Petri Privilegium/II/Chapter 3
TRADITION OF THE INFALLIBILITY OF THE ROMAN PONTIFF.
Thus far we have enumerated, briefly, the reasons adduced for and against defining the infallibility of the Pontiff, speaking ex cathedrâ. In order, then, to preclude as far as possible any ambiguity or uncertainty as to the limits and extension of the doctrine of the infallibility of the Pontiff, speaking ex cathedrâ, intended by me in this Pastoral, and by those known to me, who believe this to be a truth of revelation, I will once for all state the various opinions which have been put forward in opposition and in its defence. No better analysis can be found than that of Bellarmine, which I will therefore simply transcribe. After saying that the Pontiff may be considered in four ways—1, As a private person; 2, As a private Doctor; 3, As Pontiff alone with his counsellors; 4, As Pontiff with a General Council, Bellarmine says:—
1. 'Both Catholics and heretics agree in two things; first, that the Pontiff, even as Pontiff and with his counsellors, or even with a General Council, may err in controversies as to particular facts, which chiefly depend on the information and testimonies of men; secondly, that the Pontiff, as a private doctor, may err even in questions of faith and morals; and that from ignorance, as at times happens to other doctors.
2. 'Next, all Catholics agree in two other things, not indeed with heretics, but among themselves. First, that the Pontiff, with a General Council, cannot err in framing decrees of faith, or general precepts of morals. Secondly, that the Pontiff alone, or with his own private Council, whether he may err or not, in deciding anything in a dubious matter is, nevertheless, to be obediently listened to by all the faithful.
'These points so disposed of, only four opinions remain.
'The first is, that the Pontiff, even as Pontiff, although he define a doctrine with a General Council, may be a heretic himself, and teach heresy. … This is the opinion of all heretics, especially of Luther and Calvin.
'The second, that the Pontiff, even as Pontiff, may be a heretic, and may teach heresy if he define without a General Council. This is the opinion of Nilus and the later Greeks, of Gerson, Almain, and others. 4 The third, that the Pontiff cannot in any way be heretical, or publicly teach heresy, even though he alone frame a definition: which is the opinion of Pighius in book iv., chap. 3, of the "Ecclesiastical Hierarchy."
'The fourth, which lies between these extremes, is, that the Pontiff, whether personally he can be a heretic or no, cannot, in any event, define anything heretical to be believed by the whole Church. "This is the most common opinion of nearly all Catholics," as S. Thomas says.
'Of these four opinions, the first is heretical: the second not propriè heretical, for we see still that it is tolerated in the Church; yet it appears to be altogether erroneous, and proximate to heresy.'
It is to be borne in mind that Bellarmine wrote this before the Four Articles of 1682 had been framed or censured.
'The third opinion is probable, but not certain.
'The fourth opinion is most certain, and to be asserted.
Bellarmine in later years reviewed his 'Controversies,' and wrote of this point as follows:—
'This opinion is more rightly the common judgment of Catholics; for opinion implies uncertainty, and we hold this judgment to be certain.' And again, 'I said that the opinion of those who teach that infallibility of judgment resides not in the Pope, but in the General Council, is not plainly heretical, but erroneous and proximate to heresy. We do not, indeed, venture to pronounce that opinion plainly heretical, because they who follow it have, neither they nor their books, been condemned by the Church. Nevertheless, it seems to us so manifestly erroneous, that it may deservedly be declared by the judgment of the Church to be heretical.'
In the Pastoral of 1867, I gave a number of quotations by which the strange misconceptions or misinterpretations of objectors are sufficiently precluded.
The words ex cathedrâ exclude all acts of the Pontiff as a private person or as a private Doctor, and confine the character of infallibility to those acts which are promulgated from the Chair of supreme authority as Universal Doctor of the Church in faith and morals.
We have been lately told, by those who desire to hinder the definition of this doctrine by secular opposition rather than by theological reason, that there are some twenty opinions as to the conditions required to authenticate an utterance of the Pontiff ex cathedrâ. I will therefore venture to affirm that no other conditions are required than this: That the doctrinal acts be published by the Pontiff, as Universal Teacher, with the intention of requiring the assent of the Church.
This, then, is the opinion which, in the following pages, we shall exclusively intend by the terms ex cathedrâ.
It will be observed that the fourth Gallican Article differs from all the above-cited opinions, inasmuch as it asserts that the judgments of the Roman Pontiff in matters of faith are not irreformable, unless the assent of the Church—that is, either congregated or dispersed, either previously or subsequently—shall adhere to them.
The Gallicans maintained the infallibility of the See of Peter, but not the infallibility of his Successor.
The tradition of the Church, while it refuses to separate the See from the Successor of Peter, affirms the identity, and therefore the infallibility, of both.
In order to narrow the question, I may add that no one now contends for the necessity of General Councils. The framers of the Four Articles of 1682 were too intelligent to contend that the assent of the Church congregated in Council is necessary to an infallible declaration of the Pontiff. They contended only for the consent of the Church dispersed. But it will be difficult for them to show that such an opinion is to be found in the tradition of the Church. It is the inversion of the immemorial belief and practice of the Church. It will not be difficult to show, even in the narrow limits of a Pastoral, that the tradition of the Church is not to test the teaching of the Pontiffs by the assent of the Church, but to take the doctrine of the Pontiffs as the test of the doctrine of the Church. The Head spoke for the whole Body, and the utterances of the Head were the evidence of what the Body believed and taught. It can hardly be necessary to add that, in order to constitute an article of faith, two conditions are necessary, the one intrinsic, the other extrinsic: the former, that the doctrine to be defined be contained in the divine revelation; the latter, that it be proposed to us by the Church as revealed.
If there be anything for which the whole tradition of the Church bears witness, it is to the stability in faith of the See and of the Successor of Peter.
If there be anything not yet defined which is nevertheless proposed, as of divine certainty, by the constant tradition of the Church, both dispersed and congregated, it is that the Roman Church and Pontiff are by divine ordinance an infallible authority in interpreting the faith and expounding the law of God.
It is obviously impossible now to do more than trace the outline of the subject; but this I will endeavour to do, and to point out that this doctrine in question has already passed through the historical periods which mark its progress towards a final definition.
For example, let us first look at the history of the doctrine of the Immaculate Conception, This truth was fully but implicitly contained in the universal belief of the Church, both east and west, as to the absolute sinlessness and pre-eminent sanctification of the Mother of God. This constituted the first period of unanalysed belief. The doctrine was thus commemorated, year by year, in the Festival of the Ἁγιασμός, or the 'Sanctificatio' of the Blessed Virgin. The second period was one of analysis, forced upon the Church by the Pelagian heresy, and arising also from the legitimate and inevitable intellectual action of the faithful upon the matter of faith. The Festival of the Sanctification of the Blessed Virgin legitimately became the festival of the Immaculate Nativity. The third period was the period of definition, in which the two opinions of the Immaculate Nativity and the Immaculate Conception contended together, till the one was continually so weakened as to lose all probability, the other was so confirmed as to become certain. The Immaculate Conception was then, at last, defined and proposed as a doctrine of revelation and an article of faith.
The doctrine of the infallibility of the Church, though not as yet defined, is everywhere declared in the whole history of Christianity. It has likewise its distinct periods, steadily advancing to a definition. But it will be seen that the infallibility of the visible Head of the Church is intrinsically necessary to the infallibility of the Church. The same periods of simple belief, of analysis, and of definition may be traced. The first, in which the belief of the infallibility of the Church and of the Pontiff pervaded all the world, both east and west. This belief was not only professed but reduced to practice in the public action of the Church; and in every public and authoritative instance on record the infallibility of the Church is declared to rest upon the stability in faith of the Roman Church, or of the See of Peter, or of the Apostolic See, or of the Successor of the Apostle, or of the Voice of Peter, still teaching by his Successor in his See. The 'praxis' of the Church—that is, its immemorial, universal, and invariable procedure in the declaration of faith and the condemnation of error—implies and demands always as its motive the stability in faith of the Roman See, and in almost all cases explicitly declares it. This period extends from the beginning to the time immediately preceding the Council of Constance. The second period is, as before, one of contention and analysis, in which Occam, John of Paris, Marsilius of Padua, Nicholas de Clemangiis, Gerson, Peter d'Ailly, and others of less note, began to distinguish and to deny what had till then been always implicitly or explicitly believed. What they began in France was afterwards fostered by the jealousy of parliaments, jurists, and Jansenists. The declaration of 1682 is no more than a mere modern refinement of the same doctrine, rude and inchoate at first, afterwards reduced to system and expression. It is to be borne in mind that the Articles of 1682, if they deny the infallibility of the Pope, do not affirm the fallibility of the Roman Church and See. The distinction 'inter sedem, et in eâ sedentem,' is carefully guarded even by Gallicans. Instinct told them that to deny the infallibility of the Roman See was to deny the infallibility of the Church, and to depart from the whole praxis of the Church for the first sixteen centuries. The third period may be said to begin from 1682, in which the denial of the infallibility of the Roman Pontiff was first enunciated in a formula. It opened the period of definition. The contests between those who maintained the Immaculate Nativity and those who maintained the Immaculate Conception led to a closer and more scientific analysis, from which two things have resulted: first, the elimination of the doctrine of the Immaculate Nativity as inadequate and erroneous; and secondly, the definition of the Immaculate Conception. So, also, the contests between those who maintain the infallibility of the Church, but reject the infallibility of the Roman Pontiff, have already resulted in an analysis of the whole subject of the divine certainty of faith, and the divine order by which the faith is preserved and propounded in the world; and from this will likewise follow in due time—whether now or hereafter, it is not for us to say—two consequences: first, the elimination of the doctrine of 1682 as inadequate and erroneous; and secondly, a definition of the Infallibility of the Church, embodied in its immemorial and universal praxis, of which the stability of the faith of Peter, both in his See and in his Successor, is the primary and necessary condition. And as in the history of the Immaculate Conception a series of Pontifical prohibitions rendered less probable and less tenable the opposing doctrine, till the former prevailed and was solemnly defined, so with the infallibility of the Church and its Head.
First. In 1479 the proposition 'that the Church of the City of Rome may err,' was condemned in Peter de Osma by the Archbishop of Toledo as heretical; and this condemnation was confirmed in a bull by Sixtus IV.
Secondly. The Articles of 1682 have been censured by Innocent XI., Alexander VIII., Innocent XII., and Pius VI., in the condemnation of the Synod of Pistoia.
Lastly. The proposition 'that the authority of the Roman Pontiff over Œcumenical Councils, and of his infallibility in questions of faith, is futile, and has been often refuted,' was condemned in 1688 by Alexander VIII.
