Chapter 27. Papal Infallibility (1867-1868)

{200} THE abandonment of the Oxford scheme was, in Newman's eyes, the final relinquishment of all hope of further active work before his death. He was sixty-six years old; and though his health was good, this was not an age for vigorous initiation. He was deeply pained at the action of the authorities in the Oxford matter. The powerful party headed by Manning had prevailed, without any opportunity being given to those who thought differently from them for stating their views. Cardinal Reisach had reported to Rome on the subject without even hearing Newman's case. Cardinal Barnabo was responsible for the 'secret instruction' and for the slur cast on the Oratory School by exceptional treatment. An entry in the journal on October 30, 1867, recalls the famous letter of St. Thomas à Becket to Cardinal Albert, in which he protests against the action of the Roman courts. To this protest Newman expressly refers in one of his letters. And, like St. Thomas, he appeals for the vindication of his own loyalty to the Church from the judgment of ecclesiastical superiors to that of God [Note 1].

'What I have written in the foregoing pages has been written as a sort of relief to my mind; if that were the only reason for writing, I should not write now, for I have no trouble within me to be relieved of. I will put myself under the image of the Patriarch Job, without intending to liken myself to him. He first strenuously resisted the charges of his friends, then he made a long protest of his innocence, and then we read: "The words of Job are ended." Mine are {201} ended too—I have said to Cardinal Barnabo: "Viderit Deus." I have lodged my cause with Him—and, while I hope ever by His grace to be obedient, I have now as little desire as I have hope to gain the praise of such as him in anything I shall do henceforth. A. B. and others have been too much for me. They have too deeply impressed the minds of authorities at Rome against me to let the truth about me have fair play while I live; and when one ceases to hope, one ceases to fear. They have done their worst—and, as Almighty God in 1864 cleared up my conduct in the sight of Protestants at the end of twenty years, so as regards my Catholic course, at length, after I am gone hence, "Deus viderit!"

'I did not use the words lightly, though they seem to have rested most unfavourably on his mind—nor do I dream of retracting them. For many years I tried to approve myself to such as him, but it is now more than ten years that, from failing to do so, I have been gradually weaned from any such expectation or longing. I have recorded the change in the words of my Dublin Sermon of November 23rd, 1856, though covertly and only to my own consciousness. "There are those who ... think we mean to spend our devotion upon a human cause, and that we toil for an object of human ambition. They think that we should acknowledge, if cross-examined, that our ultimate purpose was the success of persons and parties, to whom we are bound in honour, or in interest, or in gratitude; and that, &c. ... They fancy, as the largest concession of their liberality, that we are working from the desire, generous but still human, of the praise of earthly superiors, and that, after all, we are living on the breath, and basking in the smile, of man," &c., &c.

'And now, alas, I fear that in one sense the iron has entered into my soul. I mean that confidence in any superiors whatever never can blossom again within me. I never shall feel easy with them. I shall, I feel, always think they will be taking some advantage of me,—that at length their way will lie across mine, and that my efforts will be displeasing to them. I shall ever be suspicious that they or theirs have secret unkind thoughts of me, and that they deal with me with some arrière pensee. And, as it my happiness so to be placed as not to have much intercourse with them, therefore, while I hope ever loyally to fulfil their orders, it is my highest gain and most earnest request to them, that they would let me alone—and, since I do not want to initiate any new plan of any kind, that, if they can, {202} they would keep their hands off me. Whether or not they will consent to this is more than I can say, for they seem to wish to ostracise me. But, in saying this, I repeat what I said when I began to write, I am now in a state of quiescence, and fear as little as I hope. And I do not expect this state of mind to be reversed. God forbid I should liken them to the "Scribes and Pharisees"—but still I obey them, as Scribes and Pharisees were to be obeyed, as God's representatives, not from devotion to them.

'Nor does anything that has happened to me interfere with, rather these external matters have all wonderfully promoted, my inward happiness. I never was in such simply happy circumstances as now, and I do not know how I can fancy I shall continue without some or other real cross. I am my own master,—I have my time my own—I am surrounded with comforts and conveniences—I am in easy circumstances, I have no cares, I have good health—I have no pain of mind or body. I enjoy life only too well. The weight of years falls on me as snow, gently though surely, but I do not feel it yet. I am surrounded with dear friends—my reputation has been cleared by the "Apologia." What can I want but greater gratitude and love towards the Giver of all these good things? There is no state of life I prefer to my own—I would not change my position for that of anyone I know—I am simply content—there is nothing I desire—I should be puzzled to know what to ask, if I were free to ask. I should say perhaps that I wished the financial matters of the Oratory and School to be in a better state—but for myself I am as covered with blessings and as full of God's gifts, as is conceivable. And I have nothing to ask for but pardon and grace, and a happy death.'

Things were, as this last paragraph intimates, far better with him than in the sad years before the 'Apologia.' His hold on the minds of men was re-established. Yet the next entry shows some misgiving lest he may not be turning his renewed influence to good account. But as to taking further part in the controversies of the day he decided to let well alone.

To go too fast might irritate people. To pause awhile, on the contrary, gave time for principles he had laid down in his writings to take deeper hold on men's minds. To keep his name and influence secure from the onslaughts incidental to controversy might be the best means of enabling others, {203} when the suitable time should come, to use that name in the task of applying and emphasising his views.

