Pope Leo XIII in Testem:

"...we have often considered and admired the noble gifts of your nation which enable the American people to be alive to every good work which promotes the good of humanity and the splendor of civilization. Although this letter is not intended, as preceding ones, to repeat the words of praise so often spoken, but rather to call attention to some things to be avoided and corrected..."

Testem Benevolentiae Issued

January 22, 1899

Leo XIII's apostolic letter condemned the heresy of "Americanism." The letter was provoked by the publication of a biography of Fr. Isaac Hecker, and so appeared to call into question certain trends or positions common in the United States. The version of the biography which occasioned the pope's intervention, however, was published in France, and what drew attention to it was not Hecker's own life or views but the theological spin put on them by a French priest who wrote the preface. Its use of the term Americanism nonetheless seemed to implicate some Catholics in the United States, where the Americanist controversy had divided the hierarchy into two sides—one of which was sometimes identified as "Americanist."


Catholic Encyclopedia * Full text of Testem