in the Church of Rome
by Charles Chiniquy
"The mother of harlots and abominations." Rev. xvii. 5.
Constrained by the voice of my conscience to reveal the impurities of the theology of the Church of Rome, I feel, in doing so, a sentiment of inexpressible shame. They are of such a loathsome nature, that often they cannot be expressed in any living language.
However great may have been the corruptions in the theologies and priests of paganism, there is nothing in their records which can be compared with the depravity of those of the Church of Rome. Before the day on which the theology of Rome was inspired by Satan, the world had certainly witnessed many dark deeds; but vice had never been clothed with the mantle of theology: the most shameful forms of iniquity had never been publicly taught in the schools of the old pagan priest, under the pretext of saving the world. No! neither had the priests nor the idols been forced to attend meetings where the most degrading forms of iniquity were objects of the most minute study, and that under the pretext of glorifying God.
Let those who understand Latin read "The Priest, the Women, and the Confessional," and decide as to whether or not the sentiments therein contained are not enough to shock the feelings of the most depraved. And let it be remembered that all those abominations have to be studied, learned by heart and thoroughly understood by men who have to make a vow never to marry! For it is not till after his vow of celibacy that the student in theology is initiated into those mysteries of iniquity.
Has the world ever witnessed such a sacrilegious comedy? A young man about twenty years of age has been enticed to make a vow of perpetual celibacy, and the very next day the Church of Rome put under the eye of his soul the most infamous spectacle! She fills his memory with the most disgusting images! She tickles all his senses and pollutes his ears, not by imaginary representations, but by realities which would shock the most abandoned in vice!
For, let it be well understood, that it is absolutely impossible for one to study those questions of Roman Theology, and fathom those forms of iniquity without having his body as well as his mind plunged into a state the most degrading. Moreover, Rome does not even try to conceal the overwhelming power of this kind of teaching; she does not even attempt to make it a secret from the victims of her incomparable depravity, but bravely tells them that the study of those questions will act with an irresistible power upon their organs, and without a blush says, "that pollution must follow!!!"
But in order that the Church of Rome may more certainly destroy her victims, and that they may not escape from the abyss which she has dug under their feet, she tells them, "There is no sin for you in those pollutions!" (Dens, vol. i. p. 315.)
But Rome must bewitch so as the better to secure their destruction. She puts to their lips the cup of her enchantments, the more certainly to kill their souls, dethrones God from their consciences, and abrogates His eternal laws of holiness. What answer does Rome give to those who reproach her with the awful impurity of theology. "My theological works," she answers, "are all written in Latin; the people cannot read them. No evil, no scandal, therefore, can come from them!" But this answer is a miserable subterfuge. Is this not the public acknowledgment that her theology would be exceedingly injurious to the people if it were read and understood by them?
By saying, "My theological works are written in Latin, therefore the people cannot be defiled, as they do not understand them," Rome does acknowledge that these works would only act as a pestilence among the people, were they read and understood by them. But are not the one hundred thousand priests of Rome bound to explain in every known tongue, and present to the mind of every nation, the theology contained in those books? Are they not bound to make every polluting sentence in them flow into the ears, imaginations, hearts and minds of all the married and unmarried women whom Rome holds in her grasp?
I exaggerate nothing when I say that not fewer than half a million women every day are compelled to hear in their own language, almost every polluting sentence and impure notion of the diabolical sciences.
And here I challenge, most fearlessly, the Church of Rome to deny what I say, when I state that the daily average of women who go to confession to each priest, is ten. But let us reduce the number to five. Then the one hundred thousand priest who are scattered over the whole world, hear the confession of five hundred thousand women every day! Well, now, out of one hundred women who confess, there are at least ninety-nine whom the priest is bound in conscience to pollute, by questioning them on the matters mentioned in the Latin pages at the end of this chapter. How can one be surprised at the rapid downfall of the nations who are under the yoke of the Pope.