We will first take so much evidence as the narrow limits of this Letter will allow, of the statement that, from the beginning of Christianity down to the times immediately preceding the Council of Constance—that is, for fourteen hundred years—the doctrine of the stability of the faith of Peter in his See and in his Successor was in possession, by the immemorial and universal tradition of the Church. From this it follows that they who deny it are innovators; that they who affirm the infallibility of the Pontiff, speaking ex cathedrâ, to be a novelty recently introduced, are, in the form of their argument, fighting in rank with those who affirm the doctrine of Transubstantiation to be an innovation of the Council of Lateran, and the doctrine of the Holy Trinity an innovation of the Council of Nicæa.
I will, however, invert the usual order in which the evidence is adduced. We will begin, not with the early centuries, but with the later. Even our opponents tell us that Ultramontanism, since the Council of Constance, has possessed itself of Christendom. It is undeniable, then, that for the last four hundred years it has pervaded the theology and practice of the Church.
We will therefore trace up the stream towards the fountain. We shall be able thereby to see, before the Council of Constance, what doctrine was in possession; whether any change is afterwards traceable. We shall thereby be able to appreciate the claims of Gallicanism to antiquity, authority, and truth.
In order to put beyond question that, for the last four hundred and fifty years, the belief of the infallibility of the Roman See and Pontiff has been completely in the ascendent, it may be well to call to mind certain facts.
1. First, it is admitted that the doctrine of the infallibility of the Roman Pontiff has been taught by the Roman Pontiffs, the Roman theologians, the Theological Schools of all countries, excepting France, from the Council of Constance, in 1418, to this day: that is to say, for four centuries and a half it has been the doctrine of all the religious orders, and eminently of the Dominicans, the Franciscans, and of the Society of Jesus; of all Theological Schools, excepting the one before named; and even of almost all universities. Is it credible that all these representatives of the learning and science of the Church should have erred, and all erred alike, in elaborating a novelty unknown to the Church till then?
2. During these four centuries and a half three Œcumenical Councils, of Florence, Lateran, and Trent, have been held, and not so much as a whisper of doubt as to the infallibility of the Roman Pontiff was heard in them.
3. During these same centuries, three Œcumenical Councils have touched upon the authority of the Roman Pontiff, and they did so in these words. The Council of Florence in 1439 decreed:—'We define, that the Roman Pontiff is Successor of Blessed Peter, Prince of the Apostles, and true Vicar of Christ, and the Head of the whole Church, and the Father and Doctor of all Christians; and to him in Blessed Peter was delivered, by our Lord Jesus Christ, the plenary power of feeding, ruling, and governing the Universal Church.'
The Council of Lateran, in 1520, condemned as heretical the proposition ' the Roman Pontiff, the Successor of Peter, is not the Yicar of Christ constituted by Christ Himself in Blessed Peter over all the Churches of the whole world.'
The Council of Trent in four places describes the Roman Church as 'Ecclesiarum omnium Mater et Magistra.' But the word 'Magistra' signifies the authority of teacher and guide.
Lastly. The Council of Constance itself gives an evidence of the Pontifical authority of the most decisive kind, In the last session of the Council, the Poles, because the Pope would not condemn a certain book, appealed to a future General Council. Martin V., therefore, in a public Consistory on March 10, 1418, condemned all such appeals. Gerson wrote against this condemnation, which runs in these words: 'It is lawful to no one to appeal from the Supreme Judge, namely, the Apostolic See, or the Roman Pontiff, the Vicar of Jesus Christ on earth, or to reverse his judgment in causes of faith, which, as causæ majores, are to be referred to him and the Apostolic See.' It cannot be unlawful to appeal from a fallible to an infallible Judge. But a General Council is infallible. The Pope, therefore, is not fallible. This proves two things: the one, what was the claim of the Pontiff in the Council of Constance; the other, how little that Council was swayed by the errors of Gerson.
I. Tradition from the Council of Constance to the Council of Chalcedon.
But we are told that no one denies the rise of this opinion from the time of the Council of Constance. This, then, is one point of departure; and we will proceed to examine what was the faith of the Church before that date, ascending towards the source.
1. The first and least suspicious witness will be Gerson himself. He says, adulation 'concedes [to the Pope] that he is above law, and that it is no way possible that appeal be made from him, nor that he be called into judgment; nor that obedience be withdrawn from him, except in case of heresy. He alone can make articles of faith; he alone can deal with questions of faith, and the causæ majores; he alone, as has just been done, makes definitions, rules, laws, and canons; otherwise all that is defined, decreed, framed, or ordained by others is null and void. Nor can anything ordained by him be in any way whatsoever cancelled or annulled except by him alone; but he is bound by no constitution made by any whomsoever. If I am not deceived, before the celebration of the holy Council of Constance this tradition had so possessed the minds of many pedants rather than lettered men, that any one who should have dogmatically taught the opposite would have been noted and condemned for heretical pravity.' But how should this be if the communis sensus fidelium were not united against the dogmatiser? What bishop would have allowed or have passed such a sentence against him, unless the whole Episcopate had been united in the contrary principles and instincts? 'This tradition,' as Gerson calls it, could have had no authority, nor even existence as a tradition, if it had not been the immemorial and widespread belief of men. Adulation may make schools and cliques; it cannot make a tradition. The tradition was fatal to the novel opinions of Gerson and his master; and he solaced himself, like all innovators, in aspersing his brethren. Now, if any one can produce evidence to show that in this Gerson was wrong, and that evidence is to be found before his time of the denial of the infallibility of the See and Successor of Peter, let it be produced, and it will be fairly examined. The infallibility of the Vicar of Jesus Christ is in possession. It is for those who deny it to dislodge it if they can.
I will now take other evidence: and as far as possible from the public acts of Synods or of Episcopates. The few individual witnesses I shall quote will be those whose names have an exceptional weight.
2. When, in 1314, the King of France was endeavouring to compel Clement V. to declare his predecessor Boniface VIII. to be heretical, the French bishops, in an address to the Pope, speak thus: 'It is no question of the heresy of a Pope, as Pope, but as a private person. For as Pope he could not be heretical, but only as a private person: for never was any Pope a heretic as Pope.'
3. The University of Paris, in 1387, addressed Clement VII., whom they recognised as Pope at Avignon, and by the mouth of the same Peter d'Ailly who afterwards so strangely deviated from truth: 'We unanimously protest, that whatsoever hitherto has been done in this matter by them [the University], and whatsoever in the same, either now or at any other time, we may do or say in their behalf, we humbly submit altogether to the correction and judgment of the Apostolic See and of the Supreme Pontiff who sits in it, saying with blessed Jerome, "This is the Faith, most blessed Father, which we have learned in the Catholic Church; in which, if we have laid down anything less wisely or cautiously than we ought, we ask to be corrected by thee, who boldest the Faith and the See of Peter." For we are not ignorant, but most firmly hold and in no way doubt, that the Holy Apostolic See is that Chair of Peter upon which, as the same Jerome witnesses, the Church is founded. … Of which See, in the person of Peter the Apostle sitting in it, was said, "Peter, I have prayed for thee, that thy faith fail not." It is to this, then, that the determination of Faith, and the approbation of Catholic Truth, and the condemnation of heretical impiety, above all, belongs.'
4. The Bishop and Theologians of Paris had censured certain opinions of S. Thomas in 1277. When S. Thomas was canonised, in 1324, Stephen, Bishop of Paris, withdrew the censure, in union with the Dean and Chapter and sixty-three Masters and Bachelors in Theology: in so doing he calls 'the Holy Roman Church the Mother of all the faithful and Teacher of faith and truth, founded on the most firm confession of Peter, Yicar of Christ; to which, as to the universal Rule of Catholic Truth, belongs the approbation of doctrines, the solution of doubts, the determination of what is to be held, and the confutation of errors.'
In these two passages we have the testimony of the Bishop, Chapter, Theologians, and University of Paris in the century before the Council of Constance.
5. What was at that time taught in Paris was taught in England. Thomas Bradwardine, Archbishop of Canterbury, who died in 1349, in the preface to his book 'De Causa Dei,' says: 'I know what I will do; I will commit myself to that ship which can never perish, the ship of Peter. For in it our only Head and Master Christ in safety sat and taught: to teach us mystically that in the boat of Peter, the Church of Rome, the authority and teaching (magisterium) of all Christian doctrine should abide. To the judgment, therefore, of so authentic and so great a teacher I submit, and subject fully and altogether myself and my writings, now and hereafter.'
6. Clement VI., in 1351, writing to the Armenian Patriarch, says: 'If thou hast believed, and dost still believe, that the Roman Pontiff alone, when doubts arise concerning the Catholic Faith, can by an authentic determination, to which we must inviolably adhere, make an end of them; and that whatsoever he, by the authority of the Keys delivered to him by Christ, determines as true, is true and Catholic; and what he determines to be false and heretical is so to be regarded.' Clement here plainly requires the Armenians to believe the infallibility of the Roman Pontiff as a truth of revelation.
7. It would be endless to quote from S. Thomas, but these few words will suffice: 'Therefore the Lord said to Peter, whom He made Supreme Pontiff, "I have prayed for thee, Peter, that thy faith fail not, and thou, when thou art converted, confirm thy brethren." And of this the reason is, that the faith of the whole Church must be One … which cannot so be kept unless questions of faith be determined by him who presides over the whole Church; so that his sentence be held firmly by the whole Church.' And again: 'And while in other parts there is either no faith, or it is mingled with many errors, the Church of Peter both is fresh in faith and pure from error: and no wonder, because the Lord said, "I have prayed for thee, Peter, that thy faith fail not."' Now we may, without hesitation, take S. Thomas as the witness of what was taught both by the Dominican Order and by the schools of the Church in the century before the Council of Constance.
8. S. Bonaventure, in like manner, will represent the Franciscan Order: 'Peter, named from the Rock, was by the Lord placed as the foundation of the Church: "Thou art Peter, &c." Rabanus says that all the faithful throughout the world may understand that whosoever separate themselves in any way from the unity of his faith or of his communion can neither be absolved from the bonds of sin, nor can enter the gate of the kingdom of heaven. Therefore the Lord gave to Peter extraordinary powers over all the Apostles in the words, "And thou, when thou art converted, confirm thy brethren."' Again, he says: 'If, in the time of the figurative priest, it was sin to oppose the sentence of the Pontiff, much more in the time of the revealed truth and grace, when it is known that the plenitude of power is given to the Vicar of Christ, is it sin, no way to be tolerated in Faith or morals, to dogmatise contrary to his definition, by approving what he reproves, building up again what he destroys, and defending what he condemns.'
9. The Council of Lyons in 1274 drew up a form of profession to be made per modum juramenti by the Greeks in the following words: 'The Holy Roman Church has supreme and full primacy and principality over the Universal Church, which it truly and humbly acknowledges itself to have received from the Lord Himself in Blessed Peter, the Prince and Head of the Apostles, with plenitude of power. And as before all others it is bound to defend the truth, so also if any questions arise concerning the faith, they ought by its judgment to be defined. … And to the same all Churches are subject, and to it the prelates of the same render obedience and reverence. But to this [Church] the plenitude of power so belongs that it admits the other Churches to a participation of its care. … By mouth and heart we confess that which the Sacred and Holy Roman Church truly holds, and faithfully teaches and preaches.'
