Its whole power consisted in France, of course, as it consists every- where, in secrecy.
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Meanwhile, though certain of the most violent anti-Catholic were quite young men — ^as they would be in any state of society — ^yet the bulk of the young men were either indifferent or prepared to listen to the case for the Church, and the surprising reaction towards Catholicism of the last few years is mainly due to the fact that the men who have this indifferent or actively vague attitude towards Catholicism in society (let alone a great mass of fervent and devout men), are now round about those years of middle life which chiefly direct the activities of any State.
Nothing is more striking, if you look at the list of those who were behind the anti- Catholic movement of the Third Republic, than to see how Old- World they are, and to see how they all seem to belong to a dead and quite different time.
As always happens after a breakdown, events accelerated the failure of Free- masonry when it had once made this principal error.
To get people to believe that it is a mere friendly society — on its own unsupported word and in spite of the grossly immoral principle inherent in all secret societies — ^was, and is still in Protestant coimtries, its principal strength. French Freemasonry then appeared in the eyes of all Frenchmen, however provincial or stupid, in the light of an anti-Catholic society, and no one could be so dull as not to note the way in which in proportion as Freemasonry was strong in any country, in that proportion was the violent campaign against the French army and the French Church supported.
The Church has had throughout her history a long succession of opponents, but it has been a peculiar character of her position as against theirs, that she remained herself without aging while they passed through the normal phases of mortal organism, and were first more vigorous, then quiescent, then in decay.
Second : As to the wearing out of the anti-Catholic activities, and particularly of Freemasonry, that is a phenomenon with which the history of the Church renders us familiar.
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