Certain Prerogatives Conferred by Jesus Christ Upon His Church: Part 5
Fr. W. Devivier, SJ
Edited by Bishop S.G. Messmer, DD, DCL
Bishop of Green Bay, Wisc.
Imprimatur, 1903



There is a doctrine diametrically opposed to that of the Catholic Church regarding her powers and rights and her relations to the State. It bears falsely the name of Liberalism. [2]

We say falsely, because it is far from teaching and upholding true liberty. It is not easy to give a precise and full definition of liberalism, for the simple reason that it is really a purely negative system, something like Protestantism, and, like this, susceptible of numerous shades. We shall
distinguish three classes of liberals, to which others can easily be assigned. A. RADICALS, OR RADICAL LIBERALs.----They are rightly so called, because by removing every religious restraint they strike at the very roots and foundations of the social order. Of these Pope Leo XIII says, in his famous encyclical on Human Liberty: "The partisans of naturalism and of rationalism are in philosophy what the abettors of liberalism are in the moral and civil order, since they introduce into morals and practical life the principles laid down by the partisans of naturalism. According to them, in practical life there is no Divine power which they are bound to obey, but each one is a law unto himself. This gives rise to that morality called independent and which, under an appearance of liberty, turns the will from the observance of the Divine precepts and leads man to unlimited license." [3]

CRITIQUE.----1st. Between the Catholic Church and radical liberalism, which is really identical with naturalism and free thought, there is evidently positive and complete opposition. We do not need to refute it; we have already done so in demonstrating the existence of a religion revealed by God, and how all men are obliged to embrace the Catholic faith under pain of failing to attain the end for which they were created.

2d. It is not difficult to see the inevitable and disastrous effects of such a doctrine. It is of the greatest possible injury to the individual as well as to society. The Holy Father demonstrates this with great clearness and convincing logic: "To desire that there be no tie between man or civil society and God, the Creator and, consequently, the supreme Legislator of all things, is contrary to nature;  . . . to make good and evil dependent upon the judgment of human reason alone, is to suppress the proper distinction between good and evil; there will be no longer any real difference between what is wrong and what is right, save in the opinion and judgment of the individual; whatsoever pleases him becomes lawful. Once we admit such moral doctrine, which is powerless to subdue or appease the disorderly movements of the soul, we open the way to all the corruptions of life.  . . . Once we repudiate the power of God over man and over human society, it is natural that society should no longer have any religion, and that everything relating to religion should become to it a matter of complete indifference. Armed with the idea of its sovereignty, the multitude will be easily led into sedition and revolt, and, the curb of duty and of conscience no longer existing, force will be the only resource----force, which is of little avail by itself to restrain the passions of the populace. We have a proof of this in the almost daily warfare waged against socialistic and other seditious sects which have been trying so long to destroy the State to its very foundation. Let, then, impartial minds judge and decide whether such doctrines are conducive to true liberty and are worthy of man, or whether they are not rather the ruin and complete destruction of society." (Encycl. cit.)

B. There is another kind of Liberals, called by Leo XIII Social or State Liberals. They do not formally deny all dependence of man upon God; they are satisfied to affirm the absolute independence of civil society as a society. According to them, the Divine laws must regulate the life and conduct of individuals, but not that of governments or states. They would have it lawful in public things to deviate from the commands of God, and to legislate without any regard to them; the pernicious consequence of this is the Separation of Church and State and the axiom of No Religion in
Politics. [4]

This milder Liberalism may be defined as the doctrine which claims for civil society an absolute independence in regard to religion. Or, again, the political school which admits but one sovereign authority, the State, and denies the necessary coexistence, distinction, and harmony of the two powers, temporal and spiritual. It may also be called social rationalism. It declares the people as a nation, and civil powers of all degrees, exempt from every obligation, and every duty toward any religious authority whatever. To them Christian revelation, Jesus Christ its Author, the Church which He established and which represents Him on earth, are as if they did not exist; they do not even know if Jesus Christ is God. They have not to concern themselves with this question, which belongs, they say, to individuals; the existence of Jesus Christ and of His Church in no way affects the action of the State and its various powers. Thus, for example, when the legislature makes laws, the executive power, and the courts in applying them, have no need to consider whether these laws are or are not conformable to the law of God, to the express will of Jesus Christ, to the rights which He conferred upon His Church. Such liberals allege that though a man as an individual is free to live in private life as a Christian, he is forbidden to act as such in his public life and in the exercise of his functions.

Another consequence of these liberal principles is that where the State undertakes the work of instruction or public education its teaching, called neutral or unsectarian, must be atheistic, godless, without any religion; for all opinions, they say, must be respected. As to ethics or moral teaching, they are wary, it is true, of committing themselves, and to deceive simple minds they talk of independent, lay morality, etc. As if there could be a binding rule of morality without a supreme legislator and adequate sanction. How could it be imposed upon the conscience, deprived as it is of the truths on which it must necessarily rest?

CRITIQUE.----1st. State liberalism, though less impious, no doubt, than radical liberalism, is nevertheless the antithesis of the doctrine which we stated in regard to the relations which should, in principle, exist between the two powers. We have refuted it by establishing our thesis with solid proofs. Hence a faithful child of the Church cannot hesitate upon this point. For it is to be noted that these liberals present their doctrines as absolute truth; according to them it flows from principles of reason, and is consequently applicable to all times and to all places. Here is the judgment formulated by Leo XIII on this subject: "For such a state of things to exist a civil community must needs have no duty toward God, or be able to disregard it with impunity, which is equally and manifestly false. It is a matter beyond doubt that the union of men in society is the work of the will of God, whether we consider the society in its members, in its form which is authority, in its cause, or in the number and importance of the advantages which it affords man. God made man for society, and to unite him with his fellow beings, in order that the needs of his nature, which his individual efforts could not supply, might find satisfaction in the association. For this reason civil society, as a society, must necessarily recognize God as its Principle and as its Author, and consequently render to His power and to His authority the homage of its worship. Neither in the name of reason nor of justice can the State be atheistic, or adopt a system which would result in atheism, that is, treat all religions alike, and grant them equal rights. Hence, as it is necessary to profess a religion in society, it must be the one true religion, readily recognized, at least in Catholic countries, by the striking marks of truth which it bears. This religion the heads of the State, therefore, are bound to preserve and protect if they would fulfill their obligation to provide prudently and profitably for the interest of the community. For public power was established for the benefit of the governed; and though its immediate end is to promote the temporal prosperity of citizens, it is the duty of rulers not to diminish but, on the contrary, to increase man's facility for attaining the supreme and sovereign good in which eternal happiness consists, and which is impossible without religion." (Encycl. cit.)

2d. If these State liberals were logical, there would be a fatal outbreak of radicalism, as in fact there has been among those who consistently followed their principles.

