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Monday, 29 December 2014

Pope Pius IX - 1st Vatican Council 1869/70 - 'Dei Filius' and 'Pastor Aeternus' (Papal Infallibility)

Apologies for the delay in preparing this post, my reasons (excuses) being the complexity of the subject (to me, at least initially) combined with Christmas commitments. As regards the former, I can honestly say that I have learnt a lot when preparing this post - but it has taken me awhile, and as regards the latter, best wishes for a happy and blessed New Year.

                     Christ handing the keys to St Peter - (Perugino 1492)

 (continued from previous post)
 Over many years Pope Pius IX had been considering convoking a Council, and finally in  March 1865 a commission of  Cardinals was set up to examine the feasibility of  such a step.  All agreed in principle  and proposed that an Extraordinary Congregation be formulated, with bishops from different countries consulted as to what questions of doctrine and discipline should be dealt with. A letter was sent to thirty-six European bishops, and  in September 1866, based on their replies five preparatory commissions were set up, dealing with ‘Doctrine’,  ‘the Missions and the Oriental Church’,  ‘Ecclesiastical discipline’,  ‘Religious’, and  ‘Politico/ Ecclesial relationships’. Each Commission was composed of  consultors,  comprising Professors or Rectors of seminaries, University Professors, and members of Religious Congregations.   

                                                            Pope St Sylvester 1 (314-335)
On 29 June 1868 the Pope published the Bull ‘Aeterni Patris’, which convoked the opening of the Council for December 8, 1869, and explained that the purpose of the Council was to ‘offer a remedy to the ills of the present century in the Church and in Society. The Council was therefore to examine with the greatest care and determination what must be done in such calamitous times for the greater glory of God, for the integrity of the Faith, for the splendour of the Catholic religion, for the eternal salvation of men, for the discipline and solid instruction of the regular and secular clergy, for the observation of ecclesiastical laws, for the reform of customs, for the Christian education of youth, and for general peace and universal concord.’

No mention was made of the question of papal infallibility, however in Feb 1869 the ‘Civilta Cattolica’ published an article  suggesting that the Council might solemnly ratify the doctrine enunciated in the Syllabus, and might succeed ‘by acclamation’ in approving a definition of Papal infallibility.  This provoked an outcry from more ‘liberal’ circles, particularly certain French Bishops and German religious. In England these views were shared and spread by the influential  Lord Acton who moved to Rome prior to the Council, in order to lend his support and presence to the anti-infallibility faction.

                                                         Pope St Anastasius 1 (399-401)
The preparations for the Council were thorough and well organised. The General Assembly of the Fathers was divided into five congregations each under the chairmanship of a Cardinal appointed by the Pope. The five deputations prepared drafts of the main points to be discussed, which were then presented to the Pope prior to discussion in the general assembly. When approved and after any amendments during debate, it was brought to the public session, and only then, after a new vote by the Council Fathers, would it be promulgated by the Pope.
On 8 September, 1869 the Pope solemnly opened the 20th Ecumenical Council  in St Peter’s, quoting Our Lord's words, "‘Heaven and earth will pass away, but My words will not pass away.’"  "And what are these words? ‘Thou art Peter and upon this rock I will build my Church, and the gates of hell will not prevail against it’".

The Council held four public sessions, the first on December 8 1869, on the opening of the Council; the second on 6 January, 1870, devoted to the profession of faith prescribed by Pope Pius IV which the Fathers made at the feet of the Pope; the third on 24 April, in which the dogmatic constitution ‘Dei Filius’ was promulgated; and the fourth on 18 July, in which Papal Infallibility was defined, with the dogmatic ‘Pastor Aeternus’ .

                                                       Pope St Leo the Great (440-461)

The dogmatic constitution ‘Dei Filius’ is described as ‘a dense and luminous exposition of the Catholic doctrines on God, Revelation, and on Faith’. This is an important document and it would be wrong to ignore it, but it is difficult to quote from it without limiting the meaning and sense of the whole; and it would be easy to create misunderstanding. It is too long to incorporate in full in this post, so I have just included the introduction, and created a link for those wishing to read the whole constitution. (which is both very clear and readable, and is extraordinarily relevant to the 21st century world)

First Vatican Council
1869 to 1870 A.D. under Pope Blessed Pius IX

Pius, Bishop, Servant Of The Servants Of God, With The Approval
Of The Sacred Council, For Perpetual Remembrance

OUR LORD JESUS CHRIST, the Son of God, and Redeemer of Mankind, before returning to his heavenly Father, promised that He would be with the Church Militant on earth all days, even to the consummation of the world. Therefore, He has never ceased to be present with His beloved Spouse, to assist her when teaching, to bless her when at work, and to aid her when in danger. And this His salutary providence, which has been constantly displayed by other innumerable benefits, has been most manifestly proved by the abundant good results which Christendom has derived from Ecumenical Councils, and particularly from that of Trent, although it was held during evil times

                                               Pope St Gregory the Great (590-604) 
 For, as a consequence, the sacred doctrines of the faith have been defined more closely, and set forth more fully, errors have been condemned and restrained, ecclesiastical discipline has been restored and more firmly secured, the love of learning and of piety has been promoted among the clergy, colleges have been established to educate youth for the sacred warfare, and the morals of the Christian world have been renewed by the more accurate training of the faithful, and by the more frequent use of the sacraments. Moreover, there has resulted a closer communion of the members with the visible head, an increase of vigour in the whole mystical body of Christ, the multiplication of religious congregations and of other institutions of Christian piety, and such ardour in extending the kingdom of Christ throughout the world, as constantly endures, even to the sacrifice of life itself.

