Newsletter of the District
the Popes spoke infallibly…
Father Daniel Couture
There is often much talk on papal infallibility: the different
degrees, the conditions, etc. Rarely though, a clear text is given
as example. Here is one from Pope Pius IX, of December 8th
, 1864. It is taken from his encyclical Quanta Cura which
was accompanied by the Syllabus of Errors, a solemn condemnation
of 80 modern errors.
so great a perversity of depraved opinions, We, remembering
Our Apostolic duty, and solicitous before all things for Our
most holy Religion, for sound doctrine, for the salvation
of the souls confided to Us, and for the welfare of human
Society itself, have considered the moment opportune to raise
anew Our Apostolic voice. Therefore do We, by our Apostolic
authority, reprobate denounce and condemn, in general and
in particular all the evil opinions and doctrines specially
mentioned in this Letter, and We will and We command that
they may be held as reprobated, denounced, and condemned by
all the children of the Catholic Church…”
The violence of such a condemnation may appear to some really astonishing.
But a closer look at this passage reveals the fulfillment of the
four conditions of infallibility. These are:
1 – That the Pope speaks as Supreme Pastor of the Universal Church,
engaging his full Apostolic Authority. He does it here:
by our Apostolic authority…”
the salvation of souls confided to Us”.
Thus, he clearly refers to the mission entrusted to Peter and his
successors by Our Blessed Lord.
2 – In matters
of faith and/or morals. It is obvious again:
before all things for Our most holy Religion, for sound doctrine,
for the salvation of souls…”
3 – That the Pope must clarify, condemn or define, that is
that he must say something clear, not optional, not hypothetical.
The least we can say here is that the Pope didn’t beat around the
bush, but called a spade a spade!
by our Apostolic authority, reprobate denounce and condemn,
in general and in particular all the evil opinions and doctrines
specially mentioned in this Letter, and We will and We command
4 – That the Pope expect and demand obedience, that he requests
the submission of the faith from all faithful.
will and We command that they may be held as reprobated, denounced,
and condemned by all the children of the Catholic Church…”
So, in this text, we find the four conditions of the most solemn
papal infallibility clearly fulfilled. Thus our position is crystal
clear. It is no longer up to any Catholic to decide which position
take in the actual crisis. The Holy Father commanded: “…We
will and We command…by all the children of the Catholic Church.”
He did not say ‘by those of the XIXth Century. He said “by all”,
of all times and places.
A Catholic cannot be unfaithful to an infallible papal order. There,
in this text, lies one of the most important foundation of our position.
Pius IX proscribed the errors “specially mentioned in this Letter”.
In order to make it easier and clearer, he himself composed the
famous Syllabus (a Greek word meaning a summary) of the main
errors of our modern times. He gives eighty of them. Here are
just a few, perhaps the ones concerning us the most today. It must
be remembered that the sentences condemned are errors, therefore,
each time, it is understood “It is false to say that…” It
is a little bit more complicated but much more precise theologically.
A – Error on the nature of Revolution
“No. 5. Divine Revelation is imperfect, and therefore subject
to a continual and indefinite progress, corresponding with the advancement
of human reason”.
The Pope aims here at those who pretend that the Church must continually
adapt itself to a changing world, that she needs to change with
the world. This opinion is condemned because, contrary to all other
societies, “the Church has been built by Jesus Christ and His
Apostles, and is continually taught by the Holy Ghost who continually
reminds her of all truth” (Pope Gregory XVI, Mirari vos,
1832). Consequently, it would be totally absurd and mostly injurious
for the Church to put forward a restoration as necessary. What
would happen then, is that the Church, which is God-made, would
become all human.
B – Error of indifferentism (religious
“No. 15. Every man is free to embrace and profess that
religion which, guided by the light of reason, he shall consider
“No. 16. Man may, in the observance of any religion whatever,
find the way of eternal salvation, and arrive at eternal salvation.
“No. 17. Good hope at least is to be entertained of the
eternal salvation of all those who are not at all in the true Church
“No. 18. Protestantism is nothing more than another form
of the same true Christian religion, in which form it is given to
please God equally as in the Catholic Church”.
In other words, the Pope is saying that outside the Catholic Church,
there is no salvation. To enter heaven, one must have sanctifying
grace. Now, this grace comes from Our Lord, “full of grace and
of truth”, and passes necessarily and solely through the Church
founded by Him. No other religion can give sanctifying grace.
If an individual, member of a false religion, dies in a
state of grace, by a merciful disposition of God, he will not have
been saved by his religion but in spite of it. He unknowingly belonged
to the soul of the Church.
