The papal monarchy is certainly one of the most crafty, demoralizing, and oppressive despotisms that has ever disgraced the name of government. Its ambition is insatiable, its duplicity inscrutible, and its policy and measures are disgraceful and unprincipled.
THE PAPAL MONARCHY
The Papal Crown—Banner—Cabinet—Court—Decrees— Jurisprudence—Coinage—Army and Navy—Revenues—Oaths—and Spies.
Whatever plausibility the creed and ritual of the Catholic church may throw around her religious pretensions, the fact is undeniable that she is a temporal power, claiming to be the only legitimate sovereignty on earth, and the right to reduce all governments, by fair or foul means, under her absolute authority. The pope, the head of this unlimited monarchy, is a political prince; his capital is the city of Rome, and his domains, until recently, were the States of the Church. According to a practice observed at the coronation of princes, the pope is invested with national authority by ascending the Chair of State, and receiving a headdress emblematical of temporal sovereignty. These symbolical headdresses were originally garlands, invented by Prometheus in imitation of the chains which he had worn for the redemption of mankind, but which in the course of time became applied, by the Uranian priestesses to decorate themselves and their altars; by lovers, to adorn the doors of their mistresses: by the devout, to deck the animals which they devoted to sacrifice; by slave owners, to attract attention to the slaves whom the exposed for sale; by relatives, to embellish the corpse of a deceased friend; and finally, in the dark ages, when they were transformed into a variety of fantastical shapes, profusely decorated with gold, gems and pearls, and had become associated with ideas of greatness, power and authority, they were exclusively appropriated by kings to symbolize the regal authority. In the ninth century, this practice having become fashionable among the royal classes, Pope Alexander III., who was elected in 1159, aspiring to be considered rather as the successor of kings than of a fisherman, ventured to encircle his sacerdotal mitre with a regal diadem, emblematical of universal spiritual sovereignty. To this crown Pope Boniface VIII., elected in 1295, added a second, to symbolize the pope’s universal temporal power; and to this crown Pope Urban V., elected in 1363, added a third, to denote the pope’s supreme spiritual and temporal power over Europe, Asia and Africa. The adoption of these regal emblems by the holy fathers may seem in the eyes of the profane to represent not their rights, but their ambition. They claim, however, to have been moved by the Holy Ghost in adopting their head decorations; but if this pretension absolves them from the vice of ambition, it limits at the same time their authority to Europe, Asia and Africa. The Holy Ghost not having intimated the existence of America in his social intercourse with the papal monarchs, nor prescribed to them the adoption of a fourth crown to symbolize their authority over it, it is rational to infer from these facts that he intended to infer by his silence, that the popes have no right whatever of exercising any jurisdiction over its territory. If the pope’s regalia have any significance, it is that his government is restricted to Europe, Asia and Africa; and that he has no right to exercise either temporal or spiritual authority over any church, society or institution, on the American continent. But in sight of the pope’s monarchical palace, triple crown; and regal ornaments, the statue of St. Peter, erected in the seventh century, wearing a simple mitre, stands scoffing at them in eternal derision.
The pope as an independent sovereign has not only a temporal crown, but a political banner. This ensign consists of a white flag with a device of cross-keys; its white color may signify peace; the cross-keys the possession of earth and heaven; and, conjointly, these emblems may intimate that there is to be no peace until the claims of the pope to universal spiritual and temporal sovereignty is acknowledged by all nations. Apollo, the symbol of the rising sun, and Pluto, the symbol of the closing day, are represented with keys in their hands, to denote their office of opening and shutting the gates of day. It is thought by some that the idea of the papal keys was borrowed from these emblems of the Pagan Gods. But it was the custom of a conquered city to present to the victor the keys of its gates, through its officials, in token of the submission of the inhabitants to his authority. In conformity with this ancient custom, it is affirmed by the popes that Pepin, King of France, after he had wrested the Exarcate from the possession of the Lombards, presented the keys of the subjugated cities to the Holy See on the tomb of St. Peter. They assert also, that Charlemagne presented the pope with a banner, and authorized him to unfurl it in the cause of the church. But if the story of Pepin’s gift is as empty as the tomb of St. Peter, at Rome, is and always has been, of the corpse of the apostle; and if Charlemagne’s donation of cities, most of which he never possessed, and the remainder of which he governed as his own with the most jealous scrupulosity until the day of his death, it is difficult to perceive how the popes, by virtue of these gifts, can have any claim to either keys or banners.
The pope, as an independent sovereign, has also a national cabinet. His privy council is the college of cardinals; his minister of internal and foreign affairs is the cardinal secretary; his viceroys are the legates and nuncios which he accredits to foreign powers; his governors and lieutenant-governors are the Catholic bishops and archbishops, which are located in different parts of the world; and his ministers of finance and police are the priests of different grades and orders. The civil offices of the papal monarchy have always been filled by members of the sacerdotal orders, and disposed of by the holy father for money.
As an independent sovereign the pope has an imperial court. In the grades of this court he himself enjoys the first rank, being placed on an equality with God, and in some respects above him. The cardinals stand next to princes; they wear a purple mantle, the emblem of royalty; formerly they ranked in Christendom equal with kings, preceded princes of blood, and sat on the right of kings, or near the throne. The generals of the Catholic orders, the abbots, archbishops, bishops and priests, consider their titles as royal, and maintain that in consideration of them they should be exempted from the jurisdiction of civil magistrates.
As an independent sovereign the pope has the power to issue absolute decrees. The papal bulls, apostolic briefs, and encyclical letters, are the exercise of sovereign power. From the despotic tone of these documents, sometimes moderated by fear, but never from inclination, the pope evidently claims the right of interfering not only in the ecclesiastical, but also in the political affairs of all nations.
As an independent sovereign the pope has a system of jurisprudence and administrative justice. The canonical law by which he governs his monarchy consists of the Concordantia Discordantium or Decretium Gratiani; the Decratales Gregorii Noni; the Liber Sextus, by Boniface VIII; the Extravagantes Johannis XXII; the Extravagantes Communes, and the Clementinus; all of which are known under the general name of Cor-pus Juris Canonica; and all except the Extravagantes have the full authority of law. The papal system of administrative justice consists of a chief court, a civil court, and an apostolical court. The apostolical court regulates the pope’s domains and collects the taxes. The members of the court are always bishops, and the presiding officer is generally a cardinal.
As an independent sovereign the pope has exercised the governmental prerogative of coining money. The papal coins have various devices. They all have the cross-keys; most of them the triple crown; and some of them are inscribed with the word Dominus.
As an independent sovereign the pope has always maintained, when possible, an army and a navy. Pope Clement VIII. elected in 1523, raised an army of regulars and volunteers of thirty thousand foot and three thousand cavalry. Pope Leo IX. commanded an army consisting of Italian volunteers, several bands of robbers, and seven hundred Suabians. Pope Alexander VI. at the head of a powerful army conquered Bologna, Ancona, Ravenna and Ferrara. After the return of the pope to Rome from Avignon, in 1577, a standing army was formed consisting of cavalry and infantry.
The papal military organizations have been of the most formidable description. The Dominican Knights, the Teutonic Knights, the Knights of St. John, and the Knight Templars, instituted for the defence and propagation of Catholicism by the force of arms, were skilfully organized and rigorously disciplined. They assumed the vows of celibacy, poverty and unconditional obedience. They were interdicted, by the terms of their charter, from acknowledging any protector but the pope, and were made independent of any other authority. Upon becoming initiated into their orders, the pope absolved them from all human obligations, and they were required to sunder all human ties. They enjoyed all the immunities and privileges of the religious orders; and in conjunction with them formed a standing army of three hundred thousand men, fully equipped for war, exclusively devoted to the pope’s interest, and ready at his call to serve him by land or sea.
