Denzinger EN 3146

The Political Principality *

[From the Encyclical, "Diuturnum illud," June 29, 1881]

3150 Dz 1855 Although man incited by a kind of arrogance and contumacy often strives to cast off the reins of government, yet he has never been able to succeed in obeying anyone. In every association and community of men, necessity demands that some be in charge. . . . But it is of interest to note at this point that those who are to be in charge of the state can in certain cases be elected by the will and judgment of the multitude, and Catholic doctrine makes no opposition nor resistance. By this election by which the prince is designated, the rights of principality are not conferred, nor is the power committed, but it is determined by whom it is to be carried on. There is no question here of the kinds of states; for there is no reason why the principality of one person or of several should be approved by the Church, provided it be just and intent upon the common good. Therefore, as long as justice is preserved, peoples are not prohibited from establishing that kind of state for themselves which more aptly befits either their genius or the institutions and customs of their ancestors.

3151 Dz 1856 But the Church teaches that what pertains to political power comes from God. . . . It is a great error not to see what is manifest, that, although men are not solitaries, it is not by congenital free will that they are impelled to a natural community life; and moreover the pact which they proclaim is patently feigned and fictitious, and cannot bestow as much force, dignity, and strength to the political power as the protection of the state and the common welfare of the citizens require. But the principality is to possess these universal glories and aids, only if it is understood that they come from God, the august and most holy source.

3152 Dz 1857 That is the one reason for men not obeying, if something is demanded of them which is openly at odds with natural and divine law; for it is equally wrong to order and to do anything in which the law of nature or the will of God is violated. If, then, it ever happens to anyone to be forced to choose one or the other, namely, to ignore the orders either of God or of princes, obedience must be rendered to Jesus Christ who orders, "the things that are Caesar's, to Caesar; the things that are God's to God" (cf. Mt 22,21), and according to the example of the apostles the reply should be made courageously: "We ought to obey God, rather than man" (Ac 5,29). . . . To be unwilling to refer the right of ordering to God, the author, is nothing else than to wish the most beautiful splendor of political power destroyed, and its nerves cut. . . .

In fact, sudden tumults and most daring rebellions, especially in Germany, have followed that so-called Reformation, whose supporters and leaders have utterly opposed sacred and civil power with new doctrines.

. . . From that heresy a falsely called philosophy took its origin in an earlier time, and a right, which they call "new," and a popular power, and an ignorant license which many people consider only liberty. From these we have come to the ultimate plagues, namely, to communism, to socialism, to nihilism, most loathsome monsters and almost destroyers of man's civil society.

Dz 1858 Surely the Church of Christ cannot be mistrusted by the princes nor hated by the people. Indeed, she advises the princes to follow justice and in nothing to err from duty; and at the same time she strengthens and aids their authority in many ways. Whatever takes place in the field of civil affairs, she recognizes and declares to be in their power and supreme control; in those matters whose judgment, although for different reasons, pertains to sacred and civil power, she wishes that there exist concord between both, by benefit of which lamentable contentions are avoided for both.

Secret Societies*

[From the Encyclical, "Humanum genus,', April 20, 1884]

3158 Dz 1859 Let no one think that for any reason whatsoever he is permitted to join the Masonic sect, if his profession of Catholicism and his salvation is worth as much to him as it ought to be. Let no pretended probity deceive one; for it can seem to some that the Freemasons demand nothing which is openly contrary to the sanctity of religion and morals, but since the entire reasoning and aim of the sect itself rest in viciousness and shame, it is not proper to permit association with them, or to assist them in any way.

[From the Instruction of the Holy Office, May 10, 1884]

3159 Dz 1860 (3) Lest there be any place for error when decision will have to be made as to what the opinions of these pernicious sects are, which are under such prohibition, it is especially certain that Freemasonry and other sects of this kind which plot against the Church and lawful powers, whether they do this secretly or openly, whether or not they exact from their followers an oath to preserve secrecy, are condemned by automatic excommunication.

