When the publisher, a few weeks after the appearance of the first edition of my answer to Dr. Schulte, brought to me the information that a second edition was required, and at the same time inquired of me whether I wished to alter anything, I told him I knew of nothing I wished to alter except a few misprints and particular words.

Since then, however, there has appeared a second enlarged edition of the work of Dr. Schulte, but as no notice was taken in it of my reply, this must be, I suppose, because both works were passing through the press at the same time.  Dr. Schulte has made several additions to his second edition, which for the most part are only directed to confirm or enlarge the ground of the assertions he has made in his first.

There are, however, some new doctrinal statements of Popes, discovered by him and added in this second edition, which for the careful reader of my answer to his first work require no further refutation, since, at least according to the principles laid down b me in my answer, and which are not disputed by either side, they cannot be regarded as ex cathedrâ utterances, and accordingly do not belong to the subject in hand.  I mention, by way of example of such new Papal doctrinal statements, ‘The Pope has the right to determine for persons how they ought to dress’ (p. 64 of Dr. S.’s work); and more strange still, ‘That in religious questions according to the teaching of Pope Leo the Great, the Emperor is infallible’ (p. 111 of his work).  The latter assertion appeared to me certainly a trifle somewhat too scandalous, and to the honour of this great Pope I thought that I ought to go into the proofs of this wonderful assertion.  But in a lucky moment I perceived that Dr. Schulte did not mean his words to be taken in earnest, and that he only wished to show what strange things on the subject of Infallibility might be deduced from the misunderstood or misinterpreted words of ancient writers, when people choose to interpret them in a passionate and irrational way.  This, I say, broke upon me, and so I renounced my intention, and I am satisfied now to regard the statement that in religious questions, according to the doctrine of Pope Leo the Great, the Emperor is infallible, as an historical curiosity, which it would be as superfluous for me to refute, as it would be wearisome to the reader for me to attempt.  One utterance of this holy Pope I will not, however, omit, and it struck me, on a fresh perusal of his letters, as very appropriate here.  He says, ‘Veræ fidei sufficit scire, quis doceat,’—‘For the true faith it is enough to know who is the teacher.’  But then he is not here speaking of the Emperor, but of the Pope and the Bishops.

But if the second edition of the pamphlet of Dr. Schulte has given occasion to no alterations in this third edition of my own work, the remarks of some others have reached me which will afford me the opportunity I desire, both of illustrating and of defending the position I have taken in my pamphlet.  A Vienna reviewer, amidst some cavils which have no great point in them, thus expresses himself: ‘The sum and substance of the matter on which, according to Schulte all depends, is the question “Whether the dogma of Papal Infallibility really reaches to that extent which he assigns to it?”  The principle here involved Fessler does not contest with his opponent; he admit that not only all future but all earlier utterances of Popes, if they have been made ex cathedrâ in the sense already explained, have a claim to the privilege of Infallibility.’

Josef Fessler - 

Secretary to the Vatican Council, 

Author of this Work

This is true, of course; but then what this reviewer designates as the bone of contention between myself and Dr. Schulte, and wherein he says I admit Dr. Schulte’s ‘principle,’ is really no question or bone of contention at all between us.  On this point the supporters as well as the adversaries of Papal Infallibility are agreed, viz. that the definition upon the Infallible teaching office of the Roman Pontiff comprehends all former as well as all future Popes.  

No one whatever in the Vatican Council has been guilty of the theological absurdity of wishing to define that only Pius IX, and his successors were infallible, to the exclusion of all former Popes.  The question at issue is quite of a different kind. It is whether the definition de fide of the Vatican Council upon the Infallible teaching office of the Roman Pontiff extends to all the different expressions which a Pope may ever casually have uttered, either as Briefs or otherwise, and even to acts of the Popes; or whether this de fide definition extends solely to those utterances of Popes in past as well as future times, wherein all the notes, prescribed as belonging to definition on matters of faith, combine, so as to create an infallible Papal de fide definition.  This is the question, and in the solution of this I cannot concede an iota to Dr. Schulte, because I have learnt in the Catholic Church not to explain away (deuteln) a definition of a General Council (as an Augsburg reviewer unjustly says to do), but to hold to it exactly and with all my strength, TO ADD NOTHING TO IT, but at the same time to DETRACT NOTHING FROM IT.  This is the position I assume in this work of mine, this is the gist of the question between me and my opponents.

