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Title: John Ronge: The Holy Coat Of Treves - New German-Catholic Chruch
Author: Anonymous, Ronge, John
Language: English
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New German-Catholic Chruch

"How has the Devil dressed up dead bones, garments, and vessels, into
the holy bones, garments, and vessels! How confidently have people
believed all impudent liars! how have they crowded on the pilgrimages!
All this the Pope, the Bishops, the Priests, and the Monks, have
confirmed--or, at all events, they have been silent,--and quietly
receive the money and the offerings, whilst the people go astray 'What
results have been brought about by this parading at Treves of the Coat
of Christ."

Luther's Warning, in reference to this very Coat of 1814.







We believe that the best way to introduce our subject is to quote some
few passages from the authorized document published at Treves, with
special reference to the ceremonial which took place in that Cathedral,
giving an account of the history of the Holy Goat, and explaining and
defending the step which the Church was about to take in the matter. The
following are a few extracts:--

"Thirty-four years have now elapsed since our city found within its
walls 200,000 strangers, all actuated by a pious longing after this holy
relic, before which they might present their adoration, and, in lively
feelings of devotion, strengthen themselves in the faith and the love
of the Lord. The order which prevailed during the whole ceremony, though
nightly between twenty and thirty thousand persons were quartered in
the city--the universal devotion and edification manifested by the
pilgrims--still live in the recollection of all those who witnessed
the ceremony from its beginning to its close. * * Meanwhile, since
this period, the youth of our city have grown to ripe manhood; and,
accordingly, they have expressed the wish that the venerable relic
should be once more exhibited. These pious wishes could not remain
unknown to our worthy Bishop, who, indeed, had previously resolved
to meet them. Before his consecration in 1842, when he met Prince
Metternich in Coblentz--who is, from reasons known only to few, in
possession of one of the holy nails, and who then promised to restore
that which was the rightful property of the Cathedral of Treves--the
Bishop had determined to signalize the event of the restoration of the
Holy Nail, by exhibiting both the Nail and the Coat to the religious
worship of the people. But the promised return of the nail has not yet
taken place, although the confidence placed on the promise of the Prince
still allows us to cherish this hope. Notwithstanding, as this could
not be the case, in the present year, the Bishop resolved to satisfy the
general desire expressed for the exhibition of the holy coat."

From the historical inquiry it appears, according to the author, that
this said relic was brought by Helena, the mother of Constantine, from
the Holy Land, in the fourth century, and deposited in the Cathedral
of Treves, which was then the residence of the emperors, and the most
famous city in the empire, after Rome itself. It lay in concealment till
the 9th century. To Frederick I. is attributed the honour of reviving
the attention of the Church and people to the great treasure of their
cathedral and city. After being again 300 years concealed, Maximilian
I., to give pomp and distinction to a _diet_ held in the city, caused
it to be exposed to the adoration of the inhabitants. In the three
following centuries, (16th, 17th, and 18th,) the occasion of its
exhibition was the holding of the German Diet, when the city was filled
with princes and princesses, as well as crowds of devout pilgrims. In
the period of the French Revolution, it fared ill with the holy coat.
It was, according as danger threatened, carried to the fortress
of Ehrenbreitstein. On the new political organization of the Rhine
provinces, it was made the subject of earnest diplomatic transactions
between Nassau, France, and Bavaria--the last Elector of Treves, and
the Bishop, Carl Maunay; and the Church of Treves has to thank its
Bishop--whose requests Napoleon did not generally refuse--for the
recovery of much of their possessions, and for the restoration of this
relic, the most valuable of them all.

After being concealed for centuries, the first public representation
took place in 1196. In 1514, Leo X. issued a bull, proclaiming _complete
absolution of sin to all who, in the proper spirit, made a pilgrimage to
Treves, and contributed to the expenses of the spectacle_.

After a great deal about the history of the coat with its various
exhibitions, and a defence of the worship of relics, the Address closes
as follows:--

"The believing sight of this pre-eminently sacred relic, with
which stand connected, in a manner so immediate and impressive, the
associations with the whole life and sufferings of the Saviour, must at
once cause many overpowering thoughts and feelings to be awakened in the
soul, so that one must feel himself involuntarily torn asunder by them,
and believe that he is placed in the immediate presence of the body of
our Lord. * * In all these lively associations, the Christian believes
that he hears the voice of Him who wore this raiment, proclaiming the
words of eternal truth, and exhorting sinners to repentance; he believes
the holy garment encompassed with that brilliancy of light which on
Mount Tabor made Peter exclaim, 'It is good to be here;' he believes
that it is covered with that sweat which bedewed his face on the Mount
of Olives. Hence the phenomenon that often hardhearted men were led,
by the sight of the holy coat, and the feelings of devotion thereby
awakened, to turn into themselves; their heart has melted like ice
before the heat of the sun, and thus have they been brought back to God
and his means of grace in the Church. O! may many such miracles take
place in these days, which are now approaching. May God bless the
resolutions of the faithful, who come on a pilgrimage to our venerable
cathedral, guide their steps on the road to the august sanctuary, and
infuse devotion and love into their souls!"

Such is the spirit of the authorized document, issued under the
auspices of the ecclesiastical authorities at Treves; and it may well
be questioned, whether, in the most gloomy periods of Catholic
superstition, anything has appeared which savoured more of all that is
degrading and blasphemous in the system. On the 6th of July 1844,
the general announcement of what was to take place was made, with the
regulations to be observed by the different processions of pilgrims.
After stating their joy at the proposed spectacle, the chief
announcement is made as follows:--"This holy relic will accordingly be
exhibited for a period of six weeks, beginning with the 18th August, in
order to satisfy the desires of those who may have the pious intention
of proceeding to Treves, to worship the holy garment of our divine
Saviour by immediate view, each of whom will, according to the bull of
Pope Leo X., dated 26th January 1514, receive _complete absolution_. * *
Accordingly, we intimate to all within the bishopric, what we believe
to be called for, that there should not be a too numerous streaming
together of the faithful on the same day, causing disorder and
confusion; and also that no neighbourhood may be deprived to too great
an extent of its inhabitants. Accordingly, it is required that two
separate days be allocated for each part of the bishopric, so as to
divide the number of those who intend to come to Treves; and also that
the localities for particular days be so arranged as to prevent the
crowding together of too many pilgrims on the same line of road." Then
follow fourteen regulations to carry out these views, the whole signed
by the Vicar-General.

The long-looked for day at length arrived. The whole country was in
commotion, and from many hundred places at once the pilgrimages began.
Every possible arrangement had been made by the authorities of Treves
for the reception of, and maintenance of order among the vast and
motley assemblage that streamed hither and thither, to take part in
the ceremonial. It was a period when devotion was worked up into a wild
enthusiasm, and all for the time, whatever their age, or sex, or land,
or character might be, were hurried along by the same frenzied zeal, and
felt the ordinary differences of life and society to vanish before the
august ceremony that for the time had assimilated all classes of the
faithful. On the morning of the 18th August, all the bells in the
churches were made to announce that the ceremony had actually begun. The
steamers on the Moselle were crowded with passengers, who disembarked
amid the discharge of cannon. All kinds of vehicles, in addition to the
regular post-conveyances, were called into requisition, and the romantic
appearance and interest of the whole was enlivened and enhanced by the
motley groups of pilgrims, in all varieties of costume, who had made
the journey on foot. Pontifical High Mass was performed by Dr. William
Arnoldi. An oration by Dr. Braun followed, bearing upon the great event
of the day. Then came the elevation and exhibition of the holy
relic; and at ten o'clock the procession of the pilgrims commenced.
Gens-d'armes were stationed without, the clergy of the cathedral
within,--whilst, in the immediate neighbourhood of the relic, was a
guard of honour, composed of the most respectable of the citizens, and
recognised by their silk sashes over the shoulder, in the yellow and red
colours of the city. Benches were placed from the portal on the right
side of the cathedral, to the choir, and between these the procession
moved. Each of the pilgrims was allowed to stand a short time before the
relic, yet so vast was the concourse, that between one and two thousand
are reported to have passed in the short space of an hour.

The relic itself was placed near the altar in a gold frame, with a glass
front at a considerable distance from it; its shape resembling a French
blouse,--the colour somewhat brown--though the poor peasantry were
taught to believe that to every eye it presented a combination of
colours entirely distinct. An opening was made on each side of the
frame, to allow the hand to come in contact with the relic; and whatever
did touch it, was believed to acquire a peculiar sanctity. A deep basin
was placed in front, to receive the offerings of the pilgrims, which
were to be given to the Cathedrals at Treves and Cologne, and to a
Catholic seminary in the former city.

No certificate of creed was required, so that the crowds of Protestants,
who were drawn from mere curiosity, had the fullest opportunity of
seeing what was to be seen. The ceremony continued daily, during the
whole six weeks, for twelve hours, and was opened and closed by the
chime of the cathedral bells. At the commencement the weather was fine,
but in a few days it became quite unsettled and stormy; yet nothing
could damp the long-cherished ardour of the pilgrims. Band after
band advanced, and, like the crusaders of old, all the sufferings and
hardships of the journey were forgotten as they approached the Holy
City. The fatigues of long travelling were so far relieved by addresses
from the clergy who marched with their parishioners, and still more by
the sacred music which, ever and anon, filled the air. Vast bodies of
clergy, from distant parts, arrived to take part in the ceremonial with
the general body of the faithful, and, afterwards, share in the heavy
duties of the Mass and the Confessional, as required for such an
extraordinary occasion. At last, to complete the arrangements, on the
evening of the 23d, an immense banner, with a red cross on a white
ground, was elevated to the top of the cathedral, to direct the weary
steps of the pilgrims, and to cheer their hearts as they approached the
august city. So vast occasionally was the concourse, that on some days
not fewer than about 20,000 were quartered within the walls. Fortunately
such arrangements had been made with regard to the supplies of
provisions, that but a small rise of price in the necessaries of life
was perceptible, which is certainly remarkable, when it is stated that
in one week, at least 150,000 strangers visited the city, and in the
whole time about 1,200,000. Truth also requires the remark--that, taken
as a whole, matters were conducted with general decorum and regularity,
though it requires but little knowledge of human nature to see that
where there was such a miscellaneous concourse of people, often ill
fed and ill lodged, the ordinary regulations and observances of society
would be disregarded, and a strong encouragement and temptation be given
to immorality and crime. Although it was officially stated that there
was accommodation in the city and neighbourhood for 20,000 persons,
still all the powers of military police, and clergy combined, could not
prevent many mournful scenes of misery and vice. It is, by the way, a
most significant fact that, along with the announcement now mentioned
there was added, under equally official authority, the urgent request
that "_all citizens and strangers should avoid all criticism on
religious matters or opinions_." If anything were required to convince
one that the high authorities of Treves were afraid of the effects of
free discussion, or even doubtful allusion to what might well make the
most bigoted inquisitive, this significant sentence is sufficient.
Such were the scenes which, with every variety of incident, were being
enacted at Treves--a melancholy exhibition of priestly power to give
currency and strength to superstition and blind idolatry, as well as of
the state of passive submission on the part of the people, to all that
the Church, in the arrogance of its blasphemies, may command. The voice
of politics was, for a time, hushed--the busy commerce of the city, and
even the harvest labours of the field were silent--everything like this
world's occupations and concerns were all alike neglected, to give pomp
and emphasis to the sad spectacle of men's faith deceived and led astray
by a piece of an old garment. Not merely from the poor villages in the
vicinity, but from the enlightened towns on the Rhine, from Coblentz,
and Bonn, and Cologne, the processions of pilgrims came. Take one
specimen:--On the evening of the 22d September, a most numerous
procession, which had left Cologne nine days before for Treves,
returned. This procession was composed chiefly of the lowest classes,
with a vast proportion of women of every age. A body of white-dressed
girls had advanced a long way to meet the procession, bearing all kinds
of church emblems in their hands--crucifixes, flowers, anchors, hearts,
&c. The pilgrims were all supplied with medals and engravings of the
Holy Coat, as well as with small books containing an account of its
history and miracles. These were people who looked poor and miserable,
and who evidently had not the means to undertake such a journey, and
yet, such was the passion for visiting Treves, that the pawnbrokers
reaped a rich harvest from the desperate attempts made to collect money
enough to supply their bare wants during their absence from home, and to
give their votive offerings to be applied as before mentioned. Cases the
most heart-rending have been published of poor people parting with their
last possessions to obtain means for the journey, from which they looked
for such marvellous results. The sick even were carried thither, with
the firm belief that they would be healed; and the debased devotion of
the pilgrims broke out in such expressions--"Holy Coat, we pray to thee.
Holy Coat, pray for us," and the like. The higher classes, of course,
consulted their own convenience in their modes of travelling, employing
the Rhine and Moselle steamers or their private conveyances; but it is
melancholy to think, that such vast bodies of the respectable classes
did lend their influence to these unholy exhibitions.

But without entering into farther details let us hasten to the closing
scene on the 7th October. At 2 p.m. the doors of the Cathedral were
closed, and the ceremony of removing the holy relic from public view
proceeded with in presence of the whole body of the clergy. At four the
doors were re-opened, and Bishop Arnoldi delivered a discourse, to a
vast audience, on the "_Unity of the Church._" At its close, began
the procession of the civil officials, of teachers of all grades, of
merchants and artisans, and of the guard of honour, dressed in black,
with wax torches, through the transept into the choir, to join in the
_Te Deum_. After the hymn of St. Ambrose had been sung, accompanied by
the thunder of the cannon and the pealing of all the bells in the city
and neighbourhood, the general procession advanced through the chief
streets of the city. The committee were in front, followed by the guard
of honour; they were succeeded by the different fraternities, all with
wax candles--a strong choir of singers, then vast crowds of the people,
with the various trades, each with their peculiar flags and emblems.
They proceeded through the chief parts of the city to the palace of the
Bishop, which was brilliantly illuminated. He, accompanied by the head
Bishop of Verdun and the dignitaries of the Cathedral, dispensed
the benediction. Then advanced from the arch-diocese of Cologne
a torch-procession, accompanied by instrumental music. The whole
proceedings were closed by the chorus,--"Lord God! we praise thee," in
the Cathedral. The chief streets of the city were illuminated in the
evening, and the grand organ continued pealing. In the middle window of
the Cathedral where, in former times, the exhibition of the relic had
taken place, was a transparency of the Cross, with splendid emblematic

While all this was going on within the Cathedral, outside there was
everything to call the mind of the devotee from the scene in which
he had taken part; for, in addition to the jostling and bustle of
the crowded city, there was everything in the way of the ordinary and
extraordinary sights of a fair, to make him forget the feelings
and object of his pilgrimage. Menageries, panoramas, plays, &c, all
solicited the attention and money of those assembled, equally with the
music and services of the Cathedral.

The bishops who had officiated during the ceremonial from first to
last, were those of Metz, Nancy, Verdun, Luxembourg, Spires, Limburg,
Osnabrück, Münster, Cologne, with several from Holland. Each bishop
entered the city amid the ringing of the church bells. The pilgrims from
France did not enter the city in processional order, but their clergy
were numerously represented. During the whole period, processions to the
city were not uncommon. Controversies between several of the journals,
as to many occurrences connected with the proceedings, have taken place.
Charges have been advanced, and as flatly contradicted, so that we do
not feel called on to detail either the nature of the charges or the
defence. It is easy enough admitting exaggeration on both sides.

It only remains to notice the inseparable adjuncts of such
proceedings--the _miracles_ which are said to have been effected. To a
Protestant, who has not spent some time in a Catholic country, it must
seem in the highest degree strange to hear of solemn statements,
by opposite newspapers in support of, or in opposition to, certain
pretended miracles; nay, not only so, but to have counter-medical
certificates pitted against each other on the issue. Yet all this has
lately been done. It would be worse than useless to recite the floating
stories which one hears in the neighbourhood, about Protestant clergymen
dying suddenly in the full possession of health, for having denounced
the whole thing as a piece of imposture to a body of passing pilgrims,
or of the many miraculous cures of sight, lameness, and the like. Yet,
that all this is fact, any intelligent and inquiring tourist of the
Rhine can testify. One case, in particular, created great interest,
that of the Countess Droste-Vischering, a relation of the Archbishop of
Cologne, who has been for many years unable to walk without the use of
crutches, but who, after beholding the Holy Coat, was enabled, to the
wonderment of all, to walk home unassisted. The plain truth comes out
from her medical adviser,--that she had been long suffering from a
diseased knee-joint, that she resolved at all hazards to go to Treves,
and that, while in a fit of ecstasy before the relic, she had excited a
degree of energy, in stretching or bending the diseased limb, which had
given the temporary relief, by relaxing the long rigid muscles. Since
this period she has had relapses, and is, we believe, now using the
crutches, which had been too hastily hung up in the Cathedral as a
thank-offering for her marvellous restoration. Yet this simple story
is paraded about and magnified into a miracle, to give still greater
_éclat_ to the Holy Coat and the church ceremonies connected with it.
It would be useless to enter into other details, when all are equally
barefaced. The above case may be selected as a rather better than
average specimen of the popish miracles of the continent.

And now, in finishing this part of the subject, we may be allowed
to quote the opinion of one of the great organs of German
Catholicism:--"Who can deny that this exhibition of the Holy Coat has
been an event for the Rhine provinces and the West of Europe, which,
in its consequences, must be of the greatest moment, whilst, for its
grandeur, in church history it is unprecedented? Proceeding from a small
circle, it has already embraced a wide circumference in its influence."
After enumerating the quarters from which the crowds of pilgrims
flocked, he proceeds:--"Who shall name those, principally from the
higher classes, who came as single pilgrims from distant cities and
lands, and what language do all these bands speak? They proclaim the
triumph of faith over a system of false enlightenment; the victory
of the newly-awakened elements of the day over all overthrowing
tendencies--in a word, they proclaim the power of the Church, which
has brought together such vast bodies of men, separated among so many
princes by language and habits, yet made to act as the members of one
and the same body."

We now turn to the more pleasing part of the subject, the statement of
the more striking particulars connected with the late re-action against
this God-dishonouring spectacle. It was impossible that a movement so
singular and extensive should escape being made the subject of general
newspaper remark and criticism. And, as the fact has proved, it has
been argued and re-argued in a hundred ways by Catholic and Protestant
journals, so that the whole bearings of the case, and the positions
of all the different political and religious parties in the country in
relation to it, have been brought and kept steadily before the public
mind. This, it is clear, can be but seldom realized where the State
puts its _imprimatur_ upon the full freedom of the press, and where,
in consequence, _public opinion_ is but struggling for existence and
definite expression, instead of being, as in Britain, the one element
which overrules and directs the movements of the whole social system.
_We_ can appreciate the effects of _free inquiry_;--and when we know
that this is now being unsparingly applied to the workings of that
system, which "loves the darkness rather than the light," we may,
under God's guidance and blessing, be allowed to look for new and large
results, in the way of the exposure of errors, which have the sanction
of long centuries of ignorance, and of great preparatory movements at
least, for the reception of the truth as it is in Jesus. This is one
great point gained; and if the spirit of inquiry, which has now been
excited, could be but well directed, we might already rejoice in the
Protestant prospects of Germany. That men feel unsatisfied with _what
is_, is manifest--that feelings long kept under, are now obtaining clear
and full expression--that men are being undeceived in having so long
believed a lie, and often in agony of spirit are seeking for the simple
truth to bring peace to their souls--all this, and much more is evident,
and calls loudly for our active sympathies and prayers.

A few points call for especial notice:--

Very many of the _Catholic_ journals have taken their stand against the
late scenes at Treves. It is true, that several of those Journals may
have been actuated by secondary motives in so doing, or what is the
notorious fact, that some, at least of such Journals, want almost
entirely a religious character; and though Catholic in name, are infidel
in fact. Still it is equally notorious, that several of the Catholic
Journals, whose orthodoxy is above suspicion, have lifted up their
voice against what has taken place, as scandalous to Christianity, and
eminently perilous to the Church.

In addition to the discussions which have appeared in the public
prints, a vast mass of pamphlets has been issued on both sides. The
most remarkable of these is, one issued by two professors in Bonn,
_Gildermeister and Sybel_ (the latter a Catholic,) entering into a
grave and learned historical inquiry as to the genuineness of the relic,
exposing in the most triumphant manner the various defences which have
appeared on the Catholic side,--and all characterized by the most severe
sarcasm, in holding up the trumpery of the system of relic-worship to
contempt. The title of the book is "_The Holy Coat of Treves, and the
twenty other Holy Coats_." A second edition was soon called for, in
which four other such relics were stated as discovered. It is generally
known, that among these numerous claimants for genuineness, the great
body of the French clergy have bid hard to prove that the Coat of
Argenteuil is the genuine one; and this view has been warmly defended by
one of the Catholic clergy of Einsiedeln in Switzerland--notoriously
one of the most celebrated places of pilgrimage in the world. More than
this, writings have appeared stating the events connected with the other
relics of the same name, and treasured with equal sanctity in numerous
Cathedrals; also giving an account of the separate and independent
series of miracles wrought by each as the true Coat of the Lord. It
would be tedious to detain the reader with more of such details. We
desire merely to notice the various workings of the movement in and out
of the Catholic Church. It may accordingly suffice to state in addition,
that poetry as well as prose has been called into requisition, and
that satirical ballads and lyrics have been numerously circulated,
and eagerly read by all parties. Many of them are filled with the most
stinging remarks on the general position and moral character of the

But by far the most important element in the movement, and, in fact,
that which has determined its subsequent direction, has been the
following letter of John Ronge, priest in Silesia, dated Laurahütte, 1st
October 1844, and entitled, "Opinion of the Catholic Priest John Ronge,
on the Holy Coat of Treves:"

Laurahütte, October 1st.

Opinion of a Catholic Priest in regard to the Holy Tunic at Treves.

"Christians of the nineteenth century,--you have heard--you know it--men
of Germany--you know it--spiritual and temporal teachers of the German
people, that what would once upon a time have sounded in our ears as a
fable or a fiction--is neither a fiction nor a fable, but real truth
and verity. Bishop Arnoldi of Treves has exhibited for the adoration and
reverence of Christians, a garment called the Tunic of our Lord!

"According to the last account, five hundred thousand persons have
already made a pilgrimage to see this relic, and every day fresh
thousands flock to it, especially since the garment in question is found
capable of curing diseases and working miracles.

"The news has spread among the people of all lands, while certain
priests in France maintain that they alone possess the real tunic of
Christ, and that the one at Treves is an imposture. Truly the saying
here applies,--'He who can occupy his mind about such things without
losing his reason, has none to lose.' Five hundred thousand men--five
hundred thousand intelligent Germans have--already hastened to see or to
adore a piece of dress at Treves! The greater number of these thousands
are from the lower orders of the people, and, besides, in deepest
poverty,--oppressed, uneducated, stupid, superstitious, and in part
demoralized. They leave the cultivation of their fields, the labour of
their workshops, the care of their households, the education of their
children, to take part in a Heathen festival at Treves--a disgraceful
spectacle, which the Romish Church displays before their eyes. Yes, it
is a Heathen festival, for many thousands of the credulous multitude to
render to a piece of dress,--the work of human hands,--that regard and
adoration which are due to God alone. And what pernicious consequences
must follow from these pilgrimages! Thousands of the pilgrims deprive
themselves of the necessaries of life to raise the money for their
journey, and the offering which they make to the Holy Tunic--that is,
to the clergy. They purchase it by sacrifices of their comfort, or by
begging--only to starve on their return; to suffer want, or to fall sick
in consequence of the fatigues of the journey. If these external results
are sufficiently melancholy, the moral consequences are far more so.
Will not many of them, reduced to want by the expenses of their journey,
endeavour to relieve themselves by unlawful means?

"Many wives and virgins sacrifice their purity of heart, their
reputation, and their chastity, destroying thus the peace, the
happiness, and comfort of their families.

"In fine, this most unchristian exhibition but creates an inlet for
superstition, hypocrisy, and fanaticism, with all the vice that follows
in their train. Such is the blessing spread abroad by the exhibition
of the Holy Tunic, and it is a matter but of small moment whether it be
genuine or false.

"And the man who publicly displays this piece of dress--the work
of human hands--for reverent regard--who leads astray the religious
feelings of the credulous, ignorant, or suffering people--giving thereby
an impulse to vice and superstition--who wrings their substance from
the poor and starving multitude--who entails on Germany the ridicule of
other lands, and who draws more close together the heavy clouds which
float already dark and dismally above our heads--this man is a bishop, a
German bishop. It is Arnoldi, Bishop of Treves!

