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Monday, 4 August 2014

"Philip Speaks" by Caryll Houselander

' Now the Passover, the feast of the Jews, was near. When, therefore, Jesus had lifted up his eyes and seen that a very great crowd had come to him, he said to Philip, "Whence shall we buy bread that these may eat?" But he said this to try him, for he himself knew what he would do.
           Philip answered him, "Two hundred denarii worth of bread is not enough for them, that each one may receive a little." One of his disciples, Andrew, the brother of Simon Peter, said to him, "There is a young boy here who has five barley loaves and two fishes; but what are these among so many?" Jesus then said, "Make the people recline."
           Now there was much grass in the place. The men therefore reclined, in number about five thousand. Jesus then took the loaves, and when he had given thanks, distributed them to those reclining; and likewise the fishes, as much as they wished.  But when they were filled, he said to his disciples, "Gather the fragments that are left over, lest they be wasted."  They therefore gathered them up; and they filled twelve baskets with the fragments of the five barley loaves left over by those who had eaten.'    John 6: 1-13.

'Philip Speaks'

When we returned and told Him all we had done,
I for one was emptied out like a husk
that has scattered its seed upon hard ground.

We had not had time even to eat;
always the open hand,
always the blind eyes,
always the deaf ears,
always the wound to be healed.

My thoughts were like wild birds
beating the bars of the cage
for empty skies.

Even now the smell of the people
clung to my hair and clothes,
a rotten sweetness of oil and musk
that smells like death, it hung in my hair.

Their voices went on and on in my head,
monotonous waves wearing my mind away;-
rock is worn by the waves to sand.
I wanted to shut my mind, that my thoughts might close
on my own peace,  I wanted to close
the peace of my love in my heart
like dew in a dark rose.

He told us to rest.  
Jesus commands the Apostles to rest - James Tissot (1836-1902)
We went in a small ship,
the wind and water moving in her,
She lived in their sweetness of life, a bride.
Her sail a white wing, unmoving, moved with the tide.
She lay to the wind, and we gave our hearts with a sigh
to the breath of the spirit of love.

But when we came to the shore
the people were there;
they had found us out.
Always the open hand,
always the blind eyes,
always the deaf ears,
always the wounds to be healed!
They were there,
swarming there, everywhere,
insects there in the sun
when someone has lifted a stone.
I knew they would drain Him
and wring Him out – wring Him out
to the last drop of the fountain water of life.

I was sick of it all
with a dry husk for a heart.
But He saw the flocks wanting shepherd and fold,
Pity in Him rose in a clear spring
For the world’s thirst, and love was a pastureland.
So it went on all day
Always the open hand,
Always the dull mind,
Always the slow heart
Always the nameless fears,
And self-pity, self-pity and tears;

Until the sun went up in the blaze of the day’s heat
And with red wine burning through thin gold
It was lowered slowly onto the altar stone
Of the darkening world, where the sheep were in fold.
                          Sunset on the Sea of Galilee (ack. baumersabroad)
We thought ‘now it is night, He will send them away’
“The hour is late,” we said, “this is a desert place,
 send them away, Lord, to buy food and be fed!”
But He “you give them to eat!”

The grass in that place shone exceedingly green,
I remember, because when the brain is dust,
The cool greenness of grass is absurdly sweet.

“There is a lad here,” said Andrew,
“with two little fish and five loaves of bread,
but what are these if this crowd must be fed?”
“Bid them sit down on the grass and give them to eat,”
the Lord said.
The lad was one of the crowd, he went as he came.
As long as the world lasts, the world will remember him,
But no one will know his name!

They sat down on the grass.
My heart contracted, my mind was withered up,
But Christ poured out His tenderness,
Like wine poured out into a lifted cup.
Always the open hands,
Always the blind eyes,
Always the mouth to be fed,
And I for one was emptied out like a husk
That has scattered its seed upon hard ground.
But He saw the flocks wanting shepherd and fold;
Pity in Him rose in a clear spring
For the world’s thirst, and love was a pastureland.

The Lord blessed the bread.
He put it into our hands
And it multiplied,
Not in His hands but in mine!

Even now, remembering this,
My thoughts shut like a folding wing,
My mind is a blank sheet of light
In the mystery of the thing.

I gave and my hands were full, again and again;
Pity in Him fell on my dry dust,
It was summer rain,
And the husk of my heart expanded and filled again,
And was large with grain.
For me, the miracle was this,
That a clear stream of the Lord’s love
(not mine)
flowed out of my soul,
a shining wave, over my fellow men. 

