Romanism As It Is
[From C.H. Spurgeon's Sword and Trowel, being a review of M. Francis Clare Cusak: The Nun of Kenmare. Hodder & Stoughton. – Rome remains the same. The quotation in this article from the Roman Catholic Archbishop of Philadelphia indicates the true nature of Rome. – A.N.]
C. H. Spurgeon
By going into the Church of Rome, and remaining in that corrupt communion for some years, Miss Cusack has learned well-nigh all that a woman could learn concerning the difference between the theories and the actual practice of the apostate church. In a former volume she told something about her own personal experience with pope, bishops, and sisters; but in the present work, which is far more interesting than the preceding one, she examines the claims of popery, and the foundations on which they rest. With an unsparing hand, she contrasts things as they are supposed to be with things as she has really found them. The lady herself is responsible for her own statements, but we believe she is both honest and well-informed. Her book has throughout an interest of its own; and it ought to open the eyes of many who are in danger of being deceived by the false glamour which still surrounds this system of boundless arrogance and despotism, and she [the Roman Church] will do anything to work her will.
It is maintained, at the outset, that "the source of nearly all the moral evil in the Roman Church" is traceable to the celibacy of the clergy. The confessional is also described as "a cesspool of iniquity for the temptation of the priest". Both as regards the clergy, and those who confess to them, the evil influence of the confessional extends far and wide. Miss Cusack says: "I have heard the sad tale of many girls, teachers, who are under the control of the priest, who have been led on step by step to evil, and no hand was stretched out to save them, because none dared to interfere with the priest who led them to ruin." We feel sure that this witness is true. How can it be otherwise?
The ordinary daily life of a Romish priest is a cheerless one; and, without hope in the future, he is subject to temptations of one kind or another at every turn. Miss Cusack writes: "The wonder to me is, not that there are so many priests who drown their misery in drink, but that any escape." In the United States, at all events, drinking to excess appears to be a common failing. We know nothing beyond what is here stated, but our authoress goes on to say: "I have met many Roman Catholic men, both before and since I left the Church of Rome, who quite frankly avowed that the priests of their Church were, as a class, drunkards." To a great extent, this comes of taking unnatural vows, and undertaking to make sacrifices to which man in his own strength is unequal. References are made to the more general or widespread corruption of the Middle Ages; the same tree bears the same kind of fruit now as it did then. The difference is only in degree. If it were not so serious a matter, it would be simply ludicrous to find such a system claiming to be the only pure communion, and damning all who are outside its pale.
Miss Cusack gives some wholesome lessons to those who may be said to play at Romanism while professing to belong to Protestant communions. Such persons are often very ready to unchurch all who do not see as they do, apparently overlooking the fact that while Rome deals out to them the same measure that they give to others. While very proud of their borrowed plumes, they are regarded by Romanists as having stolen them from those to whom they rightfully belong.
Miss Cusack repeats what others have often said, namely, that Rome is so far unchangeable, that she only needs the opportunity to be as persecuting as ever. The true character of popery was correctly stated by an archbishop in Philadelphia, who is said to be a frequent guest in Protestant houses:
"We admit that the Church of Rome is intolerant, that is, she uses every means in her power to root out heresy; but her intolerance is the result of her infallibility. She alone has the right to be intolerant, because she alone has the right. The Church tolerates heretics when she is obliged to do so, but she hates them with a deadly hatred, and uses all her power to annihilate them. If ever the Roman Catholics in this land should become a considerable majority, which in time will surely be the case […], then will religious freedom in the Republic of the United States come to an end. Our enemies know how the Roman Church treated heretics on the Middle Ages, and how she treats them today whenever she has the power. We no more think of denying these historical facts than we do of blaming the holy God, and the princes of the Church, for what they have thought it good to do."
This is plain speaking. To attain this dreadful object, the representatives of Romanism are not ashamed to make use of any means. We read that even "the Clan-na-Gael goes on its murderous way, with the full approval and blessing of the 'holy' Roman Catholic Church"; but this we can scarcely credit, since all secret societies are under the ban of Mother Church. What, however, Jesuits may do, no man knows.
We are glad to be reminded that there is a bright side to the boasted increase of Romanists in America; for that increase is mainly owing to immigration; otherwise there would seem to be something like an actual decline in the numbers of the Popish Church. "In all Southern States, in every Irish town, you find names which are unquestionably Irish; but the people are not Catholics. 'The voice is the voice of Jacob', but they do not represent the Church to which, by their nationality, you would suppose they would have belonged. Roman Catholic people have increased and multiplied in America, but they have not multiplied as Romanists, and no one knows that better than the ecclesiastics of their Church." Politically, Romanism is in the ascendant in New York; beyond this, it is as great a failure there as in Naples itself. Hence, speaking more generally, Miss Cusack is able to say: "Rome is a wrecked and ruined Church, holding her position, such as it is, not by the upholding arms of faithful children, but by the sword of political power."
"The Nun of Kenmare" will be one of the speakers at the Protestant Congress to be held at Portsmouth this month. Those who have not the opportunity of hearing her should get her book, which is well worth reading. It is written in a remarkably fair and temperate spirit.