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My first reason for writing in answer to Mr. Gladstones Expostulation was his charge against us, that Catholics, if they act consistently with their principles, cannot be loyal subjects, supr. p. 180. And he withdraws this in his new Pamphlet (Vaticanism, p. 14), though not {350} in very gracious language, The immediate purpose of my appeal, he says, has been attained, in so far that the loyalty of our Roman Catholic fellow-subjects in the mass remains evidently untainted and secure.

My second reason was to protest against his attack upon our moral uprightness, supr. ibid. Here again he seems to grant that, if what I say can be received as genuine Catholic teaching, I have succeeded in my purpose. He has a doubt, however, whether it does not smack of Protestantism, Vat. p. 69. He does not give any distinct reason for this doubt; and, though I shall notice it in its place, infr. § 5, I think it but fair to maintain as a plain principle of controversy, that it is the accuser who has to prove his point, and that he must not content himself with professing that the accused parties have not succeeded to his satisfaction in disproving it.

Lastly, as springing out of these two charges and illustrating them, was his exaggerated notion of the force, drift, and range of the Vatican definition of the Popes infallibility and supremacy. Here again I consider he leaves my interpretation of it without reply, though apparently it does not content him. Some of the objections to what I have said, which he throws out obiter, as well as some made by others, shall now be noticed.

Supr. pp. 190, 191. I have said, apropos of the prospect of a definition of the Popes Infallibility in the times of Pitt and Peel, If [the government] wanted to obtain some real information about the probabilities of the future, why did they not go to headquarters? why not go to Rome? ... It is impossible that they could have {351} entered into normal negotiations with the Pope, without its becoming perfectly clear that Rome could never be a party to such a pledge as England wanted, and that no pledge from Catholics was of value to which Rome was not a party. To my astonishment Mr. Gladstone seems to consider this a fatal admission. He cries out, Statesmen of the future, recollect the words! ... The lesson received is this: although pledges were given, although their validity was formally and even passionately asserted, although the subject-matter was one of civil allegiance, no pledge from Catholics was of any value, to which Rome was not a party,’” p. 89.

I deny that the question of infallibility was one of civil allegiance, but let that pass; as to the main principle involved in what I have said, it certainly does perplex and confuse me that a statesman with Mr. Gladstones experience should make light of credentials, and should not recognize the difference between party opinion and formal decisions and pledges. What is the use of accredited ministers and an official intercourse between foreign powers, if the acts of mere classes or interests will do instead of them? At a congress, I believe the first act of plenipotentiaries is to show to each other their credentials. What minister of foreign affairs would go to the Cesarowitch, who happened to be staying among us, for an explanation of an expedition of Russia in upper Asia, instead of having recourse to the Russian ambassador?

The common saying, that Whigs are Tories out of place illustrates again what is in itself so axiomatic. Successive ministries of opposite views show in history, {352} for the most part, as one consistent national government, and, when a foreign power mistakes the objections which public men in opposition make to the details, circumstances, or seasonableness of certain ministerial measures, for deliberate judgments in its favour, it is likely, as in the case of the great Napoleon, to incur eventually, when the opposition comes into office, great disappointment, and has no one to blame but itself. So again, the Czar Nicholas seems to have mistaken the deputation of the peace party before the Crimean war for the voice of the English nation. It is not a business-like way of acting to assume the assurances of partisans, however sincerely made, for conditions of a contract. There is nothing indeed to show that the Holy See in 1793 or 1829 had any notion that the infallibility of the Pope, even if ever made a dogma, would be so made within such limits of time as could affect the bonâ fide character of the prospects which English and Irish Catholics opened upon Mr. Pitt or Mr. Peel. The events in Europe of the foregoing half century had given no encouragement to the Papal cause. Nor did Catholics alone avow anticipations which helped to encourage the latter statesman in the course, into which the political condition of Ireland, not any kindness to the Irish religion, primarily turned him. There were Anglican ecclesiastics, whom he deservedly trusted, who gave it to him as their settled opinion, as regards the Protestantism of England, that, if the emancipation of Catholics could but be passed in the night, there would be no excitement about it next morning. Did such an influential judgment, thus offered to Mr. Peel, involve a breach of a pledge, because it was not fulfilled? {353}

