Saturday, August 25, 2012
Catechism on Modernism
Full text of "Catechism on Modernism according to the encyclical 'Pascendi dominici gregis' of his Holiness Pius X"
CATECHISM ON MODERNISM
Jtihil bstat. PR. OSMUND, O.F.M.,
die 13 Jl/oti, 1908.
PASCENDI DOMINICI GREGIS
OF HIS HOLINESS, PIUS X.
FROM THE FRENCH OF FATHER J. B. LEMIUS
OBLATE OF MARY IMMACULATE BY
FATHER JOHN FITZPATRICK OF THE SAME CONGREGATION
LETTER OF HIS EMINENCE CARDINAL
MERRY DEL VAL TO THE AUTHOR
IT is a pleasure to me to have to address to you,
in the Sovereign Pontiff s name, high praise and the
expression of his most lively satisfaction on the
occasion of my presenting to him your splendid little
work entitled Catechism on Modernism, according to
the Encyclical " Pascendi Dominici Gregis."
The character of the Pontifical document and the
nature of the errors therein condemned were of a kind
to render difficult the prompt and complete under
standing, in all its slightest details, of that most
important Encyclical ; I mean, for the less cultured
classes, who are strangers to the progress of doctrines,
true or false, and for those also who, unfortunately,
too prone to give access to errors, especially when such
are set before them under the false appearances of
science, are not sufficiently alert to understand as
readily the cause of the evil.
This is why you have performed a task of singular
utility in reducing to its component parts the aforesaid
document, in the simple yet connected manner of your
Catechism, thus fitting it to the capacities of the least
His Holiness rejoices at the talented and fruitful
labour you have accomplished, and, commending you
vi LETTER TO THE AUTHOR
also on the further ground of keeping close to the very
letter of the Encyclical, he expresses the hope that
the result of your most opportune study will be widely
diffused, and he heartily grants you the Apostolic
And I, in my turn, having made to you this com
munication, thank you for the copy of the booklet in
question which you have so kindly presented to me,
and I renew the expression of the sentiments of pro
found esteem with which I am your most affectionate
R. CARD. MERRY DEL VAL.
December 14, 1907.
LETTER TO THE TRANSLATOR
DEAR REV. FATHER,
It is with much pleasure that I congratulate
you, in the name of the Holy Father, on having trans
lated into English the Catechism on Modernism,
according to the Encyclical " Pascendi Dominici
Gregis," by Father Lemius, O.M.I. His Holiness
has, as you are aware, graciously deigned to express the
highest praise of Fr. Lemius s work, which renders the
meaning of the Encyclical clearer than it might other
wise be to those who are not familiar with the subject
of which it treats ; and you have rendered an important
service in doing the Catechism into English, and so
placing it within the reach of the English-speaking
In the hope that your labours will bear much fruit,
and in token of his goodwill, the Holy Father gladly
grants you the Apostolic Benediction.
Believe me, dear Rev. Father,
Your devoted servant in Christ,
R. CARD. MERRY DEL VAL.
March 6, 1908.
PREAMBLE OF THE ENCYCLICAL 1
OBJECT ... . . 6
DIFFERENT PARTS ...... 6
THE EKKOES OF THE MODEKNISTS
THE RELIGIOUS PHILOSOPHY OF THE
I. AGNOSTICISM - 7
II. VITAL IMMANENCE - 10
III. ORIGIN OF RELIGION IN GENERAL - 11
IV. NOTION OF REVELATION - 12
V. TRANSFIGURATION AND DISFIGURATION OF PHENO
MENA THROUGH FAITH - - 14
VI. ORIGIN OF PARTICULAR RELIGIONS - - 16
VII. ACTION OF THE INTELLECT IN FAITH - - 19
VIII. DOGMA - - 20
IX. VARIABILITY OF DOGMA - 22
THE MODERNIST AS BELIEVER
I. RELIGIOUS EXPERIENCE - 25
II. TRADITION - 28
III. RELATION BETWEEN FAITH AND SCIENCE - 30
IV. PRACTICAL CONSEQUENCES - 34
THE MODERNIST AS THEOLOGIAN
I. THEOLOGICAL IMMANENCE AND SYMBOLISM - - 36
II. DIVINE PERMANENCE - 39
THE RELIGIOUS PHILOSOPHY OF THE MODERNISTS J
(Continued) BRANCHES OF THE FAITH
I. DOGMA - 41
II. WORSHIP - 43
III. SACRED SCRIPTURE INSPIRATION - 44
IV. THE CHURCH : HER ORIGIN, HER NATURE, AND HER
RIGHTS - - 46
V. CHURCH AND STATE - - 49
VI. EVOLUTION - 55
VII. CAUSES OF EVOLUTION : CONSERVATIVE AND PROGRES
SIVE FORCES IN THE CHURCH - - 56
VIII. PRACTICAL CONSEQUENCES - 60
IX. CONDEMNATIONS - - - - 62
THE MODERNIST AS HISTORIAN AND AS
I. APPLICATION OF THE PRINCIPLE OF AGNOSTICISM - 63
II. APPLICATION OF THE PRINCIPLE OF VITAL IMMANENCE - 70
III. APPLICATION OF THE PRINCIPLE OF EVOLUTION - 72
IV. TEXTUAL CRITICISM - - 74
V. CONCLUSION - - - - - - 77
THE MODERNIST AS APOLOGIST
I. PRINCIPLES AND ORIGINS - 80
II. APPLICATION OF THE PRINCIPLE OF AGNOSTICISM - 81
III. APPLICATION OF APOLOGETIC PRINCIPLES - 84
IV. APPLICATION OF THE PRINCIPLE OF IMMANENCE 88
THE MODERNIST AS REFORMER - 90
CRITICISM OF THE MODERNIST SYSTEM THE REN-
DEZVOUS OF ALL THE HERESIES THE WAY TO
THE CAUSES OF MODERNISM
I. MORAL CAUSES : CURIOSITY AND PRIDE - 101
II. INTELLECTUAL CAUSES - - 104
III. ARTIFICES OF THE MODERNISTS FOR THE PROPAGATION
OF THEIR ERRORS - - 105
1. NEGATIVE MEANS - - 105
2. POSITIVE MEANS - - 111
THE REMEDIES FOR MODERNISM
I. RULES RELATIVE TO STUDIES - - 115
II. CHOICE OF THE DIRECTORS AND PROFESSORS FOR
SEMINARIES AND CATHOLIC INSTITUTES - - 118
III. RULES RELATIVE TO STUDENTS - 119
IV. RULES CONCERNING THE READING OF BAD BOOKS 120
V. INSTITUTION OF DIOCESAN CENSORSHIP - 123
VI. PARTICIPATION OF THE CLERGY IN THE MANAGEMENT
AND EDITORSHIP OF NEWSPAPERS - - 126
VII. CONGRESSES OF PRIESTS * - 127
VIII. INSTITUTION OF DIOCESAN VIGILANCE COUNCILS - 128
IX. TRIENNIAL REPORT PRESCRIBED TO BISHOPS - - 132
THE CHURCH AND SCIENTIFIC PROGRESS - - 134
N.B. This Catechism reproduces, in its entirety and
in the exact order of its ideas, the Encyclical of our Holy
Father the Pope On the Doctrines of the Modernists.
The Text used is that of the Official Translation published
with authority. The divisions and subdivisions are those
that are found in the French version issued by the
CATECHISM ON MODERNISM
PREAMBLE OF THE ENCYCLICAL
ON THE GRAVITY OF THE ERRORS OF THE
Q. What is one of the primary duties appointed by
Christ to the Sovereign Pontiff ?
A. His Holiness the Pope replies : One of the
primary obligations assigned by Christ to the office
divinely committed to Us of feeding the Lord s flock,
is that of guarding with the greatest vigilance the
deposit of the faith delivered to the saints, rejecting
the profane novelties of words and the gainsaying of
knowledge falsely so called.
Q. Has such vigilance been necessary in every age ?
A. There has never been a time when this watch
fulness of the Supremo Pastor was not necessary to the
Catholic body ; for, owing to the efforts of the enemy of
the human race, there has never been lacking " men
speaking perverse things,"* "vain talkers and se-
ducers,"f "erring and driving into error." J
Q. Are these men, erring and driving into error, more
numerous in our day, and what object have they in view ?
A. It must be confessed that these latter days
have witnessed a notable increase in the number of the
* Acts xx. 30. f Titus i, 10. \ 2 Tim. iii. 13.
2 CATECHISM ON MODERNISM
enemies of the Cross of Christ, who, by arts entirely
new and full of deceit, are striving to destroy the vital
energy of the Church, and, as far as in them lies, utterly
to subvert the very Kingdom of Christ.
Q. Why may not the Sovereign Pontiff remain
A. We may no longer keep silence, lest We should
seem to fail in Our most sacred duty, and lest the
kindness that, in the hope of wiser counsels, We have
hitherto shown them, should be set down to lack of
diligence in the discharge of Our office.
Q. Where in these days are the partisans* of error
are they open enemies ?
A. That we should act without delay in this
matter, continues the Holy Father, is made impera
tive, especially by the fact that the partisans of error
are to be sought, not only among the Church s open
enemies, but, what is most to be dreaded and deplored,
in her very bosom, and are the more mischievous the
less they keep in the open.
Q. Holy Father, are these secret enemies, who wring
your paternal heart, to be found among Catholics, and are
there even priests among them ?
A. Yes. We allude to many who belong to the
Catholic laity, and, what is much more sad, to the ranks
of the priesthood itself, who, animated by a false zeal
for the Church, lacking the solid safeguards of philo
sophy and theology, nay, more, thoroughly imbued
with the poisonous doctrines taught by the enemies of
* The French, mistranslating rather felicitously, has artisans
d erreurs. J. F.
CATECHISM ON MODERNISM 3
the Church, and lost to all sense of modesty, put
themselves forward as reformers of the Church.
Q. Do these Catholic laymen and these priests, who
pose as reformers of the Church, dare to attack the work
and even the person of Jesus Christ ?
A. Forming boldly into line of attack, they assail
all that is most sacred in the work of Christ, not sparing
even the Person of the Divine Redeemer, whom, with
sacrilegious audacity, they degrade to the condition of
a simple and ordinary man.
Q. But will these men be astonished at being accounted
by Your Holiness as enemies of Holy Church ?
A. Although they express their astonishment that
We should number them amongst the enemies of the
Church, no one will be reasonably surprised that We
should do so, if, leaving out of account the internal
disposition of the soul, of which God alone is the Judge,
he considers their tenets, their manner of speech,
and their action. Nor, indeed, would he bo wrong
in regarding them as the most pernicious of all the
adversaries of the Church.
Q. Why do you say they are the worst enemies of the
A. As We have said, they put into operation their
designs for her undoing, not from without but from
within. Hence, the danger is present almost in the
very veins and heart of the Church, whose injury is
the more certain from the very fact that their know
ledge of her is more intimate.
Q. For what other reason are they the worst enemies
of the Church ?
4 CATECHISM ON MODERNISM
A. Moreover, they lay the axe not to the branches
and shoots, but to the very root, that is, to the faith
and its deepest fibres.
Q. Are they satisfied with cutting at the root of
immortal life ?
A. Once having struck at this root of immortality,
they proceed to diffuse poison through the whole tree,
so that there is no part of Catholic truth which they
leave untouched, none that they do not strive to
Q. By what means do they pursue their purpose
ivhat tactics do they adopt ?
A. None is more skilful, none more astute than
they, in the employment of a thousand noxious devices ;
for they play the double part of rationalist and Catholic,
a;id this so craftily that they easily lead the unwary
Q. But must not the consequences of their doctrine
alarm and drive back these Catholics, these priests ?
A. As audacity is their chief characteristic, there
is iio conclusion of any kind from which they shrink,
or which they do not thrust forward with pertinacity
Q. What is it that renders them particularly dan
gerous and gives them greater power to lead minds astray ?
A. The fact, which indeed is well calculated to
deceive souls, that they lead a life of the greatest
activity, of assiduous and ardent application to every
branch of learning, and that they possess, as a rule, a
reputation for irreproachable morality.
CATECHISM ON MODERNISM 5
Q. Is there any hope of remedy ?
A. There is the fact, which is all but fatal to the
hope of cure, that their very doctrines have given such
a bent to their minds, that they disdain all authority
and brook no restraint ; and, relying upon a false con
science, they attempt to ascribe to a love of truth that
which is in reality the result of pride and obstinacy.
Q. Holy Father, did you yourself not hope to reclaim
these erring ones ?
A. Once indeed We had hopes of recalling them
to a better mind, and to this end We first of all treated
them with kindness as Our children ; then with
severity ; and at last We have had recourse, though
with great reluctance, to public reproof. It is known
to you how unavailing have been Our efforts. For a
moment they have bowed their head, only to lift it
more arrogantly than before.
Q. Since all hope of converting such enemies is lost,
why, Holy Father, do you lift up your voice ?
A. If it were a matter which concerned them alone,
We might perhaps have overlooked it ; but the
security of the Catholic name is at stake. Wherefore
We must interrupt a silence which it would be criminal
Q. Is it, then, time to speak out ?
A. Yes, that We may point out to the whole
Church, as they really are, men who are badly dis
* The Latin has been rendered in the United States as follows :
It is time to unmask these men, and show them to the Universal
Church, even as they are. And the French is, word for word, the
same. J. F.
6 CATECHISM ON MODERNISM
Q. What name, must we give to these new enemies of
Christ and of His Church ?
A. Modernists as they are commonly and rightly
Q. What is the object of the Encyclical ?
A. It is one of the cleverest devices of the
Modernists to present their doctrines without order
and systematic arrangement, in a scattered and dis
jointed manner, so as to make it appear as if
their minds were in doubt or hesitation, whereas in
reality they are quite fixed and steadfast. For this
reason it will be of advantage to bring their teachings
together here into one group, and to point out their
interconnexion, and thus to pass to an examination of
the sources of the errors, and to prescribe remedies for
averting the evil results.
Q. How is the Encyclical divided ?
A. It is divided into three parts :
Part I. The Errors of the Modernists.
Part II. The Causes of Modernism.
Part III. The Remedies for Modernism.
THE ERRORS OF THE MODERNISTS
Q. To proceed in an orderly manner in the statement
of the errors of Modernism, how many characters are to
be considered as playing their parts in the Modernist ?
A. To proceed in an orderly manner in this some
what abstruse subject, it must first of all be noted that
the Modernist sustains and includes within himself a
manifold personality : he is a philosopher, a believer, a
theologian, an historian, a critic, an apologist, a reformer.
These roles must be clearly distinguished one from
another by all who would accurately understand their
system, and thoroughly grasp the principles and the
outcome of their doctrines.
THE RELIGIOUS PHILOSOPHY OF THE MODERNISTS
Q. We begin, then, with the philosopher what
doctrine do the Modernists lay down as the basis of their
religious philosophy ?
A. Modernists place the foundation of religious
philosophy in that doctrine which is commonly called
Q. How may the teaching of Agnosticism be summed
A. According to this teaching, human reason is
confined entirely within the field of phenomena, that is
to say, to things that appear, and in the manner in
which they appear : it has neither the right nor the
power to overstep these limits. Hence it is incapable
of lifting itself up to God, and of recognizing His
existence, even by means of visible things.
Q. What conclusion do the Modernists deduce from
this teaching ?
A. From this it is inferred that God can never be
the direct object of science, and that, as regards history,
He must not be considered as an historical subject.
Q. Given these premisses, what becomes of Natural
Theology, of the motives of credibility, of external
A. Every one will at once perceive. The Modern
ists simply sweep them entirely aside ; they include
them in Intellectualism, which they denounce as a
system which is ridiculous and long since defunct.
Q. Do not, at least, the, Churctis condemnations make
them pause ?
A. Nor does the fact that the Church has formally
condemned these portentous errors exercise the slightest
restraint upon them.
Q. What, in opposition to Modernism, is the doctrine
of the Vatican Council upon this point ?
A. The Vatican Council has defined : " If anyone
CATECHISM ON MODERNISM 9
says that the one true God, our Creator and Lord,
cannot be known with certainty by the natural light of
human reason by means of the things that are made,
let him be anathema ";* and also : "If anyone says
that it is not possible or not expedient that man be
taught, through the medium of divine revelation, about
God and the worship to be paid Him, let him be
anathema ";f and finally : " If anyone says that divine
revelation cannot be made credible by external signs,
and that therefore men should be drawn to the faith
only by their personal internal experience or by private
inspiration, let him be anathema." J
Q. It may be asked : In ivhat way do the Modernists
contrive to make the transition from Agnosticism, which
is a state of pure nescience, to scientific and historic
Atheism, which is a doctrine of positive denial ; and,
consequently, by ivhat legitimate process of reasoning
they proceed from the fact of ignorance as to ivhether God
has in fact intervened in the history of the human race
or not, to explain this history, leaving God out altogether,
as if He really had not intervened ?
A. Let him answer who can. Yet it is a fixed
and established principle among them that both science
and history must be atheistic ; and within their bound
aries there is room for nothing but phenomena ; God
and all that is divine are utterly excluded.
Q. What, as a consequence of this most absurd teach
ing, must be held touching the most sacred Person of
Christ, and the mysteries of His life and death, and of
His Resurrection and Ascension into Heaven ?
A. We shall soon see clearly.
* De Revel., can. 1. f Ibid., can. 2. J De Fide, can. 3.
10 CATECHISM ON MODERNISM
II. VITAL IMMANENCE.
Q. According to what you have just said, this
Agnosticism is only the negative part of the system of the
Modernists what is, then, its positive side ?
A. The positive part consists in what they call
Q. How do the Modernists pass from Agnosticism to
A. Thus they advance from one to the other.
Religion, whether natural or supernatural, must, like
every other fact, admit of some explanation. But
when natural theology has been destroyed, a.rid the
road to revelation closed by the rejection of the argu
ments of credibility, and all external revelation abso
lutely denied, it is clear that this explanation will be
sought in vain outside of man himself. It must, there
fore, be looked for in man ; and since religion is a form
of life, the explanation must certainly be found in the
life of man. In this way is formulated the principle of
Q. / understand that the Modernists, partisans as they
are of Agnosticism, can seek for no explanation of religion
except in man and in man s life itself.
And now, to explain this vital immanence, what do
they assign as the primal stimulus and primal manifesta
tion of every vital phenomenon, and particularly of
A. The first actuation, so to speak, of every vital
phenomenon and religion, as noted above, belongs to
this category is due to a certain need or impulsion ;
but speaking more particularly of life, it has its origin
CATECHISM ON MODERNISM 11
in a movement of the heart, which movement is called
a sense. *
Q. According to such principles, where is the prin
ciple of faith, and therefore of religion ?
A. As God is the object of religion, we must con
clude that faith, which is the basis and foundation of
all religion, must consist in a certain interior sense,
originating in a need of the divine.
Q. According to the Modernists, does this need of the
divine belong at least to the domain of consciousness ?
A. This need of the divine, which is experienced
only in special and favourable circumstances, cannot,
of itself, appertain to the domain of consciousness.
Q. Where, then, according to them, is to be found this
need of the divine ?
A. It is first latent beneath consciousness, or,
to borrow a term from modern philosophy, in the
subconsciousness, where also its root lies hidden and
III. ORIGIN OF RELIGION IN GENERAL.
Q. ; It may perhaps be asked how it is that this need
of the divine which man experiences within himself
resolves itself into religion. How is it?
