Seize the first Apostle’s sword,
Peter’s glowing sword, and smite! Scatter far the savage horde;
Break their wild, impetuous might!
Let them feel the yoke of yore, Let them bear it evermore!
What with blood in Marius’ day, Marius and his soldiers brave, Or by Julius’ mighty sway, Romans did their land to save; Thou canst do by simple word. Great the Church’s holy sword! Rome made great again by thee Offers all thy meed of praise; Not for Scipio’s victory Did it louder paeans raise, Nor entwine the laurel crown For a deed of more renown.
Who is it that is thus addressed, a bishop or a Caesar? A Caesar, I imagine; it was felt to be so then, and it is still felt to be so to- day. It is an Empire that this priestly Caesar rules, and to attack it with the armament of dogmatic polemics alone is to beat the air.
I cannot here show what immense results follow from the fact that the Catholic Church is the Roman Empire. Let me mention only a few conclusions which the Church itself draws. It is just as essential to this Church to exercise governmental power as to proclaim the Gospel. The phrase “Christus vincit, Christus regnat, Christus triumphat,” must be understood in a political sense. He rules on earth by the fact that his Rome-directed Church rules, and rules, too, by law and by force; that is to say, it employs all the means of which States avail themselves. Accordingly it recognises no form of religious fervour which does not first of all submit to this papal Church, is approved by it, and remains in constant dependence upon it. This Church, then, teaches its “subjects” to say: “Though I understand all mysteries, and though I have all faith, and though I bestow all my goods to feed the poor, and though I give my body to be burned, and have not unity in love which alone floweth from unconditional obedience to the Church, it profiteth me nothing.” Outside the pale of the Church, all faith, all love, all the virtues, even martyrdoms, are of no value whatever. Naturally; for even an earthly State appreciates only those services which a man has rendered for its sake. But here the State identifies itself with the kingdom of Heaven, in other respects proceeding just like other States. From this fact you can yourselves deduce all the Church’s claims; they follow without difficulty. Even the most exorbitant demand appears quite natural as soon as you only admit the truth of the two leading propositions: “The Roman Church is the kingdom of God,” and “The Church must govern like an earthly State.” It is not to be denied that Christian motives have also had a hand in this development—the desire to bring the Christian religion into a real connexion with life, and to make its influence felt in every situation, that may arise, as well as anxiety for the salvation of individuals and of nations. How many earnest Catholic Christians there have been who had no other real desire than to establish Christ’s rule on earth and build up his kingdom! But while there can be no doubt that their intention, and the energy with which they put their hands to the work, made them superior to the Greeks, there can be as little that it is a serious misunderstanding of Christ’s and the apostles’ injunctions to aim at establishing and building up the kingdom of God by political means. The only forces which this kingdom knows are religious and moral forces, and it rests on a basis of freedom. But when a Church comes forward with the claims of an earthly State, it is bound to make use of all the means at the disposal of that State, including, therefore, crafty diplomacy and force; for the earthly State, even a State governed by law, must on occasion become a State that acts contrary to law. The course of development which this Church has followed as an earthly State was, then, bound to lead logically to the absolute monarchy of the Pope and his infallibility; for in an earthly theocracy infallibility means, at bottom, nothing more than full sovereignty means in a secular State. That the Church has not shrunk from drawing this last conclusion is a proof of the extent to which the sacred element in it has become secularised.