The Dublin Review, Vol. 31, 1878, pg. 463 - 478
ART. IX.—THE ASSENT DUE TO CERTAIN PAPAL UTTERANCES.https://play.google.com/books/reader?id=ozpDAQAAMAAJ&printsec=frontcover&pg=GBS.PA463
IN the July issue of this Review we laid down, as plainly and as clearly as the subject-matter allowed, the doctrine which we go on to defend in the present article, and, having then adduced arguments from a two-fold source to uphold our important thesis, we shall now, without further preface, resume the subject where we left off, by proceeding at once to the third class of proofs already marked out. “ First, we shall show, 'as if by a negative proof, that the doctrine of some theologians, such as Suarez, Bellarmine, and Gotti, which has been said to be opposed to our teaching, is for the most part fully in harmony with it, and even something more. Then we shall adduce arguments of a really positive character, by showing how the doctrine of our thesis has been held by theologians in general, and especially by Zaccaria, Gregory XVI., and Benedict XIV., who may justly be regarded on the matter as organs of the entire teaching Church.”*
I. The teaching of Suarez has been brought forward as in direct opposition to what we maintain in the thesis under our consideration, and, as Suarez is a host in himself, it is of much importance indeed for us to see whether he stands on our side or is leagued with our adversary. On what grounds has it been alleged that Suarez is opposed to our doctrine on this _ head, and that, consequently, what he teaches is opposed to the interpretation of the substance of the Munich Brief, which we deem the only obvious, natural, and truthful one ? Because he holds that the consent of Catholics in matters of doctrine is an infallible criterion of truth! Whence it has been argued
that intellectual submission is, indeed, due “ to those points of doctrine which are held by the common and constant consent of Catholics as theological truths and conclusions,” for the plain and simple reason that such submission should be tendered to an infallible authority, which exists in the present case. In like manner it has been contended, if mental consent is to be given “ to the doctrinal decisions which are issued by the Pontiﬁcal Congregations,” it is only when and because these decisions are decrees which emanate from that authority which rules supreme, and is unquestionably infallible. The bold conclusion is that this, nothing else and no more, was what Suarez meant and what Suarez taught.*
By referring to the great doctor’s works, even to that portion of them which is adduced as unfriendly to our purposeﬂ' we can readily gather what was his meaning, and. what his express teaching, nor do we ﬁnd the least reason for dreading lest our cause may suffer from the research. Concerning the authority of the consent of Catholics in matters of doctrine, or, what is the same, concerning the Church’s passive infallibility, her infallibility in believing, —- Suarez teaches, ﬁrst of all, that the Church cannot sin against faith, cannot fall away from the true faith, by heresy. He lays down, in the second place, that in those matters which the Church believes as being certainly of faith she cannot be led astray by any ignorance. Thirdly, what is altogether to our purpose, and fully answers our end,—that in those points of doctrine which the Church does not indeed believe as certainly of faith, but which, nevertheless, hold such a place in her convictions that any opposite opinion would be accounted deserving of some censure -—that even in these the presumption is, and it must be held, that the Church is not wrong, although there is no real certainty that in these points she is infallible.
This is what the great theologian who is said to be against us says, and of his very words this is as faithful a translation as we can offer. “ I say, in the third place, that although it is not certain that those things which the Church believes as pious and probable are true, still, if the entire Church consents in anything of this sort, it must be held that in this she does not err, not only that she commits no practical, but even that she commits no speculative, error. The reason of the ﬁrst part of the assertion—why it is not certain that matters so believed as pious and probable are true—is because it is not agreed on as of certainty that the Church is ruled by the Holy Ghost in all these things, since they do not belong to the faith, and are not necessary for salvation. The reason of the second part of the assertion,— viz., why it must be held that even in these the Church does not err,—is because the entire Church, even when considered only as a human society, in which there are very many wise men, has the greatest authority that exists except the divine. If, therefore, the whole Church judges—by its belief—that anything is probable, it evidently is so, and in this way the danger of practical error is at once done away with, whilst it becomes most likely that it is even true in reality, especially as it is likely that the Holy Ghost gives particular aid and light to the doctors of the Church. If this is admitted with regard to truths of the natural order, as we have; said,* how much more should it be believed with reference to the matter of which we now treat? But it must be borne in mind that there are degrees in these things, as can be gathered from what we have to say,1- for although some of them are not so certain that opinions contrary to them would be heretical, still they are sometimes very closely connected with principles of faith, and then opinions contrary to them are erroneous. Sometimes they are sustained by the great consent of the fathers, and then the opposite teaching is rash.
