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Title: The Church In Politics—Americans Beware!

Author: M. M. Mangasarian

Release date: May 5, 2012 [eBook #39622]

Language: English

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Speak without being afraid that the wind will carry away your words and sow them in fresh soils.


The Church in Politics—
Americans, Beware!


A Lecture Delivered Before the Independent Religious Society, Orchestra Hall, Chicago, Sunday at 11 A. M.




Title page

The mass of the law-abiding and respectable citizens is virtually agnostic. Where its agnosticism is not reasoned out, it is habitual and unconcerned. The orderly, honest, duty-doing people who never think about religion one way or the other form by far the largest class in the community.

David Christy Murray.

The Church in Politics—
Americans, Beware!

In his letter on religion in politics, President Roosevelt takes the position, I believe, that we may look forward to the day when a Catholic, for instance, may be nominated and elected to the presidency of the United States of America. He also intimates that to refuse to vote for a Catholic on account of his religion would be bigotry! The Lutheran, Baptist and Presbyterian bodies have, if I am not mistaken, officially protested against the president's pronouncement. These Protestant churches declare that it is not fair to call them bigots for objecting to a Catholic for president.

Speaking only in the capacity of a private citizen, it is my opinion that, according to the Constitution, a Catholic is not eligible to be a candidate for president. Neither is a sincere and consistent Christian of any other denomination. Nor is a believing Jew. The Constitution explicitly ignores the religious interests of the nation; it does not even so much as mention the name of God. Had the document been created by infidels it could not have been more indifferent to the subject of church or religion. The Constitution is a downright secular instrument, having as its end one, and only one, object—the rights of man. But the supreme end of the church is God, not man; or man for God. There is then, between the church and the Constitution, an irreconcilable difference. It is because of this that the United Presbyterians, for instance, who have a membership of about a million, refuse even to take part in elections, much less to accept office under a government that deliberately ignores the Christian religion, as well as every other religion. I submit that the United Presbyterians are quite consistent, and that they deserve the respect of all[4] who hold that courage and sincerity are better than ambiguity and inconsistency. A Christian, therefore, can accept a nomination to the presidency, for instance, only by either stultifying himself and belittling his church, or by disregarding the Constitution, its spirit as well as its letter.

Nor would it be "bigotry" to contend that a Protestant or a Catholic candidate, to whom God is first and country second, should under no circumstances be voted into presidential power and influence. Even as it would not be an act of intolerance to deny the presidency of this country to a foreign-born citizen, it would not be intolerant to deny it to Catholics, for example. They are simply not eligible. Both Protestant and Catholic ought to say, when invited to the office, that they can not conscientiously swear to maintain a Constitution which fails in its duties to the Creator, and that if elected they will obey God rather than the Constitution, for a Christian can not serve two masters, neither can he be a Christian and not a Christian at the same time. I am going to quote a page from the history of modern France, to show that that is precisely what the Catholic, at least, does when he comes into power—he obeys God, that is to say, the church, and forgets all about the Constitution, that is to say, the rights of man.

France has been a turbulent country. Its political weather has been more frequently stormy than fair. It makes one nervous, almost, to read the history of France—it is so sensational. Its pages are lit up with the lightning. It is a sad and shocking story of intrigues, plots, conspiracies, treason, machination, finesse,—of manoeuvre and scandal, of sudden strokes and startling surprises, which have alternately cooled and heated the brain of the nation, and which have cultivated in the people the unhealthy craving for excitement.

Let it be admitted that the temperament of the people, its irritability or impetuosity, is in a measure responsible for this. But this in itself is not enough to explain the terrible punishments and misfortunes which have fallen upon that nation. You are all familiar with the remark of one of her great statesmen, Gambetta: "The enemy, it is clericalism."

Another statesman, Paul Bert, said: "It is not our domestic[5] discords; it is not England; nor even the trained German legions, that constitute the greatest menace to Frenchmen and the prosperity of France, still bleeding from her wounds, but the man in black." Did these statesmen speak the truth? We shall ask history to answer the question. This much, however, we can say without consulting history, that today the French republic and the Catholic church are at swords' points. After trying to pull together, church and state have separated—are completely divorced, and each suspects and fears the other. Let us try to explain the strained relations between Rome and the French republic by a reference to the events in France from the time of the second republic to the Franco-Prussian war.

