The Catholic Position
MR. MARSHALL has written upon the thesis that the Catholic Church is at issue with the modern State; that the claims of the two are incompatible.
I must at this point remark that, while Mr. Marshall uses the term ‘ Roman Catholic,’I shall use the word ‘Catholic.’ The term ‘Roman’ Catholic is a provincial legal term invented for political purposes by the Westminster Crown lawyers of the late sixteenth and early seventeenth century to safeguard the remaining claims of the English Monarchy to be Catholic. To say it is meaningless or opprobrious. It was invented to be used in England as a protest that the Church of England could be Catholic without the Pope. It no longer corresponds with reality. There is not to-day a considerable body attached to the word ‘Catholic’ without the Pope, nor a great number of Catholic bodies, Roman, Milanese, Danish, and what not: there is one Catholic body, generally so called. Its common and proper name is ‘ the Catholic Church,’even in the mouths of those who deny its claim to universality, which is what the word ‘Catholic’ means: just, as the Greek Church is, in the mouths of Catholics who use common terms without affectation, the Orthodox Church, although, by definition, a Catholic does not believe it to be orthodox.
In examining Mr. Marshall’s thesis, then, that the Catholic Church is incompatible with the modern State, I must make the proviso at the outset that the special problems of the United States are a field into which the European cannot venture. The civilization, the traditions, the mode of thought of the North American Republic are now so different from those of Europe that, whatever power Americans may have to understand us, we certainly have no corresponding power of understanding them, and it is very rash for anyone upon our side of the Atlantic to write upon problems which are confined to the United States. Therefore I can only deal with Mr. Marshall’s argument as it may apply (which indeed it does) to pretty well any modern State of nonCatholic culture and to many a State of Catholic culture as well. I do not propose wholly to traverse Mr. Marshall’s position. As the reader will see before this paper is concluded, I agree with it in part, and that perhaps the most important part; but I propose to examine it not only in the points wherein a Catholic may agree with him, but also in the points in which, to my thinking, he has misconceived the problem.
Let us first of all define the issue.
Mr. Marshall has proposed three fundamental objections to an harmonious relation between the Catholic Church and the modern State, but particularly, of course, the State of non-Catholic culture.
These three fundamental objections he has not, indeed, stated in series, but they are to be found throughout his essay closely interwoven. These three fundamental objections he further supports by particular instances, accurate in the main, so far as reference is concerned, though, as I judge, sometimes leading him to false conclusions.
The three fundamental objections which Mr. Marshall finds to harmonious relation between the Catholic Church and the modern State are: —
1. That the Catholic Church, in asserting a universal right of judgment in faith and morals, claims, both in theory and in practice, the right to destroy, by any means, other conflicting bodies in disagreement with it. (Pagans, schismatics, heretics.) Therefore the modern State — meaning thereby a State such as the North American Commonwealth, which is not Catholic — stands in peril from the presence in its midst of a Catholic body. For that body, though but a part, must, by the nature of its claims and character, arrogate to itself the right of destroying the rest.
2. That the subjection of the reason made by Catholics to a general authority outside the individual, and in particular to Papal Authority, is incompatible with citizenship in the modern State. For that citizenship is based upon the conceptions: (a) that all questions whatsoever must be decided by each citizen individually in complete freedom from any authority; (b) that, such decisions being collected, a majority of them binds the minority to obedience.
3. That the claims of the Catholic Church, being universal, tend to conflict with the claims of the modern laical absolute State, which are particular.
Perhaps Mr. Marshall will quarrel with my using the terms ‘laical’ and ‘absolute.’ ‘Laical’ I can defend as meaning the conception that the modern State is not open to adopt or support any one defined and named transcendental philosophy or religion. On this point I think Mr. Marshall will agree.
The modern electoral State does indeed invariably support, morally in social effect, one religious attitude and oppress its opposite very strongly, but it does so by implication only, and indirectly; it would be shocked if it were accused of doing even that, and a defined and named religion it does not openly adopt.
