WHAT kind of obedience is that which makes religious "unwilling to

acknowledge any superior but the Pope?" We have been confidently

informed this is the ground given in several instances for their

removal. And we confess that, if the words "acknowledge" and "superior"

are used in certain of the meanings they undoubtedly have, there is

good and sufficient ground for such removal. At the same time we submit

that the fore
oing phrase is open to different interpretations of

meaning, several of which would make out this measure of repression to

be one of rank injustice.

The studied misrule and abuse of language serves a detestable purpose

that is only too evident. A charge like the above is true and false,

that is to say, it is neither true nor false; it says nothing, unless

explained, or unless you make it say what you wish. It is a sure, safe,

but cowardly way of destroying an enemy without being obliged to admit

the guilt to oneself.

Now the religious, and Catholic laity as well, never think of

acknowledging, in the full acceptation of the word, any other spiritual

superior than the Pope, and there can be nothing in this deserving

repression. Again, no Catholic may consistently with Catholic

principles, refuse to accept as legitimate the legally constituted

authority of the country in which he resides. As to a man's views on

the different forms of government, that is nobody's business but his

own. But whether he approves or disapproves in theory, his life and

conduct must conform with the laws justly enacted under the form of

Government that happens to be accepted. To depart from this rule is to

go counter to Catholic teaching, and no religious order does so without

incurring strict censure.

The vow of obedience in a religious respects Caesar as well as God. It

cannot validly bind one to violate the laws of State any more than to

violate the law of God. This vow does not even concern itself with

civil and political matters; by it the religious alone is affected, the

citizen looks out for himself. But the citizen is already bound by his

conscience and the laws of the Church to respect and obey lawful


A good religious is a good citizen, and he cannot be the former, if he

is not the latter. As a mere Catholic, he is more liable to be always

found on the side of good citizenship, because in his religion he is

taught, first of all, to respect authority on which all his religious

convictions are based. There is a natural tendency in a Protestant, who

will have nothing to do with authority in spiritual matters, to bring

this state of mind over with him into temporary affairs; being

self-willed in greater things, he is fore-inclined to be self-willed

in lesser. The Catholic and, for a greater reason, the religious knows

less of this temptation; and the better Catholic and religious he is,

the farther removed he is from possible revolt against, or even

disrespect of, authority.

Against but one Order of all those repressed can the charge of

insubordination be brought with any show of truth. The Assumptionists

made the mistake of thinking that they could with impunity criticise

the doings of the Government, just as it is done in Paris every day by

the boulevard press. It is generally conceded that, considering the

well-known attitude of the Government towards the order, this was a

highly imprudent course for a religious paper to pursue. But their

right to do so is founded on the privilege of free speech. It takes

very little to find abuse of free speech in the utterances of the

clergy or religious in France. They are safe only when they are silent.

If there were less docility and more defiance in their attitude, if the

French Catholics relied less on God and more on man for redress, they

would receive more justice than they have been receiving.

The punishment meted out to the religious for their insubordination has

had, we are told, a doleful effect on the temporal power of the Pope,

an interesting patch of which has been broken up by the new French law.

It is a mystery to us how this law can affect the temporal power of the

Pope any more than the political status of Timbuctoo. It is passably

difficult to make an impression on what has ceased to exist these

thirty years. We thought the temporal power was dead. This bit of news

has been dinned into our ears until we have come to believe. No

conference, synod or council is considered by our dissenting friends

without a good strong sermon on this topic. Strange that it should

resurrect just in time to lose "an interesting patch" of itself! This

is cruelty. Why not respect the grave? We recommend the perusal of the

obituary of the temporal power written in Italian politics since the

year 1870. We believe the tomb is carefully guarded.