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"Tear away the mask from Freemasonry, Pope Leo XIII



To  Our Venerable Brethren, Patriarchs, Primates,
Archbishops, Bishops and other  local  Ordinaries
Enjoying Peace and Communion with the Holy See.

Venerable   Brethren,   Greetings  and  Apostolic

Disagreement and error among  men  on  moral  and
religious  matters  have  always  been a cause of
profound sorrow to all good men, but above all to
the true and loyal sons of the Church, especially
today, when we see the  principles  of  Christian
culture being attacked on all sides.

2.  It  is  not  surprising that such discord and
error should always have existed outside the fold
of Christ. For though, absolutely speaking, human
reason by its own natural  force  and  light  can
arrive at a true and certain knowledge of the one
personal God, Who by His providence watches  over
and  governs the world, and also the natural law,
which the Creator  has  written  in  our  hearts,
still  there  are  not a few obstacles to prevent
reason from making efficient and fruitful use  of
its  natural  ability. The truths that have to do
with God and the relations between God  and  men,
completely  surpass the sensible order and demand
self-surrender and self-abnegation in order to be
put  into  practice  and  to  influence practical
life. Now the human  intellect,  in  gaining  the
knowledge  of such truths is hampered both by the
activity of the senses and the  imagination,  and
by evil passions arising from original sin. Hence
men easily persuade themselves  in  such  matters
that what they do not wish to believe is false or
at least doubtful.

3. It is for this reason that  divine  revelation
must  be  considered  morally  necessary  so that
those religious and moral truths which are not of
their  nature  beyond  the reach of reason in the
present condition of the human race, may be known
by all men readily with a firm certainty and with
freedom from all error.[1]

4. Furthermore the human  intelligence  sometimes
experiences  difficulties  in  forming a judgment
about the  credibility  of  the  Catholic  faith,
notwithstanding the many wonderful external signs
God has given, which are sufficient to prove with
certitude  by  the  natural light of reason alone
the divine origin of the Christian religion.  For
man can, whether from prejudice or passion or bad
faith, refuse and resist not only the evidence of
the  external proofs that are available, but also
the impulses of actual grace.

5.  If  anyone  examines  the  state  of  affairs
outside   the  Christian  fold,  he  will  easily
discover the principal  trends  that  not  a  few
learned  men  are following. Some imprudently and
indiscreetly hold that evolution, which  has  not
been  fully  proved even in the domain of natural
sciences, explains the origin of  all  this,  and
audaciously  support the monistic and pantheistic
opinion that the world is in continual evolution.
Communists  gladly  subscribed to this opinion so
that, when the souls of men have been deprived of
every  idea  of a personal God, they may the more
efficaciously   defend   and   propagate    their
dialectical materialism.

6.  Such  fictitious  tenets  of  evolution which
repudiate  all  that  is   absolute,   firm   and
immutable,   have  paved  the  way  for  the  new
erroneous philosophy  which,  rivaling  idealism,
immanentism  and pragmatism, has assumed the name
of existentialism, since it concerns itself  only
with  existence of individual things and neglects
all consideration of their immutable essences.

7. There is also  a  certain  historicism,  which
attributing  value  only  to  the events of man's
life, overthrows the foundation of all truth  and
absolute  law  both on the level of philosophical
speculations and especially to Christian dogmas.

8.  In  all  this  confusion  of  opinion  it  is
consolation  to  Us  to  see  former adherents of
rationalism today frequently desiring  to  return
to  the  fountain of divinely communicated truth,
and to acknowledge and profess the word of God as
contained  in  Sacred Scripture as the foundation
of religious teaching. But at the same time it is
a  matter  of regret that not a few of these, the
more firmly they accept the word of God, so  much
the  more  do  they  diminish  the value of human
reason, and the more they exalt the authority  of
God the Revealer, the more severely do they spurn
the teaching office of the Church, which has been
instituted  by  Christ, Our Lord, to preserve and
interpret divine revelation. This attitude is not
only plainly at variance with Holy Scripture, but
is shown to be  false  by  experience  also.  For
often  those  who  disagree  with the true Church
complain openly of their disagreement in  matters
of dogma and thus unwillingly bear witness to the
necessity of a living Teaching Authority.

