A History of the Popes
by Joseph McCabe
Excerpts from: A History of the Popes by Joseph McCabe,
| 18th to 20th Century
SECTION - EIGHT
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The Catholic version of the momentous half-century which followed the death of Clement XII has that spurious air of ingenuousness. It explains that Protestantism had destroyed the chaste discipline of the Age of Faith and Chivalry, and had thus permitted a dark flood of infidelity to pour over Europe. In the eighteenth century, it continues to claim, monarchs and statesmen who were tainted by this infidelity compelled the Pope to suppress, while tearfully protesting their innocence, those stern and gallant guardians of the Christian conscience, the Jesuits, and this led inexorably to the horrors of the French Revolution. We have not here to consider whether Protestantism, in diverting men's minds from the forged credentials and moral futility of the Popes to the Bible, prepared the way for Deism; but it is a sheer untruth to say that the Pope who suppressed the Jesuits declared them to be innocent, and it is nonsense to connect that suppression with the French Revolution. The works of Voltaire, Rousseau, and the Encyclopaedists circulated throughout France before the Jesuits were expelled from that country.
In 1740, when the Conclave met, Rome was, as usual, blind to the significance and portent of the historical development. The Protestant Powers — England, Holland, and Prussia — were rising to supremacy, and Russia was slowly moving toward them. Strictly Catholic countries like Spain, Portugal, Central Italy, and Spanish America were, on the contrary, sinking to their lowest economic, intellectual, and social level. France and Austria were still great, but both countries rejected the pretensions of the Papacy as no Catholic land had ever done before, and in France there was a very wide spread of scepticism. Italy itself ought to have conveyed a warning to any ecclesiastical statesman. Liberalism and reform made progress in the north and south, which opposed the Popes, but Central Italy, under the Popes, was beggared — economically and intellectually — and despised. "There is a disdain of the Holy See all over the world," Benedict XIV (1740-1758) would presently say.
Cardinal Lambertini, as he was before his election, was the only prelate with some appreciation of the situation, yet neither he nor any other dreamed of his becoming Pope. He is said to have been correct in conduct and zealous in the performance of his ecclesiastical duties, but he was more than frivolous in speech and taste. President de Brosses, the distinguished French statesman, visited him in 1739, and admiringly wrote his friends that the cardinal had told him "some good stories about girls" and had greatly enjoyed stories about the debauchery of Cardinal Dubois and the French court. He went to the opera three times a week, and, pleading that fish did not agree with him, ate meat on fast-days. The strict cardinals frowned upon him, and he retaliated by calling them "oxen from the stable" of his stupid predecessors. The Conclave, however, was drawn out during six acrid, sweltering months, and in the final exhaustion the Powers which did not want a rigorous Pope secured his election. Europe, at a time when scepticism was spreading rapidly, got a Pope who corresponded amiably with Voltaire (who dedicated his Mahomet to him) and was greatly esteemed by Deists like Pitt, Horace Walpole, and Frederic the Great.
But Benedict's little vices did not include indolence. His Bulls, letters, and a few small works fill seventeen volumes and cover the entire Catholic world. He soon announced his policy, "I prefer to let the thunders of the Vatican rest," and said that he was more anxious to have the friendship of princes than of prelates. With France he made peace by granting that his predecessor's Bull against the Jansenists need not be rigorously enforced. When the Jesuits, the lax confessors of half the sinners of Paris, pressed him to see the importance of strict orthodoxy, he said that it was now not so much a question in France whether people believed correctly, but whether they believed at all. Spain he conciliated in spite of an angry clamour around him in Rome. The Spaniards deeply resented that the Vatican made all appointments to benefices and took toll thereon during eight months of the year. Benedict — let us say frankly — sold the right to Spain for a lump sum of 1,143,330 crowns. He was not particularly sensitive about such ecclesiastical abuses, nor was he the man to attack the universal immorality. He made similar compromises with Portugal, Sardinia, and Naples, and he was careful not to exacerbate the growing hostility to the Papacy among the Catholics of Austria.
His reputation among non-Catholic scholars rested upon his attempt to raise the intellectual and artistic level of Rome as well as upon his personal liberality. The desperate finances of the Vatican and the city he entrusted to Cardinal Valenti, a shrewd administrator of dissolute morals, and there was a remarkable improvement. The economic ideas of the clerics were appalling. Two cardinals, Benedict wrote to his friend Cardinal Tencin, sold immunity from fiscal burdens to 4000 traders. Many abuses were now suppressed, and out of his new resources the Pope restored public buildings, founded academies, and added science to the curriculum of the University. When, however, he tried to purge Church literature at least of the grosser legends which lingered in it, he met bitter opposition from the clergy, and his best work was shelved. In his later years he turned to the problem of the Jesuits, whose dishonest practices in the Far East and in South America he — without mentioning the word Jesuits — condemned in several Bulls. He obviously feared them. A month before he died he commissioned Cardinal Saldanha to report to him on the grave charges against them in Portugal, but he did not live to see the scorching indictment which resulted.
His unhappy successor, Clement XIII (1758-1769), inherited the struggle against the Jesuits, which now flared up in every Catholic country, but he had been elected by Jesuit influence, and he spent his eleven years in a futile attempt to protect them. They had been expelled from Portugal in the year of his accession, and they were next expelled from France (1764) and Spain (1769). The Pope vainly protested, declaring in a Bull that he "had certain, knowledge that the Society of Jesus exhibits in the highest degree the spirit of sanctity and piety." Catholic Europe laughed at its simple-minded Pope, and the expulsions continued under his successor Clement XIV (1769-1774), who, elected after a long and passionate struggle in Conclave, was accused by the Jesuits of having been bribed to suppress them. The fact is that he wavered timidly for four years, during which, says the Cambridge Modern History, "the violence and duplicity of the Jesuits alienated their own friends." When the last Catholic monarch, Maria Theresa, turned against them, the Pope in the famous Brief Dominus ac Redemptor Noster declared the Society "for ever abolished." He died a year later, and even the Cambridge History thinks it "possible that he was poisoned by the Jesuits."
Catholic writers almost invariably say that the Pope passed no opinion upon the charges and merely suppressed the Society for the sake of peace. Even the pretentious Catholic Encyclopedia says:
The one and only motive for the suppression of the Society set forth in this Brief is to restore the peace of the Church by removing one of the contending parties from the battlefield. No blame is laid by the Pope on the rules of the order, or the personal conduct of its members, or the orthodoxy of their teaching.
If this were true, it would be the only instance in history of the Popes ending a struggle between secular and spiritual powers by suppressing the latter. But the statement is, since the writer unquestionably had the Brief before him, one of the very many in Catholic literature which we are compelled to call mendacious.
For the Pope enumerates and expressly endorses all the charges against the Society. He observes "with the bitterest grief" that all the efforts of his predecessors to correct them were without avail. These relate to "secular affairs with which the Society ought not to concern itself" — their vast commercial enterprises — to "grave dissensions and quarrels harshly provoked by its members," to their "interpretation and practice of certain pagan ceremonies," and to "the use and interpretation of those maxims which the Holy See has justly proscribed as scandalous and evidently injurious to good morals." He says that "the Society almost from the beginning produced within it the germs of discord and jealousy." He tells that he has had a full inquiry made into the "thousand complaints against it," and he pronounces it abolished because "it can no longer produce the rich fruits and utilities for which it was instituted." This indictment of the Society runs to several pages, yet every Catholic historian repeats that the Pope did not find the Jesuits guilty.
The Catholic statement that the Jesuits were merely sacrificed for the sake of peace is as maladroit as it is false, for Clement's successor Pius VI (1775-1799) had more acrid relations than ever with the Catholic rulers. The kind of Catholic Modernism which (called Gallicanism in France, Febronianism in Austria, etc.) challenged the Papal authority at this time spread over Austria and South Germany, North Italy, and the Kingdom of the Sicilies. Joseph II of Austria, one of the most powerful and most enlightened monarchs of the age — it is often observed that he did ten times as much for civilization as any Pope — resisted the Pope even when he visited Vienna, and he threatened to separate his Church entirely from the Vatican, as Richelieu had threatened for France. Joseph's brother was the Grand Duke of Tuscany, who, as I described in the preceding chapter, carried out, in spite of Rome, very necessary reforms in his duchy. In the province of Venice and the kingdoms of Sardinia and Sicily the same ideas were widely accepted, and there was very serious friction with the Vatican. South Italy and Sicily were at this time as advanced as any country in Europe, and it was the awful massacres of the Liberals in the nineteenth century, which we shall see, that reduced them to ignorance and beggary. For a time Liberal statesmen, pupils of Voltaire, held power even in Spain and Portugal.
I do not enter into detail about this conflict, which shows how far the Pope was from supremacy, or even from complete respect, in Catholic lands as late as the end of the eighteenth century, because Europe now passed into the revolutionary phase which drove the Catholic monarchs back into the arms of the Pope. Few historians seem to reflect that if it had not been for the French Revolution the Catholic Church would never have been burdened with the ridiculous dogma of Papal infallibility and the slavish prostration which the Vatican now exacts; just as in our time the Church would have lost a further hundred million adherents if the spread of a new revolutionary wave had not enabled the Papacy to find truculent allies. Few, again, reflect that if, as we ought, we understand by the French Revolution the revolt of the year 1789, and do not spread the phrase over four years, it was more moderate than the American Revolution which preceded it, since it retained the throne and the establishment of the Church; or that the horrors which were perpetrated four years later were in large part provoked by the action of the Pope and the refugee prelates which led to the appalling civil war in the West and the invasion of France from the East.
It is not possible, and would not be relevant, to repeat here what I have elsewhere written about the French Revolution and the Church, but a few points must be stated. The first is that the licence and luxury of the higher clergy and the nobles continued until the outbreak of the Revolution, and in Italy and Spain as well as in France these were accompanied by an appalling misery of the mass of the people and a gross social order. It will be enough to consider the Papal Kingdom when the Popes resumed power after the fall of Napoleon; Martin Hume's Modern Spain may be consulted as to the grossness of life in Spain; and the condition of the mass of the people in France is well known. Hence the first public utterance of Pius VI on the French Revolution was wholly misguided, and is discreetly ignored by writers who would have us regard the Popes as preachers of social and political justice. The National Assembly, which still included most of the nobles and higher clergy in August (1789), had formulated the Rights of Man as the basis of a new Constitution. On August 4 the clerical and aristocratic leaders had voluntarily renounced their privileges, and this declaration — equality, democracy, freedom of religion, and freedom of speech — naturally followed. If the Pope had been content to quarrel with the raw principle of equal rights, which was taken from Rousseau, we could understand him, but he made a quite stupid attack (March 29, 1790) upon the ideas of democracy, freedom of conscience, general education, and liberty of discussion. His appeal to the Garden of Eden, the divine right of kings, and so on, amused the world.
His next step, his condemnation of the system of State clergy, who should swear loyalty to the Republic, is what any Pope would be expected to take, but we must not lose sight of the consequences. Many of the higher clergy had fled with the nobles, but the Pope's condemnation early in 1791 of the new status of the clergy drove larger numbers of them into exile, to swell the demand abroad for foreign intervention, or, in Brittany, caused them to start a civil war which diverted very large military forces just when the formidable armies of Prussia and Austria invaded the country. This led to the September Massacre. It is now acknowledged that only a few hundred Parisians were involved in this, to the horror of the majority, and since the victims were in large part criminals and prostitutes from the jails, and Paris was still so Catholic that in the summer of 1791 the Corpus Christi procession had been held as usual in its streets, the motive was mainly to purify Paris.
References to the "French Revolution" (generally meaning a period of four years) are usually so slovenly that most people will be surprised to learn that, in spite of immense pressure from the people and a widespread abandonment of their functions by the priests, Robespierre refused to disestablish the Church until 1794, and Danton supported him in this until he died. Robespierre, a very serious Theist, scorned Atheism as a "vice of the aristocrats." Meantime priests and people had abandoned the Church in an amazing manner, and in the provinces the practice spread of holding pageants or services in honour of Liberty, which was personified in one of the most virtuous as well as most beautiful girls of the town. Paris was the last to take up the idea, and it coupled Reason with Liberty. The clergy of Notre Dame had already surrendered the cathedral to the municipality, but the altars were decently draped and not used. The Opera Company organized the pageant, which was entirely decorous. It was "an Offering to Liberty." The chief actress personified Liberty — not a goddess of Liberty, much less a goddess of Reason — and, standing away from the altars, she recited a dignified Ode to Liberty by the chief poet of the time, Chenier.
The Red Terror followed as a result of the political quarrel of the followers of Danton and Robespierre. We read in what is now the standard history of the period, Lavisse's Histoire de France Contemporaine (1920, II, 199), that of the 20,000 victims no less than 67 per cent were of the working class, and only 6 per cent of the aristocratic class and 8 per cent ecclesiastics. The Cambridge History (VIII, 372) adds that "to suggest that the fiendish excesses of the government [Robespierre] had been in any sense acceptable to the mass of Frenchmen is ludicrous," and that the executions were "for the benefit of a gang of corrupt scoundrels who, in the judgment of one of the shrewdest contemporary observers of the Revolution, could claim in Paris no more than 3000 adherents" (VIII, 372). Let me add that in the St.Bartholomew Massacre (1572) the Catholics had murdered in a few days twice as many as the revolutionaries slew in five years: that in the clerical-royalist or White Terror which followed the death of Robespierre and the fall of Napoleon, of which few ever hear, as many were killed, and with equal brutality, as in the revolution-period: and that between 1820 and 1860 the clerical-royalists slew more than ten times as many as the victims of the Revolution, and nearly a hundred times as many as the clerical and aristocratic victims.
Indeed, during the pontificate of Pius VI, and with his full approval, the clerical-royalists of Naples butchered and tortured "Jacobins," as they called every man or woman of democratic sentiment — the clergy calculated that there were 50,000 among the educated Neapolitans in 1793 — for five years. Thousands died, and the savagery was beyond anything seen in revolutionary France; and the Neapolitan leader was the Pope's special representative, Cardinal Ruffo. The mob roasted and ate the bodies of democrats under the palace windows, and leaders of the royal troops had the blood-dripping heads of slain captives decorating the table while they dined. These things are not the prejudiced gossip of fugitives abroad, as are the stories about the French Revolutionaries, but are described by a Catholic officer of the royal army, General Colletta, who was there at the time. Yet for a hundred writers who dwell upon the horrors of the French Revolution there is not one who speaks of the White Terror.
