PIUS IX 1846-1878

Faith and Reason *


[From the Encyclical, “Qui pluribus,” Nov. 9, 1846]


1634 For you know, Venerable Brethren, that these hostile enemies of the Christian name, unhappily seized by a certain blind force of mad impiety, proceed with this rashness of thought that “opening their mouth unto blasphemies against God” [cf. Rev. 13:6] with a boldness utterly unknown, are not ashamed to teach openly and publicly that the most holy mysteries of our religion are the fictions and inventions of men; that the teaching of the Catholic Church is opposed [see n. 1740] to the good and to the advantage of society, and they do not fear even to abjure Christ Himself and God. And, to delude the people more easily and to deceive especially the incautious and the inexperienced, and to drag them with themselves into error, they pretend that the ways to prosperity are known to them alone; and do not hesitate to arrogate to themselves the name of philosophers, just as if philosophy, which is occupied wholly in investigating the truth of nature, ought to reject those truths which the supreme and most clement God Himself, author of all nature, deigned to manifest to men with singular kindness and mercy, in order that men might obtain true happiness and salvation.


1635 Hence, by a preposterous and deceitful kind of argumentation, they never cease to invoke the power and excellence of human reason, to proclaim it against the most sacred faith of Christ, and, what is more, they boldly prate that it (faith) is repugnant to human reason [see n. 1706]. Certainly, nothing more insane, nothing more impious, nothing more repugnant to reason itself can be imagined or thought of than this. For, even if faith is above reason, nevertheless, no true dissension or disagreement can ever be found between them, since both have their origin from one and the same font of immutable, eternal truth, the excellent and great God, and they mutually help one another so much that right reason demonstrates the truth of faith, protects it, defends it; but faith frees reason from all errors and, by a knowledge of divine things, wonderfully elucidates it, confirms, and perfects it [cf. n. 1799].


1636 And with no less deceit certainly, Venerable Brothers, those enemies of divine revelation, exalting human progress with the highest praise, with a rash and sacrilegious daring would wish to introduce it into the Catholic religion, just as if religion itself were not the work of God but of men, or were some philosophical discovery which can be perfected by human means [cf. n. 1705]. Against such unhappily raving men applies very conveniently, indeed, what Tertullian deservedly made a matter of reproach to the philosophers of his own time: “Who have produced a stoic and platonic and dialectic Christianity.”* And since, indeed, our most holy religion has not been invented by human reason but has been mercifully disclosed to men by God, thus everyone easily understands that religion itself acquires all its force from the authority of the same God speaking, and cannot ever be drawn from or be perfected by human reason.


1637 Indeed, human reason, lest it be deceived and err in a matter of so great importance, ought to search diligently for the fact of divine revelation so that it can know with certainty that God has spoken, and so render to Him, as the Apostle so wisely teaches, “a rational service” [ Rom. 12:1]. For who does not know, or cannot know that all faith is to be given to God who speaks, and that nothing is more suitable to reason itself than to acquiesce and firmly adhere to those truths which it has been established were revealed by God, who can neither deceive nor be deceived?


1638 But, how many, how wonderful, how splendid are the proofs at hand by which human reason ought to be entirely and most clearly convinced that the religion of Christ is divine, and that “every principle of our dogmas has received its root from above, from the Lord of the heavens,”* and that, therefore, nothing is more certain than our faith, nothing more secure, that there is nothing more holy and nothing which is supported on firmer principles. For, in truth, this faith is the teacher of life, the index of salvation, the expeller of all faults, and the fecund parent and nurse of virtues, confirmed by the birth, life, death, resurrection, wisdom, miracles, prophecies of its author and consummator, Christ Jesus; everywhere resplendent with the light of a supernatural teaching and enriched with the treasures of heavenly riches, especially clear and significant by the predictions of so many prophets, by the splendor of so many miracles, by the constancy of so many martyrs, by the glory of so many saints, revealing the salutary laws of Christ and acquiring greater strength every day from these most cruel persecutions, (this faith) has pervaded the whole earth by land and sea, from the rising to the setting of the sun, under the one standard of the Cross, and also, having overcome the deceits of idolaters and torn away the mist of errors and triumphed over enemies of every kind, it has illuminated with the light of divine knowledge all peoples, races, nations, howsoever barbarous in culture and different in disposition, customs, laws, and institutions; and has subjected them to the most sweet yoke of Christ Himself, “announcing peace” to all, “announcing good” [Isa. 52:7]. All of this certainly shines everywhere with so great a glory of divine wisdom and power that the mind and intelligence of each one clearly understands that the Christian Faith is the work of God.


1639 And so, human reason, knowing clearly and openly from these most splendid and equally strong proofs that God is the author of the same faith, can proceed no further; but, having completely cast aside and removed every difficulty and doubt, it should render all obedience to this faith, since it holds as certain that whatever faith itself proposes to man to be believed or to be done, has been transmitted by God.*

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