In the Temple of Reason


“For as long as I live,” said Cardinal Fleury to Bernis, “you will not be a priest.” The future Cardinal Bernis agreed, “OK,” he said, “I’ll wait.” Perhaps he was right and faith is not a necessary condition for priesthood: some atheists make very good priests; furthermore, Cardinal Bernis was not an atheist, a free mason is never an atheist, masonry by definition implies some form of Deism. Casanova, of course, claimed that as well as all sorts of other excesses for his friend, Bernis. Presumably the latter, no matter how busy he was, could always find time to amuse himself with a mistress; and then he also liked to watch Casanova do the same with the same girl; and so, even though the Cardinal wouldn’t make a devoted Christian, he did make a devoted friend. “I do like the Heaven’s climate,” used to say our eclesiastic, “yet I’d still go to Hell for the company.”

The Cardinal Bernis’ portrait is painted by Jean Baptiste Greuze and you know what that means.

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