After this quotation it must indeed seem rather astonishing that Suarez should have been put forward as teaching some thing at variance with what we defend; for surely there is nothing here that is out of keeping with our thesis, nothing that is not completely in harmony with it, and a good deal too which seems to be a strong defence and conﬁrmation of it. For it is clear as light of day from these words of the illustrious theologian that he never taught that the only authority to which intellectual assent is due is an infallible authority
. He expressly teaches that this assent is at times due to an authority which is not infallible when he says that “although it is not certain that those things which the Church believes as pious and probable are true, still, if the entire Church consents in anything of this sort, it must be held-—-tenendum est—that in this she does not err; not only that she commits no practical, but even that she commits no speculative, error.” The Church’s belief on the matters referred to is not an infallible criterion of their truth, and yet it must be held that the Church does not make any mistake in believing them ; that, in consequence, it is practically safe to believe them, or assent to them
; that the presumption is that they really are true, and that not to believe them or assent to them would be censurable. The reason of the obligation of giving mental submission in such cases is found further on. “The entire Church, even when considered only as a human society in which there are very many wise men, has the greatest authority that exists except the divine,” and, moreover, “it is likely that the Holy Ghost gives particular aid and light to the doctors of the Church,” who, of course, exercise a mighty inﬂuence on the Church taught and on her belief. The language of Suarez corresponds most faithfully with our fundamental distinction between the infallible truth and the infallible security or safety of a doctrine, and with what we deem the only sure means of avoiding practical and speculative mistakes.
What he declares to be the greatest authority on earth except the infallible, except the divine, reaches its culminating point in the Roman congregations, which are the exponents, the adequate and, humanly speaking, most trustworthy exponents, of the mind and convictions of the entire believing Church. Among the matters referred to by Suarez as having no infallible authority to guarantee their truth, which still, he says, must be maintained, should be found, no doubt, “those points of doctrine which are held by the common and constant consent of Catholics as theological truths and conclusions so certain that, although the opinions opposed to these same points of doctrine cannot be called heretical, still they deserve some other theological censure.” This latter passage is found in the Munich Brief, as we have seen, in closest connection with “the doctrinal decisions which are issued by Pontiﬁcal congregations,” and for both classes of truths so connected at similar assent is exacted. It is thus that Suarez turns out to be a defender of our thesis instead of an adversary. He, no doubt, must not have thought the disciple above the master; and if, according to him, intellectual religious assent is due to the authority of the Church taught, even in matters on which its belief is not infallible, much more must it be due to the authority of the Church teaching, even in those instances under our consideration in which it is not necessarily infallible.
Another great authority cited as hostile to us is that of Cardinal Bellarmine; and surely, from what we know of his teaching, of his history, and especially of the prominent part which he took in the remarkable case of Galileo, his is the very last name that we would expect to see quoted as that of a theologian differing in opinion from us on the present subject. The following is the passage from the writings of the renowned Cardinal, which has been brought against us as an objection :—-“ In the third place, we are bound, under pain of anathema, to believe the Church in all things, as is evident from Matthew xviii. :—‘ And if he will not hear the Church, let him be to thee as the heathen and publican.’ All the councils, moreover, declare anathema against those who do not assent to the Church’s decrees. But it would be an iniquitous thing to be bound under so heavy a penalty to assent to things that would be uncertain and might sometimes be false.”* From this quotation it has been very forcibly contended, that if Cardinal Bellarmine held that it would be an iniquitous thing to be bound under so heavy a penalty, as that of anathema, to assent to things that would be uncertain, and might some times be false, he must hold, in consequence, that it would be an iniquitous thing to exact assent to the utterances to which we say it is due, and his doctrine must be diametrically opposed to ours.
