One of the oldest and lamest excuses used by Catholics to commit spiritual suicide by quitting the practicing of the Catholic Faith and/or formally apostatizing by joining a Protestant sect or defecting to an outright denial of the Sacred Divinity of Our Blessed Lord and Saviour Jesus Christ and of the Most Blessed Trinity is to blame the bad example of others for their surrender to the devil’s suggestions to leave the one and only means of human salvation, the Catholic Church.
To be sure, lame excuses have been used by defecting Catholics long before the conciliar revolutionaries seized control of the Vatican, diocesan chanceries, parishes, schools, colleges, universities, seminaries and convents. Variants of these excuses usually run along the lines of the following:
- “My father/mother/uncle/aunt was mean to me. He went to Mass every day. He was a hypocrite. Religion did nothing for him.
- “A priest/consecrated religious/bishop was mean to me. Catholicism is a farce.”
- “The Catholic Church is corrupt. The Vatican is filled with riches, yet we hear nothing but sermons about giving more money.”
- “Mass is boring. I don’t get anything out of it.”
- “I don’t like all those dogmas and commandments.”
- “There are too many rules to follow.”
- “I didn’t leave the Catholic Church. It left me.”
- “No church is going to tell me not to use contraception.”
- “I want a church that is closer to the Lord and relies more on the Bible.”
- “I want my freedom from strictures and gobbledygook.”
Obviously, these are just a few of the lame excuses that have been used by defecting Catholics. The variations of these excuses have increased since the scandals of clerical abuse became a matter of general public knowledge in 2002, although such scandals had been covered for two decades previously by such disparate outlets as The Wanderer and the National Catholic Reporter.
When all is said and done, however, an excuse is simply that, an excuse, and excuses are used by those who are unwilling to face up to the simple truth that human nature is wounded by vestigial after-effects of Original Sin and by the effects of our own Actual Sins. While Our Blessed Lord and Saviour Jesus Christ instructed us very firmly not to give scandal, He also admonished us to forgive others as we are forgiven by Him in the Sacred Tribunal of Penance.
Moreover, it is imperative to remember that the sins of individual Catholics, including bishops, priests and religious, are not imputable to Holy Mother Church herself, she who is the spotless, mystical spouse of her Divine Founder, Invisible Head and Mystical Bridegroom, Our Blessed Lord and Saviour Jesus Christ, an immutable truth that was stated very eloquently by Pope Pius XII in Mystici Corporis, June 29, 1943:
65. For this reason We deplore and condemn the pernicious error of those who dream of an imaginary Church, a kind of society that finds its origin and growth in charity, to which, somewhat contemptuously, they oppose another, which they call juridical. But this distinction which they introduce is false: for they fail to understand that the reason which led our Divine Redeemer to give to the community of man He founded the constitution of a Society, perfect of its kind and containing all the juridical and social elements -namely, that He might perpetuate on earth the saving work of Redemption  -- was also the reason why He willed it to be enriched with the heavenly gifts of the Paraclete. The Eternal Father indeed willed it to be the "kingdom of the Son of his predilection;"  but it was to be a real kingdom, in which all believers should make Him the entire offering of their intellect and will,  and humbly and obediently model themselves on Him, Who for our sake "was made obedient unto death."  There can, then, be no real opposition or conflict between the invisible mission of the Holy Spirit and the juridical commission of Ruler and Teacher received from Christ, since they mutually complement and perfect each other -- as do the body and soul in man -- and proceed from our one Redeemer who not only said as He breathed on the Apostles "Receive ye the Holy Spirit,"  but also clearly commanded: "As the Father hath sent me, I also send you";  and again: "He that heareth you heareth me." 
66. And if at times there appears in the Church something that indicates the weakness of our human nature, it should not be attributed to her juridical constitution, but rather to that regrettable inclination to evil found in each individual, which its Divine Founder permits even at times in the most exalted members of His Mystical Body, for the purpose of testing the virtue of the shepherds no less than of the flocks, and that all may increase the merit of their Christian faith. For, as We said above, Christ did not wish to exclude sinners from His Church; hence if some of her members are suffering from spiritual maladies, that is no reason why we should lessen our love for the Church, but rather a reason why we should increase our devotion to her members. Certainly the loving Mother is spotless in the Sacraments, by which she gives birth to and nourishes her children; in the faith which she has always preserved inviolate; in her sacred laws imposed on all; in the evangelical counsels which she recommends; in those heavenly gifts and extraordinary graces through which, with inexhaustible fecundity,  she generates hosts of martyrs, virgins and confessors. But it cannot be laid to her charge if some members fall, weak or wounded. In their name she prays to God daily: "Forgive us our trespasses"; and with the brave heart of a mother she applies herself at once to the work of nursing them back to spiritual health. When therefore we call the Body of Jesus Christ "mystical," the very meaning of the word conveys a solemn warning. It is a warning that echoes in these words of St. Leo: "Recognize, O Christian, your dignity, and being made a sharer of the divine nature go not back to your former worthlessness along the way of unseemly conduct. Keep in mind of what Head and of what Body you are a member."  (Pope Pius XII, Mystici Corporis, June 29, 1943.)
This truth is unknown to most defecting Catholics as it is the case in many, although not all, instances the lame excuses they give to quit the practice of the Holy Faith and/or to walk into the waiting arms of heretics and infidels are meant to cover the simple fact that they do not want to keep one or more of the binding precepts of the Divine Positive Law and the Natural Law. Among these precepts is the absolutely Sovereignty of God over the sanctity and fecundity of marriage, and it is all too frequently the case these days that Catholics walk away from even the easy-going ways of the counterfeit church of conciliarism because they do want to use contraception freely without any possibility of being reminded that they are jeopardizing the salvation of their immortal souls.
This all comes to mind because a 1979 graduate of Pope Saint Pius X Preparatory Seminary (which was in existence between 1961 and 1984) in Uniondale, Long Island, New York, has doubled down in his defection from the Catholic Faith by using the “Church is corrupt” excuse that demonstrates an incredible ignorance of Holy Mother Church’s Divine Constitution and a refusal to recognize that the scandals suborned by the true bishops of the past and by the false bishops of the counterfeit church of conciliarism, which is not and can never be the Catholic Church, are not imputable to the Holy Faith.
Oh, you want the name of the 1979 graduate of Pope Saint Pius X Preparatory Seminary?
Sure. I will give it to you.
This what Mr. Hannity, who said on his radio show in the late-1990s that “no church is going to tell me that I can’t use contraception” and then, in 2007, famously argued the point with the since-disgraced “Father” Thomas Euteneuer (see my own commentary on what led up to Hannity's denunciation of "Father" Euteneuer, Let Truth Ring in the Ears of Hollow Men), said in an interview recently as he beamed with the arrogant contempt of the true Church, outside of which there is no salvation and without which there can be no true social order:
Popular talk show host Sean Hannity says that despite leaving the Catholic Church due to “institutionalized corruption,” his Christian faith and relationship with God continue to be the source of his peace, security, and fulfillment.
In an interview with Ainsley Earhardt, co-host of FOX & Friends and host of FOX Nation’s "Ainsley’s Bible Study" that will be broadcast online Wednesday, Hannity opens up about his journey to finding God, his current religious beliefs, and why he loves the Christmas season.
The host of "The Sean Hannity Show" revealed in a clip shared with The Christian Post that despite attending Catholic school for 12 years, he is no longer affiliated with the Catholic Church due to “too much institutionalized corruption” that has not been “rectified.” However, Hannity said his faith has “gotten stronger” as he’s “gotten older.” (Hannity says "faith" is stronager than ever after leaving the Catholic Church.)
While it is certainly true that the counterfeit church of conciliarism is institutionally corrupt in its doctrines, liturgical rites, moral teaching (or lack thereof) and its pastoral practices, Sean Hannity does not realize that this is so. He thinks that the Catholic Church is responsible for the recruitment, retention, promotion and protection of clerical abusers. Even admitting the fact that there clerical abuse was covered up by true bishops in the decades leading up to “Second” Vatican Council, it is never permitted for a Catholic to commit spiritual suicide to leave the only means of his salvation, the Catholic Church, because of the bad example given by the clergy. Those Catholics defecting to the “liberation” provided by Protestantism ought to consider the fact that Protestantism is itself a diabolical corruption of the Faith taught by Our Blessed Lord and Saviour Jesus Christ and that its very origins is emmeshed in lust, murder, theft and civil injustices of the sort that make what is happening to the president of the United States of America at this time a veritable episode of Ted Mack and The Original Amateur Hour. Those who are unconvinced of this fact should read the appendix below. (William Edward Maguiness, aka Ted Mack, was a faithful Catholic, by the way.)
Catholics may have a duty at times to remonstrate with the clergy and to seek redress in cases of serious abuse, but they also have a responsibility to pray for the conversion of clerical abusers as they focus first and foremost on their own daily conversion in cooperation with the graces won for us by the shedding of every single drop of Our Blessed Lord and Saviour Jesus Christ’s Most Precious Blood and that flow into our hearts and souls through the loving hands of Our Lady, she who is the Mediatrix of All Graces. It is simplistic to the point of imbecilic to use the corruption of either the real or faux clergy as an excuse to find a false religion that enables one to commit the sins that are at the root of consciences that do not want to be burdened with any kind of reminder that they are wrong.
It should be noted furthermore that any kind of religious “faith” other than Catholicism is false. Those who believe in false religions and think themselves to have a strong “faith” have fallen prey to the adversary’s deceits, the nature of which promoted Saint Paul to write the following to Saint Timothy:
 I charge thee, before God and Jesus Christ, who shall judge the living and the dead, by his coming, and his kingdom:  Preach the word: be instant in season, out of season: reprove, entreat, rebuke in all patience and doctrine.  For there shall be a time, when they will not endure sound doctrine; but, according to their own desires, they will heap to themselves teachers, having itching ears:  And will indeed turn away their hearing from the truth, but will be turned unto fables.  But be thou vigilant, labour in all things, do the work of an evangelist, fulfill thy ministry. Be sober. (2 Tim. 4: 1-15.)
Defecting Catholics, apostates and heretics have long enjoyed having their itching ears tickled by fables authored by the master of lies and the prince of darkness. It is a fundamental deception of the devil to convince someone, no less one descended from Ireland, the land of Saints and Scholars where Catholics were subjected to a bloody persecution during the Protestant Revolution, that his “faith” is stronger in a Protestant sect than in the one and only true Church for which Saint Patrick worked so assiduously as he converted pagans to the Cross of the Divine Redeemer.
