1.  The general exposition of the subject with which my opponent, Dr. Schulte, opens his attack upon the Church commences with a German translation of the Address of several of our archbishops and bishops, issued under the date April 10, 1870.[7]  This Address entreats the President of the General Congregation of the Council not to bring on for consideration, or to decide the question of the Infallibility of the Pope, before the question as to the power of the Holy See in temporal matters, or rather, as to the relative position of the ecclesiastical and political power, has been thoroughly weighed in all its  bearings, and put to the test.  These prelates, it seems, thought it desirable that the question whether Christ our Lord had given to St. Peter and his successor the power over kings and realms should first be laid before the Council, and thus that the relation of the ecclesiastical to the temporal power should first be made matter of mature deliberation.  He adds himself that this Address produced no result.

Accordingly, this Address of certain archbishops and bishops is at once the shield or bulwark behind which Dr. Schulte shelters himself, and the ground on which he rests, in order to open his attack upon the Pope.  The Bishops to whom he refers having acknowledged it to be the principal task of the Council ‘to advance in the best way possible the greater glory of God, and the welfare of mankind in general,’ find it natural that in so great a body of men different opinions should arise—not, however, so different as to split them up into parties.  Accordingly, out of the various difficulties presenting themselves in the consideration of the question of Papal Infallibility, they make particular mention of a specially weighty one, and this, their Address says, is a difficulty which directly touches the relationship of Catholic doctrine to civil society; in the treatment of which subject some contradiction might be expected to arise between the doctrine hitherto taught by them on the relationship between Church and State, and the conclusions which might follow from the doctrine of the Infallibility of the Pope.

Well, it is a matter of fact that this difficulty was not separately considered, and it is also matter of fact that, in the matters treated of in the Council, the relations of Church and State power did not come first under consideration, but the doctrine respecting the Pope as the Foundation and visible Head of the Catholic Church.  Whoever will look at the question without prejudice will see that there are clearly two different ways of viewing it—viz. first, whether it is best to commence with the Catholic doctrine respecting the Pope as the Foundation and visible Head of the Catholic Church, and then afterwards with the doctrine respecting the relations between Church and State, or vice versâ; that reasons can be alleged on both sides; and that the view that the doctrine respecting the Pope ought to take precedence is, at any rate, a well-grounded one.

But it may be said that, had this question of the relations of Church and State taken the precedence, difficulties touching the Infallibility of the Pope would have then been examined.  No doubt they would; and so they have been now, thought not exactly in the form in which one portion of the Council wished and required.  The discussion, which continued for many weeks, in which bishops of all countries took part, had this very object in view—viz. to throw all possible light on the subject when considered on every side.

But, continues Dr. Schulte, ‘anyhow these difficulties have not all been properly solved.’

To this I answer: If before doctrinal matters were decided in the Catholic Church, we had always had to wait until all difficulties were cleared away, General Councils would have had a long time to wait.  When the Council of Nicaea declared that the doctrine, ‘The Son of God is very God,’ was a dogma of the faith, all difficulties were so far from being cleared away, that during four whole centuries, in which period flourished the greatest teachers of doctrine the world has ever known—Athanasius, Hilary, Basil, Ambrose—those theologians had to put forth their whole strength in order to solve these difficulties.  This has been the case with subsequent General Councils; and it is the excellent and all-important task of the science of theology, after the authority of the teaching Church has solemnly and formally declared the truth revealed by God, to solve the difficulties which present themselves in respect of each particular doctrine, to aid every man to acknowledge the truth himself, and to help to obtain a victory for that truth in the world at large.  After each dogmatic definition there have ever been found in the Catholic Church men, on the one hand, who contested the truth of the definition, and who enhanced its difficulty; and men who, on the other hand, have done their best to defend it, and who in the end have happily solved all difficulties which stood in the way of its general acceptance.  The former have long since been subjected to the judgment of history and to the just judgment of God; the latter, the Catholic Church names through all ages with honour, and these, too, have had their reward with God.

