Oath Against Modernism: Sacrorum Antistitum by Pope Pius X

Pope Saint Pius X

Pope Saint Pius X

“Our Apostolic Mandate requires from Us that We watch over the purity of the Faith and the integrity of Catholic discipline. It requires from Us that We protect the faithful from evil and error; especially so when evil and error are presented in dynamic language which, concealing vague notions and ambiguous expressions with emotional and high-sounding words, is likely to set ablaze the hearts of men in pursuit of ideals which, whilst attractive, are nonetheless nefarious.” —Pope St. Pius X, Apostolic Letter Notre Charge Apostolique, 1910.

The oath against modernism was issued by Pope Pius X on 1 September 1910 in a motu proprio entitled Sacrorum antistitum. It mandated that “all clergy, pastors, confessors, preachers, religious superiors, and professors in philosophical-theological seminaries” of the Catholic Church swear to it.

Oath Against Modernism

Sacrorum Antistitum

I (name) firmly embrace and accept all and everything that has been defined, affirmed, and declared by the unerring magisterium of the Church, especially those chief doctrines which are directly opposed to the errors of this time.Ego N. N. firmiter amplector ac recipio omnia et singula, quae ab inerranti Ecclesia magisterio definita, adserta ac declarata sunt, praesertim ea doctrinae capita, quae huius temporis erroribus directo adversantur.
And first, I profess that God, the beginning and end of all things, can be certainly known and thus can also be demonstrated by the natural light of reason “by the things that are made” [cf. Rom. 1:20], that is, by the visible works of creation, as the cause by the effects.Ac primum quidem, Deum, rerum omnium principium et finem, naturali rationis lumine per ea quae facta sunt, hoc est per visibilia creationis opera, tamquam causam per effectus, certo cognosci, adeoque demonstrari etiam posse, profiteor.
Secondly, I admit and recognize the external arguments of revelation, that is, divine facts, and especially miracles and prophecies, as very certain signs of the divine origin of the Christian religion; and I hold that these same arguments have been especially accomodated to the intelligence of all ages and men, even of these times.Secundo, externa revelationis argumenta, hoc est facta divina, in primisque miracula et prophetias admitto et agnosco tanquam signa certissima divinitus ortae christianae religionis, eademque teneo aetatum omnium atque hominum, etiam huius temporis, intelliegentiae esse maxime accommodata.
Thirdly, likewise, with a firm faith I believe that the Church, guardian and mistress of the revealed word, was instituted proximately and directly by the true and historical Christ Himself, while he sojourned among us, and that the same was built upon Peter, the chief of the apostolic hierarchy, and his successors until the end of time.Tertio, firma pariter fide credo Ecclesiam, verbi revelati custodem et magistram, per ipsum verum atque historicum Christum, cum apud nos degeret, proximo ac directo institutam eandemque super Petrum, apostolicae hierarchiae principem, eiusque in aevum successores aedificatam.
Fourthly, I accept sincerely the doctrine of faith transmitted from the apostles through the orthodox fathers, always in the same sense and interpretation, even to us; and so I reject the heretical invention of the evolution of dogmas, passing from one meaning to another, different from that which the Church first had; and likewise I reject all error whereby a philosophic fiction is substituted for the divine deposit, given over to the Spouse of Christ and to be guarded faithfully by her, or a creation of the human conscience formed gradually by the efforts of men and to be perfected by indefinite progress in the future.Quarto, fidei doctrinam ab Apostolis per orthodoxos Patres eodem sensu eademque semper sententia ad nos usque transmissam, sincero recipio; ideoque prorsus reicio haereticum commentum evolutionis dogmatum, ab uno in alium sensum transeuntium, diversum ab eo, quem prius habuit Ecclesia; pariterque damno errorem omnem, quo, divino deposito, Christi Sponsae tradito ab eaque fideliter custodiendo, sufficitur philosophicum inventum, vel creatio humanae conscientiae, hominum conatu sensim efformatae et in posterum indefinito progressu perficiendae.
Fifthly, I hold most certainly and profess sincerely that faith is not a blind religious feeling bursting forth from the recesses of the subconscious, unformed morally under the pressure of the heart and the impulse of a will, but the true assent of the intellect to the truth received extrinsically ex auditu, whereby we believe that what has been said, attested, and revealed by the personal God, our Creator and Lord, to be true on account of the authority of God the highest truth.Quinto, certissime teneo ac sincere profiteor, fidem non esse caecum sensum religionis e latrebis subconscientiae erumpentem, sub pressione cordis et inflesione voluntatis maraliter informatae, sed verum assensum intellectus veritati extrinsecus acceptae ex auditu, quo nempe, quae a Deo personali, creatore ac Domino nostro dicta, testata et revelata sunt, vera esse credimus, propter Dei auctoritatem summe veracis.
I also subject myself with the reverence which is proper, and I adhere with my whole soul to all the condemnations, declarations, and prescriptions which are contained in the Encyclical letter “Pascendi” and in the Decree, “Lamentabili”, especially on that which is called the history of dogma.Me etiam, qua par est, reverentia subicio totoque animo adhaereo damnationibus, declarationibus, praescriptis omnibus, quae in Encyclicis litteris Pascendi et in Decreto Lamentabili continentur, praesertim circa eam quam historiam dogmatum vocant.
