Regína sacratíssimi Rosárii, ora pro nobis!

Joseph Cardinal Ratzinger

Gaudium et Spes as a "Counter-Syllabus"

Inaugurated by the French Revolution

    If it is desirable to offer a diagnosis of the text [Gaudium et Spes] as a whole, we might say that (in conjunction with the texts on religious liberty and world religions) it is a revision of the Syllabus of Pius IX, a kind of countersyllabus. Harnack, as we know, interpreted the Syllabus of Pius IX as nothing less than a declaration of war against his generation.  This is correct insofar as the Syllabus established a line of demarcation against the determining forces of the nineteenth century: against the scientific and political world view of liberalism.  In the struggle against modernism this twofold delimitation was ratified and strengthened.  Since then many things have changed.  The new ecclesiastical policy of Pius XI produced a certain openness toward the liberal understanding of the state.  In a quiet but persistent struggle, exegesis and Church history adopted more and more the postulates of liberal science, and liberalism, too, was obliged to undergo many significant changes in the great political upheavals of the twentieth century.  As a result, the one-sidedness of the position adopted by the Church under Pius IX and Pius X in response to the situation created by the new phase of history inaugurated by the French Revolution was to a large extent, corrected via facti, especially in Central Europe, but there was still no statement of the relationship that would exist between the Church and the world that had come into existence after 1789.  In fact, an attitude that was largely prerevolutionary continued to exist in countries with strong Catholic majorities.  Hardly anyone today will deny that the Spanish and Italian Concordats strove to preserve too much of a view that no longer corresponded with the facts.  Hardly anyone today will deny that, in the field of education and with respect to the historico-critical method in modern science, anachronisms existed that corresponded closely to this adherence to an obsolete Church-state relationship.  Only a careful investigation of the different ways in which acceptance of the new era was accomplished in various parts of the Church could unravel the complicated network of causes that formed the background of the "Pastoral Constitution", and only thus can the dramatic history of its influence be brought to light.

   Let us be content to say that the text serves as a countersyllabus and, as such, represents, on the part of the Church, an attempt at an official reconciliation with the new era inaugurated in 1789.

~ Joseph Cardinal Ratzinger, Principles of Catholic Theology, 
(San Francisco: Ignatius Press, 1987) pp. 381-2.

GoogleBook:  Page 381 Page 382


Dei via est íntegra
Our Lady of the Rosary, 144 North Federal Highway (US#1), Deerfield Beach, Florida 33441  954+428-2428
Authentic  Catholic Mass, Doctrine, and Moral Teaching -- Don't do without them -- 
Don't accept one without the others!