, to bring their teachings together here into one group, and to point out the connection between them, and thus to pass to an examination of the sources of the errors, and to prescribe remedies for averting the evil... To proceed in an orderly manner in this recondite subject, it must first of all be noted that every Modernist sustains and comprises within himself many personalities; he is a philosopher, a believer, a theologian, an historian, a critic, an apologist, a reformer. These roles must be clearly distinguished from one another by all who would accurately know their system and thoroughly comprehend the principles and the consequences of their doctrines." (Pope St. Pius X, "Pascendi Dominici Gregis", 1907 A.D.)

"We decree, therefore, that in every diocese a council of this kind, which We are pleased to name 'the Council of Vigilance,' be instituted without delay. The priests called to form part in it shall be chosen somewhat after the manner above prescribed for the Censors, and they shall meet every two months on an appointed day under the presidency of the Bishop. They shall be bound to secrecy as to their deliberations and decisions, and their function shall be as follows: They shall watch most carefully for every trace and sign of Modernism both in publications and in teaching, and, to preserve from it the clergy and the young, they shall take all prudent, prompt and efficacious measures. Let them combat novelties of words remembering the admonitions of Leo XIII: 'It is impossible to approve in Catholic publications of a style inspired by unsound novelty which seems to deride the piety of the faithful and dwells on the introduction of a new order of Christian life, on new directions of the Church, on new aspirations of the modern soul, on a new vocation of the clergy, on a new Christian civilization.'... Finally, We entrust to the Councils of Vigilance the duty of overlooking assiduously and diligently social institutions as well as writings on social questions so that they may harbor no trace of Modernism, but obey the prescriptions of the Roman Pontiffs." (Pope St. Pius X, "Pascendi Dominici Gregis", 1907 A.D.)

"It may be, Venerable Brethren, that some may think We have dwelt too long on this exposition of the doctrines of the Modernists. But it was necessary, both in order to refute their customary charge that We do not understand their ideas, and to show that their system does not consist in scattered and unconnected theories but in a perfectly organized body, all the parts of which are solidly joined so that it is not possible to admit one without admitting all. For this reason, too, We have had to give this exposition a somewhat didactic form and not to shrink from employing certain uncouth terms in use among the Modernists. And now, can anybody who takes a survey of the whole system be surprised that We should define it as the synthesis of all heresies? Were one to attempt the task of collecting together all the errors that have been broached against the faith and to concentrate the sap and substance of them all into one, he could not better succeed than the Modernists have done. Nay, they have done more than this, for, as we have already intimated, their system means the destruction not of the Catholic religion alone but of all religion. With good reason do the rationalists applaud them, for the most sincere and the frankest among the rationalists warmly welcome the modernists as their most valuable allies." (Pope St. Pius X, "Pascendi Dominici Gregis", 1907 A.D.)

"Moreover, in order to check the daily increasing audacity of many modernists who are endeavoring by all kinds of sophistry and devices to detract from the force and efficacy not only of the decree 'Lamentabili sane exitu' (the so-called Syllabus), issued by our order by the Holy Roman and Universal Inquisition on July 3 of the present year, but also of our encyclical letters 'Pascendi dominici gregis' given on September 8 of this same year, we do by our apostolic authority repeat and confirm both that decree of the Supreme Sacred Congregation and those encyclical letters of ours, adding the penalty of excommunication against their contradictors, and this we declare and decree that should anybody, which may God forbid, be so rash as to defend any one of the propositions, opinions or teachings condemned in these documents he falls, ipso facto, under the censure contained under the chapter 'Docentes' of the constitution 'Apostolicae Sedis,' which is the first among the excommunications latae sententiae, simply reserved to the Roman Pontiff. This excommunication is to be understood as salvis poenis, which may be incurred by those who have violated in any way the said documents, as propagators and defenders of heresies, when their propositions, opinions and teachings are heretical, as has happened more than once in the case of the adversaries of both these documents, especially when they advocate the errors of the modernists that is, the synthesis of all heresies." (Pope St. Pius X, "Praestantia Scripturae", 1907 A.D.)

"How far off we are here from Catholic teaching we have already seen in the decree of the [First] Vatican Council. We shall see later how, with such theories, added to the other errors already mentioned, the way is opened wide for atheism. Here it is well to note at once that, given this doctrine of experience united with the other doctrine of symbolism, every religion, even that of paganism, must be held to be true [by the Modernists]. What is to prevent such experiences from being met within every religion? In fact that they are to be found is asserted by not a few. And with what right will Modernists deny the truth of an experience affirmed by a follower of Islam? With what right can they claim true experiences for Catholics alone? Indeed Modernists do not deny but actually admit, some confusedly, others in the most open manner, that all religions are true. That they cannot feel otherwise is clear. For on what ground, according to their theories, could falsity be predicated of any religion whatsoever? It must be certainly on one of these two: either on account of the falsity of the religious sentiment or on account of the falsity of the formula pronounced by the mind. Now the religious sentiment, although it may be more perfect or less perfect, is always one and the same; and the intellectual formula, in order to be true, has but to respond to the religious sentiment and to the Believer, whatever be the intellectual capacity of the latter. In the conflict between different religions, the most that Modernists can maintain is that the Catholic has more truth because it is more living and that it deserves with more reason the name of Christian because it corresponds more fully with the origins of Christianity." (Pope St. Pius X, "Pascendi Dominici Gregis", 1907 A.D.)

"This becomes still clearer to anybody who studies the conduct of Modernists, which is in perfect harmony with their teachings. In the writings and addresses they seem not infrequently to advocate now one doctrine now another so that one would be disposed to regard them as vague and doubtful. But there is a reason for this, and it is to be found in their ideas as to the mutual separation of science and faith. Hence in their books you find some things which might well be expressed by a Catholic, but in the next page you find other things which might have been dictated by a rationalist. When they write history they make no mention of the divinity of Christ, but when they are in the pulpit they profess it clearly; again, when they write history they pay no heed to the Fathers and the Councils, but when they catechise the people, they cite them respectfully. In the same way they draw their distinctions between theological and pastoral exegesis and scientific and historical exegesis. So, too, acting on the principle that science in no way depends upon faith, when they treat of philosophy, history, criticism, feeling no horror at treading in the footsteps of Luther, they are wont to display a certain contempt for Catholic doctrines, or the Holy Fathers, for the Ecumenical Councils, for the ecclesiastical magisterium; and should they be rebuked for this, they complain that they are being deprived of their liberty. Lastly, guided by the theory that faith must be subject to science, they continuously and openly criticize the Church because of her sheer obstinacy in refusing to submit and accommodate her dogmas to the opinions of philosophy; while they, on their side, after having blotted out the old theology, endeavor to introduce a new theology which shall follow the vagaries of their philosophers." (Pope St. Pius X, "Pascendi Dominici Gregis", 1907 A.D.)

