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)

Papal States, The.

J. McCabe, Rationalists Encyclopaedia

The provinces of Central Italy which the Popes owned and ruled from the time of Charlemagne to the nineteenth century. Gregory I [see] won very extensive tracts for the Papacy in different parts of Italy, but royal power over about one-third of Italy was secured, mainly by forged documents, from the ignorant Frank monarchs, Pepin and Charlemagne [see] in the eighth century. Pope Stephen III (752-7), who had urged Pepin to usurp the French throne and then found him unwilling to come to Italy to wrest from the Lombards the provinces which the Pope coveted, sent to that profoundly ignorant monarch a letter which purported to have been written by St. Peter himself and sent miraculously from heaven. When the Lombards recovered the cities and territory which Pepin gave to the Papacy, Pope Stephen IV got them back by, at the request of the Lombards, horribly mutilating and killing the two leading officials of his Court who were anti-Lombard. The same official Pontifical Book which tells us that Stephen was "a chaste and holy monk" - from such tributes are the biographies of the early Popes in the Catholic Encyclopaedia compiled - tells us also that Stephen's successor, Pope Hadrian, a much greater man, is our authority for this horrible outrage (Duchesne's edition, I, 487). But the Lombards did not pay the price in full, and Hadrian summoned Charlemagne. It is admitted even by Catholic historians, since its contents are preposterous, that the document, the Donation of Constantine [see], which Hadrian now produced as the basis of his claims, was a forgery. This not only fatally weakened the very promising Lombard civilization [see] but, by enriching the Papacy, made the Papal elections for centuries a series of sordid squabbles, and turned Central Italy for eleven centuries into "a battlefield of the transalpine and the stranger" (Milman's). Incalculable misery and bloodshed were caused as the Popes appealed in turn to Franks, Germans, Normans, French - even Danes and Hungarians - to recover their profitable dominion for them. But the most ironic feature of the story is that the Popes, who now pose as the moral-social oracles of kings and States, left their own Kingdom, while it lasted, in the foulest condition. Napoleon abolished the Temporal Power, but the Holy Alliance restored it; and there is not a dissentient voice among historians that it was, in the words of the British Ambassador, Lord Clarendon, "the opprobrium of Europe"; that Rome itself was, in the words of the austere French priest Lamennais, quoted approvingly by the Catholic Lady Blennerhassett in the Cambridge Modern History (X, 164), "the most hideous sewer that ever offended the eye of man"; and that the Popes, in defending it to the last, were, in the words of the Catholic Lord Acton, "worse than the accomplices of the Old-Man of the Mountains," and "contrived murder and massacre on the largest and also on the most cruel and inhuman scale" (Selections from the Correspondence of the First Lord Acton, 1917, 1, 55). The description, upon which the contemporary Italian historians and statesmen (Farini, D'Azeglio, Cantur, and Balbo), as well as recent experts on the period (Bishop Nielsen, Prof. Orsi, Prof. Croce, Bolton King, Thayer, Okey, etc.), agree, may be read in the authoritative pages of the Cambridge Modern History. Nowhere in Europe were there more banditry and crime, denser ignorance, more corrupt (clerical) officials, or more venal courts. There were more murders in a month than there had been in a year under the French, and there were "80,000 barbarous and conflicting laws." There were at one time 6,000 rebels in the overcrowded jails, and men condemned to twenty years were chained to the wall and not released even for sanitary purposes. Sir Edward Dicey (Rome in 1860) says that he found Rome "one of the most corrupt, debauched, and demoralized of cities" (p. 35). Lady Blennerhassett quotes the worst features from the diary of Cardinal Scala; and Mgr. Liverani agrees in his book, Il Papato e il Regno d'Italia (1861). In 1856 Prussia, Russia, Austria, France, and England, the "heretic countries," addressed a sharp admonition to these Popes, who are now the world's social oracles, to bring their Kingdom a little nearer the level of civilization! Such was the dominion for the loss of which (and for coming services) Mussolini paid the Vatican 19,000,000. And it had not been taken from the Popes even on the approved lines of conquest. Italy conducted a plebiscite in each province, and in an overwhelming majority the inhabitants voted for transfer from the Popes to the Kingdom of Italy. Catholic writers say that the Italian Catholics, under orders, abstained from voting. The truth is that in the city of Rome itself 40,785 (or four-fifths of the adult males) voted against the Pope, and forty-six for him: in the Roman province 133,681, against him, and 1,507 for him. There was very little abstention. Yet the Italian Government awarded the Pope 120,000 a year, which no Pope would take until Pius XI, who accepted the accumulated sum and interest in order to enter into alliance with an unscrupulous adventurer and arch-murderer. See, for the last century, Bishop Nielsen's History of the Papacy in the Nineteenth Century (2 vols., 1906), W. R. Thayer's Dawn of Italian Independence (2 vols., 1893), F. Nippold's Papacy in the Nineteenth Century (1900), and works mentioned in the text.


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