A. To this question the Modernist reply would be
as follows : Science and history are confined within
two boundaries, the one external, namely, the visible
* The Latin word in this and cognate passages is sensus, and, of
course, we can be said to have a sense of the divine ; but senti
ment would perhaps express better the meaning of the Modernists.
12 CATECHISM ON MODERNISM
world, the other internal, which is consciousness.
When one or other of these limits has been reached,
there can be no further progress, for beyond is the un
knowable. In the presence of this unknowable, whether
it is outside man and beyond the visible world of
nature, or lies hidden within the subconsciousness, the
need of the divine in a soul which is prone to religion,
excites according to the principles of Fideism, without
any previous advertence of the mind a certain special
sense, and this sense possesses, implied within itself
both as its own object and as its intrinsic cause, the
divine reality itself, and in a way unites man with God.
It is this sense to which Modernists give the name of
faith, and this is what they hold to be the beginning
IV. NOTION OF REVELATION.
Q. What a philosophy is this of the Modernists /
but does it end there ?
A. We have not yet reached the end of their
philosophizing, or, to speak more accurately, of their
Q. What more, then, can they find in their alleged
sense of the divine ?
A. Modernists find in this sense, not only faith,
but in and with faith, as they understand it, they affirm
that there is also to be found revelation.
Q. Revelation ? But how ?
A. Indeed, what more is needed to constitute a
revelation ? Is not that religious sense which is per
ceptible in the conscience revelation, or at least the
CATECHISM ON MODERNISM 13
beginning of revelation ? Nay, is it not God Himself
manifesting Himself indistinctly, it is true in this
same religious sense, to the soul ? And they add :
Since God is both the object and the cause of faith,
this revelation is at the same time of God and from
God, that is to say, God is both the Revealer and
Q. What is the absurd doctrine that springs from
this philosophy, or, rather, these divagations of the
A. From this springs that most absurd tenet of
the Modernists, that every religion, according to the
different aspect under which it is viewed, must be con
sidered as both natural and supernatural.
Q. What further follows from this ?
A. It is thus that they make consciousness and
Q. From this, finally, what supreme and universal
law do they seek to impose ?
A. From this they derive the law laid down as
the universal standard, according to which religious
consciousness is to be put on an equal footing with
revelation, and that to it all must submit.
Q. All must submit ? even the supreme authority of
the Church ?
A. Even the supreme authority of the Church,
whether in the capacity of teacher, or in that of
legislator in the province of sacred liturgy or dis
14 CATECHISM ON MODERNISM
V. TRANSFIGURATION AND DISFIGURATION OF
PHENOMENA THROUGH FAITH.
Q. What more is necessary in order to give a complete
idea of the origin of faith and revelation, as these are
understood by the Modernists ?
A. In all this process, from which, according to the
Modernists, faith and revelation spring, one point is to
be particularly noted, for it is of capital importance,
on account of the historico-critical corollaries which
they* deduce from it.
Q. How does the Unknowable of the Modernist philo
sophy, as this has been above explained, present itself to
A. The Unknowable they speak of docs not present
itself to faith as something solitary and isolated ; but,
on the contrary, in close conjunction with some pheno
menon, which, though it belongs to the realms of science
or history, yet to some extent exceeds their limits.
Q. What phenomenon do you mean ?
A. Such a phenomenon may be a fact of nature
containing within itself something mysterious ; or it
may be a man, whose character, actions and words
cannot, apparently, be reconciled with the ordinary
laws of history.
Q. From the fact of this connexion between the Un
knowable and some phenomenon, what happens to faith ?
A. Faith, attracted by the Unknowable which is
united with the phenomenon, seizes upon the whole
phenomenon, and, as it were, permeates it with its own
CATECHISM ON MODERNISM 15
Q. What follows from this extension of faith to the
phenomenon and this penetrating it with life ?
A. From this two things follow.
Q. What is the first consequence ?
A. The first is a sort of transfiguration of the phe
nomenon, by its elevation above its own true condi
tions an elevation by which it becomes more adapted
to clothe itself with the form of the divine character
which faith will bestow upon it.
Q. What is the second consequence ?
A. The second consequence is a certain disfigura
tion so it may be called of the same phenomenon,
arising from the fact that faith attributes to it, when
stripped of the circumstances of place and time,
characteristics which it does not really possess.
Q. In the case of what phenomena, particularly,
according to the Modernists, does this double operation of
transfiguration and disfiguration take place ?
A. This takes place especially in the case of the
phenomena of the past, and the more fully in the
measure of their antiquity.
Q. And, what laws do the Modernists deduce from this
double operation ?
A. From these two principles the Modernists
deduce two laws, which, when united with a third
which they have already derived from Agnosticism,
constitute the foundation of historical criticism.
Q. Can you explain to us these three laws by an
A. An example may be sought in the Person of
16 CATECHISM ON MODERNISM
Christ. In the Person of Christ, they say, science and
history encounter nothing that is not human. There
fore, in virtue of the first canon deduced from Agnos
ticism, whatever there is in His history suggestive of
the divine must be rejected. Then, according to the
second canon, the historical Person of Christ was trans
figured by faith ; therefore everything that raises it
above historical conditions must be removed. Lastly,
the third canon, which lays down that the Person of
Christ has been disfigured by faith, requires that every
thing should be excluded, deeds and words and all else,
that is not in strict keeping with His character, condi
tion, and education, and with the place and time in
which He lived.
Q. -What kind of reasoning is that ?
A.. A method of reasoning which is passing
strange, but in it we have the Modernist criticism.
VI. ORIGIN OF PARTICULAR RELIGIONS.
Q. Is the religious sense, then, according to the
Modernists, the real germ, and the entire explanation, of
all religion ?
A. The religious sense, which through the agency
of vital immanence emerges from the lurking-places of
the subconsciousness, is the germ of all religion, and the
explanation of everything that has been or ever will be
in any religion.
Q. How does this religious sense develop ?
A. This sense, which was at first only rudimentary
and almost formless, under the influence of that mys
terious principle from which it originated, gradually
CATECHISM ON MODERNISM 17
matured with the progress of human life, of which, as
has been said, it is a certain form.
Q. Do all religions, then, according to the Modernists,
come from this ?
A. This is the origin of all.
Q. Even of supernatural religion ?
A. Even of supernatural religion. For religions
are mere developments of this religious sense?
Q. But do they not make an exception for the Catholic
A. Nor is the Catholic religion an exception : it
is quite on a level with the rest.
Q. What consciousness, then, served as cradle for
the Catholic religion ?
A. The consciousness of Christ, they say, who
was a Man of the choicest nature, whose like has never
been, nor will be.
Q. And from what principle do they dare to pretend
it was engendered in the consciousness of Christ ?
A. It was engendered by the process of vital
immanence, and by no other way.
Q. Is it not a great audacity to say so, and a great
A. In hearing these things, we shudder indeed at
so great an audacity of assertion and so great a sacri-
Q. But, Holy Father, surely it is only unbelievers
who maintain such doctrines ?
18 CATECHISM ON MODERNISM
A. The Pope Badly replies : These are not merely
the foolish babblings of unbelievers. There are
Catholics, yea, and priests too, who say these things
Q. But what do these, Catholics, these priests, mean
by all this ?
A. They boast that they are going to reform the
Churoh by these ravings.
Q. Does not this Modernism seem to be the ancient
error of Pelagius ?
A. The question is no longer one of the old error
which claimed for human nature a sort of right to the
supernatural. It has gone far beyond that.
Q. In what way ?
A. It has reached the point when it is affirmed that
our most holy religion, in the man Christ as in us,
emanated from nature spontaneously and of itself.
Nothing assuredly could be more utterly destructive
of the whole supernatural order.
Q. What is, on these points, the doctrine of the Vatican
A. For this reason the Vatican Council most justly
decreed : " If anyone says that man cannot be raised
by God to a knowledge and perfection which surpasses
nature, but that he can and should, by his own efforts
and by a constant development, attain finally to the
possession of all truth and good, let him be anathema." *
* De Bevel., can. 3.
CATECHISM ON MODERNISM 19
VII. ACTION OF THE INTELLECT IN FAITH.
Q. You have said that the Modernists find faith in
sense has the human intellect, then, no part in faith ?
A. So far there has been no mention of the
intellect. It also, according to the teaching of the
Modernists, has its part in the act of faith. And it
is of importance to see how.
Q. -But did not sense, according to the Modernists,
seem to be sufficient to give us God, Object and Author of
A. In that sense of which we have frequently
spoken, since sense is not knowledge, they say God
indeed presents Himself to man, but in a manner so
confused and indistinct that He can hardly be perceived
by the believer. *
Q. What, then, is wanting to this sense ?
A. It is necessary that a certain light should be
cast upon this sense, so that God may clearly stand out
in relief and be set apart from it.
Q. Is this the task of the intellect in the Modernist s
act of faith ?
A. This is the task of the intellect, whose office it
is to reflect and to analyse ; and by means of it man
first transforms into mental pictures the vital pheno
mena which arise within him, and then expresses them
in words. Hence the common saying of Modernists,
that the religious man must think his faith.
* Or, as the Latin may be rendered, that He can hardly or at all
be distil) guished/rom the believer which practically comes to the
same thing. J. F.
20 CATECHISM ON MODERNISM
Q. Can you give us the comparison which the
Modernists employ to determine the role they attribute
to the intellect in regard to this sense in the act of faith ?
A. The mind, encountering this sense, throws itself
upon it, and works in it after the manner of a painter
who restores to greater clearness the lines of a picture
that have been dimmed with age. The simile is that
of one of the leaders of Modernism.
Q. How does the intellect operate in this work of the
formation of faith ?
A. The operation of the mind in this work is a
Q. What is the first operation ?
A. First, by a natural and spontaneous act it
expresses its concept in a simple, popular statement.
Q. What is the second ?
A. Then, on reflection and deeper consideration,
or, as they say, by elaborating its thought, it expresses
the idea in secondary propositions, which are derived
from the first, but are more precise and distinct.
Q. How, then, do these formulas, the result of the action
of the intellect upon its own thought, become dogma ?
A. These secondary propositions, if they finally
receive the approval of the supreme magisterium of
the Church, constitute dogma.
Q. We have now reached dogma and is not this one
of the most important points for the Modernist ?
A. Yes. One of the principal points in the*
CATECHISM ON MODERNISM 21
Modernists system (is) the origin and the nature of
Q. In what do they place the origin of dogma ?
A. They place the origin of dogma in those primi
tive and simple formulas which, under a certain aspect,
are necessary to faith ; for revelation, to be truly such,
requires the clear knowledge of God in the conscious
ness. But dogma itself, they apparently hold, strictly
consists in the secondary formulas.
Q. And now, how shall we ascertain what, according
to the Modernists, is the nature of dogma ?
A. To ascertain the nature of dogma, we must
first find the relation which exists between the religious
formulas and the religious sense.
Q. How shall we ascertain this relation ?
A. This will be readily perceived by anyone who
holds that these formulas have no other purpose than
to furnish the believer with a means of giving to himself
an account of his faith.
Q. What do these formulas constitute as between the
believer and his faith ?
A. These formulas stand midway between the
believer and his faith : in their relation to the faith
they are the inadequate expression of its object, and
are usually called symbols ; in their relation to the
believer they are mere instruments
Q. What may one conclude from this with regard to the
truth contained in these formulas ?
A. That it is quite impossible to maintain that
they absolutely contain the truth.
22 CATECHISM ON MODERNISM
Q. According to the Modernists, what are formulas,
considered as symbols ?
A. In so far as they are symbols, they are the
images of truth, and so must be adapted to the religious
sense in its relation to man.
Q. What are they, considered as instruments ?
A. As instruments, they are the vehicles of truth,
and must therefore in their turn be adapted to man in
his relation to the religious sense.
IX. VARIABILITY OF DOGMA.
Q. Are these dogmatic formulas, these symbols of the
faith and instruments of the believer, at least invariable ?
A. The object of the religious sense, as something
contained in the absolute, possesses an infinite variety
of aspects, of which now one, now another, may present
itself. In like manner, he who believes can avail him
self of varying conditions. Consequently, the formulas
which we call dogma must be subject to these vicissi
tudes, and are, therefore, liable to change.
Q. But is there not thus substantial change in dogma ?
A. Thus the way is open to the intrinsic evolution
of dogma. Here we have an immense structure of
sophisms which ruin and wreck all religion.
Q. Is this substantial change of dogma not only
possible, but even necessary ?
A. Dogma is not only able, but ought to evolve
and to be changed. This is strongly affirmed by the
Modernists, and clearly flows from their principles.
CATECHISM ON MODERNISM 23
Q. What is the fundamental principle from which the
Modernists deduce the necessity of the substantial change
of dogma ?
A. Amongst the chief, points of their teaching is
the following, which they deduce from the principle of
vital immanence namely, that religious formulas, if
they are to be really religious and not merely intellec
tual speculations, ought to be living and to live the life
of the religious sense.
Q. But, since these formulas ought to live the very life
of the religious sense, must they not be constructed with a
view to this sense ?
A. This is not to be understood to mean that these
formulas, especially if merely imaginative, were to be
invented for the religious sense. Their origin matters
nothing, any more than their number or quality.
What is necessary is that the religious sense with some
modification when needful should vitally assimilate
Q. What do you mean by this vital assimilation by
the sense ?
A. In other words, it is necessary that the primi
tive formula be accepted and sanctioned by the heart ;
and, similarly, the subsequent work from which are
brought forth the secondary formulas must proceed
under the guidance of the heart.
Q. How does the necessity of this vital assimilation
entail the substantial change of dogma ?
A. These formulas, in order to be living, should
be, and should remain, adapted to the faith and to him
who believes. Wherefore, if for any reason this adapta-
24 CATECHISM ON MODERNISM
tion should cease to exist, they lose their first meaning,
and accordingly need to be changed.
Q. But, then, in what consideration do Modernists
hold dogmatic formulas ?
A. In view of the fact that the character and lot
of dogmatic formulas are so unstable, it is no wonder
that Modernists should regard them so lightly and
with such open disrespect.
Q. What do they unceasingly exalt ?
A. They have no consideration or praise for any
thing but the religious sense and the religious life.
Q. What, with regard to the Church, is the attitude of
Modernists in the matter of dogmatic formulas ?
A. With consummate audacity, they criticize the
Church, as having strayed from the true path by failing
to distinguish between the religious and moral sense of
formulas and their surface meaning, and by clinging
vainly and tenaciously to meaningless formulas, while
religion itself is allowed to go to ruin.
Q. What final judgment must we pass on the Modern
ists concerning dogmatic truth ?
A. " Blind " they are, and " leaders of the blind,"
puffed up with the proud name of science, they have
reached that pitch of folly at which they pervert the
eternal concept of truth and the true meaning of
religion ; in introducing a new system in which " 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
CATECHISM ON MODERNISM 25
apostolic traditions, they embrace other and vain,
futile, uncertain doctrines, unapproved by the Church,
on which, in the height of their vanity, they think they
can base and maintain truth itself." *
THE MODERNIST AS BELIEVER
I. RELIGIOUS EXPERIENCE.
Q. Thus far We have considered the Modernist as a
philosopher. Now, if We proceed to consider him as a
believer, and seek to know how the believer, according to
Modernism, is marked off from the philosopher, what
must be done ?
A. It must be observed that, although the philo
sopher recognizes the reality of the divine as the object
of faith, still, this reality is not to be found by him but
in the heart of the believer, as an object of feeling and
affirmation, and therefore confined within the sphere
of phenomena ; but the question as to whether in itself
it exists outside that feeling and affirmation is one
which the philosopher passes over and neglects. For
the Modernist believer, on the contrary, it is an estab
lished and certain fact that the reality of the divine
does really exist in itself and quite independently of
the person who believes in it.
Q. And now we ask on what foundation this asser
tion of the believer rests.
* Gregory XVI., Encycl. Singulari Not, 7 Kal. Jul., 1834.
26 CATECHISM ON MODERNISM
A. He answers : In the personal experience of the
Q. Is it in that, then, that the Modernists differ from
the Rationalists ?
A. On this head the Modernists differ from the
Rationalists, only to fall into the views of the Protes
tants and pseudo-Mystics.
Q. Plow do they explain that, through individual
experience, they arrive at the certitude of the existence of
God in Himself ?
A. The following is their manner of stating the
question : In the religious sense one must recognize a
kind of intuition of the heart which puts man in
immediate contact with the reality of God.
Q. They attain to God without any intermediary.
But what kind of certitude do they pretend to have through
this intuition of the heart ?
A. Such a persuasion of God s existence and His
action both within and without man as far to exceed
any scientific conviction. They assert, therefore, the
existence of a real experience, and one of a kind that
surpasses all rational experience.
Q. // that is the case, whence comes it that there are
men who deny the existence of God ?
A. If this experience is denied by some, like the
Rationalists, they say that this arises from the fact
that such persons are unwilling to put themselves in
the moral state necessary to produce it.
Q. Is it, then, this individual experience which makes
the believer ?
CATECHISM ON MODERNISM 27
A. It is this experience which makes the person
who acquires it to be properly and truly a believer.
Q. But is not all that contrary to the Catholic faith ?
A. How far this position is removed from that of
Catholic teaching ! We have already seen how its
fallacies have been condemned by the Vatican Council.
Later on we shall see how these errors, combined with
those which we have already mentioned, open wide the
way to Atheism.
Q. According to such principles, does it not seem that
the Modernists must conclude that all religions are true ?
A. Evidently ; given this doctrine of experience
united with that of symbolism, every religion, even
that of paganism, must be held to be true. What is
to prevent such experiences from being found in any
religion ? In fact, that they are so is maintained by
not a few. On what grounds can Modernists deny the
truth of an experience affirmed by a follower of Islam ?
Q. Do they claim a monopoly of true experiences for
Catholics alone ?
A. Indeed, Modernists do not deny, but actually
maintain, some confusedly, others frankly, that all
religions are true.
Q. In fact, is not that an absolutely rigorous con
clusion in their system ?
A. That they cannot feel otherwise is obvious.
For on what ground, according to their theories, could
falsity be predicated of any religion whatsoever ?
Certainly it would either be on account of the falsity
of the religious sense, or on account of the falsity of
the formula pronounced by the mind. Now, the
28 CATECHISM ON MODERNISM
religious sense, 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 religions sense and to the believer, what
ever be the intellectual capacity of the latter.
Q. But do the Modernists not maintain the superiority
of the Catholic religion ?
A. In the conflict between different religions the
most that Modernists can maintain is that the Catholic
has more truth because it is more vivid, and that it
deserves with more reason the name of Christian
because it corresponds more fully with the origins of
Christianity. No one will find it unreasonable that
these consequences flow from the premisses.
Q. Do not Catholics, and even priests, act as though
they admitted such enormities ?
A. What is most amazing is that there are
Catholics and priests who, We would fain believe,
abhor such enormities, and yet act as if they fully
approved of them. For they lavish such praise and
bestow such public honour on the teachers of these
errors, as to convey the belief that their admiration is
not meant merely for the persons, who are perhaps
not devoid of a certain merit, but rather for the sake
of the errors which these persons openly profess, and
which they do all in their power to propagate.
