Chapter thirteen of the author's The Liberal Catholic Movement in England: The "Rambler" and its Contributors, 1848-1864, which Burns and Oates (London) published in 1962. It has been included in the Victorian Web with the kind permission of the author, who of course retains copyright.
HE Liberal Catholic movement in England was essentially a native product; its course had run parallel to the Liberal Catholicism of the Continent, but there had been relatively little direct interaction between the two movements. In the 1860s, however, the several branches of Liberal Catholicism began to draw together, to develop common answers to common problems, and eventually to share a common fate.
The emergence of the issue of the Temporal Power had forced the English Liberal Catholics to deal with a question with which their Continental brethren were equally concerned. On this question, however, the counsels of Liberal Catholicism were divided. Lacordaire thought the Temporal Power undesirable; Döllinger thought it desirable but untenable; Montalembert and Dupanloup regarded it as absolutely necessary. Acton, who suspected that French Liberal Catholicism contained more of policy than of principle, had "no confidence in Montalembert's Italian politics" (A to S, I Nov. 1859, Downside MSS). Acton, however, wished "not to dispute publicly among ourselves" on the issue. After 1862, however, Montalembert was increasingly preoccupied with the question of toleration and religious freedom, and on this question the principles of Liberal Catholicism led him into opposition to Rome.
At a Congress of Belgian Catholics at Malines in 1863, Montalembert delivered two speeches. The first, on, "A Free Church in a Free State," urged the independence of Church and State. The second, on "Liberty of Conscience," rejected the principles of religious intolerance and condemned persecution in all its forms. These speeches, Montalembert's boldest expression of' Liberal Catholic principles, were enthusiastically cheered by his Belgian audience. 219/220]
Montalembert's speeches aroused the opposition of the Ultramontanes. He had, however, guarded against theological criticism by making it clear that he was dealing, not with the "thesis" of Catholic doctrine, but with the "hypothesis" of its adjustment to actual circumstances. Because of this, and also out of respect for his defence of the Temporal Power, the authorities were unwilling to censure him. Cardinal Wiseman, who was present at Malines, took pains to avoid the appearance of criticizing Montalembert and prevented Ward from publishing an article attacking him in the Dublin Review. The Civilta Cattolica, published by the Jesuits in Rome, explicitly approved the distinction between thesis and hypothesis.2. The Pope refused to censure Montalembert publicly, although he sent him a private letter of rebuke.
Acton, in the Home and Foreign, found Montalembert's speeches cause for rejoicing, describing them as "the most perfect production that we yet possess of the matured genius of the great French orator" (III Oct. 1863, 729). Monsell, a close friend of Montalembert, evidently influenced by his views, made a speech in the House of Commons in which he criticized Catholic intolerance in Spain and urged the Church to rely on liberty instead of privilege (Hansard's Parliamentary Debates, CLXXII 1863, 1006-8). Newman refused to sanction the principle of absolute toleration and told Monsell that it was simply a question of expedience; see Ward, William George Ward, p. 268.
Shortly after Montalembert spoke at Malines, DbIlinger delivered a speech of even greater significance. As President of a Congress of Catholic scholars at Munich in 1863, Dbllinger gave an address on "The Past and Present of Catholic Theology." It was the clearest exposition he had given of the spirit of his historical theology. He maintained that the scholastic theologians were limited by their Aristotelian method: "without the elements of biblical criticism and dogmatic history they possessed only one of the eyes of theology." To meet the new challenges which had developed [220/221] since the Middle Ages, Döllinger argued, Catholic theology must be transformed by "the idea that Christianity is history, and that in order to be understood it must be studied in its development." Failure to recognize this had led to the decline of theology in Italy and France. Germany was the home of the new theology, and German scholarship was destined to revitalize Catholic thought and prepare the way for the reunion of the Churches. German theology, employing the weapons of modern science, does not shrink from the results of scholarship and is unafraid of error.. Indeed, error is essential as a part of the process of development of doctrine. Because scientific theology contains within itself the elements necessary for correcting its faults, Döllinger said, it should be allowed comp lete freedom, except in the rare cases of real dogmatic error. Above all, the opinions of a school must not be exalted into dogmas, nor should the weapons of authority be used to correct the errors of scholarship. "The faults of science must be met with the arms of science; for the Church cannot exist without a progressive theology."5
Acton hailed Döllinger's address as "the dawn of a new era" (199) in Catholic theology. His report on the Congress in the Home and Foreign was an enthusiastic endorsement of Döllinger's speech, whose importance, he said, "extends beyond national boundaries" (159). It should be noted that, in justifying Döllinger, Acton criticized (p. 192) the "errors" of those who, going beyond him, asserted "that not only is the expression of dogma modified by the initiative of science, but that even its substance is altered in the progress of religious knowledge." This is a clear repudiation of the Modernist doctrine. Acton thought that Döllinger, by proclaiming his complete submission to the defined dogmas of the Church, had given adequate security for his orthodoxy and had satisfied the lawful claims of authority.
