James White, the Syllabus of Errors, Religious Liberty and Freemasonry

Pope Pius IX

When I talk to fellow Catholics, I often like to know where they stand on their faith.  I throw out a standard question: Who is your favorite Pope in the last 200 years?

I recall one time eating brunch after Church with some Traditional Catholics, one of whom was a seminarian.  I asked my standard question about their favorite Pope in the last 200 years.  The answer was a unanimous Pius IX.  I knew that I was in good company.  Pius IX is famous for many things.  He defined the doctrine of Mary’s Immaculate Conception, presided over the First Vatican Council, and was the last Pope of the Papal States.  Despite all of this, he’s probably most famous for his brilliant document called The Syllabus of Errors.

Along with it’s accompanying document Quanta Cura, the Syllabus condemns many of the abominations of the modern West and at the heart of these is religious liberty.  Calvinist apologist James White recently debated Catholic apologist Peter Williams on if the Protestant reformation was necessary.

It was on Unbelievable and the official title was The Reformation: Return to Truth or Tragic Mistake?  Anyone who reads this blog can only guess what my answer would be to that question.  Regardless, what caught my ear more than anything in that debate was James White’s comments at around 48 minutes in where he half-jokingly said: “I would like to talk about the Papal Syllabus of Errors and its denial of religious freedom sometime.”

It’s quite funny, being in the pro-life movement, I talk to a lot of Protestants.  Many of them are starting to realize that religious liberty is bogus.  Often, I invite my Protestant friends to read Quanta Cura and the Syllabus of Errors.  Many Protestants that I know who have taken me up on the offer to read these documents have been quite impressed by them.  Both Catholics and Protestants who take their faith seriously are starting to realize that Democracy is dead.  In fact, it was dead on arrival and one of the reasons why was the idea of religious freedom.

At my old job I was talking with a friend of mine who was a Calvinist.  I started talking with him about these issues and the conversation went like this:

Me: The two biggest errors of democracy that have ruined our civilization are freedom of speech…

Calvinist: …and freedom of religion.

He actually finished the sentence for me.  More and more Protestants are starting to realize that Pope Pius IX and the Syllabus of Errors were correct.  Freedom of religion has failed because it was an empty shell.

It is unfortunate that James White would prefer to side with freedom of religion which was ironically promoted by Freemasonry to weaken Christianity.  Freedom of speech and freedom of religion have led to the rise of demons in the West.  These demons are abortion, homosexual “marriage”, rampant pornography, feminism, Darwinism and a truckload of other plagues.  These were unheard of in Spain during the Holy Inquisition or in the Papal States.

I would invite James White to join the small but growing number of Protestants who are waking up to the disasters of the French Revolution.  Jesus Christ is King, and he shares His crown with no one.  Religious liberty contradicts this across the board.  We need this movement to pick up steam.  It would really help if White came on board.


The dialogue with White and Williams can be found here:


To learn more about Pope Pius IX, one can go to http://piustheninth.com/

Please note: I reserve the right to delete comments that are offensive or off-topic.

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21 thoughts on “James White, the Syllabus of Errors, Religious Liberty and Freemasonry

  1. Stimulating as always.

    I’m no scholar of the papacy but my favourite pope is undoubtedly Benedict XVI – a brilliant and devout man. I well remember his visit to England and what a joyful occasion that was, which contrasted greatly with the all-pervading gloom that we suffered regarding public affairs around that time.

    I daresay I should take your suggestion and look at Pius IX. For myself I disagree with the doctrine of the Immaculate Conception (I would not agree that anyone is conceived in sin, nor inherit sin from Adam), and I consider it unwise to make such pronouncements and declare them infallible, so I already have reservations about him. Nevertheless, unlike the pope when speaking ex cathedra I do not consider myself infallible and try to be fairly open to other points of view so maybe I should consider his pronouncements and his papacy carefully. I shall look him up.

    Furthermore, whilst I am a life-long Catholic I consider that the Protestant reformation was indeed necessary, but it is wrong that Catholics and Protestants are still apart.

    Re: James White. I make a point of listening to him. He is a brilliant scholar whom I admire for his learning and his insight, but I hold no truck at all with Calvinism. Furthermore I have noticed more and more that Dr White is quite hostile towards Catholics and others. As mentioned before his Love and Charity towards Muslims is in marked contrast to his attitude to Chrisians of other denominations, particularly Roman Catholics. This make me feel quite sad. Lately I have also noticed his hostility towards Dr William Lane Craig who is distinguished for his intellect and his Christian charity: when Dr Craig disagrees with someone he also displays Love towards them. William Lane Craig has been using his intellect and God-given ability to reason a bit too much for Dr White’s taste rather than deciding that he must take the Old Testament literally.

