"Lamennais and Gregory XVI," Brownson's Quarterly Review, 1859

Lamennais and Gregry XVI, Brownson's Quarterly Review for July, 1859


            A learned theologian and a highly esteemed correspondent, has sent us a copy of this work, published many years ago, and called our attention especially to the Encyclical Letter, Mirari, of Gregory XVI, dated August 15, 1832, inserted among the pieces justificatives, and setting forth the Catholic doctrine on the main points in which it had been departed from by Lamennais and his disciples in their manner of defending religious and political liberty in France.  Our correspondent tells us that he has his misgivings, although he does not feel quite certain, that we have failed to keep our Review in strict harmony with the doctrine of the Encyclical, and he wishes us to examine the question and see if such be really the fact.  He writes us in no captious or censorious spirit, but as a real friend, and as a priest earnestly devoted to Catholic truth.  We thank him for his kindness, and we have endeavored to follow out his suggestion.

            We have been engaged with pretty much the same questions which were raised and discussed by Lamennais and his associates in France, some thirty years ago, and have no doubt had the same general end in view, and we can well understand that we may have seemed to many at first sight to be defending the same general doctrines on liberty and the relations of the Church to the State.  We have had, at times, we confess, our own misgivings on some points, and our fears that we might not be steering clear of all the errors branded by the Encyclical of the Pope.  To err is human, and the truth and error on some points run so close together, and look so nearly the same, that the wisest and best of men are not, without supernatural assistance, always sure of not mistaking the one for the other.  We may have fallen into error on some points, we may have used language which is too strong or inexact, but this much we are certain, we have aimed to be orthodox, and we shall never persist in an error when once it is pointed out to us.  Truth is the only reality, the only good, and we cannot understand why anyone should wish something else than truth, or that truth should be something else than it is.  As St. Augustine says, err we may, a heretic we will never be.  But we studied carefully this Encyclical when it was first published, before we even dreamed of becoming a Catholic, and we have since constantly had it before our eyes in all we have written on the subject on which it sets forth the Catholic doctrine.  We have examined and reexamined again and again our views in light of its teaching, and we are unable to discover any instance in which we have really departed from it, or fallen into an error it condemns.

            The fall of the unhappy Lamennais may well be held up as a warning to all over-zealous and headstrong individuals who have theories or crotchets of their own for advancing Catholic interests; but, though wholly inexcusable on his part, it may, perhaps, be urged with no less propriety as a warning to those who are more ready to pounce upon a writer for his errors than to help him to discover the truth that would correct them.  We cannot help thinking, that, I they who with so much zeal denounced the unhappy Abbe, had taken, in a spirit of charity and candor, half as much pains to help him understand the truth he had in view, but which he saw only dimly or fitfully, as they did to prove him in the wrong and the advocate of monstrous errors, he might have been saved.  Certainly, his philosophical system was unsound, but his opponents in France combatted it with a system about equally unsound.  His doctrine that Christianity is the only religion there is, or ever has been, and that it is the universal belief of the race, has its side of truth, which it will not do to overlook, and can no more be unreservedly condemned than it can be unreservedly accepted.  In opposing it his adversaries did not take the requisite pains to recognize its side of the truth, and distinguish it from its side of error.  God revealed to man the truth in the beginning, and in that primitive revelation, the tradition of which has never been wholly lost with any nation or tribe, however obscured, mutilated, corrupted, or travestied it may have become, is the type of all the religious which have ever obtained,- the type realized, aimed at, or departed from.  All error has, in a certain sense its origin in the truth, which it misconceives, misinterprets, or misapplies.  The grossest and most abominable superstitions of the heathen started from a true principle, and rightly considered bear testimony to the primitive revelation.  The greater the truth perverted, the greater and more destructive the error that results; the holier the principle, the grosser and more abominable is its corruption, or the superstition generated by its corruption.  That the gods of the heathen were devils or fallen angels, no Chrisitan can doubt, and yet we have just as little doubt that the tradition of the true God was never absolutely lost among any people, or that the worship of devils grew out of the perversion of the true doctrine of good and bad angels, and of the true worship of the saints, though not without Satanic aid.  Did Lamennais mean anything more than this?  Could he have meant that men continued to worship the true God while they worshipped idols?  Or that the worship they gave to their false gods was really the worship of saints and angels, the Catholic Cultus Sanctorum?  We believe no such thing.

