Saturday, 1 February 2014


"Clericalism," said Gambetta, the Radical French statesman, "there is the enemy." Of course, Gambetta was wrong. Clericalism has, happily, been almost abolished in " la belle France,"   yet still the French workers are struggling against exploitation and oppression. Capitalism, that is the enemy! At the same time, clericalism is one of the most powerful and insidious agencies of capitalism. If any proof were needed it has been supplied by some of the discourses delivered at the Catholic Congress held last week in Sydney. Do not let us be mistaken ; we have no use for sectarianism. The Protestant Churches had their rise in the early necessities of developing capitalism and remain to-day the strong upholders of the developed system.   The Catholic Church however is the denier ressort, the last and most powerful stronghold of reactionary clericalism : and its local mouthpieces at this Australian Congress have issued the challenges of that Church to Socialism and advanced thought alike, and put forward its impudent pretensions to dominate the thought of the community and to control even the teaching of historical truth in the schools. Therefore, in no spirit of sectarianism, but impartially against clericalism in all its manifestations, this article is penned. Here is the claim of the Church of Rome as stated by Professor MacCaffery, of Maynooth College, Ireland : "The writer," says the "Sydney Morning Herald," "commented on the advance of Socialism in the 19th century, and claimed that the Roman Catholic Church had been an effective agent in checking it. . . . The Roman Catholic Church had always endeavored to steer a middle course by safe guarding the right of property, and ensuring fair treatment to the workers. (Cheers.) Socialist leaders had labored with but little success in countries where Roman Catholic immigrants had settled in any considerable numbers. (Applause.)" Archbishop Delaney, of Hobart, is reported as saying : "that initiative was man's inalienable right, and private ownership a logical thing. Individual initiative, family relations, and the right of men to form associations for mutual aid should all be above the State. The chief function of the State was to protect life and property from unjust encroachments, whether at home, or from abroad, and to facilitate the expansion of individual initiative." Mr. Delaney, it is true, proceeded further to indulge in some pious platitudes which amount to the old old fallacy that the capitalist (and the worker, of course) must be moralised by religious influences, or there would be " a catastrophe unequalled in history." Faugh ! Moralise the capitalist ! As well seek to moralise a tiger with his claws on the bleeding body and his jaws dripping with the blood of his victim! What Archbishop Dalaney really means is that the Church will avert the social revolution as long as possible by deluding the workers into accepting it as their duty to be content in the station in which "God has placed them," (under "fair conditions," of course) : by preaching the "rights of property " in the means and instruments of production : by inducing the capitalist to give to charity some portion of their plunder in order to patch up some of the most public rotting sores of society, caused by the system of private ownership, and finally by persuading the workers that it is their duty to submit to a life of toil and privation on earth in order to be rewarded— elsewhere, after they are dead— with an "exceeding great reward " for their piety and submission. Said Daniel O'Connell, the "Liberator " : " As much religion as you like from Rome but no politics." We command to the consideration of the rank and file of Australian Catholics these words of O'Connell's. Their official leaders and teachers have pronounced themselves a political force against Socialism for Capitalism. The Roman Church— and the other churches though not all so open in their declaration —has declared war against Socialism, the world's working class movement : the hope of the downtrodden and oppressed in every land, the gospel of social justice, of freedom, of progress. The Socialist movement does not demand of its members that they should give up religion — but it asks of the workers can they consistently support these organised churches whose force is thrown on the side of their enslavers and oppressors : the master class. So much for this, the main issue of interest to working-class men and women raised at the Catholic Congress. Archbishop Kelly, however, distintinguished himself by an attack upon N.S.W. Education department for permitting Thomas Carlyle's " Heroes and Hero Worship" to be used as a text book of History. Knox, victimised by the allied Church and State of his day for his heretical opinions, was condemned to the cruel slavery of the galleys. Carlyle has a fine passage showing Knox's brave devotion to the truth as he understood it, and his refusal to do reverence to an image of Mary the supposed " Mother" of God ! Kelly is indignant that the teachers in the N.S.W. Training College should have this true history brought to their notice ! The clerics would like to compile all the history books themselves, no doubt — and expunge all the long record of villainy and oppression, of superstition and crime, that blackens with bloody grime the record of the church! Here is a sample of the kind of "history" taught by the R.C. clerics : "The Inquisition, far from being as bloody and inexorably severe as is commonly imagined, from inflicting capital punishment even for mere thoughts and opinions, on the contrary, never inflicted it even for open and atrocious crimes, the tribunal never having been authorised to pass sentence of death or of mutilation upon any person ; this power resided entirely and solely in the civil authority. All that the Council of the Inquisition had to do, was to pronounce the individual before them guilty, on the clearest evidence, of a crime declared capital by the law of Spain. There they stopped ; and instead of prosecuting to death, they rather displayed a degree of indulgence and clemency seldom witnessed in any other tribunal." The above extract is from the Historical text-book used at the Christian Brothers College at Blackrock, Ireland, and deals with the infamous Spanish Inquisition. The plain meaning of the apologetical gloss of the biassed advocate who wrote such a shoddy substitute for historical truth can be translated bluntly into thus: "The Church was not the principal in the crime, but the accomplice ! The brutal murders of the victims of the Inquisition for matters of opinion, for " sacrilege," " apostacy," " heresy," were committed, alleges the capitalist historian, by the State, which used the Church as a tool. In solid truth the State and the Church were twin criminals— and the Church implanted in the minds of the holders of the "civil authority" the superstitious bigotry and ferocity which made of the rulers the ready instruments to execute its atrocious decrees. Another illustration of the insidious misrepresentations indulged in by the ecclesiastical compilers of "history," from the same volume, refers thus to Galileo: " This celebrated man was not arraigned as an astronomer, BUT AS A BAD THEOLOGIAN, and for having pretended to impute to the Bible dogmas of his own invention. . . . He published his " Dialogue " and "Memoirs," in which he again took upon himself to raise the system of the rotation of the earth to the dignity of a dogmatical tenet. . . . After having received his sentence and MADE HIS RECANTATION Galile obtained leave to visit his native country." 

The historian is trying to prove that the Church was not opposed to, and did not persecute, men of science. Does anyone pretend that Galileo was charged formally, with being an astronomer? Galileo was punished and forced to recant the truth because he made it plain that the theological dogma was inconsistent with proven scientific truth. The priestly cunning which glozes over historical fact in the interest of the Church, as exposed in the above extracts from a Catholic school text-book tends to prove, not that the New South Wales Education Department should suppress the historical writings of brave and honest Thomas Carlyle, man of genius and worth, but that in the interest of the children Australia should follow the lead of France and decline to allow self interested clerics to interfere in the education of the children at all. The extracts quoted above from the school book of the "Christian Brothers" at Blackrock, are not by any means isolated passages. The whole book is a cunning piece of special pleading in the interest of clericalism. It is a disgrace that such fables should be permitted to be taught, on the plea of religious toleration, to any of the children of the nation. Again, let it be emphasised, this is not a mere sectarian attack upon Romanism. False views of history, jingoism, suppression of the truth about the development of capitalism and its primary religious reflex : protestantism : these charges can be upheld against the non-Catholic schools and colleges also.   Romanism but adds its quota to the general stock of confusion and delusion. Down with priestcraft, down with clericalism, in all their manifold manifestations. They buttress capitalism, their ally, accomplice, and paymaster. They attack Socialism openly and covertly. Therefore we attack and expose them, but we know, also, that Capitalism is the enemy, and all our efforts are bent therefore to its overthrow, knowing well that only so shall we achieve the freedom of the human mind from error and superstition. H.J.H.

 People 9 October 1909,

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