7. This portion of Dr. Schulte’s pamphlet contains a German translation[11] of the words of the definition of the Vatican Council now under consideration; it enumerates the particular propositions therein contained, and draws from them their logical and juridical consequences.

I cannot refrain here from expressing my sense of the extraordinary unfairness of the writer in quoting the definition without the reasons which the Council itself gives in express words for making the definition.  This context is absolutely necessary in order that we may rightly understand so important a matter.  In order to supply this deficiency, I will present to my readers, in the vernacular, the entire section or chapter ‘On the Infallible Teaching Office of the Roman Pontiff,’ as given by the Council.  The whole section, or fourth chapter, of the first dogmatic definition on the Church of Christ runs as follows:

‘Caput Quartum.


‘That in the apostolical primacy which the Roman Pontiff, as successor of the prince of the Apostle Peter, has over the whole Church is comprehended also the supreme teaching authority, this holy See has always firmly held, and this the constant practice of the Church confirms, and this the Ecumenical Councils have themselves declared, and above all, that Council in which the East met the West for the union of faith and charity.  For the Fathers of the Fourth Council of Constantinople, treading in the footsteps of their forefathers, made the following solemn confession: “The first condition of salvation is to keep the rule of sound faith.  And as the declaration uttered by our Lord Jesus Christ can never fail,[12] when He says, ‘Thou art Peter, and upon this Rock I will build My Church,’ so have the words there said actually come to pass, forasmuch as in the apostolical chair the Catholic faith has celebrated.  Desiring to be in no wise separated from its faith and doctrine, we hope to be made worthy to be in that one communion which the Apostolic See declares, wherein resides the perfect and true wholeness pf the Christian religion.”[13] With the acquiescence of the Second Council of Lyons the Greeks made this confession: “That the holy Roman Church possesses the highest and the full primacy and principality over the whole Catholic Church, which it truly and humbly acknowledges it has received from our Lord Himself in the person of St. Peter, the prince and chief of the Apostles, together with the fullness of power; and as this Church is before all other Churches bound to defend the truth of the faith, so ought all questions of faith which may at any time arise to be decided according to her judgment.”  The Council of Florence finally defined: “That the Roman Pontiff, the true Vicar of Christ, is the head of the whole Church and the Father and Doctor of all Christians, and that to him, in St. Peter, was committed by our Lord Jesus Christ the full power to feed the universal Church, to rule, and to guide it.”

‘In order to fulfill this pastoral office, our Predecessors have, time after time, directed their unwearied labours that the wholesome doctrine of Christ might be spread abroad among all people of the earth, and with like care have they watched that, wherever the true doctrine has been received, there it should be preserved pure and undefiled.  Therefore have the Bishops of the whole world, sometimes individually, and sometimes assembled in solemn synods, acting according to the long-received custom of the Church, and according to the pattern of the ancient rule, brought before this apostolic chair those difficulties which were ever arising in matters of faith, in order that the rents in faith might there be mended, where alone the faith could never fail.[14]  The Roman Pontiffs, however, have, as times and circumstances warranted,—sometimes by summoning Ecumenical Councils or by asking the opinion of the Church throughout the world, sometimes by particular synods, sometimes by the use of other means which Divine Providence put in their way,—defined that those things should be held firm which they had thus learnt, under God’s assistance, to be in accordance with Holy Scripture and apostolic traditions.  For the Holy Spirit was not promised to the successors of St. Peter, that by His revelation they might make known a new doctrine, but that by His assistance they might holily preserve and faithfully expound the revelation delivered to the Apostles, or, in other words, the “deposit of the faith” (depositum fidei).  This is that apostolical doctrine which all the venerable Fathers of the Church have embraced, and all the orthodox holy Doctors have venerated and followed; for they had the most perfect conviction that this holy See of Peter always remains free from al error, according to the divine promise of our Lord and Saviour, which He made to the prince of His disciples: “I have prayed for thee, that thy faith fail not’ and thou, in thy turn one day,[15] strengthen thy brethren.”

‘This gracious gift of the truth and of indefectible faith has been accordingly given by God to Peter and his successors in this See, that they might discharge their high office to the salvation of all; that so the universal flock of Christ, turned from the poisonous allurements of error, might be nourished by the pasture of heavenly doctrine; so that, all occasion of schism having been removed, the whole Church might be preserved in unity, and, resting on its own sold basis, might stand fast against the gates of hell.

‘But, as at this present time, when the wholesome efficacy of the apostolic office is most pressingly needed, there are found not a few who derogate from its dignity, We esteem it quite necessary solemnly to assert the prerogative which the Only-begotten Son of God has graciously declared to be bound up with the highest pastoral authority.[16]

‘Whilst, then, We remain firm to the tradition of the Christian faith, which has come down to us from the beginning, We teach, in accordance with this holy Council, to the glory of God our Saviour, to the exaltation of the Catholic religion, and for the benefit of all Christian people, and declare it to be a doctrine revealed by God, that the Roman Pontiff, when he speaks from his chair of teaching (ex cathedra)—that is to say, when he, in the exercise of his office as pastor and doctor of all Christians, by virtue of his supreme apostolic power, defines universal Church, by virtue of the divine assistance promise to him in St. Peter—possesses that Infallibility with which the Divine Redeemer willed His Church to be furnished in the definition of a doctrine respecting faith or morals; and that therefore such definitions of the Roman Pontiff are of themselves, and not merely when they have received the consent of the Church, unalterable.  Should, then, any one—which God forbid!—venture to contest this definition of Ours, let him be Anathema.’

