Why I Should Find It Difficult to Become a Roman Catholic

I

THE statements in this article are by its very title advertised to be personal; therefore no apology is needed for the intrusion of the personal element and the emphasizing of the personal point of view. The writer’s position is not merely personal, it is intensely individual, and is perhaps quite isolated; for he speaks for no one but himself; he has no organized Church behind him, nor party which he represents; indeed, he sometimes wonders whether, even in the vast modern variety of Christian belief, there exists one other person who accepts so much of the Roman Catholic position and yet remains a non-Roman. Therefore, I have been careful to head this personal contribution so as to discriminate my exact position from the outset: ‘Why I should find it difficult to become a Roman Catholic.’ For I could not write under any such title as ‘Why I could never become a Roman Catholic’; I could imagine many conditions under which I should find it possible or necessary to do so. Neither should I feel comfortable writing under the title, ‘Why I am not a Roman Catholic.’ It is conceivable that I might become one before I come to the end of this article; which confesses how near to becoming a Roman I often feel I am, though the ‘little less’ may be ‘how far away’! I often wish that I had been born a Roman Catholic in a predominantly Roman Catholic country; for I was not — I only know that I should find it difficult to make a change. I am well aware that, among the difficulties, pride and cowardice may play their part, even though I might find no trace of either. Nevertheless it is possible to state, with some assurance of sincerity, that I am sure I should n’t find it difficult to be a Roman Catholic, but only to become one. I have thought about that possibility hundreds of times, and have read every Roman apology I could lay my hands on. I rarely read anything on the other side; I find Protestant polemics even more unsatisfactory. I know, too, that I myself should find it much easier to be writing on the Roman side. The passport of power and strength that would be gained is always most alluring. Why, then, do I remain where I am?

It has been suggested to me that the real reason why I do not become a Roman Catholic is either that I am one of those eccentrics who rejoice in taking up a peculiar and isolated position or that I am too personally involved in the work I am doing, and am unwilling to relinquish the position it gives me and sink myself in a wider communion. I need hardly answer anyone who understands what it means that my present position is far too lonely and difficult for me to rejoice in it; but I admit that there is considerable truth in my wanting to continue at my present work. For many years I have been convinced, and I have been endeavoring to persuade others, that there is no insuperable barrier between what is essential to Catholicism and what is vital to Protestantism. I believe that an unnatural divorce has taken place inside the Christian religion, and although it has been pushed to extremes by controversy, both sides are standing for something true and vital, but complementary rather than contradictory. I strive so to interpret Catholicism to Protestants as to show them that Catholicism enshrines and protects all that is vital to real evangelical faith, and this has often had considerable success with sincere and single-minded lovers of our Lord. I have had far less obvious success in persuading Roman Catholics that a great deal in the position of Protestants is due not only to ignorance, but to genuine fears, which Roman Catholic authorities could remove without violating a single one of their principles. If I became a Roman Catholic I could do this work no longer. Moreover, ‘conversions’ only further exacerbate an embittered situation; and particularly the fact that they are called ‘conversions,’for this word has a widely different annotation on the opposing side.

Even if the hope of reconciliation that I am pursuing is chimerical, there are, however, wider aspects of my work which I fear I should also have to surrender if I became a Roman Catholic. I am naturally impressed with the primary need of persuading this generation that there is a God, that Christ is divine, and that some kind of Church is even a human necessity. The great majority of our people to-day are far away, not only from Roman Catholicism, but from Protestantism, and they have a good deal to accept before they can even come in sight of the things that divide us. Further, I am convinced of the need for confronting the vague religiosity, in which so many others are content to remain, with the claims of personal religion and the call of Christ.

If I were a Roman Catholic, these three main concerns of my ministry would be brought to a close. If I may judge from most Roman Catholic sermons I hear, I should have to confine myself to a much narrower set of concerns. I should no longer be able to address myself to the hostile, the indifferent, or the half-convinced; the very fact that I was a Roman Catholic would make it impossible for me to get the hearing that I have hitherto been able to obtain. This may be due to the mere prejudice of the majority of my countrymen, but I have to take them as I find them.

