Which of the contradictory statements on the facing page from the two popes are we to believe? Pius IX is only reaffirming the suppression of basic human rights which his predecessors have consistently enforced before him in order to bring all mankind under the absolute authority of the Roman Catholic Church. John Paul II would have us believe that his Church has always championed basic freedoms and does so today. He sounds so sincere. Yet he contradicts the consistent voice of the papacy and the dogmas of his Church down through the centuries, dogmas which are still in force today.
The American form of government, which John Paul II frequently praised during his U.S. tour,2 was repeatedly denounced by previous popes. Has Rome changed? She boasts that she never changes. While lauding freedom, John Paul II also said that to be a good Catholic "it is necessary to follow the teaching of our Lord expressed through the Church" (emphasis added).3 Sincere Catholics cannot learn directly from Christ's own words, but must accept the Church's explanation thereof. It is the same denial of freedom of conscience and individual moral accountability to God which Rome has consistently practiced throughout history.
John Paul II would have us believe that he and his Church are the champions of freedom. Yet we have already cited numerous examples to show that Rome has consistently stood against basic human rights. If a change has been made, we need to hear a clear apology for the centuries-long suppression of elementary human rights by previous popes and their Church. How can the present pope pose as the friend of the downtrodden without denouncing as grievous error the slaughter of millions of people simply because they embraced the gospel of God's grace and for that "heresy" were anathematized by Rome?
Consistent Record of Suppression
In contrast to his praise of basic freedoms in North America, to solidly Catholic audiences in Latin America John Paul II denounces Protestants and the idea that men ought to be free to profess any religion. The oppression, persecution, and even martyrdom of those who refused allegiance to Rome has been her consistent policy. For example, the Concordat between Pius IX and Ecuador of September 26, 1862, established Roman Catholicism as the state religion and forbade other religions. All education was to be "strictly controlled by the Church." A later law declared that "only Catholics might be regarded as citizens of Ecuador."4
The following year neighboring Colombia took the opposite course, establishing religious freedom and curtailing the monopoly on education and the privileged position that had long been enjoyed by the Roman Catholic Church. Pope Pius IX reacted angrily. On September 17, 1863, in an encyclical titled Incredibili Afflictamur, he lashed out at the "nefarious and most iniquitous" laws that Colombia had enacted, citing especially the evil of allowing "the worship of non-Catholic sects." His papal pen asserted his authority over that entire nation, including the right to rescind its laws:
We with Apostolic Authority denounce and condemn all such laws and decrees with all their consequences, and by the same authority we abrogate those laws and declare them entirely null and without binding power.
Colombia ignored the pope at that time. In 1948, however, a new pro-Catholic government came into power. Its concordat with the Vatican instituted the very suppression which Pius IX had earlier demanded. Within ten years, scores of Christians had been slain for their faith, scores of Protestant churches had been burned down, about 200 Protestant schools were closed, and evangelistic work by Protestants was forbidden in most of the country.5 Today Protestants are still being killed for their faith in Mexico and other parts of Latin America. Homes and churches are being destroyed, with as many as ten thousand Indian believers driven from their villages and fields in the Chiapas region of Mexico alone. Rome has not changed, though its opportunities for despotism are somewhat limited today.
John Paul II is not being honest with us. Historic evidence (and not only from the distant past) is abundant in testifying that Roman Catholicism suppresses basic freedom whenever, wherever, and however she can. The claim of papal infallibility becomes the justification for such tyranny, a tyranny which Roman pontiffs have repeatedly expressed and enforced in Christ's name and as His alleged vicars. As von Dollinger, himself a devout Catholic, has pointed out:
The whole life of such a man [the pope], from the moment when he is placed on the altar to receive the first homage by the kissing of his feet, will be an unbroken chain of adulations.
Everything is expressly calculated for strengthening him in the belief that between himself and other mortals there is an impassable gulf, and when involved in the cloud and fumes of a perpetual incense, the firmest character must yield at last to a temptation beyond human strength to resist.6
Pope Gregory XVI's (1831-46) The Triumph of the Holy See and the Church over the Attacks of the Innovators is one example among many. Its major thesis was that popes had to be infallible in order to fulfill the office of a true monarch. As absolute monarch over Church and state, Gregory rejected freedom of conscience, not only within the Church but in society as a whole, as "a false and absurd concept." Freedom of the press was equal madness.
