This is a follow up to an earlier post I had written, “Can we trust Pope Benedict XVI.” Some of the comments sparked a bit of discussion, so I figured I would double down. As is were, I’m not sure of you’ve heard of Unigenitus or not, but it is the name of a particular apostolic constitution [which is the highest level of decree from a Pope] Apostolic constitutions are by nature meant to be addressed to the public, in the form of a papal bull. This particular one was promulgated by Pope Clement XI in 1713, with the express purpose of condemning 101 propositions of a man named Pasquier Quesnel.
Two things struck me about this. One is the clarity in which the Church of Rome has condemned the gospel of Jesus Christ and the reading of scripture. The second is the force and vehemence in which they do so. At the end of this papal bull, it is reiterated that these things are “Declared and condemned as false, captious, evil-sounding, offensive to pious ears, scandalous, pernicious, rash, injurious to the Church and her practice, insulting not only to the Church but also the secular powers, seditious, impious, blasphemous, suspected of heresy, and smacking of heresy itself, and, besides, favoring heretics and heresies, and also schisms, erroneous, close to heresy, many times condemned, and finally heretical, clearly renewing many heresies respectively and most especially those which are contained in the infamous propositions of Jansen, and indeed accepted in that sense in which these have been condemned.”
In Henrich Denzinger’s book- a famous German catholic scholar where much of the research was done- we see that this dogmatic constitution Unigenitus was confirmed supported by many of the Popes to follow. I quote “It was confirmed by the same Clement XI in the Bull “Pastoralis Officii” (Aug. 28, 1718) against the Appellantes, in which he declares that certain Catholics “who did not accept the Bull “Unigenitus” were clearly outside the bosom of the Roman Church; by Innocent XIII in a decree published on Jan. 8, 1722; by Benedict XIII and the Roman Synod in 1725; by Benedict XIV in his encyclical in 1756, by the Gallic clergy in assemblies in 1723, 1726, 1730, by the councils of Avignon 1725 and Ebred, 1727, and by the whole Catholic world.”
In fact, here is what Pope Benedict XIV said about the bull Unigenitus: “The authority of the apostolic constitution which begins with the word Unigenitus is certainly so great and lays claim everywhere to such sincere veneration and obedience that no one can withdraw the submission due it or oppose it without risking the loss of eternal salvation.” Encyclical of Pope Benedict XIV. October 16, 1756.
Now the Church of Rome will look back on this and impose the great anachronism known as “Ex-cathedra” and say “Well, they were not speaking infallibly when they taught this, and so they were not trying to speak authoritatively for the entire church or confirm any theology” or something along those lines
But here is what I want to know- do you think at the time when this apostolic constitution [which again, is the highest level of decree from the Pope] was written and disseminated, that the pope was trying to communicate truth to the people? Do you think he and the other Popes who affirmed it intended this papal bull to be followed by the public and by loyal Roman Catholics? Do you think they considered it optional or unimportant? Do you think they believed that what they were teaching was something completely out there, or did they believe they was following in the sacred traditions which they always believed taught and confessed? Do you think that they believed they had precedent? Do you think they believed they were speaking with all the authority which they had been given, and if you were a loyal Roman Catholic listening to this public proclamation, knowing that it was approved of and supported by four different Popes, what would you think of the message? Do you believe it would binding? Would you think to yourself “This is the de facto position of the church of Rome. This what they teach, no doubt about it”?
How could you not?
And what are some of these damnable, grave, super-heretical errors found in the Unigenitus, by which believing them can result in the loss of salvation? What are these scandalous beliefs?
- 79. It is useful and necessary at all times, in all places, and for every kind of person, to study and to know the spirit, the piety, and the mysteries of Sacred Scripture.
- 80. The reading of Sacred Scripture is for all.
- 81. The sacred obscurity of the Word of God is no reason for the laity to dispense themselves from reading it.
- 82. The Lord’s Day ought to be sanctified by Christians with readings of pious works and above all of the Holy Scriptures. It is harmful for a Christian to wish to withdraw from this reading.
- 83. It is an illusion to persuade oneself that knowledge of the mysteries of religion should not be communicated to women by the reading of Sacred Scriptures. Not from the simplicity of women, but from the proud knowledge of men has arisen the abuse of the Scriptures, and have heresies been born.
- 84. To snatch away from the hands of Christians the New Testament, or to hold it closed against them by taking away from them the means of understanding it, is to close for them the mouth of Christ.