The same reviewer as he proceeds in his remarks is guilty of making a certain mischievous confusion and perversion of theological ideas, which he hides behind expressions quite foreign to the subject.  He says: ‘The one, Fessler, draws his proofs according to mere theory; the other, Schulte, deals simply and solely with the practical historical point of view;’ and he adds, ‘the only real contest between the two lies in the purely theoretical treatment of Infallibility, and in its practical application.’  To treat the matter in this way is simply to misunderstand the real point at issue, for what the reviewer calls ‘practical application’ really means that straightforward obedience and true submission which a Catholic ought to pay to the directions and definitions of the Pope.

But it was not the Vatican Council that first introduced this idea of obedience and submission.  This obligation has existed time out of mind in the Catholic Church, and follows from the very nature of the Primacy.  That, however, which was defined in the Vatican Council is another matter altogether, and it is this: that the doctrinal decisions of the Pope upon faith and morals, provided with all those notes which were prescribed in the well-weighed definition of the Council, are free from error.  This definition of the Council has indeed its theoretical, as well as its practical side: the theoretical asserts that such doctrinal decisions of the Pope, made through God’s assistance, are free from error; the practical side requires that every Catholic should, with a full conviction of their perfect and certain truth, devoutly accept them with that faith which belongs to truth revealed by God, and deposited in His Holy Church.  I may spare myself the trouble of a longer exposition of this distinction which as its basis in theology, since the learned Bishop of Paderborn, Conrad Martin, has explained it so clearly and systematically in his work, The true Meaning of the Vatican Definition on the Infallible Teaching Office of the Pope (Paderborn, 1871).

An Augsburg reviewer takes objection to my expression: ‘It is by no means an established fact amongst Catholic theologians, that the Syllabus with its eighty propositions belongs to those definitions of doctrine which are to be characterized as infallible;’ and is of opinion that in saying this I show that the notes cannot be relied on, which I have given to make it plain how an utterance of the Pope may be recognized as ex cathedrâ.  I, on the contrary, find that in this case, as in a hundred others, we can fully rely on the notes which have been given, for they are really good and sound notes, but yet, notwithstanding this, the application of these notes to particular cases may have its difficulties.  It is the business of the science of theology to support the different views of which may be taken of this question by such arguments as it has at its command, and probably in this way to bring it to pass that the right view should become the generally received view.

Should this not take place, then the authoritative decision on the matter may at any time follow.  Before the Vatican Council was summoned, a Catholic was bound to pay obedience and submission to the Syllabus; nor has the Vatican Council in any respects altered this conscientious obligation.  The only question which could arise was, whether the Syllabus possesses those notes on the face of it, which, according to the doctrinal definition of the fourth session of the said Council, belong to an utterance of the Pope ex cathedra.

The ‘Syllabus,’ as its title shows, is nothing but a collection of those errors of the age that we live in, which Pope Pius in earlier Rescripts of different dates has declared to be errors, and which accordingly he has condemned.  The condemnation of errors, according to the traditional practice of the Church, is made in various forms: sometimes they are condemned as heretical; sometimes as savouring of heresy; sometimes as schismatic; sometimes simply as erroneous, or false; sometimes as dangerous, or scandalous, or perverse; sometimes as leading to heresy, or to schism, or to disobedience to ecclesiastical superiors.  When a particular doctrine has been condemned by the Pope as heretical in the way designated by the doctrinal definition of the Vatican Council, speaking of the Infallible teaching office of the Pope;--then, indeed, there can be no doubt that we have under these circumstances an utterance of the Pope ex cathedra.  But as in the Syllabus, through the whole catalogue of eighty propositions, designated generally in the title as ‘Errors’ (Syllabus errorum), there is nothing to show, as was pointed out above, under what category of condemned propositions, according to old ecclesiastical usage, a particular error falls, we are compelled to have recourse to the records or sources, in which the particular propositions of the Syllabus have been on previous occasions condemned by Popes, in order to learn whether it is condemned simply as erroneous, or whether it has some other designation, and notably whether it has been condemned as heretical.

