Page:Tracts for the Times Vol 1.djvu/19

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Sept. 9, 1833]
[No. 2.
 

THE CATHOLIC CHURCH.


It is sometimes said, that the Clergy should abstain from politics; and that, if a Minister of Christ is political, he is not a follower of Him who said, "My kingdom is not of this world." Now there is a sense in which this is true, but, as it is commonly taken, it is very false.

It is true that the mere affairs of this world should not engage a Clergyman; but it is absurd to say that the affairs of this world should not at all engage his attention. If so, this world is not a preparation for another. Are we to speak when individuals sin, and not when a nation, which is but a collection of individuals? Must we speak to the poor, but not to the rich and powerful? In vain does St. James warn us against having the faith of our Lord Jesus Christ with respect of persons. In vain does the Prophet declare to us the Word of the Lord, that if the watchmen of Israel "speak not to warn the wicked from his way," "his blood will be required at the watchman's hand."

Complete our Lord's declaration concerning the nature of His kingdom, and you will see it is not at all inconsistent with the duty of our active and zealous interference in matters of this world. "If My kingdom were of this world," He says, "then would My servants fight."—Here He has vouchsafed so to explain Himself, that there is no room for misunderstanding His meaning. No one contends that His Ministers ought to use the weapons of a carnal warfare;—but surely to protest, to warn, to threaten, to excommunicate, are not such weapons. Let us not be scared from a plain duty, by the mere force of a misapplied text. There is an unexceptionable sense in which a Clergyman may, nay must be political. And above all, when the Nation interferes with the rights and possessions of the Church, it can with even less grace complain of the Church interfering with the Nation.

With this introduction let me call your attention to what seems a most dangerous infringement on our rights, on the part of the State. The Legislature has lately taken upon itself to remodel the dioceses of Ireland; a proceeding which involves the appoint-