Nature has organized man for the conjugal union. She has endowed him with powers adapted to its requirements; with passions that aspire after its pleasures and benefits, and with sensibilities that can be gratified only by the performance of its obligations. By the reciprocal relations, and the amiable intercourse which it establishes between the sexes, it furnishes an attractive means of mutual improvement, refining the grossness of the sensual propensities, and developing the noblest graces of the human character. By blending masculine boldness with feminine delicacy, it takes rudeness from the one, and imparts energy to the other; and thus contributes, in an eminent degree, to the formation of that equanimity of character which is the happy medium between extremes, and of that agreeable association of strength and urbanity which is best fitted to cope with the difficulties incident to life.
By an alliance of mutual affection and interests for life, it secures their highest development, and the most complete and undisturbed enjoyment of their benefits. It identifies the honor and interests of parents and children, securing affectionate protectors for helpless infancy, faithful guardians for inexperienced youth, and interested tutors for fitting the rising generation for the useful and noble stations of society; and while it thus provides for children, it rewards the solicitude of parents with a shelter in adversity, a support in declining age, and a name in posterity.
But while such are the inducements of marriage, yet a regard to personal interest and happiness might deter a considerate person from assuming its obligations, when either a suitable companion has not been found, or pecuniary resources are insufficient to meet the domestic demands in a satisfactory manner. Pecuniary competency and similarity of taste and disposition are requisites indispensable to connubial felicity. Without them marriage would be a source of privation, difficulty and alienation; and family a painful encumbrance. When, therefore, fortune has withheld these essentials of conjugal happiness, celibacy, in either sex, is more honorable than matrimony.
But to stifle the instincts that prompt to this union, and ungraciously to spurn the incalculable benefits it proffers, unrestrained by any prudential consideration, is to violate, without motive, the laws of human happiness, and neglect the fulfilment of the most important design of the organism of man. An act so unnatural is, perhaps, seldom contemplated, except under extreme mental depression, or under the singular delusions of which religious fanaticism is so prolific. Disappointed love, reverses of fortune, or the hope of becoming insensible to the wants of humanity by acquiring supernatural perfection, has sometimes induced the weak and superstitious to assume the monastic vow of perpetual celibacy. The motive of such conduct has always originated in emotion; and though emotion is always sincere, it is always fluctuating. A cloud that obscures the sun and casts a gloom over earth, soon passes away, leaving the former in its natural brightness, and the latter in its usual attractiveness. Not less ephemeral is the mental gloom which adversity or superstition may throw over the human mind. When the energies of acquisitiveness have been prostrated by repeated pecuniary misfortunes; when the warmth of ambition has been chilled by the wounds of reputation; when the currents of love have been frozen by the cold breath of disappointment; the desolated heart may feel that its struggle for subsistence is vain, that its hopes of distinction have perished, and that its ties of love are broken forever. But these despondent sensations are ephemeral; they are the results of a temporary repose of passions which are rooted in the constitution of our nature, and which can be destroyed only with our being. Though despair may for a time throw a wintry gloom over the mind, yet hope will again bud and bloom, avarice will again sigh for wealth, ambition will again thirst for distinction, love will again yearn for companionship, and every passion resuming its natural energy will again create the emotions for which it was organized, and compel us to seek its appropriate gratification in the social, conjugal, or political relations which subsist in society.
This revulsion is inevitable. It is as certain as the subsidence of a tempestuous torrent after having exhausted its energy, into its ordinary peaceful roll. As all emotions are ephemeral, so must be all the vows and resolutions which they generate. Each day brings with it new and unexpected events, which abrogate or modify the emotions and resolves which the circumstances of the preceding day had suggested; nay, more, the antithetical emotions thus created are always proportionally strong to those which they supplant. Hence vows assumed by any person under extraordinary mental excitement, will be repudiated when he is under extraordinary mental depression; and obligations assumed under either of these conditions of mind, will be found inconsistent with the ordinary obligations of life, when that usual current of thought and emotion shall set in, which always flows in harmony with human reason, philosophy and happiness, and the regular course of things. If when this condition shall supervene; if when hope shall succeed to despair, and reason and reflection to impulse and fanaticism, and when all the passions and powers of our nature shall resume their natural operation—if then, we shall have placed ourselves by any mistake, however innocently committed, in a situation where we cannot respond to the demands of our nature, we will find that we have doomed ourselves to perpetual misery.
