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April 3, 2013

Humani Generis

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Humani Generis (“Of Mankind”), the encyclical published by Pope Pius XII in 1950, is a response to opinions that threaten Catholic doctrine, specifically, new thoughts in the realms of theology, philosophy, and science.



  • The teaching on papal infallability is made in ¶20. In Encyclical letters, “the Popes do not exercise [supreme] Teaching Authority [but only] ordinary teaching authority [regarding things that] already for other reasons appertains to Catholic doctrine.” [Luke 10:16] “But [when they] purposely pass judgment on a matter up to that time under dispute…that matter…cannot be any longer considered a question open to discussion among theologians.”
  • That evolution is (generally speaking) not contradictory to the faith is explained in ¶36; however, there is no distinction made between the different theories, such as Darwinism (now considered incompatible with the faith) and other competing theories of the day.


  1. Sadly, the Christian culture is under attack.
  2. Reason and natural law can lead to knowledge of God, but reason is often obstructed by many things. (e.g. senses, imagination, evil passions, etc.)
  3. Therefore, divine revelation is morally necessary in the modern age.
  4. Man can refuse/resist rational evidence for the faith as well as actual grace to to prejudice or other reasons.
  5. Though unproven, men accept and promote the theory of continual evolution for gain. (e.g. Communism and dialectical materialism)
  6. Evolution, etc. denies the absolute essence of things, giving rise to the existentialism philosophy.
  7. This allows man to selfishly reject law, Christian or otherwise.
  8. While some people use Scripture to learn and preach truth, they go too far, diminishing human reason and rejecting the need for a living teaching authority (i.e. the Church).
  9. Defenders of truth must understand these errors in thought. Even the erroneous opinions may contain some elements of truth.
  10. Fearful of appearing ignorant, though, Catholic philosophers can and sometimes do depart from the Church’s teaching authority.
  11. Some even advocate that the Church should renounce its teaching authority to gain souls for the faith. (Ecumenism)
  12. Such tactics may indeed bring unity, but also destruction.
  13. Such theories begin small or with good intention, only to grow bold and uncontrollable as they are disseminated.
  14. By eliminating dogma, they hope to assimilate it anew based on primal Church teachings.
  15. They claim that true dogma is masked by old ideas and expressions that should be replaced with ones that appeal to the senses of modern man.
  16. The teachings of the Church are not based on weak foundations, however, and it would be wrong to simply dismiss them.
  17. To reject refined truth in the hope of gaining accuracy by establishing a new and unproven philosophy is highly imprudent.
  18. They often appeal to writings (i.e. opinions) of the Early Church Fathers under the notion that more modern Church teachings must necessarily be precedented on them.
  19. However, some things once open for debate need not be debated any longer.
  20. Encyclicals usually speak to matters already expounded upon in doctrine; however, should the Pope pass supreme judgment on a disputed matter, it should be considered closed for discussion.
  21. Divine revelation was given by God as guidance for the Church to exercise her living teaching authority, not for private deterministic interpretation.
  22. Some dispute the divine authorship of Scripture in part or in whole and interpret it on the basis of exegesis, looking for hidden meanings, instead of on the Church’s teachings.
  23. They claim that a new exegesis of the Old Testament would replace literal difficulties with symbolic/spiritual truth.
  24. Their claims oppose the norms of interpretation explained in previous encyclicals.
  25. Doubt regarding revealed truths is a result of this way of thinking. (e.g. Creation out of love, God’s eternal foreknowledge of men’s free choices, etc.)
  26. Angels, essence, the supernatural order, original sin, sin in general, the efficacy of Christ’s sarifice, and the Real Presence or all debated.
  27. The necessity and value of the Church and the faith itself is questioned.
  28. These errors are being pointed out herein because Catholic thinkers are commiting them.
  29. The Church relies on reason to understand the faith, God’s law, the mysteries, and even the existence of God. Reason comes with training and leads to truth.
  30. Teaching Authority only covers matters of faith and morals. “New” truth cannot overturn established truth, but it can correct errors.
  31. Priests must learn philosophy and Aquinas’ method is tried and true.
  32. Opponents claim that the traditional philosophy used by the Church is adequate for basic instruction but not for practical application, and that all other philosophies, albeit evolving, are ultimately compatible with Catholicism.
  33. They claim that the Church’s philosophy appeeals to intellect and ignores the will and emotions; however, this is clearly and historically false, for the Church teaches that the will can see truth beyond what the intellect can deduce on its own.
  34. Theodicy and ethics (philisophical sciences) are threatened by these new opinions. Not only are they themselves debased, but so is the protection provided by the Church’s Teaching Authority.
  35. Discussion of theories not yet proven scientifically but merely hypothesized must follow. Theories can only be considered if they do not oppose Church teaching.
  36. Human evolution (origin of man from pre-existent and living matter) is up for discussion, but cannot contradict that God is the immediate creator of souls.
  37. Polygenism (origin from two or more distinct ancestors) is irreconcilable with the doctrine of original sin.
  38. The first eleven chapters of Genesis may not fit the modern concept of history, but any inclusion of folklore was done under divine inspiration.
  39. Thus, these are not imaginative myths but expressions of truth. Ancient sacred authors were clearly superior to secular (“profane”) authors of the same period.
  40. Most Catholic doctors (teachers) do not hold these erroneous opinions (at the time of writing), but the errors do appeal to incautious thinkers.
  41. Bishops and heads of religious orders are charged with preventing the spread of such erroneous opinions.
  42. Teachers cannot, in good conscience, teach that which diverts students (and themselves) away from the Church’s teachings.
  43. They must teach, research, and discover within the limits established for the protection of the faith.
  44. Apostolic Benediction.