                                                               Pope St Pius V (1566-1572)

 But while we recall with due thankfulness these and other signal benefits which the Divine mercy has bestowed on the Church, especially by the last Ecumenical Council, we cannot restrain our bitter sorrow for the grave evils, which are principally due to the fact that the authority of that sacred Synod has been contemned [i.e. scorned], or its wise decrees neglected, by many.

No one is ignorant that the heresies proscribed by the Fathers of Trent, by which the divine Magisterium of the Church was rejected, and all matters regarding religion were surrendered to the judgment of each individual, gradually became dissolved into many sects, which disagreed and contended with one another, until at length not a few lost all faith in Christ. Even the Holy Scriptures, which had previously been declared the sole source and judge of Christian doctrine, began to be held no longer as Divine, but to be ranked among the fictions of mythology.

Then there arose and spread, exceedingly widely throughout the world, that doctrine of rationalism, or naturalism, which opposes itself in every way to the Christian religion as a supernatural institution, and works with the utmost zeal in order that, after Christ, our sole Lord and Saviour, has been excluded from the minds of men, and from the life and moral acts of nations, the reign of what they call pure reason or nature may be established. And after forsaking and rejecting the Christian religion, and denying the true God and His Christ, the minds of many have sunk into the abyss of Pantheism, Materialism, and Atheism, until, denying rational nature itself, and every sound rule of right, they labour to destroy the deepest foundations of human society.     
(Editor's note - very relevant to our world today - 140 years on!)

Unhappily, it has yet further come to pass that, while this impiety prevailed on every side, many even of the children of the Catholic Church have strayed from the path of true piety, and by the gradual diminution of the truths they held, the Catholic understanding became weakened in them. For, led away by various and strange doctrines, utterly confusing nature and grace, human science and Divine faith, they are found to deprave the true sense of the doctrines which our Holy Mother Church holds and teaches, and to endanger the integrity and the soundness of the faith.

                                                             Pope St Pius X (1903-1914)
 Considering these things, how can the Church fail to be deeply stirred? For, even as God wills all men to be saved, and to arrive at the knowledge of the truth; even as Christ came to save what had perished, and to gather together the children of God who had been dispersed, so the Church, constituted by God the Mother and Teacher of nations, knows its own office to be a debtor to all, and is ever ready and watchful to raise the fallen, to support those who are falling, to embrace those who return, to confirm the good and to carry them on to better things. Hence, it can never forbear from witnessing to and proclaiming the truth of God, which heals all things, knowing the words addressed to it: "My Spirit that is in you, and my words that I have put in your mouth, shall not depart out of your mouth, henceforth and forever" (Isaiah 59:21).

We, therefore, following the footsteps of our predecessors, have never ceased, as becomes our supreme Apostolic office, from teaching and defending Catholic truth, and condemning doctrines of error. And now, with the Bishops of the whole world assembled round us, and judging with us, congregated by our authority, and in the Holy Spirit, in this Ecumenical Council, we, supported by the Word of God written and handed down as we received it from the Catholic Church, preserved with sacredness and set forth according to truth, -- have determined to profess and declare the salutary teaching of Christ from this Chair of Peter, and in sight of all, proscribing and condemning, by the power given to us of God, all errors contrary thereto.

(Continuation of  Dei  Filius)


                                                      Pope St John XXIII (1958-1963)

The Council work continued with consideration of many other proposals,  however, the major question among the Council Fathers was that of papal infallibility. The powerful anti-infallibility faction, led by the German priest and theologian Dollinger, included several prominent and influential French bishops, and others, whilst the pro-infallibility faction led by the English prelate (later Cardinal) Manning, had the support of several  European  Bishops, and most of the eminent theologians of the day. Some years previously Fr. Manning and Mgr Senestyrey had both taken a vow to do everything in their power to promote the definition of Papal infallibility.  

The progress in the Council was slow, and at one stage it appeared as though the debate on papal infallibility would be put on hold, with a delay of at least several months. This possibility spelt real danger for the pro-infallibility cause, and it required an extra-ordinary request to the Pope, backed by a petition signed by 150 signatories, for this to be given immediate priority, with the debate on the draft finally opening on 13 May 1870. After many weeks of  acrimonious discussion, with agreement often seeming impossible, on 18 July during a solemn, public session in the presence of a vast multitude in the Basilica, the Council Fathers cast their definitive votes, and the final text of the apostolic constitution Pastor Aeternus was approved by 535 votes to 2, with 55 absentees.
Immediately after the vote Pope Pius IX promulgated solemnly, as an article of faith, the apostolic constitution 'Pastor Aeternus'  the purpose of which was to  present ‘the doctrine which is to be believed by all the faithful according to the ancient tradition of the universal Church, concerning the institution, the perpetuity, and the nature of the Holy, Apostolic Primate, in which there is contained the force and solidity of the whole Church; and to condemn and proscribe the contrary errors which are so damaging the Lord’s flock.’


                                                    Pope St.John Paul II (1978-2005)

As with 'Dei Filius', I include below the introduction for 'Pastor Aeternus' together with a link for those wishing to read the whole constitution.


