« AnteriorContinuar »
They remind us of certain galleries in or spiritual enormity, into which the Italy, where the walls teem with fagots, Church was destined to run, was laid in stakes, gridirons, broiling martyrs, and the opinion, which early obtained, that a horrible array of distorted human Christ had founded an external instituanatomy, unrelieved by one sweet face tion, to be the medium of the new and or a single smiling landscape.
divine life. It was not only an unavoidWe have no disposition to palliate the able inference from this, in logic, that horrid deeds of ancient churchmen, nor such a body should be supreme in its to disguise the lessons of history, but moral authority, but it was also an unawe think that, at this late day, ecclesias- voidable practical deduction that the tical battles might be fought with other administrators of its ordinances should weapons than those the illustrious Molly become among the most wealthy and Seagrim used when she drove her neigh- powerful personages in secular society. bors out of the sacred enclosure with 2. The conversion of Constantine thigh-bones, skulls and bits of old tomb- added prodigiously to the temporalistone. History is only instructive when ties of the Church, but, most of all, it is read in the light of philosophy: We by conferring judicial and civil juriscannot properly use its events as isola- diction upon the bishops. His sucted facts, nor judge of the characters it cessors pursued the same policy, with presents us by the standards of modern some exceptions, and anybody who will opinion. Every age and nation must be read the Theodosian and Justinian viewed in its peculiar relations. Every codes, will see that the elergy, long age and nation has its own methods and before the fifth century, were in the its own ideas. The boy is not the man; possession of large patrimonies, were the man of the ninth century is not the joined in the civil and financial adminman of the nineteenth ; and the etiquette istration of the provinces, were judges of the court of Queen Victoria cannot in the courts allowed to decree temporal be applied to the court of Queen Pomare. penalties, and often took part in the That which might have been good gov- imperial councils. ernment, one time and place, would be 3. In the distribution of ecclesiastical very bad government in another time rank, following generally the political and place, and a course of conduct divisions of the Empire, the preeminence which seems simply impudent and senile fell, of course, to the See of the impein Gregory XVI., may have been ex- rial city,—the foremost city of the alted and beneficial in Gregory VII. world. Its local position, fortified by
These remarks, common-place as they old renown and the traditions of St. are, have an important bearing upon the Peter's special favor, made it a center particular question before us—the tem- of attraction and reverence to the faithporal power of the Popes—which is com- ful everywhere, but particularly to the monly treated as if the tenth and churches among the barbarians, which eleventh centuries could be revived, and its zeal had planted, and which were old Hildebrand-true son of fire as he ever eager to testify their respect and was named-start again from the grave submission to the venerable mother. where he has rested nearly a thousand 4. When the Empire was transferred years. But this is a grave mistake. to the East—an event that ought to That power, as we shall show, is no have diminished the importance of the longer a present terror, but a simple Roman Church—it happened that the historical phenomenon. It had its ori- distractions of the times turned that gin in the inevitable circumstances and event into an occasion of its increasing necessities of society, at a particular power. The Emperors, absorbed in stage of its progress, and, having served their eastern troubles, left the Church its ends, sometimes salutary and some- almost the only authority in the western times quite otherwise, it has been dis- provinces. Their representatives, the missed by a kind Providence to the miserable exarchs, for the most part limbo of things not wanted on earth. plunderers and despots, could not rival
This proposition we now proceed the priests in the affections of the peovery succinctly to illustrate, by refer- ple. As the imperial authority grew ence to a few prominent historical facts, weaker, therefore, the authority of the on the origin and culmination of the Roman Bishop grew stronger. The papal power:
senate, as well as the populace, came i. The foundation of every temporal to regard him as their true head; so that
the Emperor, no longer able to control hibited a singular mixture of zealous his affairs, and glad of the assistance of piety and worldly ambition, backward in so eminent and influential a lieutenant, accepting a vassalage tendered alike readily confirmed the powers which from motives of interest and devotion. necessity, no less than general consent, In proof of the state of feeling, we had conferred.
