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Robert Ingersoll Letters Rome Or Reason 2

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Rome Or Reason 2

Robert Green Ingersoll

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Superstition "has ears more deaf than adders to
the voice of any true reason."

CARDINAL MANNING has stated the claims of the Roman Catholic
Church with great clearness, and apparently without reserve. The
age, position and learning of this man give a certain weight to his
words, apart from their worth. He represents the oldest of the
Christian churches. The questions involved are among the most
important that can engage the human mind. No one having the
slightest regard for that superb thing known as intellectual
honesty, will avoid the issues tendered, or seek in any way to gain
a victory over truth.

Without candor, discussion, in the highest sense, is
impossible. All have the same interest, whether they know it or
not, in the establishment of facts. All have the same to gain, the
same to lose. He loads the dice against himself who scores a point
against the right.

Absolute honesty is to the intellectual perception what light
is to the eyes. Prejudice and passion cloud the mind. In each
disputant should be blended the advocate and judge.

In this spirit, having in view only the ascertainment of the
truth, let us examine the arguments, or rather the statements and
conclusions, of Cardinal Manning.

The proposition is that "The church itself by its marvelous
propagation, its eminent sanctity, its inexhaustible fruitfulness
in all good things, its catholic unity and invincible stability, is
a vast and perpetual motive of credibility, and an irrefragable
witness of its own divine legation."

The reasons given as supporting this proposition are: That the
Catholic Church interpenetrates all the nations of the civilized
world; that it is extranational and independent in a supernational
unity; that it is the same in every place; that it speaks all

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languages in the civilized world; that it is obedient to one head;
that as many as seven hundred bishops have knelt before the pope;
that pilgrims from all nations have brought gifts to Rome, and that
all these things set forth in the most self-evident way the unity
and universality of the Roman Church.

It is also asserted that "men see the Head of the Church year
by year speaking to the nations of the world, treating with
Empires, Republics and Governments;" that "there is no other man on
earth that can so bear himself," and that "neither from Canterbury
nor from Constantinople can such a voice go forth to which rulers
and people listen."

It is also claimed that the Catholic Church has enlightened
and purified the world; that it has given us the peace and purity
of domestic life; that it has destroyed idolatry and demonology;
that it gave us a body of law from a higher source than man; that
it has produced the civilization of Christendom; that the popes
were the greatest of statesmen and rulers; that celibacy is better
than marriage, and that the revolutions and reformations of the
last three hundred years have been destructive and calamitous.

We will examine these assertions as well as some others.

No one will dispute that the Catholic Church is the best
witness of its own existence, The same is true of every thing that
exists -- of every church, great and small, of every man, and of
every insect.

But it is contended that the marvelous growth or propagation
of the church is evidence of its divine origin. Can it be said that
success is supernatural? All success in this world is relative.
Majorities are not necessarily right. If anything is known -- if
anything can be known -- we are sure that very large bodies of men
have frequently been wrong. We believe in what is called the
progress of mankind. Progress, for the most part, consists in
finding new truths and getting rid of old errors -- that is to say,
getting nearer and nearer in harmony with the facts of nature,
seeing with greater clearness the conditions of well-being.

There is no nation in which a majority leads the way. In the
progress of mankind, the few have been the nearest right. There
have been centuries in which the light seemed to emanate only from
a handful of men, while the rest of the world was enveloped in
darkness. Some great man leads the way -- he becomes the morning
star, the prophet of a coming day. Afterward, many millions accept
his views. But there are still heights above and beyond; there are
other pioneers, and the old day, in comparison with the new,
becomes a night. So, we cannot say that success demonstrates either
divine origin or supernatural aid.

We know, if we know anything, that wisdom has often been
trampled beneath the feet of the multitude. We know that the torch
of science has been blown out by the breath of the hydra-headed. We
know that the whole intellectual heaven has been darkened again and
again. The truth or falsity of a proposition cannot be determined
by ascertaining the number of those who assert, or of those who

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If the marvelous propagation of the Catholic Church proves its
divine origin, what shall we say of the marvelous propagation of

Nothing can be clearer than that Christianity arose out of the
ruins of the Roman Empire -- that is to say, the ruins of Paganism.
And it is equally clear that Mohammedanism arose out of the wreck
and ruin of Catholicism.

After Mohammed came upon the stage, "Christianity was forever
expelled from its most glorious seats -- from Palestine, the scene
of its most sacred recollections; from Asia Minor, that of its
first churches; from Egypt, whence issued the great doctrine of
Trinitarian Orthodoxy, and from Carthage, who imposed her belief on
Europe." Before that time "the ecclesiastical chiefs of Rome, of
Constantinople, and of Alexandria were engaged in a desperate
struggle for supremacy, carrying out their purposes by weapons and
in ways revolting to the conscience of man. Bishops were concerned
in assassinations, poisonings, adulteries, blindings, riots,
treasons, civil war. Patriarchs and primates were excommunicating
and anathematizing one another in their rivalries for earthly power
-- bribing eunuchs with gold and courtesans and royal females with
concessions of episcopal love. Among legions of monks who carried
terror into the imperial armies and riot into the great cities
arose hideous clamors for theological dogmas, but never a voice for
intellectual liberty or the outraged rights of man.

Under these circumstances, amid these atrocities and crimes,
Mohammed arose, and raised his own nation from Fetichism, the
adoration of the meteoric stone, and from the basest idol worship,
and inevocably wrenched from Christianity more than half -- and
that by far the best half -- of her possessions, since it included
the Holy Land, the birth-place of the Christian faith, and Africa,
which had imparted to it its Latin form; and now, after a lapse of
more than a thousand years that continent, and a very large part of
Asia, remain permanently attached to the Arabian doctrine."

It may be interesting in this connection to say that the
Mohammedan now proves the divine mission of his apostle by
appealing to the marvelous propagation of the faith. If the
argument is good in the mouth of a Catholic, is it not good in the
mouth of a Moslem? Let us see if it is not better.

According to Cardinal Manning, the Catholic Church triumphed
only over the institutions of men -- triumphed only over religions
that had been established by men, -- by wicked and ignorant men.
But Mohammed triumphed not only over the religions of men, but over
the religion of God. This ignorant driver of camels, this poor,
unknown, unlettered boy, unassisted by God, unenlightened by
supernatural means, drove the armies of the true cross before him
as the winter's storm drives withered leaves. At his name, priests,
bishops, and cardinals fled with white faces -- popes trembled, and
the armies of God, fighting for the true faith, were conquered on
a thousand fields.

If the success of a church proves its divinity, and after that
another church arises and defeats the first, what does that prove?

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Let us put this question in a milder form: Suppose the second
church lives and flourishes in spite of the first, what does that

As a matter of fact, however, no church rises with everything
against it. Something is favorable to it, or it could not exist. If
it succeeds and grows, it is absolutely certain that the conditions
are favorable. If it spreads rapidly, it simply shows that the
conditions are exceedingly favorable, and that the forces in
opposition are weak and easily overcome.

Here, in my own country, within a few years, has arisen a new
religion. Its foundations were laid in an intelligent community,
having had the advantages of what is known as modern civilization.
Yet this new faith -- founded on the grossest absurdities, as gross
as we find in the Scriptures -- in spite of all opposition began to
grow, and kept growing. It was subjected to persecution, and the
persecution increased its strength. It was driven from State to
State by the believers in universal love, until it left what was
called civilization, crossed the wide plains, and took up its abode
on the shores of the Great Salt Lake. It continued to grow. Its
founder, as he declared, had frequent conversations with God, and
received directions from that source. Hundreds of miracles were
performed -- multitudes upon the desert were miraculously fed --
the sick were cured -- the dead were raised, and the Mormon Church
continued to grow, until now, less than half a century after the
death of its founder, there are several hundred thousand believers
in the new faith.

Do you think that men enough could join this church to prove
the truth of its creed?

Joseph Smith said that he found certain golden plates that had
been buried for many generations, and upon these plates, in some
unknown language, had been engraved this new revelation, and I
think he insisted that by the use of miraculous mirrors this
language was translated. If there should be Mormon bishops in all
the countries of the world, eighteen hundred years from now, do you
think a cardinal of that faith could prove the truth of the golden
plates simply by the fact that the faith had spread and that seven
hundred bishops had knelt before the head of that church?

It seems to me that a "supernatural" religion -- that is to
say, a religion that is claimed to have been divinely founded and
to be authenticated by miracles, is much easier to establish among
an ignorant people than any other -- and the more ignorant the
people, the easier such a religion could be established. The reason
for this is plain. All ignorant tribes, all savage men, believe in
the miraculous, in the supernatural. The conception of uniformity,
of what may be called the eternal consistency of nature, is an idea
far above their comprehension. They are forced to think in
accordance with their minds, and as a consequence they account for
all phenomena by the acts of superior beings -- that is to say, by
the supernatural. In other words, that religion having most in
common with the savage, having most that was satisfactory to his
mind, or to his lack of mind, would stand the best chance of

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It is probably safe to say that at one time, or during one
phase of the development of man, everything was miraculous. After
a time, the mind slowly developing, certain phenomena, always
happening under like conditions, were called "natural," and none
suspected any special interference. The domain of the miraculous
grew less and less -- the domain of the natural larger; that is to
say, the common became the natural, but the uncommon was still
regarded as the miraculous. The rising and setting of the sun
ceased to excite the wonder of mankind -- there was no miracle
about that; but an eclipse of the sun was miraculous. Men did not
then know that eclipses are periodical, that they happen with the
same certainty that the sun rises. It took many observations
through many generations to arrive at this conclusion. Ordinary
rains became "natural," floods remained "miraculous."

But it can all be summed up in this: The average man regards
the common as natural, the uncommon as supernatural. The educated
man -- and by that I mean the developed man -- is satisfied that
all phenomena are natural, and that the supernatural does not and
can not exist.

