History of the Catholic Church in the Nineteenth Century (1789-1908) - Vol. 1

History of the Catholic Church in the Nineteenth Century (1789-1908) - Vol. 1

Read FREE!

History of the Catholic Church in the Nineteenth Century (1789-1908) - Vol. 1

History of the Catholic Church in the Nineteenth Century (1789-1908) - Vol. 1

Read FREE!

Excerpt

The French Revolution marked the beginning of a new era in the political and religious history of the world. Till then absolute government in its extreme form was the ideal aimed at by most of the rulers of Europe; the principles of imperialism, which in an age of religious unity were such a potent factor in European politics, still dominated the minds of the leading statesmen; while the traditional union between Church and State, even though weakened by the Reformation struggle, seemed strong enough as yet to resist the encroachments of secularism.

Absolutism was not the product of the Middle Ages, nor was it the form of government put forward by the most reliable Catholic writers, or favoured by the Catholic Church. It grew up at a time when the power of the Church and of the Popes was seriously crippled by the religious dissensions of the sixteenth and seventeenth centuries, and it was in reality as dangerous for Catholic progress as for civil liberty. The Church, instead of having been the ally of the absolute governments of Europe, was rather their slave; but the apparent alliance was sufficient to bring upon her the hatred of those who favoured liberty, and to ensure that when the day of reckoning came the attacks of the masses should be directed equally against both throne and altar. This regrettable conjunction of religion and absolutism brought about by force and against the best traditions of the Catholic Church, was most unfortunate for the . . .

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