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28 September 1846 — Fr Jean-Baptiste Petit-Jean to Fr Jean Forest, Kororareka, NZ

Translated by Peter McConnell, September 2010 Paragraphs [2]-[9] in English in the original.

Kororareka, 28 September 1846

Reverend Father,
Your reply to Mr Buddle pleased the bishop here and all of us. The great interest which His Lordship has in you gave him the idea of sending you supplementary ammunition, akin to a small arsenal where you can take arms which you will need in this type of fight. So after receiving instructions from the bishop, I offer the following which I have printed straight off without much reflection and rather to inform you of sources which you may have missed. But the fight has undoubtedly taken place and I see you are already crowned with laurels, although these laurels should not give much pride because I a word you triumph over assaults and humbug worthy only of churls (I am talking about the churls of your chapel and not even the masons), being forced to stand up and defend our holy religion in the presence of weaklings and seductive serpents. I will put my thoughts in English.
Sir, allow me to correct publicly the misrepresentations made in your paper of the 19th last, for the second time by the reverend Mister Buddle on a church which he so rudely designates by the nickname of Romish. This gentleman, though recanting and seemingly satisfied to assert that the Catholic Church does not permit the reading of the scripture indiscriminately and without comment to every one, stands yet on the ground of misrepresentation from which, please God, I will drive him away, by the means of the simplest logick, and putting apart the ornament of style to which I confess I must have no pretension.
The fourth rule of the Index quoted by the reverend gentleman in such a separate and bare manner, would insinuate that the zeal of the Council and its 280 bishops was principally directed towards the prohibition of the Scripture or at least that the congregation appointed for examining books should before all prepare censures against bibles, whilst in truth the same congregation had to extend its disquisition upon a great variety and multitude of works of every description penned and published by reformers. The fact is that the Council of Trent establishes in as many towns as possible the public reading of Scripture, he makes it a special command, assigning revenues for those institutions; thus according to its will there shall be academies where not only young pupils for clergy, but also other poor scholars shall be taught grammar and hence pass to learning of Scripture; and, for fear of impiety being disseminated under pretence of piety, the Council requires that masters in the divine art should be recommended by their bishops with an approbation of their life, morals and science. What the Council forbids is to distort the words of the Scripture, against the meaning constantly attached to them by the Church, and to interpret them contrary to the unanimous consent of the Fathers. So far I see no positive prohibition to read [the] bible, but only wise exceptions and prudent warnings. However, an adversary will have the cunning to divest or dress things so well as to present an exception as a law, and pass the law itself under silence. This I call in a plain language a misrepresentation.
To appreciate with exactness the restriction put by the IVth rule of the index in the Bull of Pius IV, we must bear in minds the times in which that bull was published and after a mature reflection we will conclude that such a temporary restriction was a masterpiece of discipline, regulation. It was a time when there was a feverish agitation about reform, even in the most ignorant and extravagant people, when nothing either profane or sacred was respected and a torrent of license was overflowing. Witness Luther declaring that he cared not a rush if a thousand Augustines or a thousand Cyprians stood against him, Augustine and Cyprian, names of the pure Church, so dear to the rev mr Buddle! Luther again having conferences with the devil and listening to him, Luther dispensing a prince of Germany and granting him the faculty of having two wives at once; witness Calvin burning Cervet in Geneva etc. and all that done on the ground of scripture, with sentences interlarded with Bible’s words. Nay, it was a time when several pretended to have not only the true meaning of the Bible but even immediate revelation, as Nicholas Stork, that chief of the Anabaptists, who pretended familiarity with God by an angel, promising him a kingdom if he would reform the church and destroy the princes that should hinder him. I put a veil over the immoral life of those impure reformers who yet supported all their excesses with texts of the Bible. I ask now, was it not a saving measure both for religion and society to put a stop to that kind of pious ebullition, by not granting indiscriminately to everyone the liberty of reading [the] bible in vulgar tongues?