In 1848, after many attempts to maintain the monarchy, France returned to the republican form of government. The Catholic church, always powerful in the country, and having great interests at stake, to the surprise of the nation, welcomed the republic with enthusiasm. The Archbishop of Cambrai, the bishops of Gap, of Chalons, of Nancy, and the Catholic periodicals, l'Univers, the Moniteur, etc., declared that the republican form of government was of divine origin, and that there were no other three words in all the world more sacred than the words "Liberty, Equality, Fraternity." In all the churches high mass was celebrated, and a Te Deum chanted in honor of the new regime. "There are no more devoted and sincere republicans in France than the Catholics," wrote Veuillot in l'Univers, the organ of the church. In asking you to keep this in mind, I also request you to note that the Catholic church in America seems to be today just as devoted to the American republic as the French Catholics professed to be to the republic of 1848. But let us not forget that this same clergy, during the reign of the first Napoleon, introduced the following questions and answers into every church catechism in use throughout the land:

Question: Why are we under obligations to our emperor?

Answer: Because, in the first place, God, who creates empires and distributes them according to his pleasure, in blessing our emperor, both in peace and war, has set him over[6] us as our sovereign, and has made him the image of himself upon the earth. To honor and serve the emperor is then to honor and serve God.

Question: Are there not special reasons why we are most profoundly indebted to Napoleon the First, our emperor?

Answer: Yes. For in difficult circumstances, he is the man whom God has raised up to re-establish the public worship of the holy religion of our fathers, and to be our protector.... He has become the anointed of the Lord by the consecration of the pope, the head of the Church Universal.

Question: What shall be thought of those who fail in their respect to our emperor?

Answer: According to the Apostle Paul, those who resist the appointed powers shall receive eternal damnation to their souls.[A]

Of course, when the first Napoleon fell, the Catholic church quickly withdrew from circulation the catechism from which I have been quoting. It was after considerable effort that I was able to secure a copy of the work. The infallible church, then, was for Napoleon, heart and soul, as long as he was in power. Without any conscientious scruples whatever, the church hailed the tyrant, whose profession was wholesale murder for his own glory—as the "image of God on earth!" In those days it meant "damnation" not to accept Napoleon as the anointed of heaven. Such a guide is the church!

But at last the church professed to be converted to liberty.

Now we are in a position to appreciate the sudden and complete change of front on the part of the French clergy. From staunch imperialists they had been converted, judging by their professions, to the principles of the French revolution. An era of peace and brotherhood seemed to open before that much troubled country. Priest and magistrate had both buried the hatchet; church and school would now, after endless disputation, co-operate in the work of education, and the vicar of Christ and the president of the republic shall join hands in the service of the people. The new republic promised all this.[7] The skies were serene and clear, and the church bells rang in honor of the era that had just dawned.

Having inaugurated the republic, the next business before the country was the election of a president. The Catholic church, having disarmed all suspicion and given tangible proofs of its conversion to republicanism, succeeded in nominating its own candidate to the presidency. This was Louis Napoleon, the nephew of the great Napoleon. To elect its nominee, the church engaged in a most active campaign; sermons were delivered in every church; a house to house canvass was undertaken, and even the confessional was utilized to secure votes for "the Star of France," as they called Napoleon.

On election day, each priest led his parishioners to the voting booth and saw that the ballots were properly deposited. The result was that Louis Napoleon was elected by 5,534,520 votes, out of a total of 7,426,252 votes cast. That is to say, he had a majority of nearly three millions.

What made Louis Napoleon a favorite with the church? To answer that question we shall have to step onto the stage and peep behind the scenes. But to see what was transpiring behind the scenes in France we shall have to go to Rome.

