...Home Page.
  ...About. ...Library.
  ...Si fuit in re.
  ...Rerum Novarum.

Sapientiae Christianae


Encyclical Letter Sapientiae Christianae

On Christians as Citizens

Pope Leo XIII (r. 20 February 1878 to 20 July 1903 †)

10 January 1890





Christians are born for combat

christiani ad dimicationem nati

every Christian ought to be a valiant soldier of Christ

"As to which should be preferred no one ought to balance for an instant. It is a high crime indeed to withdraw allegiance from God in order to please men, an act of consummate wickedness to break the laws of Jesus Christ, in order to yield obedience to earthly rulers, or, under pretext of keeping the civil law, to ignore the rights of the Church; "we ought to obey God rather than men." [4] This answer, which of old Peter and the other Apostles were used to give the civil authorities who enjoined unrighteous things, we must, in like circumstances, give always and without hesitation. No better citizen is there, whether in time of peace or war, than the Christian who is mindful of his duty; but such a one should be ready to suffer all things, even death itself, rather than abandon the cause of God or of the Church." (Paragraph 7, emphasis added)

"To recoil before an enemy, or to keep silence when from all sides such clamors are raised against truth, is the part of a man either devoid of character or who entertains doubt as to the truth of what he professes to believe. In both cases such mode of behaving is base and is insulting to God, and both are incompatible with the salvation of mankind. This kind of conduct is profitable only to the enemies of the faith, for nothing emboldens the wicked so greatly as the lack of courage on the part of the good. ... Christians are born for combat, whereof the greater the vehemence, the more assured, God aiding, the triumph: Have confidence; I have overcome the world." (from Paragraph 14, emphasis added)

For the enemies of the Church ... are fully conscious that the more faint-hearted those who withstand them become, the more easy will it be to work out their wicked will. Therefore, they who cherish the "prudence of the flesh" and who pretend to be unaware that every Christian ought to be a valiant soldier of Christ; they who would fain obtain the rewards owing to conquerors, while they are leading the lives of cowards, untouched in the fight, are so far from thwarting the onward march of the evil-disposed that, on the contrary, they even help it forward.



    Sapientiae Christianae in the original Latin




To the Patriarchs, Primates, Archbishops, and Bishops of the Catholic world in Grace and Communion with the Apostolic See.

From day to day it becomes more and more evident how needful it is that the principles of Christian wisdom should ever be borne in mind, and that the life, the morals, and the institutions of nations should be wholly conformed to them. For, when these principles have been disregarded, evils so vast have accrued that no right-minded man can face the trials of the time being without grave anxiety or consider the future without alarm. Progress, not inconsiderable indeed, has been made towards securing the well-being of the body and of material things, but the material world, with the possession of wealth, power, and resources, although it may well procure comforts and increase the enjoyment of life, is incapable of satisfying our soul created for higher and more glorious things. To contemplate God, and to tend to Him, is the supreme law of the life of man. For we were created in the divine image and likeness, and are impelled, by our very nature, to the enjoyment of our Creator. But not by bodily motion or effort do we make advance toward God, but through acts of the soul, that is, through knowledge and love. For, indeed, God is the first and supreme truth, and the mind alone feeds on truth. God is perfect holiness and the sovereign good, to which only the will can desire and attain, when virtue is its guide.

2. But what applies to individual men applies equally to society — domestic alike and civil. Nature did not form society in order that man should seek in it his last end, but in order that in it and through it he should find suitable aids whereby to attain to his own perfection. If, then, a political government strives after external advantages only, and the achievement of a cultured and prosperous life; if, in administering public affairs, it is wont to put God aside, and show no solicitude for the upholding of moral law, it deflects woefully from its right course and from the injunctions of nature; nor should it be accounted as a society or a community of men, but only as the deceitful imitation or appearance of a society.

3. As to what We have called the goods of the soul, which consist chiefly in the practice of the true religion and in the unswerving observance of the Christian precepts, We see them daily losing esteem among men, either by reason of forgetfulness or disregard, in such wise that all that is gained for the well-being of the body seems to be lost for that of the soul. A striking proof of the lessening and weakening of the Christian faith is seen in the insults too often done to the Catholic Church, openly and publicly -- insults, indeed, which an age cherishing religion would not have tolerated. For these reasons, an incredible multitude of men is in danger of not achieving salvation; and even nations and empires themselves cannot long remain unharmed, since, when Christian institutions and morality decline, the main foundation of human society goes together with them. Force alone will remain to preserve public tranquillity and order. But force is very feeble when the bulwark of religion has been removed, and, being more apt to beget slavery than obedience, it bears within itself the germs of ever-increasing troubles. The present century has encountered memorable disasters, and it is not certain that some equally terrible are not impending.

The very times in which we live are warning us to seek remedies there where alone they are to be found — namely, by re-establishing in the family circle and throughout the whole range of society the doctrines and practices of the Christian religion. In this lies the sole means of freeing us from the ills now weighing us down, of forestalling the dangers now threatening the world. For the accomplishment of this end, venerable brethren, We must bring to bear all the activity and diligence that lie within Our power. Although we have already, under other circumstances, and whenever occasion required, treated of these matters, We deem it expedient in this letter to define more in detail the duties of the Catholics, inasmuch as these would, if strictly observed, wonderfully contribute to the good of the commonwealth. We have fallen upon times when a violent and well-nigh daily battle is being fought about matters of highest moment, a battle in which it is hard not to be sometimes deceived, not to go astray and, for many, not to lose heart. It behooves us, venerable brethren, to warn, instruct, and exhort each of the faithful with an earnestness befitting the occasion: that none may abandon the way of truth. [1]

4. It cannot be doubted that duties more numerous and of greater moment devolve on Catholics than upon such as are either not sufficiently enlightened in relation to the Catholic faith, or who are entirely unacquainted with its doctrines. Considering that forthwith upon salvation being brought out for mankind, Jesus Christ laid upon His Apostles the injunction to "preach the Gospel to every creature," He imposed, it is evident, upon all men the duty of learning thoroughly and believing what they were taught. This duty is intimately bound up with the gaining of eternal salvation: "He that believeth and is baptized shall be saved; but he that believeth not, shall be condemned." [2] But the man who has embraced the Christian faith, as in duty bound, is by that very fact a subject of the Church as one of the children born of her, and becomes a member of that greatest and holiest body, which it is the special charge of the Roman Pontiff to rule with supreme power, under its invisible head, Jesus Christ .

5. Now, if the natural law enjoins us to love devotedly and to defend the country in which we had birth, and in which we were brought up, so that every good citizen hesitates not to face death for his native land, very much more is it the urgent duty of Christians to be ever quickened by like feelings toward the Church. For the Church is the holy City of the living God, born of God Himself, and by Him built up and established. Upon this earth, indeed, she accomplishes her pilgrimage, but by instructing and guiding men she summons them to eternal happiness. We are bound, then, to love dearly the country whence we have received the means of enjoyment this mortal life affords, but we have a much more urgent obligation to love, with ardent love, the Church to which we owe the life of the soul, a life that will endure forever. For fitting it is to prefer the good of the soul to the well-being of the body, inasmuch as duties toward God are of a far more hallowed character than those toward men.

6. Moreover, if we would judge aright, the supernatural love for the Church and the natural love of our own country proceed from the same eternal principle, since God Himself is their Author and originating Cause. Consequently, it follows that between the duties they respectively enjoin, neither can come into collision with the other. We can, certainly, and should love ourselves, bear ourselves kindly toward our fellow men, nourish affection for the State and the governing powers; but at the same time we can and must cherish toward the Church a feeling of filial piety, and love God with the deepest love of which we are capable. The order of precedence of these duties is, however, at times, either under stress of public calamities, or through the perverse will of men, inverted. For, instances occur where the State seems to require from men as subjects one thing, and religion, from men as Christians, quite another; and this in reality without any other ground, than that the rulers of the State either hold the sacred power of the Church of no account, or endeavor to subject it to their own will. Hence arises a conflict, and an occasion, through such conflict, of virtue being put to the proof. The two powers are confronted and urge their behests in a contrary sense; to obey both is wholly impossible. No man can serve two masters, [3] for to please the one amounts to contemning the other.


7. As to which should be preferred no one ought to balance for an instant. It is a high crime indeed to withdraw allegiance from God in order to please men, an act of consummate wickedness to break the laws of Jesus Christ, in order to yield obedience to earthly rulers, or, under pretext of keeping the civil law, to ignore the rights of the Church; "we ought to obey God rather than men." [4] This answer, which of old Peter and the other Apostles were used to give the civil authorities who enjoined unrighteous things, we must, in like circumstances, give always and without hesitation. No better citizen is there, whether in time of peace or war, than the Christian who is mindful of his duty; but such a one should be ready to suffer all things, even death itself, rather than abandon the cause of God or of the Church.

Top Button returning honored reader to top of page    

8. Hence, they who blame, and call by the name of sedition, this steadfastness of attitude in the choice of duty have not rightly apprehended the force and nature of true law. We are speaking of matters widely known, and which We have before now more than once fully explained. Law is of its very essence a mandate of right reason, proclaimed by a properly constituted authority, for the common good. But true and legitimate authority is void of sanction, unless it proceed from God, the supreme Ruler and Lord of all. The Almighty alone can commit power to a man over his fellow men; [5] nor may that be accounted as right reason which is in disaccord with truth and with divine reason; nor that held to be true good which is repugnant to the supreme and unchangeable good, or that wrests aside and draws away the wills of men from the charity of God.

9. Hallowed, therefore, in the minds of Christians is the very idea of public authority, in which they recognize some likeness and symbol as it were of the Divine Majesty, even when it is exercised by one unworthy. A just and due reverence to the laws abides in them, not from force and threats, but from a consciousness of duty; "for God hath not given us the spirit of fear." [6]

10. But, if the laws of the State are manifestly at variance with the divine law, containing enactments hurtful to the Church, or conveying injunctions adverse to the duties imposed by religion, or if they violate in the person of the supreme Pontiff the authority of Jesus Christ, then, truly, to resist becomes a positive duty, to obey, a crime; a crime, moreover, combined with misdemeanor against the State itself, inasmuch as every offense leveled against religion is also a sin against the State. Here anew it becomes evident how unjust is the reproach of sedition; for the obedience due to rulers and legislators is not refused, but there is a deviation from their will in those precepts only which they have no power to enjoin. Commands that are issued adversely to the honor due to God, and hence are beyond the scope of justice, must be looked upon as anything rather than laws. You are fully aware, venerable brothers, that this is the very contention of the Apostle St. Paul, who, in writing to Titus, after reminding Christians that they are "to be subject to princes and powers, and to obey at a word," at once adds: "And to be ready to every good work." [7] Thereby he openly declares that, if laws of men contain injunctions contrary to the eternal law of God, it is right not to obey them. In like manner, the Prince of the Apostles gave this courageous and sublime answer to those who would have deprived him of the liberty of preaching the Gospel: "If it be just in the sight of God to hear you rather than God, judge ye, for we cannot but speak the things which we have seen and heard." [8]

11. Wherefore, to love both countries, that of earth below and that of heaven above, yet in such mode that the love of our heavenly surpass the love of our earthly home, and that human laws be never set above the divine law, is the essential duty of Christians, and the fountainhead, so to say, from which all other duties spring. The Redeemer of mankind of Himself has said: "For this was I born, and for this came I into the world, that I should give testimony to the truth."[9] In like manner: "I am come to cast fire upon earth, and what will I but that it be kindled?'' [10] In the knowledge of this truth, which constitutes the highest perfection of the mind; in divine charity which, in like manner, completes the will, all Christian life and liberty abide. This noble patrimony of truth and charity entrusted by Jesus Christ to the Church she defends and maintains ever with untiring endeavor and watchfulness.