In reality radical liberals alone are logical. If God has no authority over man as a social being, i.e., when associated with his fellows in earthly pursuits, why should He have any authority over man in his private life? Has He, perhaps, created man for society in order that he may thus withdraw in part from the sovereign dominion of his Creator? Has He communicated a part of His power to civil authorities in order that they may turn their subjects from the fulfillment of certain duties toward the Divinity? God is either Master of man, everywhere and always, or He is not Master at all. The nihilists of Russia and the anarchists of all countries are only carrying out the logical consequences of these liberal principles. It is true, as the Pope causes us to remark, that the partisans of liberalism do not give complete assent to such doctrines. Alarmed by the enormity of their claims, and appreciating perhaps that they are in opposition with truth, they would have reason remain subject to the natural law and to the Divine, eternal law; but they do not admit that a man should submit to laws which it might please God to impose upon him in some other way than by means of natural reason. The Pope has no difficulty in demonstrating that on this point liberals contradict themselves.

3d. Of the disastrous effects of this liberalism we shall soon see more in the paragraph on "Modern Liberties." Suffice it to say that the work of this system usually goes much farther than its professions. It is not satisfied with affecting indifference toward religion; it is frequently its avowed and positive enemy, as its words and actions prove. Look at what has taken place recently and what is still taking place in countries where liberalism rules. It is not difficult to recognize that the famous separation of Church and State is in reality only the absorption of the Church by the State, or the persecution of the Church by the State. The ideal of liberalism is the old pagan Cæsarism. It means the head of the government, whether one or many, wielding both the material and the spiritual sword, and thus monopolizing the control of education, constituting itself the sole teacher of society. Where the laws and the public conscience do not permit it to realize this ideal it approximates as closely as possible to it by administrative measures as perfidious as they are numerous. There is, however, a difference between the present persecution and that of former times: to-day it is universal and the selfsame everywhere, its purpose being the complete destruction of the one true Church of Jesus Christ. The reason of this is that the real source of the persecution is none other than Freemasonry, of which liberalism is the willing servant.

C. We must here mention a third kind of liberalism which, under many various forms, has appeared at different periods of the Church's history. It took a more definite and tangible form during the last century and has been called "Catholic Liberalism" or "Liberal Catholicism." [5]

It is hardly to be expected that among Catholics living in an atmosphere saturated with the fatal germs of liberalism there will not be a few here and there contaminated by its teaching. It is not unusual, therefore, to find men who, heartily attached to the Church, and with a laudable desire to further what they consider her true interests, will try to effect an impossible compromise or reconciliation between the doctrines of liberalism and those of the Church; they will indulge in baseless dreams of a future when the spiritual and temporal power will be absolutely independent one of the other. They will deem it a prudent policy on the part of the Church to pass over in silence Catholic truths opposed to current errors; to refrain from asserting certain rights which conflict with what are called modern ideas. Hence, without denying the teaching and unerring authority of the Church, they would, nevertheless, that the body of doctrines imposed as of faith upon all men be confined within the smallest possible limits, minimized, while free speculation and discussion of religious as well as philosophic questions must be given the widest range; dogmas already proclaimed must be allowed a wider and more liberal interpretation in accordance with the advance and development of modern ideas and science; the decrees of the Roman Congregations, especially the Holy Office and the Index, ought to be few and far between, lest they become so many stumbling-blocks to Catholic philosophers and scientists. Doctrines offensive and distasteful to non-Catholics should not be too loudly preached from the pulpit, lest these people, instead of joining the fold, turn against the Church. Again, admitting the power of the Church "to bind and to loose," liberal Catholics find much to criticise in the present legislation and discipline of the Church restricting individual liberty (religious orders, marriage, rights of the laity, relations with the State, secret societies, communion with the sects, etc.); there is too much" medievalism" and" ultramontanism" in the Church, which, like a dead weight, keeps her "behind the times." [6]

"The principles on which the new opinions we have mentioned are based may be reduced to this: that in order the more easily to bring over to Catholic doctrine those who dissent from it, the Church ought to adapt herself somewhat to our advanced civilization, and, relaxing her ancient rigor, show some indulgence to modern popular theories and methods. Many think that this is to be understood not only with regard to the rule of life, but also to the doctrines in which the deposit of faith is contained. For they contend that it is opportune, in order to work in a more attractive way upon the wills of those who are not in accord with us, to pass over certain heads of doctrine, as if of lesser moment, or to so soften them that they may not have the same meaning which the Church has invariably held.  . . . The followers of these novelties judge that a certain liberty ought to be introduced into the Church, so that, limiting the exercise and vigilance of its powers, each one of the faithful may act more freely in pursuance of his own natural bent and capacity. They affirm, namely, that this is called for in order to imitate that liberty which, though quite recently introduced, is now the law and the foundation of almost every civil community."

To the above demands of liberal Catholicism the Pope answers in the same letter as follows: "Few words are needed to show how reprehensible is the plan that is thus conceived, if we but consider the character and origin of the doctrine which the Church hands down to us. On that point the Vatican Council says: 'The doctrine of faith which God has revealed is not proposed like a theory of philosophy which is to be elaborated by the human understanding, but as a Divine deposit delivered to the Spouse of Christ to be faithfully guarded and infallibly declared.  . . . That sense of the sacred dogmas is to be faithfully kept which Holy Mother Church has once declared, and is not to be departed from under the specious pretext of a more profound understanding.'

"Nor is the suppression to be considered altogether free from blame which designedly omits certain principles of Catholic doctrine and buries them, as it were, in oblivion. For there is the one and the same Author and Master of all the truths that Christian teaching comprises, the only-begotten Son Who is in the bosom of the Father. That they are adapted to all ages and nations is plainly deduced from the words which Christ addressed to His Apostles: Going therefore, teach ye all nations: teaching them to observe all things whatsoever I have commanded you: and behold I am with you all days, even to the consummation of the world. Wherefore the same Vatican Council says: 'By the Divine and Catholic faith those things are to be believed which are contained in the word of God, either written or handed down, and are proposed by the Church, whether in solemn decision or by the ordinary universal magisterium, to be believed as having been divinely revealed.' Far be it, then, from anyone to diminish or for any reason whatever to pass over anything of this divinely delivered doctrine; whosoever would do so would rather wish to alienate Catholics from the Church than to bring over to the Church those who dissent from it.
. . . If anything is suggested by the infallible teaching of the Church, it is certainly that no one should wish to withdraw from it, nay, that all should strive to be thoroughly imbued with and be guided by its spirit, in order to be the more easily preserved from any private error whatsoever. To this we may add that those who argue in that wise quite set aside the wisdom and providence of God; Who, when He desired in that very solemn decision to affirm the authority and teaching office of the Apostolic See, desired it especially in order the more efficaciously to guard the minds of Catholics from the dangers of the present times. The license which is commonly confounded with liberty; the passion for saying and reviling everything; the habit of thinking and of expressing everything in print, have cast such deep shadows on men's minds that there is now greater utility and necessity for this office of teaching than ever before, lest men should be drawn away from conscience and duty. It is far indeed from our intention to repudiate all that the genius of the time begets; nay, rather, whatever the search for truth attains, or the effort after good achieves, will always be welcome by us, for it increases the patrimony of doctrine and enlarges the limits of public prosperity. But all this, to possess real utility, should thrive without setting aside the authority and wisdom of the Church."

