Skip to content
Catholic Online Logo

This letter was issued by Alexander VII , and is dated at Rome, 16 October, 1656, the second year of his pontificate. It is a confirmation of the Constitution of Innocent X, by which he condemned five propositions taken from the work entitled Augustinus of Cornelius Jansenius, Bishop of Ypres. The letter opens with an explanation of the reason for its publication. It observes that, although what has already been defined in the Apostolic Constitutions needs no confirmation by any future decisions, yet, since some try to cast doubt upon these definitions or to neutralise their effort by false interpretations, the apostolic authority must not defer using a prompt remedy against the spread of the evil. The letter then refers to the decision of Innocent X, and quotes the words of its title in order to show that it was a decision for all the faithful. But as a controversy had arisen, especially in France, on five propositions taken from the Augustinus , several French bishops submitted them to Alexander VII for a clear, definite decision. The letter thus enumerates these five propositions: (1) There are some divine precepts which are impossible of observance by just men willing and trying to observe them according to their present strength; the grace also is wanting to them, by which those precepts are possible. (2) In the state of fallen nature interior grace is not resisted. (3) For merit and demerit, in the state of fallen nature, libertas a necessitate (liberty to choose) is not necessary for man ; libertas a coactione (freedom from external compulsion) is enough. (4) The Semipelagians admitted the necessity of interior preventing grace ( praevenientis gratiae interioris ) for each and every act, even for the beginning of faith ( initium fidei ); and in that they were heretical, inasmuch as they held that grace to be such as the human will could resist or obey. (5) It is Semipelagian to say that Christ died, or shed His blood for all men.

The letter then goes on to declare that, those five propositions having been submitted to due examination each was found to be heretical. The letter repeats each proposition singly, and formally condemns it. It next declares that the decision binds all the faithful, and enjoins on all bishops to enforce it, and adds, "We are not to be understood, however, by making this declaration and definition on those five propositions, as at all approving other opinions contained in the above-named book of Cornelius Jansenius." Moreover, since some still insisted that those propositions were not to be found in the Augustinus , or were not meant by the author in the sense in which they were condemned, the letter furthermore declares that they are contained in the Augustinus , and have been condemned according to the sense of the author.


More Encyclopedia

The Catholic Encyclopedia is the most comprehensive resource on Catholic teaching, history, and information ever gathered in all of human history. This easy-to-search online version was originally printed in fifteen hardcopy volumes.

Catholic Encyclopedia

Designed to present its readers with the full body of Catholic teaching, the Encyclopedia contains not only precise statements of what the Church has defined, but also an impartial record of different views of acknowledged authority on all disputed questions, national, political or factional. In the determination of the truth the most recent and acknowledged scientific methods are employed, and the results of the latest research in theology, philosophy, history, apologetics, archaeology, and other sciences are given careful consideration.

No one who is interested in human history, past and present, can ignore the Catholic Church, either as an institution which has been the central figure in the civilized world for nearly two thousand years, decisively affecting its destinies, religious, literary, scientific, social and political, or as an existing power whose influence and activity extend to every part of the globe. In the past century the Church has grown both extensively and intensively among English-speaking peoples. Their living interests demand that they should have the means of informing themselves about this vast institution, which, whether they are Catholics or not, affects their fortunes and their destiny.

Copyright © Catholic Encyclopedia. Robert Appleton Company New York, NY. Volume 1: 1907; Volume 2: 1907; Volume 3: 1908; Volume 4: 1908; Volume 5: 1909; Volume 6: 1909; Volume 7: 1910; Volume 8: 1910; Volume 9: 1910; Volume 10: 1911; Volume 11: - 1911; Volume 12: - 1911; Volume 13: - 1912; Volume 14: 1912; Volume 15: 1912

Catholic Online Catholic Encyclopedia Digital version Compiled and Copyright © Catholic Online


Newsletters

Newsletter Sign Up icon

Stay up to date with the latest news, information, and special offers

Daily Readings

Reading 1, Job 3:1-3, 11-17, 20-23
1 In the end it was Job who broke the silence and ... Read More

Psalm, Psalms 88:2-3, 4-5, 6, 7-8
2 may my prayer reach your presence, hear my cry for ... Read More

Gospel, Luke 9:51-56
51 Now it happened that as the time drew near for him ... Read More

Saint of the Day

Saint of the Day for September 30th, 2014 Image

St. Jerome
September 30: St. Jerome, who was born Eusebius Hieronymous Sophronius, was ... Read More

Inform, Inspire & Ignite Logo

Find Catholic Online on Facebook and get updates right in your live feed.

Become a fan of Catholic Online on Facebook


Follow Catholic Online on Twitter and get News and Product updates.

Follow us on Twitter