Rome's Syllabus Of Condemned Opinions
The Last Blast Of The Catholic Church's Medieval Trumpet
In recent literature about the Roman Catholic Church one still occasionally meets references to "the Syllabus," or the "Syllabus of Condemned Opinions." A "syllapub" was a delectable medieval drink composed of sugar, cream, brandy, sherry, and lemon -- they knew a lot about drinking in the Ages of Faith -- but what the heck a Syllabus is few have the faintest idea. The word means "a collection," and the ecclesiastical historians will tell you that it was selected as the title of a number of propositions condemned by Pope Pius IX about 90 years ago. Amongst these propositions which Catholics were sternly forbidden to entertain was almost every principle of the American Constitution that had any reference to religion. The good Catholic must regard with abhorrence such statements as that Church and State must be separated, that the ecclesiastical authority has no power over the secular, that education is the business of the State, that there must be complete religious freedom, that a man may choose his religion in the light of his reason and conscience, that all sects must be equal in the law, that a Christian is validly married in a registry office, and so on. But if you ask a Catholic official interpreter of his religion to the American public what it means, he will reply, with the familiar synthetic smile, which is so like that of a Daughter of Joy, that the Popes of 90 years ago did not know what we know today. They did not know, for instance, as slick American priests have discovered, that Thomas Jefferson, who is so largely responsible for the principles of the American Constitution, learned them, especially the great principles of Freedom and Democracy, from the pages of the Roman Jesuits, Suarez and Bellarmine. But if you know that mendacity is one of the primary qualifications of a Catholic apologist, if yon remember that the Pope imposed most of these chains upon the Italian people when he made his infamous $90,000,000 deal with Mussolini, you will want sounder information about the Syllabus. I call it the last blast of the Pope's medieval trumpet, and the reasons why I do so are forgotten historical movements of the last century which make an intriguing and instructive story. But remember the Church's motto: Immutable Rome. Have the Popes merely hung up their brazen trumpet until the glorious day comes when, through a Catholic majority in America, they will again rule the world? And in order that you may be able to form a sound idea on this point I begin with a translation of the complete Latin text of the famous docuriieiit.
WHAT THE SYLLABUS SAID
The stirring condition of the European world at which the Vatican Jupiter hurled his thunderbolt 90 years ago will be described in the next section, but I must say a few words about it before I give the text of the Syllabus. On November 24, 1848, there occurred in Rome an event which was symbolical of the mightiest revolution that had yet flared up in the history of Europe, yet I dolabt if one man in hundreds of thousands in either Europe or America today ever heard of it. A vast crowd surrounded the Pope's palace, the Quirinal. They did not threaten his life, though a few shots were fired by enthusiasts in the crowd. They demanded only that the Pope should give effect to the concession of Freedom and Democracy which he, as King of Rome and Central Italy, had recently signed and now proposed to recant. The carriage of the Bavarian Minister drove up to the palace. Presently the Minister emerged, the liveried footman ushered him into the coach and mounted the box, and they drove off. That footman was the Vicar of Christ, Pope Pius IX, flying in disguise from his "beloved people" whose new liberty, which he had sworn to respect, he was about to betray, under the shelter of the perjured King of Naples, to the perjured King of France.
In the firest half of 1848 the people of Europe had risen in revolt from North Germany to Sicily. seven kings had been shaken from their thrones or (two of them) had been suffered to hold on to their barbaric pomp only on condition that they accepted democracy. But the flight of the Pope was the beginning of the gross perjury by which, with the aid of hireling soldiers, the kings won back their feudal power and drowned democracy in a lake of blood. By 1860 a quarter of a million democrats -- men, women and children -- had either died on the scaffold or in fetid jails and penal colonies, or lingered in the jails or in exile. But their leaders, not sleek politicians such as we have today, but men like Mazzini and Garibaldi; Louis Blanc, Karl Marx, and a hundred others carried on the flight from exile. and the millinns of Italy and Spain, of Austria-Hungary and Germany, responded so well that by 1860 the ground of Europe was shaking once more. It was Footman-Pius said, all due to these damnabie Liberal and Humanist principles that certain writers were spreading, undermining his semi-divine authority, and he set his learned theologians to gather from European literature these utterly poisonous and devil-inspired new ideas and declared them "reprobated, prescribed, and condemned" with all the weight of his "apostolic authority." Here they are:
The Syllabus of Condemned Propositions
To these theologians add 11 theses which are, they say, condemned in the Bull itself:
The American Catholic has no opportunity of reading this extraordinary document for himself. No translation of the Syllabus or the Papal Encyclical that accompanied it is available to him. He has to take the word of his priests and clerical writers, who almost alone knew Latin, and it is doubtful if even one in a thousand of them has ever read even the Syllabus itself. Teday, no doubt, the priest refers the inquirer to their precious Catholic Encyclopedia, in which there is a long article by the Rev. Professor Ott, an American priest-teacher in an American Catholic College. And here is what the gentleman teaches American Catholics about this medieval collection of claims and its muddle-headed author, in the article "Pius IX":
"It is astounding how fearlessly he fought against the false liberalism that threatened to destroy the very essence of faith and religion. Though ugly misunderstandings and malice combined in representing the Syllabus as a veritable embodiment of religious narrowmindedness and cringing servility to papal authority, it has done inestimable service to the Church and to society at large by unmasking the false liberalism that had begun to insinuate its subtle poison into the very marrow of Catholics."
This is one of those calculated misrepresenattions of which, numerous as they are in his Encyclopedia, any honest Catholic ought to be ashamed, yet in the midst of his fasifications this American priest complains of "misrepresentation and malice." Turn back to clause 80 of the Syllabus. Some Catholic writer who claims, as a few did in the stormy year's, that the Vatican ouhht to come to terms with "propress, liberalism and modern civilization" is denounced. The Pope knows nothing whatever about a distinction between true and false liberaiism. All his life -- and Pius IX showered documents upon the world after 1850 -- he made no distinction whatever between shades of liberalism. Liberalism pure and simple was a child of the Reformation, which was spawn of the devil. As to the monstrous claims of this Catholic professor of our time that the opinions which the Pope condemned were a danger to "society at large," what Catholic, not having any chance to see a translation of the Syllabus, would dream after such language that all the liberal principles on the social side which are "reprobated" by the stupid Pope are now incorporated in the life and constitution of every leading civilization, and that those countries which have not yet fully accepted them -- Spain, Portugal, Eire, etc. -- lag in the rear of advancing "Society at large."
Note that I do not say that all the clauses, but the great majority of them, are now accepted throughout the really civilized part of the world, and in America even the Catholic clergy profess to accept them. Apart from these there are clauses which reject Atheism or Materialism and claims that have meaning only in Catholic countries of the old type and are unintelligible to ordinary mortals, such as the medieval church -- claim that Catholic priests must not be put on trial except in clerical courts.
Now, we do not grudge the Pope his belly-rumbling at the growth of Atheism and Materialism. We are not clear whether he found them spreading in his own flock, in which alone he has the right to brandish his shepherd's crook, or whether he imagined that Atheists and Materialists outside his church would grow pale at the sound of his anathemas. As a matter of fact there were still in 1864 comparatively few Atheists and Materialists. Few revolutionary leaders had the courage, as Garibaldi had, to avow himself an Atheist and thumb his nose at what he called "the Sacred Shop." Still less had the courage and knowledge to insist, as Marx did, that the new civilization must be materialistic to its foundations. One suspects that the Pope dragged these into his list of errors in part to freeze the blood of Catholic women and peasants and excuse the reckless violence with which, in the Encyclical that introduced the Syllabus, he shrieked about "poisonous" opinions that led to general debauchery we shall see presently, that there was at the time as much of these colorful practices in Rome as anywhere in Europe -- and the collapse of civilization.
With our customary liberality we Atheists and Materialists do not grudge the Pope his anger against these developments, and the modern apologist can say little about them except to the more ignorant Catholics because the immense growth of these fundamental heresies has coincided with the most rapid progress that civilization ever made, while the Catholic countries that hinder this growllh by still torturing heretics remain on the lowest level of modern civilization. We can afford to smile at these contortions and distortions. Are we expected to take courteous and serious notice where the head of the biggest church represents Freethinkers as saying that "truth is the same thing as falseness," "justice is the same thing as injustice," and "duty is an empty phrase." Even popes must learn that this is not the Dark Age; that now even peasants can read. But the great majority of the condemned opinions have a far more real interest for us and had already been embodied in the American Constitution. First, however, the reader will find it useful to have the Pope's fit of holy temper set in its actual historical frame.