The public statistics of the European, as well of American nations, show that there is among Roman Catholics nearly double the amount of prostitution, bastardy, theft, perjury, and murder than is found among Protestant nations. Where must we, then, look for the cause of those stupendous facts, if not in the corrupt teachings of the theology of Rome. How can the Roman Catholic nations hope to raise themselves in the scale of Christian dignity and morality as long as there remain one hundred thousand priests in their midst, bound in conscience every day to pollute the minds and the hearts of their mothers, their wives and their daughters!
And here let me say, once for all, that I am not induced to speak as I do from any motive of contempt or unchristian feeling against the theological professors who have initiated me into those mysteries of iniquity. The Rev. Messrs. Raimbault and Leprohon were, and in my mind they still are, as respectable as men can be in the Church of Rome. As I have been myself, and as all the priests of Rome are, they were plunged without understanding it, into the abyss of the most stolid ignorance. They were crushed, as I was myself, under a yoke which bound their understanding to the dust, and polluted their hearts without measure. We were embarked together on a ship, the first appearance of which was really magnificent, but the bottom of which was irremediably rotten. Without the true Pilot on board we were left to perish on unknown shoals. Out of this sinking ship the hand of God alone, in His providence rescued me. I pity those friends of my youth, but despise them? hate them? No! Never! Never!
Every time out theological teachers gave us our lessons, it was evident that they blushed in the inmost part of their souls. Their consciences as honest men were evidently forbidding them, on the one hand, to open their mouths on such matters, while, on the other hand, as slaves and priests of the Pope, they were compelled to speak without reserve.
After our lessons in theology, we students used to be filled with such a sentiment of shame that sometimes we hardly dared to look at each other: and, when alone in our rooms, those horrible pictures were affecting our hearts, in spite of ourselves, as the rust affects and corrodes the hardest and purest steel. More than one of my fellow-students told me, with tears of shame and rage, that they regretted to have bound themselves by perpetual oaths to minister at the altars of the Church.
One day one of the students, called Desaulnier, who was sick in the same room with me, asked me: "Chiniquy, what do you think of the matters which are the objects of our present theological studies? Is it not a burning shame that we must allow our minds to be so polluted?"
"I cannot sufficiently tell you my feelings of disgust," I answered. "Had I known sooner that we were to be dragged over such a ground, I certainly never would have nailed my future to the banners under which we are irrevocably bound to live." "Do you know," said Desaulnier, "that I am determined never to consent to be ordained a priest; for when I think of the fact that the priest is bound to confer with women on all of these polluting matters, I feel an insurmountable disgust and shame."
"I am not less troubled," I replied. "My head aches and my heart sinks within me when I hear our theologians telling us that we will be in conscience bound to speak to females on these impure subjects. But sometimes this looks to me as if it were a bad dream, the impure phantoms of which will disappear at the first awakening. Our Church, which is so pure and holy that she can only be served by the spotless virgins, surely cannot compel us to pollute our lips, thoughts, souls, and even our bodies, by speaking to strange women on matters so defiling!"
"But we are near the hour at which the good Mr. Leprohon is in the habit of visiting us. Will you," I said, "promise to stand by me in what I will ask him on this subject? I hope to get from him a pledge that we will not be compelled to be polluted in the confessional by the women who will confess to us. The purity and holiness of our superior is of such a high character, that I am sure he has never said a word to females on those degrading matters. In spite of all the theologians, Mr. Leprohon will allow us to keep our tongues and our hearts, as well as our bodies, pure in the confessional."
"I have had the desire to speak to him upon this subject for some time," rejoined Desaulnier, "but my courage failed me every time I attempted to do so. I am glad, therefore, that you are to break the ice, and I will certainly support you, as I have a longing desire to know something more in regard to the mysteries of the confessional. If we are at liberty never to speak to women on these horrors, I will consent to serve the Church as a priest; but if not, I will never be a priest."