3160 Dz 1861 (4) Besides these there are also other sects which are prohibited and must be avoided under pain of grave sin, among which are to be reckoned especially all those which bind their followers under oath to a secret to be divulged to no one, and exact absolute obedience to be offered to secret leaders. It is to be noted, furthermore, that there are some societies which, although it cannot be determined with certainty whether or not they belong to these which we have mentioned, are nevertheless doubtful and full of danger not only because of the doctrines which they profess, but also because of the philosophy of action which those follow under whose leadership they have developed and are governed.

Assistance of a Physician or of a Confessor at a Duel *

[From the Response of the Holy Office to the Bishop of Poitiers, May 31, 1884]

To the question:

3162 Dz 1862 I. Can a physician when invited by duelists assist at a duel with the intention of bringing an end to the fight more quickly, or simply to bind and cure wounds, without incurring the excommunication reserved simply to the Highest Pontiff?

II. Can he at least, without being present at the duel, stay at a neighboring house or in a place nearby, ready to offer his service, if the duelists have need of it.

III. What about a confessor under the same conditions?

The answers are:

To I, he cannot, and excommunication is incurred.

To II and III, that, insofar as it takes place as described, he cannot, and likewise excommunication is incurred.

Cremation of Corpses*

[From the Decree of the Holy Office, May 19 and Dec. 15, 1886]

Dz 1863 To the question:

3188 I. Whether it is permitted to join societies whose purpose is to promote the practice of burning the corpses of men?

II. Whether it is permitted to command that one's own or the corpses of others be burned?

The answer on the 19th day of May, 1886, is:

To I. In the negative, and if it is a matter concerned with societies affiliated with the Masonic sect, the penalties passed against this sect are incurred.

To II. In the negative. *

Then, on the 15th day of December, 1886:

3195 Dz 1864 Insofar as it is a question of those whose bodies are subjected to cremation not by their own will but by that of another, the rites and prayers of the Church can be employed not only at home but also in the church, not, however, at the place of cremation, scandal being avoided. Indeed, scandal can also be avoided if it be known that cremation was not elected by the deceased's own will.

3196 But when it is a question of those who elect cremation by their own will, and have persevered in this will definitely and notoriously even until death, with due attention to the decree of Wednesday, May 19 1886 [given above], action must be taken in such cases according to the norms of the Roman Ritual, Tit. Quibus non licet dare ecclesiasticam sepulturam (To whom it is not permitted to give burial in the church). But in particular cases where doubt or difficulty arises, the ordinary will have to be consulted.

Civil Divorce *

[From the Decree of the Holy Office, May 27, 1886]

3190 Dz 1865 The following questions were raised by some Bishops of France to the inquisition S.R. et U.: "In the letter S.R. et U. 1. of June 25th 1885, to all the ordinaries in the territory of France on the law of civil divorce it is decreed thus: "Considering very serious matters, in addition to times and places, it can be tolerated that those who hold magistracies, and lawyers who conduct matrimonial cases in France, without being bound to cede to the office," and it added conditions, of which the second is this: "Provided they are so prepared in mind not only regarding the dignity and nullity of marriage, but also regarding the separation of bodies, about which cases they are obliged to judge, as never to offer an opinion or to defend one to be offered, or to provoke or to incite to that opinion which is at odds with divine and ecclesiastical law."

3191 It is asked:

I. Whether the interpretation is right which is widespread throughout France and even put in print, according to which the judge satisfies the above mentioned condition, who, although a certain marriage is valid in the sight of the Church, ignores that true and unbroken marriage, and applying civil law pronounces that there is ground for divorce, provided he intends in his mind to break only the civil effects and only the civil contract, and provided the terms of the opinion offered consider these alone? In other words, whether an opinion so offered can be said not to be at odds with the divine and ecclesiastical law?

3192 II. After the judge has pronounced that there is ground for divorce, whether the syndic (in French: le maire), intent also upon only the civil effects and the civil contract, as is explained above, can pronounce a divorce, although the marriage is valid in the eyes of the Church.

3193 III. After the divorce has been pronounced, whether the same syndic can again join a spouse who strives to enter into other nuptials in a civil ceremony, although the previous marriage is valid in the eyes of the Church and the other party is living?

The answer is:

In the negative to the first, the second, * and the third.

