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The Church Above the State

[From Brownson’s Quarterly Review for July, 1873]
We have seldom read a pastoral with more satisfaction than this of the right reverend bishop of Cleveland for the last Lent. It is brief, but it is bold and energetic, straightforward and earnest. The venerable prelate evidently knows what he means, and he says it without circumlocution or reticence. A portion of it is of a local character, but a large part of it, though intended for and adapted to his own diocese, is applicable to every other diocese in the country. We cannot deny ourselves the honor of making an extract of some length:-

"Though much has been done, much remains to be done: enemies are everywhere. Resistance to law is the order of the day; revolution is triumphant; and under the guise of progress, infidelity and disobedience is the religion of the hour. Liberty, which now means license, disorder, robbery, is in every one’s mouth, whilst God and truth are forgotten. The Holy Father is prisoner, the church persecuted and robbed, and her authority defied. Society is fast accepting the old pagan doctrine, that the individual is for the state, not the state for the individual. Under the specious plan of zeal for education, unless we make a bold stand for our rights, we shall soon see the child taken from the parent, and compulsory education inaugurated. Few believe and still fewer care for religion. The church cries aloud her warning note, but nobody listens; whilst the devil goes on sowing the seeds of ruin. We must be up and doing, and, shoulder to shoulder, meet the enemy. Never was there a time when Catholics needed unity more, or when they had a more dangerous enemy to meet; dangerous, because he comes as an angel of light.

"If we will hold our own among this universal war that is going on, we must be more united. There must be less petty jealousies amongst us, nationalities must be made subordinate to religion, and we must learn that we are Catholics first, and citizens next. Catholicity does not bring us in conflict with the state, yet it teaches that God is above man, and the church above the state. To the church as the representative of God, we owe a spiritual allegiance, yet, in all that does not conflict with the law of God, we owe an unequalled obedience to the state.

"The question of the day is no longer Catholicity and Protestantism; but Catholicity and nationalism or infidelity, which, under the cry of education, carries on the war. Educate the man and you will make him good, say the reformers. True; but the word educate, has two meanings. In man there are two powers to direct; the mind and the heart. Forgetting that if you educate the head and forget about the heart, you have but half performed your task, and that, without religion, man cannot be moral. The modern would-be educators give indeed men intellectual power, but leave them without the moral training necessary to use it. Smartness to them is everything; goodness nothing. When you have developed the intellectual powers, you have put into the hands of man a dangerous weapon, much like a locomotive on a railroad. The machinery is powerful, the boiler is strong, and the steam at the proper gauge, and men exclaim, what power! This is what the education of the intellect gives- power; power for evil, power for good; power to destroy, as well as to save. Like the locomotive that genius has created, education gives power, but cannot give skill to guide, any more than genius that may create, can, without experience, guide the power it has created. Who would trust himself aboard a railroad car without a skilled hand to guide the power that is to draw it? Yet, to guide the human mind, the most powerful and intricate of all machines, men insist that skill is not needed, and that this machine can be run without a guide.

"Now what is this guide? Religion, says the Catholic Church; religion, says experience; and religion, begin to say the wiser men of the age. The Greeks and Romans were highly educated, but they were not moral: what of morality they had, came from their religion. Pagan though they were, they made religion part of their education; and the better to impress the laws of their gods upon the citizen, they united priest and emperor in the Caesar.

"At present we have nothing to hope from the state. Yet we must not therefore cease to insist upon our rights, and, if needs be, at the polls demand them. Were Catholics alive and united on the school question; were they to demand from every man who asks their vote, a pledge that he would vote for our just share of the school fund, legislators would learn to respect the Catholic vote, and give us our just rights. Catholics are too timid; they seem to go upon the principle that if they are tolerated, they are doing well. This is a mistake; if we let our rights go by default, we should not wonder if we lose them. We must be decided in our demands, and present a boulder front to our enemies. It is unjust so to organize the public schools that we cannot in conscience send our children to them, and then tax us for their support. As well create a state church, and tax us for its support."