2. The bishops who signed the address are, with the exception of four, not mentioned by name by Dr. Schulte.  It is only said: ‘It was signed by almost all the Austrian and Hungarian bishops who, since the Fulda pastoral of August 31, 1870, have been seeking, with a reckless arbitrary exertion of authority perfectly unintelligible, to introduce this same doctrine of the Infallibility of the Pope, so as to cause an open breach amongst Catholics.’  A severe taunt this, to use towards a portion of the German bishops! to whose charge, moreover, he still further lays, that in their pastoral of 1870 they used no single word to imply that they themselves admitted the July doctrine in substance.  And of these bishops he remarks: ‘After they had persistently and boldly declared their non placet up to the decisive day of July 13, they, to their disgrace, remained absent from the formal act of July 18; and this from mere human respect of persons.’

Here I must again say: These are hard words for a man of learning to fling publicly in the faces of German, Austrian, and Hungarian archbishops and bishops—viz. that, out of mere human and personal motives, they kept away from the solemn act of expressing their assent to a revealed truth.  Such a hard judgment as this neither the Pope nor their brother bishops pronounced upon them; it has been reserved for a layman to constitute himself the judge of their consciences, and to raise this cry of scorn against bishops: ‘You stayed away from the solemn sitting of the Council, July 18, out of mere human respect.’  What avails it to say, ‘He doesn’t blame them for it’?  The reproach of acting in so grave a matter from a motive of mere human respect is the greatest reproach that can be made to a bishop.

Very different was the judgment of their brother bishops upon the cause of their absence.  It is not in the General Congregation, but in the Solemn Session of the Council, that the decisive vote is given.  This it is easy to see from the acts of General Councils.  If even up to this point in the last General Congregation, but in the solemn session of the Council, that the decisive vote is given.  This it is easy to see from the acts of General Councils.  If even up to this point in the last General Congregation before the Solemn Session a bishop is not satisfied as to all his difficulties, or if he thinks it better that the decision should not yet be pronounced on such and such a doctrine, he may in the interval between the last General Congregation and the Solemn Session acquire a full conviction on the subject by discoursing with other theologians, by study of the subject, and by prayer, and may thus overcome his last difficulties, and see that it is well that the definition should be made.  Nay, even if he cannot attain this full conviction and insight into the matter by any exertion of his own, he will wait for the decision of the Council with a calm trust in God, without himself taking part in it, because up to this point he lacks the necessary certainty of conviction.  When, however, the Council by its decision puts an end to the matter, then at length his Catholic conscience tells him plainly what he must now think and what he must now do; for it is then that the Catholic bishop, whom hitherto unsolved difficulties have kept from participation in the public session and from the solemn voting, says: ‘Now it is undoubtedly certain that this doctrine is revealed by God, and is therefore a portion of the Catholic faith, and therefore I accept it on faith, and must now proclaim it to my clergy and people as a doctrine of the Catholic Church.  The difficulties which hitherto made it hard for me to give my consent, and to the perfect solution of which I have not even attained, must be capable of a solution; and so I shall honestly busy myself with all the powers of my soul to find their solution for myself and for those whose instruction God has confided to my care.’  Then those bishops who in the last General Congregation voted with the non placets, only because they really thought it was not a good thing, not necessary, not for the benefit of souls in countries well known to them, and who for this reason abstained from taking part in this decision, may, after the solemn decision, if they think it advisable, represent to the faithful of their dioceses the position which they previously adopted towards the doctrine, in order that their conduct may not be misunderstood.  But they must now themselves unhesitatingly accept the doctrine which has been decided, and make it known to their people in its true and proper bearings, without reserve, and in such manner that the injurious effects which they themselves apprehended may be as much as possible obviated and removed; for it is not permitted to the bishop, as the divinely-appointed teacher of the clergy and people, to be silent about or to withhold a doctrine of the Faith revealed by God, because he apprehends or thinks that some may take offence of it.  Nay, rather it is his business so prudently to bring it about in the declaration of that doctrine, that its true sense and import may hereafter be clearly represented, all erroneous misrepresentations of it be excluded, the reasons for the decision of the doctrine brought out plainly, and all objections to it zealously met and answered.

