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To the Venerable Brothers, the Archbishop of Quito

and the other Bishopsof Ecuador.
While We are burdened with much sadness in knowing to what a
sorrowful state the Church in Ecuador is reduced, We were very pleased
by your timely and publicly proclaimed ordinances. In your pastoral care,
you did not hesitate to protest loudly these laws which are opposed not
only to the rights of the Church but also to divine right. You protested
them right from the time they were proposed. You devoted all your zeal
and effort before the damage was done to prevent the public orators
from carrying out their ruinous legislative intention. You are not unaware
of the undemanding forebearance We have devoted to restoring the
religious tranquillity of your country. This is of the greatest importance
for the good of the Church and of the State. But, the hopes which We
had, the hopes which encouraged almost all the people of Ecuador, have
perished miserably. In fact, not only has no reparation been made for
previous destructive injustices, but other very serious injustices have
been added to them. We see that a diocese which was constituted
according to the holy canons has been abolished. We know that bishops
have been appointed to vacant dioceses, without any privilege from the
Holy See. We also know that the sanctity of Christian marriage has been
impeded in various ways.
The Nature of Christian Marriage
2. We have treated this matter often in other letters, especially in Our
apostolic letter of 10 February 1880. In it We emphasized the nature of
Christian marriage, its strength, the care the Church has devoted to
protecting its honor and its rights, and the role of civil authority in its
regard. As it is evident that Christ, the son of God, redeemer and
restorer of human nature, raised Christian marriage to the dignity of a
sacrament, every Christian marriage is this sacrament. The matter of the
contract can be separated in some sense from the nature of the
sacrament. This means that while the civil authority retains in full its
right to regulate the so-called civil effects, the marriage itself is subject
to the authority of the Church. In addition, it is certain that Jesus, the
redeemer of every race, abolished the custom of repudiation,

strengthened marriage with holy power, and reinstated the law of

permanence just as it was established by the will of God from the
beginning. It follows then that the marriage of Christians when fully
accomplished is holy, indivisible, and perfect. It cannot be dissolved for
any reason other than the death of either spouse according to the holy
words: "What God has joined, let no man divide." In so doing, Christ
certainly intended to confer many benefits on the human race, for this
institution most effectively preserves or restores morality, fosters the
love of one spouse for the other, confirms families with divine strength,
renews the education and protection of offspring, maintains the dignity
of woman, and finally establishes the honor and the prosperity of familial
and civil association in the most beneficial and excellent way.
Condemnation of Civil Marriage
3. Therefore, in accordance with Our duty as supreme teacher which
makes Us guardian and champion of divine and ecclesiastical law, We
raise our voice and totally condemn the so-called civil marriage laws
recently enacted in Ecuador. Concerning divorces, We reject them
together with every assault on the holy discipline of the Church there.
The fact that these laws have been established in the face of your
opposition and are so much at variance with the development of civil
prosperity and the interests of religion is no reason for you to be
disheartened. You should rather increase your zeal for religion and be
more vigilant. Continue therefore as you are doing to defend the
neglected and spurned rights of the Church without yielding todefeat.
Teach the faithful entrusted to your care and educate them so that
theypreserve the reverence due to their leaders; be faithful to the
teaching of theCatholic religion and practice Christian morality. With
earnest and eagerprayers to the Most Sacred Heart of Jesus to whom
your people have been solemnlydedicated above all nations, you all
should ask that He deign to bestow happiertimes on the Church of
Ecuador through the abundance of His mercies. We stillremain your
companion and share in your sorrows and supplications. Meanwhile, asa
sign of Our good will and as a pledge of divine gifts, We impart lovingly
inthe Lord Our apostolic blessing to you and to your faithful.
Given in Rome, at St. Peter's, on the 24th day of December in the year
1902, the twenty-fifth year of Our Pontificate.


To Cardinal Skrbensky, Archbishop of Prague and to the

Other Archbishops and Bishops of Bohemia and Moravia.
The notices which daily come to Us about the state of your dioceses and
thedeparture of large numbers from the rites and practices of
Catholicism cause Usgreat sorrow and grief. Certainly We do not doubt
that you strenuously applyevery argument to repair the misfortunes of
the flock entrusted to you and toprevent losses from becoming worse
with each day. If the enemies of the faithspare neither labor nor money,
and strain with all their might to destroy yourflock, you, whom Christ
wished to be Pastors, must not be idle; you must useevery available
means to defend your flock. However, the magnitude of the
dangerpersuades Us to goad the willing. We know, to be sure, that not
all of yourdioceses are in the same circumstances with regard to the
security of the faith;therefore the same means of assistance for
preserving the faith cannot beapplied everywhere. However, since the
danger is a common one, and it is acommon fatherland which calls for
defense, We think that the very bestresolution would be for you to
communicate with each other and with unitedopinion to provide for what
must be accomplished and whatmust be avoided. Therefore it is Our
wish that all of you Bishops of Bohemia andMoravia hold a meeting as
soon as possible to deliberate concerning the defenseof the faith among
your countrymen. Naturally you will see to it that the natureof the
deliberations and decisions which take place be referred to Us so
thatthey may be sanctioned by the apostolic approval. Moreover, We do
not wish tolet this opportunity go by without commending to you again
most strenuously thatyou take care to extirpate totally the partisan zeal
which causes the holyclergy among you to be split apart; this divides
and enervates the forces ofthose whose union is greatly needed, now
especially, for the defense of thefaith. May the aid of divine grace be
with you in these tasks. As a token of Ourlove receive the Apostolic
Blessing which We most lovingly in the Lord impart toyou and your flock.
Given in Rome at St. Peter's, 22 November 1902, in the 25th year of


To Our Beloved Sons Anthony Joseph Cardinal Gruscha, Archbishop of

Vienna; George Cardinal Kopp, Bishop of Wroclaw, Leo Cardinal De
Skrbensky, Archbishop of Prague; John Cardinal Puzyna, Bishop of
Cracow; and the Other Venerable Brother Archbishops and Bishops of
Beloved Sons and Venerable Brothers, Greetings and the Apostolic
With great joy you now announce that the object of the wishes of your
predecessors, which has been worked on for many years, is speeding to
its happy conclusion. For whatever is required for founding a Catholic
University is all but at hand; it is your consensus that the finishing
touches can now be applied to setting up this great Institution of
learning. We have had to wait for it longer than We might have hoped,
but its completion has come about at a proper and fitting time.
Accordingly, We freely and with full approbation assent to your plans,
which in themselves are commendable. We wish to point out explicitly in
writing our great joy at this news, since We encourage holy sets of
learning to be established and enlarged everywhere. Moreover, We
declare this also to add an incentive to your faithful to hasten the
conclusion of so great an enterprise. As for the details, We confide them
to you; We have no doubts of the generosity and approval of those for
whose advantage the desired University will come into existence. As
soon as the details that pertain to this Institution are ready, the Sacred
Congregation of Studies should communicate them to us: for their task is
to inform Us of these affairs and to use their mandated power of setting
standards for Catholic Institutions of learning according to the norms of
the Sacred Canons.
2. Meanwhile We testify to each one of You Our happy and benevolent
sentiments, and We beseech divine favor on the work undertaken, and
bestow the Apostolic blessing on all of you.
Given in Rome at St. Peter's, 30 April 1902, in the 25th year of



To Our Venerable Brethren, the Patriarchs, Primates,

Archbishops, Bishops, and other Local Ordinaries having
Peace and Communion with the Holy See.
Venerable Brethren, Health and Apostolic Benediction.
The outlook on the future is by no means free from anxiety; on the
contrary, there are many serious reasons for alarm, on account of
numerous and long-standing causes of evil, of both a public and a
private nature. Nevertheless, the close of the century really seems in
God's mercy to afford us some degree of consolation and hope. For no
one will deny that renewed interest in spiritual matters and a revival of
Christian faith and piety are influences of great moment for the common
good. And there are sufficiently clear indications at the present day of a
very general revival or augmentation of these virtues. For example, in
the very midst of worldly allurements and in spite of so many obstacles
to piety, what great crowds have flocked to Rome to visit the "Threshold
of the Apostles" at the invitation of the Sovereign Pontiff! Both Italians
and foreigners are openly devoting themselves to religious exercises,
and, relying upon the indulgences offered by the Church, are most
earnestly seeking the means to secure their eternal salvation. Who could
fail to be moved by the present evident increase of devotion towards the
person of Our Saviour? The ardent zeal of so many thousands, united in
heart and mind, "from the rising of the Sun to the going down thereof,"
in venerating the Name of Jesus Christ and proclaiming His praises, is
worthy of the best days of Christianity. Would that the outburst of these
flames of antique faith might be followed by a mighty conflagration!
Would that the splendid example of so many might kindle the
enthusiasm of all! For what so necessary for our times as a widespread
renovation among the nations of Christian principles and old-fashioned
virtues? The great misfortune is that too many turn a deaf ear and will
not listen to the teachings of this revival of piety. Yet, "did they but know

the gift of God," did they but realise that the greatest of all misfortunes
is to fall away from the World's Redeemer and to abandon Christian faith
and practice, they would be only too eager to turn back, and so escape
certain destruction.
2. The most important duty of the Church, and the one most peculiarly
her own, is to defend and to propagate throughout the world the
Kingdom of the Son of God, and to bring all men to salvation by
communicating to them thedivine benefits, so much so that her power
and authority are chiefly exercised in this one work. Towards this end We
are conscious of having devoted Our energies throughout Our difficult
and anxious Pontificate even to the present day. And you too, Venerable
Brethren, are wont constantly, yea daily, to give your chief thoughts and
endeavours together with Ourselves to the self same task. But at the
present moment all of us ought to make still further efforts, more
especially on the occasion of the Holy Year, to disseminate far and wide
the better knowledge and love of Jesus Christ by teaching, persuading,
exhorting, if perchance our voice can be heard; and this, not so much to
those who are ever ready to listen willingly to Christian teachings, but to
those most unfortunate men who, whilst professing the Christian name,
live strangers to the faith and love of Christ. For these we feel the
profoundest pity: these above all would we urge to think seriously of
their present life and what its consequences will be if they do not repent.
3. The greatest of all misfortunes is never to have known Jesus Christ:
yet such a state is free from the sin of obstinacy and ingratitude. But
first to have known Him, and afterwards to deny or forget Him, is a crime
so foul and so insane that it seems impossible for any man to be guilty
of it. For Christ is the fountain - head of all good. Mankind can no more
be saved without His power, than it could be redeemed without His
mercy. "Neither is there salvation in any other. For there is no other
name under heaven given to men whereby we must be saved" (Acts IV,
12). What kind of life that is from which Jesus Christ, "the power of God
and the wisdom of God," is excluded; what kind of morality and what
manner of death are its consequences, can be clearly learnt from the
example of nations deprived of the light of Christianity. If we but recall
St. Paul's description (Romans I., 24-32) of the mental blindness, the
natural depravity, the monstrous superstitions and lusts of such peoples,
our minds will be filled with horror and pity. What we here record is well
enough known, but not sufficiently realised or thought about. Pride
would not mislead, nor indifference enervate, so many minds, if the
Divine mercies were more generally called to mind and if it were
remembered from what an abyss Christ delivered mankind and to what a

