Lumen Scholasticum

Elucubrations, translations, and commentary from a Scholastic and Catholic integralist perspective

Manualist Monday: A collection of pre-conciliar theologians on the dogmatic weight of Quanta cura and the Syllabus errorum

Ever since Dr. John Joy published his fine piece on the theological note of Quanta cura (as well as a follow-up piece nearly a year later), we had entertained in our mind the notion of investigating the writings of the theologians more nearly contemporaneous with that document and its accompanying Syllabus, in order to ascertain whether the Church’s authors also considered either to be infallible definitions. After having searched out several authors, we began translating the relevant excerpts, but (ut mos est) although we had completed a substantial number of the texts planned for presentation, we delayed completion of the project in favor of other more pressing and interesting pursuits. At length, however, being recently reminded once again of this unfinished project, we decided to prepare what had already been completed for posting, rather than procrastinate any longer. Several other authors from our list still remain to be translated, and they shall (hopefully!) be added in due course; undoubtedly we shall encounter others as well, and we intend to add them as well when time permits. Consider this post a work in progress.

The collection of translations presented here comprises a handful of well-known and weighty voices from the Catholic theological tradition prior to the Second Vatican Council. Although they speak of the valor dogmaticus of the encyclical Quanta cura and unanimously affirm it to be ex cathedra, the specific focus of many of the authors is rather the Syllabus—this being occasioned by the disproportionate controversy stirred up (especially amongst non-Catholics at the time) regarding the latter. While not every single one of the authors comes to the same conclusions regarding the force of the Syllabus considered by itself, yet it can be said that there is a common opinion of sorts.

We have omitted to include here the text of the various English treatments we have gathered on this subject, and have opted rather to include links to scans of the relevant volumes online. They are: Cardinal Hergenröther, in the 1876 English edition of his Catholic Church and Christian State, vol. 1, essay V, p. 205ff; St. John Henry Newman, in his famous A letter addressed to his Grace the Duke of Norfolk, §7 (ed. 1875, p. 78ff); and William George Ward, in the first Appendix to his Essays on the Church’s doctrinal authority (1880), p. 479ff.

Finally, it must be noted that all bolding, italicization, etc. is that of the original authors.
quanta cura

1. Johann Cardinal Franzelin, from an unpublished letter of 19 Mar 1868, to a theology professor who had consulted him about the dogmatic value of the Syllabus; reproduced in part by Fr. Francois Desjacques in the July 1889 fascicule of the journal Études religieuses, p. 354ff.

After this digression one must come 2° to the concrete question of the Syllabus. By the will and command of the Pontiff, errors, which have been proscribed by him on other occasions, noted as errors against sound doctrine and as to be avoided by the faithful, and gathered up into a kind of summary, are noticed to all the Pastors of the universal Church; in which mandate and act there seems altogether to be contained and manifested the will of giving a universal norm of thinking and teaching in those heads indicated therein. If a doubt arises regarding the sense in which the errors are proscribed, certainly one must recur to the documents from which the propositions of the Syllabus are drawn; but it is not merely that authority, which they have perhaps in an inferior degree in some of those documents, that belongs to the same proscriptions as they are in the Syllabus; but from the communication and proposition made to all the Pastors and through them to the faithful, a new degree of authority accedes to all those condemnations (certainly not as if all the errors would be understood to be proscribed with the same species of censure, but insofar as, without determination of notes, all are declared to the universal Church as errors to be avoided). But what demonstrates to us most of all the authority which is to be attributed, the submission of mind which is to be given to the doctrine declared in the Syllabus, without doubt is the sense and consensus, at least morally unanimous, of the whole catholic episcopate; for from this it plainly seems, that the whole complex of doctrine in the document has been received as doctrine authentically proposed by the supreme teacher. Therefore—although, considering only the mode in which the Encyclical “Quanta cura” and the Syllabus first came forth, a difference can be found between that [Encyclical] which has emanated immediately from the Pontiff himself, and this [Syllabus] which, indeed encompassing pronouncements of the Pontiff from other documents, yet in this form seems to be communicated to the Bishops only at the command of the Pontiff—nevertheless, considering all the circumstances, and most of all the mode in which each document has been regarded, with moral consensus in the Church, as being of the same character, practically speaking the same generally can be said of the Syllabus which is said of the Encyclical.

2. Jean Bainvel,[1] in De magisterio vivo et traditione (1905), §104, p. 107-108.

On the authority of the Syllabus. — At this point a question is referred regarding the authority of the Syllabus. Regarding this, in order that you may judge rightly, recall how the matter was elaborated, promulgated, and accepted. Cf. Hourat, Le Syllabus, 1904 (in the collection Science et religion), a compendium of which you will find in Études, 20 May 1904, Bulletin théologique, n. 3, p. 585-589. Two things here must be distinguished, lest you obscure everything — as some indeed do these days, such as P. Viollet: the value of the proscription, and the title and degree of the proscription. Read the rest of this entry »

Manualist Monday: Petavius on the divisions of Tradition

As mentioned in our previous post of Franzelin, we had been working on a translation on the same subject of Tradition, by one of the great models of Franzelin, Perrone, and the Roman School in general: Denis Petau, better known in the older theological literature as Petavius. The magnum opus of Petavius, his Opus de theologicis dogmatibus, unfortunately was never completed, but it nevertheless stands as a lasting monument to the erudition and ability of its Jesuit author.

