Page images

sity of Oxford—the spirit which has succeeded hitherto in thwarting every such attempt, even when advocated by Dr. Newman; which suppressed, by Papal command, the one periodical organ of Roman Catholicism in England which possessed any claim to intellectual merit_The Home and Foreign Review'-and which we fear will only be strengthened by the appointment of Dr. Wiseman's successor, has triumphed absolutely in France. What has been the consequence may be read in the calm words of Döllinger, certainly no willing witness against, if not a biassed witness in favour of Romanism.

In his speech on ‘The Past and Present of Catholic Theology,'

he says:

• Better things, much better things may fortunately be said of France [than of Italy). There we find above all what is entirely wanting in Italy, a courageous, vigorous, and well chosen band of learned laymen who defend the cause of the faith and the Church in literature with emphasis, dignity, spirit, and ability. And as for the clergy, I need only pronounce the names

of Gerbet, Maret, Lacordaire, Gratry, Bantain, Dupanloup, Ravignan, Felix, and it will be admitted that there are men in the ranks of the French clergy who understand the wants of their age and nation, who know how to animate intellectually and to penetrate into the spirit of the doctrine which has been delivered to them by their school, and by that means to act mightily and successfully on the religious and moral feelings of their fellow countrymen. But if we ask, is there no Dalberg there? where are there in France the true theologians, the equals and followers of Petau and Bossuet and Arnauld ? where the men of fundamental and comprehensive learning ? There is no answer. France has no theologians because she has no high school of theology, not one school even which teaches the theological sciences. She has only eighty or eighty-five seminaries which may be very good, even excellent, as pastoral educational establishments, but which to German ideas, at least, can scarcely count as scientific institutes, and which furnish such scanty primary instruction that for the greater majority of their pupils it is quite impossible at a later time to rear the solid edifice of thorough and comprehensive theological learning on such a frail and faulty foundation. I do not know what reasons have deterred the French Church during the last fifty years from making any attempt at founding a common and central school for theology and the kindred branches of science. One main difficulty, which no means have been found for obviating, may be the state of the institutions for the education of the lower and middle classes, as indeed it was lately found when the Catholic University of Dublin was established that in the absence of good intermediate schools a University is like a ship without water. But things will not remain thus much longer. There is increasing anxiety that the French clergy will be driven more and more out of the bosom of society and national life, will be forced Vol. 118.-No. 236.

2 m


more and more into an isolated and caste-like position, and will forfeit more and more its influence on the male parts of the population which has already been so much weakened. Looking at such a state of things, we Germans have every reason to be thankful that Universities still exist among us, and that theology is represented at them.'

This is the terrible alternative, we believe, before that nation. The great Church of France is being so weakened by the spread of this subtle poison of ultramontane principles that she can no longer witness for the truth of Revelation with her ancient power, before her sharp-witted and busy people. It needs long and careful thought to estimate the wonderful change which has passed over her before those spiritual heavens in which the Eagle of Meaux soared with so majestic a flight could be overshadowed by such dark clouds as those which hang so thick around us everywhere now. We have ourselves, when arguing with a distinguished French ecclesiastic, been met, when we quoted Bossuet, by a shrug of the shoulders, and an assurance that the great champion of their faith himself was vraiment presque hérétique.' At such a time it is well to be reminded what those Gallican Liberties were for which he strove.

He had just been promoted after the termination of the Dauphin's education to the see of Meaux when he preached the opening sermon at the assembly of the clergy of France in 1682. The sermon was an omen of what followed, for it claimed the primacy for St. Peter, with an accompanying caution as to the humility with which the exercise of such a power should be accompanied. Under Bossuet's influence the assembly of the clergy passed the four celebrated propositions which are the basis of that claim for limiting the assumptions of Rome, which is so well known under the name of the Gallican Liberties. The first declares that the Papal power extends only to things spiritual which concern eternal salvation. The second, that it in no way derogates from the authority of the decisions of the Council of Constance, in its fourth and fifth Decrees on the authority of General Councils. The third, that it should be limited by the Canon, and by the rules and usages adopted by different National Churches, and so amongst others by the Church of France. The fourth, that though the Pope is expected to decide questions of the faith for all Churches, yet that his decisions can be revoked so long as they have not been sanctioned by the consent of the Church.

Innocent XI. utterly repudiated these propositions, and demanded of Louis XIV. their formal disavowal. His response, characteristic of the man, was to order by an edict that they


should be registered by all the Parliaments and Universities and theological faculties, and that none should be made licentiate or doctor till he had maintained a thesis in support of them.*

Throughout the Pontificate of Innocent XI. there was no adjustment of the conflict. The short Pontificate of Alexander succeeded. On the 4th of August, 1690, he passed a Constitution, annulling all that had been done in the assembly of 1682. But he did not venture to publish the bull till the 30th of January, 1691, the eve of his death. The informal bull was simply overlooked by Louis. Cardinal Pignatelli, who succeeded as Innocent XII., was supposed to be far more favourable to France. But the conflict between the Regale and the Pontificale still continued. The new Pope, like his predecessors, refused bulls for the consecration of thirty-seven Bishops unless the king yielded. The necessities of Louis forced him to a certain amount of concession in the year 1693. Bossuet, the great author of the propositions, repaired to Rome, and, after three successive attempts, a form of so-called retractation was adopted, with which the Pope was satisfied. Each one of the Bishops-designate wrote severally to the Pope the stipulated letter, in which he declared that he regarded all that was determined or ordered in the proscribed assembly with regard to the ecclesiastical power or action of the Pontiff as if it had not been ordered, and they bound themselves to deliberate no more on what had been by him held to be contrary to the interest of the Church.f The King suspended his order. With this Rome professed itself satisfied; though the claims to liberty which the French Church had always maintained, and which the four celebrated propositions only embody with greater distinctness, were never really disavowed, and were energetically repeated in the letter of Louis to the Cardinal de la Tremoil, in 1713.1

