August 30, 1894
JOACHIM PECCI, as Leo XIII., is pope of Rome, and of all that the word Rome suggests.
THIS Joachim Pecci, as “Leo XIII., Pope,” has recently—June 21—addressed a communication “to the Princes and Peoples of the Universe.”
BUT why does this man Pecci presume to speak to the princes and peoples of the universe? What causes Joachim Pecci to think that the universe will listen or care to listen to what he has to say?
OH, he thinks that he is God on earth! He actually tells “the princes and peoples of the universe” that “We”—there seems to be more than one of him—“We hold the regency of God on earth.” And he tells it with an air that suggests that he really expects the universe to take seriously and believe the ridiculous statement.
NOW, what is a regency?—This is what it is: A regency is the office and administration of a regent; and a “regent is an administrator of a realm during the minority or incapacity of the king;” “one who rules or reigns, hence one invested with vicarious authority; one who governs a kingdom in the minority, absence, or disability, of the sovereign.”
NOW, if there are any princes or peoples in the universe who think that God is in his minority and is therefore too young, or that he is old enough but is afflicted with some disability and is consequently unable to conduct the affairs of the universe; or who think that he is all right himself, but has gone off somewhere outside of the universe; and if, in addition, those princes and peoples think that the Lord has left Joachim Pecci to run the universe during the period of his “minority, disability, or absence;” then of course it is to be expected that such princes or peoples will listen respectfully to what Mr. Pecci says when he addresses the princes and peoples of the universe. For, as a matter of course, if Mr. Joachim Pecci occupies the throne and conducts the affairs of the universe in the place of God, it follows plainly enough that when he speaks he speaks to the universe, and must be listened to accordingly.
BUT if any person believes that God is what he is, “the King Eternal, Immortal, Invisible, the Only Wise God,” then that person knows that it is impossible that such a thing could ever occur as his “minority, absence, or disability;” that therefore it is impossible that there ever could be any such thing as a “regency of God;” and that, consequently, the idea that Joachim Pecci or any other man should “hold the regency of God on earth,” or anywhere else, is too ridiculous for serious consideration if it were not supremely blasphemous. NO; Vincent Joachim Pecci, as “Leo XIII., Pope,” has no more right or authority to assert or claim to hold any “regency of God,” and from such position speak to the princes and peoples of the universe, than has any other Italian or any Hottentot. Yet there are so many princes and peoples who actually believe this ridiculous and blasphemous thing, and there are so many more who will admit tacitly or otherwise this ridiculous and blasphemous claim, and all together will therefore give such place to this claim and such force to these words, that for this reason and no other, it is well to set forth the principal points in this communication to “the universe.”
IN calling all the universe to “the unity of the Catholic faith,” he first designates those outside the pale of Christendom, next the Eastern churches, next the Slavonic race, and lastly the Protestants. He so longs for the Protestants in particular that he says, it is with “burning charity” that he turns toward these. Yes, there is no doubt of that. Those who have exercise this same “regency” before him have always had a burning charity for Protestants. John Huss, and Jerome of Prague, and thousands of other Protestants, were literally burned to ashes by it. We—and there are actually more than one of us—we desire to see no more manifestations of this “burning charity” anywhere in “the universe.”
THAT part that is the most important to the people of the United States—that part that will be the most taking to the professed Protestants in the United States, and that will be pushed to the front most here, is the passage in which he states the relations of the Church to the State. Here it is:—
It [the Church] is invested with power to make laws, and in the exercise of this power it is just that it should be free, even as this is just to all in any way depending on its authority. This liberty, however, need not arouse rivalries and antagonisms, for the Church aspires to no power and obeys no ambitions. What it desires solely is to preserve among men the exercise of virtue, and by this means assure their eternal salvation. And so it uses condescension and maternal processes. More than this, having regard to the requirements of all societies, it sometimes waives the exercise of its own rights, as has been shown abundantly by its conventions with different States. Nothing is farther from its thoughts than to trespass upon the rights of civil authority, which in return should respect the rights of the Church and beware of usurping any part of them…. God, Creator and Ruler of the world, of his high foresight, has given forth government of human societies, both civil and sacred authorities, wishing thereby, no doubt, to keep them distinct, but forbidding all rupture and conflict between them. This is not all. The Divine will and the general good of societies require that the civil power should be in harmony with the ecclesiastical power.
The State has its own rights and duties. The Church has hers. Between them there should be the bonds of strictest concord. So would surely be suppressed the unrest visible in the relations of Church and State—an unrest for many reasons perilous and grievous to all good people. So, without confusing or separating rights, all citizens would render unto Cesar the things that are Cesar’s, and unto God the things which are God’s.
That all sounds very well, and looks nice enough on paper, but like fly-paper, or the sugared pill, its sweetness is all on the surface and very thin at that. As thin as it is, however, it is altogether likely that it is thick enough to cause many professed Protestants to think that instead of a sugar pill it is a perfectly rounded bulb of solid sweetness, or instead of mere fly-paper and poisoned too, it is a whole hive of honey. Let us set alongside of this a passage on this point, written only three years ago by this same Mr.  Pecci, writing then as now as “Leo XIII., Pope.” Here it is:—
It is the Church that proclaims from the gospel those teachings by which the conflict can be put an end to, or at least made far less bitter; the Church uses its efforts not only to enlighten the mind, but to direct by its precepts the life and conduct of men; … and acts on the decided view that for these purposes recourse should be had in due measure and degree, to the help of the law and of State authority.
