Pope Pius VIII (b. 20 November 1761 – d. 1 December 1830), born Francesco Castiglioni, began his pontificate on 31 March 1829. On 24 May 1829, he issued a papal encyclical warning of what his predecessors had: religious indifferentism, unauthorized translations of Scripture and secret societies.
This encyclical is approximately 2,100 words in 14 paragraphs.
Regarding religious indifferentism which logically leads to religious pluralism:
4. Among these heresies belongs that foul contrivance of the sophists of this age who do not admit any difference among the different professions of faith and who think that the portal of eternal salvation opens for all from any religion. They, therefore, label with the stigma of levity and stupidity those who, having abandoned the religion which they learned, embrace another of any kind, even Catholicism. This is certainly a monstrous impiety which assigns the same praise and the mark of the just and upright man to truth and to error, to virtue and to vice, to goodness and to turpitude. Indeed this deadly idea concerning the lack of difference among religions is refuted even by the light of natural reason. We are assured of this because the various religions do not often agree among themselves. If one is true, the other must be false; there can be no society of darkness with light. Against these experienced sophists the people must be taught that the profession of the Catholic faith is uniquely true, as the apostle proclaims: one Lord, one faith, one baptism. Jerome used to say it this way: he who eats the lamb outside this house will perish as did those during the flood who were not with Noah in the ark. Indeed, no other name than the name of Jesus is given to men, by which they may be saved. He who believes shall be saved; he who does not believe shall be condemned.
Regarding translations and interpretations of Scripture:
5. We must also be wary of those who publish the Bible with new interpretations contrary to the Church’s laws. They skillfully distort the meaning by their own interpretation. They print the Bibles in the vernacular and, absorbing an incredible expense, offer them free even to the uneducated. Furthermore, the Bibles are rarely without perverse little inserts to insure that the reader imbibes their lethal poison instead of the saving water of salvation. Long ago the Apostolic See warned about this serious hazard to the faith and drew up a list of the authors of these pernicious notions. The rules of this Index were published by the Council of Trent; the ordinance required that translations of the Bible into the vernacular not be permitted without the approval of the Apostolic See and further required that they be published with commentaries from the Fathers. The sacred Synod of Trent had decreed in order to restrain impudent characters, that no one, relying on his own prudence in matters of faith and of conduct which concerns Christian doctrine, might twist the sacred Scriptures to his own opinion, or to an opinion contrary to that of the Church or the popes. …
Regarding secret societies which promote liberalist ideas that overturn society and good order:
6. When this corruption has been abolished, then eradicate those secret societies of factious men who, completely opposed to God and to princes, are wholly dedicated to bringing about the fall of the Church, the destruction of kingdoms, and disorder in the whole world. Having cast off the restraints of true religion, they prepare the way for shameful crimes. Indeed, because they concealed their societies, they aroused suspicion of their evil intent. Afterwards this evil intention broke forth, about to assail the sacred and the civil orders. Hence the supreme pontiffs, Our predecessors, Clement XII, Benedict XIV, Pius VII, Leo XII, repeatedly condemned with anathema that kind of secret society. …
7. We want you to know of another secret society organized not so long ago for the corruption of young people who are taught in the gymnasia and the lycea. Its cunning purpose is to engage evil teachers to lead the students along the paths of Baal by teaching them un-Christian doctrines. The perpetrators know well that the students’ minds and morals are molded by the precepts of the teachers. Its influence is already so persuasive that all fear of religion has been lost, all discipline of morals has been abandoned, the sanctity of pure doctrine has been contested, and the rights of the sacred and of the civil powers have been trampled upon. Nor are they ashamed of any disgraceful crime or error. We can truly say with Leo the Great that for them “Law is prevarication; religion, the devil; sacrifice, disgrace.” Drive these evils from your dioceses. Strive to assign not only learned, but also good men to train our youth.
Not surprisingly, there is the defense of marriage, although perhaps surprisingly Pius VIII does not link it directly to the attack from those who promote liberalism.
10. We also want you to imbue your flock with reverence for the sanctity of marriage so that they may never do anything to detract from the dignity of this sacrament. … Formerly marriage had no other purpose than that of bringing children into the world. But now it has been raised to the dignity of a sacrament by Christ the Lord and enriched with heavenly gifts. Now its purpose is not so much to generate offspring as to educate children for God and for religion. This increases the number of worshippers of the true divinity. It is agreed that the union of marriage signifies the perpetual and sublime union of Christ with His Church; as a result, the close union of husband and wife is a sacrament, that is, a sacred sign of the immortal love of Christ for His spouse. …
As one can see, there is the typical emphasis on the purpose of marriage being to have children for God which can be misunderstood. That teaching is right and proper, of course, but like a lot of things in life, marriage is something done to attain sanctity and Salvation, which is consistent to Scripture and older catechisms. This is admittedly another topic but this comment is included as a brief clarification.
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