Qui pluribus

From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia
Jump to navigation Jump to search
Qui pluribus
Encyclical of Pope Pius IX
Coat of arms of Pope Pius IX
Signature date November 9, 1846
SubjectCondemnation of rationalism and fideism
Number1 of the pontificate, 41 of the total
← Inter praecipuas

Qui pluribus (subtitled "On Faith And Religion") is an encyclical promulgated by Pope Pius IX on November 9, 1846. It was the first encyclical of his reign, and written to urge the prelates to be on guard against the dangers posed by rationalism, pantheism, socialism, communism and other popular philosophies. It was a commentary on the widespread civil unrest spreading across Italy, as nationalists with a variety of beliefs and methods sought the unification of Italy.


Pius IX was elected to the papacy in June 1846. The following November, he addressed this encyclical to "All Patriarchs, Primates, Archbishops, and Bishops", exhorting them to be vigilant against the dangers of rationalism, pantheism, Communism, and modernity. "Therefore, since We have now assumed the supreme pontificate..., We are sending this letter to you without delay, in accordance with the established practice of Our predecessors. Its purpose is to urge that you keep the night-watches over the flock entrusted to your care with the greatest possible eagerness, wakefulness and effort..."[1]

According to Thomas W. O'Brien, much of the document was drafted by Luigi Cardinal Lambruschini, Secretary of State to Pius's predecessor, the strongly conservative Pope Gregory XVI.[2]


Illustration of Pope Pius IX soon after his election to the papacy in 1846


The encyclical is particularly directed against socialists and communists, who through "their outlandish errors and their many harmful methods, plots and contrivances... which they use to set in motion their plans to quench peoples’ zeal for piety, justice and virtue, to corrupt morals, to cast all divine and human laws into confusion, and to weaken and even possibly overthrow the Catholic religion and civil society."[3]

"Qui pluribus" contains the first mention of communism in any papal encyclopedia. Pius described communism as "...a doctrine most opposed to the very natural law. For if this doctrine were accepted, the complete destruction of everyone’s laws, government, property, and even of human society itself would follow."[4]

Secret societies[edit]

Italian nationalism exploded in the post-Napoleonic years, leading to the establishment of secret societies bent on a unified Italy.[5] After 1815, Freemasonry in Italy was repressed and discredited due to its French connections. A void was left that the Carbonari filled with a movement that closely resembled Freemasonry but with a commitment to Italian nationalism and no association with Napoleon and his government. The Carbonari was a secret society divided into small covert cells scattered across Italy. They were strongly anti-clerical in both their philosophy and programme. The Carbonari movement spread across Italy.[6] A well-known member of the Carbonari was Giuseppe Mazzini who, in 1831, founded yet another secret society, Young Italy (historical), whose members plotted revolts in revolt in Savoy and elsewhere. Another prominent member was Giuseppe Garibaldi, who in 1834 joined Mazzini in a failed insurrection in Piedmont. Garibaldi joined Freemasonry in 1844.

Pius condemned "secret sects who have come forth from the darkness to destroy and desolate both the sacred and the civil commonwealth."[7] While not specifically mentioning Freemasonry, Hermann Gruber, writing in the Catholic Encyclopedia, lists Qui pluribus among the papal pronouncements against Freemasonry.[8][9]

Religious pluralism[edit]

In 1844, Pope Gregory XVI issued the Encyclical, "Inter praecipuas machinationes", against the anti-Catholic propaganda in Italy of the London Bible Society and the New York Christian Alliance, which endeavored with some success, to spread anti-clericalism among the populace.[10] Pius reiterated Gregory's condemnation of "...The crafty Bible Societies which renew the old skill of the heretics and ceaselessly force on people of all kinds, even the uneducated, gifts of the Bible. They issue these in large numbers and at great cost, in vernacular translations... The commentaries which are included often contain perverse explanations; so, having rejected divine tradition, the doctrine of the Fathers and the authority of the Catholic Church, they all interpret the words of the Lord by their own private judgment, thereby perverting their meaning."[11]

Training of Clergy[edit]

As a partial remedy, Pius then spoke at some length on the education and training of the clergy, "However, priests are the best examples of piety and God’s worship, and people tend generally to be of the same quality as their priests..When ministers are ignorant or neglectful of their duty, then the morals of the people also immediately decline."[12] He directed the bishops to choose carefully those candidates to be admitted to the seminary. "You must examine with greater diligence the morals and the knowledge of men who are entrusted with the care and guidance of souls, that they may be eager to continuously feed and assist the people entrusted to them by the administration of the sacraments, the preaching of God’s word and the example of good works...Consecrate with holy orders and promote to the performance of the sacred mysteries only those who have been carefully examined and who are virtuous and wise."[13]

See also[edit]


  1. ^ Pope Pius IX. Qui pluribus §3, November 9, 1846
  2. ^ O'Brien, Thomas W., John Courtney Murray in a Cold War Context, University Press of America, 2004, p. 32 ISBN 9780761828082
  3. ^ Qui pluribus §4.
  4. ^ Stummvoll, A. Alexander. "Catholic Teaching on Communism", A Living Tradition: Catholic Social Doctrine and Holy See Diplomacy, Wipf and Stock Publishers, 2018, p. 78 ISBN 9781532605123
  5. ^ Lins, Joseph. "Tuscany." The Catholic Encyclopedia Vol. 15. New York: Robert Appleton Company, 1912. 3 January 2019Public Domain This article incorporates text from this source, which is in the public domain.
  6. ^ Rath, R. John. "The Carbonari: Their Origins, Initiation Rites, and Aims," American Historical Review (1964) 69#2 pp. 353-370
  7. ^ Qui pluribus §13.
  8. ^ Gruber, Hermann. "Masonry (Freemasonry)." The Catholic Encyclopedia Vol. 9. New York: Robert Appleton Company, 1910. 1 January 2019Public Domain This article incorporates text from this source, which is in the public domain.
  9. ^ "While not mentioning Masonry directly, it criticizes those it does not identify for those same faults that the previous papal pronouncements imputed to Freemasonry, and is regarded as an anti-Masonic pronouncement by some Catholic sources." Roman Catholic Church Law Regarding Freemasonry by Reid McInvale, Texas Lodge of Research
  10. ^ Toke, Leslie. "Pope Gregory XVI." The Catholic Encyclopedia Vol. 7. New York: Robert Appleton Company, 1910. 1 January 2019Public Domain This article incorporates text from this source, which is in the public domain.
  11. ^ Qui pluribus §14.
  12. ^ Qui pluribus §§ 23 & 25.
  13. ^ Qui pluribus §§ 23 & 24.