We return to this subject in the next chapter, and must here resume the story of the Papacy. The troubles of Pius VI with the Catholic monarchs gave place to a terrible anxiety for the Church as the French armies marched from land to land. There are contemporaries who wondered whether the Papacy was not extinct when Pius VI died in 1799, Napoleon was now the master of France and Italy, and, though he proposed to restore the Church and make it help to guarantee the stability of his power, it was to be a Church modified by his own requirements. Pius VI had allied himself with Austria, and the French had overrun Italy and helped the Romans to found a Republic. To meet the grave problems of this new situation the cardinals who met at Venice in 1800 elected a Benedictine monk, Pius VII (1800-1823).
The story of Pius VII is the story of his relations with Napoleon, and so large a literature has been written about this that an outline will suffice here. We may set aside disdainfully the Catholic claim that he had either ability or energy, but at his side he had a Secretary of State, Cardinal Consalvi, who combined both with the opportunism of a diplomat and the worldliness of a secular prince. He had just sufficient moral delicacy to refuse, owing to his love of pleasure, as he told Talleyrand, to become a priest. It was Consalvi who compelled the reluctant Pope to bless the marriage of ex-bishop Talleyrand and to tell that cynical statesman, who remained a sceptic all his life, that he was "overjoyed at learning of your ardent desire to be reconciled with us and the Catholic Church." Napoleon himself in later years described Talleyrand's marriage as "a triumph of immorality," but at the time he wanted to rid France of all the plebeian licence of revolutionary years, and so ordered him to marry his mistress.
When, in 1801, Napoleon sent to Rome the draft of a Concordat in terms which appalled the zealots, Consalvi, who was in France, said that to press it would kill the Pope. Whether it did or not, Napoleon told him, it must be signed within five days; and it was signed. The zealots in Rome put placards on the walls describing the Pope as a traitor. The refugee prelates in England and elsewhere, who learned that the Pope had not secured the return of their property or the ejection of the constitutionalist bishops, called him Judas. Catholics of all countries were further outraged when, in 1804, Napoleon ordered the Pope, who wriggled like an eel, to come to Paris and crown him Emperor. It was a violent repudiation of the Papal doctrine of the divine right of kings. Joseph dc Maistre, one of the leading Catholic writers of Europe, said that, since the Pope had sacrificed his dignity and importance, he trusted that he "would go so for in his self-degradation as to become a mere puppet of no consequence."
The Pope's compliance with the degrading demands of Napoleon during several years — he had now been forced to discharge Consalvi — was in large part due to his fear of losing the remainder of the Papal States. But Napoleon annexed them in 1808 and, when Pius excommunicated him, had him shifted from Rome by French troops. The French and Austrian clergy granted Napoleon his divorce from Josephine, and fourteen cardinals were present at the marriage with Marie Louise, while the Pope lingered miserably in Savona. But Napoleon still needed the Pope's consent to the institution of bishops, of whom a large number were required in France, and how he obtained the Pope's consent that the French archbishops should institute these bishops is one of the few controverted points in the Pope's career. Some Catholic writers say that he never made this "betrayal"; others say that he was drugged: others that he was mentally unbalanced from ill-health. I have shown in my Crises in the History of the Papacy that he orally consented, or else the Archbishop of Tours lied; and he later gave written consent. He nearly died from shame and remorse.
On his return from Russia Napoleon ordered Pius, who had meantime been removed to Fontainebleau, to sign a new Concordat in which he renounced all claims to temporal power. It is not disputed that he signed this. The "black" or stricter cardinals were now permitted to attend him, and they demanded that he should retract and defy Napoleon. Pius wrote a few lines a day of the new document, and, as Napoleon's spies were numerous what he wrote was taken away daily in a cardinal's pocket. Napoleon was at last presented with the Pope's letter repudiating the Concordat, but this was in 1813, when his world was crumbling. When the Allies crossed the Rhine, in January, 1814, the Pope was sent back to Italy; and he returned to Rome after the first abdication of Napoleon. He at once restored the Jesuits, reopened the monasteries, set up the Inquisition, and thrust the Jews back into the ghetto. Every trace of new ideas was to be obliterated: even the lighting of the streets of Rome by oil-lamps. For a time, in 1815, he shuddered afresh, and fled from Rome when the news came of Napoleon's escape from Elba. But the Hundred Days soon passed, and the work of restoring the Middle Ages in the Papal States was resumed.
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The fright which the French Revolution and its Napoleonic sequel had given to the monarchs of Europe drove the Catholic kings back into close alliance with the Papacy and made an end of Galilean, Febronian, and other Catholic attempts to check the Pope's pretensions. The last spark of Jacobinism, which meant even the mildest aspiration toward constitutional monarchy, freedom of speech, and education of the people, must be trodden out. It is a grave defect of modern historical education that the epic struggle for these rights from 1820 to about 1860 is either ignored or deceptively attenuated. Catholic authorities are particularly eager to suppress the facts because of at least 300,000 unarmed men, women, and even children who died in massacres, on the scaffold, or in pestilential jails during that time for claiming what we now consider elementary human rights, all but about a thousand perished in Catholic countries which were in the most docile subjection to and closest correspondence with Rome; and in each of these countries the Pope's special representatives (Nuncios) and the higher clergy approved, and often instigated, the foulest excesses.
The more Catholic the country, indeed, the more savage were the torture and bloodshed. The Kingdom of the Sicilies (Italy and Sicily) witnessed the longest and vilest reaction. General Colletta claims that there were 200,000 victims from 1790 to 1830, and his Neapolitan successor claims 250,000 in the next thirty years; and as late as 1860 the brutality of the oppression shocked all Europe. These figures are uncertain, since it is very difficult to compile them, and in the case of Italy they include a percentage of armed rebels, but after a severe inquiry I find that at least 300,000 men and women, who never took up arms, and in massacres large numbers of children, perished in Italy, Spain, and Portugal. In the Pope's own kingdom, with a population of about 3,000,000, many thousands died by execution, in massacres, or in jails of an incredibly cruel character. The savagery of the clerical-royalists and the foul character of most of the monarchs are described in the Cambridge Modern History and all authoritative manuals. In France, where there remained a strong anti-clerical minority, the victims were, apart from armed rebels, much less numerous, though far more numerous than had been the clerical and aristocratic victims of the Revolution. In Austria, where the reforms of Joseph II were not wholly forgotten, it was much the same. In England and Prussia few were executed.
One other point must be made. The social order which was protected by this brutality was as inefficient as it was unjust, and it was at its worst in the Pope's own States. On this all authorities are agreed. Lady Blennerhassett (a Catholic historian) approvingly quotes in the Cambridge Modern History (X, 164) the reflection of Father Lamennais, on visiting Rome, that it was "the most hideous sewer that ever offended the eye of man." All the reforms which the French had made were abolished when Pius VII returned, and a bloated hierarchy of priests fattened upon one of the poorest and most ignorant populations in Europe. Graft, bribery, brigandage, beggary, prison-life, crime, and illiteracy were worse than in any other kingdom. When the Austrians suppressed a rebellion of the Pope's subjects in 1831 — the Papal army under Cardinal Albani committing the most atrocious outrages — England, Prussia, Russia, Austria, and France addressed to Gregory XVI a stern memorandum on the disgraceful condition of his kingdom and ordered him to reform it. The journalists and literary men who now hail the Popes as our leading guides on social and political morality ought to read what sort of kingdom the Popes maintained until after the middle of the last century.
The struggle to defend this social order against what was called revolutionary sentiment is almost all that we have to tell about the remaining years (1815-1823) of Pius VII and the pontificates of Leo XII (1823-1829), Pius VIII (1829-1830), and Gregory XVI (1831-1846). Indeed, there is little else of general interest to be said about the long pontificate of Pius IX (1846-1878), though the struggle now assumes a new form. Pius VII had at once recalled Consalvi, and that cardinal is often represented as checking the mad fury of the zealots. The facts show, however, that he was a complete reactionary. Every reform that the French had introduced was abolished. All the clerical abuses were restored, the Papal finances soon fell once more into deep disorder, while 2436 monasteries and nunneries were reopened. Such schools as there were passed under the control of the Jesuits; and the dishonesty of the claim that they were "great educators" is seen in the fact that twenty years later only 2 per cent of the rural population attended school, often for only two hours a day. As late as 1890, when Mulhall published his Dictionary of Statistics, the five countries which stood at the top of the list in percentage of literates were all Protestant. They had 87 to 97 per cent, while South Italy, Spain, and Portugal had only 20 to 28 per cent of literates in the population. Yet with these relics of medieval conditions lingering to our own time we are asked to listen courteously to claims that the Popes have always promoted education and social justice. To the very end their own kingdom was, in the words of the British ambassador at Rome, "the opprobrium of Europe."
Pius VII, who even condemned Bible Societies as "a most abominable invention that destroyed the very foundations of religion," died in 1823 — so low was Italian culture that they had to employ a foreigner and a notorious sceptic to carve his monument — and Leo XII, an elderly invalid, indeed a converted rake, issued from the furious struggle of fanatical and moderate cardinals. "You are electing a dead man," he warned them, yet with its customary indifference to truth the Catholic Encyclopedia says:
There is something pathetic in the contrast between the intelligence and masterly energy displayed by him as ruler of the Church and the inefficiency of his policy as ruler of the Papal States.
The sole object of this ludicrous and untruthful statement is to mislead any Catholic reader who may have dipped into a history of Italy — any non-Catholic history — and learned the appalling condition of the Papal States. Leo's "intelligence and masterly energy" displayed themselves in his order that tin fig-leaves must be put upon the classical statues, and the workers must drink outside the wine-shops so that the police can hear them if they swear. He was despised in Europe and in Italy and was "hated by all, princes and beggars," says L. von Ranke. Rome, says Bunsen, who was there, hailed his death "with indecent joy." He had chosen as his Secretary of State a fanatical cardinal who was eighty years old, and he put Cardinal Rivarola, whose excesses shocked Europe, at the head of his army. The squalid jails were overcrowded, and the country was red with blood and revolt, while the senile Pope amused himself shooting birds in the Vatican garden.
Yet even in this grave crisis, and in spite of the world ridicule of Leo, the cardinals elected as his successor a paralysed old man who literally drivelled like a baby as they wheeled him about the Vatican; Pius VIII. He lasted twenty months, and the electoral battle was resumed. After five weeks of acrid and futile wrangles, the Austrian and French Governments had to defy the rules of the Conclave and send men to bring them to their senses, addressing them through the window. Europe was passing into its second revolutionary period (1830). Paris had revolted, and men were in arms all over the Papal States. The chief cardinal in the Conclave, Albani, was an aged roue who was known as such throughout Europe, and the monk-cardinal who was elected, Gregory XVI, had, in the words of one of the more lenient historians, "a pronounced weakness for Orvieto wine" and "absorbed himself in ignoble interests while the country groaned under misrule."
He was vulgar, lazy, and sensual. He loved the salacious French novels of Paul de Kock, and was on such terms with his valet that the lighter Roman gossip gave him the man's wife as a mistress. Such still was Papal Rome only two centuries ago, while the condition of the Papal States was, in spite of a few superficial reforms, fouler than ever. Gregory ignored the stern warning of the five Powers to reform his dominions, and he raised loans, at an interest of 30 per cent, to cover his enormous annual deficit. Six thousand political prisoners were meantime tortured in his squalid jails, and hundreds of the best Italians fled abroad. Industry and commerce were grossly neglected, the universities closed, and even such new inventions as gas and railways excluded from the Papal States. Gregory found time between his wine-and-sweet parties and reading the reports of his innumerable spies to groan over the state of his "Atheistic and rebellious country," as he called it, and to detect the cause in "the criminal and insane tendencies of the Waldenses, Beghards, Wicliffites, and other similar sons of Belial": all of whom had died out four hundred years before. And Catholic writers claim that he was the most learned Pope since Benedict XIV.
For fifteen years, while Europe fought its way to the general revolt of 1848 and science was making its first triumphant advance, Central Italy and the southern Catholic countries generally lingered under this stupid tyranny, while good men and women were slain by the ten thousand — more than 100,000 had died in twenty years — for peaceful opposition to it. These are facts of life less than two centuries ago — the facts which caused Lord Acton to declare the Pope of his own Church "worse than the accomplices of the Old Man of the Mountain" (the worst assassins in history) — yet writers who dangle before us the worst libels of the French Revolution would have us forget these facts and respect the legend of the serene wisdom and integrity of the Popes. But Gregory died in 1846, and, after a more scandalous Conclave-fight than ever, the Church got a "liberal Pope."
Catholics cling to the myth of the liberality, saintliness, and wisdom of Pius IX (1846-1878), although his name is attached to the most stupid condemnation of modern principles or sentiments (the Syllabus) that the nineteenth century produced, and he presided over the bloodiest phase of the struggle against the modern spirit in Italy. Dozens of Catholic biographers maintain the myth, while hostile biographers (Petruccelli della Gattina, T. A. Trollope, etc.) bring grave charges against his character in his youth and represent him as an epileptic of poor intelligence. Born in Senigallia in Eastern Italy in 1792, was made Pope at 54. The truth is that as prelate and cardinal he had been too amiable and liberal in disposition to agree with the zealots and their regime of cruelty, but there is not the least evidence that he seriously studied the age and its movements and problems. As Pope he at first listened flatteringly to the more moderate Liberals, but when he found more radical popular leaders acclaiming him as a reform Pope he was bewildered and uneasy. He released political prisoners soon after his election, yet a few months later he denounced Bible Societies, freedom of the Press, and secret political organizations. He opened schools and admitted a few carefully selected laymen to the administration.
