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Glossary of terms
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The description of this movement of dialogue and mutual exchange on religious questions with non-Catholics, and this on a basis of equality, is first made in a papal encyclical of Pope Pius XI, in Mortalium animos, (On Fostering True Religious Unity), published in 1928.

This is the pope’s description:

Assured that there exist few men who are entirely devoid of the religious sense, they seem to ground on this belief a hope that all nations, while differing indeed in religious matters, may yet without great difficulty be brought to fraternal agreement on certain points of doctrine which will form a common basis of the spiritual life. With this object, congresses, meetings, and addresses are arranged, attended by a large concourse of hearers, where all without distinction, unbelievers of every kind as well as Christians, even those who unhappily have rejected Christ and denied His divine nature or mission, are invited to join in the discussion. (§2)

Follows immediately afterwards the pope’s condemnation of "the panchristians", whose "fair and alluring words cloak a most grave error, subversive of the foundations of the Catholic Faith" (§3):

Such efforts can meet with no kind of approval among Catholics. They presuppose the erroneous view that all religions are more or less good and praiseworthy (this is the error of indifferentism), inasmuch as all give expression, under various forms, to that innate sense which leads men to God and to the obedient acknowledgment of His rule. Those who hold such a view are not only in error; they distort the true idea of religion, and thus reject it, falling gradually into naturalism and atheism. To favor this opinion, and to encourage such undertakings is tantamount to abandoning the religion revealed by God. (§2)

In his instruction On Ecumenism in 1949, Pope Pius XII ordered that, in opposition to such "dangerous indifferentism",

Catholic doctrine must be propounded and explained in its totality and in its integrity. It is not permitted to pass over in silence or to veil in ambiguous terms what is comprised in the Catholic truth on the true nature and stages of justification, on the constitution of the Church, on the primacy of jurisdiction of the Roman Pontiff, on the unique true union by the return of separated Christians to the one true Church of Christ.

And yet, this is precisely what has not been done since Vatican II, in attempting to follow the contrary request not to offend the sensitivities of our "separated brethren" in the Vatican II decree On Ecumenism (Unitatis Redintegratio). This is how that document defines Ecumenism, with none of the precautions laid out by Pope Pius XII against indifferentism:

The term "ecumenical movement" indicates the initiatives and activities encouraged and organized… to promote Christian unity (i.e., the apparent unity, outside the truth, of different denominations or churches getting along). These are: first, every effort to avoid expressions, judgments and actions which do not represent the condition of our separated brethren with truth and fairness and so make mutual relations with them more difficult.

The document also lists as other ecumenical activities dialogue, cooperation for the common good of humanity and common prayer (U.R. §4). These activities are all based upon the belief, already condemned in advance by Pope Pius XI, that all religions are more or less good or praiseworthy, expressed in this way in the Vatican II document on Ecumenism:

Separated communities and churches as such…have been by no means deprived of significance and importance in the mystery of salvation. For the spirit of Christ has not refrained from using them as means of salvation. (U.R. §3; NB: Clearly this leaves no place for the defined dogma, "Outside the Church, no salvation" Lateran IV, Ds 802)

Nor must it be thought that what is expounded in Encyclical Letters does not of itself demand consent, since in writing such letters the popes do not exercise the supreme power of their Teaching Authority. For…generally what is expounded and inculcated in Encyclical Letters already for other reasons appertains to Catholic doctrine. (§20).

However, since they do not invoke the full authority of the Church and are not infallible, they can be wrong. Needless to say they can only be rejected or refused if they are in direct contradiction with infallible teachings of the Church’s Magisterium. This is the case with the teachings of Vatican II, which refused to use its charisma of infallibility. It is an act of the Authentic Magisterium, which reiterates many dogmas infallibly taught by the Extraordinary and Ordinary Magisterium, but which also includes novelties, such as religious liberty, ecumenism and collegiality which must be refused because they are in direct contradiction with the Church’s previous teachings. e.g. Pius IX in Quanta Cura & Pius XI in Mortalium animos.

Taken from Questions & Answers by Fr. Peter Scott.

INCARDINATION (and excardination)

(Lat. cardo, a pivot, socket, or hinge - hence, incardinare, to hang on a hinge, or fix; excardinare, to unhinge, or set free).

In the ecclesiastical sense the words are used to denote that a given person is freed from the jurisdiction of one bishop and is transferred to that of another. The term cardinare is used by St. Gregory I (596-604), and incardinare, in the sense of inscribing a name on the list or matricula of a church, is found in the ancient Liber Diurnus of the Roman chancery. Excardination is the full and perpetual transference of a given person from the jurisdiction of one bishop to that of another. Incardination is canonical and perpetual enlistment in the new diocese to which a given person has been transferred by letters of excardination.