Q. Do not the Modernists extend the principle of
religious experience also to tradition ?
A. There is yet another element in this part of
CATECHISM ON MODERNISM 29
their teaching which is absolutely contrary to Catholic
truth. For what is laid down as to experience is also
applied with destructive effect to tradition, which has
always been maintained by the Catholic Church.
Q. What, then, do the Modernists understand by
A. Tradition, as understood by the Modernists, is
a communication with others of an original experience,
through preaching, by means of the intellectual
Q. What virtue do they attribute to this intellectual
formula in relation to preaching ?
A. To this formula, in addition to its representa
tive value, they attribute a species of suggestive efficacy.
Q. And on whom does this suggestive virtue act ?
A. Firstly, in the believer by stimulating the
religious sense, should it happen to have grown sluggish,
and by renewing the experience once acquired ; and,
secondly, in those who do not yet believe, by awaken
ing in them for the first time the religious sense and
producing the experience*
Q. Is it thus, then, that religious experience engenders
A. In this way is religious experience spread
abroad among the nations ; and not merely among
contemporaries by preaching, but among future genera
tions both by books and by oral transmission from one
Q. By what test do the Modernists judge of the truth
of a tradition ?
30 CATECHISM ON MODERNISM
A. Sometimes this communication of religious
experience takes root and thrives, at other times it
withers at once and dies. For the Modernists, to live
is a proof of truth, since for them life and truth are
one and the same thing.
Q. // every religion that is living is true, what further
conclusion must we come to ?
A. That all existing religions are equally true, for
otherwise they would not survive.
III. RELATION BETWEEN FAITH AND SCIENCE.
Q. Can we now have somi idea, of the relations which
the Modernists establish between faith and science,
including, under this latter term, history ?
A. We have proceeded sufficiently far to have
before us enough, and more than enough, to enable us
to see what are the relations which Modernists establish
between faith and science including, as they are wont
to do, under that name, history.
Q. What difference do they make between the object
of the one and of the other ?
A. In the first place it is to be held that the
object-matter of the one is quite extraneous to and
separate from the object-matter of the other. For
faith occupies itself solely with something which
science declares to be for it unknowable. Hence each
has a separate scope assigned to it : science is entirely
concerned with phenomena, into which faith does not
at all enter ; faith, on the contrary, concerns itself
with the divine, which is entirely unknown to science.
CATECHISM ON MODERNISM 31
Q. Then, according to them, no conflict is possible
between faith and science ?
A. It is contended that there can never be any
dissension between faith and science, for if each keeps
on its own ground they can never meet, and therefore
never can be in contradiction.
Q. And if it be objected that in the visible world there
are some things which appertain to faith, such as the
human life of Christ ?
A. The Modernists reply by denying this.
Q. How can they deny it ?
A. They say : Though such things come within
the category of phenomena, still, in as far as they are
lived by faith, and in the way already described have
been by faith transfigured and disfigured, they have
been removed from the world of sense and transferred
into material for the divine.
Q- Hence, should it be further asked whether Christ
has wrought real miracles, and made real prophecies,
whether He rose tru j y from the dead and ascended into
heaven, ivhat do they answer ?
A. The answer of agnostic science will be in the
The answer of faith in the affirmative.
Q. But is not iliat a flagrant contradiction between
science and faith ?
A.- There will not be, on that account, any conflict
between them. For it will be denied by the philo
sopher as a philosopher speaking to philosophers and
considering Christ only in His historical reality ; and
32 CATECHISM ON MODERNISM
it will be affirmed by the believer as a believer speaking
to believers and considering the life of Christ as lived
again by the faith and in the faith.
Q. Faith and science acting thus in entirely separate
fields, will there be, according to the Modernists, no
subordination of the one to the other ?
A. It would be a great mistake to suppose that,
according to these theories, one is allowed to believe
that faith and science are entirely independent of each
other. On the side of science that is indeed quite
true and correct, but it is quite otherwise with regard
to faith, which is subject to science.
Q. Faith subject to science ! But on what ground ?
A. Not on one, but on three grounds.
Q. According to the Modernists, what is the first
A. In the first place it must be observed that in
every religious fact, when one takes away the divine
reality and the experience of it which the believer
possesses, everything else, and especially the religious
formulas, belongs to the sphere of phenomena, and
therefore falls under the control of science. Let the
believer go out of the world if he will, but so long as
he remains in it, whether he like it or not, he cannot
escape from the laws, the observation, the judgments
of science and of history.
Q. What is the second ground of the subordination
of faith to science ?
A. Further, although it is contended that God is
the object of faith alone, the statement refers only to
the divine reality, not to the idea of God. The latter
CATECHISM ON MODERNISM 33
also is subject to science, which, while it philosophizes
in what is called the logical order, soars also to the
absolute and the ideal. It is, therefore, the right of
philosophy and of science to form its knowledge con
cerning the idea of God, to direct it in its evolution,
and to purify it of any extraneous elements which may
have entered into it. Hence we have the Modernist
axiom that the religious evolution ought to be brought
into accord with the moral and intellectual, or, as one
whom they regard as their leader has expressed it,
ought to be subject to it.
Q. What is the third ground ?
A. Finally, man does not suffer a dualism to exist
in himself, and the believer therefore feels within him
an impelling need so to harmonize faith with science,
that it may never oppose the general conception which
science sets forth concerning the universe.
Q. Than, according to the Modernist doctrine, faith
is in bondage to science ?
A. Yes. It is evident that science is to be
entirely independent of faith, while, on the other hand,
and notwithstanding that they are supposed to be
strangers to each other, faith is made subject to science.
Q. How did Pius IX. and Gregory IX. stigmatize
such doctrines ?
A. All this is in formal opposition to the teaching
of Our Predecessor, Pius IX., where he lays it down
that : " In matters of religion it is the duty of philo
sophy not to command, but to serve ; not to prescribe
what is to be believed, but to embrace what is to be
believed with reasonable obedience ; not to scrutinize
34 CATECHISM; ON MODERNISM
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 which another of
Our Predecessors, Gregory IX., addressed to some
theologians of his time : " Some among you, puffed
up like bladders with the spirit of vanity, strive by
profane novelties to cross the boundaries fixed by the
Fathers, twisting the meaning of the Sacred Text . . .
to the philosophical teaching of the rationalists, not
for the profit of their hearer, but to make a show of
science. . . . These men, led away by various and
strange doctrines, turn the head into the tail, and force
the queen to serve the handmaid." f
IV. PRACTICAL CONSEQUENCES.
Q. Is the conduct of Catholic Modernists in keeping
with their principles ?
A. This will appear more clearly to anybody who
studies the conduct of Modernists, which is in perfect
harmony with their teachings. In their writings and
addresses they seem not unfrequently to advocate
doctrines which are contrary one to the other, so that
one would be disposed to regard their attitude as double
and doubtful. But this is done deliberately and
advisedly, and the reason of it is to be found in their
opinion as to the mutual separation of science and
faith. Thus, in their books one finds some things
which might well be approved by a Catholic, but on
turning over the page one is confronted by other
* Brief to the Bishop of Wratislau, June 15, 1857.
| Ep. ad Magistros theol. Paris, non. Jul., 1223.
CATECHISM ON MODERNISM 35
things which might well have been dictated by a
Q. Do they not play a double part in matters of
A. 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 are
dealing with history, they take no account of the
Fathers and the Councils, but when they catechize
the people they cite them respectfully.
Q. And in matters of exegesis ?
A. In the same way they draw their distinctions
between exegesis which is theological and pastoral and
exegesis which is scientific and historical.
Q. Is this done also in other scientific work ?
A. So, too, when they treat of philosophy, history,
and criticism, acting on the principle that science in
no way depends upon faith, they feel no especial
horror in treading in the footsteps of Luther,* and are
wont to display a manifold contempt for Catholic
doctrines, for the Holy Fathers, for the (Ecumenical
Councils, for the ecclesiastical Magisterium ; and
should they be taken to task for this, they complain
that they are being deprived of their liberty.
Q. What is, consequently, the conduct of Catholic
Modernists ivith regard to the Church s magisterium ?
A. Maintaining the theory that faith must be
* Prop. 29, condemned by Leo X., Bull, Exsurge Domine,
May 16, 1520 : It is permissible to us to invalidate the authority of
Councils, freely to gainsay their acts, to judge of their decrees, and
confidently to assert whatever seems to us to be true, whether it
has been approved or reprobated bv any Council whatsoever.
36 CATECHISM ON MODERNISM
subject to science, they continuously and openly rebuke
the Church on the ground that she resolutely refuses
to submit and accommodate her dogmas to the opinions
Q. As to them, how do they treat Catholic theology ?
A. They, on their side, having for this purpose
blotted out the old theology, endeavour to introduce
a new theology which shall support the aberrations of
THE MODERNIST AS THEOLOGIAN
I. THEOLOGICAL IMMANENCE AND SYMBOLISM.
Q. At this point the way is opened for us to consider
the Modernists in the theological arena a difficult task,
yet one that may be disposed of briefly. What, then, does
their system seek to do ?
A. It is a question of effecting the conciliation
of faith with science, but always by making the one
subject to the other.
Q What is the Modernist system ?
A. In this matter the Modernist theologian takes
exactly the same principles which we have seen em
ployed by the Modernist philosopher the principles
of immanence and symbolism and applies them to the
Q. What is the process ?
A. The process is an extremely simple one. The
CATECHISM ON MODERNISM 37
philosopher has declared : The principle of faith is
immanent ; the believer has added : This principle is
God ; and the theologian draws the conclusion : God
is immanent in man. Thus we have theological im
So, too, the philosopher regards it as certain that
the representations of the object of faith are merely
symbolical ; the believer has likewise affirmed that
the object of faith is God in Himself ; and the theologian
proceeds to affirm that : The representations of the
divine reality are Symbolical. And thus we have
Q. What judgment must be passed on this theological
immanence and symbolism ?
A. These errors are truly of the gravest kind, and
the pernicious character of both will be seen clearly
from an examination of their consequences.
Q. To begin with theological symbolism, what conse
quences follow from it ?
A. To begin with symbolism, since symbols are
but symbols in regard to their objects, and only
instruments in regard to the believer, two consequences
Q. What is the first consequence ?
A. It is necessary, first of all, according to the
teachings of the Modernists, that the believer do not
lay too much stress on the formula as formula, but
avail himself of it only for the purpose of uniting
himself to the absolute truth which the formula", at
once reveals and conceals, that is to say, endeavours
to express, but without ever succeeding in doing so.
38 CATECHISM ON MODERNISM
Q. What is the second consequence ?
A. They would also have the believer make use
of the formulas only in so far as they are helpful to
him ; for they are given to be a help, and not a hin
Q. Must, then, the believer employ the formulas as
he finds them convenient ?
A. Yes, answers the Modernist, but with proper
regard for the social respect due to formulas which
the public magisterium has deemed suitable for
expressing the common consciousness, until such time
as the same magisterium shall provide otherwise.
Q. And, as regards theological immanence, what is
really the meaning of the Modernists ?
A. Concerning immanence, it is not easy to deter
mine what Modernists precisely mean by it, for their
own opinions on the subject vary.
Q. What are these different opinions of the Modern
ists, and their consequences ?
A. Some understand it in the sense that God
working in man is more intimately present in him
than man is even in himself, and this conception, if
properly understood, is irreproachable. Others hold
that the divine action is one with the action of nature,
as the action of the first cause is one with the action
of the secondary cause ; and this would destroy the
supernatural order. Others, finally, explain it in ^
way which savours of Pantheism, and this, in truth ; is
the sense which best fits in with the rest of their
CATECHISM ONfMODERNISM 39
II. DIVINE PERMANENCE.
Q. With this principle of immanence is there not,
according to the Modernists, another one connected ?
A. With this principle of immanence is connected
another, which may be called the principle of divine
Q. In what does this principle differ from the first ?
A. It differs from the first in much the same way
as the private experience differs from the experience
transmitted by tradition.
Q. That is not very clear. Will you not explain this
A. An example illustrating what is meant will be
found in the Church and the Sacraments.
Q. What do they say about the institution of the
Church and the Sacraments ?
A. The Church and the Sacraments, according to
the Modernists, are not to be regarded as having been
instituted by Christ Himself.
Q. But how is that ? How is the immediate institu
tion by Christ of the Church and the Sacraments opposed
to the principles of the Modernists ?
A. This is barred by Agnosticism, which recognizes
in Christ nothing more than a man whose religious
consciousness has been, like that of all men, formed by
degrees ; it is also barred by the law of immanence,
which rejects what they call external application ; it
is further barred by the law of evolution, which requires
for the development of the germs time and a certain
CATECHISM ON MODERNISM
series of circumstances ; it is, finally, barred by history,
which shows that such, in fact, has been the course of
Q. In that case the Church and the Sacraments have
not been instituted by Christ ?
A. Still it is to be held, they affirm, that both
Church and Sacraments have been founded mediately
Q. But how ? That is, how do the Modernist theo
logians endeavour to prove this divine origin of the
Church and the Sacraments ?
A. In this way : All Christian consciences were,
they affirm, in a manner virtually included in the con
science of Christ, as the plant is included in the seed.
But as the branches live the life of the seed, so, too, all
Christians are to be said to live the life of Christ. But
the life of Christ, according to faith, is divine, and
so, too, is the life of Christians. And if this life pro
duced, in the course of ages, both the Church and the
Sacraments, it is quite right to say that their origin is
from Christ, and is divine.
Q. Do the Modernist theologians proceed in the same
way to establish the divinity of the Holy Scriptures and
of dogmas ?
A. In the same way they make out that the Holy
Scriptures and the dogmas are divine.
Q. Is this the ivhole of the Modernist theology ?
A. In this the Modernist theology may be said to
reach its completion. A slender provision, in truth,
but more than enough for the theologian who professes
that the conclusions of science, whatever they may be,
must always be accepted. ! No one will have any diffi
culty in making the application of these theories to the
other points with which We propose to deal. *
THE RELIGIOUS PHILOSOPHY OF THE MODERNISTS
(Continued) BRANCHES OF THE FAITH
Q. Thus far We have touched upon the origin and
nature of faith. But as faith has many branches, and
chief among them the Church, dogma, ivorship, devotions,
and the books which we call " sacred," it concerns us to
know what do the Modernists teach concerning them ?
A. To begin with dogma (We have already indi
cated its origin and nature), according to them,
dogma is born of a sort of impulse or necessity by
virtue of which the believer elaborates his thought so as
to render it clearer to his own conscience*]- and that of
* The Sovereign Pontiff seems here to declare that it were super
fluous to follow the believer and the theologian as well as the
philosopher in what concerns the branches of the faith, as he has
done for the faith itself. That is why, after putting under our eyes
the hand-baggage of Modernist theology, and showing us how
easy it is to follow up the parallelism, he will limit himself, except
for some passing indications, to setting forth the Modernist philo
sophy concerning the branches of the faith. He leaves it to us to
apply the principles of theology. AUTHOR.
f The Latin word conscientia denotes all kinds of conscious
ness, including that which is concerned with conduct, and is called
conscience. Here, perhaps, the word had better be rendered con
sciousness. J. F.
42 CATECHISM ON MODERNISM
Q. In what does this elaboration consist ?
A. This elaboration consists entirely in the pro
cess of investigating and refining the primitive mental
Q. Is this elaboration a matter of reasoning and
A. No, they reply; not indeed in itself and accord
ing to any logical explanation, but according to circum
stances, or vitally, as the Modernists somewhat less
intelligibly describe it.
Q. What is it that this elaboration produces, according
to the Modernist theologians ?
A. Around this primitive formula secondary for
mulas, as We have already indicated, gradually
come to be formed, and these subsequently grouped
into one body, or one doctrinal construction, and
further sanctioned by the public magisterium as
responding to the common consciousness, are called
Q. Do the Modernists distinguish dogma from theo
logical speculations ?
A. Dogma is to be carefully distinguished from
the speculations of theologians.
Q. Of what use are these theological speculations ?
A. Although not alive with the life of dogma,
these are not without their utility as serving both to
harmonize religion with science and to remove oppo
sition between them, and to illumine and defend
religion from without, and it may be even to prepare
the matter for future dogma.
Q. What is the theological doctrine of the Modernists
concerning worship and the Sacraments ?
A. Concerning worship there would not be much
to be said, were it not that under this head are com
prised the Sacraments, concerning which the Modernist
errors are of the most serious character.
Q. Whence, according to them, does worship spring ?
A. For them worship is* the resultant of a double
impulse or need ; for, as we have seen, everything in
their system is explained by inner impulses or neces
Q. What is this double need of which the Modernist
theologians speak ?
A. The first need is that of giving some sensible
manifestation to religion ; the second is that of propa
gating f it, which could not be done without some
sensible form and consecrating acts, and these are
Q. What do the Modernists mean by Sacraments ?
A. For the Modernists, Sacraments are bare
symbols or signs, though not devoid of a certain
* The Official Translation has, For them the Sacraments are,
etc. a particular case, whereas the Latin has Cultum in
general. J. F.
f This word is used in the United States ; and the French and
Italian versions also speak here of propagating, and not of ex
pressing religion which were to repeat the idea of the preceding
phrase. J. F.
44 CATECHISM ON MODERNISM
Q. To what do the. Modernist theologians compare
the efficacy of the Sacraments ?
A. It is an efficacy, they tell us, like that of
certain phrases vulgarly described as having caught
the popular ear, inasmuch as they have the power of
putting certain leading ideas into circulation, and of
making a marked impression upon the mind. What
the phrases are to the ideas, that the Sacraments are
to the religious sense.
Q. Are they only that ?
A. That, and nothing more. The Modernists
would express their mind more clearly were they to
affirm that the Sacraments are instituted solely to
foster the faith ; but this is condemned by the Council
of Trent : " If anyone say that these Sacraments are
instituted solely to foster the faith, let him be
III. SACRED SCRIPTURE INSPIRATION.
Q. What, for the Modernist theologians, are the
Sacred Scriptures ?
A. We have already touched upon the nature and
origin of the Sacred Books. According to the prin
ciples of the Modernists, they may be rightly described
as a summary of experiences, not, indeed, of the kind
that may now and again come to anybody, but those
extraordinary and striking experiences which are the
possession of every religion.
Q. But does this description apply also to our Sacred
* Sess. VII., de Sacramentis in genere, can. 5.
CATECHISM ON MODERNISM 45
A. This is precisely what they teach about our
books of the Old and New Testament.
Q. Experience is always concerned with the present ;
but the Sacred Scriptures contain the history of the past
and prophecies of the future. How, then, can the
Modernists call them summaries of experience ?
A. To suit their own theories they note with re
markable ingenuity that, although experience is some
thing belonging to the present, still it may draw its
material in like manner from the past and the future,
inasmuch as the believer by memory lives the past over
again after the manner of the present, and lives the
future already by anticipation. This explains how
it is that the historical and apocalyptic books are
included among the Sacred Writings.
Q. Are not the Sacred Scriptures the word of God ?
A. God does indeed speak in these books through
the medium of the believer, but, according to Modernist
theology, only by immanence and vital permanence.
Q. What, then, becomes of inspiration ?
A. Inspiration, they reply, is in nowise dis
tinguished from that impulse which stimulates the
believer to reveal the faith that is in him by words or
writing, except perhaps by its vehemence. It is
something like that which happens in poetical in
spiration, of which it has been said : " There is a God
in us, and when He stirreth He sets us afire." It is
in this sense that God is said to be the origin of the
inspiration of the Sacred Books.
