The Totalitarian Church Of Rome
Its Fuehrer, Its Gauleiter, Its Gestapo,
And Its Money-box
Edited by E. Haldeman-Julius
The Black International No. 11
- Chapter I – The Holy Father
- Chapter II – The Right Reverend Fathers
- Chapter III – The Common Or Garden Fathers
- Chapter IV – The Money-Box
During the past few years several estimable American writers have claimed that the Roman Church is in sympathy with Fascism and has itself a semi-Fascist complexion. In support of this charge they have adduced such evidence that even Catholics have been disturbed and divided. Apologists of the Jesuit type, who had represented the Church as the faithful guardian, if not the mother, of freedom and democracy, have excelled themselves in the contortions of their craft. They had almost succeeded in persuading America that the Statue of Liberty is a symbolic representation of the Church. Less unscrupulous Catholic writers, or those who have a higher appreciation of the intelligence of the American public, have recognized that there is some truth in the charge and have blamed the Pope, the Italian corporation that runs the Church, or the local hierarchies of bishops.
Most men vaguely feel that there is more than “some truth” in the charge. It expresses a monstrous truth: the prostitution of what they had been persuaded to accept as the most massive moral power in the world. For no literary or journalistic sophistry, no sonorous speech on the either, can blur the significance of the fact that in the mightiest struggle against evil that the planet has seen for 15 centuries the Pope has been silent. Indeed, he was worse than silent. In the old days a charge of treason was brought against any man who “comforted or abetted” the king’s enemies. In that sense the Pope is a traitor to humanity. Neutrality in the world at large, and especially in their own countries, was all the help that the bandit-powers expected of the chief oracle of the Church. It was enough if he allowed his local hierarchies of archbishops and bishops and the priests they rigorously controlled — the Black International — to assure their people that the orgy of brutality, the satisfaction of a naked lust of power and wealth, into which they had led their nations deserved their cordial support and cooperation.
And this effective support of a bestiality that will one day astonish historians is not the whole guilt of the Church. In one weak country after another that was marked out for enslavement to the vile purposes of Hitler, priests prepared the way for the invaders, and priests followed in their wake over the stricken lands — Spain, China, Abyssinia, Austria, Albania, Belgium. France, Czecho-Slovakia, and Yugo-Slavia — to raise the gold and white banner of the Papacy, beside that of the pirates. Even in the United States and the British Empire they tried, until each of the Pope’s three Allies in turn cynically dropped the mask and struck at democracy, to lull suspicion and to paralyse by promoting hatred of Russia and friendliness with or neutrality toward the enemies of civilization.
These facts may be discerned by any man on the face of contemporary life, and in a series of ten booklets I have given the details and the full evidence. Readers of my historical works (The True Story of the Roman Church, The History of Morals, etc.) hardly needed proof, They know that for many centuries the Roman Church has maintained its power, and could not otherwise have survived in an age of growing enlightenment, by allying itself with bloody and corrupt secular powers. From about 1150, When Europe was fairly awake after the heavy slumbers of the Dark Ages and perceived the corruption of its Church, to 1550, when Protestants won the first installment of freedom, several million rebels against Rome were massacred or savagely executed. Even in the first half of the 19th Century, when the nobler motto of the French Revolution had been washed out with blood, the Church compassed the death of further hundreds of thousands. Then the new humanitarian world of our time — the skeptical frivolous world whose sins the Church tearfully deplores — compelled it to suspend its policy. But that policy remained and remains, on its statute book when it saw tens of millions of adherents turning away from it in the new atmosphere of freedom it waited impatiently for the opportunity to apply it once more. The onset of the Axis beasts was its opportunity.
But few know these things today. In the new and more liberal world the Church at first professed repentance and conversion. But as it grew in wealth and masses of voters it grew bolder, and at length it acquired a control of public education that is second only to that of the Nazis in thoroughness and mendacity. We shall see the details of the plot. By the wealth it was able to use in propaganda, by the intimidation of some and the Seduction of other organs of instruction, even of some academic writers, it succeeded in obliterating all traces of its grisly past and on imposing upon America the idea that Roman Catholicism is a moral force that is beautifully adapted to work with the spirit and institutions of America. That also will some day astonish historians.
Accustomed for years to have this idea of the Church impressed upon him daily or weekly by his papers, breathed persuasively from his radio, endorsed even by statesmen, the average American hesitates when you say that it is rather an economic corporation than a moral force and is the natural ally of Nazis and Fascists because it has the same aims — to increase its own power and wealth — and the same ruthlessness in pursuing its aim. So here I propose to give a true and detailed description of the Roman Church and contrast this with the utterly false representation of it in American Catholic literature. As in the earlier series I intend to rely on facts not rhetoric: and those facts will be given as far as possible on Catholic authority, always on the best authorities. Part of the hesitation of the average American is due to the fact that Catholic writers have warned him that the Church is misrepresented and libelled: that it has, in fact, “enemies,” who are driven to an insane hatred of it by its virtue and wisdom. It is an old trick. You have heard that sort of thing from Goebbels and Haw-Haw, have you not? You heard it from the Nazis until 1939, from the Italians until 1941, from the Japs until 1942. But you shall we the facts and judge for yourself.
I think it was Cardinal Hayes — the priest who in 1921 ordered the New York Police (who obeyed) to stop an important meeting on Birth Control in the Town Hall — that claimed, and a vast body of American Catholics applauded the claim, that it is the sight of St. Patrick’s Cathedral, not of the Statue of Liberty, that, as a symbol of freedom, moistens the eyes of the refugee from down-trodden Europe. Have Catholics no sense of humor? St. Patrick’s Cathedral, or the Roman Church in America which it represents, suggests a body of about 35,000 priests who not only rule the maids of 20,000,000 Americans, threatening them with the horrors of an eternal concentration-camp if they rebel or read anything that might excite a critical feeling, but they interfere in the intimate details of the personal lives of these 20,000,000 Americans more truculently than the Gestapo meddle with such matters in Germany. It suggests a body of 120 bishops and archbishops who rule the priests as despotically as these rule the people. And it points overseas to a Pope who controls the bishops and archbishops as tyrannically as they rule their priests, and who has on occasion treated, publicly, the whole body of American prelates as arrogantly as some tactless lieutenant of police treats his patrolmen.
Let us begin with the Pope. He is called the Holy Father or His Holiness or the Sovereign Pontiff because he is so holy and removed from ordinary mortals that if you have only 10 or 20 dollars to spare when you get to Rome you must look at him from a distance. If you can make it $50 or $100 you may kiss his slipper. Make it $1,000 or so and you may kiss his ring. If you have a million you may kiss almost anything.
You do not, understand the Catholic protests. It is not his person but in his character that the Pope is sacrosanct. He bears a dignity that has been borne during nearly 1900 years by a long line of austere Bishops of Rome, and he has been chosen for this and endowed with a very special measure of “grace” by the Holy Ghost. Even a politician may fittingly speak with reverence of such a character or kiss his ring, while the heads of these upstart Protestant Churches must groan with envy. Well, I know nothing about Holy Ghosts but I know as much as any man living about these Holy Fathers of the past. I have, in fact, written about them so often that here I must be very summary. But if I dismiss them with the bald remark that no other long-lived religion in history ever had so disreputable a series of supreme leaders some of my readers, more familiar with the conventional estimate of them, will find it incredible, so let me repeat a few lines.
How many Popes there have been we cannot say precisely, since even Catholic writers differ about the number. The first three or four on Catholic lists are more or less mythical, and there were later ages when rivals for the wealthy bishopric got into such a muddle of consecrations that it is difficult to say which was Pope and which Anti-Pope. Let us say about 260. You will find that in Catholic lists of these no less than 30 were Martyrs and 86 were Saints. No wonder your Catholic neighbor is proud of his Popes! Yet this statement, though repeated in the most important Catholic works of reference, is so flagrantly untruthful as to the Martyrs that the weightiest Catholic experts on such matters (Delehaye, Ehrhard, Duchesne, etc.) admit that two Popes, at the most laid down their lives for the faith. A dozen or so cheerfully laid down the lives of their rivals or opponents.
Two-third’s of the 86 Saints are men about whose character we have no evidence that would be regarded as reliable even by the biographer of a statesman. The eulogies of these in the Catholic Encyclopedia are based upon a Roman official calendar of the Popes the first part of which is mainly fiction and upon tombstone epitaphs like that which describes John XII, the most corrupt young ruffian who ever wore the tiara, as “an ornament of the whole world.”
Of the first 30 Popes, who all wear the official halo, the character of only five is known to us. Two of these were Anti-Popes who died in an odor not of sanctity but of sulphur, a third (Victor) was rebuked by the whole Church for his arrogance and was on peculiarly good terms with the Emperor’s hottest concubine; the fourth (Callistus) was an unscrupulous ex-slave adventurer (and we know him best of all): the fifth (Damassus) fell foul even of the civic police of Rome on a serious charge of moral turpitude. To sum up this matter of early history, of which I give a full account elsewhere, we do not know the character of at least 100 (which includes nearly all the Martyrs and most of the Saints) of the 260 Popes; we know that more than half the remainder were addicted to simony or protected clerical corruption; and we know that of the remaining 160, with good evidence as to character, about 30 were murderers, fornicators, sodomists, or variety-artists in crime. So much for the fragrant tradition of holiness.
Some of your professors of history say that I am just muckraking when I recall these things, because the Roman Curia reformed long ago. When? Certainly not at the Reformation, for the line of Unholy Fathers, which had then already lasted a century, was, with a few short intervals, prolonged for another century after Luther; and the “greatest” Pope of the 18th Century, Benedict XIV, was notorious in Europe for his love of spicy stories and used expressions which the police would not permit me to translate.