POPE NERO FIDDLING WHILE ROME BURNS
In one of my earlier works, "The Epic of Universal History," I point out that a good cleal of history-writing by American professors in the last 20 years has shared, in less degree, the viciousness which the Encyclopedia Britannica displayed since, in the last edition, it submitted to American Catholic influence. Taking one of (in most respects) the best of these large and finely illustrated histories of the world or of Europe which have appeared in our time, Professor Lucas' "Short History of Civilization" (1943), I find that, immense as the work is, it crushes into a page or two, and by its omissions totally misrepresents, the most momentous century in history, the period from about 1770 to 1870. From the social angle this century is of supreme importance because, in the first place, it witnessed the colossal struggles which, outside the United States, gave birth to the freddom and democracy about which we talk so much, and, in the second place, it puts in the clearest light the true relation of the Roman Church to these ideals and to the advance of civilization. If American youths and girls are taught modern history as it is expounded by our professors in these sumptuous popular manuals we cannot wonder that Americans can be duped by such blatant and stupid falsehoods as that the fathers of the Revolution learned democracy from Jesuit theologians of the 16th century.
Very rightly, we have in the year 1949 celebrated centenaries of Goethe and Chopin, but I saw only a puzzled expression on the faces of my audience when, lecturing in London, I saggested that there ought also to be some recognition of the memory of the 100,000 men and women, martyrs of democracy, who were tortured, ruined, or executed in the year 1849. In Britain, as in America, if a little less extensively, Roman Catholic influence, which is out of all proportion to the number of the faithful, has led to the prostitution of historical education on most vital points. I have explained elsewhere that in the course of the 19th century about 400,000 unarmed men, women and children perished, usually in agony, on scaffolds, in fetid jails, in savage penal colonies, or in massicres for maintaining the right to freedom and democracy; that nearly the whole of these were done to death in Catholic countries, where the church not only supported but spurred on the feudal monarchs, some of whom were as vile as the worst Roman emperors; and that the popes, who were until 1870 the Kings of Central Italy, were almost as bad as the Kings of Naples, Spain, and Portugal. It is against that lurid background, of which no trace is given in these American histories, that we must read the Syllabus if we want to get the full meaning and irony of it.
Here I will confine myself mainly to Italy. The armies of the French Revolution had spread over Italy and in great measure reformed its gross medieval condition and inspired the establishment of several republics. When it became necessary to withdraw the troops from southern Italy clerical-royalist reaction had opened in its most brutal form, but Napoleon had clung to Northern and Central Italy and until he was beaten at Waterloo the popes and the reactionary forces were checked. Then, as is generally known, the Pope recovered what he called his "temporal dominion," the Kingdom of Central Italy, and the leading powers -- Russia, Prussia, Austria and (for a time) England -- formed a Holy Alliance to "stamp out the last sparks of reolution." It is ironic to reflect today that in 1816 that meant to bludgeon and bleed the peoples of Europe until they surrendered the last hope of this foolish and impious dream, as they called it, of having freedom and democracy.
North Italy belonged to Austria; Central Italy to the papacy; Southern Italy to the King of Naples (or of the Two Sicilies). Even Austria in those pions days allowed its fine character to be disgraced by the cruel treatment of rebels, but it was in the Center and South (and in Spain and Portugal) that the most sordid massacres and the foulest jails were found. This lower two-thirds of Italy may be regarded as a unity from the social angle, as it was a continuous territory and the king of Naples were completely docile to the papacy. "The nearer to Rome, the worse the morals," was a common saying in those days. The Austrian emperors ruled Northern Italy from Vienna and showed a considerable degree of independence of the papacy, and their rule was the least corrupt and oppressive in Italy. The King and court of Naples in the first half of the century were gross in conduct and as foul as the worst monarchs of the Middle Ages in the oppression of the people and the punishment of these who demanded some measure of democracy. A Catholic general in the royal service, Colletta, I writer whose conscientiousness has been fully vindicated by the distingushed Italian scholar, Professor Croce, tells us that under the vile King Ferdinand (1790-1825) "100,000 Neapolitans perished by every kind of death in the cause of political freedom," a large part of these dying a slow and horrible death in dungeons of an incredible character. His son, Francis I, was just as vile in personal conduct ("A vulgar cruel profligate who left the Government to his favorites and lived with his mistresses," says Prof Bolton King), and the continuer of Colletta's contemporary history tells us that in the next 30 years (1825-1855) 150,000 were added to the list of democratic martyrs. As the population of the Kingdom was not more than 2,000,000 one can easily understand that this awful drain of the best blood of the country, chiefly the educated Liberals, caused that decay from which Southern Italy has not yet fully recovered.
This ghastly and murderous misgovernment was maintained under the very eyes of the popes for more than 60 vears. It was at its worst when Pius IX issued his fatuous warning to the world that Liberal sentiments we recorrupting civilization and laid down that in no circumstances were men entitled to rebel against their "legitimate" king. The church was so intimately on the side of the monarch that twice, after risings of the people, the king was surrounded by the bishops at the altar when be swore -- even calling upon God to strike him dead if he did not keep his word -- to grant freedom and democracy, and they still fully supported the royal perjurer when he disowned his oath and committed his murders and massacres. So callous was the court that the lazzaroni of Naples, the human vermin of Neapolitan society, roasted and ate, under the palace windows, the bodies of Liberals they had killed, and brigand-chiefs drank their blood from their skulls. And all that the world's moral oracle could find to say was that these damnable Atheists and Liberals threatened the fair flower of Roman and Neapolitan civilization. These things are suppressed by historians today and the public mind is left open to Catholic lies. When, some years ago I wrote a book ("The Price of Democracy") on these real events of the last century no publisher in London would accept it. It might hurt the feelings of our Catholic fellow- citizens.
The condition of the Pope's Kingdom, the Papal States, was just as foul, though the number of the victims was less. The Catholic legend here is that there was a Catholic as well as a Protestant Reformation in the 16th century, and in the course of this the gross corruption which "the evil taint of the Renaissance" had brought into the papal court and kingdom was abolished and the people lived happily ever afterwards, as they always do in fairy- tales. It is, as usual, a lie. Napoleon destroyed the papal rule, but at his fall the Holy Alliance restored it. At once it was discovered to be one of the most corrrupt little Kingdoms in Europe.
I have in earlier works pointed out that in the standard historical work on 19th century Europe, Volume XI of the Cambridge Modern History -- Catholics were so successful in revising the Encyclopedia Briticannica that they have even got this too truthful volume withdrawn for "revision" -- the Catholic historian Lady Blennerhasset quotes with approval the statement of the distinguished French priest Lamennais that Rome, which he visited in the thirties, was "the foulest sewer ever opened up to the eye of man"; and Lamennais was so able and zealous a priest that the Vatican had thought of making him a cardinal. The British ambassador Lord Clarendon said that it was "the shame of Europe." In 1831 the powers of the Holy Alliance, Russia, Prussia, Austria, Frxnce and England sent a stern letter, which was published, to the Pope, telling him that his Kingdom, with its clerical government and administration, was so foul that it bred revolution. All the authorities -- contemporary Italian Catholic historians like Dr. Azeglio, Farini, and Cantu, and modern experts like Lord Acton (the leading Catholic historian in Enrope), Bishop Nielsen, King, Okey, Orsi, etc. -- tell the same story. Such was the savagery with which the popes repressed liberalism that lord Acton angrily remarks that they were worse than the Old Man of the Mountains, hitherto the worst organizer of murder In history.
