SYLLABUS OF THE PRINCIPAL ERRORS OF OUR TIME, WHICH ARE
CENSURED IN THE CONSISTORIAL ALLOCUTIONS, ENCYCLICAL AND OTHER APOSTOLIC
LETTERS OF OUR MOST HOLY LORD, POPE PIUS IX
I) PANTHEISM, NATURALISM AND ABSOLUTE RATIONALISM
1) That there exists no Supreme, all-wise, all-provident Divine Being, distinct from
the universe, and God is identical with the nature of things, and is, therefore, subject
to changes. In effect, God is produced in man and in the world, and all things are God and
have the very substance of God, and God is one and the same thing with the world, and,
therefore, spirit with matter, necessity with liberty, good with evil, justice with
2) That all action of God upon man and the world is to be denied.
3) That human reason, without any reference whatsoever to God, is the sole arbiter of
truth and falsehood, and of good and evil; it is law to itself, and suffices, by its
natural force, to secure the welfare of men and of nations.
4) That all the truths of religion proceed from the innate strength of human reason; hence
reason is the ultimate standard by which man can and ought to arrive at the knowledge of
all truths of every kind.
5) That divine revelation is imperfect, and therefore subject to a continual and
indefinite progress, corresponding with the advancement of human reason.
6) That the faith of Christ is in opposition to human reason, and divine revelation not
only is not useful, but is even hurtful to the perfection of man.
7) That the prophecies and miracles set forth and recorded in the Sacred Scriptures are
the fiction of poets, and the mysteries of the Christian faith the result of philosophical
investigations. In the books of the Old and the New Testament there are contained mythical
inventions, and Jesus Christ is Himself a myth.
II) MODERATE RATIONALISM
8) That as human reason is placed on a level with religion itself, so theological must
be treated in the same manner as philosophical sciences.
9) That all the dogmas of the Christian religion are indiscriminately the object of
natural science or philosophy; and human reason, enlightened solely in an historical way,
is able, by its own natural strength and principles, to attain to the true science of even
the most abstruse dogmas; provided only that such dogmas be proposed to reason itself as
10) That as the philosopher is one thing, and philosophy another, so it is the right and
duty of the philosopher to subject himself to the authority which he shall have proved to
be true; but philosophy neither can nor ought to submit to any such authority.
11) That the Church not only ought never to pass judgment on philosophy, but ought to
tolerate the errors of philosophy, leaving it to correct itself.
12) That the decrees of the Apostolic See and of the Roman congregations impede the true
progress of science.
13) That the methods and principles by which the old scholastic doctors cultivated
theology are no longer suitable to the demands of our times and to the progress of the
14) That philosophy is to be treated without taking any account of super-natural
III) INDIFFERENTISM. LATITUDINARIANISM
15) That every man is free to embrace and profess that religion which, guided by the
light of reason, he shall consider true.
16) That man may, in the observance of any religion whatever, find the way of eternal
salvation, and arrive at eternal salvation.
17) That good hope at least is to be entertained of the eternal salvation of all those who
are not at all in the true Church of Christ.
18) That protestantism is nothing more than another form of the same true Christian
religion, in which form it is given to please God equally as in the Catholic Church.
IV) SOCIALISM, COMMUNISM, SECRET SOCIETIES, BIBLE SOCIETIES, CLERICO-LIBERAL
....Pests of this description are frequently rebuked in the severest terms in [many
previous papal encyclicals]
V) ERRORS CONCERNING THE CHURCH AND HER RIGHTS
That the Roman Pontiffs and Oecumenical Councils have exceeded the limits of their
powers, have usurped the rights of princes, and have even committed errors in defining
matters of faith and morals.
That the ecclesiastical power must not exercise its authority without the permission
and assent of the civil government.
That the Church has not the power of availing herself of force, or of any direct or
indirect temporal power....
That ecclesiastical jurisdiction for the temporal causes--whether civil or criminal--of
the clergy, ought by all means to be abolished.
That National Churches can be established, after being withdrawn and separated from the
authority of the Holy Pontiff.
That many Pontiffs have, by their arbitrary conduct, contributed to the division of the
Church into Eastern and Western.
That there would be no obstacle to the sentence of a general council or the act of all the
peoples, transferring the pontifical sovereignty from the Bishop and City of Rome to some
other bishopric and city.
VI) ERRORS ABOUT CIVIL SOCIETY, CONSIDERED BOTH IN ITSELF AND IN ITS RELATION TO
39) That the State, as being the origin and source of all rights, is endowed with a
certain right not circumscribed by any limits.
40) That the teaching of the Catholic Church is hostile to the well-being and interests of
41) That the civil government, even when in the hands of an infidel sovereign, has a right
to an indirect negative power over religious affairs....
42) That in the case of conflicting laws enacted by the two powers, the civil law
43) That the secular power has authority to rescind, declare and render null, solemn
conventions, commonly called concordats, entered into with the Apostolic See, regarding
the use of rights appertaining to ecclesiastical immunity, without the consent of the
Apostolic See, and even in spite of its protest.
44) That the civil authority may interfere in matters relating to religion, morality and
spiritual government: hence, it can pass judgment on the instructions issued for the
guidance of consciences, conformably with their mission, by the pastors of the Church.
