Billeder på siden


Doctor Poynter's suggestions to the Managers of the

Catholic Relief Bill in the House of Commons, on the expression in the Oath of Supremacy, No foreign Prelate ought to have any Jurisdiction, Power, Superiority, Pre-eminence or Authority, ECCLESIASTICAL or SPIRITUAL within these Realms.


If the pope ought not to have any ECCLESIASTICAL or SPIRITUAL jurisdiction, &c. within these realms, he ought to have none at all; for he has no civil jurisdiction

The above clause denies the divine right of the pope, as head of the church of Christ, to govern the universal church,

What is the proper and obvious meaning of the terms ecclesiastical and spiritual ?

The term spiritual does not here mean the same as incorporeal or internal : but it means that which in nature directly tends to a supernatural end, or is ordained to produce a supernatural effect. Thus sacrifice, which is an external oblation of a sensible victim to God, and the sacraments, which are visible rites, are spiritual things, because they tend to the worship of God and to the sanctification of souls. That is called temporal which in its nature and institution tends directly to the good order of civil society.

The power of the church is spiritual; and the power of the state is temporal.

By the term ecclesiastical is properly meant whatever in its own nature belongs to the spiritual power and government of the church, -as by the term civil is meant whatever in its own nature belongs to the temporal power and government of the state.

This is the proper and limited meaning of the terms ecclesiastical and civil, when the two powers are in a state of separation from each other and act without any mutual co-operation. Such was the ecclesiastical power of the church under the heathen emperors; such was the civil power of the Roman state during the same period.

When the two powers are associated together by a friendly concordate, the ecclesiatical power has sometimes exercised acts of a civil nature, by the concession of the state ; and the civil power has sometimes exercised acts of an ecclesiastical nature, by the concession of the church. In these cases, the term ecclesiastical, when applied to courts and causes of a mixed nature, under the jurisdiction of an ecclesiastical person as judge, is to be understood in a less strict and less proper sense. In this sense some of our courts in England retain the name of ecclesiastical. It is not in this mixed sense that the spiritual power of the pope and of catholic bishops in England is now called ecclesiastical.

At the change of religion in England the state totally divorced and separated itself from the catholic church, and withdrew every portion of civil power from the pope and the catholic clergy, which they had ever exercised in England by the concession of the state. Consequently the spiritual powers, which the pope and the catholic clergy now hold and exercise over the catholics in England, are PURELY ecclesiastical, without the least mixture of any civil or temporal power whatever.

This power and authority, purely ecclesiastical, is that which Christ gave originally to his apostles, and which was, by his ordinance, to be transmitted from them to their legitimate successors to the end of time, for the purpose of enabling them to preach his faith, to promulgate his new law, to administer his sacraments, to govern his church, and to enforce the observance of his general commands by particular and efficacious regulations. By the exercise of this ecclesiastical power the church, from the earliest ages, without the co-operation of the civil power, has issued many laws and ordinances relating to the form of divine worship, to the manner and circumstances of administering or of receiving the sacraments, to the observance of the great christian festivals, to the rules of abstinence and to the fast of Lent, to the impediments and celebration of matrimony, to the conduct of the clergy, to the qualifications requisite for holy orders, to the limits of the jurisdiction of the different orders of the hierarchy, &c. Many such external and purely ecclesiastical regulations were made by the church, and enforced among the faithful in different parts of the world, before the church had anywhere any connection with the state. The object of the church in making them was, to enforce the observance of the commands and institutions of Christ, which are not of a temporal nature, but which tend directly to the worship of God and to the sanctification of the souls of men. The means by which the church enforced the observance of them were not of a civil nature, but were ecclesiastical and spiritual, viz. the influence of her authority and the privation of the benefits of her communion. The weapons of our warfare are not carnal." 2 Cor. x. iv.

In establishing and enforcing these ecclesiastical laws and regulations, the pope has from the earliest ages borne a principal part. Every catholic must acknowledge that the pope, as head of the church, has ecclesiastical and spiritual authority over all the members of the catholic church. This authority, which he now exercises over the catholics in England, is PURELY ecclesiastical and spiritual ; it has not the least mixture of . any portion of civil or temporal authority annexed to it. It is chiefly exercised here in appointing bishops and

in giving them powers for the spiritual government of the catholics in their respective dioceses or districts, in superintending the religious conduct of the catholics, and in granting dispensations from the ecclesiastical impediments of matrimony, when necessity requires. But this ecclesiastical and spiritual authority of the pope in England, as well as that of the catholic bishops here, is not invested with any civil formality, nor has it any civil effect. In its object, and in its means, it stands in a very distinct order from the civil power of the state. This may

be illustrated by one or two cases. A catholic confesses to a priest that he has injured his neighbour in his property or good name. The priest admonishes him of the obligation of making restitution, as far as he is able, to the extent of the injury done, if he wishes to be réconciled to God and to be admitted to the sacraments. The man refuses to make restitution. In this case, the priest can only urge him by advice and by command to comply with this moral obligation, and if he persists in his refusal to do his duty, by refusing to admit him to the participation of the spiritual benefit of the sacraments. But the priest cannot employ any civil means, such as imprisonment, fine, &c. to compel him to make the restitution to which he is bound by the law of nature, and by the positive law of God.

In the same manner, the pope cannot enforce in England the observance of a divine or ecclesiastical precept by any civil or temporal punishment, but only by ecclesiastical or spiritual means, such as depriving a catholic clergyman of his spiritual powers, or others of the participation of the sacraments and of the communion of the church.

In cases of impediments of matrimony, on which the laws of England are different from the laws of the catholic church, the laws of the church have their proper

and distinct effect, and are not enforced by any civil means. Suppose then that two catholics, first cousins marry according to the forms of the law of England, their marriage is considered as valid and good according to law, as the degree of first cousins is not a legal impediment: but their marriage is considered by the catholic church as invalid and null, ab initio, in conscience and in the sight of God; because the degree of first cousins is an impedimentum dirimens, totally annulling the matrimonial contract in the sight of God. In this case, the catholic bishop or priest would inform the parties of the invalidity of their marriage and of the conscientious obligation of their separating. If they refuse to separate, he cannot compel them by any civil means: if they have children, he cannot declare them illegitimate, so as to make them incapable of succeeding to the titles and estates of the father, or of enjoying the temporal benefits of legitimate children. But, if they refuse to separate, the priest can refuse to admit them to the sacraments of the catholic church; and if they have children, these children will be ecclesiastically illegitimate, so as to be incapable of being admitted to holy orders.

Hence it appears evidently, that the ecclesiastical and the civil powers are clearly distinct from each other in their means and effects.

Whilst the catholic is bound by the law of God to acknowledge that the king has civil and temporal authority for the government of the state, he is equally bound by the law of Christ to acknowledge that the pope has ecclesiastical and spiritual authority for the government of the catholic church and of all the members of the catholic church wherever they are. Ifany catholic were to swear that the pope ought not to have any ecclesiastical or spiritual authority in England, he would ab. jure the divine right of the pope to govern the members

« ForrigeFortsæt »