George F Dillon.

War of antichrist with the Church and Christian civilization : lectures delivered in Edinburgh in October 1884 online

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tion on the part of Catholics in every land, but especially in
countries benefited by its ministrations, not to let the great
work of the Propaganda perish.



THE PROPAGANDA FROM THE BEGINNING. 9

11.

THE PROPAGANDA FROM THE BEGINNING.

The Sacred CongTegation known as that of the Propaganda
Fide, is formed, at present, Kke all the other Congregations
of Rome, of a number of Cardinals, Prelates and officials,
presided over by a Cardinal Prefect. They form a Corporate
Body, and their duty is to conduct what we might call the
foreign department in the vast administration of the Vicar
of Christ.

At one period, at the very commencement, the
Propaganda was conducted in person by St. Peter and his
successors. It remained during nearly the whole of the
first Po]:)e's lifetime his own principal occupation. He had
to convert both Jews and Gentiles before he had a Church
of any great extent to rule. He had, however, it must be
confessed, a very excellent "Prefect of the Propaganda"
in St. Paul, who carried out the work the Sacred Con^re-
gation now sees to, both by himself and his numerous
companions and disciples. St. Paul died a Bishop of no
particular locality — he was, so to speak, very like many of
his successors and his present one. Cardinal Simeoni, an
episcopus in partihus mfidelium. He did great and lasting
work, but on his death the successors of St. Peter had to
find out other means to carry on the evangelization of the
world. And they succeeded wonderfully from that day to
this. We see them ruling with admirable wisdom, sanctity,
and authority the vast empire left them mainly by the
exertions of St. Peter and St. Paul ; never forgetting the
peculiar labours of the one or the other. The evangelization
of the nations as well the government and teaching of the
Church was never omitted bv any one of them. From



10 SPOLIATION OF THE PROPAGANDA.

their side, principally, went forth those crowds of holy men
who continued to prosecute the work of the evangelization
of the world, until from the extreme limits of this then
British Province, to the sands of the Great African Desert,
and from the Pillars of Hercules to the frontiers of Persia,
the persecuting Roman Empire had the followers of Christ
in the army, in the navy, in every department, and even in
the Courts of the terrible, anti-Christian Emperors them-
selves. They caused Christians to fill the towns, and
spread at last to the remotest villages of the Empire, and
then to be found far beyond its borders. And when the
whole East and West, after ten terrific struggles, at last
embraced the Cross, the successors of St. Peter with
renewed zeal and increased resources attempted the evan-
gelization of all then known, barbarous nations.

I say increased resources, for even in these times of
persecution the Roman Pontiffs were not destitute of
temporal means. The generous piety of the faithful
recognised their immense responsibility, and supplied the
means which heartless infidelity now strives to deprive
them of The Roman Pontiff, even when compelled to lay
hidden in the Catacombs, was the father of the orphan,
and of the widow, and of the poor. From the cr}^3ts of the
Catacombs, as well as, afterwards, from the portals of the
Vatican, he sent forth a never ceasing stream of apostolic
men who at his bidding, and with his blessing, and with
his authority, went forth to the very ends of the earth for
the evangelization of the heathen, and the consolation of
the people of God.

On this point you will allow me to quote a passage
from the writings of a great French Prelate, Monsigneur
Dupanloup, whom our present Holy Father has character-
ised as " the glory and the consolation of France " in his



THE PROPAGANDA FROM THE BEGINNING. 11

day. No one who recollects his history will doubt for a
moment the weight of his authority. He says :

" Mother and Mistress of all Churches, the Church of
*' Rome was from that time what she ought to be, viz., the
" richest, the most powerful, and also the most generous
" in her gifts. The Faithful throughout the world vene-
" rated her as the centre of Catholicity ; and lavished their
" wealth upon her, together with their obedience and their
" love. They did not wish the head of their religion and
*' the Vicar of Jesus Christ to be unequal to the immense
** calls of his spiritual administration ; they wished the
" Pope to have sufficient to meet all the requirements of
*' the universal mission which had been confided to him,
*' the enormous disbursements that he was obliged to make
" for the welfare of so many people confided to his care,
" and also for the nations which were still infidel, to whom
** it was his duty to send the light of faith, by bishops,
" priests, deacons, and apostolic missionaries. Hence the
" riches of the Roman Church from the time of the per-
" secutions ; hence the considerable possessions which she
*' enjoyed a long time before Constantine ; hence also the
" generous liberalities which she lavished upon the world,
" as Eusebius tells us, for the maintenance of a large
" number of the clergy, of widows and of orphans, and of the
"poor as well as for the propagation of the faith, and the
" foundation of Christianity in the most distant countries.
" Eusebius cites Syria and Arabia, and our own histories
" add the Gauls and the Spains to these countries. This
" was not all ; it was necessary that while buried still in
" the Catacombs, the Papacy should maintain apostolic
" notaries to keep the acts of the martyrs, and to be ever
" ready to reply to the questions for consultation almost
" daily addressed by all the Churches, whilst at the same