But did not the even more terrible losses of money and members at the French Revolution sober the Papal Court? For a time, or as long as the wintry winds blew. When the sun of corrupt despotism shone again upon Europe the Popes and cardinals showed little improvement. In my large History of the Popes (1939) I have described the three Popes who adorned the Holy See in that Indian Summer of the Middle Age’s. Leo XII, a converted rake and elderly invalid, was despised by all Rome and Italy. Pius VIII was a paralyzed old man who literally dribbled at the mouth as they wheeled him about the Vatican in his baby-carriage. Gregory XVI, a notorious wine-bibber and lover of erotic gossip, “absorbed himself in ignoble interests while the country groaned under misrule” (says one of the chief Italian historians). The leading power of Europe had, publicly, to warn these moral oracles of the race to put a little common decency into their kingdom. Then there was the “saintly” Pius IX, a miserable weakling who, after running away in disguise from the revolutionary storm of 1848, let Cardinal Antonelli (who was born a pauper and left $20,000,000 for his bastard daughter and the priests to fight over) rule Italy on the vicious old lines while he defied modern thought, discovered the Immaculate Conception of Mary, and bullied the bishops into the irony of declaring him infallible! The century finished with “the great diplomatist” Leo XIII; and he was so successful in his diplomacy that during his pontificate the Church lost some tens of millions of members.
Well, you may say, that must have taught the cardinal-electors a lesson, and since 1900 they must have been very careful to choose the really holiest and best candidates. They learned no lesson whatever. Each of the recent Papal elections has been, as it always was, preceded by intrigue and the clash of rival ambitions. Three times since 1900 the voters have put at the head of their Church (a world-wide business with an income of hundreds of millions of dollars a year at its central office alone) a man who would have failed to run a $3,000 store. I have just read fifteen Catholic books — British, French, Italian, and German — on them and ought to know them.
The fourth, the present Pope, we will discuss shortly. Let us first consider the Papal election (Conclave) in itself. This will correct half the flatulent stuff you may have read in American papers. The Catholic theory you probably know. Sixty or seventy cardinals elect the Pope. They are locked and carpentered in a special part of the Vatican palace, where each now has a suite of rooms — in the old days when they were all locked in a chapel day and night for weeks the odor was not one of sanctity — until one of the rival candidates gets two-thirds of the vote’s. There is much praying to the Holy Ghost for guidance, but they still have to be locked in and watched lest they consult profane persons outside. It is to be inferred that the direction of the Holy Ghost is not in good Latin because they rarely agree in less than three days. Possibly it is not even then the supernatural guidance so much as the rule that their diet shall be cut down from the fourth day that hastens the decision.
In practice the Conclave is much more human than the theory. Ever since the Church of Rome became rich in the 4th Century there has been a spirited struggle for the control of the treasury. As early as 366 more than 160 of the supporters of the rival candidates had to be buried, and as late as 1492 the “butcher’s bill” was more than 200. The struggle is now more refined; though when the Pope says his first Mass he still has nobles at hand to take the first sip of the wine and see that it has not been poisoned.
A feverish intrigue warms Rome before la Pope’s death. Broadly there are two schools of cardinals: the “zealots” — think of the hairy hill-men of Kentucky who roar out the hymn “Old-Fashioned Religion” — and the “political’s” or practical men. There are generally four or five cardinals who fancy their chances and carry the bets of the Romans, and they canvass the voters of the rival schools and let it be known that they are grateful to supporters. Each party selects one champion, and they enter the Conclave with the Holy Ghost on their lips and the name of a candidate in their pockets. Those from France, Germany, Italy, or Spain may have also instructions from their governments to keep out So-and-so at all costs (the veto).
They pray and talk for an hour or two and then take a vote (written). The two favorites are found to have, perhaps, a third of the votes each, and the nibbling at each other’s parties and the neutrals begins. There is still generally a deadlock, and they turn to the string of “also ran.” A few colorless outsiders are tried until one gets the two-thirds vote. He is generally advanced in age or an invalid so that the struggle may be resumed in a few years. The lucky man who at last gets the required majority murmurs “I am not worthy” and — because a Pope Was once taken seriously when he said this — makes for the pontifical robes, which are waiting (in three sizes). Then they take him out on the balcony to show to the public. The historical record of these Conclaves by Petrucelli della Gattina — a good deal of it is translated in Miss V. Pirie’s Triple Crown (1935) — beats the history of Tammany for clean fun.
An Italian Catholic priest, G. Berthelet (Storia en Rivilazioni sul Conclave, 1904) says of the election of the “great” Leo XIII:
“If Pius IX had foreseen the election of Leo XIII he would have excommunicated him, but if Leo XIII had foreseen that at his death the cardinals would vote for Giuseppe Sarto, he would have excommunicated the lot of them.”
Sarto, Archbishop of Venice, was a good old man of peasant origin. His sister kept the village pub. He loved to talk broad Venetian with a countryman and shock the more starchy cardinals. But what else could the poor voters do? For years Cardinal Rampolla, the ablest of them, a lean black-visaged lynx-eyed schemer like the present Pope, had worked for the position. The candidate of the zealots was Gotti, a somber ascetic man; and one of the leading Roman cardinals, Vannutilli, who was well known to have a mistress and children living not very far from the Vatican — one of the chief American consuls in Italy pointed out the house to me in Rome in 1904 — thought that he had a sporting chance and carried many bets. But with so many of these prudish Americans and British about in Rome nowadays only five dare vote for the gay cardinal and he dropped out. Then, as that very sober and weighty French newspaper Le Temps said in its account of the Conclave: “The Holy, Ghost was clearly making for the French candidate (Rampolla) but the Triplice (Triple Alliance) headed him off.” The Austrian cardinal, speaking for his government and that of Germany, said that they would not tolerate the election of Rampolla, That cardinal told them what he thought of so profane a maneuver but “the German faction” stuck to their guns and Rampolla dropped out. Then the genial Vannutilli proposed old Sarto who was turned 70 and very easy-going. The Spanish cardinal had been instructed by his government to oppose Sarto. but the warm language inspired by the Austrian Veto intimidated him and the brother of the village pub- owner (who was at once summoned to Rome and made comparatively rich) put on the holy robe’s.
Catholic writers in America have denied that Austria was allowed to exercise a veto but practically all the French and Italian Catholic writers (Berthelet, Crispolati, etc.) affirm it. I take the account of the Conclave from a biography of the Pope (Pie X intime) by a high Papal official, the Count de Colleville, who got it not only from “a great lady of the Austrian Court” (obviously the Empress) but also from Cardinal Gibbons! The French Cardinal Matthieu agrees in his account of the Conclave in the (Catholic) Revue de Deux Mondes. It is beyond question. Vannutilli and the Kaiser had a great deal more than the Holy Ghost to do with the first Papal election of the 20th Century.
As Pope Pius X (1903-14) he finely helped on that dissolution of the Church which Leo XIII had begun. How in his fight against Modernism he drove its few real scholars out of the. Church and set up a new Inquisition: how he tried to drive out artists, literary men, and ladies by forbidding modern music at the Sunday services; and how he fell foul of France and Italy by insisting on his right to examine the morals of their prelates we shall see later. He died soon after the outbreak of war in 1914. They no longer knock the Pope on the head with a little hammer to see if he is really dead or feel the testicles of a new Pope to be sure that he is not a woman in disguise, but the mood in which the cardinal-electors met at Rome was as grim as ever.
In 1914 the Vatican was “modernized.” It had one telephone, of primitive type, one creaky lift, four firemen (and odd-job men), no automobile or vacuum cleaner. But it did know that there was a war on, and the big question was whether they should have a Pope who would help to bring Italy into the war or one who would keep it neutral. Italy was a member of the Triple Alliance with Germany and Austria, but they had not much to offer it, though they made attractive offers privately to the Vatican, and they knew that it was secretly negotiating with France and Britain for a higher price. The Germans therefore hinted to the Holy Ghost that they wanted a neutrality Pope, and they got one, a rank outsider. A Strict Catholic writer, Crispolati, who was in the crowd in the Piazza when Benedict XV, the new Pope, came out on the balcony, says that there was “universal stupefaction.” Baron Sonnino wrote to a friend: “The Vatican is working with the German Centre and was always an enemy of the Italian nation.” You ought to try on an Italian friend the little joke that “the Church never interferes in polities.”
Like his predecessor, Benedict XV was a holy man — that is to say, he was elderly and never drank or swore — but as the moral ruler of the earth in a grave crisis he was about as useful as the Grand Lama of Tibet. Europe was aflame with the first great war of the century and, though this is not the place to assign the war- guilt, no one imagines that the welter of blood and tears was just due to an innocent misunderstanding. But Benedict XV flatly refused to inquire who was guilty, “I am,” he said in his Consistorial Allocution on January 22, 1915, “commissioned by God to be his chief interpreter.” One would think that God would have had something to say about a war that cost 10,000,000 lives and $50,000,000,000 and led to a good deal of Atheism, but his “chief interpreter” merely “denounced all injustice by whatever side it may be committed” and said that he would not “involve the pontifical authority in the controversies of the belligerents.” He was sure that it would be “clear to every unbiased thinker that in this frightful conflict the Holy See, without failing to watch it with close attention, is bound to a complete impartiality.” The Kaiser, being an unbiased man, heartily agreed with him. All that he could hope for from Italy was neutrality. And the present Pope, who was then Nuncio in Germany, was on good terms with the Kaiser.
The great French scholar A. Loisy lashed him mercilessly (in The War and Religion, 1915) for failing to distinguish between impartiality and neutrality. The Italian’s — notably one Benito Mussolini went further, They produced very good evidence that the Pope maintained to treasonable correspondence with Germany through the Austrian Church and very seriously tampered with the loyalty of the Italian troops. But we have seen enough in our time of this kind of conduct on the part of God’s chief interpreter in a world- crisis. As I said in the earlier books, the idea that there is anything new in the recent policy of the Vatican or that you can blame the present Pope for it is far astray.
