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the person of the chief Bishop, whether in words they attribute inerrancy directly to him or metaphorically to his see. If the Pope be then infallible, he is personally infallible.”*
I will now add only two more witnesses who bore their testimony in the last century, but lived on into the present, Bishop Hay, who died in 1811, and Bishop Milner, who died in 1826.
Bishop Hay, in his “ Sincere Christian," writes as follows:
“Q. 27. On what grounds do these divines found their opinion, who believe that the Pope himself, when he speaks to all the faithful as head of the Church, is infallible in what he teaches?
“ A. On several very strong reasons, both from scripture, tradition and reason.”
He then draws out these three fully and abundantly; and this done, he asks :
Q. 31. But what proofs do the others bring for their opinion that the head of the Church is not infallible?
" A. They bring not one text of Scripture to prove it," &c.
Lastly, Bishop Milner in his book called “ Ecclesiastical Democracy detected,” published in 1793, after saying in the text, “ The controversy of the Pope's inerrancy is here entirely out of the question,” adds the following note: “It is true I was educated in the belief of this inerrancy; nor have I yet seen sufficient argument to change my opinion. ... But if the layman, who never fails to ridicule
* Observations on the Oath proposed to the English Roman Catholics, by Charles Plowden, p. 43. London, 1790.
the doctrine in question, is willing fairly to contest it, he knows where to meet with an antagonist ready to engage with him. Against one assertion however of this writer, which insinuates the political danger arising from the doctrine of Papal Infallibility, I will hurl defiance at him; nothing being more
! easy to show, than that no greater danger can result to the State from admitting the inerrancy of the Pope than from admitting that of the Church itself."*
I only hope we shall now hear no more that the Catholics of England have not believed, or have not been taught this doctrine ; nor that the “ Old Catholics" of England refuse to believe the new opinions, and the like. We have heard too much of this: and the honored name of those who through three hundred years of persecution have kept the faith, has been too much dishonored by imputing to them that they are not faithful to the Martyrs, Confessors and Doctors of England. The faith of St. Anselm and St. Thomas, of Thomas More and Cardinal Fisher, of Hay and Milner, is the faith of the Catholics of England. Whoso departs from it forfeits his share in the inheritance of fidelity they have handed down.
I will now add a few words on the disastrous consequences predicted from the Definition.
We were told that the Definition of the Infallibility would alienate the fairest provinces of the Catholic Church, divide the Church into parties, drive the scientific and independent into separation, and set the reason of mankind against the supersti
* Ecclesiastical Democracy detected, p. 98. London, 1793.
tions of Rome. We were told of learned professors, theological faculties, entire universities, inultitudes of laity, hundreds of clergy, the flower of the episcopate, who were prepared to protest as a body, and to secede. There was to be a secession in France, in Germany, in Austria, in Hungary. The “Old Catholics " of England would never hear of this new dogma, and with difficulty could be made to hold their peace. Day by day, these illusions have been sharply dispelled ; but not a word of acknowledgment is to be heard. A professor is suspended a divinis in Germany; a score or two of lay professors, led by a handful whose names are already notorious, and a hundred or so of laymen who, before the Council met, began to protest against its acts, convoke a Congress, which ends in a gathering of some twenty persons. These, with the alleged opposition of one Bishop, whose name out of respect I do not write, as the allegation has never yet been confirmed by his own word or act, these are hitherto the adverse consequences of the Definition.
On the other hand, the Bishops who, because they opposed the Definition as inopportune, were calumniously paraded as opposed to the doctrine of Infallibility, at once began to publish their submission to the acts of the Council. The greater part of the French Bishops who were once in opposition, have explicitly declared their adhesion. The German Bishops, meeting again at Fulda, issued a Pastoral Letter, so valuable in itself, that I have reprinted it in the Appendix.* It was signed by seventeen, including all the Chief Bishops of Germany. The others, if silent, cannot be doubted. The leading Bishops of Austria and Hungary, who may be taken as representing the Episcopates of these countries, have in like manner declared themselves. The Clergy and the faithful of these kingdoms, with the rarest exceptions of an individual here and there, are, as they have always been, of one mind in accepting the definition with joy. Ireland has spoken for itself, not only in many dioceses, and by its Bishops, but by the Triduum, or Thanksgiving of three days, held in Dublin with great solemnity and with a concourse, as I am informed by direct correspondence, such as was never seen before. Of England I need say little. The Clergy of this diocese have twice spoken for themselves; and the Clergy of England and Scotland have given unequivocal witness to their faith. As we hear so much and so often of those among us who are called “the Old Catholics," that is, the sons of our martyrs and confessors; and as their name is so lightly and officiously taken in vain by those who desire to find or to make divisions among us, you will not need, but nevertheless be glad, to know, that both by word and by letter I have received from the chief and foremost among them, express assurance that what the Council has defined they have always believed. It is but their old faith in an explicit formula. Among the disappointments to which our adversaries, I regret so to call them, but truth must be spoken, have doomed themse.ves, none is greater than this. They have labored to believe and to make others believe that the Catholic Church is internally divided ; that the Council has revealed this
* See Appendix, p. 247.
division; and that it is nowhere more patent than in England. It is, I know, useless to contradict this illusion. It is not founded in reason, and cannot by reason be corrected. Prejudice and passion are deaf and blind. Time and facts will dispel illusions, and expose falsehoods. And to this slow but inexorable cure we must leave them. It is no evidence of division among us, if here and there a few individuals should fall away. I said before, the Council will be in ruinam et in ressurrectionem multorum. It is a time of spiritual danger to many; especially to those who live perpetually among adversaries, hearing diatribes all day long against the Church, the Council, and the Holy Father, reading anti-Catholic accounts and comments upon Catholic doctrines, and upon the words and acts of Catholic Bishops, and always breathing, till they are unconscious of it, an anti-Catholic atmosphere.
St. Paul has foretold that “In the last days shall come dangerous times," * and “in the last times some shall depart from the faith.”+ Those days seem now to be upon us; and individuals perhaps may fall. But the fall of leaves and sprays and boughs does not divide the Tree. You will know how to deal with them in charity, patience, and firmness, before you act on the Apostolic precept, “A man that is a heretic, after the first and second admonition, avoid.” † You will use all the patience of charity, but you will use also, if need be so, its just severity. In these days, laxity is mistaken for charity, and indifference to truth for love of souls.
* 2 Tim. iii. 1.
+ 1 Tim. iv. 1.
| Tit. iii. 10.