Chapter 29. The Vatican Council (1869-1870)

{279} IT is sometimes suggested that Newman's line of action in 1869 and 1870 in connection with the Vatican Council was an episode in his life which showed a certain deficiency in whole-hearted loyalty to the Holy See, and were best forgotten by his admirers. His letters show that he himself took a very different view from this even after all the excitement of controversy had subsided. If ever he acted against his inclinations and from a stern sense of duty it was at this crisis. He had a full consciousness that many good but not far-seeing people, whom he respected, would condemn his attitude. He was opposing what was put forward as being the wish of a Pontiff whom he especially loved and revered for his personal qualities even apart from his sacred office. But throughout he believed himself to be defending the interests of Catholic theology against extremists who were—without realising the effects of their action—setting it aside. Like Archbishop Sibour, he was pleading the cause of the immemorial constitution of the Church against the innovations of advocates of a new absolutism. An Ecumenical Council, according to Catholic theology, involves genuine deliberation. He had been invited by the Pontiff himself to contribute material towards this deliberation. He was constantly consulted by Bishop Ullathorne, Bishop Clifford, Bishop Dupanloup, and other prelates. He had then the call, in his own sphere, to make a real contribution to the process of deliberation—that is to say, to declare what his own judgment was, but with the full intention of submitting to the Church when it had decided the matter. The Pope was constantly approached with representations on behalf of one view of the question: was it not only fair, reasonable, {280} and loyal to bring before him and the Council the full force of another view held by many of the Bishops themselves?

As we have seen, there were men of influence who were speaking as though truth was to be directly revealed by the Holy Spirit to the Council, and scientific theology, and deliberation with a view to exactness of expression, were unimportant. Against this growing tendency he entered his earnest protest by word and by deed. No doubt his protest was regarded by men whose education was not equal to their piety as showing a want of confidence in the Holy Spirit's guidance. So, too, Silas Marner deemed it a want of faith to doubt that the Holy Spirit would interfere by preternatural agencies to guide the decision by lot. And when that decision turned out to be false he lost his faith in God. Such is the Nemesis which follows the identification of God's guidance with the beliefs of the superstitious as to its nature and degree. The very fact that Newman's protest was objected to showed how necessary it was, and how the commonplaces of theology were being practically disregarded. He was but acting on the words he had himself written five years earlier, in the 'Apologia,' on the determining factors in the proceedings of Ecumenical Councils. The Fathers, he wrote, 'have been guided in their decisions by the commanding genius of individuals, sometimes young and of inferior rank. Not,' he added, 'that uninspired intellect overruled the superhuman gift which was committed to the Council, which would be a self-contradictory assertion, but that in that process of enquiry and deliberation which ended in an infallible enunciation individual effort was paramount.' He gave the instances of Malchion, a mere presbyter, at the council of Antioch; of Athanasius, a deacon, at Nicea; of Salmeron, a priest, at Trent. That he himself, though a mere priest, should, when invited to contribute to the theological deliberations preliminary to the Vatican Council, do his best to make them real—that he should do something very different from merely uncritically acquiescing in the treatment of a definition of doctrine which involved a statement of historical fact, as though it were, in his own words, 'a luxury of devotion'—was, then, to be true to Catholic practice in the past in the face of dangerous innovation. {281} And, moreover, while the principle of full deliberation was the tradition in possession, it was also more than ever necessary now when historical criticism was so rapidly gaining in accuracy, and so many acute and jealous eyes would test and criticise the proceedings of the Council.

For a moment he had hesitated whether he should not accept the invitation of the Holy Father and Monsignor Dupanloup to attend at Rome in person for the theological conferences in which the schemata of the Council were to be prepared. But in the event he had declined.

'Don't be annoyed,' he wrote to Sister Maria Pia on February 10, 1869. 'I am more happy as I am, than in any other way. I can't bear the kind of trouble which I should have, if I were brought forward in any public way. Recollect, I could not be in the Council, unless I were a Bishop—and really and truly I am not a theologian. A theologian is one who has mastered theology—who can say how many opinions there are on every point, what authors have taken which, and which is the best—who can discriminate exactly between proposition and proposition, argument and argument, who can pronounce which are safe, which allowable, which dangerous—who can trace the history of doctrines in successive centuries, and apply the principles of former times to the conditions of the present. This it is to be a theologian—this and a hundred things besides—which I am not, and never shall be. Like St. Gregory Nazianzen, I like going on my own way, and having my time my own, living without pomp or state, or pressing engagements. Put me into official garb, and I am worth nothing; leave me to myself, and every now and then I shall do something. Dress me up, and you will soon have to make my shroud—leave me alone, and I shall live the appointed time.

'Now do take this in, as a sensible nun.'

However, while declining an official position, such aid as he could give by correspondence with individual Bishops he was ready and anxious to afford.

There were two doctrines of the utmost delicacy which the Council proposed to treat—the Inspiration of Scripture and Papal Infallibility. To treat them with a full knowledge of the facts relevant to their accurate interpretation and exposition, so that the world should see that the definitions {282} were entirely consistent with the historical and physical science of the day, needed full and careful deliberation.

His greatest anxiety, of course, related to the proposed definition of Papal Infallibility. It appeared to him that the untheological school were trying to force a strong definition secretly, without due discussion, without facing the historical facts with which it must be reconciled—seeking mainly to express their devotional beliefs, and in doing so perhaps rendering an effective defence of the doctrine most difficult for Catholics in the future. His cry was in effect 'Stop this post-haste movement and give us time.' He considered that imperiousness and unfairness marked the proceedings of some of the most energetic promoters of the definition. To write at length on so wide a subject would need on his part long and laborious scientific investigation. For this no time was given. He could only cry out, and try and arouse the Bishops to a sense of the danger. He communicated with many of them privately. This was within the clear limit of his locus standi, for they asked his opinion. He seems to have hesitated as to the allowableness of writing publicly. But anyhow there was no time to write with any effect.

Before taking in order the events of the months preceding the definition, it may be well to give a few extracts from letters written in their course which illustrate the above account of his habitual feeling. When portions of a letter to Bishop Ullathorne in which he strongly criticised some of the promoters of the definition afterwards found their way into the newspapers, Father Coleridge urged him to write a pamphlet designed for the public. Newman thus replied:

'Of course a pamphlet would have been far better than such a letter, but I was distinctly dissuaded from publishing; and then I asked myself this question—"Can anything I say move a single Bishop? And if not, what is the good of writing?" And this is the great charge which I bring against the immediate authors of this movement, that they have not given us time. Why must we be hurried all of a sudden, to write or not to write? Why is a coup de main to settle the matter before we know where we are? What could such as I do, but cry out, bawl, make violent gestures, as you would do, if you saw a railway engine running over some unhappy workman on the line? What time was there {283} for being scientific? What could you do but collar a Bishop, if you could get up to one? The beginning and end of my thoughts about the Council is: "You are going too fast, you are going too fast."

The extreme party were, Newman held, playing into the hands of the Church's enemies, who desired a definition which should be a reductio ad absurdum of Papal claims. The gradual spread of Catholic doctrines in England, of late years so promising, would, he feared, inevitably be checked if it should be passed. He wrote to Mr. Brownlow, contrasting the circumstances of this impending definition with those of the definition of 1854:

'As to the Immaculate Conception, by contrast there was nothing sudden, or secret, in the proposal of definition in that case. It had been talked about years out of mind—and was approached, every one knowing it, by step after step. This has taken us all by surprise.

'The Protestant and Infidel Press, so far from taking part with Mgr. Dupanloup, have backed up all along the extreme party—and now all through the country are taking an argumentative position against me.

'The existing Ritualists may or may not be put back—but the leavening of the country will be checked.'

'It is very pleasant to me,' he wrote to Canon Walker, 'to find you have hopes of the Council abstaining in a matter on which, I fear, the Pope has set his heart. What I dread is haste—if full time is given for the Synodal Fathers to learn and reflect on the state of the case, I have little doubt they will keep clear of the dangerous points.'

