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We will now give an account of two documents which the Vatican has issued in condemnation of Modernism-a Syllabus and an Encyclical. The fear of causing pain by free criticism of these documents led us to consult an eminent Roman theologian as to the authority which is attached to them. His answer, in which we have made one or two corrections in the English language which he courteously employs, is this : ' As to the value of Roman decisions, you will find what you want in the recent book, Lucien Choupin, Valeur des Décisions doctrinales et disciplinaires du S. Siège (Paris, Beauchesne, 1907). More simple is the question about the infallibility of the Pope. Here our theologians are clearer and concordant. No Congregation and no man can share that privilege : only when the Pope speaks in his quality of universal pastor and doctor of the Church, making officially known his intention of doing so, and only in rebus fidei et morum, his decisions must be held infallible by Catholics. There are, as in everything, some fanatics who would like to find infallibility in every word of the Pope, but no one takes them in earnest. It is certain that since the definition of the Immaculate Conception of Mary the Pope has given no infallible decision. The definition of the Infallibility itself does not belong to the same category, because it was given in an Oecumenical Council and not by the Pope alone.' We are assured, then, that we shall not distress instructed Roman Catholics by a free and candid criticism of these documents.
The Syllabus, called from its opening word Lamentabili, was drawn up by the Holy Roman and Universal Inquisition, approved and confirmed by Pope Pius X, and issued July 3, 1907. It contains and condemns sixty-five propositions, expressed in the words of the compilers and not of the supposed authors, who are never mentioned by name. M. Loisy thinks that most of them are taken from his works, though not without grave misrepresentation. As space is limited, and as most of the alleged errors are discussed again We cannot avoid regret that a priest has thrown himself into party politics. His excommunication will
, no doubt, be announced before this article is published.
in the Encyclical, we do not consider it our duty to examine this document in detail.
The Encyclical followed it on September 8 in the same year. Its title is Pascendi Dominici gregis. Its form is a letter from the Pope himself to all bishops in communion with the Holy See. That we cannot discuss it in detail will be evident when it is said that it would fill some sixty pages of this Review. The difficulty of reference is increased by the fact that in the original Latin, which we use, it is not broken up into numbered sections'; but we shall avail ourselves for convenience of the division into 154 sections made in the French version by the Abbé Elie Blanc.
It begins with the assumption that there is a sect of Modernists; proceeds to give, and to refute, a general scheme of its doctrine ; and ends with the measures to be taken for its repression. And our first difficulty is that we can find no evidence of the existence of such a sect at all. Nor is this difficulty confined to ourselves. M. Loisy, Father Tyrrell, and M. Sabatier tell us that they know of no Modernist school. That there is a movement of Modernism nobody will deny—a movement to adapt the Church to the requirements of the age. M. Loisy is influenced by it when he takes account of criticism, and Father Tyrrell when he would bring back the Church from formalism to real religion, and Don Murri when he accepts the democratic spirit, and Pope Pius X when he would bring back Church music to the decency which the age demands; but a party of Modernists it would be hard to find. The same movement affects different men not only to various extents but in various manners.
The traveller in Utopia, however, has not only discovered a tribe of Modernists, but has reported their constitution. We also have suffered from the invention of parties and the consequent forcing of men to fit into them. Some person in a fit of classification invented a 'High Church Party,' and pressed into it such diverse persons as Dr. Pusey and Dr. Hook and Bishop Wilberforce and Charles Lowder and the writers of Lux Mundi. The next thing was to make each member of the party responsible for whatever another member thought or did. To draw a line which shall include all these and exclude Mr. Maurice is as difficult as to enclose in a circle the county of Cromartie. We learn that a similar task of spiritual geography has been accomplished, and that there has been discovered a large company of Modernists-multi e catholicorum numero, quin, quod longe miserabilius, ex ipso sacerdotum coetu ($6who base their common religion on a double argument: a doctrine of the relativity of scientific knowledge, which leads to Agnosticism ($16); and, to avoid absolute Atheism, a doctrine of another form of knowledge which issues from the immanence of God in man created after His likeness ($ 19). We will not attempt the task of discussing the Kantian conception of knowledge; but it is worth while remembering that just the view which the Encyclical condemns was that which brought back Romanes to the Christian faith. Our readers will remember how, after a Christian youth, that great man thought that, because science seemed satisfied with Agnosticism, he should profess himself an Atheist; and how in course of time he found that there was a want which agnostic science could not satisfy, and realized that besides science there was another form of knowledge, and a faculty adapted to the acceptance of it, which enabled him before his death to remain an agnostic scientist, indeed, but to become a believing Christian. We do not assume that his view was right, but we maintain that conceptions such as his do not merit to be called a 'synthesis of all heresies.'