height He raised it. The human race, exiled and disinherited, had for
ages been daily hurrying into ruin, involved in the terrible and
numberless ills brought about by the sin of our first parents, nor was
there any human hope of salvation, when Christ Our Lord came down as
the Saviour from Heaven. At the very beginning of the world, God had
promised Him as the conqueror of "the Serpent," hence, succeeding
ages had eagerly looked forward to His coming. The Prophets had long
and clearly declared that all hope was in Him. The varying fortunes, the
achievements, customs, laws, ceremonies and sacrifices of the Chosen
People had distinctly and lucidly foreshadowed the truth, that the
salvation of mankind was to be accomplished in Him who should be the
Priest, Victim, Liberator, Prince of Peace, Teacher of all Nations, Founder
of an Eternal Kingdom. By all these titles, images and prophecies,
differing in kind though like in meaning, He alone was designated who
"for His exceeding charity wherewith He loved us," gave Himself up for
our salvation. And so, when the fullness of time came in God's Divine
Providence, the only-begotten Son of God became man, and in behalf of
mankind made most abundant satisfaction in His Blood to the outraged
majesty of His Father and by this infinite price He redeemed man for His
own. "You were not redeemed with corruptible things as gold or silver . . .
but with the precious Blood of Christ, as of a lamb, unspotted and
undefiled" (1 Peter I., 18-19). Thus all men, though already subject to His
Kingly power, inasmuch as He is the Creator and Preserver of all, were
over and above made His property by a true and real purchase. "You are
not your own: for you are bought with a great price" (2 Corinthians VI,
19-20). Hence in Christ all things are made new. "The mystery of His will,
according to His good pleasure which He hath purposed to Him, in the
dispensation of the fullness of times to re-establish all things in Christ"
(Ephesians I., 9-10). When Jesus Christ had blotted out the handwriting
of the decree that was against us, fastening it to the cross, at once God's
wrath was appeased, the primeval fetters of slavery were struck off from
unhappy and erring man, God's favour was won back, grace restored,
the gates of Heaven opened, the right to enter them revived, and the
means afforded of doing so. Then man, as though awakening from a
long-continued and deadly lethargy, beheld at length the light of the
truth, for long ages desired, yet sought in vain. First of all, he realised
that he was born to much higher and more glorious things than the frail
and inconstant objects of sense which had hitherto formed the end of his
thoughts and cares. He learnt that the meaning of human life, the
supreme law, the end of all things was this: that we come from God and
must return to Him. From this first principle the consciousness of human
dignity was revived: men's hearts realised the universal brotherhood: as
a consequence, human rights and duties were either perfected or even

newly created, whilst on all sides were evoked virtues undreamt of in

pagan philosophy. Thus men's aims, life, habits and customs received a
new direction. As the knowledge of the Redeemer spread far and wide
and His power, which destroyeth ignorance and former vices, penetrated
into the very life-blood of the nations, such a change came about that
the face of the world was entirely altered by the creation of a Christian
civilisation. The remembrance of these events, Venerable Brethren, is
full of infinite joy, but it also teaches us the lesson that we must both
feel and render with our whole hearts gratitude to our Divine Saviour.
4. We are indeed now very far removed in time from the first beginnings
of Redemption; but what difference does this make when the benefits
thereof are perennial and immortal? He who once bath restored human
nature ruined by sin the same preserveth and will preserve it for ever.
"He gave Himself a redemption for all" (1 Timothy II., 6)."In Christ all
shall be made alive" (1 Corinthians XV., 22). "And of His Kingdom there
shall be no end" (Luke I., 33). Hence by God's eternal decree the
salvation of all men, both severally and collectively, depends upon Jesus
Christ. Those who abandon Him become guilty by the very fact, in their
blindness and folly, of their own ruin; whilst at the same time they do all
that in them lies to bring about a violent reaction of mankind in the
direction of that mass of evils and miseries from which the Redeemer in
His mercy had freed them.
5. Those who go astray from the road wander far from the goal they aim
at. Similarly, if the pure and true light of truth be rejected, men's minds
must necessarily be darkened and their souls deceived by deplorably
false ideas. What hope of salvation can they have who abandon the very
principle and fountain of life? Christ alone is the Way, the Truth and the
Life (John XIV., 6). If He be abandoned the three necessary conditions of
salvation are removed.
Christ the Way
6. It is surely unnecessary to prove, what experience constantly shows
and what each individual feels in himself, even in the very midst of all
temporal prosperity - that in God alone can the human will find absolute
and perfect peace. God is the only end of man. All our life on earth is the
truthful and exact image of a pilgrimage. Now Christ is the "Way," for we
can never reach God, the supreme and ultimate good, by this toilsome
and doubtful road of mortal life, except with Christ as our leader and
guide. How so? Firstly and chiefly by His grace; but this would remain
"void" in man if the precepts of His law were neglected. For, as was

necessarily the case after Jesus Christ had won our salvation, He left
behind Him His Law for the protection and welfare of the human race,
under the guidance of which men, converted from evil life, might safely
tend towards God. "Going, teach ye all nations . . . teaching them to
observe all things whatsoever I have commanded you" (Matthew XXVIII.,
19-20). "Keep my commandments" (John XIV., 15). Hence it will be
understood that in the Christian religion the first and most necessary
condition is docility to the precepts of Jesus Christ, absolute loyalty of
will towards Him as Lord and King. A serious duty, and one which
oftentimes calls for strenuous labour, earnest endeavour, and
perseverance! For although by Our Redeemer's grace human nature
bath been regenerated, still there remains in each individual a certain
debility and tendency to evil. Various natural appetites attract man on
one side and the other; the allurements of the material world impel his
soul to follow after what is pleasant rather than the law of Christ. Still we
must strive our best and resist our natural inclinations with all our
strength "unto the obedience of Christ." For unless they obey reason
they become our masters, and carrying the whole man away from Christ,
make him their slave. "Men of corrupt mind, who have made shipwreck
of the faith, cannot help being slaves. . . They are slaves to a threefold
concupiscence: of will, of pride, or of outward show" (St. Augustine, De
Vera Religione, 37). In this contest every man must be prepared to
undergo hardships and troubles for Christ's sake. It is difficult to reject
what so powerfully entices and delights. It is hard and painful to despise
the supposed goods of the senses and of fortune for the will and
precepts of Christ our Lord. But the Christian is absolutely obliged to be
firm, and patient in suffering, if he wish to lead a Christian life. Have we
forgotten of what Body and of what Head we are the members? "Having
joy set before Him, He endured the Cross," and He bade us deny
ourselves. The very dignity of human nature depends upon this
disposition of mind. For, as even the ancient Pagan philosophy
perceived, to be master of oneself and to make the lower part of the
soul, obey the superior part, is so far from being a weakness of will that
it is really a noble power, in consonance with right reason and most
worthy of a man. Moreover, to bear and to suffer is the ordinary
condition of man. Man can no more create for himself a life free from
suffering and filled with all happiness that he can abrogate the decrees
of his Divine Maker, who has willed that the consequences of original sin
should be perpetual. It is reasonable, therefore, not to expect an end to
troubles in this world, but rather to steel one's soul to bear troubles, by
which we are taught to look forward with certainty to supreme
happiness. Christ has not promised eternal bliss in heaven to riches, nor

to a life of ease, to honours or to power, but to long-suffering and to

tears, to the love of justice and to cleanness of heart.
7. From this it may clearly be seen what consequences are to be
expected from that false pride which, rejecting our Saviour's Kingship,
places man at the summit of all things and declares that human nature
must rule supreme. And yet, this supreme rule can neither be attained
nor even defined. The rule of Jesus Christ derives its form and its power
from Divine Love: a holy and orderly charity is both its foundation and its
crown. Its necessary consequences are the strict fulfilment of duty,
respect of mutual rights, the estimation of the things of heaven above
those of earth, the preference of the love of God to all things. But this
supremacy of man, which openly rejects Christ, or at least ignores Him,
is entirely founded upon selfishness, knowing neither charity nor selfdevotion. Man may indeed be king, through Jesus Christ: but only on
condition that he first of all obey God, and diligently seek his rule of life
in God's law. By the law of Christ we mean not only the natural precepts
of morality and the Ancient Law, all of which Jesus Christ has perfected
and crowned by His declaration, explanation and sanction; but also the
rest of His doctrine and His own peculiar institutions. Of these the chief
is His Church. Indeed whatsoever things Christ has instituted are most
fully contained in His Church. Moreover, He willed to perpetuate the
office assigned to Him by His Father by means of the ministry of the
Church so gloriously founded by Himself. On the one hand He confided to
her all the means of men's salvation, on the other He most solemnly
commanded men to be subject to her and to obey her diligently, and to
follow her even as Himself: "He that heareth you, heareth Me; and he
that despiseth you, despiseth Me" (Luke X, 16). Wherefore the law of
Christ must be sought in the Church. Christ is man's "Way"; the Church
also is his "Way"-Christ of Himself and by His very nature, the Church by
His commission and the communication of His power. Hence all who
would find salvation apart from the Church, are led astray and strive in
8. As with individuals, so with nations. These, too, must necessarily tend
to ruin if they go astray from "The Way." The Son of God, the Creator and
Redeemer of mankind, is King and Lord of the earth, and holds supreme
dominion over men, both individually and collectively. "And He gave Him
power, and glory, and a kingdom: and all peoples, tribes, and tongues
shall serve Him" (Daniel VII., 14). "I am appointed King by Him . . . I will
give Thee the Gentiles for Thy inheritance, and the uttermost parts of
the earth for Thy possession" (Psalm II., 6, 8). Therefore the law of Christ
ought to prevail in human society and be the guide and teacher of public

