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)

Damasus, Pope (ruled 366-84).

J. McCabe, Rationalists Encyclopaedia

He is the first Pope, though the thirty-seventh in the list, of whose character or personality we have reliable and fairly ample knowledge. Although he, like nearly all his predecessors, is inscribed in the calendar of Saints, he was a man of unscrupulous character, and his story illustrates the generally low moral quality of the new Church established by Constantine. It is an ironic reflection on Catholic descriptions of the early Roman Church that the only predecessor of Damasus about whom we have some detailed knowledge - left us by his contemporary and rival, Bishop Hippolytus (Refutation of All Heresies, Bk. IX, Ch. VII) - "St." Callistus (217-22), was equally poor in character. By the year 366, when Damasus, a priest of Spanish extraction, obtained the Pontificate, the Roman See was rich. The contemporary and austere Roman writer Ammianus Marcellinus, commenting on the appallingly savage electoral fight for the Papacy which took place, says that the Roman bishops lived like princes (Res Gestae, XXVII, 3) and the intrigue for the position of Pope was fierce. St. Jerome, secretary of Damasus, briefly confirms the account of the massacres in his Chronicle (year 366), and the full and extraordinary story is told by two Roman priests in a petition to the Emperor (in Migne, Libellus Precum, vol. XIII). The only difference between them is whether the supporters of Damasus, at the election, murdered 137 or 160 of his rival's supporters. Some years later, in 378, the Pope was charged in the civil court at Rome with adultery, as the semi-official Pontifical Chronicle admits. Even Mgr. Duchesne (History of the Christian Church, II, 371) falsely says that we do not know the charge, and the Catholic Encyclopaedia, which admits the charge, untruthfully says that the Emperor, on receiving an appeal, tried and acquitted the Pope. The rescript of the docile and youthful Emperor, Gratian, shows that, under pressure from St. Ambrose to avert scandal, he held no trial, but quashed the proceedings. The petitioning priests say that the Pope was familiarly known in his Church as" the tickler of matrons' ears," and Jerome describes the Church as extraordinarily corrupt in both clergy and laity. It was this Pope who reopened the Catacombs , and the highest Catholic authorities admit that his stories of the martyrs were fictitious. Mgr. Duchesne maliciously adds that the quality of the poetry in which he glorified them was as bad as his history.


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