How different is this aspect of the great French Church from that which it exhibits now. Then the Episcopate, headed by Bossuet as its chosen chief, was doing noble battle for the freedom of their own communion. The same body is now seen bowing abjectly before the whisper of the Vatican, trembling before the secret threats of the General of the Jesuits, or flocking obediently to Rome to take their humble part in registering the infallible decrees of the occupant of the Chair of St. Peter in favour of the Immaculate Conception in 1854; submitting to have, by simple Papal power, à disputed opinion—against

* Sismondi, · Histoire de la France,' xviii. 25-28.
† Sismondi, •Histoire de la France,' xviii. 183.
See ‘Histoire de Bossuet,' par le Cardinal de Bausset, 298-302.
2 m 2


which none had stood more firmly than their own fathersturned into an article of the faith ; or declaring, in 1862, the absolute necessity of the temporal sovereignty of the Supreme Pontiff.

All this, moreover, is in exact accordance with every other change in this once famous Church; with the surrender of its ancient liturgy and the adoption of the Roman in its place; and lastly—though not least—with the new extravagance of its Mariolatry. It is most painful to see the growth of this terrible development. It possesses not only the frivolous and weak, but seems to subdue to itself all the most robust spirits of the existing French Church. How fearful is it to read that almost the last words of such a man as the Abbé Desgenettes were, . La dévotion au saint et immaculé Cœur de Marie est le principe et le centre de toute dévotion!'* But so it is: this is the natural development of the doctrine of the Immaculate Conception, and it is stamping its revolting features on the literature, the devotion, and the art of Roman Catholic France. Dr. Wordsworth, in his «Tour in Italy't notes one instance of this which is too remarkable not to be repeated. The favourite Roman defence for the whole system of Mariolatry is, that it is nothing more than a high honour paid to the great doctrine of the Incarnation ; that the Blessed Virgin is, as it were, the nimbus surrounding the humanity of the Eternal Son; that she is never contemplated in the acts which we condemn as separate from Him, but always as the shrine wherein HE dwelt when He deigned for our sakes to become man; that in this sense the Glories of Mary' and such offices, with which we reproach the present Church, would, if our minds were duly filled as theirs are with the great mystery of the Incarnation, be more fitly termed the Glories of her Incarnate Son. All men whose minds are properly endued with Christian charity will delight to believe that so indeed it has been with many devout souls who seem to those without to have drawn perilously near to creatureworship. Such an idea seems to be stamped upon many of the great creations of the ancient painters' genius. In these the Virgin-beautiful and royal as she is in her simplicity-is felt to be the adjunct of the Divine Babe. Wonderfully is this expressed in Raphael's noble picture in the Dresden Gallery. Even in that blaze of glory, the countenance of the Infant speaks of commanding majesty, that of the Virgin of faith and supplication. But it is not only in such vast creations of matchless genius

* • Vie de l'Abbé Desgenettes,' par M. Desfossés.
+ Vol. ii. pp. 286, 287.


that this subordination of the Mother to the Child is expressed. It is the traditional rule of all the earlier Christian painters. Let any one cast his eye over the walls of our own National Gallery, and he will mark everywhere the same feature, running through every school, and more or less distinctly impressed on every picture. He will find it preeminent in Pietro Perugino, Francia, and Domenico Ghirlandajo; but he may trace it as essentially present in the Madonnas of Filippo and Filippino Lippi, of Pinturicchio, of Marco Basante, of Battista Cima, of Mantegna of Padua, and of Garofalo. It was, in short, then the rule which religion had imprinted upon art, But now,' Dr. Wordsworth tells us his friend, 'a distinguished French layman, a member of the Institut,' said to him, 'now, you see, they have taken away the Divine Child from His mother's arms, and they exhibit the Blessed Virgin standing as a goddess on the altars of our churches, with her hands outstretched towards the people, as if she alone were the Arbitress or the Dispenser of all graces and favour to man,'—“Comme dispensatrice de toutes les graces," were his words. 'I observed this attitude,' says Dr. Wordsworth, also in the Maison Mère of the “Sisters of Charity,” in the Rue du Bach, No. 140. This change has been introduced since my former visit in 1854."*

What will be the end of this new course on which the Gallican Church has entered it is most difficult to forecast. Its immediate effect, beyond all question, has been to alienate from her, to a fearful degree, the whole educated and masculine mind of the nation. Who can calculate what might not have been the return to faith and worship in that people, on whose whole character of old the lines of religious belief and devout action were so deeply marked, if, in the first great reaction from the horrors of their infidel Revolution, the Church of their fathers had stood before them in the simplicity and love of the Gospel ; if she, with God's words and the ancient creeds on her lips, had shown them how to reconcile reason and Revelation, true liberty and ardent Faith? That opportunity has been let slip; and let slip in spite of all the efforts of some of her noblest sons. Even of her bishops, some foresaw the evils which this blind exaltation of the Papacy was bringing on her; none, perhaps, with greater clearness than Monseigneur Claude-Hippolyte Clausel de Montals, the able and venerable Bishop of Chartres, and cousin of the eloquent and noble-hearted Frayssinous, Bishop of Hermopolis. It is touching to find the old man in almost his latest publication mourning

* Dr. Wordsworth’s ‘Tour in Italy,' vol. ii., p. 287.

« EelmineJätka »