An Indictment of the Roman Catholic Church (by H.G. Wells) – Pt. 3

Construction of the present basilica, replacing the Old St. Peter's Basilica of the 4th century, began in 1506 and was completed in 1626.

Construction of the present basilica, replacing the Old St. Peter’s Basilica of the 4th century, began in 1506 and was completed in 1626.

… Ever since the Church of Rome became rich in the fourth century there has been a spirited struggle for the control of the treasury. As early as 366 more than 160 of the supporters of the rival candidates had to be buried, and as late as 1492 the ‘butcher’s bill’ was more than 200. This struggle is now more refined; though when the Pope says his first mass he still has nobles at hand to take the first sip of the wine and see that it has not been poisoned.
    If Pius IX had soreseen the election of Leo XIII he would have excommunicated him, but if Leo XIII had foreseen that at his death the cardinals would vote for Giuseppe Sarto, he would have excommunicated the lot of them.
    Such is the “Catholic atmosphere” in Rome today, and such the present phase of the disintegration of the Christendom of our ancestors. Even in comparison with Fascism and the Nazi adventure, Roman Catholicism is a broken and utterly desperate thing, capable only of malignant mischief in our awakening world.
                —Father Antony, Black International Tract, Second Series no. 11. 1939. (Cited in Crux Ansata, pp. 103–05)

(76)    The Reformation had a threefold aspect. The princes’ Reformation wanted to stop the flow of money to Rome, and seize the moral authority, the educational power and the material possessions of the Church within their dominions; the reformation, according to the people, sought to make Christianity a power against the unrighteousness of the rich and powerful; and a movement of reformation within the Church, of which St. Francis of Assisi was the precursor, sought to restore the unifying virtue of the Church and, through its virtue, its power.
    The princes had no intention of releasing the judgments of their subjects, more particularly when it took on the quality, as we should now say, of a revolutionary popular socialism. They sought merely to oust the papal influence and establish national churches dependent upon themselves. As England, Scotland, Sweden, Norway, Denmark, North Germany and Bohemia broke away from the Roman communion, the princes and their ministers showed the utmost solicitude to keep the movement under control. Just as much reformation as would sever the link with Rome they permitted. Anything beyond that, any dangerous break towards the primitive teachings of Jesus or the crude direct interpretation of the Bible, they resisted. The established Church of England is one of the most typical and successful of the resulting compromises, still sacramental and sacerdotal.

The immense cathedral of St. Peter dwarfs the individual, whom it is designed to awe in every way.

The immense cathedral of St. Peter dwarfs the individual, whom it is designed to awe in every way.

(84)    The Roman Catholic Church, no longer the Catholic Church, woke up to the realities of her position, to the threat of complete destruction at no very distant date unless she organised herself to resist.    The Reformation, the expropriation of the monastic properties and the revolt against the ascendancy of Rome, lasted for less than a century, and then it was overtaken by the Counter Reformation of the alarmed and awakened Roman Church. It was a belated awakening, and its history unfolds the same record, on an intensified scale of confused motives, levity of purpose, obstinate insistence upon freakish doctrinal points, the fear of death that arises from belief in an incalculable future life and in a pitilessly vindictive deity, amenable only to the magic of orthodox formulae, which hitherto had confused and had now split Christendom.
    The Counter Reformation fell back upon the ideal of Christendom as an obedient family of nations under the parental guidance of the Pope…

(94) [In Chp. XVI Wells describes the founding in the sixteenth century of the Society of Jesus, better known as the Jesuit order by St. Ignatius Loyola. The aggressive Jesuits demanded of themselves—and enforced upon others—unquestioning obedience to Rome.] Just as for soldiers of the old type the army is everything, so in the new fighting force the [Society of Jesus] had to be everything; blind uncritical obedience to orders was the Society’s first law, it was a complete surrender of individual thought and judgment, an entire abandonment of freedom. In a letter to his followers at Coimbra, [Ignatius] declared that the general of the order stands in the place of God, without reference to his personal wisdom, piety or discretion; that any obedience which falls short of making the superior’s will one’s own, in inward affection as well as in outward effect, is lax and imperfect; that going beyond the letter of command, even in things abstractly good and praiseworthy, is disobedience, and that the “sacrifice of the intellect” is the third and greatest grade of obedience, well pleasing to God, when the inferior not only wills what the superior wills, but thinks what he thinks…
    The work [of the Jesuits] had to be propaganda; teaching and the insinuation by every possible means of the authority and policy of the Church.

(96)    Unfortunately for the world, the Jesuits have never been able to keep clear of politics… They had their share, direct or indirect, in embroiling states, concocting conspiracies and kindling wars. They had a large share in fanning the flames of political hatred against the Huguenots under the last two Valois kings; they plotted obstinately against England in the reign of Elizabeth; their share in the Thirty Years’ War and in the religious miseries of Bohemia is indisputable. Their influence in the revocation of the Edict of Nantes and the expulsion of the Protestants from France is manifest. The ruin of the Stuart cause under James II, and the establishment of the Protestant succession, were due largely to their clumsy meddling. In a number of cases where the evidence against them is defective, it is at least an unfortunate coincidence that there is always direct proof of some Jesuit having been in communication with the actual agents engaged.

 Part Four →


About René Salm

René Salm is the author of two books on New Testament archeology and manages the companion website

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