Front Page Titles (by Subject) ROMAN CATHOLIC CHURCH. - Cyclopaedia of Political Science, Political Economy, and of the Political History of the United States, vol. 3 Oath - Zollverein
Return to Title Page for Cyclopaedia of Political Science, Political Economy, and of the Political History of the United States, vol. 3 Oath - Zollverein
The Online Library of Liberty
A project of Liberty Fund, Inc.
Search this Title:
ROMAN CATHOLIC CHURCH. - John Joseph Lalor, Cyclopaedia of Political Science, Political Economy, and of the Political History of the United States, vol. 3 Oath - Zollverein 
Cyclopaedia of Political Science, Political Economy, and of the Political History of the United States by the best American and European Authors, ed. John J. Lalor (New York: Maynard, Merrill, & Co., 1899). Vol 3 Oath - Zollverein
Part of: Cyclopaedia of Political Science, Political Economy, and of the Political History of the United States, 3 vols.
About Liberty Fund:
The text is in the public domain.
Fair use statement:
ROMAN CATHOLIC CHURCH.
ROMAN CATHOLIC CHURCH. The object of the present article is, in the first place, to present a condensed exposition of all those provisions of the constitution of the Catholic church which are of any importance for the political understanding of ecclesiastical questions, and then of those principles of that same constitution which have to do with the relation of the Catholic church to the state and to other confessions, etc.: the whole from the point of view, and according to the teaching, of the Catholic church itself.90
—I. Nature and Mission of the Church. The Catholic church, according to its own dogmatic teaching is the body or community of all those who are united in the faith in Jesus Christ, a community founded by Jesus Christ, the Son of God, to the end that, within its fold, the individual may work out his eternal salvation. To effect this his purpose, Christ—for the continuation of the functions which he performed during his earthly life, and for the application of the spiritual means of the sacraments bequeathed by him to this community—at the same time established his apostolate, charged with the task and endowed with the power of appointing successors who should, unto the end of time, labor toward the restoration willed by Christ, and purchased for them by his incarnation and death, viz., the restoration of all nations to the true faith, and effecting through that faith, their entrance into the kingdom of God. To preserve the true faith unaltered forever, God promised and sent the Holy Ghost, the divine Spirit, to the church, to remain with it throughout all time. The Catholic Church, founded by Christ, is the only true (unica, una) one; it is of direct divine institution, built on the apostles chosen by Christ himself, and on their successors, descended from them, in an uninterrupted series, by spiritual generation or ordination (ecclesia apostolica); it has been called to be universal (catholica) both in time and space, and to receive into its bosom all those who fulfill the conditions which Christ attached to entrance into his community; unto it is granted, through its instruments of grace, the power to make man the child of God, to help him to fulfill his religious destiny and to sanctify him (ecclesia sancta). But, to do this, the church must be everywhere recognizable, external and visible (ecclesia externa, visibilis). To this end it has received, in the fundamental features of it, a definite constitution, with the church's central point in the bishop of Rome, the successor to the priority conferred by Christ on Peter, that is to say, to the primacy among the apostles, and therefore, in the bishop of Rome as the visible vicar of Christ. Hence the church is an ecclesia, catholica, apostolica Romana. In order that the church may not err in matters pertaining to the faith, that is, in general, in its teaching, concerning all those doctrines on the acceptance of which membership in the Christian community depends (the dogmas of the church), or in those precepts the observance of which is a condition to the salvation of the individual (the fundamental doctrines of morals), it is, by the constant dwelling within it of the Holy Ghost, endowed with infallibility for all time (ecclesia infallibilis). Thus, the Catholic church represents itself, not merely as a subjective community of Christian believers, but also as an objective community, as the only external visible institution founded by Christ for the realization of his kingdom. Its foundation is the doctrine of faith and morals proclaimed by Christ himself, and preserved, first, in the recognized sacred books of the New Testament (Bible), which, according to the universal belief of the church, were written under divine inspiration, and secondly, in the oral tradition of the church. The church is, accordingly, the fulfillment of the promise made by God after the fall, the institution for which he prepared the way under the old dispensation; so that Christianity is not the abolition but the fulfillment of Judaism; and therefore the sacred books of the latter (the Old Testament) in as far as they do not exclusively relate to national, ceremonial and like affairs, preserve their authority in Christianity.
—Hence the aim and object of the church is not the establishment of an earthly kingdom; it is not a kingdom of this world; its interests are not secular, but religious and spiritual; its mission is to restore harmony between the cravings of the sensitive faculty and the commands of God, to bring it to pass that the individual, through faith, and through the grace accorded by God to all, may will his own salvation, and with freedom, by works conformable to the faith, labor for his salvation. According to the teaching of the Catholic church, it is not mere faith in Christ that insures salvation, but faith in Christ, and works corresponding to that faith: a life in, and conformable to, the faith. Although, according to its dogmas, entrance into its communion is a condition to salvation (extra ecclesiam nulla salus), the attaching of the consequences which follow the non-fulfillment of that condition presupposes knowledge, and an act of the will refusing to enter it. Hence the church does not condemn those of a faith other than its own.
