6. Civil and Religious Liberty

VI. Civil and Religious



Virtue and Intelligence Necessary to Sustain Free Institutions



We were Americans, American born, American bred, and we love our country and will, when called upon, defend it against any and every enemy to the best of our feeble ability; but though we by no means rate American virtue and intelligence so low as do those who will abuse us for not rating it higher, we cannot consent to hoodwink ourselves or to claim for our countrymen a degree of virtue and intelligence they do not possess. We are acquainted with no salutary errors and are forbidden to seek even a good end by any but honest means. The virtue and intelligence of the American people are not sufficient to secure the free, orderly, and wholesome action of the government, for they do not secure it. The government commits every now and then a sad blunder, and the general policy it adopts must prove in the long run suicidal. It has adopted a most iniquitous policy, and its most unjust measures are its most popular measures, such as it would be fatal to any man’s political success directly and openly to oppose; and we think we hazard nothing in saying our free institutions cannot be sustained without an augmentation of popular virtue and intelligence. We do not say the people are not capable of a sufficient degree of virtue and intelligence to sustain a democracy; all we say is they cannot do it without virtue and intelligence, nor without a higher degree of virtue and intelligence than they have as yet attained to. We do not apprehend that many of our countrymen, and we are sure no one whose own virtue and intelligence entitle his opinion to any weight, will dispute this. Then the question of the means of sustaining our democracy resolves itself into the question of augmenting the virtue and intelligence of the people.

 The press makes readers, but does little to make virtuous and intelligent readers. The newspaper press is, for the most part, under the control of men of very ordinary abilities, lax principles, and limited acquirements. It echoes and exaggerates popular errors and does little or nothing to create a sound public opinion. Your popular literature caters to popular taste, passions, prejudices, ignorance, and errors; it is by no means above the average degree of virtue and intelligence which already obtains, and can do nothing to create a higher standard of virtue or tone of thought. On what, then, are we to rely?

 “On education,” answer Frances Wright, Abner Kneeland, Horace Mann, and the educationists generally. But we must remember that we must have virtue and intelligence. Virtue without intelligence will only fit the mass to be duped by the artful and designing, and intelligence without virtue only makes one the abler and more successful villain. Education must be of the right sort if it is to answer our purpose, for a bad education is worse than none. The Mahometans are great sticklers for education, and if we recollect aright it is laid down in the Koran that every believer must at least be taught to read; but we do not find their education does much to advance them in virtue and intelligence. Education, moreover, demands educators, and educators of the right sort. Where are these to be obtained? Who is to select them, judge of their qualifications, sustain or dismiss them? The people? Then you place education in the same category with democracy. You make the people, through their representatives, the educators. The people will select and sustain only such educators as represent their own virtues, vices, intelligence, prejudices, and errors. Whether they educate mediately or immediately, they can impart only what they have and are. Consequently, with them for educators we can, by means even of universal education, get no increase of virtue and intelligence to bear on the government. The people may educate, but where is that which takes care that they educate in a proper manner? Here is the very difficulty we began by pointing out. The people take care of the government and education; but who or what is to take care of the people, who need taking care of quite as much as either education or government? – for, rightly considered, neither government nor education has any other legitimate end than to take care of the people. (Vol. 10, pp. 3,4.)


Tendency to Inequality


 The great danger in our country is from the predominance of material interests. Democracy has a direct tendency to favor inequality and injustice. The government must obey the people; that is, it must follow the passions and interests of the people, and of course the stronger passions and interests. These with us are material, such as pertain solely to this life and this world. What our people demand of government is that it adopt and sustain such measures as tend most directly to facilitate the acquisition of wealth. It must, then, follow the passion of wealth and labor especially to promote worldly interests. 

 But among these worldly interests some are stronger than others and can command the government. These will take possession of the government and wield it for their own special advantage. They will make it the instrument of taxing all the other interests of the country for the special advancement of themselves. This leads to inequality and injustice, which are incompatible with the free, orderly, and wholesome working of the government. 

 Now, what is wanted is some power to prevent this, to moderate the passion for wealth, and to inspire the people with such a true and firm sense of justice as will prevent any one interest from struggling to advance itself at the expense of another. Without this the stronger material interests predominate, make the government the means of securing their predominance, and of extending by the burdens which, through the government, they are able to impose on the weaker interests of the country.

 The framers of our government foresaw this evil and thought to guard against it by a written constitution. But they entrusted the preservation of the constitution to the care of the people, which was as wise as to lock up your culprit in prison and entrust him with the key. The constitution as a restraint on the will of the people or the governing majority is already a dead letter. It answers to talk about, to declaim about, in electioneering speeches, and even as a theme of newspaper leaders and political essays in reviews; but its effective power is a morning vapor after the sun is well up. (Vol. 10, pp. 8,9.)


Protestantism Unable to Sustain Free Institutions


 We may be told that enlightened self-interest will suffice- that only instruct the people what is for their interest and they will do it. This is plausible, but all experience proves to the contrary. Who does not know that it is for his real interest, both for time and eternity, to be a devout Christian? And yet are all devout Christians? The wisdom and prudence of men’s conduct cannot be measured by their intelligence. A corrupt man uses his intelligence only as the minister of his corruption. The more you extend intelligence, unless you extend the moral restraints and influence of the gospel at the same time, the more you do to sharpen the intellect for evil. The people of the United States are far more instructed than they were fifty years ago, and yet have not half so much of the virtue necessary to sustain a republican government. We are never to expect men to act virtuously simply because their understandings are convinced that virtue is the best calculation. You must make them act from a higher motive. They must be governed by religion; act from the love and fear of God- from a deep sense of duty; be meek, humble, self-denying; morally brave and heroic; choosing rather to die a thousand deaths than swerve from right principle or disobey the will of God; or they will not practice the virtues without which liberty is an empty name – a mere illusion.

 Now, Protestantism never has produced and never can produce the virtues without which a republican government can have no solid foundation. It may have good words; it may say wise and even just things; but it wants the unction of the spirit. It does not reach and regenerate the heart, subdue the passions, and renew the spirit. It has never produced a single saint, and the virtues it calls forth are of the sort exhibited by the old heathen moralists. It praises the Bible, but studies the Greek and Roman classics; boasts of spirituality, but expires in a vain formalism. For the three hundred years it has existed it has proved itself powerful to destroy, but impotent to found; ready to begin, but never able to complete. Whatever it claims that is positive, abiding, it has inherited or borrowed from the ages and the lands of faith. Its own creations rise and vanish as the soap-bubbles blown by our children in their sports. It has never yet shown itself able to command human nature or to say to the roused waves of passion, Peace, be still. It lulls the conscience with the forms of faith and piety; soothes vanity and fosters pride by its professions of freedom; but leaves the passions all their natural force and permits the man to remain a slave to all his natural lusts. It never subdues or regenerates nature. Hence, throughout all Protestantdom, the tendency is to reproduce heathen antiquity with all its cant, hollowness, hypocrisy, slavery, and wretchedness – to narrow men’s views down to this transitory life and the fleeting shows of sense, and to make them live and labor for the meat that perishes. We appeal to England, Sweden, Denmark, Protestant Germany, Holland, and our own country for the truth of what we say. They were Protestant traders who trampled on the cross of Christ to gain the lucrative trade of Japan. It is in no spirit of exaltation we allude to Protestant worldly-mindedness and spiritual impotency. Were to God the sketch were from fancy or our own diseased imagination!

 We do not mean to deny that in words Protestantism teaches many, perhaps most, of the Christian virtues. It has even some good books on morals and practical religion. Its clergy give good exhortations and labor, no doubt in good faith, for the spiritual culture of their flocks. No doubt much truth, much valuable instruction, is given from Protestant pulpits. The Protestant clergy take no delight in the state of things they see around them. They would gladly see Christ reign in the hearts of men; they no doubt would joyfully dispense the bread of life to their famished people; and they do dispense the best they have. But alas! How can they dispense what they have not received? The living bread is not on their communion table. They communicate, according to their own confession, only a figure, a shadow; and how shall the divine life be nourished with shadows? What we mean to say is, not that Protestantism does not aim to bring men to Christ, to make them pure and holy, but that it has no power to do it. It does not control human nature and produce the fruits of a supernatural faith, hope, and charity. Its faith is merely an opinion or persuasion, its hope a wish, and its charity natural philanthropy. It necessarily leaves human nature as it finds it, and no pruning of that corrupt tree can make it bring forth good fruit. It is of the earth- earthly; and it will bear fruit only for the earth. With unregenerated nature in full activity, we can have only sensuality and mammon-worship.

 Hundreds and thousands among us who are by no means favorably disposed to Catholicity see this and deplore it. They say the age has no faith. They see the impotency of Protestantism; that under it all the vices are sheltered; that in spite of it all the dangerous passions rage unchecked; and they turn away in disgust from its empty forms and vain words. Witness the response the biting sarcasm and withering irony of Carlyle bring from thousands of hearts in this republic, the echoes which the chiseled words and marble sentences of Emerson also bring. Witness, also, the movements of the Come-outers, the Socialists, Fourierists, Communists. All these see that Protestantism has nothing but words, while they want life, realities, not vain simulacra.  They err most egregiously, no doubt; they go from the dying to the dead; but their error proves the truth of what we advance.

 Now, assuming our view of Protestantism to be correct, we demand how it is to sustain, or we, with it alone, are to sustain our republican government. Do we not see, in this growing love of place and plunder, with its growing devotion to wealth, luxury, and pleasure, with these fierce electioneering contests, one no sooner ended than another one begins, each to be fiercer and more absorbing and more destructive than the last, and each drawing within its vortex nearly the whole industrial interest of the country and touching almost every man in his honor and his purse, that we want the moral elements without which a republic cannot stand? A republic can stand only as it rests upon the virtues of the people; and these not the mere natural virtues of worldly prudence and social decency, but those loftier virtues which are possible to human nature only as elevated above itself by the infused habit of supernatural grace. This is a solemn fact to which it is in vain for us to close our eyes. Human nature left to itself tends to dissolution, to destruction, decay, death. So does every society that rests only on those virtues which have their origin, growth, and maturity in nature alone. This is the case with our own society. We have really no social bond; we have no true patriotism; none of that patience, that self-denial, that loyalty of soul which is necessary to bind man to man, each to each and each to all. Each is for himself. Save who can (Sauve qui peut), we exclaim. Hence a universal scramble. Man overthrows man, brother brother, the father the child and the child the father, the demagogue all; while the devil stands at a distance, looks on, and enjoys the sport. Tell us, ye who boast of the glorious reformation, if a republican form of government is compatible with this moral state of the people?

 Even in matters of education we can do little but sharpen the wit and render brother more skillful and successful in plundering brother. With our multitude of sects we may instruct, but not educate. Our children can have no moral training, for morality rests on theology and theology on faith. But faith is expelled from our schools because it is sectarian, and there is no one faith in the country which can be taught without exciting the jealousy of the followers of a rival faith. Cut up into such a multitude of sects, there is and can be no common moral culture in the country, no true religious training. We give a little instruction in reading, writing, arithmetic, grammar, geography, perhaps history, the Greek and Roman classics, and in the physical sciences; and send our children out into the world to form their morals and their religion without other guide or assistant than their own short-sighted reason and perverted passions. How can we expect any thing from such a sowing but what we reap? And how, under Protestantism, which broaches everything and settles nothing, raises all questions and answers none, and therefore necessarily giving birth to a perpetual succession of sects, each claiming with equal reason and justice to have the truth, and the claims of all equally respected, as they must be, by the government, is this terrible evil to be remedied? (Vol. 10, pp. 29-32.)


Catholicity the Safety of the Republic


 But with Catholicity the republic may be sustained, not because the Catholic Church enjoins this form of government or that, but because she nourishes in the hearts of her children the virtues which render popular liberty both desirable and practicable. The Catholic Church meddles directly with no form of government. She leaves each people free to adopt such form of government as seems to themselves good, and to administer it in their own way. Her chief concern is to fit men for beatitude, and this she can do under any or all forms of government. But the spirit she breathes into men, the graces she communicates, the dispositions she cultivates, and the virtues she produces, are such that, while they render every arbitrary forms of government tolerable, fit a people for asserting and maintaining freedom. In countries where there are no constitutional checks on power she remedies the evil by imposing moral restraints on its exercise, by inspiring rulers with a sense of justice and the public good. Where such checks do exist, she hallows them and renders them inviolable. In a republic she restrains the passions of the people, teaches them obedience to the laws of God, moderates their desires, weans their affections from the world, frees them from the dominion of their own lusts, and, by the meekness, humility, loyalty of heart which she cherishes, disposes them to the practice of those public virtues which render a republic secure. She also creates by her divine charity a true equality. No republic can stand where the dominant feeling is pride, which finds its expression in the assertion, “I am as good as you.” It must be based on love; not on the determination to defend our own rights and interests, but on the fear to encroach on the rights and interests of others. But this love must be more than the mere sentiment of philanthropy. This sentiment of philanthropy is a very unsubstantial affair. Talk as we will about its excellence, it never goes beyond love to those who love us. We love our friends and neighbors, but hate our enemies. This is all we do as philanthropists. All the fine speeches we make beyond- about the love of humanity and all that- are fine speeches. Philanthropy must be exalted into the supernatural virtue of charity before it can become that love which leads us to honor all men and makes us shrink from encroaching upon the interests of any man, no matter how low or how vile. We must love our neighbor, not for his own sake, but for God’s sake- the child, for the sake of the Father; then we can love all and joyfully make the most painful sacrifices for them. It is only in the bosom of the Catholic Church that this sublime charity has ever been found or can be found.

