Front Page Titles (by Subject) BOOK FIFTH.: The Church. - The Origins of Contemporary France: The Modern Regime, vol. II
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BOOK FIFTH.: The Church. - Hippolyte Taine, The Origins of Contemporary France: The Modern Regime, vol. II 
The Origins of Contemporary France: The Modern Regime, vol. II, trans. John Durand (New York: Henry Holt and Company, 1894).
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I. Centralization and moral institutions.—Object of the State in absorbing Churches.—Their influence on civil society.—II. Napoleon’s opinions on religion and religious belief.—His motives in preferring established and positive religions.—Difficulty in defining the limit between spiritual and temporal authority.—Except in Catholic countries, both united in one hand.—Impossible to effect this union in France arbitrarily.—Napoleon’s way of attaining this end by another process.—His intention of overcoming spiritual authority through temporal interests.—III. Services which he obliges the Pope to render.—Resignation or dismissal of the old bishops.—End of the constitutional Church.—Right of appointing bishops and of sanctioning curés given to the First Consul.—IV. Other services expected of the Pope.—Coronation of Napoleon at Notre-Dame.—Napoleonic theory of the Empire and the Holy See.—The Pope a feudatory and subject of the Emperor.—The Pope installed as a functionary at Paris, and arch-chancellor on spiritual matters.—Effect of this for Italy.—V. Services which Napoleon desires or expects from the French clergy.—His Roman idea of civil power.—Development of this conception by the legists.—Every religious association must be authorized.—Legal statutes which fix the doctrine and discipline of the four authorized Churches.—Legal organization of the Catholic Church.—Its doctrine and discipline to be that of the old Gallican Church.—New situation of the French Church and new rôle of civil power.—It sets aside its ancient obligations.—It retains and augments its regalian rights.—The Church of France before 1789 and after 1802.—Increased preponderance and complete dominion of the civil power.—VI. Reasons for suppressing the regular clergy.—Authorized religious associations.—The authorization revocable.—VII. System to which the regular clergy is subject.—Restoration and application of Gallican doctrines.—Gallicanism and submission of the new ecclesiastical staff.—Measures taken to insure the obedience of the existing clergy and that of the clergy in the future.—Seminaries.—Small number of these allowed.—Conditions granted to them.—Proceedings against suspicious teachers and undisciplined pupils.—VIII. Changes in the ecclesiastical hierarchy.—Motives for subordinating the lesser clergy.—The displacement of assistant priests.—Increase of episcopal authority.—Hold of Napoleon over the bishops.—IX. Political use of the episcopacy.—The imperial catechism.—Pastoral letters.—X. The Council of 1811.—The Concordat of 1813.
After the centralizing and invading State has taken hold of local societies there is nothing left for it but to cast its net over moral societies, and this second haul is more important than the first one; for, if local societies are based on the proximity of physical bodies and habitations, the latter are formed out of the accord which exists between minds and souls; in possessing these, the hold is no longer on the outside but on the inside of man, his thought, his will; the mainspring within is laid hold of, and this directly; then only can he be fully mastered, and disposed of at discretion. To this end, the main purpose of the conquering State is the possession of the Churches; alongside as well as outside of itself, these are the great powers of the nation; not only does their domain differ from its own but, again, it is vaster and lies deeper. Beyond the temporal patrimony and the small fragment of human history which the eyes of the flesh perceive, they embrace and present to mental vision the whole world and its first cause, the total ordinance of things, the infinite perspective of a past eternity and that of an eternity to come. Underneath the corporeal and intermittent actions which civil power prescribes and regulates, they govern the imagination, the conscience and the affections, the whole inward being, that mute, persistent effort of which our visible acts are simply the incomplete expression and the rare outbursts. Indeed, even when they set limits to these, voluntarily, conscientiously, there is no limit; in vain do they proclaim, if Christian, that their kingdom is not of this world; nevertheless, it is, since they belong to it; masters of dogma and of morals, they teach and command in it. In their all-embracing conception of divine and human things, the State, like a chapter in a book, has its place and their teachings in this chapter are for it of capital importance. For, here do they write out its rights and duties, the rights and duties of its subjects, a more or less perfect plan of civil order. This plan, avowed or dissimulated, towards which they incline the preferences of the faithful, issues at length, spontaneously and invincibly from their doctrine, like a plant from its seed, to vegetate in temporal society, flower and fructify therein and send its roots deeper down for the purpose of shattering or of consolidating civil and political institutions. The influence of a Church on the family and on education, on the use of wealth or of authority, on the spirit of obedience or of revolt, on habits of initiation or of inertia, of enjoyment or of abstention, of charity or of egoism, on the entire current train of daily practice and of dominant impulsions, in every branch of private or public life, is immense, and constitutes a distinct and permanent social force of the highest order. Every political calculation is unsound if it is omitted or treated as something of no consequence, and the head of a State is bound to comprehend the nature of it if he would estimate its grandeur.
This is what Napoleon does. As usual with him, in order to see deeper into others, he begins by examining himself. “To say from whence I came, what I am, or where I am going, is above my comprehension. I am the watch that runs, but unconscious of itself.” These questions, which we are unable to answer, “drive us onward to religion; we rush forward to welcome her, for that is our natural tendency. But knowledge comes and we stop short. Instruction and history, you see, are the great enemies of religion, disfigured by the imperfections of humanity. . . . I once had faith. But when I came to know something, as soon as I began to reason, which happened early, at the age of thirteen, my faith staggered and became uncertain.”1 This double personal conviction is an after-thought, when preparing the Concordat. “It will be said that I am a papist.2 I am nothing. In Egypt I was a Mussulman; here I shall be a Catholic, for the good of the people. I do not believe in religions. The idea of a God!” (And then, pointing upward:) “Who made all that?” The imagination has decorated this great name with its legends. Let us content ourselves with those already existing; “the disquietude of man” is such that he cannot do without them; in default of those already made he would fashion others, haphazard, and still more strange. The positive religions keep man from going astray; it is these which render the supernatural definite and precise;3 “he had better take it in there than go after it at Mademoiselle Lenormand’s, in the stories got up by every adventurer, every charlatan, that comes along.” An established religion “is a kind of vaccination which, in satisfying our love of the marvellous, guarantees us against quacks and sorcerers;4 the priests are far better than the Cagliostros, Kants, and the rest of the German mystics.” In sum, illuminism and metaphysics,1 the speculative inventions of the brain and the contagious overexcitement of the nerves, all the illusions of credulity, are unhealthy in their essence, and, in general, anti-social. Nevertheless, since they belong to human nature, let us accept them like so many streams tumbling down a slope, except on condition that they remain in their own beds and have, many of them, no new beds and not one bed alone by itself. “I do not want a dominant religion, nor the establishment of new ones. The Catholic, Reformed, and Lutheran systems, established by the Concordat, are sufficient.”2 With these one need not grope one’s way in the unknown. Their direction and force are intelligible, and their irruptions can be guarded against. Moreover, the present inclinations and configuration of the human soil favor them; the child follows the road marked out by the parent, and the man follows the road marked out by the child. For instance,3 “last Sunday, here at Malmaison, while strolling alone in the solitude enjoying the repose of nature, my ear suddenly caught the sound of the church-bell at Ruel. It affected me, so strong is the force of early habits and education! I said to myself, What an impression this must make on simple, credulous souls!” Let us gratify these; let us give back these bells and the rest to the Catholics. After all, the general effect of Christianity is salutary. “As far as I am concerned,4 I do not see in it the mystery of the incarnation, but the mystery of social order, the association of religion with paradise, an idea of equality which keeps the rich from being massacred by the poor. . . . Society5 could not exist without an inequality of fortunes, and an inequality of fortunes without religion. A man dying of starvation alongside of one who is surfeited would not yield to this difference unless he had some authority which assured him that God so orders it that there must be both poor and rich in the world, but that in the future, and throughout eternity, the portion of each will be changed.” Alongside of the repressive police exercised by the State there is a preventive police exercised by the Church. The clergy, in its cassock, is an additional spiritual gendarmerie,1 much more efficient than the temporal gendarmerie in its stout boots, while the essential thing is to make both keep step together in concert.
Between the two domains, between that which belongs to civil authority and that which belongs to religious authority, is there any line of separation? “I look in vain2 where to place it; its existence is purely chimerical. I see only clouds, obscurities, difficulties. The civil government condemns a criminal to death; the priest gives him absolution and offers him paradise.” In relation to this act, both powers operate publicly in an inverse sense on the same individual, one with the guillotine and the other with a pardon. As these authorities may clash with each other, let us prevent conflicts and leave no undefined frontier; let us trace this out beforehand; let us indicate what our part is and not allow the Church to encroach on the State.—The Church really wants all; it is the accessory which she concedes to us, while she appropriates the principal to herself. “Mark the insolence of the priests3 who, in sharing authority with what they call the temporal power, reserve to themselves all action on the mind, the noblest part of man, and take it on themselves to reduce my part merely to physical action. They retain the soul and fling me the corpse!” In antiquity, things were much better done, and are still better done now in Mussulman countries. “In the Roman republic,1 the senate was the interpreter of heaven, and this was the mainspring of the force and strength of that government. In Turkey, and throughout the Orient, the Koran serves as both a civil and religious bible. Only in Christianity do we find the pontificate distinct from the civil government.” And even this has occurred only in one branch of Christianity. Everywhere, except in Catholic countries, “in England,2 in Russia, in the northern monarchies, in one part of Germany, the legal union of the two powers, religious control in the hands of the sovereign,” is an accomplished fact. “One cannot govern without it; otherwise, the repose, dignity, and independence of a nation are disturbed at every moment.” It is a pity that “the difficulty3 cannot be overcome as with Henry VIII. in England. The head of the French government would then, by legislative statute, be the supreme head of the French Church.”
Unfortunately, this is repugnant to France. Napoleon often tries to bring it about, but is satisfied that in this matter “he would never obtain national coöperation”; once “embarked,” fully engaged in the enterprise, “the nation would have abandoned him.” Unable to take this road, he takes another, which leads to the same result. As he himself afterwards states, this result “was, for a long time and always, the object of his wishes and meditations. . . . It is not his aim4 to change the faith of his people; he respects spiritual objects and wants to rule them without meddling with them; his aim is to make these square with his views, with his policy, but only through the influence of temporal concerns.” That spiritual authority should remain intact; that it should operate on its own speculative domain, that is to say, on dogmas, and on its practical domain, namely, on the sacraments and on worship; that it should be sovereign on this limited territory, Napoleon admits, for such is the fact. We have only to open our eyes to see it; right or wrong, spiritual authority on this distinct domain is recognized sovereign, obeyed, effective through the persistent, verified loyalty of believers. It cannot be done away with by supposing it non-existent; on the contrary, a competent statesman will maintain it in order to make use of it and apply it to civil purposes. Like an engineer who comes across a prolific spring near his manufactory, he will not try to dry it up, nor let the water be dispersed and lost; he has no idea of letting it remain inactive; on the contrary, he collects it, digs channels for it, directs and economizes the flow, and renders the water serviceable in his workshops. In the Catholic Church, the authority to be won and utilized is that of the clergy over believers and that of the sovereign pontiff over the clergy. “You will see,” exclaimed Bonaparte, while negotiating the Concordat, “how I will turn the priests to account, and, first of all, the Pope!”1
“Had no Pope existed,” he says again,2 “it would have been necessary to create him for the occasion, as the Roman consuls created a dictator under difficult circumstances.” He alone could effect the coup d’état which the First Consul needed, in order to constitute the head of the new government a patron of the Catholic Church, to bring independent or refractory priests under subjection, to sever the canonical cord which bound the French clergy to its exiled superiors and to the old order of things, “to break the last thread by which the Bourbons still communicated with the country.” “Fifty emigré3 bishops in the pay of England now lead the French clergy. Their influence must be got rid of, and to do this the authority of the Pope is essential; he can dismiss or make them resign.” Should any of them prove obstinate and unwilling to descend from their thrones, their refusal brings them into discredit, and they are “designated1 as rebels who prefer the things of this world, their terrestrial interests to the interests of heaven and the cause of God.” The great body of the clergy along with their flocks will abandon them; they will soon be forgotten, like old sprouts transplanted whose roots have been cut off; they will die abroad, one by one, while the successor, who is now in office, will find no difficulty in rallying the obedient around him, for, being Catholic, his parishioners are so many sheep, docile, taken with externals, impressionable, and ready to follow the pastoral crook, provided it bears the ancient trademark, consists of the same material, is of the same form, conferred from on high and sent from Rome. The bishops having once been consecrated by the Pope, nobody save a Gregory or some antiquarian canonist will dispute their jurisdiction.
The ecclesiastical ground is thus cleared through the interposition of the Pope. The three groups of authorities thereon which contend with each other for the possession of consciences2 —the refugee bishops in England, the apostolic vicars, and the constitutional clergy—disappear, and now the cleared ground can be built on. “The Catholic religion being declared3 that of the majority of the French people, its services must now be regulated. The First Consul nominates fifty bishops whom the Pope consecrates. These appoint the curés, and the state pays their salaries. The latter may be sworn, while the priests who do not submit are sent out of the country. Those who preach against the government are handed over to their superiors for punishment. The Pope confirms the sale of clerical possessions; he consecrates the Republic.” The faithful no longer regard it askance. They feel that they are not only tolerated, but protected by it, and they are grateful.1 The people recover their churches, their curés, the forms of worship to which they are almost instinctively accustomed, the ceremonial which, to their imagination, belongs to every important act of their lives, the solemn rites of marriage, baptism, burial, and other sacramental offices.—Henceforth mass is said every Sunday in each village, and the peasants enjoy their processions on Corpus-Christi day, when their crops are blessed. A great public want is satisfied. Discontent subsides, ill-will dies out, the government has fewer enemies; its enemies, again, lose their best weapon, and, at the same time, it acquires an admirable one, the right of appointing bishops and of sanctioning the curés. By virtue of the Concordat and by order of the Pope, not only, in 1801, do all former spiritual authorities cease to exist, but again, after 1801, all new titularies, with the Pope’s assent, chosen, accepted, managed, disciplined,2 and paid by the First Consul, are, in fact, his creatures, and become his functionaries.
Over and above this positive and real service obtained from the sovereign pontiff, he awaits others yet more important and undefined, and principally his future coronation in Notre Dame. Already, during the negotiations for the Concordat, La Fayette had observed to him with a smile:3 “You want the holy oil dropped on your head”; to which he made no contradictory answer. On the contrary, he replied, and probably too with a smile: “We shall see! We shall see!” Thus does he think ahead, and his ideas extend beyond that which a man belonging to the ancient régime could imagine or divine, even to the reconstruction of the empire of the west as this existed in the year 800. “I am not Louis XIV.’s successor,” he soon declares,1 “but of Charlemagne. . . . I am Charlemagne, because, like Charlemagne, I unite the French crown to that of the Lombards, and my empire borders on the Orient.” In this conception, which a remote history furnishes to his boundless ambition, the terrible antiquary finds the gigantic and suitable framework, the potent, specious terms, and all the verbal reasons he requires. Under Napoleon, the successor of Charlemagne, the Pope can be only a vassal: “Your Holiness is the sovereign of Rome, but I am its emperor,” the legitimate suzerain. “Provided with “fiefs and counties” by this suzerain, the Pope owes him political fealty and military aid; failing in this, the endowment, which is conditional, lapses and his confiscated estates return to the imperial domain to which they have never ceased to belong.2 Through this reasoning and this threat, through the rudest and most adroit moral and physical pressure, the most insidious and most persevering, through spoliation, begun, continued and completed by the abduction, captivity and sequestration of the Holy Father himself, he undertakes the subjection of the spiritual power: not only must the Pope be like any other individual in the empire,1 subject by his residence to territorial laws, and hence to the government and the gendarmerie, but again he must come within the administrative lines; he will no longer enjoy the right of refusing canonical investiture to bishops appointed by the emperor,2 “he will, on his coronation, swear not to take any measures against the four propositions of the Gallican Church,”3 he will become a grand functionary, a sort of arch-chancellor like Cambacérès and Lebrun, the arch-chancellor of the Catholic cult.—Undoubtedly, he resists and is obstinate, but he is not immortal, and if he does not yield, his successor will: it suffices to choose one that is manageable, and to this end things work in the next conclave. “With my influence and our forces in Italy,” Napoleon says afterwards,4 “I did not despair, sooner or later, by one means or another, of obtaining for myself the control of the Pope, and, thenceforward, what an influence, what a lever on the opinion of the rest of the world!”
“Had I returned victorious from Moscow, I intended to exalt the Pope beyond measure, to surround him with pomp and deference. I would have brought him to no longer regretting his temporality; I would have made him an idol. He would have lived alongside of me. Paris would have become the capital of Christendom, and I would have governed the religious world the same as the political world. . . . I would have had my religious as well as legislative sessions; my councils would have represented Christianity; the Popes would have been merely their presidents. I would have opened and closed these assemblies, sanctioned and published their decrees, as was done by Constantine and Charlemagne.” In 1809, the restoration of the great Carlovingian and Roman edifice had begun; its physical foundations were laid. By virtue of a decree,1 “the expenses of the Sacred College and of the Propaganda were declared imperial.” The Pope, like the new dukes and marshals, was endowed with a landed income on “property in different parts of the empire, two millions of rural revenue free of all taxation.” “Necessarily” the Pope must have two palaces, one at Paris and the other at Rome. He is already nearly fully installed in Paris, his person being all that was lacking. On arriving from Fontainebleau, two hours off, he would find everything belonging to his office; “the papers2 of the missions and the archives of Rome were already there.” “The Hôtel Dieu was entirely given up to the departments of the court of Rome. The district around Notre Dame and the Ile St. Louis was to be the headquarters of Christendom!” Rome, the second centre of Christendom, and the second residence of the Pope, is declared3 “an imperial and free city, the second city of the empire”; a prince of the empire, or other grand dignitary, is to reside there and “hold the court of the emperor.” “After their coronation in the cathedral of Notre Dame at Paris, the emperors” will go to Italy before the tenth year of their reign, and be “crowned in the church of St. Peter at Rome.” The heir to the imperial throne “will bear the title and receive the honors of the King of Rome.” Observe the substantial features of this chimerical construction. Napoleon, far more Italian than French, Italian by race, instinct, imagination, and souvenirs, considers in his plan the future of Italy, and, on casting up the final accounts of his reign, we find that the net profit is for Italy and the net loss is for France. “Napoleon wanted to create the Italian kingdom over again,1 combining Piedmont, Tuscany, etc., in one united independent nation, bounded by the Alps and the sea. . . . This was to be the immortal trophy erected in his honor. . . . He awaited impatiently the birth of a second son that he might take him to Rome, crown him King of Italy and proclaim the independence of the great peninsula under the regency of Prince Eugene.” Since Theodoric and the Lombard kings, it is the Pope who, in preserving his temporal sovereignty and spiritual omnipotence, has maintained the sub-divisions of Italy; let this obstacle be removed and Italy will once more become a nation. Napoleon prepares the way, and constitutes it beforehand by restoring the Pope to his primitive condition, by withdrawing from him his temporal sovereignty and limiting his spiritual omnipotence, by reducing him to the position of managing director of Catholic consciences and head minister of the principal cult authorized in the empire.
In carrying out this plan, he will use the French clergy in mastering the Pope, as the Pope has been made use of in mastering the French clergy. To this end, before completing the Concordat and decreeing the Organic Articles, he orders for himself a small library, consisting of books on ecclesiastical law. The Latin works of Bossuet are translated for him, and he has drawn up an exposition of the Gallican parliamentary doctrine. The first thing is to go down to the roots of the subject, which he does with extraordinary facility, and then, recasting and shaping all theories to suit himself, he arrives at an original, individual conception, at once coherent, precise, and practical; one which covers the ground and which he applies alike to all churches, Catholic, Lutheran, Calvinist, and even Jewish, to every religious community now existing and in time to come. His master-idea is that of the Roman legists and of ancient imperial jurisprudence; here, as elsewhere, the modern Cæsar goes back beyond his Christian predecessors to Constantine, and farther still, to Trajan and Augustus.1 So long as belief remains silent and solitary, confined within the limits of individual conscience, it is free, and the State has nothing to do with it. But let it transgress these limits, address the public, bring people together in crowds for a common purpose, manifest itself openly, it is subject to control; forms of worship, ceremonies, preaching, instruction and propagandism, the donations it calls forth, the assemblies it convenes, the organization and maintenance of the bodies it engenders, all the positive applications of the inward revery, are temporal works. In this sense, they form a province of the public domain, and come within the competency of the government, of the administration and of the courts. The State has a right to interdict, to tolerate, or to authorize them, and always to give them proper direction. Sole and universal proprietor of the outward realm in which single consciences may communicate with each other, it intervenes, step by step, either to trace or to bar the way; the road they follow passes over its ground and belongs to it; its watch, accordingly, over their proceedings is, and should be, daily; and it maintains this watch for its own advantage, for the advantage of civil and political interests, in such a way that concern for the other world may be serviceable and not prejudicial to matters which belong to this one. In short, and as a summary, the First Consul says, in a private conversation: “The people want a religion, and this religion should be in the hands of the government!”1
On this theme, his legists, old parliamentarians or conventionalists, his ministers and counsellors, Gallicans or Jacobins, his spokesmen in the legislative assembly or the tribunate, all imbued with Roman law or with the Contrat Social, are capital mouthpieces for proclaiming the omnipotence of the State in well-rounded periods. “The unity of public power and its universality,” says Portalis,2 “are a necessary consequence of its independence.” “Public power must be sufficient unto itself; it is nothing if not all.” Public power cannot tolerate rivals; it cannot allow other powers to establish themselves alongside of it without its consent, perhaps to sap and destroy it. “The authority of a State is very precarious when men on its territory exercise great influence over minds and consciences, unless these men belong to it, at least in some relation.” It commits a grave imprudence “if it continues strange or indifferent to the form and the constitution of the government which proposes to govern souls,” if it admits that the limits within which the faith and obedience of believers “can be made or altered without its help, if it has not, in its legally recognized and avowed superiors, guarantees of the fidelity of inferiors.” Such was the rule in France for the Catholic cult previous to 1789, and such is to be the rule, after 1801, for all authorized cults. If the State authorizes them, it is “to direct such important institutions with a view to the greatest public utility.” Solely because it is favorable to “their doctrine and their discipline” it means to maintain these intact and prevent “their ministers from corrupting the doctrine entrusted to their teaching, or from arbitrarily throwing off the yoke of discipline, to the great prejudice of individuals and the State.”1 Hence, in the legal statute by which a Church is incorporated and realizes what she is, it states in precise terms what it exacts or permits her to be; henceforward she shall be this or that and so remain; her dogmas and her canons, her hierarchy and her internal regime, her territorial subdivisions and circumscriptions, her regular or casual sources of income, her teachings and her liturgy are definite things and fixed limitations. No ecclesiastical assembly, Protestant, Catholic, or Israelite, shall formulate or publish any doctrinal or disciplinary decision without the government’s approbation.2 No ecclesiastical assembly, Protestant, Catholic, or Israelite, shall be held without the approval of the government. All sacerdotal authorities, bishops and curés, pastors and ministers of both Protestant confessions, consistorial inspectors and presidents of the Augsbourg Confession, notables of each Israelite circumscription, members of each Israelite consistory, members of the central Israelite consistory, rabbis and grand-rabbis, shall be appointed or accepted by the government and paid by it through an “executory” decision of its prefects. All the professors of Protestant or Catholic seminaries shall be appointed and paid by the government. Whatever the seminary, whether Protestant or Catholic, its establishment, its regulations, its internal management, the object and spirit of its studies, shall be submitted to the approval of the government. In each cult, a distinct, formulated, official doctrine shall govern the teaching, preaching, and public or special instruction of every kind; this, for the Israelite cult, is “the doctrine expressed by the decisions of the grand Sanhedrim”;1 for the two Protestant cults, the doctrine of the Confession of Augsbourg, taught in the two seminaries of the East, and the doctrine of the Reformed Church taught in the Genevan seminary;2 for the Catholic cult, the maxims of the Gallican Church, the declaration, in 1682, of the assembly of the clergy3 and the four famous propositions depriving the Pope of any authority over sovereigns in temporal matters, subordinating the Pope to œcumenical councils in ecclesiastical and spiritual concerns, and which, in the government of the French Church, limit the authority of the Pope to ancient usages or canons inherited by that Church and accepted by the State.
In this way, the ascendency of the State, in ecclesiastical matters, increases beyond all measure and remains without any counterpoise. Instead of one Church, it maintains four, while the principal one, the Catholic, comprising thirty-three millions of followers, and more dependent than under the old monarchy, loses the privileges which once limited or compensated it for its subjection.—Formerly the prince was its temporal head, but on conditions which were onerous to him—on condition that he should be its exterior bishop and its secular arm, that it should have the monopoly of education and the censorship of books, that he should use his strong arm against heretics, schismatics and free-thinkers. Of all these obligations which kings accepted, the new sovereign frees himself, and yet, with the Holy See, he holds on to the same prerogatives and, with the Church, the same rights as his predecessors. He is just as minutely dictatorial as formerly with regard to the details of worship. At one time he fixes the fees and perquisites of the priest for administering the sacraments: “This fixation is a purely civil and temporal operation, since it resolves itself into a levy of so many pence on the citizen. Bishops and priests should not be allowed to exercise this faculty.1 The government alone must remain the arbiter between the priest who receives and the person who pays.” Again, he intervenes in the publication of plenary indulgence: “It is essential2 that indulgences should not be awarded for causes which might be contrary to public tranquillity or to the good of the country; the political magistrate is equally interested in knowing what the authority is that grants indulgences; if its title to act is legal, to what persons indulgences are granted, what persons are intrusted with their distribution, and what persons are to fix the term and duration of extraordinary prayers.”
Thus bound and held by the State, the Church is simply one of its appendices, for its own free roots by which, in this close embrace, it still vegetates and keeps erect have all been cut off short; torn from the soil and grafted on the State, they derive their sap and their roots from the civil powers. Before 1789, the clergy formed a distinct order in temporal society and, above all others, a body exempt from imposts and proprietary, a tax-payer apart which, represented in periodical assemblies, negotiated every five years with the prince himself, granted him subsidies and, in exchange for this “gratuitous gift,” secured for itself concessions or confirmations of immunities, prerogatives and favors; at this time, it is merely a collection of ordinary individuals and subjects, even less than that—an administrative staff analogous to that of the university, of the magistrature, of the treasury, and of the woods and forests, yet more closely watched and bridled, with more minute precautions and stricter interdictions. Before 1789, the curés and other second-class titularies were, for the most part, selected and installed without the prince’s intervention, now by the bishop of the diocese or a neighboring abbé, and again by independent collators, by the titulary himself,1 by a lay patron or a chapter, by a commune, by an indultaire, while the salary of each titulary, large or small, was his private property, the annual product of a piece of land or of some indebtedness attached to his office and which he administered. Nowadays, every titulary, from the cardinal-archbishop down to a canon, cantonal curé, and director or teacher in a seminary, is appointed or accepted by the civil power to which he swears fidelity, while his salary, set down in the budget, is simply that of a public employé, so many francs and centimes for which he comes monthly to the office of the treasury paymaster, along with others of his colleagues who are employed by the State in non-Catholic cults, together with others, his quasi-colleagues, whom the State employs in the university, in the magistrature, in the gendarmeries, and in the police.2 Such, in all branches of social life, is the universal and final effect of the Revolution. In the Church, as elsewhere, it has extended the interference and preponderance of the State, not inadvertently but intentionally, not accidentally but on principle.3 “The Constituent” (Assembly), says Siméon, “had rightly recognized that, religion being one of the oldest and most powerful means of government, it was necessary to bring it more than it had been under the control of the government.” Hence, the civil constitution of the clergy; “its only mistake was not to reconcile itself with the Pope.” At present, thanks to the agreement between Pope and government, the new régime completes the work of the ancient régime and, in the Church as elsewhere, the domination of the centralizing State is complete.
These are the grand lines of the new ecclesiastical establishment, and the general connections by which the Catholic Church, like an apartment in an edifice, finds itself comprehended in and incorporated with the State. It need not disconnect itself under the pretext of making itself more complete; there it is, built and finished; it cannot add to or go beyond this; no collateral and supplementary constructions are requisite which, through their independence, would derange the architectural whole, no monastic congregations, no body of regular clergy; the secular clergy suffices. “Never1 has it been contested that the public power had the right to dissolve arbitrary institutions which do not insist on the essence of religion and which are judged suspicious or troublesome to the State.” As a principle, all religious communities should be judged in this way; for they are spontaneous bodies; they form their own organization, and without the aid of the State, through the free will of their members; they live apart, according to the proper and peculiar statute which they adopt, outside of lay society, alongside of the established Church, under distinct chiefs chosen by themselves, sometimes under foreign ones, all more or less independent, all, through interest and by instinct, gathered around the Holy See, which, against diocesan authority and episcopal jurisdiction, serves them as protector. Formerly, the monks2 formed the Pope’s militia; they recognized no other sovereign, and thus were they more to be feared by governments than the secular clergy. The latter, without them, “would never have caused embarrassment;” henceforth there will be no other body.1 “I want bishops, curés, vicars, and that’s all! Religious communities have been allowed to re-establish themselves against my instructions;—I am informed that, at Beauvais, the Jesuits have formed establishments under the name of the Fathers of Faith. It should not be allowed”—and he prohibits it by decree.2 He dissolves “all associations formed under the pretext of religion and unauthorized.” He decides that, in future, “no aggregation or association of men or of women shall be formed under pretext of religion unless formally authorized;” he enjoins the prosecuting attorneys of his courts “to prosecute even by extra proceedings all persons of both sexes who directly or indirectly violate this decree.” He reserves to himself, however, the faculty of authorizing communities by which he can profit, and, in fact, he authorizes several of these as instrumentalities which society needs, or which are useful to the State, especially nursing or teaching sisters of charity,3 the brethren of Christian schools,4 and, first in rank, the Lazarists and the Fathers of foreign missions.5 “These monks,” he says,6 “will be of great service in Asia, in Africa, and in America. I will send them to procure information on the state of the country. Their robe protects them, while it is a cover to political and commercial designs. . . . I will allow them a capital to start with of 15,000 francs rental. . . . They cost little, are respected by savages, and, having no official character, cannot compromise the government.” Moreover, “religious zeal leads them to undertake work and to face perils which are beyond the strength of a civil agent.”—Of course, as they are “secret diplomatic agents,” the government must keep them in hand and direct them. Consequently, “their superior must no longer reside in Rome, but at Paris.” The same precaution is taken with reference to other congregations, which, in teaching or in charity, become regular auxiliaries of the lay power. “The general-superior of the Sisters of Charity will live in Paris1 ; the entire body will then be in the hands of the government.” As to the brethren of the Christian schools, Napoleon absorbs these in his university.2 “They must be licensed by the grand-master,3 who will certify to their internal regulations, accept their oaths, prescribe a special costume, and superintend their schools.” Observe the exigencies of the government at this point, its measures for controlling the religious orders authorized by it. Abbé Hanon,4 the common superior of the Sisters of Saint-Vincent de Paul, having refused to place Madame Lætitia at the head of the council of the order, is carried off at night and shut up at Fenestrelles, while the Sisters, who, following the instructions of their founder, refuse to recognize a superior appointed by the civil power, are treated in the same manner as formerly the nuns of Port-Royal.1 “It is time to put an end to this scandal of the Sisters of Charity in rebellion against their superiors. It is my intention to suppress all the houses which, in twenty-four hours after the notice you give them, do not return to subordination. You will replace the houses suppressed, not by Sisters of the same order, but by those of another order of charity. The Sisters at Paris will lose their influence, which will be a good thing.” Whatever the communities may be, the authorization by which they organize is merely a favor, and every favor granted may be withdrawn. “I will have no more missions of any kind.2 I established missionaries in Paris and gave them a house—I take all back. I am content with religion at home; I do not care to spread it abroad. . . . I make you responsible if (in a month from this) on the first of October there are any missions or congregations still existing in France.”—Thus does the regular clergy live, under a revocable title, by toleration, despotically, under a suspended thread which, perhaps to-morrow, may be cut short at pleasure.