—In this world, the church fulfills its task through the mediation of a visible institution, and through means, connected with visible symbols and forms; visible, because intended for men who, as visible, external beings, are bound to and can not escape such forms. Those of the church who have ended their earthly career, immediately enter into a state of perfection, of beatitude in the contemplation of God (church triumphant), or remain in a middle state of purification (purgatory), (the church suffering). These, together with the faithful in this world still working out their salvation in the earthly struggle (church militant), constitute the communion of saints (communio sanctorum); through this communion the merits of the saints may be applied to those on earth, and the prayers of the living avail those undergoing the purification of purgatory. Only the church on earth (the church militant) has anything to do with human law. It enters into the domain of law because of the action which it desires to and must exercise on men, even on all men, because of the external means it employs, and finally because of its compact, visible organization. But its mission, nevertheless, is not an earthly and human one; hence, by its very nature, it is not dependent on any power whatever, nor conditioned by any such power; the church must fulfill its mission, wherever and as soon as it has the means to fulfill it; because with the possibility to fulfill it comes its duty to fulfill it. As regards the individual Catholic, the external fulfillment of his duty consists in the life in the church, and according to the teachings of the church. And this supposes: participation in external divine worship (cultus); participation in the means of grace, in each according to the circumstances of life (the sacraments); the fulfillment of the commands which the church teaches as directly divine, or which it proclaims itself by virtue of the power granted it (profession of the dogmas of the church, and observance of the precepts of morals). When the acts of individuals are external, they become subject to human law (forum externum); but when these acts are entirely internal, they belong to the domain of conscience (forum internum).
—II. Constitution and Administration of the Church. 1. Persons. The constitution of the church, or of the society which constitutes the church, is that of a societas inœqualis, as it was called even in the middle ages. That society is divided into two different and separate classes: first, the clergy, the body which embraces all persons chosen to guide the church, to administer the means of grace left it, and to act as mediators of salvation to individuals; and secondly, the laymen, the people, the collective body of the faithful, subject to the guidance of the clergy. Sometimes the former are called the teaching, ruling or governing church, and the latter the learning or obeying church. The mark that distinguishes these classes each from the other, is ordination, bestowed on the clergy by a bishop, which is, as it were, an act of spiritual generation, and of itself confers the faculty (facultas spiritualis) of administering or dispensing the spiritual means of grace bequeathed to the church. There is a gradation in holy orders, according as this administration of the sacraments, or means of grace, by the very nature of that administration, supposes a power which does not reside in man as such, and which, therefore, can not be acquired or conferred without the indwelling capacity to confer it, in the person who confers it; or according as it may be exercised by purely human faculties. The priests (presbyteri, sacerdotes), through the sacrament of holy orders (the external sign consisting in the imposition of hands by the bishop, the invocation of the Holy Ghost, and anointment), receive the grace and especially the power of changing the bread and wine into the body and blood of Christ, and hence of performing the sacred function which is the central point of divine worship in the Catholic church. They are intrusted with the guidance of the life of the church in detail. Above the priests stand the bishops, as successors of the apostles, endowed with the plenitude of the priesthood, a plenitude which manifests itself in the spiritual power to grant admission into the ranks of the clergy, and especially into the priesthood and episcopate. The bishops become such by virtue of a special act called consecration, and are looked upon as the holders, necessarily and unconditionally called for the government of the church, of the fullness of power deposited in the church. From the bishops the other members of the clergy derive their powers, as well as the external right (called jurisdictio in the language of the church) of exercising the spiritual faculties which have been granted them. The episcopate is, therefore, the exclusive guide and ruler of the church, and this by virtue of its position in the church; its power is the ordinary, and hence is also called, by way of eminence, jurisdictio ordinaria; if any one else is invested with an analogous authority, it is only by way of fiction. The priestly and episcopal dignity is indelibly stamped on the individual; or, in theological language, it impresses on the soul a character indelebilis, so that the priest or the bishop may, in deed, be deprived of his right as such, but never of his purely spiritual power. Hence there always exists between them and laymen a profound spiritual ineffaceable difference. Below the priests, there are six other grades of the clergy (deacons, subdeacons, acolytes, exorcists, lectors, ostiaries), the members of which have no similar specific functions to perform, and to whom, on that account, the indelible character of the priesthood is not imputed. Their duties, in our day, in the church, are practically nothing; but in themselves these duties consist in talking care of the poor, attending the sick, and in discharging the humbler services in the church. Among the clergy are reckoned, moreover, all who have received the tonsure, and who are thus externally distinguished from laymen. The clergy are further divided into the secular clergy, and the regular clergy, belonging to the religious orders. The former embrace all who are subject only to the law applicable to the clergy, and, speaking relatively, to the law applicable to all the faithful in general; the latter include all those who live in accordance with a particular rule (regula, hence clerus regularis) obligatory upon them only by virtue of their own voluntary act. A person belonging to a religious or monastic body need not have received any of the degrees of holy orders, so that here the difference is not a practical one.
—The seven degrees of holy orders are divided into the higher orders (priests, deacons and subdeacons) and minor orders. All of them confer certain rights and impose duties which it is not necessary to enumerate here.
—At the summit of the episcopate, as head of the church, is the pope. The pope and the bishops are the necessary, independent rulers of the church. They represent the teaching, governing church. Their representation of the church takes place in a general council; such council can not, in the very nature of things, be always nor even frequently assembled. Hence, from the beginning, the guidance of the church by the episcopate was practically this: each bishop obtained (and obtains) a portion of the domain of the church, as his exclusive field of activity, within which he executes the mission of the church as teacher, priest and administrator of its laws. To the episcopal office, the only and fundamental one in the government of the church, there have in time been associated other authorities or bodies, the existence of which, not resting on any necessity, is a result of historical development, and consequently remains subject to that development in the future.
