Infallibility Fail: The Syllabus of Errors
The Syllabus of Errors was probably the biggest fail the Catholic Church has ever committed in its long and illustrious tenure on this planet. For a bunch of infallible dudes, popes over the years have done some pretty stupid stuff. Lets take a little trip down memory lane to exhibit A: the Crusades. It’s pretty hard to understand the logic there. “Lets send millions of guys really far away to take a piece of land from some other culture and then be colossal jerks and kill all of them for no reason – Oh wait, we FAILED. No biggie, we’ll try again, EIGHT MORE TIMES.” Another prime example would be the entire era of Renaissance popes – the thinking there being “Lets break every rule in the book and still be the holiest guy on earth.” Then comes the oh-so-great Babylonian Captivity. “Since having the papacy in Avignon is stupid, we’ll elect a new pope. What, they excommunicated each other? Didn’t see that coming. Ok, we’ll, uh, elect a third one! Oh great. More excommunication. Maybe we can have some councils or something to figure this out.”
All this is pretty hilarious, but it pales in comparison to the syllabus of errors. Instead of learning its lesson from trying to stop the Scientific Revolution with the Inquisition, The Church repeated itself in a spectacularly idiotic way. The scene is Europe, 1864. Italy has just been unified, and the Pope isn’t too happy about losing all his states. The industrial revolution is raging, and people are a lot more concerned with mass culture and politics than with religion. I mean, soccer just got invented! You can’t compete with that. Anyway, with all this other stuff going on and society getting gradually more secular, Pope Pius IX is mad as hell and he isn’t going to take it anymore. So he issues a document condemning pretty much every -ism out there, along with human reason, science, religious tolerance, and progress in general. He even goes so far as to say it isn’t his responsibility to “reconcile himself, and come to terms with, progress and modern civilization.” Yeah that’s right civilization, who needs you anyway? Among the doctrines attacked were the obvious creations of Satan, communism, socialism, pantheism, rationalism, and liberalism, but also biblical and clerical societies! Hey you, bible scholar! Yeah, I’m talkin’ to you – just want you to know all your education is worthless ’cause you’re wrong.
In the aftermath of all this, most factions of European society ignored the church. Protestants got ticked off, Liberals got even more secular, and even a lot of Catholics rejected it and turned to Modernism, a way of doing exactly what the pope said not to do – reconciling religion with modern society. Finally, the Lateran II accords of the ’60s updated Church doctrine to somewhat normal views (The Jews were collectively absolved for the killing of Christ, for example). The current Pope has described Lateran II as beneficially “counter-syllabus.”However, since all popes are technically infallible, all that junk still stands. Go figure.
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