Pastoral Letter of the Bishops of the Ecclesiastical Province of Quebec on the Subject of Liberalism
[Sept. 22, 1875]
WE, BY THE MERCY OF GOD AND THE FAVOUR OF THE HOLY APOSTOLIC SEE, ARCHBISHOP, BISHOPS, AND ADMINISTRATOR OF THE DIOCESES OF THE ECCLESIASTICAL PROVINCE OF QUEBEC.
To the Clergy, Secular and Regular, and to all the Faithful of the said Province, Greeting and Blessing in Our Lord.
Our Dearly Beloved Brethren, - We deem it our duty as Your Pastors, to address you on many most important subjects to which various circumstances have given rise.
POWERS OF THE CHURCH
'Whosoever will be saved,' says the creed of St Athanasius, 'before all things it is necessary that he hold the Catholic faith.' Quicumque vult salvus esse, necesse est ut teneat catholicam fidem. And to obtain a certain knowledge of this faith, 'without which faith it is impossible to please God', sine fide impossibile est placere Deo (Heb. xi, 6), it is necessary to listen to the Church in which Jesus Christ himself taught, and out of which one can find only error, doubt and uncertainty, for it 'is the Church of the living God, the pillar and support of the truth;' Ecclesia Dei vivi, columna et firmamentum veritatis (1 Tim. iii, 15). It has received a mission 'to teach to all nations the commandments of Jesus Christ'; Docete omnes gentes servare omnia quaecumque mandavi vobis (Matt. xxviii, 20).
To fulfill this sublime and difficult mission it was necessary that the Church be constituted by its Divine founder in the form of a Society perfect in itself, distinct and independent of civil society.
No society whatever can exist without laws, and consequently, without law-givers, judges and a power to make the laws respected; the Church has, therefore, necessarily received from its founder authority over its children to maintain order and unity. To deny this authority would be to deny the wisdom of the Son of God. To subordinate this authority to the civil power, would be to side with a Nero and a Diocletian against those millions of Christians who preferred death to betraying their faith; it would be to side with Pilate and Herod against Jesus Christ himself.
Not only is the Church independent of civil society, but it is superior to it by its origin, by its extent, and by its end.
Without doubt civil society has its root in the will of God, who has decreed that men would live in society; but the forms of civil society vary with times and places; the Church is born from the blood of a God on Calvary, has received direct from His mouth its unchangeable constitution, and no power on earth can alter it.
A civil society embraces but one people; the Church has received dominion over all the earth; Jesus Christ himself has given the mission 'to teach all nations', docete omnes gentes (Matt. xxviii, 20); the State, then, is in the Church, and not the Church in the State.
The aim of the Church is the eternal happiness of souls, the supreme and last aim of man; civil society has for its aim the temporal happiness of peoples. Even by the nature of things, civil society finds itself indirectly but in truth subordinate, for not only ought it to abstain from putting any obstacle in the way of that supreme and last aim of man, but it ought also to assist the Church in its divine mission and if need be to protect and defend it. And besides, is it not evident that even the temporal happiness of peoples depends on truth, justice and morality, and consequently, on all those truths the keeping of which is confided to the Church? The experience of the last hundred years teaches us there is no longer either peace or security for nations who have thrown off the yoke of religion, of which the Church is the only true guardian.
This subordination in no way prevents these societies from being distinct, because of their aims, and independent, each in its proper sphere. But the moment a question touches on faith, morals or the divine constitution of the Church, on its independence or on what it needs to fulfill its spiritual mission, it is for the Church alone to judge, for Jesus Christ has said to it alone, 'All power is given me in heaven and on earth . . . . As my Father has sent me, so I send you . . . . Go then, teach all nations . . . . Who hears you hears me, and who contemns you contemns me, and who contemns me contemns Him that sent me . . . . Who does not listen to the Church deserves to be considered as a heathen and a publican', that is to say, as unworthy to be called His child. (Matt. xxviii, 18, 19; John xx, 21; Matt. xviii, 17.)