—Hence the constitutional and administrative organism of the church is the following: The territorial domain of the church is divided into dioceses. The occupant and ruler of each diocese or see is a bishop (episcopus diœcesanus, ordinarius). Several dioceses constitute an ecclesiastical province (provincia ecclesiastica) under a metropolitan, who, however, is only a judge of second resort, who is empowered to visit the dioceses of his suffragans, governed by clearly defined provisions, who has besides a few other powers, but whose office has by no means a complete intermediate degree of authority. In the early days of the church, several provinces constituted a patriarchate (Italy, the Roman; one at Constantinople, and one at Jerusalem, Antiochia and Alexandria respectively). The modern patriarchates, those just mentioned, those of Venice and Lisbon, and that of the Armenians and Maronites, are merely nominal, and without any juridical importance.
—The union of the bishops with the pope is effected by the constant intercourse that naturally results from the ever-recurring need of papal acts and decisions for the several dioceses, and also by the duty of the ordinaries of presenting themselves from time to time before the pope, to give an account of the condition of their dioceses in everything that pertains to the church; by the sending out of papal legates; but, above all by the oath of fidelity or oath of obedience, which every bishop takes to the pope at his consecration. Finally, the intercourse of the pope with the faithful (both ecclesiastics and laymen) affords him a means of obtaining information concerning the condition of the several churches, since every one is free, subject, of course, to rational rules, to communicate with the pope.
—In the guidance and government of the dioceses the bishops are assisted, so far as the entire diocese is concerned: 1. By chapters (metropolitan chapters, cathedral chapters, etc.). These sprung by degrees from the clergy of the bishop's city, and particularly from the clergy of the bishop's church; from the sixth to the ninth century, they led a life in common (rita communis), after the pattern of monks, subject to a rule; later they assumed, more and more, the character of independent corporations, a character which they still retain. The bishop is required to obtain their consent to certain acts, and to seek their advice as to others; leaving these cases out of consideration, cases which are distinctly defined in the law of the church, the bishop is not bound by the chapters nor obliged to choose his assistants in the administration of his diocese from among them, although practically he does so everywhere. 2. The vicars general (vicarii generales), who were originally, particularly in Germany, appointed as a counterpoise to the excessive jurisdiction of the archdeacons, and who by degrees maintained their position as permanent assistants by reason of the great extent of the dioceses and the frequent absence of the bishops. 3. Suffragan bishops (vicarii in pontificalibus). These are real bishops, consecrated with a title to dioceses which formerly existed, but which are now in the hands of the infidels (in Asia and Africa). These bishops are appointed by the pope at the request of the bishop, and, as mandataries of the bishop, perform episcopal spiritual functions. They are given only to cardinal bishoprics, to great dioceses, and to those in which such suffragan bishops are traditional. 4. Officials, with the same historical development and position as the vicars general, but limited to the exercise of juridica authority.
—In our days a formal tribunal for this purpose is usually appointed (with a president and at least four councilors), a tribunal which the bishop constitutes as he wishes. In like manner, there is generally appointed an official body for the administration of the diocese, under the presidency of the ordinary or of his vicar general.
—For the separate districts. The dioceses are divided into archdeaneries, deaneries, and district vicariates, at the head of which, named by the bishop (also by the clergy of the diocese, and confirmed by the bishop), there is an arch-priest, dean and district vicar, to whom belongs the supervision of the clergy in their office, of their moral conduct, the administration of the property of the church, and, as a rule, the schools for the children of the people. The dean, etc., is required to visit his district every year, and conscientiously to report its condition and the state of its accounts, and to examine the parish books; he is the medium of communication of the bishop with the clergy, and of the addresses or petitions of the latter to the episcopal authorities. He has no jurisdiction, but only the right to make expostulations, remonstrances, etc. A district of this kind embraces an indefinite number of parishes (parochiœ), each governed by a parish priest (parochus). The parish priest, accordingly, is the most important helpmate of the bishop. The parish priest has, as assistants, vicars, chaplains, curates, etc., who are appointed and removed by the bishop.
