I’m taking a Church history course on Modernism and read the 1907 encyclical of Pope Pius X, Pascendi doninici gregis. It helped me understand the division of science and faith in modern culture and how that division affected the division of Church and State. It all started with the rejection of Divine Revelation as objective, external truth. Pope Piux X called it “the synthesis of all heresies” and a poison. “And having struck at this root of immortality, they proceed to disseminate poison through the whole tree.” The reasoning goes like this.
Truth resides in the individual consciousness as sentiment or experience, something subjective. Divine Truth is reduced to whatever an individual believes God is telling him.
That single false assertion is responsible for the perceived separation of science and faith. Science is limited to the external physical world, while faith is limited to individual internal sentiments. The two, therefore, are necessarily unconnected, strangers to each other. Since science is an evolving discipline that changes as scientists develop new theories, dogma is also expected to change with the times, and it therefore becomes subordinated to science if the two are ever to be reconciled.
The encyclical says that the Church, queen in all matters and instituted by God, has an obligation and duty towards civil societies because truth sets man free. Modernism repudiates that doctrine and holds that since the State is temporal and all religions are spiritual matters, the Church and State have nothing to do with each other, and subordinates the Church to the State just as faith is subjected to science. The Catholic, unfortunately, is separated from the citizen. According to Modernist thinking, Catholics have the right to do what they think is best for the common good without troubling themselves about the authority of the Church. Sound familiar? Pope Pius X explicitly called this an “abuse of ecclesiastical authority.”
A century later, here we are. As predicted, the State is telling the Church to reform or be punished. It also seems the solution to this heavy problem is the same as it always has been – pray, hope, and evangelize. Now that I understand why rejecting objective truth logically leads people and societies to reject God, I know to be even more vigilant in defending it with strength and courage, to proclaim publicly a profound respect for Church authority without compromise. That’s the antidote to counteract the poison. Live your faith boldly, because if faith isn’t everything, it’s nothing.
Category: Catholic Free Press