We answer, as Cardinal Franzelin does with a just indignation (p. 143), that the words objected contain nothing at all objectionable to our thesis; that what they do contain is a strong proof of the necessity of an infallible authority in the Church, which we and all Catholics acknowledge; that, there fore, the teaching embodied in them stands parallel to, and in perfect conformity with, that now put forward by us, and by no means against or out of keeping with it.
In the chapter of his Treatise on the Church Militant from which the above quotation has been taken, Cardinal Bellarmine treats the question of the Church’s Infallibility, asks himself, can the Church err, and replies. The heading of the chapter is a thesis—Ecclesiam non posse errare—that the Church cannot err. He then lays down the restrictions set by Calvin to this proposition. After that he says, “ Our opinion is that it is absolutely impossible for the Church to err, either in things which are absolutely necessary, or in others which she proposes to us to be believed or to be performed by us, no matter whether they are or are not expressly contained in the Scriptures. And when we say that the Church cannot err, we under stand this boon of all the faithful and of all the bishops, so that the sense of the proposition that the Church cannot err is, that what all the faithful hold as of faith must needs be true and of faith, and, likewise, that what all the bishops teach as belonging to the faith must needs be true and of faith.” Here we have the meaning of the proposition explained in very intelligible terms, and after this explanation the author goes on to prove, ﬁrst, how the entire Church taught must be infallible in its belief, and secondly, how the entire Church teaching must be infallible in what it does teach. Dealing with the ﬁrst part of the thesis he gives as a ﬁrst proof of it that, according to St. Paul (1 Tim. iii.), the Church is the pillar and the ground of truth. As its second proof he brings forward the fact that the Church is ruled and governed by Christ as her Head and Spouse, and by the Holy Ghost as her very life and soul ; ﬁnally, as a third proof, we ﬁnd him give the argument of the words we have quoted, as cited against us :—“ In the third place, we are bound,” &c. The context throws a good deal of light, as much as can be longed for, on Bellarmine’s teaching, and on the meaning of his words. No doubt what all the faithful believe as of faith must necessarily be true, and of faith. The Church of God cannot believe a lie. No doubt what all the bishops teach as of faith must necessarily be true and of faith.
The Church of God cannot teach falsehood for the truth. And if he that does not hear the Church is to be looked on as a heathen and publican, and if the Church smites with anathema, cuts off as a withered branch from her living trunk anyone who refuses to submit to her decrees, it follows that the Church possesses an infallible authority, and does exercise it, since it would unquestionably be an iniquitous thing to be bound under so dreadful a penalty to what would be uncertain, and might be false. But what else follows ? Does it follow, from what Bellarmine here says, that it would be an iniquitous thing to be bound too under pain of some less heavy censure to offer a religious intellectual submission to the doctrinal decisions of the Roman congregations ? Or does it follow, that the highest authority on earth short of the infallible has no right to require, from those who are subject to it, subjection of mind and of will to its dictates? Or does it follow, that Catholics can lawfully refuse this subjection—not that of divine faith, but the mental subjection of which we speak—on the plea that the authority requiring it is not absolutely infallible, and that, because this is so, the matters of teaching, for which it is called for, are uncertain, and may be false?
It is one thing to believe a truth by divine faith, as. God’s revelation and the Church’s teaching, and to be obliged to believe it in this way under pain of anathema; quite another religiously to submit one’s own private judgment and views to an authority of the very greatest weight, and to be bound to do so under pain of greater or less censure, according to circumstances. If infallibility is required in the ﬁrst case, as undoubtedly it is, it does not at all follow that it should be required in the second: there is no parity. Had our adversary but seen and understood this, he would have seen and understood that Cardinal Bellarmine’s doctrine is also ours. By means of a little more research, he would have been able to ﬁnd out, over and above this, not only that the doctrine of Bellarmine is ours, not only that the doctrine of all theologians in general is ours, but that ours is the doctrine of all Catholics, as Cardinal Bellarmine himself expressly says, in these other words of his which have, indeed, a telling application here :—All Catholics agree on two other points, not, indeed, with heretics, but only among themselves. The ﬁrst of these points is, that the Roman Pontiff with a general council cannot err in issuing decrees of faith or general precepts of morality. The second is, that when the Pontiff, either alone or with his particular council, lays down anything on a doubtful matter, he should be listened to with obedience by all the faithful, whether it is or is not possible for him to be wrong.”*
The mind of Bellarmine on the real subject before us is clearly shown forth here. If no language of his can fairly be shown to be in the slightest degree at variance or inconsistent with what we have laid down, it must certainly be admitted that this last statement is our thesis and its proof:—the authority of the Church in doubtful matters, even when it is not strictly infallible, must be “listened to with obedience,” must be obeyed by all the faithful—on this all Catholics are agreed.
