The Present Crisis of the Holy See by Cardinal Manning
Four Lectures


OF THE congregation OF ST. PHILIP NERI

     About three years ago you kindly joined my name with your own in the dedication of your last volume of Sermons. Let me give a proof how grateful it was to me to be in any way united with you by asking you to let me join your name with mine in this unworthy return. But, as you know, xahkcea Xpvoelov is the old bargain.
     You were so kind as to own me as a friend of nearly thirty years; and that tells me that we are both touching upon the time of life when men may look back and measure the path they have trod. It is no small thing to have been in an active life of much eventfulness and labour for more than a quarter of a century, and for a full generation of man. With very few exceptions, all the men who held trust and power when our friendship began have passed away, and a new generation has been born and has grown up to manhood since we entered into life.
     Men are always tempted to think the times in which they live eventful and pregnant beyond other ages. But, allowing for this common infirmity, I think we shall not be far wrong in considering as exceptionally great the thirty years which, beginning with Catholic Emancipation, embrace the restoration of the Catholic Episcopate to England, and terminate with the antichristian movement of Europe against the Temporal Sovereignty of the Holy See. I may add, that to you and to me this period has another high and singular interest in the intellectual movement which sprung up chiefly at Oxford, and has made itself felt throughout our country and our times. You have been a master-builder in this work, and I a witness of its growth. You remained long in Oxford, still with all its disfigurements so dear to both of us; but I was removed to a distance, and had to work alone. Nevertheless, to you I owe a debt of gratitude for intellectual help and light, greater than to any one man of our time; and it gives me a sincere gratification now publicly to ac knowledge, though I can in no way repay, it. Among the many things which give a vivid and grave interest to this moment is the pronounced and explicit development on either side of the two great intellectual movements, the course of which we have watched so long. There was a time when those who now stand opposed as Catholics and Rationalists were apparently in close and perfect identity of conviction. But under the form of a common opinion there lay concealed, even then, the essential antagonism of two principles, the divergence of which is as wide as Divine faith or human opinion can inter pose between the minds of men.
     While every year has confirmed with luminous evidence the reasons which, to you and to me, elevated the convictions of intellect into the consciousness of faith, and has revealed to us the Divine unity and endowments of the only Church of God, some of those who were at our side, or sitting at your feet, have been carried back, as by a ground-swell, into Anglicanism, Protestantism, Latitudinarianism, and rationalistic Deism. While the Divine character and sovereignty of the One Church Catholic and Roman, with the prerogatives of the Vicar of the Incarnate Word, have manifested themselves to us in an amplitude and majesty which commands the loving obedience of intellect, and heart, and will, and all the powers of our life, others we once loved well have come to find their chief claim to statesmanship in a policy which, to me, is simply the prelude of Antichrist. The Italian policy of England is without any other name. And I am amazed that the great French people, so sensitive of English preeminence, so jealous of English influence, and so justly contemptuous of the absurdities of English Protestantism, should have allowed itself to be goaded or gibed into accomplishing a policy hateful to Catholic France, and surpassing all the hopes of Protestant  England. To strip the Holy See of its temporal sovereignty has been since Henry VIII. the passion of Protestant England; but it never dreamed of accomplishing its object of predilection by the hand of Catholic France. This is a surpassing achievement.
     I had hardly written this sentence when I read the debate in the House of Commons on the Foreign Policy of Government. I do not think either you or I are likely to be suspected as apologists for the Neapolitan prisons, if they are as bad as ours were a few years ago; or for la torture de Naples, if there be in it a particle of truth, which I more than doubt. You and I have no fear of being thought to be lovers of despotism, or absolutism, or even of repressive government. But I think we shall both judge it to be a melancholy spectacle when we see the House of Commons led away by declamations on these topics from the laws which have created Christian Europe, and all that is precious in the English constitution, to approve a policy subversive of European society. The law of nations, public rights, established treaties, and legitimate possession, are no doubt to the modern school of statesmen null and with out meaning. They are nevertheless the realities which bind society together; and they constitute the moral tests by which the justice of a cause is to be tried. The policy which violates them is immoral ; its end is public lawlessness, and its success will be its own punishment. Now I have no deeper conviction than that this anticatholic movement, led or stimulated by England, will have its perfect success, and will reign for a time supreme; and next that, perhaps before we are in our graves, all who have partaken in it—princes, statesmen, and people—will be scourged by a universal conflict with revolution, and a European war, to which 1793 and the wars of the first empire are a faint prelude. What shames and alarms me most is to see that men, who once believed in a higher order of Christian politics, now propagate against the Holy See the doctrine of nationality, and the lawfulness of revolution, which, if applied to England, would only fail to dismember the empire because it would be put down in blood. It seems as if men had lost their light. How otherwise can we explain the blindness which cannot see that the conflict of France and Austria has weakened the Catholic society of Europe, and has given to the Protestant politics of England and Prussia a most dangerous predominance? It will not be long before a European war will wear out and waste the powers of the Christian society, including Protestant and Catholic alike, and will give a fatal predominance to the antichristian society, or revolution, which is every where preparing for the last struggle, and for its supremacy. The Catholic society of Europe weakened, the Christian society will soon in turn give way. Then comes the scourge. The conviction Ifeel that a great retribution is impending over the anticatholic movement of England, France, and Italy, is rendered all the more certain by the fact  that the critical point in the whole conflict, the key of the whole, and the last success to be gained, is the dethronement of the Vicar of our Redeemer. The temporal power of the Pope, we are told, has been the great hindrance to the peace of Italy and Europe. It is this which distributes and marshals the two arrays. Qui mon mecum, contra me est. They will have their day, and the Vicar of Jesus Christ will await his time. Si moram fecerit, expecta illum ; quia veniens veniet, et non tardabit.
     Meanwhile England is preparing for its own dis solution. It has headed the unbelief of Europe, and it will be devoured by its own followers. The Re formation has done its work upon it. Protestantism, like the shirt of Nessus, cleaves to the flesh of Eng land, and its day will come at last. We are told that man has some eighty-three parasites which live upon his substance. The Anglican Church in like manner gives pabulum to every heresy, and harbours within its system what the living Church of God expels and casts out. At this moment in the Established Church there exists in a formal state Sabellianism, Pelagianism, Nestorianism, Calvinism, Lutheranism, Zuinglianism, Naturalism, and Rationalism. I pass over a multitude of other less
formal heresies, and name only these because they have a definite and active existence in the Establishment, and are reproducing themselves. It is the intrinsic enmity of this congeries of heresies which directs the political power of England against the Catholic Church, and, above all, against the Holy See; and gives to England the melancholy and bad preeminence of the most anticatholic, and therefore the most antichristian, power of the world.
     In the following pages I have endeavoured, but for so great a subject most insufficiently, to show that what is passing in our times is the prelude of the antichristian period of the final dethronement of Christendom, and of the restoration of society with out God in the world. But, sooner or later, so it must be. “The Son of Man indeed goeth, as it is written of Him; but woe to that man by whom the Son of Man shall be betrayed; it were better for him if that man had not been born” (St. Matt. xxvi. 24).
     May God keep us from sharing even by silence in the persecution of His Church

