The influence of a Church on the family and on education, on the use of wealth or of authority, on the spirit of obedience or of revolt, on habits of initiation or of inertia, of enjoyment or of abstention, of charity or of egoism, on the entire current train of daily practice and of dominant impulsions, in every branch of private or public life, is immense, and constitutes a distinct and permanent social force of the highest order.
Every political calculation is unsound if it is omitted or treated as something of no consequence, and the head of a State is bound to comprehend the nature of it if he would estimate its grandeur. This is what Napoleon does. As usual with him, in order to see deeper into others, he begins by examining himself. I am the watch that runs, but unconscious of itself. But knowledge comes and we stop short.
Instruction and history, you see, are the great enemies of religion, disfigured by the imperfections of humanity. I once had faith. But when I came to know something, as soon as I began to reason, which happened early, at the age of thirteen, my faith staggered and became uncertain.
I do not believe in religions. The idea of a God! Nevertheless, since they belong to human nature, let us accept them like so many streams tumbling down a slope, except on condition that they remain in their own beds and have, many of them, no new beds and not one bed alone by itself.
The Catholic, Reformed, and Lutheran systems, established by the Concordat, are sufficient. Their direction and force are intelligible, and their irruptions can be guarded against. Moreover, the present inclinations and configuration of the human soil favor them; the child follows the road marked out by the parent, and the man follows the road marked out by the child. It affected me, so strong is the force of early habits and education! I said to myself, What an impression this must make on simple, credulous souls!
After all, the general effect of Christianity is salutary. Society 5 could not exist without an inequality of fortunes, and an inequality of fortunes without religion. A man dying of starvation Edition: current; Page: [ 6 ] alongside of one who is surfeited would not yield to this difference unless he had some authority which assured him that God so orders it that there must be both poor and rich in the world, but that in the future, and throughout eternity, the portion of each will be changed. The clergy, in its cassock, is an additional spiritual gendarmerie, 1 much more efficient than the temporal gendarmerie in its stout boots, while the essential thing is to make both keep step together in concert.
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Between the two domains, between that which belongs to civil authority and that which belongs to religious authority, is there any line of separation? I see only clouds, obscurities, difficulties. The civil government condemns a criminal to death; the priest gives him absolution and offers him paradise. As these authorities may clash with each other, let us prevent conflicts and leave no undefined frontier; let us trace this out beforehand; let us indicate what our part is and not allow the Church to encroach on the State. They retain the soul and fling me the corpse! In Turkey, and throughout the Orient, the Koran serves as both a civil and religious bible.
Only in Christianity do we find the pontificate distinct from the civil government. The head of the French government would then, by legislative statute, be the supreme head of the French Church. Unfortunately, this is repugnant to France. It is not his aim 4 to change the faith of his people; he respects spiritual objects and wants to rule them without meddling with them; his aim is to make these square with his views, with his policy, but only through the influence of temporal concerns.
We have only to open our eyes to see it; right or wrong, spiritual authority on this distinct domain is recognized sovereign, obeyed, effective through the persistent, verified loyalty of believers. It cannot be done away with by supposing it non-existent; on the contrary, a competent statesman will maintain it in order to make use of it and apply it to civil purposes.
Like an engineer who comes across a prolific spring near his manufactory, he will not try to dry it up, nor let the water be dispersed and lost; he has no idea of letting it remain inactive; on the contrary, he collects it, digs channels for it, directs and economizes the flow, and renders the water serviceable in his workshops. In the Catholic Church, the authority to be won and utilized is that of the clergy over believers and that of the sovereign pontiff over the clergy.
Their influence must be got rid of, and to Edition: current; Page: [ 9 ] do this the authority of the Pope is essential; he can dismiss or make them resign. The bishops having once been consecrated by the Pope, nobody save a Gregory or some antiquarian canonist will dispute their jurisdiction. The ecclesiastical ground is thus cleared through the interposition of the Pope. The three groups of authorities thereon which contend with each other for the possession of consciences 2 —the refugee bishops in England, the apostolic vicars, and the constitutional clergy—disappear, and now the cleared ground can be built on.
The First Consul nominates fifty bishops whom the Pope consecrates. The latter may be sworn, while the priests who do not submit are sent out of the country. Those who preach against the Edition: current; Page: [ 10 ] government are handed over to their superiors for punishment. The Pope confirms the sale of clerical possessions; he consecrates the Republic. They feel that they are not only tolerated, but protected by it, and they are grateful. A great public want is satisfied.
Over and above this positive and real service obtained from the sovereign pontiff, he awaits others yet more important and undefined, and principally his future coronation in Notre Dame.