But in thus claiming the rights of the Catholic Church over its children, by no means do we intend to usurp or fetter the civil rights of our brothers who differ from us, with whom we will always be happy to be on the best of terms in the future as we have been in the past. The principles we expound are not new; they are as old as the Church itself. If we repeat them today, it is because certain Catholics appear to have forgotten them.
CONSTITUTION OF THE CHURCH
The supreme power of legislating and judging in the Church exists in the Sovereign Pontiff, the successor of St Peter, to whom Christ confided the keys of the Kingdom of Heaven and whom He ordered to confirm his brethren.
The general Councils, summoned, presided over and confirmed by the Pope, have this same power.
'The Bishops have been appointed by the Holy Spirit to govern the Church of God'; Spiritus Sanctus posuit Episcopos regere Ecclesiam Dei (Acts xx, 28). In their respective dioceses they have the power of teaching, commanding and judging; a power nevertheless subordinate to that of the Head of the Church in whom alone is centred the fullness of the Apostolic power and doctrinal Infallibility. Priests and laymen owe to the Bishops submission, respect and obedience.
Each priest, in his turn, when he has received from his Bishop authority to preach and administer spiritual needs to a certain number of the faithful, has a strict right to the respect, love and obedience of those whose spiritual interests are confided to his pastoral care.
Such is the divine plan of this Catholic Church which Jesus Christ has clothed with his power; such is this Ecclesiastical Hierarchy which, in its admirable harmony, shows us a body perfectly organized and capable of surely reaching its end, which is the eternal salvation of every one of its innumerable children 'of all tribes, languages, peoples and nations', ex omni tribu et lingua et populo et natione (Apoc. v, 9).
Catholic liberalism, says Pius IX, is the most ruthless and dangerous enemy to the divine constitution of the Church. Like a serpent that glides through the terrestrial paradise to entice and destroy the human race, it presents to the children of Adam the deceptive bait of a certain liberty and of a certain knowledge of good and evil, a liberty and knowledge which leads to death. It endeavours to slip imperceptibly into the most holy places; it charms the most perspicacious eyes; it poisons the simplest hearts, if one wavers ever so little in faith in the authority of the Sovereign Pontiff.
The followers of this subtle error concentrate all their strength to break the bonds which unite the people to the Bishops and the Bishops to the Vicar of Jesus Christ. They applaud civil authority every time it invades the sanctuary; they seek by every means to induce the faithful to tolerate, if not approve, of iniquitous laws. They are enemies so much the more dangerous that often, without even being conscious of it, they favour the most perverted doctrines, which Pius IX has so well described in calling them a fanciful reconciliation of truth with error.
The Catholic liberal reassures himself, because he still has some Catholic principles, certain pious practices, a remnant of faith and attachment to the Church; but he carefully shuts his eyes to the abyss dug in his heart by the error and which silently devours it. He still boasts to all about his religious convictions, and is angry when warned that he has dangerous principles; he is perhaps sincere in his delusion; God alone knows it! But, beside all these fine appearances, there is a great deal of pride which lets him believe he has more prudence and wisdom than those to whom the Holy Spirit gives the mission and grace to teach and govern the faithful people. He will be seen censuring without scruple the acts and writings of the highest religious authority. Under pretence of removing the cause of dissensions and of reconciling with the Gospel the progress of present-day society, he puts himself in the service of Caesar and of those who invent pretended rights in favor of a false liberty; as if darkness could exist with light, and as if truth did not cease to be truth when one violated it, therein turning it aside from its true meaning and despoiling it of that immutability inherent in its nature.
Face with five Apostolic Briefs denouncing Catholic liberalism as absolutely incompatible with Church doctrine, although it may not be yet formally condemned as heretical, it can no longer be permitted in conscience to be a Catholic liberal.
One of the greatest geniuses who ever lived on this earth, St Thomas Aquinas, defines law in general. 'Quaedam rationis ordinatio ad bonum commune et ab eo qua euram communitatis habet, promulgata.' 'Law is a rule dictated by reason for the common good, and promulgated by he who has the care of society.'