"Thus then, Venerable Brethren, for the Modernists, both as authors and propagandists, there is to be nothing stable, nothing immutable in the Church. Nor indeed are they without precursors in their doctrines, for it was of these that Our Predecessor Pius IX wrote: 'These enemies of divine revelation extol human progress to the skies, and with rash and sacrilegious daring would have it introduced into the Catholic religion as if this religion were not the work of God but of man, or some kind of philosophical discovery susceptible of perfection by human efforts.' On the subject of revelation and dogma in particular, the doctrine of the Modernists offers nothing new - we find it condemned in the Syllabus of Pius IX, where it is enunciated in these terms: 'Divine revelation is imperfect, and therefore subject to continual and indefinite progress, corresponding with the progress of human reason'; and condemned still more solemnly in the [First] Vatican Council: 'The doctrine of the faith which God has revealed has not been proposed to human intelligences to be perfected by them as if it were a philosophical system, but as a divine deposit entrusted to the Spouse of Christ to be faithfully guarded and infallibly interpreted. Hence the sense, too, of the sacred dogmas is that which our Holy Mother the Church has once declared, nor is this sense ever to be abandoned on plea or pretext of a more profound comprehension of the truth'. Nor is the development of our knowledge, even concerning the faith, impeded by this pronouncement - on the contrary it is aided and promoted. For the same Council continues: 'Let intelligence and science and wisdom, therefore, increase and progress abundantly and vigorously in individuals and in the mass, in the believer and in the whole Church, throughout the ages and the centuries - but only in its own kind, that is, according to the same dogma, the same sense, the same acceptation.'" (Pope St. Pius X, "Pascendi Dominici Gregis", 1907 A.D.)

"Again, if we are to avoid the errors which are the source and fountain-head of all the miseries of our time, the teaching of Aquinas must be adhered to more religiously than ever. For Thomas refutes the theories propounded by Modernists in every sphere, in philosophy, by protecting, as We have reminded you, the force and power of the human mind and by demonstrating the existence of God by the most cogent arguments; in dogmatic theology, by distinguishing the supernatural from the natural order and explaining the reasons for belief and the dogmas themselves; in theology, by showing that the articles of faith are not based upon mere opinion but upon truth and therefore cannot possibly change; in exegesis, by transmitting the true conception of divine inspiration; in the science of morals, in sociology and law, by laying down sound principles of legal and social, commutative and distributive, justice and explaining the relations between justice and charity; in the theory of asceticism, by his precepts concerning the perfection of the Christian life and his confutation of the enemies of the religious orders in his own day. Lastly, against the much vaunted liberty of the human reason and its independence in regard to God he asserts the rights of primary Truth and the authority over us of the Supreme Master. It is therefore clear why Modernists are so amply justified in fearing no Doctor of the Church so much as Thomas Aquinas. Accordingly, just as it was said to the Egyptians of old in time of famine: 'Go to Joseph,' so that they should receive a supply of corn from him to nourish their bodies, so We now say to all such as are desirous of the truth: 'Go to Thomas,' and ask him to give you from his ample store the food of substantial doctrine wherewith to nourish your souls unto eternal life. Evidence that such food is ready to hand and accessible to all men was given on oath at the hearing of the case for the canonization of Thomas himself, in the following words: 'Innumerable secular and religious masters flourished under the lucid and limpid teaching of this Doctor, because his method was concise, clear and easily followed...even laymen and persons of little instruction are eager to possess his writings'... Let everyone therefore inviolably observe the prescription contained in the Code of Canon Law that 'teachers shall deal with the studies of mental philosophy and theology and the education of their pupils in such sciences according to the method, doctrine and principles of the Angelic Doctor and religiously adhere thereto'; and may they conform to this rule so faithfully as to be able to describe him in very truth as their master." (Pope Pius XI, "Studiorum Ducem", 1923 A.D.)

"Still continuing the consideration of the evolution of doctrine, it is to be noted that Evolution is due no doubt to those stimulants styled needs, but, if left to their action alone, it would run a great risk of bursting the bounds of tradition, and thus, turned aside from its primitive vital principle, would lead to ruin instead of progress. Hence, studying more closely the ideas of the Modernists, evolution is described as resulting from the conflict of two forces, one of them tending towards progress, the other towards conservation. The conserving force in the Church is tradition, and tradition is represented by religious authority, and this both by right and in fact; for by right it is in the very nature of authority to protect tradition, and, in fact, for authority, raised as it is above the contingencies of life, feels hardly, or not at all, the spurs of progress. The progressive force, on the contrary, which responds to the inner needs lies in the individual consciences and ferments there - especially in such of them as are in most intimate contact with life. Note here, Venerable Brethren, the appearance already of that most pernicious doctrine which would make of the laity a factor of progress in the Church. Now it is by a species of compromise between the forces of conservation and of progress, that is to say between authority and individual consciences, that changes and advances take place. The individual consciences of some of them act on the collective conscience, which brings pressure to bear on the depositaries of authority, until the latter consent to a compromise, and, the pact being made, authority sees to its maintenance. With all this in mind, one understands how it is that the Modernists express astonishment when they are reprimanded or punished. What is imputed to them as a fault they regard as a sacred duty. Being in intimate contact with consciences they know better than anybody else, and certainly better than the ecclesiastical authority, what needs exist - nay, they embody them, so to speak, in themselves. Having a voice and a pen they use both publicly, for this is their duty. Let authority rebuke them as much as it pleases - they have their own conscience on their side and an intimate experience which tells them with certainty that what they deserve is not blame but praise. Then they reflect that, after all there is no progress without a battle and no battle without its victim, and victims they are willing to be like the prophets and Christ Himself. They have no bitterness in their hearts against the authority which uses them roughly, for after all it is only doing its duty as authority. Their sole grief is that it remains deaf to their warnings, for in this way it impedes the progress of souls, but the hour will most surely come when further delay will be impossible, for if the laws of evolution may be checked for a while, they cannot be finally evaded. And so they go their way, reprimands and condemnations notwithstanding, masking an incredible audacity under a mock semblance of humility. While they make a show of bowing their heads, their hands and minds are more intent than ever on carrying out their purposes. And this policy they follow willingly and wittingly, both because it is part of their system that authority is to be stimulated but not dethroned, and because it is necessary for them to remain within the ranks of the Church in order that they may gradually transform the collective conscience - thus unconsciously avowing that the common conscience is not with them, and that they have no right to claim to be its interpreters." (Pope St. Pius X, "Pascendi Dominici Gregis", 1907 A.D.)

