Nostis et Nobiscum
Encyclical of Pope Pius IX
on the Church in the Pontifical States
To the Archbishops and
Venerable Brothers, We Give You Greetings and Our Apostolic Blessing.
You know as We do, venerable brothers, the recent wrongdoing which has
strengthened some wretched enemies of all truth, justice and honor, who strive
both openly and deceitfully with plots of every sort to spread their disorders
everywhere among the faithful people of
2. Subsequently, the
3. These enemies of
the Church usually employ a variety of deceits for turning the spirits of the
Italian people away from the Catholic faith. For instance, they shamelessly
affirm and cry it abroad that the Catholic religion is opposed to the glory,
greatness and prosperity of the Italian nation. So
they say that Protestantism should be brought in, set up and increased to
replace Catholicism. Then
4. In fact, there is
great spiritual advantage in being transferred from
the power of darkness to the light of God, thereby being justified by grace and
becoming heirs of Christ in our hope of eternal life. This advantage for souls
is, of course, so worthwhile that all the glory and blessedness of this world must be reckoned as nothing in comparison with it. "For
what does it profit a man if he gains the whole world but suffers the loss of
his soul? Or what exchange will a man make for his soul?"(1) But it is
untrue that the temporal losses of the Italian race occurred because they
professed the true faith. This race should indeed reckon among the benefits it
received from the Catholic religion the fact that at the collapse of the
5. From this
exceptional privilege of possessing the Apostolic See and the consequent deep roots which the Catholic religion has put down among the
6. You are aware indeed, that the goal of this most iniquitous plot is to drive people to overthrow the entire order of human affairs and to draw them over to the wicked theories of this Socialism and Communism, by confusing them with perverted teachings. But these enemies realize that they cannot hope for any agreement with the Catholic Church, which allows neither tampering with truths proposed by faith, nor adding any new human fictions to them. This is why they try to draw the Italian people over to Protestantism, which in their deceit they repeatedly declare to be only another form of the same true religion of Christ, thereby just as pleasing to God. Meanwhile they know full well that the chief principle of the Protestant tenets, i.e., that the holy scriptures are to be understood by the personal judgment of the individual, will greatly assist their impious cause. They are confident that they can first misuse the holy scriptures by wrong interpretation to spread their errors and claim God's authority while doing it. Then they can cause men to call into doubt the common principles of justice and honor.
7. But do not let
8. By the secret judgment
of God, We and you have been detailed to fight this
critical danger. We must beware of dreading the deceit and attacks of the men
who plot against the faith of
9. So that all their
efforts may be fruitless, sufficiently instruct the laity in Christian doctrine
and the law of the Lord. Hopefully, they are not too
weakened by long license in manifold and increasing vices to be able to
recognize the snares laid for them and also the vileness of the errors proposed
to them. So We earnestly require you, in your pastoral
care, to ceaselessly ensure that the faithful entrusted to you are carefully
taught the holy doctrines and precepts of our religion in accordance with their
individual capacity; exhort and inspire them in every way to conform their
lives and morals to these norms. For this purpose, inflame the zeal of the
Churchmen, who care for these souls. Instruct them to reflect seriously on
their ministry, to keep in view the prescripts of the Council of
10. In particular, ensure that the faithful are deeply and thoroughly convinced of the truth of the doctrine that the Catholic faith is necessary for attaining salvation.(4) The Catholic laity and clergy should repeatedly offer special thanks to God in public prayers for the priceless gift of the Catholic religion. They should also beseech God to protect the profession of this faith in our country and to keep it unharmed.
11. Meanwhile, ensure that all the faithful receive from you at the proper time the sacrament of Confirmation; this confers the strength of special grace for the steadfast profession of the Catholic faith in times of trouble. It would also be helpful if the faithful, cleansed of their sins by the sacrament of Penance, devoutly receive more frequently the most holy sacrament of the Eucharist. The Eucharist contains spiritual food and the antidote to free us from daily faults and keep us from mortal sin. Furthermore, it is the symbol of Christ's Church which He hopes will unite us by faith, hope and charity; as the result of this unity, we should all say the same thing and there should be no divisions among us.(5)
12. Indeed, We do not doubt that parish priests and their helpers, and other priests who are usually appointed to the ministry of preaching on particular days, especially in periods of fasting, will earnestly aid your labor in all these affairs. Still their efforts should be supplemented from time to time by the extraordinary measures of spiritual exercises and holy missions. These will nourish the piety of good people and stir sinners to saving penitence, even those who have been depraved for a long time. As a result, the faithful people will grow in the knowledge of God, bear fruit in every good work, and steadfastly abhor the perverted teachings of the Church's enemies.