8.  It can hardly escape the observation of any one who peruses this fourth chapter of the Council thoroughly and carefully, that the reasons given for the definition and the historical account of the doctrine are immense importance for a right understanding of the matter.  It was, then, very unfair of Dr. Schulte, to say the least, to extract from the chapter on Infallibility the bare words of the definition, and by so doing to leave the readers of his pamphlet in entire ignorance of all that important matter which, with the best intentions, the Council itself had given as the reasons for the definition, and, in order to forestall misunderstandings, had placed in close connection with the definition itself.

I have, therefore, thought it especially necessary to give my readers the words at full length which the Vatican Council made use of in declaring its mind on the infallible teaching office of the Roman Pontiff; and I beg my readers to pay particular attention to this context of the definition as regards the present controversy.

The very title of the chapters is remarkable.  It runs (in order to designate precisely the subject which is under consideration), ‘On the Infallible Teaching Office of the Roman Pontiff.’  This expression, ‘on the Infallible teaching office,’ was chosen purposely, instead of the title ‘On the Infallibility,’ in order to forestall the erroneous deductions which might be drawn from the general term ‘Infallibility’ by those who were disposed to dispute the doctrine on this very ground—viz. because it was so general.  Such persons would be sure to misrepresent the doctrine to others, and mislead them in their inquiries.  Accordingly, the Council carefully and exactly declared, by the very title, in what respect the term ‘infallible’ is used of the Roman Pontiff.

The contents of the chapter ‘On the Infallible teaching of the office of the Roman Pontiff’ may be concisely viewed and readily stated in its principal features as follows:

It is the ancient consistent doctrine of the Church, says the Pope, that to the Roman Pontiff is given by God the supreme power in the Church, in order always to preserve its unity.  But in this supreme power is contained the supreme teaching power, as the Church has always acknowledged in General Councils of ancient times, and especially in the Fourth Council of Constantinople (A.D. 869), in the Second Council of Lyons (A.D. 1274), and in the Council of Florence (A.D. 1439).  He also shows how the Popes acted when difficult questions relating to faith were, according to ancient custom and prescription laid before the Apostolical See for decision by the Bishops, viz. either, by assembling the Bishops in Ecumenical Council; or by inquiring into and obtaining the knowledge in some other way of what the general feeling of the universal Church was upon such and such a point; or by summoning particular synods; and, lastly, by using all such means as Divine Providence put in their power.  And with this assistance the Popes decided that doctrine to be revealed by God, and accordingly to be held by all as de fide, which they, with God’s assistance, recognized as conformable to Holy Scripture and the apostolical traditions; always themselves holily preserving and truly interpreting, by the same divine assistance, the depositum fidei preserved in the Church.  This apostolical teaching of the Popes, he says, the venerable Fathers and all orthodox teachers in the Church have, from of old up to the present time, accepted with a full and perfect conviction that the See of blessed Peter, by virtue of the Divine Providence of our Lord and Saviour, has been constantly kept from all error; for so Jesus Christ spoke to Peter: I have prayed for thee, that thy faith fail not; and do thou, in thy turn one day, strengthen thy brethren’ (Luc. Cap. xxii, v. 32).  The reason is also added why God gave this great grace to St. Peter and his successors in the office of supreme teacher—viz. that they might exercise this office for the spiritual benefit of all the faithful, that thereby the Church, trusted by God to their supreme pastoral care, might through those who exercise this office of supreme teacher be maintained without fear of error in the divine truth, and thus the whole Church be preserved in unity.  Therefore, in accordance with that tradition which has ever existed in the Church from the beginning of the Christian religion, and which has always been maintained inviolate, it is declared by the Vatican Council, to the glory of God and for the salvation of Christian people, to be a constituent part of that Catholic faith revealed by God, ‘that the Roman Pontiff, when he speaks from his chair of teaching, (or ex cathedrâ)—that is to say, when he, in the exercise of his office as pastor and doctor of all Christians, by virtue of his supreme apostolic authority, defines a doctrine which concerns faith or morals to be held de fide by the whole Church—does, by reasons of the divine assistance promised to him in the person of St. Peter, possess that Infallibility with which the Divine Redeemer willed His Church to be provided in the decision of matters respecting faith or morals; and that accordingly all such definitions of the Roman Pontiff are of themselves, and not then only when they have received the consent of the Church, unalterable.’

Having thus supplied, in the little review we have made, the gap left by Dr. Schulte, by giving the important introduction to the definition of the Vatican Council on the Infallible teaching office of the Roman Pontiff, and shown also the principal motives by which this Council was actuated, we are confident that it will be clear to all unprejudiced persons that ‘the decisive passage’ (as Dr. Schulte calls it, and which alone he quotes in his pamphlet, from the end of the chapter) will produce a very different impression, if considered in connection with the reasons which the Council itself assigns for the definition, and in connection also with the historical explanation, from that which it would produce, if viewed wrenched out of its context, and isolated.  They will now be able to see how this supreme and infallible office has hitherto been exercised by the Popes, and from this they will judge how it will be exercised in future.  And I must say it is a most disingenuous commencement of Dr. Schulte in his pamphlet, that he has torn off from the words of the Definition the Council’s reasons for it, and its historical explanation in this chapter of the Vatican Council ‘On the Infallible teaching office of the Roman Pontiff.’

9.  I admit, however, the ‘decisive passage’ itself does require some remarks to enable persons thereby thoroughly to understand it; for it is with this passage that Dr. Schulte commences that erroneous exposition of the Vatican definition, which I have undertaken to examine and refute; it becomes then my duty to open out and disclose the sources of his erroneous view and his misrepresentations; and this I can best do by explaining at once what is the right sense of the definition, and so letting every one see when and where the author of the pamphlet under examination has deviated from the path of truth.

