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doubt the faith they have received from the teaching authority (magisterium) of the Church, and of suspending their assent, until they shall have completed a scientific demonstration of the truth of their faith.*
Again, the Council lays down, in respect to sciences properly so called, a principle which a fortiori applies to “historical science,” with signal impropriety so called, by declaring “that every assertion contrary to the truth of enlightened faith is false . Wherefore all faithful Christians are not only forbidden to defend as legitimate conclusions of science all such opinions as are known to be contrary to the doctrine of faith, especially if they have been condemned by the Church, but are altogether bound to hold them to be errors, which put on the fallacious appearance of
I have said that the treatment of history can only be called science with signal impropriety; and for the following reasons:
According to both philosophers and theologians, science is the habit of the mind conversant with necessary truth; that is, truth which admits of demonstration, and of the certainty which excludes the possibility of its contradictory being true.
According to the scholastic philosophy, science is defined as follows:
Viewed subjectively, it is “the certain and evident knowledge of the ultimate reasons or principles of truth attained by reasoning.”
Viewed objectively, it is "the system of known truths belonging to the same order as a whole, and depending only upon one principle.”
* Constitutio De Fide Catholica. Appendix, p. 206.
This is founded on the definitions of Aristotle. In the sixth book of the Ethics, chapter iii. he says: “From this it is evident what science is : to speak accurately, and not to follow mere similitudes; for we all understand that what we know cannot be otherwise than we know it. For whatsoever may or may not be, as a practical question, is not known to be, or not to be."
Such also is the definition of St. Thomas. He says: “Whatsoever truths are truly known as by certain knowledge (ut certa scientia) are known by resolution into their first principles, which of themselves are immediately present to the intellect ... So that it is impossible that the same thing should be the object both of faith and of science, that is, because of the obscurity of the principles of faith.” He nevertheless calls theology a science. But Vasquez shows from Cajetan that this is to be understood not simply but relatively, non simpliciter, sed secundum quid. The Thomists generally hold theology to be a science; but imperfect in its kind.
Gregory of Valentia sums up the opinions of the Schools, and concludes as follows: “That theology is not science is taught by Durandus, Ocham, Gabriel, and others, whose opinions I hold to be the truest." He adds: “Though it be not a proper science, it is a habit absolutely more perfect than any science;" and again: “Yet, nevertheless, by the best of rights, it may be called a science because absolutely it is a habit more perfect than any science described by philosophers."*
Temporal Mission of the Holy Ghost, p. 107–112.
Theology then may be called, though improprie, a science. First, because it is a science, if not as to its principles, at least as to its form, method, process, development, and transmission. And secondly, because though its principles are not evident, they are, in all the higher regions of it, infallibly certain; and because many of them are the necessary, eternal, and incorruptible truths, which according to Aristotle, generate science.
If then theology, which in certainty is next to science, properly so called, is to be called science only improprie, notwithstanding the infallible certainty and immutable nature of its ultimate principles, how can human history, written by uninspired human authors, transmitted by documents open to corruption, change, and mutilation, without custody or security, except the casual tradition of human testimony and human criticism, open to perversion by infirmity and passion of every kind, -how can such subject matter yield principles of certainty which excludes contradiction, and ultimate truths immediate to the intellect and evident in themselves ?
If by historical science be meant an increased precision in examining evidence and in testing documents, and in comparing narratives together, we will gladly use the word by courtesy; but if more than this be meant, if a claim be set up for history, which is not admitted even for theology, then in the name of truth, both Divine and human, let the pretence be exposed. And yet for many years these pretensions have been steadily advancing. Many people have been partly deceived, and partly intimidated by them. The confident and compassionate tone in which certain writers have treated all who differ from them, has won the reward which often follows upon any signal audacity. But when Catholics once understand that this school among us elevates the certainty of history above the certainty of faith, and appeals from the traditional doctrine of the Church to its own historical science, their instincts will recoil from it as irreconcilable with faith.
There is something happily inimitable in the conceit of the words with which Janus opens his preface:
“The immediate object of this work is to investigate by the light of history those questions which we are credibly informed are to be decided at the Ecumenical Council already announced. And as we have endeavored to fulfil this task by direct reference to original authorities, it is not, perhaps, too much to hope that our labors will attract attention in scientific circles, and serve as a contribution to ecclesiastical history.”
Janus goes on to say, “ But this work aims also at something more than the mere calm and aimless exhibition of historical events: the reader will readily perceive that it has a far wider scope, and deals with ecclesiastical politics; and in one word, that it is a pleading for very life, an appeal to the thinkers among believing Christians,” &c.*
We have here an unconscious confession. nus” strictly is an appeal from the light of faith to the light of history, that is, from the supernatural
* The Pope and the Council, by Janus. Preface, p. xiii. London,
to the natural order; a process, as I have said again and again, consistent in Protestants and Rationalists: in Catholics, simply heretical.
The direct reference to original authorities is, of course, a prerogative of Janus. Who else but he ever could, or would, or did, refer to the original authorities?
Again, it is a work addressed to scientific circles. Lord Bacon describes a school of philosophers who, when they come abroad, lift their hand in the attitude of benediction, “ with the look of those who pity men.” Is science in the Catholic Church confined to “ circles?" Is it an esoteric perfection which belongs to the favored and to the few who assemble in chambers and secret places? Our Lord has warned us that the science of God has a wider expanse of light. In truth, this science is a modern Gnosticism, superior to the Church, contemptuous of faith, and profoundly egotistical. It appeals to thinkers among believing Christians: that is, to the intellectual few among the herd of mere believers.
But finally the truth escapes: the aim of the book is not merely calm and aimless. It deals with ecclesiastical politics ; that is, it was an organized, combined, and deliberate attempt to hinder the Vatican Council in its liberty of action, and in the same breath, before the Council had assembled, to deny its Ecumenicity on the ground that it would not be free.
The book concludes as follows:
“ That is quite enough—it means this, that whatsoever course the Synod may take, one quality can never be predicated of it, namely, that it has been