 The Catholic Church also cherishes a spirit of independence, a loftiness and dignity of soul, favorable to the maintenance of popular freedom. It ennobles every one of its members. The lowest, the humblest Catholic is a member of that church which was founded by Jesus Christ himself; which has subsisted for eighteen hundred years; which has in every age been blessed with signal tokens of the Redeemer’s love; which counts its saints by millions; and the blood of whose martyrs has made all earth hallowed ground. He is admitted into the goodly fellowship of the faithful of all ages and climes, and every day, throughout all the earth, the universal church sends up her prayers for him, and all the church above receives them, and, with her own, bears them as sweet incense up before the throne of the almighty and eternal God. He is a true nobleman, more than the peer of kings or Caesars; for he is a child of the King of kings, and, if faithful unto death, heir of a crown of life, eternal in the heavens, that fadeth not away. Such a man is no slave. His soul is free; he looks into the perfect law of liberty. Can tyrants enslave him? No, indeed; not because he will turn on the tyrant and kill, but because he can die and reign forever. What where a mere human tyrant before a nation of such men? Who could establish arbitrary government over them or subject them to unwholesome or iniquitous laws?

 Here is our hope for our republic. We look for our safety to the spread of Catholicity. We render solid and imperishable our free institutions just in proportion as we extend the kingdom of God among our people and establish in their hearts the reign of justice and charity. And here, then, is our answer to those who tell us Catholicity is incompatible with free institutions. We tell them that they cannot maintain free institutions without it. It is not a free government that makes a free people, but a free people that makes a free government; and we know no freedom but that wherewith the Son makes free. You must be free within before you can be free without. They who war against the church because they fancy it hostile to their civil freedom are as mad as those wicked Jews who nailed their Redeemer to the cross. But even now, as then, God be thanked, from the cross ascends the prayer, not in vain, “Father, forgive them, for they know not what they do.” (Vol. 10, pp. 33-35.)


Protestant Opposition will Fail


 Protestantism, afraid to meet the champions of the cross in fair and open debate, conscious of her weakness or unskillfulness in argument, true to her ancient instincts, resorts to the civil arm and hopes by a series of indirect legislation- to maintain her predominance. But this gives us no uneasiness. We know in whom we believe and are certain. We see these movements, we comprehend their aim, and we merely ask in the words of the Psalmist, “Why have the gentiles raged, and the people devised vain things? The kings of the earth stood up, and the princes met together, against the Lord and against his Christ. Let us break their bands asunder, and let us cast their yoke from us. He that dwelleth in the heavens shall laugh at them, and the Lord shall deride them. Then shall he speak to them in his anger, and trouble them in his rage” (Ps. ii, 1-5). They wage an unequal contest who wage war against the church of the living God, who hath said to its head, “Thou art my Son, this day have I begotten thee. Ask of me and I will give thee the gentiles for thy inheritance, and the utmost parts of the earth for thy possession” (Ibid. 7, 8). These may combine to put down Catholicity, form leagues against it, enlist all the powers of the earth against it; but what then? Nero tried to crush it in its infancy. Diocletian tried it. And Nero and Diocletian have passed away, and their mighty empire has crumbled to pieces and dissolved, leaving scarce “a wrack behind;” yet the church has lived on, and the successor of the fisherman of Galilee inherited a power before which that of Rome in her proudest day was merely the dust in the balance. Pagan and Saracen tried to crush it, but pagan and Saracen are scattered before its glory as the morning mist before the rising sun. heretic and schismatic have tried to exterminate it- Luther, and Calvin, and Henry of England, like the great dragon whose tail drew after it a third part of the stars of heaven; and their own children are rising up and crushing their memory. The powers of the earth have tried to do it- Napoleon, the Colossus who bestrided Europe and made and unmade kings in mere pastime; but Napoleon, from the moment he dared lay his hand on the Lord’s anointed, loses his power and goes to die at last of a broken heart in a barren isle of the ocean. Jew, pagan, Saracen, heretic, schismatic, infidel, and lawless power have all tried their hand against the church. The Lord has held them in derision. He has been a wall of fire round about her, and proved for eighteen hundred years that no weapon formed against her shall prosper; for he guards the honor of his spouse as his own. Let the ark appear to jostle, if it will; we reach forth no hand to steady it and fear no harm that may come to it. The church has survived all storms; it is founded upon a rock, and the gates of hell are impotent against it. It is not for the friends of the church to fear, but for those who war against her and seek her suppression. It is for them to tremble- not before the arm of man, for no human arm will be raised against them; but before that God whose church they outrage and whose cause they seek to crush. The Lord has promised his Son the gentiles for his inheritance and the utmost parts of the earth for his possession. He must and will have this nation. And throughout all the length and breadth of this glorious land shall his temples rise to catch the morning sun and reflect his evening rays, and holy altars shall be erected, and the “clean sacrifice” shall be offered daily, and a delighted people shall bow in humility before them and pour out their hearts in joyous thanksgiving; for so hath the Lord spoken, and his word shall stand. (Vol. 10, pp. 35, 36.)


Authority and



 God is the absolute, underived, and unlimited sovereign and proprietor of the universe. Here is the foundation of all authority and also of all liberty. Before God we have no liberty. We are his and not our own. We are what he creates us, have only what he gives us, and lie completely at his mercy. We hold all from him, even to the breath in our nostrils, and he has the sovereign right to dispose of us according to his own will and pleasure. In his presence and in presence of his law we have duties, but no rights, and our duty and his right is the full, entire, and unconditional submission of ourselves, soul and body, to his will. Here is authority, absolute, full, entire, and unbounded- as must be all authority in order to be authority.

 In the presence of authority there is no liberty; where, then, is liberty? It is not before God, but it is between man and man, between man and society, and between society and society. The absolute and plenary sovereignty of God excludes all other sovereignty, and our absolute and unconditional subjection to him excludes all other subjection. Hence no liberty before God and no subjection before man; and therefore liberty is rightly defined, full and entire freedom from all authority but the authority of God. Here is liberty, liberty in the human sphere, and liberty full and entire, without restraint or limit in the sphere to which it pertains. Man is subjected to God, but to God only. No man, in his own right, has any, the least, authority over man; no body or community of men, as such, has any rightful authority either in spirituals or temporals. All merely human authorities are merely usurpations, and their acts are without obligation, null and void from the beginning. If the parent, the pastor, the prince has any right to command, it is as the vicar of God, and in that character alone; if I am bound to obey my parents, my pastor, or my prince, it is because my God commands me to obey them, and because in obeying them I am obeying him. Here is the law of liberty, and here, too, is the law of authority. Understand now why religion must found the state, why it is nonsense or blasphemy to talk of an alliance between authority and freedom. Both proceed from the same fountain, the absolute, underived, unlimited sovereignty of God, and can be no more opposed one to the other than God can be opposed to himself. Hence absolute and unconditional subjection to God is absolute and unlimited freedom. Therefore, says our Lord, “If the Son makes you free, you shall be free indeed.” 

 The sovereignty of God does not oppose liberty; it founds and guaranties it. Authority is not the antagonist of freedom; it is its support, its vindicator. It is not religion, it is not Christianity, but infidelity, that places authority and liberty one over against the other in battle array. It is not God who crushes our liberty, robs us of our rights, and binds heavy burdens upon our shoulders too grievous to be borne; it is man, who at the same time that he robs us of our rights robs God of his. He who attacks our freedom attacks his sovereignty; he who vindicates his sovereignty, the rights of God, vindicates the rights of man; for all human rights are summed up in one right to be governed by God and be him alone, in the duty of absolute subjection to him, and absolute freedom from all subjection to any other. Maintain, therefore, the rights of God, the supremacy in all departments of the divine law, and you need not trouble your heads about the rights of man, freedom of thought, or civil liberty, for they are secured with all the guarantee of the divine sovereignty. The divine sovereignty is, therefore, as indispensable to liberty as to authority.

 We need not stop to show that the divine sovereignty is not itself a despotism. The essence of despotism, as we have said, is not that it is authority, but that it is authority without right, will without reason, power without justice, which can never be said of God; for his right to universal dominion is unquestionable, and in him will and reason, power and justice, are never disjoined, are identical, are one and the same, and are distinguishable save in our manner of conceiving them. His sovereignty is rightful, his will is intrinsically, eternally, and immutably just will, his power just power. Absolute subjection to him is absolute subjection to eternal, immutable, and absolute justice. Hence subjection to him alone is, on the one hand, subjection to absolute justice, and, on the other, freedom to be and to do all that absolute justice permits. Here is just authority as great as can be conceived and true liberty as large as is possible this side of license; and between the two there is and can be in the nature of things no clashing, no conflict, no antagonism. How mean and shallow is infidel philosophy! (Vol. 10, pp. 124-126.)


The Church Saves from Despotism


 It is not the church that establishes spiritual despotism; it is she who saves us from it. Spiritual despotism is that which subjects us, in spiritual matters, to a human authority, whether our own or that of others- for our own is as human as another’s; and the only redemption from it is in having in them a divine authority. Protestants themselves acknowledge this when they call out for the pure word God. The church teaches by divine authority; in submitting to her we submit to God and are freed from all human authority. She teaches infallibly; therefore, in believing what she teaches we believe the truth, which freesus from falsehood and error, to which all men without an infallible guide are subject, and subjection to which is the elemental principle of all spiritual despotism. Her authority admitted excludes all other authority, and therefore frees us from heresiarchs and sects, the very embodiment of spiritual despotism in its most odious forms. Sectarianism is spiritual despotism itself; and to know how far spiritual despotism and spiritual slavery may go, you have only to study the history of the various sects and false religions which now exist or have heretofore existed.

 In the temporal order, again, the authority claimed and exercised by the church is nothing but the assertion over the state of the divine sovereignty, which she presents, or the subjection of the prince to the law of God, in his character of prince as well as in his character of man. That the prince or civil power is subject to the law of God, no man who admits Christianity at all dares question; and if the church be the divinely-commissioned teacher and guardian of that law, as she certainly is, the same subjection to her must be conceded. But this, instead of being opposed to civil liberty, is its only possible condition. Civil liberty, like all liberty, is in being held to no obedience but obedience to God; and obedience to the state can be compatible with liberty only on condition that God commands it or on the condition that he governs in the state, which he does not and cannot do unless the state holds from his law and is subject to it. (Vol. 10, p. 128.)


Church and State


 The church and the state, as administrations, are distinct bodies; but they are not, as some modern politicians would persuade us, two coordinate and mutually independent authorities. The state holds under the law of nature and has authority only within the limits of that law. As long as it confines itself within that law and faithfully executes its provisions, it acts freely, without ecclesiastical restraint or interference. But the church holds from God under the supernatural or revealed law, which includes, as integral in itself, the law of nature, and is therefore the teacher and guardian of the natural as well as of the revealed law. She is, under God, the supreme judge of both laws, which for her are but one law; and hence she takes cognizance in her tribunals of the breaches of the natural law as well as of the revealed, and has the right to take cognizance of its breaches by nations as well as of its breaches by individuals, by the prince as well as by the subject, for it is the supreme law for both. The state is, therefore, only an inferior court bound to receive the law from the supreme court and liable to have its decisions reversed on appeal. 

 This must be asserted, if we assert the supremacy of the Christian law and hold the church to be its teacher and judge; for no man will deny that Christianity includes the natural as well as the supernatural law. Who, with any just conceptions, or any conceptions at all, of the Christian religion, will pretend that one can fulfill the Christian law and yet violate the natural law?- that one is a good Christian if he keeps the precepts of the church, though he break every precept of the Decalogue?- or that Christianity remits the catechumen to the state to learn the law of nature, or what we term natural morality? Grace presupposes nature. The supernatural ordinances of God’s law presuppose the natural, and the church, which is the teacher and guardian of faith and morals, can no more be so without plenary authority with regard to the latter than the former. Who, again, dares pretend that the moral law is not as obligatory on emperors, kings, princes, commonwealths, as upon private individuals?- upon politicians as upon priests or simple believers? Unless, then, you exempt the state from all obligation even to the law of nature, you must make it amenable to the moral law as expounded by the church, divinely commissioned to teach and declare it. (Vol. 10, pp. 129, 130.)

 We need hardly say that we advocate no amalgamation of the civil and ecclesiastical administrations. They are in their nature, as we have said, distinct, and the supremacy of the church, which we assert, is by no means the supremacy of the clergy as politicians. We have no more respect for clergymen turned politicians than we have for any other class of politicians of equal worth, perhaps not quite so much; for we cannot forget that they, in becoming politicians, descend from their sacerdotal rank, as a judge does in descending from the bench to play the part of an advocate. We have had political priests ever since there was a Christian state, and many of them have made sad work of both politics and religion. We have nothing to say of them but that they were politicians, and their censurable acts were not performed in their character of priests. The principle we assert does not exact that the church should turn politician, and thus from the church become the state, or that the clergy should turn politicians; it exacts that both she and they should not. The clergy as politicians fall into the category of all politicians, and their supremacy as politicians would still be the supremacy of the state, not of the church. The state is supreme if politicians as such be supreme, let them be selected from what class of the community they may. The principle exacts, indeed, the supremacy of the clergy, but solely as the church, in their sacerdotal and pastoral character as teachers, guardians, and judges of the law of God, natural and revealed, supreme for individuals and nations, for prince and subject, king and commonwealth, noble and plebian, rich and poor, great and small, wise and simple; not as politicians, in which character they have and can have no preeminence over politicians selected from the laity, and must stand on the same level with them. We do not advocate- far from it- the notion that the church must administer the civil government; what we advocate is her supremacy as the teacher and guardian of the law of God- as the supreme court, which must be recognized and submitted to as such by the state, and whose decisions cannot be disregarded, whose prerogatives cannot be abridged or usurped by any power on earth, without rebellion against the divine majesty and robbing man of his rights. As Christians we must insist on this supremacy; as Catholics it is not only our duty, but our glorious privilege, to assert it, and to understand and practice our religion as God himself, through his own chosen organ, promulgates and expounds it. (Vol. 10, pp. 133, 134.)


