Modernism in the works…

Vatican’s Working Document
for Synod Undermines Inerrancy
of Sacred Scripture

By John Vennari

Contrary to the Synod’s working
document, Vatican I declared
infallibly that both the Old
and New Testaments, “Whole
and with all their parts
[have] been written by the
inspiration of the Holy Ghost
[and] have God as their author.”

On June 12 the Vatican released its “Instrumentum laboris” (working document) for the upcoming October Synod of Bishops.

The document entitled “The Word of God in the Life and the Mission of the Church” contains a disturbing section that appears to undermine the inerrancy of Sacred Scripture.

We read in article 15, “In summary, the following can be said with certainty … — with regards to what might be inspired in the many parts of Sacred Scripture, inerrancy applies only to ‘that truth which God wanted put into sacred writings for the sake of salvation’ (DV 11).”1 (emphasis added)

Why would this document employ the term “might be inspired” when we know that all of Scripture is inspired? Why does the document give the impression that inerrancy applies “only” to those aspects of Scripture that are written “for the sake of our salvation”? The implication from this working document is that not all of Scripture is inspired and inerrant.

This directly contradicts Pope Saint Pius X’s Syllabus of Errors against the Modernists where he condemned the proposition, “Divine inspiration does not extend to all of Sacred Scripture so that it renders its parts, each and every one free from every error.” (#11, emphasis added).

A reputable theologian of my acquaintance noted that if the wording in the latest working document is approved at the Synod, then the rationalist biblical critics will continue to get away with murder, but now with the express, not just tacit, support of today’s Church leaders. He notes, “there will be no obligation to believe any given affirmation in Scripture as long as you can persuade yourself (on the basis of your own a priori subjective criteria) that what the author says there is not really important as regards ‘salvation’. Of course, if it’s erroneous, God is not its author, ergo, God is not the author of the whole Bible — a proposition which all the Fathers, and all the papal encyclicals, syllabuses and Councils dealing with this topic have unanimously condemned as heresy.”

The denial of Scripture inerrancy is a universal problem in the contemporary Church. Not long ago, a Cardinal who enjoys a “conservative” reputation stated that Scripture contains errors in matters of science and history.

This modern approach to Scripture is far removed from the perennial and infallible teaching of the Catholic Church.

Vatican I declared infallibly that both the Old and New Testaments, “whole and with all their parts … [have] been written by the inspiration of the Holy Ghost [and] have God as their author.”

Despite the clear dogmatic affirmation of Vatican I, the Synod’s working document refuses to reaffirm that God is the author of all parts of the Bible.

Pope Leo XIII taught in his 1893 Encyclical Providentissimus Deus:

“For all the books which the Church receives as sacred and canonical, are written wholly and entirely, with all their parts, at the dictation of the Holy Ghost; and so far is it from being possible that any error can co-exist with inspiration, that inspiration not only is essentially incompatible with error, but excludes and rejects it as absolutely and necessarily as it is impossible that God Himself, the supreme Truth, can utter that which is not true. This is the ancient and unchanging faith of the Church, solemnly defined in the Councils of Florence and of Trent, and finally confirmed and more expressly formulated by the Council of the Vatican. These are the words of the last: ‘The Books of the Old and New Testament, whole and entire, with all their parts, as enumerated in the decree of the same Council (Trent) and in the ancient Latin Vulgate, are to be received as sacred and canonical. And the Church holds them as sacred and canonical, not because, having been composed by human industry, they were afterwards approved by her authority; nor only because they contain revelation without error; but because, having been written under the inspiration of the Holy Ghost, they have God for their author’. Hence, because the Holy Ghost employed men as His instruments, we cannot therefore say that it was these inspired instruments who, perchance, have fallen into error…”

Likewise Pope Pius XII, quoting Leo XIII almost word-for-word, taught in Divini Afflante Spiritu (Sept. 30, 1943):

“It is absolutely forbidden to pretend that the sacred writer himself has fallen into error, since Divine inspiration not only excludes any and all possible error in itself, but even loathes and excludes it, since God, Who is sovereign truth, cannot be the author of any possible error.”

