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education have in general been anything rather than ambitious of Catholic support; and that they would often rather fight alone, than make common cause with a creed which they abhor. Catholics owe it mainly to Mr. Gladstone,-such (we emphatically repeat) is our own strong conviction,—that they have not been visited with far more gross and unmitigated injustice, than has in fact befallen them.
And this leads us to another remark. Canon Oakeley refers, in one or two parts of his letter, to the insulting treatment which Catholics have received : in that, e. g., Catholic schools are not even designated by the name “Roman Catholic,” and that Catholic bishops and priests are limited as to their power of entering a Government-aided Catholic school.* Now we hope we shall not be misunderstood when we say, that, to our mind, every insult inflicted by Parliament on Catholics, which is not also an injury, is a positive and great benefit. There is a vast amount of (what we may familiarly call) anti-Catholic steam, latent in public men of both parties, which will inevitably vent itself somehow or other; and, so far as it vents itself in insult, there is less to fear in the way of injury. Hard words, according to the proverb, are indefinitely more tolerable than broken bones. Or to put the thing more worthily and truly, the Church will most gladly endure to be called by every ignominious name, and treated with every contumelious device, so only she can thereby earn greater liberty of training towards heaven those souls, for which her Master died. To suppose there can be any real sympathy between two such bodies as the British Parliament and the Catholic Church, argues surely a strange blindness to the most conspicuous facts of our time.
These are the general observations which we have at this moment to offer, on the state and prospects of Catholic primary education in England : and it will have been seen that our apparent differences with Canon Oakeley arise almost exclusively from misconception of each other's language. But a special theological question has been incidentally raised, which we must not conclude without noticing. Our readers will remember, that an unnamed correspondent of Canon Oakeley's has criticised the view which we put forth in April, concerning
* At the same time what does this limitation amount to? Catholic managers may have any religious observance they like in their schools for any time, and on as many days, as they please, if they merely abstain from marking in the registers on those days, and give liberty to non-Catholic children of going away for the occasion. Nay, and two days in every year, chosen by themselves, may be entirely devoted to religious work, and yet count towards the Parliamentary grant.
Pius IX.'s Fribourg Brief. This Brief, he considers, "distinctly says that schools, out of which the authority of the Church has been thrust, cannot be frequented.” “The Dublin,” he adds, “puts the Brief on one side by calling it an ideal, whereas it is distinctly practical, and was issued to meet a real fact. There is no more of the ideal about it than about a sentence in a court of law.” We contend for the exact contrary. It is a great pleasure to deal with an opponent who so unreservedly defers to Papal authority; and our controversy with him cannot but be most amicable. Yet we must argue (1) that the Brief says what our critic thinks it does not say; and (2) that it does not say what he thinks it does say. And we make one little preliminary remark. We pointed out in April (p. 416, note) that the Irish bishops consider the Brief to have been issued ex cathedrů; and we infer, from our critic's whole tone, that he (as well as ourselves) is of the same opinion. We shall word our arguments therefore on this assumption, though those arguments are substantially the same on either hypothesis.
Firstly then we are to ask, what is the direct infallible teaching of this Brief. And we have authentic information, as to the principal errors which Pius IX. intended therein to condemn, by referring to the 47th and 48th propositions of the Syllabus ; which are the two expressly laid down as censured by the Brief in question. They are as follows:
Prop. 47. “The best constitution of civil society requires that popular schools, which are open to children of every class, - and that public institutions generally, which are devoted to teaching, literature, and science, and providing for the elucation of youtlı,-be exempted from all authority of the Church, from all Her moderating influence and interference, and subjected to the absolute will of the civil and political authority (so as to be conducted] in accordance with the tenets of the civil rulers and the standard of the common opinions of the age.”
Prop. 48.“That method of instructing youth can be approved by Catholic men, which is disjoined from the Catholic Faith and the Church's power; and which regards exclusively, or at least principally, knowledge of the natural order alone and the ends of social life on earth."
So far then is it from being true, as our critic thinks, that there is nothing of the ideal about this Brief, that the very opposite is true. The principal errors which it was intended to condemn, were errors establishing a false ideal concerning the work of popular education. We may further infer, with some confidence,-though this is irrelevant to the question between our critic and ourselves,—that as on the one hand Pius IX. spoke ex cathedrà in his condemnation of a falar ideal; so on the other hand he spoke ex cathedrà in his exposition of the true one. This exposition is contained in the passage, which the Irish bishops quoted, and which we reprinted. Secondly, our critic considers the Brief to “say distinctly."