As for the word ‘absolute,’ I do not use it in the sense of ‘absolute government,’but in the sense that the modern civil State, like the old pagan civil State of antiquity (to which it is so rapidly approaching in type), will brook no division of sovereignty. Its citizens are demanded by it to give allegiance to the State alone, and to no external power whatever. I think in this sense of the word ‘absolute’ Mr. Marshall will agree with me. The modern State differs from the mediæal State in that it claims complete independence from all authority other than its own, whereas the mediæval State regarded itself as only part of Christendom and bound by the general morals and arrangements of Christian men. The modern State began in the sixteenth century with the affirmation of the Protestant princes that their power was not responsible to Christendom or its officers, but was independent of them.
Now, of these three fundamental objections, I wholly disagree with the first, and find it based on a misconception. The fear that Catholics will, or should, work, otherwise than by persuasion, for the destruction of an established non-Catholic society around them can only arise from an ignorance of history and of Catholic doctrine.
With the second I disagree partly, and partly agree. I agree that if there were, or could be, such a citizenship as Mr. Marshall supposes, and a commonwealth based on it, then the Church could not produce citizens conforming to so strange a type, nor could Catholics envisage implicit obedience to so si range a commonwealth. On the ot her hand, I disagree with Mr. Marshall if he means that the normal duties of a citizen, as we know them to be in practice, cannot be discharged in full by Catholics, and I add that the strong and perfect philosophy of Catholics upon civic duties will make them, if they are good Catholies, better citizens (saving Catholic morals) than any others. For they alone will be able to give ultimate reasons for obedience to the laws, whether in a State upon the democratic model (as in Andorra), the oligarchic and plutocratic (as in England and all Parliamentary countries), or the monarchic (as in Italy and Spain, Poland, and so forth), where one man is supreme over representatives.
As to the third proposition, I find myself wholly in agreement with Mr. Marshall. In my judgment the tendency to a conflict between any State claiming unlimited powers and the Catholic Church is inevitable. Whether the State be ‘modern’ or no seems to me quite indifferent. Whether it be democratic (as some small States can be), oligarchic and plutocratic (as are all large States dependent on elected bodies), or monarchic (really and actively governed by one president or king, elected or hereditary), the civil State is always potentially in conflict with the Catholic Church. And when the civil State claims absolute authority for its laws in all matters, then it will inevitably come sooner or later into active conflict with the Catholic Church.
Now let me deal with the first point, the only one in which I wholly disagree with Mr. Marshall’s contentions — the idea that Catholics as individuals and as a body cannot but attempt to destroy, by other means than persuasion, whatever is non-Catholic in the State to which they owe allegiance.
I say that, as to the first point, I disagree with Mr. Marshall. The fear that a Catholic body within a nonCatholic society will use all means to destroy the non-Catholic elements in the society around it, to reduce it by force or fraud to the Catholic discipline, is baseless. The Catholic body will not so refrain from fear, but from the nature of its own principles. It is true that those principles necessarily assert the truth and goodness of Catholic doctrine, and, as necessarily, assert the falsity and evil of anti-Catholic ones. It is true that a Catholic regards heretical and pagan morals as things which do harm and which any society would be well rid of. But it does not follow that the Catholic will therefore act directly for the destruction of the evil by other means than conversion. And the reason should be clear. It is that in any system no one fundamental principle works alone, but each and all have to work in accordance with the others. In this case the principle that the Church is possessed of Truth, and the necessary conclusion that dissent from Truth produces evil which should be eliminated, have to work in accordance with another principle — that of Justice.
