Decrees of the First Vatican Council
Pope Pius IX
A Detailed Profession of Faith
I, Pius, bishop of the Catholic Church, with firm faith believe and profess each and every article contained in the profession of faith which the holy Roman Church uses, namely:
I believe in one God the Father almighty,
maker of heaven and earth,
of all things seen and unseen.
And in one Lord Jesus Christ the only-begotten Son of God.
Born of the Father before all ages.
God from God, light from light, true God from true God.
Begotten not made, of one substance with the Father:
through whom all things were made.
Who for us humans and for our salvation came down from heaven.
He was incarnate by the Holy Spirit of the virgin Mary: and became man.
He was crucified also for us, he suffered under Pontius Pilate and was buried.
The third day he rose again according to the scriptures.
He ascended into heaven and sits at the right hand of the Father.
He shall come again with glory to judge the living and the dead,
and of his kingdom there shall be no end.
And in the holy Spirit, the Lord and the giver of life,
who proceeds from the Father and the Son.
Who together with the Father and the Son is adored and glorified:
who spoke through the prophets.
And one holy, catholic, and apostolic Church.
I confess one baptism for the remission of Sins.
And I look for the resurrection of the dead. And the life of the world to come Amen.
Apostolic and ecclesiastical traditions and all other observances and constitutions of that same Church I most firmly accept and embrace. Likewise, I accept sacred scripture according to that sense which Holy Mother Church held and holds, since it is her right to judge of the true sense and interpretation of the holy scriptures; nor will I ever receive and interpret them except according to the unanimous consent of the fathers.
I profess also that there are seven sacraments of the new law, truly and properly so called, instituted by our lord Jesus Christ and necessary for salvation, though each person need not receive them all.
They are: baptism, confirmation, the Eucharist, penance, last anointing, order and matrimony; and they confer grace. Of these baptism, confirmation and order may not be repeated without sacrilege.
I likewise receive and accept the rites of the Catholic Church which have been received and approved in the solemn administration of all the aforesaid sacraments. I embrace and accept the whole and every part of what was defined and declared by the holy council of Trent concerning original sin and justification.
Likewise I profess that in the Mass there is offered to God a true, proper and propitiatory sacrifice for the living and the dead; and that in the most holy sacrament of the Eucharist there is truly, really and substantially the body and blood, together with the soul and divinity, of our lord Jesus Christ; and that there takes place the conversion of the whole substance of the bread into his body, and of the whole substance of the wine into his blood, and this conversion the Catholic Church calls transubstantiation. I confess that under either species alone the whole and complete Christ and the true sacrament are received.
I firmly hold that purgatory exists, and that the souls detained there are helped by the suffrages of the faithful. Likewise, that the saints reigning with Christ are to be honored and prayed to, and that they offer prayers to God on our behalf, and that their relics should be venerated.
I resolutely assert that images of Christ and the ever-virgin Mother of God, and likewise those of the other saints, are to be kept and retained, and that due honor and reverence is to be shown them.
I affirm that the power of indulgences was left by Christ in the Church, and that their use is eminently beneficial to the Christian people. I acknowledge the holy, catholic, apostolic and Roman Church, the mother and mistress of all the churches.
Likewise, all other things which have been transmitted, defined and declared by the sacred canons and the ecumenical councils, especially the sacred Trent, I accept unhesitatingly and profess; in the same way whatever is to the contrary, and whatever heresies have been condemned, rejected and anathematized by the Church, I too condemn, reject and anathematize.
This true catholic faith, outside of which none can be saved, which I now freely profess and truly hold, is what I shall steadfastly maintain and confess, by the help of God, in all its completeness and purity until my dying breath, and I shall do my best to ensure that all others do the same. This is what I, the same Pius, promise, vow and swear. So help me God and these holy gospels of God.
For just as God wills all people to be saved and come to the knowledge of the truth, just as Christ came to save what was lost and to gather into one the children of God who were scattered abroad, so the Church, appointed by God to be mother and mistress of nations, recognizes her obligations to all and is always ready and anxious to raise the fallen, to steady those who stumble, to embrace those who return, and to strengthen the good and urge them on to what is better.
Thus, she can never cease from witnessing to the truth of God which heals all and from declaring it, for she knows that these words were directed to her: My spirit which is upon you, and my words which I have put in your mouth, shall not depart out of your mouth from this time forth and for evermore.
On God, Creator of all things
The holy, catholic, apostolic and Roman Church believes and acknowledges that there is one true and living God, creator and lord of heaven and earth, almighty, eternal, immeasurable, incomprehensible, infinite in will, understanding, and every perfection.
Since he is one, singular, completely simple, and unchangeable spiritual substance, he must be declared to be in reality and in essence, distinct from the world, supremely happy in himself and from himself, and inexpressibly loftier than anything besides himself which either exists or can be imagined.
This one true God, by his goodness and almighty power, not with the intention of increasing his happiness, nor indeed of obtaining happiness, but in order to manifest his perfection by the good things which he bestows on what he creates, by an absolutely free plan, together from the beginning of time brought into being from nothing the twofold created order, that is the spiritual and the bodily, the angelic and the earthly, and thereafter the human which is, in a way, common to both since it is composed of spirit and body.