The Christian Constitution of States *

[From the Encyclical "Immortale Dei," November 1, 1885]

3168 Dz 1866 And so God has partitioned the care of the human race between two powers, namely, ecclesiastical and civil, the one, to be sure, placed over divine, the other over human affairs. Each is highest in its own order; each has certain limits within which it is contained, which are defined by the nature of each and the immediate purpose; and therefore an orbit, as it were, is circumscribed, within which the action of each takes place by its own right. * . . . Whatever, then, in human things is in every way sacred, whatever pertains to the salvation of souls or the worship of God, whether it is such by its own nature or again is understood as such because of the purpose to which it is referred, this is entirely in the power and judgment of the Church; but other matters, which the civil and political order embraces, are rightly subject to civil authority, since Jesus Christ has ordered: "The things that are Caesar's, render to Caesar; the things that are God's to God" (cf. Mt 22,21). But occasions sometimes arise, when another method of concord is also efficacious for peace and liberty, namely, if rulers of public affairs and the Roman Pontiff agree on the same decision in some special matter. On these occasions the Church gives outstanding proof of her motherly devotion, when, as is her wont she shows all possible affability and indulgence. . . .

3169 Dz 1867 To wish also that the Church be subject to the civil power in the exercise of her duties is surely a great injustice (to her), and great rashness. By this deed order is disturbed, because the things that are of nature are put over those that are above nature; the frequency of the blessings with which the Church would fill everyday life, if she were not hampered by anything, is destroyed or certainly greatly diminished; and besides a way is prepared for enmities and contentions; and, what great destruction they bring to both powers, the issue of events has demonstrated beyond measure. Such doctrines, which are not approved by human reason and are of great importance for civil discipline, the Roman Pontiffs, Our predecessors, since they understood well what the Apostolic office demanded of them, did by no means allow to pass uncondemned. Thus, Gregory XVI by the encyclical letter beginning, "Mirari vos," on the fifteenth day of August, 1832 [see note 1613 ff.], with great seriousness of purpose struck at those teachings which even then were being preached, that in divine worship no preference should be shown; that individuals are free to form their judgments about religion as they prefer; that one's conscience alone is his guide; and furthermore that it is lawful for everyone to publish what he thinks, and likewise to stir up revolution within the state. On questions of the separation of Church and state the same Pontiff writes thus: "We could not predict happier results both for religion and for the civil government from the wishes of those who desire that the Church be separated from the state, and that the mutual concord between the civil and ecclesiastical authorities be broken off. For, it is manifest that devotees of unhampered freedom fear that concord which has always been beneficial and salutary for both sacred and civil interests."--In a not dissimilar manner Pius IX, as opportunity presented itself, noted many of the false opinions which began to prevail, and afterwards ordered the same to be gathered together so that in, as it were, so great a sea of error, Catholics might have something to follow without mishap.*

3170 Dz 1868 Moreover, from these precepts of the Pontiffs the following must be thoroughly understood; that the origin of public power should be sought from God Himself, not from the multitude; that free license for sedition is at odds with reason; that it is unlawful for private individuals, unlawful for states to disregard the duties of religion or to be affected in the same way by the different kinds (of religion); that the unrestricted power of thinking and publicly expressing one's opinions is not among the rights of citizens, and is by no means to be placed among matters worthy of favor and support.

3171 Dz 1869 Similarly, it should be understood that the Church is a society no less than the state itself, perfect in its kind and in its right; and those who hold the highest power should not act so as to force the Church to serve and to be under them, or so as not to permit her to be free to transact her own affairs, or so as to take from her any of the other rights which have been conferred upon her by Jesus Christ.

3172 Dz 1870 However, in matters of mixed jurisdiction, it is wholly in accord with nature, and likewise in accord with the plans of God, that there be no separation of one power from the other, but plainly that there be concord, and this in a manner befitting the closely allied purposes which have given rise to both societies.

3173 Dz 1871 This, then, is what is taught by the Church on the establishment and government of states.--However, by these statements and decrees, if one desire to judge rightly, no one of the various forms of the state is condemned in itself, inasmuch as they contain nothing which is offensive to Catholic doctrine, and they can, if they are wisely and justly applied, preserve the state in its best condition.

