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heaven and earth; the sun and moon; Adam and Eve; the soul and
The Council of Trent, it may be said justly, and not Luther, destroyed the Church. And yet for three centuries this Council has been the Magna Charta of Roman Catholicism, from whose conclusions no orthodox theologian could or dare dissent. And just for that reason it is also the charter of the division of the Church and the German nation, and therefore it is to-day the chief cause of the continuation of that injurious separation. All the efforts at recon
ciliation on the part of the most learned and thoughtful men are foundered on this rock which Rome has erected as a bulwark of the Catholic Church, by which Bible and Fathers are to be interpreted, and all men and nations guided. And on this rock all such efforts at reconciliation in the future will be wrecked, so long as Trent is to be the rule of faith for Catholics, and so long as they continue in the unscientific and unchristian imagination that the world, to use a proverbial expression, is there nailed up with boards. And so it is; but it is only a wall of boards which must be dashed to pieces by genuine Catholicism, to which Christianity, fatherland, and freedom of science are of more value than a dead system of human dogmas, which had their origin in the lust for power. No lighthouse illumining the night shall thereby be destroyed, but only a brittle, frail building which obstructs the view, and intercepts the currents of air. Catholicism thereby will lose nothing in its relation to Protestantism. One reproach less will be made against Protestantism, and one which is certainly no reproach—that of departing from the symbols of the Reformation. But this is no real apostacy, and Protestantism, I am sure, will never reproach Catholicism with departing from Trent. It is only the renunciation of an unchristian clinging to the word of man; the recognition of the necessity of an incessant and uninterrupted striving after a purer conception of the truth, in accordance with that continually advancing education of men which is carried on under the invisible guidance of the all-embracing Spirit of God. There is not to-day in Germany a single Protestant theologian who acknowledges the absolute authority of the symbolic books. This is true Christian progress, and must be imitated by German Catholicism in regard to the decrees of Trent. This is the course for the Catholic Church of Germany if it wishes to break with Ultramontanism, and to work at once for the true interests of Christianity and of fatherland.
The doctrine of Trent greatly needs revision. 'Allowance must be made for the general condition of education at that time, and the political circumstances of the world. The Council had its origin in a spirit of opposition and avowed defiance, besides hostility to German Protestantism. Its decisions were not the result of undisturbed scientific reflection, nor the expression of the mind of the Christian community. They were due to the spirit of a party in a higher degree than the older Protestant Confessions, which had at least the German spirit, and sought to preserve the unity of the Church. The same cannot be said of the decrees of Trent. Moreover, the Tridentine Fathers did not understand the Protestant doctrine of that time. They distorted it sadly, as may be seen from what we have already said of their representation of the Protestant doctrine concerning good works, the necessity of which Protestants were reproached with
denying. The Council regarded Protestantism as a heresy like one of the heresies of the Middle Ages, which had found its expression in their day with Luther as formerly it had done with Huss in Bohemia. That it was a war of principles no one ever dreamed.
At the conclusion of the Council the great majority of the members were conscious that Germany was lost to the Papacy, and they were content that it should be so. The proceedings of the Council had not been calculated to win German sympathies; on the contrary, the cause of the Reformation increased so rapidly that at the close of the Council not a tenth of the German people were Catholics. The Fathers of the Council did not see that they only had themselves to blame, and so they began to insult the Germans with still greater insolence. On November 22, 1562, it was said in a sermon: “How many princes, seduced by the evil beast, have left Rome and abandoned themselves to the venereal harlot who poisons all with the cup of her fornications !” On May 24, 1562, Petrus Fontidonius urged that the sentence of condemnation on Germany should be pronounced with all haste, “lest the German heretics, not a little afraid of this judgment, might disperse the Council, and so Christianity come to an end.” On March 14, 1563, the Spanish hermit, Christopher Sanctotisius, declares that the Germans, beyond all doubt, would fall into the slavery of the “ Turks because of their apostacy from the Pope, in the same way as the Greeks had done." This the Fathers would have liked for their own justification. There was less said about giving assistance than there had been in relation to the Greeks. But should the Turks fail to subdue the Germans, there was yet hope. On November 11, 1563, the Bishop of Atrebate said in a speech : “Yet surely there will be found in the camp of David brave men of rare and uncommon virtue and of excellent knowledge, who with the greatest success can demolish the citadel of the Jebusites with the lame and the blind, that is to say, all the hiding-places of the heretics." These brave and well-armed men were the Jesuits, who had just made their appearance. They took upon themselves the warfare against Protestants and all reasonable Catholics, and they have continued the conflict for three hundred years. At the present hour they are fighting the last and most determined battle against all modern, especially all German, culture. The entire Episcopate has fettered its hands by a unanimous and perfectly unlimited submission by oath to Trent. But how many of these gentlemen have ever studied the inner history and the character of this Council ? Such a study is very dangerous for a believing Catholic. All the literature concerning Trent, about fifty works, is on the Roman “Index,” with the sole exception of the work of Pallavicini, from whom sincere criticism is not to be expected. Yet at the present time there is a great want of a "genuine” history of this Council, as
was even recently said by a Roman theologian.* The learned P. Theiner has for many years been collecting materials for this object. He has already collected enough for eight volumes, but, like his brother Oratorian, Calenzio, he confesses with the deepest regret that hitherto the devices of the Jesuits have frustrated the publication of his work. Can there be found in the whole history of the world another instance of a like secrecy in a matter which, from its nature and character, ought to have the greatest possible publicity ? In the territory of religion, more than any other, every man should be subject to examination. Every Catholic priest for the last three hundred years
has had to swear by this Council, and yet the Curia by every possible means keeps its history a secret. Dr. Döllinger, my much-esteemed master during his visit to Rome, pointed out publicly the necessity of publishing the original documents concerning the Council of Trent. But who is Döllinger compared with the gentlemen of the Curia ? His pamphlet went direct to the waste-paper basket. Regard for the religious conscience or for truth does not affect them. They simply want to rule; whatever opposes this will be suppressed, falsified, or destroyed. That it will be the same with the present Council is already evident. In the space allowed for an article in this Review it is only possible to bring forward a few prominent points, but I hope they are sufficient to enable sincere Catholics to form a right judgment concerning the spirit of the important Council of Trent.
* The Oratorian Calenzio, “ Exame delle opere sulla storia del concilio di Trento. Roma.” 1869. Prefaco, p. 11.
the two combatants who are now fighting out their tremendous duel on the soil of France, in measuring their obligations and their rights, and awarding, so far as we can, to each his own share of blame or acquittal, it is necessary at the outset to put aside all irrelevant and unessential considerations, and not to suffer either our sympathies, our wishes, or our fears to confuse our judicial perceptions of the truth. Personal sympathies and antipathies have nothing to say in questions of right and wrong. Personal hopes of good or dread of evil, whether national or individual, must not be permitted to distort, or suppress, or exaggerate indisputable facts. Neither the groans nor the anguish of the sufferer, nor even his irrelevant excellences, must blind us to his moral faults or his actual offences ; nor should the harsh severity of retributive justice, however unrelenting, tempt us to deny that it is justice after all. We may admit that, as individuals, the French are singularly agreeable, and often loveable, and the Prussians ungenial and hard. We may be more susceptible to cosmopolitan than to patriotic considerations; we may, like Jacoby and Garibaldi, feel our hearts beat at the mere dream of a Universal Republic, and regard foreign democrats as nearer and dearer than home monarchists or nobles; we may be essentially aristocratic and