Pius XII continues:

“This doctrine which was so forcefully explained by our predecessor Leo XIII, We also propose with our pontifical authority, and We insist that it be held rigorously by all.”

Pius XII returned to the subject of Biblical inerrancy in his 1950 Encyclical Humani Generis, with the forceful statement:

“Some boldly pervert the meaning of the definition of the Vatican Council, with respect to God as the author of Sacred Scripture and they revive the opinion, many times condemned, according to which the immunity of the Sacred Writings from error extends only to those matters which are handed down regarding God and moral and religious subjects.” (emphasis added)

Clearly, the new “Instrumentum laboris” is saying the same thing condemned by Pius XII, only in slightly different wording. How easily the drafters of the Synod’s working document discard the warning of St. Thomas Aquinas who wrote, “But, as Augustine says in an Epistle to Jerome (Ep. 28), if but one untruth be admitted into the Sacred Scripture, the whole authority of the Scriptures is weakened.” (ST, Q. 55, A. 4).

The Synod document’s undermining of Scriptural inerrancy, if approved, will wreak immeasurable havoc on the Church and souls.

It will serve the evolutionists as they persist in their false theory that Genesis is merely a mythical story that obscures the alleged scientific fact of evolution of man from lower creatures;

It will serve those who attempt to deny the truth of Noah’s Flood, even though Our Lord Jesus Christ clearly referred to the Flood as an historical event;2

It will serve those modern biblical scholars, both “Catholic” and non-Catholic, who deny the reality of Our Lord’s miracles;

It will serve the Jewish Anti-Defamation League in its false claim that the details of Our Lord’s Passion are not true; that Pilate, not the Pharisees, plotted Our Lord’s death; and that the Gospel writers merely blamed the Jews for Our Lord’s death due to an irrational anti-Semitism.3

The number of errors that denial of Scriptural inerrancy will serve is practically endless.

The approval of this working document would also indicate that those who draft and support it have little regard for the infallible magisterium, which has clearly spoken on the inerrancy of Scripture. Those who draft and support the document would sadly reveal themselves as Modernists who, in the words of Msgr. Joseph Clifford Fenton, believe in “some sort of change in the objective meaning of the Church's dogmatic message over the course of the centuries.”4

In closing, it should be reiterated that the error that Scripture is not inerrant is already widespread throughout the Church. The damage this error has done, and continues to do, is beyond calculation. Correction is long overdue. A Vatican Synod should publicly and unambiguously correct this error, rather than ignore, perpetuate or solidify it in any way.

Let us urge our bishops, and those in the highest places of the Church, to reject the modernist wording employed in the “Instrumentum laboris”. No new document on Scripture will be of any use — nor will it be binding on Catholics — if it in any way rejects the Catholic doctrine on the inerrancy of Scripture that is found in Vatican I, and in the magisterial teaching of Pope Leo XIII, Pope Saint Pius X and Pope Pius XII.



2 “They did eat and drink, they married wives, and were given in marriage, until the day that Noe entered into the ark: and the flood came and destroyed them all…” (Luke 17:27); and “For as in the days before the flood, they were eating and drinking, marrying and giving in marriage, even till that day in which Noe entered into the ark…” (Matt. 24:38)

3. I heard the Anti-Defamation League’s Rabbi Leon Klenicki make a similar claim, and worse. In 1999, at a conference at Buffalo’s Christ the King Seminary that I attended, he said that the Pharisees were not against Christ, but they were actually trying to warn Christ against Pilate’s treachery. In short, the Rabbi was telling us that the details in the Gospel concerning Our Lord’s Passion are not true. Out goes Biblical inerrancy. See “The Gospel According to Non-Believers”, Catholic Family News, May & June, 2000.

4. “The Sacrorum Antistitum and the Background of the Oath Against Modernism”, Msgr. Joseph Clifford Fenton, American Ecclesiastical Review, October, 1960

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