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
Socialism
Trade unions
Communism
Protestant Churches and Communism
Capitalism
Social apathy of Churches
Catholic social teaching
Marriage
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
War

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
Anti-semitism
"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

Religious rights of Protestants

1473. Why do Catholics say no, when we ask them if they think we are heretics?

Because Catholics do not regard Protestants with a prejudice and dislike similar to what are apparently your own dispositions towards Catholics. They make allowance for the sincerity and good faith of their Protestant friends; do not blame them for lacking a Catholic religion they have never really known; and realize that all people must be treated, whatever their religious beliefs, with Christian charity.

1474. No toleration is shown towards the Catholic man or woman who marries outside the Church.

Such a sweeping statement is not justified. If a Catholic unhappily violates a serious law of the Church by such a marriage, other Catholics are not dispensed from the duty of charity in thought, word or deed towards that Catholic. If some do fail in this matter, it cannot be said that all do, or that no toleration is shown. It is true that no Catholic can admit that the law of the Church has not been broken, or that the marriage complies with the requirements for validity in the eyes of the Church and in the sight of God. But the person who has broken the law must still be treated with kindness and charity. And the vast majority of Catholics avoid any illusion to the personal affairs of such a Catholic, and do extend the charity which God demands of them. Where it is a question of great public scandal, of course, public repudiation of such conduct on the part of a Catholic may be justified and even necessary; but even that must be kept within due and legitimate limits.

1475. From your explanations of Catholic principles concerning religious freedom, there seems to he two different schools of thought on the subject, even among Catholics.

In reality, what you take to be two different schools of thought on this subject are not so. The difference is in the problems with which they are concerned. The one problem concerns the objective rights of truth; the other concerns the subjective rights of people who, not knowing the real truth, are sincerely convinced that something else is true. It is very easy to confuse these two problems, speaking of one of them whilst in reality thinking of the other!

1476. For example, I could quote against you a book called "The Freedom of Worship " by Francis J. Connell; a book which carries the "Imprimatur" of Cardinal Spellman himself.

The "Imprimatur" of Cardinal Spellman does not mean that he assumes responsibility for the opinions of an author, or for the way in which those opinions are expressed. It is merely his permission for the book to be printed, after official examiners have declared that the book contains nothing manifestly against Catholic teaching on faith or morals. The author of a book may not always be successful in putting things with the precision and clarity the subject requires.

1477. Father Connell says, on p. 4 of his book: "No one has a real right to accept any religion save the Catholic religion, or to be a member of any Church save the Catholic Church."

Granted the accuracy of your quotation, that would be an example of what I would call the faulty presentation of Catholic teaching. If a man believes the Catholic Church to be the one true Church authorized by God, then he must believe that no Church other than the Catholic Church has any God-given right in itself to demand the allegiance of mankind. Put that way, the proposition must stand. But it is ambiguous to say that "no one has a real right to accept" any other religion. For every man has the real right to follow his conscience, even though it be an erroneous conscience, provided it be no fault of his own that he is laboring under mistaken ideas. Since Father Connell himself would be obliged to admit that principle, it is obvious that, if he made the statement you attribute to him, his thoughts on the subject had not been sufficiently clarified.

1478. On p. 7 of his book he says: "The mere fact that a person sincerely believes a certain religion to be true gives him no genuine right to accept that religion in opposition to God's command that all must embrace the one true religion".

That also is not well put. It is very difficult to assess the position of others without allowing one's own personal convictions to intrude. Father Connell believes, and I believe, and all Catholics believe that the Catholic religion is the God-given true religion. It alone, therefore, carries with it an obligation of acceptance for all who become aware of its truth. And I agree that the mere fact that a person sincerely believes some other religion to be true does not make that other religion true, nor deprive the Catholic religion of its inherent truth and authority. Yet a person who sincerely believes some other religion to be true, and has no means of knowing otherwise, certainly has the right to obey his conscience; and that is a real right. For he is not aware of any opposition to any command of God, however clear God's command in the objective order may be to those who know the truth of the Catholic Church. We Catholics must allow for the fact that a choice of some other religion than the one we know to have been revealed by God is not thought to be in opposition to God's will by the sincere non-Catholic.

1479. Father Connell adds: "Neither does it necessarily oblige others to allow him the unrestricted practice of his religious beliefs".

With that everyone must agree. Freedom to practise one's religious beliefs must be granted within reasonable limits. But such freedom must be restricted to the extent that people professing such religious beliefs do not trespass upon the rights and liberties of others, and do not disurb public order.

1480. All my life I have had friends who belong to your Catholic religion, yet who are very dear to me.

There are no reasons why such pleasant relationships should not continue.

