« AnteriorContinuar »
though under very altered conditions; for a continuance of its present state, he adds, is not desired by any intelligent friend of the Papal See.' Perhaps we had better let him give, in his own words, what he considers to have been the substance of his lectures. The italics are our own.
* Let no one lose faith in the Church if the temporal principality of the Papacy should disappear, whether it be for a season, or for ever. It is not essence, but accident; not end, but means ; it began late; it was formerly something quite different from what it is now. It now justly appears to us to be indispensable, and so long as the existing order lasts in Europe it must, at all cost, be maintained; or, if it is violently interrupted, it must be restored. But it is possible to suppose a political condition of Europe in which it would be superfluous, and then it would be only a clogging burden.' (P. 5.)
But the only reasons he has urged for considering the temporal principality indispensable under existing circumstances, or for anticipating its restoration, are so slender and unconvincing, and he has supplied so many cogent arguments for thinking it unnecessary, if not undesirable, that it is difficult for his readers not to believe his cautious reticence on that part of the question which has been elaborately treated by Passaglia, due rather to an exaggerated sense of ecclesiastical etiquette than to any strong convictions antagonistic to those of the great Roman divine. Be this as it may, however, the value of his testimony, especially as addressed to members of his own communion, cannot be depreciated or denied.
Before referring to it more in detail, it will be as well to glance briefly at the prevalent phases of sentiment among ultramontane supporters of the temporal claims. Allowing for many lesser shades of difference, they may be broadly divided into two classes. There are those - and we fear Count Montalembert must be numbered among
them to whom it does not appear unreasonable or immoral to assert that the sacrifice of the freedom, and, if it be so, the happiness of three million Italians is a necessary, and therefore a legitimate condition of the welfare of the universal Church. We need not wonder at such a theory being maintained. To do evil that good may come has been the darling temptation of religious partisans in every age and of every creed, nor are the advisers of Job the only theologians who have thought it an acceptable service to lie for God. But those who have an intelligent faith in Catholicism will be slow to defend its interests by so suicidal a paradox. Fiat justitia ruat cælum is a principle true for all times and all circumstances, and of only the more imperative obligation the more sacred are the interests at stake. There cannot be a greater dishonour to Christianity than to insist that its welfare is implicated in the maintenance of a corrupt and superannuated despotism, for which we vainly seek, even in Turkish maladministration, an adequate parallel
. A second class, including probably all, or nearly all, the English champions of the Papal Government, while holding with the former its necessity for the interests of the Church, if not indeed in some cases, as with Dr. Manning, almost for the integrity of the faith, maintain that its existence is also beneficial to its subjects, and that the alleged disaffection is both grossly exaggerated, and entirely the result, so far as it is a fact, of secret societies and foreign propagandism. It is difficult to argue on such a strange view of the matter as this
. The sincerity of many who maintain it cannot be questioned, but the significant silence of all the more influential Catholic members in the Italian debate provoked by Sir G. Bowyer in the House of Commons, sufficiently indicated that his views were far from being shared by all his brethren in the faith. Were those who think with him open to such evidence, we should remind them that the silent demonstration of the Romans at the last Carnival, when nearly the whole population, in obedience to the National Committee, absented themselves from the Corso, with which may be contrasted the enthusiastic reception of Victor Emmanuel at Naples, were strikingly indicative of the universal feeling among both Romans and Neapolitans in favour of Italian unity.t For these, be it remembered, are not isolated expressions of feeling, but are in entire accordance with what we should otherwise be led to anticipate, and take place in cities stated by the friends of the Papal and Bourbon power to be deeply attached to the old governments. It must be a strong religious conviction which can lead men so utterly to ignore either the elementary principles of justice or the clearest evidence of fact, as to maintain, with one class of advocates, that the former must be sacrified, or, with the other, that no sacrifice is required for the continuance of the temporal power. We shall therefore go on to inquire, under the guidance of a Catholic theologian, what is the teaching of history as to the action of that power on the spiritual interests of the Roman Catholic Church.
For upwards of seven centuries — the age of the Martyrs, the Ecumenical Councils, the Fathers of the Church, the Creeds,
* See two sets of Lectures by him on 'The Recent Crisis,' and • The latter Glories of the Holy See greater than the first.'
+ It is worth observing that the proclamation of the National Committee here referred to closed with the words, Viva Pio Nino, î. Pontefice non Ré.'
the conversion of the greater portion of Europe -- there was no temporal power. It began at the close of the eighth century with the donations of Pepin and Charlemagne, suggested probably in part by the fabulous donation of Constantine.' Seven centuries more had to pass away before it became a recognised and substantial fact. The Roman See subsisted
seven centuries without possessing in sovereignty a single • village.
