Lord John Acton, castigating an Anglican Bishop.


“You say that people in authority are not to be snubbed or sneered at from our pinnacle of conscious rectitude. I really don’t know if you exempt them because of their rank,or their success and power,or of their date….I cannot accept your cannon that we are to judge Pope or King,unlike other men,with a favoured presumption that they do no wrong. If there is any presumption,it is the other way,against holders of power,increasing as the power increases. Historic responsibility has to make up for the want of legal responsibility. Power tends to corrupt and absolute power corrupts absolutely. Great men are almost always bad men,even when they excercise influence and not authority. There is no worse heresy than that the office sanctifies the holder of it. That is the point at which the negation of Catholicism and the negation of Liberalism meet and keep high festival,and the end learns to…

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