The United States and Rome


SCIENCE at the present time has assumed control of international political relations. The application of science to the production of wealth, to the development of commercial intercourse, to the diminution of space, has rendered of no effect the old political laws enacted by geography. Political theories arise and take shape out of the general knowledge of the time. We cannot expect of such theories permanent authority and universal application. Science is continually busy altering our political and social conditions. The isolation of the United States in the time of George Washington was caused on the one side by lands unknown, on the other by the ocean hardly traversed by ships loitering at the pleasure of the wind. Out of this plenitude of time and space the Monroe Doctrine and allied theories were put together. To America Europe used to be the Old World, governed by alien ideas and ancient constitutions of society. Even England was far away. A king, an aristocracy, an established church, universities of great authority were so many strange conceptions that prevented any intimacy between England and ourselves. The United States now hear from minute to minute what takes place in every capital in Europe; they send forth thousands upon thousands of travelers curious of foreign ways ; every year they receive hundreds of thousands of immigrants, and every year they exchange wealth greater than that of ancient kingdoms with the great nations of Europe. Questions that affect Europe immediately concern the United States. Alike they are perplexed over the production and distribution of wealth, the progress of science, the maintenance of peace.

There is no prospect that the intimacy of this country with Europe will be arrested ; rather it is likely to increase at a rapidly accelerated pace. The two continents are speedily becoming one political whole. There is no national privacy in any quarter of the globe; whither one nation’s ships go, thither steer the fleets of the world. Asia and Africa have passed under the suzerainty of Europe ; they will be exploited to gratify the luxury of London, Paris, and Berlin, and hearty American appetites are expectant of their shares also. The political relations between the United States and the nations of Europe will be as close as those between Massachusetts and New York. The Atlantic will be no wider than the Channel. Social relations will follow ; capitalists will draw nearer to capitalists, laboring class to laboring class. The barriers of language will be pushed aside. The United States will soon be brought into the closeness of juxtaposition which requires definite attitude and action not only with European governments, but with all European institutions. Of those institutions the greatest is the Roman Catholic Church.

In one sense this country has been regulating its relations with that church ever since this continent was discovered ; but in a larger sense the meeting of the great modern democracy and of the great Latin church will be a new occurrence, and upon it matters of great interest to civilization will depend. The dealings which we have had with that church have been on our side, adjournments and postponements, in the confident expectation that, like unanswered letters, the matters involved would soon cease to be of practical concern. The adjourned day is now approaching, the Papacy has not passed away, and the nation takes no position, but is leaving the matter as one of private concern to her individual citizens.

In George Washington’s time the population of this country was chiefly English. Its religious creeds for the greater part were taken from the creeds of the English middle classes. There were Presbyterians, Methodists, Baptists, and members of the Anglican Church. There were Calvinists, Lutherans, and Quakers. There were a few Roman Catholics, but they were gathered together in Maryland, Pennsylvania, and Georgia, and were of slight political consequence. In the course of time Louisiana, Florida, Texas, and California, one after the other, brought in their quota of Catholics. In the middle of this century began the great flood of immigration. The Irish have come, as a magician shakes bonbons out of a cornucopia. Famine, political discontent, hopes of every kind, have fetched people of every nationality and creed. Statistics say that the proportion of Catholics to the whole population was, in 1783 one in eighty, in 1829 one in sixteen, in 1844 one in fifteen, in 1890 one in ten, or, according to some, one in seven. There are thousands of churches, thousands of priests, and branches of all the great religious orders. The slightest inquiry shows us that the growth of the Roman Catholics in numbers, education, and wealth has been steady ; that their political power has increased in even greater proportion than their numbers.

This increase of Catholicism has caused alarm among Americans of English descent. To them Wickliffe’s teachings, Henry VIII.’s quarrel with Rome, the destruction of the Armada, the Puritan Revolution, the Act of Settlement, the repeated rejection of the Stuarts, have been the cardinal facts of English history. They look on Rome as their forefathers looked upon her : —

“ Rome, l’unique ob jet, de mon ressentiment! ”

They bid you contemplate Pope Joan, Alexander Borgia, St. Bartholomew’s massacre, the persecution of Galileo, the Order of Jesus, and ask if they are not justified. This alarm and opposition sometimes show themselves in the formation of societies for the preservation of American institutions. The Catholics have betrayed, in some instances, a certain inclination that public moneys be used to support Catholic schools. Their adversaries are somewhat troubled thereby. But most people suffer those matters to take care of themselves. The general disposition is one of practical indifference. It is a long time since Luther went to the Diet of Worms, and the doctrine of laissez faire has wrapped itself around religious matters.

The great opposition to the Roman Church in the sixteenth century was an opposition of race, of nationality. The Reformation was the awakening of the Teutonic races to the great differences that separated them from the Latin races; northern nations felt the swelling of national instincts, and the bonds of the Universal Church were broken. From then until to-day the sentiment of nationality has been predominant; that sentiment reached its zenith in the end of this century, and is already beginning to wane. Cosmopolitanism is establishing ; hereafter other bonds than those of a common country will group men together.