I have been obliged to abridge what I have to say, and yet I must be more concise for sparing your columns and your benevolent readers. I will not indeed repeat the same observations concerning what is emphatically quoted from Pius VII, as from a bull but bull it is not. Pius VII thought and did the same as his glorious predecessor Pius VI. The letter praised Martini for a translation of the holy writs in Italian, recommended it as [a] means of eradicating the errors of a corrupted epoch; the former, afterward in a rescript dated April 18, 1820, exhorted the apostolic vicars of England to encourage their flocks to read books of pious instruction and particularly the holy scriptures. The Catholic Bishops of Great Britain [in] 1826 declare that there was never a general law prohibiting the reading the authorised translations of the Scripture, but considering that many by their ignorance and their evil disposition have perverted the meaning of the sacred text to their own destruction, the Catholic Church has thought it prudent to make a regulation that the faithful should be guided in this matter by the advice of their respective pastors.
The pope Leo XII, as well as Gregory, were warning solemnly all Christendom not only against perverted versions of the Scripture but against immoral, impious books of infidel[s] who reject all revelation. Sir, the reverend Mister Buddle should applause the popes for hurling so powerfully an infidel philosophy from its strongholds, but it does nothing of that kind, and stands only as their accuser. I would ask Mister Buddle through you, Sir, I would ask him, whether it is a great evil to be obliged to read Scripture in authenticated versions. Had the words of that gentleman been authenticated with the writs of those who rule over him, or with the true copy of the letter of Leo XII, we would not hear to say that the Word of God is the gospel of the Devil. It is Mister Buddle who makes him to speak in so degraded a manner; whilst the venerable pontiff in his genuine production says that certain translations, instead of being the gospel of Christ by a perverted interpretation becomes the gospel of a man or rather that of the Devil. What would the reverend mister B say of Saint Peter who (2 epistle, chapter 3, verse 16) warns, makes Christians aware of the danger of reading the epistles of Saint Paul and other parts of the Scripture?
Again this gentleman very likely finds wrong to deliver bible with comments; as for me, I believe that even to the eighth commandement, thou shalt not bear false witness against thy neighbour, certain men should join this annotation: It is not lawful to bear false witness even against the pope, for he is also our neighbour. Everyone must be struck with the evidence of the preceding quotation bearing false witness against the pope Leo XII. But alas! how often it has been recited in certain meetings and there applauded under that form of words by some credulous persons. I do not mean any injury to anybody. Every religious congregation I respect; here only I stand confuting the reverend Mister Buddle.
I would have a very different tale to say about Dr Calley. Mr Buddle about Dr Calley is just as true as a certain evangelical meeting at Glascow who knowing and even hearing to be stated that the same doctor was not in prison but had been allowed to go free on bail or at least was in the most moderate confinement, after what had fallen from the lips of Lord Aberdeen, still were speaking and framing resolutions for the purpose of memorialising the British government for the release of Dr Calley now in emprisonnement. That meeting was largely attended both by laity and clergy. It was opened with prayer, by the rev mr Forbes. Enough for Dr Calley, nothing for Joaquina. Besides of them, and of the pretended acts against them, the whole Catholic Church is not responsible.
The rev mr B seems to quit the field with a light pace, singing victory and running to the new triumphs about transubstantiation, auricular confession etc. ... etc. ... Let him be cautious, for Augustine and the others will fall upon him with all the weight of their authority which now he cannot decline.
Dear Father, please send me that piece of writing or scrap of writing. It would not be a bad idea sending to the Sydney Chronicle (paying the postage for sending it by sea) a copy of the New Zealander dated 19 September. There are sources to consult among the various series of newspapers already arranged by me at your place. You will finding the edition dated 1 May 1844, and also articles concerning Doctor Calley dated 3-28 February 1844 with a supplement all on the matter you are dealing with. Look at the brochure entitled A Papist Misrepresented page 42. In my series of newspapers you will find also several editions on the inquisition.
J Bap Petit-Jean
(May she be glorified, she who at all times has crushed heresies!)