Q. Do they say that inspiration is general ? And what
of inspiration, from the Catholic point of view ?
46 CATECHISM OX MODERNISM
A. The Modernists affirm concerning this inspira
tion, that there is nothing in the Sacred Books which is
devoid of it. In this respect some might be disposed
to consider them as more orthodox than certain writers
in recent times who somewhat restrict inspiration, as,
for instance, in what have been put forward as so-
called tacit citations. But in all this we have mere
verbal conjuring ; for if we take the Bible according to
the standards of agnosticism, namely, as a human
work, made by men for men, albeit the theologian is
allowed to proclaim that it is divine by immanence
what room is there left in it for inspiration ? The
Modernists assert a general inspiration of the Sacred
Books, but they admit no inspiration in the Catholic
IV. THE CHUECH : HER ORIGIN, HER NATURE, AND
Q. A wider field for comment is opened when we come
to what the Modernist school has imagined to be the
nature of the Church. 1 What, according to them, is the
origin of the Church ?
A. They begin with the supposition that the
Church has its birth in a double need : first, the need of
the individual believer to communicate his faith to
others, especially if he has had some original and
special experience ; and, secondly, when the faith has
become common to many, the need of the collectivity
to form itself into a society and to guard, promote, and
propagate the common good.
Q. What, then, is the Church ?
A. It is the product of the collective conscience,
CATECHISM OX MODERNISM 47
that is to say. of the association of individual con
sciences which, by virtue of the principle of vital
permanence, depend all on one first believer, who for
Catholics is Christ.
Q. Whence comes in the Catholic Church, according
to the Modernist theologians, disciplinary, doctrinal, and
liturgical authority ?
A. Every society needs a directing authori:
guide its members towards the common end. to foster
prudently the elements of cohesion, which in a religious
society are doctrine and worship. Hence the triple
authority in the Catholic Church, disciplinary, dogmatic,
Q. Whence do they gather the nature and lie rights
and duties of this authority ?
A. * The nature of this authority is to be gathered
from its origin, and its rights and duties from its
Q. What do the Modernist theologians say of the
Church s authority in the past ?
A. In past times it was a common error that
authority came to the Church from without, that is
to say. directly from God ; and it was then rightly
held to be autocratic.
Q.And what of the, Church s authority to-day ?
A. * This conception has now grown obsolete : for
in the same way as the Church is a vital emanation of
the collectivity of consciences, so, too. authority
emanates vitally from the Church itself.
Q. Does the Church s authority, then, according to
48 CATECHISM ON MODERNISM
the Modernist theologians, depend on the collective con
A. Authority, like the Church, has its origin in
the religious conscience, and, that being so, is subject
Q. And if the Church denies this dependence, what
does it become, according to this doctrine ?
A. Should it disown this dependence, it becomes
Q. But is not that equivalent to establishing popular
government in the Church ?
A. We are living in an age when the sense of
liberty has reached its highest development. In the
civil order the public conscience has introduced
popular government. Now, there is in man only one
conscience, just as there is only one life. It is for the
ecclesiastical authority, therefore, to adopt a demo
cratic form, unless it wishes to provoke and foment an
intestine conflict in the consciences of mankind.
Q. The Church not yielding to this Modernist doc
trine, what will happen to the Church and religion
A. The penalty of refusal is disaster, they say.
For it is madness to think that the sentiment of
liberty, as it now obtains, can recede. Were it forcibly
pent up and held in bonds, the more terrible would be
its outburst, sweeping away at once both Church and
: Q. According to the ideas of the Modernists, what is,
in short, their great anxiety ?
CATECHISM ON MODERNISM 49
A. Such is the situation in the minds of the
Modernists, and their one great anxiety is, in con
sequence, to find a way of conciliation between the
authority of the Church and the liberty of the be
V. CHURCH AND STATE.
Q. Is not the Church in relation ivith civil societies ?
A. It is not only within her own household that
the Church must come to terms. Besides her relations
with those within, she has others with those who are
outside. The Church does not occupy the world all by
herself ; there are other societies in the world, with
which she must necessarily have dealings and con
Q. How, according to the Modernist theologians, are
these relations to be determined ?
A. The rights and duties of the Church towards
civil societies must be determined, and determined, of
course, by her own nature that, to wit, which the
Modernists have already described to us.
Q. What rules do they apply to the relations between
Church and State ?
A. The rules to be applied in this matter are
clearly those which have been laid down for science
and faith, though in the latter case the question turned
upon the object, while in the present case we have one
of ends. In the same way, then, as faith and science
are alien to each other by reason of the diversity of
their objects, Church and State are strangers by reason
of the diversity of their ends, that of the Church being
spiritual, while that of the State is temporal.
50 CATECHISM ON MODERNISM
QHow is it, according to the Modernists, that
power was formerly attributed to the Church which is
refused her to-day ?
A Formerly it was possible to subordinate the
temporal to the spiritual, and to speak of some ques
tions as mixed, conceding to the Church the posit,
of queen and mistress in all such, because the Chui
was then regarded as having been instituted imme
diately by God as the author of the supernatural order.
But this doctrine is to-day repudiated alike by philc
sophers and historians.
Q.Do they, then, demand the separation of Church
and State ?
A. Yes. The State must be separated from t
Church, and the Catholic from the citizen.
Q._In practice what, according to them, ought to
be the attitude of the Catholic as a citizen ?
A - Every Catholic, from the fact that he is also a
citizen, has the right and the duty to woi rk for the
common good in the way he thinks best without
troubling himself about the authority of the Church
without g payin g any heed to its wishes its counsels, its
orders-nay, even in spite of its rebukes.
Q.-Has the Church, then, no right to prescribe to
the Catholic citizen any line of action ?
A _ For the Church to trace out and prescribe for
the citizen any line of action, on any pretext what
soever, is to be guilty of an abuse of autb
O -If the Church attempts to intervene, and, con
sequently, according to the Modernist doctrine, commits
an abuse, what is to be done ?
CATECHISM ON MODERNISM 51
A. One is bound to protest with all one s might.
Q. Have, these principles not been already con
demned by the Church ?
A. The principles from which these doctrines
spring have been solemnly condemned by Our Pre
decessor, Pius VI., in his Apostolic Constitution,
Q. Is it enough for the Modernists to demand the
separation of Church and State ?
A. It is not enough for the Modernist school that
the State should be separated from the Church. For
as faith is to be subordinated to science as far as
phenomenal elements are concerned, so, too, in tem
poral matters the Church must be subject to the
Q.Have they really the audacity to teach this ?
A. This, indeed, Modernists may not say openly,
but they are forced by the logic of their position to
Q How does such an enormity follow from the
principles of the Modernists ?
A. Granted the principle that in temporal matters
* Piiop 2 The proposition which maintains that power was
given by God to the Church to be communicated to the Pastors
who are her ministers for the salvation of souls-umlerstood in the
sense that the Church s power of ministry and government is
derived by the Pastors from the faithful in general-is heretical
Further, that which maintains that the Roman PontifF
is the ministerial Head-ex, Q the sense that the Eoman
Pontiff receives not from Christ in the person of Blessed Peter,
but from the Church, the ministerial power with which, as suc
cessor of Peter, true Vicar of Christ, and Head over the whole
ch he is invested throughout the Universal Church is
52 CATECHISM ON MODERNISM
the State possesses the sole power, it will follow that
when the believer, not satisfied with merely internal
acts of religion, proceeds to external acts such, for
instance, as the reception or administration of the
Sacraments these will fall under the control of
the State. What will then become of ecclesiastical
authority, which can only be exercised by external
acts ? Obviously it will be completely under the
dominion of the State.
Q. But, then, does it not seem that to be free from this
yoke of the State, there would be, if Modernists had their
way, no longer any possibility of having external worship,
or even any sort of religious fellowship ?
A. It is this inevitable consequence which urges
many among liberal Protestants to reject all external
worship nay, all external religious fellowship and
leads them to advocate what they call individual
Q. The Modernists have not yet got to that point ;
but how are they preparing men s minds for it, and
what do they say about the Church s disciplinary
A. If the Modernists have not yet openly proceeded
so far, they ask the Church in the meanwhile to follow
of her own accord in the direction in which they urge
her, and to adapt herself to the forms of the State.
Such are their ideas about disciplinary authority.
Q. And of what kind are their opinions on doctrinal
A. Much more evil and pernicious are their
opinions on doctrinal and dogmatic authority.
CATECHISM ON MODERNISM 53
Q. What is their conception of the magisterium of
the Church ?
A. The following is their conception of the magis
terium of the Church : No religious society, they say,
can be a real unit unless the religious conscience of
its members be one, and also the formula which they
adopt. But this double unity requires a kind of
common mind, whose office is to find and determine the
formula that corresponds best with the common con
science ; and it must have, moreover, an authority
sufficient to enable it to impose on the community the
formula which has been decided upon. From the
combination and, as it were, fusion of these two
elements, the common mind which draws up tho
formula and tho authority which imposes it, arises,
according to the Modernists, the notion of the ecclesi
Q. That is democracy pure and simple, is it not, and
the subordination of the teaching authority to the judgment
of the people ?
A. They avow it and say, as this magisterium
springs, in its last analysis, from the individual con
sciences, and possesses its mandate of public utility
for their benefit, it necessarily follows that the eccle
siastical magisterium must bo dependent upon them,
and should therefore be made to bow to the popular
Q. Do the Modernist theologians, then, accuse the
Church of abusing her magisterium ?
A. To prevent individual consciences from ex
pressing freely and openly tho impulses they feel, to
hinder criticism from urging forward dogma in the
54 CATECHISM ON MODERNISM
path of its necessary evolution, they say, is not a
legitimate use but an abuse of a power given for the
Q. Is the Church supreme in the exercise of the
authority which the Modernists do concede to her ?
A. No. A duo method and measure must be
observed in the exercise of authority. To condemn
and prescribe a work without the knowledge of the
author, without hearing his explanations, without dis
cussion, is something approaching to tyranny.
Q- In short, ivhat must be done to please these
Modernist theologians ?
A. Here again it is a question of finding a way of
reconciling the full rights of authority on the one
hand and those of liberty on the other.
Q. In the meantime what must the Catholic do,
according to them ?
A. In the meantime the proper course for the
Catholic will be to proclaim publicly his profound
respect for authority, while never ceasing to follow his
Q. In revolt as they are against the authority of the
Church, do the Modernist theologians at least accord to
the Church the right to a certain solemnity of worship and
a certain exterior splendour ?
A. Their general direction for the Church is as
follows : that the ecclesiastical authority, since its
end is entirely spiritual, should strip itself of that
external pomp which adorns it in the eyes of the
public. In this they forget that, while religion is for
CATECHISM ON MODERNISM 55
the soul, it is not exclusively for the soul, and that the
honour paid to authority is reflected back on Christ
who instituted it.
Q. Have we considered the entire doctrine of the
Modernist theologians ?
A. To conclude this whole question of faith and
its various branches, we have still to consider what the
Modernists have to say about the development of the
one and the other.
Q. How do they pass to the principal point in their
A. First of all, they lay down the general prin
ciple that in a living religion everything is subject to
change, and must in fact be changed. In this way
they pass to what is practically their principal doctrine,
Q. According to the Modernists, what in theology is
subject to evolution ?
A. To the laws of evolution everything is subject
v \,der penalty of death dogma, Church, worship, the
Books we revere as Sacred, even faith itself.
Q. Is that the general principle ?
A. Yes ; and the enunciation of this principle
will not be a matter of surprise to anyone who bears in
mind what the Modernists have had to say about each
of these subjects.
Q. How do the Modernists apply the principle of
56 CATECHISM ON MODERNISM
evolution and put its laws into effect ? And first, with
regard to faith, what was its primitive form ?
A. Having laid down this law of evolution, the
Modernists themselves teach us how it operates. And
first with regard to faith. The primitive form of
faith, they tell us, was rudimentary and common to all
men alike, for it had its origin in human nature and
Q. How, according to the Modernists, did faith
A. Vital evolution brought with it progress, not
by the accretion of new and purely adventitious forms
from without, but by an increasing perfusion of the
religious sense into the conscience.
Q. What kind of progress was there in faith ?
A. The progress was of two kinds : negative, by
the elimination of all extraneous elements, such, for
example, as those derived from the family or nation
ality ; and positive, by that intellectual and moral
refining of man, by means of which the idea of the
divine became fuller and clearer, while the religious
sense became more acute.
VII. CAUSES OF EVOLUTION : CONSERVATIVE AND
PROGRESSIVE FORCES IN THE CHURCH.
Q. To what causes must one have recourse to explain
this progress of faith ?
A. For the progress of faith the same causes are
to be assigned as those which are adduced above to
explain its origin. But to them must bo added those
CATECHISM ON MODERNISM 57
extraordinary men whom we call prophets, of whom
Christ was the greatest.
Q. How, as Modernist theologians understand it, did
these extraordinary men contribute to progress in faith ?
A. Both because in their lives and their words
there was something mysterious which faith attributed
to the Divinity, and because it fell to their lot to have
new and original experiences fully in harmony with the
religious needs of their time.
Q. To what especially do the Modernists attribute the
progress of faith ?
A. The progress of dogma is due chiefly to the
fact that obstacles to faith have to be surmounted,
enemies have to be vanquished, and objections have
to be refuted. Add to this a perpetual striving to
penetrate ever more profoundly into those things
which are contained in the mysteries of faith.
Q. Explain all this to us by an example how,
according to the Modernists, did men come to proclaim
the divinity of Christ ?
A. Thus, putting aside other examples, it is
found to have happened in the case of Christ : in Him
that divine something which faith recognized in Him
was slowly and gradually expanded in such a way that
He was at last held to be God.
Q. What has been the principal factor in the evolu
tion of worship ?
A. The chief stimulus of the evolution of worship
consists in the need of accommodation to the manners
and customs of peoples, as well as the need of availing
58 CATECHISM ON MODERNISM
itself of the value which certain acts have acquired
Q. What has been the factor of evolution in the
A. Finally, evolution in the Church itself is fed
by the need of adapting itself to historical conditions
and of harmonizing itself with existing forms of
Q. That is evolution in detail. What is, in the
system of the Modernists, its essential basis ?
A. Such is their view with regard to each. And
here, before proceeding further, We wish to draw
attention to this whole theory of necessities or needs,
for beyond all that We have seen, it is, as it were, the
base and foundation of that famous method which they
describe as historical.
Q. In this theory of needs have we the entire Modernist
doctrine on evolution ?
A. Although evolution is urged on by needs or
necessities, yet, if controlled by these alone, it would
easily overstep the boundaries of tradition, and thus,
separated from its primitive vital principle, would
make for ruin instead of progress.
Q. What, then, must be added to render complete the
idea of the Modernists ?
A. By those who study more closely the ideas
of the Modernists, evolution is described as a
resultant from the conflict of two forces, one of
them tending towards progress, the other towards
CATECHISM ON MODERNISM 59
Q. What, in the Church, is the conserving force ?
A. The conserving force exists in the Church, and
is found in tradition ; tradition is represented by
Q. How does religious authority represent this con
serving force ?
A. It represents this both by right and in fact.
For by right it is in the very nature of authority to
protect tradition ; and in fact, since authority, raised
as it is above the contingencies of life, feels hardly, or
not at all, the spurs of progress.
Q. Where is found the progressive force ?
A. The progressive force, on the contrary, which
responds to the inner needs, lies in the individual con
sciences and works in them, especially in such of
them as are in more close and intimate contact with
Q. Then, do Modernists place the progressive force
outside the hierarchy ?
A. Undoubtedly they do. Already we observe
the introduction of that most pernicious doctrine
which would make of the laity the factor of progress
in the Church.
Q. By what combination of the conservative and the
progressive force are wrought, according to the Modernists,
modifications and progress in the Church ?
A. It is by a species of covenant and compromise
between these two forces of conservation and progress
that is to say, between authority and individual
60 CATECHISM ON MODERNISM
consciences that changes and advances take place.
The individual consciences, or some of them, act on
the collective conscience, which brings pressure to
bear on the depositaries of authority to make terms
and to keep to them.
VIII. PRACTICAL CONSEQUENCES.
Q. What, then, must the Modernists think when they
are reprimanded or punished by religious authority ?
A. 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. They
understand the needs of consciences better than any
one else, since they come into closer touch with thorn
than does the ecclesiastical authority nay, they
embody them, so to speak, in themselves. Hence for
them to speak and to write publicly is a bounden duty.
Let authority rebuke them if 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.
Q. What attitude do Modernists adopt ivhen punished
by the Church ?
A. They reflect that, after all, there is no progress
without a battle, and no battle without its victims ;
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, they readily admit that it is only doing
its duty as authority. Their sole grief is that it remains
CATECHISM ON MODERNISM 61
deaf to their warnings, for in this way it impedes the
progress of souls.
Q. Have they any hope left ?
A. They assure us that the hour will most surely
oome when further delay will be impossible ; for if the
laws of evolution may be checked for a while, they
annot be finally evaded.
Q. Do they at least pause in following out their
A. They go their way, reprimands and condem
nations notwithstanding, masking an incredible auda
city under a mock semblance of humility. While they
make a pretence of bowing their heads, their minds
and hands are more boldly intent than ever on carrying
out their purposes.
Q. Why do the Modernists pretend to submit ? Why,
like heretics, do they not leave the Church ?
A. 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.
Q. Transform the collective conscience .? But, ac
cording to their principles, ought they not to submit
themselves to this collective conscience ?
A. * In saying this, they fail to perceive that they
are avowing that the collective conscience is not with
them, and that they have no right to claim to be its
62 CATECHISM ON MODERNISM
Q What conclusion must we come to with regard to
Modernist teaching ?
A. That for the Modernists, whether as authors
or propagandists, there is to be nothing stable, nothing
immutable, in the Church.
Q. Have they had any forerunners ?
A. Nor, indeed, are they without forerunners 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 dis
covery susceptible of perfection by human efforts."
Q.Do the Modernists offer us, on the subject of reve
lation and dogma, a really new doctrine ? Has it not
already been condemned ?
A. 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 revela
tion is imperfect, and, therefore, subject to continual
and indefinite progress, corresponding with the pro
gress of human reason ";f and condemned still more
solemnly in the Vatican Council : " The doctrine of
the faith which God has revealed has not been pro
posed to human intelligences to be perfected by them
as if it were a philosophical system, but as a divine
* Eccycl. Qui Plurilus, Novtrubci 9, 1846. | Byll. Prop. 5,
CATECHISM ON MODERNISM 63
deposit entrusted to the Spouse of Christ, to be faith
fully guarded and infallibly interpreted. Hence also
that sense of the sacred dogmas is to be perpetually
retained 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." *
Q. Does the Church, deciding this, intend to oppose
the development of our knowledge, even concerning the
A. Nor is the development of our knowledge,
even concerning the faith, barred by this pronounce
ment ; on the contrary, it is supported and maintained.
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, through
out the ages and the centuries but only in its own
kind, that is, according to the same dogma, the same
sense, the same acceptation." f
THE MODERNIST AS HISTORIAN AND AS CRITIC
I. APPLICATION OF THE PRINCIPLE OF
Q. We have studied the Modernist as philosopher,
believer, and theologian. What remains to be con
* Const., Dei Filius, cap. iv. ( Loc. cit.
