The Priest, the Woman
and the Confessional.
WHO IS CHINIQUY?
IMPORTANT ORIGINAL DOCUMENTS
ESTABLISHING THE HIGH CHARACTER AND STANDING OF
PASTOR CHINIQUY WHEN IN THE CHURCH OF ROME.
MR. Chiniquy is one of the most conspicuous champions of Protestantism of the present day.
He was invited to Scotland by her leading ecclesiastics to take part in the Tercentenary of the Reformation, and to England in later years, when all her leading Protestants stood forth to honor the Emperor William of Germany and Prince Bismarck for their noble resistance to Papal pre-tensions to authority in Germany. He then, in 1874, addressed the great gathering in Exeter Hall, over which Lord Russell presided; and afterwards, for six months, lectured throughout England on
the invitation of Ministers of every Evangelical Denomination.
Of such a man with such a history of struggles, services and success, the Protestants all over the world need not be ashamed.
During the last two years he has lectured and preached to crowded houses in Australia, receiving from the clergy and people of that country many testimonials of their esteem and regard for his valuable services in the cause of Protestantism.
It is well known that Father Chiniquy rose into general notoriety in Canada as an Apostle of Temperance. But long before this—when a parish priest, and even when a student—he was held in high repute. The sketch of his early life is as follows: Born at Kamouraska, Canada, July 30, 1809. His father's name, Charles Chiniquy, his mother's, Reine Perrault, both natives of Quebec. His father died in 1821; his mother in 1830. After his father's death, a rich uncle, by name Amable Dionne, a member of the upper house of Parliament in Canada, who had married his mother's sister, took him in charge, and sent him to the College of St. Nicholet, with which he was connected from 1822 to 1833, attaining high honors as a linguist and mathematician. His moral conduct got him the name among his fellow-students of
St. Louis Gonzaque de Nieholet. He was ordained a priest in 1833, in the Cathedral of Quebec, by Bishop Sinaie, and began his ministry at St. Charles, on the river Berger, Canada. After this he was Chaplain to the Marine Hospital, and there studied under Dr. Douglas the effects of alcohol on the human system. He became convinced that it was poisonous, and its general use criminal. He wrote to Father Matthew, of Ireland, and soon after started the Temperance Crusade among the Roman Catholics of Canada. He began at Beauport, where he was parish priest. There were then seven taverns or hotels, but no school. In two years he had seven schools, and not a single tavern in the parish. A Temperance Column was erected in that town to commemorate his achievements in this good work. He was soon transferred to the larger parish of Kamouraska; but he shortly gave up his parish duties and transferred his headquarters to Montreal, to devote his whole time to the cause of temperance,—from 1846 to 1851. As the result, all the distilleries were closed except two in the whole Province.
These noble efforts were publicly acknowledged. We refer to four distinct acts of recognition among many. The first is the Address of the Independent Order of Rechabites of Canada, and dated
Montreal, 31st August, 1848, with Mr. Chiniquy's reply. It is creditable to the Protestants of Lower Canada that they so honored a priest of the Church of Rome when doing a noble work for the general good of the country. Both documents are worthy of the cause. Instead of taking glory to himself for this success, Mr. Chiniquy uses these words in the course of his reply: "Persuaded that this success is solely the work of God—to Him be all the glory!" The great city of Montreal was moved to gratitude, and a Gold Medal was presented to him in the name of the city, with these words on one side—
To FATHER CHINIQUY,
APOSTLE OF TEMPERANCE,
And on the other—
HONOR TO HIS VIRTUES, ZEAL AND PATRIOTISM.
The Canadian Parliament moved also in his honor, and voted to him an Address and Five Hundred Pounds as a public token of the gratitude of a whole people.
The fame of his labors in the cause of Temperance reached the Pope, and through an aspiring priest who visited Rome about that period, the POPE'S BLESSING was sent to Mr. Chiniquy, as
testified by the following letter. The translations are verbatim, no freedom being taken to render them into more idiomatic English:—
"ROME, 10th August, 1850.
"Sir, and very Dear Friend:
"It is only Monday, the 12th, that it has been given me to have a private audience with the Sovereign Pontiff. I have taken the opportunity to present to him your book, with your letter, which he has received—I do not say with that goodness which is so eminently characteristic—but with all special marks of satisfaction and of approbation, while charging me to state to you that HE ACCORDS HIS APOSTOLIC BENEDICTION TO You and to the holy work of Temperance which you preach.