As an independent sovereign the pope has a national revenue. This revenue is domestic and foreign. From official reports the pope’s domestic revenue, in 1853, amounted to 13,000,000 florins; his foreign revenue is not publicly known. In the dark ages half of the ecclesiastical revenues of Europe flowed into the church treasury at Rome; but at present the various streams of wealth destined for the church, are diverted to convenient localities, situated in different parts of the world, to be disbursed according to regulations prescribed by the holy father. As the subject is somewhat curious, we are tempted to inquire into some of the sources of the papal revenue.
One source of the pope’s revenue is the sale of indulgences. St. Peter’s Church, at Rome, which cost 45,000,000 crowns, was chiefly built from the proceeds of this species of traffic. William Hogan furnishes some singular facts respecting this ingenious device, by which the church accommodates the wishes of the members in the commission of sin, to her pecuniary advantage. He says:
“They (the pope and the propagandi) resolved that indulgences should, in the future, be called scapulus, and thus piously enable all Catholic priests and bishops to swear on the Holy Evangelists that no indulgences were sold in the United States….. The scapula costs the purchaser one dollar. The priest who sells it tells him that in order to make it thoroughly efficacious, it is necessary that he should cause some masses to be said…. I may safely say that, on an average, every scapula sold in the United States costs at least five dollars.”—Synopsis, pp. 176, 177.
The number of Catholics in the world is computed, by Catholic authority, at 150,000,000. Some of the papal subjects would not, perhaps, purchase a scapula in a year, while others might purchase a hundred; but at the moderate estimate of one scapula annually to each Catholic, the pope would derive from this source an annual revenue of 750,000,000 dollars. The sale of the scapula would; of course, be in proportion to the wickedness of the church members; the more virtuous they were the less would they be necessitated to contribute to the coffers of the church; and as merchants and traders always scheme to create a demand for their goods, it is not reasonable that either the pope or his priests would encourage their Catholic subjects in conduct that would render them of no value to them; and that would injure the sale and lessen the demand of their articles of trade, by which their treasure and luxuries are so much augmented.
Another source of the pope’s revenue are the masses which the church requires to be said for the deliverance of the souls of deceased Catholics out of purgatory. These masses were sold before the rebellion at fifty cents a piece; whether they have since risen in value in proportion to other articles, I have not the means of ascertaining. What number of masses are requisite for conjuring a Catholic layman’s soul up from purgatory, I am not informed; but there is a will of a priest recorded in Towsontown, Md.. which bequeaths to a brother priest the sum of one hundred dollars to pay for two hundred masses, “to be said for the benefit of his poor soul.” If the church will not release the soul of a priest from purgatory for less than one hundred dollars, how much does she demand of a layman for a similar purpose? It would seem that the sanctity of a priest ought enable her to get him out of the purgatorial fire, and release him from the clutches of the devil for a much less sum of money than would be requisite for the same purpose in the case of an un-anointed layman.. This traffic in the souls of dead men by the church, has been prosecuted in such an oppressive manner thai her members have sometimes been provoked to remonstrate. I once knew of a young Catholic who charged his priest with having forged a will in order to swindle him out of a great portion of his maternal inheritance. The pretext on which this pious fraud was attempted to be based was a plea that the mother of the youth had bequeathed to the priest a house of hers, in payment of a sufficient number of masses for the release of her soul from purgatory. The annual revenue derived by the pope for his service in opening the gates of purgatory to the devout must be prodigious; but the secrecy with which it is veiled renders a reliable computation exceedingly difficult. If we consider the number of Catholics that are in the world, and the probable annual number of deaths that occur among them, and calculate the sum of money which would be necessary to deliver the average number that die yearly out of the flames of purgatory, we may form some conception of the vast-ness of this resource of papal revenue. Wars, pestilence, bereavements of friends, which are calamities to families and nations, are pecuniary advantages to the church; and in proportion to the mortality of her members, she has cause to rejoice over the improvement of her finances.
Another source of the pope’s revenue are the proceeds derived from the sale of crosses, amulets, relics, pictures, beads, and articles made by monks and nuns. These articles of pious merchandise are blest by the bishop, and sold sometimes privately, and sometimes at Catholic fairs, They are supposed by the purchaser to insure him good luck, and to keep evil from his dwelling; and although they are often an unsightly set of trumpery; yet as they are consecrated by the bishops blessing, which, however, rather depreciates their intrinsic value, they are prized by the cajoled Catholics as exceeding in value either gold or gems. We have no data enabling us to calculate the amount of revenue derived by the pope from this source of income; but we may be allowed to conclude from the fact that, as the church has availed herself of its advantages in all countries and ages, it has proved exceedingly remunerative.
Another source of the papal revenue are the contributions extorted from laborers, female servants, and others of the industrial classes. I know of a servant girl who paid one dollar every autumn towards furnishing the church with winter fuel. What fuel costs the church, I do not know; perhaps little or nothing. The number of Catholics in the United States are commuted by Catholic authority to amount to 10,000,0000; and if each one contributes one dollar annually for the benefit he derives from the church furnaces, (and I am credibly informed he does), the pope receives from this source an annual income of 10,000,000 dollars. But this is not the only method by which the laboring classes are filched out of their honest gains by the holy mother. On the regular monthly pay-day of contractors for public works, and of mining, manufacturing and mechanical companies, the priest makes his appearance, And exacts a dollar a month from each of the faithful.
If there are non-Catholics among the employees, who hesitate to contribute the monthly donation, they are insulted, intimidated, and their life threatened to such a degree that they consider it prudent to yield to the demand, or seek employment elsewhere. This system of extortion is engineered among the workmen by some favorite of the Catholic priest, who makes it his business to see that he is not disappointed in getting his dollar a month. An engineer of this description, employed on the Baltimore and Ohio railroad, in his avidity to accommodate the priesthood narrowly escaped being victimized by a secular sharper. A stranger, professing to be a Catholic priest, solicited in behalf of his necessities, his charity and influence. Promptly heading a subscription list with the generous sum of two dollars and fifty cents, he was soon enabled to exult in the subscription of a very respectable amount by his fellow workmen. The list was, in accordance with usage, handed to the cashier of the establishment; but before any money was paid on its account it was discovered that the priest was a spurious one, and that the money he solicited was not intended for the treasury of the pope, but for the pocket of an unconsecrated impostor. Catholic periodicals, with commendable regard to their patrons’ interest, have frequently published instances in which pretended priests and monks have successfully gulled the faithful. When we consider the vast proportion of poor to rich Catholics in the world, it seems evident that this branch of the pope’s financial machinery, by which he wins a dollar a month from each of the industrial classes of the Catholic church, must furnish his coffers with an annual revenue exceeding that of any other government. Another source of the pope’s revenue are alms collected by an order of lay mendicants. The church, instructed by the practice of mendication among all nations and classes, at all periods of history, and under all circumstances, has been enabled to perfect a system of extraordinary comprehensiveness, sharpness and efficiency. Organ grinders, bead counters, children, mothers with babes in their arms, men without legs, the blind, the deaf, the cripple, any object that can touch? the tender or religious sympathies of the community, are employed as beggars for the pope of Rome. This description of mendicants sometimes openly solicit alms for the holy father, but at other times endeavor to conceal their mission under a mask of profound dissimulation. The eloquence of broken noses, distorted forms, mutilated limbs, and tattered garments, are made to plead with touching pathos in behalf of the papal monarch. The revenue which he derives from his numerous crowd of professional beggars, is one of the secrets of the Holy See; but from the liberality with which Catholics respond, from a sense of religious duty, and Protestants from prudential motives, it may reasonably be presumed that it is not inconsiderable.