There is nothing novel or in itself startling in the assertion that "God is above man and the church above the state," but it requires some courage on the part of a Catholic bishop in these times to proclaim it; for it is precisely what the age denies, and what exposes the church just now to a bitter persecution throughout Europe, and excites no little hostility to her even in our own boasted land of equal rights and religious liberty. The great controversy of the day turns on this very point. Gallicans, Old Catholics, liberal Catholics, Protestants, Jews, infidels, all unite in more or less distinctly declaring, at least by implication, that in the government of this world God is not above man, nor the church above the state. All those Catholics, and we meet them everywhere, who are accustomed to say, "My religion has nothing to do with my politics; I respect the priest in his place, but if he comes out of it, I treat him as I would any other man," and who, of course, claim for themselves the right to define what is the priest’s place and to keep him in it, practically deny it, as do all those Catholics who form secret societies, associations, and combinations, for national objects, based on principles that contradict the principles of their faith as Christians, or seek to accomplish them, by means religion forbids. All these, though they may not be aware of it, place a pretended patriotism above the Christian law, the state above the church, and therefore man above God.

All Protestants place the state above the church, for it is of the essence of Protestantism to subordinate the church to the state, or national authority,- to subject the divine to the human, that is, God to man. It was for this the so-called reformation was made, and the Protestant movement is cherished solely as a movement in behalf of what its adherents call the liberty of mankind. That is, simply and honestly stated, because it tends to liberate man from the authority of God and the pope his representative, or vicar on earth, and to make the human supreme, as expressed by the phrase, private judgment. Protestants, if in words they assert that God is above man, in reality and intention exclude him from all authority in the government, as we have said, of this world. They reject the church, his representative or his kingdom on the earth, and deny all access to him in order to hear his oracles, or to receive his commands. Infidels are in this question like Protestants, only a little more open, frank, and less hypocritical and evasive. This is one side in the controversy of the age, and the side opposed to the side taken by the bishop of Cleveland, and by all his brother bishops, to the side taken by the pope their chief, and therefore to the side of God, the universal and sovereign Lord.

Does any one doubt the nature of the controversy? Let him read, then, the following article from the National Zeitung of Berlin, in which Prince Von Bismarck outlined his recent speech in the Prussian house of lords, against the independence of the church. We have the speech itself before us, but this extract is equally authentic, and more outspoken, and less diplomatic:-


"If curse and ban possessed an immediate magical agency- if the conjuror of the Vatican could let fly the little stone that would smash the Colossus- the oppressed church would change itself into a triumphal one, and that in the proximate future. Never have more objurgations fallen from the lips of any pope than from those of Pius IX. There is no state with which he has not fallen out. He has solemnly cursed the fundamental laws of Germany, of Austria, of Italy; he has commenced open war with Switzerland; he conspires against the constitution at present obtaining in France; his anathema has fallen upon Spanish arrangements; several years have elapsed since he expelled the Russian envoy with violence from his court: such matters, even in papal history, are not by way of being rarities- at least during the last three centuries. The understanding must accommodate itself to many incomprehensible things; but hitherto, when the church’s need has risen to its maximum point through the vagaries of a pope, help has always been hard at hand. The savior death has appeared and has bundled off the old conjuror; and, inspired by the Holy Ghost, the conclave has raised to the seat of the apostle-prince a man diametrically opposite principles. . . . Do not those words exactly fit the present condition of the world? Not the temporality, but the church itself is fallen, through syllabus and dogma of infallibility, into a far worse and more dangerous position than under the pontificate of the thirteenth Clement. It was, considering the psychic temper(Geistesstimmung) of the age, the most fatal of all the Roman stupidities to insist upon the proclamation of these theories. It was a matter of absolute indifference what the church thought about them; we, who do not belong to her, were insulted by the impertinence with which an old and, according to our notions, ignorant man dared publicly and solemnly, in the paragraphs of his syllabus, to curse that which we esteemed holy, and to assume to himself, in the paragraphs of his fantastical dogma, a lordship over us. Wordiness, culture, the state itself, were challenged with an intrepidity only equaled by the blindness of the ringleader; not we evoked the calamity. When the opponents of infallibility, those eighty-four men who had in all preliminary meetings declared themselves against the proclamation of the dogma, quitted Rome before the decisive vote of the council, abandoning their flag in the most cowardly manner, the bark of Christ sprang an irreparable leak, and it was plainly manifest that those who sat in it were no martyrs, but hirelings; then society, half incredulous, saw with astonishment and horror that in the general council of Catholic Christendom there was not one conscientious man to stand up and say, ‘Here I stand; I can do no other; God help me further. Amen!’ This fact condemned the Catholic hierarchy. The infallible Pope Pius IX was, in 1849, the ideal of the Italian liberals whom today he curses. The transformation which the world then hoped for at the hands of the Roman Catholic Church, already cast widely before it its majestic shadow. Wherefore secede from a church which intends to make its peace with modern culture and society? so said quiet, thoughtful people- and remained. The syllabus, the ‘non possumus,’ and the infallibility dogma were necessary to prove that between modern society and Rome nothing real or durable can exist except war. Roman Catholicism is being surely driven to take up that position which, 1,500 years ago, perishing heathendom occupied with regard to ambitious Christendom. It is the religion of the uneducated. . . .So long as Rome could dispose of the secular arm in her service, and the night of ignorance beshrouded the world, her mastery was easy. No intelligence was required to burn dissidents. The conflict in which we ate now engaging in Germany derives the desperation of its character only from the fact that the state has too long favored and furthered the aggressions of the church. . . .The liberals overestimate the strength of their adversary. In the end this battle must become a battle of intelligence; and upon that territory the Jesuits, ghostly as well as worldly, with all their dogmas and the miracles of the saints to boot, cannot but quickly come to grief."