"Arnoldi, Bishop of Treves, I therefore turn to you, and demand, by
authority of my office and calling as a priest and teacher of the German
people--in the name of Christendom, in the name of the German nation,
and in the name of its instructors--that you put an end to the
unchristian spectacle of the exhibition of the Holy Tunic--and withdraw
this garment, that the offence which it has given may not be still
increased! For, do you not know--as bishop you ought to know--that
the Founder of the Christian religion left to his disciples and his
followers not his coat but his spirit?--his coat, Bishop Arnoldi of
Treves, belongs to his _executioners!_ Do you not know--as bishop you
ought to know--that Jesus taught--'God is a Spirit, and they who worship
him must worship him in spirit and in truth?' and He may be worshipped
everywhere, not only in the temple at Jerusalem, on the Mount Gerizim,
or at Treves, in presence of the holy tunic; do you not know--as bishop
you ought to know--that the Gospel expressly forbids the adoration of
every image and of every relic? that Christians in the Apostolic age,
and in the three first centuries, suffered neither images nor relics
in their churches (and _they_ might have had plenty of them)? that the
worship of images and relics is a Heathen custom, and that the Fathers
in the first three centuries abused the Heathens on account of it? We
read, for instance, (Div. inst. 11., c. 2,) 'Neither do these besotted
men understand that if the images possessed life and motion, they would
rather worship the man by whom they had been formed.' Lastly, do you
not know--as bishop you ought to know this also--that the vigorous and
healthy mind of the German people was first degraded to the worship of
relics by the Crusades in the 13th and 14th centuries? when the exalted
conception of the Godhead which Christianity inculcates, had been
obscured by all the lying marvels brought from eastern lands? Hark ye!
Bishop Arnoldi of Treves, you know all this, and better probably than I
can tell it to you. You also know the effects which superstition and
the idolatrous adoration of relics have worked among us, namely, the
religious and political bondage of Germany; and yet, you can display
your relics to the admiration of the multitude. And were it even
possible you should be ignorant of all that I have told you,--that the
salvation of souls was your sole aim in the exhibition of this Holy
Tunic,--you would, notwithstanding, have two sins upon your conscience.
In the first place, it is unpardonable, if the garment in question
actually possess saving power, that you have withhold its benefits from
suffering men until the present time. And, secondly, it is unpardonable
that you accept the offerings of these countless multitudes. And is it
not unpardonable that you, as bishop, should accept of money from our
poor and starving people, especially when you have seen, not many weeks
ago, that hundreds have been driven by necessity to mutiny, despair, and
death? Do not allow yourself to be deceived by the influx of thousands
upon thousands, but, believe me, that while hundreds of thousands of the
German people hasten with holy fervour (?) to Treves, _millions_,
like myself, are filled with horror and the deepest indignation by the
disgraceful spectacle. And this indignation prevails not in individual
ranks and parties, but among all classes--even in the Catholic
priesthood. Judgment will overtake you, therefore, sooner than you think.
Arnoldi! the historian is already seizing his pen, to submit your name
to the contempt of your contemporaries and of posterity, and stigmatizes
you as the Tetzel of the nineteenth century!

"And you, fellow-citizens of Germany, whether near or at a distance from
Treves, unite your efforts to prevent the continuance of such an insult
to the German name. You have various means of working, take courage and
employ them; endeavour each and all, with resolute determination, to
encounter and restrain the tyrannous despotism of the Romish Church.
For it is not in Treves alone that the modern traffic in indulgences
is carried on; you are aware that in the east and west, the north and
south, rosary, mass, indulgence, burial moneys, and the like, are still
increasing, and with them spiritual darkness. Forward, then! Catholics
and Protestants, together to the work! Our happiness, our honour, our
freedom are at stake. Do not the manes of your fathers, who stormed the
Capitol, frown to see you suffer patiently the Castle of St. Angelo to
lord it over Germany. Dishonour not the laurels of a Huss, a Hütten, and
a Luther. Give words to their ideas, and convert their will into deed.

"Finally, my colleagues, whose sole endeavours and desires are centred
in the welfare of your congregations, the honour, the freedom, and the
happiness of your German countrymen, keep no longer silence! You sin
against your reputation, your religion, and your fatherland, if you
longer hesitate to follow out your improved convictions. I have already,
elsewhere, briefly addressed you, and shall therefore now conclude.
Prove yourselves the true disciples of Him who gave up all for truth,
and light, and liberty. Show that you have inherited, not his garment,
but his spirit.

"Johannes Ronge, _Catholic Priest_."

It may be at once seen that this letter is the production of no ordinary
man; and, at a glance, it cannot but remind us of him "whose words were
half battles." Few living Germans have such mastery over their language
in all its native strength. It was just such a production,--short,
nervous, and earnest,--that was required to give utterance to the
slumbering thoughts and sympathies of thousands. Appearing in a distant
and comparatively unknown part of Germany, it soon found its way
wherever the German language was spoken, and, wherever it has found its
way, there it has called forth a deep and hearty response. It has now
been translated into various languages, and, despite all the preventive
measures of police and clergy, it may now be found by the thousand all
over Germany. It is not our present purpose to state in what points the
views of the author seem defective. Our immediate object is simply
to lay before the reader some facts illustrative of the anti-Catholic
movement which has taken place, and is now advancing steadily. But first
a word about the course pursued with regard to the author. From events
which had previously taken place in the Cathedral of Breslau, to
which diocese he was attached, the suspicions of the ecclesiastical
authorities were not long in fixing upon Ronge as the author of
the above letter, which appeared anonymously in the _Sächsische
Vaterlands-blätter_. His manly love of truth disdained equivocation
or subterfuge, and, as the result of all, he was deposed and
excommunicated. A complete host of pamphlets were called suddenly into
existence by the daring letter of one who, calling himself a Catholic
priest, had still the hardihood to asperse the character and cause of
the one all-holy Church, by attacking one of its most imposing rites,
and treating with scorn and shame one of its consecrated bishops. Every
possible charge, affecting his character as a student, as a clergyman,
as a teacher, and as a man, was raked up against him. Those who had
not a tithe of his power of fierce and indignant invective, when truth
called for the vindication of its claims, made up for the defect by
personal scurrility and the most vulgar abuse. His former associates in
the priesthood openly denounced him, to exculpate themselves from
any supposed sympathy with the sentiments or with the man. A friend
generously undertook his defence--who declares, that at the Catholic
seminary he was distinguished by great diligence in his studies, as well
as by the purity of his moral life; so much so, that the superintendents
stated that they had seldom under their care a young man who sought to
become acquainted with the truths of the Catholic faith with such a deep
and holy earnestness. After a slight sketch of his doings in Breslau and
Grottkau, he states, "that every friend of his must feel persuaded that
the above letter proceeded from his inmost convictions. He is utterly
incapable of falsehood, in word or deed; and, as regards moral
character, that he is, perhaps, too stringent towards himself, but mild
and considerate to others. It was only the public wild proceedings of
the ultra-Montanists and Jesuits that filled him with holy indignation."

Ronge himself soon felt and saw the importance of the step which he had
taken. He was now beyond the pale of the Catholic Church, obliged to
relinquish all in defence of the truth, and exposed, from all quarters,
to attacks which his conscience told him to be groundless. The cause of
truth, for which he had already suffered, again demanded that his voice
should be upraised; and this he does in the following _Justification_,
which cannot but interest the reader as the autobiography of a
remarkable man, but especially from the fearful disclosures which it
makes of the present state and actual workings of Romanism. All the
facts adduced with regard to his anguish of mind--his deep sense of
the spiritual bondage under which he lay--his inward and outward
struggles--his determined opposition to what he believed to be wrong
and unjust--his plain but triumphant vindication of his conduct
throughout--all give a character of _truthfulness_ to the document,
which is its best guarantee, and makes it emphatically _speak for
itself_. It may enhance the interest of the following document to know
that it was soon prohibited by the censor of the press, notwithstanding
that the press of Leipsic is one of the freest in Germany:--


In the following pages are submitted to the unbiassed judgment and
consideration of my fellow-citizens and the Christian public, the
various documents connected with my deposition and excommunication.
It is not therein my aim to vindicate my conduct in the eyes of the
_so-called_ national teachers, or priests, or of the _so-called_
Catholic Christians who are notoriously hypocrites, and who only
follow religion for a livelihood, or as a means of attaining power
and eminence: to attempt my vindication before such as these would be
degrading to myself and to the nation. I desire a verdict of acquittal
from those alone, who either have, or long to have, religion dwelling
in their souls, and who are earnestly striving after light and truth,
Christian love, and moral freedom. All such will acknowledge that I have
fought a good fight, and not for myself alone; they will grant me their
confidence, that we may devote our united strength to the accomplishment
of that great and desirable end, to the achievement of which we are
called, as well by our holy profession, and our sense of duty, as by
our care for the moral and temporal well-being of existing and of future
generations. The Author.


I was born on the 16th October 1813, in Bischofswald, a village in the
circle of Neisse, and near the Giant Mountains. I was the third child of
my parents, who had ten others, of whom two died young. We were set to
work at an early age, and while my elder brother was employed in the
cultivation of the farm, my father's little flock of sheep was placed
under my care and keeping, as the second surviving member of the family.
Such was my chief occupation between the ages of six and twelve, during
spring, summer, and autumn, the winter being spent in the performance of
other species of rural labour. My father was serious, fearless, of sound
judgment, and devoid of superstition. He died in March 1842. My mother
was entirely devoted to the care of her family. She died in October
1831. My earliest instruction was obtained in the village school of
Bischofswald, where the only branches taught, even in the highest class,
were reading, writing, arithmetic, and the learning by rote of the
Catechism and Bible history. It was only during my last year at school
that I was instructed in geography and the history of Silesia. In
my lonely shepherd life my mind dwelt often on religious subjects (I
studied my Catechism and Bible history for the most part when in the
field with my flock) on the future life, on time and the eternity
beyond; and from such thoughts it acquired at times a melancholy tone.
One of my teachers persuaded my father to send me to the High School,
which, owing to his numerous family, he would not otherwise have done.

In 1827, I entered the High School at Neisse, and left it in 1836. I had
but little taste for foreign languages, and could not form a friendship
for Horace or the other Romans; but, on the other hand, I delighted
in history and German literature. Rotteck enchanted me. It was with
inexpressible joy that I entered the University of Breslau. I felt and
knew that I was free, and would indeed have been ashamed to waste my
time and freedom in idleness and sloth. Associated with a company of
noble-minded youths, it was our earnest endeavour to cultivate our
minds,* and strengthen our bodies.

     * After a somewhat different fashion, perchance, than that
     prescribed by Rome.

I chose theology as my profession, because I felt a strong leaning
towards teaching, for the gratification of which the holy calling
appeared to me peculiarly suited. I somewhat feared its formalism,
but was not then acquainted, as I now am, with the compulsory and
hypocritical system of the Romish hierarchy. Although several of my
friends endeavoured to dissuade me from the choice, I fancied myself
possessed of such strength of character as would enable me not only to
meet the danger, but to turn it to account. My father, who made me so
ample an allowance, that beyond a small bursary, I needed no further
assistance, left me free to choose. As I perceived, however, that his
means of providing for my brothers and sisters were straitened by his
liberality to me, and feeling desirous, also, not to diminish their
fortune, I deemed it my duty to relieve my father, as soon as possible,
from the sacrifice which I knew he made on my account. This was an
external reason, and one, I do not blush to own, for determining to
enter the Roman Catholic priesthood. And how many of the clergy are
there who can say, that in their choice of a profession, they have not
been influenced by similar motives? While I was at the University I
also fulfilled my period of military service at Breslau, in the corps of
sharpshooters, under Major von Firk.


In the month of December 1839, I was received into the Seminary, and
entered on a period of mournful and painful conflict. The confidence I
had hitherto reposed in our spiritual teachers was soon expelled from
my breast by a nearer survey of their mode of life, and replaced by the
deepest horror and loathing, which seized me when I became aware how
shamefully they abused religion, for the purpose of degrading and
subjecting the people to their will; when I saw by what a fearful veil
of hypocrisy deceitful Rome surrounds us from our cradles to our graves;
when I saw how the holiest ordinances are insultingly misused, to crush
the dignity of human nature. The disgraceful fetters galled me, which,
till now, I had not felt, and I perceived what many of my fellow
sufferers endured, and all the more severely, the less they dared _avow_
the causes of their suffering. For the policy of Rome knows how to
entwine in bonds from which there is no escape, all Christians who
profess its creed, and more skilfully than Moses, who once drew water
from the barren rock, can conjure money from the impoverished people;
but their principal care and most consummate skill are constantly
directed towards their servants, that is to say, to the inferior clergy
and _their_ education. The inferior clergy are so securely bound in
spiritual and external fetters, that for the greater number it is almost
impossible to escape. The peculiar and appropriate armoury for these
degrading bonds is the College or Seminary for priests. It is there that
the youth, who wishes to devote himself to the teaching of the people,
has the brand of slavery stamped deep and painfully upon him; it is
there that he is condemned to holy idleness; it is there that his spirit
is fettered, and bowed to blind obedience by superstitious dread and
sacred statutes; it is there that he is inoculated in heart and soul
with hypocrisy and selfish egotism; it is there that man is degraded
to the condition of a slave, and becomes a passive tool. The pain, the
torment of this sacrifice is fearful, and nature instinctively revolts
when she is robbed of her holiest rights, of the most valued gifts of
the Creator. And yet the slave is silent, and all the more so, as the
grave is deeper where his freedom and his dignity lie buried. It is but
seldom that a despairing cry escapes from his inmost soul, and dies away
in utterance, amid the empty sounds of simulated prayer.

I cannot think, without a trembling in my every nerve, on all the
ignominy which was heaped upon us, and on the disgraceful treatment
which we _must_ endure; and I could wish the pen I write with were a
blazing torch, to illuminate the deep abyss wherein hearts are stifled,
and spirits overwhelmed amid hymns of praise! I need, however, only to
depict in quiet, softer colours, what I have seen and felt, to rouse
with certainty the wrathful horror, and the deepest sympathy of the
greater part of my fellow citizens, who may still be unacquainted with
the fearful strategy of the Church of Rome.


During the first few days after entering the seminary, I saw depicted
in the countenances of my companions in misfortune, consternation,
or timidity, the deepest grief, or a sort of desperate resignation,
according to their several dispositions; the first evening, for example,
of six acquaintances and friends, who were consigned to the same cell,
none uttered a single word--all the six were so amazed, that they strove
to forget their speechless misery in sleep. Forty young men, in the
bloom and strength of manhood, glided silently about like mummies. We
looked on one another in gloomy, speechless sorrow, and each one sought
in the countenance of his friend, to ascertain the state of feeling in
his heart. We all endeavoured to attain that heroism, which can resolve
at once to sacrifice the heavenly dreams of youth, its hopes, its
wishes, and its freedom,--in order, as they told us, that we might the
more successfully promote the temporal and eternal well-being of
our fellow-men;--as if it were possible for _him_ to raise men to
independence and to self-respect, who cannot boast of their existence
in his own bosom. That, however, which most excited my indignation and
horror, was the ghastly stagnation, which seen from one side exhibited
depression,--from the other, levity, discontent, or cowardice. The young
man of four and twenty had closed accounts with himself and all mankind,
the dearest ties were broken which bound him to his fellow-men. The
glowing and joyful fire of youth, which seeks to achieve for itself
a bright futurity, was extinguished; and egotism poured the freezing
poison of suspicion, envy, and self-interest, into the warm and
youthful veins. We felt as if we were all enveloped for eternity in one
impenetrable shroud, and as if doleful spirits were singing to us burial
songs throughout the gloomy night. The despotism of the Roman hierarchy
glared at me like an awful monster--a monster which digs graves for
the burial of living youth--graves which engulf the freedom and the
happiness of nations. The young man who wishes to become a teacher of
the people, must witness his open and upright manliness ruined; he must
blindly obey, and submit himself to the most degrading oppression, for
the _first_ injunction laid on him is _unconditional obedience_. He sees
that the arrangements and decrees of the hierarchy are contrived
for the degradation, not the improvement of his country, and that he
himself, as the servant of a foreign power, is expected to assist in the
oppression of the land which gave him birth. He is also doomed to bear
the weight of infamy which accompanies every state of slavery, and
the disgrace which now attaches to the entire priesthood, from the
immorality of many among them, whose celibacy is a false profession.

Can glittering coin, wrung from starving poverty and pious fanaticism,
or wines and dainty viands, make amends? Yes, if he prefer the life of
a gluttonous animal to that of a man. What _can_ sustain him? The hope
alone that he may one day aid in breaking the chains which, bind his
native country! That thought it was which animated _me_, and kept me
upright under the pressure of my fearful servitude. But must not the
nature and the disposition suffer from the depression, and will the
moral vigour take no scathe? Ah! What if one were to give way to the
pressure--to settle down into a hypocrite--to become an object of
contempt to one's self and the rest of mankind. All these doubts and
apprehensions forced themselves _even at the first_ before my mind,
and filled my spirit with ineffable sadness,--and they were and are
justified--but too well justified.

Then the time was skilfully divided between attendance at ceremonies,
and the repetition of lip-prayers, for from five to six hours daily
(including the breviary prayers.*) Five hours of prayer daily, and such
prayer! for young men of twenty-four years, designed to be the salt of
the earth! Rome uses devotion as a means of enslaving men. I tried by
every means to escape from the debasing feeling, from the reproach of
conscience _that I had done nothing._** After the breviary prayers were
concluded, there were only about three hours left daily for private
study; and the spiritual work was to be performed in the midst of twenty
youths who had no farther examination for office to undergo, and
who besides were otherwise _finished!_ It was with horror that I
contemplated the possibility that my moral strength might be weakened by
the influence of idleness and dissimulation. My case was therefore often
desperate, and many a time in fever heat have I outwatched the night,
and prayed in spirit "If it be possible, let the bitter cup pass from
me." I was forced to drink it; but a gleam of prophetic brightness
lighted me through the night, and showed me in my dreams the day of my
emancipation. Miserably diseased in mind and disposition, I left the
seminary in 1840.

     * The time was divided in the following manner:--Morning,--
     From 5 1/2 to 6, matins; from 6 to 7, breviary; 7 to 7 1/2,
     mass; from 7 1/2 to 8, breakfast; from 8 to 10, lectures;
     from 10 to 10 3/4, free; from 10 3/4 to 11 1/2, study;
     from 11 1/2 to 12, breviary. Afternoon,--Before and after
     dinner, prayers in the chapel--altogether about 3/4 of an
     hour; then 1/4 or 1/2 an hour breviary; from 2 to 4,
     lectures; from 4 to 4 3/4, free; from 4 3/4 to 7, study.
     After supper, about 1/2 an hour of prayer in the chapel and
     an hour breviary. The prayers are Latin, and always the same;
     a larger number on Sundays and feast days. It is the duty
     of every ecclesiastic to pray through the breviary once each
     day; the vicars go through these prayers for the canons as
     a sort of feudal service. The pupils are allowed, twice a
     week, to cross the threshold of the institution for a few
     hours only. No speaking is allowed during meals. The
     treatment is degrading. Two rooms for study are allotted to
     each twenty individuals. The sleeping places, without
     stoves, are arranged for three, six, eight, and fifteen.
     The largest was called _The Menagerie_.

     ** One of the Prebendaries themselves, at the time of our
     departure, called the Seminary "a little hell."


I entreat you, German parents, permit not one of your sons to enter
this grave of moral freedom and independence; you draw upon yourselves
a heavier weight of blame than if you took their lives--for the moral
death is worse and more painful than that of the body! German mothers
preferred in former times to put their children to death, rather than
that they should be Roman slaves; while now-a-days it is esteemed the
highest honour which can be conferred upon a German youth, that he
should become the slave--the consecrated slave, forsooth--of the Roman
bishop! But the yoke is not acknowledged, for it is imposed under the
holy name of religion.

And you, my youthful friends, who choose for yourselves the profession
of teachers, let me conjure you to retire from this grave of moral
strength, and independence--from the seminary! You will be losers there
in mind and body, were you even giants in both! You will become slaves!
You will become hypocrites! Attractive though the office of a teacher
be, and enlarged his sphere of working, it is rendered a dangerous one
for manly dignity--for truth and freedom, by the disgraceful ignominious
fetters imposed on it by Rome. Choose, therefore, rather a hard
couch and a laborious life than the degrading indolence of a polluted


The gates of the Institution, which we were only permitted twice in the
week to pass, to visit our fellow-men, at length were opened--the
gates of that martyr-seminary for soul and body, that grave of
independence--the proscribed threshold was crossed, and I beheld once
more before me the free and lovely world; I inhaled long draughts of the
fresh air, as I gazed on the free blue sky in all the brightness of the
glorious sun. But the sun and the heavens were changed to me--the world
itself seemed narrow and contracted, for my soul and spirit were in
bonds, disgraceful bonds! I hastened to my native place--there, I
fondly hoped, to lose my burden--there, where I dreamed the dreams of
youth--there, in my mountain home! The kindly eyes of my brethren, said
I to myself, will revive and warm this heart, which has been frozen by
the hypocritical and piety-feigning glances of the domineering creatures
of Rome.

And the kindly eyes of my brethren _did_ revive me, and the joy of
meeting again _did_ scare away the inworn pain of servitude; but before
long the feeling returned with redoubled force. Dishonouring marks of
reverence awoke me from my short-lived dream. An aged man approached,
well-known to me, and dear from boyish years. I extended my hand to
him--he fain would kiss it, the aged man! Is it not sufficient, I
exclaimed within myself, that _I_ should be a slave? Must I also be a
tool to work the degradation of my fellow-men! O Rome, thou hast
mixed poison in thy consecrated oil, to kill the dignity of man. I
was regarded by all with timidity and reserve, as if I had all at once
become a higher, a superhuman being! And how? By the fiat of the Pope?
Oh, not a more exalted being; but a slave, who, by the practice of holy
hypocritical pretence, was intended to deceive his fellow-citizens! So
passed the first period, in dead stupefaction of soul, while I, adorned
like a victim, was installed in the ceremonial service of the Romish
Church. The thought of my father and my family, the prejudices of
the Catholic world, which must believe, and for the most part _does_
believe, in the eternal duration of the Roman bondage (called a Church,)
paralzyed my spirit and my character. And yet, amid my fetters, there
survived still _somewhat_ to uphold me; a presentiment that my chains
would break; a feeble ray of light illumining the dreary, and seemingly
eternal darkness of my prison. But _when and how_ should they be broken?
I was now to be occupied in the cure of souls, the pulpit and the school
attracted me--through them will I labour, thought I, my position may
perhaps improve. So I went to Grottkau, whither I was called in March


Firmly resolved to be a teacher of the people, in the true sense of the
expression, not in that assigned to it by the Church--resolved to speak
the truth, without respect of persons, and to become no hypocrite, I
entered on my office at Grottkau. Being unacquainted in my sphere of
labour, some time elapsed before I came to know my field of action, or
was enabled efficiently to discharge the practical duties of my station.
I found my school to be the field best adapted to the measure of my
capacity. Independently of the natural love I have for children. I was
always happiest in this holy garden of the Lord, where youthful minds
expand, which is brightened by thoughts as swift and radiant as the
lightning, and where the lovely innocence of childhood exhales its
sweetest fragrance. In school I was free from the espionage by which I
knew my pulpit to be surrounded--which oppressed my heart, and nearly
stopped my utterance; free from the humiliating feeling which the
Confessional aroused within me, where I seemed to be an idol, or a
judge set over the thoughts and consciences of my fellow-men. When the
pressure of the priestly yoke at times became too much for me, I have
fled for refuge to the youth and innocence of the school, and have never
failed to leave it with my strength renewed. These children little knew
the infinite service which they rendered me! Notwithstanding that I
laboured with all my might, as well in the school and the confessional,
as in the pulpit, most resolutely to oppose and counteract the
superstition, the hypocrisy, and all the consequences of priestly
oppression and dissembling, the result could be but small, on account
of the mighty barriers interposed by the hierarchy to every step in the
direction of spirituality.