9. Now  Catholic  theologians  and  philosophers,
whose  grave  duty  it  is  to defend natural and
supernatural truth and instill it in  the  hearts
of  men, cannot afford to ignore or neglect these
more or less erroneous opinions. Rather they must
come to understand these same theories well, both
because diseases are not properly treated  unless
they are rightly diagnosed, and because sometimes
even in these false theories a certain amount  of
truth  is  contained,  and, finally because these
theories  provoke  more  subtle  discussion   and
evaluation   of   philosophical  and  theological

10. If philosophers and theologians  strive  only
to   derive   such   profit   from   the  careful
examination of these doctrines, there would be no
reason  for  any  intervention  by  the  Teaching
Authority of the  Church.  However,  although  We
know that Catholic teachers generally avoid these
errors, it is apparent, however, that some today,
as  in  apostolic times, desirous of novelty, and
fearing  to  be  considered  ignorant  of  recent
scientific  findings  try  to withdraw themselves
from  the  sacred  Teaching  Authority  and   are
accordingly in danger of gradually departing from
revealed truth and of drawing others  along  with
them into error.

11.  Another danger is perceived which is all the
more serious because it is more concealed beneath
the mask of virtue. There are many who, deploring
disagreement   among   men    and    intellectual
confusion,  through  an imprudent zeal for souls,
are urged by a great and ardent desire to do away
with  the  barrier  that  divides good and honest
men; these advocate an  "eirenism"  according  to
which,  by  setting  aside  the  questions  which
divide men, they aim not only at  joining  forces
to  repel  the  attacks  of  atheism, but also at
reconciling things opposed to one another in  the
field  of  dogma.  And  as  in  former times some
questioned whether the traditional apologetics of
the  Church did not constitute an obstacle rather
than a help to the winning of souls  for  Christ,
so  today some are presumptive enough to question
seriously  whether   theology   and   theological
methods,   such   as   with   the   approval   of
ecclesiastical  authority  are   found   in   our
schools,  should  not only be perfected, but also
completely reformed, in order to promote the more
efficacious  propagation of the kingdom of Christ
everywhere throughout  the  world  among  men  of
every culture and religious opinion.

12.   Now   if   these  only  aimed  at  adapting
ecclesiastical teaching  and  methods  to  modern
conditions    and   requirements,   through   the
introduction  of  some  new  explanations,  there
would  be scarcely any reason for alarm. But some
through enthusiasm for  an  imprudent  "eirenism"
seem   to   consider   as   an  obstacle  to  the
restoration of fraternal union, things founded on
the  laws  and  principles  given  by  Christ and
likewise on institutions founded by Him, or which
are  the  defense and support of the integrity of
the faith, and the removal of which  would  bring
about  the  union  of  all,  but  only  to  their

13. These new opinions,  whether  they  originate
from  a reprehensible desire of novelty or from a
laudable motive, are not always advanced  in  the
same  degree,  with equal clarity nor in the same
terms, nor always  with  unanimous  agreement  of
their   authors.  Theories  that  today  are  put
forward rather  covertly  by  some,  not  without
cautions  and  distinctions,  tomorrow are openly
and without moderation proclaimed by others  more
audacious,  causing  scandal  to many, especially
among the young clergy and to  the  detriment  of
ecclesiastical authority. Though they are usually
more cautious  in  their  published  works,  they
express  themselves more openly in their writings
intended   for   private   circulation   and   in
conferences   and   lectures.   Moreover,   these
opinions are disseminated not only among  members
of  the  clergy  and  in seminaries and religious
institutions,  but  also  among  the  laity,  and
especially   among   those  who  are  engaged  in
teaching youth.

14. In theology some want to reduce to a  minimum
the  meaning  of dogmas; and to free dogma itself
from terminology long established in  the  Church
and  from philosophical concepts held by Catholic
teachers,  to  bring  about  a  return   in   the
explanation  of  Catholic  doctrine to the way of
speaking  used  in  Holy  Scripture  and  by  the
Fathers of the Church. They cherish the hope that
when dogma is stripped of the elements which they
hold  to  be  extrinsic  to divine revelation, it
will compare  advantageously  with  the  dogmatic
opinions  of  those  who  are  separated from the
unity of the Church and that  in  this  way  they
will gradually arrive at a mutual assimilation of
Catholic dogma with the tenets of the dissidents.