The secular clergy remains better guaranteed, it seems, and by a less precarious statute, for this statute is an international and diplomatic act, a solemn and bilateral treaty which binds the French government, not only to itself but to another government, to an independent sovereign and the recognized head of the whole Catholic Church.—Consequently, it is of prime importance to rebuild and raise higher the barriers which, in ancient France, separated the secular clergy from the Pope, the customs and regulations which constituted the Gallican Church a province apart in the Church universal, the ecclesiastic franchises and servitudes which restricted the Pope’s jurisdiction in order that the jurisdiction of the king might be extended. All these servitudes to the advantage of the lay sovereign, and all these franchises to the prejudice of the ecclesiastic sovereign, are maintained and increased by the new statute. By virtue of the Concordat and by consent of the Pope, the First Consul acquires “the same rights and privileges in relation to the Holy See as the old government,”1 that is to say the same exclusive right to nominate future French cardinals and to have as many as before in the sacred college, the same right to exclude in the sacred conclave, the same faculty of being the unique dispenser in France of high ecclesiastical places and the prerogative of appointing all the bishops and archbishops on French territory. And better still, by virtue of the Organic Articles and in spite of the Pope’s remonstrances, he interposes, as with the former kings, his authority, his Council of State and his tribunals between the Holy See and the faithful. “No bull, brief, rescript, decree . . . of the court of Rome, even when bearing only on individuals, shall be received, published, printed or otherwise executed without permission of the government. No person, bearing the title of apostolic nuncio, legate, vicar or commissioner, . . . shall, without the same authorization, exercise on the French soil or elsewhere any function in relation to the interests of the Gallican Church. . . . All cases of complaint by ecclesiastical superiors and other persons shall be brought before the Council of State.”2 “Every minister of a cult3 who shall have carried on a correspondence with a foreign court on religious matters or questions without having previously informed the Minister of Worship and obtained his sanction shall, for this act alone, be subject to a penalty of from one hundred to five hundred francs and imprisonment during a term of from one month to two years.” Every communication from high to low and from low to high between the French Church and its Roman head, cut off at will, intervention by a veto or by approval of all acts of pontifical authority, to be the legal and recognized head of the national clergy,1 to become for this clergy an assistant, collateral, and lay Pope—such was the pretension of the old government, and such, in effect, is the sense, the juridic bearing, of the Gallican maxims.2 Napoleon proclaims them anew, while the edict of 1682, by which Louis XIV. applied them with precision, rigor and minuteness, “is declared the general law of the empire.”3
There are no opponents to this doctrine, or this use of it, in France. Napoleon counts on not encountering any, and especially among his prelates. Gallican before 1789, the whole clergy were more or less so through education and tradition, through interest and through amour-propre; now, the survivors of this clergy are those who provide the new ecclesiastical staff, and, of the two distinct groups from which it is recruited, neither is predisposed by its antecedents to become ultramontane. Some among these, who have emigrated, partisans of the ancient régime, find no difficulty in thus returning to old habits and doctrines, the authoritative protectorate of the State over the Church, the interference of the Emperor substituted for that of the King, and Napoleon, in this as in other respects, the legitimate, or legitimated, successor of the Bourbons. The others, who have sworn to the civil constitution of the clergy, the schismatics, the impenitent and, in spite of the Pope, reintegrated by the First Consul in the Church,1 are ill-disposed towards the Pope, their principal adversary, and well-disposed towards the First Consul, their unique patron. Hence, “the heads2 of the Catholic clergy, that is to say, the bishops and grand-vicars, . . . are attached to the government;” they are “enlightened” people, and can be made to listen to reason. “But we have three or four thousand curés or vicars, the progeny of ignorance and dangerous through their fanaticism and their passions.” If these and their superiors show any undisciplined tendencies, the curb must be tightly drawn. Fournier, a priest, having reflected on the government from his pulpit in Saint-Roch, is arrested by the police, put in Bicêtre as mad, and the First Consul replies to the Paris clergy who claim his release “in a well-drawn-up petition,” “I wanted to prove to you, when I put my cap on the wrong side out, that priests must obey the civil power.”3 Now and then, a rude stroke of this sort sets an example and keeps the intractable in the right path who would otherwise be tempted to leave it. At Bayonne, concerning a clerical epistle in which an ill-sounding phrase occurs, “the grand-vicar who drew it up is sent to Pignerol for ten years, and I think that the bishop is exiled.”4 At Séez, when constitutional priests are in disfavor, the bishop is compelled to resign on the instant, while Abbé Langlois, his principal counsellor, taken by the gendarmes, led to Paris from brigade to brigade, is shut up in La Force, in secret confinement, with straw for a bed, during fourteen days, then imprisoned in Vincennes for nine months, so that, finally, seized with paralysis, he is transferred to an insane retreat, where he remains a prisoner up to the end of the reign.
Let us provide for the future as well as for the present, and, back of the clergy who now exist, set up the future clergy. The seminaries will answer this purpose. “Public ones must be organized1 so that there may be no clandestine seminaries, such as formerly existed in the departments of Calvados, Morbihan and many others; . . . the formation of young priests must not be left to ignorance and fanaticism.” “Catholic schools need the surveillance of the government.” There is to be one of these in each metropolitan district, and “this special school must be in the hands of the authorities.” “The directors and teachers shall be appointed by the First Consul”; men will be placed there who are “cultivated, devoted to the government and friendly to toleration; they will not confine themselves to teaching theology, but will add to this a sort of philosophy and correct worldliness.”—A future curé, a priest who controls laymen and belongs to his century, must not be a monk belonging to the other world, but a man of this world, able to adapt himself to it, do his duty in it with propriety and discretion, accept the legal order of things in which he is comprised, not damn his Protestant neighbors, Jews or freethinkers too openly, be a useful member of temporal society and a loyal subject of the civil power; let him be a Catholic and pious, but within just limits; he shall not be an ultramontanist or a bigot.—Precautions are taken to this effect. No seminarist may become subdeacon without the consent of the government, and the list of ordinations each year, sent to him at Paris by the bishop, is returned, cut down to the strictly necessary.2 From the very beginning, and in express terms,3 Napoleon has reserved all curacies and vicarages for “ecclesiastics pensioned by virtue of the laws of the Constituent Assembly.” Not only, through this confusion between pension and salary, does he lighten a pecuniary burden, but he greatly prefers old priests to young ones; many of them have been constitutionnels, and all are imbued with Gallicanism; it is he who has brought them back from exile or saved them from oppression, and they are grateful for it; having suffered long and patiently, they are weary, they must have grown wiser, and they will be manageable. Moreover, he has precise information about each one; their past conduct is a guarantee of their future conduct; he never chooses one of them with his eyes shut. On the contrary, the candidates for ordination are unknown; the government which accepts them knows nothing about them except that, at the age when the fever of growth or of the imagination takes a fixed form, they have been subject for five years to a theological education and to a cloistral life. The chances are that, with them, the feverishness of youth will end in the heat of conviction and in the prejudices of inexperience; in this event, the government which exempts them from the conscription to admit them in the Church exchanges a good military recruit for a bad ecclesiastical recruit; in place of a servant it creates an opponent. Hence, during the fifteen years of his reign, Napoleon authorizes only six thousand new ordinations,1 in all four hundred per annum, one hundred for each diocese or six or seven per annum. Meanwhile, by his university decrees, he lets lay daylight into clerical enclosures2 and shuts the door of all ecclesiastical dignities to suspicious priests.3 For great security, in every diocese in which “the principles of the bishop” do not give him full satisfaction, he interdicts all ordination, nomination, promotion, or favor whatever. “I have stricken off1 all demands relating to the bishoprics of Saint-Brieuc, Bordeaux, Ghent, Tournay, Troyes and the Maritime Alps. . . . My intention is that you do not, for these dioceses, propose to me any exemption of service for conscripts, no nominations for scholarships, for curacies, or for canonries. You will send in a report on the dioceses which it would be well to visit with this interdiction.” Towards the end, the Gallicism of Bossuet no longer suffices for him; he allowed it to be taught at Saint-Sulpice, and M. Emery, director of this institution, was the priest in France whom he esteemed the most and most willingly consulted; but a pupil’s imprudent letter had been just intercepted, and, accordingly, the spirit of that association is a bad one. An order of expulsion of the director is issued and the installation in his place of a new one “day after to-morrow,” as well as new administrators of whom none shall be Sulpician.2 “Take measures to have this congregation dissolved. I will have no Sulpicians in the seminary of Paris.3 Let me know the seminaries that are served by Sulpicians in order that they too may be sent away from these seminaries.”4 —And let the seminarists who have been badly taught by their masters take heed not to practise in their own behalf the false doctrines which the State proscribes; especially, let them never undertake, as they do in Belgium, to disobey the civil power in deference to the Pope and their bishop. At Tournay,1 all those over eighteen years of age are sent to Magdebourg; at Ghent, the very young or those not fit for military service are put in Saint-Pelagie; the rest, two hundred and thirty-six in number, including forty deacons or sub-deacons, incorporated in an artillery brigade, set out for Wesel, a country of marshes and fevers, where fifty of them soon die of epidemics and contagion.—There is ever the same terminal procedure; to Abbé d’Astros, suspected of having received and kept a letter of the Pope, Napoleon, with threats, gave him this ecclesiastical watchword: “I understand a profession of the liberties of the Gallican Church, but for all that I wear the sword, so look out for yourself!”—In effect, the military sanction, the arbitrary punishment, physical constraint, the sword ready to strike, is discovered behind all his institutions; involuntarily, the eyes detect beforehand the flash of the blade, and the flesh is sensible of the rigid keen incision.
Thus is a conquered country treated. He is, in relation to the Church, as in a conquered country.2 Like Westphalia or Holland, she is a naturally independent country which he has annexed by treaty, which he has been able to “englobe” but not absorb in his empire, and which remains invincibly distinct. The temporal sovereign, in a spiritual society, especially such a sovereign as he is,—nominally Catholic, scarcely Christian, at best a deist and from time to time as it suits,—will never be other than an external suzerain and a foreign prince. To become and remain master in such an annexation requires always a sight of the sword. Nevertheless, it would not be wise to strike incessantly; the blade, used too often, would wear out; it is better to utilize the constitution of the annex, rule over it indirectly, not by an administrative bureau (régie), but by a protectorate, in which all indigenous authorities can be employed and be made responsible for the necessary rigors. Now, by virtue of the indigenous constitution, the governors of the Catholic annex—all designated beforehand by their suitable and indelible character, all tonsured, robed in black, celibates and speaking Latin—form two orders, unequal in dignity and in number; one inferior, comprising myriads of curés and vicars, and the other superior, comprising some dozens of prelates.
Let us turn this ready-made hierarchy to account; and, the better to use it, let us tighten the strings. In agreement with the upper clergy and the Pope, we will increase the subjection of the lower clergy; we will govern the inferiors through the superiors; whoever has the head has the body; it is much easier to handle sixty bishops and archbishops than forty thousand vicars and curés; in this particular we need not undertake to restore primitive discipline; we must not be either antiquaries or Gallicans. Let us be careful not to give back to the second-class clergy the independence and stability they enjoyed before 1789, the canonical guarantees which protected them against episcopal despotism, the institution of competition, the rights conferred by theological grades, the bestowal of the best places on the wisest, the appeal to the diocesan court in case of disgrace, the opposing plea before the officialité, the permanent tie by which the titulary curé, once planted in his parish, took root there for life, and believed himself bound to his local community like Jesus Christ to the universal Church, indissolubly, through a sort of mystic marriage. “The number of curés,” says Napoleon,1 “must be reduced as much as possible, and the number of assistants (desservans) multiplied who can be changed at will,” not only transferable to another parish, but revocable from day to day, without formalities or delay, without appeal or pleading in any court whatsoever. Henceforth, the sole irremovable curés are the four thousand; the rest, under the name of succursalists, numbering thirty thousand,1 are ecclesiastical clerks, surrendered to the discretionary power of the bishop. The bishop alone appoints, places and displaces all belonging to his diocese; at his pleasure, and with a nod, he orders the best qualified for the best post to pass over to the worst, from the large borough or small birthplace, where he has lived at ease near his family, to some wretched parish in this or that village buried in the woods or lost on a mountain, without fees or parish domicile; and still better, he cuts down his wages, he withdraws the State salary of five hundred francs, he turns him out of the lodgings allowed him by the commune, a pedestrian on the highway, with no viaticum, even temporary, excluded from ecclesiastical ministries, without respect, unclassed, a vagabond in the great lay world whose ways are unknown to him and whose careers are closed to him. Henceforth, and forever, bread is taken out of his mouth; if he has it to-day, it is lacking on the morrow. Now, every three months, the list of succursalists at five hundred francs drawn up by the bishop, must be countersigned by the prefect; in his upper cabinet, near the mantelpiece on which the visiting-cards of every considerable personage in the department are displayed, facing the emperor’s bust, the two delegates of the emperor, his two responsible and judicial managers, the two superintended overseers of the conscription, confer together on the ecclesiastical staff of the department; in this as in other matters, they are and feel themselves kept in check from on high, curbed and forced, willingly or not, to come to some agreement. Compulsory collaborators by institution, each an auxiliary of the other in the maintenance of public order, they read over article by article the list of appointments of their common subordinates; should any name have bad notes, should any succursalist be marked as noisy, undesirable, or suspect, should there be any unfavorable report by the mayor, gendarmerie or upper police, the prefect, about to sign, lays down his pen, states his instructions and demands of the bishop against the delinquent some repressive measure, either destitution, suspension or displacement, removal to an inferior parish, or, at least, a comminatory reprimand, while the bishop, whom the prefect may denounce to the minister, does not refuse to the prefect this act of complacency.
Some months after the publication of the Concordat,1 Mademoiselle Chameron, an opera-dancer, dies, and her friends bear her remains to the church of St. Roch for interment. They are refused admittance, and the curé, very rigid, “in a fit of ill-humor,” orders the doors of the church to be shut; a crowd gathers around, shouts and launches threats at the curé; an actor makes a speech to appease the tumult, and finally the coffin is borne off to the church of Les Filles St. Thomas, where the assistant priest, “familiar with the moral of the gospel,” performs the funeral service. Incidents of this kind disturb the tranquillity of the streets and denote a relaxation of administrative discipline. Consequently the government, doctor in theology and canon law, intervenes and calls the ecclesiastical superior to account. The First Consul, in an article in the Moniteur, haughtily gives the clergy their countersign and explains the course that will be pursued against them by his prelates. “The Archbishop of Paris orders the curé of St. Roch into a retreat of three months, in order that he may bear in mind the injunction of Jesus Christ to pray for one’s enemies, and, made sensible of his duties by meditation, may become aware that these superstitious customs, which degrade religion by their absurdities, have been done away with by the Concordat and the law of Germinal 18.” Henceforth all priests and curés must be prudent, circumspect, obedient, and reserved,1 for their spiritual superiors are so, and could not be otherwise. Each prelate, posted in his diocese, is maintained there in isolation; a watch is kept on his correspondence; he may communicate with the Pope only through the Minister of Worship; he has no right to act in concert with his colleagues; all the general assemblies of the clergy, all metropolitan councils, all annual synods, are suppressed. The Church of France has ceased to exist as one corps, while its members, carefully detached from each other and from their Roman head, are no longer united, but juxtaposed. Confined to a circumscription, like the prefect, the bishop himself is simply an ecclesiastical prefect, a little less uncertain of his tenure of office; undoubtedly, his removal will not be effected by order, but he can be forced to send in his resignation. Thus, in his case, as well as for the prefect, his first care will be not to excite displeasure, and the next one, to please. To stand well at court, with the minister and with the sovereign, is a positive command, not only on personal grounds, but for the sake of Catholic interests. To obtain scholarships for the pupils of his seminary,2 to appoint the teachers and the director that suits him, to insure the acceptance of his canons, cantonal curés, and candidates for the priesthood, to exempt his sub-deacons from the conscription, to establish and to defray the expenses of the chapels of his diocese, to provide parishes with the indispensable priest, with regular services and the sacraments, requires favors, which favors cannot be enjoyed without an affectation of obedience and zeal and, more important still, devotedness.
Besides all this, he is himself a man. If Napoleon has selected him, it is on account of his intelligence, knowing what he is about, open to human motives, not too rigid and of too easy conscience; in the eyes of the master, the first of all titles has ever been a supposable docile character, associated with attachment to his system and person.1 Moreover, with his candidates, he has always taken into consideration the hold they give him through their weaknesses, vanity and necessities, their ostentatious ways and expenditure, their love of money, titles and precedence, their ambition, desire for promotion, enjoyment of credit, and right of obtaining places for protégés and relations. He avails himself of all these advantages and finds that they answer his purpose. With the exception of three or four saints, like Monseigneur d’Aviau2 or Monseigneur Dessolles, whom he has inadvertently put into the episcopate, the bishops are content to be barons, and the archbishops counts. They are glad to rank higher and higher in the Legion of Honor; they loudly assert, in praise of the new order of things, the honors and dignities it confers on these or those prelates who have become members of the legislative corps or been made senators.3 Many of them receive secret pay for secret services, pecuniary incentives in the shape of this or that amount in ready money. In sum, Napoleon has judged accurately; with hesitation and remorse, nearly the whole of his episcopal staff, Italian and French, sixty-six prelates out of eighty, are open to “temporal influences.” They yield to his seductions and threats; they accept or submit, even in spiritual matters, to his positive ascendency.1
Moreover, among these dignitaries, nearly all of whom are blameless, or, at least, who behave well and are generally honorable, Napoleon finds a few whose servility is perfect, unscrupulous individuals ready for anything that an absolute prince could desire, like Bishops Bernier and De Pancemont, one accepting a reward of 30,000 francs and the other the sum of 50,000 francs2 for the vile part they have played in the negotiations for the Concordat; a miserly, brutal cynic like Maury, archbishop of Paris, or an intriguing, mercenary sceptic like De Pradt, archbishop of Malines; or an old imbecile, falling on his knees before the civil power, like Rousseau, bishop of Orleans, who indites a pastoral letter declaring that the Pope is as free in his Savona prison as on his throne at Rome. After 1806,3 Napoleon, that he may control men of greater suppleness, prefers to take his prelates from old noble families—the frequenters of Versailles, who regard the episcopate as a gift bestowed by the prince and not by the Pope, a lay favor reserved for younger sons, a present made by the sovereign to those around his person, on the understood condition that the partisan courtier who is promoted shall remain a courtier of the master. Henceforth nearly all his episcopal recruits are derived from “members of the old race.” “Only these,” says Napoleon, “know how to serve well.”1
From the first year the effect arrived at is better than could be expected. “Look at the clergy,”2 said the First Consul to Rœderer; “every day shows that in spite of themselves their devotion to the government is increasing, and much beyond their anticipation. Have you seen the pastoral declaration of Boisgelin, archbishop of Tours? . . . He says that the actual government is the legitimate government, that God disposes of thrones and kings as he pleases and that he adopts the chiefs whom the people prefer. You yourself could not have said that better.” But, notwithstanding that this is said in the pastoral letter, it is again said in the catechism. No ecclesiastical publication is more important; all Catholic children are to learn this by heart, for the phrases they recite will be firmly fixed in their memories. Bossuet’s catechism is good enough, but it may be improved,—there is nothing that time, reflection, emulation, and administrative zeal cannot render perfect! Bossuet teaches children “to respect all superiors, pastors, kings, magistrates, and the rest.” “But these generalities,” says Portalis,3 “no longer suffice. They do not give the proper tendency to the subject’s submission. The object is to centre the popular conscience on the person of Your Majesty.” Accordingly, let us be precise, make appointments and secure support. The imperial catechism, a great deal more explicit than the royal catechism, adds significant developments to the old one, along with extra motives: “We specially owe to our Emperor, Napoleon the First, love, respect, obedience, fidelity, military service, and tributes ordained for the preservation of the empire and his throne. . . . For God has raised him up for us in times of peril that he might restore public worship and the holy religion of our fathers and be its protector.” Every boy and girl in each parish recite this to the vicar or curé after vespers in their tiny voices as a commandment of God and of the Church, as a supplementary article of the creed. Meanwhile the officiating priest in the pulpit gravely comments on this article, already clear enough, at every morning or evening service;1 by order, he preaches in behalf of the conscription and declares that it is a sin to try to escape from it, to be refractory; by order, again, he reads the army bulletins giving accounts of the latest victories; always by order, he reads the last pastoral letter of his bishop, a document authorized, inspired and corrected by the police. Not only are the bishops obliged to submit their pastoral letters and public instructions to the censorship; not only, by way of precaution, are they forbidden to print anything except on the prefecture presses, but again, for still greater security, the bureau of public worship is constantly advising them what they must say. First of all, they must laud the Emperor; and how this must be done, in what terms, and with what epithets, so that without indiscretion or mistake they may not meddle with politics, may not seem like a party managed from above, may not pass for mouthpieces, is not indicated, and it is a difficult matter. “You must praise the Emperor more in your pastoral letters,” said Réal, prefect of police, to a new bishop. “Tell me in what measure.” “I do not know,” was the reply. Since the measure cannot be prescribed, it must be ample enough. There is no difficulty as regards other articles.
On every occasion the Paris bureaux take care to furnish each bishop with a ready-made draft of his forthcoming pastoral letter—the canvas on which the customary flowers of ecclesiastical amplification are to be embroidered. It differs according to time and place. In La Vendée and in the west, the prelates are to stigmatize “the odious machinations of perfidious Albion,” and explain to the faithful the persecutions to which the English subject the Irish Catholics. When Russia is the enemy, the pastoral letter must dwell on her being schismatic; also on the Russian misunderstanding of the supremacy of the Pope. Inasmuch as bishops are functionaries of the empire, their utterances and their acts belong to the Emperor. Consequently he makes use of them against all enemies, against each rival, rebel or adversary, against the Bourbons, against the English and the Russians, and, finally, against the Pope.
Similar to the Russian expedition, this is the great and last throw of the dice, the decisive and most important of his ecclesiastical undertakings, as the other is in political and military affairs. Just as, under his leadership, he forces by constraint and, under his lead, a coalition of the political and military powers of his Europe against the Czar,—Austria, Prussia, the Confederation of the Rhine, Holland, Switzerland, the kingdom of Italy, Naples, and even Spain,—so does he by constraint and under his lead coalesce all the spiritual authorities of his empire against the Pope. He summons a council, consisting of eighty-four bishops that are available in Italy and in France. He takes it upon himself to drill them, and he makes them march. To state what influences he uses would require a volume1 —theological and canonical arguments, appeals to Gallican souvenirs and Jansenist rancors, eloquence and sophisms, preparatory manœuvres, secret intrigues, public acting, private solicitations, steady intimidation, successful pressures, thirteen cardinals exiled and deprived of their insignia, two other cardinals confined in Vincennes, nineteen Italian bishops conveyed to France under escort, without bread or clothes; fifty priests of Parma, fifty of Plaisance, besides one hundred other Italian priests, sent away or confined in Corsica; all congregations of men in France—Saint-Lazare, Mission, Christian Doctrine, Saint-Sulpice—dissolved and suppressed; three bishops of the council seized in bed at daylight, put into a cell and kept in close confinement, forced to resign and to promise in writing not to carry on correspondence with their dioceses; arrest of their adherents in their dioceses; the Ghent seminarists turned into soldiers, and, with knapsack on their backs, leaving for the army; professors at Ghent, the canons of Tournay, and other Belgian priests shut up in the citadels of Bouillon, Ham and Pierre-Chatel2 ; near the end, the council suddenly dissolved because scruples arise, because it does not yield at once to the pressure brought to bear on it, because its mass constitutes its firmness, because men standing close together, side by side, stand all the longer. “Our wine in the cask is not good,” said Cardinal Maury; “you will find that it will be better in bottles.” Accordingly, to make it ready for bottling, it must be filtered and clarified, so as to get rid of the bad elements which disturb it and cause fermentation. Many opponents are in prison, many have retired from their dioceses, while the rest are brought to Paris and cunningly worked upon, each member in turn, apart and confined, tête-à-tête with the Minister of Worship, until all, one by one, are brought to sign the formula of adhesion. On the strength of this, the council, purged and prepared, is summoned afresh to give its vote sitting or standing, in one unique session; through a remnant of virtue it inserts a suspensive clause in the decree, apparently a reservation,1 but the decree is passed as ordered. Like the foreign regiment in an army corps which, enlisted, forced into line, and goaded on with a sharp sword, serves, in spite of itself, against its legitimate prince, unwilling to march forward to the attack, meaning at the last moment to fire in the air, so does it finally march and fire its volley notwithstanding.
Napoleon, on the other hand, treats the Pope in the same fashion, and with like skill and brutality. As with the Russian campaign, he has prepared himself for it long beforehand. At the outset there is an alliance, and he concedes great advantages to the Pope as to the Czar, which will remain to them after his fall; but these concessions are made only with a mental reservation, with the instinctive feeling and predetermination to profit by the alliance, even to making an independent sovereign whom he recognizes as his equal, his subordinate and a tool; hence, quarrels and war. This time also, in the expedition against the Pope, his strategy is admirable,—the entire ecclesiastical territory studied beforehand, the objective point selected,2 all disposable forces employed and directed by fixed marches to where the victory is to be decisive, the conquest extended and the seat of the final dominion established; the successive and simultaneous use of every kind of means—cunning, violence, seduction and terror; calculation of the weariness, anxiety and despair of the adversary; at first menaces and constant disputes, and then flashes of lightning and multiplied claps of thunder, every species of brutality that force can command; the States of the Church invaded in times of peace, Rome surprised and occupied by soldiers, the Pope besieged in the Quirinal, in a year the Quirinal taken by a nocturnal assault, the Pope seized and carried off by post to Savona and there confined as a prisoner of state almost in cellular seclusion,1 subject to the entreaties and manœuvres of an adroit prefect who works upon him, of the physician who is a paid spy, of the servile bishops who are sent thither, alone with his conscience, contending with inquisitors relieving each other, subject to moral tortures as subtile and as keen as old-time physical tortures, to tortures so steady and persistent that he sinks, loses his head, “no longer sleeps and scarcely speaks,” falling into a senile condition and even more than senile condition, “a state of mental alienation.”2 Then, on issuing from this, the poor old man is again beset; finally, after waiting patiently for three years, he is once more brusquely conducted at night, secretly and incognito, over the entire road, with no repose or pity though ill, except stopping once in a snow-storm at the hospice on Mount Cenis, where he comes near dying; put back after twenty-four hours in his carriage, bent double by suffering and in constant pain; jolting over the pavement of the grand highway until almost dead and landed at Fontainebleau, where Napoleon wishes to have him ready at hand to work upon. “Indeed,” he himself says, “he is a lamb, an excellent, worthy man whom I esteem and am very fond of.”1
An improvised tête-à-tête may probably prove effective with this gentle, candid and tender spirit. Pius VII., who had never known ill-will, might be won by kindly treatment, by an air of filial respect, by caresses; he may feel the personal ascendency of Napoleon, the prestige of his presence and conversation, the invasion of his genius. Inexhaustible in arguments, matchless in the adaptation of ideas to circumstances, the most amiable and most imperious of interlocutors, stentorian and mild, tragic and comic by turns, the most eloquent of sophists and the most irresistible of fascinators, as soon as he meets a man face to face, he wins him, conquers him, and obtains the mastery.2 In effect, after seeing the Pope for six days, Napoleon obtains by persuasion what he could not obtain afar by constraint. Pius VII. signs the new Concordat in good faith, himself unaware that, on regaining his freedom and surrounded by his cardinals, who inform him on the political situation, he will emerge from his bewilderment, be attacked by his conscience, and, through his office, publicly accuse himself, humbly repent, and in two months withdraw his signature.
Such, after 1812 and 1813, is the duration of Napoleon’s triumphs and the ephemeral result of his greatest military and ecclesiastical achievements—Moskowa, Lutzen, Bautzen and Dresden, the Council of 1811 and the Concordat of 1813. Whatever the vastness of his genius may be, however strong his will, however successful his attacks, his success against nations and churches never is, and never can be, other than temporary. Great historical and moral forces elude his grasp. In vain does he strike, for their downfall gives them new life, and they rise beneath the blow. With Catholic institutions,1 as with other powers, not only do his efforts remain sterile, but what he accomplishes remains inverse to the end he has in view. He aims to subjugate the Pope, and he led the Pope on to omnipotence. He aims at the maintenance and strength of the Gallican spirit among the French clergy, and yet brings them under the rule of the ultramontane spirit. With extraordinary energy and tenacity, with all his power, which was enormous, through the systematic and constant application of diverse and extreme measures, he labored for fifteen years to rend the ties of the Catholic hierarchy, take it to pieces, and, in sum, the final result of all is to tie them faster and hasten its completion.
I. The effects of the system.—Completion of the ecclesiastical hierarchy.—Omnipotence of the Pope in the Church.—Influence of the French Concordat and other precedents from 1801 to 1870.—Why the clergy becomes ultramontane.—The dogma of Infallibility.—II. The bishop in his diocese.—Change of situation and rôle.—Depreciation of other local authorities.—Diminution of other ecclesiastical authorities.—Decline of the chapter and the officialité.—The bishop alone dispenses rigors and favors.—Use of displacement.—Second-class clergy subject to military discipline.—Why it submits to this.—Change in the habits and ways of the bishop.—His origin, age, capability, mode of living, labor, initiative, undertakings, and moral and social ascendency.—III. The subordinates.—The secular clergy.—Its derivation and how recruited.—How prepared and led.—The lower seminary.—The higher seminary.—Monthly lectures and annual retreat.—The Exercitia.—The Manreze du Prêtre.—The curé in his parish.—His rôle a difficult one.—His patience and correct conduct.