To Mrs. F. Ward he wrote thus:

'This is certainly a most anxious time of suspense ... Councils have ever been times of great trial—and this seems likely to be no exception. It was always held that the conduct of individuals who composed them was no measure of the authority of their result. We are sure, as in the case of the administration of the Sacraments, that the holiness of actors in them is not a necessary condition of God's working by means of them. Nothing can be worse than the conduct of many in and out of the Council who are taking the side which is likely to prevail.'

Two more extracts bring before us another side of his view. He regarded Archbishop Manning's unceasing {284} advocacy of the definition as a kind of fixed idea, characteristic of his occasionally mystical and apocalyptic way of writing and thinking. Such a manner of looking at things did not inspire Newman with confidence.

'I don't think Dr. Manning has put on any "spectacles,"' he wrote to Canon Jenkins. 'He says what he thinks, and knows what he is about. I cannot help thinking he holds that the world is soon coming to an end—and that he is in consequence careless about the souls of future generations which will never be brought into being. I can fancy a person thinking it a grand termination (I don't mean that he so thinks) to destroy every ecclesiastical power but the Pope and let Protestants shift for themselves.'

On the other hand, while the enforcement of strict views was in such a one as Manning a congenial indulgence, Newman foresaw results of the general policy which was being pursued quite opposite to the intention of those who pursued it. Their object was to bring free-lances into line. Newman held that the general policy of narrowing the terms of communion would have in many cases—and indeed had actually had—just the opposite effect. Acute minds which if allowed a reasonable freedom might be kept within due limits, would run to really unallowable excesses in their angry reaction against what they held to be tyranny. Mr. Ffoulkes was writing indignantly against the Council. Acton and Wetherell were using language in the North British Review of which Newman could not approve. People were saying to Newman—'Here are your friends of the Home and Foreign—see what they are writing! Were we not indeed justified in checking them and in censuring the Review?' Newman held just the opposite—that excesses were not necessarily the index of an attitude which existed from the first, but embodied a reaction and protest, indefensible but natural, against tyrannous repression. And, while disapproving of the actors in this protest, their excesses had or might prove to have (he seems to have thought) good consequences in bringing home to those in authority the danger of drawing the reins too tight.

'There are those,' he wrote to Mrs. Froude, 'who have been taking matters with a very high hand and with much of silent intrigue for a considerable time, and such ways of going {285} on bring with them their retribution. This does not defend the actors in that retribution. Ffoulkes is behaving very ill—but he is the "Nemesis," as they call it, of a policy, which I cannot admire. Nor do I like the new North British—but it too is the retributive consequence of tyranny. All will work for good; and, if we keep quiet, Providence will fight for us, and set things right.' [Note 1]

Early in the year 1869 Newman received some confirmation of his fears that an exaggerated and untheological view of the nature of Papal Infallibility was current in highest quarters. Sir John Simeon forwarded to Newman some notes received from Mr. Odo Russell, at that time British Minister in Rome, of a conversation with Cardinal Antonelli on April 23, in which the Cardinal was represented as taking the exaggerated view in question. Would the Council (Newman asked himself), if it passed the {286} definition, appear to the world to endorse such an extravagant view? Here was a matter for most grave anxiety.

Bishop Dupanloup and very many French and German prelates shared Newman's anxiety. Archbishop Manning, on the other hand, issued pastoral after pastoral in favour of the definition, and W. G. Ward in the course of the year published his pamphlet 'De Infallibilitatis Extensione,' which, being in Latin, was widely read by foreign theologians as well as English. Dupanloup, in a letter to his clergy issued in November, attacked both Manning and Ward. Echoing the complaint of the Jesuit Père Daniel in France, and of Father Ryder in England, he deprecated the fact that 'intemperate journalists' insisted on 'opening debates on one of the most delicate subjects and answering beforehand in what sense the Council would decide and should decide.' 'The public mind thus became filled with an extravagant idea of what Papal Infallibility meant; and the definition was inopportune because it would be misunderstood.

In respect of Mr. Ward's special share in the controversy, the Bishop strongly censured his contention that the Pontiff may speak infallibly in letters addressed, not to the whole Church, but to an individual Bishop.

Again, Ward had ascribed infallibility to a number of documents on the ground that they contained condemnations reproduced by the Syllabus, and he maintained that all Catholics were bound to believe this. Afterwards, in deference to the opinion of Roman theologians, as we have already seen, he retracted this assertion. Dupanloup at once seized on the retractation. If even a theological expert like Ward could make such a mistake, how much more could others! What an argument for leaving so subtle a question to time, and to the safer process of discussion among theologians, whose ultimate decision would have the advantage of the fullest consideration of pros and cons! What a proof that a true view of Papal Infallibility was inseparable from the constitutional methods habitually employed! The Pope was indeed infallible; but the exact knowledge of what he taught infallibly, and when he taught infallibly, came to the faithful, in the cases which his own words might well leave doubtful, {287} not through the rapid private judgment of an individual, however able, or of a single public writer for his readers, but through the gradual operation of the learning and knowledge of the Church as a whole.

Here, then, Dupanloup [Note 2] noted, what Cardinal Newman has so constantly pointed out, the functions of the Church, as represented by the Bishops and the theological school, in determining the force and interpreting the meaning of Papal declarations, as well as in assisting the Pope in the deliberations preparatory to definitions—functions so strangely ignored or minimised by the extreme party. Many of the Infallibilists appeared to be in the same position as some supporters of the majority at the Council of Ephesus. These men, in their zeal against the Nestorians, who denied that Jesus Christ was a Divine Person, fell into the opposite error of denying that He had a human soul and human nature. They became the founders of the Monophysite heresy.

Newman's fears persisted up to the time of the definition itself. The accredited organs of Rome, the Civilità Cattolica at their head, used language which foreshadowed some such definition as could seem called for only to satisfy the extravagant devotional feeling towards the Papacy, of which some exhibitions have been cited above from the columns of the Univers. Newman was in frequent correspondence with Bishop Ullathorne, and wrote him a letter in January 1870, in which he expressed fully his feelings of dismay and indignation. The letter ran as follows:

Private.              January 28th, 1870.
'My dear Lord,—I thank your Lordship very heartily for your most interesting and seasonable letter. Such letters (if they could be circulated) would do much to reassure the many minds which are at present disturbed when they look towards Rome. Rome ought to be a name to lighten the heart at all times, and a Council's proper office is, when some great heresy or other evil impends, to inspire the faithful with hope and confidence. But now we have the greatest meeting which has ever been, and that in Rome, infusing into us by the accredited organs of Rome (such as the Civilità, the Armonia, the Univers, and the Tablet) little else than fear {288} and dismay. Where we are all at rest and have no doubts, and, at least practically, not to say doctrinally, hold the Holy Father to be infallible, suddenly there is thunder in the clear sky, and we are told to prepare for something, we know not what, to try our faith, we know not how. No impending danger is to be averted, but a great difficulty is to be created. Is this the proper work for an Ecumenical Council? As to myself personally, please God, I do not expect any trial at all, but I cannot help suffering with the various souls that are suffering. I look with anxiety at the prospect of having to defend decisions which may not be difficult to my private judgment, but may be most difficult to defend logically in the face of historical facts. What have we done to be treated as the Faithful never were treated before? When has definition of doctrine de fide been a luxury of devotion and not a stern painful necessity? Why should an aggressive and insolent faction be allowed to make the hearts of the just to mourn whom the Lord hath not made sorrowful? Why can't we be let alone when we have pursued peace and thought no evil? I assure you, my dear Lord, some of the truest minds are driven one way and another, and do not know where to rest their feet; one day determining to give up all theology as a bad job and recklessly to believe henceforth almost that the Pope is impeccable; at another tempted to believe all the worst that a book like Janus says; at another doubting about the capacity possessed by Bishops drawn from all corners of the earth to judge what is fitting for European society, and then again angry with the Holy See for listening to the flattery of a clique of Jesuits, Redemptorists and Converts. Then again think of the score of Pontifical scandals in the history of eighteen centuries which have partly been poured out, and partly are still to come out. What Murphy inflicted upon us in one way, M. Veuillot is indirectly bringing on us in another. And then again the blight which is falling upon the multitude of Anglican ritualists, who themselves perhaps, or at least their leaders, may never become Catholics, but who are leavening the various English parties and denominations (far beyond their own range) with principles and sentiments tending towards their ultimate adoption into the Catholic Church.