Within these fearful barriers, and under such restraint, and fettered
thus in mind and body, with watchful care to sow and plant, what, after
all, might be doomed to suffocation in the choke-damp of superstition,
became from week to week less bearable; and all the less so, the more
clearly I perceived the terrible effects of Popish despotism on the
people, and the depth of moral degradation to which many of my brethren
had sunk, bringing the danger all the nearer to myself. I saw it now to
be my duty, openly to declare against the abuses and the soul-killing
tenets of the Church of Rome,--rather to die a bodily than a spiritual


The inducements which gradually brought my determination to maturity,
and imposed the carrying out of it upon me as a duty, I here submit to
the consideration of all men:

_I stand forth against the Romish hierarchy, because it is the means of
crushing my dignity as a man, and reducing me to a state of disgraceful
servitude._ The dignity of man is acknowledged to consist in his reason
and his will, and in the unrestrained use of both, for the attainment of
moral freedom,--"Be ye therefore perfect, even as your Father which is
in heaven is perfect." As Romish priest I dare not freely exercise my
reason and my will. As such I only dare to think, and speak, and write,
what the Church decrees, or what my superiors may allow. If I think, or
speak, or write, more or otherwise, I am declared to be a _heretic_,
i.e. a most grievous criminal. God himself must only be conceived of and
adored, according to dictation of the Romish Church; and even He dares
to accept no other adoration at my hands, than that prescribed by the
Romish Church, in which, forsooth, salvation only can be found. As
Romish priest I have no freedom, either of thought or conscience.
Neither can I boast, as such, of any of the other rights of man, in
opposition to my superior,--him I must blindly obey. The Romish priest
is not regarded as a being personally free, but as an automaton,
employed to spread abroad the mist of superstition. To cast off this
bondage, and become a free moral agent, is a holy duty and injunction of
the Christian religion, which demands freedom in the exercise of virtue.
In order, however, to convince all men more clearly of the urgent nature
of this duty, I shall attempt a feeble portraiture of the paralyzing
influence exerted on myself, by priestly oppression, while I held an
office in the Church--a portraiture in which the chief features in
the case of hundreds among my colleagues may, at the same time, be

I felt a morbid irritability in contemplating the consecrated barriers
which cut me off from my fellow-men; my spirit, sympathy, and active
impulse died away, and in their place, in spite of my endeavours, cold
indifference, and emotions even of hatred crept upon me. I likewise felt
a suspicion of my colleagues, inexplicable in its earlier stages, and,
in particular, I shunned those friends in whose society I had passed
the unfettered years of college life, in order that I might not
unnecessarily open the wounds which the loss of my freedom had inflicted
on my heart.*

     * I have often heard the complaint made, that the younger
     members of the Catholic priesthood keep aloof from former
     friends; a moving cause is given above, which may lead us
     rather to compassionate than to condemn them.

But most crushing of all was, the performance of certain ceremonies at
the altar, by which, as I knew and could perceive, many of the community
were misguided into superstition and hypocrisy. Was I not forced to be
a party to dissimulation, in the performance of such ceremonies? Could
I help feeling myself lowered in my own opinion? When I knelt at the
altar, with the credulous people behind me, and cast a look within,
I shuddered in my inmost soul, an unspeakable woe tormented me, and
I uttered the despairing cry, "And hast thou so long suffered this
humiliation?" Each morning I was awakened, as with a piercing shriek,
by the thought that I was a slave, and that my life was not only useless
but fraught with degradation to my fellow-men--that I had been robbed
of a bright career of useful labour, and that not even time itself might
put an end to all my ignominy! My fetters were indeed consecrated, and,
according to the prejudices of the world, they seemed to be unremovable.
The world appeared determined to bear patiently the hideous yoke--its
course was still the same!

I saw before me the abyss of falsehood or an early grave! Should I
succumb? Unworthy cowardice! My courage gradually rose; courage for the
contest of life and death within me. I determined to burst my fetters,
and to leave the enchanted circle,--a circle drawn amid the incantations
and the curses of Romish tyranny in the middle ages; I resolved to
assist in tearing off the mask of holiness from the hypocrisy of a
thousand years. This my resolve was only strengthened by contemplating
the fate of my colleagues, some of whom were greater sufferers than even
I. A few were snatched away by early death; they sank mute, and cheated
of their lives, into the grave. He cannot surely have a drop of blood
within his veins, who would not feel it boil with indignation to witness
such a sight. And yet their fate was envied by the others, who glided
through the world like mummies, in the springtime of their days, and
hourly, slowly faded into death. Some rush, to deaden feeling, into
drunkenness and other vices, or sink into insensibility, and passively
vegetate from one day to the next. Others still, of livelier character,
seek to lose themselves in the hierarchical spirit of the middle ages,
and because ours are other days, and they, although they know it not,
belong to _them_, have originated that modern species of bigotry which
rises ofttimes into madness. Such heroes then surround themselves with
halos borrowed from the early Fathers, and affect the startling voice of
the preacher of repentance.

At last I sought, in order quite to fix my resolution, the countenance
of those among the priests esteemed of noblest character; but found
little real manliness, good and amiable (?) as several of them might
be,---or from a certain vacuity of mind, effeminate inertness, or
well-concealed ambition, might _appear_ to be.

_I stand forth against the tyrannical dominion of the Romish Hierarchy,
because it prevents me from faithfully pursuing my avocation as teacher
of the people_.

I am bound, as teacher of the people, and as teacher of religion, at all
hazards to guard, not only my own freedom and independence, but those
also of my fellow-men. In accordance with the language of the New
Testament,---"we are all the children of one father, we are brethren,"
it is my duty, as teacher of the people and of religion, not only to
proclaim freedom to _all mankind_, but to endeavour to realize the
lesson, because it is the freeman who alone is virtuous. It is, in fact,
my duty as a teacher, not only to strive after intellectual perfection
for myself, and to keep pace with the gradual development of mind,
but to carry before my parishioners, the banner of civilization and
humanity. I am not only impeded by the tyrannical oppression of the
Romish Hierarchy in the discharge of all these duties, but am even
commanded to proclaim bondage for freedom, darkness for light, and for
progress--intellectual stagnation! I must thereby call down upon myself
the deserved hatred of the present age, and the curses of posterity.

_I stand forth against the tyrannical dominion of the Romish Hierarchy,
because I am convinced that what the Hierarchs call the Catholic
religion is not the true Catholic doctrine,--is not a doctrine
calculated to promote the happiness of nations; that the Romish,
Hierarchy does not teach and act in accordance with the leading
and fundamental doctrines of the religion of which Christ was the
author,--but that it has introduced abuses, and framed ordinances which
are calculated to undermine the intellectual and physical welfare of
nations, and only to increase the power and riches of a privileged
priesthood, of whom the Roman Bishop is the head._

It were superfluous here to attempt the proof of this position by a
long-winded, learned treatise. The fruits of the Romish Hierarchy have
been proving it for centuries, and it is in the power of every man
to convince himself, who wishes to be convinced. Or is it perhaps in
consequence of the _blessings_ emanating from Rome, that a portion, and
not a small one, of our people, languish in the most abject poverty?!
while another portion, and within it many preachers of religion,
especially the higher prelates, are rolling in superfluous wealth? Are
these the fruits of a Church in which alone is salvation, that some
should be kept by spiritual oppression and ignorance in superstition and
insensibility, and even degraded to a level with the brutes, in order
that others, and among them many consecrated servants of the Pope,
may be the lords and drivers of the dishonoured horde! How then can the
injunction of love to our neighbour find a place in such a Christian
Church, in such a society of Christians? Where then is the succour of
alone-saving Rome, amid so deep spiritual degradation, amid so great
bodily want among our people? Where is the practical working of
brotherly-love! where does she labour for the elevation and improvement
of the people! Where is the right understanding of the Lord's Supper,
the feet-washing! and where the living exemplification of so many
others of the essential doctrines of the New Testament? Has it not all
degenerated into form and pretence! Has not religion been degraded to
a system of usury and hypocrisy, which aims alone at the enriching
and aggrandizement of the Church of Rome! The Church, as the Romish
Hierarchy exhibits and teaches, is but a phantom of falsehood and
dissimulation, which floats unseen above the nations, keeping them in
constant dread and blind obedience. Hence comes the alienation from the
priests, the horror and bitterness of feeling unanimously entertained
by the considerate and right-thinking portion of mankind, towards the
so-called Romish Church! And the animosity is well deserved; for
what efforts do the priesthood make for the temporal and spiritual
amelioration of the suffering people? The greater number of them pass
coldly by, as the priests and Levites passed by the poor Samaritan of
old. We grant that hundreds of the priests are not aware, or are careful
to avoid the knowledge of the game they play, and the Power they
serve as blinded instruments. They speak, His true, of the spirit of
_reconciliation_ and the _Church_, but they halt by the dead letter.
They know not, and they do not desire to know, that _the Church means
all mankind, and mankind here on earth!_ That the need of reconciliation
is indeed most pressing, for mankind in its present condition--I mean
a reconciliation and approximation of the educated and uneducated,
the moral and immoral, portions of mankind. Yea, more, I mean a
reconciliation between the rich and the needy portions of humanity. This
reconciliation and approximation must be brought about preeminently by
the teachers of the people; it must result, not in empty words--with
them we have been surfeited--but in actual deeds. This is a vineyard of
the Lord, where the ears are ripe for harvest, and where labourers
are required. These labourers need no authority from Rome, no outward
consecration--it must be in their spirits--they must have consecrated
hearts! When they appear, the people will acknowledge them, although
they bear no Roman symbols. But seeing that the Romish Hierarchy love no
such labourers--the people's truest friends and guides,--seeing that
she resolutely opposes the moral elevation of mankind, it is a duty to
contend against her and her false system--and such is the duty I shall
now endeavour to fulfil.

_Lastly, I stand forth against the tyrannical dominion of the Romish
Hierarchy\ because its statutes tend directly to the sundering and
oppression of my native land_.

The Roman Catholic priest is debarred by celibacy from the family tie,
bound by his vow of blind obedience, by the tenets of his faith, as well
as by external interest, to the Bishop of Rome, and thus withdrawn and
estranged from the interests of his fatherland. Instead of awakening and
strengthening patriotism and community of feeling, the Catholic priest,
as teacher of the people, is engaged, by the statutes of his Church,
_to stifle both_. History abounds with proofs of the truth of this
assertion, with instances in which their fatherland, and the most sacred
interests of their country have been betrayed, by bishops and priests,
to the Roman Pontiff. But we dare not stop to consider the past; every
day bears striking testimony that the priesthood strives with might and
main, again to bring the German nation under the tyranny of the Pope and
of the Jesuits. Hundreds, truly, of the priests are not aware of this;
but what a load of guilt should _I_ incur, were I to lend myself to the
work of degrading and subjecting my fellow-countrymen,--of delivering my
fatherland over to the Jesuits and the Pope! On the contrary, it is my
bounden duty to contend against the despotism of Rome, and to lend a
hand in working out the emancipation of my native country. These are
the arguments which render it incumbent upon me--on all of us--to fight
against the Hierarchy, and strive to bring about such an improvement
and a reformation in the Church, as shall satisfy the requirement of the

A thorough reformation of the Church, it appeared to me, could only be
brought about by General Councils,* in which laymen should bear their
legitimate part; and I determined to lay down my views in writing on
this subject, together with a sketch of the Romish abuses, which I
expected to have ready by the autumn of 1843. The necessity for such a
step was the more impressed upon my mind, the more I saw increasing
the violence and lordliness of the High-Church and Jesuitical party
throughout Germany, and particularly in Silesia, under Dr. Bitter, who
was at that time Vicar of the Bishopric. Dr. Bitter disposed and managed
all things to his own heart's content. Such curates and chaplains as
did not please him were most unceremoniously deposed, translated,
imprisoned, admonished in letters couched in Russian terms, and dealt
with as suited his humour. Thus was Mr. Beer, the curate of Brieg,
translated in defiance of his people's wish to retain him; Mr. Schotte
was degraded to the lower office of chaplain, and Mr. Weiser,
the chaplain, on a mere calumnious charge, without examination or
opportunity of defence, ordered to the Seminary for punishment. These
were men of unblemished reputation, their only fault being that they
were not sufficiently abject and Romish. But Dr. Bitter rained and
hailed on right and wrong, and enacted the part of Providence in the
diocese of Breslau.

     * Even in the Seminary I spoke to several of my quondam
     friends, of the necessity of General Councils. Some of them
     have probably forgotten now, what then they acknowledged to
     be needed.

The inferior clergy, who besides had few or no privileges in comparison
with their superiors, were really most arbitrarily dealt with. A feeling
came over us at that time, as if the days of club-law were at hand. In
some places, as in Brieg and Ziegenhals, it really came to violence. But
Ritter's creatures _rose_, and managed in the spirit of their master.
He, in the fulness of his power, issued an interdict against mixed
marriages, at once dishonouring to us, and injurious to chastity; he
commanded that the old Silesian ritual, which probably dates from the
time of trials for witchcraft,* (it contains at least much of the same
stuff,) should again be brought into universal use, because he learned
that some curates no longer employed it.** Neither did the Seminary
escape him; he ordered the pupils never to mix with their fellow-men
except in clerical costume, (probably for the sake of exemplifying
neighbourly and brotherly love,) and enjoined it with suitable
earnestness. Bigotry and fanaticism increased still more and more
among the young and newly-appointed chaplains, and the old experienced
ministers saw themselves all at once outdone in piety.

     * This expression is not too severe; for according to the
     Silesian ritual, in baptism, for instance, the Devil is
     three times driven ont of the innocent little child. At the
     consecrating of Holy Water, and at other consecrations, in
     like manner, a number of exorcisms are employed.

     ** At the same time, indeed, he promised a new one, which,
     however, after a lapse of three years, has not yet appeared.

Numerous rosary associations and prayer-meetings were established.
Schneeweiss, the professor of divinity, instituted such meetings in
Neisse, and introduced rosary-books from Bavaria, which, pandering
to the grossest materialism and sensuous worship, manifest the most
horrible Jesuitism. The members paid weekly two silver groschen, which
money, with that realized by the books, was reported to find its
way into the coffers of the Jesuits in Bavaria. Herr Schneeweiss is
generally considered in Neisse to be a Jesuit. The pupils at the High
School were compelled to join these associations.

Similar reunions were established in other places, among which
that under pastor Schaffraneck, at Beuthen, in Upper Silesia, was
distinguished. Thus were we placed by Dr. Hitter, the _quondam_
Hermesian,* quite on the ecclesiastical war establishment of the middle
ages. Nothing now was wanting to Dr. Ritter, except monasteries and
convents, for which pious mites were already beginning to be collected,
and the bishop's mitre of Breslau. He lost his point, however; for Mr.
Knauer, a mild and humane priest, was chosen. Now commenced a general
intrigue among the High Church party. Mr. Knauer was complained of at
Rome as incapable; Rome, therefore, hesitated for a year to confirm
the appointment, during which time the agitation and disturbance in
the diocese increased. Citizens and honest Churchmen in the province
complained loudly of this bad state of matters; but neither the
incorporation of burgesses, (who, to be sure, have no voice in matters
affecting the good of their souls, or regarding their clergy,) nor
a single pastor, deemed it incumbent on them to oppose the tide of
disorder and of bigotry. Aroused by the disgrace of our increasingly
gloomy prospects, and excited by the shamelessness of the creatures of
Rome, as well as by the intrigues in regard to the bishopric of Breslau,
which were daily coming to our ears, I resolved, although I had never
yet written for publication, to attack the scandals which issued from
the chapter of Breslau, and wrote the paper entitled, 'Rome and the
Chapter of Breslau signed 'A Chaplain.'

     * Disciples of Professor Hermes, formerly of Bonn.

[This article appeared in No; 135 of the "Vaterlands-blatter," of the
year 1842, and runs thus:--


"Although a year has already elapsed since Prebend Knauer was chosen
Bishop by the Chapter of Breslau, the appointment has not yet been
confirmed at Rome, notwithstanding that the diocese has been two years
without a bishop, and that other bishops, much more lately chosen, have
been confirmed long ago. The circumstance excites, however, no surprise;
for Knauer is a moderate, and humane, perhaps even a liberal-minded man.
And yet it is somewhat strange that the Chapter of Breslau should submit
so patiently to see its own and Knauer's honour so abused by Rome, and
the rights of the diocese so disregarded! To object to this, that the
Pope considers Knauer unfit for his office, were absurd. How should
the Pope know aught about it, unless from informers, (his divine
qualifications being now no longer admitted,) since the Chapter, by its
choice, has declared him to be fit, and since it cannot be supposed that
a college of venerable men would elect as bishop an unsuitable person,
merely for the sake of appearances--not to advert to the influence of
the Holy Spirit, whose efficacy would thus have been unrecognized in the
election! But how can the Pope have more faith and confidence in a few
pitiful informers, than in a whole college of men upon oath? How can he
place these men in such an equivocal light before the eyes of the world,
and so impede their usefulness in the diocese! Should this, however,
happen, will not the Chapter incur a moral obligation, to vindicate
its own and Knauer's honour, as well as to preserve the rights of the
diocese? Hitherto the Chapter of Breslau has been silent. Is this
from meekness? No one recognises in this silence an act of Christian
forbearance, but somewhat very different! Of course, the people have
learnt in the catechism, 'The Church is the community of all Christians,
not the Pope.' People have strange notions in our day, especially about
Church and State, freedom and the rights of man! All would fain have
freedom and their rights, and, as they say, their warrant is in the

"It will here be objected, however, that the Pope, having the right of
confirming, has, consequently, also the right to refuse confirmation.
Let us cast all else aside, even reason and honour, and consider the
matter from the point of view of historical right, acquired by force.
The Pope, then, has the right to confirm the bishop, consequently also
to refuse confirmation; but the Chapter, in like manner, has the right
of choosing, and, consequently, of not choosing--perhaps even the right
of refusing admission to a bishop not elected by themselves. It is not
difficult to determine whether Rome or the Chapter of Breslau would fare
the worst in such a contest.

"Or may not the informers, who throw suspicion on the sentiments and
fitness of Knauer, perhaps be members of the Chapter; and the Italians,
presuming on their want of unity, venture to enact in Germany a part
they have not dared for long? The silence of the Chapter and the
impudence of Rome are scarcely capable of any other explanation. Should
it indeed be so, and should individual members of the Chapter have
sacrificed the welfare, the rights and privileges of the diocese, to
their private ambition, their jealousy, or to other interests, and thus
have made a level road for the Italians again to enter Germany, then
would we call upon these men, who bear rule in the diocese, and whose
part it is to promote our welfare, and to protect our rights and
liberties, to vindicate their trust, if they do not wish to incur the
reproach of want of principle, and dereliction of their duty.

"Are those days to return, in which it was necessary to send gold-laden
cavalcades to Rome, in order to become a bishop? If so, the Canons of
Breslau would have but faint chance of a mitre. It is very remarkable
what the Italians have of late demanded of us Germans. We are commanded
to pray that the Spaniards may return to their old ecclesiastical
bondage! Who have been the leaders of this bloody drama? Perhaps the
disobedient people? Espartero, and such like! We know in Germany, and
almost every school-boy knows it, that, next to the tyranny of royalty,
the bloody slaughtering of this fine people has been for the most part
occasioned by the licentious, lazy, Rome-subjected priesthood! We also
know that the French Revolution was not occasioned by Danton, Camille
Desmoulins, and others of their stamp; but by the tyranny of Louis XIV.,
the profligacy of Louis XV., aided by the shameless excesses of the
court nobility, lay and clerical. No less are we aware that the Thirty
Years' War was not caused by Luther and Melancthon, but had been
hatching for centuries by Rome and the lay and clerical nobility of
Germany. It is, indeed, most necessary that we pray for ourselves and
for the Spaniards, but it shall be for the freedom and independence
of ourselves and them--in union with which alone can true religion and
morality exist--and not for slavery and dependence, which can at best
engender dissimulation and hypocrisy.

"A Chaplain."]

Well did I know that I was subscribing my own sentence; and yet, on
closer consideration, I could not believe that the Hierarchy, or Church
as it is called, would treat both truth and justice with such open
scorn as I found that it could, through Dr. Ritter and the vicar-ship of

About six weeks after the appearance of the article, I received a note
from Dr. Ritter,* in which he called upon me to tell him, on my priestly
word of honour, whether I were the author of the article, "Rome and
the Chapter of Breslau," or had taken any part in the drawing up or
despatching of it. Dr. Ritter, the vicar of the bishopric, a priest,
nearly sixty years of age, with grey hair, dared to call me to account
for speaking the truth!--me, who, as a priest and proclaimer of the
truth, had lately been sent into the world with the commission, "to
speak the truth without fear of man,"--Dr. Ritter, who himself had sent
me forth, ventured to call me to account for doing so! And is religion
thus to be turned to mockery and reproach! Should I not speak the
truth? or had I not spoken the truth? I had written down that the Romish
priesthood were preeminently the cause of the German Thirty Years'
War, and of the Revolutions in France and Spain. Are these not facts of
historical notoriety, contained in every manual, and should I not
dare to write them? I had also asserted that the calumnies and want
of unanimity among the candidates for the bishopric, were probably the
reasons for the Pope daring so long to delay the confirmation of Bishop
Knauer, and keeping the diocese in confusion. The divisions and quarrels
of the candidates for the bishop's mitre were known to all the diocese,
and also _who_ had principally contributed to the retiring of the humane
Bishop Sedlinitzky--much indignation was felt at the discord occasioned
by clerical ambition; and I, forsooth, should not give utterance to the
opinions of my fellow-citizens and colleagues! Dr. Ritter, then, placed
falsehood and hypocrisy on the altar, and desired that I should honour
them, in calling me to a reckoning for my truthfulness.


     "Public opinion points to you as the author of the article
     entitled "Rome and the Chapter of Breslau," and signed "A
     Chaplain," in No. 135 of the Saxon Vaterlands-blatter. I
     hereby require you, on your word of honour as a priest,
     distinctly to declare, by return of post, whether you are
     the author of the above-named article, or the sender of it,
     or, in fact, whether you had any share in the drawing up or
     despatching of the same.


     "Canonical Vicar and General Administrator of the

     "Breslau, December 20, 1842."

Had I given vent in words to my first angry feelings,--had I not allowed
some weight to the existing relations between the higher and inferior
clergy,--had I not, in short, considered the situation of my orphan
sisters--Dr. Ritter would indeed have received a very different reply
from that, which, after the exercise of much self-control, I sent him.
After calm reflection and consultation with a man of experience, I
came to the resolution, that as I had written in the name of my
fellow-citizens and colleagues, I ought not to make any concession
prejudicial to their rights, and must rely for protection on the laws.

According to the laws of Prussia, the name of an author can only be
required, and that by the courts of law, when his writings contain
matter of a libellous or seditious nature. If this law be not applicable
to one of the inferior clergy, it follows that he dares not give
utterance to any assertion or opinion which may be distasteful to his
superiors (were it the most undeniable truth,) without being deprived of
his situation. But who would willingly at once give up his place? Were
governments to proceed after the fashion of Dr. Ritter, or the Church,
no commissioned-officer would dare to notice an abuse, without running
the risk of being examined and cashiered by his superiors.

Dr. Ritter had no right to take me to task, since by so doing, he
interfered with the privileges and the duties of the whole body
of inferior clergy, in calling me to account, by his inquisitorial
questions, for a simple expression of opinion. I dared not accede to
his demands without injuring religion and my colleagues. Or has the
so-called inferior priest, perhaps, no right to tell the truth? or to
tell it without placing his situation in jeopardy! Is the so-called
inferior priest not under the protection of the laws of his native
country? and are the superior clergy perhaps the only, and the
infallible pillars of the truth? With a due regard to my good cause, and
my defenceless condition, compared with that of an unfettered opponent,
I gave the short reply--"that my conscience forbade me to satisfy such
queries." The Papists and priestlike blockheads always turn the darkest
side, and so they did in my case. Dr. Ritter and his Popish allies
would gladly have attributed to me falsehood and cowardice, and pointed
triumphantly to these words, as well as to other disconnected passages,
in order thereby to lower me in the eyes of my fellow-citizens, but in
vain. That I desired to save my place, as was asserted, by cowardice and
falsehood, I have practically refuted, by demitting my office, braving
poverty and want, although it would have been very easy for me, by
falsehood or retractation, to have escaped from the suspension.*

     * See the Vicarial document of February 184 3. The letters
     of Mr. Schneeweiss, and the conference with the Prebend F.
     at the Episcopal audience.