The present selection is from his De ecclesiastica hierarchia, lib. I, cap. i, in which our author expounds upon the various kinds of tradition, devoting especial attention to a famous text from St. Basil the Great. It covers similar ground as the previous locus from Franzelin, who in fact recommended it to the reader in his own discussion of this topic, but we judged it useful to present to the reader a great 17th-cent. theologian’s discussion of the matter. We may return to this topic with other authors at some point, as we have collected not a few, but for the near future our efforts will be focused on bringing forward texts more straightforwardly concerned with ius liturgicum—the first, Deo dante, being the entirety of disp. XV of the De sacramentis of Suárez.

In making this translation, we employed both the 1867 Vives edition (tom. VII, pp. 479-484) and the 1644 Cramoisy (tom. III, p. 656-662). A .pdf version of this translation may be found here.



On Apostolic tradition, and its various distinction. The memorable locus of Basil regarding these is explained. Traditions of this sort are partly unchangeable, partly changeable. Various examples of both kinds. What is the note, and property of Apostolic tradition.

Most ancient indeed, and springing from the first times of Christianity, is that distinction of orders, from which the ecclesiastical hierarchy, as they say, is composed. Amongst which are three which are chief, the episcopate, the presbyterate, and the diaconate. Of these, laying aside the diaconate, the whole controversy has arisen regarding the first two between me and Salmasius, that is, between the Christian and catholic party and the sects of the heretics. And indeed, the enemies of the Roman church assert that the episcopate is plainly the same order as the presbyterate from the institution of Christ, and the usage of the Apostles, and of Apostolic times; and that in no place in the Scriptures can they be differentiated from one another, but they are always used promiscuously, so that either bishops are only named conjointly with deacons, or presbyters only with deacons, but never these three separately, bishops, presbyters, and deacons. We have recalled some examples of this matter from the Acts of the Apostles, and the epistles of the same, in the first book of our Dissertationes ecclesiasticæ, in the first chapter; which, since they may be found there, I will not relate here, lest I run on longer.

Now, in that locus I have composed the whole matter in such a way, that we concluded that both those orders and grades are diverse, of themselves, and by their nature, and from the institution and will of Christ; that is, of such kind, that they would be able to be disjoined from one another, and be in separate persons, insofar as someone would be only a presbyter, yet with all the inferior orders adjoined, through which he ascended by degrees to the presbyterate; likewise another, besides the presbyterate, and the rest subjoined to that, in addition would receive the episcopate. Although in the first times of the Church both of these orders and degrees, distinct amongst themselves, were conferred on the same person, which usage thus required, as has been explained with many things in its own place.

II. The following reason demonstrates that this is not a conjecture of ours, and a divination, but a firm and certain judgment. For if bishop and presbyter were one and the same order, and one and the same form, and οùσία from the institution of Christ: it would be impermissible to take these otherwise, than as he had established them. For it is not in the power of men to change those things, which have once been ordained by Christ; or to treat them in a way other than from his prescript and will. The theologians generally express this thus, that certain of the ecclesiastical institutions are of divine law, others of positive and human law. Of the first sort are those, which, whether explicated by name in the Scriptures, or received by the Church from the tradition of the ancestors, it is clear that they have been ordained such as they are by Christ the Lord himself, and not entrusted to the decree and judgment of men; such as are those things which pertain to the Christian faith, and the substance, as I may say, of the sacraments. Of the second sort are those, which concern the rites, with which the former are treated, or which have come by any way at all into the consuetude of Christians.

To both of these two kinds pertain those things, which are referred without writing to the Apostles as their authors, by tradition alone. For these are thought to be partly of divine, and immutable law, and partly human, that is positive, law.

Regarding both kinds, there is the luculent testimony, thus oft-used by theologians, of Basil in the book De Spiritu sancto, which testimony is to be accurately expounded by us here; for upon it turns the summit of our question and controversy. Read the rest of this entry »

Manualist Monday: Franzelin on the divisions of Tradition

Recently, our inquiries into ius liturgicum and its many pertinent corollaries and parallels in other theological disciplines impelled us to focus on the various senses of traditio in the Church’s theological tradition. The present brief piece, a translation of the first thesis of Cardinal Franzelin’s classic work De divina traditione et Scriptura, is made from the second edition of that treatise, published in 1875. The chapter referenced from Petavius and recommended for its treatment of this topic is in process of translation, and, we hope, will follow soon after this. It is our hope that having such texts readily available for reference will be of use.

Franzelin, Tractatus de divina traditione et Scriptura, sect. I, cap. 1, thes. i (ed. IIa 1875, p. 12-15).
A downloadable .pdf version of this translation can be found here.


The manifold notion of Tradition is explicated.

“Tradition can be considered either in the objective sense, or the active sense, or the complex sense of both at once. Since sacred Tradition, taken more broadly in the objective sense, may be called a doctrine or institution pertaining to religion, which has been transmitted by the forefathers to the Church to be preserved, it is necessary that, by reason of origin, divine Tradition be distinguished from Tradition which is simply apostolic and ecclesiastical, each of which has its own, though different, authority and strength. Nor is there lacking a sure norm, according to which divine Tradition can be distinguished from another sort of a lower order.”