3174 Dz 1872 Neither by any means is this condemned in itself, that the people participate more or less in the state; this very thing at certain times and under certain laws can not only be of use to the citizens, but can even be of obligation.

3175 Dz 1873 Furthermore, neither does there appear any just cause for anyone charging the Church with being lenient and more than rightly restricted by affability, or with being hostile to that liberty which is proper and lawful.

3176 Dz 1874 Indeed, if the Church judges that certain forms of divine worship should not be on the same footing as the true religion, yet she does not therefore condemn governors of states, who, to obtain some great blessing or to prevent an evil,

3177 Dz 1875 patiently tolerate custom and usage so that individually they each have a place in the state. And this also the Church especially guards against, that anyone against his will be forced to embrace the Catholic faith, for, as St. Augustine wisely advises: "Man cannot believe except of his free will." *

3178 Dz 1876 In a like manner the Church cannot approve that liberty which begets an aversion for the most sacred laws of God and casts aside the obedience due lawful authority. For this is more truly license than liberty. And very rightly is it called "the liberty of ruin" * by Augustine, and "a cloak of malice" by the Apostle Peter (1P 2,16); rather, since it is beyond reason, it is true slavery, for "whosoever committeth sin, is the servant of sin" (Jn 8,34). On the other hand, that liberty is genuine and to be sought after, which, from the point of view of the individual, does not permit man to be a slave of errors and passions, most abominable masters, if it guides its citizens in public office wisely, ministers generously to the opportunity for increasing means of well-being, and protects the state from foreign influence.

3179 Dz 1877 --This liberty, honorable and worthy of man, the Church approves most of all, and never ceases to strive and struggle for its preservation sound and strong among the nations.--In fact, whatever is of the greatest value in the state for the common welfare; whatever has been usefully established to curb the license of rulers who do not consult the people's good; whatever prevents highest authority from improperly invading municipal and family affairs; whatever is of value for preserving the dignity, the person of man, and the quality of rights among individual citizens, of all such things the records of past ages testify that Catholic Church has always been either the discoverer, or the promoter, or the protector. Therefore, always consistent with herself, if on the one hand she rejects immoderate liberty, which for individuals and states falls into license or slavery, on the other hand she willingly and gladly embraces the better things which the day brings forth, if they truly contain prosperity for this life, which is, as it were, a kind of course to that other life which is to remain forever.

Dz 1878 Therefore, when people say that the Church is envious of the more recent political systems, and indiscriminately repudiates whatever the genius of these times has produced, it is an empty and groundless calumny. Indeed, she does repudiate wild opinions; she does disapprove nefarious zeal for seditions, and expressly that habit of mind in which the beginnings of a voluntary departure from God are seen; but since all that is true must come from God, she recognizes whatever has to do with the attaining of truth as a kind of trace of the divine intelligence. And, since there is nothing of truth in the natural order which abrogates faith in teachings divinely transmitted, but many things which confirm it; and since every discovery of truth can lend force to the knowledge and praise of God, accordingly whatever contributes to the extension of the boundaries of knowledge will always do so to the pleasure and joy of the Church; and just as is her custom in the case of other branches of knowledge, so will she also favor and promote those which are concerned with the investigation of nature.

Dz 1879 In these studies the Church is not in opposition if the mind discovers something new; she does not object to further investigations being made for the refinements and comforts of life; rather, as an enemy of indolence and sloth she wishes especially that the talents of man bear rich fruits by exercise and cultivation; she furnishes incentives to all kinds of arts and works; and by directing through her influence all zeal for such things towards virtue and salvation, she struggles to prevent man from being turned away from God and heavenly blessings by his intelligence and industry. . . .

Dz 1880 And so in such a difficult course of events, if Catholics give heed to us, as they ought, they will easily see what are the duties of each one in matters of opinion as well as of action. And, indeed, in forming opinion, it is necessary to comprehend and hold with a firm judgment whatever the Roman Pontiffs have handed down, and shall hand down, and to profess each publicly as often as occasion demands. And specifically regarding the so-called liberties so sought after in recent times, it is necessary for everyone to stand by the judgment of the Apostolic See, and to have the same opinion as that held by it. One should not be deceived by the honorable appearance of these liberties; one should consider from what sources they are derived, and by what efforts they are everywhere sustained and promoted. It is well known from experience what results such liberties have achieved in the state; for everywhere they have borne fruits which good and wise man rightly deplore. If such a state really exists anywhere or is imagined in our thoughts, which shamelessly and tyrannically persecutes the name of Christian, and that modern kind of state be compared with it, of which we are speaking, the latter may well seem the more tolerable. Yet the principles upon which it relies are certainly of such a kind, as we have said before, that in themselves they should be approved by no one.