A few minutes after this our superior entered to kindly enquire how we had rested the night before. Having thanked him for his kindness, I opened the volumes of Dens and Liguori which were on our table, and, with a blush, putting my fingers on one of the infamous chapters referred to, I said to him:
"After God, you have the first place in my heart since my mother's death, and you know it. I take you, not only as my benefactor, but also, as it were, as my father and mother. You will therefore tell me all I want to know in these my hours of anxiety, through which God is pleased to make me pass. To follow your advice, not to say your commands, I have lately consented to receive the order of sub-deacon, and I have in consequence taken the vow of perpetual celibacy. But I will not conceal the fact from you, I had not a clear understanding of what I was doing; and Desaulnier has just stated to me, that until recently he had no more idea of the nature of that promise, nor of the difficulties which we now see ahead of us in our priestly life than I had.
"But Dens, Liguori and St. Thomas have given us notions quite new in regard to many things. They have directed our minds to the knowledge of the laws which are in us, as well as in every other child of Adam. They have, in a word, directed our minds into regions which were quite new and unexplored by us; and I dare say that every one of those whom we have known, whether in this house or elsewhere, who have made the same vow, could tell you the same tale.
"However, I do not speak for them; I speak only for myself and Desaulnier. For God's sake, please tell us if we will be bound in conscience to speak in the confessional, to the married and unmarried females, on such impure and defiling questions as are contained in the theologians before us?"
"Most undoubtedly," replied Rev. Mr. Leprohon; "because the learned and holy theologians whose writings are in your hands are positive on that question. It is absolutely necessary that you should question your female penitents on such matters; for, as a general thing, girls and married women are too timid to confess those sins, of which they are even more frequently guilty than men, therefore they must be helped by questioning them."
"But have you not," I rejoined, "induced us to make an oath that we should always remain pure and undefiled? How is it then, that today you put us in such a position that it is almost impossibility for us to be true to our sacred promise? For the theologians are unanimous that those questions put by us to our female penitents, together with the recital of their secret sins, will act with such an irresistible power upon us that we will be polluted.
"Would it not be better for us to experience those things in the holy bonds of marriage, with our wives, and according to the laws of God, than in company and conversation with strange women? Because, if we are to believe the theologians which are in our hands, no priest not even you, my dear Mr. Leprohon can hear the confessions of women without being defiled."
Here Desaulnier interrupted me, and said: "My dear Mr. Leprohon, I concur in everything Chiniquy has just been telling you. Would we not be more chaste and pure by living with our lawful wives, than by daily exposing ourselves in the confessional in company of women whose presence will irresistibly drag us into the most shameful pit of impurity? I ask you, my dear sir, what will become of my vow of perfect and perpetual chastity, when the seducing presence of my neighbour's wife, or the enchanting words of his daughter, will have defiled me through the confessional. After all, I may be looked upon by the people as a chaste man; but what will I be in the eyes of God? The people may entertain the thought that I am a strong and honest man; but will I not be a broken reed? Will God not be the witness that the irresistible temptations which will have assailed me when hearing the secret sins of some sweet and tempting woman, will have deprived me of that glorious crown of chastity for which I have so dearly paid? Men will think that I am an angel of purity; but my own conscience will tell me that I am nothing but a skillful hypocrite. For according to all the theologians, the confessional is the tomb of the chastity of priests!! If I hear the confession of women, I will be like all other priests, in a tomb, well painted and gilded on the outside, but within full or corruption."
Francis Desaulnier, just as he had foretold me, refused to be a priest. He remained all his life in the orders of sub-deaconate, in the College of Nicolet, as a Professor of Philosophy. He was a man who seldom spoke in conversation, but thought very much. It seems to me that I still see him there, under that tall centenary tree, alone, during the long hours of intermission, and many long days during our holidays, while the rest of the students passed hither and thither, singing and playing, on the enchanting banks of the river of Nicolet.
He was a good logician and a profound mathematician; and although affable to everyone, he was not communicative. I was probably the only one to whom he opened his mind concerning the great questions of Christianity faith, history, the Church and her discipline. He repeatedly said to me: "I wish I had never opened a book of theology. Our theologians are without heart, soul or logic. Many of them approve of theft, lies and perjury; others drag us without a blush, into the most filthy pits of iniquity. Every one of them would like to make an assassin of every Catholic. According to their doctrine, Christ is nothing but a Corsican brigand, whose blood-thirsty disciples are bound to destroy all the heretics with fire and sword. Were we acting according to the principles of those theologians, we would slaughter all Protestants with the same coolness of blood as we would shoot down the wolf which crosses our path. With their hand still reddened with the blood of St. Bartholomew, they speak to us of charity, religion and God, as if there were neither of them in the world."
