1636 The Vatican Sanctions – Snippet 26

1636 The Vatican Sanctions – Snippet 26

“Necessity compelled us to cap the non-Catholic representatives to the colloquium at seventy. We arrived at that number by assessing how many sects needed representation, where their most respected theologians or authorities were located, how long it would take to contact them all, get a reply, and then fetch the farther ones here using airships.

“I must also point out that, excluding a few exceptional cases, our invitations were not to individuals but to the different communities of faith. Obviously, had His Holiness or any other Church representative selected specific members from faiths which do not have their own clear hierarchies, our process would have been open to — and would have deserved — accusations of picking the attendees we felt would be serviceable to our agenda.”

Caetani of Rome looked up. “We have an agenda? Have I missed something?”

There were a few laughs; Mazzare smiled. “You have missed nothing, Your Eminence. In this case” — and it may be a first in Church history, up-time or down-time — “the agenda is no more and no less than has been declared openly: the building of an ecumenical bridge, hopefully in the direction of a more peaceful future.”

Dietrichstein tapped the head of his cane testily. “I am surprised that any of the Reformationists are attending at all.”

Caetani looked at him, frowning. “Why? Because they are so suspicious?”

“No. Because they are so quarrelsome. They had to decide whom to send? I am surprised they have been able to conclude those deliberations within the decade, let alone within the year.”

Mazzare was grateful for the low, but pervasive, rumble of laughter in the salon. Because the joke had come from Dietrichstein, it had extra power to clear the lingering miasma of bitter intolerance. Now, before the miasma came back — “His Holiness had a similar reservation, but evidently, the Lord chose to work in mysterious ways on this occasion. That, and there may have been an extra level of urgency added by our stipulation that, if a group was unable to agree upon representatives, there could be no promise of admission to the later, determinative meetings. Still,” Mazzare finished with a sigh, “I can tell you in all candor that, taken as a whole, getting everyone here was a most difficult undertaking.”

“For which we thank you, Cardinal Mazzare,” said von Harrach of Hungary with just enough formality to impart official appreciation, yet not enough to seem aloof.

Larry smiled. “I wish I could take the credit, Your Eminence, but most of the planning and all of the resources were provided by the USE in general, and the State of Thuringia-Franconia in particular.”

That comment brought Péter Pázmány to his feet. Another elder statesman of the Counter-Reformation — a silver-tongued Cicero compared to Dietrichstein’s bulldog — the other Hungarian took his time, arranged his cassock, folded his hands and looked around the room, before fixing his eyes on Larry Mazzare. “Cardinal Mazzare, why is it that you are unwilling to speak to us? Do you feel unwelcome?”

Mazzare shook his head. “No, Cardinal Pázmány. I feel that this council has welcomed me warmly and freely. But I fear that hindsight might make it wish it had not. Unless, that is, I restrain my participation.”

Pázmány frowned. “Would you mind explaining that, Your Eminence?”

Larry nodded. “I have watched — carefully — how the people of this world have treated us up-timers. I will not say we are well, or even widely loved. Our ways are different, and we portend change that many people find profoundly, and understandably, unwelcome. Yet you have made me welcome in your world.” He looked around the room. “I have never presumed that this is easily achieved, particularly given the troublesome perspectives and documents I brought with me from the twentieth century. Amongst which were the collective papal constitutions and declarations known as Vatican II, which, ultimately, gave rise to this colloquium.”

Larry spread his hands. “Even in my century, Vatican II did not merely send ripples but quakes through the bedrock of the Church. It incited resistance, rejection, and talk of rebellion, of schisms within our community. All this, even though we had been making steady progress in that direction for over three hundred and fifty years. How, then, could such a document and its concepts fail to be still more titanically dislocating, and even terrifying, in this time?” A few murmurs of assent rose into the silence as Larry took a deep breath.

“It might seem to you that I am the natural voice to defend the value of Vatican II, or at least its revelations into the deeper mind and intents of God, but I would argue that I am the last person that should do so.” He saw the puzzled looks around the room. He smiled. “If I were to speak on behalf of the products of my century, you would all acknowledge my authority…but you would also rightly think, ‘but he has the least understanding of how this will impact our world, how it seems to our minds, in this very different time and place.’ And so, I recuse myself from any participation other than to answer your questions, as best I may, about the documents that have shaped His Holiness’ ruminations upon this meeting and the encyclical he has been crafting. Which in no way, I must point out, resemble Vatican II in any of their specifics. As His Holiness has already said, the up-time documents have served merely as an inspiration for the ecumenical discussions we shall have, not as a roadmap.”