Dz 1881 However, action may be concerned with private and domestic affairs or public affairs.--Certainly in private matters the first duty is to conform life and conduct most diligently to the precepts of the Gospel, and not to refuse to do so when Christian virtue exacts something more than ordinarily difficult to bear and endure. Furthermore, all should love the Church as their common mother; keep her laws obediently; promote her honor, and preserve her rights; and they should try to have her cherished and loved with equal devotion by those over whom they have any authority.

Dz 1882 It is also in the public interest to give attention wisely to the affairs of municipal administration, and in this to strive especially to effect that consideration be given publicly to the formation of youth in religion and in good conduct, in that manner which is right for Christians. On these things especially does the safety of the individual states depend.

Dz 1883 Likewise, it is, in general, beneficial and proper for Catholics to extend their attention further, beyond this, as it were, rather restricted field, and to take in the national government itself. We say "in general," because these precepts of Ours apply to all nations. But it can happen in some places that it is by no means expedient for weighty and just reasons to take part in national politics and to become active in political affairs. But, in general, as we have said, to be willing to take no part in public affairs would be as much at fault as to have no interest and to do nothing for the common good, and even more, because Catholics by the admonition of the very doctrine which they profess are impelled to carry on their affairs with integrity and trust. On the other hand, if they remain indifferent, those whose opinions carry very little hope for the safety of the state will easily seize the reins of government. And this also would be fraught with injury to the Christian religion, because those who were evilly disposed toward the Church would have the greatest power, and those well disposed the least.

Dz 1884 Therefore, it is very clear that the reason for Catholics entering public affairs is just, for they do not enter them nor ought they to do so for this reason, so as to approve that which at the moment is not honorable in the methods of public affairs, but to transfer these methods insofar as it can be done, to the genuine and true public good, having in mind the purpose of introducing into all the veins of the state, as a most healthful sap and blood, the wisdom and virtue of the Christian religion. . . .

Dz 1885 Lest the union of souls be broken by rash charges, let all understand the following: That the integrity of the Catholic faith can by no means exist along with opinions which border on naturalism and rationalism, the sum total of which is to tear Christian institutions from their foundations and to establish man's leadership in society, relegating God to second place.--

Likewise, that it is not lawful to follow one form of duty in private life, and another in public; for example, so that the authority of the Church is observed in private life, and cast aside in public. For this would be to combine the honorable and the shameful, and to place man in conflict with himself, when on the other hand he should always be in accord with himself, and never in anything or in any manner of life abandon Christian virtue.

Dz 1886 But if there is question merely of methods in politics, about the best kind of state, about ordering government in one way or another, surely, in these matters there can be an honorable difference of opinion. Therefore, a dissenting opinion in the matters which we have mentioned on the part of those men whose piety is otherwise known, and whose minds are ready to accept obediently the decrees of the Apostolic See, cannot in justice be considered a sin on their part; and a muck greater injury takes place, if they are faced with the charge of having violated or mistrusted the Catholic Faith, which we are sorry to say has taken place more than once.

Dz 1887 Let all who are accustomed to express their opinions in writing, and especially writers for newspapers, bear this precept in mind. In this struggle over most important matters, there can be no place for internal controversies or for party rivalries; and all should strive to preserve religion and the state, which is the common purpose of all. If, therefore, there have been any dissensions before, they should be obliterated by a kind voluntary oblivion; if hitherto there have been rash and injurious actions, those who are in any way to blame for this should make amends with mutual charity, and a kind of special submission should be made on the part of all to the Apostolic See.