This foul administration was conducted, not by Atheists and Liberals who were poisoning civilization, but by sleek and corrupt clerics. The public debt grew year by year, and famine and cholera swedt the country. Brigandage was so rife that when a foreign pritlee visited Italy 9,000 papal soldiers had to protect his route. The general poverty was appalling, for there was little trade and less industry. There was no system of education, and schools were so few that illiteracy was 85 percent. Vice was as bad as in any country. The administration of justice was corrupt, violence appalling, priests with crucifixes presided at the drawing of prizes for the public lotteries, and so on. All this is -- or was -- in the Cambridge Modern History. There was, except under the Turks, not a less civilized state in Europe. And American priest- professors now say that in protecting this system from "false liberalism" the popes rendered inestimable service to society at large, and professors in our universities suppress the whole of the facts in teaching the public history.
What sort of men were these popes who were trying so hard to save civilization? In 1823, when the Pope of Napoleon's days cried, the quarrels and greeds of the cardilials and of the Catholic powers led to the election of Leo XII, an old man who preferred shooting birds to attending to ecclesiastical business. He left this to his Secretary of State, Cardinal Consalvi, who refused to be ordained priest so that he could indulge in luxuries with more comfort. Leo died in Six years, to "the indecent joy of Rome," says Baron Bunsen, then Prussian embassadur in the "Holy City," and, as the cardinals still fought, they put in Pius VIII, a wreck of a man, in senile decay, who Shuffled about the palace for less than two years slobbering, his head twisted permanently to one side by incipient paralysis. The "princes of the church" (cardinals) who were helping the Pope to save civilization, deliberallely chose these wrecks when the voting was equal so that there would be another election as soon as possible. They were, in fact, on the whole a set of doddering old fools with just enough vitality to secure the money that their wines and other luxuries required. The zealous contemporary French Catholic Chateaubriand, one of the chief literary glories of the French church, was in Rome when Pius VIII ceased his dribbling, and he describes with disgust how the Catholic powers bribed the cardinal electors and intrigued for their own candidates. But the aged Cardinal Albani, who had carried the election of Pius VIII and been rewarded with the post of Secretary of State, used Austrian funds and so blocked the various candidates that they had to elect another old man, Gregory XVI.
It was a scandalous choice, for Gregory was notoriously a vular glutton, of disputed morals, a heavy wine bibber, fond of erotic novels and of salacious gossip. Bolton King, one of the more moderate writers on the period, says that "he absorbed himself in ignoble pursuits while the country groaned under misrule." Professor Orsi, who testifies to his gluttony and excessive love of wine, says that "the abomination of misrule became blacker than ever." It was the year 1831, just a year after the Second Frencn Revolution and risings in Spain and Naples. The whole of South or Catholic Europe seethed with revolt. And your Catholic neighbor, duped by his literature and surrendered to the dupers by professors who write the history of Europe for him, imagines that at these elections (three in eight years) the pions cardinals prayed and fasted in their sealed chamber until the light of the Holy Ghost descended and guided them to elect the man best fitted to steer the Church in such turbulent waters.
This clergy will assure him (1) that these three popes of the revolutionary period were holy and vigorous men, and (2) that if it is true that they were completely worthless, this did not matter much as they all left the rule of the church to the Cardinal Secretary of State. This draws our attention to an even more scandalcus aspect of the period. Three able cardinals in succession did rule the church in this capacity from the fall of Napoleon to the issue of the Syllabus in 1864: Consalvi, Albani and Antonelli, Of Consalvi the Catholic Encyclopedia says that he was "one of the purest glories of the Church of Rome" and that "the purity of his life was the more admired because in his position he had to mingle much with a worldly society." No one knows whether his earlier life was asceptic, He was an Italian aristocrat who refused to let his hands (or other organs) be bound up by takinf the vows of a priest, and who -- was a welcome figure in Parisian and Roman society. "I like pleasure as much as any man" he told Tallyrand. Other contemporaries said that he was skeptical and amorous, like the circles in which he moved. The Catholic Lady Blennerhassett leniently credits him with "an easy-going, somewhat woridly life."
But the murderous suppression of liberalism did not begin under Consalvi but under Cardinal Albani. About this gentleman the Encyclopedia prefers to say nothing. He also declined to take the vows of priesthood and he was, in Rome, notoriously skeptical and immoral. He was 80 years old when in 1821 he got Gregory elected, yet he was at ihe opera every night of the season (to see and hear Malibran) that year. He did not, however, live long to enjoy his new position, and it was the third of this remarkable trio, Cardinal Antonelli, who presided over the direst butchery of the middle class and the nobles of Italy and introduced the Syllabus to the world in a message of touching piety and zeal for civilization. He was by far the worst of the three. Before the fumigation of it, in the Catholic sanctuary, the Encyclopedia Britannica said that he "displayed consumate duplicity" and spoke of his "unscrupulous. grasping, and sinister personality." In the last edition -- for one more enlightened generation -- these words have, of course, been cut out. The French Grande Encyclopedie, written nearer, the time of his death and in its day the greatest work of reference in Europe, says that "he left an immense fortune but nothing to the distressed church, and the claims of the Countess Lambertini, his bastard daughter, bore witness to the corruption of his morals." The Catholic Encyclopedia softens the final exposure of him by saying that he was born of rich parents. He was, in fact, the son of a poor peasant and he left a fortune of $20,000,000 to his relatives, the bastard countess claiming her share openly on the ground of paternity. He left little to the Church, whose finances he had left in a chaotic condition and deeply in debt, and "only a trifling souvenir to the Pope.
How many Italian liberals were sacrificed under these disgusting popes and Secretaries of State, in addition to their responsibility for the Neapolitan butcheries, it is not possible to say, but from a book published in London in 1856 by one of their victims, Luigi Orsini, we get a grim idea. He called it "The Austrian Dungeons in Italy," but it includes his experience in Papal dungeons. He knew both well. His autographed photograph hangs on the wall of my study, signed by him just before he left London to try to assassinate Napoleon III for supporting papal corruption. His first prison was a stifling hole measuring 6 feet by 4 feet and containing only a sack of straw. Taken to Rome he was put in the Pope's "New Prison" with nine youths of 17 to 19, all "looking more like corpses than human beings." They could hardly turn round standing up. Their food was "water-soup" and a little bread; their straw sacks were alive with vermin. From there he was taken with 120 ethers "chained two, and two" to the fortress of Castellana. This had at one time been a villa in which Pope Alexander VI, of fragrant memory, had spent weekends in the summer with his mistresses and the choicer Roman courtesans; and the Pope's bedroom was piously preserved, says Orsini, and had "the most hideous and obscene pictures" (or frescoes) on the walls. The place, in a heavy malaria swamp, was now "thick with damp and fungus." The unvarying diet of the prisoners was slices of bread in warm water flavored with tallow. Half the prisoners had already been in prison 15 to 20 years. Orsini and the younger man were sentenced to the galleys, and after a time they were taken in chains to the fortress at Civita Vacchia. Dressed as galley-slaves, crowded 50 or 60 in one dungeon, they were chained to the wall with a two foot long chain which was "never unfastened" (even for sanitary purposes). Most of them died solwly of disease or starvation. "This," says Orsini, "is the treatment to which the Most Holy and Merciful Father of the faithful condemns those who labor to drive out the forein oppressor from their native land."
There were about 10,000 of these Political prisoners (though the total Population of the Papal States was only about 3,000,000.) in his foul and murderous jails when Pope Pius IX penned the encyclical and Syllabus in which he affected to save civilization and his friend Antonelli, sent it out over the world. One does not know whether to be more disgusted with the, priests who perpetrated these horrors to protect their power or the priests and professors who today suppress the facts and lie about the general conditions. But in the middle of this unholy period (1830-60), which the popes were so eager to prolong, occurred the great revolution of 1848 and the consecration of Pope Pius IX, and it is necessary to consider the relation of these events. In the Encyclopedia Americana there is a 20-column article on "The 19th Century." It devotes just six lines to the prodigious revolutionary wave which in 1848 swept seven kings from their thrones and the counter-revolutions of 1849, which led to an intensification of the butchery of democrats. The editors of the Encyclopedia must have known what to expect when they entrusted the writing of this article to Dr. J. Walsh, the zealous Catholic propagandist and anything but an historian. Here I must be curt.
In 1830 the French carried their Second Revolution, and by that year the Latin-American colonies and the Greeks had won independence; and there were revolts in many parts of Europe. These events raised the hopes of all liberals and, in spite of the fierce prosecution I have described, the Italian demand for freedom and democracy spread to the bulk of the midle class and to large bodies of the workers. In 1846 the miserable Pope Gregory died and, after the usual indecent struggle for the tiara, Pius IX was elected.