Desaulnier was looked upon as "un homme singulier" at Nicolet. He was really an exception to all the men in the seminary. For example: Though it was the usage and the law that ecclesiastics should receive the communion every month, and upon every great feast day of the Church, yet he would scarcely take the communion once a year. But let me return to the interview with our superior.
Desaulnier's fearless and energetic words had evidently made a very painful impression upon our superior. It was not a usual thing for His disciples in theology thus to take upon themselves to speak with such freedom as we both did on this occasion. He did not conceal his pain at what he called our unbecoming and unchristian attack upon some of the most holy ordinances of the Church; and after he had refuted Desaulnier in the best way he could, he turned to me and said: "My dear Chiniquy, I have repeatedly warned you against the habit you have of listening to your own frail reasoning, when you should only obey as a dutiful child. Were we to believe you, we would immediately set ourselves to work to reform the Church and abolish the confession of women to priests; we would throw all our theological books into the fire and have new one written, better adapted to your fancy. What does all this prove? Only one thing, and that is, that the devil of pride is tempting you as he has tempted all the so-called Reformers, and destroyed them as he would you. If you do not take care, you will become another Luther!
"The Theological books of St. Thomas, Liguori and Dens have been approved by the Church. How, therefore, do you not see the ridicule and danger of your position. On one side, then, I see all our holy popes, the two thousand Catholic bishops, all our learned theologians and priests, backed up by over two hundred millions of Roman Catholics drawn up as an innumerable army to fight the battles of the Lord; and on the other side what do I see? Nothing by my small, though very dear Chiniquy!
"How, then, is it that you do not fear, when with your weak reasoning you oppose the mighty reasoning and light of so many holy popes, and venerable bishops and learned theologians? Is it not just as absurd for you to try to reform the Church by your small reason, as it is for the grain of sand which is found at the foot of the great mountain to try to turn that mighty mountain out of its place? or for the small drop of water to attempt to throw the boundless ocean out of its bed, or try to oppose the running tides of the Polar seas?
"Believe me, and take my friendly advice," continued our superior, "before it is too late. Let the small grain of sand remain still at the foot of the majestic mountain; and let the humble drop of water consent to follow the irresistible currents of the boundless seas, and everything will be in order.
"All the good priests who have heard the confessions of women before us have been satisfied and have had their souls saved, even when their bodies were polluted; for those carnal pollutions are nothing but human miseries, which cannot defile a soul which desires to remain united to God. Are the rays of the sun defiled by coming down into the mud? No! The rays remain pure, and return spotless to the shining orb whence they came. So the heart of a good priest as I hope my dear Chiniquy will be will remain pure and holy in spite of the accidental and unavoidable defilement of the flesh.
"Apart from these things, in your ordination you will receive a special grace which will change you into another man; and the Virgin Mary, to whom you will constantly address yourself, will obtain for you a perfect purity from her Son.
"The defilement of the flesh spoken of by the theologians, and which, I confess, is unavoidable when hearing the confessions of women, must not trouble you; for they are not sinful, as Dens and Liguori assure us. (Dens. vol. i., pages 299, 300.)
"But enough on that subject. I forbid you to speak to me any more on those idle questions, and, as much as my authority is anything to you both, I forbid you to say a word more to each other on that matter!!"
It was my fond hope that my dear and so much venerated Mr. Leprohon would answer me with some good and reasonable arguments; but he, to my surprise, silenced the voice of our conscience by un coup d'etat.
Nevertheless, the idea of that miserable grain of sand which so ridiculously attempted to remove the stately mountain, and also of that all but imperceptible drop of water which attempted to oppose itself to the onward motion of the vast ocean, singularly struck and humbled me. I remained silent and confused, though not convinced.