—2. Objects of the Church's Action. It clearly follows, from what has been said, that the life of the individual, in its totality, is the proper object of the action of the church, inasmuch as the mission of the church consists in this: to remove all contradiction, in man, between his will and the commands of God, that is, to bring perfect harmony into all his actions. Its efforts, therefore, by no means aim at doing away with natural (national, political) relations or conditions, but only at bringing them into harmony with Christian conditions, that is, at raising the principles, ideas and maxims that move individuals and nations in their doings, to the height of Christian principles, ideas and maxims. Hence it strives not to remove or destroy the external, special, peculiar stamp given to individuals and nations by their character, land and climate; but only to concentrate them, in their final end, on the goal to which religion tends, that is, on the world beyond. This sufficiently explains why the church has endeavored to leave its impress, and actually has left it, on all nations, on their different classes and on their condition, changing and transforming them; why it has endeavored to banish, and, by its influence, for the most part, has banished, from civil, penal, public and international law, every principle which was based on heathen views, or was in conflict with its own principles, or which stood as an external obstacle in the way of the full development of its doctrine. It is intelligible, that the church endeavored to exert, and actually exerted, a direct influence here, because it considered that in this manner it could most fittingly secure the actual operation and enforcement of Christian principles. Thus, during the middle ages, we see an infinity of objects drawn into its domain, with which, at a first glance, it would seem to have nothing to do. Men, in our day, are accustomed to look upon all this as a transcending of power, as evidence of the usurpation of the clergy, and the ambition of popes; they forget, that in looking at it through the spectacles of the nineteenth century they are judging not historically, but only critically. Denied it can not be, that all civilized nations have been educated by the Catholic church; that through it a Christian foundation was given to the state, and a new civilization introduced into all the departments of social life and of the life of the law. How deeply the necessity of the position the church assumed here, was rooted in the circumstances of the time and in the mission of the church and the state, in those ages, is sufficiently evinced by the fact, that this action of the church met with almost no opposition. All resistance before the sixteenth century was directed only against certain matters of detail. But, although the practical action of the church still may extend, or historically has extended, into every sphere, it can not be ignored that its direct action, so far as its end and mission are concerned, has not so broad an aim now, and that consequently no place in things non-essential belongs to it, that none such is necessary or can appear necessary to it, and that it has no right to such a place. Rather can the direct, immediate and ever-legitimate aim of the church be this and this only: man in his moral and religious relations. If the church here attains its object, harmony will of itself follow. Nothing, therefore, would be more foolish than for the clergy of the Catholic church to long for the recovery of worldly rights, honors and titles, as did the Jews for the flesh pots of Egypt. If the clergy be truly spiritual, and not worldly, if they keep in view, not only in the pulpit, but in their own body, alone and in connection with others, the honor of God, the salvation of their neighbor, and, finally, their own supreme end and esteem; if they only do all this, honor, and, what is of paramount importance, their own greatest efficiency for the elevation of society, will be better secured than if human laws prescribed that any homage should be paid them.
—Hence, what immediately and necessarily comes within the province of the church is, in the first place, the preaching of the divine word, that is, instruction in the Christian religion. Its founder has imposed on it the imperative duty to preach the word, and, therefore, given it the right to do so. It may, indeed, for a time be prevented, by circumstances beyond its control, from exercising that right, but it can never, in principle, abandon it, nor require any external recognition of it. This task of the church is called the potestas magisterii. To it belongs the religious instruction of its members, whether imparted in higher institutions of learning or in public schools, since it would be inconsistent to want the church, and at the same time to question its exclusive right of instruction in the faith. If there be no doubt in this matter, there is a doubt as to how far the influence of the church in the public schools should extend. No one will assert that the public schools have simply the duty to equip the child with knowledge. They are also called upon to educate and to train it, in the proper sense of the word; but education without religious principles is a radically vicious one. It is likewise manifest, that, since the majority of young people, on leaving the schools, cease accumulating fresh stores of knowledge, what they have acquired at school remains with most men the basis of their actions through life. But from this it clearly follows that the church, in respect of the public schools, can not confine itself to the task of merely imparting religious instruction, but must claim and have a considerable influence in the business of education in general.91 The means employed by the church in the exercise of its functions as teacher, are religious instruction to the youth at school (teaching of the catechism), in the church (Sunday school teaching), sermons, instruction by pastoral letters, etc., and, finally, by books.
—When, through religious teaching, the soil has been prepared for a Christian life, the individual in the Catholic church is kept forever mindful of his duties by the means left by Christ, for the sanctification of the different situations in life. The power to administer these means is the potestas ordinis. The means are the seven sacraments (external symbols), instituted by Christ, to which is attached an inward grace; through one of which (baptism) man is introduced into the church after birth; through another of which he is strengthened for the service of God by the Holy Ghost (confirmation); rescued from his lapse into sin, the consequence of human frailty, by a third (penance); by a fourth, the eucharist, he partakes of the body and blood of the incarnate God. By matrimony, a fifth, he is sanctified and strengthened for the natural alliance of the family. By holy orders, the sixth, those called thereto are endowed with the gifts necessary for a particular spiritual alliance with the church. Finally, by extreme unction, on his death bed, the Catholic is prepared for his exit from this world. In a word, in all the situations of life the Catholic is guided by the loving hand of his mother, the church. Besides the sacraments, hereto belong also the whole external divine worship (worship and liturgy), and what is connected with it (sacramentals, ceremonies, etc.).
—The exercise of these two powers, the potestas magisterii and the potestas ordinis, requires a settled order of things. The establishment and development of the latter, on the basis of the fundamental principles given by Christ, given with the church itself, as well as its enforcement, constitute the third power of the church, the potestas jurisdictionis, or government, in the proper sense of the term. This triple power, in its totality, resides in the episcopate, the bishops. The potestas jurisdictionis, from the very nature of the case, is chiefly that activity of the church which is externally apparent, and, for that reason, most capable of juridical development, and which in fact has a part in that development. In the exercise of this power the church enters the domain of law, and comes in contact with states, individuals and religious bodies separated from it. The principal departments of this jurisdiction are the legislation and administration of the church, particularly the creation and filling of ecclesiastical offices, the supervision of the administration of the clergy, the exercise of the judicial authority of the church over the clergy and laity, and the administration of the property of the church.