He swept all the faces with a steady gaze. “You have allowed me to exist and now serve among you, a visitor to your world. But this is your world. And I would do your welcome and trust a dishonor if I now tried to transfer the beliefs and reactions of my time into yours. It would not merely be a rude usurpation; it would be folly.”

Pázmány’s posture had changed from one of readiness to debate, to one of careful regard. “That is most empathetically considered, Cardinal Mazzare. You have certainly foreseen how your role in this could become problematic and have, I deem, taken all the steps you may to prevent that. But I wonder if your role is the only one which merits that measure of caution and scrutiny. I speak, of course, of the power that, by your own admission, has enabled almost every aspect of this gathering: the USE.”

Mazzare had a notion of where Pázmány was going but wasn’t going to lead him there on the off chance he had a different discursive destination in mind. “I’m not sure what you are referring to, Your Eminence.”

Pázmány picked up a thick sheaf of papers. “I have read all the proceedings from Molino last year. And in it, Father Wadding made an excellent point: that we should not take steps that make us beholden to a power outside the Church, particularly one that arguably remains hostile. Interestingly, His Holiness agreed. Purportedly, that was why he has not dwelt in the USE, and has not convened either the council or the colloquium there. He wisely foresaw that the Vicar of Christ must not shelter in, as you put it last year, someone else’s house. And if he speaks from such a place, particularly ex cathedra, he is weakening his words before they are uttered.”

Larry nodded. “Which is why we have chosen Besançon, Your Eminence. There is an absolute insistence upon religious freedom and toleration, stemming from the relationship between the very highest persons in the land.”

“Yes,” Pázmány allowed, “akin to the religious toleration that enabled Gustav to proffer the offer of membership in the United States of Europe to Claudia de Medici, in her role as regent for her young sons. An offer which she readily accepted, and which therefore ultimately brings us back to the same concern: that even though these proceedings are not housed in the USE, their validity becomes questionable simply because they have been financed and effectuated by a Lutheran emperor and are being held in a land where the sovereign is not a son of the Church, and his spouse has vassal-like ties to that same Lutheran Emperor. Indeed, I would argue that the up-time councils invoked during your debate in Molino, Cardinal Mazzare, show that even those almost unthinkably liberal Church fathers of your time still understood and obeyed the basic principle of speaking from a position — a physical position — of strength.

“Specifically, I refer to the convocation of Vatican II. Why does it have that name? Because of its location. It was in the Holy See. Within a Catholic country. Protected by allies that were overwhelmingly Catholic and had proven themselves the Vatican’s friends — and never its enemies.” Pázmány shook his head. “Even in that up-time world, where the Church was in no immediate danger of extinction, those popes nonetheless understood that where one makes one’s decisions sends a message as well. In short, if you are promulgating doctrine, you do it from the very seat of your power.

“It is impossible to overstate how much more pertinent that strategy is here, in a world so riddled by self-proclaimed arch-foes of the Church. The location of this council sends a clear signal that Mother Church is homeless. The fact that it has to rely upon the money and resources of a Lutheran sovereign further proves that it is reduced to beggary.

Pázmány crossed his arms. “And so one must wonder if, in this position of singular vulnerability, we can afford not to ask how, in fact, the Church’s reliance upon Good Samaritans for support and shelter influences how it makes decisions, and therefore, what decisions are actually made. To carry forward one of the analogies invoked at Molino, how much freedom does one have when speaking beneath a host’s roof? For instance, can a guest, but particularly a weak one, afford to assert that his host does not possess his own house, but rather, that it rightly belongs to you? Because that is the case here: the keys to the kingdom of heaven were entrusted to the Prelate of Rome and to him alone.

“Can you call your host to account for the injustices and atrocities he has heaped upon your family, or in this case Catholics, from one end of Europe to the other? And more to the point, even if you could ask these questions beneath your host’s roof, should you be there to do so?”

