Cleansing Fire

Defending Truth and Tradition in the Roman Catholic Church

Oath Against Modernism

October 13th, 2018, Promulgated by Hopefull

This oath against modernist errors was required to be sworn by all Roman Catholic clergy and educators from 1910 as a means of rooting out the poisonous errors of Modernism. It was abolished in 1967 by Pope Paul VI, 2 years after Vatican II. Those who took the oath before that time are still bound by it.


Pope St. Pius X’s “Oath against Modernism”

Extracted from the motu proprio, Sacrorum Antistitum; September 1, 1910

To be sworn to by all clergy, pastors, confessors, preachers, religious superiors, and professors in philosophical-theological seminaries.

I [name] firmly embrace and accept each and every definition that has been set forth and declared by the unerring teaching authority of the Church, especially those principal truths which are directly opposed to the errors of this day.

And first of all, I profess that God, the origin and end of all things, can be known with certainty by the natural light of reason from the created world (see Rom. 1:19), that is, from the visible works of creation, as a cause from its effects, and that therefore, His existence can also be demonstrated.

Secondly, I accept and acknowledge the external proofs of revelation, that is, divine acts and especially miracles and prophecies as the surest signs of the divine origin of the Christian religion and I hold that these same proofs are well adapted to the understanding of all eras and all men, even of this time.

Thirdly, I believe with equally firm faith that the Church, the guardian and teacher of the revealed word, was personally instituted by the real and historical Christ when He lived among us, and that the Church was built upon Peter, the prince of the apostolic hierarchy, and his successors for the duration of time.

Fourthly, I sincerely hold that the doctrine of faith was handed down to us from the apostles through the orthodox Fathers in exactly the same meaning and always in the same explanation. Therefore, I entirely reject the heretical misrepresentation that dogmas evolve and change from one meaning to another, different from the one which the Church held previously. I also condemn every error according to which, in place of the divine deposit which has been given to the spouse of Christ to be carefully guarded by her, there is put a philosophical figment or product of a human conscience that has gradually been developed by human effort and will continue to develop indefinitely.

Fifthly, I hold with certainty and sincerely confess that faith is not a blind sentiment of religion welling up from the depths of the subconscious under the impulse of the heart and the motion of a will trained to morality; but faith is a genuine assent of the intellect to truth received by hearing from an external source. By this assent, because of the authority of the supremely truthful God, we believe to be true that which has been revealed and attested to by a personal God, Our Creator and Lord.

Furthermore, with due reverence, I submit and adhere with my whole heart to the condemnations, declarations, and all the prescripts contained in the encyclical Pascendi and in the decree Lamentabili, especially those concerning what is known as the history of dogmas.

I also reject the error of those who say that the faith held by the Church can contradict history, and that Catholic dogmas, in the sense in which they are now understood, are irreconcilable with a more realistic view of the origins of the Christian religion.

I also condemn and reject the opinion of those who say that a well-educated Christian assumes a dual personality?that of a believer and at the same time of a historian, as if it were permissible for a historian to hold things that contradict the faith of the believer, or to establish premises which, provided there be no direct denial of dogmas, would lead to the conclusion that dogmas are either false or doubtful.

Likewise, I reject that method of judging and interpreting Sacred Scripture which, departing from the tradition of the Church, the analogy of faith, and the norms of the Apostolic See, embraces the misrepresentations of the rationalists and with no prudence or restraint adopts textual criticism as the one and supreme norm.

Furthermore, I reject the opinion of those who hold that a professor lecturing or writing on a historical-theological subject should first put aside any preconceived opinion about the supernatural origin of Catholic Tradition or about the divine promise of help to preserve all revealed truth forever; and that they should then interpret the writings of each of the Fathers solely by scientific principles, excluding all sacred authority, and with the same liberty of judgment that is common in the investigation of all ordinary historical documents.

