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adversaries ; and M. Gambetta, in one celebrated phrase, provided the new policy with a party-cry which was destined to resound far and wide ; “Clericalism, that is the enemy . " His notion was to present his policy to the country not as a policy of hostility to religion, but merely as one of repression directed against the electoral activity of the clergy. It certainly was an ingenious cry, inasmuch as it apparently spared the religious feelings of a large section of the population, but the perfidiousness of it was bound to be exposed before long. As a matter of fact, as events have proved in the past and now prove more clearly than ever, in spite of the cloak of pretence with which it is attempted to hide the truth, it is really Catholicism which is attacked under the name of Clericalism. During the whole course of the campaign which was then initiated against the religious Congregations, it was the principle of the right to teach which came in for all the hard knocks. M. Jules Ferry proposed to deprive all the so-called “unauthorised Congregations” of that right; and though his proposal— which was not only repudiated by the Catholics, but owing to the influence of M. Dufaure and M. Jules Simon, produced a veritable upheaval of liberal feeling—was rejected by the Senate, its painful effects were felt when the Government, as a substitute for actual legislation, issued proscriptive edicts against the members of the Congregations. These repressive measures were initiated in 1880, and marked the beginning of the religious crisis which was revived four years ago after a long period of calm. In any case M. Jules Ferry had great statesmanlike qualities, and when, on the death of Gambetta in 1883, he became leader of the Republican party, he understood that no government of a country in which religious belief still possesses such a powerful influence could make shift with a policy of violent repression. He undertook the task of making possible to some extent the coexistence of the right to teach and of a powerfully organised system of State education which was to be completely secularised both as regards subjects and teachers, and devoted all his energies to the realisation of that system. The party in power followed his lead and faithfully seconded his efforts. The execution of the task that he had undertaken was the great achievement of the Republic of that period. While some of the new laws increased the strength, the prestige, and the authority of the University in every possible manner, others decreed and organised the absolute secularisation of public popular education ; that is to say, of the educational system to the maintenance of which the whole body of taxpayers contributes. The primary schools belonging to the State to which the ministers of religion had hitherto been given access, which in many cases were confided to the care of instructors who were members of the Congregations, and in which religious instruction formed part of the curriculum, were declared to be thenceforth, in theory at all events, entirely neutral ; that is to say, that though they were denuded of all sectarian characteristics, though even the idea of their duties towards God was no longer imparted to the pupils, though the moral instruction given was not allowed to be based on any form of definite belief, at all events assurances were given that no word should ever be uttered in those schools which might shock or alarm the faith of a child or of his family. To put the matter in a sentence, the education proposed to the people by the State was denuded not only of all sectarian admixture, but even of the most elementary religious conception : assuredly an audacious proposition, and one which was well calculated to disturb and terrify all Christian consciences. We must note, however, for it is essential to a clear comprehension of what is taking place to-day, that the laws which, from 1882 to 1886, gave effect to that proposition proclaimed the liberty of private instruction, subject, however, to university control. This was the system which eighteen years ago was forced, after a series of memorable struggles, upon the Catholics, who after loyally fighting against its imposition courageously accepted the accomplished fact. Christian schools, founded by them at the price of considerable pecuniary sacrifices (rendered all the more meritorious by the fact that the Catholics had at the same time to pay their share of the tax which provided for the support of the rival form of education), covered the country. Never has a finer example of devotion been seen ; never was a more noble or generous use made of liberty, which, though curtailed and supervised, yet preserved its most essential feature. At the same time the tacit consent of successive Ministers permitted the reconstitution of the proscribed Congregations, and the colleges which they had founded continued, in the hands of lay proprietors, their educational work with the assistance of some of the members of those bodies. The few Catholic universities, though limited to a curriculum devoid of al possibility of expansion owing to the fact that the conduct of examinations and the conferment of degrees was a State monopoly, succeeded in maintaining their various Chairs. The everincreasing confidence which they inspired in the middle classes as well as in the aristocracy, in republican circles no less than in those which still preserved the monarchical tradition, and the VOL. XLIII I 5
numerical increase of the pupils of the primary schools, bear striking witness to the existence of that moral and intellectual need to which, in the eyes of a large section of the population, educational liberty responds. The existence of that need was all the more self-evident owing to the fact that the futility of the effort which had been made, under cover of the neutralisation of the Government schools, to reassure the Catholic con
science, became every day more flagrantly conspicuous. In
spite of all philosophical efforts, of all pedagogic formulas, of
tion, for in order to be indignant one would have to believe, but a mute and melancholy denial. . . . With its ideas about the necessity of redemption and of expiatory sacrifice the Christian moral system presents nothing more nor less than a coarse ideal, against which our consciences revolt and which would throw us back two thousand years. . . .The only possible result of all rational education must be the evolution of the religion of the past into the irreligion of the future.
