« AnteriorContinuar »
glory and dominion there shall be no end. The decrees of the Vatican concerning the papacy tend directly to unite in one body with one soul the whole Christian people, cleric and laic, and to render it strong and invincible against every enemy of God and his Christ, and to prepare it for the conqriest, and, where need is, for the reconquest of the world, and its subjection to the divine sovereignty.
The hope of the world is in Christ, the one mediator of God and men; and Christ operates only through and for his church, which he loves, and has purchased with his own precious blood. It is only then through his church,—the congregation of the faithful united together and to him in one faith, under one regimen, and the participation of the same sacraments,--that the world can be practically redeemed, or receive the practical application of the atoning sacrifice of our Lord, and be carried forward to the realization of their beatitude in eternal union with God and a participation of the divine nature, or become, as St. Peter says, naturæ consortes divinæ. In rendering the body of the faithful more thoroughly united and compact, these decrees, though for the moment they may apparently lessen the numbers aggregated to the body of the faithful, must, as time goes on, strengthen the church, render her more independent of the world, and more efficient in the discharge of her divine mission to teach and govern in spirituals all men and nations.
It is precisely in the effect these decrees, coupled with the publication of the syllabus, will have on the faithful themselves,-not in any direct effect they may have on those outside of the Catholic body,—that we see the beginning of the Catholic revival, or renaissance, as say the French. We in no sense justify or excuse those who remain aliens from the church, or those who apostatize from her communion, and become her bitterest and most relentless enemies. Nothing can excuse their voluntary blindness, or mitigate their terrible guilt; but it would be a great mistake to suppose that Catholics have no responsibility. Had Catholics been all and always true, earnest, and devoted Catholics, and been less wedded to the world which they renounce in baptism, and more thoroughly animated by the spirit of Christ, and devoted to his vicar, whom they have but too often left to bear alone the brunt of the battle with the enemies of the church, there would be now few heathens and no heretics in the world to convert. Then, just in proportion as the Catholic body become united and act as “one man,” in the fine scriptural phrase, filled with the burning charity of the Gospel, and elevated to the height of the Catholic mission, the more effective it becomes in the conversion of men and nations to our dear Lord, and in subduing and scattering his enemies. We catholicize heretics and infidels by becoming thoroughly catholicized ourselves. Hence this Review has always maintained, that the only way to convert the American people is to labor with all charity, zeal, and energy, to make the Catholic population already in the country intelligent, earnest, self-denying, practical Catholics, adorning their faith by their union and good works. As Christ converts the world through the church, so is our country to be converted through the Catholic population it contains. The more this population becomes one compact body, the more truly Catholic it becomes, the greater will be its efficiency in converting the country, though few direct efforts for its conversion should be made. In this, we apprehend, we only express the conviction and the policy of our own enlightened and devoted hierarchy.
The reader will perceive that we have made no attempt to review these masterly lectures, nor to give even an abstract of their contents. We could not condense them, and to review them would be on our part an impertinence; and, besides, all our readers, we presume, have already read and admired them, and profited by their rich thought, profound wisdom, and sound Catholic doctrine. All we have aimed at is to express our high appreciation of them and their author, and to throw out some thoughts of our own on the subject with which he has inseparably connected his name. It is not for us to judge, certainly not to speak disparagingly, of those prelates who in the council opposed the definition of the papal infallibility for what they regarded as prudential reasons; they were, as the judgment of the church has decided, on the wrong side, but we have no right to say they erred in faith, or in any respect to impugn their motives. They none of them, if we are rightly informed, opposed the definition on the ground that they do not or did not believe the doctrine. Overruled on the question of opportuneness or expediency, there could be no inconsistency and no humiliation in their accepting, ex animo, the definition when made. Their opposition, freely and fully expressed, proves that the council was a free council, deliberated, and decided freely, and thus disposes of the objection so unjustly raised against it by Döllinger and the wretched men who call themselves “ola Catholics."
For ourselves: We, when the question was raised, should have been glad to have found these eminent prelates, whom we honor as princes of the church, on the other side, but perhaps it is better that they were not, for their opposition gave ample room for an able and full discussion of the question by the greatest intellects, the profoundest scholars, and most eminent theologians of the world; and their prompt and hearty adhesion to the definition is not only highly edifying, but proves that it was in no uncatholic spirit that they opposed the definition. They were, as we have said, on the wrong side, but were right at heart and, as Catholics, above all reproach and all suspicion. We give this explanation in justice to them, after the commendation we have bestowed on the archbishop of Westminster.
BISMARCK AND THE CHURCH.
[From Brownson's Quarterly Review for April, 1873.)