About the time we are now speaking of, the papal states in Italy were up in arms against the pope, who at this time still enjoyed his temporal power. He was still both priest and king. He had his own soldiers, his own generals, his cannons, guns and powder. He went to war; collected taxes, administered the courts, and possessed all the prerogatives of a secular sovereign. He was, of course, besides all this, also the vicar of Christ on earth. Unfortunately, like any other sovereign of those days, the pope oppressed his subjects, and it was to put an end to their grievances that the Italian states revolted, and made an attempt to establish a republic in Rome. No doubt our own example in this country, as well as that of the French, encouraged the Italians in their efforts to free themselves from oppression. The republican movement spread rapidly—like the rushing waters of a reservoir that had at last broken loose. The whole peninsula was athrill with new[8] aspirations. The Italians remembered the days of their pagan ancestors and took heart. The charmed and charming words, "Liberty! Constitution!" were upon every lip. Soon the heavens would beam with the radiant star of Garibaldi. The movement was so irresistible that the pope, Pius IX, was compelled to make terms with the leaders. It was agreed that, henceforth, the country, instead of being governed exclusively by the clergy, as heretofore, should be governed by two chambers, the members to one of which should be appointed by the pope; the members to the other should be elected by the people. The two chambers, however, as was to be expected, could not get along together. The priests were not used to obeying, they were used to commanding. They obeyed only God. Moreover, the secular members undertook to interfere in church matters, which the priests would not tolerate, although they themselves never refrained from interfering in secular matters. The deliberations became anarchic in parliament. The priests declared they represented God and could never be in the wrong. Whoever they may have meant by the word "God," he was invariably on the side of the priests. This, the other members declared, was not fair, as it tied up their hands and made them as helpless as the delegates to a Russian Douma are today. Things went from bad to worse; murders became daily occurrences. The pope, fearing assassination, fled from Rome. His departure was hailed with joy. Rome unfurled the republican flag from the dome of St. Peter's. The pope was a fugitive. Rome was free.

To crush this republican movement and restore the runaway pope to his throne, the church needed an agent. The agent must be strong enough to strangle the Italian republic and to recover for the pope his temporal power. Spain was too decrepit to be summoned to the task. Austria had already too much of Italy in her grip; the only nation that could disinterestedly fight for the pope would be France.

Observe now the double role which the church was playing: In France she was an ardent republican, in Italy she anathematized the republic as a blasphemy against God. In[9] France she was ringing bells in honor of the rights of man, in Rome she was firing shot and shell into the Italian republicans. In France the republic was of divine origin, in Italy, it was the work of the devil. Let us state it frankly, the church was a republican in France, not from love but from policy. History will confirm our statement.

But we have not yet answered why Louis Napoleon was such a favorite with the church. On the eve of the elections in France, Napoleon, who was one of the candidates for the presidency, sent a letter to the nuncio of the pope in Paris, in which he expressed his personal opinion, an opinion which at the time looked quite harmless, that, for the peace of Italy and the prestige of the Catholic world, the temporal power of the pope should be maintained. Few people were reflective enough to suspect that there was in those words a pledge on the part of the candidate to employ, if elected to the presidency, the resources of France in the service of Rome.

Naturally enough, not long after his election, the church called upon Napoleon to fulfill his promise. But to make a promise is very much easier than to fulfill it. How was the president going to persuade the French to make war upon a sister republic? It was clearly to the interest of the French to have the republican form of government spread. But it was to the interest of the church to overthrow the Italian republic and restore the pope to the vatican. The French must, therefore, prefer the interest of the pope to the interest of their own country. Americans beware!

On the 30th of March, 1849, Louis Napoleon succeeded in getting a favorable vote from the assembly upon the following proposition: "If for the maintenance of the integrity of the Kingdom of Piedmont, and for the preservation of the interests and honor of France, the executive power shall deem it necessary for the enforcement of its negotiations to occupy temporarily any given point in Italy, the national assembly shall lend him its cordial and effective support."[B] A short time after, Napoleon dispatched to Rome a force under the[10] command of Oudinat, with secret instructions to reseat the pope on his apostolic as well as temporal throne. On the 30th of April the French republican army opened fire on the Italian republicans defending Rome. The French were repulsed. When the news of the disaster to the French forces reached Paris it threw the country into a state of delirium. Scarcely anybody not in the conspiracy had suspected that the innocent looking measure presented to the assembly by the president of the republic really authorized the declaration of war against Italy; and no one so much as imagined that "a given point in Italy" meant Rome, or that "the interests and the honor of France" required the restoration of the principle of absolutism in Italy. But it was too late; the assembly had been caught in a trap. The disgrace and the defeat were matters of fact which could not be undone.

A moment ago I called attention to the double role of the church. I now ask you to see how the church was trying to drag the French nation into the same insincerity and duplicity. Think of a nation which had created the Revolution, which had overthrown the monarchy, and had inscribed upon its banner "Liberty, Equality, Fraternity"—think of such a nation going to war against one of its neighbors for following its example! The creators of liberty were urged to become its assassins. Into this ludicrous, absurd, nay, infamous role, was the French republic dragged by Napoleon and the power that had made him president of the republic. Americans beware!