The definition asserts that the Roman Pontiff, by virtue of the divine assistance, possesses the Infallibility promised to the Church in his doctrinal teaching only when he speaks ex cathedrâ—or, Anglice, ‘to speak from the chair of teaching’—is not generally intelligible, as it is a technical expression drawn from theological science, the Council itself added a short explanation of it.  It says it means, ‘When he (i.e. the Pope, in the exercise of his teaching office as pastor and instructor (doctor) of all the faithful, by virtue of his highest apostolical power, defines, as to be held by the whole Church, doctrine that regards faith or morals.’[17]

(1)  By this expression, then, ex cathedrâ, the gift of God’s divine grace conveying Infallibility in faith and morals to the Roman Pontiff, the visible head of the Catholic Church, and who in the person of St. Peter has received from our Lord Jesus Christ the full power to feed the universal Church, to direct and to guide it, is closely restricted to the exercise of his office as Pastor and Doctor of all Christians.

The Pope, as visible head of the whole Church, is:

I.  The Supreme Teacher of truth revealed by God. 

II.  The Supreme Priest.

III.  The Supreme Legislator in ecclesiastical matters.

IV.  The Supreme Judge in ecclesiastical causes.

He has, however, the gift of Infallibility, according to the manifest sense of the words of the definition, only as supreme teacher of truths necessary for salvation revealed by God, not as supreme priest, not as supreme legislator in matters of discipline, not as supreme judge in ecclesiastical questions, not in respect of any other questions, over which his highest governing power in the Church may otherwise extend.[18]  And when I here decline to place in the range of subjects for the exercise of Infallibility ecclesiastical matters, I mean to exclude all those matters which commonly form the subject of ecclesiastical processes, as, for instance, marriage questions, benefice questions, patronage questions, church-building questions, &c.; questions of faith of course the Pope decides as Supreme Teacher.

(2)  As doctrinal definitions comprehend doctrines respecting the faith as well as doctrines respecting morals, it will often happen in the nature of things that definitions on the latter of these two subjects, viz. morals, will be issued to the universal Church in the form of a command or prohibition from the Pope (Precepta morum).

(3)  Here, in order that we may better understand the subject, it will be well to compare what we are now saying with what is said in the third chapter of the Vatican definition de fide, where it is expressly taught that the Pope possesses the highest power of jurisdiction over the whole Church, ‘not only in matters of faith and morals, but also in matters of the discipline and government of the Church extended over the whole orbis terrarium.’  ‘Non solum in rebus, quć ad fidem et mores, sed etiam in ils, quć ad disciplinam et regimen Ecclesić per totum orbem diffusć petinent.’  Thus there are here distinguished four classes of matters as belonging to the province of things ecclesiastical, which fall under the supreme power of the Pope:

I.  Matters of faith.

II.  Matters of morals.

III.  Matters of discipline.

IV.  Matters of government.

  In all these matters the faithful owe a true obedience to the Pope.

(4)  Then in the fourth chapter, entitled ‘On the Infallible Teaching Office of the Roman Pope,’ the Council treats exclusively of the teaching power of the Pope—matters, that is, of the first and second class, faith and morals, not matters of the third and fourth class, i.e. discipline and government.  Accordingly, it is only as regards definitions of the Pope upon faith and morals, that the Council defines, as a proposition revealed by God, that they possess infallible certainly by virtue of the unerring divine assistance promised to the Pope in St. Peter, i.e. as the successor of St. Peter.  Cardinal Bellarmine had already made this distinction, speaking of the doctrine on morals as follows (De Rom. Pontif. lib. iv. cap. v.): ‘Non potest errare summus Pontifex in prćceptis morum, quć toti ecclesić prćscribuntur, et quć in rebus necessariis ad salutem, vel in iis quć per se bona et mala sunt, versantur.’  What he then says further in this place refers to discipline: ‘Non est erroneum dicere Pontificem in aliis legibus posse errare, nimirum superfluam legem condendo vel minus discretam, &c.  Ut autem jubeat (sc. Pontifex) aliquid quod non est bonum neque malum ex se, neque contra salutem, sed tame nest inutile, vel sub pśnâ nimis gravi illud prćcipiat, non est absurdum dicere posse fieri,’ &c.  and other theologians follow Bellarmine on this point.

(5)  This Infallibility of the Pope in the exercise of his office as Pastor and Doctor of all Christians is, however, still more closely defined as ‘that Infallibility with which the Divine Redeemer willed that His Church should be provided in the definition of a doctrine relating to faith or morals.’  Before, then, we proceed to answer the question, how far the Papal Infallibility extends over matters which concern faith or morals, the question arises how far the Infallibility of the Church extends over such matters?  Without entering into the investigation of this very wide question on which much precise information is afforded in all our great theological works, I content myself with selecting the following proposition, universally acknowledged in theology—viz. ‘That even in dogmatic Decrees, Bulls, &c. &c., not all which there in occurs in any one place, not that which occurs or is mentioned incidentally, not a preface, nor what is laid down as the basis of the decree, is to be looked upon as itself a dogmatic definition,[19] and so as matter of Infallibility.[20]

(6)  Lastly, the Council adds that the definitions of the Pope, in which, by virtue of his office as Pastor and Doctor, he lays down a certain doctrine on faith or morals as firmly to be held de fide by all Christians, are per se irreversible, i.e. of their own nature, and not only irreversible when they receive the subsequent asset of the Church.  It is not meant by this that the Pope ever decides anything contrary to the tradition of the Church, or that he would stand alone in opposition to all the other Bishops, but only that the Infallibility of his definition is not dependent on the acceptance of the Church, and rests on the special divine assistance promised and vouchsafed to him in the person of St. Peter for the exercise of his supreme teaching office.[21]  Since, then, it is here expressly said that those definitions on which the Infallibility of the Pope exercises itself are per se unalterable, it follows, as matter of course, that all those laws which are issued from time to time by the Pope in matters of discipline, and which are alterable, are, by the very reason that they are alterable, not included in the de fide definition of the Vatican Council.

