What Alanus Copus Nicholas Harpsfield and Father Henry Fitzsimons, of Dublin, have related about John Travers, an Irish doctor of sacred theology, who fell in Henry’s or Elizabeth’s time (I have not definitely ascertained which) is worth repeating. This man wrote something against the English heresy, in which he maintained the jurisdiction and authority of the Pope. Being arraigned for this before the king’s court, and questioned by the judge on the matter, he fearlessly replied — “With these fingers,” said he, holding out the thumb, index, and middle fingers, of his right hand, “those were written by me, and for this deed in so good and holy a cause I neither am nor will be sorry.” Thereupon being condemned to death, amongst other atrocious punishments inflicted, that glorious hand was cut off by the executioner and thrown into the fire and burnt, except the three sacred fingers by which he had effected those writings, and which the flames, — however piled on and stirred up, could not consume.
— Chapters towards a History of Ireland in the reign of Elizabeth, Chapter II,
Philip O’Sullivan Beare.
Statue of St. Patrick in his shrine, Our Lady of the Atonement, San Antonio, Texas.
St. Patrick poured forth to God the following prayer: ‘O Lord Jesus Christ, lead me, I beseech thee, to the seat of the holy Roman Church, that, receiving authority there to preach with confidence Thy sacred truths, the Irish nation may, through my ministry, be gathered to the fold of Christ.’ And soon after, being about to proceed to Ireland, this man of God, Patrick, went as he had wished to Rome, the head of all churches, and having asked and received the apostolic blessing, he returned, pursuing the same road by which he had journeyed thither.
The aunciente Irish descend from the Spaniards whoe, above 1000 yeares agoe got that kingdome from the Graecians, and governed it with just and holie lawes, being holpen thereon by the doctrine and holynes of many holy miraculous and learned men of there owne, until the comeing of the Danes, the which by overthrowing and destroying churches and Universityes in that island, broughte in much barbaritie, and evill customes, with tyranny, after which there followed, even in the Irish themselves sinnes and offences against God, civil wars, and domesticall hatred, murthers, &c.
Notable was the wickednesse of Dermitius king of Leynster, one of the five kynges of Ireland, who took away by force the wife of O’Roarke, another king of the same island, for which the said Dermitius being pursued by O’Roarke, was fayne to fly the land, and to crave aide of Henry the second King of Englande, whoe at this time was in France, and gave free libertye to all his subjectes, that voluntarilie would, to helpe Dermetius to recover his lost kingdome, whereupon, with ayde of certaine of the king of England’s subjectes, he regained his owne, and laied hold on other men’s lands besides.
Henry the second seeing the Irish divided amongst themselves by a false relation (as they say) to Pope Adrian the fourth, an Englishman; obtained of his holynes lycense to conquer the land, and to be collector of the church rentes, which the see Apostolicke had in Ireland, with the title of Lord of Ireland: But after the kings of Englande forsaking the true fayth have by their own proper authoritie intitled themselves Kings of Ireland.
— Briefe relation of Ireland, and the diversity of Irish in the same, Philip O’Sullivan Beare, originally written in Spanish in the early XVII century.
That the Roman pontiff alone can with right be called universal.
That he alone can depose or reinstate bishops.
That, in a council his legate, even if a lower grade, is above all bishops, and can pass sentence of deposition against them.
That the pope may depose the absent.
That, among other things, we ought not to remain in the same house with those excommunicated by him.
That for him alone is it lawful, according to the needs of the time, to make new laws, to assemble together new congregations, to make an abbey of a canonry; and, on the other hand, to divide a rich bishopric and unite the poor ones.
That he alone may use the imperial insignia.
That of the pope alone all princes shall kiss the feet.
That his name alone shall be spoken in the churches.
That this title [Pope] is unique in the world.
That it may be permitted to him to depose emperors.
That he may be permitted to transfer bishops if need be.
That he has power to ordain a clerk of any church he may wish.
That he who is ordained by him may preside over another church, but may not hold a subordinate position; and that such a one may not receive a higher grade from any bishop.
That no synod shall be called a general one without his order.
That no chapter and no book shall be considered canonical without his authority.
That a sentence passed by him may be retracted by no one; and that he himself, alone of all, may retract it.
That he himself may be judged by no one.
That no one shall dare to condemn one who appeals to the apostolic chair.
That to the latter should be referred the more important cases of every church.
That the Roman church has never erred; nor will it err to all eternity, the Scripture bearing witness.
That the Roman pontiff, if he have been canonically ordained, is undoubtedly made a saint by the merits of St. Peter; St. Ennodius, bishop of Pavia, bearing witness, and many holy fathers agreeing with him. As is contained in the decrees of St. Symmachus the pope.
That, by his command and consent, it may be lawful for subordinates to bring accusations.
That he may depose and reinstate bishops without assembling a synod.
That he who is not at peace with the Roman church shall not be considered catholic.
That he may absolve subjects from their fealty to wicked men.
— Dictatus papæ, included in the register of Pope Gregory VII under the year 1075; translated in Ernest F. Henderson, Select Historical Documents of the Middle Ages, (London: George Bell and Sons, 1910), pp. 366-367.
Is this really necessary? A motu proprio of the Bishop of Rome? This pontificate seems day-by-day to descend into the obscene depths of banality and vulgarity. There are bigger fish to fry, Your Holiness.
To be sworn to by all clergy, pastors, confessors, preachers, religious superiors, and professors in philosophical-theological seminaries.