On the 29th of June the French forces made a second attack upon Rome, putting the republicans to rout and restoring the pope to the vatican, whence a short time before he had fled to a place of safety. The French republic has now destroyed the Italian republic. The words, "Liberty, Equality, Fraternity," shall no longer be heard in Rome. The republican flag has been taken down from St. Peter's. The pope is king again. Mazzini, Armellini, Saffi, Garibaldi and their colleagues, become exiles. France refuses them an asylum. France, the country of the Revolution, of the rights of man, of the republic with its glorious motto, "Liberty, Equal[11]ity, Fraternity"—refuses to shelter the Italian republicans! It was to the interest of France to give these men the hand of fellowship; it would have been to the honor and glory of France to have opened her doors to these deliverers of an oppressed nation, but it was not to the interest of the church, and the church comes first; France must be sacrificed to Rome. Americans beware!

The Italian patriots crossed the channel and found in Protestant England the asylum which the country that had introduced the republic into modern Europe denied them.

It was then that our great friend, George Jacob Holyoake, opened his heart and his home to the patriots of Italy. For many years and at frequent intervals both Mazzini and Garibaldi were his guests, and he helped to win for them the friendship of generous men who raised the funds to continue the rebellion, which was ultimately crowned with success.

Pioneers! O, Pioneers!

I can not think of these brave men and their work without recalling Whitman's bugle call:

Pioneers! O, Pioneers!
Till with sound of trumpet,
Far, far off the daybreak call—hark, how loud and clear I hear it wind,
Swift! to the head of the army!—swift! spring to your places,
Pioneers! O, Pioneers!

But let us proceed:

One day, somewhere about 1852, the people of France, when they rose in the morning, found that their republic had disappeared. Not only was the Italian republic no more, but the French republic had gone too. The same power that had driven the republicans out of Rome had driven them out of France. As if by a sponge, the free institutions of the country and the constitution, were wiped out by one sweep of the hand. The first places which, after this coup d'etat, Napoleon III visited, were the churches. He walked up to the altar in each church which he visited on his triumphal journey through France, and knelt down for prayer and worship. How did the clergy receive him? What did they say to this betrayer[12] of the nation, this traitor, who had violated his solemn oath? Let me reproduce the words of the oath which Napoleon took on the day of his inauguration as president of the republic:

"In the presence of God and before the people of France, I solemnly swear to remain faithful to the democratic republic, one and indivisible, and to fulfill all the duties which the Constitution imposes upon me."

What did the church say to this man who had trampled the Constitution of the country under his feet, and had commanded French soldiers to fire upon Italian republicans in the streets of Rome, and upon French republicans in the streets of Paris? History has preserved the exact words of bishops and cardinals addressed to Napoleon, the usurper: "You, sire, have re-established the principle of authority, as indispensable to the church as it is to the state." Again, "How can we worthily express our gratitude to a sovereign who has done so much for religion!" and the bishop of Grenoble proceeds to enumerate the services of Napoleon to the church: The restoration of the Pantheon to the church, which an impious government had converted to secular uses by dedicating it to the atheist poets and philosophers of France; the creation of a national fund for the saying of mass for the indigent poor; the appointment of chaplains on all vessels flying the imperial flag; the suggestion of a pension for aged priests; the granting of perfect liberty of action to the ministers of the church, which liberty of action the church will use to confirm the principle of authority and to teach the nation submission to the government and its laws. "Behold," cries the bishop, after enumerating these benefits, "our reason for the gratitude we feel." The Cardinal of Bourges, the bishops of Marseilles, of Frejus, of Aix, of Bordeaux, of Poitiers, and, in fact, of every important diocese in the country, in the same way praised Napoleon, the emperor, and declared he was the special messenger of heaven, and the saviour of Christianity, "whom God will never forsake, because in the hour when God's vicar on earth was in trouble, he saved him from his enemies."

They called Napoleon a Constantine, a Charlemagne. And[13] the same clergy who, a few years ago, had pronounced the words, "Liberty, Equality, Fraternity," as the holiest in all the world were now busy erasing them from the public buildings and monuments of the country. If the republic was after "God's own heart," if the rights of man were first proclaimed from Calvary, as the clergy declared during the republic, why did they make almost a saint of the man who restored oppression and absolutism in France? Were they not sincere when they published in the papers that there were not in all France more loyal republicans than the Catholics? The interest of the church required the overthrow of the French republic, as it did of the Italian, and the interest of the church is first. Already in France people were displaying banners on which were inscribed the words, "God save Rome and France." Rome first. Americans beware!

