CENTER-SHOTS AT ROME


[pg. 60]

III.
THE PRIESTHOOD.
(1 Tim. 4:1-3, 2 Tim. 3:1-9.)

I was told this morning that there has been some speculation as to the text I would announce to-night. Friends, I know you mean well, and I appreciate your solicitude. But you need not lose any sleep over my texts. There is no law compelling a man to "take a text" when he preaches, and I, for one, would not hesitate to preach without a text if it were necessary. But in the discussion of the subjects before us it is not necessary to go bounding along without texts. There are texts a-plenty. They are piled up in the corners, they are lying around loose on the floors, they are hanging on the nails in the walls, they are everywhere in this [holding up the Bible] storehouse! And, if I can see straight, a number of the statements contained in

[pg. 61] the passages I have just read strikingly introduce this evening's theme.

Paul was a great preacher, a true prophet, a profound thinker, and a man of wonderful piety. But if he had any personal ambitions, he certainly lacked discretion. Had he not blundered along and written this scathing forecast of an order of men now historic in the church, he, instead of Peter, might have been the first pope. [Laughter.]

You will recall the reported* pronunciamento, from headquarters, that the third lecture of this series would not be delivered. The past week long and dreary, full of suspense, and like a hideous nightmare now lies buried, beside it ancestors, in the graveyard of time. Peace to its ashes, and may its ghost never return to scratch on the wall. [Laughter.] The moment for the forbidden lecture to begin is now at hand.




*The report that the assistant priest at Broad Street Cathedral had made the prediction above referred to had spread throughout the city, and all kinds of rumors were afloat concerning Mr. Rutledge's prospective assassination. The report reached a town sixty miles away, and one hundred men of the town organized themselves to protest the meeting in which this lecture was delivered. But Mr. Rutledge declined their services.


[pg. 62] And I wish to add that, if I don't pull off this little stunt, some mighty quick work will have to be done. [Prolonged Applause.]

Last Sunday night, when referring to just a little of the spectacular corruption connected with the Papal chair, I subpoenaed Roman Catholic historians as witnesses. To-night and next Sunday night, while calling on the Roman Church for some of the testimony needed and likewise drawing on other sources of information, I shall present at least three ex-priests as witnesses, and ask you, as a jury, to decide upon the merits of their testimony.

Father Chiniquy, who spent fifty years in the Roman Church, then devoted the remainder of his life to a refutation of her doctrines. He will be a special witness in the next lecture.

Father Donnelly, who was a priest fifteen years - the last five years of his ministry having been in All Saints' Church, Mercer, Pa. Before an immense audience, composed of Catholics and Protestants, in the town where he had


[pg. 63] lived and ministered and was universally respected, he renounced Roman Catholicism. He is, therefore, a reliable witness.

And when I mention the name of the third witness, I apprehend that those of you who are up to date in your reading will interrupt me by insisting that you have a right to make a noise with your hands. ["Crowley!" "Crowley!" was heard all over the house.] This man tried to reform the Catholic priesthood from within, and for a number of years he labored and hoped. He was a priest against whom his enemies could prefer no substantial charge, and he remained in the Roman priesthood until he was good and ready to quit it. He has a standing offer published far and wide of ten thousand dollars for any one who will prove that he was excommunicated, or that any of the charges published in his books are untrue. He is a Luther of America. He is the man most dreaded by the Catholic Church, because he knows the most about it, has the courage of his convictions, and enjoys the confidence of the American people. He


[pg. 64] is a strong man physically, and will doubtless live many years yet. He is an intellectual giant, a facile writer, and a powerful orator. His name is Jeremiah J. Crowley. [Tremendous applause.]

I have previously said that I am not speaking against Catholic people, but against Roman Catholicism the system. And I shall probably refer to this distinction on future occasions. For there are people here for the first time each Sunday night, and I want all to know what I'm shooting at. While, in one way and another, some Catholics seem to be gunning for me, I'm not gunning for Catholics, but for Roman Catholicism. And, judging from the profound silence with which my challenge to the Columbus priesthood has been received, I believe I have the game treed and am, now and then, making a center-shot. [Applause.]

A Catholic of good standing in the city said to an officer of this church, "Tell the preacher to go ahead he's telling the truth.'" [Applause.]

Also, last Sunday night, a gentleman


[pg. 65] said to another officer of the church, "I'm a Catholic. But I'm done with the whole dirty business." [Applause.]