It is idle to describe these things. The third French Revolution, in February, 1848, fired all Europe, and the democratic revolt spread from country to country. Pius now quarrelled with the Romans by refusing to declare war upon Austria, which had been for thirty years the evil genius of the reaction, and they rose against him. Nervously, like other kings in that amazing year, he granted all that was asked, then fled in disguise to Gaeta and disavowed his promises. How the Romans then set up a secular Republic and how a French army destroyed it for the Pope is familiar history. Pius — "Pius the Ninth the Second," the Romans said — returned in the spring of 1850, a thorough reactionary for the rest of his life. While the allied monarchs were bloodily suppressing the new democracies everywhere, the Pope had been absorbed at Gaeta in preparing for publication the new dogma of the Immaculate Conception of Mary. Sublunary affairs he now left mainly to his Secretary of State, Cardinal Antonelli, a greedy, sensual, and loose man who, like Consalvi, had declined to become a priest: a man who was born in a squalid cottage and at death left a fortune of 4,000,000 and a natural daughter, the Countess Lambertini, fighting for it. The Papal jails, in which many political prisoners were chained to the wall and not released even for exercise or sanitary purposes, were soon packed with 8000 prisoners, and hundreds were executed. It was the Papal States under "the saintly Pius," which Lord Clarendon, the British ambassador at Rome, branded "the opprobrium of Europe." There was only one fouler patch, Naples; and this was almost as much subject to the Pope as the Papal States were.
So we will not follow Pius IX through the thirty years (1848-1878) which remained of his pontificate. Cavour, the strong man of the Sardinian monarchy, to which Italians now looked for the unification of their country, pointed out to France that, since the Pope and his Jesuits flouted all warnings to reform, and thus fostered the revolutionary sentiment, the reform must be undertaken by others. He in 1859 started the expulsion of Austrians from Italy, and in 1860 he ordered a plebiscite in the Legations, the northern part of the Pope's dominions. The people voted in an overwhelming majority for the rule of Victor Emmanuel, who now became King of Italy, instead of that of the Pope; and Garibaldi worked up from the south toward Rome, Umbria and the Marches then, after a defeat of the Pope's ragged army, had a plebiscite, and only 1592 out of 225,450 voted for the Pope.
Pius had now only Rome and its province, and the Italian Government offered him rich compensation if he would abandon all claim to secular rule. Cardinal Antonelli advised it — he is said to have accepted a bribe of 3,000,000 crowns — but the Jesuits egged on the Pope to resist, while scepticism and disdain spread in Rome itself. They thought it opportune to issue, in 1864, a flat defiance of all modern sentiments in the form of a Syllabus (or list) of eighty propositions which were "reprobated, proscribed, and condemned"; even such propositions as that "every man is free to embrace and profess the religion which, judging by the light of human reason, he believes to be true," and "men may find the way of eternal salvation, and attain it, in any religion." The world shuddered at the Pope's stupidity, and the Italian Government took over Rome (1870). Catholic writers still protest that the plebiscites were useless because the Pope had ordered Catholics to abstain from voting. The fact is that in the city of Rome four-fifths of the male adults (40,785) voted against the Pope, so that few besides the priests, monks, and Papal officials abstained or wanted the secular rule of the Papacy to continue. In the Roman province as a whole 133,681 voted against the Pope and 1507 for him. He refused the offer of 3,250,000 lire a year and sovereign rights, shut himself in the Vatican, and concentrated upon forcing or bribing the Catholic bishops of the world, who now gathered in Rome (December 1869) for the Vatican Council, to pass the new dogma of the infallibility of the Popes.
Such a declaration must seem to any man who has followed me throughout this work unintelligible, but the "definition" of the dogma was drafted by the Jesuits, with all the long series of Papal blunders before them. The dogma declares that a Pope is infallible only when he speaks to the world, on faith or morals, in his official character as infallible Pope. So all previous blunders were just unofficial personal expressions of opinion; and, since no Pope from that day to this has dared to use his supposed infallible prerogative, the dogma is one of the idlest of formulae. Yet even in this careful form it was heatedly resisted. A petition to the Pope to make the declaration was signed, to his deep anger, by only about 400 out of the 700 bishops, while after six months of passionate quarrels — bishops who were present told me cynical stories of the open heat and the quiet bribery — eighty-eight still voted against the dogma, and a further sixty-two voted for it with a reservation.
In thirty-two years Pius IX had wrought irreparable harm to his Church. Scepticism — checked only for a few years by the political reaction in the 'seventies — had captured the majority of the French people, and was spreading rapidly in the middle classes of Austria, Italy, and Spain. Rome was blind, as usual, to far-off events, and millions of Catholic emigrants to America were lost. Some Catholic writers put the loss at 10,000,000 or more. And the claim that this disintegration was arrested by Leo XIII is just one more myth which Catholic writers have imposed upon our literature. In 1909, six years after the death of Leo, I showed in my Decay of the Church of Rome that in the previous hundred years the Church had lost, in actual seceders and the children of seceders, about 100,000,000 members — far more than at the Reformation — and that of less than 200,000,000 who remained in it 120,000,000 were illiterate.
Pius IX was beatified in September 2000, along with Pope John XXIII (1958-1963) by Pope John Paul II (1978-2005). A person who is beatified is given the title "Blessed." Beatification is a locally restricted permission to venerate, while canonization is a universal precept to venerate. That is, beatification allows the public veneration of a person as having entered Heaven, while canonization commands it. Beatification is considered a step towards being declared a saint, usually after being declared venerable and before canonization as a saint. Since the Canon law reform of 1983, one miracle must be proven to have taken place through the intercession of the person to be beatified, though this requirement is waived for those who died a martyr.
Leo XIII (1878-1903) was born near Rome in 1810 and was elected when he was 68. Though the ablest Pope since Benedict XIV (1740-1758), is quite absurdly described as having "saved the Church" by his diplomatic ability and statesmanship. Travelling in Italy in the year after his death I found, especially in Rome, that the Church had lost the great majority of the middle class and was rapidly losing the urban workers. By careful research later I fixed the loss at about 6,000,000: a conservative estimate, seeing that scurrilous anti-clerical papers like L'Asino and II Papagallo sold a million copies a week. For this rapid decay Leo XIII was very largely responsible. He thoroughly alienated the men of the Italian middle class by maintaining as long as he lived the excommunication of the King and his statesmen, although the plebiscite had decisively shown the wishes of the people. He alienated the workers by the very Encyclicals on social questions which were lauded in the English Press as gospels of social justice. Italian workers were not impressed by declarations that they were entitled to a living wage when the Pope refused to reply even to episcopal requests for some sort of definition what a living wage is. Leo denounced Socialism as criminal, and it made rapid progress.
In France his work was still more disastrous. When he acceded, in 1878, the country was at least nominally Catholic, and the Church had considerable power. The revolt of the Communards in 1871 had alarmed the people, and there had been a remarkable return to church-going. One of Leo's worst blunders was to lose the whole advantage of this by refusing to recognize the Republic until near the end of the century (1892). French statesmen found the people so alienated by this obstinate adherence to the royalists that they began to secularize the schools and the government. In 1875 it was estimated that thirty million Frenchmen were Catholics. At the death of Leo XIII only about 6,000,000 — Sabatier wrote me that I ought to say 4,000,000 — could be counted as Catholics. It is amusing to find English and American Catholics today admiring the political wisdom of Leo's Encyclical Immortale Dei (1885) "On the Christian Constitution of States." By an audacious trick they have changed the word "Catholic" to "Christian." This Encyclical, which is addressed to a country, France, in regard to which Leo had shown supreme political unwisdom, is — several passages are altered in the English translation — just a medieval attack upon the French for daring to disestablish the Church, and it is rich in the sentiments of the Syllabus.
In Germany the policy inaugurated by Leo led, in a way which he could not be expected to foresee, to the ruin of the most flourishing national branch of the Church. The Kulturkampf, or fight against Bismarck for the Catholic schools, was at its height when Leo acceded, and he rightly supported the German prelates. But Bismarck presently became more concerned about the growth of Socialism and the discontent of the Catholics of Alsace-Lorraine. After years of negotiation the Pope, for certain concessions, agreed to use his influence in Alsace-Lorraine and to assist the Government to combat Socialism. He lived to see the Socialist vote rise from 349,000 to 3,000,000, while the Catholic proportion of the total vote sank from 27.9 to 19.7 per cent. But far worse was to come after his death. Socialists and Communists gained so heavily, as we shall see, at the expense of the Catholics that Hitler found himself in a position to defy the Pope and his Church after he had, with the Pope's aid, secured power.
In Austria his experience was unhappy, for his direction to the clergy to resist new liberal laws on marriage and education was futile. In regard to Spain he seemed to be more fortunate, as he worked with the Government in its truculent oppression of Socialism and Anarchism; but the brutality of that repression led to a growth of passionate resentment, and the long and intimate association of the Church with the reactionaries brought upon it the hostility of the majority of the people. In Ireland his policy of conciliating the English Government by ordering the Irish to submit to injustice roused the Catholics to anger, while the few favours he received from Westminster did little for the Catholics in England, who did not even increase in proportion to the growth of population and immigration. The ecclesiastical "statesman" actually issued an Encyclical (Ad Anglos, April 20, 1895) inviting the English people to submit to his authority and followed this up with an Encyclical (Apostolice Cure) denying the validity of Anglican Orders! In America he, still holding the familiar parochial attitude of the Vatican, committed graver blunders. All through the 'nineties he had very serious friction with the American prelates, and in 1899 he startled America by sending to Cardinal Gibbons, for publication, a letter on "Americanism" (American Modernism) in which he arrogantly condemned the whole hierarchy for permitting ideas which every American Catholic holds today.
Able and untiring as the Pope was, he was hampered by the poor intelligence service of the Vatican and the stupid fanaticism of the Jesuits, who still had great power at Rome, but his position was in any case hopeless. He wanted to arrest the disintegration of the Church without sacrificing any of the medieval features which made that disintegration inevitable. He directed Catholic scholars to "welcome all truth" and threw open the Secret Archives of the Vatican; but he had first withdrawn the documents we should most like to consult. He appointed a Commission to study the Bible and modern scholarship, and he then compelled it to publish conclusions which its most learned members — its secretary was a friend of mine — despised. In a world of advancing science and of revolutionary change in philosophy he ordered Catholic seminaries and universities to cling to the medieval philosophy of Thomas Aquinas. He directed the publication of a new edition of Canon Law (Marianus de Luca's Institutiones Juris Ecclesiastici Publici, 1901) in which the death-sentence for heretics and every musty Papal claim were emphatically re-affirmed. When he died in 1903 he looked back upon quarter of a century of wasted effort and continued decay.
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In this last phase of the history of the Papacy we may confine ourselves to a consideration of the rapid disintegration of the Church and the desperate attempts of the Popes to arrest it. In Great Britain and America, where the high Catholic birth-rate, the issue of spurious statistics by the Catholic authorities, and the control of the Press and public libraries give the Church a fallacious appearance of stability, its decay is little realized, and the true meaning of Vatican policy is not perceived. But this disintegration is the central and determining fact of recent Papal behaviour. The steady leakage which continued through the reign of Leo XIII and his successor assumed after 1918, and particularly in what are called Catholic countries, a more alarming form. Tens of millions quitted the Church in a decade and a half and turned upon it with disdain or anger. I have given the precise evidence of this and covered the whole recent period in my Papacy in Politics To-day (1937) and may, therefore, here be content with a summary.
At the death of Leo XIII in 1903, when literary men, almost the only converts of any distinction whom the Church wins in our time, were still telling us of the serene wisdom of the Vatican, the cardinal-electors showed that they were as unwise as ever. To meet the formidable problems of the age they chose an elderly 68 year old and not very intelligent reactionary, Pius X (1903-1914), a man of peasant extraction born in June 1835 who had by great diligence obtained a creditable command of medieval theology and Canon Law. The most urgent problem was the recovery of France, and here the Pope committed monumental blunders. In the early years of the century Catholic writers boasted that, however many had apostatized, France had still 160,000 monks and nuns, and their houses were no longer "the resort of infamous brothel-frequenters" — this is quoted from a bishop — as they had been in the eighteenth century. With the connivance of the Pope, the leading monastic orders now, in the words of the sympathetic Mr. Bodley, "identified themselves with the most inept political party [the royalists] that had ever wrecked a powerful cause." When the Government proposed lenient measures which the French bishops were ready to accept, the Pope sourly forbade them, and the monastic orders were suppressed. It was not until the Republic needed the Pope's influence to curb the Alsace-Lorrainers that diplomatic relations were resumed, and French statesmen, who are all sceptics, shuddered to find themselves occasionally in Church. But Catholic writers admit that the Church has recovered no ground. Some put the number of the faithful at 5,000,000 out of 42,000,000 people.
The peasant-Pope meantime went on from blunder to blunder. He tried to enforce upon Protestant countries the old decree (Ne temere) which declared that a marriage with a Protestant was invalid unless a priest performed the ceremony. In Australia Catholics attempted to act upon it, and there was a violent agitation. The Pope then, reminding us rather of Sancho Panza than of Don Quixote, made war upon Modernism. Many of the Church's best scholars were expelled or silenced, papers were suppressed, a regiment of spies was enlisted; and in the end the Pope fatuously struck a gold medal which represented orthodoxy slaying the domestic dragon. The strict medieval law must be enforced upon this wayward Church, and the Pope ordered a new codification — no law in the world was in such a state of chaos as the age-old law of this statesmanlike Papacy — and publication in the vernacular.
The Roman Catholic church has had an abiding hatred toward the Eastern Orthodox Church. Serbia is a predominantly Orthodox country. Pope Pius X, through his diplomats tried to persuade Austria-Hungary to “punish” Serbia. When Austria-Hungary Archduke Franz-Ferdinand, the heir apparent to the crowns of Austria and Hungary, was murdered at Sarajevo by a Macedonian student, Gavrillo Princip, on June 28, 1914, the Pope took the opportunity to push the Catholic Emperor Francis Joseph of Austria-Hungary to declare war on Serbia. The Bavarian Charge d’Affaires to the Vatican, Baron Ritter, wrote the following to his government:
The pope agrees with Austria dealing severely with Serbia. He doesn’t think much of the Russian and French armies and is of the opinion that they could not do very much in a war against Germany. The cardinal-secretary of State doesn’t see when Austria could make war if she does not decide now.
On July 28, 1914, Austria-Hungary declared war on Serbia, which plunged all of Europe into World War I. Because of the part played by the Vatican in starting World War I, the Allies would not permit the Vatican at the conference table when the 1919 treaty of Versailles was signed. Interestingly, it was Italy, the most Catholic of the European countries, that was insistent on excluding the Vatican. Through article XV of the April 26, 1915 pact of London, which defined Italy’s participation in the war, Baron Sonino required the allies to oppose any intervention by the Vatican in the peace arrangements.