    Dr White’s devotion to the Scripture is admirable but like many evangelicals he has a bit of a blind spot regarding the weaknesses of his position regarding sola scriptura. This is particularly noticeable in his debates with Muslims when he quotes St Paul almost as though he has the authority of Christ but he doesn’t appreciate that this hold no weight compared to the words of the Lord Jesus. (If it is Scripture it is authoritative according to him – my view is that Paul was a very wise man and someone whom we ought to heed but it is Christ that we follow, Paul is a very wise, well-educated and enlightened advisor.)

    I’m all for freedom of religion and freedom of speech. Perhaps I can cheer you up by pointing out that if the evils of the world were suppressed by an all-powerful Church then it’s power would attract corruption. Better perhaps for the Church to be less powerful and a little bit apart from the machinery of the state so that it is not dragged wholly into the wickedness of the world. Perhaps we ought to consider that we are living as Christians in a new version of the second century of the Roman Empire?

  2. Have you read “The Kidnapping of Edgardo Mortara” by David I. Kertzer? The theme of the book is about the overthrow of the papal states and the end of the church’s governing power in Italy. The plot begins with the papal state’s appropriation of custody of a jewish merchant’s son who was baptised under fear of death. The law then prohibited jewish parents to raise a christian child. Pius IX raised him under his protection and reportedly refused to return him to his parents (cfr. Catholic Herald). Supposedly this type of kidnapping was common and came to symbolize the secularizing revolution of Mazzini and Garibaldi. Spielberg is now producing a movie based on the book.

    My question is: how did JPII canonize him in 2000 by overlooking the reported fact that Pius IX didn’t return the child to his jewish parents. How did this canonization avoid outcry?



    • No, I haven’t read the book by Kertzer but I read about this case a few years back. What happened with the Jewish boy was wrong. This is the fault of the local inquisitor in his town making a bad decision. It is true that Pope Pius IX took him as a pupil but I’m not sure Pius knew everything that had happened. He probably knew that there was some controversy but didn’t bother looking into it. That’s what I think. If he knew everything and didn’t do anything, then it’s a big black mark on him.

      I should point out that Kertzer is extremely anti-Catholic. That doesn’t mean he’s wrong though and this is obviously a bad incident. However, when Edgardo reached adulthood, he chose to remain Christian.

      You said:

      “My question is: how did JPII canonize him in 2000 by overlooking the reported fact that Pius IX didn’t return the child to his jewish parents. How did this canonization avoid outcry?”

      JPII only beatified him. He is not a saint yet. And you are wrong as there was a huge outcry about this. The ADL, the premier Jewish professional victim organization made a fuss about it. I should make it clear that many Jews are ashamed of the ADL as it is a disgraceful organization, it’s not just me.

      Also, Kertzer’s thesis that this led to the fall of the Papal States is ridiculous. The Papal States fell because Napoleon III withdrew his 10,000 men garrison from the Papal States to fight in the Franco-Prussian war. At this point, the Papal States only had the Zouaves to defend Rome which was essentially a volunteer army.

      Spielberg does want to make a movie about this case. You can predict now that it’ll be a smear on the Catholic Church and Pius IX. I expect nothing better from Spielberg based on the other points of history that he’s fudged in his movies.

      Can you imagine if the Church tried to canonize Mortara? I can only imagine how the ADL would just explode in anger!

      • Hold on, what specifically is the problem with Pope Pius IX and the Jewish boy? The only problem I can see is that the evidence that a valid emergency baptism was performed may be questionable. However, I admit I’m not aware of all the details surrounding that case.

        I would defend canon law in that a licit baptism can be performed on a child in an emergency situation even against the will of the parents. I would also defend the practice of the time (that may have been canon law too?) of forbidding baptized children to be raised by non-Catholics.

        • Hey Chris,

          I don’t know all of the details either. I’ve only read articles and a couple academic papers on it. I do want to read Kertzer’s book. Although it will be bent against the Church and the Papacy, it’ll give the basic outline of the story.

  3. Hello Allan,

    Good post. I have found on a number of occasions that Mr. White’s knowledge of Catholicism is not nearly as deep and broad as he thinks it is.

