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tinctly recognizable ; not merely men noted for talent or learning, or even for virtue, since these tests are too vague and doubtful. They must, therefore, be men occupying some definite position in the Church; they must naturally belong to the clergy, since teaching the faith belongs to them, if anything does; and to the highest and most distinguished rank of the clergy, if such ranks exist in it.

As it is, then, only among those Christians who recognize such ranks or grades in the clergy that this belief in a certain living authority in matters exists, only two opinions can well exist upon this point. One is, that the whole body of bishops must be called to a council, and that this council, with the assistance of the Holy Spirit, determines the faith; or that one or more of them have been, by a special Divine prerogative, appointed to this office.

The latter is the teaching of the Catholic Church, as formulated in the Vatican Council. Its decision necessarily removes the doubts of such as might otherwise have held that the meeting of the bishops generally was necessary for authoritative judgments on points of faith; for here they have their own authority speaking:

The Vatican Council, then, teaches unequivocally that the supreme power in determining matters of faith rests in the person of the Pope,

whom Catholics regard as the successor of St. Peter in the Apostolic See of Rome.

We will proceed, then, in the next chapter to discuss this matter of the infallibility, as it is called, of the Pope; to explain just wh. is meant by it, and to remove misapprehensions which may exist.



IT ought to be clear from what has been said



that the special prerogative which Catholics now unhesitatingly and universally believe to have been conferred on the Pope by the Divine Founder of Christianity has a very special and limited range, though certainly very complete in its proper domain. It consists in his ability to decide questions concerning religion about which there might be room for doubt in the minds of Christians, either on account of there being a large number of adherents, or apparently strong arguments, on both sides of the questions. Of course if an opinion is clearly supported by the plain text of Scripture, or if it has been held by general consent in the Church as being of faith, or if it has been settled by a previous decision, there is no need for the Pope to interfere ; and in point of fact he seldom does


But still a good many cases have occurred, and probably will occur, in which such an adjudication becomes necessary. It is not required that an appeal should be made to him; he acts as it seems expedient to himself, not neglecting, however, in matters of considerable doubt to take advice from learned men.

In the more important questions which occasionally arise, it has always been deemed more prudent to formally convoke the whole episcopate in a general or cecumenical council, and not only to hear their opinions, but to take their vote on the matter; for the bishops are not merely advisers, but really judges of the faith with the Pope. But the decision of their majority would not be accepted unless confirmed by him.

Now, let it be clearly understood that it is not the office of the Pope to act as one inspired, to receive or to give to the world any new revelation. It is merely to decide what the original deposit, as we call it, of faith was, as committed by Christ to His apostles; or, in other words, to repeat the decisions which the apostles themselves would have made with regard to the doctrines of Christianity.

Still less is it his office to settle matters of science, or ordinary questions of fact of any kind. Not but what the domains claimed at least by science, and those of faith, may some


times overlap; as, for instance, they may to some extent in the matter of evolution, especially if that is supposed to apply to the human soul; or as they certainly do when so-called science asserts that matter existed from all eternity. I say "so-called " science, for it is plain that we

never by scientific investigation arrive at any proof of a hypothesis of this nature. And even questions of historical fact may belong to faith, by being necessarily connected with some of its dogmas, or by forming part of the inspired record of Holy Scripture; there would, for instance, be a confiict of history or geology with the Church if it should be asserted, in the name of either of these branches of learning, that the account of the deluge was simply a myth.

But conflicts of this sort are very rare. Practically a Catholic is not impeded in any kind of study or investigation by any fear of Papal condemnation.

Further—and this is an important and much misapprehended point-it would be an mous mistake to suppose that the Pope is considered infallible, even on matters of faith, in his ordinary conversation; nor is he believed to be so in preaching ; nor necessarily in his writings concerning matters of religion. In order that he should be infallible, it is necessary that he should act formally as the teacher of the whole Church, as the successor of the apostles;


and practically we may say it is necessary that his teaching should not be given by word of mouth, but in writing, in a regular document; for if he merely spoke, some uncertainty would exist as to what he actually saidd, whatever means might be taken to report it.

And yet, though all this is well known and understood among Catholics, how many Protestants there are who imagine that we believe the Pope to be incapable of error, 110 matter what he is speaking about, or in what way or under what circumstances he expresses his thoughts; or perliaps that we even regard him as infallible in the very thoughts themselves !

Great as this error is, many fal? into an error much greater. It is often supposed, iudeed we sometimes see it stated, or what is even worse, calmly assumed, in the literature of the day, that Catholics believe the Pope to be incapable of doing anything morally wrong. Infallibility is confounded with impeccability. One would suppose that the English language would be better understood; indeed, on other subjects the writers of this nonsense seem to be men of fair accuracy. It is only in speaking of us that they make these absurd blunders.

This whole notion is simply ridiculous. Good Catholics have, indeed, generally a respect for the clergy; at least they have a high idea of what their character should be, and when

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