The Council of Trent is most clear in its legislation on these matters, as will be seen from the following:

Whereas no one ought to be ordained, who, in the judgment of his own bishop, is not useful or necessary for his churches, the Holy Synod, in the spirit of what was enjoined by the sixth canon of the Council of Chalcedon, ordains that no one shall for the future be ordained without being attached to that church, or pious place, for the need or utility of which he is promoted, where he shall discharge his duties, and may not wander about without any certain abode. And if he shall quit that place without having consulted the bishop, he shall be interdicted from the exercise of his sacred orders. Furthermore, no cleric, who is a stranger, shall, without letters commendatory from his own ordinary, be admitted by any bishop to celebrate the Divine mysteries and to administer the sacraments. (Sess. XXIII, "De Ref.", cap. xvi)

Excerpted from the 1913 edition of The Catholic Encyclopedia


The term given, in general, to all those theories, which, for one reason or another, deny that it is the duty of man to worship God by believing and practicing the one true religion. This religious Indifferentism is to be distinguished from political indifferentism, which is applied to the policy of a state that treats all the religions within its borders as being on an equal footing before the law of the country. Indifferentism is not to be confounded with religious indifference. The former is primarily a theory disparaging the value of religion; the latter term designates the conduct of those who, whether they do or do not believe in the necessity and utility of religion, do in fact neglect to fulfill its duties.


Under the above general definition come those philosophic systems which reject the ultimate foundation of all religion, that is, man's acknowledgment of his dependence on a personal creator, whom, in consequence of this dependence, he is bound to reverence, obey, and love. This error is common to all atheistic, materialistic, pantheistic, and agnostic philosophies... if the human mind is incapable of attaining certitude as to whether God exists or not, or is even unable to form any valid idea of God, it follows that religious worship is a mere futility...


In distinction from this absolute Indifferentism, a restricted form of the error admits the necessity of religion on account, chiefly, of its salutary influence on human life. But it holds that all religions are equally worthy and profitable to man, and equally pleasing to God. The classic advocate of this theory is Rousseau, who maintains, in his Emile, that God looks only to the sincerity of intention, and that everybody can serve Him by remaining in the religion in which he has been brought up, or by changing it at will for any other that pleases him more (Emile, III).

This doctrine is widely advocated today [this article was written in 1913] on the grounds that, beyond the truth of God's existence, we can attain to no certain religious knowledge; and that, since God has left us thus in uncertainty, He will be pleased with whatever form of worship we sincerely offer Him... The fact is that this type of Indifferentism, though verbally acknowledging the excellence and utility of religion, nevertheless, when pressed by logic, recoils into absolute Indifferentism. "All religions are equally good" comes to mean, at bottom, that religion is good for nothing.


...[This type of Liberalism] ...while acknowledging the unique Divine origin and character of Christianity, and its consequent immeasurable superiority over all rival religions, holds that what particular Christian Church or sect one belongs to is an indifferent matter; all forms of Christianity are on the same footing, all are equally pleasing to God and serviceable to man...

Indifferentism springs from Rationalism.

...Rationalism ...[is] the principle that reason is the sole judge and discoverer of religious truth as of all other kinds of truth. It is the antithesis of the principle of authority which asserts that God, by a supernatural revelation, has taught man religious truths that are inaccessible to our mere unaided reason, as well as other truths which, though not absolutely beyond the native powers of reason, yet could not by reason alone be brought home to the generality of men with the facility, certitude, and freedom from error required for the right ordering of life.

From the earliest ages of the Church the rationalistic spirit manifested itself in various heresies. During the Middle Ages it infected the teachings of many notable philosophers and theologians of the schools, and reigned unchecked in the Moorish centers of learning. Its influence may be traced through the Renaissance to the rise of the Reformation.

From the beginning of the Reformation the rationalistic current flowed with ever-increasing volume through two distinct channels, which, though rising apart, have been gradually approaching each other:

  • The one operated through purely philosophic thought which, wherever it set itself free from the authority of the Church, has on the whole served to display what has been justly called the "all-corroding, all-dissolving scepticism of the intellect in religious matters".

  • Rationalistic speculation gave rise successively to the English Deism of the eighteenth century, to the school of the French Encyclopaedists and their descendants, and to the various German systems of anti-Christian thought. It has culminated in the prevalent materialistic, monistic, and agnostic philosophies of today...

Indifferentism, liberal and infidel, has been vigorously promoted during the past half century [of the 19th century!] by the dominance of Rationalism in all the lines of scientific inquiry which touch upon religion.

