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The Papal Syllabus of Errors. A.D. 1864.
Creeds of Christendom (from the Chair of Peter) ^ | 1864 | Pope Pius IX

Posted on 12/29/2009 11:32:54 AM PST by HarleyD

The Syllabus of the principal errors of our time, which are stigmatized in the Consistorial Allocutions, Encyclicals, and other Apostolical Letters of our Most Holy Lord, Pope Pius IX.


1. There exists no supreme, most wise, and most provident divine being distinct from the universe, and God is none other than nature, and is therefore subject to change. In effect, God is produced in man and in the world, and all things are God, and have the very substance of God. God is therefore one and the same thing with the world, and thence spirit is the same thing with matter, necessity with liberty, true with false, good with evil, justice with injustice.

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

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

4. All the truths of religion are derived from the native strength of human reason; whence reason is the master rule by which man can and ought to arrive at the knowledge of all truths of every kind.

5. Divine revelation is imperfect, and, therefore, subject to a continual and indefinite progress, which corresponds with the progress of human reason.

6. Christian faith contradicts human reason, and divine revelation not only does not benefit, but even injures the perfection of man.

7. The prophecies and miracles set forth and narrated in the Sacred Scriptures are the fictions of poets; and the mysteries of the Christian faith are the result of philosophical investigations. In the books of both Testaments there are contained mythical inventions, and Jesus Christ is himself a mythical fiction.


8. As human reason is placed on a level with religion, so theological matters must be treated in the same manner as philosophical ones.

9. All the dogmas of the Christian religion are, without exception, the object of scientific knowledge or philosophy, and human reason, instructed solely by history, is able, by its own natural strength and principles, to arrive at the true knowledge of even the most abstruse dogmas: provided such dogmas be proposed as subject-matter for human reason.

10. As the philosopher is one thing, and philosophy is another, so it is the right and duty of the philosopher to submit to the authority which he shall have recognized as true; but philosophy neither can nor ought to submit to any authority.

11. The Church not only ought never to animadvert upon philosophy, but ought to tolerate the errors of philosophy, leaving to philosophy the care of their correction.

12. The decrees of the Apostolic See and of the Roman Congregations fetter the free progress of science.

13. The method and principles by which the old scholastic doctors cultivated theology are no longer suitable to the demands of the age and the progress of science.

14. Philosophy must be treated of without any account being taken of supernatural revelation.


15. Every man is free to embrace and profess the religion he shall believe true, guided by the light of reason.

16. Men may in any religion find the way of eternal salvation, and obtain eternal salvation.

17. We may entertain at least a well-founded hope for the eternal salvation of all those who are in no manner in the true Church of Christ.

18. Protestantism is nothing more than another form of the same true Christian religion, in which it is possible to be equally pleasing to God as in the Catholic Church.


Pests of this description are frequently rebuked in the severest terms in the Encyc. Qui pluribus, Nov. 9, 1846; Alloc. Quibus quantisque, April 20, 1849; Encyc. Noscitis et Nobiscum, Dec. 8, 1849; Alloc. Singulari quâdam, Dec. 9, 1854; Encyc. Quanto conficiamur mærore, Aug. 10, 1863.


19. The Church is not a true, and perfect, and entirely free society, nor does she enjoy peculiar and perpetual rights conferred upon her by her Divine Founder, but it appertains to the civil power to define what are the rights and limits with which the Church may exercise authority.

20. The ecclesiastical power must not exercise its authority without the permission and assent of the civil government.

21. The Church has not the power of defining dogmatically that the religion of the Catholic Church is the only true religion.

22. The obligation which binds Catholic teachers and authors applies only to those things which are proposed for universal belief as dogmas of the faith, by the infallible judgment of the Church.

23. The Roman Pontiffs and œcumenical Councils have exceeded the limits of their power, have usurped the rights of princes, and have even committed errors in defining matters of faith and morals.

24. The Church has not the power of availing herself of force, or any direct or indirect temporal power.

25. In addition to the authority inherent in the Episcopate, a further and temporal power is granted to it by the civil authority, either expressly or tacitly, which power is on that account also revocable by the civil authority whenever it pleases.

26. The Church has not the innate and legitimate right of acquisition and possession.

27. The ministers of the Church, and the Roman Pontiff, ought to be absolutely excluded from all charge and dominion over temporal affairs.

28. Bishops have not the right of promulgating even their apostolical letters, without the permission of the government.

29. Dispensations granted by the Roman Pontiff must be considered null, unless they have been asked for by the civil government.