As a rule, an individual is egotistic in the proportion that
he lacks intelligence. The same is true of nations and races, The
barbarian is egotistic enough to suppose that an Infinite Being is
constantly doing something, or failing to do something, on his
account. But as man rises in the scale of civilization, as he
becomes really great, he comes to the conclusion that nothing in
Nature happens on his account -- that he is hardly great enough to
disturb the motions of the planets.

Let us make an application of this: To me, the success of
Mormonism is no evidence of its truth, because it has succeeded
only with the superstitious. It has been recruited from communities
brutalized by other forms of superstition. To me, the success of
Mohammed does not tend to show that he was right -- for the reason
that he triumphed only over the ignorant, over the superstitious.
The same is true of the Catholic Church. Its seeds were planted in
darkness. It was accepted by the credulous, by men incapable of
reasoning upon such questions. It did not, it has not, it can not
triumph over the intellectual world. To count its many millions
does not tend to prove the truth of its creed. On the contrary, a
creed that delights the credulous gives evidence against itself.

Questions of fact or philosophy cannot be settled simply by
numbers. There was a time when the Copernican system of astronomy
had but few supporters -- the multitude being on the other side.
There was a time when the rotation of the earth was not believed by
the majority.

Let us press this idea further. There was a time when
Christianity was not in the majority, anywhere. Let us suppose that
the first Christian missionary had met a prelate of the Pagan
faith, and suppose this prelate had used against the Christian
missionary the Cardinal's argument -- how could the missionary have
answered if the Cardinal's argument is good?

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But, after all, is the success of the Catholic Church a
marvel? If this church is of divine origin, if it has been under
the especial care, protection and guidance of an Infinite Being, is
not its failure far more wonderful than its success? For eighteen
centuries it has persecuted and preached, and the salvation of the
world is still remote. This is the result, and it may be asked
whether it is worth while to try to convert the world to

Are Catholics better than Protestants? Are they nearer honest,
nearer just, more charitable? Are Catholic nations better than
Protestant? Do the Catholic nations move in the van of progress?
Within their jurisdiction are life, liberty and property safer than
anywhere else? Is Spain the first nation of the world?

Let me ask another question: Are Catholics or Protestants
better than Freethinkers? Has the Catholic Church produced a
greater man than Humboldt? Has the Protestant produced a greater
than Darwin? Was not Emerson, so far as purity of life is
concerned, the equal of any true believer? Was Pius IX., or any
other vicar of Christ, superior to Abraham Lincoln?

But it is claimed that the Catholic Church is universal, and
that its universality demonstrates its divine origin.

According to the Bible, the apostles were ordered to go into
all the world and preach the gospel -- yet not one of them, nor one
of their converts at any time, nor one of the vicars of God, for
fifteen hundred years afterward, knew of the existence of the
Western Hemisphere. During all that time, can it be said that the
Catholic Church was universal? At the close of the fifteenth
century, there was one-half of the world in which the Catholic
faith had never been preached, and in the other half not one person
in ten had ever heard of it, and of those who had heard of it, not
one in ten believed it. Certainly the Catholic Church was not then

Is it universal now? What impression has Catholicism upon the
many millions of China, of Japan, of India, of Africa? Can it
truthfully be said that the Catholic Church is now universal? When
any church becomes universal, it will be the only church. There
cannot be two universal churches, neither can there be one
universal church and any other.

The Cardinal next tries to prove that the Catholic Church is
divine, "by its eminent sanctity and its inexhaustible fruitfulness
in all good things."

And here let me admit that there are many millions of good
Catholics -- that is, of good men and women who are Catholics. It
is unnecessary to charge universal dishonesty or hypocrisy, for the
reason that this would be only a kind of personality. Many
thousands of heroes have died in defence of the faith, and millions
of Catholics have killed and been killed for the sake of their
religion. And here it may be well enough to say that martyrdom does
not even tend to prove the truth of a religion. The man who dies in
flames, standing by what he believes to be true, establishes, not
the truth of what he believes, but his sincerity.

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Without calling in question the intentions of the Catholic
Church, we can ascertain whether it has been "inexhaustibly
fruitful in all good things," and whether it has been "eminent for
its sanctity."

In the first place, nothing can be better than goodness,
Nothing is more sacred, or can be more sacred, than the well-being
of man. All things that tend to increase or preserve the happiness
of the human race are good -- that is to say, they are sacred. All
things that tend to the destruction of man's well-being, that tend
to his unhappiness, are bad, no matter by whom they are taught or

It is perfectly certain that the Catholic Church has taught,
and still teaches, that intellectual liberty is dangerous -- that
it should not be allowed. It was driven to take this position
because it had taken another. It taught, and still teaches, that a
certain belief is necessary to salvation. It has always known that
investigation and inquiry led, or might lead, to doubt; that doubt
leads, or may lead, to heresy, and that heresy leads to hell. In
other words, the Catholic Church has something more important than
this world, more important than the well-being of man here. It
regards this life as an opportunity for joining that church, for
accepting that creed, and for the saving of your soul.

If the Catholic Church is right in its premises, it is right
in its conclusion. If it is necessary to believe the Catholic creed
in order to obtain eternal joy, then, of course, nothing else in
this world is, comparatively speaking, of the slightest importance.
Consequently, the Catholic Church has been, and still is, the enemy
of intellectual freedom, of investigation, of inquiry -- in other
words, the enemy of progress in secular things.

The result of this was an effort to compel all men to accept
the belief necessary to salvation. This effort naturally divided
itself into persuasion and persecution.

It will be admitted that the good man is kind, merciful,
charitable, forgiving and just. A church must be judged by the same
standard. Has the church been merciful? Has it been "fruitful in
the good things" of justice, charity and forgiveness? Can a good
man, believing a good doctrine, persecute for opinion's sake? If
the church imprisons a man for the expression of an honest opinion,
is it not certain, either that the doctrine of the church is wrong,
or that the church is bad? Both cannot be good. "Sanctity" without
goodness is impossible. Thousands of "saints" have been the most
malicious of the human race. If the history of the world proves
anything, it proves that the Catholic Church was for many centuries
the most merciless institution that ever existed among men, I
cannot believe that the instruments of persecution were made and
used by the eminently good; neither can I believe that honest
people were imprisoned, tortured, and burned at the stake by a
church that was "inexhaustibly fruitful in all good things."

And let me say here that I have no Protestant prejudices
against Catholicism, and have no Catholic prejudices against
Protestantism, I regard all religions either without prejudice or

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with the same prejudice. They were all, according to my belief,
devised by men, and all have for a foundation ignorance of this
world and fear of the next. All the Gods have been made by men.
They are all equally powerful and equally useless. I like some of
them better than I do others, for the same reason that I admire
some characters in fiction more than I do others. I prefer Miranda
to Caliban, but have not the slightest idea that either of them
existed. So I prefer Jupiter to Jehovah, although perfectly
satisfied that both are myths. I believe myself to be in a frame of
mind to justly and fairly consider the claims of different
religions, believing as I do that all are wrong, and admitting as
I do that there is some good in all.

When one speaks of the "inexhaustible fruitfulness in all good
things" of the Catholic Church, we remember the horrors and
atrocities of the Inquisition -- the rewards offered by the Roman
Church for the capture and murder of honest men. We remember the
Dominican Order, the members of which, upheld by the vicar of
Christ, pursued the heretics like sleuth hounds, through many

The church, "inexhaustible in fruitfulness in all good
things," not only imprisoned and branded and burned the living, but
violated the dead. It robbed graves, to the end that it might
convict corpses of heresy -- to the end that it might take from
widows their portions and from orphans their patrimony.

We remember the millions in the darkness of dungeons -- the
millions who perished by the sword -- the vast multitudes destroyed
in flames -- those who were flayed alive those who were blinded --
those whose tongues were cut out those into whose ears were poured
molten lead -- those whose eyes were deprived of their lids --
those who were tortured and tormented in every way by which pain
could be inflicted and human nature overcome.

And we remember, too, the exultant cry of the church over the
bodies of her victims: "Their bodies were burned here, but their
souls are now tortured in hell."

We remember that the church, by treachery, bribery, perjury,
and the commission of every possible crime, got possession and
control of Christendom, and we know the use that was made of this
power -- that it was used to brutalize, degrade, stupefy, and
"sanctify" the children of men. We know also that the vicars of
Christ were persecutors for opinion's sake -- that they sought to
destroy the liberty of thought through fear -- that they endeavored
to make every brain a bastille in which the mind should be a
convict -- that they endeavored to make every tongue a prisoner,
watched by a familiar of the Inquisition -- and that they
threatened punishment here, imprisonment here, burnings here, and,
in the name of their God, eternal imprisonment and eternal burnings

We know, too, that the Catholic Church was, during all the
years of its power, the enemy of every science, it preferred magic
to medicine, relics to remedies, priests to physicians. It thought
more of astrologers than of astronomers. It hated geologists -- it

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persecuted the chemist, and imprisoned the naturalist, and opposed
every discovery calculated to improve the condition of mankind.

It is impossible to forget the persecutions of the Cathari,
the Albigenses, the Waldenses, the Hussites, the Huguenots, and of
every sect that had the courage to think just a little for itself.
Think of a woman -- the mother of a family -- taken front her
children and burned, on account of her view as to the three natures
of Jesus Christ. Think of the Catholic Church, -- an institution
with a Divine Founder, presided over by the agent of God --
punishing a woman for giving a cup of cold water to a fellow --
being who had been anathematized. Think of this church, "fruitful
in all good things," launching its curse at an honest man -- not
only cursing him from the crown of his head to the soles of his
feet with a fiendish particularity, but having at the same time the
impudence to call on God, and the Holy Ghost, and Jesus Christ, and
the Virgin Mary, to join in the curse; and to curse him not only
here, but forever hereafter -- calling upon all the saints and upon
all the redeemed to join in a hallelujah of curses, so that earth
and heaven should reverberate with countless curses launched at a
human being simply for having expressed an honest thought.

This church, so "fruitful in all good things," invented crimes
that it might punish. This church tried men for a "suspicion of
heresy" -- imprisoned them for the vice of being suspected --
stripped them of all they had on earth and allowed them to rot in
dungeons, because they were guilty of the crime of having been
suspected. This was a part of the Canon Law.

