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100 years ago: A French bishop protests

15 August 2007

The Church Times, August 16th, 1907.

IN TWO very striking articles contributed to the Times of Saturday and Monday by M. Paul Sabatier, on the first four years of Pius the Tenth’s pontificate, there is a long extract from a French Bishop’s address to the Pope, which raises a pathetic and dignified protest against the current misuse of Papal authority. The speaker affirmed that his thoughts are those of many French Bishops, and that if the latter do not give them expression it is because they know they would only be called to order. M. Sabatier, as a Protestant, would, in spite of his Catholic sentiment, and even an affectionate regard for the Holy Father, be regarded by the upholders of the Papacy as a hostile witness. But the French Bishop from whom he quotes is quite another person, and his words entirely bear out the view of our Roman Catholic correspondent in France [100 Years Ago, 3 August], that the French Church is fast being ruined by the substitution of Papal for Episcopal authority. If the Bishops are to continue only “channels of transmission”, the French Church will go down before its enemies. And the time has come, as this Bishop says, to satisfy the craving of the people for “some spiritual food, the bread of the Holy Gospels”, in place of the sweetmeats with which, “like weak mothers, we have gorged them,” and the “numberless devotions which in exceptional cases may be excellent, but which have monopolised our churches”.

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