Does Papal Encyclical Resist Compromise?
AUGUST 21 marked the release of the official English translation of Pope Pius XII’s encyclical Humani Generis (Of Mankind). Its target was those Catholic churchmen who, in the interests of unity and of forming a solid religious front against atheism, would compromise on or set aside differences in dogma.
But was it the principle of compromise that the pope really objected to? In countries where she is powerful the Catholic Church declares that freedom of speech and freedom of religion are pernicious errors to be stamped out, but in democratic lands where the Church is a minority her spokesmen champion such freedoms. Is that not compromising her principles?
The Catholic Encyclopedia says, “Union with the Church is not merely one out of various means by which salvation may be obtained: it is the only means.” Papal bulls and Church catechisms have said the same, and in this latest encyclical the pope lamented, “Some reduce to a meaningless formula the necessity of belonging to the true church in order to gain salvation.” Yet when four Catholic teachers in Catholic schools in Boston protested that Jesuit Keleher, president of Boston College, taught heresy in saying there was salvation outside the Church, the teachers were fired. Their appeals to the Vatican were futile, for the Vatican knew that its doctrine of no salvation outside the Catholic Church would not be popular in the United States democracy. Was not the Vatican compromising?
And is it not in an effort to compromise with science that the Catholic Church says that God may have made man’s body by evolution, and then created a soul to go into that evolved body? The Catholic Encyclopedia states, “That God should have made use of natural, evolutionary, original causes in the production of man’s body, is per se not improbable, and was propounded by St. Augustine.” And again the pope in his recent encyclical echoes this view when he declares that studies in evolution must be limited to “inquiries into the origin of the human body as coming from pre-existent and living matter—for Catholic faith obliges us to hold that souls are immediately created by God”.
In his encyclical the pope acknowledged “the word of God as contained in the sacred scripture as the foundation of all religious teaching”; yet this compromise with evolution cannot have foundation in the Scriptures. Why not? Because souls existed long before man was created. When making water animals God said, “Let the waters swarm with an abundance of living soul.” Again, “God created the great sea-monsters, and every living soul that moveth.” As to land animals, “God said, Let the land bring forth living soul after its kind, tame-beast and creeping thing and wild-beast.” (Gen. 1:20, 21, 24, Ro) Hence living souls were in existence before “God formed man of the dust of the ground, and breathed into his nostrils the breath of life; and man became a living soul”. (Gen. 2:7) Numbers 31:28 shows that animals are souls. Ecclesiastes 3:18-20 shows the close similarity between men and beasts in death, and Ezekiel 18:4 proves that human souls die. No scripture even intimates that God implanted in man’s body an immortal soul.
If the pope is concerned over compromise that contaminates the faith, why limit concern to modern trends? Why not cleanse the Catholic Church of the pagan teachings it embraced at the time of Emperor Constantine, in the fourth century? From that time forward the Church has opened its arms to such paganisms as trinity, purgatory, eternal torment, prayers for the dead, use of rosaries and images, cross worship, and many others. In defense of adopting such paganisms Cardinal Newman said the Church did “transmute the very instruments and appendages of demon-worship to an evangelical use” and added that they “are all of pagan origin, and sanctified by their adoption into the Church”. (Essay on the Development of Christian Doctrine) Such hierarchy reasoning, however, collides head-on with 2 Corinthians 6:14-16: “Be ye not unequally yoked together with unbelievers: for what fellowship hath righteousness with unrighteousness? and what communion hath light with darkness? And what concord hath Christ with Belial? or what part hath he that believeth with an infidel? And what agreement hath the temple of God with idols?”
Actually, it is not so much compromise that the pope opposes. Catholic Church history reeks with many kinds of compromises. What the pope fears are the compromises of priests made independent of the Church. He fears their drift from papal control, and that is why his encyclical repeatedly hammers home the assertion that the Church is the “teaching authority”. But is the Catholic Church the “teaching authority”, the “faithful and wise servant, whom his lord hath made ruler over his household, to give them meat in due season”? (Matt. 24:45) No organization that provides pagan doctrines as spiritual “meat in due season” could be, for 1 Corinthians 10:21 states: “Ye cannot be partakers of the Lord’s table, and of the table of devils.”
Nor can the Catholic Church pass as the teaching authority on the basis of her claim to be built on Peter. There is no proof that she is founded on him. He would not accept money for divine favors; the priests do. (Acts 8:20) He would not allow another man to kneel at his feet; the popes have men kiss theirs. (Acts 10:26) Moreover, the true church of Christ is not built on Peter, but on Christ. He is the one the Jews rejected as cornerstone for the spiritual temple, not Peter. He is the one Peter himself identified as the Chief Cornerstone, and added that other anointed Christians are living stones built up as a spiritual temple on Him. As for Peter, he claimed no infallibility, was corrected and taught by Paul, and was spoken of as only one of the twelve apostolic foundation stones.—Isa. 28:16; 1 Pet. 2:4-8; Gal. 2:11-14; 2 Pet. 3:15, 16; Rev. 21:14.
In view of all these conflicts between the Catholic Church and the Bible, we can understand this papal encyclical’s lament concerning men now turning to the Bible: “It is a matter of regret that not a few of these, the more firmly they accept the word of God, so much the more do they diminish the value of human reason, and the more they exalt the authority of God and revealer, the more severely do they spurn the teaching office of the church.”