            The gravest error of Lamennais was in identifying Christianity with the general or universal reason, and making the common consent of the race the authority for doctrine and faith.  But even this has a side of truth.  The tradition of the primitive revelation is, in some form, universal, and enters into the common reason of the race.  With Christians this is still more true, and this internal tradition, if we may so call it, common to all men, and especially to all Christians, is, in some sense, authority for doctrine and faith, and, perhaps, an authority not always duly respected.  The error is not in recognizing it, but in substituting it for the positive authority of the Church.  All the Church teaches is not, save in germ, in that common reason, and it is only her positive teaching that brings out what is in it and supplies its deficiencies.  In dealing with Lamennais, his adversaries should have begun by first of all recognizing the side of truth he had and distinguishing it from the error, so as to enable him to see how he could reject the error without at the same time rejecting the truth.  Perhaps one of the most fatal errors we can commit, is to assume that a man we see advocating an error has set out deliberately to defend a false doctrine, and that he defends it for the sake of error.  It is never for the sake of error, but always for the sake of the truth mingled with it and in his mind not distinguished from it, that he defends.  How else can St. Thomas be right when he says, truth is the object of the intellect, and that the intellect can never be false?  A man may persist in an error, after it has been pointed out to him, because he may have that false pride which forbids him to own that he has been in the wrong; but ordinarily he persists only, because he does not see how he can reject the error without rejecting the truth he has associated with it.  This, we think, was the case with Lamennais.  There were certain things true and good, which he saw and insisted upon, and which it seemed to him his French adversaries required him to reject, and finding, as he imagined, that they were sustained by the Pope, he came, after a severe struggle, to the conclusion that there is no infallible guide for mortals, and no Church but the people.  This was a conclusion of despair, not of reason.  We have no disposition to excuse or palliate it; but it is, perhaps, permitted us to believe, that, if his French adversaries had themselves had more light and more charity, and had opposed him with more judgment and less passion, he might have escaped the complete shipwreck of his faith.  It is hard to believe that with such a man as Lamennais is driven to despair and through despair to arrange himself on the side of the enemies of religion, all the error is on his side, or that his case is less instructive to his violent opponents than to his headstrong followers.  There may be a lack of charity and humility on the side of the defenders of Orthodoxy, as well as pride and arrogance on the side of those who depart from it.

            These remarks, of course, apply in no sense whatever to the Encyclical of Gregory XVI, which sets forth the Catholic doctrine on the several matters touched upon.  The Pope does not name Lamennais and his disciples, and nowhere formally confirms the censure pronounced by the French Bishops; in fact, makes no allusion to it whatever.  That censure deserves respectful consideration, but it can be no means be regarded as the judgment of the Church, and it is not improbable that, if Lamennais had been more moderate in his language towards the Episcopacy, and had agreed with the French Bishops in his politics, they would have been less keenly alive to his philosophical and theological errors.  French Bishops, or a certain number of them affecting to speak for the body, have too frequently been affected by panics, and too often proved themselves ready to sink the Bishop in the Courtier, to be able to give their censure that weight it might otherwise possess.  We should have no special misgivings, though falling under their condemnation, if properly assured that we were in harmony with Catholic doctrine, as declared by the Sovereign Pontiff.  We hold the Encyclical to be an infallible exposition of Catholic doctrine in relation to the errors it censures, and we accept it purely and simply, whither the matter censured is theological or political; for though we maintain the freedom and independence of the secular in its own order, we do not recognize in it any rights against the spiritual.

            Lamenais and his disciples avowed that they aimed at a thorough restoration or regeneration of Catholicity, and more unusually called by those outside Neo-Catholics.  If they meant what they said, they were simply absurd.  “Since, in the words of the Fathers of Trent, it is certain,” says the Encyclical, “that the Church has been instructed by Jesus Christ and his Apostles, and is taught by the Holy Ghost, who never ceases to suggest to her the truth, it is wholly absurd and supremely injurious to her purpose her restoration or regeneration as necessary to her preservation and growth, as that would be to judge her liable to failure, obscuration, and other inconveniences of this sort. The object of the innovators in this respect is to lay the foundation of a human institution, and to make the Church, instead of a divine, a human Church, the thing which St. Cyprian held in horror.”  But though the Church can never fail, grow old, or be obscured, and therefore stand in need of restoration, or regeneration, we cannot say the same of nominally Catholic population.  Nothing is more unwise or unjust than to pretend that the conduct of all Catholics is Catholic; for nothing is more certain than that a Catholic population is a particular time or place may forget it high calling, become cold and dead, with their minds darkened by false or defective philosophical or political systems, and their hearts hardened by love of the world and devotion to sensible goods.  They may, and often do, fall below their religion, and have only a name to live; and consequently a regeneration, a restoration, or resuscitation of Catholic life, manners, affections, conduct, may often be a desideratum, and legitimately labored for, as we find in the Lives of all great saints who have founded orders or congregations for the salvation of our neighbor.  Did Lamennais and his friends really mean any more than this?