30. The immunity of the Church and of ecclesiastical persons derives its origin from civil law.

31. Ecclesiastical courts for temporal causes, of the clergy, whether civil or criminal, ought by all means to be abolished, either without the concurrence and against the protest of the Holy See.

32. The personal immunity exonerating the clergy from military service may be abolished, without violation either of natural right or of equity. Its abolition is called for by civil progress, especially in a community constituted upon principles of liberal government.

33. It does not appertain exclusively to ecclesiastical jurisdiction, by any right, proper and inherent, to direct the teaching of theological subjects.

34. The teaching of those who compare the sovereign Pontiff to a free sovereign acting in the universal Church is a doctrine which prevailed in the middle ages.

35. There would be no obstacle to the sentence of a general council, or the act of all the universal peoples, transferring the pontifical sovereignty from the Bishop and City of Rome to some other bishopric and some other city.

36. The definition of a national council does not admit of any subsequent discussion, and the civil power can regard as settled an affair decided by such national council.

37. National churches can be established, after being withdrawn and plainly separated from the authority of the Roman Pontiff.

38. Roman Pontiffs have, by their too arbitrary conduct, contributed to the division of the Church into eastern and western.


39. The commonwealth is the origin and source of all rights, and possesses rights which are not circumscribed by any limits.

40. The teaching of the Catholic Church is opposed to the well-being and interests of society.

41. The civil power, even when exercised by an unbelieving sovereign, possesses an indirect and negative power over religious affairs. It therefore possesses not only the right called that of exequatur, but that of the (so-called) appellatio ab abusu.

42. In the case of conflicting laws between the two powers, the civil law ought to prevail.

43. The civil power has a right to break, and to declare and render null, the conventions (commonly called Concordats) concluded with the Apostolic See, relative to the use of rights appertaining to the ecclesiastical immunity, without the consent of the Holy See, and even contrary to its protest.

44. The civil authority may interfere in matters relating to religion, morality, and spiritual government. Hence it has control over the instructions for the guidance of consciences issued, conformably with their mission, by the pastors of the Church. Further, it possesses power to decree, in the matter of administering the divine sacraments, as to the dispositions necessary for their reception.

45. The entire direction of public schools, in which the youth of Christian states are educated, except (to a certain extent) in the case of episcopal seminaries, may and must 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 taking of degrees, or the choice and approval of the teachers.

46. Much more, even in clerical seminaries, the method of study to be adopted is subject to the civil authority.

47. The best theory of civil society requires that popular schools open to the children of all classes, and, generally, all public institutes intended for instruction in letters and philosophy, and for conducting the education of the young, should be freed from all ecclesiastical authority, government, and interference, and should be fully subject to the civil and political power, in conformity with the will of rulers and the prevalent opinions of the age.

48. This system of instructing youth, which consists in separating it from the Catholic faith and from the power of the Church, and in teaching exclusively, or at least primarily, the knowledge of natural things and the earthly ends of social life alone, may be approved by Catholics.

49. The civil power has the right to prevent ministers of religion, and the faithful, from communicating freely and mutually with each other, and with the Roman Pontiff.

50. The secular authority possesses, as inherent in itself, the right of presenting bishops, and may require of them that they take possession of their dioceses before having received canonical institution and the apostolic letters from the Holy See.

51. And, further, the secular government has the right of deposing bishops from their pastoral functions, and it is not bound to obey the Roman Pontiff in those things which relate to episcopal sees and the institution of bishops.

52. The government has of itself the right to alter the age prescribed by the Church for the religious profession, both of men and women; and it may enjoin upon all religious establishments to admit no person to take solemn vows without its permission.

53. The laws for the protection of religious establishments, and securing their rights and duties, ought to be abolished: nay, more, the civil government may lend its assistance to all who desire to quit the religious life they have undertaken, and break their vows. The government may also suppress religious orders, collegiate churches, and simple benefices, even those belonging to private patronage, and submit their goods and revenues to the administration and disposal of the civil power.

54. Kings and princes are not only exempt from the jurisdiction of the Church, but are superior to the Church, in litigated questions of jurisdiction.

55. The Church ought to be separated from the State, and the State from the Church.


56. Moral laws do not stand in need of the divine sanction, and there is no necessity that human laws should be conformable to the law of nature, and receive their sanction from God.