The formula, which is inscribed Sacramentum Græcorum, runs as follows:—
'I, N., recognise the unity of faith which I have subscribed … as the True, Holy, Catholic Faith; I accept it and confess it with heart and mouth; and I promise that I will inviolably preserve the same as the Holy Roman Church holds, faithfully teaches and preaches; and in the same I will always persevere; nor at any time will I depart from it, nor in any way deviate or differ from it.'
If any one, with these facts and testimonies before him, can continue to affirm, that the Articles of 1682 have any foundation in the two centuries before the Council of Constance, or that the doctrine now captiously and invidiously styled Ultramontane is a novelty, he is bound to bring, what as yet has not been offered, some evidence of his assertion.
10. For the twelfth century we have two witnesses, both Saints; one a confessor, the other a martyr, and both our own: S. Thomas of Canterbury, and S. Anselm.
S. Thomas writes to the Bishop of Hereford: 'The fountain of Paradise is one, but divided into many streams, that it may water the whole earth. Who doubts that the Church of Rome is the head of all the Churches, and the fountain of Catholic truth? Who is ignorant that the keys of the kingdom of heaven were entrusted to Peter? Does not the structure of the whole Church rise from the faith and doctrine of Peter? … Whosoever he be that waters or plants, God gives increase to none, save to him who has planted in the faith of Peter, and rests in his doctrine.' Again he says of the Apostolic See: ' From this none but infidels, or heretics, or schismatics withdrew their faith and obedience.'
11. S. Anselm, in dedicating his book on the Holy Trinity to the Pope, writes: 'Forasmuch as the providence of God has chosen your Holiness, to commit to your custody the life and faith of Christians, and the government of His Church, to no other can reference be more rightly made, if so be anything contrary to the Catholic faith arise in the Church, that it may be corrected by his authority; nor to any other can anything which may be written against such errors be more safely submitted, that by his prudence it may be examined.' Again: 'Let those who despise the Christian decrees of the Vicar of Peter, and in him the decrees of Peter and of Christ, seek for other gates of the kingdom of heaven; for certainly they shall not enter in by those, the keys of which the Apostle Peter bears.'
If Saints and Martyrs do not represent the mind of the Church, where shall we seek it?
12. S. Bernard writes to Pope Innocent: 'It is right to refer to your Apostleship whatsoever danger and scandal may arise in the kingdom of God; especially those which touch the faith. For I judge it to be fitting that the injuries of the faith should there be repaired, where the faith cannot fail. For this in truth is the prerogative of that See. For to what other was it ever said, "I have prayed for thee, Peter, that thy faith fail not?" Therefore, what follows is required of Peter's Successor; "and thou, when thou art converted, confirm thy brethren."'
13. In the same century, that is in the year 1149, Anselm, Bishop of Havelburgh, was sent by the Emperor Lothaire to Constantinople. He there held public disputations with Nechites, Archbishop of Nicomedia, on the errors of the Greeks. By the desire of Eugenius III., he afterwards put these disputations in writing. It will be borne in mind that Anselm was German by birth, and therefore a representative of a country remote from Roman influences. He was endeavouring also to win the Greeks from their errors, of which one was the denial of the prerogatives of the See of Peter, both in jurisdiction and in faith. Anselm had every inducement to reduce to the narrowest limit the doctrines necessary to reconciliation. As the representative of the Catholic Church, to the separated East he spoke as follows: 'The holy Roman Church, chosen before all others by the Lord, has been endowed and blessed by him with a special privilege; and by a certain prerogative stands pre-eminent, and by a divine right has an excellence before all Churches. For while other Churches at divers times have been possessed by various heretics, and have wavered in the Catholic faith, that [Church], founded and consolidated upon the Rock, has always remained unshaken, and never, by any false and sophistical arguments of heretics, has been drawn away from the simplicity of the faith held by Simon Barjona; because it has always been defended by the shield of divine wisdom, through the grace of the Lord, against deceitful controversies. For it has never been shaken by any terror of emperors, or mighty ones of this world, because by the strength of the Lord, and the shield of a strong patience, it has always been secure against all assaults. Wherefore the Lord, [knowing] that other Churches would be greatly harassed by the inroads of heresy, and that the Roman Church, which He had founded upon the Rock, would never be weakened in the faith, said to Peter, "I have prayed for thee, Peter, that thy faith fail not; and thou, when thou art converted, confirm thy brethren." As if He had openly said: "Thou who hast received this grace, that while those are shipwrecked in faith, thou abidest always in faith immovable and constant, confirm and correct those that waver; and as the provider, and doctor, and father, and master, have care and solicitude for all." He rightly, therefore, received the privilege of being set over all, who received from God the privilege, before all, of preserving the integrity of faith.' Again he said: 'Why do you not rather receive the statutes of the Holy Roman Church, which by God, and from God, and in the next place after God, has obtained the primacy of authority in the Universal Church, which is spread throughout the whole world? For so we read that it was declared concerning it in the first Council of Nicæa by three hundred and eighteen Fathers. For it must be known, and no Catholic can be ignorant of it, that the Holy Roman Church was preferred before others by no decrees of Synods, but that it obtained the primacy by the voice of our Lord and Saviour in the Gospel, where He said to Blessed Peter, a Thou art Peter, and upon this Rock,"' &c. Now this is language which, at the present day, would be called Ultramontane; but Anselm so addresses the Greeks in a perfect consciousness that he spoke the mind of the Catholic Church. And what he spoke, he wrote, as we have seen, by the command of Eugenius III. Not a trace is to be found that these words of Anselm were not a true expression of the immemorial and universal tradition of the Church in his day.
14. The Synod of Quedlinburgh, in Saxony, in 1085, condemned what was called the Henrician heresy: namely, that not only temporal but spiritual things are subject to emperors and kings. In the Acts of the Synod we read: 'When all were seated according to their order, the decrees of the Holy Fathers concerning the Primacy of the Apostolic See were produced: namely, that it is allowed to none to revise its judgment, and to sit in judgment upon what it has judged; which, by the public profession of the whole Synod, was approved and confirmed.'
15. In the ninth century, that is in 863, a Council in Rome decreed as follows: 'If anyone shall despise the dogmas, commandments, interdicts, sanctions or decrees, in respect to Catholic faith, ecclesiastical discipline, correction of the faithful, the amendment of sinners, or the prevention of impending or future evils, wholesomely promulgated by him who presides in the Apostolic See, let him be anathema.'
16. This canon was recognised in the eighth General Council, held at Constantinople in 869; so that the final and irreformable authority of the Roman Pontiff was recognised and declared under pain of deposition for clergy, and of excommunication for the laity until penitent.
17. In the eighth century Alcuin writes to the faithful in Lyons: 'Let no Catholic dare to contend against the authority of the Church. And lest he be found to be a schismatic and not a Catholic, let him follow the approved authority of the Holy Roman Church.' In the Caroline books whether they be by Charlemagne or Alcuin we read of the Roman Church that, as Peter was set over all the Apostles, so Rome is set over all the Churches. 'For this Church is set over all the rest by no decrees of Synods, but holds its primacy by the authority of the Lord Himself, who said, "Thou art Peter," &c. … Whence it is to be understood that holy and learned men in all parts of the world, shining with the light of teaching and science, not only have not departed from the Holy Roman Church, but also, in time of need, have implored help from it, for the corroboration of the faith; which, as we have already said and proved by examples, all members of the Catholic Church ought, as a rule, to do; so as to seek from it [the Roman Church], next after Christ, help to defend the faith: which [Church], not having spot or wrinkle, both sets its foot upon the monstrous heads of heresy, and confirms the minds of the faithful in the faith.'
This testimony, by the way, is important for those who believe that Charlemagne imposed on the Roman Pontiff the insertion of the 'Filioque' in the Creed.
We have now reached the eighth century of the Church, before the separation of the Greeks, and while as yet they acknowledged the supreme authority, both in jurisdiction and of faith, of the See of Peter. The Greeks acknowledge the second Council of Nicæa as infallible, and in that Synod the letters of Hadrian to Tarasius, Bishop of Constantinople, were read and approved. In those letters Hadrian says, 'Whose (Peter's) See shines forth in primacy over the whole Church, and is Head of all the Churches of God. Wherefore the same Blessed Peter the Apostle, governing the Church by the command of the Lord, left nothing uncared for, but held everywhere, and holds, supreme authority (ἐκράτησε πάντοτε καὶ κρατεῖ τὴν ἀρχήν).' Hadrian then requires Tarasius to adhere to our 'Apostolic See, which is the Head of all Churches of God, and in profound sincerity of mind and heart to guard the sacred and orthodox form' [of faith]. The whole Synod cried out in acclamation, 'The Holy Synod so believes, so is convinced, so defines.'
18. The African Bishops, in 646, addressed a Synodical letter to Pope Theodore, which letter was read and approved in the Lateran Council of 649, under Martin I. 'No one can doubt,' they say, 'that there is in the Apostolic See for all Christians a fountain, great and unfailing, abundant in its waters, from which the streams go forth copiously to irrigate the whole Christian world; to which [See], also in honour of Blessed Peter, the decrees of the Fathers gave special veneration in searching out the things of God, which ought by all means to be carefully examined; and, above all, and justly by the Apostolic Head of Bishops, whose care from of old it is, as well to condemn evils as to commend the things which are to be praised. For by the ancient discipline it is ordained that whatsoever be done, even in provinces remote and afar off, shall neither be treated of nor accepted, unless it be first brought to the knowledge of your august See, so that a just sentence may be confirmed by its authority, and that the other Churches may thence receive the original preaching as from its native source, and that the mysteries of saving faith may remain in uncorrupt purity throughout the various regions of the world.'
This declaration of the African Synod, being read and approved in the first Council of Lateran, is therefore confirmed by its authority.
19. In the Pastoral of two years ago, I gave the evidence of the Sixth General Council, held at Constantinople in 680, in which the letter of Agatho was received as the voice of Peter. In this letter, addressed to the Emperor, after reciting the dogma of faith, Agatho thus speaks of the Roman See: 'Relying upon the protection [of Peter], this, his Apostolic Church, has never deviated from the way of truth in any way of error whatsoever; and his [Peter's] authority, as that of the Prince of all the Apostles, the whole Catholic Church of Christ and all the universal Synods always and faithfully have in all things embraced and followed. … For this is the rule of the True Faith, which, both in prosperity and adversity, this Apostolic Church of Christ, the Spiritual Mother of your peaceful empire, holds and defends as vital: which Church, by the grace of Almighty God, will never be convicted of erring from the path of apostolic tradition, nor has it ever yielded or been depraved by heretical novelties; but as it received in the beginning of the Faith' from its Founders, the chief of the Apostles of Christ, it abides untainted to the end, according to the divine promise of our Lord and Saviour Himself, which in the Holy Gospels He uttered to the Prince of His disciples: Peter, Peter, behold, Satan hath desired to sift you as wheat: but I have prayed for thee, that thy faith fail not. And thou, when thou art converted, confirm thy brethren.'
