INTOLERANCE is a harsh term. It is stern, rigid, brutal, almost. It

makes no compromise, combats a outrance and exacts blind and absolute

obedience. Among individuals tolerance should prevail, man, should be

liberal with man, the Law of Charity demands it. In regard to

principles, there must and shall eternally be antagonism between truth

and error, justice demands it. It is a case of self-preservation; one

destroys th
other. Political truth can never tolerate treason preached

or practised; neither can religious truth tolerate unbelief and heresy

preached or practised.

Now our faith is based on truth, the Church is the custodian of faith,

and the Church, on the platform of religious truth, is absolutely

uncompromising and intolerant, just as the State is in regard to

treason. She cannot admit error, she cannot approve error; to do so

would be suicidal. She cannot lend the approval of her presence, nay

even of her silence, to error. She stands aloof from heresy, must

always see in it an enemy, condemns it and cannot help condemning it,

for she stands for truth, pure and unalloyed truth, which error

pollutes and outrages.

Call this what you will, but it is the attitude of honesty first, and

of necessity afterwards. "He who is liberal with what belongs to him is

generous, he who undertakes to be generous with what does not belong to

him is dishonest." Our faith is not founded on an act or agreement of

men, but on the revelation of God. No human agency can change or modify

it. Neither Church nor Pope can be liberal with the faith of which they

are the custodians. Their sole duty is to guard and protect it as a

precious deposit for the salvation of men.

This is the stand all governments take when there is question of

political truth. And whatever lack of generosity or broadmindedness

there be, however contrary to the spirit of this free age it may seem,

it is nevertheless the attitude of God Himself who hates error, for it

is evil, who pursues it with His wrath through time and through

eternity. How can a custodian of divine truth act otherwise? Even in

human affairs, can one admit that two and three are seven?

We sometimes hear it said that this intolerance takes from Catholics

the right to think. This is true in the same sense that penitentiaries,

or the dread of them, deprive citizens of the right to act. Everybody,

outside of sleeping hours and with his thinking machine in good order,

thinks. Perhaps if there were a little more of it, there would be more

solid convictions and more practical faith. Holy Writ has it somewhere

that the whole world is given over to vice and sin because there is no

one who thinks.

But you have not and never had the right to think as you please, inside

or outside the Church. This means the right to form false judgments, to

draw conclusions contrary to fact. This is not a right, it is a defect,

a disease. Thus to act is not the normal function of the brain. It is

no more the nature of the mind to generate falsehoods than it is the

nature of a sewing machine to cut hair. Both were made for different

things. He therefore who disobeys the law that governs his mind

prostitutes that faculty to error.

But suppose, being a Catholic, I cannot see things in that true light,

what then? In such a case, either you persist, in the matter of your

faith, in being guided by the smoky lamp of your reason alone, or you

will be guided by the authority of God's appointed Church. In the first

alternative, your place is not in the Church, for you exclude yourself

by not living up to the conditions of her membership. You cannot deny

but that she has the right to determine those conditions.

If you choose the latter, then correct yourself. It is human to err,

but it is stupidity to persist in error and refuse to be enlightened.

If you cannot see for yourself, common sense demands that you get

another to see for you. You are not supposed to know the alpha and

omega of theological science, but you are bound to possess a

satisfactory knowledge in order that your faith be reasonable.

Has no one a right to differ from the Church? Yes, those who err

unconsciously, who can do so conscientiously, that is, those who have

no suspicion of their being in error. These the heavenly Father will

look after and bring safe to Himself, for their error is material and

not formal. He loves them but He hates their errors. So does the Church

abominate the false doctrines that prevail in the world outside her

fold, yet at the same time she has naught but compassion and pity and

prayers for those deluded ones who spread and receive those errors. To

her the individual is sacred, but the heresy is damnable.

Thus we may mingle with our fellow citizens in business and in

pleasure, socially and politically, but religiously--never. Our charity

we can offer in its fullest measure, but charity that lends itself to

error, loses its sacred character and becomes the handmaid of evil, for

error is evil.