as well as of private life. Since this is so by divine decree, and no man

may with impunity contravene it, it is an evil thing for the common weal
wherever Christianity does not hold the place that belongs to it. When
Jesus Christ is absent, human reason fails, being bereft of its chief
protection and light, and the very end is lost sight of, for which, under
God's providence, human society has been built up. This end is the
obtaining by the members of society of natural good through the aid of
civil unity, though always in harmony with the perfect and eternal good
which is above nature. But when men's minds are clouded, both rulers
and ruled go astray, for they have no safe line to follow nor end to aim
Christ the Truth
9. Just as it is the height of misfortune to go astray from the "Way," so is
it to abandon the "Truth." Christ Himself is the first, absolute and
essential "Truth," inasmuch as He is the Word of God, consubstantial and
co-eternal with the Father, He and the Father being One. "I am the Way
and the Truth." Wherefore if the Truth be sought by the human intellect,
it must first of all submit it to Jesus Christ, and securely rest upon His
teaching, since therein Truth itself speaketh. There are innumerable and
extensive fields of thought, properly belonging to the human mind, in
which it may have free scope for its investigations and speculations, and
that not only agreeably to its nature, but even by a necessity of its
nature. But what is unlawful and unnatural is that the human mind
should refuse to be restricted within its proper limits, and, throwing aside
its becoming modesty, should refuse to acknowledge Christ's teaching.
This teaching, upon which our salvation depends, is almost entirely
about God and the things of God. No human wisdom has invented it, but
the Son of God hath received and drunk it in entirely from His Father:
"The words which thou gayest me, 1 have given to them" (John XVII., 8).
Hence this teaching necessarily embraces many subjects which are not
indeed contrary to reason-for that would be an impossibility-but so
exalted that we can no more attain them by our own reasoning than we
can comprehend God as He is in Himself. If there be so many things
hidden and veiled by nature, which no human ingenuity can explain, and
yet which no man in his senses can doubt, it would be an abuse of
liberty to refuse to accept those which are entirely above nature,
because their essence cannot be discovered. To reject dogma is simply
to deny Christianity. Our intellect must bow humbly and reverently "unto
the obedience of Christ," so that it be held captive by His divinity and
authority: "bringing into captivity every understanding unto the
obedience of Christ" (2 Corinthians X., 5). Such obedience Christ

requires, and justly so. For He is God, and as such holds supreme
dominion over man's intellect as well as over his will. By obeying Christ
with his intellect man by no means acts in a servile manner, but in
complete accordance with his reason and his natural dignity. For by his
will he yields, not to the authority of any man, but to that of God, the
author of his being, and the first principle to Whom he is subject by the
very law of his nature. He does not suffer himself to be forced by the
theories of any human teacher, but by the eternal and unchangeable
truth. Hence he attains at one and the same time the natural good of the
intellect and his own liberty. For the truth which proceeds from the
teaching of Christ clearly demonstrates the real nature and value of
every being; and man, being endowed with this knowledge, if he but
obey the truth as perceived, will make all things subject to himself, not
himself to them; his appetites to his reason, not his reason to his
appetites. Thus the slavery of sin and falsehood will be shaken off, and
the most perfect liberty attained: "You shall know the truth, and the truth
shall make you free" (John VIII., 32). It is, then, evident that those whose
intellect rejects the yoke of Christ are obstinately striving against God.
Having shaken off God's authority, they are by no means freer, for they
will fall beneath some human sway. They are sure to choose someone
whom they will listen to, obey, and follow as their guide. Moreover, they
withdraw their intellect from the communication of divine truths, and
thus limit it within a narrower circle of knowledge, so that they are less
fitted to succeed in the pursuit even of natural science. For there are in
nature very many things whose apprehension or explanation is greatly
aided by the light of divine truth. Not unfrequently, too, God, in order to
chastise their pride, does not permit men to see the truth, and thus they
are punished in the things wherein they sin. This is why we often see
men of great intellectual power and erudition making the grossest
blunders even in natural science.
10. It must therefore be clearly admitted that, in the life of a Christian,
the intellect must be entirely subject to God's authority. And if, in this
submission of reason to authority, our self-love, which is so strong, is
restrained and made to suf fez, this only proves the necessity to a
Christian of long-suffering not only in will but also in intellect. We would
remind those persons of this truth who desire a kind of Christianity such
as they themselves have devised, whose precepts should be very mild,
much more indulgent towards human nature, and requiring little if any
hardships to be borne. They do not properly understand the meaning of
faith and Christian precepts. They do not see that the Cross meets us
everywhere, the model of our life, the eternal standard of all who wish to
follow Christ in reality and not merely in name.

Christ the Life

11. God alone is Life. All other beings partake of life, but are not life.
Christ, from all eternity and by His very nature, is "the Life," just as He is
the Truth, because He is God of God. From Him, as from its most sacred
source, all life pervades and ever will pervade creation. Whatever is, is
by Him; whatever lives, lives by Him. For by the Word "all things were
made; and without Him was made nothing that was made." This is true
of the natural life; but, as We have sufficiently indicated above, we have
a much higher and better life, won for us by Christ's mercy, that is to
say, "the life of grace," whose happy consummation is "the life of glory,"
to which all our thoughts and actions ought to be directed. The whole
object of Christian doctrine and morality is that "we being dead to sin,
should live to justice"

(1 Peter II., 24)-that is, to virtue and holiness. In this consists the moral
life, with the certain hope of a happy eternity. This justice, in order to be
advantageous to salvation, is nourished by Christian faith. "The just man
liveth by faith" (Galatians III., II). "Without faith it is impossible to please
God" (Hebrews XI., 6). Consequently Jesus Christ, the creator and
preserver of faith, also preserves and nourishes our moral life. This He
does chiefly by the ministry of His Church. To Her, in His wise and
merciful counsel, He has entrusted certain agencies which engender the
supernatural life, protect it, and revive it if it should fail. This generative
and conservative power of the virtues that make for salvation is
therefore lost, whenever morality is dissociated from divine faith. A
system of morality based exclusively on human reason robs man of his
highest dignity and lowers him from the supernatural to the merely
natural life. Not but that man is able by the right use of reason to know
and to obey certain principles of the natural law. But though he should
know them all and keep them inviolate through life-and even this is
impossible without the aid of the grace of our Redeemer-still it is vain for
anyone without faith to promise himself eternal salvation. "If anyone
abide not in Me, he shall be cast forth as a branch, and shall wither, and
they shall gather him up and cast him into the fire, and he burneth"
(John XV., 6). "He that believeth not shall be condemned" (Mark XVI.,
16). We have but too much evidence of the value and result of a morality
divorced from divine faith. How is it that, in spite of all the zeal for the
welfare of the masses, nations are in such straits and even distress, and
that the evil is daily on the increase? We are told that society is quite
able to help itself; that it can flourish without the assistance of

Christianity, and attain its end by its own unaided efforts. Public
administrators prefer a purely secular system of government. All traces
of the religion of our forefathers are daily disappearing from political life
and administration. What blindness! Once the idea of the authority of
God as the Judge of right and wrong is forgotten, law must necessarily
lose its primary authority and justice must perish: and these are the two
most powerful and most necessary bonds of society. Similarly, once the
hope and expectation of eternal happiness is taken away, temporal
goods will be greedily sought after. Every man will strive to secure the
largest share for himself. Hence arise envy, jealousy, hatred. The
consequences are conspiracy, anarchy, nihilism. There is neither peace
abroad nor security at home. Public life is stained with crime.
12. So great is this struggle of the passions and so serious the dangers
involved, that we must either anticipate ultimate ruin or seek for an
efficient remedy. It is of course both right and necessary to punish
malefactors, to educate the masses, and by legislation to prevent crime
in every possible way: but all this is by no means sufficient. The
salvation of the nations must be looked for higher. A power greater than
human must be called in to teach men's hearts, awaken in them the
sense of duty, and make them better. This is the power which once
before saved the world from destruction when groaning under much
more terrible evils. Once remove all impediments and allow the Christian
spirit to revive and grow strong in a nation, and that nation will be
healed. The strife between the classes and the masses will die away;
mutual rights will be respected. If Christ be listened to, both rich and
poor will do their duty. The former will realise that they must observe
justice and charity, the latter self restraint and moderation, if both are to
be saved. Domestic life will be firmly established by the salutary fear of
God as the Lawgiver. In the same way the precepts of the natural law,
which dictates respect for lawful authority and obedience to the laws,
will exercise their influence over the people. Seditions and conspiracies
will cease. Wherever Christianity rules over all without let or hindrance
there the order established by Divine Providence is preserved, and both
security and prosperity are the happy result. The common welfare, then,
urgently demands a return to Him from whom we should never have
gone astray; to Him who is the Way, the Truth, and the Life,-and this on
the part not only of individuals but of society as a whole. We must
restore Christ to this His own rightful possession. All elements of the
national life must be made to drink in the Life which proceedeth from
Him legislation, political institutions, education, marriage and family life,
capital and labour. Everyone must see that the very growth of civilisation
which is so ardently desired depends greatly upon this, since it is fed

and grows not so much by material wealth and prosperity, as by the

spiritual qualities of morality and virtue.
13. It is rather ignorance than ill-will which keeps multitudes away from
Jesus Christ. There are many who study humanity and the natural world;
few who study the Son of God. The first step, then, is to substitute
knowledge for ignorance, so that He may no longer be despised or
rejected because He is unknown. We conjure all Christians throughout
the world to strive all they can to know their Redeemer as He really is.
The more one contemplates Him with sincere and unprejudiced mind,
the clearer does it become that there can be nothing more salutary than
His law, more divine than His teaching. In this work, your influence,
Venerable Brethren, and the zeal and earnestness of the entire Clergy,
can do wonders. You must look upon it as a chief part of your duty to
engrave upon the minds of your people the true knowledge, the very
likeness of Jesus Christ; to illustrate His charity, His mercies, His
teaching, by your writings and your words, in schools, in Universities,
from the pulpit; wherever opportunity is offered you. The world has
heard enough of the so-called "rights of man." Let it hear something of
the rights of God. That the time is suitable is proved by the very general
revival of religious feeling already referred to, and especially that
devotion towards Our Saviour of which there are so many indications,
and which, please God, we shall hand on to the New Century as a pledge
of happier times to come. But as this consummation cannot be hoped for
except by the aid of divine grace, let us strive in prayer, with united
heart and voice, to incline Almighty God unto mercy, that He would not
suffer those to perish whom He had redeemed by His Blood. May He look
down in mercy upon this world, which has indeed sinned much, but
which has also suffered much in expiation! And, embracing in His lovingkindness all races and classes of mankind, may He remember His own
words: "I, if I be lifted up from the earth, will draw all things to Myself'
(John XII., 32).
14. As a pledge of the Divine favours, and in token of Our fatherly
affection, we lovingly impart to You, Venerable Brethren, and to your
Clergy and People, the Apostolic Blessing.
Given at St. Peter's in Rome, the first day of November 1900, in the 23rd
year of Our Pontificate.

