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Article V.—MORAL RESULTS OF THE ROMISH
Catholic World, September, 1869. Article entitled "The New
Catholic World, October, 1869. Article entitled "Morality of the City of Rome."
It is one of the "Moral Results of the Romish System " * that it produces, among its defenders, some of the most unscrupulous disputants in the history of polemics. Other theological debaters argue for the truth ; and although the attitude of controversy is not favorable to candid hearing, still it is not impossible for the partisan to learn from his antagonist, and be convinced of a thing when it is proved. But the champion of Rome defends, not a proposition, but a corporation; and he is tempted to all the arts by which a corporation-counsel may hope to make a good case for his client. The Church must be infallible (if only we could tell where the infallibility is vested), for if it is not infallible, where are we all? Therefore, the Church is to be defended against all gainsayers. Or, to sum it up in the terse expression of the Catholic World for the current month, "his conscience is his church." *
* The Catholic World complains with bitter irony of the Rev. M. Hobart Seymour, one of the most dignified, as well aa able, of controversial writers, for using this phrase, the Romish system, "as he elegantly, in accordance with the exigencies of modern controversy, styles the Catholic Church." It is an extremely difficult thing to suit the morbidly sensitive feelings of "our Roman Catholic brethren," in this matter of a name. If we defer to their own choice in the matter (as we should be willing enough to do, for courtesy, if they did not immediately take a trickish advantage of it), and call them Catholics, at once they snatch at the word and claim that we have conceded the main point at issue. If, on the other hand, we take any inoffensive and characteristic designation of their party and institution, we are sure to be met with violent or scornful reclamations, or with a tone of serene, uncomplaining, injured innocence and meekness under outrage, which distresses us out of measure. We are seeking for light, and studying the things that make for peace. Will the Catholic World, or some other in authority, explain to us in what respect papist is any more an opprobrious term than episcopalian, presbyterian, or covgregationalist, as describing the adherent of a particular system of church-government; or wherein the name popery is any worse than episcopacy or presbyterianism, except in so far as the thing it stands for is worse; or how it should be an affront to call a man a Romanist, and not an affront to call one an Anglican or Oallican; or why it should be any more offensive to speak of "the Romish system," than of the Greek, or the Oxford, or the Genevan system? What can be the matter with a cause, every harmless descriptive title of which is repudiated as an insult by its adherents? It is an accepted law of language that the names of things intrinsically offensive tend to become offensive themselves, and have to be changed from time to time for new euphemisms. But this would hardly be cited by the Catholic World, in j ratification of its anger at the expression, ■' Popery," or " the Romish system."
As for ourselves, in our amiable desire to humor even the uureasonable whims of an opponent, we generally write out the compound "Roman Catholic " in * Catholic World, January, 1870, p. 647.
The working out of this identical principle into similar results is visible in the directly opposite fanaticism which makes a religion of denouncing and abusing this same institution as the Man of Sin and the Son of Perdition. The history of pious frauds in Christendom is the history, mainly, of two sects, one holding that a certain corpoiation is to be vindicated and aggrandized at all hazards, the other, that it is to be vilified at all hazards. Of course, the advantage of time, skill, and experience in the business, is all on the side of Rome. Anti-popery has showed a very pretty talent in that direction, though it can never hope to equal such masterpieces of fraud as (for instance) the Decretals of Isidore and the Donation, of Constautine But " the spirit that worketh" in the one and in the other is the same. The spirit that breathes through the chaste pages of Maria Monk and the " Wonderful Adventures of a French Lady," is the genuine spirit of Roman Catholic controversy.
There is a quiet gentleman in Brooklyn who sometimes writes for the New Englander, Mr. L. W. Bacon, whose experience of the dealings of Roman Catholic antagonists in discussion illustrates their unpleasant modes of controversy. Some two years ago he adventured a civil pamphlet in answer to Father Hecker's eight questions, "Is it Honest?" Wherefull. But it is too much to expect this of human nature in general. We cannot sympathize with the indignation that denounces Mr. Seymour for saying "Romish. System."
upon the Catholic World came down upon him with vast scorn and " aspersion of his parts of speech," finding in him nothing to approve or praise. Next he took to task, in an Article in Putnam's Magazine, certain petty impostures published in the anti-popery interest, which he liked as little as he did the brazen sophistries of Father Hecker. Whereupon the Catholic World fell (metaphorically) upon his neck and embraced him as a man exceptionally generous and noble; but regretted that he should have allowed himself to commend Mr. Hobart Seymour, whose statistical exhibit of " the moral results of the Romish system " was a most damaging argument against that system. Instead, however, of yielding to these soft solicitations, Mr. Bacon actually, in the July number of the New Englander, went so far as to vindicate Mr. Seymour's statistics, and even to give additional and more recent tables, which proved that what had been true in 185-1 was true in 1869 ; and that, by every accessible measurement, the morality of Roman Catholic countries was worse than that of Protestant countries. Instantly Mr. Bacon became, in the eyes of the Catholic World, a bad man—a very bad man. Gall and wormwood are nothing to the bitterness with which it apostrophizes him:
"Your persistence in repeating calumnious statements, and spreading them out aa you do among readers who will not see the refutation, will give you and your friend, Mr. M. Hobart Seymour, an unenviable notoriety among the worst calumniators of the Catholic religion who have as yet appeared. You have repeated some time ago, that most infamous calumny of the Tax-book of the Roman Chancery, so amply refuted by Bishop England; but although it has been called to your notice, you have never had the grace to apologize.* The old maxim
* Twice within the year the Catholic World has made this allegation against Mr. Bacon, with what justice the following facts will show: In the very next edition of hia pamphlet, after the Catholic World had challenged the genuineness of the document alluded to, he appended a note giving bis antagonist the full benefit of his contradiction, and waiving the use of the disputed document as unimportant to his urgument; and this noto has stood in all subsequent edit ions. See " Fair answers to Fair Questions," p. 41, note. We do not suppose that the Catholic World has gone on, month after month, reiterating this accusation, knowing it to be unjust. We presume that it has only repeated it nut knowing whether it was just or not, and not having so much as looked to see.