'With these thoughts before me, I am continually asking myself whether I ought not to make my feelings public; but all I do is to pray those great early Doctors of the Church, whose intercession would decide the matter,—Augustine and the rest,—to avert so great a calamity. If it is God's Will {289} that the Pope's Infallibility should be defined, then it is His Blessed Will to throw back the times and the moments of that triumph He has destined for His Kingdom; and I shall feel I have but to bow my head to His Adorable Inscrutable Providence. You have not touched on the subject yourself, but I think you will allow me to express to you feelings which for the most part I keep to myself.

In the course of March, extracts from this letter found their way into the Standard newspaper—how they became public is not known. The passage in which the words 'aggressive and insolent faction' occur was printed. Newman wrote to the Standard denying that he had used the words, insisting that the letter was a private one, yet not disclaiming its sentiments.

He wrote at the same time to Dr. Moriarty, Bishop of Kerry, an active opponent of the definition, in much the same sense as he had written to Dr. Ullathorne:

'The Oratory: March 20th, 1870.
'My dear Lord,—I am continually thinking of you and your cause. I look upon you as the special band of confessors, who are doing God's work at this time in a grave crisis; who, I trust, will succeed in your effort, but who cannot really fail—both because you are at the very least diminishing the nature and weight of the blow which is intended by those whom you oppose, and also because your resistance must bear fruit afterwards, even though it fails at the moment. If it be God's will that some definition in favour of the Pope's infallibility is passed, I then should at once submit—but up to that very moment I shall pray most heartily and earnestly against it. Any how, I cannot bear to think of the tyrannousness and cruelty of its advocates—for tyrannousness and cruelty it will be, though it is successful ...

'The Standard has been saying that I have written to Bp. of Birmingham at Rome, speaking of the advocates of Papal Infallibility as an "insolent aggressive faction"—this I certainly have not done—though I do in my heart think some advocates, e.g. the Univers, insolent and aggressive. Certainly I do. Think of the way in which the French Bishops have been treated. I wrote to Dr. Ullathorne last Monday, feeling, that, though I had not used those words, yet the person who wrote the Standard word about me certainly {290} had seen my letter to him. Here no one knew anything of what I said to the Bishop but Fr. St. John—and both he and I have kept a dead silence about it all along.

'I don't give up hope, till the very end, the bitter end; and am always praying about it to the great doctors of the Church. Anyhow, we shall owe you and others a great debt.
'My dear Lord
Ever yours affecly in Xt,

Sir John Simeon had seen a copy of the letter to Dr. Ullathorne in which the words 'aggressive and insolent faction' did occur, and wrote to Newman at once to say so.

On receiving his letter, Newman again looked at the rough copy of his letter to Dr. Ullathorne, and found that the words in question, which he had overlooked, were really there. He at once wrote to Simeon:

'The Oratory: March 22nd, 1870.
'My dear Sir John,—I kept a copy of my letter to the Bishop.

'Before writing to the Standard I referred to it, and could not find the words in question then.

'Since your letter has come, I have referred again to it, and I have found them.

'I can only account for my not having seen them the first time, by the letter being written very badly and interlined.

'Of course I must write to the Standard, but I must take care how I pick my way or I shall tumble into the mud.
'Ever yours affectionately,

The following letter from Dr. Newman appeared in the Standard of the following day:

'Sir,—In answer to the letter of "The Writer of 'the Progress of the Council,'" I am obliged to say that he is right, and I am wrong as to my using the words "insolent and aggressive faction" in a letter which I wrote to Bishop Ullathorne. I write to make my apologies to him for contradicting him.

'I kept the rough copy of this private letter of mine to the Bishop, and on reading the writer's original statement I referred to it and did not find there the words in question.

'This morning a friend has written to tell me that there are copies of the letter in London, and that the words {291} certainly are in it. On this I have looked at my copy a second time, and I must confess that I have found them.

'I can only account for my not seeing them the first time by my very strong impression that I had not used them in my letter, confidential as it was, and from the circumstance that the rough copy is badly written and interlined.

'I learn this morning from Rome that Dr. Ullathorne was no party to its circulation.

'I will only add that when I spoke of a faction I neither meant that great body of Bishops who are said to be in favour of the definition of the doctrine nor any ecclesiastical order or society external to the Council. As to the Jesuits, I wish distinctly to state that I have all along separated them in my mind, as a body, from the movement which I so much deplore. What I meant by a faction, as the letter itself shows, was a collection of persons drawn together from various ranks and conditions in the Church.
'I am, Sir, Your obedient servant,
'March 22nd.'

The following letter to Sir John Simeon shows that Newman was on the whole glad that his sentiments had been made public without any responsibility on his own part for the fact:

'The Oratory: March 27th, 1870.
'My dear Sir John,—As my confidential letter to the Bishop shows, I have been anxious for some time that an opportunity of speaking out, which I could not make myself, should be made for me.

'I could not make it myself, for, as I said to you before, I am bound to act in my own place as a priest under authority, and there was no call for my going out of it.

'One thing I could do without impropriety—liberare animam meam—to my Bishop, and that I did. I did so with great deliberation in one of the most private and confidential letters I ever wrote in my life.

'I am glad I have done it, and moreover, I am not sorry that, without any responsibility of my own, which I could not lawfully bring on me, the general drift of what I wrote has been published.

'Everything hitherto has happened well. It was very lucky that I was so firmly persuaded I did not use in the letter the words imputed to me. My persuasion being such I felt it to be a simple duty to disown them; and I could {292} not in fairness disown them, without avowing at the same time, as I did in my letter to the Standard, that, though I did not use the words, I thought them in my heart. If I had recognised my own words from the first, I should have had no opportunity of explaining their meaning, or against whom they were directed. My two letters to the Standard have given me two such opportunities.

'Now, however, this is done; and I feel quite easy, and need do nothing more.

'There were two reasons which might be urged upon me for making my views known, viz.—in order that they might act as a means of influencing some of the Bishops in the Council, and as a protest against the action of a certain party. What I have already done, is all that I can, all that I need do. Would anything more on my part move a single Bishop? Would anything more make my mind on the matter more intelligible to the world? I think not.

'I will add one thing. I do not at all anticipate any ultimate dissension. Like a jury, they will sit till they agree. I have full confidence in the French and German Bishops.
'Ever yours affectionately,

'P.S.—Certainly I rejoice to hear from you that an Address protesting against the definition of Infallibility would, if started, be largely signed: but what have I to do with such measures, beyond giving my opinion, which I have done?'

Newman did, however, take one further step, and published the whole of the letter of which the Standard had printed extracts. He refers to its publication in a letter to Mr. de Lisle:

'My dear Mr. de Lisle,— ... I am in somewhat of a mess as you may see from the papers. I sent to our Bishop, Dr. Ullathorne, at Rome, one of the most confidential letters that I ever wrote in my life—and, without his fault, it got out and was shown about Rome. Then, I still unconscious of the mishap, it travelled to London, and, after circulating pretty freely, bits of it got into the papers. Meanwhile, it got to Germany, and there again other bits were published, and not fairly given, though without bad intention, but from the natural inaccuracy which attends on reports, when they have passed through several minds in succession. And then at length the whole of it, in its length and breadth, has got published at last. {293}

'I trust it has thus wriggled into public knowledge, for some good purpose—though I cannot tell how this will be. If it leads to some counter demonstration, it will be very sad. I wish there was a chance of a strong lay petition to our Bishops to beg them to use their influence at Rome to let matters alone. But this, I fear, you will pronounce to be impossible.