1481. We spend holidays together, and on Sundays they go to their Church and I to mine.

No one could object to that. Merely because they are your friends you have no obligation to admit that their religious views are correct; nor, because you are their friend, have they got to admit that your religious views are correct. The religious relationship is between one^ soul and God. It is a higher relationship, and distinct from the merely natural relationship between friends. And there is no reason why people cannot be united in friendship even though they differ religiously.

1482. Always we have respected each others beliefs.

That is not so well put. No one can really respect a belief opposed to his own religious convictions. For example, as a Protestant you have little respect for the belief that the Pope is infallible. A Presbyterian author, John P. McKnight, in his book, "The Papacy—A New Appraisal," whilst expressing the utmost admiration and even affection for Pope Pius XII, frankly declares that he himself holds the doctrine of Papal Infallibility to be "palpably absurd!" Despite his friendliness, he certainly has no respect for a doctrine which all your Catholic friends believe wholeheartedly. On the other hand, your Catholic friends cannot have any respect for your belief that the Catholic Church is not the one true Church. The right way to express the idea you have in mind would be to say: We have always respected each other's right to follow his own conscientious convictions, whatever our own opinion of those convictions. In other words, your Catholic friends do not respect your beliefs as such; but, since they are your beliefs, they respect your right to act in accordance with them. And those are your dispositions in regard to your friends.

1483. Missing. Editorial error.

Missing. Editorial error.

1484. Always we have indulged in frank and open discussion, and never have I felt that they thought me in the wrong.

I think you are confusing the notions of mistaken ideas and moral blame. Your Catholic friends, in any religious discussion, would have to maintain that your specifically Protestant ideas are mistaken. They would have to make it clear that they thought you wrong from that point of view, or the discussion could not be regarded as frank and open at all. But they would not necessarily blame you for thinking as you do. They would not hold you responsible for the mistakes they believe to be yours. They would indulge in no recriminations, and would not wish to make you feel "in the wrong" as though you were to blame for not seeing things as they do.

1485. They are good people, who live up to their religion in every sense of the word.

All the less would they be willing to subscribe to the principle which I suspect you hold, namely, that one religion is as good as another. Perhaps it would be better to say that you believe that to be the tolerant way of looking at things; for, on second thoughts, I do not think you would really be prepared to say that it is just as good to accept a religion holding that the Pope is infallible, as to accept one denying that infallibility. As for good behavior, people with different religions may be equally good from that point of view. It might even be that a person with the right religion, but not living up to it, is not as good as one with a wrong religion, but who is thoroughly conscientious. Yet even were people with different religions equally good, it does not follow that the different religions are equally true and good in themselves. It is necessary to have very clear ideas in this matter, if we are to understand the problems confronting us in the world today where the question of religious liberty is concerned.

1486. What a lot of trouble religion and religions have brought to the world!

You are allotting the blame in the wrong place; and in any case you quite overlook the immense amount of good religion has brought to the world. As regard troubles in the world, they are not due to religion and religions. Certainly the world's troubles have not been less when men have abandoned religion. During the French Revolution the streets of Paris ran with rivers of blood in the name of rationalism. Since the Russian Revolution, the Communists, dedicated precisely to irreligion, have been utterly ruthless in their infliction of agony and death literally on millions. How explain it all? Simply by the fact that human beings are incurable idealists, yet ever liable to errors of judgment and to depravity of will. Men have ever felt the urge to dedicate themselves and all their energies to what has seemed important to them. And no matter what has seemed important in any given age or nation, in the struggle to develop, maintain or defend it, man's liability to error has led to innumerable follies, whilst his liability to wickedness has led to innumerable crimes. What is necessary is to arrive at a just estimate of the things which men have thought important. And to do that, it is necessary to forget the conduct of men and study the objectives they had in mind, considering those objectives entirely on their own merits.

1487. As a rationalist, I denounce the crimes, killings, etc., in the name of God and religion during the history of Christianity. Have you any suggestions to offer?

I have. But I doubt whether they would convey much to you in your present state of mind. For you manifest the one-track mind which takes its stand on the rationalist platform, looking at the world through a special little peep-hole of its own, seeking only a particular aspect of history which you hope will provide you with ammunition for your attack on God and religion. Until you attain to a more spacious vision, taking in wider horizons, not much can be done for you.

1488. In an address to his Synod, the Anglican Bishop Moyes, of Armidale, N.S.W., said: "The Roman Church is utterly consistent. By her whole history and doctrine she is impelled to claim unconditional possession of the truth. She knows what she believes and acts upon it.

