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    June 27, 1895

    “The Papacy and Civilisation” The Present Truth 11, 26, pp. 405, 406.

    ATJ

    LAST week, in considering the claims of the Papacy to having been the great civilising force in early times, we showed its utter failure to do anything for the Roman Empire. It had so corrupted society that when the empire was overturned by the barbarians the victors were shocked at the corruptions which they found. The influence of the Papacy on the barbarians was after the same order.PTUK June 27, 1895, page 405.1

    THE FIRST “CONVERTS”

    THE Burgundians were the first of the barbarian nations to be “converted” to the Catholic Church; and through them she “converted” the Franks. An account of this matter will illustrate the powers and efficiency of the Papacy in the work of civilising the barbarians.PTUK June 27, 1895, page 405.2

    The Burgundians were settled in that part of Gaul which now forms Western Switzerland and that part of France which is now the province and district of Burgundy. As early as A.D. 430, the Huns, making inroads into Gaul, severely afflicted the Burgundians, who, finding impotent the power of their own god, determined to try the Catholic god. They therefore sent representatives to a neighbouring city in Gaul, requesting the Catholic bishop to receive them. The bishop had them fast for a week, during which time he catechised them, and then baptized them. Soon afterward the Burgundians found the Huns without a leader, and, suddenly falling upon them at the disadvantage, confirmed their conversion by the slaughter of ten thousand of the enemy. Thereupon the whole nation embraced the Catholic religion “with fiery zeal.” Afterward, however, when about the fall of the empire, the Visigoths asserted their dominion over all Spain, and the greater part of Gaul, and over the Burgundians too, they deserted the Catholic Church, and adopted the Arian faith.PTUK June 27, 1895, page 405.3

    HOW THE FRANKS WERE WON

    YET Clotilda, a niece of the Burgundian king, was educated in the profession of the Catholic faith. She married Clovis, the pagan king of the pagan Franks, and strongly persuaded him to become a Catholic. All her pleadings were in vain, however, till A.D. 496, when, in a great battle with the Alemanni, the Franks were getting the worst of the conflict, in the midst of the battle Clovis vowed that if the victory could be theirs, he would become a Catholic. The tide of battle turned; the victory was won, and Clovis was a Catholic. Clotilda hurried away a messenger with the glad news to the Bishop of Rheims, who came to baptize the new convert.PTUK June 27, 1895, page 405.4

    But after the battle was over, and the dangerous crisis was past, Clovis was not certain whether he wanted to be a Catholic. He must consult his warriors. He did so, and they signified their readiness to adopt the same religion as their king. He then declared that he was convinced of the truth of the Catholic religion, and the “new Constantine” was baptized Christmas Day, A.D. 496. The Pope sent Clovis a letter congratulating him on his conversion. The Bishop of Vienne also sent a letter to the new convert, in which he prophesied that the faith of Clovis would be a surety of the victory of the Catholic religion; and he, with every other Catholic in Christendom, was ready to his utmost to see that the prophecy was fulfilled.PTUK June 27, 1895, page 405.5

    WAR BY THE BISHOP’S BLESSINGS

    THE Catholics in all the neighbouring countries longed and prayed and conspired that Clovis might deliver them from the rule of Arian monarchs; and in the nature of the case, war soon followed. Burgundy was the first country invaded. Before the war actually began, however, by the advice of the bishop of Rheims, a synod of the orthodox bishops met at Lyons; then with the Bishop of Vienne at their head, they visited the king of the Burgundians, and proposed that he call the Arian bishops together, and allow a conference to be held, as they were prepared to prove that the Arians were in error. To their proposal the king replied, “If yours be the true doctrine, why do you not prevent the king of the Franks from waging an unjust war against me, and from caballing with my enemies against me? There is no true Christian faith where there is rapacious covetousness for the possessions of others, and thirst for blood. Let him show forth his faith by his good works.”PTUK June 27, 1895, page 405.6

    The Bishop of Vienne dodged this pointed question, and replied, “We are ignorant of the motives and intentions of the king of the Franks; but we are taught by the Scripture that the kingdoms which abandon the Divine law are frequently subverted: and that enemies will arise on every side against those who have made God their enemy. Return with thy people to the law of God, and He will give peace and security to thy dominions.” War followed, and the Burgundian dominions were made subject to the rule of Clovis, A.D. 500.PTUK June 27, 1895, page 406.1

    The Visigoths possessed all the southwestern portion of Gaul. They, too, were Arians; and the mutual conspiracy of the Catholics in the Gothic dominions, and the crusade of the Franks from the side of Clovis, soon brought on another holy war. At the assembly of princes and warriors at Paris, A.D. 508, Clovis complained, “It grieves me to see that the Arians still possess the fairest portion of Gaul. Let us march against them with the aid of God; and, having vanquished the heretics, we will possess and divide their fertile province.” Clotilda added her pious exhortation to the effect “that doubtless the Lord would more readily lend His aid if some gift were made;” and in response, Clovis seized his battle-ax and threw it as far as he could, and as it went whirling through the air, he exclaimed, “There, on that spot where my Francesca shall fall, will I erect a church in honor of the holy apostles.”PTUK June 27, 1895, page 406.2

