Choose a topic from Vol 4:

Religion - Yes or No

Necessity of Religion
Reality of Religious Experience
Religion and life
Religious statistics
Nature of religion
Necessity of worship
Neglect of religion
Religion and history
Conversion of mankind

The Christian Church

Nature of the Church
Necessity of the Church
Visible organisation
Hierarchical constitution
Papal supremacy
Perpetuity of the Church

"This Shall Be the Sign"

Notes of identification
Unity of the Church
Holiness of the Church
Catholicity of the Church
Apostolic succession
"Roman" but not "Roman Catholic"

Dogmatic Authority of the Church

Authority in religion
Catholic Church infallible
The Pope infallible
Papal definitions
Dogmatic spirit of the Catholic Church
"Religion of the spirit"
Individual freedom
Re-stating Christianity
Athanasian Creed
Meaning of faith
Faith and reason
Faith and science
Religion and education
Religion and morals
Catholic countries backward
Universities and religion
Natural Moral Law
Christian principles of morality
Catholicism versus the world

The Power-Complex Illusion

Legislative power of the Catholic Church
Coercive power of the Catholic Church
Catholic Church and political ambitions
Divided allegiance of Catholics
Rome and totalitarianism
Aim of the Catholic Church in America
Catholic Action
Political freedom of Catholics
Catholic infiltration of civic life
Catholicism anti-democatic
Rival totalitarianisms, Rome and Moscow
Catholic attitude to Protestants
Spanish Inquisition
Church and State
Federal Union or "One World State"

Life-Or-Death Social Problems

Social reform necessary
Trade unions
Protestant Churches and Communism
Social apathy of Churches
Catholic social teaching
Family life
Primary purpose of marriage
Religion and marriage
Form of marriage
Mixed marriages
Birth control
"Catholic birth control"
Divorce and re-marriage
Catholics and civil divorce
Nullity decrees
Therapeutic abortion
Euthansia or mercy-killing

Those Exclusive Claims

Divided Christendom
Do divisions matter?
The "Only True Church" claims
Cause of sectarian bigotry
Reunion Movement
Catholic non-cooperation

Religious Liberty

Religious freedom
Catholic intolerance
Protestants and the principles of religious liberty
Rome and the "Four Freedoms"
Heresy and heretics
Religious rights of Protestants
Religious persecution
"Rome's historical record"
Protestant missionaries in Spain
In Italy
In South America
Conditions in Colombia

Are Only Catholics Saved

"Outside the Catholic Church no salvation"
Beliefs of Catholics
Salvation of Pagans
Salvation of Protestants
Why become a Catholic?
Duty of inquiry
Salvation of apostate Catholics
Test at the Last Judgment
Obstacles to conversion
Truth of Catholicism

Individual freedom

341. By your insistence on authority and dogma you prove yourself an enemy of a religion of freedom.

One of the outstanding characteristics of Christ, put before us in the Gospels, is that He "taught as one having authority." Would you make the same charge against Him? The true Church, sent by Him with His own mission to teach all nations, and with the words: "He who hears you hears me," must also teach with authority. And it was of the truth taught with such divine authority that Christ said: "The truth shall make you free." Jn.,VIII,32. You must not think that a religion of authority is opposed to a religion of freedom. A reliable authority is a guarantee of freedom from error; and that is a freedom every sensible man wants.

342. It is only natural for man to want to be free to seek the truth for himself.

It is natural to man to want to know the truth. But it is also natural to man to accept on authority such truth as has already been sought and found by others. In no branch of knowledge is it natural to reject all that has previously been ascertained and to start all over again for oneself. At Universities students are taught all that is already known on special subjects, in order that they may be free from the trouble of having to find out all that for themselves, and that they may go on from where others left off. It would be equally unreasonable to reject the religious teachings of the Catholic Church merely because those teachings must be accepted on her authority.

