Anti-modernist oath

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The so-called anti - modernist oath was an oath introduced on September 1, 1910 by Pope Pius X by means of the motu proprio “Sacrorum antistitum”. It had to be discarded by clerics of the Catholic Church . The oath turns against those doctrines that are called modernism and as early as 1864 in the Syllabus errorum of Pope Pius IX. were convicted. It refers to the then known documents Pascendi and Lamentabili (both from 1907).

In 1967 Pope Paul VI succeeded. the anti-modernist oath and replaced it with a creed . Without repeating the doctrinal condemnations, however, the same Pope affirmed in 1968 the essential contents of the faith of Catholicism in the Creed of the People of God .


first section

The oath-taker swears to accept the statements of faith of the Church Magisterium , in particular the following five main points, which stand in opposition to the "errors of the present":

  • First: “I confess that God, the origin and the end of all things, with the natural light of reason through what is created, i. H. through the visible works of creation , as cause by means of effect, can be recognized with certainty and also proven ”(see also the article Natural Theology ).
  • Second, “I accept the external evidence of Revelation ; H. the works of God, primarily the miracles and prophecies , as very sure signs of the divine origin of the Christian religion . I hold that they are best adapted to the spirit of all times and people, including the present. "
  • Thirdly: “I firmly believe that the Church, the guardian and teacher of the revealed Word , instituted directly or directly through the true and historical Christ Himself, during his life among us, and that she is committed to Peter , Prince of the Apostolic Hierarchy, and was built on his constant successors. "
  • Fourthly: Here the unreserved acceptance of the unchangeable doctrine of the faith is demanded, “which always came to us from the apostles through the orthodox fathers in the same sense and in the same meaning.” Consequently, the “unbelieving invention” of a “development of beliefs must be rejected "(Ie the notion of being bound by time and the historical further development of magisterial statements) and the assumption that beliefs arose through the" invention of our thinking "or the" creation of human consciousness "and that they would" be completed in the future in unlimited progress "(i.e., develop further).
  • Fifth: The confession is required “that faith is not a blind religious feeling [...], but that it is a true consent of the intellect to the truth received from outside through hearing , through which we refer to the authority of God the All-Truthful believe to be true what has been said, testified and revealed to us by personal God, our Creator and Lord. "

second part

In this section, consent to the following convictions is to be sworn:

  • The error of all those who claimed that ecclesiastical faith could contradict history and that today's Catholic dogmas cannot be reconciled with the reliable sources of the Christian religion is to be condemned .
  • It condemns the opinion that the Christian scholar can unite two persons, one who believes and one who investigates, so that the historian may be allowed to hold as true what the same person from the standpoint of faith as must recognize incorrectly.
  • The error of those who assert that the teacher who deals with questions of historical theology or whoever deals with this subject as a writer must first free himself from all presuppositions, be it with regard to the supernatural origin of the Catholic tradition, is rejected it with regard to the divine aid of every part of revealed truth.
  • Furthermore, all those are condemned, among other things , who do not recognize anything divine in Christian tradition or who interpret this tradition in the sense of pantheism in such a way that a simple fact remains that is equal to any other historical tradition.

Addressees of the oath

The oath had to be taken:

Impact and reception

When Pope Pius X demanded the anti-modernist oath in 1910, he sparked polemics that lasted for years . Liberal Protestantism , research into the life of Jesus , entire schools of biblical studies and Darwinism were sharply rejected; Those who did not want to follow the Pope in this had to limit or even stop their church activities. As the fundamental studies by Judith Schepers in the Historical Archives of the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith have shown, the cardinals of the Sanctum Officium did not regard the oath as a creed, but merely as a disciplinary declaration of attachment to ecclesiastical authority. Oath refusers like the German church historian Franz Sales Wieland (1872–1957) were therefore not excommunicated , but merely excluded from pastoral care. The cardinals opposed the view of the authors of the oath, the consultors Louis Billot and Wilhelmus Marinus van Rossum .

Opponents saw in this oath an offensive violation of scientific freedom; Proponents welcomed the distinctive demarcation of a "orthodox", traditional theology z. B. towards fads.


  • Adolf Ten Hompel: Uditore Heiner and the anti-modernist oath. Aphorisms and openings to Franz Heiner's work on the measurement rules of Pius X. (= borderline questions. Informal appearing contributions to the ideological struggles and cultural problems of the present. Issue 1, ZDB -ID 1216677-7 ). Coppenrath, Münster 1910.
  • Franz Heiner: Attorneys ten Hompel and Uditore Heiner. Or the anti-modernist oath and the Münster culture society. Pörtgen, Münster 1911.
  • Hermann Mulert : Antimodernisteneid, free research and theological faculties (= pamphlets of the Evangelical Federation 308/309, ZDB -ID 573402-2 ). With appendix: The Anti-Modernisteneid, Latin and German along with documents. Verlag des Evangelischen Bund, Halle 1911.
  • Alkuin Volker Schachenmayr : The Reception of the Anti-Modernist Envy in Vienna , in: Forum Katholische Theologie 28 (2012), pp. 33–49.
  • Judith Schepers: Brothers at war. A parallel biographical approach to the modernism controversy and the anti-modernist oath using the example of Franz and Konstantin Wieland. Paderborn u. a. 2016. ISBN 978-3-506-77790-4 .
  • Simon Weber : Theology as free science and the real enemies of scientific freedom. A word about the dispute over the anti-modernist oath. Herder, Freiburg (Breisgau) et al. 1912.
  • Hubert Wolf (ed.): Anti-modernism and modernism in the Catholic Church. Contributions to the historical run-up to Vatican II (= program and impact history of Vatican II 2). Ferdinand Schöningh Verlag, Paderborn u. a. 1998, ISBN 3-506-73762-7 .
  • Hubert Wolf, Judith Schepers (ed.): “In a wild, unbridled hunt for something new”. 100 years of modernism and anti-modernism in the Catholic Church (= Roman Inquisition and Index Congregation 12). Ferdinand Schöningh Verlag, Paderborn u. a. 2009, ISBN 978-3-506-76511-6 .

Web links

Individual evidence

  1. Nikolaus Wyrwoll in