A third “ mighty name ” declared to be hostile to us is that of Cardinal Gotti. We cannot for a moment admit that this distinguished theologian holds consistently any doctrine in consistent with our own. But since we cannot maintain that his language is free from serious ambiguity, we will abstain from citing him in our favour. Finally, we have to cope with an objection, a twofold objection, of a general character, which, although pushed forward with much boldness, is not on that account the more formidable. If things are as we would have them be, it is declared, the theological argument by which theologians prove the Roman Pontiffs infallibility necessarily falls to the ground, and the heresy of Gallicanism again raises up its smitten head. If, moreover,-—-it is further objected,——the distinctions laid down by us are to be admitted, they are well calculated to render the Supreme Pontiff’s infallible authority of no avail, practically and in the concrete, and they favour the denial of the infallibility of a decision put forth in any particular decree; since, it is asked, how can we know whether the Pope delivered his doctrinal judgment as the infallible teacher of the Church, or as a mere fallible ruler?
As regards the theological argument in proof of Papal infallibility, we hold that, far from suffering from the doctrine expounded by us, far from falling to the ground before it, it gains by it, presupposes it, and rests on it in a great measure.
The argument in question is thus given by Suarez: “It is a Catholic truth that the Sovereign Pontiff, defining ex-cathedra, is an unerring rule of faith when he authentically proposes anything to the universal Church, to be believed by her as of Divine faith.
This can be proved principally from the testimonies just quoted (Matthew xvi. 3 20, xxi.). For Christ gave Peter and his successors power to rule the Church most of all in doctrine, and in a singular manner, through the juridical power of interpreting and laying down truths to be believed, and of imposing the obligation of believing them. Therefore, this power necessarily carries with it infallibility, and the assistance of the Holy Ghost, that it may not err. This is proved, because it is necessary for the Church’s in fallibility in believing. For if the Pontiff, teaching in that way, could deceive her, she too could be deceived ; nay, would be forced into error, because she would be bound to believe.”
How can this argument suffer from the distinction made by us between ex-cathedra definitions and other decisions, and from-what we maintain of the assent due to each class of pronouncements respectively? Does it not rather gain by our statement, presuppose it, and in great measure rest on it? In the words of Suarez, the Pope is an unerring rule of faith, when defining ex-cathedra, when authentically proposing any thing to 'the entire Church to be believed as of Divine faith, and when imposing the obligation of so believing it. The understanding of this must necessarily gain from the under standing of the fact that some Papal utterances are ex-cathedra definitions, and that others are not; and that to the former Divine faith is due, to the latter religious intellectual submission.
Our statement, furthermore, is evidently presupposed in the proof advanced, and is such a stay to it, that, as it is, it could not stand without its support. If, however, the theological argument in question is, even in substance, much different from that which we have given, we cannot in deed account for its consistency with other theological principles held by Suarez and by us.
If it is required in principle that every authoritative act that exacts not reverential silence, or merely external obedience, but internal assent of any kind, even not of faith, must of necessity be infallible, we reject the principle, and deny that there does exist any such theological argument,—any such argument that has any foundation to rest on, either in revealed truth or in the general teaching of Catholic theologians.