Signs appear that the breaking up of nationality will begin in the United States. There will be in this country three principal parties, those of English, German, and Irish descent; but there will be many other stocks. The motto E pluribus unum will be more true than ever. But the whole so formed will not have that unity of inheritance, of habits, of pleasures, of tradition, of imagination, which makes a nation. The United States will be the one great cosmopolitan country. In such a country, with no purely national feeling to be stirred to opposition, a proselyting church, prudent and bold, will have great opportunity. Most of the German element will be Protestant, but it will hardly strengthen the Protestant cause, because it will not unite with the English Protestant section. The Irish will be Catholics almost to a man ; and they have an ardent loyalty of nature which will naturally turn them to the support of their church. In the midst of cosmopolitan indifference and disagreement the Church of Rome will be then, as she always has been, the one church which draws to herself men of all European races. There is but one church whose priests visit every people and hear confession in every language. There is but one cosmopolitan church.


By the time the United States shall be acknowledged to be the richest and most powerful nation in the world, the attitude of the Papacy will already have been long determined. The Church reads the signs of the times, and will have girded herself for the great task of controlling the religious life of the majority of the American people.

In the past the Roman Church has achieved her great victories in face of the greatest powers of the world. First she subdued the Roman Empire; after its fall she met the Teutonic Emperors as a rival; and now, after the Holy Roman Empire has passed away, she still treats with the governments of the greatest nations as an equal. She is the only organization which has succeeded in adapting itself to the varying needs of men for nineteen hundred years. Again and again has she fallen into servitude, of German Emperors, of Roman nobles, of the kings of France ; again and again has she risen with undiminished vitality. It is not strange that many who think that some divine power stood behind the early Christian Church, should believe that the same power guides and preserves the Church of Rome.

There have been great crises in her history. She might have been destroyed when the barbarians overran Italy ; she might have been wrecked by the Reformation in the sixteenth century; she might have been ruined in the nineteenth century, if the Pope had been made the head of a confederated Italy; and she may be vanquished in the twentieth by the spirit of the American democracy, but the genius and passion of the Latin race still subsist, and there are great powers on her side.

The Roman Church has always been cosmopolitan. There have been Popes from England, Holland, Germany, France, Spain, and Italy. Her churches lift their spires from Norway to Sicily, from Quebec to Patagonia. Her missionaries have sacrificed their lives over all the world. Her strength has been that she is the Church Universal. England recognizes the Queen as the head of the Anglican Church; Russia the Czar as the head of the Greek Church; but the Roman Church has never been bounded by national boundary lines ; she alone has been able to put before the western world the ideal of a church for humanity. This has been the source of her peculiar attraction ; and in the next century, with national barriers broken down, her claims to universal acceptance and obedience will be stronger than ever. Americans cannot kneel to an English king nor prostrate themselves before a Czar of Russia, but many will do both before him who has the only claim to be considered the High Priest of Christendom.

Moreover, the city of Rome is the only city in which the spiritual head of a great church could live without exciting national jealousies elsewhere. It is the capital of a nation which no longer can rank as a great power. It is the city which holds greater traditions than any other. It has been the head of Europe and of the civilized world so long that in the present it has all the charm of the distant past, and appeals to the sentiments of all men. Montaigne speaks for all: “ This city of Rome deserves to be loved; she is the only city which belongs to us all; she is the metropolitan city of all Christian nations.”

But of greater importance than these matters is the freedom of the Papacy from temporal power. So long as the Popes were temporal sovereigns, they were subject to the like temptations as other princes. Political relations helped to prevent spiritual relations. Foreigners could not yield obedience to an Italian sovereign. This loss of temporal possessions is the greatest opportunity that the Papacy has had since the Reformation. The Popes now can stand before the world, not as Italian princes, but as priests of Christendom, not as the owners of central Italy, but as the descendants of Peter the fisherman, seekingonly to obey the great entreaty, “ Peter, feed my sheep.”

It is natural that in the first anger, jealous of temporal power, the Popes have felt that they were deprived of their possessions, robbed of what had been their own by as good title as any known to civilization. It is a good riddance.

“ Ah, Constantine, to what great ill gave birth,
Not thy conversion, but that dowery
Which the first rich father took from thee.”

Now they are freed from the old temptation ; they have come down from the pinnacle of the temple whence the devil showed them all the riches of the west, and can ponder on the words, “ My kingdom is not of this world.” This freedom thrust upon them is the means by which a great man, if such a Pope shall be, will make the Papacy greater than it has ever been before. The little disputes that busy the papal adherents in Rome are petty jealousies such as vex the priest of every little parish. They are only formidable to the Papacy in times when a common man sits on the papal chair; when pettifoggers make him think that local scandals and Roman tittle-tattle make up the interest of the world. But with a great Pope all these dregs will sink to the bottom again, and the great sources of life on which the Roman Church has drawn for so long will give her strength to carry on her mighty career.