On January 29, 1868, he writes thus:

'Our Lord has said: "Vae cum benedixerint vobis homines" (Luc. vi. 26), [alos humas eiposi], and I seem to be in this danger as regards the Protestant world. A reaction has set in, nor does one know what will be its limits. Just now, my Verses, which I have collected and published, have both stimulated and manifested it. I feel as if a Nemesis would come, if I am not careful and am reminded of the ring of Polycrates. Friends and well-wishers out of kindness are writing favourable reviews of my small book, and I am obliged to read out of gratitude what they say of me so generously. I have said: "the Protestant world"—but it extends to the great mass of (English speaking) Catholics also; till the "Apologia" I was thought "passé" and forgotten. The controversy which occasioned it, and then the Oxford matter and the "Dream of Gerontius" have brought me out, and now I should be hard indeed to please, and very ungrateful to them, and to God, if I did not duly appreciate this thought of me.

'Then comes the question: what use can I make of these fresh mercies? Not from any supernatural principle, but from mere natural temper, I keep saying, what is the good of all this? what comes of it? "Vanitas Vanitatum," if it is but empty praise. What use can I make of it? for what is it given me? And then, too, on the other hand, when I am well thought of, and the world is in good humour with me, I am led to say to myself: "Let well alone; do not hazard by any fresh act the loss of that, which you have been so long without, and found such difficulty in getting. Enjoy the "otium cum dignitate."

'"Otium cum dignitate" reminds me of "Otium cum indignitate"; yes, as far as Propaganda goes, and that English party of which Archbishop Manning and Ward are the support, I have been dismissed not simply as "inglorious," but to "dishonoured ease." And this would certainly serve as the ring of Polycrates, did I feel it—but I don't feel it. And, as I had said on some former page, I should be so out of my element if I were without that cold shade on the side of ecclesiastical authority, in which I have dwelt nearly all my life, my eyes would be so dazed, and my limbs so relaxed, were I brought out to bask in the full sun of ecclesiastical favour, that I should not know how to act and should make a fool of myself. {204}

'As my Lord had some purpose in letting me be so long forgotten and calumniated, as He has had some purpose in leaving me, as regards ecclesiastical authorities, under that cloud which He has lately removed from me as regards Catholics and Protestants generally, so now He has some purpose in that late removal—if I could know what it is. Perhaps He wishes me to do nothing new, but He is creating an opportunity for what I have already written to work. Perhaps my duty is, what is only too pleasant, to sit still, do nothing, and enjoy myself. Perhaps my name is to be turned to account as a sanction and outset by which others, who agree with me in opinion, should write and publish instead of me, and thus begin the transmission of views in religious and intellectual matters congenial with my own, to the generation after me.'

Newman gave himself for a time to slighter tasks, which did not need great labour. He coached the Edgbaston boys for Terence's 'Phormio,' which he had arranged for them in 1865, and which was to be performed again in May 1868. He arranged (as we have seen) to publish a complete edition of his verses, which he dedicated to Edward Badeley. The preparation of this volume was congenial labour. He once described his feeling about verse-making in a letter to R. H. Hutton.

'If I had my way,' he wrote, 'I should give myself up to verse-making; it is nearly the only kind of composition which is not a trouble to me, but I have never had time. As to my prose volumes, I have scarcely written any one without an external stimulus; their composition has been to me, in point of pain, a mental childbearing, and I have been accustomed to say to myself: "In sorrow shalt thou bring forth children."

'But to return to the verses, I am surprised at the high terms in which you speak of them. I wrote those in the Lyra just before the commencement of the Oxford Movement, while travelling, and during convalescence after fever, and while crossing the Mediterranean home[wards]. I have never had practice enough to have words and metres at my command. And besides, at the time I had a theory, one of the extreme theories of the incipient Movement, that it was not right "agere poetam" but merely "ecclesiasticum agere"; that the one thing called for was to bring out an idea; that the harsher the better, like weaving sackcloth, if only it would serve as an evidence that I was not making an [agonisma].' {205}

The volume appeared in January, and in its pages the 'Dream of Gerontius' took its place for the first time among his collected poems. The book was received with a chorus of praise, Mr. Hutton leading the way, in the Spectator. Newman was touched and cheered at its favourable reception. He writes on February 6 to Father Coleridge, who had reviewed the volume in the Month:

' ... I have not written to you since the critique of my Verses in the Month. I think I must find some ring of Polycrates to make a sacrifice to fortune, else, some Nemesis will come on me. I am bound to read the various critiques on me, for they are written by kind persons, who wish to do a thing pleasing to me, and whom I should be very ungrateful not to respond to, and they do please me—but I have been so little used to praise in my life, that I feel like the good woman in the song, "O, cried the little woman, sure it is not I."'

A peaceful spring and summer followed: 'four months,' he notes in his diary, 'of beautiful weather'; and in June he resolved to execute a task of love and pain which he had long had in mind—to pay a farewell visit to Littlemore. The visit is chronicled in a letter to Henry Wilberforce, who had written in the same month to urge Newman to pay him a visit at Farnham:

'The Oratory, Birmingham: June 18/68.
'Thank you for your affectionate letter and invitation—but I can't accept it. It is not much more than a week since I refused one from my sister. I have real duties here which make it difficult to get away; I am on a strict régime, which I don't like to omit for a day—and I have an old man's reluctance to move. I have promised R. W. Church a visit for several years, and it must be my first.

