Fifty Years in the Church of Rome

[According to Donald Kinzer, "probably the first-ranking of all anti-Catholic best-sellers" was this "inside story" of the Church, part spiritual autobiography, part exposé, part paranoid fantasy. "Father Chiniquy" was a Canadian Catholic priest who left the church to found his own religion, called "Christian Catholics," but he gained his greatest renown through this long (832 pages) account of his experience and disillusionment with Catholicism. First published in 1886, Fifty Years in the Church of Rome went through over forty editions by 1891. It combined scenes in which "the Church of Rome" is made to look ridiculous (as in the account of monks playing practical jokes in the name of humility illustrated with the drawing here) with sensationalist charges of corruption and evil. Chiniquy's most notorious charge was that Abraham Lincoln's assassination was "the work of popery." According to Chiniquy, "Booth was nothing but the tool of the Jesuits. It was Rome that directed his arm, after corrupting his heart and damning his soul." Chiniquy also credits Lincoln with having told him in private conversation that he saw "a dark cloud on our horizon. And that dark cloud is coming from Rome." Chiniquy develops that idea in the passages below. The first is third of his five Dedications. ]

I also dedicate this book.

Americans! You are sleeping on a volcano, and you do not suspect it! You are pressing on your bosom a viper which will bite you to death, and you do not know it.

Read this book, and you will see that Rome is the sworn, the most implacable, the absolutely irreconcilable and deadly enemy of your schools, your institutions, your so dearly bought rights and liberties.

From Chapter 59, "Rome, the Enemy of the United States"

The Americans, with few exceptions, do not pay any attention to the dark cloud which is rising at their horizon, from Rome. Though that cloud is filled with rivers of tears and blood, they let it grow and rise without even caring how they will escape from the impending hurricane.

It is to San Francisco that you must go to have an idea of the number of secret and powerful organizations with which the Church of Rome prepares herself for the impending conflict, through which she hopes to destroy the schools, and every vestige of human rights and liberties in the United States.

In order to more easily drill the Roman Catholics and prepare them for the irrepressible struggle, the Jesuits have organized them into a great number of secret societies . . .

Almost all these secret associations are military ones. They have their headquarters at San Francisco; but their rank and file are scattered all over the United States. They number 700,000 soldiers, who, under the name of the United States Volunteer Militia, are officered by some of the most skillful generals and officers of this Republic. . . .

Rome is in constant conspiracy against the rights and liberties of man all over the world; but she is particularly so in the United States.

Long before I was ordained a priest, I knew that my church was the most implacable enemy of this Republic. My professors of philosophy, history and theology had been unanimous in telling me that the principles and laws of the Church of Rome were absolutely antagonistic to the laws and principles which are the foundation-stones of the Constitution of the United States.

[Chiniquy then lists seven specific points of opposition between the values of the United States and the tenets of the Catholic Church, among which are:]

lst. The most sacred principle of the United States Constitution is the equality of every citizen before the law. But the fundamental principle of the Church of Rome, is the denial of that equality.

2nd. Liberty of conscience is proclaimed by the United States, a most sacred principle which every citizen must uphold, even at the price of his blood. But liberty of conscience is declared by all the Popes and Councils of Rome, a most godless, unholy and diabolical thing, which every good Catholic must abhor and destroy, at any cost.

SOURCE: Fifty Years in the Church of Rome, by Father Chiniquy (New York: Fleming H. Revell Company, 1886)

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