To Cardinal Netto, Patriarch of Lisbon

and to the Bishops of Portugal.
In the midst of the serious concerns whichdistress Us more daily on
account of the war declared on religious orders inmany areas, the joint
letter, eminent and full of dignity, which, in fulfillmentof your pastoral
duty and your reverence for your Ruler, you recently sent toyour Faithful
King, was an extraordinary consolation to Us. For nothing could bemore
pleasing to Us than to see you promptly unite both to defend
religiouscongregations and to support their needs and usefulness.
Therefore nothingpleases Us more than to approve your zeal and to
honor your efforts with thepraise they deserve.
2. Indeed, there is little wonder if you, both as those who preside over
theChurch and also as citizens of Portugal, find fault with the recent
decreesagainst religious societies. For it is clear that they are contrary to
therights of the Church and to the rights of the faithful to choose a state
oflife; they deprive the state of not a few outstanding benefits which flow
to itfrom religious institutes, as the authors of these decrees themselves
admit inno uncertain manner.
3. What must be thought of the conditions imposed by the government
of Portugal on religious families if they are to survive, you have already
eminently declared. This must be kept in mind throughout, however, that
in accord with the discipline of the Catholic Church, no religious order
can exist or prosper if its novitiate and vows are removed. Therefore the
laws proper to each Institute, if perhaps necessary, are to be brought
into conformity with civil prescriptions; but this must only be done in
such a way that the dignity of the individual religious be preserved and,
most importantly, that the nature of their holy state be kept entire and
4. With joined forces, you must decide how to meet the losses and
dangers which oppress religious societies and in what fashion you may
more aptly provide for their preservation in your midst. Indeed it is
proper that the Holy See hand over to the joint judgment of those who
can weigh more closely, by being present as you are, the mind and
intentions of the civil authorities and the circumstances of situations and
places. For the rest, the Apostolic See itself will not fail to take care to
draw up a suitable way of life according to proper norms and
dispensation for religious forcefully removed from their domiciles.

5. Continue therefore to strenuously defend the cause of religion and

civilsociety, which will only have a favorable outcome if you indicate
toyour faithful a clear and proper method of acting in public. Continue
also toexert every effort to unite and increase Catholic forces and to
fosterpublications and organizations which defend the Church's rights.
Diligentlyfoster that harmony of wills which puts aside private opinions
and partisanpolitical rivalries. These We most earnestly request of you.
6. Finally, as a token of divine assistance and in testimony of our
benevolencewe lovingly bestow on you, Venerable Brothers, and all
thefaithful of Portugal and especially on members of religious orders,
theApostolic Blessing.
Given in Rome at St. Peter's, 16 May 1901, in the 24th year of




nos vnrables frres les Archevques, Evques et au Clerg de

Vnrables Frres,
Trs chers Fils,
Depuis le jour o Nous avons t lev la chaire pontificale, la
France a t constamment lobjet de Notre sollicitude et de
Notre affection toute particulire. Cest chez elle, en effet, que,
dans le cours des sicles, m par les insondables desseins de sa
misricorde sur le monde, Dieu a choisi de prfrence les
hommes apostoliques destins prcher la vraie foi jusquaux
confins du globe, et porter la lumire de lEvangile aux nations
encore plonges dans les tnbres du paganisme. Il la
prdestine tre le dfenseur de son Eglise et linstrument de
ses grandes oeuvres : Gesta Dei per Francos.

A une si haute mission correspondent videmment de nombreux

et graves devoirs. Dsireux, comme Nos prdcesseurs, de voir
la France accomplir fidlement le glorieux mandat dont elle a
t charge, Nous lui avons plusieurs fois dj, durant Notre
long Pontificat, adress Nos conseils, Nos encouragements, Nos
exhortations. Nous lavons fait tout spcialement dans Notre
Lettre Encyclique du 8 fvrier 1884, Nobilissima Gallorum gens,
et dans Notre Lettre du 16 fvrier 1892, publie dans lidiome
de la France et qui commence par ces mots : Au milieu des
sollicitudes. Nos paroles ne sont pas demeures infructueuses,
et Nous savons par vous, Vnrables Frres, quune grande
partie du peuple franais tient toujours en honneur la foi de ses
anctres et remplit avec fidlit les devoirs quelle impose.
Dautre part, Nous ne saurions ignorer que les ennemis de cette
foi sainte ne sont pas demeurs inactifs, et quils sont parvenus
bannir tout principe de religion dun grand nombre de
familles, qui, par suite, vivent dans une lamentable ignorance
de la vrit rvle et dans une complte indiffrence pour tout

ce qui touche leurs intrts spirituels et au salut de leurs


Si donc, et bon droit, Nous flicitons la France dtre pour les

nations infidles un foyer dapostolat, Nous devons encourager
aussi les efforts de ceux de ses fils qui, enrls dans le
sacerdoce de Jsus-Christ, travaillent vangliser leurs
compatriotes, les prmunir contre lenvahissement du
naturalisme et de lincrdulit, avec leurs funestes et
invitables consquences. Appels par la volont de Dieu tre
les sauveurs du monde, les prtres doivent tout toujours, et
avant tout, se rappeler quils sont, de par linstitution mme de
Jsus-Christ, " le sel de la terre " (Mt 5, 13), do saint Paul,
crivant son disciple Timothe, conclut avec raison quils
doivent tre lexemple des fidles dans leurs paroles et dans
leurs rapports avec le prochain, par leur charit, leur foi et leur
puret (1 Tm 4, 12) ".

Quil en soit ainsi du clerg de France, pris dans son ensemble,

ce Nous est toujours, Vnrables Frres, une grande consolation
de lapprendre, soit par les relations quadriennales que vous
Nous envoyez sur ltat de vos diocses, conformment la
Constitution de Sixte-Quint ; soit par les communications orales
que Nous recevons de vous, lorsque Nous avons la joie de Nous
entretenir avec vous et de recevoir vos confidences : Oui, la
dignit de la vie, lardeur de la foi, lesprit de dvouement et de
sacrifice, llan et la gnrosit du zle, la charit inpuisable
envers le prochain, lnergie dans toutes les nobles et fcondes
entreprises qui ont pour but la gloire de Dieu, le salut des mes,
le bonheur de la patrie : telles sont les traditionnelles et
prcieuses qualits du clerg franais, auxquelles Nous sommes
heureux de pouvoir rendre ici un public et paternel tmoignage.

Toutefois, en raison mme de la tendre et profonde affection

que Nous lui portons, tout la fois pour satisfaire au devoir de
Notre ministre apostolique, et pour rpondre Notre vif dsir
de le voir demeurer toujours la hauteur de sa grande mission,

Nous avons rsolu, Vnrables Frres, de traiter dans la

prsente Lettre quelques points que les circonstances actuelles
recommandent de la faon la plus instante la consciencieuse
attention des premiers pasteurs de lEglise de France et des
prtres qui travaillent sous leur autorit.

Cest dabord chose vidente que, plus un office est relev,

complexe, difficile, plus longue et plus soigne doit tre la
prparation de ceux qui sont appels le remplir. Or, existe-t-il
sur la terre une dignit plus haute que celle du sacerdoce et un
ministre imposant une plus lourde responsabilit, que celui qui
a pour objet la sanctification de tous les actes libres de lhomme
? Nest-ce pas du gouvernement des mes que les Pres ont dit,
avec raison, que cest " lart des arts ", cest--dire le plus
important et le plus dlicat de tous les labeurs auxquels un
homme puisse tre appliqu au profit de ses semblables, ars
artium regimen animarum ? 1 Rien donc ne devra tre nglig
pour prparer remplir dignement et fructueusement une telle
mission, ceux quune vocation divine y appelle.

Avant toute chose, il convient de discerner, parmi les jeunes

enfants, ceux en qui le Trs Haut a dpos le germe dune
semblable vocation. Nous savons que, dans un certain nombre
de diocses de France, grce vos sages recommandations, les
prtres des paroisses, surtout dans les campagnes,
sappliquent, avec un zle et une abngation que Nous ne
saurions trop louer, commencer eux-mmes les tudes
lmentaires des enfants dans lesquels ils ont remarqu des
dispositions srieuses la pit et des aptitudes au travail
intellectuel. Les coles presbytrales sont ainsi comme le
premier degr de cette chelle ascendante qui, dabord par les
Petits, puis par les Grands Sminaires, fera monter jusquau
sacerdoce les jeunes gens auxquels le Sauveur a rpt lappel
adress Pierre et Andr, Jean et Jacques : " Laissez vos
filets ; suivez-moi ; je veux faire de vous des pcheurs
dhommes " (Mt 4, 19).

Quant aux Petits Sminaires, cette trs salutaire institution a

t souvent et justement compare ces ppinires ou sont
mises part les plantes qui rclament des soins plus spciaux et
plus assidus, moyennant lesquels, seuls, elles peuvent porter
des fruits et ddommager de leurs peines ceux qui sappliquent
les cultiver. Nous renouvelons, cet gard, la recommandation
que, dans son Encyclique du 8 dcembre 1849, Notre
prdcesseur, Pie IX, adressait aux vques. Elle se rfrait ellemme une des plus importantes dcisions des Pres du saint
Concile de Trente. Cest la gloire de lEglise de France, dans le
sicle prsent, den avoir tenu le plus grand compte, puisquil
nest pas un seul des 94 diocses dont elle se compose qui ne
soit dot dun ou de plusieurs Petits Sminaires.

