Quanto Conficiamur Moerore
Encyclical of Pope Pius IX
August 10, 1863
To Our Beloved Sons, S. R. E. Cardinals and to Our Venerable Brothers, the Archbishops and Bishops of Italy.
Our Beloved Sons and Venerable Brothers, Greetings and Apostolic Benediction.
How much cause we have to grieve over the most cruel and sacrilegious war brought upon the Catholic Church in almost all regions of the world during these turbulent times, and especially declared upon unhappy Italy before our very eyes many years ago by the Piedmontese Government and stirred up more violently day by day, each of you, our beloved sons and venerable brothers, easily understands. In the midst of our great distress, however, as long as you keep watch with us, we are deeply comforted and consoled. Although you are, indeed, most deplorably harassed by every grave injustice possible, torn away from your own flock, exiled and even cast into prison, nevertheless, with your profound virtue you have never neglected to speak and to write in ardent defense of the teachings of God, his Church, and this Apostolic See.
2. Consequently, we give thanks because you fervently rejoice to suffer insult in the name of Jesus. We extend to you merited praise in the words of our most saintly predecessor, Leo: "May you endure with all your heart the trials of your love, which you have undergone in reverence for the Catholic faith; may I accept the sufferings inflicted upon you as if I were bearing them myself. I know, however, that it is a cause of joy rather than of sorrow that with the strength of our Lord, Jesus Christ, you have persevered invincible in your evangelical and apostolic teaching . . . And when the enemies of the Christian faith were tearing you away from your respective churches, rather than being contaminated by their impiety, you preferred to endure the injustice of undergoing exile."(1)
3. Would that we could announce the end of such terrible calamities besetting the Church! Never will there be grief enough over the corruption of morals so extensively increasing and promoted by irreligious and obscene writings, theatrical spectacles and meretricious houses established almost everywhere; by other depraved arts and monstrous portents of every error disseminated in all directions; by the abominable impurities of all vices and crimes growing constantly and the deadly virus of unbelief and indifferentism spread far and wide; by contempt for ecclesiastical authority, sacred things, and laws and by the outrageous plundering of Church possessions; by the bitter and constant abuse of consecrated Church officials, of the students of religious communities, of virgins dedicated to God; by the diabolical hatred of Christ, his Church, teaching, and of this Apostolic See. These and almost innumerable other evils perpetrated by the embittered enemies of the Catholic Church and faith, we are daily compelled to lament.
4. All these agonies seem to prolong and delay that most yearned for time when we shall see the full triumph of our most holy religion, of justice, and of truth. This triumph cannot fail us, however, even if it is not given us to know the time destined for it by almighty God. Even though our heavenly Father permits his holy Church to be afflicted and plagued by various tribulations and distresses while serving during this most miserable and earthly pilgrimage, nevertheless, because it has been founded by Christ, the Lord, upon an immovable and most firm rock, it cannot be shaken or overthrown by any force or violence. Rather, "it is strengthened, not weakened by persecutions. The Lord's vineyard is always clothed with a richer harvest, for while each grain dies singly, it is born again manyfold."(2)
5. That is what we see happening, beloved sons and venerable brothers, even in these most sorrowful times as a special blessing from God. For although the immaculate Spouse of Christ may be vehemently troubled at the present time by the work of the wicked, yet she is triumphing over her enemies. Yes, indeed, she is conquering her enemies and shines wonderfully bright with your unparalleled faithfulness, love, and respect towards us and this Chair of Peter, and with your outstanding constancy and that of the other venerable brothers, the bishops of the whole Catholic world. She shines with many pious works of Christian charity multiplying rapidly each day; with the light of blessed faith illuminating many regions evermore each day; with the exceptional love and devotion shown by Catholics towards the Church itself, towards us, and this Holy See; with the eminent and immortal glory of martyrdom. You know, in fact, how in Tonkin and especially in the regions of Cochin China, bishops, priests, laymen and even peaceful women themselves, and young boys and girls, emulating the martyrs with their unconquerable spirit and heroic virtue, disdained the most inhuman torture, and greatly rejoiced to pour out their lives for Christ. All these joys should be no slight consolation to us and to you in the midst of the overwhelming anguish that torments us.
6. Now, since our Apostolic Office demands we carefully and zealously defend the cause of the Church committed to us by Christ, we condemn those who attack and despise the Church itself, its sacred laws, ministers, and this Apostolic See. Hence, with this letter, once more we confirm, proclaim and condemn totally and singly that which in many consistorial allocutions and in our other Letters we have been forced to deplore, declare and condemn.(3)
7. Here, too, our beloved sons and venerable brothers, it is again necessary to mention and censure a very grave error entrapping some Catholics who believe that it is possible to arrive at eternal salvation although living in error and alienated from the true faith and Catholic unity. Such belief is certainly opposed to Catholic teaching. There are, of course, those who are struggling with invincible ignorance about our most holy religion. Sincerely observing the natural law and its precepts inscribed by God on all hearts and ready to obey God, they live honest lives and are able to attain eternal life by the efficacious virtue of divine light and grace. Because God knows, searches and clearly understands the minds, hearts, thoughts, and nature of all, his supreme kindness and clemency do not permit anyone at all who is not guilty of