Crisis Magazine’s Fake Quote attributed to Cardinal Manning

In the Crisis magazine article The Church of the Papal Fiat, by John A. Monaco (20 Jan 2022), the author presents a quote falsely attributed to Cardinal Edward Henry Manning, a father of Vatican I.

Monaco, supposedly quoting Manning: Though more nuanced on infallibility than Veuillot or Ward, Manning nonetheless believed that the definition was necessary and applied also to “truths of science, truths of history, dogmatic facts [for example, canonizations], and minor censures.”

No footnote is given for this quote, but a link jumps to a Google Books, to a partial preview of a book: VATICAN I: The Council and the Making of the Ultramontane Church by John W. O’Malley.

I purchased the Kindle version of the book from Amazon, and here is the full quote of what John W. O’Malley wrote:

O’Malley: Manning, though he shared many of Ward’s views, was not so extreme. Like Ward, he wanted to extend infallibility to encyclicals and other documents emanating from the Holy See, but he was more qualified than Ward in doing so. Yet, even after the council, he maintained that infallibility extended to “truths of science, truths of history, dogmatic facts [for example, canonizations], and minor censures.”30

Footnote 30 says: 30. Washburn, “Vatican Council,” p. 736.

My reference for the above quote and footnote from O’Malley: John W. O’Malley, The Council and the Making of the Ultramontane Church. Harvard University Press, 2018. Kindle Edition. Kindle location 1208 (p. 81).

So far, we have Crisis Magazine’s Monaco quoting a source, O’Malley, which quotes another source, Washburn.

Here is a link to a PDF file of the Washburn article. And this is the reference for the article: Washburn, Christian D. “The First Vatican Council, Archbishop Henry Manning, and Papal Infallibility.” The Catholic Historical Review 102.4 (2016): 712-745.

What does Washburn write? First this:

Washburn: Manning is also clear that the Church claims no juris-diction over “the processes of philosophy or science” nor over “the principles proper to such philosophy or science.”104 The pope can only judge whether these are in “conformity or variance” with the deposit of faith.105

The above quote makes it clear that Washburn sees Manning as only holding that the Church can decide whether a conclusion or assertion of philosophy or science is in conformity with the deposit of faith, or at variance with the deposit of faith, in which case it must be held to be false (if there is no way to reconcile this “variance”).

Nothing is controversial in that position by Manning, and Vatican I did dogmatically teach that the conclusions of any field of knowledge which are contrary to the dogmas of the faith must be rejected by the faithful. See the last section of this article. But this does not imply that Papal Infallibility extends to all the truths of science or history — except in the narrow sense that certain alleged truths of either can be rejected if contrary to dogma.

But then Washburn goes on to make a claim at variance with his own earlier and more reasonable assertion about Manning’s position:

Washburn: [1] The object of infallibility, then, is not only the whole revealed Word of God (i.e., primary objects) but also secondary objects (i.e., “all that is so in contact with revealed truth, that without treating of it, the Word of God could not be guarded, expounded, and defended”).109
[2] These truths include truths of science, truths of history, dogmatic facts, and minor censures, although he notes that this list is not exhaustive.110

The first sentence [1] of the above quote is fine. It is the teaching of the Church, found in the Catechism of the Catholic Church [2035, 2051] and many other sources, that infallibility has primary and secondary objects. Here is the phrasing in CCC 2051: “The infallibility of the Magisterium of the Pastors extends to all the elements of doctrine, including moral doctrine, without which the saving truths of the faith cannot be preserved, expounded, or observed.” The phrasing of the first sentence, but not of the second, is quite similar to Manning:

Manning: “First, that the infallibility of the Church extends, as we have seen, directly to the whole matter of revealed truth, and indirectly to all truths which though not revealed are in such contact with revelation that the deposit of faith and morals cannot be guarded, expounded, and defended without an infallible discernment of such unrevealed truths.” [p. 84]

Note that Washburn does not correctly quote Manning, word for word, in the first sentence of the above quote, but he has the correct meaning. However, the second sentence [2] in the quoted text is not from Manning and Washburn does not present it as a quote from Manning. It is merely Washburn’s claim as to what Manning held.

The above quoted second sentence is the Washburn, “Vatican Council,” p. 736. reference given by O’Malley. Notice that Washburn is NOT quoting Manning. Also note that the bracketed portion of the quote in Monaco and in O’Malley — “dogmatic facts [for example, canonizations]” — is not found in Washburn and is not attributed by Washburn to Manning. It was added by O’Malley.

