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The Pamphlet Collection of Sir Robert Stout: Volume 20


page 39


The following letter was inserted in the Otago Daily Times, in answer to one from Bishop Moran, which denied the existence of the Canons referred to in the Lecture, notwithstanding they were of European celebrity; he also denied that it was part of a Roman Catholic creed that his Church had a right to persecute. Universal history is a sufficient refutation of Bishop Moran's denial. As to the Canons, the letter will explain the circumstances.

(To the Editor of the Otago Daily Times.)

Sir,—I have just reached home, and find a letter of Bishop Moran's inserted in your issue of June 8th, animadverting on statements made in my recent lecture.

"In reply, I assert that the 21 Canons, to one of which I referred, whose existence Bishop Moran denies, are a matter of history. I have them all before me as printed in the 'Augsburg Gazette,' February, 1870.

"The originals were drawn up for acceptance by the (Ecumenical Council, and created on the Continent of Europe considerable excitement at the time. Count Beust endeavored to dissuade the Papal Government from having them enacted by the Council, and the note which he communicated to Rome on the subject was forwarded to the ambassadors of Austria elsewhere, and the contents of it published. Count Daru, on the part of France, seconded the representations of Count Beust by an additional dispatch to the authorities at Rome. The answer given by Cardinal Antonelli to Count Beust did not ignore the existence of these Canons. but pointed out that there was a great difference between theory and practice. 'No one,' said he, 'would ever prevent the Church from proclaiming the great principles upon which its Divine fabric is based; but as regards the application of those sacred laws, the Church, imitating the example of its heavenly Founder, would be inclined to take into account the natural weaknesses of mankind, and accordingly would only exact so much from human frailty as was within the power of every age and country to render.' Cardinal Antonelli, in reply to Count Daru's note of February 20, 1870, did not dispute the authenticity of the text of the 21 Canons objected to, but endeavored to explain away their objectionable features.

"I have not heard that these Canons aforesaid were either withdrawn or rejected. The above facts were recorded and constantly repeated without a word of denial in the English journals, and if the Canons had been withdrawn or modified in whole or in part, a fact so conducive to forming a favorable view of the proceedings of the Council would scarcely have been passed over unnoticed. I must therefore adhere to my opinion, unless Bishop Moran can throw more light than mere assertion on it, that these Canons are in force and do represent the mind of his Church. That these Canons were put forth is matter of notoriety; if any modification of them took place, it would be highly desirable to know it. Perhaps they were erroneously described as Canons, and were only Postulates or Anathemas, on which further resolutions were to be based. But all that is beside the real question at issue, which is the attitude of the Roman Catholic Church and its officers and members to the question of toleration, and the use of force in advancing or maintaining religion.

"If Bishop Moran tells us that henceforth the Church of Rome never intends to use force even when it has the power, and if he can shew that he is authorised to make this disclaimer, then I for one shall be rejoiced to believe and bear testimony that Rome wishes to separate itself from its past history, and is indeed changed. My argument was wholly misunderstood by the Bishop, owing to an error in the report of the lecture, whereby 'it must lie' was read in place of 'it must be.' What I said was, if the Church of Rome was infallible, then it must be a persecuting Church, for if it had but a short time to save men's souls in, and possessed infallibility, it would be the utmost cruelty for it to neglect any means to bring men to the knowledge and obedience of such infallible truth.

"The question is not whether it is Canon 12 or 13, or whether this is the last or last but one series of Canons, but whether the principles expressed therein page 40 are those of the Roman Catholic Church; whether the principle that Christ conferred on the Church the power to direct not only by advice and persuasion those who turn aside, but also to compel them by orders, by force, by external violence, and by salutary punishment, is a principle specifically rejected or approved by that Church. In the oath appointed to be taken by every Bishop, as contained in the Roman edition of the Pontifical, printed at Rome by authority, 1818, on page 62, the Bishop swears to be faithful and obedient to his Lord the Pope and his successors; to assist them in maintaining the Roman Papacy and the royalties of Saint Peter, against all men; to preserve, defend, augment and promote its rights, honors, and privileges; to persecute and impugn with all his might, here tics and schismatics and rebels against his said Lord, etc.

"If this oath be exacted of all Roman Catholic Bishops, it is futile to try and persuade us that Rome has given up both the desire and privilege of persecuting those of adverse opinions to her own, and the general assent to the Church's teaching required of every Roman Catholic is sufficient to identify him with its principles. I am, &c.,

"A. B. Nelson, N.Z.

"Nelson, July 1, 1871."

Bishop Moran objects to my rendering "persequor" persecute, in the above letter, and says I cannot translate Latin! At all events I am in good company with the Bishop of Lincoln, Dr. C. Wordsworth, whose translation I have given, and not my own at all. "Persequor" has two meanings, a literal and a figurative one, and we must look at the surrounding associations to ascertain which of these meanings of the word is to be adopted. I suppose Bishop Moran will admit that the use of it is ecclesiastical rather than classical, and therefore it is in its use in ecclesiastical books that we must look for its meaning. Now, in the Vulgate, I find

Acts ix. 4, Saule, Saule! quid me persequeris.

Acts ix 5, Ego sum Jesus quem tu persequeris.

Which the Douai version renders

Saul, Saul! why persecuted thou me.

I am Jesus, whom thou persecutest.

I looked in 2 Tim. ii. 22, where the Douai version reads "Pursue justice, faith, charity." Here, thought I, as it is the same word in the Greek original, the Vulgate will translate it by "persequor," and if so, it would be an example of the use of "perseciuor" which Bishop Moran would be very thankful to meet with; but on turning to the Vulgate, I found that it did not use "perseqaor" in this passage at all, but read it thus—"Sectare vero justitiam," &c., proving that in the Vulgate "persequor" is not used in the sense of "following up perseveringly with a good intention." To make the matter more sure, I looked in the Douai version, and I found the following out of many similar passages:—

Rev. xii. 13, The dragon persecuted the woman.

I Thess. ii. 15, Killed the Lord Jesus and persecuted us.

Luke xi. 49, Some of them they will kill and persecute.

John v. 16, Therefore did the Jews persecute Jesus.

Matt. v. 11, Blessed are ye when they shall—persecute you.

The above passages are rendered thus in the Vulgate:—

Rev. xii. 13, persecutus est mulierem.

I Thess. ii. 15, et nos persecuti sunt.

Luke xi. 49, ex illis Occident et persequentur.

John v. 16, Propterea persequebantur Judæi Jesum.

Matt. v. 11, Beati cum—persecuti fuerint.

Certainly "persequor" has always hitherto been construed as I have translated it: I can only hope Bishop Moran is, for the first time in the history of the Roman Catholic Church, going to translate it differently, and that he will continue to do so.

P.S.—I have to thank "Omega" for strictures in the "Evening Star" on the above subject.

Nelson, October 7, 1871.

Printed by John Mackay, Princes Street North.