12 SPOLIATION OF THE PROPAGANDA.

*' time, the Roman Climx-h was sending nnmbers of ships
" across the sea laden with alms. Such was even before
" the peace of the Church, the temporal power with which
" the faith of Christians surrounded the Apostolic See, and
" of which the charity of the Popes made so noble a use
"for the Avelfare of nations, ISIonuments and the most
" celebrated facts teach us that the Roman Church, in
" order to supply so many wants, not only possessed
"vessels of gold and silver and a great number of move-
" able goods, but also, considerable capital. The Pagans
" sometimes respected, sometimes carried off, these pos-
" sessions. Constantine ordered, says Eusebius, that
" restitution should be made to the clergy of the houses, the
*"' possessions, fields, gardens, and oilier goods of ivhich they
^'had been unjustly depriTed. What a strange thing ! that
" Paganism should recognise that the Church had a right
" to property, and yet this is in the present day contested
"by nations which call themselves Christian."*

With the resources here so eloquently indicated, the
Popes, even in the earliest ages, provided for the evangeli-
zation of the most distant nations. Indeed, we scarcely
meet with a single Pontificate, not illustrated with this
blessed characteristic of the Apostolic ministry — a charac-
teristic which became more marked as time rolled on. Just
as the Church had attained its first triumph, the Pope, who
had most to do with the conversion of Constantine, and
with the splendid works of that Monarch for religion, was
consoled by the conversion of the Il^erians near the Black
Sea, and of the Abyssinians beyond the distant, southern
confines of ancient Egy]^)t. The Popes aided the terribly
tried Christians of Persia, under the long persecutions of



*lIonsigneur Dupanloup, Bishop of Orleans, on ths "Temporal Sovereignty of the
Popes." Paris, 1849.



THE rrvOPAGANDA FROM THE BEGINNING. 13

Sapor and his successors, just as Leo XITI. aids the
persecuted Christians of China as I speak. We know of
the sohcitude of St. Celestine in selecting and sending Palla-
dius, a dignitary of the Eoman Curia, to convert the Irish
and Picts. Then came the mighty Mission of St. Patrick,
received at Rome from the same Holy Pontiff, and solemnly
confirmed by his successor. Soon after, St. Leo the Great
sent St. Valentinus, to carry the glad tidings of Pedemption
to those tribes once so formidable to Roman power, who
inhabited the forests bordering on the Danube and the
Rhine. St. Severinus, authorized by the same authority,
Avas contemporaneously carrying the faith to Panormia and
Norica, The Rhetians and the faithful Tyrolese received,
through the solicitude of Pope Leo, the grace of the faitli,
also from St. Severinus. Besides those absolute and
direct conversions, by saints from the very side of the
Roman Pontiff, every national conversion made, was helped
on, and had to be watched over, by his fatherly, evangelical
care. The conversion of Clovis and the Franks, and other
barbarians ; the destruction of Arianism amidst the fierce
tribes who embraced that heresy, and brought it with
them on their conquests ; the care of the Faith amongst
the ever-fickle Catholics in the East ; the ecclesiastical
formation of new realms, gained over by the Apostles
despatched for the purpose, constantly exercised the zeal
of the Sovereign Pontiffs in those days. Who does not
know the love and care manifested by St. Gregory the
Great for the desolate Anglo Saxon ancestors of the
people now inhabiting England, and so strangely in many
instances forgetful, or worse than forgetful, of the debt of
gratitude they owe the Popes ? It w^as not so with the
ancient Catholics of that land. The intercourse betw^een
them and then far off Rome, was greater than it is