This was not all. Those rays of the sun, which could not be defiled even when going down into the mud, after bewildering one by their glittering appearance, left my soul more in the dark than ever. I could not resist the presentiment that I was in the presence of an imposition, and of a glittering sophism. But I had neither sufficient learning, moral courage, nor grace from God clearly to see through that misty cloud and to expel it from my mind.
Almost every month of the ten years which I had passed in the seminary of Nicolet, priests of the district of Three Rivers and elsewhere were sent by the bishops to spend two or three weeks in doing penances for having bastards by their nieces, their housekeepers, or their fair penitents. Even not long before this conversation with our director, the curate of St. Francois, the Rev. Mr. Amiot, had in the very same week two children by two of his fair penitents, both of whom were sisters. One of those girls gave birth to her child at the parsonage the very night on which the bishop was on his episcopal visit to that parish. These public and undeniable facts were not much in harmony with those beautiful theories of our venerable director concerning the rays of the sun, which "remained pure and undefiled even when warming and vivifying the mud of our planet." The facts had frequently occurred to my mind while Mr. Leprohon was speaking, and I was tempted more than once to ask him respectfully if he really thought these "shining rays," the priests, had thus come into the mire, and would then return, like the rays of the sun, without taking back with them something of the mire in which they had been so strangely wallowing. But my respect for Mr. Leprohon sealed my lips.
When I returned to my room I fell on my knees to ask God to pardon me for having, for the moment, thought otherwise than the popes and theologians of Rome. I again felt angry with myself for having dared, for a single moment, to have arrayed my poor little and imperceptible grain of sand drop of water and personal and contemptible understanding against that sublime mountain of strength, that vast ocean of learning, and that immensely divine wisdom of the popes!
But, alas! I was not yet aware that when Jesus in His mercy sends into a perishing soul a single ray of His grace, that there is more light and wisdom in that soul than in all the popes and their theologians!
I was then taught what the real foundation of the Church of Rome is, and sincerely believed that to think for myself was a damnable impiety that to look and see with my own eyes, and understand with my own mind, was an unpardonable sin. To be saved I had to believe, not what I considered to be the truth, but what the popes told me to be the truth. I had to look and see every object of faith, just as every true Roman Catholic of today has to look and see the same, through the Pope's eyes or those of his theologians.
However absurd and impious this belief may be, yet it was mine, and it is also the belief of every true member of the Church of Rome today. The glorious light and grace of God could not possibly flow directly from Him to me; they had to pass through the Pope and his Church, which were my only mountain of strength and only ocean of light. It was, then, my firm belief that there was an impassable abyss between myself and God, and that the Pope and his Church were the only bridge by which I could have communication with Him. That stupendously high and most sublime mountain, the Pope, was between myself and God: and all that was allowed my poor soul was to raise itself and travel with great difficulty till it attained the foot of that holy mountain, the Pope, and, prostrating itself there in the dust, ask him to let me know what my yet distant God would have me to do. The promises of mercy, truth, light, and life were all vested in this great mountain, the Pope, from whom alone they could descend upon my poor soul!
Darkness, ignorance, uncertainty, and eternal loss were my lot, the very moment I ceased worshiping at the feet of the Pope! The God of Heaven was not my God; He was only the God of the Pope! The Saviour of the world was not my Saviour; He was only the Pope's. Therefore it was through the Pope only that I could receive Christ as my Saviour, and to the Pope alone had I to go to know the way, the truth, and the life of my soul!
God alone knows what a dark and terrible night I passed after this meeting! I had again to smother my conscience, dismantle my reason, and bring them all under the turpitudes of the theologies of Rome, which are so well calculated to keep the world fettered in ignorance and superstition.
But God saw the tears with which I bedewed my pillow that night. He heard the cry of my agonizing soul, and in His infinite love and mercy determined to come to my rescue, and save me. If He saw fit to leave me many years more in the slavery of Egypt, it was that I might better know the plagues of that land of darkness, and the iron chains which are there prepared for poor lost souls.
When the hour of my deliverance came, the Lord took me by the hand and helped me to cross the Red Sea. He brought me to the Land of Promise a land of peace, life, and joy which passeth all understanding.
Continue to Chapter Sixteen
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