And now, briefly as possible, let us look at this system in its relation to the priesthood.

All ex-priests and others who have examined the subject testify that Roman Catholic theology deals with subjects every pure young man should shun and in language anything but chaste.

A few weeks ago a gentleman a business man of high standing and an officer in a Protestant church told some other men and myself in yonder vestibule that he was partially educated for the Catholic priesthood; that in the further he got into the course all young priests must take, the more disgusting it became, and that finally he had to hold his nose and quit. [Applause.]

Donnelly, in his "Fifteen Years Behind the Curtains," says: "The whole moral code of Rome is so vile and sensual that it can not bear an English translation it has to be concealed away in Latin." And he adds: "Any bookstore


[pg. 66] that would venture to sell a literal translation of the moral theology of Gury or Scavani, both of which are standard class-books in Roman Catholic seminaries for the young levites of the Romish priesthood, would be prosecuted for selling obscene literature."

And as an early result of this immoral training, Crowley states on page 410 of his book, "Romanism a Menace to the Nation," that in American Catholic seminaries young priests form associations in which membership depends upon the applicant's ability to tell ribald stories.

Add to this seminary training the further facts that priests must wear the cloak of celibacy, and that the Catholic Church forgives sins on easy terms. Then add two other facts: (1) Priests are good livers (and high living does not diminish human propensities), and (2) no class of men on earth are kept in such constant touch with temptation as priests. And when you have finished all this adding, crown your pyramid of facts with still another, the greatest and


[pg. 67] most serious of all the priest is a man. He may wear his vest upside down [laughter] and his collar back side front [laughter], and read his book on the street-car and be called "Holy father"; but the fact remains, he's a man. [Applause.]

Now, we have linked with the Catholic priesthood the law of cause and effect. Let's see how it works.

The pope is a man. We have already seen how easy it is for him, staggering under the weight of this iniquitous system, to tumble down the back stairway. Bishop Purcell acknowledged that some of the popes were in hell. The parish priest is far removed, in rank, from the chair of infallibility. He's so far away the pope would have to look at him through a telescope. Therefore, why should any one expect him to carry the burden and not wabble? [Applause.]

Catholic historians, themselves, paint the priesthood of past centuries as black as they do the Papacy and that's saying a good deal. Scan the pages of history, and you will wonder that God did


[pg. 68] not strike the church with the lightning of his displeasure and blot it out of existence.

Pope Paul VI. decided to clean house. He issued an edict that every woman who had just cause to prefer charges against a priest should do so or suffer the humiliation of Papal censure. Rome was stirred from center to circumference. The charges were not wanting. It took ten clerks, who worked daily except on holy days four months to record the names of offending priests and the charges preferred, and still the task was not finished. The poor pope saw that he would have scarcely any priests left. And, deciding that it was the wrong time of year to clean house, he dropped his broom and took to the woods. [Laughter.]

The council of Cologne declared that the greatest evil of the sixteenth century was the impurity of the clergy.

Bellarmine, a Roman Catholic authority I now introduce for the first time, wrote: "In the one true church, the holy Roman Catholic Church, are great sin-



[pg. 69] ners, and that not only concealed, but manifest. The immoralities of the Roman Catholic priesthood have, time and again, been condemned by councils of the church, but to no purpose."

As we pursue history, we discover that the almighty river of priestly vice, which had its origin back in the centuries of this degrading system, gets wider as it flows on. And why should we seek pure water in a stream whose fountainhead is polluted?

And why linger back in an age that is gone? The system is the same it is the proud boast of Romanism that it never changes. The priests are men, just as they were in the sixteenth century, and human nature is the same. The law of cause and effect is unchanged. From what viewpoint, therefore, can it be argued that the river of priestly iniquity has dried up and that where it once rolled in unterrified gaiety, there now blooms a golden streak of fragrant daisies? [Laughter.]

Missionaries and tourists all tell the same story informing us that on the


[pg. 70] mission fields, and especially in Catholic-ridden countries, it is an open secret that priests are intemperate and immoral men.

After returning from his Southern tour, Robert E. Speer wrote: "Whatever may be the case in other lands, evidence, legally convincing and morally sickening, confronting one in every district, proves that in South America the stream of the church is polluted at its fountains."

"But that's down on the other side of the big ditch. Come back home, and tell us of the situation here," I fancy you are saying. All right. We will walk about in the United States awhile. The trail's getting hot now, and the hunt's interesting. [Applause.]