12. But with what bitterness and in how many guises war has been waged against the Church it would be ill-timed now to urge. From the fact that it has been vouchsafed to human reason to snatch from nature, through the investigations of science, many of her treasured secrets and to apply them befittingly to the divers requirements of life, men have become possessed with so arrogant a sense of their own powers as already to consider themselves able to banish from social life the authority and empire of God. Led away by this delusion, they make over to human nature the dominion of which they think God has been despoiled; from nature, they maintain, we must seek the principle and rule of all truth; from nature, they aver, alone spring, and to it should be referred, all the duties that religious feeling prompts. Hence, they deny all revelation from on high, and all fealty due to the Christian teaching of morals as well as all obedience to the Church, and they go so far as to deny her power of making laws and exercising every other kind of right, even disallowing the Church any place among the civil institutions of the commonweal. These men aspire unjustly, and with their might strive, to gain control over public affairs and lay hands on the rudder of the State, in order that the legislation may the more easily be adapted to these principles, and the morals of the people influenced in accordance with them. Whence it comes to pass that in many countries Catholicism is either openly assailed or else secretly interfered with, full impunity being granted to the most pernicious doctrines, while the public profession of Christian truth is shackled oftentimes with manifold constraints.

13. Under such evil circumstances therefore, each one is bound in conscience to watch over himself, taking all means possible to preserve the faith inviolate in the depths of his soul, avoiding all risks, and arming himself on all occasions, especially against the various specious sophisms rife among non-believers. In order to safeguard this virtue of faith in its integrity, We declare it to be very profitable and consistent with the requirements of the time, that each one, according to the measure of his capacity and intelligence, should make a deep study of Christian doctrine, and imbue his mind with as perfect a knowledge as may be of those matters that are interwoven with religion and lie within the range of reason. And as it is necessary that faith should not only abide untarnished in the soul, but should grow with ever painstaking increase, the suppliant and humble entreaty of the apostles ought constantly to be addressed to God: "Increase our faith." [11]

14. But in this same matter, touching Christian faith, there are other duties whose exact and religious observance, necessary at all times in the interests of eternal salvation, become more especially so in these our days. Amid such reckless and widespread folly of opinion, it is, as We have said, the office of the Church to undertake the defense of truth and uproot errors from the mind, and this charge has to be at all times sacredly observed by her, seeing that the honor of God and the salvation of men are confided to her keeping. But, when necessity compels, not those only who are invested with power of rule are bound to safeguard the integrity of faith, but, as St. Thomas maintains: "Each one is under obligation to show forth his faith, either to instruct and encourage others of the faithful, or to repel the attacks of unbelievers.'' [12] To recoil before an enemy, or to keep silence when from all sides such clamors are raised against truth, is the part of a man either devoid of character or who entertains doubt as to the truth of what he professes to believe. In both cases such mode of behaving is base and is insulting to God, and both are incompatible with the salvation of mankind. This kind of conduct is profitable only to the enemies of the faith, for nothing emboldens the wicked so greatly as the lack of courage on the part of the good. Moreover, want of vigor on the part of Christians is so much the more blameworthy, as not seldom little would be needed on their part to bring to naught false charges and refute erroneous opinions, and by always exerting themselves more strenuously they might reckon upon being successful. After all, no one can be prevented from putting forth that strength of soul which is the characteristic of true Christians, and very frequently by such display of courage our enemies lose heart and their designs are thwarted. Christians are, moreover, born for combat, whereof the greater the vehemence, the more assured, God aiding, the triumph: "Have confidence; I have overcome the world." [13] Nor is there any ground for alleging that Jesus Christ, the Guardian and Champion of the Church, needs not in any manner the help of men. Power certainly is not wanting to Him, but in His loving kindness He would assign to us a share in obtaining and applying the fruits of salvation procured through His grace.
Top Button returning honored reader to top of page    

15. The chief elements of this duty consist in professing openly and unflinchingly the Catholic doctrine, and in propagating it to the utmost of our power. For, as is often said, with the greatest truth, there is nothing so hurtful to Christian wisdom as that it should not be known, since it possesses, when loyally received, inherent power to drive away error. So soon as Catholic truth is apprehended by a simple and unprejudiced soul, reason yields assent. Now, faith, as a virtue, is a great boon of divine grace and goodness; nevertheless, the objects themselves to which faith is to be applied are scarcely known in any other way than through the hearing. "How shall they believe Him of whom they have not heard? and how shall they hear without a preacher? Faith then cometh by hearing, and hearing by the word of Christ." [14] Since, then, faith is necessary for salvation, it follows that the word of Christ must be preached. The office, indeed, of preaching, that is, of teaching, lies by divine right in the province of the pastors, namely, of the bishops whom "the Holy Spirit has placed to rule the Church of God." [15] It belongs, above all, to the Roman Pontiff, vicar of Jesus Christ, established as head of the universal Church, teacher of all that pertains to morals and faith.

16. No one, however, must entertain the notion that private individuals are prevented from taking some active part in this duty of teaching, especially those on whom God has bestowed gifts of mind with the strong wish of rendering themselves useful. These, so often as circumstances demand, may take upon themselves, not, indeed, the office of the pastor, but the task of communicating to others what they have themselves received, becoming, as it were, living echoes of their masters in the faith. Such co-operation on the part of the laity has seemed to the Fathers of the Vatican Council so opportune and fruitful of good that they thought well to invite it. "All faithful Christians, but those chiefly who are in a prominent position, or engaged in teaching, we entreat, by the compassion of Jesus Christ, and enjoin by the authority of the same God and Savior, that they bring aid to ward off and eliminate these errors from holy Church, and contribute their zealous help in spreading abroad the light of undefiled faith.'' [16] Let each one, therefore, bear in mind that he both can and should, so far as may be, preach the Catholic faith by the authority of his example, and by open and constant profession of the obligations it imposes. In respect, consequently, to the duties that bind us to God and the Church, it should be borne earnestly in mind that in propagating Christian truth and warding off errors the zeal of the laity should, as far as possible, be brought actively into play.

17. The faithful would not, however, so completely and advantageously satisfy these duties as is fitting they should were they to enter the field as isolated champions of the faith. Jesus Christ, indeed, has clearly intimated that the hostility and hatred of men, which He first and foremost experienced, would be shown in like degree toward the work founded by Him, so that many would be barred from profiting by the salvation for which all are indebted to His loving kindness. Wherefore, He willed not only to train disciples in His doctrine, but to unite them into one society, and closely conjoin them in one body, "which is the Church,'' [17] whereof He would be the head. The life of Jesus Christ pervades, therefore, the entire framework of this body, cherishes and nourishes its every member, uniting each with each, and making all work together to the same end, albeit the action of each be not the same. [18] Hence it follows that not only is the Church a perfect society far excelling every other, but it is enjoined by her Founder that for the salvation of mankind she is to contend "as an army drawn up in battle array." [19] The organization and constitution of Christian society can in no wise be changed, neither can any one of its members live as he may choose, nor elect that mode of fighting which best pleases him. For, in effect, he scatters and gathers not who gathers not with the Church and with Jesus Christ, and all who fight not jointly with him and with the Church are in very truth contending against God. [20]

18. To bring about such a union of minds and uniformity of action -- not without reason so greatly feared by the enemies of Catholicism -- the main point is that a perfect harmony of opinion should prevail; in which intent we find Paul the Apostle exhorting the Corinthians with earnest zeal and solemn weight of words: "Now I beseech you, brethren, by the name of our Lord Jesus Christ, that you all speak the same thing, and that there be no schisms among you: but that you be perfectly in the same mind, and in the same judgment." [21]

19. The wisdom of this precept is readily apprehended. In truth, thought is the principle of action, and hence there cannot exist agreement of will, or similarity of action, if people all think differently one from the other.

20. In the case of those who profess to take reason as their sole guide, there would hardly be found, if, indeed, there ever could be found, unity of doctrine. Indeed, the art of knowing things as they really are is exceedingly difficult; moreover, the mind of man is by nature feeble and drawn this way and that by a variety of opinions, and not seldom led astray by impressions coming from without; and, furthermore, the influence of the passions oftentimes takes away, or certainly at least diminishes, the capacity for grasping the truth. On this account, in controlling State affairs means are often used to keep those together by force who cannot agree in their way of thinking.

21. It happens far otherwise with Christians; they receive their rule of faith from the Church, by whose authority and under whose guidance they are conscious that they have beyond question attained to truth. Consequently, as the Church is one, because Jesus Christ is one, so throughout the whole Christian world there is, and ought to be, but one doctrine: "One Lord, one faith;" [22] "but having the same spirit of faith," [23] they possess the saving principle whence proceed spontaneously one and the same will in all, and one and the same tenor of action.

22. Now, as the Apostle Paul urges, this unanimity ought to be perfect. Christian faith reposes not on human but on divine authority, for what God has revealed "we believe not on account of the intrinsic evidence of the truth perceived by the natural light of our reason, but on account of the authority of God revealing, who cannot be deceived nor Himself deceive." [24] It follows as a consequence that whatever things are manifestly revealed by God we must receive with a similar and equal assent. To refuse to believe any one of them is equivalent to rejecting them all, for those at once destroy the very groundwork of faith who deny that God has spoken to men, or who bring into doubt His infinite truth and wisdom. To determine, however, which are the doctrines divinely revealed belongs to the teaching Church, to whom God has entrusted the safekeeping and interpretation of His utterances. But the supreme teacher in the Church is the Roman Pontiff. Union of minds, therefore, requires, together with a perfect accord in the one faith, complete submission and obedience of will to the Church and to the Roman Pontiff, as to God Himself. This obedience should, however, be perfect, because it is enjoined by faith itself, and has this in common with faith, that it cannot be given in shreds; nay, were it not absolute and perfect in every particular, it might wear the name of obedience, but its essence would disappear. Christian usage attaches such value to this perfection of obedience that it has been, and will ever be, accounted the distinguishing mark by which we are able to recognize Catholics. Admirably does the following passage from St. Thomas Aquinas set before us the right view: "The formal object of faith is primary truth, as it is shown forth in the holy Scriptures, and in the teaching of the Church, which proceeds from the fountainhead of truth. It follows, therefore, that he who does not adhere, as to an infallible divine rule, to the teaching of the Church, which proceeds from the primary truth manifested in the holy Scriptures, possesses not the habit of faith; but matters of faith he holds otherwise than true faith. Now, it is evident that he who clings to the doctrines of the Church as to an infallible rule yields his assent to everything the Church teaches; but otherwise, if with reference to what the Church teaches he holds what he likes but does not hold what he does not like, he adheres not to the teaching of the Church as to an infallible rule, but to his own will." [25]

23. "The faith of the whole Church should be one, according to the precept (1 Cor. 1:10): "Let all speak the same thing, and let there be no schisms among you"; and this cannot be observed save on condition that questions which arise touching faith should be determined by him who presides over the whole Church, whose sentence must consequently be accepted without wavering. And hence to the sole authority of the supreme Pontiff does it pertain to publish a new revision of the symbol, as also to decree all other matters that concern the universal Church." [26]

24. In defining the limits of the obedience owed to the pastors of souls, but most of all to the authority of the Roman Pontiff, it must not be supposed that it is only to be yielded in relation to dogmas of which the obstinate denial cannot be disjoined from the crime of heresy. Nay, further, it is not enough sincerely and firmly to assent to doctrines which, though not defined by any solemn pronouncement of the Church, are by her proposed to belief, as divinely revealed, in her common and universal teaching, and which the Vatican Council declared are to be believed "with Catholic and divine faith." [27] But this likewise must be reckoned amongst the duties of Christians, that they allow themselves to be ruled and directed by the authority and leadership of bishops, and, above all, of the apostolic see. And how fitting it is that this should be so any one can easily perceive. For the things contained in the divine oracles have reference to God in part, and in part to man, and to whatever is necessary for the attainment of his eternal salvation. Now, both these, that is to say, what we are bound to believe and what we are obliged to do, are laid down, as we have stated, by the Church using her divine right, and in the Church by the supreme Pontiff. Wherefore it belongs to the Pope to judge authoritatively what things the sacred oracles contain, as well as what doctrines are in harmony, and what in disagreement, with them; and also, for the same reason, to show forth what things are to be accepted as right, and what to be rejected as worthless; what it is necessary to do and what to avoid doing, in order to attain eternal salvation. For, otherwise, there would be no sure interpreter of the commands of God, nor would there be any safe guide showing man the way he should live.