On the 16th of October, Napoleon entered the palace of the Tuileries as emperor. The cheers and cries of the populace, congregated in the gardens and shouting "Vive l'Empereur," brought him out upon the balcony. He stood between King Jerome upon his left, and the Archbishop of Paris upon his right. On that same day Victor Hugo fled from Paris for his life. The archbishop in the palace with Napoleon; Victor Hugo in exile! My countrymen, beware!

Under the Napoleonic regime the schools rapidly passed into the hands of the clergy. France had labored sincerely and made many sacrifices to reform the schools and to oust the priest—the priest who had declared that "the brains of young Frenchmen should be pinched, if necessary, to make them obedient to the authority of the church." Michelet, the glorious Michelet, was deposed from his chair in the College of France and a clerical given his post. The same fate overtook Vacherot and Renan. No professors in the Sorbonne, or in any institution, who did not bow to the pope and his creature on the throne of France, were permitted to teach. Secret orders and religious schools sprang up everywhere like mushrooms over-night. The emissaries and the missionaries of the faith became exceedingly busy in the acquisition of property. In a small town, suddenly, as it were, a few beg[14]garly monks and nuns make their appearance; they have not where to lay their heads; the community has to provide them with the necessaries of life. A short time after, this same religious colony is in possession of the finest establishments in the town, with long bank accounts to their credit. Wealth flows into their coffers from rich widows and dying millionaires. Every faithful Catholic leaves his estate to the parish priest, or to some religious order. Property accumulates by leaps and jumps. What happens in one town happens in every other; the country is overrun with the agents of a foreign power. The church is making hay while the sun shines. As some of the principles of free government were still in force, even with Napoleon on the throne, these religious orders were asked to obey the law and secure a permit before pursuing their vocation. They answered that the church was above the state, and that they must obey God rather than men. The emperor advised them, from policy, at least, to apply for a license, which would certainly be given to them, but it is of no use. "We are citizens of heaven," declared the monks and priests, "we do not obey laws, we make them." What! Shall the bride of Christ wait upon the secular powers for permission to serve God! Abomination! the church that can elect a president and afterwards elevate him to the throne, can afford to dispense with the laws as it did with the constitution. Under the republic it was "Long live France," with the Catholics in power it is "Long live Rome and France."

Encouraged by the flatteries of the church, Napoleon invited the pope to Paris to place the crown upon his head, even as a former pope had crowned his uncle, the first Napoleon, in the church of Notre Dame. The pope was beside himself with joy. The opportunity had come for the vicar of Christ to ask for greater concessions from France—yes, from that infidel France, which had converted the Church of St. Genevieve into a Pantheon for atheist poets and philosophers. He sent word to the emperor that he would be glad to go to Paris to crown the faithful son of the church, but—but, the other Catholic sovereigns would not like it. It would make[15] them jealous. Could not, therefore, Napoleon come to Rome to be crowned in St. Peter's cathedral? But the emperor realized that if he went to Rome, he would never be thought as big a man as the first Napoleon, who not only brought the vicar of Christ to Paris, but who also took the crown from his hands and placed it himself upon his own head. He wrote an autograph letter, which he sent to the pope by a clerical messenger of great influence, urging the pope to come to Paris. Then the pope threw aside the mask and opened his heart to the emperor: Yes, I will come; you have done much for the church, for our holy religion, but I will not come until you have altogether purged the country of every kind of heresy. How could the emperor expect the vicar of Christ to set his foot upon a soil where Protestant and Jew enjoyed equal freedom of worship with the Catholic—listen to that; how could the pope visit a country that allowed freedom of thought and speech, and of the press; that allowed civil marriages; that did not legally compel everybody to go to mass on Sundays; that did not punish with pains and penalties all those who departed from the Catholic faith? Let the emperor exalt Catholicism over all the sects,—make it the religion of the state, abolish civil marriages, refuse freedom of assembly to heretics; and then will the tiara of the pope lend its eclat to the crown of the emperor. And this is the church that shortly before had pledged its word of honor to the principles of the republic—"Liberty, Equality, Fraternity!" See what happens to the republic when the Catholics are in power. "The lamb and the lion shall lie down together." Yes? But what will happen to the lamb? The divine church and a merely human Constitution can co-exist in the same country only on one condition—the "divine" shall swallow up the human. This is what has happened in Spain; this is what has happened in Italy; this is what happened in France under the Catholic regime, and this is, in our opinion, what will happen in America, should Rome ever come to be installed at the White House in Washington! "Ah," you say, "the Catholics will never do in America the things they have done in Europe." No? Are there two kinds of Catholics? Is the[16] Church of Rome divided? Is there any reason why they should hesitate to sacrifice America, if need be, to the "Glory of God," if they did not hesitate to sacrifice France? At any rate, all one can do is to give warning and to point to the lesson of history. More than that no one can do, at present, at least.

