« AnteriorContinuar »
of the American experiment at heart. The evils which the liberals charge to the union of church and state, and hold the church responsible for, spring, as every impartial and intelligent student of history knows, not from the union but from the separation of church and state, and the unremitting efforts of the civil power to usurp the functions of the spiritual power, and to make the church the accomplice of its policy. The terrible struggles of the pope and emperor in the middle ages had this cause and no other. The pope simply songht to maintain against the emperor the freedom and independence of the church, the kingdom of God on earth, that is, true religious liberty. It is to the partial, in some countries the complete, triumph of the secular over the spiritual, that we must attribute the insettled, disorderly, and revolutionary state of contemporary society throughout the civilized world, the hatred or contempt of authority both divine and human, the depression of religion, the decline of intellectual greatness, the substitution of opinion for faith, a sickly sentimentalism for a manly and robust piety, free-lovism or divorce ad libitum for Christian marriage, and the general abasement of character.
The evils are very real, but the more perfect divorce of the state from the church would not cure or lessen, but only aggravate and intensify them; nay, would to all human foresight render them incurable. The state without religion or moral obligation is impotent to redress social evils or to elevate society, and Protestantism, which holds from the people, and depends for its very breath of life on popular opinion, is no less impotent than the state. Protestantism, having retained some elements of religion from the church, may, we readily concede, do something to retard the fall of a nation that accepts it, but when a Protestant nation has once fallen, become morally and politically corrupt, rotten to the core, it has no power to restore it; for it has no principle of life to infuse into it above and beyond that which it already has. Resting on human authority, holding from the nation or people, its life is only the national lite itself; and, of course, when the national life grows weak, its own life grows weak, and when the national life is extinct, its own life becomes extinct with it. Cut off from the church of God, and therefore from Him who is
the wav, the truth, and the life,” it cannot draw new supplies of life from the fountain of life itself, with which to revive and reinvigorate the fallen nation.
This is wherefore there is no hope for our republic under Protestantism. There has been a sad falling-off in the virtue, the honesty, the integrity, the chastity, and public spirit of our people in the last fifty years. The old habits formed under Catholic discipline and influences are wearing out, if not worn out; intellectual culture may be more general, though even that may be questioned, but it is less generous, thorough, and profound ; meeting-houses may be increased in greater proportion than the population itself, but theology is less studied—is less intellectual, less scientific, and is more superficial ; and religion has less hold on the conscience, and less influence on life, public, private, or domestic; and we may say, generally, that in all save what belongs to the material order, our republic has a downward tendency. Now, since Protestantism has nothing more or higher than the republic, and no recuperative power, how, then, can it possibly arrest this downward tendency and turn it upward, and save the nation? Archimedes wanted something whereon to stand outside of the world in order to move it. This Protestantisin has not, for it rests on the world, and has nothing above the world or outside of it, and in fact is only the world itself. To every one who understands the great law of mechanic force, which has its analogue in the great principle of moral or spiritual dynamics, it is clear that the hope of the republic is not and cannot be in Protestantism, and there is just as little in the civil order, for that, divorced from the church and without any moral obligation, is precisely that which needs saving. The union of the various Protestant sects in one organic body, if it were possible, would avail nothing; for the whole would be only the sum of the parts, and the parts having no supramundane life, the whole could have none.
Hence we say that whatever hope there is for our republic is in the growth and predominance of the Catholic Church in the minds and hearts of the American people; and there is a well-grounded hope for it only in the prospect that she inay before it is too late become the church of the great majority. The church has what Archimedes wanted, and Protestantism has not-the whereon to stand outside and above the world. She lives a life which is not derived from the life of the world, and is in communion with the Source of life itself, whence she may be constantly drawing fresh supplies, and infusing into the nation a life above the national life in its best estate, and which, infused into the nation, becomes for it a recuperative energy, and enables it to arrest its downward tendency, and to ascend to a new and higher life. It is not without a reason, then, founded in the nature of things, that we tell our countrymen that Protestantism may ruin the republic, but cannot save it, any more than it can the soul of the individual; and that, instead of crying out against the church like madmen, as hostile to the republic, they should rather turn their eyes toward her as their only source of help, and learn that she can and will save the republic, if they will only allow her to do it.