15.  Moreover  they  assert  that  when  Catholic
doctrine  has  been  reduced to this condition, a
way will be found to satisfy modern  needs,  that
will  permit of dogma being expressed also by the
concepts  of  modern   philosophy,   whether   of
immanentism  or idealism or existentialism or any
other system. Some  more  audacious  affirm  that
this can and must be done, because they hold that
the mysteries of faith  are  never  expressed  by
truly  adequate  concepts but only by approximate
and ever changeable notions, in which  the  truth
is  to  some extent expressed, but is necessarily
distorted. Wherefore  they  do  not  consider  it
absurd,  but  altogether necessary, that theology
should substitute new concepts in  place  of  the
old ones in keeping with the various philosophies
which in the  course  of  time  it  uses  as  its
instruments,   so   that  it  should  give  human
expression to divine truths in various ways which
are  even somewhat opposed, but still equivalent,
as they say. They add that the history of  dogmas
consists in the reporting of the various forms in
which revealed truth has been clothed, forms that
have succeeded one another in accordance with the
different teachings and opinions that have arisen
over the course of the centuries.

16. It is evident from what We have already said,
that such tentatives not only lead to  what  they
call  dogmatic relativism, but that they actually
contain it. The  contempt  of  doctrine  commonly
taught  and of the terms in which it is expressed
strongly favor it. Everyone  is  aware  that  the
terminology employed in the schools and even that
used by the  Teaching  Authority  of  the  Church
itself   is   capable   of  being  perfected  and
polished; and we know also that the Church itself
has  not  always  used the same terms in the same
way. It is also manifest that the  Church  cannot
be  bound  to every system of philosophy that has
existed for a short space of time.  Nevertheless,
the things that have been composed through common
effort by Catholic teachers over  the  course  of
the  centuries  to bring about some understanding
of dogma are certainly not based on any such weak
foundation.  These things are based on principles
and notions deduced  from  a  true  knowledge  of
created  things. In the process of deducing, this
knowledge, like a star, gave enlightenment to the
human  mind  through  the Church. Hence it is not
astonishing that some of these notions  have  not
only  been  used by the Oecumenical Councils, but
even sanctioned by them, so that it is  wrong  to
depart from them.

17. Hence to neglect, or to reject, or to devalue
so many and such great resources which have  been
conceived,  expressed  and  perfected so often by
the age-old work of men endowed  with  no  common
talent  and  holiness, working under the vigilant
supervision of the holy magisterium and with  the
light  and  leadership of the Holy Ghost in order
to state  the  truths  of  the  faith  ever  more
accurately,  to  do this so that these things may
be replaced by conjectural notions  and  by  some
formless and unstable tenets of a new philosophy,
tenets which, like the flowers of the field,  are
in  existence  today  and  die  tomorrow; this is
supreme imprudence and something that would  make
dogma  itself  a  reed  shaken  by  the wind. The
contempt for terms and notions habitually used by
scholastic  theologians  leads  of  itself to the
weakening of what they call speculative theology,
a  discipline  which these men consider devoid of
true certitude because it is based on theological

18.  Unfortunately  these  advocates  of  novelty
easily pass from despising scholastic theology to
the neglect of and even contempt for the Teaching
Authority of the Church itself, which gives  such
authoritative  approval  to  scholastic theology.
This Teaching Authority is represented by them as
a  hindrance  to  progress and an obstacle in the
way of science. Some non Catholics consider it as
an   unjust   restraint   preventing   some  more
qualified  theologians   from   reforming   their
subject.  And  although  this  sacred  Office  of
Teacher in matters of faith and  morals  must  be
the  proximate  and  universal criterion of truth
for  all  theologians,  since  to  it  has   been
entrusted by Christ Our Lord the whole deposit of
faith -- Sacred Scripture and divine Tradition --
to  be  preserved, guarded and interpreted, still
the duty that is incumbent  on  the  faithful  to
flee   also  those  errors  which  more  or  less
approach heresy, and accordingly  "to  keep  also
the  constitutions and decrees by which such evil
opinions are proscribed and forbidden by the Holy
See,"[2]  is  sometimes  as little known as if it
did  not  exist.  What  is   expounded   in   the
Encyclical   Letters   of   the   Roman  Pontiffs
concerning the nature  and  constitution  of  the
Church,  is deliberately and habitually neglected
by some with  the  idea  of  giving  force  to  a
certain  vague  notion which they profess to have
found in  the  ancient  Fathers,  especially  the
Greeks.  The  Popes,  they assert, do not wish to
pass judgment on what  is  a  matter  of  dispute
among theologians, so recourse must be had to the
early sources, and the recent  constitutions  and
decrees  of the Teaching Church must be explained
from the writings of the ancients.

19. Although these things seem well  said,  still
they  are  not  free  from error. It is true that
Popes generally leave theologians free  in  those
matters which are disputed in various ways by men
of very high authority in this field; but history
teaches that many matters that formerly were open
to discussion, no longer now admit of discussion.

