Pope: To attract people more easily tone down teachings, relax severity… NOT.

xiii_leoRecently I read this quote from Pope Leo XIII’s 1899 Letter (sometimes called Encyclical, sometimes Apostolic) on the heresy of Americanism Testem benevolentiae:

The underlying principle of these new opinions [Americanism] is that, in order to more easily attract those who differ from her, the Church should shape her teachings more in accord with the spirit of the age and relax some of her ancient severity and make some concessions to new opinions. Many think that these concessions should be made not only in regard to ways of living, [discipline] but even in regard to doctrines which belong to the deposit of the faith. They contend that it would be opportune, in order to gain those who differ from us, to omit certain points of her teaching which are of lesser importance, and to tone down the meaning which the Church has always attached to them.

It does not need many words, beloved son, to prove the falsity of these ideas if the nature and origin of the doctrine which the Church proposes are recalled to mind. The Vatican Council [Vatican I] says concerning this point: “For the doctrine of faith which God has revealed has not been proposed, like a philosophical invention to be perfected by human ingenuity, but has been delivered as a divine deposit to the Spouse of Christ to be faithfully kept and infallibly declared. Hence that meaning of the sacred dogmas is perpetually to be retained which our Holy Mother, the Church, has once declared, nor is that meaning ever to be departed from under the pretense or pretext of a deeper comprehension of them.” – Constitutio de Fide Catholica, Chapter iv. [Which I couldn’t find on the Vatican website.]

Oddly, Testem benevolentiae is NOT listed on the Vatican website among the encyclicals or apostolic letters of this great, undervalued Pope.  HERE

One must wonder…. why?

But you can find it HERE and HERE.

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20 Responses to Pope: To attract people more easily tone down teachings, relax severity… NOT.

  1. introibo says:

    Testem Benevolentiae was very important and has never really been well accepted by the Church in the U.S. But wasn’t it an official letter by Leo XIII to Cardinal Gibbons (and the U.S. hierarchy) but not an encyclical as such?

  2. ChrisRawlings says:

    ‘The Beatitudes of Jesus are new and revolutionary. They present a model of happiness contrary to what is usually communicated by the media and by the prevailing wisdom. A worldly way of thinking finds it scandalous that God became one of us and died on a cross! According to the logic of this world, those whom Jesus proclaimed blessed are regarded as useless, “losers”. What is glorified is success at any cost, affluence, the arrogance of power and self-affirmation at the expense of others.

    Jesus challenges us, young friends, to take seriously his approach to life and to decide which path is right for us and leads to true joy. This is the great challenge of faith. Jesus was not afraid to ask his disciples if they truly wanted to follow him or if they preferred to take another path (cf. Jn 6:67). Simon Peter had the courage to reply: “Lord, to whom shall we go? You have the words of eternal life” (Jn 6:68). If you too are able to say “yes” to Jesus, your lives will become both meaningful and fruitful.’

    – Pope Francis, Message for World Youth Day, 2014

  3. SimonDodd says:

    As introibo mentions, there’s a straightforward explanation why it isn’t listed by the Vatican website as an encyclical: Because it wasn’t an encyclical. It’s addressed to “[t]o Our Beloved Son, James Cardinal Gibbons, Cardinal Priest of the Title Sancta Maria, Beyond the Tiber, Archbishop of Baltimore.” Well, then, Why isn’t it listed under Leo XIII’s letters? If I had to guess it’s because they hadn’t gotten to it yet; almost none of Leo’s letters are there, and his is the earliest pontificate for which the site has any documents at all.

    Alas, the Vatican’s website is terrible and is getting worse with each “improvement” of late.

  4. Kathleen10 says:

    Isn’t that amazing. What prophetic words. Either the same old nonsense was going on in his day or he saw what was coming. He is speaking right to our current situation. I’m sure the contemporary change agents would just dismiss this, but it addresses perfectly what they are doing.

  5. Zephyrinus1 says:

    ” . . . Hence that meaning of the sacred dogmas is perpetually to be retained which our Holy Mother, the Church, has once declared, nor is that meaning ever to be departed from under the pretense or pretext of a deeper comprehension of them.” – Constitutio de Fide Catholica, Chapter iv. [Which I couldn’t find on the Vatican website.]”

    “Constitutio de Fide Catholica, Chapter iv” not listed on the Vatican website, eh ?

    QUELLE SURPRISE.

    “Oddly, Testem benevolentiae is NOT listed on the Vatican website among the encyclicals of this great, undervalued Pope”.