"But while they endeavor by this line of reasoning to secure access for the Catholic religion into souls, these new apologists are quite ready to admit that there are many distasteful things in it. Nay, they admit openly, and with ill-concealed satisfaction, that they have found that even its dogma is not exempt from errors and contradictions. They add also that this is not only excusable but - curiously enough - even right and proper. In the Sacred Books there are many passages referring to science or history where manifest errors are to be found. But the subject of these books is not science or history but religion and morals. In them history and science serve only as a species of covering to enable the religious and moral experiences wrapped up in them to penetrate more readily among the masses. The masses understood science and history as they are expressed in these books, and it is clear that had science and history been expressed in a more perfect form this would have proved rather a hindrance than a help. Then, again, the Sacred Books being essentially religious, are consequently necessarily living. Now life has its own truth and its own logic, belonging as they do to a different order, viz., truth of adaptation and of proportion both with the medium in which it exists and with the end towards which it tends. Finally the Modernists, losing all sense of control, go so far as to proclaim as true and legitimate everything that is explained by life. We, Venerable Brethren, for whom there is but one and only truth, and who hold that the Sacred Books, 'written under the inspiration of the Holy Ghost, have God for their author' declare that this is equivalent to attributing to God Himself the lie of utility or officious lie, and We say with St. Augustine: 'In an authority so high, admit but one officious lie, and there will not remain a single passage of those apparently difficult to practice or to believe, which on the same most pernicious rule may not be explained as a lie uttered by the author willfully and to serve a purpose'. And thus it will come about, the holy Doctor continues, that everybody will believe and refuse to believe what he likes or dislikes. But the Modernists pursue their way gaily. They grant also that certain arguments adduced in the Sacred Books, like those, for example, which are based on the prophecies, have no rational foundation to rest on. But they will defend even these as artifices of preaching, which are justified by life. Do they stop here? No, indeed, for they are ready to admit, nay, to proclaim that Christ Himself manifestly erred in determining the time when the coming of the Kingdom of God was to take place, and they tell us that we must not be surprised at this since even Christ was subject to the laws of life! After this what is to become of the dogmas of the Church? The dogmas brim over with flagrant contradictions, but what matter that since, apart from the fact that vital logic accepts them, they are not repugnant to symbolical truth. Are we not dealing with the infinite, and has not the infinite an infinite variety of aspects? In short, to maintain and defend these theories they do not hesitate to declare that the noblest homage that can be paid to the Infinite is to make it the object of contradictory propositions! But when they justify even contradiction, what is it that they will refuse to justify?" (Pope St. Pius X, "Pascendi Dominici Gregis", 1907 A.D.)

"It remains for Us now to say a few words about the Modernist as reformer. From all that has preceded, some idea may be gained of the reforming mania which possesses them: in all Catholicism there is absolutely nothing on which it does not fasten. Reform of philosophy, especially in the seminaries: the scholastic philosophy is to be relegated to the history of philosophy among obsolete systems, and the young men are to be taught modern philosophy which alone is true and suited to the times in which we live. Reform of theology; rational theology is to have modern philosophy for its foundation, and positive theology is to be founded on the history of dogma. As for history, it must be for the future written and taught only according to their modern methods and principles. Dogmas and their evolution are to be harmonized with science and history. In the Catechism no dogmas are to be inserted except those that have been duly reformed and are within the capacity of the people. Regarding worship, the number of external devotions is to be reduced, or at least steps must be taken to prevent their further increase, though, indeed, some of the admirers of symbolism are disposed to be more indulgent on this head. Ecclesiastical government requires to be reformed in all its branches, but especially in its disciplinary and dogmatic parts. Its spirit with the public conscience, which is not wholly for democracy; a share in ecclesiastical government should therefore be given to the lower ranks of the clergy, and even to the laity, and authority should be decentralized. The Roman Congregations, and especially the index and the Holy Office, are to be reformed. The ecclesiastical authority must change its line of conduct in the social and political world; while keeping outside political and social organization, it must adapt itself to those which exist in order to penetrate them with its spirit. With regard to morals, they adopt the principle of the Americanists, that the active virtues are more important than the passive, both in the estimation in which they must be held and in the exercise of them. The clergy are asked to return to their ancient lowliness and poverty, and in their ideas and action to be guided by the principles of Modernism; and there are some who, echoing the teaching of their Protestant masters, would like the suppression of ecclesiastical celibacy. What is there left in the Church which is not to be reformed according to their principles?" (Pope St. Pius X, "Pascendi Dominici Gregis", 1907 A.D.)

"These moderns, forever prattling about culture and civilization, are undermining the Church's doctrine, laws, and practices. They are not concerned very much about culture and civilization. By using such high-sounding words they think they can conceal the wickedness of their schemes. All of you know their purpose, subterfuges, and methods. On Our part We have denounced and condemned their scheming. They are proposing a universal apostasy even worse than the one that threatened the age of [St. Charles Borromeo]. It is worse, We say, because it stealthily creeps into the very veins of the Church, hides there, and cunningly pushes erroneous principles to their ultimate conclusions. Both these heresies are fathered by the 'enemy' who 'sowed weeds among the wheat' in order to bring about the downfall of mankind. Both revolts go about in the hidden ways of darkness, develop along the same line, and come to an end in the same fatal way. In the past the first apostasy turned where fortune seemed to smile. It set rulers against people or people against rulers only to lead both classes to destruction. Today this modern apostasy stirs up hatred between the poor and the rich until, dissatisfied with their station, they gradually fall into such wretched ways that they must pay the fine imposed on those who, absorbed in worldly, temporal things, forget 'the kingdom of God and His justice.' As a matter of fact, this present conflict is even more serious than the others. Although the wild innovators of former times generally preserved some fragments of the treasury of revealed doctrine, these moderns act as if they will not rest until they completely destroy it. When the foundations of religion are overthrown, the restraints of civil society are also necessarily shattered. Behold the sad spectacle of our times! Behold the impending danger of the future! However, it is no danger to the Church, for the divine promise leaves no room for doubt. Rather, this revolution threatens the family and nations, especially those who actively stir up or indifferently tolerate this unhealthy atmosphere of irreligion. This impious and foolish war is waged and sometimes supported by those who should be the first to come to Our aid. The errors appear in many forms and the enticements of vice wear different dresses. Both cause many even among our own ranks to be ensnared, seducing them by the appearance of novelty and doctrine, or the illusion that the Church will accept the maxims of the age. Venerable Brethren, you are well aware that we must vigorously resist and repel the enemy's attacks with the very weapons Borromeo used in his day. Since they attack the very root of faith either by openly denying, hypocritically undermining, or misrepresenting revealed doctrine, we should above all recall the truth Charles often taught. 'The primary and most important duty of pastors is to guard everything pertaining to the integral and inviolate maintenance of the Catholic Faith, the faith which the Holy Roman Church professes and teaches, without which it is impossible to please God'. Again: 'In this matter no diligence can be too great to fulfill the certain demands of our office'. We must therefore use sound doctrine to withstand 'the leaven of heretical depravity,' which if not repressed, will corrupt the whole. That is to say, we must oppose these erroneous opinions now deceitfully being scattered abroad, which, when taken all together, are called Modernism." (Pope St. Pius X, "Editae Saepe", 1910 A.D.)