20. Nor must it be thought that what is expounded
in  Encyclical  Letters does not of itself demand
consent, since in writing such Letters the  Popes
do  not  exercise  the  supreme  power  of  their
Teaching Authority. For these matters are  taught
with the ordinary teaching authority, of which it
is true to say:  "He  who  heareth  you,  heareth
me";[3]  and  generally  what  is  expounded  and
inculcated  in  Encyclical  Letters  already  for
other  reasons  appertains  to Catholic doctrine.
But if the Supreme  Pontiffs  in  their  official
documents  purposely pass judgment on a matter up
to that time under dispute, it  is  obvious  that
that  matter,  according  to the mind and will of
the  same  Pontiffs,   cannot   be   any   longer
considered  a  question  open to discussion among

21. It is also true that theologians must  always
return  to  the sources of divine revelation: for
it belongs to them to point out how the  doctrine
of  the  living Teaching Authority is to be found
either explicitly or implicitly in the Scriptures
and  in  Tradition.[4]  Besides,  each  source of
divinely revealed doctrine contains so many  rich
treasures of truth, that they can really never be
exhausted. Hence it is that theology through  the
study  of  its sacred sources remains ever fresh;
on the other hand, speculation which  neglects  a
deeper  search  into the deposit of faith, proves
sterile, as we know from experience. But for this
reason  even positive theology cannot be on a par
with merely  historical  science.  For,  together
with  the  sources  of  positive theology God has
given to His Church a living  Teaching  Authority
to elucidate and explain what is contained in the
deposit of faith only obscurely  and  implicitly.
This  deposit  of  faith  our Divine Redeemer has
given for authentic interpretation not to each of
the  faithful,  not even to theologians, but only
to the Teaching Authority of the Church.  But  if
the   Church   does  exercise  this  function  of
teaching, as she often has through the centuries,
either  in  the ordinary or extraordinary way, it
is clear how false is  a  procedure  which  would
attempt to explain what is clear by means of what
is obscure. Indeed the  very  opposite  procedure
must  be  used. Hence Our Predecessor of immortal
memory, Pius IX, teaching  that  the  most  noble
office  of  theology  is  to  show how a doctrine
defined by the Church is contained in the sources
of  revelation,  added these words, and with very
good reason: "in that sense in which it has  been
defined by the Church."

22.  To  return,  however,  to  the  new opinions
mentioned above, a number of things are  proposed
or  suggested  by  some  even  against the divine
authorship of Sacred Scripture. For  some  go  so
far  as  to  pervert  the  sense  of  the Vatican
Council's definition that God is  the  author  of
Holy  Scripture,  and  they put forward again the
opinion, already often condemned,  which  asserts
that  immunity  from  error extends only to those
parts of the Bible that treat of God or of  moral
and religious matters. They even wrongly speak of
a human sense of the Scriptures, beneath which  a
divine   sense,   which  they  say  is  the  only
infallible meaning, lies hidden. In  interpreting
Scripture,  they  will  take  no  account  of the
analogy of faith and the Tradition of the Church.
Thus  they  judge the doctrine of the Fathers and
of the  Teaching  Church  by  the  norm  of  Holy
Scripture, interpreted by the purely human reason
of exegetes, instead of explaining Holy Scripture
according  to the mind of the Church which Christ
Our Lord has appointed guardian  and  interpreter
of the whole deposit of divinely revealed truth.

23.   Further,   according  to  their  fictitious
opinions, the literal sense of Holy Scripture and
its  explanation,  carefully worked out under the
Church's vigilance by  so  many  great  exegetes,
should  yield  now  to a new exegesis, which they
are pleased to call  symbolic  or  spiritual.  By
means  of  this  new  exegesis the Old Testament,
which today in the Church is a sealed book, would
finally  be  thrown  open to all the faithful. By
this method, they say, all  difficulties  vanish,
difficulties  which  hinder only those who adhere
to the literal meaning of the Scriptures.

24. Everyone sees how foreign all this is to  the
principles  and  norms  of interpretation rightly
fixed by our predecessors of  happy  memory,  Leo
XIII  in  his  Encyclical "Providentissimus," and
Benedict   XV   in   the   Encyclical   "Spiritus
Paraclitus,"   as   also   by  Ourselves  in  the
Encyclical "Divino Affflante Spiritu."