'I am gradually knocking off some purposes of the kind. When your letter came, I was at Littlemore: I had always hoped to see it once before I died. Ambrose and I went by the 7 a.m. train to Abingdon, then across to Littlemore—then direct from Littlemore by rail to Birmingham where we arrived by 7—just 12 hours ... Littlemore is now green.

'Crawley's cottage and garden (upon my 10 acres which I sold him) are beautiful. The Church too is now what they call a gem. And the parsonage is very pretty. I saw various of my people, now getting on in life. It was 40 {206} years the beginning of this year since I became Vicar. Alas, their memory of me was in some cases stronger than my memory of them.

'They have a great affection for my mother and sisters—tho' it is 32 years since they went away. There is a large Lunatic Asylum—separated, however from the Village by the railroad—so it is no annoyance—rather it adds green to the place—nor is the railroad an annoyance, for it is a cutting. It is 22 years since I was there. I left February 22—1846. I do not expect ever to see it again—nor do I wish it.'

Little is said in this letter of the feelings which overcame him at the sight of his old home with its sacred memories. Fortunately there are extant the written impressions of one who accidentally met him there, which help to fill in the picture. I owe them to the kindness of Canon Irvine.

'I was passing by the Church at Littlemore when I observed a man very poorly dressed leaning over the lych gate crying. He was to all appearance in great trouble. He was dressed in an old gray coat with the collar turned up and his hat pulled down over his face as if he wished to hide his features. As he turned towards me I thought it was a face I had seen before. The thought instantly flashed through my mind it was Dr. Newman. I had never seen him, but I remember Mr. Crawley had got a photo of Dr. Newman. I went and told Mr. Crawley I thought Dr. Newman was in the village, but he said I must be mistaken, it could not be. I asked him to let me see the photo, which he did. I then told him I felt sure it was [he]. Mr. Crawley wished me to have another look at him. I went and met him in the churchyard. He was walking with Mr. St. John. I made bold to ask him if he was not an old friend of Mr. Crawley's, because if he was I felt sure Mr. Crawley would be very pleased to see him; as he was a great invalid and not able to get out himself, would he please to go and see Mr. Crawley. He instantly burst out crying and said, "Oh no, oh no!" Mr. St. John begged him to go, but he said, "I cannot." Mr. St. John asked him then to send his name, but said "Oh no!" At last Mr. St. John said, "You may tell Mr. Crawley Dr. Newman is here." I did so, and Mr. Crawley sent his compliments, begged him to come and see him, which he did and had a long chat with him. After that he went and saw several of the old people in the village.' {207}

Newman returned to the Oratory that night, and resumed the little tasks of daily life. Old friends were now passing away, however, and he had it in his mind to pay some visits which might, he felt, prove visits of farewell to those who were left. In reply to a letter from Henry Wilberforce in which he announced the death of an old Oxford friend, he wrote thus on July 7:

'It rejoices me to think that you are at last in harbour in a quiet home and with a pleasant garden. My time is fully occupied here even with daily matters. Lately I have had all the Sacristy matters on my hands—have had to analyse all the details of the work—apportion it among four or five helps, and write out and post up the duties of each. The School always takes up time—and now the Orphanage is becoming in size a second school. And, during the vacation now coming on us, I must be at home, for everyone else is going away. When I go to R. W. Church, (I say "R. W." for did I say to "Church" it would be like Birnam Wood going to Dunsinane) I hope to take you in my way, if you will receive me.

'When I saw A. B.'s death in the paper I wrote to Rogers for some intelligence about it. He wrote to some person near A. B. From both their letters I could see that they had no very near sympathy with his fortunes—and I really think I lamented him more than any one in his immediate neighbourhood ... Alas, alas—perhaps it is that my sympathy is in my being old like him, and in going the way he has gone. "Omnes eodem cogimur," and one's old friends are falling on every side.'

A little later in the same year another old friend, Sir John Harding, passed away after a lingering illness.

'I don't suppose I ought to grieve,' Newman wrote to their common friend, William Froude, 'but I do grieve. Strange to say either last night or this morning I was thinking of him in church—I think I said a "Hail Mary" for him.

'I know it must sadden you, even though it be a relief, and I can't help sending you a line to say how I sympathise with you.

'I recollect thinking in chapel, "He was nearly the only person who was kind to me on my conversion"—(you were another). I met him in the street in London soon after it. He stopped me, shook hands with me, and said to me some very friendly and comforting words. It is the last time I saw him.' {208}

Still, in spite of the sad thoughts which the death of his contemporaries and his own advancing years brought, his own powers were quite unimpaired, and his interest in the subjects which had so long absorbed his mind was as keen as ever. He was conscious that he still had it in him to help to solve the great problem of the hour (as he viewed it)—to promote the influence of Catholic Christianity on modern civilisation. And he felt deeply that the jealous criticisms of his theological opponents tied his hands.