Nous savons, vnrables Frres, de quelles sollicitudes vous

entourez ces institutions si justement chres votre zle
pastoral, et Nous vous en flicitons. Les prtres qui, sous votre
haute direction, travaillent la formation de la jeunesse appele
senrler plus tard dans les rangs de la milice sacerdotale, ne
sauraient trop souvent mditer devant Dieu limportance
exceptionnelle de la mission que vous leur confiez. Il ne sagit
pas pour eux, comme pour le commun des matres, denseigner
simplement ces enfants les lments des lettres et des
sciences humaines. Ce nest l que la moindre partie de leur
tche. Il faut que leur attention, leur zle, leur dvouement
soient sans cesse en veil et en action, dune part, pour tudier
continuellement sous le regard et dans la lumire de Dieu les
mes des enfants et les indices significatifs de leur vocation au
service des autels ; de lautre, pour aider linexprience et la
faiblesse de leurs jeunes disciples, protger la grce si
prcieuse de lappel divin contre toutes les influences funestes,
soit du dehors, soit du dedans. Ils ont donc remplir un
ministre humble, laborieux, dlicat, qui exige une constante
abngation. Afin de soutenir leur courage dans
laccomplissement de leurs devoirs, ils auront soin de le
retremper aux sources les plus pures de lesprit. de foi. Ils ne
perdront jamais de vue quils nont point prparer pour des
fonctions terrestres, si lgitimes et honorables soient-elles les
enfants dont ils forment lintelligence, le coeur, le caractre.
LEglise les leur confie pour quils deviennent capables un jour
dtre des prtres, cest--dire des missionnaires de lEvangile,

des continuateurs de loeuvre de Jsus-Christ, des distributeurs

de sa grce et de ses sacrements. Que cette considration,
toute surnaturelle, se mle incessamment leur double action
de professeurs et dducateurs, et soit comme ce levain quil
faut mlanger au meilleur froment, suivant la parabole
vanglique, pour les transformer en un pain savoureux et
substantiel (cf. Mt 13, 33).

Si la proccupation constante dune premire et indispensable

formation lesprit et aux vertus du sacerdoce doit inspirer les
matres de vos Petits Sminaires dans leurs relations avec leurs
lves, cest cette mme ide principale et directrice que se
rapporteront le plan des tudes et toute lconomie de la
discipline. Nous nignorons pas, Vnrables Frres, que dans
une certaine mesure, vous tes obligs de compter avec les
programmes de lEtat et les conditions mises par lui
lobtention des grades universitaires, puisque, dans un certain
nombre de cas, ces grades sont exigs des prtres employs
soit la direction des collges libres placs sous la tutelle des
vques et des Congrgations religieuses, soit lenseignement
suprieur dans les Facults catholiques que vous avez si
louablement fondes. Il est, dailleurs, dun intrt souverain,
pour maintenir linfluence du clerg sur la socit, quil compte
dans ses rangs un assez grand nombre de prtres ne le cdant
en rien pour la science, dont les grades sont la constatation
officielle, aux matres que lEtat forme pour ses lyces et ses

Toutefois, et aprs avoir fait cette exigence des programmes

la part quimposent les circonstances, il faut que les tudes des
aspirants au sacerdoce demeurent fidles aux mthodes
traditionnelles des sicles passs. Ce sont elles qui ont form
les hommes minents dont lEglise de France est fire si juste
titre, les Ptau, les Thomassin, les Mabillon et tant dautres,
sans parler de votre Bossuet, appel laigle de Meaux, parce
que, soit par llvation des penses, soit par la noblesse du
langage, son gnie plane dans les plus sublimes rgions de la
science et de lloquence chrtienne. Or, cest ltude des
belles-lettres qui a puissamment aid ces hommes devenir de

trs vaillants et utiles ouvriers au service de lEglise, et les a

rendus capables de composer des ouvrages vraiment dignes de
passer la postrit et qui contribuent encore de nos jours la
dfense et la diffusion de la vrit rvle. En effet, cest le
propre des belles-lettres, quand elles sont enseignes par des
matres chrtiens et habiles, de dvelopper rapidement dans
lme des jeunes gens tous les germes de vie intellectuelle et
morale, en mme temps quelles contribuent donner au
jugement de la rectitude et de lampleur, et au langage, de
llgance et de la distinction.

Cette considration acquiert une importance spciale quand il

sagit des littratures grecque et latine, dpositaires des chefsdoeuvre de science sacre que lEglise compte bon droit
parmi ses plus prcieux trsors. Il y a un demi-sicle, pendant
cette priode trop courte de vritable libert, durant laquelle les
vques de France pouvaient se runir et concerter les mesures
quils estimaient les plus propres favoriser les progrs de la
religion et, du mme coup, les plus profitables la paix
publique, plusieurs de vos Conciles provinciaux, Vnrables
Frres, recommandrent de la faon la plus expresse la culture
de la langue et de la littrature latines. Vos collgues dalors
dploraient dj que, dans votre pays, la connaissance du latin
tendt dcrotre 2.

Si, depuis plusieurs annes, les mthodes pdagogiques en

vigueur dans les tablissements de lEtat rduisent
progressivement ltude de la langue latine, et suppriment des
exercices de prose et de posie que nos devanciers estimaient
bon droit devoir tenir une grande place dans les classes des
collges, les Petits Sminaires se mettront en garde contre ces
innovations inspires par des proccupations utilitaires, et qui
tournent au dtriment de la solide formation de lesprit. A ces
anciennes mthodes, tant de fois justifies par leurs rsultats,
Nous appliquerions volontiers le mot de saint Paul son disciple
Timothe, et, avec lAptre, Nous vous dirions, Vnrables
Frres : " Gardez-en le dpt " (1 Tm 6, 20) avec un soin jaloux.
Si un jour, ce qu Dieu ne plaise, elles devaient disparatre
compltement des autres coles publiques, que vos Petits

Sminaires et collges libres les gardent avec une intelligente et

patriotique sollicitude. Vous imiterez ainsi les prtres de
Jrusalem qui, voulant soustraire de barbares envahisseurs le
feu sacr du Temple, le cachrent de manire pouvoir le
retrouver et lui rendre toute sa splendeur, quand les mauvais
jours seraient passs (cf. 2 M 1, 19. 22).

Une fois en possession de la langue latine, qui est comme la clef

de la science sacre, et les facults de lesprit suffisamment
dveloppes par ltude des belles-lettres, les jeunes gens qui
se destinent au sacerdoce passent du Petit au Grand Sminaire.
Ils sy prpareront, par la pit et lexercice des vertus
clricales, la rception des saints Ordres, en mme temps
quils sy livreront ltude de la philosophie et de la thologie.

Nous le disions dans Notre Encyclique Aeterni Patris, dont Nous

recommandons de nouveau la lecture attentive vos
sminaristes et leurs matres, et Nous le disions en Nous
appuyant sur lautorit de saint Paul cest par les vaines
subtilits de la mauvaise philosophie, per philosophiam et
inanem fallaciam (Col 2, 8), que lesprit des fidles se laisse le
plus souvent tromper, et que la puret de la foi se corrompt
parmi les hommes. Nous ajoutions, et les vnements accomplis
depuis vingt ans ont bien tristement confirm les rflexions et
les apprhensions que Nous exprimions alors : " Si lon fait
attention aux conditions critiques du temps o nous vivons, si
lon embrasse par la pense ltat des affaires tant publiques
que prives, on dcouvrira sans peine que la cause des maux
qui nous oppriment, comme de ceux qui nous menacent,
consiste en ceci : que des opinions errones sur toutes choses,
divines et humaines, des coles des philosophes se sont peu
peu glisses dans tous les rangs de la socit et sont arrives
se faire accepter dun grand nombre desprits 3. "

Nous rprouvons de nouveau ces doctrines qui nont de la vraie

philosophie que le nom, et qui, branlant la base mme du
savoir humain, conduisent logiquement au scepticisme universel

et lirrligion. Ce nous est une profonde douleur dapprendre

que, depuis quelques annes, des catholiques ont cru pouvoir se
mettre la remorque dune philosophie qui, sous le spcieux
prtexte daffranchir la raison humaine de toute ide prconue
et de toute illusion, lui dnie le droit de rien affirmer au del de
ses propres oprations, sacrifiant ainsi un subjectivisme
radical toutes les certitudes que la mtaphysique traditionnelle,
consacre par lautorit des plus vigoureux esprits, donnait
comme ncessaires et inbranlables fondements la
dmonstration de lexistence de Dieu, de la spiritualit et de
limmortalit de lme, et de la ralit objective du monde
extrieur. Il est profondment regrettable que ce scepticisme
doctrinal, dimportation trangre et dorigine protestante, ait
pu tre accueilli avec tant de faveur dans un pays justement
clbre par son amour pour la clart des ides et pour celle du
langage. Nous savons, Vnrables Frres, quel point vous
partagez l-dessus Nos justes proccupations et Nous comptons
que vous redoublerez de sollicitude et de vigilance pour carter
de lenseignement de vos Sminaires cette fallacieuse et
dangereuse philosophie, mettant plus que jamais en honneur les
mthodes que Nous recommandions dans Notre Encyclique
prcite du 4 aot 1879.

Moins que jamais, notre poque, les lves de vos Petits et de

vos Grands Sminaires ne sauraient demeurer trangers
ltude des sciences physiques et naturelles. II convient donc
quils y soient appliqus, mais avec mesure et dans de sages
proportions. II nest donc nullement ncessaire que, dans les
cours de sciences, annexes ltude de la philosophie, les
professeurs se croient obligs dexposer en dtail les
applications presque innombrables des sciences physiques et
naturelles aux diverses branches de lindustrie humaine. Il suffit
que leurs lves en connaissent avec prcision les grands
principes et les conclusions sommaires, afin dtre en tat de
rsoudre les objections que les incrdules tirent de ces sciences
contre les enseignements de la rvlation.

Par-dessus tout, il importe que, durant deux ans au moins, les

lves de vos Grands Sminaires tudient avec un soin assidu la

philosophie rationnelle, laquelle, disait un savant Bndictin,

lhonneur de son Ordre et de la France, D. Mabillon, leur sera
dun si grand secours, non seulement pour leur apprendre
bien raisonner et porter de justes jugements, mais pour les
mettre mme de dfendre la foi orthodoxe contre les
arguments captieux et souvent sophistiques des adversaires 4.

Viennent ensuite les sciences sacres proprement dites, savoir

la Thologie dogmatique et la Thologie morale, lEcriture
Sainte, lHistoire ecclsiastique et le Droit Canon. Ce sont l les
sciences propres au prtre. Il en reoit une premire initiation
pendant son sjour au Grand Sminaire ; il devra en poursuivre
ltude tout le reste de sa vie.

