Pope Pius IX (b. 13 May 1792 – d. 7 February 1878), born Giovanni Maria Mastai-Ferretti, began his pontificate on 16 June 1846. On 21 November 1873, he issued a papal encyclical regarding the Church in Italy, Germany and Switzerland.
This encyclical is approximately 5,400 words in 32 paragraphs. Although it is about the three countries, it applies just about everywhere. Pius IX follows up on the things he and his predecessors warned about such as the dissemination of liberalist ideas.
Pius IX begins with the civil authority’s suppression of the Church’s powers and the abolishment of her institutions, such as religious orders and schools.
6. These same laws provide that without the government’s favor, which is revocable, the pastors and vicars could not exercise any functions and could not accept any office more extensive than those which they received through popular election. Furthermore, they are compelled by the civil power to take an oath, the words of which denote apostasy. Everyone sees that laws of this nature are void and useless because lay legislators, who are for the most part heterodox men, do not have the power to make such laws. They are also invalid because in what they teach, they are opposed to dogmas of the Catholic faith and ecclesiastical discipline sanctioned by the Ecumenical Council of Trent and by pontifical constitutions. We must therefore condemn and disapprove them.
He then goes on to describe more examples, such as priests being forbidden to carry out their duties, before reminding the audience of the distinction between the temporal and spiritual orders, the latter being the higher:
16. If no other laws than these of the civil authority existed and if they were of the highest order, it would be wrong to transgress them. If, moreover, these same civil laws constituted the norm of conscience, as some maintain both impiously and absurdly, the early martyrs and their followers would have been worthy of reprehension rather than honor and praise. Indeed it would have been against the laws and the wish of princes to hand down the Christian faith, propagate it, and found the Church. Nevertheless the faith teaches and human reason demonstrates that there is a twofold order of things. Two kinds of powers must be distinguished on earth—one natural that looks to the tranquility and secular business of human society; the other, whose origin is above nature, which is in charge of the Church of Christ, divinely instituted for the salvation and peace of souls. The offices of these two powers are wisely coordinated so that things which belong to God are returned to God and, because of God, those of Caesar to Caesar, who “for this reason is great because he is less than heaven for he belongs to Him whom heaven and all creatures belong.”
He finishes with a general reminder of the agent behind these attacks on the Church which were at the time already spread across Europe and the USA:
28. Some of you may perchance wonder that the war against the Catholic Church extends so widely. Indeed each of you knows well the nature, zeal, and intention of sects, whether called Masonic or some other name. When he compares them with the nature, purpose, and amplitude of the conflict waged nearly everywhere against the Church, he cannot doubt but that the present calamity must be attributed to their deceits and machinations for the most part. For from these the synagogue of Satan is formed which draws up its forces, advances its standards, and joins battle against the Church of Christ.
29. Our Predecessors, as watchers in Israel, denounced these forces from the very beginnings to rulers and nations. Against them they have struck out again and again with their condemnations. We Ourselves have not been deficient in Our duty. Would that the Pastors of the Church had more loyalty from those who could have averted such a pernicious plague! But, creeping through sinuous openings, never stinting in toil, deceiving many by clever fraud, it has reached such an outcome that it has burst forth from its hiding places and boasts itself lord and master. Grown immense by a multitude of followers, these nefarious bands think that they have been made masters of their desire and have all but achieved their goal. They have at last achieved what they have so long desired, that is, that in many places they obtained supreme power and won for themselves bulwarks of men and authority. Now they boldly turn to this, to hand over the Church of God to a most harsh servitude, to tear up the supports on which it rests, and to attempt to distort the marks by which it stands out gloriously. What more? They would, if possible, completely wipe it out from the world after they had shaken it with frequent blows, ruined it, and overturned it.
30. Since these things are so, venerable brothers, apply all your effort to protect the faithful committed to your care against the snares and contagion of these sects. Bring back those who have unhappily joined these sects. Expose especially the error of those who have been deceived or those who assert now that only social utility, progress, and the exercise of mutual benefits are the intention of these dark associations. Explain to them often and fix deeper in their minds the pontifical decrees on this matter. Teach them that these decrees refer not only to Masonic groups in Europe, but also those in America and in other regions of the world.
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