How Benedict completed the medieval work of his predecessor and fastened upon the Catholic world a Code of Canon Law which gives the lie to American apologists we shall see later. The Barque of Peter emerged from the war “with overwheathered rib’s and tattered sails” and before it had time to recover it ran into the hurricane, of Atheistic Communism. A frothy sea of blasphemy (from both Fascists and Communists) confronted the Pope in Italy, and devastating waves spread over Germany, France, Spain, and Spanish America and Benedict succumbed (1922) and the cardinals met for a grimmer fight — I mean a more ardent supplication of the Holy Ghost — than ever. Ought they to maintain Benedict’s policy of spending millions of lire in an attempt to conciliate Russia? Ought they to come to terms at last with the Italian throne, which was tottering, and government and cooperate with them in strangling Socialism? And so on.
The treasury was almost empty. Catholic writers say that the new Pope found only $55,000 in it, but they are rather ingenious about these financial matters. Seldes reports their report of the $55,000 but seems to forget that a few pages earlier he had said that the new Pope set out at once upon a career of princely generosity. “The day after his succession” he says (p. 250) “he handed over 500,000 lire to the German cardinals, for their compatriot victims of the sinking mark,” and “some time after” he gave the French clergy 1,000,000 lire; and in the same year (1922) spent 2,500,000 lire on his Russian mission or enterprise. Some wizard of finance! Catholic writers say that Benedict himself had found an empty treasury, and even the expenses of the Conclave had had to be met by a fat American cheque! We thank them for these detail’s but would further like to know how these things happened when, as we shall see in the last chapter of this book, from 1900 onward the income of the Vatican had been at least $500,000,000 a year!
The same Italian writers tell us that Cardinal O’Connell had hastened to this Conclave with instructions to probe the financial mystery. The Knights of Columbus, we suppose, wanted to know where their money went. But O’Connell reached Rome to learn that the Conclave was over, and we gather that to express himself he helped out his very elementary Italian with some ripe Irish-American.
The voting had been fierce — there were 14 scrutinies or polls — and out of the fight had emerged Achille Ratti, son of a small silk-dealer of peasant origin. If his predecessor’s appearance on the balcony had been greeted with “universal stupefaction” one wonders what sensation Pius XI created. He was an obscure bookworm, a Papal librarian, and had for the last few years been buried in Poland. Which did not prevent the American press from hailing the result as a splendid choice and the new Pope as a man of marvelous attainments — he had even climbed the Alps — and character. He was quite moral, of course, and therefore in Catholic language very holy, and of simple tastes. He set up a Spartan suite of rooms in the Palace and brought his sister to clean out the rascally valets, cooks, etc. He ordered that account-books (which have never been seen) should be kept and is supposed to have reformed the finances. The atmosphere of the Vatican City and Rome was blue With naughty words.
The chief point that concerns us here is that Pius XI is the Pope who made the famous, or infamous, compact with Mussolini, constructed an alliance of great cordiality with Japan, and helped Hitler to power by ordering the German Church to drop its hostility to the bunch of Nazi adventurers. He is the Pope who made Eugenio Pacelli his Secretary of State and Signed every agreement that Pacelli negotiated between 1930 and 1939. It was he who blessed the outrages of the Germans and Italians in Spain and sent a Papal banner to float beside the blood-stained rag of Franco; he who sat with sealed lips in the Vatican while the whole Italian Church cheered the savage attack on Abyssinia and called it a crusade for God and civilization: he who patted Cardinal Innitzer on the back for betraying Austria to Hitler and who approved the Catholic intrigues which ruined Czecho-Slovakia: he who roused the Catholic world — indeed the whole world as far as he could reach it — to hatred of Russia and a demand for the extinction of Socialism. A very Holy Father. When he died the Catholic press glowed with pride in his fragrant memory and his services to the race, and the American papers generally dug out their stereotyped articles about “the venerable head of the Great Church” and his beneficent moral influence.
The cardinal-electors at once, and with less intrigue and dispute than usual appointed as his successor the man who, as Secretary of State, had emphatically carried out if not inspired, his policy of alliance, for the benefit of the Church, with the three great powers whom the world now execrates and loathes. The Catholic press hailed him ecstatically. The American section of it assured the world, on the authority of their cardinals (who had worked generously for his election) and archbishops, that he was quite American in his enthusiasm for peace, freedom and democracy. But I have told the whole story in the preceding series of booklets and will not return to it. Form your own judgment. You have all the material. Ask yourself this question: Did or did not the American, British, and French cardinals who were his chief champions in the conflict, and the archbishops and bishops whom they are supposed to consult, understand the policy that Pius XI and Pacelli has openly pursued for ten years? Choose your alternative — and your language about it.
This little sketch of the Conclaves of the last few decades will give you a better idea of the Papacy as it is today than you will learn from a hundred editorials and magazine articles. There is no need to dig up the odoriferous bodies of the Popes of the Dark Age or the Middle Age. I really do not care two pins about the question how many children Innocent VIII, Alexander VI, Julius II or Paul III had or just how many Popes were sodomists or murderers. I recall these things only when I find so many other writers, even professors, pretending that the Papacy promoted civilization in Europe or Catholic writers telling monstrous untruths about the Middle Ages. After all, these Papal sinners, however incongruous it may be to find them in a Holy See in which the Holy Ghost takes so special an interest, did not do much harm to the race. Most of the real evil was done by the Saints (Leo I, Gregory I, Gregory VII, Innocent III, etc.). But a vast amount of harm has been done by these stodgy bourgeois Popes of modern times and the political “cardinals who guided their hands.”
That they are “chosen by the Holy Ghost” you now see to be the emptiest of bunk. They are not even chosen because they are the wisest and best men available. The present Pope, it is true, was one of the ablest of the cardinal-voters, but he was not chosen on account of his linguistic ability and his experience from much traveling. He was elected because the Italian cardinals believed that Germany, Italy, and Japan would win in the impending conflict and would carry out their promises to the Church and destroy Socialism. A Papal election is like any other, except that in a political election the man with the largest number of votes wins and in the Papal election the voting must be repeated until one cardinal gets two-thirds of the votes. It is gloriously prolific of intrigue but above all hovers the golden rule: More power and wealth for the Church.
Well, this is the Pope when you strip him of all propagandist “properties,” as the theatrical folk say. That he is infallible is, of course, even on Catholic principles a poor joke. Since it was declared in 1870, after a prolonged and bitter struggle with a large part of the bishops, that he is infallible if he speaks in certain conditions every Pope has been very careful in his utterances to avoid those conditions. Is he an autocrat? Very decidedly on Catholic theory. He need not consult anybody, though in practice he consults his Secretary of State and other cardinals when he is preparing an important message. He can depose any prelate or cardinal, but in practice if an Italian is troublesome to the Pope and his friends he is buried in a diplomatic appointment far away. The Italian cardinals are the Pope’s cabinet and he frequently discusses matters with them and with visiting cardinals and archbishop’s but they have no power to modify what he propose’s to do. He is an autocrat, a dictator, a Fuhrer or Duce, in just the same sense as Hitler or Mussolini. But just as these find it expedient to discuss affairs with the leaders of their respective parties, so the Pope must consult the sentiments of the higher clergy of Italy. The cardinals find it safe to elect a mediocrity sometime’s because they know that he will not run the Church. They and the leading Italian prelates do. That is the next important point to appreciate.
American and British Catholics show a tendency in recent years to want to get rid of the title “Roman” of which they were once so proud. In order to be able to call for the suppression in America of Communism and socialism — Atheism would be the next victim — without (they say) incurring the charge of violating the grand American principle of freedom some sophists started the slogan that these things are “un-American.” It is slowly dawning upon the minds of many that a religion which calls itself Roman Catholicism does not sound pure American, so the word quietly passes round to cut out the “Roman.” Examine your new Encyclopedia Americana — of which, if you will pardon me saying so, American culture ought to be ashamed — in the writing of which Catholics have played as lamentable a part as in the writing of the last edition of the Encyclopedia Britannica.
It is ridiculous to drop the word, and it becomes quite funny when you occasionally find an apologist going on to say that if the Vatican ever draws anything at variance with the American spirit and Constitution they will cut the cable and become simply the American Catholic Church. Seeing that Catholic means “universal” the thing is stupid. It is just a loud way of saying that, of course, Rome would never do anything of the kind. Their Church is essentially Roman: not in the sense that Peter founded it at Rome, which is false, or merely in the sense that Rome is the connecting link of the various bodies of its members in most countries of the world, but because Rome rules it as surely as the Boston clique, rules Christian Science everywhere.
If the American hierarchy were conceivably to defy the Pope they would have to repudiate a large part of their theology and the vast literature of sermons and articles on their superiority to other sects in that they possess a Holy Father, an international and infallible leader who is inspired above all other mortals to rule the world. All the talk about the grandeurs of the Vatican would have to be disowned, and it would have to be admitted that the billions of dollars sent to it were wasted on a bunch of hypocritical Italians. Even if it were pretended that the American Church remained part of the Catholic Church — it could not, as I said, be Catholic (universal) yet purely American — it would find itself repudiated with horror by every other branch of the Church, for schism is in Catholic theology as sinful as heresy. It would lose millions of adherents and its treasury would be terribly reduced.
You may therefore regard as sheer nonsense and quite insincere any talk of American apologists about defying the Pope. Every American bishop and most priests know that all such attempts — there was a notable attempt (Old Catholicism) in Germany after Pius IX bullied the bishops into declaring him infallible — has dismally failed and could not possibly succeed in our time. But few realize to what an extent the Italians control the Church and have a huge financial interest in maintaining this control.