This shows that “the bonds of strictest concord” that should be between the Church and the State are such bonds as shall bind and the State to do the bidding of the Church and be her obedient tool in helping the Church in “its efforts not only to enlighten the mind but to direct by its precepts the life and conduct of men.”
HE next condemns, without measure, “the Masonic sect.” We are not qualified to defend Masonry; but we know perfectly well that, admitting the truth of all that he says of Masonry, most, if not all, of it is true with far more force of the papacy. Here it is:—
It is a formidable power which has long oppressed all nations, and especially Catholic nations. Insolently proud of strength, resources, and successes, it spares no pains in these our troubled times to affirm and extend its dominion everywhere. From the dark caverns where it once plotted it has invaded our cities in broad daylight…. Most deplorable is it that wherever it enters it permeates all classes and all State institutions, as though it would constitute itself the sovereign arbitrator of all things. This we hold specially regrettable, for the perversity of its opinions and the iniquity of its designs are flagrant. Under cover of protecting the rights of men, and reforming society, it assails Christian institutions…. Marriage, the idea of the family, the education of youth, it strives to deprive of their Christian character, aiming also at the destruction of the popular respect for divine and human power. The cult it orders is the cult of nature. And it holds up the principles of nature as the one measure and the one rule of truth, honesty, and justice. Thus, as we see, man is driven to the ways and habits of an almost pagan life, if the abundance and refinement of seductions do not drive him still lower.
He says that it is in that very city of Rome, “the capital of the Catholic world, that it has established headquarters;” and with vastly more force it is true of the papacy that in the city of Washington, “the capital of the modern world,” the church of Rome has established headquarters, that mean only mischief to the United States and to the world. His wish concerning Masonry is thus expressed:—
May the divine mercy upset these dark designs, and may Christian people understand that they must do away with this sect, and shake off, once for all, its shameful yoke.
Such is his “burning charity” toward them and all the rest of us, just as it always has been.
BEFORE closing he covertly pays tribute to his own authority as supreme, and warns all of what they may expect if they are not subject to it. This he puts thus:—
Reason yields to some the lawful right to command and enjoins on others to obey. In this obedience there is nothing hurtful to human dignity, since, speaking strictly, God is obeyed rather than man, and God reserves his most rigorous judgments for those who command unless they represent his authority in conformity with right and justice.
And lastly, he does not miss the opportunity to set himself forth as the “mediator of peoples and governments” in these times of disorder and “prevailing unrest” in the present, and of “fear of the future.” And here are his words on that:—
Lastly, if we reflect upon what the Church can do as a mother and mediator of peoples and governments, helping all by its authority and counsel, we shall see how important it is that all nations should adopt the same feeling and profession in matters appertaining to the Christian faith. While our mind dwells on these thoughts and our heart prays for their realization, we see in the far distant future a new order of things unfolding itself. We know nothing sweeter than the contemplation of the great benefits which would result naturally from it…. The virtue of these benefits would not be limited to civilized nations. It would go far beyond, like a broad, fertilizing river…. Especially do we implore princes and rulers in the name of their political foresight and solicitude for the interests of their peoples, to weigh our designs equitably, and second them by their favor and authority. Were only a part of the fruits that we expect to ripen, the benefit would not be small amid the present rapid downfall of all things, and when to the prevailing unrest is joined fear of the future.
Thus he invites princes and rulers to help forward his grand scheme of insinuating himself into the place of dictator of the nations, and obediently enforce his dictates upon the people of the world.
THIS communication of “Leo XIII., Pope,” was taken up and discussed by the Tribune of this city in a “tone and manner” which the Catholic World is “much pleased to acknowledge” as “most respectful and amicable.” And this fact, the Tribune being Protestant, the Catholic World says “furnishes one of the best arguments which can be adduced in proof of the legitimacy and validity of the claim which the pope makes to be the vicegerent of God on earth and the divinely commissioned teacher of the Christian religion to all mankind.” The argument is, that if the Tribune and others who speak and act as it does on this subject were really Protestant, they would not show any respect or courtesy to such a document issued upon such claims as is this. But being Protestants and receiving it with its claims “with respect and courtesy,” this is declared to be “a powerful proof” that the claims that are made are legitimate and valid. We are not real certain but that there may be something in this view of the matter. For when anybody can treat with respect and courtesy a communication addressed as this one is, asserting the supremely ridiculous and blasphemous claims that this one does, then it would seem that such person really supposed that there might be something in the claim that was worthy of respect and courtesy. And when anybody, professing to be a Protestant, does such a thing, it would seem that it is not far from a tacit concession of some sort to the legitimacy and validity of the claim.
IN this same number of the Catholic World a prominent Catholic describes Seventh-day Adventists as being of the last remnants of “consistent Protestantism.” We are glad that they recognize even a remnant of consistent Protestantism, and we are glad that they recognize us by name as being this remnant. It is therefore doubtless expected by them that we shall not receive this communication with any respect or courtesy. This is right. Their expectation is fulfilled so far. Therefore, in closing, we may be allowed to state that we have no more respect for Joachim Pecci as “Leo XIII., Pope,” addressing the princes and peoples of the universe, and notifying them that he holds “the regency of God on earth,” or addressing anybody else in any other way, than we have for any other man who should set forth the ridiculous and blasphemous claims that he does.