            It is too much the custom to say the Church has done what has been done only to Catholics, to say the Church has done this or has done that, when it has been done only by Churchmen, and even by these only when acting not as Churchmen, but as politicians, as ministers of State, or as simple seculars.  Confounding these with the Church, we make her responsible for their conduct, and then contend that she has fallen, become corrupt, or obscured, and needs renewal, reform, restoration, or regeneration.  This mode of speaking was very common in the Mennesian school, and it is universal with non-Catholics, who have no Church conception, and hold that the Universal Church, as we not long since heard even a Catholic Archbishop assert in a sermon, is simply “the aggregation of individual believers.”  The mystic character of the Church and her relation to the Incarnation, is too often overlooked even by Catholics, and the word church is often used with an inexcusable looseness, in a manner that excludes both unity and catholicity.  We were present at the gathering of a few Catholic friends, and heard two priests, both of unquestionable orthodoxy, maintain that the Church would have here a new field for the display of her powers, and in this new world would realize a new Catholicity, when all they really meant was that here, under her fostering care, would be developed a new civilization more strictly in accord with Catholic principles than any that has hitherto existed.  This may or may not be so, but there is nothing uncatholic in hoping or believing that it will be so.  We can easily conceive that the Church has encountered obstacles in the political and social organization of other countries, the despotism of princes, the pride and oppressiveness of privileged classes, the ignorance, degradation, and slavery of the people, that she will not find here; and that if we can succeed in preventing what is objectionable in Europeanism from gaining a footing along with the Church, there will be developed here a civilization for truer to the original principles of natural society, and more in accordance with the principles and wants of supernatural society, than she has yet met or been able to develop in her passage down the stream of ages.  We ourselves believe it, hope it, and labor for it.  Hence the reason why we so often find ourselves in collision with many of our Catholic friends, who identify the civilization of Catholic countries with the Catholic religion itself, and imagine that to have Catholicity here in its full vigor, we must combine it with the secular order, the ideas, habits, and manners of old Europe.  We want nothing from Europe, but the catholic faith and what pertains to it.  We do not go to Europeans for lessons in the political and social organization of natural society, for we think in that matter we are some centuries in advance of them.  Very little of the actual civilization of Catholics nations is either of catholic origin, or favorable to the Catholic religion.  We want the Church here as she exists and has existed in Europe unmodified, unaltered; but we do not think it is uncatholic to wish for a reform, a regeneration even of very large masses of the Catholic populations of Europe and even of other quarters of the globe, not excepting North and South America.  There is room for the great improvement in their morals, in their life, their manners, their habits, and their secular notions and tendencies; and we think a good Catholic may labor for that improvement without necessarily falling into any error condemned by Gregory XVI, or by any other successor of St. Peter.

            Lamennais and his disciples, simple presbyters of laymen, labored to effect important changes in the relations hitherto subsisting in nearly all Catholic countries between the Church and the State.  They called upon the Church to cut herself loose from all connection with the State, to fall back on her own resources as the kingdom of God on earth; and to rely on the affections and voluntary contributions of the faithful, as she did universally before Constantine, and as she does now in Great Britain, Ireland, and the United States.  We do not find that the Holy Father disapproved this in principle, and we have been assured that when he sent the late Bishop England to Haiti to settle the ecclesiastical affairs of that republic, he gave him instructions to place them there, if possible, on the same footing they are on in this country.  But a measure, though not wrong or undesirable in itself, may yet be objectionable, because impracticable, inopportune, or urged by those who have no right to urge it.  The Bishops did not believe the measure could be adopted in France without grave injury to the interests alike of religion and of society, and they, not simple presbyters and laymen, were the proper judges in the case.  The Pope seems to have censured the movement, chiefly because it was set on foot by persons who had no right to do it, and in opposition to the French Episcopacy.  “Let the presbyters,” he says, “be submissive to the bishops, who, as St. Jerome admonishes them, are the fathers of the soul; let them not forget that the ancient canons of the Church forbid them to perform any ministerial act, and to teach or to preach without the permission of the bishops, of whom the account of souls will be exacted.  Let them be aware, that they who plot against this order are, as far as in them lies, disturbing the state of the Church.  It is manifestly culpable and contrary to the laws of the Church, which should be respected, to find fault, from our insane license of opinion, with the discipline she has established; and which embraces the administration of sacred things, the rule of manners, and the rights of the Church and of her Minsters, to charge it with being opposed to certain principles of natural law, or to represent it as defective, incomplete, and subjected to civil authority.

            If this is to be said of presbyters, then, a fortiori of laymen.  But, we have never to our knowledge arraigned the discipline, or any portion of the discipline, of the Church as contrary to the principle of natural law, or as subjected to the civil authority; nor have we had the impudence to ask the Church to change in any respect the relations which have subsisted in most Catholic nations between her and the State.  We have undoubtedly maintained that portions of her discipline or of her canons were originally adapted to the state of things which she found existing at the time, and to govern the relations of the faithful with the temporal authorities as they were constituted; and that the changes in human affairs have rendered much of this part of her discipline inapplicable, and made changes in it necessary to meet new circumstances and new wants.  We have maintained that the relations between the Church and the State which subsist in Europe, do not subsist here, and we have expressed ourselves opposed to every effort to introduce them here: first, because such effort must prove unsuccessful, and second, because we think the interests of religion do not require, and as long as our society remains constituted as it is, cannot require them to be introduced and reestablished.  What may be called the universal discipline of the Church can never be changed, or need changing; but there is a part of her discipline, though just in principle, and while in force equally obligatory on the conscience, that does, and may change with the circumstances of time and place.  The Church in our judgment, is freer, and more independent here, than she is in any Catholic State in the world.  She is entitled here, as a citizen, to the protection of the laws from external violence, and is free to exert herself in all respects according to her own constitution and laws for the salvation of souls.  She is not recognized by our laws as a proprietor; but these laws are nevertheless such, if our bishops choose to avail themselves of them, as to secure her the use according to her own discipline of all donations, contributions or bequests of the faithful for her services or her charities, for the principle of our law is, that all eleemosynary gifts must be appropriated according to the will of the donor.  The entire liberty which the Church here enjoys more than compensates for certain privileges or favors she may have secured to her in Europe by Concordats.  She no doubts has in Austria an advantage which she lacks here, that of having the majority of the population in her communion; but in all other respects her position here is far better than it is in Austria, even under the new Concordat.  We have never pretended that the union of Church and State as it has existed in Europe is wrong; but we hold it to be impracticable and undesirable here, for we believe that where the people are prepared for it the order prevailing here is much the best for religion and society. 