It was notorious all over the world that the North of Catholic Christendom took a different view of Papal infallibility from the South. A long controversy had gone on; able writers were to be found on either side; each side was positive in the truth of its own cause; each hoped to prevail. The Gallican party, towards which England and Ireland inclined, thought the other simply extravagant; but with the Ultramontane stood Rome itself. Ministers do not commonly believe all the representations of deputations who come to them with the advocacy of particular measures, though those deputations may be perfectly sincere in what they aver. The Catholics of England and Ireland in 1826 were almost as one man in thinking lightly of the question, but even then there were those who spoke out in a different sense, and warned the government that there was a contrary opinion, and one strong both in its pretensions and its prospects. I am not bound to go into this subject at length, for I have allowed that the dominant feeling among our Catholics at that day was against the prudence or likelihood of a definition of Papal infallibility; but I will instance one or two writers of name who had spoken in a different sense.

I cannot find that Mr. Gladstone deals with my reference to Archbishop Troy, whose pastoral bears the date (1793) of the very year in which as Mr. Gladstone tells us, Vat., p. 48, a Relief Act was granted to Ireland. The Archbishop, as I have quoted him (supr., p. 188), says, Many Catholics contend that the Pope ... is infallible … others deny this ... Until the Church shall decide ... either opinion may be adopted. This {354} is a very significant, as well as an authoritative passage.

Again: Father Mumfords Catholic Scripturist is a popular Address to Protestants, in the vernacular, which has gone through various editions in the 17th, 18th, and 19th centuries. The edition from which I quote is that of 1863. He says, p. 39, Whether the definition of a council alone, defining without their chief pastor, or the definition of the chief pastor alone, defining without a council, be infallible or no, there be several opinions amongst us, in which we do and may vary without any prejudice to our faith, which is not built upon what is yet under opinion, but upon that which is delivered as infallible.

Again, Bishop Hay is one of the most conspicuous Prelates and authoritative writers amongst us of the 18th century. In his Sincere Christian, published between 1770 and 1780, he treats of the infallibility of the Pope at considerable length, and in its favour. He says, p. 188 (ed. 1871) that that doctrine is not proposed to us as an article of divine faith, nor has the Church ever made any decision concerning it. Great numbers of the most learned divines are of opinion that, in such a case, the Head of the Church is infallible in what he teaches, but there are others who are of a contrary opinion. He proceeds, On what grounds do those divines found their opinion, who believe that the Pope himself, when he speaks to the faithful as head of the Church, is infallible in what he teaches? and he answers, On very strong reasons both from Scripture, tradition, and reason. These he goes through seriatim; then he adds, p. 194, {355} What proof do the others bring for their opinion, that the Head of the Church is not infallible? They bring not a single text of Scripture, nor almost one argument from tradition to prove it.

I might add that the chief instrument in rousing and rallying the Protestant sentiment against Catholic emancipation was from first to last the episcopate and clergy of the Church Established; now, if there was any body of men who were perfectly aware of the division of sentiment among Catholics as to the seat of infallibility, it was they. Their standard divines, writing in the vernacular, discharge it, as one of their most effective taunts, against their opponents, that, whilst the latter hold the doctrine of infallibility, they differ among themselves whether it is lodged in an Ecumenical Council or in the Roman See. It never can be said then that this opinion, which has now become a dogma, was not perfectly well known to be living and energetic in the Catholic communion, though it was not an article of faith, and was not spoken of as such by Catholics in this part of the world during the centuries of persecution.

Mr. Gladstone, as his mildest conclusion against us, is inclined to grant that it was not an act of duplicity in us, that in 1826 our Prelates spoke against the Popes infallibility, though in 1870 they took part in defining it; but then he maintains it to be at least a proof that the Church has changed its doctrine, and thereby forfeited its claim to be semper eadem. But it is no change surely to decide between two prevalent opinions; however, if it is to be so regarded, then change has been the characteristic of the Church from the earliest times, {356} as, for instance, in the third century, on the point of the validity of baptism by heretics. And hence such change as has taken place (which I should prefer to call doctrinal development), is in itself a positive argument in favour of the Churchs identity from first to last; for a growth in its creed is a law of its life. I have already insisted upon this, supra, p. 314; also in former volumes, as in my Apologia and Difficulties of Anglicans.








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