Saturday, December 27, 2014

The Syllabus of Errors

From the Catholic Herald:
The Syllabus had a long and complicated history even before its publication in 1864. The first suggestion that the Pope should draw up a constitution listing the errors of the day emerged from the Provincial Council of Spoleto in 1849. Urged on by Cardinal Gioacchino Pecci (who later became Pope Leo XIII), Pope Pius set up a commission to study the matter, but this was overtaken by the Bishop of Perpignan publishing his own syllabus of errors in 1860. The Pope admired the bishop’s work and so set up a new commission which eventually came up with the document that we call the Syllabus, and which was published as an addendum to the encyclical Quanta Cura in 1864. So the gestation period of the Syllabus was 15 years, which is a sure indication that the document ran into numerous difficulties in the course of its preparation.

A casual look at the Syllabus itself shows the reader why this should be so. It is nothing to do with the contents of the document (which are mainly non-controversial, though more of that later), but rather to do with the form of the document. The Syllabus aimed to be, as its title says, a list of “the most important errors of our time, which have been condemned by our Holy Father Pius IX in allocutions, at consistories, in encyclicals, and other apostolic letters.” (Read more.)

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