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In short, you yourselves, my venera- to confirm in the faith and piety. ble brethren, who are in the habit of Subsequently, when heretics still perforwarding to the Holy See, at stated sisted in their frauds, it became necesintervals, everything calculated to in- sary
for Benedict XIV. to superadd terest religion,-you know, by the the injunction that no versions whatrepeated answers which our Congre- ever should be suffered to be read, gational Council has returned either but those which should be approved to yourselves or your predecessors, of by the Holy See, accompanied by how much the holy Romish Church notes derived from the writings of the rejoices, in concert with the Bishops, holy Fathers, or other learned and when they have in their dioceses Catholic authors. Notwithstanding theologians who acquit themselves this, some new sectarians of the school with honour of their duty in expound- of Jansenius, after the example of the ing the holy Books, and that she Lutherans and Calvinists, feared not neglects no opportunity of encourag- to blame these justifiable precautions ing and supporting them.
of the Apostolical See, as if the readBut, to return to Bibles translated ing of the holy books had been at into the vulgar tongue, it is long since all times, and for all the faithful, usePastors found themselves necessitated ful, and so indispensable that no to turn their attention particularly to authority could assail it. the versions current at secret con- But we find this audacious asserventicles, and which heretics laboured, tion of the sect of Jansenius withered at great expense, to dissemiuate. by the most rigorous censures, in the
Hence the warning and decrees of solemn sentence which was proour predecessor, Innocent III., of nounced against their doctrine, with happy memory, on the subject of lay- the assent of the whole Catholic societies and meetings of women, who universe, by two sovereign Pontiffs of had assembled themselves in the dio- modern times, Clement XI., in his Unicess of Mentz for objects of piety and genitus constitution of the year 1713, the study of the Holy Scriptures. and Pius VI., in his constitution AucHence the prohibitions which subse- torem fidei of the year 1794. quently appeared in France and Spain, Consequently, even before the during the sixteenth century, with establishment of Bible Societies was respect to the vulgar Bible, (relative- thought of, the decrees of the Church, ment aux Bibles vulgaires). It became which we have quoted, were intended necessary subsequently to take even to guard the faithful against the greater precautions, when the pre- frauds of heretics who cloak themtended Reformers, Luther and Calvin, selves under the specious pretext that daring by a multiplicity and incredible it is necessary to propagate and render variety of errors, to attack the immu- common the study of the holy books. table doctrine of the faith, omitted Since then, our predecessor, Pius VII. nothing in order to seduce the faithful of glorious memory, observing the by their false interpretations and machinations of these societies to translations into the vernacular increase under his pontificate, did not tongues, which the then novel inven- cease to oppose their efforts, at one tion of printing contributed more time through the medium of the rapidly to propagate and multiply. Apostolical Nuncios, at another by Whence it was generally laid down letters and decrees, emanating from in the regulations dictated by the the several congregations of Cardinals Fathers, adopted by the Council of of the Holy Church, and at another Trent, and approved by our prede- by two pontifical letters addressed to cessor Pius VII., of happy memory, the Bishop of Gnesen and the Archand which (regulations) are prefixed bishop of Mohilif. After him, anoto the List of Prohibited Books, that therof our holy predecessors, Leo XII., the reading of the Holy Bible, trans- reproved the operations of the Bible lated into the vulgar tongue, should Societies, by his circulars, addressed not be permitted, except to those to all the Catholic Pastors in the whom it might be deemed necessary universe, under date May 5th, 1824. Shortly afterwards, our immediate vation of souls, and the testimony of predecessor, Pius VIII., of happy the faith. Amongst the sectarians of memory, confirmed their condemna- whom we are speaking, deceived in tion by his circular letter of May 24th, their hopes and in despair at the im1829. We, in short, who succeeded mense sums which the publication of them, notwithstanding our great un- their Bibles costs them, without proworthiness, have not ceased to be ducing any fruit, some have been solicitous on this subject, and have found, who, giving another direction especially studied to bring to the re- to their manæuvres, have betaken collection of the faithful, the several themselves to the corruption of minds, rules which have been successively not only in Italy, but even in our own laid down with regard to the vulgar capital. Indeed many precise advices versions of the holy books.