In 1801, at Rome, pending the negotiations for the Concordat, when Pius VII. still hesitated about the deposition in mass of the survivors of the ancient French episcopacy, clear-sighted observers already remarked, “Let this Concordat which the First Consul desires be completed,1 and you will see, on its ratification, its immense importance and the power it will give to Rome over the episcopacy throughout the universe.”—In effect, through this “extraordinary, nearly unexampled” act of authority, and certainly unequalled “in the history of the Church,”2 the ultramontane theory, contested up to this time, maintained in the speculative region of abstract formulæ, comes down to solid ground, into practical and lasting use. Willingly or not, “the Pope acts as if universal bishop;” urged and constrained by the lay power, attached to a dictatorship,1 he entered upon it and so installed himself, and, ten years later, Napoleon, who had impelled him on, regretted that he had done so. Warned by his Gallican legists, he saw the ecclesiastical import of his work; but it was too late to retreat—the decisive step had been taken.—For, in fact, the Pope had deprived all the chieftains of a great church of their thrones, “his colleagues and co-bishops,”2 successors of the apostles under the same title as himself, members “of the same order and stamped” with the same “character,” eighty-five legitimate incumbents3 and, still better, as admitted by himself, blameless, worthy, persecuted because they had obeyed him, banished from France on account of their unwillingness to quit the Roman Church. He had ordered them to resign; he had withdrawn apostolic powers from the thirteen who had refused to tender their resignations; to all, even to those who refused, he had appointed their successors. He assigned to the new titularies dioceses of a new pattern and, to justify novelties of such gravity,4 he could allege no other reasons than circumstances, the exigencies of lay power, and the welfare of the Church. After that the Gallicans themselves, unless accepting the risk of a schism and of separating forever from the Holy See, were obliged to allow the Pope above and beyond the ordinary powers exercised by him within the old limits of canons and of custom, an extraordinary power unlimited by any canon or by any custom,1 a plenary and absolute authority, a right above all other rights, by virtue of which, in cases determined by himself, he provided in a discretionary way for all Catholic interests, of which he thus becomes the supreme judge, the sole interpreter and the court of last appeal. An indestructible precedent was set up; it was the great corner-stone in the support of the modern Church edifice; on this definitive foundation all other stones were to be superposed, one by one. In 1801, Pius VII., under the pressure of the reigning Napoleon, had obliged the prelates of the old régime, sullied by a monarchical origin and suspected of zeal for the dethroned Bourbons, to abandon their seats. In 1816, under the pressure of the re-established Bourbons, the same Pius VII. obliged Fesch, cardinal-archbishop of Lyons, and uncle of the fallen Napoleon, to abandon his seat.2 In both cases the situation was similar, and, in the latter as in the former case, motives of the same order warranted the same use of the same power.
But the situation, in being prolonged, multiplied, for the Church, cases of urgency, and, for the sovereign pontiff, cases of intervention. Since 1789, the entire civil order of things, constitutional, political, social and territorial, had become singularly unstable, not only in France but in Europe, not only on the old continent but likewise on the new one. Sovereign states by hundreds sunk under the strokes and counter-strokes, indefinitely propagated and enforced by the philosophy of the eighteenth century and of the French Revolution; others, by dozens, arose in their place, and, in these, different dynasties succeeded each other; here, Catholic populations falling under the rule of a schismatic or Protestant prince; there, this or that Catholic country, for fifteen years included in a mixed state, detached from it and constituted apart. In Protestant America, the Catholics, increased to millions, formed new communities; in Catholic America, the colonies had become independent; almost everywhere in America and in Europe the maxims of government and of public opinion had changed. Now, after each of these changes, some initiative, some direction, some authority was necessary, in order to reconcile ecclesiastical with lay institutions; the Pope was on hand, and on each occasion he establishes this concord.1 At one time, by a diplomatic act analogous to the French Concordat of 1801, he negotiates with the sovereign of the country—Bavaria, Wurtemburg, Prussia, Austria, Spain, Portugal, the two Sicilies, the Netherlands, Belgium and Russia. Again, owing to the tolerant liberalism, or to the constitutional indifference of the lay government, he alone prescribes, notably in Holland, in Ireland, in England, in Canada, and in the United States, a division of the country into ecclesiastical districts, the erection of new bishoprics, and the lasting regulation of the hierarchy, the discipline, the means of support and the recruiting of the clergy. Again, when sovereignty is in dispute, as after the emancipation of the Spanish colonies, he does without it, in spite of the opposition of the mother-country, and, “without putting himself in relation with the new governments,”1 he, acting for himself, “that he may put an end to the widowhood of the Churches,” appoints bishops, assigns them a provisional régime in anticipation of the epoch when, in concert with better-founded governments, he will decree their definitive régime. In this way, all the great existing churches of the Catholic universe are the work of the Pope, his latest work, his own creation attested by a positive act of contiguous date, and of which the souvenir is vivid: he has not recognized them—he has made them; he has given them their external form and their internal structure; no one of them can look within itself without finding in its laws the fresh imprint of the sovereign hand which has fashioned it; none of them can assert or even believe itself legitimate without declaring the superior authority to be legitimate which has just endowed it with life and being. The last step, the greatest of all, above the terrestrial and practical order of things, in speculative theology, in the revelation of the supernatural, in the definition of things that are divine: the Pope, the better to prove his autocracy, in 1854, decrees, solely, of his own accord, a new dogma, the immaculate conception of the Virgin, and he is careful to note that he does it without the concurrence of the bishops; they were on hand, but they neither deliberated nor decided.2
Thus arise durable powers, spiritual or temporal, little by little, through the uninterrupted and uncontested series of their acts; from 1791 to 1870 all ecclesiastical precedents, one added to another, became consolidated, one through the other and through their mass; story after story, steadily ascending and converging to raise the Pope higher still, until at last, on the summit of the edifice, the Holy See becomes the keystone of the arch, the omnipotence of fact being completed by omnipotence of right.
Meanwhile, Catholic opinion came to the aid of pontifical opinion, and, in France, the clergy spontaneously became ultramontane because there was no longer any motive for remaining Gallican. Since the Revolution, the Concordat and the Organic Articles, all the sources which maintained in it a national as well as particularist spirit, had dried up; it ceased being a distinct, proprietary and favored body; its members are no longer leagued together by the community of a temporal interest, by the need of defending their privileges, by the faculty of acting in concert, by the right of holding periodical assemblies; they are no longer, as formerly, attached to the civil power by great social and legal advantages, by their honorable priority in lay society, by their immunities from taxation, by the presence and influence of their bishops in the provincial parliaments, by the noble origin and magnificent endowments of nearly all their prelates, by the repressive support which the secular arm lent to the Church against dissenters and free-thinkers, by the immemorial legislation and customs which, erecting Catholicism into a State religion, imposed the Catholic faith on the monarch, not alone in his quality of a private individual and to fix his personal belief, but again in his quality of public magistrate, to influence his policy and to share in his government. This last article is capital, and out of its abrogation the rest follows: at this turn of the road the French clergy is thrown off the Gallican track, every step it takes after this being on the way to Rome. For, according to Catholic doctrine, outside of the Roman Church there is no salvation; to enter it, to rest in it, to be led by it is the highest interest and first duty of man; it is the unique and infallible guide; all acts that it condemns are culpable, and not only private acts, but likewise all public acts; the sovereign who commits them may, as an individual, be Catholic by profession and even loyal at heart; but, as a ruler, he is disloyal, he has lost his semi-ecclesiastic character, he has ceased to be “the exterior bishop,” he is not worthy to command a clerical body. Henceforth, the Christian conscience no longer bows down before him with love and respect; nothing remains to him for support but social prudence; and again is it with resignation, because the Church commands obedience to the authorities, and the same Church commands disobedience to these authorities when, abusing their power, they encroach on its rights.
Now, for ten years back, the State had done nothing else, and, to the old Concordat which was not good, it had just substituted a Concordat that was worse. This new alliance, concluded by it with the Church in 1802, is not a religious marriage, the solemn sacrament by which, at Rheims, she and it promised to live together and in harmony in the same faith, but a simple civil contract, more precisely the legal regulation of a lasting and deliberate divorce.—In a paroxysm of despotism the State has stripped the Church of its possessions and turned it out of doors, without clothes or bread, to beg on the highways; next, in a fit of rage, its aim was to kill it outright, and it did partially strangle it. Recovering its reason, but having ceased to be Catholic, it has forced the signature of a pact which is repugnant, and which reduces their moral union to physical cohabitation. Willingly or not, the two contracting parties are to continue living together in the same domicile, since that is the only one they possess; but, as there is incompatibility of humor, they will do well to live apart. To this end, the State assigns a small, distinct lodging to the Church and allows her a meagre supply of food; this done, it tancies that it may cry quits; and, worse still, it imagines that she is always its subject, and still pretends to the same authority over her; the State is determined to retain all rights conferred upon it by the old marriage, and these rights it exercises and adds to. Meanwhile, it admits into the same lodging three other Churches which it subjects to the same régime: that makes four mess-rooms to be maintained and which it watches, supports and utilizes the best it can for the temporal advantage of the household. There is nothing more odious to the Catholic Church than this advertised, practical polygamy, this subvention granted indifferently to all cults, this patronage in common, more insulting than abandonment, this equal treatment1 which places the pulpit of truth and the pulpits of falsehood, the ministry of salvation and the ministries of perdition, on the same footing. Nothing is more serviceable for alienating a Catholic clergy, for making it consider civil power as foreign, usurping, or even inimical, for detaching the Gallican Church from its French centre, for driving it back towards its Roman centre and for handing it over to the Pope.
Henceforth, the latter is the unique centre, the sole surviving head of the Church, inseparable from it because he is naturally its head and because it is naturally his body; and all the more because this mutual tie has been strengthened by trials. Head and body have been struck together, by the same hands, and each on the other’s account. The Pope has suffered like the Church, along with and for it. Pius VI., dethroned and borne off by the Directory, died in prison at Valence; Pius VII., dethroned and carried off by Napoleon, is confined, sequestered and outraged for four years in France, while all generous hearts take sides with the oppressed against his oppressors. Moreover, his dispossession adds to his prestige: it can no longer be claimed that territorial interests prevail with him over Catholic interests; therefore, according as his temporal power diminishes his spiritual power expands, to such an extent that, in the end, after three-quarters of a century, just at the moment when the former is to fall to the ground the latter is to rise above the clouds; through the effacement of his human character his superhuman character becomes declared; the more the sovereign prince disappears, the more does the sovereign pontiff assert himself. The clergy, despoiled like him of its hereditary patrimony and confined like him to its sacerdotal office, exposed to the same dangers, menaced by the same enemies, rallies around him the same as an army around its general; inferiors and superiors, they are all priests alike and are nothing else, with a clearer and clearer conscience of the solidarity which binds them together and subordinates the inferiors to the superiors. From one ecclesiastical generation to another,1 the number of the refractory, of the intractable and of independents, rigorists or the lax, goes on decreasing, some, conscientious Jansenists, hardened and sectarians of the “Little Church,” others, semi-philosophers, tolerant and liberal, both inheriting too narrow convictions or too broad opinions for maintaining themselves and spreading in the newly founded society (milieu).2 They die out, one by one, while their doctrines fall into discredit and then into oblivion. A new spirit animates the new clergy, and, after 1808, Napoleon remarks of it, “It does not complain of the old one, and is even satisfied with it; but, he says, they are bringing up new priests in a sombre fanatical doctrine: there is nothing Gallican in the youthful clergy,”1 no sympathy for the civil power. After Napoleon, and on getting out of his terrible hands, the Catholics have good reasons for their repugnance to his theology; it has put too many Catholics in jail, the most eminent in rank, in holiness, bishops and cardinals, including the Pope. Gallican maxims are dishonored by the use Napoleon has made of them. Canon law, in public instruction and in the seminaries (of the Catholics), ends insensibly in unlooked-for conclusions; texts and arguments opposed to the Pope’s authority seem weaker and weaker; texts and arguments favorable to the Pope’s authority seem stronger and stronger;2 the doctors most deferred to are no longer Gerson and Bossuet, but Bellarmin and Suarez; flaws are discovered in the decrees of the council of Constance; the Declaration of the clergy of France in 1682 is found to contain errors condemned and open to condemnation.3 After 1819, M. de Maistre, a powerful logician, matchless herald and superb champion, in his book on “The Pope,” justifies, prepares and announces the coming constitution of the Church.—Step by step, the assent of the Catholic community is won or mastered;4 on approaching 1870, it is nearly universal; after 1870, it is wholly so and could not be otherwise; whoever refuses to submit is excluded from the community and excludes himself from it, for he denies a dogma which it professes, a revealed dogma, an article of faith which the Pope and the council have just decreed. Thenceforward, the Pope, in his magisterial pulpit, in the eyes of every man who is and who wants to remain Catholic, is infallible; when he gives his decision on faith or on morals, Jesus Christ himself speaks by his mouth, and his definitions of doctrine are “irreformable,” “they are so of themselves, they alone, through their own virtue, and not by virtue of the Church’s consent.”1 For the same reason, his authority is absolute, “not only in matters which concern faith and morals, but again in matters which concern the discipline and government of the Church.”2 His judgment may be resorted to in every ecclesiastical case; nobody is allowed to question his verdict; “nobody is allowed to appeal to the future œcumenical council.”3 He has not only “a priority by right, an office of inspection and of direction; he holds again priority of jurisdiction, a full and supreme power of jurisdiction over the universal Church, . . . ” “the total plenitude of this supreme power,” not indirectly and extraordinarily, but “directly and ordinarily, over all churches and over each one of them, over all pastors and all believers, over each believer and each of the pastors.”—Read this in the Latin: each word, through its ancient root and through its historic vegetation, contributes to strengthening the despotic and Roman sense of the text; the language of the people which invented and practised dictatorship had to be employed for the affirmation of dictatorship with that precision and that copiousness, with that excess of energy and of conviction.
The change brought about in the condition and rôle of the bishop was not less grave. Along with the court noblesse and great ecclesiastical property, we see the prelate of the old régime disappearing by degrees, the younger son of a noble family, promoted by favor and very young, endowed with a large income and much more a man of the world than of the Church. In 1789, out of one hundred and thirty-four bishops or archbishops, only five were of plebeian origin; in 1889, out of ninety bishops or archbishops there are only four of them nobles;1 previous to the Revolution, the titulary of an episcopal see enjoyed, on the average, a revenue of one hundred thousand francs2 ; at the present day, he receives only a salary of from ten to fifteen thousand francs. In place of the grand seignior, an amiable and magnificent head of a mansion, given to display and to entertaining the best company, keeping an open table in his diocese when he happens to be there, but generally absent, an habitué of Paris or a courtier at Versailles, we see another stepping forward to take his seat, bearing the same title, a personage whose habits and origins are different, a resident administrator, much less ornamental but a far more active and governing spirit, provided with a more ample jurisdiction, with more absolute authority and wielding more effective influence. The final effect of the Revolution in relation to the bishop is the same as in relation to the Pope, and in the French diocese, as in the universal Church, the modern régime sets up a central, extraordinary, enormous power of which the ancient regime knew nothing.
Formerly, the bishop encountered around him, on the spot, equals and rivals, bodies of men or individuals, as independent and powerful as himself, irremovable, owners of estates, dispensers of offices and of favors, local authorities by legal sanction, permanent patrons of a permanent class of dependents. In his own cathedral, his metropolitan chapter was, like himself, a collator of livings; elsewhere, other chapters were so likewise and knew how to maintain their rights against his supremacy. In each body of regular clergy, every grand abbot or prior, every noble abbess was, like himself, a sort of sovereign prince; likewise sovereign through the partial survival of the old feudal order, wholly laic, a territorial seignior and justiciary on his own domain; likewise sovereign, for its part, the parliament of the province, with its rights of registry and of remonstrance, with its administrative attributes and interferences, with its train of loyal auxiliaries and subordinates, from the judges of the presidencies and bailiwicks down to the corporations of advocates, prosecutors and other members of the bar.1 The parliamentarians of the district capital (chef-lieu), purchasers and owners of their offices, magistrates from father to son, much wealthier and much prouder than nowadays, were, in their old hereditary mansions, the real chiefs of the province, its constant representatives on the spot, its popular defenders against ministerial and royal absolutism. All these powers, which once counterbalanced episcopal power, have disappeared. Restricted to their judicial office, the tribunals have ceased to be political authorities and moderators of the central government: in the town and department, the mayor and general councillors, appointed or elected for a certain time, enjoy only temporary credit; the prefect, the military commandant, the rector, the treasurer-general are merely passing strangers. The local circumscription, for a century, is an exterior post where individuals live together in contact but not associated; no longer does any intimate, lasting and strong bond exist between them; nothing remains of the old province but a population of inhabitants, a given number of private persons under unstable functionaries. The bishop alone has maintained himself intact and erect, a dignitary for life, the conductor, by title and in fact, of a good many persons, the stationary and patient undertaker of a great service, the unique general and undisputed commander of a special militia which, through conscience and profession, gathers close around him and, every morning, awaits his orders. Because, in his essence, he is a governor of souls. Revolution and centralization have not encroached on his ecclesiastical prerogative. Thanks to this indelible quality he has been able to endure the suppression of the others; these have come back to him of themselves and with others added, comprising local superiority, real importance and local ascendency; including the various honorable appellations which, under the ancient régime, denoted his rank and preëminence; at the present day, under the modern régime, they are no longer in use for a layman and even for a minister of state; after 1802, one of the articles of the Organic Laws,1 interdicts them to bishops and archbishops; they are “allowed to add to their name only the title of citizen and monsieur.” But practically, except in the official almanac, everybody addresses a prelate as “my lord,” and in the clergy, among believers, in writing or in speaking to him, he is called “your Grace,” under the republic as under the monarchy.
Thus, in this provincial soil where other powers have lost their roots, not only has he kept his, but he has extended them and much farther; he has grown beyond all measure and now the whole ecclesiastical territory belongs to him. Formerly, on this territory, many portions of it, and quite large ones, were enclosures set apart, reserves that an immemorial wall prevented him from entering. It is not he who, in a great majority of cases, confers livings and offices; it is not he who, in more than one-half of them, appoints to vacant curacies. At Besançon,1 among fifteen hundred benefices and livings, he once conferred less than one hundred of them, while his metropolitan chapter appointed as many curés as himself; at Arras, he appointed only seventeen curés and his chapter sixty-six; at Saint-Omer, among the collators of curacies he ranked only third, after the abbey of Saint-Martin and after the chapter of the cathedral. At Troyes, he could dispose only of one hundred and ninety-seven curacies out of three hundred and seventy two; at Boulogne, out of one hundred and eighty, he had only eighty, and this again because the chapter voluntarily abandoned to him sixteen. Naturally, the eyes of all aspirants turned towards the collator; now, among the highest and most lucrative places, those which gave the least trouble and afforded the most satisfaction, all sinecures, ranks, simple benefices and large urban curacies, probendaries and canonicates, most of the offices, titles, and incomes that might tempt human ambition, were in the hands, not of the bishop, but of the king or of the Pope, of an abbot or prior, of an abbess, or of a certain university,2 of this or that cathedral or college-body, of a lay seignior, of a patentee, or of an indultaire, and often of the titulary himself. Thus, the hold of the bishop on his clercs was feeble; he did not hold them through the hope of a favor. And, on the other hand, he had still less hold on them, no hold at all, through fear of losing favor. They might displease him almost with impunity; his faculty for punishment was much more restricted than his means of recompense. His subordinates could find shelter and refuge against his displeasure, and even against his hostility. In the first place, and as a principle, a titulary, whether ecclesiastic or laic, owned his office and hence was irremovable; they themselves, plain vicar-curates, the humble desservans1 of a rural parish, had acquired this privilege through the declarations of 1726 and 1731.2 Moreover, in case of interdiction, suspension or of censure, a titulary could always recur to the courts against episcopal judgment and any other, against all encroachment on spiritual or temporal prerogatives, or on those which were useful or honorary belonging to his charge.
These courts were of two kinds, one ecclesiastical and the other laic, and in each an appeal could be made from a lower to a higher court, from the diocesan official to the metropolitan official, and from the présidial to the parliament, with a complete judicial staff, judge, assessors, public ministry, prosecutors, advocates and clerks, restricted to the observing of all judicial formalities, authentic papers, citations of witnesses and challenges of testimony, interrogatories and pleadings, allegation of canons, laws and precedents, presence of the defendant, opposing arguments, delays in procedure, publicity and scandal. Before the slow march and inconveniences of such a trial, the bishop often avoided giving judgment, and all the more because his verdicts, even when confirmed by the ecclesiastical court, might be warded off or rendered ineffective by the lay tribunal; for, from the former to the latter, there was an appeal under writ of error, and the latter, a jealous rival of the former, was ill-disposed towards the sacerdotal authorities;1 besides, in the latter case, far more than in the former, the bishop found confronting him not merely the more or less legal right of his own party, but again the allies and patrons of his party, corporations and individuals who, according to an accepted usage, interfered through their solicitations with the judges and openly placed their credit at the service of their protégé. With so many spokes in the wheels, the working of an administrative machine was difficult; to give it effective motion, it required the steady pressure, the constant starting, the watchful and persistent efforts of a laborious, energetic, and callous hand, while, under the ancient régime, the delicate white hands of a gentleman-prelate were ill-adapted to this rude business; they were too nicely washed, too soft. To manage personally and on the spot a provincial, complicated and rusty machine, always creaking and groaning, to give one’s self up to it, to urge and adjust twenty local wheels, to put up with knocks and splashes, to become a business man, that is to say a man of all work—nothing was less desirable for a grand seignior of that epoch. In the Church as in the State, he made the most of his rank; he collected and enjoyed its fruits, that is to say money, honors and gratifications, and, among these gratifications, the principal one, leisure; hence, he abandoned every special duty, the daily manipulation of men and things, the practical direction, all effective government, to his ecclesiastical or lay intendants, to subordinates whom he scarcely looked after and who, at his own house, on his own domain, replaced him as fixed residents. The bishop, in his own diocese, left the administration in the hands of his canons and grand-vicars; “the official decided without his meddling.”1 The machine thus worked alone and by itself, with very few shocks, in the old rut established by routine; he helped it along only by the influence he exercised at Paris and Versailles, by recommendations to the ministers; in reality, he was merely the remote and worldly representative of his ecclesiastical principality at court and in the drawing-room.2 When, from time to time, he made his appearance there, the bells were rung; deputations from all bodies hurried to his antechambers; each authority in turn, and according to the order of precedence, paid him its little compliment, which compliment he graciously returned and then, the homage being over, he distributed among them benedictions and smiles. After this, with equal dignity and still more graciously throughout his sojourn, he invited the most eligible to his table and, in his episcopal palace or in his country-house, he treated them as guests. This done, he had performed his duty; the rest was left to his secretaries, ecclesiastical officials and clerks, men of the bureaux, specialists and “plodders.” “Did you read my pastoral letter?” said a bishop to Piron. And Piron, who was very outspoken, dared reply, “Yes, my lord. And yourself?”
Under the modern régime, this suzerain for show, negligent and intermittent, is succeeded by an active sovereign whose reign is personal and constant; the limited and easy monarchy of the diocese is converted into an universal and absolute monarchy. When the bishop, once invested and consecrated, enters the choir of his cathedral to the reverberations of the organ, lighted with wax candles amidst clouds of incense, and seats himself in solemn pomp3 “on his throne,” he is a prince who takes possession of his government, which possession is not nominal or partial, but real and complete. He holds in his hand “the splendid cross which the priests of his diocese have presented to him,” in witness of and symbolizing their voluntary, eager and full obedience; and this pastoral baton is larger than the old one. In the ecclesiastical herd, no head browses at a distance or under cover; high or low, all are within reach, all eyes are turned towards the episcopal crook; at a sign made by the crook, and according to the signal, each head forthwith stands, advances or recedes: it knows too well that the shepherd’s hands are free and that it is subject to its will. Napoleon, in his reconstruction of the diocese, made additions to only one of the diocesan powers, that of the bishop; he suffered the others to remain low down, on the ground. The delays, complications and frictions of a divided government were repugnant to him; he had no taste for and no comprehension of any but a concentrated government; he found it convenient to deal with but one man, a prefect of the spiritual order, as pliable as his colleague of the temporal order, a mitred grand functionary—such was the bishop in his eyes. This is the reason why he did not oblige him to surround himself with constitutional and moderating authorities; he did not restore the ancient bishop’s court and the ancient chapter; he allowed his prelates themselves to pen the new diocesan statute.—Naturally, in the division of powers, the bishop reserved the best part to himself, the entire substance, and, to limit his local omnipotence, there remained simply lay authority. But, in practice, the shackles by which the civil government kept him in its dependence, broke or became relaxed one by one. Among the Organic Articles, almost all of them which subjected or repressed the bishop fell into discredit or into desuetude. Meanwhile, those which authorized and exalted the bishop remained in vigor and maintained their effect. Consequently, Napoleon’s calculation, in relation to the bishop or in relation to the Pope, proved erroneous. He wanted to unite in one person two incompatible characters, to convert the dignitaries of the Church into dignitaries of the State, to make functionaries out of potentates. The functionary insensibly disappeared; the potentate alone subsisted and still subsists.
At the present day, conformably to the statute of 1802, the cathedral chapter,1 except in case of one interim, is a lifeless and still-born body, a vain simulachre; it is always, by title or on paper, the Catholic “senate,” the bishop’s obligatory “council”;2 but he takes his councillors where he pleases, outside of the chapter, if that suits him, and he is free not to take any of them, “to govern alone, to do all himself.” It is he who appoints to all offices, to the five or six hundred offices of his diocese; he is the universal collator of these and, nine times out of ten, the sole collator; excepting eight or nine canonships and the thirty or forty cantonal curacies, which the government must approve, he alone makes appointments and without any person’s concurrence. Thus, in the way of favors, his clerical body has nothing to expect from anybody but himself—while, on the other hand, they no longer enjoy any protection against his severities; the hand which punishes is still less restrained than that which rewards; like the cathedral chapter, the ecclesiastical tribunal has lost its consistency and independence, its efficiency; nothing remains of the ancient bishop’s court but an appearance and a name.1
At one time, the bishop in person is himself the whole court; he deliberates only with himself and decides ex informata conscientia without a trial, without advice, and, if he chooses, in his own cabinet with closed doors, in private according to facts, the value of which he alone estimates, and through motives of which he is the sole appreciator. At another time, the presiding magistrate is one of his grand-vicars, his revocable delegate, his confidential man, his mouthpiece, in short, another self, and this official acts without the restraint of ancient regulations, of a fixed and understood procedure beforehand, of a series of judicial formalities, of verifications and the presence of witnesses, of the delays and all other legal precautions which guard the judge against prejudice, haste, error, and ignorance and without which justice always risks becoming injustice. In both cases, the head over which the sentence is suspended lacks guarantees, and, once pronounced, this sentence is definitive. For, on appeal to the court of the metropolitan bishop, it is always confirmed;2 the bishops support each other, and, let the appellant be right or wrong, the appeal is in itself a bad mark against him: he did not submit at once, he stood out against reproof, he was lacking in humility, he has set an example of insubordination, and this alone is a grave fault. There remains the recourse to Rome; but Rome is far off,1 and, while maintaining her superior jurisdiction, she does not willingly cancel an episcopal verdict; she treats prelates with respect, she is careful of her lieutenant-generals, her collectors of Saint Peter’s pence. As to the lay tribunals, these have declared themselves incompetent,2 and the new canon law teaches that never, “under the pretext of a writ of error, may a priest make an appeal to the secular magistrate”;3 through this appeal, “he derogates from the authority and liberty of the Church and is liable to the gravest censures;” he betrays his order.
Such is now, for the lower clergy, ecclesiastical law, and likewise laic law, both agreeing together in not affording him protection; add to this change in the jurisprudence which concerns him a no less decisive change in the titles which place and qualify him. Before 1789, there were in France thirty-six thousand curés entitled irremovable; at the present day, there are only three thousand four hundred and twenty-five; before 1789, there were only twenty-five hundred curés in France entitled removable, while to-day there are thirty-four thousand and forty-two;4 all of the latter, appointed by the bishop without the approbation of the civil powers, are removable at his discretion; their parochial ministry is simply a provisional commission; they may be transferred from day to day, they may be placed elsewhere, passing from one precarious curacy to another no less precarious. “At Valence,5 Mgr. Chartrousse, in one month transferred one hundred and fifty priests from one parish to another. In 1835, in the diocese of Valence, thirty-five transfers were sent out by the same mail.” No assistant-priest, however long in his parish, feels that he is at home there, on his own domain, for the rest of his life; he is merely there in garrison, about the same as lay functionaries and with less security, even when irreproachable. For he may be transplanted, not alone for spiritual reasons, but likewise for political reasons. He has not grown less worthy, but the municipal council or the mayor have taken a dislike to his person; consequently, to tranquillize things, he is displaced. Far better, he had become worthy and is on good terms with the municipal council and the mayor; wherever he has lived he has known how to mollify these, and consequently “he is removed from parish to parish,1 chosen expressly to be put into those where there are troublesome, wrangling, malevolent, and impious mayors.” It is for the good of the service and in the interest of the Church. The bishop subordinates persons to this superior interest. The legislation of 1801 and 1802 has conferred full powers upon him and he exercises them; among the many grips by which he holds his clergy the strongest is the power of removal, and he uses it. Into all civil or ecclesiastical institutions Napoleon, directly or by counterstrokes, has injected his spirit, the military spirit; hence the authoritative régime, still more firmly established in the Church than in the State, because that is the essence of the Catholic institution; far from being relaxed in this, it has become stricter; at present it is avowed, proclaimed, and even made canonical; the bishop, in our days, in fact as in law, is a general of division, and, in law as in fact, his curés are simply sergeants or corporals.1 Command, from such a lofty grade, falls direct, with extraordinary force, on grades so low, and, at the first stroke, is followed by passive obedience. Discipline in a diocese is as perfect as in an army corps, and the prelates publicly take pride in it. “It is an insult,” said Cardinal de Bonnechose to the Senate,2 “to suppose that we are not masters in our own house, that we cannot direct our clergy, and that it is the clergy which directs us. . . . There is no general within its walls who would accept the reproach that he could not compel the obedience of his soldiers. Each of us has command of a regiment, and the regiment marches.”