On the other hand, I have heard the objection made, that though I only
wrote the truth, it was still unbecoming in me to write it as I did
(?) Those good folks who so degrade the truth, and whose knees tremble
before every tribunal, are informed, that it was not only my privilege,
but my sacred duty so to write. The paper in question was written with
the feeling of a _German_, who was ashamed and irritated, by seeing
the despotic sway of Rome ever extending, wider and more boldly, and
constantly employing for its extension (an extension which brings
all vices in its train,) Germans--men whose paramount duty it is, as
teachers of the people, to lead them to freedom and independence--since
without _these_ no virtue is conceivable. I wrote that article as a
teacher of the people, and as a teacher of religion, who holds it as his
most sacred duty to oppose all injustice, and to call it by its proper
name, should it even be perpetrated under the shelter of the altar, and
the hypocrisy of the more than millennial supremacy of Rome. There
was besides somewhat peculiarly novel in Dr. Ritter's distinctive
characterizing of the peculiar word of honour. He puts questions to me
which I am called upon to answer on my _priestly_ word of honour.
Does Dr. Ritter always rate the quality of honour by the office of the
individual? If so, are those who have no office also without honour!
My honour is one and indivisible--that which God has implanted within
me--the honour of being a man. This honour I esteem more highly than
that priestly conceit with which, instead of love, Rome seeks by
consecration to inoculate her slaves, and which generally sinks them far
below the level of their fellow-men, though they may dream that they are
high above them. My honour and my manly dignity are of greater value in
my eyes than all your livings, prelacies, and mitres; and I am ready to
defend my honour against every one, even against Dr. Ritter. Dr. Ritter
will perceive from this that I was not lying bound, as he supposed, by
that hierarchic spell which extinguishes reason, and de grades man's
will to the condition of a limping slave. No, I had seen the Church
beneath the screen of her hypocrisy--I had seen her in all her
deformity, and I felt myself called on, at once by my manly dignity, and
my love to my neighbour, to assist in tearing off her curse-laden mask.


As his Jesuitical plan of terrifying had not the effect which he
probably desired, he tried other means to entrap me; and behold! a
denunciation appeared to him likely to achieve his purpose. About a
year before, it had been observed by a burgess nearly related to the
priesthood, that I wore a shorter coat, and longer whiskers, than
accorded with his orthodoxy, and he denounced me in consequence. Dr.
Ritter had not delayed, from his giddy height of holiness, to set me
right, in the genuine style of ecclesiastical dictation. I had replied
to his communication in something like the following terms:--It would
grieve me, by my external appearance, to give offence to any pious
Christians, and I should gladly (though my present dress is exactly what
I wore while in the Seminary) avoid it. I would indeed even relinquish
my vocation were I considered unfit for it. I added at the close, that I
might be able to exonerate myself in some particulars, but that I would
not occupy, with such insignificant matters, his valuable time,
which was doubtless demanded for the consideration of things of more

Proceeding upon this, Dr. Ritter applied to Kaspar Hoffmann, clerical
superintendent at Grottkau, and called upon him to report concerning

I had never interfered with this Kaspar Hoffmann. In money matters,
usually an apple of discord between vicars and curates, I had allowed
him to do as he pleased. He paid me only 32 dollars annually (16 were
added by the town,) and derived handsome profits from offices, which
I, perhaps, discharged for him,*** Still he would gladly have seen me
removed, because we held opposite opinions, and I enjoyed the good-will
of the community, which he seemed to grudge me. He truly reported the
_crimina_, which he had perceived in me, and added, that he spoke the
sentiments of _all_ the citizens, although, as it afterwards appeared,
he had _two_ only on his side.

     * Dr. Ritter says In his lecture, when alluding to this
     occurrence, that he does not know whether I have vindicated
     myself.    Very satisfactory!

     **  Kaspar Hoffmann showed me this application before my

     *** Curate Pech, a learned, accomplished, and distinguished
     man, wearied with the long-protracted contest, had taken a
     curate and retired.

     **** From one dollar, which I received for reading the
     burial service, he deducted 10 silver groschen. May I ask
     whether an usurer takes so large a percentage, as such a
     curate from his chaplain?

These said crimes, as contained in the Decree of Deposition, are as
follow:--1st, That I wore too short a coat, and unsuitably long hair. I
could only treat this silliness with derision, gave therefore no reply
to it, and direct my readers to the answer of my honoured defender, and
to the testimony of the citizens and magistrates of Grottkau. I must,
however, observe, that this accusation was only made as a pretence, the
real ground of complaint being my conduct in the school and the church,
as the following occurrence will disclose.* In the schools of which I
was the director, I ordered the teaching of German history, caused the
pupils to write exercises for the improvement of their style, commenced
the formation of a juvenile library, and conducted the religious
instruction not altogether according to the authorized Catechism,
because I perceived that _it_ tended rather to prejudice the minds
of the pupils against religion than to implant it in their hearts.
I visited, besides, the Sabbath-schools, and strove to rid them of
superstition and hypocrisy. Kaspar Hoffmann, like many other suchlike
_faithful_ ministers, had instituted a regular system of espionage, and
watched my doings. In his priestly zeal he slipped privately into one
of my schools, put several bullying questions to the children, and when
they, in terror, could not answer him a word, he beat the religion of
love into them with a birch-rod. When I, enraged at his ill-treatment of
the pupils, called him to account, he replied, that well-grounded doubts
were entertained of my orthodoxy, that I did not proceed according to
the accredited Catechism, _taught German history_, &c.! This betrayed
the quarter whence his inspiration had descended. My answer had,
however, this effect, that Mr. Hoffmann discontinued his visits to my

     * My dress was quite black, and was far outshone in elegance
     by that of the clergy of Breslau. Besides, I know full well,
     that Catholic priests may deck themselves most gaily, and
     yet retain their offices.

In the second place, Kaspar Hoffmann had reported that I conducted the
ordinances of worship in an indecorous and undignified manner. This,
in the sense in which he meant it, is a shameless lie; for, although I
held, and still hold, many Church forms to be contrary to the exalted
conception revealed to us of the Godhead in the Christian religion, (can
it, for instance, be supposed, that God is honoured or the community
edified, by unintelligible mumbling of Latin and hypocritical up-turning
of the eyes?) I have still too great respect for all religious
conviction, in whatever form it may be manifested, to insult it, or
endeavour to bring about a change, in such a manner as I am represented
to have done. I submitted to the forms prescribed, without, indeed,
hypocritical up-turning of the eyes, whining, or the like, by which it
is easy to acquire extravagant metage,* and a character for sanctity (I
saw this shameless game played almost daily.)

     * The fee paid for the performance of masses.--Trans.

It was, besides, a moral impossibility that I should have given offence
by my remarkable behaviour, being so constantly galled and worn down
by my bondage, and by my grief at being compelled to assist in
disseminating superstition and hypocrisy, that I stood generally quite
exhausted by the altar. Yes, the mental agony which I have endured on
that spot, and which was manifested in my exterior, must have produced
an exactly opposite impression than that for which he blamed me--and it
did produce it. If Kaspar Hoffmann's piety took offence at this, then
must it be equivalent to none, since he considered hypocrisy alone to be
true decency and dignity. (What remains to be said on this subject will
be found in my Defence before the Council.)

Lastly, It had been reported that no one would take me for a Catholic
Clergyman who did not know me to be one. This, I must confess, sounded
to me very like the language of praise, as I have endeavoured never to
make any distinction between myself and my fellow-citizens, seeing that
I desired to be neither more nor less than a man and a citizen. Does the
narrow blue stripe constitute the pastor and teacher? We know that lying
and feigned words are uttered in spite of the clerical stripe, and that
the glittering vestments of the priest cannot shut out dissimulation,
but, on the contrary, that they promote it.



In addition to this charge to Kaspar Hoffmann, Dr. Ritter had
commissioned a zealous divine of the younger school,* to persuade me to
retract. On the 1st and 15th of January 1843, I received letters from
him, and from a narrow-minded priest in the College at Neisse, in
which, under cover of the most high-flown expressions of Christian
brotherly-love, I am required to become a contemptible liar. As these
letters are written in ecclesiastical style, and reveal the character of
Dr. Ritter--his artifices, and those of the men who permit themselves
to be made his tools, I consider myself called upon to publish them:
besides, the writer is no friend of mine, as the Decree of Suspension
falsely intimates, but merely an acquaintance.

I had at first almost believed that the assurances of friendship
contained in the letters of Schneeweiss were true, in spite of their
suspicious highflying; and although I had already, in like manner, been
deceived by others of my colleagues, I was almost tempted to believe
in their honesty. But after the epistle of the narrow-minded priest had
betrayed to me that Dr. Ritter was in the game, I was forced to despise
the letter-writer as a hypocrite. Schneeweiss feigned friendship, but
he could have no respect, and therefore no friendship, for me, when
he recommended me to commit an act of baseness, namely, the denial
of well-known facts--the shameful recall of that which I had lately
asserted--and a cowardly and degrading submission to the despotism of
Dr. Ritter. I suppose, also, that Schneeweiss had imagined that I was
quite imbued with hierarchic views. He might in that case represent the
blind and cowardly submission as an act of virtue on my part; but he
could not expect that I should retract the blame I attributed to the
quarrels and _informings_* of the candidates for the episcopate, and
even my censure of the long delay on the part of the Pope--for they
were injurious to the Church. Had he considered my station as a Catholic
priest, as a teacher of the people, and of religion in the sense of
Christ's teaching, and desired to be accounted such himself, he could
not have advised me to a disgraceful retractation and denial of a truth
which I had dared to avow. No; he would have encouraged me to bear
unflinching testimony to the truth, and in the face of greater danger
than the loss of office.

     * Compare the Decree of Suspension of January 30th, 1843.

For that _is_ true, which I have written; the quarrels and intrigues of
the candidates for the bishop's mitre, I repeat it, have been proved,
and they were (I myself have heard it,) the theme of scandal and censure
at once to priests and laymen. It was disgrace enough to the clergy,
that no one of the elder ministers dared openly avow his censure--that
they loved their livings more than truth and their fair name. But
Schneeweiss does not seem to have thought of these things. It may
be gathered from the mixture of assertions and contradictions in
his letters, that he was not quite clear of the propriety of what he
required of me, at the same time that he does not seem very well to know
what he would be at. However, so it also happens with many others of
my colleagues. They become inconsistent in their opinions; for, being
called to fight in the front rank for truth and freedom, they, on the
contrary, act in opposition to them, as the conscious or unconscious
slaves and servants of the hierarchy. I fancied, when I knew Schneeweiss
in earlier days, that he had a more enlightened zeal, but Gibbon's
words, alas! are true--"The spirit of bigotry, at once so credulous and
insinuating, when it has once taken root in a noble mind, overturns by
degrees the living principles of virtue and of truth."

     * I have received the most precise information in regard to
     them from trustworthy men, well acquainted with the
     episcopal candidates.


"My Dearly Beloved Brother,--You will be surprised to receive a letter
from me, but do not let your surprise induce you to forget that it is
sincere affection which prompts me to address you.

"I have just learned in Neisse that a heavy storm is gathering over
you. You are said to be the author of an article in the Saxon
Vaterlands-blatter, in which language is employed very unlike what one
would expect from any Catholic, not to speak of a Catholic priest. It is
also said, as I am assured by an otherwise trustworthy and respectable
man, that you have been questioned in regard to it by the right reverend
Administrator of the Bishopric, and that you have returned a very
evasive, answer. If it be really so, Oh, let me entreat that you will
not neglect to say at once Pater, _peccavi!_ (Father, I have sinned!)
Write immediately to the right reverend Vicar, and assure him, with a
self-denial which would be highly honourable (?) to you, that you wrote
in well-meant (?) precipitation. If you do not follow my brotherly
counsel, you may expect, from the determined character of the right
reverend Vicar, soon to be suspended (deposed), as I have also learned
from respectable authority. And to what would this suspension lead! Oh,
believe me, my dear brother, it would then be no longer in the power of
your former friends to help you. So long as we are Catholics, Rome must
always be to us the centre point of the visible Church; and so long as
we wish to be Catholic Christians, and particularly priests--servants
of the Catholic Church, we dare not speak and write of Rome in such a
slighting manner,--I might say, with the hatred and contempt exhibited
in the article, which I have also read. I assure you, that not even
Protestants would take you under their protection, if you are really the
author of that article. I will not speak of Catholics. In so far as I
am concerned, I marvelled at the author's deficiency in historical and
theological knowledge, who had subscribed himself 'A Chaplain.'

"Be not offended at my openness. A well-meaning brother must not
hesitate to speak the truth even at the risk of the momentary loss of
a brothers affection. I entreat you once again to do immediately what
I advise. I know you to be an otherwise well-disposed person (_what
honour!_); it would grieve me to see you brought into a position which
cannot, now-a-days, be honourable (_do I not understand?_). It is
great-minded to make amends for faults and for offence which one
may have given! and little-minded to have the courage only to impugn
time-honoured truths, without acknowledging the fact as soon as
questioned by those who, in virtue of their station, have a right to
demand the acknowledgment;* and so, dear friend, behave wisely and well,
and turn away all evil from yourself. Make my respects to your Vicar.

     * Great is the absurdity of this sentence; small the man
     and priest who can desire to see truth degraded to the
     condition of a venal slave.

"Now, dear friend, seek counsel of your God, and I know you will take
decided steps in consequence. May peace be with us throughout the new
year. With this invocation I conclude these hasty lines, which sincere
brotherly love has dictated. Your true Brother,


The letter of the narrow-minded priest referred to above is as

"Neisse, January 12th 1843.

"Honoured Brother,--You will not surely take it ill that I speak my mind
to you in regard to a matter which must be causing you embarrassment
at present--I mean the article in the Vaterlands-blatter. The paper had
lain here unnoticed for several weeks, when it accidentally fell into
my hands at the house of Baumgarten the merchant; and on account of its
bitter, passionate tone, not only in regard to the Pope himself, but the
extent of his authority--on account of certain hints in regard to the
narrowing of the power of the bishops and the want of the proper conduct
of the cure of souls, which the people have a right to expect, as the
grace of the Church, from the apostolic vicars and curates--in short,
on account of all these circumstances, I hastened to submit it to
Schneeweiss for inspection. But besides the Number which contained this
article, there was another, and indeed the preceding one, which at the
end gave a list of the contents of the letter box, and also mentioned a
contribution from Grottkau. This it was which led to the suspicion that
you were the author. Full scope was now given for violent discussion at
the parsonage, and they wished at once to inform you of the suspicion
under which you lay. An opportunity was found in candidate N., who,
at the suggestion of Schneeweiss, was enjoined to call upon you on
his homeward journey to Breslau, and disclose all to you,--but nothing
farther. No application to Ritter was made from hence, and, according to
the declaration of Schneeweiss, N., who is at present in the Seminary,
must have blabbed there. Since your embarrassment is now known, that is
to say, Ritter's threat in case you should not confess--Schneeweiss has
written to you at once, Ritter having expressed a wish that your friends
and brethren in this quarter should come to an understanding with you,
and try to move you to a retractation of the article. Schneeweiss, much
puzzled at not hearing from you, has again applied to Ritter, through
Peschke in Breslau, to endeavour to stave off the execution of the
threat, and successfully, as we yesterday learned. Peschke advises him
strongly to persuade you to confess, in which case nothing more would
be demanded of you than that you should insert a modified article in the
same paper, without signature, and adds, 'If you had not entreated for
him, Ronge would already have been proceeded against--he would have been
suspended.' I have already told a long tale, but not yet come plainly to
the point which so much annoys me. It is this,--through _me_ it was
that the article first became known to the clergy, and I should bitterly
reproach myself were you to be brought into trouble on account of it.
You may judge from this what comfort it would afford me were you to
relieve me from my unpleasant situation by a settlement of the affair.
Do it for my sake, (?) regard my peace of mind, should it cost ever
so great a sacrifice! It involves no sacrifice of conscience--such a
sacrifice no one has a right, _ex abrupto_, to demand. The Catholic
Creed is not involved--otherwise, I apprehend, from your straightforward
character, you would no longer be holding office in the Church. I
beseech you, therefore, to relieve me from my painful situation, where
I am tortured now, and may be incurably tortured at a future day, should
you be overpowered. S. would gladly talk over with you this unpleasant
affair, if it were agreeable to you to come here; and, if that be
inconvenient, he will employ his acquaintance with Ritter to facilitate
an adjustment. Ask N. also, who knows me,--and I think you will
entertain no suspicion of my sincerity. Perhaps he may even accompany
you, which would delight me. He also is among the shipwrecked ones. With
all brotherly love, your friend,


On the 15th of January I received a second letter from Schneeweiss,
which differs essentially from the former one. If the tone of the first
is lordly and dictatorial, that of the second is gentle, more prudent,
is addressed to me as an individual, and calls in my nationality to his

"My Dear Brother,--Once more I write you a short letter, although I
feel nearly persuaded that you will not thank me for it. My former hasty
lines have remained quite unnoticed. Were I actuated by any other motive
than affection, I might feel myself somewhat slighted, but love bears
all, hopes all, and does all, that can promote the welfare of a brother
(?!). Once more I beg of you to bring this unhappy affair in Breslau to
a conclusion. I assure you that your character, supposing you to be
the author of the article in question, shall not be compromised (_how
forbearing is our mother Church!_), as I know from an authentic source.
Believe me, you have injured yourself by your evasive answer,--it will
not bring you out of your scrape.

"Act resolutely! If you be the author of the article, answer, like a
man, 'Yes I am,' and submit to reproof (_indeed!_). If you be not the
author, answer also in that case like a German man (_even this chord
the Church does not disdain to strike!_)--'No, I am not.' If your time
permits, pray visit me for a few hours. Things are more easily explained
when face to face. You have no time to lose, as I learn from a sincere
and honest friend in Breslau.

"Only believe that I love you sincerely while giving you this advice.
Should you consider me mistaken or shortsighted, I cannot help it. You
may, in time, be convinced that these lines are dictated by the purest
and most anxious affection. God be with you, and with your sincere


"Neisse, January 12th, 1843."


About the same time seventy Silesian curates inserted a most pathetic
article in "The Sion," and, in an address to Dr. Ritter, implored him
to call me to account, and, if I made any difficulty, to depose me. As I
afterwards learned, this address was not peculiarly well received at the
Chapter, but Dr. Ritter issued a letter of thanks.*

     * "I thank you for the Declaration you have sent to me from
     seventy clergymen, in regard to the affair of Ronge, and
     request you hereby to express to them my acknowledgments and
     thanks. The diocese of Breslau may rejoice (if Ritter
     compose the diocese) that it possesses such a company (why
     not flock!) of worthy young men in the vineyard of the Lord.
     Chaplain Ronge is already suspended, and has been summoned
     to the Seminary at Breslau.   Should he offer any
     resistance, I shall commission the Right Reverend Vicarial
     Board to dismiss him, without further delay, from the
     service of the Church.--Ritter.

     "Breslau, Feb. 8, 1843.

     "It is requested that the foregoing be forwarded to the
     dear colleagues and subscribers of the Declaration against

     "Ratibor, Feb. 16, 1843."

I have not replied to these seventy brethren, because I heard that the
greater number had signed it from fear of Ritter; but I consider that
I have atoned for the neglect, seeing that whilst they, according to
promise, were probably praying for me, I worked industriously for them.


After Dr. Ritter had also asked my friends in vain, whether I had hinted
to them anything about their article, the Decree of Suspension was sent
to me. Dr. Ritter had, at the same time, issued an order to a portion of
the Silesian curates, to refuse me the administration of all religious
ordinances. They, on their part, had issued the like order to their
bell-ringers and sacristans, so that, owing to the zeal of many of
those individuals, I could visit no church, without running the risk of
causing a disturbance, or being turned out.


The right reverend Board of Administration made known to us, on the 11th
of this month, that, as public opinion had pointed you out as the author
of the well-known article, "Rome and the Chapter of Breslau," you had
been asked, on the 20th December last, whether you really were so. You
replied to this question, on the 24th of the same month, that you could
not reconcile it to your conscience to answer the question put to you
by the right reverend Board. Time was allowed to you after this, and a
vicar, a private friend * of your own, was commissioned to encourage
you to make a distinct declaration and acknowledgment, in which case
you would still have been treated with indulgence.** Up to this time,
however, you have sent no reply to the right reverend Board, wherefore
we have been charged by the same to bring you to an investigation, ***
eventually, however, to suspend you, and to summon you, _ad exercitia_,
to the Seminary in this place. It has been further shewn to us, by Mr.
Rector Hoffmann of Grottkau,**** that so early as the 29th of October
1841 you had been seriously rebuked by the right reverend Board, on
account of your peculiar dress and unsuitably long hair; and although
Hoffmann, and several others of your colleagues, kindly warned you of
the impropriety of your dress, all has produced no effect, so that they
who did not personally know you, would never take you for a clergyman.
In addition to this, it has been said that you performed the priestly
functions without decorum or dignity, (_in plain German, without
hypocrisy and grimaces_,) whereby you have occasioned manifold offence,
(_unfortunately, the community has accused the right reverend Board
of falsehood_,) and impeded the efficacy of your ministry.(v) Since,
under these circumstances you cannot be appointed to the cure of souls,
as you yourself, on calm reflection, (_how liberal!_) on your sentiments
and your efficacy, (_why were not these two important items earlier
introduced?_) must perceive.

     * I leave the reader to frame his own opinion of this
     procedure, and of the friend who allows himself to perform
     the office of a spy.

     ** Why did Dr. Hitter make so great a work about the matter,
     if he wished to appear indulgent?

     *** What the right reverend Board understand by an
     investigation, is shown at the end of this Decree.   I shall
     also give my idea on the subject.

     ****  Why does the right reverend Board conceal the fact,
     that Kaspar Hoffmann was required to report! He himself
     showed me the requisition; and we know full well that my
     Lords are accustomed to have even the slightest indications
     of a wish on their part most carefully attended to by their
     obedient servants. Hoffmann naturally strove to please Dr.
     Ritter, and prepared his information accordingly.

     (v) It is scarcely credible that an entire Chapter should
     wander so wide of the truth. The town of Grottkau professes
     to have found in me "zealous energy in the improvement of

Since we forbid you the exercise of priestly functions, you are
hereby-charged to leave your present situation immediately on receipt
of this--to resort to the Seminary in this place, there to undergo
_exercitia spiritualia_, to submit yourself entirely to the orders of
the master of the Seminary, i. e., the Pro-Rector, Dr. Sawer, to whom
you are required to announce your arrival in this place, and await our
further commands.*

     * "What of the investigation? The right reverend Board must
     entertain an odd idea of the meaning of the word; it
     imposes a twofold punishment upon me, and I am left to
     picture to myself an investigation behind it!

     "(Signed) Latussek, v. Ploto, Elsleb, Freis. Breslau,
     Jan. 30, 1843."


On the very day on which my deposition was made known, (without any
prompting on my part,) I received a Declaration, to be forwarded to
the right reverend Council, from the undersigned individuals (all


     "It affords the undersigned individuals the greatest
     pleasure to be enabled, in all truth and duty, to assure
     their vicar, Mr. Ronge, that he has never given occasion of
     offence to the public, either by his dress, his behaviour,
     or otherwise; nor has there been anything unbecoming in his
     everyday life and conversation; or in the manner of his
     performing the functions of his priestly office.

     "On the contrary, Mr. Ronge has justly acquired the
     universal love and esteem which he so richly enjoys, by his
     modest and highly decorous conduct, by the exemplary
     morality of his life--which even the foulest calumny has
     never ventured to assail--and, further, by his zealous
     energy in the improvement of youth, as well as by his
     friendly and winning carriage towards all men."

[Illustration: List of signatures]

This Declaration, and my own Defence, I forwarded without delay to
the Reverend Council, with the observation, that I should also send a
testimonial from the magistracy of Grottkau, so soon as I should receive
it. After the Declaration had been despatched, several other citizens
desired to sign it, and complained that it had not been sent to them. It
will not be a difficult matter for my fellow-believers and townsmen to
make comparisons of the Decree of Suspension and the Declaration of the
town of Grottkau, and to draw their own conclusions as to which party
were in the right. Without further remark, therefore, I shall merely put
the following questions:--

I. Why was I suspended, and condemned to degrading imprisonment? and

II. How was I treated?

I was suspended, and condemned to degrading imprisonment--

I. Because, in fulfilment of my vocation as pastor and teacher, I had
reminded the episcopal candidates of their duty. Had I, perhaps, no
right to do so? Yes, it was my privilege and duty,--because I was,
and _still am_, a teacher of religion, and dare not as such betray the
truth, even to obtain thereby a rich living for my treachery. Or, are
the prebends of Breslau infallible? They are as little so as I or any
other man. If Dr. Ritter, and the other members of the Chapter, desire
to represent the Christian religion--that religion of which truth and
love are essential conditions--they must take courage to hear the truth
itself. If I spoke the truth, why was I smitten on the face? Was I,
perhaps, as chaplain, considered too insignificant an individual to
deserve such notice? I dare not suppose this of those whose duty it is
to teach and exemplify the doctrine--"We are all the children of one
father, we are all equal in the sight of God,"--and with whom, in
respect of ordination, I was on an equality. If, however, they have not
understood these words of the gospel, I shall shew that I at least have
comprehended them--for I shall not intermit my endeavours to arouse the
inferior clergy, oppressed and trampled on as they are, from their moral
wretchedness, ignominy, and bondage--because I know what they suffer and
how their hearts bleed, having bled and suffered with them.