If the doctrine of Papal infallibility does not lose, but gain, by the doctrine which we defend, the heresy of Gallicanism cannot gain, and must lose by it, and must keep down its smitten head before it. The Gallican system taught that the subject of infallibility, the infallible authority in the Church of God, is not the Roman Pontiff, but the universal Church, whether scattered all over the world or represented in her ecumenical Councils, even without her Head. It taught that, in consequence, assent of Divine faith was not due to the ex-cathedra definitions of the Roman Pontiffs. Any of its upholders would admit as due to them nothing more than a religious assent, or even a respectful silence; whilst all Gallicans were unanimous in denying that religious assent or anything beyond their respectful silence was due to such papal utterances as were not ex-cathedra, and, in particular, to the doctrinal decrees of the Roman congregations. If this was the heresy of Gallicanism, our system is its very opposite, its deadly enemy.
A few words now on the danger pointed out, that the distinctions laid down by us are well calculated to render the Pontiffs infallible authority of no avail, practically and in the concrete. The enemies of the Holy See, those who most' vehemently attacked the infallibility of the Pope, whether in the abstract or in the concrete, were precisely those who denied the truth of what we maintain, and who rejected the distinctions which we have laid down. The so-called Old Catholics, whom Cardinal Franzelin very justly calls New Protestants, are of this number. One of their leading organs, Frederic Schulte, in order to sustain heresy and attack the dogma of infallibility, thought it well, and even necessary, to direct all his energy towards showing the futility of the distinction between the ex-cathedra definitions and other public documents and declarations of the Sovereign Pontiffs. Rejecting this distinction, he concludes that, after the Vatican council, Catholics must hold as infallible definitions all Papal utterances issued by the Pope, no matter how, in virtue of his pastoral ofﬁce. Qui nimis probat nihil probat. This therefore clearly shows whether it is the teaching of our thesis or its opposite that is the better calculated to render the Pontiff’s infallible authority of no avail, practically and in the concrete. The Catholic dogma stands on its own merits, broad-based on unshaken truth; those who embrace and defend it do not go too far, avoid extremes, and sin neither by excess nor by defect.We acknowledge,—a fact which we have already noted down as furnishing a proof of our thesis,—“ that doubt may exist in the mind of many Catholics as to whether some particular document coming forth from the Holy See is or is not ex-cathedra.
In the case of such uncertainty, no Catholic could venture to think that he is free to accept or not accept, to submit or not submit to, the doctrine embodied in the declaration of which the authority is questioned. The only safe course would evidently be to subject the intellect as well as the will to all that is taught in this way. Whence it follows, that mental subordination should be given to doctrinal pronouncements, the absolute infallibility of which is not quite certain. The nature of the assent itself will, of course, be in accordance with the motive for which it is offered.* Thus the clearly-deﬁned distinctions, which mark in broad outline the degree and kind of certitude, the possibility of uncertainty and its actual existence in some particular instances, and the unmistakable infallibility, do not destroy, combat, or even weaken, but do mutually uphold, defend, and strengthen, each other.
II. Having endeavoured thus far to wield in our own defence the arms that had been raised against us ; having shown, and,we ﬂatter ourselves, not unsatisfactorily, that the theologians said to be arrayed against us stand on our side as able supporters; and having proved, more than was necessary, that the truths 'said to be difﬁculties in our way are rather proofs in our favour than what they were represented to be ,' it only remains for us, in order to complete the present division of our subject, to show how the doctrine of our thesis has been held by theologians in general, whom we ﬁnd represented by some reliable and thoroughly representative witnesses whose evidence should decide the verdict. The details into which we have already entered, on evidence of no dissimilar tendency, allow us, if they do not oblige us, to deal more summarily with this part.
