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)

Innocent III (1160-1216), Pope.

J. McCabe, Rationalists Encyclopaedia

From the Catholic point of view Innocent, of noble family and thorough religious sincerity, was the greatest of the Popes; and his career illustrates the fact that the virtuous Popes generally did more harm than the vicious and were quite unscrupulous in the means they employed. On the lines traced by Gregory VII he carried the power of the Papacy to its height, claiming supreme dominion in secular as well as religious matters. No one questions that he sought this power in order that the Popes could enforce virtue upon the world, but the thirteenth century - he was elected in 1198-proved to be one of the most immoral in history , and the Church secured no advance whatever in social justice. His extant letters (in Migne), which number more than 5,000, repeatedly bemoan the corruption of the age. For the failure of his moral campaign the pious unscrupulousness of many of his own major acts was largely responsible. His first act was to crush the century-old attempt of the Romans to win secular self-government. He next induced the Emperor's widow, Constance, a priest-ridden weakling, to make Sicily a fief of the Papacy and nominate him guardian of her boy, Frederic II , with a fee of £30,000 a year; and at her death he encouraged, if he did not invite (as is affirmed in the contemporary Chronique d'Ernoul, Ch. XXX), a French adventurer to seize Frederic's Sicilian throne and a German to seize his Empire. He made the appalling excuse that an oath of loyalty to an infant (his engagement to protect Frederic's rights) was not binding (Epp. X, 8). His diplomatic relations with England (see the special study of these, E. Gutschow's Innocent III und England, 1904) and France were not much more scrupulous, and it was he who incited and most unjustly directed the ghastly Albigensian Massacre . We have the letter (Ep., XI, 232) in which he instructs his Legate to trap Raymond of Toulouse by a lie. It was he who had the chief part in developing the sale of indulgences, and he was the virtual founder of the Inquisition. The Crusade he summoned ended in a revolting sack of Christian Constantinople, and he promised to overlook the savagery of his Crusaders if they could secure the submission of the Greek Church to Rome. In the end he could not even plead that he left the world better than he had found it. Milman's treatment of this Pope in his History of Latin Christianity is sound, but the chief work in English is C. H. C. Pine-Gordon's Innocent the Great (1907), which should be corrected by Prof. Luchaire's monumental Innocent III (6 vols., 1904-8). McCabe's Crises in the History of the Papacy (1916) has a long chapter on Innocent (Ch. IX) with the evidence.


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