In the same manner I disapprove the error of those who affirm that the faith proposed by the Church can be in conflict with history, and that Catholic dogmas, in the sense in which they are now understood, cannot be reconciled with the more authentic origins of the Christian religion.Idem reprobo errorem affirmantium, propositam ab Ecclesia fidem posse historiae repugnare, et catholica dogmata, quo sensu nunc intelliguntur, cum verioribus christianae religionis originibus componi non posse.
I also condemn and reject the opinion of those who say that the more erudite Christian puts on a dual personality, one of the believer, the other of the historian, as if it were permitted the historian to hold what is in contradiction to the faith of the believer; or to establish premises which it follows that dogmas are either false or doubtful, provided they are not directly denied.Damno quoque ac reicio eorum sententiam, qui dicunt christianum hominem eruditiorem induere personam duplicem, aliam credentis, aliam historici, quasi liceret historico ea retinere, quae credentis fidei contradicant, aut praemissas adstruere, ex quibus consequatur, dogmata esse aut falsa aut dubia, modo haec directo non denegentur.
I disapprove likewise that method of studying and interpreting Sacred Scripture, which disregards the tradition of the Church, the analogy of faith, and the norms of the Apostolic See, and adheres to the fictions of the rationalists, and no less freely than boldly adopts textual criticism as the only and supreme rule.Reprobo pariter eam Scripturae sanctae diiudicandae atque interpretandae rationem, quae, Ecclesiae traditione, analogia fidei et Apostolicae Sedis normis posthabitis, rationalistarum comentis inhaeret, et criticem textus velut unicam supremamque regulam haud minus licenter quam temere amplectitur.
Besides I reject the opinion of those who hold that to present the historical and theological disciplines the teacher or the writer on these subjects must first divest himself of previously conceived opinion either on the supernatural origin of Catholic tradition, or on the aid promised by God for the perpetual preservation of every revealed truth; then that the writings of the individual Fathers are to be interpreted only by the principles of science, setting aside all divine authority, and by that freedom of judgment with which any profane document is customarily investigated.Sententiam praeterea illorum reicio, qui tenent, doctori disciplinae historicae theologicae tradendae aut iis de rebus scribenti seponendam prius esse opinionem ante conceptam sive de supernaturali origine catholicae traditionis, sive de promissa divinitus ope ad perennem conservationem uniuscuiusque revelati veri; deinde scripta Patrum singulorum interpretanda solic scientiae principiis, sacra qualibet auctoritate seclusa, eaque iudicii libertate, qua profana quaevis monumenta solent investigari.
Finally, in short, I profess to be utterly free of the error according to which the modernists hold that there is nothing divine in sacred tradition; or, what is far worse, admit this in the pantheistic sense, so that nothing remains but this bare and simple fact to ne assimilated with the common facts of history, namely, of men by their industry, skill, and genius continuing through subsequent ages the school inaugurated by Christ and His disciples.In universum denique me alienissimum ab errore profiteor, quo modernistae tenent in sacra traditione nihil inesse divini, aut, quod longe deterius, pantheistico sensu illud admittunt, ita ut nihil iam restet nisi nudum factum et simplex, communibus historiae factis aequandum: hominum nempe sua industria, solertia, ingenio scholam a Christo eiusque Apostolis inchoatam per subsequentes aetates continuantium.
So I retain most firmly the faith of the Fathers, and shall retain it until the final breath of life, regarding the certain gift of truth, which is, was, and will be always in the succession of the episcopacy from the apostles, not so that what may seem better and more fitting according to each one’s period of culture may be held, but so that the absolute and immutable truth preached by the apostles from the beginning may never be believed otherwise, may never be understood otherwise.Proinde fidem Patrum firmissime retineo et ad extremum vitae spiritum retinebo, de charismate veritatis certo, quod est, fuit eritque semper in episcopatus ab Apostolis successione; non ut id teneatur quod melius et aptius videri possit secundum suam cuiusque aetatis culturam, sed ut nunquam aliter credatur, nunquam aliter intelligatur absoluta et immutabilis veritas ab initio per Apostolos praedicata.
All these things I promise that I shall faithfully, entirely, and sincerely keep and inviolably watch, never deviating from them in word and writing either while teaching or in any other pursuit. So I promise, so I swear, so help me God and this Holy Gospel.Haec omnia spondeo me fideliter, integre sincereque servaturum et inviolabiliter custoditurum, nusquam ab iis sive in docendo sive quomodolibet verbis scriptisque deflectendo. Sic spondeo, sic iuro, sic me Deus adiuvet et haec sancta Dei Evangelia.

To conclude this whole question of faith and its various branches, we have still to consider, Venerable Brethren, what the Modernists have to say about the development of the one and the other. First of all they lay down the general principle that in a living religion everything is subject to change, and must in fact be changed. In this way they pass to what is practically their principal doctrine, namely, evolution. To the laws of evolution everything is subject under penalty of death–dogma, Church, worship, the Books we revere as sacred, even faith itself. The enunciation of this principle will not be a matter of surprise to anyone who bears in mind what the Modernists have had to say about each of these subjects. Having laid down this law of evolution, the Modernists themselves teach us how it operates. And first, with regard to faith. – Pope Saint Pius X, PASCENDI DOMINICI GREGIS — ON THE DOCTRINE OF THE MODERNISTS, September 8, A.D.1907