may mention that, when the crusades 5. When, finally, the Popes threw off came on, sovereigns and soldiers alike, the reins of the Emperors, and invited regarding the Popes as the natural the King of the Franks to protect them leaders of the great religious wars, from the savage incursions of the Lom- often placed their persons and properbards, it was clear that the Emperors ties under their protection. Political were too weak to defend and retain the affairs were arranged in the Pope's preItalian provinces, and the exigency sence, treaties concluded, routes of absolutely required an extraordinary march selected, and questions of preintervention. The policy of Stephen cedence decided. II. and Adrian I., then, which gave 8. The right to depose princes, howgreat extension to the temporal sove- ever, grew more directly out of the reignity of the Popes, was quite in- power of excommunication, which the evitable under the circumstances. They Church had asserted from the earliest stepped in to save society at a time times. At first, this ban worked only a when there was nobody else in a posi- forfeiture of ecclesiastical rights, but tion, or having the will, to do so ; and after the sovereigns took the Church in Pepin and Charlemagne, as the actual hand, civil disabilities were attached to conquerors of the Lombards, when they its infliction. The unhappy person confirmed, by solemn grants, the pos- who incurred it, was not only shut out sessions of St. Peter, gave the only of the assemblies of the faithful, and constitutional sanction, known to the banished their society, but he was delaws of the epoch, to what was held by clared civilly dead, and his dignities, the more legitimate title of ability, vir- rights, and possessions, fell away from tue, service, and the tacit consent of him, like leaves from a tree smitten by the people.
the lightning. All the legislation of 6. In the midst of the turbulent and the princes concurred in giving validity almost anarchical feudal society, the to ecclesiastical laws, and in confirming Pope appeared, not only as a Prince the jurisdiction of bishops by civic among princes, but as a Prince superior penalties. When the Popes, therefore, to all princes, by virtue of his peculiar insisting upon the impartiality of ecclesiastical eminence. He was natu- God's judgments, which could make rally resorted to as an umpire in the no distinction between peasant and settlement of disputes, and large fiefs prince, applied the same ban to sovewere added to his jurisdiction, either to reigns which they applied to serfs, propitiate his favor or as a reward for they exercised a power to which the distinguished services. As the laws of sovereigns themselves had consented, the Roman empire, moreover, had been and whose legitimacy they never quesprincipally retained in the monarchies tioned as to its general grounds, and which succeeded it, all the immunities only as to the justice of its application and privileges of the clergy were pre- in the particular case. served, and even extended, and their intimate association with the temporal Thus, innumerable circumstances in power enlarged.
the political relations, the external events, 7. The Holy See, at once the center of and the moral opinions of the time, prereligion and learning, was also the only pared the vay for those tremendous authority of any kind universally ac- assertions of supreme temporal soverknowledged. The Princes, at war per- eignty, which were begun by Gregory petually amongst themselves, each in VII., in his deposition of Henry, and turn invoked its aid against the en- continued with vigor, for two or three croachments of his neighbors. They centuries, by his successors. They are were all equally solicitous to secure its circumstances which do not wholly acfavor, even to the extent of consenting quit the Popes of the charge of usurpto do homage for their kingdoms, as if ation, but which yet show that their they were held from the Pope. Nor conduct was not, as it is often representwere the Popes, whose conduct ex- ed to have been, utterly indefensible.
There was a color of law even for their Accordingly, we see many examples of most high-handed interferences, sanc- the operation of all these principles, betioned as they were by the political fore the opening of the fourteenth cenconstitution of the age, no less than tury, and which, indeed, kept pace with by its prevailing religious convictions. the growing domination of the hierarchy. But, without entering into the merits of Internal corruption and external outthe particular disputes between the rage bred resistance, both within and Pope and the Emperors, from the without, and, when Boniface VIII. eleventh to the fourteenth centuries, we
his contest with Philip le are free to say, in behalf of the Church, Bel, of France, he appeared to himself that corrupt as its doctrines now and to his friends to advance with all seem to us, gross as were the de- the strength of the great Gregory; but, partures of its ritual from the simplicity in reality, the moral and popular supof Scripture, and extraordinary and port, which had been the strength of arrogant as the temporal assumptions of Gregory, had already collapsed. In its pontiffs appear in our wholly differ- the south of France, the infamous cruent state of society and sentiment, it sade against the Albigenses had detached represented the better cause in nearly a numerous and powerful body; similar all its mediæval political struggles. It disaffections had estranged the whole of curbed the otherwise unlimited ferocity Flanders; the thoughts which shortly of the princes; it was often a general after found vent in the immortal poem peace-maker; it vindicated the princi- of Dante, the great father of Prople of election, as against the hereditary testantism and the modern era, were principle; and it proclaimed the superi- fermenting in Italy; distant England ority of the moral order to a régime of was heaving with the birth of Wickliffe; mere brute materialism and arbitrary and the cultivators of ancient learning, self-will. That it was also guilty of even, had, in the silence of the monasteawful inconsistencies, no one can deny ries, begun to manifest an abated rebut a devotee of its universal infalli
spect for a clergy whose vices were as bility.