Gregory's successor was Pius IX, convener of Vatican I. He was of the same mind with regard to the most elementary human freedoms. Popes had openly declared Rome's opposition to the United States and its freedom-granting constitution from the moment of that nation's birth. Pius IX did the same. The Catholic World frankly expressed the Roman Catholic view of the U.S. form of government:
... we do not accept it, or hold it to be any government at all.... If the American Republic is to be sustained and preserved, it must be by the rejection of the principle of the Reformation, and the acceptance of the Catholic principle....7
Contempt for Human Life
It is a matter of incontrovertible historical record that many of the popes were as contemptible of human life as they were of freedom. Pope Gregory IX (1227-41) declared it the duty of every Catholic "to persecute heretics." A heretic was anyone who did not give complete allegiance to the Roman Catholic Church. Such persons were to be tortured, imprisoned, and slain. Disloyalty to the pope was the same as treason, so closely were state and Church allied. "Of eighty popes in a line from the thirteenth century on," writes de Rosa, "not one of them disapproved of the theology and apparatus of Inquisition. On the contrary, one after another added his own cruel touches to the workings of this deadly machine."8
Nor was it only the Inquisition that trampled human rights and life. Even before that evil institution, de Rosa reminds us, "for more than six centuries without a break, the papacy was the sworn enemy of elementary justice." Nearly 400 years before the Inquisition would be established by Gregory IX, Pope Nicholas I (858-67) encouraged the King of Bulgaria, a new convert to what he thought was "Christianity," to force Rome's religion upon his subjects:
I glorify you for having maintained your authority by putting to death those wandering sheep who refuse to enter the fold; and...congratulate you upon having opened the kingdom of heaven to the people submitted your rule.
A king need not fear to command massacres, when these will retain his subjects in obedience, or cause the to submit to the faith of Christ; and God will reward h in this world, and in eternal life, for these murders.9
Such a statement may seem an incredible relic from the Dark Ages, but we could cite many like it from other popes. Remember that the popes who condoned and practiced the persecution, torture, and massacre of all who refused to give them allegiance were the allegedly infallible successors to Peter, the predecessors of today's Pope John Paul II, essential links in the long papal line from whom he received his authority and power. Nor has the Vatican ever acknowledged the evil of past popes or apologized for it.
By the time of Pius IX, the tide of public opinion was turning against the popes because of their ruthless totalitarianism. The revolutionary ideas of freedom of the press, of religion, of conscience, of the people's right to choose their rulers, and of the separation of church and state, having been established by the United States Constitution, were also gaining momentum across Europe. This new breath of freedom threatened Rome and had to be smothered in Christ's name. Pius IX was determined to continue Rome's autocratic rule in partnership with autocratic governments. To protect Rome's dictatorial powers, papal infallibility had to be established as an official and universally held doctrine.
Contempt for Truth and Freedom
In his La Inquisicion Espanola (The Spanish Inquisition), Gerard Dufour reminds us that "the first article of the first heading of the [Spanish] constitution proclaimed that "the Roman Catholic Apostolic religion, in Spain and in all the Spanish possessions, will be the religion of the King and of thee nation and no other one shall be permitted."10 So it became in Latin America. Comte Le Maistre, in his defense of the Spanish Inquisition, writes that in a "Catholic country, a man may entertain [in his mind] whatever religious or irreligious opinions he likes" but "he must keep them to himself," or else "he is brought before the Tribunal [Inquisition]."11
The Constitution of the United States was condemned by the papacy because it separated church and state and prohibited the establishment of any religion by the government. The popes, on the other hand, had long required governments to make Roman Catholicism the official religion and to prohibit the practice of any other. In his 1864 Syllabus of Errors, which, in all fairness, contained some truth, Pius IX soundly condemned the belief that "every man is free to embrace and profess the religion he shall believe true....”12 His Syllabus decreed the union of Church and state, that Roman Catholicism must be the state religion everywhere, that the Church may use force to compel obedience, that there is no hope of salvation outside the Roman Catholic Church, etc. The Syllabus has never been rejected or amended and remains the belief of the Roman Catholic Church today, though unenforceable in most countries.
Let us take a typical example of enforcement of the Catholic-inspired Spanish constitution. In April 1863 three Spaniards, Matamoras, Trigo, and Alhama, were tried and found guilty of attending Protestant services. The sentence was harsh: nine years each for Alhama and Matamoras and seven for Trigo, to be served without time off in the galleys! Here was but one of thousands of instances of the church using its "secular arm" to enforce its decrees in the suppression of the common human right to worship God according to one's own conscience. To be true to its basic and unchangeable dogmas, Rome would today enforce a similar denial of civil rights everywhere if it had the power to do so.