Nor will any degree of purity or sanctity of motive arrest the evils of mistaken conduct. Nature is inexorable; she inflicts punishment on the violators of her laws without regard to the motives by which they have been actuated. She admits no apology; she knows no forgiveness. Neither tears nor penitence can mitigate her vengeance; neither pleas of conscientious motives, nor of ignorance of her ordinations, can soften the rigor of her justice. Although the desire of perfection is a natural and noble one, yet she has established laws by which alone it is to be obtained, and punishes the aggressors of them with deformity and imbecility. These laws are intelligible, Human perfection clearly comprehends the perfect development of all the physical, mental and moral powers of man. Exercise is the only means by which these faculties can be developed. The system of exercise adapted to the attainment of this end must embrace a judicious employment of every acuity belonging to the human organism; allowing none to depreciate by indolence; none to become enervated by incessant or overstrained exertion; but to maintain all in that natural and reasonable condition in which, while they are alternately relieved they are mutually strengthened. By the discipline of such a system of exercise knowledge will gradually become the foundation of reason, judgment the guide of fancy, conscience the controller of the passions, the vital or gains the recuperator of the physical and mental faculties; a healthy reciprocity and modifying action will be maintained between all the powers, and that equilibrium engendered which is peace; that condensation which is energy; and that perfection which is essential to genius.
The monastic vow of perpetual celibacy is clearly unfavorable to this general exercise of the powers of human nature. It permits the exercise of only a limited number of these powers, and thereby obtrudes an insuperable obstacle to the full development of the human character. It stimulates those which it cultivates to incessant activity, and thereby distorts and deforms their organisms by an abnormal development. It fetters in inactivity the bulk of the human faculties, and thereby lessens the number and variety of the natural sources of the pleasures of life. It reduces activity in the vital system, and thereby saps the fundamental strength of the whole organization, engendering those physical and moral diseases, which render life joyless, and death often the only remedy. It prohibits the exercise of those faculties by which alone the design of the human organism can be accomplished, and permits but a few of them to be exercised in order to attain the highest degree of perfection. It would dry up the springs of a river, in order to increase the volume of its current; it would weaken the foundation of an edifice, in order to protect it against the shocks of earthquakes. But whether these ecclesiastical absurdities are more insane than idiotical, we respectfully submit to the acumen of the Ecumenical Council, whenever it shall resume its session at Home.
The monastic vow of celibacy, is as weak in its fundamental principles, as it is absurd in its discipline. It is founded on the ascetic delusion, that the sensual passions are evils; and that human perfection and happiness consist in the attainment of a passive state of mind, untroubled by desire, thought or action. But this is a Brahminical absurdity, rusted to its core by the abrasion of ages. Even if the propensities were evils, yet wisdom would teach us that as they are a result of our organism, they should be regulated; especially if by a judicious regulation, they can be made to administer to the pleasures of existence. But they are not evils; on the contrary, they are unmeasurable benefits. If they are ever tormentors, it is when prudence has not regulated their gratification, or when abuse has made their cravings unnatural. If they are ever sources of disease, it is when they are exercised in violation of the laws of human nature. If they ever become impotent in the production of pleasure, it is when their possessors have become gluttons, sots, debauchees, misers, or some similar compound of human depravity. But when the animal passions are refined by knowledge, chastened by virtue, directed by reason, governed by conscience, and exercised with a considerate regard to the integrity of the other powers, they become sources of pleasure and vigor, incentives to industry and enterprise, and eminently contribute towards the advancement of the perfection and happiness of our being.
Another fundamental error of the vow of celibacy, is the delusion that man may by means of solitude and resolution arrest the natural promptings of the propensities. The propensities are constituted by nature essential portions of our being; and accordingly we must carry them with us into whatever solitude we may retire; and as their emotions are naturally irrepressible, their powers must be felt under whatever obligation we may assume. Vows, resolutions and solitude are as incapable of arresting the progress of the passions, as they are of stopping the pulsations of the heart. Amid the deepest silence and solitude they will still yearn for expression, and yearn the more the deeper is the stillness. Amid the bustle and tumult of the world they are excited by innumerable different objects; their attention is divided among a variety of attractions; and each finds its appropriate gratification constantly offered to its taste. But in solitude there is every thing to concentrate, and nothing to divide their power; every thing to inflame, and nothing to appease their appetites; and consequently, under such circumstances, their powers must be the most ungovernable, and the torments of their craving the most unsupportable.