The suspicions of the Ultramontanes were aroused by the very features which evoked Acton's enthusiasm. Döllinger's distinction between revealed dogma and theological elaborations upon it, between the infallible Church and particular ecclesiastical authorities which were not infallible, was the [221/222] root of his offence. His doctrines were capable of an orthodox interpretation, but they seemed to strike a blow at the apparatus for the control of thought, centred around the Roman Congregations of the Index and Inquisition, which had been built up since the Reformation. For this reason, Ward regarded Döllinger's philosophical doctrines as more alarming than Montalembert's merely political views. Döllinger's rejection of scholasticism and his criticism of Italian theologians were bound to be distasteful to the authorities at Rome. At the Munich Congress itself, the neoscholastics had taken alarm and had drawn up a protest against his speech; but Döllinger had circumvented the protest by complaining that it impeached the orthodoxy of his theology. The whole assembly, Ultramontanes as well as Liberals, thereupon rose to bear testimony to his orthodoxy, and the protest was withdrawn. It was the high-water mark of Döllinger's career as a Catholic theologian; but the triumph was an illusion. Dbllinger had repeated, in 1863, the tactical error of the conductors of the Avenir in 1831. Propounding views which were novel and distasteful to authority, he had claimed that those views should be not merely tolerated but accepted by the Church. Rome regarded this as a challenge to which it was bound to reply. Rome's reply came in the form of a Papal Brief to the Archbishop of Munich, dated 21 December 1863 but not published until 5 March 1864. The Brief did not specifically censure Döllinger, but it implicitly condemned his doctrine of the freedom of scholarship by insisting that the researches of scholars must be conducted with full deference to the ecclesiastical authorities. Catholic thought was bound, not only by dogmatic definitions, but by the opinions of the theological schools and the decisions of the Roman Congregations; and it was wrong, though not heretical, to reject those opinions and decisions.
Even though the question concerned that subjection which is to be yielded in an act of divine faith, yet that would have not to be confined to those things which have been hitherto defined by the express decrees of (Ecumenical Councils or of Roman Pontiffs and this Apostolic See, but to be extended to [222/223] those things which are delivered as divinely revealed by the ordinary authority (magisterium) of the whole Church dispersed throughout the world, and are therefore accounted by Catholic theologians, with universal and consistent consent, to appertain to the faith... It is not sufficient for learned Catholics to receive and revere the before-mentioned dogmas of the Church; but that it is also necessary(opus esse) for them to subject themselves, as well to the doctrinal decisions which are issued by the Pontifical Congregations, as also to those heads of doctrine which are retained by the common and consistent consent of Catholics as theological truths, and as conclusions so certain that opinions adverse to the same, though they cannot be called heretical, yet deserve some other theological censure. [Ward's translation of the Munich Brief; W. G. Ward, "Rome and the Munich Congress," Dublin Review, n.s., III (July 1864), 86]
The language of the Brief was vague,, and its censures were couched in general propositions, but there could be no doubt of its intentions. A basic principle of Liberal Catholicism, the independence of scholarly research from ecclesiastical authority, was condemned by Rome. The Brief did not possess the character of an ex cathedra dogmatic definition, but it was a clear intimation of the will of the Holy See. Its censures were capable of being extended to the Home and Foreign Review, which had, by its endorsement of DbIlinger's speech, made itself a party to his condemned doctrines.