The Augsburg reviewer further remarks, that whilst I blame Dr. Schulte for picking out the mere words of the definition, when the quotes the doctrinal definition of the Vatican Council on the subject of the Infallible teaching office of the Pope, and excluding the introduction and the reason for the definition, I complaint of him further on, for printing the whole of the Bull Unam Sanctam.  As it is here laid to me that I am acting inconsistently, I must defend myself from this charge.  What is seemed to me I had a right to require of Dr. Schulte as an author was, that he should treat alike the dogmatic definition of the Vatican Council, and the Papal Constitution Unam Sanctam, by doing as I had done myself, viz. by pointing out that in both cases the definition de fide really commences after the solemn formula definimus; that in both the introduction was very important, not however that it was to be looked upon as the definition itself.  Nor can I ever think it right that Dr. Schulte should leave out and pass sub silentio the introduction to the decree of the Vatican Council, calculated as it is to quiet people’s minds, and, on the other hand, give entire the introduction of the Bull Unam Sanctam, this introduction being of a character to disquiet people; and what is still more unjustifiable, that he should treat this introduction as a doctrinal definition.  And I think I have good reason to express my dissatisfaction at a proceeding, the sole object of which was to increase prejudices which were already at work, and to create a sensation in people’s minds; surely a very unjustifiable proceeding, when the position a man assumes is that of one who is engaged in an impartial scientific investigation.

Another reviewer objects to my statement, that the Bull of Paul IV., Cum ex Apostolatus officio, of Feb. 15, 1559, is not a doctrinal definition, not an utterance of the Pope ex cathedrâ, but merely a disciplinary statute, and he adds that my proof of this is nothing but the title of the Bull; so he concludes: ‘According to this theory it is not the contents of a Rescript, but the whim of the rubrical commentator upon it, that has to decide upon the right of a Papal Bull to be considered as an ex cathedrâ utterance, and thus to determine the gravest questions of conscience!  Miserable subterfuge!’

Here I must be allowed, in a few words, to throw some light upon this passage of my critic, in order to show up his dishonest way of conducting a controversy.  He says that I bring forward nothing but the title of the Bull in the Bullarium, ‘so that it is not the contents of the Bull but the whim of the rubrical commentator which has to decide upon the properties of a Papal Bull;’ and he permits himself to bewail my ‘miserable subterfuge.’  What I really said was, p. 73, ‘This title which gives a true account of its contents, is of itself enough,’ &c.  No one surely could direct attention to the contents of the Bull in question more plainly and definitely that I did in these words; but at the same time, to make it quite clear to my readers that the Bull really is a papal enactment, the following words out of the contents of the Bull itself will not be out of place here.  Sec. 2 of the Bull says: ‘Habita cum S.R.E. Cardinalibus deliberatione matura, de eorum consilio et unanimi assensu omnes et singulas escommunicationis, suspensionis, et interdicti, ac privationis, et quasvis alias sententias, censuras et pœnas a quibusvis Romanis Pontificibus prædecessoribus nostris, aut pro talibus habitis, etiam per eorum literas extravagantes, seu sacris Conciliis ab Ecclesia Dei receptis, vel Sanctorum Patrum decretis et statutis, aut sacris Canonibus ac Constitutionibus et Ordinationibus Apostolicis contra hæreticos aut schismaticos quomodolibet latas, et promulgatas Apostolicâ auctoritate approbamus et innovamus,’ &c.[4]

The words of the contents of the Bull in question which I have here printed from also the title of this Bull, as I quoted in p. 73 of my pamphlet; this any one may easily convince himself of by comparing the words in both places.  And yet it is in this very case that my opponent ventures openly to assert that I have made use of a ‘miserable subterfuge’ in drawing my proofs not from the contents of the Bull, but from the title alone; the fact being that I did expressly refer to the contents, and only for the sake of brevity quoted the words of the title, which were identical with the contents, instead of the contents of the Bull, which I have just given to my readers.  These are the sort of opponents with whom one has to deal.  When this same opponent of the Vatican definition further says, ‘Bishop Fessler himself does not venture to deny that the Bull concerns doctrine de moribus,’ I answer, ‘The contents of this Bull concern morals certainly, if you reckon all penal enactments as doctrine de moribus.’  Whether my opponent does so or not, I do not know.  But this I do know, that mere penal enactments do not belong to the infallible doctrinal definitions de fide et moribus, of which the definition of the Vatican Council on the Infallible office of the Pope treats, and that this Bull of Paul IV. is a penal enactment and not a doctrinal definition.  If he will take the trouble to read through the old Roman and later imperial penal enactments against heretics, he will find whence the specially designated penalties are derived to which he takes objection in this Bull of Paul IV.