His tone became more intimate, as if he were talking to a friend over mulled wine on a winter evening. “In our own home, we set our own schedule, are secure in our own walls and with our own provisioning. There, we are strong: strong enough to decide and do whatever we must. Outside such a place, not all of us may frankly and boldly speak and act as God’s grace would guide us. And if we cannot be sure of that, then by what right do we lead his flock, that for fear of offending a host, we refrain from speaking truth as bluntly as we might? Or that we resign ourselves to a comfortable middle course when our conscience tells us we must follow a harder, holy path? Why should the Church continue to exist, if we have been lulled by good manners into playing the part of Judas, of buying our shelter here not with thirty pieces of silver, but by betraying the Truth and the Word that is Christ our Savior?

“So, in summary, I ask you, is it right — or safe — to accept the hospitality of a host knowing that your honesty will offend him?” Pázmány drew up to his full height. “I say no. Do not go to his house. And so, preserve both your honor and his.” He turned his head slowly toward Larry.

And he waited.


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12 Responses to 1636 The Vatican Sanctions – Snippet 26

  1. Lyttenburgh says:

    “He swept all the faces with a steady gaze. “You have allowed me to exist and now serve among you, a visitor to your world. But this is your world. And I would do your welcome and trust a dishonor if I now tried to transfer the beliefs and reactions of my time into yours. It would not merely be a rude usurpation; it would be folly.””

    This and the previous paragraph were actually very balanced and even… humble. It was something the series have been lacking for a long time – a truly humble, understanding up-timer, who is not playing into a “colonial romance” with “primitive natives”.

    • donny says:

      Lyttenburgh does not realize that the statement he quotes is precisely opposite to Larry’s real opinion, that 17th century clerics are a pack of bloodthirsty savages who ought to be at least. restrained.

      • Lyttenburgh says:

        “that 17th century clerics are a pack of bloodthirsty savages”

        Hmm… Interesting. Can you prove that?

        “who ought to be at least. restrained”

        See above. Also – why?

        • Terranovan says:

          Lyttenburgh, I would quote Father Mazzare’s eulogy for Irene Flannery at the end of “Between the Armies” by Andrew Dennis in Ring of Fire, but it’s quite lengthy. Suffice it to say, Father Mazzare starts by saying that in the 17th century, religion had “become little more than gang colors.”
          Donny, to be fair to Father Mazzare, he’s not saying that clerics need to be restrained, but that they should have been doing the restraining – leading all of us to become better people is the basic task of a shepherd of souls.
          More to the point, he’s also accusing himself of falling down on the job in that regard – he’d let Father Heinzerling claim new immigrants to Grantville who happened to be Catholic as new converts, and conveniently avoided mentioning his friendly hobby spending time with Rev. Simon Jones to the Inquisition. Those didn’t seem to be isolated acts, by the way. And it’s a pattern he ends there – he sends a copy of the 20th century Catholic Catechism and several other documents to the Vatican.

    • Terranovan says:

      The sin that you’re so happy to see Father Mazzare avoiding – the sin of pride and arrogance – of saying “I know better than you, and therefore you’re stupid” – of looking down one’s nose so far –
      Much as I hate to say this, Lyttenburgh, that’s exactly what you’ve been inflicting on the authors and the rest of us commenting in this forum. You’ve been doing it with every comment except this one on The Alexander Inheritance, 1637: The Volga Rules, and 1636: The Vatican Sanctions.
      Well, I can’t speak for the authors or any of the other commenters. But that’s what I’ve been feeling. And you’ve been doing it for history instead of religious doctrine.
      I’m sorry to use the best thing you’ve said against you. I hope that we can both learn from Father Mazzare’s example.
      If anyone else reads this and agrees or disagrees substantially with my comparison, please say so.

      • Lyttenburgh says:

        To combine responses to two comments by the same posters in one:

        “Father Mazzare starts by saying that in the 17th century, religion had “become little more than gang colors.””

        An opinion of (obviously shocked) up-timer. Still – just an opinion. One even can look at that at a different angle and use different wording in order to get – guess what? – a different result. The word “became” here is wrong – it has always been like that since long time ago, religion being the basis for the identity and “friend-or-foe” designation.

        “I’m sorry to use the best thing you’ve said against you. I hope that we can both learn from Father Mazzare’s example.”

        Do you really think that I consider myself “better” than anyone? I don’t. I do not consider myself “better”. I know my weaknesses, flaws and limitations, and I know all too often that I’m not doing enough (if anything at all) in order to address them. I will be the first person to admit that, yes – I’m not a nice person.