One night, after twelve o'clock, during my younger years, I happened to be in the Turkish bath department of a Catholic hospital, when I personally saw a half-dozen priests drink until they were intoxicated, and heard them compare experiences and tell stories that would have caused "Holy Terror Jim" and "Pizen Pete" of the ranch, fifty years


[pg. 71] ago, to have acknowledged that they had lost the art of vulgarity.

During my first pastorate, in a western New York town, I was spending the day at the home of a member of the church who lived in the country. Just after dinner the little son of the hired man fell from a load of hay, was pierced by a pitchfork, and bled to death before medical assistance could be procured. The father, a Catholic, became hysterical, and begged that some one should immediately carry the sad message to the priest. I had met the priest an elderly man and telling the heartbroken father I knew his pastor, I volunteered to go. At the door I was informed that the "holy father" was very ill and could not be seen. But, hearing his voice within and concluding that he was not at death's door, I pushed past the housekeeper and entered. The sick man was hanging on a chair, like a rag, beside a table which contained a bottle, glass tumbler, and all the fixings. [Laughter.] I tried to deliver by message, but he could not comprehend it. He poured a liberal drink,


[pg. 72] pushed it across the table, and insisted that I should take it. But he had been slobbering in the same tumbler, and I declined. [Laughter.]

About four years ago my family and I summered in a small Pennsylvania town. We repeatedly heard references to the sterling qualities of the former priest. But the townspeople did not hesitate to say that the priest then at the head of the parish was a drunkard and a rounder.

Go where you may, and you will hear gossip about the Catholic priesthood. And it is said that "where there is so much smoke, there must be some fire."

I do not say all priests are bad; I do not believe they are. But I do say the system is degrading to the priesthood, and that the priest who withstands the temptations with which the system constantly surrounds him is a man of iron nerve and a will like Gibraltar. [Applause.] Donnelly asserts that fully eighty per cent of the Catholic clergy are intemperate men. If this be correct, the remaining twenty per cent keep


[pg. 73] straight despite the millstone the system hangs about their necks.

And now I would suggest that our friends the Catholic reporters sharpen their pencils. For, instead of dealing in remote history, community gossip, and personal reminiscences, I shall give them some items of a more specific nature to jot down and deliver at the headquarters tomorrow. [Applause.]

William Lloyd Clark, of Milan, Ill., has published a booklet, entitles "Crimes of Priests," in which he designates more than 130 cases giving names, dates, places, and crimes. The priests he names are nearly all located in the United States, twelve are located in Ohio, and the name of one is associated with our own city.

He even includes in this black list the name of Cardinal Gibbons, specifying that this distinguished prelate was sued in court for taking financial advantage of a dying woman. Fifty-six are accused of the crime the system is most likely to develop; twelve are charged with the crime for which negroes are lynched in


[pg. 74] the South; eighteen are said to have gotten money in irregular ways; one is placed under the ban of unmentionable sin; some are branded murderers; others are put in the outlaw class of illicit distillers and unauthorized liquor venders; nearly all are pronounced drunkards; and one Father Andrew, of Canary, N.Y. is declared to have stolen a horse. [Laughter.] My Catholic friends, I do not prefer these charges. I've never met either Mr. Clark or any of the priests, bishops, or cardinals he accuses. Nor do I know whether or not any of the men in this list have been guilty. But I do know one thing: If Mr. Clark, or any other man, ever charges me with one single crime mentioned in this book, he'll stand a lawsuit. I'll clear my good name if it takes until the day of judgment. And if I fail to get redress in the courts, either my accuser or I will go to the hospital for repairs. [Applause.] Some of the priests and bishops Clark accuses of crime are dead. But others are living. Why, I ask, is Clark permitted to go


[pg. 75] where he pleases emphasizing these charges from the platform? And why is he permitted to send this book through the mails to every city, town, and hamlet in the country, if it contains nothing but vile slander?

Crowley is another man, running loose, who, if, in his books and lectures, he prefers false charges, could and ought to be sent to the penitentiary.

In one chapter of "Romanism a Menace to the Nation," he specifies twenty eight cases, declaring that he has the evidence to sustain them up his sleeve whenever Rome is ready to clean house.