A Catholic society is amply justified by all Catholic principles in fighting the beginnings of disruption within its own body; it is amply justified in making Catholic ideas, education, manners, and all the rest of it the rule within a Catholic State. It is amply justified in struggling long and hard — as Catholic Christendom did for one hundred and fifty years at the Reformation — to prevent the break-up of Catholic society and to save the unity of its civilization. But it is not justified by its own principles in so attacking a non-Catholic society already long established and traditional. For an established society, good or evil, possesses rights — for instance, the right of the family to train the child — aggression against which would offend justice. A pagan society where the Church is a newcomer (as in the Roman Empire), a Protestant society where the Church forms but one particular body, alien in spirit to the rest (as in Holland, where Catholics are hardly half the population), a modern society becoming pagan, in the midst of which the Church so finds herself, is certainly to be affected by Catholic efforts at conversion. Catholics have always attempted and always will attempt to transform the society around them by that process, wherein they may succeed, as in the case of the Roman Empire, or fail, as (hitherto) in the case of the Japanese, but this bears no relation to the forcible action justly and rightly exercised within a Catholic society in its own defense. The two cases are not only not parallel, they are contradictory. For instance, if I can by force or fraud prevent a Mormon child to-day from joining his family and so being brought up by them, and if I exercise that force or fraud, I am doing wrong. If I attempt by arms to prevent Mormonism, at its inception, from introducing polygamy into a monogamous society, I am doing right.
The distinction is simple and should be clear, but I see that Mr. Marshall finds an argument to the contrary in the recent Concordat between the Church and the Italian State.
This Concordat excludes from certain civil functions (notably teaching in State schools) unfrocked priests. It recognizes the Catholic Church as the state religion of Italy, giving no other ecclesiastical corporation or body of opinion the same position. It gives the Catholic Church entry into, and its doctrines a permanent position in, public education. This, says Mr. Marshall, shows what a Catholic majority (my italics) would do in changing the constitutional law of a State. He further gives citations (which, so far as I can check them, are accurate and just) to support his contention that the Catholic Church claims and would exercise tyrannical powers over large and established non-Catholic bodies within any State where it could do so.
Thus he remarks that the claims of the Catholic Church extend over the whole world. He further remarks that, according to those claims, there is no parity between Catholic and other religions; that moral and educational authority (as exercised by the Church) is identified with the authority of God Himself, whence he concludes that all dissidence therefrom, on whatever scale and from whatever source, would be treated as an enemy is treated, actively, and its suppression attempted by force. In the same way he quotes the definitions on heresy, the punishment and the extirpation thereof. He remarks that disobedience to the Pope is affirmed to be morally wrong. (He seems to think that it involves necessarily a loss of salvation
— a misunderstanding of the Catholic doctrine on the nature of salvation and its attainment.) Summed up in a sentence, his conclusion seems to be this: That Catholic claims submit the sovereignty of the State to the supremacy of the Catholic Church. If for ‘submit’ we read ‘except from,’ and for ‘to the supremacy’ we read ‘the moral laws and doctrine,’ I regard that sentence as accurate.
But these changes in wording are essential, and with regard to the whole of this side of Mr. Marshall’s essay the answer is simple enough. Mr. Marshall, like many a man dealing with material not native to him, — with something alien from his own life, — misunderstands its nature. His citations are accurate; the implications which he finds in them are erroneous.
It is indeed inevitable that any corporation claiming to be what the Catholic Church claims to be — to wit, the only divine authority on earth, in matters of faith and morals — shall by theory claim universal jurisdiction in these; but it is not true that this jurisdiction either is in practice or should be in justice exercised as he thinks it would be. There is neither a conspiracy so to exercise it nor a desire so to exercise it; and the very examples that he gives are proofs of this.
The essential of action against heresy is that it takes place for the purpose of checking the inception and growth of something foreign to and destructive of Catholic society. The laws against heresy in Catholic societies of the past, the struggle against heresy during the great religious wars of from three to four hundred years ago, were both of that nature. As against an established, permanent, large nonCatholic body, there is no such attitude.