Also See: Against Novelty / Novel Doctrine | Modernism / Novelties (Q &A) | Against Human 'Progress' in Religion (Coming Home Reflections) | Popes as Preservers of Tradition / Against New Doctrines (Vatican View Reflections) | Unchangeableness of Dogmas | Duty to Reject Strange Doctrine (Coming Home Reflections) | Modernists / Scripture (Scripture Reflections) | Classic Encyclicals: Errors / Modernism | Tradition / Traditions | Also see links at top of page (or click here)

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Against Novelty / Novel Doctrine

Also See: Modernism (Topic Page)

"But there are some who are disturbing you and wish to pervert the gospel of Christ. But even if we or an angel from heaven should preach (to you) a gospel other than the one that we preached to you, let that one be accursed! As we have said before, and now I say again, if anyone preaches to you a gospel other than the one that you received, let that one be accursed! Am I now currying favor with human beings or God? Or am I seeking to please people? If I were still trying to please people, I would not be a slave of Christ. Now I want you to know, brothers, that the gospel preached by me is not of human origin. For I did not receive it from a human being, nor was I taught it, but it came through a revelation of Jesus Christ." (St. Paul, Gal. 1:7-12)

"O Timothy, 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. Grace be with thee. Amen." (St. Paul, 1 Tm. 6:20-21)

"Remember your leaders who spoke the word of God to you. Consider the outcome of their way of life and imitate their faith. Jesus Christ is the same yesterday, today, and forever. Do not be carried away by all kinds of strange teaching." (St. Paul, Heb. 13:7-9)

"There were also false prophets among the people, just as there will be false teachers among you, who will introduce destructive heresies and even deny the Master who ransomed them, bringing swift destruction on themselves. Many will follow their licentious ways, and because of them the way of truth will be reviled. In their greed they will exploit you with fabrications, but from of old their condemnation has not been idle and their destruction does not sleep." (St. Peter, 2 Pt. 2:1-3)

"Anyone who is so 'progressive' as not to remain in the teaching of the Christ does not have God; whoever remains in the teaching has the Father and the Son. If anyone comes to you and does not bring this doctrine, do not receive him in your house or even greet him; for whoever greets him shares in his evil works." (St. John, 2 Jn. 1:9-11)

"Let them innovate in nothing, but keep the traditions." (Pope Saint Stephen, c. 254-257)

"When one lives by novelty, there will always have to be a new novelty." (Archbishop Fulton Sheen)

"[P]resumptuous innovations arise from vainglory." (Pope St. Gregory the Great, Doctor of the Church)

"Far, far from the clergy be the love of novelty!" (Pope St. Pius X, "Pascendi Dominici Gregis", 1907 A.D.)

"[I]n the sixteenth century...a fatal novelty of opinions infatuated many" (Pope Leo XIII, "Diuturnum", 1881 A.D.)

"Do you see how the desire of novelty, with its attendant error, lands you in great difficulties?" (St. Augustine, Doctor of the Church)

"[I]t is well known that to the Church there belongs no right whatsoever to innovate anything touching on the substance of the sacraments" (Pope St. Pius X, "Ex quo", 1910 A.D.)

"...we believe also that those who introduce these novel doctrines must be punished lest they become too harmful." (Council of Valence III, 855 A.D.)

"It is not permitted to produce or write or compose any other creed except the one which was defined by the holy fathers who were gathered together in the Holy Spirit at Nicaea." (Council of Ephesus, 431 A.D.)

"We resolved to discuss these things so that, with the errors of those men revealed, it might become known where the wicked passion for introducing novelties into the Church might lead." (Pope Gregory XVI, "Quo Graviora", 1833 A.D.)

"We knew then that novelties were being introduced in the Catholic Church which are contrary to its teaching and discipline and which lead to the destruction of souls. We cannot allow this in any way." (Pope Gregory XVI, "Commissum Divinitus", 1835 A.D.)

"Therefore, since these have been arranged by us with all possible care and diligence, the holy and ecumenical synod has declared that no one is allowed to profess or in any case to write up or to compose or to devise or to teach others a different faith." (Council of Chalcedon, 451 A.D.)

"If anyone says that it is possible that at some time, given the advancement of knowledge, a sense may be assigned to the dogmas propounded by the Church which is different from that which the Church has understood and understands: let him be anathema." (First Vatican Council)

Error CONDEMNED by Pope St. Pius X in "Lamentabili": "The Church's interpretation of the Sacred Books is by no means to be rejected; nevertheless, it is subject to the more accurate judgment and correction of the exegetes." (Pope St. Pius X, This proposition was condemned in "Lamentabili", 1907 A.D.) 

Error CONDEMNED by Pope Pius IX in the Syllabus of Errors: "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." (Bl. Pope Pius IX, This proposition was condemned in the Syllabus of Errors, Dec. 8, 1864 A.D.) 

Error CONDEMNED by Pope St. Pius X in "Lamentabili": "Christ did not teach a defined body of doctrine applicable to all times and to all men, but rather began a religious movement adapted, or to be adapted to different times and places." (Pope St. Pius X, This proposition was condemned in "Lamentabili", 1907 A.D.) 

"The Holy Spirit was not promised to the successor of Peter that by the revelation of the Holy Spirit they might disclose new doctrine, but that by His help they might guard sacredly the revelation transmitted through the Apostles and the deposit of faith, and might faithfully set it forth." (First Vatican Council)

"Hence Our Predecessor of immortal memory, Pius IX, teaching that the most noble office of theology is to show how a doctrine defined by the Church is contained in the sources of revelation, added these words, and with very good reason: 'in that sense in which it has been defined by the Church.'" (Pope Pius XII, "Humani Generis", 1950 A.D.)