In this connection, I must make an explanation. I respect the right of my neighbor to be a Catholic. I am ready to fight for the protection of his liberties as I am for my own. It gives me real pleasure to admit also that there are sincere, brave, noble and pure minded men and women in all the churches. What I am trying to do is to prove, by citing history, that a supernatural order and a merely human state can not pull together. The attempt has always resulted disastrously. The church is supernatural, the state is human. Either the one or the other must rule. If the church submits to the state, it ceases to be divine, for how can a divine institution be subject to a man-made state? It would be like asking God to obey man. Besides, a state is made up of Jews, unbelievers, heretics, Turks and pagans, as well as of Christians. How can such a state make laws for Christians?

If, on the other hand, the state would be subject to the church, there will only be the church. We will in that event have no further use for freedom, for instance, as we would not know what to do with it, since we can not use it to criticise or disagree with the church, or help to build up a new church. When we have God for a teacher, or his vicar on earth to rule us, what would liberty be good for? It follows then, that the Catholic church can not consistently be subject to any secular power, being a "divine" institution. This statement can not be successfully controverted, and if so, we call the attention of the president of the United States to it, as well as of all those who believe that it is possible to have Rome in the White House and be a republic at the same time.

Nor should people complain because I am so earnest about this matter. If it is a virtue in the Catholics to labor night and day to convert this country to their faith, as they say they are doing, why is it improper in me to try to protect[17] the free institutions of the country? I have not said anything against Catholicism which Cardinal Gibbons has not said against what he calls the infidels. In one of his recent letters he declared that no agnostic or atheist should be given office in this country. Why may a cardinal stand up for his church, and not I for the secular state? If the framers of the Constitution desired only Christians, or believers in a church of some kind as office holders, they would not have left the name of the deity out of the nation's charter. According to the Constitution, the only persons really eligible to office are the infidels, or at any rate, those only who are willing to place the interests of the country above even those of God or church. Are Catholics willing to do that? We ask once more, are Catholics willing to do that?

And we do not have to ask the future to answer that question. The past has answered it in unmistakable fashion. What today is the difference between Austria, for instance, and America? In Catholic or religious Austria, the interest of the church is above the rights of man. It is well for religion to be free, but it is not free in Austria; it is well for thought and speech to be free, but they are not free in Austria. Why? Because the interests of the church come first. In secular America, religion is free, thought and speech are free. Why? The rights of man come first in a secular state. The church has the power to make an America out of Austria. But will she do it? Yet if she had the power to make an Austria out of America would she hesitate to do it? Americans beware!

But let us return to Napoleon III and Pius IX. Encouraged and emboldened by his successes, and his increasing power over the emperor, as well as by his command of the resources of France for his own throne, Pius IX about this time promulgated the famous dogma of the infallibility of the pope. Until then, the church, or ecclesiastical councils, shared infallibility with the pope, but henceforth the pope alone shall be infallible, and councils and conclaves would no longer be needed to decide religious questions. Thus, to the principle of absolutism was given a new endorsement. As soon as he became infallible, the pope announced a new dogma[18]—the immaculate conception of the virgin. The church had never held that Mary herself, like her divine son, was born of the Holy Ghost, but Pope Pius declared she was, and his word became the belief of the church universal. About this time Mary began to appear to shepherds and young girls in the fields, confirming the word of the pope that she was born of the Holy Ghost.

At the commencement of 1854 there appeared a pamphlet by an abbot who was not yet ready to accept the virgin birth of Mary. The writer charged that a certain woman of Grenoble was personating the Virgin Mother of God in these reputed appearances to shepherds and young people. Mlle. de Lamerliere, the accused woman, sued the abbot for defamation of character. To the profound regret of the church, the young lady lost her suit. From that time, her name became "The Apparition!" The church gave her a famous advocate, Berryer, to appeal the case; the abbot was defended by Jules Favre. The higher court of Grenoble confirmed the decision of the lower court, which under ordinary circumstances would have put an end to the new dogma. But it did not. The church was in politics and had therefore many ways of getting over a little embarrassment like that.

