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Ch. 2: Political Machinery of the Papal Power

That the Holy Catholic Church is artfully constituted to subjugate all secular and ecclesiastical power under its authority, and that its object is not to advance the interests of moral goodness, but to acquire temporal dominion, must be admitted by every one that fully comprehends the principles upon which its religious Orders are organized. These Orders were founded by Catholic saints and Bishops. They have been confirmed by Popes and Councils. And though they have been suppressed, on account of their corrupt tendency and political intrigues, in kingdom after kingdom, yet in pontifical bulls they have been defended as being the most useful and pious class of the Catholic community. They may therefore be regarded as having been authoratively acknowledged to be constituted in harmony with the principles and designs of the Catholic Church. In fact they form the body of its organization, as the Pope does its head, and the Councils do its members.

In investigating the intrinsic nature of these orders, we are naturally led back to that period of their history which allowed them an unembarrassed development. As they are sanctioned by a church which claims the attribute of infallibility, whatever changes the advance of civilization has effected in them, must be regarded as a mere prudent accommodation to existing circumstances, to be tolerated no longer than they are imperative. If in 1900 the Catholic Church gain the supremacy in the United States which she hopes to gain, she will restore the despotism and superstition which characterized her domination during the dark ages. Pope Gregory XVI. in his Encyclical Epistle of 1832, says: "Ever bearing in mind, the universal church suffers from every novelty, as well as the admonition of Pope St. Agatho, that from what has been regularly defined nothing can be taken away—no innovation introduced there, no addition made, but that it must be preserved untouched as to words and meaning."

The religious Orders consist of anchorites, monks, nuns and knights. The anchorites in general lived separately, but sometimes in communities. The nuns lived in perpetual solitude, as also did the monks, with the exception of such as devoted themselves to the administration of the public affairs of the church. The knights were soldiers of the cross, instituted to defend and propagate the Romish faith by the force of arms. The orders differed from one another chiefly in the style of their dress, in degrees of rigidness of discipline, and in the assumption of additional vows. They all assumed the vow of absolute poverty, of perpetual celibacy, and of unconditional obedience to the rules of their Order, and to the commands of their superior. Each member was subject to the absolute authority of his superior, who resided in the monastery; each superior to the absolute authority of his general, who resided at Rome, and each general to the absolute authority of the Pope, who was the head and the chief engineer of the whole machine. By means of this machinery the monarchical power of the Pope has been, and is still, although the machinery in some places is somewhat damaged, exerted in every kingdom, in every republic, in every city, and over every Catholic mind in Christendom.

When a novice assumed the monastic vows, he became the absolute property, or chattel, of the institution which he entered, as irreversibly as if he had signed, sealed, and delivered a deed conveying to it his soul and body. By this act of piety he yielded up his personal freedom, and became ironed with the shackles of an eternal slavery. A culprit might hope for liberty when his time would expire, but the recluse could only expect disenthralment by death. If disappointed in finding the holiness which he fancied to hallow the place, or if, relieved of the misanthropic gloom, the isolating superstition, or the delusive representations which had induced him to enter the monastic walls, he should escape, he was pursued, and if captured remanded back by the civil authorities to the cold solitude of his prison house. Not only have these cruel deeds been perpetrated in the dark ages, but in this age of civilization—not only in despotic Europe, but in free America. True, the civil authority in. Protestant countries has not interfered, but Catholic ingenuity has discovered means equally efficacious. How many escaped nuns have unaccountably disappeared from society? What infamous means have Catholic priests adopted to fill their nunneries? A young girl in Baltimore, who had just passed her sixteenth year, was carried to a nunnery, and although her mother and relatives invoked the interposition of the civil authorities, yet they were unable to reclaim her, because she had arrived at age. Who that has any conception of the numerous applications of distracted mothers at the police station-houses of some of our large cities, for their children, who have mysteriously disappeared; or that has read the account recently published in the New York papers, (of the recovery of the body of a young female who had been drowned, when in one day eight mothers called at the dead-house to see if the corpse was not that of a daughter whom each had missed), can avoid believing that if the nunneries were open to public inspection, some of these mysteries might be resolved?

