Pope Gregory XVI on Indifferentism

Pope Gregory XVI on Indifferentism“We now come to another and most fruitful cause of the evils which at present afflict the Church and which We so bitterly deplore; We mean indifferentism, or that fatal opinion everywhere diffused by the craft of the wicked, that men can by the profession of any faith obtain the eternal salvation of their souls, provided their life conforms to justice and probity. But in a question so clear and evident it will undoubtedly be easy for Us to pluck up from amid the people confided to your care so pernicious an error. The apostle warns us of it: ‘One God, one faith, one baptism.’ Let them tremble then who imagine that every creed leads by an easy path to the port of felicity; and reflect seriously on the testimony of our Savior Himself, that those are against Christ who are not whith Christ, and that they miserably scatter by the fact that they gather not with Him, and that consequently they will perish eternally without any doubt, if they do not hold to the Catholic Faith, and preserve it entire and without alteration. Let them hear Saint Jerome himself, relating that, at the epoch when the Church was divided into three parties, he, faithful to what had been decided, incessantly repeated to all who endeavored to win him over: ‘Whoso is united to the chair of Peter is with me.’ In vain did they attempt to create an illusion by saying that he himself was regenerated in water; for Saint Augustine answers precisely: ‘The branch lopped off has the shape of the vine; but what avails the form if it have not root?’

From this poisoned source of indifferentism flows that false and absurd, or rather extravagant, maxim that liberty of conscience should be established and guaranteed to each man – a most contagious error, to which leads that absolute and unbridled liberty of opinion which for the ruin of Church and State spreads over the world, and which some men, by unbridled impudence, fear not to represent as advantageous to the Church. ‘And what more certain death for souls,’ says Saint Augustine, ‘than the liberty of error!’ On beholding them thus, indeed, take away from men every rein able to restrain them in the paths of truth, hurried as they already are to ruin by a nature inclined to evil, we may say in truth that there yawns that pit of the abyss, from which Saint John beheld ascending a smoke that obscured the sun, and locusts to lay waste the earth. Thence, in fact, the instability of minds; thence, the ever increasing corruption of the young; thence, in the people, the contempt of sacred rights and holiest laws and things; thence, in a word, the saddest scourge that can ravage States, since experience attests, and the remotest antiquity teaches, that cities powerful in wealth, dominion, and glory perished by this sole evil – the unbridled liberty of opinions, the license of public discourse, the passion for changes.”

– Pope Gregory XVI, Mirari Vos


– Lucas G. Westman

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