The Catholic Church recognizes in this short definition all the features of Christian politics.
The common good is the only and supreme end.
Reason is to be the source of law. Reason, that is to say, the conformity of the means employed, not only with the end to be attained, but also with justice and morality; reason, and not the spirit of party, not the intention of holding on to power, not the wish to cripple the opposed party.
The authority which imposes the law is here admirably defined. The Holy Spirit often represents it to us as bearing a sword and ready to strike whoever refuses to render it honor, fear and homage; it is thus it ought to appear to peoples, 'as minister of the vengeance of God on those who do evil'; Dei minister est, vindex in iram ei qua malum agit (Rom. xiii, 4). But our Holy Doctor, considering the authority in the person clothed with it, shows him his duties at the same time that he defines his rights. 'To you, oh princes, oh legislators, has been confided the care of society; qua curam societatis habet; it is not to satisfy your ambition, your thirst for honors and riches, that authority has been given you; it is a charge, an obligation, a duty, that has been imposed upon you.'
Truly, a Divine politics! Oh! it leaves far behind it that false and utterly unreasonable politics which treats the most serious interests of a people like a child's toy with which blind partisans seek to amuse and enrich themselves, and to mutually supplant one another.
Far be it from us not to recognize the advantages of the constitutional regime considered in itself, and consequently, the usefulness of its distinctions of party, which hold one another in check, in order to signal and stop the errors of power. What we deplore, what we condemn, is the abuse of it; it is the pretension that politics, reduced to the mean and ridiculous proportions of party interests, becomes the supreme rule of every public administration, that everything may be for the party and nothing for the common good; nothing for that society of which one has the charge. What we condemn once again, is that one is allowed to say and to dare all that can tend to the triumph of a party. 'Listen to my words,' says the Holy Spirit (Wisdom of Solomon vi), 'you who govern the people, consider you have received the power from the Most High, who will examine your works, scrutinize even your thoughts; because being the ministers of His kingdom, you have not guarded the law of justice nor walked according to His will. He will also come to you in a terrible manner to judge you with extreme severity.'
THE ROLE OF THE CLERGY IN POLITICS
Men who would lead you astray, Our Dearly Beloved Brethren, tell you repeatedly that religion has nothing whatever to do with politics; that it is not necessary to take any account of religious principles in the discussion of public affairs; that the clergy have no functions except within the Church and the sacristy; and that the people should practice moral independence in politics.
Monstrous errors, Our Dearly Beloved Brethren; and woe to the country in which they take root. In excluding the clergy, the Church is excluded; and in putting aside the Church, one is deprived of all that is salutary and unchangeable in what it contains: God, morality, justice, truth, and when one has swept away all the rest, one has nothing left to rely upon except force!
Every man who has his salvation at heart should govern his actions according to Divine law, of which religion is the expression and guardian. Who cannot understand what justice and rectitude would reign everywhere, if governments and peoples had always before their eyes that Divine law which is equity itself, and the formidable judgement which they will have to undergo one day before Him from whose hands no one can possibly escape? The greatest enemies of the people are, therefore, those who wish to banish religion from politics; for, under the pretext of freeing the people from what they call the tyranny, the undue influence of the priest, they are preparing for this people the heaviest chains and the ones that will be the most difficult to throw off; they place might above right, and take from the civil power the only moral check which can prevent it from degenerating into despotism and tyranny!
They wish to shut the priest up in the sacristy!
Why? Is it because during his studies he has acquired certain and salutary knowledge of the rights and duties of each of the faithful confided to his care? Is it because he sacrifices his resources, his time, his health, even his life, for the benefit of his fellow human beings?
