Puslapio vaizdai
PDF
„ePub“

by the Emperor of the highest and essential prerogatives of the Papacy; by it he is virtually declared the supreme teacher and governor of the Church in his empire, -in principle all that was claimed by Henry VIII. of England. Catholicity, according to the Declaration of the French clergy, involving, as we have shown on more occasions than one, the supremacy of the State in spirituals, or political Atheism, is the only Catholicity legally tolerated in France. Frenchmen may be Catholics, according to the Four Articles drawn up by order of the monarch and imposed by the civil power, but they are legally forbidden to be Catholics, as the Pope is a Catholic. The French Catholic must teach and believe, at least teach, that the Council is above the Pope, and that the judgments of the

Pope are reformable, till they have received the assent of the Church.

What renders this restriction on Catholicity so much the more reprehensible, is the well-known fact mentioned by M. Montalembert, that there is no law in France that requires a man to believe even in God, or that prohibits him from assailing the Divinity of our Blessed Lord. All religions, all except the Catholic religion, are free in France ; Protestants, Jews, Infidels, are free to profess and defend their peculiar beliefs or unbeliefs. The irreligious press in France is perfectly free to attack the Church on every side, in her authority, her dogmas, her morals, her ritual, her usages, her discipline; and the most widely-circulated jour

, nals in the Empire are doing it daily, without one word of warning from the police. But the Catholic press, the moment it ventures to offer a manly, temperate, and perfectly loyal defence of the rights and independence of the Church in her own order, is visited by an “ Avertissement” from the Imperial police. All this, too, under a nominally, and, as his admirers at home and abroad pretend, a practically Catholic sovereign; eulogized by men who draw on their imagination for their facts as the protector and defender of Catholic interests throughout the world. Here is a refutation of those silly anecdotes circulating amongst Catholics in and out of France, as proofs of the Emperor's devotion to Catholic interests, and which have so often been repeated against us, as a full reply to our expressions of distrust of his Imperial Majesty, in relation to the freedom of the Church.

It is well known that we have been almost alone among Catholics in Great Britain and the United States, in our uniform distrust, from the first, of the Emperor's disposition in regard to the freedom and independence of the Church in his Empire. We have obtained no echo to our expression of this distrust among English-speaking Catholics ; they have seemed in their horror of socialism to have hailed the Emperor as a deliverer, and to be half prepared to identify the Catholic cause with that of French Imperialism. It has almost been regarded in certain quarters as a want of the true Catholic spirit to doubt the Imperial Parvenu, or to intimate that after all he might prove but a broken reed for Catholics to lean upon. Nothing but a panic fear of the threatened socialist or red republican revolution can account for their blindness or obliviousness. The traditions of the French monarchy from Louis XIV., the traditions of the first Empire, the antecedents of the nephew of his uncle, his affiliation with the insurgents against Gregory XVI., his letter, when president, to Colonel Edgar Ney, stating his policy with regard to the restoration of the Holy Father and the government of the Pontifical States, all were well calculated, one would suppose, to awaken distrust, and to force upon the most confiding the conviction that he would be disposed to serve the Catholic cause no further than he could make it subservient to his own purposes. What Catholic could confide in the loyal intentions towards the Church of the Emperor, who projected, as a reward of honor to his brave soldiers fighting in the Crimea, a medal with the device of three hearts united in one, intended to symbolize the union of Catholicity, Protestantism, and Mahometanism ?

It is but simple justice, however, to the Emperor, to say that he has never professed to be the friend of the freedom and independence of the Church. No word have we heard from his lips that implied that he either understood or desired that freedom and independence. We have heard of no authentic act of his that indicated any disposition on his part to be the defender or protector of Catholic interests, or to depart from the policy towards the Church pursued by his uncle ; and we are aware of no act of his towards religion that has shown any other regard for it than that dictated by state policy. Religious interests have suffered terribly in France since the re-establishment of the Empire, and the Church does not occupy, by any means, so free, so commanding, or so secure a position under the Imperial régime as she did under the republican régime of 1848. The Emperor has granted some pecuniary aid to particular churches, has given seats in his senate to certain ecclesiastical dignitaries, has assigned to bishops and priests an honorable place in his fêtes, and in processions on gala days, and permitted his almoners and chaplains to make a grand parade of certain harmless devotions calculated to charm the idle, please the sentimental, and captivate the dévôtes; but he has taken good care to give to the Church no substantial freedom, no positive security for the future, and to keep all effective power, whether in Church or State, in his own hands. So far as the civil law can do it, he has confined the Church within the narrowest limits possible without absolute schism, and made her free action and development in the Empire dependent on his own will and pleasure. And yet there are Catholics even in our own country, that look upon him as entitled to the confidence and gratitude of the Catholic world.