343. Every man feels that the quest for religious truth is his own personal concern.

Every man should feel that his attitude towards religion is his own personal responsibility. But not every man feels that his only hope of getting religious truth is by working it out for himself. Catholics, and there are millions of them, convinced of the divine authority of their Church, are quite happy to be taught by that Church the religious truth revealed by God. It is a superstition to think that, if we. give up all authority, we shall certainly arrive at the truth.

344. Theological convictions cannot but restrict freedom of thought.

If they be correct, theological convictions are merely a restriction of one's freedom to think erroneously. But no sensible person complains of that. Any knowledge of truth in any field is a restriction on one's mental freedom to think otherwise. The astronomer who knows that the earth has but one moon experiences no sense of grievance because he does not feel free to think it has two or more moons.

345. I have always looked upon dogma-fed Catholics with pity.

Your attitude is not an intelligent one. Take this matter of dogma. Do you even know what dogma means? It is a definite Christian teaching accepted on the grounds of divine authority for it. Do you object to its being definite? Or do you hold that man is not obliged to believe what God has declared to be true? If you dogmatically assert that there ought to be no dogma, then that is your own dogma.

346. A man should be free entirely from any outside influences and directives.

Since when was refusal to be taught a virtue? If it is a crime to be influenced by others older and wiser than ourselves, or to submit to their directives, then education itself would be impossible, and we would have a rising generation of undisciplined fools. You may say that you are referring only to the field of religious ideas. But even there what I have said holds good. The spiritual advice of St. Bernard of Clairvaux is still valid: "He who takes himself as his guide has a fool for his master and a bigger fool for his disciple."

347. Any persuasion arrived at by bamboozling oneself is not worth having.

That is true, if you are thinking of truth and of conscience. But if a man does not bother about those, then by self-deception he can arrive at persuasions well worth having, although from unworthy motives. People accomplish that every day. I have known people to fight against their growing conviction of the truth of the Catholic religion, and who have succeeded in persuading themselves that they are justified in remaining non-Catholics. From the viewpoint of their own comfort and social relationships, that persuasion was well worth having. But from the viewpoint of truth and in the sight of God it was certainly not worth having. But one who has the Catholic faith has not to bamboozle himself into accepting the authoritative teachings of the Catholic Church. He is wholeheartedly convinced of their truth.

348. As regards the dogmas of your Church, could a Catholic privately think differently without being considered to have denied his faith?

A dogma is a doctrine which has been defined by the Church as an essential part of the Christian faith. A Catholic who knows this, and would continue to hold a personal opinion opposed to it, would by the very fact have denied and abandoned the Catholic Faith, interiorly at least. You may say: "But if a man thinks the opposite, it's no use telling himself that he doesn't think the opposite." The solution of that problem is not very difficult. If a man thinks a thought, he thinks it; but it does not follow that what he thinks is necessarily right. One is not obliged to believe that every thought coming into his head is true. Now if stray thoughts opposed to a Catholic dogma come into the mind of a Catholic, he knows at once that those thoughts are erroneous and he abandons them. He realizes that he cannot hold on to and maintain such thoughts to be true without denying the Catholic Faith. I am speaking here of the defined dogmas of the Catholic religion. There are many matters, outside the field of defined dogmas, in which Catholics are quite free to form and to maintain their own opinions. But these are outside the scope of your question.

349. I mean, of course, that he adheres externally and publicly to all Church pronouncements.

A Catholic's public profession of belief in the Catholic religion without any interior personal belief in it would be but a pretence. Such a person would have denied the Faith in his own mind and heart but merely without telling anyone about it. It won't do. A Catholic is obliged, not only to profess publicly his belief in all the defined dogmas of the Catholic religion, but inwardly to believe in them, assenting wholeheartedly to them, and making them his dearest personal convictions. His motive is confidence in the fact that God, who has revealed them to be true, must know all things and is incapable of a lie. A Catholic knows that to hold an opinion opposed to a Catholic dogma is to deny by the very fact God's knowledge or His veracity. He is certainly not free to do that, even though he does so only inwardly whilst conforming outwardly to the teachings of the Church. Did he do so, he would have lost the Faith. But keep in mind that I am speaking of the defined dogmas of the Catholic religion, not of other matters in which freedom of opinion is permissible.

