Syllabus errorum

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The Syllabus errorum ( Greek-Latin "directory of errors") is a list of 80 theses that were published by Pope Pius IX. were convicted as wrong. The Syllabus errorum , often also referred to as Syllabus for short , was published on December 8, 1864, together with the encyclical Quanta Cura, which claims to be more binding .


The sentences condemning the errors cited repeat the doctrinal statements of Pope Pius from other documents. The syllabus is divided into ten paragraphs (the numbers of the corresponding theses in brackets):

The Syllabus errorum is an excerpt from previous encyclicals , speeches, letters and apostolic letters from Pius IX. It must be seen in connection with internal church disputes about so-called liberal Catholicism, but also with the disputes between the Catholic Church and the liberal constitutional states ( Kulturkampf ), which emerged as early as the middle of the 19th century . After a very long preparation period of around 15 years, the syllabus was published on the occasion of a worsening domestic political situation in Italy. Because by the national unification of Italy, the Risorgimento , who went Papal States the pope gradually lost. As the research of Giacomo Martina has shown, the specific triggers also included the liberal Catholic demands of Charles de Montalembert and Ignaz von Döllinger .

The polarizing effect of the papal defensive strategy led to serious misunderstandings in France and many other countries. The Pope then expressly approved the mitigating interpretation given by the Bishop of Orléans Félix Dupanloup to the syllabus . Dupanloup distinguished between the thesis and the hypothesis : The condemnations of the syllabus only formulate the general principle (the thesis). However, this does not rule out that Catholics can also make concrete compromises in the respective special situation (the hypothesis). For example, where they themselves are in the small minority, they will not demand that Catholicism be privileged as the state religion, but will be content with mere tolerance. Where they form a larger group alongside other denominations and religions, they will only demand parity of rights. The ideal of Catholicism as the only publicly and freely practicable religion (the thesis in the sense of sentence 77 of the syllabus) is thus limited to the quasi-purely Catholic states. The distinction between thesis and hypothesis became fundamental for the Catholic doctrine of the state up to the Second Vatican Council .

The German translation of the syllabus was approved by the church in 1865.

Examples of theses condemned in the Syllabus errorum

1. There is no supreme, wisest and above all foreseeing divine being that is different from the totality of this world. God is at the same time like the essence of things and therefore subject to change. In reality, God is a becoming in man and in the world. Everything is God and has its own essence. God and the world are one and the same power and cause. Therefore, spirit and matter, necessity and freedom, truth and falsehood, good and bad, right and wrong are one and the same.

2. Every influence of God on people and on the world is to be denied.

3. Without our having to relate it in any way to God, human reason is the only judge of truth and falsehood, of good and evil. It is law in itself and, with its natural strength, is sufficient to secure the well-being of people and peoples.

15. Everyone is free to accept and profess that religion which he, guided by the light of reason, considers to be true.

16. People can find the way of eternal salvation and attain eternal bliss by practicing any religion.

17. At least one can have good hope in the eternal salvation of all who do not live in the true Church of Christ.

18. Protestantism is nothing more than a different form of the same Christian religion in which it is just as possible to please God as in the Catholic Church.

20. Church authorities may not exercise their authority without the permission and consent of the state authority (reference to the allocation Meminit unusquisque ).

39. The state has the source and origin of all rights and therefore an absolute right.

60. Authority means nothing else than the epitome of the quantity of numbers and the totality of material forces.

61. Successful injustice does not harm the sanctity of law in any way (reference to the Iamdudum cernimus allocation ).

62. The so-called principle of non-interference must be promulgated and observed (reference to the Novos et ante allocation ).

77. In our time it is no longer useful for the Catholic religion to be the only state religion to the exclusion of all other cults.

78. It is to be praised, therefore, that in certain Catholic countries it is legally prescribed that immigrants should be allowed to practice their cult in public, whatever it may be.

79. For it is wrong that the state freedom for every cult and the authority granted to all to freely and publicly express their opinions and thoughts leads to the corruption of the spirit and customs of the peoples and to the spread of the plague of indifferentism.