Here let me, once for all, say a word about what some folk call “the good side” of Catholicism. I have met many of these ‘liberal’ writers and read most of them, and I find that they have one thing in common: they do not know the Church of Rome. Often they take up this attitude for social or political reasons, and they protect themselves in it by refusing to read critical works or full statements of facts like mine. They give their readers an impression of the Catholic period in European history, the Middle Ages, which is a confused and superficial jumble of lovely cathedrals and teeming universities, chivalrous knights and holy monks and is false to the extent of four-fifths. They will not read accounts of the real character of the time. Their idea of the Church today is an equally superficial maundering about venerable heads, sagacity of the age-old Vatican, deeply religious priests, and virtuous laity: which again is a mixture of one part of truth and four of lying. They are in large part responsible for that false idea of Rome which has enabled it to help the enemies of civilization during ten of the most fateful years in history. So let me say that, while I know much better than they how many decent Popes there were and what proportion of the bishops, priests, and monks are really and consistently religious — not more than one in ten — I am, as a conscientious writer with a social outlook, concerned only with the general features of the Church and think it a service to my fellows to tell them the truths which are usually from not very respectable motive’s which masquerade as liberalism, so generally and so scandalously suppressed.
One of these truths is that in one of its most important aspects the Church of Rome is an economic corporation, the Black International, for collecting and drafting hundreds of millions of dollars every year to Rome. I have described how, and on what grounds, the Popes are elected. Originally, and all through the Dark Ages, the Pope was elected, publicly and orally, by the priests and people of Rome. This led, as I said, to vicious fights when the See became rich, and the “cardinal” (or principal) clergy of Rome used this pretext to secure a monopoly of the election. The Popes had now crushed Roman democracy and deceived the people everywhere into submission to their semi- magical powers. It was a very profitable monopoly. The people were still allowed to loot the palace and treasury of the dead Pope but the cardinals from that date expected the man they elected to show his gratitude and in Renaissance days the shower of favors amounted to millions — and a candidate found it easier to bribe or persuade a handful of cardinal’s than a mob. In time the Catholic monarchs forced the Papacy to grant the red hat to one or more distinguished prelates in their own countries and the “sacred college of cardinals” became. international. But the Italians retained, and still retain, a monopoly of the power to elect a Pope.
There are supposed to be 70 cardinals. At present there are 55, and 29 of these are Italians. They always have an absolute majority; and this is easily secured because they elect, the Pope and he, in consultation with them, creates new cardinals as the old die off. Foreign cardinals fume and demand a larger representation in the “sacred college.” The United States has about 15,000,000 Catholics and only two cardinals. Italy has probably about 20,000,000 genuine Catholics and 29 cardinals. The Italians have the further advantage of being united and close neighbors while the foreign cardinals are scattered and often, like their nations, bitterly hostile to each other. There are, for instance, two American, two British (including the Canadian), three Vichy French, three Fascist Spanish, and three Nazis. Thus the Papal autocracy is a lucrative monopoly of the Italians.
It is part of the Catholic idea that is foisted upon the public by the press, radio, cinema, subsidized books, etc., that these “Princes of the Church,” as they are called, stand next to the Pope in austerity of character and superiority of intellect. After what I have said about recent Popes you will realize that they need not be on a very high level to deserve that description. But, as we saw, this virtue-and-wisdom idea is a bit of sheer propaganda. Vannutilli was the second most important cardinal in Rome — after the Secretary of State — and his children must have been proud of him. A Hungarian cardinal at one of the recent Conclaves refused to enter the concentration-camp because the food served was not good enough. Most of them are quite human; and as to intelligence, remember that Sarto (Pius X) and Della Chiesa (Benedict XV) became Popes. They are selected for all sorts of reasons, but in Italy mostly because they are sound on the Italian policy of monopolizing power and being always on the side of the big battalions.
Most of them are comfortable men who are not so much interested in power as in their bank-accounts, About half a century ago a book on the Roman system (Les Congregations romaines, 1890) was published by a Vatican official, a strict Catholic, F. Grimaldi, in which — and it is so accurate that it was put on the Index — the author said that any candidate for the cardinal’s hat had to have $5,000 for expenses, gifts, etc., and the cost would now be very much greater. But the prize is well worth it. In the last chapter of this book we will consider the very peculiar financial system, or lack of system, of the Vatican, but no one really knows what any high ecclesiastic gets. Pius XI declared in one of his speeches that the sum he got, after two or three years haggling, from Mussolini as the price of his silence was fixed by him as low as he could possibly make it because the Italians (who would have to produce it) were his children. It was more than $90,000,000, and each cardinal got his income doubled at once. Seldes says that it is now about $5,000 a year.
In Italy a tax-free income of $5,000 a year is equivalent to a $20,000 a year income in America, but it is far higher. The Italian cardinals are the Pope’s cabinet, and they get the plums in the way of special appointments, commissions, expenses, etc. We shall see that most of the work of the crowd of officials on the Vatican City is done through 13 departments of state (or Congregations) besides various tribunals and other fixtures. I will describe them in discussing finance. These Congregations, which grant dispensation’s, absolutions, solutions, etc., in the name of the Pope, are the main channels of the Vatican’s vast income, and it would be interesting to know how much of the stream of gold sticks to the fingers of the cardinals who preside over them. You need not take it literally when you read that some service rendered at the Vatican was “gratuitous.” Its officials could give lessons to the photographer who enlarges your photograph “for nothing” and then charge& “$5 or $10 for the frame. In the account of these Congregations in the Catholic Encyclopedia you read that a cardinal presides over each. In the much more reliable and semi-official annual Orbis Catholicus we are told that the number of cardinals at the head of each is “not generally less than ten or more than 35”; and do not imagine them rushing to the job from the breakfast-table of a morning. Millions of lire reach these Congregations, which are housed in a massive palace, every month from all parts of the Catholic world, though Italy itself is far from being the best customer.
But there are other sources of income. Here is one of which you will not read mention anywhere. In 1935 Sir Thomas More, Henry VIII’s favorite wit until they quarreled and “the author of more puns than all the rest of the saints put together, was “canonized.” The touching final ceremony was filmed, and you may have seen the serried ranks of the crimson-caped Italian cardinals who had gathered in the sanctuary to do honor to Britain. A London priest in close touch with the authorities told a friend of mine that each of these cardinals had demanded a fee of $100 (English money) for that single appearance. The whole business cost English Catholics, to the disgust of their leader’s, about $85,000 in all.
Such opportunities, or far more profitable ones, are common enough, and we may be sure that cardinals who, through the Pope, control an income of hundreds of millions of lire do not treat themselves shabbily. But no one outside the inner circle knows the facts. Writers on “the secrets of the Vatican” confess that the secret of revenue and expenditure is impenetrable. Something like 5,000 officials, monks, prelates, priests, impoverished nobles, and grafters dip into the stream of gold but each knows little more than his own business. The clerical officials of the Vatican publicity-bureau are as venal as any in the world but they do not know this secret.
That, then, is the central mechanism of the Italian Church for controlling and exploiting the Catholic world. It is a pretty system. The cardinals, reaching a deadlock in the fight of rival schools, elect a glorified peasant, a bookworm, or a simple- minded old prelate on whom they can rely for loyalty to the Italian policy. As the older cardinals die out they discuss with the Pope in their cabinet-meetings whom they will choose to fill the vacant places. Foreigners are little represented at these discussions and they would be in a hopeless minority if they happened to be in Rome so the Italians settle which of their archbishop’s can safely be admitted to the inner circle. Italy owns the Church. So it was in the days of Dante six centuries ago: so it is in our age of wireless and wonder-planes.
And the Italians are determined that so it shall remain. These American cardinals who come along with blustering instructions from the Knights of Columbus about finance are a pain in the neck to the Italians. They have to be humored, though they sometimes complain of meeting discourtesy at the Vatican, because they supply so very large a part of the Papal income, but their idea of applying in so sacred a world the profane maxim that taxation without adequate representation is tyranny is very unsound Catholicism. It is true that their Italian is too elementary to enable them to argue with the suave and foxy Roman cardinals, but they can now draw upon their colleges and churches in Rome.
The Italians, as I showed in the earlier books, have for 20 or 30 years met this democratic menace by extending the Church in lands in which, they think, the people have not been bitten by the bug of democracy. The British Catholic Teeling’s very temperate book, The Pope in Politics, takes its text from that truth. The Church must be extended eastward as rapidly as possible — hence, as I explained, the stupid wooing of Russia and Turkey, the chronic hostility to and readiness to injure Greece, and the general support of the Eastern policy of the Axis — and the so-called Latin nations, thoroughly purged of modern and democratic ideas by Petain, Franco, Salazar, and the South American dictators, are to form a grand Catholic Fascist League.
In all this the Vatican is not merely acting on a long out- dated psychology. If one point is more humorous than another in the conventional idea of the Vatican it is the claim that it has “a profound and penetrating knowledge of human nature.” The only psychology it knows is a medieval corruption of that of Aristotle which is about as valuable as a second-rate novelist’s psychology of woman. Scientific psychologists put it in the ash-can nearly a century ago. These Vatican officials who cherish the theory that orientals are “naturally submissive,” that Russians and Slavs. are “peaceful and docile” until they are confused by Bolshevik agitators, and that the Latin-American folk have much the same “nature,” proceed on a racial psychology that belongs to the last century. There is no “human nature,” much less a permanent type of national character, in modern psychology. There is only human behavior, and you do not need any science to tell you how rapidly, even in national masses, it can change. Russia, Germany, and Italy in their different ways have illustrated the truth so plainly in the last 20 years that one would have thought that even an Italian priest could see it. One suspects, in fact, that the Papal bureaucrats have their eye more on the knout in the hands of the leaders of these “submissive” peoples than on their “nature.” The Italian priests are not really on the mental level of Petain for simplicity.