A living death in the galleys, with at least the hope of eventual release if one could survive, was not the ultimate punishment. Popes had long decreed the death penalty for deviation from "the faith," not only through the Inquisitions in religious matters, but as part of their civil rule over the vast territories known as the papal states. For example, Clement XII (1730-40) had specifically prescribed the death penalty for membership in the Freemasons, or even for "rendering aid, succor, counsel, or a retreat to one of its members."13
Pretentions to Omnipotence
The Roman Catholic Church fought the Protestant Reformation for more than religious reasons. The Reformation was now spreading on a grand scale what had previously been successfully suppressed for more than a thousand years: freedom of conscience and basic human rights. The desire for civil liberty among the common people was taking root and spreading everywhere. Nothing was more hateful to the Vatican, for civil liberty threatened its very foundations. As one nineteenth-century historian wrote concerning Pope Clement x (1730-40):
As soon as he was seated on the throne of the apostle like his predecessor [Benedict XIII (1724-30)], he declared himself to be an enemy of the democratic ideas which were filtering through all classes of society, announced his pretensions to omnipotence, and set himself up as a pontiff of the Middle Ages.14
Fifty years later Thomas Jefferson congratulated the citizens of the United States for having abolished "religious intolerance under which mankind so long bled and suffered." He urged that "public reason, freedom of religion, and freedom of the press" be preserved. Such freedoms were a fruit of the Reformation. One hundred years after Jefferson, Pius IX was still hoping for exactly the opposite: for a growth of Roman Catholicism there which would eventually turn the United States into a Catholic country so that all its citizens could enjoy the blessings of Roman rule.15
The Second National Council of the Roman Catholic Hierarchy of the United States met in Baltimore in October 1866. Presided over by Archbishop Spalding of Baltimore as "apostolic delegate" representing the pope, the Council pointed out the difference between a Protestant form of government as in the United States, and a Catholic form of government as in most Latin American countries. The former, it was noted, derived its direction and power by a vote of the people, whereas the latter looked entirely to the pope in obedience to his direction and authority. One commentator noted:
The two systems stand in direct antagonism with each other. The Protestant has separated the State from the Church; the papal proposes to unite them again. The Protestant has founded its civil institutions upon the will of the people; the papal proposes to reconstruct and found them upon the will of the pope. The Protestant secures religious freedom; the papal requires that every man shall give up his conscience to the keeping of ecclesiastical superiors.16
The National Council of the Roman Catholic Hierarchy, though comprised of presumably loyal Americans, unanimously expressed its preference for the Catholic form of government and its absolute submission to papal authority. It sent a cable to Pius IX, wishing him "long life, with the preservation of all the ancient and sacred rights of the Holy See." So pleased was the pope by this expression of loyalty from America that he had it published in Italy as an example for his own rebellious subjects to consider.17 Even as Pius IX planned Vatican I with its declaration of papal infallibility, however, the papal empire in Italy was crumbling.
The Winds of Freedom
In 1861 the newly formed Kingdom of Italy with King Victor Emmanuel II at its head had declared Rome its capital, though the pope and his military forces still held and ruled it. It was the first time ever that Italy, so long the pawn of European powers, had been united under an Italian head of state. A crowd gathered along the Corso, shouting, "Viva Italia! Viva Vittorio Emanuele!" The papal police immediately fired upon them.
Absolute power had corrupted the papacy absolutely and the people of Italy were determined to throw off that yoke. A leading Italian at the time wrote that the Tribunal of the Holy Inquisition was still very much alive and that its "secret power ... was felt not only in religious questions, but in every other. ... Under such a system, the man who had murdered or plundered another had nothing to fear from Papal justice" if he did not espouse basic human freedoms "and were a firm adherent of the temporal [papal] power."18 In 1864, in Quanta Pius IX denounced what he called -
that erroneous opinion most pernicious to the Catholic Church, and to the salvation of souls, which was called by our Predecessor, Gregory XIV, the insanity (deliramentum): namely, "that the liberty of conscience and of worship is the peculiar (or inalienable) right of every man, which should be proclaimed by law, and that citizens have the right to ... openly and publicly express their ideas, by word of mouth, through the press, or by any other means."19
One might again ask how this statement by a predecessor could be reconciled with John Paul 11's claims that Rome is and always has been the champion of human freedom. Into what mental black hole do people today consign the obvious facts in order to believe that the Church nourishes basic human rights? How many sincere Catholics are deceived because Church authorities sound so convincing? When an article in The Catholic World credited the Catholic Church with giving England that great charter of human rights, the Magna Carta, how many readers knew that Rome had in fact done everything she could to destroy it?20
Backlash Against Dictatorship
The French and American revolutions in the previous century had ignited a spark of resentment against autocratic ruler that was being fanned into flame across Europe. No monarch was more dictatorial than the pope himself. Pius IX still reigned as "King of Rome" and its environs, as his predecessors had for centuries reigned over the entire Papal States The growing sentiment for democracy was a threat to papal authority, a threat which Vatican I would surely put down by it: dogmatic declaration of papal infallibility. That would, the pope hoped, settle the matter.