When the Augsburg reviewer says in conclusion: ‘It is impossible to discover from what, according to Dr. Fessler, a person is to draw the perfect removal of his apprehensions; no proof, no logical reason is presented to us that anything which a Pope solemnly enunciates, which he has had signed by the Cardinals and sent to all Bishops, may not have the weight of a definition in the sense of the Vatican Council,’—I thereupon point to the simple, literal, dogmatic, and logical explanation of the meaning of the definition of the Council in pages 41 to 47 of my pamphlet as the ‘proof and logical reason’ for my statement.  Indeed, I know no proof which could be more complete, and no reason which could better meet all the requirements of sound logic.  And up to this time this exposition of the subject has been contested by neither side.

Another reviewer thinks he has discovered the following contradictions, as he calls it, in my pamphlet, because in p. 58 I assert that the well-known Brief Multiplices inter of Pius IX., one of the most important sources of the Syllabus, in which certain doctrines amongst others are condemned as heretical, is not a dogmatic definition; and yet on p. 70 I admit that it is a sure sign in theology of a dogmatic definition, if a doctrine is condemned by the Pope as heretical.  Here I do not know that I can do better than publicly request the learned discoverer of this contradiction to be so good as to name to me one single doctrine which is declared expressly by the Pope in the Brief Multiplices inter to be heretical.   If he does this, I will readily admit him to be right, but not otherwise.

Finally, to those of my readers who are anxious about the fidelity of quotations from the Holy Scriptures, I must acknowledge my obligation to give them a trifling explanation.  The question concerns the words of Christ to St. Peter: ‘I have prayed for thee that thy faith fail not; and do thou in turn one day strengthen thy brethren’ (p. 36); upon which translation the Augsburg reviewer remarks: ‘The author quotes, we know not why, the passage incorrectly, for it runs, “Do thou, when thou has converted thyself, strengthen,” &c.’  I will tell him why I quoted this passage as I did.  I did so because, following Dr. Schulte, I made use of Dr. Molitor’s translation of the ‘Dogmatic Constitution upon the Church of Christ’ without alteration, as the attentive reader will have already observed from my pamphlet itself, where I expressly said so, and because this translation of Dr. Molitor gives this passage as it appears in my work, p. 36.  The reviewer may see the reasons why this passage is so translated by consulting those commentators on Scripture who have paid particular attention to the Hebrew modes of speech.




When a man, who for a course of years has passed for a true son of the Catholic Church and a zealous defender of her rights, suddenly turns against the Pope and Bishops with the sharpest weapons he can command, no one can deny that this is a painful sight for every one who loves his Church.  Enemies of the Church will, indeed, rejoice, and eagerly greet his accession to their own ranks.  Such a man is Dr. Schulte, Professor of Canon and German Law at the University of Prague, who has just published a pamphlet with this high-sounding title, ‘The Power of the Roman Pontiffs over Sovereigns, Countries, Peoples, Individuals, according to their Doctrines and Acts, held up to the Light, in order to afford persons the means of making a true estimate of their claim to Infallibility.’  Misleading indeed is the light this pamphlet holds up for our guidance, the subject being really presented to our view in a light wholly false and extremely repulsive.  Surely love of true imperatively requires that so grave a subject should at any rate be represented in its just and fair light; and this is the object the author of the following pages has set before himself, viz. to present the subject to his readers, without passion and without partiality, with that knowledge which many years’ study, and an exact acquaintance with facts and circumstances, enable him to do.

The subject, as treated by Dr. Schulte, is divided into the following heads:

            I. Exposition of the subject as introduction.’

            II. ‘The contents of the definition of the Vatican Council, “On the Infallible teaching Office of the Roman Pontiff.

            III. Part 1.—‘Doctrinal propositions of Popes simply ex cathedrâ, and their acts in relation to states, countries, peoples, and individuals.’

            IV. Part 2.—Relations of Popes to the state-law.  Treatment of heretics.[5]

            V. ‘Pleas devised to quiet the conscience, and their confutation.’

            VI. ‘Considerations on the law of the state.’[6]


[4] Bullar. Rom. Edit. Coquelines, Romæ, apud Mainardi, 1745, t.iv. p. I p. 355.

[5] This division, being made for the convenience of English readers, is given in the words of the Translator.

[6] It must be borne in mind that the headings of the chapters are all taken from Dr. Schulte’s pamphlet; if not in his own words, at least in their substance.  TRANSLATOR.