I was besides deposed, because I had offended by my dress and the
cutting of ray hair, and because I had set dignity and decorum at
defiance in my performance of the priestly functions.

These accusations have been sufficiently exposed as untrue by the
Declaration of the town of Grottkau. Were they, however, in fact, not
altogether unfounded, (which they have been shown to be,) let them for
a moment be compared with the vicious practices of a no small portion
of the right reverend servants of the Pope, who, notwithstanding the
unanimous condemnation of public opinion, are left in quiet possession
of their offices!---- However painful it may be for me, and presuming
though it may seem to others, I cannot refrain from opposing my moral
character to the high station of those men, who are accustomed to refer
everything to mere sensuality, and to drag down all things into the
mire; and I demand, why was I not accused of drinking, gambling, or
of some particular crime!! Why am I not accused by the right reverend
Council of some negligence in the discharge of my duty? Did they ever
hear even one equivocal report in regard to my moral character!

II. How was I proceeded against!

I was suspended, and condemned to dishonouring imprisonment, without
a hearing--without an opportunity of defence, or proof adduced of my

It is unlawful that any German or Prussian citizen should be imprisoned
for a crime, by any other than the civil executive power. It is only the
Catholic priest that is liable to be coerced without appeal to his civil
rights, or the ceremony of a trial. The Apostle Paul laid claim to the
privileges of a Roman citizen; while the Roman Church herself denies to
her followers the exercise of the most ordinary civil rights. I did not,
therefore, submit to the sentence!


To this finding of the Vicarial Council, dictated by ecclesiastical
caprice, without regard to the law of the land, or even to the statutes
of the Church, it was impossible for me to submit--and I did not
submit to it; because I should have thereby degraded, _first_, my moral
dignity; _secondly_, the honour of the nation; and, _thirdly_, the
rights of the whole body of inferior clergy, by a cowardly submission to
the unjust and disgraceful punishment.

In the first place, my moral dignity was slighted. If I am bound _as
a man_ to resist all violent infringement of my freedom and individual
privileges, and rather to hide a free and virtuous heart beneath the
poorest clothing, than to strut about as a slave in rich attire,--I
am still more solemnly engaged to such a course, as _teacher of
the people_. As such also, in order to bear vigorous and successful
testimony to the truth, I must maintain an unblemished reputation among
my fellow-citizens. The right reverend Board, however, have at once
assailed my freedom and my honour.

As the citizen of a civilized state, and belonging to a civilized
nation, where the law and not caprice is paramount, I should have
compromised the national honour, had I, the subject of such privileges,
submitted in a cowardly and passive manner to the despotical dictation
of a foreign power.

_Lastly_, seeing that it is at once the duty and the privilege of
every teacher of the people (as also of each vicar,) to speak the
truth without respect of persons, I should have incurred the guilt of
sacrificing the privilege and duty of the whole body of inferior clergy,
by tame submission to the power of those who thus dispute the one, and
hinder us in the performance of the other.

As regards the latter, the inferior clergy have certainly renounced
their duty, when, in opposition to their superiors, they have submitted
to be robbed of this--and many other of their rights as men--and to see
themselves reduced to the condition of blind slaves; but the cowardice
of many in the past and present time, cannot relieve me or any other
man, from the duty of guarding intact the possession of our civil
rights. I am only the more solemnly bound most vigorously to contend
for all our rights,--as men and citizens, and to free myself from
slavery,--the more clearly I perceive, that by the slavery of the
popular teachers, the moral and physical suffering of the people is
ensured. Does a man cease to be a citizen when he becomes a priest?


On receipt of the Decree of Suspension, I took the _legitimate_ course
(if such a term applies,) and sent in a Defence to the right reverend
Board, along with the Declaration of the town of Grottkau, and
testimonials from the authorities. But I was so excited by the calumnies
which I found in the Decree of Suspension, that I was but ill fitted
to write a calm defence. I felt myself therefore laid under great
obligations, which I embrace this opportunity of again and publicly
acknowledging, to a Catholic lawyer, who offered, in the noblest and
most friendly manner, to take the necessary steps. I did not, indeed,
conceal from this my honoured defender, my determination at once to
demit my office, should they proceed to execute the threatened and
dishonouring sentence,--but left him otherwise at liberty,--in order
to shew to my fellow-citizens, that even the most modest proposals and
requests on my part, and the sufficiently distinct expression of feeling
on the part of the town of Grottkau, as well as of the rector and the
principal inhabitants, were alike unavailing to effect the rescinding of
the unjust sentence.

Right Reverend Canons,

I have been deeply moved by hearing the sentence of your right reverend
Council, held on the 30th of last month, which orders my suspension from
office; in the _first_ place, because I am convinced that worthless men
have shamefully traduced my character; and, farther, because I have been
publicly branded, and deprived of honour and office, on the strength
of a current report, and on the credit of a private informer, without
communication of the charge, or awaiting my vindication. The cause of
my answering, as I did, the question whether I were the author of the
article entitled, "Rome and the Chapter of Breslau," was this: that I
felt exceedingly annoyed at being asked,--and vexed, that I, who
live here in the most perfect retirement,--serving all men as I have
opportunity,--should be called on to defend myself from empty rumours,
and be subjected to the necessity of allowing persons, with whom I am
not on a friendly footing, to use the most impertinent language towards
me, under the guise of brotherly affection, as my colleague Schneeweiss
has done. If the right reverend Board believe that I am the author of
the article, and consider it offensive, I expect that, agreeably to the
laws of Prussia, the authorship shall be-brought home to me by proof;
until then, I do not consider myself called upon to render account
regarding it to any one. I might otherwise, with equal propriety, be
held to be the author of any anonymous production, and should have time
for nothing else than constantly assuring and bringing proof, that
I lead a retired life, and trouble myself neither about worldly nor
clerical affairs.

The denunciation by Hoffmann, I here declare to be a contemptible
falsehood. My hair is not an inch longer than that of Hoffmann. That it
curls naturally, while his is smooth, is no fault of mine. Besides, I
may observe, that on account of headache, I never allow my hair to
be cut quite short. My dress is of a dark colour, like that of other
respectable citizens; and the reason that my coat is some inches
shorter than that of Hoffmann, is, that it is of newer fashion. I
am young, healthy, vigorous, and, it is said; spirited; hypocritical
bigotry is foreign to my nature, and hateful to me. I assume no other
manner in the performance of my priestly functions than that of ordinary
life. It may be that Mr. Hoffmann makes lower bows, beats his breast
with deeper groans; it may be that this imposes upon uneducated people,
but, to my thinking, it bears no proof of piety, nor does it elevate the
feelings of educated men. I would even say that my unvarying behaviour
must tend to convince the congregation that I am sincere,--that that
which I preach is my own conviction,--that my words proceed not merely
from my lips, but from my inmost heart.

Dignity and decorum are relative ideas, and the answer to the
question--who possesses them? depends upon the view entertained by
the individual who is appealed to. It is well if Hoffmann and my
other secret accusers can comfort themselves with the consciousness of
possessing dignity and decorum. I hope the contrary may never be proved
of them.

If I am devoid of these two fancied qualities, they have been denied to
me by nature, and I am therefore not to blame; I do not repress decorum
and dignity; I do not purposely neglect them, and I expect a proof
to the contrary--for it is only when the intentions are evil that our
actions can be blamed. That I had given great cause of offence to the
congregation was unknown to me until now.

For the clergyman of this place, where a portion of the congregation is
highly educated, another portion tolerably, while a third is altogether
uneducated, it is peculiarly difficult to satisfy all parties. I
thought, therefore, that the most prudent course for me to pursue, would
be to vary my sermons, and address myself by turns to either class.
If my point has not been gained, and all parties have not been
equally satisfied, it has arisen from a fallacy in the plan, not from
premeditated carelessness on my part, which alone would be culpable.

Without egotism, I may say that the annexed testimonial* from the
Catholic gentry, the most respectable citizens, and regular church-goers
of this town, appears to me to prove that my labours have not been
fruitless, and that at least I have given no public cause of offence.

     * I have printed this testimonial with its signatures, for
     the sake of contrast, immediately after the Decree of
     Suspension, and give here the testimony of the authorities.

Although I consider that, by this testimonial, the secret and shameful
accusations against me have been sufficiently refuted, still, for my
more perfect exculpation, I shall also produce the testimony of the
magistrates and sheriffs of this place, which will not, certainly,
be found less favourable. I cannot possibly believe that your right
reverend Council, after I have proved a portion of the accusation to
be untrue, will carry out in full severity the sentence of the 30th

I beg, therefore, humbly to request, should the sentence be so far
modified as to leave me in possession of my office, that I may be
translated as soon as possible, seeing that even in the exercise of all
Christian forbearance, it must still be disagreeable for me to live so
near my false accuser, and to eat at his table.

In the lively hope that your right reverend Board will not publicly
condemn me on false accusation, marring my earthly prospects, and
robbing me of my credit as a citizen; but, on the contrary, that it will
remove my Suspension, I shall await here the arrival of a very different
decision, especially as the production of the necessary witnesses, and
the arrangement of my affairs, require my presence here for some days

As for the rest, I have announced my suspension to Mr. Hoffmann, and
shall not venture on the performance of any priestly functions until the
arrival of the longed-for reversal, which must most clearly show, that
my non-appearance in the Seminary does not proceed from contumacy.*

Besides my own Defence, and the voluntary Declaration by which the town
of Grottkau nobly and honourably annihilated the accusations heaped
upon me, I sent to the right reverend Council (about six days later) the
testimonials from the authorities of Grottkau, which I applied for to
assist in my vindication. They run thus:--


     "Of the Rev. Vicar Ronge, it is hereby certified, at his own
     special request, that during his stay here he has always
     conducted himself in a moral manner, that he has not worn
     unsuitably long hair, nor dressed ur an improper, or
     remarkable manner.--von Ohlen, Member of Administration,

     "Grottkau, February 6th, 1843."

     "Testimonial.--That the Rev. Vicar Ronge, during the period
     of his appointment in this place, has at all times
     conducted himself with decorum and propriety, and in all
     respects irreproachably; and that his dress has never been
     unsuitable, nor indeed at all remarkable, is hereby truly
     certified, at the request of Mr. Ronge.--Adam, Muller, Sahm,
     Reisewitz, Magistrates.

     "Grottkau, February 9th, 1843."

     "At the request of the Rev. Mr. Ronge, the undersigned
     delegates of the city hereby truly attest,--That during the
     period of his stay here as vicar, he has always led a
     morally correct life, and, in so far as we know, has always
     conducted himself towards the inhabitants in an affectionate
     and friendly manner. In regard to his dress, it was not at
     all indecorous nor unsuitable.

     "The delegates of the city have granted this certificate
     from individual conviction, and with a good conscience.--
     Ebel, President..   von Donat, Stephan, Fleischer,
     Ratschbr, Kahlert, Stadler, Zibold, Anders, Olbrich,
     Friedrich, Fleischer, Schmidt, Thaum, Tannkrt, Registrar.

     "Grottkau, February 9, 1843."

     "In justification of my signature, in favour of the Rev. Mr.
     Ronge, of this place,--I certify, as an upright and
     conscientious man, that since the 24th March 1841, on which
     day Mr. Ronge presented to me the notice of his appointment
     as vicar, I have perceived nothing in him that could
     compromise him as a Catholic clergyman. Neither have I heard
     that he has performed his spiritual functions without
     reverence or dignity, or that there has been anything
     offensive in his dress, or the cutting of his hair. Every
     individual has his failings and peculiarities, of which even
     accusers are not free, and it is generally easy enough to
     injure a man, and bring him under suspicion* although no
     charge can be preferred against him in a moral point of

     "Grottkau, February 5,1843.

     "Pech, Rector."


Soon after receipt of the Decree of Suspension, I discontinued my
official duties, but remained a few days longer in Grottkau, to take the
necessary steps for clearing my character from the calumnies of
Kaspar Hoffmann, and Ebel the apothecary and president of the body of
delegates,* who had brought their silly accusations against me under
cover of the Church. By the other inhabitants of the town I was most
kindly treated, and the partially evasive testimonies which were
afterwards given in by a _soi-disant_ Church community of Grottkau, are
only to be accounted for by the employment of Chapter influence. Various
reports were, of course, in circulation, for but few were aware of the
actual cause of my suspension, or of the manner in which I had been
treated; and I was obliged to keep silence--to allow every report to
circulate unchecked--deeply though I felt the altered looks of those I
had accounted friends. But it would have been unreasonable in me to have
expected of them a more thorough appreciation of the circumstances of my
case, for no one knew how the slave-yoke of Rome had galled me, nor
how my indignation was aroused to see my native land distracted
and enthralled by a set of knavish Roman priests and their German
assistants. I felt it as a joy and pride to suffer undeserved reproaches
for my fellow-citizens, even for those who persecuted me, as they
fancied, to the credit and in the name of the Church. I felt an assured
confidence that the day of light would come, the day of emancipation
from the tyranny of Rome, when my conduct should be made public, and my
exculpation be complete; and I gave expression to these feelings in a
few farewell words to the inhabitants of Grottkau, which I caused to be
inserted in the weekly newspaper.

     * Mr. Witke, the former superior of the Seminary, named Ebel
     (the brother-in-law of a canon, and a converted proselyte,)
     as my calumniator, and I can prove him to have been so. Such
     persons, who can consciously assume religion as a cloak for
     their false-heartedness, should be denounced by name to all
     the world. Our Saviour tells us that hypocrisy is the most
     heinous crime, and that murderers and adulterers may be
     saved, but not hypocrites!

From Grottkau I travelled to Valtorf, near Neisse, where my friend the
Count von Reichenbach offered me the shelter of his roof. Although I
had relinquished certain competence, which the office of a Catholic
clergyman secures, and knew not how long I might be a wanderer, yet the
feeling that at length I had escaped from the cursed and ignominious
yoke of Rome, under which I had groaned for three years, was
indescribably delightful, and confiding in my righteous cause, and in
my youthful strength, it seemed as if I had but just emerged from some
dark, dismal prison, into the lovely light of heaven. New energy glowed
in my veins; a new and beauteous world bloomed before me, in which I was
to labour and to live as the free teacher, and the pastor of my own, the
German people!


My joy was damped, however, and turned to sadness, when I thought upon
the annoyances which my family, especially my four sisters, (our parents
were dead) endured, owing to the numerous and often ill-natured reports
that were spread regarding me. Homely country people, reared in the
Catholic religion, young and inexperienced, they did not think the
motives were sufficient, which led me to throw up my office. Although
they placed unbounded confidence in me, it was doubtless somewhat
shaken, when they found themselves disappointed in the prospect they
had very properly indulged of future aid from me. They endeavoured, time
after time, to prevail on me to resume my office, in consideration
of the calumnies they had to bear. This has caused me hours of bitter


About three weeks after the despatch of my Defence, and the testimonials
from the magistrates, I received a negative reply from the right
reverend Board.* In this reply no farther weight is given to the
testimony of the magistrates of Grottkau, and the declaration of the
inhabitants, than that they silenced the false accusations of Kaspar
Hoffmann; and the representatives of Christian love and justice in
the diocese of Breslau do not condescend to offer satisfaction for the
annoyances to which I and mine had thereby been subjected. Although they
might not consider themselves called upon to pay me a just debt, yet
surely the united voice of an entire town was worthy of some little
deference. But here we touch upon the second curse by which the
hierarchy overlays the people. Even as the thraldom of the inferior
clergy, in regard to their superiors, annihilates their manliness of
character and self-respect, so the thraldom of the congregation in their
relation to the clergy, keeps the great mass of the Catholic people
in darkness and insensibility. That neither the congregations nor the
inferior clergy have always been in this state of thraldom, is well
known. It has been induced by their torpidity and ignorance. But had
they never before enjoyed a state of greater freedom, the present times
imperiously demand it.

     * "In reply to your remonstrances of the 5th and 10th of the
     month, you are hereby informed, that as you do not
     distinctly deny the authorship of the the article 'Rome and
     the Chapter of Breslau,' our judgment of the 30th of January
     remains unaltered.--Latussek, v. Ploto, Elsler, Freis,

     "Breslau, February 18th, 1843."

With my convictions, to have remained one moment longer in my office,
after receiving the answer of the right reverend Board, would have
dishonoured me. How could I have met my fellow-citizens, and spoken
to them of the unfettered moral dignity of man, while I myself had
sacrificed religious conviction in a pitiful and cowardly manner, for a
bit of bread, secured to me by my condition as a Romish priest? This
was my fixed determination:--rather the grave than dishonouring
punishment--rather starvation than self-degradation, and injury of the
rights of my fellow-citizens and colleagues! In order, however, that
I might leave no method untried of obtaining justice, I wrote to the
Council, stating that 1 should appeal to the still unappointed bishop.


The confirmation of Bishop Knauer's appointment did at last take place;
he was to enter Breslau in April 1843. I had gone to that town,
partly to attend to my affairs, and partly to seek the means of future
subsistence. After the the arrival of Bishop Knauer, I went to a Canon,
whose name is appended to my Decree of Deposition, to ascertain at what
time I might speak with the Bishop. This right reverend gentleman told
me quite naively that I should have answered--"No, I am not the author
of the article--bring it home to me!" with this addition, if I "desired
to remain at my _clerical trade_." He further informed me, that although
_he had not read the article in question_, it was said to contain
terrible things.

What say the younger clergy to the expression, _clerical trade!_ and
what shall one think of the justice and indepedence of a spiritual
tribunal, whose members are not even aware of the nature of the crime
for which they condemn their fellow-men! Justice! how, indeed, could I
expect it at the hands of those who were at once my judges and accusers!

I found the Bishop himself, when I preferred my complaint to him,
essentially different from the greater number of the Catholic clergy.
He received me in that winning manner, with which youth is easily
fascinated by age. There was no trace in him of that _quasi_ lowly
spiritual pride, and vulgar affectation of pious condescension, so
common in prelates. When I had made my request to him in few words, he
replied, that the affair was not unknown to him, and that I only needed
to apply to Dr. Ritter for a removal of the Suspension, to have the
matter satisfactorily arranged. On my objecting, that I was of excitable
temper, and that, under existing circumstances, I feared myself
incapable of dealing calmly with that individual--he offered to hold a
previous conference with Dr. Ritter. He then asked if I were the author
of the article. I answered in the affirmative. "But why," continued he,
"did you _invite_ all this persecution?"--"Because," I answered, "it was
my duty to give utterance to the unanimous feeling of the citizens and
the clergy, seeing that no other priest considered himself called
upon to do so." He said no more on this subject, but, speaking of the
situation as tutor which I had accepted, he said that he needed my
assistance in the diocese, and appointed that I should return to him
in the afternoon. When I returned to the Bishop, he was embarrassed
and reserved, in consequence of the conference with Dr. Ritter, who had
inveighed against me in coarse language,* and asserted that I had been
invited to appear before him and had not come (a falsehood! for surely
condemnation is not invitation!). I proved, indeed, that Dr. Ritter had
asserted an untruth; but Bishop Knauer, already eighty years of age,
found it very inconvenient to quarrel with his canons, and excused
himself by saying, that he had not so fully entered on the duties of
his office as to qualify him as a competent judge. (This was on the day
before his Inauguration.) Replying only by my looks, I took my leave,
and set out for my new destination, Laurahütte, to engage in the
teaching of the children of the functionaries of the place.

     * Among other things, Dr. Ritter asserted, as I was informed
     by Bishop Knauer, that I had been idling about for some time
     in Breslau without making my appearance at the Cathedral. A
     speaking instance of the noble nature of the right reverend
     gentleman! I had been staying all the time in the house of
     Mr. Wittig, a highly respected citizen, who had hospitably
     received me, and I had scarcely quitted it for an hour.


Lies near Beuthen in Upper Silesia, about half a mile from the Russian
frontier. It is the most extensive foundry in Upper Silesia, and was
only erected in 1839. It may easily be imagined that my spirits were
not a little affected by the difficult circumstances in which I had been
placed; for, besides seeing all my past labours brought to a fruitless
termination, I had been compelled to submit in silence to all the
attacks which had been made upon my character. Several of my Catholic
friends had slighted me, or treated me unkindly; and the greater number
of my Catholic fellow-citizens did not appear sufficiently to feel the
oppressive yoke of Romish superstition.--The time had not yet come! My
confidence had been severely tried by all these causes. I only clung
the more closely, however, to my pupils at Laurahütte, and I often
felt inclined to beg of them that they would not treat me so unkindly as
other friends had done. I trembled if they left me for even half a day.
I tried to find a resting place within their hearts, by building on
their love. And truly, the brightest hours of my life have been passed
in the school-room, cheered by their innocent and youthful hearts.
My mind was gradually strengthened and refreshed, to which result the
tender kindness of my friends at Laurahütte mightily conduced.

I employed my hours of leisure in work connected with my avocation, and
several performances were already completed, when the day of my release
arrived, which I had been long expecting, and with increased impatience
and assurance the nearer it approached. Our feelings oftentimes outrun
all reason, and my confidence of ultimate release had been rising ever
since I left the Seminary. The day at length arrived!--the 1st day of
October 1844. From the moment when I saw my article in print (I trembled
lest it should be interdicted) I felt as if the month of May were come,
and spring were budding in my Fatherland.


The hope of ultimate emancipation from the yoke of Rome, to which I now
look forward with confident assurance, was excited by the slaves and
blinded servants of the Roman Hierarchy and of the Jesuits, on seeing
the extremes to which they carried their mockery of religion and trial
of the patience of the German people.

A Tunic, of which they cannot even prove that it really was the tunic of
Jesus Christ, is exhibited by these Baal-priests of avarice and greed,
for public adoration; and the credulous multitude are not only allowed
to offer homage to this garment, but are taught to hail it in these
words:--"Holy garment, pray for us!" "Holy garment, I bow down before
thee," &c. For such mockery of religion, such frenzy, assumed as piety,
at the bidding of the Church, language is inadequate to the expression
of our indignation; and my letter to Bishop Arnoldi, condemned as all
too strong, is childlike in comparison of the sacrilegious offence
committed by the Church upon religion and the human understanding.

It was, therefore, with unfeigned surprise that, in the beginning of
November, after leaving Laurahütte (where a public school had been
erected, and furnished, in the month of August, with two teachers) I
received two written communications from the Chapter at Breslau, calling
on me to retract what I had written, as offensive to that reverend body.
I was less surprised when, after my refusal, I received the Decree of

I wondered less that Dr. Ritter should demand a recantation of my
article--"Rome and the Chapter of Breslau," it being far less dangerous
to him to place a lie upon the altar, in regard to circumstances which
_immediately after_ Silesia alone, as the carrying out of his designs
were likely, therefore, to attract but limited observation. But that an
entire Chapter should venture, in the face of Europe, and even of the
world, to countenance such undisguised abuse as that of the _adorable
relic_ at Treves--such an unheard-of money-trafficking in the most
sacred matters--such an insane mockery of reason and the Gospel, was not
only ecclesiastically impolitic, but revolting to all Christendom.*


     "Breslau, Oct. 29th 1844.