10.  Having now by these remarks on the de fide definitions of the Vatican Council cleared our view of their meaning and import, we find ourselves in a condition to face the conclusions Dr. Schulte draws from them.

The first set of these conclusions may be unhesitatingly admitted—viz. that it is the duty of every Catholic to believe the dogma published on the 18th of July, 1870; that the aim of this solemn proclamation of the doctrine is not merely theoretical but practical—viz. that the Roman Pontiff by these ex cathedrâ definitions may make known infallibly those right and true principles of living by which a man must frame his life if he wishes to be happy in the next world; that by this definition not the present Pope alone is declared infallible, but also that each one of his predecessors has been infallible, under those conditions which have been already stated; that such an infallible definition is not conditional on the use of some one or other definite formula; that such a definition is per se unalterable, and that its reception by the Church adds nothing to its binding power.

11.  Then follows a very important conclusion, commencing with a true proposition, but making, as it is manipulated by Dr. Schulte, a very serious divergence from the truth.  Dr. Schulte says: ‘it is inconceivable that a proposition should be solemnly published as revealed by God, without its also of necessity influencing the faith and life of a Christian.’  Again: ‘Every man must be able to satisfy himself by objective proofs whether or no such a proposition is really proposed to him.’  Again: ‘There must be certain objective practical marks whereby every rational being ban recognize an utterance ex cathedrâ.  Again: ‘Those objective proofs must have been always the same, and uninterruptedly.’  Again: ‘There is an utterance ex cathedrâ when the Roman Pontiff utters definitions upon faith and morals which he requires to be looked upon as the teaching of the Church.’  This is ascertained, he says, ‘sometimes directly from the very words used, sometimes it is gathered from attendant circumstances, sometimes it is evident from the very words used, sometimes it is evident the very decision itself, i.e. from its subject matter.’  In order, then, to marshal forth these objective practical marks, as he calls them, by which a Papal ex cathedrâ utterance may be recognized by any one, he directs his readers’ attention to the objectum, i.e. subject matter of the infallible teaching office, that is, faith and morals.  He then, in the same terms as we do, admits what belongs to faith; but as regards the other subject, morals, he culls from some book of Moral Theology the titles of all the treatises in order to show in detail what belongs to the moral duty of a Christian.  Having done this, he proceeds to draw this conclusion: “Morals comprehend the whole range of the duties in the life of each individual Christian as such.’

This then, being the conclusion drawn by Dr. Schulte, requires of us an exact and careful examination, since in it truth and falsehood are mixed up together in a most dangerous manner, and that which is false serves the writer as a foundation for further misleading developments of his subject.

It is true to say that every truth revealed by God has an influence upon the faith and life of a Christian, and must therefore be capable of being recognized by him in a sure and safe way; and it is true also to say that this character must belong to definitions of the Pope ex cathedrâ whenever the Roman Pontiff utters definitions on faith or morals, and requires that they should be regarded as the teaching of the Church; and secondly, this is made known sometimes directly by the words used, sometimes by attendant circumstances, and sometimes by the very definition itself—then of these two statements of his, the first is true, and the second is false, and the source of many errors.

For it is in this second proposition that Dr. Schulte has set those objective practical marks, as he calls them, whereby a Papal definition has to be recognised as an ex cathedrâ utterance.  He gives three such objective marks, of which sometimes the first, sometimes the second, sometimes the third, will tell us the will of the Pope as to what we should regard as the teaching of the Church; that is, it is sometimes the words used by the Pope, sometimes the circumstances, sometimes the very definition itself; that is, the subject matter or objectum of the definition, his meaning being, when the definition refers to faith or morals in the widest sense of the word.

Here, then, it is, in these so-called objective marks, whereby Papal ex cathedrâ uterrances are supposed to be recognizable, that the dangerous error commences, error which our opponent proceeds to develop further throughout the whole course of his pamphlet.

It will hardly surprise any one who has perused Dr. Schulte’s explanatory Preface to his work to be told that Dr. Schulte’s very starting point is unsound and misleading.  He assumes, he says, that each individual Catholic Christian must be able, without the intervention of bishop or priest—i.e. without having recourse to any teaching authority in the Church—to recognize at once what is an ex cathedrâ utterance of the Pope; and this ‘because each one has to work out of his own salvation.’

Were Dr. Schulte to say that his meaning in these words is (even if he has not said so expressly) that every Catholic can by the assistance of the Church’s teaching office (i.e. through her bishops and priests) learn what is Papal utterance ex cathedrâ, and therefore infallible, even in the face of conflicting difficulties, then indeed he would explain and rectify his position; but were he to admit this, then indeed he would certainly arrive at a different result from that at which he has actually arrived.

For the bishops and the priests are quite aware that when there is authentic explanation of a Papal ex cathedrâ utterance, the Theological Faculty, which has been for centuries engaged upon this question, has to be heard upon the marks of a real utterance; and that in reality the short de fide definition in the Vatican Council in its few words does but contain what the science of Theology has been this long time investigating at great length, with the full knowledge and admission of the difficult questions arising out of the history of ancient times.  But we shall look in vain, as Dr. Schulte from his own experience admits, if we wish to find from History or Theology that such Papal utterances are to be recognized, sometimes from the words used, sometimes from the circumstances, and sometimes from the definition itself, as though each one of these marks was of itself sufficient to establish the fact.