Religious Liberty


 You talk of religious liberty. Know you what the word means? Know ye that religious liberty is all and entire in the supremacy of the moral order? The church is a spiritual despotism, is she? Bold blasphemer, miserable apologist for tyrants and tyranny, go trace her track through eighteen hundred years, and behold it marked with the blood of her free and noble-hearted, children, whom God loves and honors, shed in defense of religious liberty. From the first moment of her existence she has fought, ay, fought as no other power can fight, for liberty of religion. Every land has been reddened with the blood and whitened with the bones of her martyrs in that sacred cause; and now, rash upstart, you dare in the face of day proclaim her the friend of despotism! Alas! My brother, may God forgive you, for you know not what you do. (Vol. 10, pp. 135, 136.)


Civil and Religious Toleration


 Religious liberty, as we understand it, is the absolute freedom of religion in its doctrines, discipline, and worship from all human authority, and therefore implies the absolute incompetency, in spirituals, of all human authority, whether public or private. We say the absolute freedom of religion; by which we, of course, mean the true, that is, the Catholic religion. Consequently we recognize no religious liberty where our church is not free in her doctrine, discipline, and worship, and where all men have not full and entire freedom to profess the Catholic religion without restraint from or responsibility to any human power whatever, whether vested in the king, the aristocracy, or the people. Where this freedom is wanting there is no religious liberty. This freedom we demand, not as a favor, not as a gracious concession from the prince or the republic, but as our right, as the indefeasible right of our church, for the reason that she is the church of God, the representative of the divine sovereignty on the earth; and this freedom we are bound in conscience to assert and to vindicate, if need be, as did the early Christian martyrs under the persecuting emperors of pagan Rome, not indeed by slaying, but by submitting to be slain. 

 From this view of religious liberty it is evident that when we speak of toleration we have and can have no reference to our church; for she holds immediately from God, and we recognize no power on earth that has the right to restrain her worship, and therefore none that has the right to tolerate it. The question of toleration lies below the question of religious liberty and relates solely to false religions- to infidel, heretical, and schismatical sects. Are these to be tolerated or are they to be prohibited? Shall we assert the natural right of every man to choose his own religion, or shall we assert, and as far as able enforce, the moral obligation of all men to profess the true religion? Shall we be intolerant and exclusive or assert and maintain universal toleration? This is the question.

 To answer this question we must distinguish between two sorts of toleration- political or civil toleration and religious or theological toleration; that is, toleration of false religions in the temporal order, and toleration of the same in the spiritual order. These two tolerations are often confounded and supposed to be inseparably connected. Hence many assert religious or theological toleration as the condition of justifying the assertion of political or civil toleration, in order, as they suppose, not to be obliged to assert religious toleration. But the two are in reality distinct, and one has no necessary connection with or dependence on the other. Political toleration of religion is the permission conceded by princes or republics to their subjects to profess the religion they choose; religious toleration is the permission granted by Almighty God to all men to profess any religion they please or none at all, and implies the equal right or the indifference of all religions before God or in reference to eternal life. Universal political toleration presupposes that all religions are compatible with the peace and safety of civil society; universal religious toleration presupposes that all religions are acceptable to God and available for salvation. The state regards religion solely under its relation to social interests, and the theologian regards it primarily in its relation to the future life or the salvation of the soul. It is easy, therefore, if we understand the distinction of the two orders, to see that it is possible to be politically tolerant and yet religiously intolerant, if not politically intolerant and yet religiously tolerant.  

 The question of the political toleration of religion we shall consider at some length before we close; but for the moment we must confine ourselves to religious or theological toleration. Religion or theological toleration is what is commonly called indifferentism, that is, the doctrine that men may be saved in all religions, in one as well as in another, or that every one may be saved in his own religion, the religion of his country or of his sect. To concede this doctrine is religious or theological toleration as distinguished from political or civil toleration; to deny it is religious or theological intolerance and exclusiveness, expressed in the Catholic dogma, “Out of the church there is no salvation.” Whatever conclusion we may or may not come to on the subject of political toleration or the indifference of religions before society and the civil authority, we must, unless bereft of reason, be religiously or theologically intolerant and exclusive; for toleration in the spiritual order is, at bottom, neither more nor less than the denial of the religious principle itself. (Vol. 10, pp. 208, 209.)


Religious Toleration Cannot be Contended For


 Certain it is, from natural reason, that no man can be saved unless he renders to God an acceptable worship, and that no worship is or can be acceptable to God except the worship which he himself prescribes. Moreover, it is equally certain that no man can be saved who does not at least fulfill the law of nature. By the very law of nature all men are bound to worship God, and to worship him in the way and manner he himself prescribes. If he leaves them to the natural law and prescribes his worship only through natural reason, undoubtedly such worship as they can render by a prudent, diligent, honest use of reason and the means bestowed for such purpose will be the acceptable worship, and all that can in justice be demanded of them; but if he prescribes a supernatural religion and promulgates it with sufficient motives of credibility, as he must needs do if he promulgates it at all, then are they bound to worship him according to that supernatural religion- bound by the very law of nature itself to receive and practice it; and they want even natural morality if they do not. Such a religion, with sufficient motives of credibility, he has prescribed in Christianity. How, then, can we assert the indifference of religions and contend for religious toleration? Since God prescribes the Christian religion, the law of nature, as well as of revelation, binds us to believe and obey it. If we do not, we fail to fulfill the law of nature as well as to render the acceptable worship, and are convicted of sin under both the natural law and the revealed. How, then, can we hope to be saved? (Vol. 10, p. 210.)


Civil Toleration


 We assert rigid intolerance of all false religions in the spiritual order; but it must not, therefore, be supposed that we deny or do not assert the legitimacy of their toleration in the political order. It is true, as we have said, that in speaking of toleration we exclude our church; for there can never be rightfully any question at all whether she shall be free or not. She is God’s church and is free by divine right, not by the concession of the prince or the commonwealth. As much, we concede, we do not and cannot say for the sects. They are contrary to the will of God, forbidden by his law, and have no divine right to be at all. But not therefore does it follow that the civil authority is bound to suppress them or is not bound even to tolerate them. The state- and we beg that the fact be borne in mind- is not commissioned to execute the whole law of God; and though it can never rightfully do anything contrary to that law, it has authority to enforce it only in externals, and even in externals only so far as necessary to the maintenance of the peace and welfare of society. There are mortal sins against the law of God, of daily and hourly occurrence, that transcend the reach of the civil magistrate and which he has no right to punish. We may transgress against God in thought as well as in deed; but the state must leave our punishment to him who has said, “Vengeance is mine, and I will repay”- save when our sinful thoughts break out in deeds contrary to the rights of our neighbor or the real interests of civil society. Till then our offences pertain to the spiritual order and do not fall under the cognizance of the civil magistrate, who has no competency in spirituals. There are also virtues- such as faith, hope, charity, meekness, gentleness, humility, benevolence- all strictly obligatory upon all men, which the civil authority cannot enforce and has no right to enforce; for though of the last importance to the peace and safety of society, they lie, as to their principle and motive, wholly within the spiritual order. Everybody knows this, and nobody, to our knowledge, directly contradicts it. It does not, then, follow, from the exclusiveness of religion in her own order, that the political order must always enforce the same exclusiveness and suppress whatever is opposed to it.

 All must agree that the state has no right to establish a false religion or to prohibit the true religion; because every man has from Almighty God himself full and entire freedom to profess the true religion, and no one can, under any circumstances whatever, be bound to profess or adhere, even externally, to a false religion. To profess the true religion is the duty of all men, and no government has or can have the right to hinder its subjects from performing their duty. (Vol. 10, pp. 219, 220.)

 But though the state has no right to enjoin the profession of a false religion or to prohibit the profession of the true religion, yet is it not bound, we may be asked, to enjoin the profession of the true religion and to prohibit that of the false? It certainly would be if it were commissioned to promulgate and execute the whole law of God and if there were nothing in religion left to conscience and free will. But the latter, we know, is not true. …

 The state has civil, but no spiritual functions; it is not in holy orders; it has not received the mission of evangelizing the world; and it has no vocation to preach the Gospel or to assume the direction of consciences. It is certainly bound to recognize and protect the full and entire freedom of the true religion, and to suppress by force, if necessary, all external violence against it, for this is included in the civil rights of those who profess it; but it can legitimately use coercion, either in favor of the true or against a false religion, only for purely social reasons, and only so far as necessary to the maintenance of the order and interests of society; for, as we never cease to repeat, its functions are purely civil and it has no spiritual competency.

 Certainly the obligation or right of civil governments not Catholic- where there is no publicly recognized infallible authority to determine which is the true religion- to enjoin the profession of the true worship and to prohibit others cannot be asserted; because the government having only civil functions cannot judge in spirituals or discriminate between one religion and another. It cannot, then, enjoin one worship and prohibit another, for fear, of for no other reason, that it may enjoin a false religion and proscribe the true; and therefore it must, even in common prudence, tolerate all religions not obviously immoral, like the obscene and cruel rites of many pagan nations, or directly incompatible with the safety and welfare of society. This binds all governments not Catholic to universal toleration, because all religions but the Catholic are confessedly fallible, and can, on their own showing, offer the government no infallible judgment by which it may form or to which it is bound to submit its own.

 With regard to Catholic governments, or governments of Catholic countries, where there is an infallible spiritual authority publicly recognized by the nation, we distinguish between those governments which have only the ordinary obligations of civil government and those governments which hold from the church, or under the express condition of professing and defending the Catholic religion. Governments of the first-mentioned class are bound to acknowledge the true religion and to throw their moral influence into its scale; for the state, as well as the individual, is bound to have a conscience,  and even a good conscience; but nothing in the constitution of the state binds these governments to enforce the profession of the Catholic religion or to prohibit that of other religions, and as these religions, if not palpably immoral, are not, in themselves, social offences, the government has no right to declare them so or to suppress them. These governments having by their constitution only the ordinary functions of civil governments, can do no more for the true religion or against false religions than the interests of society demand; and as such governments themselves presuppose a state of society in which false religions, as such, are not incompatible with these interests, they are bound to tolerate them and leave their suppression to the operation of moral causes.

 As to the second class of Catholic governments distinguished, that they are bound to recognize the Catholic religion as the law of the land and are not free to tolerate all religions, we grant. But there are few, if any, such governments now in existence; and the reasons which formerly demanded and justified them have, in the social changes which have taken place in recent times, lost their force, and cannot now be urged for the establishment or the maintenance of similar governments. In the middle ages nearly all the European governments not pagan were professedly Catholic, and did and had the right to punish open infidelity, heresy, and schism- always sins against God- because then they were directly crimes against society, forbidden by the public law; and crimes against society the civil government has always the right to punish. But now, when that political order has passed away, and in the altered circumstances of our times these sins against God are no longer to be treated as direct crimes against society, the government is not bound and has no right to punish them; because civil government has never the right, we repeat, to punish any sin, except for the reason that it is a social offence which society cannot, with a just regard to its own safety, suffer to go unpunished.

 We do not assume that infidelity, heresy, and schism were social offences merely because they were declared such by the laws or made such by the fundamental constitution of the state. The laws, as in pagan Rome, or in England before Catholic emancipation, may establish a false religion and prohibit the true; but that does not make the profession of the true religion a social crime or incompatible with the legitimate interests of society. If religion and the laws come in conflict, it is the laws that are to be reformed, not the religion that is to be suppressed. To say otherwise- to say that false religions are justly punishable by civil society simply because contrary to the civil law- would be to concede that the profession of the true religion may be justly punished in those states in which the civil law prohibits it. The laws must themselves be just or they do not bind; and the fundamental constitution of a state must be legitimate, for a measure is not justifiable simply because authorized by it or necessary to preserve it. What we assert is that the political order which in former times declared infidelity, heresy, schism, when breaking out into overt acts, social offences, was itself just; because then they were such offences in fact as well as in law, and the laws only declared a truth which existed independently of them. The intolerance of the government was justifiable, because demanded by its fundamental and essential constitution, and that constitution was itself justifiable by its absolute necessity, under the circumstances, to the existence of society and the interest of civilization. (Vol. 10, pp. 221-224.)