and documents teach us, that a vast We have good cause, however, to number of members of sects in New rejoice, venerable brethren, inasmuch York, in America, at one of their as, supported by your piety, and con- meetings held on the 4th of June last firmed by the letters of our several year, have formed a new Association, predecessors, which we have referred which will take the name of the to, you have never neglected to cau- “Christian League,” (Fæderis Christion the flock which has been intrusted tiani,) a league composed of individuto you, against the insidious man@u- als of every nation, and which is to vres of the Bible Societies. This be further increased in numbers by solicitude of the Bishops seconding other Auxiliary Societies, all having with so much zeal the solicitude of our the same object, namely, to propagate Holy See, has been blessed by the Lord. amongst Italians, and especially RoAlready several imprudent Catholics mans, the principles of Christian libwho had gone over to these Societies, erty, or rather an insane indifference enlightened at last as to their objects, to all religion. These, indeed, conhave separated themselves from them fess, that the Roman institutions, as for ever, and the remainder of the well as Italian, had in bygone times faithful, with very few exceptions, so much influence, that nothing great have escaped from the contagion by was done in the world, but had its which they were threatened.
origin in our august city. Not that The partisans of the Bible Societies they ascribe the fact to the Pontifical little doubted, in their pride, but that See, which was then founded by the they could at least bring over the disposition of God himself, but verily faithful to the profession of Christi- to some remains of the old Roman anity, by means of the sacred books
power, subsequently usurped, as they translated into the vernacular tongue ; say, by our predecessors, who sucmoreover they took care to dissemi- ceeded to that power. nate them by innumerable copies, This is why-determined to afford and to distribute them everywhere, to all people liberty of conscience, (or even amongst those who wanted them rather it should be said, liberty to err,) not, at the hands of their missionaries, from which, according to their theory, or rather their emissaries. But the must flow, as from an inexhaustible men who strove to propagate the source, public prosperity and political Christian faith independently of the liberty--they think they should, berules established by Jesus Christ fore all things, win over the inhabithimself, have only succeeded in in- ants of Rome and Italy, in order to creasing the difficulties of the Catho- avail themselves afterwards of their lic priest, who, clothed with the mis- example and aid in regard to other sion of the Holy See, goes amongst
countries. the unfaithful, and spares no fatigue They hope to attain this result in order to conquer new children for easily by favour of the Italians scatthe Church, either by preaching the tered over the world. They flatter divine word, or by administering the themselves that on returning in large sacraments, always prepared, at all numbers to their country, and bearevents, to shed his blood for the sal- ing 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 stiil, or tracts designed to withdraw from the minds oftheir readers all respectforthe 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 mancuvres. 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,
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
* 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.
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
GREGORY XVI., S. P.
The following extract, from an ad- doms of the Ashantis and of Dahomi, mirable Address to the Directors of shall we retire from the Caffres and the London Missionary Society, is the Bechuanas in the south? Can well deserving of the serious atten- we withdraw a single missionary from tion of the friends of all Missionary India, where our brethren are left to Institutions :
labour in depressing solitude, in sta“ But which of all your stations, tions demanding each a band of can you, without involving us in un- missionaries? and where scope might faithfulness, abandon ? Is it not be found for the efficient operations enough, that you have been driven of all the evangelical missionaries now from Siberia, and from Madagascar ? scattered throughout the world? Or Are not the West Indies all but ready shall we, after having prayed so long to return your kindness, and, from that China might be thrown open to beneficiaries, to become benefactors ? us, and after having been permitted to Is not Le Brun left to labour alone in lead the way, as Protestants, in misthe Mauritius without your aid, where sionary zeal, retreat from that vast eighty or ninety thousand ignorant empire, just at the juncture when its and demoralized people are as open entire seaboard is laid open, and when to your zeal as is any English county, its prejudices are in course of being where you might have a field of labour removed ? and shall we curtail expenfor a dozen missionaries, and whence diture, while the Romish agent at the Romish bishop has proceeded Macao has £35,000 placed at his disto Europe for a reinforcement of posal for the year's operations in that priests and schoolmasters, to bring empire ? Where, then, can we curtail? over to a corrupt system those whom Will the churches endure that we you might disciple to the truth? should curtail ? While rich or poor Shall we retreat from Oceanica, and has a single luxury left, surely curleave the isles, so long and so suc- tailment will not be allowed ? Shall cessfully cultivated by us, to the not the last luxury be spared, rather Propagandists of Rome? Shall we than entertain the thought of dimincurtail operations in Africa, and while ishing our work of faith and labour our Wesleyan brethren are pene- of love?'" trating from the west into the king
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