Finally, I declare that I am completely opposed to the error of the modernists who hold that there is nothing divine in sacred tradition; or what is far worse, say that there is, but in a pantheistic sense, with the result that there would remain nothing but this plain simple fact?one to be put on par with the ordinary facts of history?the fact, namely, that a group of men by their own labor, skill, and talent have continued through subsequent ages, a school begun by Christ and His apostles.

I promise that I shall keep all these articles faithfully, entirely, and sincerely, and guard them inviolate, in no way deviating from them in teaching or in any way in word or in writing. Thus I promise, this I swear, so help me God, and these holy Gospels of God which I touch with my hand.

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4 Responses to “Oath Against Modernism”

  1. Ginger says:

    To obey the commands of the Abbot in all things, even though he himself (which Heaven forbid) act otherwise, mindful of that precept of the Lord: “What they say, do ye; what they do, do ye not” (Mt 23:3). Rule of St. Benedict Chapter 4 The Instruments of Good Works

    “I also condemn and reject the opinion of those who say that a well-educated Christian assumes a dual personality.”

    Living a dual life is bad enough. Some people in Church leadership are boldly surfacing with a measure of worldly success while claiming false doctrinal changes to fit abhorrent lifestyles. Modern ways of communication carry certain dangers and risks but with that we have afforded ourselves good insight into the mechanisms of our very large and beautiful Church. We see a greater view of our history and current events as they fit together. Pope St. Pius X had clear foresight without the convenience of computer and internet and yet today we are able to rapidly see his accurate concerns because of technology. Concentrate on Sacred Scripture and Church Doctrine, filter out impurities and use technology to amplify the Truth. This requires a good measure of work from Church Militant.

  2. raymondfrice says:

    This requires a good measure of work from Church Militant. Ginger.

    Many responsible clerics are saying that if the Church is to be saved, it will be done by the laity. You can’t expect the people who caused the problems , to come up with solutions!!

  3. Ginger says:

    I think it is reasonable to say that both clerics and laity need to reform and work together in complimentary ways without upsetting the order of the Church.
    There are more laity leadership roles than ever. This should not overshadow or usurp the authority of the Shepherd.
    Start with better and fewer seminaries that properly form and prepare priests for leadership in the Church.
    Increasingly educated laity need to understand that liberal modernist views don’t work. I read an old LIFE magazine article from the 60s about this. I will give the month/year of that issue if I can dig it up tomorrow.
    The point is that this was public knowledge as it was happening so many years ago. The Catholic Church was given up for lost even then.

  4. Ginger says:

    raymondfrice, I no longer have that old LIFE magazine but I will try to figure out which issue/year it was…wish me luck. I did find the following. There is so much more to this good read. I hope you can locate a copy or digital edition of it. The article “American Catholics and the Intellectual Life” by Msgr. John Tracy Ellis might be worth locating.

    The Saturday Evening Post November 28, 1964

    A Searching Report: Momentous Changes Sweep The Catholic Church in America
    Page 26,

    The problem of intellectualism is one of the key elements in the American Church’s present crisis of self-confidence because it is, after all, the fantasies of the intellectuals which foreshadow the shape society is ultimately to assume. American Catholics have been well represented in politics, but beyond that they have been vastly underrepresented in posts of academic, scientific and professional leadership in proportion to their great numbers. Until the mid-50’s few Catholic seemed even to recognize this critical problem. But then, in 1955, the Jesuit quarterly Thought, a scholarly journal of modest circulation published a lengthy essay entitled “American Catholics and the Intellectual Life.” The article sent tremors of shock through the Catholic Establishment.

    Page 40
    A number of European priests who have studied the American Church conclude that the tremendous sacramental life in this country—the multitudes of Catholics obediently, almost mechanically, swarming to the Communion rails on Sunday— rests on a very frail foundation, one of compulsion rather than of conviction. Now a simple catechism faith binds them to the Church like an umbilical cord, but when the level of their sophistication passes a certain point, they will begin to ask searching questions. If they do not receive meaningful answers, apostasy could result. This happened in France (under somewhat different circumstances) 50 or more years ago, and the churches were deserted. It could happen here, if the power structure of American Catholicism does not recognize the challenge.

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