Zaccaria, who was Professor of Ecclesiastical History in the Roman College, and is justly regarded as a theologian of great weight, inculcates the very doctrine of our thesis, and, in so doing, quotes a Brief addressed by Alexander 111., in 1660, to the Rector of the University of Louvain,--which Brief is, on this point, the same in substance as the Munich Brief, on which we have laid so much stress. He says, among other things, “ Let the authors of books submit themselves to the prohibitions of Rome with true docility and submission of mind, condemning what Rome condemns, and acknowledging that these prohibitions, according to their different qualities, have for author, or at least for ﬁrst fountain-head, the Supreme Pontiﬁ', whose authority, even when he does not exercise it in all its intensity, and does not direct it in the most solemn manner to the teaching of the universal Church, should prevail over the judgment of all private doctors and teachers.”* If the authority of the Pope, when exercised only in this way, should prevail over the judgment of all private doctors and teachers, it follows that these latter should submit their judgments to his decisions, even to those which are not directed in the most solemn manner to the instruction of the entire Church.
In another place Zaccaria says, “ I am persuaded that it belongs to the providenceof God not to permit that Rome, even out side the case in which the Pope speaks ex-cathedra, should condemn as an error a doctrine which in reality is not false. The justice of the prohibition is not to be examined, but is always to be supposed, unless it should be, what it never shall be, evidently extra Dei preceptum ; and, if the presumption is that the prohibition is just, what remains to be done but to obey ?”1' Here we ﬁnd a good reason given for the obligation stated in the words quoted before. It belongs to the providence of God not to permit that Rome, 9. Roman congregation, should condemn truth as an error. The case considered by Zaccaria is evidently our own, for he speaks of congregational decrees, and of those in particular that prohibit certain books, and proscribe the doctrine contained in them. The justice of the prohibition must never be questioned, but must always be supposed, and so with the justice of every declaration of similar authority. The presumption is in its favour, and as this is so, the subjects are bound to obey; not to examine or teach, but to submit their own judgments.Pope Gregory XVI.
is another very inﬂuential authority in support of the doctrine of our thesis,which he taught both before and after his elevation to the chair of St. Peter. In his learned and well-known work on the “ Triumph of the Holy See ” he shows at length the wiles of the enemies of the Church’s teaching, who by design and with ﬁxed purpose recognize no degrees in her sacred authority, confound the doctrinal pronouncements of the Holy See with one another, and place them all on the same level. He himself lays down as fundamental the distinction between declarations that are and declarations that are not ex cathedra. Linked with this distinction based on it, he has another which is somewhat peculiar, yet intelligible and perfectly true in his sense, viz. that between the Pope deﬁning solemnly and the Pope as a private doctor. The peculiarity is in this, that he terms the Pope a private doctor, not in his unofﬁcial writing and judgments only, as is usually understood, but always, even in doctrinal decisions ofﬁcially issued, when he does not teach ex-cathedra, in all the fulness of his power. He says : “As all that is resolved on in the council even regarding faith, without the express intention of defining, does not constitute a dogmatic decision; so, without that express intention on the part of the fathers, the Church defining cannot be said to be represented by them in these resolutions. The same application can easily be made to the Pope.
But when the Pope, after being consulted, answers and gives judgment, he shall, consequently, have the intention of giving judgment. Yes, no doubt, but when he does not exercise all the fullness of his authority, his intention is to deliver his decision as a theologian and private doctor. . . . Thus it is proved that the Pope can speak as head of the Church and as a private doctor.”*
What Gregory XVI. means by the Pope speaking as head of the Church is the Pope solemnly deﬁning a doctrine to be accepted and believed by the entire Church of which he is the head. His meaning in this, as well as in the sense he gives to “ private doctor,” is peculiar, as the Pope is generally understood to say and do much as head of the Church besides defining ex-cathedra.