  • The theory of evolution applied to the origin of man,

  • Biblical criticism of the Old and New Testament,

  • the comparative study of religions,

  • archaeology,

  • and ethnology,

in the hands of men who assume as their primary postulate that there is no supernatural, and that all religions, Christianity included, are but the offspring of the feeling and thought of the natural man, have propagated a general atmosphere of doubt or positive unbelief.

As a result, large numbers of Protestants have abandoned all distinctly Christian belief, while others, still clinging to the name, have emptied their creed of all its essential dogmatic contents. The doctrine of Scriptural inspiration and inerrancy is all but universally abandoned. It would not, perhaps, be incorrect to say that the prevalent view today is that Christ taught no dogmatic doctrine, His teaching was purely ethical, and its only permanent and valuable content is summed up in the Fatherhood of God and the brotherhood of man. When this point is reached the Indifferentism which arose in belief joins hands with the Indifferentism of infidelity. The latter substitutes for religion, the former advocates as the only essential of religion, the broad fundamental principles of natural morality, such as justice, veracity, and benevolence that takes concrete form in social service. In some minds this theory of life is combined with Agnosticism, in others with a vague Theism, while in many it is still united with some vestiges of the Christian Faith...

...The only effective barrier to resist its [liberalism's] triumphant march, leading scepticism in its train, is the principle of authority embodied in the Catholic Church...

Excerpted from the 1913 edition of The Catholic Encyclopedia


A free way of thinking and acting in private and public life.

The word liberal is derived from the Latin liber, free, and up to the end of the eighteenth century signified only "worthy of a free man", so that people spoke of "liberal arts", "liberal occupations". Later the term was applied also to those qualities of intellect and of character, which were considered an ornament becoming those who occupied a higher social position on account of their wealth and education. Thus liberal got the meaning of intellectually independent, broad-minded, magnanimous, frank, open, and genial.

Again Liberalism may also mean a political system or tendency opposed to centralization and absolutism. In this sense Liberalism is not at variance with the spirit and teaching of the Catholic Church. Since the end of the eighteenth century, however, the word has been applied more and more to certain tendencies in the intellectual, religious, political, and economical life, which implied a partial or total emancipation of man from the supernatural, moral, and Divine order.

Usually, the principles of 1789, that is of the French Revolution, are considered as the Magna Charta of this new form of Liberalism. The most fundamental principle asserts an absolute and unrestrained freedom of thought, religion, conscience, creed, speech, press, and politics. The necessary consequences of this are:

  1. on the one hand, the abolition of the Divine right and of every kind of authority derived from God; the relegation of religion from the public life into the private domain of one's individual conscience; the absolute ignoring of Christianity and the Church as public, legal, and social institutions;

  2. on the other hand, the putting into practice of the absolute autonomy of every man and citizen, along all lines of human activity, and the concentration of all public authority in one "sovereignty of the people". This sovereignty of the people in all branches of public life as legislation, administration, and jurisdiction, is to be exercised in the name and by order of all the citizens, in such a way, that all should have share in and a control over it.

A fundamental principle of Liberalism is the proposition: "It is contrary to the natural, innate, and inalienable right and liberty and dignity of man, to subject himself to an authority, the root, rule, measure, and sanction of which is not in himself". This principle implies the denial of all true authority; for authority necessarily presupposes a power outside and above man to bind him morally.

These tendencies, however, were more or less active long before 1789; indeed, they are coeval with the human race. Modern Liberalism adopts and propagates them under the deceiving mask of Liberalism in the true sense. As a direct offspring of Humanism and the Reformation in the fifteenth and sixteenth centuries, modern Liberalism was further developed by the philosophers and literati of England especially Locke and Hume, by Rousseau and the Encyclopedists in France, and by Lessing and Kant in Germany...

(B) Ecclesiastical Liberalism (Liberal Catholicism)

  1. The prevailing political form of modern Liberal Catholicism, is that which would regulate the relations of the Church to the State and modern society in accordance with the Liberal principles as expounded by Benjamin Constant. It had its predecessors and patterns in Gallicanism, Febronianism, and Josephinism. Founded 1828 by Lamennais, the system was later defended in some respects by Lacordaire, Montalembert, Parisis, Dupanloup, and Falloux.

  2. The more theological and religious form of Liberal Catholicism had its predecessors in Jansenism and Josephinism; it aims at certain reforms in ecclesiastical doctrine and discipline in accordance with the anti-ecclesiastical liberal Protestant theory and atheistical "science and enlightenment" prevailing at the time.