Another source of the pope’s revenue is derived, from his foreign possessions. These possessions consist of churches, monasteries, nunneries, mission houses, edifices for schools, colleges, hospitals, asylums, private dwellings, tracts of land, and every other species of property. The papal foreign property is sometimes held in the name of the pope, sometimes in that of a priest, and sometimes in that of a corporation, real or pretended. Every priest coming to the United States, in order that he may legally be qualified to hold property for the benefit of the church, is required to take the oath of allegiance, whether he considers it consistent or not with his ordination oath. (See Hogan’s Synopsis, p. 36). In 1822 the pope claiming to be the proprietor of St. Mary’s Church at Philadelphia, leased it to a foreign priest, and sent him over to take charge of it. The trustees, and William Hogan, the recognized encumbent, refusing to obey the order of the pope’s agents, a suit of ejectment was brought against them in the Supreme Court of Pennsylvania. Judge Tilghman presided at the trial. He decided that the pope could legally hold no property in the United States, and sustained the action of the defendants. (See Hogan’s Synopsis, pp. 113,114). In a suit brought by the brothers of the order of Hermits of St. Augustine, against the county of Philadelphia, for the destruction of St. Augustine’s Church by a mob of the American party, it was discovered that the alleged corporation was entirely spurious. The pretended corporators consisted of Micheal Hurly, pastor of St. Augustine’s Church at Philadelphia, Prince Gallager, pastor at Bedford, Pa., Lewis de Barth, pastor of St. Mary’s Church at Philadelphia, Patrick Henry, pastor at Coffee Run, Chester County, Pa., and J. B. Holland, pastor at Lancaster, Pa. So profoundly secret was the existence of this company kept, that no laymen or priest outside of the pretended corporators had ever heard of it before the trial, and as the public documents contained no enrolment of it in accordance with the requirement of law, it was pronounced entirely spurious and invalid. The value of the property held in the name of this pretended corporation, in evasion of the laws of the United States, was computed at 5,000,000 dollars. Even in cities where the Catholic population is deemed numerically insignificant, millions worth of property of which the inhabitants have not the slightest conception, is owned by the pope, under cover of fictitious names or otherwise. (See Hogan’s Auric. Confess., vol. 2, p. 204, &c). Whenever the church has obtained sufficient power she has made a bequest to the coffers of the church a condition to the validity of a will; and where she has failed to acquire this power, she has still exacted a compliance with it from her members, under pain of her penalties. Splendid palaces and gorgeous church edifices alone are not adequate to satisfy the cravings of her avarice, she must have lands and every species of wealth. Wherever her priests have effected a pious entering wedge in a block of buildings, by means of a church or an asylum, they must scheme to work out the other proprietors, and monopolize the whole themselves. Their covetous eye is always fixed on some magnificent farm, and their active speculation, or deeper craft, has enabled them to become in possession of very desirable tracts of land. I know of a priest who netted ten thousand dollars by a single land speculation. The priests, by means of the confessional, become accurately acquainted with all secrets, with every contemplative movement in the general or State government, or in financial corporations, that can effect the market value of lands or stocks; and it would be exceedingly astonishing if, with this advantage, their speculations should not invariably be successful. In possession of such means, the church has in every age accumulated prodigious wealth. Before the secularization of the monastic property in Europe, the ecclesiastical domains and revenues were so great that the benefices were bestowed by kings on royal heirs. In California and Mexico, previous to the revolution that caused the sequestration of the church domains, her mission-houses owned nearly all the territory of the State. In China, even at this day, there are three bishoprics endowed by the crown of Portugal, which hold seven provinces; and the bishops of the Apostolic Vicars hold several others. The possessions of the Catholic priests render them the wealthiest citizens of the country in which they reside; and as no heir can inherit their estates, each succeeding generation is destined to see them augmented until every bishopric, however poor now, has become a princely domain, with a princely revenue, governed by a titled priest.
Every Catholic edifice in the world, and every description of property held by a priest, belongs to the pope; the real title, as lord paramount, being vested in him, whatever ostensible title policy or necessity may have induced the church to adopt. Over these possessions he exercises supreme, despotic dominion, sometimes directly, and sometimes indirectly.
We have now enumerated some of the sources of the pope’s revenue; but we have mentioned but a few of them. In fact the rites of the Catholic church partake so plainly of a financial character, that they seem to have been instituted for purposes of ecclesiastical revenue. With a fiscal system principally based on them, extending over Christendom, rigorous in its exactions on all classes, the church unites a rapacity so unprincipled, measures so oppressive and unjustifiable, deeds so horrible and arrogations so presumptuous, that were it not for her religious aspect she might be mistaken for the demon of avarice. While rolling in opulence and luxury, she stoops to the basest trickery to filch from laborers and servant girls their wages; to disinherit lawful heirs; taking advantage of ignorance and superstition, and pretending to regulate the condition of the soul in the eternal world. The immense sum of gold which she has, by means of her fiscal system, been piling up in her coffers for ages, has had no visible outlet except what has been expended in the support of her officials, and on bribery, corruption, and political intrigue. The policy that dictates the accumulation and reservation of this vast amount of treasure, must contemplate the undertaking of some gigantic enterprise; and the world may yet be startled from its slumber by the martial assertion of the church to her pretensions of supreme dominion over the world; and by the fact that she is better organized for war, and better furnished with its sinews than any other power.
As an independent sovereign the pope has oaths of allegiance which he prescribes to such of his subjects as he judges proper. According to the authority of William Hogan, the consecration oath of the Jesuistical bishops is as follows:
“Therefore, to the utmost of my power I shall and
“will defend this doctrine, and his holiness’s rights and
“customs against all usurpers, and heretical and Pro-
“testant authority whatsoever; especially against, the
“new pretended authority of the Church of England,
“and all adherents, in regard that they and she be
“usurpal and heretical, opposing the true mother church
“of Rome. I do renounce and disown my allegiance
“as due to any heretical king, prince, or State named
“Protestant, or of obedience to any of their inferior
“magistrates or officers. I do further declare the doctrine of
“the Church of England, and of Calvinists,
“Huguenots, and of the other named Protestants to be
“damnable, and they themselves are damned, and to be
“damned, that will not forsake them. I do further declare
“that I will help, assist, advise all wherever I
“shall be, in England, Scotland, Ireland, or in any
“other kingdom I shall come to, and do my best to ex-
“tirpate the heretical Protestant doctrines, and destroy
“all their pretending powers, regal or otherwise. I
“do further promise and declare, that notwithstanding
“I am dispensed with, to assume any other religion
“heretical for the propagation of the mother church’s
“interest, to keep secret and private all her agent’s
“councils from time to time, as they entrust me, and
“not to divulge, directly or indirectly, by word, writ-
“ing, or circumstance whatever, but to execute all
“that shall be proposed; given in charge, or discovered
“unto me, by you my ghostly father, or by any of his
“sacred convents. All which I, A. B. do swear by the
“blessed Trinity, and blessed Sacraments which I am
“now to receive, to perform, and on my part to keep
“inviolably, and do call all the heavenly and glorious
“hosts to witness these my real intentions to keep this
The consecration oath of a Catholic bishop is as follows:
“I do solemnly swear on the Holy Evangelists, and
“before Almighty God, to defend the domains of St.
