The Catholic Manual: An Exposition Of The Controverted Doctrines Of The Catholic Church 1836
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Attempts such as that of Trent in a humanist vein had been made by Cardinal Stanislaus hosius, Confessio catholicae fidei christianae vel potius explicatio quaedam confessionis (Vienna 1561), and by Bp. Friedrich nausea, In catholicum catechismum libri sex (Cologne 1543); but all three were fated to lose out in popular exposition to the medieval lists or "truths." Canisius genuinely admired Trent's catechism but his neater summaries and classifications prevailed. Bellarmine said it was his model, but it is doubtful that he understood the attempt it represented. In fact, the little use (more accurately, the highly selective use) made of it by catechism authors since 1566 is perhaps the most notable feature about it. There is reason to think this handbook was quite influential in the pulpit over the years, but again, in proportion to the capacities of the priests who used it. It is quite unmarked by a polemical tone once it has mentioned "pernicious errors" in the introduction. The same introduction gives high promise of a throughgoing evangelical or kerygmatic theology that is never realized. The times were simply incapable of it, the more especially as a genuine evangelical release was overtaking the Church in tandem with unmistakably heretical positions.
At the seventh session the final dogmatic profession of the council was drawn up. It followed the now traditional fashion of a declaration of faith, beginning with the creed of Nicaea and anathematizing all past heretics--Pope Honorius among them, but not (curiously) the Three Chapters. Coming to the crucial point, "We define," the decree states, "that, as with the priceless, life-giving cross, so with the venerable and holy images, they may be set up in their various forms in the churches, on the sacred vessels and vestments, on the walls; likewise in private houses, and along the wayside.... The more often we look upon them, the more vividly are our minds turned to the memory of those whom they represent ... to give to them, the images, an adoration of honour, but not, however, the true latria, which, as our faith teaches, is to be given only to the divine nature ... so that, like the holy cross, the gospels, and the relics of the saints, to these images offerings of incense and lights may be made, as was the pious custom of our ancestors. For the honour rendered to the image passes to that which the image represents, and whoever adores an image adores the person it depicts. For in this way, is the teaching of the holy Fathers strengthened, that is to say, the tradition of the holy catholic church, receiving the gospel, from one end of the world to the other.... Those, therefore, who dare to think or to teach otherwise, or, as the wicked heretics do, to spurn these traditions of the church ... if they are priests or bishops, let them be deposed; if monks or laymen, let them be excommunicated." And the decree ends with words of praise for the two bishops who had been leading opponents of the heresy, Germanos of Constantinople and George of Cyprus, and for the great theologian whose writings had been the heart of the resistance, John Mansour, John of Damascus, our St. John Damascene.
But there is in it not a word of criticism for the pope. The document is written as though he had had no share in the council at all, and it contains the remonstrance that "Whenever a dispute arises about matters of belief, we must consult the holy, roman, catholic and apostolic church, which is set in authority over the other churches"; understand, perhaps, "and not a synod of Greek bishops." For the note that sounds through all this polemic "is not so much one of hostility to the doctrine set out at Nicaea, as to the fact of these Greeks sitting in council and giving forth as though they were the infallible rulers of Christendom." The trouble is that there is now a second empire in Christendom, although its chief as yet only calls himself king--and this chief is a genius, and as passionately interested in culture and religion as in politics and war, and this new western potentate will not tolerate that questions of doctrine shall be decided for the whole church by a council of those churches where his Byzantine rival is lord. That the force behind the Caroline Books and the law called the Capitulary About Images, and behind the action, regarding the council of 787, of the council about to meet in 794 at Frankfurt, is a political force is what no man can easily deny.
Beyond the fact of Christian revelation the Protestant apologist does not proceed. But the Catholic rightly insists that the scope of apologetics should not end here. Both the New Testament records and those of the sub-Apostolic age bear witness that Christianity was meant to be something more than a religious philosophy of life, more than a mere system of individual belief and practice, and that it cannot be separated historically from a concrete form of social organization. Hence Catholic apologetics adds, as a necessary sequel to the established fact of Christian revelation, the demonstration of the true Church of Christ and its identity with the Roman Catholic Church. From the records of the Apostles and their immediate successors is set forth the institution of the Church as a true, unequal society, endowed with the supreme authority of its Founder, and commissioned in His name to teach and sanctify mankind; possessing the essential features of visibility, indefectibility, and infallibility; characterized by the distinctive marks of unity, holiness, catholicity, and apostolicity. These notes of the true Church of Christ are then applied as criteria to the various rival Christian denominations of the present day, with the result that they are found fully exemplified in the Roman Catholic Church alone. With the supplementary exposition of the primacy and infallibility of the Pope, and of the rule of faith, the work of apologetics is brought to its fitting close. It is true that some apologists see fit to treat also of inspiration and the analysis of the act of faith. But, strictly speaking, these are not apologetic subjects. While they may logically be included in the prolegomena of dogmatic theology, they rather belong, the one to the province of Scripture-study, the other to the tract of moral theology dealing with the theological virtues. 2b1af7f3a8