Friday, February 17, 2017

Quote of day--from Mark Reibling, Church of Spies, excerpted in The Daily Beast

But in long walks through the Englischer Garten, Munich’s central park, Neuhäusler helped Müller get his mind around the Church doctrine of the Disciplina Arcani, the Way of Secrecy.
The first popes were martyred to a man: the emperors sent some of them to Sardinia, where each had the nerve at the back of his right knee severed, his right eye gouged out and cauterized with molten iron; and then, if under thirty, he endured castration. In the ensuing centuries, scarcely a year had passed when the Church was not at war in the world. One hundred seventy times usurpers drove a pontiff from the city, and thirty-three times killed him on Peter’s Chair. The ninth and tenth centuries alone saw John the Twelfth decapitated, John the Fourteenth starved, Adrian the Third poisoned, Benedict the Sixth asphyxiated, Stephen the Eighth dismembered, Leo the Fifth bludgeoned, Stephen the Sixth strangled, Stephen the Seventh garroted, John the Eighth clubbed to death, John the Tenth suffocated under a pillow, and Boniface the Seventh beaten unconscious, left under a statue of Marcus Aurelius, and stabbed to death by passersby.
Popes had therefore learned to defend themselves. By the seventh century, Pope Martin the First had targeted spies against potential kidnappers; and since then, tips from secret papal agents had saved dozens of pontiffs from death or capture. The Church justified these and other secret operations not just by Jesus’s example, but also by Aquinas’s doctrine, which allowed ambushes and other secret means in the conduct of a just war. During the Counter-Reformation, Jesuits had expanded Aquinas’s teaching to justify plots against Protestant kings; and during Italian unification, the Vatican used agents provocateur to lure rebels to Perugia, where Swiss Papal troops beheaded them.

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