     "On the 30th of January of last year, the sentence of the
     Canonical Council was forwarded to you, whereby, in
     consequence of your failing satisfactorily to disprove the
     authorship of the Article 'Rome and the Chapter of Breslau,'
     and conducting yourself otherwise in a manner unbecoming a
     Catholic clergyman, you were deposed from the Curacy of
     Grottkau, and, having been interdicted from the performance
     of spiritual functions, were charged to submit yourself _ad
     exercitia spiritualia_ in the Seminary here, under the
     orders of the Superior, and await the farther pleasure of
     the Council. You have hitherto paid no attention to this
     judgment, especially in regard to its later requirements,
     but have obstinately persisted in disobedience to your

     "There has lately appeared in No. 164 of the Vaterlands-
     blatter, another Article, dated Laurahütte, Oct. 1st, and
     bearing your signature, in regard to the exhibition of the
     Holy Tunic of Jesus Christ at Treves--an Article most
     offensive to all orthodox Catholics, and calculated
     seriously to injure the character of one of the most worthy
     bishops of the Catholic Church, and which, besides, contains
     an invitation to rebellion against all existing and
     universally recognized principles in the government of the
     said Church.

     "This calls for the strictest investigation, and excites
     well-deserved suspicion,--I therefore require of you, seeing
     that you subscribe yourself 'A Catholic Priest,' and call
     yourself a member of the Catholic Church in this diocese, to
     declare _within fourteen days_,

     "1st, Whether you acknowledge yourself the author of the
     above named Article;

     "2d, Whether, in case you do, you are inclined to atone for
     your offence, and the grief occasioned to the most reverend
     Bishop Arnoldi of Treves, by a solemn retractation in the
     same paper, and in other much-read Journals, to be named by

     "3d, Should you have had no part in the drawing out or
     despatching of said Article, and should your signature and
     address have been used without authority,--are you willing
     and able to prove it, and to free yourself from the
     suspicion which rests upon you, and in consequence of which
     you are hereby enjoined to present yourself without delay!

     "If the required explanation be not furnished within the
     time specified, and should you not show yourself ready to
     satisfy the questions put, I am reluctantly compelled, in
     addition to the Decree of Suspension, which has already been
     put in force, hereby to suspend over you the ecclesiastical
     punishment of degradation and excommunication."

     "--Latussrk, Suffragan Bishop and Vicar-General of the

"To the late Curate Ronge, at Laurahütte."

"To the Right Reverend the Suffragan Bishop and-Vicar-General of the

"On the 18th and 19th of this month I received two letters of identical
import; one addressed to me as a 'Catholic Priest,' the other as 'the
late Curate,' in which I am required, before the lapse of fourteen days,
to answer questions upon various points. To this requisition I reply in
the following terms:--

"As to the Article 'Rome and the Chapter of Breslau,' your Lordship
observes, that I did not satisfactorily vindicate my conduct in regard
to it. My reply to the inquisitorial queries of Dr. Ritter, must have
been misunderstood, if it was considered in the light of a vindication.
I have never endeavoured to vindicate myself in regard to that Article,
nor have I ever denied its authorship;--but, on the other hand, I have
never recognized the authority of Dr. Ritter, and the members of the
right reverend Board, as at once my judges and my accusers in the
matter. The inquisitorial questions which were then put to me, and
the decision of the right reverend Board, by which, without citation,
hearing, or defence, (accorded to the lowest criminal,) I was deposed,
and condemned to dishonouring punishment in the Seminary, are, besides,
an insult to the rights of the whole body of the inferior clergy. Shall
not the lower clergy (like their fellow-citizens,) have the right to
express an opinion opposed to that of their superiors, without perilling
their existence? Are the truths of our religion so powerless, as to
render necessary compulsion and coercion? Did Jesus found our Church
upon such principles! Or, are the higher clergy the sole and infallible
pillars of the truth?

"The assertion, that I endeavoured to save my living by a falsehood,--by
which it was attempted to bring upon me the contempt of my
fellow-believers and fellow-citizens, I have practically
disproved--having relinquished my office in the face of beggary and
want--although I might easily have escaped Suspension by submission.
Honour, truth, and justice, are of higher value in my eyes than the
crumb of bread that nourishes my body.

"I acknowledged to Bishop Knauer, my lawful superior, that I am the
author of the Article alluded to; upon which his Grace asked me,--< But
why did you thus court persecution?'--< Because,' I said,' I considered
it a duty to give public expression to the universal discontent
prevailing in the diocese, on account of the delay of Rome.' Besides,
1 shall not hesitate to vindicate my conduct in the eyes of my
fellow-believers and my fellow-citizens.

"It is farther asserted by your Lordship, that I conducted myself in
Grottkau in an unbecoming manner. The offences included in this
charge have been sufficiently refuted, as calumnious and false, by the
magistrates and citizens of Grottkau; and I shall claim the protection
of the State and of the public against such accusations. Or have
our spiritual rulers, perhaps, the arbitrary privilege to blast my
reputation at discretion?

"As to the Article in regard to the exhibition of the so-called Holy
Tunic at Treves, my name was plainly and distinctly affixed to it, and
there has been no misuse in the matter. I only spoke the truth, and
shall continue to do so without fear of men. I shall not hesitate to
denounce abuses? even when they seek to hide themselves behind the
altars of a thousand years. I have but done my duty in lending words to
the almost universal indignation of my countrymen at the adoration of
a piece of dress. It is truly marvellous that a high ecclesiastical
authority should endeavour to defend so shameless an abuse. Is the abuse
less blameable, because consecrated by a Bishop? What would have been
said, had inferior members of the priesthood, or other Christians,
sought to win fifty thousand dollars by the exhibition of that Holy
Tunic 1 Did Christ, or the Apostles, do such things? Christ fed those
who came to him--but did not rob them of their money; and He indignantly
exclaimed in the Temple--'My father's house is a house of prayer--ye
have made it a den of thieves.'

"I have spoken the truth, and shall never retract it, as is required of
me. If, on this account, your Lordship should consider it your duty to
degrade and excommunicate me--let it be so. I, for my part, am firmly
convinced that the exalted Head of our religion numbers me among his
disciples, notwithstanding; and I feel assured that my fellow-believers
and my fellow-citizens will not exclude me from communion with them. For
millions of men have heard my simple word, and they have gladly received
it because convinced that it proceeded from an honest heart. Millions
have loved me on account of it, and their love has not allowed itself to
be deceived by the disgusting calumnies of embittered opponents. Their
love will still support me. I can give no other reply.--I am, my Lord

"Johannes Ronge, Catholic Priest.

"Breslau, November 30, 1844."

"Breslau, 4th Dec. 1844.

"In consequence of your reply, dated November 30, and received on the
first day of this month, wherein you admit that you subscribed the
Article 'On the Holy Tunic at Treves,' acknowledge it as your own
composition, and refuse to recall it,--I find myself reduced to
the highly painful necessity, in pursuance of my Decree of the 29th
October, and on account of the gross offence against the Church,
contained in the said Article, to issue the sentence of your degradation
and excommunication, in accordance with, and by authority of, the
canonical statutes and decrees.

"I therefore charge you to return to me, without delay, your letters of
holy ordination. As you have not complied with my injunction to appear
before me in person,* and have thereby deprived me of the wished-for
opportunity of convincing you, by fatherly admonition and friendly
conference, of your false and heterodox views generally, and, in
particular, regarding the worship of relics--as the adoration of the
Holy Tunic,--I can only add to the sentence, which I most reluctantly
pronounce, my fervent prayer, that by God's grace you may be led to a
right understanding of the Catholic faith, and to a discrimination of
that worship of relics, which is permitted and approved by the Church,
from the abuse of it, of which alone you seem to think.--

"D. Latussek, Suffragan Bishop, and Vicar-General of the Diocese.

"To the late Curate, Rev. Johannes Ronge."

     * My Lord Bishop only called me before him in case I should
     be inclined to retract, or, if I were not the author of the
     letter alluded to; otherwise, as is shewn by the document of
     the 29th of October, I was only called upon for an
     explanation. Why this perversion of the truth?'


The history of my life is now before my countrymen, and they may judge
between me and my opponents and traducers. I have given documentary
proof, that, on account of the Article entitled "Rome and the Chapter of
Breslau," I have been deposed, and sentenced to disgraceful punishment,
by the Board of Canons, without citation, hearing, or defence, which are
accorded to the most ordinary criminal. I have further proved, that, on
account of the well-known letter to the Bishop of Treves, I have been
excommunicated by the same right reverend Board--that is to say, I have
been placed without the pale of the Church, as an irreclaimable sinner.

As, however, I have conducted myself, in speech and action, in
accordance with my calling and my duty as a teacher, as also in
agreement with the Gospel; and have, in defiance of law and justice, by
unrighteous and despotic fiats of the Romish Church, been deposed and
excommunicated--I appeal to the justice of my countrymen against the
Hierarchy and its slaves, and demand that the members of the Canonical
Board at Breslau be forced to rescind their sentence. I do not prefer
this accusation in my own behalf alone, but stand forth in vindication
of the rights of the whole body of inferior clergy, which are trampled
upon by their superiors--in vindication of the rights of congregations,
which are trampled upon by the entire priesthood! Lastly, I stand forth
for Christendom, and, in the name of all Christendom, arraign the Romish
Hierarchy, which falsely calls itself the "Universal Church," _because
it does not fulfil, but directly opposes the Gospel call--the call to
promote the perfect reconciliation of the family of man._

The Romish Hierarchy has reduced the Gospel teaching to a system of
usury, compulsion, and oppression, profanely--prostituted religion to a
revolting Jesuitism,--and, instead of promoting the improvement and
the reconciliation of mankind, maintains in all their bitterness the
antipathies of nations, and, kindling civil war, (look to Switzerland
and other countries!) debases human nature by hypocrisy and vice.

It is the Roman Church which has to rend so wide asunder the yawning
gulf which separates the higher from the lower classes, the ignorant
from the educated, the poorer from the richer portions of all European
nations; and it is she who is daily making that gulf still wider, by
dint of Jesuitism and priestcraft. In order to escape from utter ruin,
the overwhelming evil must be vigorously, resolutely met,--in compact
phalanx. The nations--and above all the German nation--ought to call a
free ecclesiastical convention, composed of laymen freely chosen, and of
honest priests, to sweep away for ever all Jesuitism and priestcraft--to
establish freedom of conscience on the ruins of hypocrisy--to purify
religion, and to show the Church her actual calling, imposed upon her by
the spirit of the times, and the exigencies of our people--namely,
the reconcilement of the higher and the lower classes of humanity--the
reconcilement of the nations and the peoples of the earth, by improving
and ennobling them--by universal love and freedom. By our regard to our
neighbour, we shew forth our love to God; for we are told by John, that
"If a man say I love God, and hateth his brother, he is a liar."

Arise, then, men of Germany and of France; men of Great Britain, Italy,
and Spain, arise! Men of Europe and America! let us unite with our
governments in the noble enterprise! To the work, like men--the work of
peace and freedom! The hour is come! let us break the yoke of faith and
conscience--drag down lying priesthood and the Hierarchy--annihilate
disdainful Jesuitism, insulting God and man--and usher in the glorious
reign of truth, and light, and righteousness--of virtue, of freedom, and
of love! Let us usher in the true reign of Christ upon the earth!

[This closes Ronge's Self-defence, which, in all probability, would
never have seen the light, had it not been for the subsequent excitement
caused by the affair of the Holy Coat. For however triumphant has been
his exposure of the authorities with whom he has had to do, still such
cases of arbitrary tyranny are far too common to excite more than a
mere passing, or, at best, local interest. It required such a fact as
that of Treves first to awaken a general interest, and thereby to secure
a proportionate degree of attention to the details of such a personal
narrative as we have now given. People desired to know about the history
of the man who had brought home to their hearts and experience the
abuses of the system which had hitherto ruled them as with a rod of
iron. But especially as charges the most base and unfounded had been
directed against Ronge, with regard to the real cause of his suspension,
it became his duty to lay the whole facts before the public, and
manfully to appeal to their sentence against that of the Church
authorities of Breslau. We have inserted this Justification before
noticing the movements which have taken place in consequence of the
first letter, which, instead of appearing as a documentary part of the
Justification, was inserted at a previous part of the narrative,
and which gave its real personal and historical interest to his


We must now return to the first letter, and notice the excitement
created by it over the whole of Germany, Protestant and Catholic. The
following appeared in the _Mannheim_ Journal:--"The greatest attention
has been lately directed to the admirable and pithy statement of
a Catholic priest concerning the Holy Coat. It is peculiarly the
citizen-class who have been electrified thereby. Not to have read it,
(and it is impossible to escape the question)--is declared to be as bad
as never having read anything. It is published in all the papers; and
truly the spreading of truth and light in religious matters--and both
it contains in rich measure--is not merely a matter of honour but of the

_Weimar_.--"There prevails here a complete frenzy to read the production
of Ronge. A number of the citizens have caused it to be circulated
_gratis_ among the poorer inhabitants. For a very long period no
production has created more sensation in the world,--and it is beyond
doubt that Ronge's name will ever be distinguished in the history of the
world and of the Church."

_Westphalia_.--"The excitement which Ronge's letter has made among
friend and foe becomes daily more conspicuous from the public press.
In Magdeburg the whole middle class is against the ultra-montanist
movement, and even the majority of the clergy,--as this movement throws
all power into the hands of the bishops."

_West Prussia_.--"While the Jesuits are interdicting, by Church censures
and prohibitions, the 'wandering Jew' of Eugene Sue, Ronge's letter is
being circulated by the thousand."

_Kazbach_.--"John Ronge--a true German man--a true Christian minister,
has openly shewn that the spirit of Christ is not yet dead in the
Catholic Church of Silesia. His letter is quite invaluable. Each
community has treasured it as a true legacy to posterity, to preserve
Christianity from being perverted by the Hierarchy, and to shew that a
Silesian priest had courage thus openly to proclaim the truth. And has
not the whole of Germany welcomed the earnest words of the worthy man
with hearty joy! In a short space, they have travelled through every
German province, from the Oder to the Rhine. Thousands of Germans feel
inspired by his name, and declare him one of the most valiant combatants
against the dark powers of hierarchical tyranny."

_Ulm_.--"The Germans of the south are determined not to be behind their
brethren in other parts of Germany."

Such are ordinary specimens of the extracts with which the German
journals are filled, up to the present date. It is in truth impossible
to take up any journal, Catholic or Protestant, which does not contain
some announcement on the subject. Ronge's name is in every one's
lips--his portrait is to be found in every print-shop, along with
engravings, in all styles of art, of the Holy Coat. Addresses have
been poured upon him from all quarters, expressive of gratitude, and
sympathy, and admiration. Take the following specimen from the city of

_Dantzic_:--"Highly Honoured Sir,--when more than 300 years ago the monk
Luther declared war upon the Hierarchy, and introduced a new epoch into
the history of the world, it could not but be that the man who declared
'I cannot do otherwise,' should be opposed, declared heretic, and
persecuted. So shall it also be with you for your exposure of the
Spectacle of the Holy Coat; in that letter which, through the press, has
now been made the property of all. The enemies of the light shall not
cease to calumniate and persecute you. As, moreover, the hearts of all
lovers of the truth attached themselves to the monk Luther, and, as
to-day, millions thank him for the light which surrounds them, so does
the present generation with joy congratulate you, and future generations
will preserve your memory in their thankful hearts, as of a man who,
without human fear, declared the holy truth of God. Permit us, though
we live far from you, to express to you, in name of all friends of the
light, their most hearty thanks for the service which you have done by
your open and noble opposition to the hierarchical spectacle of Treves.
May the Almighty take you into his protection, and may his hand rest on
you and bless you.

"Dantzic, 16th November, 1844."

This Address, and many of a similar nature, have been signed by
Protestants and Catholics alike. Individual addresses also have been
sent, signed exclusively by Catholics, and others signed exclusively by
Protestants, as those from Leipsic and Berlin. Accounts from all parts
of Germany are of a similar nature; even Bohemia, where the voice
of Huss has long been silent, has come under the influence of the
excitement,--Ronge's letter having crossed the frontier, and been
circulated, no one could tell well how, by the thousand. It has now been
translated into several of the languages of Europe, and it cannot admit
of doubt, that on all hands the eyes of many are being opened by it, to
see the awful bondage in which they and their fathers have so long been

While all this was going on, it was not to be expected that the Catholic
party should remain silent. Accordingly, they have been striving
_per fas et nefas_, to arrest the movement, by calumniations of the
author--by defences of their conduct--by appeals to the evils of the
Reformation, and occasional significant references to the "powers that
be" in the Vatican. It ought to be stated, that several of the Catholic
clergy, before the appearance of Ronge's letter, had denounced the
intended pilgrimage, manfully declaring, in opposition to all the
sayings and doings of Arnoldi, and even the Bull of Leo X., that this
was no matter of Catholic doctrine, and that it remained open for each
individual Catholic to treat the evidence for or against the genuineness
of the relic, as his private judgment and free inquiry might lead him.
From such quarters, the movement of Ronge could not well be opposed; and
it is striking, that wherever a priest has so expressed his opinion, but
few, indeed, of his people went to Treves. Whether many of this class
may join the movement remains to be seen, but it certainly seems highly

The ultra-Catholic party have expressed their opinions in two remarkable
documents,--the one, An Address from the Clergy of Treves, and the
other, from the Clergy of Breslau, with whom Ronge was connected, to
Bishop Arnoldi. A few sentences will show the spirit of each. In the
former it is stated, "that such scandalous Articles (as the publication
of Ronge) must produce among all Catholics in Germany the greatest
indignation, and shake to its foundation the peaceful relation of the
two confessions; and this all the more, as before the ceremony alluded
to, nothing had taken place to calumniate or asperse Protestant
Christians. When, however, such a publication, by its tone and contents,
alike unworthy of refutation, and calculated only to bring Catholics
into contempt, is allowed to appear, by permission of the German Union
or Prussia individually--this is a matter of deep sorrow to Catholics."
After noticing the Constitution of Germany, in reference to religious
matters, it proceeds,--"In so far as such calumnies are unattended
to, is the rightfully guaranteed position of the German Catholics
overthrown, and they are all the more called on to demand a guarantee,
as many late events have shown but too clearly, that a section of the
Protestants is disposed to maintain a hostile and intolerant position
towards the Catholic Church, We, the Chapter of the Cathedral,
accordingly pray that communications may be sent to his Majesty the
King, and the German confederate States, to support the existing laws in
opposition to what has taken place, to maintain the guaranteed rights of
the Catholic Church, and to request the interference of the law against
such abuses of the German press."

(Signed) "The Clergy of the City of Treves."

Nothing could be more artful or cowardly than this document, as if
the great settlement at the Reformation had been infringed by the open
expression of opinion on what has excited the disgust and ridicule of
all intelligent Catholics. It is not difficult to trace in the above
letter the very spirit which, in a former age, would have found no
obstruction in executing, after its own fashion, that law, to which now
they are obliged to make a respectful and almost degrading appeal. Most
fortunate is it that Ronge is the subject of a Protestant Government,
which has it now in its power so materially to advance the cause of the

Let us now quote a portion of the address of the clergy of the Cathedral
of Breslau. "Most worthy Lord Bishop! 'Troubles must come.' This saying
of our Lord and Master has been confirmed so often in all ages, and
especially in our times, that we need scarcely question that an Article
in the _Sächsische Vaterlands-blätter_, from a Catholic priest, on
the Holy Coat of Treves, should appear unexpected, amid the manifold
experiences of your Grace. Nor do we believe that this scandal in
Germany will at all affect the veneration in which your Grace is held,
or cast the slightest shadow on your high and holy office. Taught and
accustomed to suffer shame for the cause of the Lord, and comforted by
the promise, 'Blessed are you, when men shall revile you, and persecute
you, and shall say all manner of evil against you falsely for my sake,'
we would have passed by this calumny in silence, as a drop of the
teeming ocean of blasphemies with which the Lord honours his Church, to
see them dashed on its Eternal Bock,--if it had not come from the midst
of us--from one who calls himself a Catholic priest. * * * The name
of the blasphemer is _Ronge_, who was consecrated to the priesthood in
Breslau. The spirit by which he has lately been actuated was not long in
manifesting itself in him. An Article of similar stamp, calumniating his
ecclesiastical superiors, and the supremacy of the Church, subjected him
to an examination. Not being in a position to defend himself, and too
haughty and hardened to seek forgiveness, by repentance and penance, he
was obliged to give up his office, after the suspension of the Church
had been pronounced against him. Since this period, Ronge has had
nothing to do with the care of souls. What could be more welcome for
the enemies of the Church, who looked with indignation on the crowds
of pious pilgrims proceeding to the Cathedral of Treves, than that a
pretended member of the Church--aye, a priest--should take the Holy
Coat into his unclean hands, and tear it with logical power into pieces,
while even his executioners left it from pious awe undivided. The holy
ceremony is now at an end--the sacred shrine is closed--the holy
relic, by the contemplation of which hundreds of thousands have been
encouraged, and strengthened, and elevated, lies treasured up for future
ages. The calumnies will be silenced--the blessings will remain, and
when the holy treasure is again exposed to the worship of the believing
multitudes, another race shall live and think in the pious prayers of
those pilgrims who have completed their pilgrimage, and have attained
from faith to sight. May this new race see better days--days of outward
and inward peace--days of peace, which the world cannot give! May the
pious bands who may then go on pilgrimage to Treves, attain the end
of their undertaking, not amid the sneers of the scoffer, but amid the
friendly congratulations of all, even of those who are connected with
it! May the German people be then truly a people of brothers--one in
that one thing which is needful--one in will, and deed, and faith, and
struggles; and may the German fatherland, like the holy garment itself,
be undivided! God grant you grace and strength for this great end!

"(Signed) "The Cathedral Clergy of Breslau.

"31st October 1844."

This document, like the preceding, is its own commentary. We leave
our readers to weigh it along with the exposure made in Ronge's
"Justification." It is not difficult now to see what influences have
been at work in procuring its suppression, and it is deeply to be
lamented, that a government so liberal as the Saxon, should have
interfered in keeping back a statement so important, in the defence of
truth and justice.

We do not deem it necessary to make long quotations from the ordinary
Catholic journals on this part of the subject. They breathe the same
spirit. Many of them are filled with appeals, of which a single sentence
may suffice as a specimen:--"Laity and priesthood! have you already
forgotten whither such proceedings lead? Know you not the causes and
consequences of the Reformation? Will you lead the way to a second
breach in the Church, as if the first had not been deplorable enough,
both for the Church and country?" &c. All of such extracts are proofs
strong enough, how sensible all parties of Catholics are of the danger
to be apprehended from Ronge's movement.


It is now our duty to turn shortly to the positive results of this
movement, _in the formation of a New Church, independent of all Papal
connexion, and as such, calling itself not the Roman but German Catholic
Church_. We have seen how Ronge had been excommunicated, and in what
terms his former ecclesiastical superiors now spoke of him. Having been
discarded by the Church, and no longer admitted to its ordinances,
he set himself, without reserve, to the formation of a new Christian
community. The first step towards this end was the publication of his
second letter, addressed.