The year before the encyclical of Pius IX (in preparation for Vatican 1), partially quoted above, Abraham Lincoln had addressed himself at Gettysburg to the same issues. No two men could have been more at odds. Lincoln's words, intended to pull the nation together in that crisis, were at the same time a rebuke, though probably unintended, to the basic dogmas underlying Roman Catholicism and papal tyranny. Nor could Pius IX have been ignorant of the famous Gettysburg Address, so that his words could only be regarded as a harsh response to these of Lincoln:
that from these honored dead we take increased devotion to that cause for which they gave the last full measure of devotion-that we here highly resolve that these dead shall not have died in vain-that this nation, under God, shall have a new birth of freedom-and that government of the people, by the people, for the people, shall not perish from the earth.
Lincoln's ideal was the antithesis of Roman Catholicism. Popes had sought to prevent such freedom, but nothing could stop it in America or elsewhere. The Italian people, too, long the pawns of tyrannical monarchs from France, Germany, and Austria, were in a struggle for independence. Nor was it lost upon them, in spite of their religious fervor, who was the worst enemy of freedom. A military hero in the fight for independence appealed to his fellow Italians:
Before fighting against this external enemy [the French and Austrians], you have internal enemies to beat down; and I will tell you that the chief of them is the Pope....
I am a Christian as you are; yes, I am of that religion which has broken the bonds of slavery, and has proclaimed the freedom of men. The Pope, who oppresses his subjects, and is an enemy of Italian independence, is no Christian; he denies the very principle of Christianity; he is Antichrist.21
The people of the province of Rome, where the pope still ruled, endorsed this view in a resounding vote of 133,681 to 1507 for an independent Italy free of foreign influence and papal control. Pius IX fought back viciously. He executed hundreds of Italians who held the heretical views of civil government free from Church domination. About 8000 were confined to the papal jails under intolerable conditions, "many chained to the wall and not released even for exercise sanitary purposes. The English ambassador called the dungeons of Pius IX `the opprobrium of Europe."22 An eye witness described this monument to the pope's infallibility:
From dawn till nightfall, the miserable captives would cling to the iron bars of their horrible dwellings, and perpetually call upon the passer-by for alms in the name of God. A Papal prison! how I shudder in writing the words.... human beings were heaped confusedly together, covered with rags, and swarming with vermin.23
Rome's Palace of the Inquisition still stands next to the Vatican, the headquarters of that same infamous institution, now called the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith. That hated structure would have been burned to the ground by a mob when Pius IX was deposed as King of Rome, had not the new government persuaded the people to keep it for "some charitable purpose." It was opened to the public to "let the citizens see with their own eyes the secret mechanisms of the papal system." An eyewitness, describing the horror of those who came to that "open house," wrote:
They did not need any evidence to know that the only crime of serious moment in the States of the Church was liberal thought [advocacy of basic human freedoms] in religion and politics. That their friends and relations had been spirited away, and immured in prison, they also knew too well. And when the prison doors were open these emaciated heretics had a sad tale to tell of cruel suffering and ingenious torture.24
Denying History to Build a Lie
The fall of papal Rome was still almost a year in the future when Pius IX formerly opened Vatican I on December 8,1869. Yet even prior to that grandiose event, the opposition to papal infallibility (which all now knew the pope intended to push through the Council) had built to enormous proportions among bishops and lay members alike. It was no longer the Middle Ages with forged documents to bolster papal authority. The bishops well knew that papal infallibility had never been accepted by the Church but had been repeatedly denied. To accept it now would be to go against centuries of Church tradition as well as the Scriptures.