La thologie, cest la science des choses de la foi. Elle

salimente, nous dit le pape SixteQuint, ces sources toujours
jaillissantes qui sont les Saintes Ecritures, les dcisions des
Papes, les dcrets des Conciles 5.

Appele positive et spculative, ou scolastique, suivant la

mthode quon emploie pour ltudier, la thologie ne se borne
bas proposer les vrits croire ; elle en scrute le fond intime,
elle en montre les rapports avec la raison humaine, et, laide
des ressources que lui fournit la vraie philosophie, elle les
explique, les dveloppe, et les adapte exactement tous les
besoins de la dfense et de la propagation de la foi. A linstar de
Blsel, qui le Seigneur avait donn son esprit de sagesse,
dintelligence et de science, en lui confiant la mission de btir
son temple, le thologien " taille les pierres prcieuses des
divins dogmes, les assortit avec art, et, par lencadrement dans
lequel il les place, en fait ressortir lclat, le charme et la beaut
6 ".

Cest donc avec raison que le mme Sixte-Quint appelle cette

thologie (et il parle spcialement ici de la thologie

scolastique) un don du ciel et demande quelle soit maintenue

dans les coles et cultive avec une grande ardeur, comme tant
ce quil y a de plus fructueux pour lEglise 7.

Est-il besoin dajouter que le livre par excellence ou les lves

pourront tudier avec plus de profit la thologie scolastique est
la Somme Thologique de saint Thomas dAquin ? Nous voulons
donc que les professeurs aient soin den expliquer tous leurs
lves la mthode, ainsi que les principaux articles relatifs la
foi catholique.

Nous recommandons galement que tous les sminaristes aient

entre les mains et relisent souvent le livre dor, connu sous le
nom de Catchisme du saint Concile de Trente ou Catchisme
romain, ddi tous les prtres investis de la charge pastorale
(Catechismus ad parochos). Remarquable la fois par la
richesse et lexactitude de la doctrine et par llgance du style,
ce catchisme est un prcieux abrg de toute la thologie
dogmatique et morale. Qui le possderait fond aurait toujours
sa disposition les ressources laide desquelles un prtre peut
prcher avec fruit, sacquitter dignement de limportant
ministre de la confession et de la direction des mes, et tre
en tat de rfuter victorieusement les objections des incrdules.

Au sujet de ltude des Saintes Ecritures, Nous appelons de

nouveau votre attention, Vnrables Frres, sur les
enseignements que Nous avons donns dans Notre Encyclique
Providentissimus Deus 8, dont nous dsirons que les
professeurs donnent connaissance leurs disciples, en y
ajoutant les explications ncessaires. Ils les mettront
spcialement en garde contre des tendances inquitantes qui
cherchent sintroduire dans linterprtation de la Bible, et qui,
si elles venaient prvaloir, ne tarderaient pas en ruiner
linspiration et le caractre surnaturels. Sous le spcieux
prtexte denlever aux adversaires de la parole rvle lusage
darguments qui semblaient irrfutables contre lauthenticit et
la vracit des Livres Saints, des crivains catholiques ont cru

trs habile de prendre ces arguments leur compte. En vertu de

cette trange et prilleuse tactique, ils ont travaill, de leurs
propres mains, faire des brches dans les murailles de la cit
quils avaient mission de dfendre. Dans Notre Encyclique
prcite, ainsi que dans un autre document 9, Nous avons fait
justice de ces dangereuses tmrits. Tout en encourageant nos
exgtes se tenir au courant des progrs de la critique, Nous
avons fermement maintenu les principes sanctionns en cette
matire par lautorit traditionnelle des Pres et des Conciles,
et renouvels de nos jours par le Concile du Vatican.

Lhistorien de lEglise sera dautant plus fort pour faire ressortir

son origine divine, suprieure tout concept dordre purement
terrestre et naturel, quil aura t plus loyal ne rien dissimuler
des preuves que les fautes de ses enfants, et parfois mme de
ses ministres, ont fait subir cette Epouse du Christ dans le
cours des sicles. Etudie de cette faon, lhistoire de lEglise,
elle toute seule, constitue une magnifique et concluante
dmonstration de la vrit et de la divinit du christianisme.

Lhistoire de lEglise est comme un miroir o resplendit la vie de

lEglise travers les sicles. Bien plus encore que lhistoire
civile et profane, elle dmontre la souveraine libert de Dieu et
son action providentielle sur la marche des vnements. Ceux
qui ltudient ne doivent jamais perdre de vue quelle renferme
un ensemble de faits dogmatiques, qui simposent la foi et
quil nest permis personne de rvoquer en doute. Cette ide
directrice et surnaturelle qui prside aux destines de lEglise
est en mme temps le flambeau dont la lumire claire son
histoire. Toutefois, et parce que lEglise, qui continue parmi les
hommes la vie du Verbe incarn, se compose dun lment divin
et dun lment humain, ce dernier doit tre expos par les
lves avec une grande probit. Comme il est dit au livre de
Job : " Dieu na pas besoin de nos mensonges (Jb 13, 77) 10. "

Enfin, pour achever le cycle des tudes par lesquelles les

candidats au sacerdoce doivent se prparer leur futur

ministre, il faut mentionner le droit canonique, ou science des

lois et de la jurisprudence de lEglise. Cette science se rattache
par des liens trs intimes et trs logiques celle de la thologie,
dont elle montre les applications pratiques tout ce qui
concerne le gouvernement de lEglise, la dispensation des
choses saintes, les droits et les devoirs de ses ministres, lusage
des biens temporels, dont elle a besoin pour laccomplissement
de sa mission. " Sans la connaissance du droit canonique
(disaient fort bien les Pres dun de vos Conciles provinciaux), la
thologie est imparfaite, incomplte, semblable un homme qui
serait priv dun bras. Cest lignorance du droit canon qui a
favoris la naissance et la diffusion de nombreuses erreurs sur
les droits des Pontifes Romains, sur ceux des vques et sur la
puissance que lEglise tient de sa propre constitution, dont elle
proportionne lexercice aux circonstances 11.

Nous rsumerons tout ce que Nous venons de dire sur vos Petits
et vos Grands Sminaires par cette parole de saint Paul, que
Nous recommandons la frquente mditation des matres et
des lves de vos athnes ecclsiastiques : " O Timothe,
gardez avec soin le dpt qui vous a t confi. Fuyez les
profanes nouveauts de paroles et les objections qui se
couvrent du faux nom de science ; car tout ceux qui en ont fait
profession ont err au sujet de la foi (1 Tm 6, 20-21) 12. "

Cest vous maintenant, trs chers Fils, qui, ordonns prtres,

tes devenus les cooprateurs de vos vques, cest vous que
Nous voulons adresser la parole. Nous connaissons, et le monde
entier connat comme Nous, les qualits qui vous distinguent.
Pas une bonne oeuvre dont vous ne soyez ou les inspirateurs ou
les aptres. Dociles aux conseils que Nous avons donns dans
Notre Encyclique Rerum Novarum, vous allez au peuple, aux
ouvriers, aux pauvres. Vous cherchez par tous les moyens leur
venir en aide, les moraliser et rendre leur sort moins dur.
Dans ce but, vous provoquez des runions et des Congrs ; vous
fondez des patronages, des cercles, des caisses rurales, des
bureaux dassistance et de placement pour les travailleurs. Vous
vous ingniez introduire des rformes dans lordre
conomique et social, et, pour un si difficile labeur, vous

nhsitez pas faire de notables sacrifices de temps et dargent.

Cest encore pour cela que vous crivez des livres ou des
articles dans les journaux et les revues priodiques. Toutes ces
choses, en elles-mmes, sont trs louables, et vous y donnez
des preuves non quivoques de bon vouloir, dintelligent et
gnreux dvouement aux besoins les plus pressants de la
socit contemporaine et des mes.

Toutefois, trs chers Fils, Nous croyons devoir appeler

paternellement votre attention sur quelques principes
fondamentaux, auxquels vous ne manquerez pas de vous
conformer, si vous voulez que votre action soit rellement
fructueuse et fconde.

Souvenez-vous avant toute chose que, pour tre profitable au

bien et digne dtre lou, le zle doit tre " accompagn de
discrtion, de rectitude et de puret ". Ainsi sexprime le grave
et judicieux Thomas a Kempis 13. Avant lui, saint Bernard, la
gloire de votre pays au XIIe sicle, cet aptre infatigable de
toutes les grandes causes qui touchaient lhonneur de Dieu,
aux droits de lEglise, au bien des mes, navait pas craint de
dire que, spar de la science et de lesprit de discernement ou
de discrtion, le zle est insupportable ... que plus le zle est
ardent, plus il est ncessaire quil soit accompagn de cette
discrtion qui met lordre dans lexercice de la charit, et sans
laquelle la vertu elle-mme peut devenir un dfaut et un
principe de dsordre 14 ".

Mais la discrtion dans les oeuvres et dans le choix des moyens

pour les faire russir est dautant plus indispensable que les
temps prsents sont plus troubls et hrisss de difficults plus
nombreuses. Tel acte, telle mesure, telle pratique de zle
pourront tre excellents en eux-mmes, lesquels, vu les
circonstances, ne produiront que des rsultats fcheux. Les
prtres viteront cet inconvnient et ce malheur si, avant dagir
et dans laction, ils ont soin de se conformer lordre tabli et
aux rgles de la discipline. Or, la discipline ecclsiastique exige

lunion entre les divers membres de la hirarchie, le respect et

lobissance des infrieurs lgard des suprieurs. Nous le
disions nagure dans Nos lettres larchevque de Tours : "
Ldifice de lEglise, dont Dieu lui-mme est larchitecte, repose
sur un trs visible fondement, dabord sur lautorit de Pierre et
de ses successeurs, mais aussi sur les aptres, et les
successeurs des aptres, qui sont les vques ; de telle sorte
qucouter leur voix ou la mpriser quivaut couter ou
mpriser Jsus-Christ lui-mme 15. "

Ecoutez donc les paroles adresses par le grand martyr

dAntioche, saint Ignace, au clerg de lEglise primitive : " Que
tous obissent leur Evque comme Jsus-Christ a obi son
Pre. Ne faites en dehors de votre vque rien de ce qui touche
au service de lEglise, et de mme que Notre-Seigneur na rien
fait que dans une troite union avec son Pre, vous, prtres, ne
faites rien sans votre vque. Que tous les membres du corps
presbytral lui soient unis, de mme que sont unies la harpe
toutes les cordes de linstrument 16. "

Si, au contraire, vous agissiez, comme prtres, en dehors de

cette soumission et de cette union vos vques, Nous vous
rpterions ce que disait Notre prdcesseur Grgoire XVI,
savoir que, " autant quil dpend de votre pouvoir, vous
dtruisez de fond en comble lordre tabli avec une si sage
prvoyance par Dieu, auteur de 1Eglise 17.

