“Revising History” American Sentinel 12, 41, pp. 644, 645.

IT would be a congenial task for certain Roman Catholic authorities to revise the history of the Middle Ages especially as regards certain important occurrences in which “the church” was a conspicuous actor.

For example, in the Catholic Mirror of October 9, the Rev. Jos. V. O’Connor comes forward with the statement that “the new spirit of historical research, which seeks the simple truth of fact irrespective of theories or consequences, has settled certain points in the controversy over the [St.] Batholomew massacre;” and that “these succinctly, are: religion had nothing whatever to do with the massacre; it was a measure of Machiavellian social policy. It was not long premeditated, but adopted by the impulse of fear, chiefly of Coligny, and the number of slain cannot be proved to have exceeded 2,000.” [645]

The writer then goes on to state that the Huguenots had plotted to kidnap King Charges IX., had “incited such provinces to rebellion,” and had “introduced foreign hostile troops into France;” that “the French court, gave a lying report of the massacre, deceived Pope Gregory VI., and he, good easy man, thinking that the king of France had been saved from assassination, publicly praised God;” that Charles IX. and his mother, Catharine de Medici, were “worthless Catholics” anyhow, and that the latter was not a Catholic, but a “free-thinker,” and so it is evident(?) that “religion, either Catholic or Protestant, had nothing to do with the massacre”!

It is rather remarkable that “facts” can be brought to light at this date which set aside the conclusions observed by the people who lived when this occurrence took place. That these conclusions, as set forth in history were such as to-day reflect anything but credit upon the church,” is a fact for which “the church” is alone responsible. She had every opportunity at the time, and afterwards, to secure a correct version of the affair for transmission to posterity. “The church” ruled almost supremely in the nations of Europe at the time when such occurrences as this passed into history. Why did she allow history to be written and stand as authentic, which is not only false but unfavorable to herself?

The truth is that the history of those times, as it has come down to us, is essentially true. But in that day the papacy had no wish to change that history; it was not then regarded as of a nature to reflect odium upon her, it was not then deemed, as it is generally to-day, a wicked thing to persecute and put to death “heretics.” The terrible event of St. Bartholomew’s day was regarded as a profitable and even laudable proceeding, and not calling for any apology. And hence Pope Gregory, “good, easy man,” that he was, in giving public thanks and having a … struck commemorative of the event, did not imagine he was doing anything which might make trouble for the apologists of “the church” in future times.

The Jews tell us that they did not crucify Jesus Christ, and that it was done by the Roman, Pontius Pilate. And it is true enough that in that and subsequent proceedings of a similar nature against the followers of Christ, the State has been the actor by whose authority and in whose name the persecution was done. And this is why it is so convenient to have a union of religion with the State, and why such a union is always sought by a church which wants power to enforce her religion, and has lost the power which comes from union with her divine Lord.

It is altogether too late at this date to revise the history of the Middle Ages. The attempt to do so will only expose more clearly the weakness of the claim that “religion had nothing to do” with the tragedies of those times in which the actors were known as papists and Protestants. The would-be explanations by which it is sought to remove all stigma from “the church,” are fitted only for an appeal to credulity and ignorance.

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