II

I am well aware that no consideration of the work one is doing, or supposes one is doing, should settle the question whether one should or should not become a Roman Catholic, and I am not giving this as a sufficient reason for remaining where I am.

There are, however, other consequences of crossing which I should find more difficult to reconcile myself to than a restricted audience on a narrower platform. I find no difficulty in accepting the whole of Roman Catholic doctrine, as defined, including the infallibility of the Pope. Nevertheless,

I am compelled to distinguish between the statements of defined doctrine, authoritative teachers, and saintly mystics and the statements which I often hear in Roman Catholic pulpits or read in the popular books of devotion and propagandist tracts. The general religious attitude which seems to prevail among considerable numbers of the Roman Catholic laity I find a great stumblingblock; and it seems to me to be fostered by the emphasis placed upon the formal acceptance of doctrine and the performance of external practice, and the absence of a sufficient balancing insistence upon the interior apprehension of faith and the need for its expression in personal and social life.

Perhaps some instances should be given. I find no difficulty in the Tridentine definitions as to what takes place in the consecration of the bread and wine in the Mass; but I very much doubt whether the popular understanding preserves the Tridentine balance which, in its main statements, is careful to insist that it is the substance of the bread and wine which is changed, and this becomes the substance of the body and blood of our Lord. If ‘substance’ were omitted on either side, I take it we should be presented with an entirely different explanation. I therefore welcome the doctrine of transubstantiation, because it relieves us from any idea that in receiving the Sacrament we shall be consuming the accidental qualities of Christ’s flesh and blood. But the very word ‘substance,’ even when it is carefully insisted on, is unfortunately liable, because of its modern connotation, to crude and carnal conceptions. It is because of this that transubstantiation is so feared and hated by Protestants; the term ‘substance’ is entirely misunderstood by them. But I am not at all sure that all Roman Catholics understand it — which thus leaves room for gross and misleading notions.

Again, I find no difficulty in accepting the theological definition of the position awarded to the Blessed Virgin. Mother of Our Lord, and this right up to the declaration of the Immaculate Conception, which, I understand, really only involves that something was granted to her by anticipation similar to what Christian baptism bestows upon us all — namely, freedom from original sin. I think it is impossible to exaggerate the position she has among the saints who now intercede for us in glory, who was chosen to be thee Mother of Him who is Very God of very God. Nevertheless, I should find it difficult to use some of the prayers addressed to her, which seem to me to pass beyond the asking of her prayers and to become petitions addressed to her, and sometimes apparently with the idea that they have more efficacy when addressed to her than if addressed to her Divine Son. I do not feel very comfortable in joining in the Litany of Loreto, when that is recited before the Blessed Sacrament exposed for worship. I trust I am not grudging or envious of the theological position given to the Blessed Virgin; indeed, I am gratefully conscious of the elevation of our humanity involved in her exaltation; but I am jealous for the honor and place given to our Lord himself. I do feel, in the popular devotion to Mary, something which not only enters into competition with the Divine, but even threatens to eclipse it.

Again, I do not find any difficulty in the definition of the infallibility of the Pope. Unless the Church can lay down what is of faith, I do not see why I should listen to her, any more than to any other statement of opinion; and when this is solemnly confirmed by the responsible head of the Church, with the full conscious intention of speaking on behalf of all Christians, I find no difficulty in believing that special protection is given to prevent any such statement leading to error. I do not even quarrel with the closing words of the Infallibility Decree, that such statements are irreformable ‘of their innovation and not by reason of the Church’s consent.’ I want at least some statements to be irreformable. Unless some can be so regarded, there would be no prevention that the Church might not attempt to lay other foundations than those which are laid.

