May 23, 1895
POPE LEO XIII. has written a letter to “the English people who seek the kingdom of Christ in the unity of the faith.” All professed Christians seek the unity of the faith, and therefore the pope addresses all the professed Christians of England.
This is not the first time the papacy has attempted to persuade the English people to return to the “unity of the [Roman Catholic] faith.” A notable attempt was made just three hundred and seven years ago this month.
In May, 1588, the papacy sent one hundred and fifty messengers to England to argue with the English people and persuade them to return to the Roman Catholic faith. Twelve of these messengers were named after the twelve apostles, and others were named after the “saints.”
While these messengers were apostolic in name, and were commissioned by the professed vicar of Christ, Pope Sixtus V., they were not apostolic men armed only with the “sword of the Spirit, which is the Word of God,” but instead they were huge battle ships, armed and equipped with 2,088 galley slaves, 8,000 sailors, 20,000 soldiers, 2,650 cannon, 123,790 rounds of shot, and 517,500 pounds of powder.
Beside being equipped with these ordinary death-dealing arguments of war, these papal messengers, which history calls the “Spanish Armada,” and which Roman Catholics were pleased to call the “Invincible Armada,” were equipped with still other papal arguments which were to be used to restore the unity of the faith in special cases, wherein the ordinary war arguments failed. These special arguments were the torture instruments of the “Holy Office of the Inquisition;” and to insure the effective application of these arguments, Don Martin Allacon, Administrator and Vicar-General of the “Holy Office,” accompanied these satanic instruments of cruelty.
However, this Armada argument was but one in a series of papal measures intended to persuade the English people to return to their allegiance to the pope. Before sending the Armada, and with a view to weakening the loyalty of the English people to the queen of England as a preparation for it, the pope hurled a bull of excommunication against the queen, from which the following is extracted:—
We do, out of the fullness of our apostolic power, declare the aforesaid Elizabeth, being a heretic, and a favorer of heretics, and her adherents in the matter aforesaid, to have incurred the sentence of anathema, and to be cut off from the unity of the body of Christ. And, moreover, we do declare her to be deprived of her pretended title to the kingdom aforesaid, and of all dominion, dignity, and privilege whatsoever…. And we do command and interdict all and every the noblemen, subjects, people, and others aforesaid, that they presume not to obey her or her monitions, mandates, and laws; and those that shall do the contrary, we do strike with the like sentence of anathema.
This excommunication was followed by papal attempts to assassinate the queen, and then came the pope-blessed “Invincible Armada,” which was heroically fought and finally defeated and driven off by the much inferior navy of England. Our illustration shows one of the stratagems used by the English to save themselves from the choice of a terrible death or unity with Rome. On the night of August 7, the English loaded eight ships with combustible material, smeared their masts with tar, sailed them near the Spanish fleet and then set them on fire, with the hoped-for result that the Spaniards took flight and sailed away, after which the English ships and a terrible storm completed their defeat and almost complete destruction.
This is a brief description of the failure of an old papal method of securing the unity of the faith. But why does not Pope Leo XIII. now use the methods of his “infallible” predecessor, Pope Sixtus V.? Why don’t he send an Armada instead of an “Apostolic Letter”? It cannot be because the papacy has discarded  these antichristian methods, for this is impossible, since Pope Leo X. “infallibly” condemned Luther’s proposition that “to burn heretics is contrary to the will of the Holy Ghost,” thus “infallibly” sanctioning the practice of burning heretics. Again, Pope Pius IX., the immediate predecessor of the present pope, as late as 1851, “infallibly” condemned the proposition, “The church has not the power of availing herself of force or any direct or indirect temporal power.”
No; the papacy has not disavowed and cannot disavow the methods used in the Middle Ages to secure the “unity of the faith,” without destroying the doctrine of “infallibility” which is has “infallibly” proclaimed.
Since it cannot be because of a change in the papacy it must be because of a change in circumstances. Here lies the truth. When the Spanish Armada attempted the destruction of Protestantism in England, the papacy controlled the greater part of western Europe. Spain was a great naval power, while England was much inferior in naval resources, with only about four million people. To-day the papacy is shown of its temporal power, Spain though still Roman Catholic has lost its naval prestige, while England is the strongest naval power in the world.
That Rome would do the same now as she did in the sixteenth century is also made evident by present papal practices in Catholic countries. In Roman Catholic South America Protestant missionaries are persecuted. And when the Methodist ministers of Chicago petitioned Satolli a few months ago to petition the pope to secure religious liberty for Protestant missionaries in that country, Satolli coolly replied by sending them a copy of the pope’s letter calling the governments and people of the world back into the Roman Catholic Church, thus in reality saying, “You can have religious freedom in Catholic South America only by joining the Catholic Church.”
Again, Protestant missionaries have been mobbed and driven from the Caroline Islands by Roman Catholics; and only a few weeks ago, Roman Catholic Spain peremptorily denied the request of the Government of the United States that American missionaries be allowed to return to the Caroline Islands.
And almost simultaneously with the pope’s letter to England, he sent one to Hungary commending the organization of a distinct Roman Catholic political party with the object of securing the repeal of liberal measures recently passed in that country, placing all religious denominations on an equal footing before the law. But the pope, acting in that country in accordance with his recent encyclical to America, demands “in addition to liberty, the favor of the laws and the patronage of the public authority.”
For these and other reasons that might be cited, the English people ought not to be deceived by this letter which the New York Sun’s Rome correspondent, himself a Roman Catholic says is written “with delicate tact, in the most flattering tone,” and “drawn at long sight” with “infinite ecclesiastical ambition.” It is the papal policy to use force when in power, and flattery when seeking power; and it is astonishing that so many Protestants are so credulous and short sighted as not to see in the flattery and the “deep-toned sympathy” of the pope, a deep-laid plot “drawn at long sight,” to regain the supremacy of the world.
And it is only a false charity that would silence the cry of warning because the plottings of the pope for the world’ supremacy are carried on with “delicate tact” instead of defiant temerity; with the “flattering tone,” instead of the “Invincible Armada.”
May God save the Protestants of England and the world from being deceived by this siren song and flattering tone of the pope into compromising with Rome. And may the same God save Roman Catholics themselves from the tyranny which will follow the triumph of their own system. To this end we labor and pray.