It is too late to talk about the "invincible stability" of the
Catholic Church.

It was not invincible in the seventh, in the eighth, or in the
ninth centuries. It was not invincible in Germany in Luther's day.
It was not invincible in the Low Countries. It was not invincible
in Scotland, or in England. It was not invincible in France, It is
not invincible in Italy, It is not supreme in any intellectual
center of the world. It does not triumph in Paris, or Berlin; it is
not dominant in London, in England; neither is it triumphant in the
United States. It has not within its fold the philosophers, the
statesmen, and the thinkers, who are the leaders of the human race.

It is claimed that Catholicism "interpenetrates all the
nations of the civilized world," and that "in some it holds the
whole nation in its unity.

I suppose the Catholic Church is more powerful in Spain than
in any other nation. The history of this nation demonstrates the
result of Catholic supremacy, the result of an acknowledgment by a
people that a certain religion is too sacred to be examined.

Without attempting in an article of this character to point
out the many causes that contributed to the adoption of Catholicism
by the Spanish people, it is enough to say that Spain, of all
nations, has been and is the most thoroughly Catholic, and the most
thoroughly interpenetrated and dominated by the spirit of the
Church of Rome.

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Spain used the sword of the church. In the name of religion it
endeavored to conquer the Infidel world. It drove from its
territory the Moors, not because they were bad, not because they
were idle and dishonest, but because they were, Infidels. It
expelled the Jews, not because they were ignorant or vicious, but
because they were unbelievers. It drove out the Moriscoes, and
deliberately made outcasts of the intelligent, the industrious, the
honest and the useful, because they were not Catholics. It leaped
like a wild beast upon the Low Countries, for the destruction of
Protestantism. It covered the seas with its fleets, to destroy the
intellectual liberty of man. And not only so -- it established the
Inquisition within its borders. It imprisoned the honest, it burned
the noble, and succeeded after many years of devotion to the true
faith, in destroying the industry, the intelligence, the
usefulness, the genius, the nobility and the wealth of a nation, It
became a wreck, a jest of the conquered, and excited the pity of
its former victims.

In this period of degradation, the Catholic Church held "the
whole nation in its unity."

At last Spain began to deviate from the path of the church. It
made a treaty with an Infidel power. In 1782 it became humble
enough, and wise enough, to be friends with Turkey. It made
treaties with Tripoli and Algiers and the Barbary States. It had
become too poor to ransom the prisoners taken by these powers. It
began to appreciate the fact that it could neither conquer nor
convert the world by the sword.

Spain has progressed in the arts and sciences, in all that
tends to enrich and ennoble a nation, in the precise proportion
that she has lost faith in the Catholic Church. This may be said of
every other nation in Christendom. Torquemada is dead; Castelar is
alive. The dungeons of the Inquisition are empty, and a little
light has penetrated the clouds and mists -- not much, but a
little. Spain is not yet clothed and in her right mind. A few years
ago the cholera visited Madrid and other cities. Physicians were
mobbed. Processions of saints carried the host through the streets
for the purpoae of staying the plague. The streets were not
cleaned; the sewers were filled. Filth and faith, old pardners,
reigned supreme. The church, "eminent for its sanctity," stood in
the light and cast its shadow on the ignorant and the prostrate.
The church, in its "inexhaustible fruitfulness in all good things,"
allowed its children to perish through ignorance, and used the
diseases it had produced as an instrumentality to further enslave
its votaries and its victims.

No one will deny that many of its priests exhibited heroism of
the highest order in visiting the sick and administering what are
called the consolations of religion to the dying, and in burying
the dead, It is necessary neither to deny or disparage the self-
denial and goodness of these men. But their religion did more than
all other causes to produce the very evils that called for the
exhibition of self-denial and heroism. One scientist in control of
Madrid could have prevented the plague, In such cases, cleanliness
is far better than "godliness;" science is superior to
superstition; drainage much better than divinity; therapeutics more

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excellent than theology. Goodness is not enough -- intelligence is
necessary. Faith is not sufficient, creeds are helpless, and
prayers fruitless.

It is admitted that the Catholic Church exists in many
nations; that it is dominated, at least in a great degree, by the
Bishop of Rome -- that it is international in that sense, and that
in that sense it has what may be called a "supernational unity."
The same, however, is true of the Masonic fraternity. It exists in
many nations, but it is not a national body. It is in the same
sense extranational, in the same sense international, and has in
the same sense a supernational unity. So the same may be said of
other societies. This, however, does not tend to prove that
anything supernational is supernatural.

It is also admitted that in faith, worship, ceremonial,
discipline and government, the Catholic Church is substantially the
same wherever it exists. This establishes the unity, but not the
divinity, of the institution.

The church that does not allow investigation, that teaches
that all doubts are wicked, attains unity through tyranny, that is,
monotony by repression. Wherever man has had something like
freedom, differences have appeared, heresies have taken root, and
the divisions have become permanent -- new sects have been born and
the Catholic Church has been weakened. The boast of unity is the
confession of tyranny.

It is insisted that the unity of the church substantiates its
claim to divine origin. This is asserted over and over again, in
many ways; and yet in the Cardinal's article is found this strange
mingling of boast and confession: "Was it only by the human power
of man that the unity, external and internal, which for fourteen
hundred years had been supreme, was once more restored in the
Council of Constance, never to be broken again?"

By this it is admitted that the internal and external unity of
the Catholic Church had been broken, and that it required more than
human power to restore it. Then the boast is made that it will
never be broken again. Yet it is asserted that the internal and
external unity of the Catholic Church is the great fact that
demonstrates its divine origin.

Now, if this internal and external unity was broken, and
remained broken for years, there was an interval during which the
church had no internal or external unity, and during which the
evidence of divine origin failed. The unity was broken in spite of
the Divine Founder. This is admitted by the use of the word
"again." The unbroken unity of the church is asserted, and upon
this assertion is based the claim of divine origin; it is then
admitted that the unity was broken. The argument is then shifted,
and the claim is made that it required more than human power to
restore the internal and external unity of the church, and that the
restoration, not the unity, is proof of the divine origin. Is there
any contradiction beyond this?

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Let us state the case in another way. Let us suppose that a
man has a sword which he claims was made by God, stating that the
reason he knows that God made the sword is that it never had been
and never could be broken. Now, if it was afterwards ascertained
that it had been broken, and the owner admitted that it had been,
what would be thought of him if he then took the ground that it had
been welded, and that the welding was the evidence that it was of
divine origin?

A prophecy is then indulged in, to the effect that the
internal and external unity of the church can never be broken
again. It is admitted that it was broken -- it is asserted that it
was divinely restored -- and then it is declared that it is never
to be broken again. No reason is given for this prophecy; it must
be born of the facts already stated. Put in a form to be easily
understood, it is this:

We know that the unity of the church can never be broken,
because the church is of divine origin.

We know that it was broken; but this does not weaken the
argument, because it was restored by God, and it has not been
broken since.

Therefore, it never can be broken again.

It is stated that the Catholic Church is immutable, and that
its immutability establishes its claim to divine origin. Was it
immutable when its unity, internal and external, was broken? Was it
precisely the same after its unity was broken that it was before?
Was it precisely the same after its unity was divinely restored
that it was while broken? Was it universal while it was without
unity? Which of the fragments was universal -- which was immutable?

The fact that the Catholic Church is obedient to the pope,
establishes, not the supernatural origin of the church, but the
mental slavery of its members. It establishes the fact that it is
a successful organization; that it is cunningly devised; that it
destroys mental independence, and that whoever absolutely submits
to its authority loses the jewel of his soul.

The fact that Catholics are to a great extent obedient to the
pope, establishes nothing except the thoroughness of the

How was the Roman empire formed? By what means did that Great
Power hold in bondage the then known world? How is it that a
despotism is established? How is it that the few enslave the many?
How is it that the nobility live on the labor of peasants? The
answer is in one word, Organization. The organized few triumph over
the unorganized many. The few hold the sword and the purse. The
unorganized are overcome in detail -- terrorized, brutalized,
robbed, conquered.

We must remember that when Christianity was established the
world was ignorant, credulous and cruel. The gospel with its idea
of forgiveness -- with its heaven and hell -- was suited to the

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barbarians among whom it was preached. Let it be understood, once
for all, that Christ had but little to do with Christianity. The
people became convinced -- being ignorant, stupid and credulous --
that the church held the keys of heaven and hell. The foundation
for the most terrible mental tyranny that has existed among men was
in this way laid. The Catholic Church enslaved to the extent of its
power. It resorted to every possible form of fraud; it perverted
every good instinct of the human heart; it rewarded every vice; it
resorted to every artifice that ingenuity could devise, to reach
the highest ground of power. It tortured the accused to make them
confess; it tortured witnesses to compel the commission of perjury;
it tortured children for the purpose of making them convict their
parents; it compelled men to establish their own innocence; it
imprisoned without limit; it had the malicious patience to wait; it
left the accused without trial, and left them in dungeons until
released by death. There is no crime that the Catholic Church did
not commit, -- no cruelty that it did not practice, -- no form of
treachery that it did not reward, and no virtue that it did not
persecute. It was the greatest and most powerful enemy of human
rights. It did all that organization, cunning, piety, self-denial,
heroism, treachery, zeal and brute force could do to enslave the
children of men. It was the enemy of intelligence, the assassin of
liberty, and the destroyer of progress, It loaded the noble with
chains and the infamous with honors. In one hand it carried the
alms dish, in the other a dagger. It argued with the sword,
persuaded with poison, and convinced with the fagot.

It is impossible to see how the divine origin of a church can
be established by showing that hundreds of bishops have visited the

Does the fact that millions of the faithful visit Mecca
establish the truth of the Koran? Is it a scene for congratulation
when the bishops of thirty nations kneel before a man? Is it not
humiliating to know that man is willing to kneel at the feet of
man? Could a noble man demand, or joyfully receive, the humiliation
of his fellows?