13. But in all these affairs, one of your aims should be to instill in the faithful a greater aversion for sins which scandalize others; your priests should share this aim. You are aware of the increase in the number of those who sin in a scandalous manner: those who blaspheme the heavenly saints and the holy name of God as well; those who live in concubinage and sometimes in incest; those who openly do servile work on holy days; those who despise in the presence of many the precepts of the Church on fasting and the selection of food; and those who shamelessly commit various other sins in the same way. So, make the faithful consider the seriousness of sins of this kind and the heavy penalties for them, both for the guilt of the sin itself and for the spiritual danger in which they place their brothers by the infection of their bad example. For it is written: "Woe to the world because of scandals . . . Woe to that man by whom the scandal comes!"(6)
14. The crafty enemies of the Church and human society attempt to seduce the people in many ways. One of their chief methods is the misuse of the new technique of book-production. They are wholly absorbed in the ceaseless daily publication and proliferation of impious pamphlets, newspapers and leaflets which are full of lies, calumnies and seduction. Furthermore, under the protection of the Bible Societies which have long since been condemned by this Holy See,(7) they distribute to the faithful under the pretext of religion, the holy bible in vernacular translations. Since these infringe the Church's rules,(8) they are consequently subverted and most daringly twisted to yield a vile meaning. So you realize very well what vigilant and careful efforts you must make to inspire in your faithful people an utter horror of reading these pestilential books. Remind them explicitly with regard to divine scripture that no man, relying on his own wisdom, is able to claim the privilege of rashly twisting the scriptures to his own meaning in opposition to the meaning which holy mother Church holds and has held. It was the Church alone that Christ commissioned to guard the deposit of the faith and to decide the true meaning and interpretation of the divine pronouncements.(9)
15. In order to check the contagion of bad books, it would be useful if your clerics who are renowned for sound doctrine likewise publish short works, to build up the faith to instruct the people. You would, of course, have to approve these before publication. Distribute these works and other useful and doctrinally sound authors among the faithful.
16. All who defend the faith should aim to implant deeply in your faithful people the virtues of piety, veneration, and respect for this supreme See of Peter. Let the faithful recall the fact that Peter, Prince of Apostles is alive here and rules in his successors,(10) and that his office does not fail even in an unworthy heir.(11) Let them recall that Christ the Lord placed the impregnable foundation of his Church on this See of Peter(12) and gave to Peter himself the keys of the kingdom of Heaven.(13) Christ then prayed that his fait would not fail, and commanded Peter to strengthen his brothers in the faith.(14)Consequently the successor of Peter, the Roman Pontiff, holds a primacy over the whole world and is the true Vicar of Christ, head of the whole Church and father and teacher of all Christians.(15)
17. Indeed one simple
way to keep men professing Catholic truth is to maintain their communion with
and obedience to the Roman Pontiff. For it is impossible for a man ever to
reject any portion of the Catholic faith without abandoning the authority of
the Roman Church. In this authority, the unalterable teaching office of this
faith lives on. It was set up by the divine Redeemer
and, consequently, the tradition from the Apostles has always been preserved. So it has been a common characteristic both of the ancient
heretics and of the more recent Protestants—whose disunity in all their other
tenets is so great—to attack the authority of the Apostolic See. But never at any time were they able by any artifice or
exertion to make this See tolerate even a single one of their errors. For this reason the enemies of God and human society at the present
time are making every attempt to tear the Italian people from their allegiance
to Us and to this Holy See. They think, no doubt, that then at last, they could
have the good fortune of contaminating
18. As regards this
teaching and these theories, it is now generally known
that the special goal of their proponents is to introduce to the people the
pernicious fictions of Socialism and Communism by misapplying the
terms "liberty" and "equality." The final goal shared by
these teachings, whether of Communism or Socialism, even if
approached differently, is to excite by continuous disturbances workers and
others, especially those of the lower class, whom they have deceived by their
lies and deluded by the promise of a happier condition. They are preparing them
for plundering, stealing, and usurping first the Church's and then everyone's
property. After this they will profane all law, human
and divine, to destroy divine worship and to subvert the entire ordering of
civil societies. In this critical period for
