Given by His
Holiness Pope Saint Pius X
July 3, 1907
lamentable results, our age, casting aside all restraint in its search
for the ultimate causes of things, frequently pursues novelties so
ardently that it rejects the legacy of the human race. Thus it falls
into very serious errors, which are even more serious when they concern
sacred authority, the interpretation of Sacred Scripture, and the
principal mysteries of Faith. The fact that many Catholic writers also
go beyond the limits determined by the Fathers and the Church herself
is extremely regrettable. In the name of higher knowledge and
historical research (they say), they are looking for that progress of
dogmas which is, in reality, nothing but the corruption of dogmas.
These errors are being daily spread among the faithful. Lest they
captivate the faithful's minds and corrupt the purity of their faith,
His Holiness, Pius X, by Divine Providence, Pope, has decided that the
chief errors should be noted and condemned by the Office of this Holy
Roman and Universal Inquisition.
Therefore, after a very diligent investigation and consultation with
the Reverend Consultors, the Most Eminent and Reverend Lord Cardinals,
the General Inquisitors in matters of faith and morals have judged the
following propositions to be condemned and proscribed. In fact, by this
general decree, they are condemned and proscribed.
1. The ecclesiastical law which prescribes that books concerning the
Divine Scriptures are subject to previous examination does not apply to
critical scholars and students of scientific exegesis of the Old and
2. The Church's interpretation of the Sacred Books is by no means to be
rejected; nevertheless, it is subject to the more accurate judgment and
correction of the exegetes.
3. From the ecclesiastical judgments and censures passed against free
and more scientific exegesis, one can conclude that the Faith the
Church proposes contradicts history and that Catholic teaching cannot
really be reconciled with the true origins of the Christian religion.
4. Even by dogmatic definitions the Church's magisterium cannot
determine the genuine sense of the Sacred Scriptures.
5. Since the deposit of Faith contains only revealed truths, the Church
has no right to pass judgment on the assertions of the human sciences.
6. The "Church learning" and the "Church teaching" collaborate in such
a way in defining truths that it only remains for the "Church teaching"
to sanction the opinions of the "Church learning."
7. In proscribing errors, the Church cannot demand any internal assent
from the faithful by which the judgments she issues are to be embraced.
8. They are free from all blame who treat lightly the condemnations
passed by the Sacred Congregation of the Index or by the Roman
9. They display excessive simplicity or ignorance who believe that God
is really the author of the Sacred Scriptures.
10. The inspiration of the books of the Old Testament consists in this:
The Israelite writers handed down religious doctrines under a peculiar
aspect which was either little or not at all known to the Gentiles.
11. Divine inspiration does not extend to all of Sacred Scriptures so
that it renders its parts, each and every one, free from every error.
12. If he wishes to apply himself usefully to Biblical studies, the
exegete must first put aside all preconceived opinions about the
supernatural origin of Sacred Scripture and interpret it the same as
any other merely human document.
13. The Evangelists themselves, as well as the Christians of the second
and third generation, artificially arranged the evangelical parables.
In such a way they explained the scanty fruit of the preaching of
Christ among the Jews.
14. In many narrations the Evangelists recorded, not so much things
that are true, as things which, even though false, they judged to be
more profitable for their readers.
15. Until the time the canon was defined and constituted, the Gospels
were increased by additions and corrections. Therefore there remained
in them only a faint and uncertain trace of the doctrine of Christ.
16. The narrations of John are not properly history, but a mystical
contemplation of the Gospel. The discourses contained in his Gospel are
theological meditations, lacking historical truth concerning the
mystery of salvation.
17. The fourth Gospel exaggerated miracles not only in order that the
extraordinary might stand out but also in order that it might become
more suitable for showing forth the work and glory of the Word
18. John claims for himself the quality of witness concerning Christ.
In reality, however, he is only a distinguished witness of the
Christian life, or of the life of Christ in the Church at the close of
the first century.
19. Heterodox exegetes have expressed the true sense of the Scriptures
more faithfully than Catholic exegetes.
20. Revelation could be nothing else than the consciousness man
acquired of his revelation to God.
21. Revelation, constituting the object of the Catholic faith, was not
completed with the Apostles.
22. The dogmas the Church holds out as revealed are not truths which
have fallen from heaven. They are an interpretation of religious facts
which the human mind has acquired by laborious effort.
23. Opposition may, and actually does, exist between the facts narrated
in Sacred Scripture and the Church's dogmas which rest on them. Thus
the critic may reject as false facts the Church holds as most certain.
24. The exegete who constructs premises from which it follows that
dogmas are historically false or doubtful is not to be reproved as long
as he does not directly deny the dogmas themselves .
25. The assent of faith ultimately rests on a mass of probabilities .
26. The dogmas of the Faith are to be held only according to their
practical sense; that is to say, as preceptive norms of conduct and not
as norms of believing.
27. The divinity of Jesus Christ is not proved from the Gospels. It is
a dogma which the Christian conscience has derived from the notion of
28. While He was exercising His ministry, Jesus did not speak with the
object of teaching He was the Messias, nor did His miracles tend to
29. It is permissible to grant that the Christ of history is far
inferior to the Christ Who is the object of faith.
30 In all the evangelical texts the name "Son of God'' is equivalent
only to that of "Messias." It does not in the least way signify that
Christ is the true and natural Son of God.
31. The doctrine concerning Christ taught by Paul, John, and the
Councils of Nicea, Ephesus and Chalcedon is not that which Jesus taught
but that which the Christian conscience conceived concerning Jesus.
32. It is impossible to reconcile the natural sense of the Gospel texts
with the sense taught by our theologians concerning the conscience and
the infallible knowledge of Jesus Christ.