"You are already aware that among priests, especially those less equipped with doctrine and of less strict lives, a certain spirit of novelty is being diffused in an ever graver and more disturbing manner. Novelty is never in itself a criterion of truth and it can be worthy of praise only when it confirms the truth and leads to righteousness and virtue." (Pope Pius XII, "Menti Nostrae", 1950 A.D.) 

"But for the other painful causes We are concerned about, you should recall that certain societies and assemblages seem to draw up a battle line together with the followers of every false religion and cult. They feign piety for religion; but they are driven by a passion for promoting novelties and sedition everywhere. They preach liberty of every sort; they stir up disturbances in sacred and civil affairs, and [destroy authority]." (Pope Gregory XVI, "Mirari Vos", 1832 A.D.) 

"We observe with considerable anxiety and some misgiving, that elsewhere certain enthusiasts, over-eager in their search for novelty, are straying beyond the path of sound doctrine and prudence. Not seldom, in fact, they interlard their plans and hopes for a revival of the sacred liturgy with principles which compromise this holiest of causes in theory or practice, and sometimes even taint it with errors touching Catholic faith and ascetical doctrine." (Pope Pius XII, "Mediator Dei", 1947 A.D.) 

"What else do those preachers of another gospel than that which we have received try to do, but to corrupt us from the purity which we preserve for Christ, when they stigmatize the law of God as old, and praise their own falsehoods as new, as if all that is new must be good, and all that is old bad? The Apostle John, however, praises the old commandment, and the Apostle Paul bids us avoid novelties in doctrine." (St. Augustine, Doctor of the Church)

"Wherefore, let us also, considering that this struggle is for our all, and that the choice is now before us, either to deny or to preserve the faith, let us also make it our earnest care and aim to guard what we have received, taking as our instruction the Confession drawn up at Nicaea, and let us turn away from novelties, and teach our people not to give heed to seducing spirits,' but altogether to withdraw from the impiety of the [heretics]" (St. Athanasius, Doctor of the Church)

"Therefore, it is obviously absurd and injurious to propose a certain 'restoration and regeneration' for [the Church] as though necessary for her safety and growth, as if she could be considered subject to defect or obscuration or other misfortune. Indeed these authors of novelties consider that a 'foundation may be laid of a new human institution,' and what Cyprian detested may come to pass, that what was a divine thing 'may become a human church.'" (Pope Gregory XVI, "Mirari Vos", 1832 A.D.)

"But the evil one never stops trying to smother the seeds of religion with his own tares and is for ever inventing some novelty or other against the truth; so the Master, exercising his usual care for the human race, roused this religious and most faithful emperor to zealous action, and summoned to himself the leaders of the priesthood from everywhere, so that through the working of the grace of Christ, the master of all of us, every injurious falsehood might be staved off from the sheep of Christ and they might be fattened on fresh growths of the truth." (Council of Chalcedon)

"However, although We have found that Catholic doctors in general are on their guard against those errors, yet it is well established that there are not lacking today, just as in apostolic times, those who, in their extreme zeal for novelty and also in their fear of being held ignorant of those matters which the science of a progressive age has introduced, strive to withdraw themselves from the temperateness of the sacred magisterium; and thus they become involved in the danger of gradually and imperceptibly departing from the truth revealed by God, and of leading others into error along with themselves." (Pope Pius XII, "Humani Generis", 1950 A.D.)

"With truly lamentable results, our age, casting aside all restraint in its search for the ultimate causes of things, frequently pursues novelties so ardently that it rejects the legacy of the human race. Thus it falls into very serious errors, which are even more serious when they concern sacred authority, the interpretation of Sacred Scripture and the principal mysteries of Faith... In the name of higher knowledge and historical research (they say), they are looking for that progress of dogmas which is, in reality, nothing but the corruption of dogmas." (Pope St. Pius X, "Lamentabili Sane", 1907 A.D.)

"Those, therefore, who dare to think or to teach otherwise or to spurn according to wretched heretics the ecclesiastical traditions and to invent anything novel, or to reject anything from these things which have been consecrated by the Church: either the Gospel or the figure of the Cross, or the (representational) picture, or the sacred relics of the martyr; or to invent perversely and cunningly for the overthrow of any one of the legitimate traditions of the Catholic Church; or even, as it were, to use the sacred vessels or the venerable monasteries as common things; if indeed they are bishops or clerics, we order (them) to be deposed; monks, however, or laymen, to be excommunicated." (Second Council of Nicaea, 787 A.D.)

"But this alone is not the most grievous cause for mourning. For in addition to those who, to the scandal of all Catholics, have given themselves over to the enemy, to add to our bitter sorrow we see some entering even into the study of theology who, through a desire and passion for novelty 'ever learning and never attaining to the knowledge of the truth' [2 Tim. 3:7], are teachers of error, because they have not been disciples of truth. In fact, they infect sacred studies with strange and unapproved doctrines, and they do not hesitate to profane even the office of teacher, if they hold a position in the schools and academies; they are known to falsify the most sacred deposit of faith itself, while boasting that they are protecting it" (Pope Gregory XVI, 1835 A.D.)

"Certainly this teaching authority of the Church, not by any merely human effort but under the protection of the Spirit of Truth, and therefore absolutely without error, carries out the commission entrusted to it, that of preserving the revealed truths pure and entire throughout every age, in such a way that it presents them undefiled, adding nothing to them and taking nothing away from them. For, as the [First] Vatican Council teaches, 'the Holy Spirit was not promised to the successors of Peter in such a way that, by his revelation, they might manifest new doctrine, but so that, by his assistance, they might guard as sacred and might faithfully propose the revelation delivered through the apostles, or the deposit of faith.'" (Pope Pius XII, "Munificentissimus Deus", 1950 A.D.)

"We hope to kindle your zeal and solicitude as much as We can with the help of God, so that you may diligently protect your flock from the true causes of your past troubles. Watch earnestly lest deceitful men and the promoters of novelties continue to spread erroneous doctrines and false dogmas in your flock. Using the pretext of the common good, as is their custom, they take advantage of the credulity of those who are naive and rash, so that they may have them as blind servants and supporters in disturbing the peace of the kingdom and in overturning the order of society. Surely the fraud of these would-be teachers must be uncovered in clear words for the good and the instruction of the faithful. The fallacy of their thought must be refuted courageously everywhere with the words of divine scripture and the testimony of Church tradition." (Pope Gregory XVI, "Cum Primum", 1832 A.D.)

