Joseph McCabe (1867-1955) was one of the most prolific authors of all time. He was brought up as a Roman Catholic, worked on Latin documents, and made himself very well-informed about Christianity, but turned against it. But he was extremely naive about Jews; bear this in mind.

Click for Detailed notes on McCabe - scroll down for selections from A Rationalist Encyclopaedia (1948).

Here's the full A Rationalist Encyclopaedia (about 1.3 MBytes; Word format; includes notes on some of its limits)

Death-Sentence on Heretics.

J. McCabe, Rationalists Encyclopaedia

It is too often assumed, or accepted from unscrupulous Catholic propagandists - few of the laity know the law of their own Church - that the Roman Church has, like all others, abandoned the principle that heretics must be put to death. The apologist now commonly asserts that in the Middle Ages, when the community is supposed to have been solidly and deeply pious, "princes and peoples" urged the Church to protect them by executing heretics. This is a particularly mean untruth [see Inquisition], and the inference that is suggested, that the great diversity of opinions in a modern State has entailed a change of attitude, is false. It is equally deceitful to point out that in the English translation (published in America) of the Canon Law, the death-sentence is not found. As explained in the article Canon Law, this edition contains only the domestic law of the Church, and in any case it expressly states that it does not abrogate any law that is "of divine right," as the law of the death-sentence is claimed to be. This part of Canon Law is still under the veil of a dead language, but it is by no means left in mediaeval tomes. It is continually reprinted, and is still emphatically taught in the Gregorian (Papal) University at Rome and in all colleges for advanced clerical pupils. Fr. Marianus de Luca, the author of the Latin version published by the Vatican Press in two stout volumes in 1901, with a letter of approval from the Pope, was professor of the subject in the Gregorian University. In several passages and at great length he reproves liberal Catholics who say that the Church has surrendered "the right of the sword," and argues that the Church has the right and the duty to put heretics - by which Catholic law means apostates - to death (Vol. I, pp. 132 and 270). This is the most authoritative exposition of Church Law as it is to-day. The second most authoritative work of recent years, that of Cardinal L‚picier, entirely agrees. After proving that apostates "may justly be put to death" (p. 194), he completes the repulsive teaching by claiming that they are all in "bad faith," since "no one can lose the faith except by the very gravest sin" (De Stabilitate et Progressa Dogmatis, 1910, p. 201). Yet, while this manual is in actual service in Canadian and American seminaries, the Catholic apologists in America deny the fact, and an association (the Calvert Associates) which goes beyond all others in mendacity, and says that it was just "unscrupulous politicians" who, during the Reformation struggle, were responsible for past executions (The Calvert Handbook of Catholic Facts, 1926, p. 66), is sponsored by Dr. Nicholas Murray Butler, President of Columbia University, and several other American professors. It is a milder untruth to say that the Church merely judges a man heretical and the State imposes the lethal punishment. Fr. de Luca insists that the Church itself has "the right of the sword"; and, lest an opponent of the Church who has not been baptized in it should think himself safe, he explains that in a Catholic country (Italy or Spain to-day) unbelievers may be "compelled to accept the faith," when they at once come under the savage law. Only fear of the consequences in Great Britain and America restrains the present fanatical Pope from enforcing this law in Spain, but the end is attained by charging the culprits with Bolshevism.

 

Back to Joseph McCabe extracts

Home Page

Scanning, HTML Rae West. First upload 98-06-15