Yet we urge not this as the motive for accepting the teaching of the church and submitting to her authority and discipline. Our Lord says to us, “ Seek first the kingdom of God and his justice, and all these things shall be added unto you," but he does not bid us or permit us to seek the kingdom of God and his justice for the sake of “these things,” or the adjicienda; he forbids us to be solicitous. for them, since it is for them that the heathen are solicitous. The only motive for a man to become a Catholic, to believe what the church teaches, and to do what she commands, is that she is the kingdom of God on earth, and that it is only in so doing that he can possess “ his justice,” please God or attain to eternal life. Christ did not come, as a temporal prince, to found -as the carnal Jews, misinterpreting the prophecies, expected—an earthly kingdom, or to create an earthly paradise ; but he came as a spiritual prince to establish the reign of his Father on earth in all human affairs, and over all men and nations, and whatever temporal good is secured is not the end or reason of his kingdom, but is simply incidental to it. It is no reason why I should or should not be a Catholic because the church favors or does not favor one or another particular theory or constitution of civil government, but the fact that she does not favor a particular form of civil polity, if it be a fact, is sufficient reason why I should not favor it, for it proves that such form is repugnant to the sovereignty of God and the supremacy of his law. As a matter of fact, however, the church has never condemned any particular form of civil polity or erected one form or another into a Catholic dogma, and a man may be a monarchist, a republican, or a democrat, as he pleases, and at the same time be a good and irreproachable Catholic, if he hold the political power subordinate to the divine sovereignty.
The church is necessary to sustain a republican form of government, but it is also necessary to sustain any other form, as a wise, just, and efficient civil government. The error of those we are combating is not in that they are democrats or anti-democrats, but in holding that the state or secular order is sufficient for itself, can stand of itself without the aid of religion or the church, has no need of the spiritual, and has in fact the right to brush religion aside as an impertinent intermeddler whenever it comes in its way, or seeks to dictate or influence its policy. This is a gross error, condemned by all religion, all philosophy, and all experience. It is the old Epicurean error that excludes the divine authority from the direction or control of human affairs, and in its delirium sings,
“Let the gods go to sleep up above us." It is at bottom pure atheism, nothing more, nothing less. It is a pure absurdity. Can the creation stand without the Creator? Can the contingent subsist without the necessary? Can the body live and perform its functions without the soul which is its principle of life; the dependent without that on which it depends? In the whole history of the world, you will not find an instance of a purely atheistical state, or a state held to be completely divorced from the spiritual order. There is no instance in all history of a state without some sort of religion, even an established religion, or religion which the state recognizes as its supreme law, and does its best or worst to enforce. We here, as well as in England, as well as at any time in any European country, have an established religion which the law protects and enforces on all its citizens, only it is a mutilated religion, a religion without dogmas, and called morality. If not so, whence is it the law punishes murder or arson, and forbids polygamy, or the promiscuous intercourse of the sexes? Even Jacobins erect their Jacobinism into a religion, and inake it obligatory on the state to persecute, to exterminate all who dare oppose it. Have we not seen it despoil the Holy See of its independence and possessions, confiscate the goods of the church, exile holy bishops from their sees and their country in Italy, and within a few weeks shoot down the archbishop of Paris and a large number of priests and religious, suspend public worship, desecrate and plunder the churches, and banish all religion but their Jacobinism from the schools? No state tolerates any religion hostile to its own established religion, and the most intolerant and cruel persecutors in the world are precisely those who clamor loudest for religious liberty.
There is no such thing as a complete divorce of church and state practicable in any country on earth. The only question is, shall the state be informed and directed by the infallible and holy church of God, or by the synagogue of Satan? No man who is at all competent to pass a judgment on the question but agrees with the Syllabus in condemning not the distinction, but the separation of church and state; but the forms of the union of the two powers, whose harmonious action is necessary to the normal state of society, may vary according to circumstances. In countries where the state refuses to recognize frankly and fully the freedom and independence of the spiritual order, it may be necessary to regulate the relation of church and state by concordats; in others, where the state recognizes the independence of the spiritual order, and holds itself bound to protect the rights of the religion adopted by its citizens, as hitherto with us, no concordats are necessary, for the state does not claim any competence in spirituals. In this country the relation between the two powers bas, with a few exceptions, been satisfactory, and the church has been free. But there is on foot a formidable conspiracy against her freedom, and it is beginning to be maintained pretty determinedly that the majority of the people, being Protestant, and the people being the state, have the right and the duty as the state to sustain Protestantism, and outlaw and suppress the church.
THE PAPACY AND THE REPUBLIC.
[From Brownson's Quarterly Review for January, 1873.)
JAMES I. of England, in his “Remonstrance for the Divine Right of Kings and the Independency of their Crowns," in answer to the speech of Cardinal Duperron in the États Généraux of France, in 1614, objects to the papacy, and therefore to the Catholic Church, that it is incompatible with kingly government. The pope claimed to be superior to kings, lield them subject to his spiritual authority,