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Fanaticism is Its Own Reward


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The ruins of an ancient monastery were an appropriate place for two senior churchmen to meet. Given the persecution of Catholicism in England, it was not especially unusual to meet in the dead of night.


“Cardinal, your presence here is quite the surprise,” came the greeting from one churchman to the other. Four men wearing black cassocks were present as well. Only a few candles were lit so as to not draw attention to those who might wonder as to the reasons for light in a ruins. As such, the figures and their faces were hidden by shadows, just as the moon was cloaked by the clouds this evening.


“I have come at the calling of the Church my son,” came the cryptic reply.


“The Holy Father told me nothing of your coming.”


“The Pontiff is too busy dancing to the tune of secular monarchs,” came the derisive reply.


“You are not welcome here Your Eminence. The Holy Father has entrusted to me the matter of English diplomacy.”


“And how have you performed Legate?” The hint of sarcasm mixed with the foreign accent. “England persecutes those of the Mother Church. The faithful act like cattle waiting to be slaughtered. No one lifts a hand to strike down tyranny."


"England has the worst heresy of all Legate. Luther and Calvin listened to Satan, but believed in their hearts that they were correct. The Anglican heresy stands for nothing. It was an invention of a King to justify divorcing his lawfully wedded wife. Everyone knows it, but pretends that such an abortion of theology is somehow blessed by God. How their priests can look themselves in the mirror is beyond me."


"They now harbor enemies of the Church. A secret society of those who exalt science above God has been purged in Rome. La Purga. But this society still has its members and they have come to London. They call themselves the Illuminati and are the enemies of everything the Bible teaches. They must be destroyed, not coddled. A sapling is easier to fell than an ancient tree. And so, we must respond with our own secret society," came the menacing declaration.


"The Society of Jesus is a charitable order Cardinal," the Legate stated.


"And so it is," came the reply. "But every secret society needs a secret society within it -- one that places the faithful in key positions to act in secrecy but with absolute devotion."


"You could spark a war here. Those faithful to the Church are very few in number in England. They are strong in Ireland, but not here. A war will merely give an excuse to persecute them all."


"As if that has not already begun. Catholics in Ireland were slaughtered by Cromwell, and now they will be slaughtered by the English Parliament. First it is the stripping of offices, then the King, then the faithful cannot live within London. Then they cannot hold property. Soon, they will be slaughtered."


"What do you mean to do about that Cardinal? With but a few men, such things cannot be thwarted."


"Already we have struck, and we will do so repeatedly."


"Surely you don't mean their Archbishop of Canterbury? Tell me you had nothing to do with that."


"Very well, I shall tell you what you want to hear."


"What else?"


"We need a martyr to rally the faithful. You were supposed to be that martyr, but you escaped."


"Surely you had nothing to do with ... ." A realization came upon the Prelate. "You are mad. I shall inform the Holy Father."


"You can inform the Holy Father in Heaven," the Cardinal hissed as he nodded at the men about him.


The clouds parted momentarily, allowing moonlight to reflect off the unsheathed steel blade that flashed into the back of His Holiness' Legate.


Somewhere in the distance a fox cried out in alarm. An owl hooted. And then, all was silent.

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