    I am currently working on a post that will be a defense of John’s Gospel against the numerous attacks that Muslims, Unitarians, liberals and skeptics employ to undermine this deep and profound witness of the Holy Spirit through Christ’s ‘beloved’ apostle.

    I mention this because it was just yesterday that I reread Pope Leo XIII’s marvelous defense of the Sacred Scriptures via his encyclical, PROVIDENTISSIMUS DEUS.

    Given the ongoing attacks on the Scriptures from so many different fronts, I maintain that this encyclical is a must read for both Catholics and non-Catholics.

    Grace and peace,


    • Hey David,

      I think Dr. White likes to use straw man arguments. Many of his points have been refuted but he still acts as if they’re solid refutations. Robert Sungenis exposed Dr. White’s misuse of the Pope Honorius events to disprove Papal Infallibility. Yet, I’ve heard him talk about the Honorius issue disproving the doctrine since that debate. Pretty sad considering White is very well read.

      I did a post on the top 5 encyclicals of the 19th century. It included Quanta Cura, the Syllabus of Errors, and Providentissimus Deus. You can read it here:


      • I have never seen a credible way to get out of the fact that Pope Honorius was condemned as a heretic and for over 300 years afterward, all subsequent Popes condemned him as a heretic.

        Those facts prove the Infallibility dogma of 1870 was anachronistic and wrong, and Newman (before it was declared as dogma) and Ignaz Von Dollinger and lord John Acton were all right; but Newman was forced to submit to it after it was defined as dogma.

        • Watch the debate between Dr. Sungenis and James White regarding the Honorius issue. I don’t feel like explaining the Honorius thing here.

          • Amazing that you think Sungenis made a good argument for Papal infallibility and amazing that you think Sungenis was able to show that Honorius did not violate the infallibility dogma. He clearly did when the history says, “Satan raised up for the whole church these heretics – Honorius, Sergius, etc. . . .”


            A section From Dr. White’s article on the issue, which he used in this debate: article: Failure to Document:
            Catholic Answers Glosses Over History

            “The Facts about Honorius:
            Honorius was the bishop of Rome from 625 to 638. In 634 Sergius, the patriarch of Constantinople, wrote to Honorius concerning Sergius’ attempts to bring the monophysites, those who asserted that there was only one nature in Christ, into the catholic fold. Sergius was a monothelite, one who believed that while Christ was indeed one person with two natures, He had but one will, since the will was a function of the one person, not a function of the two natures. Honorius, in responding to Sergius, provides the single clearest example of Papal error that violates the definition of infallibility as given by Rome itself. Honorius agreed with Sergius, clearly, in his first letter. He wrote to Sergius as the bishop of Rome, not as a private theologian. He responded as the bishop of Rome to an official inquiry to the See of Rome regarding a matter of faith and morals. He wrote to a fellow bishop of the church, and in speaking of the very issue of whether Christ had one will or two, he wrote, e}n qevlhma oJmologou`men tou` Kurivou j Ihsou Cristou. Make sure you note the use of the plural, “we confess.” Honorius did not say, “Oh, I think maybe it’s like this.” He employed the very same plural that Roman bishops use today to refer to their representation of the church as a whole.

            Now we surely can safely admit that Honorius was not the leading theologian of his day. He made an error based upon ignorance of the issues involved. The biblical standard of the elder or bishop in the church is not, thankfully, infallibility. And surely no one in that day believed in papal infallibility, so to judge Honorius on the basis of modern standards is without merit. His case is famous for no other reason than the glaring and obvious anachronism of Rome’s modern teaching. Rome proclaims her bishop infallible when teaching as the pastor of all Christians on matters of faith and morals. Obviously, it was the intention of the Vatican decree to say that the bishops of Rome have always had this “charism of infallibility,” which would mean it is the Roman Catholic position that this teaching was valid in Honorius’ day just as much as it is today. So it is Rome that has placed the spotlight upon all the Popes of history, not Protestants.

            Now, there is absolutely, positively no question that Honorius was, in fact, condemned as a heretic by the 6th Ecumenical Council which met in Constantinople in 680-681 for a teaching he promulgated in an official letter sent to Sergius as the bishop of Rome.