Now, compare this infallible teaching to the following texts of
Vatican II: “The Vatican Council declares that the human person
has a right to religious freedom. Freedom of this kind means that
… nobody is forced to act against his convictions nor is anyone
to be restrained from acting in accordance with his convictions
in religious matters in private or in public, alone or in association
with others”. (Decree on religious freedom: Dignitatis
“Let Christians, while witnessing to their own faith and way
of life, acknowledge, preserve and encourage the spiritual and moral
truths found among the non-Christians, also their social life and
culture”. (Decree on Non Christian Religions: Nosta Aetate,
“It follows that the separated Churches and communities as
such, though we believe they suffer from the defects already mentioned,
have been by no means deprived of significance and importance in
the mystery of salvation. For the Spirit of Christ has not refrained
from using them as means of salvation which derive their efficacy
from the very fullness of grace and truth entrusted to the Catholic
Church”. (Decree on Ecumenism: Unitatis Redintegratio,
– Error in natural and Christian ethics
“No. 59. Right consists in the material fact. All human
duties are an empty word, and all human facts have the force of
We are told today that morality must evolve with time. The rights
of people flow from what they do. Popular referenda dictates what
is right or wrong. The proposition condemned here means that it
is false to say that from the moment something is done, it becomes
– Errors having reference to modern liberalism
(Ecumenism, State Atheism)
“No. 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.”
In the name of Vatican II modern Rome has unfortunately demanded
Catholic Countries to modify their constitution, which professed
the Catholic Religion to be the official State Religion. It is
called the doctrine of separation of Church and State. It has always
been condemned by the Popes in the past. But since the Council,
it took place in 1973 in Columbia, 1974 in the canton of Valais
in Switzerland, in 1975 in Portugal, in 1976 in Spain, in 1980 in
Peru, in 1984 in Italy.
“No. 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.”
This has been enlarged today to anyone living in the country.
Worse still, when it is the Catholic hierarchy who issue such law!
In Germany, for instance, the Bishops have asked parish priests
all over the country to let the Muslims use their parish hall for
their heretical worship!
“No. 79. Moreover, it is false that the civil liberty of every
form of worship, and the full power, given to all, of overtly and
publicly manifesting any opinions whatsoever and thoughts, conduce
more easily to corrupt the morals and minds of the people, and to
propagate the pest indifferentism.”
In other words the pope is saying that it is true that religious
freedom corrupts morals and leads people to believe that all religions
are good, not one better than the other (that is the “pest of
Now the II Vatican Council professes clearly the opposite, i.e.
that society will indeed benefit from an absolute religious freedom:
“The common good of society consists in the sum total of those conditions
of social life which enable men to achieve a fuller measure of perfection
with greater ease. It consists especially in safeguarding the
rights and duties of the human person. For this reason the protection
of the right to religious freedom is the common responsibilty of
individual citizens, social groups, civil authorities, the Church
and other religious communities. Each of these has its own special
responsibility in the matter according to its particular duty to
promote the common good.
The protection and promotion of the inviolable rights of man is
an essential duty of every civil authority. The civil authority
therefore must undertake to safeguard the religious freedom of all
the citizens in an effective manner by the legislation and other
appropriate means. It must help to create conditions favorable
to the fostering of religious life so that the citizens will be
really in the position to exercise their religious rights may enjoy
the benefits of justice and peace, which result from man’s faithfulness
to God and His holy will. (Dignitatis Humanae, N.6)
Finally, the very last proposition of the Syllabus
summarizes perfectly the whole list of condemnations.
“No. 80. The Roman Pontiff can, and ought to, reconcile himself,
and come to terms with progress, liberalism and modern civilization.”
In his book “The Principles of Catholic Theology”, Cardinal
Ratzinger called the Degree Gaudium et Spes, on the
Church in the modern world, an “anti-syllabus”, because that
decree teaches what the Syllabus condemns here in
its last proposition. G.K. Chesterton summarised it all when he
wrote: “When the world and Christianity comes to terms, it will
be the end of Christianity.”
To conclude: we are not free to choose between an infallible
teaching and a pastoral one when they are in contradiction. Or
else, Our Blessed Lady may not be the Immaculate Conception, and
the Mass may as well be offered by a layman.
No! An infallible document is irreformable, it cannot be altered
in any way or form, at any time. Quanta Cura and
the Syllabus are clearly infallible. And since Vatican
II “did not define any dogma and wanted deliberately to express
itself on a more modest level, merely as a pastoral Council”
(Ratzinger, 30 Days, Sept. 1988), one can’t be blamed for
refusing to accept its teaching when it contradicts previous infallible