In order to make troops march, a baton, even when pastoral, is not sufficient; it is still requisite that forced subordination in the men should go along with voluntary subordination; consequently, legal authority in the chief should be accompanied with moral authority; otherwise he will not be loyally supported and to the end. In 1789, this was not the case with the bishop; on two occasions, and at two critical moments, the clergy of the inferior order formed a separate band, at first at the elections, by selecting for deputies curés and not prelates, and next in the national assembly, by abandoning the prelates to unite with the Third Estate. The intimate hold of the chief on his men was relaxed or broken. His ascendency over them was no longer sufficiently great; they no longer had confidence in him. His subordinates had come to regard him as he was, a privileged individual, sprung from a distinct race and furnished by a class apart, bishop by right of birth, without a prolonged apprenticeship, having rendered no services, without tests of merit, almost an interloper in the body of his clergy, a Church parasite accustomed to spending the revenues of his diocese away from his diocese, idle and ostentatious, often a shameless gallant or obnoxious hunter, disposed to be a philosopher and free-thinker, and who lacked two qualifications for a leader of Christian priests: first, ecclesiastical deportment, and next, and very often, Christian faith.1
All these gaps in and discrepancies of episcopal character, all these differences and distances between the origins, interests, habits, and manners of the lower and the upper clergy, all these inequalities and irregularities which alienated inferiors from the superior, have disappeared; the modern régime has levelled the wall of separation established by the ancient régime between the bishop and his priests. At the present day he is, like them, a plebeian, of common extraction, and sometimes very low, one being the son of a village shoemaker, another the natural son of a poor workwoman, both being men of feeling and never blushing at their humble origin, openly tender and respectful to their mothers,—a certain bishop lodging his mother, formerly a servant, in his episcopal palace and giving her the first seat at his table among the most honored and noblest of his guests.1 He is “one of fortune’s officers,” that is to say, a meritorious and old officer. According to the “Almanac” of 1889, the three youngest are from forty-seven to forty-nine years of age; all the others are fifty and over; among the latter, three fourths of them are over sixty. As a general rule, a priest cannot become a bishop short of twenty or twenty-five years’ service in the lower and average grades; he must have remained in each grade a longer or shorter period, in turn vicar, curé, vicar-general, canon, head of a seminary, sometimes coadjutor, and almost always have distinguished himself in some office, either as preacher or catechist, professor or administrator, canonist or theologian. His full competence cannot be contested, and he enjoys a right to exact full obedience; he has himself rendered it up to his consecration; “he boasts of it,” and the example he proposes to his priests is the one he has himself given.2 On the other hand, his moderate way of living excites but little envy; it is about like that of a general of division, or of a prefect, or of a high civil functionary who, lacking personal fortune, has nothing but his salary to live on. He does not display, as formerly, confessionals lined with satin, kitchen utensils of massive silver, hunting accoutrements, a hierarchical staff of major-domos, ushers, valets, and liveried lackeys, stables and carriages, lay grand-seigniors, vassals of his suzerainty and figuring at his consecration, a princely ceremonial of parade and homage, a pompous show of receptions and of hospitalities. There is nothing but what is necessary, the indispensable instruments of his office: an ordinary carriage for his episcopal journeys and town visits, three or four domestics for manual service, three or four secretaries for official writings, some old mansion or other cheaply repaired and refurnished without ostentation, its rooms and bureaus being those of an administrator, business man, and responsible head of a numerous staff; in effect, he is responsible for a good many subordinates, he has a good deal to attend to; he works himself, looking after the whole and in detail, keeping classified files by means of a chronological and systematic collection,1 like the general director of a vast company; if he enjoys greater honors, he is subject to greater exigencies; assuredly, his predecessors under the ancient régime, delicate epicureans, would not have wished for such a life; they would have considered the disagreeable as surpassing its gratifications.
Even when old, he draws on his energies; he officiates, he preaches, he presides at long ceremonies, he ordains seminarians, he confirms thousands of children,2 he visits one after another the parishes in his diocese; often, at the end of his administration, he has visited them all and many times. Meanwhile, shut up in his episcopal cabinet, he is constantly inspecting these four or five hundred parishes; he reads or listens to reports, informs himself on the number of communicants, on what is required in worship, on the financial state of the fabrique, on the attitude of the inhabitants, on the good or bad dispositions of municipal counsellors and mayors, on the local causes of dissension and conflict, on the conduct and character of the curé or vicar; each resident ecclesiastic needs guidance or maintenance between intemperate zeal and inert lukewarmness, evenly balanced according as parishes and circumstances vary, but always in a way to prevent false steps, to turn aside mistakes, to humor opinion, to stop scandals. For the entire life of the clergyman, not only his public life but again his personal, domestic, private life, belongs to and concerns the Church: there must be no evil reports, even without foundation, on his account; if these occur, the bishop summons him to headquarters, warns him, admonishes him, and, without handing the matter over to a responsible tribunal, decides himself alone, in private, and therefore subject to the investigations, anxieties and painful, painstaking labor always attendant on direct absolute power. Likewise, in relation to his upper and his lower seminary: here are two indispensable nurseries of which he is the head gardener, attentive to filling annual vacancies and seeking proper subjects for these throughout his diocese, ever verifying and cultivating their vocations; he confers scholarships; he dictates rules and regulations; appoints and dismisses, displaces and procures as he pleases, the director and professors; he takes them, if he chooses, out of his diocese or out of the body of regular clergy; he prescribes a doctrine to them, methods, ways of thinking and teaching, and he keeps his eye, beyond his present or future priests, on three or four hundred monks and on fourteen hundred nuns.
As to the monks, so long as they remain inside their dwellings, in company together and at home, he has nothing to say to them; but, when they come to preach, confess, officiate or teach in public on his ground, they fall under his jurisdiction; in concert with their superior and with the Pope, he has rights over them and he uses them. In effect, they are auxiliaries assigned to or summoned by him, available troops and a reinforcement, so many choice companies expressly ready, each with its own discipline, its particular uniform, its special weapon, and who bring to him in following a campaign under his orders, distinct aptitudes and a livelier zeal; he has need of them1 in order to make up for the insufficiency of his local clergy in arousing the spirit of devotion in his parishes and in enforcing sound doctrine in his seminaries. Now, between these two forces a common understanding is difficult; the former, adjuncts and flying about, march in front; the latter, holding the ground and stationary, look upon the new-comers as usurpers who lessen both their popularity and their fees; a bishop must possess great tact as well as energy to impose on both bodies of this clergy, if not an intimate union, at least mutual aid and a collaboration without conflict.—As to the nuns,2 he is their ordinary, the sole arbiter, overseer and ruler over all these cloistered lives; he receives their vows, and renders them free of them; it is he who, after due inquiry and examination, authorizes each entrance into the community or a return to society, at first each admission or novitiate, and next each profession of faith or assumption of the veil, every dismissal or departure of a nun, every claim that one makes, every grave act of severity or decision on the part of the superior; he approves of, or appoints, the confessor of the establishment; he maintains seclusion in it, he draws tighter or relaxes the observances; he himself enters its doors by privilege of his office, and, with his own eyes, he inspects its régime, spiritual and temporal, through a right of control which extends from the direction of souls to the administration of property.
To so many obligatory matters he adds others which are voluntary, not alone works of piety, those relating to worship, propagandism, diocesan missions, catechising adults, brotherhoods for perpetual adoration, meetings for the uninterrupted recital of the rosary, Peter’s pence, seminary funds, Catholic journals and reviews—but, again, institutions for charity and education.1 In the way of charity, he founds or supports twenty different kinds, sixty in one diocese alone, general and special services, infant nurseries, clubs, asylums, lodging-houses, patronages, societies for helping and placing the poor, for the sick at home and in the hospitals, for suckling infants, for the deaf and dumb, for the blind, for old men, for orphans, for repentant prostitutes, for prisoners, for soldiers in garrison, for workmen, apprentices, youths, and quantities of others. In the way of education, there are yet more of them—works which the Catholic chiefs have most at heart; without these, it is impossible in modern society to preserve the faith in each new generation. Hence, at each turning-point of political history, we see the bishops benefiting by the toleration or warding off the intolerance of the teaching State, competing with it, erecting alongside of its public schools free schools of its own, directed or served by priests or religious brotherhoods;—after the suppression of the university monopoly in 1850, more than one hundred colleges1 for secondary education; after the favorable law of 1875, four or five provincial faculties or universities for superior instruction; after the hostile laws of 1882, many thousands of parochial schools for primary instruction.
Foundation and support, all this is expensive. The bishop requires a great deal of money, especially since the State, become ill-disposed, cuts off clerical resources as much as possible, no longer maintains scholarships in the seminaries, deprives suspicious desservans of their small stipends, eats into the salaries of the prelates, throws obstacles in the way of communal liberalities, taxes and overtaxes the congregations, so that, not merely through the diminution of its allowances it relieves itself at the expense of the Church, but again, through the increase of its imposts, it burdens the Church for its own advantage. The episcopacy obtains all necessary funds through collections in the churches and at domiciles, through the gifts and subscriptions of the faithful; and, every year, it needs millions, apart from the budget appropriation, for its faculties and universities in which it installs largely paid professors, for the construction, location and arrangement of its countless buildings, for the expenses of its minor schools, for the support of its ten thousand seminarists, for the general outlay on so many charitable institutions; and it is the bishop who, their principal promoter, must provide for this, all the more because he has often taken it upon himself in advance, and made himself responsible for it by either a written or verbal promise. He responds to all these engagements; he has funds on hand at the maturity of each contract. In 1883, the bishop of Nancy, in need of one hundred thousand francs to build a school-house with a work-room attached to it, mentions this to a number of persons assembled in his drawing-room; one of these puts his hand in his pocket and gives him ten thousand francs, and others subscribe on the spot to the amount of seventy-four thousand francs.1 Cardinal Mathieu, during his administration, archbishop of Besançon, thus collects and expends four millions. Lately, Cardinal Lavigerie, to whom the budget allows fifteen thousand francs per annum, wrote that he had spent eighteen hundred thousand francs and had incurred no debt.2 —Through this initiative and this ascendency the bishop becomes a central social rallying-point; there is no other in the provinces, nothing but so many disjointed lives, juxtaposed and kept together in an artificial circle prescribed from above; so that a good many of these, and of most consideration, gravitate to and group themselves, especially since 1830, around this last permanent centre and form a part of its body; he is the sole germinating, vivifying, intact centre that still agglutinates scattered wills and suitably organizes them. Naturally, class and party interests incorporate themselves additionally along with the Catholic interest which he represents, and his ecclesiastical authority becomes a political influence; besides his secular and regular clergy, over and beyond the two thousand five hundred exemplary or directorial lives which he controls, we see behind him an indefinite multitude of lay adhesions and devotedness. Consequently, every government must take him into their calculations, and all the more because his colleagues stand by him; the episcopacy, banded together, remains erect in face of the omnipotent State, under the July monarchy as claimants of free instruction and under the second empire in support of the temporal power of the Pope.—In this militant attitude, the figure of the bishop is fully unveiled; the titular champion of an infallible Church, himself a believer and submissive; his voice is extraordinarily proud and defiant;1 in his own eyes, he is the unique depository of truth and morality; in the eyes of his followers, he becomes a superhuman personage, a prophet of salvation or of destruction, the annunciator of divine judgments, the dispenser of celestial anger or of celestial pardon; he rises to the clouds in an apotheosis of glory; with women especially, this veneration grows into enthusiasm and degenerates into idolatry. Towards the end of the second empire an eminent French bishop, on a steamboat on Lake Leman, taking a roll of bread from his pocket, seated himself alongside of two ladies and ate it, handing each of them a piece of it. One of them, bowing reverently, replied to him, “At your hands, my lord, this is almost the holy communion!”2
A clergy submissive in mind and feeling, long prepared by its condition and education for faith and obedience, acts under the sway of this sovereign and consecrated hand. Among the forty thousand curés and desservans “more than thirty-five thousand belong to the laboring class of workmen and peasants,”3 not the first class of peasants, but the second class, the poorer families earning their daily bread and often with a good many children. Under the pressure of the ambient atmosphere and of the modern régime, the others keep back their sons, retaining them for the world and denying them to the Church; ambition, even low down on the scale, has developed itself and changed its object. Nobody now aspires to make his son a curé but a schoolmaster, a railroad employé, or a commercial clerk.1 The ground has to be dug deeper, to reach a lower stratum, in order to extract from it the priests that are lacking.
Undoubtedly, at this depth, the extraction costs more; the family cannot afford to pay for the child’s ecclesiastical education; the State, moreover, after 1830, no longer gives anything to the lower seminary, nor to the large one after 1885.2 The expenses of these schools must be borne by the faithful in the shape of donations and legacies; to this end, the bishop orders collections in the churches in Lent and encourages his diocesans to found scholarships; the outlay for the support and education, nearly gratis, of a future priest between the ages of twelve and twenty-four is very great; in the lower seminary alone it costs from forty to fifty thousand francs over and above the net receipts;3 in the face of such an annual deficit, the bishop, who is responsible for the undertaking, is greatly concerned and sometimes extremely anxious.—To make amends, and as compensation, the extraction is surer; the long process by which a child is withdrawn and instructed for the priesthood goes on and is finished with less uncertainty. Neither the light nor the murmur of the century finds its way to these low depths; nobody ever reads the newspaper, even the penny paper; vocations can here shape themselves and become fixed like crystals, intact and rigid, and all of a piece; they are better protected than in the upper layers, less exposed to mundane infiltrations; they run less risk of being disturbed or thwarted by curiosity, reason and scepticism, by modern ideas; the outside world and family surroundings do not, as elsewhere, interfere with their silent internal workings. When the choirboy comes home after the service, when the seminarian returns to his parents in his vacations, he does not here encounter so many disintegrating influences, various kinds of information, free and easy talk, comparisons between careers, concern about advancement, habits of comfort, maternal solicitude, the shrugs of the shoulder and the half-smile of the strong-minded neighbor; stone upon stone and each stone in its place, his faith gains strength and completedness without any incoherency in its structure, with no incongruity in the materials, without having deviated from a plumb-line. He has been taken in hand before his twelfth year, when very young; his curé, who has been instructed from above to secure suitable subjects, has singled him out in the catechism class and again at the ceremony of confirmation;1 he is found to have a pious tendency and a taste for sacred ceremonies, a suitable demeanor, a mild disposition, complacency, and is inclined to study; he is a docile and well-behaved child; whether an acolyte at the altar or in the sacristy, he tries to fold the chasuble properly; all his genuflexions are correct, they do not worry him, he has no trouble in standing still, he is not excited and diverted, like the others, by the eruptions of animal spirits and rustic coarseness. If his rude brain is open to cultivation, if grammar and Latin can take root in it, the curé or the vicar at once take charge of him; he studies under them, gratis or nearly so, until he is far enough advanced, and he then enters the lower seminary.
This is a school apart, a boarding-house of picked youths, an inclosed hot-house intended for the preservation and development of special vocations. None of these schools existed previous to 1789; at the present day, they number eighty-six in France, and all the pupils are to become future priests. No foreign plants, no future laymen, are admitted into this preparatory nursery;1 for experience has shown that if the lower seminary is mixed it no longer attains its ecclesiastical purpose; “it habitually turns over to the upper seminary only the foot of the classes; those at the head seek fortune elsewhere”; on the contrary, “in the lower seminaries kept pure, the entire rhetoric class passes on into the upper seminary; not only do they obtain the foot of the classes but the head.”—The culture, in this second nursery, which is prolonged during five years, becomes extreme, wholly special; it was less so under the ancient régime, even at Saint-Sulpice; there was breakage in the glass which let in currents of air; the archbishop’s nephews and the younger sons of nobles predestined for Church dignities had introduced into it the laxity and liberties which were then the privileges of the episcopacy. During the vacations,2 fairy scenes and pastorals were performed there with costumes and dances, “The Enthronement of the Great Mogul,” and the “Shepherds in Chains”; the seminarians took great care of their hair; a first-class hair-dresser came and waited on them; the doors were not regularly shut: the youthful Talleyrand knew how to get out into the city and begin or continue his gallantries.1 From and after the Concordat, stricter discipline in the new seminaries had become monastic; these are practical schools, not for knowledge, but for training, the object being much less to make learned men than believing priests; education takes precedence of instruction and intellectual exercises are made subordinate to spiritual exercises2 —mass every day and five visits to the Saint-Sacrament, with minute or half-hour prayer stations; rosaries of sixty-three paters and aves, litanies, the angelus, loud and whispered prayers, special self-examinations, meditation on the knees, edifying readings in common, silence until one o’clock in the afternoon, silence at meals and the listening to an edifying discourse, frequent communions, weekly confessions, general confession at New-year’s, one day of retreat at the end of every month after the vacations and before the collation of each of the four orders, eight days of retirement during which a suspension of all study, morning and evening sermons, spiritual readings, meditations, orisons and other services from hour to hour;1 in short, the daily and systematic application of a wise and steadily perfected method, the most serviceable for fortifying faith, exalting the imagination, giving direction and impulse to the will, analogous to that of a military school, Saint-Cyr or Saumur, to such an extent that its corporeal and mental imprint is indelible, and that by the way in which he thinks, talks, smiles, bows and stands in your presence we at once recognize a former pupil of Saint-Sulpice as we do a former pupil of Saumur and of Saint-Cyr.
Thus graduated, an ordained and consecrated priest, first a vicar and then a curé desservant, the discipline which has bound and fashioned him still keeps him erect and presenting arms. Besides his duties in church and his ministrations in the homes of his parishioners, besides masses, vespers, sermons, catechisings, confessions, communions, baptisms, marriages, extreme unctions, funerals, visiting the sick and suffering, he has his personal and private exercises: at first, his breviary, the reading of which demands each day an hour and a half, no practical duty being so necessary. Lamennais obtained a dispensation from it, and hence his lapses and fall.2 Let no one object that such a recitation soon becomes mechanical3 ; the prayers, phrases and words which it buries deep in the mind, even wandering, necessarily become fixed inhabitants in it, and hence occult and stirring powers banded together which encompass the intellect and lay siege to the will, which, in the subterranean regions of the soul, gradually extend or fortify their silent occupation of the place, which insensibly operate on the man without his being aware of it, and which, at critical moments, unexpectedly rise up to steady his footsteps or to save him from temptation. Add to this antique custom two modern institutions which contribute to the same end. The first one is the monthly conference, which brings together the desservans curés at the residence of the oldest curé in the canton; each has prepared a study on some theme furnished by the bishopric, some question of dogma, morality or religious history, which he reads aloud and discusses with his brethren under the presidency and direction of the oldest curé, who gives his final decision; this keeps theoretical knowledge and ecclesiastical erudition fresh in the minds of both reader and hearers. The other institution, almost universal nowadays, is the annual retreat which the priests in the diocese pass in the large seminary of the principal town. The plan of it was traced by Saint Ignatius; his Exercitia is still to-day the manual in use, the text of which is literally,1 or very nearly, followed.2 The object is to reconstitute the supernatural world in the soul, for, in general, it evaporates, becomes effaced, and ceases to be palpable under the pressure of the natural world. Even the faithful pay very little attention to it, while their vague conception of it ends in becoming a mere verbal belief; it is essential to give them back the positive sensation, the contact and feeling. To this end, a man retires to a suitable place, where what he does actively or passively is hourly determined for him in advance—attendance at chapel or at preaching, telling his beads, litanies, orisons aloud, orisons in his own breast, repeated self-examination, confession and the rest—in short, an uninterrupted series of diversified and convergent ceremonies which, by calculated degrees, drive out terrestrial preoccupations and overcome him with spiritual impressions; immediately around him, impressions of the same kind followed by the contagion of example, mutual fervor, common expectation, involuntary emulation, and that overstrained eagerness which creates its object; with all the more certainty that the individual himself works on himself, in silence, five hours a day, according to the prescriptions of a profound psychology, in order that his bare conception may take upon itself body and substance. Whatever may be the subject of his meditations, he repeats it twice the same day, and each time he begins by “creating the scene,” the Nativity or the Passion, the Day of Judgment or Hell; he converts the remote and undefined story, the dry, abstract dogma, into a detailed and figured representation; he dwells on it, he evokes in turn the images furnished by the five senses, visual, audible, tactile, olfactory, and even gustatory; he groups them together, and in the evening he animates them afresh in order that he may find them more intense when he awakes the next morning. He thus obtains the complete, precise, almost physical spectacle of his aspirations; he reaches the alibi, that mental transposition, that reversal of the points of view in which the order of certainties becomes inverted, in which substantial objects seem to be vain phantoms and the mystic world a world of substantial reality.—According to persons and circumstances, the theme for meditation differs, and the retreat is prolonged for a shorter or longer period. For laymen, it generally lasts for three days only; for the Brethren of the Christian Schools it is eight days annually, and when, at the age of twenty-eight, they take their vows in perpetuity, it lasts thirty days: for the secular priests, it lasts a little less than a week, while the theme on which their meditations are concentrated is the supernatural character of the priest. The priest who is confessor and ministrant of the Eucharist, the priest who is the saviour and restorer, the priest who is pastor, preacher and administrator—such are the subjects on which their imagination, assisted and directed, must work in order to compose the cordial which has to support them for the entire year. None is more potent; that which the Puritans drank at an American camp-meeting or at a Scotch revival was stronger but of less enduring effect.1
Two different cordials, one strengthening the other, are mixed together in this drink, both being of high flavor and so rank as to burn an ordinary mouth.—On the one hand, with the freedom of language and the boldness of deduction characteristic of the method, the sentiment of the priest’s dignity is exalted. What is the priest? “He is, between God who is in heaven and the man who tries to find him on earth, a being, God and man, who brings these nearer by his impersonating both.1 . . . I do not flatter you with pious hyperboles in calling you gods; this is not a rhetorical falsehood. . . . You are creators similar to Mary in her coöperation in the Incarnation. . . . You are creators like God in time. . . . You are creators like God in eternity. Our creation on our part, our daily creation, is nothing less than the Word made flesh itself. . . . God may create other worlds, he cannot so order it that any act under the sun can be greater than your sacrifice; for, at this moment, he reposes in your hands all that he has and all that he is. . . . I am not a little lower than the cherubim and seraphim in the government of the world, I am far above them; they are only the servants of God, we are his coadjutors. . . . The angels, who behold the vast riches passing through our hands daily, are amazed at our prerogative. . . . I fulfil three sublime functions in relation to the god of our altars—I cause him to descend, I administer his body, I am his custodian. . . . Jesus dwells under your lock and key; his hours of reception begin and end through you, he does not move without your permission, he gives no benediction without your assistance, he bestows nothing except at your hands, and his dependence is so dear to him that, for eighteen hundred years, he has not left the Church for one moment to lose himself on the glory of his Father.”—On the other hand, they are made to drink in full draughts the sentiment of subordination, which they imbibe to their very marrow.2 “Ecclesiastical obedience is . . . a love of dependence, a violation of judgment. . . . Would you know what it is as to the extent of sacrifice? A voluntary death, the sepulchre of the will, says Saint Climaque. . . . There is a sort of real presence infused into those who command us. . . . ” Let us be careful not to fall “into the crafty opposition of liberal Catholicism. . . . Liberalism, in its consequences, is social atheism. . . . Unity, in Roman faith, is not sufficient; let us labor together in the unity of the Roman spirit; for that, let us always judge Rome with the optimism of affection. . . . Each new dogmatic definition produces its own advantages: that of the Immaculate Conception has given us Lourdes and its truly œcumenical wonders.”
Nothing of all this is too much, and, in the face of the exigencies of modern times, it scarcely suffices. Now that society has become incredulous, indifferent or, at the least, laic, the priest must possess the two intense and master ideas which support a soldier abroad among insurgents or barbarians, one being the conviction that he is of a species and essence apart, infinitely superior to the common herd; and the other is the thought that he belongs to his flag, to his chiefs, especially to the commanding general, and that he has given himself up entirely to prompt obedience, to obeying every order issued without question or doubt. Thus, in that parish where the permanent curé was once installed, especially in the rural districts,1 the legal and popular governor of all souls, his successor, the removable desservant, is merely a resident bailiff, a sentry in his box, at the opening of a road which the public at large no longer travel. From time to time he hails you! But scarcely any one listens to him. Nine out of ten men pass at a distance, along a newer, more convenient and broader road. They either nod to him afar off or give him the go-by. Some are even ill-disposed, watching him or denouncing him to the ecclesiastic or lay authorities on which he depends. He is expected to make his orders respected and yet not hated, to be zealous and yet not importunate, to act and yet not efface himself: he succeeds pretty often, thanks to the preparation just described, and, in his rural sentry-box, patient, resigned, obeying his orders, he mounts guard lonely and in solitude, a guard which, for the past fifteen years, is disturbed and anxious and becoming singularly difficult.
I. The regular clergy.—Difference in the condition of the two clergies.—The three vows.—Rules.—Life in common.—Object of the system.—Violent suppression of the institution and its abuses in 1790.—Spontaneous revival of the institution free of its abuses after 1800.—Democratic and republican character of monastic constitutions.—Vegetation of the old stock and multiplication of new plants.—Number of monks and nuns.—Proportion of these numbers to the total population in 1789 and 1878.—Predominance of the organizations for labor and charity.—How formed and extended.—Social instinct and contact with the mystic world.—II. The mystic faculty.—Its sources and works.—Evangelical Christianity.—Its moral object and social effect.—Roman Christianity.—Development of the Christian idea in the West.—Influence of the Roman language and law.—Roman conception of the State.—Roman conception of the Church.—III. Existing Catholicism and its distinctive traits.—Authority, its prestige and supports.—Rites, the priest, the Pope.—The Catholic Church and the modern State.—Difficulties in France born out of their respective constitutions.—Other difficulties of the French system.—New and scientific conception of the world.—How opposed to the Catholic conception.—How it is propagated.—How the other is defended.—Losses and gains of the Catholic Church.—Its narrow and broad domains.—Effects of Catholic and French systems on Christian sentiment in France.—Increased among the clergy and diminished in society.
However correct the life of a secular priest may be, he stills belongs to his century. Like a layman, he has his own domicile and fireside, his parsonage in the country with a garden, or an apartment in town—in any event, his own home and household, a servant or housekeeper, who is often either his mother or a sister; in short, a suitable enclosure set apart, where he can enjoy his domestic and private life free of the encroachments on his public and ecclesiastical life, analogous to that of a lay functionary or a bachelor of steady habits. In effect, his expenses and income, his comforts and discomforts are about the same. His condition, his salary,1 his table, clothes and furniture, his out-of-door ways and habits, give him rank in the village alongside of the school-teacher and postmaster; in the large borough or small town, alongside of the justice of the peace and college professor; in the large towns, side by side with the head of a bureau or a chief of division; at Paris, in certain parishes, alongside of the prefect of police and the prefect of the Seine.2 Even in the humblest curacy, he regulates his budget monthly, spending his money without consulting anybody. When not on duty, his time is his own. He can dine out, order for himself at home a special dish, allow himself delicacies. If he does not possess every comfort, he has most of them, and thus, like a lay functionary, he may if he chooses get ahead in the world, obtain promotion to a better curacy, become irremovable, be appointed canon and sometimes mount upward, very high, to the topmost rank. Society has a hold on him through all these worldly purposes; he is too much mixed up with it to detach himself from it entirely; very often his spiritual life droops or proves abortive under so many terrestrial preoccupations.—If the Christian desires to arrive at the alibi and dwell in the life beyond, another régime is essential for him, a protection against two temptations, that is to say the abandonment of two dangerous liberties, one consisting in the power by which, being an owner of property, he disposes as he likes of what belongs to him, and the other consisting in the power by which, being master of his acts, he arranges as he pleases his daily occupations. The secular priest,1 to this end, adds also to the vow of continence which he takes, two other vows, distinct and precise. By the vow of poverty he renounces all property whatever, at least that which is fully and completely his own,2 the arbitrary use of possessions, the enjoyment of what belongs to him personally, which vow leads him to live like a poor man, to endure privations, to labor, and beyond this, even to fasting, to mortifications, to counteracting and deadening in himself all those instincts by which man rebels against bodily suffering and aims at physical well-being. By the vow of obedience he gives himself up entirely to a double authority: one, in writing, which is discipline, and the other a living being, consisting of the superior whose business it is to interpret, apply and enforce the rule. Except in unheard-of cases, where the superior’s injunctions might be expressly and directly opposed to the letter of this rule,3 he interdicts himself from examining, even in his own breast, the motives, propriety and occasion of the act prescribed to him; he has alienated in advance future determinations by entirely abandoning self-government; henceforth, his internal motor is outside of himself and in another person. Consequently, the unforeseen and spontaneous initiative of free will disappears in his conduct to give way to a predetermined, obligatory and fixed command, to a system (cadre) which envelops him and binds together in its rigid compartments the entire substance and details of his life, anticipating the distribution of his time for a year, week by week, and for every day, hour by hour, defining imperatively and circumstantially all action or inaction, physical or mental, all work and all leisure, silence and speech, prayers and readings, abstinences and meditations, solitude and companionship, hours for rising and retiring, meals, quantity and quality of food, attitudes, salutations, bearing, tone and forms of language and, still better, mute thoughts and the deepest sentiments. Moreover, through the periodical repetition of the same acts at the same hours, he confines himself to a cycle of habits which are forces, and which keep growing since they are ever turning the inward balance on the same side through the ever-increasing weight of his entire past. Through a table and lodging in common, through a communion of prayer, through incessant contact with other brethren of the same religious observances, through the precaution taken to join with him one companion when he goes out and two companions when he lodges elsewhere, through his visits to and fro to the head establishment, he lives in a circle of souls strained to the same extent, by the same processes, to the same end as himself, and whose visible zeal maintains his own.—Grace, in this state of things, abounds. Such is the term bestowed on the silent and steady, or startling and brusque, emotion by which the Christian enters into communication with the invisible world, an aspiration and a hope, a presentiment and a divination, and even often a distinct perception. Evidently, this grace is not far off, almost within reach of the souls which, from the tenor of their whole life, strive to attain it. Closed on the earthly side, therefore, these can no longer look or breathe otherwise than heavenward.