As a rule, arrogance and humility go together. He who in power
compels his fellow-man to kneel, will himself kneel when weak, The
tyrant is a cringer in power; a cringer is a tyrant out of power.
Great men stand face to face. They meet on equal terms. The
cardinal who kneels in the presence of the pope, wants the bishop
to kneel in his presence; and the bishop who kneels demands that
the priest shall kneel to him; and the priest who kneels demands
that they in lower orders shall kneel; and all, from pope to the
lowest -- that is to say, from pope to exorcist, from pope to the
one in charge of the bones of saints -- all demand that the people,
the laymen, those upon whom they live, shall kneel to them.

The man of free and noble spirit will not kneel. Courage has
no knees.

Fear kneels, or falls upon its ashen face.

The Cardinal insists that the pope is the vicar of Christ, and
that all popes have been. What is a vicar of Christ? He is a
substitute in office. He stands in the place, or occupies the

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position in relation to the church, in relation to the world, that
Jesus Christ would occupy were he the pope at Rome. In other words,
he takes Christ's place; so that, according to the doctrine of the
Catholic Church, Jesus Christ himself is present in the person of
the pope.

We all know that a good man may employ a bad agent. A good
king might leave his realm and put in his place a tyrant and a
wretch. The good man and the good king cannot certainly know what
manner of man the agent is -- what kind of person the vicar is --
consequently the bad may be chosen. But if the king appointed a bad
vicar, knowing him to be bad, knowing that he would oppress the
people, knowing that he would imprison and burn the noble and
generous, what excuse can be imagined for such a king?

Now, if the church is of divine origin, and if each pope is
the vicar of Jesus Christ, he must have been chosen by Jesus
Christ; and when he was chosen, Christ must have known exactly what
his vicar would do. Can we believe that an infinitely wise and good
Being would choose immoral, dishonest, ignorant, malicious,
heartless, fiendish, and inhuman vicars?

The Cardinal admits that "the history of Christianity is the
history of the church, and that the history of the church is the
history of the Pontiffs," and he then declares that "the greatest
statesmen and rulers that the world has ever seen are the Popes of

Let me call attention to a few passages in Draper's "History
of the Intellectual Development of Europe."

"Constantine was one of the vicars of Christ. Afterwards,
Stephen IV. was chosen. The eyes of Constantine were then put out
by Stephen, acting in Christ's place. The tongue of the Bishop
Theodorus was amputated by the man who had been substituted for
God. This bishop was left in a dungeon to perish of thirst. Pope
Leo III. was seized in the street and forced into a church, where
the nephews of Pope Adrian attempted to put out his eyes and cut
off his tongue. His successor, Stephen V., was driven ignominiously
from Rome. His successor, Paschal I., was accused of blinding and
murdering two ecclesiastics in the Lateran Palace. John VIII.,
unable to resist the Mohammedans, was compelled to pay them

"At this time, the Bishop of Naples was in secret alliance
with the Mohammedans, and they divided with this Catholic bishop
the plunder they collected from other Catholics. This bishop was
excommunicated by the pope; afterwards he gave him absolution
because he betrayed the chief Mohammedans, and assassinated others.
There was an ecclesiastical conspiracy to murder the pope, and some
of the treasures of the church were seised, and the gate of St.
Pancrazia was opened with false keys to admit the Saracens.
Formosus, who had been engaged in these transactions, who had been
excommunicated as a conspirator for the murder of Pope John, was
himself elected pope in 891. Boniface VI. was his successor. He had
been deposed from the diaconate and from the priesthood for his
immoral and lewd life. Stephen VII. was the next pope, and he had
the dead body of Formosus taken from the grave, clothed in papal

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habiliments, propped up in a chair and tried before a Council. The
corpse was found guilty, three fingers were cut off and the body
cast into the Tiber. Afterwards Stephen VII., this Vicar of Christ,
was thrown into prison and strangled.

"From 896 to 900, five popes were consecrated. Leo V., in less
than two months after he became pope, was cast into prison by
Christopher, one of his chaplains. This Christopher usurped his
place, and in a little while was expelled from Rome by Sergius
III., who became pope in 905. This pope lived in criminal
intercourse with the celebrated Theodora, who with her daughters
Marozia and Theodota, both prostitutes, exercised an extraordinary
control over him. The love of Theodora was also shared by John X.
She gave him the Archbishopric of Revenna, and made him pope in
915. The daughter of Theodora overthrew this pope. She surprised
him in the Lateran Palace. His brother, Peter, was killed; the pope
was thrown into prison, where he was afterward murdered. Afterward,
this Marozia, daughter of Theodora, made her own son pope, John XI.
Many affirmed that Pope Sergius was his father, but his mother
inclined to attribute him to her husband Alberic, whose brother
Guido she afterward married. Another of her sons, Alberic, jealous
of his brother John, the pope, cast him and their mother into
prison. Alberic's son was then elected pope as John XII.

"John was nineteen years old when he became the vicar of
Christ. His reign was characterized by the most shocking
immoralities, so that the Emperor Otho I. was compelled by the
German clergy to interfere. He was tried. It appeared that John had
received bribes for the consecration of bishops; that he had
ordained one who was only ten years old; that he was charged with
incest, and with so many adulteries that the Lateran Palace had
become a brothel. He put out the eyes of one ecclesiastic; he
maimed another -- both dying in consequence of their injuries. He
was given to drunkenness and to gambling. He was deposed at last,
and Leo VII. elected in his stead, Subsequently he got the upper
hand. He seized his antagonists; he cut off the hand of one, the
nose, the finger, and the tongue of others. His life was eventually
brought to an end by the vengeance of a man whose wife he had

And yet, I admit that the most infamous popes, the most
heartless and fiendish bishops, friars, and priests were models of
mercy, charity, and justice when compared with the orthodox God --
with the God they worshiped. These popes, these bishops, these
priests could persecute only for a few years -- they could burn
only for a few moments -- but their God threatened to imprison and
burn forever; and their God is as much worse than they were, as
hell is worse than the Inquisition.

"John XIII. was strangled in prison. Boniface VII. imprisoned
Benedict VII., and starved him to death. John XIV. was secretly put
to death in the dungeons of the castle of St. Angelo. The corpse of
Boniface was dragged by the populace through the streets."

It must be remembered that the popes were assassinated by
Catholics -- murdered by the faithful -- that one vicar of Christ
strangled another vicar of Christ, and that these men were "the
greatest rulers and the greatest statesmen of the earth,"

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"Pope John XVI. was seized, his eyes put out, his nose cut
off, his tongue torn from his mouth, and he was sent through the
streets mounted on an ass, with his face to the tail. Benedict IX.,
a boy of less than twelve years of age, was raised to the apostolic
throne. One of his successors, Victor III., declared that the life
of Benedict was so shameful, so foul, so execrable, that he
shuddered to describe it. He ruled like a captain of banditti. The
people, unable to bear longer his adulteries, his homicides and his
abominations, rose against him, and in despair of maintaining his
position, he put up the papacy to auction, and it was bought by a
presbyter named John, who became Gregory VI., in the year of grace
1045. Well may we ask, Were these the vicegerents of God upon earth
-- these, who had truly reached that goal beyond which the last
effort of human wickedness cannot pass?"

It may be sufficient to say that there is no crime that man
can commit that has not been committed by the vicars of Christ.
They have inflicted every possible torture, violated every natural
right. Greater monsters the human race has not produced.

Among the "some two hundred and fifty-eight" Vicars of Christ
there were probably some good men. This would have happened even if
the intention had been to get all bad men, for the reason that man
reaches perfection neither in good nor in evil; but if they were
selected by Christ himself, if they were selected by a church with
a divine origin and under divine guidance, then there is no way to
account for the selection of a bad one. If one hypocrite was duly
elected pope -- one murderer, one strangler, one starver -- this
demonstrates that all the popes were selected by men, and by men
only, and that the claim of divine guidance is born of zeal and
uttered without knowledge.

But who were the vicars of Christ? How many have there been?
Cardinal Manning himself does not know. He is not sure. He says:
"Starting from St. Peter to Leo XIII., there have been some two
hundred and fifty-eight Pontiffs claiming to be recognized by the
whole Catholic unity as successors of St. Peter and Vicars of Jesus
Christ." Why did he use the word "some"? Why "claiming"? Does he
not positively know? Is it possible that the present Vicar of
Christ is not certain as to the number of his predecessors? Is he
infallible in faith and fallible in fact?

Robert G, Ingersoll.

****     ****


A Reply to Cardinal Manning.


"If we live thus timely, --
To be thus jaded by a piece of scarlet, --
Farewell nobility."

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No one will deny that "the pope speaks to many people in many
nations; that he treats with empires and governments," and that
"neither from Canterbury nor from Constantinople such a voice goes

How does the pope speak? What does he say? He speaks against
the liberty of man -- against the progress of the human race. He
speaks to calumniate thinkers, and to warn the faithful against the
discoveries of science. He speaks to the destruction of

Who listens? Do astronomers, geologists and scientists put the
hand to the ear fearing that an accent may be lost? Does France
listen? Does Italy hear? Is not the church weakest at its center?
Do those who have raised Italy from the dead, and placed her again
among the great nations, pay attention? Does Great Britain care for
this voice -- this moan, this groan -- of the Middle Ages? Do the
words of Leo XIII, impress the intelligence of the Great Republic?
Can anything be more absurd than for the vicar of Christ to attack
a demonstration of science with a passage of Scripture, or a
quotation from one of the Fathers"?

Compare the popes with the kings and queens of England.
Infinite wisdom had but little to do with the selection of these
monarchs, and yet they were far better than any equal number of
consecutive popes. This is faint praise, even for kings and queens,
but it shows that chance succeeded in getting better rulers for
England than "Infinite Wisdom" did for the Church of Rome. Compare
the popes with the presidents of the Republic elected by the
people. If Adams had murdered Washington, and Jefferson had
imprisoned Adams, and if Madison had cut out Jefferson's tongue,
and Monroe had assassinated Madison, and John Quincy Adams had
poisoned Monroe, and General Jackson had hung Adams and his
Cabinet, we might say that presidents had been as virtuous as
popes. But if this had happened, the verdict of the world would be
that the people are not capable of selecting their presidents.

