Rome, Jan. 12, 1870.
As it may be doubted by many whether the society of Fenians is included and denounced among the societies condemned in the Pontifical Constitution, our most holy Father Pius IX, having first taken the opinions of the eminent cardinals, the inquisitors general appointed to guard against heretical perversity in the universal Christian Republic, lest the hearts of the faithful, particularly the simple, should be perverted to the imminent danger of their souls, and adhering to the decrees to the congregation of the General Inquisition issued in like circumstances, especially the decree of July 5, 1865, has decreed and declared that the American or Irish society called Fenian is comprised among the societies forbidden and condemned in the Constitutions of the Supreme Pontiff, and in particular by that lately issued by his Holiness, dated October 29, 1869, beginning “Apostolicae Sedis;” in paragraph 4 of which are declared liable to sentence of excommunication, to be removed only by the Pope.
“Those sects called Freemasons, Carbonari, or any other kinds of sects which either openly or privately plot against the Church or legitimately constituted authorities, together with those who in any way favour the same; as also their secret heads or leaders, so long as they shall not have denounced them.”
He has therefore commanded this answer to be given to certain bishops who have asked the question.
Notary of the Holy Roman Inquisition.