In the Pillory: The Tale of the Borgia Pope/preface
There is more than one Chamber of Horrors in the Museum of History, but none like that of the Borgia. The central figure is that of Roderigo Borgia, who as Alexander VI sat on the papal throne for upward of eleven years; around him are grouped his mistresses; a brood of bastard children; a retinue of henchman and an endless procession of victims. It was the darkest period in the life of Christianity, just before the dawn of the Reformation. Rome had become a sink of unspeakable corruption where, in the words of Dante, "Christ was sold every day."
The defenders of the Roman system in seeking to explain and palliate the "criminal age of the Papacy," declare that the career of Alexander VI, monstrous though it was, in no way "affected the holiness of his exalted office." They repeat the assertion that "one bad man in the chair of St. Peter is no argument against the Papacy itself."
It is right here that we must join issue with the apologists for Popery. First of all, Alexander VI was by no means the only degraded and monstrous specimen of humanity that wore the lying crown with the three circles. If there is any difference between him and most of his predecessors and successors it is purely a difference in degree but not in kind. The explanation of the constant recurrence of men of the Borgia type in the papal chair must be found in the thoroughly fraudulent, unChristian and wholly political character of the Papacy as an institution. Examine the Papacy in the light of historic evidence—to use no finer or higher test—and you are bound to discover that it was conceived in fraud and forgery beginning with the fabled donation of Constantine to the bishops of Rome; that every step in its growth was a plain defiance of the Scriptures and the Apostolic traditions, and that its aims were wholly worldly and wholly political. A vicious and fraudulent institution cannot produce good men. Of course, I do not mean to say that all popes have been common criminals, such as could have been prosecuted under the provisions of the penal code, but I do mean to say that the taint of fraud was upon every one of them and that wittingly or unwittingly they were instruments for the debasement of Christian ideals. The pursuit of money and worldly power, simony in one form or another, enrichment of their progeny or their relatives, the perpetuation of fraudulent practices can be proven against almost every pope who really existed and whose name is more than a myth. It has never been pretended that there is, or ever can be, the slightest warrant for such an institution as the Papacy in the revealed Word of God.
The Protestant Reformation dealt the first great blow to the blasphemous claims of the popes. The loss of their temporal power checked but did by no means destroy the political ambitions and projects of the Vatican. The nature of the Papacy has not changed—it cannot change. The blighting influence is still a tremendous and fearful reality. In His own time God will blot all its works from the face of this afflicted world and consign it to infamy first and to oblivion afterwards. In the meantime the greatest weapon against this enemy of mankind is the light of publicity. Romanism is a growth that cannot bear the rays of the sun. The plain, unvarnished truth will put it down every time. There can be no peace no truce and no compromise with the forces of the Vatican. The fight of the Reformation is still the good fight but nowhere more so than in our own beloved Republic. The Papacy is reaching out or control of the schools in this country. It is encouraged by what it believes to be the indifference and the lukewarmness of Protestants who have forgotten or perhaps unlearned the art of protesting
Nor can it be claimed that Romanism with its destructive aims and tenets has changed since the days of the Borgia. Rome has never officially or otherwise condemned the Borgia, annulled their election to the "throne" of St. Peter, repudiated their records, or obliterated their memory. Quite the contrary. Within the present generation the Romanist church has erected a striking monument to the Borgia popes in one of the most prominent churches of Rome, Santa Maria in Monserrato, while less than thirty years ago Leo XIII restored the Borgia apartments in the Vatican. A monumental sarcophagus supposed to contain the remains of Alexander VI reposes among some of the canonized popes in the grottoes of the Vatican below the aisles of St. Peter.
Under the leadership of an Italian historian, an orthodox Romanist, a movement has recently been started to set aside the election of Alexander VI as a nullity and to blot his name and record from the Book of the Pontiffs. The Vatican frowned on this campaign set on foot by its own co-religionists, and Borgia is still "Alexander VI, the Sovereign Pontiff of Blessed Memory."
In conclusion let me say that all through the ages there have been great and good men within the church protesting against Popery as a malignant excrescence on the body of the Christian religion. The great poet Dante, a thoroughly orthodox Catholic, a believer in the spiritual primacy of the bishops of Rome and in the "power of the keys," consistently fought against the political aggressions and against the wild claims of the Papacy. He was driven into perpetual exile and condemned to "be burnt until dead" in case of capture. His famous book exposing the falsity of the Papal pretences in the forum of reason and history was ordered burned by the public hangman. A Roman cardinal of that day issued an order to open Dante's tomb and have the body tied to the stake and given to the flames as that of a heretic. The order was never executed because the friends of the great poet interfered. Even in modern days a respectable number of Catholics seceded from Popery and, as so-called Old Catholics, have their own churches in Germany, Switzerland, France, Holland, Belgium, Austria and other states of Europe.
Quite recently no small percentage of the Czechoslovakian people, the most intelligent among the Slav races, have rejected Popery and established a national church in the face of great legal and economic difficulties. They followed their martyred countryman, John Hus, who was burned at the stake as a heretic for daring to repudiate the absurd claims of the Papacy to universal dominion. They, too, recognize the distinction between Catholicism as a religious creed and Popery as a fraudulent and un-Christian institution. Our warfare is directed not against Catholics, whether they are of the Roman or the Greek or any other persuasion-it is directed solely and wholly against the Neo-Caesarism of the popes. Our quarrel is not with the profession of any religious faith but with a political system invented and kept alive to enslave the minds of mankind and to destroy the freedom of conscience.
The Borgias are dead and gone but they are still brewing poison in the Vatican.
- JOHN BOND.
- Rome, December, 1926.