25. In addition to what has been laid down, it is necessary to enter more fully into the nature of the Church. She is not an association of Christians brought together by chance, but is a divinely established and admirably constituted society, having for its direct and proximate purpose to lead the world to peace and holiness. And since the Church alone has, through the grace of God, received the means necessary to realize such end, she has her fixed laws, special spheres of action, and a certain method, fixed and conformable to her nature, of governing Christian peoples. But the exercise of such governing power is difficult, and leaves room for numberless conflicts, inasmuch as the Church rules peoples scattered through every portion of the earth, differing in race and customs, who, living under the sway of the laws of their respective countries, owe obedience alike to the civil and religious authorities. The duties enjoined are incumbent on the same persons, as already stated, and between them there exists neither contradiction nor confusion; for some of these duties have relation to the prosperity of the State, others refer to the general good of the Church, and both have as their object to train men to perfection.

26. The tracing out of these rights and duties being thus set forth, it is plainly evident that the governing powers are wholly free to carry out the business of the State; and this not only not against the wish of the Church, but manifestly with her co-operation, inasmuch as she strongly urges to the practice of piety, which implies right feeling towards God, and by that very fact inspires a right-mindedness toward the rulers in the State. The spiritual power, however, has a far loftier purpose, the Church directing her aim to govern the minds of men in the defending of the "kingdom of God, and His justice," [28] a task she is wholly bent upon accomplishing.

27. No one can, however, without risk to faith, foster any doubt as to the Church alone having been invested with such power of governing souls as to exclude altogether the civil authority. In truth, it was not to Caesar but to Peter that Jesus Christ entrusted the keys of the kingdom of Heaven. From this doctrine touching the relations of politics and religion originate important consequences which we cannot pass over in silence.

28. A notable difference exists between every kind of civil rule and that of the kingdom of Christ. If this latter bear a certain likeness and character to a civil kingdom, it is distinguished from it by its origin, principle, and essence. The Church, therefore, possesses the right to exist and to protect herself by institutions and laws in accordance with her nature. And since she not only is a perfect society in herself, but superior to every other society of human growth, she resolutely refuses, promoted alike by right and by duty, to link herself to any mere party and to subject herself to the fleeting exigencies of politics. On like grounds, the Church, the guardian always of her own right and most observant of that of others, holds that it is not her province to decide which is the best amongst many diverse forms of government and the civil institutions of Christian States, and amid the various kinds of State rule she does not disapprove of any, provided the respect due to religion and the observance of good morals be upheld. By such standard of conduct should the thoughts and mode of acting of every Catholic be directed.

29. There is no doubt that in the sphere of politics ample matter may exist for legitimate difference of opinion, and that, the single reserve being made of the rights of justice and truth, all may strive to bring into actual working the ideas believed likely to be more conducive than others to the general welfare. But to attempt to involve the Church in party strife, and seek to bring her support to bear against those who take opposite views is only worthy of partisans. Religion should, on the contrary, be accounted by every one as holy and inviolate; nay, in the public order itself of States — which cannot be severed from the laws influencing morals and from religious duties — it is always urgent, and indeed the main preoccupation, to take thought how best to consult the interests of Catholicism. Wherever these appear by reason of the efforts of adversaries to be in danger, all differences of opinion among Catholics should forthwith cease, so that, like thoughts and counsels prevailing, they may hasten to the aid of religion, the general and supreme good, to which all else should be referred. We think it well to treat this matter somewhat more in detail.

30. The Church alike and the State, doubtless, both possess individual sovereignty; hence, in the carrying out of public affairs, neither obeys the other within the limits to which each is restricted by its constitution. It does not hence follow, however, that Church and State are in any manner severed, and still less antagonistic, Nature, in fact, has given us not only physical existence, but moral life likewise. Hence, from the tranquillity of public order, which is the immediate purpose of civil society, man expects to derive his well-being, and still more the sheltering care necessary to his moral life, which consists exclusively in the knowledge and practice of virtue. He wishes, moreover, at the same time, as in duty bound, to find in the Church the aids necessary to his religious perfection, in the knowledge and practice of the true religion; of that religion which is the queen of virtues, because in binding these to God it completes them all and perfects them. Therefore, they who are engaged in framing constitutions and in religious nature of man, and take care to help him, but in a right and orderly way, to gain perfection, neither enjoining nor forbidding anything save what is reasonably consistent with civil as well as with religious requirements. On this very account, the Church cannot stand by, indifferent as to the import and significance of laws enacted by the State; not insofar, indeed, as they refer to the State, but in so far as, passing beyond their due limits, they trench upon the rights of the Church.

31. From God has the duty been assigned to the Church not only to interpose resistance, if at any time the State rule should run counter to religion, but, further, to make a strong endeavor that the power of the Gospel may pervade the law and institutions of the nations. And inasmuch as the destiny of the State depends mainly on the disposition of those who are at the head of affairs, it follows that the Church cannot give countenance or favor to those whom she knows to be imbued with a spirit of hostility to her; who refuse openly to respect her rights; who make it their aim and purpose to tear asunder the alliance that should, by the very nature of things, connect the interests of religion with those of the State. On the contrary, she is (as she is bound to be) the upholder of those who are themselves imbued with the right way of thinking as to the relations between Church and State, and who strive to make them work in perfect accord for the common good. These precepts contain the abiding principle by which every Catholic should shape his conduct in regard to public life. In short, where the Church does not forbid taking part in public affairs, it is fit and proper to give support to men of acknowledged worth, and who pledge themselves to deserve well in the Catholic cause, and on no account may it be allowed to prefer to them any such individuals as are hostile to religion.

32. Whence it appears how urgent is the duty to maintain perfect union of minds, especially at these our times, when the Christian name is assailed with designs so concerted and subtle. All who have it at heart to attach themselves earnestly to the Church, which is "the pillar and ground of the truth,"[29] will easily steer clear of masters who are "Iying and promising them liberty, when they themselves are slaves of corruption." [30] Nay, more, having made themselves sharers in the divine virtue which resides in the Church, they will triumph over the craft of their adversaries by wisdom, and over their violence by courage. This is not now the time and place to inquire whether and how far the inertness and internal dissensions of Catholics have contributed to the present condition of things; but it is certain at least that the perverse-minded would exhibit less boldness, and would not have brought about such an accumulation of ills, if the faith "which worketh by charity" [31] had been generally more energetic and lively in the souls of men, and had there not been so universal a drifting away from the divinely established rule of morality throughout Christianity. May at least the lessons afforded by the memory of the past have the good result of leading to a wiser mode of acting in the future.

33. As to those who mean to take part in public affairs, they should avoid with the very utmost care two criminal excesses: so-called prudence and false courage. Some there are, indeed, who maintain that it is not opportune boldly to attack evil-doing in its might and when in the ascendant, lest, as they say, opposition should exasperate minds already hostile. These make it a matter of guesswork as to whether they are for the Church or against her, since on the one hand they give themselves out as professing the Catholic faith, and yet wish that the Church should allow certain opinions, at variance with her teaching, to be spread abroad with impunity. They moan over the loss of faith and the perversion of morals, yet trouble themselves not to bring any remedy; nay, not seldom, even add to the intensity of the mischief through too much forbearance or harmful dissembling. These same individuals would not have any one entertain a doubt as to their good will towards the holy see; yet they have always a something by way of reproach against the supreme Pontiff.

34. The prudence of men of this cast is of that kind which is termed by the Apostle Paul "wisdom of the flesh" and "death" of the soul, "because it is not subject to the law of God, neither can it be." [32] Nothing is less calculated to amend such ills than prudence of this kind. For the enemies of the Church have for their object — and they hesitate not to proclaim it, and many among them boast of it — to destroy outright, if possible, the Catholic religion, which is alone the true religion. With such a purpose in hand they shrink from nothing, for they are fully conscious that the more faint-hearted those who withstand them become, the more easy will it be to work out their wicked will. Therefore, they who cherish the "prudence of the flesh" and who pretend to be unaware that every Christian ought to be a valiant soldier of Christ; they who would fain obtain the rewards owing to conquerors, while they are leading the lives of cowards, untouched in the fight, are so far from thwarting the onward march of the evil-disposed that, on the contrary, they even help it forward.  
Top Button returning honored reader to top of page    

35. On the other hand, not a few, impelled by a false zeal, or — what is more blameworthy still — affecting sentiments which their conduct belies, take upon themselves to act a part which does not belong to them. They would fain see the Church's mode of action influenced by their ideas and their judgment to such an extent that everything done otherwise they take ill or accept with repugnance. Some, yet again, expend their energies in fruitless contention, being worthy of blame equally with the former. To act in such manner is not to follow lawful authority but to forestall it, and, unauthorized, assume the duties of the spiritual rulers, to the great detriment of the order which God established in His Church to be observed forever, and which He does not permit to be violated with impunity by any one, whoever he may be.

36. Honor, then, to those who shrink not from entering the arena as often as need calls, believing and being convinced that the violence of injustice will be brought to an end and finally give way to the sanctity of right and religion! They truly seem invested with the dignity of time-honored virtue, since they are struggling to defend religion, and chiefly against the faction banded together to attack Christianity with extreme daring and without tiring, and to pursue with incessant hostility the sovereign Pontiff, fallen into their power. But men of this high character maintain without wavering the love of obedience, nor are they wont to undertake anything upon their own authority. Now, since a like resolve to obey, combined with constancy and sturdy courage, is needful, so that whatever trials the pressure of events may bring about, they may be "deficient in nothing," [33] We greatly desire to fix deep in the minds of each one that which Paul calls the "wisdom of the spirit, [34] for in controlling human actions this wisdom follows the excellent rule of moderation, with the happy result that no one either timidly despairs through lack of courage or presumes overmuch from want to prudence. There is, however, a difference between the political prudence that relates to the general good and that which concerns the good of individuals. This latter is shown forth in the case of private persons who obey the prompting of right reason in the direction of their own conduct; while the former is the characteristic of those who are set over others, and chiefly of rulers of the State, whose duty it is to exercise the power of command, so that the political prudence of private individuals would seem to consist wholly in carrying out faithfully the orders issued by lawful authority. [35]