        I do not hold anyone around me for an idiot. No. One. I think, if you can read, write/type and use your comp to get onto this page – well, you are not a “complete” idiot. Because you can’t have a meaningful conversation with a complete idiot. You can’t really hope to educate a complete idiot. A complete idiot is hopeless.

        That’s why I comment the way I comment. I’m sharing with everyone. I can’t force you to do anything. No, really – I can’t. It’s all up to you. I’m not changing the world around you when I say – “That’s wrong because of A, B and C. In reality it was D, E, F – look at the sources Z, Y, X yourself”.

        Again – I’m not saying that anyone here is idiot or really, really stupid. Not possessing the information on a subject does not make you stupid. Stubbornly refusing to learn – that what makes you one. Like, refusing to learn, that a certain “power-duo” of authors writing for the RoF (you know who) are either super lazy, or incapable or don’t caring anymore about writing proper alt-hist fiction.

  2. Bret Hooper says:

    Nicest comment I have ever seen from Lyttenburgh. Thank you, Lytt.

    But I don’t know quite how to interpret the following:

    . “It was something the series have been lacking for a long time – a truly humble, understanding up-timer, who is not playing into a “colonial romance” with “primitive natives”.

    It seems to me that Larry Mazzare has shown pretty much the same character and personality wherever he has appeared, and particularly in 1634: The Galileo Affair, in which he is the second most mentioned character with over 600 mentions.
    And what about the most-mentioned character in 34GA, Frank Stone (742 mentions) and his father Tom and his brothers Ron and Gerry? Jeff Higgins? Julie Sims Mackay?
    Ed Piazza? Those up-timers who had servants were generally known for treating their servants as human beings.
    OF COURSE there were also bigoted up-timers who were anything but humble, who considered down-timers inferior and treated them accordingly, e.g.: “No dogs or Krauts allowed” in Club 250.

    Perhaps, Lytt, you can demonstrate that I am wrong about some of the persons I have named, and if you do, I will acknowledge my error(s) and apologize therefor. But unless and until you show me otherwise, I will continue to believe that many of the up-timers in the Ring of Fire hypernovel are reasonably humble and do not look down on down-timers in general, albeit the may disapprove of SOME down-timers, such as Heinrich Holk.

    In any case, thank you again for your above comment. I was and am glad to see it.

    • Lyttenburgh says:

      “and particularly in 1634: The Galileo Affair”

      Remind me, what he did in that book except as serving as walking exposition? Maybe it all depends on (co-)author, but he, as a character, only began in the previous book of the series. Short stories were… well… “short”.

      “And what about the most-mentioned character in 34GA, Frank Stone (742 mentions) and his father Tom and his brothers Ron and Gerry? Jeff Higgins? Julie Sims Mackay?”

      A) Frank just loves his wife, dad, brothers , step-mom and… just about anyone. He is a pacifist and… that’s it. He is slightly more developed that your typical two-dimensional cardboard character, but he is still not too “human-like”

      B) Tom Stone is fun to read, yeah. That’s it. He’s a hippy (as seen by the authors) stuck in a different century. That’s about all. He doesn’t really “dig” the whole situation around him. Sure, he has his immediate concerns (i.e. family) but that’s it. He does not accept the world around him. Not really.

      C) Other Stone brothers need much work. Especially Gerry. As for Ron… no, he lack personality as well. He is totally interchangeable with that Bartley “Marty Sue” all things considered.

      D) Jeff… Jeff is (one of) the author’s avatar. That’s it. It’s hard to say whether he truly appreciates the people around him, understands, how and why they do what they do. Ultimately, Jeff is not independent character.

      E) Julie… What about her? No, really – what about her? As a character, she does not exist outside of her family. I mean – really, think about it.

      None of those characters you have mentioned (and you mentioned really some really “first-tier” characters, which had been in the spotlight for a significant time, and, therefore, got all the attention from the authors) is truly “digging” that they are in the 17th c. None of them truly, cognizant, in their relations to the down-timers. Can you really say about anyone of them that, yes, they accept the 17th c., the people around them, and are even willing to treat those people as equals, as in adapting to their standards, instead of adapting them to theirs?

      “Those up-timers who had servants were generally known for treating their servants as human beings.”

      So? You can probably deduce which comparison I can make here, since you mentioned “they even treated them as human begins!”, but I won’t. That’s too low hanging fruit for me.

