31 JANUARY 1903, Page 19

The communication on the subject of the Vatican and the

liberal movement in the Roman Church published in the Times of Tuesday presents the broader aspect of that agitation for reform which has been moving the minds of a number of English Roman Catholic priests for some time past. The liberalism of Leo XIII., first officially declared in the Encyclical of 1891, Berum Novarum, has in the past twelve years shown signs of nervousness, and the clergy have been forbidden to develop the political side of Christian Socialism. Another question of even greater importance threatens to divide the Roman Church,—that of Biblical exegesis. Roman Catholic scholars have, late in time, come to the conclusion that the " higher criticism" cannot be ignored. The scientific criticism of Abbe Loisy and others was con- demned by the Pope in 1893 in the Encyclical Providenlissi- mus Deus, but the condemnation was half-hearted, and no official persecution of scholars followed. Now we find that a Commission of Biblical Exegesis has been appointed to examine into the whole subject and take the place of the Inquisition with respect to heretical teaching. Rome is apparently realising—perhaps it will endeavour to contend that it has always realised—that adaptation to the environ- ment of the age is a necessity of existence.