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Pope GANG A NE LLl's
THOUGHTS ON TOLERATION.
1 HE great misfortune in this cafe, is, that some people confound religion with her ministers, and make her responsible for their faults. It never was religion, but false zeal pretending to imitate her, that seized fire and sword to compel heretics to abjure their errors, and Jews to become Christians. There were formerly in the bosom of the Church false zealots who contended for things not interesting to the faith, of whom ecclesiastical history furnishes many examples sufficient to make us tremble. For what is more dreadful than to fee good men fall victims to a zeal, displeasing in the sight of God, and condemned by the Church, as equally hateful to religion, and the rights of society. The practice of Jesus Christ, who, during his residence on earth, bore patiently with the Sadducees and Samaritans, the Infidels and Schismatics of those times, obliges us to support our brethren of whatever communion they be, to
live live peaceably with them, and not to torment them on account of any system of belief they have adopted. If we forcibly enlist men into the Church, we shall only make them prevaricators and hypocrites. The power of the Church is purely spiritual; and this is so true, that the first Christians suffered themselves to be butchered, rather than rebel against the edicts of the heathen Emperors: and our blessed Redeemer himself, when he prayed for his executioners, taught us how his cause is to be avenged. .Had ^he ministers of the gospel been always careful to follow that divine model, the enemies of Christianity had not been able to bring against it the unjust reproach of being a persecutor. The Church always disavowed those impetuous men, who stirred up by indiscreet zeal, treat those who go astray with asperity: and its most holy Bishops, in all times, solicited the pardon of apostates, desiring only their conversion. Men therefore ought not to impute to the Church, those excesses of which history has preserved the memory, and which are repugnant to the maxims of the Gospel. Ganganelli, Lett. 5. 4. See his discourse on the spirit of the Church, and on Religion.
Some of my readers cannot be persuaded that the Inquisition has been abolished in Spain. For their satisfaction, I give them the following extract from the Annual Register.
11 The King of Spain has at length stripped the Inquisition of those powers which rendered it odious and terrible. It will for the future be little more than a college of enquiry into reliligious matters. Its jurisdiction and prisons are taken from it, and those powers happily restored to the civil tribunals. This measure will have an extraordinary effect in promoting arts, manufactures, commerce, and learning. Spain, in future, will be a secure and happy residence to strangers." Annual Register for the year 1774, page 39.
"The regency of Milan has given a late instance of that general disposition to reduce the powers of the Church, by abolishing for ever the tribunal of the Inquisition in that Dutchy, and appropriating its estates for the support of an Hospital of Orphans." Annual Register, page 149, for the year 1775.