64 CATECHISM ON MODERNISM
A. It now remains for us to consider him as his
torian, critic, apologist, and reformer.
Q. What do certain Modernists, devoted to historical
studies, seem to fear ?
A. Some Modernists, devoted to historical studies,
seem to be deeply anxious not to be taken for philo
Q. What do they tell us as to their competence in
A. About philosophy they profess to know nothing
Q. Is this profession of ignorance sincere ?
A. No. In this they display remarkable astute
Q. Why, then, do the Modernist historians pretend to
be ignorant of philosophy ?
A. They are particularly desirous not to be sus
pected of any prepossession in favour of philosophical
theories which would lay them open to the charge of
not being, as they call it, objective.
Q. Do the Modernist historians, in spite of their
assertions to the contrary, really allow themselves to be
influenced by philosophical systems ?
A. The truth is that their history and their
criticism are saturated with their philosophy, and that
their historico-critical conclusions are the natural
outcome of their philosophical principles. This will
be patent to anyone who reflects.
Q. What are the three philosophical principles from
CATECHISM ON MODERNISM 65
which the Modernist historians deduce the three laws of
A. Their three first laws are contained in those
three principles of their philosophy already dealt with :
the principle of agnosticism, the theorem of the trans
figuration of things by faith, and that other which may
be called the principle of disfiguration.
Q. According to the Modernists, what historical law
follows from the philosophical principle of agnosticism ?
A. Agnosticism tells us that history, like science,
deals entirely with phenomena.
Q. What conclusion directly follows from this first
historical law deduced from agnosticism ?
A. The consequence is that God, and every in
tervention of God in human affairs, is to be relegated
to the domain of faith as belonging to it alone.
Q. i/ in history are found things in which the divine
and the human intermingle, what will be the Modernises
manner of dealing with them ?
A. In things where there is combined a double
element, the divine and the human as, for example,
in Christ, or the Church, or the Sacraments, or the
many other objects of the same kind a division and
separation must be made, and the human element
must be left to history while the divine will be assigned
Q. Must we, then, distinguish between two kinds of
Christ, two kinds of Church, and so on ?
A. Yes. Hence we have that distinction, so
current among the Modernists, between the Christ of
66 CATECHISM ON MODERNISM
history and the Christ of Faith ; the Church of history
and the Church of Faith ; the Sacraments of history
and the Sacraments of Faith ; and so in similar
Q. Relatively to this human element, which is the
only one agnosticism allows to be matter for history,
what does the second philosophical principle tell us /
mean the principle of transfiguration which is the in
spiration of the Modernist historian ?
A. We find that the human element itself, which
the historian has to work on, as it appears in the
documents, is to be considered as having been trans
figured by Faith that is to say, raised above its
Q. What, then, in virtue of this principle of trans
figuration, is the second law that governs Modernist
A. It becomes necessary, therefore, to eliminate
also the accretions which Faith has added, to
relegate them to Faith itself and to the history of
Q. Consequently, what are the things which a
Modernist historian will eliminate from the history of
A. Thus, when treating of Christ, the historian
must set aside all that surpasses man in his natural
condition, according to what psychology tells us of
him, or according to what we gather from the place
and period of his existence.
Q. What is the third law which the Modernist his-
CATECHISM ON MODERNISM 67
torian imposes upon himself in virtue of the philosophical
principle catted disfiguration ?
A. Finally, they require, by virtue of the third
principle, that even those things which are not outside
the sphere of history should pass through the sieve,
excluding all, and relegating to faith everything which,
in their judgment, is not in harmony with what they
call the logic of facts, or not in character with the
persons of whom they are predicated.
Q. What conclusion do they deduce from this third
laiv with regard to the words which the Evangelists
attribute to our Divine Lord ?
A. They will not allow that Christ ever uttered
those things which do not seem to be within the
capacity of the multitudes that listened to Him.
Hence they delete from His real history and transfer
to faith all the allegories found in His discourses.
Q. We may, per adventure, inquire on what principles
they make these divisions. Will they tell us ?
A. Their reply is that they argue from the charac
ter of the man, from his condition of life, from his
education, from the complexus of the circumstances
under which the facts took place.
Q. Is that an objective criterion and such as serious
history demands ?
A. If We understand them aright, they argue on
a principle which in the last analysis is merely sub
Q. Can you prove that that is a merely subjective
68 CATECHISM ON MODERNISM
A. It is proved by this. Their method is to put
themselves into the position and person of Christ, and
then to attribute to Him what they would have done
under like circumstances.
Q. How, in virtue of the three philosophical prin
ciples which, according to them, govern history, do the
Modernists treat Christ, Our Lord ?
A. Absolutely a priori, and acting on philosophical
principles which they hold, but which they profess to
ignore, they proclaim that Christ, according to what
they call His real history, was not God, and never did
Q. Having eliminated entirely the divine character
of Christ from real history, do they at least leave intact
Christ as Man ?
A. As Man He did and said only what they,
judging from the time in which He lived, consider that
He ought to have said or done.
Q. How, according to the Modernists, do philo
sophy, history, and criticism stand in relation to one
A. As history takes its conclusions from philo
sophy, so, too, criticism takes its conclusions from
Q. flow does the Modernist critic treat the documents
on which he works ?
A. The critic, on the data furnished him by the
historian, makes two parts of all his documents. Those
that remain after the triple elimination above de
scribed go to form the real history ; the rest is
CATECHISM ON MODERNISM 69
attributed to the history of Faith, or, as it is styled, to
Q. Are there, then, according to the Modernists,
two kinds of history : the history of Faith and real
A. Yes. The Modernists distinguish very care
fully between these two kinds of history.
1 Q. Then, is not the history of Faith, as the Modern
ists call it, true history according to them ?
A. It is to be noted that they oppose the history
of Faith to real history precisely as real.
Q. // the history of Faith is not real history, what
do the Modernists say on the subject of the twofold Christ
mentioned above ?
A. As We have already said, we have a twofold
Christ a real Christ, and a Christ, the one of Faith,
who never really existed ; a Christ who has lived at
a given time and in a given place, and a Christ who
has never lived outside the pious meditations of the
Q. Where is this Christ of Faith, this Christ who is
not real according to the Modernists where especially is
He portrayed ?
A. The Christ, for instance, whom we find in the
Gospel of St. John.
Q- What, then, in the opinion of the Modernists, is
the Gospel of St. John ?
A. Mere meditation from beginning to end.
70 CATECHISM ON MODERNISM
II. APPLICATION OF THE PRINCIPLE OF VITAL
Q. Is the dominion of philosophy over history con
fined to prescribing to the critic the division of documents
into two parish-documents serving for the history of
Faith and documents serving for real history ?
A. The dominion of philosophy over history does
not end here.
Q- After this division of documents into two lots, in
the name of agnosticism, what other principle of Modernist
philosophy makes a fresh appearance, to rule the critic ?
A. Given that division, of which We have spoken,
of the documents into two parts, the philosopher steps
in again with his dogma of vital immanence.
Q. What importance, for the Modernist critic, has
this principle of vital immanence ?
A. It shows how everything in the history of the
Church is to be explained by vital emanation?
Q. How, according to this principle, are facts which
are but an emanation of life subordinated to the immanent
need from which they emanate ?
A. Since the cause or condition of every vital
emanation whatsoever is to be found in some need or
want, it follows that no fact can be regarded as antece
dent to the need which produced it historically the
fact must be posterior to the need.
Q. What, then, does the historian in view of this
principle ? How does the Modernist historian proceed
in the history of the Church ?
CATECHISM ON MODERNISM 71
A. He goes over his documents again, whether
they be contained in the Sacred Books or elsewhere,
draws up from them his list of the particular needs of
the Church, whether relating to dogma, or liturgy, or
other matters which are found in the Church thus
Q. Once this list has been drawn up, what does he
do with it ?
A. Then he hands his list over to the critic.
Q. Aided by this list of the successive needs of the
Church, what operation does the critic make the documents
of the history of Faith undergo ?
A. The critic takes in hand the documents dealing
with the history of Faith, and distributes them, period
by period, so that they correspond exactly with the
list of needs, always guided by the principle that the
narration must follow the facts, as the facts follow
Q. Does it not happen at times that certain parts
of the Sacred Scriptures, instead of simply revealing
a need, are themselves the fact created by the need ?
A. It may at times happen that some parts of
the Sacred Scriptures, such as the Epistles, themselves
constitute the fact created by the need.
Q. But, whatever may be the case with regard to these
exceptions, ivhat, in a general way, is the rule which
serves to determine the date of origin of the documents of
ecclesiastical history ?
A. The rule holds that the age of any document
can only be determined by the age in which each need
has manifested itself in the Church.
72 CATECHISM ON MODERNISM
III. APPLICATION OF THE PRINCIPLE OF EVOLUTION.
Q. After the classification of the documents according
to the date of their origin arbitrarily determined upon,
is there not another operation undertaken by the critic ?
What distinction necessitates, in the, eyes of the Modernist
critic, this new operation ?
A. Further, a distinction must be made between
the beginning of a fact and its development, for what
is born in one day requires time for growth.
Q. In virtue of this distinction between the origin
of a fact and its development, what new partition does the
Modernist critic make of his documents ?
A. The critic must once more go over his docu
ments, ranged as they are through the different ages,
and divide them again into two parts, separating those
that regard the origin of the facts from those that deal
with their development.
Q. What does he do with the documents that have
reference to the development of a fact ?
A. These he must again arrange according to their
Q. What principle will direct him in determining
this arrangement ?
A. The philosopher must come in again.
Q. What is the purpose of the principle which,
according to the Modernist philosopher, dominates and
governs history ?
A. To enjoin upon the historian the obligation
CATECHISM ON MODERNISM 73
of following in all his studies the precepts and laws of
Q. How, then, will the Modernist historian, armed
with the law of evolution, treat the history of the Church ?
A. It is next for the historian to scrutinize his
documents once more, to examine carefully the cir
cumstances and conditions affecting the Church during
the different periods, the conserving force she has put
forth, the needs both internal and external that have
stimulated her to progress, the obstacles she has had
Q. In a word, what does the Modernist historian
seek for in the documents of the history of the Church ?
A. In a word, everything that helps to determine
the manner in which the laws of evolution have been
fulfilled in her.
Q. After this attentive examination to discover in
the history of the Church the law of her evolution, what
does the historian do ?
A. This done, he finishes his work by drawing up
a history of the development in its broad lines.
Q. What is the final operation that of the Modernist
critic once he has, traced out for him thus, this fantastic
outline of the history of the Church ?
A. The critic follows and fits in the rest of the
documents. He sets himself to write. The history is
Q. Since the Modernist historian and critic allow
themselves to be thus dominated by the principles of the
philosopher, We ask here : Who is the author of this
history ? The historian ? The critic ?
A. Assuredly neither of these, but the philosopher.
Q. Why the philosopher ?
A. Because from beginning to end everything in
it is a priori.
Q. And what kind of a priori ?
A. An apriorism that reeks of heresy.
Q. Are such historians not to be pitied ?
A. These men are certainly to be pitied, of whom
the Apostle might well say, " They became vain in
their thoughts . . . professing themselves to be wise,
they became fools." *
Q. But if these Modernist historians excite our pity,
do they not also rouse us, and very justly, to indignation ?
A. At the same time they excite resentment when
they accuse the Church of arranging and confusing
the texts after her own fashion, and for the needs of
Q. What sentiment moves them to accuse the Church
of torturing the texts ?
A. They are accusing the Church of something for
which their own conscience plainly reproaches them.
IV. TEXTUAL CRITICISM.
Q. // the. Modernist historian arbitrarily distributes
the documents throughout the centuries according to the
pretended law of evolution, what follows with regard to
the Sacred Scriptures ?
* Bom. i. 21, 22.
A. The result of this dismembering of the records,
and this partition of them throughout the centuries, is
naturally that the Scriptures can no longer be attributed
to the authors whose names they bear.
Q. Do our Modernist historians, seeing this conse
quence, not draw back ?
A. The Modernists have no hesitation in affirming
generally that these books, and especially the Penta
teuch and the first three Gospels, have been gradually
formed from a primitive brief narration, by additions,
by interpolations of theological or allegorical inter
pretations, or parts introduced only for the purpose of
joining different passages together.
Q. By what right, in order to explain the formation
of our Sacred Scriptures, have they recourse to the hypo
thesis of successive additions made to a very brief primi
tive redaction ?
A. This means, to put it briefly and clearly, that
in the Sacred Books we must admit a vital evolution,
springing from and corresponding with the evolution
Q. But where do they find any trace of this pretended
vital evolution ?
A. The traces of this evolution, they tell us, are
so visible in the books that one might almost write a
history of it.
Q. Have they tried to write this history of the vital
evolution ivhich, according to them, has governed the
successive additions made to the Sacred Scriptures ?
A. Indeed, this history they actually do write,
and with such an easy assurance that one might
CATECHISM ON MODERNISM
believe them to have seen with their own eyes the
writers at work through the ages amplifying the Sacred
Q. To what means have they recourse to confirm this
story of the formation of the Sacred Text ?
A. To aid them in this they call to their assistance
that branch of criticism which they call textual, and
labour to show that such a fact or such a phrase is
not in its right place, adducing other arguments of
the same kind.
Q. What is to be thought of the assurance with which
our Modernists proceed in explaining the formation of
Holy Writ ?
A. They seem, in fact, to have constructed for
themselves certain types of narration and discourses,
upon which they base their assured verdict as to
whether a thing is or is not out of place.
Q. Do they push their ingenuousness and overween*
ing conceit to the point of themselves informing us how
far they are qualified in this way to make such distinc
A. To hear them descant of their works on the
Sacred Books, in which they have been able to discover
so much that is defective, one would imagine that before
them nobody ever even turned over the pages of Scrip
ture. The truth is that a whole multitude of Doctors, far
superior to them in genius, in erudition, in sanctity,
have sifted the Sacred Books in every way.
Q. Was the treatment of the Holy Scriptures by the
Doctors of old, who were infinitely superior to our
Modernists, very different from theirs ?
CATECHISM ON MODERNISM 77
A. Yes. These Doctors, so far from finding in
them anything blameworthy, have thanked God more
and more heartily the more deeply they have gone into
them, for His divine bounty in having vouchsafed to
speak thus to men.
Q. How do the Modernists explain to themselves
(ironically] the respect of the Doctors of old for the Sacred
A. Unfortunately, these great Doctors did not
enjoy the same aids to study that are possessed by the
Q. What are, in short, these aids to study which the
Doctors of old did not possess, but which the Modernists
do enjoy ?
A. They did not have for their rule and guide a
philosophy borrowed from the negation of God, and a
criterion which consists of themselves.
Q. How, then, do you sum up the historical method
of the Modernists ?
A. We believe that We have set forth with
sufficient clearness the historical method of the
Modernists. The philosopher leads the way, the
historian follows, and then, in due order, come the
internal and textual critics.
Q. Since a certain philosophy is the basis of this
historical method of the Modernists, and is, as it were,
its primal cause, how may we characterize their historical
78 CATECHISM ON MODERNISM
A. c Since it is characteristic of the primary cause
to communicate its virtue to causes which are second
ary, it is quite clear that the criticism with which We
are concerned is not any kind of criticism, but that
which is rightly called agnostic, immanentist, and
Q. May one, then, make use of such criticism without
detriment to the Faith ?
A. Anyone who adopts it and employs it makes
profession thereby of the errors contained in it, and
places himself in opposition to Catholic teaching.
Q. This being so, what must we think of the praises
that certain Catholics bestow on such criticism ?
A. It is much a matter for surprise that it should
have found acceptance to such an extent amongst
Q. Why do certain Catholics allow themselves to be
drawn to think so highly of criticism contrary to their
A. Two causes may be assigned for this : first,
the close alliance which the historians and critics of
this school have formed among themselves independent
of all differences of nationality or religion ; second,
their boundless effrontery.
Q. Do all the Modernists of different nationalities
support one another ?
A. Yes. If one makes any utterance the others
applaud him in chorus, proclaiming that science has
made another step forward.
CATECHISM ON MODERNISM 79
Q. And how do they league together against anyone
who criticizes them ?
A. If an outsider should desire to inspect the new
discovery for himself, they form a coalition against
Q. To sum the matter up, what tactics do they
pursue with regard to such as defend or attack this or
that novelty of theirs ?
A. He who denies it is decried as one who is
ignorant, while he who embraces and defends it has
all their praise.
Q. Is not the result of these Modernist tactics to make
fresh recruits ?
A. In this way they entrap not a few who, did
they but realize what they are doing, would shrink
back with horror.
Q. What has come to pass as a consequence of the
audacity of the Modernists and the imprudent thought
lessness of those who allow themselves to be imposed upon
A. The domineering overbearance of those who
teach the errors, and the thoughtless compliance of
the more shallow minds who assent to them, create a
corrupted atmosphere which penetrates everywhere,
and carries infection with it. But let Us pass to the
80 CATECHISM ON MODERNISM
THE MODEENIST AS APOLOGIST
I. PEINCIPLES AND ORIGINS.
Q. According to the Modernists, does the apologist
also depend upon the philosopher, and on what grounds ?
A. The Modernist apologist depends in two ways
upon the philosopher. First, indirectly, inasmuch as
his subject-matter is history history dictated, as we
have seen, by the philosopher ; and, secondly, directly,
inasmuch as he takes both his doctrines and his con
clusions from the philosopher.
Q. What, consequently, do the Modernists affirm with
regard to the new apologetics ?
A. That common axiom of the Modernist school,
that in the new apologetics controversies in religion
must be determined by psychological and historical
Q. How do the Modernist apologists sacrifice to the
rationalists the historical books in current use in the
A. The Modernist apologists enter the arena pro
claiming to the rationalists that, though they are
defending religion, they have no intention of employ
ing the data of the Sacred Books or the histories in
current use in the Church and written upon the old
lines, but real history composed on modern principles
and according to the modern method.
Q. But can it be that they speak thus only as an
argumentum ad hominem, and not from personal
A. In all this they assert that they are not using
an argumentum ad hominem, because they are really
of the opinion that the truth is to be found only in
this kind of history.
Q. Do our Catholic Modernists find it necessary
to reassure the rationalists as to the sincerity of their
A. They feel that it is not necessary for them
to make profession of their own sincerity in their
writings. They are already known to and praised
by the rationalists as fighting under the same banner,
and they plume themselves on these encomiums, which
would only provoke disgust in a real Catholic.
Q. Does this praise that rationalists bestoiv not
disgust these Modernists of ours ?
A. Far from that, for they use them as a counter-
compensation to the reprimands of the Church.
II. APPLICATION OF THE PRINCIPLE OF
Q. Let us see how the Modernist conducts his apolo
getics. What does he propose to do ?
A. The aim he sets before himself is to make one.
who is still without faith attain that experience of the
Q. Why is he so anxious to produce this experience
in the non-believer ?
82 CATECHISM ON MODERNISM
A. Because this, according to their system, is
the sole basis of faith.
Q. How does a man acquire this personal experience
of the Catholic religion ?
A. There are two ways open to him, the objective
and the subjective?
