Talk:Syllabus of Errors

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Request[edit]

Request for the inclusion of a link to the original latin text. (someone, please put this where it belongs -- I have no clue -- and then remove this notice)

"Thus it was asserted that no critical response to the Syllabus itself could be valid."

Who asserted that? Newman, Hales, and others argue that no critical response to the Syllabus which ignored the original documents and their context could be valid, and they argued that some specific interpretations were wrong because they ignored specific circumstances of specific source documents - but that is not the same as what is asserted above. --Jim Henry 21:06, 18 Feb 2005 (UTC)

No, the following is actually the assertion that is unsourced:"Apologists for the Roman Catholic Church assert that the Syllabus was widely misinterpreted by readers who did not have access to or did not bother to check the original documents to which it was an index." The assertion "Thus it was asserted that no critical response to the Syllabus itself could be valid" is intended as no more than a logical extension of the stated position: it clarifies the tactic that is being used, not to Jim Henry's satisfaction. Perhaps Jim Henry would rephrase this, to make the tactic even clearer.
I've changed the unsourced and unclear statements you mention to:
"Catholic apologists such as Félix Dupanloup and John Henry Newman said that the Syllabus was widely misinterpreted ....."
and
"Thus it was asserted that no critical response to the Syllabus which did not take the cited documents and their context into account could be valid (Newman 1874)."
Is that better? (Newman wasn't made a cardinal until some years after his 1874 rebuttal of Gladstone.) --Jim Henry 22:01, 21 Feb 2005 (UTC)
And Wikipedia needs to report Cardinal Newman and Hales saying that the Syllabus could not stand on its own, that it needed "the source documents and their context" in order to be rebutted. A quote and a reference would make the tactical position of such self-confessed apologists clearer. The original edit flatly asserted the Papal position, that the Syllabus was "misinterpreted"; though it is the official position of the Papal Curia and of Jim Henry, that is moot. Neutral observers are perfectly justified in drawing simple conclusions from the wording of this document, Papal apologists to the contrary notwithstanding. I have recently added some further wording of the Syllabus to the article. --Wetman
I suspected that my original edit may have had some pro-Catholic bias, said so in the comment to my edit, and asked for review from non-Catholics; see the article history. At first I objected to the tone of your recent revisions as not entirely NPOV - you seemed to be exaggerating the position taken by Dupanloup, Newman, and Hales (and incidentally myself). On further thought, and re-reading, I think I understand your position better. Did you mean that they (Newman et al.) asserted that no criticism of the Syllabus in isolation could be valid? If so, our disagreement was merely verbal - I meant much the same thing, but misunderstood you. (I am relying on the summary in Hales 1954, and briefer summaries on a couple of French websites, for Dupanloup's argument; I could not find an etext.)
If you still think the article has serious problems after my last edit, maybe we should add a {{NPOV}} tag and leave it there until we reach some consensus about how to express these things. --Jim Henry 22:01, 21 Feb 2005 (UTC)
Not on my behalf, please. I've rarely seen that label honestly used. It's a sad subject, but I think it's more justly treated now. If we can keep the text in the article (see below). --Wetman 06:51, 1 Mar 2005 (UTC)


Vandalism[edit]

An anonymous User:67.180.61.179 is erasing blocks of text as "edited" under the justification "to make it easier for a total newbie to read". The User bears close watching. --Wetman 06:44, 1 Mar 2005 (UTC)