In regard to the laws and discipline of the Church the Pope says: "The rule of life which is laid down for Catholics is not of such a nature as not to admit modifications, according to the diversity of time and place. The Church indeed possesses what her Author has bestowed on her, a kind and merciful disposition; for which reason from the very beginning she willingly showed herself to be what Paul proclaimed in his own regard: I became all things to all men, that I might save all. The history of all past ages is witness that the Apostolic See, to which not only the office of teaching, but also the supreme government of the whole Church, was committed, has constantly adhered to the same doctrine, in the same sense and in the same mind; but it has always been accustomed to so modify the rule of life that, while keeping the Divine right inviolate, it has never disregarded the manners and customs of the various nations which it embraces. If required for the salvation of souls, who will doubt that it is ready to do so at the present time? But this is not to be determined by the will of private individuals, who are mostly deceived by the appearance of right, but ought to be left to the judgment of the Church. He who would have Christian virtues to be adapted, some to one age and others to another, has forgotten the words of the Apostle: Whom He foreknew He also predestinated to be made conformable to the image of His Son. The Master and exemplar of all sanctity is Christ, to Whose rule all must conform who wish to attain to the throne of the blessed. Now, Christ does not change with the progress of the ages, but is yesterday and today, and the same forever. To the men of all time is addressed the lesson: Learn of Me because I am meek and humble of heart; and at all times Christ shows Himself to us as becoming obedient unto death, and in every age also the word of the Apostle holds: And they that are Christ's have crucified their flesh with the vices and concupiscences. Would that more would cultivate those virtues in our day, after the example of the holy men of the past! Those who by humbleness of spirit, by obedience and abstinence, were powerful in word and work, were powerful aids not only to religion but to the State and society."


A. THEIR NATURE.----Liberalism is in its very nature the father and the abettor of what are called modern liberties. It boasts, moreover, of having given rise to them, and proclaims them the great and immortal conquests of our times. Thus liberalism may also be defined as the doctrine which recognizes the same rights in evil as in good, in error as in truth, and consequently professes that all opinions must be respected. It is the system which preaches and favors everywhere those modern liberties.

Let us, then, consider them in themselves and in their effects, and establish in the next paragraph a rule of action in regard to political constitutions based upon these liberties.

Leo XIII in enumerating modern liberties names successively liberty of conscience and of worship, liberty of the press, liberty of education or instruction, to which we shall add liberty of association. Let us briefly explain them, following the same guide, and learn how we are to regard them. Liberty of worship, which is also frequently called liberty of conscience, [8] grants to every man the right to profess whatever religion he pleases, or even to profess none at all. This same liberty, considered from the social point of view, would forbid the State to render worship to God, or authorize any public worship; no religion or Church must be preferred to another; all religions have equal claims, regardless of the faith of the people, even though it were all Catholic. Liberty of the press means the right of each one to express by the pen, to propagate by writings, any doctrines whatsoever on moral, political, social, philosophic, and religious matters, falsehood even as truth, however much they may savor of impiety and immorality. Liberty of education proclaims the natural right of every one to propagate these same doctrines by private and public instruction. Liberty of association asserts the right of forming any societies or unions whatever, though they be secret and dangerous to religion and society. Let us not forget that it is not a question here of simple tolerance, but of the acknowledgment of what is declared to be a natural, sacred, and imprescriptible right. Then remember that a right is a moral power, and that the right of one man always implies in other men and in rulers the duty of respecting it and making it respected. It is true certain restrictions have been formulated in regard to the use of these liberties, but these restrictions, while in themselves quite illogical, remain usually a mere matter of theory, to be forgotten in practice. In the eyes of the modern State it is no longer an impious crime to proclaim in public the non-existence of a God. [9]

B. THEIR FALSITY.----They are false in principle. We have shown that the Catholic religion alone is true and binding upon all men, and that this religion is identified with the Roman Catholic Church. This Church alone, by the will of God, has the right to exist and to spread throughout the world, to demand faith and obedience from all men, as every man is bound to seek his salvation and thus to attain his last end. Every doctrine opposed to her teaching, and all morals contrary to her moral law, are condemned without further proof or appeal. Neither religious error nor moral evil, the two deadly poisons for the intellect and the will, can ever have any right of existence or propagation.

It follows, moreover, that no individual or government may lawfully place any obstacle to the exercise of this exclusive right of the Catholic Church. In fact right and duty are correlative terms; the right of one person necessarily implies the duty of others to respect that right. Again, therefore, it follows that neither individual nor government can lawfully claim for error or evil, heresy, godlessness, and immorality a natural right to exist or expand. Error and evil have no such right; on the contrary, it belongs exclusively to truth and goodness. Herein we find in principle the inevitable condemnation of these modern liberties. Indeed what else are they but the proclamation of the rights of error and evil, and the open refusal to respect and protect rights belonging exclusively to the Catholic Church? This is clearly implied in the description given above of these liberties.

C. THEIR FATAL CONSEQUENCES.----The illustrious Pontiff has no difficulty in demonstrating that these alleged liberties, understood in this way, are contrary not only to faith but to reason itself. He makes it clearly evident how disastrous their application must be, and in reality is, to individuals, to families, and to society. "The evils of the present time, the number and gravity of which we cannot ignore, have arisen in great part," he says, "from these much-vaunted liberties, which it was believed contained the germs of salvation and of glory. Facts have destroyed this hope. Instead of sweet and salutary fruit, bitter and poisonous fruits have been the result." Let us indicate briefly a few of the fatal effects produced by the application of liberal doctrines.

First effect: The gradual weakening and extinction of faith and religion. It is almost impossible for even intelligent men wholly to escape the influence of their social environment. If it present the spectacle of religious indifference, how will they remain attached in heart and soul to religion? How will they have the courage to practise all their duties faithfully? When the masses, particularly children and the uneducated, see the agents of the government indifferent to the Catholic religion, affecting to make no distinction between religious truth and error, their moral and Christian sense will necessarily be weakened, and they, in their turn, will regard religion as a thing of secondary or no importance.

