I posted (and tweeted) a section of the following 1910 article before:
More that 100 years after being published, this section could be kept mostly intact.
We could probably include an explicit reference to the support of the media, although it could be argued that the media - the "fourth power" - is already included under "secular rulers" and/or "contemporary mentality".
After, re-reading it, though, I now conclude there is a missing ingredient:
- In order for heresy to spread, the shepherds and faithful must not oppose it. Otherwise, the flames of heresy would be trampled underfoot by 'peasant' catholics with virtual pitchforks.
"partly by fear, partly by deception, partly by cowardice; partly because they cannot stand for unpopular truth in the face of popular falsehood; partly because the overruling contemptuous public opinion so subdues and frightens Catholics, that they dare not avow their principles, and, at last, dare not hold them."Most of these reasons can be subsumed under "mitigating factors and circumstances" which diminish "the subjective responsibility [of] the moral agent"...
Nowadays, I'd say that there are two other factors:
- The first one is the cult of authority.
- Then there's the widespread apostasy. Many people actually believe (and live) whatever heresy is popular at a certain time. Others simply do not believe the claims of religion but use it instead as a consumer product.