It was to this that the Fathers answered in acclamation: 'Peter hath spoken.'
On this evidence two things are to be observed: First, that Agatho's declaration of the untainted orthodoxy of the Apostolic See until his day refutes the attempt of those who would fasten heresy on Pope Honorius, his predecessor.
Next, that the Fathers so little distinguished 'inter sedem et in eâ sedentem,' that they identify Agatho and the See as one and the same. They address him αἱς πρωτοθρόνῳ σοι τῆς οἰκουμενῆς ἐκκλησίας, ἐπὶ τὴν στερεὰν πέτραν ἑστῶτι. 'To thee, therefore, as the first See of the Universal Church, we leave what is to be done,' &c.
20. It may perhaps be said that the language of Anselm of Havelburgh, quoted above, gives no proof of the mind of the Eastern Church. I will therefore add one more testimony, at a period when as yet the Greeks had not accomplished the schism which endures to this day. This last evidence is contained in the Profession of Faith which Pope Hormisdas, in the year 517, required the Oriental Bishops to sign; and they did sign it. We have, therefore, in an authentic and public act, the response and acceptance, of the East, of the doctrinal authority of the Apostolic See. It runs as follows: 'The Rule of Faith. The first act of salvation is to keep rightly the rule of faith, and in no way to deviate from the decrees of the Fathers. And inasmuch as the words of our Lord Jesus Christ cannot be passed over, who said, "Thou art Peter, and upon this rock I will build my Church," &c. … These words are confirmed by their effects, for in the Apostolic See religion has been always preserved without spot.' Then follows a condemnation of heretics and of all in communion with them. 'Wherefore we receive and approve all the letters of Pope Leo, and all that he wrote concerning the Christian religion. Therefore, as we have said, following in all things the Apostolic See, and professing all its decrees, I hope to be worthy to be in that one communion with you which the Apostolic See enjoins, in which is the perfect and true solidity of Christian religion: promising also that the names of those who are separated from the communion of the Catholic Church, that is, those who are not united in mind to the Apostolic See, shall not be recited in the Holy Mysteries. This, my profession, I have subscribed with my own hand, and presented to thee, Hormisdas, Holy and Venerable Pope of the City of Rome.—XV. Kal. April. Agapito viro clarissimo Consule.' This Profession of Faith was signed, it is said, by 2,500 bishops.
Another version of this formula is given by John, Bishop of Constantinople, in a letter to Pope Hormisdas. It runs almost in the same terms, but in two passages it is even more explicit. After the words of our Lord to Peter, it continues: 'These sayings are confirmed by the effects, because in the Apostolic See religion is always kept inviolate;' and afterwards it concludes: 'But if in anything I should be tempted to doubt in my profession, I declare, by my own condemnation, that I myself should be partaker with those whom I have condemned.'
21. From the third Council of Constantinople in the seventh century, which is received by the Greek Church, we will pass to the Council of Chalcedon, one of the four first General Councils received, at least in profession, by Anglicans, in the fifth. This brings us to the period of undivided unity, and therefore, as they admit, of infallibility. Now it is certain that S. Leo, in the most explicit language, claimed for the See and for the Successor of Peter an indefectible stability in faith. Two years ago I quoted his testimony, which is abundantly sufficient to prove this assertion. I will now add only two short passages. Preaching on the anniversary of his election to the Pontificate, he says: 'Not only the Apostolic, but also the Episcopal dignity of Blessed Peter enters into our solemnity, and he never ceases to preside over his See, and he has always an unfailing fellowship with the Eternal Priest. For that solidity which, when he was made the Rock, he received from Christ the Rock, transmits itself to his heirs.' Again: 'The solidity of that faith, which is commended in the Prince of the Apostles, is perpetual.' 'If anything, therefore, is rightly done, or rightly decided by us … it is by the work and merits of him whose power lives and whose authority is supreme in his See. … For [the faith of Peter] is divinely guarded by such a solidity that neither has heretical pravity ever been able to violate, nor heathen perfidy to overcome it.'
It was with this consciousness of his commission and prerogatives that S. Leo sent his Dogmatic Letter to the Council of Chalcedon. He peremptorily forbad, in his letter to the Emperor, that the doctrine of faith should be discussed as if it were doubtful. To the Fathers of the Council he wrote: 'Now I am present by my vicars, and in the declaration of the Catholic Faith I am not absent: so that you cannot be ignorant what we believe by the ancient tradition, you cannot doubt what is our desire; wherefore, most dear brethren, let the audacity of disputing against the divinely inspired Faith be altogether rejected, let the vain unbelief of those that err be silenced. Let it not be allowed to any to defend that which it is not allowed to believe. By the letters which we addressed to Bishop Flavian, of blessed memory, it has been most fully and clearly declared what is the pious and sincere confession concerning the mystery of the Incarnation of our Lord Jesus Christ.'
After the Dogmatic Letter of Leo to Flavian had been read, the bishops exclaimed, 'This is the Faith of the Fathers, this is the Faith of the Apostles. So we all believe; the orthodox so believe. Anathema to those who do not so believe: Peter has spoken by Leo.'
In their letter to S. Leo the Fathers of the Council declare that he has preserved for them the Faith, being set as the interpreter of the voice of Blessed Peter (πᾶσι τῆς τοῦ μακαρίου Πέτρου φωνῆς ἑρμηνεὺς καθιστάμενος); 'whence we also, using you as our leader in what is good and profitable, have manifested to the children of the Church the inheritance of truth.' … Of themselves they say that he presided over them as 'the head over the members' (ὡς κεφαλὴ μελῶν). Finally, they pray him to honour by his sentence their judgment (τίμησον καὶ ταῖς σαῖς ψήφοις τὴν κρίσιν). But this judgment, which related to the precedence of Constantinople next after Rome, S. Leo cancelled and annulled. The Legates protested. S. Leo writes to the Empress Pulcheria: 'The agreement of the bishops, contrary to the rules of the Holy Canons made at Nicasa, the piety of your faith uniting with us, we declare void, and, by the authority of Blessed Peter the Apostle, by a general decree we altogether cancel.' S. Peter Chrysologus writes to Eutyches, who had asked his judgment on his doctrine: 'In all things I exhort you, honourable brother, that you obediently attend to the things which have been written by the blessed Pope of the City of Rome, because Blessed Peter, who in his own See lives and presides, offers the truth to those that seek it. We therefore, for the love of peace and of faith, cannot hear causes of faith without the consent of the Bishop of the City of Rome.'
And here we may stay our course. We have reached the period of undivided unity, when all the world looked to the See of Peter as the source of supreme authority in jurisdiction and in faith. The two keys of jurisdiction and of knowledge, intrinsically inseparable, are here visible in the hands of Leo. The two great prerogatives of Peter, 'Feed my sheep,' and 'I have prayed for thee that thy faith fail not,' are as explicitly recognised in the Council of Chalcedon as by us at this day. I forbear to quote the testimony of individual Fathers. S. Augustine and S. Optatus would give it in abundance. But I have endeavoured to exhibit the tradition of the Church in its public and authoritative practice. I think it undeniable that throughout all the ages we have been reviewing there was a constant, universal, and unvarying tradition of the stability of the faith in the See and the Successor of Peter; and this world-wide fact will give us the true interpretation and value of the words of S. Irenæus, 'Ad hanc enim Ecclesiam, propter potiorem principalitatem, necesse est omnem convenire ecclesiam; in qua semper ab his qui sunt undique, conservata est ab Apostolis traditio.'
If any one shall answer that these evidences do not prove the infallibility of the Pope, speaking ex cathedrâ, they will lose their labour.
I adduce them to prove the immemorial and universal practice of the Church in having recourse to the Apostolic See as the last and certain witness and judge of the divine tradition of faith. That they prove this no one will, I think, deny. Even those who imagine that Honorius was a heretic have never ventured to incur the condemnation of Peter de Osma, who affirmed that 'the Church of the City of Rome may err.' Even the Gallicans of 1682 professed to believe the See to be infallible, while they affirmed that he who sat in it was fallible. Thus far, then, we have the line of testimonies running up from the Council of Constance to the fifth century; that is, to the period of the four first General Councils, when as yet the East and West were united to the See and to the Successor of Peter. The thought that either the See or the Successor of Peter could fail in faith is not to be found in those thousand years. With all the events of Honorius fresh before them, the Fathers of the third Council of Constantinople responded to Agatho's declaration of the inviolate orthodoxy of the See and the Successor of Peter. The East and the West alike united in this. In the Formula of Hormisdas we have even more than this. The Roman Pontiff imposed subscription on the Oriental bishops of a profession of which the inviolate orthodoxy of the See and of the Successor of Peter is the explicit basis; and the Oriental bishops obeyed and subscribed. It will be observed, too, that they did this in faith of the promise made to Peter. Through those thousand years two texts are perpetually present: 'On this rock I will build my Church;' for the stability of the See. 'I have prayed for thee, that thy faith fail not;' for the stability of the Successor of Peter. It is to be observed, also, that the evidences adduced are not, with a few exceptions, the words of individual bishops or doctors, however illustrious. They are the decrees or declarations of Synods, of whole Episcopates in Rome, Africa, France, Saxony. They are the acts of General Councils, and, therefore, public documents of the Universal Church. On this evidence it may be affirmed, without hesitation, that for the first fourteen hundred years—that is, till the preludes of the great Western schism, and of the Council of Constance—the praxis Ecclesiæ is definite and undeniable, and that Gerson was right in saying that any one who had ventured to deny the infallibility of the See and of the Successor of Peter would have been condemned for heresy.
But if for heresy, in what light did the consent of the faithful, and the tradition of the Church, regard the truth denied? The correlative of heresy is faith.
This, then, is what may be regarded as the first period of simple, traditional faith, immemorial and universal, in the stability of the faith of Peter in his See and in his Successor; which, when analysed, is the infallibility of the Vicar of Jesus Christ.
II. Tradition from the Council of Constance to 1682.
We must here close the first period of this subject, which ends with the Council of Constance, and enter upon the second, which reaches from that Council to the Assembly of 1682. In this period, of about two hundred and forty years, the authority of the Roman Pontiff was far more explicitly manifested, by reason of the efforts made to diminish its amplitude. The Councils of Constance and Bâle may be said to have demanded the decree of the Council of Florence. This explicit declaration precludes the distinction between the 'See and him that sits in it.' The Council affirms that the plenitude of all power was given by our Lord not only to Peter, but, ipsi in Beato Petro, to his Successor in Peter. This decree is a summing up and declaration of the divine tradition we have hitherto been tracing upwards, century by century, towards its source. The second period may be called the period of contention, in which the authority of the Roman Pontiff has been subjected to a controversial analysis. Many things rendered this inevitable. The revival of the Roman jurisprudence filled the princes and civil powers of Europe with the principles and maxims of ancient Cæsarism. They aimed at supreme and absolute power over all persons and causes, ecclesiastical and civil. In the Pontiffs they met their only obstacle; the only antagonist they could not break or bend. The pride of nationality is easily roused, and they roused it as an ally against the power of faith and the authority of Rome.