Pope Pius XI explained in Mit Brennender Sorge, March 17, 1937, that faith in Our Blessed Lord and Saviour Jesus Christ is impossible without belong to His Holy Catholic Church and adhering to all that she teaches in His Holy Name:
29. It is on faith in God, preserved pure and stainless, that man's morality is based. All efforts to remove from under morality and the moral order the granite foundation of faith and to substitute for it the shifting sands of human regulations, sooner or later lead these individuals or societies to moral degradation. The fool who has said in his heart "there is no God" goes straight to moral corruption (Psalms xiii. 1), and the number of these fools who today are out to sever morality from religion, is legion. They either do not see or refuse to see that the banishment of confessional Christianity, i.e., the clear and precise notion of Christianity, from teaching and education, from the organization of social and political life, spells spiritual spoliation and degradation. No coercive power of the State, no purely human ideal, however noble and lofty it be, will ever be able to make shift of the supreme and decisive impulses generated by faith in God and Christ. If the man, who is called to the hard sacrifice of his own ego to the common good, loses the support of the eternal and the divine, that comforting and consoling faith in a God who rewards all good and punishes all evil, then the result of the majority will be, not the acceptance, but the refusal of their duty. The conscientious observation of the ten commandments of God and the precepts of the Church (which are nothing but practical specifications of rules of the Gospels) is for every one an unrivaled school of personal discipline, moral education and formation of character, a school that is exacting, but not to excess. A merciful God, who as Legislator, says -- Thou must! -- also gives by His grace the power to will and to do. To let forces of moral formation of such efficacy lie fallow, or to exclude them positively from public education, would spell religious under-feeding of a nation. To hand over the moral law to man's subjective opinion, which changes with the times, instead of anchoring it in the holy will of the eternal God and His commandments, is to open wide every door to the forces of destruction. The resulting dereliction of the eternal principles of an objective morality, which educates conscience and ennobles every department and organization of life, is a sin against the destiny of a nation, a sin whose bitter fruit will poison future generations. (Pope Pius XI, Mit Brennender Sorge, March 17, 1937.)
It is usually, although not always, the case that baptized Catholics who prefer having their itching ears ticked by the devil’s deceits want to commit one or more sins in violation of the binding precepts of the Sixth and Ninth Commandments. After all, Martin Luther’s revolution was premised on his unwillingness to observe celibacy, which is the total self-giving of a priest to Our Blessed Lord and Saviour Jesus Christ to service of His Holy Catholic Church that Pope Saint Siricius, who reigned between 384 and 399, bound even married priests to observe with rigor before universal celibacy was mandated upon Roman Rite priests, and the Protestant Revolution in England was all about King Henry Tudor’s lustful desires for his own illegitimate daughter, Anne Boleyn.
In this regard, therefore it is good to remind readers of what the lifelong Protestant, William Cobbett, wrote in the early Nineteenth Century about Martin Luther:
. . . . Martin Luther, who says in his own works that it was by the arguments of the devil (who, he says, frequently ate, drank and slept with him) that he was induced to turn Protestant; three worthy followers of that Luther who is by his disciple Melancthon called "a brutal man, void of piety and humanity, one more a Jew than a Christian . . . . (William Cobbett, A History of the Protestant Reformation in England and Ireland, written between 1824 and 1827 and published by Benziger Brothers, p. 209.)
Yes, the entire Protestant Revolution was diabolically inspired and preyed upon men who believed themselves exempt from the Ten Commandments as taught infallibly by Holy Mother Church.
Sean Hannity’s longtime criticism of the Sovereignty of God over the sanctity and fecundity of Holy Matrimony played a very important role in his decision to leave the Church of his ancestors. Unfortunately for him, however, the Catholic Church’s absolute condemnation of contraception is not an “opinion” as she, guided by God the Holy Ghost, teaches infallibly in the Holy Name of the One Who has revealed His truth to her and has entrusted her with the exclusive authority to bind the consciences of all men everywhere thereto. Although the sanctity and fecundity of matrimony is part of the Natural Law itself, Our Lord has given the Catholic Church alone the means to be the authoritative teacher of all its binding precepts, and no one is morally free to dissent from that which God Himself has revealed and exists also in the very nature of things.
Quoting both Pope Saint Pius X and a lay writer, Pope Pius XI made this point very clearly in Divini Illius Magistri, December 31, 1929:
18. Hence it is that in this proper object of her mission, that is, “in faith and morals, God Himself has made the Church sharer in the divine magisterium and, by a special privilege, granted her immunity from error; hence she is the mistress of men, supreme and absolutely sure, and she has inherent in herself an inviolable right to freedom in teaching.' By necessary consequence the Church is independent of any sort of earthly power as well in the origin as in the exercise of her mission as educator, not merely in regard to her proper end and object, but also in regard to the means necessary and suitable to attain that end. Hence with regard to every other kind of human learning and instruction, which is the common patrimony of individuals and society, the Church has an independent right to make use of it, and above all to decide what may help or harm Christian education. And this must be so, because the Church as a perfect society has an independent right to the means conducive to its end, and because every form of instruction, no less than every human action, has a necessary connection with man’s last end, and therefore cannot be withdrawn from the dictates of the divine law, of which the Church is guardian, interpreter and infallible mistress.
19. This truth is clearly set forth by Pius X of saintly memory:
Whatever a Christian does even in the order of things of earth, he may not overlook the supernatural; indeed he must, according to the teaching of Christian wisdom, direct all things towards the supreme good as to his last end; all his actions, besides, in so far as good or evil in the order of morality, that is, in keeping or not with natural and divine law, fall under the judgment and jurisdiction of the Church.
20. It is worthy of note how a layman, an excellent writer and at the same time a profound and conscientious thinker, has been able to understand well and express exactly this fundamental Catholic doctrine:
The Church does not say that morality belongs purely, in the sense of exclusively, to her; but that it belongs wholly to her. She has never maintained that outside her fold and apart from her teaching, man cannot arrive at any moral truth; she has on the contrary more than once condemned this opinion because it has appeared under more forms than one. She does however say, has said, and will ever say, that because of her institution by Jesus Christ, because of the Holy Ghost sent her in His name by the Father, she alone possesses what she has had immediately from God and can never lose, the whole of moral truth, omnem veritatem, in which all individual moral truths are included, as well those which man may learn by the help of reason, as those which form part of revelation or which may be deduced from it. (Pope Pius XI, Divini Illius Magistri, December 31, 1929.)
Pope Pius XI’s condemnation of contraception in Casti Connubii precisely a year later was simply a reminder of truths that existed in the nature of things and that had been taught by Holy Mother Church from time immemorial:
7. Since, however, We have spoken fully elsewhere on the Christian education of youth, let Us sum it all up by quoting once more the words of St. Augustine: "As regards the offspring it is provided that they should be begotten lovingly and educated religiously," -- and this is also expressed succinctly in the Code of Canon Law -- "The primary end of marriage is the procreation and the education of children."
18. Nor must We omit to remark, in fine, that since the duty entrusted to parents for the good of their children is of such high dignity and of such great importance, every use of the faculty given by God for the procreation of new life is the right and the privilege of the married state alone, by the law of God and of nature, and must be confined absolutely within the sacred limits of that state. (Pope Pius XI, Casti Connubii, December 31, 1930.)
Pope Pius XI made it clear that the secondary end of marriage, the mutual good of the spouses, was subordinate to the primary end, reiterating the truth that privileges of the married state belong by right to each spouse, neither of whom can deny the marriage right to the other arbitrarily and both of whom are able to exercise this right, or to refrain its exercise, without interfering with its natural end, the conception of a child:
19. The second blessing of matrimony which We said was mentioned by St. Augustine, is the blessing of conjugal honor which consists in the mutual fidelity of the spouses in fulfilling the marriage contract, so that what belongs to one of the parties by reason of this contract sanctioned by divine law, may not be denied to him or permitted to any third person; nor may there be conceded to one of the parties anything which, being contrary to the rights and laws of God and entirely opposed to matrimonial faith, can never be conceded . . . .
59. Holy Church knows well that not infrequently one of the parties is sinned against rather than sinning, when for a grave cause he or she reluctantly allows the perversion of the right order. In such a case, there is no sin, provided that, mindful of the law of charity, he or she does not neglect to seek to dissuade and to deter the partner from sin. Nor are those considered as acting against nature who in the married state use their right in the proper manner although on account of natural reasons either of time or of certain defects, new life cannot be brought forth. For in matrimony as well as in the use of the matrimonial rights there are also secondary ends, such as mutual aid, the cultivating of mutual love, and the quieting of concupiscence which husband and wife are not forbidden to consider so long as they are subordinated to the primary end and so long as the intrinsic nature of the act is preserved. (Pope Pius XI, Casti Connubii, December 31, 1930.)
This is not an endorsement of what is today called "natural family planning," only a reiteration of the plain truth that the marital right, subordinated to its primary end, cannot be denied arbitrarily by one spouse to the other and that it is permissible for married couples to use that right when new life cannot be brought forth. There was no discussion of "family planning" here at all, and none existed in the mind of Pope Pius XI.
Indeed, Pope Pius XI explained that confessors had to go to great lengths to counsel penitents not to surrender themselves to the propaganda in favor of contraception and the contraceptive mentality to which they were being exposed on an almost constant basis:
54. But no reason, however grave, may be put forward by which anything intrinsically against nature may become conformable to nature and morally good. Since, therefore, the conjugal act is destined primarily by nature for the begetting of children, those who in exercising it deliberately frustrate its natural power and purpose sin against nature and commit a deed which is shameful and intrinsically vicious.
55. Small wonder, therefore, if Holy Writ bears witness that the Divine Majesty regards with greatest detestation this horrible crime and at times has punished it with death. As St. Augustine notes, "Intercourse even with one's legitimate wife is unlawful and wicked where the conception of the offspring is prevented. Onan, the son of Juda, did this and the Lord killed him for it."
56. Since, therefore, openly departing from the uninterrupted Christian tradition some recently have judged it possible solemnly to declare another doctrine regarding this question, the Catholic Church, to whom God has entrusted the defense of the integrity and purity of morals, standing erect in the midst of the moral ruin which surrounds her, in order that she may preserve the chastity of the nuptial union from being defiled by this foul stain, raises her voice in token of her divine ambassadorship and through Our mouth proclaims anew: any use whatsoever of matrimony exercised in such a way that the act is deliberately frustrated in its natural power to generate life is an offense against the law of God and of nature, and those who indulge in such are branded with the guilt of a grave sin.