Moreover, an evil press and neutral, that is to say, godless teaching will insensibly but surely stifle the faith in the hearts of the people. For this reason liberalism, trusting to these inevitable results of modern liberties, is willing at times, to restrain the impatience of those who would openly resort to violence to do away with the Church.

Second effect: There is but one step from perversion of mind and contempt of religion to perversion of heart. Why  should not one who has ceased to love God, to fear His justice, and who has no hope of eternal happiness, abandon himself to the violence of his passions? Man thirsts for happiness; if he no longer seeks it where it is to be found, in noble submission to God, in peace of conscience, and the firm hope of eternal reward, he is forced to seek it here below in the satisfaction of his passions, even of the most brutal. This is so constantly verified by experience that we do not need to insist upon it.

Third effect: The perils which threaten modern society. When freed from the salutary restraint of religion why will not the poor look with envy upon the possessions of the rich, and why, when they find themselves the stronger, will they not take forcible possession of that which they covet? "Need we be astonished," says Leo XIII, "that men of inferior conditions try to raise palaces and emulate the fortunes of the rich? Is it astonishing that there is no longer any peace in public or private life, and that the human race has almost reached the extremes of life?" Behold to what the doctrine of liberalism inevitably leads. No doubt many who profess and advocate it do not see its disastrous consequences, but their short-sightedness does not destroy the incontrovertible logic of facts; sooner or later the doctrine will bear its natural fruit, anarchy and revolution. [10]

OBJECTION.----There is a specious objection which it is important to answer. God, the supreme Legislator, it is argued, granted liberty to man, therefore civil society or power may do likewise.

REPLY.----1st. To solve this difficulty it suffices to make the essential distinction between physical liberty, or simple power, and moral liberty, or right. God, you say, gave man liberty. True; but which kind of liberty? He gave him physical liberty, that is, the possibility of choosing between good and evil, but, so far from permitting him to use his liberty to do evil, He imposed on him the moral obligation to make use of it to attain his last end by doing good. So true is this that He threatens with Hell those who choose to do evil and reserves to Himself the right to punish them eternally. Society cannot, even if it would, rob man of this physical liberty; but it does not imitate the action of God if it grant man the right to do evil with impunity.

2d. Moreover, to set one's actions by those of another, one must be in an analogous position. Now, in regard to liberty there are several important differences between the Divine and the human government.

a. "God is Judge," says St. Thomas, "because He is Creator," and in Him the judicial and the creative act reach beyond the insignificant duration of time. When one's field of action is eternity, why hasten the course of justice? Are these the conditions of human government?

b. While waiting the supreme and inevitable reparation, God has placed side by side with liberty in this life all the correctives, commandments, exhortations, promises, threats, interior grace, etc., necessary to protect it in its power for good and thwart it in its power for evil. Moreover, He has created domestic society and civil society and invested them with punitive power. He commands parents even to chastise, their children and not to spare the rod (Prov. xiii. and xxii.); and St. Paul reminds rulers that they bear not the sword in vain, that they are God's ministers, avengers to execute wrath upon him that doth evil (Rom. xiii.). Is it in this sense that human government seeks to imitate God's government?

REMARK.----It is clearly evident from what has been said above that neither the Church nor the State can be taxed with intolerance and tyranny when they seek, as they did in the Middle Ages, to regulate the exercise of the human will, and to diminish for men the facilities for evil and thus prevent them from risking their happiness and welfare. Such restrictions, so far from being an act of violence, are, on the contrary, a great benefit to society, facilitating for its members the accomplishment of duty and rendering neglect or violation of duty more difficult. Now such are the benefits which result from the intimate union of Church and State when circumstances render it possible. By protecting the Church of Christ and prohibiting opposing creeds the State does not violate man's liberty, but comes to the aid of his weakness by shielding him from error. It would clearly be absurd to maintain that it was violating the rights of the human intelligence to teach and enlighten it that it may be able to distinguish truth from falsehood; why should it be less absurd to claim that it was tyrannical----that it was doing violence to man's will to remove from about him incentives to evil and help him to attain the good for which he was created? It might just as well be said that the parapet wall which guards a bridge is an attempt to interfere with the free circulation of the crowd, or that the father of a family violates the rights of his children when he will not suffer immoral or impious doctrines to infect their frank, innocent souls and forbids them all that is of a nature to corrupt them. Moreover, as we have already said, the right to be impious, blasphemous, or vicious does not, cannot exist for man, and the State violates no right when it prevents its subjects from destroying beliefs necessary for their eternal happiness, or from weakening all that serves as the basis of civil as well as religious society.

It is remarkable how readily these sophists admit on the one hand that it is not violating human liberty to forbid and punish certain crimes, such as assassination, theft, incendiarism, which militate against the temporal welfare of subjects, and, on the other hand, denounce as tyranny all attempt to remove causes productive of evils still more serious, since they compromise the eternal welfare of these same subjects.


We cannot transcribe here the luminous pages in which Leo XIII indicates the remedy for this evil of liberalism. But guided by his teaching, we would explain why the Church, "while condemning in principle these false and injurious liberties, recognizes that there are circumstances when they may be licitly tolerated." Toleration always supposes something evil which is endured and permitted for grave reasons. [11]

A. Let us hear, first of all, what the sovereign Pontiff says on this subject: "The Church, in her motherly appreciation, takes into consideration the weight of human infirmity, and she is aware of the movement by which minds and affairs are swayed at the present time. For these motives, while granting rights only to what is true and just, she is not opposed to the tolerance which public powers think necessary to use in regard to certain things contrary to truth and justice, in view of avoiding greater evil or of attaining or preserving a greater good."

We see, therefore, that there is an important distinction to be made in regard to modern liberties. These liberties, which consist in conceding to every man a natural right to profess any religion he chooses, to propagate through the press error and evil as much as truth and righteousness, are evil and of themselves condemnable: this is what is ordinarily called the thesis (theory).

Nevertheless there are circumstances of time or place when these liberties may be conscientiously tolerated, sustained, defended, in order to avoid greater evils: this is what we call the hypothesis (practice). [12]

B. Let us give now a few proofs to establish the lawfulness of this tolerance under certain circumstances.

1st. The interest of the Church itself and of its Divine mission may require this tolerance. It is an undisputed principle that of two evils we must choose the lesser, and that one evil may be lawfully tolerated in order to avoid a greater. Now, in a given country and at a given time (when, for example, these modern liberties already incorporated in the constitution and laws of the country have passed into fact and practice), the interest of truth and religion may require that this state of affairs be allowed to remain, at least for a time, in order to avoid a greater evil or not to render all good impossible. To attempt in such a conjunction of circumstances to abolish these liberties already established would not serve the interest of the Church, but would excite against her hatred and reprisals by exposing the State to deplorable trouble and discord.