A still more dangerous auxiliary soon ranged itself on the same side.
The rise and rivalry of nationalities within the unity of the Catholic Church, which first generated controversies as to the supreme and final authority of the Roman Pontiff, soon led to divisions in the Conclave, and to doubtful elections. At the time of the Council of Constance the Church was distracted by three Obediences and three doubtful Popes.
The Council, from its opening to its fourteenth session, contained only one of the three Obediences. The second Obedience then came in. It was not until the thirty-fifth session that the three Obediences united, and a Pontiff of certain and canonical election presided over it, as S. Leo over the Council of Chalcedon, or S. Agatho over the third Council of Constantinople.
But it was in the fourth and fifth sessions, while as yet only one Obedience was present, that the decrees which represent the novelties of Gerson were proclaimed. They were null from the beginning, from the nullity of the assembly, the irregularity of the voting, as well as the heterodoxy of the matter. They were protested against as soon as read, and let to pass, not only because opposition was vain, but because their passing was, ipso facto, void of effect, But into this it is needless to enter. So long as a Gallican remains, the Gallican version of the Council of Constance will be reiterated. It will be remembered how Gerson complained of the condemnation, by Martin V., of those who appealed from the Pope to a General Council. This one Pontifical Act, published in the Council itself, ruined the fourth and fifth sessions from their base.
In order to appreciate correctly the real nature of those sessions, we may recall to mind what were the theological opinions taught at that time by Gerson, in Paris. We shall readily see, first, of how little weight is the authority of his name; and next, how analogous was the course of erroneous opinions in France with that of the opinions which issued in Anglicanism in this country.
The following propositions are a sample of much to be found in his writings:—
'The decision of the Pope alone, in matters which are of faith, does not as such bind (any one) to believe.'
'The decision of the Pope binds the faithful not to dogmatise to the contrary, unless they see that manifest error against faith, and great scandal to the faith, would arise from their silence if they should not oppose themselves. … If persecution of their opinions, and punishment should ensue against them, let them know that they are blessed who suffer persecution for justice sake.'
'A simple person, without authority, might be so excellently learned in Holy Scripture that more confidence is to be had in his assertion, in a doctrinal case, than in the declaration of the Pope; for the Gospel is to be trusted rather than the Pope.'
Bishops 'in the primitive Church were of the same power as the Pope.'
'It is ridiculous to say that a mortal man may claim to have power of binding and loosing sin, in heaven and on earth, while he is a son of perdition,' &c.
'The Roman Church, the head of which is believed to be the Pope may err, and deceive and be deceived, and be in schism and heresy, and fail to exist.'
'It appears that if the Pope … be wicked and incorrigible, the King or Emperor of the Romans … has to apply the remedy by convoking a Council.'
'Bishops (oppressed by Popes) may reasonably carry their complaints, not only to the Pope and a General Council, which is the most fitting tribunal, but to orthodox Princes.'
'Here is a foundation for the possible case of subtraction or suspension of obedience to any Pope rightly elected.'
These are the first principles of the Anglican schism, which has always justified itself by such writers as Gerson, Peter d'Ailly, Nicholas de Clemangiis, and by their later followers, Dupin, Van Espen, and Febronius.
In quoting the opinions of Gerson, which every Catholic must lament and reject, it would be unjust not to bear in mind the circumstances of the times, which forced upon him and others questions altogether new. Confidence in the supreme office of the See and Successor of Peter, in matter of faith, had been rudely shaken by the disputed election of two and of three claimants to that supreme power. Though it was not logical, it was only too natural that the doubts should spread from the election to the office, and that the contending Obediences should endeavour not only to prevail over their opponents, but to protect, as they thought, the authority of the Church and the integrity of the Faith from dangers inseparable from the co-existence of two and three claimants to the supreme office of Judge in doctrinal causes. A good and a prudent motive can be supposed for this error. In denying the infallibility of the Pontiff, and in affirming the infallibility of Councils, Gerson no doubt thought to provide a broader and surer basis for the faith of Christendom. So much it is but justice to suppose. Nevertheless, his opinions are erroneous, even to the verge of heresy, and have scattered the seeds of a wide growth of heretical errors from that day to this. It is no wonder that Protestants have claimed Gerson as a forerunner and an authority. Villiers, a Protestant writer, in his book called 'Influence of the Reformation of Luther,' says that Gerson and Richer were the leaders of the religious revolution in France.
In the last analysis, the great Western schism is no more than the rivalry and contention of Nationalities. What individuals have never been able to effect against the unity and authority of the Church, nations have endeavoured to do. And no more luminous evidence can be found of the divine stability of the Church, both in its unity and its authority, than that it should have been able not only to heal the great Western schism, but for four hundred years to preserve both unity and authority as it is at this day, and that, too, in the period of the most vigorous and vehement development of modern nationalities.
But to return to the thread of our subject. It is certain that the opinions of Gerson soon lost their hold, even in the Sorbonne. The Council of Florence eighteen years afterwards, that is in 1439, effaced the traces of the fourth and fifth sessions of the Council of Constance by its well-known decree, which, if it does not explicitly affirm the infallibility of the See and of the Successor of Peter, implicitly and logically contains it. That well-known decree is no more than the final expression of the immemorial and universal practice and faith of the Church by the infallible authority of a General Council.
Forty years later, that is in 1479, the condemnation of Peter de Osma by Sixtus IV. affirms the contrary of his error to be of faith, namely, 'that the Church of the City of Rome cannot err.'
In 1544 the Faculty of Louvain published two-and-thirty Articles against the errors of Luther. The twenty-first runs thus:—
'It is to be held by firm faith that there is one true and Catholic Church on earth, and that visible, which was founded by the Apostles and endures to our time, retaining and holding whatsoever the Chair of Peter hath delivered, does deliver, or shall hereafter deliver, in faith and religion; upon which [Chair, the Church] is so built by Christ the Bridegroom, that in those things which are of faith it cannot err.'
The 25th Article runs:—
'Those things are to be held by a firm faith which are declared not only by express Scripture, but also which we have received to be believed by the tradition of the Catholic Church, and which have been defined in matters of faith and morals by the Chair of Peter, and by General Councils legitimately congregated.'
The great Western schism, and the erroneous opinions in the Council of Constance, had their legitimate development in the Protestant Reformation: and this, by separating part of Germany and England from the Church, cleansed its unity of an infection which threatened not unity alone, but the foundations of faith. We are often told, with much pretension of wise and benevolent counsel, not to draw too tight the conditions of communion, or to define too precisely the doctrines of faith. No doubt this advice was given at Constance, Florence, and Trent. But the Catholic Church knows no policy but truth; and its unity is extended, not by comprehension of error, but by the expulsion of all that is at variance with the health and life of faith. We shall see hereafter how this plea was put forward in 1682, as it is at this moment, on the eve of the first Council of the Vatican.
In 1579 the clergy of France, assembled at Melun, decreed as follows:—
Bishops and their vicars, to whom this charge is committed, shall take care that in all synods, diocesan and provincial, all and every one, both clerics and laymen, shall embrace, and with open profession pronounce that faith which the Holy Roman Church, the teacher, pillar, and ground of the truth, professes and cherishes. For with this Church, by reason of its [principality] primacy, it is necessary that all Churches agree.'
In 1625 a document was drawn up by the Assembly under the title of 'Address of the Assembly-General of the Clergy of France to the Archbishops and Bishops of the Kingdom.' It was never published, for some reason not clearly known. It is given in the 'Procès-Verbaux,' printed by order of the Assembly in 1762–5. In the 157th article it runs as follows:—'The bishops are exhorted to honour the Holy Apostolic See, and the Church of Rome, the Mother of the Churches, founded in the infallible promise of God, in the blood of the Apostles and Martyrs. … They will respect also our Holy Father the Pope, visible Head of the Church universal, Vicar of God on earth, Bishop of Bishops and Patriarch of Patriarchs, in a word, the Successor of S. Peter; with whom the Apostolate and the Episcopate have had their beginning, and on whom Jesus Christ has founded the Church, in entrusting to him the keys of heaven, together with infallibility of the faith, which we have seen endure miraculously immovable in his successors unto this day.'
We now come to a period in which the Church in France, with the Court and Government, gave its testimony to the infallibility of the Roman Pontiff, by a series of public acts which admit of no reply. From the year 1651 to 1681 the Jansenistic controversy was at its height.
In 1651, eighty-five bishops of France wrote to Innocent X., praying that the five propositions of Jansenius might be judged by the Apostolic See. They say: 'It is the solemn custom of the Church to refer the greater causes to the Holy See, which custom the never-failing faith of Peter demands in his right that we should perpetually observe. In obedience, therefore, to this most just law, we have determined to write to your Holiness on a subject of the greatest gravity in matter of religion.' At the end of the letter they add: 'Your Holiness has lately known how much the authority of the Apostolic See avails in the condemnation of the error in respect to the double head of the Church; "straightway the tempest was calmed, and at the voice and command of Christ the winds and the sea obeyed."'
After the condemnation of Jansenius by Innocent X. on June 9, 1653, the bishops of France again wrote, on July 15: 'In which affair,' they said, 'this is worthy of observation, that as, on the relation of the bishops of Africa, Innocent the First condemned of old the Pelagian heresy, so, on the consultation of the bishops of France, Innocent the Tenth proscribed by his authority a heresy directly opposite to the Pelagian. For the Catholic Church of that ancient time, sustained only by the communion and authority of the See of Peter, which shines forth in the decretal letter of Innocent to the Africans, followed by another letter from Zosimus to the bishops of all the world, subscribed without delay the condemnation of the Pelagian heresy. For it clearly saw, not only from the promise of Christ our Lord made to Peter, but also from the acts of the earlier Pontiffs, and from the anathemas launched just before by Damasus against Apollinaris and Macedonius, while as yet they were not condemned by any synod, that judgments for the confirmation of the rule of faith made by the Pontiffs, when consulted by bishops, rest upon a divine and supreme authority throughout the world; to which all Christians are in duty bound to render the obedience of the mind.'
It is here to be observed that the condemnation of Pelagianism by Innocent I. without any General Council has always been received as infallible; and next, that the French bishops here declare the 'obedience of the mind,' that is, interior assent, and not only obsequious silence, to be required of all Christians.
On September 2, 1656, the bishops wrote to Alexander VII. almost in the same words. They call the letter of Zosimus 'a peremptory decree,' and quote S. Augustine's well-known words: Finita est causa rescriptis Apostolicis,' &c.
In the year 1660 the bishops wrote again, if possible, in stronger language. They declare: 'In thee, as in the Successor of Peter, is firmly seated the strength of us all.'