In this country Catholics have been misled by the conduct of a portion of the French bishops and clergy. A cer-tain number of French prelates, long held in reverence as the champions of religious freedom and independence, lavished in the summer and autumn of 1852 praises on the Prince-President, which are rarely deserved by mortal man, and Catholics have very naturally concluded that they knew what they were about, and, therefore, that they must have received assurances that were not vouchsafed to the world at large. The policy pursued by the Univers, very generally supported by the French clergy, of denouncing the old parliamentary champions of Catholic interests, also contributed not a little to the same conclusion. The Univers, indeed, has little direct influence in this country, but through the so-called Catholic organs of Great Britain, Ireland, and the United States, and prominent individuals who read and admire it, it has had a very commanding influence, and we doubt if there had been such a burst of indignation against us, if we had questioned the infallibility

a

of the Pope, as there was a few years since for questioning that of M. Louis Veuillot. It is with no pleasure that we speak disparagingly of the Univers. We go heart and hand with it in the repudiation of Gallicanism, and the assertion of the plenary authority of the Holy See. But, unhappily, it has seen proper to couple its championship of the Papal supremacy with the defence of modern Cæsarism, and true Voltairian sneers at parliamentary government and its defenders. Its chief editor sent us a few months since his reply to Count de Fallaux on the Parti Catholique, accompanied by a kind and respectful note, evidently conceived in a conciliatory spirit. We have never been able to repel any overtures, even of a bitter enemy, to peace. We therefore read M. Louis Veuillot's reply with softened feelings, and with every wish to find the estimate we had formed of him unjust. But we have been disappointed. His reply does not satisfy us. It is in great part irrelevant, violent, and unjust, and its perusal has left upon our mind the painful impression that justice and candor towards opponents are virtues that he has yet to acquire. He manifests the temper and breeding of a fanatic, and seems to act on the principle that whoever differs on any important point in history, politics, or philosophy, from himself, must needs be a bad Catholic, or no Catholic at all. We question not his sincerity, we question not his personal piety ; but we do question his qualification to be a Catholic leader. His mind is too narrow and one-sided for that, and his leadership, with the best intentions on his part, is fitted only to bring about the very results he most deprecates. Notwithstanding his hostility to those who regret the loss of parliamentary freedom, and his devotion to Imperialism, he has not been able to save his journal from an avertissement; and it would seem that, after having aided in erecting an absolute Government for his country, and in breaking down all the safeguards established by constitutionalism to freedom of thought, freedom of speech, and public discussion, the police have had the cruelty to take him at his word, and give him a taste of the despotism he has been willing to fasten upon others.

No one supposes that either the Univers or the French prelates we have spoken of intended to sacrifice the liberties of the Church. We do not doubt their good faith. They probably hoped to be able, by their zeal and devotion, to gain the Emperor on their side, and to prevent him from following old-fashioned Gallican counsels. But they mistook their man, and he was able to penetrate at a glance their motives. Gallicanism was originated in the courts of princes, and is the traditional doctrine of the temporal authority. No sovereign will accept the high Papal doctrines of the Univers and the Catholic prelates, if he can help it. We complain not that these prelates consented to the revival of the Empire, or that when revived they gave the Emperor a loyal support ; what we do complain of is, that through a panic fear of socialism they threw themselves at the feet of the new sovereign, and made an ignoble surrender to him of their personal dignity, and that freedom for which the Catholic party in France had for twenty years so nobly and so bravely struggled. They should have maintained their erect attitude, as free nuen and princes of the Church, and made the new Emperor feel that they neither courted his favor nor feared his displeasure ; that so long as he respected the rights and dignity of the Church of God he could count on them as his loyal supporters, but that the moment he attempted to assume spiritual functions, and to encroach on the ecclesiastical province, they would rouse all Catholic France as one man to resist his advance in that direction. In a word, they should have remained bishops, and not have attempted to be courtiers. Had they done so, we should not now have to weep over the prostrate Church in France, for prostrate for the present it is.

That free, bold voice, which we heard in France, under the monarchy of July and the republic of 1848, and which electrified the whole Catholic world, is heard no more. It is silent now. Frenchmen are free only to blaspheme the Church which has given their country its glory. Her princes have now a temporal master, who fastens upon their necks the yoke they seemed by their apparent sycophancy to invite. Alas! how often do we have to deplore that Catholics, while retaining the simplicity of the dove, forget to add to it, as our Lord commanded, the wisdom of the serpent. The whole battle for religious freedom has to be fought anew in France, and under greater disadvantages than ever.

“ If,” says Montalembert, “the clergy bad only urged the ac

« AnkstesnisTęsti »