conspicuous as they were disgraceful. Yet, as this system of conjoint spirit- Boniface was therefore virtually defeatual and temporal authority had its ted, and, in his defeat, the system itself, rise in the circumstances of the time, so received a fatal blow. Like one who it had its fall in its own inherent weak- came after him, he might have exclaimness. Viewed absolutely, it was a vio. ed that both he and his system had venlation of both reason and religion, and tured too far upon the sea of glory, was only provisionally good. At the and were lefthight of its prevalence, then, it was already dissolving. Firstly, it could not “Weary and old with service, to the mercy
of a rude stream, that must forever hide them." escape reflecting minds, thatevery resort to force, direct or indirect, by a body That stream was the awakening life of professing a spiritual origin and genesis, Christendom, inside and outside of the was fundamentally inconsistent with its Church, which, dissolving the Papacy nature and end, and these minds must into the great and damaging "western have been more or less openly at war with schism,” gathered strength from the the policy of the Church. In the second revival of literature, from the growth of place, the enormous wealth which flow- the universities, from the republican ed into its treasury, in consequence of experiments in Italy, from the Hussite its vast temporal sway, must have rebellion, from the pragmatic sanctions corrupted the clergy, and lost them the of France, from the quickening activity respect of the more severe and pure of of commerce, from the progress of their own order as well as that of the maritime discovery, and the disclosures laics. And then, again, the possession and inventions of science, until, finally, of a great and almost uncontrolled it broke over Europe, in a broad, full power, degenerates inevitably into a tide, as the Lutheran Reformation. two-fold source of abuses; firstly, in The Temporal Arm made, ever and that it becomes a lure to all kinds anon, during the interval, spasmodic of selfish and reckless ambition, and efforts to recover its ancient energy; secondly, in that it gets impatient of but they were like the efforts of a serresistance, and persecutes instead of pent to strike, when its back is broken. persuading
For five centuries, now, its authority has
steadily declined—nor will it ever be superiority of the Protestant nations, in revived. We should as soon think of intelligence, activity, wealth, and free. seeing Europe invaded again by the dom, which secures them forever from Arabs, or the Christian nations joined conquest, and which will, sooner or later, once more in a crusade to Jerusalem, or compel the Catholic nations to follow in the philosophers of the world returning their track. It is Protestantism which to the study of alchemy-as of behold- controls civilization and the future desing the rejuvenescence of the middle- tiny of the world. age constitution of society, and of its But, exclaim a thousand dissentient foster brother, the old Roman court. voices, in the face of this reasoning and Even the religious influence of the all these facts, Romanism, by its own Church, by which alone its temporal showing, remains' forever unchangeable pretensions can be sustained, will never and unchanged. Its prelates and its become again what it was before the official organs adhere as tenaciously to Reformation. It is true, as Mr. Macau- the temporal supremacy of the Pope lay, in his brilliant essay on Ranke's now, as they did in the days of the History of the Popes, bas remarked, Hohenstauffen and John Lackland; that the territorial division of Europe, and, whenever and wherever they can, between the Catholics and the Protest- will hasten to enforce its claims. ants, is the same now as it was towards Now, we deny the truth of this posithe close of the sixteenth century,- tion, and we scout the inferences which that the nations which were Catholic are attached to it, to frighten us out of then, chiefly the Southern or Romanic, our seven senses. are Catholic still; and those which were And, in the first place, we remark Protestants then, chiefly the Northern that this doctrine is not an established or Teutonic nations, are Protestants doctrine of the Catholic Church. It is still; while neither Catholic nor Pro- simply a sententia in ecclesia—an untestant has made any substantial gains adjudicated question, without positive in the large debatable ground in the authority, and incumbent upon no one's middle of Europe. But this is true faith. A Catholic may believe what only geographically, as Macaulay him- he pleases on that subject, and yet be self more than intimates; for while a good Catholic; he may utterly deny the physical frontiers of either camp all manner of temporal allegiance to have not advanced, their moral and in- the Pope, and yet be a good Catholic: tellectual advances respectively have in short, the only allegiance expected been widely different. The leading of him, by the laws of the Church, is a Catholic nations, at the close of the belief of its dogmas, and a submission sixteenth century, were Spain and Italy, to its moral discipline. and these have fallen into decay, where- In regard to the ground and extent of as the leading Protestant nations, the Temporal Power of the Pope, two such as England and North Germany, parties exist, and have long existed, in have shot up prodigiously in every ele- the Church. The first, the Ultramonment of vigor. The nations which, tane or theological party, contend that before Luther, commanded the civiliza- the Pope and Church have received, imtion of the world, were nations under mediately from God, full power to govern the control of Rome, but the nations the world, both in spirituals and tempowhich now occupy that exalted posi- rals. In its naked form, however, tion, pursue their ends without a thought this theory, started by John of Salisof the Church. England, North Ger- bury, in the twelfth century, found many, and the United States, are open- but few advocates; but, about the ly Protestant; Russia, as the inheritor close of the sixteenth, Bellarmin and of Greek catholicity, is anti-Roman; other systematic writers modified it while France, though nominally Catho- into this shape: that the Church has lic, is rather scientific than religious in received from God, directly and immeher development, and is precisely the diately, no power over temporals, but nation, under her renowned Gallic liber- over spirituals solelyyet this power ties, which most strenuously resists the includes, indirectly, the power of govpapal predominance. Now, it is this erning temporals when the good of re
* Gosselin, on the Power of the Popes, vol. i. p. 361.