19. Therefore, warn your faithful that the very nature of human society obligates its members to obey its lawfully established authority; nothing in the precepts of the Lord on this subject, which are proclaimed in holy scripture, can be altered. For it is written: "Be subject to every human institution for God's sake, to the king as supreme or to governors as sent by him to punish wrongdoers and to praise those who do right. For it is God's will that by doing right, you should put to silence the ignorance of foolish men. Be as free men, yet without using freedom as a pretext for evil, but be as servants of God."(16) And again: "Let ever soul be subject to the higher authorities. For there is no authority except from God, and those that exist have been instituted by God. Therefore, he who resists authority resists what God has appointed, and those who resist will incur their own condemnation."(17)
20. Let them furthermore know that it is likewise a mark of the natural, and so of the immutable, condition of human affairs that even among those who are not in higher authority, some surpass others in different endowments of mind or body or in riches and such external goods; therefore it can never be lawful under any pretext of liberty or equality to usurp or injure in any way the good or rights of other men. Divine precepts on this subject are clear and can be found throughout the holy scriptures. They forbid us strictly even to desire the goods of other men, much less seize them.(18)
21. In addition, let the poor and all the wretched recall their great debt to the Catholic religion which keeps the teaching of Christ unspoiled and preaches it publicly. For He proclaimed that whatever benefits are conferred on the poor and wretched are likewise conferred on Himself.(19) Furthermore, He wishes that all be informed of the special account He will take of these works of mercy on the Day of Judgment; that is, He will give the gift of eternal life to the faithful who engaged in works of mercy, and He will punish with eternal fire those who neglected them.(20)
22. This proclamation of Christ and His other stern warnings on the use of wealth and its dangers(21) have meant that the condition of the poor and wretched in Catholic nations is much less harsh than in any other nations. The poor would receive even greater aid if the many institutions which our pious ancestors established for their relief had not been closed down or plundered in the recent recurrent public demonstrations. Let Our poor recall the teaching of Christ Himself that they should not be sad at their condition, since their very poverty makes lighter their journey to salvation, provided that they bear their need with patience and are poor not alone in possessions, but in spirit too. For He says: "Blessed are the poor in spirit, for theirs is the kingdom of heaven."(22)
23. All the faithful should know too that the old kings of the pagan nations and other chiefs of state misused their power in more serious ways and more often. The faithful should reckon it to the credit of our most holy religion that princes in Christian times feared "the stern judgment in store for governors," and the eternal punishment prepared for sinners, in which "the strong will suffer strong torments."(23) Because of this fear, they have ruled the peoples subject to them more justly and clemently.
24. Finally, let the faithful recognize that Christian law protects true liberty and equality. God Almighty, who has made "the small and the great" and who "takes equal care of everyone,"(24) "will not withdraw from anyone nor fear anyone's greatness."(25) He has established a day "on which He will judge the world in justice"(26) in His Only-Begotten Son Christ Jesus, "who will come in the glory of His Father with His angels and will then make return to each man according to his works."(27)
But if the faithful scorn both the fatherly warnings of their pastors and the
commandments of the Christian Law recalled here, and if they let themselves be
deceived by the present-day promoters of plots, deciding to work with them in
their perverted theories of Socialism and Communism, let them
know and earnestly consider what they are laying up for themselves. The Divine Judge will
seek vengeance on the day of wrath. Until then no temporal benefit for the
people will result from their conspiracy, but rather new increases of misery
and disaster. For man is not empowered to establish new societies and unions
which are opposed to the nature of mankind. If these
conspiracies spread throughout
the life and example of the clergy help keep the faithful safe from the snares
of the impious in their profession of the Catholic religion and help stir them
to the works of true virtue. But, alas! there have been in
27. Properly organized
monasteries convey great honor and benefit for the
28. To turn now to the selection of the secular clergy, We wish chiefly to recommend that you instruct and educate young clerics, since most suitable ministers of the Church are those who from their earliest years have been duly molded for these sacred duties. Continue then your energetic efforts to recruit very young men for God's holy army. Then nurture them in religion, modesty, innocence of life, and ecclesiastical spirit. At the same time teach them literature and the major and minor fields of study, especially the sacred ones. Their teachers should be carefully selected and should follow doctrine which is free from all danger of error.
29. It is unlikely that you will succeed in educating all young clerics in seminaries. The other young men in the lay state certainly pertain to your pastoral care also. Therefore be vigilant, with regard to all other schools, both public and private. Strive to ensure that their studies conform to the standard of Catholic teaching. Furthermore, see to it that the students are educated by suitable teachers. The students also must be taught to recognize the snares laid for them by the impious, to avoid their pernicious errors, and so to adorn and benefit themselves and the Christian and civil commonwealth.
