Rorate Caeli

Remembering a great Pope

Pius XI died on February 10, 1939; a few days ago (February 6), the 85th anniversary of Achille Ratti's accession to the Supreme Pontificate also took place. Thank you, King and Lord of the Universe, for having given your Holy Church such a remarkable Shepherd. reason, however grave, may be put forward by which anything intrinsically against nature may become conformable to nature and morally good. Since, therefore, the conjugal act is destined primarily by nature for the begetting of children, those who in exercising it deliberately frustrate its natural power and purpose sin against nature and commit a deed which is shameful and intrinsically vicious.
Casti Connubii

...the union of Christians can only be promoted by promoting the return to the one true Church of Christ of those who are separated from it, for in the past they have unhappily left it. To the one true Church of Christ, we say, which is visible to all, and which is to remain, according to the will of its Author, exactly the same as He instituted it. ... in this one Church of Christ no man can be or remain who does not accept, recognize and obey the authority and supremacy of Peter and his legitimate successors.
Mortalium Animos

If Socialism, like all errors, contains some truth (which, moreover, the Supreme Pontiffs have never denied), it is based nevertheless on a theory of human society peculiar to itself and irreconcilable with true Christianity. Religious socialism, Christian socialism, are contradictory terms; no one can be at the same time a good Catholic and a true Socialist.

Quadragesimo Anno

...if we are to avoid the errors which are the source and fountain-head of all the miseries of our time, the teaching of Aquinas must be adhered to more religiously than ever. ...against the much vaunted liberty of the human reason and its independence in regard to God he asserts the rights of primary Truth and the authority over us of the Supreme Master. It is therefore clear why Modernists are so amply justified in fearing no Doctor of the Church so much as Thomas Aquinas. Accordingly, just as it was said to the Egyptians of old in time of famine: "Go to Joseph," so that they should receive a supply of corn from him to nourish their bodies, so We now say to all such as are desirous of the truth: "Go to Thomas," and ask him to give you from his ample store the food of substantial doctrine wherewith to nourish your souls unto eternal life.
Studiorum Ducem

Whoever exalts race, or the people, or the State, or a particular form of State, or the depositories of power, or any other fundamental value of the human community - however necessary and honorable be their function in worldly things - whoever raises these notions above their standard value and divinizes them to an idolatrous level, distorts and perverts an order of the world planned and created by God; he is far from the true faith in God and from the concept of life which that faith upholds.
Mit brennender Sorge

...the Church, being a society of men, cannot exist or develop if it does not enjoy liberty of action, and that its members have the right to find in civil society the possibility of living according to the dictates of their consciences. ... Thus a Catholic will take care not to pass over his right to vote when the good of the Church or of the country requires it

Nos es muy conocida

It would be a grave error, on the other hand, to say that Christ has no authority whatever in civil affairs, since, by virtue of the absolute empire over all creatures committed to him by the Father, all things are in his power. ... If to Christ our Lord is given all power in heaven and on earth; if all men, purchased by his precious blood, are by a new right subjected to his dominion; if this power embraces all men, it must be clear that not one of our faculties is exempt from his empire. He must reign in our minds, which should assent with perfect submission and firm belief to revealed truths and to the doctrines of Christ. He must reign in our wills, which should obey the laws and precepts of God. He must reign in our hearts, which should spurn natural desires and love God above all things, and cleave to him alone. He must reign in our bodies and in our members, which should serve as instruments for the interior sanctification of our souls ... .
Quas Primas

Communism is intrinsically wrong, and no one who would save Christian civilization may collaborate with it in any undertaking whatsoever. Those who permit themselves to be deceived into lending their aid towards the triumph of Communism in their own country, will be the first to fall victims of their error. And the greater the antiquity and grandeur of the Christian civilization in the regions where Communism successfully penetrates, so much more devastating will be the hatred displayed by the godless.

Divini Redemptoris

There exists an institution able to safeguard the sanctity of the law of nations. This institution is a part of every nation; at the same time it is above all nations. She enjoys, too, the highest authority, the fullness of the teaching power of the Apostles. Such an institution is the Church of Christ.

