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OTHER CRITICS CRITICISED.
As I opened the Globe Notes of the last issue with references to various letters more or less complimentary that came in on the fifth day after the day of publication of the previous issue, so I open this issue with a broadside of praise and blame from a priest who requests that his name be not given, but who sufficiently defines himself; a priest whom I have never seen and whose criticism reached me on the fifth day after the June issue.
There may be something mysterious in this recurrence of the fifth day. I did not design to make it famous. I believe I called my first book of poems, "Quintets;" but the fool critics, not noticing that a large majority of the poems were composed of five verses or stanzas, directly abused me for calling the book by such a name. Poor book, poor author and poor fool critics! How do we manage to live together? And there is an old saying about the fifth of November, you will please to remember; and the fifth in music, is it harmony or discord? At all events there are fifths in history may yet awaken the dead! But here is our critic and his burning words:
"Mr. Thome criticised by one his best friends, a priest. The Globe Review is the only publication that I read, and I read in it only the articles written by its editor. It is also the only periodical or journal of any kind that I ever subscribe for, and now, being unable to pay the subscription, Mr. Thome sends me The Globe free.
"For years I have received a great number of papers and magazines—complimentary—and a great many sample copies of almost everything usually sent to priests. I have long since found out that they are all Organs of the World, the Flesh and the Devil; for the most part, I think, without knowing it, because the so-called 'Catholic papers' are the worst; not having truth for a standard and not having wit enough to make them amusing. I have for fifteen years past used them for waste paper. They still come, in great numbers. Of course I used to read them, or should never have opened the sample copy of The Globe sent me many years ago, just when I was so sick of milk-and-water articles that I had concluded never to open another sample. So I used it as a window-prop for nearly a year, when the wrapper gave way. Some words of an article attracted my attention—and I have read it eagerly ever since. I consider Mr. Thonne the deepest, ablest and most charitable writer of the English language to-day, and that he has the widest and clearest view of the fundamental Truth of God and of Christ of any man living.
"Yet I hold that he is entirely mistaken an quite a number •of important points, which I shall mention later on.
"That his opinions are not all correct only proves the truth •of his own words: 'That no one man cam be master of every .subject.'
"His article on Reciprocity in the June issue, 1902, is a master-piece from first to last and his doctrine of Free Trade :the only solution and cure for all difficulties that this subject lis connected with.
■"But in that very article, om page 118, he says, T may be wrong. But if I am wrong, Jesus Christ is wrong.' This is as much as saying that Jesus Christ may be wrong. Mr. Thorne did not mean his words to mean this. It was only a 'Lapsus Pennae.' But in other issues he has repeated statements in which the whole teaching of the Catholic Church as such is against him.
"First, he says that Protestant ministers who join the Catholics are 'not Laymen' and should be allowed to preach. I agree with him that the Church would do well to use them for preachers; for God knows that most of them are better men than we priests; not only better preachers than the average Catholic priest, but such of them as Mr. Thorne, as Father Faber, outshine entirely the bright lights of the Church. Nevertheless, they are Laymen, pure and simple, until they receive some kind of Holy Orders from the successors of St. Peter, viz.: some real Bishop of the Catholic Church.
"Second, Mr. Thorne holds that a marriage contracted before a Justice, between a Catholic and an unbaptized person, without a dispensation from the Church, is valid. In other words, either that the Church can not or has not made this an 'Impedimentio Dirimens.' Mr. Thorne certainly believes that Christ could make impediments. He would die, I am sure, for this Faith. But the Church is Christ's mouth-piece, no matter how corrupt its members, its Priests or its Prelates— or even its Popes. It has the exact same power as Christ had Himself.
"Third, Mr. Thorne says that desertion, persisted in, frees the deserted party, so that said party can marry again. This put into practice would simply do away with marriage as a Sacrament, and allow Free Love, or rather Free Lust, to take its place.
"Finally, Mr. Thorne says that a marriage of tw» Catholics contracted before a Protestant minister is null and void as a Sacrament because it is a sacrilege; while the Church teaches that it is a sacrilege, precisely because it is a Sacrament. A sacrilege being the abuse of a sacrament, if the sacrament were not there, there could be no abuse of the same. If I consecrate in a state of mortal sin, the act is a sacrilege; but the consecration is valid, the sacrament is there, is actually produced there, Validly, though Illicitly. If I baptize or absolve in a state of mortal sin, in every case I commit a great sin and a sacrilege, but the act is valid.