Lastly, in the encyclical letter of the assembly of the clergy, on October 2, 1665, they declare: 'The circular letter which the General Assembly of the clergy of France wrote to all the bishops of the kingdom on the 15th of July 1653 shows that the submission which we have been used to render to the Holy Father is an inheritance of the bishops of France, who, in a synod held under Charlemagne and Pepin, made a solemn declaration of their will to preserve their unity with the Roman Church, and to be subject to S. Peter and his Successors to the end of their life.' They add, that all the Churches of France were in a perfect will to follow all that the Pontiff should order in matter of faith;' and add: 'This is the solid point of our glory, which renders our faith invincible, and our authority infallible, so long as we hold the one and the other inseparably united to the centre of religion, by binding ourselves to the See of S. Peter,' &c.
We have here six solemn acts of the French bishops and assemblies, recognising in the most explicit terms the stability of the faith of the See and of the Successor of Peter. It may be said with truth, that the memory of Gerson and of the old Sorbonne was by this time simply effaced from the Church of France. The condemnation of Jansenius rested, and rests to this day, upon the peremptory and irreformable decree of Innocent X. The bishops of France, on March 28, 1654, wrote to the Pontiff on the subject of the Jansenist evasion as to the question of fact respecting the propositions. They declared that the Jansenists were endeavouring 'to take away a part of the ancient deposit of faith, the custody of which was entrusted to the See of Peter by Christ, by dishonestly drawing aside the majesty of the Apostolic Decree, to the determination of fictitious controversies.' It is clear that the bishops here recognised the supreme and plenary authority of the Pontiff in all its amplitude of faith, morals, and dogmatic facts.
This was at that time the doctrine of France. In a meeting of the leading Jansenists, held in the Faubourg St. Jacques, on the publication of the Bull of Innocent X., Pascal suggested that he had heard it said that the Pope is not infallible. Arnauld immediately answered, that if they should pursue that line of defence 'they would give good reason to their opponents to treat them as heretics.'
This part of the subject, then, may be summed up in a quotation from Peter de Marca. The Jesuits, in their College in Paris, had maintained in 1661 a thesis affirming the infallibility of the Pope in faith, morals, and dogmatic facts. The Jansenists endeavoured to stir up the government to censure it. Peter de Marca, just then translated from the Archbishopric of Toulouse to Paris, declared that the opinion which affirms the infallibility of the Roman Pontiff, speaking ex cathedrâ, is 'the general and received opinion, approved by the Church of Rome and by the schools of Christendom.' He adds: 'This opinion is the only one which is taught and embraced in Italy, Spain, and the other provinces of Christendom.' and that 'the opinion which is called the opinion of the Doctors of Paris is placed in the rank of those which are only tolerated.' This was before 1682 and the Pontifical condemnation of the Four Articles. Again, he says: 'Finally, it would be to open the door to a great schism to endeavour to overturn these theses, so long as they are understood in accordance with the common opinion; because not only such an opposition tends to ruin openly the constitutions published against Jansenius, but even to dispute publicly and with authority against the power of the Popes as infallible Judges, when speaking ex cathedrâ, in matter of faith, which is conceded to them by the consent of all the Universities, except the ancient Sorbonne.' In the same document he goes on to use the words quoted in the Pastoral of 1867: 'The great majority of the doctors [in France], not only in theology, but also in law, follow the common opinion, which has foundations very hard to destroy, as has been already said, and they laugh at the opinion of the Old Sorbonne.'
I hope that I have sufficiently justified the statement made in 1867, that the Gallican opinions have no warrant in the ancient traditions of the illustrious Church of France.
III. First formal Enunciation of Gallicanism.
We must now enter upon a less pleasing part of our subject, the revival of the opinions of the 'Old Sorbonne,' and their fabrication into the Articles of 1682.
It would be out of place to recite the details of the contest which arose from the thesis in the College of the Jesuits. The Jansenists attacked the infallibility of the Pope, because they were condemned by two Pontifical constitutions. They had influence enough with the Government to persuade the ministers of Louis XIV. that the doctrine of the infallibility of the Pope was dangerous to the Regale, and even to the Crown of France. The Government and the Parliament prohibited the theses. The Sorbonne resisted the dictation of Government in theology. The Parliament insisted on its obedience, and commanded the Faculty to register its decrees respecting the infallibility of the Pope. Out of this arose a conflict which required seventeen decrees of Parliament to reduce the Sorbonne to obedience. Finally, the expedient of the Assembly of 1682 was decided on as a means of giving a doctrinal and authoritative character to the theology of the Court and Parliament. The history of this policy of Colbert and his colleagues shall be given from the work of M. Gérin, Judge of the Civil Tribunal of the Seine, who has in this year published a number of documents hitherto unknown, and conclusive in proof, in behalf of the Sorbonne and against the Government.
The French writer already named has publicly censured me for saying, in the Pastoral addressed to you two years ago, that the Four Articles of 1682 are a 'Royal Theology;' and that in the assembly by which they were passed, the Archbishop of Cambrai opposed them. I think it due to you, reverend brethren, as well as to myself, both to repeat these statements and to prove them.
This writer, signing himself the Abbé St. Pol, thought to overturn my statement by quoting a passage from the Arrêt du Parlement, in which it is said that the Articles were passed unanimously (unanimement). Who ever doubted that the Parliament would say so, and did say so? But with what truth it was said, we shall now see. The Abbé St. Pol admits that the Archbishop of Cambrai resisted until convinced. The Archbishop resisted until he obtained an assurance that the Articles should not be imposed by authority on the Theological Schools of France; which assurance was, nevertheless, immediately violated by an order of the King.
We have it, also, upon the evidence of the Procureur-Général De Harlay, one of the chief managers of this whole transaction, that 'the majority' of that Assembly 'would with all their heart have changed their mind the day after if they had been allowed to do so.' This evidence is beyond all refutation and all suspicion. It occurs in a private letter to Colbert, hitherto unpublished, and henceforward never to be forgotten. But I shall have occasion to return upon this document later.
In M. Gérin's volume incontestable proofs of that date are to be found in the letters, memorials, and private documents of Colbert, the Archbishop De Harlay, and the Procureur-Général, to establish beyond all controversy (1) that the Assembly of 1682 was neither Synod nor Council of the Church of France, nor even a representative assembly of the French clergy; but an assembly of Archbishops, Bishops, and others nominated by the King, or elected under every kind of pressure and influence of the Court, in the midst of strong and public protests by such men as the Cardinal Archbishop of Aix and the Vicar-General of Toulouse. As a sample out of many, the following will suffice. Colbert wrote to the Bishop of Avranches: 'Sir, the King has judged that you will be able to serve him more usefully than any other. … in the assembly formed of the clergy. His Majesty commands me to write to you, to say that he has made choice of you,' &c. Bossuet writes to De Rancé: 'The assembly is going to be held. It is willed that I should be of it.' Fleury writes: 'The King willed that the Bishop of Meaux should be of it.' In the same terms Colbert wrote to the Archbishop of Rouen. In the same way the elections were forced at Toulouse, Narbonne, and Aix, indeed in every place; so that Daniel de Cosnac says: 'Cette manière de députation ne me paraissait pas trop glorieuse.' To give any idea of the complete nullity of these pretended elections, it would be necessary to transcribe the third chapter of M. Gérin's work.
But (2) another fact of much greater importance both to the unity of theological truth, and of the illustrious Church in France, is this that the Faculty of Theology at the Sorbonne, together with the other Theological Faculties in Paris, not only steadfastly and courageously resisted the Four Articles, but it may be truly said that they never received them. The shadow of acceptance which was wrung from a certain number by acts of intimidation and violence on the part of the King, the Court, and the Parliament, is abundant proof that the Four Articles were never accepted by the Theological Faculty of the Sorbonne. The importance of this is great and manifold. It completes the rejection of the Four Articles by every great Theological School. It clears the great name of the Sorbonne of a shadow which I had hitherto feared must rest upon it; and lastly, it clears the Church in France from participation in an event which must always grieve those who revere and love its noble Catholic traditions.
I will endeavour, as briefly as I can, to give the substance of M. Gérin's evidence.
The Edict of March 20th ordered that the Four Articles should be registered in all the Universities and Faculties of Theology, and taught by their professors.
The Faculties of Theology in Paris were composed of 753 doctors. The houses were those of the Sorbonne, Navarre, the Cholets, St. Sulpice, several religious orders, and others.
Of these, Fleury tells us that the regulars, to a man, maintained the infallibility of the Pontiff; that the congregations of secular priests were of the same opinion.
We have before us a secret report, drawn up for Colbert by some doctors, partisans of the Court, in which they arrange in two classes, Pour Rome and Contre Rome, the theologians of the Faculties in Paris.
Of the Sorbonne they say: 'Except six or seven, the whole house of the Sorbonne is educated in opinions contrary to the declaration. The professors, except the syndic, are so greatly opposed to it, that even those who are paid by the King are not willing to teach any one of the propositions which were presented to his Majesty in 1665; although, in the Colleges of the Sorbonne and Navarre, there are chairs founded to teach controversy. The number living in the College of the Sorbonne is very considerable. They are all united in Ultramontane opinions except four or five. All the professors, even the royal, except the syndic of the Faculty, are of the same maxims.'
Of the House of Navarre, every professor, except one, was Antigallican.
St. Sulpice, the Missions Étrangères, and St. Nicholas du Chardonnet.—That 'those who have given an opinion in this matter (of the Four Articles) are of the opinion of the Sorbonne.' And of St. Sulpice it was said that it was the seminary of the whole clergy of the kingdom, and that there were many houses which looked upon it as the parent house. Of St. Sulpice, in 1665 it was declared that the whole body was extreme for the authority of the Pope.
The Carmelites, Augustinians, and Franciscans were all Ultramontane.
Such were the men whom Louis XIV. commanded to register and to teach the Four Articles.
The first President de Novion, the Procureur-Général de Harlay, and six councillors, were charged to carry this declaration of the Edict to the Sorbonne on the 1st of May 1682. Three hundred doctors were present. The dean by seniority, Betille, was enfeebled with age. When the registration of the Edict was demanded, the Faculty desired time and deliberation. But Betille answered, 'Gratias agimus amplissimas,' and 'Facultas pollicetur obsequium;' on which the deputation withdrew, and Betille with them. The three hundred remained, expecting their return, and demanding a deliberation; but the absence of the dean rendered it informal. They then separated. Some days after, the Procureur-Général demanded the registration of the Edict. The Faculty answered that they could give no answer before the 1st of June.
The king, therefore, on the 10th of May, wrote to the Syndic, saying, 'that he heard that "quelques docteurs," certain doctors, were disposed to discuss the Edict;' and added: 'It is my will that if any one betakes himself to do this, you stop him, by declaring to him the order which you have received from me in this present letter.'
Some advised a second deputation of the Parliament. But Colbert writes to the Procureur De Harlay that he was afraid of two things: the one, 'to let so much authority be seen;' the other, 'of letting it become known to the Court of Some that the opinions of the Faculty on the subject of the Declaration of the Clergy are not in conformity with the contents of that Declaration.'
