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Full text of "[untitled] The Harvard Theological Review, (1915-04-01), pages 274-275"

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familiar with the general outUne of the papacy than for the average 
man whom the Home University Library intends to reach. 

Hbnby B. Washburn. 
Episcopal TaxoLoaicxh School, Cambbidoe. 

The Vatican: the Center of Government of the Catholic World. 
The Rt. Rev. Edmond Canon Hughes de Ragnau. D. Appleton & 
Co. 1913. Pp.453. $4.00. 

Let no one expect to find in this beautifully printed volume any 
satisfactory description of the Vatican. It gives only a brief account, 
very much in the style of Italian guide-books. Neither let any 
one look for any full and intelligent study of the government of the 
Roman Catholic Church as centered in the Vatican. A scrappy 
account of the Pope and his office, his chief collaborators and the 
Roman Curia, nearly all of which might be compiled from easily 
accessible EngUsh sources, occupy, together with a few pages on 
the Vatican, less than one-fourth of the book (pp. 1-92). The second 
section of the book, comprising more than one-half, begins with a 
chapter on the "Organization of the Catholic World" (pp. 97-175), 
of some general interest as showing how well the system has been 
worked out. This is followed by a rambhng chapter (pp. 176-288) 
on the "Politico-Religious History of Cathohcism," a survey of the 
relation of the Roman Church to various countries and their gov- 
ernments, principally in the nineteenth century. As history this 
chapter is at times amusing. The chapter on the "Catholic Faith" 
(pp. 299-346) is a fairly clear and well-written statement, not of the 
faith of the Church, but of the place of the Church as the guardian 
of the faith, illustrated by its dealings with recent dogmatic prob- 
lems. The third section of the book is a compilation on Catholicism 
and education. Here some interesting and apparently trust-worthy 
facts have been collected, in part from sources not accessible in 
English. "What the Catholic Church teaches" (pp. 394-433) 
gives a list of the various subjects on which instruction should 
be given in a Catholic university; but the chapter is stuffed out by 
a long irrelevant account (pp. 402-426) of the books of the Bible, 
with some quaint but probably ecclesiastically "correct" statements 
regarding their dates, authors, and general contents. The book 
concludes with a very brief description of the "Spiritual and Prac- 
tical Sides of Catholicism," containing among other things a number 
of points of Canon Law bearing more directly on private hfe. 


At first sight the reader is at a loss how to characterize such a 
book, with its feeble grasp of history, its absurdly distorted per- 
spective, and its miscellaneous collection of material compiled chiefly 
from iudiflferent manuals. He ought, however, not to quarrel with 
the book until he is quite sure of the author's real purpose. In spite 
of the title, that purpose, one can well believe, is not to give an 
account of the "Vatican: the Center of Government of the Catholic 
World." The Vatican is for the author but a symbol. His real 
purpose must have been to produce a work of edification, based upon 
a contemplation of the Church as a divine system of world-wide 
activity. Everywhere, accordingly, the Roman Church is shown 
as always the leader of every form of spiritual progress, religious, 
moral, and intellectual, as subject to persecution by the powers of 
evil yet constantly triumphant, as traduced by Protestants and 
other unbelievers yet forcing its enemies to admit its claims. By 
its devotion, its faith, its all-embracing programme, by its very num- 
bers, it is made to impress the devout soul. This is, doubtless, a 
worthy end. Possibly, in attaining it, "omissions," "exaggerated 
effects," and "suppressions" — ^faults the author finds in non-Cath- 
olic works on history — are necessary and to be tolerated by the 
faithful for the sake of the edification. The Church and its work 
are objects of faith and not merely of sight. Many of the hard 
realities of this present world with its intractable history may be 
overlooked in the more brilliant vision. 

Unfortunately for the author and his purpose of edification, his 
literary ability is very limited, and his unctuous style, reminiscent 
of second-rate French devotional works, fails to transmute a crude 
compilation into a satisfactory picture. The unconscionable pad- 
ding betrays the amateur and makes the book burdensome to read. 
The author's grasp of the situation is so feeble that he often misses 
making a good point. The book contains much many Protestants 
might well take to heart, but it is so mixed with false, inaccurate, 
and distorted statements that it will often repel where it might well 
attract. It stands in the way of a much better book which almost 
any man with scholarly instincts but as great loyalty to the Roman 
Church and devotion to its aims, could produce, provided he had 
a fair amount of literary taste and skill and more knowledge of 
actual religious conditions than is allowed to filter through "la 
bonne presse," the tone of which is admirably reproduced in this 

Joseph Cullen Ater, Jr. 
Phiiadblphia Divinity Schooi,.