And this was what the German bishops really did think, and do.  In proof whereof I will venture to mention the name of the Archbishop of Cologne, who thus speaks: ‘In respect of this doctrine, I, in common with many other bishops and laymen, although I have always given my assent to its truth, nevertheless held a different opinion from the majority of bishops at the Council, and made no concealment of my opinion that the definition was inopportune in our time, and I also differed in respect of certain particulars connected with the doctrine.  Since, however, after a deep and thorough investigation and examination, the question has been decided by the Ecumenical Council, in the firm conviction that every Catholic is bound to submit unconditionally his own personal view of the matter to the decision of such a Council—the highest legitimate authority in the Church—I have dismissed all previous doubts and anxieties on the subject, and I feel myself bound here publicly to declare that I expect the same submission from every Catholic and subject of this archdiocese, as the fulfillment of a simple duty of their religion.’—Pastoral, September 10, 1870.[8]

As to the way in which the bishops thought fit to make known to their subjects this obligation of their faith—whether it should be done by a simple printed notice in the official gazette of the diocese, as at Vienna, Prague, Leitmeritz, and elsewhere, or by a special pastoral, as at Cologne, Saltsburg, Munich, Regensburg, &c., or by a notice from the altar-rails of the church, as at Linz—is immaterial; since any one of these notifications shows sufficiently that each particular bishop looked upon this doctrine as  doctrine of the Catholic faith, and required that his subjects should do so likewise.  Moreover, every one is aware that all doctrinal definitions of the Catholic Church demand a conscientious acceptation on the part of every Catholic as soon as he comes to a certain knowledge of the doctrine, and this without any special publication in a particular diocese.

  3.  Our opponent next insists on the great importance of an exact and thorough knowledge of History, in order completely to sift the doctrine of the infallible teaching authority of the Pope, and to ascertain what value History has set upon it.  The necessity of such a knowledge we readily admit, without, however, admitting that it will at all avail the enemies of the doctrine.  For it is perfectly well known to every one who is acquainted with the literary works, both old and new, which have reference to this subject, that the advocates of the doctrine of Papal Infallibility, as well as its adversaries, appeal to the history of the Church and to its sources.  History experiences the same fate that has befallen Holy Scripture.  The advocates, as well as the enemies, of every particular Catholic doctrine on which, in the course of ages, dogmatic definitions have been pronounced, have always appealed to Holy Scripture. So it is with the appeal to history; but with this great difference—that we honour Holy Scripture as the divine source of our Catholic faith (though  not the only source), whereas history, in so far as we consider it apart from that tradition which is one source of our faith, has only a human authority, and is amenable to the full force of the laws of sound criticism.  Accordingly, history will furnish those supporters of the doctrine of the Infallibility of the Pope who wish to go to its very foundation with extremely valuable and rich materials.  Those things which the adversaries of the doctrine adduce out of history, in order to assail it, will present us too with an excellent opportunity of placing in a right light what the doctrine really is, and of showing, by particular examples, in what cases it derives support from such instances, and in what cases not.  These records of the past will not then be, as our adversaries taunt us, ‘a very disagreeable subject for us to contemplate;’ say rather they are the sources which enable us to maintain our point, and that their investigation is most desirable, since without these there can be no real history at all.   And if there is anything to which the writer of these pages owes a grateful acknowledgment, it is to these very sources of his information being as exact as they are.

4.  Dr. Schulte now further declares that, though a Catholic born and bred, he has never believed in Papal Infallibility, and he asserts that, as to this decree of July 18th, 1870, ‘he can find no authority for it either in Scripture, or in the Fathers, or in any other sound source of historical information, as it is taught in Caps. iii. and iv. of the Vatican Council.’