Further, only an irreformable statement could give those guarantees which are needed not only for the security of the Church, but for the safety of the world. I should feel much happier if the decree itself laid down what is, I believe, recognized as a practical necessity— namely, that the Pope first consult the Church before he promulgates a decree. And I hope that the ‘irreformability’ of doctrine does not mean that the doctrine could not be better stated in the future, when changing language or further understanding made that necessary. I am naturally anxious to know what Papal statements infallibility actually covers, and particularly that it does not mean that certain attitudes of the Church taken up in the past are beyond question and can never be repudiated — such as, for instance, the blessing of the Crusades, the methods of the Inquisition, or the wisdom of some excommunication. I am anxious, in short, that infallibility should not be pressed to include what is virtually a claim to the impeccability of the Church.

There are questions of atmosphere in which I should find it perhaps a little difficult to breathe freely. I love the regular services of the Roman Church, — the Mass, the Offices, and such popular devotions as Benediction, — but I should say good-bye with great regret to the freer services of Protestantism, in which preaching, open conference, and the free utterance of prayer by anyone have a larger place, for I regard them as necessary instruments for reaching the populace or for giving to the laity sufficient self-expression. In addition, I am afraid that I should find what I feel is the prevailing political atmosphere of the Roman Church at least slightly oppressive; for I cannot but feel it to be not only predominantly conservative, but conventional, and even worldly. I am by way of being both a socialist and a pacifist, and while I am prepared to define those terms in a way that does not conflict with the allowance of a place for private property and the natural right of anyone to defend himself, his goods, or his country, I feel the general attitude of the Roman authorities to these ideals to be indiscriminating, and the general impression and positivist effect created lamentable, ultimative, and reactionary.

I should feel equally unhappy about the attitude of the Roman authorities to Biblical criticism. I recognize how anarchic and irresponsible Protestant criticism has become; but I feel the Roman attitude to be timid, too much tied to doubtful traditions, and insufficiently governed by the Scripture itself.

III

These difficulties might, in certain eventualities, have to be put up with, for of course I should only accept what I had to and believed I was accepting; but there would still remain what I at present, feel to be the greatest difficulty. If I were to pass over into the Roman Communion, instead of that bringing me into closer union with all my fellow Christians, which is what I most earnestly long for, I should find that I had only secured communion with one part of Christendom at the expense of separating myself from all the rest. For, according to the rubric for the reception of converts, I have to declare that I believe the ‘Roman Church to be the one true Church established on earth by Jesus Christ’; and this would, in practice, necessitate that I must repudiate all who are not in communion with Rome as having no part or lot in the Church of Christ. I was once told by a well-known Jesuit that this is not what the rubric really entails; it would only mean admitting that Rome was the one Church which had kept the true faith. I had to confess that if that was its meaning it would go far to remove my greatest difficulty. But I questioned whether this was not his private interpretation of the rubric, and with his usual frankness he admitted that it probably was. Even if I could read into the rubric that meaning, by any private judgment that it would be legitimate for me to adopt, I know I should have to show by my actions that it meant very much more.

I know that it is authorized Roman doctrine that there is a mystical as well as a visible Church; that the mystical Church is the ultimate source of salvation, and that many souls outside Rome and even outside the explicit confession of the Christian faith may belong to it. But in practice I should not be allowed to have any Christian fellowship with them; I must never again take part in the worship of other Christians. If I entered an AngloCatholic Church where the Blessed Sacrament was reserved, I must refuse to make my obeisance to it; and I must treat all other organized Christian bodies as apostates, pretenders, and enemies. If I was to be of much use in propaganda, I should have to spend a lot of my time pouring scorn upon the Church of England and treating Nonconformists as something almost beneath Christian consideration. Now, despite the fact that a good many of my fellow Christians outside Rome already refuse me communion with them and treat those with whom I am in fellowship much as the Roman Church treats them, and although some of my Low Church and Nonconformist critics will not thank me for remaining where I am, and I fear wall only be contemptuous when they learn that I do it for their sakes, nevertheless I cannot bring myself to purchase communion with one half of Christendom only at the price of separating myself from the other half.

