Puslapio vaizdai

that we are indeed disingenuous, untruthful, and cowardly. That such is the impression is undeniable. We are never supposed to be open and frank; and it is believed that we trim, evade, use mental reservation, in a word practise what they express by the word Jesuitry, whenever our religion is in question. No doubt, to some extent, this impression was originated by the cautions and shifts, disguises and reserve to which our ancestors were obliged to resort in the time of persecution in order to escape the terrible penal laws enacted by the Protestant government ; but however that may be, or whatever may have been the origin of the impression, it certainly exists, and operates more than any one thing else, to our disadvantage. It prevents us from obtaining a hearing, or if we obtain a hearing, it prevents our expositions and defences of our religion from being received with respect.

We are regarded as impeached witnesses, as unworthy of the slightest credit when we speak of our religion. Nothing is more important to us than to remove this damaging impression. We cannot remove it by exclaiming against it, by denying its justice, and asserting by words our own truthfulness and courage. Our words are precisely what is not believed. We can remove it only by deeds, only in showing by our acts that we are frank and truthful, open and courageous ; that we shrink from the frank avowal and defence of nothing really pertaining to our religion, or from recognizing and meeting no historical or scientific difficulties alleged against the claims of our Church; that there is nothing in history or science, in Catholic ages, nations, or practices, that we would conceal, or are not prepared openly to avow, and so far as Catholic, boldly defend.

Now, we think it cannot be denied that we have not taken, in general, sufficient pains to do this and to clear ourselves of this damning accusation. We have naturally thought that our indignant denial of it should suffice, that we have the right to throw ourselves on the maxim, “Every man is to be accounted innocent till proved guilty." This may do very well for us, but we cannot expect it to satisfy our enemies, who think they have proved us guilty. It must be admitted that there are appearances against us, and that some of us have occasionally indulged in what The Rambler terms "literary cookery.Some of our writers have notoriously trimmed, like the late Charles Butler, and pared off the features of our religion supposed to be the most offensive to Protestants ; that we have in our popular controversies from ignorance or policy passed over historical passages difficult to explain, and by carefullyselected extracts from scientific writers made the scientific tendencies or the results of the scientific investigations of the age, appear more in our favor than they really are. Our popular apologists have, when they could, evaded, or when they could not evade, have met unfairly, and not frankly, the facts in the delicate questions of religious liberty, the Inquisition, burning heretics, and the Papal supremacy. No doubt our popular writers have been governed by considerations of prudence, but they forget at times, at least it seems so to us, that what at one time may be truly prudent, at another may be grossly imprudent. In the beginning, the Church adopted and for some centuries preserved more or less strictly the Disciplina Arcani, but in our days the discipline of the secret, whether desirable or not, is impracticable. The Church has been too long in the world and played too conspicuous a part on its theatre for that. She is a public body, and her history is as open to her enemies as it is to us, and they can read history as well as we. There is no historical fact that can by any effort of ingenuity or malice be twisted to her discredit that is not already known to them, and made the most of against her. When we consider this fact in connection with the impression so widely and damagingly prevalent, that, when we speak of our religion, we are no better than tricksters, liars, and cowards, it seems to us that the only prudent course is that of entire openness, and frankness, which conceals and attempts to conceal nothing. No special pleading we can resort to, no historical cookery possible, no subtil distinctions, and ingenious explanations conceivable, will ever convince the non-Catholic English-speaking world that Gallicanism truly represents the Catholic doctrine as to the power of the Pope and the relations between the spiritual and the temporal orders ; that the Church does not teach, and Catholics are not required to believe, that out of the Church there is no salvation ; or that the modern doctrine of religious liberty professed by the non-Catholic world, and which is tantamount to religious indifferentism,

is Catholic doctrine, or that it has not been condemned by Popes and councils and the practice of the Church in all ages.

All efforts to this end are so much labor lost, nay, worse than lost ; for they tend only to confirm the impression already so strong of our cowardice and unscrupulousness in explaining or defending our religion and its history. The rebukes we received a few years since for our alleged imprudence in publishing our essays on the Papacy has persuaded nobody out of the Church that we were unorthodox, and has had the effect only of confirming the non-Catholic world in their belief in the lack of frankness, honesty, and courage on the part of Catholics. Mr. Chandler's famous Speech in Congress on the temporal power of the Pope, may have seemed to Catholics an admirable reply to the charges brought by the Know-Nothings against us, but to the non-Catholic world it has seemed only an ingenious perversion of evident historical truth, and a transparent evasion of the real difficulty. The non-Catholic world believe us, not him, for they know that we are truer to the common sense view of history than he is.