80. The Roman Pope can and must reconcile and unite with progress, liberalism and today's civilization (the allocation Iamdudum cernimus from March 18, 1861 , which deals with this in detail, served as the basis for this point ).

Interpretation and meaning

The Syllabus errorum is the subject of controversial discussions, and the current dispute over the direction in the Catholic Church occasionally refers back to it. Pius' successor Leo XIII. weakened some statements of the syllabus in practice, for example in relation to the Third French Republic . With the Second Vatican Council , some of the key statements of the syllabus were de facto discarded, especially with the declaration Dignitatis humanae on the human right to religious freedom from 1965. The traditionalist Pius Brotherhood rejects this development of the doctrine and recognizes it in the sense of integralism in particular in sentences 15-18 and 77-80 of the syllabus an outline of an anti-modern Catholic worldview. Traditionalists view these condemnations as an integral part of Catholic tradition.

By rejecting, for example, Sentence 39 or Sentence 60, which at the time was directed against interference by the nation states in the church's right to self-determination , political totalitarianism has also stood outside the limits of Catholic teaching since its appearance after the First World War . Therefore, communism , National Socialism , Italian fascism and Action française were later condemned. From today's perspective, the demarcation from totalitarianism is a permanent value. The authoritarian corporatism and the dictatorial form of government itself ( corporate state in Austria , Franquism in Spain , Estado Novo in Portugal , etc.), which the Catholic Church only since the Second World War (Christmas address by Pope Pius XII), was not affected by this demarcation . opposed to the encyclical Pacem in Terris of 1963 and the council constitution Gaudium et spes of 1965.

With regard to the interpretation, it should be noted that up to the beginning of the 20th century church doctrinal condemnations preferably followed the scheme of rejecting certain sentences. However, this legal method provokes misunderstandings when the judgments addressed to specialist theologians are interpreted by broader circles. Because, according to the self-understanding of the Church, these contradictory judgments contain no statement about the correctness of the opposite. The “contrary” sentences are therefore not taught “positively”. For example, sentence 80 does not prohibit dialogue with the modern world and does not forbid any adaptation to every conceivable progress. Sentence 80 formulated a defense against progress and liberalism of the years around 1864. The papacy was not ready to submit to the primacy of politics. This is the enduring content of the papal self-image, which was irreconcilably expressed in the 19th century, but turned to the needs of the time from the encyclical Rerum Novarum of 1891.

Overall, Pope Pius IX, at that time still a monarch in the papal state, resisted the intervention of the modern state in an area that, in his view, was exclusively subject to ecclesiastical authority.

Since the Second Vatican Council the Church has accepted that a state polity, e.g. B. builds on sentences 15, 77, 78, while the beliefs of Catholicism continue to reject the universal truth of sentence 16. Sentences 77-80 presuppose the concept of the Catholic state. If this is no longer viable, they do not ask for it to be re-established. Because overall, the syllabus was devoted to the errors of time of that time, especially their effects on the relationship between state and church. But he does not reject "eternal errors". From today's perspective, the syllabus does not provide a general outline of the Catholic worldview; rather, this statement on the relationship between church and state, religion and society marks the starting point that led to the elaboration of a Catholic social doctrine .


Web links

Individual evidence

  1. ^ Giacomo Martina: Verso il sillabo. Il parere del barnabita Bilio sul discorso di Montalembert a Malines nell'Agosto 1863 . In: Archivum Historiae Pontificiae 36 (1998), pp. 137-181
  2. ^ Giacomo Martina: Pio IX: 1851-1866. Rome 1986, pp. 352-356.
  3. Rudolf Uertz: From God's right to human right. Catholic state thinking in Germany from the French Revolution to the Second Vatican Council (1789-1965). Schöningh, Paderborn 2005, pp. 110-118.
  4. ^ Owen Chadwick: A History of the Popes, 1830-1914. Oxford University Press, Oxford 1973, pp. 293-296.
  5. ^ Christian Dahlke: The Pius Brotherhood and the Second Vatican Council. universaar, Saarbrücken 2012 .