15 December 2014


(A slightly abbreviated reprint of a piece I published a year ago.)

Er ... yes ... sesqui ... well, according to my trusty Oxford Latin Dictionary sesqui is a conflation of sems, an earlier form of the word that became in Classical Latin semi(s), meaning half, and the enclitic (meaning you tack it on the end of the next word) -que, meaning and. So sesqui- is a prefix meaning "and a half". So


means 150 years on, a century and a half.

2014/2015 will be the Sesquicentenary of the Syllabus Errorum of B Pius IX.

 On December 8, 1864, B Pius IX issued his Encyclical Quanta cura; and, apparently at his direction, an (anonymous) collection of 80 theses, already condemned by Roman Pontiffs in earlier Magisterial interventions, was published simultaneously. In some circles "the Syllabus of Errors" is regarded as the quintessential epitome of reactionary ecclesiastical obscurantism; you have to say the very words in the same tones of hushed horror as "the Inquisition". But I am sure that a special Commission has been put together in Rome to organise this Year in which the Universal Church will be called upon to celebrate, to study, to reappropriate the teaching handed down on the instructions of Papa il Conte Mastai-Ferreti. This blog will, as ever, merely follow humbly the lead of the Magisterium, or, if that lead is a trifle late coming, will examine as best it can one or two hermeneutical questions arising from this laudable document.

I shall eventually come on to remarks upon the Syllabus from the pen of our own beloved Patrimonial Patron B John Henry Newman. But I would like to begin, again out of pietas, with a quotation from another, later, distinguished Anglican Patristic scholar, Dr Trevor Jalland, a predecessor of mine as pp of S Thomas the Martyr in Oxford (Ecclesia Sancti Thomae iuxta ferriviam, as the common folk call it). It was in his Bampton Lectures before this University in 1942 that Fr Jalland launched a public, academic, campaign of attrition designed to undermine the great edifice of anti-papal bigotry which lurked and still lurks today in the guts of so many million of our fellow-countrymen (good mixed metaphors, yes?). These are Jalland's words about the Syllabus:
" ...what many of its detractors failed to appreciate was that the real object of the Pope's attack was not freedom but licence, not reason but rationalism, not state sovereignty but secularism ... If the more determined critics of the nineteenth-century Papacy could have foreseen the present-day progress of secularism, they might have been more willing to recognise that the Syllabus, in spite of its evident limitations, had as its purpose that characteristic aim of Roman pronouncements, namely, the preservation of a via media amid the conflicting claims of modern society, between absolutism and anarchy, between theocracy  and atheism. Indeed, it is not difficult to find in this supposedly reactionary document a few at least of the principles on which a modern enlightened democratic regime is based."

I have no doubt that Dr Jalland is part of that great Anglican Patrimony which our Holy Father the Pope Emeritus Benedict XVI wished the Ordinariates to bring into the unity of the Church, for the benefit and enlightenment of the entire Church. Audite eum!


Patruus said...

A handy Latin-English version of the Syllabus resides at this address -

The very last error has a delightfully 21st-century resonance: "Romanus Pontifex potest ac debet cum progressu, cum liberalismo et cum recenti civilitate sese reconciliare et componere."

As to the OLD, superior though it may be as a dictionary, is it not for ever disadvantaged by its premature cut-off date (200 AD) and its unavailability in digital format?

Unknown said...

Dr Jalland is a great name from the past.I was told that he was called in as a peritus by the (Anglo-catholic) Confraternity of the Blessed Sacrament to explain how Rome could change the Apostolic precept of Fasting Communion. This was a burning issue because for years the CBS had maintained Midnight Fasting and they prayed that Evening Masses might cease - as did all good Anglo-Catholics. I would dearly love to know what he said to the distressed confraters.

Mick Jagger Gathers No Mosque said...

Bishop Emeritus Ratzinger's thinking was that there could be no return to the syllabus


and, of course, it is rather well known that he was not too keen on Bishop Athanasius Schneider's call for a new syllabus vis a vis V2.

Jacobi said...

The Syllabus of Errors and the attack on Modernism by St Pius X must be taken together. They constitute a very real and specific warning of the danger which will afflict the Church. And afflict it has done.

The Second Vatican Council called by Pope St John XXIII in his, let’s face it, sheer naivety , allowed this danger to come flooding into the Church well within a lifetime of that warning 1n 1907, with the disastrous shambolic consequences we see today. The Mystical Body of Christ on this Earth, the Catholic Church is, not for the first time in deep trouble.

Modernism is alive and well in the Church today and unbelievable this might seem, this danger is still not recognised by the Hierarchy. In November 2910 Fr Longenecker wrote a telling prediction of how Modernism must die. The problem now is that it has so seeped into the fabric of the Church whether as Secularism or Relativism that the danger is of the Church dying.

Yes, yes, I know that can’t happen. But only if Catholics get up of their backsides, realise what is going on, and do something about it!

johnf said...

We met this strange word in chemistry at 'A' level with compounds such as iron sesquioxide and aluminium sesquioxide. Thiese are two atoms of Fe or Al and 3 atoms of Oxygen.

I suppose that Al2O3 can be regarded as Al + 1.5 atoms, of Oxygen.