Having made the meaning of his distinction evident, he teaches that to contradict the Pope, even as a private doctor, would be a rashness that could not be tolerated, and that consequently obedience, mental submission, is due to him, even when he does not speak as an absolutely infallible teacher. We have already remarked how, when Maurus Capellari had been raised to the sovereign Pontiﬁcate and had taken the name of Gregory XVI., he instructed the Bishop of Strasburg to require that M. Bautain, a professor of Strasburg seminary, should subscribe to certain propositions which were drawn up for him. By this act of his Gregory XVI. taught the truth of the theory which we defend, and insisted on its practical application, as his Brief of the 20th of December, 1834, undeniably shows. The process of Galileo gave occasion to a theologian of much repute, Caramuel Lobkowitz, to treat in detail of the principles involved in it, and we gladly avail ourselves of his authority as an additional testimony in favour of our theological principle. From what he has written on the subject we translate the following extract, which will bear advantageous comment :—“As to how the declarations of the Cardinals are certain, and not doubtful, I distinguish between practical authority and speculative authority. And although I grant that only the Pope speaking ex-cathedra has the power of forming articles of faith, to be held as true, and to be believed ; still I acknowledge that the most eminent lords, whom our Holy Father has associated to himself in the practical government of the Church, have the power of making practical decrees, which control the speaking,teaching, and preaching, the direction and general conduct of the Church’s children. I say that they are invested with a twofold authority that of interdicting, and that of condemning. When a book or opinion is interdicted, its teaching is not declared to be improbable, but neither is it declared to be probable; only, order is given that such teaching remain in such a degree of probability as it previously enjoyed, and that, for the sake of the public good or of private, it be not taught or defended. When any opinion is condemned by their eminences the Cardinals it is practically condemned.
A proposition so condemned does not begin to be a heresy, but it loses all extrinsic authority, and is rendered practically improbable. But what it it is condemned as heretical ? In this case a proposition that was not previously heretical will not become so in virtue of this condemnation; but a proposition that previously was heretical will by this condemnation be declared to be heretical, and this with so much certitude that it is unlikely that it is not heretical. In this case, and in others of the same kind, the inquisitors have authority to prohibit, to command, and to exact abjuration, and the subjects are bound in conscience to obey and sincerely to abjure ,- so that, in consequence their acts both internal and external, are in these cases subject to that tribunal.”* The distinction here made between the practical authority and the speculative is in complete accordance with, and answers to, what we have said of a doctrine’s infallible truth and infallible safety, what must be thought of it from a speculative point of view, what from a practical. This explanation, then, of how the cardinals’ decrees 'are certain and not doubtful, coincides with ours.
The decrees which they have power to make for the practical government of the Church are practical decrees, and, because of the existence of authority in their authors, and because of the nature of the decrees themselves, all Catholic subjects are bound in conscience to obey what is dictated, and sincerely to reject what is condemned, by them. A sacred congregation is a tribunal, a judgment-seat, whose sentences hold sway over the internal and intellectual, as well as over the outward bodily, acts of those for whom they are intended. In the same sense, and relatively to the same question, the learned Gassendi said, that because a decision had been delivered by men whose authority was so great in the Church as was the cardinals’, he did not blush to hold his intellect captive, not that he looked on what they taught as an article of faith, for they themselves did not say that, nor was it promulgated by them to the whole Church, and received by it as such; but because their judgment should be accounted a presumption which cannot but be of the greatest moment among the faithful.We have reserved for the last mention the name of Benedict XIV.
, of whom Cardinal Franzelin says, that his authority on this matter, though only that of a private theologian, is the very greatest that could be invoked. He thus teaches that infallibility in the authority laying down a doctrine is by no means necessary, as a condition, for imposing the obligation of internal religious assent. It is the Sovereign Pontiff who beatiﬁes the servants of God and who canonizes them. In the beatiﬁcation his judgment is not infallible ; in the canonization it is. Still, so speaks Benedict XIV., whoever would assert that the Supreme Pontiff did actually err in this or that ' particular beatiﬁcation, and that, as a natural consequence, the person declared blessed by him is not really so, and should not be made the object of veneration on the part of the faithful according to the Pontiﬁcal concession,—whoever would assert this would undoubtedly incur the theological censure of rashness or some more serious and severe one.* The two state ments here made by Benedict XIV. make up and embody the principle in which we are so much concerned, and to this name, which is more than legion in the world of mind and thought, and especially in the realm of theological science, we shall add no other. '
Why indeed should we go on citing names, one after an other, and quoting distinct passages from the greatest authors, if that is true which Cardinal Franzelin tells us he believes to be so, that this is the common teaching of theologians after Benedict XIV.? (p. 146). The one beautiful testimony of Cardinal Bellarmine, so grand in its simple truth, would seem to be and to contain all we could desire. All Catholics are of one accord in believing that the Roman Pontiff should be listened to with obedience when, alone or with his particular council, he settles on anything in doubtful matters, no matter whether, in the case', it is or is not possible for him to err.