25. It is not surprising that novelties  of  this
kind  have  already  borne  their deadly fruit in
almost  all  branches  of  theology.  It  is  now
doubted   that   human   reason,  without  divine
revelation and the help of divine grace, can,  by
arguments  drawn from the created universe, prove
the existence of a personal  God;  it  is  denied
that the world had a beginning; it is argued that
the creation of the world is necessary, since  it
proceeds  from the necessary liberality of divine
love; it is  denied  that  God  has  eternal  and
infallible  foreknowedge  of  the free actions of
men -- all this in contradiction to  the  decrees
of the Vatican Council[5]

26.   Some   also  question  whether  angels  are
personal beings, and whether  matter  and  spirit
differ  essentially.  Others destroy the gratuity
of the supernatural order, since God,  they  say,
cannot   create   intellectual   beings   without
ordering and calling them to the beatific vision.
Nor  is  this  all.  Disregarding  the Council of
Trent, some pervert the very concept of  original
sin,  along with the concept of sin in general as
an offense against God, as well as  the  idea  of
satisfaction  performed  for  us  by Christ. Some
even say that the doctrine of transubstantiation,
based  on  an  antiquated  philosophic  notion of
substance, should be so modified  that  the  real
presence  of  Christ  in  the  Holy  Eucharist be
reduced to  a  kind  of  symbolism,  whereby  the
consecrated  species  would be merely efficacious
signs of the spiritual presence of Christ and  of
His  intimate  union with the faithful members of
His Mystical Body.

27. Some say they are not bound by the  doctrine,
explained in Our Encyclical Letter of a few years
ago, and based  on  the  sources  of  revelation,
which  teaches  that  the Mystical Body of Christ
and the Roman Catholic Church  are  one  and  the
same  thing.[6]  Some  reduce  to  a  meaningless
formula the necessity of belonging  to  the  true
Church in order to gain eternal salvation. Others
finally belittle the reasonable character of  the
credibility of Christian faith.

28.  These  and  like  errors,  it is clear, have
crept in  among  certain  of  Our  sons  who  are
deceived  by imprudent zeal for souls or by false
science. To them We are compelled with  grief  to
repeat  once again truths already well known, and
to point out with  solicitude  clear  errors  and
dangers of error.

29.  It  is  well  known  how  highly  the Church
regards human reason, for it falls to  reason  to
demonstrate  with certainty the existence of God,
personal and one;  to  prove  beyond  doubt  from
divine   signs   the   very  foundations  of  the
Christian faith;  to  express  properly  the  law
which  the Creator has imprinted in the hearts of
men; and finally to attain to some notion, indeed
a  very  fruitful  notion,  of  mysteries[7]  But
reason can perform  these  functions  safely  and
well,  only  when properly trained, that is, when
imbued with that sound philosophy which has  long
been,  as  it  were,  a  patrimony handed down by
earlier  Christian  ages,  and   which   moreover
possesses  an  authority  of  even  higher order,
since the Teaching Authority of  the  Church,  in
the   light  of  divine  revelation  itself,  has
weighed its fundamental tenets, which  have  been
elaborated and defined little by little by men of
great genius. For this  philosophy,  acknowledged
and   accepted  by  the  Church,  safeguards  the
genuine  validity   of   human   knowledge,   the
unshakable  metaphysical principles of sufficient
reason, causality, and finality, and finally  the
mind's ability to attain certain and unchangeable

30. Of course this  philosophy  deals  with  much
that  neither  directly  nor  indirectly  touches
faith  or  morals,  and  which  consequently  the
Church  leaves to the free discussion of experts.
But this does not hold  for  many  other  things,
especially   those   principles  and  fundamental
tenets to which We have just  referred.  However,
even  in  these  fundamental  questions,  we  may
clothe our philosophy in a  more  convenient  and
richer  dress,  make it more vigorous with a more
effective  terminology,  divest  it  of   certain
scholastic  aids  found  less  useful,  prudently
enrich it with the  fruits  of  progress  of  the
human  mind.  But  never  may we overthrow it, or
contaminate it with false principles,  or  regard
it as a great, but obsolete, relic. For truth and
its philosophic expression cannot change from day
to  day,  least of all where there is question of
self-evident principles of the human mind  or  of
those  propositions  which  are  supported by the
wisdom of the  ages  and  by  divine  revelation.
Whatever new truth the sincere human mind is able
to find, certainly cannot  be  opposed  to  truth
already  acquired,  since God, the highest Truth,
has created and guides the human  intellect,  not
that  it  may  daily oppose new truths to rightly
established  ones,  but   rather   that,   having
eliminated errors which may have crept in, it may
build truth upon truth  in  the  same  order  and
structure  that  exist  in reality, the source of
truth.  Let  no  Christian   therefore,   whether
philosopher  or  theologian,  embrace eagerly and
lightly whatever novelty happens to be thought up
from day to day, but rather let him weigh it with
painstaking care and a balanced judgment, lest he
lose  or  corrupt  the truth he already has, with
grave danger and damage to his faith.