2d. This, moreover, is the teaching of theology. Interpreted by St. Thomas, it declares it lawful in certain cases to tolerate even pagan worship. With how much greater reason may the tolerance of modern liberties be justified, since their most extreme abuses never, like paganism, go so far as to deify creatures and vices!

3d. The conduct of the Church proves the lawfulness of this tolerance. If modern liberties could never be tolerated, she would have had to oblige Constantine on the very day of his conversion to banish absolutely the worship of false gods from his kingdom. In the case of the return of a Protestant prince to the faith, she would have to require of him the immediate abolition of the liberty hitherto allowed his subjects to profess the Protestant religion. Now the Church has never acted in this way, and it is not in this sense that Gregory XVI (Encycl. Mirari vos, 1832) and Pius IX (Encycl. Quanta cura, 1864) condemned these liberties.

We find in the Roman review La Civilta Cattolica the following written in 1868, which seems to be a summary of the doctrine we have just been stating:

"With the exception of a very small number all sincere Catholics agree in believing that liberty of worship is an absurd principle. To place truth in the same rank with error----is it not as monstrous from a social as from an individual point of view? Catholics profess, therefore, that such a principle applied to the political order must in its very nature be injurious. At the same time they admit that in certain cases evil must be tolerated because there are circumstances when, in consequence of the lack of good dispositions in a subject, unity of religion cannot be imposed without resorting to violence, which Catholic principles condemn. The regimen suited to one in health would be fatal to a sick man, yet no one would be so foolish as to insist that the regimen for the sick man is the ideal of hygiene, and that all must submit to it. Without the principle of liberty of worship properly understood, it is impossible to govern a people where unity of religion no longer exists, and which is socially divided by various beliefs. But to represent this state of things as a state of social perfection, to claim that it must be introduced where its introduction is not commanded by positive necessity, would be as absurd as to say that medicine is the true food of man, or that there is no better means of preserving the purity of morals in a household than to throw the doors open to all kinds of corrupt and evil men."

COROLLARIES.----The preceding principles solve several apparent difficulties.
1st. They make us understand how one can be at the same time an excellent Christian and an excellent citizen in a country where modern liberties are proclaimed by the constitution.

2d. They explain, also, the different action of the Church in different countries in regard to the liberty accorded to dissenters. In a State where the Church enjoys all her rights she would injure the success of her Divine mission if she were to yield a place to error or to evil. Hence she cannot, without failing in her duty, permit such an innovation. On the contrary, in a country where the true religion is oppressed, where liberty hardly exists at all except for those who attack and hinder religion, we can understand that the Church accepts civil tolerance, that is, the introduction of a new state of things enabling her to recover at least a portion of her rights.

3d. They make us understand, finally, why, under the rule of a constitution securing liberty of worship to all, the Church may and should stoutly claim her share of the liberty due her in virtue of this constitution. It would be ridiculous to say that in acting thus she abandons her own principles, or that she abdicates her rights; she simply acts like a proprietor who, deprived of his possessions by the triumph of communism, afterwards claims, in virtue of the very principles of communism, his proper share of the common hoard. In acting thus the proprietor does not deny his own principles or abdicate his rights as a proprietor, but he endeavors, by resorting to an argument ad hominem, to recover at least a portion of the possessions of which he has been unjustly deprived.

SUMMARY AND CONCLUSIONS.----A. From all that precedes we must conclude that in the relations between Church and State four different conditions may exist.

1st. An intimate union or alliance; the State recognizing only the true religion, exclusively protecting it and banishing all other worships.

2d. Civil tolerance, properly so called; the Catholic religion remaining the religion of the State, and as such protected; but at the same time the civil power tolerating, more or less, the public exercise of one or several dissenting worships. Such was the French Charter under Louis XVIII.

3d. Absolute tolerance or practical indifference; this is what is today called liberty of worship. It consists in the State placing itself outside of all religions, and recognizing none as its own, or as being entitled to its protection. This separation may be more or less marked; thus in France the Charter of 1830 made all recognized religions equal before the law. In America the separation is almost absolute; in Belgium the separation was less complete, particularly immediately after 1830.

4th. Dogmatic tolerance or theoretic indifference. Here also the State is indifferent to all worships, but on the ground that it believes and professes that man has a natural right to practise whatever religion he pleases or to practise none at all, or that one can be saved in all religions or without any religion; that it is a matter of indifference whether we adore Jesus Christ or blaspheme Him.

From these four possible situations we have proved that an intimate alliance ought to exist between Church and State when societies are in their normal and perfect state. As to dogmatic tolerance, as it is essentially evil, flowing from principles as false as they are subversive of good, it can never be permitted. Hence it is formally condemned by the Church. But as governments are not always so happily constituted that the two powers lend each other mutual aid, and as, in the troubled times in which we live, this much-to-be-desired agreement has become impossible, recourse must necessarily be had to civil tolerance, properly so called, and even to absolute tolerance.

B. Two things, however, are to be observed in the exercise of this tolerance:

1st. Though civil tolerance, and even practical indifference, may be licit under the circumstances indicated, the things thus tolerated by modern constitutions do not cease to be in themselves reprehensible before God and in the consciences of individuals. If, in virtue of the liberty of the press, the civil power permits the utterance of the most terrible blasphemies, these outrages upon the Divinity are no less, from the point of view of conscience, horrible crimes. It is the same with all acts intrinsically evil which civil legislatures tolerate for grave reasons. Those who perpetrate them will be no less condemned by the Divine Legislator, who will punish them in His Own time.

2d. The Church cannot admit as a general and absolute thesis that the liberty granted to heterodox worships, to the propagation of error and of evil, is what is best and most conformable to the nature of man and to true civilization. She cannot find good or right in itself the freedom awarded to that which ruins souls, or hail it as a manifestation of a society's progress. Thus Pius IX has condemned the following proposition: "The best condition of all political society requires in our time that the State be constituted and governed regardless of religion, as if it did not exist, or without recognizing any difference between the true and the false religion." (Encycl. Quanta cura and Syllabus Prop. 77, 7S, 79, 80.)