Q. Whence starts the first or objective way ?
A. The first of them starts from agnosticism.
Q. What proof does this first way claim to establish ?
A. It tends to show that religion, and especially
the Catholic religion, is endowed with such vitality as
to compel every psychologist and historian of good
faith to recognize that its history hides some element
of the unknown.
Q. To establish this proof, what needs first to be
A. To this end it is necessary to prove that the
Catholic religion, as it exists to-day, is that which was
founded by Jesus Christ that is to say, that it is
nothing else than the progressive development of the
germ which He brought into the world.
Q. But if Christ brought into the world only the
germ of the Catholic religion, what task is laid upon
the Modernists with regard to it ?
A. It is imperative first of all to establish what
this germ was.
Q. By what formula do the Modernists claim to
determine what this germ ivas ?
A. This the Modernist claims to be able to do by
CATECHISM ON MODERNISM
the following formula : Christ announced the comi
of the kingdom of God, which was to be realiz
within a brief lapse of time and of which He was to
become the Messiah, the divinely-given Founder and
Q. This germ being thus determined, what, according
to our Modernist apologists, must be shown in the next
A. Then it must be shown how this germ, always
immanent and permanent in the Catholic religion, has
gone on slowly developing in the course of history,
adapting itself successively to the different circum
stances through which it has passed, borrowing from
them by vital assimilation all the doctrinal, cultual,
ecclesiastical forms that served its purpose ; whilst, on
the other hand, it surmounted all obstacles, van
quished all enemies, and survived all assaults and all
Q. To what conclusion do our Modernist apologists
claim that we must come through duly considering this
mass of facts ?
A. Anyone who well and duly considers this mass
of obstacles, adversaries, attacks, combats, and the
vitality and fecundity which the Church has shown
throughout them all, must admit that if the laws of
evolution are visible in her life, they fail to explain
the whole of her history the unknown rises forth from
it and presents itself before us.
Q. What is the radical defect of all these reasonings ?
A. Thus do they argue, not perceiving that their
determination of the primitive germ is only an a priori
84 CATECHISM ON MODERNISM
assumption of agnostic and evolutionist philosophy,
and that the germ itself has been gratuitously defined
so that it may fit in with their contention.
III. APPLICATION OF APOLOGETIC PRINCIPLES.
Q. In the facts they allege to prove the Catholic
religion, do Modernist apologists meet only with things
that are deserving of admiration ?
A. While they endeavour by this line of reason
ing to prove and plead for the Catholic religion, these
new apologists are more than willing to grant and to
recognize that there are in it many things which are
Q. Is dogma at least, in their minds, free from
A. Nay, they admit openly, and with ill-con
cealed satisfaction, that they have found that -even its
dogma is not exempt from errors and contradictions.
Q. You say that they claim to have discovered in
dogma errors and contradictions, and that they proclaim
this with pleasure. But do they at least indignantly
repudiate such errors ?
A. Far from that, they add that this is not only
excusable, but, curiously enough, that it is even right
Q Do OU r Modernists discover any errors in our
Sacred Books ?
A. In the Sacred Books there are many passages
CATECHISM ON MODERNISM 85
referring to science or history where, according to
them, manifest errors are to be found.
Q. Having found that in the Bible there are errors
in science and in history, how do they seek to excuse
Holy Writ ?
A. They say : the subject of these books is not
science or history, but only 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 the expression of science and history in
a more perfect form would have proved not so much
a help as a hindrance.
Q. What other excuse do they allege to justify the
errors which they claim to discover in Holy Writ ?
A. Moreover, they add, the Sacred Books, being
essentially religious, are necessarily quick with life.
Now life has its own truth and its own logic, quite
different from rational truth and rational logic, belong
ing, as they do, to a different order viz., truth of
adaptation and of "proportion, both with what they
call the medium in which it lives and with the end for
which it lives.
Q. But is not that as much as to say that errors
become true and legitimate whenever they satisfy the
necessities of vital adaptation ?
A. Finally, the Modernists, losing all sense of
control, go so far as to proclaim as true and legitimate
whatever is explained by life.
80 CATECHISM ON MODERNISM
Q. Can we admit such a legitimation of error in-
A. We, Venerable Brethren, for whom there is but
one 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 practise or to believe, which on the same
pernicious rule may not be explained as a lie uttered
by the author wilfully and to serve a purpose. "f And
thus it will come about, the holy Doctor continues, that
" everybody will believe and refuse to believe what
he likes or dislikes in them " namely, the Scriptures.
Q. Do our Modernist apologists allow, themselves to
be stopped by these condemnations of the Church ?
A. No ! The Modernists pursue their way
Q. What other enormity do they advance ivith regard
to the Sacred Scriptures ?
A. They grant also that certain arguments ad
duced in the Sacred Books in proof of a given doctrine,
like those, for example, which are based on the
prophecies, have no rational foundation to rest on.
Q. Do they still essay some justification of such
A. They defend even these as artifices of preach
ing which are justified by life.
* Cone. Vat., De Bevel, can. 2. f Epist. 28.
CATECHISM ON MODERNISM 87
Q. More than that ?
A. 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.
Q. They dare to say that Christ made a mistake !
But is not that the height of impudence ?
A. No ! they answer ; and they tell us that we
must not be surprised at this, since even He Himself
was subject to the laws of life.
Q. There we have Our Lord Jesus Christ convicted
of error. After this, what is to become of the dogmas of
the Church ?
A. They say, the dogmas bristle with glaring
Q. How do our Modernists claim to justify in dogma
these flagrant contradictions ?
A. But what does it matter, they say, 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 ?
Q. But are the Modernists not ashamed so to justify
A. On the contrary ; 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 state
88 CATECHISM ON MODERNISM
Q. What must we think of such excesses ?
A. When they justify even contradictions, what
is it that they will refuse to justify ?
IV. APPLICATION OF THE PRINCIPLE OF IMMANENCE.
Q. We have just seen in what objective way
Modernists hope to dispose the non-believer to faith ; but
is there not also another way, and do they not bring
forward other arguments ?
A. It is not solely by objective arguments that the
non-believer may be disposed to faith. There are also
those that are subjective?
Q. On what philosophical doctrine do the Modernists
build up these subjective arguments ?
A. For this purpose the Modernist apologists
return to the doctrine of immanence. They endeavour,
in fact, to persuade their non-believer that down in
the very depths of his nature and his life lie hidden
the need and the desire for some religion.
Q, Is it just of any religion at all that they believe
they find in us the desire and the need ?
A. Not a religion of any kind but the specific
religion known as Catholicism.
Q. How, tvith the doctrine of immanence, do they
claim to discover in us the need and the desire of a super
natural religion like the Catholic religion ?
A. This it is which, they say, is absolutely postu
lated by the perfect development of life.
CATECHISM ON MODERNISM 89
Q. And here, in union with you, Holy Father, what
must we deplore ?
A. Here again We have grave reason to complain
that there are Catholics who, while rejecting imma
nence as a doctrine, employ it as a method of apolo
Q. Do not these Catholic apologists attenuate the
method of immanence, and do they desire to find any
thing else in man than a certain harmony with the
supernatural order ?
A. They employ the method of immanence so
imprudently that they seem to admit, not merely a
capacity and a suitability for the supernatural, such
as has at all times been emphasized, within due limits,
by Catholic apologists, but that there is in human
nature a true and rigorous need for the supernatural
Q. Are these apologists Modernists in the fullest
sense of the word ?
A. Truth to tell, it is only the moderate
Modernists who make this appeal to an exigency for
the Catholic religion.
Q. The moderate ones ! What more, then, can the
others say ?
A. As for the others, who might be called integral-
ists, they would show to the non-believer, as hidden
in his being, the very germ which Christ Himself had
in His consciousness, and which He transmitted to
Q. // such is a summary description of the apologetic
method of the Modernists, what is to be thought of it ?
90 CATECHISM ON MODERNISM
A. That it is * in perfect harmony with their
Q. How may their doctrines be described ?
A. Methods and doctrines replete with errors,
made not for edification but for destruction, not for
the making of Catholics but for the seduction of those
who are Catholics into heresy ; and tending to the utter
subversion of all religion.
THE MODERNIST AS REFORMER
Q. What remains to be said in order fully to describe
the Modernist ?
A. It remains for Us now to say a few words about
the Modernist as reformer.
Q. Cannot we already discover in the Modernists a
marked mania for reform ?
A. From all that has preceded, it is abundantly
clear how great and how eager is the passion of such
men for innovation.
Q. D e S this mania for reform extend to many
A. In all Catholicism there is absolutely nothing
on which it does not fasten.
Q. What is the first reform the Modernists demand ?
A. They wish philosophy to be reformed, espe
cially in the ecclesiastical seminaries.
CATECHISM ON MODERNISM 91
Q. What kind of reform in philosophy do they
desire, especially in seminaries ?
A. They wish the scholastic philosophy to be rele
gated to the history of philosophy and to be classed
among obsolete systems, and the young men to be
taught modern philosophy.
Q. Why do they wish that modern philosophy should
be taught in seminaries ?
A. Because they consider it alone is true and
suited to the times in which we live.
Q. After this reform of philosophy, what other do
they call for ?
A. They desire the reform of theology.
Q. What kind of reform do they desire in theology ?
A. Rational theology is to have modern philo
sophy for its foundation, and positive theology is to
be founded on the history of dogma.
Q. And as for history, what reform do they demand ?
A. As for history, it must be written and taught
only according to their methods and modern prin
Q. What reform in dogma do they ivant ?
A. Dogmas and their evolution, they affirm, are
to be harmonized with science and history.
Q. How is the Catechism to be reformed ?
A. In the Catechism no dogmas are to be inserted
except those that have been reformed and are within
the capacity of the people.
Q. And what reform is to be effected in worship ?
A. Regarding worship, they say, the number of
external devotions is to be reduced, and steps must be
taken to prevent their further increase.
Q. Are not certain Modernists more indulgent with
regard to ceremonies ?
A. Some of the admirers of symbolism are dis
posed to be more indulgent on this head.
Q. What more serious reforms do the Modernists call
for in the government of the Church ?
A. They cry out that ecclesiastical government
requires to be reformed in all its branches, but espe
cially in its disciplinary and dogmatic departments.
They insist that both outwardly and inwardly it must
be brought into harmony with the modern conscience,
which now wholly tends towards democracy. A share
in ecclesiastical government should, therefore, be given
to the lower ranks of the clergy, and even to the laity,
and authority, which is too much concentrated, should
Q. What further reform do they ask for ?
A. The Roman Congregations, and especially the
Index and the Holy Office, must be likewise modified.
Q. What reform do they demand in the exercise of
ecclesiastical authority in the social and political world ?
A. The ecclesiastical authority must alter its line
of conduct in the social and political world ; while
keeping outside political organizations, it must adapt
itself to them, in order to penetrate them with its spirit.
Q. And in morals ?
CATECHISM ON MODERNISM 93
A. With regard to morals, they adopt the prin
ciple of the Americanists that the active virtues are
more important than the passive, and are to be more
encouraged in practice.
Q. What do they ask of the clergy ?
A. They ask that the clergy should return to their
primitive humility and poverty, and that in their
ideas and action they should admit the principles of
Q. // they desire to see so many virtues in the clergy,
they exalt ecclesiastical celibacy, do they not ?
A. There are some who, gladly listening to the
teaching of their Protestant masters, would desire the
suppression of the celibacy of the clergy.
Q. Seeing that all these reforms are demanded by the
Modernists, what question rises naturally to one s lips ?
A. What is there left in the Church which is not
to be reformed by them and according to their prin
CRITICISM OF THE MODEENIST SYSTEM THE REN
DEZVOUS OF ALL THE HERESIES THE WAY TO
Q. Why have we set forth at such, length the Modernist
A. It may, perhaps, seem to some that We have
dwelt at too great length on this exposition of the
94 CATECHISM ON MODERNISM
doctrines of the Modernists, but it was necessary that
We should do so.
Q. Why was so long an exposition necessary ?
A. In order to meet their customary charge that
We do not understand their ideas.
Q. And for what further motive ?
A. To show that their system does not consist in
scattered and unconnected theories, but, as it were, in
a closely connected whole, so that it is not possible to
admit one without admitting all.
Q. Do these two reasons not explain why we have
given a didactic turn to our exposition of Modernism ?
A. For this reason, too, We have had to give to
this exposition a somewhat didactic form, and not to
shrink from employing certain unwonted terms which
the Modernists have brought into use.
Q. How can one, in one word, define Modernism ?
A. Now, with Our eyes fixed upon the whole
system, no one will be surprised that We should define
it to be the synthesis* of all the heresies.
Q. Why do you define Modernism to be the rendezvous
of all the heresies ?
A. Undoubtedly, were anyone to attempt the task
of collecting together all the errors that have been
broached against the Faith, and to concentrate into
one the sap and substance of them all, he could not
* The Latin word is conlectus, and the translation were better,
perhaps, as in the French, rendezvous. There is, indeed, a
synthesis, but it is the Pope rather than the Modernists who makes
it. J. F.
CATECHISM ON MODERNISM 95
succeed in doing so better than the Modernists have
Q. Is it enough to affirm that, by their multiplied
errors, the Modernists would destroy the Catholic re
A. Nay, they have gone farther than this, for, as
We have already intimated, their system means the
destruction not of the Catholic religion alone, but of
Q. Must not the, rationalists, then, smile upon the
A. The rationalists are not wanting in their
applause, and the most frank and sincere amongst
them congratulate themselves on having found in the
Modernists the most valuable of all allies.
Q. How can you show us that the Modernists are the
most powerful auxiliaries of the rationalists ?
A. To do so, let us turn for a moment to that
most disastrous doctrine of agnosticism.
Q. Having, by agnosticism, barred every avenue
leading to God, how do the Modernists claim to approach
A. By it every avenue to God on the side of the
intellect is barred to man, while a better way is sup
posed to be opened from the side of a certain sense of
the soul and action.
Q. Has such a contention any chance of succeeding ?
A. Who does not see how mistaken is such a
96 CATECHISM ON MODERNISM
A. For the sense of the soul is the response to the
action of the thing which the intellect or the outward
senses set before it.
Q. Since, in order to draw near to God, sentiment is
led either by the intelligence or by the senses, what will
inevitably follow if the Modernists take away the guid
ance of the intelligence ?
A. Take away the intelligence, and man, already
inclined to follow the senses, becomes their slave.
Q. Is not this attempt to approach God by agnostic
sentiment idle also from another point of view ?
A. It is doubly mistaken, from another point of
view, for all these fantasies of the religious sense will
never be able to destroy common sense, and common
sense tells us~fchat emotion and everything that leads
the heart captive proves a hindrance instead of a help
to the discovery of truth.
Q. Of what truth do you speak when you say that the
emotions of the soul hinder the discovery of truth ?
A. We speak of truth in itself.
Q. Is there not a simulacrum of truth, the discovery
of which is facilitated by the emotions, and what is to
be thought of it ?
A. That other purely subjective truth, the fruit of
the internal sense and action, if it serves its purpose
for the play of words, is of no benefit to the man who
wants above all things to know whether outside him
self there is a God into whose hands he is one day to
CATECHISM ON MODERNISM 97
Q. With agnosticism for its starting-point, religious
sentiment has no basis. Now, to what have the Modernists
recourse to find it a basis ?
A. The Modernists call in experience, to eke out
Q. But what does this experience add to that sense
of the soul ?
A. Absolutely nothing beyond a certain intensity
and a proportionate deepening of the conviction of the
reality of the object. But these two will never make
the sense of the soul into anything but sense, nor will
they alter its nature, which is liable to deception when
the intelligence is not there to guide it ; on the
contrary, they but confirm and strengthen this nature,
for the more intense the sense is, the more it is really
Q. Is there not great need of prudence and of learning
in this matter of religious sense and experience ?
A. As we are here dealing with religious sense
and the experience involved in it, it is known to you
how necessary in such a matter is prudence, and the
learning by which prudence is guided. You know it
from your own dealings with souls, and especially with
souls in whom sentiment predominates ; you know it
also from your reading of works of ascetical theology.
Q. But are these ascetical works good guides in such
A. Yes ; they are works for which the Modernists
have but little esteem, but which testify to a science
and a solidity far greater than theirs, and to a refine
ment and subtlety of observation far beyond any
98 CATECHISM ON MODERNISM
which the Modernists take credit to themselves for
Q. Have you, then, but a very poor opinion of the
religious experiences of the Modernists ?
A. It seems to Us nothing short of madness, or,
at the least, consummate temerity, to accept for true,
and without investigation, these incomplete experi
ences which are the vaunt of the Modernist.
Q. How can we frame an argumentum ad hominem
against the Modernists, and turn against themselves the
proof they claim to find in religious experience ?
A. Let us for a moment put the question : If ex
periences have so much force and value in their
estimation, why do they not attach equal weight to
the experience that so many thousands of Catholics
have that the Modernists are on the wrong path ?
Is it that the Catholic experiences are the only ones
which are false and deceptive ?
Q. Talcing up again the thread of our argument, we
ask, what does the majority of men think of this sense and
this experience ?
A. The vast majority of mankind holds and
always will hold firmly that sense and experience
alone, when not enlightened and guided by reason,
cannot reach to the knowledge of God.
Q. What, then, remains ?
A. Atheism and the absence of all religion.
Q. // the Modernists teaching on religious ex
perience leads to Atheism, do they not find in their
doctrine of symbolism something to avert that danger ?
CATECHISM ON MODERNISM 99
A. Certainly it is not the doctrine of symbolism
that will save us from this. For if all the intellectual
elements, as they call them, of religion are nothing
more than mere symbols of God, will not the very name
of God or of Divine personality be also a symbol, and if
this be admitted, the personality of God will become a
matter of doubt, and the gate will be opened to
Q. Is the Modernist doctrine of symbolism the only
doctrine of theirs that leads to Pantheism ?
A. To Pantheism pure and simple that other
doctrine of the divine immanence leads directly.
Q. Can you show by some irrefutable argument how
this consequence follows ?
A. This is the question which We ask : Does or
does not this immanence leave God distinct from man ?
If it does, in what does it differ from the Catholic
doctrine, and why does it reject the doctrine of
external revelation ? If it does not, it is Pantheism.
Now, the doctrine of immanence in the Modernist
acceptation holds and professes that every phenomenon
of conscience proceeds from man as man. The
rigorous conclusion from this is the identity of man
with God, which means Pantheism.
Q. Does this pantheistic conclusion follow from any
other of the Modernist doctrines ?
A. The distinction which Modernists make be
tween science and faith leads to the same conclusion.
Q. Will you prove this to us by rigorous reasoning ?
A. The object of science, they say, is the reality
100 CATECHISM ON MODERNISM
of the knowable ; the object of faith, on the contrary,
is the reality of the unknowable. Now, what makes
the unknowable unknowable is the fact that there is
no proportion between its object and the intellect a
defect of proportion which nothing whatever, even in
the doctrine of the Modernist, can suppress. Hence
the unknowable remains, and will eternally remain,
unknowable to the believer as well as to the philosopher.
Therefore, if any religion at all is possible, it can only
be the religion of an unknowable reality. And why
this religion might not be that soul of the universe, of
which certain rationalists speak, is something which
certainly does not seem to Us apparent.
Q. What ultimate conclusion have we the right to
come to ?