31. If one  considers  all  this  well,  he  will
easily  see  why  the  Church demands that future
priests be instructed in philosophy "according to
the  method,  doctrine,  and  principles  of  the
Angelic Doctor,"[8] since, as we well  know  from
the   experience  of  centuries,  the  method  of
Aquinas  is  singularly   preeminent   both   for
teaching  students  and  for  bringing  truth  to
light; his doctrine is  in  harmony  with  divine
revelation,   and  is  most  effective  both  for
safeguarding the foundation of the faith, and for
reaping, safely and usefully, the fruits of sound

32.  How  deplorable  it  is   then   that   this
philosophy,  received  and honored by the Church,
is scorned  by  some,  who  shamelessly  call  it
outmoded  in form and rationalistic, as they say,
in its method of  thought.  They  say  that  this
philosophy  upholds  the  erroneous  notion  that
there can be  a  metaphysic  that  is  absolutely
true;   whereas   in  fact,  they  say,  reality,
especially transcendent reality, cannot better be
expressed  than  by  disparate  teachings,  which
mutually complete each other, although  they  are
in   a  way  mutually  opposed.  Our  traditional
philosophy, then, with its clear  exposition  and
solution of questions, its accurate definition of
terms, its clear-cut distinctions, can  be,  they
concede,  useful  as a preparation for scholastic
theology, a  preparation  quite  in  accord  with
medieval  mentality;  but  this philosophy hardly
offers a method of philosophizing suited  to  the
needs   of   our  modern  culture.  They  allege,
finally, that our perennial philosophy is only  a
philosophy   of  immutable  essences,  while  the
contemporary mind must look to the  existence  of
things  and to life, which is ever in flux. While
scorning  our  philosophy,   they   extol   other
philosophies  of  all  kinds, ancient and modern,
oriental and occidental, by which  they  seem  to
imply that any kind of philosophy or theory, with
a few additions and corrections if need  be,  can
be  reconciled  with  Catholic dogma. No Catholic
can doubt how false  this  is,  especially  where
there  is  question  of those fictitious theories
they   call   immanentism,   or   idealism,    or
materialism,  whether  historic  or dialectic, or
even existentialism, whether atheistic or  simply
the  type  that denies the validity of the reason
in the field of metaphysics.

33. Finally, they reproach this philosophy taught
in  our  schools for regarding only the intellect
in the process of cognition, while neglecting the
function  of  the  will and the emotions. This is
simply not true. Never has  Christian  philosophy
denied   the  usefulness  and  efficacy  of  good
dispositions of soul for perceiving and embracing
moral  and  religious  truths.  In  fact,  it has
always taught that the lack of these dispositions
of good will can be the reason why the intellect,
influenced by the passions and evil inclinations,
can  be  so  obscured that it cannot see clearly.
Indeed St. Thomas holds that the intellect can in
some  way  perceive  higher  goods  of  the moral
order, whether natural or supernatural,  inasmuch
as  it experiences a certain "connaturality" with
these  goods,  whether  this  "connaturality"  be
purely  natural,  or the result of grace;[10] and
it is clear how much even this  somewhat  obscure
perception   can   help   the   reason   in   its
investigations. However it is one thing to  admit
the  power  of  the  dispositions  of the will in
helping reason to gain a more  certain  and  firm
knowledge  of  moral  truths; it is quite another
thing   to   say,   as   these   innovators   do,
indiscriminately  mingling  cognition  and act of
will, that the appetitive and affective faculties
have  a  certain power of understanding, and that
man, since he cannot by using his  reason  decide
with   certainty  what  is  true  and  is  to  be
accepted, turns to his will, by which  he  freely
chooses among opposite opinions.