“Peter against every aggressor; to preserve, augment
“and extend the rights, honors, and privileges of the
“Lord Pope and his successors; to observe, and with all
“my might to enforce his decrees, ordinances, reserva-
“tions, provisions, and all dispositions whatsoever;
“to persecute and combat, to the last extremity
“heretics and schismatics, and all who will not pay
“the sovereign Pope all the obedience which he shall require.”
The remainder of this oath is similar to the foregoing Jesuistical oath.
The priests of Maynooth, who form the vast majority of Catholic priests in this country, assume the following obligation to the church:
“I, A. B., do declare not to act or conduct any mat-
“ter or thing prejudicial to her, in her sacred orders,
“doctrines, tenets, or commands, without leave of its
“supreme power, or its authority under her appoint-
“ment; being so permitted, then to act, and further
“her interests, more than my own earthly good and
“earthly pleasures; as she and her head, His Holiness
“and his successors, have, or ought to have, the supremacy
“over all kings, princes, estates, or powers
“whatsoever, either to deprive them of their crowns,
“or governments, or to set up others in lieu thereof,
“they dissenting from the mother church and her com”mands.”
It is said that by rescript of Pope Pius VII., in 1818, the clause relating to “heretics” in the bishop’s oath, is omitted by the bishops subject to the British crown. It is also omitted in the following oath, published by the Nashville American Union, April 6, 1856:
“I, N.. elect of the church N., shall be from this
“hour henceforward obedient to Blessed Peter the
“Apostle, and to the holy Roman Catholic Church, and
“to the most blessed father Pope N., and to his succes-
“sors canonically chosen. I shall assist them to retain
“and defend, against any man whatever, the Roman
“Popedom, without prejudice to my rank; and shall
“take care to preserve, defend and promote the rights,
“honors, privileges, and authority of the holy Roman
“Church, of the Pope, and his successors aforesaid.
“With my whole strength I shall observe, and cause to
“be observed by others, the rules of the Holy Fathers,
“the decrees, ordinances, or dispositions and mandates
“of the Apostolic See.”
The next clause declares the willingness of the bishop to attend synods, give an account to the pope of every thing appertaining to the church and his flock, and obey such apostolic mandate as he shall receive. The oath concludes thus:
“I shall not sell, nor give away, nor mortgage,
“enfeoff anew, nor in any way alienate the possessions
“belonging to my table, without the leave of the Ro-
“man Pontiff. And should I proceed to any alienation
“of them, I am willing to contract, by the very fact,
“the penalties specified in the constitutions published
“on this subject.’
The Sanfideste’s oath, exacted by Pope Gregory of his military forces, was as follows:
“I swear to elevate the altar and the throne upon the
“infamous Liberals, and to exterminate them without
“pity for the cries of their children, or the tears of
“their old men.”
William Hogan, speaking of the instructions given him previous to his embarkation for America, by his bishop, describes it as follows:
“Let it be your first duty to extirpate heretics, but be cautious as to the manner of doing it. Do nothing without consulting the bishop of the diocese in which you may be located, and if there be no bishop there, advise with the metropolitan bishop. He has instructions from Rome, and he understands the character of the people. Be sure not to permit the members of the holy church who may be under your charge to read the Bible. It is the source of all heresy. Wherever you see an opportunity of building a church, make it known to your bishop. Let the land be purchased for the Pope, and his successors in office. Never yield or give up the divine right which the head of the church has, by virtue of the keys, to the command of North America, as well as every other country. The confessional will enable you to know the people by degrees; with the aid of that holy tribunal, and the bishops, who are guided by the spirit of God, we may expect at no distant day, to bring over North America to our holy church.”—Synopsis, pp.110, 111.
The atrocious doctrine that it is proper to equivocate, to dissimulate, and to deceive by mental reservations, is boldly defended by the highest authorities of the Catholic church. Dens says: “Notwithstanding it is not lawful to lie, or to feign what is not, however, it is lawful to dissemble what is, or to cover the truth with words, or other ambiguous or doubtful signs, for a just cause, and when there is not a necessity of confessing.”—(Theol., vol. 2, p. 116). Again, he says: “The Vicar of God, in the place of God, remits to man the debt of a plighted promise.”—(lb., 4: 134, 135). St. Liqnori says: “It is certain, and a common opinion among all divines, that for a just cause it is lawful to use equivocation, and to confirm it with an oath.”—(Less. 1, 2, ch. 41, n. 47).
The obligation of all oaths of allegiance in conflict with the papal clerical oaths, or the interests of the pope, are declared by the universal authority of the church to be null and void. Dens says: “All the faithful, also bishops and patriarchs, are bound to obey the Roman pontiff. The pope hath also not only directive, but coactive power over the faithful.”—(De Eccles. No. 94, p. 439). Pope Urban, elected in 1087, says: “Subjects are not bound to observe the fealty which they swear to a Christian prince, who withstands God and the saints, and condemns the precepts.”—(Pithon, p. 260). Pope Gregory IX says: “The fealty which subjects have sworn to a Christian king, who opposes God and his saints, they are not bound by any authority to perform.”—Decret., vol. 1, p. 648). Again he says: “An oath contrary to the utility of the church is not to be observed.”—Vol. 2, p. 358.) And again he asserts: “You are not bound by an oath of this kind, but on the contrary you are freely bid Good-speed in standing against kings for the rights and honors of that very church, and even in legislatively defending your own peculiar privileges.”—(Vol. 2.. p. 360). Bronson, speaking of the church says: “As the guardian and judge of law she must have power to take cognizance of the State, and to judge whether or not it does conform to the condition and requirement of its trust, and to pronounce sentence accordingly.”—(Rev. Jan. 1854) Pope Pius V., in relation to Queen Elizabeth, said: “We do declare her to be deprived of her pretended right to the kingdom, and of all dominion whatsoever; and also the subjects sworn to her to be forever dissolved from any such oath.” Pope Innocent III., elected in 1198, “Freed all that were bound to those who had fallen into heresy, from all fealty, homage, and obedience.”—(Pithon, p. 24).
Bronson says: “Rome divided her British territory into dioceses, and sends cardinals to London, notwithstanding the laws that England shall not thus be divided.”—(Rev., April, 1854). The trustees of the church of St. Louis, at Buffalo, N. Y., having refused to comply with the canons of the Council of Trent in violating the trust laws of the State of New York, the bishop proceeded to excommunicate them. In consequence of this conduct, the legislature of 1855 passed an act defining ecclesiastical tenure. In a letter of Bishop Hughes, dated March 28th, 1855, and published in the Freeman’s Journal, respecting this law, he says: “Now in this it seems to meddle with our religion, as well as our civil rights; and we shall find twenty ways outside the intricate web of its prohibitions for doing, and doing more largely still, the very thing it wishes us not to do.”
A curious and very objectionable feature of the papal monarchy is, a system of searching espionage which it attempts to establish over society. In addition to the confessors and spiritual guides by which the pope seeks to discover the thoughts, and direct the conduct of his Catholic subjects, he employs a set of men and women who, in the capacity of servants scrutinize the domestic affairs of non-Catholics, mark, their conversation, and communicate-all important facts through their superior, to him at Rome. As an illustration of the disrespectful inquisitiveness, and base incivility of this department of the papal government, we submit the following facts furnished by William Hogan:
“Soon after my arrival in Philadelphia,” says he, “I became acquainted with a Protestant family. I had the pleasure of dining occasionally with them, and could not help noticing a seemingly delicate young man, who waited at the table…. Not long after this a messenger called at my room to say that Theodore was taken ill, and wished to see me. I was then officiating as a Romish priest, and calling to see him was shown up stairs to a garret room, into which, after a loud rap, and announcement of my name, I was admitted….
