« ПредыдущаяПродолжить »
VI.-1. Mahometanism in its Relation to Prophecy, or an
Inquiry into the Prophecies concerning Antichrist,
London : Hall and Virtue, 1854.
lyptic Sketches. By Dr. Cumming. By the Rev.
Brown, Green, and Longman's, 1854.
lypse, from Internal Evidence. By the Rev. P. S.
Desprez. London: Walton and Mitchel, 1855.
VII.—Sisters of Charity Catholic and Protestant, Abroad
and at Home. By Mrs. Jameson. London : Long-
VII.-1. Report of Her Majesty's Commissioners appointed
to Inquire into the Management and Government
Appendix. Dublin, 1855.
to Inquire into the Management and Government
IX.- The Blessed Sacrament, or the Works and Ways of
God. By Frederick William Faber, D. D., Priest of
Art. I.-1. Gosselin's Power of the Popes in the Middle Ages.
London : Dolman, 1854. 2. Roscoe's Lives of Lorenzo de Medici and Leo X. London : Bohn,
1853. 3. Life of Savonarola. By Dr, MADDEN. London : Newby, 1853. 4. Ranke’s History of the Popes. London : Bohn, 1853. 5. Machiavelli's History of Florence. London: Bohn, 1851. TO
CATHOLICS there can scarcely be a subject of
deeper interest than the character and the conduct of the Vicars of Christ—especially during the periods for which they respectively occupied the Chair of St. Peter: not because, as Protestants often ignorantly imagine, that the personal character of Pontiffs can possibly affect the argument as to their divine mission and supremacy, but because the question is one at all events of a painful and sorrowful scandal, which it must surely be, to a truly Catholic mind, a joy to be in any degree able to remove. And even apart indeed from any peculiar interest which Catholics cannot but feel in the question, it has an attraction of its own, founded on the noblest and most generous feelings of nature, which delight in the rescue of any great character from the rancorous tooth of calumny. As it is one of the meanest and most malignant tendencies of the human mind which disposes it to pharisaical detraction or slanderous denunciations, so it is an instinct of justice which should never be neglected, and a dictate of charity which should ever be cherished- to vindicate the victims of calumny, and rescue them from their load of unmerited obloquy: It is a noble exercise of intellect to dissect the fabrications of malignant falsehood, and destroy the in
VOL. XXXVIII.-NO. LXXV.
ventions of hate, and it is one in which as Protestant authors have engaged in the generous spirit of chivalry, so any Catholic writer should be, under the sacred influence of charity, happy to enlist his utmost energies. Above all, it should be so in the instance of any who have sat on that sacred seat with which to associate aught of scandal or of shame must bring grief to the Catholic heart. And as in those ages in the history of the Church in which iniquity has abounded, and the “ love of many has waxed cold," there have not been wanting parricidal children who have joined with her enemies to spoil and assail her, and to excuse or cloak their own iniquity, by impiety to her supreme Pontiffs, there are some of the Vicars of Christ whose characters have come down to us so blackened with calumny that candid Catholics and enlightened Protestants generally are equally ready to hold them up to execration as “bad Popes.” On the Continent Catholic intellect has for some time been devoted to the noble duty of defending the calumniated Pontiffs. Gregory VII., who had long laboured under a load of obloquy, has been triumphantly vindicated. Hurter has done a similar glorious service to the memory of Innocent VIII. Catholic historians have done much, if not enough to place in its true light the conduct and the fate of that unhappy victim of a despot's violence, Boniface VIII. And even in our own days, for that most maligned of Pontiffs, Alexander VI., there have not been wanting illustrious sons of the Catholic Church, not in Italy, but in Germany or France, who have, (we refer to the words of Rohrbacher and Jorry in the true spirit of chivalry and charity, sought by a careful investigation of the truth to relieve his character from those foul hues with which calumny had blackened it. Thus, on the Continent, Catholics have awakened to this noblest of duties, and have begun to discharge it. It is, we regret to say, far otherwise in England. Hitherto, scarce any Catholic of eminent ability has treated of the characters of the calumniated Pontiffs in this spirit and with this object ; indeed, one might almost say, (and certainly one of the works at the head of this article substantiates our remark;) if they have written at all it has been to reproduce the hacknied calumnies they ought to have exploded, and repeat the slanders they should have rather rejoiced to refute. It is sad, but true, that if the characters of any of these Popes have had any degree of justice done to them, it has been rather by Protestant than Catholic writers, and in connection with the family of the Borgias the name of Roscoe may serve to put some Catholic writers to shame. For ourselves we are proud to follow in this noble work-humbly and at a distance--in the footsteps of some of the finest geniuses, who, in Germany or in France, have dedicated themselves to the elucidation of these most painfully interesting periods in the history of the Papacy. We will not tamely yield up the characters of some of the ablest pontiffs who ever sat on the Chair of St. Peter to obloquy and infamy, and foul traditions of calumny. And at the era of the establishment of a Catholic university we think it may be well to direct the attention of the great minds to whom its studies of history may be entrusted, to a theme, in our conception, worthy of the noblest efforts of Catholic intellect.
