Upton Sinclair: The Profits of Religion

Book Three - The Church of the Servant-Girls

The Holy Roman Empire

The system thus self-revealed you admit is appalling in its squalor; but you say that at least it is milder and less perilous than the Church which burned Giordano Bruno and John Huss. But the very essence of the Catholic Church is that it does not change; semper eadem is its motto: the same yesterday, today and forever - the same in Washington as in Rome or Madrid - the same in a modern democracy as in the Middle Ages. The Catholic Church is not primarily a religious organization; it is a political organization, and proclaims the fact, and defies those who would shut it up in the religious field. The Rev. S.B. Smith, a Catholic doctor of divinity, explains in his "Elements of Ecclesiastical Law":

Protestants contend that the entire power of the Church consists in the right to teach and exhort, but not in the right to command, rule, or govern; whence they infer that she is not a perfect society or sovereign state. This theory is false; for the Church, as was seen, is vested Jure divino with power, (1) to make laws; (2) to define and apply them (potestas judicialis); (3) to punish those who violate her laws (potestas coercitiva).

And this is not one scholar's theory, but the formal and repeated proclamation of infallible Popes. Here is the "Syllabus of Errors," issued by Pope Pius IX, Dec. 8th, 1864, declaring in substance that

The state has not the right to leave every man free to profess and embrace whatever religion he shall deem true.

It has not the right to enact that the ecclesiastical power shall require the permission, of the civil power in order to the exercise of its authority.

Then in the same Syllabus the rights and powers of the Church are affirmed in substance:

She has the right to require the state not to leave every man free to profess his own religion.

She has the right to exercise her power without the permission or consent of the state.

She has the right of perpetuating the union of church and state.

She has the right to require that the Catholic religion shall be the only religion of the state, to the exclusion of all others.

She has the right to prevent the state from granting the public exercise of their own worship to persons immigrating from it.

She has the power of requiring the state not to permit free expression of opinion.

You see, the Holy Office is unrepentant and unchastened. You who think that liberty of conscience is the basis of civilization, ought at least to know what the Catholic Church has to say about the matter. Here is Mgr. Segur, in his "Plain Talk About Protestantism of Today," a book published in Boston and extensively circulated by American Catholics:

Freedom of thought is the soul of Protestantism; it is likewise the soul of modern rationalism and philosophy. It is one of those impossibilities which only the levity of a superficial reason can regard as admissible. But a sound mind that does not feed on empty words, looks upon this freedom of thought only as simply absurd, and, what is more, as sinful.

You take the liberty of thinking, nevertheless; you feel safe because the Law will protect you. But do you imagine that this "Law" applies to your Catholic neighbors? Do you imagine that they are bound by the restraints that bind yon? Here is Pope Leo XIII, in his Encyclical of 1890 - and please remember that Leo XIII was the 'beau ideal' of our capitalist statesmen and editors, as wise and kind and gentle-souled a Pope as ever roasted a heretic. He says:

If the laws of the state are openly at variance with the laws of God - if they inflict injury upon the Church - or set at naught the authority of Jesus Christ which is vested in the Supreme Pontiff, then indeed it becomes a duty to resist them, a sin to render obedience.

And consider how many fields there are in which the laws of a democratic state do and forever must contravene the "laws of God" as interpreted by the Catholic Church. Consider for example, that the Pope, in his decree 'Ne Temere,' has declared that Catholics who are married by civil authorities or by Protestant clergymen will be living in "filthy concubinage"! Consider, in the same way, the problems of education, burial, prison discipline, blasphemy, poor relief, incorporation, mortmain, religious endowments, vows of celibacy. To the above list, as given by Gladstone, one might add many issues, such as birth control, which have arisen since his time.

What the Church means is to rule. Her literature is full of expressions of that intention, set forth in the boldest and haughtiest and most uncompromising manner. For example, Cardinal Manning, in the Pro-Cathedral at Kensington, speaking in the name of the Pope:

I acknowledge on civil power; I am the subject of no prince; I claim more than this - I claim to be the supreme judge and director of the consciences of men - of the peasant that tills the field, and of the prince that sits upon the throne; of the household of privacy, and the legislator that makes laws for kingdoms; I am the sole, last supreme judge of what is right and wrong.

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