“He deliberately turned out of his bed, locked the door, and very respectfully handed me a chair, and asked me to sit down as he had something very important to tell me…. ‘Sir, you have taken me for a young man, but you are mistaken; I am a girl, but not so young as I appeared in my boy’s dress. I sent for you because I want to get a character, and confess to you before I leave the city.’ I answered, ‘You must explain yourself more fully before you can do either.’ I moved my chair farther from the bed, and tightened my grasp on a sword-cane which I carried in my hand. ‘Feel no alarm,’ said the now young woman, ‘I am armed as well as you are,’ taking from under her jacket an elegant poignard. ‘I will not hurt you. I am a lay sister belonging to the order of Jesuists in Stonyhurst, England, and wear this dagger to protect myself. There was no longer any mystery in the matter. I knew now where I was, and the character of the being that stood before me. I discovered from her that she had arrived in New Orleans some time previous, with all due recommendation to the priests and nuns of that city…. They received her with all due caution as far as could be seen by the public; but privately in the warmest manner. Jesuists are active and diligent in the discharge of duties to their superiors., and of course this lay sister, who was chosen from among many for her zeal and craft, lost no time in entering on her mission. The Sisters of Charity took immediate charge of her, recommended her as a chambermaid to one of the most respectable Protestant families in that city, and having clothed her in an appropriate dress, she entered on her employment…. So great a favorite did she become in the family, that in a short time she became acquainted with all the circumstances and secrets, from those of the father to those of the smallest child.
“According to the custom universally in vogue, she kept notes of every circumstance which may tend to elucidate the character of the family, never carrying them about her, but depositing them with the mother abbess especially deputed to take charge of them….. Thus did this lay sister continue to go from place to place, from family to family, until she became better acquainted with the politics, the pecuniary means, religious opinions, and whether favorable or not to the propagation of popery in this country, than even the very individuals with whom she associated…. This lay sister, this excellent chambermaid, or lay Jesuist sister, wished to come North to a better climate….
“Americans can be gulled. The Sisters of Charity have always in readiness some friend to supply them with the means of performing corporeal acts of mercy. This friend went around to the American families where this chambermaid had lived from time to time, told them she wanted to come as far as Baltimore, that it was a pity to have her travel as a steerage passenger; a person of her virtue and correct deportment should not be placed in a situation where she might be liable to insult and rude treatment…. A handsome purse was soon made up, a cabin passage was engaged, and the young ladies on whom she waited made her presents of every article of dress necessary for her comfort and convenience. She was the depository of all their love stories; she knew the names of their lovers,… and if there were secrets among them they were known to her; and, having made herself acquainted with the secrets of New Orleans, she arrived in Baltimore…. She took possession of a place as soon as convenient, and spent several months in that city…. Having now become acquainted with the secret circumstances of almost every Protestant family of note in Baltimore, and made her report to the mother abbess of the nunnery of her order in that city, she returned to the District of Columbia, and after advising with the mother abbess of the convent, she determined to change her apparent character and apparel.
“By advice of this venerable lady and holy prioress, on whom many of the wives of our national representatives, and even grave senators, looked as an example of piety and chastity, she cut her hair, dressed her in a smart looking waiter’s jacket and trowsers, and with the best recommendations for intelligence and capacity, applied for a situation as Waiter in Gadsby’s Hotel, in Washington city. This smart and tidy looking young man got instant employment…. Those senators on whom he waited, not suspecting that he had the ordinary curiosity of servants in general, were entirely thrown off their guard, and in their conversations with one another seemed to forget their usual caution. Such, in short, was their confidence in him, that their most important papers and letters were left loose upon the table, satisfied by saying, as they went out: ‘Theodore, take care of my room and papers.’…. Now it was known whether Henry Clay was a gambler; whether Daniel Webster was a libertine; whether John C. Calhoun was an honest but credulous man…. In fact this lay sister in male uniform, but a waiter in Gadsby’s Hotel, was enabled to give more correct information of the actual state of things in this country, through the general of the Jesuist order in Rome, than the whole corpse of diplomats from foreign countries then residing at our seat of government…. ‘I want a written character from you. You must state in it that I have complied with my duty, and as it is necessary that I should wear a cap for a while, you must say that you visited me in my sick room, that I confessed to you, received the viaticum, and had just recovered from a violent fever. My business is not done yet. I must go to New York, where the Sisters of Charity will find a place for me as a waiting maid.”—Auricular Confession, volume 2: pp. 99-108.
Through the instrumentality of this execrable system of espionage, the pope becomes acquainted with the character, intentions, and acts of every important private and public personage; with the nature and object of every secret society; with the private intentions of every government; with the incipiency and progress of every seditious and treasonable project; and is prepared at all times, by the accuracy and comprehensiveness of his information, to instruct his generals in the actual state of affairs existing in any part of the world, and to direct their conduct in the advancement of his interest, by the most prudent and enlightened council.
The Pope’s Direct Authority—His Opposition to Marriage—To Slavery—His Claim to Temporal Power on the forged Decretal
Letter of Constantine—On the Fictitious Gift of Pepin—On the Pretended Donation of Charlemagne—on the Disputed
Bequest of Matildaf Duchess of Tuscany—The Title of Pope a Usurpation—The Papal Artful Policy—The State of Italy under the Papal Government.
We have now sketched the pope’s temporal monarchy, which has its seat in Rome, and its subjects in every part of the world. He claims to be invested by divine right with supreme sovereignty over earth, heaven and hell. To question the legitimacy of this claim is condemned, and has been punished as blasphemous by his authority. Joseph Wolf, of Halle, a Jew who had been converted to the Catholic faith, was, while studying divinity at the Seminarium Romanum, imprisoned for blasphemy for having expressed a doubt of the pope’s infallibility. Fra Paola, who had expressed in a private letter that so far from coveting the dignities of Rome he held them in abomination, and who had advocated liberty in a dispute which had occurred between the pope and the Venitian government, was summoned to Rome to answer for his criminal assertions and conduct; and though acquitted of the allegations preferred against him, narrowly escaped the assassin’s dagger.
But the “More than God,” the Pope, is a very jealous “more than God.” He allows no master to stand between him and his subjects. His authority over mind and body must be direct, and all influences or institutions that obstruct it must be annihilated.. Hence Cardinal Ballarmine, the distinguished papal controversialist, who was so devout a Catholic that when he died he bequeathed one half of his soul to Jesus Christ and the other half to the Virgin Mary, provoked the censure of the holy father by asserting in a publication that the pope’s influence in temporal matters was not direct but indirect. As husbands obstruct the direct influence of popes on wives, parents on children, and friends on friends, he would nullify the conjugal, parental, filial and social relations. Hence in a canon of the Council of Trent, he pronounces a curse on all who say that marriage is preferable to celibacy. Should the prompting of the social instincts be too strong to be repressed by the terrors of canonical anathemas, and should they in natural indifference to them still create the bonds, connections, and institutions of friendship and families, he has a clerical machinery skilfully adapted to moderate their influences and reciprocities, and to maintain the predominence of his direct authority. Michelet, the philosophical historian and celebrated controversialist, in a work entitled “Priests, Women and Children,” has explained the ingenious method by which this object is effected. By separating as much as possible the husband from the wife, and the children from their parents, the direct papal influence, through the priest, is exerted on the isolated husband abroad, on the lonely wife at home, and the defenceless children in nunnery schools and Catholic asylums. Examples of a similar policy are portrayed by Eugene Sue, a Catholic, in his “Wandering Jew.” The logical consequence of the dogma of the pope’s direct authority has, in fact, made the Catholic church a “free love” institution. Chastity and marriage she tolerates because she cannot do otherwise; but in the lives of her monks, her priests, her popes, and her saints, she as practically ignores as she consistently hates them.