57. We admonish, therefore, priests who hear confessions and others who have the care of souls, in virtue of Our supreme authority and in Our solicitude for the salvation of souls, not to allow the faithful entrusted to them to err regarding this most grave law of God; much more, that they keep themselves immune from such false opinions, in no way conniving in them. If any confessor or pastor of souls, which may God forbid, lead the faithful entrusted to him into these errors or should at least confirm them by approval or by guilty silence, let him be mindful of the fact that he must render a strict account to God, the Supreme Judge, for the betrayal of his sacred trust, and let him take to himself the words of Christ: "They are blind and leaders of the blind: and if the blind lead the blind, both fall into the pit. (Pope Pius XI, Casti Connubii, December 31, 1930. For a fuller treatment of contraception and the evil of so-called “natural family planning,” please see Fifty Years After Humane Vitae).
Even some Protestants themselves once recognized the harm of contraception when it was being promoted by the likes of Margaret Sanger and her fellow eugenicists, up to and including actual Nazis such as Ernst Rudin and after it had received the sanction of the heretical and schismatic Anglican sect at the Lambeth Conference of 1930. This is how The Washington Post editorialized against contraception on March 22, 1931:
The Federal Council of Churches in America some time ago appointed a committee on "marriage and the home," which has now submitted a report favoring a "careful and restrained" use of contraceptive devices to regulate the size of families. The committee seems to have a serious struggle with itself in adhering to Christian doctrine while at the same time indulging in amateurish excursions in the field of economics, legislation, medicine, and sociology. The resulting report is a mixture of religious obscurantism and modernistic materialism which departs from the ancient standards of religion and yet fails to blaze a path toward something better.
The mischief that would result from an attempt to place the stamp of church approval upon any scheme for "regulating the size of families" is evidently quite beyond the comprehension of this pseudo-scientific committee. It is impossible to reconcile the doctrine of the divine institution of marriage with any modernistic plan for the mechanical regulation of human birth. The church must either reject the plain teachings of the Bible or reject schemes for the “scientific” production of human souls. Carried to its logical conclusion, the committee’s report if carried into effect would lead to the death-knell of marriage as a holy institution, by establishing degrading practices which would encourage indiscriminate immorality. The suggestion that the use of legalized contraceptives would be “careful and restrained” is preposterous. If the churches are to become organizations for political and 'scientific' propaganda they should be honest and reject the Bible, scoff at Christ as an obsolete and unscientific teacher, and strike out boldly as champions of politics and science as substitutes for the old-time religion. ("Forgetting Religion," Editorial, The Washington Post, March 22, 1931.)
We live at a time in late-2019 when these predictions have come true, but that they were endorsed by the Anglican sect in 1930 is the result of the revolution wrought by Martin Luther against the Divine Plan that Our Lord Himself instituted to effect man’s return to Him through His Catholic Church.
No, the old “no church is going to tell me that I can’t use contraception” canard cannot be used as an excuse to take refuge in a supposed Christianity without the Cross, a supposed Christianity that permits “believers” do what they want in the false, presumptuous belief that all that is necessary to be “saved” is to profess a false “faith” in Our Lord while separating Him from the Church that He Himself founded on the Rock of Peter, the Pope. As Father Frederick William Faber noted:
“Where there is no Mass,” Father Faber says, “there is no Christianity. Where there is no Christianity, there a Christian can find no pleasure.” (Bishop William Stang, Pastoral Theology, published by Benziger Brothers, Cincinnati, Ohio, and New York, 1897, p. 100.)
True Christianity, Catholicism, demands sacrifices and penances as it is hard work—very hard work—to sanctify and to save our immortal souls in this moral vale of tears where we have not a permanent dwelling. Most of us, save for those who are chosen souls, are the worst enemies of our own sanctification and salvation, and we know that we are lost without the help of Our Lady, she who was conceived without any stain of Original or Actual Sin and is the Gate of Heaven, the Refuge of Sinners, our very Perpetual Help and the Help of Christians.
Although one can certainly understand how the ill-informed and mis-catechized can think that the leftism (see "He Speaks Like A Leftist"), globalism, moral relativism, environmentalism, evolutionism and pantheism of Jorge Mario Bergoglio provided “proofs” of the Catholic Church’s alleged corruption, the fact of the matter is that Bergoglio, who is indeed a walking and talking scandalous and shameless Modernist, is not even a member of the Catholic Church, no less her visible head on earth. Bergoglio is the denouement of a Modernist revolution that came into power with the “election” of Angelo Roncalli as “Pope John XXIII” on October 28, 1958, the Feast of Saints Simon and Jude. He no more represents the Catholic Church than had late Fidel Alejandro Castro Ruz.
Nothing but nothing can shake the faith of a believing Catholic. Nothing.
We know that Holy Mother Church is the only Ark of Salvation, and that, if we are honest with ourselves, we have been responsible all-too-frequently for scandalizing others by our words, deeds and human frailties (perhaps impatience or arrogance or hardness of heart, maybe anger or the use of profanity, the making of rash judgments, etc.). Our sins and weaknesses have thus contributed to the worsening of the state of the world-at-large and of Holy Mother Church in this time of apostasy and betrayal. This is why a believing Catholic knows that he has an obligation to make more sacrifices and to do more penances in reparation for his sins while offering up whatever merit he might earn by doing so to the throne of the Most Blessed Trinity as the consecrated slave of Our Blessed Lord and Saviour Jesus Christ through the Sorrowful and Immaculate Heart of Mary. One thing a believing Catholic can never permit himself to do, though, is to despair of his own salvation and thus stop the practice of the Holy Faith or to be convinced by the adversary to succumb to the sin of Presumption, which was the downfall of Martin Luther and thus of the world from October 31, 1517, to the present time. (See, for example, The Real "Brexit" Occurred In 1534).
On Gaudete Sunday
Writing in The Liturgical Year, Dom Prosper Gueranger, O.S.B., explained that Gaudete Sunday, which we celebrate today, Sunday, December 15, 2019, the Third Sunday of Advent and the Commemoration of the Octave of the Immaculate Conception of the Blessed Virgin Mary, reminds us of the joy that must be ours because we belong to the Catholic Church, she who can make no terms with error:
O holy Roman Church, city of our strength! behold us thy children assembled within thy walls, around the tomb of the fisherman, the prince of the apostles, whose sacred relics protect thee from their earthy shrine, and whose unchanging teaching enlightens thee from heaven. Yet, O city of strength: it is by the Saviour, who is coming that thou art strong. He is they wall, for it is He that encircles, with His tender mercy all thy children; He is thy bulwark, for it is by Him that thou art invincible, and that all the powers of hell are powerless to prevail against thee. Open wide thy gates, that all nations may enter thee; for thou art mistress of holiness and the guardian of truth. May the old error, which sets itself against the faith soon disappear, and peace reign over the whole fold! O holy Roman Church ! thou hast for ever put they trust in the Lord; and He, faithful to His promise, has humbled before thee the haughty ones that defied thee, and the proud cities that were against thee. Where now are the Caesars, who boasted that they had drowned thee in thy own blood ? where the emperors, who would ravish the inviolate virginity of thy faith ? where the heretics, who during the past centuries of thine existence, have assailed every article of thy teaching, and denied what they listed ? where the ungrateful princes, who would fain make a slave of thee, who hadst made them what they were ? where the empire of Mahomet, which has so many times raged against thee, for that thou, the defenceless State, didst arrest the pride of its conquests ? where the more modern sophists in whose philosophy thou was sent down as a system that had been tried, and was a failure, and is not a ruin ? and those kings who are acting the tyrant over thee, and those people that will have liberty independently and at the risk of truth, where they will be another hundred years? Gone and forgotten as the noisy anger of a torrent; whilst thou, O holy Church of Rome, built on the immovable rock, wilt be as calm as young, as unwrinkled as ever. Thy path through the ages of this world’s duration, will be right as that of the just man; thou wilt ever be the same unchanging Church, as thou hast been during the eighteen years past, whist everything else under the sun has been but change. Whence is thy stability, but form Him who is very truth and justice? Glory be to Him in thee! Each year, He visits thee; each year, He brings thee new gifts, wherewith thou mayest go happily through thy pilgrimage; and to the end of time, He will visit thee, and renew thee, not only with the power of that look wherewith Peter was renewed, but by filling thee with Himself, as He did the every glorious Virgin, who is the object of thy most tender love, after that which thou bearest to Jesus Himself. We pray with thee, O Church, our mother, and here is our prayer: ‘Coe, Lord Jesus! Thy name and Thy remembrance are the desire of our souls; they have desired Thee in the night, yea, and early in the morning have they watched for Thee.’ (Dom Prosper Gueranger, O.S.B., The Liturgical Year, Volume I, Advent, pp. 201-202.)
Although Dom Prosper Gueranger did not foresee the fact that even worse sophists and heretics would arise within one hundred years of his death on January 30, 1875, his description of the glories of Catholic Church can be applied to the counterfeit church of concilarism in no manner whatsoever as the latter entity is an embodiment of sophistry and heresy that has made terms with the ancient enemies of Christ the King and all other false religions and false philosophies and social currents. No one, no matter how prominent he may be nor how wealthy he may have become as a result of enterprise and hard work, can claim that the Catholic Church is institutionally corrupt as her Divine Constitution guarantees her a virginal purity as well as the infallible protection of God the Holy Ghost in her Faith, Worship and Morals.
It is far past time for believing Catholics to understand and then to accept the fact that the problem facing us at this time is not a "heretical pope" but a false church that has been headed by heretics from its inception. All that has happened recently is that the heretics have become bolder and more open about their agenda after a steady dose of five decades of fables that have been designed to convince baptized Catholics to hate Catholic truth as opposed to God's "mercy" and to embrace naturalism as the only legitimate foundation of social order.
We need Our Lady's help, especially by means of her Most Holy Rosary, in these troubling times as without the graces she sends us we will be prone to view the world through the eyes of naturalism and not through the supernatural eyes of the Catholic Faith.
May we take solace in these words of Dom Prosper Gueranger about Gaudete Sunday:
There hath stood One in the midst of you, whom you know not, says Saint John the Baptist to them that were sent by the Jews. So that our Lord may be near. He may even have come, and yet by some be not known! This Lamb of God is the holy Precursor’s consolation; he considers it a singular privilege to be but the voice which cries out to them to prepare the way of the Redeemer. In this, St. John a type of the Church, and of all such as seek Jesus. St. John is full of joy because the Savior has come, but the men around him are as indifferent as though they neither expected nor wanted a Savior. This is the third week of Advent; and are all hearts excited by the great tidings told them by the Church, that the Messias is near at hand? They that love Him not as their Savior, do they fear Him as their Judge? Are the crooked ways being made straight, and the hills being brought low? Are Christians seriously engaged in removing from their hearts the love or riches and the love of sensual pleasures? There is no time to lose: The Lord is nigh!" If these lines should come under the eye of any of those Christians who are in this state of sinful indifference, we would conjure them to shake off their lethargy, an render themselves worthy of the visit of the divine Infant; such a visit will bring them the greatest consolation here, and give them confidence hereafter, when our Lord will come to judge all mankind. Send thy grace, O Jesus, still more plentifully into their hearts; ‘compel them to go in,’ and permit not that it be said of the children of the Church, as St. John said of the Synagogue: There standeth in the midst of you One, whom you know not. (Dom Prosper Gueranger, The Liturgical Year, Volume I, Advent, pp. 205-206.)