After the ceremonies were concluded which sepulchred the novice forever in his monastic cloister, his thoughts, feelings, and desires were henceforth to be regulated, not by the operations of the brain, but by the rules of his Order. The most secret recesses of his mind were to be opened to the inspection of his confessor. For the intrusion of a natural thought he was liable to the infliction of the severest penalty; and the voice of the superior was the only reason, the only conscience, the only instinct he was at liberty to obey. Subjected to a systematic course of rigid discipline adapted to paralyze reason, suppress conscience and stifle instinct, he became a passionless, soulless, mechanical automaton, as well formed to bless, pray and preach, as to curse, forge and murder, and equally ready to do either at the mandate of his superior.

When the superstition of the masses, the ignorance of princes, the ambition of politicians, and the intrigues of the priesthood had favored or cultivated the growth of Catholicism until it was matured into a colossal monarchy, it was discovered that while its centre was in Rome, its branches extended to every section of Christendom. Its monasteries conveniently and strategetically located in different parts of the world, its confessors penetrating the secret designs and wishes of statesmen and princes, its spiritual advisers scrutinizing the conduct of opulent and distinguished personagas, its spies, under the license of Papal indulgences, professing all opinions, and entering all associations and societies, and its agents in constant communication with their superiors, their superiors with their generals, and their generals with the Pope, and all acting in concert in every part of Christendom toward the accomplishment of one grand design; the See of Rome became the receptacle of accurate accounts of the condition, events and characters of the various sections of the globe, and was capable of improving every occurrence to its best advantage, and of commanding in its support the power of every locality. As nothing was too great to transcend its aspirations, so nothing was too minute to escape its scrutiny. Monarchs, legislators, judges, jurists, statesmen, generals, bankers, merchants, actors, schools, colleges, men, women, children—all were objects which its spiritual machinery sought to control. Invisible, but omniscient, the Pope was seen nowhere, while his power was felt everywhere. He touched the secret springs of his machinery and the world was roused to arms or silenced to submission; kings were astounded with applauding subjects, or sat powerless on their thrones; armies rushed to battle or grounded their arms; statesmen were blasted, none could tell for what crime; miscreants were ennobled, none could tell for what virtue; men's business or domestic affairs were disarranged, none could tell for what cause. So sudden, secret and terrible were the revolutions wrought in the fate of individuals and nations, that they seemed like the vengeful interposition of Providence, and the mystery which concealed the hidden cause led the ignorant and stupefied world to interpret them, under the instruction of a crafty priesthood, as the manifestations of divine wrath. When we calmly consider the disposition of the Catholic organization, it seems that all the inventions of ancient tyranny were condensed in it with improved malignancy. The ambition of Caesar, which hurried him on to the destruction of the liberties of his country, while he imagined the cold hand of his departed mother clasped his heart; the jealousy of Commodus, who never spared what he could suspect; the cruelty of Mithridates, who fed on poison to escape the secret revenge of his injured subjects; the inhumanity of Caligula, who wished the world had but one neck, that he might cut off its disobedient head at one blow, are, indeed, terrible examples of despotism, but they were limited to one nation, and left reason and conscience unshackled. But in the Papal organization we find a scrutiny which penetrated all secrets, a despotism that ironed reason and conscience, an ambition that grasped heaven and earth, a malignity that blasted for time and eternity—a policy in which all the elements of bigotry, terror, malice, duplicity and obduracy were incorporated in their most frightful proportion. Before this conception we might well shudder, for its irons are secretly manacling our own limbs. Its triumphs, written in the blood of the millions it has butchered, commemorated by the monuments of ecclesiastical rubbish which it has erected, seen in the gloom of superstition it has cast upon the world, utter a solemn admonition to the freemen of America. Think not that the present attainment in civilization is proof against this all-blasting tree, whose sap is poison and whose fruit is death. Think of Egyptian, Asiatic, Grecian civilization, and tremble lest their fate become your own. Let not confidence beget an apathy that may close the eye of vigilance, or enervate the powers of resistance. Listen to Pope Pius IX. when he declares that "the Catholic religion, with its rights, ought to be exclusively dominant, in such sort that every other worship shall be banished and interdicted." Listen to Father Hecker, who says: "The Catholic Church now numbers one-third of the American population, and if its membership increase for the next thirty years, as it has for the thirty years past, in 1900 Rome will have a majority, and be bound to take the country and keep it." Read the statistics and learn the fearful probability of the fulfillment of Hecker's prophesy. Then dream no more that your liberties are safe.