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Page:Popular Science Monthly Volume 56.djvu/731

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A SURVIVAL OF MEDIEVAL CREDULITY.

with the movement in favor of greater freedom of thought and independence of research, known as "Americanism" in the Catholic Church, and regards its extension to the Old World as a vital necessity.[1]

It is creditable to the Catholic prelates in the United States that they were not among the foolish birds caught with the lime laid by Leo Taxil. Indeed, the Bishop of Charleston went to Rome for the express purpose of warning Leo XIII against this trickster, but was sharply reprehended and admonished to be silent. A similar rebuke was given to the Apostolic Vicar of Gibraltar for denying the existence there of Tubal-Cain's subterranean laboratory for manufacturing microbes.

The Breviarium Romanum, the daily use of which, as a manual of devotion and edification, is enjoined by the Pope on the clergy, is full of legends which are recorded as historical facts, and quite equal in absurdity to Taxil's most extravagant and fantastic inventions. The tales there told of the miracles wrought by saints, their communion with angels, and their combats with devils may have easily suggested many incidents narrated in The Devil in the Nineteenth Century and the Memoirs of Diana Vaughan. It is no wonder that minds accustomed to accept the marvels of hagiology as actual events should be readily deceived by a clever caricature of them, especially when appealing to a prejudice so absurd and yet so strong as that entertained by the papacy against Freemasonry. It would seem from many indications that the Romish Church, as an ecclesiastical organization, bears about the same relation to contemporary culture that Roman paganism did to the best thought of the period when Lucian wrote his sprightly dialogues and Lucretius his genial and comprehensive didactic poem De Rerum Natura. Is it doomed to the same fate, or has it, as Professor Schell and Dr. Müller assert, a saving, recuperative power?

 


 
Of the geological age of the building stones used in the United States, George P. Merrill observes, in his report to the Maryland Geological Survey, that few stones are used to any extent that are of later date than the Triassic, and few, if any, of our marbles are younger than the Silurian, while nearly all our granites, as now quarried, belong at least to Palæozoic or Archæan times. Stones of later age than Triassic are, so far as relates to the eastern United States, so friable or so poor in color as to have little value.

  1. Since these lines were written Professor Schell has been disciplined and threatened with excommunication by the See of Rome. We regret to be obliged to add that he did not have the courage to maintain his opinions, but made a public recantation of them. The cause of progress in the Catholic Church has now found a new and apparently more fearless advocate in a Bavarian priest, Dr. Müller, of Munich, whose pamphlet on Reformkatholizismus can hardly escape the interdict of the papal hierarchy.