forbidden. Spiritists are to be considered and treated as heretics, and not to be admitted to the Sacraments without previous abjuration (164). It is impossible to include all bad books in the Index, but those inserted are prohibited in any language. Of all bad books, those written in the guise of fiction (hispanice Novelas, lusitanice Romances, gallice Romans) and plays are the most dangerous; and parish priests, preachers, and confessors are to use their utmost endeavours to preserve the faithful from this deadly infection. Public discussion with heretics is discouraged, unless under special circumstances.

Then follows the condemnation of secret and unlawful societies, specially of Freemasons. The Encyclicals of Pius IX. and of Leo XIII. against the Freemasons are highly praised. The faithful are bound under penalty of excommunication to denounce the leaders. Freemasons are to be refused absolution; they cannot be sponsors at Baptism or Confirmation; they may not assist at Mass, nor receive Christian marriage, and are to be refused Church burial.

As was to be expected from the well-known sentiments of Leo XIII., there are many expressions of sympathy with the lot of the working-man. Not only justice but charity is required at the hands of the employers, and wages sufficient for the support of the workers and their families are insisted on. As a protection against socialism, the institution of Catholic working-men's clubs, under the patronage of the bishop, is warmly recommended.

Usury is denounced in general terms, but interest in railway shares, or from other works of public

utility, or from the public funds, may be accepted with a safe conscience. In other cases the decrees of the Holy See and the works of approved authors are to be consulted. Mortgages, obligations, and annuities are allowed as investments of Church movable property; little to be approved of in themselves, they are permitted on account of the necessities of the times. Speaking generally, the rules for the management and preservation of Church property, the regulation of ecclesiastical tariffs and fees for Church offices, and all other business matters, are admirable. But the paragraph denouncing the traffic in Masses perhaps shows that the danger of the practice still exists.

All that relates to the working of the hierarchy of the Church, and its various degrees, and their due subordination, is very practical. Rural deans are to report to the bishop every January on the state of the clergy of their deanery; cathedral chapters are to be held every month; diocesan synods are to assemble biennially or triennially; provincial synods should be annual, but in the peculiar circumstances and difficulties of Latin America they may be held every twelve years; missionary clergy are also bound to hold the different synods as far as possible. All the regular clergy are under the jurisdiction and authority of the bishops, and cannot do anything without their licence. The bishop is aided by capitular vicars, by vicars-general, and by examining chaplains. He is also to appoint four or two consultors, or assessors, every three years to assist him in all difficult matters in place of the chapter. The Abbé Boudinhon remarks on this, "that if we

consider the precarious situation of the Chapters in some countries, the institution of this Council of the bishop seems to indicate the organization which will supplant them." He is the trustee of all the Church property in his diocese. Above the bishops are the Metropolitans, who summon and preside at the provincial synods and the meetings of the Bishops. The visit to Rome ad limina must be made by all bishops and apostolic vicars every ten years, to pay homage to the Roman Pontiff and to give an account of their work. The bishops are bound to show all faith, obedience, and subjection to the Pope, and to render religious obedience to the decrees of the sacred congregations at Rome put forth in the name of the Pope. The vow of religious obedience in the religious orders is made in itself first and principally to the Roman Pontiff, next to the Roman congregations, then to the generals and heads of their Order, lastly to the bishops. We wonder how the bishops can possibly get through all the spiritual work and all the ecclesiastical and administrative and social business laid upon them in these sections.

We omit much. These are only some of the chief topics dealt with in these two volumes containing the papal utterances and Roman decisions, and the Acts and Decrees founded on them, of the last Plenary Council held at Rome. If we sum up the general impression left by them, it is (1) the great advance made in peculiarly Roman doctrines since the Council of Trent, and especially the

1 "Votum obedientiæ per se primo et principaliter fit Romano Pontifici, a quo pendet omnis potestas Religiosarum Familiarum, et Institutorum seu Congregationum ecclesiasticarum. Item." etc. (331.)

additions made in the last half of the present century-first by the promulgation of the Dogma of the Immaculate Conception in 1854, of the Infallibility of the Pope in 1870, the dedication of certain months of the year to special forms of devotion, and lastly the recent and sudden elevation of the cult of the Sacred Heart to a level with that which is said to be due to God alone, and to the Holy Eucharist, the cult of latria. (2) The centralization of all authority directly in the hands of the Pope, the strengthening of what is called the Curia, and the greater weight given to the decrees of the Roman Congregations. Gallicanism and all kindred movements are crushed and extinct within the Church. All orders of the clergy, whether secular or regular, have to give account of themselves to Rome; no doctrine, no act of ritual, no practice of devotion, is to be observed, admitted, or allowed to continue in the Church, which is not expressly authorized by the Pope or by the Roman congregations; and to the Pope alone belongs the definition and limitation of the rights of the Church in relation to the family, to society, to the State, and to the civil power. Yet, with all this centralization, never was there a greater multiplication of new saints, new cults, of indulgences attached to material objects, of forms of popular devotion, of so-called pious beliefs and practices, at variance with what is truly Catholic.




WE are far too apt to think of legend and folk-lore, of the credulity engendered by love, or hate, or fear, which believes in, nay, gives existence to facts and beings which have it not-we are far too apt to think of such things as the product of past ages only. We fancy that they belong to mediæval times, to the dark ages, that they cannot be revived, still less that they can flourish in the days of the steam-engine, of electricity, in the full light of the natural and experimental sciences, of the scientific methods and researches of the present day.

But it is only by an abuse of the scientific method that such a thesis can be maintained. This belief in the immunity of the present age from folk-lore and legend arises from a too hasty generalization, and from a neglect of a whole series of facts, as real, as important in their sphere as any other class of historical facts, as pregnant, perhaps, in results in the religious and political history of mankind as any other facts and occurrences of the age. It is true that they belong to the obscure, the unforeseen, the unexpected. They cannot be

« VorigeDoorgaan »