Such a declaration makes it clear enough what position he assumes, and a very deplorable position it is.  He refuses to accept the definition de fide of an Ecumenical Council; he cares nothing for the authority of the living teaching Church; only for what he thinks he finds in Scripture, in the Fathers, and in other genuine ancient sources.  This is a way to forsake the Catholic Church altogether.  Every one is to follow his own guidance, his own private judgment; one finds one thing, another finds another; each calls out, ‘I have found out the truth; come to me.’  This is the way all errors have arisen, and it is this uncatholic position, which he has assumed, which is at the root of this particular perversion of his judgment, as is manifest from the following words he makes use of: ‘As it is not my bishop or my priest who will bring me to heaven by his prayers, if I myself believe not in Christ, and live not as a Christian ought to live; so neither can I, nor any one else who wishes to know what is right, intrust my salvation to the responsibility which a third person might be willing to assume for me.  Of my own self God will, in the next world, require a reckoning of my life.  To the doctrine of the Apostles (Rom. xiv. 12, 2 Cor. v. 10[9])  I hold fast, and will never shield myself under the responsibility of any one but myself.’

When then Dr. Schulte says, ‘Neither Pope, nor bishop, nor parish priest, can bring me to heaven by his prayers, if I live not as a Christian and believe in Christ,’ no doubt he states perfectly correctly that no one goes to heaven by another’s prayers, if he does not believe in Christ and live according to his faith.  When, however, he adds, ‘Just as little can I, or any one who wishes to know what is right, trust my salvation to the responsibility which a third person may be willing to assume,’ this is a proposition with a double sense, one of which senses is true, and the other false.  It is perfectly true, if it is a question of the transgression of a law which I may have had the misfortune to commit, which transgression a third person may, perhaps, say he will take upon his own shoulders; as if a person were to say, ‘If you commit such and such a murder, such and such an adultery, such and such a theft, such and such an act of fraud, I will take upon myself the responsibility of the deed.’  In such matters assuredly the responsibility which another person takes upon himself, will in no wise avail me before God.  In this sense, then, the proposition is true.  But if any one wishes to extend the application of this proposition, so as to say that I must not accept a Catholic doctrine on faith when the teaching Church declares it to be faith, because I myself do not find the doctrine in Scripture, the Fathers, or other genuine ancient sources of Church doctrine, then this proposition is used in a false sense, by the substitution of the act of the individual’s subjective belief for the objective truth declared by the Church, which truth is based upon the infallible teaching office of the holy Catholic Church.  What an amazing difference, then, is there between these two propositions!  In one case, a man offers to bear for another the consequences of an act of every-day life, be it of belief or unbelief, be it of a good or bad action, and in the other case, a Catholic Christian, relying on the authority of the teaching Church, on which God has Himself taught him to rely, ‘he that heareth you heareth Me, ‘ accepts a doctrine as a truth revealed by God, because the teaching Church, under the special guidance of the Holy Spirit, has declared it to be so.  If a man is not to be required to believe such a declaration as this, then all difference between an infallibly teaching Catholic Church and Protestantism in all its forms, with the unlimited right of private judgment, is at an end.  Assuredly he says truly, ‘God will some time call every one to a reckoning for his conduct during life.’  Certainly He will call our once-Catholic opponent, and will say to him, ‘I gave you the grace to be born and bred up in the Catholic Church; you both might have learnt and you ought to have learnt that there resides in the Catholic Church an infallible teaching authority, to which, in matters of faith, every Catholic is bound to submit.  From the man who rebels against an authority and rejects her decision will I demand an account, and an account twofold and threefold more severe from him who, in his capacity of public teacher, misleads from the Faith the youth who have been intrusted to him, and causes them to rebel against the authority of the Church, and who, for this reason, will have the guilt of the shipwreck of those souls on his conscience.’

