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sought and secured by Roman Catholics for denominational uses in New York City do not help to create confidence as to moderation in future demands. In truth, if moderation had ruled, a hierarchy three fourths of whose members were born out of the country would have been less ready to denounce a system of education which satisfies nine tenths of the people, and in its essential characteristics gives no valid ground of dissatisfaction to the rest.
Very recently the diplomacy of Leo XIII. has put somewhat of a check upon open revilement and condemnation of the public schools. Being apprised of the serious and growing antagonism, noted above, between an American and a foreign party in the Roman Catholic Church of this country, he sent in the fall of 1892 Mgr. Satolli, to act as his delegate in composing differences and bringing about unity of feeling and action. The outcome of Mgr. Satolli's mission is not yet (1894) fully determined; but he seems to have been convinced that the party favoring some accommodation to American sentiments has shown the better discretion, and that a brusque hostility to the public schools must act to the prejudice of Roman Catholic interests. Accordingly he has expressed himself (though in guarded terms) in a somewhat more tolerant manner respecting attendance at the public schools than that which many priests and prelates have employed. Those, however, who view the papacy in the whole scope of its administration, will build no large expectations on the seeming concession of a papal agent to American institutions. The dictate of policy is one thing; conviction and ultimate aim are quite different things. Doubtless the less hostile tone, if persisted in, will be favorable in some respects to Roman Catholic interests; but, on the other hand, it is likely to involve a forfeit in so far as it promotes in the Roman Catholic constituency the notion that Protestantism, after all, is not unalloyed evil, - not another name for contaminating license and irreligion. As to persistence in the relatively conciliatory policy, there is of course but an uncertain guarantee, since the temperature of the Vatican is subject to changes, and Roman weather has a speedy effect upon the bearing and action of the American prelates.
In the dogmatic range the action of the Roman Catholic Church in the United States has very little significance. Since the decisions of its councils must be sent to Rome for confirmation and revision before they can be published, they must in the nature of the case be conformable to the papal programme, and are not necessarily exactly representative of the mind of the episcopal body, except as it is the mind of that body to follow the dictation of Rome. Accordingly, though the councils are recorded to have abetted the dogmatic schemes of Pius IX. up to the time of the Vatican Assembly, it was found at that assembly that the declaration of infallibility was very unwelcome to a considerable fraction of the bishops. In January, 1870, twenty-four bishops from the United States and Canada signed a petition to the Pope urging him not to introduce the definition of infallibility to the council. Only about two fifths of these, it is true, gave a decided negative when the question came to a vote. But the earlier expression shows the practical, if not also the theoretical, aversion which they felt toward the project
of dogmatic absolutism.
Among the more eminent representatives of the episcopate in the United States, Spalding of Baltimore began with a qualified approval and ended with a zealous advocacy of the definition of infallibility. On the other hand, Kenrick of St. Louis and Purcell of Cincinnati opposed it uncompromisingly till its promulgation left no alternatives but submission or excommunication. Both of these prelates indicated with sufficient distinctness that they questioned, not merely the opportuneness of declaring infallibility, but the dogma itself. Kenrick, in an address printed at the time of the council, argued cogently against the alleged supports of the dogma in the Scriptures, as being sustained neither by the natural sense of the Gospel passages nor by the interpretations of the fathers. Purcell in a letter to the Bishop of Orleans declared in behalf of the American prelates : “ Several of us believe that ecclesiastical history, the history of the Popes, the history of the councils, and the tradition of the Church, are not in harmony with the new dogma ; and it is for this that we believe that it is very inopportune to wish to define, as of faith, an opinion that appears to us a novelty in the faith, that seems to us to be without solid foundation in Scripture and tradition; which, it appears to us, is contradicted by irrefragable monuments.” 2
Roman Catholic apology, as developed in this country, falls mainly under the category of rhetorical dogmatism. It circulates in general about two propositions, namely, the Roman Catholic Church is not so bad as represented, and convenience is the test of truth. The latter of course is not formulated in these terms; but they express precisely the underlying assumption of the argumentation which leaps to the conclusion that there is an infallible Church upon earth, and that the Romish Church, by reason of its numbers, historical continuity, and constant claim must be that one. In dealing with the former proposition the apologists have had a measure of success, an advantage having sometimes been given them by the too sweeping assertions of their opponents. But they have brought out extreme against extreme, and justly exposed themselves to the charge of whitewashing many dark events of history. As to proving the infallibility of the Romish Church, they have not yet offered the first instalment of a real evidence, since history gives no warrant for the supposition that convenience is the test of truth. In the light of its record one could far more reasonably deny infallibility to the Church triumphant in heaven than impute it to an earthly organization with its full catalogue of sins, corruptions, ignorances, tyrannies, and self-contradictions.
1 Concio Habenda at non Habita. 2 R. H. Clarke, Lives of the Deceased Bishops, iii. 223, 224.
In this line of rhetorical dogmatism the convert Orestes A. Brownson who landed in the Roman Catholic Church after sailing through Presbyterianism, Universalism, Unitarianism, agnosticism, socialism, and eclecticism — has played a rôle second to none. Proving facts by ideals, or what he takes to be ideals, identifying the Romish Church unqualifiedly with the supernatural order, casting Protestants out of court as having no right to judge the Church since they belong to the realm of sheer naturalism, he of course makes easy work with his opponents and moves onward with a triumphant air. Difficulties which have been troublesome to many Roman Catholic writers in no wise disturb this American Joseph de Maistre. For example, he finds in the history of the papacy no trace of usurped authority or unrighteous arrogance.
6 All the power, he says, “ that it can be proved the Pope ever claimed, as representative of the spiritual order, in temporals, was actually defined to be of faith by Boniface VIII. in the bull Unam Sanctam, which has never been and never can be abrogated, if we may believe Clement V., who, when Philip the Fair demanded its recall, answered that he could not recall it because it contained a dogmatic definition.” The exercise of this power, he
? claims, has always been managed with righteousness and discretion. “ We grant,” he writes, “ that the Pope has excommunicated princes and nobles, deposed kings and emperors, and absolved their subjects from their allegiance; but in this he has only done his duty as the spiritual father of Christendom, and what was required by humanity as well as by religion.”? The State, he
2 assumes, belongs completely to the sphere of subjection and service. “To deny the supremacy of the Church in temporals is only to release the temporal order from its subjection to divine sovereignty. ... The State is only the inferior court, bound to receive the law from the supreme court, and liable to have its decisions reversed on appeal.” 3
In picturing the character and destiny of Protestants, Brownson ranks them as obdurate culprits rather than
i Brownson's Review, April, 1856. 2 Essays and Reviews, p. 203.
8 Ibid pp. 283, 284.