Quanta cura

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Quanta cura was a papal encyclical that was prompted by the September Convention of 1864 agreement between the then newly emerging Kingdom of Italy and the Second French Empire of Napoleon III. France had previously occupied Rome with French troops in order to prevent the Kingdom of Italy from defeating the Papal States with the Capture of Rome, thereby blocking an Italian military action that would complete the unification of the Kingdom of Italy on the Italian Peninsula. While viewed a necessary component of Italian Unification by Italians supporting the Risorgimento, France agreed to the complete withdraw its military garrison from Rome primarily as defensive movement of her troops back into France in anticipation of a military conflict on French soil that would later become known as the Franco-Prussian War of 1870.[1]

Pius IX closed the Quanta cura encyclical with a plenary indulgence by declaring a Jubilee year for 1865.[citation needed]

Opposition to freedom of conscience[edit]

Pius IX's 1864 encyclical specifically marks for condemnation that:

..."liberty of conscience and worship is each man's personal right, which ought to be legally proclaimed and asserted in every rightly constituted society; and that a right resides in the citizens to an absolute liberty, which should be restrained by no authority whether ecclesiastical or civil, whereby they may be able openly and publicly to manifest and declare any of their ideas whatever, either by word of mouth, by the press, or in any other way."[2]

Propositions condemned[edit]

Quanta cura also condemns several other propositions, notably:

  • That the will of the public is supreme and overrides any other law, human or divine
  • That "in the political order accomplished facts, from the very circumstance that they are accomplished, have the force of right."
  • That the outlawing of public begging and almsgiving is sound policy
  • That parents have no rights with respect to their children's education, except what the civil law grants them
  • That Catholics have no moral obligation to obey the church's laws unless they are ratified by the state
  • That the state has a right to take the property of the church and the religious orders

These propositions were aimed at anticlerical governments in various European countries, which had been recently and would in the next few years be secularizing education (sometimes by taking over Catholic schools rather than starting their own competing public schools) and suppressing religious orders, confiscating their property. (Hales 1958)

Subsequent commentary[edit]

John Henry Newman comments on this passage in his Letter to the Duke of Norfolk (1874), section 5:

It is a rule in formal ecclesiastical proceedings, as I shall have occasion to notice lower down, when books or authors are condemned, to use the very words of the book or author, and to condemn the words in that particular sense which they have in their context and their drift, not in the literal, not in the religious sense, such as the Pope might recognize, were they in another book or author. ..... Both Popes [Gregory XVI and Pius IX] certainly scoff at the so-called "liberty of conscience," but there is no scoffing of any Pope, in formal documents addressed to the faithful at large, at that most serious doctrine, the right and the duty of following that Divine Authority, the voice of conscience, on which in truth the Church herself is built.

And on the condemnation of absolute freedom of speech, he wrote, after discussing the restrictions on freedom of speech and worship in English law (ibid, section 6):

Now, is there any government on earth that could stand the strain of such a doctrine as this? [...] It is the liberty of every one to give public utterance, in every possible shape, by every possible channel, without any let or hindrance from God or man, to all his notions whatsoever.

Syllabus of Errors[edit]

Quanta cura is remembered mostly because of its annex, the Syllabus of Errors, which condemns a number of political propositions involving democracy, socialism, and freedom of speech and religion.[citation needed]

See also[edit]


  1. ^ http://www.historyworld.net/wrldhis/PlainTextHistories.asp?ParagraphID=mov "HISTORY OF ROME: From republic to royal capital: 1848-1871".
  2. ^ http://www.papalencyclicals.net/Pius09/p9quanta.htm Quanta Cura CONDEMNING CURRENT ERRORS Encyclical of Pope Pius IX promulgated on December 8, 1864.
  • The Catholic Church in the Modern World by E.E.Y. Hales (Doubleday, 1958)
  • Letter to the Duke of Norfolk by John Henry Newman (Longman, 1874)
  • Utt, Walter C. (1960). "Quanta Cura and the Syllabus of Errors" (PDF). Liberty (Washington, D. C.: Review and Herald Publishing Association) 55 (6, November–December): 12, 13, 32–34. Retrieved June 24, 2011. 

External links[edit]