'Anxious as I am, I will not believe that the Pope's Infallibility can be defined at the Council till I see it actually done. Seeing is believing. We are in God's Hands—not in the hands of men, however high-exalted. Man proposes, God disposes. When it is actually done, I will accept it as His act; but, till then, I will believe it impossible. One can but act according to one's best light. Certainly, we at least have no claim to call ourselves infallible; still it is our duty to act as if we were, to act as strongly and vigorously in the matter, as if it were impossible we could be wrong, to be full of hope and of peace, and to leave the event to God. This is right, isn't it?
'Most sincerely yours,

The end of May saw the Canons of the Council on the first of the two subjects which caused Newman anxiety—the inspiration of Scripture. From a letter to Father Coleridge it would seem that these Canons realised Newman's anticipations. He had no difficulty in accepting them. But he felt that they were drawn up with no adequate regard to the urgent questions which were being raised by contemporary Biblical criticism. This he evidently deeply regretted. The consequence was that difficulties which the theologians had not anticipated in framing the Canons would have to be taken into account in their interpretation. Eventually no doubt theological explanation would give them an interpretation in some respects different from what appeared to him their prima facie sense. But this must be a matter of time. And meanwhile he anticipated great difficulties. The Fathers of the Council had not—so he was credibly informed—intended to make untenable the views of certain approved theologians which had not apparently been taken into account in the wording of the Canons. If this were the case the fact would have to be made clear to hostile critics. It is worth while to remark that the chief point which Newman in his first letter wishes to see expressly {294} allowed for—the use by Moses of pre-existing documents—is in our own day fully admitted by most theologians. But Newman evidently wished that at this critical moment such considerations should have been dealt with by full theological discussion. A freer and more open debate would have forestalled objections which, as things were, the keener-sighted Catholic thinkers might have to answer by qualifying the apparent meaning of the words of the Canons.

The very important letter of which I speak ran as follows:

'The Oratory: June 7, 1870.
'I have my doubts whether, humanly speaking, those Canons &c. would ever have been pressed in their actual wording, if things had not been kept so strangely snug from first to last. The Pope and the Bishops seem to have left everything to the Holy Ghost.

'Speaking under correction, there are two new dogmas in what has been defined about Scripture—1st that Scripture is inspired. In the decree of Trent the Apostles are declared to be inspired, and they, thus inspired, are the fountain head both tradition and of Scripture. Bouvier, I think, says that the inspiration in Scripture is not defined, though it is certissimum. 2nd that by the Testamenta is meant, not the Covenants, but the collection of books constituting the Bible; of which in consequence as well as of the Covenants, God becomes the "Auctor."

'St. Irenæus, writing against the Gnostics, who denied the Jewish Dispensation to be the work of God, says that God was the Auctor Testamenti Veteris, of which testaments he numbers in one place (I think) five. When the Priscillians made a row in Spain, the Spanish Bishops against them read the same formula. Then in the Middle Ages, against the Manichean Gnostics, Albigenses &c.—the same formula was used. Thence it came to Florence. Mind, I am writing from memory, but thus my memory runs.

'When I heard the Canons had been passed—no, it was when I saw from the Papers that they were threatened,—I, at once, wrote to a Bishop at Berne, saying what I have said above—but it was too late. One says God's will be done. He is wiser than man—but I cannot think that full deliberation has been had upon the subject—which is necessary, not for the validity of the decree but for the relief of the responsibility of those who so passed it. On such important questions why should not all sides be considered and reviewed? {295}

'My friend wrote me back word that he was sure that the Fathers of the Council never meant to exclude the views Lessius, but their words are very like exclusion. Can I now hold that Moses by inspiration selected and put together the various pre-existing documents which constitute the book Genesis? Are the genealogies all of them inspired? for are they not "partes" of Scripture?

'It seems to me that a perfectly new platform of doctrine is created, as regards our view of Scripture, by these new Canons—so far as this, that, if their primary and surface meaning is to be evaded, it must be by a set of explanations heretofore not necessary.

'Indeed the whole Church platform seems to me likely to be off its ancient moorings, it is like a ship which has swung round or taken up a new position ...
'Ever yours affectionately,

The question of Inspiration having been dealt with, there remained the all-important one of Papal Infallibility. And Newman continued to pray and hope that the definition might be averted. The late Lord Emly, who often conversed with him on the subject, told the present writer that Newman's main objection throughout was not to a definition on the subject, but to such a definition as was likely to be passed in the haste in which matters were proceeding and to exaggerations of its import which extremists were likely to propagate. It was this anxiety which led him to pray earnestly that for the present at least no definition should be passed. Newman wrote in April to Dr. Whitty, who was in Rome:

'Confidential.               April 12th, 1870.
'My dear Fr. Whitty,—Thank you for your letter, which I was very glad to have. I will write to you as frankly as you have written to me; and tho' the letter is "confidential," still you are the judge, should you wish to extend that confidence beyond yourself.

'One can but go by one's best light. Whoever is infallible, I am not; but I am bound to argue out the matter and to act as if I were, till the Council decides; and then, if God's Infallibility is against me, to submit at once, still not repenting of having taken the part which I felt to be right, any more than a lawyer in Court may repent of believing in a cause and advocating a point of law, which the Bench of Judges ultimately give against him. We can but do our best. {296}

'Well, then, my thesis is this:—you are going too fast at Rome;—on this I shall insist.

'It is enough for one Pope to have passed one doctrine (on the Immac. Concept.) into the list of dogmata. We do not move at railroad pace in theological matters, even in the 19th century. We must be patient, and that for two reasons:—first, in order to get at the truth ourselves, and next in order to carry others with us.

'1. The Church moves as a whole; it is not a mere philosophy, it is a communion; it not only discovers, but it teaches; it is bound to consult for charity as well as for faith. You must prepare men's minds for the doctrine, and you must not flout and insult the existing tradition of countries. The tradition of Ireland, the tradition of England, is not on the side of Papal Infallibility. You know how recent Ultramontane views are in both countries; so too of France; so of Germany. The time may come when it will be seen how those traditions are compatible with additions, that is, with true developments, which those traditions indeed in themselves do not explicitly teach; but you have no right rudely to wipe out the history of centuries, and to substitute a bran new view of the doctrine imported from Rome and the South. Think how slowly and cautiously you proceeded in the definition of the Immac. Concept., how many steps were made, how many centuries passed, before the dogma was ripe;—we are not ripe yet for the Pope's Infallibility. Hardly anyone even murmured at the act of 1854; half the Catholic world is in a fright at the proposed act of 1870.

'When indeed I think of the contrast presented to us by what is done now and what was done then, and what, as I have said, ought always to be done, I declare, unless I were too old to be angry, I should be very angry. The Bull convening the Council was issued with its definite objects stated, dogma being only slightly mentioned as among those objects, but not a word about the Pope's Infallibility. Through the interval, up to the meeting of the Council, not a word was said to enlighten the Bishops as to what they were to meet about. The Irish Bishops, as I heard at the time, felt surprised at this; so did all, I doubt not. Many or most had thought they were to meet to set right the Canon Law. Then suddenly, just as they are meeting, it is let out that the Pope's Infallibility is the great subject of definition, and the Civilità, and other well-informed prints, say that it is to be carried by acclamation! Then Archbishop Manning tells {297} (I believe) Mr. Odo Russell that, unless the opposition can cut the throats of 500 Bishops, the definition certainly will carried; and, moreover, that it has long been intended! Long intended, and yet kept secret! Is this the way the faithful ever were treated before? is this in any sort of sense going by tradition? On hearing this, my memory went back to an old saying, imputed to Monsignor Talbot, that what made the definition of the Immac. Concept. so desirable and important was that it opened the way to the definition of the Pope's Infallibility. Is it wonderful that we should all be shocked? For myself, after meditating on such crooked ways, I cannot help turning to Our Lord's terrible warning: "Væ mundo a scandalis! Quisquis scandalizaverit unum ex his pusillis credentibus in me, bonum est ei magis si circumdaretur mola asinaria collo ejus, et in mare mitteretur."

