Pope Pius IX’s Qui Pluribus is Alone Capable of Defeating Catholicism’s Enemies

In 1846, Blessed Pius IX began his first papal encyclical, Qui Pluribus (On Faith and Religion), by describing his purpose in writing to the Church’s bishops:

“Its purpose is to urge that you keep the night-watches over the flock entrusted to your care with the greatest possible eagerness, wakefulness and effort, and that you raise a protecting wall before the House of Israel; do these as you battle with episcopal strength and steadfastness like good soldiers of Christ Jesus against the hateful enemy of the human race.”

For those who have not read Qui Pluribus, or have forgotten its holy wisdom, it may be useful to ponder the meaning of these words before delving into the encyclical’s substance. Who was threatening the Catholic flocks? What were the threats against which Pope Pius IX was warning? How were the bishops supposed to guard their flocks? What harms would occur if the bishops failed in their duty?

Pius IX continued by identifying those who were threatening the Catholic flocks:

“Each of you has noticed, venerable brothers, that a very bitter and fearsome war against the whole Catholic commonwealth is being stirred up by men bound together in a lawless alliance. These men do not preserve sound doctrine, but turn their hearing from the truth. They eagerly attempt to produce from their darkness all sorts of prodigious beliefs, and then to magnify them with all their strength, and to publish them and spread them among ordinary people.”

So the enemies in question were those who “do not preserve sound doctrine, but turn their hearing from the truth.” The existence of these enemies would not have been so problematic were it not for the fact that they were attempting to spread their lies among Catholics. Even worse, Pius IX saw that these enemies of Catholic truth were quite skilled in promoting their lies:

“We shudder indeed and suffer bitter pain when We reflect on all their outlandish errors and their many harmful methods, plots and contrivances. These men use these means to spread their hatred for truth and light. They are experienced and skillful in deceit, which they use to set in motion their plans to quench peoples’ zeal for piety, justice and virtue, to corrupt morals, to cast all divine and human laws into confusion, and to weaken and even possibly overthrow the Catholic religion and civil society.”

Left unopposed, these enemies of Catholicism would deceive Catholics with their errors. Were that to happen, Catholic zeal for piety, justice, and virtue would be quenched; morals would be corrupted; divine and human laws would be cast into confusion; and, ultimately, the Catholic religion and society might be overthrown. If this was all we knew about Qui Pluribus, it would seem that his words might hold the key to why we today experience these great evils more than at any time in the history of the Church.

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