Ubi Arcano Dei Consilio

The Eucharistic Sacrifice in which the Immaculate Victim who taketh away the sins of the world is immolated, requires in a special way that the priest, by a holy and spotless life, should make himself as far as he can, less unworthy of God, to whom he daily offers that adorable Victim, the very Word of God incarnate for love of us. Agnoscite quod agitis, imitamini quod tractatis, "realize what you are doing, and imitate what you handle," says the Church through the Bishop to the deacons as they are about to be consecrated priests.
Ad Catholici Sacerdotii

What a spectacle for heaven and earth is not the Church in prayer! For centuries without interruption, from midnight to midnight, is repeated on earth the divine psalmody of the inspired canticles; there is no hour of the day that is not hallowed by its special liturgy; there is no stage of life that has not its part in the thanksgiving, praise, supplication and reparation in common use by the mystical body of Christ, which is the Church.
Caritate Christi


  1. Anonymous1:39 AM


    Is his cause for cannonization open?

  2. Anonymous3:00 AM

    This astute revelation of the life of Pope Pius XI brings to mind the greatest of the great popes himself, St. Peter who loved His Divine Master with a love that surpassed also the grave, but this after a most deplorable denial three times. Yet Peter's love for Christ was not to be surpassed by any of the other apostles for Peter's willingness to be crucified like His Divine Master, but only upside down because he was not worthy to be crucified as his Lord and Master. Yes, Peter followed Christ even unto death, the death of the cross!

    Moreover St. Peter was the perfect example of all the apostles to teach them how to be orthodox, Roman, and catholic.

    First of all this is true because Peter lived out Christ's Passion and Death and all the morality and doctrine it represents to the letter, thus making him the most orthodox. He established the Church in Rome and from there taught, prayed, and preached in Latin, the tongue of the Romans and the Latin Rite ever since. Lastly, Peter was the most catholic of Catholics, making the Church totally universal by being the most exemplary of missionaries and taking Christ's own message of Catholicity most seriously as he traveled the known world to preach the good news and baptize in the Name of the Father, the Son, and the Holy Spirit.
    Now, we hear Pope Benedict XVI is living the life of Peter again by restoring the most orthodox, Roman, and Catholic of prayers, the Tridentine Latin Mass, so again the Latin Rite and the Church can be as orthodox, Roman, and Catholic as Peter! And there is report that Pope Benedict XVI may release his "motu proprio" on the most advantageous of feasts, the feast of the Chair of Peter! God Bless!
    j hughes dunphy

  3. If measured by force of orthodoxy and the determined exercise of his office, I'd say Pius XI was the greatest pope of the twentieth century, out-stripping even St. Pius X in that sense.

    But canonization? The author of Mortalium Animos will be canonized the day Walter Kasper joins the Catholic Church.

    ...okay, just kidding, just kidding...

  4. I am not sure he can be considered the greatest Pope of the twentieth century even though he was soundly orthodox. I am thinking of two issues:

    1) Condemnation of Action Francaise

    2) Cristeros (Did he not tell them to lay down their arms even though they were actually defeating the Freemasonic forces in Mexico?)

    Nevertheless his encyclicals were magnificent.

  5. Anonymous2:55 PM

    "Let us assume that egalitarian democratism, whereby all men are sovereign and therefore equal, is a deadly virus in human society. How did that virus manage to get inside the Catholic Church in Europe between the wars, especially when Pius X (1903-1914) had been so recently condemning it, as above? Fascinating question. Answer, Pius XI who was Pope for most of those inter-war years, 1922-1939, was no Pius X. Thus in 1925 Pius XI issued an Encyclical magnificent in theory on the social kingship of Christ the King ("Quas Primas"), but then in practice, the very next year, in an action speaking (as usual) louder than his words, he went on to proclaim, surely unwittingly, the social kingship of man..."

    - Bishop Richard Williamson FSSPX

  6. Anonymous5:01 PM

    Well, well, criticism often reflects worse on the critic than on his target...

    The two last commentators could not remain quiet on the condemnation of the Action Française. Yet, let us remember it was NOT a mere condemnation by Pius XI, but a publication of the condemnation issued at the time of Saint Pius X. It was made public because Pope Pius XI considered the recent actions of the Action Française increasingly (and dangerously) neo-Pagan and disrespectful (and dangerous...) towards the Church and her Supreme Pontiff. It was not ideologically motivated (this was the Pope who signed the Lateran Accords and the German Concordat, so his supreme interest was always the best interest of the Church).