October 5, 2010

Pope Pius XII

Filed under: Christianity — Brandon @ 8:00 pm
Tags: , , , , ,

Pope Pius XII reigned as Pope from 1939 to 1958. In recent years, he has been popularly criticized for his “silence” during the holocaust and has even been incorrectly associated with the Nazi party; however, Pius XII and the Church did more to aid the Jews in WWII than any other entity in the world. As his case for canonization progresses, many of these historical errors are being addressed and corrected. Lacking sufficient time to research thoroughly, I am only collecting a list of information bits on Pius XII, at least for the moment.

  • Wikipedia article
  • His writings
  • The Truth About Pope Pius XII by Sister Margherita Marchione. Ph.D. and the Catholic League
  • How Pius XII Protected Jews by Jimmy Aikn
  • Controversial play The Deputy (1963) was written by Rolf Hochhuth
  • Biography at SQPN
  • Catholic Answers Live dedicated some time, even several whole shows, to this topic:
    • 10-Apr-2000 Pope Pius XII & the Nazis, Sr. Margherita Marchione
    • 11-Jan-2001 Hitler, the War, & the Pope, Ronald Rychlak
    • 5-Oct-2007 Is There a Conspiracy Against the Church?, Ronald Rychlak
    • 15-Oct-2007 Catholics and the Holocaust, William Doino
    • 9-Jan-2009 Catholic Urban Legends: “Hitler’s Pope”, Robert Lockwood
    • 17-Apr-2009 The Cause of Pius XII, Matthew Bunson
    • 15-May-2009 The Church In the News, John-Henry Westen
    • 26-Jun-2009 The Church in the News, Robert Lockwood
    • 1-Feb-2010 The War on Pius XII, Ron Rychlak
  • List of articles linked on the EWTN Library.
  • R. J. Rychlak’s Hitler, the War, and the Pope (0879732172)
  • J Cornwell’s Hitler’s Pope (0-670-87620-8)
  • NYT praised Pius XII in 1941-2 (examples from Fr. Z)
  • High praise also came from various Jewish organizations upon his death (to be substantiated)
  • Articles opposing his canonization:

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