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dom was not of this world. Hence,' he continues, "the Catholics of both our islands have, without impeachment even from Rome, denied upon oath that “the Pope has any civil jurisdiction, power, superiority, or pre-eminence directly or indirectly within this realm."? |
And again, in 1826, the hierarchy of the Roman communion, in its pastoral address, spoke thus :
They declare on oath their belief that it is not an article of the Catholic faith, neither are they thereby required to believe that the Pope is infallible.
Now, while I am on this subject, I may be permitted to advert for a moment to a subject which has been handled at some length in the 'Expostulation. It seems to me that something may be done to allay the popular indignation at what is naturally regarded as perfidy on the part of the Roman Catholics: the state of the case being this, that before political privileges were granted to them they denied the Ultramontane doctrines on oath, in order to obtain these privileges; but as soon as that point had been gained, they turned round and avowed the very principles which they had denied. The case wears so unpleasant an aspect that Father Newman feels obliged to apologise for his co-religionists, and to express his belief that there are few of his creed, who will not deeply regiet, though no one be in fault, that the English and Irish prelacies of 1826 did pot foresee the possibility of the
1 31 Geo. III. c. 32.
synodal determinations of 1870; nor will they wonder that statesmen should feel themselves aggrieved that stipulations which they considered necessary for Catholic emancipation should have been, as they may think, rudely cast to the winds.'1
That there has been in fact a breach of the conditions on which emancipation was granted, is perhaps what few unprejudiced minds would be prepared to deny. But equity must, I think, acquit the Roman Catholics in the case. They have not, I believe, intentionally or voluntarily broken through the conditions of emancipation. We must endeavour to understand the real cause of their apparent perfidy.
Let it not be imagined then for a moment that the Roman Catholic hierarchy and people, in their many declarations to the English Government on doctrinal subjects, and especially on the rights of the Papacy, spoke without the direct sanction and authority of the Pontiffs. Every Roman Catholic bishop, priest, and theologian living knew as perfectly well as all those now living, that all questions regarding faith and morals, and the general belief of the faithful, are strictly reserved to the Pontiff; that they are amongst the cause majores, the casus reservati, which belong exclusively to the cognisance of the Pope. Not a step could have been taken in these matters, not a declaration made, not an oath sworn, that was not
| Newman, Letter to Duke of Norfolk, p. 14, 15.
directly prescribed by the Popes. It is impossible that it could have been otherwise ; where a Church was, as in this case, subject to the Propaganda.'
The English Government was perfectly well aware of this, for they were in communication with the priesthood, and therefore must have known the necessity of referring everything to Rome. They did not therefore act so foolishly as Father Newman charges them with doing. They knew, of course, just as well as he does, that without the sanction of Rome any declarations on religious matters made by Roman Catholics would not be worth the paper they were written on; but they knew perfectly well (what the archives of the Vatican, if accessible, would show) that every step taken by the Roman Catholics was dictated by the Pontiffs.
All this was known to the English Government, but most probably they were not aware of the casuistry by which the Papacy can evade all responsibility for engagements. They did not know the difference between public and private bulls ; bulls addressed to all the world, and bulls addressed to particular churches, and the twenty other distinctions brought to light by Father Newman. They did not know how easy it was for the Vatican to get rid of all engagements whatsoever, on the plea that contra utilitatem ecclesiasticam nil valet. But, putting aside for a moment the question of the British Government, what are we to say of the Papacy, when it is clear that, for the purpose of gaining political power in England, it sanctioned and directed its subject hierarchy in these countries in taking oaths and making professions which it firmly believed to be heretical, under the expectation that it would be able to avoid all responsibility for these proceedings by casuistical distinctions ?
The English Government, having fallen into the trap thus insidiously laid for it, the Papacy bided its time, and allowed twenty years to elapse before making any movement. It was necessary that the political power which it had acquired in England should consolidate itself: a premature movement might have caused so much indignation in England, that Catholic Emancipation might have been withdrawn, and the Papacy deprived of the nomination of members to the Parliament. When that danger seemed past the Papacy suddenly developed its plans. It created at a blow an Ultramontane hierarchy in England, and it imposed a Papal Legate on Ireland. From that moment Ultramontanism has been preached in these countries with unmitigated perseverance and vehemence; and the Gallicanism, to which emancipation was extended, has been denounced as the blackest of heresies, and at length formally condemned in the Vatican synod.
The Roman Catholics of England and Ireland have not been the real agents in these transactions : they have been the timid and unwilling tools of others. In fact, there must be a great confusion in their minds when they peruse the books on their shelves--the Roman Catholic controversial literature, catechisms, or dogmatic treatises of ten or twenty years standing-and compare them with the tenets now inculcated. So strong is the force of habit and early instruction, that it is said there are few Roman Catholics of mature years who would not, even now, reject the temporal power, the power of deposing kings, and absolving subjects from their allegiance, which they or their fathers rejected on oath. But as regards the Papal Infallibility, they are embarrassed and perplexed : they know that all their bishops used to deny on oath that it is an article of faith. They are aware that all the priesthood in Ireland were, till recently, taught out of a Maynooth class-book, which laid down and defended the following proposition : It
may with sound faith, and without any note of error or schism be denied, that the Roman Pontiff, even speaking ex Cathedra, has the gift of Infallibility.”
This, it may be remarked, was merely a restatement of the 4th Gallican article, drawn up by Bossuet. It can hardly be supposed that the Roman Catholics of these countries who were so long accustomed to receive with implicit faith this teaching—the teaching of the greater part of Europe till recently—can get rid at once (as if they were changing a coat for dinner) of tenets which till yesterday met them in every part of their literature. So absolutely is this the case, that those who had to write against Romanism twenty years since, can testify that they
i Newman, p. 36.