33 Everyone who is not led by preconceived opinions can readily see
that either Jesus professed an error concerning the immediate Messianic
coming or the greater part of His doctrine as contained in the Gospels
is destitute of authenticity.
34. The critics can ascribe to Christ a knowledge without limits only
on a hypothesis which cannot be historically conceived and which is
repugnant to the moral sense. That hypothesis is that Christ as man
possessed the knowledge of God and yet was unwilling to communicate the
knowledge of a great many things to His disciples and posterity.
35. Christ did not always possess the consciousness of His Messianic
36. The Resurrection of the Savior is not properly a fact of the
historical order. It is a fact of merely the supernatural order
(neither demonstrated nor demonstrable) which the Christian conscience
gradually derived from other facts.
37. In the beginning, faith in the Resurrection of Christ was not so
much in the fact itself of the Resurrection as in the immortal life of
Christ with God.
38. The doctrine of the expiatory death of Christ is Pauline and not
39. The opinions concerning the origin of the Sacraments which the
Fathers of Trent held and which certainly influenced their dogmatic
canons are very different from those which now rightly exist among
historians who examine Christianity .
40. The Sacraments have their origin in the fact that the Apostles and
their successors, swayed and moved by circumstances and events,
interpreted some idea and intention of Christ.
41. The Sacraments are intended merely to recall to man's mind the
ever-beneficent presence of the Creator.
42. The Christian community imposed the necessity of Baptism, adopted
it as a necessary rite, and added to it the obligation of the Christian
43. The practice of administering Baptism to infants was a disciplinary
evolution, which became one of the causes why the Sacrament was divided
into two, namely, Baptism and Penance.
44. There is nothing to prove that the rite of the Sacrament of
Confirmation was employed by the Apostles. The formal distinction of
the two Sacraments of Baptism and Confirmation does not pertain to the
history of primitive Christianity.
45. Not everything which Paul narrates concerning the institution of
the Eucharist (I Cor. 11:23-25) is to be taken historically.
46. In the primitive Church the concept of the Christian sinner
reconciled by the authority of the Church did not exist. Only very
slowly did the Church accustom herself to this concept. As a matter of
fact, even after Penance was recognized as an institution of the
Church, it was not called a Sacrament since it would be held as a
47. The words of the Lord, "Receive the Holy Spirit; whose sins you
shall forgive, they are forgiven them; and whose sins you shall retain,
they are retained'' (John 20:22-23), in no way refer to the Sacrament
of Penance, in spite of what it pleased the Fathers of Trent to say.
48. In his Epistle (Ch. 5:14-15) James did not intend to promulgate a
Sacrament of Christ but only commend a pious custom. If in this custom
he happens to distinguish a means of grace, it is not in that rigorous
manner in which it was taken by the theologians who laid down the
notion and number of the Sacraments.
49. When the Christian supper gradually assumed the nature of a
liturgical action those who customarily presided over the supper
acquired the sacerdotal character.
50. The elders who fulfilled the office of watching over the gatherings
of the faithful were instituted by the Apostles as priests or bishops
to provide for the necessary ordering of the increasing communities and
not properly for the perpetuation of the Apostolic mission and power.
51. It is impossible that Matrimony could have become a Sacrament of
the new law until later in the Church since it was necessary that a
full theological explication of the doctrine of grace and the
Sacraments should first take place before Matrimony should be held as a
52. It was far from the mind of Christ to found a Church as a society
which would continue on earth for a long course of centuries. On the
contrary, in the mind of Christ the kingdom of heaven together with the
end of the world was about to come immediately.
53. The organic constitution of the Church is not immutable. Like human
society, Christian society is subject to a perpetual evolution.
54. Dogmas, Sacraments and hierarchy, both their notion and reality,
are only interpretations and evolutions of the Christian intelligence
which have increased and perfected by an external series of additions
the little germ latent in the Gospel.
55. Simon Peter never even suspected that Christ entrusted the primacy
in the Church to him.
56. The Roman Church became the head of all the churches, not through
the ordinance of Divine Providence, but merely through political
57. The Church has shown that she is hostile to the progress of the
natural and theological sciences.
58. Truth is no more immutable than man himself, since it evolved with
him, in him, and through him.
59. Christ did not teach a determined body of doctrine applicable to
all times and all men, but rather inaugurated a religious movement
adapted or to be adapted to different times and places.
60. Christian Doctrine was originally Judaic. Through successive
evolutions it became first Pauline, then Joannine, finally Hellenic and
61. It may be said without paradox that there is no chapter of
Scripture, from the first of Genesis to the last of the Apocalypse,
which contains a doctrine absolutely identical with that which the
Church teaches on the same matter. For the same reason, therefore, no
chapter of Scripture has the same sense for the critic and the
62. The chief articles of the Apostles' Creed did not have the same
sense for the Christians of the first ages as they have for the
Christians of our time.
63. The Church shows that she is incapable of effectively maintaining
evangelical ethics since she obstinately clings to immutable doctrines
which cannot be reconciled with modern progress.
64. Scientific progress demands that the concepts of Christian doctrine
concerning God, creation, revelation, the Person of the Incarnate Word,
and Redemption be re-adjusted.
65. Modern Catholicism can be reconciled with true science only if it
is transformed into a non-dogmatic Christianity; that is to say, into a
broad and liberal Protestantism.
The following Thursday, the fourth day of the same month and year, all
these matters were accurately reported to our Most Holy Lord, Pope Pius
X. His Holiness approved and confirmed the decree of the Most Eminent
Fathers and ordered that each and every one of the above-listed
propositions be held by all as condemned and proscribed.
Attested to by Peter Palombelli, Notary of the Holy Roman and Universal