"I believe Mr. Thorne to be a very great, a very good man, probably a saint; and I almost worship his ability and his clear view of truth on all the many subjects he has so thoroughly studied. But he either has not taken a real course of the Catholic Theology of Matrimony, or else he has missed the main point, viz.: that the effect of an act does not come from the virtue of the minister 'ex opere operantis,' but straight from God 'ex opere operato.'
"We priests and prelates should be as smart, and as saintly too, as good dear Mr. Thorne, but alas, we are neither.
"But the Church proper is never wrong, never can be wrong; and the acts of her representatives are valid, so long as they have been properly ordained, no matter how bad or stupid they may be as men."
My critic's first point is weakly taken. As I believe in the divinity of Christ, hence certainly in His infallibility, my statement simply could not be "as much as saying that Jesus Christ may be wrong." It was simply the use of an impossible negative to show the folly of those who opposed the teaching of the Golden Rule—in commerce, in politics or in private life. Don't read your own imaginations into my words!
In this connection it may be well to refer to the critic's final point. Mr. Thome has never, under any circumstances, "missed the main point" of this or of any subject he has ever treated. Mr. Thorne believes as thoroughly as his critic that the validity of the acts of a priest or a prelate does not depend upon the virtue or vice of said ecclesiastic, but inheres in the act by virtue of the ordination of the actor. Mr. Thorne also believes in the infallibility of the final word of the Church as expressed ex cathedra by the Pope and again regardless of the moral or immoral life of the Pope. Mr. Thorne is a Catholic and has said enough—and, if you will forgive this little slip, has suffered enough—to prove it. In your great charity be a little patient withal.
My critic's second point is not effective. I have never said that Protestant ministerial converts were "not laymen" from the ecclesiastical standpoint of the Catholic Church. I know better. Have had experience. And I have never advocated their preaching except as especially ordained to the work by duly appointed Catholic authority. I preach a heap, myself,— but I call it lay preaching—see? But, speaking in the abstract and absolute, they are not "laymen pure and simple," but laymen and more. A Protestant ordination is not a Catholic ordination, but it is an ordination all the same, with a divine meaning in it. Look into that, Mr. Priest!
In regard to my critic's third point, touching the marriage question—and that of marriage by or before a Justice, or without any Justice, parson or what not, Mr. Thorne simply says what the Church says that the parties to the contract or the Sacrament of Marriage—the man and the woman consenting thereto, agreeing thereto and living in confirmation of their agreement are the main, in fact the only necessary parties to the contract or sacrament. A Justice is simply a witness thereto. A priest is simply a witness thereto. The parties— anywhere and everywhere—after the manner of the Quakers, really marry themselves. And that when such a marriage takes place and is confirmed in life, it is binding for life; till broken by some act recognized as validly breaking it; and all this regardless of the question of baptism or religious belief of any kind.
Mr. Thome holds that the "Pauline Privilege," so-called, is not a privilege at all; but that Paul simply states a natural law of action and distinctly says, however, that in this particular case it is he, Paul, alone, and not God who is speaking.
Mr. Thome agrees wth Paul, and, as far as he can discover, the Church is not yet infallibly decided as to whether Paul was right or wrong. But every priest talks like the Almighty when said priest says anything on the subject; and the only infelicity in this case is that there is but one Almghty, and the priests differ so constantly that there is some difficulty in deciding which dominie is the real Simon pure.
Mr. Thome holds and has shown that the various teachings of the various representatives of the Church on this point are not up to this date a unity; are not an ex cathedra utterance; but every priest thinks he knows enough about God and every question of moral and social life to justify him in calling "a layman pure and simple" a heretic. "Speak for yourself, John I"
Let him remember the windows in his own shanty or palace and he may be less inclined to throw stones.
Marriage existed before the Christian priesthood or baptism, and the latter can not change its inherent nature and obligations no matter who says to the contrary.
Finally Mr. Thorne never said "that a marriage of two Catholics contracted before a Protestant minister is null and void;" but that it was not ecclesiastical and that therefore the Ecclesia had no right to treat it with ecclesiastical law. In truth, such a marriage—like every other, Quaker, Catholic, Protestant, or merely civil—is as binding as anything human can be. And the only essentially sacramental element, validity or virtue in it, is in this,—that the two parties to the contract each