37. The like disposition and the same order should prevail in the Christian society by so much the more that the political prudence of the Pontiff embraces diverse and multiform things, for it is his charge not only to rule the Church, but generally so to regulate the actions of Christian citizens that these may be in apt conformity to their hope of gaining eternal salvation. Whence it is clear that, in addition to the complete accordance of thought and deed, the faithful should follow the practical political wisdom of the ecclesiastical authority. Now, the administration of Christian affairs immediately under the Roman Pontiff appertains to the bishops, who, although they attain not to the summit of pontifical power, are nevertheless truly princes in the ecclesiastical hierarchy; and as each one of them administers a particular church, they are "as master-workers. . . in the spiritual edifice," [36] and they have members of the clergy to share their duties and carry out their decisions. Every one has to regulate his mode of conduct according to this constitution of the Church, which it is not in the power of any man to change. Consequently, just as in the exercise of their episcopal authority the bishops ought to be united with the apostolic see so should the members of the clergy and the laity live in close union with their bishops. Among the prelates, indeed, one or other there may be affording scope to criticism either in regard to personal conduct or in reference to opinions by him entertained about points of doctrine; but no private person may arrogate to himself the office of judge which Christ our Lord has bestowed on that one alone whom He placed in charge of His lambs and of His sheep. Let every one bear in mind that most wise teaching of Gregory the Great: "Subjects should be admonished not rashly to judge their prelates, even if they chance to see them acting in a blameworthy manner, lest, justly reproving what is wrong, they be led by pride into greater wrong. They are to be warned against the danger of setting themselves up in audacious opposition to the superiors whose shortcomings they may notice. Should, therefore, the superiors really have committed grievous sins, their inferiors, penetrated with the fear of God, ought not to refuse them respectful submission. The actions of superiors should not be smitten by the sword of the word, even when they are rightly judged to have deserved censure." [37]

38. However, all endeavors will avail but little unless our life be regulated conformably with the discipline of the Christian virtues. Let us call to mind what holy Scripture records concerning the Jewish nation: "As long as they sinned not in the sight of their God, it was well with them: for their God hateth iniquity. And even . . . when they had revolted from the way that God had given them to walk therein, they were destroyed in battles by many nations." [38] Now, the nation of the Jews bore an inchoate semblance to the Christian people, and the vicissitudes of their history in olden times have often foreshadowed the truth that was to come, saving that God in His goodness has enriched and loaded us with far greater benefits, and on this account the sins of Christians are much greater, and bear the stamp of more shameful and criminal ingratitude.

39. The Church, it is certain, at no time and in no particular is deserted by God; hence, there is no reason why she should be alarmed at the wickedness of men; but in the case of nations falling away from Christian virtue there is not a like ground of assurance, "for sin maketh nations miserable." [39] If every bygone age has experienced the force of this truth, wherefore should not our own? There are, in truth, very many signs which proclaim that just punishments are already menacing, and the condition of modern States tends to confirm this belief, since we perceive many of them in sad plight from intestine disorders, and not one entirely exempt. But, should those leagued together in wickedness hurry onward in the road they have boldly chosen, should they increase in influence and power in proportion as they make headway in their evil purposes and crafty schemes, there will be ground to fear lest the very foundations nature has laid for States to rest upon be utterly destroyed. Nor can such misgivings be removed by any mere human effort, especially as a vast number of men, having rejected the Christian faith, are on that account justly incurring the penalty of their pride, since blinded by their passions they search in vain for truth, laying hold on the false for the true, and thinking themselves wise when they call "evil good, and good evil," and "put darkness in the place of light, and light in the place of darkness." [40] It is therefore necessary that God come to the rescue, and that, mindful of His mercy, He turn an eye of compassion on human society.

40. Hence, We renew the urgent entreaty We have already made, to redouble zeal and perseverance, when addressing humble supplications to our merciful God, so that the virtues whereby a Christian life is perfected may be reawakened. It is, however, urgent before all, that charity, which is the main foundation of the Christian life, and apart from which the other virtues exist not or remain barren, should be quickened and maintained. Therefore is it that the Apostle Paul, after having exhorted the Colossians to flee all vice and cultivate all virtue, adds: "Above all things, have charity, which is the bond of perfection." [41] Yea, truly, charity is the bond of perfection, for it binds intimately to God those whom it has embraced and with loving tenderness, causes them to draw their life from God, to act with God, to refer all to God. Howbeit, the love of God should not be severed from the love of our neighbor, since men have a share in the infinite goodness of God and bear in themselves the impress of His image and likeness. "This commandment we have from God, that he who loveth God, love also his brother." [42] "If any man say I love God, and he hateth his brother, he is a liar." [43] And this commandment concerning charity its divine proclaimer styled new, not in the sense that a previous law, or even nature itself, had not enjoined that men should love one another, but because the Christian precept of loving each other in that manner was truly new, and quite unheard of in the memory of man. For, that love with which Jesus Christ is beloved by His Father and with which He Himself loves men, He obtained for His disciples and followers that they might be of one heart and of one mind in Him by charity, as He Himself and His Father are one by their nature.

41. No one is unaware how deeply and from the very beginning the import of that precept has been implanted in the breast of Christians, and what abundant fruits of concord, mutual benevolence, piety, patience, and fortitude it has produced. Why, then, should we not devote ourselves to imitate the examples set by our fathers? The very times in which we live should afford sufficient motives for the practice of charity. Since impious men are bent on giving fresh impulse to their hatred against .Jesus Christ, Christians should be quickened anew in piety; and charity, which is the inspirer of lofty deeds, should be imbued with new life. Let dissensions therefore, if there be any, wholly cease; let those strifes which waste the strength of those engaged in the fight, without any advantage resulting to religion, be scattered to the winds; let all minds be united in faith and all hearts in charity, so that, as it behooves, life may be spent in the practice of the love of God and the love of men.

42. This is a suitable moment for us to exhort especially heads of families to govern their households according to these precepts, and to be solicitous without failing for the right training of their children. The family may be regarded as the cradle of civil society, and it is in great measure within the circle of family life that the destiny of the States is fostered. Whence it is that they who would break away from Christian discipline are working to corrupt family life, and to destroy it utterly, root and branch. From such an unholy purpose they allow not themselves to be turned aside by the reflection that it cannot, even in any degree, be carried out without inflicting cruel outrage on the parents. These hold from nature their right of training the children to whom they have given birth, with the obligation super-added of shaping and directing the education of their little ones to the end for which God vouchsafed the privilege of transmitting the gift of life. It is, then, incumbent on parents to strain every nerve to ward off such an outrage, and to strive manfully to have and to hold exclusive authority to direct the education of their offspring, as is fitting, in a Christian manner, and first and foremost to keep them away from schools where there is risk of their drinking in the poison of impiety. Where the right education of youth is concerned, no amount of trouble or labor can be undertaken, how great soever, but that even greater still may not be called for. In this regard, indeed, there are to be found in many countries Catholics worthy of general admiration, who incur considerable outlay and bestow much zeal in founding schools for the education of youth. It is highly desirable that such noble example may be generously followed, where time and circumstances demand, yet all should be intimately persuaded that the minds of children are most influenced by the training they receive at home. If in their early years they find within the walls of their homes the rule of an upright life and the discipline of Christian virtues, the future welfare of society will in great measure be guaranteed.

43. And now We seem to have touched upon those matters which Catholics ought chiefly nowadays to follow, or mainly to avoid. It rests with you, venerable brothers, to take measures that Our voice may reach everywhere, and that one and all may understand how urgent it is to reduce to practice the teachings set forth in this Our letter. The observance of these duties cannot be troublesome or onerous, for the yoke of Jesus Christ is sweet, and His burden is light. If anything, however, appear too difficult of accomplishment, you will afford aid by the authority of your example, so that each one of the faithful may make more strenuous endeavor, and display a soul unconquered by difficulties. Bring it home to their minds, as We have Ourselves oftentimes conveyed the warning, that matters of the highest moment and worthy of all honor are at stake, for the safeguarding of which every most toilsome effort should be readily endured; and that a sublime reward is in store for the labors of a Christian life. On the other hand, to refrain from doing battle for Jesus Christ amounts to fighting against Him; He Himself assures us "He will deny before His Father in heaven those who shall have refused to confess Him on earth." [44] As for Ourselves and you all, never assuredly, so long as life lasts, shall We allow Our authority, Our counsels, and Our solicitude to be in any wise lacking in the conflict. Nor is it to be doubted but that especial aid of the great God will be vouchsafed, so long as the struggle endures, to the flock alike and to the pastors.


Sustained by this confidence, as a pledge of heavenly gifts, and of Our loving kindness in the Lord to you, venerable brothers, to your clergy and to all your people, We accord the apostolic benediction.

Given at Saint Peter's in Rome, the tenth day of January, 1890, the twelfth year of Our pontificate.



1. Tobias 1:2.
2. Mark 16:16.
3. Matt. 6:24.
4 Acts 5:29.
5. Note the extreme importance of this principle; it justifies the doctrine according to which the only conceivable foundation of political authority must be divine in origin .
6. 2 Tim. 1:7.
7. Titus 3:1.
8. Acts 4:19-20.
9. John 18:37.
10. Luke 12:49.
11. Luke 17:5.
12. Summa theologiae, lla-llae, qu. iii, art. 2, ad 2m.
13. John 16:33.
14. Rom. 10:14, 17.
15. Acts 20:28.
16. Constitution Dei Filius, at end.
17. Col. 1:24.
18. Cf. Rom. 12:4-5.
19. Cant. 6:9.
20. Cf. Luke 11:22.
21. I Cor. 1:10.
22. Eph. 4:5.
23. 2 Cor. 4:13.
24. Constitution Dei Filius, cap. 3.
25. Summa theologiae, lla-llae, q. v, art. 3.
26. Ibid., q. i, art. 10.
27. Vatican Council, Constit. de fide catholica, cap. 3, De fide. Cf. H. Denziger, Enchiridion Symbolorium 11 ed., Freiburg i. Br., 1911), p. 476.
28. Matt. 6:33.
29. I Tim. 3:15.
30. 2 Peter 2:1, 19.
31. Gal. 5:6.
32. Cf. Rom. 8:6-7.
33. James 1:4.
34. Rom. 8:6.
35. "Prudence proceeds from reason, and to reason it specially pertains to guide and govern. Whence it follows that, in so much as any one takes part in the control and government of affairs, in so far ought he to be gifted with reason and prudence. But it is evident that the subject, so far as subject, and the servant ought neither to control nor govern, but rather to be controlled and governed. Prudence, then, is not the special virtue of the servant, so far as servant, nor of the subject, so far as subject. But because any man, on account of his character of a reasonable being, may have some share in the government on account of the rational choice which he exercises, it is fitting that in such proportion he should possess the virtue of prudence. Whence it manifestly results that prudence exists in the ruler as the art of building exists in the architect, whereas prudence exists in the subject as the art of building exists in the hand of the workman employed in the construction." Summa theologiae, lla-llae, q. xlvii, art. 12, Answer. St. Thomas Aquinas refers to Aristotle, Ethic. Nic., Bk. Vl, 8, 1141b 21-29.
36. Thomas Aquinas Quaest Quodl., 1, G. 7, art. 2, Answer. 37. Regula pastoralis, Part 3, cap. 4 (PL 77, 55).
38. Judith 5:21-22.
39. Prov. 14:34.
40. Isa. 5:20.
41. Col. 3: 14.
42. 1 John 4:21.
43. 1 John 4:20.
44. Luke 9:26.




  Blessed are the warriors of the Celestial King — The Church Militant  
  Благословенно воинство Небесного Царя — Церковь воинствующая — Москва 1550 -ые годы - Blessed are the warriors of the Celestial King — The Church Militant — Moscow, 1550  







Top Button returning honored reader to top of page    

Venerabiles Fratres, Salutem et Apostolicam Benedictionem.