If you doubt it, look at the attitude of the Church toward the Jews. Here, if anywhere, there should have been, according to this erroneous theory of Catholic action, a policy of extermination. The Jewish community shoidd have been forbidden to exist, its children should have been taken from it and brought up in the Catholic faith wholesale, its worship should have been forbidden; it should have been the subject of a Crusade. History is a flat contradiction of this. Alien and unpopular, the subject of violent mob attacks, treated as foreigners by the civil power and therefore liable to expulsion, the Jewish body, when the Church was at the height of its power in Europe, was specially protected in its privileges so far as moral theology could protect it. When Jews conspired against the State, or were thought to be so conspiring, the State prosecuted them. But there never was, and there never will be, an effort made by the Catholic Church as such to absorb or destroy that hostile community by force. The same is true of an established heretical body, or, for that matter, of an established pagan body. I mean, by ‘established,’forming a large and well-rooted corporation within the State, composed of myriads who are in good faith, and living a settled traditional life of its own, reposing upon long-secured foundations. It is perfectly true that the civil power will always tend to extrude what it regards as alien and hostile; but Catholic moral theology as such has never countenanced action against those bodies merely because their faith and morals were not in full harmony with the Catholic Church.
What does happen — and naturally happen — is that, where the whole code of a society is Catholic, laws and institutions will follow that code, and the recent Italian Concordat is a very good example of this. The Catholics in Italy are not a political majority any more than English-speakers in the United States are a political majority. Italy is organically Catholic — not mechanically so. She is a Catholic country, not an arrangement of voters drawn up by party machines into Catholic and nonCatholic. She is a Catholic realm, in the same sense in which the Massachusetts of the Colonial period was a Puritan colony, or Japan is a pagan empire to-day. It is normal in a country Catholic to the roots not only that an unfrocked priest should not be allowed to teach (public opinion alone, apart from laws, would see to that!), but that education should be upon Catholic lines, and that the Catholic Church should be the established Church of the realm. The arrangements which apply to such conditions have no parallel in a community where those conditions do not exist.
But all this is not connected with mere majorities. In all these misconceptions perhaps the gravest and yet the most characteristic is the idea that a ‘Catholic majority’ in the modern political sense of that word would impose Catholicism over the ‘minority’ standing against it. The whole idea is wildly wrong. Such an idea as the divine right of mechanical majorities has no place in Catholic doctrine. It is one out of many machineries of government. It is more and more discredited generally over here in Europe, though still preserving a sort of fossilized life in some States. It may be right or wrong. But anyhow a Catholic majority would never, in Catholic eyes, until it was so large as to be organically identical with the general tone of society (which is a very different thing from a mechanical majority), give sufficient sanction for action against those who dissented from it.
The same misapprehension attaches to Mr. Marshall’s idea that since 1500 the Catholic claims have generated sedition and revolution. These claims have indeed always generated difficulties, often leading to armed action on either side. They have not been peculiar to the religious wars following on the Reformation after 1517. They were to be found under the Roman Empire. They are to be found to-day. The religious wars following on the Reformation were but one case, on a large scale, of such conflicts; and they were essentially the defense of what had recently been universally admitted against what was then a revolutionary movement.
So much for the first point — the imaginary peril which a Protestant or pagan society is supposed to run from the force or fraud of Catholicism in its midst. That Catholicism in its midst is an alien thing is perfectly true. That it should dread the moral influence of Catholicism as something which disintegrates that Protestantism or paganism which is the soul of its society is natural and inevitable. That it should proceed to regard Catholicism as a conspiracy against it capable of aggressive action is extravagant and out of touch with reality.
As to Mr. Marshall’s second point, that the Church produces a citizen other than that conceived as the ideal citizen of his modern State, I agree with him.
According to his definition, the ideal citizen of the modern State must be free to use his reason, must reach conclusions on all matters by his private judgment, but must accept. The coercion of any law whatsoever when it has been decided by a majority of such individual citizens so concluding.