I. This thesis requires little except a declaration of concepts. In the objective sense, Tradition is that very thing which is passed on, a doctrine or institution transmitted from one’s forefathers: “the deposit which you have received, not what you have thought up, the thing given to you and not produced from you,” as St. Vincent of Lerins says, Commonit. n. 27. Now, since the mode in which doctrine is conserved and propagated to us can be varied, that mode is not defined per se by the name of Tradition in the objective sense; whence the Fathers sometimes, in declaring the mode, use epithets, and call it Tradition written (preserved for us in the sacred Scriptures) and unwritten. Thus Clement of Alexandria calls the interpretation or deeper understanding received from the forefathers, of the doctrine of the Scriptures, the unwritten Tradition of written Tradition (ή της ἐγγραφου ἀγραφος παραδοσις) Strom. VI. p. 679. ed. Paris 1641.

The act itself, or rather, the whole series and complex of acts and means, by which doctrine, whether theoretical or practical, is propagated and passed down to us, is called Tradition in the active sense. In this sense it is said by Tertullian (de coron. c. 4.) “Tradition originates, consuetude establishes, faith observes.”

It is readily clear, that active Tradition includes the object passed on, and in turn this object cannot be preserved unto us except with and through active Tradition. Thus, if Tradition be viewed more fully, it must always be considered in a complex way, namely, the object along with the mode of Tradition, just as matter with its form, because otherwise its conservation, integrity, force, and authority cannot duly be explained and understood, since all these things depend upon the mode of Tradition, or active Tradition, as shall become apparent as the disputation progresses. Thus the Fathers of Trent (sess. IV.) considered the Traditions, that is the object passed on, along with the origin and mode of the Traditions, that is, along with active Tradition; and their authority is very briefly but very effectively vindicated from the mode of Tradition, when the synod professes, that revealed doctrine and discipline is contained (and constituted) even in “in the unwritten Traditions, which have come down to us, received from the Apostles by the mouth of Christ himself, or given as it were by hand from the Apostles themselves, at the dictation of the Holy Spirit;” and “it receives and venerates, with equal pious affection and reverence (just as the sacred books), the Traditions pertaining as much to faith as to morals, as dictated either by word from Christ, or from the Holy Spirit, and preserved in the catholic Church by continuous succession.”

II. The distinctions indicated in the second part of the thesis thus must also be recalled, because, although there corresponds to the diverse origin of divine, simply apostolic, and ecclesiastical Tradition, a diverse grade of authority, yet Protestants are accustomed to ignore this quite self-evident doctrine of the catholic Church, and accuse Catholics of attributing to the word of men an authority equal with the word of God, not only because the Protestants hold truly divine Traditions as human, but also because they confound merely ecclesiastical Traditions with those that are divine, and thereon falsely accuse, that all are proposed to be believed promiscuously with equal faith. Read the rest of this entry »

Bellarmine on Trent sess. VII can. 13: the sacramental rites and ceremonies

It has been a long while since our last post here; as usual, however, this is not at all to say that we have not been busy. Indeed, we have continued our readings, researches, and translations as earnestly as ever over the past (almost) two years, although the coronavirus pandemic has nonetheless obtruded various obstacles upon our work. Our attention has for a long while now been fixed on matters pertaining to the Church’s authority over the liturgy, and the writings of the theologians on this topic, with particular reference to the Council of Trent and St. Pius V’s reform of the Missal and Breviary. It came to our attention a long while back, that in some of the more radical fringes of the Catholic traditionalist movement, appeals and arguments are made to Trent and to St. Pius V’s Quo primum tempore, as proofs indicting in some substantial way the Novus Ordo Missæ of St. Paul VI. While we have long been dissatisfied with much in and about the liturgical reform, and find little in the new Mass to recommend it over the Tridentine liturgy; nevertheless the aforementioned appeals struck us as both very weak, and injurious to the Church’s authority so far as we were familiar with it. But the documents involved also seemed to us very intriguing, and after happening upon some other interesting and pertinent texts, we resolved to dive more deeply into what the theologians, canonists, liturgists, and rubricists had to say about ecclesial and pontifical power in the liturgy, and about the documents in question. While we are still in the process of finding, reading, translating, and organizing an ever-growing body of texts on this subject for a modest opusculum on the matter, we thought it good to post some lengthier texts which we have translated in the course of our inquiries, which are probably too large to include in full in the main body of that treatise but which we should like to have around for reference nonetheless.

The first entry in this series of sorts will be from the De controversiis of St. Robert Bellarmine, De sacramentis in genere, lib. II, cap. 29-32. In these chapters, our Cardinal and Doctor dissertates on the rites and ceremonies spoken of in the seventh session of Trent, can. 13, expounding and establishing the catholic doctrine on the matter and repelling the errors of the Protestant heretics of his day.

For this translation, we employed the 1613 Tri-Adelphorum edition of the Cardinal’s De controversiis, tom. III, col. 191ff. Since this translation was completed as something ancillary to our projects and hence of lesser importance, we have omitted to include internal hyperlinks to the works referenced within the text as has been our wont in other more recent posts of ours here and at The Josias.

A .pdf version of this translation may be found here.


On the ceremonies of the Sacraments in general.

We shall treat of the rites of the individual Sacraments in their own places; here we dispute only of the rites in general. We have decided to dispute this final controversy, as much because it is a most worthy thing to know, as also so that there be no canon of the Council of Trent regarding the Sacraments in general, which we shall not have defended; for up to this point we have defended all but the last, which declares anathema to those, who either contemn the ceremonies of the Church, or think that they can be omitted without sin.

