3. The Bishop of Coutançes.—“Having been taught that pious opinion from boyhood, we, for ourselves and as the interpreters of the whole Clergy, all profess that Mary was conceived without stain. Yet we are persuaded, that there is no necessity or advantage in deciding or teaching, as an Article of faith,that Mary was conceived without stain of original sin; nay, we all unanimously think it inopportune and full of peril. For whence should that necessity or advantage be derived? No question is raised about it; no adversary of the Immaculate Conception, not the very least, appears; Catechists teach it to boys, Divinity Professors to seminarists, Preachers of the Divine word to the faithful. Everywhere piously preached, it is everywhere piously received.
“Moreover, neither the Church nor the Holy See ever, as far as we know, erected any opinion piously believed into the dignity of a dogma, unless some controversy of greater moment were raised about it.
“We think then, positively, that there is absolutely no fitting occasion for it; but there appears to us grave peril, if the matter be touched in the very least.
“Every one knows with what efforts Rationalists and Protestants are assailing the bark of Peter, the authority of the Roman Pontiff, nay, the Church herself. Every one knows how many blasphemies the enemies of the Christian name pour out to weaken the Divine Monarchy. Every one knows with what calumnies those same inexorable enemies impugn daily the articles of faith.
“If what was hitherto a mere opinion is to-morrow, at the good pleasure of certain Bishops, to be believed de Fide, under pain of damnation; if, what the S. Council of Trent itself (as Pallavicini attests) would not decree, although then controverted and strongly impugned; if, what Pope Pius V., of holy memory, Gregory XV., and Alexander VII. declared to be, not a dogma, but a mere pious opinion, what might be contradicted without note of heresy, should be delivered as a doctrine by decree of the present supreme Pontiff, would not the aforesaid Rationalists and all uncatholics take occasion for assailing anew and more fiercely all our doctrines with their impious speeches? Nay, doubtless, a handle would be given them causelessly for so doing.
“But what is to be more feared, than to raise up these waves of passions and opinions, especially at this time, when the whole world is shaken with unwonted commotions, in which Peter (alas!) is ejected from his See, &c.? In these storms of tribulations, in this whirlpool of great crimes, in these perils and straits of all sorts, all faithful Christians turn their eyes to Mary, think of Mary, and call on her, piously and most inwardly believing that she was conceived without stain.
“Moved by these reasons of graver moment, we judge that a dogmatic decree as to the Immaculate Conception of the Blessed Virgin Mary, which could with the greatest difficulty be derived from Holy Scripture or tradition, should, at least for a time, be abstained from.”—
An Eirenicon, by Edward Bouverie Pusey (1866) p. 164.