"For the doctrine of the faith which God has revealed is put forward not as some philosophical discovery capable of being perfected by human intelligence, but as a divine deposit committed to the spouse of Christ to be faithfully protected and infallibly promulgated. Hence, too, that meaning of the sacred dogmas is ever to be maintained which has once been declared by Holy Mother Church, and there must never be any abandonment of this sense under the pretext or in the name of a more profound understanding. May understanding, knowledge and wisdom increase as ages and centuries roll along, and greatly and vigorously flourish, in each and all, in the individual and the whole church: but this only in its own proper kind, that is to say, in the same doctrine, the same sense, and the same understanding." (First Vatican Council)

"These things, therefore, having been determined by us with all caution and diligence, we declare that no one is permitted to introduce, or to describe, or to compare, or to study, or otherwise to teach another faith. But whoever presumes to compare or to introduce or to teach or to pass on another creed to those wishing to turn from the belief of the Gentiles or of the Jews or from any heresy whatsoever to the acknowledgement of truth, or who (presumes) to introduce a novel doctrine or an invention of discourse to the subversion of those things which now have been determined by us, (we declare) these, whether they are bishops or clerics, to be excommunicated, bishops indeed from the bishopric, but priests from the priesthood; but if they are monks or laymen, to be anathematized." (Council of Constantinople III, 680-681 A.D.)

"While they contend that the entire exterior form of the Church can be changed indiscriminately, do they not subject to change even those items of discipline which have their basis in divine law and which are linked with the doctrine of faith in a close bond? Does not the law of the believer thus produce the law of the doer? Moreover, do they not try to make the Church human by taking away from the infallible and divine authority, by which divine will it is governed? And does it not produce the same effect to think that the present discipline of the Church rests on failures, obscurities, and other inconveniences of this kind? And to feign that this discipline contains many things which are not useless but which are against the safety of the Catholic religion? Why is it that private individuals appropriate for themselves the right which is proper only for the pope?" (Pope Gregory XVI, "Quo Graviora", 1833 A.D.)

"They exercise all their ingenuity in diminishing the force and falsifying the character of tradition, so as to rob it of all its weight. But for Catholics the second Council of Nicea will always have the force of law, where it condemns those who dare, after the impious fashion of heretics, to deride the ecclesiastical traditions, to invent novelties of some kind...or endeavor by malice or craft to overthrow any one of the legitimate traditions of the Catholic Church; and Catholics will hold for law, also, the profession of the fourth Council of Constantinople: We therefore profess to conserve and guard the rules bequeathed to the Holy Catholic and Apostolic Church by the Holy and most illustrious Apostles, by the orthodox Councils, both general and local, and by every one of those divine interpreters the Fathers and Doctors of the Church. Wherefore the Roman Pontiffs, Pius IV and Pius IX, ordered the insertion in the profession of faith of the following declaration: I most firmly admit and embrace the apostolic and ecclesiastical traditions and other observances and constitutions of the Church." (Pope St. Pius X, "Pascendi Dominici Gregis", 1907 A.D.)

"For truth and its philosophic expression cannot change from day to day, least of all where there is question of self-evident principles of the human mind or of those propositions which are supported by the wisdom of the ages and by divine revelation. Whatever new truth the sincere human mind is able to find, certainly cannot be opposed to truth already acquired, since God, the highest Truth, has created and guides the human intellect, not that it may daily oppose new truths to rightly established ones, but rather that, having eliminated errors which may have crept in, it may build truth upon truth in the same order and structure that exist in reality, the source of truth. Let no Christian therefore, whether philosopher or theologian, embrace eagerly and lightly whatever novelty happens to be thought up from day to day, but rather let him weigh it with painstaking care and a balanced judgment, lest he lose or corrupt the truth he already has, with grave danger and damage to his faith." (Pope Pius XII, "Humani Generis", 1950 A.D.)

"But it is a very mournful thing, by which the ravings of human reason go to ruin when someone is eager for revolution and, against the advice of the Apostle, strives 'to be more wise than it behooveth to be wise' [cf. Rom. 12:3], and trusting too much in himself, affirms that truth must be sought outside of the Catholic Church in which truth itself is found far from even the slightest defilement of error, and which therefore, is called and is 'the pillar and ground of the truth' [1 Tim. 3 15]. But you well understand, Venerable Brothers, that We are here speaking in open disapproval of that false system of philosophy, not so long ago introduced, by which, because of an extended and unbridled desire of novelty, truth is not sought where it truly resides, and, with a disregard for the holy and apostolic traditions, other vain, futile, uncertain doctrines, not approved by the Church are accepted as true, on which very vain men mistakenly think that truth itself is supported and sustained." (Pope Gregory XVI, "Singulari Nos", 1834 A.D.)

"If anyone according to the wicked heretics in any manner whatsoever, by any word whatsoever, or at any time or place whatsoever illicitly removing the bounds which the holy Fathers of the Catholic Church have rather firmly established [Prov. 22:28], that is, the five holy and universal Synods, in order rashly to seek for novelties and expositions of another faith; or books, or letters, or writings, or subscriptions, or false testimonies, or synods, or records of deeds, or vain ordinations unknown to ecclesiastical rule; or unsuitable and irrational tenures of place; and briefly, if it is customary for the most impious heretics to do anything else, (if anyone) through diabolical operation crookedly and cunningly acts contrary to the pious preachings of the orthodox (teachers) of the Catholic Church, that is to say, its paternal and synodal proclamations, to the destruction of the most sincere confession unto the Lord our God, and persists without repentance unto the end impiously doing these things, let such a person be condemned forever, and let all the people say: so be it, so be it [Ps. 105:48]." (Lateran Council, 649 A.D.)

"Therefore, lest a rash and perverse dogma of this kind 'as a canker spreads' [2 Tim. 2:17], and infects many and makes it necessary that 'Rachel bewail her lost sons' [Jer. 31:15], we order and strictly command by the authority of those present that, entirely forsaking the poison mentioned above, without the leaven of worldly knowledge, that you teach theological purity, not 'adulterating the word of God' [2 Cor. 2:17] by the creations of philosophers, lest around the altar of God you seem to wish to plant a grove contrary to the teaching of the Lord, and by a commingling of honey to cause the sacrifice of doctrine to ferment which is to be presented 'with the unleavened bread of sincerity and truth' [1 Cor. 5:8]. But content with the terminology established by the Fathers, you should feed the minds of your listeners with the fruit of heavenly words, so that after the leaves of the words have been removed, 'they may draw from the fountains of the Savior' [Is. 12:3]; the clear and limpid waters which tend principally to this, that they may build up faith or fashion morals, and refreshed by these they may be delighted with internal richness." (Pope Gregory IX, 1228 A.D.)