Pius X was beatified in June 1951 and now holds the title of "Blessed". Pius X was also canonized in 1954. Canonization is the act by which the Catholic Church declares a deceased person to be a saint, inscribing that person in the canon, or list, of recognized saints. Canonization does not make someone a saint; it is only a declaration that the person is a saint and was a saint even before canonization. Pius XII (1939-1958) referred to Pius X as "Pope of the Eucharist", in honor of Pius X's expansion of the rite to children.
It fell to the next Pope, Benedict XV (1914-1922), to publish this new Code (1918) and finish the war upon scholarship; but he was as purblind to the realities of modern life as his predecessor. Born in a suburb of Genoa in Italy in November 1854, was elected when he was 60. There is a chapter on the law in my previous book, and I will make only two points here. It is not the full Code of Church law. The "public" (which really means "secret", since it has to remain in Latin) part of that law is not included, so that Catholic laymen are honestly ignorant that their Church still claims "the right and duty to put heretics to death." Further, although the Pope meant this Italian Code to be translated into all languages, English Catholics have not thought it prudent to publish a translation. The clauses about marriage conflict audaciously with our civil law, to the advantage of the Church, and the prohibition of reading critical works or even holding conversations with critics, and other clauses, would greatly embarrass Catholics in this country who implore us to "read both sides."
Benedict's policy during the first World War also injured his Church. Since the Italian Government published the fact that his agents were caught in intrigue with Austria, there is no reason to doubt the rumour that Germany had offered to admit the Jesuits and secure independence for him in Rome. When the War dragged out and the issue became uncertain, he confined himself to pretty pacifist platitudes, and at the close his eagerness to be represented at Versailles was snubbed. But his Secretary of State, Gasparri, saw possibilities in the new map of Europe. France, as I said, needed spiritual sedatives for its new and uneasy subjects in Alsace-Lorraine and Syria, and had to purchase them by a subservience to the Vatican which makes its statesmen writhe. Russia, in smiting its bitterly hostile Orthodox Church, lifted a burden from the back of its Roman Catholic (mainly Polish) minority, and, at the very time when people shuddered at "the godless Bolsheviks," Catholic religious processions were seen in the streets of Leningrad for the first time in history. But a new phenomenon, the rapid spread of Atheistic Communism over the Catholic world, soon bewildered the small-minded Benedict, and in 1922 he died and bequeathed the extraordinary new crisis of his Church to Pius XI.
He was Pope in Rome for the ascent of Benito Mussolini — in 1921 he was elected to the Chamber of Deputies for the first time — as the Fascist movement culminates in 1922 with him becoming the Prime Minister of Italy. Mussolini had grown defiant of Royal authority and anti-clericalism during his formative years as his numerous editorial work will attest. Mussolini will seek to create the impression that he is a devout Catholic, though since boyhood he has not been a churchgoer. Privately he scorns the rites and dogmas of the Church. An avowed atheist in his youth, he had once written a pamphlet titled God Does Not Exist.
Pius XI (1922-1939)
No Pope since the Middle Ages has been so heavily and repeatedly attacked by Catholics as Pius XI. Several French Catholic writers have denounced him as a simpleton duped by European statesmen and a traitor to the Church when he, to oblige an Atheistic Government, persecuted the Catholic royalists. Germans have never forgiven him for ordering them in 1932 to drop their hostility to Hitler because that unscrupulous apostate had made him promises which, as usual, he disowned as soon as he was in power. Austrian Catholics have the same bitter complaint. American Catholics were shocked by his support of Mussolini's massacre of Abyssinia and are outraged by his alliance with Japan in China and very many of them at least by his co-operation with Italy in Spain. English Catholics, who have had the rare experience of seeing one of their own writers attack the Papacy, may be divided on the Pope's action in Spain and know nothing about his support of Japan, but they have been affronted by a shameless exhibition of Vatican greed. There were very many Catholics who did not rejoice when, in 1937, the Pope recovered from a dangerous illness. There are many who do not mourn today.
I must refer to my earlier work for the proofs that the ground of his main policy is the fact that during the fifteen years after the War his Church lost at least 50,00 0,000 followers, or nearly one-fourth of its total membership, in the Catholic provinces of Germany, and in Austria, Czechoslovakia, Italy, Spain, Mexico, and South America. Ignoring, or ignorant of, the fact that the Church has decayed for more than half a century, and that secessions were bound to increase in the twentieth century, he came to the conclusion that the spread of Bolshevism was the chief cause. He had the usual muddled idea of a priest as to what Bolshevism is, and he was probably ignorant that outside Russia Socialism made for greater progress than Communism. In his early years of office, indeed, he made an effort to secure the favour of the Soviet leaders just when they are supposed to have been most cruel. In 1922 he intrigued to obtain, and did obtain, entry into Russia on the pretext of helping to relieve the famine. The most mendacious book about Russian atrocities and persecution of religion is that of the American Jesuit, Father E.A. Walsh, yet this man was the Pope's chief agent in Russia and was courteously treated from 1922 to 1924, when his intrigues were exposed. Then the Pope discovered that these had really been years of, he said, atrocious persecution, and he raised the fiery cross. A powerful ally had appeared on the horizon.
Eight months after he had ascended the Papal throne he saw the Fascists usurp power in Rome and announce a war upon Communism. Although Mussolini had previously abandoned his fierce anti-clericalism and now made courteous gestures (the gift of a valuable library, etc.) to the Vatican, the blasphemies and threats he had poured out until little more than a year earlier were painfully fresh in the mind of Roman ecclesiastics, and his approaches were coldly received. Next year General de Rivera imitated the military Fascist usurpation in Spain, and the Pope saw a drastic, anti-Communist dictatorship in close alliance with the Church; and the visit to Rome of Rivera in some sense linked the Vatican and the Quirinal which the Spanish dictator regarded as equal shrines of his faith. While, however, the Pope cordially supported the Fascist regime in Spain, the obstacles in Italy remained formidable. Mussolini was an apostate, and his followers were predominantly anti-clerical; on the other hand, Liberalism and Socialism remained very powerful in Italy, and at the time of the murder of Matteotti very gravely shook Mussolini's power. After 1925 the Duce entered upon a truculent policy of suppression, consolidated his strength, and at last sought the alliance with the Vatican, which would, he thought, bring some 20,000,000 Catholics into the body of his supporters.
It seems likely that the Duce had in mind the action of Napoleon, but he found that Pius XI was a very different man from Pius VII, and that he himself was no Napoleon. The Pope drove a hard bargain, while the leading Fascists bitterly opposed any surrender to him. In the end he got:
* A political treaty recognizing the full sovereignty of the Holy See in the State of Vatican City. 108 acres of Rome as a politically independent Vatican City, control of all the schools (but not universities) of Italy, and the embodiment in the Civil Law of some of the most hated clauses of the Canon Law.
* A concordat regulating the position of the Catholic Church and the Catholic religion in the Italian state. The Church was established and endowed, the criticism of religion was made a penal offence, religious marriage was enforced, and the clergy and ecclesiastical property got considerable relief from taxation.
* A financial convention agreed on as a definitive settlement of the claims of the Holy See following the losses of its territories and property. 19,000,000 (the sum assigned to the Papacy in 1870 and interest thereon) — it is said that he lost the cash part of this (8,000,000) in the American crash later in the year.
For this the Pope sold his silence about the usurpation of power, the suppression of liberty, the brutal treatment of opponents, and the professed design of Mussolini to create "a race of conquerors" and give Italy an Empire by aggressive war. During the negotiations, which were drawn out for months by their mutual incriminations and the amazing attempts of the Pope to assert quite medieval claims (which the British and American Press suppressed), the Pope frequently objected that the Duce's entire conception of the State was pagan, not Christian; and in later encounters — for the Fascists fumed under the new law and often violated it — he at times ventured to repeat his charges. But he had sold his moral authority in 1929 when he signed the Lateran Treaty; and when the Catholics of England and America looked to him for a condemnation of the Abyssinian outrage, they heard only of two ambiguous and almost casual utterances, which the Italians regarded as approval, and the entire body of the Italian clergy and hierarchy, with the Pope's consent, enthusiastically applauded the campaign.
Through the Catholic Von Papen he obtained from Hitler an assurance of favourable terms for his Church in Germany, and he ordered the German bishops to direct the Catholics, while continuing to support their own political parties, to drop the hostility to the Nazis. This and the burning of the Reichstag by Goering's agents put Hitler in power in 1933, and he soon began to violate the Concordat with the Vatican which he had signed. Neither the Pope nor the German hierarchy had a word of condemnation for the gross outrages which followed the Nazi victory, and only at times was the Pope stung into censure by the Nazi tactics (suppression of Catholic organizations, legal prosecution of hundreds of monks and priests for vice, etc.) which were ruining what was left of the most flourishing branch of the Church.
Few Catholics know, since the British Press suppressed the fact, that the Pope ordered his clergy in the East to support the Japanese in their vile campaign, and most of them are reconciled to his action in Spain by the usual loose talk about Bolshevism and atrocities, but they beg us to note that the worst of the aggressor nations, Germany, is actually hostile to the Papacy. The suppression in the Press of the appalling exposure of the monks, though their guilt is not in the least questioned by any daily in the Catholic provinces, and of the rapid decay of the German Catholic body has, in fact, made the situation in Germany obscure for most people. The truth is that the Pope kept silent about all the atrocities committed by the Nazis because he continued year after year to seek co-operation with Hitler. On September 12, 1933, the Nazi organ, Die Nazionale Zeitung, published a letter of the Catholic bishops, which was to be read in all Catholic churches, appealing to Hitler to accept their aid in "fighting the ever-increasing threat of world-Bolshevism which shows its sinister hand in Spain, Russia, and Mexico." The Pope used the same language in an address at Rome a few days later, and the slogan spread through the entire Catholic world. As late as 1936 he was still pleading for co-operation, as the TIMES (November 13) reported. He had on the previous day sent Cardinal Faulhaber, head of the German Church, to plead with the Fuhrer, who disdainfully ignored the offer. The Catholic Church in Germany, Hitler said, was now too far advanced in decay to require consideration.
In Austria the Catholics or so-called "Christian Socialists", under the lead of Dollfuss, had consulted the Pope and Mussolini before they enfeebled their country by driving the Socialists into rebellion and imposing a semi-Fascist regime. When, in the spring of 1938, Mussolini cynically abandoned them to Hitler, the Pope was disturbed, but Cardinal Innitzer, head of the Austrian Church, flew to Rome and persuaded Pius that it would strengthen the hands of the Catholics in Germany itself if Austria entered the Reich. Through Innitzer, in fact, the Pope received fresh assurances from Hitler that the Church would be respected. It was, therefore, under the Pope's directions that the cardinal and the leading bishops ordered the Austrian Catholics to vote for Hitler. We do not yet know if the Pope was consulted when the Catholics of Sudeten Czecho-Slovakia secured, through Henlein, a similar promise of favourable treatment, which prompted them to join the seditious movement that led to annexation, but it would be difficult to doubt that the authorization of Rome was sought. Thus for five years the Pope was alternately duped and insulted by Hitler, and we can attach little moral value to the censures which he began at length to pass upon Germany.
In South America, where fifteen to twenty million left the Church between 1918 and 1935, the Pope followed the same policy of adhering to dictators and, through the local archbishops, supporting the savagery of which they have been guilty in some Republics. Only two of the smaller Republics, Chile and Colombia, were free democracies: in most of them a clerical-military dictatorship rules. The Popes return to their traditional weapon; violence. For some years they relied, as they still do in democratic countries, upon what they call Catholic Action. After 1500 years of clerical monopoly of the Church-work they felt that to meet the terrible menaces of the twentieth century they would have to enlist the services of the laity. All kinds of organizations, especially for young men, were created; and their functions varied from assassination in Spain and military training in South America to the intimidation of editors, booksellers, publishers, and librarians in England and America. In Catholic countries the new tactic entirely failed to arrest the disintegration of the Church, and the policy of alliance with capitalists, militarists, and political adventurers was launched.
The Papacy, with the world, returned to the Middle Ages. When the Pope called for the destruction of Bolshevism in Spain, Russia, and Mexico a formula which has been echoed throughout the entire Catholic world his meaning was unmistakable. His Papal banner floated over the rebel citadel at Burgos, and his priests supported the Japanese in China, so that he already blessed two horrible wars, one at least of which (in China) is plainly criminal in its scope and unspeakably foul in its procedure. In calling further for the destruction of Bolshevism in Russia and asking Hitler to permit him to co-operate in this he just as plainly gives his blessing in advance to the most criminal part of Hitler's programme, the design to invade and annex the Ukraine: a design so utterly destitute of principle and involving a war of such horrible proportions that the Fuhrer himself very rarely and discreetly refers to it.
The references to the book by Joseph McCabe, A History of the Popes end here.
But there are still more Popes who have been elected to that position in the next chapter.
Mr. McCabe concludes his book thus.
It is an amazing consummation of one of the strangest chapters in the history of religion. When, in the closing years of the eighteenth century, the French armies overran Rome, and their officers saw Pius VI wear a gilded cardboard tiara instead of the richly jewelled bead-pieces of his predecessors, they said that this was the last Pope. By a new alliance with murder the Popes recovered their power; and the dispersal of the Irish race over the British Empire and the newly-created world of North America opened out to them a golden prospect. Men began to dream of a time when visitors to the ruins of London would still find the Pope ruling half the world. But with the era of general education, abundant cheap literature, and free libraries the disintegration began again; and the Church in the course of a century lost fully one-half of its adult and educated members. It tried to meet the new danger by flooding the world with as false a literature as the lives of the martyrs or the Forged Decretals, a threat of eternal damnation to its subjects if they read any other literature, and, in the twentieth century, an increasing adulteration of non-Catholic literature, journalism, and education, on the plea that they must not be offensive to Catholics. A fresh revolutionary movement destroyed these defences over half the Catholic world, and the Papacy reverted to the policy of the thirteenth century.