I disagree with some of the edits -- I think this revision is a misleading oversimplification of the issues. But I hesitate to assume vandalism. I only noticed one paragraph that was simply deleted rather than moved: the part about John Henry Newman's Letter to the Duke of Norfolk. I'll assume that was unintentional until this anonymous user says otherwise; it's easy to lose track of something when you're cutting and pasting several large blocks of text. Later today or later in the week, when I have time, I'll try to edit this some more to fix the oversimplifications and restore the deleted stuff while hopefully making it not too difficult for a "total newbie". --Jim Henry 15:38, 1 Mar 2005 (UTC)
I was the one who made the edits. Previously, it seemed to be that much of the article was devoted to lots of quotes and arguments from people like Newman who attempted to "explain away" the contraversial elements of the syllabus. This is fine but this needed to be placed in its proper heading and a balanced array of quotes from other catholics fully supporting the contraversial implied teachings, and finally catholics explicitly disagreeing with them, need to be included. (Anonymously contributed from User:67.180.61.179)
Fine - add more quotes of the kind you describe, if you can find them. But I don't think you will, in fact, find many Catholics "fully supporting the contraversial [sic] implied teachings", if you mean e.g. the idea that disestablishing the church is always bad (rather than merely being, as a look at the context of the cited encyclicals would show, not always good). It's easy enough to find Catholics explicitly disagreeing with the broad construal of the condemnations that Gladstone et alia drew; I've already cited two. For those disagreeing with the condemnations even in the stricter sense in which they were intended, you might quote Lammenais, though he had left the Church by this time, or Lord Acton. (If the Church, or Pius IX personally, really thought disestablishment and freedom of religion always a bad thing, they would have had something sharp to say about Maryland under Lord Baltimore, or New York under James Duke of York, or the United States - not just the anticlerical governments of Italy, Spain and France, whose actions were criticised or condemned in the encyclicals and allocutions cited by the Syllabus.)
But your edits were, as I said above, an oversimplification of the issues, and you deleted some important information in the process of extensively rewriting some paragraphs. Please try to be more careful in the future. --Jim Henry 20:41, 2 Mar 2005 (UTC)

"That the State must be separated from the Church is a thesis absolutely false, a most pernicious error. " "We owe God, therefore, not only a private cult, but a public and social worship to honor Him" - St. Pius X.

"Seem"[edit]

How does the Syllabus of Errors seem to condemn freedom of religion, freedom of speech, and separation of church and state? Isn't that like saying that the Declaration of Independence seems to declare the United States to be a separate country from Great Britain? That is its point — that these ideas are wrong and anti-Christian. While the validity of this is disputed by many (including myself), aren't we being overly politically correct here by saying that this docuemnt only "seems" to do this? It does so, whether we of a more modern era like it or not. Rlquall 11:24, 16 Apr 2005 (UTC)

Correct me if I'm wrong, but for NPOV reasons we have to say this because of those Catholics who are embarassed by the work and attempt to water down what it says. With all the changes that have occoured both in many of the textual outputs of the church, combined with the statments of the church hierarchy, combined with what the people of the church generally believe, to go into further detail about who exactly believes what would be much more onerous then simply using the word "seem".

"Seem" is Right[edit]

To Rlquall
I'm not surprised that Propositon 55 seems wrong to you. Many people, both Catholic and non-Catholic, today and yesterday, alike also feel the same way.
This is mainly because the Syllabus of Errors is a collection of "conclusive statements" instead of a detailed process of reasoning before arriving at a conclusion.
I would equate the "shock" you've received to the shock a person would have, waking up one morning and finding out that the street where he parked his car the previous night, now has a spanking brand new "NO PARKING" sign and a ticket with a hefty fine under the wiper blade. To the person in question, it would seems that a bunch of know-nothings from who-knows-where just destroyed his freedom to park his car.
In a perfect world, the municipal council would have taken the time out to drop by the person's home with a nice little PowerPoint presentation explaining how the street he was on was just too narrow to accept parking and still permit traffic to flow through smoothly, then repeat the process with every home in the neighbourhood. As you can see, such a scenario is extremely unlikely.
A more likely scenario would be that the municipal council just assumed that everyone on the street knew that traffic was a bitch and that if something was done, everyone would be happy.
A classic case of "Good Intentions, Poor Implementation."
Now let's take a look at Propositon 55. When read in non-Yoda-speech, Propositon 55 reads as:
The proposition that the Church ought to be separated from the State, and the State from the Church is condemned and anathematized.
Sounds pretty straight-forward, right?
Yes and no.
Yes to people in-the-know and no to people who have no prior explanation.
It may come as a shock to some people, but the Pope doesn't sit around with a Piña Colada in hand, thinking up new ways for Catholics to be different from everyone else. If you can accept this premise, then you can accept that all ex cathedra pronouncements have some logic behind them.