There shall be four parts of this question. The FIRST, on the name, definition, and partition of ceremonies. The SECOND, on the state of the case, and the errors and lies of the heretics. The THIRD, on the explanation and proof of the truth. The FOURTH, on the objections of the adversaries.


On the name, definition, and partition of ceremonies.

As regards the FIRST, some things shall have to be noted in order to understand the state of the case. The FIRST is, what is a ceremony. And a ceremony is an external act of religion, which act is praiseworthy for no other reason, than that it is for the honor of God. For religion, which is the most noble of the moral virtues, has three acts, as with any other virtue. FIRSTLY, the internal elicited act, which is to will to God due honor, and to give him worship. SECONDLY, the external act corresponding to the internal act, which is any external action, which is not elsewise good, and praiseworthy, than because it is done to worship God, such as sacrifice, genuflexion, and similar things. THIRDLY, the commanded act, that is, the act of any virtue, which is ordained by religion to the honor of God. In this way, fasting, almsgiving, and other things of that sort can be called acts of religion, when they are done to worship God, although they otherwise be the acts of other virtues. Of this third act St. James spoke, cap. 1, that religion is to visit the orphaned, and to guard oneself immaculate from this age; and St. Augustine in the Enchiridion, cap. 3, said, that God is worshiped in faith, and hope, and charity. Of these three acts, the first is in no way a ceremony; the third is also not a ceremony, except insofar as commanded by religion; the second is properly and simply a ceremony, and of it we treat in this place.

As regards the name: Ceremonies, amongst the Hebrews, are called תקים, which word properly signifies not so much the external action itself, as the law, or statute, by which that action is commanded. Wherefore also in the new Testament the Judaic ceremonies are usually called by the name of law, as in Matth. 11. The laws and the prophets until John. Gal. 5. I testify to every man circumcising himself, that he is a debtor to do the whole law. The Greeks render that word everywhere with δικαιώματα, that is, justifications, because they were rites instituted for justifying and purging man. The Latin interpreter almost always translates cæremonia in the old Testament for the Hebrew word תקים. Now this Latin word either is taken from the city of Cære, as is the opinion of Livy, lib. I, and Valerius Maximus lib. 1. c. 1., because in that city the Sacra Romana were preserved at the time when the Gauls plundered Rome; or perhaps more correctly it is drawn from the word carendo, so that a cæremonia is as it were a carimonia, as St. Augustine thinks, lib. 2. retract. cap. 37. and Gellius lib. 4. capit. 9. and Macrobius lib. 2. Saturnal. cap. 3. on account of the fact that certain ceremonies are set in abstaining, and lacking, as it was with the Jews, who abstained from the use of the flesh of swine, and nearly all the vows of the Nazarenes, and of others, who abstained even by vow from the use of wine, and of many other things.

But let us come to the partition. There are five partitions of ceremonies. The FIRST partition is taken from the end, or effect. For some are instituted in order to justify, such as the Sacraments, and of these we do not now treat: some for certain spiritual effects, such as the coercion of demons, as exorcisms, blessed water, etc., some only for adornment and signification, as the white garment of neophytes, the lights of candles, etc., and of these do we treat.

The SECOND partition is drawn from the efficient cause, that is, from the institutor. For some are in a certain way instituted by nature itself, which are able to be called natural: of which sort is, to look to heaven, to lift up the hands, to bend the knee, to beat the breast, when we pray to God: these nature itself teaches, whence they are also common to the Gentiles, and to any sects whatsoever. Some are instituted by God, as were many in the old testament, and some Sacraments in the new; and these are called divine ceremonies. Finally, some were instituted by the Apostles, or their successors, which are called Ecclesiastical ceremonies. And the partition of words is similar; for ceremonies are a certain kind of visible words. For we see some words to be natural, such as those by which we express various effects; for in the same way do all lament, sigh, laugh, etc. Others we see instituted by God, such as in Gen. 1. the name of heaven, earth, sea, and elsewhere the names of certain great men. Finally, we see others instituted by men, as when in Gen. 2. Adam gave names to the living things.

The THIRD partition is drawn from the formal cause. For some ceremonies are immediately the worship of God, such as sacrifice, prayer, adoration, etc.; some dispose to the worship of God, such as fasting, celibacy, harshness of life, etc.; some are instruments of divine worship, such as temples, altars, chalices, etc.

The FOURTH partition is from the material cause, or from the material object. For some ceremonies are concerned with persons; such as exorcisms, insufflations, the scattering of ashes, etc.; some regard times, such as feast days, vigils, Quadragesima, and thus also there are determinate times for the celebration of the Sacraments: some regard the mode, such as that the Sacraments be administered in the Latin tongue; finally, some regard things themselves, such as blessings of water, oil, vestments, palms, etc.