            We have never urged the dissolution of the old union of Church and State.  We have treated it as un fait accompli in our own country, and as a result which is indicated by every movement and tendency of the age.  We think it is sure sooner or later to come everywhere, and we believe that in the long run, the Church has more to gain than to lose by it.  We do not seek to hasten or to retard what seems to us the inevitable tendency of events.  Certain it is, that the change could not be effected in Europe at the present moment without a violent shock, both to religion and society; and the Holy Father says only what simple reason tells every one of us, when he says, “it is not permitted to produce present evil with a view of future good.”  The terrible evils that would follow the adoption in old Catholic States of the Mennesian policy, are not doubtful; the good contemplated might fail to be obtained.  Take the Catholic states and populations as they really are on the Continent, with their constitutions, pretensions, habits, manners, ideas, and customs, and it is easy to see that the policy could not be suddenly introduced without a long series of most disastrous conflicts.  We believe the order that obtains here is the best where it exists or can be peaceably introduced.  So we believe the republican order we have established is, upon the whole, the best possible form of political and social organization; but we certainly would not urge the French people to undertake to throw overboard the Emperor, and to establish a republic modelled after ours.

            The Encyclical certainly condemns those who seek to disturb the concord between the Church and the State, and as certainly represents that concord as alike for the interests of religion and of society.  This Review has not incurred the censure here implied.  That concord is desirable for both, and still more for society than for religion.  The State hath everywhere need of the Church, and cannot discharge properly and beneficially its higher functions without her assistance.  Bu this assistance may be given in different ways according to the different forms of political and social organization adopted.  In a government where the people count for nothing, and all power is concentrated in the king or emperor, it can be rendered effectual only by real or virtual concordats with the sovereign.  It is only through the prince that the Church can reach the State, and hence for her there to cut herself loose from all connection with the State would be to abandon the State to political atheism.  But in a republic like ours no formal connection of the Church with the government is needed for either party, for she can assist the political order by her direct action on the people themselves.  The relations of Church and State under the Roman Empire are neither necessary nor practicable under a republic like ours, and would not be even if the whole population were sincerely and earnestly Catholic.  Under the empire the Church treats with the government; under a republic, where the people are the motive power, she does not need to treat with the government, for she can operate through the faithful, and assist the government by the just principles she inculcates, the lofty sentiments she inspires in them, and the supernatural virtues she requires and aids them to practice.  Establish the same general political order throughout the world that we have established, and the most desirable relations between  the Church and State will be those which subsist with us, and which are what we call religious liberty, or the full and entire freedom of religion.  As this order does not subsist in Europe, different relations and forms of concord between the two powers, for the common interests of religion and society, are there no doubt required.