The Roman Church is the great achievement of the Latin race. That is the only race that has conquered the world. The genius of Italy spent itself for hundreds of years in conquest; then after a long rest it gave birth to the modern world. For two thousand years it has maintained the dominant religion of the West. The old capacities for organization and for law may return with renewed vigor to reassert the power of the Latin race, and construct anew the great edifice of the Latin world, but help from others is sorely needed.

In all questions that affect civilization, and most of all in the matter of religion, one nation, or one race, by itself cannot achieve the best for mankind. The mingling of different bloods is needed, the union of minds of different construction. One race is unequal to the task of preparing the religious beliefs of the future. From among the Jews came the human ideal, from the Greeks the mysterious philosophy, and from the Romans the organization which together have made Christianity. The Teutonic people for centuries contributed nothing to Christianity ; at last they offered personal independence, and the Teutonic church broke into a hundred sects. But the experiment must be made again. The clerical labor of the future will be to combine unity and independence. As the Roman Empire united many peoples under one rule and respected their laws and their gods, and did not attempt to impose an Italian government on all, but received Emperors from the farthest provinces, so the Church of Rome must make provision for ideas from the sea, the plain, the mountain, from avenue and alley, from American, Teuton, and Slav, and make the Holy Apostolic See and her college of cardinals not Italian only, but representative of the various parts of her empire, so that she shall gather together all men of religious mind who can be brought into a religious organization. The first great step toward a " Parliament of nations and federation of the world,” is a universal church, and that church must appeal to a large majority of all who are susceptible to the influence of religious organization.


Most Americans are inclined to think that a struggle with Rome will be a small contest for them. Fresh from the physical conflict with Spain, they conclude that the Latin blood is exhausted and cannot set up its will against their own. But the meeting of the great American democracy and the Roman Church will not be a hostile meeting. There will be little jealousy, no rivalry. We have no national creed to oppose to the Catholic beliefs ; Rome has no commercial ambition to clash with ours. She will come quietly as into a sick room.

Twenty years ago Protestants and Agnostics would have banded together against the Roman Church. They would have felt that they must struggle side by side against gross ignorance and grosser superstition. But Protestant prejudices against the Roman Church are falling off. Calvin and Knox are losing worship. Jonathan Edwards has become a signboard of obsolete notions. Our old jealousies of the Roman Church were part of our inheritance from England. That inheritance has lost its relative consequence, and in the changing character of the United States those jealousies are disappearing. Old feuds between Protestant and Catholic have ceased to be as important as their united battles against moral decay. Churches of all kinds draw closer together as they feel that their fight is to be against cynicism, gross pleasures, the cruelty of greed. More and more churches separate religion from their own individual tenets and associate it with what all hold dear, the dignity of labor, the sanctity of self - sacrifice, the holiness of marriage, the preservation of noble purposes. They begin to regard religion as a bulwark to guard the spirit from the wastes of shame. There is a feeling everywhere that rich and poor, educated and ignorant, should band together to safeguard the riches of civilization; and that the common refuge for defense and starting point for conquest must be a united church. Even the strong Protestant sects of the Methodists and Baptists are growing less antagonistic to the Church of Rome. The Presbyterians show signs of conciliation towards the Episcopalians ; they build churches in the likeness of Magdalene Tower; they put stained glass in their windows; they are less rigorous to heresy.

The Episcopal Church, nearer to Rome by far than the other Protestant sects, is constantly gaining ground. Her prelates, her hierarchy, her liturgy are continually, little by little, making the more recalcitrant Protestant sects more and more accustomed to the structure and to the rites of Rome. In the Episcopal Church itself attempt has been made to bring all Christian churches into union; with the idea that the middle path of the Anglican creed and practice would be the means of reconciliation and the meeting place for the dissenting churches and the mother church. But every idea of union prepares the road to Rome. The great original church may open her arms to receive; but she will never turn aside her feet to tread the via media. How shall we ask the church that claims its authority from the Apostle Peter to humble itself before the church which derives its independence from Henry VIII.?

The Agnostics also have changed their attitude very much. They have spent their passionate youth; they have outlived their joyous period of elation in intellectual liberty and intellectual disdain. They no longer seek for proselytes. They put their hands in their pockets ; others may do as they please, they care not. Some of them perhaps have gone further. They are not conscious that they want a creed for themselves, but they admit that they should like to see a creed which other men can enjoy. Here is an example of familiar altruism. Who is this other man that stalks wrapped around in that unselfish imagining

“ Que me ressemblait comme un fière ? ”

So it will be in America ; and in Rome the great prelates who guide the church, when they turn their chief attention to the American question, will no doubt at first think political thoughts. The inevitable effect of belonging to a great organization to which they owe their early ideas, their accomplished ambitions, their daily bread, is to create the feeling that this organization, their mother, must be saved and exalted. Italian priests are men without wives, without children, without a country, and they cherish their church the more dearly. Her power is their pride, her magnification their desire. They will seek to use the swelling fortunes of the United States. The Papacy has always been friendly to the great powers of the world, unless they showed themselves its enemies and forced it to oppose them. Other motives will prick them too. The Papacy will have duties toward the Catholics here ; it must not leave them in the condition of a disregarded church, out of the path of the vital forces of the nation. The Papacy cannot but hearken to the voice of ambition blended with that of duty, urging it to attempt the greatest feat of political skill to which it has yet put shoulder.