The FIFTH partition is taken from the accidents, so that some are universal, others particular, as the fast of the Sabbath in the times of Augustine was observed at Rome but not at Milan; and contrariwise the washing of feet after Baptism was observed at Milan, and not Rome. See Augustine epist. 118. and Ambrose lib. de Sacramentis 3. cap. 1. Likewise, some are temporary, such as abstinence from blood and things strangled, Act. 25. while others are perpetual, such as the rites of the Sacraments. Finally, some are of precept, others free, regarding which see Augustine epist. 118. Read the rest of this entry »

Bouix on the consensus of Cardinals and whether popes may bind their successors

Since we first discovered the writings of Marie-Dominique Bouix, the French canonist who made a name for himself in the 19th century combating Gallicanism and defending strenuously the rights of the Apostolic See of Peter, we have been reading him continuously—especially once we had managed to procure printed copies of his works. Again and again we are delighted to discover remarkably topical chapters and articles in his canonical treatises which, in our humble opinion, are able to shed much light on questions agitated in the controversies of our day. In the present case, it is his discussion of the relationship between the Sacred College and the Roman Pontiff, in which he treats the question of whether popes may bind their successors, that engaged our attention. Anyone familiar with the traditionalist liturgical and canonical debates about Pius V’s Quo primum and Sixtus V’s Postquam verus will be aware of the relevance of such a discussion.

The present excerpt is from Bouix’s De Curia Romana (1859), Ia pars, cap. VI, §1, prop. IV-V. A .pdf of this translation may be found here.

N.B. In the places where Bouix has not supplied a source for an assertion or an authority adduced, we have done our best to provide them ourself from likely works.

Proposition IV. — The Pope does not need the consensus of the Cardinals in order to alienate [that is, transfer] goods of the Church. — This proposition would already be proved sufficiently from the general thesis, which has now been established, that the Pope does not need the consensus of the cardinals in dispatching business concerning the rule of the Church. Yet, since there occur some special difficulties regarding the present matter and some others, it seems good to discuss them individually at present, so that the doctrine given may be confirmed all the more, and all occasion of doubt removed.

As regards ecclesiastical goods, that the Pope does not need the consensus of the Cardinals in order to alienate them can be proved thus:

He would be bound to obtain consensus of this sort, either from the sacred canons and the decrees of his predecessors which proscribe this under penalty even of nullity: or from some right proper to the cardinalitial dignity: or from some divine law: or by force of consuetude: but none of these can be said, as is proved under the following numbers:

I. In order to alienate goods of the Church, the Pope is not bound to obtain the consensus of the Cardinals from any canons or Pontifical decrees, even those requiring such consensus under penalty of nullity. — Certain it is that there are decrees which prohibit the Roman Pontiff from alienating goods of the Church without the consensus of the Cardinals. Already under Pope Symmachus we find his power constrained regarding the Pontifical alienation of goods of this sort: « Let it be forbidden for the Pope to alienate an estate of the Church for some necessity, or to give lands for usufruct; except only houses which in any cities whatsoever are sustained at no small cost. Let all custodians be bound by this law; so that the donor, the surveyor, the seller be disgraced. And he who should subscribe, let him be anathema with him who hath given it, or who hath received it, except it be restored. Let it be permitted also to any and all ecclesiastical persons to refuse, and to demand back the things alienated with the profits of the same. Which is to be observed not only in the Apostolic Church, but is also declared to pertain to all the churches throughout the provinces. » (c. Non liceat, C. XII, q. 2, ex synodo III sub Symmacho Papa, anno 499). But Gregory IX in his Constitution Rex excelsus of 16 Jan 1234, making the aforesaid ordinance of Symmachus more determinate, judged to be void any alienations of the patrimonials of the Apostolic See, unless they be done with the prior counsel and assent of the Brethren, namely, the Cardinals. Since there nevertheless afterwards followed some alienations and infeudations, those which had been done without usefulness Pius IV annulled, in his Constitution Apostolicæ servitutis; in which, after he recalled, that hitherto there have been many alienations of the things of the Roman Church done and approved by the Roman Pontiffs our predecessors, and perchance (which we relate with sorrow) by us, with no reasonable cause urging it, unto the gravest harm of the Church herself, unto the offense of God, the scandal of the people, and the evident peril of souls, those he annulled and made void. There followed the Constitution Admonet nos of Pius V, in which there is prohibited only the alienation and infeudation of fortresses, fiefs, and jurisdictional places; but in the same place it is prescribed, that the Cardinals swear to the observance of this Constitution, both in their promotion or assumption of the hat, and in conclave when the See is vacant. Likewise, that the Supreme Pontiff newly ascended should make the same oath, which he ought to repeat afterwards in his confirmatory letters. For other Pontifical ordinances regarding this matter, see Cardinal Petra, Commentaria in constitutiones apostolicas, tom. II, in Const. VI Greg. IX. Therefore there are many decrees which make the consensus of the Cardinals necessary for alienating goods of the Church. Read the rest of this entry »

Bouix on the pope heretic

Dominique Bouix, Tractatus de papa, ubi et de concilio oecumenico, vol. II , pars IIIa, cap. iii, p. 653ff.

N.B. With the exception of one instance, marked [Auth.], all footnotes have been inserted by the translator.

A .pdf version of this may be found here.



