Church and State in the Modern Age: A Documentary History

By J. F. MacLear | Go to book overview

SUGGESTIONS FOR BACKGROUND AND REFERENCE

K. S. Latourette, Christianity in a Revolutionary Age ( New York, 1958- 1962), I, 285-287.

C. B. Moss, The Old Catholic Movement, Its Origins and History ( London, 1948).

W. J. S. Simpson, Roman Catholic Opposition to Papal Infallibility ( London, 1909).

J. F. von Schulte, Der Altkatholicismus: Geschichte seiner Entwicklung, inneren Gestaltung und rechtlichen Stellung in Deutschland ( Giessen, 1887). Source for this document.


71
Gladstone's Vatican Decrees in Their Bearing on Civil Allegiance (Extracts) 1874

W. E. Gladstone ( 1809-1893) wrote this pamphlet as a private citizen, but his political position (he had resigned as prime minister in February 1874) lent his views a far from private importance. The Liberal leader was answered by Archbishop Manning and Lord Acton in The Times, but the most elaborate contribution was that of Newman in his Letter to His Grace the Duke of Norfolk ( 1874). Gladstone subsequently defended his viewpoint in the Quarterly Review ( January 1875) and in a new essay, Vaticanism ( London, 1875).

A century ago we began to relax that system of penal laws against Roman Catholics, at once pettifogging, base, and cruel . . . .

When this process had reached the point, at which the question was whether they should be admitted into Parliament, there arose a great and prolonged national controversy . . . . The arguments in its favour were obvious and strong, and they ultimately prevailed. But the strength of the opposing party had lain in the allegation that, from the nature and claims of the Papal power, it was not possible for the consistent Roman Catholic to pay to the crown . . . an entire allegiance, and that the admission of persons, thus self-disabled, to Parliament was inconsistent with the safety of the State and nation . . . .

An answer to this argument was indispensable; and it was supplied mainly from two sources. The Josephine laws, then still subsisting in the Austrian empire, and the arrangements which had been made after the peace of 1815 by Prussia and the German States . . . proved that the Papal Court could submit to circumstances, and could allow material restraints even upon the exercise of its ecclesiastical prerogatives. . . . But there were also measures taken to learn, from the highest Roman Catholic authorities of this country, what was the exact situation of the members of that communion with respect to some of the better known exorbitancies of Papal assumption. Did the Pope claim any temporal jurisdiction? Did he still pretend to the exercise of a power to depose kings, release subjects from their allegiance, and incite them to revolt? Was faith to be kept with heretics? Did the Church still teach the doctrines of persecution? . . . They were topics selected by way of sample; and

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