I N. firmly embrace and accept each and every definition that has been set forth and declared by the unerring teaching authority of the Church, especially those principal truths which are directly opposed to the errors of this day. And first of all, I profess that God, the origin and end of all things, can be known with certainty by the natural light of reason from the created world (cf. Rom. 1:19-20), that is, from the visible works of creation, as a cause from its effects, and that, therefore, his existence can also be demonstrated: Secondly, I accept and acknowledge the external proofs of revelation, that is, divine acts and especially miracles and prophecies as the surest signs of the divine origin of the Christian religion and I hold that these same proofs are well adapted to the understanding of all eras and all men, even of this time. Thirdly, I believe with equally firm faith that the Church, the guardian and teacher of the revealed word, was personally instituted by the real and historical Christ when he lived among us, and that the Church was built upon Peter, the prince of the apostolic hierarchy, and his successors for the duration of time. Fourthly, I sincerely hold that the doctrine of faith was handed down to us from the apostles through the orthodox Fathers in exactly the same meaning and always in the same purport. Therefore, I entirely reject the heretical misrepresentation that dogmas evolve and change from one meaning to another different from the one which the Church held previously. I also condemn every error according to which, in place of the divine deposit which has been given to the spouse of Christ to be carefully guarded by her, there is put a philosophical figment or product of a human conscience that has gradually been developed by human effort and will continue to develop indefinitely. Fifthly, I hold with certainty and sincerely confess that faith is not a blind sentiment of religion welling up from the depths of the subconscious under the impulse of the heart and the motion of a will trained to morality; but faith is a genuine assent of the intellect to truth received by hearing from an external source. By this assent, because of the authority of the supremely truthful God, we believe to be true that which has been revealed and attested to by a personal God, our Creator and Lord.
Furthermore, with due reverence, I submit and adhere with my whole heart to the condemnations, declarations, and all the prescripts contained in the encyclical Pascendi and in the decree Lamentabili, especially those concerning what is known as the history of dogmas. I also reject the error of those who say that the faith held by the Church can contradict history, and that Catholic dogmas, in the sense in which they are now understood, are irreconcilable with a more realistic view of the origins of the Christian religion. I also condemn and reject the opinion of those who say that a well-educated Christian assumes a dual personality — that of a believer and at the same time of a historian, as if it were permissible for a historian to hold things that contradict the faith of the believer, or to establish premises which, provided there be no direct denial of dogmas, would lead to the conclusion that dogmas are either false or doubtful. Likewise, I reject that method of judging and interpreting Sacred Scripture which, departing from the tradition of the Church, the analogy of faith, and the norms of the Apostolic See, embraces the misrepresentations of the rationalists and with no prudence or restraint adopts textual criticism as the one and supreme norm. Furthermore, I reject the opinion of those who hold that a professor lecturing or writing on a historico-theological subject should first put aside any preconceived opinion about the supernatural origin of Catholic tradition or about the divine promise of help to preserve all revealed truth forever; and that they should then interpret the writings of each of the Fathers solely by scientific principles, excluding all sacred authority, and with the same liberty of judgment that is common in the investigation of all ordinary historical documents.
Finally, I declare that I am completely opposed to the error of the modernists who hold that there is nothing divine in sacred tradition; or what is far worse, say that there is, but in a pantheistic sense, with the result that there would remain nothing but this plain simple fact — one to be put on a par with the ordinary facts of history — the fact, namely, that a group of men by their own labor, skill, and talent have continued through subsequent ages a school begun by Christ and his apostles. I firmly hold, then, and shall hold to my dying breath the belief of the Fathers in the charism of truth, which certainly is, was, and always will be in the succession of the episcopacy from the apostles. The purpose of this is, then, not that dogma may be tailored according to what seems better and more suited to the culture of each age; rather, that the absolute and immutable truth preached by the apostles from the beginning may never be believed to be different, may never be understood in any other way. I promise that I shall keep all these articles faithfully, entirely, and sincerely, and guard them inviolate, in no way deviating from them in teaching or in any way in word or in writing. Thus I promise, this I swear, so help me God…
Prohibiting with a strong hand the use of the true religion, which after its earlier overthrow by Henry VIII (a deserter therefrom) Mary, the lawful queen of famous memory, had with the help of this See restored, she [ELIZABETH] has followed and embraced the errors of the heretics. She has removed the royal Council, composed of the nobility of England, and has filled it with obscure men, being heretics; oppressed the followers of the Catholic faith; instituted false preachers and ministers of impiety; abolished the Sacrifice of the Mass, prayers, fasts, choice of meats, celibacy, and Catholic ceremonies; and has ordered that books of manifestly heretical content be propounded to the whole realm and that impious rites and institutions after the rule of Calvin, entertained and observed by herself, be also observed by her subjects. She has dared to eject bishops, rectors of churches and other Catholic priests from their churches and benefices, to bestow these and other things ecclesiastical upon heretics, and to determine spiritual causes; has forbidden the prelates, clergy and people to acknowledge the Church of Rome or obey its precepts and canonical sanctions; has forced most of them to come to terms with her wicked laws, to abjure the authority and obedience of the pope of Rome, and to accept her, on oath, as their only lady in matters temporal and spiritual; has imposed penalties and punishments on those who would not agree to this and has exacted then of those who persevered in the unity of the faith and the aforesaid obedience; has thrown the Catholic prelates and parsons into prison where many, worn out by long languishing and sorrow, have miserably ended their lives. All these matter and manifest and notorious among all the nations; they are so well proven by the weighty witness of many men that there remains no place for excuse, defense or evasion.