It is customary to conclude such stories as this with a few words of forecast, but we have entered an age when no man can see even a few months ahead through the horrid murk. The future history of the Papacy will be determined by the general history of what is left of civilization. If the world returns to the Middle Ages, the Popes may expect to find themselves in a congenial world; unless, as is not impossible, the Swastika displaces the Italian cross over the greater part of the world. Indeed, it is not improbable that Italy also, when it completes its imperial designs, will conduct the Pope to its frontiers, thanking him for his provisional services. But if the structure of iniquity, greed, and callousness collapses, or is brought down in some as yet unpredictable world-conflict, it will surely take the Papal Church down with it into the dust. Pius XI with the support of his entire hierarchy, sinned against humanity. They have crucified man upon a cross of gold. Italy, Spain, Portugal, Austria, Bavaria, Poland, and South America will, if they recover freedom, surely abandon the Church, as Russia deserted the ecclesiastical ally of its tyrants. In the other countries where Catholics are numerous the steady disintegration will accelerate. No Catholic knows, or knows one-hundredth part of, this story of his Holy Church and Holy Fathers. They begin to peep over the barriers which their priests have raised; to resent the unmanly docility that has been won from them by false pretences. They are learning that the Papacy, instead of having guided Europe along the path toward civilization, has even in its best representatives been unfitted to supply that guidance; that it is unique in the history of religion only for the very high proportion of unworthy men who sat on its golden throne, the blood it has shed in defence of its power, the dishonesty of its credentials, and the record of treason to its own ideals.
Historian Mr. Joseph McCabe writes later in his 1939: The Black International No. 1 — The Vaticans Latest Crime
Dictatorship began first after World-War-One, 1914-1918, in Poland; and no government in the world was more subservient to the Vatican than the Polish, no other nation so solidly Catholic. The democracy began next in Spain where in 1923, the King and Church had, to prevent an inquiry into their corruption, set up a dictator. He had the blessing and cordial cooperation of the Pope. Mussolini had marched on Rome in the previous year, but his dictatorship was very imperfect — as late as 1925 more than 2,500,000 or half the country voted against him — until he came to terms with and bought the support of the Vatican. This was in 1929. From 1919 to 1929 — ten years after the First World War — the only blows at democracy, which instead of being "defunct," as Dr. Ryan, Catholic bishop of Omaha says, was as vigorous as ever, had been dealt in Catholic countries with the warm support of the hierarchy, and the Pope.
In 1929 Pacelli-Pius became Secretary of State at the Vatican, and democracy began to bleed. Japan started on China, (1931) and the only power in the world to enter into close association with it was the Vatican City. Germany still rejected Nazism, but in 1932 the Pope made an underhand deal with Hitler and this was one of the chief reasons why Hitler won and destroyed democracy. In 1934 democracy was destroyed in Vienna, after Dollfuss had had an interview with the Pope and with the zealous cooperation of the Austrian hierarchy; and Mussolini, loudly cheered by the whole Italian Church, entered Abyssinia. Next year (1935) Pacelli visited South America, and the statesmen and generals who fawned upon him made a bloody end of democracy. In 1936 Franco, with the Pope's blessing, began his vile work in Spain, and the way was prepared for the world-assault on democracy. It survives, fighting for its life, in non-Catholic countries.
That is the story, and that this is the true outline of it everybody knows. The Church of Rome is vitally implicated in the most criminal and most gigantic conspiracy in history. It blesses or courts men to whom lying is a pastime and wholesale murder and brutality are necessities which they defend with amazing callousness.
Historian Mr. Joseph McCabe writes later in his: The Black International No. 2 — How the Pope of Peace Traded in Blood
The color chosen by the Popes is White. Their flag, it is true, White and Gold, to remind us that they are Kings and need a royal revenue of a billion a year, but that is, they say, necessary to a ruler of the world. Their personal color-theme is white, a flowing white cassock and a white-silk skull-cap: symbols of their purity life and purpose and their never-ceasing efforts to keep the world in peace and tranquillity. The vast economic organization over which they preside, the Black International, takes its name from the black-garbed clergy. Let me here just outline the historical evidence that the real Reds are, and always have been, the Popes, cardinals and their bishops.
Eugenic Pacelli, was the next successor in the long list of Popes. He would take on the name of Pope Pius XII, but before we contemplate in the next chapter his role as Pope we shall first examine his ascent toward that pinnacle position and his influence prior to it.
Upon his elction as pontiff he was hailed throughout the Catholic world as the Pope of Peace. Cardinal Hinsley explains in his introduction to The Pope Speaks (1940) that the beautiful motto of his ancient and aristocratic family is (translated): "Peace is the Fruit of Justice." Yes; Mussolini has said that hundreds of times, with the accent on the word justice. Hitler merely wants justice and then he will give what is left of us peace. I am going to show that Pius XII above any other Pope of modern times, even Pius IX, is entitled to be called the Red Pope, the Pope of War.
One of the flatterers of "the venerable Church" has called him "the Greatest Neutral." He never has been neutral. For at least five years he has openly called for war on Bolshevism in Mexico, Spain, China, and Russia. Does anyone suppose that he was thinking of ancient Jericho and merely wanted the priests to blow their trumpets? He was summoning Italy, Germany, Japan, and the United States to war. Leaving out the United States, which was unwilling to draw the chestnuts out of the fire for the Pope and Wall Street, in this slogan which Pacelli, as Secretary of State, sent echoing through the Catholic world he was shrieking for just that war on Spain, China, and Russia which we have seen.
If anybody is unaware, which hardly seems likely, that the Pope had for the last five or six years used all his influence to get Italy, Germany, and Japan to make war, respectively, on Spain, Russia, and China, which would mean a world-war, he will have ample evidence later. First let us see how this Red Pope became what he is.
Eugenic Pacelli comes of what is commonly called an ancient and Italian noble family which had lost its wealth but not its piety. His father was a Papal lawyer and, as is usual in such cases, one son was destined for the clerical career; especially as in the last century government or military service was closed to good Catholics in Italy, the Papacy still branding the government or the royal family "robbers." More than four-fifths of the inhabitants of the Papal States had voted to be transferred from Papal rule to that of the Kings of Italy but that meant nothing to the "democratic" Leo XIII. He was "the prisoner of the Vatican", eliciting golden sympathy from America, and the Italian statesmen were robbers. So careers for Catholic youths of noble birth and little money were few in Italy.
I do not suggest that Pius XII does not believe his theology, as probably half the clergy do not in one degree or other. No one is likely to know except himself what he believes. Priests hardly ever tell each other. Zeal is no criterion, however. The Catholic priesthood and hierarchy are an immense economic corporation centered in Rome just as Christian Science is, in its official framework, a business with headquarters in Boston. Naturally its members are zealous; and the more responsibility they have (which is won by the extent of their zeal) the more zealous they are. The Catholic who imagines its Pope and his cardinals regarding money as a mundane affair with which they have to soil their white fingers occasionally should hear two or three priests talking about them when they get to the second bottle.
Here is some interesting information about the higher clergy of Rome which came to me a few years ago from a priest through one intermediary, a friend of high character. When Rome obliged English Catholics a few years ago by making a Saint of witty old Thomas More it sent them, to their stupefaction, a bill for $65,000 (costs) and of $20,000 for a little present to the Pope! This present was a gold chalice which, as the price of gold rose, would be just a lump of pure gold worth about $50,000. The ceremonies at Rome were a close monopoly of the Italians — at least under pressure they let one English priest hold a candle and charged him $50 — and every cardinal had his fixed price.
But understand that I suggest nothing whatever about the Pope's belief or unbelief. He has a job of work, and this was his apprenticeship for it. In college he discovered an ability for learning languages and a special zeal for learning Canon Law, so he was drafted into the Secretariat of State very soon after he became priest, and there he would find himself on the fringe of the mysteries of Vatican diplomacy. He also, being of noble birth, joined and became a professor in The Academy of Ecclesiastics of Noble Birth of course, the less said about that the better in America, where one has to protect the legend that all his life when the great ones of the earth kissed his ring during his tours of the world, when he occupied a gorgeous suite in the Vatican as Secretary of State, and even now that he sits on the golden throne — his one ardent desire was that he could become a humble parish priest amongst the poor. He is an aristocrat to his finger-tips. He loathes democracy. He doubles Leo XIII (in his crooked diplomacy) and Innocent III (who virtually founded the Inquisition).
Pacelli made such progress in the department that at the comparatively early age of 41 he was sent out on a very important mission. Pope Benedict XV, who had notoriously intrigued with the Germans and the Austrians against the Italians, during the war recollected that he was a Pope of Peace when, in 1917, it became doubtful if the Germans would win. He then wanted to have the world-prestige of bringing it to a close, and he sent Pacelli as Nuncio (ambassador) with plans of peace to Germany. Pacelli was announced as Nuncio to Bavaria, but within a week he was in Berlin seeing the Chancellor. He even saw the Kaiser, who told him to take his plans home because he was sure to win the war. Why doesn't the Pope rather, he said, detach Italy from the Allies and link it with Austria, as they are both Catholic countries? Because, said Pacelli, there is a very strong patriotic movement in Italy in favor of continuing the war led by a fiery young journalist named Benito Mussolini. The Pope's biographers say that the Kaiser told Pacelli to take no notice of "that scum" but to go ahead and detach Italy from England. It is a neat little picture.
The gaunt, grim, swarthy young Nuncio next year saw the fall of the Kaiser and the riots in Munich. He met the "mob" with simple heroism, of course — in Catholic literature — but the important point is that this was the beginning of his knowledge and hatred of the Reds. He remained in Munich until 1925, so he saw, with what feelings he has not told us, the rise of a similar "scum" in Bavaria and the comic-opera "March on Berlin," when Hitler made the record run of his life — backwards. In 1925 he was sent as Nuncio to Berlin, and as this was the beginning of the best period in recent German history, the five years of peace and comparative prosperity under a Liberal-Socialist coalition, Pacelli must know better than any man in Italy that the excuse which was later made for Hitler in the world-press, the flattery under shelter of which the Nazis created their formidable power, the plea that they had saved Germany from chaos and distress, is a lie.
As part of the evidence, if evidence is required, that Pius XII has only one aim in all his policy — not the peace of the world but the power of the Church — the twelve years he spent in Germany are important. He acquired a thorough knowledge of German, thought he speaks it (and French) with, a marked accent, and as far as German affairs are concerned he has never been at the mercy of bigoted And muddle-headed Vatican officials. He saw the years of confusion after the War end in a working compromise and a new Germany rising cheerfully from the ruins. Lamentable as the feud of Communists and Socialists was, it was a domestic squabble and did not seriously disturb the national economy after 1924; and the Catholic Church had more freedom and prestige than ever. Pacelli knows as little about economics as he does about history and science, but at least he was intelligent enough to see, during his four years in Berlin, that under a predominantly Socialist rule Germany was making all the progress that could be expected with so crippling a debt, and it was not internal confusion but its share in the world-slumps and the cessation of fat loans from America and Britain from the end of 1929 that led to the comparative distress of 1930-32 of which the Nazis took advantage. We shall see that Pacelli at one time (1934) in a fit of temper wrote the sharpest condemnation of Hitler that ever came from a clerical pen. He always loathed Hitler as a plebeian upstart and an apostate from the Church, even when he was compelling the German bishops to bow humbly before him and beg to be allowed to have a share in his dirty work. But Hitler promised to make an end of Socialism, and that — not (outside of Russia) Communism or Bolshevism — is the Big Bad Wolf in the eyes of the Vatican. Socialism has not only a constant anti-Papal tradition, which will surprise nobody who knows the facts, but to oblige its wealthy supporters the Vatican has been compelled for half a century to condemn it as immoral on the ground that private ownership is a right based upon natural moral law.
It was, however, not until Pacelli had left Germany that the Nazis showed any prospect of ever attaining power, and he regarded them as a vulgar and disorderly rabble led by a bunch of unsavory apostates and "pansies." Three years later he would, as Secretary of State, compel the proud German hierarchy, against their very decided will, to greet Hitler as the Savior of Germany and the White Hope of the Church. Let us remember that Pacelli did not act from ignorance. He was less innocent than Chamberlain. If he had any ability at all — and he has considerable ability — he knew Germany thoroughly. Will Catholics call it a wicked suspicion if we assume that this observer of events, who lived eight years in Munich and four in Berlin, had read Mein Kampf? He knew the program: the glorification of the German race, the domination of Europe, the annexation of the Ukraine, the massacre of the Jews, the annihilation of France — in a word, war on a stupendous scale. Catholics do not obtrude his intimate knowledge of Germany.
He was recalled to Rome in the summer of 1929 while Germany was still cheerfully recovering and the Catholics cooperated amiably with the Socialists and Liberals. Pacelli had been head of the diplomatic corps at Berlin. The French ambassador had the real right to that position and the Papal ambassador no right. But the Germans hated the French too much to let the honor fall to them. It is another point to bear in mind about this pre-hitler Germany, which Pacelli helped to ruin, that it genially tolerated a Papal Nuncio at the head of the diplomatic corps and a Catholic Chancellor in the Wilhelmsstragse. German Catholics had never before seen such things.
Pacelli's patron, the Secretary of State Cardinal Gasparri, was now 80 years old and unfit for office. He seems to have marked out Pacelli as his successor, and he brought him back to the Vatican for a few months of final training. Even Catholic literature is a little confused here. Pacelli became Secretary of State, which is the highest position in the Church after that of the Pope, in February, 1930. In 1931 a gossip-paragraph appeared in the Italian press to the effect that it was expected in Rome that the new Secretary of State was about to be dismissed and old Gasparri reinstated. Clearly the old men were conspiring against Pacelli, but the same Catholic writers who say that it was because he was too lenient to Mussolini had already said that Gasparri had always been in favor of alliance with that brutal adventurer. We will return to the point in a moment, but it will be useful first to run a cursory eye over the ten years' activity of Pacelli as Secretary of State.
He took up residence in the gorgeous suite of rooms, with heavy gilt furniture and magnificent decorations, in the Vatican Palace. Just at the time when the Pope and Mussolini, who had in the previous year signed the infamous compact — the Lateran Treaty — by which (in effect) the Papacy undertook to condone all Mussolini's crimes in return for $90,000,000 and a royal independence, had begun to quarrel fiercely, as crooks are apt to do, over the bargain. Pacelli smoothed out the quarrel, got the Duce to bend his knees in St. Peter's, and got the Pope to have a cordial chat with him. So Mussolini was safely launched on his bloody career.