ligion requires it, or in certain extra- in the famous Declarations, which are ordinary cases, when it is rendered ne- the basis of the Cisalpine doctrine, said, cessary for the salvation of souls. This “Kings and sovereigns are not subjectis the sense in which the doctrine is held ed to any ecclesiastical power, by the by most of the Ultramontanes, though order of God, in temporal things; and some of them modify it still more, so as to their subjects cannot be released from restrict the right of the Church to a sin- their obedience, nor absolved from their gle right to declare the cases in which a oath of allegiance." These declarations sovereign has forfeited his authority, and were eloquently defended by Bossuet. subjects are absolved from their allegi- The six Catholic Universities, consulted ance—as cases of conscience. But the by Pitt, in 1789—three Spanish, and Pope can use no direct means for en- three French-took this view, and earforcing this declaration, which can only nestly declared that “neither the Cardibe put in execution by the temporal nals, the Pope, nor even the Church order. Mr. Brownson, who is more herself, has any jurisdiction or power, obstreperous than anybody else in vindi- by divine right, over the temporals of cating extreme opinions, denies that the kings, sovereigns, or subjects," &c. Pope can interfere generally in the civil The Irish committee, of 1792, made a affairs of States, or resort directly to the similar deposition, in behalf of all the strong arm. For that he must appeal Catholics of Ireland, which was repeatto the civil authority. “The Pope,” he ed before the House of Commons by all says, “does not make the law under the Irish bishops in 1826. All the old which the Prince holds, and can declare Catholic families of England take this him deposed only when he has forfeited view, with a large number of the Gerhis rights by the law under which he man and French bishops, and nearly all still holds. The act of deposition is of those in the United States. As to judicial, not legislative."
the laity of the Church, they do not The old direct doctrine survives only bother their brains much about the diswith a few extravagant ninnies, but indi- pute; the more ignorant of them clingrect Ultramontanism, as we have ex- ing to the Church because it has been plained it, seems at present in the ascend- their father's church, and the nursingant among the higher clergy and official mother of their superstitions; and the organs of the Church. The Popes are more enlightened, because they find, in supposed to incline to it privately, be- its doctrines and ceremonies, a genuine cause it extends their prerogatives; yet solace for their religious feelings. We the briefs of Pius VI. and Gregory may regard the controversy, on the XVI. are inconsistent with it. The whole, then, as a kind of drawn battlecollege of cardinals, too, favors it, be- sometimes one party is in the ascendant cause every cardinal expects some time and sometimes the other—the Ultramonor other to be Pope: the Jesuits, we tanes seeming to carry the victory albelieve, swear to it, and a majority of ways in numbers, and the Gallicans other religious orders receive it, toge- always in argument; but, whether the ther with many of the Spanish and one or the other prevails, it need be no Italian bishops, some of the German cause to us either of extravagant alarm and French, and the leading journals- or extravagant joy. such as the Civiltà Cattolica, at Rome, For, in the second place, we remark, the Historische Politische Blätter, of that, whatever may be the state of opinGermany, the Univers in Paris, the ion among Catholics, the claim of the Dublin Tablet, and Brownson's Quar- Popes to temporal power is not at all terly.
formidable, in the present condition of The second party, on the other hand, the world. Churchmen may conceit the Gallic or legist party, hold that the what they please about the unchangeable spiritual and temporal powers are equal- nature of the Church, but the fact of ly sovereign in their respective spheres, reason and history is that it does change, and independent of each other; and that with its changes of place, and the adthe Popes and Councils which have in- vancing aspects of society. It is no terfered in the temporal affairs of States more now, what it was when the monk have done so, either under the human of Clugni caused the poor German Emand constitutional laws of the epoch, or peror to wait bis insolent leisure three from an erroneous view of their duty. days in the cold, than the Knights TemThe Catholic clergy of France, in 1682, plars are now what they were then. It