C. It is easy now to indicate what should be the conduct of the faithful children of the Church in regard to constitutions which admit modern liberties.

a. When there is question of elaborating a constitution, the legislators must, after considering before God the situation, the strength and the weakness of the society which they represent, endeavor to realize the type of a Christian constitution, and approximate as closely as possible to the ideal. When they act under pressure of real necessity, they are not censurable for tolerating an evil which they cannot prevent without exciting disastrous and deplorable calamities, as fatal to the Church as to the State.

b. If the constitution already exists, and if it is not conformable to the principles of the Church, true Catholics obey it in everything which is not contrary to the laws of God and of the Church; they will never attempt to overthrow the social edifice by violence, for this they know God forbids.
c. If this constitution is the result of a transaction required by circumstances, they will be loyal to their oath of allegiance, and if they are in power, they will not persecute those in favor of whom they are pledged to exercise tolerance.

d. They will beware, however, of saying that such a constitution is, absolutely speaking, the best. Above all, they will not claim that this civil tolerance is the result of a sacred and imprescriptible natural right for those who enjoy it. On the contrary, they will frankly proclaim true principles, the exclusive rights of truth, of the Church of Jesus Christ. While admitting the necessities of the time and of the country, they will deplore these necessities, the imperfect state of present society, the blindness of minds. They will neglect no peaceable means of bringing about a better state of affairs, using every lawful means authorized by the constitution itself. In spreading about them, by speech and writing, the whole truth, they will endeavor to render more and more possible, by the turning of minds to true principles, the complete observance of the laws of Christian society----a pledge of prosperity for the State as well as for the Church.


There are few questions concerning which thoughtlessness or bad faith has called forth more errors and dangerous sophisms than liberty. How many confound lawful and real liberty with a chimerical and even criminal independence! [14] How many see in the mere physical power we possess of doing evil a justification, or rather a right, to do evil! If man really had by nature the right to teach, to write, to do whatsoever he would or could, it is evident that modern liberties would be most legitimate in themselves and as an absolute thesis.

"If," says Leo XIII, "in the discussions current concerning liberty, is meant that lawful and just liberty such as reason and our word has just described, no one would dare to pursue the Church with the sovereignly unjust accusation that she is the enemy of liberty of governments.  . . . The Church has always deserved well of this excellent gift of our nature, and she will not cease to deserve well of it.  . . . And yet there are many who believe that the Church is the enemy of human liberty. This arises from the defective and, as it were, contrary ideas which they form of liberty. This defective and exaggerated idea of liberty causes it to be applied to many things in which man, according to the judgment of sound reason, cannot be free."

It is then of extreme importance, when speaking of liberty, to make distinctions.

Liberty, in general, brings to our minds the idea of freedom from any restraint whatever. But as these restraints may be of a different nature, so there are different kinds of liberty. Physical or psychological liberty differs from moral liberty; political liberty must not be confounded with civil or social liberty; and when they speak of modern liberties still another meaning is given to liberty.

1. Natural or physical liberty, which is also called liberty of indifference, liberty of choice or election, free-will, consists in that disposition of our nature in virtue of which our will, uniting all the conditions necessary to action, preserves the faculty or power (physical power) to act or not to act, to determine in favor of one thing rather than another.

Liberty consists essentially in the power of determining one's own action by and through oneself; it does not consist at all in the power of choosing evil. In fact God is infinitely free, yet He cannot will evil; freely He chooses from among the different forms and degrees of goodness the one He wishes to realize in the created order. The Saints in Heaven also are free; yet sin has become impossible with them; enlightened by the full light of truth and possessing the infinite good, how can they have the slightest thought or least velleity of renouncing this perfect happiness. The possibility of violating the moral law, so far from being a perfection of our nature, cannot even be called strength or power. This is very evident: no one certainly would think of saying, "I have the power to be ill." We say, "Unfortunately I cannot always keep well." In regard to the intelligence, no one would consider it a mark of strength to be able to reason ill, to draw false conclusions from true principles. This is evidently a sign of weakness, an imperfection of the faculty. Then let us be consistent and apply the same reasoning to liberty in man; let us say that being able to choose evil, that is, to turn from our final end, which is happiness, is not a mark of power, but, on the contrary, a weakness with which the faculty of the will is afflicted as long as we are in this period of probation.

Is man endowed with liberty? Of this there is no possible doubt. The existence of free-will in man is an undeniable fact attested by the analysis of our free act, by the innermost sense of the individual, and the affirmation of all mankind. On the other hand, to deny man's free-will would be to destroy the foundation of all morality and of society itself.

We are so free that, though human violence may restrain our exterior actions, it has no power over the act of our will. "My body is in your hands," the Martyr said to his persecutors, "but you have no power over my soul." The Church has always defended this liberty against all opinions to the contrary. Liberty is a blessing; Leo XIII calls it praestantissimum donum, most excellent blessing of our nature; it is in fact in virtue of our free-will that we are responsible for our acts and that we can merit Heaven. While animals obey only the senses, and are impelled only by natural instinct to seek that which is useful and to avoid that which is injurious to them, man, enlightened by intelligence, resists when he pleases the unreflecting inclinations of his passions: this is the seal of his greatness.

We meet, however, philosophers called fatalists, determinists (fatalism, determinism, is the natural consequence of materialism) who have ventured to deny the existence of free-will. But this denial exists, and can exist, only in their books; refuted by all mankind, it is still more strongly denied by the actions and by the words of these same philosophers. Every tongue which utters the words virtue and vice, merit and demerit, praise and blame, reward and punishment, conscience and remorse; every order intimated, every law promulgated, every counsel asked, every repentance expressed, every chastisement inflicted, proclaims human liberty, free-will, and shows what is the intimate conviction of the world and of philosophy. Do we not treat in an absolutely different manner the children who have not attained the age of reason, the insane, and men in the full enjoyment of reason? Is there not a marked distinction between the chains of the galley-slave and the manacles of the insane? Whence is this difference, if it is not from free-will? It is what, in our eyes, makes the first a criminal, while the misdeeds of the second make him only an object of pity. [15]

2. Moral liberty, when there is question of an act or a series of acts, consists in the absence of any obligation binding the will to perform or to omit these acts.

We are physically free; this we have seen and have solidly, though briefly, proved. But do we enjoy absolute moral freedom? In other words, is our will restrained by no moral obligation? Have we a right to do whatever our physical strength leaves us free to accomplish? No man in his senses would dare to sustain this proposition; only an atheist can and must affirm it.

It is evident to every reasoning mind that we cannot rightfully or lawfully, that is, with the approval of conscience or without neglecting a duty of conscience, do whatever our natural power permits. A son, for example, may be strong enough to kill his father, but no one would venture to say that he had a right to do it. Hence there is an essential difference between force and right. Might is not right. If this distinction did not exist, we should have a right to acquit as innocent the basest parricide; the brigand who lies in wait for the traveller, or openly attacks him, would have the right to assassinate his victim, as he has the power or the strength to do it.

Liberalism perpetually confounds physical or natural liberty with moral liberty. Because of this confusion it attributes to man a natural right to propagate error and evil, and regards modern liberties as an absolute good. Man is free, says liberalism; this liberty is a right of his nature: hence the State must respect and cause it to be respected. Man, we answer, is free physically, so free that no one, not even the State, can hinder an act of his will. But is he always morally free? Has he a right to abuse his freedom to do evil and to propagate it? If you affirm that he has, why then, we ask, does the State make laws, erect tribunals and prisons? Can one be punished for the exercise of a lawful right?