On our part, we find that it is the view of Catholic theologians that there are two marks of an ex cathedrâ utterance, and, moreover, that these two marks must both be found together—viz. that (1) the objectum or subject matter of the decision must be doctrine of faith or morals; and (2) the Pope must express his intention, by virtue of his supreme teaching power, to declare this particular doctrine on faith and morals to be a component part of the truth necessary to salvation revealed by God, and as such to be held by the whole Catholic Church, he must publish it, and so give a formal definition in the matter (definire).  These two marks must be found together.  Any mere circumstance do not suffice to enable a person to recognize what a Pope says as an utterance ex cathedrâ, or, in other words, as a de fide definition.   It is only when the two other marks just mentioned are acknowledged to be present that the circumstances of the case serve to support and strengthen the proof of the Pope’s intention; and this intention will be made known by his own words. (Fessler's definition of the criteria, just given, for an ex cathedra statement are crucial to understanding what is about to transpire. He is going to refute Schulte's claims that a number of papal bulls etc are infallible because they do not contain these essential marks of ex cathedra infallibility - +TF)

Should, however, these marks not give us a certainty absolutely free from all doubt as to whether, in a certain case, there is a Papal utterance ex cathedrâ, then will the subordinate teaching authority of the Church have recourse to the highest Authority himself, to ask him what his intention was in such an utterance,[22] or to ask whether a former Papal utterance on such and such a matter is to be looked upo as ex cathedrâ.

Here it must be evident to every one that from this point Dr. Schulte’s way of viewing his subject and my own must part company in their further development, viz. as to what is and is not an infallible doctrine uttered by the Pope.

He lays down three notes, of which three any one alone is enough to make known a Papal utterance as infallible, and therefore unalterable, as being ex cathedrâ.

I, on the contrary, having regard to the words and the import of the definition of the Vatican Council, and also bearing in mind previous scientific expositions of theologians on the subject, lay down two such notes, both of which, however, must always be found together; whilst to the third note I attribute only an auxiliary significance.

As was to be expected, Dr. Schulte, in consequence, naturally finds a great number of Papal ex cathedrâ utterances.  I, in accordance with the Theological Faculty, find only a few.

12.  Having made his own exposition of notes of a definition, Dr. Schulte proceeds to assert ‘that only the Pope himself can define the subject matter, the comprehensiveness, and the limits of an utterance ex cathedrâ.’  This assertion is so far true, that it is certain that no human authority can prescribe anything to the Pope in this matter.  If, however, it is meant that the Pope, according to his will and fancy, can at all events extend his infallible definition even to matters relating to the Jus publicum, to which the divine revelation does not extend, then he has laid the case before us quite erroneously.  The Pope, in his doctrinal utterances, only speaks what he finds, under the special divine assistance, to be already part of the truth revealed by God necessary for salvation, which He has given in trust to the Catholic Church (i.e. in the divine depositum fidei).  The same assistance of God which securely preserves the Pope from error preserves him with equal security from declaring that to be revealed by God, and intrusted to the keeping of the Catholic Church as a matter of truth or morals, which God has not revealed and has not deposited in His Church.[23]

Supposing then, as Dr. Schulte says, ‘the infallible teaching office of the Church can even extend to all subjects and departments of man’s life which have any bearing upon his moral conduct,’ yet assuredly no infallible doctrine will ever be pronounced which is not part of the truth revealed by God.  Were the contrary of this possible, then would God have forsaken His Church, which is impossible, since we have His promise that He will never forsake her unto the end of the world; and to this promise we both are  and must continue faithful if we desire to be Catholics and remain so.

Hereupon Dr. Schulte proceeds to represent in the following manner what the doctrine of the Church is in respect of the relations of the spiritual to the temporal power, which the Catholic Christian must believe and follow out, if the infallible teaching office of the Pope is a matter of faith.[24]  Well, he may do so.  But it must be our business to insist upon this—viz. that in his representation he shall only represent that to be matter of faith which is really and truly a definition of the Pope on faith and morals.  If he does not do this—if he represents Papal rescripts which belong to the province of reversible legislation, or are mere acts of government, as definitions of Popes upon faith and morals, or if from the records of real dogmatic definitions of Popes he extracts mere incidental remarks, obiter dicta, and alleges these to be ex cathedrâ—then assuredly he is leading his readers into error; he is disturbing their consciences without reason; he is arousing the suspicions of governments unnecessarily, and setting them against that Catholic doctrine which has been declared by the Vatican Council; and he is consciously or unconsciously (God only knows which) creating great prejudice against the Catholic Church.

Dr. Schulte is unfortunate with this proofs from the very commencement.  For instance, in order to prove that ‘what the Popes have declared to be a doctrine of the Church is true, and to be believed by all Catholics, and followed by them in practice,’[25] he, without further introduction, brings the following proof.  ‘For,’ says he, ‘Pope Leo X. asserts I his Bull Exurge Domine of June 15, 1520, which excommunicates Luther and rejects his teaching, §. 6, “Had Luther done this” (viz. come to Rome), “we should have proved to him, as clear as the light of day, that the holy Roman Popes our predecessors have never erred in their canons or constitutions.”’  And this is an ex cathedrâ utterance! Dr. Schulte really mans it, for he adds in a note, ‘Can any one venture to say that the words we have just quoted are not an ex cathedrâ utterance?’  Had he quoted the passage in full from which he clips this morsel, and presented it to his readers, any candid reader would have been able to judge whether such a cursory remark could, by any possibility, be erected into a dogma of faith, i.e. a real ex cathedrâ Papal utterance.  So I will bring forward the whole passage, that the reader may judge for himself.  It runs as the context shows, ‘had Luther come to Rome’), ‘then would he assuredly, as we think, have entered into himself and acknowledged his errors; nor would he have found so many faults in the Roman Curia, which he so violently attacks, giving an undue weight to the empty words of mischievous persons; and we should have shown him clearer than the light of day that he holy Roman Popes our predecessors, whom he traduces in such unmeasured terms, have never erred in those canons and constitutions of theirs, which he studiously assails.’[26]