34.  It is not surprising that these new opinions
endanger the two philosophical sciences which  by
their  very nature are closely connected with the
doctrine of faith, that is, theodicy and  ethics;
they hold that the function of these two sciences
is not to prove with certitude anything about God
or  any other transcendental being, but rather to
show that the truths which faith teaches about  a
personal   God   and   about  His  precepts,  are
perfectly consistent with the necessities of life
and are therefore to be accepted by all, in order
to avoid despair and to attain eternal salvation.
All  these  opinions  and affirmations are openly
contrary to the documents of Our Predecessors Leo
XIII  and  Pius  X, and cannot be reconciled with
the decrees of  the  Vatican  Council.  It  would
indeed    be   unnecessary   to   deplore   these
aberrations from the truth, if all, even  in  the
field  of  philosophy,  directed  their attention
with  the  proper  reverence  to   the   Teaching
Authority   of   the   Church,  which  by  divine
institution has the mission not only to guard and
interpret the deposit of divinely revealed truth,
but also to keep  watch  over  the  philosophical
sciences   themselves,  in  order  that  Catholic
dogmas may suffer no harm  because  of  erroneous

35.  It  remains  for Us now to speak about those
questions which, although  they  pertain  to  the
positive  sciences, are nevertheless more or less
connected with the truths of the Christian faith.
In  fact,  not  a few insistently demand that the
Catholic  religion  takes  these  sciences   into
account as much as possible. This certainly would
be praiseworthy in the  case  of  clearly  proved
facts;  but  caution  must  be used when there is
rather question of hypotheses, having  some  sort
of  scientific  foundation, in which the doctrine
contained in Sacred Scripture or in Tradition  is
involved.   If   such  conjectural  opinions  are
directly or indirectly opposed  to  the  doctrine
revealed  by  God,  then  the demand that they be
recognized can in no way be admitted.

36. For these reasons the Teaching  Authority  of
the  Church  does  not forbid that, in conformity
with the present  state  of  human  sciences  and
sacred theology, research and discussions, on the
part of men  experienced  in  both  fields,  take
place  with  regard to the doctrine of evolution,
in as far as it inquires into the origin  of  the
human body as coming from pre-existent and living
matter -- for the Catholic faith  obliges  us  to
hold  that  souls are immediately created by God.
However this must be done in such a way that  the
reasons   for   both  opinions,  that  is,  those
favorable and those unfavorable to evolution,  be
weighed    and    judged   with   the   necessary
seriousness, moderation and measure, and provided
that  all  are prepared to submit to the judgment
of the Church,  to  whom  Christ  has  given  the
mission  of interpreting authentically the Sacred
Scriptures  and  of  defending  the   dogmas   of
faithful[11]  Some however rashly transgress this
liberty of discussion, when they act  as  if  the
origin  of  the  human  body from preexisting and
living matter were already completely certain and
proved by the facts which have been discovered up
to now and by reasoning on those facts, and as if
there  were  nothing  in  the  sources  of divine
revelation which demands the greatest  moderation
and caution in this question.

37.  When,  however, there is question of another
conjectural  opinion,  namely   polygenism,   the
children  of  the  Church  by no means enjoy such
liberty. For the  faithful  cannot  embrace  that
opinion  which  maintains  either that after Adam
there existed on this earth true men who did  not
take their origin through natural generation from
him as from the first parent of all or that  Adam
represents a certain number of first parents. Now
it is in no way apparent how such an opinion  can
be  reconciled  with  that  which  the sources of
revealed truth and the documents of the  Teaching
Authority  of  the  Church propose with regard to
original sin, which proceeds from a sin  actually
committed by an individual Adam and which through
generation is passed on to all and is in everyone
as his own.[12]

38. Just as in the biological and anthropological
sciences, so  also  in  the  historical  sciences
there  are those who boldly transgress the limits
and safeguards established by the  Church.  In  a
particular  way  must  be  deplored a certain too
free interpretation of the  historical  books  of
the  Old  Testament. Those who favor this system,
in order to defend their cause, wrongly refer  to
the  Letter  which  was  sent not long ago to the
Archbishop of Paris by the Pontifical  Commission
on  Biblical  Studies.[13]  This Letter, in fact,
clearly points out that the first eleven chapters
of   Genesis,   although  properly  speaking  not
conforming to the historical method used  by  the
best  Greek  and  Latin  writers  or by competent
authors of our time, do nevertheless  pertain  to
history  in  a  true sense, which however must be
further studied and determined by  exegetes;  the
same chapters, (the Letter points out), in simple
and  metaphorical   language   adapted   to   the
mentality  of  a people but little cultured, both
state the principal truths which are  fundamental
for  our  salvation,  and  also  give  a  popular
description of the origin of the human  race  and
the  chosen  people.  If,  however,  the  ancient
sacred writers have taken anything  from  popular
narrations  (and  this  may be conceded), it must
never be forgotten that they did so with the help
of  divine  inspiration,  through which they were
rendered immune from any error in  selecting  and
evaluating those documents.

