THE THRONE IN THE TIME OF STORMS
ous. But Rome was only about to draw all the consequences of its past history to the attention of a present which both positively and negatively demanded that such conclusions be drawn. Catholic liber- alism in anti-Gallican France, the German struggle for freedom of the Church, Jesuit theology, the historical school of Moehler, Doellinger and their disciples, which sooner or later was bound to be caught in a conflict between free inquiry and dogma, and finally also the mood of a lower clergy oppressed by its bishops as well as a concurrent enthusiasm of the masses for new forms of devotion, which had been consciously associated with the Papal idea: all these ways led to Rome. There, however, in view of the ominously noiseless catastrophe by which the Divine principle was disappearing from amidst the peoples, the wish was harboured to remind all of the fact of the Church's existence in all its greatness and awfulness and to face the most signal danger which this Church confronted as a result of modern civiliza- tion the danger of becoming a mere "Catholicism," an idea torn asunder from the real essence and existence of the Church, the truth and importance of which would be dependent solely upon the yes or no of man and society. If the Church was to remain a living or- ganism whose word, strength and mission hailed from the world be- yond, it must imperatively re-emphasize the fact that it was a source of salvation and a representative instance of trancendental life. It was impossible to do all this more impressively, more obviously than through the steps taken by the Vatican Council to define the nature of the Papal teaching authority.
The question of infallibility in the realm of faith and morals was not the sole concern of the Council, but it aroused by all odds the largest measure of attention. It had excited minds in France, Germany and England, before the Council ever met; and the nine months during which it was under discussion constituted one single, stormy day. Preliminary debates in the several countries and nations had revealed deep-rooted antagonisms and evoked expressions of hostility. Four- teen of the twenty German bishops sent a letter to the Pope requesting him to abandon the idea of the definition. There, as in France and elsewhere, men passionately devoted to the faith, loyal to the Church and affectionately submissive to Rome were among the opposition. The theological thesis of infallibility which St. Robert Bellarmine had