In the same year, 1931, Japan seized Manchuria and began to debauch the Chinese. While all the world looked on with disgust at the brigandage Pacelli accepted the overtures of Japan and the more Japan advanced and became a menace to half the world, the deeper Pacelli made the Vatican's alliance with the callous and unscrupulous bandits. In 1932 Hitler made his supreme bid for power and failed, and Pacelli then ordered the German hierarchy to withdraw their opposition to him so that he secured power and enter upon his career of blood.
In 1934 Pacelli went to South America to preside at a Eucharistic Congress and saw the heads of each "Republic" and their bishops; and by a remarkable coincidence, if you can think it that, Fascism began to sweep the country, rebels against the Church went to jail in tens of thousands, and the Germans and Italians in South America entered upon their audacious plans. In the same year the Christian Socialists of Austria, after their leaders visited the Pope, treacherously crushed Socialism and prepared the way for Hitler. In the same year Mussolini began the slaughter of Abyssinia and the whole Italian Church made whoopee, and at the end the Pope gave the Queen of Italy as Empress of Abyssinia Golden Rose, which is the highest mark of Papal approval.
In 1936 General Franco visited the Vatican, and his revolt, which had the most open and solemn blessing of the Papacy, was the first serious step of the Axis brigands in their projected campaign. In 1938 Hitler annexed Austria with the full support of the Austrian Church, which is one of the most docile to the Vatican in the world. In the same year the Sudeten Catholics at one end of Czecho-Slovakia and the Slovak Catholics at the other betrayed their country and put Hitler in a position to defy the rest of Europe and prepare for his insane attempt to dominate the world.
A remarkable ten-year record for the Pope of Peace, the Greatest Neutral, the Friend of Democracy, and the Black International which carried out his instructions! That record we have to examine in detail, proving it by public acts and published utterances, and then to consider the Pope's first two years of pontifical activity. But, as we go into detail, do not lose sight of the fact that Pacelli-Pius's ruling idea throughout is "the extinction of Bolshevism" by the peaceful bombs and bayonets of the Germans, Italians, Japanese; to which, in furtherance of the work of peace, he now wants to add the bombs and bayonets of Vichy France, Franco Spain, Salazar Portugal, and Horthy Hungary.
HIS GLORIOUS ALLY MUSSOLINI
It was on March 12, 1939, that Eugenio reached the summit of ambition and was crowned in St. Peter's. Next day a man who lived on the frontier of Italy and France sent to the most respected newspaper in Great Britain, the Manchester Guardian, a letter which it — and probably it alone of the British or American press — had the courage to publish. The writer reminded people that March 12th was also the last day for Jews to remain in Italy. He described from personal observation the appalling sufferings of the 70,000 Jews who, robbed of their goods, were racing for frontiers which to a large extent were sealed against them. He saw old men, women, and children panting up the Alpine slopes to France and says that the carabineri and frontier-troops had "orders to facilitate their migration if necessary with the help of a bayonet." He saw elderly folks "collapse on the way up the vast acres of the Italian slope"; little children "stagger, their feet bleeding, into the frontier villages"; women try to throw themselves under the traffic when the French at last put up the barriers; babies abandoned or lost by the wayside.
This had gone on for a week and it was continuing in a last frantic rush of the robbed Jews while the bells of St. Peter's and all the churches in Italy rang out joyously over the sunny land. What did the Pope of Peace do? The writer of the letter says that the Italian carabinieri and soldiers were so moved that they forgot their instructions about the bayonet and carried children tenderly to the frontier. What did the Pope do? Nothing: except receive the splendid congratulations of Mussolini and his ministers. Catholic biographers boast that during the week which followed his coronation Pacelli-Pius, sinking under the burden of work, slept only three hours every night. Very heroic, but a little puzzling, because as Secretary of State he had been doing just that work for ten years. Why the arrears? But what did he do for the Jews, for crushed and bleeding democrats of Italy, for the heart-broken and suffering Czechs? Nothing, just nothing.
The Italian problem had, as I said, been the first to engage Pacelli when he became Secretary of State. I have told elsewhere (Little Blue Book No. 1501 and ABC Library No. 2) the story of the rise of Fascism and its early relation to the Church, In 1917 Mussolini and his cut-throats were, as the Kaiser had said, "scum." They were atheists, republicans, and gangsters until 1921. Then, to the surprise of many, Mussolini asked Cardinal Ratti for permission for the Black Shirts to make a solemn procession to the tomb of the Unknown Warrior in Milan Cathedral and the cardinal gladly accepted and gave them a "place of honor," says the Catholic Teeling (p. 106). Next year was the march on Rome (with Mussolini 100 miles away), and the Duce pompously declared St.Peter's and all church property under his special protection and ordered a thanksgiving service with the King in attendance, at one of the principle churches of Rome for the salvation of Italy. From Scum to Savior of his Country in two years!
There is no secret about it. It is one of the most painful features of the American literature of the subject that the respected head of a great university, Nicholas Murray Butler, dupe of American Catholics, lent his pen (Looking Forward) in that glorification of Mussolini which was as useful as a smoke-screen to the Fascists while they prepared for war, Professor Salvemini (Under the Axe of Fascism, 1936) has given Dr. Butler a chastisement such as few scholars ever give each other for his gullibility in accepting Catholic lies about the "confusion and ruin" caused by the Communists from which Mussolini saved Italy. The author Selde's shows that Mussolini later confessed that he invented the Communist boogie to help the loan he had floated in America. The danger was Socialism which was conquering Italy, and so politicians, royalists, generals, and industrialists put Mussolini in the saddle, after fumigating him of his atheism and republicanism.
But in spite of this powerful support of throne, army, and capital the seat in the saddle remained very insecure for seven years. Mussolini had not dared to extinguish the democracy for which italians had fought so nobly from 1790 to 1870. Liberals and Socialists were powerfully organized and, as in Spain, commanded the majority of the votes in the cities, where the most intelligent and the best-informed of the Italians lived. When, in 1924, Mussolini was believed to have had the most respected leader of the Socialists, Matteotti, removed by murder — his public utterances on the murder were so gross and callous that his guilt seemed clear — so many turned against him that at the elections of 1926 his power was ominously shaken. He needed just one element to turn the scale in his favor.
The peasants and a certain number of the urban workers were organized in a powerful Catholic Democratic movement. The Pope had, as in Germany and Austria, allowed this bastard Socialism to grow up under their eyes as one way to check the loss of so many millions to the Socialists and Communists. These Catholic democrats fought the Fascists as truculently as the Communists did and while they equally detested the Socialists and Liberals and would not cooperate with them, they at least represented further millions in opposition to Mussolini.
As Pacelli was in Germany during these years we do not suppose that he had much to do with Vatican policy in Italy and will dismiss events with a brief notice. Both sides, Blackshirts and Black International, saw that they must sooner or later enter into alliance against Socialism, and Mussolini's backers, the throne, army, and capital, insisted on it. Mussolini on his side sacrificed his convictions and restrained his anti-Papal followers with all the ease of an adventurer. He, as I said, ordered a superb thanksgiving service in church for his accession to power and presented a very valuable, old library to the Vatican. He then complained to the Vatican about ending the conduct of the Catholic democrats under the priest Sturzo. The priest disappeared because of obscure Fascist threats of reprisals against the Church, Seldes says (The Vatican, p. 331) and the party was weakened. But the opposition went on and Mussolini made little progress. The Vatican knew the strength of its hand and wanted a price that Mussolini feared his followers would never agree to pay.
Seldes says that the revelation of the Pope's prestige in America the Chicago Eucharistic Congress in 1926 at length stirred Mussolini to bold action. It was more probably the menace of Italian elections. Secret negotiations began at that time but the Pope's terms were so exorbitant that they dragged out for two years. In 1926 Farinacei, Mussolini's bulldog and leader of the anti-clerical Old Guard of the Fascists, publicly declared that the alliance was necessary. Mussolini, he said — Seldes gives his words — was ready to deal with the Pope "in return for the moral support of the Vatican for his policy." What the policy was every child knew — the final extinction of liberty in Italy and, as a minimum, the recovery of Savoy and Corsica from France, Malta from England, Dalmatia from Yugo-Slavia — and, instead of talking about peaceful recovery by negotiation Mussolini was thundering about his millions of bayonets whenever he opened his elegant mouth.
In 1928 the Maltese got up a kind of revolt against Britain. There was a trial of strength between the civil and the clerical authorities, and the Premier, Lord Strickland, though a Catholic, bitterly resented the interference of the clergy in the elections. It was proved that they even used the confessional to intimidate voters. Mussolini watched with great interest, and, when the British Government in the end began its historic policy of appeasement and Strickland was sacrificed, the Duce had a new proof of the utility of the Church. A high Anglican official in Malta at the time informed me, privately, that the Governor of the island, who let down Strickland, was "grossly deceived by the Papal Delegate, Msgr. Pascal Robinson"; and he added "more mischief-making in Dublin." The Black International won first blood for Mussolini.
So Fascists had to swallow the condition's, and in 1929 the Blackshirts and the Blackmailer signed their compact. The Pope got nearly $100,000,000, the independence and sovereignty of the Vatican City, the control of all Italian education except in the universities, and the enforcement of the Canon Law, the establishment of the Church and endowment of the priests. The Duce got a hand for the complete destruction of democracy in Italy and the silence of the Pope while he murdered democrats and got out on his glorious campaign to make Empire by selecting weak countries for aggression.
This was the year of Pacelli's return to Rome, but his biographers are not lavish with detail at this point and do not enable us to say definitely — and I refuse to go on suspicions — what, if any, share he had in this sordid business. I have to recall it, as briefly as possible, because it was the first great triumph of the Black International in our time, and it was one of the most important steps in the advance of the brigands toward the realization of their plot. It finally established the power of Mussolini. It caused Catholic papers and writers (and sympathizers like Dr. Nicholas Murray Butler) to take the lead in that praise of Fascism in italy — had not the Pope blessed it? — which was of the greatest importance to the brigands in preparing their armaments. And it gave Mussolini's imitator in Germany the idea that after all it would pay to come to terms, hypocritically, with the Black International.
But, whatever share Pacelli may have had in drafting the treaty of alliance with Mussolini, he had a full share in securing that the alliance was not wrecked. The Fascist Party was still so bitterly anti-Papal that Mussolini had, in soothing his followers, to use language which the Pope angrily described (in the Osservatore, May 30) as "heretical, and worse than heretical." Blackshirts in Rome and the country insulted the priests and the Church. The Pope spoke publicly of the possibility that he would repudiate the Treaty, and in that case, he said, "Vatican City itself would fall together with the state that is dependent on Vatican City for its being" (same letter in the Osservatore). The Catholic world and the world-press were alarmed. If Mussolini fell, they said, Socialism would capture Italy. As Cardinal Hinsley, head of the Church in Britain, said at a later date, Fascism was "in many respects unjust" but it "Prevented worse injustice — if it goes under, God's cause goes with it." (Catholic Times, October 18th, 1935). God's cause is, in the mouth of a cardinal, the power of the Church: and the end justifies the means.
Pacelli to the rescue. Old Gasparri, who was stirring the Pope to resist, was pushed aside, and the Saint George — who wanted to save the world — the world of wealth and privilege — from the Dragon, Socialism donned his shining armor. Friction continued, of course. Most of the leading Blackshirts hated the Pope, and the Pope and his new Secretary of State heartily hated them. But the alliance was indispensable. Mussolini now roared like any sucking dove about the beauty of religion. "I wish to see religion everywhere in the country," he said; "let us teach the children their catechism" (Manchester Guardian, June 19, 1931). He, as I said, publicly prayed in St. Peter's. Cardinal Gasparri at the Eucharistic Congress of 1932 hailed him as "the man who first saw clearly in the present world chaos" the man who is "getting the State to work in accordance with the moral law of God" (Catholic Herald, September 16 1932). The friction was reduced and the world was officially assured that the last Census had proved that 99 percent of the Italians were Catholics.
It was an insincere alliance. The organization of lay dupes known as Catholic Action now gave Mussolini trouble. He demanded that the Pope check it, and something seems to have been done, but secretly Pacelli got the pope to write glowing praise of the international Catholic Action and knowing that in spite of the sacred independence of the Vatican City Mussolini's spies watched it closely he sent the document by two priests to Paris for publication. The old trickery of Vatican diplomacy was cultivated. When, as in the case of the annexation of Austria, local prelates, who would not dare to stir a finger against Papal policy, acted in support of the Axis, the Vatican Radio would announce to the world that the Pope disapproved. When this angered Axis supporters they were assured that the radio message was unauthorized and sent out without consulting the Vatican. Sometimes the Papal newspaper, the Osservatore, was used and, to please both sides, was then declared unauthorized. Neither the Radio nor the Osservatore would dare to send out or print an unauthorized message on an important point. Foreign correspondents in Rome received telephone messages from the Vatican which were later declared unauthorized. Ambiguous utterances, as in the case of Abyssinia, were put into the mouth of the Pope, and Axis Catholics were encouraged to read them one way and democratic Catholics to read them in the opposite way. And every Easter and Christmas the beautiful message of Peace rolled out, while between those festivals the Catholic world was inspired everywhere to demand war on Spain, Russia, China, and Mexico.
There was another aspect of the alliance. While Cardinal Gasparri assured the Catholic world that Mussolini was "getting the state to work in accordance with the moral law of God" and Cardinal Hinsley was warning it that "God's cause" would be lost in Italy if Mussolini fell, it was open to anybody to ascertain what social improvement, if any, the Duce had actually accomplished. Reference books like the Statesman's Year Book which were in every good library gave year by year the official Italian returns of crime, education, production, trade, debt, etc.
It is astonishing today to reflect how very few people thought of testing in this simple and positive way what truth there was in almost universal press admiration of the efficiency and national service of Fascism. It must, at least, seem astonishing to any man who does not accept my suggestion that Mussolini's work in crushing a great Socialist movement was so appreciated in the world-press that it would not inquire whether his boast of efficiency was true or not. It reproduced everything that its correspondents in Italy, generally, Catholics, cared to send it about finer rail-services (on some lines), new buildings, great farms on reclaimed land, and so on, and it refused to see in works of reference, which were at every editor's elbow that production was decaying and the internal debt (chiefly due to forced loans) was increasing at so formidable a rate that bankruptcy loomed ahead — unless Mussolini brought off, and brought off successfully, the aggressive war he promised his people, and founded an Italian Empire by murdering and looting other peoples.