The Munich Brief was published in March 1864, when Acton, Simpson and Wetherell were preparing the April issue of the Home and Foreign. It came as a stunning and decisive blow to Acton. He recognized that what the Pope condemned was the fundamental principle which justified the existence of the Home and Foreign. Several years earlier Acton had indicated his position: "we submit where the authority is infallible, but hold ourselves free where it is not, and when it is not, for instance, the Index or the bishops" (A to S, 11 Oct. 186 1, in Gasquet, p. 216). This distinction between fallible and infallible authorities was disregarded by the Brief, which required submission to all authorities.
The Brief was an elaborate statement of opinions and intentions on a point practically fundamental which are incompatible with our own. [223/224] I, at least, entirely reject the view here stated. If it is accepted by the Home and Foreign, the Review loses its identity and the very breath of its nostrils. If it is rejected, and the proclamation of the Holy See defied, the Review cannot long escape condemnation, and cannot any longer efficiently profess to represent the true, authoritative Catholic opinion. In either case I think the Review forfeits the reason of its existence. It cannot sacrifice its traditions or surrender its representative character.
There is nothing new in the sentiments of the rescript; but the open aggressive declaration and the will to enforce obedience are in reality new. This is what places us in flagrant contradiction with the government of the Church.
Acton told Simpson that the Brief made it "impossible for me to carry on the Review as hitherto with a good conscience" (A to S, 8 March 1864, ibid., pp. 317-8). Acton therefore proposed to terminate the career of the review with its next issue, doing so with Simpson's approval, but on his own responsibility as proprietor, and making a public declaration of his reasons for the act. Simpson gave his "full consent and approbation" to the course which Acton proposed. "It is clearly as impossible to carry on a professedly Catholic Review on our principles," he said, cc as it is for us to change our principles." He hoped that Acton would "let it be clearly understood that we in no sense accept the views of Pio IX" (S to A, 9 March 1864, Woodruff MSS). Wetherell and the other conductors of the Home and Foreign Review were also in full agreement with Acton's proposal.
Acton spoke of the "calm composure" with which he had reached his decision ( A to D, 12 March 1864, Woodruff MSS). It should be noted that in this crisis, as in others, Acton sought Döllinger's approval of his course, but only after he had reached his own decision). "Submission is as little to be thought of as resistance," he wrote: intellectual integrity forbade the one and respect for ecclesiastical authority the other. What influenced him most was the practical consideration that in a conflict with Rome, which the Munich Brief seemed to foreshadow, the Home and Foreign Review could win only [224/225] barren triumphs, while the cause of Liberal Catholicism would be permanently ruined by the very fact of its reiterated opposition to authority: "The scandal which would be given here by a struggle with Rome . . . is so great that I do not dare to provoke it-to say nothing of the gloating among Protestants, whereby all the good which has been effected by our theories will be nullified" (A to D, 9 March 1864, Woodruff MSS). A reasoned book, which Acton and Simpson hoped to write, might survive the wreck of the Home and Foreign; but the continuance of the review in conflict with Rome would only lead to more drastic measures being taken against the Liberal Catholics. These prudential considerations, with which Acton justified his decision to Döllinger, were repeated in his correspondence with Newman. The intention expressed in the Munich Brief, Acton said, seems to promise further measures if opportunity be given by resistance or contradiction. A conflict with the authorities would not only be a grievous scandal, but would destroy the efficiency and use of the Review, and I have determined not to risk a censure, but to take the significant warning of this document, and to put an end to the Review after the appearance of the next number.... I shall find means of giving a full and intelligible explanation of my motives, which will be as satisfactory as it can be made without in any way renouncing any of our principles.14