'Are they not doing the Holy See a grave disservice,' he wrote in a memorandum dated August 1867, 'who will not let a zealous man defend it in his own way, but insist on his doing it in their way or not at all—or rather only at the price of being considered heterodox or disaffected if his opinions do not run in a groove?'

The same thought often reappears in his letters at this time; but he submitted to these inevitable limitations, and he confined himself to work which could, he believed, be done without incurring the risk of censure. In the summer of 1866, while in Switzerland, he had begun systematic notes for the work on Faith and Reason which he had for years been contemplating. Henceforward he made this his chief occupation.

It did not directly touch any burning controversy. And he was satisfied that if he was allowed time and space he could develop his view without running counter to the best scholastic thought on the subject; although a brief treatment must of necessity be open to misrepresentation. Of the work which resulted, the 'Essay in aid of a Grammar of Assent,' which he accounted one of the most important of his life, we must speak in a separate chapter.

His work, however, was destined not to go forward without interruptions, and serious ones. The times were stirring. The destruction of the civil princedom which the Papacy had held in one form or another for a thousand years was going forward with ominous thoroughness. And it was a symbol of the final dethronement of Christian civilisation, so long imminent, but now on the eve of accomplishment. The French Revolution had nearly done the work. But there had been since then the kind of rally in a hopeless case {209} which at times deceives the watchers by a bed of sickness. The Romantic Movement, the Catholic Revival in France and Germany, associated with so many great names, had given Rome new hope. Then, again, the political world had shown a sense of the value of the Papacy as a principle of order—an antidote to constant revolutionary movements, eruptions due to the volcanic element the French Revolution had left behind it. Not only did the Powers restore the Pontifical dominions in 1814, but they did so again in 1849. Now, however, such reactions had ceased. The Papal sovereignty was clearly doomed. Napoleon III., from whose support of the Church so much had once been hoped, was no longer to be relied on. The Powers were, at the present crisis, with the Sardinians, or, at best, too indifferent to interfere again, as in 1849, on the Pope's behalf. Pius IX., the reforming Pope of 1846, became the bitter enemy of the modern movement which meant his overthrow. He continued year after year to protest indignantly against the apostasy of Christendom and to denounce the false principles of modern 'Liberalism.' The militant party represented in France by M. Louis Venillot, the editor of the Univers, claimed that their view had been justified. They had been right in proclaiming war on 'Liberalism.' Montalembert and Lacordaire had proved utterly wrong in believing that the Church could find a modus vivendi with it.

The policy of this determined group of neo-Ultramontanes became more and more one of extreme centralisation. It had been opposed from the first by leading French Bishops. In its first phase, when the editor of the Univers had been the henchman of Napoleon III., Archbishop Sibour of Paris had written to Montalembert a weighty letter on the grave dangers attending the line that journal was advocating. It was not Ultramontanism in its time-honoured sense, but an ecclesiastico-political movement practically abrogating the normal constitution of Church and State alike.

'When you formerly, like ourselves, M. le Comte,' wrote the Archbishop, 'made loud professions of Ultramontanism you did not understand things thus. We defended the independence of the spiritual power against the pretensions and encroachments of the temporal power, but we respected the {210} constitution of the State and the constitution of the Church. We did not do away with all intermediate power, all hierarchy, all reasonable discussion, all legitimate resistance, all individuality, all spontaneity. The Pope and the Emperor were not the one the whole Church and the other the whole State. Doubtless there are times when the Pope may set himself above all the rules which are only for ordinary times, and when his power is as extensive as the necessities of the Church. The old Ultramontanes kept this in mind, but they did not make of the exception a rule. The new Ultramontanes have pushed everything to extremes, and have abounded in hostile arguments against all liberties—those of the State as well as those of the Church. If such systems were not calculated to compromise the most serious religious interests at the present time, and especially at a future day, one might be content with despising them; but when one has a presentiment of the evils they are preparing for us, it is difficult to be silent and resigned. You have, therefore, done well, M. le Comte, to stigmatise them.'

These were the words of a wise prelate written in 1853. And now the misfortunes of the Papacy and the protests of Pius IX. gave a fresh impetus to the neo-Ultramontane campaign. M. Veuillot and his friends urged that the Infallibility of the Pontiff should be made an article of faith. They seemed to conceive of such a definition as a protest against an apostate world, and a crown of honour for the persecuted Pontiff. This way of looking at things was to be found in England also, and in Germany. Archbishop Manning told the present writer that he and the Bishop of Ratisbon, after assisting at the Pontifical Vespers in St. Peter's Basilica on the Feast of SS. Peter and Paul in 1867, as an act of devotion jointly made a vow that they would not rest until they had secured the great definition which was to give new glory to Christ's outraged Vicar. And very many shared such sentiments.