It surely must soon strike any but very superficial students of history, that those pontiffs who have been most assailed by calumny have been those who were engaged in the most violent struggles with secular princes: sometimes in their exercise of the spiritual supremacy of the Holy See; sometimes in defence of those territories which constituted its patrimony. It is chiefly in contests of the latter class that the so-called “bad popes were engaged ; and although some of those who are represented as proud were those who had to contend for their supremacy--those who are stigmatized as depraved were involved in struggles for their sovereignty. And it is the root and essence of the whole system to consider that the Popes were from the earliest periods—from the age of Constantine and Valentinian, princes as well as pontiffs, with rights of temporal property and secular sovereignty.
It is necessary to cast our eyes on the origin of that state of society in Italy which existed during the days of the Pontiffs to whom we principally refer. Its origin is to be traced to the fall of the Roman Empire. We will cite no partial authority. Guizot tells us that “everything was cast into barbarism," and that the Church "was forced to defend herself on all sides, for she was continually threatened.” He adds, in words to which we call attention—" Each bishop and priest saw his barbarous neighbours incessantly interfering with the affairs of the Church, to usurp her riches, lands, and power.
“On the death of Charlemagne,” he proceeds, “ chaos commenced: all unity disappeared, and the desire for independence and the habits of feudal life severed the ties of the ecclesiastical authority.” Elsewhere he describes the feudal spirit—"the nobility regarded themselves as not only independent of the Church, but as superior to it-as alone called upon to progress, and really govern the country.” He goes on to say, “at the commencement of the fourteenth century the Church was upon the defensive.' He notices that the
boroughs in Italy were more precocious and powerful than anywhere else. With the inconsistency which can always be detected in your "enlightened” writers, i.e. writers so “ enlightened" as to hate the Church, he tells his readers in one page that the “theocratic system of the Church failed, and gave place to that attempt at democratical organization of which the Italian republics were the type, and which from the eleventh to the sixteenth centuries played so brilliant a part in Europe,” taking care to add that “the emancipation of the European lay society really dates” from that era, and in almost the very next page, describing these republics he says,—“ in the political system of the greater part of the republics liberty continually diminished.” " The want of security,” he says, was such,“ that the factions were inevitably forced to seek refuge in a system less tempestuous, though less popular, than that with which the state had commenced." " Take the history of Florence, Venice, , Genoa, Milan, Pisa; you will everywhere see that the general course of events, instead of developing liberty, and enlarging the circle of institutions, tended to contract it, and to concentre the power within the hands of a small body of men. In a word, in these republics, so energetic, brilliant, and wealthy, two things were wanting, security of life, (the first condition of a social state) and the progress of institutions." So that the only result of the destruction of the power of the Church was to destroy security for liberty, and prevent the progress of free institutions; and yet we are gravely told that “from that event dates the real emancipation of Europe.
And to crown the inconsistency, the learned writer elsewhere laboriously proves that the system of the Christian Church was the source of real popular liberty! Such are your “ enlightened” writers ! On such a state of society as he describes the Popes of the twelfth, thirteenth, and