     Believe me, my dear Dr. Newman, always affectionately yours,
Easter 1861.
The Crisis of the Holy See


     I AM well aware that the truths and principles of Revelation have been, by the common consent of public men, formally excluded from the sphere of politics, and that to apply them as tests to the events of the world is regarded, in these days, as a weakness of mind. They who reject Revelation al together are consistent in such a judgment; but with what consistency they who profess to believe in a revelation of the Divine government of the world, nevertheless consent to exclude it from the field of contemporaneous history, I cannot tell. I am, therefore, going, prudens et videns, to run counter to the popular spirit of these times, and it may be to expose myself to the contempt or compassion of those who believe the world to be governed by the action of the human will alone. To this I resign myself very willingly, and with no perturbation. My intention is, to examine the present relation of the Church to the civil powers of the world, by the light of a prophecy recorded by St. Paul, and to draw out certain principles of a practical kind for the direction of those who believe that the Divine will is also present in the events now taking place before our eyes.
     I am not about to enter upon expositions of the Apocalypse, or to calculate the year of the end of the world. This I leave to those who may be called to it. The points I propose to take are few and practical; and the result I desire to attain is a clearer discernment of what principles are Christian, and what are Antichristian, and a surer appreciation of the character of the events by which the Church and the Holy See are at present tried.
     St. Paul, writing to the Thessalonians, says: “Let no man deceive you by any means: for unless there come a revolt first, and the man of sin be revealed, the son of perdition, who opposeth, and is lifted up above all that is called God, or that is worshiped, so that he sitteth in the temple of God, showing himself as if he were God. Remember you not, that when I was yet with you, I told you these things ' And now you know what with holdeth, that he may be revealed in his time. For the mystery of iniquity already worketh : only that he who now holdeth, do hold, until he be taken out of the way, and then that wicked one shall be revealed, whom the Lord Jesus shall kill with the spirit of  his mouth, and shall destroy with the brightness of his coming: him, whose coming is according to the working of Satan, in all power, and signs, and lying wonders, and in all seduction of iniquity to them that perish: because they received not the love of the truth, that they might be saved. Therefore God shall send them the operation of error, to believe lying: that all may be judged who have not believed the truth, but have consented to iniquity.”*
     We have here a prophecy of four great facts: first, of a revolt, which shall precede the second coming of our Lord; secondly, of the manifestation of one who is called “the wicked one;” thirdly, of a hindrance, which restrains his manifestation; and lastly, of the period of power and persecution, of which he will be the author.
     In treating of this subject, I shall not venture upon any conjectures of my own, but shall deliver simply what I find either in the Fathers of the Church, or in such theologians as the Church has recognised, namely, Bellarmine, Lessius, Malvenda, Wiegas, Suarez, Ribera, and others.
     First, then, what is the revolt? In the original it is called āroa Taala, ‘an apostasy;’ and in the Vulgate, discessio, or ‘a departure.” Now a revolt implies a seditious separation from some authority, and a consequent opposition to it.
     If we can find the authority, we shall find perhaps also the revolt.
     Now, there are in the world but two ultimate authorities, the civil and the spiritual, and this revolt must be either a sedition or a schism. Moreover, it must be something upon a wide field, and in proportion to the terms and events of the prediction.
     St. Jerome, with some others, interprets this revolt to be the rebellion of the nations or provinces against the Roman Empire. He says, “Nisi venerit discessio. . . . ut omnes gentes quae Romano Imperio subjacent, recedant ab eis;”* an interpretation we need not examine, forasmuch as the events of Christian history refute it. They have revolted, and no manifestation has appeared. It seems to need little proof that this revolt or apostasy is a separation, not from the civil, but from the spiritual order and authority; for the sacred writers, again and again, speak of such a spiritual separation ; and in one place St. Paul seems expressly to declare the meaning of this word. He forewarns St. Timothy that in the later days, Tuvés à moatia ovrat ā'irotfis Tiareos, “some shall depart or apostatise from the faith;” and it seems evident that the same spiritual falling away is intended by the apostasy in this place.

* 2 Thess. ii. 3 to 11.
* S. Hier. Ep. ad Algasiam.

Forum Jump:

Users browsing this thread: 1 Guest(s)