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Syllabus of Condemned Errors

September 11, 2013
District of Australia

An appendix to Pius IX's famous Quanta Cura, the Syllabus of Errors attacks the primary errors of liberalism which today infects both the Church and society, particularly in the political sphere.

The Syllabus of Errors was an annex to Pope Pius IX's encyclical, Quanta Cura, both promulgated on December 8, 1864.

The Syllabus (or summary list) of Pope Pius IX is made up of phrases and paraphrases from earlier papal documents, along with index references to them, and presented as a list of "condemned propositions."

While the Syllabus does not explain why each particular proposition is wrong, it does cite earlier documents to which the reader can refer for the Pope's reasons for saying each proposition is false.

We provide below some of the most pertinent excerpts from this landmark document, which continues to serve as a guide against the errors of Liberalism.

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Some excerpts from the Syllabus of Errors

I. Pantheism, naturalism and absolute rationalism

1. There exists no Supreme, all-wise, all-provident Divine Being, distinct from the universe, and God is identical with the nature of things, and is, therefore, subject to changes. In effect, God is produced in man and in the world, and all things are God and have the very substance of God, and God is one and the same thing with the world, and, therefore, spirit with matter, necessity with liberty, good with evil, justice with injustice. (Allocution Maxima quidem, June 9, 1862)

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

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

4. All the truths of religion proceed from the innate strength of human reason; hence reason is the ultimate standard by which man can and ought to arrive at the knowledge of all truths of every kind.  (Ibid and Encyclical Qui pluribus, November 9, 1846, etc.)

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

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

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

II. Moderate rationalism

8. As human reason is placed on a level with religion itself, so theological must be treated in the same manner as philosophical sciences. (Allocution Singulari quadam, December 9, 1854)

9. All the dogmas of the Christian religion are indiscriminately the object of natural science or philosophy, and human reason, enlightened solely in an historical way, is able, by its own natural strength and principles, to attain to the true science of even the most abstruse dogmas; provided only that such dogmas be proposed to reason itself as its object. (Letters to the Archbishop of Munich, Gravissimas inter, December 11, 1862, and Tuas libenter, December 21, 1863)

10. As the philosopher is one thing, and philosophy another, so it is the right and duty of the philosopher to subject himself to the authority which he shall have proved to be true; but philosophy neither can nor ought to submit to any such authority. (Ibid, December 11, 1862)

11. The Church not only ought never to pass judgment on philosophy, but ought to tolerate the errors of philosophy, leaving it to correct itself. (Ibid, December 21, 1863)

III. Indifferentism

15. Every man is free to embrace and profess that religion which, guided by the light of reason, he shall consider true. (Allocution Maxima quidem, June 9, 1862; Damnatio [i.e., a document of Condemnation], Multiplices inter, June 10, 1851)

16. Man may, in the observance of any religion whatever, find the way of eternal salvation, and arrive at eternal salvation. (Encyclical Qui pluribus, November 9, 1846)

V. Errors concerning the Church and her rights

19. The Church is not a true and perfect society, entirely free—nor is she endowed with proper and perpetual rights of her own, conferred upon her by her Divine Founder; but it appertains to the civil power to define what are the rights of the Church, and the limits within which she may exercise those rights. (Allocution Singulari quadam, December 9, 1854, etc.)

21. The Church has not the power of defining dogmatically that the religion of the Catholic Church is the only true religion. (Damnatio, Multiplices inter, June 10, 1851)

VI. Errors about civil society, considered both in itself and in its relation to the Church

39. The State, as being the origin and source of all rights, is endowed with a certain right not circumscribed by any limits. (Allocution Maxima quidem, June 9, 1862)

40. The teaching of the Catholic Church is hostile to the well-being and interests of society. (Encyclical Qui pluribus, November 9, 1846; Allocution Quibus quantisque, April 20, 1849)

45. The entire government of public schools in which the youth—of a Christian state is educated, except (to a certain extent) in the case of episcopal seminaries, may and ought to appertain to the civil power, and belong to it so far that no other authority whatsoever shall be recognized as having any right to interfere in the discipline of the schools, the arrangement of the studies, the conferring of degrees, in the choice or approval of the teachers. (Allocutions Quibus luctuosissimis, September 5, 1851, and In consistoriali, November 1, 1850)

VII. Errors concerning natural and Christian ethics

56. Moral laws do not stand in need of the divine sanction, and it is not at all necessary that human laws should be made conformable to the laws of nature and receive their power of binding from God. (Allocution Maxima quidem, June 9, 1862)

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

58. No other forces are to be recognized except those which reside in matter, and all the rectitude and excellence of morality ought to be placed in the accumulation and increase of riches by every possible means, and the gratification of pleasure. (Ibid; Encyclical Quanto conficiamur, August 10, 1863)

59. Right consists in the material fact. All human duties are an empty word, and all human facts have the force of right. (Allocution Maxima quidem, June 9, 1862)

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

VIII. Errors concerning Christian marriage

65. The doctrine that Christ has raised marriage to the dignity of a sacrament cannot be at all tolerated. (Apostolic Letter Ad Apostolicae, August 22, 1851)

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

67. By the law of nature, the marriage tie is not indissoluble, and in many cases divorce properly so called may be decreed by the civil authority. (Ibid; Allocution Acerbissimum, September 27, 1852)

X. Errors having reference to modern liberalism

77. In the present day it is no longer expedient that the Catholic religion should be held as the only religion of the State, to the exclusion of all other forms of worship. (Allocution Nemo vestrum, July 26, 1855)

78. Hence it has been wisely decided by law, in some Catholic countries, that persons coming to reside therein shall enjoy the public exercise of their own peculiar worship. (Allocution Acerbissimum, Sept. 27, 1852)

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