PIUS VI 1775-1799

Errors of the Synod of Pistoia*

[Condemned in the Constitution, “Auctorem fidei,” Aug. 28, 1794]

  1. Errors About Convoking a National Council

 

[Libel!. memor. for convoking a national council, sec. I]

 

1593 85. The proposition stating that any knowledge whatsoever of ecclesiastical history is sufficient to allow anyone to assert that the convocation of a national council is one of the canonical ways by which controversies in regard to religion may be ended in the Church of the respective nations; if understood to mean that controversies in regard to faith or morals which have arisen in a Church can be ended by an irrefutable decision made in a national council; as if freedom from error in questions of faith and morals belonged to a national council,– schismatic, heretical.

 

1594 Therefore, we command all the faithful of Christ of either sex not to presume to believe, to teach, or to preach anything about the said propositions and doctrines contrary to what is declared in this Constitution of ours; that whoever shall have taught, defended or published them, or anyone of them, all together or separately, except perhaps to oppose them, will be subject ipso facto and without any other declaration to ecclesiastical censures, and to the other penalties stated by law against those perpetrating similar offenses.

 

1595 But, by this expressed condemnation of the aforesaid propositions and doctrines, we by no means intend to approve other things contained in the same book, particularly since in it very many propositions and doctrines have been detected, related either to those which have been condemned above, or to those which show an attitude not only of rash contempt for the commonly approved doctrine and discipline, but of special hostility toward the Roman Pontiffs and the Apostolic See. Indeed, we think two must be noted especially, concerning the most august mystery of the Most Holy Trinity, sec. 2 of the decree about faith, which have issued from the synod, if not with evil intent, surely rather imprudently’ which could easily drive into error especially the untutored and the incautious.

 

1596 The first, after it is rightly prefaced that God in His being remains one and most simple, while immediately adding that God is distinct in three persons, has erroneously departed from the common formula approved in institutions of Christian Doctrine, in which God is said to be one indeed “in three distinct persons,” not “distinct in three persons”; and by the change in this formula, this risk of error crept into the meaning of the words, so that the divine essence is thought to be distinct in persons, which (essence) the Catholic faith confesses to be one in distinct persons in such a way that at the same time it confesses that it is absolutely undivided in itself.

 

1597 The second, which concerns the three divine Persons themselves, that they, according to their peculiar personal and incommunicable properties, are to be described and named in a more exact manner of speaking, Father, Word, and Holy Spirit; as if less proper and exact would be the name “Son,” consecrated by so many passages of Scripture, by the very voice of the Father coming from the heavens and from the cloud, and by the formula of baptism prescribed by Christ, and by that famous confession in which Peter was pronounced “blessed” by Christ Himself; and as if that statement should not rather be retained which the Angelic Doctor,* having learned from Augustine, in his turn taught that “in the name of the Word the same peculiar property is meant as in the name of the Son,” Augustine * truly saying: “For the same reason he is called the Word as the Son.”

 

1598 Nor should the extraordinary and deceitful boldness of the Synod be passed over in silence, which dared to adorn not only with most ample praises the declaration (n. 1322 ff.) of the Gallican Council of the year 1682, which had long ago been condemned by the Apostolic See, but in order to win greater authority for it, dared to include it insidiously in the decree written “about faith,” openly to adopt articles contained in it, and to seal it with a public and solemn profession of those articles which had been handed down here and there through this decree. Therefore, surely, not only a far graver reason for expostulating with them is afforded us by the Synod than was offered to our predecessors by the assemblies, but also no light injury is inflicted on the Gallican Church itself, because the synod thought its authority worth invoking in support of the errors with which that decree was contaminated.

 

1599 Therefore, as soon as the acts of the Gallican convention appeared Our predecessor, Venerable Innocent XI, by letters in the form of a Brief on the 11th day of April, in the year 1682, and afterwards, more expressly, Alexander VIII in the Constitution, “inter multiplices” on the 4th day of August, in the year 1690 (see n. 1322 ff.), by reason of their apostolic duty “condemned, rescinded, and declared them null and void”; pastoral solicitude demands much more strongly of Us that we “reject and condemn as rash and scandalous” the recent adoption of these acts tainted with so many faults, made by the synod, and, after the publication of the decrees of Our predecessors, “as especially injurious” to this Apostolic See, and we, accordingly, reject and condemn it by this present Constitution of Ours, and we wish it to be held as rejected and condemned.

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