In time, the Papacy may be wise enough to avoid politics and listen to the great voice of religious need. The loss of temporal power will help the great awakening; it will be like the brazen serpent in the wilderness, an ever present sign set up to save. The Papacy, free to turn to the things of the spirit as never before since the Christians were a despised and persecuted sect, will hear the mourning, and see the sorrows of the poor. It can use all its great power to increase the nobleness of life. The church will not seek to benefit American Catholics at the obvious expense of American Protestants. It will seek to win the confidence of the nation.

The old Roman talents for religion in organization will have full play. It must be the capacity for obtaining from individuals public acknowledgment as well as private belief, and the ability to put emotions to use in organized and carefully adjusted ways, to which Cicero alludes: The Gauls may surpass us in strength, the Spaniards in numbers, the Carthaginians in craft, the Greeks in art, but we Romans excel in matters of Religion, and in public recognition of the divine guidance of the Gods.

These religious capacities, which the Latin race has infused into the Catholic Church, now spend themselves among the humbler classes. The laws and methods of the church are adapted to those classes, and as human limitations forbid clear comprehension of the ways of one class by another, the well-to-do classes mistake the ways of the church among the ignorant for her natural and only ways ; but when the well-to-do of the next generation shall find the sons of the poor of to-day among them, they will see the laws and methods of the church more in harmony with their own notions and habits ; the alien character of the church will disappear, the priests will be more educated, the bishops more American, the churches decorated to meet a more exacting taste. And if there shall be a class of Americans interested in the metaphysics of religion, or in the part which religious authority may play in social matters, a Newman and a Manning will come forward. The pride of the church has always been to give unto men according to their needs.


It is sometimes said that the spirit of American independence will be an insuperable obstacle to the encroachment of the Roman Church. But that spirit is of somewhat ghostly substance. The notions of liberty, fraternity, and equality were the emotional sentiments of our great grandfathers. Though they enjoyed great fashion and strength for a time, ideas of equality and fraternity have not succeeded. They have been handed by the most educated in the community to the least educated. The idea of independence has become liturgical, an idea to be mentioned with respect, but to which no obedience is due. The great economical movements of the time are against independence. More and more individuals give up their endeavor’s to manage their own business and to control their own actions ; they readily accept positions wherein they execute the will of others. The class of independent traders is waning rapidly. Great corporations, and unions of wealth, have become the masters of servants once independent.

It may be doubted whether the mass of men ever cared for independence. The prod of oppression, the discomforts of unjust servitude at times have driven people to independence. But the burden of responsibility and that eternal vigilance which is the high price of liberty have few attractions for most men. They prefer the careless life of the servant to the honor of freedom. The emotional stimulus of the idea has now died away. Camille Desmoulins and Patrick Henry to-day would have another burden for their harangues. Men seek physical pleasures; abstract sentiments have become an ineffectual recreation.

Consider how petty shopkeepers become clerks in the great shops, how small farmers milk cows for some cream and butter corporation ; how little factories seek the protection of a great union which has some capable man at its head ; how politicians follow at the heels of their leader ; how voters obey the lifted finger of their chief. The barrier to be offered by American independence is not strong.

But there is the shield of knowledge. How, it is said, can the great teachings of history, science, and literature, all of which are fatal to the dogmas of the Roman Church, fail of preserving our people from vulgar superstition ? Passing over the assumption that knowledge is inconsistent with the Catholic religion, the truth remains that the persons whose actions and beliefs are governed by the teachings of science, history, and literature are a small fraction of all the people. The multitudes are ignorant, and there is no present prospect of an appreciable increase in their enlightenment. The ignorant are almost always under the moral and intellectual control of the more intelligent and educated; and in times past, in Protestant countries, when the mass of the people have abandoned Catholicism they have done so under the influence of the leading classes. But in the twentieth century the educated classes in the United States will cease to be Protestant, they will no longer direct or care to direct the courses of the multitude on religious matters ; rather they will wish the multitude to be subject to some strong restraint which will hinder them from any attempt to upset the established order of society. Thus the great ignorant mass will be left unguarded to the importunity of the Roman priesthood, the one educated body which shall seek to influence them.

The very superstitions of the Catholic belief will help their cause. Men have always needed definite physical conception of moral ideas. Idol worship, the deification of ancestors, the apotheosis of emperors, the canonization of saints, the idealization of famous men, have been created by the great need of ignorant multitudes. No organization has ever made use of this need so effectively as the Roman Church. That need has not passed away even from America. Supernatural conceptions are required by the natural appetites of the imagination, and the Roman Church best can furnish them.