He minutely describes his efforts to reform the priesthood in and about Chicago, and gives the names and addresses of fourteen priests who were associated with him in that memorable campaign. He informs the public that he, together with these priests (all of whom could be subpoenaed as witnesses), presented the names of offending priests, the charges preferred against them, and the evidence in hand, to the Bishop of Chicago, who ignored the entire situation,


[pg. 76] his only comment being that while the Chicago priesthood was bad, the New York priesthood was worse! He further states that the names, charges, and evidence were registered to Leo XIII. But the Pope was out of stamps and made no reply. [Applause.] He then adds that after Leo's death and the election, the document of names and charges and evidence was registered to Pius X. But, until the present moment, the new pope has been too busy to give that little American matter any attention! [Applause.] But this is not all. He avers [asserts] that a Catholic Laymen's Association was formed to protect their women from the Chicago priesthood, and that the appeals of this association were turned down cold. He tells us that on June 15, 1903, a prominent Catholic women of Chicago representing an effort upon the part of Catholic women in that city to protect themselves secured an audience with the bishop; that the bishop admitted his personal knowledge of seven bad priests in his diocese; and that she said to him: "You have been bishop only


[pg. 77] three months and have discovered seven; when you hall have been bishop six months, you will have discovered seventy-seven!" And he continues his astounding revelation by declaring that Peter J. Muldoon, one of the black-listed priests, was an almost successful candidate for bishop while under fire of these charges.

On page 413 of his book are the pictures of a priest and the church of which he was rector. He calls the man by name, declares that he established a married woman in a home of his own, that he robbed his own church treasury by forging his bishop's name, and that he is now teaching in a Catholic college (the name and location given) and editing a Catholic paper (the name and post-office named).

And on page 72 of this book is a picture of a palatial home he affirms was ruined by the Catholic priesthood. And Crowley offers ten thousand dollars reward for proof that any of his charges are false!

The Catholic press offers the apology


[pg. 78] that Crowley is not worth ten thousand dollars, hence it would be folly to sue him for slander.

I have no knowledge of Mr. Crowley's finances; for aught I know, he may be insolvent. However, he enjoys his liberty. I have no way of knowing whether his charges are true or false. But I do know that when the picture of a wealthy Chicago home is printed under a man's name, and he charges that the Catholic priesthood of a named diocese accomplished its ruin, the courts would recognize the camera as a witness and that the author of the charge if it be false would learn a trade behind stone walls. [Applause.] And I know that when a man specifies serious charges in a book giving names, dates of alleged crimes, and the present whereabouts of the persons accused he has the evidence or he's an idiot of the smallest caliber. [Applause.] I've never met Mr. Crowley. But I'm informed that his hat-band measures more than five and a quarter. [Applause.]

Why is Crowley as free as a bird?


[pg. 79] Why does he keep his ten thousand dollars? Why are he and Clark, and dozens of others, all free? Why are their books advertised, sold and sent through the mails unmolested? Why is the Roman Church as silent as the Sphinx? There must be a reason. [Applause.]

But why condemn the Catholic priesthood when every crime charged against it can be charged against the Protestant ministry? I know this question is in some of your minds, and it's pertinent. I'll answer it.

When a Protestant preacher goes wrong, it's good-by Protestant preacher! Everyone knows that it's difficult for a Protestant minister to hold his job when he isn't bad. If an opinionated, short-sighted man or a dyspeptic long-nosed woman decides to sneeze at a Protestant preacher, he has to call his dog and beat it. [Laughter.] I don't mean he beats the dog he beats the road to the next town. [Laughter.] Protestant ministers must walk straight. I know, for I've had experience. [Laughter.] I mean experience in walk-


[pg. 80] ing straight. [Laugher.] But when a Catholic priest can no longer be tolerated by his church or community, he's transferred, the ex-priests and others who are informed tell us, to another charge. And this is the extent of his punishment. Crowley names living priests, prefers the most serious charges against them, and declares that their bishops punished them by administering the "transfer treatment."

Those of you who are disposed to criticize me adversely, have discovered that I prove my propositions. Hence, the euphonious word "liar" is no longer heard in the audience. [Applause.] But you have to talk and you have framed up another charge. Last Sunday night several of you were overheard to say: "He's doing all this for money!" You are mistaken. I'm not a Catholic priest! [Laughter.]

I'll tell you why I'm delivering these lectures. For years, I've felt that no preacher does his whole duty when he preaches against hypocrisy, drink, gambling, bad politics, heathenism, Mormon-


[pg. 81] ism, Christian Science, and other religious cults, and the devil in general, and hesitates to open his mouth against Roman Catholicism the most universal, high-browed, treacherous, intriguing, political wire-pulling, dangerous power of the Christian era. [Applause.]