It may well be that at this point some acute Roman Catholic reader will exclaim, ‘This man is really more of a Protestant than any of his fellows; he may accept Roman doctrine, but he accepts it on his own authority; he exercises the right of private judgment rather than the mind of the Church in the interpretation of Roman doctrine, and this final objection only clouds the one clear issue that has to be faced — namely, that the Roman Church claims to be the one true Church of Jesus Christ. If he rejects that, he rejects everything else.’ I am well aware that this is the issue; but is it as clear as all Roman apologists imagine? In the first place, I very much question whether any infallible decree can be pointed to which declares the Roman Church, at any rate, the one true Church; Rome has not yet altered the Nicene Creed to read, ‘I believe in the One Holy Roman Catholic Church.’ It is certain that the Roman authorities cannot and will never attempt to decide who belongs to the mystical Church. Can they decide, and have they done so infallibly, that they know precisely where the boundaries of the true Church can be rightly drawn? I am perfectly willing to admit that historical considerations establish at least the lineal descent of the present Roman communion unbroken back to the primitive Church and the apostolic foundation. I am willing to allow that at the great Schism the Greeks were at least more in the wrong than the Romans; that the Orthodox Church in its present attitude to the Papacy gets back on what the Eastern Church once held. I am not moved by any consideration that the Greek Orthodox Church is to be preferred to the Roman Church. I am under no delusion that the Reformation reformed the Church.

or that the Elizabethan Settlement settled anything. The‘establishment’ of the Church of England has only resulted in a separation from itself of many of its most earnest members. The fissiparous tendency that has manifested itself in Protestantism, on whatever basis it has tried to build, the general doctrinal confusion of the Church of England, and the debilitating vagueness consequent upon the rejection of all doctrinal authority which now afflicts Nonconformity, all speak for themselves. Meantime the Roman Church persists, and is perhaps the only Church that is making a real advance, both in numbers and in prestige. Nevertheless, this is not the whole story.

It is admitted by many Roman exponents and apologists that the abuses which preceded the Reformation were of the most scandalous and reprehensible nature; others will admit that the persecutions which repressed heresy in Spain, were unsuccessful in Holland, and have left in England an embittered opinion on both sides, have only bequeathed a heritage of suspicion, fear, and hate that cloud the issues for thousands of souls. I am under no delusion that Protestants have not persecuted. Even after physical persecution was abandoned, they repressed Roman Catholic worship and profession in England, with heavy penalties. If some of the more extreme Protestants still had their way, I would not guarantee that they would not persecute again, or at least see that Roman Catholicism was either hampered by distressing legal restrictions or altogether prohibited. Nevertheless, while most intelligent and illuminated Protestants now repudiate persecution as principle, it is not so certain that Roman Catholics do. I find in Roman Catholic books on Toleration and tracts on Persecution an apology, timidity, and reservation on this subject which leave the doors open to the possibility of its worst revival.

It is not, in my judgment, sufficient to apologize for the persecutions of the past by saying that they were part of the accepted policy of the age. The Church of Christ surely ought to be in advance of the spirit of the age, and not give in to popular hate and fear. It is no excuse to say that Protestants were just as bad, and to object that, if Rome issued a decree that persecution must never be resorted to, Protestants either would not or could not give any equivalent promise. That distinction would surely only be a proof of the practical and spiritual superiority of the Roman Church.