A provincial bishop, he had come to Rome with the reputation of a man who deplored the bloodshed and was in favor of making concessions. I confess that with all my experience in writing biography I do not understand his true character at that time. He had been sickly and epileptic as a youth, and anti-clerical fellow- pupils later insisted that he had taken a passive part in adolescent perversions. His British biographer, T.A. Trollope, was convinced by the evidence that he was "the biggest liar in the school." In my "Histary of Freemasonry" I tell how, as a 46-year- old priest, he bocame a Mason -- a charge repudiated with rage by Catholics but fully proved by the Masonic historian, my friend Dudley Wright -- and as Bishop of Imola he was certainly on good terms with the liberals. The powers therefore favored his election; the liberals hailed it with enthusiasm. Under pressure fro.m them he granted an amnesty, but he did nothing further until the revolution broke in 1848. In January of that year the peasants of Sicily, led by professional men, drove out the royal armies and proclaimed a republic, and the revolt spread to Naples. In February was the Third French Revolution, and the flames spread to Germany, Austria-Hungary, and North Italy. The Papal States were surrounded by triumphant democracies, and Pius began to make concessions to the liberals of Rome, though the wily and unscrupulotis Antonelli robbed those of real value. But in June Pius heard that the reactionaries had smashed the revolutionaries in Paris, and then that Austria was negotiating for a big Russian army. From that time the wretched Pope disowned all trace of democratic sentiment, if he had ever genuinely entertaiiied it (as he certainly professed). Mazzini, Garibaldi, and other republicans came to Rome, and Pius, alarmed at the revolt of, apparenlly, the whole people of Rome, signed a grant of a Constitiition and then, as I said in the first chapter, fled, disguised as a footman, to the protection of the infamous King of Naples, to await the deliverance promised by Louis Napoleon and the Austro-Russian forces.
Seventy years ago, a pious school (and altar) boy of 12 years, I devoutly kissed the skull-cap of Pius IX, for the church had declared him a quarter-saint (a "Venerable") and Rome had sent these relics (probably bogus, as was usual) over the world to collect funds. Today I execrate his blood-soaked memory and salute the bearded portrait of Orsini, the man who tried to assassinate Napoleon III for putting him back in the Chair of Peter. Rome fell to the troops of the vile French adventurer, who bassed his power upon such a combination of the skeptical but bitterly anti-Socilist middle class and the clergy as there is today. But the Pope remained in the mountains until the last democrat was dead or cleared out of Rome. He promised an amnesty, but, with exceptions which, the Cambridge History, tells us, left 7,256 democrats outside the range of the amnesty. There were 90 executed in Rome. At Bologne "more than once 10 to 20 of the noblest citizens were shot in one day" (Orsini.), 10 in one day at Imola (Pius' former Bishopric), 15 at Ancona, 30 at Forli, and so on. There had been 2,000 political prisoners in the jails when Gregory died and Pius anonunced an amnesty. There were now 8,000. Torture was reintroduced. The Catholic mobs were armed and committod "atrocious acts of revenge" (Firini). The historical law held good; there had been no reprisals after the popular revolution but the land groned with torture after the clerical royalist counter-revolution. And it was in this atmosphere of holiness that the Pope marshalled his sacred legions for a solemn occasion and declared that the Virgin Mary had been born without the stain of Original Sin (the Immaculate Corception).
This incidental development gives you the measure of the Pope's intelligence and "statesmanship." It, was in 1854 that he declared this a dogma of the church and urged Catholics everywhere to, bow down to statues of "Mary Immaculate" (in flowing blue and white robes) ind wear medals with the same familiar figure. Priests in every town and village of Europe gave rousing sermons on the Immaculate Conception. Every peasant child treasured and wore a brass or tin medal. And, naturally, a half-witted child in a village on the slopes of the Pyrenees came home one day in 1854 and told her parents that a mysterious but glorious lady in the familiar robes had appeared to her, not in the correct French that is usually quoted but in the half-Spanish patois of the village, "I am the Immaculate Conception." Pius swallowed the story and helped to impose the fraud upon the church. to the gorgeous profit of the store-keepers of Lourds and the Freneh church. He even blessed the enterprise of another village which tried to grow into a town by having a rival apparition.
At this time at least 50,000 men and women lay festering in the jails of Italy from the Alps to Sicily, and there were further tens of thousands in the jails of Hungiry, and France. Such was the indignation of Europe that when British sympathizers with Garibaldi in 1869 organized a legion of volunteers in London to go out and help him to clean up Italy the British Premier, Lord Palmorston, said in the House of Commons when he was pressed to intervene: "I see no objection to a party of English gentlemen going to Italy to see the eruption of Mount Etna." Palmerston must have known, as the whole Navy did, that a British fleet was then cruising in Italian waters, and the commanders daily gave permission to batches of sailors and officers to hove a day ashorp and to take their cultasses and pistols with them. Somehow they always had to use them.
The King of Piedmont had bribed the French to withdraw with a concession of what is known as the Riviera (Nice, Monte Carlo, etc.) and was unifying Italy under his crown, Garibaldi and his "Thousand" playing a glorious part in the campaign. It ended with the occupation of the Papal States and in 1870, of Rome itself. He offered the Vatican a generous annual allowance in compensation but it was indignatly refused. It was more profitable to denounce the Italians as "robbers" and describe the Pope as "the Prisoner of the Vatican" in Catholic lands. It was the accumulated allowance and compound interest on this that was hypocritically accepted by the papacy in 1929 as the price of the Pope's blessing on Fascism.
In fact the Papicy had no right whatever to compensation. It had got the territory originally by the gross fraud of the Donation of Constantine: it had soaked the soil of Central Italy with blood to hold it from 800 to 1870; and, above all, the inhabitiants had voted overwheimingly for incorporation in the kingdom of Italy and rejection of the papal yoke. The Piedmontese had taken an honest plebisicite in every province and in Rome. In the Roman province 232,856 votes for Victor Emmanual and only 1,590 for the Pope. In the Pope's own city 40,785 voted against him and only 46 for him. If ever you see these important facts mentioned today you probably find the Catholic tag attached that the result means nothing because the Pope forbade Catholics to vote. As a matter of fact 40,000 voters meant four-fifths of the total adult male population of Rome. Women had no vote in those days and the other fifth were clerics, papal officials, and clerical servants and merchants.
THE CONTEMPTUOUS DEFIANCE OF AMERICA
We now see the full enormity of the claim of the Catholic Encyclopedia that our modern scorn of the Syllabus is based upon "misunderstandings and malice" and that it really rendered "inestimable service to ... society at large." It is the customary trick. Catholic apologists who expect their works to be read by educated non-Catholic usually treat the Syllabus cavalierly. It does not claim infallibility, they say, and its condemnations and reprobations do not bind the modern Catholics. It just expresses the personal opinions of a worthy and remarkable pontiff "who, dazed by the new thought that was coming into Europe, did not discriminate sufficiently between its extreme forms (Atheism, etc.) and its social liberalism, and really felt that it was a danger to the moral principles on which civilization is built." The Catholic Encyclopedia, which professes to the general public that it is the cream of up-to-date Catholic scholarship but is really the arsenal from which preachers and popular propagandists derive their ammunition, will have none of these glosses. Pius was the St. George, the grandest figure of those hectic years in the middle of the last century. Civilization was threatened by the new thought and its more impulsive and more unscrupulous champions, and, as usual, the wise and inspired head of the church, sitting on the Olympus of the "See of Peter," screened from the passions of men by his holy environment, serenely pointed out to the world the dangers of its false liberalism."