Is he not a citizen with the same rights as others? What! any newcomer may write, speak and act; you sometimes see an influx of strangers into a parish or a county, who came there to make their own political opinions prevail: and the priest alone will be unable to speak or to write! Any one who wishes will be permitted to come into a parish and to spout all sorts of principles and the priest, who in the midst of his parishioners is like a father amongst his children, will have no right to speak, no right to protest against the enormities which are submitted to them!
Those who today are shouting aloud that the priest has nothing whatever to do in politics, not long ago were finding his influence salutary; those who now deny the competency of the clergy in these questions formerly used to praise the steadiness of principles that the study of Christian morality gives a man. Whence this change of mind, if not from sensing that this influence, which they are aware they no longer merit, now acts against them?
Without doubt, our Dearly Beloved Brethren, the exercise of all the rights of citizenship by a priest is not at all times opportune; it may even have its dangers and disadvantages: but it must not be forgotten that to the Church alone belongs the right to give to its ministers the instructions which she may deem appropriate, and to reprimand those who may go astray; and the Bishops of this Province have not failed to do their duty on this point.
Up to the present we have considered the priest as a citizen, and as speaking of politics in his own name, like any other member of civil society.
Are there questions in which the Bishop and the priest may, and sometimes even must, interfere in the name of religion?
We answer without hesitation: Yes, there are political questions in which the clergy may and even must interfere in the name of religion. The principle governing this right and duty is found in the very distinction we have already indicated, between the Church and the State.
There are, in effect, political questions which touch on the spiritual interests of souls, either because they relate to faith and morals, or because they can affect the liberty, independence or existence of the Church, even from a temporal point of view.
A candidate may present himself whose programme is hostile to the Church, or whose past is such that his candidature threatens these same interests.
Likewise, a political party may be judged dangerous, not only because of its programme and history, but also because of the particular programmes and past of its leaders, of its principal members, and of the press which represents it, unless this party explicitly disavow them and separate itself from them, assuming they are persisting in their error after having been warned about it.
In this case a Catholic cannot, without denying his faith, show himself hostile to the Church of which he is a member, refuse to the Church the right of defending itself, or rather defending the spiritual interests of the souls confided to its safekeeping! But the Church speaks, acts, and fights through its clergy, and to refuse these rights to them is to refuse them to the Church.
Thus, the priest and the bishop may in all justice, and must in all conscience, raise their voices, point out the danger, declare authoritatively that to vote in a particular way is a sin, and that to do such a thing makes one liable to the censure of the Church. They may and must speak, not only to the electors and the candidates, but also to the constituted authorities, for the duty of every man who wishes to save his soul is traced out by divine law; and the Church, as a good Mother, owes to all her children, regardless of their station in life, love and, consequently, spiritual vigilance. It is not, therefore, converting the pulpit into a political platform when the clergy enlighten the conscience of the faithful on all those questions in which salvation is involved.
Doubtless, Our Dearly Beloved Brethren, such questions do not come up for discussion everyday; but the right is no less certain for all that.
It is evident, by the very nature of the question, that to the Church alone must belong the right of judging the circumstances under which it must raise its voice in favour of Christian faith and morality.
It will perhaps be objected that the priest is liable, like every man, to go beyond the limits assigned to him, and that then it is up to the State to make him return to his duties.
To this we will reply, firstly, that it is a gratuitous insult to the entire Church to suppose that there is not in its hierarchy a remedy for the injustice or error of one of its ministers. In fact, the Church has its regularly constituted tribunals; and if any one thinks he has reason to complain of a minister of the Church, he should cite him, not before the civil tribunal, but rather before the ecclesiastical tribunal, which is alone competent to judge the doctrine and the conduct of the priest. That is why Pius IX, in his bull Apostolicae Sedis, in October 1869, declares major excommunication against those who, either directly or indirectly, require lay judges to summon ecclesiastical personages before their courts, against the provisions of canon law.
Secondly, when the state invades the rights of the Church, and tramples under foot its most sacred privileges, as to-day happens in Italy, France and Switzerland, would it not be the height of derision to give to this same state the right to gag its victim?