Is there a single Christian worthy of the name, let alone a Catholic, who is prepared to accept such a theory as the basis of education, or who could conscientiously accept the consequences which it must have for his children f
It is certainly not in England that an affirmative answer could be given to such a question with any prospect of receiving the support of public opinion. This is proved clearly enough by the recent Education Bill, which strongly maintains the principle of sectarian education, but at the same time, while favouring the Protestant Churches, leaves the Roman Catholics in complete enjoyment of their liberty, and has, in consequence, merited and received their approbation. If the French Catholics, in view of the direction which was given to public education, failed to prevent the application of the new system to the country at large, were they not bound to demand complete liberty to give, in any case to their own children, that type of education which is in conformity with the tenets of their faith, and to provide them with instructors of a nature to guarantee the fulfilment of their desires in this respect f Every person of good faith, or who is in the least degree animated by a spirit of equity, will unhesitatingly recognise the fact that it was their right and their duty so to act, and, as I have shown, the legislators of 1882 and 1886 proved that they understood, to some extent at all events, the existence of that duty by leaving the Catholics a small modicum of liberty, which they proceeded to utilise with a natural and legitimate alacrity.
After fifteen years of unquestioned exercise by the Catholics of their comparative freedom, the Radical and Socialistic section of the Republican party, taking advantage of the circumstances which had been brought about by the Dreyfus affair, and reviving in a more violent form the movement which had been initiated by Gambetta and Jules Ferry but which good sense and mature reflection had almost immediately toned down, suddenly imposed on the country a despotic and openly unchristian policy, the direction of which was assumed, to his misfortune, by M. Waldeck-Rousseau. The law of 1901 was the expression of that policy, the only apparent object of which was to oblige all religious associations to apply to the Legislature for authorisation on pain of dissolution and of seeing their property seized and sold ; but in reality the spirit of the law went infinitely further. One of the principal orators of the Socialist party, M. René Viviani, gave this to be understood in the most frankly audacious manner when he proved the impossibility of taking steps against the Congregations without at the same time attacking the Church, for the reason that they are to one another “as the blood is to the flesh”; and he proceeded to repudiate the empty distinction drawn between Clericalism and Catholicism, and to give back to Gambetta's formula its true and original meaning by pointing at the Catholic Church and saying, “That is the enemy.” His speech was the dominating feature of the entire debate, and the fight entered on a new phase. It passed above and beyond the Congregations and involved not only the Catholic Church but the Christian Faith itself, and therewith the very foundations of spiritual liberty. When the debate ended, in the defeat of the Catholics and the Liberals, it was evident that it marked the inception of a war to the knife against Christianity and liberty. On the last day of the discussion I addressed M. Waldeck-Rousseau from the tribune of the Chamber of Deputies, and gave vent to my gloomy forebodings in these words: “I wait to see what will happen so soon as the law is put into execution. In order to preserve your majority and to keep yourself in power you will be compelled, now that you have opened the floodgates, to let yourself be borne along by the tide, no matter how far it may carry you.”
We shall see how violent and how impetuous was the rush of that tide. The law of 1901 was passed in the month of July. It allowed the Congregations three months' grace in which to make their submission : that is to say, to ask for the necessary authorisation. The Jesuits and the Assumptionists, who had been specially aimed at by the Government and the parliamentary majority, knowing that it was the deliberate intention to refuse that authorisation, thought it wiser and more dignified to dissolve of their own motion, and condemned themselves either to voluntary exile or to a painful and cruel process of dispersion. It was the same with the Benedictines, to whom the idea of peacefully carrying on their admirable and learned labours in a foreign land seemed preferable to the continued maintenance of a hopeless struggle. Like them too, numerous female Congregations sacrificed themselves in silence, and transferred their charitable activity to distant fields. But the majority of the religious orders, relying on the text of the law and on the solemn promise that had been made them, petitioned