Pius XI 1922-1939

The Johannine Comma *


[From the Decree of the Holy Office, January 13, 1897, and the Declaration of the Holy Office, June 2, 1927]


2198 To the question: “Whether it can safely be denied, or at least called into doubt that the text of St. John in the first epistle, chapter 5, verse 7, is authentic, which read as follows: ‘And there are three that give testimony in heaven, the Father, the Word, and the Holy Ghost. And these three are one?’ “—the response was given on January 13, 1897: In the negative. At this response there arose on June 2, 1927, the following declaration, at first given privately by the same Sacred Congregation and afterwards repeated many times, which was made a part of public law in EB n. 121 by authority of the Holy Office itself:


“This decree was passed to check the audacity of private teachers who attributed to themselves the right either of rejecting entirely the authenticity of the Johannine comma, or at least of calling it into question by their own final judgment. But it was not meant at all to prevent Catholic writers from investigating the subject more fully and, after weighing the arguments accurately on both sides, with that and temperance which the gravity of the subject requires, from inclining toward an opinion in opposition to its authenticity, provided they professed that they were ready to abide by the judgment of the Church, to which the duty was delegated by Jesus Christ not only of interpreting Holy Scripture but also of guarding it faithfully.”

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