Sapientiae christianae revocari praecepta, eisque vitam, mores, instituta populorum penitus conformari, quotidie magis apparet oportere. Illis enim posthabitis, tanta vis est malorum consecuta, ut nemo sapiens nec ferre sine ancipiti cura praesentia queat, nec in posterum sine metu prospicere. — Facta quidem non mediocris est ad ea bona, quae sunt corporis et externa, progressio: sed omnis natura, quae hominis percellit sensus, opumque et virium et copiarum possessio, si commoditates gignere suavitatesque augere vivendi potest, natum ad maiora ac ma gniflcentiora animum explere non potest. Deum spectare, atque ad ipsum contendere, suprema lex est vitae hominum: qui ad imaginem conditi similitudinemque divinam, natura ipsa ad auctorem suum potiundum vehementer incitantur. Atqui non motu aliquo cursuque corporis tenditur ad Deum, sed iis quae sunt animi, cognitione atque affectu. Est enim Deus prima ac suprema veritas, nec nisi mens veritate alitur: est idem perfecta sanctitas summumque bonorum, quo sola voluntas aspirare et accedere, duce virtute, potest.

Quod autem de singulis hominibus, idem de societate tum domestica tum etiam civili intelligendum. Non enim ob hanc caussam genuit natura societatem ut ipsam homo sequeretur tamquam finem, sed ut in ea et per eam adiumenta ad perfectionem sui apta reperiret. Si qua igitur civitas nihil praeter commoditates externas vitaeque cultum cum elegantia et copia persequatur, si Deum in administranda republica negligere, nec leges curare morales consueverit, deterrime aberrat ab instituto suo et praescriptione naturae, neque tam est ea societas hominum et communitas putanda, quam fallax imitatio simulatioque societatis. — Iamvero ea, quae diximus, animi bona, quae in verae religionis cultu constantique praeceptorum christianorum custodia maxime reperiuntur, quotidie obscurari hominum oblivione aut fastidio cernimus, ita fere ut, quanto sunt earum rerum incrementa maiora, quae corpus attingunt, tanto earum, quae animum, maior videatur occasus. Imminutae plurimumque debilitata e fidei christianae magna significatio est in iis ipsis iniuriis, quae catholico nomini in luce atque in oculis hominum nimis saepe inferuntur: quas quidem cultrix religionis aetas nullo pacto tulisset. — His de caussis incredibile dictu est, quanta hominum multitudo in aeternae salutis discrimine versetur: sed civitates ipsae atque imperia diu incolumia esse non possunt, quia labentibus institutis moribusque christianis, maxima societatis humanae fundamenta ruere necesse est. Tranquillitati publicae atque ordini tuendo sola vis relinquitur: vis autem valde est infirma, praesidio religionis detracto: eademque servituti pariendae quam obedientiae aptior, gerit in se ipsa magnarum perturbationum inclusa semina. Graves memoratu casus saeculum tulit: nec satis liquet num non sint pertimescendi pares. — Itaque tempus ipsum monet remedia, unde oportet, quaerere: videlicet christianam sentiendi agendique rationem in vita privata, in omnibus reipublicae partibus, restituere: quod est unum ad pellenda mala, quae premunt, ad prohibenda pericula, quae impendent, aptissimum. In id nos, Venerabiles Fratres, incumbere opus est, id maxima qua possumus contentione industriaque conari: eiusque rei caussa, quamquam aliis locis, ut sese dedit opportunitas, similia tradidimus, utile tamen arbitramur esse in his Litteris magis enucleate officia describere catholicorum: quae officia, si accurate serventur, mirabiliter ad rerum communium salutem valent. Incidimus in vehementem eamque prope quotidianam de rebus maximis dimicationem: in qua difficillimum est non decipi aliquando, non errare, non animo multos succumbere. Nostrum est, Venerabiles Fratres, admonere quemque, docere, adhortari convenienter tempori, ut viam veritatis nemo deserat.

Esse in usu vitae plura ac maiora catholicorum officia, quam eorum qui sint fidei catholicae aut perperam compotes, aut omnino expertes, dubitari non potest. Cum, parta iam hominum generi salute, Iesus Christus praedicare Evangelium Apostolos iussit omni creaturae, hoc pariter officium hominibus universis imposuit, ut perdiscerent et crederent, quae docerentur : cui quidem officio sempiternae salutis omnino est adeptio coniuncta. Qui crediderit et baptizatus fuerit, salvus erit: quivero non crediderit, condemnabitur (Marc. XVI 16). Sed christianam fidem homo, ut debet, complexus, hoc ipso Ecclesiae ut ex ea natus subiicitur, eiusque fit societatis maximae sanctissimaeque jparticeps, quam summa cum potestate regere, sub invisibili capite Christo Iesu, romani Pontificis proprium est munus. — Nunc vero si civitatem, in qua editi susceptique in hanc lucem sumus, praecipue diligere tuerique iubemur lege naturae usque eo, ut civis bonus vel mortem pro patria oppetere non dubitet, officium est christianorum longe maius simili modo esse in Ecclesiam semper affectos. Est enim Ecclesia civitas sancta Dei viventis, Deo ipso nata, eodemque auctore constituta: quae peregrinatur quidem in terris, sed vocans homines et erudiens atque deducens ad sempiternam in caelis felicitatem. Adamanda igitur patria est, unde vitae mortalis usuram accepimus: sed necesse est caritate Ecclesiam praestare, cui vitam animae debemus perpetuo mansuram: quia bona animi corporis bonis rectum est anteponere, multoque, quam erga homines, sunt erga Deum officia sanctiora. — Ceterum, vere si iudicare volumus, supernaturalis amor Ecclesiae patriaeque caritas naturalis, geminae sunt ab eodem sempiterno principio profectae caritates, cum ipse sit utriusque auctor et caussa Deus: ex quo consequitur, non posse alterum officium pugnare cum altero. Utique utrumque possumus et debemus, diligere nosmetipsos, benevolentes esse cum proximis, amare rempublicam potestatemque quae reipublicae praesit: eodemque tempore Ecclesiam colere uti parentem, et maxima, qua fieri potest, caritate complecti Deum. — Nihilominus horum officiorum ordo, vel calamitate temporum vel iniquiore hominum voluntate, aliquando pervertitili. Nimirum incidunt caussae, cum aliud videtur a civibus respublica, aliud a christianis religio postulare: idque non alia sine de caussa, quam quod rectores reipublicae sacram Ecclesiae potestatem aut nihil pensi habent, aut sibi volunt esse subiectam. Hinc et certamen existit, et periclitandae virtuti in certamine locus. Urget enim potestas duplex: quibus contraria iubentibus obtemperan simul utrisque non potest: Nemo potest duobus dominis servire, (Matth, VI, 24) ita ut omnino, si mos geritur alteri, alterum posthaberi necesse sit. Uter vero sit anteponendus, dubitare nemo debet. — Videlicet scelus est ab obsequio Dei, satisfaciendi hominibus caussa, discedere: nefas Iesu Christi leges, ut pareatur magistratibus, perrumpere, aut, per speciem civilis conservandi iuris, iura Ecclesiae migrare. Obedire oportet Deo magis, quam hominibus (Act. V, 29). Quodque olim magistratibus non honesta imperantibus Petrus ceterique Apostoli respondere consueverunt, idem semper est in caussa simili sine haesitatione respondendum. Nemo civis pace bellove melior, quam christianus sui memor officii, sed perpeti omnia potius, et ipsam malle mortem debet, quam Dei Ecclesiaeve caussam deserere. — Quapropter non habent vim naturamque legum probe perspectam, qui istam in delectu officii constantiam reprehendunt, et ad seditionem aiunt pertinere. Vulgo cognita et a Nobis ipsis aliquoties explicata loquimur. Non est lex, nisi iussio rectae rationis a potestate legitima in bonum commune perlata. Sed vera ac legitima potestas nulla est, nisi a Deo summo principe dominoque omnium proflciscatur, qui mandare homini in homines imperium solus ipse potest: neque est recta ratio putanda, quae cum veritate dissentiat et ratione divina: neque verum bonum, quod summo atque incommutabili bono repugnet, vel a caritate Dei torqueat hominum atque abducat voluntates.— Sanctum igitur christianis est publicae potestatis nomen, in qua divinae maiestatis speciem et imaginem quamdam tum etiam agnoscunt, cum geritur ab indigno: iusta et debita legum verecundia, non propter vim et minas, sed propter conscientiam officii: non enim dedit nobis Deus spiritum timoris (II Timoth. I. 7). Verum si reipublicae leges aperte discrepent cum iure divino, si quam Ecclesiae imponant iniuriam, aut iis, quae sunt de religione, officiis contradicant, vel auctoritatem Iesu Christi in pontifice maximo violent, tum vero resistere officium est, parere scelus: idque cum ipsius reipublicae iniuria coniunctum, quia peccatur in rempublicam quidquid in religione delinquitur. — Rursus autem apparet quam sit illa seditionis iniusta criminatio: non enim abiicitur principi legumque latoribus obedientia debita: sed ab eorum voluntate in iis dumtaxat praeceptis disceditur, quorum ferendorum nulla potestas est, quia cum Dei iniuria feruntur, ideoque vacant iustitia, et quidvis potius sunt quam leges. — Nostis, Venerabiles Fratres, hanc esse ipsissimam beati Pauli Apostoli doctrinam: qui cum scripsisse ad Titum, monendos christianos principibus et potestatibus subditos esse, dicto obedire, illud statim adiungit, ad omne opus bonum paratos esse (Tit. m , 1): quo palam fleret, si leges hominum contra sempiternam legem Dei quicquam statuant, rectum esse non parere. Similique ratione princeps Apostolorum iis, qui libertatem praedicandi Evangelii sibi vellent eripere, forti atque excelso animo respondebat, si iustum est in conspectu Dei, vos potius audire, quam Deum, iudicate: non enim possumus quae vidimus et audivimus non loqui (Act. IV, 19, 20).

Ambas itaque patrias unumquemque diligere, alteram naturae, alteram civitatis caelestis, ita tamen ut huius, quam illius habeatur caritas antiquior, nec unquam Dei iuribus iura humana anteponantur, maximum est christianorum officium, itemque velut fons quidam, unde alia officia nascuntur. Sane liberator generis humani de se ipse Ego, inquit, in hoc natus sum et ad hoc veni in mundum, ut testimonium perhibeam veritati (Io. XVIII, 37). Similiter, ignem veni mittere in terram, et quid volo nisi ut accendatur? (Luc. XII, 49) In huius cognitione veritatis, quae mentis est summa perfectio, in caritate divina, quae perficit pari modo voluntatem, omnis christianorum est vita ac libertas posita. Quarum rerum, veritatis scilicet et caritatis, nobilissimum patrimonium, sibi a Iesu Christo commendatum, perpetuo studio vigilantiaque conservat ac tuetur Ecclesia.

Sed quam aere adversus Ecclesiam bellum deflagraverit quamque multiplex, vix attinet hoc loco dicere. Quod enim rationi contigit complures res occultas et a natura involutas scientiae pervestigatione reperire, easque in vitae usus apte convertere, tantos sibi spiritus sumpsere homines, ut iam se putent numen posse imperiumque divinum e communi vita depellere. — Quo errore decepti, transferunt in naturam humanam ereptum Deo principatum: a natura petendum omnis veri principium et normam praedicant: ab ea manare, ad eamque esse cuncta religionis officia referenda. Quocirca nihil esse divinitus traditum: non disciplinae morum christianae, non Ecclesiae parendum: nullam huic esse legum ferendarum potestatem, nulla iura; imo nec ullum Ecclesiae dari in reipublicae institutis locum oportere. Expetunt vero atque omni ope contendunt capessere res publicas et ad gubernacula sedere civitatum, quo sibi facilius liceat ad has doctrinas dirigere leges moresque fingere populorum. Ita passim catholicum nomen vel aperte petitur, vel occulte oppugnatur: magnaque cuilibet errorum perversitati permissa licentia, multis saepe vinculis publica veritatis christianae professio constringitur.