57. Knowledge of philosophical things and morals, and also civil laws, may and must depart from divine and ecclesiastical authority.

58. No other forces are to be recognized than those which reside in matter; and all moral teaching and moral excellence ought to be made to consist in the accumulation and increase of riches by every possible means, and in the enjoyment of pleasure.

59. Right consists in the material fact, and all human duties are but vain words, and all human acts have the force of right.

60. Authority is nothing else but the result of numerical superiority and material force.

61. An unjust act, being successful, inflicts no injury upon the sanctity of right.

62. The principle of non-intervention, as it is called, ought to be proclaimed and adhered to.

63. It is allowable to refuse obedience to legitimate princes: nay, more, to rise in insurrection against them.

64. The violation of a solemn oath, even every wicked and flagitious action repugnant to the eternal law, is not only not blamable, but quite lawful, and worthy of the highest praise, when done for the love of country.


65. It can not be by any means tolerated, to maintain that Christ has raised marriage to the dignity of a sacrament.

66. The sacrament of marriage is only an adjunct of the contract, and separable from it, and the sacrament itself consists in the nuptial benediction alone.

67. By the law of nature, the marriage tie is not indissoluble, and in many cases divorce, properly so called, may be pronounced by the civil authority.

68. The Church has not the power of laying down what are diriment impediments to marriage. The civil authority does possess such a power, and can do away with existing impediments to marriage.

69. The Church only commenced in later ages to bring in diriment impediments, and then availing herself of a right not her own, but borrowed from the civil power.

70. The canons of the Council of Trent, which pronounce censure of anathema against those who deny to the Church the right of laying down what are diriment impediments, either are not dogmatic, or must be understood as referring only to such borrowed power.

71. The form of solemnizing marriage prescribed by the said Council, under penalty of nullity, does not bind in cases where the civil law has appointed another form, and where it decrees that this new form shall effectuate a valid marriage.

72. Boniface VIII. is the first who declared that the vow of chastity pronounced at ordination annuls nuptials.

73. A merely civil contract may, among Christians, constitute a true marriage; and it is false, either that the marriage contract between Christians is always a sacrament, or that the contract is null if the sacrament be excluded.

74. Matrimonial causes and espousals belong by their very nature to civil jurisdiction.


75. The children of the Christian and Catholic Church are not agreed upon the compatibility of the temporal with the spiritual power.

76. The abolition of the temporal power, of which the Apostolic See is possessed, would contribute in the greatest degree to the liberty and prosperity of the Church.


78. In the present day, it is no longer expedient that the Catholic religion shall be held as the only religion of the State, to the exclusion of all other modes of worship.

78. Whence it has been wisely provided by law, in some countries called Catholic, that persons coming to reside therein shall enjoy the public exercise of their own worship.

79. Moreover, it is false that the civil liberty of every mode of worship, and the full power given to all of overtly and publicly manifesting their opinions and their ideas, of all kinds whatsoever, conduce more easily to corrupt the morals and minds of the people, and to the propagation of the pest of indifferentism.

80. The Roman Pontiff can and ought to reconcile himself to, and agree with, progress, liberalism, and civilization as lately introduced.

TOPICS: Catholic; General Discusssion; History; Mainline Protestant
KEYWORDS: errors; infallibility; pope
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Please note #18.
1 posted on 12/29/2009 11:32:56 AM PST by HarleyD
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To: HarleyD

Looks like I’m darned to heck.

2 posted on 12/29/2009 11:37:26 AM PST by WayneS (Respect the 2nd Amendment; Repeal the 16th)
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To: HarleyD

Thank you.

3 posted on 12/29/2009 11:38:05 AM PST by GiovannaNicoletta
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To: HarleyD

Now I know why I’m not a Catholic. WAY too complicated.

4 posted on 12/29/2009 11:40:37 AM PST by wolfcreek (
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To: HarleyD

What a nice fanatic religion... Especially 16, 17 and 18! The Church hasn’t changed and is still embracing the same errors as always!

Good that I am not nor ever will be a catholic!

5 posted on 12/29/2009 11:47:32 AM PST by Michel12
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To: HarleyD


this is the kidnapper Pius IX you are talking about... A kidnapper beatified by the Church... Par for the course!

6 posted on 12/29/2009 11:49:12 AM PST by Michel12
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To: HarleyD; Dr. Eckleburg

I’m amused with #16.

We know that other Popes have been kissy faced with Mecca, but gee whiz, it goes back a ways!