            The real difficulty, however, in our times is, that the concord the Holy Father demands no longer exists.  The secular order has cut itself loose from the spiritual.  The Politicians, as they were called in the time of Henri Quatre and the Ligue, have carried the day; and the peace of Paris, 1856, has incorporated their political atheism into the public law of Europe.  The sovereigns consult no longer the interests of religion, but are governed solely by what are called reasons of state- by mere secular policy, before which all moral and religious considerations must give way.  Political atheism is now the religion of the State, and the Church cannot, whatever her wishes, maintain the concord between true religion and empire.  She may restore it, but not through the sovereigns, for even if one sovereign were well disposed and determined to reestablish it, he would find himself thwarted by the bureaucracy, or by his ambitious neighbors, who will appeal to the infidel and revolutionary sentiment of the age against him, as we see in the present war of Louis Napoleon and Victor Emmanuel against Francis Joseph.  The evil will be surmounted and concord restored only by winning back the affections of the people to the faith, and through them recalling the sovereigns to their duty.  Lamennais and his party saw this as distinctly as we see it now, and they sought to detach the Church from the sovereigns and to enlist her on the side of the people.  There is, they alleged, an alliance between the Church and the despotic governments of Europe.  The clergy, instead of standing by the people and suing their moral power on the side of popular freedom, arrange themselves on the side of popular freedom, arrange themselves on the side of the oppressors of the people, and exert all their spiritual influence to uphold despotism.  This divides Europe into two hostile camps- the people and their friends, in the one; and the clergy, the despots, and their slaves and tools, in the other.  They called upon the Church to abandon the sovereigns, and to command her faithful children to take sides with the people against them, and go forth and fight manfully the cause of freedom against despotism.  Nothing is apparently more simple or more just, since resistance to tyrants is said to be obedience to God; yet practically the matter was not so plain and simple as it appeared.  In the first place, the Church teaches her children, instead of being taught by them,  and she is herself the judge for them what is for the true interests of both natural and supernatural society.  In the next place, for her to have complied with the demand would have been for her to espouse the infidel and impious liberalism then and now rife in Europe- to turn revolutionist, preach sedition, and sanction rebellion.  This the Church could not do, and the Encyclical of course condemns the civil magistrate.  We cannot perceive that we have on this point fallen under the Papal censure.  We have opposed the alliance which some of our friends would effect between the clergy and Caesarism, and the attempt of Louis Veuillot and others to bind up the Catholic cause throughout the world  with that of the absolute sovereigns of Europe; but we have opposed with equal earnestness and perseverance the alliance of the clergy with the demagogues, and the attempt to unite the cause of Catholicity with that of European liberalism.  We gave in 1848, some of our readers may perhaps remember, as much offence by our strictures on Padre Ventura’s Funeral Oration on O’Connell as we have since given by our strictures on the Univers.  The pages of this Review, from 1847 down to 1850, bear ample testimony to our decided opposition to the alliance sought to be effected by Lamennais and his party.  We have not changed since: the question indeed has changed its aspects, but we have not changed in the slightest respect our principles or views.  In 1848, the tendency was to treat democracy as a Catholic dogma.  The danger then was all on the side of liberalism- ultra-democratic revolutionism, and we met and opposed the danger where it was; since 1851, the danger- the immediate danger we mean, has been on the side of despotism, Caesarism, and on that side we have confronted it.  There seem to be publicists who never can understand that one extreme is sure to beget another, and who always suffer themselves to be carried away by the popular passion of the moment. When that passion is for democracy, they are democrats; when it is for Caesarism, they are Caesarists.  They are always echoes or conduits of the popular passion or caprice of the moment.  The Red Republican revolutions of 1848 were very likely to provoke a reaction in favor of despotism, which, in its turn, was just as likely to provoke another reaction in favor of Red Republicanism.  We have differed from many of our friends in this, that while they have alternatively favored each extreme, we have uniformly opposed both, and done what we could to prevent the Catholic cause from being linked in the public mind with either.  It is now generally conceded that we were right in 1848, in opposing the alliance sought to be effected between the clergy and democracy, and it is beginning to be suspected that we have not been wholly wrong in refusing to hail the revival of pagan Rome under the imperial form in France as the restoration of Catholic society in Europe.  Events, against which we warned our Catholic friends seven or eight years ago, threaten now to justify our refusal.

            The man who is never carried away by the popular passion of the moment, and who steadily resists either extreme, and the extreme that for the moment is the popular one, always finds it hard to prevent his true position from being misunderstood and misrepresented.  The fact is we have never favored liberty in the sense of the Liberals, or authority in the sense of the Caesarists.  We regard the Church as a spiritual kingdom set up on earth by God himself, and we look upon her as complete in herself and sufficient for herself.   We have never therefore been able to understand her alliance neither with Liberalism nor with Despotism.  We ourselves are attached to constitutional or republican government; we believe it the best possible constitution of natural society both for its own sake and the sake of religion, but we would, if we had the power, no more commit the Church to it than we would commit her to Caesarism or to Jacobinism.  The Church is instituted for the glory of God in the salvation of souls, and may often find that she can better accomplish her mission as things are by submitting to a less favorable political order than by encouraging her children to attempt by a revolution to obtain what under other circumstances would be better.  She is the judge of what is, in any given time or place, the most for the interests of religion, and her enlightened and true friends will never attempt to embarrass her by forestalling her judgment, and linking her cause with one political organization or another, with this political party or with that.  We can never lawfully advocate one or another system of political and social organization in the name of the Church, or pretend that it is Catholic in the sense that the church must by her own principles always and everywhere command it, or as the one so bound up with her dogmas and her immutable discipline that she can acquiesce in no other, or command her children to be loyal to no other.

            We are firmly persuaded that the order we have elsewhere called the Germanic, and which with our feeble ability we defend, is more in accordance with the principles of natural society, and more favorable where it is the established order or where it can peaceably and without violence be established, to Catholic interests, to the freedom and independence of the Church, than that which has been resuscitated from pagan Rome, and which before the commencement of the present war in Italy was widely defended as a revival of Catholic society; but we have never pretended that the Church adopts it, and anathematizes the Romantic system, or that she ought to do so.  There are countries where it is impracticable.  The Church could not, had she attempted it, have introduced it into the Roman Empire before the Barbarian Conquest, and she cannot establish it now, is she would, in China, Turkey, Russia, Austria, or France.  To attempt it in any of these countries would arm the whole secular power against her, and sacrifice the existing interests of religion without gaining any thing for the people or for true freedom.  She may dislike the Romantic system as much as we do, but she must for the sake of souls deal with the authorities of those nations as de facto governments, and make the best terms with them for religion she can.  We must leave the Church free to follow the dictates of common prudence.

            The Church has to deal with the world as she finds it, and, therefore, must often acquiesce in a political regime which she is far from approving, and remind her children that it is better to be submissive to an order of things, under which, though by no means a desirable one, it is after all possible to live and to save one’s soul, than it is to attempt by violence, to overthrow it for another.  On this principle the Church often requires her children to be loyal to a government despotic in its constitution and oppressive in its conduct, and hence often has the appearance of sustaining despotism and tyranny when she in reality sympathizes only with justice and freedom.  Her mission is one of peace and love, and to fulfill it she wants peace in society, and that she cannot have without government, and there can be no permanent government where the subject is not taught to be submissive and loyal to authority.  She cannot encourage sedition, insurrection, rebellion, or revolution, since she is too conscientious to do evil that good may come, and too wise to dream of ameliorating the condition of society and promoting the interests of religion by asserting and acting on principles subversive of all society and of all religion.