Further, it has the right to make enactments regarding the administration of the divine
sacraments, and the dispositions necessary for receiving them.
45) That the entire government of public schools in which the youth of a Christian state
is educated, except (to a certain extent) in the case of episcopal seminaries, may and
ought to appertain to the civil power, and belong to it so far that no other authority
shall be recognized as having any right to interfere in the discipline of the schools, the
arrangement of the studies, the conferring of degrees, in the choice or approval of the
46) That moreover, even in ecclesiastical seminaries, the methods of studies to be adopted
is subject to the civil authority.
47) That the best theory of civil society requires that popular schools open to children
of every class of the people, and, generally, all public institutes intended for
instruction in letters and philosophical sciences and for carrying on the education of
youth, should be freed from all ecclesiastical authority, control and interference, and
should be fully subjected to the civil and political power at the pleasure of the rulers,
and according to the standard of the prevalent opinions of the age.
48) That Catholics may approve of the system of educating youth unconnected with Catholic
faith and the power of the Church, and which regards the knowledge of merely natural
things, and only, or at least primarily, the ends of earthly social life.
49) That the civil power may prevent the prelates of the Church and the faithful from
communicating freely and mutually with the Roman Pontiff.
50) That lay authority possess of itself the right of presenting bishops, and may require
of them to undertake the administration of the diocese before they receive canonical
institution, and Letters Apostolic from the Holy See.
51) And further [that] the lay government has the right of deposing bishops from their
pastoral functions, and is not bound to obey the Roman pontiff in those things which
relate to the institution of bishoprics and the appointment of bishops.
52) That government can, by its own right, alter the age prescribed by the Church for the
religious profession of women and men; and may require of all religious orders to admit no
person to take solemn vows without its permission.
53) That the laws enacted for the protection of religious orders and regarding their
rights and duties ought to be abolished; nay, more [that] civil Government may lend its
assistance to all who desire to renounce the obligation which they have undertaken of a
religious life, and to break their vows. That Government may also suppress the said
religious orders, as likewise collegiate churches and simple benefices, even those of
advowson, and subject their property and revenues to the administration and pleasure of
the civil power.
54) That kings and princes are not only exempt from the jurisdiction of the Church, but
are superior to the Church in deciding questions of jurisdiction.
55) That the Church ought to be separated from the State, and the State from the Church.
VII) ERRORS CONCERNING NATURAL AND CHRISTIAN ETHICS
56) That moral laws do not stand in need of divine sanction, and [that] it is not at
all necessary that human laws should be made conformable to the laws of nature, and
receive their power of binding from God.
57) That the science of philosophical things and morals and also civil laws may and ought
to be kept aloof from divine and ecclesiastical authority.
58) That no other forces are to be recognized except those which reside in matter, and
[that] all the rectitude and excellence of morality ought to be placed in the accumulation
and increase of riches by every possible means, and the gratification of pleasure.
59) That right consists in the materials fact. [That] all human duties are an empty word,
and all human facts have the force of right.
60) That authority is nothing else but numbers and the sum total of material forces.
61) That the injustice of an act when successful inflicts no injury on the sanctity of
62) That the principle of non-intervention, as it is called, ought to be proclaimed and
63) That it is lawful to refuse obedience to legitimate princes, and even to rebel against
64) That the violation of any solemn oath, as well as any wicked and flagitious action
repugnant to the eternal law, is not only not blamable but is altogether lawful and worthy
of the highest praise when done through love of country.
VIII) ERRORS CONCERNING CHRISTIAN MARRIAGE
67) That by the law of nature the marriage tie is not indissoluble, and [that] in many
cases, divorce, properly so called, may be pronounced by the civil authority.
73) That a merely civil contract may, among Christians, constitute a true marriage, and
[that] it is false either that the marriage contract between Christians is always a
sacrament, or that the contract is null if the sacrament is excluded.
IX) ERRORS REGARDING THE CIVIL POWER OF THE SOVEREIGN PONTIFF
76) That 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.
X) ERRORS HAVING REFERENCE TO MODERN LIBERALISM
77) That in the present day it is no longer expedient that the Catholic religion should
be held as the only religion of the State, to the exclusion of all other forms of worship.
78) That hence it has been wisely decided by law, in some Catholic countries, that persons
coming to reside therein shall enjoy the public exercise of their own peculiar worship.
79) That moreover, it is false that the civil liberty of every form of worship, and the
full power, given to all, of overtly and publicly manifesting any opinions whatsoever and
thoughts, conduce more easily to corrupt the morals and minds of the people, and to
propagate the pest of indifferentism.
80) That the Roman Pontiff can, and ought to, reconcile himself, and come to terms with
progress, liberalism, and modern civilization.
1. Compiled from the following sources: a) J. H. Hexter, The
Traditions of the Western World (Chicago, 1967), pp. 723-727; b) Brooklyn College
History 2.1 Sourcebook, pp. 222-223; c) Henry Bettenson (ed.), Documents of the
Christian Church (London and New York, 1963), pp. 272-273.
2. Paraphrased from J. H. Hexter, The Traditions of the Western
World, p. 723.