With every passing year the prescience and wisdom of Bl. Pope Pius IX’s famous Syllabus of Errors becomes more apparent. He identified so many errors in their early stages, which have since plagued the world for so long. The Syllabus is composed of quotations from various allocutions and writings of the pope. And it is of great interest to read those passages in their original contexts with all the Pope’s own comments on them, which were omitted in the Syllabus. Unfortunately, very few of those documents have been translated into English. One of the main sources of the Syllabus, however, the Allocution Maxima Quidem, has recently been posted as part of a new translation project at The Josias, a website devoted to Thomist political philosophy and traditional Catholic social doctrine. Reading Maxima Quidem one is struck by the vehemence of Bl. Pius IX’s horror at the modern errors to which we have now sadly become so accustomed. A few quotations:
Truly these most cunning artificers of fraud and fabricators of falsehood do not cease to call forth from the darkness all monstrous portents of ancient errors—already overthrown and driven away so many times by the wisest writings, and condemned by the most solemn judgment of the Church—and to magnify them, expressing them in new, varied and most fallacious forms and expressions, and to disseminate them in all modes everywhere.
With this most calamitous and utterly diabolical method they befoul and disfigure the knowledge of all things; they spread abroad a fatal poison, to the ruin of souls, and encourage unbridled license of living, and all manner of vicious lusts; they invert religious and social order; they strive to extinguish even any idea of justice, truth, right, honesty, and religion, and they mock, and scorn, and attack the most holy dogmas and doctrine of Christ...
And they rashly assert that human reason, without any reference to God, is the only judge of truth and falsehood, good and evil, and that human reason is a law unto itself, and suffices by its own natural power for the care of the good of persons and peoples. But since they perversely dare to derive all truths of religion from the inborn force of human reason, they assign to man a certain basic right, from which he can think and speak about religion as he likes, and give such honor and worship to God as he finds more agreeable to himself.
Read the rest on The Josias, whose translation project we wish many blessings, since far too few papal documents from before the reign of Pope Leo XIII have been translated into English.