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Literary corruption in France, the consequence of anti-Catholic
doctrines-Political absolutism the antithesis of the Catholic Church—The Catholic Church the only authority that has maintained the positively moral character of marriageMorals in Spain and Italy contrasted with those in Protestant countries-Average illegitimacy greater amongst the latterImmorality in the north of Europe-Statistics of immorality in England.
HE assertion is frequently made by the
modern school of liberals that all the continental literature that is in vogue is
vitiated by a current of immorality, and that those nations which may be designated as Catholic are more immoral than those that are Protestant.
In order to appreciate things in their true light it is
necessary to bear in mind, with regard to the literature thus denounced, that the writers, although nominally Catholic by the accident of their birth, practically reject the teaching of the Church, and are therefore outside her pale. In almost every case they borrow their weapons of war from Paganism and the principles of the Renaissance. Thus most of the literary characters and politicians in France who have worked for the emancipation of the mind have been tainted with a shade of immorality, whilst those who respect morals are, in almost every instance, partisans of the Church.
In England and America men uphold at the same time synonymously religion, morality, and liberty.
M. Taine, a Positivist, and M. Prevost-Paradol make the assertion that the principle of morality in France is based on honour, whilst in England it is based on a sense of stern duty.
There is much that is true in these arguments, though there are many misconceptions. For instance, the principal writers in vogue in France, such as Sainte-Beuve, About, Sardou, and Alexandre Dumas, are all anti-Catholic in sentiment and feeling; their works are deeply tinged with immorality, but they have been translated into English and German, and
form some of the most popular literature in England and Prussia.
The giants of contemporary French literature, such as Châteaubriand, Gratry, Autran, Laprade, Montalembert, Dupanloup, and Lacordaire, have all been Catholics; and it is a remarkable fact that some of the most eminent writers throughout Europe, such as Dr. Newman and Dr. Lingard in England, Joseph Görres in Germany, Manzoni in Italy, and Balmez in Spain have been also Catholics.
We do not wish to deny that the pious remnant of Protestants in the present day are more pure, more moral, and more Christian than Mirabeau (the friend of Frederick II.), Saint Just, and Robespierre, nor do we refuse to admit that sincere Protestantism (i.e. incomplete Christianity) is superior to Paganism; but no proof of moral superiority of Protestantism over the Universal Church ever has or ever will be shown.
Let it be clearly understood that we do not claim for Catholics impeccability from the mere fact that they accept the decrees of the Church. It is not sufficient to profess the faith ; to be a real Catholic it is necessary to put its teaching into practice and fulfil its precepts.
It must also be borne in mind that in Catholic
countries such as Belgium, France, Italy, Spain and Portugal, and parts of Germany, social and political revolutions, fomented by the social influence of Protestantism, have produced a state of things that renders it very difficult, not to say impossible, to distinguish those that are real Catholics from the mass of the nominal Catholic population. Everywhere the good grain is found mingled in close proximity with the bad. One thing is certain, that, even from the historical point of view, no Church in the annals of the world has maintained with such force the Divine precepts of the Sixth 1 and Ninth Commandments as the Catholic Church. Numbers of people would be excellent Catholics if they could suppress these two obstacles that obstruct the indulgence of their passions.
The curse of the heresy of the sixteenth century
1 The division of the Ten Commandments used by the Catholic Church is here followed. Amongst Protestants the allusion would refer to the seventh and tenth.
The Commandments as given in Holy Scripture are not divided at all. Hence it has come to pass that two different methods of dividing them have prevailed. Among the Jews that arrangement was followed which Protestants have adopted, and this distribution is to be found in some of the Fathers. But the arrangement used in the Catholic Church is that which was followed by St. Augustine, and upheld as the most natural.
consisted in the fact that it denied the sacramental character of marriage, and thus lowered the tone and standard of morality.
The Evangelical Consistory assembled in full council, authorized Philip, the generous Elector of Hesse, on the strength of Melancthon's tolerant maxims, to seat two Electresses upon the throne at the same time.
The King of Prussia, Frederick William II., who had given his right hand to his queen, gave his left to Countess Julia Von Voss.
This second marriage ceremony was performed on the 25th of May, 1787, in the chapel of the castle at Charlottenburg, by Zoellner, the chaplain of the royal family at the Court.
Liberalism, which is in some respects a degeneration from Protestantism, is doctrinally incapable of stemming the natural consequences of the suppression of the sacrament of marriage.
Outside the Catholic faith practised in spirit and in truth, people can doubtless be chaste, but it is because they more or less put in practice the teaching and habits of the Church.
In order to be able to make the assertion that the sincere practice of the Catholic faith can produce immorality, one must be totally ignorant of the whole