venerdì 26 luglio 2013

John Henry Newman sui seminari nella Chiesa Cattolica

Seminaries of the Church

SIR,—No one desires more earnestly than the writer of these lines, that free discussion should be allowed us on all matters which the Church has not ruled. No one laments more than I do that bigotry and jealousy which would enthrone the decisions of individuals, or of parties, or of schools, as if divine truths, unassailable and irreversible. Nor will I yield to any one in my desire, that the secular education of Catholics in the middle and upper classes should be the best of its kind, and such as to enable them to take their place in society by the side of Protestants of their own rank. It is not inconsistent with such avowals for me to express my sorrow at a portion of the letter signed "X.Y.Z.," which appeared in your Number for July. I believe that letter has incurred the animadversion of one of our newspapers; but I have not read it, and, even though I chance to repeat it in substance in what I am going to say, that will not be a reason for my not saying it. For your correspondents should be answered, if they need it, in your Magazine, not out of it, that those who read the one side may read the other.

My own complaint with "X.Y.Z." is this, that in a lay magazine he has discussed a purely clerical subject. If it is a mistake in ecclesiastics to go beyond their calling and their knowledge, and to lecture laymen on secular subjects, I consider it a greater in a lay "X.Y.Z." to discuss the education of the clergy, and to find fault with the existing system, which is founded on the decree of an Œcumenical Council. I certainly think that a writer should be taken {399} to task who finds fault with provisions sacred both from the persons whom they concern, and from the authority by which they are enforced.

The Council of Trent decrees that a seminary for the clergy shall be established in every diocese, and that it shall consist exclusively of ecclesiastics. "Hoc collegium," it says, "Dei ministrorum perpetuum seminarium sit." These seminaries, if possible, are to be erected "prope ipsas ecclesias;" the youths, there educated, "tonsurâ statim atque habitu clericali semper utentur;" they shall be "pauperum filii præcipuè;: they are admissible at twelve years of age, and they are to learn "grammatices, cantûs, computi ecclesiastici, aliarumque bonarum artium disciplinam, sacram Scriptuam, libros ecclesiasticos, homilias sanctorum, et sacramentorum tradendorum, et rituum et cæremoniarum formas." Thus their education is distinctly and professedly narrow (I am not using the word in an unfavourable sense, but to express the fact), as the education of a farmer is narrow, or of an artillery officer, or of a medical man.

If any one thinks me paradoxical in thus speaking, I shelter myself behind the words of an author to which "X.Y.Z." refers. Dr. Newman, in his Dublin Lectures of 1852, speaking of liberal education, says: "If theology, instead of being cultivated as a contemplation, be limited to the purposes of the pulpit, or be represented by the catechism, it loses, not its usefulness, not its divine character, not its meritoriousness, but the particular attribute which I am illustrating; just as a face worn by tears and fasting loses its beauty, or a labourer's hand loses its delicateness; for theology, thus exercised, is not simple knowledge, but rather is an art or a business making use of theology. And thus it appears that even what is supernatural need not be liberal, nor need a hero be a gentleman, for the plain reason that one idea is not another idea."

To return:—by the side of the grave provisions of the Council which I have quoted, let us see what are the views of "X.Y.Z." I have taken the liberty to expand his sentiments into their full meaning by additions within brackets, in order to bring out what I conceive to be their inconsistency in the mouth of a Catholic.

"There are many reasons," he says, "why the question of Catholic ecclesiastical education should be assuming special importance at the present day." After mentioning some of them, he proceeds thus:
"These and other reasons make it important [not for our ecclesiastical rulers, but for your readers] to consider, whether any modifications, and of what nature, are desirable in the system of our schools and colleges, [which system was determined by the Œcumenical Council of Trent]."
"As I am … simply suggesting points for the consideration of those [of the reading public who are] better qualified [than myself] to judge, I shall make no apology for briefly jotting down a few questions, that have occurred to my mind [on a subject which, after fasting and prayer, engaged the anxious attention, and elicited {400} the definitive decision, of the Fathers of an Assembly 'in Spiritu Sancto congregata'].

"As regards the question of separate training for the clergy from boyhood, it seems to me [an anonymous " X.Y.Z."] that two questions may be raised, [though the Council of Trent put them to rest three centuries ago], viz.:

1. "How far it is, per se, desirable, [though the Council desires it so much as to direct the Bishops, every where and individually, to carry out 'tam pium et sanctum institutum, prout Spiritus Sanctus suggesserit,'—another sort of 'suggestion'].

2. "And further, how far," with our present objects and needs, "such a system would be even possible, [though the Sancta Synodus thinks it so possible, as to decree that, if there be negligence in any persons 'in hoc seminarii erectione et conservatione,' the competent authority 'acriter corripere, eosque ad omnia supra dicta cogere debeat'].

"I am far from saying that there would not be room for a St. Sulpice in England: [so far I concede to the sacro-sancta Œcumenica Synodus, though I must still maintain, pace Patrum Reverendissimorum, that what they call 'sanctum et pium opus' is the exception, not the rule].

"But [I repeat, in spite of the Council] I cannot help thinking, that if the class of men who are trained for the Protestant ministry at our public schools and universities are to be enlisted for the service of the altar, a very different system from that of St. Sulpice [which is behind the day as following the directions of the Church] would be found necessary, at least for many of them."

I need not pursue my comment further; before concluding, however, I am reminded by the last sentence in the foregoing paragraph, that I ought to contrast another passage from " X.Y.Z.," not with the Tridentine Decrees, but with a sentence in the correspondence of the Guardian newspaper of last Wednesday.

"X.Y.Z." says:
"Why is it that, while the Protestant minister, ignorant for the most part of theology, fluctuating and uncertain in his views, &c. … can usually secure at least the respectful attention of an ordinary congregation to his stammering exposition of a mutilated creed, the Catholic priest, &c. … Does that intellectual refinement, that power of varied illustration, that mastery of language and thought, which are the results of an educated taste, and fair acquaintance with the standard literatures, both prose and poetry, of our own and other countries, avail in the one case to light up the broken shadows of an unsatisfying religion with a glory not their own, while in the other," &c. &c.

On the other hand, "Medicus Mayfairensis," writing in the Guardian of August 8, with what seems like a feeling experience of the matter he is treating of, says:
 "It strikes me, that if from time to time some educated men who can speak English in their own tongue, and not in the dreary, {401} roundabout, latinised, somniferous dialect which is consecrated to the use of the pulpits in the Establishment, would take the trouble to get on a tub on a Sunday afternoon in the Park, … it would absolutely neutralise the spirit of those trading agitators," &c.
Had I leisure to search the columns of the Times, I should find passages in still more vehement antagonism with "X.Y.Z." on the subject of Anglican University preaching.
Thus he is as little countenanced by Protestants in his facts as by the Tridentine Fathers in his opinions.

Nessun commento:

Posta un commento