The foregoing observations were made on the presumption, that the vow of perpetual chastity was assumed by the Catholic orders with sincere intentions of conforming to its requirements; but this was not always the case. Whatever sincerity or sanctity may have mingled, in some cases, with the motives that prompted its assumption, neither monks nor nuns, nor priests, nor bishops, nor popes, have in general furnished a reasonable amount of evidence in favor of their chastity.
The natural and efficient regulator of the animal passions is marriage. The conjugal union, judiciously formed, is invaluable to man, but almost indispensable to woman. Her organization preeminently qualifies her for its conditions and relations. The sensitiveness peculiar to her nervous system, obliges her to shrink from the rude battle of public life; her weakness instructs her in the importance of placing herself under the guardianship of the more muscular power of man, which is noblest employed when it best protects the weak; and her characteristic instincts and capacities lead her to seek her chief employment and happiness in the modest retirement of domestic life, where she finds the temple of which she alone is priestess; the idols which excite her purest devotion; the altars on which she lavishes her choicest gifts; and where, in administering her sacred profession, in dispensing instruction to her children, care to her household, and consolation to the sick and dying, her true dignity and beauty acquires the deepest enchantment. Whatever the mental and personal charms of a female may be, the true excellence of her character can never be seen or appreciated, except in the practice of the amiable virtues which constitute the wife and the mother. This, woman knows; this she feels; and to obtain this end the rights of her nature, and the interests of society, concur in authorizing her to adopt every available means. Yet, notwithstanding these plain facts, the Catholic Church has the unpardonable presumption to pronounce a curse on her, if she should prefer a union so essential to her happiness and usefulness to a state of perpetual virginity. Every time her common sense teaches her to say that marriage is preferable to virginity, this religious monster, in the name of the Holy Trinity and all the saints and angels, answers "Let her be accursed." Every time her nature prompts her to say, that, to be joined in marriage is more blessed than to remain in a state of virginity, this monster in horror at the profane and unorthodox expressions, responds, "Let her be accursed." Hear it from the lips of the holy mother herself:
"Whosoever shall say, that the church could not institute impediments annulling marriage, or that in instituting them she has erred, let him be accursed."
"Whosoever shall say, that the marriage state is preferable to a state of virginity, or celibacy, or that it is not more blessed to remain in a state of virginity or celibacy, than to be joined in matrimony, let him be accursed."
"Whosoever shall affirm, that matrimonial causes do not belong to the ecclesiastical judges, let him be accursed." ( Canon of the Council of Trent).
Atrocious as is this decree, it expresses not the full measure of Catholic arrogance. For while with palpable inconsistency, the church solemnizes among Catholics the rites which she anathematizes them for prefer-ing, she declares that all those whose marriage ceremonies have not been celebrated according to her fantastic requirements, are living in a state of "shameful concubinage." It would seem that by consummating the union which she holds men and women accursed for desiring, she incurs on her own soul the curse she pronounces on others. She requires no fee for her matrimonial services, but accepts marriage presents, which may perhaps have softened her malignity to this product of civilization with regard to Catholics; but non-Catholics who do not conciliate her holy aversion to it by such presents, she pronounces them profligates, their wives prostitutes, and their children bastards. Hear this from the lips of Pope Pius IX.
"Marriage cannot be given, unless there be, one and at the same time a sacrament, consequently that any other union between man and woman among Christians, made in virtue of what civil law soever, is nothing else than a shameful and miserable concubinage, so often condemned by the church." (Allocution on the State of Affairs in New Grenada ).
So in the judgment of the present Pope, the non-Catholics in the United States consist of strumpets and bastards. According to the principles of the Catholic Church, thus officially enunciated, every person, the marriage rites of whose parents have not been performed by a Catholic priest, is an illegitimate offspring divested of all legal right to inherit property of his parents. If the church shall ever gain in America the numerical strength for which she is striving, what will be the consequence to non-Catholics? Will she declare them legitimate, or respect their property titles? Have not her priests made this land ring with the assertion, that Infidels and Protestants have no right where Catholicism is triumphant.