Church and State in the Middle Ages


 In the barbaric ages which followed the destruction of the western Roman empire- ages against which we hear so many noisy and senseless declamations, and in which we ourselves find little except Catholicity and what proceeded from it, which does not revolt us- the church of God had a double mission to perform, and was obliged to add to her spiritual functions the greater part of the functions of civil society itself. She was the sole repository of what had been saved from the wrecks of the old Roman civilization, and the only civilizing force that remained after the barbarian irruption and devastations. The lay society was dissolved by the ruin of the empire and of the civilized populations, and was no longer adequate to the management of secular affairs in accordance with civilized order. The church was obliged to add to her mission of evangelizer, which is her mission of all times and places, the temporary and accidental mission of civilizer of the nations. She must tame the wild savage, humanize the ruthless barbarian, reestablish social order, revive science and the arts, and restore and advance civilization. All had been demolished, and she had all to reconstruct. She had to be statesman, lawyer, physician, pedagogue, architect, painter, sculptor, musician, agriculturalist, horticulturalist, bookbinder, and common mechanic or artisan – in fine, everything but money-changer and soldier. Having thus the chief part of the work of civil society to perform, it became absolutely necessary that she should have a civil and political existence and authority- that she should be incorporated into the state as an integral element of the civil constitution and have her worship, without which she could have as little social as religious influence, recognized as the law of the land as well as the law of God. There was no other condition of rescuing society from the chaos and barbarism in which it was plunged and of reviving civilization and securing its progress. Infidelity, heresy, and schism, which were directly in opposition to her mission of civilizing the nations as to her mission of evangelizing them, were then directly and proximately crimes against society, and as such were justly punishable by the public authorities. In attacking the church they attacked civil society itself, struck at the very conditions of social order, and jeopardized every social interest.

 But from the nature of the case this mission of civilizer of the nations is restricted to barbarous ages and countries, for the very good reason that the church cannot be called upon to civilize nations when they are already civilized. This mission she has now, in great measure, accomplished in what is called Christendom; and the necessity of that particular political order which specially protected her in its performance, or which was requisite to enable her to perform it, does not now exist. The lay society she has rescued from barbarism and civilized. It has now the arts of civilized life in its own possession, and does not need, as it once did in barbarous ages, the church to teach it how to make shoes, bind books, or brew hop-beer. It is now competent, under the spiritual direction of the spiritual society, to the management of secular affairs. It has in these affairs, which properly belong to it, attained to majority, and no longer needs in regard to them, so far as purely secular and as they involve no moral principle, to be under ecclesiastical tutelage. The church is now free to resign her temporary civil functions and to devote herself exclusively to the mission of evangelizing the world. It is not necessary that she should be now incorporated into the states, in the sense she was in the barbaric ages; and consequently infidelity, heresy, and schism, though as great sins against God as ever, are not now crimes against society in the sense they were then or to be punished as such; and therefore, as long as their adherents demean themselves peaceably, offer no external violence to the true religion, and discharge their ordinary social obligations, they are to be politically tolerated and left to answer for their sinfulness, great as it unquestionably is, to God himself. (Vol. 10, pp. 224-226.)


The State Must Tolerate all Religions


 It is evident from what we have said that though we assert the most rigid theological intolerance and the wisdom and justice of the political intolerance which nobody denies was during many centuries asserted and sometimes practiced by Catholic states, we are bound by Catholic principles to assert for our times the toleration of all religions compatible with the existence and interests of society. (Vol. 10, p. 227.)


The Church Uses Only Moral Force


 The church cannot tolerate the punishment by the civil authority of offences purely spiritual, because the civil authority cannot do it without trenching upon her province. She allows no one to be molested merely for his want of faith, because for his want of faith the unbeliever is answerable to God alone. Faith is voluntary and cannot be forced. Whoever chooses to run the risk of the penalty of eternal damnation annexed to infidelity is free to be an infidel, and Almighty God neither does violence nor suffers any power on earth to do violence to his free will. He proffers eternal life to all men, tells them the conditions on which they may receive it, gives them the necessary graces to accept and secure it, urges them by the most powerful motives which can be addressed to reason, conscience, free will; but he forces no one to accept it. He demands the heart, its free, voluntary obedience, and will accept and reward only the free-will offering. Hence the church strictly and solemnly forbids any one to be forced or compelled to receive the faith. Hence her missionaries are never armed soldiers, but humble preachers, bearing only the crucifix and pastoral staff. Never has she allowed the unbaptized- Jews, pagans, Mahometans, infidels- to be forced to profess the Catholic faith or force to be employed against them, except to compel them to tolerate the preaching of the Gospel. If in Catholic states they have ever been disturbed or molested on account of their unbelief, it has been against her authority or because they preached violence against the profession of the true religion, or because they were dangerous subjects to the state and could not, under the circumstances, be safely tolerated- as, for instance, in Spain under Charles V, when the Jews and Moors conspired in secret and with the enemies of the church, not simply to secure the peaceable enjoyment of their own religions, but to overthrow both altar and throne, both of which the state had the right and was bound to protect and defend, to the full extent of its power, against any and every class of enemies.

 The church certainly claims authority over all baptized persons, by whomever they may have been baptized; for they are, in the sacrament of baptism, born her subjects, and she has a right to their obedience. Heretics and schismatics are her rebellious subjects, and she has the same right to reduce them to obedience and to compel them to conform their life to their baptismal vows that a temporal sovereign has to reduce a rebellious province to submission to his legitimate authority. But she can reduce them only by such means as she possesses, and can inflict on them for their rebellion only such punishments as she has at her command, which are all spiritual. If they make war on her and attempt to seize her churches, to rob her of her possessions, to desecrate her altars, and to suppress her altar or restrain its freedom, as was the case with the early Protestants in every country where they had power enough, and which caused the terrible religious wars of the sixteenth century and the persecution of Protestants by Catholic princes, she has the right to call in secular power to her aid, and it is bound to repel them by force; because they themselves then transfer the controversy from the spiritual order to the temporal, and attack the social and civil rights of the church no less than her spiritual rights. But when they themselves restrain their heresy and schism within the limits of the spiritual order, make no attempt to propagate their pestilential errors or iniquity by violence, and attack none of the rights of the church or of the faithful, she, as we have seen, recognizes no right in the secular authority to molest them unless guilty of other crimes against society- and then only on principles which apply equally to all classes of social offenders. As simple heresy and schism, she cannot call in the secular authority to aid her in suppressing them. She is therefore reduced to her own spiritual resources, to addresses to their reason and their conscience, and can inflict on them only spiritual punishments, ecclesiastical censures, of which the greatest is excommunication. This, to a believer, is a terrible punishment, we grant; but to those who do not believe, who excommunicate themselves and glory in being severed from her communion, it is not a punishment too severe to be borne.

 But even in inflicting her spiritual censures and in all of her dealings with her rebellious subjects, the church always has their reformation at heart, and never forgets that her mission is to save men’s souls and not to destroy them. She pleads with them and leaves no measure untried that is likely to be successful, and she keeps the door always open for the return of the penitent. When she is under the painful necessity of turning over to Satan those who set at naught her discipline, it is for “the destruction of the flesh,” that “they may learn not to blaspheme.” To the very last she pleads with all a mother’s sweetness, affection, and grief; and if they are finally melted and willing to return to their duty, she opens wide her arms and wide her heart to receive them, and generously forgets their past disobedience. Even the much decried and calumniated Inquisition, which it is possible politicians in some instances have abused, owed its origin to her maternal solicitude, and was instituted no less for the protection than for the detection of the misbelieving. She would interpose the shield of her maternal love between her rebellious subject and the secular arm to the last, till all hope was gone, till all her resources to reclaim him were exhausted. They know little of the church of God who call her cruel, proud, haughty, revengeful, thirsting for the blood of heretics, and rejoicing in their punishment by the civil authority. Long, long does she forbear with them- long, long does she suffer them to rend her own bosom- before she can endure to withdraw her affectionate embrace and abandon them to their self-chosen doom.

 And here we are admonished of what should be the spirit of our intercourse with our unbelieving and heretical neighbors and fellow-citizens. Rousseau asserts that the dogma, Out of the church there is no salvation, is anti-social, and that whoever professes it should be banished from the commonwealth. But he might as well have said that the dogma, No one who dies guilty of mortal sin can be saved, is anti-social, and he who holds it should be banished from society. We certainly regard infidels and heretics as guilty of mortal sin before God, and therefore, if dying in their infidelity and heresy, as condemned to hell. But they are not the only persons we regard as mortal sinners; and all who die mortal sinners, even though they should die nominally in our own communion, must, according to our faith, receive the same doom. There are persons in the church who will talk, write, fight for their religion, do any thing for it but live it, whose doom will be far more severe than that of many heretics and unbelievers; nay, we know not but we ourselves may be of the number, for no man knows whether he deserves love or hatred unless he has received a special revelation from God. We live in a world of sinners, and there may be in our own families, in our bosom companions, sinners for whose salvation we have as little reason to hope as we have for that of the unbeliever or the heretic. These things are so and must be so, and our rule of conduct is and should be the same towards sinners of all classes, that is, to conduct ourselves so as, if possible, to win them all to the love and practice of true religion.

 It is very true that all who are not joined to the Catholic communion, if they die as they are, will come short of salvation. This we know by infallible faith; but we do not know that all who are not now joined to that communion will die as they are, and have no right to presume that they will. Nothing assures us that their hearts will not be softened, their pride subdued, their eyes opened- that they will not one day behold, love, and conform to the truth, and enter into the kingdom of heaven, while perhaps we ourselves shall be thrust out into exterior darkness, where there shall be weeping and gnashing of teeth. It is no less an error to hold that they can be saved without being in the church. If we so held there would be some foundation for Rousseau’s charge; our doctrine would be anti-social and we should be unable to discharge our social duties towards those out of our church. But we hold no such doctrine. There is a place of repentance for them as well as for us, and nothing forbids us to hope and to labor for their salvation. The Lord alone knoweth who are his, and we have no right to presume, as long as there is life, that the doom of any one is sealed. We must, then, treat all men, those without as well as those within, as persons for whom Christ died, as persons who may be saved and whose salvation is to be desired by us with an unbounded charity, and for which we are to rejoice to make any sacrifice in our power. Here is the reason why the dogma objected to is not anti-social and why to profess it is no breach of charity to our neighbor, but if done in the proper spirit is the very reverse- is, in fact, the highest evidence we can give of the truth and fervor of our charity.

 The object of the church in all her dealings with those without as well as with those within is the salvation of souls. This must be ours also as her faithful children. This object we shall be able to further only as we live in accordance with the spirit of our religion. It requires no deep or extensive knowledge of mankind to know that the road to their convictions lies through their affections. If we would be instrumental, under God, in converting them, we must begin by loving them and by our love winning their love. Nothing is gained by convincing a man against his will; often the very logic that convinces, where the affections are not won, serves only to repel from obedience to the truth. We succeed in influencing others for their good only in proportion as we set before them an example fit for them to follow- are meek, gentle, humble, charitable, kind, and affectionate in our intercourse with them. And why shall we not love these neighbors and countrymen of ours who have not the inconceivable happiness of being in the church of God? Who are we that we should set up ourselves above them- that we should boast over them? What merit is it in us that we are not even as they? Or how do we know that ours will not be the greater condemnation? Are they not our kinsmen according to the flesh? Has not our God loved them with an infinite tenderness? Does he not proffer them his love with infinite sweetness? And has he not so longed for their love that he has died to win it? How, then, shall we not love them and labor for their salvation with a charity that burns with an intensity proportioned to their danger? Is it not here where we come short? Repelled by the bigotry, fanaticism, and hard-heartedness of some, attracted by the sweetness, affection, and kind offices of others, are we not prone to look upon these countrymen of ours who are out of the church either as persons whose conversion is hopeless or as persons who need no conversion- excusing ourselves from zealous labors to bring them to God by persuading ourselves that their conversion either is not possible or not necessary- forgetful that in either case we sin against faith and charity, and in both show ourselves wanting in true love of our neighbor and therefore of God? Is not here, in this double error, the reason why so few, comparatively, of our countrymen are brought into the one fold, under the one Shepherd? (Vol. 10, pp. 229-233.)


Catholicity Compatible with Toleration


 Our religion contains nothing, in case we should become the majority and the political power should pass in this country into our hands, which would require any external changes in our existing political institutions, in our domestic and social economies, or in the present mutual relations of the civil and ecclesiastical powers. In taking possession of a barbarous country, Catholicity must labor to change the institutions, the laws, the manners and customs as well as the religion and interior sentiments of the people. It has to do the same in taking possession even of a falsely civilized country, like India, China, or Japan. Catholicity can never tolerate the social institutions which are cherished by these oriental nations, as the decisions of Rome in the controversies between the Jesuits and Dominicans fully prove. It can tolerate any form of government, but it can, wherever it becomes resident, tolerate no despotism, no government that is not a government of law. The prince, whether monarch, aristocracy, or democracy, must govern according to law, and as far as possible according to just law, for she recognizes no security for the worship of God where there is no protection for the rights of our neighbor, any more than she recognizes love to God where there is none to our brother. She can never tolerate the oriental doctrine of castes, for she teaches that all men are of one blood, are brethren, equals before God and should be equals before the law. The great reason why Christianity penetrates so slowly into these oriental nations is, no doubt, the fact that not their religion only, but their whole order of society, their whole political, social, and domestic life, is unchristian, and must be changed in order to make them Christian nations. A Chinese or a Hindoo might object, with truth, to the introduction of Christianity, that it would change his political and social institutions as well as his religious beliefs and usages.