It is well to remark also the equivocal interpretation which the word power admits, for it is the double meaning of this word which misleads many minds, and gives rise to sophisms on the subject of liberty. I cannot morally or lawfully do all that which I have the material or physical power to do.

The foundation or primary basis of moral law or of the obligation laid upon the human will is the will of God, the Creator, the sovereign Master of man and his supreme law-giver. Man's absolute independence of moral law can be affirmed only by an atheist.

Hence it is absolutely false to say: man is free, therefore he is subject to no authority. The contrary thesis is true. Man is free, but he must make a lawful use of his liberty. Man is free, but he must submit to God, and to all power which comes from God. To refuse to recognize, absolutely or partially, the necessary authority of God over His creatures is not only folly, a crime, but base ingratitude. Man's glory and happiness, as well as his most imperative duty, consist, on the contrary, in recognizing practically, in his moral, private, and public life, his complete dependence on the supreme Master of all things, on God, who is infinite Wisdom, boundless Goodness, the supreme Good.

If man is incomparably superior to the animals, it is because he is capable of making a lawful use of his liberty----a use conformable to the noble nature with which God has endowed him. An animal is irresistibly led to his end, but it is not fitting that one whom God has destined for boundless happiness should be forced against his will to his supreme end. It is more glorious for God and for man that man merit this happiness by making good use of his liberty, by regulating his conduct by the light of reason and the Divine precepts.

We see, therefore, that liberty does not, as it is frequently supposed, consist essentially in being free to do as one wills, particularly in freedom to do evil, to act contrary to the light of reason and faith, to turn from our last end, and to prepare our own degradation, our own misery. This is an abuse of liberty, or rather it is license. But the liberty truly to be prized, that which constitutes the nobility of our being, is the power with which the will is endowed to choose the means capable of aiding us to attain our final end; or, what comes to the same thing, the power to do good. Montesquieu expresses this excellently well when he says that "liberty can consist only in the power to do what we ought to will."

"True liberty, that which is desirable in the individual order," says Leo XIII, "is that which frees man from the slavery of error and of the passions, which are the worst of tyrants." "In human society liberty worthy of the name does not consist in doing whatever we please, but in being able, under the protection of the civil laws, freely to live according to the requirements of the eternal law." Unfortunately "there is a large number of men who, after the example of Lucifer----the author of these criminal words: 'I will not serve,'----understand by the word liberty only that which is pure and absurd license. Such are they who belong to that wide-spread and powerful school who, borrowing their name from the word liberty, would be called liberals." (Encycl. cit.)

3. Political liberty is twofold in character. a. For a nation it consists in political independence in regard to other nations. Manifestly the Church approves of all such lawful independence, since she lays it as a duty upon her children throughout the world to give effectual proof of their love for their country, and, at need, to lay down their lives to defend it from its enemies. b. For each individual it consists in the right to take part, in a greater or less degree, directly or indirectly (by right of election), in the government of his country. It is evidently not the same in an absolute, an aristocratic, a constitutional monarchy as in a simple republic.

Now, provided the sacred rights of religion are properly respected, the Church shows no preference for any of these various forms of government; she accommodates herself to all, for she can save souls as easily in a Christian republic as in a Christian monarchy. Therefore, provided a legitimate government, whatever it may be, allows her the free exercise of her own mission, without usurping any of her rights, the Church, on her part, will never, in any way whatever, interfere with the mission of the State to procure the temporal welfare of the people.

4. Civil or social liberty, which is also called individual liberty, may be defined as the power of each individual to exercise his personal activity, to provide for his own interests and those of his family, without hindrance on the part of his fellow citizens or the government. It includes liberty of person, of action, of proprietorship, of family, of community, the right to fulfill all duties of charity, to found associations for a laudable purpose, etc.

Political liberty is no doubt good and desirable, but the modern or liberal State, the tendency of which is to attain universal centralism, to enslave and absorb the most sacred rights of the individual, of the family, of special societies, would have us believe that liberty par excellence resides in the exercise of electoral rights. But in reality what does it avail me to enjoy a certain degree of political liberty, that is, to have a hundredth or a millionth part of influence in the constitution of public powers, if this government which I have contributed to establish binds my personal liberty in a thousand ways by innumerable laws, and a pitiless bureaucracy capriciously regulates my every action, and imprisons my life in an absolute slavery of details? The history of the present century, when men talk unceasingly of liberty, clearly shows that to stifle the true liberty of the citizen, and particularly that of Catholic consciences, is the dream of all who are striving to destroy Catholicism in order to establish upon its ruins a purely natural society.

Striking facts of history prove how great has ever been the Church's sympathy with civil liberty. Who but the Church established in the world of nations the only solid foundation of true liberty and equality? Did she not, in the midst of the terrible corruption wrought by pagan ideas and morals, effectually teach mankind that all are brothers and equals in the sight of God? Was it not the Church who rigidly imposed upon all----upon those who govern, as well as upon those who are governed----the duty of justice and charity? Was it not the Church who, by her doctrines, her laws, her institutions, effected the rehabilitation of woman, of the slave, of the child, of the poor, of the laborer----in a word, of all whose rights had been denied, nay, trampled under foot? (See last subchapters on the Church and Civilization.)


1. Pius IX., Syllabus of 1864; Leo XIII., Encyclicals on Socialism, etc., 1878, Matrimony, 1880, Civil Government, 1881, Freemasonry, 1884, 1892, Christian States, 1885, Human Liberty, 1888, Christian Citizenship, 1890; Apostolic Letters to the Emperor of Brazil, 1889, to the Bishops of Italy, 1890, of France, 1892, of Hungary, 1893; Pallen, What is Liberalism?; Brownson, Liberalism and the Church; Br. W. vii. 305; D. R. New Ser. xviii. 1,285, xxv. 202, xxvi. 204,487, III. Ser. xv. 58.
2. It is important, above all things not to confound Liberalism as it existed for a certain period with the Liberalism of the present day, for one differs essentially from the other. Only the name has been retained, the more easily to deceive unthinking minds.

Formerly Liberalism meant a system, or rather a political tendency, opposed to Centralism or Absolutism, favoring in a great measure the participation of the citizens in the government of the State, and procuring, particularly, a large autonomy of individuals and families, of private associations communities, and provinces in the administration of their own interests. It was, in other terms, a tendency favorable to politica and to social liberty. In this acceptation of the term it is evident that Catholics would be excellent Liberals, or rather that they alone, at the present day, would have the right to bear the name. Catholics are in fact wholly favorable to political and civil liberty as we shall describe it elsewhere. They particularly claim for each one, in the reasonable limits of natural law, freedom to dispose of his person, of his acts, to embrace the life or the profession he pleases, to form associations for an honest purpose, to dispose of his fortune during his life and decree by will the disposition to be made of it after his death according to the inspiration of his conscience, and without interference on the part of the civil power. Catholics desire no less the independence of their country, and freedom to govern according to its own laws. If they live under a government which admits modern liberties, they respect the government constituted to meet the present needs of society, and if they complain, it is only when unjust restrictions violate the liberty of citizens and the rights made sacred by the Constitution of their country .---AUTHOR.