His igitur tam iniquis rebus, primum omnium respicere se quisque debet, vehementerque curare, ut alte comprehensam animo fidem intenta custodia tueatur, cavendo pericula, nominatimque contra varias sophismatum falladas semper armatus. Ad cuius incolumitatem virtutis illud etiam perutile, et magnopere consentaneum temporibus iudicamus, studium diligens, ut est facultas et captus singulorum, in christiana doctrina ponere, earumque rerum, quae religionem continent, quasque assequi ratione licet, maiore qua potest notitia mentem imbuere. Cumque fidem non modo vigere in animis incorruptam, sed assiduis etiam incrementis oporteat augescere, iteranda persaepe ad Deum est supplex atque humilis Apostolorum flagitatio, adauge nobis fidem (Luc. XVIII, 5 [actually it is from Luc XVII, 5 ]).

Verum in hoc eodem genere, quod fidem christianam attingit, alia sunt officia, quae observari accurate religioseque si salutis semper interfuit, hac tempestate nostra interest maxime. — Nimirum in hac, quam diximus, tanta ac tam late fusa opinionum insania, profecto patrocinium suscipere veritatis, erroresque ex animis evehere, Ecclesiae munus est, idque omni tempore sancteque servandum, quia honor Dei, ac salus hominum in eius sunt tutela. At vero, cum necessitas cogit, incolumitatem fidei tueri non ii solum debent qui praesunt, sed quilibet tenetur fidem suam aliis propalare, vel ad instructionem aliorum fidelium sive confirmationem, vel ad reprimendum infidelium insultationem (S. Thom. II-II Quaest, III, art. II, ad 2). Cedere hosti, vel vocem premere, cum tantus undique opprimendae veritati tollitur clamor, aut inertis hominis est, aut de iis, quae profitetur, utrum vera sint, dubitantis. Utrumque turpe, atque iniuriosum Deo: utrumque cum singulorum tum communi saluti repugnans: solis fidei inimicis fructuosum, quia valde auget remissior proborum opera audaciam improborum. — Eoque magis christianorum vituperanda segnities, quia falsa crimina dilui, opinionesque pravae confutan levi negotio, ut plurimum, possunt: maiore aliquo cum labore semper possunt. Ad extremum, nemo unus prohibetur eam adhibere ac prae se ferre fortitudinem, quae propria est christianorum: qua ipsa non raro animi adversariorum et consilia franguntur. Sunt praeterea christiani ad dimicationem nati: cuius quo maior est vis, eo certior, Deo opitulante, victoria. Confidite: ego mei mundum (Io. XVI, 33). Neque est quod opponat quisquam, Ecclesiae conservatorem ac vindicem Iesum Christum nequaquam opera hominum indigere. Non enim inopia virium, sed magnitudine bonitatis vult ille ut aliquid a nobis conferatur operae ad salutis, quam ipse peperit, obtinendos adipiscendosque fructus.  
Top Button returning honored reader to top of page    

Huiusce partes officii primae sunt, catholicam doctrinam profiteri aperte et constanter, eamque, quoad quisque potest, propagare. Nam, quod saepius est verissimeque dictum, christianae quidem sapientiae nihil tam obest, quam non esse cognitam. Valet enim per se ipsa ad depellendos errores probe percepta: quam si mens arripuerit simplex praeiudicatisque non adstricta opinionibus, assentiendum esse ratio pronuntiat. Nunc vero fidei virtus grande munus est gratiae bonitatisque divinae: res tamen ipsae quibus adhibenda fides, non alio fere modo quam audiendo noscuntur, Quomodo credent ei, quem non audierunt? Quomodo autem audient sine praedicante?.... Ergo fides ex auditu, auditus autem per verbum Christi (Rom. X, 14, 17). Quoniam igitur fides est ad salutem necessaria, omnino praedicari verbum Christi consequitur oportere. Profecto praedicandi, hoc est docendi, munus iure divino penes magistros est, quos Spiritus Sanctus posuit Episcopos regere Ecclesiam Dei (Act. XX, 28), maximeque penes Pontificem romanum, Iesu Christi vicarium, Ecclesiae universae summa cum potestate praepositum, credendorum, agendorum magistrum. Nihilominus nemo putet, industriam nonnullam eadem in re ponere privatos prohiberi, eos nominatim, quibus ingenii facultatem Deus cum studio bene merendi dedit: qui, quoties res exigat, commode possunt non sane doctoris sibi partes assumere, sed ea, quae ipsi acceperint, impertire ceteris, magistrorum voci resonantes tamquam imago. Quin imo privatorum opera visa est Patribus Concilii Vaticani usque adeo opportuna ac frugifera, ut prorsus deposcendam iudicarint Omnes christifideles, maxime nere eos, qui praesunt, vel docendi munere funguntur, per viscera Iesu Christi obtestamur, nec non eiusdem Dei et Salvatoris nostri auctoritate iubemus, ut ad hos errores a sancta Ecclesia arcendos et eliminandos, atque purissimae fidei lucem pandenolam studium et operam conferant (Const. Dei Filius, sub fin.). — Ceterum serere fidem catholicam auctoritate exempli, professionisque constantia praedicare, quisque se posse ac debere meminerit. — In officiis igitur quae nos iungunt Deo atque Ecclesiae, hoc est numerandum maxime, ut in veritate christiana propaganda propulsandisque erroribus elaboret singulorum, quoad potest, industria.

Quibus tamen officiis non ita, ut oportet, cumulate et utiliter satisfacturi sunt, si alii seorsum ab aliis in certamen descenderint. — Futurum sane Iesus Christus significavit, ut quam ipse offensionem hominum invidiamque prior excepit, in eamdem pari modo opus a se institutum incurreret; ita plane ut ad salutem pervenire, ipsius beneficio partam, multi reapse prohiberentur. Quare voluit non alumnos dumtaxat instituere disciplinae suae, sed hos ipsos societate coniungere, et in unum corpus, quod est Ecclesia (Coloss, I, 24), cuius esset ipse caput, apte coagmentat. Permeat itaque vita Christi Iesu per totam compagem corporis, alit ac sustentat singula membra, eaque copulata tenet inter se et ad eumdem composita finem, quamvis non eadem sit actio singulorum (Sicut enim in uno corpore multa membra habemus, omnia autem membra non eumdem actum habent: ita multi unum corpus sumus in Christo, singuli autem alter alterius membra. Rom. XII, 4, 5). His de caussis non modo perfecta societas Ecclesia est, et alia qualibet societate longe praestantior, sed hoc ei est inditum ab Auctore suo ut debeat pro salute generis humani contendere ut castrorum acies ordinata (Cantic. VI, 9). Ista rei christianae compositio conformatioque mutari nullo modo potest: nec magis vivere arbitratu suo cuipiam licet, aut eam, quae sibi libeat, decertandi rationem consectari: propterea quod dissipat, non colligit, qui cum Ecclesia et Iesu Christo non colligit, verissimeque contra Deum contendunt, quicumque non cum ipso Ecclesiaque contendunt (Qui non est mecum, contra me est: et qui non colligit mecum, dispergit. Luc.XI, 23).

Ad hanc vero coniunctionem animorum similitudinemque agendi, inimicis catholici nominis non sine caussa formidolosam, primum omnium concordia est necessaria sententiarum: ad quam ipsam videmus Paulum Apostolorum Corinthios cohor tantem vehementi studio et singulari gravitate verborum: Obsecro autem vos, fratres, per nomen Domini nostri Iesu Christi, ut idipsum dicatis omnes, et non sint in vobis schismata: sitis autem perfecti in eodem sensu et in eadem sententia (I Corinth. I, 10). — Cuius praecepti facile sapientia perspicitur. Est enim principium agendi mens : ideoque nec congruere voluntates, nec similes esse actiones queunt, si mentes diversa opinentur. Qui solam rationem sequuntur ducem, vix in eis aut ne vix quidem una esse doctrina potest: est enim ars rerum cognoscendarum perdifficilis: mens vero et infirma est natura, et varietate distrahitur opinionum, et impulsione rerum oblata extrinsecus non raro fallitur; accedunt cupiditates, quae veri videndi nimium saepe tollunt aut certe minuunt facultatem. Hac de caussa in moderandis civitatibus saepe datur opera ut coniuncti teneantur vi, quorum animi discordant. — Longe aliter christiani: quid credere oporteat, ab Ecclesia accipiunt, cuius auctoritate ductuque se certo sciunt verum attingere. Propterea sicut una est Ecclesia, quia unus Iesus Christus, ita cunctorum toto orbe christianorum una est atque esse debet doctrina. Unus Dominus, una fides (Ephes, IV, 5). Habentes autem eumdem spiritum fidei (II Corinth. IV, 13), salutare principium obtinent, unde eadem in omnibus voluntas eademque in agendo ratio sponte gignuntur.

Sed, quod Paulus Apostolus iubet, unanimitatem oportet esse perfectam. — Cum christiana fides non humanae, sed divinae rationis auctoritate nitatur, quae enim a Deo accepimus, vera esse credimus non propter intrinsecam rerum veritatem naturali rationis lumine perspectam, sed propter auctoritatem ipsius Dei revelantis, qui nec falli nee fallere potest (Conc. Vat. Const. Dei Films, cap. 3), consequens est ut, quascumque res constet esse a Deo traditas, omnino excipere singulas pari similique assensu necesse sit: quarum rerum abnuere fidem uni huc ferme recidit, repudiare universas. Evertunt enim ipsum fundamentum fidei, qui aut elocutum hominibus Deum negent, aut de infinita eius veritate sapientia ve dubitent. — Statuere vero quae sint doctrinae divinitus traditae, Ecclesiae docentis est, cui custodiam interpretationemque Deus eloquiorum suorum commisit. Summus autem est magister in Ecclesia Pontifex romanus. Concordia igitur animorum sicut perfectum in una fide consensum requirit, ita voluntates postulat Ecclesiae romanoque Pontifici perfecte subiectas atque obtemperantes, ut Deo. — Perfecta autem esse obedientia debet, quia ab ipsa fide praecipitur, et habet hoc commune cum fide, ut dividua esse non possit: imo vero si absoluta non fuerit et numeros omnes habens, obedientiae quidem simulacrum relinquitur, natura tollitur. Cuiusmodi perfectioni tantum christiana consuetudo tribuit, ut illa tamquam nota internoscendi catholicos et habita semper sit et habeatur. Mire explicatur hic locus a Tiioma Aquinate iis verbis: Formale obiectum fidei est veritas prima secundum quod manifestatur in Scripturis sacris, et doctrina Ecclesiae, quae procedit ex veritate prima. Unde quicumque non inhaeret, sicut infallibili et divinae regulae, doctrinae Ecclesiae, quae procedit ex veritate prima in Scripturis sacris manifestata ille non habet habitum fidei : sed ea, quae sunt fidei, alio modo tenet quam per fidem Manifestum est autem, quod ille, qui inhaeret doctrinis Ecclesiae tamquam infallibili regulae, omnibus assentit, quae Ecclesia docet: alioquin si de his, quae Ecclesia docet, quae vult, tenet, et quae non vult, non tenet, non iam inhaeret Ecclesiae doctrinae sicut infallibili regulae, sed propriae voluntati (II-II. Quaest, V, art. III). Una fides debet esse totius Ecclesiae, secundum illud (I. Corinth. I): Idipsum diecdis omnes et non sint in vobis schismata: quod servari non posset nisi quaestio fidei exorta determinetur per eum, qui toti Ecclesiae praeest, ut sic eius sententia a tota Ecclesia firmiter teneatur. Et ideo ad solam auctoritatem Summi Pontificis pertinet nova editio Symboli} sicut et omnia alia, quae pertinent ad totam Ecclesiam ( Ib. Quaest, I, art.X).