We need Our Lady's help to make straight the path of her Divine Son into our own souls so that, liberated from the muck and mire of competing sets of naturalists, we may focus on the joy that should be shared by everyone in the world about the fact that He has become Incarnate for us and our salvation and deigned to be born in a lowly estate on Christmas Day.
This is all the more reason to take seriously this week's Ember Days in order that we might make reparation for our sins by offering up our prayers, fasting and sacrifices to the Throne of the Most Blessed Trinity as the consecrated slaves of Our Lord Jesus Christ through the Sorrowful and Immaculate Heart of Mary and by praying as many Rosaries each day as our state-in-life permits.
Viva Cristo Rey!
Viva La Virgen de Guadalupe!
Isn't it time to pray a Rosary now?
Immaculate Heart of Mary, triumph soon!
Our Lady of the Rosary, pray for us.
Saint Joseph, pray for us.
Saints Peter and Paul, pray for us.
Saint John the Baptist, pray for us.
Saint John the Evangelist, pray for us.
Saint Michael the Archangel, pray for us.
Saint Gabriel the Archangel, pray for us.
Saint Raphael the Archangel, pray for us.
Saints Joachim and Anne, pray for us
Saints Caspar, Melchior, and Balthasar, pray for us.
Saint Eusebius, pray for us.
William Cobbett on the Plunder of the Catholic Church and the Rise of Pauperism in England under King Henry VIII
183. If I look at the county of Surrey, in which I myself was born, and behold the devastation of that county, I am filled with indignation against the ruffian devastators. Surrey has very little of natural wealth in it. A very considerable part of it is mere heath-land. Yet this county was, from one end of it to the other, ornamented and benefited by the establishments which grew out of the Catholic Church. At Bermondsey there was an abbey; at St. Mary Overy there was a priory, and this convent founded that very St. Thomas’s Hospital which now exists in Southwark. This hospital also was seized by the ruffians, but the building was afterwards given to the City of London. At Newington there was a hospital, and after its revenues were seized the master obtained a licence to beg! At Merton there was a priory. Then, going across to the Sussex side, there was another priory at Reigate. Coming again near the Thames, and more to the west, there was a priory at Shene. Still more to the west there was an abbey at Chertsey. At Tandridge there was a priory. Near Guildford, at Sende, there was a priory; and at the lower end of the county, at Waverley, in the parish of Farnham, was an abbey. To these belonged cells and chapels at a distance from the convents themselves; so that it would have been a work of some difficulty for a man so to place himself, even in this poor heathy county, at six miles distance from a place where the door of hospitality was always open to the poor, to the aged, the orphan, the widow and the stranger. Can any man now place himself, in that whole county, within any number of miles of any such door? No, nor in any other county. All is wholly changed, and all is changed for the worse. There is now no hospitality in England. Words have changed their meaning. We now give entertainment to those who entertain us in return. We entertain people because we like them personally, and very seldom because they stand in need of entertainment. A hospital, in those days, meant a place of free entertainment, and not a place merely for the lame, the sick, and the blind; and the very sound of the words "Old English Hospitality" ought to raise a blush on every Protestant cheek. But besides this hospitality exercised invariably in the monasteries, the weight of their example was great with all the opulent classes of the community, and thus to be generous and kind was the character of the nation at large; a niggardly, a base, a money-loving disposition could not be in fashion, when those institutions to which all men looked with reverence set an example which condemned such a disposition.
184. And if I am asked why the thirteen monks of Waverley, for instance, should have had And I may go on and ask why anybody should have any property at all? Aye, but they never worked; they did nothing to increase the nation's store. Let us see how this is. They possessed the lands of Waverley, — a few hundred acres of very poor land, with a mill, and perhaps about twenty acres of very indifferent meadow land, on one part of which, sheltered by a semicircle of sand-hills, their abbey stood, the river Wey (about twenty feet wide) running close by the outer wall of the convent.
Besides this they possessed the impropriated tithes of the parish of Farnham, and a pond or two on the commons adjoining. This estate in land belongs to a Mr. Thompson, who lives on the spot, and the estate in tithes to a Mr. Halsey, who lives at a distance from the parish. Now, without any disparagement to these gentlemen, did not the monks work as much as they do? Did not their revenue go to augment the nation's store as much as the rents of Mr. Thompson or the tithes of Mr. Halsey? Aye, and which is of vast importance, the poor of the parish of Farnham, having this monastery to apply to and having for their neighbour a bishop of Winchester who did not sell small beer out of his palace, stood in no need of poor rates, and had never heard the horrid word pauper pronounced. Come, my townsmen of Farnham; you who as well as 1 have, when we were boys, climbed the ivy-covered ruins of this venerable abbey (the first of its order in England; you who as well as I have, when looking at those walls which have outlived the memory of the devastators, bat not the malice of those who still taste the sweets of the devastation; you who, as well as I, have many times wondered what an abbey was, and how and why this one came to be devastated; you shall be the judge in this matter. You know what poor-rates are, and you know what church-rates are. Very well then, there were no poor-rates and no church-rates as long as Waverley Abbey existed and as long as bishops had no wives. This is a fact wholly undeniable. There was no need of either. The Church shared its property with the poor and the stranger, and left the people at large to possess their own earnings; and as to matters of faith and worship, look at that immense heap of earth round the church where your parents and my parents and where our progenitors for twelve hundred years lie buried; then bear in mind that for nine hundred years out of the twelve they were all of the faith and worship of the monks of Waverley, and with that thought in your mind find, if you can, the heart to say that the monks of Waverley, by whose hospitality your fathers and my fathers were for so many ages preserved from bearing the hateful name of pauper, taught an idolatrous and damnable religion.
185. That which took place in Surrey took place in every other county, only to a greater extent in proportion to the greater wealth and resources of the spot. Defacing followed closely upon the heels of confiscation and plunder. If buildings could have been murdered, the tyrant and his plunderers would have made short work of it. As it was they did all they could; they knocked down, they blew up, they annihilated as far as they could. Nothing, indeed, short of diabolical malice was to be expected from such men; but there were two abbeys in England which one might have hoped that even these monsters would have spared, — that which contained the tomb of St. Austin, and that which had been founded by and contained the remains of Alfred. We have seen how they rifled the tomb of St. Austin at Canterbury. They tore down the church and the abbey, and with the materials built a menagerie for wild beasts and a palace for the tyrant himself. The tomb of Alfred was in an abbey at Winchester, founded by that king himself. The abbey and its estates were given by the tyrant to Wriothesley, who was afterwards made Earl of Southampton, and who got a pretty good share of the confiscations in Hampshire. One almost sickens at the thought of a man capable of a deed like the destruction of this abbey. Where is there one amongst us who has read any thing at all who has not read of the fame of Alfred? What book can we open, even for our boyish days, that does not sound his praise? Poets, moralists, divines, historians, philosophers, lawyers, legislators, not only of our own country but of all Europe, have cited him, and still cite him, as a model of virtue, piety, wisdom, valour and patriotism, as possessing every excellence without a single fault. He, in spite of difficulties such as no other human being on record ever encountered, cleared his harassed and half-barbarized country of horde after horde of cruel invaders, who at one time had wholly subdued it and compelled him, in order to escape destruction, to resort to the habit and the life of a herdsman. From this state of depression he, during a not long life, raised himself and his people to the highest point of happiness and of fame. He fought, with his armies and fleets, more than fifty battles against the enemies of England. He taught his people by his example as well as by his precepts, to be sober, industrious, brave and just. He promoted learning in all the sciences; he planted the University of Oxford; to him, and not to a late Scotch lawyer, belongs " Trial by Jury." Blackstone calls him the founder of the Common Law; the counties, the hundreds, the tithings, the courts of justice, were the work of Alfred. He, in fact, was the founder of all those rights, liberties and laws which made England to be what England has been, which gave her a character above that of other nations, which made her rich and great and happy beyond all her neighbours, and which still give her whatever she possesses of that pre-eminence. If there be a name under heaven to which Englishmen ought to bow with reverence approaching towards adoration it is the name of Alfred. And we are not unjust and ungrateful in this respect at any rate, for, whether Catholics or Protestants, where is there an Englishman to be found who would not gladly make a pilgrimage of a thousand miles to take off his hat at the tomb of this maker of the English name ? Alas! that tomb is nowhere to be found. The barbarians spared not even that. It was in the abbey before mentioned, called Hyde Abbey, which had been founded by Alfred himself and intended as the place of his burial. Besides the remains of Alfred this abbey contained those of St. Grimbald, the Benedictine monk, whom Alfred brought into England to begin the teaching at Oxford. But what cared the plunderers for remains of public benefactors? The abbey was knocked down or blown up, the tombs were demolished, the very lead of the coffins was sold," and, which fills one with more indignation than all the rest, the estates were so disposed of as to make the loan-makers, the Barings, at this day the successors of Alfred the Great!
186. Wriothesley got the manors of Micheldever and Stratton, which by marriage came into the hands of the family of Russell ; and from that family, about thirty years ago, they were bought by the Barings, and are now in possession of Sir Thomas Baring. It is curious to observe how this Protestant "Reformation" has worked. If it had not been there would have been no paupers at Micheldever and Stratton, but then the Russells would not have had the estates, and they could not have sold them to the Barings: aye, but then there would have been, too, no national debt as well as no paupers, and there would have been no loan-makers to buy the estates of the Russells. Besides this there would have been no bridewell erected upon the precise spot where the abbey church stood; no tread-mill, perhaps over the very place where the ashes of Alfred lay; and, what is more, there would have been no need of bridewell or tread-mill. It is related of Alfred that he made his people so honest that he could hang bracelets up by the way side without danger of their being touched. Alas! that the descendants of that same people should need a tread-mill! Aye, but in the days of Alfred there were no paupers, no miserable creatures compelled to labour from month's end to month's end without seeing meat, no thousands upon thousands made thieves by that hunger which acknowledges no law, human or divine.
