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In short, you yourselves, my venerable brethren, who are in the habit of forwarding to the Holy See, at stated intervals, everything calculated to interest religion,-you know, by the repeated answers which our Congregational Council has returned either to yourselves or your predecessors, how much the holy Romish Church rejoices, in concert with the Bishops, when they have in their dioceses theologians who acquit themselves with honour of their duty in expounding the holy Books, and that she neglects no opportunity of encouraging and supporting them.
But, to return to Bibles translated into the vulgar tongue, it is long since Pastors found themselves necessitated to turn their attention particularly to the versions current at secret conventicles, and which heretics laboured, at great expense, to dissemiuate.
Hence the warning and decrees of our predecessor, Innocent III., of happy memory, on the subject of laysocieties and meetings of women, who had assembled themselves in the diocess of Mentz for objects of piety and the study of the Holy Scriptures. Hence the prohibitions which subsequently appeared in France and Spain, during the sixteenth century, with respect to the vulgar Bible, (relativement aux Bibles vulgaires). It became necessary subsequently to take even greater precautions, when the pretended Reformers, Luther and Calvin, daring by a multiplicity and incredible variety of errors, to attack the immutable doctrine of the faith, omitted nothing in order to seduce the faithful by their false interpretations and translations into the vernacular tongues, which the then novel invention of printing contributed more rapidly to propagate and multiply. Whence it was generally laid down in the regulations dictated by the Fathers, adopted by the Council of Trent, and approved by our predecessor Pius VII., of happy memory, and which (regulations) are prefixed to the List of Prohibited Books, that the reading of the Holy Bible, translated into the vulgar tongue, should not be permitted, except to those whom it might be deemed necessary
to confirm in the faith and piety. Subsequently, when heretics still persisted in their frauds, it became necessary for Benedict XIV. to superadd the injunction that no versions whatever should be suffered to be read, but those which should be approved of by the Holy See, accompanied by notes derived from the writings of the holy Fathers, or other learned and Catholic authors. Notwithstanding this, some new sectarians of the school of Jansenius, after the example of the Lutherans and Calvinists, feared not to blame these justifiable precautions of the Apostolical See, as if the reading of the holy books had been at all times, and for all the faithful, useful, and so indispensable that no authority could assail it.
But we find this audacious assertion of the sect of Jansenius withered by the most rigorous censures, in the solemn sentence which was pronounced against their doctrine, with the assent of the whole Catholic universe, by two sovereign Pontiffs of modern times, Clement XI., in his Unigenitus constitution of the year 1713, and Pius VI., in his constitution Auctorem fidei of the year 1794.
Consequently, even before the establishment of Bible Societies was thought of, the decrees of the Church, which we have quoted, were intended to guard the faithful against the frauds of heretics who cloak themselves under the specious pretext that it is necessary to propagate and render common the study of the holy books. Since then, our predecessor, Pius VII. of glorious memory, observing the machinations of these societies to increase under his pontificate, did not cease to oppose their efforts, at one time through the medium of the Apostolical Nuncios, at another by letters and decrees, emanating from the several congregations of Cardinals of the Holy Church, and at another by two pontifical letters addressed to the Bishop of Gnesen and the Archbishop of Mohilif. After him, another of our holy predecessors, Leo XII., reproved the operations of the Bible Societies, by his circulars, addressed to all the Catholic Pastors in the universe, under date May 5th, 1824.
Shortly afterwards, our immediate predecessor, Pius VIII., of happy memory, confirmed their condemnation by his circular letter of May 24th, 1829. We, in short, who succeeded them, notwithstanding our great unworthiness, have not ceased to be solicitous on this subject, and have especially studied to bring to the recollection of the faithful, the several rules which have been successively laid down with regard to the vulgar versions of the holy books.