(Still writing... just saving then editing...)


El Caudillo 10:52, 26 December 2005 (UTC)

"Seeming right" and "seeming wrong" are red herrings, of course. Such casuistry aside, Wikipedia needn't insert "seem" where the Syllabus of Errors actually says. Direct quotes are uncontrovertible. The article quite rightly doesn't stray as far from the text as the above. --Wetman 11:00, 26 December 2005 (UTC)

An interpretation I read is you add something like "It is not correct" at the beginning of each. After all rejecting something doesn't mean accepting it's total opposite. For example I reject the statement "murderers should always be executed", but this doesn't mean I'm opposed to the death penalty. In fact I'm for the death for some murderers, but not for others. Case by case deal. So I could reject the statement "the Church ought to be separated from the State, and the State from the Church" and in a way I suppose I do. There are nations that have an established Church, like England and they seem to do okay. Although some Papal statements seem to go against this the Catholic Church still clearly believes Catholicism can be the state religion if that is what the state so desires. Vatican City is a Catholic theocracy. It has relations with many nations and therefore it is not separated from those states. The statement that the Church must be separated from the State, as in all states, is obviously not abrogated then. If it was the Vatican could not exist or have diplomatic relations with other nations.--T. Anthony 12:50, 22 May 2006 (UTC)


“Declared to be heretical”?[edit]

“Declared to be heretical” is simply false, except for a few of the propositions: one has only to see Denzinger’s “Enchiridion symbolorum ...”, or to read the text of the “Syllabus” itself, to understand that. The intention of Pius IX was to damn all the propositions, but with very different “notae”, or forms of damnation.

Only one who hasn’t got the faintest idea of Catholic theology (and of Catholic canon law) can defend, as “more accurate”, the thesis that all the propositions were declared to be heretical by the pope. Please notice: I don’t blame anybody for ignoring things: I myself am very ignorant in thousands of fields! But I’m blaming people who, though they’re clearly ignorant in a certain field, nevertheless think they have the right to make dogmatic assertions, add, delete, write, comment, whatever...

This is the problem with “Wikipedia”: one may find useful information, but it’s generally unreliable, because just everybody – even I! – can write whatever he wants to write.

I think I should stop writing here: we should rather study.


I don't know who wrote the above, but I actually made the change described, and I have degrees in both Theology and Canon Law, and I teach in a faculty of ecclesiastical history. That doesn't automatically mean that what I say must be right, but an unsigned accusation that nobody but yourself has the "faintest idea of Catholic theology) is, ummm, unfounded, uncharitable, innaccurate, self-important and silly. You want to play semantic games? A proposition cannot be "damned," only a person can be, and then only by God -- damnatio means condemned in the technical sense, not damned in the usual English sense. Denziger's enchiridion is not a compilation of findings of heresy, it is a compilation of "symbols" in the technical sense of creeds, otherwise it would have to contain every decision of the CDF, or the old HO, to be complete. I'm not a fan of the Syllabus, but there are a lot of theologians who historically took as the probabiliorist position that the Syllabus contained in and of itself an authentic Petrine teaching, and hence a declaration of doctrine, and hence an implicit declaration of heresy. Probabilists of the time held that the contents of the Syllabus relied only on the original source -- allocution, encyclical, etc. -- for the weight of their authenticity (hence Newman). If your argument is that a better phrasing would be "condemned as erroneous," I'll buy that as a good technical clarification, but please, sign your comments and do not dismiss the rest of the world as ignoramuses when compared to yourself.HarvardOxon 04:50, 8 June 2006 (UTC)


