Imágenes de páginas
PDF
EPUB

schools in a community divided as ours is. The attempt to do it fails, and tends only to secularize thought, and to create religious indifferentism. The supervision of education belongs to the religious body, and the church cannot surrender it to the civil power, any more than she can marriage itself. Hence, as the church has no supervision of the public schools, and cannot teach her religion in them, she cannot permit Catholics, unless in exceptional cases, to send their children and wards to them.

Mr. Gladstone evidently holds that he owes his party defeat and loss of office and power to the adverse votes of the Catholic members of parliament on the Irish University bill

, and we owe, we presume, to his defeat his savage onslaught upon the papacy, and his attempt to extinguish Catholicity in Great Britain. He considers the papal supremacy as incompatible with civil allegiance, because it has suffered Catholics to vote against his university bill, framed, in his judgment, in their educational interests. We do not agree with Dr. Newman, that the pope had nothing to do with Mr. Gladstone's defeat. He may not have personally and formally ordered the opposition, but the papacy defeated him, for the bishops, in opposing the bill, followed it and acted in accordance with its principles; and Catholics have no right to complain that the pope is held responsible as chief pastor, for their action, especially as he has not disclaimed it. But by what right' does Mr. Gladstone assume that loyalty to the queen or the state required the Catholic Irish members of parliament, or the Catholic bishops of Ireland to support his Irish University bill? We can detect no breach of loyalty or of patriotism, in opposing a measure which promised no good either to religion or to politics. The measure was framed with rare unwisdom, and fitted to satisfy nobody. In framing it, Mr. Gladstone overlooked the fixed and immutable nature of religion, and went on the supposition that principles in religion may be compromised, as they are in the British constitution, which is no constitution at all, or a constitution with only one article, namely, the omnipotence of parliament. Parliament may do any thing but make a man a woman. Mr. Gladstone's bill showed that he had no conception of true religious liberty, and no disposition to secure freedom of education to Catholics; and we understand not why Catholic bishops had not as much right to oppose it as he had to introduce and urge it.

But the opposition of the Catholic prelates to the bill, urged on Catholic grounds, shows, not that the papacy is incompatible with the civil allegiance of Catholics, but, as we have said, that it is incompatible with many things statesmen claim on the score of civil allegiance. While the state, as under Protestantism or paganism, holds itself exempt from the law of God, or claims the right to interpret that law for itself, conflicts between the papacy and the civil power will arise, and, at bottom, of the same nature with that of the pope and emperor in the middle ages. The pope cannot now depose the emperor, but he can forbid Catholics to obey the emperor in any of his commands which require them to do wrong or to act against the law of God or their faith as Catholics, and they are bound to obey him at whatever peril, even to confiscation of goods, imprisonment, exile, or death. The pope governs the universal church, and governs as if the whole world were Catholic, though only Catholics are obedient subjects of his government. But then he governs according to the divine law. He enjoins that law, and forbids whatever is contrary to it.

There is nothing in this that disturbs the constitution of the state or the action of the civil law; only that Catholics simply refuse to obey the civil power when it commands them to disobey God. Catholics can snffer wrong from the unjust action of the state, as they have proved by their submission to the most cruel persecutions in all ages and nations; but they cannot do wrong at its command without forfeiting their Catholic character. We must obey God rather than men. Catholics are never seditious, rebels, or revolutionists. They will not obey a Nero when he commands them to do what the law of God forbids them to do, nor refrain at his order from doing what it commands then to do; but in all else they will cheerfully submit to his orders, and neither resist his power nor conspire against his authority and seek to overthrow his government. Indeed, this submission of Catholics to the powers that be,” though unmitigated tyrants as many of the pagan Cæsars were, is not seldom urged against Catholics as a reproach, as a proof of their tameness, want of spirit, and true manli

Mr. Gladstone would have done better to have charged Catholics, not with the want, but with an excess, of loyalty. Nothing can exceed their subinission to authority, or their devotion to the regularly established order. They are abused for this devotion, and much less opposition would they meet if they were radicals, innovators, and revolutionists, seeking to turn the world upside-down, to throw all things into confusion, and make society a wild, weltering chaos.

ness.

