ON THE GRAVITY OF THE ERRORS OF THE MODERNISTS
Q. What is one of the primary duties appointed by Christ to the Sovereign Pontiff?
A. His Holiness the Pope replies: ‘One of the primary obligations assigned by Christ to the office divinely committed to Us of feeding the Lord’s flock, is that of guarding with the greatest vigilance the deposit of the faith delivered to the saints, rejecting the profane novelties of words and the gainsaying of knowledge falsely so called.’
Q. Has such vigilance been necessary in every age?
A. ‘There has never been a time when this watchfulness of the Supreme Pastor was not necessary to the Catholic body; for, owing to the efforts of the enemy of the human race, there has never been lacking ” men speaking perverse things,”* “vain talkers and seducers,” * “erring and driving into error.”
Q. Are these men, erring and driving into error, more numerous in our day, and what object have they in view?
A. It must be confessed that these latter days have witnessed a notable increase in the number of the enemies of the Cross of Christ, who, by arts entirely new and full of deceit, are striving to destroy the vital energy of the Church, and, as far as in them lies, utterly to subvert the very Kingdom of Christ.
Q. Why may not the Sovereign Pontiff remain silent?
A. ‘We may no longer keep silence, lest We should seem to fail in Our most sacred duty, and lest the kindness that, in the hope of wiser counsels, We have hitherto shown them, should be set down to lack of diligence in the discharge of Our office.’
Q. Where in these days are the partisans of error are they open enemies?
A. ‘That we should act without delay in this Matter’, continues the Holy Father, ‘is made imperative, especially by the fact that the partisans of error are to be sought, not only among the Church s open enemies, but, what is most to be dreaded and deplored, in her very bosom, and are the more mischievous the less they keep in the open.’
Q. Holy Father, are these secret enemies, who wring your paternal heart, to be found among Catholics, and are there even priests among them?
A. Yes. ‘We allude to many who belong to the Catholic laity, and, what is much more sad, to the ranks of the priesthood itself, who, animated by a false zeal for the Church, lacking the solid safeguards of philosophy and theology, nay, more, thoroughly imbued with the poisonous doctrines taught by the enemies of the Church, and lost to all sense of modesty, put themselves forward as reformers of the Church.’
Q. Do these Catholic laymen and these priests, who pose as reformers of the Church, dare to attack the work and even the person of Jesus Christ?
A. ‘Forming boldly into line of attack, they assail all that is most sacred in the work of Christ, not sparing even the Person of the Divine Redeemer, whom, with
sacrilegious audacity, they degrade to the condition of a simple and ordinary man.’
Q. But will these men be astonished at being accounted by Your Holiness as enemies of Holy Church?
A. ‘Although they express their astonishment that We should number them amongst the enemies of the Church, no one will be reasonably surprised that We
should do so, if, leaving out of account the internal disposition of the soul, of which God alone is the Judge, he considers their tenets, their manner of speech,
and their action. Nor, indeed, would he be wrong in regarding them as the most pernicious of all the adversaries of the Church.’
Q. Why do you say they are the worst enemies of the Church?
A. ‘As We have said, they put into operation their designs for her undoing, not from without but from within. Hence, the danger is present almost in the very veins and heart of the Church, whose injury is the more certain from the very fact that their knowledge of her is more intimate.’
Q. For what other reason are they the worst enemies of the Church?
A. ‘Moreover, they lay the axe not to the branches and shoots, but to the very root, that is, to the faith and its deepest fibres.’
Q. Are they satisfied with cutting at the root of immortal life?
A. ‘Once having struck at this root of immortality, they proceed to diffuse poison through the whole tree, so that there is no part of Catholic truth which they leave untouched, none that they do not strive to corrupt.’
Q. By what means do they pursue their purpose what tactics do they adopt?
A. ‘None is more skillful, none more astute than they, in the employment of a thousand noxious devices; for they play the double part of rationalist and Catholic, and this so craftily that they easily lead the unwary into error.’
Q. But must not the consequences of their doctrine alarm and drive back these Catholics, these priests?
A. ‘As audacity is their chief characteristic, there is no conclusion of any kind from which they shrink, or which they do not thrust forward with pertinacity and assurance.’
Q. What is it that renders them particularly dangerous and gives them greater power to lead minds astray?
A. ‘The fact, which indeed is well calculated to deceive souls, that they lead a life of the greatest activity, of assiduous and ardent application to every branch of learning, and that they possess, as a rule, a reputation for irreproachable morality.’
Q. Is there any hope of remedy?
A. ‘There is the fact, which is all but fatal to the hope of cure, that their very doctrines have given such a bent to their minds, that they disdain all authority
and brook no restraint; and, relying upon a false conscience, they attempt to ascribe to a love of truth that which is in reality the result of pride and obstinacy.’
Q. Holy Father, did you yourself not hope to reclaim these erring ones?
A. ‘Once indeed We had hopes of recalling them to a better mind, and to this end We first of all treated them with kindness as Our children; then with severity; and at last We have had recourse, though with great reluctance, to public reproof. It is known to you how unavailing have been Our efforts. For a moment they have bowed their head, only to lift it more arrogantly than before.’
Q. Since all hope of converting such enemies is lost, why, Holy Father, do you lift up your voice?
A. ‘If it were a matter which concerned them alone, We might perhaps have overlooked it; but the security of the Catholic name is at stake. Wherefore We must interrupt a silence which it would be criminal to prolong.’
Q. Is it, then, time to speak out?
A. ‘Yes, that We may point out to the whole Church, as they really are, men who are badly disguised.
Q. What name, must we give to these new enemies of Christ and of His Church?
A. Modernists as they are commonly and rightly called.
Q. What is the object of the Encyclical?
A. ‘It is one of the cleverest devices of the Modernists to present their doctrines without order and systematic arrangement, in a scattered and dis jointed manner, so as to make it appear as if their minds were in doubt or hesitation, whereas in reality they are quite fixed and steadfast. For this reason it will be of advantage to bring their teachings together here into one group, and to point out their interconnexion, and thus to pass to an examination of the sources of the errors, and to prescribe remedies for averting the evil results.’
Q. How is the Encyclical divided?
A. It is divided into three parts:
Part I. The Errors of the Modernists.
Part II. The Causes of Modernism.
Part III. The Remedies for Modernism.