Mr. Marshall supports this view by quoting in several forms, with perfect accuracy, the definitions of Catholic belief in the authoritative claims of the Catholic Church. He points out with justice that the individual Catholic accepts as superior to his own judgment the judgment of the Church, and the conception that the Pope is the Vicar of Christ on earth. But there is in his conception of what this attitude means one essential error. The error consists in the idea that the Catholic attitude is irrational or non-rational, while the attitude of the non-Catholic is rational. The contrast is not of this sort.
All men accept authority. The difference between groups of beliefs and judgments lies in the type of authority which they accept. The Catholic has arrived at the conviction — or, if you will, has been given the conviction (some come in from outside; some go outside and come back again; most receive the Faith by instruction in youth, but test it in maturity by experience) — that there has been a Divine Revelation. He discovers or recognizes a special action of God upon this earth over and above that general action which all who are not atheists admit. He discovers or recognizes a certain personality and voice — that of the Catholic Church — which conforms to the necessary marks of holiness and right proportion, and the ramification of doctrine from which is both consistent and wholly good. The incarnation of the Deity in the Man Jesus Christ, the immortality of the human soul, its responsibility to its Creator for good and evil done in this world, its consequent fate after death, the main rite and doctrine of the Eucharist — these and a host of other affirmations are not disassociated, but form a consistent whole, which is not only the sole full guide to right living in this world, but the sole just group of affirmations upon the nature of things.
To take up that position is to be a Catholic. To doubt it or deny it is to oppose Catholicism.
But that position is taken up under the fierce light of reason. It is indeed puerile to imagine that it could be taken up under any other light. A proposition so awful and so singular is not accepted blindfold; it is of its very nature subject to instant inquiry. It is not a thing to be taken for granted as are ideals which all accept as a matter of course. On the contrary, it is of its very nature exceptional, unlikely, and requires not only examination before it can be accepted, but an act of the will. Nor is it true, as men ignorant of history pretend, that in barbaric and uncritical times (of which they think the Faith a survival) these truths were accepted without inspection, and that the argument from reason is a modern one. Throughout the ages, from the first Apologetic of the Church in the second century to the present day, without interruption, all during the Dark Ages from Saint Hilary to Lanfranc, and later all during the Middle Ages from Saint Anselm to Ockham, all during the high intellectual life of the sixteenth, seventeenth, and eighteenth centuries, the appeal to reason by Catholics has been universal and continuous. To-day, in the twentieth century, Catholics are the only organized body consistently appealing to reason and to the laws of thought as against the a priori conceptions of physical scientists and the muddled emotionalism of ephemeral philosophical systems.
It is my own experience, and I think that of most Catholics who have mixed much with opponents of their religion, that nowhere outside the household of the Faith is the speculative reason fully active and completely free — save possibly, as a rare exception, in a few of the most intelligent skeptics. The Catholic may perhaps accept such a man as Huxley for an intellectual equal in this appeal to the reason, but he accepts very few non-Catholics as his intellectual equals. He cannot but note that the vast majority of non-Catholics accept their authority without inquiry. It is, for t he bulk of them, a mixture of what they happen to have read, of common daily experience (which boggles at all mysteries and marvels), and, running through it all, a monism not far removed from materialism, which they have none of them analyzed and which only appears by perpetual implication — as when they presume (without attempt at proof!) that what they call ‘natural law’ is unalterable, or when they fall back upon a name or a book in the place of argument.
So much for that. The Catholic acts upon reason, recognizing goodness, holiness, and authoritative divine character in the Authority he follows, just as a man acts upon reason when he recognizes an individual voice or face.
Having accepted such an Authority, reason demands imperatively the subjection to it of one’s own less perfect experience and less perfect power. I can arrive by my reason and by my experience of the world at a certitude that the Catholic Church is the sole divine authority upon earth. I cannot arrive by my reason at a certitude that man’s obviously corrupt nature can obtain eternal beatitude. My reason must accept that, and the conditions of obtaining felicity, at second hand from authority.