"Friends and former Colleagues.--Before writing these words to you,
I asked myself--shall I be listened to by those to whom I am about to
speak? or will my invitations strike in vain upon their ears? No, they
will not strike in vain upon your ears--I feel it and I know it, friends
and former colleagues! You, the so-called inferior clergy, have
been hitherto but little, if at all addressed, because, although you
constitute the real ground-work and the strength of the ecclesiastical
body, you have been, and you still are held, to be a mass inaccessible
to moral freedom--in fact, morally dead. But I have been compelled, by
sense of duty and by love of my country, to address you; and besides,
I speak to you at a time when the laity themselves--the
congregations--think and act, not according to the dead letter, but in
agreement with the spirit of religion. Can it then be, that you, the
priests--the teachers of the people, unlike them, can choose supinely
to remain in circumstances of blind surrender of your judgment? Can you
alone, and without exception, be so deeply sunk in slavery to Rome and
the deadness of the letter, that it is no longer possible for you to
arise and shake your spirits free! This I neither can nor will believe,
for this were to believe you had forgotten to be men--it were to doubt
the triumph of the kingdom of Christ--the triumph of righteousness,--it
were to doubt the improvement and the advancement of society, which you
are imperatively called on to promote. Oh, I have better thoughts
of you, for I have suffered, and still suffer with you; I know the
giant-yoke you wear, and to wear which is accounted (to you?) as the
fulfilment of a most sacred duty--as a merit--as _religion_. Many a one
of you has lamented to me, that the pain of blinded, passive slavery to
Rome burned incurably in his bosom, and I know how many among you writhe
in desperation, and await with longing the hour that is to set you free.
It is, therefore, upon you, and the triumphant strength of a righteous
cause, that I ground my confidence of an assured result. I know full
well that you will not all, of one accord, and at my earliest word,
strike off the shameful fetters of the Roman despotism, and stand forth
as independent German priests--although each one must feel that there
is inspiration in the very thought--but I entertain the hope that many
a one may be aroused from stupefaction at my call--that many a timid
one may be encouraged, and many a dazzled eye restored to clearer
vision--that many among you, moved by my example, will dare to cast
a bold and fearless glance within, and having done so, with a cry of
grief--a cry of horror, at your condition, to stride forward to the
contest, which is to make you once more men! It is to that that I invite
you; you must become men--independent men, for the sake of our holy
religion, for your own sakes, and for the happiness of our common
Fatherland,--I invoke your manhood! You must become men, filled with a
sense of your great dignity as such, as well as with the importance
of your mission--glowing with active zeal for the spiritual and moral
elevation of the nations of the earth! you must become men full of
love to your calling--burning to secure the happiness of your
fellow-mortals!--men full of holy ardour to establish the rights of all
your fellow-citizens without distinction--full of holy ardour for the
bringing in of the reign of righteousness and brotherly-love among all
the children of men; men full of ardour to exhibit your convictions in
your actions--to turn your words to truth and actual realization, that
all men may become brothers--as the children of one Father. In obedience
to your calling, you must become such men. But you are not so at
present--you are the hirelings of the Pope! Yes, you are hirelings,
without a feeling of your dignity as men, or of the importance of
your mission, although you call yourselves the chosen, honoured, and
consecrated servants of the Lord! You do not glow with zeal for the
honour, the moral freedom, the welfare of your fellow-citizens; you even
grind down the bourgeoisie and peasantry, who number in their ranks
your parents and their families--by whose sweat you are supported,--and
anathematize them when they raise their heads, impatient of Romish
interference with their consciences. You feast, while they are hungry;
you riot, while they pine! Is this falsehood? See here a bishop with
40,000 annual dollars (£6000)--religious institutions with incalculable
wealth, and not far from them a poor weaver, who can barely earn five
silver groschens (6d.) weekly for himself and for his family! You are
not filled with holy ardour to spread abroad righteousness, truth, and
light--although from desk and pulpit you deceitfully proclaim, 'with us
alone are truth, peace, civilization, education, and moral freedom; we
are the trusty friends and guides of the nations; it is to us men must
commit their faith, in order after earthly toil to become blessed!' Far
rather do many of you labour, some consciously, others unconsciously, to
promulgate superstition, darkness, and spiritual bondage! You will
say to me,--'Bring proof, bring proof,' and proof you shall have, an
hundred-thousand fold:--_the fruits of your words and of your actions!_
Look to your own consecrated class--what _corruption!_ Look to the
nations--what _misery!_ 'A good tree cannot bear evil fruit.'' The
corruption of your consecrated order is the fruit of your soul-killing
servitude to your superiors; the misery of the nations is, for the
most part, the result of your oppression. The pressure under which
you yourselves languish, is fearful and unspeakable, for you have been
robbed of freedom in the exercise of reason, will, and affection.
You are slaves--and therefore wish your fellow-citizens to share your
bondage. Your spirit lies enchained by despotic bulls and edicts--the
unfettered flight of thought is restrained by curses. Your reason is the
venal slave of selfishness and terror. The so-called Romish Church--more
properly Rome's _despotism_, has placed your faith within such narrow
bounds that you are forced to tremble at each rising thought, and ask
if it be 'orthodox?'--for these bounds of faith are beset by fiends who
threaten your salvation when your spirit thinks to over-step them. Is it
not so? Does not the fear of devils and of hell exert a widely greater
influence than the love of God and of your fellow-men? And what
absurdities are you not commanded to believe and teach!

"You have, further, been deprived of your _free agency_. You must yield
blind obedience to your superiors, and this requirement of passive,
blind obedience is the prime injunction of the Roman Church! Without
this blind obedience, all your virtues are of no avail--without it you
are criminals. The Roman Church, that kindly mother, has seized your
rights as men; you have not, as my example may convince you, even such
privileges as are accorded to the worst of criminals in your fatherland.
And of whom is this Church composed? You tremble before her and her
edicts? Do you know that it is before yourselves you tremble? for you
no less belong to the Church than those among your colleagues who sit in
the chapter-houses or in the episcopal seats--no less than that Italian
Bishop who is called the Pope! Have you forgotten that your colleagues,
to whom you are now required to offer almost idolatrous regard, neither
were, nor wished to be, above yourselves in the early centuries of
Christianity? Have you forgotten that the bishops and priests of those
days were chosen from among the congregations,--that is, the people; and
that the people sat in council with them both! The inferior clergy had
their synods even in the gloomy centuries of the middle ages, and, when
they acted in concert, could give due weight to their desires. And
what have you now, in the nineteenth century? Lordly Presbyterial
Assemblies?! Each one among you fears to utter an honest word in
presence of a right reverend brother. You are mere automata. You have
no will in opposition to your superiors. _Demand your rights as men!_

"Your _freedom of affection_ also has been destroyed; your heart is
stifled and perverted. And how! Shall I hesitate freely to speak out,
because I may subject myself to suspicion--because I expose myself to
the attacks of vulgar-minded men? Ah, no! the principle at stake is too
important, too elevated, and too holy,--it involves nature's highest
ordinance, the holiest concerns of man; from it depends the happiness,
the welfare of many millions--the virtue, honour, and freedom of
the nations; so that I would gladly expose myself on its account to
suspicion and attack! It is _love, marriage, and the family-tie_; you
have been robbed of these--robbed of them by the Rule of Celibacy! It is
by this Rule that your affections are stifled and perverted. Yes, your
hearts are corrupted by the ordinance of celibacy, which has no warrant
in the Gospel, but has been introduced with blood and murder by an
imperious Pope. This ordinance deprives you of your claim to the
possession of a virtuous wife, whose love would render you far happier
and more honourable; it robs you of the joys, the hopes, the love, which
bless the family-tie; it impoverishes and desolates your breast. This
ordinance demoralizes your natural instinct, hands you over to those
outcasts of womankind, through whom so many fall into the deepest mire
of immorality, and become an offence and mockery to their congregations.
This ordinance deprives you of the stamp of open manliness, and makes
you _hypocrites!_

"If the free exercise of reason, will, and affection, has been taken
from you, what have you left worth living for? Can your luxurious tables
compensate for the loss of life's best blessings? Compensate! when your
feast is interrupted by the needy, wretched cries of thousands of your
starving fellow-creatures! or are your revels only seasoned by the
groans of your necessitous brethren? You call yourselves the fathers,
the teachers of the people; arise, then! conduct yourselves as such,
and help to extricate them from their depth of spiritual and physical
misery! Such is your duty, before all others!--'But how can we help
them,' do you ask? Not by the bit of silver, thrown to the poor man with
an ostentatious air, which, in most instances, but tends to lower or
extinguish self-respect; and is besides, but as a drop in the
great furnace. Stand forth against the despotism of Rome! abolish
superstition, that barrier to free agency, and the free practice of
virtue! break down the dishonouring restrictions upon conscience and
religion! contend for the spiritual and physical wellbeing of your
fellow-citizens, and you will aid the people and yourselves! Yes, arise
and burst the chains of cowardice and shame; tear asunder the web of
dissimulation which Rome has woven round you, and become unfettered,
honest priests--true teachers of the German people! You will become
everything! for at present you are _nothing_; become _men!_ attain at
last to the conviction, that the priests exist for the people, and not
the people for the priests; that Christ established his religion, and
enjoined brotherly love, that mankind might be rendered holy and happy
even while on earth; and that it is not his wish that they should pine
in soul and body here, in order to be saved at last, as Romish despotism
teaches;--dare to achieve this conviction, and act upon it, as in duty
bound! Cast off the silly bigotry with which Rome knows how to inoculate
you, and live and labour, not for Rome's Bishop and her ambitious
prelates, but with and for your fellow-citizens!

"Seek rather to attain an honourable place among your fellow-citizens,
and their respect and love--by activity, unblemished character, and a
virtuous--life, than to way-lay or supplicate an indolent and hateful
benefice. Scorn at length that slave-like prejudice, which would rather
follow in the worshipful footprint of its right reverend master, than
listen to the unbiassed judgment and opinion of a freeman! Venture to
contend for your own and the peopled independence and moral freedom--you
will be cordially supported by your fellow-citizens! Employ the pulpit,
the confessional,* and the teacher's desk, which long have been
abused for the darkening and degrading of your countrymen--for their
improvement and emancipation! With and by the people you may become
independent! Assist, therefore, first of all, in emancipating the
national schools, and in securing for the community the free choice of
pastors, and keep abreast of the spirit of the people and of the
times. Yes, yes! go hand in hand with your people, and you will be
invincible--you will work wonders!

     * It must be borne in mind, that this letter is of prior
     date to Ronge's Justification, in which he unhesitatingly
     condemns the use of the Confessional.--Trans.

"Am I dreaming? Look into the world, and mark the results of temperance
societies! Here, to a certain extent, you have aided in the moral
improvement of the people, although many of you have employed means by
which your congregations have been more injured than they could have
been by the most intoxicating drink.

"Do you fear the Chapters, the Bishops, the Pope? All these are
powerless without you--in you alone their strength consists; their
despotism has been erected on your cowardice and ignorance. Demand
general councils, and hold them, as they once were held, in union with
your congregations. Demand of your spiritual superiors that they rule
according to law and privilege, and not after their own caprice; be no
longer their tame and passive slaves.

"Do not allow yourselves to be deceived by the apparent growth of the
Hierarchy; it will, it must fall, for its watchwords are retrogression
and degradation, while providence has ordained improvement for the
world--'Be ye therefore perfect, as my father is perfect.'

"Do not allow yourselves to be persuaded that the ecclesiastical power
is increasing, because you hear of numerous conversions to the Romish
creed in individual German States! The nation must and shall learn that
these conversions are, for the most part, brought about by the intrigues
and money of the Jesuits--by money which these spiritual and consecrated
bands of freebooters of the Romish Hierarchy, wring from the poor by
means of Rosary and Prayer-associations, and of which they rob the rich
by mortmain. When our people shall have learned this--when they shall
have discovered how fearfully all that they hold most sacred--their
religion--is abused by the Romish Church, they will cast off Rome and
her hypocrites with inexorable indignation. Still you may object,--'A
great portion of our people is more attached than ever to the formal
mummeries of Rome--to the doctrine of works; they hasten more than ever
to places of Pilgrimage and Indulgence, and these processions are not
confined to the ignorant populace, but are joined by educated wives and
maidens, while the younger clergy are full of fanaticism! Does not
this indicate the increase and the triumph of the Romish Creed?' Such
phenomena there are indeed--phenomena belonging to the sixteenth, not
the nineteenth century--but these phenomena are the curse upon your
cowardice, the consequences of a want of moral courage to contend
against the hirelings of the Pope. You have not dared encounter these
Roman wolves in German fleeces; you have not dared to honour God and his
truth; you have not dared to sacrifice your benefices to your heart's
convictions, to the welfare of your congregations--of the nation! The
slaves of Rome have therefore been enabled to rule at pleasure in the
Catholic States of Germany, speaking big words--shamelessly insulting
and intriguing--disseminating darkness and superstition. They have
been free to rage in their congregations, to mislead, unpunished and
unchecked, the credulous multitude, and to excite them and the younger
clergy to fanaticism; they have been at liberty to proclaim the grossest
abuses as the actual substance of Christianity, announcing follies and
absurdities as Christian truths--for it is but seldom that any one, now
and then, has ventured to raise his voice against them, or at least it
has been speedily reduced to silence when once raised.

"Hence the insolence of these creatures of Rome, who dare, with
unblushing front, here in the midst of Germany, to call the greater part
of the nation, which refuses to do them homage--_a vulgar mob!_ But, woe
to them! the day has dawned at length,--the mask of their hypocrisy will
be torn aside,--the confidence betrayed of our people and the younger
clergy will burst forth in flames of merited indignation,--truth will
shed a purer and a purer light, until at last the lying fabric shall
fall down, and the rotten timbers of the Hierarchy shall crumble into
dust! For it cannot be, that the spirit of truth, and justice, and
brotherly love, is to be crushed for ever,--the spirit which Christ
promised to _His Church_, and not to _Romish ambition_: 'The spirit
remains with you till the end, and the spirit will make you free.' But
you must seek for and follow after this spirit; then you shall have
nought to fear--you shall triumph. This spirit will not greet you on
your silken couches of indolence, He will not visit your licentious
pillows--the Spirit discovers Himself now and ever as formerly,
working in and through human agents. Strive earnestly and zealously
for intellectual advancement and moral freedom, in union with your
fellow-men,--lend a ready ear to the cries of the needy, enter heartily
into the wishes of your fellow-citizens,--and you shall find the Holy
Spirit, who shall declare Himself to you--you shall hear Him in the
voice, in the call of your people, of your native country! The nation
calls you now to a great and holy work. 'You must,' such is its call,
'cast off the degrading and unchristian despotism of the Roman Bishop;
you must, in union with your fellow-citizens, the laity, restore,
without fear of men, the Christian-Catholic religion, in all its purity
and simple elevation; you must establish a German-Catholic (i. e.
universal) Christian Church; you must be no longer Romish, but honest
German priests and teachers. Such is the voice of your people,--the
call of your country! Will you obey the call? Will you begin the work
without fear of men? Oh, I entreat you, I conjure you to obey the call;
go promptly to the work, now, while there yet is time! I beg of you to
set to the work, and I am not ashamed to beg,--the boon is so elevated
and important! I implore you in the name of our religion, for the sake
of honour, independence, and the peace of Germany,--I implore you, for
your own sakes, by your dignity, honour, virtue,--by your happiness as

"Some of you will object--'But then we must cast off the Pope, and that
were contrary to the Gospel; for Christ says to Peter,--"Thou art a
rock, and upon thee will I build my Church;" Peter was Bishop of Rome,
and the Pope is his successor!' What, brethren? Do you interpret the
saying of the elevated founder of our religion according to the deadness
of the letter? Are you not aware that Christ based His Church upon the
faith and love of Peter, and of his other disciples and followers, but
not upon his person? Do you not know that Rome has spared, and spares,
no fraud to aggrandize herself, and that as history informs us, her
prelates and her slaves have availed themselves of any means, however
inadmissible, for the attainment of the self-same end? Do you not know
that power and riches are the chief objects of the Court of Rome! and,
therefore, must no Catholic either think or speak freely on religious
matters, but blindly, like an animal, embrace and act upon the opinions
of his priest! Ah! you know all this and more;--you know that you even
act in direct opposition to the religion of Christ in bringing mankind
under the unworthy dominion of the Pope, and in the degrading of your
fellow-citizens; but you want the moral courage to shake yourselves
free, you fear to lose your livelihood, you shrink from want and labour!
Such fear is unworthy of the disciples of Christ and of the Truth. As
such, you ought to fear nothing so much as the degradation of yourselves
and of your fellow-men, to which the Papal yoke constrains you; and it
is, therefore, your most sacred duty to renounce the Pope, and to become
the true priests of your people. Or are you, perhaps, not in a condition
to promote the welfare and prosperity of your fellow-citizens? Do you
require the aid of a distant Italian Bishop,--of a foreign power? You
are better able to promote it than a distant Italian Bishop can be! Do
you fear that the renunciation of Rome would lead to discord! Certainly
not; for we are men, and we will act like men! With manly energy and
discretion, in union with our fellow-citizens, will we call together the
communities, freely to deliberate and determine what steps are needful
for us all. In such a work there is no room for discord, for all
violence is done away. Discord and violence are occasioned only by the
Romish despotism, which knows no other law than its own advantage and
aggrandizement. The Romish Hierarchy repels that German maiden from the
altar, who gives her heart to one who owns a different creed,--profanes
the virgin modesty of our sisters by wanton questions under the cloak
of religion,--takes upon itself, here in the midst of Germany, to refuse
the sacraments to mothers, if their children be not nurtured in the
faith of Rome,--rages against all attempts at reconciliation between
German Catholics and Protestants,--it is the Romish Church that will not
hear of peace, however longed for by the people!

"The Romish Government has likewise brought us under an unchristian
constraint, and introduced abuses into our religion, which lead to
superstition and to vice, and which deprive us of the blessings of the
Christian doctrine. We must first of all sweep away these abuses, we
must dismiss, as unintelligible to our people, from all the houses of
God in Germany, the Latin language,--that monument of our subserviency
and spiritual bondage, that unholy constraint which outrages the
clearest injunctions of the Gospel; for Paul says, (1st Cor. 14, 19,)
'I had rather speak five words with my understanding, than ten thousand
words in an unknown tongue,' and in the 23d verse he justly and directly
denounces as madness the use of a foreign and unknown language. We
must besides abolish the confessional, that moral torture-chamber, that
degrading tribunal of Inquisition,--which stamps men hypocrites and
blinded slaves to priestcraft,--which expels from the Supper of the
Lord so many thousand Catholics who nevertheless feel themselves
invited,--and which without a warrant in the Gospel, was first
introduced by one of the most power-loving Popes, twelve hundred years
after Jesus Christ. We must abolish all those mischievous contrivances
of Rome, which are only intended for the extortion of money,--which
undermine true piety, and degrade the priest to a farmer and a
trafficker in salvation! The pure and true and Catholic Christian
religion, shall alone remain, and its fundamental law--the law of
love,--shall not only be expressed in words, but practically evidenced
in our dealings with all our fellow-men of every faith and creed.

"I have been constrained, my friends, to address you in these few words,
to which I have felt myself called by a sense of the duty imposed on
me as preacher of religion, as a disciple of the truth,--these words,
dictated by love to my fellow-citizens, and anxiety for their salvation,
honor, and welfare,--and love to yourselves who languish under the yoke
of Rome! It depends now upon yourselves whether you will obey the
call of your religion, and of your fellow-citizens, and your improved
convictions. Woe! woe! to you, who hear not this appeal! and rest in
error and hypocrisy!--the righteous indignation of your countrymen,
who are now awaking to consciousness, will condemn you in a voice of
thunder, and the sentence will be indelibly engraved upon the page of
history! The work, besides, will be achieved without you.

"To you, who obey this call, eternal joy and blessing! You, who armed
with the moral courage of your calling, shun no labour and no sacrifice!
Yes, eternal joy and blessing to you! Your own consciences will reward
you, the love of your countrymen, the enduring gratitude of history,
shall secure you a millennial fame!"

In this letter, as in the former, it is easy to trace the same spirit
which so evidently characterizes the author as an honest and fearless
assertor of what he believes to be the truth. The event soon shewed
that he had not to fight single-handed. Previously, he had received
assurances of the sympathies of thousands; and now, when the period for
action came, there were not wanting many to cast in their lot with him,
as fellow-workers in overturning the great system of idolatrous worship.
When first suspended, his whole flock petitioned that his services might
still be continued to them--the best practical reply to the charges
advanced against him. Several secessions speedily took place;
congregations were formed at _Schneidemühl_, under pastor _Czerski_,
and at Breslau, where Ronge now is occupied with the constitution and
settlement of the new community. In most cases, the ultra-Catholic party
have done what they could to create disturbance in the meetings, and
generally to obstruct the progress of business; but such attempts have
proved ineffectual. Of course, much in the constitution of the Church
must for a long time remain incomplete, but great unity, as well as
zeal, has hitherto characterized their proceedings.

The principal places where congregations are being formed are Breslau,
Schneidemühl, Leipsic, Dresden, Berlin, Magdeburg, Halberstadt,
Offenbach, Brunswick, Coblentz, Worms, and even Cologne, where priestly
influence is at its _maximum_. Other places it would be useless to name;
in fact, accounts have been received from a vast number of quarters; but
definite and final steps have not yet been taken, and, on all hands, it
is found to be the ease, that great numbers, including clergy as well as
laity, desire the formal recognition of the Church by the State, before
they openly avow their separation from the Roman See. The documents
connected with the origin, constitution, and principles of the Church
have now been laid before the Prussian Government; but, while we write,
no final answer has been returned.

The following remarks will so far explain the relation of this
Government to the new movement:--Hitherto they have maintained the
position of strict neutrality. The law of the land guarantees full
freedom of conscience to every Prussian citizen; and as the new
doctrines involve no principles of danger to the common safety, their
defenders are entitled to demand that no police restrictions be put in
the way of their progress. The law draws a distinction between religious
societies merely _tolerated_, and those formally _acknowledged_ by the
State; the latter only having corporate rights and privileges. The two
Protestant Churches--the Reformed and Lutheran--have been united into
one Church, generally called the Evangelical, which, with the Catholic,
have alike the full sanctions of State protection. It is manifest, that
where such strenuous efforts have been made to bring about this
singular union, and where _unity of creed_ is the avowed object of the
Government, the sanctioning a new class of separatists, whether from
the Catholic or Protestant Church, might lead to serious political
consequences. The party of the _Old Lutherans_, who refused to
co-operate in the scheme of union, have, strictly speaking, no legal
standing in the constitution of Prussia. They are tolerated, but not
acknowledged by the State. It seems exceedingly probable that such will
be the position of the new German Catholic Church, which would at once
secure the legally guaranteed rights of conscience, and, at the same
time, form no exception to the determination of the Government, as such,
to have only the two great antagonist Churches and Confessions.

Meanwhile, the King of Saxony, though a Catholic, has more openly avowed
his principles in connection with the movement. He was waited on by the
Bishop and Catholic Clergy of Leipsic, for the purpose of impressing
on him the duty of putting down the new sect by law. His reply was as
follows:--"I wonder much at the demand you have made; and all the more,
as you know that nineteen-twentieths of my subjects are Protestants,
whose conduct of late to my Catholic fellow-citizens has greatly
rejoiced my heart. You know, moreover, that I am King of a
_constitutional State_, and, as such, have promised and sworn to secure
full religious freedom to my subjects, of whatever faith. I shall, then,
place no obstruction in the way of what has taken place, but give events
their free course, because _I will not, and dare not_, make any
one swerve from that faith and worship from which alone he expects
salvation. This is my firmly-settled resolution." And with these
memorable words, the Bishop and Clergy were most graciously dismissed.
The joy in Leipsic at the answer of the King was unbounded, As an
off-set to this state of matters in Prussia and Saxony, we have to
state, that the papal influence has been brought to bear upon the
Governments of Austria and Bavaria--we believe with success--to prevent
_by law_ the formation of any Church in connection with the new sect,
throughout both kingdoms.