5.  Having assumed, as I have described, so fearfully mistaken a position, our opponent proceeds to assert that he himself preserves and holds fast the faith of the Fathers and the teaching of the ancient Catholic Church in rejecting the decision of the Vatican Council on Papal Infallibility, (the July Constitution, as he is pleased to call it).  Well then, the Vatican Council has solemnly spoken, and said that ‘holding fast to the tradition of the Christian faith, which it has received from the beginning,’ it declares this to be a doctrine of the Faith.  If this faith is contained in the tradition of the Christian faith, which has existed from the beginning, then must it have been the faith of the Fathers and the doctrine of the ancient Catholic Church.  So here we have assertion versus assertion.  The Vatican Council declares the doctrine of the infallible teaching office of the Roman Pope has been in the Church from the beginning, delivered down from the most ancient times; Dr. Schulte says that he, while, maintaining his own view of the question, he does not accept the doctrine, still holds fast to the faith of the Fathers and to the doctrine of the ancient Catholic church.  Whom is the world to believe?  Dr. Schulte, or the Pope and the Bishops?  Hardly will he have the confidence to answer, ‘The world is to believe me, not the Pope and the Bishops.’  Yet, according to the position he has assumed in his pamphlet, he cannot bring himself to answer, ‘The world must believe not me, but the Pope and Bishops.’  Accordingly, all that remains for him to say is, ‘Everybody is to search for himself the Holy Scriptures and the writings of the Fathers, and examine the ancient records, in order to find out the truth for himself.’

Out of compassion for the author I decline to stigmatise with its proper name such a position as this which he has assumed; his own conscience must, when he calmly weighs the matter over, tell him what a course he has entered on, and whither such principles must naturally lead him.  How utterly unreal, how completely impossible in practice, such a suggestion is, my readers will easily see, if they do but consider that they are thus, every one of them, required to examine Holy Scripture, the Fathers, and the ancient records of the Church, in order to know what they have to believe respecting the infallible teaching office of the Roman Pontiff; whether having made such an investigation, they are compelled to accept this doctrine as a doctrine of the Catholic faith, and under what limitations.  In order, however, to prevent any one misunderstanding my meaning, I think it right to remark, that is contesting the position of Dr. Schulte, as regards the duty of every one to examine Scripture, the Fathers, and the ancient records for himself, I am far from dissuading an examination of them as a thing objectionable in itself.  On the contrary, I highly value such an investigation, and I hold it to be a very right and proper thing to make it, when it is done in a right manner.  If, however, this examination is praised and recommended in order to represent the solemn definition of the teaching Church as an error, then will a thing that is good in itself, instead of being a means of establishing and defending the truth, only serve as a battering-ram against that truth.  This is a bad and objectionable proceeding.

6.  One other assertion of our opponent needs to be cleared up.  It is this: he says, ‘The Church is not founded that the Hierarchy may govern, and the laity obey; but the Lord hath founded His Church that every one may find in her the safe way to work out his salvation.’  As this assertion here meets the eye, it presents to our view a truth—viz. that the final cause of the foundation of the Church was not that the Hierarchy might govern, and that the laity might obey, but that every one might find salvation in her.  But if this assertion is made to represent as a fact that it is not the will of God, in the foundation of His Church, that the Pope and the Bishops should instruct and govern His holy Church, and that the laity should listen to them in the Church, then is this a great misrepresentation of the truth.  When, however, I say it is the will of God that the Pope and the Bishops should instruct and govern the Church, of course I mean to say this in that ordinary sense in which the words have ever been understood, and the thing practiced in the Church.  To the Pope and to the Bishops, in the person of Peter and of the rest of the Apostles, was the whole truth of Revelation committed by Jesus Christ, the Founder of the holy Church.  This truth is preserved by them, with a true and earnest watchfulness, as a precious treasure intrusted to them by God, and laid up in their keeping, to be imparted, either by themselves or by their assistants, the priests, to all who, by a true acceptance of this truth and by Baptism, have either already found admission.  This is what the Pope and the Bishops, according to the will of God, teach.  But it is also the will of God that they should govern the Church.  This means that they should lead on their way to heaven the faithful committed to their pastoral care by means of the truth which they have received to administer, and by virtue of that spiritual power with which, in the third place, they are endowed.  This they know right well, and bear it always, and before all things, as their first duty, follow the example of their Divine Redeemer, the first and highest Pastor of souls, who hath said to them, ‘I have given you an example, that you also should do as I have done unto you.’  ‘Learn of Me, for I am meek and lowly of heart.’  ‘He who will be great among you, let him be your minister, like as the Son of Man is not come to be ministered unto, but to minister and to give His life a ransom for many.’  This ministration for the good of souls is exercised in very different ways: sometimes with loving and sometimes with zealous words; sometimes with instruction by word of mouth, and sometimes with words of written admonition, after the fashion of the Apostles, in the doctrine and love of Christ.