Nor is much weight to be allowed to the suspicion of some Roman Catholic apologists that the modern objection to persecution is due partly to sentimental reasons, which put physical security before the integrity of faith, and partly to the giving up of belief in any definite faith and maintaining that one kind is just as good as another. Such opinions may be found, but the opinion of the present writer, and of many others, has nothing whatever to do with such considerations. There are even worse things than being put to death, even by being burned alive. It is not a question of the injury done to the body, but of the harm done to faith. It is not the people who are put to death for heresy, but the people who embrace orthodoxy to save their skins, that I am concerned about. It can surely be maintained that the dogmatic decision of a Pope that faith is not to be coerced is contradicted by recourse to persecution.

I find I have a divergence between Roman principles, which I can accept, and Roman policy, in which I cannot allow it to be thought that I acquiesce. This consideration leads to the question of abuses. They ought not to have led to schism; but where does the responsibility for that error even then really rest? Surely partly, at least, on the side of those who not only tolerated these abuses for centuries, but allowed them to become so firmly entrenched in the practice of the Church. No Church can prevent wolves from getting in among the sheep, but there must surely be something wrong with a Church when wolves not only get into the fold by the simple device of wearing sheep’s clothing, but manage to get themselves elected as chief shepherds of the flock. If only a Pope, in calling Christendom to unity, would sorrowfully admit that some of his predecessors in that office had at least put a terrible strain upon unity, what a difference it would make! We are not raking up the abuses of the past in order to discredit the Roman Catholic Church, but to ask that the abuses of the past shall be officially admitted, their scandalous effect allowed for, and more guarantee given against their recurrence. For instance, one of the obstacles to accepting the Papal supremacy is that it has been used in the past to make quite other than spiritual claims over individuals and nations. This was, of course, due to entanglement of the spiritual claims of the Popes with the exercise of temporal power. It is quite possible that the recent settlement between the Papacy and the Italian State really puts an end to the temporal power; but when the event is hailed on the placards of Catholic papers with the announcement ‘Pope and King,’one wonders if it is not regarded by Catholics themselves as a regaining of temporal power. If there could be an infallible declaration concerning the purely spiritual jurisdiction of the Pope, prejudice would be undermined and the fear that still remains removed.

IV

The comparison which has been sometimes drawn between Catholic and Protestant populations has often been made as if financial prosperity, industrial progress, and external cleanliness were sufficient indications of divine favor, of democratic liberty, or of approximation to godliness. All such comparisons are sufficiently ruled out the moment New Testament standards are surrendered to. But even with these qualifications in mind, and perhaps with the admission that whatever balance there was against Catholicism is not only being redressed, but being reversed, on such issues as intellectual integrity, commercial honesty, and sexual purity, there is still a widespread opinion among traveled and not obviously prejudiced people that in ethical standards, personal responsibility, and personal intelligence Protestants are manifestly in advance of Catholics. The Roman Catholics that I myself have been closely acquainted with, chiefly monks and priests, have been of a very high order. I have also a wide circle of acquaintances in the Anglican priesthood and a great number of friends among Nonconformist ministers and laity, and I can testify to the sincerity, earnestness, piety, and consecration which I believe are their prevailing qualities. As regards the general average produced by Catholicism and Protestantism, I have no means of judging beyond common observation. It is unfair to take the highest Protestantism can produce and contrast this with the worst that disgraces Roman Catholicism.

I am forced to admit that Roman Catholicism is capable of a sanctity which I very much question whether Protestantism could ever produce; and I should maintain this even though feeling that sometimes Roman Catholic canonized sanctity is of too exotic and cloistered a type, and while at the same time recognizing that Protestant sanctity is left uncanonized and is more exercised in social service, though there often with a disinterested aim and an extreme of sacrifice which really deserves canonization. But there is something about Catholic canonized sanctity which bears indisputable marks of being supernatural; Protestant sanctity more often bears the marks of ordinary ethical attainability. I very much question, however, if the worst that Protestantism has produced is quite equal to the worst Roman Catholicism has sunk to. I still remain doubtful whether the ethical and intellectual level of, say, Mexican, Italian, or Irish priests is on the level with German Evangelical, Scottish Presbyterian, or English Nonconformist ministers. Something, no doubt, must be allowed for racial characteristics and the opportunities for education; but have not the last four centuries of the differing types of Christianity some responsibility for these comparative conditions? A Protestant friend of mine always puts in an argument at this point on behalf of the Roman Catholics, however: that the Roman Church has to minister to ignorant, common, and degraded peoples. I willingly admit that Protestant congregations tend to be eclectic. But the comparison I would press here as valid would instance the converts of the Salvation Army. There are many things about the Salvation Army that do not win my entire approval, but its workers do go down to the lowest people, and do not leave them where they are. If I can trust to general observation and contrast the Catholic and Protestant quarters in Liverpool or Glasgow, I find considerable room for perplexity.