187. Thus then was the country devastated, sacked and defaced; and I should now proceed to give an account of the commencement of that poverty and degradation which were, as I have pledged myself to show, the consequences of this devastation, and which I shall show, not by bare assertion, nor from what are called " Histories of England," but from Acts of Parliament, and from other sources which every one can refer to, and the correctness of which is beyond all dispute. But before we come to this important matter we must see the end of the ruffian "Vice-gerent," and also the end of the tyrant himself, who was, during the events that we have been speaking of, going on marrying and divorcing or killing his wives, but whose career was, after all, not very long.
188. After the death of Jane. Seymour, who was the mother of Edward VI., and who was the only one of all the tyrant's wives who had the good luck to die a queen and to die in her bed ; — after her death, which took place in 1537, he was nearly two years hunting up another wife. None certainly but some very gross and unfeeling woman could be expected to have voluntarily anything to do with a man whose hands were continually steeped in blood. In 1539 he found, however, a mate in Anne, the sister of the Duke of Cleves. When she arrived in England he expressed his dislike of her person ; but he found it prudent to marry her. In 1540, about six or seven months after the marriage, he was divorced from her, not daring in this case to set his myrmidons to work to bring her to the block. There was no lawful pretence for the divorce. The husband did not like his wife; that was all, and this was alleged, too, as the ground of the divorce." Cranmer, who had divorced him from two wives before, put his irons into the fire again for this occasion, and produced in a little time as neat a piece of work as ever had come from the shop of the famous "Reformation." Thus the King and Queen were single people again; but the former had another young and handsome wife in his eye. This lady's name was Catherine Howard, a niece of the Duke of Norfolk. This Duke, as well as most of the old nobility, hated Cromwell, and now was an opportunity of inflicting vengeance on him. Cromwell had been the chief cause of the King's marriage with Anne of Cleves; but the fact is his plundering talent was no longer wanted, and it was convenient to the tyrant to get rid of him.
189. Cromwell had obtained enormous wealth from his several offices, as well as from the plunder of the Church and the poor. He had got about thirty of the estates belonging to the monasteries ; his house, or rather palace, was gorged with the fruits of the sacking; he had been made Earl of Essex; he had precedence over every one but the King; and lie, in fact, represented the King in the Parliament, where he introduced and defended all his confiscating and murdering laws. He had been barbarous beyond all description towards the unfortunate and unoffending monks and nuns ; without such an instrument the plunder never could have been effecte : but he was no longer wanted; the ruffian had already lived too long; the very walls of the devastated convents seemed to call for public vengeance on his head. On the morning of the 10th of June, 1540, he was all-powerful; in the evening of the same day he was in prison as a traitor. He lay in prison only a few days before he had to experience the benefit of his own way of administering justice. He had, as we have seen in the last chapter, invented a way of bringing people to the block or the gallows without giving them any form of trial, without giving them even a hearing, but merely by passing a law to put them to death. This was what he had brought about in the case of the Countess of Salisbury; and this was what was now to fall on his own head. He lived only about forty-eight days after his arrest; not half long enough to enable him to expiate, barely to enumerate, the robberies and murders committed under his orders. His time seems, however, to have been spent, not in praying God to forgive him for these robberies and murders, but in praying to the tyrant to spare his life. Perhaps of all the mean and dastardly wretches that ever died, this was the most mean and dastardly. He who had been the most insolent and cruel of ruffians when he had power, was now the most disgustingly slavish and base. He had, in fact, committed no crime against the King ; though charged with heresy and treason, he was no more a heretic than the King was, and as to the charge of treason there was not a shadow of foundation for it. But he was just as guilty of treason as the abbots of Reading, Colchester and Glastonbury, all of whom and many more he had been the chief instrument in putting to death. He put them to death in order to get possession of their property; and I dare say to get at his property, to get the plunder back from him, was one of the motives for bringing him to the block. This very ruffian had superintended the digging up of the ashes of Thomas a Becket and scattering them in the air; and now the people who had witnessed that had to witness the letting of the blood out of his dirty body, to run upon the pavement to be licked up by hogs or dogs. The cowardly creature seems to have had, from the moment of his arrest, no thought about anything but saving his life. He wrote repeatedly to the King in the hope of getting pardoned, but all to no purpose: he had done what was wanted of him, the work of plunder was nearly over, he had, too, got a large share of the plunder which it was not convenient to leave in his hands; and therefore, upon true "Reformation" principles, it was time to take away his life. He in his letters to the King most vehemently protested his innocence. Aye, no doubt of that; but he was not more innocent than were the butchered abbots and monks, he was not more innocent than any one out of those thousands upon thousands whom he had quartered, hanged, burned, or plundered; and amongst all those thousands upon thousands there never was seen one, female or male, so complete a dastard as himself. In these letters to the tyrant he fawned on him in the most disgusting manner; compared his smiles and frowns to those of God; besought him to suffer him to kiss his balmy hand once more that the fragrance thereof might make him fit for heaven! "The base creature deserved his death, if it had only been for writing these letters. Fox, the "martyr" man, calls this Cromwell the “valiant soldier of the Reformation." Yes, there have been few soldiers to understand sacking better; he was full of valour on foraging parties, and when he had to rifle monks and nuns and to rob altars; a brave fellow when he had to stretch monks and nuns on the rack to make them confess treasonable words or thought ; but when death began to stare him in the face he was, assuredly, the most cowardly caitiff that ever died. It is hardly necessary to say that this man is a great favourite of Hume, who deeply laments Cromwell's fate, though he has not a word of compassion to bestow upon all the thousands that had been murdered or ruined by him. He, as well as other historians, quotes from the conclusion of one of Cromwell's letters to the King these abject expressions: " I, a most woful prisoner, am ready to submit to death when it shall please God and your Majesty; and yet the frail flesh incites me to call to your grace for mercy and pardon of mine offences. — Written at the Tower with the heavy heart and trembling hand of your Highness's most miserable prisoner and poor slave, Thomas Cromwell. Most gracious prince, I cry for mercy, mercy, mercy" That is the language of Fox's "valiant soldier." Fox meant valiant, not in the field or on the scaffold, but in the convent, pulling the rings from women's fingers and tearing the gold clasps from books: that was the Protestant valour of the “Reformation." Hume says that Cromwell " deserved a better fate." Never was fate more just or more appropriate. He had been the willing, the officious, the zealous, the eager agent in the execution of all the tyrannical, sacrilegious, and bloody deeds of his master, and had amongst other things been the very man who first suggested the condemning of people to death without trial. What could be more just than that he should die in the same way? Not a tear was shed at his death, which produced on the spectators an effect such as is produced when the foulest of murderers expiate their crimes on the gallows.
190. During the seven years that the tyrant himself survived this his cruel and dastardly vice-gerent, he was beset with disappointments, vexations, and torments of all sorts. He discovered at the end of a few months that his new queen had been, and still was, much such another as Anne Boleyn. He with very little ceremony sent her to the block, together with a whole posse of her relations, lovers, and cronies. He raged and foamed like a wild beast, passed laws most bloody to protect himself against lewdness and infidelity in his future wives, and got for his pains the ridicule of the nation and of all Europe. He for the last time took another wife; but this time none would face his laws but a widow, and she very narrowly escaped the fate of the rest. He for some years before he died became, from his gluttony and debaucheries, an unwieldy and disgusting mass of flesh, moved about by means of mechanical inventions. But still he retained all the ferocity and bloody-mindedness of his former days. The principal business of his life was the ordering of accusations, executions, and confiscations. When on his death-bed every one was afraid to intimate his danger to him, lest death to the intimator should be the consequence; and he died before he was well aware of his condition, leaving more than one death-warrant unsigned for want of time.
191. Thus expired, in the year 1547, in the fifty-sixth year of his age and the thirty-eighth year of his reign, the most unjust, hard-hearted, meanest "and most sanguinary tyrant that the world had ever beheld, whether Christian or heathen. That England which he found in peace, unity, plenty and happiness, he left torn by factions and schisms, her people wandering about in beggary and misery. He laid the foundations of immorality, dishonesty and pauperism, all which produced an abundant harvest in the reigns of his unhappy, barren, mischievous and miserable children, with whom, at the end of a few years, his house and his name were extinguished for ever. How he disposed of the plunder of the Church and the poor; how his successors completed that work of confiscation which he had carried on so long ; how the nation sunk in point of character and of wealth ; how pauperism first arose in England ; and how were sown the seeds of that system of which we now behold the effects in the impoverishment and degradation of the main body of the people of England and Ireland ; all these will be shown in the next chapter, and shown, I trust, in a manner which will leave in the mind of every man of sense no doubt that, of all the scourges that ever afflicted this country, none is to be put in comparison with the Protestant Reformation.
192. Having shown that the thing impudently called the “Reformation” was begun in hypocrisy and perfidy, and cherished and fed by plunder, devastation, and by rivers of innocent English and Irish blood, I intended to show in the present chapter how the main body of the people were by these doings impoverished and degraded up to this time; that is to say, I intended to trace the impoverishment and degradation down to the end of the reign of the tyrant, Henry VIII. But upon reviewing my matter I think it best first to go through the whole of my account of the plunderings, persecutings and murderings of the "Reformation" peopl ; and when we have seen all the robberies and barbarities that they committed under the hypocritical pretence of religious zeal, or rather, when we have seen such of those robberies and barbarities as we can find room for, then I shall conclude with showing how enormously the nation lost by the change, and how that change made the main part of the people poor and wretched and degraded. By pursuing this plan I shall in one concluding chapter give, or at least endeavour to give, a clear and satisfactory history of this impoverishment. I shall take the present Protestant labourer and show him how his Catholic forefathers lived and if cold potatoes and water, if this poorer than pig-diet, have not quite taken away all the natural qualities of English blood, I shall make him execrate the plunderers and hypocrites by whom was produced that change which has finally led to his present misery and to nine-tenths of that mass of corruption and crime, public and private, which now threatens to uproot society itself.
193. In pursuance of this plan, and in conformity with my promise to conclude my little work in ten chapters, I shall distribute my matter thus: — in chapter VII. (the present) the deeds and events of the reign of Edward VI. In chapter VIII., those of the reign of Queen Mary. In chapter IX., those of the reign of Queen Elizabeth; and in chapter X., the facts and arguments to establish my main point, namely, that the thing impudently called the “Reformation” impoverished and degraded the main body of the people. In the course of the first three of these chapters I shall not touch, except incidentally, upon the impoverishing and degrading effects of the change, but shall reserve these for the last chapters, when, having witnessed the horrid means, we will take an undivided view of the consequences, tracing those consequences down to the present day.
