Christ's Faithful People
|Protestantism naturally begets toleration of error. Rejecting the principle of
authority in religion, it has neither criterion nor definition of faith. On the principle
that every individual or sect may interpret the deposit of Revelation according to the
dictates of private judgment, it gives birth to endless differences and contradictions.
Impelled by the law of its own impotence, through lack of any decisive voice of authority
in matters of faith, it is forced to recognize as valid and orthodox any belief that
springs from the exercise of private judgment. Therefore does it finally arrive, by force
of its own premises, at the conclusion that one creed is as good as another; it then seeks
to shelter its inconsistency under the false plea of liberty of conscience. Belief is not
imposed by a legitimately and divinely constituted authority, but springs directly and
freely from the unrestricted exercise of the individual's reason or caprice upon the
subject matter of Revelation. The individual or sect interprets as it pleases--rejecting
or accepting what it chooses. This is popularly called liberty of conscience. Accepting
this principle, Infidelity, on the same plea, rejects all Revelation, and Protestantism,
which handed over the premise, is powerless to protest against the conclusion; for it is
clear that one who, under the plea of rational liberty, has the right to repudiate any
part of Revelation that may displease him, cannot logically quarrel with one who, on the
same ground, repudiates the whole. If one creed is as good as another, on the plea of
rational liberty, on the same plea, no creed is as good as any. Taking the field with this
fatal weapon of Rationalism, Infidelity has stormed and taken the very citadel of
Protestantism, helpless against the foe of its own making.
As a result, we find amongst the people of this country (excepting well formed Catholics, of course) that authoritative and positive religion has met with utter disaster and that religious beliefs or unbeliefs have come to be mere matters of opinion, wherein there are always essential differences, each one being free to make or unmake his own creed--or accept no creed.
Such is the mainspring of the heresy constantly dinned into our ears, flooding our current literature and our press. It is against this that we have to be perpetually vigilant, the more so because it insidiously attacks us on the grounds of a false charity and in the name of a false liberty. Nor does it appeal to us only on the ground of religious toleration.
The principle ramifies in many directions, striking root into our domestic, civil, and political life, whose vigor and health depend upon the nourishing and sustaining power of religion. For religion is the bond which unites us to God, the Source and End of all good; and Infidelity, whether virtual, as in Protestantism, or explicit, as in Agnosticism, severs the bond which binds men to God and seeks to build human society on the foundations of man's absolute independence. Hence we find Liberalism laying down as the basis of its propaganda the following principles:
1. The absolute sovereignty of the individual in his entire independence of God and God's authority.
2. The absolute sovereignty of society in its entire independence of everything which does not proceed from itself.
3. Absolute civil sovereignty in the implied right of the people to make their own laws in entire independence and utter disregard of any other criterion than the popular will expressed at the polls and in parliamentary majorities.
4. Absolute freedom of thought in politics, morals, or in religion. The unrestrained liberty of the press.
Such are the radical principles of Liberalism. In the assumption of the absolute sovereignty of the individual, that is, his entire independence of God, we find the common source of all the others. To express them all in one term, they are, in the order of ideas, RATIONALISM, or the doctrine of the absolute sovereignty of human reason. Here human reason is made the measure and sum of truth. Hence we have individual, social, and political Rationalism, the corrupt fountainhead of liberalist principles [which are]: absolute freedom of worship, the supremacy of the State, secular education repudiating any connection with religion, marriage sanctioned and legitimatized by the State alone, etc.; in one word, which synthesizes all, we have SECULARIZATION, which denies religion any active intervention in the concerns of public and of private life, whatever they be. This is veritable social atheism.
Such is the source of liberalism in the order of ideas; such, in consequence of our Protestant and infidel surroundings, is the intellectual atmosphere which we are perpetually breathing into our souls. Nor do these principles remain simply in the speculative order, poised forever in the region of thought. Men are not mere contemplatives. Doctrines and beliefs inevitably precipitate themselves into action. The speculation of today becomes the deed of tomorrow, for men, by force of the law of their nature, are ever acting out what they think. Rationalism, therefore, takes concrete shape in the order of facts. It finds palpable expression and action in the press, in legislation, and in social life. The secular press reeks with it, proclaiming with almost unanimous vociferation, absolute division between public life and religion. It has become the shibboleth of journalism, and the editor who will not recognize it in his daily screed soon feels the dagger of popular disapproval. In secularized marriage and in our divorce laws, it cleaves the very roots of domestic society; in secularized education, the cardinal principle of our public school system, it propagates itself in the hearts of the future citizens and the future parents; in compulsory school laws, it forces in the entering wedge of socialism; in the speech and intercourse of social life, it is constantly asserting itself with growing reiteration; in secret societies, organized in a spirit destructive of religion and often for the express purpose of exterminating Catholicity, it menaces our institutions and places the country in the hands of conspirators, whose methods and designs, beyond the reach of the public eye, constitute a tyranny of darkness. In a thousand ways does the principle of Rationalism find its action and expression in social and civil life, and however diversified be its manifestation, there is in it always a unity and a system of opposition to Catholicity. Whether concerted or not, it ever acts in the same direction, and whatever special school within the genus of Liberalism professes it or puts it into action--be it in society, in domestic life, or in politics--the same essential characteristics will be found in all its protean shapes--opposition to the Church--and it will ever be found stigmatizing the most ardent defenders of the Faith as reactionaries, clericals, Ultramontanes [See Ch. 19], etc. Wherever found, whatever its uniform, Liberalism in its practical action is ever a systematic warfare upon the Church. Whether it intrigue, whether it legislate, whether it orate or assassinate, whether it call itself Liberty or Government or the State or Humanity or Reason, or whatnot, its fundamental characteristic is an uncompromising opposition to the Church.
Liberalism is a world complete in itself; it has its maxims, its fashions, its art, its literature, its diplomacy, its laws, its conspiracies, its ambuscades. It is the world of Lucifer, disguised in our times under the name of Liberalism, in radical opposition and in perpetual warfare against that society composed of the Children of God, the Church of Jesus Christ.