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impressed with the monstrous injustice to Catholics of the public schools, as now managed, and their manifest violation of the religious equality professedly guarantied by the constitution of the Union and nearly all the states. We have been much enlightened on this point by the masterly lecture by Chief-Justice Dunne. We had always been averse to carrying any Catholic question to the polls, believing our members to be too few to be successful; but further inquiry has led us to believe that our numbers
, though they do not in our judgment amount, as some of our friends pretend, to ten or twelve millions, are much larger than we had supposed. The great bulk of our Catholic electors are ranged on the side of the so-called Democratic party, and they form so large a portion of that party, that by simply withholding their votes from it, without giving them to the opposing party, they could throw it into a hopeless minority, and utterly defeat the success on which it now confidently counts. This gives us an advantage which was not apparent to us in the early part of 1873, when we expressed our doubts of the propriety of carrying the school question to the polls. Catholics in New York, New Jersey, Pennsylvania, Ohio, and some other states, if not strong enough to secure the success of the Democratic party, are yet strong enough to ensure its defeat, if they choose to place the interest of their religion above their party interests, and withhold from it their suffrages. They can thus force the party to espouse their cause, and, if they accede to power, to grant us justice in regard to the public schools. Certain it is, as the parties now stand, the Democrats cannot accede to power as a national party without our votes, and it is our duty to let them know that our votes they cannot have unless they pledge themselves to use their power, if they obtain it, to repair the grievons wrong under which we now labor, and to maintain in the civil order the religious equality guarantied by the constitution.
The great difficulty is no doubt right here, in getting our Democratic Catholics to withhold their votes from the party, unless it agrees, if able, to do them justice on the school question. “Hic labor, hoc opus est," for Catholics have long been accustomed in their political action to follow the maxim, “My religion has nothing to do with my politics," and, without consciously or intentionally placing their politics above their religion, to proceed as if the interests of party were paramount to the interests of their church. But,
after all, this results from want of reflection rather than from any deliberate preference of the temporal to the eternal. When the question is once brought home to his understanding, and seen to be a question of conscience, no loyal Catholic will hesitate a moment to subordinate his politics to his religion, or refuse his support to any party that refuses to recognize and vindicate the religious equality of Catholics in the public schools, by giving them their share of them, and of the public funds which support them. In the religious aspect of the case, eternal interests are at stake, the welfare of immortal souls and of unborn generations is at stake: and we Catholics know that the stability, the virtue, the morality, and the intelligence of the republic, and the preservation of civil and religious liberty, are at stake; for these depend on the religious, the Catholic, education of our children. Since Catholics are the salt of the earth, the church is the divine preservative force in every nation where she exists: no greater calamity could possibly befall our republic than her banishment from its territory. How, then, can any Catholic for a moment weigh the ephemeral triumph of a party in the balance against the interests of Catholic education ? He is a sorry Catholic, with just Catholicity enough to be damned as a Catholic, and not as a heretic or an infidel, who will do it.
The great question for us Catholics, and the great question even for our country, is the school question ; and the preservation of our children to the church, with their thorough Catholic education, is not less for the interest of the state than it is for the interest of religion. No state can stand without religion, and religion cannot be preserved in any state without the thorough religious training of each new generation as it appears on the stage. The Catholic Church alone is able to give a really religious education, and to train children up in the way they should go. This is one of her chief functions. The sects in reality have no religion, and can give no religious education, as the public schools amply prove. It is not the influence of Catholics that has made these schools practically godless. It is the influence of the unbelieving portion of the American people; of those who reject all positive doctrines, and Christianity itself as a positive religion, or any thing more than a vague gencrality, or an indefinable abstraction. If we are debarred from establishing Catholic schools and from giving our children a Catholic education, no religious education will be given to
any portion of American children and youth ; and debarred we shall be from establishing Catholic schools at our own expense, besides paying a heavy tax for the support of nonCatholic and godless schools, and compelled to send our children to the public schools, if we do not unite and make a vigorous and well-directed effort to prevent it.
This is a perfectly legitimate exercise of the elective franchise, for politics should always be made subservient to religion and morality. We combine and act politically, not to deprive others of their rights, or to acquire any control over them, but simply to obtain our own constitutional freedom, of which we are unjustly deprived by the political action of the non-Catholic majority. We have no wish to prescribe the education non-Catholics must give their children, nor to make a law for their government. If they are satisfied with the public schools as at present managed,
why let them have them, and make the most of them; all we propose by political action is, if possible, to prevent them in future from taxing us to support them, or compelling us to send our own children to them. We are only proposing to secure for ourselves the liberty they claim for themselves to educate our children in our own way, without being taxed to pay for the education of their children. We do not seek to tax them to educate our children, we ask not one cent of them: we only ask the privilege, now denied us, priating our own money, what we ourselves contribute, to schools
under our own management, in which we can freely train up our own children in our own way. What demand can be more reasonable or just ?
