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T HE RECENT publication of Lord Acton's letters to Mary Gladstone, daughter of the late distinguished British Premier, has created a genuine sensation among the Romish hierarchy. Who was Lord Acton? He was the greatest scholar and the most noted Roman Catholic layman of his day. He lived and died in the Roman church. He was a British Peer, a member of the Rouse of Lords, a Professor of History in Cambridge University. He was a prodigy of learning, a walking cyclopedia. He was a life-long friend of Gladstone, and for many years, he maintained a correspondence with the Premier's gifted daughter.

Although he never broke with the Church, yet he had no use for the Papacy nor the Jesuits who controlled it, being so well versed in the history of both. He and Professor Dollinger of Munich, the great German Catholic scholar, who was excommunicated by Pope Pius IX., were bosom friends. Lord Acton went to Rome during the session of the Vatican Council, 1870, and did his utmost, by pen, and persuasive speech with the members of the Council, and those outside, to prevent the Council from proclaiming the dogma of Papal Infallibility. That Acton was not excommunicated as well as Dollinger was because he was a layman, and in view of his high standing before the British public as a great scholar, and his marked personal influence. When these letters were written to Mary Gladstone (now Mrs. Drew), it was not expected that they would ever be published, a fact which gives the extracts we take from them the greater weight.

As early as 1898, before Lord Acton's death, there was a demand for the publication of the letters, and the author, with certain reservations, gave his assent. The letters embrace a wide range of thought. They touch upon current events of vital importance, political and religious. The importance and value of the opinions and historic facts pertaining to the Papacy and Jesuitism are enhanced by the fact that the author was one of the most distinguished historical scholars of his day, and while a true Catholic, he was not blind to the blighting influence of Jesuitism and the Papacy.

The following extracts are from a recent work published by McMillan & Co., of London, entitled "The Letters of Lord Actor to Mary Gladstone."

In the London Times of November 9th and 24th, 1874, Lord Acton said: "The Corpus juris makes the murder of Protestants lawful. Pope Pius the Fifth justified the assassination of Elizabeth. Pope Gregory the Thirteenth condoned, or rather applauded, the massacre of Saint Bartholomew."

"A speculative Jesuitism separate from theories of tyranny, mendacity, and murder, keeping honestly clear of the Jesuit with his lies, of the Diminican with his fagots, of the Popes with their massacres, has not yet been brought to light.”

"Cardinal Newman defended the Syllabus, and the Syllabus justified all those atrocities. Pope Pius the Fifth held that it was sound Catholic doctrine that any man may stab a heretic condemned by Rome, and that every man is a heretic who attacks the papal prerogatives. Borromeo wrote a letter for the purpose of causing a few Protestants to be murdered."

"The Irish massacre was more appalling to the imagination than the Sepoy rebellion—because it was nearer and of vaster proportions. A respectable writer who lived in Ireland believes that there were 300,000 victims."

The clearest statement of his own opinion upon Jesuitism and the Jesuits is found in a private letter to Premier Gladstone among other things Lord Acton says: "Putting aside the ignorant mass, and those who are incapable of reasoning. I do not know of a religious and educated Catholic who really believes that the See of Rome is a safe guide to salvation. In short, I do not believe there are Catholics who, sincerely and intelligently, believe that Rome is right,, and that Dollinger is wrong. And therefore, I think you are too hard on Jesuits, or too gentle with Jesuitism. You say, for instance, that it—Jesuitism promotes untruthfulness. I don't think that is fair. It not only promotes, it inculcates, distinct mendacity and deceitfulness. In certain cases, it is made a duty to lie. But those who teach this doctrine do not become habitual liars in other things."

"An account of Catholicism which assumes that, in the middle of the 17th century, Rome had not commenced to burn (Protestants), is an account which studiously avoids the real and tragic issues of the time. The part of Hamlet is omitted, by design. Familiar instances must have been remembered, as they had read in the most famous theological treatise of the last generation, by what gradation of torments a Protestant ought to die. They knew that whoever obstructed the execution of that law forfeited his life, that the murder of a heretic was not only permitted but rewarded, that it was a virtuous deed to slaughter Protestant men and women, until they were all exterminated. TO KEEP THESE ABOMINATIONS OUT OF SIGHT IS THE SAME OFFENCE AS TO DESCRIBE THE REVOLUTION (FRENCH) WITHOUT THE GUILLOTINE. There was no mystery about these practices, no scruple, and no concealment. Although never repudiated, and although retrospectively sanctioned by the Pope in his Syllabus, they fell into desuetude, under pressure from France, and from Protestant Europe. But they were defended, more or less boldly, down to the peace of Westphalia (1648). The most famous Jesuits countenanced them, and were bound to countenance them, for the papacy had.”

"The inquisition is peculiarly the weapon, and peculiarly the work of the Popes. It stands out from all those things in which they co-operated, followed, or assented as the distinctive features of papal Rome. It was set up, renewed, and perfected by a long series of acts emanating from the supreme authority in the Church. No other institution, no doctrine, no ceremony, is so distinctly the individual creation of the papacy, except the Dispensing power. It—the inquisition, is the principal thing with which the papacy is identified, and by which it must be judged. The principle of the Inquisition is the Pope's sovereign power over life and death. Whosoever disobeys him should be tried and tortured and burnt; If that cannot be done, formalities may be dispensed with, and the culprit may be killed like an outlaw.”

