Given by His
Holiness Pope Saint Pius X
July 3, 1907
With truly lamentable
results, our age, casting aside all restraint in its search for the ultimate
causes of things, frequently pursues novelties so ardently that it rejects
the legacy of the human race. Thus it falls into very serious errors, which
are even more serious when they concern sacred authority, the interpretation
of Sacred Scripture, and the principal mysteries of Faith. The fact that
many Catholic writers also go beyond the limits determined by the Fathers
and the Church herself is extremely regrettable. In the name of higher knowledge
and historical research (they say), they are looking for that progress of
dogmas which is, in reality, nothing but the corruption of dogmas.
These errors are being daily spread among the faithful. Lest they captivate
the faithful's minds and corrupt the purity of their faith, His Holiness,
Pius X, by Divine Providence, Pope, has decided that the chief errors should
be noted and condemned by the Office of this Holy Roman and Universal
Therefore, after a very diligent investigation and consultation with the
Reverend Consultors, the Most Eminent and Reverend Lord Cardinals, the General
Inquisitors in matters of faith and morals have judged the following propositions
to be condemned and proscribed. In fact, by this general decree, they are
condemned and proscribed.
1. The ecclesiastical law which prescribes that books concerning the Divine
Scriptures are subject to previous examination does not apply to critical
scholars and students of scientific exegesis of the Old and New Testament.
2. The Church's interpretation of the Sacred Books is by no means to be rejected;
nevertheless, it is subject to the more accurate judgment and correction
of the exegetes.
3. From the ecclesiastical judgments and censures passed against free and
more scientific exegesis, one can conclude that the Faith the Church proposes
contradicts history and that Catholic teaching cannot really be reconciled
with the true origins of the Christian religion.
4. Even by dogmatic definitions the Church's magisterium cannot determine
the genuine sense of the Sacred Scriptures.
5. Since the deposit of Faith contains only revealed truths, the Church has
no right to pass judgment on the assertions of the human sciences.
6. The "Church learning" and the "Church teaching" collaborate in such a
way in defining truths that it only remains for the "Church teaching" to
sanction the opinions of the "Church learning."
7. In proscribing errors, the Church cannot demand any internal assent from
the faithful by which the judgments she issues are to be embraced.
8. They are free from all blame who treat lightly the condemnations passed
by the Sacred Congregation of the Index or by the Roman Congregations.
9. They display excessive simplicity or ignorance who believe that God is
really the author of the Sacred Scriptures.
10. The inspiration of the books of the Old Testament consists in this: The
Israelite writers handed down religious doctrines under a peculiar aspect
which was either little or not at all known to the Gentiles.
11. Divine inspiration does not extend to all of Sacred Scriptures so that
it renders its parts, each and every one, free from every error.
12. If he wishes to apply himself usefully to Biblical studies, the exegete
must first put aside all preconceived opinions about the supernatural origin
of Sacred Scripture and interpret it the same as any other merely human document.
13. The Evangelists themselves, as well as the Christians of the second and
third generation, artificially arranged the evangelical parables. In such
a way they explained the scanty fruit of the preaching of Christ among the
14. In many narrations the Evangelists recorded, not so much things that
are true, as things which, even though false, they judged to be more profitable
for their readers.
15. Until the time the canon was defined and constituted, the Gospels were
increased by additions and corrections. Therefore there remained in them
only a faint and uncertain trace of the doctrine of Christ.
16. The narrations of John are not properly history, but a mystical contemplation
of the Gospel. The discourses contained in his Gospel are theological
meditations, lacking historical truth concerning the mystery of salvation.
17. The fourth Gospel exaggerated miracles not only in order that the
extraordinary might stand out but also in order that it might become more
suitable for showing forth the work and glory of the Word lncarnate.
18. John claims for himself the quality of witness concerning Christ. In
reality, however, he is only a distinguished witness of the Christian life,
or of the life of Christ in the Church at the close of the first century.
19. Heterodox exegetes have expressed the true sense of the Scriptures more
faithfully than Catholic exegetes.
20. Revelation could be nothing else than the consciousness man acquired
of his revelation to God.
21. Revelation, constituting the object of the Catholic faith, was not completed
with the Apostles.
22. The dogmas the Church holds out as revealed are not truths which have
fallen from heaven. They are an interpretation of religious facts which the
human mind has acquired by laborious effort.
23. Opposition may, and actually does, exist between the facts narrated in
Sacred Scripture and the Church's dogmas which rest on them. Thus the critic
may reject as false facts the Church holds as most certain.
24. The exegete who constructs premises from which it follows that dogmas
are historically false or doubtful is not to be reproved as long as he does
not directly deny the dogmas themselves .
25. The assent of faith ultimately rests on a mass of probabilities .
26. The dogmas of the Faith are to be held only according to their practical
sense; that is to say, as preceptive norms of conduct and not as norms of
27. The divinity of Jesus Christ is not proved from the Gospels. It is a
dogma which the Christian conscience has derived from the notion of the Messias.
28. While He was exercising His ministry, Jesus did not speak with the object
of teaching He was the Messias, nor did His miracles tend to prove it.
29. It is permissible to grant that the Christ of history is far inferior
to the Christ Who is the object of faith.
30 In all the evangelical texts the name "Son of God'' is equivalent only
to that of "Messias." It does not in the least way signify that Christ is
the true and natural Son of God.
31. The doctrine concerning Christ taught by Paul, John, and the Councils
of Nicea, Ephesus and Chalcedon is not that which Jesus taught but that which
the Christian conscience conceived concerning Jesus.
32. It is impossible to reconcile the natural sense of the Gospel texts with
the sense taught by our theologians concerning the conscience and the infallible
knowledge of Jesus Christ.