But there is a second reason, not suspected by most writers on the subject. Why the Vatican looks to these new extensions of its power to counterbalance the detested democratic element which the Americans. are bringing into the Church. Catholic provinces in which there is not yet a fully constituted hierarchy are ruled directly from Rome. They are foreign missions and are under the Congregation of propaganda and its cardinals. It is an arrangement that is more profitable to the Vatican — it cuts out the middle-men so to say — and gives it a better chance to make the Italian influence felt. The Vatican is, therefore, in no hurry to establish new hierarchies. Even Briton remained under the Propaganda Congregation until well into the 19th century. No doubt, the new bodies of subjects of the Pope who are, it is thought, to be won from the Orthodox Churches in the East are to be kept as long as possible under Italian representatives of the Roman caucus.
When the Catholic body in any country becomes large and rich it presses for the establishment of a hierarchy of bishops under one or more archbishops (or “chief” bishops). The early Church had, in my opinion, bishops (“oversees” or superintendents) before it had priests, at least in Rome, the sacerdotal idea being developed late in the 2nd Century. However that may be, bishops and archbishops, the Right Reverend Fathers and Lordships, soon became indispensable elements of the clerical structure that Rome was fabricating. The Church has today about 1,000 bishops, more than a quarter of whom are in the golden land, Italy, and in one way or other share the financial sunshine. A moral history of them would be even more unsavory than that of the Popes and cardinals. The rich bishoprics and archbishoprics of the medieval Church, which were often little princedoms until the end of the feudal system, were obvious prizes for the younger sons and bastards of princes and nobles, and a remarkable procession of them crossed the stage of European history. Down to the year of the Revolution the great French prelates took not the least trouble to conceal their vices, and there was considerable freedom in Italy, Austria, Spain, Portugal, and South America. One must not refuse a measure of sympathy to these rich clerics who found their world rudely torn apart, their wines spilled and their mistresses scattered, by the new species of men know as “the Reds.”
With the growth of the deplorable “materialism of the 19th Century” and the increase of Protestant or skeptical travelers in Catholic countries the episcopal and archiepiscopal epicure’s were painfully compelled to part with the more graceful of the luxuries of their palaces, though the tactless zeal of the late Pope discovered scandals in Italy as recently as ten years ago. Today in every country where Fascism has not extinguished liberty the archbishop’s must devote themselves soberly to the supervising of a group of dioceses. They are the Gauleiter, the regional representatives of the Fuhrer, in the Nazi-Papal system, and their loyalty to the central caucus at Rome is easily secured today. Time after time in history a national hierarchy, rooted in the soil and intimately connected with the king and his interests, have defied Rome and threatened to cut the cable. Cardinal Richelieu seriously considered making the French Church independent of Rome, and in Germany and Austria the hierarchy have often defied, sometimes excommunicated, the Pope. In Italy bishops and archbishops have cut up his troops . . .
That, as I have explained, cannot happen in modern times. One of the differences between the course of sacred and that of profane history since the French Revolution, a difference that few historians care to notice, is that while secular monarchs have ceased to be absolute or autocratic the Popes became more and more absolute until, in the full 19th Century, the bishops granted that claim of infallibility which Popes had failed to win from the Church in earlier ages! But the Church is also more sensitive about scandal. The gay medieval spirit, when a man jovially told his neighbor that he “drank like a Pope” yet contributed generously to Rome, has departed from Catholicism. A page of medieval history which lingers in my memory tells how when a certain pope was threatened (for the thousandth time) a robust archbishop hastened to see him and assure him that his (the archbishop’s) five sons would fight for him. Gone are the snows of yesteryear. But the Vatican has various ways of securing the loyalty of the Gauleiter.
In the first place they are all appointed by Rome. Some of the sternest struggles with rulers that the Vatican has waged have been over this appointment of prelates. Rivers of blood flowed over it in medieval Italy, and only recently Franco and the Pope quarreled for a year about it. The Church never yields any country or ruler more than the right to submit the names of a few eligible men to the Vatican, which usually chooses one but may refuse all. The qualifications for the office are very varied. I remember that in my clerical days a British episcopal See fell vacant and I heard my senior cynically repeat that the essential qualification was to have a private income of $20,000 a year. The main qualification, are skill in collecting money and loyalty to the Italian system. The Vatican makes careful inquiry on these points and listens very seriously to suspicions of discontent. Fifty years ago I found it still a vivid tradition in higher Church circles in London that Cardinal Manning repeatedly and very truculently, on the occasion of his visits to Rome, denounced Cardinal Newman for disloyalty.
Every archbishop and bishop must pay a periodical visit to Rome and give the Secretary of State a close account of his work. He would find it difficult to conceal any rebellious sentiment from Italians whose scent of intrigue has been sharpened by decades of practice; and they have a most courteous way of making him feel that he is rather an inferior member of the Church. In addition to this, Apostolic Delegates, Apostolic Visitors, etc. — lucrative little jobs for the Italians — are sent occasionally to every province of the Church to make more searching inquiries. The Vatican has several classes of spies, from the Nuncios or formal ambassadors who settle in the capitals of various countries and cardinals who are sent abroad to preside at Congresses and other special functions to minor but much more inquisitive officials. Rebellious tendencies are toned down without any scandal, which is the bugbear of the higher clergy, the worst offense in the ecclesiastical code. Local prelates are advised when and how to interfere with priests who stand out from the common rut and attract public attention by political work. Some ask in America why Rome was not informed long ago about the campaign of Father Coughlin, as the bishops say that the Vatican alone could silence him. You may be sure that the Vatican knows almost as much about Coughlin as you do.
Here, again, is an instructive bit of experience. When I, already a priest and a monk, went to Louvain University to study philosophy and oriental languages I became fairly intimate with my professor, Mercier, then the leading authority on philosophy in the; Church and later known all over the world as Cardinal Mercier. I was compelled to live in the monastery, but Mercier invited me to live at his house, and I at least spent many hours there with him. Having been commended to him by a very liberal priest in London, I had his entire confidence and heard him use very disdainful language about such vital doctrines as eternal punishment. He was an advanced Modernist. Years later he became a cardinal and whew the ignorant Pope Pius X made his truculent attack on Modernism (or scholarship) in the Catholic Church I read in Catholic literature that Mercier warmly supported him. “Let there be no innovations,” he said, on the most approved Italian lines. And after his death I had to read (in Prati’s Popes and Cardinals of Modem Times, 1926) that he was “one of the noblest characters the world has ever seen.” Mercier had described me in a long review of one of my books as a fallen angel, an outcast.
Finally, here is an illustration from public life. American prelates and priests began in the last century to claim that their Church was distinctively American, and so it was useless to quote against it what Catholics were saying or doing in other parts of the world. The Vatican sent an Apostolic Delegate to study the matter and, as it had not yet realized the full financial potentialities of the New World, it took normal action. In a published letter to Cardinal Gibbons in 1899 the Pope sternly, in fact disdainfully, condemned what he called “Americanism”; by which he meant precisely that modification of the Roman teaching which apologists now put before the public as Catholic social and political ethic’s. Later Popes were more sensitive of American generosity, and the apologists are now permitted to say that these principles are not only sound American but sound Roman, because Jefferson a dogmatic Materialist and his blasphemers friend John Adams learned them from Catholic theologians!
Do I, in speaking of the Fuhrer and the Gauleiters of the Roman Church, suggest that it has some resemblance in structure to that most despised and most hated corporation, the Nazi Party? Certainly, a very close resemblance. It is an autocracy tempered with an informal council of consultants. Its center in Rome corresponds closely to the Nazi center in Berlin. Its regional rulers are representatives of the Fuhrer and subject to his control. Its aim is the same and the acquisition of power and money — and it clothes the aim in a profession of concern for civilization just as the Nazi leaders clothe theirs. It is just as convinced as they that the education of its subjects must be monopolistic and not suffer the voice of a critic to be heard. It realizes the hypnotic value of an incessantly repeated phrase like “God Bless our Pope” (Heil Hitler) and “the Holy Father” and an untroubled outpour of eulogies of “our Holy Faith.” And it has its Gestapo and other agents scattered over every country which it has conquered or hopes to conquer: quarter of a million priests, a vast army of monks and nuns, and an immense body of “technical experts” (journalists, teachers, writers, paid agents, organizers, etc.).
The cream of this vast international service consists of the body of priests and dignitaries (canons, monsignori, etc.) below the level of bishops: the Gestapo men. How they work, and how here again there is a close resemblance to Nazi methods — except that the priests use threats of hell instead of Dachau — we shall consider thoroughly in the next book, but we must have a short chapter on them here to complete our study of the structure of the Church.