350. As a lawyer, with all respect I wish to submit that Catholics, for all their reliance on the infallible dogmatic authority of their Church, are in no better position than Protestants who rely on their own fallible private judgment.

That you are mistaken in your line of argument I hope to show in a moment. For the time being let me give you this analogy, though it is no more than an analogy. An ordinary citizen would not trust his own private judgment to conduct an involved lawsuit. He would trust his own judgment in so far as it told him that he lacked sufficient knowledge of legal procedure, and that he ought to seek out a lawyer. But having entrusted his case to the lawyer, he would then rely on the judgment of the lawyer and not on his own private opinion as to how the case should be conducted. And you, as a legal man, would certainly not say that he would be in no better a position than a citizen who would refuse legal assistance and rely on his own private judgment only.

351. The point I wish to make is that, whilst you rely on what you believe to be an infallible Church, you accept your Church as infallible by an act of your own private judgment. So you are back to the same position as the Protestant in the end.

You have not rightly estimated the Catholic position. I accept the infallibility of the Catholic Church by an act of faith in God, who has revealed the fact of its infallibility. In other words, I rely on God's authority for that, not on my own private judgment. I admit that I had to use my own private judgment or human reasoning in weighing the claims of the Catholic Church as contrasted with those of all other Churches. But my faith in the truth of the Catholic Church, whilst presupposing such rational inquiry, does not rest upon it. I could have arrived at all the conclusions to which my own private judgment led me without attaining to faith in the infallibility of the Catholic Church at all; and in that case I would believe in it as little as you do. As a matter of fact I have put before intelligent men all the evidences that convinced me, only to obtain from them the admission that there was no flaw in the argument although they themselves have not shown the slightest trace of conviction that they too ought to accept the guidance of the Catholic Church as infallible. As one agnostic, a member of your own legal fraternity, said to me: "I agree that if there's any true Church, it can only be the Catholic Church. But her claims mean nothing to me. They just don't register." The conviction that the Catholic Church is infallible and that one is obliged to accept her guidance require something more than any person's own natural reasoning can provide. Faith in the infallibility of the Catholic Church, therefore, cannot be reduced to an act of one's own private judgment only.

352. As your own private judgment is fallible and therefore liable to mislead you, you could be as mistaken in thinking your Church infallible as the Protestant could be mistaken in judging for himself what doctrines he should believe.

I deny that the cases are similar. The human judgment is, of course, fallible. But we must beware of extravagances. We must not go so far as to say that human reason can never arrive at a certainly valid conclusion within its own proper sphere of natural realities. For example, there are many facts of history of which we are all quite certain. Now I maintain that if a man examines impartially and adequately the historical evidence for the claim of the Catholic Church to have been established by Christ and to have been promised infallibility by Him, he will find that claim reasonably substantiated. Of course that only involves the admission that there was a Christ, that He established the Catholic Church, and that He taught that it would be infallible. Reason could go that far, without a man's having any faith in Christ as God, or in the Catholic Church He established as being of God, or in the infallibility Christ promised it. Such faith is the gift of God, and it is given in answer to the prayer of a man of goodwill. The one who gets that gift receives from Him an interior and very definite realization that the infallibility of the Catholic Church is indeed a divinely revealed truth; and he accepts it on the au- . thority of God Himself, not as an inference based on efforts at merely human reasoning. There is a vast difference between the position of the Catholic who then believes all that the infallible Catholic Church teaches as Articles of Faith, and the position of the man who never gets beyond his own private judgment, and who insists on deciding for himself what he will believe, even in the realm of mysterious and supernatural religious realities which of their very nature surpass the capacity of unaided human reason. I do not pretend that this is a simple and easy problem. I may even seem to be talking a foreign language to one who does not already possess the Catholic Faith. But all who do possess that Faith have the experience of what I have described, even though they themselves could not describe it; and they know that their faith cannot be reduced to any mere act of private judgment.



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