At the end of the eighteenth century, the monastic institution no longer produced this effect; deformed, weakened and discredited through its abuses, especially in the convents of males, and then violently overthrown by the Revolution, it seemed to be dead. But, at the beginning of the nineteenth century, behold it springing up again spontaneously, in one direct, new, strong and active jet and higher than the old one, free of the excrescences, rottenness and parasites which, under the ancient régime, disfigured and discolored it. No more compulsory vows, no “frocked” younger sons “to make an elder,” no girls immured from infancy, kept in the convent throughout their youth, led on, urged, and then driven into a corner and forced into the final engagement on becoming of age; no more aristocratic institutions, no Order of Malta and chapters of men or of women in which noble families find careers and a receptacle for their supernumerary children. No more of those false and counterfeit vocations the real motive of which was, now pride of race and the determination not to fall, and again the animal attractions of physical comfort, indolence and inertia; no more lazy and opulent monks, occupied, like the Carthusians of Val Saint-Pierre, in overeating, in the brutalities of digestion and routine, or, like the Bernardines of Granselve,1 turning their building into a worldly rendezvous for jovial hospitality and themselves taking part, foremost in rank, in prolonged and frequent feastings, balls, plays and hunting-parties; in diversions and gallantries which the annual fête of Saint Bernard, through a singular dissonance, excited and consecrated. No more over-wealthy superiors, usufructuaries of a vast abbatial revenue, suzerain and landlord seigniors, with the train, luxury and customs of their condition, with four-horse carriages, liveries, officials, antechamber, court, chancellorship and ministers of justice, obliging their monks to address them as “my lord,” as lax as any ordinary layman, well fitted to cause scandal in their order by their liberties and to set an example of depravity. No more lay intrusions, commendatory abbés or priors, interlopers, and imposed from above; no more legislative and administrative interferences2 in order to bind monks and nuns down to their vows, to disqualify them and deprive them almost of citizenship, to exclude them from common rights, to withhold from them rights of inheritance and testamentary rights, from receiving or making donations, depriving them in advance of the means of subsistence, to confine them by force in their convents and set the patrol on their track, and, on trying to escape, to furnish their superior with secular help and keep down insubordination by physical constraint. Nothing of this subsists after the great overthrow of 1790; under the modern régime, if any one enters and remains in a convent it is because the convent is more agreeable to him than the world outside; there is no other motive—no pressure or hindrance of an inferior or different kind, no direct or indirect, no domestic or legal constraint, no ambition, vanity and innate or acquired indolence, no certainty of finding satisfaction for a coarse and concentrated sensuality. That which now operates is the awakened and persistent vocation; the man or the woman who takes vows and keeps them, enters upon and adheres to his or her engagement only through a spontaneous act deliberately and constantly renewed through their own free will.
Thus purified, the monastic institution recovers its normal form, which is the republican and democratic form, while the impracticable Utopia which the philosophers of the eighteenth century wanted to impose on lay society becomes the effective régime under which the religious communities are going to live. In all of them, the governors are elected by the governed; whether the suffrage is universal or qualified, one vote is as good as another; votes are counted by heads, and, at stated intervals, the sovereign majority uses its right anew; with the Carmelites, it is every three years and to elect by secret ballot, not alone one authority but all the authorities, the prior, the sub-prior and the three clavières.1 —Once elected, the chief, in conformity with his mandate, remains a mandatory, that is to say a laborer assigned a certain work, and not a privileged person enjoying a gratification. His rank is not a dispensation, but an additional burden; along with the duties of his office, he subjects himself to an observance of the rules—having become a general, he is no better off than the simple soldier; he rises as early and his daily life is no better; his cell is as bare and his personal support not more expensive. He who commands ten thousand others lives as poorly, under as strict a watchword, with as few conveniences and with less leisure than the meanest brother.1 Over and above the austerities of ordinary discipline this or that superior imposed on himself supererogatory mortifications which were so great as to astonish as well as edify his monks. Such is the ideal State of the theorist, a Spartan republic, and for all, including the chiefs, an equal ration of the same black broth. There is another resemblance, still more profound. At the base of this republic lies the corner-stone designed in anticipation by Rousseau, then hewn and employed, well or ill, in the constitutions or plébiscites of the Revolution, the Consulate and the Empire, to serve as the foundation of the complete edifice. This stone is a primitive and solemn agreement by everybody interested, a social contract, a pact proposed by the legislator and accepted by the citizens; except that, in the monastic pact, the will of the acceptors is unanimous, earnest, serious, deliberate and permanent, while, in the political pact, it is not so; thus, whilst the latter contract is a theoretical fiction, the former is an actual verity.
For, in the small religious cité, all precautions are taken to have the future citizen know for what and how far he engages himself. The copy of the rules which is handed to him in advance explains to him the future use of each day and of each hour, the detail in full of the régime to which he is to subject himself. Besides this, to forestall any illusion and haste on his part he is required to make trial of the confinement and discipline; he realizes through personal, sensible and prolonged experience what he must undergo; before assuming the habit, he must serve a novitiate of at least one year and without interruption. Simple vows sometimes precede the more solemn vows; with the Jesuits, several novitiates, each lasting two or three years, overlie and succeed each other. Elsewhere, the perpetual engagement is taken only after several temporary engagements; up to the age of twenty-five the “Frères des Écoles Chrétiennes” take their vows for a year; at twenty-five for three years; only at twenty-eight do they take them for life. Certainly, after such trials, the postulant is fully informed; nevertheless, his superiors contribute what they know. They have watched him day after day; deep down under his superficial, actual and declared disposition they define his profound, latent, and future intention; if they deem this insufficient or doubtful, they adjourn or prevent the final profession: “My child, wait—your vocation is not yet determined,” or “My friend, you were not made for the convent, return to the world!”
Never was a social contract signed more knowingly, after greater reflection on what choice to make, after such deliberate study: the conditions of human association demanded by the revolutionary theory are all fulfilled and the dream of the Jacobins is realized. But not on the ground they have assigned to it; through a strange contrast, and which seems ironical in history, this dream of speculative reason has produced nothing in the lay order of things but elaborate plans on paper—a deceptive and dangerous Declaration of Rights, appeals to insurrection or to a dictatorship, incoherent or still-born organizations—in short, abortions or monsters; in the religious order of things, it adds to the living world thousands of living creatures of indefinite viability. So that, among the effects of the French revolution, one of the principal and most enduring is the restoration of monastic institutions.
They are seen springing up and multiplying on all sides and uninterruptedly, from the Consulate down to the present day. Early, new sprouts shoot out and cover the old trunks of which the revolutionary axe had cut off the branches. In 1800, “the reëstablishment of a corporation shocked current ideas.”1 But the able administrators of the Consulate required volunteer women for service in their hospitals. In Paris, Chaptal, the minister, comes across a lady superior whom he formerly knew and enjoins her to gather together ten or a dozen of her surviving companions; he installs them in the rue Vieux-Colombier, in a building belonging to the hospitals, and which he furnishes for forty novices; at Lyons, he notices that the “Sisters” of the general hospital were obliged, that they might perform their duties, to wear a lay dress; he authorizes them to resume their costume and their crosses; he allows them two thousand francs to purchase necessaries, and, when they have donned their old uniform, he presents them to the First Consul. Such is the first sprout, very small and very feeble, that appears in the institution of Saint-Vincent de Paule at Paris and in that of Saint-Charles at Lyons. In our days,2 the congregation of Saint-Charles, besides the parent-house at Lyons, has 102 others with 2,226 nuns, and the congregation of Saint-Vincent de Paule, besides the parent-house at Paris, has 88 others with 9,130 nuns. Oftentimes, the new vegetation on the trunk amputated by the Revolution is much richer than on the old one; in 1789, the institution of the “Frères des Ecoles Chrétiennes” had 800 members; in 1845, there were 4,000; in 1878, 9,818; on the 31st of December, 1888, there were 12,245. In 1789, it counted 126 houses; in 1888, there were 1,286.—Meanwhile, alongside of the old plantations, a large number of independent germs, new species and varieties, spring up spontaneously, each with its own aim, rules and special denomination; on Good Friday, April 6, 1792, at the very date of the decree of the Legislative Assembly abolishing all religious communities,1 one is born, that of the “Sœurs de la Retraite Chrétienne,” at Fontenelle, and, from year to year, similar plants constantly and suddenly spring out of the ground for a century. The list is too long to be counted; a large official volume of more than four hundred pages is filled with the mere statement of their names, localities and statistics.—This volume, published in 1878, divides religious institutions into two groups. We find in the first one, comprising the legally authorized societies, at first 5 congregations of men possessing 224 establishments with 2,418 members, and 23 associations of men with 20,341 members and supplying 3,086 schools; next, 259 congregations of women and 644 communities which possess 3,196 establishments, supplying 16,478 schools and counting 113,750 members. In the second group, comprising unauthorized societies, we find 384 establishments of men with 7,444 members, and 602 establishments of women with 14,003 members,—in all, in both groups, 30,287 brethren and 127,753 sisters. Considering the total population, the proportion of brethren in 1789 and in our day is about the same; it is their spirit which has changed; at the present day, all desire to remain in their profession, while in 1789 two-thirds wanted to withdraw from it. As to the proportion of Sisters, it has increased beyond all calculation.1 Out of 10,000 women in the population, there were, in 1789, 28 Sisters; in 1866, 45; in 1878, 67.
Carmelites, Clarisses, Filles du Cœur de Jésus, Réparatrices, Sœurs du Saint-Sacrament, Visitandines, Franciscaines, Benedictines and others like these, about 4000 nuns or sisters, are contemplatists. The Carthusians, Cistercians, Trappists, and some others, about 1800 monks and brethren who, for the most part, till the ground, do not impose labor on themselves other than as an accessory exercise; their first and principal object is prayer, meditation and worship; they, too, devote their lives to contemplation on the other world and not to the service of this one. But all the others, more than 28,000 men and more than 123,000 women, are benefactors by institution and voluntary laborers, choosing to devote themselves to dangerous, revoltant, and at least ungrateful services—missions among savages and barbarians, care of the sick, of idiots, of the insane, of the infirm, of the incurable, the support of poor old men or of abandoned children; countless charitable and educational works, primary schools, orphan asylums, houses of refuge and prisons, and all gratuitously or at the lowest wages through a reduction of bodily necessities to the lowest point, and of the personal expenditure of each brother or sister.2 Evidently, with these men and with these women, the ordinary balance of motives which prompt people is reversed; in the inward balance of the scale it is no longer self-love which prevails against the love of others, but the love of others which prevails against self-love.—Let us look at one of their institutions just at the moment of its formation and see how the preponderance passes over from the egoistic to the social instinct. The first thing we always find at the origin of the enterprise is compassion; a few kind hearts have been moved at the aspect of misery, degradation and misconduct; souls or bodies were in distress and there was danger of shipwreck; three or four saviours have come to the rescue. At Rouen, in 1818, it is a poor girl who, by advice of her curé, brings together a few of her friends in her garret; during the day they study in a class and at night they work for their living; to-day, under the title of “Sœurs du Sacré-Cœur de Jésus,” they number eight hundred. Elsewhere, at Laval, the founder of the House of Refuge for poor repentants is a plain ironing-girl who began her “House” by charitably harboring two prostitutes; these brought others, and there are now a hundred of similar institutions. Most frequently, the founder is the desservant or vicar of the place, who, moved by local misery, fancies at first that he is doing only local work; thus, there is born in 1806 at Rouissé-sur-Loire the congregation of “La Providence,” which now has nine hundred and eighteen “Sisters,” in one hundred and ninety-three houses; in 1817, at Lovallat, the association of “Les Petits-Frères de Marie,” which numbers to-day three thousand six hundred brethren; in 1840, at Saint-Servan, the institution of “Les Petites-Sœurs des Pauvres,” who now number two thousand six hundred and eighty-five, and, with no other help but alms-giving, feed and care for, in their one hundred and fifty-eight houses, twenty thousand old men, of which thirteen thousand live in their ninety-three domiciles in France; they take their meals after the inmates, and eat only what they leave; they are prohibited from accepting any endowment whatever; by virtue of their rules they are and remain mendicants, at first, and especially, in behalf of their old men, and afterwards and as accessory, in their own behalf. Note the circumstances of the undertaking and the condition of the founders—they were two village work-women, young girls between sixteen and eighteen for whom the vicar of the parish had written short regulations (une petite règle); on Sunday, together in the cleft of a rock on the seaside, they studied and meditated over this little summary manual, performed the prescribed devotions, this or that prayer or orison at certain hours, saying their beads, the station in the church, self-examination and other ceremonies of which the daily repetition deposits and strengthens the supernatural mental conception. Such, over and above natural pity, is the superadded weight which fixes the unstable will and maintains the soul permanently in a state of abnegation.—At Paris, in the two halls of the Prefecture of Police, where prostitutes and female thieves remain for a day or two in provisional confinement, the “Sisters” of “Marie-Joseph,” obliged by their vows to live constantly in this sewer always full of human dregs, sometimes feel their heart failing them; fortunately, a little chapel is arranged for them in one corner where they retire to pray, and in a few minutes they return with their store of courage and gentleness again revived.—Father Etienne, superior of the “Lazarists” and of the “Filles de Saint-Vincent de Paule,” with the authority of long experience, very justly observed to some foreign visitors,1 “I have given you the details of our life, but I have not told you the secret of it. This secret, here it is—it is Jesus Christ, known, loved, and served in the Eucharist.”
In the thirteenth century, to the communicant on his knees about to receive the sacrament, the Host often faded out of sight; it disappeared, and, in its place, he saw an infant or the radiant features of the Saviour; according to the Church doctors, this was not an illusion but an illumination;1 the veil had lifted, and the soul found itself face to face with its object, Jesus Christ present in the Eucharist. This was second sight, infinitely superior in certainty and reach to the former, a direct, full view granted by grace from above, a supernatural view.—By this example, which is an extreme case, we comprehend in what faith consists. It is an extraordinary faculty operating alongside of and often in conjunction with our natural faculties; over and above things as our observation naturally presents them to us, it reveals to us a beyond, a majestic, grandiose world, the only one truly real and of which ours is but the temporary veil. In the depths of the soul, much below the superficial crust of which we have any conscience,2 impressions have accumulated like subterranean waters. There, under the dust and heat of inherent instincts, a living spring has burst forth, growing and bubbling in the obscurity; let a shock or a fissure intervene and it suddenly spouts up and forces its way above the surface; the man who has this within him and in whom it overflows is amazed at the inundation and no longer recognizes himself; the visible field of his conscience is completely changed and renewed; in place of his former vacillating and scattered thoughts he finds an irresistible and coherent belief, a precise conception, an intense picture, a passionate affirmation, sometimes even positive perceptions of a species apart and which come to him not from without but from within, not alone mere mental suggestions, like the dialogues of the “Imitation” and the “intellectual locutions” of the mystics, but veritable physical sensations like the details of the visions of Saint Theresa, the articulate voices of Joan of Arc and the bodily stigmata of Saint Francis.
In the first century, this beyond discovered by the mystic faculty was the kingdom of God, opposed to the kingdoms of this world;1 these kingdoms, in the eyes of those who revealed them, were worthless; through the keen insight of the moral and social instinct, these large, generous and simple hearts had divined the internal defect of all the societies or States of the century. Egoism in these was too great; there was in them a lack of charity,2 the faculty of loving another equally with one’s self, and thus of loving, not only a few, but all men, whoever they might be, simply because they were men, and especially the meek, the humble and the poor; in other words, the voluntary repression of the appetites by which the individual makes of himself a centre and subordinates other lives to himself, the renunciation of “the lusts of the flesh, of the eyes and of self-love, the insolences of wealth and luxury, of force and of power.”
1 Opposed to and in contrast with this human order of things, the idea of a divine order of things was born and developed itself—a Heavenly Father, his reign in heaven, and very soon, perhaps on the morrow, his reign here below; his Son descending to the earth to establish his reign and dying on the cross for the salvation of men; after him, his Spirit, sent by him, the inward breath which animates his disciples and continues his work; all men brethren and beloved children of the same common father; here and there spontaneous groups who have learned “these good tidings” and propagated them; small scattered communities which live in the expectation of an ideal order of things and yet, by anticipation, realizing it from this time forth; “All2 were of one heart and one soul, . . . for as many as were possessors of lands or houses sold them, and brought the prices of the things that were sold and laid them down at the apostles’ feet: and distribution was made unto every man according as he had need,” all happy in being together, in mutual love and in feeling themselves regenerate or pure.
Here, evidently, is a new motor in the soul, a regulator, a powerful, fresh, appropriate, effective organ, obtained through internal metamorphosis and change of being, like an insect provided with wings during its chrysalis stage. In every living organism, necessity, through tentative effort and selections, thus produces the possible and requisite organ. In India, five hundred years before our era, it was Buddhism; in Arabia, six hundred years after our era, it was Mahometanism; in our western societies it is Christianity. At the present day, after eighteen centuries on both continents, from the Ural to the Rocky Mountains, amongst Russian moujiks and American settlers, it works as formerly with the fishermen of Galilee and in the same way, in such a way as to substitute for the love of self the love of others; neither in substance nor in use has any change taken place; under its Greek, Catholic or Protestant envelope, it is still, for four hundred millions of human beings, the spiritual means, the great, indispensable pair of wings by which man rises upward above himself, above his grovelling existence and his limited horizons, leading him on through patience, hope and resignation to serenity, and beyond to temperance, purity, goodness, self-devotion and self-sacrifice. Always and everywhere, for the past eighteen hundred years, as soon as these wings grow feeble or give way, public and private morals degenerate. In Italy, during the Renaissance, in England under the Restoration, in France under the Convention and Directory, man becomes as pagan as in the first century; the same causes render him the same as in the times of Augustus and Tiberius, that is to say voluptuous and cruel: he abuses himself and victimizes others; a brutal, calculating egoism resumes its ascendency, depravity and sensuality spread, and society becomes a den of cut-throats and a brothel.
After contemplating this spectacle near by, we can value the contribution to modern societies of Christianity, how much modesty, gentleness and humanity it has introduced into them, how it maintains integrity, good faith and justice. In this service no philosophic reasoning, no artistic and literary culture, no feudal, military and chivalric honor, no code, no administration, no government is a substitute for it. There is nothing else to restrain our natal bent, nothing to arrest the insensible, steady, down-hill course of our race with the whole of its original burden, ever retrograding towards the abyss. Whatever its present envelope may be, the old Gospel still serves as the best auxiliary of the social instinct.
Among its three contemporary forms, that which groups together the most men, about one hundred and eighty millions of believers, is Catholicism, in other words, Roman Christianity, which two words, comprising a definition, contain a history. At the origin, on the birth of the Christian principle, it expressed itself at first in Hebrew, the language of prophets and of seers; afterwards, and very soon, in Greek, the language of the dialecticians and philosophers; at last, and very late, in Latin, the language of the jurisconsults and statesmen; then come the successive stages of dogma. All the evangelical and apostolic texts, written in Greek, all the metaphysical speculations,1 also in Greek, which served as commentary on these, reached the western Latins only through translations. Now, in metaphysics, Latin poorly translates the Greek2 ; it lacks both the terms and the ideas; what the Orient says, the Occident only half comprehends; it accepts this without dispute and confidently holds it as truth.3 At length in its turn, in the fourth century, when, after Theodosius, the Occident breaks loose from the Orient, it intervenes, and it intervenes with its language, that is to say with the provision of ideas and words which its culture provided; it likewise had its instruments of precision, not those of Plato and Aristotle, but others, as special, forged by Ulpian, Gaius and twenty generations of jurists through the original invention and immemorial labor of Roman genius. “To say what is law,” to impose rules of conduct on men, is, in abridged form, the entire practical work of the Roman people; to write this law out, to formulate and coördinate these rules, is, in abridged form, its entire scientific work, and with the Romans in the third, fourth and fifth centuries, during the decadence of other studies, the science of law was still in full force and vigor.1 Hence, when the Occidentals undertook the interpretation of texts and the elaboration of the Creed it was with the habits and faculties of jurisconsults, with the preoccupations and mental reservations of statesmen, with the mental and verbal instruments which they found suitable. In those days, the Greek doctors, in conflict with the monophysites and monothelites, brought out the theory of the divine essence; at the same date, the Latin doctors, opposing the Pelagians, Semi-Pelagians and Donatists, founded the theory of human obligation.2Obligation, said the Roman jurists, is a “lien of law” by which we are held to doing or suffering something to free us from indebtedness, and out of this juridical conception, which is a masterpiece of Roman jurisprudence, issued, as with a bud full of sap, the new development of the Creed.—On the one hand, we are obligated towards God, for, in relation to him, we are, in legal terms, insolvent debtors, heirs of an infinite debt, incapable of paying it and of satisfying our creditor except through the interposition of a superhuman third person1 who assumes our indebtedness as his own; still more precisely, we are delinquents, guilty from birth and by inheritance, condemned in a mass and then pardoned in a mass, but in such a way that this pardon, a pure favor, not warranted by any merit of our own, always remains continual and revocable at will; that, for a few only, it is or becomes plenary and lasting, that no one amongst us can be sure of obtaining it, and that its award, determined beforehand on high, forever remains for us a State secret. Hence the prolonged controversies on Predestination, Free-will and Original Sin, and the profound investigations on man before, during and after the Fall. Hence, also, the accepted solutions, not very conclusive and, if one pleases, contradictory, but practical, average and well calculated for maintaining mankind in faith and obedience, under the ecclesiastical and dogmatic government which, alone, is authorized to lead man on in the way of salvation.
On the other hand, we are obligated to the Church, for she is a cité, the city of God, and, following the Roman definition, the cité is not an abstract term, a collective term, but a real, positive existence, “the commonwealth” (chose publique), that is to say a distinct entity consisting of generations which succeed each other in it, of infinite duration and of a superior kind, divine or nearly so, which does not belong to individuals but to which they belong, an organized body, with special form and structure, based on traditions, constituted by laws and ruled by a government. The absolute authority of the community over its members and the despotic leadership of the community by its chiefs—such is the Roman notion of the State and, for much stronger reasons, of the Church. She, thus, is a militant, conquering, governing Rome, predestined to universal empire, a legitimate sovereign like the other one, but with a better title, for she derives hers from God. It is God who, from the beginning, has preconceived and prepared her, who has bodied her forth in the Old Testament and announced her through the prophets; it is the Son of God who has built her up, who, to all eternity, will never fail to maintain and guide her steps, who, through his constant inspiration, ever remains present in her and active through her. He has committed to her his revelation. She alone, expressly delegated by Christ, possesses second sight, the knowledge of the invisible, the comprehension of the ideal order of things as its Founder prescribed and instituted, and hence, accordingly, the custodianship and interpretation of the Scriptures, the right of framing dogmas and injunctions, of teaching and commanding, of reigning over souls and intellects, of fashioning belief and morals. Henceforth, the mystic faculty is to be confined within dikes. At bottom, this is the faculty for conceiving of the ideal, to obtain a vision of it, to have faith in this vision and to act upon it; the more precious it is the greater the necessity of its being under control. To preserve it from itself, to put it on guard against the empire and diversity of one’s senses, to prevent raving theoretically or practically on the side of laxity or of rigor, requires a government.
That this is a legacy of ancient Rome the Catholic Church does not dispute. She styles herself the Roman Church. She still writes and prays in Latin. Rome is always her capital; the title of her chief is that which formerly designated the head of the pagan cult; after 1378 all the Popes except five, and since 1523 all, have been Italians; at the present day, thirty-five out of sixty-four cardinals are likewise Italians. The Roman stamp becomes still more evident on comparing the millions of Christians who are Catholics with the millions of Christians who are not. Among the primitive annexations and ulterior acquisitions of the Roman Church, several have separated from her, those of the countries whose Greek, Sclavic and Germanic populations never spoke Latin and whose language is not derived from the Latin. Poland and Ireland are alone, or nearly so, the only countries which have remained loyal, because, with these, the Catholic faith, under the long pressure of public calamities, has become incorporated with national sentiment. Elsewhere the Roman alluvion is insignificant or was found not deep enough. On the contrary, all the populations that were once Latinized have at bottom remained Catholic; four centuries of imperial rule and of Roman assimilation have made deposits in them of layers of habits, ideas and sentiments which endure.1 To measure the influence of this historic layer it is sufficient to note that three elements compose it, all three contemporary, of the same origin and of the same thickness, a Roman language, the civil law of Rome, and Roman Christianity; each of these elements, through its consistence, indicates the consistence of the others.
Hence the profound and established characteristics by which the Catholic branch now distinguishes itself from the other two issuing from the same Christian trunk. With the Protestants, the Bible, which is the Word of God, is the sole spiritual authority; all the others, the Doctors, Fathers, tradition, Popes and Councils, are human and, accordingly, fallible; in fact, these have repeatedly and gravely erred.2 The Bible, however, is a text which each reader reads with his own eyes, more or less enlightened and sensitive, with eyes which, in Luther’s time, possessed the light and sensibility of the sixteenth century, and which, at the present time, read with the sensibility and light of the nineteenth century; so that, according to epochs and groups, the interpretation may vary, while authority, if not as regards the text, or at least its meaning, belongs wholly to the individual. With the Greeks and Sclavonians, as with the Catholics, it belongs only to the Church, that is to say to the heads of the Church, the successors of the apostles. But with the Greeks and Slavonians, since the ninth century, the Church had decreed no new dogmas; according to her, revelation had stopped; the creed was finished, final and complete, and there was nothing to do but to maintain it.—On the contrary, with the Catholics, after as before that date, the creed never ceased developing itself, always becoming more precise, and revelation kept on; the last thirteen councils were inspired like the first seven, while the first one, in which Saint Peter at Jerusalem figured, enjoyed no more prerogatives than the last one convoked by Pius IX. at the Vatican. The Church is not “a frozen corpse,”1 but a living body, led by an always active brain which pursues its work not only in this world but likewise in the next world, at first to define it and next to describe it and assign places in it; only yesterday she added two articles of faith to the creed, the immaculate conception of the Virgin and the infallibility of the Pope; she conferred ultra-terrestrial titles; she declared Saint Joseph patron of the universal Church; she canonized Saint Labre; she elevated Saint François de Sales to the rank of Doctor. But she is as conservative as she is active. She retracts nothing of her past, never rescinding any of her ancient decrees; only, with the explanations, commentaries and deductions of the jurist, she fastens these links closer together, forms an uninterrupted chain of them extending from the present time back to the New Testament and, beyond, through the Old Testament, to the origins of the world, in such a way as to coördinate around herself the entire universe and all history. Revelations and prescriptions, the doctrine thus built up is a colossal work, as comprehensive as it is precise, analogous to the Digest but much more vast; for, besides canon law and moral theology, she includes dogmatic theology, that is to say, besides the theory of the visible world, the theory of the invisible world and its three regions, the geography of Hell, Purgatory and Paradise, immense territories of which our earth is merely the vestibule, unknown territories inaccessible to sense and reason, but whose confines, entrances, issues and subdivisions, the inhabitants and all that concerns them, their faculties and their communications, are defined, as on Peutinger’s map and in the Notitia imperii romani, with extraordinary clearness, minutia and exactitude, through a combination of the positive spirit and the mystic spirit and by theologians who are at once Christians and administrators. In this relation, examine the “Somme” of Saint Thomas. Still at the present day his order, the Dominican, furnishes at Rome those who are consulted on matters of dogma; or rather, in order to abridge and transcribe scholastic formula into pictorial realities, read over the “Divine Comedy” by Dante1 ; this picture, probably as far as imagination goes, is still to-day the most exact as well as most highly-colored presentation of the human and divine world as the Catholic Church conceives it. She has charge of its keys and reigns and governs in it. The prestige of such a government over souls and intellects, very numerous, who by nature or through education are disciplinable, who repudiate personal initiation, who need imperative and systematic guidance, is sovereign, equal or superior to that of the old Roman State exercised over one hundred and twenty millions of souls. Outside of the Empire all seemed to these souls anarchy or barbarism; the same impression exists with the Catholics in relation to their Church. Whether spiritual or temporal, an authority has many chances for adoption and reverence when, always visible and everywhere present, it is neither arbitrary nor capricious, but orderly, restrained by texts, traditions, legislation and jurisprudence, derived from above and from a superhuman source, consecrated by antiquity and by the continuity, coherence and grandeur of its work, in short, by that character which the Latin tongue is alone capable of expressing and which it terms majesty.
Among the acts which religious authority prescribes to its subjects, there are some which it imposes in its own name—rites, outward ceremonies and other observances—of which the principal ones, in the Catholic catechism, form a sequence to the “commandments of God,” and which are entitled the “commandments of the Church.”—With the Protestants, where Church authority is almost gone, rites have almost disappeared; considered in themselves, they have ceased to be regarded as obligatory or meritorious; the most important ones, the Eucharist itself, have been retained only as commemorative or as symbolic; the rest, fasts, abstinences, pilgrimages, the worship of saints and the Virgin, relics of the cross, words committed to memory, genuflections and kneelings before images or altars, have been pronounced vain; in the way of positive injunctions none remain but the reading of the Bible, while duty in outward demonstration of piety is reduced to piety within, to the moral virtues, to truthfulness, probity, temperance and steadfastness, to the energetic determination to observe the watchword received by man in two forms and which he finds in two concordant examples, in the Scriptures as interpreted by his conscience, and in his conscience as enlightened by the Scriptures. As another consequence, the Protestant priest has ceased to be a delegate from on high, the indispensable mediator between man and God, alone qualified to give absolution and to administer the rites by which salvation is obtained; he is simply a man, graver, more learned, more pious and more exemplary than other men, but, like the others, married, father of a family and entering into civil life, in short a semi-layman. The laymen whom he leads owe him deference, not obedience; he issues no orders; he sentences nobody; the sermon in the pulpit of an assemblage is his principal, almost unique, office, and the sole purpose of this is instruction or an exhortation.—With the Greeks and Sclavonians, with whom the authority of the Church is merely conservative, all the observances of the twelfth century have subsisted, as rigorously in Russia as in Asia Minor or in Greece, although fastings and Lents, which Southern stomachs can put up with, are unhealthy for the temperaments of the North. Here, likewise, these observances have assumed capital importance. The active sap, withdrawn from theology and the clergy, flows nowhere else; these, in an almost paralyzed religion, constitute almost the sole vivifying organ, as vigorous and often more so, than ecclesiastical authority; in the seventeenth century, under the patriarch Nicon, thousands of “old believers,” on account of slight rectifications of the liturgy, the alteration of a letter in the Russian translation of the name of Jesus, and the sign of the cross made by three instead of two fingers, separated themselves and, to-day, these dissenters, multiplied by their sects, count by millions. Defined by custom, every rite is sacred, immutable, and, when exactly fulfilled, sufficient in itself and efficacious; the priest who utters the words and makes the motions is only one piece in the mechanism, one of the instruments requisite for a magic incantation; after his instrumentation, he falls back into his human negativity; he is nothing more than an employé paid for his ministration. And this ministration is not exalted in him by an extraordinary and visible renunciation, by perpetual celibacy, by continence promised and kept; he is married,1 father of a family, needy, obliged to shear his flock to support himself and those belonging to him, and therefore is of little consideration; he is without moral ascendency; he is not the pastor who is obeyed, but the official who is made use of.