    It might be understandable, due to the anachronistic view of some, to criticize him for some of his actions, including his silence, regarding Mexico and Spain, but in these cases he also acted according to what he believed would better protect his universal flock.

    He was right in all such decisions.

    We will moderate further criticism, especially regarding Action Française, of this remarkable Pontiff, a bulwark of faith and authority in an age of horrific change.

  7. Thank you New Catholic for your response. Perhaps I should not have posted anything and in all honesty I did not mean to defame the name of this good Pope in any way. I was simply raising a doubt without yet coming to a conclusion of my own.

  8. Anonymous5:25 PM

    Those words by Bishop Williamson against the Holy Father Pius XI only serve to discredit Williamson himself and the SSPX.

  9. PIus XI was indeed a holy Pope. His encyclicals shine as diamonds of Truth.

    As to Bishop Williamson, let it be remembered that he speaks for himself and not for the SSPX. He might reflect the mind of some within the SSPX (and indeed outside) but his words carry no authority.

  10. A good pope for the liturgy too. It was Pius XI who of course instituted the feast of Christ the King as a double of the first class. He also gave the feast of the Sacred Heart a privileged octave. His actions were fully traditional in adding to the richness of the liturgy.

    The liturgical actions of his successor were in marked contrast: removal of most of the octaves including the newly instituted one for the Sacred Heart being but one example.

  11. I'd like to add something from my own list of Pius XI favorites:

    The reason is that men, created by God to His image and likeness and destined for Him Who is infinite perfection realize today more than ever amid the most exuberant material progress, the insufficiency of earthly goods to produce true happiness either for the individual or for the nations. And hence they feel more keenly in themselves the impulse towards a perfection that is higher, which impulse is implanted in their rational nature by the Creator Himself. This perfection they seek to acquire by means of education. But many of them with, it would seem, too great insistence on the etymological meaning of the word, pretend to draw education out of human nature itself and evolve it by its own unaided powers. Such easily fall into error, because, instead of fixing their gaze on God, first principle and last end of the whole universe, they fall back upon themselves, becoming attached exclusively to passing things of earth; and thus their restlessness will never cease till they direct their attention and their efforts to God, the goal of all perfection, according to the profound saying of Saint Augustine: "Thou didst create us, O Lord, for Thyself, and our heart is restless till it rest in Thee."

    Divini Illius Magistri 6

    This pontiff saw clearly into the advancing religious ignorance which plagued the twentieth century from beginning to end and into our own day. And he say through all the polemics to the core of the whole problem: catechesis.

  12. PS. Bishop Williamson, Pius XI is the furthest thing from a "humanist." On multiple levels, your rebuke is out of line.

  13. Anonymous12:42 PM

    "But not every distribution among human beings of property and wealth is of a character to attain either completely or to a satisfactory degree of perfection the end which God intends. Therefore, the riches that economic-social developments constantly increase ought to be so distributed among individual persons and classes that the common advantage of all, which Leo XIII had praised, will be safeguarded; in other words, that the common good of all society will be kept inviolate. By this law of social justice, one class is forbidden to exclude the other from sharing in the benefits. Hence the class of the wealthy violates this law no less, when, as if free from care on account of its wealth, it thinks it the right order of things for it to get everything and the worker nothing, than does the non-owning working class when, angered deeply at outraged justice and too ready to assert wrongly the one right it is conscious of, it demands for itself everything as if produced by its own hands, and attacks and seeks to abolish, therefore, all property and returns or incomes, of whatever kind they are or whatever the function they perform in human society, that have not been obtained by labour, and for no other reason save that they are of such a nature."


  14. Great quote, Anonymous, but, speaking as a catechist, I'd be careful what we infer from it.

    The Church's social teaching does not constitute a mandate for particular policies - particularly in the area of forced wealth redistribution - and even less is it an approbation for liberal ideologies rooted in secular humanism.

    Given this, great quote: Pius XI was a great pope, wasn't he?


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