—3. Legal Rules for Ecclesiastic Administration. The ecclesiastical law is the sum total of the principles according to which the church lives and acts in its internal and external relations. Its sources are, in the first place, the positive divine precepts contained in the New Testament, which are, however, as a matter of course, but few, because Christ gave only the broad outlines of the constitution of the church, the development of which, as indeed the development of all law, is the work of time. In the first centuries of the church the customary law, resting for the most part on traditions handed down from the time of the apostles, was the most abundant source of the law of the church, yet one which subsequently receded before other sources, but which, at the same time—because it is the criterion in accordance with which all rules are established (rules required by special circumstances, and which are therefore gradually developed), that traditional customary law, of which we are speaking—is of great importance, exists even at the present day, and continues to modify many laws of the church. It now finds expression in the eigens ecclesiœ disciplina, which in many points varies considerably from the state of things supposed by the written law, which latter must take into account circumstances and the times. There are, besides, the canones, that is, the decrees of the synods, and the papal constitutions.
—III. Relations of the Catholic Church to Non-Christians. The church, as has been shown, maintains that membership in the Christian church is a fundamental condition to the attainment of the salvation of the soul. From this it deduces the right and duty of announcing the gospel to non-Christians, and of receiving them into its fold. This activity of the church is designated by the word mission. A congregation in Rome, bearing the name S. Congregatio de Propaganda Fide, looks after the execution of this task. To this end the congregation has an institution, in which most of the Asiatic and other languages are taught, and large revenues for the support of missionaries. To this congregation, under the guidance of the pope, are subject all countries, in which the church is either not tolerated at all, or in which it has not yet been able to attain the full development of its legal organization. Such countries are called terrœ missionis, in contradistinction to countries which are ruled by the common law of the church and by the regular hierarchy, and which are terrœ sedis apostolicœ. The system of church government in missionary countries must, from the very nature of the case, be dictated more by prudence (the circumstances of place, time, climate, political constitution, the stage of civilization of the people) than by the strict letter of the law. As means of conversion, instruction only is admitted: all compulsion, etc., is excluded. The violent conversion of certain German tribes (the Saxons), by Charlemagne, that of the Jews in Spain, and other and similar conversions, did not proceed from the church, although a few individual bishops may perhaps have approved of them. Such conversions are sufficiently explained by the views held in those times, which knew only Christian society (the ecclesiastico-political), and when states considered it a matter of duty to convert all non-Christians, even against their will. But from the point of view of the church, only man's free will can call for admittance into the church.
—It was an altogether different matter, when in many countries, during the middle ages, the Jews were ordered by the popes, at certain seasons of the year, to listen to Christian sermons, that they might become acquainted with Christianity. This was considered legitimate, because the duty of taking care that the truth should not remain hidden from the Jews was acknowledged. The Jews were tolerated and protected by the popes and bishops more than by any others, so that, relatively speaking, there are now more Jews living in countries formerly Catholic, and particularly in countries ruled by dignitaries of the church, than in others. But non-Christians, because they have not received baptism, stand in no relation to the church. For the same reason they are not subject to the laws of the church, nor can they, as such, be judged by the church. But the church, nevertheless, considers non-Christians bound by the laws which it calls divine, because engraved on the heart of every man. When, accordingly, there is question in its forum of the rightfulness of any act, the church does not decide it by its positive laws, but by the dictates of the jus divinum; for instance, it considers the marriage of non-Christians indissoluble. The matrimonial impediments created by the divine law (as, for instance, the impediments between those in the ascending and descending lines, between brothers and sisters, etc.) the church regards as binding on non-Christians. With regard to the admission of grown-up non-Christians to her fold, the church maintains that religious conviction only is necessary, but not any definite age or further requirements. Since all compulsion must be regarded as illegitimate, it is not permitted by the Catholic church to baptize the children of non-Christians, as for instance, those of Jewish parentage, against the will of their parents, but it insists that a baptized child shall receive a Christian education.
—Dating from the early centuries of the Christian era, and from the middle ages, there still exist a number of laws which forbid the intercourse of Catholics with non-Christians, or which restrict such intercourse to the absolutely necessary; but which forbid, above all, certain kinds of familiar intercourse with such persons (as the service as house maids, man servants, nurses, etc.), and which further absolutely forbid such intercourse with the Jews. Prohibitions of this kind existed until recent times in a few states (in Austria until the summer of 1859, but they were not enforced), and they still exist in several Italian states, in Spain, etc. The reason of such prohibitions, dating from early times, was the danger to the faith which that intercourse necessarily involved, so long as the Christian religion had not attained to full recognition, and so long as paganism had not entirely disappeared. With the Christian state this reason ceased to exist, when in the Neo-Latin, Germanic and Slavonic states the heathen religion was no longer tolerated. As reasons for the maintenance and renewal of these prohibitions in case of the Jews, may be alleged the embarrassing situations in which servants might be placed, the danger that they might become indifferent to their religion, particularly when not kept to the observance of it, or that they should be compelled to hear it ridiculed, etc. The civil condition of the Jews does not concern the church. For, although the state in many of its laws relating to the emancipation of the Jews places itself in contradiction with the principles of the Christian state, this implies no injury to the church so long as such laws do not affect the development of the church, and so long as the Christian foundations of states receive no injury from them. For I consider that the state has indeed the power but not the right to put itself in such contradiction.92 Yet it implies no injury to the church that the state does not impose any legal restrictions on intercourse with Jews, the church having always tolerated such intercourse, and considered it unavoidable. On the other hand, the Catholic church can not be forbidden to employ suitable means to prevent her children from being exposed to unnecessary danger to their faith, and hence can not be prohibited to warn them against the familiar intercourse referred to above. I am, however, of opinion, that we ought to regard the ecclesiastical laws which punish this intercourse with censures (ecclesiastical punishments) as abrogated by a desuetudo generalis (general disuse), by reason of the altered circumstances of the times, as well as because of the modern development of the state.