But this voice from Rome is growing feebler day by day; so
feeble that the Cardinal admits that the vicar of God, and the
supernatural church, "are being tormented by Falck laws, by Mancini
laws and by Crispi laws." In other words, this representative of
God, this substitute of Christ, this church of divine origin, this
supernatural institution -- pervaded by the Holy Ghost -- are being
"tormented" by three politicians. Is it possible that this
patriotic trinity is more powerful than the other?

It is claimed that if the Catholic Church "be only a human
system, built up by the intellect, will and energy of men, the
adversaries must prove it -- that the burden is upon them." As a
general thing, institutions are natural. If this church is
supernatural, it is the one exception. The affirmative is with
those who claim that it is of divine origin. So far as we know, all
governments and all creeds are the work of man. No one believes
that Rome was a supernatural production, and yet its beginnings
were as small as those of the Catholic Church. Commencing in
weakness, Rome grew, and fought, and conquered, until it was
believed that the sky bent above a subjugated world. And yet all
was natural. For every effect there was an efficient cause.

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The Catholic asserts that all other religions have been
produced by man -- that Brahminism and Buddhism, the religion of
Isis and Osiris, the marvelous mythologies of Greece and Rome, were
the work of the human mind. From these religions Catholicism was
borrowed. Long before Catholicism was born, it was believed that
women had borne children whose fathers were gods. The Trinity was
promulgated in Egypt centuries before the birth of Moses. Celibacy
was taught by the ancient Nazarenes and Essenes, by the priests of
Egypt and India, by mendicant monks, and by the piously insane of
many countries long before the apostles lived. The Chinese tell us
that "when there were but one man and one woman upon the earth, the
woman refused to sacrifice her virginity even to people the globe;
and the gods, honoring her purity, granted that she should conceive
beneath the gaze of her lover's eyes, and a virgin mother became
the parent of humanity,"

The Founders of many religions have insisted that it was the
duty of man to renounce the pleasures of sense, and millions before
our era took the vows of chastity, poverty and obedience, and most
cheerfully lived upon the labor of others.

The sacraments of baptism and confirmation are far older than
the Church of Rome. The Eucharist is pagan. Long before popes began
to murder each other, pagans ate cakes -- the flesh of Ceres, and
drank wine -- the blood of Bacchus. Holy water flowed in the Ganges
and Nile, priests interceded for the people, and anointed the

It will not do to say that every successful religion that has
taught unnatural doctrines, unnatural practices, must of necessity
have been of divine origin. In most religions there has been a
strange mingling of the good and bad, of the merciful and cruel, of
the loving and malicious. Buddhism taught the universal brotherhood
of man, insisted on the development of the mind, and this religion
was propagated not by the sword, but by preaching, by persuasion,
and by kindness -- yet in many things it was contrary to the human
will, contrary to the human passions, and contrary to good sense.
Buddhism succeeded. Can we, for this reason, say that it is a
supernatural religion? Is the unnatural the supernatural?

It is insisted that, while other churches have changed, the
Catholic Church alone has remained the same, and that this fact
demonstrates its divine origin.

Has the creed of Buddhism changed in three thousand years? Is
intellectual stagnation a demonstration of divine origin? When
anything refuses to grow, are we certain that the seed was planted
by God? If the Catholic Church is the same to-day that it has been
for many centuries, this proves that there has been no intellectual
development. If men do not differ upon religious subjects, it is
because they do not think.

Differentiation is the law of growth, of progress. Every
church must gain or lose: it cannot remain the same; it must decay
or grow. The fact that the Catholic Church has not grown -- that it

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has been petrified from the first -- does not establish divine
origin; it simply establishes the fact that it retards the progress
of man. Everything in nature changes -- every atom is in motion --
every star moves. Nations, institutions and individuals have youth,
manhood, old age, death. This is and will be true of the Catholic
Church. It was once weak -- it grew strong -- it reached its climax
of power -- it began to decay -- it never can rise again. lt is
confronted by the dawn of Science. In the presence of the
nineteenth century it cowers.

It is not true that "All natural causes run to

Natural causes run to integration as well as to
disintegration. All growth is integration, and all growth is
natural. All decay is disintegration, and all decay is natural.
Nature builds and nature destroys. When the acorn grows -- when the
sunlight and rain fall upon it and the oak rises -- so far as the
oak is concerned "all natural causes" do not "run to
disintegration." But there comes a time when the oak has reached
its limit, and then the forces of nature run towards
disintegration, and finally the old oak falls. But if the Cardinal
is right -- if "all natural causes run to disintegration," then
every success must have been of divine origin, and nothing is
natural but destruction. This is Catholic science: "All natural
causes run to disintegration." What do these causes find to
disintegrate? Nothing that is natural. The fact that the thing is
not disintegrated shows that it was and is of supernatural origin.
According to the Cardinal, the only business of nature is to
disintegrate the supernatural. To prevent this, the supernatural
needs the protection of the Infinite. According to this doctrine,
if anything lives and grows, it does so in spite of nature. Growth,
then, is not in accordance with, but in opposition to nature. Every
plant is supernatural -- it defeats the disintegrating influences
of rain and light. The generalization of the Cardinal is half the
truth. It would be equally true to say: All natural causes run to
integration. But the whole truth is that growth and decay are

The Cardinal asserts that "Christendom was created by the
world-wide church as we see it before our eyes at this day.
Philosophers and statesmen believe it to be the work of their own
hands; they did not make it, but they have for three hundred years
been unmaking it by reformations and revolutions.

The meaning of this is that Christendom was far better three
hundred years ago than now; that during these three centuries
Christendom has been going toward barbarism. It means that the
supernatural church of God has been a failure for three hundred
years; that it has been unable to withstand the attacks of
philosophers and statesmen, and that it has been helpless in the
midst of "reformations and revolutions."

What was the condition of the world three hundred years ago,
the period, according to the Cardinal, in which the church reached
the height of its influence, and since which it has been unable to
withstand the rising tide of reformation and the whirlwind of

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In that blessed time, Philip II. was king of Spain -- he with
the cramped head and the monstrous jaw. Heretics were hunted like
wild and poisonous beasts; the Inquisition was firmly established,
and priests were busy with rack and fire. With a zeal born of the
hatred of man and the love of God, the church, with every
instrument of torture, touched every nerve in the human body.

In those happy days, the Duke of Alva was devastating the
homes of Holland; heretics were buried alive -- their tongues were
torn from their mouths, their lids from their eyes; the Armada was
on the sea for the destruction of the heretics of England, and the
Moriscoes -- a million and a half of industrious people -- were
being driven by sword and flame from their homes. The Jews had been
expelled from Spain. This Catholic country had succeeded in driving
intelligence and industry from its territory; and this had been
done with a cruelty, with a ferocity, unequaled in the annals of
crime. Nothing was left but ignorance, bigotry, intolerance,
credulity, the Inquisition, the seven sacraments and the seven
deadly sins. And yet a Cardinal of the nineteenth century, living
in the land of Shakespeare, regrets the change that has been
wrought by the intellectual efforts, by the discoveries, by the
inventions and heroism of three hundred years.

Three hundred years ago, Charles IX., in France, son of
Catherine de Medici, in the year of grace, 1572 -- after nearly
sixteen centuries of Catholic Christianity -- after hundreds of
vicars of Christ had sat in St. Peter's chair -- after the natural
passions of man had been "softened" by the creed of Rome -- came
the Massacre of St. Bartholomew, the result of a conspiracy between
the Vicar of Christ, Philip II., Charles IX., and his fiendish
mother. Let the Cardinal read the account of this massacre once
more, and, after reading it, imagine that he sees the gashed and
mutilated bodies of thousands of men and women, and then let him
say that he regrets the revolutions and reformations of three
hundred years.

About three hundred years ago Clement VIII., Vicar of Christ,
acting in God's place, substitute of the Infinite, persecuted
Giordano Bruno even unto death. This great, this sublime man, was
tried for heresy. He had ventured to assert the rotary motion of
the earth; he had hazarded the conjecture that there were in the
fields of infinite space worlds larger and more glorious than ours.
For these low and groveling thoughts, for this contradiction of the
word and vicar of God, this man was imprisoned for many years. But
his noble spirit was not broken, and finally, in the year 1600, by
the orders of the infamous vicar, he was chained to the stake.
Priests believing in the doctrine of universal forgiveness --
priests who when smitten upon one cheek turned the other -- carried
with a kind of ferocious joy fagots to the feet of this
incomparable man. These disciples of "Our Lord" were made joyous as
the flames, like serpents, climbed around the body of Bruno. In a
few moments the brave thinker was dead, and the priests who had
burned him fell upon their knees and asked the infinite God to
continue the blessed work forever in hell.

There are two things that cannot exist in the same universe --
an infinite God and a martyr.

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Does the Cardinal regret that kings and emperors are not now
engaged in the extermination of Protestants? Does he regret that
dungeons of the Inquisition are no longer crowded with the best and
bravest? Does he long for the fires of the auto da fe?

In coming to a conclusion as to the origin of the Catholic
Church -- in determining the truth of the claim of infallibility --
we are not restricted to the physical achievements of that church,
or to the history of its propagation, or to the rapidity of its

This church has a creed; and if this church is of divine
origin -- if its head is the vicar of Christ, and, as such,
infallible in matters of faith and morals, this creed must be true.
Let us start with the supposition that God exists, and that he is
infinitely wise, powerful and good -- and this is only a
supposition. Now, if the creed is foolish, absurd and cruel, it
cannot be of divine origin. We find in this creed the following:
"Whosoever will be saved, before all things it is necessary that he
hold the Catholic faith."