In that very year the Vatican Council was finally determined on. Pius IX. had first spoken of it shortly after the appearance of the Syllabus of 1864. It was designed to discuss and meet the evils of an age of apostasy. Its approach was formally announced on June 26, 1867, to the Bishops who were keeping in Rome the eighteenth centenary of St. Peter's martyrdom. The announcement was a signal for {211} renewed outbursts of militant loyalty. The years 1867, 1868, and 1869 were years of great controversial stress. Such men as Mgr. Darboy, who had succeeded Mgr. Sibour as Archbishop of Paris, and Mgr. Dupanloup, Bishop of Orleans, were indignant at M. Veuillot's unceasing attacks on his fellow-Catholics, whom he accused of 'Liberalism,' and on members of the Episcopate. They were conscious of being as loyally devoted to the Holy See as M. Veuillot himself. Veuillot claimed the sanction of Pius IX. for his attitude. But the Bishops denied his contention. He had made the same claim in 1863 for his denunciations of Montalembert's Malines address, and Montalembert's great friend Mr. Monsell had found it to be without foundation. Mr. Monsell had asked Pius IX. himself if the address was condemned, and the Pope with characteristic bonhomie had pointed to a copy of the address on his table, and said as he took his pinch of snuff, 'I have not yet read it, so it cannot be condemned. For I am the captain of the ship.' [Note 2] Dupanloup accused Louis Veuillot of representing his own narrow and untheological views on the Papal claims and his own hostility to modern science and all forms of the modern liberties as necessary conditions of orthodoxy. He published an Avertissement addressed to Veuillot himself, in which pain and indignation speak audibly. 'The moment has come,' he wrote, 'to defend ourselves against you. I raise then, in my turn, my voice ... I charge you with usurpations on the Episcopate, with perpetual intrusion in the most delicate matters, I charge you above all with your excesses in doctrine, your deplorable taste for irritating questions, and for violent and dangerous solutions. I charge you with accusing, insulting, and calumniating your brethren in the Faith. None have merited more than you that severe word of the Sacred Books,—"Accusator fratrum." Above all I reproach you with making the Church participate in your violences, by giving as its doctrines, with rare audacity (par une rare audace), your most personal ideas.'

M. Veuillot, who was in no sense a trained theologian, had used language in the Univers which must be recalled, as it is otherwise quite impossible to understand either the {212} strenuous opposition of men like Archbishop Sibour, Montalembert, Newman, and Dupanloup, or the extraordinary exaggerations still current among men of the world as to the meaning of the dogma of Infallibility. In defiance of the common-place of theology that the protection of the Pope from error in formal definitions is not 'Inspiration,' but only Providential 'assistance,' and that the ordinary means used by the Pope in forming his judgments are, correlatively, the regular scientific processes of theology and consultation with the Episcopate, whether in Council or otherwise, he boldly used the following words in a pamphlet called 'L'illusion Libérale': 'We all know certainly only one thing, that is that no man knows anything except the Man with whom God is for ever, the Man who carries the thought of God. We must ... unswervingly follow his inspired directions' (ses directions inspirées). Pursuing this same line the Univers laughed at the Correspondant for dwelling on the careful and prolonged discussions which were in point of fact so marked a feature the Vatican Council. 'The Correspondant wants them to discuss,' wrote Veuillot, 'and wishes the Holy Ghost to take time in forming an opinion. It has a hundred arguments to prove how much time for reflection is indispensable the Holy Ghost.'

In October 1869 the Univers printed in a hymn addressed to Pius IX. words almost identical with those addressed by the Church to the Holy Ghost on Whitsunday:

'Pater pauperum,
Dator munerum,
Lumen cordium,
Emitte coelitus
Lucis tuae radium.'

In the following month came a version of the hymn beginning

'Rerum Deus tenax vigor,'

with the word 'Pius' substituted for 'Deus' (Univers, October 21 and 28 and November 8).

W. G. Ward was carrying on in the Dublin Review a more carefully reasoned exposition of the new Ultramontanism {213} maintaining the frequency and wide scope of infallible utterances. While theoretically recognising the theological distinctions which Veuillot neglected, his practical conclusion as to the significance of the constant Briefs, Allocutions, and Encyclicals of the existing Pontificate was (to use his own words) that 'in a figurative sense Pius IX. may be said never to have ceased from one continuous ex Cathedra pronouncement.' [Note 3]

W. G. Ward was, moreover, an active talker. 'I should like a new Papal Bull every morning with my Times at breakfast,' was one of his sayings which gained currency as literally meant. His articles in the Dublin were, as I have already said, republished in a volume in 1866.