"It is with no less deceit, venerable brothers, that other enemies of divine revelation, with reckless and sacrilegious effrontery, want to import the doctrine of human progress into the Catholic religion. They extol it with the highest praise, as if religion itself were not of God but the work of men, or a philosophical discovery which can be perfected by human means... Our holy religion was not invented by human reason, but was most mercifully revealed by God; therefore, one can quite easily understand that religion itself acquires all its power from the authority of God who made the revelation, and that it can never be arrived at or perfected by human reason. In order not to be deceived and go astray in a matter of such great importance, human reason should indeed carefully investigate the fact of divine revelation. Having done this, one would be definitely convinced that God has spoken and therefore would show Him rational obedience, as the Apostle very wisely teaches. For who can possibly not know that all faith should be given to the words of God and that it is in the fullest agreement with reason itself to accept and strongly support doctrines which it has determined to have been revealed by God, who can neither deceive nor be deceived?" (Pope Pius IX, "Qui Pluribus", 1846 A.D.)

"Those genuine and clear [truths] which flow from the very pure fountains of the Scriptures cannot be disturbed by any arguments of misty subtlety. For this same norm of apostolic doctrine endures in the successors of him upon whom the Lord imposed the care of the whole sheepfold [John 21:15 ff.], whom [He promised] He would not fail even to the end of the world [Matt. 28:20], against whom He promised that the gates of hell would never prevail, by whose judgment He testified that what was bound on earth could not be loosed in heaven [Matt. 16:18 ff.]... Let whoever, as the Apostle proclaimed, attempts to disseminate something other, than what we have received, be anathema [Gal. 1:8 f.]. Let no approach to your ears be thrown open to the pernicious plans of undermining, let no pledge of revising any of the old definitions be granted, because, as it must be repeated very often, what has deserved to be cut away with the sharp edge of the evangelical pruning-hook by apostolic hands with the approval of the universal Church, cannot acquire the strength for a rebirth nor is it able to return to the fruitful shoot of the master's vine, because it is evident that it has been destined to eternal fire. Thus, finally, the machinations of all heresies laid down by decrees of the Church are never allowed to renew the struggles of their crushed attack." (Pope St. Simplicius, 476 A.D.)

"But perhaps someone is saying, 'Will there, then, be no progress of religion in the Church of Christ?' Certainly there is, and the greatest. For who is there so envious toward men and so exceedingly hateful toward God, that he would try to prohibit progress? But it is truly progress and not a change of faith. What is mean by progress is that something is brought to an advancement within itself; by change, something is transformed from one thing to another. It is necessary, therefore, that understanding, knowledge, and wisdom grow and advance strongly and mightily as much in individuals as in the group, as much in one man as in the whole church, and this gradually according to age and the times; and this must take place precisely within its own kind, that is, in the same teaching, in the same meaning, and in the same opinion. The progress of religion in souls is like the growth of bodies, which, in the course of years, evolve and develop, but still remain what they were...although in the course of time something evolved from those first seeds and has now expanded under careful cultivation, nothing of the characteristics of the seeds is changed. Grated that appearance, beauty, and distinction has been added, still, the same nature of each kind remains." (St. Vincent of Lerins, c. 434 A.D.)

"We have faithfully and obediently heard that Doctor of the Gentiles warning in faith and in truth: 'O Timothy, guard that which has been entrusted to you, avoiding the profane novelties of words, and oppositions under the false name of knowledge, which some promising concerning faith have destroyed' [2 Tim. 6:20 f.]; and again: 'Shun profane and useless talk; for they contribute much toward ungodliness, and their speech spreadest like an ulcer' [2 Tim. 2:16 f.]; and again: 'Avoid foolish and unlearned questions, knowing that they beget strifes; but the servant of the Lord must not quarrel' [2 Tim. 2:23 f.] and again: 'Nothing through contention, nothing through vain glory' [Phil. 2:3]: desiring to be zealous for peace and charity, in so far as God has given, attending the pious counsel of this same apostle: 'Solicitous to preserve the unity of the spirit in the bond of peace' [Eph. 4:3], let us with all zeal avoid novel doctrines and presumptuous talkativeness, whence rather the smoke of contention and of scandal between brothers can be stirred up, than any increase of the fear of God arise. Without hesitation, however, to the doctors piously and correctly discussing the word of truth, and to those very clear expositors of Sacred Scripture, namely, Cyprian, Hilary, Ambrose, Jerome, Augustine, and others living tranquilly in Catholic piety, we reverently and obediently submit our hearing and our understanding, and to the best of our ability we embrace the things which they have written for our salvation." (Council of Valence III, 855 A.D.)

"And so the rule of language which the Church has established through the long labor of centuries, with the help of the Holy Spirit, and which she has confirmed with the authority of the Councils, and which has more than once been the watchword and banner of orthodox faith, is to be religiously preserved, and no one may presume to change it at his own pleasure or under the pretext of new knowledge. Who would ever tolerate that the dogmatic formulas used by the ecumenical councils for the mysteries of the Holy Trinity and the Incarnation be judged as no longer appropriate for men of our times, and let others be rashly substituted for them? In the same way, it cannot be tolerated that any individual should on his own authority take something away from the formulas which were used by the Council of Trent to propose the Eucharistic Mystery for our belief. These formulas - like the others that the Church used to propose the dogmas of faith - express concepts that are not tied to a certain specific form of human culture, or to a certain level of scientific progress, or to one or another theological school. Instead they set forth what the human mind grasps of reality through necessary and universal experience and what it expresses in apt and exact words, whether it be in ordinary or more refined language. For this reason, these formulas are adapted to all men of all times and all places. They can, it is true, be made clearer and more obvious; and doing this is of great benefit. But it must always be done in such a way that they retain the meaning in which they have been used, so that with the advance of an understanding of the faith, the truth of faith will remain unchanged. For it is the teaching of the First Vatican Council that 'the meaning that Holy Mother the Church has once declared, is to be retained forever, and no pretext of deeper understanding ever justifies any deviation from that meaning.'" (Pope Paul VI, 1965 A.D.)