Now the Washburn claim on the position of Manning has a footnote, which references:

Manning, The Vatican Council and Its Definitions, p. 84.

No such quote is found on that page, nor anywhere in the booklet by Manning that I could find. As for the claim that Manning asserts infallibility over “minor censures”, this is a serious distortion. Instead, Manning says this:

Manning in 1871: “In like manner all censures, whether for heresy or with a note less than heresy, are doctrinal definitions in faith and morals….” [Manning, p. 95]

What Manning refers to is grave errors against the dogmas of the faith, including both outright heresy and errors that are grave but might fall short of heresy. In discussing, this same topic earlier in the booklet, Manning writes this:

Manning: “Martin V. … requires belief, that is, interior assent, to all such condemnations made by the Council of Constance, which therein extended its infallible jurisdiction to all the minor censures, less than that of heresy.” [Manning, p. 82]

So Manning did NOT extend Papal Infallibility to all minor censures of the Apostolic See. Instead, he was referencing a decision of a particular Pope to the censures of an Ecumenical Council on grave doctrinal or moral errors which fall short of heresy. This is “minor” in a narrow sense, such as gravely erroneous ideas that are proximate to, or fall short of heresy. So the assertion by Washburn is highly misleading, as it is only Washburn’s inaccurate assessment of Manning’s position.

On the claim that Manning extended infallibility to “dogmatic facts [for example, canonizations]”, first note that dogmatic facts are, by definition, infallible. If it is a dogmatic fact, is must certainly be true. None but heretics deny that the Church can infallibly declare a fact to be dogmatic, such as which Ecumenical Councils and which Popes are valid. Second, the position that canonizations of Saints by the Roman Pontiff are infallible is the majority opinion of theologians today. Manning held an opinion on canonizations which is still widely held and easily supportable. This is not ultramontanism. It does not overextend the authority of the Roman Pontiffs. If the faithful were to venerate and imitate sinful persons as Saints, this would gravely harm the path of salvation. And since the Holy Spirit works in the authority of the Church to prevent such harm to salvation, the position that says infallibility applies to canonizations is clearly a tenable and faithful opinion.

Finally, we consider the claim that Manning over-extends infallibility to “truths of science, truths of history.” This is lie by distortion. Manning ONLY applies these areas of knowledge to infallibility, when two criteria are met, when history or science contradicts dogma, AND when the Pope exercises the supreme magisterium (in that regard).

Manning: “The Definition, then, limits the infallibility of the Pontiff to his supreme acts ex cathedra in faith or morals….” [p. 96]

And so this application of the infallibility of the Church to science and history does not allow the Roman Pontiff, outside of the science of theology, to decide questions of science in general, nor to issue an infallible book of history. Rather, it only pertains to those assertions, in any field of human knowledge, which contradict dogmas of the faith. Examples would be the claim that the universe has always existed, or that the universe created itself out of nothing. These claims of science are contrary to the dogma that God created “heaven and earth” — “earth” includes the whole “world” meaning the whole universe.

Another example would be the claim by some historians that Abraham or Moses or king David or even Jesus never existed. This is contrary to the teachings of infallible Sacred Scripture and contrary to the teachings of the Faith. Another example of an historical claim that is contrary to the Faith would be the conspiracy theories that propose periods of time when the Church was corrupt (Timothy Flanders’ pornocracy heresy), or the historical claim that the Church has been infiltrated by evil (Taylor Marshall’s infiltration heresy), or the historical claim that Vatican II was corrupted by the influence of certain persons working behind the scenes, or the historical claim that a “Mafia” called “St. Gallen” corrupted the election of Pope Francis. All such claims are contrary to the indefectibility of the Church and are certainly subject to a more specific condemnation by the infallible authority of the Pope or the Pope with the body of Bishops. If you think that the Church has been corrupted by Vatican I, or Vatican II, or Pope Francis or otherwise, you might as well claim that Jesus never existed. For you are claiming that Jesus has no power over His own Body, the Church, as if He did not exist, or as if He were not the Son of God.

Now let’s examine again the claims of the Crisis magazine article by John A. Monaco:

Monaco in Crisis magazine: Cardinal Henry Edward Manning, a convert from Anglicanism, was arguably one of the most influential ultramontanes at the council. Though more nuanced on infallibility than Veuillot or Ward, Manning nonetheless believed that the definition was necessary and applied also to “truths of science, truths of history, dogmatic facts [for example, canonizations], and minor censures.”