It is, of course, not to be expected that these congregations can as
yet have had time or opportunity to draw up a full and duly authorized
Confession of Faith. As matters stand, one congregation has adhered
to the Apostolical Creed--another to the Nicene Creed (a.d. 325). The
following is the Confession drawn up, and which has been generally
adhered to by the congregation of Schneidemühl:--


Art. 1. The foundation of the Christian faith should be solely and
exclusively the Holy Scriptures and Reason, pervaded and actuated by
true Christian principles in their interpretation--Art. 2. The community
accepts the Apostolic Creed as its own. It is the problem of the Church,
as of the individual, to reduce its contents to a living recognition,
corresponding with the principles of the age.--Art. 3. In the difference
of statement and interpretation with regard to the given contents
of this Confession of Faith, the community finds no ground for
excommunication or anathematizing.--Art. 4. With reference to the
objective principles of belief, it, is held that there ought to be no
impediment to free inquiry, and that no one should be anathematized
on account of the exercise of the right conceded to him of free
inquiry--because it is impossible to fix a completely definite rule
of faith for the human mind.--Art. 5. The community consider the chief
problem of Christianity to be, not merely the bringing of its principles
to living recognition among the members of the community, by public
worship, teaching, and instruction, but also the promoting, according
to their ability, the spiritual, moral, and physical good of their
fellow-men, without distinction.--Art. 6. The community acknowledges
only two Sacraments, Baptism and the Lord's Supper; because only
these have unquestionably been instituted by Christ, according to the
testimony of the Scriptures.--Art. 7. Baptism is the sign of reception
into the Christian Society; it is administered to children under the
reservation of their confirming the Confession of Faith at the years of
maturity.--Art. 8. The Lord's Supper serves as a remembrance of Christ,
and as a sign of a covenant of brotherhood for all men.--Art. 9. The
Sacrament to be received by the community in both kinds, as it was
appointed by Christ.--Art. 10. Transubstantiation is not acknowledged,
because it cannot be justified from the Gospel.--Art. 11. Marriage is
declared as a holy institution, and the blessing of the Church on the
same regarded as necessary.--Art. 12. There are no other restrictions on
marriage recognized than those appointed by the laws of the State.--Art.
13. Celibacy is rejected by the community as an institution not found in
the Holy Scripures, as not to be justified before reason, and as devised
by the Roman Popes for the advancement of their Hierarchy.--Art. 14.
The community rejects the supremacy of the Roman Pope.--Art. 15. It
abolishes auricular confession.--Art. 16. It uses the language of
the people in public worship.--Art. 17. It rejects the invocation and
worshipping of saints, (admitted into the ritual of the Romish Church),
relics, and images, which are regarded as unchristian, and as leading
to gross abuse.--Art. 18. All the previously existing customs of the
Church, such as indulgences, fastings, pilgrimages, which could only
lead to a useless work-holiness, are abolished by the community.--Art.
19. The outward form of public worship should ever adapt itself to the
wants of time and place.--Art. 20. The outward demeanour in the Church
cannot be prescribed, and is left to the religious sense of each
individual; that which leads to superstitution is forbidden.--Art. 21.
Only those festivals are to be celebrated which are sanctioned according
to the laws of the land.--Art. 22. The community makes use of its old
right freely to elect for itself its pastors and office-bearers.--Art.
23. The community is to be represented by its pastors and the
chosen elders; the election of the elders to take place yearly at
Whitsunday.--Art. 24. Each pastor to be introduced to the congregation
and to his office by a church service, yet herewith avoiding everything
which could be held as sanctioning the sacramental value of the Roman
consecration of the priesthood, and serve as the foundation of the
Hierarchy.--Art. 25. The stipend of the pastor to be regulated according
to the means of the members of the congregation.--Art. 26. All church
transactions, such as baptisms, marriages, burials, to be gone about by
the pastor, without (surplice) fees, for all members of the community
alike.--Art. 27. All these findings are not settled for all times,
but can be altered according to the belief (lit. consciousness) of a
particular period, by the community in agreement therewith.--Art. 28.
To make a Christian Church a truly universal (Catholic) one, and not
to exclude the admission of congregations constituting themselves in
different places--all these, in every view, merely provisional findings,
to be submitted to a universal (German) council,--Art. 29. The reception
into the Church, after its complete constitution, takes place after
the declaration of desire for admission, and the acceptance of the
Confession of Faith adopted by the community, before the office-bearers,
by public deed in the congregation.

Another short document has appeared, which runs as follows:--"I believe
in God the Father, who by his Almighty Word created the world, and
governs it in wisdom, justice, and love. I believe in Jesus Christ, one
Saviour, who by his teaching, his life, and his death, has redeemed us
from the bondage of sin. I believe in the work of the Holy Spirit upon
earth--a holy universal Christian Church--the forgiveness of sins, and
the life everlasting. Amen."

The following is the order of Church-service for the Church in
Breslau.--1. Introductory Hymn. 2. Confession of sins (Confiteor). Lord
pity us, &c. Glory be to God, &c. 4. The prayers of the Collect. 5. The
Epistle. 6. The Gospel. 7. The Sermon, with the usual prayers, with a
verse of a hymn before and after. 8. Instead of the Canon of the Mass, a
passage from the Passion and the Sacrament. 9. Holy, holy, holy, &c.
O, Lamb of God, &c. 10. Lord's Prayer. 11. Concluding Hymn. 12.
Benediction. It has also been resolved that part of the Sabbath
afternoon be devoted to catechizing, as is now common in many Protestant
churches in Germany and Switzerland. The only point of difference, so
far as we are aware, among the different communities, is on the doctrine
of tradition; some proposing to abolish it altogether, while others wish
to retain it so far as in accordance with the Bible--though to maintain
a subordinate place. An intimation has been published, stating that
representatives from all the churches--now about 18 in number--are
to meet in Leipsic at Easter, to make arrangements for the authorized
constitution of the new Church. Meanwhile Ronge has prepared the draft
of a new liturgy.

The community at _Elberfeld_, in separating from the Church of Rome,
expresses itself as follows:--

"In the name of God, the Father, the Son, and the Holy Ghost, Amen! We,
the undersigned citizens of Elber-feld, belonged, up to this period, to
the Roman Catholic Church, and had, for a long period, been aware with
increasing force, of the errors and abuses which cling to it in its most
inward principles, and have assumed the ascendancy in its latest phases.
The more we have striven to become acquainted with the true doctrine of
Jesus in the Gospel, which is the alone source of revealed truth, the
more deeply have we been penetrated with the conviction, that Christ is
the only mediator between God and man, and that the doctrine with regard
to the Pope and the one infallible Church, has no foundation in the
word of God, and weakens the merits of Christ; that the doctrines of the
Romish Church of the Holy Sacrament--of the priesthood and its relation
to the people, is false, and deprives believers of their choicest
privileges. The more clear this conviction has gradually grown upon us,
the more oppressive do we feel the chains by which we are bound, and the
more are we in our consciences hindered from belonging to a Church whose
most important doctrines we can no longer reconcile with the Gospel,
from adhering to a faith which we cannot openly avow as becomes the
disciples of the Lord. Herewith was connected the pain of having no
worship of God corresponding with our altered religious views. Then came
forth from the darkness, whose shadows settled more and more thickly
over us, a light which, in our extremity, we view as the morning-dawn of
hope, and as announcing to us the good favour of God. Events, to which
we do not require more specially to refer, have given us the joyful
assurance, that the day is at hand, which brings deliverance and freedom
to those in bondage! That which was struggling unconsciously within
ourselves has now been brought to full consciousness, and we thank God
that we now know what we should do, and that he has given us courage
openly to bear testimony to the faith which we acknowledge. In the sight
of God we separate ourselves from the Pope, and the Hierarchy, and
from the whole anti-evangelical system therewith connected, whatever
struggles or shame we may have to encounter. We thus separate
ourselves--not for the sake of carrying on a war against those who hold
a different confession--not even that confession which we abandon--but
for the purpose of finding rest for our souls, and of serving and
thanking our God and Lord in peace. We separate ourselves--not in a
spirit of vain glory, or from a false desire of freedom, we acknowledge,
along with our brethren in Schneidemuhl, Jesus the crucified, whose pure
doctrines alone, whose kingdom alone, whose glory and worship alone, we
seek and desire, Amen!

"Accordingly, we hereby constitute ourselves into a Christian, Catholic,
and Apostolic Church. We solemnly declare that we adhere to the
Confession of Faith, in the sister Church, in all its essential
points, as follows,--(here follows a verbal copy of the Schneidemühl
Confession.) This true, universal faith, revealed by Christ Jesus,
we now acknowledge, freely and truly, and promise, by God's help, to
maintain and avow the same with unbroken steadfastness, uncorrupted and
unperverted; as also to give all possible care that this faith be held,
taught, and avowed, by those under us, or by those who have confidence
in our intention, until our Confession of Faith has received the
requisite alterations or enlargements in a future general (German)
council of the chief members of the entire Christian-Catholic Church.
May then God and his divine Gospel assist us! Amen!

"In this Confession of Faith we have declared our inmost convictions.
Although we are still few in number, yet we feel ourselves strong enough
in our Christian faith to oppose' all difficulties, obstacles, and
oppositions, and by God's grace, not to wander or waver in the way which
has been marked out, but to remain firm in our present intentions and
desires unto the end of our days--even though the outward means for
carrying these out should be wanting--even though our present limited
number should be still more limited--yet even though only one of us
should in this life stand alone in these his convictions. At a later
period we shall hold our public consulting assemblies, and allow,
even to those who are most undetermined in the matter, free right of
admission, and liberty of stating their views, that all may be convinced
of our upright intentions.

"The members of the German Christian Catholic Apostolic community in
Elberfeld. In their name. (Signed) C. T. von Knapp, R. Hockelmann, T.

"Elberfeld, 15th February 1845."

It were of course quite premature to criticize the doctrines, or system
of government of the new Church, as they themselves have declared
that their findings are not to be held as final, until they have been
examined and approved of by a general synod or council. Meanwhile we
hasten to complete this hurried sketch. Since the events that have
taken place, Bishop Arnoldi has been honoured with torch-processions
in Cologne and Bonn and Coblentz, and has been burned in effigy by the
students in Jena. So far from wishing to undo what has been done, he has
instituted an annual Church festival, to be called the Festival of the
Holy Coat, the Nails, and the Lance, and to be held on the Wednesday in
the third week after Easter. Nay, not only so, but it has been actually
reported that he has resolved to establish another Pilgrimage in honour
of the Holy Nail, which Prince Metternich has, after solemn conference
and negociation, promised to restore to the Cathedral of Treves.
The Bishop has lately given a proof of his tyranny as well as his
superstition, in suspending one of the clergy of his diocese, by name
Licht, who had dared to doubt--and to express his doubts to his people.
He had been promised to be reinstated on retracting his obnoxious
opinions about the Coat--but has preferred degradation to dishonour.
Our clergy, says one account, appear to lose in prudence exactly as the
Separatists increase. Thus, so far from the more extreme section of them
expressing themselves with greater caution than formerly, some of them
are declared to have taught openly since the event, that not only was
this the _bonâ fide_ Coat of our Lord, but that it was the _only Coat
which he ever wore_--and that it grew with the growth of his body from
the cradle to the Cross. To counteract the influence of the movement now
in progress, Bishop Arnoldi, in conjunction with the Bishop of Cologne,
has instituted a new Catholic Society for the Rhine provinces, the
object of which is,--by a Monthly Journal, by the circulation of sermons
and tracts, by the publication of standard Catholic works at a cheap
rate, by the founding of a new Catholic library and the like, to diffuse
a spirit of stronger Catholicity through this section of the Church. A
member of the Theological Seminary is already named as its president,
and collections are ordered to be made on a general scale in all the
parishes, and specially by calls made at each individual house. In
addition, five new journals of the same stamp have been established.

Meanwhile the Protestant evangelical societies have not been asleep.
The Gustavus-Adolphus Society (a Society founded for the support of
poor Protestant congregations in Catholic countries, and one of the
best proofs of the reviving spirit in the German Church,) have expressed
their opinion that by the constitution of the Society, they are
precluded from assisting the new movement by specific grants of money,
but at the same time stating their desire to urge on the spirit that was
abroad by all means in their power. Collections accordingly have been
made in the various large towns, to defray the necessary expenses
incurred by the support of clergy, the performance of public worship
and the like. Places of meeting have been granted in most cases by the
authorities of the town. So far as we are aware, only one member of the
new community has openly gone over to the Protestant Lutheran Church.

In Breslau the long-vacant and much-disputed episcopal chair still
remains unoccupied,--von Diepenbrock having expressly refused the offer,
on the alleged ground of the unsettled state of the Church. During the
late sittings of the Diet at Breslau, the excitement was altogether of
a religious and not of a political kind. Ronge and the anti-Popish
movement were the great subjects of conversation. "The Separation," says
an account, "is widening daily, and quarters are now full of agitation
which before were peaceful as the grave. Our ears are once more deafened
by the No Popery cry. The congregation here now numbers above
600 families." Ronge is busily occupied with the affairs of the
Church--delivering the most stirring addresses--and everywhere receiving
fresh proofs of sympathy and support.

Czerski, the pastor of Schneidemühl, has followed Luther's example in
the matter of marriage, the Protestant clergyman officiating. He has
since been formally degraded and excommunicated, previous to which, we
believe that in many places seven masses were offered up daily for his
return to the communion of the Church. In addition, all who adhere to
his opinions have been excommunicated _en masse_. A small pamphlet
has lately come out in Berlin, which states, that he had been always
distinguished by great laboriousness in his parish, and that he had
previously excited great attention by a stirring Address which he had
delivered in the open air, on the matter of some Indulgence, pointing
out the true method of repentance and pardon, and advising the people
to have nothing farther to do with Indulgences, as the greatest of them
could not make a man a Christian. He is represented as a person of great
simplicity of character, and of deep feeling. He is firm in expressing
his determination to adhere to the Bible and not to the Church. He and
Ronge have been both, by letter from high quarters, admonished to be on
their guard, as attempts on their life from some fanatics were dreaded.
Several threatening letters had been also sent to some of the more
active lay members in the new Church. At Breslau, on Sabbath, 9th
March, the first public service was celebrated. Dr. Steiner delivered an
Address on the momentous step which had been taken, and then requested
the community to use the right of _free election of their pastor_, now
restored to them. John Ronge was unanimously chosen. Czerski was present
from Schneidemühl, to take part in the services of the day. Intimation
was made that Kerbler, hitherto vicar in Lindenau, was present, and had
joined the New Church. Then followed the induction of the new pastor
into his charge. Twelve girls dressed in white, with garlands of
flowers, formed a procession,* which was followed by John Ronge,
Czerski, Kerbler, and the chief members of the congregation. Dr. Steiner
then delivered a powerful Address to the new pastor on the duties of his
office. Ronge replied to his people, and promised not to forsake them
in joy or sorrow, after which the ordinary services of public worship
began. After a hymn, he ascended the pulpit, and delivered a discourse
_on the true character of the Church_, which he said was founded on
the two maxims of Christ,--"Be ye perfect as your Father in Heaven is
perfect;" and "Love God, and your neighbour as yourself," and not on
exclusive confessions, forms, and ceremonies. The great matter was to
make Christianity inward and spiritual, and then to act accordingly. The
man who did this was a true Christian, and herein lay the possibility of
having a universal Christian Church, which should be one in knowledge,
in love, and in deed. After leaving the pulpit, he read the New
Confession of Faith from the altar, to which those present responded
with a hearty "Amen." A selected piece from the Passion was then read,
with the words of the institution of the Supper, which was followed by
the choral, "Holy, holy, holy." The whole was closed with the Lord's
prayer, the Hymn "Great God we praise thee," and the Benediction. The
service seems to be pretty nearly the same as in the Protestant German
Church, at least as it is now celebrated in the Cathedral of Berlin.

     * This must be regarded as a German rather than Popish

But the matter of controversy is not confined to the humble
parish-priests of Silesia. While the two Bishops of Treves and Cologne,
Arnoldi and von Geissel, have been issuing their annual pastoral letters
in Lent, filled with the most extravagant declarations of ultramontane
opinions, the Bishop of Mayence, von Kaiser, has issued a document
breathing a very different spirit. In the former, each of the faithful
is admonished in opposition to the movements which are at present taking
place in the Catholic Church, to hold firmly by Rome and the Pope, as
the central-point of the Church--is warned against apostacy and false
doctrine, whilst the faith in relics, and what belongs thereto, is
expressly inculcated. Bishop Kaiser, again, in a mild and tolerant
spirit, dwells largely upon the fundamental principle of brotherly love
and reconciliation, and although he attaches great weight to positive
belief, yet, above all things, he gives prominence to the principle
of the Apostle Paul:--"If I had all faith, and had not charity, I am
nothing." Without this, he adds, all our works have no value before God.
This pastoral letter has, in its whole contents, reference to the Church
relations of the present times, and must be regarded as a determined
protest against the wild proceedings of the Jesuits. He proves that
it is neither Catholic nor Christian to make a tool of fanaticism,
intolerance, and proselytism,--that the principle of toleration is also
a Catholic one, and that both Churches can subsist together in peace, if
the authors of disturbance were only powerfully restrained. He moreover
_acknowledges the claims of Protestantism_,--a fact which, in reference
to the recent course of events, is of vast importance:--"It is
possible," says he, "for men of different creeds, if they have good
moral principles, to live together in the same country, and to meet
in civil life peacefully, friendly, and lovingly, and yet for each to
remain unchangeably true to his individual belief. This experience has
taught; already 300 years have past since in Germany a section of our
brethren in the faith separated themselves from us. The division has
taken place. Divine Providence has permitted it, and permits it still.
What God permits, man should permit too; or should man not will it
so--still he _must_. If the mixture of men of different creeds has
once become realized as a fact, then has their living together become a
matter of necessity. It were, accordingly, foolish and unreasonable,
if they did not wish, as much as in them lay, honestly and truly, by
reciprocal toleration and indulgence, to make these differences lighter
and less felt. It were foolish, hypocritical, and supercilious, at the
same time, if they passed judgment upon each other's faith and believing
life harshly and uncharitably, rather than to be reserved in their
judgment, and to consider that each man for himself, and among his own
fellow-believers, has faults enough to rectify. * * * * God is love, and
we prove our love of God by our love of man. In faith we are not at
one, but in love we can and ought to be so--in love, we can and ought
to strive with one another, and by love can we best show the truth
and purity of our belief, and place ourselves in the best position
for recommending it to others, until it shall please God that we all
together should attain to the unity of the faith.'"

We believe it difficult to exaggerate the importance of this document.
Here is a man holding a high office in the Catholic Church--living in
the very midst of the scenes lately enacted, with two bishops on either
side of his diocese, who seem equally ready personally to take part in,
or with all the power of their office, to defend the most extravagant
superstitions, or the most insidious policy of Jesuitism, with a people
who showed how thoroughly they were given up to idolatry, and with a
clergy equally capable of misleading or being misled,--still calmly
lifting up his voice for a purer faith, and for the manifestation of the
true spirit of Christian liberty and love. It seems most probable that
this defence of _toleration_ may, ere long, make its author
personally feel what _intolerance_ is. He is already denounced by the
ultra-Catholic party in the Rhine provinces, and report says, in the
Vatican itself. If so, we may expect to hear more of Bishop Kaiser of
Mayence. Meanwhile, it is gratifying to state that Addresses have been
sent to him by his clergy and fellow-citizens, fully participating
in his spirit, and expressive of their joy that he has all along so
strongly discountenanced the doings in the neighbouring diocese
of Treves; while a Special Address has been presented to him from
Offenbach, praying that he, as their spiritual guide, would lead the way
in making them discard the leading errors of Popery. To show that this
spirit of dissatisfaction is not confined to an individual case, we may
state, that at least one other Bishop has, in his annual Address, passed
over what has taken place without a single allusion or remark; nay, that
even in Treves itself, which seems destined to become the _Mecca_ of
continental Popery, there were priests whom nothing but the fear of
consequences compelled to take part in the degrading scenes referred to.

And now, in drawing this hasty sketch to a close, we have left ourselves
room for but one or two general remarks.

1. From what has been said, it must be as a matter of fact, plain,
that Germany is now the scene of a most remarkable awakening. Catholic
Germany is again, after a lapse of more than three centuries, the scene
of an open secession from the Church of Rome; and at the head of the
movement stands one, who writes with Luther-like power--who has gone
through many of Luther's experiences, and who has already shown that he
has imbibed a vast deal of Luther's spirit, in deed as well as word. The
occasion too, of the movements, was not unlike--Indulgences in the
one case, and relics, accompanied with Indulgences, in the other, have
awakened men's minds to see the evils of the whole system, and to shake
off their connection with it. Congregations have been formed--a new
Church is being established, and men on all sides say and show that
they identify themselves with the movement. The Pope is busied now with
giving new directions for the German Church; and is earnestly setting
himself to narrow, as far as policy, or concession, or remonstrance
can do, the evils of the schism which has already taken place. The new
Church, it is true, still adheres to the name Catholic, and Ronge has
said, that to pure Catholicism he remains true; but we quarrel not with
names, if the faith and doings of the men be Protestant in fact. And
moreover, it is at once evident, that as regards the immediate progress
of the movement, it is perhaps well that Ronge should still, if he so
pleases, call himself Catholic, as by so doing, he is not to be viewed
with the same jealousy or distrust by his Catholic brethren, which would
be the case, if he at once openly avowed that he had become Protestant.
In this event he would be treated as a heretic by hundreds, whose eyes,
like Luther's, may not at once be opened to see that the Church of Rome
is not the true and only Church of Christ.

2. As to the _real character_ of the present movement, in a religious
point of view, it becomes us, _as yet_, to speak with caution. The
period has not arrived for our forming a proper estimate of it, as we
have not yet all the materials for so doing; and still more as great
allowance must be made for two circumstances--1st, The half-formed
condition of the new community in its present transition state; and 2d,
That progress in their views of divine truth, which may take place with
them as it did with Luther. Meanwhile, taking both circumstances into
view, it cannot be questioned that much of the present movement may be
traced to causes other than those connected with the deeply Evangelical
principles, which characterized the Reformation. It is true, the
Reformation began also with a mere outward abuse; but this was rather
the first occasion for the manifestation of the Christian principle,
that was the soul of the movement in the sixteenth century, and
determined its whole spiritual character. The great Evangelical doctrine
of _Justification by Faith_ was, _in principle_, opposed to all such
practices, of which _Indulgences_ was only one specimen; but this
doctrine went a great deal further, namely, in supplying the positive
and constructive principle of the Reformation throughout. The trade
in Indulgences might have been opposed upon grounds of mere worldly
politics--from an infidel hatred of all systems of religion--from a
mere moral dislike at hypocrisy or superstition; but it required a true
spiritual principle, connected with man's relation to God as a sinner,
to give it its full value as regards the cause of Evangelical truth. The
Reformation proceeded from a living principle within, which was at war
with outward practices and systems,--instead of merely opposing these
from principles drawn from a different circle of motives and actions
apart from religion. Popery was overthrown by the French Revolution,
as well as the Reformation; but no one would think of comparing as
analagous the moral causes at work in both cases. And now as to
Ronge's movement, we desiderate the statement of the great evangelical
principles on which he falls back, and which would prove his struggle
to be freed from priestly thraldom to be the desire of reaching the true
liberty of the sons of God in Christ. It cannot be concealed that much
of the spirit of Ronge's letters is explicable from the mere desire
of independence of priestly tyranny, or from principles of a general
enlightenment--or of warm patriotism, not necessarily of a religious
character. Certain it is, that in all his productions there is much to
desiderate; nay, we may go farther, and declare that there is much in
them which seems to savour of the modern German Liberalism, with all its
parade of words about the dignity of human nature, and the demands
of the spirit of the age, and the shadowy future of an ideal
perfectibility. It is not to be denied, moreover, that many of the
Addresses sent to Ronge breathe a good deal the same spirit, and are
sadly wanting in the strong statements of men who have been really made
to feel that this is a matter affecting the salvation of the soul,
and man's highest interests as an immortal being. This we are far from
stating from feelings of suspicion or hypercritical jealousy. Quite the
reverse. We are merely pointing out a source of danger in passing too
hurried a decision on a movement which may not yet have had time or
opportunities enough to bring out or establish its real spiritual

But on this point we have said enough, and desire that what we have
said be not construed into an avowed opinion as to the character of this
movement as a whole; but rather as indicating the possible direction
which may be given to it, if the principles hinted at be really at the
bottom of it. We earnestly hope that such is not the fact.

3. What we have now said leads us, in conclusion, to state the
obligation which lies on the Protestants of this country to give, if
possible, a proper direction to this movement, and to encourage it, in
so far as it has this direction, by all means in their power. A voice
from Protestant Britain might do much to strengthen the hands, and
encourage the hearts, of those who are now occupied in opposing error,
and, we hope, testifying for the truth, from a true knowledge of it
as it is in Jeans. Most desirable it is that this movement be guarded
against the influences of Rationalism, of whatever kind, and thus of
becoming a scandal to Protestantism, and a new cause for the enemy to
triumph. The awakened and evangelical Protestantism of Germany will
be ready to co-operate with us and with them, in proportion to their
increased purity of creed, and their daily increasing activity and
efficiency as a branch of the Church of Christ. A noble opportunity
seems now, in the providence of God, presented, for drawing together
different parts of the Christian Church, as well as of aiding in a great
effort to overthrow the system which has so long kept the nations in the
very darkness of the shadow of death. We have means of knowing that many
of the best and wisest men in Germany believe that we are now standing
on the threshold of great events; and meanwhile, when on both sides of
the Alps, Popery is reorganizing itself for a new and fierce attack on
Christendom and Heathenism alike, it is most gratifying to know that
in the very country of the Reformation--aye, and in the bosom of the
Catholic Church itself, there should still be found slumbering the
spirit of Luther and his times. Let us hope that the presence of Him who
led the spirit of Luther to larger conceptions of Divine Truth, and gave
him courage equal to his mighty work, may now be vouchsafed to many
who, like him, may still be groping in a kind of twilight knowledge and
faith, and be led, as all around and within them brightens, to have
no longer any fellowship with the works of darkness! May God grant the
Churches of Christendom light to act as becomes the emergency; and may
all that has taken place, or that may yet take place, in connection
therewith, tend to advance the kingdom of our Lord and Saviour Jesus
Christ. We conclude with the well known words of Luther:--"If this is
God's work it will advance; if it be man's it will come to nought."

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