Published In The Fourth Session
Of The Holy Ecumenical Council
Of The

Pius Bishop, Servant Of The Servants Of God,
With The Approval Of The Sacred Council,
For An Everlasting Remembrance.

'The Eternal Pastor and Bishop of our souls, in order to continue for all time the life-giving work of His redemption, determined to build up the Holy Church, in which, as the House of the living God, all who believe might be united in the bond of one faith and one charity. Therefore, before he entered into His glory, He prayed to the Father, not for the Apostles only, but for those also who through their preaching should come to believe in Him, that all might be one, even as He the Son and the Father are one. (John 17:21). Then He sent the Apostles, whom He had chosen for Himself from the world, just as he Himself had been sent by the Father. So did He will that there should ever be pastors and teachers in His Church to the end of the world.

And, so that the Episcopate also might be one and undivided, and so that, by means of a closely united priesthood, the multitude of the faithful might be kept secure in the oneness of faith and communion, He set Blessed Peter over the rest of the Apostles. And He fixed in him the abiding principle of this two-fold unity with its visible foundation, by the strength of which the eternal Temple would be built up, and the Church, in the firmness of that faith, would rise up, bringing her sublimity to Heaven. [6]

And since the gates of Hell, with greater hatred each day, are rising up on every side, to overthrow, if it were possible, the Church and Her divinely-established foundation, We, for the preservation, safe-keeping, and increase of the Catholic flock, with the approval of the Sacred Council, judge it to be necessary to propose, for the belief and acceptance of all the faithful, in accordance with the ancient and constant faith of the universal Church, the doctrine of the institution, perpetuity, and nature of the sacred Apostolic Primacy, by which the strength and solidity of the entire Church is established, and at the same time to proscribe and condemn the contrary errors, which are so harmful to the flock of Christ.'

[6] From Sermon 4, chapter 2, of St. Leo the Great, A.D. 440, vol. 1, p. 17 of edition of Ballerini,
Venice, 1753 ...

(continuation of Pastor Aeternus)

                                                            Coat of Arms of the Holy See

Of the fifty-one draft decrees to be considered by the Council, only two had been defined. However the proclamation of  infallibility was to be the final act,  for the next day, the 19 July, Prussia declared war on France, setting in motion a series of events culminating in the occupation of Rome on 20 September.  On the 20 October, the Council was suspended.

Ack. Blessed Pius IX by Roberto de Mattei (Gracewing)
        Pope Pius IX -the Man and the Myth by Yves Chiron               (Angelus Press)

(Papacy of Pope Pius IX to be concluded in the next post)

Sunday, 2 November 2014

Pope Pius IX - years 1863-1869. 'Miracle' of St Agnes Basilica, and 'The Mortara affair'.

 In May 1863 Pius IX undertook a journey to the provinces of the south of Latium, also called the Ciociaria, visiting towns which he had not previously visited,  both as Supreme Pastor  to his flock  , and to reaffirm his temporal rights over territories which Italy was coveting,  In the space of ten days he visited nine of the region’s principle towns, meeting delegations from both town and country. He also arranged for Papal troops, together with the French troops stationed in Rome, to take whatever  action was necessary to curb the banditry by wandering Neapolitan brigands active in those areas.


In September 1864 the French and Italian governments concluded a secret agreement to deal with the Roman question, an agreement which precluded Pope Pius IX, the principal party concerned.
This agreement, aimed ultimately at the unification of Italy, included a stipulation that the Italian government ‘would not  attack the Holy Father’s present territory, and would obstruct if necessary by force, any attack coming from outside the territory’; also it would ‘bear the cost of a proportion of the debts of the former ecclesiastical states’. France, for its part, would gradually withdraw her troops from the Papal States within the space of two years.

 Meanwhile the Pope was fully occupied in attempting to re-establish the Italian hierarchy decimated by the various annexations of the Papal States. A total of nine bishops or archbishops had been brought to trial and condemned, thirty others had been tried and acquitted, five others had been banished from their dioceses and held in Turin, and forty-one had chosen the path of exile. Added to this number were tens of dioceses lacking a bishop, either because the Italian government was refusing to allow the consecrated bishops to take possession of their sees, or because the nominations, which initially depended on the civil authorities, had not been made.
 In April 1865 as a result of a written request from the Pope to King Victor Emmanuel, two envoys  arrived in Rome from Turin, to discuss this matter with Cardinal Antonelli. Initially the discussion progressed well, but then contrary to earlier promises, the envoys insisted that all new bishops must swear an oath of loyalty to the King. The Holy See, which did not recognise the legitimacy of the Kingdom of Italy, could not accept this, and the talks collapsed.
The proponents of Italian unity, Mazzini, Cavour, and Garibaldi, were Freemasons, and at this time Italian Freemasonry was attempting to unify its disparate groups.  The failure of the Venezzi mission   persuaded the Pope that Freemasonry was an increasingly influential and dangerous threat, and in an allocution in  September 1865 he  strongly condemned  “this perverse society of men, commonly called Masonic, which initially existed in shadows and in obscurity, has finally come out into the light of day, to the ruin both of religion and of human society.” He dismissed as a grave error the claim that Freemasonry “has no other aim but to help people and succour them in adversity.” He went on, “What claims are made by this association of men of all religions and of all beliefs? What is the purpose of these clandestine meetings and this oath that is so strictly required of initiates, who commit themselves never to reveal anything about these matters? And what is the meaning of the terribly severe punishments incurred by initiates if they should fail to keep faith with their oath?” The Pope solemnly recalled the prohibition against Catholics taking part in these ‘baneful assemblies’ under pain of excommunication. 