To sum up the comparison as charitably as possible, I do not find a general superiority of Catholic over Protestant such as I should expect if Rome were the one true Church and Protestants were altogether outside it. I am persuaded that whatever differences can be traced have nothing to do with Catholic doctrine, are not chargeable to the teaching of the great Roman doctors or the example of the great Roman saints; but I believe there is a danger in every form of Catholicism, Roman, Greek, or Anglican, which accounts for what I still believe to be a disquieting balance on one side rather than on the other, and it is something which I believe could be reversed. The Catholic system is always in danger of making too much of external expansion, and too little of interior demand. This applies in my judgment both to doctrinal demands and to sacramental devotion. I entirely recognize the need for a well-defined doctrinal faith, and I regret that in Anglicanism this is so often repudiated and in Nonconformity so widely abandoned. But the maintenance of the necessity for doctrinal fidelity can be so pushed forward that it comes to be regarded as sufficient to believe certain doctrines, or just to accept in general what the Church believes, as if that ensured one’s salvation. Added to this there may be encouraged a pride in orthodoxy and a contempt of all others, which makes this attitude a positive danger. Moreover, it has to be said on behalf of those who not only have drifted away from orthodoxy, but have taken up a prejudiced attitude toward it, that it is often the way it has been preached and expounded, and the unlovely attitude with which it is often combined, which go far to explain their reaction to the extreme position that dogma is dangerous and doctrine is unnecessary.

And this brings me to what I am persuaded is a very serious weakness and cause of difficulty to much present Roman argument. The fact that I accept Roman doctrine because it appeals to me as philosophically sound, and faithful to Scriptural teaching, exposes me, as I know, to Roman condemnation that I am merely relying on my private judgment, that I do not believe on the authority of the Church, and therefore that what I possess is not faith at all. My position would surely be inadequate if I rejected the authority of the Church altogether, or believed merely on my own judgment; whereas the putting forward of faith as merely belief on authority, which is the point so stressed in Roman Catholic exposition, is surely quite inadequate. This difference of opinion, I am well aware, goes back to the Reformation controversy, when the Reformers stressed the idea that faith is an assurance that one is forgiven — or, as modern Protestants would put it, faith is due to a religious experience which cannot be doubted.

Surely what is wrong here is that Protestants and Catholics are maintaining between themselves two essentials of faith. I take it that it is orthodox Catholic doctrine that some things are believed on the basis of reasonable argument, that other things are believed on the authority of the Church; but, since it is admitted also that saving faith is a supernatural gift, that must be something different from belief established on argument or belief on the reasonableness of trusting the Church. Now it is surely this supernatural gift of faith which the Reformation stood for as a necessary completion if it was to become the faith that saves. This is included, I take it, in defined Roman doctrine; but is it not often forgotten, in pressing for belief on the authority of the Church? And is not the emphasis on this one point, apart from the other essential elements, likely to have a dangerous effect? When one is asked to believe simply on the authority of the Church, does it not tend to produce a carelessness about the experimental confirmation in a personal experience of grace, and the need for expressing our belief, not only in creed and devotion, but in character and social life? Further, does it not breed a tendency simply to say, ‘ I believe what the Church teaches,’ without being too careful to inquire what exactly the Church does teach?