Because phenomena cannot prove divine things, the Modernists are constrained to a criticism which cuts away from the record of our Lord's life all that marks Him out as superior to other men (24). As to the criticism itself, we have already indicated our dissent from M. Loisy. But we would ask, Allowing that the events recorded by the Evangelists happened just as they are recorded, did they suffice to prove His Godhead? Were there not among the spectators of His mighty works men, not less intelligent than the disciples, who were not convinced that He was divine ? Nay, even among the disciples, was the belief in His Godhead the immediate result of their ocular experience, or was there need of the awaking of another faculty under the influence of the Holy Spirit to convert this experience into faith? The conversion had to take place somewhere, whether the facts were those which the Evangelists record or the scanty remnant of them which M. Loisy retains. Where, then, was the interest of the Modernists in cutting down the miracles, seeing that, be they many or few, no phenomenon is, by their hypothesis, a cause of faith unless there be a sort of knowledge which is not relative—a sort of knowledge which comes from the immanence of God in man? If there be, as the Encyclical alleges, any genetic connexion between the three elements of the Modernist philosophy, we are pretty sure that it is asserted in the wrong order.
It was not the Kantian who, in terror of Atheism, clutched at a philosophy of Immanence; and then, for fear this theory might not be strong enough to bear so heavy a burden, sought the aid of criticism to reduce the difficulty of our Lord's life to a more manageable bulk. Evidently the real family history is this: that Relativism and Immanentism are not mother and daughter, but two sisters who, after a time of estrangement, are coming to appreciate one another ; and that Criticism, if perchance she comes to stay in the same house, is of an entirely distinct family. It is difficult to describe the relations of a family if one has never lived in it, but rather has thought all its members odious and contemptible.
A small part of the Encyclical is devoted to the censure of those Modernists who plead the cause of social liberty (§ 106). Although it is quite untrue that there is a system of social thought which follows as a necessary consequence either from the theological and philosophical views which certain Modernists actually hold, or from those which are attributed to them in the Encyclical, it is likely enough that they have a general sympathy with what may be called, but not in a party sense, democracy—that sort of democracy which among ourselves finds advocates no less on one side of the House than on the other. It is a democracy which sees the hand of God more clearly in the growth of a people than in the permanence of institutions; which, honouring man as man, cannot think that the faithful layman has no function in the Church besides passive submission; which regards the censure of a book without opportunity granted to the writer to explain his views as akin to tyranny ($ 69); which considers the regal pomp of the papal court as less likely to win men to Christ than a return to clerical humility and simplicity ($ 106). If these are the contentions of some Modernists, we hardly think that they will regard the censure of them as a reproach, or that Englishmen generally will condemn them.
The last section of the Encyclical states the practical measures to be taken to stop the disease (8$ 130--153). The philosophy of the thirteenth century is to form the basis of study; attendance at public universities is discouraged; professors suspected of Modernism are to be excluded from seminaries; bishops are to use redoubled diligence in repressing suspected books, even if they be by authors of good repute and have received the imprimatur elsewhere; tradesmen who sell such works are to be forbidden to call themselves Catholic booksellers; bishops are to forbid clerical meetings, except rarely and under strict supervision as to topics and speakers; in every diocese a Council of Vigilance is to be formed, to meet every two months, and to report to Rome every three years supposed cases of Modernism. In this way, we suppose, the clergy are to learn how much confidence is placed in them, and are to prepare themselves to meet the questions of a critical world. The secret informer is already too common a person in Italy; and a distinguished French writer anticipates an ' age of delation and hypocrisy.'
We are unwillingly compelled to call attention to what may be mildly termed the unkind tone of the Encyclical. It has a sad precedent in the virulent way in which controversy was generally conducted in a ruder age. But most combatants have at least learned courtesy, if not charity ; a political opponent is not called a pickpocket, nor does the scholar send his rival' to eternal perdition for his treatise on the irregular verbs. If we might have expected to find anywhere signs of such improved manners, it would surely have been in a solemn Letter addressed to bishops by the