                                                     Coat of Arms of Pope Pius IX (courtesy of Peter Crawford)

 In the following months various Masonic publications retaliated by  alleging that the Pope himself had been initiated as a young man into the Lodge of Palermo, or that  he had been initiated as a young priest at Philadelphia on his way back from Chile. Both unsubstantiated allegations were strongly denied.

                                                                                Pope Pius IX

 The question of Catholic participation in Italian political life became particularly acute once the Romagna, the Marches, and Umbria had been detached from the Pope and annexed. The question was whether Catholics should get themselves elected to the Italian parliament in order to try to counter-balance the influence of the anti-clericals, or would it be better for them  to abstain from all participation in political life, until the Roman question had been solved. Pius IX urged the latter course, recommending instead, working with the hierarchy and  setting up associations for the purpose of defending the Church and the interests of Catholics in all the domains; social, economic, cultural, and educational. This was particularly important  as the religious orders, who in the past had devoted their resources to charitable and educational tasks, found their work restricted or prohibited by the infamous ‘Law on the Convents’. (see earlier post).  One result of the Pope’s condemnation of freemasonry, was the significant growth  of the ‘Catholic Movement’, exemplified by various organisations of Catholic Action.

In 1866 Prussia and Italy allied in a war against Austria, in which the Austrian forces were subsequently defeated, with the kingdom of Italy then annexing Venetia. Meanwhile France continued to withdraw troops from Rome, a process that was complete by December of that year.
Italy was now in a strong position, and once again two envoys visited Rome to negotiate. They stayed until the following March, with the talks on this occasion proving fruitful for the  Pope, in that he was able to nominate thirty-seven bishops and archbishops, twenty in different Italian provinces including the sees of Turin and Milan, and seventeen in the dioceses of the Papal States. Additionally agreement was reached regarding the State taking on part of the public debt contracted by the Holy See for the territories that had been annexed, and the improvement of the railway system. These accords made it possible to remedy in part, the great distress existing in certain Italian dioceses. The envoy's request that the annexations should be recognised as legitimate, was firmly rejected.

                                                         'Feed my Lambs'  by Raphael. 
                             Christ appointing Peter as Head of His Church.

In June 1867 in Rome, the commemorations celebrating the eighteenth centenary of the martyrdom of  Saints Peter and Paul unfolded in a spirit of relative optimism. Pius IX wanted this commemoration to demonstrate the Church’s unity around the Chair of Peter, with all the Bishops of the world  invited, and the occasion marked by the canonisation of  several martyrs, confessors, and virgins. On the day, the Pope was surrounded by 46 Cardinals, all the oriental Patriarchs, almost 500 archbishops and bishops, 20,000 priests, and about 150,000 of the faithful. At the conclusion of the celebration, in an address to the bishops, the Pope officially announced that he would summon an Ecumenical Council, although no date was fixed.

About two months later, a so-called ‘Peace Congress’ took place in Geneva involving various European revolutionary movements. The guest of honour was Garibaldi, who in his  propositions, which  included ‘World government’ and ‘Pacifism’, revealed his hatred of the Church, stating:-
‘We declare that the Papacy, the most noxious of sects, has fallen’;
‘The priesthood of ignorance and revelations must be replaced by the priesthood of enlightenment, truth and justice.’
 And in his final address:-
'There will be no improvement until priest-craft is defeated’. 
Interestingly, the Congress had to wind up in a hurry as the Swiss authorities became alarmed at the threatening tenor of the meetings, to the extent that they would have intervened had the Congress continued.

In October the same year, Garibaldi assembled a volunteer army in Florence, invaded the Papal States and gained possession of Monte Rotondo. In Rome his men exploded a large bomb in a barracks of the papal Zouaves, killing twenty-seven people. By early November Garibaldi’s troops had taken possession of Viterbo and were threatening the north of Rome, but were then defeated by a combination of Papal and French troops at the battle of Mentana. The towns of Viterbo and Monte Rotondo, abandoned by Garibaldi’s troops, were soon re-occupied, and the French and Papal Zouaves returned to Rome where they received a victor’s welcome.

                                                                    Battle of Mentana 1867

The Pope was well aware that one victory does not win a war, particularly a war going far beyond the frontiers of Italy, a spiritual as well as  territorial war waged against the Church by her enemies. For the Pope, the defence of his temporal sovereignty was driven more by religious motives than political, for his temporal sovereignty made possible the free exercise of his spiritual mission. In his view those hostile to his temporal sovereignty were in league with the Church’s adversaries.

For the Pope, unity within the Church centred around the Holy See, was of prime importance. In June1868, when addressing  the Cardinals who had come to Rome for the anniversary of his election, he said:-
    “The struggle between good and evil is as old as the world, and this struggle has followed the Church in her development down the centuries. We see this intense struggle before our very eyes, here in Italy, where profanations, spoliations, and insults succeed one another without interruption. It is most intense against Rome, which evil men have targeted. Here Satan is bending all his strength to destroy the centre of Catholic unity, in order to set up the centre of abomination. Yet this ceaseless, pitiless war has produced a salutary reaction in our favour. People of high aspirations have come over to our side; all good men are coming forward in our defence. Every day we are visited by priests and bishops from the remotest lands. They come here seeking light and strength at the tomb of the Apostles. This light and this strength are indeed here, in the Holy City.”

