Church and State (Galt)/Introduction
CHURCH AND STATE.
My recent Pamphlet on "Civil Liberty in Lower Canada" has elicited much comment, and provoked some adverse criticism. The latter appears to resolve itself into two allegations, one of which charges me with the desire to provoke religious animosity for private or political ends; the other, which pronounces my fears groundless, and the position I assume unwarranted either by facts, or by logical deduction from known utterances of the Roman Catholic Hierarchy.
To the former charge against myself personally, no lengthened reply is necessary. As regards private or political objects, it is unworthy even of a disclaimer; while from the accusation of seeking to raise a strife of creeds, I can appeal to the record of upwards of thirty years of public life, most of which has been spent in Parliament, both in and out of office, and many years during a period when the most vigorous efforts were made to excite an anti-Catholic agitation; and I can challenge any one to produce a speech or vote by me calculated to wound the feelings or consciences of my Roman Catholic fellow subjects. If such a record be of any value, it should be accepted as my justification, in now presuming to address both Roman Catholics and Protestants alike, for the purpose of entreating them to recognize in time, the grave dangers which threaten the peace of our common country, through the aggressive character of the Roman Catholic Hierarchy, and the irreconcileable conflict they are provoking between the Civil and Religious divisions of society.
The second allegation is more important, as, if my fears are really groundless, and unsustained either by fact, or by reasonable deduction, then my interference has been mischievous, and is not even to be excused by any moderation or liberality displayed by me in the past.
The subject will be most effectively treated by its examination under three distinct heads of inquiry, which may be said to embody in their solution all that was said or implied in my pamphlet.
1st.—Has the attitude of the Roman Catholic Church towards Civil Society changed since Confederation; and has such change been signalized in Lower Canada by overt action?
2nd.—Has such change affected the general rights of Protestants, as citizens of Quebec; and especially, weakened their guarantees obtained at Confederation?
3rd.—Is the issue thus raised Political or Religious?
In dealing with subjects of such importance, I shall have to avail myself largely of the material supplied in the course of the controversy between Mr. Gladstone and his distinguished opponents, Cardinal Manning and Dr. Newman. My sole regret is that I cannot borrow, with equal ease, the lucid and cogent reasoning which distinguishes the writings of the eminent English statesman.
To prevent misapprehension, I desire to state most explicitly, in the words of Mr. Gladstone:
"I desire to eschew not only religious bigotry; but likewise theological controversy. Indeed with theology, except in its civil bearing,—with theology as such—I have here nothing whatever to do. But it is the peculiarity of Roman theology, that by thrusting itself into the temporal domain, it naturally, and even necessarily comes to be a frequent theme of political discussion."
In the course of my remarks, I shall frequently have occasion to make use of the term "Roman Catholic Church," which I desire may be understood as designating its government and polity, not as referring to it as a system of religious faith. Without this explanation I might be understood, as entering on the domain of polemical discussion in some of my references.