But the church did more than promulgate new dogmas. About this time, in Bologna, the little child of a Jew, Martara, suddenly disappeared from home. Careful search by the distracted father proved that the priests had carried him off to bring him up as a Roman Catholic. The anti-clerical party poured forth hot shot at a church that would steal, not only the goods, but also the children, whenever it had the power to break into people's homes. Even the emperor pleaded with the pope for the return of the child to its outraged parents. But it was all in vain. The church, the Holy Catholic church, was in the saddle, and she would ride the nation to please herself. The pope replied that as this was a matter pertaining to the salvation of the child's soul it was a spiritual question, and therefore beyond the jurisdiction of the state. Shortly after another boy disappeared precisely in the same manner, and was discovered in the Catholic seminary.[19] The French ambassador pleaded with the pope as before, but the church was a divine institution, and the secular authorities were guilty of impertinence in attempting to criticise her conduct or to give her advice. It was impossible to live next door to such a power peaceably. In every Catholic country there were two kingdoms, the one within the other; two sovereigns, the one the rival of the other. And the result was, as we said it would be a moment ago, the "divine" church swallowed up the secular state whenever it could.

In 1864 Pius IX issued his famous encyclical, in which he boldly condemned the "pernicious" doctrine of the rights of man. For the edification of Americans who hope some day to see a Catholic in the White House at Washington, let us quote one or two passages from this papal bull:

"We (the pope) can not pass over in silence the audacity of those who teach that except in matters pertaining to the church, the decrees of the Apostolic See are not binding upon the conscience." Which means that the pope must be obeyed in secular as well as in religious matters. Americans beware!

"There are also those who have the audacity to declare that the supreme authority given by Jesus Christ to the Apostolic See is subject to the secular authorities," which means that the pope is the real head of the nation as well as of the church and that she will not obey any man-made constitutions.

"Our predecessor of blessed memory, Gregory XVI, described as a madness[C] the doctrine of liberty of conscience and of worship," which means that with the Catholic church in power there will be only one church. Then the encyclical proceeds to enumerate the errors which all Catholics condemn:

Error XVIII. To say that Protestantism is a branch of the true Christian church, and that a Protestant could be as pleasing to God as a Catholic.

Error XXI. That the Catholic church has no right to call itself the only true church.


Error XXIV. That the church has no right to resort to force.

Error XXVII. That the holy ministers of the church have no right to interfere in matters temporal (this proves the charge that the Catholic church is in politics).

Error XXXVI. That there can be state churches in any country other than the Catholic church.

Error XLVII. That the schools should be independent of the authority of the church.

Error LV. That the state ought to be separated from the church.[D]

There is much in the passages quoted to make every lover of free institutions to ponder over seriously and long.

But let us hasten to the concluding chapter of that period in history reaching from 1848 to 1870, with which we have been dealing. The third Napoleon began to realize that after all he was a mere figure-head in the empire which he had created by violating his own oath and abrogating the constitution. The real sovereign of the French was Pope Pius IX. In other words, the relation between pope and emperor was that which the bible suggests should exist between husband and wife. The pope was the husband, the emperor was the wife, and, as commanded in the bible, a wife must obey her husband. Napoleon more than once made attempts to free himself from the ever-tightening grip of the pope, but only to find that he was helpless. For instance he had written to the pope about reforms in the papal states, urging the Holy Father to curb the abuses of the clergy and to introduce modern methods in the government of his territory. But he was compelled to apologize for presuming to give advice to the vicar of Christ. On another occasion, the emperor was foolish enough to suggest that Frenchmen must obey the laws of their own country before those of a foreign power. Did he mean Rome, by "a foreign power?" He was clearly made to understand that the Catholics in France were first the sub[21]jects of the pope, and then the subjects of the emperor. Despite these failures to free himself from the authority of the church, the signs of insubordination on the part of the emperor increased. Napoleon's principal weakness was vacillation. He never finished an undertaking. His resolutions were like fire-rockets, they fell to the ground as soon as they shot up in the air. Vacillation means weakness. Napoleon after all was like clay in the hands of the pope. The pope had made him, and the pope could unmake him.

To be just to the emperor, we must also make allowances for the influence which the queen, Empress Eugenie, exerted over him. She was a Spaniard, very worldly, and yet very pious. She was one of those women to whom the priest was God in miniature.