In April 1869,  Pius IX celebrated the fiftieth anniversary of his priestly ordination, with guests and visitors from across Europe. The ceremonies and festivities lasted for several days, and included  solemn High Mass in St Peter’s; a banquet for 1500 people- including the exiled King and Queen of Naples;  the Pope celebrating Mass at  the hospice where he had said his first Mass; and a visit to the Basilica of St Agnes in memory of the miracle of April 12, 1855. The celebrations ended with the Pope addressing the Catholic Association of Italian Youth:- ”I am with you, and you are with me. Together we must fight against error, we must confront our enemies and try to extirpate the poison from their hearts, and shield those who have not yet been affected."

This emphasis on the importance of unity was repeated in his allocutions to the faithful, both religious and lay, in the months leading up to the Vatican Council:- “ Be united and then you will be strong, strong against hell and against those evil men who attack you and what you are bound to defend and bound to love, namely justice, truth, the Church, the Holy See’
 (to be continued)

 (Ack. 'Pope Pius IX, the Man and the Myth' by Yves Chiron. Published by Angelus Press)


Miracle at the Basilica of St Agnes, April 12, 1855.

A few words on the miracle of April 12, 1855, at the Basilica of St Agnes. (courtesy of

                   Miracle of the Basilica of St Agnes, Rome. April 12, 1855.

Extract from the New York Times of 13 April 1905:
ROME, April 12. -- an interesting ceremony took place this morning in the Basilica of St Agnes, 2 miles outside of Rome. The building stands over the catacombs, where among others, the body of St Agnes is buried.
While Pius IX on April 12, 1855 was receiving the College of the Propaganda in the Basilica, the floor gave way and all present were precipitated into the catacombs, 20 feet below. Nobody was injured, and this, by some persons, was considered a miracle.
The only living survivors of the accident are the Rev. Dr. Richard L. Burtsell of Rondout, N.Y., and Archbishop Rubian, the resident representative of the Armenians in Rome (both young seminarians at the time). In the Basilica this morning Dr. Burtsell celebrated High Mass and Archbishop Rubian intoned the Te Deum and bestowed the benediction on the members of the College of the Propaganda.
The Pope later in the day received Dr. Burtsell and Archbishop Rubian. The Pontiff took the occasion to speak of Pius IX. He says that many persons were urging him to begin the informative process towards his canonisation.
"Miracle of the Basilica of St Agnes," the Pope continued, "is one of the events which will be brought forward to establish the fact that Pius IX performs miracles. It is a good thing that there are living witnesses to give evidence."

"The Mortara Affair"
It also seems appropriate to mention here what became known as the ‘Mortara Affair’, in which Pope Pius IX was accused of abuse of power in his capacity as sovereign of the Papal States.
Edgardo Mortara Levi was born on 26 August 1851 to a Jewish family in Bologna. Contravening both the laws of the Papal States and Jewish practice, his parents put him into the care of a young Christian domestic servant, Anna Morisi. In August 1852 the little Edgardo fell gravely ill, and as he appeared  in danger of death, the servant baptised him, but in secret, supposing that the parents would have been opposed. As soon as he received baptism, the little boy quickly recovered.
    This event remained unknown for several years, until Anna Morisi casually mentioned it to friends, who in turn told the Archbishop of Bologna who then instructed the Dominican Father Pier Feletti, the town Inquisitor, to investigate the matter. He concluded that the baptism had been validly carried out and that consequently, Edgardo had to be considered a son of the Church, which in turn needed to provide him with a Christian education.
    The parents refused this, and in June 1858 the Inquisitor ordered the Pontifical Gendarmerie to remove the boy from his family and to take him to the Roman Catechumenate in Rome, where he would remain under the protection of the Pope. The boy’s parents were allowed visitation rights.
    There was immediate public outcry, with influential liberal voices, newspapers, foreign ministries and Chancelleries, throughout Europe, seizing on the issue and using it to discredit the Church. They accused the authorities in Bologna, and also the Pope, of having violated the boy’s human rights as well as the demands of nature. The Italian, French, and above all the British government were particularly active.
    The Pontifical position was vigorously defended by the Catholic Press, and in particular Louis Veuillet, editor of L’Univers, who accused the British government of hypocrisy, having interned in Anglican orphanages the children of Catholic soldiers, both English and Irish, who had died in battle. These orphans were educated in the observances of that religion which had persecuted their ancestors.
    Pius IX defended the Inquisitor of Bologna and refused to return Mortara to his parents. He commented,‘I would rather do anything than take away from Christ a soul which He has redeemed with His blood’.
    Supported by noted theologians, including Dom Gueranger, the Pope made the following points:- 

'By the laws of the Church it is forbidden to baptise an infidel by force, and  consequently it is forbidden to baptise a child against the will of both its parents.'

'However, if the child is in danger of death, then it is permitted to baptise him even against the will of his parents. The baptism then imparts to the child not the faith of his parents, but that of the Church, making him a Christian ‘ex opera operato’ without the need for any consent.'