Everything that God has brought into being he protects and governs by his providence, which reaches from one end of the earth to the other and orders all things well. All things are open and laid bare to his eyes, even those which will be brought about by the free activity of creatures.
On Divine Revelation
The same Holy Mother Church holds and teaches that God, the source and end of all things, can be known with certainty from the consideration of created things, by the natural power of human reason: ever since the creation of the world, his invisible nature has been clearly perceived in the things that have been made. It was, however, pleasing to his wisdom and goodness to reveal himself and the eternal laws of his will to the human race by another, and that a supernatural, way.
This is how the Apostle puts it:
In many and various ways God spoke of old to our fathers by the prophets; but in these last days he has spoken to us by a Son. It is indeed thanks to this divine revelation, that those matters concerning God which are not of themselves beyond the scope of human reason, can, even in the present state of the human race, be known by everyone without difficulty, with firm certitude and with no intermingling of error.
It is not because of this that one must hold revelation to be absolutely necessary; the reason is that God directed human beings to a supernatural end, that is a sharing in the good things of God that utterly surpasses the understanding of the human mind; indeed, eye has not seen, neither has ear heard, nor has it come into our hearts to conceive what things God has prepared for those who love him . Now this supernatural revelation, according to the belief of the universal Church, as declared by the sacred council of Trent, is contained in written books and unwritten traditions, which were received by the apostles from the lips of Christ himself or came to the apostles by the dictation of the holy Spirit and were passed on as it were from hand to hand until they reached us.
The complete books of the Old and the New Testament with all their parts, as they are listed in the decree of the said council and as they are found in the old Latin Vulgate edition, are to be received as sacred and canonical.
These books the Church holds to be sacred and canonical not because she subsequently approved them by her authority after they had been composed by unaided human skill, nor simply because they contain revelation without error, but because, being written under the inspiration of the Holy Spirit, they have God as their author, and were as such committed to the Church.
Now since the decree on the interpretation of holy scripture, profitably made by the council of Trent, with the intention of constraining rash speculation, has been wrongly interpreted by some, we renew that decree and declare its meaning to be as follows:
that in matters of faith and morals, belonging as they do to the establishing of Christian doctrine, that meaning of holy scripture must be held to be the true one, which Holy Mother Church held and holds, since it is her right to judge of the true meaning and interpretation of holy scripture. In consequence, it is not permissible for anyone to interpret holy scripture in a sense contrary to this, or indeed against the unanimous consent of the fathers.
Since human beings are totally dependent on God as their creator and lord, and created reason is completely subject to uncreated truth, we are obliged to yield to God the revealer full submission of intellect and will by faith.
This faith, which is the beginning of human salvation, the Catholic Church professes to be a supernatural virtue, by means of which, with the grace of God inspiring and assisting us, we believe to be true what He has revealed, not because we perceive its intrinsic truth by the natural light of reason, but because of the authority of God himself, who makes the revelation and can neither deceive nor be deceived.
Faith, declares the Apostle, is the assurance of things hoped for, the conviction of things not seen. Nevertheless,
In order that the submission of our faith should be in accordance with reason, it was God’s will that there should be linked to the internal assistance of the Holy Spirit external indications of his revelation, that is to say divine acts, and first and foremost miracles and prophecies, which clearly demonstrating as they do the omnipotence and infinite knowledge of God, are the most certain signs of revelation and are suited to the understanding of all.
Hence Moses and the prophets, and especially Christ our lord himself, worked many absolutely clear miracles and delivered prophecies; while of the apostles we read: And they went forth and preached every, while the Lord worked with them and confirmed the message by the signs that attended it. Again, it is written: We have the prophetic word made more sure; you will do well to pay attention to this as to a lamp shining in a dark place.
Now, although the assent of faith is by no means a blind movement of the mind, yet no one can accept the gospel preaching in the way that is necessary for achieving salvation without the inspiration and illumination of the Holy Spirit, who gives to all facility in accepting and believing the truth. And so, faith in itself, even though it may not work through charity, is a gift of God, and its operation is a work belonging to the order of salvation, in that a person yields true obedience to God himself when he accepts and collaborates with his grace which he could have rejected.
Wherefore, by divine and Catholic faith all those things are to be believed which are contained in the word of God as found in Scripture and Tradition, and which are proposed by the Church as matters to be believed as divinely revealed, whether by her solemn judgment or in her ordinary and universal Magisterium.
Since, then, without faith it is impossible to please God and reach the fellowship of his sons and daughters, it follows that no one can ever achieve justification without it, neither can anyone attain eternal life unless he or she perseveres in it to the end. So that we could fulfill our duty of embracing the true faith and of persevering unwaveringly in it, God, through his only begotten Son, founded the Church, and he endowed his institution with clear notes to the end that she might be recognized by all as the guardian and teacher of the revealed word.