"I esteem myself happy to have had to offer on your behalf to the Vicar of Jesus Christ, a book which, after it had done so much good to my countrymen, has been able to draw from his venerable mouth such solemn words of approbation of the Temperance Society, and of blessing on those who are its apostles; and it is also for my heart a very sweet pleasure to transmit them to you.
CHARLES T. BAILLARGEON,
Following this we give the general circular furnished to him by the Bishop of Montreal, in which he is designated Apostle of Temperance.
"By the divine mercy and grace of the Holy Apostolic See, Bishop of Marianopolis (Montreal).
"To all who would inspect the present Letter we make known and testify:—That the venerable Charles Chiniquy, Apostle of Temperance, Priest of our Diocese, is very well known to us, and regard him as proved to lead a praiseworthy life and one agreeable to his ecclesiastical profession through the tender mercies of our God under no ecclesiastical censures, at least which have come to our knowledge, by which he might be restricted. We entreat each and all Archbishops, Bishops and other dignitaries of the Church, to whom it may happen that he may go, that, they for the love of Christ entertain him kindly and courteously, and as often as they may be asked by him, permit him to celebrate the Holy Sacrifice of the Mass, and exercise other ecclesiastical privileges and works of piety. We showing ourselves ready for similar and greater things. In confidence of which we have ordered the present general Letter to be prepared tinder our sign and seal, and with the subscription of the secretary of our Episcopate at Marianople, in our Palace of the Blessed James, in the year one thousand eight hundred and fifty, on the sixth day of the month of June.
Bishop of Marianopolis.
"By order of the most illustrious and most reverend Bishop of Marianopolis, D. D.
J. O. PARE, Canon,
His high position was now universally acknowledged, and he was chosen by the dignitaries of the Church of Rome to lead a new and important movement. It was to take possession of the Valley of the Mississippi, and form a new Roman
Catholic colony in the very centre of the United. States. The Roman Catholic Bishop of Chicago, Bishop Vandevelt, came to Canada to confer with him on the subject. The proposal was to transfer thousands of French Canadians, zealous Roman Catholics, to this new territory, and Father Chiniquy was to conduct the enterprise and be the new champion of Rome. He accepted the offer. He went and surveyed the land, selected the territory, and returning to Canada took over to the new colony a first batch of five thousand emigrants, all zealous for the Church in this new movement.
Before finally taking up his quarters in St. Anne,. Kankakee, State of Illinois, the seat of the chosen colony, he requested his official dismission from the diocese of Montreal, with which he had been connected for the five previous years. We give the answer in full, to show his standing when he left Canada for his new field.
MONTREAL, 13th October, 1851.
SIR:—You ask me the permission to leave the diocese to go to offer your services to the Monseigneur of Chicago. As you belong to the diocese of Quebec, I believe that it appertains to Monseigneur, the Archbishop, to give you the exeat which you ask. For me, I cannot but thank you for your labors among us; and I wish you in return the most abundant blessings of Heaven. You shall
ever be in my remembrance and in my heart; and I hope the Divine Providence will permit me at a future time to testify to you all the gratitude that I feel within me. Meanwhile,
I remain, dear sir,
Your very humble and obedient servant,
"Bishop of Montreal.
"Mr. Chiniquy, Priest."
Thus he left Canada in the highest repute with the hierarchy of Rome. But a few years passed when the colony had expanded to the occupation of forty square miles, and thousands were still pouring in, not only from Canada, but from the Roman Catholic population of Europe. But in an evil day for Rome, Bishop Vandevelt was removed, and an Irish Bishop, O'Reagan, took his place, and at once began to obstruct and oppress the French settlers. Here we state to Americans what is well known in Canada, that the French and Irish Roman Catholics seldom agree—there are violent feuds between them. The violence, oppression and injustice of the Irish Bishop O'Reagan drove Father Chiniquy into resistance and to appeals to the outside Roman Catholic world for redress and deliverance from oppression. It came even to the Pope, and he sent Cardinal Bedeni to Chicago to investigate the dispute. He declared O'Reagan to be in the wrong, and he was removed,
and Bishop Smith, of Iowa, took O'Reagan's place. While this storm was raging, God was opening the eyes of Father Chiniquy more and more to the real apostacy of the modern Papal Church from the old original Christian Church of Rome.
The hour of his deliverance was approaching, and God had chosen the field for the first fierce encounter under the liberty of the Stars and Stripes of the Republic of America. Anywhere else he would most likely be crushed to earth, but here he found freedom, and a noble-hearted advocate, when fiercely prosecuted, in the person of "honest" Abraham Lincoln, afterwards America's greatest President since the days of Washington.