Newman followed the utterances of the Univers and the Dublin alike with profound and ever-deepening distress. His distress was the greater because of the noble elements in the Ultramontane movement, which were, he considered, being disfigured by exaggeration and party spirit. He had himself ever been an Ultramontane in the sense that Mgr. Sibour and Montalembert were Ultramontanes. He had held that the Pontiff's definitions of faith were infallible. But he felt deeply, as did Mgr. Dupanloup, the unchristian animosity displayed by M. Veuillot in the name of Ultramontanism against such admirable Catholics as Montalembert and his friends of the Correspondant. From W. G. Ward's writings personal animosity was absent. But his extreme theories touched more closely Newman's own field of action in England. And the blending of what Newman felt to be valuable with what he felt to be impossible to hold, in the face of obvious historical facts and recognised theological principles, was even more marked in the case of the English writer. To follow the lead of Pius IX. with loyalty was one thing. To commit Catholic theologians to an entirely new view (as Newman considered) ascribing infallibility to a Pope's public utterances which were not definitions of faith or morals was quite another matter. The immense value, for the effectiveness of Catholicism as a power in the world, of a hearty union of Catholics under the Pope as their general in the war waged by the new age against the Church, had been impressed upon {214} the Catholics of the nineteenth century by de Maistre in his great work 'Du Pape.' The gradual extinction of Gallicanism was the result of a movement which had in it very valuable elements. It was a simple and inspiring programme to listen to the voice of the reigning Pontiff as ever witnessing to the unerring faith of Peter. No one felt all this in his heart more deeply than did Newman. His whole sympathy was ever with obedience and loyalty. But he could not shut his eyes to the terrible revenges which time would bring on an attempt to identify the Catholic faith with views which ignored patent facts of history, including the human defects of Popes themselves, visible at times even in their official pronouncements. He could not forget such Popes as Liberius and Honorius. The action of these Pontiffs could, no doubt, in his opinion, be defended as consistent with Papal Infallibility, but only by those careful distinctions as to what official utterances were and were not infallible which were now branded as 'Liberalism' by Veulliot, as 'minimism' by W. G. Ward. Had the faithful at large felt bound, under pain of mortal sin or disloyalty to the Church, to be guided by the famous official letter of Pope Honorius to the Patriarch Sergius which encouraged the Monothelite heresy, they would have fallen under the censure of Popes Agatho and Leo II., who anathemnatised Pope Honorius for that very letter. Had the letter been accepted as the teaching of the Church, had a critical examination of its exact authority been treated as disloyal, the Catholic Communion might have become largely Monothelite. Even as it was, the letter proved, in the words of a distinguished theologian, 'a tower of strength' to heretics until it had, later on, been authoritatively declared by Rome itself to be no embodiment of her Apostolic tradition [Note 4]. Meanwhile the orthodox had resolutely to oppose the Pope's verdict. 'Though a Pope do all that Honorius did,' Newman had to insist in replying to a letter from Dr. Pusey, in which current Ultramontane excesses were treated as Catholic doctrine, 'he is not speaking infallibly.' All this was practically ignored by M. Veuillot [Note 5]. {215}

Able historians such as Lord Acton, whose attitude towards the Papacy was hostile, noted in triumph the unhistorical impossibilities which were being advanced as indispensable to whole-hearted orthodoxy. Yet the trend of events, the war of modern civilisation on the Church, the iniquitous spoliation of the Holy See, had in fact made loyalty so hot and undiscriminating, as in some quarters to put the interests of intellectual accuracy and candour in these matters almost out of sight. This temper of mind was prevalent within the memory of many of us. To qualify and distinguish as to the claims of the Holy Father's official utterances on our mental allegiance, seemed to many Catholics at that moment to be unworthy and half-hearted.

Newman had, then, the most painful and thankless work before him, of pointing out the dangers of a movement which was inspired largely by devotion to Rome; thus seeming, to those who were blind to the real peril of the situation, to side to some extent with the cold and persecuting world, and with half-hearted Catholics who were really disaffected and disloyal; to be, in his jealous protection of the interests of theological truth, guilty of intellectualism or intellectual pride.

Scrupulously anxious to keep his action within such limits as would secure its being, so far as it went, effectual, Newman took two significant steps—one in 1867, the other in 1868. It was characteristic of him that he carefully confined himself to English controversies—which came in the direct path of his own duty. And in each case, what he ultimately did was less than what he first planned. He had planned, as we have seen, to write in 1866 on Papal Infallibility in answer to W. G. Ward. He ended by encouraging Father Ignatius Ryder to write in 1867, and doing his best to support him by the weight of his name and by his acknowledged sympathy. In 1868 he encouraged Mr. Peter le Page Renouf to write on the Honorius case with a view to showing the difficulties it raised in connection with the doctrine of Papal Infallibililty. He proposed to make Renouf's pamphlet an excuse for writing himself on the subject, but in the end only did his best privately to urge the importance of the question being fully ventilated. {216}

In connection with Father Ryder's pamphlet there were two points which he was specially desirous of emphasising. The first (referred to in a letter to Ryder himself) was the degree of freedom which a Catholic might lawfully claim for his internal belief except when that freedom was barred by a definition of faith. He claimed freedom to differ from the generally received view, not universally, but in this or that case where the individual had access to urgent reasons for so doing. The second point was the necessity that the doctrinal effect of each fresh official Papal utterance should be interpreted not by the private judgment of the ordinary reader exercised on the text of the particular utterance alone, but by the gradual sifting of theological experts whose business it is to determine the authority of the fresh utterance and to collate it with other loci theologici. He believed that such scientific thoroughness gave far greater liberty of opinion to Catholics than Mr. Ward allowed them. His anxiety seems to have been, in view of possible future discoveries in science and criticism, to make it clear that the road was not finally barred to such reconsideration of some received views as might eventually prove necessary, but at the same time to leave the presumption on the side of what was generally accepted.

This line of thought was expressed in the first instance in the course of a correspondence with Pusey. Pusey treated Newman's repudiation of the excesses of Ward and Faber as an assertion of that principle of 'minimism' which W. G. Ward was constantly denouncing. Newman repudiated the charge. How hearty and thorough was Newman's own obedience to the Papacy, how ungrudging his recognition of the wide sphere of its authority, is apparent in two remarkable letters to Pusey written in response to a request from Bishop Forbes of Brechin for further information [Note 6]. {217}

'The Oratory: March 22nd 1867.
'My dear Pusey,—I understand that you and Bishop Forbes (who I hope will allow me to answer him through you) ask simply the question of fact, what is held and must be held by members of our communion about the powers of the Pope.

