A Short Story of Antichrist
by Vladimir Solovyev
Part 2: The Conclusion
He paused and waited. There was a low murmur in the temple. The members of the council were whispering among themselves. Pope Peter, warmly gesticulating, was explaining something to those around him. Professor Pauli was shaking his head and fiercely smacking his lips. The Elder John, bending down to an Eastern bishop and a grey friar, was quietly admonishing them in a low voice. After waiting for a few minutes the emperor addressed the council in the same kind voice, though now there was a hardly perceptible note of irony in it: “Dear Christians,” he said, “I understand how difficult it is for you to make one straightforward answer. I want to help you in this too. Unfortunately you have been broken up into various sects and parties since time immemorial and perhaps you have no longer a common aim. But if you cannot agree between yourselves I hope to bring agreement between all your parties by showing them all equal love and equal readiness to satisfy the true desire of each. Dear Christians! I know that for many and by no means the least of you the most precious thing in Christianity is the spiritual authority which it gives to its lawful representatives—not for their own advantage, of course, but for the common good, since such authority is the basis of true spiritual order and of moral discipline which is necessary to all. Dear brother-Catholics! oh, how well I understand your view and how I should like to find support for my power in the authority of your spiritual head! That you may not regard this as mere empty talk and flattery, I solemnly declare: in accordance with my autocratic will the chief bishop of all Catholics, the Pope of Rome, is henceforth restored to his Roman see with all the rights and privileges that had ever been given it by my predecessors, beginning with the emperor Constantine the Great. And all I want of you, brother-Catholics, is an inner heartfelt recognition of me as your only defender and patron. Let those who regard me as such in their heart and conscience come to me here.” And he pointed to the empty seats on the platform.
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