 But when Catholicity took possession of the Roman empire it changed nothing except the spiritual order and what held from it. It stepped into the Roman civilization as if it had been expressly prepared for it- as it no doubt, in a great measure, had been- abolished the false gods, purged the temples of their idolatry, cleansed them with holy water, converted them into churches, and consecrated them to the true God- changed the manners and customs of the people as far as they depended on the false religions which had been professed, but retained the social institutions, the schools, the academies, the laws, the whole exterior domestic and social economy as she found it, only infusing her own spirit into it and animating it with a purer, a higher, and a more vigorous life. The same will be the case here. Our civilization is founded on a right basis- is Roman and Christian in its groundwork; and there never has been a state constituted throughout more in harmony with Catholic principles than the American. Its founders were not Catholics; far from it; but they would have been startled to have seen how much they were indebted to Catholicity for every important movement they adopted. Their innovations were, for the most part, borrowed from Catholic teachers. Our American fathers had, unhappily for them, turned their backs upon the church; but they had been nursed in the bosom of her civilization. That civilization they brought with them to this New World, purged of the barbaric leaven which was still, in some measure, retained in the mother country, and against which the popes and the whole spiritual society had protested for ten centuries. Whoever will examine the respective civil institutions of England and this country will hardly fail to perceive that what of England we have rejected is what she owes to her barbarous ancestors, and what we have added which she has not has been borrowed from Roman and Catholic civilization. Indeed, just in proportion, under a civil and political point of view, as we have receded from England, we have approached Rome and Catholicity. They betray no little simplicity and ignorance of modern civilization who suppose that the triumph of Catholicity here would be the subversion of our political and civil constitution. Our institutions throughout are based on the great principles of reason and common sense, which our church presupposes and sanctions, inspired by Catholic tradition and sustained by that portion of Catholic life which the Protestant population were able to carry with them when they broke away from its source, and which, we would fain hope, is not yet wholly extinct. Indeed, the body for Catholicity seems to us to be here already prepared. It is molded from fine, rich red earth, in a form of majestic proportions and of surpassing beauty, wanting nothing but the divine breath to be breathed into its nostrils in order to become a living soul. The conversion of the country would destroy, would change nothing in this admirable body, but it would quicken it with the breath of the Almighty and secure its continuance and its beneficent and successful operation.

 We have not, we grant, defended the political toleration of different religions on infidel or even Protestant principles. It would have been idle to have done so; for everybody knows that those principles are not ours, and cannot be unless we give up our religion. We cannot place the sects on a footing of perfect equality with the church and defend their freedom on the same ground that we do hers, because error can never exist by the same right that truth exists. The popular ground of defending the toleration of all religions by the state is the assumption of their equal right before God. This ground cannot be held by a Catholic; and if we had assumed it, and on the strength of it asserted that Catholic states are bound to maintain universal toleration, who would have had any confidence in our sincerity, or not have supposed that our assertion was made merely for the purpose of escaping the odium of appearing to oppose the toleration by Catholic states of heretical or schismatical religions now, when toleration is popular, and we stand in need of it for ourselves? Every intelligent Protestant or unbeliever, with the history of the middle ages before his eyes, would have said, “Yes, these Catholics here in this country, where they are weak, are exceedingly liberal and preach universal toleration; but let them become strong, let them once get the political power, and we shall quickly see that they are as intolerant in the political order as they are confessedly in the spiritual order.” We Catholics must never forget that Protestants and unbelievers have a theory, to which they are wedded, that we are all ready to lie and swear to anything for the sake of Catholicity, and that we can go so far as to profess indifferentism, infidelity, or even Puritanism if we think we can thereby promote the interests of our church. Our assertions count for nothing with them. We are, in their estimation, fools when honest and knaves when intelligent. Externally considered, it is evidently for our interest here in this country, and, indeed, in many other countries at the present time, to preach toleration; and they suppose interest governs us as it does them, and therefore they place no confidence in our preaching unless we show clearly and undeniably that it is in harmony with the principles of our church where she is strong as well as where she is apparently weak.

 We have therefore defended the political toleration of the sects as a Catholic statesman, on strictly Catholic principles, without the least compromise- without descending for a moment from the high ground of the infallibility and immutability of our church- without blinking or hesitating to justify, in its fullest extent, the political intolerance manifested by Catholic states to infidelity, heresy, and schism in past times. We have shown that not mere policy, but the very principles of our holy religion require us now- on the supposition that modern unbelievers, heretics, and schismatics are civilized and no longer barbarians or addicted to barbarous practices- to assert and maintain as broad a toleration as our American constitution guaranties; that they forbid the punishment by the civil authority of sins against God, however great, when not incompatible with the peace and welfare of society; and that the church can of herself inflict only spiritual punishments, and no greater spiritual punishment than excommunication. If this does not satisfy, it is not our fault nor that of our church. (Vol. 10, pp. 235-238).


The Church in the Dark Ages


 The assumption that the church reigned quietly and peacefully during the middle ages is warranted by no authority and is contradicted by the whole history of the period. That period extends from the beginning of the sixth century to the close of the fifteenth. A simple glance at its history will suffice to dissipate the illusion that the middle ages were all the work of the church or that she worked throughout them comparatively at her ease. Those ages open with the destruction of the western Roman empire and the permanent settlement of the northern barbarians on its ruins. For all western Europe the old Graeco-Roman civilization is destroyed, save the wrecks preserved by the church and some few towns in Italy and Gaul. The old cultivated populations are in great measure exterminated, and the few that survive have been plundered, impoverished, and for the most part reduced to slavery. Over the vast extent of the one flourishing, wealthy, and highly civilized and Christianized provinces of the empire you see nothing but ruined cities, deserted towns and villages, large tracts of once cultivated land becoming wild, a thin population composed of miserable, trembling slaves and rude, ignorant, proud, arrogant, and merciless barbarian masters. The churches and religious houses have been demolished or plundered; the schools and institutions of learning, so numerous and so richly endowed under the empire, have disappeared; the liberal arts are despised and neglected; the domestic arts, except a few, are lost or forgotten; war, pillage, general insecurity, misery, want, have loosened all moral restraints, unchained the passions, and given free scope to vice and crime; the clergy are few, poor, illiterate, for their conquerors, as subsequently in Ireland, have left them no means of education; and besides, they belong for the most part to the conquered races and therefore despised. The barbarian conquerors and masters, moreover, are not all even nominally Catholic. Many of them are Arians; more of them are pagans, still adoring their old Scandinavian and Teutonic deities and looking with proud disdain on the Christians’ faith and the Christians’ worship. An Arian kingdom has been erected in northern Africa, another is establishing itself in northern Italy; what is now Switzerland and eastern France was subject to the part heretical, part pagan, but wholly savage Burgundians; in the rest of France there are portions of the old Gallo-Roman population that have not yet received the faith, and portions of the old Celtic population who in their dense forests still cherish their ancient Druidism; the barbarian kingdom in Spain has but recently and imperfectly yielded to Catholicity; the British churches have lost their vigor and are confined to the narrow district of Wales, and through all the rest of Britain paganism is rampant and the altars smoke with sacrifices to Woden and Thor. Ireland alone at this period is a Catholic oasis in the immense desert of heresy and barbarian infidelity. Belgium in part, all Germany, all northern and all eastern Europe above the Byzantine empire, are one unbroken Cimmeria of heathenism; and even Rome herself is not all Catholic or even all Christian. Such is a bird’s-eye view of what is now the most civilized and the ruling part of the globe at the opening of the middle ages; and such, after having once Christianized the empire, was the new world committed to the charge of the church. Far more disheartening were her prospects than when she concealed herself in the catacombs, or bled under Nero, Decius, Maximian, and Diocletian; and far more laborious was the task now before her than that which she had accomplished in passing from that “upper room” in Jerusalem to the throne of the Caesars.

 Nor was it only at the beginning of the middle ages that the church found herself in face of a hostile world. The hostility continued till the close of the period, and even then did not cease, but broke out under a new form, that of Protestantism, with undiminished virulence. It was in the middle ages, we must remember, that Mahometanism sprang up in the desert, and, breaking forth with wild and ferocious fanaticism, for eight hundred years devastated the fairest and most fertile regions of the earth; that the Iconoclasts persecuted the church and sought to prepare it for Islam; the Greek schism originated and was consummated; the Huns made their new invasion from the East; the Saracens ravaged the south of Italy and France and established themselves in Spain; the fierce and shaggy Norsemen came down from the frozen North, with their wild courage, their savage cruelty, and their Scandinavian superstitions; the dissolute Albigenses renewed the heresy of Manes and perpetrated their horrors; the Beghards, Wicliffites, followers of the Evangile Eternel, and other sectaries, arose, and by their pantheistic and socialistic movements and insurrections in England, France, and the Low Countires preluded not unworthily the pantheistic and socialistic revolutions which we have seen during the last year convulse all Europe and threaten the destruction of all law, all order, all society, both civil and religious. Add to these great facts, the deplorable effects of which are still widely and deeply felt, that during these same ages there was scarcely a moment of peace between the civil and the ecclesiastical powers. The civil authority never ceased to encroach on the spiritual, and the church was obliged to maintain a constant and severe struggle to prevent herself from being swamped, so to speak, by the state, as the schismatical and heretical churches of England, Russia, Scandinavia, and northern Germany have been and now are. In order to protect society and herself against armed heathenism, Mahometanism, and barbarism, the church was obliged to revive, or suffer to be revived, in Charlemagne, the western Roman empire, before Europe was prepared for it; and ever after she was but too happy when in his successors she did not find, instead of a protector, a cruel, oppressive, and sacrilegious spoiler. It is easy now to say that the revival of the empire was premature and bad policy; but it was the best thing possible at the time, or, if it was not, it was inevitable so far as the church was concerned, and she could not have prevented it if she had tried. Pious as Charlemagne was, he never suffered religion to interfere with his ambition or the church to stand in the way of realizing his projects of temporal aggrandizement. The empire once reestablished, barbaric as it necessarily was, a formidable schism between the temporal authority and the spiritual commenced which continued to widen as long as the empire existed. Rarely was there a “Kaiser” of “the Holy Roman Empire,” from Charlemagne to Charles V, that respected the freedom of the church, that allowed her to exercise her spiritual discipline without his interference, that permitted her without restraint to manage her own affairs, or that did not wage open or secret war against her. Rarely did the church, in her struggles for religious liberty against the temporal powers, come off victorious; never was she able, through the whole period of the middle ages, to gain, and never yet has she gained, in even a single Catholic state, the freedom and independence she enjoys here in these United States, which is all she asks and all she has ever struggled for. The very instance of Philip the Fair of France insulting Boniface VIII and successfully braving his authority cited…to prove the “enormous power of the popes,” is a striking proof of their weakness and of how completely they lay at the mercy of the crowned despots and tyrants. The sainted Hildebrand, the seventh Gregory, one of the most powerful of the successors of St. Peter, was driven from his throne by the temporal authority and died in exile. We all know that the rivalries and machinations of the temporal powers effected and sustained the great and scandalous schism of the West, which the church could never have survived if she had not been upheld by the arm of the Almighty. It is all a delusion, the notion which some seem to cherish, that the church met no resistance in the middle ages, and that emperors, kings, princes, and nobles demeaned themselves as her obedient sons. Their submission was the exception, not the rule, and their protection of the church was seldom anything but a pretext for enslaving her. They seem never to have responded to her call to execute the sentences she pronounced, unless it suited their humor, flattered their ambition, or promised them some temporal aggrandizement. They seldom heeded her spiritual censures or her excommunications if they persuaded themselves that they could guard against their evil temporal consequences; and it was rare, indeed, that a prince, even excommunicated and deposed, could not command the support of his army, of the greater part of his own subjects, and even of the national clergy. Godfrey of Bouillon, subsequently to pious Crusader, fights for Henry of Germany after the pope has deposed him, against his competitor Rudolph, sustained by the church. If the barons of England desert John Lackland, it is for reasons of their own, not because he is under excommunication; and a few years after they can conspire against him at Runnymede, under the lead of Archbishop Langton, in defiance of the excommunication pronounced by the pope against them.

 Nothing is more evident to every one who has studied them without being captivated by their romance or blinded by his hatred of Catholicity, than that the church was by no means the only force at work in the middle ages, and that she was far enough from being able to carry out into practical life all her own views and of having everything to her own liking. She had by no means “a thousand years of almost triumphant ascendancy for the full trial of experiments,” as our Unitarian friend rashly asserts. She was resisted on every side; her rights were perpetually invaded; her authority was continually braved; her discipline was seldom suffered to have free course; her clergy, when they did not add the feudal to their ecclesiastical character and become princes and barons as well as priests, were treated by the representatives of the barbarian conquerors with contumely and contempt; and her doctrines, her precepts, her admonitions, were scorned or set at naught by the great whenever it suited their humor or their passions. The church became the possessor of great riches, it is true; but her wealth bore witness full as much to the vices, the crimes, and the disorders as to the piety and zeal of the times, and, moreover, she possessed them in no small part simply in her accidental character of the public almoner. The donations and bequests she received were not seldom made by a tardy and doubtful repentance, in the hope, we fear often vain, of purchasing repose for the soul of a sinner whose life had been spent in breaking every precept of the Decalogue. The “baron bold” of romantic poetry was not infrequently a bold blasphemer, a dissolute and sacrilegious wretch, an oppressor of his people, measuring his rights only by his might. We are not insensible to the charms which romance lends to the middle ages or to the golden hues which a rich and fervid imagination spreads over them when contemplating them at a distance or in the brilliant lamplight; but whoever has ventured to look at them stripped of all the deceptive coloring of his own fancy, in their nakedness, as they actually were, will quickly dismiss the pleasing illusion that they were in any peculiar sense “ages of faith,” or that it is from them that we are to form any adequate notions of what are really Mores Catholici, or Catholic morals and manners. Not in them, indeed, had our mother the fair field and the fitting opportunity to realize her idea of Catholic secular life. Faith there was, and piety, and charity, and heroic sanctity, such as has never been surpassed, and the blessed fruits of which we and all modern civilized nations are now reaping; but, alas! Something else was there too- something which did not proceed from the church, which she did not sanction, which she never ceased to oppose, but which resisted all her supernatural efforts and continued to exist in spite of her.