Sorry. I didn’t mean to hurt either you or anybody else, and I apologize for myself. When I wrote I was in a very bad mood, for personal reasons, and I took it out on you: sorry.
You’re also right that I should have signed my comment: I’m Tom Hope.
“Damned” was not perhaps good English: it may be, because English is not my mother tongue. So, “to condemn”, all right (“propositiones damnatae” in Latin, “condemned propositions” in English): that’s what I meant.
Denzinger’s “Enchiridion” is not only a collection of symbols, i. e. creeds: it’s a collection of important documents of the ecclesiastical magisterium: the full title reads (at least in Schönmetzer’s edition, the one that I have) “Enchiridion symbolorum, definitionum et declarationum de rebus fidei et morum”, “A handbook of symbols, definitions and declarations in matters of faith and morals”. Admittedly, it isn’t complete (but it could hardly be).
So, the intention of the bl. Pius IX was to assemble a collection (syllabus) of condemned propositions (of propositions that he had already condemned): all right. But the point is: what kind of condemnation?
As you’re a theologian (and a canonist), you will be familiar with the fact that, traditionally, such authoritative collections of condemned propositions (take for instance the bull Auctorem fidei of Pius VI, or the propositions of laxist moralists damned by the bl. Innocent XI, or the famous five propositions of Jansenius, or those of Michael Baius) use a wide range of words or phrases to express a condemnation: a proposition may be “falsa” (simply “false”), “male sonans” (meaning “it doesn’t sound well” – but the proposition might be true, if understood in a certain way), “piarum aurium offensiva” (“offensive to pious ears”, i.e. the ears of simple people – again, in itself the proposition can be defended, the point is that it’s ambiguous and might lead simple believers into error), etc. etc. – there are many of them; finally, it may be “haeresi proxima” (“near to heresy” – but not heretical itself: this has a special technical meaning, which it would be long to explain here), ..., or even – SOMETIMES!!! – “haeretica”: the most grievous of all the damnations, of course. (I remember there’s a good analytical explanation of the meaning of these “notae” in the “Dictionnaire de théologie catholique”: I’m not sure, but I think the title of the article was “Censures doctrinales”. For a summary, see [1].)
Sometimes the pope declared which “notae”, or forms of condemnation (“falsa”, “periculosa”, “temeraria”, “schismatica”, ...), he intended to append to each condemned proposition: one or more for each proposition. See an example here (in French; the original Latin text is in Denzinger-Schönmetzer). Sometimes he simply gave a list of “notae” that he intended to append to the propositions taken “in globo”, i. e. as a whole: for example, the “Unigenitus” condemned the 101 propositions of Quesnel as “false, captious, ill-sounding, offensive to pious ears, scandalous, pernicious, rash, injurious to the Church and its practices, contumelious to Church and State, seditious, impious, blasphemous, suspected and savouring of heresy, favouring heretics, heresy, and schism, erroneous, bordering on heresy, often condemned, heretical, and reviving various heresies, especially those contained in the famous propositions of Jansenius” “respectively” (“respective” – I found this translation in the “Catholic encyclopedia”): so, in this case the task of the theologian is to state which of these “notae” (one or more) is appropriate for each proposition “respective”. Sometimes the pope doesn’t declare the “notae” of the condemned propositions, not even “in globo”, and then the exegetical task of the theologian is even more important and difficult: this is the case with the Syllabus, if I’m not mistaken.
Furthermore, sometimes the propositions are condamned “in se”, i. e. “prout jacent”, in their objective meaning, sometimes “in sensu ab auctore intento”, “in the sense meant by their author”: this distinction is very important (particularly, e. g., in the much debated case of Rosmini).
But I think I should stop. To make a long story short, it is always necessary, and important, to make a subtle and accurate work of interpretation. The theologian (or the historian, the canonist etc.) must answer, among others, these questions: 1) What does the condemned proposition (as such!) mean? – or in other words: What is the doctrine that the pope meant to condemn?; and – even more difficult, and more important: What is the doctrine that the pope indirectly meant to assert, by condemning the opposite proposition? 2) In what sense is a proposition condemned: is it false, only ambiguous, can it be defended in some senses...?
This work must be made for every proposition separately.