The democracy of American institutions will be no hindrance to the Church of Rome, for that church has been the greatest democratic power in the western world. With a few exceptions, the Popes have always been elected ; and the Papacy has always been open to every Catholic, regardless of his birth. Popes have been chosen from all ranks of society. In the most vigorous period of the feudal system, the great councils of the church were great representative assemblies ; their members came together from all Christendom. The church has always taught the spiritual equality of rich and poor, or has given precedence to the poor. The great monastic orders practiced equality. The Order of Jesus has always set the degree according to talents.

It may still be objected that the Roman Church is not modern, and is not adapted to the nation which more than any other lives in the present; it is said that age and youth cannot live together ; that young America will find the aged church lame and slow ; that if any church shall have influence it will be one untrammeled by tradition. The contrary may have a greater share of truth. This ancient institution has acquired a tough fibre and deep roots which give it enduring strength. Generations have grown up in its shine or shadow. It encumbers the horizon, and every man has adjusted his course by it, every younger organ has been affected by it, every nation has framed its government and laws in fondness or fear of it. Antique custom has a thousand crutches. One may level the Alps or flood the Desert of Sahara, but the very people who shall benefit must first be overcome. Men will not suffer you to destroy their deities or their devils. In its long life the church has learned means to supply the needs of all, — of the pious, the way ward, the ambitious and the meek, the libertine and the anchorite, the skeptic and the believer, the active and those that do nothing. Those old hands have a strength, and their softness a touch beside which the young are rude and incapable. History pronounces that no man can safely say that the church is unequal to the requirements of latter-day success. A generation ago, after Victor Emmanuel’s army had marched into Rome, general belief among Protestants was confident that the Papacy had fallen ; but during the pontificate of Leo XIII. it has been stronger than it had been for a hundred years. So it has been through history. Anti-popes and Babylonish captivity, rebellion and reformation have shaken the great edifice, but have left its foundations seemingly as strong as ever.


The difficulties which lie in the path of the Roman Catholic dogmas are easily exaggerated. A dogma is merely a statement of fact ennobled by sentiment. If the human mind accepts facts on the testimony of eye, ear, smell, taste, and touch, if it entertains no doubt upon a material world, so shaped, so related, so colored, ambient in the open of space and time, there seems no good reason for reining in belief at any particular boundary. The human mind has no native dislike to dogma ; on the contrary it has an appetite for beliefs. Only those minds which have got away from the ordinary course of human life, and have subjected themselves to rigorous training, have acquired intellectual squeamishness. The human mind is of nature as lazy as the human body. Unless urged on by unpleasant necessity, it will believe much sooner than it will examine and consider. The understanding is sympathetic to all sentimental feelings. A belief inherited from a father, given by a mother, bestowed by a lover, or one which struts in with insignia of possessions and authority, has a great advantage in making its way. It is only when a dogma meets an opposing sentiment, patriotism, custom, fashion, or some hostile interest, that it needs to struggle.

To an outsider the separate dogmas of the Roman Catholic Church are no more difficult of acceptance than the dogmas which she shares with Protestant sects. The fall, the atonement, the divinity of Christ, the Trinity, the clauses of the Apostles’ Creed, are larger and more exacting beliefs than the authority of the fathers, the immaculate conception of Mary, the infallibility of the Pope in matters of faith and morals. To the outsider the dogmatic Protestant seems to strain at a gnat and swallow a camel.

Most beliefs in ordinary matters of life are fashioned out of the experience and knowledge of the few ; then they are imposed upon, or taken up by, the many. Matters of chemistry, astronomy, physics ; the benefits of medicine; the merits of Shakespeare, of Wagner, of Raphael, are all incorporated into portable hypotheses and pass current. Individual experience has very little weight as against convenience. One may be bored with Hamlet or go to sleep in Tristan, but belief is not shaken ; pills and draughts may be followed by weakness, pain, and death, but patients persevere. Prayers for rain may not be answered, but they remain in the liturgy.

The enemies of the Roman Catholic dogma were the vanishing inheritances from Protestantism, from England, from Jonathan Edwards, from nurse and grandmother. Now that dogma has little to fear from its enemies, its success must depend upon its friends. The particular dogmas of Catholicism have no hindrances greater than those which stand in the way of any hitherto unaccepted dogma. The doctrine of papal infallibility is commonly presented by Protestants in the gross form that a man by virtue of an elective office shall be able to ascertain absolute truth. The true foundation of the doctrine is this: In the life of many a man comes a moment when he sees a vision; the grossness of his members falls from him ; he hears a voice. At that moment his nature stands a-tiptoe ; he has come nearer to something larger than himself than ever before. He will not let the memory of it die, but embodies it in some belief, so that his enthusiasm may not be lost. In like manner, when Catholic Christendom feels a sentiment of larger life than is its wont, and recognizes the presence of its Creator, it will not suffer that moment to pass, its spirit to fade away, but through the Pope, who by his position is sensible to all the movements of Christendom, the church embodies the noble sensation in a form which, in spite of the inadequacy of human symbols, is most able to preserve it. A new truth is proclaimed in order to help all Catholics remember their best selves.