A. These reasons suffice to show superabundantly
by how many roads Modernism leads to Atheism and
to the annihilation of all religion.
Q. What are the stages in this descent of the human
mind towards the negation of all religion ?
A. The error of Protestantism made the first step
on this path ; that of Modernism makes the second ;
Atheism will make the next.
THE CAUSES OF MODEKNISM
Q. The better to understand what Modernism is, and
to find the fitting remedies for it, what must now be done ?
A. To penetrate still deeper into the meaning of
Modernism and to find a suitable remedy for so deep a
sore, it behoves Us to investigate the causes which have
engendered it, and which foster its growth.
I. MORAL CAUSES : CURIOSITY AND PRIDE.
Q. What is the proximate and immediate cause of
A. That the proximate and immediate cause
consists in an error of the mind cannot be open to
Q. Whence, in its turn, comes this perversity of mind
which is the proximate cause of Modernism, or, in other
words, what are the remote causes of Modernism ?
A. We recognize that the remote causes may be
reduced to two curiosity and pride.
Q. Is curiosity really a cause of error ?
A. Curiosity by itself, if not prudently regulated,
suffices to account for all errors. Such is the opinion
102 CATECHISM ON MODERNISM
of Our Predecessor, Gregory XVI., who wrote : "A
lamentable spectacle is that presented by the aberra
tions of human reason when it yields to the spirit of
novelty, when against the warning of the Apostle it
seeks to know beyond what it is meant to know, and
when, relying too much on itself, it thinks it can find
the truth outside the Catholic Church, wherein truth
is found without the slightest shadow of error." *
Q. What evil is it that, even more than curiosity,
Hinds the mind and precipitates into error ?
A. It is pride which exercises an incomparably
greater sway over the soul to blind it and lead it into
Q. Has pride really entered into the doctrines of the
A. Pride sits in Modernism as in its own house,
finding sustenance everywhere in its doctrines and
lurking in its every aspect.
Q. Can you describe to us the different aspects of
Modernism which betray its pride ?
A. It is pride which fills Modernists with that
self-assurance by which they consider themselves and
pose as the rule for all. It is pride which puffs them up
with that vainglory which allows them to regard them
selves as the sole possessors of knowledge, and makes
them say, elated and inflated with presumption, " We
are not as the rest of men," and which, lest they should
seem as other men, leads them to embrace and to devise
novelties even of the most absurd kind. It is pride
which arouses in them the spirit of disobedience, and
* Ep. Encycl. Singulari nos, 1 Kal. Jul., 1834.
CATECHISM ON MODERNISM 103
causes them to demand a compromise between
authority and liberty. It is owing to their pride that
they seek to be the reformers of others while they forget
to reform themselves, and that they are found to be
utterly wanting in respect for authority, even for the
Q. Is there, then, no truer cause of Modernism than
A. Truly there is no road which leads so directly
and so quickly to Modernism as pride.
Q. Would a Catholic priest or layman, if overcome
by pride, be inevitably a subject for Modernism ?
A. When a Catholic layman or a priest forgets the
precept of the Christian life which obliges us to renounce
ourselves if we would follow Christ, and neglects to
tear pride from his heart, then it is he who most of all
is a fully ripe subject for the errors of Modernism.
Q. What duty is, therefore, incumbent on Bishops
with regard to these priests full of pride ?
A. For this reason, Venerable Brethren, it will be
your first duty to resist such victims of pride, to employ
them only in the lowest and obscurest offices. The
higher they try to rise, the lower let them be placed, so
that the lowliness of their position may limit their
power of causing damage.
Q. Is it not also the duty of directors of seminaries to
keep those seminarists from becoming priests who are
infected with the spirit of pride ?
A. Examine most carefully your young clerics by
yourselves and by the directors of your seminaries, and
104 CATECHISM ON MODERNISM
when you find the spirit of pride amongst them, reject
them without compunction from the priesthood.
Q. Up to the, present has this duty of keeping those
infected with the spirit of pride from becoming priests been
faithfully enough fulfilled ?
A. Would to God that this had always been done
with the vigilance and constancy which were required !
II. INTELLECTUAL CAUSES.
Q. In addition to these two moral causes, curiosity and
pride, what is the chief intellectual cause of Modernism ?
A. If we pass on from the moral to the intellectual
causes of Modernism, the first and the chief which
presents itself is ignorance.
Q. Ignorance ! in the, Modernists who think them
selves so learned / can that really be true ?
A. Yes, these very Modernists who seek to be
esteemed as Doctors of the Church, who speak so
loftily of modern philosophy, and show such contempt
for scholasticism, have embraced the one with all its
false glamour, precisely because their ignorance of the
other has left them without the means of being able to
recognize confusion of thought and to refute sophistry.
Q. Has, then, this false modern philosophy, with
which the Modernists, in their ignorance of scholasticism,
have allowed themselves to be taken, given birth to
A. Their whole system, containing as it does
errors so many and so great, has been born of the union
between faith and false philosophy.
CATECHISM ON MODERNISM 105
III. ARTIFICES OF THE MODERNISTS FOR THE
PROPAGATION OF THEIR ERRORS.
Q. Are the Modernists zealous in propagating their
pernicious system ?
A. Would that they had but displayed less zeal
and energy in propagating it ! But such is their
activity and such their unwearying labour on behalf of
their cause, that one cannot but be pained to see them
waste such energy in endeavouring to ruin the Church,
when they might have been of such service to her had
their efforts been better directed.
Q. Do the Modernists employ artifice in this active
propaganda to spread abroad their system ?
A. Yes ; and their artifices to delude men s minds
are of two kinds.
Q. What are these two kinds of artifices ?
A. The first to remove obstacles from their path,
the second to devise and apply actively and patiently
every resource that can serve their purpose.
1. Negative Means.
Q. Are there, then, things which the Modernists
consider as obstacles to be removed ?
A. They recognize that three chief difficulties
stand in their way.
Q. What are these three obstacles which the Modernists
strive to remove ?
A. The scholastic method of philosophy, the
106 CATECHISM ON MODERNISM
authority and Tradition of the Fathers, and the
magisterium of the Church.
Q. Do the Modernists really wage war on these three
A. On these they wage unrelenting war.
Q. What weapons do they use against scholasticism ?
A. Against scholastic philosophy and theology
they use the weapons of ridicule and contempt.
Q. What causes the Modernist to wage war on
scholastic philosophy ?
A. Ignorance or fear, or both.*
Q. Do dislike and hatred of scholasticism go hand-
in-hand with Modernism ?
A. 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 tending to
Modernism than when he begins to show his dislike
for the scholastic method.
Q. As to their hatred of scholastic philosophy, what
grave warning are we entitled to give to the Modernists ?
A. Let the Modernists and their admirers remem
ber the proposition condemned by Pius IX. : " The
method and principles which have served the ancient
doctors of scholasticism when treating of theology no
longer correspond with the exigencies of our time, or
the progress of science." *
Q. In their war against scholastic philosophy, what
* SylL, Prop. 13.
CATECHISM ON MODERNISM 107
do the Modernists do with regard to the second obstacle,
which, as we have said, is Tradition ?
A. They exercise all their ingenuity in an effort
to weaken the force and falsify the character of Tra
dition, so as to rob it of all its weight and authority.
Q. What law of the Second Council of Nicea ought
true Catholics always to call to mind in this matter of
A. For Catholics nothing will remove the authority
of the Second Council of Nicea, where it condemns
those " who dare, after the impious fashion of here
tics, to deride the ecclesiastical traditions, to invent
novelties of some kind ... or endeavour by malice or
craft to overthrow any one of the legitimate traditions
of the Catholic Church."
Q. And further, as to this question of Tradition, what
was the declaration of the Fourth Council of Con
A. " We therefore profess to preserve and guard
the rules bequeathed to the Holy Catholic and Apos
tolic 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."
Q. Is not respect for Tradition inscribed also in the
profession of faith ?
A. 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."
108 CATECHISM ON MODERNISM
Q. Respecting Tradition so little, how do the Modernists
treat the holy Fathers of the Church ?
A. The Modernists pass judgment on the holy
Fathers of the Church even as they do upon Tradition.
Q. With what overweening audacity do they speak of
the Fathers ?
A. With consummate temerity they assure the
public that the Fathers, while personally most worthy
of all veneration, were entirely ignorant of history and
criticism, for which they are only excusable on account
of the time in which they lived.
Q. At war with scholastic philosophy and Tradition,
what is the third obstacle the Modernists endeavour to
remove from their path ?
A. Finally, the Modernists try in every way to
diminish and weaken the authority of the ecclesiastical
Q. How do they proceed against the ecclesiastical
A. By sacrilegiously falsifying its origin, character,
and rights, and by freely repeating the calumnies of its
Q. As regards this war of the Modernists against the
ecclesiastical magisterium, can we not apply to them
former condemnations ?
A. To the entire band of Modernists may be
applied those words which Our Predecessor sorrowfully
wrote : " To bring contempt and odium on the mystic
Spouse of Christ, who is the true light, the children of
darkness have been wont to cast in her face before the
CATECHISM ON MODERNISM 109
world a stupid calumny, and, perverting the meaning
and force of things and words, to depict her as the
friend of darkness and ignorance, and the enemy of
light, science, and progress." *
Q. Such being the Modernists hatred of the Church,
what is their attitude with regard to Catholics who defend
A. This being so, there is little reason to wonder
that the Modernists vent all their bitterness and hatred
on Catholics who zealously fight the battles of the
Q. Does the ill-will of the Modernists toivards Catholics
who are faithful to the Church go as far as to insult them ?
A. There is no species of insult which they do not
heap upon them.
Q. What is their favourite insult against Catholics ?
A. Their usual course is to charge them with
ignorance or obstinacy.
Q. // the Catholic who defends the Church is a learned
man, what tactics do the Modernists pursue in his case ?
A. When an adversary rises up against them with
an erudition and force that render him redoubtable,
they seek to make a conspiracy of silence around him,
to nullify the effects of his attack.
Q. Is such conduct at least palliated by a like conduct
on the part of the Modernists towards their own ?
A. This policy towards Catholics is the more
invidious in that they belaud with admiration which
* Motu Proprio, Ut Mysticvm, March 14, 1891.
110 CATECHISM ON MODERNISM
knows no bounds the writers who range themselves on
Q. What, especially, is their way of dealing with
regard to works filled full of novelties ?
A. They are found hailing their works, exuding
novelty in every page, with a chorus of applause.
Q. By what sign do they know that an author is more
or less learned ?
A. For them the scholarship of a writer is in direct
proportion to the recklessness of his attacks on
antiquity, and of his efforts to undermine tradition and
the ecclesiastical magisterium.
Q. // a Modernist be condemned by the Church, have
the rest of them the audacity still to stand by him ?
A. When one of their number falls under the
condemnations of the Church, the rest of them, to the
disgust of good Catholics, gather round him, loudly and
publicly applaud him, and hold him up in veneration
as almost a martyr for truth.
Q. How is it that the young allow themselves to be
unsettled by all this noise which the Modernists make ?
A. The young, excited and confused by all this
clamour of praise and abuse, some of them afraid of
being branded as ignorant, others ambitious to rank
among the learned, and both classes goaded internally
by curiosity and pride, not unfrequently surrender and
give themselves up to Modernism.
Q. But is not this method of winning over the young
to Modernism, by means of noise and audacity, one of
CATECHISM ON MODERNISM 111
those stratagems, mentioned above, which they use to
A. Here we have already some of the artifices
employed by Modernists to exploit their wares.
2. Positive Means,
Q. Are the Modernists zealous to enlist new recruits ?
A. What efforts do they not make to win new
Q. What are their principal means of conquest ?
A. They seize upon professorships in the semin
aries and Universities, and gradually make of them
chairs of pestilence. In sermons from the pulpit they
disseminate their doctrines, although possibly in utter
ances which are veiled. In congresses they express
their teachings more openly. In their social gatherings
they introduce them and commend them to others.
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 multitude of Modernist writers. In short, with
feverish activity they leave nothing untried in act,
speech, and writing.
Q. With what result are all these Modernist artifices
A. With what result ? We have to deplore the
spectacle of many young men, once full of promise and
capable of rendering great services to the Church, now
Q. What is there that cannot but cause us sorrow on
the part of certain Catholics who are not as yet thorough
going Modernists ?
A. It is also a subject of grief to Us that many
others, while they certainly do not go so far as
the former, have yet been so infected by breathing a
poisoned atmosphere, as to think, speak, and write
with a degree of laxity which ill becomes a Catholic.
Q. Are these Catholics, who allow themselves to be
contaminated by Modernism, to be found only among the
A. They are to be found among the laity, and in
the ranks of the clergy.
Q. But is it possible that there are some even in the
religious Orders ?
A. They are not wanting even in the last place
where one might expect to meet them in religious
Q. How do these Catholics, laymen, priests, and
religious, who are all more or less tainted with Modernism,
treat of Biblical questions ?
A. If they treat of Biblical questions, it is upon
Q. How do they write history ?
A. If they write history, they carefully, and with
ill-concealed satisfaction, drag into the light, on the
plea of telling the whole truth, everything that appears
to cast a stain upon the Church.
Q. How do they act with regard to pious popular
traditions and venerable relics ?
CATECHISM ON MODERNISM 113
A. Under the sway of certain a priori conceptions,
they destroy as far as they can the pious traditions of
the people, and bring into disrespect certain relics
highly venerable from their antiquity.
Q. At bottom, what is it that impels them to break
thus with the ancient traditions ?
A. They are possessed by the empty desire of
having their names upon the lips of the public, and
they know they would never succeed in this were they
to say only what has always been said by all men.
Q. But have not these Catholics, who are more or less
Modernists, good intentions in breaking with the tra
ditions of the past ?
A. It may be that they have persuaded themselves
that in all this they are really serving God and the
Q. What is the fact ?
A. In reality they only offend both, less perhaps
by their works in themselves than by the spirit in
which they write, and by the encouragement they
thus give to the aims of the Modernists.
THE REMEDIES FOE MODERNISM
Q. What did Leo XIII. do against the errors of the
A. Against this host of grave errors, and its
secret and open advance, Our Predecessor, Leo XIII.,
of happy memory, worked strenuously, both in his
words and his acts, especially as regards the study of the
Q. Were the Modernists put to rout by these words
and these acts ?
A. But, as we have seen, the Modernists are not
easily deterred by such weapons. With an affectation
of great submission and respect, they proceeded to
twist the words of the Pontiff to their own sense, while
they described his action as directed against others
than themselves. Thus the evil has gone on increasing
from day to day.
Q. What determination was our Holy Father, Pius X.,
obliged to come to ?
A. He tells us : We, therefore, have decided to
suffer no longer delay, and to adopt measures which are
Q. In what terms does he call on Bishops, pastors of
CATECHISM ON MODERNISM 115
souls, educators, and the head Superiors of religious
A. We exhort and conjure you to see to it that in
this most grave matter no one shall be in a position to
say that you have been in the slightest degree wanting
in vigilance, zeal, or firmness. And what We ask of
you and expect of you, We ask and expect also of all
other pastors of souls, of all educators and professors of
clerics, and in a very special way of the Superiors of
I. RULES RELATIVE TO STUDIES.
Q. What does the Holy Father ordain on the subject
of philosophy ?
A. He says : In the first place, with regard to
studies, We will and strictly ordain that scholastic
philosophy be made the basis of the sacred sciences.
Q. Following Leo XIII., what reservation does
Pius X. make in his prescription ?
A. It goes without saying that " if anything is
met with among the scholastic doctors which may be
regarded as something investigated with an excess of
subtlety, or taught without sufficient consideration ;
anything which is not in keeping with the certain
results of later times ; anything, in short, which is
altogether destitute of probability, We have no desire
whatever to propose it for the imitation of present
Q. What scholastic philosophy is prescribed in
seminaries and religious Institutes ?
* Leo XIII., Encycl. Mterni Patris.
116 CATECHISM ON MODERNISM
A. Let it be clearly understood above all things
that, when We prescribe scholastic philosophy, We
understand chiefly that which the Angelic Doctor has
bequeathed to us, and We therefore declare that all
the ordinances of Our Predecessor on this subject con
tinue fully in force ; and, as far as may be necessary,
We do decree anew, and confirm, and order that they
shall be strictly observed by all. In seminaries where
they have been neglected, it will be for the Bishops to
exact and require their observance in the future ;
and let this apply also to the Superiors of religious
Q. Would it be a great disadvantage to set aside
St. Thomas ?
A. We admonish professors to bear well in mind
that they cannot set aside St. Thomas, especially in
metaphysical questions, without grave disadvantage.
Q. In what words does Pius X. recommend the study
of theology ?
A. On this philosophical foundation the theo
logical edifice is to be carefully raised. Promote the
study of theology by all means in your power, so that
your clerics on leaving the seminaries may carry with
them a deep admiration and love of it, and always find
in it a source of delight. For " in the vast and varied
abundance of studies opening before the mind desirous
of truth, it is known to every one that theology occupies
such a commanding place that, according to an ancient
adage of the wise, it is the duty of the other arts and
sciences to serve it, and to wait upon it after the
manner of handmaidens." *
* Leo XIII., Lett. Ap. In Magna, December 10, 1889.
CATECHISM ON MODERNISM 117
Q. Does not the Sovereign Pontiff, all the same, praise
the theologians who teach positive theology ?
A. We will add that We deem worthy of praise
those who, with full respect for tradition, the Fathers,
and the ecclesiastical magisterium, endeavour, with
well-balanced judgment, and guided by Catholic prin
ciples (which is not always the case), to illustrate
positive theology by throwing upon it the light of
Q. In teaching positive theology, what is to be
A. * It is certainly necessary that positive theology
should be held in greater appreciation than it has been
in the past, but this must be done without detriment
to scholastic theology ; and those are to be disapproved
as Modernists who exalt positive theology in such a
way as to seem to despise the scholastic.
Q. According to what law ought the study of natural
sciences to be regulated ?
A. With regard to secular studies, let it suffice to
recall here what Our Predecessor has admirably said :
" Apply yourselves energetically to the study of natural
sciences, in which department the things that have
been so brilliantly discovered and so usefully applied,
to the admiration of the present age, will be the object
of praise and commendation to those who come after
us."* But this is to be done without interfering with
sacred studies, as Our same Predecessor prescribed in
these most weighty words : " If you carefully search
for the cause of those errors you will find that it lies
in the fact that in these days, when the natural sciences
* Leo XIII., Alloc., March 7, 1880.
118 CATECHISM ON MODERNISM
absorb so much study, the more severe and lofty studies
have been proportionately neglected some of them
have almost passed into oblivion, some of them are
pursued in a half-hearted or superficial way, and, sad
to say, now that the splendour of the former estate is
dimmed, they have been disfigured by perverse doc
trines and monstrous errors."* We ordain, therefore,
that the study of natural sciences in the seminaries be
carried out according to the law.
II. CHOICE OF THE DIRECTORS AND PROFESSORS FOR
SEMINARIES AND CATHOLIC INSTITUTES.
Q. With what prudence, and according to what rules,
must professors for seminaries and Catholic Universities
be chosen ?