This, though only an abstract, is clear and distinct enough to the animus and views of the German chancellor, and the pretensions of the secular party. The blasphemies against the vicar of Christ sufficiently prove that it is written on the assumption that the state is above the church, and that Prince von Bismarck, who has merited the title "prince of this world,"

evidently adopts as his fixed policy, that of suffering no authority, not even spiritual, to subsist in Germany not subject to the state or the national will. Grant that the pope has broken, or has difficulties, with all the governments the National Zeitung names, whose is the fault? In the first place, let it be understood that the pope does not deal in curses, and has not as yet placed a single kingdom, empire, state, or nation under the ban of the church, not even the so-called kingdom of Italy, nor excommunicated, eo nomine, a single prince or ruler. In the second place, the difficulties that exist between the pope and the several secular governments have been caused by their acts, not by his. In every instance they have been the aggressors, and he has acted only on the defensive, in defense of the divine rights of the church, and rights acknowledged and guaranteed to her by these governments in the concordats agreed on between them and the pope, her supreme chief. The pope has done nothing that he has not the right to do, even by the acknowledgement of the state itself, if it holds itself bound by the concordats to which it has assented and pledged its faith; nor which it was not his duty to do as chief of the church, or kingdom of God on earth, if the spiritual power is, by its own nature, above the secular. Because the pope protests against the breach of faith on the part of the secular governments, they have no right to lay the blame on him, and accuse him of their own perfidiousness, or of breaking the peace, which they themselves by their own perfidy have broken. Yet this is precisely what the article does, and what the secular power in Germany, Austria, Switzerland, Italy, and Spain, persists in doing.

We honor the noble bishop of Cleveland for his bold and unequivocal assertion of the Catholic principle, the basis of all right, of all ethics, of all law, of all liberty, and of all civilization, and the condemnation of all tyranny, despotism, barbarism, that God is above man, and the church above the state. Not many years ago the Review incurred great odium, in high Catholic quarters, for asserting and defending, in its war against political atheism, the same principle and its necessary corollaries. From our entrance into the Catholic Church, or at least very soon after, we saw, as clearly as it is now seen, that the great enemy which we had as a Catholic reviewer to fight, was political atheism, or statolatry, as some of our French writers called it. We found bishops and priests, who believed the pope, loquens ex cathedra, to be infallible in faith and morals, and yet made no bones of swallowing the first three of the four Gallican articles. Since Bossuet and Louis Quatorze, or rather the minister Colbert, the Prince von Bismarck of France in the seventeenth century, there has been down to our day, great caution and hesitancy in asserting the papal power, or in asserting the supremacy of the church as the kingdom of God on earth, the kingdom of Him who has engraven on his thigh, KING OF KINGS AND LORD OF LORDS. It has been forgotten, or judged imprudent to assert, that the church was founded expressly for maintaining the divine government on earth for all men and nations. It seemed to the wise and prudent hardly safe to assert the supremacy of the spiritual over the temporal, and therefore of Peter over Caesar.