Thirdly, if we establish as a principle that a power does not exist because it may happen that somebody abuses it, it will be necessary to deny the existence of all the civil powers, because all persons in whom these powers are vested are fallible.
THE PRESS AND ITS DUTIES
In our day, the press plays a role, for good as well as for evil, the importance of which cannot be concealed. The Church cannot remain an indifferent spectator to these journalistic struggles which occur either in books or in newspapers. These writings which the press eternalizes, as it were, and scatters to the winds are far more productive, either in a constructive way or scandalously, than a talk forgotten almost as soon as it is heard by a small number of listeners. Honor and glory to those Catholic writers who make it their primary duty to propagate and defend the truth; and who examine with scrupulous care the questions they are called upon to discuss! But what answers will they give to the Sovereign Judge, those writers for whom politics as they understand it means above all serving the interests of their party; who take no account of the Church, who would make of that spouse of Jesus Christ the slave of Caesar; and who neglect, or even scorn, the advice of those whom Jesus Christ has charged with teaching the truths of religion?
The duties of the press, as laid down by our last Council at Quebec, may be summed up as follows: Firstly, always to treat one's opponents with charity, moderation and respect, because zeal for the truth cannot excuse any excess of language; secondly, to judge one's opponents with impartiality and justice, as one would wish to be judged oneself; thirdly, not to hasten to condemn before having carefully examined all the pertinent facts; fourthly, to put the best construction on what is ambiguous; fifthly, to avoid mocking, sarcasm, conjectures injurious to reputations, ill-founded accusations;, and the imputation of intentions which God alone knows.
What the Church has not condemned may well be opposed, but not to the point of saying evil of it.
In matters connected with the ecclesiastical or civil authorities, the language should always be proper and respectful.
Establishments of which the Bishops are the natural protectors and judges, must not be brought before the incompetent tribunal of public opinion.
Let us add that the priest, and with stronger reason, the Bishop, in the exercise of his ministry, is not under the jurisdiction of public opinion, but under that alone of his hierarchical superiors. If any person thinks he has a right to complain, he can always do so before those who have the power to do him justice; from the priest an appeal can be made to the Bishop, from the Bishop to the Archbishop, and from the Archbishop to the Sovereign Pontiff; but it can never be permitted to broadcast through the press the thousand rumors which political disturbances causes to spring up like the waves on a stormy sea.
It must not be forgotten that if particular laws made by a Bishop are not binding upon those outside his diocese, the principles which he makes known in his pastoral letters are for all times and all places. If any person, ecclesiastic or lay, believes he has a right not to listen to the voice of a pastor who is not his own, he has not for that reason any right to criticise or judge him.
'The name of God is holy and terrible' (Psalms cx, 9); it ought not to be uttered except with the most profound respect, and 'the Lord will not hold him innocent who takes the name of the Lord his God in vain' (Exodus xx, 7).
It is further written in the Holy Scriptures: 'You will make oath, saying: Long live the Lord; but that it may be with truth, with discretion, with justice' (Jeremiah iv, 2).
The oath is an act of religion, and, consequently, it pertains above all to the Church, which alone has authority to define and make known its nature and conditions.
There are two distinct parts to every oath: 1st, The affirmation of any fact or wish; 2nd, The invocation of God as witness to the truth of this fact or wish. The affirmation is called the formula when its terms are determined by authority, but this difference of name changes nothing in the nature even of that part of the oath.
All depends on the conformity of that affirmation or formula with the truth as known by him who takes the oath. If the affirmation or formula is true in all its parts, the oath is good and true.
There is perjury the moment the affirmation or formula contains something false, known as such by him who takes the oath. Even when there might be a thousand truths in your affirmation or formula, if you knowingly mix with them a single word which is not true, that single lie is sufficient to make you guilty of perjury.