            The Holy Father certainly censures the revolutionary spirit, and asserts that it is the duty of Catholics to be submissive to the existing governments as loyal subjects.  But we nowhere find that he approves the constitution or the conduct of these governments.  We cannot discover that on this head our Review has ever been in fault.  We have indicated the danger of a new revolution which the policy so warmly defended by Louis Veuillot and the party he represents, if persisted in, is sure to provoke, and we have called upon them to desist from that policy, and to cease from their insane efforts to link the cause of the Church with the Caesarism resuscitated from pagan Rome, and which should have been suffered to lie dead and buried in the grave prepared for it by the German conquerors of the Empire; but our readers, if readers we have, know perfectly well that we have never advocated revolution, or defended the right of disobedience in civil matters to the powers that be.  The duty of obedience, of loyalty to the prince, has been as strongly stated in the pages of this Review as in those of the Encyclical of Gregory XVI, and our uniform opposition to the revolutionary movements in Europe,  and the fact that we have never failed to brand sedition, insurrection, and rebellion as high crimes against society and deadly sins against God, have, we need not seek to disguise, gained us the hostility of many nominal Catholics, especially those who take an active part in politics, whose Catholicity is strangely commingled with downright revolutionism, and who not seldom are at once ultra-democrats and violent Caesarists.

             But while we deprecate revolution and hold ourselves bound in conscience to be submissive to the powers that be in all respects in which they require us to do nothing prohibited by the law of God, we are very far from feeling it incumbent on us to maintain that these powers are immaculate, and can do no wrong, or that it is forbidden us as good Catholics to point out the evils of an existing regime, or to do what we can to enlist public opinion on the side of true liberty.  The strength of despotism is in the weakness, effeminacy, corruption, ignorance, indifference, or moral cowardice of the people.  The impracticability of modifying Caesarism where it exists, is in the want of a sound public opinion against it, or in the fact that public opinion, as in France, is favorable either to it or to Jacobinism.  Correct public opinion- there are ways, if no revolutionary doctrines are broached, in which it can be done in the most despotic country where Christianity is professed,- correct public opinion, give the people, and especially the immediate leaders of the people, just views alike of authority and of liberty, and all needed changes or modifications will be gradually and peaceably effected.  This is what every publicist should aim at.  The revolutions of 1848 interrupted the steady progress of the European governments towards constitutionalism, and by compelling the friends of religion and society to assert the rights of authority and to strengthen the hands of government, prepared the way for the revival of despotism, and have thrown back the cause of liberty fifty or a hundred years.  We have lost all the advantages we had gained by the long peace, and have now all our work to do over again.  But the extravagances, the errors, the blunders, and the crimes of the revolutionists should never be suffered to drive us into Caesarism, to make us despair of society, or turn us against reasonable and orderly liberty.  We may both by prudence and religion be required at times to submit to Caesarism as a temporary necessity or as the less of two evils, yet we should never give Caesarism our approbation, or cease by every peaceable and legal means in our power to prove that we appreciate the rights of man and of society, and that we are prepared in every legal and practicable way to assert and maintain them.  The primitive Christians in civil matters obeyed the Pagan Emperors, even the most tyrannical and persecuting, but we do not find it recorded that they approved the persecution or justified the tyranny from which they and the whole Empire suffered, or that they hesitated to raise their voice, if in calm, still in strong and energetic tones, against both.  We have never complained of our friends in France, or elsewhere, for acquiescing in the revival of the Empire, and yielding a loyal obedience to Louis Napoleon as the elected Emperor of the French; we have complained of them only for having shamefully abandoned their own principles, for abusing every one of their former friends who has remained true to principle and to honor, for advocating despotism on principle, and defending it, as in 1848 they had defended democracy, as the Catholic order, and its revival as the revival of Catholic society in Europe,- and for using the little liberty they were suffered to retain to sound the praises of Caesar and to rivet still further the chains of Caesarism, instead of suing it to form and maintain a sound and healthy public opinion which would gradually and peaceably force the government to concede to the nation an effective voice in the management of its own affairs.  It is they not we who really incur the censure the Pope pronounces against the revolutionists; for Napoleon III their master and their idol, not only avows, but boasts his adherence to revolutionary principles.  Since he professes to recognize and continue the revolution of 1789, in which were contained the germs of all subsequent European revolutions.

            The Holy Father censures in severe terms Indifferentism, or the pretence that one religion is as good as another, and that it makes no difference of what religion a man is, whether of any or none, providing he maintains a certain moral decorum.  We need not dwell on this, for we have made many enemies by the earnestness with which we have insisted on the dogma that there is no salvation out of the Church.   There are here and elsewhere many Catholics who are latitudinarian in their feelings, and are quite shocked to hear the doctrine of exclusive salvation asserted.  They regard that doctrine as uncharitable, bigoted, intolerant, and altogether unsuitable to the liberal and enlightened age in which we live.  We are, we think, in no danger of being included in their number, and we leave them to settle the matter with the doctrine of the Church so as to escape the Papal censure, the best way they can.

