'An unchristian religion in the first place!' Myshkin began, in extreme agitation and with excessive abruptness. 'And in the second place Roman Catholicism is even worse that atheism itself, in my opinion! Yes, that's my opinion! Atheism only preaches a negation, but Catholicism goes further: it preaches a distorted Christ, a Christ culminated and defamed by themselves, the opposite of Christ! It preaches the Antichrist, I declare it does, I assure you it does! This is the conviction I have long held, and it has distressed me, myself… Roman Catholicism cannot hold its position without universal political supremacy, and cries: 'Non possumus!'* To my thinking Roman Catholicism is not even a religion, but simply the continuation of the Western Roman Empire, and everything in it is subordinated to that idea, faith to begin with. The Pope seized the earth, an earthly throne, and grasped the sword; everything has gone on in the same way since, only they have added to the sword lying, fraud, deceit, fanaticism, superstition, villainy. They have trifled with the most holy, truthful, sincere, fervent feelings of the people; they have bartered it all, all for money, for base earthly power. And isn't that the teaching of Antichrist? How could Atheism fail to come from them? Atheism has sprung from Roman Catholicism itself. It originated with them themselves. Can they have believed themselves? It has been strengthened by revulsion from them; it is begotten by their lying and their spiritual impotence. Atheism! Among us it is only the exceptional classes who don't believe, those who, as Yevgeny Pavlovich splendidly expressed it the other day, have lost their roots. But over there, in Europe, a terrible mass of the people themselves are beginning to lose their faith - at first from darkness and lying, and now from fanaticism and hatred of the church and Christianity.'
‘You are exaggerating very much,’ Ivan Petrovich drawled with an air of being bored, and even rather ashamed of something. ‘There are representatives of that Church who are virtuous and worthy of all respect…’
‘I have said nothing about individual representatives of the Church. I was speaking of the Roman Catholicism in its essence. I am speaking of Rome. Can a Church disappear altogether? I never said that!’
‘I agree. But all that’s well known and - irrelevant, indeed, and… it’s a theological question…’
‘Oh, no, no! It’s not only a theological question, I assure you it’s not! It concerns us much more closely than than you think. That’s our whole mistake, that we can’t see that this is not exclusively a theological question! Why, socialism too springs from Catholicism and the Catholic idea! Like its brother atheism, it comes from despair in opposition to Catholicism on the moral side, to replace the most moral power of religion, to quench the spiritual thirst of parched humanity, and to save them not by Christ, but also by violence. That, too, is freedom through violence, that, too, is union through sword and blood. ‘Don’t dare to believe in God, don’t dare to have property and individuality, fraternite ou la mort,** two millions of heads!’ By their deeds ye shall know them - it is said. And don’t imagine that all this is so harmless and without danger for us. Oh, we need to make resistance at once, at once! Our Christ whom we have kept and they have never known must shine forth and vanquish the West. Not letting ourselves be slavishly caught by the wiles of the Jesuits, but carrying our Russian civilization to them, we ought to stand before them and not let it be said among us, as it was just now, that their preaching is skillful.’
Fyodor Dostoevsky - The Idiot: Part four, Chapter seven
* We Cannot! (Latin)
** Brotherhood or death (French)
Tell your heart that the fear of suffering is worse than the suffering itself. And that no heart has ever suffered when it goes in search of its dreams, because every second of the search is a second’s encounter with God and with eternity.
The thought of these vast stacks of books would drive him mad: the more he read, the less he seemed to know — the greater the number of the books he read, the greater the immense uncountable number of those which he could never read would seem to be…. The thought that other books were waiting for him tore at his heart forever.