A parallel instance (though an imperfect one) is the map. When we take a government survey and accept its authority, t here follows as a secondary consequence our acceptation of a particular point upon it, — as that this town is north of that river, — though we have no personal experience in the matter. I say that the parallel is imperfect, because of course no one, I hope, would give to a government or any other human instrument the authority attaching to divine revelation.
But, though the Catholic bases his faith upon reason, his faith, once arrived at and firmly held, certainly prevents him from playing the part assigned by Mr. Marshall to the ideal citizen of the modern State. Neither will he submit all things to separate and individual private judgment nor will he necessarily and always obey as a moral duty laws arrived at by the mechanical process of majorities. On a multitude of things — for example, the nature and obligations of marriage — he will accept established doctrine and prefer it to any possible conclusions of his own limited experience, judgment, and powers. Should a majority order him to act against Catholic morals (as, for instance, by a law compelling the limitation of families), he would refuse to obey it. It is equally true that if, in some grave point of faith or morals not yet defined, the Papacy decided that Catholic morals involved resistance to a new law, the Catholic would resist that law. For instance, suppose a majority were to order instruction for all children of the modern State prescribing a certain course in certain sexual matters. The matter is subjected to individual judgment. Some are for, some against. At last it is solemnly and publicly promulgated from Rome that the proposed instruction violates Catholic morals. Then Catholics would thenceforward resist the decision of the majority.
Incidentally I may say that Mr. Marshall misunderstands the position of the Papacy, which he seems to regard as a despotic authority acting capriciously, whereas it is part and parcel of the Catholic Church, defining and guiding — not inventing — doctrine, and identified with the general life of Catholicism. Catholics act as they do, not because one individual has taken into his head to give them orders on a sudden, but because they are in tune with the whole spirit of the Catholic Church, of which the Pope is the central authority.
As an example of the misunderstanding, I may quote Mr. Marshall’s attitude toward the advice given by Leo XIII and subsequent Popes in the matter of Scholastic Philosophy. Mr. Marshall tells us that ‘ Pius X ordained that a philosophy which flourished in the thirteenth century should be the philosophy of the twentieth,’ and compares this attitude to a fundamentalist denying the conclusions of geology. All that is out of focus. No such thing was ever ‘ordained.’ Cardinal Mcreier’s great revival of Scholasticism was approved and commended, and its study warmly supported. But no Catholic is bound to accept that particular system or its terms. I may say in passing that anyone who does adopt it seems to me wise, for it derives from Aristotle, ‘the tutor of the Human race,’ and it represents the highest intellectual effort ever made by man; nor is there any conflict between it and evidence, nor any reason to believe our own particularly muddled time, with its disuse of reason, philosophically superior merely because it comes last. But Scholasticism is only a human system of thought; it is not of revelation; and the idea that it could be thought equivalent to the Faith, or that the Papacy was here imposing it, could only occur to one wholly unfamiliar with the ancient and abiding Religion of Christendom.
The Papacy directs in a great number of disciplinary matters, as of liturgy, ecclesiastical law, and so forth, which do not normally touch civil life. On those rare and grave occasions when it acts with plenary and doctrinal authority it says nothing new. It defines and promulgates a truth always possessed.
However, whether from the general authority of the Church, her spirit, traditions, annals, or definition, or from the particular authority of the Pope, it remains true that the Catholic cannot be an ideal citizen of the modern State as Mr. Marshall defines that ideal. He cannot pledge himself blindfolded to accept any and every decision of a mere majority; he must envisage the possibility of such a decision traversing the divine Law, and he will not (as does Mr. Marshall’s ideal citizen of the modern State) regard all subjects whatsoever as matters for private judgment, changeable and reversible at will, for some subjects are to him immutable.