'Any categorical answer would be unsatisfactory—but if I must so speak, I should say that his jurisdiction, (for that I conceive you to mean by "powers") is unlimited and despotic. And I think this is the general opinion among us. I am not a deep theologian,—but, as far as I understand the question, it is my own opinion. There is nothing which any other authority in the Church can do, which he cannot do at once—and he can do things which they cannot do, such as destroy a whole hierarchy, as well as create one. As to the question of property, whether he could simply confiscate the funds of a whole diocese, I do not know—but I suspect he can. Speaking generally, I think he can do anything, but break the divine law.

'If you will have a categorical answer, this is it—and I do not see how I can modify it. But such a jurisdiction is (1) not so much a practice as a doctrine—and (2) not so much a doctrine as a principle of our system. Now I will attempt, at the risk of making a very long matter of it, to explain what I mean.

'1. It must not be supposed that the Pope does or can exercise at will or any moment those powers that he has. You know the story of the King of Spain who was scorched to death because the right officer was not at hand to wheel his chair from the fire—and so practically the Pope's jurisdiction requires a great effort to put it into motion. Pius VII. swept away a good part of the French hierarchy, but this is not an act of every day. Two things happened while we {218} were at Rome to illustrate what I mean. The Pope gave us the Oratory of Malta, and this, mind, not by any claim of general jurisdiction over the Oratory and other religious bodies, which are his own creation. We were talking of taking possession, (not that we had ever really made up our minds) when an experienced Jesuit at Propaganda said to us: "It is your interest to go to the Bishop of Malta. It is all very fine your having the Oratory there as a present from the Pope, but you will find, when you get there, that, in spite of the Pope's act, the Bishop is the greater man of the two." And since then I have always been struck with the great power of Bishops in their respective dioceses, even in England where (as being under Propaganda) they have not the power they possess in Catholic countries. Indeed, one of the great causes of the bad state of things in Italy is (I do believe) because the Pope cannot effect reforms in particular dioceses from the traditional usages and the personal resistance of Bishops and clergy. And again as to Rome, they say the Pope has practically hardly any power at all in his own city. The second instance which came before us when we were in Rome was this:—the Pope told the Jesuit Father that he had appointed Dr. Wiseman Vicar Apostolic of London. It got about Rome, and at length was told by a lady in all simplicity to Cardinal Franzoni, Prefect of the Sacred Congregation of Propaganda. He at once drew up and abruptly denied there was an appointment. He said the appointment belonged to Propaganda, to him, and the Pope could not interfere—and the Pope was obliged to give way—and Dr. Walsh was appointed instead. His abstract power is not a practical fact.

'2. And now secondly I observe that it is not so much even an abstract doctrine as it is a principle; by which I mean something far more subtle and intimately connected with our system itself than a doctrine, so as not to be contained in the written law, but to be, like the common law of the land, or rather the principles of the Constitution, contained in the very idea of our being what we are.

'I hope you will let me go a good way back to show this, though I fear you may think me dissertating; but it will lead me to remark on a previous question to the one you ask me, and which I really ought to handle, lest in answering your question at all, I lead you to think I am able to follow you in a view of it which I cannot take.

'I must then deliver a sort of Sermon against Minimism and Minimists. {219}

'The words then of Councils, &c., on the subject of the Pope's powers are (to a certain degree) vague, as you say, and indefinite; even for this reason, viz.—from the strong reluctance which has ever been felt, to restrict the liberty of thinking and judging more than was absolutely necessary, as a matter of sacred duty, in order to the maintenance of the revealed depositum. It has always been trusted that the received belief of the faithful and the obligations of piety would cover a larger circuit of doctrinal matter than was formally claimed, and secure a more generous faith than was imperative on the conscience. Hence there has never been a wish on the part of the Church to cut clean between doctrine revealed and doctrine not revealed; first indeed, because she actually cannot do so at any given moment, but is illuminated from time to time as to what was revealed in the beginning on this or that portion of the whole mass of teaching which is now received; but secondly, because for that very reason she would be misrepresenting the real character of the dispensation, as God has given it, and would be abdicating her function, and misleading her children into the notion that she was something obsolete and passé, considered as a divine oracle, and would be transferring their faith from resting on herself as the organ of revelation (and in some sense improprié) as its formal object, simply to a code of certain definite articles or a written creed (or material object) if she authoritatively said that so much, and no more, is "de fide Catholica" and binding on our inward assent. Accordingly, the act of faith, as we consider, must now be partly explicit, partly implicit; viz. "I believe whatever ever has been and whatever shall be defined as revelation by the Church who is the origin of revelation"; or again, "I believe in the Church's teaching, whether explicit or implicit," i.e. "Ecclesiae docenti et explicite et implicite." This rule applies both to learned and to ignorant; for, as the ignorant, who does not understand theological terms, must say, "I believe the Athanasian Creed in that sense in which the Church puts it forward," or, "I believe that the Church is veracious," so the learned, though they do understand the theological wording of that Creed, and can say intelligently what the ignorant cannot say, viz. "I believe that there are Three Aeterni, and one Aeternus," still have need to add, "I believe it because the Church has declared it," and, "I believe all that the Church has defined or shall define as revealed," and "I absolutely submit my mind with {220} an inward assent to the Church, as the teacher of the whole faith."