"Conflicts with Rome," the article in which the cessation of the Home and Foreign Review was announced and explained, was written by Acton, extensively revised by Simpson, and signed with Acton's name -- the only article he ever signed (IV (April 1864), 667-96; reprinted in History of Freedom, 667-96. It was based upon an article on Lamennais and Frohscharnmer which had been prepared before the appearance of the Munich Brief. Lamennais and Frolischarnmer had both been [225/226] condemned by the Church, the latter in 1862, the former thirty years earlier; their doctrines had been imputed to the Home and Foreign, and it was important to dissociate the review from them. Acton had already criticized Frohschammer in July 1863, for "an unconscious surrender of dogmatic truths" ("Ultramontanism," Essays on Church and State, pp. 65-66; See also A to D, 21 May 1863, Woodruff MSS). At the root of their errors Acton found a false conception of the relationship between science and religion and an inability to distinguish between the infallible truths of religion and the fallible authorities of the Church." In this article, for the first time, Acton explicitly denied Papal Infallibility. "The Holy See is not separately infallible," he said; it has "repeatedly erred" (p. 477). Failure to recognize the harmony of religion and science on the basis of their independence was responsible for the errors both of the Ultramontane opponents of liberty and of its unworthy defenders. Lamennais and Frohschammer identified the Church with its rulers and therefore fell into error, the one by exaggerating the claims of authority, the other by exaggerating the right of resistance. Frohschammer had been censured by the Index, unjustly, as he believed, for a philosophical work. Acton maintained that he ought first to have inquired whether the authority which censured him was actually the voice of the Church. "It should have been enough for him to believe in his conscience that he was in agreement with the true faith of the Church" (481). Frohschammer went further: reacting against the "monstrous error of attributing to the congregation of the Index a share in the infallibility of the Church" (478). he asserted that philosophical systems might be constructed without reference to the dogmas of the Church and even in contradiction to them. Acton condemned this doctrine. He would not allow to philosophy the independence which he claimed for history. "The philosopher cannot claim the same exemption as the historian. God's handwriting exists in history independently of the Church, and no ecclesiastical exigence can alter a fact" (473). By exaggerating the independence of philosophy, Frohschammer had provoked a reaction against the rightful independence [226/227] of science and history, of which the first symptom was the Munich Brief.
It was possible to interpret the words of the Brief in a sense not inconsistent with the habitual language of the Home and Foreign Review. Acton rejected such a "plausible accommodation" -- he preferred "to interpret the words of the Pope as they were really meant." One of the first principles of the review was to exemplify the distinction between dogma and opinion, between acts of infallible authority and those possessing an inferior sanction. The practical purpose of the Brief was to obliterate this distinction; and the will of the Holy See was manifested with unusual forcefulness and distinctness. The relative tolerance which had been conceded to the principles of the Home and Foreign was now withdrawn. This posed a problem to the conductors of the review, who were "unable to yield their assent to the opinions put forward in the Brief." They would not give up their principles; but to continue the review in opposition to Rome would be both derogatory to the Holy See and fruitless for the cause of truth. "It would be wrong to abandon principles which have been well considered and are sincerely held, and it would be wrong to assail the authority which contradicts them. The principles have not ceased to be true, nor the authority to be legitimate, because the two are in contradiction" (487). Acton would not repeat the error of Lamennais and Frohschammer or challenge their fate by provoking Rome to a more explicit repudiation of Liberal Catholic doctrines which would place religion in apparent opposition to science. He chose instead to "sacrifice the existence of the Review to the defence of its principles, in order that I may combine the obedience which is due to legitimate ecclesiastical authority, with an equally conscientious maintenance of the rightful and necessary liberty of thought" (489). He placed his hope in the future, in the development of an educated public opinion which would eventually sway the ecclesiastical government. The Home and Foreign Review "was but a partial and temporary embodiment of an imperishable idea -- the [227/228] faint reflection of a light which still lives and burns in the hearts of the silent thinkers of the Church" (491). At the conclusion of this article was printed the Latin text of the Munich Brief: Home and Foreign Review, IV (April 1864), 691-6).