The jealous claim of the pope to a direct influence on the mind of his subjects, has unavoidably made the church an inveterate enemy of human slavery. The pope hates slavery, not because he wishes men free, but because he wishes to exercise a direct authority over their minds. The master nullifies the pope’s influence on the slave, and therefore he wishes him removed. No influence is equal to that of a master. The whip he holds over the back of his slave, and the power he has over his life, annihilates all other influences. Hence the Catholic church has always been opposed to slavery. Guizot remarks, respecting feudal slavery: “It cannot be denied, however, that the church has used its influence to restrain it; the clergy in general, and especially several popes, enforced the manumission of slaves as a duty incumbent on laymen, and loudly enveighed against keeping Christians in bondage.”—(Gen. Hist., Lect. VI., p. 132). Pope Pius II., in 1462, in a letter addressed to the bishops of Eubi; Pope Paul III., in 1537, in his apostolic letter to the cardinal bishops of Toledo; Pope Urban VII., in 1590, in an apostolic letter to the Collector Jurium of the apostolic churches of Portugal; Pope Benedict XIV., in 1731, in his apostolic letter to the clergy of Brazil; and Pope Pius VII., in his official address to his clergy, all denounced the traffic in blacks, and demanded that every species of slavery should cease among Christians. Pope Gregory, in his apostolic letter of 1839 says: “We, then, by virtue of our apostolic authority, censure all the aforesaid practices as unworthy the Christian name, and by that same authority we strictly prohibit and interdict any ecclesiastic or layman from presuming to uphold, under any pretext or color whatever, that same traffic in blacks, as if it were lawful in its nature, or otherwise to preach, or in any way whatever publicly or privately to teach in opposition to these things which we have made the subject of our admonition in this our apostolic letter.” We are aware that African slavery owes its origin to a Catholic priest, who, perceiving that the demand for laborers in the West India was likely to subject the Indians to bondage, suggested as a less wrong that negroes should be purchased of the Portuguese settlements in Africa, and held as slaves for life; but whatever were his private opinions respecting the propriety of African slavery, his church has never recognized it as legal.
The perversion of public opinion by the Catholic church, and the practical beguilement of her warmest friends, effected by the consummate craft with which she plots to achieve her objects, have presented fresh evidence to the world in the singular fact, that while she is radically the most efficient abolition society that ever was projected, and that while in her official mandates to the clergy she has invariably denounced the traffic in human beings as infamous, yet has she commanded the homage of the American slave-holder for her friendly disposition towards the Southern institution; and induced her members, while using them as instruments in the accomplishment of her projects for the abolishment of slavery, to hate, denounce, and to anathematize the North for its abolition proclivities.
But there were other considerations which probably stimulated the humanity of the church in her labors for the abolition of slavery. The condition of the slave precludes the possibility of his serving her in the capacity of a spy on the opinions and conduct of his master; and as he received no wages she could not assess him for her benefit. The perfection of the pope’s system of espionage, and the augmentation of his revenue, were both connected with the slave’s disenthralment. These advantages could not be undesirable to the church, and the avidity with which she has improved them, shows how clearly she foresaw them. Through accident or Jesuistical craft, it has happened, that colored servants have been supplanted to an incredible extent by white Catholic servants, who as serviceable spies far excel them. I regret not the abolishment of the revolting traffic in human beings, nor do I censure the Catholic church for the important aid she rendered in its achievement; but I hope American freemen will not want the vigilance to prevent her from improving the new condition of things, so much to her advantage as to endanger the liberty of the country.
But the “Lord God, the Pope,” who claims by divine right to be lord paramount of the world, has unwarily invalidated his title even to the “patrimony of St. Peter,” by an attempt to establish it by forged decretal letters. Forgeries are criminal acts, and punished by all nations as high misdemeanors. They are prejudicial to the ground of action of a claimant, and as evident proof of an intent to swindle, as they are of a base and contemptible origin. When successful, they may overhang the mind for a while, as clouds in a dead still atmosphere do the earth; but at the slightest breeze they are dissipated, and the superstructure based upon them, though gorgeous as the setting sun, will, like its area! enchantment, break up and dissolve away. Yet of such base and flimsy material are the pope’s claim to temporal power constructed. Innumerable bulls, decretals, receipts, briefs, canons, letters, interdicts, and other documents, have been forged, altered and interpolated by the holy brotherhood, to furnish a legal basis for the pope’s temporal power. These documents were prepared between the third and ninth centuries, and carefully treasured up in the papal archives, ready for use as occasion might require. One of the boldest of these pious forgeries is the decretal letter attributed to Constantine the Great, forged probably by Benedict of Mentz, in the ninth century. It reads as follows:
“We attribute to the Chair of St. Peter all imperial dignity, and power and glory. We give to Pope Sylvester, and to his successors, our palace of Lateran, one of the finest in the world; we give to him our crown, our mitre, our diadem, all our imperial vestments. We give to the Holy Pontiff as a free gift the city of Rome, and all the cities of Western Italy, as well as all the cities of other countries. To make room for him we abdicate our authority over these provinces, transferring the seat of our empire to Byzantium, since it is not just that a temporal emperor shall retain any power where God has set the head of his church.”
The reason assigned for the bestowal of this magnificent donation was gratitude on the part of Constantine, for having been cured of leprosy through the administration of the rite of baptism at the hands of Pope Sylvester. But it is historically established that Constantine did not receive the rite of baptism until a late hour in his last sickness; that when he did receive it, it did not cure his malady; and that the rite was administered, not by the Pope of Rome, but by an Arian bishop. Whatever donations of crowns, kingdoms and cities were bestowed on the bishop who officiated on the occasion, were unquestionably granted to a heretical sectary; and if Rome does not wish to confess herself an Arian, she cannot consistently claim their gifts. But even had the case been otherwise, how could Constantine bestow on the pope all the cities of Western Italy, and of all other countries, when he did not possess them himself? As the gift of a donor is worthless unless he has an actual right in what he bestows, the pretensions of the pope on the ground of Constantine’s gift, are an actual nullification of all his claims to temporal sovereignty. It is generally conceded that Constantine allowed the pope the use of some buildings in Rome; but it is denied that he ever invested him with a title to them as lord paramount. This limited indulgence was the pope’s precedent for holding real estate, and formed the basis of his claim to all the crowns and kingdoms of the world. But like the rapacious dog, who, with his mouth full of meat, lost all he had by snapping at the shadow of more in a river, the pope, by attempting through forged documents to grasp at all the world, has lost his title, to any part of it.
Although the decretal letter attributed to Constantino was palpably spurious, yet such was the general ignorance of the times, the respect for the sanctity and infallibility of the pope, and the danger of provoking the wrath of the inquisition by questioning a dogma of the church, that its validity was not called into question.
At length, however, in a legal proceedings of a monastery at Sabine, its fraudulent character was attempted to be substantiated. The bold criticisms of Laurentius Valla, in the fifteenth century, gave the first decisive blow to its credibility, and in the succeeding age it sunk into public contempt, beneath the scorn of historians, the ridicule of poets, and the concessions of theologians. But notwithstanding its universally acknowledged spurious character, such is the reluctance of the popes to yield a point, that it still continues to remain a portion of the canon law of the holy Catholic church.