On the religious side it was worse. The only definite test weather a nation is or is not getting more in accord with "the moral law of God" is to examine its criminal statistics. In the Papal States, before the Kingdom of Italy had been established, there had been no statistics of any sort, but not a single authority questions the statement of contemporary Italian statesmen and foreign visitors that crime and corruption were appalling. Italy then, from 1870 onward, had a very fair success in reducing crime, though the success was not nearly so great as in less-Catholic countries. But from the time of the accession to power of Mussolini crime increased amazingly. Convictions rose from about 500,000 a year in the period which Dr. Nicholas Murrak Butler describes so darkly, the Socialist-Communist-Liberal period (before 1923), to 800,000 a year in the period of Mussolini's remarkable efficiency.
It makes it rather worse that this was due to some extent to the poverty and distress he had brought upon both the workers and the middle class while the Church, as I said, got an enormous accession of wealth. Other causes were the impoverishment and prostitution of education and the preparation of the people for the wanton bloodshed of aggressive war. It was at the very time when Pacelli, the future Pope of Peace, was bringing the Pope and the Duce to have a cordial meeting in the Vatican that Mussolini was writing the most official statement of the nature of Fascism for the new Encyclopedia Italiana (article, "Fascism")
When Fascism looks to the future, the general development of humanity, apart from considerations of present polities, it rejects the idea that perpetual peace is either possible or desirable. It repudiates Pacifism, which means a renunciation of struggle, a refusal to make sacrifices. War alone raises the energy of man to the highest pitch and impresses a seal of nobility upon the nations which have the manliness to undertake it. All other trials of strength are substitutes which never prove a man's worth by confronting him with the alternative of life and death.
That was taught to every child in every school in Italy. Didn't the Vatican know it? Are we supposed to find documentary proof that the Vatican knew what was going on in every part of Italy?
Pacelli had come from Germany where he had seen Socialism as a mighty power already in control of more than one-third of the country, dreaded by the Catholic hierarchy because, though the Social Democrats now worked with the Catholics, they drew millions from the Church, dreaded by imperialists, militarists, industrialists, and landowners. He came to Italy where he saw how just such a powerful Socialist organization had been completely destroyed as it was from 1928 onward by just such a coalition of royalists, industrialists, militarists, and landowners taking up a brutal spearhead resembling the German Nazism and consolidating its position by an alliance with the Church just as in the good old days of the early nineteenth, century. His grand idea, war on Socialism, gradually took shape. How in its interest he kept the Pope silent and the Italian Church wildly patriotic when Mussolini began his imperial brigandage in Abyssinia we shall see later. Other problems meantime confronted him and the Black International.
HIS DEAR YELLOW BROTHER IN BUDDHA
In the year 1899 the democratic Pope Leo XIII had made the ears of American Catholic's burn. Their apologists and prelates had begun to put before the public that conception of the Church of Rome as the devoted ally of democracy and freedom with which we have grown very familiar in recent years. Leo smote them hip and thigh. That was "Americanism" not sound Catholicism. The archbishops writhed but were silent. Leo was not very far from death, and "from that time to this no Pope has spoken out." So says the Catholic Teeling, and he adds: "The reason would seem to have been that America has provided an ever-increasing supply of funds and an ever increasing supply of missionaries." (The Pope in Polities, p.150). Certainly a golden reason; though why, on Catholic principles, a particular version of Catholicism not backed by gold should be so humiliatingly denounced and then tolerated when it was gold is not clear. If I assigned that reason for the Vatican's change of policy in regard to American Catholic propaganda I would be angrily accused of wicked suspicions and suggestions where I could not give positive evidence.
But the Vatican only changed its tactics not its policy. Pius XI, says Teeling, was particularly zealous to bring the oriental Churches into his fold — "so that the growth of democratic Catholicism in the New World be counter-balanced." At the Vatican, he says (p. 3), "Western influence is not considered very good for the Church." That is one reason why Mussolini was encouraged in the rape of Abyssinia and his design of becoming Emperor of the East, why the Vatican flirted for years with Russia, and why it approved the savage aggression against Yugo-Slavia and Greece. To sustain this policy the Secretary of State had to do some very neat tight-rope balancing. For British opinion, in spite of all the "Lords" and aristocrats the Jesuits have captured, he seems not to have cared much. If for once I cared to indulge in a conjecture I should say that he detests England. Whether that is connected with his chilly experiences when he was sent to represent the Papacy at the coronation of George V or whether he sees through the Catholic pretense that they are "converting England" I don't know, but Teeling, who made a number of visits to Rome, says that after Pacelli became secretary of State English Catholics found a reception at the Vatican and could with difficulty get an audience with the Pope. They were told to see Pacelli, and they discovered that they were "not popular," though doubtless they left the customary purse with Pacelli.
But American Catholicism was a very different matter. It claimed 20,000,000 members and said that it would have the majority in America by the end of the century. Its wealth is already in the billions of dollars; its annual income $800,000,000. Imagine Pacelli's eyes rolling as he turned these sum's into Italian lire! In 1936 he visited America, Did he encourage the efforts as described by Seldes, of American Catholics, in cooperation with Mexican refugee priests, to get an alliance with Wall Street in order to secure the liquidation of Bolshevism in Mexico? Had he any meetings with the Italian and German plotters in America? Did he harden that feeling against Russia which Germany counted as one of its favorable conditions? But we must not be suspicious. There is no Proof. We know one thing that he did do. Instead of rebuking the American propagandists who represented the Church as spontaneously democratic and a lover of freedom and peace he went out of his way everywhere to leave the impression that he cordially admired the American spirit of freedom and democracy. He certainly did not mention that the Vatican policy was to augment the oriental elements in the Church so as to counter-balance "western influence" which was "not considered very good for the Church", in the mild language of a Catholic writer. And he certainly did not call the attention of Americans to the fact that the Vatican had entered into a close alliance with Japan.
This alliance with Japan ran the usual course in Catholic literature. At first it was indignantly denied. Where was the proof? When the Osservatore itself proudly announced on May 5, 1935, that the Pope was to send an ambassador to Tokyo and that Tokyo was to appoint a representative at the Pope's court in Vatican City a new note was struck. It was the Pope's duty to enter into negotiation with any government to protect the spiritual interests of Catholics under that government. Had not even England sent a representative to the Pope's court? Yes: but "poor rich powerful England" as Ambassador Dodd called it, was up to its eyes in a policy of appeasement, while in 1936 Japan had started on its full career of aggression and of the massacre, debauching, and exploiting of hundreds of millions of weaker folk. That is some difference. And when, in the spring of 1941, Pacelli-Plus had a most cordial interview with that other Man of Peace Matsuoka, the most brazen liar in a world of fluent liars, in the Vatican and, just when Japan was plotting to take advantage of the heavy burden of America and Britain to defy them by worse aggression and more insolent outrages than ever, the Pope smilingly presented him with a gold medal . . .
The story of the Japanese share in the world-crime is now fairly well known — see ABC Library No. 6 — and cannot be repeated here. All the world has seen its steady aggression for ten years, and all the world ought to have known from the start that Japan meant to conquer the whole eastern half of Asia and all islands in the Pacific. That the truth of this depends upon the disputed authenticity of some memoir by Baron Tanaka in the year 1927 is nonsense. I have described, largely from American journalists and authors (like Upton Close's Challenge. 1933), the very open growth of the plot since the later years of the last century. America was in fact so well aware of it that it alone of the democracies began years ago to take defensive naval measures, but there was, under the usual trade-interests, a lamentable lack of warning in the Press an almost general failure to see that Japan's were part of a world-plot and in this case a very mischievous appeasement-policy in religious periodicals on account of Japan's threats to the Christian missions.
To state events very briefly up to the time when the Japanese criminals, the American and European encouragement of modernization in Japan (while it paid better not to encourage it in China), the disbanding of the old Samurai swashbucklers (which sent vicious elements into the army, politics, and journalism), and the successful wars of Japan on easy victims like China (1895) and Tsarist Russia (1904) gave the yellow men inflated ideas of their ability and importance. The Black Dragon Society, which wanted the conquest of north-eastern Asia, was founded in 1901 and inspired aggressive fanaticism in naval and military circles. Advantage was taken of the European War of 1914-18 to get a strangle-hold on China but a terrible earthquake and the quick recovery of the Allies checked the ambition, though propaganda continued. By 1931 there were patriotic societies enthusiastically preaching it and running to two or three million members. General Hayashi, who had led the invasion of Manchuria in defiance of the civil government, said in a speech to foreign correspondents; at the close of the campaign:
Japan's desire for expansion on the Eastern Asiatic Continent manifested in her Manchurian police has been her unalterable policy since her foundation.
The development of the gangrene differed little from the development in Europe. In Japan the army and navy were the nucleus and source of infection. The score of rich families which mainly represented capitalism were easily persuaded to see that it was the destiny of the Yamato race to extend its culture to (or exploit) China. The Emperor hardly needed persuading that soldiers know best. The politicians and the heads of the Buddhist and Shinto religions were bought. For the quite open share of these religions and their sudden enrichment by the imperialist brigands see the speeches at the Chicago International Conference on Religion in 1934 (edited by A.E. Haydon, Moderit World-Trends in Religion).
The occupation of Manchuria in 1931 was the first step in the realization of what would prove to be a plot of Germany and Japan to control and exploit the world: a crime which in future history dwarf every other crime that was ever committed or attempted. The world now pays a ghastly price for the obscene squabbling of trade-interests which prevented the destruction of the plot at this early stage by an economic ostracism of Japan, but few people still seem to understand that the Black International at once moved to the support of the aggressor.
This is no matter of "suspicion." It was done quietly and in such a form that it could, if the world's attention was drawn to it, be represented as an inevitable exercise of the Vatican's religious functions. It was first disclosed, as far as I can trace, in an article by a French priest in the Catholic Review des Deux Mondes in 1935 (January 15). The negotiations which were then going on at the Vatican for mutual ambassadors with Japan made it clear that some years of cordial cooperation had preceded; and in any case the French had played as sordid a part in the matter as the Black International and they were disposed to boast about it.
The facts are now so well known that Catholic writers like Teeling discuss them freely. It appears that the Vatican had approached Japan, seeking favored-nation treatment, in 1922, but the Buddhist authorities, already brought (or bought) to the convention that the Yellow Race would sweep all White influence out of eastern Asia, successfully resisted the application. Buddhist monks might take that view but Japanese statesmen knew that the White Race was not to be turned down too openly until the plot was far advanced. It was to be duped by smooth assurances that it would have its share in a regenerated China and its enormously increased capacity for consumption. It was particularly necessary to do this after the first rape of China, so the Vatican got its opportunity.
The French clerical writer says:
"A short time after it had given birth to the new state of Manchukuo the Japanese government advised its ward to to the Holy See with a request that it should be officially recognized; an event of some importance seeing that the refused to recognize it and Japan had left the League of Nations. These Japanese-Manchukuoan overtures did not secure formal recognition but, as the Catholic missions in Manchukuo supported them the Vatican appointed a French Vicar Apostolic to negotiate with the government of Manchuktio about religious affairs." (p. 297).
He further explains that it was the French missionaries in Japan who persuaded the Japanese government to approach the Vatican. France was at the time, for reasons which will be given later, working very amiably with the Vatican, and French missionaries would not be ignorant of the golden rule that trade and the evangelization of the heathen go together. The Vatican was to get a monopoly of missionary work in Japan and China, which it fully expected to be taken over by Japan (Teeling), and France would be rewarded with trade.
It was a nice problem for Pacelli, the new Secretary of State, and he solved it in his characteristic manner. Formally to recognize the annexation of Manchuria just when merely secular governments all over the world were condemning it as an outrage and a danger to the peace was out of the question. Even the American apologist would hardly be able to explain away that. So the Papal organ announced quietly, as a matter of routine, that a Vicar Apostolic had been set up in Manchukuo at the request of its government. That was for the Japs a sufficiently clear recognition of that government by the Vatican as a sovereign power. Does any man suppose that the Japanese statesmen and military leaders nearly all of whom are skeptics, cared the toss of a coin about the spiritual interests or the immortal souls of the Manchurian peasants? Or that the Vatican supposed they did? The brutalized condition to which the Japs soon reduced the natives is answer enough.
The Chinese in Shanghai sent me copies of bitter complaints of the Protestant missionaries in China about the way in which the Japs were persecuting them in favor of Catholic missionaries, but a more important feature of the matter is that from that time the Pope damped down in the whole Catholic world all criticism of his dear Yellow Brother in Buddha. By 1934, the clerical writer in Revue des Deux Mondes said, the cordial relations of the two had gone so far that "no Japanese prince or mission now passes through Rome without paying its homage to the Sovereign Pontiff." And to Mussolini, of course, who was now in prayerful communication with the Vatican. Again, does anyone suppose that Japanese diplomats and princes called upon the Pope to thank him for caring for the immortal souls, in which they did not believe, of Manchurian peasants?
But the alliance was brought into full light in 1935 when the Obsservatore announced the proposal of an exchange of ambassadors. There seems to have been some hard bargaining, but in 1936 a Roman Catholic prelate appeared, incongruously enough, at the Mikado's court and a yellow man in the Vatican City. By this time the Japanese pretense of merely wishing to civilize Manchuria was a mockery. It had now advanced far into China, having taken Jehol in 1933 and broken through the Great Wall in 1935. The mask was cynically thrown aside just when the diplomatic relations with the Vatican were put on the most respectable footing. By the customary Axis method of brazen lying excuses for further aggression upon the weak Chinese were invented, the "incident" was conducted with appalling outrages, and a trail of misery and demoralization spread in the wake of the Japanese armies. Japan was now as deadly a menace to civilization as Germany and Italy, and the bland lies with which it met every inquiry were nauseating.
During these years very little was said in the world-press about this beautiful friendship of the supreme head of the Church of Rome and the supreme head of the degenerate Shinto and Buddhist religions. Catholics had won their claim and censorship of the press on the edifying principle that it was not right to print anything that was "offensive to Catholics"; and to obtrude this cordial alliance of the Vatican with the Japanese government, which had by this time incurred the loathing of every decent man and would be decidedly offensive to Catholics. Yet the cordiality continued through all the years of mendacity, hypocrisy, outrage, and increasing menace to the world.