VOL. XIII-33

In fact, it is this very respect, inspired by the church, of Catholics for authority and their indisposition to conspire against it, or to effect political and social reforms, or changes rather, by violence, that renders them so distasteful to the men of the world, and brings against the chief of our religion the charge of being hostile to “modern ideas” and “ modern civilization.” Modern society is revolutionary, holds “the sacred right of insurrection, and pretends that the people, or a disaffected portion of them, have not only the right to disobey the government, but to subvert it by violence, whenever they see proper; and that they are not guilty of any crime or wrong-unless they fail. It is only unsuccessful conspiracy, rebellion, or revolution, that is censurable, according to modern ideas; and hence it is that civil governments can sustain themselves only by armed force. The governments of Europe require five millions of bayonets to defend them against their own subjects. Not one of them governs by moral power, or could stand twentyfour hours, if it were not backed by the army. Yet the church is denounced as the enemy of society, and hostile to progress! How little do the Bismarcks, the Gladstones, and others of their stamp, understand that the refusal of Catholics to obey the civil power when it commands them to do wrong, but not when it commands them to suffer wrong, is the surest of all reliances for the free working and stability of civil government.

THE PUBLIC SCHOOL SYSTEM.*

(From Brownson's Quarterly Review for October, 1875.]

Tais lecture on our public schools as they are now constituted, by the chief-justice of the supreme court of Arizona, is really one of the ablest, most direct, and most conclusive of the various lectures, articles, essays, or pamphlets, that we have seen on the great question it discusses, and which is the great question of the day, especially for Catholies in our country. It is plain, outspoken, and manly, and presents the question in its simple nakedness, divested of all disguises, free from all sophistry and logomachy, and argues the real issue with a lucidity and force that can hardly be surpassed, and which we have not seen equalled. No American citizen, who has any fairness of mind, or sense of right, can read it and not feel that the system of public schools as now worked in our country is a monstrous wrong to our Catholic population, whom it taxes for the maintenance of schools for the children of non-Catholics only, and from which their own children are, through fidelity to conscience, debarred from deriving any benefit. We have said, and we repeat, that we hear many declamations against the public schools with which we do not sympathize, and that much is ascribed to their practical workings which is not true, or, if true in any sense, is so only in exceptional and rare cases. The public schools are as moral, to say the least, as the average of our non-Catholic countrymen, and they cannot justly be called, as we have heard them called, nurseries of vice and immorality. We object to them because they do not make religion and morality the basis of education, and because they violate the rights of God and conscience, as well as the equality before the civil power of all religious beliefs or no-beliefs, guarantied by the American constitution. But they might easily, without in the slightest degree impairing their efficiency, be so modified and worked as to obviate all our objections, and to render the system equally acceptable to all classes of our citizens, and a public blessing. We Catholics, though in the minor ity, are American citizens, and have just as much right to have a voice in the organization of the public schools, and just as much right to have it listened to, as have any other class of American citizens.

*Our Public Schools : Are they free for all, or are they not? A Lecture delivered by Hon. EDMUND F. DUNNE, San Francisco : 1875.

The non-Catholic majority run away with the false notion that the country belongs to them, that they own it, and that Catholics residing here are trespassers on their property, or simple squatters on land they do not own, and lie at their mercy. Some of their representative journals warn us not to claim equality, not to presume to interfere in the public policy of the country, nor to attempt to exert any influence in the framing of its laws and institutions. They tell us that this is a Protestant country, and that Catholics must be content with simple toleration, and, if they ask for more, they will get less. This notion, or pretence of Protestants, is an entire mistake. They no more own the country than we do ; it belongs to the whole American people, and all American citizens, whatever their religious beliefs or no religious beliefs, are politically and civilly equal, and have before the civil power equal rights, and equally a voice in making the laws, and determining the public institutions of the land. We are not here by Protestant tolerance, but by right,-a right as high and as sacred as that by which nonCatholics or Protestants themselves are here. They are the majority; they have the power, the might, and can oppress us if so disposed, but their might gives them no right to do so.

The welfare of the state depends on the virtue, morality, and intelligence of the people; and the virtue, morality, and intelligence of the people depend on religion. Without religion they have no basis

, nothing to stand on, no guide, no sanction, no support, and are sure in the hour of trial to fall through, to fail utterly, as the history of the pagan nations of antiquity, as well as the common judgment of mankind in all ages and nations, amply proves. Education without religion only sharpens the intellect, and fits men to be adroit rogues and swindlers, as we are but too painfully experiencing in our own country, which bids fair, if a remedy be not soon supplied, to become a country of thieves, robbers, theats, swindlers, and sharpers, if we may believe at all the daily reports of the journals. An honest man in office, in a place of honor and trust, is a rara avis. Well, the public schools do not and cannot teach religion, nor effectually even virtue and morality.

« AnteriorContinuar »