It is not necessary, before all things, that he be good,
honest, merciful, charitable and just. Creed is more important than
conduct. The most important of all things is, that he hold the
Catholic faith. There were thousands of years during which it was
not necessary to hold that faith, because that faith did not exist;
and yet during that time the virtues were just as important as now,
just as important as they ever can be. Millions of the noblest of
the human race never heard of this creed. Millions of the bravest
and best have heard of it, examined, and rejected it. Millions of
the most infamous have believed it, and because of their belief, or
notwithstanding their belief, have murdered millions of their
fellows. We know that men can be, have been, and are just as wicked
with it as without it. We know that it is not necessary to believe
it to be good, loving, tender, noble and self-denying. We admit
that millions who have believed it have also been self-denying and
heroic, and that millions, by such belief, were not prevented from
torturing and destroying the helpless.

Now, if all who believed it were good, and all who rejected it
were bad, then there might be some propriety in saying that
"whoever will he saved, before all things it is necessary that he
hold the Catholic faith." But as the experience of mankind is
otherwise, the declaration becomes absurd, ignorant; and cruel.

There is stili another clause:

"Which faith, except every one do keep entire and inviolate,
without doubt, he shall everlastingly perish."

We now have both sides of this wonderful truth: The believer
will be saved, the unbeliever will be lost. We know that faith is
not the child or servant of the will. We know that belief is a
conclusion based upon what the mind supposes to be true. We know
that it is not an act of the will. Nothing can be more absurd than
to save a man because he is not intelligent enough to accept the
truth, and nothing can be more infamous than to damn a man because

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he is intelligent enough to reject the false. It resolves itself
into a question of intelligence. If the creed is true, then a man
rejects it because he lacks intelligence. Is this a crime for which
a man should everlastingly perish? If the creed is false, then a
man accepts it because he lacks intelligence. In both cases the
crime is exactly the same. If a man is to be damned for rejecting
the truth, certainly he should not be saved for accepting the
false. This one clause demonstrates that a being of infinite wisdom
and goodness did not write it. It also demonstrates that it was the
work of men who had neither wisdom nor a sense of justice.

What is this Catholic faith that must be held? It is this:
"That we worship one God in Trinity and Trinity in Unity, neither
confounding the persons nor dividing the substance." Why should an
Infinite Being demand worship? Why should one God wish to be
worshiped as three? Why should three Gods wished to be worshiped as
one? Why should we pray to one God and think of three, or pray to
three Gods and think of one? Can this increase the happiness of the
one or of the three? Is it possible to think of one as three, or of
three as one? If you think of three as one, can you think of one as
none, or of none as one? When you think of three as one, what do
you do with the other two? You must not "confound the persons" --
they must be kept separate. When you think of one as three, how do
you get the other two? You must not "divide the substance." Is it
possible to write greater contradictions than these?

This creed demonstrates the human origin of the Catholic
Church. Nothing could be more unjust than to punish man for
unbelief -- for the expression of honest thought -- for having been
guided by his reason -- for having acted in accordance with his
best judgment.

Another claim is made, to the effect "that the Catholic Church
has filled the world with the true knowledge of the one true God,
and that it has destroyed all idols by light instead of by fire."

The Catholic Church described the true God as a being who
would inflict eternal pain on his weak and erring children;
described him as a fickle, quick-tempered, unreasonable deity, whom
honesty enraged, and whom flattery governed; one who loved to see
fear upon its knees. ignorance with closed eyes and open mouth; one
who delighted in useless self-denial, who loved to hear the sighs
and sobs of suffering nuns, as they lay prostrate on dungeon
floors; one who was delighted when the husband deserted his family
and lived alone in some cave in the far wilderness, tormented by
dreams and driven to insanity by prayer and penance, by fasting and

According to the Catholic Church, the true God enjoyed the
agonies of heretics. He loved the smell of their burning flesh; he
applauded with wide palms when philosophers were flayed alive, and
to him the auto da fe was a divine comedy. The shrieks of wives,
the cries of babes when fathers were being burned, gave contrast,
heightened the effect and filled his cup with joy. This true God
did not know the shape of the earth he had made, and had forgotten
the orbits of the stars. "The stream of light which descended from
the beginning "was propagated by fagot to fagot, until Christendom
was filled with the devouring fires of faith.

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It may also be said that the Catholic Church filled the world
with the true knowledge of the one true Devil. It filled the air
with malicious phantoms, crowded innocent sleep with leering
fiends, and gave the world to the domination of witches and
wizards, spirits and spooks, goblins and ghosts, and butchered and
burned thousands for the commission of impossible crimes.

It is contended that: "In this true knowledge of the Divine
Nature was revealed to man their own relation to a Creator as sons
to a Father."

This tender relation was revealed by the Catholics to the
Pagans, the Arians, the Cathari, the Waldenses, the Albigenses, the
heretics, the Jews, the Moriscoes, the Protestants -- to the
natives of the West Indies, of Mexico, of Peru -- to philosophers,
patriots and thinkers. All these victims were taught to regard the
true God as a loving father, and this lesson was taught with every
instrument of torture -- with brandings and burnings, with flayings
and flames. The world was filled with cruelty and credulity,
ignorance and intolerance, and the soil in which all these horrors
grew was the true knowledge of the one true God, and the true
knowledge of the one true Devil. And yet, we are compelled to say,
that the one true Devil described by the Catholic Church was not as
malevolent as the one true God.

Is it true that the Catholic Church overthrew idolatry? What
is idolatry? What shall we say of the worship of popes -- of the
doctrine of the Real Presence, of divine honors paid to saints, of
sacred vestments, of holy water, of consecrated cups and plates, of
images and relics, of amulets and charms?

The Catholic Church filled the world with the spirit of
idolatry. It abandoned the idea of continuity in nature, it denied
the integrity of cause and effect. The government of the world was
the composite result of the caprice of God, the malice of Satan,
the prayers of the faithful -- softened, it may be, by the charity
of Chance. Yet the Cardinal asserts, without the preface of a
smile, that "Demonology was overthrown by the church, with the
assistance of forces that were above nature;" and in the same
breath gives birth to this enlightened statement: "Beelzebub is not
divided against himself" Is a belief in Beelzebub a belief in
demonology? Has the Cardinal forgotten the Council of Nice, held in
the year of grace 787 that declared the worship of images to be
lawful? Did that infallible Council, under the guidance of the Holy
Ghost, destroy idolatry?

The Cardinal takes the ground that marriage is a sacrament,
and therefore indissoluble, and he also insists that celibacy is
far better than marriage, -- holier than a sacrament, -- that
marriage is not the highest state, but that "the state of virginity
unto death is the highest condition of man and woman."

The highest ideal of a family is where all are equal -- where
love has superseded authority -- where each seeks the good of all,
and where none obey -- where, no religion can sunder hearts, and
with which no church can interfere.

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The real marriage is based on mutual affection -- the ceremony
is but the outward evidence of the inward flame. To this contract
there are but two parties. The church is an impudent intruder.
Marriage is made public to the end that the real contract may be
known, so that the world can see that the parties have been
actuated by the highest and holiest motives that find expression in
the acts of human beings. The man and woman are not joined together
by God, or by the church, or by the state. The church and state may
prescribe certain ceremonies, certain formalities -- but all these
are only evidence of the existence of a sacred fact in the hearts
of the wedded. The indissolubility of marriage is a dogma that has
filled the lives of millions with agony and tears. It has given a
perpetual excuse for vice and immorality. Fear has borne children
begotten by brutality. Countless women have endured the insults,
indignities and cruelties of fiendish husbands, because they
thought that it was the will of God. The contract of marriage is
the most important that human beings can make; but no contract can
be so important as to release one of the parties from the
obligation of performance; and no contract, whether made between
man and woman, or between them and God, alter a failure of
consideration caused by the willful act of the man or woman, can
hold and bind the innocent and honest.

Do the believers in indissoluble marriage treat their wives
better than others? A little while ago, a woman said to a man who
had raised his hand to strike her: "Do not touch me; you have no
right to beat me; I am not your wife."

About a year ago a husband, whom God in his infinite wisdom
had joined to a loving and patient woman in the indissoluble
sacrament of marriage, becoming enraged, seized the helpless wife
and tore out one of her eyes. She forgave him. A few weeks ago he
deliberately repeated this frightful crime, leaving his victim
totally blind. Would it not have been better if man, before the
poor woman was blinded, had put asunder whom God had joined
together? Thousands of husbands, who insist that marriage is
indissoluble, are the beaters of wives.

The law of the church has created neither the purity nor the
peace of domestic life. Back of all churches is human affection.
Back of all theologies is the love of the human heart. Back of all
your priests and creeds is the adoration of the one woman by the
one man, and of the one man by the one woman. Back of your faith is
the fireside; back of your folly is the family; and back of all
your holy mistakes and your sacred absurdities is the love of
husband and wife, of parent and child.

It is not true that neither the Greek nor the Roman world had
any true conception of a home. The splendid story of Ulysses and
Penelope, the parting of Hector and Andromache, demonstrate that a
true conception of home existed among the Greeks. Before the
establishment of Christianity, the Roman matron commanded the
admiration of the then known world. She was free and noble. The
church degraded woman -- made her the property of the husband, and
trampled her beneath its brutal feet. The "fathers" denounced woman
as a perpetual temptation, as the cause of all evil. The church
worshiped a God who had upheld polygamy, and had pronounced his

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curse on woman, and had declared that she should be the serf of the
husband. This church followed the teachings of St. Paul. It taught
the uncleanness of marriage, and insisted that all children were
conceived in sin. This church pretended to have been founded by one
who offered a reward in this world, and eternal joy in the next, to
husbands who would forsake their wives and children and follow him.
Did this tend to the elevation of woman? Did this detestable
doctrine "create the purity and peace of domestic life"? Is it true
that a monk is purer than a good and noble father? -- that a nun is
holier than a loving mother?

Is there anything deeper and stronger than a mother's love? Is
there anything purer, holier than a mother holding her dimpled babe
against her billowed breast?