            1. His condemnation is found in the Acts in the 13th Session, near the beginning.
            2. His two letters were ordered to be burned at the same session as being “hurtful to the soul.” This includes the letter that contains the phrase e}n qevlhma oJmologou`men (hen thelema homologoumen).
            3. In the 16th Session the bishops exclaimed “Anathema to the heretic Sergius, to the heretic Cyrus, to the heretic Honorius, etc.”
            4. In the decree of faith published at the 18th Session it is stated that “the originator of all evil… found a fit tool for his will in… Honorius, Pope of Old Rome, etc.” Further, this Ecumenical Council said that Honorius taught the heretical doctrine. They said that Satan had “actively employed them in raising up for the whole Church the stumbling-blocks of one will and one operation in the two natures of Christ our true God, one of the Holy Trinity; thus disseminating, in novel terms, amongst the orthodox people, an heresy …”
            5. The Papal legates, representatives of Pope Agatho, made no attempt to stop the burning of the letters, and subscribed to every anathema placed upon Honorius, as well as to the statement that Satan himself had used the bishop of Rome as a “tool for his will.”
            6. The report of the Council to the Emperor says that “Honorius, formerly bishop of Rome” they had “punished with exclusion and anathema” because he followed the monothelites.
            7. In its letter to Pope Agatho the Council says “We have destroyed the fort of the heretics, and slain them with anathema, in accordance with the sentence spoken before in your holy letter, namely, Theodore of Paran, Sergius, Honorius, Cyrus, etc.” Note that the Council believed its actions to be in full accord with Agatho’s wishes and Agatho’s letter!
            8. The imperial decree speaks of the “unholy priests who infected the Church and falsely governed” and mentions among them “Honorius, the Pope of Old Rome, the confirmer of heresy who contradicted himself.” The Emperor goes on to anathematize “Honorius who was Pope of Old Rome, who in everything agreed with them, went with them, and strengthened the heresy.”
            9. Pope Leo II confirmed the decrees of the Council and expressly says that he too anathematized Honorius. So strong was Leo’s confirmation that Baronius rejected it, saying it had to have been spurious, and even Cardinal Bellarmine tried to say it had been corrupted. Neither saw in Leo’s words any softening of the Council’s act, though some modern Catholic apologists have attempted to find in Leo’s sentence a ray of hope: Leo anathematizes Honorius “who did not illuminate this apostolic see with the doctrine of apostolic tradition, but permitted her who was undefiled to be polluted by profane teaching.”
            10. That Honorius was anathematized by the Sixth Council is mentioned in the canons of the Council of Trullo which met less than two decades after Constantinople (Trullan Canons No. 1). This shows that the condemnation of Honorius was accepted by the wider church immediately after the Council, and amongst those who were familiar with Leo’s letter.
            11. So too the Seventh Council declares its adhesion to the anathema in its decree of faith, and in several places in the acts the same is said.
            12. Honorius’s name was found in the Roman copy of the Acts. This is evident from Anastasius’s life of Leo II. (Vita Leonis II.) This means that in Rome itself the condemnation with anathema as a heretic was embraced and accepted.
            13. The Papal Oath as found in the Liber Diurnus taken by each new Pope up to the eleventh century, states in no uncertain terms, “smites with eternal anathema the originators of the new heresy, Sergius, etc., together with Honorius, because he assisted the base assertion of the heretics.” Every single Pope who took to the chair of Peter for three hundred years did so by anathematizing his predecessor, Honorius.
            14. In the lesson for the feast of St. Leo II in the Roman Breviary the name of Pope Honorius occurs among those excommunicated by the Sixth Synod, and the name remains there until the sixteenth century! “

  4. Hi Allan,
    You and I and James White agree on a lot of things; and some of your comments at Paul Williams’ blog are great!

    However, how and what is your solution to the problems of radical atheism, abortion, homosexuality, same sex marriage, pornography, Darwinism, modernism, feminism, etc. that were unheard of during the Spanish Inquisition period, etc.?

    The American Revolution and freedom of religion in the US Declaration of Independence and Constitution is different than the French Revolution’s basis for it.

    Vatican 2 and post Vatican 2 theology is a contradiction to all of RC tradition before it on these matters.
    Are you a Sedevacantist (that the chair of Peter is empty and has been since Pope Pius XII) ?

    We agree on the moral decay, etc. – but how can “freedom of religion” be turned back?

    • “However, how and what is your solution to the problems of radical atheism, abortion, homosexuality, same sex marriage, pornography, Darwinism, modernism, feminism, etc. that were unheard of during the Spanish Inquisition period, etc.?”