From all this two very important conclusions result: 1st, Before taking an oath it is necessary to examine and understand the formula one is called to swear to, lest there be something there contrary to the truth as one knows it; if there is anything there one does not thoroughly understand, if there is any doubt, one must have it explained and refuse to take the oath until one's conscience is satisfied on the subject; otherwise one risks perjuring oneself, and consequently one commits a grave sin; 2nd, One must never speak of the formula of an oath as a matter of little importance: and we condemn absolutely the distinction that some would make between different formulae in order to slight some of them, or to give them a sense that the expressions they contain cannot bear. Words clear in themselves allow no interpretation whatever, just as light requires no other light to be seen. When a formula says clearly and formally that some particular thing exists, no possible interpretation can make it say that this thing does not exist.
Upon taking up their responsibilities, public officials take what is known is an oath of office. They promise solemnly in the presence of Almighty God to fulfill truthfully certain duties imposed on them. This is no empty formula, a promise devoid of sense, but among the most serious obligations, which lasts as long as one is in office. This ought to be the object of a strict and serious examination of the conscience when preparing to receive he sacraments.
If one must respect one's own oaths, one must respect no less those of others. We seize this occasion to condemn as impious and scandalous the practice of certain legal men who, for the sake of their cause, do not hesitate to cross-examine witnesses even to the point of confusing them and making them contradict and perjure themselves. It is not enough that a cause be good; it is necessary that the means employed to make it prevail be in conformity with the inalterable rules of truth, justice and charity.
ON ECCLESIASTICAL BURIAL
[Note from the editor: this section was apparently added to the document by Mgr. Taschereau, archbishop of Quebec and, as such, head of the Roman Catholic Church in Canada. Its source is obviously to be found in the events surrounding the quarrel between Bishop Bourget of Montreal and the members of the Institut Canadien over the burial of Joseph Guibord. See Philippe Sylvain and Nive Voisine, Histoire du Catholicisme québécois, Vol. 2, Réveil et consolidation. Tome 2, 1840-1898, Montreal, Boréal, 501p., p. 379.]
Ecclesiastical burial has not, doubtless, the same degree of sanctity as the sacraments, but it nevertheless belongs entirely and solely to the judgement of the Church. We wish to speak of ecclesiastical burial as defined and ordained by canon law; that is to say, not only the prayers and religious rites which accompany the interment, but also the ground sanctified and consecrated by prayers and benedictions for the burial of those who die in the peace of the Catholic Church.
No temporal power can oblige the Church to pray over the tomb of a dead person whom the Church has judged unworthy of its prayers; it is a sacrilegious assault upon the Church to violate by force the sanctity of ground consecrated by the prayers and blessings of the Church.
It will perhaps be said that the privation of the honors of ecclesiastical burial brings with it disgrace and infamy, and that it thus comes within the province of the civil authority, which is responsible for protecting the honor of the citizens.
We answer that the dishonor and the infamy are found rather in the revolt of a child against its mother, and that nothing can wipe out a grievous disobedience persevered in at the hour of death. All the trials, appeals and sentences of the world will only serve to publicize the transgression and render the disgrace and infamy more notorious and more deplorable in the eyes of all true Catholics.
'Jesus Christ', said the Apostle St Paul, 'loved His Church and gave himself up for it' (Eph. v, 25). Following the example of our Divine Master and Model, nothing should be dearer to us in this world than that same Church, of which we are members under the same Head who is Jesus Christ. She is our Mother, since she has awakened us to the life of grace; we should have for her a tender, filial love, rejoice in her triumphs, share her sorrows, and when necessary raise our voice in her defence. When, therefore, we see her dignity and liberty denied, her children, and still less her pastors, cannot be permitted a silence that would be equivalent to treason.
The Holy Catholic Church, faithful to the teachings of her Divine Master, teaches her children 'to give unto Caesar the things that are Caesar's, and to God the things that are God's' (Matt. xxii, 21). She repeats, with the great Apostle, 'Render to each one his due, tribute to whom tribute; taxes to whom taxes; fear to whom fear; and honor to whom honor' (Rom. xiii, 7). This duty of justice and respect which she never stops proclaiming, she has a stronger right than anyone to expect will be fulfilled on her own behalf, and that what belongs to the Church of God will be given to the Church of God.