"That is to say the principle of the Inquisition is murderous, and a man's opinion of the papacy is regulated and determined by his opinion about religious assassination. If he honestly looks upon it as an abomination, he can only accept the Primacy with a drawback, with precaution, suspicion, and aversion for its acts. IF HE ACCEPTS THE PRIMACY WITH CONFIDENCE, ADMIRATION, AND UNCONDITIONAL OBEDIENCE, HE MUST HAVE MADE TERMS WITH MURDER.”

"Therefore, the most awful imputation in the catalogue of crimes rests, according to the measure of their knowledge and their zeal, upon those whom we call Ultramontanes (Jesuits). The controversy, primarily, is not about problems of theology; it is about the spiritual state of man's soul, who is the defender, the promoter, the accomplice of murder. Every limitation of papal credit and authority which effectually disassociates it from the reproach, which breaks off its solidarity with assassins and washes away the guilt of blood, will solve most other problems. At least, it is enough for my present purpose to say, that blot is so large and foul that it precedes and eclipses the real, and claims the first attention.”

"I will show you what Ultramontanism (the Papacy) makes of good men, by an example very near home. Saint Charles Borromeo, when he was the Pope's nephew and minister, wrote a letter requiring Protestants to be murdered, and complaining that no heretical heads were forwarded to Rome, in spite of the reward that was offered for them. His editor, with perfect consistency, publishes the letter with a note of approval. Cardinal Manning not only holds up to the general veneration of mankind the authority that canonized this murderer, but makes him in a special manner his own patron, joins the Congregation of Oblates of St. Charles, and devotes himself to the study of his acts and the propagation of his renown."

Lord Acton contributed to the North British Review a learned essay on the Massacre of Saint Bartholomew, in which he marshaled the facts, in a masterly manner, in favor of the theory that the murder of the Huguenots had been premeditated at Rome.

Sir John went to Rome some time before the opening of the Vatican Council of 1870, full of interest in the result, and full of sympathy with the distinguished minority who were prepared to resist the forging of fresh chains upon their freedom. He wrote frequent reports of the Council and its proceedings, chiefly to Mr. Gladstone and Professor Dollinger. In writing of the action of the Council in requiring submission to Papal decrees on matters not articles of faith, he says : "They were confirming without let or question, a power they saw in daily exercise; they were investing with new authority the existing Bulls, and giving unqualified sanction to the inquisitor and the Index, to the murder of heretic, and the deposing of kings. They approved what they were sailed to reform, and blessed with their lips what their hearts knew to be accursed."

At the very opening of the Council, regulations were issued which gave the Pope the sole right of making decrees and defining dogmas. "The sole legislative authority," Lord Acton wrote, "has been abandoned to the Pope. We have to meet an organized conspiracy to establish a power which would be the most formidable enemy of liberty, as well as science in the world." "Catholics," he declared, "would at once become irredeemable enemies of civil and religious liberty. They would have to profess a false system of morality, and to repudiate literary and scientific authority. They would be as dangerous to civil society in the school as in the State."


Professor Ignaz Von Dollinger was one of the most distinguished scholars of the Roman Church. For forty-seven years he had been an active professor of theology in one of the great Universities of Germany. Because he would not subscribe to the new dogmas decreed by the Pope and the Vatican Council, he was excommunicated. In writing to the Pope's Nuncio in regard to the judgment pronounced against him, he says: "During this long period—forty-seven years, I always taught the contrary of what was decided by Pius IX in 1870. The whole world knew or might have known what I believed and taught on this question. I taught what I had learned from my masters, what had been confirmed by my researches, and what I found in the historical and theological work which I judged to be the most reliable, namely, that the infallibility of the Pope was an opinion that had appeared at a very late period, but which is now tolerated in the church."

The following extract from this letter is significant and Important, proving from this high authority that the Church of Rome approves of and authorizes the murder of heretics or Protestants when it is for the good of the Church. Professor Dollinger says: "I take the liberty of citing a characteristic fact. When the Archbishop, according to his own words, obeying the orders of the Pope, communicated to me the sentence that had been pronounced against me, he informed me that I had incurred all the punishments which are heaped by the canonical law upon those who are excommunicated. The first and most important of these punishments is contained in the celebrated Bull of Pope Urban II, which decides that EVERY ONE MAY PUT TO DEATH ONE WHO IS EXCOMMUNICATED, when it is done from a motive of zeal for the Church! At the same time he had sermons preached against me from all the pulpits of Munich, and the effect produced by these declamations was such that the Chief of the Police informed me that attacks were being plotted against me, and that I should do well not to go out without company."

Professor Dollinger, in writing to Pastor Widman, who had written to him for counsel, in speaking of the hopeless condition in which affairs are in in Rome, says: "In the whole of this Papal community, within and without the confines of Italy, there is no longer any moving power but one, in the presence of which all others, the episcopacy, the cardinalate, the spiritual orders, the schools, etc., remain passive...and that is the Order of the Jesuits. It is the soul and sovereign of the whole of the Roman Church...The Jesuits are the incarnation of superstition united with despotism. To rule mankind by means of the Pope, who has become subservient to them, this is their task, their aim, and their art—which they practice in a masterly way. Hence their endeavors to make religion mechanical, the sacrifice of the intellect, which they highly recommend, the training of souls to unconditioned and blind obedience, etc."

Professor Dollinger regards the adoption, by Rome, of Liguori's works as the principal text-book on morals for the priesthood, as the greatest monstrosity that has ever occurred in the domain of theological doctrine. He says LIGUORI WAS “a man whose false morals, perverse worship of the Virgin Mary, constant use of the grossest fables and forgeries, make his writings a storehouse of errors and lies. In the whole range of Church history, I do not know a single example of such a terrible and such a pernicious confusion."

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