From the above it will be seen that on the third point I am wholly in agreement with Mr. Marshall. If there is ground for conflict between Catholicism and Mr. Marshall’s ideal of the citizen in the modern State, still more is there, and has always been, ground for conflict between the Church and any other form of civil State which regards itself as absolute; and that conflict may appear in a future perhaps not very remote.
I have already said that Mr. Marshall may quarrel with my use of the word ‘absolute,’ and indeed there is a danger of ambiguity in that term. He points out that the modern State is not ‘absolute’ in the sense of ‘arbitrary.’ Its power proceeds in a certain limited fashion according to a certain guiding machinery; but it is absolute in the sense that it admits no other authority than its own in whatever province it chooses to exercise that authority. And this claim of the modern State to absolute authority is the more remarkable because the modern State is but one of many. It is not a universal State; it is a restricted area, and yet acts as though it had complete unlimited rights over man.
The old pagan Roman Empire in its war with Catholicism did at least claim to be universal, and its original quarrel with the Catholic Church, of which all the flrst three centuries are full, was due to a conflict between two universal authorities.
The modern State has no such universal authority, yet does it claim greater powers than ever the State claimed before, and with those powers I submit that the Catholic Church must inevitably come into conflict sooner or later; not because the State is modern, but because it claims unquestioned authority in all things.
I notice, for instance, that Mr. Marshall is particularly shocked by the admirable statement issued on the part of the English Catholic Bishops just before the late General Election in Britain, where they say that it is no part of the State’s duty to teach, and add that the authority over the child belongs not to the State but to the parent. Nothing could be more shocking in the ears of modern Nationalism — because nothing is more true. In the face of this tremendous claim, which not even the Roman Empire made, — the right to teach what it wills to every child in the community; that is, to form the whole mind of the nation on its own despotic fiat,—Mr. Marshall and those who agree with him cannot maintain that the modern State does not pretend to be ‘absolute.’ It is, in fact, more absolute than any pagan State of the past ever was. What is more, its absoluteness increases daily; that is why the conflict of which I speak seems to me inevitable.
Mr. Marshall states the issue very well when he expresses his abhorrence (by implication) of a recent authoritative Catholic pronouncement, that if certain laws arc declared invalid by the Catholic Church they are not binding. There, as we have just seen, is the whole point. Where there is a conflict between civil law and the moral law of the Catholic Church, members of the Catholic Church will resist the civil law and obey the law of the Church. And when that happens, you get the active dissension between the Church and the State which history records in all the great persecutions. That was the very crux between the Roman Empire and the Catholic Church before Constantine. In the eyes of the civil power, the Christians were rebels; in the eyes of the Christians the civil power was despotically commanding practices which no Catholic could adopt. It was demanding duties which no Catholic could admit.
That the quarrel has not yet broken out into open form (save here and there in the shape of a few riots) is due to the fact that hitherto the bulk of Catholic doctrines have been retained in States of non-Catholic culture. But as the moral distance grows greater between the Catholic and the non-Catholic, as the modern State reverts more and more to that paganism which is the natural end of those who abandon Catholicism, the direct contrast cannot fail to pass from the realms of theory to that of practice.
It is inevitable that there should appear in any absolute State — not alone in States which still trust to the machinery of voting, but in all, monarchic or democratic, plutocratic or communist — laws which no Catholic will obey. One or two tentative efforts have already been made at such laws. When those laws are presented to Catholics, there will at once arise the situation which has arisen time and again for nearly two thousand years: the refusal to obey on the part of Catholics, which refusal in the eyes of the State is rebellion. There will follow upon that what the State calls the punishment of disobedience, and what Catholics have always called, and will once again call, persecution. It will be accompanied by considerable apostasy, but also considerable heroism; and in the upshot the Faith will survive because devotion to it is stronger, more rational, better-founded, more tenacious, more lasting in substance, than that hatred which it so naturally arouses.