'Once such a child has been baptised, having become a son of the Church, the Church has a duty to provide him with an education in conformity with the received Christian faith. Consequently, if the child’s parents refuse to provide such an education, the Church has the right to bestow it on him and to substitute itself for the family in its educational role, in virtue of the principle of subsidiarity. In this case, indeed, the rights of the family (which belong to the natural and divine order) are superseded by the superior rights of the Church (which belongs to the Divine and positive order); the law of God the Creator is included and superseded by that of God the Redeemer and Saviour, who realises himself in the Church.'

Pope Benedict XIV in his Instruction ‘Postremo mense’ published in 1747, laid down that although it is not licit to take a child away from infidel parents in order to baptise it, once the baptism had occurred the ecclesiastical authorities had the duty to provide the new son of the Church, and the new citizen of the Papal States, with a Christian education.

The political storm lasted for almost a year but the Pope stuck to his guns, and eventually  the controversy died down. There were negative consequences, for when Piedmont ‘acquired’ the Pontifical Legations in 1859,  both Inquisitor Feletti and the Gendarmerie involved, Lt Col Dominicis, were arrested and put on trial for ‘abuse of power’, ‘abduction’ and ‘violent removal of Edgardo Mortara.’ The Dominican’s defence was a refusal to recognise the secular jurisdiction over an affair which had been conducted according to the superiority of divine positive law over divine natural law. Furthermore the defence counsel emphasised that it was wrong to accuse Feletti for the simple fact of having carried out the law then in force, to which he, both as a prelate and a citizen, was beholden. The trial ended on 16 April 1860 with the acquittal of both defendants.

In 1870 when Rome was invaded by the Piedmontese army, the Prefect of Police sought out the young Edgardo in order to ‘liberate’ him and ‘satisfy public opinion’. By this time however he had decided to become a priest. Fearing that the government would force him to return to his family, the young man fled to the Tyrol. He was fluent in nine languages, and from 1872 onwards he devoted himself to preaching the Christian faith in Italy, France, Belgium, and Spain, especially to Jews. He always carried out his mission under the guidance and protection of Pius IX, whose spiritual son he considered himself to be and whose name he had added to his own. The Pope had entrusted him to the care of the Bishop of Poitiers, the saintly Edouard Pie. When the Pope died in 1878 and Bishop Pie in 1880, Edgardo wrote that this double loss left him ‘like an orphan’

Father Edgardo Mortara, with his mother and brother (1880)                             
Some years later, Edgardo became gravely ill, but recovered after recourse to Pius IX. He spent his final years preaching devotion to the Sacred Heart, and died in Belgium on 11 March 1940, aged 89 years.

(ack. ‘Blessed Pius IX’ by Roberto de Mattei. Published by Gracewing.)

Saturday, 13 September 2014

Pope Pius IX - 'Quanta Cura' and the 'Syllabus of Errors' (1864)

(continued from 11 July)
For Pope Pius IX, the decade following the dogma of the Immaculate Conception was a period of increasing stress and uncertainty, with Rome and the Papal States  under constant threat of invasion and annexation by one or other of the armies of France, Piedmont-Sardinia, and the forces of the Risorgimento. Among the leading political figures in events of this period were Count Camillo Cavour,  Prime Minister of Piedmont-Sardinia;  Emperor Napoleon III of France; King Victor Emmanuel of Sardinia; and Garibaldi; all to varying degrees and for perhaps different reasons, plotting against Pope Pius IX and the Catholic Church. Their ultimate aim was the acquisition of the papal states, and the setting up of a republican government in Italy.  The papacy was to be stripped of its temporal kingdom, with the Pope and the Church tolerated but largely subject to the laws of the new secular State. Such an  objective had the backing of the English and other anti-Catholic governments, together with Masonic and secular 
powers throughout Europe
    Pope Pius IX
This post is concerned with one particularly notable event of Pio Nono’s pontificate, namely the papal encyclical ‘Quanta Cura’ published on December 8, 1864, and its annex - the ‘Syllabus of the Principal Errors of Our Time’.
          The history of the Syllabus goes back to the year 1849, in the wake of the Roman revolution, when Cardinal Pecci (later Pope Leo XIII), together with the Bishops of Spoleto, wrote to Pope Pius IX asking him to “tabulate all the errors against the Church, against authority and property, as they present themselves in our time, and to condemn them, specifying the relevant note of censure”.
 In 1851, a layman,  Emiliano della Motta, in a work published in Turin, ‘Essay on socialism and the socialist doctrines and tendencies’ also called for a global condemnation of the ‘huge and highly pernicious errors of modern society.’ In 1852 when the dogma of the Immaculate Conception was being prepared, it had been suggested that a solemn condemnation of the errors of the time
should be included in the Bull defining the dogma, but this idea was ultimately abandoned.
After the promulgation of the dogma of the Immaculate Conception and the work of the Commission  completed, it was instructed  to continue in the preparation of  the future Syllabus. In October 1859, at the Pope’s request, Abbot Dom Gueranger of Solesmes Abbey, and Mgr de Ram of the Catholic University of Louvain,  submitted their respective views on the chief errors of the time, with the Bishop of Poitiers, Mgr Pie, submitting his opinion on two specified errors, viz.
  “the order of faith and of the supernatural sacrificed to the order of nature”, and
  “the practical and absolute separation of the religious order from the civil order, raised to the level of a dogma and hailed as progress”.
The replies, consisting of detailed memorandi, were read and annotated by the Pope, and from these the commission initially drew up a collection of seventy-nine condemned theses.
          Some months later Mgr Gerbet, Bishop of Perpignan, on his own initiative, published a pastoral instruction on ‘various errors of the present time’, which amounted to eighty-five propositions. The Pope was sent a copy of this pastoral instruction and its annexed catalogue, and was sufficiently impressed to decide that it was to be used as a guide when preparing the Syllabus.

