Pius X: "Synthesis of all errors," "Sum of all heresies," or "Synthesis of all heresies"?

I’ve come across several sites which attribute “sum of all heresies” to Pope Pius X in his condemnation of Modernism. Many of these sites are oriented towards traditional Catholicism.

Other sites, however, including the Vatican site on Pius X’s encyclical on the Modernists, read “synthesis of all errors.”

It would seem that “synthesis of all errors” is the correct rendering (it is the official Vatican translation), but how come then is “sum of all heresies” to be found on so many well-respected pages, many of them run by traditional Catholics?

Do a google or yahoo search for “sum of all heresies” Modernism] and you will see what I mean.

I’ve also come across quite a few sites that have “synthesis of all heresies.”

So is only one phrase right, and does that mean the others are inaccurate translations?

Any thoughts?

Correction to last post: “synthesis of all heresies” not “synthesis of all errors,” seems to be the correct rendering.

“Synthesis of all heresies” is what is found at vatican.va.

Right after he uses that phrase, he says:

“Undoubtedly, were anyone to attempt the task of collecting together all the errors that have been broached against the faith and to concentrate into one the sap and substance of them all, he could not succeed in doing so better than the Modernists have done.”

The part I highlighted seems to fit best with “synthesis.” Honestly though, in the context, it seems to me “sum” and “synthesis” give the same meaning.

That is correct. The difference in Sum and Synthesis are subtle, yet in this vein they could be exchanged without damage to the encyclical.
Synthesis would be more of a combining of all heresies such that they create a pinnacle heresy called Modernism.
Think of it in chemistry where a molecule of Hydrogen combines with an atom of Oxygen and voila! a pinnacle molecule of water.
Now add some oil to it and you have a Sum of molecules that produce nothing but oily water. They summed or stacked but never combined or synthesized into a new pinnacle substance.
So Modernism as he sees it is a combining ie Synthesis of all the old heresies such that they produce a pinnacle heresy that has the destructive value of all of them individually ie the Sum of their destructive value.

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Sum can be seen as another way to denote synthesis. We combine to get a sum.

synthesis /syn·the·sis/ (-the-sis)

  1. the creation of an integrated whole by the combining of simpler parts or entities.

Etymology of “sum”:

Middle English summe, from Old French, from Latin summa, from feminine of summus, highest. (Etymologically related to “super”, “hyper”, and “over”.)

Etymology of “synthesis”:

Latin, collection, from Greek sunthesis, from suntithenai, to put together : sun-, syn- + tithenai, to put. (Tithenai is derived from Indo-European dhee, from which come words such as deed, doom, fashion, defeat, feckless, sacrifice, satisfy, and face.)

rather than look for opinions regarding modernism from a lot of us lay people, might it be suggested that you go the the provervial “horse’s mouth” for answers to your quiries. on any search engine type in vatican. their site, available in several languages, has a search engine of its own which usually leads to relevant documents. have a good year. (alih):thumbsup:


Thanks for your advice. I did visit the vatican site and type in “synthesis of all heresies,” “sum of all heresies” and other similiar phrases.

I’ve been thinking, and Sum and Synthesis are actually somewhat different. Sum is more quantitative than Synthesis, which is more qualitative. With Sum, you adds things one to the other until the Mass created in the bag resembles a bunch of parts pasted to one another. Think of a recycling bin: you throw in soda cans until they all add up to a full bag. There is no mixture, just simple addition, and you can still easily pull out a can or two. Nothing is mixed.

With Synthesis, there is a genuine mixture. Think of aking Chocolate Chip Cookies. You do add butter, mix, cookies, sugar, etc. but they all mix together to form what eventually becomes chocolate chip cookies. There is no great increase of size, as there might be with Sum.

If Modernism is the Sum of all Heresies, then one can clearly see all the heresies that make it up, and when one does so and counts everything up, it looks immensely heretical.

If Modernism is the Synthesis of all Heresies, then it may not appear as huge and imposing, and one may not be able to discern each individual heresy, but the clear mixture of all heresies can be discerned by its fetid characteristics.

things are actually much easier than not. when searching for answers to various topics, the vatican website is great. try searching for “the syllabus (sp?) of errors.” with this many lights may be turned on in understanding today’s church and the thinking of those behind it. it don’t look good! much of these prohibitions became part and parcel to the canon law of 1917 which was recognized to be in full force and effect until the code of canon law of 1983 was promulgated in 1988. the two philosphies exhibited in these codes seem to be, in many respects, diametrically opposed to each other. have a good year. (alih):thumbsup:

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