 Undoubtedly it will not answer to recognize in modern society only the human element, and to attempt to explain all its phenomena from the point of view of simple human activity. In no age, certainly in no age since the advent of our Lord, is it true to say that all in human history is the product of man alone. The Christian religion, the Catholic Church, has placed in the modern world a divine element, supernatural in its source, in its principle, in the mode of its operation, and in its effects. This element was in the middle ages, represented there by the Catholic Church; and all the phenomena or historical facts of those, as of all other ages, which proceeded from her or have received her sanction, we as Catholics are bound to maintain and are ready to maintain against all challengers to be just, right, pure, holy, and salutary to the life of society and of the individual soul. But if we are bound to recognize the part of the church, we are equally bound to recognize the part of man. Because we recognize the church in the dark ages, it must not be supposed that we recognize only her and hold her, or concede that she is to be held, responsible for all the phenomena we meet in their history. She never subsists alone, and neither in society nor in the individual, in professedly Catholic states nor in professedly Catholic men, is she the only efficient cause or operative force. In the individual believer human nature remains after regeneration; the flesh survives and as long as we live lusteth against the spirit, making the Christian’s life, whatever its interior peace or consolation, one unremitting warfare, from which there is no escape. This, since true of the individual, must also be true of society. In every society, large or small, by the side of the church subsists fallen human nature, with its evil concupiscence,  its groveling propensities, its disorderly affections, its fierce and ungovernable passions. It will answer to overlook the facts which have their origin in this source, nor will it answer to charge them to the account of the church. Both elements coexist, both have their respective phenomena which are intermingled and grow together in history, as grow together the wheat and the tares in the same field. In forming our judgment we must discriminate between them; and if we do this and assign to each element its own phenomena or the class of facts of which it is the principle, we shall have no difficulty in granting all that the most unscrupulous of the enemies of Catholicity allege against the middle ages themselves, and yet maintaining the claims of the church as the infallible church of God. (Vol. 10, pp. 244-250.)


Catholics Indifferent to Medieval History


 We may, perhaps, find here one of the reasons why Catholics who have from earliest infancy been reared in the bosom of the church appear so indifferent to medieval history and show so little solicitude to prove that on its secular side it was not as dark and forbidding as Protestants heretofore have been accustomed to represent it. They have, in fact, no special interest in vindicating it. They seek their Lord, not in the dead past, but in the living present- in the church that is and is to be until the consummation of the world unvaried and invariable; and they may well leave the history of their antiquity, save so far as necessary to repel charges preferred against the church, to those outside of her communion. Hence the attempted rehabilitation of medieval society in our days is the works of Protestants; the romantic school is of Protestant-German origin; the greater part of the recent historical works, many of them really able and learned, which have refuted the stale charges against the popes and the church in the middle ages are nearly all from Protestant, at least uncatholic, authors; and the mania which rages for reviving medieval arts, tastes, usages, and institutions chiefly affects Oxford men and their friends, disturbing the equilibrium of comparatively few Catholics. It is an admirable economy that they who see that their church is a mere corpse should seek to dress her in the robes of the past instead of those of the present. It spares the living and does no harm to the dead. Indeed, we are expecting the assailants of the church to shift, ere long, their position, and to attempt to rob her of the glory of having subdued the barbarians and founded modern civilization, by stoutly maintaining that their were no barbarians to subdue; that the Goths, Vandals, Huns, Franks, Burgundians, Longobards, etc., were highly cultivated and polished tribes, far in advance of the degenerate races they invaded and supplanted; that the middle ages were admirable for their successful and complete realization of the loftiest and most perfect civilization; and that we poor Romanists fail to be Catholic because we fail to be sufficiently medieval! We are looking for books and pamphlets intended to prove that the grand error of the popes, their grand apostasy, which caused and justified the reformation, consisted in their regarding the invaders and destroyers of the Roman empire as barbarians, in resisting their advanced civilization and laboring to impose upon them the inferior and effete civilization of Greece and Rome. Nay, we already see evident indications that we are soon to be subjected to this new line of attack; and in more than one Puseyite publication we detect the germs of the view we here suggest, and which the romanticists seem to us to be pledged by their fundamental principles to develop and mature. (Vol. 10, pp. 254, 255)


The Humanists and Romanticists


 Under many relations we believe that after the tenth century to the middle of the fourteenth the middle ages were far superior to the present, though not under the relations of civilization properly so called. But what they are principally lauded for by our sentimentalists and romanticists is precisely that in them which was the least in accordance with Catholicity and genuine civilization; for it is what proceeded from their barbaric, not from either their Christian or their Greco-Roman elements. The revival of letters in the fifteenth century- that century of wonderful activity and enterprise- was a great event, and its bearing on human culture has hardly ever been overestimated; but it came in a shape hostile to the schoolmen and of old Greco-Roman gentilism. The humanists of the fifteen and sixteenth centuries have produced the romanticists of the nineteenth century. They seized upon the Greco-Roman elements of modern society, sought to render them exclusive, to develop and realize them independently, on the one hand, of the church, and, on the other, of medieval barbarism, and they deprived them of life and brought forth a dead and petrified classicism, as offensive to good taste as to true piety- as incapable of aiding the growth of a truly human as of a truly Christian life. The romanticists revolted at this petrified classicism, and, already gentilized by the old humanists, had no alternative but to seek a living literature in developing the barbaric elements of the middle ages and realizing them independently of the Greek and Roman elements and also of Catholicity. This they attempted, and their success would be the restoration, not of cultivated and polished gentilism, but of rude, unpolished, barbaric heathenism, after the Teutonic and Scandinavian modes.

 We are not disposed to deny that the schoolmen were defective in taste. They wrote barbarous Latin and were seldom good Greek scholars; their humor was grotesque rather than delicate, and their jokes smacked of men who lived among themselves, remote from the great world; their forms were dry and rigid and their rules too narrow and too inelastic for the play of the free spirit and expansive genius of man. The humanists, in combating them and substituting the purer taste and the more symmetrical and graceful forms of ancient art, did a valuable service to the cause of human culture and refinement. So the romanticists, in freeing us from the fetters of a dead classicism, from the narrow and pedantic rules of men who servilely copied the exterior forms, but were incapable of producing in the free and original spirit of the ancient classics, and permitting us to move more at our ease, according to our natural dispositions, have served the cause of good literature. But their excavations of medieval romance from the tombs of centuries and their importations from the old mystic East they have enlarged our literary horizon and augmented our literary materials, for which we cheerfully render them all fitting acknowledgement. But as the humanists, along with their classicism, revived old gentile theories and speculations, by which they ruined philosophy and shook the faith of no small part of Christendom while professing to labor to confirm it, so the romanticists, to the extent of their influence, must revive the old barbaric heathenism and tend to ruin literature, art, philosophy, and through them both religion and civilization. The humanists gave us heathenism, but it was cultivated heathenism which, as to its forms, was repugnant neither to good taste nor to Christianity; the romanticists, the humanists of our time, give us heathenism to an equal extent, and what is worse, rude, uncouth, barbaric heathenism, with its grotesque images, its gigantic figures, its huge disproportioned shapes, its hideous and grinning monsters, which no Christian art can baptize, no power can lick into a Christian shape, inform with a Christian soul, or train to a civilized behavior. Do the best possible, it will always remain the man-bear of recent German romance.

 Nothing would be more amusing, if the matter were not so grave, than to see our romanticists parading the old medieval romances, chronicles, ballads, lays, and roundelays as genuine specimens of Christian literature. Indeed, the irony is too obvious to be witty. Even if sometimes the thought and sentiment happen to be Christian, the form is barbarian. The medieval romancers frequently profane Christian thoughts and expressions, as the old magicians profaned the Sacred Host in their spells; but the substance of their works is always derived from heathen sources. The troubadours of Provence are moved by their own corrupt passions and sing under Arabic, Moorish, and Manichean influences; the trouveres of Normandy, the bards of Armorica and Wales, the minnesingers of Germany, recite or sing, for the most part, the old barbaric and heathen memories and superstitions of their respective nations, which long survived and are not even yet wholly extinct in the heart of the old Celtic, Scandinavian, and Teutonic families. To call the medieval literature proceeding from these sources Christian is only to prove how far we have lost, or never received, the true conception of Christianity. In admiring such a literature, we give no evidence of a return towards Catholicity; we only show that we are doing our best to return to the state of the barbaric nations before the church had commenced the work of their conversion, and are trying to satisfy our souls with mere vagaries or to enrich ourselves with the debris of old barbaric nationalities, idolatries, and superstitions. (Vol. 10, pp. 259, 260.)


Inferiority of Medieval Men to the Ancients


 In all those lofty qualities of the civilized man, in themselves indifferent to vice or virtue, the man of medieval history appears to us far inferior to the man of Greek and Roman antiquity. Compared with the latter, he seems to us a mere dwarf, stunted and warped in his growth by a one-sided and incomplete culture. We find in the medieval man the moment he steps out of religion very little of that simplicity, naturalness, repose, sustained courage, prudent energy, sedate strength, greatness of soul, constancy of will, firmness of resolution, or force of character which so strikes and charms us in the men of classic antiquity. There is, as Gioberti- a writer whom we like for some things and dislike for many- has well suggested, a considerable distance between the men of Plutarch and Livy and the romantic heroes and lion-hearted warriors of Boiardo and Ariosto, with their mad adventure and their silly love makings.

 The causes of this inferiority of the medieval man, and perhaps equally of the man of our times, we have no space to consider now at length. The remote cause of it lies, no doubt, in the depravity of human nature, in consequence of which men will do a thousand times more to improve themselves and society for the sake of self or of worldly or human greatness than they will for the sake of God or at the command of duty. (Vol. 10, pp. 261, 262.)

 Though the remote cause is in the corruption of human nature and the fact that paganism imposed less restraint on its operations than Catholicity, the proximate cause of this inferiority is in the schism which has always existed, since the institution of the church, between the secular and the spiritual elements of society. The secular element has never been brought into harmony with the spiritual. The church could not do it at first, because the state was pagan and persecuted her; and it took her full three hundred years to convert it. But she had no sooner converted it than the barbarians began their invasion, and she had to commence her struggle against barbarism, which, in part, still continues. She has never been able to baptize secular life and to institute a culture as perfect for it as that which she has always sustained is for the religious life. The secular order has therefore, from the first, remained outside of Christianity, and the secular mind has never been informed with the Christian spirit. The spirit of all secular art, secular literature, secular science, even when cultivated by Catholics, is and always has been, from Nero to Mazzini, unchristian. This is obvious to everyone. Whenever we leave the religious order, escape its external control, and abandon ourselves instinctively to secular pursuits, or in any degree yield to the spirit of the secular order, however pure our intentions in the outset, however firm our faith, sincere and earnest our attachment to our religion, we are imperceptibly borne away in a direction hostile to Christianity, and, ere we suspect danger, are sunk in the quicksands of vice or dashed against the rocks of heresy or infidelity. We have a striking proof of this in La Mennais, another in Padre Ventura, and still another, we fear, in Gioberti- three of the greatest and, in various ways, most extraordinary men of our times. All three set out sincere, earnest, and enlightened Catholic priests, with rare philosophical genius and attainments and rarer knowledge of the spirit and tendencies of the age. La Mennais has fallen to the lowest depths; Ventura has, by his recent conduct at Rome, outraged the feelings of the whole Catholic world; and Gioberti, as his case now stands, or as it is known to us, we must regard as having betrayed his religion and forfeited all his claims upon sincere Catholics. What can more clearly prove that the secular order remains even to this day unbaptized, and that whoever follows its spirit is sure to find himself on the side against the religion of God?

 Our modern literature is all full of this schism between the two orders, and the secret of most of the movements of our times is the effort to heal it. From Pusey to Parker, Ventura to Proudhon, the Hegelians to the Fourierists and Icarians, the harmony of the two orders is the secret, in general the avowed, object. But, unhappily, nearly all efforts not only fail, but tend to widen the breach; because they are efforts to heal the schism by harmonizing the spiritual with the secular instead of the secular with the spiritual. Here is the grand difficulty. As friends of religion we are obliged to hold on, in most countries, to things as they are- to desist from efforts to effect such educational improvements and social ameliorations as are good in themselves, such as are really needed, and such as we are most anxious to effect- because we cannot, in the present state of the world, make a single move in their behalf without throwing the power into the hands of the men who would subject the spiritual order to the secular, destroy the whole influence of religion, and with it the very conditions of civilization. The certain evil that would follow would infinitely outweigh the good we could effect. (Vol. 10, pp. 263, 264.) 