We agree precisely with our friends as to the duty of observing prudence, but we differ with some of them as to what in our age and country is prudence. We believe that a bold, fearless, manly and truthful avowal and defence of our religion in its offensive as well as inoffensive features, is the only legitimate prudence in the world we have to deal with. We believe the only prudent course is to throw ourselves upon the truth, and leave the truth to sustain us. If the facts of history or of science are really against us, we cannot maintain the claims of our Church, if we would ; and if, though not really against us, they present difficulties that in the present stage of historical and scientific progress we are unable satisfactorily to explain, we lose nothing by frankly avowing the fact. In history we know no such difficulties. In science, in philology, ethnology, and geology, we do find difficulties that we are not ourselves able to explain, on any principles we are acquainted with so that they shall harmonize with Catholic dogmas. These difficulties, however, do not disturb our faith, for it would be extremely illogical to argue against the Church from our own ignorance. But they exist in the present state of science, and we gain nothing but a new confirmation of the damaging impression against us by refusing to acknowledge them. We here and every where shall do best to be open and courageous, to confide in truth, and to have no fear but the God of truth will sustain us, and give success to his own cause.

The old nursing and safeguard system has ceased to be practicable. We cannot keep from the faithful a knowledge of these difficulties and what our enemies allege against us, if we would. We disguise not from ourselves or from others the dangers to which our children and youth are exposed in this proud, self-reliant, and conceited AngloSaxon world. But we must face the danger with brave hearts and manly confidence. The Church is comparatively free, and is no longer crippled by having the temporal power for her dry nurse ; but she is left without any external support from the state. She is forced, from the nature of the case, to fall back on her own resources as a spiritual kingdom, and make her appeal to reason and will. She can subsist or make progress in this AngloSaxon world only as she can convince the reason and win the heart. The only obedience she can count on is a free, intelligent, voluntary obedience, yielded from conviction and love. Such is undeniably the fact, and we should none of us by our reminiscences of a different past be prevented from frankly and loyally accepting it. Our sole reliance under God is in the ability of our Church to meet all the demands of intelligence, and to command by her intrinsic excellence the intellect of the age. This being the case we must give to intellect its free development, and treat it with respect even in its aberrations, though not the aberrations themselves when incompatible with faith or sound doctrine.

We have acknowledged and commented on certain defects which converts, like ourselves, seem to detect in the Catholic population of Great Britain and the United States. And yet these are, after all, not defects that can be predicated of any considerable portion of that population, at least at the present moment. They are defects, moreover, shared by many converts, to as great a degree as by our old Catholics, if not even in a greater degree. They are, however, every day disappearing, and with freedom and the opportunity to give full scope to their Catholic

life, the great majority of our Catholic population are assuming that high, manly tone, that open, frank, ingenuous manner, that sense of equality, which becomes them in the presence of their enemies. We would not be understood as having written in a querulous tone, or in a censorious spirit. We have merely wished to give our views on several questions which have been raised in England, with the desire not of finding fault with the past, or of denying that a great improvement has taken place, but of vindicating for Catholic publicists their rightful position, and of stimulating our brethren to greater improvement hereafter. We have defended converts from what we have regarded as unjust insinuations, and intended to rebuke the taunts to which they are sometimes subjected ; but it has not entered into our thought to place them above old Catholics, or to favor in the remotest degree here or elsewhere a convert party. For ourselves personally, it is only by an effort that we can bring home to our own mind that we spent upwards of forty years outside of the Catholic communion. We think, feel, and act, according to our knowledge and virtue, as a Catholic, and as nothing else. We find it difficult to draw a line between ourselves and those who have been Catholics from their infancy. Our interests, our affections, and our lot in life are all bound up with this old Catholic body into which through the grace of God we have been admitted as one born out of due season. Their faith is our faith, their hopes are our hopes, their God is our God. Whither they go, thither we go with them ; where they dwell, there will we dwell. We will recognize no schism between them and us, and it is on them under God we place our reliance for the future of our religion in the English-speaking world. In our own country our hopes rest mainly on the young Catholic generation growing up. We find much in them to deplore, but in every city and considerable town throughout the Union, we find a noble band of Catholic young men, some born here, some born abroad, who seem to us filled with the right spirit, who love their religion, who are not ashamed of it, who are willing to live it, and live for it, and who are able to recommend it to the non-Catholic world, by their hightoned virtues, their simple, unaffected piety, their intelligence, their high sense of honor, and their manly bearing and conduct. May God bless them. .

« AnkstesnisTęsti »