The 1st of June passed without any new order for the registration of the Edict. The opposition had become much more vivid. Colbert wrote to De Harlay, telling him that 'the king had received a letter, saying, that "all was lost;" that the king was thinking of expelling MM. Masure, Desperier, and Blanger, who appeared to have a chief part in the affair; but that it would be at variance with his principle, of avoiding as much as possible the appearance of any opposition on the part of the Faculty, or the using of authority on the part of his Majesty.' De Harlay, in answer, addressed to Colbert a document, dated June 2, under the title of 'Projet de réglement pour la tenue des Assemblées de Sorbonne.' After giving his opinion that it was wiser not to send the Parliament a second time to the Faculty, and not to exhibit a great manifestation of authority, he insists that public opinion must be managed, and an appearance of liberty must be left to the Sorbonne. He then goes on in the following: 'It is not altogether without pretext to think it strange that the Faculty should complain of the form of the king's Edict, and of the new submission, and of the Chancellor of the Church of Paris, and finally of the obligation to teach a doctrine, when declared by an assembly of the clergy, of whom the greater part would change with all their heart to-morrow, if they were allowed to do so. But, after all, no one was wanting in respect to the Edict of the King,' &c.
On the 16th of June, at six in the morning, an usher brought an order of the Parliament, forbidding the Faculty to assemble, or to deliberate, and commanding a certain number to appear in the Parliament, at the bar of the ushers, at seven o'clock. When they arrived, the First President addressed them, calling them a cabal, unworthy of confidence and of the marks of esteem with which they had been honoured.
The Edict, the Declaration of the Clergy, was then registered by command.
On that same day De Harlay wrote to the Chancellor Le Tellier the following letter, which will for ever destroy the illusion that the Four Articles were the free and voluntary expression of the opinion of the Church of France in the seventeenth century. It runs as follows:—
16th June, 1682.
After avoiding, as far as depended upon my care, to employ with ostentation the authority which it pleased the king to give us to bring the Faculty of Theology to obedience, in the hope I had that the doctors, who are in very great number, very learned and well intentioned, would prevail over the contrary party; nevertheless, the way in which their deliberations yesterday began, and the assurance we received that the evil party would prevail to-day by about fifteen voices (as you have without doubt been informed), having made me change my opinion, I therefore thought no more of anything but executing the order of the king, which M. de Seignelay brought us yesterday. You will see, my Lord, by the Arrêt of which I send you a copy, as well as by the address which M. the first President made to the doctors who came to the Parliament, the manner in which we proceeded; with much regret on my part, and with equal pain that I am obliged to have a hand in these affairs, we applied remedies almost as disastrous as the evil, and because we are still exposed to many disagreeable consequences.
He then details the reforms necessary to make the Sorbonne 'serviceable to the king,' which consists simply in expelling the Ultramontanes, of whom eight were commanded to depart that same day, or the day following; and further, in stopping the salaries of those who could not produce a certificate of having taught the Four Articles. We find a memorandum, dated llth August 1685. 'The professors of the Sorbonne went to the Royal treasury to demand their payment, according to custom. Three were paid. For the three others, they were told that, as they had not satisfied the order of the king, which obliged them to teach the Propositions of the Clergy, they would not be paid until they had given satisfaction.'
So resolute, unanimous, and constant was the Sorbonne in its opposition to the Four Articles, that the Advocate-General Talon, on June 22, 1685, wrote to the Secretary of State, that 'his Majesty knew better than any one how important it is to stop the progress which the cabals and evil doctrines of the College of the Sorbonne were making in the Faculty of Theology.' He adds that there was only one Professor, 'qui enseigne nos maximes.' 'The evil doctrine of the College of the Sorbonne' is that which M. l'Abbé St. Pol, Chanoine Honoraire, calls at this day 'l'ultra-Catholicisme en Angleterre.'
I will now add only two more quotations.
In 1760 the Abbé Chauvelin, Counsellor of the Parliament of Paris, deadly enemy of the Jesuits and of the bishops who defended them, reporter of the Procès against the Society of Jesus, published, without name, the famous work, 'La Tradition des Faits.' In it we read a summary of all I have endeavoured to detail.
'When the attempt was made to oblige all ecclesiastics to profess the (maximes de France) opinions of France, what difficulties were there not to be encountered! It was necessary to wrest an assent from many of them; others opposed obstacles which all the authority of Parliament had great difficulty in overcoming. There was need of all the zeal, and all the lights of certain prelates, and certain doctors attached to the true opinions, to reclaim the great number of Ultramontanes who were found among the clergy of France. There may be counted seventeen orders which Parliament was obliged to make, to force the Faculty of Theology to register the regulations of 1665, and the doctors to conform to them. The learned prelates who drew up the celebrated Declaration of 1682 met with no less contradiction in getting it adopted. The ecclesiastics never ceased to rise against it, until the Parliament employed its authority to constrain them. When the Parliament endeavoured to enforce the registration of the Edict of 1682 by the Faculties, the pretexts and the subterfuges to avoid it multiplied without end. The University and the Faculty of Law submitted without any difficulty. But it was necessary to come to the exercise of authority, to bring the Faculty of Theology to obedience.'
We seem rather to be reading the history of the Anglican Reformation than of the glorious Church of France.
One more quotation shall be the last. In the Session of the Assembly on the 24th November, 1682, the Promotor Chéron, after saying that Louis XIV. surpassed David in gentleness, Solomon in wisdom, Constantine in religion, Alexander in courage, all the Cæsars and all kings on earth in power, applied to him this Byzantine text; which I do not translate, but leave as I find it. 'In exercitu plus quam rex, in acie plus quam miles, in regno plus quam imperator, in disciplina civili plus quam prætor, in consistorio plus quam judex, in Ecclesia plus quam sacerdos.'
You will remember that in the former Pastoral I only said that Gallicanism was a Royal Theology, and no part of the Catholic tradition of the glorious Church of France. I here give the first proof of my assertion; and shall be ready, if need be, to add more hereafter.
In the Pastoral on the Centenary I recited the prompt and repeated censures of the acts of the Assembly by Innocent XI., April 11, 1682; Alexander VIII. in 1688 and in 1691; the retractation, by the French Bishops and by the King, of the Acts of 1682; and finally, the condemnation of the insertion of the Four Articles in the Synod of Pistoia by Pius VI., in the Bull 'Auctorem Fidei.' To this, much might be added; but as one Pontifical condemnation is enough for those with whom we are now dealing, I forbear to add more.
Such, then, is the present state and aspect of this question. We have traced it, first, through its first period of constant, immemorial, universal, and public practice, down to the Council of Constance; secondly, through the period of conflict, and therefore of analysis, from the Council of Constance to the Assembly of 1682; thirdly, from 1682, in the Pontifical Acts by which the opinion adverse to the infallibility of the Successor of Peter, speaking ex cathedrâ, has been, if not condemned, at least so discouraged that the opposite opinion may be affirmed to be at least certain, if not de fide, though not imposed as of universal obligation. In this stage of the question an Œcumenical Council meets. The question, therefore, is not whether the doctrine be true, which cannot be doubted; or definable, which is not open to doubt: but whether such a definition be opportune, that is, timely and prudent.
Those who maintain that the time is ripe, and that such a definition would be opportune, justify their opinion on the following reasons:—
1. Because the doctrine of the infallibility of the Vicar of Jesus Christ, speaking ex cathedrâ, in matter of faith and morals, is true.
2. Because this truth has been denied.
3. Because this denial has generated extensive doubt as to the truth of this doctrine, which lies at the root of the immemorial and universal practice of the Church, and therefore at the foundation of Christianity in the world.
4. Because this denial, if it arose informally about the time of the Council of Constance, has been revived, and has grown into a formal and public error since the closing of the last General Council.
5. Because, if the next General Council shall pass it over, the error will henceforward appear to be tolerated, or at least left in impunity; and the Pontifical censures of Innocent XI., Alexander VIII., Innocent XII., Pius VI., will appear to be of doubtful effect.
6. Because this denial of the traditional belief of the Church is not a private, literary, and scholastic opinion, but a patent, active, and organised opposition to the prerogatives of the Holy See.
7. Because this erroneous opinion has gravely enfeebled the doctrinal authority of the Church in the mind of a certain number of the faithful; and if passed over in impunity, this ill effect will be still further encouraged.
8. Because this erroneous opinion has at times caused and kept open a theological and practical division among pastors and people, and has given occasion to domestic criticisms, mistrusts, animosities, and alienations.
9. Because these divisions tend to paralyse the action of truth upon the minds of the faithful ad intra; and consequently, by giving a false appearance of division and doubt among Catholics, upon the minds of Protestants and others ad extra.
10. Because, as the absence of a definition gives occasion for these separations and oppositions of opinion among pastors and people, so, if defined, the doctrine would become a basis and a bond of unity among the faithful.
11. Because, if defined in an Œcumenical Council, the doctrine would be at once received throughout the world, both by those who believe the infallibility of the Pontiff and by those who believe the infallibility of the Church; and with the same universal joy and unanimity as the definition of the Immaculate Conception.
12. Because the definition of the ordinary means whereby the faith is proposed to the world is required to complete the Treatise 'de Fide Divina.'
13. Because the same definition is required to complete the Treatise 'de Ecclesia deque dotibus ejus.'
14. Because it is needed to place the Pontifical Acts during the last three hundred years, both in declaring the truth, as in the dogma of the Immaculate Conception, and in condemning errors, as in the long series of propositions condemned in Baius, Jansenius, and others, beyond cavil or question; and, still more, to make manifest that the active infallibility of the Church, between Council and Council, is not dormant, suspended, or intermittent; and to exclude the heretical supposition that infallible decrees are left to the exposition and interpretation of a fallible judge.
15. Because the full and final declaration of the divine authority of the Head of the Church is needed to exclude from the minds of pastors and faithful the political influences which have generated Gallicanism, Imperialism, Regalism, and Nationalism, the perennial sources of error, contention, and schism.
For these and for many more reasons, which it is impossible now to detail, many believe that a definition or declaration which would terminate this long and pernicious question would be opportune, and that it might for ever be set at rest by the condemnation of the propositions following:—
1. That the decrees of the Roman Pontiffs in matter of faith and morals do not oblige the conscience unless they be made in a General Council, or before they obtain, at least, the tacit consent of the Church.
2. That the Roman Pontiff, when he speaks in matter of faith and morals, as the Universal Doctor and Teacher of the Church, may err.
They have also a desire, which springs from their fraternal and grateful affection for the illustrious Church of France, the Mother of S. Germanus, from whom England derived the Episcopate, and the Guardian of the Holy See, glorious for a long history of splendid deeds of faith: it is, that the Bishops of France should, in this first Council of the Vatican, stand forth to lead the voices of the Episcopate in asking that the infallibility of the Vicar of Jesus Christ may be declared by a decree of the universal Church.