The Church not Responsible for the Middle Ages


 We recognize no church of the middle ages; but the church in the middle ages, as in all ages,… we hold to be irreproachable, not, indeed, because we are a great admirer of those ages themselves, nor because we believe they were in themselves irreproachable, but because what there was in them objectionable proceeded from causes independent of the church and hostile to her, which she had no power to control and could remove only in proportion as she could induce men to become voluntarily her subjects. There were, doubtless, things which she did then that she would not do now; for the circumstances now are different and do not demand, might not even justify, them. She is in the world to bless it; and while her doctrines and principles remain eternally unvaried and invariable, she applies them with perfect freedom to the circumstances of time and place. She never permits herself to become the slave of routine or of stereotyped modes of exterior action. When society is in an exceptional state she deals with it accordingly. When it throws upon her the burden of providing for the poor, she does it in the best manner existing circumstances allow. We rejoice when we read that seventeen thousand poor were fed in one day at Cluny, and we see in the fact her maternal solicitude and forethought for even the temporal subsistence of her children; but we see no evidence in it of the perfection of the secular order of the time, and no reason for wishing to perpetuate a state of society that leaves such a number of poor daily to be fed at a single monastery. Many of the institutions which the church founded and cherished in the middle ages have passed away, or must pass away, with the social changes which are constantly taking place; but this is no cause of reproach to her or of alarm to us. Others, better adapted to the altered circumstances of new ages, she will institute in their place and gain the same ends by other means. And thus it is that while we adhere to the church in all times, and because we do so, we are free to condemn barbarism wherever we find it and to labor with all our zeal and ability for an advanced and, if possible, an ever-advancing civilization. (Vol. 10, p. 266.)


Proposed Alliance of Religion and Democracy


 We are at some loss to understand what is meant by forming an alliance between religion and liberty. To call for the forming of such an alliance seems to us simply, what is not true, that religion has heretofore been divorced from liberty, and has remained alone or formed an adulterous union with tyranny and oppression.  An alliance presupposes, also, that the allies are separate and independent powers; but we are not aware of any such power as liberty separate from religion and independent of it. Religion is the origin, ground, and condition of liberty. Where religion is, there is liberty; where religion is not, whatever of license there may be, there is not liberty and cannot be. The two are in their nature inseparable, and indistinguishable even, save as the effect is distinguishable from the cause, the property from the essence, the stream from the fountain. How, then, form an alliance between them, since they are already in their very nature so intimately united? How form an alliance between the sun and its rays or the rainbow and its tints?

 That there has been and is a party throughout most European nations clamoring for liberty as separated from religion, we are not ignorant; but they clamor for what has and can have no real existence under that sacred name. That this party has made and still makes war on the church, that it has believed and still believes, or pretends to believe, that the church is the enemy of liberty, and that to become free it is necessary to overturn the altar as well as the throne, is lamentably true; but who that loves religion and is imbued with the lessons of the gospel can advocate an alliance of the church with these, or pretend that to accept and support, not, indeed, their means, but the end they are really seeking, would be to accept and support the cause of liberty? That which the enemies of the church, the desecrators of all holy things, and the blasphemers of God clamor for is not liberty and can by no ecclesiastical alchemy be transmuted into liberty. There is with these not merely a mistake as to the means, agencies, or influences by which the end is to be gained, but a mistake as to the end itself. With what in them is religion to form an alliance? Or what energy have they from which she could profit? (Vol. 10, pp. 70, 71.)

 Where the end proposed is distinctly religious and is sought from religious motives, the church may, undoubtedly, side with those who are seeking it, bless their efforts, and make common cause with them; for their cause is hers and she does but use them for the accomplishment of her own purposes. But where the end is not itself distinctly religious and is not referred to a distinctly religious end- is not to secure the freedom and independence of the church and to enable her to pursue freely, without let or hindrance, her divine mission of teaching, saving, succoring, and solacing mankind, but to procure a merely temporal or earthly good- we see not how she can make common cause with those who are in pursuit of it without implying that heaven makes a compact with earth. The church may, and assuredly does, promote men’s earthly well-being, but never save as incidental to her promotion of their spiritual and eternal interests. The temporal follows the eternal, but does not precede it and is not sought by it. “Seek first the kingdom of God and his justice, and all these things shall be added unto you” is the principle on which the church proceeds and the invariable law which she prescribes to her children. The heavenly is gained only be being the direct and sole object of pursuit; but the earthly only by not being so sought, and, indeed, only by not being sought at all. “He that will save his life shall lose it, and he that will lose his life for my sake shall find it.” We know no exceptions to this rule.

 Now, these European populations seeking popular forms of government are not seeking these as a religious end, nor, indeed, for a religious end, but solely with a view to their own social or temporal well-being. They have not in view the interests of religion; they are not disposed to struggle for the freedom and independence of the church, or to remove a single obstacle in the way of her fulfilling in them, or for them, for her divine mission; they have in view only their own earthly interests. These they may,- in so far as they violate no law of God, omit no moral or religious duty,- no doubt, lawfully seek; but the church cannot, while they seek them only in reference to an earthly end, make common cause with them without an abandonment of her own principle of action and in some measure compromising her divine mission. Moreover, it is not a sound view to identify even civil liberty with popular forms of government. Freedom is possible under any and every form of government; and so is tyranny. Republics can tyrannize and oppress as well as monarchies, and we see among ourselves that under the most democratic institutions on earth three millions of the population out of twenty can be held in abject slavery. Wherever the government is wisely and justly administered, whatever its form, there is civil freedom, and wherever it is not so administered, there is not civil freedom; and the chances of a wise and just administration are not in proportion to the more or less popular form of the government, but to the more or less influence which religion has over the nation. Wherever the church is free and able to exert her legitimate influence, the government will be as wisely administered as with human frailty can be expected; but where she is not free, or where her influence is not exerted, there is and can be no guarantee of such administration, whatever the contrivances of statesmen or in whose hands soever may be placed the reins of government.

 As long as the European populations place their temporal well-being before their spiritual and eternal, not even the church can emancipate them and secure them the blessings of civil liberty. Political changes will prove unavailing, and the evil which is now concentrated in the court would only be diffused through the mass, and for one tyrant give a hundred. No siding with the people, no consecration of their banner and blessing of their cause, will deliver them from oppression unless they in themselves seek liberty, not for an earthly, but for a heavenly end- unless they place the church first in their affections and obedience and seek freedom for her sake in stead of their own.

 Undoubtedly if the church were to proclaim common cause with the movement for popular institutions, the great body of those who are seeking them would applaud her and rally under her banner, because they could rally under hers without deserting their own. She and they would certainly come together; not by their going to her, but by her coming to them. They would, no doubt, hail her as a welcome ally and drink many a toast to her health so long as she claimed to be only an ally; but the moment she should seek to restrain their lawlessness, to compel them to observe discipline, or claim the right to command their forces, they would raise the cry, A bas l’ Eglise! Vive la Republique! And she would find herself under the disadvantage of seeming to them to oppose the very cause she had sanctified and the very banner she had blessed. The alliance would secure her an infusion of popular energy while she obeyed the popular passion and exerted herself only to carry out the popular will, but no longer. For a moment she would seem to be strengthened by the alliance, but having by it made a concession to the people and told them that they were justifiable in their cause, she would in reality only be weakened by it.

 But it is said the populations become hostile to the church in consequence of their belief that she is unfriendly to civil liberty, and unless she espouses the cause they have so much at heart they will neither submit nor listen to her. There may be some truth in this, but we cannot accept the conclusion that therefore she must disabuse them by espousing that cause. An astute politician in old pagan times might have reasoned with equal justice: The bulk of the pagan people believe the church is opposed to what they hold to be religion and will not submit or listen to her teaching; it is necessary, therefore, that she disabuse them by offering incense to the idols. No matter whether the idol be Jupiter, Venus, or civil liberty, an alliance with its worship is alike inadmissible. It is not for those without to propose conditions to the church, nor is it for her to make concessions to them. She proposes the conditions; if we abuse our free will and reject them and destroy our own souls, the responsibility rests on us, not on her.

 It is, undoubtedly, desirable to disabuse the populations of their error, but it cannot be done in the way proposed. The church cannot, in order to disabuse them, consent to take the law from them. The policy recommended would procure, not their submission to her, but hers to them. They who submit to the church for the sake of any temporal good do not submit to her at all, nor do they become in reality any more or better Catholics than they were before. The European populations, to a considerable extent, no doubt, place the melioration of society and the establishment of political liberty before every other object. But this is a grave error on their part – an error to be corrected, not sanctioned. For the church to make common cause with them were only to confirm them in it. Nay, this very error is one of the chief obstacles to the realization of the social improvement and civil liberty they demand. Their eagerness overleaps itself and fails of its aim. The church can do nothing for them save in proportion as she is able to disabuse them of this error and bring them to place God and heaven before all things else. As long as they entertain their present false view the church cannot rely on them – cannot work with them without falling herself into error – and they are out of the condition effecting or receiving their emancipation. The church can really aid only those who love and obey her – submit themselves to her instructions and authority. (Vol. 10, pp. 72-75.)


Freedom of the Church will Secure Civil Freedom


 Finally, we cannot understand how the church can raise the banner of democracy and call upon the faithful to rally under it. She prescribes no particular form of government; in her view, all forms of government, when and where legitimately established or legally existing, are alike sacred and obligatory. She commands the administrators of governments, whether they be kings, nobles, or the people, to administer the government wisely and justly, in subjection to the law of God, for the public good. This is as far as she ever goes. How, then, can she side with the people in their movements for popular forms of government? Is she to change her policy, pursued without deviation for eighteen hundred years, and at this late day propose a particular form of government as an article of faith? Or because kings now are tyrants is she now to preach up democracy, and when democracy becomes a tyrant, to be obliged to preach up monarchy? There is in the demand, it strikes us, quite too much of short-sighted human policy, pursuing a course today which it must retrace tomorrow, or which seeks to gain a temporary object at the expense of an eternal principle.

 But if we oppose the policy which seems to us to be recommended in the oration before us, it is not because we oppose liberty or are the friends and apologists of the crowned tyrants or imbeciles of Europe. We have no sympathy with the policy of the principal European courts. That policy is opposed to the freedom and independence of the church, without which no people can be free and no government wisely and justly administered. We abhor and detest it because it is hostile to freedom of conscience and would enchain the word of God- because it would subject the spiritual to the temporal and rob almighty God of his own. Let there be a crusade preached against them in behalf of the freedom and independence of the church- let the populations be summoned to break the cords with which these infidel governments bind the Lord’s anointed, and we will be the first among the foremost to bind on the cross and march to the battle-field, to victory or immortality. In securing this, the highest of all liberties and the source and guarantee of all liberty worthy of the name, the people would be emancipated from their tyrants to the full extent compatible with human infirmity. Civil freedom would be secured for all. “If the Son make you free, you shall be free indeed.” It is, therefore, the freedom of the Son, the freedom wherewith he makes free, that we should first of all- nay, alone- seek, and all other freedom shall be added thereto. Seek God alone, and you find what you seek, and, over and above all, the good you did not seek. Give all to God and he gives all back to you a hundred fold.

 We wish the church to go as far against the governments of Europe as Padre Ventura does; but for her own emancipation, which includes every other emancipation. We would have her go, as she always does, to the extent of her power, for her own liberty; but not for liberalism, whether conspiring in secret with free-masons and carbonari, marching openly with Swiss radicals to the destruction of states and the desecration of temples, or assuming the Quaker garb of peaceful agitation. Then the end proposed would be distinctively religious, and the church might well consecrate the banner and bless the armies of the warriors enlisted; for they would be her own soldiers, her own sons, not foreign allies or mercenaries. In a work of this kind every Catholic could sympathize, and would give at least his prayers for its success.

 We admire our great and good father Pius IX, for the administrative reforms he has introduced into the immediate patrimony of St. Peter; but we admire him still more for the free, bold, and commanding attitude which he assumes before the lay lords of the earth- recalling the sainted Hildebrand, the heroic third Alexander, and the third Innocent, who made crowned heads feel and acknowledge that the church is paramount to the state, and that, when she speaks, kings, as well as the meanest of their servants, must bare the head and listen. Thanks, devout thanks, be to Almighty God, who has sent us a successor of St. Peter that brings back the heroic ages and, in the face of an infidel, and scoffing, and time-serving generation, renews the chivalry of the cross and speaks in a tone that becomes the vicegerent of God on earth! Let the faithful rally at his bidding; let them glory in his reassertion of the independence of the spiritual power, that as pontiff, as well as prince, he spurns the dictation of the Austrian, the wiles of the Gaul, and the cajoleries of the Briton; let them support him by their prayers and, if need be, by their deeds; and be assured that the tyranny that now weighs so heavily upon the European populations will be lightened, the chains which bind the souls of the toiling and starving millions will be broken, Christian civilization, so fatally interrupted by the Protestant rebellion in behalf of heathenism, will resume its march and effect for man as full a measure of earthly well-being as it can be for his interest to possess. (Vol. 10, pp. 76-78.)


The Spread of Socialism


 Nothing, to a rightly instructed mind, is more ridiculous or absurd than the infidelity which so extensively prevailed in the last century and which under another form prevails equally in this. Yet when the philosophy which necessarily implied it first made its appearance, few comparatively took the alarm, and even learned and sound churchmen were unable to persuade themselves that there was any serious danger to be apprehended. When the philosophers and literary men went further and, developing that philosophy, actually made free with the Scriptures and even the mysteries of faith, the majority of those who should have seen what was coming paid little attention to them, jested at the incipient incredulity with great good-humor, felt sure that no considerable number of persons would proceed so far as to deny not only the church, but the very existence of God, and flattered themselves that the infidelity which was manifest would prove only a temporary fashion, a momentary caprice, which would soon become weary of itself and evaporate. Nevertheless, all the while, the age was virtually infidel, and thousands of those who had persisted in believing there was no danger were themselves but shortly after driven into exile or brought to the guillotine by its representatives. The same thing occurs now in regard to socialism. The great body of those who have faith and sound principles look upon it as the dream of a few isolated individuals, as undeserving a moment’s attention, and think it a waste of time and breath even to caution the public against it. Yet in one form or another it has already taken possession of the age, has armed itself for battle, made the streets of Paris, Berlin, Frankfort, Vienna, and other cities run with blood, is organized all through Europe and the United States; scarcely a book, a tract, or a newspaper is issued from a constantly teeming press that does not favor it, and there is scarcely any thing else going that can raise a shout of applause from the people; and yet we are told, even by grave men, that it is a matter which need excite no apprehension. (Vol. 10, pp. 81, 82.)