'Accordingly the use of such books as Veron's and Chrissman's (which contain that "Minimum" which Dr. Forbes asks about) is mainly to ascertain the matter of fact, viz. what at present is defined by the Church as "de fide"; and, with whatever difference in the way of putting it, they would not deny that it is in the power of the Church to define points hitherto open, and that the faithful are bound to accept these with an inward assent when they are defined.

'But post time has come,—and perhaps I ought to let it bring what I have to say to an end—yet, if you will let me, I should like to run out what I have begun—though it will give you trouble to read. Ever yours affectionately,

'The Oratory, Birmingham: March 23rd, 1867.
'My dear Pusey,—I do hope you will not think I am preaching—but to answer you, without showing you that the answer is given from a different basis from that on which the question is asked, would be to mislead you and the Bishop—it would in fact be an equivocation—for "Minimism" in my mouth does not mean the same thing as in yours.

'I ended yesterday by saying that such writers as Veron and Chrissman and Denzinger, in laying down what was "de fide," never pretended to exclude the principle that it was "de fide" because the Church taught it as such, and that she could teach other things as "de fide" by the same right as she taught what she now teaches as such. This is our broad principle, held by all of whatever shade of theological opinion. While it would be illogical not to give an inward assent to what she has already declared to be revealed, so it is pious and religious to believe, or at least not to doubt, what, though in fact not defined, still it is probable she might define as revealed, or that she will define, or seems to consider to be revealed.

'To illustrate the difference between simply faith and religiousness:—it is as great a sin against faith to deny that there is a Purgatory as to deny that there is the Beatific Vision; but it is a sin against religiousness as well as against faith to deny the latter. And so, as to the Church's teaching about the Holy See, before the Council of Florence, about which you ask (supposing the following point was not already defined, which I do not know) it might be pious to believe, and a defect in piety (in educated men) not to believe that the Pope was "totius Ecclesiae Doctor," because it was {221} clear the Church held it, and probable that she might and would define it; and it is this spirit of piety which holds together the whole Church. We embrace and believe what we find universally received, till a question arises about any particular point. Thus, as to our Lord's perfect knowledge in His Human Nature, we might always have admitted it without a question through piety to the general voice—then, when the controversy arose, we might ask ourselves if it had been defined, examine the question for ourselves and end the examination by (wrongly but allowably) doubting of it; but then when the definition was published in its favour, we should submit our minds to the obedience of faith. So again Galileo, supposing he began (I have no reason for implying or thinking he did, but supposing he began) with doubting the received doctrine about the centrality of the earth, I think he would have been defective in religiousness; but not defective in faith, (unless indeed by chance he erroneously thought that the centrality had been defined). On the other hand, when he saw good reasons for doubting it, it was very fair to ask, and implied no irreligiousness,—"After all, is it defined?" and then, on inquiry, he would have found liberty of thought "in possession," and would both by right and with piety doubt of the earth's centrality.

'Applying this principle to the Pope's Infallibility, (N.B. this of course is mine own opinion only, meo periculo) a man will find it a religious duty to believe it or may safely disbelieve it, in proportion as he thinks it probable or improbable that the Church might or will define it, or does hold it, and that it is the doctrine of the Apostles. For myself, (still to illustrate what I mean, not as arguing) I think that the Church may define it (i.e. it possibly may turn out to belong to the original depositum), but that she will not ever define it; and again I do not see that she can be said to hold it. She never can simply act upon it, (being undefined, as it is) and I believe never has;—moreover, on the other hand, I think there is a good deal of evidence, on the very surface of history and the Fathers in its favour. On the whole then I hold it; but I should account it no sin if, on the grounds of reason, I doubted it.

'I have made this long talk by way of protest against the principle of the "Minimum" which both you and Dr. Forbes stand upon, and which we never can accept as a principle, or as a basis of an Eirenicon. It seems to us false, and we must ever hold, on the contrary, that the object of faith is not {222} simply certain articles, A. B. C. D. contained in dumb documents, but the whole word of God, explicit, and implicit, as dispensed by His living Church. On this point I am sure there can be no Eirenicon; for it marks a fundamental, elementary difference between the Anglican view and ours, and every attempt to bridge it over will but be met in the keen and stern temper of Cardinal Patrizzi's letter [Note 7].

'Nor is the point which is the direct subject of your question much or at all less an elementary difference of principle between us; viz. the Pope's jurisdiction:—it is a difference of principle even more than of doctrine. That that jurisdiction is universal is involved in the very idea of a Pope at all. I can easily understand that it was only partially apprehended in the early ages of the Church, and that, as Judah in the Old Covenant was not duly recognised and obeyed as the ruling tribe except gradually, so St. Cyprian or St. Augustine in Africa (if so) or St. Basil in Asia Minor (if so) may have fretted under the imperiousness of Rome, and not found a means of resignation in their trouble ready at hand in a clear view (which they had not) that Rome was one of the powers that be, which are ordained of God. It required time for Christians to enter into the full truth, so as always on all points to think and act aright; and in saying