The newest phases of this Liberalism were condemned by Pius X as Modernism. In general it advocates latitude in interpreting dogma, oversight or disregard of the disciplinary and doctrinal decrees of the Roman Congregations, sympathy with the State even in its enactments against the liberty of the Church, in the action of her bishops, clergy, religious orders and congregations, and a disposition to regard as clericalism the efforts of the Church to protect the rights of the family and of individuals to the free exercise of religion...


By proclaiming man's absolute autonomy in the intellectual, moral and social order, Liberalism denies, at least practically, God and supernatural religion. If carried out logically, it leads even to a theoretical denial of God, by putting deified mankind in place of God. It has been censured in the condemnations of Rationalism and Naturalism.

The most solemn condemnation of Naturalism and Rationalism was contained in the Constitution De Fide of the Vatican Council (1870); the most explicit and detailed condemnation, however, was administered to modern Liberalism by Pius IX in the Encyclical Quanta cura of 8 December, 1864 and the attached Syllabus.

Pius X condemned it again in his allocution of 17 April, 1907, and in the Decree of the Congregation of the Inquisition of 3 July, 1907, in which the principal errors of Modernism were rejected and censured in sixty-five propositions. The older and principally political form of false Liberal Catholicism had been condemned by the Encyclical of Gregory XVI, Mirari Vos, of 15 August, 1832 and by many briefs of Pius IX.

The definition of the papal infallibility by the Vatican council was virtually a condemnation of Liberalism. Besides this many recent decisions concern the principal errors of Liberalism. Of great importance in this respect are the allocutions and encyclicals of Pius IX, Leo XIII, and Pius X and the encyclicals of Leo XIII:

  • of January 20, 1888, On Human Liberty;

  • of April 21, 1878, On the Evils of Modern Society;

  • of December 28, 1878, On the Sects of the Socialists, Communists, and Nihilists;

  • of August 4, 1879, On Christian Philosophy;

  • of February 10, 1880, On Matrimony;

  • of July 29, 1881, On the Origin of Civil Power;

  • of April 20, 1884, On Freemasonry;

  • of November 1, 1885, On the Christian State;

  • of December 25, 1888, On the Christian Life;

  • of January 10, 1890, On the Chief Duties of a Christian Citizen;

  • of May 15, 1891, On the Social Question;

  • of January 20, 1894, On the Importance of Unity in Faith and Union with the Church for the Preservation of the Moral Foundations of the State;

  • of March 19, 1902, On the Persecution of the Church all over the World.

Full information about the relation of the Church towards Liberalism in the different countries may be gathered from the transactions and decisions of the various provincial councils. These can be found in the Collectio Lacensis under the headings of the index: Fides, Ecclesia, Educatio, Francomuratores.

Excerpted from the 1913 edition of The Catholic Encyclopedia


"The synthesis of all heresies" Pascendi Gregis.

Etymologically, modernism means an exaggerated love of what is modern, an infatuation for modern ideas... In general we may say that modernism aims at that radical transformation of human thought in relation to God, man, the world, and life, here and hereafter, which was prepared by Humanism and eighteenth-century philosophy, and solemnly promulgated at the French Revolution. Perin (1815-1905), a professor at the University of Louvain (from 1844-1889) described modernism as: "the humanitarian tendencies of contemporary society," while he defines the term itself as, "the ambition to eliminate God from all social life."

Pope St. Pius X solemnly condemned modernism in his papal encyclical, Pascendi Gregis in 1910 and set a watchdog over all Catholic seminaries and universities to ensure that it could not be propagated amongst the clergy and the laity.

Unfortunately, modernism entered into the Catholic Church by means of infiltration and finally in an open manner during the Second Vatican Council.

Excerpted in part from the 1913 edition of The Catholic Encyclopedia

(Lat. preaconizare, to publish, from praeco, herald, public crier).

This word means:

  1. In its strict juridical sense the ratification in a public consistory of the choice made by a third person of a titular of a consistorial benefice, e.g., a bishopric. The Pope approves the election or postulation of the titular made by a chapter, or ratifies the presentation of a candidate made by the civil power ...

Excerpted in part from the 1913 edition of The Catholic Encyclopedia

From sygkretizein (not from sygkerannynai.)

An explanation is given by Plutarch in a small work on brotherly love (Opera Moralia, ed. Reiske, VII, 910). He there tells how the Cretans were often engaged in quarrels among themselves, but became immediately reconciled when an external enemy approached. "And that is their so-called Syncretism."  In the sixteenth century the term became known through the Adagia of Erasmus, and came into use to designate the coherence of dissenters in spite of their difference of opinions, especially with reference to theological divisions. Later, when the term came to be referred to sygkerannynai, it was inaccurately employed to designate the mixture of dissimilar or incompatible things or ideas. This inexact use continues to some extent even today... © 2013                    home                    contact