          In May 1861 a second commission was set up to examine Mgr Gerbet's propositions in more detail. After many working sessions a final list of sixty-one doctrinal propositions was drawn up, each with its relevant censure. When the Bishops met in Rome in June 1862, for the canonization of the Japanese Martyrs, Pius IX had a copy of this list distributed to each of them, under the
seal of secrecy, requiring  them to examine the condemned errors attentively and make their observations within two months. The majority of Bishops approved the proposed text, but about a third of them judged a condemnation of this kind inopportune or expressed disagreement concerning the censure to be applied to particular errors.
          Within a few weeks the secrecy requested by the Pope had been broken. The French Ambassador to Rome communicated the proposed list of condemned propositions to his Minister, and it was not long before it became widely known. Meetings were held by the French liberal-Catholic groups, also by scholars from Germany, Austria, and Switzerland, with the details of the propositions severely criticised. A congress of ‘Belgian Catholics’ was held in Malines, with the liberal Catholic, Count Montalembert,  praising ‘Catholic and liberal Belgium’ but regretting that many Catholics ‘had not yet taken their part in the great revolution that has given birth to the new society, the new life of the peoples’. He advocated the separation of Church and State, praising ‘freedom of worship and of conscience, the most precious, the most sacred, the most legitimate, the most necessary freedom.’ His remarks scandalised many present, which included the English Cardinal Wiseman, and several Bishops subsequently demanded an official condemnation of his remarks.
               Count Montalembert (1810-1870)
The Pope valued Montalembert’s past battles for the Church, particularly for freedom of education in France, and was not prepared to publicly condemn him, however he wrote to him privately rejecting his ideas which were ‘in contradiction with the teachings of the Catholic Church and with the acts of various sovereign Pontiffs.’ The liberal Catholics feared the forthcoming solemn condemnation, with Deschamps a friend of Montalembert, writing to the Pope and suggesting that condemning the very foundations of the modern constitutions would put the Church in danger of intensified hostility; sentiments echoed by Leopold I, King of the Belgians.
The author of the final version of the Syllabus was a Barnabite religious Fr Luigi Bilio, who as consultor of the Congregation of the Holy Office, had been responsible for examining the two addresses of Montalembert, and had concluded that the speaker had erred, resulting in the papal condemnation.    Fr Bilio had so impressed with his work, that he was charged with the task of finalising the Syllabus,  producing three different drafts over a six month period. His last draft, in contrast to the format of his earlier ones, was based on Pius IX’s teachings as expressed in his encyclicals dating from 1846, from which he extracted a list of eighty-four propositions explicitly censured by the Pope. The result was a list of quotations with references, concerning philosophical and theological questions and the relations between Church and State. Two quotations were withdrawn on account of duplication, and two more were withdrawn by Fr Bilio on his own initiative, who judged that they could be misunderstood. Thus the definitive version of the Syllabus, after twelve years of work and eight different draft versions, contained eighty condemned propositions drawn from thirty-two encyclicals, allocutions, and letters of Pope Pius IX.
The Syllabus, formally without signature or date,  with the eighty condemned propositions divided into ten categories, was sent to all the bishops of the world, together with the explanatory encyclical ‘Quanta Cura’ dated December 8, 1864.
The Syllabus of Errors.
          1. Propositions of pantheism’, ’naturalism’, andabsolute rationalism’ i.e. those which say that ‘God and nature are the same thing’; ‘all things are God’; ‘there is no difference between spirit and matter, necessity and freedom, true and false, good and evil, justice and injustice’; ‘the idea that reason is law to itself, and suffices, by its natural force, to secure the welfare of men and of nations’; ‘the faith of Christ is in opposition to human reason.’
          2. Moderate rationalism’, in which the ‘theological must be treated in the same way as philosophical sciences’; ‘the decrees of the Apostolic See and of the Roman congregations impede the free progress of science’; and ‘that one can engage in philosophy without taking any account of supernatural revelation’.
          3/4Indifferentism and latitudinarianism were dealt with in four propositions. ‘Every man is free to embrace and profess that religion which guided by the light of reason, he shall consider true’; ‘man may in the observance of any religion whatever, find the way of eternal salvation, and arrive at eternal salvation’. Socialism, Communism, Secret societies, Biblical societies, and Clerico-liberal societies, were also condemned.
          5. Twenty propositions manifested errors regarding the Church and her rights. For example, ‘it falls on the civil power to define the rights of the Church, and the limits in which she may exercise those rights’; ‘ that the Church has not any temporal power, direct or indirect’; ‘national churches, withdrawn from the authority of the Roman pontiff and altogether separated, can be established.’
          6. A sixth section condemned errors about civil society,  considered both in itself and in its relation to the Church. For example, ‘in the case of conflicting laws enacted by the two powers, the civil law prevails’; ’the civil authority may interfere in matters relating to religion, morality, and spiritual government’;  ‘ the laws enacted for the protection of religious orders and regarding their rights and duties, ought to be abolished.’
          7. Nine erroneous propositions on ‘Natural and Christian ethics’. ‘The science of philosophical things and morals and also civil laws, may and ought to keep aloof from divine and ecclesiastical authority’; ’it is lawful to refuse obedience to legitimate princes, and even to rebel against them.’
          8. Ten propositions covered the ‘errors concerning Christian marriage. For example, ‘the doctrine that Christ has raised marriage to the dignity of a sacrament cannot be at all tolerated’; ‘in many cases divorce properly so-called may be decreed by the civil authority’; ‘in force of a merely civil contract there may exist between Christians a real marriage.’
          9. Errors regarding the civil power of the Sovereign Pontiff were dealt with in two propositions, one of which states that ‘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.’
          10. Finally, Section ten listed four errors connected to modern liberalism. The last of these is probably the most publicised of the entire list, viz. ‘The Roman Pontiff can, and ought to reconcile himself, and come to terms with progress, liberalism, and modern civilisation.’
The encyclical and Syllabus struck a blow not only against the anti-clericals, agnostics, and atheists, but also against liberal Catholics. In France, the government and anti-clerical press showed great hostility to the Pope’s condemnations e.g. ‘the supreme insult offered to the modern world by a doomed papacy’ (Le Siecle), Emperor Napoleon III, through his Minister of Justice and Education, forbade the French bishops from publicising those parts of the Syllabus which contained  propositions contrary to the principles underlying the Empire’s constitution. Their reactions varied, with about eighty responding, some thirty sending a written letter of protest to the Minister, and the others using the traditional means of a pastoral letter which provided the opportunity of commenting on the encyclical and the catalogue of condemned errors. Two bishops ignored the prohibition completely, reading out the entire text of both encyclical and Syllabus in their respective Cathedrals. As a result they were brought before a Council of State and condemned for a breach of the law.
The most widely circulated episcopal reaction came from Mgr Dupanlou, the liberal Bishop of Orleans, who produced a pamphlet in which he suggested that the encyclical 'had not been interpreted, it had been misrepresented'. Enlarging on this he stated that the condemnation of a proposition does not necessarily imply that its opposite is being affirmed, nor should it be regarded as universal and absolute. He further stated that the Pope had condemned only ‘unlimited liberty’, not whatever is good in progress, whatever is truly useful in modern civilisation, whatever is truly liberal and Christian in Liberalism. He went on to say that the Church is not the enemy of political liberty, and that in fact no spirit is more liberal than hers.