194. One of Henry's last acts was a will by which he made his infant son his immediate successor, with remainder, in case he died without issue, to his daughter Mary first, and then in default of issue again, to his daughter Elizabeth, though, observe, both the daughters had been declared illegitimate by Act of Parliament, and though the latter was born of Anne Boleyn while the king's first wife, the mother of Mary, was alive. Parliament had given the king the right to determine the succession by will.
195. To carry this will into execution, and to govern the kingdom until Edward, who was then ten years of age, should be eighteen years of age, there were sixteen executors appointed, amongst whom was Seymour, Earl of Hertford, and the "honest Cranmer." These sixteen worthies began by taking, in the most solemn manner, an oath to stand to and maintain the last will of their master. Their second act was to break that oath by making Hertford, who was a brother of Jane Seymour, the King's mother, "protector," though the will gave equal powers to all the executors. Their next step was to give new peerages to some of themselves. The fourth, to award to the new peers grants of the public money. The fifth was to lay aside at the coronation the ancient English custom of asking the people if they were willing to have and obey the King. The sixth was "to attend at a solemn high mass.” And the seventh was to begin a series of acts for the total subversion of all that remained of the Catholic religion in England, and for the effecting of all that Old Harry had left uneffected in the way of plunder.
196. The monasteries were gone; the cream had been taken off; but there remained the skimmed milk of church altars, chantries and guilds. Old Harry would doubtless, if he had lived much longer, have plundered these; but he had not done it, and he could not do it without openly becoming Protestant, which, for the reasons stated in paragraph 101, he would not do. But Hertford and his fifteen brother worthies had in their way no such obstacle as the ruffian king had had. The church altars, the chantries and the guilds contained something valuable, and they longed to be at it. The power of the Pope was gotten rid of, the country had been sacked, the poor had been despoiled; but still there were some pickings left. The piety of ages had made every church, however small, contain some gold and silver appertaining to the altar. The altars in the parish churches, and generally in the cathedrals, had been left as yet untouched; for though the wife-killer had abjured the Pope, whose power he had taken to himself, he still professed to be of the Catholic faith, and he maintained the mass and the sacraments and creeds with fire and faggot. Therefore he had left the church altars unplundered. But they contained gold, silver, and other valuables, and the worthies saw these with longing eyes and itching fingers.
197. To seize them, however, there required a pretext, and what pretext could there be short of declaring at once that the Catholic religion was false and wicked, and, of course, that there ought to be no altars, and, of course, no gold and silver things appertaining to them! The sixteen worthies, with Hertford at their head and with Cranmer amongst them, had had the King crowned as a Catholic, he as well as they had taken the oaths as Catholics, they had sworn to uphold that religion, they had taken him to a high mass after his coronation:' but the altars had good things about them there was plunder remaining, and to get at this remaining plunder the Catholic religion must be wholly put down. There were doubtless some fanatics, some who imagined that the religion of nine hundred years' standing ought not to be changed, some who had not plunder and plunder only in view; but it is impossible for any man of common sense, of unperverted mind, to look at the history of this transaction, at this open avowal of Protestantism, at this change from the religion of England to that of a part of Germany, without being convinced that the principal authors of it had plunder and plunder only in view.
198. The old tyrant died in 1547, and by the end of 1549 Cranmer, who had tied so many Protestants to the stake for not being Catholics, had pretty nearly completed a system of Protestant worship. He first prepared a book of homilies and a catechism, in order to pave the way. Next came a law to allow the clergy to have wives, and then, when all things had been prepared, came the Book of Common Prayer and Administration of the Sacraments .Gardiner, who was Bishop of Winchester, reproached Cranmer with his duplicity, reminded him of the zeal with which he had upheld the Catholic worship under the late king, and would have made him hang himself or cut his throat if he had had the slightest remains of shame in him.
199. This new system did not, however, go far enough for the fanatics, and there instantly appeared arrayed against it whole tribes of new lights on the Continent; so that Cranmer, cunning as he was, soon found that he had undertaken no easy matter. The proclamations put forth upon this occasion were disgustingly ridiculous, coming as they did in the name of a king only ten years of age, and expressed in words so solemnly pompous and full of arrogance. However, the chief object was the plunder, and to get at this nothing was spared. There were other things to attract the grasp, but it will be unnecessary to dwell very particularly on anything but the altars and the churches. This was the real " reformation reign," for it was a reign of robbery and hypocrisy without anything to be compared with them, — anything in any country or in any age. Religion, conscience, was always the pretext; but in one way or another robbery, plunder, was always the end. The people, once so united and so happy, became divided into innumerable sects, no man knowing hardly what to believe, and, indeed, no one knowing what it was lawful for him to say, for it soon became impossible for the common people to know what was heresy and what was not heresy.
200. That prince of hypocrites, Cranmer, who, during the reign of Henry had condemned people to the flames for not believing in transubstantiation, was now ready to condemn them for believing in it. We have seen that Luther was the beginner of the work of "reformation," but he was soon followed by further reformers on the Continent. These had made many attempts to propagate their doctrines in England, but old Henry had kept them down. Now, however, when the churches were to be robbed of what remained in them, and when, to have pretext for that robbery, it was necessary to make a complete change in the form of worship, these sectarians all flocked to England, which became one great scene of religious disputation. Some were for the Common Prayer-Book, others proposed alterations in it, others were for abolishing it altogether; and there now began that division, that multiplicity of hostile opinions, which has continued to the present day. Cranmer employed a part of the resources of the country to feed and fatten those of these religious, or rather impious, adventurers who sided with him and who chose the best market for their doctrines. England was overrun by these foreign traders in religion, and this nation, so jealous of foreign influence, was now compelled to bend its haughty neck, not only to foreigners but to foreigners of the most base and infamous character and description. Cranmer could not find Englishmen sufficiently supple to be his tools in executing the work that he had in hand. The Protector, Hertford, whom we must now call Somerset (the child-king having made him Duke of Somerset), was the greatest of all “reformers” that had yet appeared in the world, and, as we shall soon see, the greatest and most audacious of all the plunderers that this infamous reformation has produced, save and except Henry himself. The total abolition of the Catholic worship was necessary to his projects of plunder, and therefore he was a great encourager of these greedy and villainous foreigners.
201. The consequences to the morals of the people were such as were naturally to be expected. All historians agree that vice of all sorts and crimes of every kind were never so great and so numerous before. This was confessed by the teachers themselves, and yet the Protestants have extolled this reign as the reign of conscience and religion! It was so manifest that the change was a bad one, that men could not have proceeded in it from error. Its mischiefs were all manifest before the death of the tyrant; that death afforded an opportunity for returning into the right path, but there was plunder remaining, and the plunderers went on. The “Reformation” was not the work of virtue, of fanaticism, of error, of ambition, but of a love of plunder. This was its great animating principle; in this it began, and in this it proceeded till there was nothing left for it to work on.
202. Henry had, in certain cases, enabled his minions to rob the bishoprics, but now there was a grand sweep at them. The Protector took the lead, and his example was followed by others. They took so much from one, so much from another, and some they wholly suppressed, as that of Westminster, and took their estates to themselves. There were many chantries (private property to all intents and purposes), free chapels (also private property), almshouses, hospitals, guilds or fraternities, the property of which was as much private property as the funds of any plunder. And yet there are men who pretend that what is now possessed by the Established Church is of so sacred
a nature as not to be touched by Act of Parliament! This was the reign in which this our present Established Church was founded, for though the fabric was overset by Mary it was raised again by Elizabeth. Now it was that it was made. It was made, and the new worship along with it, by Acts of Parliament. It had its very birth in division, disunion, discord, and its life has been worthy of its birth. The property it possesses was taken nominally from the Catholic Church, but in reality from that Church, and also from the widow, the orphan, the indigent and the stranger. The pretext for making it was that it would cause a union of sentiment amongst the people, that it would compose all dissensions. The truth, the obvious truth, that there could be but one true religion, was acknowledged and loudly proclaimed, and it was not to be denied that there were already twenty, the teachers of every one of which declared that all the others were false, and, of course, that they were, at the very least, no better than no religion at all. Indeed, this is the language of common sense, though it is now so fashionable to disclaim the doctrine of exclusive salvation.
I ask the Unitarian parson or prater, for instance, why he takes upon him that office; why he does not go and follow some trade, or why he does not work in the fields. His answer is that he is more usefully employed in teaching. If I ask of what use his teaching is, he tells me, he must tell me, that his teaching is necessary to the salvation of souls. Well, say I, but why not leave that business to the Established Church, to which the people all pay tithes? Oh no, says he, I cannot do that, because the Church does not teach the true religion. Well, say I, but true or false, if it serve for salvation, what signifies it? Here I have him penned up in a corner. He is compelled to confess that he is a fellow wanting to lead an easy life by pandering to the passions or whims of conceited persons, or to insist that his sort of belief and teaching are absolutely necessary to salvation; as he will not confess the former he is obliged to insist on the latter, and here, after all his railing against the intolerance of the Catholics, he maintains the doctrine of exclusive salvation.
203. Two true religions, two true creeds, differing from each other, contradicting each other, present us with an impossibility; what then are we to think of twenty or forty creeds, each differing from all the rest? If deism or atheism be something not only wicked in itself, but so mischievous in its effects as to call — in case of the public profession of it — for imprisonment for years and years, if this be the case, what are we to think of laws, the same laws too which inflict that cruel punishment, tolerating and encouraging a multiplicity of creeds, all but one of which must be false? A code of laws acknowledging and tolerating but one religion is consistent in punishing the deist and the atheist, but if it acknowledge or tolerate more than one it acknowledges or tolerates one false one, and let divines say whether a false religion is not as bad as deism or atheism? Besides, is it just to punish the deist or the atheist for not believing in the Christian religion at all, when he sees the law tolerate so many religions, all but one of which must be false? What is the natural effect of men seeing constantly before their eyes a score or two of different sects, all calling themselves Christians, all tolerated by the law, and each openly declaring that all the rest are false? The natural, the necessary effect is, that many men will believe that none of them have truth on their side, and of course that the thing is false altogether, and invented solely for the benefit of those who teach it and who dispute about it.