In "Conflicts with Rome," the swan song of English Liberal Catholicism, Acton found occasion once more to define the principles and defend the Catholicity of the movement. Thus the cessation of the Home and Foreign was not a surrender or a submission; the principles of Liberal Catholicism were upheld in the very act of renouncing the struggle. The Home and Foreign Review, Ward declared, "has died like a wasp, leaving its sting in the wound it inflicted" (Ward, "Rome and the Munich Congress," p. 67). Ward criticized Acton's article at great length and maintained that the Munich Brief had the force of infallible teaching.
The cessation of the Home and Foreign, nonetheless, meant, in effect, the end of the Liberal Catholic movement in England. Acton had long maintained that Liberal Catholicism could expect no triumph, but would be fortunate if it could obtain toleration from the authorities of the Church. The Munich Brief was a sign that toleration would be denied. By ending the career of the Home and Foreign, Acton hoped to avoid a direct and fatal conflict with authority. "We must give up our notion of Catholic literature as a bad job." He added that "literature for Catholic's must clearly come out in a non-Catholic form" (S to A, 9 March 1864, Woodruff MSS). The idea, which Acton entertained, of publishing a book of Essays by Catholic Laymen was soon abandoned (see A to D, 12 March 1864, Woodruff MSS). The struggle for Liberal Catholic principles was not, indeed, abandoned, but it was changed in character. Liberal Catholics must henceforth advocate their principles either, in particular situations, as isolated individuals within the Church, or as participants in endeavours which were not confined exclusively to Catholics. Liberal Catholicism had no future as an organized movement; and its adherents could only hope that its principles might, through the progress of Catholic thought, secure a quiet acceptance in future generations. For the present, they must resign themselves to silence. Acton to Döllinger: "For the present it seem's to me better to be silent-although not quite in the sense of 'respectful silence.'" (12 March 1864, Woodruff MSS). The term "respectful silence" (silence respectueux) was coined by the Jansenists, who wished to evade submission to Rome's condemnation of [28/229] Jansen's work. Hence Acton remarks: "Pius called us Jansenists. He meant not in point of grace, but of authority. He alluded to the silence respectueux, and meant to indicate the ceremonious practice by which men veiled their displeasure and disrespect" (CUL Add. MS. 4992, cited Himmelfarb, p. 108).
This was an attitude which Newman could approve. He was grieved by the news of the cessation of the Home and Foreign. He had read the Munich Brief, observing in it the points which Acton mentioned, "nor had I any difficulty in acquiescing in them, in their letter and in their principle; but I dread their application" ( N to A, 18 March 1864, Woodruff MSS; partially quoted by Ward, I, 565-66). Newman supposed that the Brief meant more than it said; "and thus there are serious grounds for apprehension, lest there be some ultimate intention of proceeding against you, and that the more easily, because we in England are under the military regime of Propaganda." (This sentence is not quoted by Ward.) While he congratulated Acton on being released from an occupation which was unworthy of him, he regretted that the English Catholics must henceforth be subjected to "the dull tyranny of Manning and Ward" (Ibid., quoted by Ward, I, 565-66).