    “Testem Benevolentiae” also not listed on the Vatican website, eh ?

    QUELLE SURPRISE.

  6. Suburbanbanshee says:

    Yep, Italian sites seem to list it as an apostolic letter, not an encyclical. (It’s not on Vatican.va as an apostolic letter, either.)

  7. disco says:

    Creeping incrementalism in action.

  8. tcreek says:

    The Catholic Encyclopedia list this as “An Apostolic Letter of Leo XIII addressed to Cardinal Gibbons”.

  9. JustaSinner says:

    Does the new pope read? If so, maybe a Kwanzaa present of Testem Benevolentiae would be in order. Maybe we could give it to him when he’s in Cuba celebrating a Liberation Theology Mass (LTM) with Fidel and Raul…Obama WON’T be an altar boy though, you know, racism.

  10. Charles E Flynn says:

    This appears to be the encyclical, in English:

    Testem Benevolentiae Nostrae : Encyclical of Pope Leo XIII promulgated on January 22, 1899.

  11. Amateur Scholastic says:

    While we’re on the topic, why is the Vatican’s website so terrible? Is it deliberate?

  12. texsain says:

    Amateur Scholastic,

    This has been a mysterious issue for a long time. See here for example: https://wdtprs.com/2013/08/summorum-pontificum-finally-in-modern-languages-on-vatican-website-it-only-took-6-years/

  13. Bosco says:

    Funny the telling odour of some things that linger on the Vatican website while those things which are among the missing are just as telling for their absence.

  14. Cradle Catholic says:

    Here’s what Benedict XVI had to say about the role of the pope in a slim volume entitled “On Conscience”.

    “The true sense of the teaching authority of the pope consists in his being the advocate of the Christian memory. The pope does not impose from without. Rather, he elucidates the Christian memory and defends it”.

    Before the Synod of the Family this past October, this was my prayer for Pope Francis..that he gets a ‘true sense’ of his teaching authority, … and that he ” defends Christian memory”. It continues to be my prayer intention for the Synod in October of next year.

  15. Bosco says:

    Catholic News Agency, October 28, 2014 “Asia Bibi to Pope Francis: Pray for me, your daughter”

    Not one single word to date from Francis to save poor Asia Bibi from her Pakistani Islamic court-imposed death sentence but the Vatican weighs in (now loudly and publicly) to help Obama land a PR coup with Communist Cuba.

    http://www.catholicnewsagency.com/news/asia-bibi-to-pope-francis-pray-for-me-your-daughter-88374/

  16. The Cobbler says:

    I believe Chesterton said it best(here’s hoping I can quote it accurately from memory):

    First it must be remembered that the Church is always in advance of the world. That is why she is said to be behind the times. She discussed everything so long ago that people have forgotten the discussion.

  17. Fr_Sotelo says:

    What is this discussion is about? Is it about something Pope Francis said or something Pope Leo XIII said, or a comparison of the two? Is it based on this homily about the Pharisees which Pope Francis recently gave?

    Pope Francis says rigidity is a sign of a weak heart

  18. JJZ says:

    The Constitution De Fide Catholica, mentioned in Fr. Z’s post, is also available in English on the EWTN website:

    http://www.ewtn.com/library/COUNCILS/V1.htm

    Pope Leo’s quotation comes from chapter 4 (on faith and reason), though the translation of the Latin in the English version of Testem Benevolentiae differs slightly from the wording in the English translation of the dogmatic constitution.

  19. Suburbanbanshee says:

    The Vatican website has a ton of stuff available, but obviously they don’t receive tons of funding or help. I have a lot of questions about how big their servers are, especially now that they also provide some video. If we want more papal documents online and accurately digitized, it is probably a job for a big money donor or grant.

    However, it is really amazing how many laypeople, academics, government agencies, and library nerds around the world are happy to provide copies of important Catholic documents, or to digitize manuscripts and books outright. Also, the websites for the Vatican Library and the Archives are both doing amazing stuff with help from their grants and partnerships, so that every scholar and busybody in the world can see manuscripts and books for themselves.

    We live in a time of great wealth of knowledge.

  20. marcelus says:

    Last try.

    Fr_Sotelo says:
    18 December 2014 at 1:12 am
    What is this discussion is about? Is it about something Pope Francis said or something Pope Leo XIII said, or a comparison of the two? Is it based on this homily about the Pharisees which Pope Francis recently gave?

    Pope Francis says rigidity is a sign of a weak heart

    I’ve been trying to find that out too. It does not appear to have been said by PF.

    It only drives people into a frantic reaction