But who is she that has the audacity to proclaim such principles? A church, which has been dripping with the blood of innocence for ages, yet is thirsting for more. Who are they that prate about chastity? A body of the most corrupt, unprincipled, and licentious priests that ever disgraced the name of religion. The cold dissoluteness of the Catholic orders is not only undeniable, but it is even frightful. Had history been silent, and the real conduct of Catholic priests, and the interior of Catholic nunneries remained a profound secret, yet, an ordinary knowledge of human nature would have warranted the suspicion that the priests were not models of chastity, nor the nunneries asylums of innocence. But history has not been silent; she has spoken distinctly, and spoken often. A nun escaped from her prison-house, or a priest not yet steeled by hypocrisy to all the pleadings of virtue, or who was disgusted beyond endurance at the corruption that festers in the heart of the Catholic Church, has furnished history with startling records, and raised the sacred veil, that the superstitious might behold the horrible compound of duplicity, lust, and murder which secretly pollutes the interior of the institutions which they reverence. But these fitful revelations, although appealing to the noblest sympathies of mankind, have seldom produced an effect equal to the exigency. Like bursts of unexpected thunder, they have startled for a moment, but soon rumbled into silence and forgetfulness.
Such is the general infatuation, that people seldom question that around which the sanctions of religion are thrown, and when they do the doubt is soon obliterated. They will reverently bow to a priest without thinking it is possible that under the guise of his chaste and holy profession, avarice, lust and murder may reign supreme. They will heedlessly pass a nunnery without thinking how many broken hearts may there be hopelessly imprisoned; how many gifted and accomplished females may there be pining in anguish and despair, who, while they sought an abode of unsullied chastity, found themselves entrapped in a den of infamy, to be profaned by holy confessors! But reluctantly as charity would believe these statements, they are substantiated beyond the possibility of doubt or denial, by the records of Catholic authority of the highest order.
An insight into the mysteries of Catholicism, and the mode by which priests conceal from publicity their acts of seduction and adultery, may be learned from the following extract from Hogan's "Auricular Confession." "The secular orders," says he? "are composed chiefly of parish priests and their curates, whose duty it is to hear their parishioners. The orders of regulars are composed of friars, who are subdivided into several minor orders, and who have no particular duties to discharge, unless especially deputed to do so by the bishop, or the deputy of the diocese into which they may be divided. It is so managed by the secular priests, that whenever they fail in seducing their penitents, and are detected by them that one of those friars shall immediately be at hand to hear the confessions of all such females, and forgive their sins, on condition that they shall never reveal to moral being the thoughtless peccadillos of their parish priest, who for the moment forgot himself, and whose tears of penitence now moisten the ground on which he walks." (Auric. Confess, vol. ii. p. 168).
The adaptation of the confessional to prepare the way for seduction and adultery may be comprehended by the following extract from the "Synopsis of Popery" by the same author. "Do any of these families," asks he, "know the questions which a priest puts to their families at the confessional? Do husbands know the questions which priests put to their wives at the confession?.... Fathers, mothers, guardians and husbands fancy to yourself the most indelicate, immodest, libidinous questions which the most immoral and profligate mind can conceive,—fancy those ideas put into plain language, and that by way of questions and answers, and you will then have a faint conception of the conversation which takes place between a priest and your hitheto pure daughter. If after two or three examinations, in that sacred tribunal, they still continue virtuous, they are rare examples." (Synopsis, p. 170, 171).