'2. I say then you must take your time about a definition de fide, for the sake of charity;—and now I say so again for the sake of truth; for the very same caution, which is necessary for the sake of others, is surely the divinely appointed human means of an infallible decision. Consider how carefully the Immaculate Conception was worked out. Those two words have been analysed, examined in their parts, and then carefully explained;—the declarations and the intentions of Fathers, Popes, and ecclesiastical writers on the point have been clearly made out. It was this process that brought Catholic Schools into union about it, while it secured the accuracy of each. Each had its own extreme points eliminated, and they became one, because the truth to which they converged was one. But now what is done as regards the seriously practical doctrine at present in discussion? What we require, first of all, and it is a work of years, is a careful consideration of the acts of Councils, the deeds of Popes, the Bullarium. We need to try the doctrine by facts, to see what it may mean, what it cannot mean, what it must mean. We must try its future working by the past. And we need that this should be done in the face of day, in course, in quiet, in various schools and centres of thought, in controversy. This is a work of years. This is the true way in which those who differ sift out the truth. On the other hand, what do we actually see? Suddenly one or two works made to order—(excuse me, I must speak out). Fr. Botalla writes a book—and, when he finds a layman like Renouf speaks intemperately, then, instead of {298} setting him an example of cool and careful investigation, he speaks intemperately too, and answers him sharply, some say angrily. "Non tali auxilio, nec defensoribus istis!" Is this the way to gain a blessing on a most momentous undertaking?

'3. One word more. To outsiders like me it would seem as if a grave dogmatic question was being treated merely as move in ecclesiastical politics. Indeed, what you say about its relation to the Syllabus justifies me in so thinking. So grave a doctrine is but an accidental means to an object of the particular year, 1864! a dogma is, so to say, dated, as St. Athanasius says of the Arian creeds. I say "an accidental means," for you surmise that, if the Syllabus had not been negative in its form, the definition of the Pope's Infallibility would not have been needed at present. I could say much, not about the Syllabus, but on the unworthy way in which it has been treated by its professed champions. But let us allow that it is right to sink the solemn character of a dogma in a question of ecclesiastical expedience; regnante Pio nono:—next, if so, I naturally ask whether such a degradation answers its purpose. Am I bound to take my view of expedience from what is thought expedient at Rome? May I not judge about expedience for Catholics in England by what we see in England? Now the effect upon the English people of the very attempt at definition hitherto does but confirm one's worst apprehensions about it, for 1st. the ministry is decidedly pro-Catholic. Gladstone would help the Irish Catholic University if he could, but he has been obliged to declare in the House that what is going on in Rome ties his hands. And 2ndly Mr. Newdegate has gained his Committee to inquire into conventual establishments and their property. These are the first fruits in England of even the very agitation of this great anticipated expedient for strengthening the Church. That agitation falls upon an existing anti-Catholic agitation spreading through the English mind. Murphy is still lecturing against priests and convents, and gaining over the classes who are now the ultimate depository of political power, the constituency for Parliamentary elections. And we, where we are bound, if we can, to soothe the deep prejudices and feverish suspicions of the nation, we on the contrary are to be forced, by measures determined on at Rome, to blow upon this troubled sea with all the winds of Æolus, when Neptune ought to raise his "placidum caput" above the waves. This is what we need at least in England. And for England, of course, I speak. {299}

'Excuse my freedom. I do not forget your two passages. Say everything kind for me to your Bishop, unless he has returned home. I wrote to him a day or two ago. You may open the letter if he is away. 'Ever yours affly.

Newman made no secret of his views, in writing, not only to intimate friends, but to occasional correspondents. Mr. O'Neill Daunt had asked his advice concerning a lady friend whose faith was greatly tried by the prospect of the definition, and he thus replied:

'The Oratory: June 27th, 1870.
'As to the subject of your letter, I certainly think this agitation of the Pope's Infallibility most unfortunate and ill-advised, and I shall think so even if the Council decrees it, unless I am obliged to believe that the Holy Ghost protects the Fathers from all inexpedient acts, (which I do not see is anywhere promised) as well as guides them into all the truth, as He certainly does. There are truths which are inexpedient.

'As to your question, however, I think first that there is such a thing as a "needless alarm." Do you recollect Cowper's poem with that title? I often think of it and quote it, and especially lately, since this agitation has commenced. Your friend should not take it for granted that the Infallibility of the Pope will be carried. I am not at all sure it will. For myself, I refuse to believe that it can be carried, till it actually is. I think the great Doctors of the Church will save us from a dogma which they did not hold themselves.

'Next, if anything is passed, it will be in so mild a form, as practically to mean little or nothing. There is a report, which you probably can substantiate better than I, that Cardinal Cullen said, when he was in Dublin, at Easter, that "he thought the Pope would never be able to use the dogma, in the shape it was to be passed."

'Lastly, is your friend sure she understands the dogma, even as Ultramontanes hold it? I very much doubt if she does. She should look carefully to this. The Pope did not force on us the Immaculate Conception. The whole Christendom wished it.' [Note 3]

Meanwhile the deliberations of the Council proceeded. {300} One party pleaded for whole-hearted loyalty to the Pontiff. The other urged such caution as the true interests of the Church and respect for its traditions demanded. The contest was intensified, and the struggle of motives complicated, by the simple and noble character of Pius IX. and the charm his presence. In the graphic journal of Mr. Thomas Mozley, intensely prejudiced as he was against the infallibilists, we see that the appearance of Pio Nono ever touches his imagination and his heart. The very tones of his voice were inspiring. 'Whenever the Pope himself,' he writes, after one of the Church functions at which he was present, 'had either to intone or to give the first notes of the grand sacramental hymns, his peculiarly cheery voice rang through the whole church and woke a response from everybody within reach of it. The reverence he aroused was so universal and hearty that I could almost have fancied that there was a touch of mirth in it.' The gracious presence of the Pontiff, his simple faith, conquered wherever he went. His jokes were in everyone's mouth. Those who regarded the promoters of the definition as fanatics of the deepest dye could not but undergo a revulsion of feeling when they met the man who was in their eyes the head of the party. Even the zeal of his most loyal followers would touch his sense of humour: and when, after the definition was passed, many of the Bishops who had voted for it stayed on week after week, living at the Pope's expense, to rejoice over their victory, the Pontiff was both amused and somewhat tried at this drain on his exchequer. With the usual pinch of snuff and a twinkle in his eye, he is said to have remarked, 'Questi infallibilisti mi faranno fallire.' To behold the Pope pray was, it used to be said, to watch one who himself saw that world which others know only by faith. Such was the man who in person made the appeal to his Bishops to be loyal to God's Vicar and to despise the opinion of the world. And he treated half-heartedness as to the definition as simply and solely worldliness. It is hard to conceive a greater trial, of its kind, than such men as Dr. Moriarty and Mgr. Dupanloup had to undergo in resisting such appeals, and appearing to the Pontiff they so deeply loved and reverenced to fail in their loyalty to him in his time of trouble. {301}

I may cite one out of many pictures Mr. Mozley has left of the activity and zeal of the great Pontiff at this time:

'The day reminds me once more of the enormous amount of work expected from a Pope, and done diligently, faithfully, and cheerfully by this old man in his seventy-eighth year. Yesterday he paid a long visit to the Exposition, talking with the exhibitors, and having his jokes with all about him. He has to give interviews to all these seven hundred bishops, and, as the enemy says, to put a strong pressure on all who are recommended to him for the application of the supreme torture. A great deal has been said about his visits to the aged and invalid bishops lodged and nursed in the canonical apartments attached to St. Peter's ...