Newman's attitude toward the Munich Brief reveals both his sympathy with the intellectual principles of Liberal Catholicism and his fundamental reliance on authority. Examining the Brief in detail, he found in it an insistence that Catholic men of science must keep the conclusions of theology before them even in their scientific researches. This, he felt, denied them "freedom of logic in their own science" and made it impossible for Catholic scholars to deal successfully with current scientific controversies. "So that, if I understand this brief, it is simply a providential intimation to every religious man, that, at this moment, we are simply to be silent, while scientific investigation proceeds . . . and I am not sure that it will not prove to be the best way" (Quoted, 567. The full text of Newman's analysis of the Brief is given on 641-2). Newman was engaged, at this time, in preparing his Apologia pro vita sua. In the last chapter of the Apologia, he discussed at length the problem posed by the Munich Brief [229/230] the action of authority in going beyond the province of faith and arresting the coursc of scientific thought. Newman found occasion to criticize the Ultramontanism of Veuillot and Ward by referring to "a violent ultra party, which exalts opinions into dogmas, and has it principally at heart to destroy every school of thought but its own" (Newman, Apologia, p. 351). Acton supplied some materials to Newman for the Apologia. Newman wrote: "Your letter is very valuable to me.... As to the points you mention, you may be sure I shall go as far as ever I can" (N to A, 15 April 1864, Newman MSS).But Newman was mainly concerned with providing a rationale for submission to authority. He described the authority of the Church in terms which gave it the full extent claimed by the Munich Brief, and he professed his own absolute submissiort to that claim. He acknowledged that there was a great trial to the reason in this claim of authority, in that it extended beyond the province of faith and, without the gift of infallibility, interfered in matters of secular science. These prohibitions, Newman said, were binding on actions and writings, but not on thought. "We are called upon, not to profess anything, but to be silent." Newman believed that authority was generally likely to be right in its actions. It was sometimes necessary to arrest the course of intellect out of tenderness for souls. The duty of the Catholic thinker was to submit in silence, waiting for a more propitious moment to bring forward his ideas. Newman interpreted "recent acts of authority" (the Munich Brief) as "tying the hands of a controversialist" (pp.349-50, 354), and he professed to be thankful for so clear a direction.
Newman's profound submissiveness to authority led him to the same practical conclusion as Acton: to be silent, without surrendering principles, and to trust in the future. The language of the Apologia implied a greater sympathy with the doctrines of the Munich Brief than Newman actually felt. He believed that the terms -of the Brief made it impossible to write an original work on a serious subject without risking a charge of heresy. "I think it is very hard," he said, "that I may not write under the antecedent condition that I am a [230/231] fallible mortal, but that every turn of expression is to be turned into a dogmatic enunciation" (N to Aubrey de Vere, 6 July 1864, quoted by Ward, Aubrey de Vere, p. 307). Newman's trust in authority was mingled with disappointment at the course which authority was pursuing. "It is so ordered on high that in our day Holy Church should presentjust that aspect to my countrymen which is most consonant with their ingrained prejudices against her, most unpromising for their conversion" (cited Ward, I, 14).
As if to confirm this statement, the Pope published, on 8 December 1864, the Encyclical Quanta cura, which was accompanied by the Syllabus of Errors. These documents completed the work which had been begun by the Munich Brief. The Encyclical condemned "naturalism," the doctrine that society should be governed without regard to religion, from which proceeded the erroneous principles of freedom of speech and of conscience. It also censured the Liberal Catholic doctrine that assent may be withheld from those decisions of the Holy See which did not deal with the dogmas of faith and morals. By itself, the Encyclical would probably have attracted little attention; but it was accompanied by the Syllabus, a list of propositions which had been condemned by Pius IX in previous encyclicals and allocutions. Most of the eighty censured propositions were doctrines which were reprobated by all Catholics; but many of the special doctrines of Liberal Catholicism were condemned ' including some of the opinions which Döllinger had expressed at the Munich Congress.35 The last proposition condemned in the Syllabus is an almost perfect statement of the Liberal Catholic creed: "The Roman Pontiff can and ought to reconcile himself to, and come to terms with progress, liberalism, and modern civilization" -- This is the conventional translation; perhaps the last clause ought to read "recent civilization". It is taken from the allocution Jamdudum cernimus. [231/232] (1861), which, criticizing political liberalism as it was manifested in Italy, denied that "the Roman Pontiff should reconcile himself and come to terms with what they call progress, with Liberalism, and with recent civilization" (see Butler, II, 96-97).
The Syllabus was drawn up in the technical language of theology and was intended simply for the guidance of the bishops; but it was published to the world, and the summary terms of its condemnations created the impression that they had a universal application --"a gesture of defiance hurled by an outraged Pope against the nineteenth century" (Hales, p. 274). This impression that the Papacy had committed itself to a policy of blind reaction seemed to be confirmed by the conduct of the Ultramontanes, who claimed the Encyclical and Syllabus as a triumph for their party. Ward, maintaining that the Encyclical confirmed his views on the necessity of assent and submission to all the decisions of the Pope, proclaimed that "its doctrinal declarations possess absolute infallibility" (W . G. Ward, "The Encyclical and Syllabus," Dublin Review, n.s., IV (April 1865), 443). Ward also found occasion to animadvert against "that extreme form of Catholic misbelief which animated the late 'Home and Foreign Review'." It should be noted that Ward later moderated his theory of Infallibility after being criticized by Roman theologians.