- 85. To forbid Christians to read Sacred Scripture, especially the Gospels, is to forbid the use of light to the sons of light, and to cause them to suffer a kind of excommunication.
The Power of God in Salvation
- 30. All whom God wishes to save through Christ, are infallibly saved.
- 31. The desires of Christ always have their effect; He brings peace to the depth of hearts when He desires it for them.
- 32. Jesus Christ surrendered Himself to death to free forever from the hand of the exterminating angel, by His blood, the first born, that is, the elect.
Justification by Faith that Works through Love
- 51. Faith justifies when it operates, but it does not operate except through charity.
Faith as the Gift of God
- 69. Faith, practice of it, increase, and reward of faith, all are a gift of the pure liberality of God.
- 72. A mark of the Christian Church is that it is catholic, embracing all the angels of heaven, all the elect and the just on earth, and of all times.
- 73. What is the Church except an assembly of the sons of God abiding in His bosom, adopted in Christ, subsisting in His person, redeemed by His blood, living in His spirit, acting through His grace, and awaiting the grace of the future life?
- 74. The Church or the whole Christ has the Incarnate Word as head, but all the saints as members.
- 75. The Church is one single man composed of many members, of which Christ is the head, the life, the subsistence and the person; it is one single Christ composed of many saints, of whom He is the sanctifier.
- 38. Without the grace of the Liberator, the sinner is not free except to do evil.
- 39. The will, which grace does not anticipate, has no light except for straying, no eagerness except to put itself in danger, no strength except to wound itself, and is capable of all evil and incapable of all good.
- 40. Without grace we can love nothing except to our own condemnation.
- 41. All knowledge of God, even natural knowledge, even in the pagan philosophers, cannot come except from God; and without grace knowledge produces nothing but presumption, vanity, and opposition to God Himself, instead of the affections of adoration, gratitude, and love.
- 42. The grace of Christ alone renders a man fit for the sacrifice of faith; without this there is nothing but impurity, nothing but unworthiness.
- 48. What else can we be except darkness, except aberration, and except sin, without the light of faith, without Christ, and without charity?
The Absolute Necessity of Grace
- 1. What else remains for the soul that has lost God and His grace except sin and the consequences of sin, a proud poverty and a slothful indigence, that is, a general impotence for labor, for prayer, and for every good work?
- 2. The grace of Jesus Christ, which is the efficacious principle of every kind of good, is necessary for every good work; without it, not only is nothing done, but nothing can be done.
- 5. When God does not soften a heart by the interior unction of His grace, exterior exhortations and graces are of no service except to harden it the more.
- 9. The grace of Christ is a supreme grace, without which we can never confess Christ, and with which we never deny Him.
The Irresistibility of Grace
- 10. Grace is the working of the omnipotent hand of God, which nothing can hinder or retard.
- 11. Grace is nothing else than the omnipotent Will of God, ordering and doing what He orders.
- 12. When God wishes to save a soul, at whatever time and at whatever place, the undoubted effect follows the Will of God.
- 13. When God wishes to save a soul and touches it with the interior hand of His grace, no human will resists Him.
- 14. Howsoever remote from salvation an obstinate sinner is, when Jesus presents Himself to be seen by him in the salutary light of His grace, the sinner is forced to surrender himself, to have recourse to Him, and to humble himself, and to adore his Savior.
- 15. When God accompanies His commandment and His eternal exhortation by the unction of His Spirit and by the interior force of His grace, He works that obedience in the heart that He is seeking.
- 16. There are no attractions which do not yield to the attractions of grace, because nothing resists the Almighty.
- 17. Grace is that voice of the Father which teaches men interiorly and makes them come to Jesus Christ; whoever does not come to Him, after he has heard the exterior voice of the Son, is in no wise taught by the Father.
You can read the full list of the aforementioned which are again, Declared and condemned as false, captious, evil-sounding, offensive to pious ears, scandalous, pernicious, rash, injurious to the Church and her practice, insulting not only to the Church but also the secular powers seditious, impious, blasphemous, suspected of heresy, and smacking of heresy itself, and, besides, favoring heretics and heresies, and also schisms, erroneous, close to heresy, many times condemned, and finally heretical, clearly renewing many heresies respectively and most especially those which are contained in the infamous propositions of Jansen, and indeed accepted in that sense in which these have been condemned.