Strange as it may seem, Napoleon's son, on the other hand, the prince and presumptive heir to the throne, at whose birth the pope had sent Eugenie the golden rose, was an avowed free thinker. Napoleon now sided with his queen, and now with his son. He had no mind of his own. It was in one of his independent moods that he decided to make a final effort to shake off Rome from his shoulders. He entered into a secret arrangement with Victor Emmanuel of Italy, who was then seeking to seize Rome as the capital of United Italy, to help humiliate Pius IX. Napoleon promised to let Garibaldi march upon Rome. From the moment that the Catholics discovered this plot to rob the pope of the city of Rome, Napoleon was doomed. The church not only showed its displeasure plainly, but it made it also evident that it would not accept any apologies this time. Napoleon's resolution sickened again. He became alarmed for his throne. He saw the sword of Damocles hanging over his head by a single hair. He hastened to explain, but the priests who had called him a Constantine, and a Charlemagne, now called him a Nero, and a Pontius Pilate. Like Judas, he had betrayed his master. It was in the vain hope of once more swinging around the Catholic world to his support that the emperor tapped the resources of his country to advance the Catholic faith. Bent upon this errand he sent an expedition to Syria, another[22] to China, another to Mexico. Everywhere France must become the defender of the Catholic church. It was not to the interest of France to waste its substance in a sort of Catholic crusade, tramping from east to west, for the glory of the church, but it was only by sacrificing France to the vatican that Napoleon hoped to change the frown of the pope into a smile. Finally it occurred to the emperor that a war with Germany, the rising Protestant power of the north, would restore his popularity with the church. He would humiliate Germany, overthrow the iron chancellor, and convert Berlin into a Catholic capital.

Such a conquest would give Catholicism an immense prestige, and it would make of Napoleon really another Charlemagne. The war was declared. It was an act of sheer madness. The whole nation was going to be thrown into the mouth of the cannon to please Rome and to regain her favor for France. But it was survive or perish with Napoleon.

He did not have the shadow of a foundation for a quarrel with Germany. That country was willing to withdraw the candidacy of a Hohenzollern for the Spanish throne. But Napoleon demanded more. France had been injured, he declared, and Germany must be punished for it. It must be stated that Napoleon counted on the co-operation of the King of Italy in the attack upon Germany. But when the war was declared Victor Emmanuel demanded that before he can send an Italian army to the aid of the French, Napoleon must recall his soldiers from Rome. The French were still keeping an army in Rome to maintain the pope upon his throne. Victor Emmanuel asked the French to vacate Rome. This Napoleon was willing enough to do, but the Catholics in France threatened to "boycott" the emperor if he left the pope to his fate. It was a critical situation. The Italians would not budge unless the French soldiers were recalled from Rome, and the French would not support the emperor if they were. In the meantime, the victorious Germans were before the walls of Sedan. Anon, the cannon's roar was heard in the streets of Paris. A wave of blood, red and palpitating, was sweeping onward upon the fair land of France. The nation was upon[23] her knees, mangled, bleeding, torn, ruined. The "faithful" were marching the streets with "God save Rome and France." It was too late. The church in politics cost France the slaughter of her armies, the criminal waste of her savings, the destruction of her cities, the loss of two of her provinces—Alsace and Lorraine—and imposed upon her a blood tax, the enormity of which was appalling. Americans beware!

And if France did not go the way of Spain, it was because, when she returned to the republican form of government once more, she put no faith in the professions of loyalty to the republic by the priests, and refused to consider their candidate to the presidency. By ousting the church from politics in France, that unhappy country has recovered her health, has entered the path of peace and progress, and is today one of the freest and foremost nations of the world.

What can the church do for a people? Look at Spain.

What can a country do without the church? Look at regenerated France.



[A] Catechisme a L'Usage de Tantes Les Eglises de L'Empire Francais.

[B] L'Eglise et La France. O. Jouvin, page 22.

[C] De délire.

[D] Encyclique Addresseé par N. S. P. Le Pope Pie IX. For the sake of brevity we have not translated the above passages in their entirety, but their meaning has not been sacrificed to brevity.


Transcriber's note:

In general every effort has been made to replicate the original text as faithfully as possible, which may include some instances of no longer standard or incorrect spelling, grammar, hyphenation and punctuation. The use of accents on non-English words was irregular and mostly absent; this has not been altered.

The following changes were made to repair apparent typographical errors:

p. 4 "irritability or impetuousity" impetuousity changed to impetuosity
p. 10 "The words, "Liberty, Equality," Fraternity,"" extra " removed
p. 15 "Could not, therefore, Napoelon" Napoelon changed to Napoleon
p. 16 "If the church submtis" submtis changed to submits
p. 19 "the true Christion church" Christion changed to Christian
p. 20 "has not been sacrificed to brevity[.]" period inserted