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Page:Catholic Encyclopedia, volume 10.djvu/472

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MODERNISM


418


MODERNISM


sence? It is furthermore clear — to use a direct argu- ment — that modernism fiiils in its attempt at relipious reform, if it makes no change in tlie Catliolii- notion of dogma. Moreover, does not its own ronciplion of dogma exphiin both a large number of its proposi- tions and its leanings towards independence, evolu- tion, and conciliation?

Modernist Aims Explained by its Essential Error. — The definition of an unchangeable dogma imposes itself on every Catholic, learned or otherwise, and it necessarily supposes a Church legislating for all the faithful, i)assing judgment on State action — from its own point of view of course — and that even seeks alliance with the civil power to carry on the work of the Apostolatc. On the other hand, once dogma is held to be a mere symbol of the unknowable, a science which merely deals with tlic facts of nature or history could neither oppose it nor even enter into controversy with it. If it is true only in so far as it excites and nourishes religious sentiment, the private individual is at full liberty to throw it aside when its influence on him has ceaseil; nay, even the Churcli herself, wliosc exist- ence depends on a dogma not different from the others in nature and origin, has no right to legislate for a self- sufficing State. And thus independence is fully real- ized. There is no need to prove that the modernist spirit of movement and evolution is in perfect har- mony with its concept of ever-changing dogma and is unintelligible without it; the matter is self-evident. Finally, as regards the conciliation of the different religions, we must necessarily distinguish between what is essential to faith regarded as a sent iment, and beliefs which are accessory, mut able, and practically negl igible. If therefore you go as far as making the Divinity a belief, that is to say, a symbolical expression of faith, then docility in following generous impulses may be religious, and the atheist's religion would not seem to differ essentially from yours.

Modernist Propositions Explained by its Essential Ebrok. — We make a selection of the fol- lowing propositions from the Encyclical for discus- sion: (a) the Christ of faith is not the Christ of history. Faith portrays Christ according to the re- ligious needs of the faithful; history represents Him as He really was, that is, in so far a.s His appearance on earth was a concrete phenomenon. In this way it is easy to understand how a believer may, with- out contradiction, attribute certain things to Christ, and at the same time deny them in the c|uality of historian. In the "Hibbert Journal" for Jan., 1909, the Rev. Mr. Robert wished to call the Christ of history "Jesus" and reserve "Christ" for the same person as idealized by faith; (b) Christ's work in founding the Church and instituting the .sacraments was mediate, not immediate. The main point is to find supports for the faith. Now, as religious experi- ence succeeds so well in creating useful dogmas, why may it not do likewise in the matter of institutions suited to the age? (c) The sacraments act as eloquent formulae which touch the soul and carry it away. Pre- cisely ; for if dogmas exist only in .so far as they preserve religious sentiment, what other service can one expect of the sacrament.s? (d) The Sacred Books are in every religion a collection of religious experiences of an ex- traordinary nature. For if there is no external reve- lation, the only substitute possible is the subjective re- ligious exyierience of men of particular gifts, experiences such as are worthy of being preserved for the community.

The Modernist Move.ment. — The late M. VC-fm dated the modernist movement from the French Revo- lution. And riKhtly so, for it was then that many of those modem liberties which the Church has reproved as unrestrained and ungovemed, first found sanction. Several of the propositions collected in the Syllabus of Pius IX, although enunciated from a rationalist point of view, have been appropriated by modernism. Such, for example, are the fourth proposition, which derives


all religious truth from the natural force of reason; the fifth, which affirms that revelation, if it joins in the on- ward march of rea.-ion, is capable of unlimited progress; the sevcMlli, which treats the i)roi)liecies and miracles of Holy Scripture as poetical imaginings; propo.sitions sixteen to eighteen on the equal value of all religions from the point of view of salvation; proposition fifty- five on the separation of Church and State; proposi- tions seventy-five and seventy-six, which oppose the temporal power of the pope. The modernist tend- ency is still more apparent in the last proposition, which was condemned on 18 March, 1861: "The Ro- man PonlilT can and ought to conform with contem- porary progress, liberalism, and civilization."

Taking only tlie great lines of the modernist move- ment within the Church itself, we may say that under Pius IX its tendency was politico-liberal, under Leo XIII and Pius X social; with the latter pontiff still reigning, its tendency has become avowedly theological.

It is in France and Italy above all that modernism properly so-called, that is, the form which attacks the very concept of religion and dogma, has spread its ravages among CathoUcs. Indeed, some time after the publication of the Encyclical of 8th September, 1907, theGerman, English, and Belgian bishops congratulated themselves that their respective countries had been spared the epidemic in its more contagious form. Of course, individual upholders of the new error are to be found everywhere, and even England as well as Ger- many has produced modernists of note. In Italy, on the contrary, even before the Encj'clical appeared, the bishops have raised the cry of alarm in their pastoral letters of 1906 and 1907. Ne%vspapers and reviews, openly modernist in their opinions, bear witness to the gravity of the danger which the Sovereign Pontiff sought to avert. After Italy it is France that has furnished the largest number of adherents to this religious reform or ultra-progressive party. In spite of the notoriety of certain individuals, comparatively few laymen have joined the movement; so far it has found adherents chiefly among the ranks of the younger clergy. France possesses a modernist publishing house (La librairie Nourry). A modernist review founded by the late Father Tyrrell, "Nova et Vetera", is published at Rome. "La Revue Moderniste Internationale" was started this year (1910) at Geneva. This monthly periodical calls it.self "the organ of the international modernist society". It is open to every shade of modernist opinions, and claims to have co-workers and correspondents in France, Italy, Germany, England, Au,stria, Hungary, Spain, Belgium, Russia, Rumania, and America. The Encyclical "Pascendi" notes and deplores the ardour of the modernist propaganda. A strong current of modernism is running through the- Russian Schi.smatic Church. The Anglican Church has not escaped. And indeed liberal Protestantism is nothing but a radical form of modernism that is win- ning the greater number of the theologians of the Reformed Church. Others who oppose the innovation find refuge in the authority of the Catholic Church.

The Philosophical Origin and CoNSEQUENCEa OP Modernism. — (1) The Origin. — Philosophy renders great service to the cause of truth ; but error calls for its- assistance too. Many consider the philosophic ground- work of modernism to be Kantian. This is true, if by Kantian philosophy is meant every system that has a root connexion with the philosophy of the Konigsberg sage. In other words, the basis of modernist philoso- phy is Kantian if, because Kant is its father and most illustrious moderate representative, all agnosticism be called Kantism (by agnosticism is meant the philosophy w-hieh denies that reason, used at any rate in a speculative and theoretical way, can gain tnie knowledge of suprasensible things). It is not our business here to oppose the application of the name K.antian to modernist philosophy. Indeed if we compare the two systems, we shall find that they have