The Oath Against Modernism (1910-1967) and Cardinal Walter Brandmüller’s Recent Words

Dr. Robert Hickson                                                                                              7 October 2019

Our Lady of the Rosary (1571 A.D.)


“We are only as courageous as we are convinced.” (Father John A. Hardon, S.J.)


In an article recently published on LifeSiteNews, the learned scholar and church historian, Cardinal Walter Brandmüller, reported the following fact and has thereby especially arrested my attention, in part because of its momentous implications. For, the proposed fact is also what G.K. Chesterton would have called a “Tremendous Trifle,” a seeming trifle, but momentous if one has the proper criterion.

Cardinal Brandmüller wrote the following:

The philosophy of German idealism [Kant and Hegel et al.]—which is fixed on human consciousness—and its connection with evolutionary thought had led to the result that one regarded religion as a product of the depth of the human soul which develops from one stage to the next higher one in the course of evolution and that religion therefore is subject to change. From today’s perspective [sic], one might consider some of the actions on the part of “Rome” in those years to have been rigid, but one cannot put in doubt the danger of these ideas—which one since then summarizes with the name “Modernism”—which were indeed undermining the foundations of the Faith.

That Pius X here pulled the emergency brake in this situation by demanding from theology teachers [and others] that they make the Oath Against Modernism [1910], one should not demean or ridicule it as an expression of “Roman alarmism.” It can, instead, astonish us that, of all people, the German theology professors were excluded from fulfilling this demand. They feared for their freedom in teaching and research, whose loss would have exposed them to some disdain in the academic world.1 [my emphasis added]

However, the German Cardinal does not then additionally present any more specificity or historical clarifications about this momentous German exemption, indeed this mysterious German dispensation and its consequent exclusion from the standard requirement, under obedience, to affirm the contents of that carefully crafted solemn Oath Against Modernism.

Was the Oath also exempted from the vows of the Austrians and others of the German linguistic groups in Europe or in Foreign Missions or as Germanic citizens in diaspora? Did it apply, as well, to ethnic German Catholic teachers dwelling in other cultures? Was the oath not even required of German theological teachers or broadly religious teachers in Rome? Was the German exclusion ever even written down and officially promulgated? If so, when? Where is the official document to be found? Was it in place even from the outset in 1910—or did it come quietly into the public later?

These are the kinds of questions I wanted to ask Cardinal Brandmüller, and my wife Maike Hickson even proceeded, in fairness, to ask him for some his further clarifications, if feasible, about that presented momentous fact.

I would also have some more questions to ask him about a later event: namely, the quiet 17 July 1967 rescinding of the 1910 Oath Against Modernism—which was done by the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith under the reign of Paul VI and with his approval.2

Was it the case that Modernism or an even more subtle Neo-Modernism was now to be tolerantly accepted and variously institutionalized within the modern Church? How are we to understand this removal of a grave 57-year-old Oath of honor?

But, did not the prelates and other clergy with their advisors (periti) during the 1962-1965 Second Vatican Council also face the danger of having perjured themselves especially if they had actually and obediently also earlier taken the solemn Oath Against Modernism—although the German delegates might well have had a mitigating dispensation and had thus been exempted from making the vow, even then and even in 1962-1965 Conciliar Rome?

By way of an analogous contrast, it was back in the 1980s that I first read—with Arnaud de Lassus’s indispensable help—Jean Madiran’s reliable analyses of two admittedly secret meetings in France—in Metz and in Strasbourg —conducted just before the October 1962 opening of the Second Vatican Council.3 The Metz meeting was with representatives of Soviet Communism and with the French Cardinal Eugène Tisserant from Rome. In Strasbourg, France, there was a secret meeting with representatives of modern Judaism and with Rome’s official representative, Father Yves Congar, O.P. (a Dominican who was later in 1994, shortly before his 1995 death, made a Cardinal by John Paul II).

Rather than now considering the troubling substance of these compromising agreements—intended to help guide the impending Pastoral Vatican Council as to the political action of both Communist forces and Jewish forces—we only want to raise a few questions: namely, to what extent were the Council Fathers informed about these important secret meetings and binding promises and subversive arrangements? To the extent that these two secret meetings were not disclosed, to what extent was the Pastoral Council playing with a crooked deck of cards, from the outset—even before the original Schemata were diverted and disposed of?