The Syllabus threw consternation into the ranks of the Liberal Catholics. It was that further condemnation of their doctrines which Acton had hoped to avoid by putting an end to the Home and Foreign Review. Dupanloup, Bishop of Orl6ans, attempted to calm the storm. In a hastily-written pamphlet, he minimized the effect of the Syllabus. Dupanloup made use of the distinction between thesis and hypothesis: the Pope, he argued, was speaking in terms of absolute principles and an ideal society; in the realm of hypothesis the Liberal Catholic doctrines might still be maintained. The condemnation of the Syllabus possessed no more force than the encyclicals and allocutions in which they were originally propounded, and in their original form they were of merely specific and limited application. This point was elaborated for English readers, ten years later, by Newman, A Letter to his Grace the Duke of Norfolk, on occasion of Mr. Gladstone's recent Expostulation (London, 1875). Newman also took occasion to criticize the "wild words and overbearing deeds" of Ultramontanes who used their own private judgements for anathemtizing the private judgements of others" (pp 4, 121). By such arguments [232/233] Dupanloup virtually reduced the Syllabus to a nullity.
His pamphlet purported to be a defence of the Syllabus, correcting the mis-statements of the enemies of the Church; because of this, and because he had combined his explanation of the Syllabus with a defence of the Temporal Power, he received the thanks of over six hundred bishops and the qualified approval of the Pope. But Dupanloup was less sanguine than he appeared, saying privately: "If we can tide over the next ten years we are safe" (Quoted by N to E. B. Pusey, 17 May 1865, cited in Ward, II, 101).
Acton, was not satisfied with Dupanloup's subtleties and equivocations, was "appalled" at Dupanloup's "ignorance" and said that to a man accustomed to rigorous thinking Dupanloup "appears a mere windbag" (A to Lady Blennerhasset, 1879, Selections, pp. 50-51). One of the reasons for Acton's eventual break with Döllinger after 1879 was Döllinger's refusal to condemn Dupanloup, who had defended the Syllabus. He insisted, as he had done in the case of the Munich Brief, on reading the words of the Pope as they were meant: "The Syllabus entirely rejected the moderate State and the position obtained by liberalism" (A, CUL Add. MS. 4903). Acton did not regard the Syllabus or the Encyclical as documents of infallible authority or as having any claim to his assent; but he recognized them as expressions of the will of the Pope which were utterly incompatible with the doctrines of Liberal Catholicism.
Because of the cessation of the Home and Foreign Review, Acton possessed no organ in which he could state his views on the Syllabus. He could only indicate his attitude by his silence. When the Encyclical and Syllabus were published, Acton was in Rome, and he was asked to Join with the other English residents in Rome in a congratulatory address to the Pope. Acton drafted an address which deliberately avoided all mention of the two documents; but the committee responsible for the matter rejected his draft as an insult to the Pope. Acton withdrew from the committee and did not sign the address which it prepared (Himmelfarb, p. 62).
Acton's dream of a Liberal Church was at an end. Hencejudgment "for the purpose of anathematizing the private judgments of others" (pp. 4, 131). [233/234] forth Liberal Catholicism was capable of little more than a rear-guard action, attempting to limit the extent of the Ultramontane triumph. In the next years, a certain bitterness and even desperation marked the conduct of the leading Liberal Catholics, Montalembert, Dbllinger and Acton. In 1865, standing for election at Bridgnorth, Acton informed his constituents that he belonged "rather to the soul than the body of the Catholic Church."44 A man who could speak thus had passed beyond Liberal Catholicism into a more advanced form of opposition to the rulers of his Church.
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Last modified 14 September 2001