When Popes Exposed and Denounced Doctrinal Ambiguity, the “Art of Deception.”

Auctorem Fidei, August 28, 1794, is a Bull issued by Pius VI in condemnation of the Gallican and Jansenist acts and tendencies of the Synod of Pistoia (1786)

In the introductory text the Pope exposed the method, the “art of deception,” as Pius X did again at the dawn of the twentieth century in 1907 in his encyclical condemning Modernism:

“… In order not to shock the ears of Catholics, the innovators sought to hide the subtleties of their tortuous maneuvers by the use of seemingly innocuous words such as would allow them to insinuate error into souls in the most gentle manner. Once the truth had been compromised, they could, by means of slight changes or additions in phraseology, distort the confession of the faith that is necessary for our salvation, and lead the faithful by subtle errors to their eternal damnation. This manner of dissimulating and lying is vicious, regardless of the circumstances under which it is used. For very good reasons it can never be tolerated in a synod of which the principal glory consists above all in teaching the truth with clarity and excluding all danger of error.

Moreover, if all this is sinful, it cannot be excused in the way that one sees it being done, under the erroneous pretext that the seemingly shocking affirmations in one place are further developed along orthodox lines in other places, and even in yet other places corrected; as if allowing for the possibility of either affirming or denying the statement, or of leaving it up the personal inclinations of the individual – such has always been the fraudulent and daring method used by innovators to establish error. It allows for both the possibility of promoting error and of excusing it.

It is as if the innovators pretended that they always intended to present the alternative passages, especially to those of simple faith who eventually come to know only some part of the conclusions of such discussions, which are published in the common language for everyone’s use. Or again, as if the same faithful had the ability on examining such documents to judge such matters for themselves without getting confused and avoiding all risk of error.

Pius VI

It is a most reprehensible technique for the insinuation of doctrinal errors and one condemned long ago by our predecessor St. Celestine who found it used in the writings of Nestorius, bishop of Constantinople, and which he exposed in order to condemn it with the greatest possible severity. Once these texts were examined carefully, the impostor was exposed and confounded, for he expressed himself in a plethora of words, mixing true things with others that were obscure; mixing at times one with the other in such a way that he was also able to confess those things which were denied while at the same time possessing a basis for denying those very sentences which he confessed.

In order to expose such snares, something which becomes necessary with a certain frequency in every century, no other method is required than the following:

Whenever it becomes necessary to expose statements that disguise some suspected error or danger under the veil of ambiguity, one must denounce the perverse meaning under which the error opposed to Catholic truth is camouflaged. The more freely We embraced a program of complete moderation, the more we foresaw that, in order to reconcile souls and bring them to the unity of spirit in the bond of peace (which, we are glad to say, has by God’s favor already happily occurred in many), it would be of enormous assistance to be prepared in case pertinacious sectarians of the synod – if any, God forbid, still remain…”

Note: Only a theologically restored Church one day can with authority determine what were the real poisons of heresies in our time as opposed to mere dangerous tendencies, and what was legitimate theological development. Until then we are warned against yielding to the temptations to seek solace in schism.

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More: No more traditional priesthood?

Dr. Ralph Martin. Crisis in the Church.