The Oath Against Modernism

September 1 was the 97th Anniversary of the Oath Against Modernism, once required of all Catholic priests; September 8 was the 100th anniversary of the anti-modernist encyclical Pascendi Dominic Gregis; and September 3 was the feast of their author, Pope St. Pius X, according to the traditional calendar. Stony Creek Digest, a purportedly traditionalist blog, did not bother to mention any of these. So in commemoration of them all, we now reprint the still VERY relevant Oath Against Modernism in the hopes that faithful Catholics will remain alert to this heresy.


Given by His Holiness St. Pius X September 1, 1910.

To be sworn to by all clergy, pastors, confessors, preachers, religious superiors, and professors in philosophical-theological seminaries.

I . . . . firmly embrace and accept each and every definition that has been set forth and declared by the unerring teaching authority of the Church, especially those principal truths which are directly opposed to the errors of this day.

And first of all, I profess that God, the origin and end of all things, can be known with certainty by the natural light of reason from the created world (see Rom. 1:90), that is, from the visible works of creation, as a cause from its effects, and that, therefore, his existence can also be demonstrated:

Secondly, I accept and acknowledge the external proofs of revelation, that is, divine acts and especially miracles and prophecies as the surest signs of the divine origin of the Christian religion and I hold that these same proofs are well adapted to the understanding of all eras and all men, even of this time.

Thirdly, I believe with equally firm faith that the Church, the guardian and teacher of the revealed word, was personally instituted by the real and historical Christ when he lived among us, and that the Church was built upon Peter, the prince of the apostolic hierarchy, and his successors for the duration of time.

Fourthly, I sincerely hold that the doctrine of faith was handed down to us from the apostles through the orthodox Fathers in exactly the same meaning and always in the same purport. Therefore, I entirely reject the heretical’ misrepresentation that dogmas evolve and change from one meaning to another different from the one which the Church held previously. I also condemn every error according to which, in place of the divine deposit which has been given to the spouse of Christ to be carefully guarded by her, there is put a philosophical figment or product of a human conscience that has gradually been developed by human effort and will continue to develop indefinitely.

Fifthly, I hold with certainty and sincerely confess that faith is not a blind sentiment of religion welling up from the depths of the subconscious under the impulse of the heart and the motion of a will trained to morality; but faith is a genuine assent of the intellect to truth received by hearing from an external source. By this assent, because of the authority of the supremely truthful God, we believe to be true that which has been revealed and attested to by a personal God, our creator and lord.

Furthermore, with due reverence, I submit and adhere with my whole heart to the condemnations, declarations, and all the prescripts contained in the encyclical Pascendi and in the decree Lamentabili, especially those concerning what is known as the history of dogmas.

I also reject the error of those who say that the faith held by the Church can contradict history, and that Catholic dogmas, in the sense in which they are now understood, are irreconcilable with a more realistic view of the origins of the Christian religion.

I also condemn and reject the opinion of those who say that a well-educated Christian assumes a dual personality-that of a believer and at the same time of a historian, as if it were permissible for a historian to hold things that contradict the faith of the believer, or to establish premises which, provided there be no direct denial of dogmas, would lead to the conclusion that dogmas are either false or doubtful.

Likewise, I reject that method of judging and interpreting Sacred Scripture which, departing from the tradition of the Church, the analogy of faith, and the norms of the Apostolic See, embraces the misrepresentations of the rationalists and with no prudence or restraint adopts textual criticism as the one and supreme norm.

Furthermore, I reject the opinion of those who hold that a professor lecturing or writing on a historico-theological subject should first put aside any preconceived opinion about the supernatural origin of Catholic tradition or about the divine promise of help to preserve all revealed truth forever; and that they should then interpret the writings of each of the Fathers solely by scientific principles, excluding all sacred authority, and with the same liberty of judgment that is common in the investigation of all ordinary historical documents.

Finally, I declare that I am completely opposed to the error of the modernists who hold that there is nothing divine in sacred tradition; or what is far worse, say that there is, but in a pantheistic sense, with the result that there would remain nothing but this plain simple fact-one to be put on a par with the ordinary facts of history-the fact, namely, that a group of men by their own labor, skill, and talent have continued through subsequent ages a school begun by Christ and his apostles.

I firmly hold, then, and shall hold to my dying breath the belief of the Fathers in the charism of truth, which certainly is, was, and always will be in the succession of the episcopacy from the apostles. The purpose of this is, then, not that dogma may be tailored according to what seems better and more suited to the culture of each age; rather, that the absolute and immutable truth preached by the apostles from the beginning may never be believed to be different, may never be understood in any other way.

I promise that I shall keep all these articles faithfully, entirely, and sincerely, and guard them inviolate, in no way deviating from them in teaching or in any way in word or in writing. Thus I promise, this I swear, so help me God. . .


One thought on “The Oath Against Modernism

  1. Jeff
    But the rise of rationalist biblical sholarship in the Catholic culture is a completed event. Read the Jerome Biblical Commentary or read “Birth of the Messiah” by Fr. Raymond Brown who was appointed twice to the Pontifical Biblical Commission by Paul VI and by John Paul II. Inter alia Brown held that Mary never said nor originated the Magnificat (pages 346-353 ibid) but that it was written by Palestinian Anawim and then put in the gospel by Luke to make the gospel look like similar commissions of women in the OT where such women then said canticles.
    So what those encyclicals feared already has taken place with the help of Popes.
    Do I turn rightward as a result? No. I read the history of mistakes within the Church and they are manifold and one learns to draw closer only to the infallible level and leave the non infallible level to its confusions which are recurring. Theologians like Avery Dulles seem to change history in order for the Church to look good in the non infallible areas also(see his 2005 Oct. First Things critique of Noonan’s history of slavery within the Church). Theologians change history in order for the Church to be correct in areas where She never said she was infallible…..morals when not infallibly defined e.g. Historians are actually a safer or more truthful read because they are not busy making the non infallible look infallible. We not only covered up in regard to the sex abuse horror…but our theologian oriented people are forever covering up e.g. the usury mistake and the slavery permission as regards those born into slavery (which the bulls never opposed really because such Popes would then have had to change canons or decretals that allowed just titled slavery (which Aquinas gives the cites for in the Supplement to the ST) and they did not….and they would have had to condemn the moral theology tomes like that of St. Alponsus that allowed just titled slavery (as did Trent’s catechism…see 10th commandment) and did not. But Dulles never tells one that nor do theology people…history people like Noonan do. But to return to your encyclicals…the accession of rationist approaches to the bible is a fait accompli….and is the reason one no longer finds jurisdictional husband headship in the catechism which John Paul said was a sure account of the faith….once again he was implying infallibility in an area where it did not occur nor does the Church say it occurs.


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