The Remedy for Socialism


 The only possible remedy is not declamation against the horrible results, the pernicious conclusions, at which the popular mind arrives- the resource of weak men- but the correction of the popular premises and recalling the people to sound first principles. Once concede that even political equality is a good, an object worth seeking, you must concede that social equality is also a good; and social equality is necessarily the annihilation of religion, government, property, and family. The same principle which would justify the Moderate Republicans of France in dethroning the king would justify M. Proudhon in making war on property, declaring every rich man a robber, and seeking to exterminate the bourgeoisie, as these have already exterminated the nobility. There is no stopping-place between legitimacy- whether monarchical or republican legitimacy- and the most ultra socialism. Once in the career of political reform- we say political, administrative, reform- we are pledged to pursue it to its last results. We are miserable cowards, or worse, if we shrink from the legitimate deductions from our own premises. There is not a meaner sin than the sin of inconsequence- a sin against our own rational nature which distinguishes us from the mere animal world. If we adopt the socialistic principles we must go on with the socialists in their career of destruction; nay, we shall be compelled to do so or strew the battle-field with our dead bodies. If we recoil from the socialistic conclusions we must reexamine our own premises and reject distinctly, unreservedly, and heroically every socialistic principle we may have unwittingly adopted, every socialistic tendency we may have unintentionally cherished.

 The people, it is well known, do not discriminate, do not perceive, until it is too late, the real nature and tendency of their principles. They mix up truth and falsehood, and can hardly ever be made to distinguish the one from the other. They adopt principles which appear to them sound and wholesome, and which under a certain aspect are so, and, unconscious of aiming at what is destructive, they place no confidence in any who tell them they expose themselves to danger. They see no connection between the principles and the conclusions against which we warn them, and which they at present, as well as we, perhaps view with horror; they therefore conclude that the connection we assert is purely imaginary, that we ourselves are deceived or have some sinister purpose in asserting it; that we are wedded to the past, in love with old abuses, because, perhaps, we profit or hope to profit from them; that we do not understand our age, are narrow and contracted in our views, with no love or respect for the poorest and most numerous class. In a word, they set us down as rank conservatives or aristocrats. No age ever comprehends itself, and the people, following its dominant spirit, can never give an account of their own principles. They never trace them out to their last results, and are unable to follow the chain of reasoning by which horrible consequences are linked to premises which appear to them innocent. They never see whither they are going. (Vol. 10, pp. 85, 86.)


Socialism Assumes the Christian Garb


 Veiling itself under Christian forms, attempting to distinguish between Christianity and the church, claiming for itself the authority and immense popularity of the Gospel, denouncing Christianity in the name of Christianity, discarding the Bible in the name of the Bible, and defying God in the name of God, socialism conceals from the undiscriminating multitude its true character, and, appealing to the dominant sentiment of the age and to some of our strongest natural inclinations and passions, it asserts itself with terrific power and rolls on in its career of devastation and death with a force that human beings, in themselves, are impotent to resist. Men are assimilated to it by all the power of their own nature and by all their reverence for religion. Their very faith and charity are perverted, and their noblest sympathies and most sublime hopes are made subservient to their basest passions and their most groveling propensities. Here is the secret of the strength of socialism, and here is the principal source of its danger.

 The open denial of Christianity is not now to be dreaded; the incredulity of the last century is now in bad taste and can work only under disguise. All the particular heresies which human pride or human perversity could invent are now effete or unfashionable. Every article in the creed has been successively denied, and the work of denial can go no further. The attempt to found a new sect on the denial of any particular article of faith would now only cover its authors with ridicule. The age laughs at Protestantism and scorns sectarism. The spirit that works in the children of disobedience must, therefore, affect to be Christian, more Christian than Christianity itself, and not only Christian, but Catholic. It can manifest itself now and gain friends only by acknowledging the church and all Catholic symbols, and substituting for the divine and heavenly sense in which they have hitherto been understood a human and earthly sense. Hence the religious character which socialism attempts to wear. It rejects in name no Catholic symbol; it only rejects the Catholic sense. If it finds fault with the actual church, it is because she is not truly Catholic, does not understand herself, does not comprehend the sense of her own doctrines, fails to seize and expound the true Christian idea as it lay in the mind of Jesus and as this enlightened age is prepared to receive it. The Christian symbol needs a new and more Catholic interpretation, adapted to our stage in universal progress. Where the old interpretation uses the words God, church, and heaven, you must understand humanity, society, and earth; you will then have the true Christian idea and bring the Gospel down to the order of nature and within the scope of human reason. But while you put the human and earthly sense upon the old Catholic words, be careful and retain the words themselves. By taking care to do this you can secure the support of the adherents of Christianity, who, if they meet their old, familiar terms, will not miss their old, familiar ideas; and thus you will be able to reconcile the old Catholic world and the new, and to go on with humanity in her triumphant progress through the ages.

 Since it professes to be Christian and really denies the faith, socialism is a heresy; and since by its interpretation it eviscerates the Catholic system of its entire meaning, it is the resume of all the particular heresies which ever have been or ever can be. The ingenuity of men, aided by the great enemy of souls, can invent no further heresy. All possible heresies are summed up and actualized in one universal heresy, on which the age is proceeding with all possible haste to erect a counterfeit Catholicity for the reception and worship of Antichrist as soon as he shall appear in person. (Vol. 10, pp. 92-95.)


The Essence of Socialism


 What we have said will suffice to show the subtle and dangerous character of socialism, and how, although the majority may recoil from it at present, if logically drawn out by its bolder and more consistent advocates, the age may never the less be really and thoroughly socialistic. We know that the age seeks with all its energy, as the greatest want of mankind, political and social reforms. Of this there is and can be no doubt. Analyze these reforms and the principles and motives which lead to them, which induce the people in our days to struggle for them, and you will find at the bottom of them all the assumption that our good lies in the natural order and is not attainable by individual effort. All we see, all we hear, all we read, from whatever quarter it comes, serves to prove that this is the deep and settled conviction of the age. If it were not, these revolutions in France, Italy, Germany, and elsewhere would have no meaning, no principle, no aim, and would be as insignificant as drunken rows in the streets of our cities.

 But the essence of socialism is in this very assumption that our good lies in the natural order and is unattainable by individual effort. Socialism bids us follow nature, instead of saying, with the Gospel, Resist nature. Placing our good in the natural order, it necessarily restricts it to temporal goods, the only good the order of nature can give. For it, then, evil is to want temporal goods and good is to possess them. But in this sense evil is not remediable or good attainable by individual effort. We depend on nature, which may resist us, and on the conduct of others, which escapes our control. Hence the necessity of social organization, in order to harmonize the interests of all with the interest of each, and to enable each by the union of all to compel nature to yield him up the good she has in store for him. But all men are equal before God, and, since he is just, he is equal in regard to all. Then all have equal rights- an equal right to exemption from evil and an equal right to the possession of good. Hence the social organization must be such as to avert equal evil from all and to secure to each an equal share of temporal goods. Here is socialism in a nut-shell, following as a strictly logical consequence from the principles or assumptions which the age adopts and on which it every where acts. The systems drawn out by Owen, Fourier, Saint-Simon, Cabet, Proudhon, or others, are mere attempts to realize socialism, and may or may not be ridiculous and absurd; but that is nothing to the purpose if you concede their principle. These men have done the best they could, and you have no right to censure them as long as you agree with them in principle, unless you propose something better. (Vol. 10, pp. 94, 95.)


Only Christianity Can Remove Evils


 Now, we agree with La Mennais that Christianity has a political and social character, and with the editor of the Boston Quarterly Review that Christianity seeks the good of man in this life as well as in the life to come. We say with all our heart, “On the earth was he [Our Lord] to found a new order of things, to bring round the blissful ages, and to give to renovated man a foretaste of heaven. It was here the millions were to be blessed with a heaven, as well as hereafter.” No doubt of it. But in the new order and by it – not out of it and independently of it the millions are, to say the least, no better off than if it did not exist, and have no right to any portion of its blessings. The socialists, when they attempt to press Christianity into their service, are bad logicians. They are right when they tell us that our Lord came to found a new order of things, for he certainly did come for that purpose; they are right when they tell us that it is Christian to seek a heaven on earth for the millions, for there is a Christian heaven here for all men if they choose to accept it; but when they say this they are bound to add that this heaven is in the new order established, and is to be sought in and by obedience to its principles. It is Christian to seek that order of happiness which Christianity proposes, by the means which it prescribes; but to seek another order of happiness, and by other means, is not therefore necessarily Christian and may even be antichristian. Here is the point they overlook and which vitiates all their reasoning.

 Let no one say that we allege that man must forego any good while in this world in order to gain heaven hereafter. It would be no great hardship, even if it were so; but our God deals much more liberally with us, and requires us to give up, in order to secure heaven hereafter, only what makes our misery here. The socialist in right in saying that there is good for us even in this world; his error lies in placing that good in the natural order and in making it unattainable by individual effort. Our good lies not in the natural order, but in the supernatural order – in that new order which our Lord came to establish. In that order there is all the good we can conceive, and attainable by simple voluntary efforts. Out of that order there is no good attainable either by the efforts of individuals or by association, because out of it there is no good at all. Temporal goods, giving to the term the fullest possible sense, are not good, and, fought for themselves, are productive only of evil. Here is the first error of the socialists. No evil is removable, no good is attainable, as long as any earthly or merely natural end is held to be, for its own sake, a legitimate object of pursuit. There is and can be good for no one, here or hereafter, save in seeking exclusively the end for which Almighty God has intended us, and by the means and in the way he himself has appointed. Now, this end is neither in this world nor of this world, neither in nature nor of nature, and therefore can be gained, can be promoted, by no natural effort, by no natural means – neither by political changes nor by social changes, neither by political democracy nor by social democracy. These things have and can have no necessary connection with it. It is a mistake, then, to regard them, in themselves, as ever in any degree desirable. (Vol. 10, pp. 96, 97.)


Socialism Destroys



 The socialists are right when they say that the Christian law is the law of liberty, but not therefore necessarily right when they term the movements of the people for what they call liberty Christian movements, originating in Christian principle. Undoubtedly the Christian law is the law of liberty. Our Savior came to free us from bondage, and whom he makes free is free indeed. In the order he establishes, our highest good, our only good, whether for time or eternity, is entirely independent of the world. Nothing in the universe can hinder us, against our will, from attaining to it. We have only to will it and it is ours, and we are always and everywhere free to will. No one depends on nature or other men for the power to fulfill his destiny, to gain the end for which he was intended. Here is the Christian doctrine of liberty, the glorious liberty which our religion reveals and which we know by divine faith is no deception. But the liberty the socialists commend, and which the people are seeking, is not Christian liberty, for it is not liberty at all. Socialism, by its very principle, enslaves us to nature and society and subjects us to all the fluctuations of time and sense. According to it man can attain to true good, can gain the end for which he was made, only in a certain political and social order, which it depends on the millions whom the individual cannot control, to construct, and which, when constructed, may prove to be inconvenient and inadequate and require to be pulled down and built up again. The individual, it teaches us, can make no advance towards his destiny but in proportion as he secures the cooperation of his race. All men must be brought down or brought up to the same level before he can go to the end for which his God made him; each man’s true good is unattainable till all men are prepared to take “a pull, a strong pull, a long pull, and a pull all together,” to attain theirs! This is slavery, not liberty. Nay, it denies the possibility of liberty and makes slavery the necessary condition of all men. Is not he a slave who is chained to nature for his good, or to a social organization which does not exist and which depends on the wisdom, the folly, the passions or instincts, the whims or caprices of other men to create or to destroy? Who can deny it? He only is free, he only knows what freedom is, who tramples the world beneath his feet, who is independent of all the accidents of time and space, of all created beings, and who has but to will and all heaven is his, and remains his, though the entire universe fall in ruins around him. (Vol. 10, pp. 97, 98.)


How Far Christianity Removes Evils


 Of course we do not pretend that by conforming to the Christian order the political and social equality contended for will be obtained; we do not pretend that there will be no more pain, no more sorrow, no more poverty, no more hunger or thirst. These things will remain, no doubt, as facts; but we have shown that they are not necessarily evils and that their removal is not necessarily a good. These things have their uses in this world or they would not be suffered to exist. To the just they are mercies, salutary penance, or occasions of merit – purging the soul from the stains of past transgressions or giving it an occasion to rise to higher sanctity and a higher reward. To the sinner they may be the occasion of evil; but, if so, only because he does not receive them in a proper disposition and because by his malice he refuses to profit by them. But even to him they are no more hurtful than their opposites – often not so hurtful. By conforming to the Christian order, all so-called temporal evils, in so far as evil, are removed, and all so-called temporal goods, in so far as good, are secured; and this is all that can be asked. (Vol. 10, p. 102.)