"With great zeal and closest attention, therefore I frequently inquired of many men, eminent for their holiness and doctrine, how I might, in a concise, and so to speak, general and ordinary way, distinguish the truth of the Catholic faith from the falsehood of heretical depravity. I received almost always the same answer from all of them, that if I or anyone else wanted to expose the frauds and escape the snares of the heretics who rise up, and to remain intact and sound in a sound faith, it would be necessary, with the help of the Lord, to fortify that faith in a twofold manner: first, of course, by the authority of divine law; and then, by the Tradition of the Catholic Church. Here, perhaps, someone may ask: 'If the canon of the Scriptures be perfect, and in itself more than suffices for everything, why is it necessary that the authority of ecclesiastical interpretation be joined to it?' Because, quite plainly, Sacred Scripture, by reason of its own depth, is not accepted by everyone as having one and the same meaning. The same passage is interpreted in one way by some, in another by others, so that it can almost appear as if there are as many opinions as there are men... And thus, because of so many distortions of such various errors, it is highly necessary that the line of prophetic and apostolic interpretation be directed in accord with the norm of the ecclesiastical and Catholic meaning. In the Catholic Church herself every care must be taken that we may hold fast to that which has been believed everywhere, always, and by all. For this, is then, truly and properly Catholic. That is what the force and meaning of the name itself declares, a name that embraces all truly universally. This general rule will be correctly applied if we pursue universality, antiquity, and agreement. And we follow universality in this way, if we confess this one faith to be true, which is confessed by the whole Church throughout the whole world: antiquity, however, if we in no way depart from those interpretations which, it is clear, our holy predecessors and fathers solemnized; and likewise agreement, if, in this very antiquity, we adopt the definitions and theses of all or certainly of almost all priests and teachers." (St. Vincent of Lerins, c. 434 A.D.)

"'Touched inwardly with sorrow of heart' [Gen. 6:6], 'we are filled with the bitterness of wormwood' [cf. Lam. 3:15], because as it has been brought to our attention, certain ones among you, distended like a skin by the spirit of vanity, are working with profane novelty to pass beyond the boundaries which thy fathers have set [cf. Prov. 22:28], the understanding of the heavenly page limited by the fixed boundaries of expositions in the studies of the Holy Fathers by inclining toward the philosophical doctrine of natural things, which it is not only rash but even profane to transgress; (they are doing this) for a show of knowledge, not for any profit to their hearers; so that they seem to be not taught of God or speakers of God, but rather revealed as God. For, although they ought to explain theology according to the approved traditions of the saints and not with carnal weapons, 'yet with (weapons) powerful for God to destroy every height exalting itself against the knowledge of God and to lead back into captivity every understanding unto the obedience of Christ' [cf. 2 Cor. 10:4 f.], they themselves 'led away by various and strange doctrines' [cf. Heb. 13:9] reduce the 'head to the tail' [cf. Deut. 28:13, 44] and they force the queen to be servant to the handmaid, that is, by earthly documents attributing the heavenly, which is of grace, to nature. Indeed relying on the knowledge of natural things more than they ought, returning 'to the weak and needy elements' of the world, which they served while they were 'little' and 'serving them again' [Gal. 4:9] as foolish in Christ they feed on 'milk and not solid food' [Heb. 5:12 f.], and they seem by no means to have established 'the heart in grace' [cf. Heb. 13:9]; and so despoiled of their rewards 'plundered and wounded by their natural possessions they do not reduce to memory that (saying) of the Apostle which we believe they have already frequently read: 'Avoiding the profane novelties of words, and the oppositions of knowledge falsely so called, which some seeking have erred concerning the faith' [cf. 1 Tim. 6:20 f.]." (Pope Gregory IX, 1228 A.D.)

"Surely it is lamentable that those eager for novelty easily pass from a contempt for scholastic theology to a neglect, and even a disrespect for the magisterium of the Church, which supports that theology by its authority. For, this magisterium is considered by them as a hindrance to progress and an obstacle to science; indeed, by certain non-Catholics it is looked upon as an unjust restraint by which some learned theologians are prevented from pursuing their science. And, although this sacred magisterium, in matters of faith and morals, should be the proximate and universal norm of faith to any theologian, inasmuch as Christ the Lord entrusted the entire deposit of faith to it, namely, the Sacred Scriptures and divine 'tradition,' to be guarded, and preserved, and interpreted; yet its office, by which the faithful are bound to flee those errors which more or less tend toward heresy, and so, too, 'to keep its constitutions and decrees, by which such perverse opinions are proscribed and prohibited,' is sometimes ignored as if it did not exist. There are some who consistently neglect to consult what has been set forth in the Encyclical Letters of the Roman Pontiffs on the character and constitution of the Church, for the reason that a certain vague notion prevails drawn from the ancient Fathers, especially the Greek. For the popes, as they repeatedly say, do not wish to pass judgment on those matters which are in dispute among theologians, and so there must be a return to the early sources, and the more recent constitutions and decrees of the magisterium are to be explained from the writings of the ancients. Even if perchance these things seem to have been wisely said, yet they are not without error. It is true that, in general, the Pontiffs grant freedom to theologians in those matters which are disputed with varying opinions, but history teaches that many things, which formerly were subject to free discussion, later cannot permit any discussion. It is not to be thought that what is set down in Encyclical Letters does not demand assent in itself, because in this the popes do not exercise the supreme power of their magisterium. For these matters are taught by the ordinary magisterium, regarding which the following is pertinent: 'He who heareth you, heareth me.' [Luke 10:16]; and usually what is set forth and inculcated in the Encyclical Letters, already pertains to Catholic doctrine. But if the Supreme Pontiffs in their acts, after due consideration, express an opinion on a hitherto controversial matter, it is clear to all that this matter, according to the mind and will of the same Pontiffs, cannot any longer be considered a question of free discussion among the theologians." (Pope Pius XII, "Humani Generis", 1950 A.D.)

Also See: Novel Teachings Are Forbidden (Coming Home Reflections) | Novelty & The Clergy (Priests & Vocations Reflections) | Against Modernism | Modernism / Novelties (Q &A) | Against Human 'Progress' in Religion (Coming Home Reflections) | Popes as Preservers of Tradition / Against New Doctrines (Vatican View Reflections) | Unchangeableness of Dogmas | Church Dogmas Are Unchangeable (Catholic Life Reflections) | Truth / Error / Nature of Man (Coming Home Reflections) | Duty to Reject Strange Doctrine (Coming Home Reflections) | Necessity of Being Catholic for Salvation | One Should Not Be Open Minded to Error (Coming Home Reflections) | Heresy/Heretics & Schism/Schismatics (Coming Home Reflections) | Classic Encyclicals: Errors / Modernism | Tradition / Traditions | Current Issues | Error / Heresy / Those Who Reject Truth (Topical Scripture) | Wariness of False Doctrines (Topical Scripture) | Also see links at top of page (or click here)

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