The rôle of the priest in the Catholic Church is quite different. Through her theory of rites she confers on him incomparable dignity and real personal power. According to this theory, observances and ceremonies possess intrinsic and peculiar virtue; undoubtedly, these require some mental support, which is found in earnest piety; but earnest piety independent of these is not enough; it lacks the terminal prolongation, the meritorious accomplishment or “satisfaction,”1 the positive act by which we atone for our sins to God and demonstrate our obedience to the Church.2 It is the Church, the living interpreter of God’s will, which prescribes these rites; she is then the mistress of these and not the servant; she is empowered to adapt their details and forms to necessities and circumstances, to lighten or simplify them according to time and place, to establish the communion in one shape, to substitute the Host in place of bread, to lessen the number and rigor of the ancient Lents, to determine the effects of diverse pious works, to apply, ascribe and transfer their salutary effects, to assign proper value and reward to each devotional act, to measure the merit derived from them, the sins they efface and the pardons these obtain not only in this world but in the next one. By virtue of her administrative habits, and with the precision of a bookkeeper, she casts up her accounts of indulgences and notes on the margin the conditions for obtaining them,—a certain prayer repeated so many times on certain days and what for, so many days less in the great penitentiary into which every Christian, however pious, is almost sure to get on dying, this or that diminution of the penalty incurred, and the faculty, if the penitent rejects this deduction for himself, of bestowing the benefit on another. By virtue of her authoritative habits and the better to affirm her sovereignty, she regards as capital sins the omission of the rites and ceremonies she commands,—“not going to mass on Sunday or on fête-days;1 eating meat on Friday or Saturday unnecessarily;” not confessing and communing at Easter, a mortal sin which “deprives one of the grace of God and merits eternal punishment” as well as “to slay and to steal something of value.” For all these crimes, irremissible in themselves, there is but one pardon, the absolution given by the priest, that is to say, confession beforehand, itself being one of the observances to which we are bound by strict obligation and at the very least once a year.
Through this office the Catholic priest rises above human conditions to an immeasurable height; for, in the confessional, he exercises supreme power, that which God is to exercise at the Last Judgment, the formidable power of punishing or remitting sins, of judgment or of absolution, and, if he intervenes on the death-bed, the faculty of consigning the impenitent or repentant soul to an eternity of rewards or to an eternity of damnation.2 No creature, terrestrial or celestial, not even the highest of archangels, or St. Joseph or the Virgin,3 possesses this veritably divine prerogative. He alone holds it through exclusive delegation, by virtue of a special sacrament, the order which assigns to him the privilege of conferring five others, and which endows him for life with a character apart, ineffaceable and supernatural.—To render himself worthy of it, he has taken a vow of chastity, he undertakes to root out from his flesh and his heart the consequences of sex; he debars himself from marriage and paternity; through isolation, he escapes all family influences, curiosities and indiscretions; he belongs wholly to his office. He has prepared himself for it long beforehand, he has studied moral theology together with casuistry and become a criminal jurist; and his sentence is not a vague pardon bestowed on penitents after having admitted in general terms that they are sinners. He is bound to weigh the gravity of their errors and the strength of their repentance, to know the facts and details of the fall and the number of relapses, the aggravating or extenuating circumstances, and, therefore, to interrogate in order to sound the soul to its depths. If some souls are timorous, they surrender themselves to him spontaneously and, more than this, they have recourse to him outside of his tribunal; he marks out for them the path they must follow, he guides them at every turn; he interferes daily, he becomes a director as was said in the seventeenth century, the titular and permanent director of one or of many lives. This is still the case at the present day, and especially for women and for all nuns; the central conception around which all Roman ideas turn, the conception of the imperium and of government, has here found its perfect accomplishment and attained to its final extreme.
There are now of these spiritual governors about one hundred and eighty thousand, installed in the five regions of the world, each assigned to the leadership of about one thousand souls and as special guardian of a distinct flock, all ordained by bishops instituted by the Pope, he being absolute monarch and declared such by the latest council. In the new Rome as in the ancient Rome, authority has gradually become concentrated until it has centred in and is entrusted wholly to the hands of one man. Romulus, the Alban shepherd, was succeeded by Cæsar Augustus, Constantine or Theodosius, whose official title was “Your Eternal,” “Your Divine,” and who pronounced their decrees “immutable oracles.” Peter, the fisherman of Galilee, was succeeded by infallible pontiffs whose official title is “Your Holiness,” and whose decrees, for every Catholic, are “immutable oracles” in fact as in law, not hyperbolically, but in the full sense of the words expressed by exact terms. The imperial institution has thus formed itself anew; it has simply transferred itself from one domain to another; only, in passing from the temporal order of things to the spiritual order, it has become firmer and stronger, for it has guarded against two defects which weakened its antique model.—On the one hand, it has provided for the transmission of supreme power; in old Rome, they did not know how to regulate this; hence, when an interregnum occurred, the many violent competitors, the fierce conflicts, the brutalities, all the usurpations of force, all the calamities of anarchy. In Catholic Rome, the election of the sovereign pontiff belongs definitively to a college of prelates who vote according to established formalities; these elect the new pope by a majority of two-thirds, and, for more than four centuries, not one of these elections has been contested; between each defunct pope and his elected successor, the transfer of universal obedience has been prompt and unhesitating and, during as after the interregnum, no schism in the Church has occurred.—On the other hand, in the legal title of Cæsar Augustus there was a defect. According to Roman law, he was only the representative of the people; the community had delegated all its rights incorporate to him; but in it alone was omnipotence vested. According to canon law, omnipotence was vested solely in God; it is not the Catholic community which possesses this and delegates it to the Pope1 ; his rights accrue to him from another and higher source. He is not the elect of the people, but the interpreter, vicar and representative of Jesus Christ.
Such is the Catholic Church of to-day, a State constructed after the type of the old Roman empire, independent and autonomous, monarchical and centralized, with a domain not of territory but of souls and therefore international, under an absolute and cosmopolite sovereign whose subjects are likewise subjects of other sovereigns consisting of laymen. Hence, for the Catholic Church a situation apart in every country, more difficult than for Greek, Sclavic or Protestant churches; these difficulties vary in each country according to the character of the State and with the form which the Catholic Church has received in them. In France, since the Concordat, these difficulties are of greater gravity than elsewhere.
When, in effect, at the beginning, in 1802, the Church received her French form, this consisted of a complete systematic organization, by virtue of a general and regular plan, according to which she formed only one compartment of the whole. Napoleon, by his Concordat, organic articles and ulterior decrees, in conformity with the ideas of the century and the principles of the Constituent Assembly, desired to render the clergy of all kinds, and especially the Catholic clergy, one of the subdivisions of his administrative staff, a corps of functionaries, mere agents assigned to religious interests as formerly to civil matters and therefore manageable and revocable; all, in fact, in his hands, were so, comprising the bishops, since they at once tendered their resignations at his order. Still, at the present day all, except the bishops, are thus situated, having lost the ownership of their places and the independence of their lives, through the maintenance of the consular and imperial institutions, through removal, through the destruction of the canonical and civil guarantees which formerly protected the lower clergy, through the suppression of the officialité, through the reduction of chapters to the state of vain shadows, through the rupture or laxity of the local and moral tie which once attached every member of the clergy to a piece of land, to an organized body, to a territory, to a flock, and through the lack of ecclesiastical endowment, through the reduction of every ecclesiastic, even a dignitary, to the humble and precarious condition of a salaried dependent.1
A régime of this kind institutes in the body subject to it an almost universal dependence, and hence entire submission, passive obedience, and the stooping, prostrate attitude of the individual no longer able to stand upright on his own feet.2 The clergy to which it is applied cannot fail to be managed from above, which is the case with this one, through its bishops, the Pope’s lieutenant-generals, who give the countersign to all of them. Once instituted by the Pope, each bishop is the governor for life of a French province and all-powerful in his circumscription; we have seen to what height his moral and social authority has risen, how he has exercised his command, how he has kept his clergy under discipline and available, in what class of society he has found his recruits, through what drill and what enthusiasm every priest, including himself, is now a practised soldier and kept in check; how this army of occupation, distributed in ninety regiments and composed of fifty housand resident priests, is completed by special bodies of troops subject to still stricter discipline, by monastic corporations, by four or five thousand religious institutions, nearly all of them given to labor and benevolence; how, to the subordination and correct deportment of the secular clergy is added the enthusiasm and zeal of the regular clergy, the entire devotion, the wonderful self-denial of thirty thousand monks and of one hundred and twenty-seven thousand nuns; how this vast body, animated by one spirit, marches steadily along with all its lay supporters towards one end, ever the same, the maintenance of its dominion over all the souls that it has won over, and the conquest of all the souls over which it has not yet established its domination.
Nothing could be more antipathetic to the French State. Built up like the Church, after the Roman model, it is likewise authoritative and absorbent. In the eyes of Napoleon, all these priests appointed or sanctioned by him, who have sworn allegiance to him, whom he pays annually or quarterly, belong to him in a double sense, first under the title of subjects, and next under the title of clerks. His successors are still inclined to regard them in the same light; in their hands the State is ever what he made it, that is to say a monopolizer, convinced that its rights are illimitable and that its interference everywhere is legitimate, accustomed to governing all it can and leaving to individuals only the smallest portion of themselves, hostile to all bodies that might interpose between them and it, distrustful and ill-disposed towards all groups capable of collective action and spontaneous initiation, especially as concerns proprietary bodies. A self-constituted daily overseer, a legal guardian, a perpetual and minute director of moral societies as of local societies, usurper of their domains, undertaker or regulator of education and of charitable enterprises, the State is ever in inevitable conflict with the Church. The latter, of all moral societies, is the most active; she does not let herself be enslaved like the others, her soul is in her own keeping; her faith, her organization, her hierarchy and her code are all her own. Against the rights of the State based on human reason, she claims rights founded on divine revelation, and, in self-defence, she justly finds in the French clergy, as the State organized it in 1802, the best disciplined militia, the best classified, the most capable of operating together under one countersign and of marching in military fashion under the impulsion that its ecclesiastical leaders choose to give it.
Elsewhere, the conflict is less permanent and less sharp; the two conditions which aggravate it and maintain it in France are, one or both, wanting. In other European countries, the Church has not the French form imposed upon it and the difficulties are less; in the United States of America, not only has it not undergone the French transformation, but the State, liberal in principle, interdicts itself against interventions like those of the French State and the difficulties are almost null. Evidently, if there was any desire to attenuate or to prevent the conflict it would be through the first or the last of these two policies. The French State, however, institutionally and traditionally, always invasive, is ever tempted to take the contrary course.1 —At one time, as during the last years of the Restoration and the first years of the second Empire, it allies itself with the Church; each power helps the other in its domination, and in concert together they undertake to control the entire man. In this case, the two centralizations, one ecclesiastic and the other laic, both increasing and prodigiously augmented for a century, work together to overpower the individual. He is watched, followed up, seized, handled severely, and constrained even in his innermost being; he can no longer breathe the atmosphere around him; we can well remember the oppression which, after 1823 and after 1852, bore down on every independent character and on every free intellect.—At another time, as under the first and the third Republic, the State sees in the Church a rival and an adversary; consequently, it persecutes or worries it and we of to-day see with our own eyes how a governing minority, steadily, for a long time, gives offence to a governed majority where it is most sensitive; how it breaks up congregations of men and drives free citizens from their homes whose only fault is a desire to live, pray and labor in common; how it expels nuns and monks from hospitals and schools, with what detriment to the hospital and to the sick, to the school and to the children, and against what unwillingness and what discontent on the part of physicians and fathers of families, and at what bungling waste of public money, at what a gratuitous overburdening of taxation already too great.
Other disadvantages of the French system are still worse.—In this century, an extraordinary event occurs. Already, about the middle of the preceding century, the discoveries of savants, coördinated by the philosophers, had afforded the sketch in full of a great picture, still in course of execution and advancing towards completion, a picture of the physical and moral universe. In this sketch the point of sight was fixed, the perspective designed, the various distances marked out, the principal groups drawn, and its outlines were so correct that those who have since continued the work have little to add but to give precision to these and fill them up.1 In their hands, from Herschel and Laplace, from Volta, Cuvier, Ampère, Fresnel and Faraday to Darwin and Pasteur, Burnouf, Mommsen and Renan, the blanks on the canvas have been covered, the relief of the figures shown and new features added in the sense of the old ones, thus completing it without changing in any sense the expression of the whole, but, on the contrary, in such a way as to consolidate, strengthen and perfect the master-conception which, purposely or not, had imposed itself on the original painters, all, predecessors and successors, working from nature and constantly inviting a comparison between the painting and the model.—And, for one hundred years, this picture, so interesting, so magnificent, and the accuracy of which is so well guaranteed, instead of being kept private and seen only by select visitors, as in the eighteenth century, is publicly exposed and daily contemplated by an ever-increasing crowd. Through the practical application of the same scientific discoveries, owing to increased facilities for travel and intercommunication, to abundance of information, to the multitude and cheapness of books and newspapers, to the diffusion of primary instruction, the number of visitors has increased enormously.2 Not only has curiosity been aroused among the workmen in towns, but also with the peasants formerly plodding along in the routine of their daily labor, confined to their circle of six leagues in circumference. This or that small daily journal treats of divine and human things for a million of subscribers and probably for three millions of readers.—Of course, out of a hundred visitors, ninety of them are not capable of comprehending the sense of the picture; they give it only a cursory glance; moreover, their eyes are not properly educated for it, and they are unable to grasp masses and seize proportions. Their attention is generally arrested by a detail which they interpret in a counter-sense, and the mental image they carry away is merely a fragment or a caricature; at bottom, if they do come to see a magisterial work, it is through amour-propre and that the spectacle, which some of them enjoy, should not remain to a privileged few. Nevertheless, however imperfect and confused their impressions, however false and ill-founded their judgments, they have learned something important and one true idea of their visit remains with them: of the various pictures of the world not one is painted by the imagination but from nature.
Now, between this picture and that which the Catholic Church presents to them, the difference is enormous. Even with rude intellects, or otherwise occupied, if the dissimilarity is not clearly perceived it is vaguely felt; in default of scientific notions, the simple hearsays caught on the wing and which seem to have flickered through the mind like a flash of light over a hard rock, still subsist there in a latent state, amalgamating and agglutinating into a solid block until at length they form a massive, refractory sentiment utterly opposed to faith.—With the Protestant, the opposition is neither extreme nor definitive. His faith, which the Scriptures give him for his guidance, leads him to read the Scriptures in the original text and, hence, to read with profit, to call to his aid whatever verifies and explains an ancient text, linguistics, philology, criticism, psychology, combined with general and particular history; thus does faith lay hold on science as an auxiliary. According to diverse souls, the rôle of the auxiliary is more or less ample; it may accordingly adapt itself to the faculties and needs of each soul, and hence extend itself indefinitely, and already do we see ahead the time when the two collaborators, enlightened faith and respectful science, will together paint the same picture, or each separately paint the same picture twice in two different frames.—With the Sclavonians and Greeks, faith, like the Church and the rite, is a national thing; creed forms one body with the country, and there is less disposition to dispute it; besides, it is not irksome; it is simply a hereditary relic, a domestic memorial, a family icon, a summary product of an exhausted art no longer well understood and which has ceased to produce. It is rather sketched out than completed, not one feature having been added to it since the tenth century; for eight hundred years this picture has remained in one of the back chambers of the memory, covered with cobwebs as ancient as itself, badly lighted and rarely visited; everybody knows that it is there and it is spoken of with veneration; nobody would like to get rid of it, but it is not daily before the eyes so that it may be compared with the scientific picture.—Just the reverse with the Catholic picture. Each century, for eight hundred years, has applied the brush to this picture; still, at the present time we see it grow under our eyes, acquiring a stronger relief, deeper color, a more vigorous harmony, a more definite and striking expression. To the articles of belief which constitute the creed for the Greek and Sclavic church, thirteen subsequent councils have added to it many others, while the two principal dogmas decreed by the last two councils, Transubstantiation by the council of Trent and the Infallibility of the Pope by that of the Vatican, are just those the best calculated to hinder forever any reconciliation between science and faith.
Thus, for Catholic nations, the dissimilarity, instead of diminishing, is aggravated; both pictures, one painted by faith and the other by science, become more and more dissimilar, while the profound contradiction inherent in the two conceptions becomes glaring through their very development, each developing itself apart and both in a counter-sense, one through dogmatic verdicts and through the strengthening of discipline and the other by ever-increasing discoveries and by useful applications, each adding daily to its authority, one by precious inventions and the other by good works, each being recognized for what it is, one as the leading instructor of positive truths and the other as the leading instructor of sound morality. Hence, a combat and painful anxieties in the Catholic breast, as to which of the two conceptions must be accepted as guide. To every sincere mind and to one capable of entertaining both, each is irreducible to the other. To the vulgar mind, unable to combine both in thought, they exist side by side and clash with each other only occasionally when action demands a choice. Many intelligent, cultivated people, and even savants, especially specialists, avoid confronting them, one being the support of their reason and the other the guardian of their conscience; between them, in order to prevent any possible conflict, they interpose in advance a wall of separation, “a compartment partition,”1 which prevents them from meeting and clashing. Others, at length, clever or not too clear-sighted politicians, try to force their agreement, either by assigning to each its domain and in prohibiting mutual access, or by uniting both domains through the semblance of bridges, by imitation stairways, and other illusory communications which the phantasmagoria of human eloquence can always establish between incompatible things and which procure for man, if not the acquisition of a truth, at least a pleasure in the play of words. The ascendency of the Catholic faith over these uncertain, inconsequent, tormented souls is more or less weak or strong according to time, place, circumstance, individuals and groups; in the larger group it has diminished, while it has increased in the smaller one.
The latter comprises the regular and secular clergy with its approximate recruits and its small body of supporters; never was it so exemplary and so fervent; the monastic institution in particular never flourished so spontaneously and more usefully. Nowhere in Europe are more missionaries formed, so many “brethren” for small schools, so many volunteers, male and female, in the service of the poor, the sick, the infirm and of children, such vast communities of women freely devoting their lives to teaching and to charity.1 Life in common, under uniform and strict rules, to a people like the French, more capable than any other of enthusiasm and of emulation, of generosity and of discipline, naturally prone to equality, sociable and predisposed to fraternity through the need of companionship, sober, moreover, and laborious, a life in common is no more distasteful in the convent than in the barracks, nor in an ecclesiastical army more than in a lay army, while France, always Gallic, affords as ready a hold nowadays to the Roman system as in the time of Augustus. When this system obtains a hold on a soul it keeps its hold, and the belief it imposes becomes the principal guest, the sovereign occupant of the intellect. Faith, in this occupied territory, no longer allows her title to be questioned; she condemns doubt as a sin, she interdicts investigation as a temptation, she presents the peril of unbelief as a mortal danger, she enrolls conscience in her service against any possible revolt of reason. At the same time that she guards herself against attacks, she strengthens her possession; to this end, the rites she prescribes are efficient, and their efficiency, multiplicity and convergence—confession and communion, retreats, spiritual exercises, abstinences, and ceremonies of every kind, the worship of saints and of the Virgin, of relics and images, orisons on the lips and from the heart, faithful attendance on the services and the exact fulfilment of daily duties—all attest it.
Through its latest acquisitions and the turn it now takes, Catholic faith buries itself in and penetrates down to the very depths of the sensitive and tried souls which it has preserved from foreign influences; for it supplies to this chosen flock the aliment it most needs and which it loves the best. Below the metaphysical, abstract Trinity, of which two of the three persons are out of reach of the imagination, she has set up an historical Trinity whose personages are all perceptible to the senses, Mary, Joseph and Jesus. The Virgin, since the dogma of the Immaculate Conception, has risen to an extraordinary height; her spouse accompanies her in her exaltation;1 between them stands their son, child or man, which forms the Holy Family.2 No worship is more natural and more engaging to chaste celibates in whose brain a pure, vague vision is always present, the revery of a family constituted without the intervention of sex. No system of worship furnishes so many precise objects for adoration, all the acts and occurrences, the emotions and thoughts of three adorable lives from birth to death and in the beyond, down to the present day. Most of the religious institutions founded within the past eighty years devote themselves to meditation on one of these lives considered at some one point of incident or of character, either purity, charity, compassion or justice, conception, nativity or infancy, presence in the Temple, at Nazareth, at Bethany, or on Calvary, the passion, the agony, the assumption or apparition under this or that circumstance or place, and the rest. There are now in France, under the name and patronage of Saint Joseph alone, one hundred and seventeen congregations and communities of women. Among so many appellations, consisting of special watchwords designating and summing up the particular preferences of a devout group, one name is significant; there are seventy-nine congregations or communities of women which have devoted themselves to the heart of Mary or of Jesus or to both together.1 In this way, besides the narrow devotion which is attached to the corporeal emblem, a tender piety pursues and attains its supreme end, the mute converse of the soul, not with the dim Infinite, the indifferent Almighty who acts through general laws, but with a person, a divine person clothed with the vesture of humanity and who has not discarded it, who has lived, suffered and loved, who still loves, who, in glory above, welcomes there the effusions of his faithful souls and who returns love for love.
All this is incomprehensible, bizarre or even repulsive to the public at large, and still more so to the vulgar. It sees in religion only what is very plain, a government; and in France, it has already had enough of government temporally; add a complementary one on the spiritual side and that will be more and too much. Alongside of the tax-collector and the gendarme in uniform, the peasant, the workman and the common citizen encounter the curé in his cassock who, in the name of the Church, as with the other two in the name of the State, gives him orders and subjects him to rules and regulations. Now every rule is annoying and the latter more than the others; one is rid of the tax-collector after paying the tax, and of the gendarme when no act is committed against the law; the curé is much more exacting; he interferes in domestic life and in private matters and assumes to govern man entirely. He admonishes his parishioners in the confessional and from the pulpit, he lords it over them even in their inmost being, and his injunctions bind them in every act, even at home, around the fireside, at table and in bed, comprising their moments of repose and relaxation, even hours of leisure and the time they give to the dramshop. Villagers, after listening to a sermon against the tavern and drunkenness, murmur and are heard to exclaim: “Why does he meddle with our affairs? Let him say his mass and leave us alone.” They need him for baptism, marriage and burial, but their affairs do not concern him. Moreover, among the observances he prescribes, many are inconvenient, tasteless or disagreeable—fastings, Lent, a passive part in a Latin mass, prolonged services, ceremonies of which the details are all insignificant, but of which the symbolic meaning is to-day of no account to people in attendance; add to all this the mechanical recitation of the Pater and of the Ave, genuflections and crossing one’s self, and especially obligatory confession at specified dates. The laboring man, nowadays, does without these constraints as well as the peasant. In many villages, there is nobody at high mass on Sundays but women, and often, in small numbers, one or two troops of children led by the clerical instructor and by the “Sister,” with a few old men; the great majority of the men remain outside, under the porch and on the square before the church, chatting with each other about the crops, on local news and on the weather.
In the eighteenth century, when a curé was obliged to report to the “intendant” the number of inhabitants of his parish, he had only to count his communicants at the Easter service; their number was about that of the adult and valid population, say one half or two fifths of the sum total.1 Now, at Paris, out of two millions of Catholics who are of age, about one hundred thousand perform this strict duty, aware of its being strict and the imperative prescription of which is stamped in their memory by a rhyme which they have learned in their infancy;1 out of one hundred persons, this is equal to five communicants, of which four are women and one is a man, in other words, about one woman out of twelve or thirteen and one man out of fifty. In the provinces,2 and especially in the country, there is good reason for doubling and even tripling these figures; in the latter case, the most favorable one and, without any doubt, the rarest, the proportion of professed Christians is that of one to four among women and one man out of twelve. Evidently, with the others who make no profession, with the three women and the eleven other men, their faith is only verbal; if they are still Catholics, it is on the outside and not within.
Besides this separation from the main body and this indifference, other signs denote disaffection and even hostility.—In Paris, at the height of the Revolution, in May and June 1793, the shopkeepers, artisans and market-women, the whole of the common people, were still religious,3 “kneeling in the street” when the Host passed by, and before the relics of Saint Leu carried along in ceremonial procession, passionately fond of his worship, and suddenly melted, “ashamed, repentant and with tears in their eyes,” when, inadvertently, their Jacobin rulers tolerated the publicity of a procession. Nowadays, among the craftsmen, shopkeepers and lower class of employés, there is nothing more unpopular than the Catholic Church. Twice, under the Restoration and the second Empire, she has joined hands with a repressive government, while its clergy has seemed to be not merely an efficient organ but, again, the central promoter of all repression.—Hence, accumulated bitterness that still survives. After 1830, the archbishopric of Saint-Germain l’Auxerrois is sacked; in 1871 the archbishop and other ecclesiastical hostages are murdered. For two years after 1830 a priest in his cassock dared not show himself in public;1 he ran the risk of being insulted in the streets; since 1871, the majority of the Parisian electors, through the interposition of the Municipal Council which they elect over and over again, persists in driving “Brethren” and “Sisters” from the schools and hospitals in order to put laymen in their places and pay twice as much for work not done as well.2 In the beginning, antipathy was confined to the clergy; through contagion, it has extended to doctrine, to faith, to entire Catholicism and even to Christianity itself. Under the Restoration, they were styled, in polemic language, the priest party, and under the second Empire, the clericals; afterwards, confronting the Church and under a contrary name, the anti-clerical league was formed by its adversaries, a sort of negative church which possesses, or tries to, its own dogmas and rites, its own assemblies and discipline; in the mean time, for lack of something better, it has its own fanaticism, that of aversion; on the word being given, it marches, rank and file, against the other, its enemy, and manifests, if not its belief, at least its unbelief in refusing or in avoiding the ministration of the priest. In Paris, twenty funerals out of a hundred, purely civil, are not held in a church; out of one hundred marriages, twenty-five, purely civil, are not blessed by the Church; twenty-four infants out of a hundred are not baptized.1
And, from Paris to the provinces, both sentiment and example are propagated. For sixteen years, in our parliaments elected by universal suffrage, the majority maintains that party in power which wars against the Church; which, systematically and on principle, is and remains hostile to the Catholic religion; which has its own religion for which it claims dominion; which is possessed by a doctrinal spirit, and, in the direction of intellects and souls, aims at substituting this new spirit for the old one; which, as far as it can, withdraws from the old one its influence, or its share in education and in charity; which breaks up the congregations of men, and overtaxes congregations of women; which enrolls seminarians in the army, and deprives suspect curés of their salaries; in short, which, through its acts collectively and in practice, proclaims itself anti-Catholic. Many of its acts certainly displease the peasant. He would prefer to retain the teaching “brother” in the public school and the “sister” in the hospital as nurse or as teacher in the school; both would cost less, and he is used to their dark dresses and their white caps; moreover, he is not ill-disposed towards his resident curé, who is a “good fellow.” Nevertheless, in sum, the rule of the curé is not to his taste; he does not wish to have him back, and he distrusts priests, especially the aspect of their allies who now consist of the upper bourgeoisie and the nobles. Hence, out of ten million electors, five or six millions, entertaining partial dislikes and mute reservations, continue to vote, at least provisionally, for anti-Christian radicals. All this shows that, through an insensible and slow reaction, the great rural mass, following the example of the great urban mass, is in train to again become pagan1 ; for one hundred years the wheel turns in this sense, without stopping, and this is serious, still more serious for the nation than for the Church.—In France, as things are, inward Christianity, through the double effect of its Catholic and French envelope, has grown warmer in the cloister and cooler in society, and it is in society that its heat is essential.
Mémorial, iv., 259 (June 7 and 8, 1816); v., 323 (Aug. 17, 1816).
Thibaudeau, p. 152 (Prairial 21, year x).
Mémorial, iv., 259 (June 7 and 8, 1816).—Pelet de la Lozère, “Opinions de Napoléon au conseil d’état,” p. 223 (March 4, 1806).
“Discours, rapports et travaux sur le Concordat de 1801,” by Portalis (published by Frédéric Portalis), p. 10.—In his speech on the organization of cults (Germinal 15, year x), Portalis, although a good Catholic, adopts the same idea, because he is a legist and one of the Ancient Régime. “Religions, even false, have this advantage, that they are an obstacle to the introduction of arbitrary doctrines. Individuals have a centre of faith; governments have no fear of dogmas once known and which do not change. Superstition, so to say, is regulated, circumscribed and kept within bounds which it cannot, or dare not, go outside of.”
Thibaudeau, p. 151 (Prairial 21, year x). “The First Consul combated at length the different systems of the philosophy on cults, natural religion, deism, etc. All that, according to him, was mere ideology.”
Pelet de la Lozère, p. 208 (May 22, 1804).
Thibaudeau, p. 152 (Prairial 21, year x).
Pelet de la Lozère, p. 223 (March 4, 1806).
Rœderer, “Œuvres complètes,” iii., 334 (Aug. 18, 1800).
M. Bignon, official and special interpreter, in Napoleon’s mind, on diplomatic matters, says in relation to the oath imposed by the Concordat, “This oath made the clergy a sort of sacred gendarmerie.”
Pelet de la Lozère, p. 205 (February 11, 1804).
Ibid., p. 201.
Pelet de la Lozère, p. 206, (Feb. 11, 1804).
Mémorial, v., 323 (Aug. 17, 1816).
Pelet de la Lozère, p. 201.
Mémorial, v., 353 (Aug. 17, 1816). Notes on “Les Quatre Concordats,” by M. de Pradt (Correspondence of Napoleon I., xxx., p. 557).
Bourrienne, “Mémoires,” v., 232.
Notes on “Les Quatre Concordats,” by M. de Pradt (Correspondence of Napoleon I., xxx., 638 and 639).
Thibaudeau, p. 152 (Prairial 21, year x).
Notes on “Les Quatre Concordats,” by M. de Pradt (Correspondence, xxx., 638).
Count Boulay de La Meurthe, “Négociations du Concordat.” (Extract from the “Correspondant,” 1882, on the religious state of France in November, 1800, and particularly on the condition of the constitutional Church, the latter being very poor, disunited, with no credit and no future.) The writer estimates the number of active priests at 8000, of which 2000 are constitutionnels and 6000 orthodox.
Thibaudeau, p. 152.
Thibaudeau, p. 154 (words of the First Consul): “What makes the government liked is its respect for worship. . . . The priests must be connected with the government.”
Ibid., p. 154: “Is it not better to organize worship and discipline the priests rather than let things go on as they are?”
La Fayette, “Mémoires,” ii., 200. (“Mes rapports avec le Premier Consul.”)
D’Haussonville, “l’Église romaine et la Premier Empire,” ii., 78 and 101. Napoleon’s letters to Cardinal Fesch, Jan. 7, 1806; to the Pope, Feb. 22, 1806; and to Cardinal Fesch, of the same date. “His Holiness will have the same consideration for me in temporal matters as I have for him in spiritual matters. . . . My enemies will be his enemies.”—“Tell people (in Rome) that I am Charlemagne, the sword of the Church, their emperor; that I must be treated the same; that they should not know that there was a Russian empire. . . . If the Pope does not accept my conditions, I shall reduce him to the condition he was in before Charlemagne.”
Decree, May 17, 1809. “Whereas, when Charlemagne, emperor of the French, and our august predecessor, donated several counties to the bishops of Rome, he gave them only under the title of fiefs and for the welfare of his own states, and as by the said donation Rome did not thereby cease to form part of his empire, . . . the states of the Pope are now reunited to the French empire.”
Sénatus-consulte, Feb. 17, 1810, title ii., article xii. “Any foreign sovereignty is incompatible with the exercise of any spiritual sovereignty within the empire.”