Preliminary notes. — 1° The case of heresy regarding the supreme Pontiffs is not understood to be that in which one of them, defining ex officio some dogma of faith, would define error. In this manner, no Roman Pontiff can ever be a heretic, on account of the infallibility conceded to him teaching ex cathedra, which we have proved as certain and absolutely to be held, in the second part of the present treatise. But we speak only of the case in which a Pope, as a private doctor, were to believe and pertinaciously to propound something contrary to any evident or defined article of faith, which is proper to heresy. — 2° This case is confidently invoked by the adversaries, that is, the followers of the Gallican system, in order that they might conclude that the council is superior to the Pope. Thus, for example, they argue: the Pope, even if he cannot teach heresy ex cathedra, at least as a private doctor can become a heretic: but it is necessary that a Pope heretic be able to be deposed by a general council, and hence that the council have right over the Pope: therefore in this case, at least, the Pope is subjected to the council. The major of this syllogism, that is, that there can be a case of a Pope heretic, is denied by many catholic authors, amongst whom is Albert Pighius (Hierarchiæ ecclesiasticæ assertio, lib. IV, c. viii); whose opinion is not at all dependent upon trifling reasons, such that it prevents by itself the argumentation of the adversaries from being destructive. Now, the minor, that is, that in the case of a Pope heretic there belongs to the council a right over the Pope who here and now is Pope, is rejected as certainly erroneous in the common opinion of catholic doctors. Certainly, in the times of the council of Constance, when this question began to be agitated, and even for some time after, one can find in some authors, otherwise catholic, not a few things less considerately said; as customarily happens whenever a question recently sprung up is subjected to disputations. But afterward, all approved authors have with common opinion taught that it is certain and absolutely to be held, that in the aforesaid case (supposing that it is possible), the Pope, unless he should already have fallen from the papacy through heresy, is not subjected to the council. They differ in this, whether the Pope is ipso facto through heresy deposed [depositus], or whether he is to be deposed [deponendus], or finally whether he is neither deposed nor to be deposed [nec depositus nec deponendus]. But in this threefold opinion it is equally denied that any act of jurisdiction can be exercised by the council over the Pope. Regarding the first and third, it is clear of itself; if according to the first, the Pope is no longer Pope, and hence the council, in judging him, judges not the Pope, but an ex-Pope; and according to the third, he cannot be judged by the council, nor deposed. And according to the second opinion, he indeed can and ought to be deposed, but through a mere declaration of his heresy; which declaration is not an act of jurisdiction over the Pope; but, when it has been laid down, the Pontiff is deposed by Christ himself; just as, when he has been legitimately elected, he is created by Christ himself. These things having first been noted down, we shall first explain the various opinions of the catholic doctors, who concord in denying to the council any authority over the Pope. Then we shall confute the erroneous opinion, which subjects the Pope to the council on account of the aforesaid case of heresy.

Read the rest of this entry »

Denis the Carthusian: Prooemium to the Saracens

Many things indeed have engaged our attentions over the past two months, not the least being a very debilitating fever which we contracted several weeks ago. Excepting that period of illness, we have been often engaged in the work of translating various projects, Suárez’s De bello and an early Thomist work on the common good being chief among them, though there is still much work to be done with either. (In addition to that, we have also been making our way through a very lengthy fiction series with great avidity—something we have given far too little time to in recent years.) But these of course are excuses for our inactivity here more than anything else. Recently, we were reminded of a much-neglected work by Denis the Carthusian against the Saracens, entitled Contra perfidiam Mahometi libri quatuor—that is, Against the Perfidy of Mohammed, comprising four books. We read his page-long opening address to the Muslims, to whom he primarily directed the work, and, finding it to contain noble and worthy sentiments, resolved on a whim to translate it for the pleasure of our friends on social media. We now present it for your reading, in the hope that it may be the harbinger of more material from us in the near future.

(Taken from vol. 36 of the Doctoris ecstatici D. Dionysii Cartusiani opera omnia, published in 1908.)

To the great king and powerful Ruler of the Saracens, and to all doctors and followers of the law of Mahomet, a Christian religious: to know the truth of things necessary for salvation, to read and hear with equanimity writings which are reasonable, and to arrive at true beatitude.

Because we Christians, according to the doctrine and command of our Savior Jesus Christ, ought not only to love friends, but enemies also, to do good to those who hate us, and likewise to pray for persecutors and calumniators, in order that we might be adoptive sons of the almighty Father, who makes his sun to rise over the good and the bad, and makes it to rain upon the just and the unjust; hence, in truth, Christians do in spirit love the Saracens—although the latter violently oppose themselves—and daily intercede for their illumination, conversion, and salvation. Nevertheless, this love and piety of the Christians is looked upon with scorn by the Saracens, who think themselves to be wiser and happier than the Christians; still, if they should attend patiently and diligently to those things which are written in this little work, perhaps they shall suppose or think otherwise. And so, I, the least of the servants of Christ, who have heard frequently and read a little concerning the law of Mahomet, and have always grieved for those who walk by that law—when, in the same year in which I began to write these things, I had read the Koran and the Doctrine of Mahomet and certain other things concerning it, and had reread them with very great diligence, I was touched with anguish in my heart, deploring the deception and eternal damnation of such innumerable thousands of men: in particular, because the Saracens concord with us in so many things, and because of this seem to be able to be converted with sufficient ease. Hence, for the laud and glory of God, sublime and blessed, who is worshiped profitably by Christians alone, I have set it before myself to write these things for the conversion of the Saracens, by showing to them in a clearer light their errors and the falsities of the doctrines of Mahomet, and by manifesting that the writings of the Koran are rife with errors, and implying contradiction, alas! frequently.