Those in favor of infallibility when the Council began were a small minority. Nevertheless, they had a concrete plan of action for taking control of the key positions in the Council bureaucracy and the Church's news media. In this they were aided by "the Pope, most of the Curia and the Jesuits." To gain votes, this pressure group "did not flinch from intrigues, promises, and threats."25
"Everything is in readiness here for the proclamation of papal infallibility," Lord Acton wrote to Great Britain's Prime Minister, William E. Gladstone, on November 24, 1869, two weeks before the Council officially convened. The English charge d'affaires to the Holy See commented that preparations to push through infallibility had been so well organized that
... foreign bishops find it quite impossible to express their own opinions freely. They will be unpleasantly surprised to find themselves forced to sanction something which they actually wished to condemn.26
Much of what we know about the sinister intrigue behind the scenes and the dishonest conclusion of Vatican I is owing to the work of Swiss historian and scholar August Bernhard Hasler. During his five years in the Vatican Secretariat for Christian Unity, Hasler had access to the Vatican secret archives. What he learned thereby about Vatican I was so disturbing ("The whole business amounted to a clear manipulation of the Council") that he felt compelled to write How the Pope Became Infallible.27 Hasler met an "untimely death" just after the manuscript was finished. For writing the book's introduction, Catholic theologian Hans Kung was "stripped of his ecclesiastical teaching privileges."28
No Discussion Allowed
Devout Catholics today have sincerely believed the deceitful impression given by their Church that Vatican I's declaration of infallibility represented the mind and will of the attending bishops. On the contrary, many bishops were strongly opposed to affirming infallibility both on scriptural and traditional grounds. Some left in protest before the final vote was taken and only affirmed it later under Vatican threats and for the sake of Church unity. Bishop Lecourtier was so distressed by the fraud that he "threw his conciliar documents into the Tiber and left Rome.... " For that act he was removed from his bishopric.29
Attending bishops were virtual prisoners. Exit visas were deliberately withheld to prevent anyone from leaving. Among those fleeing Rome were two Armenian bishops, one of whom was Placidus Casangian, Abbot-General of all Armenian Antonite monks. From the other side of the Roman border, outside papal jurisdiction, he wrote both the pope and the Council that under "the constant threat of imprisonment and owing to his serious illness, he had feared for his life and thought his only safety lay in flight."30
Oppressive rules were imposed which were designed to stifle opposition and to eliminate free discussion. "There was to be no discussion in small groups, speeches at the Council could not be printed ... [making] it impossible to study the arguments and give a careful response to them ... and bishops were forbidden, under pain of mortal sin, to say anything about what took place in the great hall of the Council."31 Such was the cultlike control over Council members. In the main sessions, those who dared to voice any opposition were interrupted, "often with the explanation that no one was allowed to speak so negatively about the Holy See."32
Sincere Catholics believe papal infallibility was passed down from Peter to his successors. But in fact it was foisted upon the Church by a ruthless cadre of Vatican insiders who conspired to stifle discussion, rigged elections, and literally intimidated bishops into voting, out of fear, for a proposition which they opposed. "The elections are dishonest," was entered December 20, 1869, in Archbishop Georges Darboy’s diary. Another bishop complained of "the utter worthlessness of these elections."33
Licensing Dictatorial Powers
"The pressure was felt, in particular, by bishops financially dependent on the Vatican" was the earnest complaint of more than one Council member. Many felt they "had a knife at their jugular," forcing them to approve what the vast majority actually opposed.
When the Armenian bishops, in the face of dire threats, remained steadfast in their refusal to support infallibility, the pope commanded their leaders "to perform compulsory spiritual exercises in a monastery." When Bishop John Stephanian refused to comply, the papal police arrested him on the street. His resistance provoked a riot by a mob, which rescued him.
To aid in the intimidation of the bishops in attendance, the papal police instituted surprise house searches. "Msgr. Lorenzo Randi, papal minister of police and later a cardinal, had all letters from newspaper correspondents intercepted at the [Vatican] post office and suppressed the most negative reports."34
As for J.H. Ignaz von Dollinger, one of the most eminent Catholic historians and theologians at the time, his reward for 47 years of teaching Roman Catholic theology and history was to be excommunicated.35 His crime had been to point out that the pope's claim to infallibility lacked support either from Scripture or from Church tradition. Such was certainly the predominant view of Catholic historians and even of most bishops within the Church of Rome at that time. Von Dollinger's monumental work The Pope and the Council, published just prior to Vatican I, was immediately placed on the Index of forbidden reading. Pius IX could not afford to have the bishops read such facts from history as the following:
Tertullian, Cyprian, Lactantius know nothing of special Papal prerogative, or of any higher or supreme right of deciding in matters of doctrine. In the writings of the Greek doctors, Eusebius, St. Athanasius, St. Basil the great, the two Gregories, and St. Epiphanius, there is not one word of any prerogatives of the Roman bishop. The most copious of the Greek Fathers, St. Chrysostom, is wholly silent on the subject, and so are the two Cyrils; equally silent are the Latins, Hilary, Pacian, Zeno Lucifer, Sulpicius, and St. Ambrose....