While the Catholic Church imposes on the priests and monks the vow of celibacy, it accords them the privilege of acting licentiously with impunity. In the life of Bishop Scipio de Ricci, written by an eminent Catholic, the practice of the church in allowing bishops and priests to keep concubines, while it forbids them to marry under pain of excommunication, is asserted and defended. The Council of Toledo passed a canon forbidding priests to keep more than one concubine in public. William Hogan asserts that every priest keeps a concubine, and every teacher in a school attached to a Catholic nunnery, has been seduced by her teacher. Chamancis says: "The adultery, obscenity and impiety of the priests are beyond description." St. Chrysostom thinks the number of them that will be saved, bears a very small proportion to those who will be damned. Cardinal Conpaggio asserts that "the priest who marries commits a more grievous sin than if he kept many concubines." Pope Paul protected houses of ill-fame, and acquired great riches by selling them licenses. The Council of Augsburg ordered that all suspected females should be driven by whips from the dwellings of the clergy, and have their hair cut off. A monk relates that he once made a contract with the Devil that if he would cease to fill his mind with lascivious ideas, he would omit some prayers to the saints whose pictures decorated the walls of his cloister, but upon communicating the substance of the agreement to the bishop, he was informed by him, that "rather than abstain from adoring Christ and mother in their holy images it would be better to enter every brothel and visit every prostitute in the city." Richard of England replied to Fulk Nuelly, the legate of Pope Innocent III., commissioned to blow the trumpet of another crusade: "You advise me to dismiss my three daughters, Pride, Avarice and Incontinence. I bequeath them to the most deserving: my pride to the Knights Templars; my avarice to the monks of Ciste; and, my incontinence to the prelates." Pope John XXIII, was deposed by the Council of Constance for having committed seventy different sorts of crimes, among the number of which was illicit commerce with three hundred nuns. The Trappists, a monkish order of highway robbers, were constantly employed in abducting females, confining them in their monastery, and perpetrating the most atrocious rapes. At the Council of Canterbury King Edgar declared that the houses of the clergy were nothing but brothels, Petrarch laments over the fact that the clergy at the papal court were shamefully licentious. Cardinals lived openly with their concubines; and it became a question of etiquette whether a bishop's concubine should not, at the court of His Holiness, precede other ladies. Llorente, chief secretary of the Spanish Inquisition in 1789, relates that the inquisitors having granted permission to the females of a certain locality to denounce their guilty confessors, the number of priests denounced was so great that thirty secretaries were employed for sixty days in taking down depositions, and that the profligacy of the clergy so far exceeded all calculation that it was concluded to suspend investigation, and to destroy the records of the proceedings. The extent and depth of clerical depravity can never be divulged by those who know it, for St. Bernard asserts that "Bishops and priests commit acts in private which it would be scandalous to express."
From nunneries governed and visited by priests of such a character, what is the logical inference? Chamancis, an unimpeachable Catholic authority, answers this question when he says: "To veil a woman in these convents is synonymous to prostituting her." The seventh General Council of Nice prohibited the erection of double convents for the accommodation of both sexes; but the prohibition was not regarded. In Europe every nunnery has attached to it a foundling asylum; in the United States, a grave-yard. Llorente relates a curious account of Aquida, an abbess of a Carmelite nunnery at Liemo. It appears that this female had, on several occasions, professed to have become pregnant with stones, and to have retired for the purpose of giving them birth. She had often exhibited her miraculous progeny to the credulous, and pretended to be enabled, by their divine nature, to cure diseases with them. Her success in working miracles by them procured for her the reputation of a saint. But unfortunate for her eventual canonization, a rumor became current that instead of having given birth to stones, she had given birth to children, and strangled them; and that she had obliged the holy nuns under her supervision to practise the same iniquity. The informant, an inmate of the nunnery, pointed out the place where the murdered babes were buried; and subsequent excavation revealed the horrible fact, that half the tale of blood had not been told.
The following additional facts, related by William Hogan, as having transpired under his personal cognizance, afford further confirmative proof of the general character of priests and nuns, and that it remains as it has always been, in all countries, and at all periods of civilization:
"The Roman Catholics of Albany," says he, "had, about three years previous to my coming among them, three Irish priests among them, occasionally preaching, but always hearing confessions.... As soon as I got settled in Albany I had, of course, to attend to the duty of auricular confession, and in less than two months found that the priests, during the time they were there, were the fathers of between sixty and one hundred children, besides having debauched many who had left the place previous to their confinement." (Auricular Confession, p. 46).