I furthermore desire, that as much as we Christians attentively read the writings concerning the law of the Saracens, they themselves read these things with diligence, and do not pertinaciously contradict what is most clearly true. For if (as Mahomet himself declares many times) Jesus, the son of Mary, is the Christ, absolutely no doubt is left for one who understands the scriptures of the new and old Testament, that all the Saracens, and likewise the other infidels, are in a state of eternal damnation, especially since Christ himself in the Gospel says: “I am the way, the truth, and the life; no man comes to the Father except through me.” Indeed, all the Prophets have foretold and taught this, that Christ is the savior of the whole world, nor can anyone be saved unless he believe in him, so that in the time of the evangelical law, no man can please God unless he be truly Christian. Nor does faith alone suffice, but (according to the doctrine of Christ) it is necessary to serve the superglorious and incircumscribable God with all humility, patience, charity, and the other virtues. Finally, Christ says in the Gospel: “Unless a man has been reborn of water and the Holy Ghost, he cannot enter the kingdom of God.” Since therefore the Saracens were not regenerated from water and the Holy Ghost, that is, they are not baptized, it is certain that they are damned. And it suffices now to have touched upon these things, seeing that they shall be proved most clearly in what follows below.

Manualist Monday: Benedict XIV on communicatio in divinis with heretics

After a rather extended hiatus, occasioned by some personal mortifications on our part and the subsequent onset of Lent, we return with a short piece, the posting of which has been far too long delayed. This is taken from the great treatise De synodo dioecesano of Prospero Lorenzo Lambertini, better known as Pope Benedict XIV—surely one of the most learned men to have graced the Chair of Peter, certainly as regards juridical and canonical subjects. The learnéd Pontiff here presents a brief but altogether luculent and forceful account of the Church’s traditional condemnation of communication in divinis with heretics, drawing from Scripture as well as the documents, decrees, and treatises of Councils, popes, and the theologians. (N.B. We have inserted hyperlinks and a few footnotes, in order to make immediately available to the curious and Latinate reader some further readings and sources to which Benedict makes reference.)

Benedictus XIV Pont. Opt. Maximus, De synodo dioecesano lib. VI, cap. 5, in Opera omnia (ed. Prati, 1844) vol. XI, p. 157ff.


Those things which were said in the preceding chapter, are confirmed by the example of the communion of Catholics with Heretics in divinis, and so also of the Matrimony of Catholics with Heretics.

I. The degree to which the Church has abominated the fellowship of Catholics with heretics, is clearly proved from the second epistle of the Apostle John, in which, in verses 10 and 11, he admonished his disciples in this wise: If any man come to you, and bring not this doctrine, receive him not into the house nor say to him, God speed you. For he that saith unto him, God speed you, communicateth with his wicked works. And moreover, from the epistle of the Apostle Paul to Titus, chap. 3, v. 10: A man that is a heretic, after the first and second admonition, avoid. Hence the same Apostle John, in order that he might precede others by his own example, refused to wash in the same bathhouse with Cerinthus the heretic, but said to his fellows: Let us flee more swiftly, lest the bathhouse, in which is Cerinthus the adversary of truth, should topple forthwith: as Irenaeus, Jerome, and Epiphanius testify. And St. Polycarp the bishop of Smyrna, instructed by the example of his Teacher, hostile and not daring to return the salutation to Marcion, who had greeted him, said: I know the firstborn of the devil. And so tenacious was the great Anthony in the discipline of this kind, that of him Athanasius writes, in De vita Antonii, num. 68, tom. 1, part. 2. Oper. pag. 847: Never did he communicate with the Meletian schismatics, considering from the beginning their proven malice and defection. Nor did he ever exchange words amicably with the Manichæans, or with any other heretics whatsoever, except for the sake of admonishing, in order that, their opinion being changed, they might hold to the godly Faith, regarding as he did their friendship and conversations to be harmful and pernicious to the soul; and he warned others likewise. Innumerable Canons of the Church have renewed this prohibition, but most of all do they press hard lest Catholics should communicate with heretics in sacred things, or lest they should frequent the gatherings of the same. Amongst the Apostolic Canons, the Forty-Fifth, known alternately as the Thirty-Seventh, sets down: Let the Bishop, Presbyter, and Deacon who should merely pray with heretics be deprived of communion: and the Sixty-Fifth, alternately the Sixty-Fourth or Fifty-Seventh: If any cleric or lay person should enter into a synagogue of the Jews, or of heretics, in order to pray, let him be put away, and separated. The Synod of Laodicea decreed something similar in can. 9 from the version of Dionysius Exiguus, tom. 1 of Collect. Harduinus col. 781: That Ecclesiastics are not permitted at the cemeteries of heretics, or to accede to those which by them are called martyr’s graves, for the sake of prayer or service: but ones of this sort, if they should be Faithful, are to be deprived of communion for a certain time. And the Fourth Council of Carthage, canon. 72. tom. 1. of Collect. Harduinus col. 983, which council Augustine praises in a sermon to the people of Mauretania Cæsariensis, says: One must neither pray nor sing psalms with heretics. Hence Cyril of Jerusalem, in catech. IV. n. 37. in fin. bids his catechumen to despise all the assemblies of the perfidious heretics: and the same is advised by the other Fathers, whom Christianus Lupus adduces in schol. et not. ad canon. Concil. tom. 5. edition. Venet. pag. 60 et seq. Read the rest of this entry »

Victor Cathrein SJ on society, social activity, and the partition of society

We present today a rather short text on society, taken from an influential manual, the Philosophia moralis of Victor Cathrein, SJ, which went through twenty-one editions. To our knowledge, this work is an abridged Latin recension of his larger two-volume work in German, Moralphilosophie, which may be found here and here. The present translation is taken from Philosophia moralis, IIa pars, lib. II, cap. 1, a. 1-3.