The good man is useful, the best man is the most useful. Those
who fill the nights with barren prayers and holy hunger, torture
themselves for their own good and not for the benefit of others.
They are earning eternal glory for themselves -- they do not fast
for their fellow-men -- their selfishness is only equalled by their
foolishness. Compare the monk in his selfish cell, counting beads
and saying prayers for the purpose of saving his barren soul, with
a husband and father sitting by his fireside with wife and
children. Compare the nun with the mother and her babe.

Celibacy is the essence of vulgarity. It tries to put a stain
upon motherhood, upon marriage, upon love -- that is to say, upon
all that is holiest in the human heart. Take love from the world,
and there is nothing left worth living for. The church has treated
this great, this sublime, this unspeakably holy passion, as though
it polluted the heart. They have placed the love of God above the
love of woman, above the love of man. Human love is generous and
noble. The love of God is selfish, because man does not love God
for God's sake, but for his own.

Yet the Cardinal asserts "that the change wrought by
Christianity in the social, political and international relations
of the world" -- "that the root of this ethical charge, private and
public, is the Christian home." A moment afterward, this prelate
insists that celibacy is far better than marriage. If the world
could be induced to live in accordance with the "highest state,"
this generation would be the last. Why were men and women created?
Why did not the Catholic God commence with the sinless and sexless?
The Cardinal ought to take the ground that to talk well is good,
but that to be dumb is the highest condition; that hearing is a
pleasure, but that deafness is ecstasy; and that to think, to
reason, is very well, but that to be a Catholic is far better.

Why should we desire the destruction of human passions? Take
passions from human beings and what is left? The great object
should be not to destroy passions, but to make them obedient to the
intellect, To indulge passion to the utmost is one form of
intemperance to destroy passion is another. The reasonable
gratification of passion under the domination of the intellect is
true wisdom and perfect virtue.

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The goodness, the sympathy, the self-denial of the nun, of the
monk, all come from the mother-instinct, the father-instinct -- all
were produced by human affection, by the love of man for woman, of
woman for man. Love is a transfiguration. It ennobles, purifies and
glorifies. In true marriage two hearts burst into flower. Two lives
unite. They melt in music. Every moment is a melody. Love is a
revelation, a creation. From love the world borrows its beauty and
the heavens their glory. Justice, self-denial, charity and pity are
the children of love. Lover, wife, mother, husband, father, child,
home -- these words shed light -- they are the gems of human
speech. Without love all glory fades, the noble falls from life,
art dies, music loses meaning and becomes mere motions of the air,
and virtue ceases to exist.

It is asserted that this life of celibacy is above and against
the tendencies of human nature; and the Cardinal then asks: "Who
will ascribe this to natural causes, and, if so, why did it not
appear in the first four thousand years?

"If there is in a system of religion a doctrine, a dogma, or
a practice, against the tendencies of human nature" -- if this
religion succeeds, then it is claimed by the Cardinal that such
religion must be of divine origin. Is it "against the tendencies of
human nature" for a mother to throw her child into the Ganges to
please a supposed God? Yet a religion that insisted on that
sacrifice succeeded, and has, to-day, more believers than the
Catholic Church can boast.

Religions, like nations and individuals, have always gone
along the line of least resistance. Nothing has "ascended the
stream of human license by a power mightier than nature." There is
no such power. There never was, there never can be, a miracle. We
know that man is a conditioned being. We know that he is affected
by a change of conditions. If he is ignorant he is superstitious;
this is natural. If his brain is developed -- if he perceives
clearly that all things are naturally produced, he ceases to be
superstitious, and becomes scientific. He is not a saint, but a
savant -- not a priest, but a philosopher. He does not worship, he
works; he investigates; he thinks; he takes advantage, through
intelligence, of the forces of nature. He is no longer the victim
of appearances, the dupe of his own ignorance, and the persecutor
of his fellow-men.

He then knows that it is far better to love his wife and
children than to love God. He then knows that the love of man for
woman, of woman for man, of parent for child, of child for parent,
is far better, far holier than the love of man for any phantom born
of ignorance and fear.

It is illogical to take the ground that the world was cruel
and ignorant and idolatrous when the Catholic Church was
established, and that because the world is better now than then,
the church is of divine origin.

What was the world when science came? What was it in the days
of Galileo, Copernicus and Eepler? What was it when printing was
invented? What was it when the Western World was found? Would it
not be much easier to prove that science is of divine origin?

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Science does not persecute. It does not shed blood -- it fills
the world with light. It cares nothing for heresy; it develops the
mind, and enables man to answer his own prayers.

Cardinal Manning takes the ground that Jehovah practically
abandoned the children of men for four thousand years, and gave
them over to every abomination. He claims that Christianity came
"in the fullness of time," and it is then admitted that "what the
fullness of time may mean is one of the mysteries of times and
seasons, that it is not for us to know." Having declared that it is
a mystery, and one that we are not to know, the Cardinal explains
it: "One motive for the long delay of four thousand years is not
far to seek -- it gave time, Full and ample, for the utmost
development and consolidation of all the falsehood and evil of
which the intellect and will of man are capable."

Is it possible to imagine why an infinitely good and wise
being "gave time full and ample for the utmost development and
consolidation of falsehood and evil"? Why should an infinitely wise
God desire this development and consolidation? What would be
thought of a father who should refuse to teach his son and
deliberately allow him to go into every possible excess, to the end
that he might develop all the falsehood and evil of which his
intellect and will were capable"? If a supernatural religion is a
necessity, and if without it all men simply develop and consolidate
falsehood and evil, why was not a supernatural religion given to
the first man? The Catholic Church, if this be true, should have
been founded in the Garden of Eden.

Was it not cruel to drown a world just for the want of a
supernatural religion -- a religion that man, by no possibility,
could furnish? Was there "husbandry in heaven"?

But the Cardinal contradicts himself by not only admitting,
but declaring, that the world had never seen a legislation so just,
so equitable, as that of Rome.

Is it possible that a nation in which falsehood and evil had
reached their highest development was, after all, so wise, so just
and so equitable?

Was not the civil law far better than the Mosaic -- more
philosophical, nearer just?

The civil law was produced without the assistance of God.

According to the Cardinal, it was produced by men in whom all
the falsehood and evil of which they were capable had been
developed and consolidated, while the cruel and ignorant Mosaic
code came from the lips of infinite wisdom and compassion.

It is declared that the history of Rome shows what man can do
without God, and I assert that the history of the Inquisition shows
what man can do when assisted by a church of divine origin,
presided over by the infallible vicars of God.

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The fact that the early Christians not only believed
incredible things, but persuaded others of their truth, is regarded
by the Cardinal as a miracle. This is only another phase of the old
argument that success is the test of divine origin. All
supernatural religions have been founded in precisely the same way.
The credulity of eighteen hundred years ago believed everything
except the truth.

A religion is a growth, and is of necessity adapted in some
degree to the people among whom it grows. It is shaped and molded
by the general ignorance, the superstition and credulity of the age
in which it lives. The key is fashioned by the lock.

Every religion that has succeeded has in some way supplied the
wants of its votaries, and has to a certain extent harmonized with
their hopes, their fears, their vices, and their virtues.

If, as the Cardinal says, the religion of Christ is in
absolute harmony with nature, how can it be supernatural? The
Cardinal also declares that "the religion of Christ is in harmony
with the reason and moral nature in all nations and all ages to
this day."

What becomes of the argument that Catholicism must be of
divine origin because "it has ascended the stream of human license,
contra ictum fluminis, by a power mightier than nature"?

If "it is in harmony with the reason and moral nature of all
nations and all ages to this day," it has gone with the stream, and
not against it. If "the religion of Christ is in harmony with the
reason and moral nature of all nations," then the men who have
rejected it are unnatural, and these men have gone against the
stream. How then can it be said that Christianity has been in
changeless opposition to nature as man has marred it? To what
extent has man marred it?

In spite of the marring by man, we are told that the reason
and moral nature of all nations in all ages to this day is in
harmony with the religion of Jesus Christ.

Are we justified in saying that the Catholic Church is of
divine origin because the Pagans failed to destroy it by

We will put the Cardinal's statement in form:

Paganism failed to destroy Catholicism by persecution,
therefore Catholicism is of divine origin.

Let us make an application of this logic:

Paganism failed to destroy Catholicism by persecution;
therefore, Catholicism is of divine origin.

Catholicism failed to destroy Protestantism by persecution;
there fore, Protestantism is of divine origin.

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Catholicism and Protestantism combined failed to destroy
Infidelity; therefore, Infidelity is of divine origin.

Let us make another application:

Paganism did not succeed in destroying Catholicism; therefore,
Paganism was a false religion.

Catholicism did not succeed in destroying Protestantism;
therefore, Catholicism is a false religion.

Catholicism and Protestantism combined failed to destroy
Infidelity; therefore, both Catholicism and Protestantism are false

The Cardinal has another reason for believing the Catholic
Church of divine origin. He declares that the "Canon Law is a
creation of wisdom and justice to which no statutes at large or
imperial pandects can bear comparison;" "that the world-wide and
secular legislation of the church was of a higher character, and
that as water cannot rise above its source, the church could not,
by mere human wisdom, have corrected and perfected the imperial
law, and therefore its source must have been higher than the
sources of the world."

When Europe was the most ignorant, the Canon Law was supreme.

As a matter of fact, the good in the Canon Law was borrowed --
the bad was, for the most part, original. In my judgment, the
legislation of the Republic of the United States is in many
respects superior to that of Rome, and yet we are greatly indebted
to the Civil Law. Our legislation is superior in many particulars
to that of England, and yet we are greatly indebted to the Common
Law; but it never occurred to me that our Statutes at Large: are
divinely inspired.