'Other bishops, who have been disposed, or compelled by circumstances, to adopt a neutral or a moderate line in the Council, have found themselves sorely tried in a personal interview. They find it vain to declare their devotion or their sincerity. His Holiness tells them plainly they are not on his side; they are among his enemies; they are damaging the good cause; their loyalty is not sound. It is enough that they have signed what they should not, or not signed what they ought. On the Roman system there is nothing wonderful in this personal interference of the Head of the Church. What I most marvel at is that it is all done by this old man, and that it is done with a success which provokes the indignation of those who conceive their cause hurt by it.'

Newman, though at a distance from Rome, realised to the full the charm of the Pontiff with whose policy he could not concur. Pius IX. had ever touched his heart in their intercourse. He was wont to ascribe to his character and presence much of the abatement among his countrymen of anti-Catholic prejudice—and this in spite of the fact that Pio Nono's recent line of action and his insistence on the Papal prerogatives were calculated greatly to increase rather than to diminish the bigotry of our countrymen. The man himself had that in him which was quite irresistible.

'No one could, both by his words and deeds, offend [Englishmen] more,' Newman wrote of him after his death. 'He claimed, he exercised, larger powers than any other Pope ever did; he committed himself to ecclesiastical acts bolder than those of any other Pope; his secular policy {302} was especially distasteful to Englishmen; he had some near him who put into print just that kind of gossip concerning him which would put an Englishman's teeth on edge; lastly, he it was who, in the very beginning of his reign, was the author of the very measure which raised such a commotion among us; yet his personal presence was of a kind that no one could withstand. I believe one special cause of the abatement of the animosity felt towards us by our countrymen was the series of tableaux, as I may call them, brought before them in the newspapers, of his receptions of visitors in the Vatican.

'His misfortunes indeed had something to do with his popularity. The whole world felt that he was shamefully used as regards his temporal possessions; no foreign power had any right to seize upon his palaces, churches, and other possessions, and the injustice showed him created a wide interest in him; but the main cause of his popularity was the magic of his presence, which was such as to dissipate and utterly destroy the fog out of which the image of a Pope looms to the ordinary Englishman. His uncompromising faith, his courage, the graceful intermingling in him of the human and the divine, the humour, the wit, the playfulness with which he tempered his severity, his naturalness, and then his true eloquence, and the resources he had at command for meeting with appropriate words the circumstances of the moment, overcame those who were least likely to be overcome. A friend of mine, a Protestant, a man of practised intellect and mature mind, told me to my surprise that, at one of the Pope's receptions at the Vatican, he was so touched by the discourse made by His Holiness to his visitors, that he burst into tears. And this was the experience of hundreds; how could they think ill of him or of his children when his very look and voice were so ethical, so eloquent, so persuasive?' [Note 4]

It was doubtless largely the feeling which Pius IX. inspired which made the inopportunist Bishops decline to record their votes against the decree of Infallibility at the final public session held in the Pope's presence. At the General Congregation of July 13, at which the definition was informally passed, eighty-eight Bishops voted non placet, and sixty-two placet juxta modum (that is, were in favour of modifications in the definition). They then left Rome after addressing to the Pontiff the following letter: {303}

'Most Blessed Father,—In the General Congregation held on the 13th inst. we gave our votes on the Schemata of the first Dogmatic Constitution concerning the Church of Christ.

'Your Holiness is aware that 88 Fathers, urged by conscience and love of Holy Church, gave their vote in the words "non placet"; 62 in the words "placet juxta modum"; finally about 70 were absent and gave no vote.

'Others returned to their dioceses on account of illness or more serious reasons.

'Thus our votes are known to your Holiness and manifest to the whole world, and it is notorious how many bishops agree with us, and with the manner in which we have discharged the office and duty laid upon us.

'Nothing has happened since to change our opinion, nay rather there have been many and very serious events of a nature to confirm us in it.

'We therefore declare that we renew and confirm the votes already given.

'Confirming therefore our votes by this present document, we have decided to ask leave of absence from the public session on the 18th inst.

'For the filial piety and reverence which very recently brought our representatives to the feet of your Holiness do not allow us in a cause so closely concerning your Holiness to say "non placet" openly and to the face of the Father.

'Moreover, the votes to be given in Solemn Session would only repeat those already delivered in General Congregation. We return, therefore, without delay to our flocks, to whom, after so long an absence, the apprehensions of war and their most urgent spiritual wants render us necessary to the utmost of our power, grieving as we do, that in the present gloomy state of public affairs we shall find the faithful troubled in conscience and no longer at peace with one another.

'Meanwhile, with our whole heart, we commend the Church of God and your Holiness, to whom we avow our unaltered faith and obedience, to the grace and protection of our Lord Jesus Christ, and are your
'Most devoted and obedient.'

The appointed day arrived—July 18—and the definition was solemnly passed in presence of the Pontiff. Mr. Mozley, who was a witness of the scene, has left a graphic account of it [Note 5]: {304}

'Let me begin with the vigil of the fête. It thundered and lightened all night, and it rained in the morning. When I went down to St. Peter's on December 8 last, the very doors of Heaven seemed to have been opened, and we were nearly washed out of our carriages. Yesterday, too, instead of a bright Roman sky and brilliant, burning sun, we had what may be called the storm of the season. Thus, the opening and the closing of the Council—the closing, at least, for the present—were marked by a violent revolution of the elements. The doors were not opened before half past 7 o'clock, and as I drove down at that hour the streets were comparatively empty. A solitary cab or two were rambling in the same direction—a few priests and students were hurrying on through the rain, and the gallant Guards, who let us pass unheeded, sat indolently on their horses, having no occasion to make a display ...

'A double line of troops was soon formed, and between them, steadily or jauntily as the case might be, walked the Fathers, each going to the Hall, and taking his seat as he arrived. The laity, for whom all the blessings of the day were specially designed, looked over the shoulders of the soldiers to observe the bishops ... Many of the seats of the Fathers were vacant, certainly nearly 250, 130 or 140 prelates having absented themselves only for the day ...

'His Holiness, I am told by his friends, on entering, felt agitated, and trembled when he knelt to say his prayers, but this passed off, his voice was as firm and as clear as I have ever heard it, and his appearance became bright and cheerful. The Mass was short, giving promise of an early closing, and then came those beautiful hymns of the Roman Catholic Church, sung at intervals, and never sung more effectively. First the Litany of the Saints was chanted by the choir, taken up by the Fathers, and carried as it were out of the Hall until it was lifted on high by the swelling voices of several thousands of persons who clustered round the tomb of St. Peter. So it was with the Veni Creator. Apart from the essentially sweet and plaintive character of the music, the body of sound satisfied all one's desires, giving the assurance of something like sincerity and depth of feeling.

'Now there was a lull, broken at last by the shrill voice of the Secretary reading the Dogma. The real business of the day had commenced, and the crowd about the door and around the baldacchino became more dense ... The reading of the Dogma was followed by the roll-call of the Fathers, {305} and Placet after Placet followed, though not in very quick succession. They were uttered in louder and bolder tones than on former occasions, either that the echo was greater from the comparative emptiness of the church or that the Fathers were pleased at being shorn, and amid their utterances there was a loud peal of thunder.

'The storm which had been threatening all the morning burst now with the utmost violence, and to many a superstitious mind might have conveyed the idea that it was the expression of Divine wrath, as "no doubt it will be interpreted by numbers," said one officer of the Palatine Guard. And so the Placets of the Fathers struggled through the storm, while the thunder pealed above and the lightning flashed in at every window and down through the dome and every smaller cupola, dividing if not absorbing the attention of the crowd. Placet, shouted his Eminence or his Grace, and a loud clap of thunder followed in response, and then the lightning darted about the baldacchino and every part of the church and Conciliar Hall, as if announcing the response. So it continued for nearly one hour and a half, during which time the roll was being called, and a more effective scene I never witnessed. Had all the decorators and all the getters-up of ceremonies in Rome been employed, nothing approaching to the solemn splendour of that storm could have been prepared, and never will those who saw it and felt it forget the promulgation of the first Dogma of the Church.