204. The law should acknowledge and tolerate but one religion, or it should know nothing at all about the matter. The Catholic code was consistent. It said that there was but one true religion, and it punished as offenders those who dared openly to profess any opinion contrary to that religion. Whether that were the true religion or not we have not now to inquire; but while its long continuance —and in so many nations too — was a strong presumptive proof of its good moral effects upon the people, the disagreement amongst the Protestants was and is a presumptive proof not less strong of its truth. If, as I observed upon a former occasion, there be forty persons who — and whose fathers for countless generations — have up to this day entertained a certain belief, and if thirty-nine of these say at last that this belief is erroneous, we may naturally enough suppose, or at least we may think it possible, that the truth so long hidden is, though late, come to light. But if the thirty-nine begin, aye, and instantly begin, to entertain, instead of the one old belief, thirty-nine new beliefs, each differing from all the other thirty-eight, must we not in common justice decide that the old belief must have been the true one? What! shall we hear these thirty-nine protestors against the ancient faith each protesting against all the other thirty-eight, and still believe that their joint protest was just? Thirty-eight of them must now be in error; this must be: and are we still to believe in the correctness of their former decision, and that, too, relating to the same identical matter? If in a trial relating to the dimensions of a piece of land, which had been proved to have always been, time without mind, taken for twenty acres, there were one surveyor to swear that it contained twenty acres, and each of thirty-nine other surveyors to swear each of the other number of acres between one and forty, what judge and jury would hesitate a moment in crediting him who swore to the twenty, and in wholly rejecting the testimony of all the rest?
205. Thus the argument would stand on the supposition that thirty-nine parts out of forty of all Christendom had protest; but there were not, and there are not even unto this day, two parts out of fifty. So that here we have thirty-nine persons breaking off from about two thousand, protesting against the faith which the whole, and their fathers, have held; we have each of these thirty-nine instantly protesting that all the other thirty-eight have protested upon false grounds; and yet we are to believe that their joint protest against the faith of the two thousand, who are backed by all antiquity, was wise and just ! Is this the way in which we decide in other cases? Did honest men, and men not blinded by passion or by some base motive, ever decide thus before? Besides, if the Catholic faith were so false as it is by some pretended to be, how comes it not to have been extirpated before now? When, indeed, the Pope had very great power, when even kings were compelled to bend to him, it might be said, and pretty fairly said, that no one dared use the weapons of reason against the Catholic faith. But we have seen the Pope is prisoner in a foreign land; we have seen him without scarcely food and raiment; and we have seen the press of more than half the world at liberty to treat him and his faith as it pleased to treat them. But have we not seen the Protestant sects at work for three hundred years to destroy the Catholic faith? Do we not see, at the end of those three hundred years, that that faith is still the reigning faith of Christendom? Nay, do we not see that it is gaining ground at this very moment, even in this kingdom itself, where a Protestant hierarchy receives eight millions sterling a year, and where Catholics were rigidly excluded from all honour and power and, in some cases, from all political and civil rights under a constitution founded by their Catholic ancestors? Can it be then that this faith is false? Can it be that this worship is idolatrous? Can it be that it was necessary to abolish them in England as far as law could do it? Can it be that it was for our good, our honour, to sack our country, to violate all the rights of property, to deluge the country with blood, in order to change our religion?
206. But in returning now to the works of the plunderers, we ought to remark that, in discussions of this sort, it is a common but a very great error to keep our eyes so exclusively fixed on mere matters of religion. The Catholic Church included in it a great deal more than the business of teaching religion and of practising worship and administering sacraments. It had a great deal to do with the temporal concerns of the people. It provided, and amply provided, for all the wants of the poor and distressed. It received back, in many instances, what the miser and extortioner had taken unfairly, and applied it to works of beneficence. It contained a great body of land proprietors whose revenues were distributed in various ways amongst the people at large, upon terms always singularly advantageous to the latter. It was a great and powerful estate, independent both of the aristocracy and the crown, and naturally siding with the people. But above all things, it was a provider for the poor and a keeper of hospitality. By its charity and by its benevolence towards its tenants and dependents, it mitigated the rigour of proprietorship, and held society together by the ties of religion rather than by the trammels and terrors of the law. It was the great cause of that description of tenants called life-holders, who formed a most important link in the chain of society, coming after the proprietors in fee and before the tenant at will, participating, in some degree, of the proprietorship of the estate, and yet, not wholly without dependence on the proprietor." This race of persons, formerly so numerous in England, has by degrees become almost wholly extinct, their place having been supplied by a comparatively few rack-renters and by swarms of miserable paupers. The Catholic Church held the lending of money for interest, or gain, to be directly in the face of the Gospel. It considered all such gain as usurious and, of course, criminal. It taught the making of loans without interest; and thus it prevented the greedy-minded from amassing wealth in that way in which wealth is most easily amassed. Usury amongst Christians was wholly unknown, until the wife-killing tyrant had laid his hands on the property of the Church and the poor. The principles of the Catholic Church all partook of generosity; it was their great characteristic, as selfishness is the characteristic of that Church which was established in its stead.
207. The plunder which remained after the seizure of the monasteries was comparatively small; but still, the very leavings of the old tyranny, the mere gleanings of the harvest of plunder, were something; and these were not suffered to remain. The plunder of the churches, parochial as well as collegiate, was preceded by all sorts of antics played in those churches. Calvin had got an influence opposed to that of Cranmer; so that there was almost open war amongst these Protestants, which party should have the teaching of the people. After due preparation in this way, the robbery was set about in due form. Every church altar had, as I have before observed, more or less of gold and silver. A part consisted of images, a part of censers, candlesticks, and other things used in the celebration of the mass. The mass was, therefore, abolished, and there was no longer to be an altar, but a table in its stead. The fanatical part of the reformers amused themselves with quarrelling about the part of the church where the table was to stand, about the shape of it, and whether the head of it was to be placed to the north, the east, the west, or the south, and whether the people were to stand, kneel, or sit at it! The plunderers, however, thought about other things: they thought about the value of the images, censers, and the like.
208. To reconcile the people to these innovations the plunderers had a Bible contrived for the purpose, which Bible was a perversion of the original text wherever it was found to be necessary. Of all the acts of this hypocritical and plundering reign this was, perhaps, the basest. In it we see the true character of the heroes of the " Protestant Reformation"; and the poor and miserable labourers of England, who now live upon potatoes and water, feel the consequences of the deeds of the infamous times of which I am speaking. Every preparation being made the robbery began, and a general plunder of churches took place by royal and parliamentary authority! The robbers took away everything valuable, even down to the vestments of the priests. Such mean rapacity never was heard of before, and for the honour of human nature let us hope that it will never be heard of again. It seems that England was really become a den of thieves, and of thieves, too, of the lowest and most despicable character.
209. The Protector, Somerset, did not forget himself. Having plundered four or five of the bishoprics he needed a palace in London. For the purpose of building this palace, which was erected in the Strand, London, and which was called Somerset House," as the place is called to this day, he took from three bishops their town houses. He pulled these down, together with a parish church, in order to get a suitable spot for the erection. The materials of these demolished buildings being insufficient for his purpose, he pulled down a part of the buildings appertaining to the then cathedral of Saint Paul; the church of Saint John, near Smithfield; Barking chapel, near the Tower; the college church of Saint Martin-le-Grand; St. Ewen's church, Newgate; and the parish church of Saint Nicholas. He, besides these, ordered the pulling down of the parish church of Saint Margaret, Westminster; but, says Dr. Heylyn, “the workmen had no sooner advanced their scaffolds when the parishioners gathered together in great multitudes with bows and arrows and staves and clubs, which so terrified the workmen that they ran away in great amazement, and never could be brought again upon that employment." Thus arose Somerset House, the present grand seat of the power of fiscal grasping. It was first erected literally with the ruins of churches, and it now serves, under its old name, as the place from which issue the mandates to us to give up the fruit of our earnings to pay the interest of a debt which is one of the evident and great consequences of the " Protestant Reformation," without which that debt never could have existed.
210. I am, in the last chapter, to give an account of the impoverishment and degradation that these and former Protestant proceedings produced amongst the people at large; but I must here notice that the people heartily detested these Protestant tyrants and their acts. General discontent prevailed, and this, in some cases, broke out into open insurrection. It is curious enough to observe the excuses that Hume, in giving an account of these times, attempts to make for the plunderers and their "reformation." It was his constant aim to blacken the Catholic institutions, and particularly the character and conduct of the Catholic clergy. Yet he could not pass over these discontents and risings of the people; and, as there must have been a cause for these, he is under the necessity of ascribing them to the badness of the change, or to find out some other cause. He therefore goes to work in a very elaborate manner to make his readers believe that the people were in error as to the tendency of the change. He says that " scarce any institution can be imagined less favourable, in the main, to the interests of mankind," than that of the Catholic; yet, says he, "as it was followed by many good effects, which had ceased with the suppression of the monasteries, that suppression was very much regretted by the people." He then proceeds to describe the many benefits of the monastic institutions; says that the monks, always residing on their estates, caused a diffusion of good constantly around them; that, "not having equal motives to avarice with other men, they were the best and most indulgent landlords"; that, when the church lands became private property, the rents were raised, the money spent at a distance from the estates, and the tenants exposed to the rapacity of stewards; that whole estates were laid waste; that the tenants were expelled, and that even the cottagers were deprived of the commons on which they formerly fed their cattle; that a great decay of the people, as well as a diminution of former plenty, was remarked in the kingdom; that at the same time the coin had been debased by Henry, and was now further debased; that the good coin was hoarded or exported; that the common people were thus robbed of part of their wages; that "complaints were heard in every part of the kingdom." (William Cobbett, A History of the Protestant Reformation in England and Ireland, written between 1824 and 1827 and published by Benziger Brothers, pp. 137-167.)
William Cobbett On the Just Punishment of Heretics by Queen Mary
247. As a preliminary to the punishment of heretics, there was an Act of Parliament passed in December, 1554 (a year and a half after the Queen came to the throne), to restore the ancient statutes relative to heresy. These statutes were first passed against the Lollards in the reigns of Richard II. and Henry IV., and they provided that heretics who were obstinate should be burnt. These statutes were altered in the reign of Henry VIII. in order that he might get the property of heretics, and in that of Edward they were repealed; not out of mercy, however, but because heresy was, according to those statutes, to promulgate opinions contrary to the Catholic faith, and this did, of course, not suit the state of things under the new Church "as by law established." Therefore it was then held that heresy was punishable by common law, and that, in case of obstinacy, heretics might be burnt; and accordingly many were punished and some burnt in that reign by process at common law; and these were, too, Protestants dissenting from Cranmer’s Church, who himself condemned them to the flames. Now, however, the Catholic religion being again the religion of the country, it was thought necessary to return to ancient statutes, which accordingly were re-enacted. That which had been the law during seven reigns, comprising nearly two centuries, and some of which reigns had been amongst the most glorious and most happy that England had ever known, one of the kings having won the title of King of France, and another of them having actually been crowned at Paris; that which had been the law for so long a period was now the law again, so that here was nothing new at any rate. And observe, though these statutes were again repealed when Elizabeth's policy induced her to be a Protestant, she enacted others to supply their place, and that both she and her successor, Tames I., burnt heretics; though they had, as we shall see, a much more expeditious and less noisy way of putting out of the world those who still had the constancy to adhere to the religion of their fathers.