—IV. Relation of the Catholic Church toward the Greek, Protestant and other Christian Sects. It follows from what has been said, that the Catholic church considers itself as the church, and consequently as the only church founded by Christ; that it maintains its doctrine to be the Christian doctrine, and every deviation from it as error; that its fundamental constitution, according to its dogma, is the one which was given by Christ to his church, and that the non-recognition of the latter and of the historically developed powers of the church implies unlawful opposition to Christ and to his church. Since the church not only exacts an inward, but also an external, visible acceptance of Christianity, any deviation from its teachings, or non-recognition of it, not only bears the character of a sin, but is the subversion of the legal order of things, and hence has the character of a crime. From the nature of the case, it is impossible to admit a will in opposition to the church, knowing it to be the only true church. For this reason the church looks upon the voluntary rejection of its doctrine as the crime of heresy (from, to choose), that is, the non-acceptance of its entire dogma, and on the rejection of the constitution of the church (especially of the primacy of the bishop of Rome) as the crime of schism, and punishes the same by exclusion from the church; and prescribes to the Christian state the obligation on its part to take action against such crimes. Such is the view that was maintained in all Christian states, after the pagan religion had been prohibited in the Roman empire, until the sixteenth century; in Catholic countries this view continued to be taken by the Italian states until the revolution of 1859, and by Spain and Portugal; in non-Catholic states, by Russia, practically; by Sweden, as to the abandonment of the Lutheran faith; and it is well known, that England retained the same view in part as regards the Anglican church. But in Germany this view was changed after the Passau decree of the states of the empire (1552), that of Augsburg (1555), and the peace of Westphalia (1648). Owing to the events of the sixteenth century, the effects of which were confirmed by the laws of the empire above referred to, there arose a condition of things which had for consequence not only the individual freedom of belonging to any one of the three Christian confessions (Catholic, Lutheran and Reformed), but which also brought about the complete political equality of Catholics and of the Catholic church on the one hand, and of the Protestants and the Protestant church on the other, and even the individual freedom of Christians, to not belong to any Christian confession. At the same time, by the peace of Westphalia and the establishment of the normal year, 1624, a definite limit was put to the external jurisdiction of both the Catholic and Protestant church over foreign yet kindred religious bodies in the separate territories of the empire. In consequence of events since 1803, all jurisdiction of the kind has generally ceased to exist in Germany.
—In this way was developed the equality of individuals and confessions. As a consequence of this, the rule of the canon law has naturally ceased to exist in respect to Germany, to France, England, Holland, Belgium, the United States, etc.; because it is impossible to regard as criminals persons who are born and educated in a Christian religious community, tolerated by the state, on an equal footing with, or even with greater privileges than, the Catholic body.93 The church, therefore, regards dissenters from her teaching only as erring, as hœretici materiales, as they are called in the language of the church. For this reason also the penal laws of the church, as well as the validity of older prohibitions, respecting the intercourse of Catholics with heretics, have ceased to have any force. What is said here of heretics applies also to the non-united Greek church and its adherents. That this is practically so, and that this view has been maintained by the popes, is well known to every one acquainted with the government of the Catholic church. Herewith has also ceased the external jurisdiction of the Catholic church over Protestants and non-united Greeks. But so far as persons who secede from the Catholic church to the Greek, or to any other Christian confession or sect, are concerned, the Catholic church maintains, even externally, its own dogmatic view, which is, the notion of criminal schism, and of heresy, and the applicability of the laws of the church above referred to. The external application of these laws is naturally limited to the infliction of censures (excommunication), for the reason that the employment of other and temporal punishments, which were formerly always inflicted by the state, has now been abandoned. Practically these ecclesiastical penalties play no part, except when an individual wishes to return to the church which he had abandoned. Thus, although Protestants and members of the Greek church are no longer, as such, subject to the external jurisdiction of the Catholic church, still the view of the Catholic church concerning its own domain remains the same. By baptism, every one, from the church's own point of view, becomes a member of the society founded by Christ, that is, of the Catholic church, and is subject to its regulations, whether they rest on the divine law or on the positive laws of the church, enacted by virtue of the constitution of the church, and of the power bequeathed to it by Christ. Hence, when, in the church's forum, there is question of an act done, it does not apply those principles which non-Catholics regard as controlling the case, but its own. Practically this is of importance only as regards marriage, and the questions resulting therefrom in the several spheres of church life. For instance: the marriage of a Protestant separated from his wife, during the lifetime of the latter, is regarded by the Catholic church as void; and a son, the offspring of such a marriage, could not, without dispensation, be admitted to holy orders, propter irregularitatem e defectu natalium. It obviously follows from what has been said, that as regards Greeks and Protestants, in non-Catholic countries, the church must look upon the task it has to perform as a missionary one. And so it is in reality.
