Tuesday, December 8, 2009

Oath Against Modernism

Pope St. Pius X defined modernism as "the synthesis of all heresies". To combat this all-encompassing heresy from inflicting the Church he, by virtue of his Apostolic Authority, ordered all clergy, teachers of theology and seminarians to take the "Oath Against Modernism". This oath was the litmus test by which Catholic Orthodoxy was measured. The oath was taken from 1910 to 1966. It was abolished one year after Vatican II ended. If you are wondering why this oath was abolished please read it and you might start to understand why.

I ...firmly hold and accept each and every definition of the unerring teaching of the Church, with all she has maintained and declared, but especially those points of doctrine which expressly combat the errors of our times.

In the first place, I profess my belief that God, the beginning and end of all, can be surely known and also proved to exist by the natural light of reason from the things that are made, that is, from the visible works of the creation as a cause from its effects.

Next I recognize and acknowledge the external arguments of revelation, that is, divine facts, especially miracles and prophecies, as the surest sign of the divine origin of the Christian religion, and I hold that these are specially suited to the understanding of every age and of all men, even of our times.

Thirdly, I likewise hold with firm faith that the Church, the guardian and exponent of the revealed Word, was proximately and directly founded by Christ Himself, the true person of history, while He dwelt amongst us, and that she was also built upon Peter, the Prince of the Apostolic Hierarchy, and upon his successors to the end of time.

Fourthly, I sincerely receive the teaching of faith as transmitted in the same sense and meaning right down to us; and, therefore, I wholly reject the heretical notion of the evolution of dogmas, which pass from one sense to another alien to that the Church held from the start; and I likewise condemn every error whereby is substituted for divine deposit, entrusted by Christ to His spouse and by her to be faithfully guarded, a philosophic system or a creation of the human conscience, gradually refined by the striving of men and finally to be perfected hereafter by indefinite progress.

Fifthly, I hold for certain and sincerely profess that faith is not a blind religious sense making its way out of the hidden regions of the subliminal consciousness, morally untinged by the influence of heart and will, but is a true assent of the intellect to truth received from without by hearing, an assent whereby we believe to be true, because of the authority of all true God, whatever by the personal God, our Creator and Lord, has been spoken, testified and revealed. I further, with all due reverence, submit and with my whole might adhere to all the condemnations, declarations and directions contained in the encyclical letter Pascendi and in the decree Lamentabili, particularly regarding what is called the history of dogma.

I also reject the error of those who allege that the faith proposed by the Church may be in conflict with history and that Catholic dogmas in the sense in which they are now understood cannot be harmonized with the more truthful origins of Christianity. Moreover, I condemn and reject the opinion which declares that a Christian man of better culture can assume a dual personality, one as believer and another as historian, thus taking it to be permissible for the historian to hold fast what his faith as a believer contradicts, or to lay down premises from which there follows the falsity or the uncertainty of dogmas, provided only that these are not directly denied.

Likewise I reject that method of estimating and interpreting Holy Write which, setting aside the Church's tradition and the analogy of faith and the rules of the Apostolic See, adopts the rationalists' principles and with equal arbitrariness and rashness considers criticism of the text the only supreme rule. In like manner I reprobate the opinion of those who hold that a teacher of the science of historical theology or the writer on the subject must first put aside the notions previously conceived about the supernatural origin of Catholic tradition or about the divine aid promised for the perpetual preservation of each revealed truth; then that the writings of individual fathers must be interpreted solely by the data of science, without any reference to sacred authority, and with the freedom of judgment wherewith every profane record is usually examined.

Finally and in general, I declare myself to be far removed from the error of the modernists who hold that in Sacred tradition there is nothing inherently divine; or who - far worse still - admit it in a pantheistic sense: thus there would remain only a bare simple fact equal to the ordinary facts of history, viz., that the school started by Christ and His Apostles still finds men to support it by their energy, their shrewdness, their ability. Wherefore most firmly I retain and to my last breath will I retain the faith of the Fathers of the Church concerning the sure endowment of truth, which is, has been and ever will be in the succession of the episcopate from the Apostles (St. Irenaeus IV,C.26); not in such a way that we may hold what seems best and most fitting according to the refinement of each age, but that we never in any different wise understand the absolute and unchangeable truth preached from the beginning by the Apostles (Prasecript, C.28).

All this I promise that I will faithfully, entirely and sincerely keep and inviolably guard, and from this never in teaching or howsoever by word or writing in the least depart. So I promise, so I swear, so help me God, etc.

Pius X, Sept. 1, 1910 Sacrorum Antistitum.

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