            The Encyclical also censures the false notions with regard to liberty of conscience, so much in the fashion both then and now. “From this impure source of indifferentism,” says the Holy Father, “flows that absurd and erroneous maxim, or rather, that delirium- that liberty of conscience for everyone is to be asserted and maintained.  This most pestiferous error has the way prepared for it by the unrestrained freedom of opinions diffused far and wide, to the grave injury of both religious and civil society; and from which some have the extreme impudence to pretend that certain advantages may result from religion; but what worse death to the soul, as said St. Augustine, than the freedom of error?”  the liberty or freedom of conscience here censured is that which grows out of indifferentism, and which presupposes that there is no difference between truth and error, right and wrong.  It is the assertion of the absolute freedom of every man to do what seems to him right in his own eyes, or to live as he lists, and is only another name for universal license, and wholly incompatible with all religion and morality, and all society religious or secular.  This error cannot be charged against this Review, for it has always maintained that no man has the moral right to err or to follow a false conscience.  There may be, and doubtless are, cases in which error is excusable or inculpable, but every man is bound to do his best to have a good conscience,- to know and conform to the truth as God has revealed it.

            But it does not follow from this that the State must take upon itself to suppress by force every error in belief or practice against religion, or that it may not recognize and protect before the civil law the equal freedom of all religions or of all consciences that enjoin nothing contrary to the law of natural society.  The State, since it holds its power from God- non enim est potestas nisi a Deo- is under the law of God, and bound to place the interests of religion above all others; but it may often happen that the interests of religion are best promoted by placing the Church and the sects on a footing of perfect equality before the law, and the State’s recognizing its own incompetency in spirituals, as is the case with us in this country.  The nations in their present mood at least, cannot be held in the faith by civil enactments or the infliction of civil pains and penalties for heresy.  In those states where Catholicity is the civil law, or enacted or upheld by the civil law, we find almost universally a bitter feeling of hostility towards the Pope and the clergy; and that the people, however found they may be of shows and processions, or however careful they may be in the observance of the external forms of the Church, to a fearful extent lack the soul of religion.  We demand for Catholics in all non-Catholic states the full liberty of conscience before the law; and we do it on principles that would authorize non-Catholics to demand it for themselves in Catholic States.  We cannot understand how what is right in our case can be wrong in theirs.  Catholicity is always just and always consistent with itself.  The tendency to the civil freedom of conscience is universal in our modern world, and that freedom is now at least partially recognized in France, Belgium, Sardinia, and Austria, and is beginning to be in some of the Protestant continental States, as well as in Great Britain.  We do not say that the Church has not the right, when she judges proper, to call in the secular arm to protect her against the external violence of her enemies; we say she has and must have that right as the representative of the spiritual order, but we deny to the State the right in its own name, or motu proprio,  to enact what shall or shall not be the religion of its subjects.  It is bound to protect the Church of God in the free and full enjoyment of all her rights, but it has and can have no spiritual competency, no more competency to establish Catholicity as a part of the civil constitution than it has to prohibit its belief and practice.  We do not urge any change in the legislation of any Catholic State on this subject, for that is not our business, but we believe that the order established in this republic will ere long be adopted in all civilized States, and are fully convinced in our own mind that the Church will ultimately gain more than she will lose by it.

            The Encyclical brands with severe censure, as growing out of the same false system, the so-called freedom of the Press, or the unrestrained freedom of publication of all sorts of books and writings, however false or pestiferous they may be.  This censure does not touch this Review, for we have never defended the freedom censured.  We claim the right to exercise, holding ourselves responsible for its abuse, the freedom of opinion and publication conceded us by the Church, and not incompatible with her authority, doctrine, and discipline.  This freedom we will suffer no merely human authority to deny us or abridge.  But this freedom, we have said over and over again, is not a freedom or right against the Church, but from and against all not clothed for our conscience with her authority.  We have no rights against her, nor against Churchmen in so far as commissioned by her.  We recognize her full right of censorship, and we seldom publish an article in this Review, without submitting it before publication to the revision of a theologian, and shall always submit to such revision when it can be obtained.  We recognize no man’s right to publish an erroneous or immoral book or writing, and we are aware of no government that does not place some sort of restriction on the press, either by way of prevention or punishment.  So far as it concerns the spiritual order there is no difficulty in the question for Catholics, for the Church has for all Catholics the right of censorship; but the civil question has grave difficulties, and which it is not easy to solve.  We know the most rigid censorship established by the State has proved ineffectual to prevent the publication and circulation of bad books, and it generally is more effectual in suppressing good books than bad.  There certainly are books which the police ought to prevent the circulation of, but no police can prevent every thing corrupt or corrupting from reaching the people.  How far the police should intervene or in what form, it is hard to say.  Our present Supreme Pontiff, as temporal prince, relaxed materially the censorship which had been maintained under his predecessor, and the free discussion of political questions was allowed all through the Papal States.  The question, in our judgment, is a practical question which must be answered differently in different countries and under different circumstances.  The English and American system, that of freedom, but with responsibility for its abuse, is unquestionably the best, as it is the only practicable system for Englishmen and Americans.  Whether the continental system, which prevents the publication, or at least the writing of many of good book, and hardly prevents the writing or publication of a single bad book, is the best for the continental nations, it is their province, not ours, to decide.  We will only add, that there are times when we have more to hope from meeting false liberalism with liberty than from meeting it with repression, which in the presence absence of respect for authority can seldom be resorted to with advantage.

