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).

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Urban VIII (1623-44), Pope.

J. McCabe, Rationalists Encyclopaedia

He deserves special attention for two reasons. Apologists for his condemnation of Galileo represent him as a patron of science and a man of high character, who was quite pained at Galileo - they say - forcing the issue upon the Church; and, as his pontificate comes after the supposed Counter-Reformation and purification of Rome, the question of his true character is doubly interesting. It is shown, in the article Galileo, that the aged scientist did not provoke action by the Church, and that, instead of Urban treating him "with every consideration," he directed the whole persecution with great cruelty because he believed that Galileo had made fun of his pretence of a knowledge of astronomy. All Rome despised his abnormal conceit and arrogance - his slight patronage of culture was merely part of his pose as a great monarch - and the latest Catholic historian of the Papacy, Hayward (History of the Popes, 1931), very severely criticizes him and finds that, owing to his conduct, "the Papacy began to abandon the guidance of the world." Even the Catholic Encyclopaedia, though its articles on the Popes are gross, charges Urban with "excessive nepotism." It is a mild expression for the way in which he promoted the fortunes of his utterly corrupt family, the Barberini, by a colossal diversion of Church funds, and, from the Catholic point of view, to the very gravest detriment of the Church. Ranke shows that the income of his brother and three nephews rose from 20,000 to 400,000 crowns a year, and that they heaped up a fortune of, in modern money, about £100,000,000 (The Popes of Rome, II, 396, etc.). Rome and all Italy cursed the Pope. Indeed the whole Church hated and abused this "serene friend of science," as some of the apologists represent him, because a very large part of the wealth he showered upon his worthless family was a great fund collected by earlier Popes for the success of the war against the Protestants. The war ended in a compromise, or the victory of the Protestant powers, largely because of his refusal of the money and because he preferred the profit of his family to the fortunes of the Catholic powers. The Cambridge Modern History exposes his conduct and quotes him as actually saying, in a public speech at Rome, that Gustavius [sic-RW] Adolphus, the great Protestant champion, was "rendering to Christian Rome services like those of Camillus to the pagan city" (IV, 68). For other authorities see McCabe's History of the Popes (1939, pp. 442-6).


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