The alleged gift of Pepin to the Roman See forms another pretext by which the popes have endeavored to lay a basis for their claim to the right of temporal sovereignty. Pope Gregory excited a rebellion against the authority of the Emperor Leo III., in the course of which the Italian Exarcate was dismembered from the empire. It was decided by the victors that the government should be administered by two Consuls, in which the pope should participate, not in a secular, but in a paternal capacity. For a monarch claiming the world as a just inheritance, and all princes and governors as his menials, to accept such a humble concession to his unlimited authority, and such an ambiguous office, is the most remarkable instance on record of a monarchial condescension. He, however, not only accepted it, but what is still more surprising, accepted it with eagerness and gratitude; and even intrigued to obtain it. But during the administration of Pope Stephen II. the victorious sword of the Lombards wrung the Exarcate from the Consular government of Rome. The pope, to retrieve his fortunes applied to Pepin, Mayor of France, who, responding with an adequate force, reconquered the Exereate, and expelled the barbarians. Grateful for the martial services of Pepin, the pope solicited of the civil authority the privilege of appointing him Patriarch of Rome, a title which was borne by the former Exarchs; and by this innocent method initiated a precedent which soon ripened into a prerogative of appointing civil magistrates. Having thus advanced the interests of the Holy See by complimenting its deliverer, he next ventured to anoint his head with oil, in hopes that in thus imitating the example of Samuel in anointing kings, future popes might have a pretext for usurping his prerogatives in acknowledging their right to reign. Pepin, who ruled France under the title of Mayor, wished to imprison the heir to the throne and usurp the government, and the pope gave him his opinion that it was best for him to do so. In grateful consideration of these extraordinary favors, it is alleged by the popes that Pepin bestowed the conquered domains, consisting of the Exereate and the Pentopolis (five cities) on the See of Rome, as supreme absolute lord. It is, nevertheless, certain, that Pepin’s donations to the Holy See were on condition of its vassalage to the Frankish power, and that during his life he exercised absolute sovereignty over Rome, and over all his conquests, and allowed no pope to be either elected or consecrated without his permission.
The right of the monarch of the world to temporal power, which was first founded upon the usurpation of Constantine, and next upon the conquests of Pepin, was annihilated by the conquests of the Lombards. Desiderious, their king, wrested the Exercate from Rome; and wishing to subjugate Charlemagne under his authority, proposed to Pope Adrian I. that he should excite the subjects of that prince to rebellion, declare him a usurper, and crown his nephews in his place. Adrian listened to these overtures with seeming friendship, but with malignant delight, and secretly communicating their substance to Charlemagne, the sword of the latter was immediately drawn in behalf of the church; the pope revenged; Desiderius imprisoned for life in a monastery; and all Italy, except the Duchy of Benevento and the lower Italian republics, were reconquered. Upon this signal success of his arms, it is alleged by the popes that the blood-stained warrior, to purchase masses for the benefit of his soul, confirmed the Holy See in the absolute possession of the former grants of Pepin. The only copy ever known of these pretended donations is one received by Cancio, the pope’s chamberlain, in the twelfth century. The undeniable historical fact that Charlemagne asserted, and maintained during his whole life, a jealous and inalienable right to Rome, and to every other portion of his dominions, casts a dark shade of suspicion upon the genuineness of these documents. Even were they, authenticated, yet as the right of a monarch to annul is equal to his right to grant, and as his practice is the evidence of what he surrenders or annuls, the exclusive sovereignty which Charlemagne maintained over his Italian conquests, until the day of his death, is a complete nullification of any grant that he had made to the pope, and positive proof that any right or title to Rome, or to temporal power, constructed upon them by the holy fathers, is as invalid, futile and ludicrous, as if they were based on a grant from the man in the moon; in whose place of abode a traveller, according to Ariosto, once found some of the lost documents upon which the popes base their claim to temporal dominion. Besides these laborious but ineffectual efforts to fabricate historical data in support of the papal pretension to temporal sovereignty, Gregory VII., in 1075 asserted that Matilda, Duchess of Tuscany, had bequeathed to the church her domains. These possessions consisted of Tuscany, a part of Umbria, a part of Mark Ancona, and the Duchies of Spoleto and Verona. The validity of these bequests was disputed by the natural heirs; the contest lasted three hundred years, during which Italy was distracted, and Germany depopulated. Frederic I., in vindication of his claims against the pretensions of the pope, invaded Italy on three different occasions. Henry IV. emperor of Germany, thrice crossed the Alps to chastise the popes for aggressions on the Germanic possessions in Italy. During the first campaign pope Paschal was made a prisoner; but on the approach of the imperial army a second time he fled from Rome. Yet amid the disputes of the Germanic succession, and during the minority of Frederic II., the arms and intrigues of the pope won the concession of Europe to his claim of Matilda’s estates.
The spurious character of the pope’s title to temporal power has been exposed by the ablest Catholic authors, and rejected with impatient contempt by history. But the arguments which have converted a world, have never been able to convert the popes. They still maintain that the reputed donations of Constantine, of Pepin, of Charlemagne and of Matilda, are real and valid. This assertion may appear incredible, but in 1822 Marino Malini, the pope’s chamberlain, endeavored to establish the genuineness of the fictitious charters of Louis-de-Debonnaire, of Otho I., and of Henry II., in vindication of the pope’s titles of the alleged grants to the See of Rome.
If the apostolic chair of St. Peter is endowed with a divine title to universal temporal sovereignty, a human title is superfluous. The indefatigable exertions of the popes to establish a human title to their temporal possessions, is a concession that they have no divine title to them, and that a human title is necessary to the validity of their claim. But as they have based their title on the authority of forged documents, and endeavored to fortify and maintain it by successive fabrications of the same nature, it is evident that they are fully and alarmingly conscious that they have no title, either by virtue of their office, or by that of any donation whatever, to temporal possession or Authority.
Not only is the holy fathers temporal power a usurpation, but so is also his exclusive claim to the use of the title of pope. Every bishop, and even some laymen, in the first centuries of Christianity, bore this title. In the ancient Greek church it was bestowed upon every clergyman. At the General Council of Constantinople, in 869, its adoption was first limited to the four patriarchs. And in the course of the usurpations of the holy fathers, pope Gregory VII., by authority of an Italian Council, finally assumed it as the exclusive title of the bishops of Rome.
The popes, the monarchs of the world, in vindicating their title to the States of the Church, had to maintain a long, bloody and desperate struggle, during which their domains were abridged or enlarged, lost or wont according to the varying fortunes of their arms and intrigues. But as these warlike enterprises of the holy fathers were intimately connected with the convulsions and revolutions of Europe, it will prevent repetition by deferring further allusion to them until we arrive at the subsequent chapters, in which we shall consider the papal political intrigues in general.
The papal monarchy is certainly one of the most crafty, demoralizing, and oppressive despotisms that has ever disgraced the name of government. Its ambition is insatiable, its duplicity inscrutible, and its policy and measures are disgraceful and unprincipled. The popes have converted the courteous indulgence of friendship into inviolable rights, and from the feeblest concession have manufactured the most exorbitant claim. Pretending to be spiritual advisers, they became temporal despots. Soon as they had acquired the right of owning a farm, they asserted the fight of owning a kingdom; and when the right was conceded of owning a single kingdom, they claimed the right of owning all the kingdoms of the earth. A church, a mission-house, an acre of land they construed into an implication that they had a right to all power, temporal or spiritual, for which their capacious maw could crave. They first founded mission-houses in different parts of the world; next they claimed absolute jurisdiction over them. Disputes respecting property arising between the citizens of Rome and these foreign mission-houses of the church, the popes claimed the exclusive right to arbitrate between them. The right to arbitrate gave them the power to judge, and the opportunity of adjusting disputes according to their advantage. As ecclesiastical litigation conduced to the extension of their authority, pontiffs were not always too honorable to discourage the causes which favored their mediatorial interposition. From the right to arbitrate between churches, they next claimed the right to arbitrate between subjects, then between cities, then between nobles, and then between monarchs. As their mediation in church or state affairs enabled them to adjust disputes according to their policy, they insidiously labored to multiply the causes which favored their friendly intervention.