It is time that American historians and sociologists resented the imposition of this mendacious junk upon millions of citizens instead of indirectly encouraging it by suppressing the facts. The "fearlessness" of Pius in issuing, between 1850 and 1863, the thunderbolts which are gathered together in the Syllabus is grotesque. The priest-writer who claims it must have known perfectly well, as every freshman in history knows, that during that period the Pope and the papal system were protected by the hundred thousand bayonets of the Russians, Austrians, and French besides the Swiss hirelings of the Vatican itself. The writers whom the Pope criticized were not only beyond his power but laughed at him instead of threatening him. He was to a great extent condemning the leaders of the new Latin-American Republic, who had scornfully rejected the dictation of the church as well as the rule of the Kings of Spain and Portugal. The references appended to the Syllabus show this. In the second place the Pope was condemning certain liberal Catholic, or what was later called Modernist, writers of France, Germany and Italy. These, from 1849 onward, were bullied into silence, and it required no more courage to dance on them than it does in jackals threatening a dead lion. The men who were really dangerous from the Vatican angle were dying in the putrid jails I described, or were scattered from Constantinople to Philadelphia. Fearless! One is inclined to think that this pious Washington Catholic professor is writing just for agitated Catholic spinsters (with money) or children, but I suppose that even the recent converts of whom the church boasts have to swallow this stuff.
But the worst of it is the pretence that the Pope had any right to speak in the name of civilization. Thirty years earlier the five leading powers of Europe had, in a most humiliating letter, ordered the Pope to bring his dominion up to the level of civilization. I described their condition. After 1849 they fell back into that condition and were as foul as ever. There was not a more ignorant, more criminal more ineptly and corruptly administrated area in Europe. It, rang with scorn of the Syllabus. There are several columns of caustic works on the Syllabus, in a dozen languages, in the index of the British National Library. There was only one other kingdom in Europe at that time which was as low as that of the Pope. This was the Kingdom of Naples, and it was just as much subject to the Pope's moral rule as the papal Kingdom itself. Next to them at the bottom of the scale of civilization was Spain, and to its queen Isabella, II, Pius IX had recently presented the Golden Rose, Rome's annual tribute to a womanly model of virtue and piety. It is not disputed that Isabella was the most openly and indiscriminately immoral princess in Europe!
With particular scorn Europe noted that the Pope's encyclical 'Quanta cura,' in which Pius mourned the growing debauchery and the threat to civilization, and the accompanying Syllabus were sent out by Cardinal Antonelli as Secretary of State. He wrote his message in the same virtuous ink as the Pope. Through the ambassadors every country knew the details of Antonelli's amorous adventures, and some of them knew that he was taking colossal bribes from them for being allowed to influence the Vatican policy. We need not express disgust at the hypocrisy of Europe. It, and America, are just as hypocritical today, the only difference being that in our days the hypocrisy is in the name of freedom and democracy and in those days it was in the sacred cause of suppressing freedom and democracy. I am not clear which is the more laudable.
But the liberating armies were well on the march in 1854. I would not claim the same virtue of Crusaders for the armies of Victor Emmanuel, who by the unification of Italy doubled or trebled his wealth and power, as for Garibaldi and his volunteers, but at least they were bringing civilization to Central and Southern Italy while the Pope shrieked anathemas at them one day and talked about the threat to civilization the next day. Under various headings (Illiteracy, Education, Crime, Wealth, etc.)' Mulhall's Standard Dictionary of Statistics shows the advance after 1870, when the papal rule that had blighted Italy for so many centuries was brought to an end. Dean Milman says of the temporal power in his classic "History of Latin Christianity:
"Rome, jealous of all temporal sovereignty but its own, yielded up, or rather made Italy a battlefield of the Transalpine and the stranger and at the same time so secularized her own spiritual supremacy as to confound altogether the priest and the politician, to degrade absolutely, almost irrevocably, the Kingdom of Christ into a Kingdom of this world."
And Georgorovious, the highest authority on the history of the city of Rome, says:
"The whole history of the human race affords no example of a struggle of such long duration, or one so unchanged in motive, as the struggle of the Romans and Italians against the Temporal Power of the Popes, whose Kingdom ought not to have been of this world."
Like the greediest prince in Europe the Pope had fought for his wealth and power, and his modern lackeys, who argue solemnly that a great moral power ought to be independent of secular powers by having its own territory, conceal from their readers that for centuries before 1870 these secular powers had corruptly intervened in papal elections and the papacy was never so free as from 1870 to 1929, when it had not an acre of territory.
As I said, the men of the Papal States now completed the work which their ancestors had begun 800 years before by voting the Pope out of power. The sequel was amusing. Pius summoned all the bishops of the world to the Vatican Council and they declared that the popes are infallible! We may say to the credit of the bishops that there was a formidable resistance. Clerics who knew some of these bishops told me 60 years ago that violent language was used. But the opponents were bribed, intimidated or driven out, and the dogma was carried; and from that day to this no Pope has said a word to his church for which he claims to be using his prerogative of infallibility.
The odor of the chief aim of the Syllabus, the determination to protect the Papal States as the basis of the wealth and power of the popes, is smelt in almost every clause of it. Again, though the world of the Syllabus seems remote, we perceive a parallel with our own time. Just as in our own day the Vatican, finding that Communism threatens the wealth and power of the church, implores the secular states to suppress it by armed force on the ground that it is dangerous to their civic ideals, so in the 60's of the last century Pope Pius asked the powers to crush Liberalism, the parent- devil whose spawn was Atheism, Communism, Socialism, Amoralism Anarchy, on the ground that it threatened their civilization. For the sake of effect he began by denouncing Atheists and Deists. Something like Pantheism had appeared in the works of a few Catholic writers but, naturally, none sanctioned Atheism, Deism, or Materialism, and the Pope knew well that he was wasting his breath when he talked about these.
But this quickly led him into much broader conflicts with the modern spirit. He sourly attacked that cultivation of reason which, by creating science, enriched the modern world and enabled it to carry out its great new ideals (general education, social welfare, etc.) and on the other hand rid civilization of the blunders that had hindered progress throughout history. We do not grudge the Pope the holy indignation with which he denounced Atheism, Deism and Materialism. That was a futile, but legitimate, exercise of his profession. But he was so stupid in his attacks on the use of reason that he is almost a heretic in Catholic doctrine. The Catholic scheme is that "Reason precedes Faith." The existence of God and the immortality of the soul, it admits, can be proved by the use of reason alone. Even the divinity of Christ and his establishment of the church must be proved by argument and historical documents (the gospel). Only then, when you have rationally proved that the church is of supernatural origin, can faith (an acceptance of statements on authority) begin. I doubt if Pius IX was sufficiently clearheaded to recognize that this position was inevitable if the church wanted to win education adherents. And when he goes on to say that modern philosophy, which does not concern itself about either God or immortality, must not be studied without "any regard for supernatural revelation," that philosophy must "submit to authority," etc., he betrays a weird ignorance of the nature of philosophy; while when he suggests that Atheists or Materialists do not distinguish between right and wrong, truth and untruth, he shows he is as ignorant of Freethought literature as any common village preacher. Evidently he had never heard of Emerson and his colleagues in America.
With these blundering crudities we are not concerned here; and we are, not much alarmed by the clauses that follow, which purport to tell us the only conditions on which we can earn that eternal bliss which we all, so ardently desire. Yet clauses 15 to 18 seem to be interesting in view of the statements of American Catholics. They give Protestant neighbors the comfortable assurance that unless we know that the Catholic is the true church and still refuse to join it we'll all meet in the Happy Hunting Ground. The psychology of this puzzles us. The theory supposes that there are folk who really believe that churchgoing is rewarded with eternal happiness and neglect of church going is punished with horrible suffering for all eternity yet -- for trivial reasons or none -- they won't go to church! We leave it to the psychiatrist. But when the Catholic tells you that a man may (if not must) follow the religion which he believes to be true; that if he honestly thinks the Protestant faith the true religion God will not -- or we reasonably hope that he will not -- send him to hell, that Protestantism is after all a respectable branch of the Christian religion, tell him that his sentiments do credit to his American education but these are just some of the opinions (clauses 15 to 18) which Pope Pius IX commanded Catholics to reject and condemn. Of course, if he cares to retort that Pope Pius IX was just an old fool who did not know the theology of his own church you're stumped.