St. Augustine has written more on the Church, it unity and authority, than all the other Fathers put together.... He urges all sorts of arguments to show that the Donatists are bound to return to the Church, but of the Papal Chair, as one of them, he knows nothing.36
No Support in History
Bishop Joseph Hefele of Rottenburg, a former professor of church history, addressed these words to the First Vatican Council: "Forgive me if I speak simply: I am very familiar with the old documentary sources of the history and teaching of the Church, with the writings of the Fathers, and the acts of the Councils, so that I can say ... I have had them in my hands night and day. But in all those documents I have never seen the doctrine [of papal infallibility from a credible source]." Hasler informs us further:
[Archbishop] Thomas Connolly ... of Halifax, Nova Scotia, had come to Rome as a convinced adherent of infallibility. After thorough study he became one of its declared opponents.... he repeatedly challenged the Infallibilists in the Council hall to come up with clear texts from the first three centuries-always in vain. He made a private offer of one thousand pounds (perhaps thirty thousand dollars today) to anyone who could provide the text he wanted. All he got was a forgery.37
Von Dollinger, one of that day's great authorities on church history, agreed entirely with Hefele. His book (banned by Rome) warned of Pius IX's coming attempt to push through the dogma of infallibility and reminded the bishops who would gather to deliberate this vital decision:
None of the ancient confessions of faith, no catechism, none of the patristic writings composed for the instruction of the people, contain a syllable about the Pope, still less any hint that all certainty of faith and doctrine depends on him.
For the first thousand years of Church history not a question of doctrine was finally decided by the Pope. ... Even the controversy about Christ kindled by Paul of Samosata, which occupied the whole Eastern Church for a long time, and necessitated the assembling of several Councils, was terminated without the Pope taking any part in it....
In three controversies during this early period the Roman Church took an active part-the question about Easter, about heretical baptism, and about the penitential discipline. In all three the Popes were unable to carry out their own will and view and practice, and the other Churches maintained their different usage.... Pope Victor's attempt to compel the Churches of Asia Minor to adopt the Roman usage, by excluding them from his communion, proved a failure.38
It is a fully established fact of history that for many centuries after Christ the Church had no notion that the Bishop of Rome had the final word on all disputes or that he was infallible. Moreover, when the popes began to assert their alleged infallibility, as we have already seen, they often used it wickedly. Furthermore, according to a 1987 Time poll, 93 percent of today's Catholics hold the opinion that "it is possible to disagree with the pope and still be a good Catholic." So much for the practical effect of infallibility. No wonder the Church got along without it for 1800 years!
A Tragic Farce
There is no doubt that the claim of infallibility further encourages the despotism which is already so much a part of the papacy. Despotism in turn leads to contempt for truth because the despot's power over others must be maintained at all cost. That defect of character in Pius IX was evident to many observers. Though the pope had personally approved an article in La Civilta Cattolica which in February 1869 began his campaign for infallibility, he denied any knowledge of it in an audience with foreign ambassadors. The deceit was blatant, but the pope seemed blind to the fact that anyone with common sense knew he was lying.
The pope wrote articles under another name and then denied knowing of them. When Bishops Clifford, Ramadie, and Place protested the demeaning language that Pius IX had publicly used concerning them, "he denied the whole thing." Before many witnesses, Bishop Henri Maret, dean of the Sorbonne in Paris, called Pius IX "false and a liar."
Pius IX constantly applied pressure and threats, engineered behind-the-scenes intrigue, and denounced in vicious terms any who opposed infallibility. Yet to the very end he insisted that he desired to "leave the Council completely free." "The facts proving the opposite are too numerous and too obvious," wrote Count Trauttmansdorff to Vienna on June 22, 1870. In view of these and many other evidences of blatant dishonesty, Cardinal Gustav von Hohenlohe remarked, "I need no other argument [against papal infallibility] than this single one, that in my entire life I never met a man who was less particular about the truth than Pius IX."39
Such was the man who used the power of his despotic office to force the bishops to approve a dogma which the majority of them opposed. Bishop Dupanloup noted on April 15, 1870, that several bishops had said to him, "I'd rather die than see all that." Some of the bishops grew "bitter from vexation and despair, or fell sick." For many the Council looked like a degrading game, a tragic farce. Bishop Georg Strossmayer complained that Vatican I had not had "the freedom necessary to make it a true Council and to justify its passing resolutions binding the conscience of the entire Catholic world. The proof of this was perfectly self-evident."40
Infallibility or Instability?