426. We have hitherto considered man according to individual relations; now we shall treat of the same as a member of society. And because natural society is principally twofold, domestic and civil, we shall consider both separately in chapter 2 and 3, the general notions about society having been set forth in chapter 1. In chapter 4, finally, we shall set down the question concerning the relations of diverse civil societies among themselves, that is, of international law.





(Zallinger, Institut. nat. n. 166. Meyer, Institut. iuris nat. I, n. 347.)

427. 1. A society is a moral and stable union of many, working in harmony by their acts toward some common end.

It is called a) a moral union, i.e. of that sort which is effected by spiritual bonds, from which hence there is excluded not only the aggregation of irrational beings, as a crowd of apes, but also a multitude of men brought together into one place and not united except by an external bond, e.g. a multitude of men congregated for market day. For a true society it is required, that its members know the common end, and are secured by mutual duties and rights in an order for willing this end, and, with united powers, attaining it.

b) stable, because a transitory union which is for a momentary end, or which is to be dissolved, its singular endeavor having been completed, is not properly called a society.

428. 2. From these things, it is clear that the material element of society is the multitude, but the formal element is the moral union itself. This moral union is effected by a twofold principle:

a) a common end, which specifies the society and of itself is already capable of effecting, to a certain degree, unity of minds and wills. Nevertheless, for a constant and ordered union in cooperating, taking into account the liberty of men and the diversity of judgments and powers, of itself a common end alone does not suffice, but there is required in addition

b) some element in the real order, which primarily consists in a mutual obligation in respect of the same end. There is further required some principle, which constantly and efficaciously directs free will to the common end, namely authority, which is a necessary element of society and may be defined: the right of obliging members of society, so that they might cooperate by their acts for the common good.

In any society, authority, as the principle of social union, cannot but be one, and ought to inhere in some real subject, and indeed by exclusive right. This subject is called a superior. By reason of social union, society brings forth the similitude of a person, or it institutes a new person—not indeed physical, but moral—which has its own being and activity proper to itself. Read the rest of this entry »

Manualist Monday: Cardinal Billot on the baptism of children, and ecclesiastical jurisdiction over the baptized

Having returned from our holiday “break”, we present for this Manualist Monday another text on baptism, from the esteemed traditional Jesuit theologian Louis Cardinal Billot’s commentary on the Tertia Pars of St. Thomas. This excerpt, consisting of the two Theses concerning pædobaptism, deals directly with the topic of ecclesial jurisdiction over all the baptized, hence our interest in it. We think it good for the reader to pay special attention to the very important argument that the Cardinal makes in footnote 6, regarding the causal rôle played by human consent in the reception of baptism and the sacramental character thereof.

Card. Louis Billot, De Ecclesiae sacramentis vol. 1, In IIIam, Q. 68, Theses XXVII-XXVIII, pp. 267ff.


(Art. 9).

The children of the faithful are to be baptized. But those baptized in infancy, when they shall have come to the age of discretion, do not have the right of ratifying by their own decision that which the patrons promised in their name, but, whether they wish it or not, they remain perpetually bound by all the obligations of Christians.

Concerning the baptism of infants, the Anabaptists have erred most of all, who, led by Müntzer (in 1522) began to teach that no one is rightly baptized unless of adult age, and thus not only did they abstain from baptizing children, but they even rebaptized those who had been baptized as children, whence they claimed the name of Anabaptists for themselves. These ones, amongst all the initiators of the Pseudo-Reformation, stand out for their truculent fierceness; undaunted, they have with implacable logic taken the principles of Protestantism to their ultimate conclusions; and in them, finally, as Bellarmine notes,[1] there appears the greatest rage of Satan against the human race, who, not being content that innumerable souls of adult men have perished through the Lutherans and the Sacramentarians, wished also that the souls of infants should perish through the Anabaptists. But Erasmus, the guide and teacher of all the liberals of our age, inasmuch as he was imbued with the principles of the Protestants wherever, introduced another error. For he taught, that men baptized in infancy, when they had reached manhood, should be asked whether they would ratify what had been promised in their name in baptism; and if they should refuse, they ought to be dismissed free, and not be subjected in any way to the coercion of the Church. Against all of these errors, there advance the Tridentine anathemas, sess. VII, can. 11-14 on baptism: «If anyone should say, that no one is to be baptized, save at that age at which Christ was baptized, or in the very article of death, let him be anathema. — If anyone should say, that little children, having received baptism, for that they have not the act of believing, are not to be accounted amongst the faithful, and furthermore, when they shall arrive at the years of discretion, are to be rebaptized, or that it is preferable that the baptism of such be omitted than that they, not believing by their own act, be baptized in the faith alone of the Church, let him be anathema.» Cf. also the Second Council of Malta, can. 2,[2] and the Fourth Lateran Council, cap. Firmiter.[3]

Moreover, if we speak at present of the children of believers, the reason is not that others are excluded, but that a special question will be considered concerning these others, as has been premised above. Read the rest of this entry »