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)

Avignon, The Popes at (1309-77).

J. McCabe, Rationalists Encyclopaedia

Historians who repeat the Catholic claim that the thirteenth century is the greatest in history fail to explain why it closed with and was followed by a long period of degradation of the Papacy and ruin of the city of Rome. Boniface VIII (1294-1303), one of the most depraved and sceptical of the Popes , was soon followed by Clement V, who secured the tiara by a corrupt deal with Philip of France and was obliged to transfer his Court to that country. In order to evade paying the price he had promised - public exposure of the vices of Boniface VIII and of the Knights Templars - he fled to Avignon. The principality of Avignon had until that time belonged to the Queen of Naples, but the Pope bought it from her for the ridiculous sum of £40,000 - it contained several towns besides the rich city of Avignon - and, which was the real price, a promise of absolution for her notorious crimes and vices. The sojourn of the Popes in the city for more than sixty years is called by the older Catholic historians "the Babylonian Captivity," though it was voluntary, and they admit that it was one of the very corrupt periods of Papal history. The famous Italian scholar Petrarch, one of the most respected men of the age, then lived in exile near Avignon, and he has left us a shuddering indictment of its vices, natural and unnatural, in his Latin Letters Without a Title. This is one of the hundreds of documents of great interest which tell the true character of the Middle Ages that have never been translated into English. Few pictures in the history of morals are more repellent. Even when fairly respectable Popes were on the throne the Papal Court remained sordid. See also Les Papes d'Avignon (1914), by O. Mollat (Catholic), and La prostitution du XIII au XVII siècle (1908), by Dr. L. Le Pileur (who reproduces amazing documents from the city archives). It is a Catholic fable that the prayers of St. Catherine of Siena drew the Popes back to Italy. Rome, stung by the progress and prosperity of North Italy while it remained on the level of a village, threatened again to reject their authority if they did not return.


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