      Scripture and tradition. The same answer to every problem.

      Yes, Vatican II does contradict the teachings that came before it on this matter. However, according to Paul VI in his Dec 7, 1965 closing speech of the council and according to Cardinal Ratzinger(Later Benedict XVI) in 1988 the council was not infallible. This is also made plain by reading the documents. Therefore they can and will be reversed one day.

      Yes, it is a problem that most Catholic prelates are promoting the heresy of freedom of religion but Our Lady’s Immaculate Heart will triumph. Also, coincidence today is the 100th anniversary of Fatima!

      How can it be turned back? As time goes on, people are seeing that democracy is a monumental failure. It’s only getting worse. I don’t know all of the details on how things will return but I know that God is in control and I trust Him.

      Not a Sede btw.

      • “Scripture and Tradition” is very general and vague.

        How would tradition help you or RC’s get political and police and military power (which is what it would require) to force people to no longer have freedom of religion and thought?

        I don’t see how you could turn back the clock to the Spanish Inquisition days.

        • How would tradition help you or RC’s get political and police and military power (which is what it would require) to force people to no longer have freedom of religion and thought?

          People can think anything they want. It’s just that in a Christian society, they can’t promote their abominations. Freedom of speech and religion is what Catholicism opposes.

          How would we return to that society? To be honest, I don’t know, but we’ve done it before and we can, and will do it again. Christ is King and it’s the job of every Christian to proclaim it.

        • Ken Temple,
          What are you trying to say here? Is it simply that it would be difficult to reestablish a Christian confessional state? Or rather do you disagree that freedom of religion is a false doctrine?

          Do you realize that the moral decay of our time is in part due to the enshrinement of the doctrines of religious freedom, freedom of the press, and freedom of speech, to be found in the US founding documents?

          You ask how freedom of religion will be turned back. That’s a challenging and difficult question to answer, that will ultimately involve many conversions to the traditional Catholic faith. What’s necessary is a huge societal change in philosophy. Every society has deep philosophical presuppositions that guide the way it operates. Western society has been operating under Enlightenment presuppositions for a few centuries now. Those ideas must be jettisoned in favour of “Scripture and Tradition”. Part of that process must be to recognize that the doctrine of freedom of religion is bankrupt. Only then will we have the correct footing to right the moral decay of our time.

          • “Traditional Catholic Faith” = heresies of gutting the heart of gospel by anathematizing the doctrine of justification by faith apart from works. “alone” is a short way of saying, “apart from the merit and conditions of works” (Romans 3:28; 4:5; 5:1; Ephesians 2:8-9; Philippians 3:9; Acts 13:38-39; John 5:24; 3:16) (But true faith does not stay alone, it results in good works, fruit, change, growth, hatred of sin, deeper levels of repentance, hunger for God and His Word, love for prayer and fellowship with God’s people in a Biblical church, etc. (James 2:14-26; Ephesians 2:10)- justification by faith alone means the only way or alone instrument by which one enters into relationship with God; “cleansing their hearts by faith” (Acts 15:9-11). True faith in Christ alone includes within it true conversion repentance (mark 1:15- repent and believe). The Council of Trent (1545-1563) made the Roman Catholic Church a false church and heresy.

            Also, all the man-made traditions of adding to the word of God – worshiping Mary, praying to Mary, statues, icons, Marian dogmas beyond the virgin conception of Christ (Matthew 1:18-25; Luke 1-2) , trafficking in relics; prayers to the dead, purgatory, Transubstantiation, indulgences, treasury of merit, Papal doctrines and dogmas, thinking a physical ritual causes grace to come down from heaven ex opere operato – all of these things corrupted true Biblical Christianity. Your religion violates clear verses like 1 Timothy 2:5; Mark 7 and Matthew 15; Romans chapters 3-5, the book of Galatians, etc.

          • “freedom of religion” means that no government or person should force someone else to become a Christian.

            We rely on the power of God’s word and the power of the Holy Spirit to convert people.

            It was a return to the first 4 centuries of Christianity.

        • That is incorrect. Religious freedom is not understood as a freedom from coerced conversion. It has to do with freedom from the state’s repression of religious expression, worship, and propagation. In the United States, religious freedom takes the additional step of the state taking no preference in any particular religion. Whereas, the traditional Catholic doctrine is that the state has a duty to enshrine Christ as the true king, and that false religions ought to be justly suppressed or limited for the sake of the common good.