How many there are in the world I do not find stated in any official or semi-official publication. One Catholic writer says 100,000, but there are more than that number in France, Germany, and the United States, which contain only one-fifth of the world’s total of Catholics. They are very unevenly distributed. France, which has less than 10,000,000 Catholics, and probably not more than 6,000,000, has 51,000 priests: Brazil, which claims 46,000,000 Catholics, has only 4,000. Eire has 5,000 and Holland 2,000 to the same number of people. If you have a scientific eye you will notice a relation between the number of priests and the amount of money extractable or the comfort of the priests’ life. Brazil is, taking it by and large, a land of paupers, whole vast areas of Indian-populated country being almost abandoned. France, though the number of its Catholics has been reduced to about one- fifth of the population since 1870, is a land of sleek priests. A witty French work describes a father who has paid for a clerical education for his son and has just seen him ordained saying to him: “Now settle down, my boy, and get fat.” Eire has much the same conditions. America feeds its 35,000 priests generously. Let us say that there seems to be, roundly, about quarter of a million priests serving the interests of the Italian caucus all over the world,
Each of these priests is, like the Gestapo men, a pocket edition of the head Dictator. Once a week he become’s an oracle, on any subject on which he chooses to orate, and even the best educated man in the church must not frown at the insipidity of his sermon or the absurdity of his statements. Periodically he preaches on the priesthood, and he sternly insists that Catholic’s must look to the character (in the ecclesiastical sense) not the person of a priest. He is miles removed from them because he can by a few words convert a bit of paste into the living body of Jesus and can forgive sins or drive out devils. He does not mind much if some of the richer members, with higher education, decline to take this literally provided they never breathe their heresy except to each other. He learns about them from their wives. He can enter any Catholic home he likes any afternoon and demand an answer to any question he likes. If there are no children or only one or two he must know if the smallness of the family is a work of nature or of art. If the children do not attend his school he peremptorily orders an immediate change. If a daughter goes out with a non-Catholic young man he breaks the friendship or exacts a secret promise that she will leave her husband no peace unless all the children become Catholics. If he sees a book written by a critic of the Church he puts it on the fire. He must know if the husband goes to church and confession regularly or ever attends anti-Catholic meetings; and he may suggest an intimate treatment for bringing him to heel. . . .
But we shall see all this in the next book. Where the priests differ from the Gestapo is in their infinite variety. In theory and in the opinion of many there is still an analogy. All the Gestapo men are sadists: all the priests are deeply religious, very wise or sagacious, and uniformly of a beautiful nature, like the priests of whom you read in Catholic novels or see in the films which the Church persuades Hollywood occasionally that it is worth while producing. In the flesh priests differ just like any other body of men. There are even total abstainers amongst them, though drink is the chief alleviation of their condition at which the Church connives. Catholics who live in parishes which are served by priests who belong to certain religious orders will tell you how it is impossible to persuade one of them to take a drink. They do not know that in order to edify the people, such priests are very sternly forbidden by their rulers to drink outside their monastery and in their own parish; but they may have their revenge when they get home. Other priests use their judgment. Visiting an Irish or otherwise jovial family that likes the “Father O’Flynn” type of priest they will drink or joke freely, yet carry a long face to the next house.
In short, the most drastic element of their training is to accommodate their external behavior to their environment. The non-Catholic who assures you that he has met priests in the homes of Catholic friends and that it is the sheerest nonsense to compare these frank, genial, so very human personalities to the sour and vicious Gestapo men is foolish. The priest is in such circumstances just as compelled to display a professional geniality and broadmindedness as the Gestapo man is bound by his office to be mean and overbearing. That priest, we shall see, believes in the right of “mental reservation” — saying one thing with your lips and another in your mind — is intolerant of other creeds to his marrow, and has a more despotic authority over his own people than the President of the United States.
Catholics themselves do not know the character of their priests. I have in my travels met many ex-priests and compared notes with them. There was a general agreement that the majority of priests are skeptical in some degree, often completely skeptical, but their people never suspect it. I lived from the age of five to fifteen under the shadow of a monastery. My childish impression of the priests, whom, as the star pupil of their school, I knew well, are, of course, worthless, but I knew what my elders thought of them. They were all believed to be well above the average in character. They induced me to join the fraternity, and ten years later I lived with them and really knew them. Not one was above the average in character, and several were far below it. One who had in my earlier years been regarded by all the Catholics of the district as particularly holy and ascetic, turned out to be an incurable dipsomaniac, an appalling liar, and woman-chaser and had, though this step is taken with extreme reluctance on account of the possibility of its becoming known, to be expelled from the brotherhood. Another I found to be quite well known to his colleagues as a seducer of girls. A third, a robust man of considerable talent, became half-insane through brooding over sex and the eccentric acts to which this led in his relation’s with women. A fourth, my immediate superior for years though I had not the least suspicion of his character and state of mind, bolted with all the money in the monastery and was traced to a low cabaret in Brussels. Nearly all drank generously and were of a poor type of character.
The newest approach to a generalization on “the morals of the priests” that I have been able to reach is that a small minority — hardly one in ten — has the type of character and the sincerity of religious feeling which are demanded by their vows and position and are attributed to them by the laity. The remainder vary as much as any other group of men, at least half of them, probably much more, being unfaithful to their vows, and just fitting as much comfort as they can into the dreary life to which they committed themselves when they were boys or youths. It matters little how many priests misconduct themselves with their servantq or lady-parishioners or make periodical trips in semi-disguise to the nearest city. The main point is that the overwhelming majority are not in the least “spiritual,” to use the favorite word of those who take transcendental views on these matters. “Holy” Orders are just part of the hypnotic phraseology, constantly repeated — like the excellence of soap or soup that stamps itself on the mind by lavish advertising — which the Church has found so useful. Holy Father, Holy Mother the Church, Holy Land, Holy Faith, and so on. Since, other Churches do not use this phraseology the Catholic gets a naive idea that his own Church is admitted to be unique and therefore not bound by the ordinary laws of honesty and mutual tolerance. It is unique only in its scheme of self-laudation.
The mediocrity of character of the vast majority of the priests is easily understood. They are mostly men who, if they did not wear costumes that are supposed to indicate a moral superiority to the rest of us and if they did not arrogate the right to a moral censorship of the lives, tastes, and entertainments of the whole community, not merely of Catholics, would pass as ordinary decent citizens. The system has in some respects distorted their character, and their official status makes them hypocritical. An Irishman, whom I know well and upon whose word I can entirely rely, told me that he and two others entered into conversation with a priest in a train in western Ireland. The conversation gradually warmed and in the end, as they approached a town, the priest invited them to join him in visiting a lady with two daughters in the town and promised very intimate entertainment. If that priest had been talking to an English traveler his language would have been very edifying. As a rule they need not practice much hypocrisy in Eire, Italy, Spain, etc. — I have even in Melbourne seen a young Irish priest in a hotel leave the bar and, with a wink at the barmaid, who followed him, go upstairs — and even in some American cities, such as Chicago and Boston, they have now such power as to ignore the fear of scandal. In Spain until a few years ago priests advertised in the papers for “companions,” and in South America they quite openly frequented brothel’s.
The situation is, as I said, intelligible. It is part of the Catholic myth that priests are men who in their youth felt a supernatural “vocation” to serve the altar; though in recent years I have seen clerical advertisements in Australian papers advising youths that the “vocation” will probably come after they have entered upon ecclesiastical studies. The wintry atmosphere of the modern world (from the Church angle) in such countries as America and Britain stunts the annual crop of vocations, and what usually happens is that parish priests or teachers mark out boys as suitable, and the great advantages and privilege’s of the priesthood — it is the same for monks and nuns — are impressed upon them. Having had the charge of such boys for years, in addition to my knowledge of my fellow-students, I am familiar with their psychology. Becoming priests means rising to a level of comfort and especially of social prestige which they would otherwise never attain. Possibly in later adolescence the unnaturalness of the celibate life will be felt by them but even if they are already irrevocably pledged, it is too late. A Catholic youth requires rare moral courage to go back to his home-district as one who drew back from “the call.” In any case the social prestige of the priestly order, the flattering attentions of a peculiarly large circle of girls and women, the chances of becoming a notable preacher or rising to a higher dignity, still beckon. Where the age-old experience of the Roman Church does tell is in devising effective systems of this kind.
Moral mediocrity is in most cases doubled with intellectual mediocrity. The boys attracted today are as a rule from the farming, the immigrant, or some similar class. Such bodies of priests as the Jesuits, who have higher colleges, are supposed to select their brightest pupils and carefully inspire them with a “vocation.” The utter mediocrity of Jesuit literature in modern times, especially when we reflect that they have more leisure than most priests, shows how false this is. The general level of intelligence of a class of ecclesiastical students is poor. And the system of education is calculated to restrain the development of the more intelligent. The year or two of preparatory study, mostly of Latin and Greek, leaves them with no idea of a real classical education. Not one priest in hundreds could read Tacitus or Martial in Latin, and still less keep up their very elementary knowledge of Greek. After that the years of study are stupefying. Two years, perhaps, are devoted to studying a system of philosophy which is beneath the contempt of philosophers (and quickly forgotten) and three or four to systems of moral and dogmatic theology and spiritual study on Fundamentalist lines. In the rare seminaries in which science or general history is taught it is ruthlessly emasculated. My professor of philosophy illustrated a point by alleging the mystery of the distance of the moon from the earth, and I contracted my first suspicion of rebelliousness by speaking out and telling him the distance.
The great majority forget even these acquirements as rapidly as the youth or girl forgets the lessons of the primary and the high school. They are abysmally ignorant from the viewpoint of modern culture. Their reading, when they read at all, is generally confined to articles in Catholic weeklies and monthlies and the cheaper Catholic literature. They protest that no book- learning is required for the discharge of their functions. Theoretically the Catholic youth who has felt doubt from conversation with non-Catholics or from indiscreet and forbidden reading is supposed to lay the matter before the priest in confessing his sins. In practice he looks for an apologetic work or consults the Catholic Encyclopedia. He might as well consult a professional politician, even on points of ecclesiastical history, as a priest. Few priests have even an elementary knowledge of science, philosophy, economics, literature, or art. The innumerable writers of the Church have, they say, relieved them of responsibility in this respect, and the daily round of their functions requires only a minimum of professional knowledge. This life is really mechanical: the daily celebration of Mass (which it would take you an hour to read and they run through in 25 minutes), recital of their office (which is gabbled, with lips only, at more than 200 words a minute and without any attention to the meaning), the pleasant visits to the brighter homes of parishioners in the afternoon, and the services or society-meetings after dinner. The priest of the Catholic novel, or of the novelist who aims to conciliate Catholics — the wise, placid, far-seeing priest who drops such pearls of wisdom — is a myth. Few priests could read an article in a scientific, philosophical, or economic journal. Mercier once lent me, when I was studying at Louvain, Paul Janet’s work Les causm finales. The friars, who regarded with deep suspicion mt intimacy with the future cardinal, reported me for reading works on necromancy or spiritualism or something of that kind. Mereier spoke about them to me exactly as I am speaking here.
