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Upton Sinclair, ed. (1878–1968).
The Cry for Justice: An Anthology of the Literature of Social Protest.  1915.
 
The Saint

By Antonio Fogazzaro

(Italian poet and novelist, 1842–1911. A devout Catholic, he endeavored to reform the Church from within. The present novel created a tremendous sensation in Italy, and was placed upon the “Index.” In this scene “the Saint” pleads with the Pope)
 
“MAY I continue, Your Holiness?”  1
  The Pope, who while Benedetto had been speaking had kept his eyes fixed on his face, now bowed his head slightly, in answer.  2
  “The third evil spirit which is corrupting the Church does not disguise itself as an angel of light, for it well knows it cannot deceive; it is satisfied with the garb of common, human honesty. This is the spirit of avarice. The Vicar of Christ dwells in this royal palace as he dwelt in his episcopal palace, with the pure heart of poverty. Many venerable pastors dwell in the Church with the same heart, but the spirit of poverty is not preached sufficiently, not preached as Christ preached it. The lips of Christ’s ministers are too often over-complaisant to those who seek riches. There are those among them who bow the head respectfully before the man who has much, simply because he has much; there are those who let their tongues flatter the greedy, and too many preachers of the word and of the example of Christ deem it just for them to revel in the pomp and honors attending on riches, to cleave with their souls to the luxury riches bring. Father, exhort the clergy to show those greedy for gain, be they rich or poor, more of that charity which admonishes, which threatens, which rebukes. Holy Father!——”  3
  Benedetto ceased speaking. There was an expression of fervent appeal in the gaze fixed upon the Pope.  4
  “Well?” the Pontiff murmured.  5
  Benedetto spread wide his arms, and continued:  6
  “The Spirit urges me to say more. It is not the work of a day, but let us prepare for the day—not leaving this task to the enemies of God and of the Church—let us prepare for the day on which the priests of Christ shall set the example of true poverty; when it shall be their duty to live in poverty, as it is their duty to live in chastity; and let the words of Christ to the Seventy-two serve them as a guide in this. Then the Lord will surround the least of them with such honors, with such reverence as does not to-day exist in the hearts of the people for the princes of the Church. They will be few in number, but they will be the light of the world. Holy Father, are they that to-day? Some among them are, but the majority shed neither light nor darkness.”  7
  At this point the Pointiff for the first time bowed his head in sorrowful acquiescence.  8
 
 
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