"A short time previous to my coming to this country, and soon after my being installed as confessor in the Romish Church, I became intimately acquainted with a family of great respectability. This family consisted of a widowed father and two daughters, and never in my life have I met with more interesting young ladies than the daughters were.... In less than two months after my first visit to this family, at their peaceful and respectable breakfast table, I observed the chair which had been usually occupied by the elder of the two ladies occupied by the younger, and that of the latter to be vacant. I inquired the cause, and was informed by the father that he had just accompanied her to the coach, which had left that morning for Dublin, and that she went on a visit to the Rev. B. K. It seems that both of the daughters of whom I have spoken went to the school attached to the nunnery of the city of ———. The confessor whose duty it was to hear the duty of the pupils of the institute, was one Rev. B. K., a friar of the Franciscan order, who, as soon as his plans were properly laid, and circumstances rendered them ripe for execution, seduced the elder lady; and finding the fact could no longer be concealed, arranged matters with a Dublin friend.... She was confined at the house of his friend, and her illicit offspring given to the managers of the foundling hospital in Dublin.... No sooner was this elder lady provided for, than this incarnate demon, B. K., commenced the seduction of the younger lady. He succeeded, and ruined her too. But there was no difficulty in providing for them. They both became nuns..... I saw them in the convent at Mount Benedict. They were great favorites of Bishop Fenton. They were spoken of by some of the females of Boston as models of piety." (Auricular Confession, p. 100-106).
"Soon after my arrival in Philadelphia,... a Roman Catholic priest by the name of O. S. called on me, and showed me letters of recommendation which he had from Bishop T., of Ireland, and countersigned by the Roman Catholic bishop of New York, to Bishop England, of South Carolina.... He arrived at Charleston, and was well received by Bishop England. There lived in the parish to which this reverend confessor was appointed, a gentleman of respectability and wealth. Bishop England supplied this new missionary with letters of strong recommendation to this gentleman, advising him to place his children under his charge, assuring him they would be brought up in the fear of God and love of religion.... The Rev. Popish wretch seduced the eldest daughter of his benefactor, and the father becoming aware of the fact, armed himself with a case of pistols, and determined to shoot the seducer. But there was in the house a good Catholic servant [a spy] who advised the seducer to fly. He soon arrived in Charleston; the right reverend bishop understood his case, advised him to go to confession, and absolved him from his sins;... sent him on his way to New York.... His victim after a little time, having given birth to a fine boy, goes to confession herself, and sends the child of sin to the Sisters of Charity residing in ———, to be taken care of as a nullius filius. As soon as the child was able to walk a Roman Catholic lady adopted it as her own. The real mother of the child soon removed to the city of ———, told the whole transaction to the Roman Catholic bishop of ———, who knowing that she had a handsome property, introduced her to a highly respectable Protestant gentleman, who soon married her. He (the bishop ) soon after introduced the gentleman to the Sisters of Charity who had provided for the illicit offspring of the priest, concealing its parentage, and representing it as having no father living. The gentleman was pleased with the boy, and the holy Bishop finally prevailed on him and his wife to adopt it as his own." (Auric. Confess, p. 111-115).
When quite young and just emerging from childhood, I became acquainted with a Protestant family, residing in the neighborhood of my birthplace. It consisted of a mother (a widow), and three interesting children, two sons and one daughter.... In the course of time the sons grew up, and their guardian in compliance with their wishes, and to gratify their ambition, procured them commissions in the army.... As soon as the sons left to join their respective regiments, which were then on the Continent, the mother and daughter were much alone.... There was then in the neighborhood only twenty miles from this family, a nunnery of the order of Jesuits. To this nunnery was attached a school superintended by the nuns of that order.... The mother yielded, in this case, to the malign influence of fashion;... sent her beautiful daughter, her earthly treasure, to the school of these nuns.... Soon after the daughter was sent to school, I entered the college of Manooth as a theological student, and in due time was ordained a Catholic priest.
An interval of some years passed.... There was a large party given, at which among others I happened to be present; and there meeting with my friends and interchanging the usual courtesies on such occasions, she sportingly, as I then imagined, asked me whether I would preach her reception sermon, as she intended becoming a nun and taking the veil.... I heard no more of the affair until about two months, when I received a note from her designating the chapel in which she expected my services.... On the reception of my friend's note a cold chill crept over me, I anticipated and trembled, and felt there must be foul play....