Souvenez-vous encore, Nos chers Fils, que lEglise est avec

raison compare une arme range en bataille, sicut
castrorum acies ordinata (Ct 6, 3), parce quelle a pour mission
de combattre les ennemis visibles et invisibles de Dieu et des
mes. Voil pourquoi saint Paul recommandait Timothe de se
comporter " comme un bon soldat du Christ Jsus (2 Tm 2, 3) ".
Or, ce qui fait la force dune arme et contribue le plus la
victoire, cest la discipline, cest lobissance exacte et
rigoureuse de tous, ceux qui ont la charge de commander.

Cest bien ici que le zle intempestif et sans discrtion peut

aisment devenir la cause de vritables dsastres. Rappelezvous un des faits les plus mmorables de lHistoire Sainte.
Assurment, ils ne manquaient ni de courage, ni de bon vouloir,
ni de dvouement la cause sacre de la religion, ces prtres
qui staient groups autour de Judas Machabe pour combattre
avec lui les ennemis du vrai Dieu, les profanateurs du temple,
les oppresseurs de leur nation. Toutefois, ayant voulu
saffranchir des rgles de la discipline, ils sengagrent
tmrairement dans un combat o ils furent vaincus. LEspritSaint nous dit deux " quils ntaient pas de la race de ceux qui
pouvaient sauver Isral. Pourquoi ? parce quils avaient voulu
nobir qu leurs propres inspirations et staient jets en
avant sans attendre les ordres de leurs chefs. In die illa
ceciderunt sacerdotes in bello dum volunt fortiter facere, dum
sine consilio exeunt in proelium. Ipsi autem non erant de semine
virorum illorum, per quos salus facta est in Israel (1 M 5, 67.

A cet gard, nos ennemis peuvent nous servir dexemple. Ils

savent trs bien que lunion fait la force, vis unita fortior ; aussi,
ne manquent-ils pas de sunir troitement, ds quil sagit de
combattre la sainte Eglise de Jsus-Christ.

Si donc, Nos chers Fils, comme tel est certainement votre cas,
vous dsirez que, dans la lutte formidable engage contre
lEglise par les sectes antichrtiennes et par la cit du dmon, la
victoire reste Dieu et son Eglise, il est dune absolue
ncessit que vous combattiez tous ensemble, en grand ordre et
en exacte discipline, sous le commandement de vos chefs
hirarchiques. Ncoutez pas ces hommes nfastes qui, tout en
se disant chrtiens et catholiques, jettent la zizanie dans le
champ du Seigneur et sment la division dans son Eglise en
attaquant, et souvent mme, en calomniant les vques, "
tablis par lEsprit-Saint pour rgir lEglise de Dieu (Ac 20, 28). "

Ne lisez ni leurs brochures, ni leurs journaux. Un bon prtre ne

doit autoriser en aucune manire ni leurs ides, ni la licence de
leur langage. Pourrait-il jamais oublier que, le jour de son
ordination, il a solennellement promis son vque, en face des
saints autels, obedientiam et reverentiam ?

Par-dessus tout, Nos chers Fils, rappelez-vous que la condition

indispensable du vrai zle sacerdotal et le meilleur gage de
succs dans les oeuvres auxquelles lobissance hirarchique
vous consacre, cest la puret et la saintet de la vie. " Jsus a
commenc par faire avant denseigner (Ac 1, 1). " Comme lui,
cest par la prdication de lexemple que le prtre doit prluder
la prdication de la parole. " Spars du sicle et de ses
affaires (disent les Pres du saint Concile de Trente), les clercs
ont t placs une hauteur qui les met en vidence, et les
fidles regardent dans leur vie comme dans un miroir pour
savoir ce quils doivent imiter. Cest pourquoi les clercs, et tous
ceux que Dieu a spcialement appels son service, doivent si
bien rgler leurs actions et leurs moeurs que dans leur manire
dtre, leurs mouvements, leurs dmarches, leurs paroles et
tous les autres dtails de leur vie, il ny ait rien qui ne soit
grave, modeste, profondment empreint de religion. Ils
viteront les fautes qui, lgres chez les autres, seraient trs
graves pour eux, afin quil ny ait pas un seul de leurs actes qui
ninspire tous le respect 18. "

A ces recommandations du saint Concile, que Nous voudrions,

Nos chers Fils, graver dans tous vos coeurs, manqueraient
assurment les prtres qui adopteraient dans leurs prdications
un langage peu en harmonie avec la dignit de leur sacerdoce et
la saintet de la parole de Dieu ; qui assisteraient des
runions populaires o leur prsence ne servirait qu exciter
les passions des impies et des ennemis de lEglise, et les
exposerait eux-mmes aux plus grossires injures, sans profit
pour personne et au grand tonnement, sinon au scandale, des
pieux fidles ; qui prendraient les manires dtre et dagir, et
lesprit des sculiers. Assurment, le sel a besoin dtre

mlang la masse quil doit prserver de la corruption, en

mme temps que lui-mme se dfend contre elle, sous peine de
perdre toute saveur et de ntre plus bon rien qu tre jet
dehors et foul aux pieds (Mt 5, 13).

De mme le prtre, sel de la terre, dans son contact oblig avec

la socit qui lentoure, doit-il conserver la modestie, la gravit,
la saintet dans son maintien, ses actes, ses paroles, et ne pas
se laisser envahir par la lgret, la dissipation, la vanit des
gens du monde. Il faut, au contraire, quau milieu des hommes il
conserve son me si unie Dieu, quil ny perde rien de lesprit
de son saint tat et ne soit pas contraint de faire devant Dieu et
devant sa conscience ce triste et humiliant aveu : " Toutes les
fois que jai t parmi les laques, jen suis revenu moins prtre.

Ne serait-ce pas pour avoir, par un zle prsomptueux, mis de

ct ces rgles traditionnelles de la discrtion, de la modestie,
de la prudence sacerdotales, que certains prtres traitent de
suranns, dincompatibles avec les besoins du ministre dans le
temps ou nous vivons, les principes de discipline et de conduite
quils ont reus de leurs matres du grand Sminaire ? On les
voit aller, comme dinstinct, au-devant des innovations les plus
prilleuses de langage, dallures, de relations. Plusieurs, hlas !
engags tmrairement sur des pentes glissantes, o, par euxmmes, ils navaient pas la force de se retenir, mprisant les
avertissements charitables de leurs suprieurs ou de leurs
confrres plus anciens ou plus expriments, ont abouti des
apostasies qui ont rjoui les adversaires de lEglise et fait verser
des larmes bien amres leurs vques, leurs frres dans le
sacerdoce et aux pieux fidles. Saint Augustin nous le dit : Plus
on marche avec force et rapidit quand on est en dehors du bon
chemin, et plus on sgare 19. "

Assurment, il y a des nouveauts avantageuses, propres faire

avancer le royaume de Dieu dans les mes et dans la socit.
Mais, nous dit le saint Evangile (Mt 13, 52), cest au Pre de

famille, et non aux enfants et aux serviteurs, quil appartient de

les examiner, et, sil le juge propos, de leur donner droit de
cit, ct des usages anciens et vnrables qui composent
lautre partie de son trsor.

Lorsque, nagure, Nous remplissions le devoir apostolique de

mettre les catholiques de lAmrique du Nord en garde contre
des innovations tendant, entre autres choses, substituer aux
principes de perfection consacrs par lenseignement des
docteurs et par la pratique des saints, des maximes ou des
rgles de vie morale plus ou moins imprgnes de ce
naturalisme qui, de nos jours, tend pntrer partout, Nous
avons hautement proclam que, loin de rpudier et de rejeter en
bloc les progrs accomplis dans les temps prsents, Nous
voulions accueillir trs volontiers tout ce qui peut augmenter le
patrimoine de la science ou gnraliser davantage les conditions
de la prosprit publique. Mais Nous avions soin dajouter que
ces progrs ne pouvaient servir efficacement la cause du bien, si
lon mettait de ct la sage autorit de lEglise 20.

En terminant ces lettres, il Nous plat dappliquer au clerg de

France, ce que Nous crivions jadis aux prtres de Notre diocse
de Prouse. Nous reproduisons ici une partie de la Lettre
pastorale que Nous leur adressions le 19 juillet 1866.

" Nous demandons aux ecclsiastiques de notre diocse de

rflchir srieusement sur leurs sublimes obligations, sur les
circonstances difficiles que nous traversons, et de faire en sorte
que leur conduite soit en harmonie avec leurs devoirs et
toujours conforme aux rgles dun zle clair et prudent. Ainsi
ceux-l mme qui sont nos ennemis chercheront en vain des
motifs de reproche et de blme : qui ex adverso est, vereatur
nihil habens malum dicere de nobis (Tt 2, 8).

" Bien que les difficults et les prils se multiplient de jour en

jour, le prtre pieux et fervent ne doit pas pour cela se
dcourager, il ne doit pas abandonner ses devoirs, ni mme
sarrter dans laccomplissement de la mission spirituelle quil a
reue pour le bien, pour le salut de lhumanit, et pour le
maintien de cette auguste religion dont il est le hraut et le
ministre. Car cest surtout dans les difficults, dans les
preuves, que sa vertu saffirme et se fortifie : cest dans les
plus grands malheurs, au milieu des transformations politiques
et des bouleversements sociaux, que laction bienfaisante et
civilisatrice de son ministre se manifeste avec plus dclat.

" ... Pour en venir la pratique, nous trouvons un enseignement

parfaitement adapt aux circonstances dans les quatre maximes
que le grand aptre saint Paul donnait son disciple Tite. En
toutes choses, donnez le bon exemple par vos oeuvres, par
votre doctrine, par lintgrit de votre vie, par la gravit de
votre conduite, en ne faisant usage que de paroles saintes et
irrprhensibles (In omnibus teipsum praebe exemplum
bonorum operum, in doctrina, in integritate, in gravitate,
verbum sanum, irreprehensibile - Tt 2, 7-8). Nous voudrions que
chacun des membres de notre clerg mditt ces maximes et y
conformt sa conduite.