Are we bound to look upon the particular parts of this passage as Papal utterances ex cathedrâ, even when the Pope says himself ‘as we thin’ (ut arbitramur)?  Or how can Dr. Schulte possibly claim for himself the right out of three principal propositions, apart from dependent propositions, to dock off the first and second propositions as dogmatic,[27] and to bring forward the third clause, and that not entire, and allege this to be an infallible utterance?  If Dr. Schulte assigns as his reason for taking out of the context this third proposition, and bringing it forward as an infallible utterance, because the Pope here says that if Luther had come to Rome, he, the Pope, would have taught him that the Popes have never erred in their canons or constitutions, and that he selects this passage as an instance of his infallible teaching, because the Pope speaks expressly of teaching Luther, then I answer, not everything which the Popes might have taught, but what they actually have taught as doctrine on faith and morals, and defined,[28] by virtue of their highest apostolical power, as true, and to be held as such by the universal Church, that alone is an infallible utterance ex cathedrâ.  Perhaps Dr. Schulte may here say, ‘You may see plainly enough from the words of Pope Leo X. what his thoughts were, and how he hoped to teach Luther if he actually had gone to Rome.’  To this I answer, ‘It is quite beside the moot question what a Pope’s thoughts were; nor does it at all belong to a Papal utterance ex cathedrâ to consider what a Pope thinks, or even what a Pope thinks it well to give as a piece of private advice or information to any one in this or that manner.’

After this first most unfortunate proof which Dr. Schulte has brought forward, he tries a second, which is not a bit better.  Accordingly he says: ‘Just so has it been declared in express words by Pius IX. On the occasion of the condemnation of a book: “Finally, not to mention other errors, he rises to such a pitch of audacity and impiety[29] as with indescribable perversion to assert “that the Roman Pontiffs and Ecumenical Councils have overstepped the limits of their power, assumed for themselves the rights of princes, and have even erred in matters of faith and morals.’”[30]  Here I should like to ask, in sober earnest, whether any one ever before Dr. Schulte took it into his head to assert that dogmatic infallible definitions (utterances ex cathedrâ) were sent forth by Popes as mere accessory matter on the occasion of the condemnation of a book?  There is nothing whatever in all the fundamental principles of the theological science which can be brought forward to prove this, and therefore it is a purely gratuitous assertion that a Papal document by which a bad book is rejected and forbidden (the reasons being assigned) is on that account raised to the rank of a dogmatic definition, and the reasons assigned by the Pope for the condemnation of a book stamped as Papal utterances ex cathedrâ.[31]

The third and last proof of an infallible utterance which Dr. Schulte brings forward is closely connected with the second; it runs: ‘And resting on this Brief, the Syllabus, in no. xxiii., condemns the proposition—“Roman Pontiffs and Ecumenical Councils have transgressed the limits of their power, have claimed for themselves the rights of princes, and have erred in their decisions upon faith and morals.”’  Thus, amongst the doctrines of the Church he conclusively places the following proposition: ‘Roman Popes have not overstepped the limits of their power, have not usurped the rights of princes, have not erred in their declarations on faith and morals.’  In bringing forward this passage from the Syllabus, Dr. Schulte has not definitely asserted that he looks upon it as a dogmatic definition—a Papal utterance, that is ex cathedrâ.  As he has not done this, he has saved me the trouble of going farther into the matter.  It is sufficient for us to direct attention to the fact, that when in the first and second parts of this proposition of the Syllabus, it is said the Roman Pontiffs have, first, ‘not overstepped the limits of their power,’ and, secondly, that they ‘have not usurped the rights of princes,’ these assertions have no reference to a truth revealed by God, but bear upon historical events of a later period, which events have nothing to do with faith and morals, but only with the acts of the Popes.  So it is plain there is not here the objectum or subject-matter required for a dogmatic definition.

Our readers can now judge for themselves that these three proofs of infallible teaching which Dr. Schulte has confidently brought forward (and he only brings forward these three) are anything but valid or perfect proofs of his assertion, that Popes, in their infallible definitions, or utterances ex cathedrâ, have set forth as the doctrine of the Church, or de fide, these propositions: 1st, that Popes have never erred in their constitutions; 2d, that they have never overstepped the limits of their power; or 3d, claimed for themselves the rights of princes.  If Dr. Schulte has not proved this, as he most certainly has not, then his assertion falls to the ground, ‘that a Catholic, in accepting the de fide definition of the Vatican Council “on the Infallible teaching office of the Roman Pontiff,” is bound to believe that the Popes have never erred in their constitutions; that they have never-overstepped the limits of their power; have never claimed for themselves the rights of princes.’  Here, however, I must take care not to be misunderstood.  I say only that a man is not bound by a definition de fide of the Vatican Council to believe all this besides; which is what Dr. Schulte, on untenable grounds, imagines that he discovers to be contained in this particular de fide definition.[32]

Note A to No. 9(6), chap. H. p. 37

M. Emmanuel Cosquin, the Editor of the French translation of Bishop Fessler’s  Pamphlet, has appended the following note to page 37, for the accuracy of which he makes himself responsible.  He says:

‘In order to complete what Mgr. Fessler here says, we borrow a passage from the Pastoral Instruction of the Swiss Bishops in June 1871, which has been approved by a Brief of Pius IX.  “The Definition of the Council,” say the Swiss Bishops, “has not in any respect brought about a separation between the head and the members of the teaching body in the Church.  After the Council, as before, the Popes will exercise their office as Doctors and Chief Pastors in the Church, without forgetting that the Bishops are appointed with them by the Holy Spirit, and, according to the constitution of the Church, as successors of the Apostles, in order that, in concert with the Pope and in subordination to the successor of the Prince of the Apostles, they may govern the Church of God.  As the Popes did before the Council, so now after it will they continue to strengthen their brethren the Bishops in the Faith; so also, in the government of the Church, never will they undertake anything which concerns the Universal Church without taking the counsel and advice of the Bishops.  As they did before the Council, so now also afterwards, will the Popes summon Councils; ask the advice of the Bishops scattered over the world; use every means in their power to obtain a full understanding respecting that deposit of the Faith which has been confided to the Church.  It will be according to this only and immutable role of the Faith that they will decide, as if in court of supreme and last instance, and infallibly, for the Universal Church, all questions which can possibly arise on matters of Faith or Morals.