D’Haussonville, ibid., iv., 344. (Decree of the National Council, Aug. 5, 1811.—Concordat of Fontainebleau, Jan. 25, 1813, article 14.—Decree on the execution of this Concordat, March 23, 1813, art. 4.)
Sénatus-consulte, Feb. 17, 1810, articles 13 and 14.
Mémorial, Aug. 17, 1816.
Sénatus-consulte, Feb. 17, 1810.
Notes by Napoleon on the “Les Quatre Concordats de M. de Pradt” (Correspondence, xxx., 550). Lanfrey, “Histoire de Napoléon,” v., 214. (Along with the Vatican archives, there were brought to Paris the tiara and other insignia or ornaments of pontifical dignity.)
Sénatus-consulte, Feb. 17, 1810.
Notes by Napoleon on “Les Quatre Concordats” (Correspondence, xxx., 518).
Cf. Roman laws on the Collegia illicita, the first source of which is the Roman conception of religion, the political and practical use of augurs, auspices and sacred fowls.—It is interesting to trace the long life and survivorship of this important idea from antiquity down to the present day; it reappears in the Concordat and in the Organic Articles of 1801, and still later in the late decrees dissolving unauthorized communities and closing the convents of men.—French legists, and in particular Napoleon’s legists, are profoundly imbued with the Roman idea. Portalis, in his exposition of the motives for establishing metropolitan seminaries (March 14, 1804), supports the decree with Roman law. “The Roman laws,” he says, “place everything concerning the cult in the class of matters which belong essentially to public rights.”
Thibaudeau, p. 152.
“Discours, rapports et travaux sur le Concordat de 1801,” by Portalis, p. 87 (on the Organic Articles), p. 29 (on the organization of cults). “The ministers of religion must not pretend to share in or limit public power. . . . Religious affairs have always been classed by the different national codes among matters belonging to the upper police department of the State. . . . The political magistrate may and should intervene in everything which concerns the outward administration of sacred matters. . . . In France, the government has always presided, in a more or less direct way, over the direction of ecclesiastical affairs.”
“Discours, rapports, etc.,” by Portalis, p. 31.—Ibid., p. 143: “To sum up. The Church possesses only a purely spiritual authority; sovereigns, as political magistrates, regulate temporal and mixed questions with entire independence, and, as protectors, they have the same right to see to the execution of canons and to repress, even in spiritual matters, the infractions of pontiffs.”
Articles Organiques. 1st. Catholic cult, articles 3, 4, 23, 24, 35, 39, 44, 62. 2d. Protestant cults, articles 4, 5, 11, 14, 22, 26, 30, 31, 32, 37, 38, 39, 41, 42, 43. Israelite cult, decree of March 17, 1808, articles 4, 8, 9, 16, 23. Decree of execution, same date, articles 2 and 7.
Decree of March 17, 1808, articles 12, 21.
Articles Organiques (Protestant cults), 12 and 13.
Articles Organiques (Catholic cult), 24. Teachers selected for the seminaries “will subscribe the declaration made by the clergy of France in 1682; they will submit to teaching the doctrine therein set forth.”
“Discours, rapports, etc.,” by Portalis, p. 101.
Ibid., p. 378.
Abbé Sicard, “Les Dispensateurs des bénéfices ecclésiastiques” (in the “Correspondant,” Sep. 10, 1889, p. 883). A benefice was then a sort of patrimony which the titulary, old or ill, often handed over to one of his relatives. “A canonist of the eighteenth century says that the resignation carried with it one third of the income.”
D’Haussonville, iii., p. 438. (Narrative of M. Pasquier.)
Report of Siméon to the tribunat on presenting to it the Concordat and Organic Articles, Germinal 17, year x.—Henceforth “the ministers of all cults will be subject to the influence of the government which appoints or confirms them, to which they are bound by the most sacred promises, and which holds them in its dependence by their salaries.”
“Discours, rapports, etc.,” by Portalis, p. 40. Émile Ollivier, “Nouveau manuel de droit ecclésiastique,” p. 193. (Reply by Portalis to the protests of the Holy See, Sep. 22, 1803.) Before 1709 Portalis writes: “The spectacle presented by the monks was not very edifying. . . . The legislature having decided that religious vows could not be taken up to twenty-one years of age, . . . this measure keeps novices away; the monastic orders, sapped by the state of morals and by time, could obtain no recruits; they languished in a state of inertia and of disfavor which was worse than annihilation. . . . The era for monastic institutions had passed.”
Pelet de la Lozère, p. 146. (Words of Napoleon, March 11, 1806.)
Pelet de la Lozère, p. 207 (May 22, 1804).
Decree of Messidor 3, year xii (June 22, 1804).—Letter of Napoleon to the King of Naples, April 14, 1807, on the suppression of convents at Naples: “You know that I don’t like monks, as I have uprooted them everywhere.” To his sister Elisa, May 17, 1806: “Keep on and suppress the convents.”
“État des congrégations, communantés et associations religieuses,” drawn up in execution of article 12 of the law of Dec. 12, 1876 (Imprimerie nationale, 1878): 1st. Congregations of women with a general superior, nurses and teachers, authorized from Prairial 28, year xi, to January 13, 1813, total, 42; 2d. Communities of women without a general superior, nurses and teachers, authorized from April 9, 1806, to Sept. 28, 1813, total, 205.
Ibid., Brethren of the Christian Schools, namely, of Saint Yon, authorized March 17, 1808.
Ibid., Congregation of the Mission of Saint-Lazare, authorized Prairial 17, year xi.—Congregation of the Seminary of Foreign Missions, authorized Germinal 2, year xiii.
Pelet de la Lozère, p. 208 (May 22, 1804).
Pelet de la Lozère, p. 209.
Decree of March 17, 1808, article 109.
Alexis Chevalier, “Les Frères des écoles chrétiennes après la Révolution,” p. 93. (Report by Portalis approved by the First Consul, Frimaire 10, year xii.) “Henceforth,” says Portalis, “the superior-general at Rome abandons all inspection of the Christian Brothers. In France, it is understood that the Brothers will have a superior general resident at Lyons.”
D’Haussonville, v., p. 148.
D’Haussonville, v., p. 148. Letter of Napoleon to the Minister of Worship, March 3, 1811 (omitted in the published correspondence).
Ibid., iv., p. 133. (Letter by Napoleon, Sep. 2, 1809, omitted in the “Correspondence.”)
Concordat, articles 4, 5, 16.
Articles Organiques, i., pp. 2, 6.
Code pénal, decree of Feb. 16-20, 1810, article 207.
Napoleon’s own expressions: “I may regard myself as the head of the Catholic ministry, since the Pope has crowned me.” (Pelet de la Lozère, p. 210, July 17, 1806.)—Note the word crowned (sacré). Napoleon, as well as former kings, considers himself as clothed with ecclesiastical dignity.
On the sense and bearing of Gallican maxims cf. the whole of the answer by Portalis to Cardinal Caprara. (Émile Ollivier, “Nouveau manuel de droit ecclésiastique,” p. 150.)
Decree of Feb. 25, 1810. (The edict of Louis XIV. is attached to it.) Prohibition to teach or write “anything opposed to the doctrine contained” in the declaration of the French clergy. Every professor of theology must sign “and submit to teaching the doctrine therein set forth.”—In establishments where there are several professors “one of them will be annually directed to teach the said doctrine.”—In colleges where there is but one professor “he will be obliged to teach it one of three consecutive years.”—The professors are required to hand in to the competent authority “their minutes dictated to the pupils.”—None of them can be “licensed, whether in theology or in canon law, nor graduated as doctor, without having maintained the said doctrine in one of his theses.”
Cf., for details, d’Haussonville, i., p. 200 et seq.
Pelet de la Lozère, p. 205. (Words of Napoleon, Feb. 4, 1804.)
Thibaudeau, p. 157 (Messidor 2, year x).
Rœderer, iii., pp. 535, 567.
Pelet de la Lozère, p. 203. (Napoleon’s words, Feb. 4, 1804.)—Law of March 14, 1804.
Cf. “Letters of Mgr. Claude Simon, bishop of Grenoble, April 18, 1809, and October 6, 1811.”
Articles Organiques, p. 68.
Bercastel and Henrion, “Histoire générale de l’Église,” xiii., p. 32. (Speech by M. Roux-Laborie, deputy in 1816.)—At the present day, the ordinations oscillate between 1200 and 1700 per annum.
Decree of November 15, 1811, articles 28, 29, 32. “On and after July 1, 1812, all secondary ecclesiastical schools (small seminaries) which may not be situated in towns possessing a lycée or college shall be closed. No secondary ecclesiastical school shall be placed in the country. In all places where there are ecclesiastical schools the pupils of these schools shall pursue their studies in the lycée or college classes.”
“Correspondence of Napoleon (notes for the Minister of Worship), July 30, 1806.” In order to be curé of the first class, chanoin, vicar-general or bishop one must henceforth be bachelor, licencié, doctor in the university grades, “which the university may refuse in case the candidate shall be known to entertain ultramontane ideas or ideas dangerous to authority.”
D’Haussonville, v., p. 144 et seq. (Letter of Napoleon to the Minister of Worship, Oct. 22, 1811, omitted in the “Correspondence.”) The letter ends with these words: “This mode of acting must be kept secret.”
“Histoire de M. Emery,” by Abbé Elie Méric, ii., p. 374. The order of expulsion (June 13, 1810) ends with these words: “Immediate possession is to be taken of the house which might belong to some domain and which, at least in this case, could be considered as public property, since it might belong to a congregation. If it is found to be private property belonging to M. Emery or to any other person, the rents might first be paid and then afterwards it might be required, save indemnity, as useful for the public service.” This shows in full the administrative and fiscal spirit of the French State, its heavy hand being always ready to fall imperiously on every private individual and on all private property.
Letter of Napoleon, Oct. 8, 1811.
Ibid. Nov. 22, 1811.
D’Haussonville, v., p. 282. (Letter of Napoleon, Aug. 14, 1813, omitted in the “Correspondence.”)—“Mémoires” du Chancelier Pasquier, iv., p. 358.
Rœderer, iii., p. 430 (Germinal 19, year x): “The legate was received today in the consular palace; in making his speech, he trembled like a leaf.”
Pelet de la Lozère, p. 206 (May 22, 1804).
Decrees of May 31, 1804, Dec. 26, 1804, and Sep. 30, 1807, with the list of succursals by departments.—Besides the succursalists paid by the State, there were vicars not less dependent on the bishop and maintained by allowances from the communes or by private donations. (Bercastel et Henrion, xiii., p. 32, speech by M. Roux-Laborie in the Chamber of Deputies, 1816.) “In his re-composition of the Church of France the usurper established 12,000 vicars dependent on alms, and it will not surprise you that, instead of 12,000, there were only 5000 who were courageous enough to die of starvation or implore public charity. . . Thus are 4000 country churches without worship or minister,”
Thibaudeau, p. 166, and article of Brumaire 30, in the Moniteur.
Rœderer, iii., p. 479 et seq. (Report on the Senatorerie of Caen.) The priests everywhere feel that they are watched and set aside. “Most of those I encounter exclaim, Poor curé, an unfortunate curé. The functionaries are devoted to the Emperor as their sole support against the nobles, whom they dread, and against the priests, whom they slightly esteem. . . . The military, the judges, the administrators when alluding to the priests or to religion merely smile; the priests, on the other hand, express very little confidence in the functionaries.”
Decree of Sep. 30, 1804 (with the allotment of 800 scholarships and 1600 demi-scholarships to each diocesan seminary). These will be allowed us on being presented by the bishops.
D’Haussonville, ii., p. 227.
Idem, iv., p. 366. Order of arrest of M. d’Avian, archbishop of Bordeaux, as one of the opponents of the Council (July 11, 1811). Savary himself, Minister of Justice, raises objections. “Sire, do nothing with M. d’Avian. He is a saint and we shall have everybody against us.”
Idem, iv., p. 58. Address of the ecclesiastical commission enumerating the favors granted to religion, “the Legion of Honor, conferred on many prelates, the titles of baron and count assigned to bishops and archbishops of the Empire, the admission of several of these to the legislative assembly and senate.”
D’Haussonville, iv., p. 366. (Last session of the national council, August 5, 1811.)
Idem, i., pp. 203-205.
Idem, ii., p. 228. Cf. the “Almanach impérial de 1806-1814.”—Lanfrey, “Histoire de Napoléon,” v., p. 208. The Prince de Rohan, head chaplain, writes in a request he makes, The great Napoleon is my tutelary divinity. On the margin of this request Napoleon attaches the following decision: “The Duc de Frioul will pay to the head chaplain 12,000 francs—tax on receipts of the theatres.” (Feb. 15, 1810.) Another example of the same type is M. Roquelaure, archbishop of Malines, who addresses Josephine with a little ancient-régime speech, at once episcopal and gallant. The First Consul, therefore, makes him Member of the Institute. (Bourrienne, v., p. 130.) This archbishop, in the administration of his diocese, zealously applies the policy of the First Consul. “We have seen him suspend from his functions a priest who had exhorted a dying man to restore ecclesiastical property which he had taken.” (“Dictionnaire biographique,” published at Leipsic by Eymery, 1806, 1808.)
D’Haussonville, ii., 231.
Rœderer, iii., p. 459 (December 30, 1802).
D’Haussonville, ii., 257. (Report by Portalis to the Emperor, Feb. 13, 1806.)—Idem, ii., 226.
D’Haussonville, ii., 237, 239, 272.—Pelet de la Lozère, 201: “At other times Napoleon praised the priests, wanted their services, largely attributing the departure of conscripts and the submission of the people to their influence.”—Idem, 173 (May 20, 1806, words of Napoleon): “The Catholic priests behave very well and are of great service. It is owing to them that the conscription this year has been better than in former years. . . . No branch of the State speaks so well of the government.”
D’Haussonville, iii., iv. and v., passim.
“Mémoires,” by the Chancelier Pasquier, iv., 358.
D’Haussonville, iv., 366 (last phrase of the text): “A deputation of six bishops will go and beg His Holiness to confirm this decree.”
To an ordinary reader, even Catholic, if not versed in canon law, Napoleon’s exactions seem mediocre and even acceptable; they reduce themselves down to fixing a delay and seeming to add to the competency of councils and the authority of bishops. (D’Haussonville, iv., 366, session of the council, Aug. 5, 1811, propositions adopted and decree. Cf. the Concordat of Fontainebleau, Jan. 25, 1813, article 4.)
D’Haussonville, iv., 121 and following pages. (Letters of the prefect, M. de Chabrol, letters of Napoleon not inserted in the “Correspondence,” narration of Dr. Claraz.) 6000 francs, a present to the bishop of Savona, 12,000 francs salary to Dr. Porta, the Pope’s physician. “Dr. Porta,” writes the prefect, “seems disposed to serve us indirectly with all his power. . . . Efforts are made to affect the Pope either by all who approach him or by all the means in our power.”
Ibid. (Letters of M. de Chabrol, May 14 and 30, 1811.) “The Pope has fallen into a state of stupor. . . . The physician fears a case of hypochondria; . . . his health and reason are affected.” Then, in a few days: “The state of mental alienation has passed.”
Mémorial (Aug. 17, 1816).
D’Haussonville, v., 244. Later, the Pope keeps silent about his interviews with Napoleon. “He simply lets it be understood that the emperor spoke to him haughtily and contemptuously, even treating him as an ignoramus in ecclesiastical matters.”—Napoleon met him with open arms and embraced him, calling him his father. (Thiers, xv., 295.)—It is probable that the best literary portrayal of these tête-à-tête conversations is the imaginary scene in “Grandeurs et Servitudes Miltaires,” by Alfred de Vigny.
Comte Chaptal, “Notes”: “No, in the course of sixteen years of a stormy government, Bonaparte never met with so much resistance and never suffered so many disappointments as were caused by his quarrel with the Pope. There is no event in his life which more alienated the people as his proceedings and conduct towards the Pope.”
Artaud, “Histoire de Pie VII.,” i., 167.
Comte d’Haussonville, “L’Église romaine et le premier Empire, iv., 378, 415. (Instructions for the ecclesiastical commission of 1811.) “The Pope exercised the authority of universal bishop at the time of the re-establishment of the cult in France. . . . The Pope, under the warrant of an extraordinary and unique case in the Church, acted, after the Concordat, as if he had absolute power over the bishops.” (Speech by Bigot de Préameneu, Minister of Worship, at the national council, June 20, 1811.) This act was almost universal in the history of the Church, and the court of Rome started from this sort of extraordinary act, passed by it at the request of the sovereign, in order to enforce its ideas of arbitrary rule over the bishops.”
So stated by Napoleon.
Bossuet, “Œuvres complètes, xxxii., 415. (Defensio cleri gallicani, lib. viii. 14.)—“Episcopis, licet papæ divino jure subditos, ejusdem esse ordinis, ejusdem caracteris, sive, ut loquitur Hieronymus, ejusdem meriti, ejusdem, sacerdotii, col. legasque et coepiscopos appelari constat, scitumque illud Bernardi ad Eugenium papam: Non so dominus episcoporum, sed unus ex illus.”
Comte Boulay (de la Meurthe), “les négociations du Concordat,” p. 35.—There were 50 vacancies in 135 dioceses, owing to the death of their incumbents.
Bercastel and Henrion, xiii., 43. (Observations of Abbé Emery on the Concordat.) “The Popes who have stretched their authority the farthest and, in general, all the Popes, in the whole series of centuries, have not struck such heavy, authoritative blows, so important as those struck at this time by Pius VII.”
Prælectiones juris canonici habitæ in seminario Sancti Sulpici, 1867 (by Abbé Icard), i., 138. “Sancti canones passim memorant distinctionem duplicis potestatis quâ utitur sanctus pontifex: unam appelant ordinariam, aliam absolutam, vel plenitudinem potestatis. . . . Pontifex potestate ordinaria utitur, quando juris positivi dispositionem retinet. . . . Potestatem extraordinariam exserit, quando jus humanum non servat, ut si jus ipsum auferat, si legibus conciliorum deroget, privilegia acquisita immutet. . . . Plenitudo potestatis nullis publici juris regulis est limitata.”—Ibid., i., 333.
Bercastel et Henrion, xiii., 192. Cardinal Fesch having been banished from France by the law of January 12, 1816, “the Pope no longer regarded the person of the cardinal, but the diocese that had to be saved at any cost, by virtue of the principle salus populi suprema lex. Consequently, he prohibited the cardinal from “exercising episcopal jurisdiction in his metropolitan church, and constituted M. de Bernis administrator of that church, spiritually as well as temporally, notwithstanding all constitutions decreed even by the general councils, the apostolic ordinances, privileges, etc.”
Principal Concordats: with Bavaria, 1817; with Prussia, 1821; with Wurtemburg, Baden, Nassau, the two Hesses, 1821; with Hanover, 1824; with the Netherlands, 1827; with Russia, 1847; with Austria, 1855; with Spain, 1851; with the two Sicilies, 1818; with Tuscany, 1851; with Portugal (for the patronat of the Indies and of China), 1857; with Costa Rica, 1852; Guatemala, 1853; Haiti, 1860; Honduras, 1861; Ecuador, Venezuela, Nicaragua and San Salvador, 1862.
Bercastel et Henrion, xiii, 524.
“Adstantibus non judicantibus.”—One of the prelates assembled at the Vatican, Nov. 20, 1854, observed that if the Pope decided on the definition of the Immaculate Conception . . . this decision would furnish a practical demonstration . . . of the infallibility with which Jesus Christ had invested his vicar on earth.” (Émile Ollivier, “L’Église et l’État au concile du Vatican, i., 313.)
Bercastel et Henrion, xiii., 105. (Circular of Pius VII., February 25, 1808.) “It is said that all cults should be free and publicly exercised; but we have thrown this article out as opposed to the canons and to the councils, to the Catholic religion.”—Ibid. (Pius VII. to the Italian bishops on the French system, May 22, 1808.) “This system of indifferentism, which supposes no religion, is that which is most injurious and most opposed to the Catholic apostolic and Roman religion, which, because it is divine, is necessarily sole and unique and, on that very account, cannot ally itself with any other.”—Cf. the “Syllabus” and the encyclical letter “Quanta Cura” of December 8, 1864.
Sauzay, “Histoire de la persecution révolutionnaire dans le département du Doubs,” x., 720-773. (List in detail of the entire staff of the diocese of Besançon, in 1801 and in 1822, under Archbishop Lecoz, a former assermenté.)—During the Empire, and especially after 1806, this mixed clergy keeps refining itself. A large number, moreover, of assermentés do not return to the Church. They are not disposed to retract, and many of them enter into the new university. For example (“Vie du Cardinal Bonnechose,” by M. Besson, i., 24), the principal teachers in the Roman college in 1815-1816 were a former Capuchin, a former Oratorian and three assermentés priests. One of these, M. Nicolas Bignon, docteur ès lettres, professor of grammar in the year iv at the Ecole Centrale, then professor of rhetoric at the Lycée and member of the Roman Academy. “lived as a philosopher, not as a Christian and still less as a priest.” Naturally, he is dismissed in 1816. After that date, the purging goes on increasing against all ecclesiastics suspected of having compromised with the Revolution, either liberals or Jansenists.
Cf. the “Mémoires de l’abbé Babou, évêque nommé de Séez,” on the difficulties encountered by a too Gallican bishop and on the bitterness towards him of the local aristocracy of his diocese.
“Mémorial,” July 31, 1816.
Both systems, set forth with rare impartiality and clearness, may be found in “L’Église et l’Etat au concile du Vatican,” by Emile Ollivier, i., chs. ii. and iii.
Bercastel et Henrion, xiii., p. 14. (Letter of M. d’Avian, archbishop of Bordeaux, October 28, 1815.) “A dozen consecutive Popes do not cease, for more than one hundred and thirty years, improving that famous Declaration of 1682.”
Émile Olliver, ibid., i. 315-319. (Declarations of the French provincial councils and of foreign national and provincial councils before 1870.)—Cf. M. de Montalembert, “Des Intérets Catholiques,” 1852, ch. ii. and vi. “The ultramontane doctrine is the only true one. The great Count de Maistre’s ideas in his treatise on the Pope have become commonplace for all Catholic youth.”—Letter of Mgr. Guibert, February 22, 1853. “Gallicanism no longer exists.”—“Diary in France,” by Chris. Wordsworth, D.D., 1845. “There are not two bishops in France who are not ultramontane, that is to say devoted to the interests of the Roman See.”
“Constitutio dogmatica prima de ecclesia Christi,” July 18, 1870. “Ejusmodi romani pontificis definitiones exsesi, non ex consensu Ecclesiæ irreformabiles esse.”
Ibid., ch. iii. “Si quis dixerit romanum pontificem habere tantummodo officium inspectionis vel directionis, non autem plenam et supremam potestatem juridictionis in universam Ecclesiam, non solum in rebus quæ ad fidem et mores, sed etiam in iis quæ ad disciplinam et regimen Ecclesiæ per totum orbem diffusæ pertinent; aut etiam habere tantum potiores partes, non vero totam plenitudinem hujus supremæ potestatis, aut hanc ejus potestatem non esse ordinariam et immediatem. . . . ”
Ibid., ch. iii. “Aberrant à recto veritatis tramite qui affirmant licere ab judiciis Romanorum pontificum ad œcumenicum concilium, tanquam ad auctoritatem romane pontifice superiorem, appellare.”
“Almanach national de 1889.” (Among these four, one only belongs to a historic family, Mgr. de Deux-Brézé of Moulins.)
See “The Ancient Régime,” pp. 65, 120, 150, 292.
Cf. the history of the parliaments of Grenoble and Rennes on the approach of the Revolution. Remark the fidelity of all their judicial subordinates in 1788 and 1789, and the provincial power of the league thus formed.
“The Revolution,” Vol. I.—Abbé Sicard, “Les Dispensateurs des bénéfices ecclésiastiques avant 1789.” (“Correspondant” of Sep. 10, 1889, pp. 887, 892, 893.) Grosley, “Mémoires pour servir l’histoire de Troyes,” ii., pp. 35, 45.
Abbé Elie Méric, “Le Clergé sous l’ancien régime,” i., p. 26. (Ten universities conferred letters of appointment on their graduates.)—Abbé Sicard, “Les Dispensateurs,” etc., p. 876.—352 parliamentarians of Paris had an indult, that is to say, the right of obliging collators and church patrons to bestow the first vacant benefice either on himself or on one of his children, relations or friends. Turgot gave his indult to his friend Abbé Morellet, who consequently obtained (in June 1788) the priory of Thimer, with 16,000 livres revenue and a handsome house.—Ibid., p. 887. “The bias of the Pope, ecclesiastical or lay patrons, licensed parties, indultaires, graduates, the so frequent use of resignations, permutations, pensions, left to the bishop, who is now undisputed master of his diocesan appointments, but very few situations to bestow.”—Grosley, “Mémoires, etc.,” ii., p. 35. “The tithes followed collations. Nearly all our ecclesiastical collators are at the same time large tithe-owners.”
An inferior class of priests, generally assigned to poor parishes.
Abbé Elie Méric, ibid., p. 448.
Abbé Elie Méric, ibid., pp. 392-403. (Details in support.)
Abbé Richandeau, “De l’ancienne et de la nouvelle discipline de l’Église en France,” p. 281. Cf. Abbé Elie Méric, ibid., ch. ii. (On the justice and judges of the Church.)
Mercur, “Tableau de Paris,” iv., chap. 345. “The flock no longer recognize the brow of their pastor and regard him as nothing but an opulent man, enjoying himself in the capital and giving himself very little trouble about it.”
“Le Monde” of Novem. 9, 1890. (Details, according to the Montpellier newspapers, of the ceremony which had just taken place in the cathedral of that town for the remission of the pallium to Mgr. Roverié de Cabrières.
“Encyclopédie théologique,” by Abbé Migne, ix., p. 465. (M. Emery, “Des Nouveaux chapitres cathédraux,” p. 238.) “The custom in France at present, of common law, is that the bishops govern their dioceses without the participation of any chapter. They simply call to their council those they deem proper, and choose from these their chapter and cathedral councillors.”
Ibid., id.: “Notwithstanding these fine titles, the members of the chapter take no part in the government during the life of the bishop; all depends on this prelate, who can do everything himself, or, if he needs assistants, he may take them outside of the chapter.” Ibid., p. 445. Since 1802, in France, “the titular canons are appointed by the bishop and afterwards by the government, which gives them a salary. It is only the shadow of the canonical organization, of which, however, they possess all the canonical rights.”
Abbé André, “Exposition de quelques principes fondamentaux de droit canonique,” p. 187 (citing on this subject one of the documents of Mgr. Sibour, then bishop of Digne).—“Since the Concordat of 1801, the absence of all fixed procedure in the trial of priests has left nothing for the accused to depend on but the conscience and intelligence of the bishop. The bishop, accordingly, has been, in law, as in fact, the sole pastor and judge of his clergy, and, except in rare cases, no external limit has been put to the exercise of his spiritual authority.”
Émile Ollivier, “L’Église et l’État au concile du Vatican,” p. 517.—Abbé André, ibid., pp. 17, 19, 30, 280. (Various instances, particularly the appeal of a rural curé, Feb. 8, 1866.) “The metropolitan (bishop) first remarked that he could not bring himself to condemn his suffragan.” Next (Feb. 20, 1866), judgment confirmed by the metropolitan court, declaring “that no reason exists for declaring exaggerated and open to reform the penalty of depriving the rector of the parish of X——of his title, a title purely conferred by and revocable at the will of the bishop.”
Émile Ollivier, ibid., ii., 517, 516. Abbé André, ibid., p. 241. “During the first half of the nineteenth century no appeal could be had from the Church of France to Rome.”
Émile Ollivier, ibid., i., p. 286. Abbé André, ibid., p. 242: “From 1803 to 1854 thirty-eight appeals under writ of error (were presented) to the Council of State by priests accused. . . . Not one of the thirty-eight appeals was admitted.”
Prælectiones juris canonici habitæ in seminario Sancti Sulpicii, iii., p. 146.
Émile Ollivier, ibid., i., 136.
Id., ibid., i., p. 285. (According to Abbé Denys, “Études sur l’administration de l’Église,” p. 211.)—Cf. Abbé André, ibid., and “L’État actuel du clergé en France par les frères Allignol” (1839).—This last work, written by two assistant-curés, well shows, article by article, the effects of the Concordat and the enormous distance which separates the clergy of to-day from the old clergy. The modifications and additions which comport with this exposition are indicated by Abbé Richandeau, director of the Blois Seminary, in his book, “De l’ancienne et de la nouvelle discipline de l’Église en France” (1842). Besides this, the above exposition, as well as what follows, is derived from, in addition to printed documents, personal observations, much oral information, and numerous manuscript letters.
“Manreze du prêtre,” by the R. P. Caussette, vicar-general of Toulouse, 1879, t. ii., p. 523. (As stated by the Abbé Dubois, an experienced missionary. He adds that these priests, “transferred to difficult posts, are always on good terms with their mayors, . . . triumph over obstacles, and maintain peace.”)—Ibid., i., p. 312. “I do not know whether the well-informed consciences of our lords the bishops have made any mistakes, but what pardons have they not granted! what scandals have they not suppressed! what reputations have they not preserved! What a misfortune if you have to do with a court instead of with a father! For the court acquits and does not pardon. . . . And your bishop may not only employ the mercy of forgiveness, but, again, that of secrecy. How reap the advantages of this paternal system by calumniating it!”
“Vie de Mgr. Dupanloup,” by Abbé Lagrange, ii., p. 43: “Mgr. Dupanloup believed that pastoral removal was very favorable, not to say necessary, to the good administration of a diocese, to the proper management of parishes, even to the honor of priests and the Church, considering the difficulties of the times we live in. Irremovability was instituted for fortunate times and countries in which the people fulfilled all their duties and in which the sacerdotal ministry could not be otherwise than a simple ministry of conservation; at the present day it is a ministry of conquest and of apostleship. The priest, accordingly, must dispose of his priests as he thinks them fit for this work, according to their zeal and to their possible success in a country which has to be converted.” Against the official character and publicity of its judgments “it is important that it should not make out of a misfortune which is reparable a scandal that nothing can repair.”
“Moniteur,” session of March 11, 1865.