There can be no objection to that statement. But one would have to object to the suggestion that there is anything sinister in such attributes and claims. Also one would be justified in asking this Anglican Bishop whether he thinks that the Church established by Christ Himself ought not to be consistent; ought not to be sure that she possessed the truth; ought not to know what she believed; and ought not to act upon it.

1489. "Rome," he added, "does not believe in religious liberty, and when in the majority does not grant it."

That is simply not true. What is undoubtedly true is that the Catholic Church differs in her interpretation of the requirements of religious liberty from the interpretation of them by Bishop Moyes and those who think with him.

1490. "We Anglican," she declared, "believe in religious liberty, and therefore have no grievance."

In other words, Anglicans must not be surprised if Catholics act according to the principles of the religion they believe to be true. The pity of it is that they believe it to be true. Yet why should Catholics adhere so tenaciously to their religion if they did not believe it to be true? Bishop Moyes might reply that he does not object to Catholics believing their own religion to be true, but only to their being sure that it is true. But if so, is he not sure of the truth of his own Anglican Church? Does he tell his people that possibly it is right to be an Anglican, but quite possibly also it is not right? One thing is certain. Whilst Bishop Moyes thinks Catholics ought not to be sure that they are right, he does not mind being sure that they are wrong. Whatever else may be obscure to him, on one thing he feels infallibly right—that Rome is not right!

1491. Whatever you may say, it is certain that Rome does not and cannot grant religious liberty. In his Encyclical Letter, "Libertas", issued in 1888, Pope Leo XIII said that godlessness will result if Protestant Churches are allowed freedom of worship. And Rome never changes.

What you say is not to be found in the Encyclical "Libertas." That Encyclical was written to condemn those principles of rationalism which masquerade under the name of "Liberalism," and which deny the existence of any divine authority to which obedience is due, proclaiming that every man is a law to himself. The expression "Protestant Churches" nowhere occurs in the Encyclical from beginning to end. All that Pope Leo XIII says is that false liberty of conscience based on a radical independence of God cannot but lead to grave evils whether in civil society or in religion. If, as regards religion, you want his judgment confirmed by a Protestant writer, get and read the book, "Christianity and Liberalism," by the Presbyterian, the Rev. Dr. J. Gresham Machen.

1492. Pope Leo XIII adds that Protestant Churches are allowed their present freedoms "not because the Catholic Church prefers them in themselves, but because she judges it expedient to permit them, until in happier times she can exercise her own liberty".

Pope Leo XIII does not mention the "Protestant Churches" in the Encyclical you quote. He is speaking of purely secular governments which are the fruit of rationalism, and which openly proclaim that governments as such have no duties towards God and religion. Such governments, therefore, are indifferent, in the name of modern liberties, to much that is opposed to the will of God in matters of religion and morals; and all kinds of abuses are not only tolerated but even positively sanctioned by law. To such governments the Church can look for no help to combat prevalent evils, and often the Church is hampered by government opposition. Then comes the quotation you apparently have in mind. "Although in the extraordinary condition of these times," Pope Leo writes, "the Church usually acquiesces in certain modern liberties, not because she prefers them in themselves, but because she judges it expedient to permit them, she would in happier times exercise her own liberty; and by persuasion, exhortation and entreaty, would endeavor, as she is bound, to fulfil the duty assigned to her by God of providing for the eternal salvation of mankind." In other words, the Pope declares that the Catholic Church realizes that her own mission is curtailed under purely secular governments. He adds, however, that in conditions of today secular governments can hardly act otherwise than to abstract from religion, so that the state of affairs, although not ideal, must be accepted in practice. Under more favorable circumstances the Catholic Church would be much more free, by persuasion, exhortation and entreaty, to lift men to higher thoughts and better things. Few Papal Encyclicals have been so deliberately misunderstood and misquoted by prejudiced people as this particular Encyclical "Libertas Praestantissimum," published in 1888 by Pope Leo XIII.

1493. These things make me believe that the Church of Rome does deprecate the idea of religious freedom.

Listen to these opening words of the Encyclical of Pope Leo XIII which you quote: "Liberty, the highest of natural endowments, being the portion only of intellectual Or rational natures, confers on man this dignity, that he is 'in the hand of his counsel' and has power over his actions. But the manner in which such dignity is exercised is of the greatest moment, in as much as on the use that is made of liberty, the highest good and the greatest evil alike depend." The Catholic Church, therefore, does not deprecate religious liberty within lawful limits; but she does not subscribe to every interpretation Protestants choose to associate with religious freedom, any more than Protestants would necessarily subscribe to every interpretation placed upon it by the so-called "Liberalism" of the rationalists.

NEXT TOPIC »

MORE FROM VOLUME 4

"THAT CATHOLIC CHURCH
A Radio Analysis"
- Book Title