The doctrine of indulgences is only blameworthy in corrupt practice. In its honesty who shall say it is devoid of truth ? It declares that the good deeds and good thoughts of good men fill an invisible treasury, out of which the needy may receive alms. Who will gainsay that good deeds and great thoughts help many who are unable to help themselves ? There must be some agency to convey the benefit from the benefactor to the beggar. Is not the church the custodian of the great religious traditions ; is it not she who has kept the memory of spiritual longings fresh, who holds annual festivals in honor and memory of the good, who promulgates ennobling thoughts which otherwise would have been forgotten ? It is the church which on every Sunday morning summons men to reflect upon the thoughts of men long dead. Has not the spirit of the noble dead lived on through the church; is it not memories of them which make the place holy ? These memories make a great storehouse filled with the abundant life of happy men, to which the needy may come every day; and the church is the great factor which distributes the alms.

The dogma of the immaculate conception of the Virgin is the assumption of a woman into a spiritual idea. It tends to remove the anthropological part of a spiritual thought. It helps to bridge the space between the world of flesh and the world of spirit.

Taken one by one, the dogmas of the Roman Church present no great difficulty ; and taken together they persuade men by one great virtue in them, the attribute of growth. The body of Roman Catholic dogma is not complete and fixed. New dogmas are added as new truths appear. The church acknowledges her own imperfect knowledge; she admits that she sees as through a glass darkly. This admission implies the capacity for indefinite enlargement. There is nothing to limit the immensity of new truths still to be discovered. The church stands on a foundation which seems fixed and immovable, but infinity lies before it; and the church bows before its own incompleteness. Hers is no petrified foundation, but a living rock on which she stands.

Here seems to be the peculiar power of this great organization to serve men. It combines the sense of certainty and fixedness, necessary to most men, and the capacity for growth, necessary to the few. To compare the old and the religious to the young and the secular, the church bears a significant likeness to the American Constitution.


Religious dogmas do not depend upon themselves for their success, but upon the ideas with which they associate themselves. There is the element of a parasite in every successful dogma. In the long past Catholic dogmas have allied themselves to hopes of heaven and fears of hell; but now, when conceptions of a future state are less vivid, dogmas seek to ally themselves with one social idea or an other. Some may attach themselves to the ideas of order, some to those of revolution. One great task of the church is to watch over religious ideas, mark what company they keep, and prevent a misalliance, not only for the sake of success, but also for the sake of purity.

The doctrine of the immaculate conception of the Virgin, for example, left to itself might or might not commend itself to the mind ; but when it is linked to a number of beliefs, of the sacrament of marriage, of regarding the body as the temple of the soul, of strengthening the family, it both gains and gives strength ; it fits into a creed, it props social order and prospers.

Religious dogmas sometimes unite with ideas of other kinds from the mere fact of a fortuitous meeting in the same mind. Like lodgers at an inn, they establish mutual ties. Sometimes such unions seem very incongruous, as the joining of a belief in the Trinity to that of payment of debts. But this is an advantage both to the ideal and to the practical.

In the United States it may well be that the dogmas of the Roman Catholic Church will depend for their prosperity upon their affinity with certain social ideas. Of these one of greatest importance is improvement of the condition of the laboring classes. The increase of wages, accomplished by unions of workingmen, is a patent fact; and as wealth is creating in greater abundance all the time, the working classes will insist upon a larger share. Unions of workingmen will not only spread all over the United States, but will include Englishmen, Frenchmen, and Germans. The great causes of dissension among men will no longer coincide with national divisions ; there will be no fellow countrymen of all the disputants ; cosmopolitan quarrels must be made up by cosmopolitan counsels. Then the mediation of the great organization to which specially belongs the task of mediation will be of great value to mankind, and most to the workingmen who suffer most from disagreement with capitalists. Ministers of the Church of England will not be acceptable mediators in matters which concern Frenchmen, the clergy of the Greek Church will not be welcome to the Germans ; but the priests of a cosmopolitan church, free from temporal sovereignty and national bias, will be fit to intervene and give counsel in cosmopolitan disputes. The creed of the Catholic Church naturally blends with mediation and peacemaking, in labor troubles as in other’s; witness Manning in England, Lavigerie in France, Ireland in America, and in Italy the Pope himself. Let the Church of Rome once join in the public mind her creed, and an active mediation to secure justice and peace, and she shall carry a thousand dogmas on her back.