      “OF COURSE there were also bigoted up-timers who were anything but humble, who considered down-timers inferior and treated them accordingly”

      Grantville Gazette did the impossible and exonerated/rehabilitated even them. Yay?

      “I will continue to believe that many of the up-timers in the Ring of Fire hypernovel are reasonably humble and do not look down on down-timers in general, albeit the may disapprove of SOME down-timers, such as Heinrich Holk.”

      Let’s start with basics, shall we? What is “humble”? Such simple question, so it won’t require lots of time answering.

      What I see here is the discrepancy between the vast majority of the authors publishing their stories in GG, and what is “sanctified” afterwards as the canon in various books and “RoF” collections of the short stories. The difference in approaches is so obvious, that I can’t help but wonder – did those people even read the original novel? And by those people I understand, of course, some of the authors, who, by means arcane or profane, somehow get their works recognized as the official cannon to the detriment of us all. I think you can guess which “power duo” I mean here.

      If you haven’t notice – the characters (and, I hope, Mr. Flint himself) undergo a process of change, evolution, if you like, through the novels. Remember Mike Stearns with his “We start the American Revolution — a hundred and fifty years ahead of schedule!” in the first novel? Badass speech, which makes you scream “Go, Mike!” and switch off your brain (absolutely normal, intended reaction, upon reading a quality fiction). Flash forward several years in future (both ours and in RoF universe) and the promised “Revolution” is already tastes like… Thermidore. Well, something close. Every more or less competent monarch in Europe is reading not Thomas Paine, but Alessandro Scaglia, who, actually, argue not just for “constitutional monarch” as some ideal, but for the absolutism first and eradication of the feudal remnants. *This* is the future, the one more or less functional one at least.

      Does the up-timers understand that? By and large – no. They still think that the whole world is giddily awaiting them, as if ALL of them were Hollywood stars, that the whole world will adapt to them and accommodate them… In reality, they, their children at leas, would have to accommodate to the real, different world, which, yes, will bear marks of the RoF, but remain heart and soul the same 17th c. Unfortunately, the multitude of the authors working for the collective RoF-verse are either incapable or averse of admitting that. It’s is always the entire world that had to revolve around the up-timers and their fleeting, unsustainable mores.

      • Bret Hooper says:

        I think Lytt and I each need to know who the other considers to be “first-tier” characters. (and you mentioned really some really “first-tier” characters, . . . [emphasis added]
        I mentioned only one of the five characters I consider first-tier, namely Jeff Higgins. The other four are Gretchen Richter Higgins, Mike Stearns, Rebecca Abrabanel Sterns (Becky),, and King Gustav II Adolph (G2A),.
        Please, Lytt, post your list, and let’s call your list List L and my list List B. I suspect that my list will turn out to be a subset of yours, but if not, ok. Let’s not argue about it

        • Bret Hooper says:

          I don’t ask you to accept my list as definititive; you have as much right to decide who you consider first-tier as I do to decide who I so consider. But a discussion in which we are talking about two different lists and neither knows what the other is talking about would be an exercise in futility.

        • Lyttenburgh says:

          Is it really necessary? To qualify for the First-Tire character he or she must be active in the most of the “Central-European Plot” ™ novels. So we have: A) Mike&Becky. B) Jeff&Gretchen. C) Julie&Alex (thought they are slipping into the second tier). D) G-A II & princess Khristina (though she supplants him lately and relegates to the second tier).

          Second tier encompasses the characters who are the stars of their own spin-off series (e.g. – Dave Bartley, “Barbies”, Doc “Phil”, Mazarini, Cromwell, Bernie and Natasha, etc.) or the characters from the main plot line, who for some reasons were relegate to the “support cast” or downgraded to the “spin-offs” (Julie&Alex were them in the “Parcel of Rogues”, Father Mazarre is one here, Larry Lefferts is in various novels as well as all Stone boys and parents).

          And that’s it. Characters either slipped into the second tier and stayed here, or are too new to climb into the first. Eric Flint likes to introduce lots and lots of new characters with each new novel only to completely forget about them (“put on a bus”) because we have yet another batch of the brand new characters. Usually it bodes nothing good for them. Even if their bust is “called back” it’s only for them to die for the sheer drama effect. Because killing some no-names doesn’t have the same kick in it.

      • Bjorn Hasseler says:

        The Grantville Gazette stories are, in fact, canon.

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