The internal quote “truths of science…minor censures” is not a quote from Manning, and it greatly misrepresents his position on Papal Infallibility, except that dogmatic facts are necessarily infallible — See Ratzinger’s commentary on Pope Saint John Paul II’s profession of faith — and canonizations are widely considered by theologians to be also infallible.

Now most of the quote is from Washburn, who was not quoting Manning, but the portion in brackets is from O’Malley, who presented his quote as if it were from Manning, when it is really Washburn’s distorted description of Manning’s position. Manning did not believe most of that quote, and he did not use those words.

As for the implied claim that the First Vatican Council was influenced by “ultramontanes” to issue a corrupt set of teaching on the Roman Pontiff, such a claim about any Ecumenical Council is heretical and schismatic. Rejection of the authority of an Ecumenical Council is rejection of the authority of Christ. Any claim that a Pope or Council has become corrupt in doctrine or discipline, and has therefore taught or acted with grave error is heretical and schismatic. The Church is apostolic and indefectible. Neither the Church as a whole, nor Her Roman Pontiffs, nor Her Apostolic College (the body of Bishops) can be corrupted, go astray from tradition, or lead the faithful astray.

What Vatican I Taught

Dei Filius:

7. Therefore we define that every assertion contrary to the truth of enlightened faith is totally false [34].

8. Furthermore the Church which, together with its apostolic office of teaching, has received the charge of preserving the deposit of faith, has by divine appointment the right and duty of condemning what wrongly passes for knowledge, lest anyone be led astray by philosophy and empty deceit [35].

9. Hence all faithful Christians are forbidden to defend as the legitimate conclusions of science those opinions which are known to be contrary to the doctrine of faith, particularly if they have been condemned by the Church; and furthermore they are absolutely bound to hold them to be errors which wear the deceptive appearance of truth.

10. Not only can faith and reason never be at odds with one another but they mutually support each other, for on the one hand right reason established the foundations of the faith and, illuminated by its light, develops the science of divine things; on the other hand, faith delivers reason from errors and protects it and furnishes it with knowledge of many kinds.

11. Hence, so far is the Church from hindering the development of human arts and studies, that in fact she assists and promotes them in many ways. For she is neither ignorant nor contemptuous of the advantages which derive from this source for human life, rather she acknowledges that those things flow from God, the lord of sciences, and, if they are properly used, lead to God by the help of his grace.

12. Nor does the Church forbid these studies to employ, each within its own area, its own proper principles and method: but while she admits this just freedom, she takes particular care that they do not become infected with errors by conflicting with divine teaching, or, by going beyond their proper limits, intrude upon what belongs to faith and engender confusion.

~ Notice that the Church does not intrude upon various areas of human arts and studies. They have a “just freedom” in pursuing truth with human reason. But when ANY area of human knowledge becomes “infected with errors by conflicting with divine teaching,” the Magisterium has the authority to teach authoritatively and even infallibly.

As for the teachings of Vatican I on the charisms of the Roman Pontiff, see this article.

Ronald L. Conte Jr.
Roman Catholic theologian and translator of the Catholic Public Domain Version of the Bible.

Please take a look at this list of my books and booklets, and see if any topic interests you.

This entry was posted in commentary. Bookmark the permalink.

3 Responses to Crisis Magazine’s Fake Quote attributed to Cardinal Manning

  1. Robert Fastiggi says:

    Dear Ron,

    Thank you very much for this post, and for setting the record straight about Cardinal Manning.
    I noticed that Fr. Z has endorsed Mr. Monaco’s article on Twitter. In an earlier article, Monaco claimed that neither Vatican I nor Vatican II rule out the possibility of a heretical pope: I find this claim difficult to reconcile with what Vatican I actually teaches.

  2. Adrian says:


    Our Lady provided a very cryptic message to Pedro Regis on January 20th:

    “Courage! In the helper will be the reason for suffering. The enemies want the key, but the power is with the Lord.”

    Do you have thoughts on the meaning of this passage?

    Thank you

    • Ron Conte says:

      The enemies of the Church, those who claim to be Catholic, want to exercise the keys of Saint Peter (two keys: doctrine and discipline), especially one particular Key over discipline and the holy Mass.

      The helper is someone who pretends to be helping the Pope, and then turns against him to lead schismatics. This may refer to a prominent antipope in the near future, a few years from now. I tend to think that the antipope will be a liberal who opposes the next conservative Pope, but I could be wrong.

Comments are closed.