Of the remaining three-fourths of damnable and duly damned opinions a large number refer to the authority of the Papacy. Rip Van Winkle Pius saw the world still in a medieval dress with a lot of demonic folk going about trying to tear it off and substitute shorts and bare legs. At the head of states he sees feudal rulers, happily restored by the bayonets of the Russian serfs, who are fully justified in exploiting and torturing their people but are always forgetting that the Pope is their master. They claim Powers which in the dog-Latin of medieval theology are called Exe-quatur, etc. They want to choose their own bishops and depose them when they are disloyal to their country in the interest of the Vatican, They drag sacred persons (priests) who are suspected of rape, mayhem, or fraud into profane courts of law as if they were ordinary citizens. They claim that they can stop the priests from reading a papal letter from the pulpit if they do not think it in the national interest, and that they may, if they think fit, prevent bishops from going to Rome (with their pockets and luggage full of gold). They sometimes have the odd idea that since monks take a vow of poverty, individually as well as collectively, they may relieve these monks of the vast property -- in some countries half the cultivated land of the country -- they hold and thus enable them to observe their vow. And so on. Such ideas, of course, tend to destroy civilization -- and to reduce the Vatican's bank- balance -- so the Pope thunders against them in clause after clause. But as it only applies today to low-grade, unconsecrated, and unimportant rulers of state like Franco, de Valera, and Eva Peron we pass on.
What is really of interest is the drastic, uncompromising, contemptuous challenge to fundamental principles of American life. At that time (1864) America was, from the Vatican angle, scarcely a part of civilization. Probably the Vatican had not yet heard that quantities of gold had been found in California 15 years earlier, so we will not be too severe on Rome for treating it disdainfully. Beyond the eastern fringe, where there were a few Catholic bishops, it was, to the Roman mind, a broad wilderness in which the chief industry was making and using colts and bowie knives. These rebels against a "legitimate" monarch were now destroying each other in a Civil War. There would not be much money in the country for a long time to come, so its spiritual needs did not press acutely on the Pope's attention. We can, therefore, believe that, except in so far as the Latin-American Republics had taken their principles from the Constitution of the U.S.A., the Pope and his precious Cardinal Secretary of State did not think of America in despising and condemning, the fundamental principles of that Constitution.
It is amusing in one respect. Some 50 years later Catholic apologists in America were blandly claiming, that freedom and democracy, which are said to be the most vital of those principles, were borrowed from the works of the 17th century Jesuits, Stiaiez and Bellarmine. Somebody discovered this while in the first half of the 19th century the Jesuits were the most deadly enemies of these ideals and egged on the princes who murdered the men who fought for them, these were really Jesuit principles, first proclaimed to a benighted Europe by the great Jesuit theologians. Naturally, the American Jesuits who made this discovery kept out of sight the historical fact that the Popes had bitterly denounced and fought these ideals in Rome for centuries; nor did they remind folk that all that these theologians had really done was to discover that, now that half the sovereigns of Europe were Protestants, it was lawful and laudable for their people to rebel against them and depose or behead them. In England, for instance, the Jesuits wanted the fanatical Philip of Spain to be the monarch instead of the genial and the universally-loved Elizabeth. They were, in fact, expelled even from France for advocating that regicide was legitimate. All this was kept out of sight, and, to meet the new European situation they set out to prove that the people can elect or depose a King (when he opposes the true faith), Someone then "discovered" that Jefferson and the other authors of the American Constitution had learned democracy from the pages of these Jesuit theologians. Naturally, no American historian or sociologist was rude enough to point out that there was no more freedom in lands where the Jesuits had influence than there is in Spain or Portugal today, and there never had been. However, the point of interest here is that a large number of these propositions or sentiments condemned by the Pope were already embodied in the American Constitution and were regarded by Americans as installments of social justice which raised their civilization high above any in Europe. On the face of it one would say that Americans are more passionately attached to them today than they ever were, since the defense of freedom and democracy is loudly proclaimed to be the motive of hasty military preparations which may plunge the race in a far worse war than ever. First of these principles, which it was not necessary to state in the Constitution since the new American life was essentially based upon it, was that People has a right to rebel against an unjust monarch, however "legitimate" -- of royal birth, and duly anointed by the church -- he might be. Compare clause 63 of the Syllabus: "It is lawful to refuse to obey and even rebel against legitimate princes." That was held by every American, was the starting point and basis of the greatness of modern America, and is a platitude of political morality today. But Pius IX commanded every Catholic to disavow it. He was, of course, aiming at the French, the Italian, the Spaniards, and the Spanish- Americans. But his action here is just a flat defiance of a basis of the American State and the Conviction of every American.
The consequences of this right to rebel are repeatedly stated in the Constitution and in American legal and political procedure today. The authority of the state is the collective authority of its members and is valid only when it carries out the will of the people. Only in the name of the people can politicians pass laws, and even in the law-courts it is expressly and repeatedly stated that it is the people that prosecute criminals. Now look at a dozen clauses in the, Syllabus that are prosecuted and condemned:
Authority is merely the sum of numbers (of people) and material forces. The decision of a National Congress is not subject to further discussion, and the civil administration may demand this.
A republic, as the origin and power of all rights, has an unlimited power.
That the Will of the People, made known either by public opinion or in any either way, is the supreme law, apart from (not in opposition to) any divine or human right.
No sophistry can obscure the complete inconsistency of a condemnation of these propositions with this fundamental principle of American life. The peoples of America, North and South, had chosen the republican form, in which the only authority is the will of the majority. In 1848 several peoples of Europe had made the same choice. The intention of Pope Pius IX is to condemn them and justify the bloody violence with which in 1849 the corrupt feudal ("legitimate") monarchies had recovered power. He would equally have condemned the American rebellion against King George if that bully had been a Catholic.
The second fundamental law of the Constitution is that Church and State shall be kept separate. A dozen of the Pope's condemnations denounce this but it is enough to quote No. 55. "The Church must be separated from the State and the State from the Church." Compare Clause 79.
"It is false to say (as every American did) that to grant civil liberty to all cults and full power to all men to discuss in public any sort of ideas and opinions leads to the corruption of the minds and morals of the people and the spread of the pest of indifferentism."
As part of this strict separation of religion from the State America decided that it should have secular schools and civil marriage for those who desired it. The Pope damns this plain American principle of education:
"45. Public school in which the youth of a republic are trained, with the exception to some extent of episcopal seminaries, are and ought to be controlled by the civic authority ..."
The Catholic tries sometimes to elude the point by saying that the Pope was merely legislating for Catholic countries. This is refuted here. There were at the time no Catholic republics, for the Pope would refuse that title even to the Latin-American republics. Clause, 47 and 48 make his meaning clearer:
"The best interests of society demand that public schools shall be free from all clerical authority, control, or interference and shall be entirely governed by the civic and political authority, as the ruler and the general opinion of the public shall decide."
Still worse, because here even the American Catholic of today cannot pretend that any adjustment is possible between the American and the Catholic position, are the clauses on marriage (66, 67, 71, 73, 74). The condemnation of these propositions is a flat declaration that marriage by civil contract only is invalid. There is no room here to say that the Pope means that the clauses are for Catholics only. American law, like the law of every fully civilized country today, has the function of declaring whether or when the marriage of Catholics, as well as other citizens, is valid or invalid. It strictly holds that a Catholic pair are validly married and would prosecute them for bigamy if they dared to marry again without divorce, if they go through the civil ceremony without going to church for what the church calls the sacrament. The church may say that from its angle they commit sin but it just defies the civil law when it refuses to admit that "there can be true marriage for Christians on the strength of the civil contract only" (73) or that "by natural law the bond of matrimony is not indissoluble and on various grounds the civil authority may grant a divorce" (67).
There are other clauses which outrageously defy American law and sentiment. The Pope condemns (31) the opinion that special ecclesiastical courts for the trial of priests for offenses against the civil or criminal law (their common vice of perversity, for instance) and (32) the claim that ecclesiastical can compel the state to relieve clerics of the duty of military service where this is compulsory. I can imagine the cackle of the apologist at the idea that these things "apply" in America. We will return to the point but, obviously, these and other laws of the church do not "apply" in any country where the church has not the least power to enforce them and as long as it has no such power. These are the permanent law and represent the standing pretensions of the church to dictate to the civil power because it claims to be superior to that power, as the Syllabus repeatedly claims. America leaves all sects free to cultivate their own pleasures and interests in their own buildings, and lays it down as one of its most fundamental principles that the representatives of the people are to carry out their work of administration in complete separation from religious influences or organizations. Hence all the conflicts. We have, therefore, next, to consider what is the position of the Syllabus in theology today and how the glib propagandists of the church in America conceal their vital antagonism from their own followers and the general American public.