" In omnibus teipsum praebe exemplum bonorum operum. En

toutes choses donnez lexemple des bonnes oeuvres, cest-dire dune vie exemplaire et active, anime dun vritable esprit
de charit et guide par les maximes de la prudence
vanglique ; dune vie de sacrifice et de travail, consacre
faire du bien au prochain, non pas dans des vues terrestres et
pour une rcompense prissable, mais dans un but surnaturel.
Donnez lexemple de ce langage la fois simple, noble et lev,
de cette parole saine et irrprhensible, qui confond toute
opposition humaine, apaise lantique haine que nous a voue le
monde, et nous concilie le respect, lestime mme des ennemis
de la religion. Quiconque sest vou au service du sanctuaire a
t oblig en tout temps de se montrer un vivant modle, un
exemplaire parfait de toutes les vertus ; mais cette obligation
est beaucoup plus grande lorsque, par suite des

bouleversements sociaux, on marche sur un terrain difficile et

incertain, o lon peut trouver chaque pas des embches et
des prtextes dattaque...

" ... In doctrina. En prsence des efforts combins de

lincrdulit et de lhrsie pour consommer la ruine de la foi
catholique, ce serait un vrai crime pour le clerg de rester
hsitant et inactif. Au milieu dun si grand dbordement
derreurs, dun tel conflit dopinions, il ne peut faillir sa
mission qui est de dfendre le dogme attaqu, la morale
travestie et la justice si souvent mconnue. Cest lui quil
appartient de sopposer comme une barrire lerreur
envahissante et lhrsie qui se dissimule ; lui de surveiller
les agissements des fauteurs dimpit qui sattaquent la foi
et lhonneur de cette contre catholique ; lui de dmasquer
leurs ruses et de signaler leurs embches ; lui de prmunir les
simples, de fortifier les timides, douvrir les yeux aux aveugles.
Une rudition superficielle, une science vulgaire ne suffisent
point pour cela : il faut des tudes solides, approfondies et
continuelles, en un mot, un ensemble de connaissances
doctrinales capables de lutter avec la subtilit et la singulire
astuce de nos modernes contradicteurs...

" ... In integritate. Rien ne prouve tant limportance de ce

conseil, que la triste exprience de ce qui se passe autour de
nous. Ne voyons-nous pas, en effet, que la vie relche de
certains ecclsiastiques discrdite et fait mpriser leur
ministre et occasionne des scandales ? Si des hommes dous
dun esprit aussi brillant que remarquable dsertent parfois les
rangs de la sainte milice et se mettent en rvolte contre lEglise,
cette mre qui, dans son affectueuse tendresse, les avait
prposs au gouvernement et au salut des mes, leur dfection
et leurs garements nont le plus souvent pour origine que leur
indiscipline ou leurs mauvaises moeurs...

" ... In gravitate. Par gravit, il faut entendre cette conduite

srieuse, pleine de jugement et de tact qui doit tre propre au

ministre fidle et prudent que Dieu a choisi pour le

gouvernement de sa famille. Celui-ci, en effet, tout en
remerciant Dieu davoir daign llever cet honneur, doit se
montrer fidle toutes ses obligations, en mme temps que
mesur et prudent dans tous ses actes ; il ne doit point se
laisser dominer par de viles passions, ni emporter en paroles
violentes et excessives ; il doit compatir avec bont aux
malheurs et aux faiblesses dautrui, faire chacun tout le bien
quil peut, dune manire dsintresse, sans ostentation, en
maintenant toujours intact lhonneur de son caractre et de sa
sublime dignit. "

Nous revenons maintenant vous, Nos chers fils du clerg

franais, et Nous avons la ferme confiance que Nos prescriptions
et Nos conseils, uniquement inspirs par Notre affection
paternelle, seront compris et reus par vous, selon le sens et la
porte que Nous avons voulu leur donner en vous adressant ces

Nous attendons beaucoup de vous, parce que Dieu vous a

richement pourvus de tous les dons et de toutes les qualits
ncessaires pour oprer de grandes et saintes choses
lavantage de lEglise et de la socit. Nous voudrions que pas
un seul dentre vous ne se laisst entamer par ces imperfections
qui diminuent la splendeur du caractre sacerdotal et nuisent
son efficacit.

Les temps actuels sont tristes, lavenir est encore plus sombre
et plus menaant ; il semble annoncer lapproche dune crise
redoutable de bouleversements sociaux. Il faut donc, comme
Nous lavons dit en diverses circonstances, que nous mettions
en honneur les principes salutaires de la religion, ainsi que ceux
de la justice, de la charit, du respect et du devoir. Cest nous
den pntrer profondment les mes, particulirement celles
qui sont captives de lincrdulit ou agites par de funestes
passions, de faire rgner la grce et la paix de notre divin
Rdempteur, qui est la lumire, la rsurrection, la vie, et de

runir en lui tous les hommes, malgr les invitables

distinctions sociales qui les sparent.

Oui, plus que jamais, les jours o nous sommes rclament le

concours et le dvouement de prtres exemplaires, pleins de
foi, de discrtion, de zle, qui, sinspirant de la douceur et de
lnergie de Jsus-Christ, dont ils sont les vritables
ambassadeurs, pro Christo legatione fungimur (2 Co 5, 20),
annoncent avec une courageuse et indfectible patience les
vrits ternelles, lesquelles sont pour les mes les semences
fcondes des vertus.

Leur ministre sera laborieux, souvent mme pnible,

spcialement dans les pays o les populations, absorbes par
les intrts terrestres, vivent dans loubli de Dieu et de sa
sainte religion. Mais laction claire, charitable, infatigable du
prtre, fortifie par la grce divine, oprera, comme elle la fait
en tous les temps, dincroyables prodiges de rsurrection.

Nous saluons de tous nos voeux et avec une joie ineffable cette
consolante perspective, tandis que, dans toute laffection de
Notre coeur, Nous accordons vous, vnrables Frres, au
clerg et tous les catholiques de France, la bndiction

Donn Rome, prs Saint-Pierre, le 8 septembre de lanne

1899, de Notre Pontificat la vingt-deuxime.


1 S. Greg. M. Lib. Regulae Past., p. 1, c. 1.

2 Porro linguam latinam apud nos obsolescere nec quisquam est

qui nesciat, et viri prudentes conqueruntur. Discitur tardissime,
celerime didiscitur (Litt. Synod. Patrum Conc. Paris. ad clericos
et fideles, an. 1819, in Collectio Lacensis, t. IV, col. 86).

3 Encyclique : AEterni Patris.

4 De Studiis Monasticis, part. II, c. 9.

5 Const. Apost. Triumphantis Jerusalem.

6 Pretiosas divini dogmatis gemmas insculpe, fideliter coapta,

adorna sapienter ; adiice splendorem, gratiam, venustatem. (S.
Vinc. Lir. Commonit., c. 2.)

7 Mme Constitution.

8 18 novembre 1893.

9 Genus interpretandi audax atque immodice liberum (Lettre au

Ministre Gnral des Frres Mineurs, 25 novembre 1898.)

10 Numquid Deus indiget vestro mendacio ?

11 Theologicarum doctrinarum solidae scientiae conjungi debet

Sacrorum Canonum cognitio ... sine qua theologia erit
imperfecta et quasi manca, nec non multi errores de Romani
Pontificis, episcoporum juribus ac praesertim de potestate quam
Ecclesia jure proprio exercuit, pro varietate temporum, forsitan
serpent et paulatim invalescent (Conc. prov. Bitur. a. 1868).

12 O Timothee, depositum custodi, devitans profanas vocum

novitates, et oppositiones falsi nominis scientiae, quam quidam
promittentes, circa fidem exciderunt.

13 Zelus animarum laudandus est si sit discretus, rectus et


14 Importabilis siquidem absque scientia est zelus ... Quo igitur

zelus fervidior ac vehementior spiritus, profusiorque charitas,
eo vigulantiori opus scientia est quae zelum supprimat, spiritum
temperet, ordinet charitatem ... Tolle hanc (discretionem) et
virtus vitium erit, ipsaque affectio naturalis in perturbationem
magis convertetur exterminiumque naturae (S. Bern. Serm. XLIX
in Cant., n. 5.)

15 Divinum quippe aedificium, quod est ecclesia, verissime

nititur in fundamento conspicuo, primum quidem in Petro et
successoribus ejus, proxime in apostolis et successoribus

eorum, episcopis, quos, qui audit vel spernit, is perinde facit ac

si audiat vel spernat Christum Dominum (Epist ad arch. Turon).

16 Omnes episcopum sequimini ut Christus Jesus Patrem ... Sine

episcopo nemo quidquam faciat eorum quae ad Ecclesiam
spectant (S. Ign. Ant. Ep. ad Smyrn. 8). Quemadmodum itaque
dominus sine Patre nihil fecit ... sic et vos sine episcopo (idem
ad magn., VII). Vestrum presbyterium ita coaptatum sit episcopo
ut chordae citharae (idem ad Ephes., IV).

17 Quantum in vobis est, ordinem ab auctore Ecclesiae Deo

providentissime constitutem funditus evertitis (Greg. xvi. Epist.
Encycl., 15 aug. 1832).

18 Cum enim a rebus saeculi in altiorem sublati locum

conspiciantur, in eos tanquam in speculum reliqui oculos
conjiciunt ex iisque sumunt quod imitentur. Quapropter sic decet
omnino clericos, in sortem Domini vocatos, vitam moresque suos
omnes componere, ut habitu, gestu, incessu, sermone aliisque
omnibus rebus, nil nisi grave, moderatum, ac religione plenum
prae se ferant ; leviam etiam delicta, quae in ipsis maxima
essent, effugiant, ut eorum actiones cunctis afferant
venerationem (S. Conc. Trid. Sess. XXII, de Reform., c. 1).

19 Enarr., in Ps. XXXI, n., 4.

20 Abest profecto a Nobis ut quaecumque horum temporum

ingenium parit omnia repudiemus. Quin potius quidquid
indagando veri auenitendo boni attingitur, ad patrimonium
doctrinae augendum publit caeque prosperitatis fines

proferendos, libentibus sane Nobis accedit. Id tamen omne, ne

solidae utilitatis sit expers, esse ac vigere nequaquam debet
Ecclesiae auctoritate sapientiaquae posthabita (Epist. ad S.R.E.
Presbyt. Card. Gibbons, Archiep. Baltimor., die 22 ian. 1899).