7 posted on 12/29/2009 11:51:55 AM PST by Gamecock (We always have reasons for doing what we do.)
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To: HarleyD

that’s a list of ERRORS, genius.

8 posted on 12/29/2009 11:55:43 AM PST by Nihil Obstat
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To: Nihil Obstat; Gamecock

I UNDERSTAND they’re a list of errors. However, if 16, 17, and 18 is saying there is NO OTHER WAY then the Catholic Church, then the Church has a problem with Vatican II and other recent statements now don’t they?

9 posted on 12/29/2009 12:02:15 PM PST by HarleyD
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To: HarleyD

Thanks for posting this interesting piece.

Although he was clearly an arch spiritual totalitarian, the Pope displayed an amazingly modern comprehension of a wide range of objections and alternatives to the Catholic world view.

10 posted on 12/29/2009 12:08:01 PM PST by Seizethecarp
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To: Gamecock
The statement is the "error." This is a list of "errors." Number 16, as it reads, is not the view of the Catholic Church, but a proposition the Church condemns. The same situation holds for the rest of the list.
11 posted on 12/29/2009 12:12:25 PM PST by magisterium
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To: HarleyD

It’s a list of errors, so what? We are instructed not to fall for these lines as they are errors. Sad that so many have.

12 posted on 12/29/2009 12:19:47 PM PST by Desdemona (These are the times that try men's souls. - Remember Christmas 1776)
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To: magisterium

Glad to be able to rely on Scripture, instead of someone’s interpretation of what is RIGHT or WRONG.

Scripture Alone.

13 posted on 12/29/2009 12:22:20 PM PST by Salvavida (The restoration of the U.S.A. starts with filling the pews at every Bible-believing church.)
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To: HarleyD; All
I am sure that we 1.5 billion Catholics will get along just fine even if you don't like us!

14 posted on 12/29/2009 12:30:45 PM PST by GinaLolaB
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To: HarleyD
Number 16 says no such thing. It merely calls it an error to suppose that men may be saved through the tenets of religions outside of Catholicism. It says nothing at all about the possibility that a sovereign God can choose to save whom He will.

Number 17 comes a little closer to what you are trying to imply. But, here again, the wording is not as exclusivist as you might suppose. Another way of expressing the same thought is to say something like: "It might be possible (though not so well-founded in any given individual's case as to merely presume) that people in other faiths have some possibility of salvation, if they are in some way connected with Christ's Church." This is what Vatican II says.

Number 18 simply points out that Protestantism is not the system of belief that Jesus personally founded, and therefore is not on an equal footing with the Church He did found. Membership in those bodies, therefore, is not as pleasing to God as is membership in the particular body of belief He did authorize.

This is quite logical, as the roots of Protestantism only go back to the 16th Century. And it makes perfectly good sense from the standpoint of the Catholic Church, which does, in reality, claim to be founded by Christ personally. If such a claim is true, then, of course, one should belong to it and embrace its doctrines. You obviously don't agree with that, but, if the Church does, in fact, believe it can make a solid case for the claim, what else would you expect it to say?

15 posted on 12/29/2009 12:31:23 PM PST by magisterium
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To: Salvavida

A proposition which spawned many of the errors that Pius IX felt compelled to enumerate in this very list!

16 posted on 12/29/2009 12:32:48 PM PST by magisterium
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To: Desdemona

Please note #15-18. If these are indeed errors as established by the Chair of Peter, then statements made by the Pope about Muslims, Protestants, etc. cannot be true. They are in conflict with what the Catholic Church is stating right now.

So the question then becomes has the Catholic Church embraced the errors of #15-18?

17 posted on 12/29/2009 12:35:03 PM PST by HarleyD
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To: GinaLolaB

What a pretty building. Is that the Mormon Tabernacle? ;O)

18 posted on 12/29/2009 12:36:27 PM PST by HarleyD
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To: magisterium
Please explain #15:

15. Every man is free to embrace and profess the religion he shall believe true, guided by the light of reason.

Do you believe Muslims to be saved? How about Hindus? What is the Church's position on Protestants with Vatican II? How about Anglicans?

19 posted on 12/29/2009 12:39:26 PM PST by HarleyD
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To: HarleyD

Excellent. I was just reading about this in Harry Crocker’s excellent book on the history of the Catholic Church. Thanks for posting.

20 posted on 12/29/2009 12:41:06 PM PST by bboop (We don't need no stinkin' VAT)
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