The result in this case, as in that of papal infallibility, has been to confirm us in the conclusion, that the faithful should at least be taught their religion in its full strength and that, just in proportion as we withhold or slur over the points supposed to be the most offensive to the secular powers, do we weaken the faithful, and prepare the world to gain terrible victories over them. There is no gainsaying the fact that for two centuries the majority of Catholics have been prepared, neither by instruction in the principles of their faith, nor by the Catholic opinion of Catholics nations, to meet, without a fearful loss, such a conflict as the present between the two powers, or between the church and the world. It is useless to look back; but this lesson we think is forced upon us for the future, that the highest prudence is courage and unwavering confidence in truth, or courage in teaching the faithful the full supremacy of the church, as it was asserted by the Gregorys, the Innocents, the Bonifaces, and other great mediaeval popes. We do not say that, in the altered state of the world, the pope should attempt to exercise in the same way the same spiritual authority over professedly Catholic sovereigns that these great and glorious pontiffs exercised; but we do contend that the faithful should understand that the power they claimed and exercised is inherent in the sovereign pontiff, who is the judge of the time, manner, and conditions of its exercise. The power has not lapsed.

We are claiming here no temporal power for the pope, and never have claimed any temporal power for him out of his own temporal principality, of which he has been despoiled. The power we claim for him is not the power which he formerly held as feudal suzerain of various European states, nor the power he sometimes exercised as the chosen or recognized arbitrator in disputes between sovereigns, or between sovereigns and their subjects, though a wiser and more impartial arbitrator could not be selected; but a purely spiritual power, which he holds as vicar of Jesus Christ, or divinely appointed and assisted head of the kingdom of God on earth. We recognize the distinction the two orders, spiritual and temporal, but not as two coordinate and mutually independent powers. The state has no superior in its own order, but its own order is inferior and subordinate to the spiritual order, that is, to the church, or kingdom of God on earth. The state is subject to the law of God; and so long as it obeys that law, declared and applied by the infallible chief of the spiritual power, the church does not interfere with it, or censure its enactments or administration. The pope speaks only when that law is violated and the rights of God are usurped, and he speaks then, not by reason of the temporality, but by reason of the spirituality, and judges "not the fief, but the sin." At least, so says the great pontiff Innocent III, in his letter to Philip Augustus. Sin in all cases comes within the jurisdiction of the spiritual authority, and all enactments or acts of a sovereign prince or state, forbidden by the law of God, are sins, and therefore, as such, are cognizable by the pope. It is only for such acts, that is, sins against God, that the pope admonishes a sovereign, and, if need be, punishes him.

That the pope has, as vicar of Christ, what is called the deposing power, we hold to be indubitable; but the conditions of its exercise hardly exist in the present state of the world; and we do not see how the pope could exercise it, were he, as he is not, disposed to revive it. He could not exercise it in a country like ours, for there is in such a country no one to depose. He might, indeed, lay the republic under an interdict, but that would only punish Catholics; non-Catholics would not heed it, or suffer any deprivation in consequence. The power can have practical effect only in a Catholic nation, where the prince professes, and is bound to profess and maintain, the Catholic religion to which the civil law is held to conform. For the pope to depose the infidel or heretical sovereign of a heretical or an infidel nation, deprive him of his dignity, and absolve his subjects from their allegiance, would avail nothing. Neither the sovereign nor his subjects would heed the papal deposition. The power can be exercised only in Catholic nations whose governments are Catholic and form constituent parts of Christendom; and, strictly speaking, there is no longer a Christendom, and there are now no Catholic states or governments. The pope deposed Elizabeth, the bastard daughter of Henry VIII, and absolved her subjects from their allegiance, because she was a member of the Catholic Church and had been crowned as a Catholic sovereign; but the English Catholics were more English than Catholic, and chose to fight for the queen who deprived them of every one of their rights and sent them to Tyburn to be hung, drawn, and quartered for their religion, rather than to join the pope in recovering their own freedom and that of their religion. Yet the pope never absolves Catholics in heretical or infidel nations, under heretical or infidel princes, from their allegiance, for he never absolved them from their allegiance to the pagan Caesars; he simply commands them not to do any thing the law of God forbids, and to submit without a murmur to the injustice they are obliged to suffer in consequence, and to look for their reward to their heavenly Father. No, you must bring back a state of things similar to that which existed in the middle ages, or the power in question must lie in abeyance.