, that certain schools “cannot be frequented.” Now there is but one passage in the Brief, on which he can possibly found this opinion; and we will at once place it before our readers.
Certainly indeed, when, in whatever places and regions, a most pernicious plan of this kind were undertaken or accomplished, of expelling from schools the Church's authority, and when youths were miserably exposed to loss concerning the Faith, then the Church not only would be bound (deberet) to attempt everything with intensest effort and never spare any pains that the said youths should receive the necessary Christian instruction and education, but also would be compelled to admonish all the faithful, and declare to them that such schools, being adverse to the Catholic Church, could not in conscience be frequented.
Our critic, it appears then, understands the Pontiff to declare by his Fribourg Brief, that no Catholics in any part of the world may in conscience send their children to any schools, from which the Church's authority is so expelled, as it is in those English Catholic schools which now accept Government aid. Yet he need not have looked beyond the British Islands themselves, to see that he has made a great mistake somewhere. He will not deny that the Irish National schools are to the full as much removed from the Church's authority, as are those which he denounces. Now Pius IX. was specially consulted about these schools; and he responded that Catholics may be permitted in conscience, under existing circumstances, to send their children thither. What he had expressly sanctioned in one place, he could not intend by this Brief to declare unlawful in all places.
Our critic then is certainly in error; and if we look again at the wording of the Brief, we shall see where his error lies. In the first place, one thing will be at once seen: Pius IX. does not, as wielding the Church's authority, declare that certain schools may not be frequented; but expresses an opinion, augury, judgment, that under certain circumstances the Church would be compelled to declare this. Moreover, our critic must consider him mistaken in this opinion, augury, judgment; for he thinks that the very contingency contemplated by the Pope has now arisen ; while it is indubitable that the Church has issued no such declaration, as that which tho Brief (if so be) teaches us to expect. Our critic's interpretation of the Brief, then, is less respectful to Pius IX. than is our
We do not indeed ourselves admit, that the Church's authority is removed from Catholic Government-aided schools: still we do not lay stress on this consideration ; because clearly that authority is removed from those non-Catholic schools, which Catholic children are unhappily obliged by law in various instances to frequent. We say then, that the Pope's words are to be understood with the obvious and recognized qualification: 'Unless circumstances so change, as to affect the balance of spiritual good.” This is no subtlety or refinement, but the broadest common sense. Take for illustration an extreme case. In this that or the other country, certain given schools give admirable secular instruction, but are imbued with an anti-Catholic spirit; while a parent has the fullest liberty, so far as the State is concerned, to send thither his children or not to send them. He is strictly obliged in conscience not to send them; for he may not obtain for them
good secular instruction, at the price of peril to their souls. This is indubitable Catholic doctrine. But now let us suppose circumstances totally to change ; let us suppose, e.g., the State to enforce attendance at the schools. Would it not be simply childish to infer, from the indubitable Catholic doctrine above mentioned, that under these new circumstances a parent is obliged in conscience to resist tooth and nail the policeman, who comes to summon thither his children? and that they again (if they have arrived at the age of reason) are obliged in conscience to refuse entering the schools, until dragged there by main force? We have supposed the extreme case, of State authority enforcing non-attendance; but, short of that, Government may, in a great variety of ways, put forth such strong pressure, that much greater spiritual harm than good would result from combined Catholic recalcitration. The doctrine remains intact, that instruction may not be sought at the price of spiritual evil; but it by no means follows from this doctrine, that a less spiritual evil may not laudably be incurred to avoid a greater. And it is absurd to suppose that Pius IX., in his Fribourg Brief, intended to deny by a sidewind this obvious truth.
In fact, if our critic wishes to take this Brief for his guide, he ought surely to arrive at the conclusion directly opposed to his own. Pius IX. considers that if a certain contingency arose, the Church would issue a certain declaration. But she has not issued such a declaration; therefore the contemplated contingency has not arisen.
The importance then of the Fribourg Brief consists, not in its laying down any rule which binds under all possible situations, but in its placing before Catholics the true ideal of popular education. The impossibility under which English Catholics find themselves of practically pursuing this ideal in its integrity, is an evidence of the disastrous circumstances in which they are placed. We do not think they can pass through the present crisis, without undergoing serious spiritual evils. But we think that the best method of minimizing those evils is that, which has been indicated (it seems to us) by the bishops, which we sketched in our last number, and which we have now endeavoured more fully to explain and vindicate.