14 SPOLIATION OF THE PROPAGANDA.

to-day, with all our modern appliances for swift
and easy travelling. But then, not as now, it was love
of God and not of travel,'that brought the crowds of Anglo-
Saxon pilgrims to Rome. They loved to see Christ's Vicar,
to visit the tombs of the Apostles and Martyrs, and to
manifest the gratitude of their nation at the Shrine of the
real Apostle of England, Pope St. Gregory the Great. The
same Pontiff was as zealous and as successful in converting
all that remained of the Donatist heretics in Africa as in
evangelizing the people of Britain. The care of his succes-
sors for the vast conversions wrought by the multitude of
Irish missionary saints amongst the Pagans during the early
middle ages, and of missionary saints like St. Boniface and
St. Willibrord, who came from England, is just as remark-
able. The connection of the Popes with SS. Cyril and
Methodius, the Apostles of the Bulgarians, the Moravians,
and the Bohemians, has been recently brought very promi-
nently before the world of our day, by our present Holy
Father who has just built a church to honour their memory,
over the remains of St. Cyril, one of the two, who died in
Rome. Pope St. Nicholas the Great and Pope John VIII.
sent bishops, priests, and ample assistance to the same
evangelic labourers, who are the Apostles and civilizers not
only of the nations before mentioned, but also of Moravia,
Silesia, Bosnia, Circassia, Russia, Dalmatia, Panoramia,
Dacia, Carinthia and several neighbouring nations. Under
Pope Sylvester II. the great warlike nation of the Hunga-
rians became converted by the zeal of their truly apostolic
King, St. Stephen ; and to this day the crown sent by the
Pope to that Monarch, is used in the coronation of the
Kings of Hungary (now the Emperors of Austria), who
retain with just pride the privilege to have the Cross borne
before them, and to take the title of Apostolic Majesty,



THE PROPAGANDA FROM THE BEGINNING. 15

both given by the Pope. With every conversion which
afterwards took place in the North of Europe or elsewhere,
the Popes had the same intimate connection, and their
Apostolic zeal never flagged until a still wider field than
ever opened out for it by the discovery of America, and the
coming of that unfortunate torrent of heresy and schism
from which all our present religious misfortunes flow, and
which is known under the name of the Reformation.

The Popes of this period dealt with the duties brought
upon them by one and the other of these momentous events,
as became their traditions and their obligations. The vast
fields opened up for Missionary zeal by the discoveries of
Columbus and Vasco di Gama were soon occupied by their
care. It w^as, after all, but a phase in the kind of evangeli-
zation which their predecessors had carried on in one part
or another of the world, since the days of St. Peter and
St. Paul.

More difficult far became the task of repairing the
injury done to many countries by the ravage occasioned by
many reformers of many minds and many degrees of hatred
for Catholicity. Wars followed fast upon doctrinal differ-
ences. The face of whole kingdoms changed. Radical
political changes grew apace. The work of the conversion
of England, Scotland, Prussia, Sweden, Norway, Denmark,
and several minor German States had to be commenced
over again, with the difference that heresy was a far more
redoubtable opponent than Paganism of any kind. It was
a system of various-phased negations constantly changing,
never knowing its own Christian belief, and satisfied only
upon some f)oints which it refused to hold in common with
the Church of God. Its systems, all made by men, accord-
ing to caprice, or logical necessity springing from error,
differed one from the other fully as much as all differed from



16 SPOLIATION OF THE PROPAGANDA.

the Catholic faith of as^es. The reasoninq* to be used airainst
one sect would not suit against another. On points of
the most vital importance all held opposite views. Some
would have it that Christ was God, and others that He. was
not. Some held for Grace and others for pure Pelagianism.
Some admitted the Real Presence, and others regarded
that doctrine as idolatrous. One party held out for more
or less sacramental efficacy, and others denied it, in part
or entirely. So the babel went on, in nothing united save
in hatred and opposition to the one, stable, changeless
truth of the old religion. In Ireland, in France, in
Germany, wars took place between fellow-countrymen on
points of doctrine. In England and other countries the
party in opposition to Catholicity found out, as they
thought, not only that the religion of their forefathers
for generations was wrong, but they further considered it
to be their duty to deprive such of their fellow-citizens as
continued to hold the old Faith, of goods, of liberty, of civil
status, and even of life itself. Almost everywhere in
Europe, confusion and anger reigned in those sadly
troubled times.

