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As to the matter itself, I agree that the Church is to be honored and obeyed only in her place; but who, according to Catholicity, is the judge of what is her place? And how can a Catholic, who, if a Catholic, believes without doubting that she is infallible, commissioned by Almighty God to teach us what we are to believe, and to command us what we are to do, ever make the supposition that she does or can get out of her place? I have been taught that our Lord is himself supernaturally present with the Church all days unto the consummation of the world, and that he assumes to himself the responsibility of keeping her in her place, and preventing her from going astray or encroaching upon the rights of any individual, community, or interest. As my young friend claims to be well versed in Catholic doctrines, he will set me right if I have been wrongly taught.
F. I do not pretend that you are wrong in this. I hold the Church is infallible and holy; but I do not therefore bold that popes, cardinals, ambitious prelates, and priests are infallible and impeccable.
B. Fair and easy, young man. Mind the categories, or you may get into a category yourself, as Captain Truck would say.
That popes, cardinals, prelates, priests, are personally impeccable, nobody pretends ; so that matter we can pass over. That cardinals, prelates, and priests, teaching out of their own hearts, are not infallible, are as fallible as other men, I concede ; but that they are fallible when teaching what the Church has taught them, or commands them to teach, 1 deny, and so must my young friend himself, is a good Catholic. Personally they are fallible, but when teaching in the communion of the Church their teaching is infallible. As to the Holy Father, when speaking as a private doctor, he is in the condition of any other private doctor ; but when he teaches as Pope, officially, as the visible Head of the Church, and defines faith or morals for the whole Church, you cannot say he errs, for you are bound, under pain of excommunication, to believe, ex animo, that his definition is true, and you are no more at liberty to impugn a doctrinal definition, formally, judicially, given by a pope, than you are to impugn a doctrinal definition given by an ecumenical council. The mere speculative denial of the infallibility of the Pope is not formal heresy, and he who makes it may be absolved; but the practical application of this speculative denial to any particular doctrinal definition made by the Pope, or the denial of the truth of any doctrine
the Pope defines to be Catholic doctrine, is heresy, and, if persisted in, excludes from the Catholic communion. This being so, you are not held to be a beretic because you say the Pope may err, not, indeed, because what you say is not false, but because, being obliged to believe he never does err, it is a harmless absurdity, which the Church has never considered it necessary to condemn, and which she overlooks in compassion for the logical weakness of those who make it. I do not, then, by any means concede to you that a definition of faith or morals for the whole Church by the Sovereign Pontiff can be erroneous, and the moment you select any one and pronounce it erroneous, I shall pronounce you a heretic.
F. That you may indeed do, if the definition has been accepted by all the pastors of the Church.
B. I shall make no inquiry whether it has been so accepted or not; because the definition binds me in conscience the moment that I know the Pope has made it, as is evident from the fact, that, if I should refuse to believe it ex animo, or dare to reclaim against it, I should incur, ipso facto, excommunication. You are not by any means at liberty to withhold your obedience till you have consulted all the pastors of the Church, and ascertained whether they agree that it is due or not.
F. Well, be that as it may ; if the Pope should command me to make war on my country, or bid me encroach on the rights of the temporal power, I will say, what I have heard even from Catholic pulpits, I would scorn his command ; I would resuse bim obedience, and resist him to the utrnost of my ability.
B. Very likely you would. But there is very little Catholic piety in abusing the Pope hypothetically, and if he has been so abused from Catholic pulpits, so much the more sharne. But it is for us to leave the incumbents of those pulpits to answer to those who have received authority to call them to account for their conduct. We will say nothing of them, only, if they have done what their religion does not warrant, we will take care not to imitate them. Indiscreet men, no doubt, sometimes occupy pulpits ; men who, in endeavouring to throw off one charge brought against the Church by her enemies, incur another not less dangerous. When one treats disrespectfully the Vicar of our Lord, and makes use of expressions that diminish our reverence for those the Holy Ghost has placed over us, we know he has forgotten himself, and is not acting in accordance with the instructions he has received. Thus
far I own I am not bound to follow him. The supposition you make is absurd and impossible, and it is idle to say what we would or would not do in case it should happen. Wait till the supposition becomes possible, before you make up your mind what you will do.
o. But is not a man's first duty to his country? B. No, Sir.
C. As I thought. I always believed the Catholic religion incompatible with patriotism and the rights of the civil power ; and this is the reason why, as an American and a republican, I, who am no bigot, and respect the rights of conscience in every one, deprecate its spread amongst us.
R. The Catholic owes allegiance to a foreign potentate, and therefore can never be a good citizen or a real patriot.
F. It is to prove that you are wrong that I have taken the ground I have, and which our venerable friend here, with his Ultramontanism and old world notions, attempts to controvert. Verily, I am half inclined to think he has just been disentombed from the Dark Ages, and supposes the world is now what it was then, and that he can safely revive old, obsolete ideas. Don't believe a word he says. He has, saving his presence and begging pardon of his years, no discretion, and neglects entirely the cardinal virtue of prudence.