Besides this Political Liberalism there is a system of political economy sometimes called Economic Liberalism (see Devas, Polito Economy, p. 552). Both systems are to a certain extent represented by the famous Liberal Party of England. Our treatise has nothin.g' to do with either system; being concerned exclusively with Liberalism in Religion.----EDITOR.
3. Ming, Data of Modern Ethics, ch. 10, 11; Lilly, Right and Wrong.
4. I.E.R., Sep. '94; M.S. H., June 1901; U.B., Jan. '97.
5. This latter term is used in the celebrated joint Pastoral Letter upon this subject addressed to their flock by the Catholic hierarcry of England, Dec. 29. 1900. It was submitted to the judgment of the Holy Father, who, in turn, sent a most flattering letter to the English bisbops, praising them for their "timely and prudent exhortation." For, he says, "too well known is the actual and threatening mischief of that body of fallacious opinions which is commonly designated as 'Liberal Catholicism.'" The Pastoral is found in the M. S. II., Feb. 1901.
6. This paragraph has been slightly modified by the editor, who has also added the following extract from the letter of Leo XIII to Cardinal Gibbons, Jan. 22, 1899. See also Rickaby, Oxf. Conf., s. ii.; Tyrrell, Faith of Mill., I., p. 68; Ward, Geo., poctr. Auth., Essays 1-4; M. S. H., Feb. 1901; I. E. R., March 1903; M., May 1898.
7. Leo XIII, Encycl. on Human Liberty; Lilly, W. S., chapters on European History, Shibboleths, A Century of Revolution; Manning, Essays, III. Ser. (Liberty of the Press); Hergenrother, Catholic Church and State, I., Essay 5; Br.W., vi. 520, xv.; A. C. Q. viii.; C.W. xxix. 852, xxxvii. 289, 741; M. xlviii. 200; D. R. New Ser. iv. 517, xxvii. 1,555; xxviii. 1,503, xxix. 193, III. Ser. xx. 118. Confer Commentaries on the Syllabus of Pius IX. On the Roman Index see Baart, Roman Court, etc.; C. W. xlv. 55; Br. W. vi. 520.
8. See O'Reilly, ch. 22; Holaind, Nat. Law, 1. 4; I. E. R.; July '96. Later on, speaking of the Edict of Nantes, we shall explain a very important distinction between liberty of conscience and that of worship.
9. Needless to say that we treat of the liberties of the press, speech, and association only from the religious standpoint. As long as dogma and morality are not touched, the religious authority will not interfere, else it would go beyond its power.
10. "If we take away belief in the next world, the man of the people must necessarily and lawfully claim equality in this, and he will claim it with forcible logic, with gnashing of teeth, and rage in his heart, and firearms in hand. 'My soul,' he exclaims, 'is only a growth, and God is only an hypothesis. You take from me the restraining fear of Hell, you rob me of the blessed hope of Paradise; then, fear and hope taken from me, all that remains are the temporal possessions of this world. We desire them and we will have them.' " (Mgr. MerInillod.)
11. Balmes, European Civilization, ch. 34, 35, 67; Letters to a Sceptic, 1. 7; Hergenrother, Church and State, II., Essays 16, 17; Rev. W. C. Robinson, Liberty of Conscience; Spalding, J. M., Miscell., Introd. I.; Gibbons, Faith of Our Fathers, ch. 18; Bishop England's Works, vol. ii., 1. 10 to Wm. Hawley; Br. W. vii. 320, 479, X., xi., xii., xiii.; A. C. Q. xv. 301, xix. 508; C. W. iv., v., xxiii. 243, xli. 363 (freedom of worship); D. R. Old Ser. ix. 396, xxxix. 462, New Ser. viii. 347, xxvii. 215. On Mary Tudor see D. R. New Ser. xxv. 435, xxii. 363, xxiii. 324, xxiv. 110.
12. This distinction between thesis and hypothesis is to be found in a host of questions in everyday life, and common sense enforces it frequently, though we are not always aware of it. Hypothesis is the application of the principles of the thesis according to the circumstances of the case; thus to correct a child who does wrong is a father's duty----this is the thesis; to correct him at a certain time and in a certain way might be imprudent----this is the hypothesis. Food is necessary to animal life----this is the thesis; but it may be poison for a sick man----this is the hypothesis. It is the same with religious truth. It possesses of itself imprescriptible and exclusive rights; but there may be circumstances when it is not well rigidly to enforce these rights, and when error or evil may be tolerated. It is in this sense that Leo XIII, after declaring that neither society nor individuals are permitted to treat all religions alike (the thesis), adds farther on: "If the Church judges that it is not permitted to place the various worships on the same legal footing as the true religion, she does not for this reason condemn the heads of government who, in view of some good to be obtained or of some evil to be avoided, tolerate these various worships, permitting them to have their place in the State" (the hypothesis).
13. Balmes, ch. 67; Lilly, chapters on European History, vol. i.; Gibbons, Faith, etc., ch. 17; Spalding, J. M., Miscell., Essay 7; Br. W. vii. 479, 534, XX., xiii., xiv.; A. C. Q. vi. 517; C. W. x. 721, xxxv. 639; M. liv.15, lxiii 457; D. R.lII. Ser. xi. 62.
14. Independence means that a being is indebted to no one, and, consequently, has received nothing from another and has nothing to receive from anyone whomsoever. This absolute independence belongs and can belong only to God, because He alone possesses in Himself the reason of His existence and of all His perfections, and He Himself is His Own end and the source of His infinite happiness. Man, on the contrary, possesses only a being which has been lent him: he holds from God his existence, his faculties, and all that serves to develop and exercise them. And this gift is bestowed by God upon man every moment of his existence, for conservation, like creation, is an uninterrupted act: if God were to cease for a moment to uphold man, he would fall back at once into the abyss of his nothingness. It follows, then, that man is completely and every moment dependent upon his Creator; he is dependent by essence, for he is essentially or by essence a created being. He is even more so, if possible, in the order of grace and glory I to which the Divine Goodness has raised him.
15. In defence of free-will see Ward, Ph. of Theism; Maher, 8.J., Psychology, ch. 18; A. C. Q. xxvii. p. 252; Rickaby, 8. J., Essay 6.