Dz 1888 In this way Catholics will obtain two very excellent results: one, that of establishing themselves as helpers of the Church in preserving and propagating Christian wisdom; the other, that of bestowing upon civil society the greatest blessing, the preservation of which is imperiled by evil doctrines, and passions.

Craniotomy and Abortion *

[From the Response of the Holy Office the Archbishop of Lyons, May 31st, 1899 (May 28th 1884)]

3258 Dz 1889 To the question: Whether it can be safely taught in Catholic schools that the surgical operation which is called craniotomy is licit, when, of course, if it does not take place, the mother and child will perish; while on the other hand if it does take place, the mother is to be saved, while the child perishes?"

The reply is: "It cannot be safely taught."

[From the reply of the Holy Office to the Archbishop of Cambresis, August 19 1889]

Dz 1890 The reply is similar with the following addition: ". . . and every surgical operation that directly kills the fetus or the pregnant mother."

[From the reply of the Holy Office to the Archbishop of Cambresis, July 24, 25, 1895] *

3298 1890a When the doctor, Titius, was called to a pregnant woman who was seriously sick, he gradually realized that the cause of the deadly sickness was nothing else than pregnancy, that is, the presence of the fetus in the womb. Therefore, to save the mother from certain and imminent death one way presented itself to him, that of procuring an abortion, or ejection of the fetus. In the customary manner he adopted this way, but the means and operations applied did not tend to the killing of the fetus in the mother's womb, but only to its being brought forth to light alive, if it could possibly be done, although it would die soon, inasmuch as it was not mature.

Yet, despite what the Holy See wrote on August 19th 1889, in answer to the Archbishop of Cambresis, that it could not be taught safely that any operation causing the death of the fetus directly, even if this were necessary to save the mother, was licit, the doubting Titius clung to the licitness of surgical operations by which he not rarely procured the abortion, and thus saved pregnant women who were seriously sick.

Therefore, to put his conscience at rest Titius suppliantly asks: Whether he can safely repeat the above mentioned operations under the reoccurring circumstances.

The reply is:

In the negative, according to other decrees, namely, of the 28th day of May, 1884, and of 19th day of August, 1889.

But on the following Thursday, on the 25th day of July . . . our most holy Lord approved a resolution of the Most Eminent Fathers, as reported to him.

[From the reply of the Holy Office to the Bishop of Sinaboa, May 4, 6, 1898] *

3336 1890b I. Will the acceleration of the birth be licit, when because of the woman's structure the delivery of the fetus would be impossible at its own natural time?

3337 II. And, if the structure of the woman is such that not even a premature birth is considered possible, will it be permitted to cause an abortion, or to perform a Caesarean operation in its time?

3338 III. Is a laparotomy licit, when it is a matter of an extrauterine pregnancy, or of ectopic conceptions?

The reply is:

To I. That the acceleration of the birth per se is not illicit, provided it is performed for good reasons at that time, and according to the method by which under ordinary conditions consideration is given to the lives of the mother and the fetus.

To II. With respect to the first part, in the negative, according to the decree (issued) on Wednesday, the 24th of July, 1895, on the illicitness of abortion.--As to what pertains to the second part, nothing prevents the woman, who is concerned, from submitting to a Caesarean operation in due time.

To III.That when necessity presses, a laparotomy is licit for extracting ectopic conceptions from the womb of the mother, provided, insofar as it can be done, care is taken seriously and fittingly of the life of the fetus and that of the mother.

On the following Friday, the sixth day of the same month and year, His Supreme Holiness approved the responses of the Most Eminent and Reverend Fathers.

[From the reply of the Holy Office to the Dean of the faculty of theology of the university of Marienburg, the 5th of March, 1902] *

3358 1890 c To the question: "Whether it is at any time permitted to extract from the womb of the mother ectopic fetuses still immature, when the sixth month after conception has not passed?"

The reply is:

"In the negative, according to the decree of Wednesday, the 4th of May, 1898, by the force of which care must be taken seriously and fittingly, insofar as it can be done, for the life of the fetus and that of the mother; moreover, with respect to time, according to the same decree, the orator is reminded that no acceleration of the birth is licit, unless it be performed at the time and according to the methods by which in the ordinary course of events the life of the mother and that of the fetus are considered."

Denzinger EN 3146