None experienced more difficulty in dealing with the
perplexing responsibilities arising from the Reformation
than the Roman Pontiffs. The business of the Holy See
increased to an enormous extent. Several new Congre-
gations had to be formed by the action of the Council
of Trent alone. Every department of Church adminis-
tration had to be remodelled. New Orders arose provi-
dentially to meet the needs of the times. These had to be
guided and watched over. Contemporaneously with the
religious troubles in Europe, new fields for Missionary
enterprise were opened up in America, in Asia, in Africa,
oven in some of the Isles of the Pacific. Mahometanism,



TilE rK01*AGANDA FIIOM THE BEGINNING. 17

instead of subsiding, began to grow more menacing.
England, Scotland, and most of the Northern Kingdoms
of Europe ceased to be Catholic. The fires of the sanctuary
Avere completely quenched in Denmark, Prussia, Sweden,
Norway and several German Principalities. Ireland
sustained the full pressure of the power of England to
force her — though, thank God, in vain — to abjure the
Faith. Prance was in a state of civil war on account of
religion. Switzerland was divided, Hungary, Poland, and
Bohemia wavered. The work of real Reformation in
purely Catholic countries; the repression of attempts at
schism from Avithout and disorder from within; occupied
the common Father of the Faithful unceasingly. It Avas
Avhen the difficulties of his position increased to such an
extent^ that it Avas morally impossible for him to attend
any longer, personally, to everything required for the
purpose of spreading the Faith, that he at last called in
the assistance of a special Congregation to assist him in a
Avork Avhich his predecessors had at all periods of their
preAdous history discharged by themselves alone.

Gregory XIII. filled the Chair of St, Peter at the
period Avlien the Avork of the evangelization of the
nations pressed lieaAiest. He may be said to have
employed himself solely in that Avork. For the Avants of
the Germans and Hungarians he had, out of his OAvn re-
sources, founded and perpetually endoAved a magnificent
College Avliich still subsists in Rome. He formed the
English College for the resuscitation of the Faith in Britain ;
the Polish College for the Poles ; and for the vast missions
then evangelized by the zeal of the ncAvly formed Society
of Jesus, he built and endoAved the magnificent Roman
College of the Gesu, Avherein he placed no less than three
hundred cells for students and twenty auditories for

B



18 SPOLIATION OF THE PKOPAGANDA. .

instruction. Out of this went the men whose eloquence
resounded along the banks of the Rhine, and whose holy
lives, boundless zeal and great learning won back millions
in the German Fatherland to the Faith. Thence, too, went
forth the men who penetrated into the heart of the old
civilization of China, to the East and West Indies, and to
the fastnesses and virgin forests of the newly-discovered
tribes of America. Gregory XIII. embraced in his zeal
the East as well as the West. He founded in Rome
Colleges for the Greeks, and for the Maronites of Mount
Libanus. Nor did he forget, in his care for far off nations,
the claims of his o^vn See. The Jews of Ghetto and
the youth of Rome have to thank his great heart for
permanent means established for their care and education.
He was the patron of physical science as well as of sacred
studies ; and to him, to Gregory XIII. , Hugo Buoncom-
pagno, the modern world is indebted for the reformation
of the Calendar on a basis more correct than that attempted
before him by a man more famous, but not so great in
works of real utility, Julius C?esar, the first of the rulers
of Imperial Rome.

The work of what may be called the Foreign Missions
Increased to such overwhelming proportions through the
snhghtened Christian zeal of thisgreat Pope, that he found
himself compelled to call in the assistance of a few
Cardinals, and to commit to their vigilance the duty of
watching over the Propagation of the Faith. These
Cardinals could be scarcely called a Congregation. They
were more a kind of committee of vigilance to keep the
Pope posted in what should be effected by the centre of
unity for the evangelization of the world. But the idea had
its origin in the necessity which forced the Pontiff to call
them together at all, and it soon produced its fruit. The



Tin: PROPACANDA FK(),M THK BEGINNINC. 19

successors of Gregory Avere forced to advert to it from the
impossibility of dealing Avith every case ; and at last
Gregory XV., of the famous Bologncse family, of the
Ludovisi, determined to found a real, formal, Sacred Con-
gregation, for the work which we may call the Foreign
Office of the Church. He not only established it, but con-
ferred the most ample powers upon it, and gave it large
means to commence that beneficent action, which was soon
everywhere felt in the immense regions over which it
exercised the paternal solicitude of the Vicar of Christ.