The bishop of Cleveland calls upon the Catholics of his diocese to be united and to insist on their rights at the polls, and, as far as in their power, to defend them by their votes. Nothing is more just than that Catholics should do so, or than that they should refuse to vote for any man who will not pledge himself to use all his influence, if elected, against the law, for instance, which taxes Catholics for the support of schools which their church condemns, and to which they cannot, without violating their conscience, send their children. The state might as well tax them for the support of a religion they abhor. Such a law denies the freedom of religion, violates the equal rights of citizens before the state, and is manifestly unjust and unconstitutional. But whether we can do any thing to redress the wrong by our votes, is another question. Catholics outnumber any one of the sects in the Union, but they are a feeble minority as against all combined. If we enter as a Catholic party into the elections, we can effect any thing only where the parties are so equally divided that we hold the balance between them, and it becomes an object of importance with each to secure our votes. Such a state of parties exist at present in no state of the Union; and if it did, on political questions, the two leading parties would unite to oppose and defeat Catholics on the school question. The right reverend bishop will permit us to doubt the efficacy, at present, of the policy he recommends. The old party, founded by Jefferson, Madison, and Monroe, and which had some respect for equal rights and religious liberty, although it had not much religion, is virtually defunct; and we know no party at present in the country that has in its principles or measures the slightest regard for equal rights, or the faintest conception of what liberty in any proper sense of the word really means. It is useless to shut our eyes to this fact. We count for less in elections than we did a dozen years ago, when our numbers were fewer.

The party now in power represents fairly enough the dominant tone and sentiment of the country, and is a decidedly anti-Catholic party. It is ruled by General Grant; and General Grant, without a spark of religion, and eaten up by nepotism, is ruled chiefly by the Methodists, the most unprincipled, unscrupulous, and bitterly anti-Catholic sect to which Protestantism has ever given birth. All the evangelical sects, so called, are allied with it, and, so far as Catholics and Catholic rights are concerned, form with it but one body. The only sect in the country, that to some extent stand aloof from the allegiance are the Baptists, who have not absolutely forgotten the religious liberty they asserted when they were persecuted by the "Standing Order," or Congregationalists of New England. With all deference, then, we must say that we do not see any chance to obtain, through any possible political action, the rights guaranteed to us in nearly every state in the Union. We are in fact politically null, and cannot help ourselves. It is enough to know that we, as Catholics, oppose a measure or policy, to fasten it on the country. Protestants will even make large sacrifices of their own possessions, out of hatred to Catholics and fear of the pope. Even Catholics, if elected to office, are less able to serve our interests than are fair-minded Protestants, for they are pretty sure, in the first place, to be liberal Catholics who place their politics before their religion; and, in the second place, if not, they are afraid, as well as unable, to defend boldly and energetically Catholic rights, because they do not represent Catholic constituencies, have been elected, not for their Catholicity, but in spite of it, and have an overwhelming and unsympathizing majority against them. We may by too faint-hearted, but we confess that we see little for us to do but to insist on our rights in the most energetic terms we can use, to study to keep our religion, as far as possible, out of the political arena, and to be careful to provoke no political contests in which parties will divide as Catholics and Protestants,- submit to the wrongs we are unable to redress, and wait patiently till, in God’s own time, the people turn once more to the church, and beg and implore her to save them from themselves, from the anarchy and despotism to which in their blind folly they are hastening.

But, however this may be, there can be no question that, as the bishop says, the war waging is between the church and political atheism. We asserted and endeavored to show it in the revolutionary epoch of 1848, and even at an earlier date; but we could make but a very few of our Catholic friends see it, and found still fewer of them willing to accept the line on which we proposed to fight out the battle. We saw then and we see now no ground on which we could or can successfully combat political atheism, but that of the supremacy of the spiritual order, and of the pope as its divinely constituted representative, or vicar of Christ, in the government of human affairs. So we assured those of our Catholic brethren who disapproved our course as imprudent, as too bold and hazardous, and as going too far. The opposition was too strong for us, layman as it were, to insist, and we withdrew from the fight. But we retained our conviction, and the syllabus and the definitions of the Council of the Vatican have only served to confirm it, and to give us the right and the courage to renew the fight on the line which our friends, not our enemies, induced us to suspend. Yet if we were right in the position we took up, the credit is due not to us, to our learning, ability, wisdom, or sagacity, but to the late bishop of Boston, of immortal memory, who was our instructor; and to the learned, able, and energetic priests who surrounded him, and who took unwearied pains to instruct us in the principles as well as the specific dogmas of the Catholic faith.