No doubt, a clamor will be raised against the church by bigots and anti-Catholic demagogues; she will be accused of interfering with politics, of grasping at power, seeking to remodel our institutions, and to destroy our republican freedom. A frightful hullabaloo, no doubt, will be set up from one end of the land to the other. But those clamorers would do well to remember that it is the non-Catholic majority, not the church, that has violated the constitution and republican freedom; and that we are only seeking to restore that freedom, and secure respect for the constitution. It does not become the thief to complain that he is wronged, outraged, when the owner of the goods he has stolen demands, in a legal and peaceful way, their restoration.
But knowing that we have right and justice on our side, as also the good of religion and of civil society, and that the
of appromeans we propose to use are legal, constitutional, and perfectly honorable, we must not suffer these clamors, which are false and injurious, to move us from our purpose, or to disturb our equanimity. Putting our trust in God, whose glory in the salvation of souls we seek, we must suffer no abuse to divert us, no flatteries to beguile us, no worldly interests to seduce us, no obstacles to discourage us, but move quietly and majestically forward, as becomes the servants of him who is King of kings and Lord of lords, to the end on which we have fixed our affections. We do not pretend that the struggle will be slight or brief, it will be severe and protracted: but the victory will be more than half-won, nay, will be assured, the moment we have got our whole Catholic population united and acting in concert to gain our rights, and make the civil equality of all religious denominations a truth. We may count with confidence on the blessing of the divine Head of the church: for we shall be engaged in his work, and laboring to promote the glory of his kingdom.
What we want is Catholic union and concert of action in the defence or promotion of Catholic interests,-a true earnest Catholic spirit, which the unity of our faith and worship ought to inspire and sustain. This at present is our great want. We have it not yet, but we are gradually approaching it, and the numerous “ Catholic Unions” springing up in all parts of the country tend, or will tend, powerfully to realize it. We have only to remember that we are Catholics, and that, where there is no unity there is no catholicity :-“We know," says the blessed ‘apostle whom Jesus loved, “that we have passed from death to life because we love the brethren.” The brethren are the whole household of faith ; we must embrace and love all who are of the household of faith, without distinction of race or nation, condition or complexion ; we must suffer no local interests, no narrow and unworthy prejudices of race or nation to divide us, and prevent us from regarding the interests of the whole body as those of each one of us individually, or from uniting as “one man " to promote them.
THE FAMILY, CHRISTIAN AND PAGAN.*
[From Brownson's Quarterly Review for October, 1875.]
Though bound as a volume, and very handsomely printed and done up, this is really only a small tract intended for gratuitous circulation among the people by the charitable and well-to-do. But, if of small dimensions, it is not of small importance. It treats in a worthy manner a great subject. The family, not the individual, is the social unit: indeed it is not only the basis of society, but society itself; and as is the family, so is society. If society is constituted by the family, the family is constituted by marriage, and marriage demands sanctity, unity, and indissolubility: three things which it lacked in the pagan world, and which it lacks also in the modern world, in proportion as the modern world ceases to be Catholic.
Social corruption, whether ancient or modern, begins in the family, and the corruption of the family carries with it the ruin of society, and of all that deserves the name of civilization. The renowned nations of antiquity went out with the family: it is to the restoration of the family, the assertion and maintenance of the sanctity, unity, and indissolubility of marriage by Christianity, that modern nations chiefly owe the moral greatness which they possess, or but lately possessed. The family received a fatal blow from the reformers in the sixteenth century, who began by denying the indissolubility of marriage, and soon proceeded to deny its sacramental character and, therefore, its sanctity. From a sacrament, therefore a religious institution, marriage, in all Protestant states, was early reduced to a mere civil contract; and consequently withdrawn from the authority of the church and placed under that of the civil power. No Protestant nation or sect holds marriage to be either a sacrament or indissoluble; and there is no one that does not permit polygamy, not simultaneous polygamy it may be, but actual polygamy, in permitting the divorced man or woman to marry while the husband or the wife from whom he or she is divorced, is still living. The reformers therefore de
*The Family. By Rev. AUGUSTE RICHE, Priest of St. Sulpice. "Translated from the French by MRS. J. SADLIER. New York: 1875.