A. All these prescriptions, both Our own and those
of Our Predecessor, are to be kept in view whenever
there is question of choosing directors and professors
for seminaries and Catholic Universities. Anyone who
in any way is found to be tainted with Modernism is
to be excluded without compunction from these offices,
whether of government or of teaching, and those who
already occupy them are to be removed. The same
policy is to be adopted towards those who openly or
secretly lend countenance to Modernism, either by
extolling the Modernists and excusing their culpable
conduct, or by carping at scholasticism, and the
Fathers, and the magisterium of the Church, or by
refusing obedience to ecclesiastical authority in any
of its depositaries ; and towards those who show a love
of novelty in history, archaeology, Biblical exegesis ;
* Loc. cit.
CATECHISM ON MODERNISM 119
and, finally, towards those who neglect the sacred
sciences or appear to prefer to them the secular. In
all this question of studies you cannot be too watchful
or too constant, but most of all in the choice of pro
fessors ; for, as a rule, the students are modelled after
the pattern of their masters. Strong in the conscious
ness of your duty, act always in this matter with
prudence and with vigour.
III. RULES RELATIVE TO STUDENTS.
Q. With what vigilance are candidates for Holy
Orders to be chosen ?
A. Equal vigilance and severity are to be used in
examining and selecting candidates for Holy Orders.
Far, far from the clergy be the love of novelty ! God
hateth the proud and the obstinate mind.
Q. What will be required in future as a condition for
validly conferring the doctorate of theology and canon
A. For the future the doctorate of theology and
canon law must never be conferred on anyone who has
not first of all made the regular course of scholastic
philosophy; if conferred, it shall be held as null and
Q. What rules laid down for clerics, both secular and
regular, in Italy, are henceforth extended to all countries ?
A. The rules laid down in 1896 by the Sacred
Congregation of Bishops and Regulars for the clerics,
both secular and regular, of Italy, concerning the fre
quenting of the Universities, We now decree to be
extended to all nations.
120 CATECHISM ON MODERNISM
Q. What prohibition is added by the Sovereign
A. Clerics and priests inscribed in a Catholic
Institute or University must not in the future follow
in civil Universities those courses for which there are
chairs in the Catholic Institutes to which they belong.
If this has been permitted anywhere in the past, We
ordain that it be not allowed for the future.
Q. What must the Bishops do who preside over the
direction of such Universities and Institutes ?
A. Let the Bishops who form the governing board
of such Catholic Universities or Institutes watch with
all care that these Our commands be constantly
IV. RULES CONCERNING THE READING OF BAD
Q. What is the duty of the Bishops as regards writings
tainted with Modernism ?
A. It is also the duty of the Bishops to prevent
writings of Modernists, or whatever savours of
Modernism or promotes it, from being read when
they have been published, and to hinder their publica
tion when they have not.
Q. What is their duty in this matter with regard to
seminaries and Universities ?
A. No books or papers or periodicals whatever of
this kind are to be permitted to seminarists or Univer
sity students. The injury to them would be not less
than that which is caused by immoral reading nay,
CATECHISM ON MODERNISM 121
it would be greater, for such writings poison Christian
life at its very fount.
Q. Ought the, same measures to be taken in the case
of works written by Catholics who are imbued with
modern philosophy and unsafe in theology ?
A. The same decision is to be taken concerning
the writings of some Catholics who, though not evilly
disposed themselves, are ill instructed in theological
studies and imbued with modern philosophy, and strive
to make this harmonize with the Faith, and, as they
say, to turn it to the profit of the Faith. The name
and reputation of these authors cause them to be read
without suspicion, and they are, therefore, all the
more dangerous in gradually preparing the way for
Q. Are the Bishops bound publicly and solemnly
to condemn the pernicious books that get into their
A. To add some more general directions in a
matter of such moment, We order that you do every
thing in your power to drive out of your dioceses, even
by solemn interdict, any pernicious books that may
be in circulation there. The Holy See neglects no
means to remove writings of this kind, but their
number has now grown to such an extent that it is
hardly possible to subject them all to censure. Hence
it happens sometimes that the remedy arrives too late,
for the disease has taken root during the delay. We
will, therefore, that the Bishops, putting aside all fear
and the prudence of the flesh, despising the clamour
of evil men, shall, gently by all means but firmly, do
each his own part in this work, remembering the in-
122 CATECHISM ON MODEKNISM
junctions of Leo XIII. in the Apostolic Constitution
Officiorum : " Let the Ordinaries, acting in this also
as delegates of the Apostolic See, exert themselves to
proscribe and to put out of reach of the faithful
injurious books or other writings printed or circulated
in their dioceses." In this passage the Bishops, it is
true, receive an authorization, but they have also a
charge laid upon them. Let no Bishop think that he
fulfils this duty by denouncing to Us one or two books,
while a great many others of the same kind are being
published and circulated.
Q. May the Bishops condemn, and ought they even
at times to condemn, works that have an Imprimatur ?
A. Nor are you to be deterred by the fact that a
book has obtained elsewhere the permission which is
commonly called the Imprimatur, both because this
may be merely simulated, and because it may have
been granted through carelessness or too much indul
gence or excessive trust placed in the author, which
last has, perhaps, sometimes happened in the religious
Orders. Besides, just as the same food does not agree
with every one, it may happen that a book, harmless
in one place, may, on account of the different circum
stances, be hurtful in another. Should a Bishop,
therefore, after having taken the advice of prudent
persons, deem it right to condemn any of such books
in his diocese, We give him ample faculty for the pur
pose, and We lay upon him the obligation of doing so.
Let all this be done in a fitting manner, and in certain
cases it will suffice to restrict the prohibition to the
Q. When the prohibition is restricted to the clergy,
CATECHISM ON MODERNISM 123
may Catholic booksellers continue to sell the book that
has been forbidden ?
A. In all cases it will be obligatory on Catholic
booksellers not to put on sale books condemned by the
Q. What are the duties of the Bishops with regard to
Catholic booksellers ?
A. While We are treating of this subject, We wish
the Bishops to see to it that booksellers do not, through
desire for gain, engage in evil trade. It is certain that
in the catalogues of some of them the books of the
Modernists are not unfrequently announced with no
small praise. If they refuse obedience, let the Bishops,
after due admonition, have no hesitation in depriving
them of the title of Catholic booksellers. This applies,
and with still more reason, to those who have the title
of Episcopal booksellers. If they have that of Pon
tifical booksellers, let them be denounced to the Apos
tolic See. Finally, We remind all of Article XXVI. of
the above-mentioned Constitution Officiorum : " All
those who have obtained an Apostolic faculty to read
and keep forbidden books are not thereby authorized
to read and keep books and periodicals forbidden by
the local Ordinaries, unless the Apostolic faculty ex
pressly concedes permission to read and keep books
condemned by anyone whomsoever."
V. INSTITUTION or DIOCESAN CENSORSHIP.
Q. What is the duty of the Bishops with regard to
the publication of books, etc. ?
A. It is not enough to hinder the reading and the
sale of bad books ; it is also necessary to prevent them
124 CATECHISM ON MODERNISM
from being published. Hence, let the Bishops use
the utmost strictness in granting permission to
Q. Ought the Bishops to institute official censors ?
A. Under the rules of the Constitution Officiorum,
many publications require the authorization of the
Ordinary, and in certain dioceses (since the Bishop
cannot personally make himself acquainted with them
all) it has been the custom to have a suitable number
of official censors for the examination of writings.
We have the highest esteem for this institution of
censors, and We not only exhort, but We order, that
it be extended to all dioceses. In all Episcopal Curias,
therefore, let censors be appointed for the revision of
works intended for publication, and let the censors be
chosen from both ranks of the clergy secular and
regular men whose age, knowledge, and prudence will
enable them to follow the safe and golden mean in their
Q. What shall be the duties of these censors ?
A. It shall be their office to examine everything
which requires permission for publication according to
Articles XLI. and XLII. of the above-mentioned Con
stitution. The censor shall give his verdict in writing.
If it be favourable, the Bishop will give the permission
for publication by the word Imprimatur, which must
be preceded by the Nihil Obstat and the name of the
Q. Must censors be appointed in the Roman Curia ?
A. In the Roman Curia official censors shall be
appointed in the same way as elsewhere, and the duty
CATECHISM ON MODERNISM 125
of nominating them shall appertain to the Master of
the Sacred Palace, after they have been proposed to
the Cardinal Vicar and have been approved and
accepted by the Sovereign Pontiff. It will also be
the office of the Master of the Sacred Palace to solect
the censor for each writing. Permission for publica
tion will be granted by him as well as by the Cardinal
Vicar or his Vicegerent, and this permission, as above
prescribed, must be preceded by the Nihil Obstat and
the name of the censor.
Q. May mention of the censor sometimes be sup
A. Only on very rare and exceptional occasions,
and on the prudent decision of the Bishop, shall it be
possible to omit mention of the censor.
Q. What precaution must be taken for the protection
of the censor ?
A. The name of the censor shall never be made
known to the authors until he shall have given a
favourable decision, so that he may not have to suffer
inconvenience either while he is engaged in the ex
amination of a writing, or in case he should withhold
Q. On what condition may a censor be chosen from
among the members of a religious Order ?
A. Censors shall never be chosen from the religious
Orders until the opinion of the Provincial, or, in Rome,
of the General, has been privately obtained ; and the
Provincial or the General must give a conscientious
account of the character, knowledge, and orthodoxy
of the candidate.
126 CATECHISM ON MODERNISM
Q. What approbations must books have that are
published by religious ?
A. We admonish religious Superiors of their most
solemn duty never to allow anything to be published
by any of their subjects without permission from
themselves and from the Ordinary.
Q. May the censor rely upon his title to defend his
personal opinions ?
A. Finally, We affirm and declare that the title of
censor with which a person may be honoured has no
value whatever and can never be adduced to give
credit to the private opinions of him who holds it.
VI. PARTICIPATION OF THE CLERGY IN
THE MANAGEMENT AND EDITORSHIP OF NEWSPAPERS.
Q. May members of the secular clergy manage reviews
or newspapers without the authorization of the Ordinary ?
A. Having said this much in general, We now
ordain in particular a more careful observance of
Article XLII. of the above-mentioned Constitution
Officiorum, according to which "it is forbidden to
secular priests, without the previous consent of the
Ordinary, to undertake the editorship of papers or
periodicals." This permission shall be withdrawn
from any priest who makes a wrong use of it after
having received an admonition thereupon.
Q. What are the duties of the Bishops with regard to
correspondents or collaborators of reviews and news
CATECHISM ON MODERNISM 127
A. With regard to priests who are correspondents
or collaborators of periodicals, as it happens not un-
frequently that they contribute matter infected with
Modernism to their papers or periodicals, let the
Bishops see to it that they do not offend in this manner ;
and if they do, let them warn the offenders and prevent
them from writing.
Q. What is the duty of the Superiors of religious
Orders, and, in case of their negligence, the duty of the
A. We solemnly charge in like manner the
Superiors of religious Orders that they fulfil the same
duty ; and should they fail in it, let the Bishops make
due provision, with authority from the Supreme Pontiff.
Q. Must there be a special censor appointed for each
review and newspaper ? What shall be his office, and
what the Bishop s ?
A. Let there be, as far as this is possible, a special
censor for newspapers and periodicals written by
Catholics. It shall be his office to read in due time
each number after it has been published, and if he find
anything dangerous in it, let him order that it be
corrected as soon as possible. The Bishop shall have
the same right even when the censor has seen nothing
objectionable in a publication.
VII. CONGRESSES OF PRIESTS.
Q. What rules are binding on priests who organize a
congress of priests or take part in one ?
A. We have already mentioned congresses and
public gatherings as among the means used by the
128 CATECHISM ON MODERNISM
Modernists to propagate and defend their opinions.
In the future Bishops shall not permit congresses of
priests except on very rare occasions. When they do
permit them it shall only be on condition that matters
appertaining to the Bishops or to the Apostolic See be
not treated in them, and that no resolutions or petitions
be allowed that would imply a usurpation of sacred
authority, and that absolutely nothing be said in them
which savours of Modernism, Presbyterianism, or
Laicism. At congresses of this kind, which can only
be held after permission in writing has been obtained
in due time and for each case, it shall not be lawful for
priests of other dioceses to be present without the
written permission of their Ordinary. Further, no
priest must lose sight of the solemn recommendation of
Leo XIII. : " Let priests hold as sacred the authority
of their pastors ; let them take it for certain that the
sacerdotal ministry, if not exercised under the guidance
of the Bishops, can never be either holy, or very
fruitful, or worthy of respect." *
VIII. INSTITUTION OF DIOCESAN VIGILANCE
Q. In what terms does His Holiness, Pius X., order
the constitution of vigilance committees in every diocese ?
A. But of what avail would be all Our commands
and prescriptions if they be not dutifully and firmly
carried out ? In order that this may be done, it has
seemed expedient to Us to extend to all dioceses the
regulations which the Bishops of Umbria, with great
wisdom, laid down for theirs many years ago.
* Lett. Encycl. Nobilissvma Gallorum, February 10, 1884.
CATECHISM ON MODERNISM 129
" In order," they say, " to extirpate the errors
already propagated, and to prevent their further
diffusion, and to remove those teachers of impiety
through whom the pernicious effects of such diffusion
are being perpetuated, this sacred Assembly, following
the example of St. Charles Borromeo, has decided to
establish in each of the dioceses a Council consisting of
approved members of both branches of the clergy,
which shall be charged with the task of noting the
existence of errors, and the devices by which new ones
are introduced and propagated, and to inform the
Bishop of the whole, so that he may take counsel
with them as to the best means for suppressing the
evil at the outset, and preventing it spreading for
the ruin of souls or, worse still, gaining strength
and growth."* We decree, therefore, that in every
diocese a council of this kind, which We are pleased
to name " The Council of Vigilance," be instituted
Q. How are the members of the Council of Vigilance
to be chosen ?
A. The priests called to form part in it shall be
chosen somewhat after the manner above prescribed
for the censors.
Q. When must they meet, and are they bound to
A. They shall meet every two months on an
appointed day in the presence of the Bishop. They
shall be bound to secrecy as to their deliberations and
* Acts of the Congress of the Bishops of Uiubria, November,
1849, lit. 2, art. 6.
130 CATECHISM ON MODERNISM
Q. What shall be the duty of the members of the
Council of Vigilance ?
A. In their functions shall be included the follow
ing : 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
Q. What must be, in an especial manner, the object
of their attention ?
A. Let them combat novelties of words, remember
ing the admonitions of Leo XIII. :* "It is impossible
to approve in Catholic publications 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 social
vocation of the clergy, on a new Christian civilization,
and many other things of the same kind." Language
of the kind here indicated is not to be tolerated either
in books or in lectures.
Q. Must the Councils keep an eye upon the works
that deal with pious local traditions and relics ?
A. The Councils must not neglect the books
treating of the pious traditions of different places or
of sacred relics. Let them not permit such questions
to be discussed in journals or periodicals destined to
foster piety, neither with expressions savouring of
mockery or contempt, nor by dogmatic pronounce
ments, especially when, as is often the case, what is
* Instruct. S. C. NN. EE. EE., January 27, 1902.
CATECHISM ON MODERNISM 131
stated as a certainty either does not pass the limits of
probability or is based on prejudiced opinion.
Q. What rules must be observed with regard to relics ?
A. Concerning sacred relics, let this be the rule :
If Bishops, who alone are judges in such matters,
know for certain that a relic is not genuine, let them
remove it at once from the veneration of the faithful ;
if the authentications of a relic happen to have been
lost through civil disturbances, or in any other way,
let it not be exposed for public veneration until the
Bishop has verified it. The argument of prescription
or well-founded presumption is to have weight only
when devotion to a relic is commendable by reason of
its antiquity, according to the sense of the Decree
issued in 1896 by the Congregation of Indulgences and
Sacred Relics : " Ancient relics are to retain the
veneration they have always enjoyed except when in
individual instances there are clear arguments that they
are false or supposititious."
Q. What rules must be followed in judging of pious
A. In passing judgment on pious traditions, let it
always be borne in mind that in this matter the Church
uses the greatest prudence, and that she does not allow
traditions of this kind to be narrated in books except
with the utmost caution, and with the insertion of the
declaration imposed by Urban VIII. : and even then
she does not guarantee the truth of the fact narrated ;
she simply does not forbid belief in things for which
human evidence is not wanting. On this matter the
Sacred Congregation of Rites, thirty years ago, decreed
as follows : " These apparitions or revelations have
132 CATECHISM ON MODERNISM
neither been approved nor condemned by the Holy See,
which has simply allowed them to be believed on purely
human faith, on the tradition which they relate, cor
roborated by testimony and documents worthy of
credence."* Anyone who follows this rule has no
cause to fear. For the devotion based on any appari
tion, in as far as it regards the fact itself, that is to say,
in so far as the devotion is relative, always implies the
condition of the fact being true ; while in as far as it is
absolute, it is always based on the truth, seeing that its
object is the persons of the Saints who are honoured.
The same is true of relics.
Q. And, last, must the Council of Vigilance keep a
watch on social institutions and writings on social
A. 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 harbour no trace of Modernism, but
obey the prescriptions of the Roman Pontiffs.
IX. TBIENNIAL REPORT PRESCRIBED TO
Q. What does the Sovereign Pontiff prescribe to all the
Bishops and all the Superiors-General of religious
A. Lest what We have laid down thus far should
pass into oblivion, We will and ordain that the Bishops
of all dioceses, a year after the publication of these
letters and every three years thenceforward, furnish
* Decree, May 2, 1877.
CATECHISM ON MODERNISM 133
the Holy See with a diligent and sworn report on the
things which have been decreed in this Our Letter, and
on the doctrines that find currency among the clergy,
and especially in the seminaries and other Catholic
institutions, those not excepted which are not subject
to the Ordinary, and We impose the like obligation on
the Generals of religious Orders with regard to those
who are under them.
THE CHURCH AND SCIENTIFIC PROGRESS
THIS, Venerable Brethren, is what We have thought
it Our duty to write to you for the salvation of all who
believe. The adversaries of the Church will doubt
lessly abuse what We have said to refurbish the old
calumny by which We are traduced as the enemy of
science and of the progress of humanity. As a fresh
answer to such accusations, which the history of the
Christian religion refutes by never-failing evidence,
it is Our intention to establish by every means in Our
power a special Institute in which, through the co
operation of those Catholics who are most eminent for
their learning, the advance of science and every other
department of knowledge may be promoted under the
guidance and teaching of Catholic truth. God grant
that We may happily realize Our design with the
assistance of all those who bear a sincere love for the
Church of Christ. But of this We propose to speak on
Meanwhile, Venerable Brethren, fully confident in
your zeal and energy, We beseech for you with Our
whole heart the abundance of heavenly light, so that
in the midst of this great danger to souls from the
insidious invasions of error upon every hand, you may-
see clearly what ought to be done, and labour to do it
with all your strength and courage. May Jesus Christ,
CATECHISM ON MODERNISM 135
the Author and Finisher of our Faith, be with you in His
power ; and may the Immaculate Virgin, the destroyer
of all heresies, be with you by her prayers and aid.
And We, as a pledge of Our affection and of the Divine
solace in adversity, most lovingly grant to you, your
clergy and people, the Apostolic Benediction.
Given at St. Peter s, Rome, on the eighth day of
September, one thousand nine hundred and seven, the
fifth year of Our Pontificate.
Pius X., POPE.
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Lemius, Jean Baptiste,
Catechism on Modernism
according to the encyclical