These are the men who, like the Gestapo in Germany, and most of Europe, make the final application of the Italian system to the millions of the Pope’s subjects. They differ, naturally, in different countries. A priest in rural Brazil, Portugal, or Poland, who tells his people that practically all Britons and Americans, being Protestant, are damned or a priest in Eire who tells a young man, with a loud crack of the clerical whip, that he will not marry him or let any other priest marry him for less than $40, would not prosper in Boston, or San Francisco. But we shall see enough of this, and of the prudent adaptation of Catholic teaching in countries in which the Church is in a minority, in later books. It is enough here that this is the machinery by means of which a broad Papal policy, such as the libelling of Russia and Communism, is stamped upon the minds of millions. With the priests, as I said, cooperate vast crowds of monks, nuns, religious brothers, journalists, teachers, etc., but these general remarks will suffice for my present purpose.
It is more important to understand, as far as one can, the financial system of the Church of Rome. I have said that the analogy to the Nazi party is completed by an identity of aim: the protection or augmentation of the power and Wealth of the Black International. Naturally the primary and general aim is wealth. A certain number of the abler members of the clerical army have that peculiar itching of the mind, so morbidly developed in Hitler and Mussolini and the Japanese leaders, which is called the Lust for power, but I leave that to psycho-analysts and concentrate on the acquisition of wealth.
I have already met the charge that in presenting the Roman Church in this light, as an economic corporation that is primarily concerned to keep up and enlarge the numbers of its contributing members, I am ignoring nine-tenths of the life of the Church and fastening upon a purely formal and superficial resemblance to secular corporations. The man who, usually with an air of superiority, charges me with this, really confirms the analogy I have traced between the Roman Church and the Nazi party, for what he says for the Roman clergy is much the same as what we heard from the Nazi leaders a few years ago when the secret of their wealth was made public. Their primary aim, they said, indignantly, was not to acquire wealth either for themselves or the German people but to impress upon the world a new ideology which would inspire a greater civilization and, by conquest, ensure that the exceptionally gifted German race should have the power to protest it. Your amiable professor or literary man retorts that they were lying by the clock. But all he knows about the primary aim of the priests, prelates, and popes of the Roman Church comes, similarly, from themselves, and he knows nothing about their character except what they tell him. He refuses to read the Works in which I give hundreds of illustrations of their untruthfulness, insincerity, or duplicity in propaganda. He refuses to believe the assurance of men like myself who have lived intimately among them for years that their body is saturated with skepticism and very poor in what he calls spirituality.
Another type of critic asks me why I fasten on the Roman clergy when all clerical corporations are in the same position. But the reason ought to be clear. I have proved that the three bandit-nations had very grave encouragement and assistance from the Black International in preparing and launching upon the world their avalanche of brutal fury and greed. That sets Roman far apart from other Churches. You may heavily blame the Lutheran Church in Germany for supporting the Nazis or the Buddhist priests in Japan for helping the treacherous and callous leaders of their country, but the guilt of this is immeasurably less than the evil done by the world-wide and hypocritical action of the Black International.
There is a further difference. Numbers of Protestant ministers have told me not merely that they themselves reject Christian dogmas but that such rejection is very widespread in their body. They claim that for all that they are “doing good” and will remain in their Churches. But skepticism about the ideology which they preach is bound to be far more widespread in the Roman clergy, and the unnatural life to which the Church binds them gives it a more cynical tinge. What, in a word, is the essence of the Catholic claim to such superiority over other Churches that you must excuse their arrogance and intolerance? They have had to abandon the idea, which they still held a generation ago, that “outside the ark” (their Church) there was no possibility of salvation, but they insist that their Church, with its “real presence” of Christ in the consecrated wafer, its priests who can absolve from sin and its punishment, its “Holy Orders” and infallible Pope, makes it far easier and surer to attain salvation. From the viewpoint of the modern educated man or woman, Theist or Atheist, that is a crass and childish superstition. It belongs essentially to the Middle Ages and easily breaks down even in the mind of priests who read nothing more stimulating to the intelligence than Catholic weeklies and detective novels.
Professional men are, from the economist’s angle, men who sell services to the community just as others sell commodities. Priests sell their services in this sense. They are an economic corporation like lawyers or doctors. But there is the mighty difference that, while all the world acknowledges the value of other professional services, at least four-fifths of the educated world regards with disdain those services which the Catholic Church claims to be peculiar to itself. The readiness of so many to say that we must look to their moral and social service is due either to lack of will or of leisure to make an exact study of such services, in which case the scientific ideal should compel them to be silent, or to even less respectable motives. I have shown repeatedly in detailed an of every aspect of social conduct — and later books of this series will consider some — that the Church renders no such service to civilization; and the preceding ten books have shown that its disservice immensely outweighs any such service that it could plausibly claim. It sells to 200,000,000 folk services that are in the conviction of the modern world as fraudulent as those of any charlatan, and the price it gets for its services will astonish the reader. We ought here to take into account the funded wealth as well as the annual income of the Black International or — since the laity have no share whatever in the wealth — of the clergy, higher and lower, in every country as well as in Rome. A large work would be required to cover that field, and we must here restrict ourselves to the income of the Vatican or the Pope and his Italian satellites and servants. The reader should, however, not forget that this Roman annual income is only a tithe of what the 200,000,000 Catholics pay for the services of their clergy. The Church in the United States is computed to have a wealth of $4,000,000,000 and an income, of at least $800,000,000, a large part of which is annually invested and adds to the mountain of wealth. The Church in Germany, or (mainly) in those provinces of Germany which did not leave the Church at the Reformation, was equally wealthy until the Nazis began to take over schools and institutions. The Church in Spain is estimated to have had until recent years more than two-thirds of all the money and one-third of all the real estate in the country. This is an estimate by a Catholic Spanish bishop. Another Catholic writer illustrated its wealth by saying that $7,500,000 worth of candles and incense were burned in Spanish churches every year, and that the jewels on one statue of the Virgin at Toledo were worth $100,000. American writers computed that before the Philippines were taken over the Church squeezed 113,000,000 pesetas a year out of the poor people.
Here, however, I have space only to give some idea of the income of the Papacy, which more closely concerns us. Every writer who touches on the subject observes that the total and the details are kept a strict secret by the Vatican officials. Pius XI is admired because he introduced expert accountants into the Vatican. As I said, the attitude to finance was to that time so slovenly and the graft so general that although in recent decades the income has been hundreds of millions of dollars a year the treasury was empty at the death of Pius X and almost empty at the death of Benedict XV. Admiration is hardly the sentiment with which in such circumstances we regard the action of Pius XI, but whatever improvement there has been the secrecy is still strictly maintained. It is, in fact, very doubtful if the Vatican draws up, even for the information of the Pope and the Secretary of State alone, a balance-sheet which shows the total annual income.
In an earlier booklet I said that G. Seldes (The Vatican), who has an interesting chapter on Vatican finance, puts the total at a billion dollars. His book is so favorable to Catholicism and won such recommendation from American Catholics that I concluded, until I read his more recent and more critical work, The Catholic Crisis, that he was probably a member of the Church and therefore not likely to exaggerate its income. Almost the only thing which the Black International and its admirers do not exaggerate is the revenue of the Church. But hiving had occasion to consult my notes again I found that I misquoted Seldes. He did not say a billion dollars but a billion lire (and a lire at par is little over one-fifth of a dollar).
I ought therefore for once to apologize for an inaccuracy but there are circumstances which dispense me. Seldes stated on the age of his work that the “historical section” of it is based a work by two French Catholics, London and Pichon, Le Vatican et le monde moderne. But his book is a translation not merely of the historical part but of the whole of the French work, though with very large and useful additions. The paragraph from which I quoted is a literal translation from the French — but with an alteration of four letters which makes a mountainous difference. London and Pichon do not say that the total annual income of the Vatican must be “a billion lire” but “billions of lire.” When you are thinking in billions it really makes a material difference whether you say “one” or “several.” The common-sense interpretation of the expression used by the French Catholic experts is that annual income of the Vatican (several billion lire) must be between half a billion and a billion dollars.
On one other point in this connection I should warn the reader that Seldes’s book, valuable as it is, is misleading. He enlarges on the severe loss to the Papal treasury (which he exaggerates) when Italy took from it the Papal State’s or the Pope’s kingdom in Central Italy. It is not very clear how they yielded something between five and ten million dollars a year to the Pope when they were miserably poor, administered (by priests) with gross inefficiency and graft, and loaded with debt. However the point is that the loans were loans to the Papal Court, raised from extortionate bankers not for expenditure on the provinces but on the Court; and the Italian government, though by 50 to 1 the inhabitants voted for removal from the Pope’s rule, and conquerors are scarcely in the habit of giving compensation even for provinces taken against the will of the inhabitants, at once offered the Pope the compensation of 3,250,000 lire a year. Seldes does not clearly explain this but quotes (p. 247) the rather dishonest and certainly stupid complaint of Cardinal Vaughan: “The robber’s refused to take over the burdens with the stolen provinces.” The provinces eagerly joined the new kingdom of Italy: the debts were on the security of the provinces but not for, use in them: and the robbers offered such compensation or price for the provinces that the accumulated interest in 1929, which was handed over to the Papacy, amounted to more than $90,000,000!
