35.  UNDER this title Dr. Schulte collects together as proven (Ger. Bewiesen), to use his own words, all that he has gathered together out of different rescripts and proceedings of Popes, and in his own thirteen propositions, to be infallible and unalterable Catholic doctrine, which every one is bound to accept, if he accepts as a de fide proposition the definition of the Vatican Council on the Infallible teaching office of the Roman Pontiff.

I have proved, in sections 15-27 of my answer to him on each of his thirteen propositions, that, upon the principle laid down in the definition of the Vatican Council ‘on the Infallible teaching office of the Roman Pontiff, they are not to be regarded as Catholic doctrine de fide, that they are not Papal utterances ex cathedrâ, and accordingly are not unalterable.

I had shown previously (section 13), that the other assertion which he brought in connection with his thirteen propositions, that he had no warrant whatever for saying that ‘it had been declared ex cathedrâ, that Popes have never overstepped the limits of their powers; that they have never erred in their canons and constitutions; that their constitutions rest, as it were, upon Divine inspiration;’ for in reality no Pope ever has declared this ex cathedrâ, nor set it forth as a definition de fide.  Having proved this, the edifice of consequences, built by Dr. Schulte upon his worthless foundation, falls to the ground.

Still I must select one proposition, introduced by him as a corollary, which should not remain unnoticed.  He says, ‘The limitation of the omnipotence of the Popes upon earth rests merely with their own will.’  This is a proposition which may well shock anybody.  But happily, first and foremost, it is altogether wrong to speak of a Pope’s omnipotence.  The Pope has from Christ, in the person of St. Peter, received the fullness of power,[116] which means, as the Ecumenical Council of Florence accurately explained, the full power to feed the whole Church, to lead and to rule it.  If people choose to call this Papal omnipotence, then they will be really ousting an expression which has its own perfect justification, and its right meaning in the language of the Church, and foisting into its place a newly-coined expression, ‘Papal omnipotence.’  This is a term which the language of the Church has never used of Popes, which gives a wholly erroneous impression, and which in unlearned people would be apt to awaken the most strange apprehensions.  Much more will this be the case when, as Dr. Schulte adds, this Papal omnipotence is supposed to have no restriction but the will of the Pope. All this is a monstrous untruth.  The Papal power, not Papal omnipotence, has its restrictions in the laws of God, and in the will of God, not in the will of the Pope.[117]

All, then, which Dr. Schulte asserts on this ground, all that he asserts of the power of the Pope against heretics, and of the obligation of Catholics to obey the Pope, and also of the binding power of excommunication, is, so far as the Vatican definition is concerned, left just where it was before.

When, then, he draws his conclusion from such unwarrantable assumptions that no non-Catholic sovereign in his position as ruler is secure of his throne; no government carried on by those who are not Catholics is secure of its authority; no non-Catholic is secure of his life, or his freedom, or his honour, or his property; and what is more, under certain circumstances, no Catholic ruler, no government carried on even by Catholics, no individual Catholic, is a whit more secure,—then I must be pardoned for saying that all these assertions are as utterly ludicrous as they are untrue (see no. 28-9).  Had not he better have said outright, ‘Nobody is now safe from the Pope’?  Any true Catholic, who, according to the true old Catholic doctrine, knows that the Pope is the pastor appointed by God over all the faithful, that he is their father and their teacher, will never believe a man is now a whit the less safe from the Pope.

Less safe, forsooth! Why?  Because an express assurance has now been given him that the Pope, as teacher of all Christians, cannot err or lead others into error in definitions which he makes for all the Church upon faith or morals!

It is indeed very probably that those who are not Catholics, and who on that account are, through want of knowledge, the easier led astray and bewildered, will be disturbed by such a spectre as Dr. Schulte has evoked, when told that this is the result of modern Catholic teaching.  In behalf of all such persons I make this express declaration: that all rulers and governments and subjects, Catholic and non-Catholic, are, since the Vatican definition of Infallibility, just as safe in their persons, in their life, in their freedom, honour, and possessions as they were before.  Dr. Schulte says the contrary; but the facts which he alleges do not belong to the province of Infallibility, and so they make nothing for his assertion.  ‘Crying “wolf!” is a poor joke,’ is an old proverb which might here be very properly applied.