To the Catholic Church alone belong all those things, so many and so marvelous, which have been divinely ordained to make for the manifest credibility of the Christian faith. What is more, the Church herself by reason of her astonishing propagation, her outstanding holiness and her inexhaustible fertility in every kind of goodness, by her catholic unity and her unconquerable stability, is a kind of great and perpetual motive of credibility and an incontrovertible evidence of her own divine mission. So, it comes about that, like a standard lifted up for the nations, she both invites to herself those who have not yet believed, and likewise assures her sons and daughters that the faith they profess rests on the firmest of foundations.
To this witness is added the effective help of power from on high. For, the kind Lord stirs up those who go astray and helps them by his grace so that they may come to the knowledge of the truth; and also confirms by his grace those whom he has translated into his admirable light, so that they may persevere in this light, not abandoning them unless he is first abandoned. Consequently, the situation of those, who by the heavenly gift of faith have embraced the Catholic truth, is by no means the same as that of those who, led by human opinions, follow a false religion;
For those who have accepted the faith under the guidance of the Church can never have any just cause for changing this faith or for calling it into question. This being so, giving thanks to God the Father who has made us worthy to share with the saints in light let us not neglect so great a salvation, but looking unto Jesus the author and finisher of our faith, let us hold the unshakeable confession of our hope.
On Faith and Reason
The perpetual agreement of the Catholic Church has maintained and maintains this too: that there is a twofold order of knowledge, distinct not only as regards its source, but also as regards its object. With regard to the source, we know at the one level by natural reason, at the other level by divine faith. With regard to the object, besides those things to which natural reason can attain, there are proposed for our belief mysteries hidden in God which, unless they are divinely revealed, are incapable of being known. Wherefore, when the Apostle, who witnesses that God was known to the gentiles from created things, comes to treat of the grace and truth which came by Jesus Chris, he declares:
We impart a secret and hidden wisdom of God, which God decreed before the ages for our glorification. None of the rulers of this age understood this. God has revealed it to us through the Spirit. For the Spirit searches everything, even the depths of God. And the Only-begotten Himself, in His confession to the Father, acknowledges that the Father has hidden these things from the wise and prudent and revealed them to the little ones.
Now reason, does indeed (when it seeks persistently, piously and soberly) achieve by God’s gift some understanding, and that most profitable, of the mysteries, whether by analogy from what it knows naturally, or from the connection of these mysteries with one another and with the final end of humanity; but reason is never rendered capable of penetrating these mysteries in the way in which it penetrates those truths which form its proper object. For the divine mysteries, by their very nature, so far surpass the created understanding that, even when a revelation has been given and accepted by faith, they remain covered by the veil of that same faith and wrapped, as it were, in a certain obscurity, as long as in this mortal life we are away from the Lord, for we walk by faith, and not by sight.
Even though faith is above reason, there can never be any real disagreement between faith and reason, since it is the same God who reveals the mysteries and infuses faith, and who has endowed the human mind with the light of reason. God cannot deny himself, nor can truth ever be in opposition to truth.
The appearance of this kind of specious contradiction is chiefly due to the fact that either the dogmas of faith are not understood and explained in accordance with the mind of the Church, or unsound views are mistaken for the conclusions of reason. Therefore, we define that every assertion contrary to the truth of enlightened faith is totally false.
Furthermore, the Church which, together with its apostolic office of teaching, has received the charge of preserving the deposit of faith, has by divine appointment the right and duty of condemning what wrongly passes for knowledge, lest anyone be led astray by philosophy and empty deceit.
Hence all faithful Christians are forbidden to defend as the legitimate conclusions of science those opinions which are known to be contrary to the doctrine of faith, particularly if they have been condemned by the Church; and furthermore, they are absolutely bound to hold them to be errors which wear the deceptive appearance of truth. Not only can faith and reason never be at odds with one another but they mutually support each other, for on the one hand right reason established the foundations of the faith and illuminated by its light, develops the science of divine things; on the other hand, faith delivers reason from errors and protects it and furnishes it with knowledge of many kinds. Hence, so far is the Church from hindering the development of human arts and studies, that in fact she assists and promotes them in many ways. For she is neither ignorant nor contemptuous of the advantages which derive from this source for human life, rather she acknowledges that those things flow from God, the lord of sciences, and, if they are properly used, lead to God by the help of his grace.
Nor does the Church forbid these studies to employ, each within its own area, its own proper principles and method: but while she admits this just freedom, she takes particular care that they do not become infected with errors by conflicting with divine teaching, or, by going beyond their proper limits, intrude upon what belongs to faith and engender confusion. For the doctrine of the faith which God has revealed is put forward not as some philosophical discovery capable of being perfected by human intelligence, but as a divine deposit committed to the spouse of Christ to be faithfully protected and infallibly promulgated. Hence, too, that meaning of the sacred dogmas is ever to be maintained which has once been declared by Holy Mother Church, and there must never be any abandonment of this sense under the pretext or in the name of a more profound understanding.
May understanding, knowledge and wisdom increase as ages and centuries roll along, and greatly and vigorously flourish, in each and all, in the individual and the whole Church: but this only in its own proper kind, that is to say, in the same doctrine, the same sense, and the same understanding.