We have good cause, however, to rejoice, venerable brethren, inasmuch as, supported by your piety, and confirmed by the letters of our several predecessors, which we have referred to, you have never neglected to caution the flock which has been intrusted to you, against the insidious manœuvres of the Bible Societies. This solicitude of the Bishops seconding with so much zeal the solicitude of our Holy See, has been blessed by the Lord. Already several imprudent Catholics who had gone over to these Societies, enlightened at last as to their objects, have separated themselves from them for ever, and the remainder of the faithful, with very few exceptions, have escaped from the contagion by which they were threatened.
The partisans of the Bible Societies little doubted, in their pride, but that they could at least bring over the faithful to the profession of Christianity, by means of the sacred books translated into the vernacular tongue; moreover they took care to disseminate them by innumerable copies, and to distribute them everywhere, even amongst those who wanted them not, at the hands of their missionaries, or rather their emissaries. But the men who strove to propagate the Christian faith independently of the rules established by Jesus Christ himself, have only succeeded in increasing the difficulties of the Catholic priest, who, clothed with the mission of the Holy See, goes amongst the unfaithful, and spares no fatigue in order to conquer new children for the Church, either by preaching the divine word, or by administering the sacraments, always prepared, at all events, to shed his blood for the salAUGUST-1845.
vation of souls, and the testimony of the faith. Amongst the sectarians of whom we are speaking, deceived in their hopes and in despair at the immense sums which the publication of their Bibles costs them, without producing any fruit, some have been found, who, giving another direction to their manoeuvres, have betaken themselves to the corruption of minds, not only in Italy, but even in our own capital. Indeed many precise advices and documents teach us, that a vast number of members of sects in New York, in America, at one of their meetings held on the 4th of June last year, have formed a new Association, which will take the name of the "Christian League," (Fœderis Christiani,) a league composed of individuals of every nation, and which is to be further increased in numbers by other Auxiliary Societies, all having the same object, namely, to propagate amongst Italians, and especially Romans, the principles of Christian liberty, or rather an insane indifference to all religion. These, indeed, confess, that the Roman institutions, as well as Italian, had in bygone times so much influence, that nothing great was done in the world, but had its origin in our august city. Not that they ascribe the fact to the Pontifical See, which was then founded by the disposition of God himself, but verily to some remains of the old Roman power, subsequently usurped, as they say, by our predecessors, who succeeded to that power.
This is why-determined to afford to all people liberty of conscience, (or rather it should be said, liberty to err,) from which, according to their theory, must flow, as from an inexhaustible source, public prosperity and political liberty-they think they should, before all things, win over the inhabitants of Rome and Italy, in order to avail themselves afterwards of their example and aid in regard to other countries.
They hope to attain this result easily by favour of the Italians scattered over the world. They flatter themselves that on returning in large numbers to their country, and bearing with them whether the exaltation
of novelty, corruption of manners, or the excitement of want, they would hardly hesitate to affiliate themselves to the League, and at least second it through venality. This Society strains every nerve to introduce amongst them, by means of individuals collected from all parts, corrupt and vulgar Bibles, and to scatter them secretly amongst the faithful. At the same time their intention is to disseminate worse books still, or tracts designed to withdraw from the minds of their readers all respect for the church and the Holy See. These books and tracts have been composed in Italian, or translated into Italian from other languages, with the aid of Italians themselves; and amongst these books should be particularly cited, The History of the Reformation," by Merle D'Aubigny, and Calendar of the Reformation in Italy," (Fastes de la Reforme en Italie,) by Jean Cric.* As for the character of these works, it is sufficient to know that, according to the records of the Society of which we are speaking, the commission intrusted with the choice of books for publication, cannot count upon more than one individual belonging to one and the same religious belief.