It is greatly to be regretted certainly that our opponent, Dr. Schulte, has met with so many distressing proofs of disquieted minds, as he says he has in his work, A Glance into the State of the Church in several Dioceses.  However, I, being myself a Bishop, know the state of many Churches, and the mind of many Bishops thereon, and I am compelled to express my opinion that Dr. Schulte met with either very one-sided informants or discontented grumblers in those dioceses he visited; so that the prospect looked much more gloomy than it really was.  That all regulations of this world, even when they rest on divine direction, in so far as they have to be carried out by men, are more or less subject to human imperfections, is too well known to need to be reasserted; nor can this now be denied.  But we must not for this reason deny the divine supervision in the Church, set ourselves against it or prejudge it, and that falsely too.  God has willed it and ordered it that in His Church Pope and Bishops should teach and govern, and that the laity should obey.  If a layman rebels against the Pope or against the Bishops, because, as he says, the good of the Church is of a higher order of good than the momentary pleasure of the Hierarchy, and that he has no fear if his conscience is not alarmed, then I am compelled to make the remark that we Bishops too, and the Pope have a conscience, and that this doctrinal definition respecting the infallible teaching authority of the Roman Pontiff has been long and maturely weighed before God in prayer, and after long and earnest study has been declared with a quiet conscience; and I also declare it to be my firm belief that those Bishops who, in supplement to the Council, declared their adhesion to the doctrine, and gave their reasons in excellent pastorals, acted simply according to their own consciences.  Lastly, as regards the good of the Church, which Dr. Schulte professes he thinks imperiled by the momentary perversion of the Hierarchy, I ask, who can imagine that things are come to such a pass that in this nineteenth century of the Church of God has come to be betrayed by the Pope and Bishops, and that our opponent, Dr. Schulte, should be the man chosen by God to take the Church under his protection?  Are, then, the Pope and Bishops so forsaken by God that He should let them sink into so dangerous an error in doctrine?  Has the Lord forgotten His promises?  Can he ever forget them, and give over His Church a prey to destruction?


[7] I ought to say that with respect to this Address of April 10, 1870, I have not had at hand any copy of it, except the translation of Dr. Schulte himself, which he assures us is perfectly correct.

[8] Quite in unison with the Archbishop of Cologne are the sentiments (as they have been credibly reported to us by the public press) of the Prince Primate of Hungary, John Simor, Archbishop of Gran, and his sentiments may be taken as expressing those of the rest of the Hungarian Bishops.  We are there told that the Prince Primate never for a moment contemplated denying that the Council was ecumenical; that ‘He never was opposed to the doctrine itself “that the Pope was Infallible by virtue of the promise given to the Founder of the Church,” but only to the opportuneness of so weighty a step, fraught with such important consequences, in the present deplorable state of affairs.  Besides, after that the Council, and, by the voice of the Council (as the certain and undisputed doctrine of the Church has ever held), the Holy Ghost Himself, has spoken, the Prince Primate was as little capable as any other faithful member of our Holy Church of entertaining a doubt about the validity and binding force of the Infallibility Dogma.—German-Hungarian Monthly Journal, December 1870.  

[9] I give these passages that the reader may judge how far they help Dr. Schulte’s cause: Rom. xiv. 12—‘Every one of us shall render an account to God for himself;’ 2 Cor. v. 10—‘For we must all be manifested before the judgment seat of Christ, that every one may receive the proper things of the body according as he hath done, whether it be good or evil.’