Page:Catholic Encyclopedia, volume 13.djvu/594

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SCHISM


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SCHISM


submitted to the pope's judgment (Athan., "Apol. contra Arian", 20).

III. Attempts to Legitimize Schism. — The foregoing texts are sufficient to estabhsh the gravity of schism from the standpoint of the economy of salvation and morals. In this connexion it may be of interest to quote the appreciation of Bayle, a writer above sus- picion of partiality and a tolerant judge: I know not," he wTites, "a more grievous crime than that of tearing the mystical body of Jesus Christ, His church which He purchased with His own blood, that mother which bore us to God, who nourishes us with the milk of understanding, who leads us to eternal life" (Supplement to Philosophical Comment, preface).

Various motives have been brought forward in justification of Schism: (1) Some have claimed the introduction into the Church of abuses, dogniatic and liturgical novelties, superstitions, with which they are permitted, even bound, not to ally themselves. Without entering into the foundation for these charges it should be noted that the authors cited above do not mention or admit a single exception. If we accept their statements separation from the Church is necessarily an evil, an injurious and blameworthy act, and abandoning of the true way of salvation, and this independent of all contingent circumstances. Moreover the doctrines of the Fathers exclude a priori any such attempt at justification; to use their words, it is forbidden for individuals or particular or national Churches to constitute themselves judges of the universal Church; the mere fact of having it against one carries its own condemnation. St. Augustine summed up all his controversy with the Donatists in the maxim: "The whole world unhesita- tingly declares them wTong who separate themselves from the whole world in whatsoever portion of the whole world" (quapropter securus judicat orbis terrarum bonos non esse qui se dividunt ab orbe terrarum, in quacumque parte orbis terrarum). Here Bayle may be quoted again: "Protestants bring forward only questionable reasons; they offer nothing convincing, no demonstration: they prove and object, but there are replies to their proofs and objections; they answer and are answered endlessly; is it worth while to make a schism?" (Diet, crit., art. Xihusius).

(2) Other schismatics have pleaded the division of the articles of the Creed into fundamental and non- fundamental. Under Fundamental Articles (q. v.) it is shown that this distinction, wholly unknown prior to the sixteenth century, and repugnant to the very conception of Divine faith, is condemned by Scripture, and, for want of a clear line of demarcation, authorizes the most monstrous divergences. The indispen-sable unity of faith extends to all the truths revealed by God and transmitted by the Apostles. Tra<iition repeats, though in different forms, all that Irena'us wrote: "The Church spread everywhere throughout the world received from the Apostles and their disciples faith in one God" (here follow the words of the Creed), then the writer contin- ues: "Depositary of this preaching and this faith, the Church which multiplies throughout the world, watches them as diligently as though she dwelt in one hou.se. She believes unanimously in these things as though she ha*i but one heart and soul ; she preach(!8 them, teaches them, and bears witness to them as though she had but one mouth. Though there are in the world different languages there is but one sin- gle and identical current of tradition. Neither the Churches founded in Gaul, nor those among the Iberians, nor those in the countries of the Celts, nor those in the East, nor those of Egypt, nor those of L^bia, nor those in the centre of the world present any differences of faith or preaching; but as the sun created by f Jod, is one and the same throughout the world, so a single light, a single preaching of the truth,


illuminates every place and enlightens all men who wish to attain to the knowledge of truth" (Adv. Han-., i, 10). It has been shown above how the Bishop of Lyons declared that the continuators of the Apostolic ministry were the "presbyters of the Church", and that a man was a Christian and a Catholic only on condition of obeying them without reserve.

(3) The theory of the happy medium or via viedia, advocated bj^ the Anglicans, especially by the Oxford leaders of the early nineteenth century as a means of escape from the difficulties of the system of funda- mental articles, is no more acceptable. Newman demonstrated and extolled it to the best of his talent in his "Via Media", but he soon recognized its weak- ness, and abandoned and rejected it even before his conversion to Catholicism. According to this theory, in order to safeguard unity and avoid schism it is sufficient to abide by Scripture as interpreted by each individual under the direction or with the assistance of tradition. At any rate the Church should not be regarded as infallible, but only as a trustworthy witness with regard to the true sense of the inspired text when she testifies to an interpretation received from Apostolic times. It seems unnecessary to point out the illusory and almost contradictory character which such a rule ascribes to the living teaching au- thoritj^; obviously, it does not meet the conditions for unity of belief which requires conformity with Scripture and, no less, with the living authority of the Church, or more exactly, implies absolute obedience to the infallible teaching authority — both to that which interprets the Scripture and to that which preserves and transmits under any other form the deposit of Revelation.

St. Irenaeus is most explicit on all these points: according to him faith is proved and its enemies confounded equally by Scripture and tradition (Adv. Ha^r., iii, 2), but the authentic guardian of both is the Church, i. e. the bishops as successors of the Apostles: "Apostolic tradition is manifested through- out the world, and everywhere in the Church it is within the reach of those who desire to know the truth, for we can enumerate the bishops established by the Apostles, as well as their successors down to our own times" (op. cit., iii). To these guardians and to them alone we should have recourse with confidence: "The truth which it is easy to know through the Church must not be sought elsewhere; in the Church in which as in a rich treasury, the Apostles deposited in its fulness all that concerns the truth : from her who- soever desires it shall receive the draught of life. She herself is the gate of life; all the others are thieves and robbers" (iii, 4). Such is the authority of the living tradition that, in default of Scrijiture, recourse must be had to tradition alone. "What would have become of us if the A]iostles had not left us the Scriptures? Would we not have to rely on that tradi- tion which they confided to those to whom they coni- mitted the government of the Churches? This is what is done by many barbarian peoples who believe in Christ and who bear the law of salvation written in their hearts by the Holy Spirit without ink or l)aper and who faithfully preserve the ancient tradi- tion" (iii, 4). It is |)lain that with the .assistance of the Holy Ghost the teaching authority of the Church is preserved from error: "Where the Church is, there is the Spirit of God; and where the Spirit of God is there is the Church with every grace, and the Spirit is truth" (iii, 24). "That is why obedience must be r(!ndered to the presbyters who are in the Church, and who having succeeded the Apostles, together with the episcopal succession have received by the will of the Father a certain charisma of truth" (iv, 20). This is far removed from the half-way as- sertions and the restrictions of the Oxford School. The same conclusion may be drawn from Tertullian's