               The Encyclical certainly condemns, under all its aspects, and in all its applications, liberty in the sense defended by the so-called European Liberals, but we respectfully submit, that it pronounces no censure on true liberty, or on the liberty in the sense we have defended it.  It is always an “audacious liberty,” a “liberty without bounds,” an “unbridled liberty,” a liberty that respects no authority, no law, no order, and is in reality only unbridled license or pure Jacobinism, that is condemned.  There is no censure of that orderly constitutional liberty which denies Caesarism, and asserts the right of a nation to a legal and effective voice in the management of public affairs, as in Great Britian and the United States,- the only liberty we have advocated.  This Review has never advocated, and we trust never will advocate, liberty in the sense the Encyclical censures it.  The liberty we advocate, is not liberty without, but with and by law.  This is wherefore, while we condemn Caesarism, which is power without law, we equally condemn Red Republicanism, which is liberty without law, and in principle wimple anarchy.  We defend republicanism, but authority is needed in a well-ordered republic, and should be held sacred and inviolable in a republic as well as in an absolute monarchy.   There is no true liberty without authority, and it cannot subsist where the supremacy of law is not maintained, and wise and just laws are not enacted, and faithfully executed.  Disloyalty is a vice, and treason is a crime in a republic no less than in a monarchy.

            The great difficulty in our times grows out of the fact, that false notions alike of liberty and authority everywhere obtain.  In Old Europe, the party that defends authority tends to Caesarism, while the party that demands liberty tends to Red Republicanism or Jacobinism.  The English and American mind formerly steered comparatively clear of both of these errors, and adhered to the principles insisted on by all the great Doctors of the Church, prior to Bossuet, who mistook the political system of pagan Rome under the Caesars for that presented in the Holy Scriptures.  But there are plain indications that it is now following the continental mind, and in danger of identifying authority with despotism, and liberty with Jacobinism, as in France, Italy, and Austria.  When, in 1848, we condemned revolutionism, we were denounced as an absolutist, and now when we condemn Caesarism, we are denounced as a revolutionist, and some over-zealous Catholics have read us, or threatened to read us, out of the Church.  This shows that public sentiment even here, identifies liberty with liberalism, and authority with Caesarism, while the rapid strides we are making towards each, may well alarm the patriot and the Christian.

            Now this Review holds that Caesarism and Jacobinism, absolutism and liberalism, are alike opposed to liberty.  We want order with liberty, and liberty with order, and resist alike the despotism of Caesar and the despotism of the mob.  We wish to be the slaves neither of courtiers nor of demagogues, and therefore accept none of the simple forms of government, but support, whenever practicable for the constitution of natural society, what are called mixed governments, or governments into which enter the several simple elements of government, so combined as to balance each other, and temper or restrain within given limits each other’s action.  We do this, because we think it best for natural society, and the most favorable, as a general rule, to religious interests.  We do not call this order Catholic, for the term Catholic we appropriate to what is, or pertains to the Church or supernatural society; and this in the natural society, and may be accepted by non-Catholics, and labored for with as much earnestness and good faith, as by Catholics.  It is not Catholics, any more than the institutions of this country are Catholic; but it accords with Catholicity as natural reason accords with supernatural faith, and it is only the view of a superficial logic that concludes because the Church, a Divine institution, is under the Supreme Pontiff, that Imperialism in the State is the government that best accords with Catholicity, for the Church and the State belong to different orders, and the conclusion rests on analogy which does not, and cannot exist, till you can assert the same supernatural assistance for the prince in the government of temporal affairs, that we on the strength of our Lord’s promises assert for the successor of Peter in the government of spiritual affairs.

            We hope these remarks will remove our friend’s misgivings, and also be found to have an interest aside from that of vindicating the orthodoxy of this Review.  Every periodical must, if it intends to have a living interest, treat the questions of the day as they rise, and as these questions are perpetually changing their aspects, the periodical must continually change the aspects under which it treats them.  The Editor has before his mind at each successive moment all he has previously said; and writes with the presumption that it is also before the mind of his readers.  Thus he trusts that what he says today will be understood in the light of what was said yesterday.  But unhappily what he said yesterday was not read, or is forgotten, and attention is only paid to what he says today, which is incomplete without what was said before.  Many readers, too, forget what is said in one article in the same number, before they finish reading another, and hardly one seems to think it incumbent on him to read through a single article before pronouncing judgment on it.  We have found some of our Catholic journals condemning one article for its doctrine, and highly lauding another in the same number, containing precisely the same doctrine.  We pray our readers not to forget when reading what we say of liberty, what we have said of authority, and when reading what we have said of authority, not to forget what we say of liberty, for the one is qualified by the other.