In constituendis obedientiae finibus, nemo arbitretur, sacrorum Pastorum maximeque romani Pontificis auctoritati parendum in eo dumtaxat esse, quod ad dogmata pertinet, quorum repudiatio pertinax diiungi ab haereseos flagitio non potest. Quin etiam neque satis est sincere et firmiter assentiri doctrinis, quae ab Ecclesia, etsi solemni non definitae iudicio, ordinario tamen et universali magisterio tamquam divinitus revelatae credendae proponuntur : quas fide catholica et divina credendas Concilium Vaticanum decrevit. Sed hoc est praeterea in officiis christianorum ponendum, ut potestate ductuque Episcoporum imprimisque Sedis Apostolicae regi se gubernarique patiantur. Quod quidem quam sit consentaneum, perfacile apparet. Nam quae divinis oraculis continentur, ea Deum partim attingunt, partim ipsum hominem itemque res ad sempiternam hominis salutem necessarias. Iamvero de utroque genere, nimirum et quid credere oporteat et quid agere, ab Ecclesia iure divino praecipitur, uti diximus, atque in Ecclesia a Pontifice maximo. Quamobrem iudicare posse Pontifex pro auctoritate debet quid eloquia divina contineant, quae cum eis doctrinae concordent, quae discrepent: eademque ratione ostendere quae honesta sint, quae turpia: quid agere, quid fugere, salutis adipiscendae caussa, necesse sit: aliter enim nec eloquiorum Dei certus interpres, nec dux ad vivendum tutus ille esse homini posset.

Altius praeterea intrandum in Ecclesiae naturam: quippe quae non est christianorum, ut fors tulit, nexa communio, sed excellenti temperatione divinitus constituta societas, quae illuc recta proximeque spectat, ut pacem animis ac sanctitatem afferat: cumque res ad id necessarias divino munere sola possideat, certas habet leges, certa officia, atque in populis christianis moderandis rationem viamque sequitur naturae suae consentaneam. — Sed istiusmodi regiminis difficilis est et cum frequenti offensione cursus. Gentes enim Ecclesia regit per cunctos terrarum tractus disseminatas, genere differentes moribusque, quas, cum in sua quaeque republica suis legibus vivant, civili simul ac sacrae potestati officium est subesse. Quae officia in eisdem personis coniuncta reperiuntur, non vero pugnantia, uti diximus, neque confusa, quia alterum genus ad prosperitatem pertinet civitatis, alterum ad commune Ecclesiae bonum, utrumque pariendae hominum perfectioni natum.

Qua posita iurium et officiorum terminatione, omnino liquet esseliberos ad res suas gerendas rectores civitatum: idque non modo non invita, sed plane adiuvante Ecclesia: quae quoniam maxime praecipit ut colatur pietas, quae est iustitia adversus Deum, hoc ipso ad iustitiam vocat erga principes. Verum longe nobiliore instituto potestas sacra eo spectat, ut regat hominum animos tuendo regnum Dei et iustitiam eius (Matth, VII 33), atque in hoc tota versatur. Dubitari vero salva fide non potest, istiusmodi regimen animorum Ecclesiae esse assignatum uni, nihil ut in eo sit politicae potestati loci: non enim Caesari, sed Petro claves regni caelorum Iesus Christus commendavit. — Cum hac de rebus politicis deque religiosis doctrina quaedam alia coniunguntur non exigui momenti, de quibus silere hoc loco nolumus.

Ab omni politico genere imperii distat christiana respublica plurimum. Quod si similitudinem habet conformationemque regni, profecto originem, caussam, naturam mortalibus regnis habet longe disparem. — Ius est igitur, vivere Ecclesiam tuerique se consentaneis naturae suae institutis ac legibus. Eademque cum non modo societas perfecta sit, sed etiam humana quavis societate superior, sectari partium studia et mutabilibus rerum civilium nexibus servire iure officioque suo valde recusat. Similique ratione custos iuris sui, observantissima alieni, non ad se putat Ecclesia pertinere, quae maxime forma civitatis placeat, quibus institutis res christianarum gentium civilis geratur : ex variisque reipublicae generibus nullum non probat, dum religio morumque disciplina salva sit. — Ad hoc exemplum cogitationes actionesque dirigi singulorum christianorum oportet. Non dubium est, quin quaedam sit in genere politico honesta contentio, cum scilicet incolumi veritate iustitiaque certatur, ut opiniones re usuque valeant, quae ad commune bonum prae ceteris conducibiles videantur. Sed Ecclesiam trahere ad partes, aut omnino adiutricem velle ad eos, quibuscum contenditur, superandos, hominum est religione intemperanter abutentium. Ex adverso sancta atque inviolata apud omnes debet esse religio: imo in ipsa disciplina civitatum, quae a legibus morum officiisque religionis separari non potest, hoc est potissimum perpetuoque spectandum, quid maxime expediat christiano nomini : quod ipsum sicubi in periculo esse adversariorum opera videatur, cessandum ab omni dissidio, et concordibus animis et consiliis propugnatio ac defensio suscipienda religionis, quod est commune bonum maximum, quo sunt omnia referenda. — Idque opus esse ducimus aliquanto exponere accuratius.

Profecto et Ecclesia et civitas suum habet utraque principatum : proptereaque in gerendis rebus suis neutra paret alteri, utique intra terminos a proxima cuiusque caussa constitutos. Ex quo tamen nulla ratione disiunctas esse sequitur, multoque minus pugnantes. — Sane non tantum nobis ut essemus natura dedit, sed ut morati essemus. Quare a tranquillitate ordinis publici, quam proxime habet civilis coniunctio propositam, hoc petit homo, ut bene sibi esse liceat, ac multo magis ut satis praesidii ad perficiendos mores suppeditet: quae perfectio nusquam nisi in cognitione consistit atque exercitatione virtutis. Simul vero vult, id quod debet, adiumenta in Ecclesia reperire, quorum ope pietatis perfectae perfecto fungatur munere: quod in cognitione usuque positum est verae religionis, quae princeps est virtutum, propterea quod, revocando ad Deum, explet et cumulat universas. — In instituas igitur legibusque sanciendis spectanda hominis indoles est moralis eadem ac religiosa, eiusdemque curanda perfectio, sed recte atque ordine: nec imperandum vetandumve quidquam nisi ratione habita quid civili hominum societati sit, quid religiosae, propositum. Hac ipsa de caussa non potest Ecclesiae non interesse quales in civitatibus valeant leges, non quatenus ad rempublicam pertinent, sed quia fines debitos aliquando praetergressae in ius Ecclesiae invadunt. Quin imo resistere, si quando officiat religioni disciplina reipublicae, studioseque conari, ut in leges et instituta populorum virtus pervadat Evangelii, munus est Ecclesiae assignatum a Deo. Quoniamque fortuna reipublicae potissimum ex eorum pendet ingenio qui populo praesunt, idcirco Ecclesia patrocinium iis hominibus gratiamve praebere non potest, a quibus oppugnari sese intelligat, qui iura ipsius vereri aperte recusent, qui rem sacram remque civilem natura consociatas divellere contendant. Contra fautrix, uti debet, eorum est qui, cum de civili deque christiana republica quod sentire rectum est, ipsi sentiant, ambas in communi bono concordes elaborare volunt. — His praeceptis norma continetur, quam in publica actione vitae catholicum quemque necesse est sequi. Nimirum, ubicumque in negotiis publicis versari per Ecclesiam licet, favendum viris est spectatae probitatis, eisdemque de christiano nomine merituris: neque caussa esse ulla potest cur male erga religionem animatos licear anteponere.

Ex quo apparet quam sit magnum officium tueri consensum animorum, praesertim cum per hoc tempus tanta consiliorum calliditate christianum oppugnetur nomen. Quotquot diligenter studuerint Ecclesiae adhaerescere, quae est columna et firmamentum veritatis, (I Timoth. III, 15) facile cavebunt magistros mendaces... Ubertatem illis promittentes, cum ipsi servi sint corruptionis; (II Petr. n, 1, 19): quin imo ipsius Ecclesiae virtutis participes futuri, insidias sapientia Vincent, vim fortitudine. — Non est huius loci exquirere, num quid, et quantum ad novas res contulerit opera segnior atque intestina discordia catholicorum: sed certe erant homines nequam minus habituri audaciae, nec tantas edituri ruinas, si robustior in plurimorum animis viguisset fides, quae per caritatem operatur ( Galat. v, 6), neque tam late morum christianorum tradita nobis divinitus disciplina concidisset. Utinam praeteritae res hoc pariant, recordando, commodi, rectius sapere in posterum.

Verum ad negotia publica accessuris duo sunt magnopere vitia fugienda, quorum alterum prudentiae nomen usurpat, alterum in temeritate versatur. Quidam enim potenti pollentique improbitas aperte resistere negant oportere, ne forte hostiles animos certamen exa speret. Isti quidem pro Ecclesia stent, an contra, incertum: quandoquidem profiteri se doctrinam catholicam affirmant, sed tamen vellent, certas ab ea discrepantes opiniones impune propagari posse Ecclesia sineret. Ferunt dolenter interitum fidei demutationemque morum : nihil tamen de remedio laborant, vel etiam nimia indulgentia aut perniciosa quadam simulatione non raro malum augent. Iidem de sua in apostolicam Sedem voluntate nemini volunt esse dubium: sed habent semper aliquid, quod pontifici succenseant. Istiusmodi hominum prudentia ex eo est genere, quod a Paulo Apostolo sapientia carnis et mors animi appellatur, quia nec subest legi divinae, nec potest subesse (Sapientia carnis inimica est Deo: legi enim Dei non est subiecta: nec enim potest. Rom. vili. 6, 7). Nihil autem minus est ad malaminuenda providum. Inimicis enim, quod praedicare et in quo gloriari multi eorum non dubitant, hoc est omnino propositum, religionem catholicam, quae vera sola est, funditus, si fieri posset, extinguere. Tali autem consilio nihil non audent: sentiunt enim, quo magis fuerit aliorum tremefacta virtus, eo sibi expeditiorem fore malarum rerum facultatem. Itaque qui adamant prudentiam carnis, ac nescire se simulant, christianum quemque debere bonum militem Christi esse: qui debita victoribus praemia consequi modissima via atque intacti a certamine volunt, ii tantum abest ut iter malorum intercipiant, ut potius expédiant.

Contra non pauci fallaci studio permoti, aut, quod magis esset vitio, aliud agentes, aliud simulantes, non suas sibi partes assumunt. Res in Ecclesia geri suo ipsorum iudicio atque arbitratu vellent usque eo, ut omne quod secus agitur, moleste ferant, aut repugnanter accipiant. Hi quidem inani contentione laborant, nihilo minus, quam alteri, reprehendendi. Hoc enim est non sequi potestatem legitimam, sed praevertere, simulque magistratuum munia ad privatos rapere, magna cum perturbatione ordinis, quem Deus in Ecclesia sua perpetuo servandum constituit, nec sinit a quoquam impune violari. — Illi optime, qui descendere in certamen, quotiescumque est opus, non recusant, hoc rato persuasoque, interituram vim iniustam, sanctitatique iuris et religionis aliquando cessuram. Qui videntur sane dignum aliquid antiqua virtute suscipere, cum tueri religionem connituntur maxime adversus factionem audacissimam, christiano nomini exagitando natam, quae Pontificem maximum in suam redactum potestatem consectari hostiliter non desistit: sed obedientiae studium diligenter retinent, nihil aggredi iniussu soliti. Iamvero quoniam similis obtemperandi voluntas, robusto animo constantiaeque coniuncta, christianis universis est necessaria, ut, quoscumque casus tempus invexerit, in nullo sint deficientes (Iac. i, 4), magnopere velimus in singulorum animis alte insidere eam, quam Paulus (Rom. VIII, 6) prudentiam spiritus nominat. Haec enim in moderandis actionibus humanis sequitur optimam mediocritatis regulam, illud in homine efficiens, ne aut timide desperet propter ignaviam, aut nimis confidat propter temeritatem.


