What did the Roman Catholic Church achieve? What are its characteristics?
What modifications has the Gospel suffered in this Church, and how much of it has remained?
What did the Roman Catholic Church achieve? Well, in the first place, it educated the Romano-Germanic nations, and educated them in a sense other than that in which the Eastern Church educated the Greeks, Slavs, and Orientals. However much their original nature, or primitive and historical circumstances, may have favoured those nations and helped to promote their rise, the value of the services which the Church rendered is not thereby diminished. It brought Christian civilisation to young nations, and brought it, not once only, so as to keep them at its first stage—no! it gave them something which was capable of exercising a progressive educational influence, and for a period of almost a thousand years it itself led the advance. Up to the fourteenth century it was a leader and a mother; it supplied the ideas, set the aims, and disengaged the forces. Up to the fourteenth century— thenceforward, as we may see, those whom it educated became independent, and struck out paths which it did not indicate, and on which it is neither willing nor able to follow them. But even so, however, during the period covered by the last six hundred years, it has not fallen so far behind as the Greek Church. With comparatively brief interruptions it has proved itself fully a match for the whole movement of politics—we in Germany know that well enough!— and even in the movement of thought it still has an important share. The time, of course, is long past since it was a leader; on the contrary, it is now a drag; but, in view of the mistaken and precipitate elements in modern progress, the drag which it supplies is not always the reverse of a blessing.