The poor are the most ignorant. Dogma presents no difficulties to them. Help the poor, and they will believe that the sun revolves about the earth. The church has always deemed the poor her little children. Poverty in her eyes is freedom from temptation. As the poor always will be among us, that church, without regard to dogma, which shall open her arms the most generously toward them will have a multitude at her heels. A ministering church will receive unexpected friends. Many men now spend themselves in little attempts at social improvement here and there ; they fritter away their high purposes in scattered efforts. At present they will not work with a church, partly on account of sectarian differences, partly because they have been misled by the vast increase of wealth into thinking that a fair division of wealth is the greatest present need. With their eyes fixed on physical ills, their ears hear only cries of physical distress. They regard religion as superstition and deception. But when the great church of the poor, bent though she be with ancient creeds, shall support the cause of the poor, social reformers will not only forget their former disbeliefs, but will associate with every word of her creed their own measures of reform, and murmur Amen. Limited now to the knowledge that increase of wages is good, they will learn through the church that not the goods which diminish, but those which multiply by sharing, make the happiness of mankind.

Every idea of practical good round which she can entwine her dogma will establish the power of Rome.

There is also the religious need of men. That need is friendly to any church. The desire to prostrate themselves, the thirst for sentiment, the longing to worship, the craving for more life, the fear of death, all demand comfort and succor. These needs break dogmas as Samson burst the green withes. What are dogmas to love ? The lover has infinite capacities for belief. The Roman Church has many attributes which reach out friendly hands to the needy, immemorial tradition, ancient authority, ritual, mysticism, freedom from the world.

If the Roman Church shall succeed in establishing herself as the counselor of the laborer, the helper of the poor, the comforter of those in need of religion, her dogmas will be encumbrances no heavier than shadows.

Yet before Rome shall help the United States, they must help Rome. They must wake up her priests who sleep in the past; they must remind her that she is a church universal, and the oldest fabric of democracy ; that she must recognize that all nations form her commonwealth ; that her college of cardinals must represent them all ; that new thoughts are as good as old thoughts ; that saints may be born to-day as noble as those of old ; that the world is as near to heaven as ever it was in the past; that the church must forsake the old order and conform to the new. The church must receive so that she may give, and enable her to play the great part which a church may still play in the civilization of mankind.


Indications of these religious or political movements have already appeared both in the United States and in England.

The struggle in the Roman Catholic Church over what has been called Americanism is but the forerunner of the agitations of the twentieth century. Naturally the first stirring is within the church ; it is the inevitable discomfort which takes place in an ancient body politic adapting to new uses. Conservatism limbers out with creaks and groans. Father Hecker’s name has become a kind of shibboleth. Father Hecker, as is well known, was a member of the Brook Farm community. Afterward he was converted to Catholicism, and joined the congregation of the Most Holy Redeemer. He was expelled from that order in consequence of an act of disobedience in a regulation, by going to Rome. He then founded the body known as the Paulist Fathers. He died in 1888. In 1891 Father Elliott wrote his life, to which Archbishop Ireland wrote an introduction. Subsequently this life, but with various changes, was translated into French, together with the preface by Archbishop Ireland, and a new introduction was added by M. l’Abbé Klein, a French priest. This book has been answered by M. l’Abbé Maignen. In this way has been brought before the secular public the controversy which had already been carried on with vigor within the church. Father Hecker represented a union between the ideas of personal independence and of personal responsibility and the beliefs of the Catholic Church. He believed that sole control of the church should pass from Latin hands; that the Teutonic races, with their appreciation of the value of selfreliance and of personal freedom, must take, for a time at least, the government of the church, in ideas, if not in politics. He believed in the direct action of the Holy Spirit upon the human soul. That belief carried the corollary, that if a man did not need the mediation of priest, of church, of saints, he could appeal to the Holy Spirit of God, and would be heard.

Archbishop Ireland says, “ Each century calls for its type of Christian perfection.” The value of the passive virtues — of contemplation, of resignation, of asceticism — has in a measure passed. The spirit of action is now the holier power. Hecker writes : “ The church, says Schelling in substance, was first Petrine, then Pauline, and must be loveembracing, John - like. Peter, Catholicism ; Paul, Protestantism; John, what is to be. What we want, and are tending to, is what shall unite them both as John’s spirit does — and that in each individual. We want neither the authority of history, nor of the individual, neither infallibility, nor reason by itself, but both combined in life. Neither precedent nor opinion, but being — neither a written nor a preached Gospel, but a living one.”

These ideas are all allied to the notions that religion is for the strong as well as for the weak, for those who succeed in this world as well as for those who fail; that the self-sufficient, resolute man needs the uplifting influences of religion as much as the downtrodden ; and imply that the Roman Church has been misled by a too fixed attention on the misgoverned countries of Italy and Spain, and not understanding the needs of successful peoples, has left to the Protestant churches attempts that should have been hers.

Such and similar ideas have had great success among the more vigorous of the Catholic clergy here. Archbishop Ireland and Monsignor Keane are the most distinguished advocates thereof. These men stand for separation of church and state. Archbishop Ireland has said: “ The Church recognizes as her own sphere faith and morals; she possesses and claims no mission in civil and political matters. If the Church encroaches upon the sphere of the State we should bid her away.”

