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 t
e 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.