A Catechism of Modernism: Part I – The Modernist Errors

Pope St. Pius X Writing & StudyingA Catechism of Modernism

Part I

The Modernist Errors


Q. To proceed in an orderly manner in the exposition of the errors of Modernism, how many personalities must we consider in the Modernist?

A. To proceed in an orderly manner in this recondite subject, it must first of all be noted that every Modernist sustains and comprises within himself many personalities; he is a philosopher, a believer, a theologian, an historian, a critic, an apologist, a reformer. These roles must be clearly distinguished from one another by all who would accurately know their system and thoroughly comprehend the principles and the consequences of their doctrines.

Chapter I.

The Religious Philosophy of the Modernists.

1. Agnosticism. 

Q. We begin, then, with the philosopher. What doctrine do the Modernists use as the foundation for their religious philosophy?

A. Modernists place the foundation of religious philosophy in that doctrine which is usually called Agnosticism.


Q. Give the teaching of Agnosticism?

A. According to this teaching, human reason is confined entirely within the field of phenomena, that is to say, to things that are perceptible to the senses, and in the manner in which they are perceptible: it has no right and no power to transgress these limits. Hence it is incapable of lifting itself up to God, and of recognizing His existence, even by means of visible things.


Q. What conclusions do Modernists draw from this doctrine?

A. From this it is inferred that God can never be the direct object of science, and that, as regards history, He must not be considered as an historical subject.


Q. What according to these premises, will become of natural theology, the motives of credibility, and of external revelation?

A. Given these premises, all will readily perceive what becomes of natural theology, of the motives of credibility, of external revelation. The Modernists simply make away with them altogether; they include them in Intellectualism, which they call a ridiculous and long ago defunct system.


Q. Do the condemnations of the Church exercise any restraint on the Modernists?

A. Nor does the fact that the Church has formally condemned these portentous errors exercise the slightest restraint upon them.


Q. What definition of the Vatican Council may be cited against the Modernists?

A. The Vatican Council has defined: If any one says that the one true God, Our Creator and Lord, can not be known with certainty by the natural light of human reason by means of the things that are made, let them be anathema (De Revel., can. 1); and also: If any one says that it is not possible or not expedient that man be taught, through the medium of divine revelation, about God and the worship to be paid Him, let them be anathema (Ibid., can. 2); and finally: If any one says that divine revelation can not be made credible by external signs, and that therefore men should be drawn to the faith only by their personal internal experience or by private inspiration, let them be anathema (De Fide, can. 3)


Q. But how can the Modernists make the transition from Agnosticism, which is a state of pure nescience, to scientific and historic Atheism, which is a doctrine of positive denial; and consequently, by what legitimate process of reasoning, starting from ignorance as to whether God has in fact intervened in the history of the human race or not, do they proceed, in their explanation of this history, to ignore God altogether, as if He really had not intervened?

A. The matter may be understood from this: It is a fixed and established principle among them that both science and history must be atheistic: and within their boundaries there is room for nothing but phenomena; God and all that is divine are utterly excluded.


Q. According to this absurd teaching, what must be held regarding the sacred Person of Christ, what concerning the mysteries of His life and death, of His Resurrection and Ascension into heaven?

A. All this we shall soon see.

A Catechism of Modernism: Preamble


– Lucas G. Westman

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