I’ve recently been looking up information on separation of church and state, and I came across an interesting article that mentioned some “errors” that the Catholic Church had condemned, which included the separation of church and state and freedom of religion. I looked further and came across this document:
It is the Syllabus of Errors Condemned by Pope Pius IX during Vatican I. As I read through them I was surprised at some of the things I had found. Many of the ideas that the church condemned were ones that most reasonable people in the most civilized countries believed in. Most people, even Catholics, would find many of them objectionable. I had also found statements that are inconsistent with what I’ve heard were Catholic beliefs (or not Catholic beliefs). But I had come to understand that these were stated with papal infallibility. So being the provocative person that I am, I have decided to show them to you all, and my thoughts about what they say about the true Catholic faith.
Remember, these are beliefs that Pius IX condemned, so the opposite of them are the beliefs that are supposed to be considered Truth.
The first ones that jumped out at me were:
“5. Divine revelation is imperfect, and therefore subject to a continual and indefinite progress, corresponding with the advancement of human reason. – Ibid.”
“7. 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.”
These are very fundamentalist ideas. The Catholic Church believes that all of scripture is divinely inspired, and 5 says that the revelation is perfect. This would mean that it is an error to not believe literally in Creationism, and believe that all the stories that are not obviously stories (Psalms, Jesus stories, Proverbs I think) are actually perfect and totally true. Laws such as stoning, murdering and raping enemies, the right to have slaves, etc, are not to be subject to the advancement of human reasoning and are to be followed even if we find them objectionable today. 7 states that all miracles and prophecies are completely true all in the NT and OT. They are not stories, they actually happened.
“24. The Church has not the power of using force, nor has she any temporal power, direct or indirect. – Apostolic Letter “Ad Apostolicae,” Aug. 22, 1851.”
“25. Besides the power inherent in the episcopate, other temporal power has been attributed to it by the civil authority granted either explicitly or tacitly, which on that account is revocable by the civil authority whenever it thinks fit. – Ibid.”
24 declares that the Church has the power of using force. For what purposes it does not say, but it is reasonable to think that it intends to use this force against such beliefs as that are considered condemned in this document, among others. It will be important to remember this for all condemned errors. 25 can only mean that a state, if it had declared itself a Catholic nation or has Catholicism as its official religion, will morally be a good target to use force against in order to bring it back into the fold of Catholicism when condemned error 24 is considered. So if Spain for example revoked Catholicism being its official religion, the Church believes it would be justified in the use of force against it. Isn’t this very similar to the Muslim belief that people who leave the faith should be killed?
“20. The ecclesiastical power ought not to exercise its authority without the permission and assent of the civil government. – Allocution “Meminit unusquisque,” Sept. 30, 1861.”
“42. In the case of conflicting laws enacted by the two powers, the civil law prevails. – Ibid.”
20 makes it obviously clear that the Church considers itself to have power and authority over any civil government without permission. This can be seen as nothing more than an attempt to subvert all governments and establish the Church as the totalitarian ruling force of the world. 42 makes it clear that no matter what a civil law may be, Catholics are obligated to act against it if it conflicts with a Church law. Now we’ll recall Errors 5 and 7 which had stated that divine revelation is perfect, and all laws divinely inspired in the Old and New Testament are to be followed to the letter even if they contradict the civil laws of the residing citizen. Unbelievers are to be killed, raped, put into slavery… if this isn’t totalitarianism, what is? (It is said in the New Testament as well as the old that killing unbelievers and slavery is right and just and God’s will).