    THE CHURCH ENCOURAGED SAVAGERY

    WAR was declared; and as Clovis marched on his way, he passed through Tours, and turned aside to consult the shrine of St. Martin of Tours, for an omen. “His messengers were instructed to remark the words of the psalm which should happen to be chanted at the precise moment when they entered the church.” And the oracular clergy took care that the words which he should “happen” to hear at that moment—uttered not in Latin, but in language which Clovis understood—should be the following from Psalm 18: “Thou hast girded me, O Lord, with strength unto the battle; thou hast subdued unto me those who rose up against me. Thou hast given me the necks of mine enemies, that I might destroy them that hate me.” The oracle was satisfactory, and in the event was completely successful. “The Visigothic kingdom was wasted and subdued by the remorseless sword of the Franks.”PTUK June 27, 1895, page 406.3

    Nor was the religious zeal of Clovis confined to the overthrow of the Arians. There were two bodies of the Franks, the Salians and the Ripuarians. Clovis was king of the Salians, Sigebert of the Ripuarians. Clovis determined to be king of all; he therefore prompted the son of Sigebert to assassinate his father, with the promise that the son should peaceably succeed Sigebert on the throne; but as soon as the murder was committed, Clovis commanded the murderer to be murdered, and then in a full parliament of the whole people of the Franks, he solemnly vowed that he had had nothing to with the murder of either the father or the son; and upon this, as there was no heir, Clovis was raised upon a shield, and proclaimed king of the Ripuarian Franks;—all of which, Gregory, Bishop of Tours, commended as the will of God, saying of Clovis that “God thus daily prostrated his enemies under his hands, and enlarged his kingdom, because he walked before Him with an upright heart, and did that which was well pleasing in his sight.”PTUK June 27, 1895, page 406.4

    CATHOLICISM THE CORRUPTER OF THE BARBARIANS

    THUS was the bloody course of Clovis glorified by the Catholic writers, as the triumph of the orthodox doctrine of the Trinity over Arianism. When such actions as these were so lauded by the clergy as the pious acts of orthodox Catholics, it is certain that the clergy themselves were no better than were the bloody objects of their praise. Under the influence of such ecclesiastics, the condition of the barbarians after their so-called conversion, could not possibly be better, even if it were not worse than before. To be converted to the principles and precepts of such clergy was only the more deeply to be damned.PTUK June 27, 1895, page 406.5

    Into the “converted” barbarians, the Catholic system instilled all of its superstition, and its bigoted hatred of heretics and unbelievers. It thus destroyed what of generosity still remained in their minds while it only intensified their native ferocity; and the shameful licentiousness of the papal system likewise corrupted the purity, and the native respect for women and marriage which had always been a noble characteristic of the German nations.PTUK June 27, 1895, page 406.6

    In proof of this it is necessary only to touch upon the condition of Catholic France under Clovis and his successors.PTUK June 27, 1895, page 406.7

    Dean Milman says in his “History of Latin Christianity:”—PTUK June 27, 1895, page 406.8

    It is difficult to conceive a more dark and odious state of society than that of France under her Merovingian kings, the descendants of Clovis, as described by Gregory of Tours.... Throughout, assassinations, parricides, and fratricides intermingle with adulteries and rapes.PTUK June 27, 1895, page 406.9

    The cruelty might seem the mere inevitable result of this violent and unnatural fusion; but the extent to which this cruelty spreads throughout the whole society almost surpasses belief. That king Chlotaire should burn alive his rebellious son with his wife and daughter, is fearful enough; but we are astounded, even in these times, that a bishop of Tours should burn a man alive to obtain the deeds of an estate which he coveted. Fredegonde sends two murderers to assassinate Childebert, and these assassins are clerks. She causes the Archbishop of Rouen to be murdered while he is chanting the service in the church; and in this crime a bishop and an archdeacon are her accomplices.PTUK June 27, 1895, page 406.10

    This did the Papacy for the barbarians which she “converted;” and such as she could not thus corrupt she destroyed. And this is how she “civilised” the barbarians. The truth is the barbarians were compelled, wearily, to drag themselves toward civilisation, weighed down and retarded by this terrible incubus. They were thus compelled to grope their way, and drag both themselves and her toward civilisation and Christianity instead of being helped by her in any sense. What she did with those whom she did within her own proper sphere in the way of civilisation, we shall consider further.PTUK June 27, 1895, page 406.11

    A. T. JONES.

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