• In fact it was not till the time of Leo X., * about 350 years ago, that the Popes held quiet possession of the
State, with its three million of inhabitants.' (P. 457.) With the fall of the Carlovingian dynasty fell also the ecclesiastical policy which its founder had originated; and for more than two centuries, till about 1060, the greater portion of the Papal · States had fallen into the hands of laymen. For most of that period the Papacy itself became the catspaw of the Roman nobility, and its moral influence was discredited by a rapid succession of impotent or flagitious fainéants, the creatures of the dominant faction of the day at Rome; for some time the favourites of two abandoned women, Theodora and Marozia, were thrust into the Papal chair, among whom was John XII., whom our author euphoniously designates a "good-for-nothing *Pope,' and who was in fact the veriest incarnation of all the darkest vices which can defile humanity. The Emperor Henry III. did much by a succession of German Popes to elevate the position of the Roman See. At the end of the eleventh century Gregory VII., one of the most powerful ecclesiastical rulers who have ever sat on St. Peter's chair, never held in a firm grasp the sceptre of his temporal sovereignty. • During the whole of the twelth century, the Popes had no 'fixed settled territory of their own in Italy.' At its close, Innocent III., the next most powerful Pope after Hildebrand, was not so much the restorer as he was practically the first actual founder of the Papal States.' From this period dates the formation of the Guelph and Ghibelline parties, which involved the cause of the Church with the divided interests of political partisanship, and ranged the subjects of the same spiritual father under the opposite banners of the champions of the Emperor and the champions of the Pope. Henceforth the Popes, though still in such a position that no city was really subject to them, became the leaders of an Italian party, and began to employ against their political enemies the spiritual weapons of ban and interdict, and the temporal arms of foreign mercenaries. Indeed, it is remarkable throughout the Middle Ages that the terrible weapons of excommunication and interdict are far more frequently resorted to for secular than for spiritual ends, and
become the recognised method for quelling a revolted city, or enforcing a disputed salt tax. A new era for the Papacy and for Italy opens with the succession of the House of Anjou to the Sicilian throne; French influence predominates over the Guelphic party and the Popes themselves, who had hitherto been its undisputed leaders, till at the commencement of the fourteenth century they removed their court to Avignon, whence a succession of French pontiffs ruled over Rome, like one of the provinces of the old empire, as a distant dependency, through the instrumentality of French legates, whose oppressive government kept the city in a state of almost chronic revolt, which was met by the old weapons of ecclesiastical censures and brutal foreign mercenaries. At the end of the seventy years “grass ‘was growing in the streets of Rome, and the number of its inhabitants was only 17,000.' Then the demand for a Pope, who should be a Roman or at least an Italian,' became too strong to be resisted. It was gratified in the election of Urban VI., an Italian, but a man of infamous character, as were most of his immediate successors, and with the opposition made to his appointment by the French Cardinals begins the schism of the Anti-Popes, which did so much to discredit Papal authority in Europe, by exhibiting two rival claimants for divine jurisdiction over the Church hurling anathemas at each other, and thus indirectly paved the way for the greater schism of the sixteenth century. At this period the Papal States were almost in dissolution, and Boniface IX., Urban's successor, even sold to their various owners the sovereign rights of which they were already in actual possession, in consideration of an immediate payment and a yearly tribute. It must be remembered that all along nepotism had been one of the crying grievances of the Papal rule, the more so as very many of the Popes had, besides other relatives, their own illegitimate children to be enriched out of the revenues of the Church. This evil practice culminated at the close of the fifteenth century under Sixtus IV., and the wretched Alexander VI., who alienated the greater part of his dominions in favour of his son, Cæsar Borgia. Julius II., a brave soldier and a man of vigorous and statesmanlike capacity: though of immoral life, recovered forcibly what his predecessor had frittered away, and thus became, in the words of our author, 'the third founder and restorer of the Papal States ;' the work of internal consolidation was successfully inaugurated by the next Pope, Leo X., who was at once a statesman, a voluptuary, and a sceptic. The dismemberment of the Papal States by nepotism was not brought finally to an end till the reign of Pius V., who prohibited, under threat of excommunication, every alienation, temporary or permanent, of the property of the Roman Church, or any part of it; and from his time dates the oath, of which we have heard so much lately, taken by every Pope at his coronation, which did not, however, prevent Pius VI. from succumbing to political exigencies, and alienating, in the Treaty of Tolentino, the three legations of Ravenna, Ferrara, and Romagna. Since the Reformation dynastic interests have over and over again led the Popes to adopt a line of policy incongruous with their ecclesiastical position as heads of the Roman Catholic Church. Thus Clement VII. aided the friends of the Smalkaldic League against Charles V., who, though his political opponent, was a zealous and even vehement champion of Catholicism; Urban VIII. countenanced Gustavus Adolphus in his invasion of Germany, undertaken in the interest of Protestantism ; Innocent XI. gave his concurrence, if not his open sanction, to William III. in his claims on the English throne. A more striking instance of the Papal States being used as a fulcrum' to extort from the Holy See measures uncongenial to its religious instincts is mentioned by our author, when the French Government, by seizing part of the States and threatening the rest, enforced on Clement XIV. the suppression of the Jesuits—at that time the great missionary power of the Roman Church-just as six centuries before the Emperor Henry V. had by similar means compelled Paschal II. to yield the right of Investiture, which had for thirty years been the critical question contested between the Papacy and the civil power, and had been the turning point of St. Anselm's career in this country as Archbishop of Canterbury. Indeed it is difficult to say to what period of its chequered history the words applied by Dr. Döllinger to the temporal sovereignty in the eighteenth century do not apply :* Times in which the States of the Church, so far from aiding 'to serve the Papal independence, were on the contrary regarded and treated as the very means by which a Pope could be forced 'to adopt measures which otherwise he never would have assented to. Pius VI. and Pius VII., we are told, though excellent and conscientious men, felt bound to postpone the interests of their spiritual to those of their secular kingdom; 'they regarded the quality of a territorial prince more highly “than that of the head of the Church.' And so we are brought down to the French Revolution, and the restoration of the Papal Sovereignty in 1814 by the Treaty of Vienna, a treaty which ignored any rights but those of princes, and which since then forms the sole basis and guarantee of the secular claims of the Holy See.