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OWING to the disturbance over things religious in France, vows and
those who exemplify them in their lives are receiving of late a large
share of public attention. On this topic, it seems, every one is
qualified to speak; all sorts of opinions have been ventilated in the
religious, the non-religious, and the irreligious press, for the
benefit of those who are interested in this pitiful spasm of Gallic
madness against the Almighty and His Church. The measure of
unparalleled tyranny and injustice, in which antipathy to religious
orders has found expression, is being favorably and unfavorably
commented upon. But since monks, friars and nuns seldom find favor with
the non Catholic world, the general verdict is that the religious, like
the anarchist, must go; society is afraid of both and is safe from

To Catholics who understand human nature and have read history, this
condition of things is not surprising; it is, we might venture to say,
the normal state of mind in relation to things so intensely Catholic is
religious vows. Antagonism against monasticism was born the day Luther
decided to take a wife; and as long as that same spirit lingers on
earth we shall expect this antagonism to thrive and prosper. Not only
that, but we shall never expect the religious to get a fair hearing
for their cause. The hater, open or covert, of the habit and cowl is
whole-souled or nothing in his convictions. And he believes the devil
should be fought with his own weapons.

We do not expect all men to think as we do concerning the merits of the
religious profession. To approve it without restriction would be to
approve the Church. To find no wrong in it would be indicative of a
dangerous Romish tendency. And we are not prepared to assert that any
such symptoms exist to an alarming extent in those who expatiate on
religious topics these latter days. There will be differences of
opinion on this score, as on many others, and one fellow's opinion is
as good, to himself, as another's.

There are even objections, to many an honest man, serious objections,
that may be brought up and become legitimate matter for discussion. We
take it for granted that intelligent men do not oppose an institution
as venerable as monasticism without reasons. Contention between people
who respect intelligence is always based on what has at least a
semblance of truth, and has for its object to detect reality and label
it as distinct from appearance.

We go farther, and admit that there have been abuses in this system of
perfection, abuses that we were the first to detect, the first to
deplore and feel the shame of it. But before we believed it, we
investigated and made sure it was so. We found out very often that the
accusations were false. Scandalmongers and dishonest critics noted the
charges, but forgot to publish the verdict, and naturally with the
public these charges stand. No wonder then that such tales breed
antipathy and hatred among those who are not in position to control

A queer feature about this is that people do not give religious credit
for being human. That they are flesh and blood, all agree; that they
should err, is preposterous. A hue-and-cry goes up when it becomes
known that one of these children of Adam has paid the penalty of being
human. One would think an angel had fallen from heaven. We notice in
this attitude an unconscious recognition of the sanctity of the
religious state; but we see behind it a Pharisaic spirit that
exaggerates evil at the expense of justice.

Now, if the principle that abuse destroys use is applied to all things,
nothing will remain standing, and the best will go first. Corruptio
optimi pessima. Everything human is liable to abuse; that which is
not, is divine. Religious and laymen, mortals all, the only time it
is beyond our power to do wrong is when we are dead, buried, and
twenty-four hours underground. If in life we make mistakes, the fault
lies, not in our being of this or that profession, but in being human.
Whatever, therefore, the excesses that religious can be proven guilty
of, the institution itself must not be held responsible, unless it can
be shown that there exists a relation of cause and effect. And whoever
reasons otherwise, abuses the intelligence of his listeners.

We desire, in the name of honesty and fairness, to see less of that
spirit that espies all manner of evil beneath the habit of a religious;
that discovers in convents and monasteries plotting against the State
in favor of the Papacy, the accumulation of untold wealth by oppression
and extortion for the satisfaction of laziness and lust, iniquity of
the deepest dye allied to general worthlessness. Common sense goes a
long way in this world. If it were only a less rare commodity, and if
an effective tribunal could be erected for the suppression of
mendacity, the religious would appear for the first time in history in
their true colors before the world, and light would shine in darkness.



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