39. Therefore, whatever of the popular narrations
have been inserted  into  the  Sacred  Scriptures
must  in no way be considered on a par with myths
or other such things, which are more the  product
of   an  extravagant  imagination  than  of  that
striving for truth and simplicity  which  in  the
Sacred  Books,  also  of the Old Testament, is so
apparent that our ancient sacred writers must  be
admitted  to  be  clearly superior to the ancient
profane writers.

40. Truly, we are  aware  that  the  majority  of
Catholic  doctors,  the fruit of whose studies is
being gathered in universities, in seminaries and
in  the  colleges  of  religious, are far removed
from those errors which today, whether through  a
desire of novelty or through a certain immoderate
zeal for the apostolate, are being spread  either
openly  or  covertly.  But we know also that such
new  opinions  can  entice  the  incautious;  and
therefore   we   prefer  to  withstand  the  very
beginnings rather than to administer the medicine
after the disease has grown inveterate.

41.  For this reason, after mature reflection and
consideration before God,  that  We  may  not  be
wanting in Our sacred duty, We charge the Bishops
and the Superiors General  of  Religious  Orders,
binding  them  most  seriously  in conscience, to
take most diligent care that such opinions be not
advanced   in   schools,  in  conferences  or  in
writings of any kind, and that they be not taught
in  any  manner  whatsoever  to the clergy or the

42.   Let   the   teachers   in    ecclesiastical
institutions  be  aware  that  they  cannot  with
tranquil  conscience  exercise  the   office   of
teaching   entrusted   to  them,  unless  in  the
instruction of their  students  they  religiously
accept  and  exactly  observe  the norms which We
have ordained. That due reverence and  submission
which  in their unceasing labor they must profess
towards the Teaching Authority of the Church, let
them  instill  also  into the minds and hearts of
their students.

43. Let them strive with every force  and  effort
to  further  the  progress  of the sciences which
they teach; but let them also be careful  not  to
transgress  the  limits which We have established
for the protection of the truth of Catholic faith
and doctrine. With regard to new questions, which
modern culture and progress have brought  to  the
foreground,  let  them  engage  in  most  careful
research, but with  the  necessary  prudence  and
caution;  finally,  let them not think, indulging
in a false  "irenism,"  that  the  dissident  and
erring  can  happily be brought back to the bosom
of the Church, if the whole truth  found  in  the
Church  is  not  sincerely  taught to all without
corruption or diminution.

44. Relying on this hope, which will be increased
by  your  pastoral care, as a pledge of celestial
gifts and a sign of Our paternal benevolence,  We
impart with all Our heart to each and all of you,
Venerable Brethren, and to your clergy and people
the Apostolic Benediction.

45.  Given  at  Rome,  at St. Peter's, August 12,
1950, the twelfth year of Our Pontificate.

ENDNOTES * 1. Conc. Varic. D.B., 1876, Cont. De Fide cath., cap. 2, De revelatione. * 2. C.l.C., can. 1324; cfr. Conc. Vat., D.B., 1820, Cont. De Fide cath., cap. 4, De Fide et ratione, post canones. * 3. Luke, X, 16. * 4. Pius IX, Inter gravissimas, 28 oct., 1870, Acta, vol. 1, p. 260. * 5. Cfr. Conc. Vat., Const. De Fide cath., cap. 1, De Deo rerum omnium creatore. * 6. Cfr. Litt. Enc. Mystici Corporis Christi, A.A.S., vol. XXXV, p. 193 sq. * 7. Cfr. Conc. Vat., D.B., 1796. * 8. C.l.C. can. 1366, 2. * 9. A.A.S., vol. XXXVIII, 1946, p. 387. * 10. Cfr. S. Thom., Summa Theol., II-II, quaest. 1, art. 4 ad 3 et quaest. 45, art. 2, in c. * 11. Cfr. Allocut Pont. to the members of the Academy of Science, November 30, 1941: A.A.S., Vol. XXXIII, p. 506. * 12. Cfr. Rom., V, 12-19, Conc. Trid., sess, V, can. 1-4. * 13. January 16, 1948: A.A.S., vol. XL, pp. 45-48.
Freemasonry must die, or liberty must die." -- Charles G. Finney


"Those who sin are slaves, and slaves have no rights." -- Jesus Christ, John 8:34

"Qabalah is the heart of the Western Hermetic tradition; it is the foundation upon which the art of Western magic rests." -- Sandra and Chic Cicero, the authors of "The Essencial Golden Dawn: An Introduction to High Magic", page 96. Llewlellyn Publications "For by thy sorceries were all nations decieved." Rev. 18:23
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