Heresy of Americanism Alive and Well at Norte Dame

Excerpted from:

Our Sunday Visitor April 1, 2009

For people whose view of history extends beyond last week, the furor over Notre Dame’s decision to invite President Barack Obama to be its commencement speaker and receive an honorary degree is simply the latest chapter in an old heresy by the name of “Americanism.”

Notre Dame is a model institution — flagship of the Americanism in U.S. Catholicism — and with the uproar over our avidly pro-abortion president, the university’s special status has come home to roost…”

Pope Leo XIII in 1899 condemned a heresy he called Americanism as a “reprehensible” error. He had in mind a set of attitudes and practices intended to adjust Catholic belief and behavior (or in some cases just sweep them aside) to suit contemporary secular standards in unacceptable ways. The existence of such views, Leo said, “raises a suspicion that there are those among you who envision and desire a Catholic Church in America other than that which is in all the rest of the world.”

To read the entire encyclical click —>

Concerning New Opinions, Virtue, Nature And
Grace, With Regard To Americanism
Pope Leo XIII
Encyclical promulgated on January 22, 1899.

What were these “attitudes and practices intended to adjust Catholic belief and behavior (or in some cases just sweep them aside) to suit contemporary secular standards in unacceptable ways”?


Each heretical tenet below is an exact quote from Pope Leo XIII’s encyclical.

1) In order to more easily attract those who differ from her, the Church should shape her teachings more in accord with the spirit of the age and relax some of her ancient severity and make some concessions to new opinions.

2) That it would be opportune, in order to gain those who differ from us, to omit certain points of her teaching which are of lesser importance, and to tone down the meaning which the Church has always attached to them.

3) The silence which purposely leads to the omission or neglect of teaching some of the principles of Christian doctrine,

4) that opinion of the lovers of novelty, according to which they hold such liberty should be allowed in the Church, that her supervision and watchfulness being in some sense lessened, allowance be granted the faithful, each one to follow out more freely the leading of his own mind and the trend of his own proper activity.

5) The confounding of license with liberty, the passion for discussing and pouring contempt upon any possible subject, the assumed right to hold whatever opinions one pleases upon any subject and to set them forth in print to the world,

6) First, all external guidance is set aside for those souls who are striving after Christian perfection as being superfluous or indeed, not useful in any sense—the contention being that the Holy Spirit pours richer and more abundant graces than formerly upon the souls of the faithful, so that without human intervention He teaches and guides them by some hidden instinct of His own.

7 Those who are fond of novelty giving an unwarranted importance to the natural virtues, as though they better responded to the customs and necessities of the times and that having these as his outfit man becomes more ready to act and more strenuous in action.

8) This over-esteem of natural virtue finds a method of expression in assuming to divide all virtues in active and passive, and it is alleged that whereas passive virtues found better place in past times, our age is to be characterized by the active.

9) That some Christian virtues be adapted to certain times and different ones for other times.

10) A contempt of the religious life

11) They say religious vows are alien to the spirit of our times, in that they limit the bounds of human liberty; that they are more suitable to weak than ›o strong minds; that so far from making for human perfection and the good of human organization, they are hurtful to both;

12) It is stated that the way and method hitherto in use among Catholics for bringing back those who have fallen away from the Church should be left aside and another one

If the doctrines listed above are not only indicated, but exalted, there can be no manner of doubt that our venerable brethren, the bishops of America, would be the first to repudiate and condemn it as being most injurious to themselves and to their country. For it would give rise to the suspicion that there are among you some who conceive and would have the Church in America to be different from what it is in the rest of the world.

But the true church is one, as by unity of doctrine, so by unity of government, and she is catholic also. Since God has placed the center and foundation of unity in the chair of Blessed Peter, she is rightly called the Roman Church, for “where Peter is, there is the church.” Wherefore, if anybody wishes to be considered a real Catholic, he ought to be able to say from his heart the selfsame words which St. Jerome addressed to Pope Damasus:

“I, acknowledging no other leader than Christ, am bound in fellowship with Your Holiness; that is, with the chair of Peter. I know that the church was built upon him as its rock, and that whosoever gathereth not with you, scattereth.”

One Response

  1. What we need to fully understand is that this heresy of Americanism was promoted in the Vatican II documents, especially on Religious Liberty.

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