Having no connection with the convent in which she was immured, I did not see her for three months following. At the expiration of that time one of the lay sisters delivered me a note.... I found my young friend wished to see me on something important I of course lost no time in calling on her, and being a priest, I was immediately admitted; but never have I forgotten, never can I forget, the melancholy picture of lost beauty and fallen humanity which met my astonished gaze in the person of my once beautiful and virtuous friend.... 'I sent for you, my friend, to see you once before my death..... I am in the family-way and must die.'
He then proceeds to relate, that in the course of a conversation which ensued he learned from the nun that she had been seduced by her confessor, (which fact precluded any appeal or redress), and that the lady abbess had proposed to procure an abortion, but that an inmate had informed her that the medicine which the lady abbess would give would contain poison. He promised to renew his visit within a few days; he did so, but the foul deed was done.
Fiends! Monsters! Does not the blood curdle in every vein at such recitals? Does not man and woman blush at their dishonored nature? Is there a God that can allow the use of his name to sanction such execrable depravity; that can look with indifference on women avowing chastity in his name in order to allure the purest of their sex to destruction; or that can be insensible to the imprecations of injured innocence, profaned in holy houses? Is God a fiction, or divine retribution a dream? No! While a thunderbolt leaves a monastery or a nunnery in existence, lightning has no avenging power! While either of them exists man may well doubt the existence of retributive justice in human affairs.
But it may be said, that God has delegated to society the power to punish offences committed against its moral interests, and therefore does not himself interfere in the matter. But does society exercise its authority in the matter any more visibly than deity? Society enacts laws and prescribes penalties respecting murder, rape, brothels, false imprisonment, and irregular interments. She also investigates all alleged infractions of these laws, except when they involve the honor of monastic institutions. But why are these dens exempted from the common law of the land? Why are they allowed to bar their doors against the authority which all others must respect? Why are they allowed to organize within a government an independent government, nullifying its jurisdiction over them? Why are not the interior of monastic institutions constantly and thoroughly inspected, and the authority of the common law maintained over them? Is it because they are too pious to violate the law of the land? If this were so, it would do them no harm, but much good, to have the fact week after week attested by an investigating committee composed of their opponents. But is not the contrary the fact? Do they not deprive their inmates of personal liberty? Do they not imprison them in dungeons? Do they not punish them? Do they not inflict on them barbarous chastisements? Are they not sacerdotal brothels? Has not every age and country given its testimony to show that kidnapped men and women have been imprisoned for life in their cells; that there nuns have been poisoned, abortions procured, babes murdered, women outraged by priests, and every law, human or divine violated with impunity?
Are these sensational declamations? Would for the credit of human nature they were. No! They are the true records of monastic history, alleged by kings and statesmen, proved before councils, and acknowledged by monks, nuns, priests, bishops, and popes. With such an array of evidence before society, why does it allow institutions among it where every crime may be committed secretly, and with impunity? Why do not grand juries, who visit other jails, penitentiaries, and asylums, inspect also the more secret and suspicious nunneries?
We have now described the nature and consequences of the monastic vow of celibacy. This obligation is opposed to the nature, and defeats the object of the human organism. It extinguishes conjugal, filial, and parental affection. It severs the ties that bind the interests of society together. It injures both the present and the future, by abrogating their mutual connection. It strikes at the root of national greatness, by arresting the tide of population. It degrades the dignity of the community, by increasing the number of illegitimate children. It wars against marriage, the noblest incentive to social refinement and civilization; the basis of woman's hope and happiness; the impulse and gratification of her pride of family, love of parental control, and desire to live in posterity. It anathematizes woman's purest aspirations, and man's holiest ties. It converts the ardor of chastity into snares for its seduction. It sanctifies prostitution and adultery. It violates the law of the land. It erects in the most magnificent parts of a city its spacious brothels, with massive walls, secret doors, false floors, guarded windows, grated cloisters, inaccessible to the inspection of law, but accessible at all hours of night or day by priests. Within these walls it allures beauty, virtue, and talent, and while pretending to fit them for the society of infinite purity, betrays them into the power of unprincipled priests, and imprisons them in eternal seclusion, where no groan can meet the public ear, where they can never tell the story of their wrong, nor appeal to a heart for sympathy, nor to a law for redress.
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