WE find in the New York Times, of Feb. 7, 1873, the following abstract of a lecture by the Protestant“Episcopal” bishop of Long Island in this state; which shows sufficiently what Anglicans hope and expect from the “Old Catholic party” and the war waged by power against the church in Germany, Switzerland, Spain, and Italy :
“Right Rev. A. N. Littlejohn, D.D., delivered a lecture last evening at St. Paul's Chapel, corner of Clinton and Carrol streets, Brooklyn, on “The Old Catholic Movement in Europe.' This subject, which has recently attracted considerable attention, and enlisted the sympathies of the various Christian congregations not in communion with Rome, drew a large audience, and Dr. Littlejohn, who spent a part of last summer in Germany, was in intimate relations with some of the leaders of the party. Their object, he said, was to reform abuses, and to introduce a purer and more broad Christianity, than was professed by the party of the Vatican. The congress recently convoked in Cologne, was composed of men who now rule the party of reform. That party, numerically, is not large, but its strength consists in the quality of its leading men ; and with the lower classes of Germany, the stronghold of the movement, it is not very popular ; but then it is an appeal to the intellect, and not to the untutored masses. In Germany and Austria, seventy priests and one hundred congregations had joined the reformers. It is also, he said, extending in Bavaria and Switzerland, and seven newspapers are acting as its organs. Late advices from the latter country, received by private parties a few days since, tell of a council which assembled on the 1st of December at Ultan, where one hundred delegates represented various districts. The programme of church reform was debated : and, owing to the eloquence of Dr. Reinkens, of Breslau, the departure of the papal nuncio from Berne was demanded. The dream of the Germans is to form an independent national church, and in Austria, Spain, and Italy the same idea is spreading. A synod is to be organized, and bishops properly chosen, and a union of all sects of Christians established. The profession of faith embraces all the dogmas of the Old Catholic creed, as adopted by the Council of Nice, and the Bible is accepted as the rule of faith. Enforced celibacy and auricular confession are to be abolished, and service in the native tongue introduced. After reviewing the recent political changes in Europe, and pointing out their bearings on the present movement, Dr. Littlejohn concluded by stating his belief in the success of the new reformation and the overthrow of the papacy.”
Dr. Littlejohn is good authority, so far as relates to the purposes, plans, and designs of the “Old Catholic party and the European governments, now waging war against the papacy, denying the freedom and independence of the church, and cruelly oppressing her religious orders and her devoted children. He fully confirms the statement of the Holy Father in his allocation of the 23d of December last, and which rendered the Prussian press so frantic, that the object of these governments is “the total destruction of the Catholic Church." This is unquestionably the aim of Prince von Bismarck, chancellor of the new German empire, of the council of Geneva, if not of the Swiss federal council itself, and of the ministers of Victor Emmanuel, as it is the design of the entire revolutionary, or liberal, party throughout the world. Dr. Littlejohn himself says as much, when he tells us that “the dream of the Germans is to form an independent national church,” and that in Austria, Spain, and Italy, the same idea is spreading, and expresses his belief that “the new reformation,” favored by recent political changes in Europe, will be successful in the “overthrow of the papacy." The Catholic Church is built on Peter, and the overthrow of the papacy would be the subversion of the very foundation of the whole edifice; and the conversion of the one Catholic Church into independent national churches, or, rather, into churches holding from the national
authority and dependent on its will, would be her total destruction. For, as we have heretofore shown, national stands opposed to catholic, and independent national churches necessarily exclude the very idea of one catholic church with authority to teach and govern in spirituals all men and nations, and holding from God alone ; as completely as the assertion, on the other hand, of universal monarchy would be the destruction of particular independent national governments, though our Protestant “ Episcopal” bishop of Long Island does not appear to be aware of it; for, though claiming to be a churchman, his ideas of Catholicity and the church are a little muddy.
The establishment of independent national churches, that is, ecclesiastically independent, and politically dependent, implies the anniħilation of the Catholic Church. Rightly, then, is the aim of the movement said by the Holy Father to be the total destruction of the church, or the visible kingdom of God on earth. It is well that Catholics should understand this, that they may not be deceived in any respect as to the real nature of the controversy now raging, or the momentous consequences involved in the issue. "It is well that they should see clearly that in this controversy there can be no compromise, no halting between two opinions, no neutrality. The question is one of life or death, and the issue is the church or the world, Christ the Light of the universe or the prince of darkness, God or the devil, heaven or hell. This is the momentous issue between the Holy Father and his enemies. The issue is squarely made, and must be squarely met Who is on the Lord's side must be on the side of the pope, the vicar of Christ; and whoever takes sides against the pope, or does not take sides for him, takes sides with the prince of darkness, and serves Baal, not the Lord, the devil, not God, and exposes himself to the doom pronounced against the devil and his angels. There can, we repeat, be no neutrals. Whoever in this fearful struggle is not on the side of the pope and the church of which he is the visible head, is on the side of Satan, and aiding and abetting those who are fighting to exclude Christ the Lord from all authority in human affairs, and to liberate all men and nations from every obligation to consult any power or authority above themselves. Catholics should feei that there is no evading the issue ; and we are sure none, except a handful of liberal Catholics, every day losing their prestige, and diminishing in numbers, have any desire to