30. In these matters, you have authority over professors of the sacred disciplines and all other matters which belong to religion or closely pertain to it. See to it that in the entire program of the schools and especially in the matters which belong to religion, books are provided which are free from the suspicion of every error. Advise those who care for souls to be your continuous helpers in matters concerning schools for the very young. Appoint respectable male and female teachers and provide only books approved by this Holy See. Ministers should themselves set an example by daily instructing boys in the rudiments of Christian doctrine. Furthermore, they should take this instruction seriously.(30) Advise these men, that when they are instructing, to keep in view the Roman Catechism, which was published by a decree of the Council of Trent and the order of St. Pius V Our Predecessor of immortal memory. Other supreme pontiffs, to name one, Clement XIII of happy memory, recommended this book as "a most suitable aid for removing the deceits of bad opinions and for spreading and establishing true and sound doctrine."(31)
31. You will hardly be surprised, venerable brothers, that We have written on these subjects with a slightly too fluent pen. For you know that in these dangerous days, We must strive together with every effort and resolve, and must be vigilant in every matter which pertains to schools and the education of the young, both male and female. For you know that our enemies diabolically try to pervert young minds and hearts from their earliest years. And for this reason they try to remove schools completely from the authority of the Church and the watchfulness of its holy pastors.
32. In addition, We strongly hope that the political leaders of Italy will support you with their powerful protection in performing your duty more fruitfully in all these matters, and that they will also protect the Church and all its rights, both spiritual and temporal. This indeed would befit their religion and the piety of their ancestors, which obviously inspires them in an exemplary way. Furthermore, they realize that the evils that afflict us so grievously originate in the losses, which for a long time now, but especially since the rise of Protestantism, have been inflicted on religion and the Catholic Church. They see clearly that when the authority of bishops is oppressed and when increasing numbers of men infringe divine and ecclesiastical commandments without penalty, then the respect of the people for civil authority is likewise diminished. Similarly, the present enemies of public calm instigate revolts against the government more easily. They observe too that the frequent seizure, robbery and open sale of temporal goods which belong to the Church shows a decrease in the people's respect for property consecrated to the use of religion. Consequently the men who rashly proclaim Socialism and Communism find many prepared to listen to them when they falsely claim that in other similar cases, the property of others can be taken and divided or in some other way turned to the use of everyone. They furthermore observe that the long-standing impediments preventing the pastors of the Church from exercising their sacred authority freely are now gradually affecting civil authority. Finally, they observe that there is no readier or more effective remedy for the disasters which harry us than to make religion and the Catholic Church flourish again throughout Italy; in the Church, there is no doubt that men will get immediate and appropriate aid in accordance with their condition and need.
33. For, to use the
34. Therefore, it is
our mutual duty to spare no effort and to shrink from no problem in protecting
the practice of the Catholic religion among the Italian people. It is also our
duty to eagerly resist the attempts of the impious who are engaged in
since every good gift and every perfect gift comes down from above, let us
ceaselessly supplicate and entreat the heavenly Father of lights and mercies,
in public and private prayers, to turn His face from our sins and graciously
illuminate the minds and hearts of all with the strength of His grace. May He
gather to Himself the wills of rebels and enlarge His holy Church with new
victories and triumphs, so that in all
Finally, venerable brothers, receive Our Apostolic Blessing as an indication of Our eager benevolence towards you. With deep feeling We impart it lovingly to yourselves and to the clergy and faithful laity who are entrusted to your watchfulness.
1. Mt 16.26.
2. St. Leo the Great, epistle to Rusticus, Bishop of Narbonne.
3. Sess. 5, chap. 2--session 24, chaps. 4 and 7 on Reformation.
4. This doctrine, received from Christ and emphasized by the Fathers and Councils, is also contained in the formulae of rhe profession of faith used by Latin, Greek, and Oriental Catholics.
5. Council of
6. Mt 18.
7. On this matter, apart from earlier decrees there is the encyclical letter of Gregory XVI Inter praecipuas machinationes (8 May 1844) whose sanctions We upheld in Our encyclical letter (9 November 1846).
8. See Rule 4 of the Rules drawn up by a committee of Council Fathers at Trent and approved by Pius IV in the constitution Dominici gregis (24 March 1564) and the addition made to it (17 June 1757) by the Congregation of the Index by authority of Benedict XIV. (This addition is usually placed in the front of the Index of Forbidden Books.)
9. Council of
10. Council of Ephesus Acts 3 and St. Peter Chrysologus' epistle to Eutyches.
11. Leo the Great, Sermon on anniversary of his elevation.
12. Mt 16.18.
13. Mt 16.19.
14. Lk 22.31-32.
15. Council of
16.I Pt 2.13f.
18. Ex 20.45, 17. Dt 5.19, 21.
19.Mt 18.15; 25.40-45.
21.Mt 19.23f--Lk 6.4; 18.22f--Jas 5.1f.
22. Mt 5.3.
26. Acts 17.31.
27. Mt 16.27.
29. I Tm 5.22.
30. Council of Trent, session 24, 4--Benedict XIV, constitution Etsi minime, 7 February 1742.
31. In his