The germ of political atheism was already concealed in the four articles of the Gallican clergy,- especially in the denial that the power of the keys extends to kings, save as simply private individuals. For this withdrew their crowns, their official conduct, and therefore, in principle, the whole civil authority, the state and all its acts, from the supervision and authority of the spiritual order, and therefore from the sovereignty of God; which is precisely what we understand by political atheism. The Gallican theory, always the theory of courts and courtiers, and in recent times of the larger portion of the lay community, whether professedly Catholic or non-Catholic, is based on the assumption of an original dualism, that the natural law and the revealed law are two distinct, coordinate, and mutually independent laws, founding two distinct and independent orders. It assumes that the state holds from the natural law, and is supreme in the natural order, therefore in all questions touching natural society and natural morality; and that the church holds from the revealed law, and is supreme only in matters appertaining to the revealed order, or the mysteries and dogmas of faith, and the sacraments and their administration. But as that which is natural is prior to that which is spiritual, the state is prior to the church, it defines for itself and for her the extent and limits of each, and therefore determines the sphere of the church’s free and independent action- and, in practice, restricts her sphere to another world and forbids her to meddle with the affairs of this world, as we see in the acts of Cavour and his successors in the Italian government. The law of nature being understood to be independent of the revealed law, it required very little refinement to assert, first in the practice and then in the theory, that the state, holding under it, is independent of the spiritual order, then not subject to the dominion of Christ, and therefore not subject to the dominion of God: which is downright political atheism.

Concede the Gallican dualism, as we were required to do, and we know no method by which political atheism can be logically refuted. But the assumption of that dualism is the virtual denial of Christianity, not less so than the assumption of the Magian and Manichean dualism, revived in Calvinism, which makes evil positive, and therefore must assign it a positive principle opposed to the principle of good. The natural law and the revealed are distinguished, we grant, yet not as two separate and mutually independent laws, but as two parts or sections of one and the same divine law; and hence we find in the syllabus, as already intimated, that the total separation of church and state, and their mutual independence as coordinate powers, is condemned, and can be held by no Catholic. The natural law, as far as it goes, is as strictly and as truly the law of God as is the revealed law, which if called the new law, it is only in relation to the Mosaic law, but is really older than that law, as St. Paul to the Galatians assures us, for it was the law from the beginning, in reference to which man was originally created. The natural law is called natural, not because enjoined by nature and not immediately by God himself, for nature being creature and dependent cannot legislate, except by a figure of speech; but because it includes those prescriptions of the universal law of God which are cognizable by natural reason. The works of God form a dialectic whole, and the natural law or the moral law is only the initial section of the one divine law, which finds its fulfillment in regeneration and glorification, as we showed in our article on Synthetic Theology. We shall not find this grand principle brought out in our text-books of moral philosophy, for they treat only of the rational order, and for the most part treat of it as if it were an independent order without any dialectic relation to the revealed and palingenesiac orders, or the ultimate end of man. It is only in the theologians, who treat philosophy and theology in their ultimate principles and mutual relation as forming in the mind and creative act of God one uniform and dialectic whole, that we find it set forth, and are enabled to apprehend something of the grandeur, the majesty, the glory, and the sublime logic of creation and the Creator’s design.