'The façade of the Hall had not been removed as on former occasions, only the great door was opened, so that it could be scarcely called an open Session, and people could get a glimpse of what was going on only by struggling fiercely and peering over one another's shoulders, or by standing at a distance and looking through a glass. I chose this last and better part. The storm was at its height when the result of the voting was taken up to the Pope, and the darkness was so thick that a huge taper was necessarily brought and placed by his side as he read the words, "Nosque, sacro approbante Concillo, illa ita decernimus, statuimus atque sancimus ut lecta sunt." And again the lightning flickered around the Hall, and the thunder pealed.

'I was standing at this moment in the south transept trying to penetrate the darkness which surrounded the Pope, when the sound as of a mighty rushing something, I could not tell what, caused me to start violently, and look about me and above me. It might be a storm of hail. Such for {306} an instant was my impression; and it grew and swelled, and then the whole mystery was revealed by a cloud of white handkerchiefs waving before me. The signal had been given by the Fathers themselves with clapping of hands. This was my imaginary hailstorm; and it was taken up by the crowd outside the Hall, and so the storm grew in violence until at length it came to where I stood; Viva il Papa Infallibile! Viva il trionfo dei Cattolici! shouted the zealots ... But again the storm rose with greater violence than before, and I thought that, according to English custom, we were to have three times three.

'The Te Deum and the Benedictions, however, put a stop to it; the entire crowd fell on their knees as I have never seen a crowd do before in St. Peter's, and the Pope blessed them in those clear sweet tones distinguishable among a thousand. A third and fainter attempt was made to get up another cheer, but it died away, and then priests, priestlings, monks and holy women, rushed down the nave to get, perchance, another peep at the Pope as he passed though the chapels, but the doors were closed.

'Thus closed the Session of the Ecumenical Vatican Council for the present, not prorogued nor suspended, to meet again on November 11.'

The arguments of the Bishops of the minority had one all-important result. In the proceedings of the Council published in the seventh volume of the Jesuit 'Collectio Lacensis' we see that they pressed for words absolutely precluding the view of extremists, that Papal Infallibility meant a direct revelation to the Pope, or endowed him with such absolute power as to warrant his dispensing with intercourse with the Church in its exercise. A historical introduction to the definition was accordingly written by the learned theologians, Fathers Franzelin and Kleutgen.

It was to show 'in what manner the Roman Pontiffs had ever been accustomed to exercise the magisterium of faith in the Church,' and to prevent the fear lest 'the Roman Pontiff could proceed (procedere possit) in judging of matters of faith without counsel, deliberation, and the use of scientific means.' This introduction formed the basis of what was ultimately passed at the public session of the Fathers on July 18, although the text of Franzelin and Kleutgen was not entirely approved. {307}

The same point was emphasised again in one of the annotations to the first draft of the new formula, proposed on June 8, which formed the basis of further modifications. 'It seemed useful,' we read in this annotation, 'to insert in the Chapter some things adapted to the right understanding of the dogma, namely, that the Supreme Pontiff does not perform his duty as teacher without intercourse and union (sine commercio et unione) with the Church.' [Note 6]

In the historical introduction, as finally published, the safeguard urged as necessary in this connection was thus expressed: 'The Roman Pontiffs, as the state of things and times has made advisable, at one time calling Ecumenical Councils or finding out the opinion of the Church dispersed through the world, at another by means of particular Synods, at another using other means of assistance which Divine Providence supplied, have defined those things to be held which by God's aid they had known to be in agreement with sacred Scripture and the Apostolic traditions, for the Holy Ghost was promised to the successors of Peter, not that by His revelation they should disclose new doctrines, but that by His assistentia they might preserve inviolate, and expound faithfully, the revelation or deposit of faith handed down by the Apostles.'

The exaggerations of M. Veuillot were thus definitely rejected by the Fathers. But Newman did not at first know this, and, having latterly despaired of a moderate definition, he had fixed his hopes on the dogma not being defined at all. A definition corresponding to the views set forth in M. Veulilot's writings, or Cardinal Antonelli's reported explanations, was unthinkable as an obligatory dogmatic formula. He would not, he said, believe that the definition would be made until it was un fait accompli. When the news first reached him that it had been passed, with no particulars as to its scope, the blow was, as those who knew him best have told the present writer, a stunning one. But when he saw its actual text Newman's fears were allayed. 'I saw the new definition yesterday,' he wrote to a friend, 'and am pleased at its moderation,—that is, if the doctrine in question is to be defined at all.' {308}

So far, indeed, as doctrine was concerned, as he said to many correspondents, no more was defined than he himself had always held. The old Ultramontanism of which Archbishop Sibour and Montalembert had been staunch defenders became a doctrine of faith. The Ultramontanism of the Univers received no countenance in the text of the definition.

Nevertheless, as careful readers of the 'Letter to the Duke of Norfolk' already know, Newman did not regard the truth of the doctrine defined as being by any means the sole question at issue. The tendency towards excessive centralisation which he deplored was not a matter of doctrine, but of policy. And his letters show that he had great anxiety lest the passing of the definition should actually increase this tendency. Moreover, his indignation against some of the leading promoters of the decree was in no way abated. In the very month in which the definition was passed—on July 27—he wrote thus to Sister Maria Pia:

'Our good God is trying all of us with disappointment and sorrow just now; I allude to what has taken place at Rome—who of us would not have rejoiced if the Fathers of the Council had one and all felt it their duty to assent to the Infallibility of the Holy Father—? but a gloom falls upon one, when it is decreed with so very large a number of dissentient voices. It looks as if our Great Lord were in some way displeased at us. Indeed the look of public matters generally is very threatening, and we need the prayers of all holy souls and all good nuns to avert the evils which seem coming upon the earth.'

Though accepting the definition at once himself, he did not at first feel justified in speaking of it publicly as de fide until the Council should be terminated. He wrote to Mrs. Froude as follows on August 8:

'It is too soon to give an opinion about the definition. I want to know what the Bishops of the minority say on the subject, and what they mean to do. As I have ever believed as much as the definition says, I have a difficulty in putting myself into the position of mind of those who have not. As far as I see, no one is bound to believe it at this moment, certainly not till the end of the Council. This I hold in spite of Dr. Manning. At the same time, since the Pope has pronounced the definition, I think it safer to accept it at {309} once. I very much doubt if at this moment—before the end of the Council, I could get myself publicly to say it was de fide, whatever came of it—though I believe the doctrine itself.

'I think it is not usual, to promulgate a dogma till the end of a Council, as far as I know—and next, this has been carried under such very special circumstances. I look for the Council to right itself in some way before it ends. It looks like a house divided against itself, which is a great scandal.

'And now you have my whole mind. I rule my own conduct by what is safer, which in matters of faith is a true principle of theology,—but (as at present advised, in my present state of knowledge or ignorance, till there are further acts of the Church) I cannot pronounce categorically that the doctrine is de fide.
'Ever yours affectionately,
JOHN H. NEWMAN.' [Note 7]

'P.S.—You need not believe anything more personal or inherent in the Pope than you say.

'P.S.—[on another sheet] My postscript to the first sheet is hardly intelligible.

'The Pope is infallible in actu, not in habitu—in his particular pronouncements ex Cathedra, not in his state of illumination, as an Apostle might be, which would be inspiration. I am told some wicked men, not content with their hitherto cruel conduct, are trying to bring in this doctrine of inherent infallibility, of which there is not a hint in the definition. Perhaps they would like to go on to call him a Vice-God, as some one actually did, or sole God to us. Unless my informant was mad, I heard lately of some one (English or Irish) who said that now we ought not to pray to God at all, but only to the Blessed Virgin—God preserve us, if we have such madmen among us, with their lighted brands.'