This vast sum, which was really the price of the Pope’s silence when Mussolini thought fit to begin his brutal aggressions, ought to be today one of the chief sources of the Vatican’s income. Nearly half of it was given in bonds of the Italian, State, and though the Italians themselves lose a colossal sum by their loans to the practically bankrupt state, one suspects that Mussolini finds it prudent to pay the Pope’s share of the interest. It certainly gives the Papacy a very acute interest in the maintenance of Fascism, for if Socialists obtained power they would assuredly repudiate the dishonorable bargain. The remainder of the bribe was paid in cash. Part of it is still in bullion in the Vatican treasury, and a very large part was invested by the Papacy in French and Hungarian railways: which gave the Papacy a stake in the stability of those countries or a lively concern to see them paralyze Socialism and Communism. I have been informed from America that the Papacy gets its agents to invest the greater part in the richer interest-bearing enterprises of the States — the depression was not yet in sight — and that it was buried under the snow-storm of the fall of that year (1929). I offer no guarantee whatever of the soundness of this statement.
Since we know nothing about those new account-books of the Vatican we can see only that this sum ought to yield at least $5,000,000 a year and of itself makes the Pope a multi- millionaire. But the Vatican, which is not subject to common human laws, can have its cake and eat it too. As soon as the first of the Papal provinces were taken from it by the Italian armies and the emphatic. provinces vote of the inhabitants the Pope sent out an agonizing call to the whole Catholic world. Catholics must save him from beggary — you may remember that it was at this time that Cardinal Antonelli, born in a peasant’s hut, amassed a fortune of $20,000,000 — by contributing to an annual collection called Peter’s Pence. In the Middle Ages this had meant a fixe Papal tax of a penny (then a quite respectable coin) on every Catholic hearth in the world, but it was now a voluntary collection to which rich and poor contributed according to their means. Within a few years it was yielding $4,000,000 a year. The latest figures I find are that it was yielding about $5,000,000 before the depression of 1929 began, and Catholics boast that, whoever starved in the new era, the present to the Papacy was maintained.
The main source of income is, however, the price of the administrative work of the Vatican, just as the payment for the services of the cardinals, priests, and officials employed in it is the chief item of expenditure. The work is, as I said, divided between 13 Congregations, which correspond to Departments of State in a secular government, and few people have an idea of its volume. In any large and international business it is a fixed principle that the supreme or control office shall not be bothered with queries and solutions of difficulties that are within the competence of branch officials. In the Roman Church it is rather the reverse. All over the world bishops and priests have to encourage appeals to Rome, even on such matters as whether Mrs. Smith in some small town in America may send her children in exceptional circumstances to a National School and whether her daughter may marry a second or third cousin or a Protestant. Marriage, in fact, which the Church professes to have raised to the rank of a sacrament in the interest of civilization, is one of the most lucrative interests of the Black International. It is hedged about with restrictions from which a dispensation must be obtained from Rome. The Catholic must not marry one who is related to him or her, either by blood or marriage within the fourth degree. A dispensation is needed to marry a non-Catholic, and disputes arise about the validity of the marriage as its consummation which may lead to causes celebres, costing thousands of dollars, at the Roman Tribunals. The amazing procedure in this connection will have to be considered at length in a later book, but the non-Catholic who imagines that matrimony is a simple matter in the Roman Church — that the priest links you to a man or woman you remain linked for life — is very far astray. And this is only one source of the petitions and cases that are submitted daily to the “Sacred Congregationi” of Cardinals it Rome.
A conservative detailed account of their work will be found in the Catholic Encyclopedia, and it is hardly necessary to warn the reader that when a service is described as gratuitous you understand the word as certain eminent amateurs of sport or aristocratic dames who give their names to charities understand it. There are always “expenses.” When Count Marconi got a declaration of the nullity of his marriage (which was blessed by the Holy Ghost with several children) to Miss O’Brien (19 years earlier) so that he could marry a Catholic countess and merely paid “the expenses” one wonders whether they happened to be less than $50,000. I have spoken of the canonization of Sir Thomas More when the British Catholics were presented with a bill for expenses (including a massive gold chalice as souvenir for the Pope) amounting to $85,000. Such plums are rare, but the great volume of ordinary work and consultation by priests all over the world carries with it a very large total sum of money.
There is no need here to list the Congregations and analyze their work. First of them is the Holy Office, once the dreaded Inquisition and now a very tame bureau of sleek priests for granting, for a consideration, certain classes of matrimonial dispensations. The second, the Congregation of the Consistory, primarily has to organize the Papal election (Consistory) but this would give the cardinals — and official’s too meager a share of the Papal income, and they now arrange the formation of new dioceses and the difficulties of bishop’s in their dioceses, receive reports of the titled spies whom the Vatican sends about the world, grant (sell) ecclesiastical distinctions, etc. The Congregation of the Sacraments has a very busy time hearing doubts and disputes about the administration of the seven sacraments, especially (except in regard to mixed marriages) matrimony, all over the world. A bishop cannot allow priests to say Mass outside the prescribed hours or places or make other alterations of the ritual without its permission. The Congregation of the Council takes over the innumerable questions that are grouped under “discipline,” both of the secular clergy and the laity; granting, dispensations from or modifications of the law of fasting and abstinence, hearing cases of irregularities, and so on; while the next Congregation on the list discharges this enormous task in regard to monks and nuns. — The Congregation of Propaganda takes care of all missionary fields and administers all Catholic provinces where there is not yet a hierarchy (which it is in no hurry to establish) and the Congregation of the Index helps out its shrinking income by now attending to questions of liturgy and canonization. These are only half the departments, and behind them are three Tribunals (or lucrative courts of appeal for the wealthy) and various “Offices,” but what I have said will suffice to give some idea of the immense volume of work. All experts agree that these furnish the largest element of the Papal income.
Probably the next largest element consists of gifts to the Pope or St. Peters. A Catholic — if I ever have such a reader — would wince when I rather flippantly described on an earlier page the usual tariff for the privilege of “seeing the Pope,” but, except that non-Catholics of distinction are at times admitted to interviews without fee for political reasons, this is the recognized practice. Seldes gives a dollar each as the contribution of the poorer American pilgrims who stand in a bunch, open-mouthed, at some distance from the Pope. All are “expected” to pay, and as pilgrims from France, Spain, Italy, etc., in the summer often run to 1,000 or 2,000 the total sum is large — what rich American and British Catholics who “talk” to the Pope pay one must imagine. In one year, Seldes says, the Knights of Columbus gave the Pope $250,000, and in 1925 the Pope received, at the prescribed financial distances, 1,250,000 Catholic pilgrims.
Another source of income that is not generally known is from certain Papal Domains and royalty rights. The Vatican takes a large (unknown) percentage of the immense profits of the fraudulent shrine of the Virgin at Lourdes, and of the still more grossly fraudulent shrine at Loreto in Italy, where Catholics still pay vast sums to see the actual house, transported to Italy by angels, in which Mary lived at Nazareth 1900 years ago. Until a few years ago it had a similar royalty right on the enormous sale of indulgences in Spain and Spanish America, and no small part of its sacred fury against the Reds is due to the fact that the Socialists and Rationalists drove this traffic off the market. Whether Franco has restored it I cannot ascertain. It used to yield millions of pesetas yearly.
The sale of titles is another rich source of revenue. It would, I suppose, be libel to suggest that the hundreds or so wealthy Catholics who bear Papal titles (countess, marquis, Marchioness, knight, etc.) in democratic America paid cash for them, but on the general question the French and Italian Catholic writers are candid. Jean de Bonnfon has published a piquant work (La menagerie du Vatican, 1906) in which he gives biographical details of the 300 French men and women — the large-minded Vatican grants a (rich) woman a title in her own right — in France who hold these titles. From a Roman source he quotes that the (pre-war) tariff was 100,000 lire for the rank of duke, 25,000 for a count, 12,000 for a baron, and so on.
These are only a few of the more regular and familiar sources of revenue. Seldes gives a further illustration for which I must acknowledge my indebtedness to him. Mussolini’s bargain with the Pope in 1929 included the right of the Vatican to have its own postage stamps, and the Director of the Papal Posts made a profit on them of $5,000,000 in a few months; and he had thoughtfully put a date on them so that a new issue was required. Seldes observed that collectors and dealers bought them up everywhere. He, does not seem to know that the faithful were encouraged to buy them all over the world as souvenirs of the restoration of the Papacy to royal power.
But there are other vast and steady sources of income of which Seldes knows nothing. Under their shirts or chemises (or whatever it is that women wear next to the skin) most Catholics wear, and all are urged to wear, holy medals, scapulars, Agnus Deis, or other charms (against the devil, accident, disease, etc.) which have been “blessed by the Pope.” All that the Pope has done, of course, was to wag his fingers at a room-full of them, but the simple-minded Catholic is content. This traffic is enormous. Less in volume but on a much higher scale, is the trade in relics. Every new altar that is consecrated must (on Vatican orders) contain a relic of a saint, and the Vatican has to supply it. Naturally it charges only for the metal case and the voucher of authenticity, but you would be surprised at the price of metal and parchment in Rome. They are just as spurious as they were in the Middle Ages. “In fact, the Vatican. manufactures relics today. In my clerical days I found a Jesuit selling to pious ladies in London in a house-to-house visitation bits of the cassock of a canonized priest (whose biographer boasted that one ragged cassock had sufficed him all his life). When I pointed out the fraud he laughingly explained that a bale of cloth had touched the genuine relics. Then the Vatican has its share in the price of Masses. Quarter of a million are said daily and some Catholic pays for each. In America the minimum tariff is a dollar, and the rich give large sums. Rich churches with too many commissions farm them out to countries with a cheaper tariff. And from all presbyters that have a little spare fat, all nunneries and monasteries, the surplus goes, through the bishops, to Rome..
Do you begin to see why I call the Black International an economic corporation aiming at wealth and power? Why it hates Russia and Atheism? Why it forms alliances with any criminals who promise to destroy Socialism? Why, in short, it played the part I have described in the monstrous world-plot against humanity and civilization?