There was a day in which the great family of S. Dominic rejoiced the whole Catholic world, when, at the feet of Gregory XVI., it laid its petition that the words 'conceived without original sin' should be inserted in the Litanies. The suffrage of that illustrious Order closed up the circle of unity among the faithful.
The suffrage of the illustrious Church of France for the closing of a divergence, now become historical, among the pastors and faithful of that great Catholic people, would give joy to the whole world. They may claim the glory of this act as a prerogative, for a reason like that which has moved brave legions to claim the peril and the glory of leading the last and crowning act of some great warfare at its glorious close.
- Bellarm. Controv. de Summo Pontif. lib. iv. cap. 2.
- This cannot be better expressed than in the words of F. Franzelin, Professor of Dogmatic Theology in the Roman College: 'Sive Concilio sive Pontifici infallibilitatis charisma competit, quando et quatenus, ut divinitus constitutus magister Ecclesiæ, intendit definitivâ sententiâ docere Ecclesiam universam auctoritate postulante consensum in veritatem propositam.'
'Locutio ex cathedrâ nihil est aliud quam descripta propositio authentica doctrinæ. Quid enim est cathedra apostolica nisi snpremum authenticum magisterium pro universa Ecclesia?'
- Aguirre, Defensio Cathedræ S. Petri, tract, i. disp. xv. 45; and Roskovány, Romaims Pontifex, &c., tom. i. 630. Neitria. 1869.
- The Council of Constance had not the question of infallibility before it. In affirming that a Council was superior to the Pope, 'in his que pertinent ad fidem,' it did not declare the Pope to be fallible. And even those words were resisted, not only by Cardinal Zarabella, but by the Cardinals and Ambassadors of France. Moreover, they were the act of only a part of one Obedience, in the midst of disorder and irregularity which would suffice to annul them, even if Martin V. had not carefully excluded them from his confirmation.
- Labbe, Concil. xviii. p. 526. Ed. Ven. 1732.
- Ibid. xix. p. 1052.
- Concil. Trid. Sess. vii. De Bapt. 3; Sess. xiv. De Ex. Unct. 3; Sess. xxii. 8; Sess. xxv. cent., De delect. ciborum, &c.
- Gersonii Opp. tom. ii. p. 303. Ed. Antverp. 1706.
- Gersonii Opp. tom. ii. p. 247. Ed. Ant. 1706.
- Theoph. Raynaud, tom. xx. p. 389, Cracov. 1669, sums up the question in these words:—'It were in vain to bring together a number of theologians, since all may be adduced who lived before the Council of Constance. For this truth [the infallibility of the Roman Pontiff] was never called into controversy among Catholics before the time of the Councils of Bale and Constance. But all who went before unanimously taught that the definitions of Pontiffs, even without a General Council, made matter of faith, and that every judgment of faith belonged ultimately to the Holy See.' See also the whole of section xi.
- Theolog. Wirceburg. tom. i. p. 373. Paris, 1852.
- Inter Gersonii Opp. tom. i. p. 702. Antverp. 1706.
- D'Argentré, Coll. Judic. tom i. p. 1, p. 222. Ed. Paris, 1728.
- Bradwardini de Causa Dei, Præf. Ed. Lond. 1618.
- Baronius, tom. xxv. ad annum 1351, p. 529. Ed. Luc. 1750.
- Summa, sec. 2da quæst. i. art. 10. Ed. Ven. 1593.
- Opuscula vi. In Symbol. Apost. Opp. tom. xvii. p. 70. Ed. Ven.
- S. Bonav. In Expos. Reg. Fratrum Minorum, cap. i. tom. vii. p. 332. Romæ, 1596.
- Ibid. In Apol. Pauperum, respon. i. cap. i. p. 413.
- Labbe, Concil. tom. xiv. p. 512. 513. Ed. Ven. 1731.
- S. Thomæ Epist. lxxiv. ad Suffraganeos, p. 167; Ep. cxxiv. ad Robertum Heref. p. 277. Ed. Oxon. 1844.
- S. Anselmi de Fide Trin. Dedic. p. 41. Ed. Ben. Paris, 1721.
- Ibid. Epist. ad Humbertum. Lib. iii. 65, p. 391.
- S. Bernard, ad Innoc. P. Ep. cxci. tom. iv. p. 433. Ed. Paris, 1742.
- D'Achéry, Spicilegium, tom. i, 194. Ed. Paris, 1723.
- Labbe, Concil. tom. xii. pp. 679, 680. Ed. Ven. 1730.
- Labbe, Concil. tom. x. p. 238. Ed. Ven. 1730.
- Labbe, Concil. ibid. p. 633.
- Alcuin, Opp. in Patrologia, Migne, tom. c. col. 293. Paris, 1857.
- Carol. M. Opp. in Patrologia, Migne, torn, xcviii. col. 1020, 21. Paris, 1851.
- Labbe, Concil. tom. viii. p. 771, 5. Ed. Ven. 1729.
- Labbe, Concil. tom. vii. p. 131. Ed. Ven. 1729.
- Labbe, Concil. tom. vii. pp. 659, 662. Ed. Ven. 1729.
- Ibid. p. 1110. So S. Jerome: 'Ego Beatitudini tuæ, id est Cathedræ, consocior,' Opp. tom. iv. P. 2, p. 19; and S. Prosper, inter Opp. S. Aug. tom. x. App. p. 176, Paris, 1690: 'Sacrosancta Petri Sedes per universum orbem Papæ Zosimi sic ore loquitur.' S. Peter Damian writes to the Pope: 'Vos Apostolica Sedes, Vos Romana estis Ecclesia.' Opp. tom. iii. p. 221.
- Labbe, Concil. tom. v. p. 583. Ed. Ven. 1728.
- We have this on the authority of Rusticus, who wrote about a.d. 546. He says that the faith was confirmed 'per libellos sacerdotum forsan duorum millium et quingentorum, imperante Justino, post schisma Petri Alexandrini et Acacii Constantinopolitani. Rustici S. R. E. Diac. Card. Contra Acephalos. Disp. Galland. Bibl. Max. tom. xii. p. 75.
- Labbe, Concil. tom. v. p. 622. Ed. Ven, 1728.
- Opp. S. Leon.: In Anniv. Assump. Serm. v. 4. Ed. Ballerini, 1753.
- Ibid. Serm. iii. 2.
- Ibid. Serm. iii. 3.
- Opp. S. Leon. Epist. p. 1069. Ed. Ball. 1753. .
- Labbe, Concil. tom. iv. p. 1235.
- Epist. S. Synod. Chalc. ad Leon. P. inter Opp. pp. 1088, 1090.
- Ep. Marciani Imp. ad Leon. Papam, ibid. p. 1114.
- Ad Pulcher. ibid. p. 1158, sec. 3.
- Ep. Petri Chrys. ad Eutychen, inter Opp. S. Leonis, ibid, p. 779.
- S. Iren. Adv. Hær., lib. iii. 2. sec. 21, note 27. Ed. Ven. 1734.
- I cannot refrain from adding, that we have positive historical proof that Honorius did not err in faith. We have his two letters, which are perfectly orthodox. In whatsoever sense the words of the Council may be understood, they cannot be understood to accuse Honorius of heresy, with the proof of his orthodoxy before us under his own hand. Gonzalez, De Infall. Rom. Pontif., disp. xv. sect. vi. § 1.
- It is with no little surprise, shared I believe by those who have read the evidence from the fifteenth to the fifth century given in this chapter, that I read in the book 'Janus,' which has caused no little stir in Germany, the following words:—'For thirteen centuries an incomprehensible silence on this fundamental article (Papal Infallibility) reigned throughout the whole Church and her literature. None of the antient confessions of faith, no Catechism, none of the Patristic writings composed for the instruction of the people, contain a syllable about the Pope, still less any hint that all certainty of faith and of doctrine depends on him.' 'The Pope and the Council, by Janus,' p. 64.—The reader will judge whether an incomprehensible silence reigned on the perpetual stability or indefectibility of the Faith in the See and Successor of Peter, and whether there be any difference between this and the infallibility of the Pontiff. But these confident assertions may mislead thousands.
- Bottalla, 'The Supreme Authority of the Pope,' p. 157 et seq.
- Gersonii Opp. Ed. Dupin, Ant. 1706: tom. i. De Exam. Doctr. Consid. 2, p. 9.
- Ibid. Con. 5, p. 11.
- Tom. ii, De modis uniendi, p. 174.
- Ibid. p. 168.
- Ibid. p. 163.
- Ibid. p. 178.
- Tom. ii. De Statu Eccl. p. 533.
- Tom. vi. De Auferib. Papæ, p. 218,
- Bouix, De Papa et de Concil. Œcum. tom. i. 493. Paris, 1869.
- Roskovány, De Rom. Pontif. tom. ii. 35.
- Roskovány, ibid. tom. ii. p. 105.
- Roskovány, ibid. tom. ii. p. 175.
- Ibid. tom. ii. p. 180.
- Ibid. p. 190.
- D'Argentré, Collectio Judiciorum, tom. iii. p. 2, p. 280. Paris, 1736.
- Zaccaria, Anti-Febronius Vindicatus, diss. v. cap. 2, p. 242. Rome, 1843.
- D'Argentré, Coll. Jud., tom. iii. p. 2, p. 312.
- Ibid. p. 825.
- Bouix, De Papa, &c., p. 564.
- Zaccaria, Anti-Febronius Vindicatus, dissert, v. cap. 2, s. 5, Notes.
- Ibid, note 5.
- Gérin, Recherches historiques sur l'Assemblée du Clergé de France de 1682, p. 201. Paris, Lecoffre, 1869. But I need say no more on the fidelity of the Archbishop of Cambrai. His courageous successor, in a noble address to his clergy on the 10th of September last, has abundantly proved the truth of my statement in 1867.
- Ibid. p. 389.
- This was notorious:
'La Sorbonne défend la foi,
Et le clergé l'édit du roi.'—Chansons du temps.
- Gérin, p. 343.
- Ibid. p. 345.
- Ibid. p. 351.
- Ibid. p. 352.
- Ibid. p. 354.
- Ibid. p. 355.
- Gérin, p. 359.
- Ibid. p. 375.
- Ibid. p. 376.
- How deeply the national spirit had pervaded the minds and language of men at that time, appears from the constant use of such phrases as, 'la doctrine française,' 'les opinions françaises,' 'nos maximes.' We find also Massillon writing, 'comme évêque français.' The words grate strangely on the ears of those to whom the Church of God is more than nation, country, and kindred. I cannot refrain from quoting the noble and delicate words of the Archbishop of Cambrai to his clergy in synod on September 10th last: 'There is no nation that may claim the privilege of having, in the bosom of the Catholic Church, its theology apart, and its peculiar doctrines, which a kind of prescription gives it the right to preserve for ever. Understood in this way, these national doctrines would be evidently incompatible with Catholic unity; and they would bring on in time, and by the force of events, the divisions which consummate under our eyes the final ruin of Protestantism.'
- Gérin, p. 389.
- Ibid. p. 301.