If the Canon Law is, in fact, the legislation of infinite
wisdom, then it should be a perfect code. Yet, the Canon Law made
it a crime next to robbery and theft to take interest for money.
Without the right to take interest the business of the whole world
would, to a large extent, cease and the prosperity of mankind end.
There are railways enough in the United States to make six tracks
around the globe, and every mile was built with borrowed money on
which interest was paid or promised. In no other way could the
savings of many thousands have been brought together and a capital
great enough formed to construct works of such vast and continental

It was provided in this same wonderful Canon Law that a
heretic could not be a witness against a Catholic. The Catholic was
at liberty to rob and wrong his fellow-man, provided the fellow-man
was not a fellow Catholic, and in a court established by the vicar
of Christ, the man who had been robbed was not allowed to open his
mouth. A Catholic could enter the house of an unbeliever, of a Jew,
of a heretic, of a Moor, and before the eyes of the husband and
father murder his wife and children, and the father could not
pronounce in the hearing of a judge the name of the murderer.

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The world is wiser now, and the Canon Law, given to us by
infinite wisdom, has been repealed by the common sense of man.

In this divine code it was provided that to convict a cardinal
bishop, seventy-two witnesses were required; a cardinal presbyter,
forty-four; a cardinal deacon, twenty-four; a sub-deacon, acolyth,
exorcist, reader, ostiarius, seven; and in the purgation of a
bishop, twelve witnesses were invariably required; of a presbyter,
seven; of a deacon, three. These laws, in my judgment, were made,
not by God, but by the clergy.

So too in this cruel code it was provided that those who gave
aid, favor, or counsel, to excommunicated persons, should be
anathema, and that those who talked with, consulted, or sat at the
same table with or gave anything in charity to the excommunicated
should be anathema.

Is it possible that a being of infinite wisdom made
hospitality a crime? Did he say: "Whoso giveth a cup of cold water
to the excommunicated shall wear forever a garment of fire"? Were
not the laws of the Romans much better? Besides all this, under the
Canon Law the dead could be tried for heresy, and their estates
confiscated -- that is to say, their widows and orphans robbed.

The most brutal part of the common law of England is that in
relation to the rights of women -- all of which was taken from the
Corpus Juris Canonici "the law that came from a higher source than

The only cause of absolute divorce as laid down by the pious
canonists was propter infidelitatem, which was when one of the
parties became Catholic, and would not live with the other who
continued still an unbeliever. Under this divine statute, a pagan
wishing to be rid of his wife had only to join the Catholic Church,
provided she remained faithful to the religion of her fathers.
Under this divine law, a man marrying a widow was declared to be a

It would require volumes to point out the cruelties,
absurdities and inconsistencies of the Canon Law. It has been
thrown away by the world. Every civilized nation has a code of its
own, and the Canon Law is of interest only to the historian, the
antiquarian, and the enemy of theological government.

Under the Canon Law, people were convicted of being witches
and wizards, of holding intercourse with devils. Thousands perished
at the stake, having been convicted of these impossible crimes.
Under the Canon Law, there was such a crime as the suspicion of
heresy. A man or woman could he arrested, charged with being
suspected, and under this Canon Law, flowing from the intellect of
infinite wisdom, the presumption was in favor of guilt. The
suspected had to prove themselves innocent. In all civilized
courts, the presumption of innocence is the shield of the indicted,
but the Canon Law took away this shield, and put in the hand of the
priest the sword of presumptive guilt.

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If the real pope is the vicar of Christ, the true shepherd of
the sheep, this fact should be known not only to the vicar, but to
the sheep. A divinely founded and guarded church ought to know its
own shepherd, and yet the Catholic sheep have not always been
certain who the shepherd was.

The Council of Pisa, held in 1409, deposed two popes -- rivals
-- Gregory and Benedict -- that is to say, deposed the actual vicar
of Christ and the pretended. This action was taken because a
council, enlightened by the Holy Ghost, could not tell the genuine
from the counterfeit. The council then elected another vicar, whose
authority was afterwards denied. Alexander V. died, and John XXIII.
took his place; Gregory XII. insisted that he was the lawful pope;
John resigned, then he was deposed, and afterward imprisoned; then
Gregory XII. resigned, and Martin V. was elected. The whole thing
reads like the annals of a South American revolution.

The Council of Constance restored, as the Cardinal declared,
the unity of the church, and brought back the consolation of the
Holy Ghost. Before this great council John Huss appeared and
maintained his own tenets. The council declared that the church was
not bound to keep its promise with a heretic. Huss was condemned
and executed on the 6th of July, 1415. His disciple, Jerome of
Prague, recanted, but having relapsed, was put to death, May 30,
1416. This cursed council shed the blood of Huss and Jerome.

The Cardinal appeals to the author of "Ecce Homo" for the
purpose of showing that Christianity is above nature, and the
following passages, among others, are quoted:

"Who can describe that which unites men? Who has entered into
the formation of speech, which is the symbol of their union? Who
can describe exhaustively the origin of civil society? He who can
do these things can explain the origin of the Christian Church."

These passages should not have been quoted by the Cardinal.
The author of these passages simply says that the origin of the
Christian Church is no harder to find and describe than that which
unites men -- than that which has entered into the formation of
speech, the symbol of their union -- no harder to describe than the
origin of civil society -- because he says that one who can
describe these can describe the other.

Certainly none of these things are above nature. We do not
need the assistance of the Holy Ghost in these matters. We know
that men are united by common interests, common purposes, common
danger -- by race, climate and education. It is no more wonderful
that people live in families, tribes, communities and nations, than
that birds, ants and bees live in flocks and swarms.

If we know anything, we know that language is natural -- that
it is a physical science. But if we take the ground occupied by the
Cardinal, then we insist that everything that cannot be accounted
for by man, is supernatural. Let me ask, by what man? What man must
we take as the standard? Cosmas or Humboldt, St. Irenaeus or
Darwin? If everything that we cannot account for is above nature,
then ignorance is the test of the supernatural. The man who is

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mentally honest, stops where his knowledge stops. At that point he
says that he does not know. Such a man is a philosopher. Then the
theologian steps forward, denounces the modesty of the philosopher
as blasphemy, and proceeds to tell what is beyond the horizon of
the human intellect.

Could a savage account for the telegraph, or the telephone, by
natural causes? How would he account for these wonders? He would
account for them precisely as the Cardinal accounts for the
Catholic Church.

Belonging to no rival church, I have not the slightest
interest in the primacy of Leo XIII., and yet it is to be regretted
that this primacy rests upon such a narrow and insecure foundation.

The Cardinal says that "it will appear almost certain that the
original Greek of St. Irenreus, which is unfortunately lost,
contained either  -a -eo*,;a, (*) or some inflection of "xru"o" *
(* GREEK - computer will not generate Greek characters.) which
signifies primacy."

From this it appears that the primacy of the Bishop of Rome
rests on some "inflection" of a Greek word -- and that this
supposed inflection was in a letter supposed to have been written
by St. Irenaeus, which has certainly been lost. Is it possible that
the vast fabric of papal power has this, and only this, for its
foundation? To this "inflection" has it come at last?

The Cardinal's case depends upon the intelligence and veracity
of his witnesses. The Fathers of the church were utterly incapable
of examining a question of fact. They were all believers in the
miraculous. The same is true of the apostles. If St. John was the
author of the Apocalypse, he was undoubtedly insane, If Polycarp
said the things attributed to him by Catholic writers, he was
certainly in the condition of his master. What is the testimony of
St. John worth in the light of the following? "Cerinthus, the
heretic, was in a bathhouse. St. John and another Christian were
about to enter. St. John cried out: 'Let us run away, lest the
house fall upon us while the enemy of truth is in it.'" Is it
possible that St. John thought that God would kill two eminent
Christians for the purpose of getting even with one heretic?

Let us see who Polycarp was. He seems to have been a prototype
of the Catholic Church, as will be seen from the following
statement concerning this Father: "When any heretical doctrine was
spoken in his presence he would stop his ears." After this, there
can be no question of his orthodoxy. It is claimed that Polycarp
was a martyr -- that a spear was run through his body, and that
from the wound his soul, in the shape of a bird, flew away. The
history of his death is just as true as the history of his life.

Irenaeus, another witness, took the ground that there was to
be a millennium -- a thousand years of enjoyment in which celibacy
would not be the highest form of virtue. If he is called as a
witness for the purpose of establishing the divine origin of the
church, and if one of his "inflections" is the basis of papal
supremacy, is the Cardinal also willing to take his testimony as to
the nature of the millennium?

Bank of Wisdom
Box 926, Louisville, KY 40201


All the Fathers were infinitely credulous. Every one of them
believed, not only in the miracles said to have been wrought by
Christ, by the apostles, and by other Christians, but every one of
them believed in the Pagan miracles. All of these Fathers were
familiar with wonders and impossibilities. Nothing was so common
with them as to work miracles, and on many occasions they not only
cured diseases, not only reversed the order of nature, but
succeeded in raising the dead.

It is very hard, indeed, to prove what the apostles said, or
what the Fathers of the church wrote. There were many centuries
filled with forgeries -- many generations in which the cunning
hands of ecclesiastics erased, obliterated or interpolated the
records of the past -- during which they invented books, invented
authors, and quoted from works that never existed.

The testimony of the "Fathers" is without the slightest value.
They believed everything -- they examined nothing. They received as
a waste-basket receives. Whoever accepts their testimony will
exclaim with the Cardinal: "Happily, men are not saved by logic,"

Robert G. Ingersoll.

****     ****

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The Bank of Wisdom Inc. is a collection of the most thoughtful,
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Biographies and writings of famous persons, and especially of our
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religion. all these subjects, and more, will be made available to
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The Bank of Wisdom is always looking for more of these old,
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Reproducible Electronic Publishing can defeat censorship.

Bank of WisdomThe Bank of Wisdom is a collection of the most thoughtful, scholarly and factual books. These computer books are reprints of suppressed books and will cover American and world history; the Biographies and writings of famous persons, and especially of our nations Founding Fathers. They will include philosophy and religion. all these subjects, and more, will be made available to the public in electronic form, easily copied and distributed, so that America can again become what its Founders intended --

The Free Market-Place of Ideas.

The Bank of Wisdom is always looking for more of these old, hidden, suppressed and forgotten books that contain needed facts and information for today. If you have such books please contact us, we need to give them back to America.

Bank of Wisdom
Box 926
Louisville, KY 40201