With so much talk afloat about openness and all that, there are many signs of oligarchic secret assemblies, protective censorship, and frightened self-censorship that gradually becomes a withering and atrophying self-censorship.

The intimately exoteric Catholic spirit of vital candor and robust lucidity thus now tends to become a more “occult organization of revolution.” That is to say, comprising both the fast path and the slow path of revolution. The principle of “solve et coagula” also now has more unimpeded scope for its Hegelian Dialectic and Evolutionary Pantheism. The Geist needs us, as it were, to complete Itself. Such “Process Philosophy” even boldly says that “God needs us to complete Himself.” The Church, we dare say, now still has Her work cut out for Her, sub Gratia Divina.

May we be able to face with courage some of those “Tremendous Trifles,” as well: Installed Neo-Modernism, for example. And still, during this pervasive Occupation, to preserve our font of “Battle Joy”!


© 2019 Robert D. Hickson

1 (The invited commentary and article by Cardinal Brandmüller, with its English translation from the German and with its brief introduction being both presented by Dr. Maike Hickson, is only some seven pages in length, and the public article is entitled “Dubia Cardinal warns Church in Germany against synodal path that leads to ‘final decline.’”)

2AAS-59-1967; see here for the original 1910 Oath Against Modernism:; and see here for the replacement Profession of Faith:

3Since the electronic archives of Apropos Magazine do not seem anymore to be available, I shall give herewith links to other websites with the two Jean Madiran articles:;

9 thoughts on “The Oath Against Modernism (1910-1967) and Cardinal Walter Brandmüller’s Recent Words

  1. The Modernization 3.0
    There is this sinister modernism striving to thwart God’s plans, condemned by Saint Pius X. There is also this benevolent modernism through which God’s Providence renews the face of the world by leading humanity towards salvation.
    When the Mosaic religion (1.0) degenerated into the synagogue of Satan, God personally intervened: The Eternal Word left the Jerusalem Temple and initiated the Church of Christ (2.0). The God’s religion was then thoroughly modernized, and its protagonists in the eyes of the followers of the Old Order were considered damned modernists.
    When, after long centuries of cultivating pure Catholic faith in the New Order, Catholic clergy began humanly “modernizing” the Church of Christ with the ideas of the spirit of this world, always against God’s plans, Pope Pius X ordered the clergy to take an anti-modernist oath. It was introduced by motu proprio ‘Sacrorum antistitum’ on September 1, 1910, when Catholic calendars mention Joshua the Patriarch. Joshua, son of Nun, brought the Israelites into the Promised Land, and in fact into the pagan Canaan, where they had to fight against local kings and their own weakness for other gods. His namesake, Jesus Christ, our Lord and Savior, introduced his Church, the new Israelites, to pagan Rome, where they must continue to fight against the followers of Satanic cults and ideologies. Despite their anti-modernist oath, Catholic bishops carried out a modernist coup at the Second Vatican Council. And under this yoke of satanic oppression and human stupidity, the Church bends down until now and finally falls.
    Would Santa Ecclesia not reach the Promised Land, where she would have an undisturbed peace? [Luke 1, 71-75]:
    [When God finally] will “save us from our enemies
    and from the hands of all who hate us;
    [when] he shows our fathers mercy
    and remember his holy covenant,
    On the oath he made
    our father Abraham.
    [When] he gives us that they were pulled out of the power of their enemies,
    we will serve him without fear,
    In piety and justice before Him
    all our days. ”
    When? After the last modernization of the revealed Divine religion: God will make the Paraclete come out of the dying Mystical Body of Jesus Christ and bring the chosen, the Congregation of Saints, into the Kingdom of God on earth. For this modernization (3.0) to take place, Pope Paul VI abolished the anti-modernist oath, July 17, 1967, after 56 years of its validity (except for the Germans, known seedbeds of harmful novelties). That day, the Roman Catholic church remembers Saint Alexius of Rome. This ‘Man of God’, as the Voice of Heaven called him, is a prefiguration … of this Paraclete *. It follows from the above that God’s Providence watches over Santa Ecclesia at any time, even to us mortals, it seems that all is lost.

    October 23, 2019, the commemoration of Saint Ignatius, the Patriarch of Constantinople

    *I explained it in the text “The Conflagration at Saint Sulpice – The Fire comes out of the Church”.


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