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We shall see! I am Charlemagne, because, like Charlemagne, I unite the French crown to that of the Lombards, and my empire borders on the Orient. I would have brought him to no longer regretting his temporality; I would have made him an idol. He would have lived alongside of me. Paris would have become the capital of Christendom, and I would have governed the religious world the same as the political world. I would have had my religious as well as legislative sessions; my councils would have represented Christianity; the Popes would have been merely their presidents.
I would have opened and closed these assemblies, sanctioned and published their decrees, as was done by Constantine and Charlemagne. He is already nearly fully installed in Paris, his person being all that was lacking. The district around Notre Dame and the Ile St.
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Louis was to be the headquarters of Christendom! Peter at Rome. Napoleon, far more Italian than French, Italian by race, instinct, imagination, and souvenirs, considers in his plan the future of Italy, and, on casting up the final accounts of his reign, we find that the net profit is for Italy and the net loss is for France. This was to be the immortal trophy erected in his honor.
He awaited impatiently the birth of a second son that he might take him to Rome, crown him King of Italy and proclaim the independence of the great peninsula under the regency of Prince Eugene. Napoleon prepares the way, and constitutes it beforehand by restoring the Pope to his primitive condition, by withdrawing from him his temporal sovereignty and limiting his spiritual omnipotence, by reducing him to the position of managing director of Catholic consciences and head minister of the principal cult authorized in the empire.
In carrying out this plan, he will use the French clergy in mastering the Pope, as the Pope has been made use of in mastering the French clergy. To this end, before completing the Concordat and decreeing the Organic Articles, he orders for himself a small library, consisting of books on ecclesiastical law. The Latin works of Bossuet are translated for him, and he has drawn up an exposition of the Gallican parliamentary doctrine.
The first thing is to go down to the roots of the subject, which he does with extraordinary facility, and then, recasting and shaping all theories to suit himself, he arrives at an original, individual conception, at once coherent, precise, and practical; one which covers the ground and which he applies alike to all churches, Catholic, Lutheran, Calvinist, and even Jewish, to every religious community now existing and in time to Edition: current; Page: [ 15 ] come.
But let it transgress these limits, address the public, bring people together in crowds for a common purpose, manifest itself openly, it is subject to control; forms of worship, ceremonies, preaching, instruction and propagandism, the donations it calls forth, the assemblies it convenes, the organization and maintenance of the bodies it engenders, all the positive applications of the inward revery, are temporal works.
In this sense, they form a province of the public domain, and come within the competency of the government, of the administration and of the courts. The State has a right to interdict, to tolerate, or to authorize them, and always to give them proper direction. Sole and universal proprietor of the outward realm in which single consciences may communicate with each other, it intervenes, step by step, either to trace or to bar the way; the road they follow passes over its ground and belongs to it; its watch, accordingly, over their proceedings is, and should be, daily; and it maintains this watch for its own advantage, for the advantage of civil and political interests, in such a way that concern for the other world may be serviceable and not prejudicial to matters which belong to this one.
On this theme, his legists, old parliamentarians or conventionalists, his ministers and counsellors, Gallicans or Jacobins, his spokesmen in the legislative assembly or the tribunate, all imbued with Roman law or with the Contrat Social, are capital mouthpieces for proclaiming the omnipotence of the State in well-rounded periods. All the professors of Protestant or Catholic seminaries shall be appointed and paid by the government.
Whatever the seminary, whether Protestant or Catholic, its establishment, its regulations, its internal management, the object and spirit of its studies, shall be submitted to the approval of the government.
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In this way, the ascendency of the State, in ecclesiastical matters, increases beyond all measure and remains without any counterpoise. Instead of one Church, it maintains four, while the principal one, the Catholic, comprising thirty-three millions of followers, and more dependent than under the old monarchy, loses the privileges which once limited or compensated it for its subjection. Of all these obligations which kings accepted, the new sovereign frees himself, and yet, with the Holy See, he holds on to the same prerogatives and, with the Church, the same rights as his predecessors.
He is just as minutely dictatorial as formerly with regard to the details of worship. Bishops and priests should not be allowed to exercise this faculty. Thus bound and held by the State, the Church is simply one of its appendices, for its own free roots by which, in this close embrace, it still vegetates and keeps erect have all been cut off short; torn from the soil and grafted on the State, they derive their sap and their roots from the civil powers. In the Church, as elsewhere, it has extended the interference and preponderance of the State, not inadvertently but intentionally, not accidentally but on principle.
These are the grand lines of the new ecclesiastical establishment, and the general connections by which the Catholic Church, like an apartment in an edifice, finds itself comprehended in and incorporated with the State. It need not disconnect itself under the pretext of making itself more complete; there it is, built and finished; it cannot add to or go beyond this; no collateral and supplementary constructions are requisite which, through their independence, would derange the architectural whole, no monastic congregations, no body of regular clergy; the secular clergy suffices.