— Est autem quod differat inter prudentiam politicam, quae ad bonum commune, et eam quae ad bonum cuiusque privatim pertinet. Haec enim cernitur in hominibus privatis, qui consilio rectaeque rationi obediunt in gubernatione sui: illa vero in praepositis, maximeque in principibus, quorum muneris est cum potestate praeesse: ita quidem ut politica privatorum prudentia in hoc videatur tota consistere, legitimae potestatis iussa fideliter exequi (Prudentia in ratione est; regere autem et gubernare proprie rationis est; et ideo unusquisque inquantum participat de regimine et gubernatione, intantum convenit sibi habere rationem et prudentiam. Manifestum est autem quod subditi, inquantum est subditus, et servi, inquantum est servus, non est regere et gubernare, sed magis regi et gubernari. Et ideo prudentia non est virtus servi, inquantum est servus, nec subditi, inqicantum est subditus. Sed quia quilibet homo inquantum est rationalis, participat aliquid de regimine secundum arbitrium rationis, intantum convenit ei prudentiam hahere. Unde manifestum est quod prudentia quidem in principe est ad modum artis architectonicae, ut dicitur in VI Ethicorum; in subditis autem ad modum artis manu operantis. S. Thom. II-II, Quaest. XLVII, art. XII. ). Haec dispositio atque hic ordo tanto magis valere in christiana republica debet, quanto Pontificis politica prudentia plura complectitur: eius enim est non solum regere Ecclesiam, sed generatim civium christianorum actiones ita ordinare, ut cum spe adipiscendae salutis aeternae apte congruant. Ex quo apparet, praeter summam sententiarum concordiam et factorum, necesse esse politicam potestatis ecclesiasticae observare in agendo sapientiam. Iamvero christianae rei administratio proxime et secundum Pontificem romanum ad Episcopos pertinet: qui scilicet, quamquam pontificalis fastigium potestatis non attingunt, sunt tamen in ecclesiastica hierarchia veri principes; cumque singulas Ecclesias singuli administrent, sunt quasi principales artifices... in aedificio spirituali (S. Thom. Quodlib. I. art. XIV), atque habent munerum adiutores, ac ministros consiliorum Clericos. Ad hanc Ecclesiae constitutionem, quam nemo mortalium mutare potest, actio est accommodanda vitae. Propterea quemadmodum Episcopis necessaria est cum Apostolica Sede in gerendo episcopatu coniunctio, ita clericos laicosque oportet cum Episcopis suis coniunctissime vivere, agere. — Ipsorum quidem Antistitum utique potest esse aliquid aut minus laudabile in moribus, aut in sententiis non probabile: sed nemo privatus arroget sibi personam iudicis, quam Christus Dominus illi imposuit uni, quem agnis atque ovibus praefecit. Memoria quisque teneat sapientissimam Gregorii magni sententiam: Admonendi sunt subditi, ne praepositorum suorum vitam temere iudieent, si quid eos fortasse agere reprehensibiliter vident, ne unde mala recte redarguunt, inde per elationis impulsum in profundiora mergantur. Admonendi sunt, ne eum culpas praepositorum considerant, contra eos audaciores fiant, sed sic, si qua valde sunt eorum prava, apud semetipsos diiudicent, ut tamen divino timore constricti ferre sub eis iugum reverentiae non recusent.... Facta quippe praepositorum oris gladio ferienda non sunt, etiam eum recte reprehendenda iudicantur (Reg. Pastor. P. III, cap. IV).

Verumtamen parum sunt conata profutura, nisi ad virtutum christianarum disciplinam vita instituatur. — Illa est sacrarum Litterarum de Iudaeorum genere sententia: Usque dum non peccarent in conspectu Dei sui, erant eum illis bona: Deus enim illorum odit iniquitatem.... Cum recessissent a via, quam dederat illis Deus, ut ambularent in ea, exterminati sunt praeliis a multis nationibus (Iudith V, 21, 22). Atqui inchoatam formam populi christiani gerebat Iudaeorum natio: atque in veteribus eorum casibus saepe imago inerat veritatis futurae: nisi quod longe maioribus beneficiis auxit nos atque ornavit divina benignitas, ob eamque rem ingrati animi crimen multo efficit christianorum graviora delicta.

Ecclesia quidem nullo tempore nulloque modo deseritur a Deo: quae nihil est, quod sibi ab hominum scelere metuat: at vero degenerantibus a christiana virtute nationibus non eadem potest esse securitas. Miseros enim facit populos peccatum (Proverb. XIV, 34). — Cuius vim veritatemque sententiae si omnis retro experta est aetas, quid est caussae quamobrem nostra non experiatur? Imo debitas iam instare poenas, permulta declarant, idemque status ipse confirmat civitatum; quarum plures videlicet intestinis malis attritas, nullam ab omni parte tutam videmus. Quod si improborum factiones institutum iter audacter perrexerint: si evenerit iis ut, quemadmodum grassantur malis artibus et peiore proposito, sic opibus potentiaque invalescant, metuendum sane ne totas civitates a fundamentis, quae posuit natura, convenant. — Neque vero prohiberi tantae formidines sola hominum ope possunt, praesertim quia multitudo ingens, fide christiana reiecta, iustas superbiae poenas in hoc luit, quod veritatem obcaecata cupiditatibus frustra conquirit, falsa pro veris amplexatur, sibique videtur sapere cum vocat malum bonum, et bonum malum, ponens tenebras lucem, et lucem tenebras (Is. V, 20). Igitur Deus intersit, ac benignitatis suae memor civilem hominum societatem respiciat necesse est. Quamobrem, quod vehementer alias hortati sumus, singulari studio constantiaque enitendum, ut clementia divina obsecratione humili exoretur, virtutesque, quibus efficitur vita christiana, revocentur. — Imprimis autem excitanda ac tuenda caritas est, quae praecipuum vitae christianae firmamentum continet, et sine qua aut nullae omnino sunt, aut fructu vacuae virtutes. Idcirco beatus Paulus Colossenses adhortatus, ut vitium omne defugerent, vanamque virtutum laudem consecrentur, illud subiicit, super omnia autem haec caritatem habete, quod est vinculum perfectionis (Coloss, III, 14). Vere vinculum est perfectionis caritas, quia quos complexa est, cum Deo ipso intime coniungit, perficitque ut vitam animae hauriant a Deo, cum Deo agant, ad Deum referant. Debet vero caritas Dei cum caritate proximorum consociari, quia infinitam Dei bonitatem homines participant, eiusque gerunt in se expressam imaginem atque formam. Hoc mandatum habemus a Deo, ut qui diligit Deum, diligat et fratrem suum (I. Io. IV, 21). Si quis dixerit, quoniam diligo Deum, et fratrem suum oderit, mendax est (ib. 20). Atque hoc de caritate mandatum divinus eius lator novum nominavit, non quod diligere homines inter se non aliqua iam lex, aut ipsa natura iussisset, sed quia christianum hoc diligendi plane novum erat atque in omni memoria inauditum genus. Qua enim caritate Iesus Christus et diligitur a Patre suo et homines ipse diligit, eamdem impetravit alumnis ac sectatoribus suis, ut cor unum et anima una esse in ipso possent, sicut ipse et Pater unum natura sunt. Huius vis praecepti nemo ignorat quam alte in christianorum pectus a principio descenderit, et quales quantosque concordiae, benevolentiae mutuae, pietatis, patientiae, fortitudinis fructus attulerit. Quidni opera detur exemplis maiorum imitandis? Tempora ipsa non exiguos admovent ad caritatem stimulos. Renovantibus impiis adversus Iesum Christumodia, instauranda christianis pietas est, magnarumque rerum effectrix renovanda caritas. Quiescant igitur, si qua sunt, dissidia: sileant certationes illae quidem, quae vires dimicantium dissipant, nec ullo modo religioni prosunt: colligatisque fide mentibus, caritate voluntatibus, in Dei atque hominum amore, ut aequum est, vita degatur.

Locus admonet hortari nominatim patresfamilias, ut his praeceptis et domos gubernare studeant, et liberos mature instituere. Initia reipublicae familia complectitur, magnamque partem alitur intra domesticos parietes fortuna civitatum. Idcirco qui has divellere ab institutis christianis volunt, consilia a stirpe exorsi, corrumpere societatem domesticam maturant. A quo eos scelere nec cogitatio deterrei, id quidem nequaquam fieri sine summa parentum iniuria posse: natura enim parentes habent ius suum instituendi, quos procrearint, hoc adiuncto officio, ut cum fine, cuius gratia sobolem Dei beneficio susceperunt, ipsa educatio conveniat et doctrina puerilis. Igitur parentibus est necessarium eniti et contendere, ut omnem in hoc genere propulsent iniuriam, omninoque pervincant ut sua in potestate sit educere liberos, uti par est, more christiano, maximeque prohibere scholis iis, a quibus periculum est ne malum venenum imbibant impietatis. Cum de fingenda probe adolescentia agitur, nulla opera potest nec labor suscipi tantus, quin etiam sint suscipienda maiora. In quo sane digni omnium admiratione sunt catholici ex variis gentibus complures, qui suas erudiendis pueris scholas magno sumptu, maiore constantia para vere. Aemulari salutare exemplum, ubicumque postulare videantur tempora, decet; sed positum sit imprimis, omnino in puerorum animis plurimum institutionem domesticam posse. Si adulescens aetas disciplinam vitae probam, virtutumque christianarum tamquam palaestram domi repererit, magnum praesidium habitura salus est civitatum.

Attigisse iam videmur, quas maxime res hoc tempore sequi, quas fugere catholici homines debeant. — Reliquum est, idque vestrarum est partium, Venerabiles Fratres, curare ut vox Nostra quacumque pervadat, omnesque intelligant quanti referat ea, quae his litteris persecuti sumus, reipsa efficere. Horum officiorum non potest molesta et gravis esse custodia, quia iugum Iesu Christi suave est, et onus eius leve. — Si quid tamen difficilius factu videatur, dabitis auctoritate exemploque operam, ut acrius quisque intendat invictumque praestet a difficultatibus animum. Ostendite, quod saepius ipsi monuimus, in periculo esse prestantissima, ac summe expetenda bona: pro quorum conservatione omnes esse patibiles labores putandos; ipsisque laboribus tantam remunerationem fore, quantam christiane acta vita maximam parit. Alioqui propugnare pro Christo nolle, oppugnare est; ipse autem testatur (Luc, IX, 2-6,), negaturum se coram Patre suo in caelis, quotquot ipsum coram hominibus profiteri in terris recusarint. — Ad Nos quod attinet, vosque universos, numquam profecto, dum vita suppetat, commissuri sumus, ut auctoritas, consilium, opera Nostra quoquo modo in certamine desideretur. Neque est dubium, cum gregi, tum pastoribus singularem Dei opem, quoad debellatum erit, adfuturam. Qua erecti fiducia, caelestium munerum auspicem, benevolentiaeque Nostrae tamquam pignus Vobis, Venerabiles Fratres, et Clero populoque universo, quibus singuli praeestis, apostolicam benedictionem peramanter in Domino impertimus.


Datum Romae apud S. Petrum die 10 Ianuarii An. 1890. Pontificatus Nostri Duodecimo.

Top Button returning honored reader to top of page LEO PP. XIII.