Their views have been resented by conservative members of the church in Europe. There has been a little jealousy lest the self - sufficient Americans foist new ideas upon them. The disagreement has reached the Holy See, and has been treated with much discretion. The great prelates in Rome recognize the necessities of the church, but they take their steps very warily. The common interpretation is, that the Pope’s letters touching the question bear strongly in favor of the conservatives ; nevertheless, our war with Spain has not passed unnoticed. The Holy See is not likely to uphold M. l’Abbé Maignen when he rejoices in the fact that “ in Spain, the country of all Europe where the clergy seems to retain the purest theological sense and the most virile apostolic energy, the episcopate recently protested against the opening of an evangelical temple in Madrid.” The doctrine that God is on the side of the big battalions is not confined to soldiers.

In England the manifestation of a recognition that the Roman Church, in one way or another, of God or of men, does satisfy human need, has shown itself in the established church. The extreme high churchmen have adopted auricular confession ; they instruct the young to believe in the Eucharist; they have taken up great part of the ceremonies and ritual of the Roman Church. The bishops, as a body, are inclined to support them. The low churchmen and the non-conformists have taken alarm. Ihe cry of “ no Popery ” —that open sesame to the ordinary English heart — has been taken up. Appeals to Parliament have been made ; church discipline bills have been introduced; speeches and editorials declare that the fruits of the glorious Reformation, the personal independence of the free-born Briton, must not be lost. Sir William Vernon Harcourt waves his panache. Talk of disestablishment is everywhere. Probably the Protestant inheritances of England are too strong to permit the Roman Church to make large gain ; but the significance of the affair for us is that, in an English - speaking country, where Protestantism is far stronger than in the United States, there are a large number of persons who are persuaded that they can attain a fuller life through the ministry of the Roman Church, and that these same persons see their duty in the cause of the poor, and lay their hands to social reform, with far greater zeal and energy than their adversaries.

Of greater moment than the movements of the disciples of Father Hecker in America, and of the high churchmen in England, is the conduct of the Holy Apostolic See during the pontificate of Leo XIII. It is interesting to read a chapter or two from Dean Milman, upon some great Pope, such as Innocent III., and see how he narrates successively the papal relations with Germany, France, England, Spain and Italy, ending, perhaps, with a brief account of papal dealings with other countries ; and then to take up some book upon Leo XIII., and read the headings of the chapters, Germany — the Kulturkampf, France, the Republic, England, Ireland, Spain, Italy, The United States, and so on. Permanence is there, but during Leo’s pontificate the permanence has not been of petrification, but of life. In Germany the church successfully maintained a hard struggle, during which archbishops, bishops, and hundreds of priests were sent to jail. Bismarck had determined that the state should supersede the Papacy as the head of the church in Germany ; but the hostile legislation enacted after the close of the French war, in the floodtide of German national feeling, has been greatly modified, and the former powers of the church have been practically restored. In Ireland, the Pope declared for law and order against the violence of the land league. In France, he has advised all Catholics loyally to accept the Republican government.

In the United States, Cardinal Gibbons has upheld the Knights of Labor. In England, Cardinal Manning, in the time of the great dock strike, showed the interest of the church in the workingman. In Africa, Cardinal Lavigerie struggled against the slave trade. The famous encyclical of the Pope on the condition of labor has been spread all over the world.

All these matters are signs which show that the Roman Church is conscious that the world is changing; that she recognizes that new modes of life alter men’s habits, opinions, and beliefs ; that the church must change too. She must not fight against science, she must recognize that truth is of God. She must not coddle the weak, but cheer forward the strong. Who is so bold as to predict the future of the Catholic Church in America ? At present she is the church of the ignorant, but her ambition seeks to extend her influence over the whole nation. There are but three classes of citizens, which, as classes, we are sure will not come under her sway. Men of scientific knowledge ; men of independent character who are resolute to manage their own affairs, a class which is on the wane ; and third, the negroes, with whom the Catholic Church has not been successful, but who, as a class, will never have a share in guiding our national life. Set these classes aside, and divide the remainder into thirds. One third, composed of the educated, will be divided among disagreeing Protestant sects; but the remaining two thirds will be a great flock, now scattered and wandering, ready for a wise church to guide. The danger to the world from priestly intolerance and greed is practically past; the danger to the world from oligarchs, free from religious influences, is far greater. The church may well have the sympathy of the unbiased.

There is one great source from which the church will be able to draw strength. The tide of reaction against the materialistic beliefs of the passing generation is rising fast, and there is a vast army of persons now calling themselves by strange names, Healers, Faith Carers, Christian Scientists, who have a mighty power of enthusiasm. The church must open her arms to these hundreds of thousands of persons who are seeking to come nearer to God, and are spelling out new words for old supernatural cravings and old supernatural beliefs. In times past the church would have been their refuge, and they would have strengthened the church. Even now, the next Pope, like him who saw in his dream St. Francis propping the falling walls of St. John Lateran, may see that among those enthusiasts is the power to stablish the church.

H. D. Sedgwick, Jr.