The evil consequences which he feared from the definition were two. It is true that the dogma professed to declare that theoretically the Papacy had received no addition of power. The infallibility ascribed to Pius IX. in his ex cathedra utterances had belonged also to St. Peter and St. Gregory the Great. Yet the act of the Council would be likely, he {310} feared in the first place, to lead in practice to increased centralisation,—to the predominance of the new Ultramontanism of M. Louis Veulliot and W. G. Ward. In the second place, he felt that in this case, as with the decree on Inspiration, the difficulties which had to be met had not been adequately anticipated, owing partly to the rapidity and secrecy of the proceedings of the Council, and that the argumentative position of Catholic apologists would be in consequence for the time greatly embarrassed.

That evil results should follow on valid and true definitions, however, was no novelty in Church history. Confusion had followed former Councils, and might well follow the Vatican Council.

Newman's view as to the danger of increased centralisation is shown in the following letter to Mr. O'Neill Daunt, who had written for further advice respecting the friend already referred to whose faith in the Church had been shaken:

'The Oratory: August 7th, 1870.
'My dear Mr. Daunt,—I agree with you that the wording of the Dogma has nothing very difficult in it. It expresses what, as an opinion, I have ever held myself with a host of other Catholics. But that does not reconcile me to imposing it upon others, and I do not see why a man who denied it might not be as good a Catholic as the man who held it [Note 8]. And it is a new and most serious precedent in the Church that a dogma de fide should be passed without definite and urgent cause. This to my mind is the serious part of the matter. You put an enormous power into the hands of one man, without check, and at the very time, by your act, you declare that he may use it without special occasion.

'However, God will provide. We must recollect, there has seldom been a Council without great confusion after it,—so it was even with the first,—so it was with third, fourth, and fifth,—and [the] sixth which condemned Pope Honorius. The difference between those instances and this being, that now we have brought it on ourselves without visible necessity.

'The great difficulty in the painful case you write about is, that when the imagination gets excited on a point, it is {311} next to impossible by any show of arguments, however sound, to meet the evil. I think it may safely be said to your friend, that the greater part of the Church has long thought that the Pope has the power which he and the Bishops of the majority have declared is his; and that, if the Church is the work and ordinance of God, we must have a little faith in Him and be assured that He will provide that there is no abuse of the Pope's power. Your friend must not assume, before the event, that his power will be abused. Perhaps you ought not to urge her too strongly,—if left to herself, your reasons may tell on her after a while, though they seem to fail at the moment.
'Most sincerely yours,

The second evil consequence which Newman feared from the definition is referred to in a letter written two years later to Dr. Northcote. Dr. Northcote had reopened the discussion of the possibility of a Catholic College at Oxford. Newman now questioned its practicability. The Vatican Council had by its decrees on Scripture and on Papal Infallibility raised, he held, a new platform of dogma which could not be defended until theologians had worked out a coherent view on their relations with contemporary controversy. Previously to the Council, though he had wished rather for an Oratory than for a College as the centre of Catholic influence on the University, he had desired some centre of influence. Now he considered its desirableness for the time very doubtful.

'Though I could not advocate,' he wrote on April 7, 1872, 'hitherto I should have been quite able to acquiesce in any plan for a Catholic College at Oxford, and that, on the reasons you so lucidly and powerfully draw out. I should have been able till lately, but I confess I am in great doubt just now.

'And for this reason:—the antagonism between the Catholic Church and Oxford has become far more direct and intense during the last two years. From all I read and hear it seems to me that the Anglican Church and the University are almost or quite in a whirlpool of unbelief, even if they be as yet at some distance from the gulf and its abyss. On the other hand there are the decrees of the Vatican Council. {312}

'The two main instruments of infidelity just now are physical science and history; physical science is used against Scripture, and history against dogma; the Vatican Council by its decrees about the inspiration of Scripture and the Infallibility of the Pope has simply thrown down the gauntlet to the science and the historical research of the day.

'You will understand what I mean without my giving instances. The instance which has last come before me is Professor Owen's attack on the Bishop of Ely in the February Number of Fraser.

'In former times it was by the collision of Catholic intellect with Catholic intellect that the meaning and the limit of dogmatic decrees were determined; but there has been no intellectual scrutiny, no controversies as yet over the Vatican definitions, and their sense will have to be wrought out not in friendly controversy, but in a mortal fight at Oxford, in the presence of Catholics and Protestants, between Protestant Professors and Tutors and a Catholic College. I do not see how this conflict is to be avoided if we go to Oxford. Ought we to go before we are armed? Till two years ago, Trent was the last Council—and our theologians during a long 300 years had prepared us for the fight—now we are new born children, the birth of the Vatican Council, and we are going to war without strength and without arms. We do not know what exactly we hold—what we may grant, what we must maintain. A man who historically defends the Pope's infallibility must almost originate a polemic—can he do so, as being an individual, without many mistakes? but he makes them on the stage of a great theatre.' [Note 9]

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1. It is to be observed that in writing to Anglican friends he emphasised the good which the Council was likely to effect. He wrote thus to J. R. Bloxam:

'The Oratory: Feb. 22, 1870.
'My dear Bloxam,—My best thanks for your very affectionate letter. I shall rejoice to find you in this neighbourhood, and I hope it will be when the leaves are out that I may show you our Retreat at Rednal, as you have shown me yours at Beeding. There is but one drawback. I wish you could obliterate it, that at length, at length Birnam Wood would come to Dunsinane.

'As to this Council, about facts, I know little more than you do, but as to my expectations, I think untold good will come of it—first, as is obvious, in bringing into personal acquaintance men from the most distant parts. The moral power of the Church (of Rome) will be almost squared by this fact alone—next each part will know the state of things in other parts of Christendom; and the minds of all the Prelates will be enlarged as well as their hearts. They will learn sympathy and reliance on each other. Further, the authorities at Rome will learn a great deal which they did not know of, and since the Italian apprehension is most imaginative and vivid, this will be a wonderful gain. It must have a great influence on the election of the next Pope, when that takes place. Then further the religious influence of so great an occasion, of so rare and wonderful a situation, of such a realization of things unseen, must, through God's mercy, leave a permanent deep impression on the minds of all assembled. Nor can I believe that so awful a visitation, in the supernatural order, as a renewal of the day of Pentecost, when it is granted to them, will not make them all new men for the rest of their lives.

'They have come to Rome with antagonistic feelings, they will depart in the peace of God. I don't think much will come of the movement for Papal Infallibility, though something very mild may be passed.
Ever yours affectionately,
(Signed) JOHN H. NEWMAN.

'P.S. You must not suppose from anything I have said that I do not sympathize with the Bishop of Orleans; for I do.'
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2. 'The text of Dupanloup's remarks is given in W. G. Ward and the Catholic Revival, pp. 256 seq.
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3. In the Appendix, at pp. 552 seq., will be found some further letters illustrating Newman's state of mind during the months preceding the definition of Papal Infallibility, and one letter on the fall of Louis Napoleon in August 1870.
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4. Addresses by Cardinal Newman (Longmans), p. 242.
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5. I omit Mr. Mozley's unsympathetic reflections, as my object is only to give his picture of the scene. (See Mozley's Letters from Rome. Longmans.)
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6. See W. G. Ward and the Catholic Revival, pp. 435-36.
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7. Substantially the same view is expressed in the letter cited in the Letter to the Duke of Norfolk (see Difficulties of Anglicans, vol. ii. p. 303).
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8. This opinion he changed after it became clear that the minority would take no concerted action.—See Letter to the Duke of Norfolk, p. 305.
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9. Two more letters on this subject will be found in the Appendix at p. 554.
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Newman Reader — Works of John Henry Newman
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