I am the more moved to press this point because I can find Roman Catholic admissions to the effect that the doctrine of faith has not yet been very fully worked out. And is it not just this essential element in faith — namely, of going on to an experimental knowledge — that Protestantism in general, and Evangelicalism in particular, in however one-sided a way, have insisted on? I am convinced that it would make a great difference if Roman Catholic teaching insisted more upon the rationality of belief in God, which modern Protestantism has so come to reject; and if the necessity of an interior experience and some other confession than a credal one were more emphasized, not only would difficulties be removed in the way of accepting the general Roman Catholic position, but the whole life of Roman Catholicism would be lifted above its present level.

A similar distinction needs surely to be drawn in the way in which Roman Catholicism insists upon attendance at Mass. It may seem a fortunate circumstance in these days that Romanism has something to hold people to worship when everywhere else worship is being neglected; but is it sufficient to secure that true and spiritual worship is being offered by those who attend? I believe that the Mass is the highest form of Christian worship, and I believe that no Christian who really understood what the Mass was could do anything but joyfully assent to it. The often poor exposition of what it is, however, is responsible for its being so feared and disliked, and the insistence merely upon attendance leaves many Roman Catholics able to infer that attendance is enough, when surely what conditions acceptable assistance at Mass is that one really enters into some degree of communion with the Sacrifice of Christ. Now it is precisely this that Protestantism, while neglecting the sacramental representation of Christ’s death, has nevertheless so much insisted on, as its hymns and preaching sufficiently testify, for in their own way they are a proclaiming of the Lord’s death.

V

I should conclude, therefore, both from the way in which Romanism and non-Romanism divide Christendom and from the elements which Catholicism and Protestantism respectively emphasize, as well as from the complementary virtues and defects which Catholics and Protestants exhibit, that the two systems have managed to divide Christianity roughly in two, each appropriating simply one half. It is the whole that I, and I believe so many others, crave. ’I believe in the One Holy Catholic Church’ — not in half of one. I cannot merely exchange one half for the other with any sense of gain for myself or for the whole Church of Christ; I cannot repudiate half my fellow Christians to placate the other half; and therefore I maintain that my present position, Protestant though my Roman brethren may declare it to be, is a protest on behalf of Catholicism, I go further and believe that I am true to the best Roman teaching; and I do not want to be unfaithful to that by appearing in the sight of the world, or of my fellow Christians, to accept a

system which is bound up with so much of the past unrepented of, and even with so much in the present that is a confusion or a contradiction of the vital and necessary things for which Rome stands.

This position does involve, I know, the acceptance of the idea that the Church of Christ has become outwardly divided. The very tenor of the apostolic exhortations and of Christ’s prayer that it should be one does not, to my judgment, exclude the possibility that such a disaster might happen. But while our Lord’s prayer does not involve that this could never happen, it surely involves that it need not continue. Moreover, while feeling quite unable to admit that the Roman Catholic Church is coterminous with the whole Church of Christ, or that to be, temporarily, out of communion with the Roman See means that one does not belong to the Church, I find no difficulty in believing that the Roman See is the heir to the promise made to Saint Peter, ‘Upon this rock I will build my church.’ I can find no other adequate historical fulfillment of that promise but in the Papacy, and I look to the Roman See yet to bring about the reunion of Christendom by such admissions, explanations, and promises as would detract nothing from her past definitions or future dignity, and to construct some way back to communion with her that shall not entail repudiating other Christians who cannot as yet take that way. So upon her threshold I stand, waiting for the door to be opened, not to me as much as to others for whom I am concerned. If, in taking that position, I am adjudged as thus only condemning myself to exclusion from the true fold of the Church, then if I may, without irreverence, take words of Christ as defense, I can only say, ‘Other sheep He has, which are not of this fold: them also I must bring.'