Scarcely were we made aware of these facts, but we were profoundly grieved on reflecting upon the danger which threatened not only remote countries, but the very centre of unity itself; and we have been anxious to defend religion against the like manœuvres. Although there be no reason to apprehend the destruction of St. Peter's See at any time, in which the Lord our God has placed the immoveable foundation of his Church,
*Jean Cric. Our readers will smile at this somewhat ludicrous blunder of His Infallibility, when we inform them that this identical John Cric is none other than the celebrated writer, Dr. Thomas M'Crie, author of the History of the Reformation in Spain, and also in Italy. In the Index of Prohibited Books, Dr. M'Crie's name is more accurately printed : Macerie, Thomas, Istoria del Progresso e della Estinzione della Reforma, in Italia, nel secolo sedicesimo, tradotto dall' Inglese. Decr. xxii., Septembris 1, 1836.-Index Librorum prohibitorum, p. 235. Rome, 1841.-EDIT.
yet we are bound to maintain its authority. The holy duties of our apostolic ministry remind us of the awful account which the sovereign Prince of shepherds will exact of us for the growing tares which an enemy's hand may have sown in the Lord's field during our sleep, and for the sheep which are intrusted to us, if any perish through our fault.
Wherefore, having consulted some of the Cardinals of the Holy Romish Church, after having duly examined with them everything, and listened to their advice, we have decided, venerable brothers, on addressing you this letter, by which we again condemn the Bible Societies, reproved long ago by our predecessors, and, by virtue of the supreme authority of our apostleship, we reprove by name and condemn the aforesaid Society called the "Christian League," formed last year at New York; together with every other Society associated with it, or which may become so.
Let all know, then, the enormity of the sin against God and the Church which they are guilty of who dare to associate themselves with any of these Societies, or abet them in any way. Moreover, we confirm and renew the decrees recited above, delivered in former times by apostolical authority against the publication, distribution, reading, and possession of books of the Holy Scriptures translated into the vulgar tongue. With reference
to the works of whatsoever writer, we call to mind the observance of the general rules and decrees of our predecessors, to be found prefixed to the "Index of Prohibited Books;" and we invite the faithful to be upon their guard, not only against the books named in the Index, but also against those comprised in the general prescriptions.
As for yourselves, my venerable brethren, called as you are to divide our solicitude, we recommend you earnestly in the Lord to announce and proclaim, in convenient time and place, to the people confided to your care, these apostolic orders, and to labour carefully to separate the faithful sheep from the contagion of the Christian League, from those who
have become its auxiliaries, no less than those who belong to other Bible Societies, and from all who have any communication with them. You are consequently enjoined to remove from the hands of the faithful alike the Bibles in the vulgar tongue which may have been printed contrary to the decrees above-mentioned of the sovereign Pontiffs, and every book proscribed and condemned, and to see that they learn, through your admonition and authority, what pasturages are salutary, and what pernicious and mortal.
Be more careful every day to see, my venerable brothers, that the divine word be preached, not only by yourselves, but also by the various other pastors and competent ecclesiastics in each diocess. Watch attentively over those who are appointed to expound the Holy Scriptures, to see that they acquit themselves faithfully, according to the capacity of their hearers, and that they dare not, under any pretext whatever, interpret or explain the holy pages contrary to the tradition of the holy fathers, and to the service of the Catholic Church.
Finally as it is the part of a good shepherd not only to protect and feed the sheep which follow him, but also to seek and bring home to the fold those which wander from it, it becomes an undivided obligation on your part and on ours, to use all our endeavours to the end that, whoever may have allowed himself to be seduced by sectarians and propagators of evil books, may admit, under the influence of divine grace, the heinousness of his fault, and strive to expiate it by the atoning works of a salutary repentance.
We are bound not to exclude from our sacerdotal solicitude the seducers of our erring brethren, nor even the chief masters of impiety, whose salvation we should seek by every possible means, although their iniquity be far greater.
