An examination of Pius VII’s claim of a great conspiracy to destroy the teaching of Jesus Christ

September 5, 2015

The entire purpose of this blog is to examine Pope Pius VII’s claim, two centuries ago, that there was a great conspiracy to destroy the teaching of Jesus Christ, and to search out and publish any evidence that might back up this assertion.  This post will analyze the words of the claim itself in the encyclical Diu Satis and the admonition which follows.  Here are is what Pius VII wrote 215 years ago:

Therefore, omit no watchfulness, diligence, care, and effort, in order to “guard the deposit” of Christ’s teaching whose destruction has been planned, as you know, by a great conspiracy.

Let’s start at the end.  The subject of the claim, and one of the two great actors, is the last two words: the “great conspiracy.”  And we see why it must be a “great” conspiracy, because its goal is so ambitious: the “destruction” of the teaching of Jesus Christ.  The teaching which first appeared when an angel who was sent by God announced to a lone young woman in a backwater of the Roman Empire eighteen centuries earlier that she would bear a son in her womb and that He would be a holy thing, called the Son of God.  From the moment that Mary acquiesced in her ‘Fiat’ to that divine proclamation the world had never been the same.

It started in the hill country of Judea and in the City of David.  Then three decades later the God-man Himself proclaimed the Gospel across the dusty roads of Galilee and Judea and Samaria and was betrayed in Jerusalem by the people He had created out of nothing and handed over to the Romans who crucified Him, but that was not the end.  He walked out of the tomb that they had put Him in on the third day and ascended into heaven to sit at the right hand of God the Father Almighty.  He sent the Holy Spirit to give life to the Catholic Church and the word of life that that Church spread throughout the world, which was the teaching of this same Jesus Christ, went on to shake the foundations of kingdoms and unravel the empire of death that had spread around the world after the fall of our first parents and to liberate so many souls from slavery to sin and death.  This is what that conspiracy wanted to destroy and to erase from history.

A signal folly if you ask me, but we can at least understand why that such a goal would have to be accomplished by a conspiracy operating in the dark corners of human life.  No sane man would acquiesce to this goal if it were stated plainly to his face.  But why did Pius VII make this claim?  What evidence did he have?

The Holy Father did not give specifics in this encyclical, but what evidence he had appears also to have been known to those he addressed the encyclical since he includes the phrase “as you know.”  And since he had addressed the encyclical to the “Venerable Brothers, All Patriarchs, Archbishops and Bishops in Union and Favor with the Apostolic See,” we can assume that, whatever evidence he had, it was already known among the Church leadership of his day.  I won’t go into the question of evidence any more here since that is the whole purpose of this blog.

What were the concerns of the Holy Father regarding this conspiracy and its potential?  They appear to have been very grave since he exhorts the bishops to “omit no watchfulness, diligence, care, and effort” to guard the deposit of Faith.  These words indicate an adversary both seductive and deceitful, and apparently cunning enough to crawl through any crack that was left open.  His admonition in the following paragraph bears this out:

Do not admit anyone to the clergy, entrust to no one the ministry of the mysteries of God, allow no one to hear confessions or preach sermons, do not transfer any administration or office to anyone, before you carefully weigh, examine and “test their spirit to see if they are of God.”

Here we can see the reason for Pius VII’s grave concern: he believed that the Catholic clergy was a prime target for this conspiracy as logic would dictate.  He also seemed to believe that the tactics of this conspiracy were highly subtle and devious, thus the need for a careful sounding out and testing of their spirit.  Would that his command had been heeded!  The Church might have been saved from many horrors.  But that is another topic for another day.  There ends my brief analysis of Pope Pius VII’s claim of a great conspiracy to destroy the teaching of Jesus Christ.

Please pray three Hail Marys in honor of the Immaculate Heart of Mary.

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