But since the Catholic World will insist on hearing further concerning this "infamous calumny," we submit the following from a recent Roman Catholio author, who seems to know quite as much about the matter as Bishop England:
"Since 1612, a fresh source of information had been added, in the shape of an official edition, printed in Rome, of the customary taxes in the Roman Chancery and Penitentiary. It was based throughout on the older arrangement of taxes, dating from the time of John XXII., but it was then kept secret, whereas it was now publicly exposed for sale. This publication, which was soon disseminated in every country, opened men's eyes everywhere to the huge mass of Roman reservations and prohibitions, as also to the price fixed for every transgression, and for absolution from the worst sins—murder, incest, and the like. This tariff was afterwards supposed to be an invention of the enemies of the Papacy, but the repeated editions prepared under Papal sanction, leave no doubt about the matter." "The Pope and the Council," by Janus, pp. 285, 286. * Catholic World, October, 1869, p. 55.
eeems to have beeD, " Lie as hard as you can, and lay it on thick, for it will all be believed," and hence we had onr Maria Monks and our Brownlees. Now the tactics are to be changed, and the maxim seems to be, '' Let there be some semblance of truth mixed with the lie, so that it may sink deeper; let the calumny be sugared over with'professions of 'fair play,' and it will work with better effect;" and hence come such things as the Moral Results of Romanism, by Messrs. Seymour and Bacon, the 'model controversialists.' " *
What the object is of all this violent, Irish sort of talk towards a person whom the Catholic World had just been commending in the most gushing manner for his equity and generosity in controversy, and whom it knows perfectly well to be more than ready, in the face of whatever denunciation from Protestants and of whatever abusiveness from itself, to render its party every jnst concession—what the object of it all is can only be conjectured. Is it the plan of the Catholic World to make itself extremely disagreeable, in hopes that its antagonists will decline further discussion with it, and leave the field to itself? Or does it intend, if possible, by making false and insulting charges of unfair dealing, to irritate its adversary into abandoning that absolutely fair play which it is so fond of clamoring for, but which, when it gets, it finds so embarrassing? Whatever the object of this foul talk may be, it shall not hinder us from dealing with the arguments and explanations and statements of the Catholic World just as candidly and courteously as if it had conducted itself with decency. We shall correct our own former statements with care by whatever light we have been able to get upon the subject, even though it may be from the Catholic World itself; counting it "fas ah hoste doceri." In like spirit, the republication of Seymour's " Evenings with the Romanists," which was annonnced in our July number, and of which the Catholic World says, "so all the old calumnies and falsehoods are to be circulated with redoubled activity, and the commandment, 'Thon shalt not bear false witness against thy neighbor,' conveniently be thrust aside,"—has been delayed for no other reason than that the questions raised agamst the truth of its statements might be examined with scrupulous care to do no injustice to Roman Catholics.
Now, in what follows, we need not say that we shall have no snarling contention on petty questions with the Catholic World. "When that journal sees fit to charge a venerable minister of Jesus Christ, distinguished for his uprightness, gentleness, and courtesy in debate, with "willful and deliberate deception," and with "mean and cowardly lying," of course there is no reply to be made. We have learned from Mr. Seymour's writings too genuine a respect for his name to do him the discourtesy of debating such charges against him. We shall proceed, in the interest of the public, and not of a private quarrel, to state the exact facts on the questions raised, making no use of the Catholic World, except to guide us to the points on which Mr. Seymour's statements and our own are called in doubt.
I. On the subject of Homicide, there is no appreciable show of objection to the figures given in the New Englander for July last, which prove "the proportion of criminal homicides to the population of different countries to be pretty nearly in direct ratio with the dominance of the Roman Church." These criminal homicides ranged according to the census next preceding the year 1854, from four to the million of inhabitants, in Protestant England, to ninety to the million in Sicily, ont hundred and thirteen to the million in the Pope's own States, and one hundred and seventy-four to the million in Naples. The census for the year 1865-6, shows the following comparison between Protestant England and Roman Catholic France on the point of criminal homicide:
To the Million of Population.
"of infanticide in various degrees,
Suicides, yearly average for 1862—5,