By a succession of forgeries, usurpations, and skilful manoeuvres the papal government advanced, in the progress of events, from an obscure origin to supreme secular and spiritual jurisdiction. By gradual steps the popes acquired the right to decide on ecclesiastical and matrimonial questions; to dispose of church dignities and benefices; to protect their temporal acquisitions from alienation by the interdiction of the marriage of the clergy; to abridge the investiture of bishoprics by the princes; to reduce the clergy to absolute dependence on their favor by dissolving all bonds of interest which subsisted between the bishops and the princes; to convene at option synods and councils, and to exercise the prerogative of ratifying their decrees; to command the concession of their infallibility; to enforce confessors on princes and statesmen; to introduce the inquisition into kingdoms; and to regulate and superintend schools and colleges. The attainment of these objects was the work of centuries. Conceiving a desire in one age, they plotted for its accomplishment through the events and discords of succeeding ages; and when machinations had matured their plan, they consummated their wishes by usurpation. The pretensions to the alleged donation of Pepin, of Charlemagne, of Matilda, and of the Gothic princes, were not asserted until long after the death of the pretended donors, nor until art and intrigue had prepared the way for it. The alleged grant of Constantine was first announced in 765 by Pope Adrian I., in an epistle to Charlemagne. The claim to the estates of Matilda was first made by Pope Paschal, on the ground that they were granted to the Holy See as a fief; and next by pope Innocent II., on the ground that they had been granted to it as lord paramount. The participation of Pope Leo III. in the Consular government of Rome, in a paternal capacity, was the first instance of a pope’s exercising temporal authority. The anointing of Pepin by Pope Adrian I., in imitation of the example of Samuel, was the first semblance of the pope’s usurpation of the prerogatives of that official in acknowledging the right of kings. The victory of Nicholas I, over the Emperor Lothair, was the first papal triumph over the secular authority. The coronation of Charles the Bold, in 875, by Pope John VIII., was the first act of the papal monarch in disposing of crowns. The conquests of Robert Guiscard, instigated by promises of the popes, furnished the first ground of their feudal claims. The fear of the terrible consequences of their anathemas and interdictions, the ill regulated constitution of the European States, the imperfection of domestic and international law, and the efficient operation of the papal machinery, enabled them to render kingdom after kingdom tributary to the Holy See. England, from the period of the introduction of the Catholic church into her realm; Belgaria and Aragon, from the eleventh century; Poland and Hungary from the thirteenth century; and the kingdom of the two Sicilies, from 1265, had been reduced to dependency on the sacerdotal monarchy; and had the crusades been successful, favored by the confusion which it had universally’ produced with regard to the rights of citizens and the titles of property, it would have, under the pretext of a zeal to wrest the sepulchre of Christ from the possession of the Infidels, reduced the world to a state of vassalage. The success of the political measures and intrigues of the Holy See havings at the time of Gregory VII., raised it to a high degree of power and importance, he attempted to convert it into a theocratical government, with the pope for its head, the priests for its officials, the people for its subjects, and the world for its dominion. Under Innocent III, elected in 1195, it acquired almost unlimited spiritual and temporal authority. Under Sixtus V., in 1585, it contemplated the subjugation of Russia and Egypt, but the death of Bathore, Duke of Tuscany, frustrated the design. But under Pope Clement XII., in 1652, its power began to decline. He was obliged to cede Naples to Germany, the quarters of the pope’s embassadors in Venice to the Venitian government, and the right of investiture in Savoy to the secular authority. Pope Pius VI., elected in 1775, beheld the church property in France confiscated, and the religious orders suppressed; in Naples the abolition of the customary tribute of a horse; in Germany the interdiction of the nunciature; in Italy the dismemberment of Romagna, Bologna and Ferrara; and finally, the French troops entering Rome and declaring it a republic.
It is evident from the facts that have been adduced, that the Catholic church, or the papal monarchy, designates an institution which has politics for its principles, monarchy for its object, and religion for its garb. It is not only political in its nature and design, but it is a political despotism, insulting in its pretensions to the common sense of mankind, and dangerous in its principles to the rights of independent governments. When we consider the monarchial principles with which it is constituted; its blasphemous arrogation of the attributes and prerogatives of the deity; its presumptuous claim to supreme jurisdiction over all other governments; the base forgeries which it has committed in the support of its arbitrary pretensions; its impious scoff at secular promises, contracts, laws, oaths and constitutions; its atrocious sanctions of prevarication, of evasion, and of mental reservation; its disgraceful system of espionage; its system of finance, by which it wrings from beggars their pittance, from the laborer the reward of his toil, from the dying the inheritance of heirs; that it may pile the wealth of the world in secret coffers, to be lavished on bribery, on corruption, on political intermeddling, on fomenting sedition and conspiracies, and ultimately, through the means of their disorganizing agencies, for the subjugation of all governments under its absolute authority. When we behold the blood-stained sword which it has drawn in the support of its frauds and usurpations; the frequent convulsions with which its unprincipled ambition has shaken the world; its triumphs over science, freedom and human right; the rapine, devastated fields, and burning cities which has marked the progress of its career; or when we turn our eyes to its late condition in Italy, and see, in the nineteenth century, under its authority, the inquisition at its bloody work; the study of philosophy banished from universities; no book allowed to be published, or imported, except such as meet the approval of bigoted censors; the government sustained only by suppressing insurrection; the prisons crowded with heretics; political offenders cruelly put to death; the nation struggling for freedom, but bound in the fetters of despotism—good heavens! what a scourge is it, and has it been to mankind. Bigotry and superstition may chaunt its victories; but a land once prosperous, now choked up and oppressed with the ruins of its former greatness; fields once fertile now turned into barren wastes; a people once the most valiant, polished and civilized, now the most debased, rude and imbecile—with ancestors that governed the world, now not able to govern themselves; a commonwealth of kings, now a commonwealth of slaves; where for liberty Cicero plead, Brutus stabbed and Cato died, now a pope curses, an inquisition murders, and prisons reverberate with the groans of patriots and freemen. These, oh patriots! are the eternal monuments that commemorate the progress and achievements of the papal monarchy. The usurper of all rights, the sanctifier of all wrongs, the shrine of bigotry, the model of despotism: the church now stands reaffirming the crimes and errors of centuries, and is thirsting for an opportunity of repeating its past horrible history. Such is the papal monarchy; such is the Catholic church; such is the political institution which she claims the divine authority to obtrude, by any means, on the world; and such are the demoralizing, seditious and treasonable principles which she carries in her bosom, scatters in her pathway, and is laboring to implant in the American republic, in order that she may overthrow its structure, that monarchy may supplant its liberal principles, despotic decrees its legislative enactments, arbitrary appointments its popular elections, aristocracy its equality, slavery its freedom, usurpation its guarantees of natural rights, and bigotry, violence, and superstition its tolerance, order and science.
SOURCE: MONKS, POPES, AND THEIR POLITICAL INTRIGUES-By John Alberger- Baltimore 1871