Now, our Dearly Beloved Brethren, sorrowfully we have to say that a case unfortunately renowned shows us that the Catholic Church in Canada is threatened in its liberty and most precious rights, and what makes our affliction more keen is that the Church can say with the Prophet, 'I have nourished my children and loaded them with benefits, and they have despised me'; filios enutrivi et exaltavi, ipsi autem spreverunt me (Isaiah i, 2)! The first authors of this assault were brought up on the knees of a Christian mother; in their youth they knelt at the holy table; they received the indelible mark of confirmation; and to-day, notwithstanding their revolt, they call themselves Catholics, in order to have the right to force open the gates of a cemetery consecrated by the prayers of the Church and destined by her for the burial of her faithful children.
In order to disguise this criminal usurpation, the so-called Gallican liberties were invoked, as if Catholic unity, founded by Jesus Christ on the supreme authority of St Peter and his successors, were but a vain and empty title. And, in fact, what else would an authority be against which subjects were permitted to appeal in the name of their liberties! What prince, what republic, would willingly recognize a like principle invoked by a province, notwithstanding the express declarations, a hundred times repeated, of the constitution and of the supreme tribunals of the state?
Let those who are outside the Church consider such principles good and admirable if they will, for they do not believe in that authority which is the foundation of the Catholic Church. But that some men still dare to call themselves children of the Church, while denying to that degree its teachings and its hierarchy, is an incomprehensible error.
Those who have commenced, sustained or encouraged by their subscriptions this unqualified assault against the just rights of the Church, we hold guilty of an open revolt against the Church, and of a grievous injustice, for which they cannot obtain pardon, unless they strive to repair it by all means in their power.
We invite all the true children of the Church to pray the Divine Heart of Our Lord to have pity on those who have thus strayed from the path of faith and justice, that they may recognize their sin, make reparation, and obtain mercy.
Such, Our Dearly Beloved Brethren, is the important advice we deem it our duty to give you under the present circumstances.
Beware, above all, of this liberalism which hides itself under the beautiful name of Catholic, the more surely to accomplish its criminal work. You will easily recognize it from the picture the Sovereign Pontiff has so often drawn of it: 1st, Efforts to subordinate the Church to the State. 2nd, Incessant attempts to divide the bonds which unite the children of the Church amongst themselves and to the clergy. 3rd, Monstrous alliance of the truth with error under the pretence of resolving all differences and avoiding conflicts. 4th, Lastly, delusion and sometimes hypocrisy, which, under a religious exterior and fine protestations of submission to the Church, hide a boundless pride.
Remember that true Christian politics has but one aim, which is the public good; but one means, which is the perfect conformity of the laws with truth and justice.
Respect the oath as an important religious act; before taking it, examine carefully if the formula is true in all points, to the best of your knowledge; scrupulously fulfill the duties of your oath of office and take care not to lead your neighbour into perjury.
The present Letter shall be read and published during Sermon of all churches and chapels, parochial and mission, where public service is performed, on the first Sunday after its reception.
Given under our signatures, the seal of the archdiocese and the countersignature of the secretary of the archiepiscopal palace of Quebec the twenty second of September, one thousand eight hundred and seventy-five.
E.A. Arch. of Quebec.
Ig. Bish. of Montreal.
L.F. Bish. of Three Rivers.
Jean, Bish. of St.G., of Rimouski.
E.C. Bish. of Gratianopolis.
Antoine, Bish. of Sherbrooke.
J. Thomas, Bish. of Ottawa.
L.Z. Moreau, Pst. Adm. of St Hyacinthe.
C.O. Collet, Priest,
Source: the translation was effected by The True Witness and Catholic Chronicle, Oct 15, 1875. It has been revised substantially by the editor wherever the meaning was not completely clear or where some expressions were not as accurate as should be.
© 2000 Claude Bélanger, Marianopolis College