"Every thing secret degenerates, even the administration of justice; nothing is safe that does not show how it can bear discussion and publicity." - Lord Acton
(I'm certain the WTBS wishes they were able to do what the Catholic Church did.)
"The Roman Catholic -- Lord Acton -- Denounced 300 Year Old Murders by Popes
A true Christian must recognize and denounce a murder done by his church leader. It is virtue to admit it. It would be complicity to cover it up. It would be compounding the crime to make pathetic illegitimate excuses. Lord Acton gave us a noble example of how true Christians respond to evidence that their religious leaders are criminals, even if such crimes took place 300 years earlier. The taint and criminality does not fade with time.
In the 1860s, Lord Acton evaluated his Roman Catholic Church by the same measure that Standford Rives attempts to do with Calvin and Servetus. Mr. Rives indirectly demonstrates that a repentance is necessary from the Reformed Calvinists of today -- the spiritual ancestors of Calvin.
Lord Acton in 1859 was the editor of a Roman Catholic monthly paper. When the Pope told him to shut it down, he obeyed. He was a good and faithful Catholic. However, Lord Acton continued to write articles critical of the papacy, and concluded the Roman Catholic Church was guilty of an unrepentant murder 300 years earlier when it killed as heretics the Huguenots in 1572. Acton said the Popes and all of Catholicism owed an apology and appropriate repentance. Acton said this episode also proved the papacy was certainly not infallible. It could only persuade by the force of Scripture, not by tradition or anyone's feelings of loyalty.
To that end, Acton revived the memory of this Huguenot massacre in an article published in 1869 in the North British Review. He concluded his book-long essay by saying that there was no evidence to absolve the Roman Church of premeditated murder. 1 Acton argued that it was not only facts that condemned the papacy for this heinous crime, but the whole body of "casuistry" (phony excuses) developed by the church that made it an act of Christian duty and mercy to kill a heretic so that he might be removed from sin. 2
Acton pointed out that only when the Roman Church could no longer rely upon force but had to make its case before public opinion that it sought to explain away the Huguenot murders. Yet, in doing so, the church resorted to lies. "The same motive which had justified the murder now promoted the lie," Acton wrote. A bodyguard of lies was fabricated to protect the papacy from guilt for this monstrous sin. 3 Acton wrote:
The story is much more abominable than we all believed.... S. B. [St. Bartholomew's] is the greatest crime of modern times. It was committed on principles professed by Rome. It was approved, sanctioned, and praised by the papacy. The Holy See went out of its way to signify to the world, by permanent and solemn acts, how entirely it admired a king who slaughtered his subjects treacherously, because they were Protestants. To proclaim forever that because a man is a Protestant it is a pious deed to cut his throat in the night....
Acton said that for three centuries the Roman church's canon law had affirmed that the killing of an excommunicated person was not murder, and that allegiance need not be kept with heretical rulers. Legitimized murder and authorized treason were part of the Roman church's official teachings. As a result of such license for murder, Charles IX of France in killing the Huguenots was praised by the Catholic church as a good Catholic. Soon after the mass slaughter of innocents in their beds, Charles was highly praised by the pope for having killed so many of these Huguenots.
Acton contended that these acts of murder by the Roman church's leaders had discredited them as a source of reliable teachers."