As we have already noted, more than a few members "I the Council in disgust before it ended." On July 17, 1870, day before the vote was to be taken, 55 bishops who were opposed declared that "out of reverence for the Holy Father they did not wish to take part [in the vote]. They then left Rome in protest."41
On July 18, 1870, the last day of the Council, there were only 535 "yes" votes, less than half of the 1084 original members entitled to vote. Yet the Vatican newspapers deceitfully wrote it up as though the assent had been unanimous. Through threats of demotion and job loss and other pressures, the pope managed eventually to obtain the submission of most of those opposed. Such was the unbiblical and scandalously dishonest manner in which papal infallibility became a dogma of the Roman Catholic Church! Unfortunately, far too few Catholics know the facts.
Bishop Dupanloup entered in his diary on June 28, 1870: "I'm not going to the Council anymore. The violence, the shamelessness, and even more the falsity, vanity, and continual lying force me to keep my distance." On August 26, 1870, 14 German theologians declared, "Freedom from every sort of moral coercion and from influence through superior force is a sine qua non for all ecumenical councils. Such freedom was missing from this gathering.... "42
Further insights into the character and behavior of Pius IX which Hasler, during years of research, gleaned from the secret Vatican archives and other documents are tragically revealing:
The unhealthy mysticism, the childish tantrums, the shallow sensibility, the intermittent mental absences, the strangely inappropriate language even in strictly official speeches, and the senile obstinacy all indicate the loss of a solid grip on reality....
Beyond this there are instances of near megalomania which are still hard to evaluate. In 1866 ... Pius IX applied Christ's saying, "1 am the way, the truth, and the life," to himself. On April 8, 1871, Count Harry von Arnim-Suckow reported to the imperial chancellor, Prince Otto von Bismarck, of Pius IX's attempt to work a miracle: " . . . as he was passing by the church of Trinita dei Monti, the pope bade a cripple who was lying out in front, `Rise up and walk!' But the experiment failed."
The historian Ferdinand Gregorovius had previously noted in his diary on June 17, 1870: "The pope recently got the urge to try out his infallibility.... While out on a walk he called to a paralytic: `Get up and walk.' The poor devil gave it a try and collapsed, which put God's viceregent very much out of sorts. The anecdote has already been mentioned in the newspapers. I really believe that he's insane.". .
Pius IX gave the impression that he was suffering from delusions of grandeur in other ways as well. Some, even bishops, thought he was mad, or talked about pathological symptoms. The Catholic Church historian Franz Xaver Kraus noted in his diary: `Apropos of Pius IX, Du Camp agrees with my view that ever since 1848 the pope has been both mentally ill and malicious."43
The Bitter Fruit of Papal Tyranny
While Pius IX, living in his fantasy world of omnipotence, was forcing the incredible concept upon the Church and the world that the magic of an office could render a mere human infallible, the Italian people, chafing under the pope's depravity and barbarism, were planning his overthrow. Accusing the papacy of erecting a "fortress of usurped power upon the corpses of passing generations," Italian patriot Giuseppe Mazzini denounced Pius IX and his predecessor popes eloquently:
The Gospel whispers universal love and brotherhood, but you have sown discord, you have inspired hatred.... You who should have protected the weak against the oppressor, you who should have encouraged peace among citizens, you have summoned the paid assassins [from Spain, France, Austria and Naples] to whet their murderous daggers upon the very stone of the altar, while you have warned your citizen slaves "do not dare to arise."44
In 1861 the Parliament of the newly created Kingdom of Italy declared Rome to be its capital, even though the pope was still its tyrant. When the time came to enforce that verdict, those fighting for Italian independence would not be denied. The combined papal, French, and Austrian armies were not able to withstand unity. On September 20, 1870, almost two months to the day after Vatican I had confirmed the pope's infallibility, he was finally deposed as the ruler of the province of Rome. Overwhelming the defending papal army, the troops of General Cadorna battered their way through Rome's walls near the Porta Pia. The plebiscite, to which we have already referred, confirmed by an overwhelming vote Rome's annexation to a United Italy.
Pius IX withdrew into the Vatican in self-imposed imprisonment, and from that sanctuary loosed a veritable bombardment of words upon his enemies. His damnation of King Victor Emmanuel-"wherever he may be, whether in the house or in the field ... in all the faculties of his body ... damned in his mouth, in his breast, in his heart ... may heaven, with all the powers that move therein, rise up against him, curse him and damn him! "-ran to more than 130 words. As for the rest of his enemies, which according to the vote must have been about 99 percent of the Italian population, the pope thundered, "With the authority of Almighty God, of the holy apostles Peter and Paul ...
all those ... who have perpetrated the invasion, usurpation and occupation of the provinces of our domain, or of this dear City [Rome] ... have incurred major excommunication and all the rest of the censures and ecclesiastical penalties, covered by the sacred canons, apostolic constitutions and decrees of all the general Councils, especially the Council of Trent.45
Of course, the pope's frustrated fulminations, at least on this occasion, were in vain. The Italians were not impressed with the new dogma of infallibility. Rome has continued under the control of the Italian government to this day. As we have already mentioned, the Concordat with Mussolini in 1929 would salvage for the popes their autonomy over a city-state, the Vatican, which has thereafter enjoyed equal status with the nations of the world.