THE MASKED PAPAL AGENTS IN AMERICA
In 1927 a Catholic, Alfred E. Smith, Governor of New York, presented himself as candidate for the presidency. As he could not afford to ignore the fact that this question of the deadly opposition of papal and American ideals would be raised he published a letter (composed for him by priests) in the Atlantic Monthly explaining that as a Catholic he held no doctrine or sentiment that in the slightest degree conflicted with American ideals or the Constitution. He said such things as:
"I believe in absolute freedom of conscience for all men and in the equality of all churches, all sects and all beliefs before the law as a matter of right and not as a matter of favor. I believe in the absolute separation of Church and State. I believe in the absolute right of every parent to choose whether his child shall be educated in the public school or in a religious school..."
The Protestant lawyer Marshall at once, and very ably, challenged him, and his shuffling was pitiful. To a great extent he relied on the political trick of getting a popular Irish priest, a military chaplain in the war and strident bugle-player to a New York regiment, to back up his assurances. Smith refused to meet Marshall's plain challenge to say what, if he were elected, he would do if claims of the Vatican conflicted with his American duties, and he made this obvious, and rather contemptuous, referring to the Syllabus, which was the vital issue:
"You may find some dream of a Catholic State, having no relation whatsoever to actuality, somewhere described."
This would-be President of the United States seems to have been unaware that, in virtue of the murderous reaction of 1849, Pius IX was laying down the actual law for nearly one half of Europe -- France, Bavaria, Austria Hungary, Italy, Spain and Portugal.
It is more important that American Catholic opinion was already almost officially stated in the Catholic Encyclopedia, and, while one would not expect a good mixer like smith to find time to look up what it said about the Syllabus, the church leaders who whispered encouragement to him from the wings -- for the whole thing was a gigantic publicity-stunt for the church -- knew very well what it said, as they were responsible for it. In the article "Syllabus" the chief point is to instruct Catholics whether or no this papal document is "infallible" and therefore to what extent it is binding on Catholics. To listen to their glib male and female radio orators and read their popular writers today you would imagine that it is the orthodox Catholic position that the condemnations of the Syllabus are just the emotional outburst of a venerable prelate who lived in confusing conditions that are remote from our age. It would give the American Catholic layman a shock to read what his encyclopedia authoritatively says about it.
Looking up first what it says under "Infallibility" we learn that in official Catholic theology it means that the faithful have God's personal assurance that when the Pope says that he is defining some belief for the entire Catholic world he is not permitted to err. Catholics usually add that it must be a point of faith or morals, but the writer of this article says that the authorities are agreed that it applies also to an undefined range of questions which arise from questions of faith or morals, and that is in the Vatican decree. The condemnations of Pius IX certainly fall into this category, and as the Pope insists that he is speaking in virtue of his "apostolic authority" to all the Catholics in the world, the Syllabus seems to be of the infallible sort. An irresponsible layman like Smith who knew more about brands of bourbon than about shades of theology might call it a dream that has no relation to realities, even a Catholic theologian like Ryan, who has to Americanize Catholicism in order to get American dupes into the church, may call it just the "justifiable and reasonable" declaration of a Pope in difficult circumstances. But an encyclopedia that is sponsored by the hierarchy and promises America to be strictly truthful cannot get away so lightly. It says that whether the Syllabus is or is not to be regarded as infallible is disputed in the theological world. Its value is differently explained by Catholic theologians. To the question whether it must be held to be infallible "many theologians say yes," while "others question this." In any case, it goes on, "its binding force is beyond doubt" because "It is a decision given by the Pope speaking as universal teacher and judge to Catholics the world over." In what sense does it bind? It says:
"All Catholics therefore are bound to accept the Syllabus. Exteriorly they may neither in works nor in writing oppose its contents; they must also assent to it interiorly."
In other words, the most responsible document in American Catholic literature pronounces it infallible. And a few years later a layman standing in a position of grave responsibility before the American public, supported by the whole hierarchy, tells them that it is just a dream or ideal with no application in real life! Where are those gentle-minded folk who say that I am harsh, impetuous, or worse when I say that Catholic propaganda is untruthful?
American priests and prelates have themselves over and over again said, less flamboyantly, what Smith said in the Atlantic Monthly, as I show in my Appeal to Reason Library (No. 1-16-33; No. 3 1-19). Twenty years after Pius IX had hurled his stage- thunderbolt the Vatican realized the futility of it all. The Papal States had been swept away like medieval modes of transport or ideas of treating disease. Italy was rising steadily in the scale of civilization and in the same proportion throwing off the yoke of the Vatican. France, in which the fright of the middle class at the menace of the Communards had given the church the same recovery of a bastard power as the fright of the middle class at the menace of Communism gives it today, was still more rapidly becoming secularized. Spain had gone over to a dangerous liberalism, and Spanish America was lost. Austria was no longer a great power. So the immutable Vatican changed its policy and its language and began to study diplomacy. Leo XIII, the great Pope (under whom the church lost between 50 and 100 million followers), began that famous series of "grand encyclicals" or fragrant anthologies of platitudes and equivocations.
In one of the earlier of them (Libertas, 1888) he frankly said:
"Although in the extraordinary condition of these times the church usually acquiesces [says nothing about] in certain modern freedoms. She does so not because she prefers them in themselves but because she judges it expedient to permit them until, in better days, she can assert her own liberty."
In other words, his predecessor's damnations were to be put away, like a rod, until the nations of Europe had another 1849, when the rod would be laid lustily on their backsides once more. But events in France moved so rapidly in the wrong direction, from his angle, that he lost his diplomatic poise in the following year and issued the encyclical Immortal Dei. It was really a heavy rebuke to France for decreeing the separation of Church and State. Incidentally he gave his august permission to the French (who frivolously laughed at it) to keep the republic they had set up, and this first recognition of the right of people to choose such a political form -- rather this first failure of a Pope to anathematize them for doing so -- was hailed by American Catholics as a very belated blessing" on the American Republic; and a few tactful alterations in the translation of the encyclical enabled them to greet it as the summit of political morality. The sub-title "On the Christian Constitution of States" was given to the translation. In the Latin it was, "On the Catholic Constitution of States." It told the French that they might have a republic on condition that not merely religion but the Catholic religion only was to be established. It was as violent a repudiation as ever of the idea of separation of Church and State and of the secularization of education; two fundamental principles of American life.
The American Catholic clergy and hierarchy, however, now mendaciously represented that under the great Pope the church repudiated all this medieval stuff that his infallible predecessor had imposed upon all Catholics, and the process of Americanizing the canon law set in; a process that would go on from success to success until they would discover that the principle of the American Revolution and Constitution were actually derived from Roman moral theology. At the annual Council at Baltimore gloriously star-spangled sentiments were heard. Kinsman ("Americanism and Catholicism," 1924) quotes the pastoral letter of the Council of Baltimore of 1884:
"A Catholic finds himself at home in the United States, for the influence of the church has been constantly exercised on behalf of individual rights and popular liberties."
Few Americans may have known the verdict of the great historian that "the banners of the church were rarely seen on the side of the people," but they were few who had never heard of the fires of the Inquisition which had paralyzed the rights of individuals for centuries and the feudal monarchies which the church had sustained in Europe for ages.
Some writers brought the Syllabus back to notice. Catholic propaganda therefore increasingly took the line of representing that Rome had abandoned the principles on which its older tyranny had been based or said that at least the American branch of the church was free to disavow those principles. The bishops were, apparently, unaware that the "Liberal Pope" Leo XIII had in his later years seen the futility -- the leakage from the church was now tremendous -- of making half-hearted or insincere concessions (in regard to labor, biblical criticism, the rights of conscience, etc.) and had begun to withdraw them. our vivacious Catholic Encyclopedia says that "the United States at all times attracted the attention and admiration of Pope Leo XIII" and gives a list of his benevolent (or routine) messages to its bishops. It says: "In 1898 appeared his letter Testem Benevolentiae to Cardinal Gibbons on Americanism." Who would gather from this that this letter to the American Archbishops and bishops made them red with indignation? It was the most humiliating message that Rome had sent to any national hierarchy for a long time, and precisely because the bishops were permitting Catholic writers to give false versions of Catholic teaching in order to conciliate Americans.