—For the admission of dissenters to the church, which, from the point of view of the laws of the Catholic church, is only a return to it, the absolute inadmissibility, in accordance with the above exposition, because of the circumstances of our times and of the obsoleteness of the older laws of the church, of all compulsion, or the employment of any means but instruction, must be considered as settled.
—The clergy of the Catholic church are under no obligation to exercise the functions of their office for the benefit of persons of a belief different from their own. In practice this can be asked of them only as to baptism, marriage and burial, because their other functions can not be performed in favor of persons not Catholic. As a matter of course, the church has no objection to the baptism, by a priest, of children of Protestants, at the request of the parents. In regard to matrimony, the church forbids the marriage of a Catholic to a non-Catholic, without, however, attaching to such marriage any definite, external, ecclesiastical penalty, but it does not permit the marriage of a Catholic to a non-Christian, on account of the matrimonial impediment of difference of religion. The present state of things in this regard, resting on modern papal constitutions, is to the effect that a mixed marriage may be allowed when it is promised that the education of the children shall be in the Catholic religion, and when the non-Catholic party promises not to disturb the other in the exercise of his or her religion.94 In such a case, that is, in the case of a mixed marriage, a dispensation is granted, and the nuptial ceremony of the Catholic church is allowed to be performed. But if the guarantees above referred to are not given, the Catholic priest grants only his so-called passive assistance in the nuptial ceremony. The Catholic priest may also attend the burial of non-Catholic Christians, in his priestly character, but only with the omission of all ceremonies, which, by their very nature, can be performed only over deceased members of the church. But there is no duty to perform such ceremonies, on the part of the Catholic priest, as that would manifestly imply unqualified compulsion, in view of the fact that purely political considerations do not demand ecclesiastical burial. For this same reason the state can not compel the church to officiate at the burial of nominal Catholics, whom the law of the church deprives of this benefit, or to accord them Christian burial. Catholic cemeteries, campi sancti, are considered as things ecclesiastical. Secession from the Catholic church, and going over to another confession, the Catholic church necessarily regards as apostasy and crime. Hence its law admits of no mode of leaving the Catholic church. The Catholic church makes admission to its fold dependent only on the knowledge of its doctrine, on the free will of the individual, uncontaminated by impure motives (as far as can be ascertained, for it is unable to examine hearts), and on the fulfillment of its precepts. When these conditions exist, it can not but admit the individual. But on this very account the church does not require for admission to its fold any definite age, any more than it does the consent of parents, guardians or of married people, to the change of the faith of either; because the conviction of the truth is an entirely individual matter, which, by reason of its consequences to the individual, can not depend on the pleasure of a second or third party. As regards the religious education of Catholic children, the Catholic church exacts unconditionally their education in accordance with its doctrines, and does not admit of any exception of whatever kind to this rule; a matter which has frequently been made a subject of reproach to it, but which manifestly is the natural consequence of its principles and convictions. The political point of view is here a different one from that of the church.
—V. Relation of the Church to the State. It is impossible to enter here into the historical and philosophical exposition of this relation, or to support the views here developed by historical proofs. All we are concerned with at present is to describe the relation of the Catholic church from the point of view of principle, taking into consideration, at the same time, the principles proclaimed by the Catholic church itself. All the decrees and tenets which constitute the sources of ecclesiastical law on the relation of church and state, are, from the standpoint of principle, just as little prescriptive as the decrees of secular laws. For all such decrees and tenets did not proceed from the whole church; they have not the character of dogmas, but sprung from the circumstances of the times in which they originated, and in which they all find their sufficient justification and necessary explanation. To make these tenets of the middle ages, or the general condition of those ages, an absolute standard for all time, is an absurdity which neither has a rational basis nor is even of any advantage to the church itself, but which, on the contrary, arouses a host of enemies against it, and thereby causes no little damage. The principles which result from Catholic teaching and from the development of its law, and which have no reference to special conditions, are these: the church is a power independent of the state, and self-dependent; its domain is a spiritual one, and therefore different from the political domain; it rests on divine institution; and hence, as to the powers bequeathed to it, and as to the means granted it for the fulfillment of its mission in the world, it is not dependent on any earthly power and requires no political commission. It is, therefore, subject to no state. It is not of the world but in the world, to lead mankind to eternal salvation. The Catholic church as the one church, the mystic visible body of Christ, the community of all Christian believers spread throughout all lands, is not the subject of the action or influence of any state, and is not, because it is the mystic, visible body of Christ, bound to obey the laws of any state. The Catholic church knows no limits, no nation, but only humanity united in the faith. But the worldly position and the worldly relation of individuals do not, therefore, cease to exist. Christ did not prescribe to his church the attainment of its end in any new way by the creation of artificial social relations previously unknown to the world, or of new political institutions or constitutions. The church's means for the reaching of its end are purely spiritual, moral and religious. Hence, the mission of the church is decidedly not a political one. That through the acceptance of Christianity, all social, and hence all political, relations should be gradually transformed as they actually were, was not the aim of Christianity, but the indirect result of its action, because through its influence humanity itself was renovated in a moral way. It therefore follows that the church in different countries does not and can not require that the people should abandon their political and social relations or circumstances, but, on the contrary, that individuals, each in the position in which Providence has placed him, should fulfill his duty, and, like a true Christian, whether as a citizen or official or soldier, as father or mother, as son or daughter, etc., merit heaven. Religious duties should not interfere with human duties, whether civil or political, and there should arise no conflict between civil and church duties. The task of the Christian state consists in the attainment of this end.
