What to do With Modernists
From the Pastor: What to do With Modernists
This coming Saturday is the feast day of Pope St. Pius X. At the Holy League, the men and I have been studying (for years!) some of this blessed Saint’s simplest writings. We started out with his basic Catechism. This catechism followed along the lines of the Baltimore Catechism, giving insight into Church teachings through simple questions and clear answers. Many of the answers seem shockingly blunt to today’s ears, for we are almost never exposed, neither in Church nor elsewhere, to truth spoken (or written) with the clarity of conviction and love.
At the Holy League we then moved on to studying this Saint’s 1907 decree, Lamentabili Sane, Syllabus Condemning the Errors of the Modernists. Although the catechism had already opened the men’s eyes to the fact that much of what passes for “Church teaching” today is at least deficient if not outright incorrect, Lamentabili is showing them just how pernicious this erroneous teaching really is and how long it has been among us. (Hint: The year 1907 came slightly before the Second Vatican Council!) This document lists errors currently (then and now) being taught by so-called Scripture scholars, theologians, and other muckety-mucks in the Church.
Today I will give you all a little more from this Saintly Pope from his writing titled, Praestantia Scripturae: On the Bible Against the Modernists. While it is only two pages long, that is still too long to quote entirely here. In the very first line, he cuts to the chase and says that he is issuing “censures and penalties against those who neglect to observe the prescriptions against the errors of the modernists”, lays out his rationale for doing so, and then succinctly explains what happens to those who hold and teach modernist errors as if they are true. It is here that I pick up the following text. Note the clarity of his statements. You will see in these words a loving Father’s concern for the spiritual well-being of his children. He takes seriously his role as Defender of the Faith. St. Pius X, pray for us!
Wherefore we find it necessary to declare and to expressly prescribe, and by this our act we do declare and decree that all are bound in conscience to submit to the decisions of the Biblical Commission relating to doctrine, which have been given in the past and which shall be given in the future, in the same way as to the decrees of the Roman congregations approved by the Pontiff; nor can all those escape the note of disobedience or temerity, and consequently of grave sin, who in speech or writing contradict such decisions, and this besides the scandal they give and the other reasons for which they may be responsible before God for other temerities and errors which generally go with such contradictions.
Moreover, in order to check the daily increasing audacity of many modernists who are endeavoring by all kinds of sophistry and devices to detract from the force and efficacy not only of the decree “Lamentabili sane exitu” (the so-called Syllabus), issued by our order by the Holy Roman and Universal Inquisition on July 3 of the present year, but also of our encyclical letters “Pascendi dominici gregis” given on September 8 of this same year, we do by our apostolic authority repeat and confirm both that decree of the Supreme Sacred Congregation and those encyclical letters of ours, adding the penalty of excommunication against their contradictors, and this we declare and decree that should anybody, which may God forbid, be so rash as to defend any one of the propositions, opinions or teachings condemned in these documents he falls, ipso facto, under the censure contained under the chapter “Docentes” of the constitution “Apostolicae Sedis,” which is the first among the excommunications latae sententiae, simply reserved to the Roman Pontiff. This excommunication is to be understood as salvis poenis, which may be incurred by those who have violated in any way the said documents, as propagators and defenders of heresies, when their propositions, opinions and teachings are heretical, as has happened more than once in the case of the adversaries of both these documents, especially when they advocate the errors of the modernists that is, the synthesis of all heresies.
Wherefore we again and most earnestly exhort the ordinaries of the dioceses and the heads of religious congregations to use the utmost vigilance over teachers, and first of all in the seminaries; and should they find any of them imbued with the errors of the modernists and eager for what is new and noxious, or lacking in docility to the prescriptions of the Apostolic See, in whatsoever way published, let them absolutely forbid the teaching office to such; so, too, let them exclude from sacred orders those young men who give the very faintest reason for doubt that they favor condemned doctrines and pernicious novelties. We exhort them also to take diligent care to put an end to those books and other writings, now growing exceedingly numerous, which contain opinions or tendencies of the kind condemned in the encyclical letters and decree above mentioned; let them see to it that these publications are removed from Catholic publishing houses, and especially from the hands of students and the clergy. By doing this they will at the same time be promoting real and solid education, which should always be a subject of the greatest solicitude for those who exercise sacred authority.
All these things we will and order to be sanctioned and established by our apostolic authority, aught to the contrary notwithstanding.
Given at Rome in Saint Peter’s, the 18th November, 1907, the fifth year of our Pontificate.
Pius PP. X.
With Prayers for your holiness,
Rev. Fr. Edwin Palka
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