             Mgr Dupanlou, Bishop of Orleans (1876)

The pamphlet was an immediate success, with 100,000 copies sold within three weeks. It offered encouragement to both liberal Catholics and to those loyal to the Pope. The Pope sent him a Brief of congratulations, praising him for the manner in which he had repudiated ‘the calumnies and errors of the newspapers, which had so lamentably disfigured the meaning of the teaching proposed by Us’. However he was not totally uncritical in his praise, reminding the Bishop, a liberal Catholic, of his lack of support in the past, and urging greater zeal and care  in the future.
Entirely contrary to the Bishop’s views, were those of another eminent Catholic Frenchman, the ultramontanist layman, Louis Veuillet, who produced his own pamphlet entitled ‘L’Illusion Liberale’:-
                ‘the liberal Catholic is neither Catholic nor liberal. What I mean by this - and I am not doubting his sincerity- is that he has lost both the true notion of liberty and the true notion of the Church. He may say that he is a liberal Catholic as much as he pleases, but he exhibits a much more well-known character, and all his features show us someone met with all too frequently in the history of the Church: his true name is SECTARIAN ……. Catholic liberalism and the spirit of the world are of the same blood; they tend towards each other by a thousand slopes ….. Heresy, which does not deny all the truth at once, which does not affirm all the error at once, opens a water-course
for these futile springs; they converge on it from two opposite sides, and so the torrent swells. If heresy breaks its banks, there is only one solid ground, only one refuge, the ROCK … Tu es Petrus …. Et non praevalebunt’

      Louis Veuillet (1813-1883) by Nadar

Veuillet called on Catholics to ‘rally around the Sovereign Pontiff, to follow his inspired directives unshakeably, to affirm with him those truths which alone will save both our souls and the world.’
The Pope was  delighted and his response enthusiastic - ‘these are my ideas, utterly and absolutely’.
 The anti-clerical Press took the opportunity to discredit the Church, and initially the governments of Austria and Italy tried to prohibit the publication of the two documents, but then abandoned the attempt. In the German speaking countries it was primarily the supporters of the Syllabus who made their voices heard. The Archbishop of Vienna, Cardinal Rauscher, in his publication ‘The State without God’ praised the Pope for opposing the separation of Church and State.’

                 Cardinal Rauscher, Archbishop of Vienna (1853-1875)

The publication of the ‘Syllabus of Errors’ was one of the three great milestones of Pope Pius IX’s pontificate, the others being the proclamation of the ‘Dogma of the Immaculate Conception’, and the ‘First Vatican Council.’  The Pope’s intention of continuity between these events is evident by their respective dates:-  the dogma was proclaimed on December 8, 1854;  the Syllabus with the encyclical Quanta Cura, published December 8, 1864; and  the opening of the Council on December 8, 1869. 
 Ack.  'Pope Pius IX – the Man and the Myth' by Yves Chiron, published by Angelus Press.
'Blessed Pius IX' by Roberto Mattei, published by Gracewing.
'Pio Nono' by E Y Hales, published by Eyre and Spottiswood. 
(to be continued)