Philemon’s Problem: The Daily Dilemma of the Christian
Burtchaell, James T.
“Religion and the gods have distressingly often stood on the side of homicide. In Benvenuto Cellini’s autobiography he tells of a time he was besieged with Pope Clement VII by Charles V’s troops. ‘Boastful of his marksmanship, Cellini let fly with a small artillery piece and blew in half a Spanish officer standing far off in the trenches: The Pope, who was expecting nothing of this kind, derived great pleasure and amazement from the sight, both because it seemed to him impossible that one should aim and hit the mark at such a distance, and also because the man was cut in two, and he could not comprehend how this should happen. He sent for me and asked about it. I explained all the devices I had used in firing; but told him that why the man was cut in halves, neither he nor I could know. Upon my bended knees I then besought him to give me the pardon of his blessing for that homicide; and for all others I had committed in the castle in the service of the Church. Thereupon the Pope, raising his hand and making a large open sign of the cross on my face, told me that he blessed me, and that he gave me pardon for all murders I had ever perpetrated, or should ever perpetrate, in the service of the Apostolic Church.”’