The natural law and the revealed law are not two laws, but two parts of one and the same divine law, the one law of the kingdom of God, and law alike for the temporal and the spiritual, for kings and subjects, states and individuals, and in every sphere and department of life. This one law, whether in the rational order or in the supra-rational, as we understand Catholic teaching, is deposited by our Lord with his church, of which the successor of Peter in the see of Rome is the supreme visible head, commissioned by him and assisted by the Holy Ghost to be its guardian, keeper, interpreter, and supreme judge for all men and nations in all their relations. This is so, or Catholicity is false and without meaning; and Catholicity cannot be false or without meaning, unless downright atheism be true, and the fool says truly in his heart, "God is not." This gives the death-blow to political atheism, the independence of the political order, or its freedom from subjection to the spiritual order, represented by the pope as vicar of Christ. Politics are only a branch of ethics; ethics depend on the moral law, of which, as of the revealed law, the pope is the guardian and judge; and hence the Council of the Vatican declares him supreme and infallible in morals no less than in faith. This is the only possible remedy for political atheism, for it makes the pope supreme under the natural law, from which the state holds, as well as under the revealed law, and subjects to his authority as vicar of Christ the whole moral order, as well as the Christian dogmas and sacraments; and while it gives him no direct power in temporal affairs, it gives him supreme authority to judge of the morality of the acts of temporal princes and governments, as well as of the acts of private individuals, and to subject them to such ecclesiastical discipline as he judges proper or necessary. The evil has originated, so far as Catholic nations are concerned, in the assumption of a natural moral order that is not within the jurisdiction of the vicar of Christ, and in regarding kings and princes, states and empires, as independent of the papal authority. If we do not misapprehend the syllabus, and the reach of the decrees of the Council of the Vatican touching the papal supremacy and infallibility, this opinion, which has become so widespread, and done so much harm to religion and society, can no longer be held by any Catholic. A remedy, then, is now applied, and the Gallican dualism and political atheism are henceforth to be treated as formal, as they always have been material heresies.

The war is now really between the church and atheism. The real enemy to be combated today is not heresy, is not rationalism even, but downright atheism, the denial of the divine dominion or sovereignty, which is as rank atheism as the denial of the divine being. Prince von Bismarck, in his persecution of the church, represents the atheistic spirit of the age, the spirit which meets us in some of its forms in the greater part of the literary and scientific works that issue from the non-Catholic press, in the popular journalism of all nations even when it affects to be Christian, in the Internationale and all other associations and movements for social reform, ostensibly for philanthropic ends. The archbishop of Westminster has shown it in his noble lectures on the "Four Great Evils of the Day;" the energetic bishop of Cleveland understands and denounces it, and so we suppose, since the Vatican Council at least, do all our bishops and priests, though many of them may be so engrossed with the pressing local affairs of their own dioceses or parishes, that they have little time or thought to devote to its consideration. But it is pressing home upon Catholics everywhere, and must soon become for all of them, and even for non-Catholics, the great absorbing question.

The National Zeitung, of Berlin, says, as cited above: "In the end this battle must become a battle of intelligence, and upon that territory the Jesuits, ghostly or worldly, with all their dogmas, and the miracles of the saints to boot, will come to grief." Passing over the sneer at the Jesuits, and the miracles of the saints, we agree with Bismarck, that the battle will not only become in the end, but is already, the battle of intelligence, or between intelligence and ignorance, though if he supposes the intelligence is on his side, he is woefully mistaken. Protestants and infidels pretend that they are the enlightened portion of mankind, and represent the intelligence of the race. No stronger proof of their ignorance could be given, than this very pretension. We know something of Protestant and infidel intelligence, and were, when we were of them, up to their general level, nay, it is no boast to say, we were in their advanced ranks; and yet, when we became a Catholic, and had opened to us some glimpses of Catholic intelligence, we were appalled at our previous ignorance. The Catholic child that knows his catechism has a higher, broader, and deeper intelligence, than is dreamed of by the most intellectual and highly cultivated infidel or Protestant philosopher. The whole Protestant and infidel intelligence, science, and learning might be extinguished, and the world suffers no loss.

This proud and conceited non-Catholic world may have made some supposed useful applications of scientific principles, discovered by Catholics, or at least, by persons trained in Catholic schools or under Catholic influences; but they have shed on every important subject they have handled, darkness, not light. Their science is a sham, their learning is untrustworthy, their histories are a tissue of lies, and their morality, when not cant and hypocrisy, is borrowed from the sty of Epicurus. Under their influence, society has lost the conception of the spiritual order; has lost its faith in God and providence, abolished the law of nations, and sapped the foundation of liberty and authority, rejected the very bases of civilization and social progress, resolved right into expediency, justice into force; and torn by ceaseless revolutions, and alternating between despotism and anarchy, society is once again on the high road to barbarism. They the enlightened portion of mankind, and they superior in intelligence to Catholics? Bah! Tell that to the marines.