I cannot say that this letter was never translated into English and so never reached the laity but certainly there is no English translation of it amongst the 5,000,000 books of the British National Library. I read it in the Latin, which Rome published and the French joyously translated in order to show Frenchmen that the Roman leopard had not really changed its spots. This practice of softening the rigor and arrogance of the church's doctrine, which Pius IX had called Liberalism and would later be known as Modernism, had gone so far in the United States that it was then known to the Vatican as Americanism, and Leo severely rebuked it. He says that his purpose is "to correct errors," such as that Catholic doctrines may be modified and the real teaching kept out of sight for tactical reasons, or that Catholic discipline might be relaxed where the political circumstances suggested this, and that new methods of propaganda were to be introduced to suit modern requirements. The bishops must see that all such ideas are suppressed.
The truth was that America was not yet important from the Vatican angle. Its wealth was increasing but Rome did not get much of it, while, on the other hand, the millions of the Irish, Poles, Italians, etc., who had settled in it drifted away from the church. The Lucerne Memorial presented to the Pope by American Catholic laymen in 1891 claimed that of 26,000,000 Catholic immigrants and their descendants 16,000,000 had apostatized. The Canadian Catholic paper Verite in 1898 said that there were between 15 and 17 million apostates. The New York Freeman's Journal (Catholic) in the same year said 20,000,000. In 1901 Irish priests who were brought over for a special mission said 10,000,000. There had at all events been a colossal leakage, and the great mass of the faithful were amongst America's poorest citizens. Let us say that by 1898 the Vatican had, through American conditions, lost about 15,000,000 Poles, Irish, etc., who in their native lands had been, according to their means, its most generous contributors. But the tide was then turning. The priesthood was expanded and organized on a business basis. Wealthy Catholics increased until the American Catholic body, in proportion to its size, became Rome's fattest pasture. Sociologists like Bodley were predicting that the population of America would rise to 400,000,000 -- Gladstone said 600,000,000 -- by the end of the 20th century; and the Catholic population of this richest country in the world could be 70,000,000.
So the Vatican opened its pockets and closed its mouth, and the Americanization of Catholic teaching went on merrily. Cardinal Gibbons himself said:
"We American Catholics rejoice in our separation of Church and State, and I can conceive of no combination of circumstances likely to arise which would make a union desirable to either Church or State."
Of course American Catholics rejoiced at that time and still rejoice in the separation of State and Church. If any Church were established by law as the one official religion of America, what hope would the Catholic one-seventh of the population have of seeing their religion selected for the honor? But when the cardinal went on to say that he could not conceive of any circumstances in which Catholics would want to have their church established he was lying. Didn't he, like every other Catholic in America, believe that in time the majority of the Americans would belong to the "true faith"? Or did he reject not only the syllabus but the "great encyclical" by Leo XIII on "the Catholic Constitution of State." Archbishop Ireland said, in a speech which was afterwards published and scattered all over America, to a mass-meeting of Catholics at Milwaukee on August 11, 1913:
"Would we alter, if we could, the Constitution in regard to its treatment of religion, the principles of Americanism in regard to religious freedom? I answer with an emphatic, No."
This was quoted and endorsed by, the late Dr. J. Ryan, the chief exponent of church doctrine in these matters, the leading professor of the Catholic University of America, in his work "The State and the Church" (1923); and instead of being corrected by the Vatican he was raised to the dignity of 'Monsignor' (My Lord). Every phrase of the star-spangled version of Catholic teaching is defended in this work, which was published by the Department Of Social Action of the National Catholic Welfare Section. He barely mentions the Syllabus and its "justifiable and reasonable" condemnations, but in regard to the damnation of the belief that Church and State ought to be separated he says:
"Pope Pius IX did not intend to declare that separation is always inadvisable, for he had more than once expressed his satisfaction with its arrangement obtaining in the United States."
Is there no limit to the swallowing capacity of Catholic readers? Would even the muddle-headed Pius be expected to demand that the Catholic Church should be established by law in Protestant countries? In 1864 there were about 3,000.000 Catholics in the United States, and Dr. Ryan wanted us to admire the Pope because he liked an arrangement which put his church in America on the same footing as the larger sects!
Another delicious passage in this chief work of the chief oracle of American Catholics was his defense of the suppression of critics which the Church notoriously insists on in Catholic countries. It would do the same in America if it had the power and it does it to some extent today by sneaking appeals to Washington to see that criticisms of itself "disturb the national unity." It is a matter of public knowledge, since Mr. Joseph Lewis and the Rationalists of New York took the matter to court, that Catholic officials at New York tried to prevent the importation of works of mine in which I criticized the Church. So Ryan had to admit the intolerance and how complete it would be if Catholics were in the majority. But it is, he said, quite natural and moral because "error has not the same rights as truth." What a delightful social order we should have if the ruling power at any time could suppress or muzzle all who differed from it on the grounds that they were in error!
These mendacious apologists for the church, writers and radio speakers, strike a particularly high note of hilarity when someone asks whether a Catholic majority in America would light once more the fires of the Inquisition. On Ryan's ingenious principles one would expect it, but the apologists treat the idea as fantastic. Yet they know perfectly well that the church claims today, in the official version of its Public Canon Law -- the code translated into English is Private Canon Law -- that it has the right and the duty to put heretics to death. I translated several passages from Dr. de Luca's official Roman (specially passed by Leo XIII) manual ("Institutions," 1901) of the law in my Appeal to Reason Library (I. 25). I pointed out that just over the American frontier in Canada, Cardinal Lepicier (another Roman professor), stated the church's position in the same terms in his "De Stabilitate et Progresser Dogmatis" and that he quotes a Canadian canonist, The Very Rev. Dom Paquet, declaring it in plain French in his "Droit Publique de L'Eglise" (1918). There is not the least controversy about it amongst Catholic experts, and therefore all the popular writers and radio speakers lie about the matter in America.
One more point. While heads (like Dr. Nicholas Murray Butler) and professors of American Universities lent their patronage in the Calvert Associates -- whose "Calvert Handbook of Catholic Facts" (1928) is a tissue of lies -- to this gross scheme, Pope Pius XI, was negotiating with the vile Dictator Mussolini, whose murder of Matteotti had shaken his position, about the price of Catholic support. Most of Mussolini's chief followers were anti-Catholic and the Pope drove a hard bargain, his terms including $90,000,000, Kingdom, the establishment of the church, clerical control of education and marriages, penalization of critics of the church, etc. In their acrid quarrel the Pope had his Secretary of State print a public letter in the papal daily paper on the position of the church in a modern state. I deal with it fully in my "True Story of the Roman Church" (Vol. 12 pp. 18-20). Here I must say, summarily, that it reiterated all the claims of the Syllabus as the, unchanged and unchangeable law of the church, and, although at that time it was not even clear that Catholics were in a majority in Italy, he, as I said above, got most of them. This was in 1929. How many American papers dared to tell the facts? How many Catholic writers and radio-spouters changed their note and began to tell the truth?
The enemies of the American way of life, the plotters against the state, the cloak and dagger folk today, are not the Communists. They are the Catholics. If they had, or ever got, the power they would rip up the Constitution. Of course, they never will get the power. That is not the point. It is not that we tremble in our shoes in anticipation of the day when the 20,000,000 real Catholics of today may become 70,000,000 or 80,000,000. Although Catholic men's associations are now organizations for helping your economical interest and the clerical body is just an economic corporation, the church still loses as many honest men and women as it attracts hypocrites. The point of actual social interest is that for any large and powerful organization to promote its economic interest by such lying is a grave social evil. Yet this Catholic body is flattered by the entire press and allowed to usurp a dictatorial power far greater even than its numbers and size deserve. We, in fact, listen with respectful attention to its claims that it alone can save civilization, while everybody knows that by its extension of its unscrupulous methods to our relation to the Soviet Union it is one of the major causes of our risks, anxieties, and poisonous international hatreds. One of the urgent needs of America today is to recognize dearly that it is fraudulent and demoralizing.
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