“The Ancient Régime,” pp. 65, 120, 150, 292. “Memoires inédits de Madame de——” (I am not allowed to give the author’s name). The type in high relief of one of these prelates a few years before the Revolution may here be found. He was bishop of Narbonne, with an income of 800,000 livres derived from the possessions of the clergy. He passed a fortnight every other year at Narbonne, and then for six weeks he presided with ability and propriety over the provincial parliament at Montpellier. But during the other twenty-two months he gave no thought to any parliamentary business or to his diocese, and lived at Haute Fontaine with his niece, Madame de Rothe, of whom he was the lover. Madame de Dillon, his grand-niece, and the Prince de Guémenée, the lover of Madame de Dillon, lived in the same château. The proprieties of deportment were great enough, but language there was more than free, so much so that the Marquise d’Osmond, on a visit, “was embarrassed even to shedding tears. . . . On Sunday, out of respect to the character of the master of the house, they went to Mass; but nobody carried a prayer-book; it was always some gay and often scandalous book, which was left lying about in the tribune of the château, open to those who cleaned the room, for their edification as they pleased.”
“Vie de Mgr. Dupanloup,” by Abbé Lagrange.—“Histoire du Cardinal Pie, évêque de Poitiers,” by Mgr. Bannard.
“Moniteur,” session of March 14, 1865, speech of Cardinal de Bonnechose: “I exact full obedience, because I myself, like those among you who belong to the army or navy, have always taken pride in thus rendering it to my chiefs, to my superiors.”
“Histoire du Cardinal Pie,” by M. Bannard, ii., p. 690. M. Pie left six large volumes in which, for thirty years, he recorded his episcopal acts, uninterruptedly, until his last illness.
Ibid., ii., p. 135: “In the year 1860 he had confirmed 11,586 belonging to his diocese; in 1861 he confirmed 11,845.”—“Vie de Mgr. Dupanloup,” by Abbé La Grange, iii., p. 19. (Letter to his clergy, 1863.) He enumerates what he had done in his diocese: “The parochial retraites which have amounted to nearly one hundred; the perpetual adoration of the Holy Sacrament established in all the parishes; confirmation, not alone in the cantonal town but in the smallest villages and always preceded by the mission; the canonical visit made annually in each parish, partly by the archdeacon, partly by the dean, and partly by the bishop; . . . the vicarships doubled; life in common established among the parochial clergy; sisters of charity for schools and the sick multiplied in the diocese and spread on all sides; augmentation of everything concerning ecclesiastical studies, the number of small and large seminaries being largely increased; examinations of young priests; ecclesiastical lectures; grades organized and raised; churches and rectories everywhere rebuilt or repaired; a great diocesan work in helping poor parishes and, to sustain it, the diocesan lottery and fair of the ladies of Orleans; finally, retraites and communions for men established, and also in other important towns and parishes of the diocese.” (P. 46.) (Letter of January 26, 1846, prescribing in each parish the exact holding of the status animarum, which status is his criterion for placing a curé.) “The État de Pâques in his parish must always be known while he is in it, before withdrawing him and placing him elsewhere.”
“Moniteur,” session of March 14, 1865. (Speech of Cardinal de Bonnechose.) “What would we do without our monks, Jesuits, Dominicans, Carmelites, etc., to preach at Advent and during Lent, and act as missionaries in the country? The (parochial) clergy is not numerous enough to do this daily work.”
Prælectiones juris canonici, ii., 305 and following pages.
“La Charité à Nancy,” by Abbé Girard, 1890, 1 vol.—“La Charité à Angers,” by Léon Cosnier, 1890, 2 vols.—“Manuel des œuvres et institutions charitable à Paris,” by Lacour, 1 vol.—“Les Congrégations religieuses en France,” by Émile Keller, 1880, 1 vol.
“Vie de Mgr. Dupanloup,” i., 506 (1853). “More than one hundred free ecclesiastical establishments for secondary education have been founded since the law of 1850.”—“Statistique de l’enseignement secondaire.” In 1865, there were 276 free ecclesiastical schools for secondary instruction with 34,897 pupils, of which 23,549 were boarders and 11,348 day-scholars. In 1876, there were 390 with 46,816 pupils, of which 33,092 were boarders and 13,724 day-scholars.
“La Charité à Nancy,” by Abbé Girard, p. 87.—“Vie du Cardinal Mathieu,” by Mgr. Besson, 2 vols.
Cf., in the above-mentioned biographies, the public and political discourses of the leading prelates, especially those of M. Mathieu (of Besançon), M. Dupanloup (of Orleans), Mgr. de Bonnechose (of Rouen), and particularly Mgr. Pie (of Poitiers).
A fact told me by a lady, an eye-witness. In the seventeenth century it is probable that Fénelon or Bossuet would have regarded such a response as extravagant and even sacrilegious.
Abbé Elie Méric, in the “Correspondant” of January 10, 1890, p. 18.
“De l’État actuel du clergé en France” (1839), p. 248, by the brothers Allignol. Careers of every kind are too crowded; “only the ecclesiastical is in want of subjects; willing youths are the only ones wanted and none are found.” This is due, say these authors, to the profession of assistant-priest being too gloomy—eight years of preparatory study, five years in the seminary, 800 francs of pay with the risk of losing it any day, poor extras, a life-servitude, no retiring pension, etc.—“Le Grand Péril de l’Église en France,” by Abbé Bougaud (4th ed., 1879), pp. 2-23.—“Lettre Circulaire” (No. 53) of Mgr. Thiebaut, archbishop of Rouen, 1890, p. 618.
There is a gradual suppression of the subvention in 1877 and 1853 and a final one in 1885.
Abbé Bougaud, ibid., p. 118, etc.—The lower seminary contains about 200 or 250 pupils. Scarcely one of these pays full board. They pay on the average from 100 to 200 frs. per head, while their maintenance costs 400 francs.—The instructors who are priests get 600 francs a year. Those who are not priests get 300 francs, which adds 12,000 francs to the expenses and brings the total deficit up to 42,000 or 52,000 francs.
Circular letter (No. 53) of M. Léon, archbishop of Rouen (1890), p. 618 and following pages.
Abbé Bougaud, ibid., p. 135. (Opinion of the archbishop of Aix, ibid., p. 138.) “I know a lower seminary in which a class en quatrième of 44 pupils furnished only 4 priests, 40 having dropped out on the way. . . . I have been informed that a large collège in Paris, conducted by priests and containing 400 pupils, turned out in ten years but one of an ecclesiastical calling.”—“Moniteur,” March, 14, 1865. (Speech in the Senate by Cardinal Bonnechose.) “With us, discipline begins at an early age, first in the lower seminary and then in the upper seminary. . . . Other nations envy us our seminaries. They have not succeeded in establishing any like them. They cannot keep pupils so long; their pupils enter their seminaries only as day scholars.”
“Histoire de M. Emery,” by Abbé Elie Méric, i., 15, 17. “From 1786 onwards, the toleration of the drama was allowed to the philosophers, the ‘Robertuis’ and the Laon community; it was excluded from the great seminary where it ought never to have been admitted.” This reform was effected by the new director, M. Emery, and met with such opposition that it almost cost him his life.
M. de Talleyrand, “Mémoires,” vol. i. (Concerning one of his gallantries.) “The superiors might have had some suspicion, . . . but Abbé Couturier had shown them how to shut their eyes. He had taught them not to reprove a young seminarist whom they believed destined to a high position, who might become coadjutor at Rheims, perhaps a cardinal, perhaps minister, minister de la feuille—who knows?”
“Diary in France,” by Christopher Wordsworth, D.D., 1845. (Weakness of the course of study at Saint-Sulpice.) “There is no regular course of lectures on ecclesiastical history.”—There is still at the present day no special course of Greek for learning to read the New Testament in the original.—“Le clergé français en 1890” (by an anonymous ecclesiastic), pp. 24-38. “High and substantial service is lacking with us. . . . For a long time, the candidates for the episcopacy are exempt by a papal bull from the title of doctor.”—In the seminary there are discussions in barbarous Latin, antiquated subjects, bits of text, cut out and wire-drawn: “They have not learned how to think. . . . . Their science is good for nothing; they have no means or methods even for learning. . . . The Testament of Christ is what they are most ignorant of. . . . A priest who devotes himself to study is regarded either as a pure speculator unfit for the government, or with an ambition which nothing can satisfy, or again an odd, ill-humored, ill-balanced person; we live under the empire of this stupid prejudice. . . . We have archeologists, assyriologists, geologists, philologists and other one-sided savants. The philosophers, theologians, historians, and canonists have become rare.”
“Journal d’un voyage en France,” by Th. W. Allies, 1845, p. 38. (Table of daily exercises in Saint-Sulpice furnished by Abbé Caron, former secretary to the archbishop of Paris.)—Cf. in “Volupté,” by Saint-Beuve, the same table furnished by Lacordaire.
“Manreze du prêtre,” by the Rev. Father Caussete, i., 82.
Ibid., i., 48. “Out of 360 meditations made by a priest during the year, 300 of them are arid.” We have the testimony of Abbé d’Astros on the efficacy of prayers committed to memory, who was in prison for three years under the first empire and without any books. “I knew the psalms by heart and, thanks to this converse with God, which escaped the jailor, I was never troubled with ennui.”
As with the “Frères des Écoles Chrétiennes,” whose society has the most members.
“Manreze du prêtre,” by the Rev. Father Caussette, i., 9. The Manreze is the grotto where Saint Ignatius found the plan of his Exercitia and the three ways by which a man succeeds in detaching himself from the world, “the purgative, the illuminative and the unitive.” The author says that he has brought all to the second way, as the most suitable for priests. He himself preached pastoral retreats everywhere in France, his book being a collection of rules for retreats of this kind.
One of these enduring effects is the intense faith of the prelates, who in the last century believed so little. At the present day, not made bishops until about fifty years of age, thirty of which have been passed in exercises of this description, their piety has taken the Roman, positive, practical turn which terminates in devotions properly so called. M. Emery, the reformer of Saint-Sulpice, gave the impulsion in this sense. (“Histoire de M. Emery,” by Abbé Elie Méric, p. 115 etc.) M. Emery addressed the seminarians thus: “Do you think that, if we pray to the Holy Virgin sixty times a day to aid us at the hour of death, she will desert us at the last moment?”—“He led us into the chapel, which he had decked with reliquaries. . . . He made the tour of it, kissing in turn each reliquary with respect and love, and when he found one of them out of reach for this homage, he said to us, ‘Since we cannot kiss that one, let us accord it our profoundest reverence!’ . . . And we all three kneeled before the reliquary.”—Among other episcopal lives, that of Cardinal Pie, bishop of Poitiers, presents the order of devotion in high relief. (“Histoire du Cardinal Pie,” by M. Bannard, ii., 348 and passim.) There was a statuette of the Virgin on his bureau. After his death, a quantity of paper scraps, in Latin or French, written and placed there by him-were found, dedicating this or that action, journey or undertaking under the special patronage of the Virgin or St. Joseph. He also possessed a statuette of Our Lady of Lourdes which never was out of his sight, day or night. “One day, having gone out of his palace, he suddenly returned, having forgotten something—he had neglected to kiss the feet of his Heavenly Mother.”—Cf. “Vie de Mgr. Dupanloup,” Abbé Lagrange, i., 524. “During his mother’s illness, he multiplied the neuvaines, visited every altar, made vows, burnt candles, for not only had he devotion, but devotions. . . . On the 2d of January, 1849, there was fresh alarm; thereupon, a neuvaine at Saint-Geneviève and a vow—no longer the chaplet, but the rosary. Then, as the fête of Saint François de Sales drew near, a new neuvaine to this great Savoyard saint; prayers to the Virgin in Saint-Sulpice; to the faithful Virgin; to the most wise Virgin, everywhere.”
“Manreze du prêtre,” i., 27, 29, 30, 31, 35, 91, 92, 244, 246, 247, 268.
Ibid., i., 279, 281, 301, 307, 308, 319.
“Le clergé française en 1890” (by an anonymous ecclesiastic), p. 72. (On the smaller parishes.) “The task of the curé here is thankless if he is zealous, too easy if he has no zeal. In any event, he is an isolated man, with no resources whatever, tempted by all the demons of solitude and inactivity.”—Ibid., 92. “Our authority among the common classes as well as among thinking people is held in check; the human mind is to-day fully emancipated and society secularized.”—Ibid., 15. “Indifference seems to have retired from the summits of the nation only to descend to the lower strata. . . . In France, the priest is the more liked the less he is seen; to efface himself, to disappear is what is first and oftenest demanded of him. The clergy and the nation live together side by side, scarcely in contact, through certain actions in life, and never intermingling.”
The Budget of 1881. 17,010 desservans of small parishes have 900 francs per annum; 4500 have 1000 francs; 9492, sixty years of age and over, have from 1100 to 13,000 francs. 2521 curés of the second class have from 1200 to 1300 francs; 850 curés of the first class, or rated the same, have from 1500 to 1600 francs; 65 archiprêtre curés have 1600 francs, that of Paris 2400 francs; 709 canons have from 1600 to 2400 francs; 193 vicars-general have from 2500 to 4000 francs.—Abbé Bougaud, “le Grand Péril,” etc., p. 23. In the diocese of Orleans, which may be taken as an average type, fees, comprising the receipts for masses, are from 250 to 300 francs per annum, which brings the salary of an ordinary desservant up to about 1200 francs.
The fees, etc., of the curé of the Madeleine are estimated at about 40,000 francs a year. The prefect of police has 40,000 francs a year, and the prefect of the Seine, 50,000 francs.
As, for example, the monk.
Prælectiones juris canonici, ii., 264-267.
Ibid., ii., 268.
“The Ancient Régime,” pp. 119, 147. (On the “Chartreuse” of Val Saint-Pierre, read the details given by Merlon de Thionville in his “Mémoires.”)
Prælectiones juris canonici, ii., 205. (Edict of Louis XIII., 1629, art. 9.)
The following are other instances. With the “Filles de Saint-Vincent de Paule,” the superior of the “Prètres de la Mission” proposes two names and all the Sisters present choose one or the other by a plurality of votes. Local superiors are designated by the Council of Sisters who always reside at the principal establishment.—With the “Frères des Écoles Chrétiennes,” assembled at the call of the assistants in function, a general chapter meets at Paris, 27 rue Oudinot. This chapter, elected by all professed members belonging to the order, comprises 15 directors of the leading houses and 15 of the older brethren who have been at least fifteen years in profession. Besides these 30, the assistants in function, or who have resigned, and the visitors of the houses form, by right, a part of the chapter which comprises 72 members. This chapter elects the general superior for ten years. He is again eligible; he appoints for three years the directors of houses, and he can prolong or replace them. With the Carthusians, the superior-general is elected by the professed brethren of the Grande Chartreuse who happen to be on hand when the vacancy occurs. They vote by sealed ballots unsigned, under the presidency of two priors without a vote.
The reader may call to mind the portrait of Brother Philippe by Horace Vernet. For details of the terrible mortifications inflicted on himself by Lacordaire see his life by Father Chocarne. “Every sort of mortification which the saints prized, hair-cloth, scourges, whips of every kind and form, he knew of and used. . . . He scourged himself daily and often several times during the day. During Lent and especially on Good Friday he literally scored and flayed himself alive.”
Notes (unpublished) by Count Chaptal.
“État des congrégations, communantés et associations religieuses, autorisées et non-autorisées, dressé en execution” according to article 12, law of Decem. 28, 1876. (Imprimerie nationale, 1878).—“L’Institut des frères des écoles chrétiennes,” by Eugène Rendu (1882), p. 10.—Th. W. Allies, “Journal d’un voyage en France,” p. 81. (Conversation with Brother Philippe, July 16, 1845.)—“Statistique de l’Institut des Frères des Écoles Chrétiennes,” Dec. 31, 1888. (Drawn up by the head establishment.) Out of the 121 houses of 1789, there were 117 of these in France and 4 in the colonies. Out of the 1,286 houses of 1888, there are 1,010 in France and in the colonies. The other 276 are in other countries.
Émile Keller, “Les Congrégations religieuses en France” (1880), preface, xxiii., xxviii., and p. 92.
In 1789, 37,000 Sisters (see “The Ancient Régime”); in 1866, 86,000 Sisters (“Statistique de la France,” 1866); in 1878, 127,753 Sisters (“État des Congrégations,” etc.).
Émile Keller, ibid., passim.—In many communities of men and of women the personal expenses of each member are not over 300 francs per annum; with the Trappists at Devielle this is the maximum.—If the value of the useful labor performed by these 160,000 monks and nuns be estimated at 1000 francs per head, which is below the real figures, the total is 160 millions per annum; estimate the expenses of each monk or nun at 500 francs per head and the total is 80 millions a year. The net gain to the public is 80 millions per annum.
“La Charité à Nancy,” by Abbé Girard, p. 245.—The same judgment is confirmed by the Rev. T. W. Allies, in a “Journal d’un voyage en France,” 1848, p. 291. “The dogma of the real presence is the centre of the whole religious life of the Church (Catholic): it is the secret support of the priest in his mission, so painful and so filled with abnegation. It is by this that the religious orders are maintained.”
This question is examined by St. Thomas in his Summa Theologica.
For the past twenty years, owing to the researches of psychologists and physiologists, we have begun to know something of the subterranean regions of the soul and the latent operations going on there. The storing, remains and unconscious combination of images, the spontaneous and automatic transformation of images into sensations, the composition, breaking up and lasting doubling of the moi, the alternate or simultaneous coexistence of two, or more than two, distinct persons in the same individual, the suggestions accomplished distantly and at fixed dates, from within outwardly, and the physical effect of mental sensations on the nervous extremities—all these late discoveries end in a new conception of mind, and psychology, thus renewed, throws abundant light on history.
See in “Herodiade,” by Flaubert, the depicting of these “kingdoms of the world or of the century,” as they appeared to Palestinian eyes in the first century. For the first four centuries we must consider, confronting the Church, by way of contrast and in full relief, the pagan and Roman world, the life of the day, especially in the baths, at the circus, in the theatre, the gratuitous supplies of food, of physical enjoyments and of spectacles to the idle populace of the towns, the excesses of public and private luxury, the enormity of unproductive expenditure, and all this in a society which, without our machines, supported itself by hand-labor; next, the scantiness and dearness of available capital, a legal rate of interest at twelve per cent, the latifundia, the oberati, the oppression of the working classes, the diminution of free laborers, the exhaustion of slaves, depopulation and impoverishment, at the end the colon attached to his glebe, the workman to his tool, the curiale to his curie, the administrative interference of the centralized State, its fiscal exigencies, all that it sucked out of the social body, and the more strenuously inasmuch as there was less to be sucked out of it. Against these sensual habits and customs and this economic system the Church has preserved its primitive aversion, especially on two points, in relation to the theatre and to loaning money at interest.
See St. Paul’s epistle to the Romans, ch. i., 26 to 32; also the First Epistle to the Corinthians, ch. xiii.
The First Epistle of John, ii. 16.
Acts of the Apostles, ch. iv., 32, 34 and 35.
Saint Athanasius, the principal founder of Christian metaphysics, did not know Latin and learned it with great difficulty at Rome when he came to defend his doctrine. On the other hand, the principal founder of western theology, Saint Augustin, had only an imperfect knowledge of Greek.
For example, the three words which are essential and technical in metaphysical speculations on the divine essence, λόγος, οὐσια, ὐπόστασις, have no real equivalent in Latin, while the words by which an attempt is made to render these terms, verbum, substantia, persona, are very inexact. Persona and substantia, in Tertullian, are already used in their Roman sense, which is always juridical and special.
Sir Henry Sumner Maine, “Ancient Law,” p. 354. The following is profound in a remarkable degree: “Greek metaphysical literature contained the sole stock of words and ideas out of which the human mind could provide itself with the means of engaging in the profound controversies as to the Divine Persons, the Divine Substance, and the Divine Natures. The Latin language and the meagre Latin philosophy were quite unequal to the undertaking, and accordingly the western or Latin-speaking provinces of the Empire adopted the conclusions of the East without disputing or reviewing them.”
Maine, “Ancient Law,” p. 357. “The difference between the two theological systems is accounted for by the fact that, in passing from the East to the West, theological speculation had passed from a climate of Greek metaphysics to a climate of Roman law.” Out of this arose the Western controversies on the subject of Free-will and Divine Providence. “The problem of Free-will arises when we contemplate a metaphysical conception under a legal aspect.”
Ibid. “The nature of Sin and its transmission by inheritance; the debt owed by man and its vicarious satisfaction; the necessity and sufficiency of the Atonement; above all the apparent antagonism between Free-will and the Divine Providence—these were the points which the West began to debate as ardently as ever the East had discussed the articles of its more special creed.” This juridical fashion of conceiving theology appears in the works of the oldest Latin theologians, Tertullian and Saint Cyprian.
Ibid. Among the technical notions borrowed from law and here used in Latin theology we may cite “the Roman penal system, the Roman theory of the obligations established by Contract or Delict,” the intercession or act by which one assumes the obligation contracted by another, “the Roman view of Debts and of the modes of incurring, extinguishing and transmitting them, the Roman notion of the continuance of individual existence by Universal Succession.”
Cf. Fustel de Coulanges, “La Gaule Romaine,” p. 96 and following pages, on the rapidity, facility and depth of the transformation by which Gaul became Latinized.
The Church of England, in its confession of faith, makes this express declaration.
As called by Joseph de Maistre, referring to the Greek Church.
Duke Sermoneta-Gaetani has shown in his geographic map of the “Divine Comedy” the exact correspondence of this poem with the “Somme” by Saint Thomas.—It was already said of Dante in the middle ages, Theologus Dantes nullius dogmatis expers.
Cf. “L’Empire des tsars et les Russes,” by Anatole Leroy-Beaulieu, vol. iii., entire, on the characteristics of the Russian clergy.
Bossuet, ed. Deforis, vi., 169. The Meaux catechism (reproduced, with some additions, in the catechism adopted by Napoleon). “What works are deemed satisfactory?” “Works unpleasant to us imposed by the priest as a penance.” “Repeat some of them.” “Alms-giving, fastings, austerities, privations of what is naturally agreeable, prayers, spiritual readings.”
Ibid. “Why is confession ordained?” “To humble the sinner.” “Why again?” “To submit one’s self to the power of the Keys and to the judgment of the priests who have the power to punish and remit sins.”
Bossuet, ibid., Catéchisme de Meaux, vi., 140-142.
“Manreze du prêtre,” by Father Caussette, i., 37. “Do you see that young man of twenty-five who will soon pass along the sanctuary to find the sinners awaiting him? It is the God of this earth who sanctifies him. . . . Were Jesus Christ to descend into the confessional he would say, Ego te absolvo. He is going to say with the same authority, Ego te absolvo. Now this is an act of the supreme power; it is greater, says Saint Augustin, than the creation of heaven and earth.”—T. W. Allies, “Journal d’un voyage en France,” 1845, p. 97. “Confession is the chain which binds all Christian life.”
“Manreze du prêtre,” i., 36. “The Mother of God has undoubtedly more credit than you, but she has less authority. Undoubtedly, she accords favors, but she has not given one single absolution.”
Prælectiones juris canonici, i., 101. “The power entrusted to St. Peter and the apostles is wholly independent of the community of believers.”
“Cours alphébétique et méthodique du droit canon,” by Abbé André, and “Histoire générale de l’Église,” vol. iii., by Bercastel et Henrion. The reader will find in these two works an exposition of the diverse statutes of the Catholic Church in other countries. Each of these statutes differs from ours in one or several important articles; the fixed, or even territorial, endowment of the clergy, the nomination to the episcopate by the chapter, or by the clergy of the diocese, or by the bishops of the province, public competition for curacies, irremovability, participation of the chapter in the government of the diocese, restoration of the officialité, return to the prescriptions of the Council of Trent. (Cf. especially the Concordats between the Holy See and Prussia, Bavaria, Wurtemberg, Baden, the two Hesses, Belgium, Austria, Spain, and the statutes accepted or established by the Holy See in Ireland and the United States.)
The brothers Allignol, “De l’État actuel du clergé en France,” p. 248. “The mind of the desservant is no longer his own. Let him beware of any personal sentiment or opinion! . . . He must cease being himself and must lose, it may be said, his personality.”—Ibid., preface, xix. “Both of us, placed in remotes country parishes, . . . are in a position to know the clergy of the second class well, to which, for twenty years, we belong.”
The principal means of action of the State is the right of appointing bishops. The Pope, however, installs them; consequently, the Minister of Worship must have an understanding beforehand with the nuncio, which obliges it to nominate candidates irreproachable in doctrine and morals, but it avoids nominating ecclesiastics that are eminent, enterprising or energetic; once installed and not removable, they would cause trouble. Such, for example, was M. Pie, bishop of Poitiers, nominated by M. de Falloux in the time of the Prince-President, and so annoying during the Empire; in order to keep him in check, M. Levert, the cleverest and most adroit prefect, had to be sent to Poitiers; for many years they waged the most desperate war under proper formalities, each playing against the other the shrewdest and most disagreeable tricks. Finally, M. Levert, who had lost a daughter and was denounced from the pulpit, was obliged, on account of his wife’s feelings, to leave the place. (This happened to my own knowledge, as between 1852 and 1867 I visited Poitiers five times.) At the present day, the Catholics complain that the government nominates none but mediocre men for bishops and accepts none others for cantonal curés.
“The Ancient Régime,” pp. 171, 181, 182.
M. de Vitrolles, “Mémoires,” i., 15. (This passage was written in 1847.) “Under the Empire, readers were to those of the present day as one to a thousand. Newspapers, in very small number, scarcely obtained circulation. The public informed itself about victories, as well as the conscription, in the articles of the ‘Moniteur,’ posted by the prefects.”—From 1847 to 1891, we all know by our own experience that the number of readers has augmented prodigiously.
An expression by Renan in relation to Abbé Lehir, an accomplished professor of Hebrew.
Th. W. Allies, rector of Launton, “Journal d’un voyage en France,” p. 245. (A speech by Father Ravignan, August 3, 1848.) “What nation in the Roman Church is more prominent at the present day for its missionary labors? France, by far. There are ten French missionaries to one Italian.” Several French congregations, especially the “Petites Sœurs des Pauvres” and the “Frères des Écoles Chrétiennes,” are so zealous and so numerous that they overflow outside of France and have many establishments abroad.
“Manreze du prêtre,” by Father Caussette, ii., 419: “Now that I have placed one of your hands in those of Mary let me place the other in those of Saint Joseph. . . . Joseph, whose prayers in heaven are what commands to Jesus were on earth. Oh, what a sublime patron, and what powerful patronage! . . . Joseph, associated in the glory of divine paternity; . . . Joseph, who counts twenty-three kings among his ancestors!” Along with the month of the year devoted to the adoration of Mary, there is another consecrated to Saint Joseph.
“État des congrégations,” etc. (1876). Eleven congregations or communities of women are devoted to the Holy Family and nineteen others to the Child-Jesus or to the Infancy of Jesus.
One of these bears the title of “Augustines de l’intérieur de Marie” and another is devoted to the “Cœuragonisant de Jésus.”
At Bourron (Seine-et-Marne), in 1789, which had 600 inhabitants, the number of communicants at Easter amounted to 300; at the present day, out of 1200 inhabitants there are 94.
Th. W. Allies, “Journal d’un voyage en France,” iii., p. 18: “M. Dufresne (July 1845) tells us that out of 1,000,000 inhabitants in Paris 300,000 attend mass and 50,000 are practising Christians.”—(A conversation with Abbé Petitot, curé of Saint-Louis d’Antin, July 7, 1847.) “2,000,000 out of 32,000,000 French are really Christians and go to confession.”—At the present day (April 1890) an eminent and well-informed ecclesiastic writes: “I estimate the number of those who observe Easter at Paris at about 100,000.”—“The number of professing Christians varies a great deal according to parishes: Madeleine, 4,500 out of 29,000 inhabitants; Saint Augustin, 6,500 out of 29,000; Saint Eustache, 1,750 out of 20,000; Bellancourt, 500 out of 10,000; Grenelle, 1,500 out of 47,500; and Belleville, 1,500 out of 60,000 inhabitants.”
Abbé Bougaud, “Le Grand Péril,” etc., p. 44: “I know a bishop who, on reaching his diocese, tried to ascertain how many of the 400,000 souls entrusted to his keeping performed their Easter duties. He found 37,000. At the present day, owing to twenty years of effort, this number reaches 55,000. Thus, more than 300,000 are practically unbelievers.”—“Vie de Mgr. Dupanloup,” by Abbé Lagrange, i., 51. (Pastoral letter by Mgr. Dupanloup, 1851.) “He considers that he is answerable to God for nearly 350,000 souls, of which 200,000 at least do not fulfil their Easter duties; scarcely 45,000 perform this great duty.”
“The Revolution,” ii., 390.
Th.-W. Allies, “Journal,” etc., p. 240 (Aug. 2, 1848, conversation with Abbé Petitot): “In 1830, the priests were obliged for two years to abandon wearing their costume in the street, and only recovered their popularity by their devotion to the sick at the time of the cholera.”—In 1843, they had won back respect and sympathy; “the people came and begged them to bless their liberty-poles.”—Abbé Petitot adds: “The Church gains ground every day, but rather among the upper than the lower classes.”
Émile Keller, “Les Congrégations,” etc., p. 362 (with the figures in relation to schools).—“Débats” of April 27, 1890 (with the figures in relation to hospitals. Deaths increased in the eighteen laicized hospitals at the rate of four per cent).
Fournier de Flaix, “Journal de la Société de Statistique,” number for Sep. 1890, p. 260. (According to registers kept in the archiepiscopal archives in Paris.) “Compte-rendu des opérations du Conseil d’administration des pompes funèbres à Paris” (1889): funerals wholly civil in 1882, 19.33 per cent; in 1888, 19.04 per cent; in 1889, 18.63 per cent.—“Atlas de statistique municipale.” (“Débats” of July 10, 1890:) The poorer the arrondissement, the greater the number of civil funerals; Ménilmontant bears away the palm, one third of the funerals here being civil.
Abbé Joseph Roux (curé at first of Saint-Silvain, near Tulle, and then in a small town of Corrèze), “Pensées,” p. 132 (1886): “There is always something of the pagan in the peasant. He is original sin in all its brutish simplicity.”—“The peasant passed from paganism to Christianity mostly through miracles; he would go back at less cost from Christianity to paganism. . . . It is only lately that a monster exists, the impious peasant. . . . The rustic, in spite of school-teachers, even in spite of the curés, believes in sorcerers and in sorcery the same as the Gauls and Romans.”—Therefore the means employed against him are wholly external. (“Vie de Mgr. Dupanloup,” by Abbé Lagrange, pastoral notes of Mgr. Dupanloup, i., 64.) “What has proved of most use to you in behalf of religion in your diocese during the last fifteen years? Is it through this—is it through that? No, it is through medals and crosses. Whatever is given to these good people affords them pleasure; they like to have presents of Our Lord and the Blessed Virgin. These objects, with them, stand for religion. A father who comes with his child in his arms to receive the medal will not die without confessing himself.”—The reader will find on the clergy and peasantry in the south of France details and pictures taken from life in the novels of Ferdinand Fabre (“Tigrane,” “Courbezons,” “Lucifer,” “Barnabé,” “Mo n Oncle,” “Célestin,” “Xaviere,” “The Vocation”).