On December 26 Matsuoka, who was particularly used for some years to dupe Americans because he was a Christian, said in the Japanese Diet, dropping the mask of lust now that Japan could take advantage of the war in Europe, that there would be peace only if America agreed that Japan should "dominate the mainland and occupy a preferential position in Indo-China and the Dutch Indies," and to "dominate the Western Pacific"; not for its own profit, of course, but for "the good of humanity." In March, 1941, this slimiest of the yellow reptile-group went to Moscow and signed a cynical pact with Russia. We will not call that hypocrisy because Stalin was certainly not duped, but that was not for lack of intention on Matsuoka's part. He went on to Berlin and Rome to discuss with the other gangsters the real plan for the summer, the sudden attack on Russia and the question of Japanese intervention, and he had also a long cordial talk with the Pope, who presented him with a gold medal. All this can be verified in Keesing's admirable day-to-day survey of the world-press. Are we asked to believe that with the Pope Matsuoka discussed only the spiritual interests of the Chinese who were under the loving care of the Japanese army of occupation?
In the eighteenth century Rome made it, one of its chief counts in its indictment of the Jesuits that, in order to win more converts than other missionaries, they had mixed heathen rites with Christian. Pacelli has done just that. An Anglican prelate who was present at the large International Conference on religion in India in 1938 wrote me that the representatives of the Protestant Churches learned with a shock that "the Papacy, after much wavering, has finally given permission to Japanese Papists to indulge in Emperor worship." Presumably they do not tell their Japanese converts how early Christians died rather than worship the Roman Emperor.
It should prove, when the details are known, a picturesque development, but to most of us trifle in comparison with the Vatican's moral apostasy and betrayal of civilization. For an exhibition of greed, hypocrisy, and condonation of crime its alliance with Japan would be hard to beat. It is futile to protest that we must look at the situation from the Papal angle. The most respectable light in which you can put it is that a churchman would be bound to consider that a prospect of bringing into the Roman sphere of influence, which is so much more morally effective than any other, all the missionary work i eastern Asia, outweighs all other considerations. So much the worse for the churchman's creed or policy. It puts the increase of the power of the Church above all decency of international intercourse, above the appalling sufferings of hundreds of millions of Chinese and their right to a national life of their own, above the ghastly and very imminent chances of a world-war. It means that the Black International tramples on those social, moral, and humanitarian principles which are said by its apologists in America to be just what the Church holds most sacred.
HE ORGANIZES THE PLOT IN SOUTH AMERICA
Pacelli-Pius was rightly selected for the Papacy as the ablest cardinal in the Church of Rome. That does not imply genius. Half of these cardinals would not successfully run a large grocery store. Pacelli has considerable ability. He is also the most widely-informed cardinal on the world-situation. Besides spending twelve years in Germany he has made three visits to England, travelled all over North and South America, and visited France, Hungary, and other countries.
Upon which boast of his biographers we may make two comments. First that in very few of his acts can any apologist make the excuse of ignorance or misinformation, the common Catholic excuse for Papal misconduct. Matsuoka might deceive some people with his bland assurances that his country sought "not the good of the good of Japan but the good of humanity" and (in the spring of 1941) that it had "not the slightest idea of taking advantage of the misfortunes of France," but he no more deceived Pius XII than he deceived Stalin. The Pope knew well that Japan was pledged to a course, in its selfish interest, which would lead inexorably to war with America and Great Britain. So it was in every other part of his policy.
The second comment is that, instead of flowers springing up wherever Pacelli trod, as is told of holy men in earlier ages, the path might generally be traced by blood and misery. The violence had occurred in Italy before he returned to it, but he took care that it was not relaxed. He compels the Church in Germany to help to power the most dangerous psychopath in Europe. He goes to South America, and his visit is followed by the triumph of Fascist violence everywhere. He goes to the United States, and there is a fresh demand for the extinction of Bolshevism in Mexico and Russia. He goes to Paris in 1937 and France prepares to betray Czecho-Slovakia and, when the time comes, to betray itself. He goes to Hungary in 1938 and it is ready to see Austria and Czecho-Slovakia enslaved and to march itself against Russia and help in every way the destroyers of civilization.
The visit to South America was in 1934, when the usual excuse for Papal intrigue was given: he must preside at the Eucharistic Congress at Buenos Aires. Twenty years, even thirty years ago, the priests of Buenos Aires would not have dared to hold such a function. When it was proposed to hold one in London Protestants appealed to me to cooperate in getting Catholics forbidden to have a procession of their Eucharist in one street. I said that I would rather encourage them to do so — and take care that the crowd understood what it meant. The doctrine is so monstrous and incredible that the journalists who every year write with profound respect about the holding of the Eucharistic Congress cannot have the least idea what it means.
You see a priest carrying a star-shaped golden vessel in the center of which, enclosed in glass, is the white disk of a wafer of wheaten flour. To the Catholic it was a thin wafer until the priest breathed his magic words over it, but there is no longer any flour there. The substance of the cake has been annihilated: only the accidents (the color, shape, feel, etc.) remain. As I have hid to swallow it — the wafer, I mean, as well as the doctrine — thousands of times I can assure that the "accidents" are very much like those of a dry cracker. It sticks to the palate, etc. And on the strength of this prehistoric theory of substance and accidents, begot by the genius Aquinas out of Aristotle, the Church today sternly insists that the wafer has been annihilated, and the living divine-human person of Jesus has taken its place — quite literally — that if you broke it into a hundred crumbs the living and entire body of Jesus would be present in each, and that this is true of each one of the millions of wafers (Eucharists) which are stored in little safes on the altars of all the Catholic Churches in the world. Pfew!
I say that in the earlier part of this century priests in Buenos Aries or Rio or Lima would not have made a parade of that belief in the streets. The historic conflict of the Blacks and Whites in Latin America had ended in an incomplete but considerable victory for the Liberals. The middle-class was substantially skeptical. In 1906 the Freethinkers of South America held a Congress in Buenos Aires. The delegates crowded the Teatro Argentino. Argentinians of high position (Vice-Admiral Howard, Soto and Alvarez of the Council of War, etc.) supported them. The Presidents of Guatemala and Uruguay sent telegrams of congratulations in the name of their republics. The Women's Committee, of 50 members, included some the most brilliant writers in South America. The leading papers treated the Congress with respect . . .
And in 1934 the public men of Argentina were falling over each other to kiss Pacelli's ring. What had happened? The Reds, of course. Socialism spread through South America with extraordinary rapidity after the last war, and the news of the revolution in Spain in 1932 gave a powerful impetus to the movement. So impartial an observer as the famous woman traveller Rosita Forbes said in 1933 after a prolonged visit that "it is possible that the organization and method's of Soviet Russia may be destined to provide the machinery necessary to liberate the South American Republics" (Eight Republics in search of a Future, p. 7.) In Peru, she found that "the educated youth of Peru is in the hands of Moscow." A minister who introduced an anti-Communist law in the Chilean Congress was compelled to resign, and the government refused to recognize degrees granted by Catholic universities. An American merchant who had lived 25 years in Chile reported that "Communism of the intellectual type" was very widespread. The Alianza Popular Revolutionaria Americana (Apra) swept the continent, and its leader would have become President of Peru but for Black corruption of the vilest kind. The Rev. Dr. McKay, a Protestant missionary in the Argentine, said that the Trade Unions turned out any worker who supported the Church, that the workers now commonly called a man they wanted to vituperate "you poor Christ" (equivalent to the American "son of a lady-dog"), and that one of their leaders said publicly that the sound of the word God made him spew. I was editing the Militant Atheist in 1933 and gave plenty of details of this sort.
Pacelli to the rescue. Returning to the subject in the 'Appeal to Reason' Library (No. 3) in 1935 I gave the symptoms of spreading reaction. At the time Pacelli was still an obscure emissary of the Vatican whose position as Secretary of State was according to the Italian Press, not very secure. How bitterly we pay for not watching the Black International more closely! In South America, as in America and Britain and Italy and Germany, there were Socialist leaders who said that the fight against the Church was over — some wanted friendly alliance with it — and all attention must be concentrated on the politico-economic struggle. And in the whole of South America as in Italy, Germany, France, Austria, Spain, Czecho-Slovakia, etc., within a year or two Socialism was bloodily trodden underfoot and the Church was triumphant.
The change did not begin in 1934. The Blacks were already organizing and intriguing everywhere, and futile revolts strengthened their hands. But after 1934 the clerical-capitalist revolution proceeded at a great pace. I have not a shred of proof to offer that, Pacelli counted in the organization of this. Just naughty suspicion, and you may please yourself whether you accept it. I do not say that Pacelli intrigued to bring closer together the heads of the Church and the heads of the army and state who in every part of South America were shuddering before the Red Menace. The only facts we know are that the situation was completely transformed after 1934; that within a few years six of the ten Republics of South America including Brazil and Peru, were truculently Fascist, and even Argentina (where the priests have no millions of Indians to stir up) and Chile were semi-Fascist; that most of the Liberals had in fact lined up with the Church; and that this coalition was first revealed on a large scale when Pacelli, the arch-intriguer and hater of Socialism in every form had gone from capital to capital and soldiers and statesmen knelt for his blessing. You may want to go father than I do and believe that Pacelli not only promoted the entire cordial of Liberal statesmen and their traditional enemies, but encouraged also the leaders of the millions of Italians and Germans, who, as the duped statesmen have now found, were already secretly weaving their great plot. Please yourself.
The upshot was that not only was "the menace of Bolshevism" destroyed in South America but the Church got between ten and twenty million apostates bullied into silence and their leaders flung into jail. Figures are farcical in Latin America. In Mexico a high official warned me privately that their published statement that their population consisted of 4,000,000 Indians and 12,000,000 Mexicans might be turned the other way around. A careful recent estimate is that there are 90,000,000 Indian's in South and Central America. Few people seem to realize that these provide about one-third of the total number of the Pope's real subjects. As in Mexico, the majority of them would turn against the priests as soon as they got encouragement to do so from their government. The situation was closely parallel to that of Russia. Within another ten years the great bulk of the 90,000,000 would be lost to the Vatican. Are we asked to think that Pacelli scrupulously avoided political maneuvers that promised to avert that tragedy? Remember the Irish revolutionaries confiding their plot to the Pope; remember Dollfus's, Franco, Henlein, and others.
But we are concerned with actualities. The cream of the Indians, of the millions of workers of such mixed blood that it is time we dropped these racial distinctions, are the industrial workers. The majority, we saw, had abandoned Rome. Add the university youths and a large number of their professors and other middle-class men and Liberals of the old school, and it will be seen that Rome had to envisage an actual secession of between ten and twenty millions. They are now back in the fold — on paper. They are bullied into silence and their most active representatives are in jail. By the end of 1935 there were 10,000 political prisoners in jail in Brazil alone. Yes, says the Catholic, the scum who had recently organized a rebellion. So it was reported in America. But the very impartial British 'Annual Register' (1935) which gives the above figure adds: "Among these were university professors and many other distinguished Brazilians belonging to the best society" (p. 312). They were victims of the Black International.
And by one of those blunders into which the brutally and callousness of the agents of these Fascist governments are always betraying them we learned that this Church-Wealth coalition is not only using force but, as it has always done, using it savagely. The Brazilian police arrested as spies two ladies of the British aristocracy, Lady Hastings and Lady Cameron, who were visiting Rio. Viscount Hastings wrote a letter to the London press (News-Chronicle, July 14, 1936) on what they saw. It contained such things as:
In the prison they saw men and women who had been so badly beaten that they could only move with the greatest difficulty; a man's wife had been beaten insensible in front of him to make him confess; the hands of another man had been mutilated by having iron spikes driven underneath the nails ... The day before my wife and sister were arrested, the American boy Victor Baron was found dead in prison after 'questioning' . . .
Immutable Rome! So it was in France in the thirteenth century, all over south Europe in the nineteenth, in Spain forty years ago, and is now in many countries. If a mere working man, or even a professor, had reported these things, most people would say "Red lies." There is obviously some use in Aristocrats.
In Mexico the struggle with the Church and the attempt of Catholics in America to get intervention, which would certainly mean war and annexation, had begun long before Pacelli became Secretary of State. I am tracing the action of the Black International not of Pacelli alone but I have written this earlier history so fully elsewhere that I will not return to it. I need repeat only about the acute conflict of 1926 that I was then in Mexico and saw with what remarkable indifference the people accepted what was mendaciously called the persecution of the Church, and read articles by Mexican Catholic journalists in the leading Havana paper a little later expressing deep disgust with the lies (executions of priests etc.) sent by the priests to the Knights of Columbus, who zealously enlarged them and circulated them in Wall Street. If you want a Catholic (or at all events pro-Catholic) witness to this close alliance for years of American Catholics and Wall Street read George Seldes' 'The Vatican' (1934, pp. 278-86). There was, of course, an outcry and the American Catholic bishops published a letter denying that they were working for "armed intervention." They merely felt it their duty to "sound a warning to Christian civilization that its foundations are being attacked and undermined." God, they said would find a way to destroy the evil. By priests blowing trumpets, I suppose. A thinner pretense of pacifism it would be hard to find. It has a Japanese ring.
Pacelli did not go to Mexico, but the brilliant Church-Fascist success that followed his visit to South America had echoes in the north. In 1935 F.V. Williams, Al Smith's publicity agent, had a revolting article in 'Liberty' (Aug. 24) calling for intervention. A Mexican Catholic annihilated his statements in the 'Forum'; in fact, they had been answered in advance by various visitors to Mexico (World-Telegram, June 8, 1935, etc.) The Catholic Teeling also admits that Catholics intrigued at Washington to get intervention and that Msgr. Burke served as intermediary.
It is, at all events, true that from 1936 Pacelli included Mexico in the list of countries in which he invited the great powers to "extinguish" Bolshevism. It was so clearly a war-program that I have never read even a Catholic attempt to give his words, the slogan he sent through the whole Catholic world, any other meaning. An innocent young nun or a Lord Halifax might suggest that he "extinguish it by prayer." Is that what he meant when he sent Cardinal Faulhaber, as we shall see, to beg Hitler to allow the Church to cooperate with him in the good work? It was a war program; a call to, as it has proved, the bloodiest war in history. So who are the real Reds?