THE American Catholic Quarterly Review, for October, contains an official translation of Leo XIII.’s invitation to “the nations and peoples of the universe” to return to the fold of the so-called “Catholic” Church.
WITH becoming modesty, Cardinal Gibbons has written a long introduction to the official translation of the pope’s encyclical which may be understood as explaining just what the “holy father” meant. The cardinal says:—
But what is the great Leo’s principle of union; what his remedy for existing dissensions? What the nature of the invitation addressed to all princes and people? He advises reconciliation and union with the Church of Rome; not such a union that would be brought about “by a certain kind of agreement in the tenets of belief and an intercourse of fraternal love. The true union between Christians in that which Jesus Christ, the Author of the church, instituted and desired, and which consists in a unity of faith and a unity of government.” In his view, which is the only true view, the supremacy of the Roman pontiff, the supreme jurisdiction of St. Peter and his successors, can alone unite us in the fellowship with our Redeemer. That has been the claim of the Catholic Church from the beginning. She has repeated and insisted on the necessity of submission to the center of Christian truth and the bond of external union. The fathers and doctors have invariably taught that “where Peter is, there is the church,” and that on account of its superior power and primacy every particular church must adhere and be united to the Church of Rome where blessed Peter erected his see forever.
It is thus that we are brought face to face, as it were, with that wonderful seat, or see, from which the pope derives his “infallibility;” and it is to faith in that that [sic.] the pope has invited all “princes and peoples.” “Where Peter is there is the church,” and where Peter is, there is his seat to which attaches infallibility! Profound thought! Christ is out, Peter is in; God is dethroned and “the man of sin” sits “in the temple of God showing himself that he is God.”
BUT it is only when we realize that Peter is dead that the stupendous folly of the whole thing dawns upon the mind. The papal system is built upon men, and upon dead men at that, as shown in our first page article. Read, and ponder it well.
AMONG our significant paragraphs are two printed side by side showing the attitude of the Church of Rome toward religious liberty in Europe and in America. In Europe Rome opposes every concession to God-given human rights; but in America the same power poses as the champion of religious freedom! Only recently the hierarchy in Spain protested against the ordination of an Anglican bishop in Madrid; and now, while the Roman Catholic press of this country is waxing loud in its plaudits of religious liberty, “the church” in Hungary is doing its utmost to maintain the Church and State statutes by which it has so long held in cruel bondage the Hungarian people. “Rome never changes.”