33 Everyone who is not led by preconceived opinions can readily see that
either Jesus professed an error concerning the immediate Messianic coming
or the greater part of His doctrine as contained in the Gospels is destitute
34. The critics can ascribe to Christ a knowledge without limits only on
a hypothesis which cannot be historically conceived and which is repugnant
to the moral sense. That hypothesis is that Christ as man possessed the knowledge
of God and yet was unwilling to communicate the knowledge of a great many
things to His disciples and posterity.
35. Christ did not always possess the consciousness of His Messianic dignity.
36. The Resurrection of the Savior is not properly a fact of the historical
order. It is a fact of merely the supernatural order (neither demonstrated
nor demonstrable) which the Christian conscience gradually derived from other
37. In the beginning, faith in the Resurrection of Christ was not so much
in the fact itself of the Resurrection as in the immortal life of Christ
38. The doctrine of the expiatory death of Christ is Pauline and not evangelical.
39. The opinions concerning the origin of the Sacraments which the Fathers
of Trent held and which certainly influenced their dogmatic canons are very
different from those which now rightly exist among historians who examine
40. The Sacraments have their origin in the fact that the Apostles and their
successors, swayed and moved by circumstances and events, interpreted some
idea and intention of Christ.
41. The Sacraments are intended merely to recall to man's mind the
ever-beneficent presence of the Creator.
42. The Christian community imposed the necessity of Baptism, adopted it
as a necessary rite, and added to it the obligation of the Christian profession.
43. The practice of administering Baptism to infants was a disciplinary
evolution, which became one of the causes why the Sacrament was divided into
two, namely, Baptism and Penance.
44. There is nothing to prove that the rite of the Sacrament of Confirmation
was employed by the Apostles. The formal distinction of the two Sacraments
of Baptism and Confirmation does not pertain to the history of primitive
45. Not everything which Paul narrates concerning the institution of the
Eucharist (I Cor. 11:23-25) is to be taken historically.
46. In the primitive Church the concept of the Christian sinner reconciled
by the authority of the Church did not exist. Only very slowly did the Church
accustom herself to this concept. As a matter of fact, even after Penance
was recognized as an institution of the Church, it was not called a Sacrament
since it would be held as a disgraceful Sacrament.
47. The words of the Lord, "Receive the Holy Spirit; whose sins you shall
forgive, they are forgiven them; and whose sins you shall retain, they are
retained'' (John 20:22-23), in no way refer to the Sacrament of Penance,
in spite of what it pleased the Fathers of Trent to say.
48. In his Epistle (Ch. 5:14-15) James did not intend to promulgate a Sacrament
of Christ but only commend a pious custom. If in this custom he happens to
distinguish a means of grace, it is not in that rigorous manner in which
it was taken by the theologians who laid down the notion and number of the
49. When the Christian supper gradually assumed the nature of a liturgical
action those who customarily presided over the supper acquired the sacerdotal
50. The elders who fulfilled the office of watching over the gatherings of
the faithful were instituted by the Apostles as priests or bishops to provide
for the necessary ordering of the increasing communities and not properly
for the perpetuation of the Apostolic mission and power.
51. It is impossible that Matrimony could have become a Sacrament of the
new law until later in the Church since it was necessary that a full theological
explication of the doctrine of grace and the Sacraments should first take
place before Matrimony should be held as a Sacrament.
52. It was far from the mind of Christ to found a Church as a society which
would continue on earth for a long course of centuries. On the contrary,
in the mind of Christ the kingdom of heaven together with the end of the
world was about to come immediately.
53. The organic constitution of the Church is not immutable. Like human society,
Christian society is subject to a perpetual evolution.
54. Dogmas, Sacraments and hierarchy, both their notion and reality, are
only interpretations and evolutions of the Christian intelligence which have
increased and perfected by an external series of additions the little germ
latent in the Gospel.
55. Simon Peter never even suspected that Christ entrusted the primacy in
the Church to him.
56. The Roman Church became the head of all the churches, not through the
ordinance of Divine Providence, but merely through political conditions.
57. The Church has shown that she is hostile to the progress of the natural
and theological sciences.
58. Truth is no more immutable than man himself, since it evolved with him,
in him, and through him.
59. Christ did not teach a determined body of doctrine applicable to all
times and all men, but rather inaugurated a religious movement adapted or
to be adapted to different times and places.
60. Christian Doctrine was originally Judaic. Through successive evolutions
it became first Pauline, then Joannine, finally Hellenic and universal.
61. It may be said without paradox that there is no chapter of Scripture,
from the first of Genesis to the last of the Apocalypse, which contains a
doctrine absolutely identical with that which the Church teaches on the same
matter. For the same reason, therefore, no chapter of Scripture has the same
sense for the critic and the theologian.
62. The chief articles of the Apostles' Creed did not have the same sense
for the Christians of the first ages as they have for the Christians of our
63. The Church shows that she is incapable of effectively maintaining evangelical
ethics since she obstinately clings to immutable doctrines which cannot be
reconciled with modern progress.
64. Scientific progress demands that the concepts of Christian doctrine
concerning God, creation, revelation, the Person of the Incarnate Word, and
Redemption be re-adjusted.
65. Modern Catholicism can be reconciled with true science only if it is
transformed into a non-dogmatic Christianity; that is to say, into a broad
and liberal Protestantism.
The following Thursday, the fourth day of the same month and year, all these
matters were accurately reported to our Most Holy Lord, Pope Pius X. His
Holiness approved and confirmed the decree of the Most Eminent Fathers and
ordered that each and every one of the above-listed propositions be held
by all as condemned and proscribed.
Attested to by Peter Palombelli, Notary of the Holy Roman and Universal