The Vatican did not die. Nor did the Roman Catholic Church shrivel up. It has grown worldwide to nearly 1 billion members. The pope's influence around the globe, though effected more subtly, is now greater than ever. John's vision is still remarkably accurate, though much remains to be fulfilled.
Pomp and Adulation
Peter declared that Christ had left us "an example that [we] should follow his steps" (1 Peter 2:21). He wrote that church leaders were not to act as "lords over God's heritage" but, like Christ, were to be "examples to the flock" (1 Peter 5:1-3). That the popes have disobeyed both Christ and Peter, whom they claim was the first pope, is abundantly clear. How could any ordinary member of the flock follow the example of the autocratic, luxurious, and highly privileged papal lifestyle? The popes, in defiance of the one whom they say was the first pope, are literally "lords" over those under them. This fact has been manifest for centuries in their tyrannical conduct, which has been rendered even more offensive by the idea of infallibility becoming a Roman Catholic dogma.
The Donation of Constantine, though a fraud (as we have seen elsewhere), and from which the popes claimed to get their authority and power, reveals a great deal about the way popes dressed, lived, and functioned during the Middle Ages. As de Rosa puts it:
From the Donation, it is plain that the Bishop of Rome looked like Constantine, lived like him, dressed like him, inhabited his palaces, ruled over his lands, had exactly the same imperial outlook. The pope, too, wanted to lord it over church and state.
Only seven hundred years after Peter died, the popes had become obsessed with power and possessions. Peter's [alleged] successors [became] not the servants but the masters of the world. They ... dress in purple like Nero and call themselves Pontifex Maximus.46
The unbiblical nature of the papal office gives the man holding it a power greater than even that of a political tyrant. And both the opportunity and temptation for abuse is immeasurably increased when the man is considered to be infallible-something which no civil ruler would dare to claim today.
To see the devastating effect of ascribing such supreme authority to a mere man, one need only watch the obsequious reaction of those who find themselves fortunate enough to meet the pope in person, to shake his hand or reach out and touch him. Observe the wild enthusiasm of the tens of thousands who gather when the pope makes a personal appearance. In their fawning acknowledgment of infallibility there is an unwholesome identification of the Roman Catholic faithful with papal power. It is an identification which breeds even among common Church members a blinding and destructive pride at belonging to "the oldest and largest ... the one true Church, outside of which there is no salvation." That conceit makes devout Catholics insensitive to what would otherwise be obvious failings in their Church, and it keeps them in its power.
The Church has become the Savior in the place of Christ, leading to the seductive and appealing belief that no matter what happens, that institution with the good offices of the pope, the saints, and especially Mary will eventually get one to heaven if surviving relatives pay for enough Masses to be said in one's name. It is a deadly delusion which is promoted in catechisms taught from childhood to all Catholics. Such destructive deceit is made plausible by the teaching that although Christ paid for our sins on the cross, the Church is the dispenser of the "graces and merits" He won. Add to that the ruinous conceit that subtly ensnares members of a Church whose head is "infallible," and one has the elements to create craven superstition and, finally, tragedy.
Yet the Roman Catholic Church has changed her mind enough times on important issues to demonstrate even to herself that she is not infallible. It used to be a mortal sin to eat meat on Friday, but that is no longer the rule. One used to see medals and statues of St. Christopher, patron saint of travelers, displayed not only on dashboards but even in elevators for protection. But this popular Catholic saint was declared a myth. The millions who for centuries thought he protected them were deluded, according to the latest ruling by the hierarchy. As ex-nun Patricia Nolan Savas puts it:
Any organization that can, with the stroke of its sacerdotal pen, remove the pain of eternal punishment from a Friday hot dog and pluck St. Christopher from millions of dashboards can surely admit that it has erred in other matters.47
One would think so, but so far there has been no admission of wrongdoing by Rome even regarding the Inquisition, the mistreatment and massacre of tens of thousands of Jews, the martyrdom of millions of Christians, the slaughter of 1 million Serbs during World War II, and the smuggling of tens of thousands of Nazi war criminals into safe havens.