248. The laws being passed were not likely to remain a dead letter. They were put in execution chiefly in consequence of condemnations in the spiritual court by Bonner, Bishop of London. The punishment was inflicted in the usual manner, dragging to the place of execution and then burning to death, the sufferer being tied to a stake in the midst of a pile of faggots, which, when set on fire, consumed him. Bishop Gardiner, the Chancellor, has been by Protestant writers charged with being the adviser of this measure. I can find no ground for this charge, while all agree that Pole, who was now become Archbishop of Canterbury in the place of Cranmer, disapproved of it. It is also undeniable that a Spanish friar, the confessor of Philip, preaching before the Queen, expressed his disapprobation of it. Now, as the Queen was much more likely to be influenced, if at all, by Pole, and especially by Philip, than by Gardiner, the fair presumption is that it was her own measure. And as to Bonner, on whom so much blame has been thrown on this account, he had indeed been most cruelly used by Cranmer and his Protestants, but there was the council continually accusing all the bishops (and he more than any of the rest) of being too slow in the performance of this part of their duty. Indeed, it is manifest that in this respect the council spoke the almost then universal sentiment; for though the French ceased not to hatch rebellions against the Queen, none of the grounds of the rebels ever were that she punished heretics. Their complaints related almost solely to the connection with Spain, and never to the "flames of Smithfield," though we of later times have been made to believe that nothing else was thought of; but the fact is, the persons put to death were chiefly of very infamous character, many of them foreigners, almost the whole of them residing in London and called in derision by the people at large the "London Gospellers." Doubtless, out of two hundred and seventy-seven persons (the number stated by Hume on authority of Fox) who were thus punished, some may have been real martyrs to their opinions, and have been sincere and virtuous persons, but in this number of two hundred and seventy-seven many were convicted felons, some clearly traitors, as Ridley and Cranmer. These must be taken from the number ; and we may surely take such as were alive when Fox first published his book, and who expressly begged to decline the honour of being enrolled amongst its " Martyrs." As a proof of Fox's total disregard of truth, there was in the next reign a Protestant parson, as Anthony Wood (a Protestant) tells us, who in a sermon related, on authority of Fox, that a Catholic of the name of Grimwood had been, as Fox said, a great enemy of the Gospellers, had been " punished by a judgment of God," and that "his bowels fell out of his body." Grimwood was not only alive at the time when the sermon was preached, but happened to be present in the church to hear it, and he brought an action of defamation against the preacher! Another instance of Fox's falseness relates to the death of Bishop Gardiner. Fox and Burnet, and other vile calumniators of the acts and actors in Queen Mary's reign, say that Gardiner, on the day of the execution of Latimer and Ridley, kept dinner waiting till the news of their suffering should arrive, and that the Duke of Norfolk, who was to dine with him, expressed great chagrin at the delay; that when the news came, "transported with joy" they sat down to table, where Gardiner was suddenly seized with the disury, and died in horrible torments in a fortnight afterwards. Now Latimer and Ridley were put to death on the 16th of October, and Collier, in his Ecclesiastical History, p. 386, states that Gardiner opened the Parliament on the 21st of October, that he attended in Parliament twice afterwards, that he died on the 12th of November of the gout, and not of disury, and that as to the Duke of Norfolk, he had been dead a year when this event took place! What a hypocrite, then, must that man be who pretends to believe in this Fox! Yet this infamous book has, by the arts of the plunderers and their descendants, been circulated to a boundless extent amongst the people of England, who have been taught to look upon all the thieves, felons and traitors whom Fox calls " Martyrs," as sufferers resembling St. Stephen, St. Peter and St. Paul!
249. The real truth about these Martyrs" is that they were generally a set of most wicked wretches, who sought to destroy the Queen and her government, and, under the pretence of conscience and superior piety, to obtain the means of again preying upon the people. No mild means could reclaim them; those means had been tried: the Queen had to employ vigorous means, or to suffer her people to continue to be torn by the religious factions, created not by her but by her two immediate predecessors, who had been aided and abetted by many of those who now were punished, and who were worthy of ten thousand deaths each if ten thousand deaths could have been endured. They were, without a single exception, apostates, perjurers, or plunderers ; and the greater part of them had also been guilty of flagrant high treason against Mary herself, who had spared their lives, but whose lenity they had requited by every effort within their power to overset her authority and her government. To make particular mention of all the ruffians that perished upon this occasion would be a task as irksome as it would be useless; but there were amongst them three of Cramer's bishops and himself! For now justice at last overtook this most mischievous of all villains, who had justly to go to the same stake that he had unjustly caused so many others to be tied to; the three others were Hooper, Latimer and Ridley, each of whom was, indeed, inferior in villainy to Cranmer, but to few other men that have ever existed.
250. Hooper was a monk; he broke his vow of celibacy and married a Flandrican; he, being the ready tool of the Protector Somerset, whom he greatly aided in his plunder of the churches, got two bishoprics, though he himself had written against pluralities. He was a co-operator in all the monstrous cruelties inflicted on the people during the reign of Edward, and was particularly active in recommending the use of German troops to bend the necks of the English to the Protestant yoke. Latimer began his career, not only as a Catholic priest, but as a most furious assailant of the Reformation religion. By this he obtained from Henry VIII. the bishopric of Worcester. He next changed his opinions, but he did not give up his Catholic bishopric! Being suspected, he made abjuration of Protestantism; he thus kept his bishopric for twenty years while he inwardly reprobated the principles of the Church, and which bishopric he held in virtue of an oath to oppose to the utmost of his power all dissenters from the Catholic Church. In the reigns of Henry and Edward he sent to the stake Catholics and Protestants for holding opinions which he himself had before held openly, or that he held secretly at the time of his so sending them. Lastly, he was a chief tool in the hands of the tyrannical Protector Somerset in that black and unnatural act of bringing his brother, Lord Thomas Somerset, to the block. Ridley had been a Catholic bishop in the reign of Henry VIII., when he sent to the stake Catholics who denied the king's supremacy and Protestants who denied transubstantiation. In Edward's reign he was a Protestant bishop, and denied transubstantiation himself. He in Edward's reign got the bishopric of London by a most roguish agreement to transfer the greater part of its possessions to the rapacious ministers and courtiers of that day. Lastly, he was guilty of high treason against the Queen, in openly (as we have seen in paragraph 220) and from the pulpit exhorting the people to stand by the usurper, Lady Jane, and thus endeavouring to produce civil war and the death of his sovereign, in order that he might by treason be enabled to keep that bishopric which he had obtained by simony including perjury.
251. A pretty trio of Protestant "saints;" quite worthy, however, of Martin Luther, who says in his own works that it was by the arguments of the devil (who, he says, frequently ate, drank and slept with him) that he was induced to turn Protestant; three worthy followers of that Luther who is by his disciple Melancthon called "a brutal man, void of piety and humanity, one more a Jew than a Christian; “three followers altogether worthy of this great founder of that Protestantism which has split the world into contending sects: but black as these are, they bleach the moment Cranmer appears in his true colours. But alas where is the pen or tongue to give us those colours? Of the sixty-five years that he lived, and of the thirty-five years of his manhood, twenty-nine years were spent in the commission of a series of acts which, for wickedness in their nature and for mischief in their consequences, are absolutely without anything approaching to a parallel in the annals of human infamy. Being a fellow of a college at Cambridge, and having, of course, made an engagement (as the fellows do to this day) not to marry while he was a fellow, he married secretly and still enjoyed his fellowship. While a married man he became a priest and took the oath of celibacy, and going to Germany he married another wife, the daughter of a Protestant "saint," though his oath bound him to have no wife at all. He, as archbishop, enforced the law of celibacy, while he himself secretly kept his German wife in the palace at Canterbury having, as we have seen in paragraph 104, imported her in a chest. He, as ecclesiastical judge, divorced Henry VIII. from three wives, the grounds of his decision in two of the cases being directly the contrary of those which he himself had laid down when he declared the marriages to be valid; and in the case of Anne Boleyn he, as ecclesiastical judge, pronounced that Anne had never been the king's wife; while as a member of the House of Peers he voted for her death, as having been an adulteress and thereby guilty of treason to her husband. As archbishop under Henry (which office he entered upon with a premeditated false oath on his lips) he sent men and women to the stake because they were not Catholics, and he sent Catholics to the stake because they would not acknowledge the king's supremacy and thereby perjure themselves as he had so often done. Become openly a Protestant in Edward's reign, and openly professing those very principles for the professing of which he had burnt others, he now punished his fellow Protestants because their grounds for protesting were different from his. As executor of the will of his old master, Henry, which gave the crown (after Edward) to his daughters, Mary and Elizabeth, he conspired with others to rob those two daughters of their right, and to give the crown to Lady Jane, that queen of nine days, whom he with others ordered to be proclaimed. Confined, notwithstanding his many monstrous crimes, merely to the palace at Lambeth, he, in requital of the Queen's lenity, plotted with traitors in the pay of France to overset her government. Brought at last to trial and to condemnation as a heretic, he professed himself ready to recant. He was respited for six weeks, during which time he signed six different forms of recantation, each more ample than the former. He declared that the Protestant religion was false ; that the Catholic religion was the only true one; that he now believed in all the doctrines of the Catholic Church; that he had been a horrid blasphemer against the Sacrament; that he was unworthy of forgiveness; that he prayed the people, the Queen and the Pope to have pity on and to pray for his wretched soul; and that he had made and signed this declaration without fear and without hope of favour, and for the discharge of his conscience, and as a warning to others. It was a question in the Queen's Council whether he should be pardoned, as other recanters had been; but it was resolved that his crimes were so enormous that it would be unjust to let him escape. Brought, therefore, to the public reading of his recantation on his way to the stake, seeing the pile ready, now finding that he must die, and carrying in his breast all his malignity undiminished, he recanted his recantation, thrust into the fire the hand that had signed it, and thus expired, protesting against that very religion in which, only nine hours before, he had called God to witness that he firmly believed."
252. And Mary is to be called the "Bloody" because she put to death monsters of iniquity like this! It is surely time to do justice to the memory of this calumniated queen; and not to do it by halves, I must, contrary to my intention, employ part of the next chapter in giving the remainder of her history. (William Cobbett, A History of the Protestant Reformation in England and Ireland, written between 1824 and 1827 and published by Benziger Brothers, pp. 203-211.)