M. I am, nevertheless, inclined to believe that you are wrong, and that he is a better expounder of Catholicity than you are. I should despise your Church, indeed, if she were what you would make her.
F. You say that because you despise her already, and delight to have her presented in the most odious light possible. I am not willing to hang a millstone round the neck of my religion; and he who represents her in the light to which I object 1 must regard as her enemy.
B. Keep cool, my young friend, and do not let your zeal for your religion, which I perceive is very ardent just now, hurry you into rash judgments. Zeal, to be commendable, must be according to knowledge. I have said, and I repeat it, that my first duty is not to my country, and I will add that I do not find patriotism ever mentioned as a virtue at all. Nay, as far as I have studied the history of the Church, I have found an overweening patriotism, or nationality, among the very worst enemies religion has had to struggle against. It has been the fruitsul cause of all, or nearly all, the schisms which have rent the seamless robe of our Lord, and among the most active causes of the rise and continuance of all the great heresies of ancient and modern times. Protestantisin would have been stillboro, if there had been no narrow and contemptible national feeling and prejudice in Germany, Holland, and England to come to serve as its nurse. What to me are the arbitrary lines and boundaries which separate nations, and as a consequence make them enemies. I know only two classes of mankind, - those who belong to the Church of God, and those who oppose her. The Church is my country, and Catholics are my compatriots, my kinsmen, my brothers, and my sisters, wherever born, wherever they live, of whatever nation, race, or color,-white, red, yellow, or black. Those who are not Catholics, whether pagans, Mahometans, Jews, or heretics, are all of one general class, the enemies of God and children of Satan ; for whose conversion and eternal salvation I am always to pray and labor, but with whom the less strict my connection the better. Í am 10 do them good for God's sake, to the full extent of my power ; but beyond, I have no part or lot with them. Christianity introduces a higher bond of union than that of nationality, and bids me seek a higher glory than national heroism, and a sublimer virtue than patriotism. The Church is Catholic, and would mould all nations into one vast republic, melt all into one grand brotherbood, by uniting all in the same faith, the same hope, the same charity, the same worship, under the supreme law of God. In presence of this law, which is the same for all men, of whatsoever age or nation, talk not to me of your narrow and contracted patriotism ; and before the Church of God, commissioned to teach all nations till the end of time, dare never speak of your petiy nationalities, or your diversities of race, sept, clan, or family.
No: my first duty is not to my country; my first and my whole duty is to God, and to God alone. I owe no other duty than my duty to him, my only Sovereign, my only Lord and Master. Whatever duty I am bound to render to my country, my parents, my children, my friends, or my neighbours, is included integrally in my duty to him, and I am bound to render it to them only because I owe it to him, and he commands me to pay it to them. I am accountable to God alone; I am rightsully no creature's subject ; no man, in his own right, is my master, and I deny the legitimacy of all authority that derives from man, or has simply a human origin. No man, no body of men, has the inherent, underived right to command me, or to bind me, either in soul or body, in thought, will, or NEW SERIES, — VOL. IV. NO. III.
deed. That portion of my duty to God which he commands me to render to my country, to the civil government, to parents, children, friends, or neighbours, I am bound for his sake to render them, and I shall fail in my obedience to him if I do not, — shall be guilty of a sin against him, and deserve his eternal wrath and condemnation.
You young radicals, in your wild enthusiasm and misdirected zeal for liberty, madly deny the very principle of liberty, and under pretence of asserting liberty assert the fundamental principle of slavery. You are poor statesmen, and poorer philosophers ; for you have not yet learned that the principle of all slavery, as of all tyranny, is in the assertion of man's native, inherent right to govern man, or what is the same thing, to institute and enforce government. Government of some sort you must have ; and therefore you must assert somewhere the right to govern, and consequently the duty of obedience. As you wish to be able to resist the governing authority wben you choose, you declare it to be of human origin, well knowing that what is of human origin is never in itself sacred and inviolable, and that, being human, you, as also human, must have as much right to resist it as it can have to command you. Believing yourselves cleverer than the average of the people, and therefore concluding that you have above the average chance of being leaders and governors, if you can have a democratic constitution of the state, and confounding liberty with your own liberty to govern, you suppose that you have secured freedom when you have succeeded, not only in making government derive its powers from a purely human source, but from the multitude at large. Thus far all very well. But
do not look on the other side, and you see not that your assertion of the human origin of government, in order to be able to resist it when it does not suit you, is the denial of all right on the part of government to govern, and that therefore you are reduced to the alternative, either no government, as maintain Garrison, Foster, Abby Folsom, &c., or a government that has no right to gov. ern, that is, an illegitimate government. The former is practicable only in theory; practically, there will always be some government, for without government there is and can be no society, and without society man cannot live, since he is essentially social in his nature. Then you must adopt the latter, and then have only illegitimate government, that is to say, only usurpation and tyranny, under which there is and can be, in principle, only slavery.