“Nevertheless,” add the Swiss Bishops, “even when the Popes use all possible means to obtain a profound knowledge of the question of the Faith which is under consideration, as the duties of their office require, yes is it not this purely human knowledge, however complete it may be, but it is the assistance of the Holy Spirit—that is to say, it is a special grace of his state peculiar to himself—which gives the Pope the inhabitable assurance of Infallibility, and which guarantees to all the faithful, with an absolute certainty, that the definitions of faith of the supreme teaching authority of the Pope are exempt from error.”’

Note B to No. 12, chap. ii. p. 43

‘The French Editor has here another important note:

‘In their Pastoral Instruction, posterior to the work of Mgr. Fessler, and approved, as is known, by Pius IX., the Swiss Bishops cite the following passage of the Constitution of the Vatican Council: “The Holy Spirit has not been promised to the successors of St. Peter that they might publish according to His revelations a new doctrine, but in order that with His assistance they may holily guard and faithfully set forth the revelation transmitted by the Apostles—that is to say, the deposit of the Faith.”  And they add: “It is, then, the revelation given by God, the deposit of the Faith, which is the domain perfectly traced out and exactly circumscribed, within which the infallible decisions of the Pope are able to extend themselves, and in regard to which the faith of Catholics can be bound to fresh obligations. . . . It in no way depends upon the caprice of the Pope, or upon his good pleasure, to make such and such a doctrine the object of a dogmatic definition: he is tied up and limited to the divine revelation, and to the truths which that revelation contains; he is tied up and limited by the Creeds already in existence, and by the preceding definitions of the Church; he is tied up and limited by the divine law, and by the constitution of the Church; lastly, he is tied up and limited by that doctrine, divinely revealed, which affirms that alongside religious society there is civil society; that alongside the Ecclesiastical Hierarch there is the power of Temporal Magistrates, invested in their own domain with a full sovereignty, and to whom we owe in conscience obedience and respect in all things morally permitted, and which belong to the domain of civil society.”’


[10] Bear in mind the headings of the chapters are taken from Dr. Schulte’s pamphlet.

[11] By Dr. W. Molitor, Regensburg, 1870.

[12] ‘Prćtermitti,’ used with ‘jus,’ in the sense of ‘being brought to naught.’ See Facciolati in verbo.  Translation.

[13] From a formula of Pope Horniadas, as it was proposed by Adrian II. to the Eighth Ecumenical Council, viz. the Fourth Council of Constantinople, and was signed by the Fathers there assembled.

[14][14] St. Bernard, Epis. 190.

[15] See the author’s Preface, concluding paragraph.

[16] All this, from the beginning of this chapter up to this point, Dr. Schulte has omitted, and has only admitted into his article the passage commencing ‘Whilst, then.’

[17] The Latin of these last words is as follows: ‘Doctrinam de fide vel moribus definit;’ i.e. issues his final decision that a certain doctrine is to be regarded as an essential part of the Catholic faith or of Catholic morality, and to be maintained as such by the universal Church.

[18] In this sense F. Perrone writes (Prćlect. Theolog. Vol. viii.  De Locis Theologicis, pars i. § ii. cap. iv. n. 726, Lovanii, 1843, p. 497): ‘Quapropter neque facta personalia, neque prćcepta, neque rescripta, neque opinions, quas identidem promunt Romani Pontifices, neque decreta disciplinć, neque omissiones definitionis, aliaque id genus plurima in censu veniunt decretorum, de quibus agimus.  Quanguam enim hćc omnia pro summâ auctoritate, ex quâ dimanant, magno semper in pretio habenda sint, ac humili mentis obsquio ac veneratione sint excipienda, nihilo tamen minus non constituunt “definitionem ex cathedrâ,” de qua loquimur et in quâ solâ adstruimus Pontificiam infallbilitatem.’  I quote Perrone as my guarantee, inasmuch as he at least cannot be suspected of wishing to derogate from the Pope’s authority.  Ballerini expresses himself to the same effect (De vi ac Ratione Primatús Rom. Pontif. Cap. xiv. § vi.  Veronć, 1766, p. 287-8): ‘Solas itaque fidei definitions id (inerratić privilegium) respicit a Summis Pontificibus Ecclesić propositas contra insurgents dissentiones et errors in materiâ fidei: non autem opiniones, quibus etsi aliquid statuant, nihil tamen dernunt credendum ex Catholicâ fide, nihilque damnant tanquam alienum ab eâdem; non simplicia prćcepta, quć ad fidei definitionem referri non possint; non judicia de personis tantum, non decreta disciplinć, quć ad fidem non pertinent, non tandem omissions definitionum fidei,’ &c.

[19] If here, as elsewhere, I make use of the term dogmatic definition on a matter of faith in the sense of the Latin words ‘dogmatic definition,’ this is only for the sale of brevity.  I mean by the words all the ‘doctrine de fide et meribus,’ following Ballerini (De vi ac Ratione Primatús Roman, Pontif. esp. xv. § v. Veronć, 1766, p. 312) , who thus explains the expression: ‘Fidei dogma, in quo continetur et morum naturalis ac divini juris doctrina.’

[20] ‘Quć in conciliorum vel Pontificum decretis vel explicandi gratiâ inducuntur, vel ut objectioni respondeatur, vel etiam obiter et in transcursu prćter institutum prćcipuum, de quo erat potissimum controversia, ea non pertinent ad fidem, hoc est, non sunt Catholicć fidei judicia’—Melch. Canus, De Locis Theologicis, lib. v. cap. v.

