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Page:Catholic Encyclopedia, volume 10.djvu/471

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MODERNISM


417


MODERNISM


bility which enables the behever to assimilate and live the truth revealed. It enters a soul well-disposed to receive it, as a principle of happiness which, though an unmerited gift to which we have no right, is still such as the soul can enjoy with unmeasured gratitude. In the modernist conception, the Church can no longer define dogma in God's name and with His infallible help; the ecclesiastical authority is now but a secon- dary interpreter, subject to the collective conscious- ness which she has to express. To this collective consciousness the indi\'idual need conform only exter- nally; as for the rest he may embark on any private religious adventures he cares for. The modernist pro- portions dogma to his intellect or rather to his heart. Mysteries like the Trinity or the Incarnation are either unthinkable (a modernist Kantian tendency), or arc within the reach of the unaided reason (a mo- dernist Hegelian tendency). "The truth of religion is in him (man) implicitly, as surely as the truth of the whole physical universe, is involved in every part of it. Could he read the needs of his own spirit and con- science, he would need no teacher" (TjTrell, "Scylla and Charybdis", p. 277).

Assuredly Catholic truth is not a lifeless thing. Rather is it a living tree that breaks forth into green leaves, flowers, and fruits. There is a development, or gradual unfolding, and a clearer statement of its dog- mas. Besides the primary truths, such as the Divin- ity of Christ and His mission as Messias, there are others which, one by one, become better understood ■and defined, e. g. the dogma of the Immaculate Con- <;eption and that of the Infallibility of the Pope. Such unfolding takes place not only in the study of the tradition of the dogma but also in showing its origin in Jesus Christ and the Apostles, in the understand- ing of the terms expressing it and in the historical or rational proofs adduced in support of it. Thus the historical proof of the dogma of the Immaculate Con- ception has certainly been strengthened since the defi- nition in 18.54. The rational conception of the dogma of Divine Providence is a continual object of study; the dogma of the Sacrifice of the Mass allows the reason to inquire into the idea of sacrifice. It has always Ijeen believed that there is no salvation outside the Church, but as this belief has gradually come to be better understood, many are now considered within •ihe soul of the Church who would have been placed without, in a day when the distinction between the soul and the body of the Church had not generally obtained. In another sense, too, dogma is mstinct with life. For ■its truth is not sterile, but always serves to nourish devotion. But whilst holding with life, progress, and •development, the Church rejects transitory dogmas that in the modernist theory would be forgotten unless replaced by contrary formula;. She cannot admit that "thought, hierarchy, cult, in a word, everything has changed in the historj- of Christianity", nor can she be content with "the identity of religious spirit" which is the only permanency that modernism admits (II programraa dei Modernisti).

Truth consists in the conformity of the idea with its object. Now, in the Catholic concept, a dogmatic for- mula supplies us with at least an analogical knowledge of a given object. For the modernist, the essential nature of dogma consists in its correspondence with and its cajiacity to satisfy a certain momentary need of the religious feeling. It is an arbitrary- symbol that tells nothing of the object it represents. At most, as M. Leroy, one of the least radical of modernists, .sug- gests, it is a jiositivc prescription of a practical order (Leroy, "Dognie et critique", p. 2.5). Thus the dogma ot the Real Presence in the Holy Eucharist means: " .-Vrt as if Christ had the local presence, the idea of which is so familiar to you". But, to avoid exaggeration, we add this other statement of the same writer (loc. eit.), "This however does not mean that dogma bears no Jelation to thought; for (1) there are duties concern- X.— 27


ing the action of thinking; (2) dogm& itself implicitly affirms that reality contains in one form or another the justification of such prescriptions as are either reason- able or salutary".

V.\Rions Degrees of Modernism and its Cri- terion. — Modernist attacks on dogma, as we have already remarked, vary according to the degree in which its doctrines are embraced. Thus, in virtue of the leading idea of their systems, Father Tyrrell waa an agnostic modernist, and Campbell (a Congrega- tionalist minister) is a symbolic modernist. Again the tendency to innovation is at times not at all general, but limited to some particular domain. Along with modernism in the strict sense, which is directly theo- logical, we find other kinds of modernism in philos- ophy, politics, and social science. In such cases a wider meaning must be given to the term.

Here, however, it is needful to speak a word of warn- ing against unreasonable attacks. Not every novelty is to be condemned, nor is every project of reform to be dubbed modernist because it is untimely or exaggerated. In the same way, the attempt fully to understand modern philosophic thought so as to grasp what is true in such systems, and to discover the points of contact with the old philosophy, is very far from being mod- ernism. On the contrary, that is the very best way to refute modernism. Every error contains an ele- ment of truth. Isolate that element and accept it. The structure which it helps to support, having lost its foundation, ■will soon crumble. The name modern- ist then will be appropriate only when there is question of opposition to the certain teaching ot ecclesiastical authority through a spirit of innovation. The words of Cardinal Ferrari, Archbishop of Milan, as cited in "La Revue Pratique d'Apologetique " (VI, 190S, p. 134), will help to show the point of our last remark. "We are deeply pained ", he says, " to find that certain persons, in public controversy against modernism, in brochures, newspapers and other periodicals, go to the length of detecting the evil everywhere, or at any rate of imputing it to those who are very far from being infected with it". In the same year. Cardinal Maffei liad to condemn "La Penta azurea ", an anti-modernist organ, on account of its exaggeration in this respect. On the other hand, it is regrettable that certain avowed leaders of modernism, carried away perhaps by the desire to remain within the Church at all costs — an- other characteristic of modernism — have taken refuge in equivocation, reticence, or quibbles. Such a line of action merits no sympathy; while it explains, if it doea not altogether justify, the distrust of sincere Catholics.

Proofs op the Foregoing Views. — But does the principle and the quasi-essential error of modernism lie in its corruption of dogma? Let us consult the En- cyclical "Pascendi". The official Latin text calls the modernist dogmatic system a leading chapter in their doctrine. The French translation, which is also authen- tic, speaks thus: "Dogma, its origin and nature, such is the ground principle of modernism." The funda- mental principle of modernism is, according to M. Loisy, "the possibility, the necessity and the legiti- macy of evolution in understanding the dogmas of the Church, including that of papal infallibility and authoritv, as well as in the manner of exercising this authority" (op. cit., p. 124). The character and leaning of our epoch confirm our diagnosis. It likes to substitute leading and fundamental questions in the place of side issues. The problem of natural knowledge is the burning question in present-day metaphysics. It is not surprising therefore that the question of supernatural knowledge is the main sub- ject of discussion in religious polemics. Finally, Pius X has said that modernism embraces all the heresies. (The same opinion is expressed in another way in the encyclical "Edita>" of 16 May, 1910.) And what error, we ask, more fully justifies the pope's state- ment than that which alters dogma in its root and es-