In conclusion, Dr. Schulte directs the State to be sure to take stringent measures to protect itself from the Pope.  Such measures will either be pointed against the Pope or else against us Catholics.  I should be surprised indeed if any statesman should resolve, as Dr. Schulte suggests, to require the Pope to make some contradictory declaration in respect of his Infallibility; if he were to do so, he would have nobody to blame but himself for this exhibition of folly, and few people like to make fools of themselves.  And I should also doubt if any statesman would venture to require Catholics to take an oath, or make a solemn declaration, in respect of the Infallibility of the Pope, since experienced politicians know well how dangerous it is to meddle with freedom of faith and conscience, especially in countries where full freedom of faith and conscience is secured to all alike.

Wise statesmen do not forget the lessons given by the facts of the present time.  Let any man look at the events which have happened in Europe since July 18th, 1870, down to December last, and ask himself what steps the Popes of the Middle Ages, whose specters Dr. Schulte has conjured up from their graves to terrify the children of modern times, would have taken in the face of such events in all countries, especially in France?  And what has Pius IX. done?  He has but used gentle, fatherly, tender-hearted words full of Christian love and humanity towards France[118] and towards King William of Prussia.

36.  A real statesman, looking with deeper glance into the great questions of the present and of the past, whose emblem is not the staff of the policeman surmounting the fasces of authority, will entertain very different thoughts.  He will, if I mistake not, be disposed to think that it well becomes a religion revealed by God, a Church founded by God, to have an organ by means of which, according to the will of God, and through God’s special assistance, the Divine doctrine may ever be preserved unfalsified, without admixture of any human error.

He will consider that since from its origin for all time the Infallibility of the Catholic Church in respect of faith and morals is secured, it is merely a question for the Church to judge of for herself, whether, according to the tradition of the Christian faith, preserved from the beginning, the Pope and the Bishops, or whether the Pope without the Bishops, possessed this gift of Infallibility.

He will consider that oppression of the conscience of the Catholic population in matters of faith through the imposition of an oath or a solemn declaration will be always and everywhere regarded as a kind of persecution, as was the case in England and Ireland, where this practice was for some time adopted, but where it has been now discontinued.

He will consider that it ill becomes a true liberal-minded statesman to establish such a persecution, especially when measures of that sort are adopted merely in the distant prospect of a barely possible danger.

He will consider that that the steps the Pope has actually taken, and his whole conduct in the last half year (1870) that has passed since the definition was pronounced, have not only given no real ground for alarm to Governments or to our brethren who are separated from the Catholic Church, but on the contrary have guaranteed as far as was possible their most perfect tranquility.

I conclude with the earnest desire that what I have here written in the cause of Truth may in all it contains serve that same Truth, and that in all who may read it it may advance the knowledge of the Truth.


[116] Pleniture potestatis.

[117] I would here direct Dr. Schulte’s attention to Walter’s excellent exposition in his Ecclesisatical Law, sec. 126 (thirteenth edition), on ‘The Pope’s power not arbitrary and unlimited.’  With this, however, a canonist ought to be already acquainted; and perhaps Dr. Schulte will answer, ‘That is all valueless now since the Infallibility declaration.;  But what is there said is just as true now as it was before.

[118] The Archbishop of Tours, whom the Pope instructed with the mission to intervene with France in behalf of peace, wrote an excellent letter on the subject to the French Government.  ‘The powers of Europe,’ he said, ‘in times long past, times which formed Christendom to be what it afterwards became, were wont to appeal to the Pope in their contests with each other to act as their umpire; and many a time the intervention of the Pope has brought peace and welfare to their people.  The Holy Father does not now complain that people have ceased to take him to be their arbitrator.  He does but assume for himself the liberty to sigh over our miseries, and the right to entreat for the life of his children.  Happy am I indeed if my mission to you, a mission which I esteem the honour of my life, were destined to give effect to the hopes of the Head of the Church, which are so fully in accord with the feelings of the whole of Europe.’