Moreover, venerable brothers, we recommend the utmost watchfulness over the insidious measures and attempts of the Christian League, to those who, raised to the dignity of
your order, are called to govern the Italian Churches, or the countries which Italians frequent most commonly, especially the frontiers and ports whence travellers enter Italy. As these are the points on which the sectarians have fixed to commence the realization of their projects, it is highly necessary that the Bishops of those places should mutually assist each other, zealously and faithfully, in order, with the aid of God, to discover and prevent their machinations.
Let us not doubt but that your exertions, added to our own, will be seconded by the civil authorities, and especially by the most influential sovereigns of Italy, no less by reason of their favourable regard for the Catholic religion, than that they plainly perceive how much it concerns them to frustrate their sectarian combinations. Indeed, it is most evident from past experience, that there are no means more certain of rendering the people disobedient to their Princes than by rendering them indifferent to religion, under the mask of religious liberty. The members of the Christian League do not conceal this fact from themselves, although they declare that they are far from wishing to excite disorder; but they, notwithstanding, avow that, once liberty of interpretation obtained, and with it what they term liberty of conscience, amongst Italians, these last will naturally soon acquire political liberty.
But above all, venerable brothers, let us elevate our hands to heaven, and commit to God, with all humility and the fervour of which we are susceptible, our cause, the cause of the whole flock of Jesus Christ and of his Church. Let us, at the same time, recur to the intercession of St. Peter, the Prince of the Apostles, as also to that of the other saints, especially to the blessed Virgin Mary, to whom it has been given to destroy all the heresies of the universe.
We conclude with giving you, with our whole heart, and as a pledge of our most ardent charity, the apostolic blessing; to you all, our venerable brethren, and to the faithful, alike
ecclesiastic and lay, committed to your jurisdiction.
Given at Rome from the Basilica of St. Peter, on the 8th of May, of the
year 1844, and the fourteenth of our Pontificate.
GREGORY XVI., S. P.
THE following extract, from an admirable Address to the Directors of the London Missionary Society, is well deserving of the serious attention of the friends of all Missionary Institutions
"But which of all your stations, can you, without involving us in unfaithfulness, abandon? Is it not enough, that you have been driven from Siberia, and from Madagascar ? Are not the West Indies all but ready to return your kindness, and, from beneficiaries, to become benefactors? Is not Le Brun left to labour alone in the Mauritius without your aid, where eighty or ninety thousand ignorant and demoralized people are as open to your zeal as is any English county, where you might have a field of labour for a dozen missionaries, and whence the Romish bishop has proceeded to Europe for a reinforcement of priests and schoolmasters, to bring over to a corrupt system those whom you might disciple to the truth? Shall we retreat from Oceanica, and leave the isles, so long and so successfully cultivated by us, to the Propagandists of Rome? Shall we curtail operations in Africa, and while our Wesleyan brethren are penetrating from the west into the king
doms of the Ashantis and of Dahomi, shall we retire from the Caffres and the Bechuanas in the south? Can we withdraw a single missionary from India, where our brethren are left to labour in depressing solitude, in stations demanding each a band of missionaries? and where scope might be found for the efficient operations of all the evangelical missionaries now scattered throughout the world? Or shall we, after having prayed so long that China might be thrown open to us, and after having been permitted to lead the way, as Protestants, in missionary zeal, retreat from that vast empire, just at the juncture when its entire seaboard is laid open, and when its prejudices are in course of being removed? and shall we curtail expenditure, while the Romish agent at Macao has £35,000 placed at his disposal for the year's operations in that empire? Where, then, can we curtail? Will the churches endure that we should curtail? While rich or poor has a single luxury left, surely curtailment will not be allowed? Shall not the last luxury be spared, rather than entertain the thought of diminishing our work of faith and labour of love?" "
THE most deplorable part of the Report relates the awful continuance of the Slave-trade, and the millions that are yet held in the direful bonds
of slavery. Africa is still annually robbed of from 300,000 to 400,000 of her children, to glut the cupidity or minister to the luxury of nominal Christians, and the followers of the false prophet. Two-thirds of this