The exegetical task is extremely important, and is a duty of both intellectual honesty and charity. In bygone times, people used to write in-folio volumes of many hundreds of pages to debate such subjects. But we are currently living in a mass society, alas!, and we’ve forgotten all that.
One of the most important aspects of every cultural work is that everything must be placed in its historical setting, if we want to understand it. I don’t mean that in the relativistic sense of modernism (be reassured, I’m NOT modernist at all!): I mean that in a methodological sense, as a necessary and fundamental rule of every serious intellectual work.
In the case of the Syllabus, one has to consider – as it’s clear from the text itself – the propositions in the context of the documents from which they were excerpted, of their particular historical occasion, of their different degrees of doctrinal authoritativeness, of their object (which can be, sometimes, less linked to the “res fidei et morum”, and more to, e. g., contingent political matters), etc.
Take, for example, proposition 62: “The principle of non-intervention, as it is called, ought to be proclaimed and observed”. This condemnation had clearly its occasion in the political events of the 1860s (the Papal States, Napoleon III, Cavour, the unification of Italy...) As the proposition is in itself very general, it is false IN A SENSE that it’s the task of the exegete to determine (but it may be defended, I think, in other senses). But anyway: can you seriously say that one who holds this proposition is a heretic?!! That would mean:
1) That the following proposition: “The principle of non-intervention, as it is called, ought NOT to be proclaimed and observed” is a dogma of our faith, revealed by God. Isn’it absurd? Of course it is!
2) That one who “pertinaciter” holds, “sciens et volens”, the proposition 62 of the Syllabus is out of the Church, is in mortal sin, is in a state of damnation and will go to hell for all eternity unless he repents, cannot receive the sacraments, is excommunicated “latae sententiae”... (Admittedly, even in that case most people would be excused because of their ignorance; but this would be objectively true.) My goodness!
Now, please note: I’m not defending the proposition 62; what I say is only: 1) That we ought to distinguish, that in some senses the proposition is or may be true, but it certainly also has a false meaning, that must be rejected not only for philosophical, i. e. merely rational, reasons, but also for theological reasons, i. e. because of the authoritative (though in this case certainly NOT infallible!) teaching of the pope (what this false and condemned sense is, I won’t discuss here: this is only an example); 2) More important: that even understood in that false sense, the proposition is certainly not heretical (and, I beg your pardon, to say the opposite would be insane: I’m sure you don’t). For, heresy is a very grievous sin indeed, and we must be very cautious and prudent in saying that a certain doctrine is a heresy: otherwise, we risk to offend both men and God, and to avert thinking people from the true faith (that’s a “rationabile obsequium”, a “reasonable act of obedience”) and the true Church of Jesus Christ our Lord.
Now, take proposition 1: “There exists no supreme, all-wise, all-provident divine being, distinct from the universe, and God is identical with the nature of things, and is, therefore, subject to changes [...]” It’s obvious that one who holds such a doctrine is more than a heretic: he’s an infidel (a pantheist). (Here again, I’m not insulting anybody: only, one who thinks like that can’t be a Catholic, or even a Christian.)
So, to conclude: we MUST DISTINGUISH!
You seem to agree with those who say that “[...] the Syllabus contained in and of itself an authentic Petrine teaching, and hence a declaration of doctrine, and hence an implicit declaration of heresy”. The first and the second sentences are true (with some specifications), the third is false in its, excuse me, quite uncritical generalization (it is only true, apart from the adjective “implicit”, of SOME of the eighty propositions of the Syllabus); and your second “hence” offends both theology and logics, and grievously violates the good rules of every critical method.
Once more: please excuse me, also for my prolixity and obscureness; and for my bad English. Please bear for me, and, for Christ’s sake, pray for me: I do need your prayers, indeed. Thank you very much. Tom Hope

Subsequent History is a mess![edit]

It desperately needs some cleaning, as it is full of original research and speculation that doesn't belongs on Wikipedia. I thought I would make a comment here before wading into the text. Dominick (TALK) 12:49, 13 September 2011 (UTC)