Tuesday, August 12, 2003

Orestes Brownson and Homosexual Bishops

Herewith the penultimate installment of our serialization.

"Catholicity Necessary to Sustain Popular Liberty," Part IX:
The Limits of Catholicism's Superiority
[Brownson amplifies his argument that that democratic liberty can survive only within a Catholic culture]
But we pray our readers to understand us well. We unquestionably assert the adequacy of Catholicity to sustain popular liberty, on the ground of its being exempted from popular control and able to govern the people; and its necessity, on the ground that it is the only religion which, in a popular government, is or can be exempted from popular control, and able to govern the people. We say distinctly, that this is the ground on which, reasoning as the statesman, not as the theologian, we assert the adequacy and necessity of Catholicity; and we object to Protestantism, in our present argument, solely on the ground that it has no authority over the people, is subject to them, must follow the direction they give it, and therefore cannot restrain their passions, or so control them as to prevent them from abusing their government. This we assert, distinctly and intentionally, and so plainly, that what we say cannot be mistaken.

But in what sense do we assert Catholicity to be the master of the people? Here we demand justice. The authority of Catholicity is spiritual, and the only sense in which we have here urged or do urge its necessity is as the means of augmenting the virtue and intelligence of the people. We demand it as a religious, not as a political power. We began by defining democracy to be that form of government which vests the sovereignty in the people. If, then, we recognize the sovereignty of the people in matters of government, we must recognize their political right to do what they will. The only restriction on their will we contend for is a moral restriction; and the master we contend for is not a master that prevents them from doing politically what they will, but who, by his moral and spiritual influence, prevents them from willing what they ought not to will. The only influence on the political or governmental action of the people which we ask from Catholicity, is that which it exerts on the mind, the heart, and the conscience; -- an influence which it exerts by enlightening the mind to see the true end of man, the relative value of all worldly pursuits, by moderating the passions, by weaning the affections from the world, inflaming the heart with true charity, and by making each act in all things seriously, honestly, conscientiously. The people will thus come to see and to will what is equitable and right, and will give to the government a wise and just direction, and never use it to effect any unwise or unjust measures. This is the kind of master we demand for the people, and this is the bugbear of "Romanism" with which miserable panderers to prejudice seek to frighten old women and children. Is there any thing alarming in this? In this sense, we wish this country to come under the Pope of Rome. As the visible head of the church, the spiritual authority which Almighty God has instituted to teach and govern the nations, we assert his supremacy, and tell our countrymen that we would have them submit to him. They may flare up at this as much as they please, and write as many alarming and abusive editorials as they choose or can find time or space to do, -- they will not move us, or relieve themselves of the obligation Almighty God has placed them under of obeying the authority of the Catholic Church, pope and all.

Tomorrow, Part X: Religious Implications, and Conclusion

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