To show that up to the time of his severance from Rome he bore the highest character, the following letter, from Bishop Baillargeon, of so late a date as 9th May, 1856, five years after he left Canada, amply proves.
"ARCHBISHOPRIC OF QUEBEC, 9th May, 1856.
Miss:—I send you, for Mr. Chiniquy, an ornament [chasuble], with the necessary linen from which to make a cassock; and a chalice; the whole indifferently packed, as, I suppose, you will find a place for all in your trunk. And I pray God to bless you, and conduct you happily in your journey.
Your devoted servant, C. J. , Bishop of Tloa."
"To Miss Caroline Descormers,
"Of the Convent of the Ursulines of Three Rivers."'
The Bishop sends by a nun of the Ursuline Convent of Three Rivers a present to Mr. Chiniquy, consisting of a chasuble, or the embroidered garment with a cross on the back, and a pillar in front, worn by priests; materials to make a cassock, and a chalice to perform Mass, as proofs of his highest confidence and esteem. Well would it be for the honor of the Church of Rome if she had many priests like him in the ranks of her clergy.
We now give the declaration of Bishop O'Reagan respecting Mr. Chiniquy's character, as sworn to by the four Roman Catholics whose names are appended. This written reply was given by Bishop O'Reagan on the 27th August, 1856, to the deputation who waited on him. This has been published all over Canada, in French and English, in reply to certain accusations of Vicar-General Bruyere:
"1st. I suspended Mr. Chiniquy on the 19th of this month.
"2nd. If Mr. Chiniquy has said Mass since, as you say, he is irregular; and the Pope alone can restore him in his ecclesiastic and sacerdotal functions.
"3rd. I take him away from St. Anne, despite his prayers and yours, because he has not been willing to live in peace and in friendship with the Reverends M. L. and M. L., although I admit they were two bad Priests, whom I have been forced to expel from my diocese.
"4th. My second reason for taking Mr. Chiniquy away from St. Anne, to send him in his new mission, South of Illinois, is to stop the lawsuit Mr. Spink has instituted against him; though I cannot warrant that the law suit will be stopped for that.
"5th. Mr. Chiniquy is one of the best Priests of my diocese, and I do not want to deprive myself of his services; and no accusations against the morals of that gentlemen have been proved before me.
"6th. Mr. Chiniquy has demanded an inquest, to prove his innocence of certain accusations made against him, and has asked me the names of his accusers to confound them; and I have refused it to him.
"7th Tell Mr. Chiniquy to come and meet me to prepare himself for his new mission, and I will give him the letters he needs, to go and labor there.
"Then we withdrew and presented the foregoing letter to Father Chiniquy.
"J. B. L. LEMOINE,
Nothing more can be wanted to establish the moral reputation of Mr. Chiniquy, so long as he remained in the Church of Rome.
TO HIS LORDSHIP BOURGET, BISHOP OF MONTREAL.
"Since God has, in His infinite mercy, been pleased to show us the errors of Rome, and has given us strength to abandon them to follow Christ, we deem it our duty to say a word on the abominations of the confessional. You well know that these abominations are of such a nature that it is impossible for a woman to speak of them without a blush. How is it that among civilized, Christian men, one has so far forgotten the rule of common decency, as to force women to reveal to unmarried men, under the pains of eternal damnation, their most secret thoughts, their most sinful desires, and their most private actions?
"How, unless there be a brazen mask on your priest's face, dare they go out into the world having heard the tales of misery which cannot but
defile the bearer, and which the woman cannot relate without having laid aside modesty, and all sense of shame? The harm would not be so great should the Church allow no one but the woman to accuse herself. But what shall we say of the abominable questions that are put to them and which they must answer?
"Here, the laws of common decency strictly forbid us to enter into details. Suffice it to say, were husbands cognizant of one-tenth of what is going on between the confessor and their wives, they would rather see them dead than degraded to such a degree.
"As for us, daughters and wives of Montreal, who have known by experience the filth of the confessional, we cannot sufficiently bless God for having shown us the error of our ways in teaching us that it is not at the feet of a man as weak and as sinful as ourselves, but at the feet of Christ alone, that we must seek salvation."
JULIEN HERBERT, MARIE ROGERS,
J. ROCHON. LOUISE PICARD,
FRANCOISE DIRINGER, EUGENIE MARTIN,
And forty-three others.
To chapter 1 of The Priest, the Woman and the Confessional.
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