The Pope fears error within the Church
IN an encyclical letter, "Humani Generis," issued last Monday, the Pope warns the Hierarchy of the Church against certain false opinions and ideas which—in his own words—"threaten to undermine the foundations of Catholic doctrine."
Because new opinions can entice the incautious, the Pope has decided "to withstand the very beginnings rather than to administer the medicine after the disease has grown inveterate."
The Holy Father began by noting that he was not surprised such discord and error should always have existed "outside the fold of Christ."
"The human intellect in gaining knowledge of truths concerning God and relations between God and men is hampered by the imagination, and by evil passions arising from original sin.
"Thus it happens that men persuade themselves in such matters that those things are either false or at least doubtful but they do not wish to believe as true!"
The Pope went on to emphasise that the human intellect sometimes experiences difficulties in deciding about the credibility of the Catholic faith. Prejudice, passion, or bad faith made it possible for him to deny the clear evidence of external signs, and even the inspiration ordered by God into the soul.
If we examine the modern world outside the Christian fold, it will readily he seen what arc the principal ways learned men are following. Some of them imprudently and indiscreetly uphold the system of evolution as the origin of all things. although that system has not been completely proved even in the field of natural sciences.
" And they rashly support the monistic and pantheistic theory of a world that it is in continual evolution. The Communists willingly use this hypothesis to defend and propagate their own dialectical materialism and to blot out from the mind all idea of God."
The false affirmations of evolution. he said, had " paved the way for a new philosophy called existentialism, concerned only with the existence of individual things since it repudiated all consideration of their unchangeable nature."
The Pope also mentioned the false philosophy of " historicism which is concerned only with the events of human life and undermines the basis of all truth and absolute laws both in the field of philosophy and in that of Christian dogma."
Turning to the paradoxical tradition of some who have reacted from modern rationalism and now wanted to " acknowledge and profess the Word of God as the foundation of all religious teaching" but who at the same time underrated the value of human reason, the Pope declared: "This attitude is not only plainly at variance with Holy Scripture but is shown to be false by experience also."
The Pope then considered the position and the responsibilities of Catholic theologians and philosophers " whose grave duty it is to defend natural and supernatural truth and instil it in the hearts of men.
" They cannot afford to ignore or neglect these more or less false theories.
" Rather they must come to understand these same theories well, both because diseases cannot be cured if they are not rightly diagnosed and because sometimes even in these false theories there may be a little truth, and finally because these theories provoke the mind to more thorough investigation of
(Continued on page 8)