Gregory XV. founded the Sacred Congregation of the
Propaganda by a Bull bearing date July 22nd, 1622.
In this he clearly made known, that his intention was to
establish a department of Church administration and action
which should assiduously attend to the important duty,
hitherto discharged by his predecessors alone, without
special organized assistance, of extending the Faith in
countries where it did not exist, and of restoring it in places
where it may have been lost or injured. The duty of the
Congregation was, according to the words of this Bull,
"to study diligently, that those sheep miserably wandering
" away should again return to the Fold of Christ, and
" acknowledge the Lord and the Shepherd of the Flock,
" to devise the best means by which, through the influence
" of Divine grace, they may cease to wander through the
" endless pasturages of infidelity and heresy, drinking the
" deadly waters of pestilence, and be placed in the pasturage
" of true faith and salutary doctrine, and be brought to the
" fountains of the water of life."

The Ajypimti or Memoranda published by the Sacred
Congregation recently, in reference to the definite sentence
of the Italian Masonic Court of Appeal, to which it applied
for relief against the action of the Government, state : —



20 SPOLIATION OF THE PROPAGANDA.

"For this end, he (Gregory XV.) wished to depute in
" his name a Congregation of Cardinals, who unitedly
" should exercise the greater portion of the Apostolic
" Ministry, that most noble office, which, up to that time,
" his predecessors had discharged by themselves and
" without the ministry of others."

The Appimti, afterwards, quote other passages of the
Bull of Gregory XV., who thus continues : —

"For even although by the pastoral vigilance,
" assistance, study, and exertions of the R-oman Pontiffs,
" our predecessors, of happy memory, it was provided that
" so many harvests should not be in want of labourers in
"the past, and our successors can also do the same, we
" have thought it well to commit to the special solicitude
" of a certain numl^er of our venerable brethren, Cardinals
" of the Holy Roman Church, this particular business, as
" by the tenor of these presents we do commit and do give
" over to them. Desiring that, congregated together, and
"using also the assistance of certain prelates of the Roman
" Court, religious men, and a secretary (as we ourselves
" have desired, and named them for the first time), they
" should consult together, and watch over so great a matter
" together with us, and in the best possible manner that it
" can be done, attend to a work so holy and so exceedingly
' pleasing to the Divine Majesty. For the more convenient
"discharge of which duty let them hold congregations
" every month — once before us, and twice at least in the
"house of the senior Cardinal amongst themselves — and
" there learn and treat of all and every affair appertaining
" to the Propagation of the Faith throughout the world.
" Let them refer the graver affairs which they shall have
" treated in the above-mentioned house to Us, but other
"matters let them decide and despatch by themselves,



THE P110PAGA>;!)A FlIO?,! THE BEGINNING. 1^1

*' according to their own prudence. Let them superintend all
" missions for preaching and teaching the Gospel and the
*' Catholic doctrine, and constitute and change the necessary
''Ministers. For We, by Apostolic authority, concede and
"imj^art, by the tenor of these presents, full, free, and
" ample faculty, authority, and power of doing, carrying on,
" treating, acting, and executing both the above-named, as
" well as all and every other matter, even if such should be
" a matter which requires a specific and express mention."
" But, in order that a business of such moment, in
" which great expenses are necessarily contracted by the
"happy commutation of temporal with spiritual things,
'' may not be retarded by any impediment, and may proceed
" more easily and speedily, bej^ond that Avliich we have
" already ordered to be supplied from our private means,
" and that which is given by the liberality of the pious
*' faithful, and that aid which for the future we confide, will
" not be wanting, as the affair is our own and that of this
" Holy See, we contribute to this work certain revenues for
" ever from our Apostolic resources."

The Ajjj^imti commenting on this, say : —
" The Pontiff", then, constituting the Propaganda the
" organic means for discharging the Apsotolate amongst the
" infidel and heterodox, ever fixed to it a sublime ministry
" which was a substantial part of the spiritual sovereignty
" received for the government of the Church ; and that
" to such great extent, that regarding it with respect to
' the territory over which it exercises jurisdiction, it can be
" said, without fear of error, that, in four at least out of the
" five parts of the world, the government of the Church is
" held and administered by the Propaganda. The power is
" so great and so unreserved, that all and every matter apper-
" taining to the propagation of the Faith in the universal


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Online LibraryGeorge F DillonWar of antichrist with the Church and Christian civilization : lectures delivered in Edinburgh in October 1884 → online text (page 19 of 26)