But, like many another preacher, I shrank from the ordeal. Finally I looked in the mirror and said: "You old hypocrite! You tell other people to do their duty, but you are not doing yours. Now, old fellow, you must get on the job at once and make up for lost time!" [Applause.]

But when one begins the performance of duty, he finds it pleasant. I can testify that preaching against Romanism is like taking a surf-bath; after the first plunge, it's exhilarating! [Applause.] And to all my brother ministers, I would like to say: "Come in. The water's fine!" [Applause.] But I counted the cost before plunging. I now I'll be a marked man the remainder of my days. If I ever run for President, every Catholic in the


[pg. 82] country will vote against me. [Laughter.] But duty is right. And "I would rather be right than be President." [Applause.]

However, since some of you have been generous enough to accuse me of "salting down" the coin, I'll refer to another feature of the Catholic system which I would otherwise have overlooked.

Doubtless, both Catholics and Protestants frequently wonder where priests get money with which to live so well, pull off carousals on the side, and leave large estates as many of them do.

Crowley affirms that priests, as a rule, are grafters. He specifies that the priest takes his toll from all offerings, a partial list of which I shall hastily name: "Holy Orders," "Anniversary," "Baptismal," "Penance," "First Communion," "Confirmation," "Extreme Unction," "Funeral," "Purgatorial," "Consecration," "Mass," "The Paulist Fathers," "The Poor Box," "St. Anthony," "Relic," " Easter and Christmas," "Indulgence," "Mission," "Undertaking," "Employment," etc.


[pg. 83] In other words, according to his testimony, while the Sisters are asking alms for Catholic charitable institutions and unthinking Protestants say, "The Catholic Church does much good and is to be commended for its self-sacrifice," the priests are living on the fat of the land, many of them spending more money in a single night than some of their loyal parishioner make in a week. And, still, they accumulate money!

Crowley charges and offers anyone ten thousand dollars to prove it false that the average priest in the smaller cities has an income of not less than ten thousand dollars per year, and that the average priest in the great city parish enjoys an annual income of a least one hundred thousand dollars. If I were in the money-making business, I would rather be the priest of a large city parish than President of the United States!

The average Protestant minister receives a small salary. Were I a woman, nothing in the whole wide world could induce me to marry a Protestant preacher except the preacher himself.


[pg. 84] [Laughter.] But if I were a woman and wanted the luxury of money, and Catholic priests could have wives, I would select a good-looking one and marry him in spite of all he could do. [Laughter.] Catholic friends, don't be deceived into thinking that Protestant ministers are getting rich; they are not. Look to your own priests; they are counting the cash. [Applause.] If the average priest is not making more money than the average business man in his parish, prove that he isn't, then get Crowley's ten thousand dollars and lend me ten of it. [Laughter.]

If Catholic priests, as a rule, are not "covetous," "incontinent," "traitors," and "lovers of pleasure more than lovers of God," and if they do not "creep into houses and lead captive silly women," they are the biggest fools on earth. For, everywhere, men of financial standing prefer these charges against them both in a general and a specific way from the platform and in books, pamphlets, and periodicals. The Catholic Church has money, political pull, and judicial influ-


[pg. 85] ence, and if these charges are false, she could put stripes on Crowley, Clark, the editor of the Menace, et al. And she could do more. She could prefer and sustain charges against the Postmaster-General for permitting these accusations against her priests to speed though the mails from ocean to ocean and Lakes to Gulf 365 days a year. And she could hold the "big stick" over the President and his Cabinet, and make them go to St. Patrick's on Thanksgiving Day, and kiss the Pope's toe till the crack of doom. [Applause.] Catholic priests have every advantage to defend themselves. And if they are innocent of the charges, so universally preferred against them, it's my opinion that they haven't sense enough to come in out of the rain, and ought to be locked up for their own protection. [Laughter.]

I close with an emphasis upon a statement in the ninth verse of the second text I read: "Their folly shall be manifested unto all men." Nor will that manifestation be deferred until the last great day. We are living in an X-ray age an


[pg. 86] age which declines to be blinded, an age which pries into everything, and insists upon peering into the very lives and hearts of people. "There is nothing concealed that shall not be revealed." History and current comment point the finger of suspicion at the Roman Catholic priesthood. That priesthood is on the defensive. And, within the next few years, it will be compelled to do one of two things: prove itself innocent, or get down on its knees in the confessional of public opinion and acknowledge its guilt. [Applause.]


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