—From what has been said, it follows, in the first place, that the church accepts the political order as resting on the divine will, and that the authorities of the state rule by divine right. All, accordingly, are bound to obey the latter. But it follows, too, that no definite form of political authority or of political constitution, no single political system, can be regarded as the one specially instituted by God, but that the church recognizes the actual lawfully existing political authority of a state as the one divinely established. Not the church, but international law and history, must decide when any definite political authority can be said to exist by right; in other words, that decision lies outside the jurisdiction of the church. It is therefore perfectly true that the Catholic church as such is cosmopolite, and knows no special country; but it is wrong, on this account, to deny to Catholics individually, from the pope to the layman, the right of, or the capacity for, patriotism. Differences of political opinion and deep attachment to home, country and nation, are as natural to Catholics as to any others.
—Thus, the church is not divided into state churches. History shows that there is nothing more crippling or deadening to the inward life and action of the church than a condition in which it becomes the instrument of state administration, even when it happens that it is the predominant religion in that state. Nor is the Catholic church a state within the state. This is not possible from the very nature of its existence in most states, and of its constitution, which is the same in all states, the centre of which (its constitution), even in the interest of all states having Catholic population, should not be subject to a state foreign to any other states. It is, however, no contradiction to what has been said, that the church partakes in the sufferings and joys of every individual state, in so far as its members belong politically to such state.
—Within its own domain the church demands freedom of movement and autonomy, just as in the present day does every private individual, every community, every society, and every confession. The Catholic church can not on principle lay claim to privileges or rights of a secular or political nature; the loss of the old ones it possessed was, therefore, in principle no violation of right. But it can not be denied that the practical settlement of the relation of church and state, especially in Europe, is best with great difficulties, because our age has broken with history in respect to the development of the political domain, and because the church and the state, in most European countries, have a too intimate and historical connection to render it possible soon to find the right solution in the conflict of opposing parties, one of which desires to retain the condition of things historically developed, another of which finds the right solution in the absolute dechristianization of the state, and a third in the freedom of the church within its own sphere, the like freedom of the state, within its sphere, and in the action in common of both on a common ground. There are still other parties which do not well know what they want.95 (For the proper solution of the question of the relation of church and state, see CHURCH AND STATE, in Vol. I. of this work.
[90.]This article is intended neither as an argument for, nor as an attack upon, the Catholic church. It is a simple statement of its own doctrines, written by a deep thinker profoundly versed in its doctrines and laws. See note at the close of the article.—ED.
[91.]We have here translated the German Volksschulen by public schools. In writing the article Dr. v. Schulte certainly did not have in view the public schools of the United States, in particular. The Volksschule is a school intended for the people. It seems certain that what Dr. v. Schulte says of the attitude of the Catholic church toward the Volksschule is true of its attitude toward the public schools of the United States.—ED.
[92.]In our opinion, Christianity is not only the basis but the living element of our civilization; yet the legal foundation of the state does not by any means rest on Christianity. The state has not grown out of the church, nor upon the church, but is completely independent of the latter and of her dogmas.—BLUNTSCHLI.
[93.]Bluntschli here inserts a note to the effect that the state introduced religious freedom into the world. The remark is certainly a correct one. The principle of liberty of conscience forced itself into the world through blood, we might almost say, spite of church and state authorities, as a means "not to determine rights, but to repress violence and terminate quarrels."—ED.
[94.]There are those who consider this provision in conflict with the principle of the equal rights of confessions or creeds, and of freedom of conscience. But is not the member of a recognized Christian denomination, the statutes of which he freely accepts, bound by them?
[95.]The above article (somewhat shortened here by the omission of matter relating exclusively to Germany) was written by a distinguished Catholic teacher of ecclesiastical law, John Frederick von Schulte, the author of a great number of works on the law of the Catholic church. It was written for the larger edition of Bluntschli and Brater's Staatswörterbuch. After the promulgation of the decree of the infallibility of the pope by the Vatican council, Dr. von Schulte, with Dr. Döllinger and other learned Catholic divines and laymen, formed themselves into the body known as the "Old Catholics," a party which rejected the doctrine of papal infallibility as subversive of the ancient constitution of the church, as the absorption of the church by the pope, and as contrary to the doctrine Quod semper, quod ubique, quod ab omnibus. This is not the place to discuss whether the decree of papal infallibility changed the constitution of the Catholic church. What concerns us most in this work is to lay before its readers the meaning of that dogma, as understood by the best informed in the church itself—a meaning, which, therefore, may be considered the meaning of the Church. We give it in the words of probably the most eminent and learned of Catholic dignitaries, one whose name has long been familiar to Protestants and Catholics as well as to disbelievers both in Protestantism and in the Roman church. He says: "The Vatican definition, which comes to us in the shape of the pope's encyclical bull called the Pastor Æternus, declares that 'the pope has that same infallibility which the church has':* to determine, therefore, what is meant by the infallibility of the pope, we must turn first to consider the infallibility of the church. And again, to determine the character of the church's infallibility, we must consider what is the characteristic of Christianity, considered as a revelation of God's will.