Passage from
Encyclical Letter Singulari Quidem
Concerning the Salvation of Non-Catholics

March 17, 1856

Blessed Pope Pius IX

7. These are the people whom the Church seeks to bring back to sound reasoning with these words: “What is there more contrary to reason than to seek to exalt oneself above reason by means of reason itself? And what is more contrary to faith than to not want to believe that which we cannot attain by reason?”15 She never ceases to repeat to them that faith bases itself not on reason but on authority because it is not suitable that God, in speaking to mankind, should use arguments, as if we could refuse to believe. Rather, He spoke as was appropriate, as the supreme judge of everything, who does not have to argue but who rather issues His pronouncements. The Church clearly declares that the only hope of salvation for mankind is placed in the Christian faith, which teaches the truth, scatters the darkness of ignorance by the splendor of its light, and works through love. This hope of salvation is placed in the Catholic Church which, in preserving the true worship, is the solid home of this faith and the temple of God. Outside of the Church, nobody can hope for life or salvation unless he is excused through ignorance beyond his control. The Church teaches and proclaims that if sometimes we can use human wisdom to study the divine word, our wisdom should not for that reason proudly usurp to itself the right of master. Rather, it should act as an obedient and submissive servant, afraid of erring if it goes first and afraid of losing the light of interior virtue and the straight path of truth by following the consequences of exterior words.

8. We should not conclude that religion does not progress in the Church of Christ. There is great progress! But it is truly the progress of faith, which is not change. The intelligence, wisdom, and knowledge of everybody should grow and progress, like that of the whole Church of the ages. In this way we might understand more clearly what we used to believe obscurely; in this way posterity might have joy of understanding what used to be revered without understanding. In this way the precious stones of divine dogma might be worked, adapted exactly and wisely decorated, so that they increase in grace, splendor, and beauty—but always in the same fashion and doctrine, in the same meaning and judgment, so that we can speak of a new manner rather than new substance.

15 St. Bernard, Epistle 190.

This passage was taken from the text of Singulari Quidem in the Catholic Church Documents Library @ the Eternal Word Television Network website.
See also Quanto Conficiamur Moerore by Bl. Pope Pius IX.
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Lane Core Jr. (
Created August 1, 2001; not revised.