[21] See note A, end of this chapter.

[22] Such an appeal to the Pope is not, then, so absurd as Dr. Schulte says; on the contrary, where there is a supreme authority, it is quite intelligible and reasonable on the part of the Pope’s subordinates in matters on which a doubt might arise of the applicability of the Pope’s intention to a particular case, although in the first instance the intention was clearly expressed.

(Of course Bishop Fessler is here understood as meaning that the fresh explanation of the definition must be provided with all the marks which are necessary to prove the presence of a real definition; just as in a will any alteration or explanation forming part of a will, must be attested by the same witnesses and with th same formalities as were required for the original document. TRANSLATOR.)

[23] See note B of the editor of the French translation at the end of this chapter.

[24] In the Introduction, p. 18 of his Pamphlet, he thus expresses his own intention: ‘I, in the first instance, issue this pamphlet that governments and persons governed may be thoroughly acquainted with what a Catholic who admits the Infallibility of the Pope is bound to believe as a matter of consequence.’

[25] I said designedly above, p. 44, ‘only a real and true definition of the Pope on faith and morals’ can be under consideration, because the expression made use by Dr. Schulte, p. 27 of his Pamphlet, is ambiguous.  He says: ‘What the Popes have declared to be such’ (viz. a dogma of the Church), ‘that is true, and must be believed by Catholics, and accordingly followed by them in practice.’  This may be true and may be false.  For not all that the Popes have declared to be a doctrine of the Church is for that reason alone (because the Popes have said so) true, and to be believed by Catholics, and so followed by them in practice; but only that which Popes have declared in an ex cathedrâ utterance to be a dogma of faith or morals to be believed by the whole Church.  See Ballerini, l.c.p. 36, who speaks very expressly on this point: ‘Multć aliis, quć in Pontificum sive epistolis, sive concionibus, sive aliis quibuslibet eorum operibus inspersć, etiam si veritatem aut aliquod dogma contineant, et verissimć sint, non tamen fidei definitions dici queunt, sicuti similes sententć in aliis Patribus inventć, opinionis vel dogmatis, uti materies fert, testimonia sunt, definitions autem fidei non item.’  So also says Cardinal Bellarmine: ‘Multa esse in epistolis decretalibus, qućnon faciunt, rem aliquam esse de fide, sed solum opiniones Pontificum ea in re nobis declarant.’ De Rom. Pontif. lib. iv. c. xiv.

[26] Quod si fecisset pro certo, ut arbitramur, ad cor reversus errors suos cognovisset nec in Romanâ curia quam tantopere vanis malevolorum rumoribus plus quam oportuit tribuendo, vituperat, tot  reperiisset errata; docuissemusque eum clarius luce sanctos Romanos Pontifices predecessors nostros, quos prćter omnem modestiam injuriose lacerat, in suis canonibus seu constitutionibus, quas mordere nititur, nunquam erase.  Ballarium Romanum, ed. Concquelines, tom. Iii. p. iii Rome, 1743, p. 491.

[27] For Dr. Schulte has omitted after the word ‘constitutions’ the words which in the Papal bull immediately follow, viz. ‘which he studiously assails;’ words which contain a limitation of the foregoing general expresslion, ‘constitutiones.’

[28] ‘Definit’ is the well-considered word of the Vatican Council.

[29] The German work ‘Gottlosigkeit,’ which  is rendered above by ‘impiety,’ is an imperfect translation of th Latin ‘impietas’ (so also is our English word ‘impiety.’—TR.).  The words ‘pius,’ ‘impius,’ ‘pietas,’ and ‘impietas,’ all designate a certain state of mind towards God as well as a state of mind towards parents, and ‘impietas’ is here used in this latter sense, inasmuch as the Pope is regarded as the ‘pastor omnium Christianorum’ in the sentence quoted from the Brief in question.

[30] See Brief Multiplices inter, June 10, 1851

[31] In a note to page 28 of his pamphlet he assumes as proved that this Brief speaks ex cathedrâ, and this he does for the following reasons: 1. ‘It appeals to the duty of preserving the flock of Christ, which has been committed to him (the Pope) from the first Pastor.’  Here I ask, to preserve from what?  Dr. Schulte prudently holds his tongue upon this point, since it makes nothing for his point.  But the context says plainly what this is.  ‘It is to preserve men from the pernicious reading bad books, and keeping them in their possession.’  That is expressly declared by the Pope to be the object of this Brief, not a definition on a matter of faith.  The further reasons he gives are not a whit more to the purpose; as, 2. ‘The Pope speaks of his apostolical office.’  3. ‘Of his apostolical pleniture of power.’  As if he didn’t do this every time he exercised his supreme power in the Church.  4. ‘The Pope commands open publication.’  As if nothing was ever published openly except definitions on matters of faith, and as if prohibited books were not published.  5.  ‘He refers therein to the Syllabus.’  Just as if all that the Syllabus refers to is, for that very reasons, i.e. because it is in the Syllabus, at once to be looked on as a dogmatic definition on a matter of faith.  6. ‘He decides after a mature consideration, with the advice of the cardinals.’  Just as if many other things were not decided after mature consideration, and with the advice of the cardinals.  If the circumstances which Dr. Schulte speaks of as proofs of what is ex cathedrâ are something of this sort, it is easy to see how utterly valueless such ‘circumstances’ are, to enable him to make out his point.

[32] What should be the way in which a Catholic should condut himself as regards these propositions of the Papal Brief, Multiplices inter, June 10, 1851, and also as regards the Syllabus, no. xxiii. (even if they are not doctrinal definitions), see above, 9(3), and compare Ballerini, De vi ac Ratione Primatús Romanorum Pontificum, Veronć, 1766, cap.xv. § 10.