This doctrine of obedience, of intellectual submission, requires the authority of no theologian or of any host of theologians to defend it and prove its truth. lts inﬂuence permeates the whole framework of the Church; it rules her outward action, is the living bond of her social life; and it holds uncontrolled sway over her interior unseen actions, over the mighty tide of supernatural life that ebbs and ﬂows within her vast ocean-like soul. In the interior tribunal, before which the Christian soul places itself in voluntary submission, there is found a sacred authority, and, in virtue of it, the faithful not only can submit, but often, in doubtful matters, are bound to surrender their own views and conform their practical judgments to the authority of the ministers of God, who are entrusted with the spiritual direction of their souls.The evangelical counsel of obedience is a clear proof that intellectual subjection and obedience can be given to the command of a fallible superior, that infallibility is no requisite condition for this.
Suarez and St. Alphonsus say that a subject doubting whether the command of a legitimate superior is or is not lawful is bound to lay the doubt aside, and can and ought to obey. Saints Bernard and Bonaventure and Ignatius, and all ascetical theologians, say with one voice, that whatever command is given by a man who holds the place of God, unless it is certain that it is displeasing to God, should be received as if it were God’s command. This is the doctrine of the saints and doctors of the Church, and this is the belief of her children; and this doctrine and this belief, in a religious matter, falls nothing short of the weight of the common consent of men on the ordinary moral truths; it throws the light of evidence over the truth of the theological principle which we have laid down, and of which we believe we have given more than sufﬁcient proof.
As the doctrine of theologians had been objected to us, we deemed it well to investigate that doctrine in no narrowly circumscribed sphere, and to unfold the result of our investigations. If the names of Suarez and of Bellarmine and of Gotti,—all renowned and venerable names,—were thrown against us as those of adversaries, we deemed it well, if not a duty, to show that these “men of renown” are our doctrinal friends and defenders. As theologians in general were vaguely said to be at variance with our strong principle, in which they were much concerned, we thought it well to call on some representative organs of the great theological school, to speak the mind of those among whom they were leaders, of those whom they taught or who taught with them. As this portion
of our subject, in which we bring the positive teaching of theologians to bear on our thesis, grew before us and widened out in importance as well as in extent when we entered on it, we have dwelt on it much longer than we intended, and with a satisfaction beyond what we anticipated. With it, on account of the detail and the considerable length, we shall close the present article, with the hope and intention of showing later on the bearing of what we have said on his torical questions such as that of Galileo, and of comparing or contrasting our principles with those put forth in publications on such questions by the friends and foes of truth and principle.
The thoughtful reader will no doubt gather from what we have said, or be reminded by it, that the Church of God, the Catholic Church, is indeed very intolerant in her teaching. The inference is most just; she really is so; but this noble intolerance of hers is the only sure preservative of intellectual and moral life,—is the only bulwark and safeguard of human society,—is the only hope of salvation for the erring world. Donoso Cortes says, that the Church alone has the right to afﬁrm and deny, and that there is no right outside her to afﬁrm what she denies or to deny what she aﬁirms because she alone cannot err. He says too :-—“ The day when society, forgetting her doctrinal decisions, has asked the press and the tribune, newspapers and assemblies, what is truth and what is error, on that day error and truth are confounded in all in tellects, society enters on the regions of shadows, and falls under the empire of ﬁctions.”*
We conclude with these other words of the same enlightened author, whose grand Catholic genius we cannot but admire :—“ The doctrinal intolerance of the Church has saved the world from chaos. Her doctrinal intolerance has placed beyond question political, domestic, social, and religious truths,—primitive and holy truths, which are not subject to discussion, because they are the foundation of all discussions; truths which cannot be called into doubt for a moment without the understanding on that moment oscil lating,lost between truth and error, and the clear mirror of human reason becoming "soiled and obscured. . . . Doubt perpetually comes from doubt, and scpeticism from scepticism, as truth from faith, and science from truth.” 1'