Images de page
PDF
ePub

the country, until Innocent III. conferred it by bull on Simon de Montfort, and declared the Count of Toulouse for ever deprived of his rights to it. Boniface VII. wrote to King Edward I., that the kingdom of Scotland was the special property of the Roman Church, and that therefore he must not touch it. Innocent III. declared that God had ordained the Pope as Christ's Vicar, to have power "over all nations and kingdoms, to root out, and to pull down, and to destroy, and to throw down, and to build, and to plant."

The next Pope, Boniface VIII., bestowed Sardinia and Corsica upon James, King of Arragon, under condition of a yearly payment of 2,000 marks to the Apostolic Chair, by a decree beginning with these words, “Being set above kings and kingdoms by a divine pre-eminence of power, we dispose of them as we think fit,” &c. In 1302 he published his famous bull “Unam Sanctam,” which contains the following propositions : “We are taught by the words of the Gospel that there are in his (Peter's) power two swords, the spiritual and the temporal :-each, therefore, of these is in the power of the Church.—But one sword ought to be inferior to the other sword, and the temporal authority to be subject to the spiritual power.—For the spiritual power

has to institute, and to judge the earthly power, if it be evil. Therefore if the earthly power err, it will be judged by the spiritual power. But if the spiritual power err, the inferior will be judged by his superior. But if the highest ert, no man, but God alone, will have power to judge it.—Moreover we declare, affirm, define, and pronounce that it is altogether necessary to salvation that every human creature should be subject to the Roman pontiff.”

The twenty-third proposition of the Syllabus of the present Pope, Pius IX., affirms that the Popes have never exceeded the bounds of their power or usurped the rights of princes

The twenty-fourth proposition of the Syllabus confirms to the Church the right of coercing obedience. As this coercion can only be exercised where the medieval principle of subordination of the State to the Church is maintained, and as the number of governments upholding this principle are becoming yearly smaller, this proposition is but the sanctioning of centuries of barbarity, persecution, and violation of rights. “Alas !” says the Jesuit Schneemann,“ the State does not always fulfil its duties towards the Church according to the divine idea, and, let us add, cannot always fulfil them, through the wickedness of men. And thus the Church's rights in inflicting temporal punishment and the use of physical force are reduced to a minimum.”?

" It was from the spirit here manifested,” says Janus, “that Pius IX. in 1851 censured the teaching of the canonist Nuytz, in Turin, because he allowed only the power of spiritual punishment to the Church. And in the Concordat made in 1863 with the Republics of South America, it is laid down in the eighth Article, that the civil authorities are absolutely bound to execute every penalty decreed by the spiritual courts."3

The temporal sovereignty being subjected to the supremacy of the Church, as the price of its vassalage the spirituality gives it the power of promulgating civil and political laws. If the sovereignty be deposited in a monarchical government, the constitution must recognize in the Crown a fictitious infallibility, a divine right to do wrong with

1 The Syllabus condemns the following proposition, “ Romani Pontifices et Concilia Ecumenica a limitibus suše potestatis recesserunt, jura Principum usurparunt."

• Stimmen aus Maria Laach : Freiburg, 1867.
3 Janus: The Pope and the Council, English trans. 1869, p. 11.

impunity, and a chain of consequences follows. The royal power becomes hereditary, for peoples become property of the monarch like land or cattle, to be left from father to son. A privileged aristocracy to support and give splendour to the throne, rejoicing in immunities and endowed with pensions, follows. Heresy is pursued as a crime. The duties of conscience are made legally obligatory when regarded as useful to the State. Rights of in lividuals disappear, and all live on the bounty of the monarclı, who is only responsible to the priest who reigns in the name of the Absolute, and who confided to him his stewardship

That such a theory hangs logically together there can be no question. When doctrine is such that each of its parts exists as a condition of all, when all are co-ordinated, and suppose one another respectively, that doctrine has the highest degree of probability desirable; for inconsequence is the penalty closest allied to error, as consequence is the most certain mark of truth.

And if the dogma of man's free-will be denied, Papal supremacy in things temporal and spiritual is a complete and compact system from which there is no escape.

But if free-will be admitted, Roman Catholicism is inconsistent. The Church has asserted, proved, defended, and suffered to maintain free-will, and yet during ten centuries she has practically denied its exercise -by the theocracy of the Pope. She has admitted the social principles of serfage, of inequality, of absolutism, and of compulsion, and yet from her pulpits she has preached liberty, equality, and fraternity. These are holy words in a holy place, well enough in dogma, in metaphysics, and in ethics, but they are pernicious and false in politics and as social principles !

The Church has placed man face to face with God, and has declared him to be free and responsible to God for all his actions, and yet she refuses him liberty of conscience! She has taught that all men spring from a common father, that all are redeemed by One into whose mystical body they have been grafted, and in which there is neither rank nor special privilege, and yet she has made some men slaves to others! She has urged men to seek God wherever He be found, and she has shut the door of science !

Her system has been an illogism. Her social and metaphysical principles do not accord. If we start from theocracy, we arrive at fatalism; and slavery and compression are right. If we start from God willing man to be a free agent, we arrive at liberty of conscience, political, civil and religious liberty.

may

“Spontaneously to God should tend the soul,

Like the magnetic needle to the pole;
But what were that intrinsic virtue worth,
Suppose some fellow, with more zeal than knowledge,

Fresh from St. Andrew's College,
Should nail the conscious needle to the north?"1

If we destroy liberty in an intelligent and rational being, and who, being intelligent and rational, is free to exercise his intelligence and reason, we destroy the moral responsibility of his acts. We destroy the moral relations between him and God. We destroy free-will, which is the faculty of exercising that responsibility; we destroy the dogma of Grace, which supposes the effusions of supernatural power to enable man to accomplish those things for which he is responsible to God.

But the dogma of free-will is at the very base of Christianity. If that be destroyed every other dogma goes with it.

God leaves man perfectly free to abuse his liberty if he wills. Even when a man resolves on doing what is wrong, committing a theft, an adultery, a murder, God does not withdraw from him the muscular power and force necessary to accomplish the crime; on the contrary, the current of life from the Absolute continues unintermitted to the contingent even when he does that which is wrong. There is no attempt at constraint on God's part; man is entirely free to use or abuse God's gifts.

1 Hood: Ode to Rae Wilson.

But a theocracy endeavours to force a man to do what is right, in spite of God's witness against it. His authority, nevertheless, is moral and not effective.

And what is the link between God and man, and between man and his fellows. It is love. Can love be forced? Can you make a man love God by threatening him with the galleys if he refuse, and make himn love his neighbour on penalty of breaking on the wheel? Compulsion will make man hate God and religion, but persuasion will make him love both. If the Church is to bring mankind, broken loose from her fold, escaped through her torn net, to the feet of God, it must not be with thunderings and earthquakes and fires, but with the still small voice of persuasion.

Nor is bribery much better than constraint. By making religion “worth while” to a man, you do not make him Jove it, you teach him to despise it.

If a theocracy be a flagrant contradiction in Christianity to the first principles of Christianity, governmental autocracy, which makes the religion subserve the State, is not

less so.

In a theocracy, the pontiff derives his authority immediately from God, and the king draws his authority mediately from God through consecration by the pontiff. Thus the king represents the Absolute to his subjects, and all to

« PrécédentContinuer »