These things I have told you happened a long while since.
Our cherished Lord is dead, He was crucified.
Now, as then, we go about in the crowd telling His love,
and how He rose from the dead, and risen in us
He lives in the least of men.
But I think nobody understands,
until I touch their wounds and they know
the healing of His hands.

On the night of the Pasch, before He died,
He blessed the bread and put it into my hands,
to increase and be multiplied to the end of time.
                              The Last Supper.  Dieric Bouts 1420-75
Now if I turned my face away from the market place,
I should be haunted,
hearing the rustle of wheat in the darkness,
striving, pushing up to the light.
I should hear His words falling like slow tears
in the Supper room,  -
when He prayed that we all be one,
even as they are one, the Father and Son, -
falling like slow tears
over the sown fields,
and I should see the world
like a young field of wheat
growing up for the grain
watered by Christ’s tears.

Always the open hands,
always the blind eyes,
always the slow mind,
always the deaf ears,
and always Christ, Our Lord,
crowned with the flowering thorn
and ringed with spears.

I know, - now that I never see
the print of His feet in the dust
where the Son of Man trod, -
that in every man for ever
I meet the Son of God.
                                        Caryll Houselander

‘Dedicated in gratitude to Dr J W McKail, O.M. in whose hands all that there is of good in “Philip Speaks” has been

(Ack 'The Flowering Tree' selected poems by Caryll  
Houselander, published by Sheed and Ward, London.)


Friday, 11 July 2014

Pope Pius IX - Immaculate Conception (1854) - the Piedmontese threat

(continued from previous post)

Whilst the re-establishment of the hierarchies of England and Holland was being considered, requests that the traditional belief in the 'Immaculate Conception of the Virgin Mary' be defined as a dogma of faith, were being received at Rome in increasing numbers.  The vision of the Blessed Virgin seen by the novice nun, Catherine Laboure, in the Rue du Bac, Paris, in 1830, which included the inscription, “O Marie, concue sans peche, priez pour nous qui avons recours a vous” (“O Mary, conceived without sin, pray for us who have recourse to thee”), gave significant impetus to the  movement.  Pio Nono was  known to have a special devotion to the Mother of God,  and on 1 June 1848  he appointed a commission of twenty theologians, under the Jesuit, Fr. Passaglia, to study the merits and implications of such a proclamation.

       The Immaculate Conception - Francisco de Zurbaran (1630)

On 2 February 1849, the Pope issued the Encyclical ‘Ubi Primum’ from Gaeta, asking the Bishops for prayers and advice on this question. Of some 600 replies, only that of the Archbishop of Paris, Sibour, with one or two others, took the line that the belief was not definable; a few more, mainly from Protestant countries, regarded it as inopportune. The overwhelming majority were enthusiastic, and drafts were then prepared by the Jesuit priests, Fr Perrone and  Fr Passaglia.  The Pope anticipated any suggestion that the new dogma was 'the invention of the Jesuits', by allowing the Bishops whom he invited for the solemn proclamation on December 8th, 1854, to introduce a number of modifications into the text at the last moment. “We must accept this humiliation,” he is reported to have said, “so that it won’t be said that everything depended on the Jesuits”.

Chapel of Our Lady of the Miraculous Medal, Rue du Bac, Paris, the site of Our Lady's appearance to St Catherine Laboure in 1830. Link below provides further information.

The belief in question, as it ultimately came to be defined, was that the Virgin Mary, at the moment of her conception, a normal, human conception, was miraculously exempted from the taint of original sin. There was no direct scriptural warrant for the belief, save that implicit in the salutation of the Angel Gabriel, “Hail Mary, full of grace”; and there was the difficulty, felt by St Bernard and by St Thomas Aquinas, that if the Virgin were thus without sin she was in no need of  redemption, of which all mankind stood in need. The reply to this was that of Duns Scotus, who professed that, in being freed from original sin, Mary was participating in advance, and in a more perfect way, in the redemption won by her Divine Son. The answer to the absence of direct scriptural warrant was simply the tradition of the Church and the deductions which it was logical to make from the great and unique privileges of Mary. The altogether exceptional nature of the sanctity of Mary was part of the belief of the early Fathers; her divine maternity was defined at the Council of Ephesus in 431; and her freedom from actual sin has never  been doubted.  The Feast of the Conception of Mary, of eastern origin, was being celebrated in England in the 11th century, and devotion to her Immaculate Conception was encouraged by St Anselm, Archbishop of Canterbury (1093-1109). In 1476, Pope Sixtus IV approved the Feast of the Immaculate Conception, and explicitly encouraged the devotion. The Council of Trent (1545-63) carefully exempted the Virgin Mary from the taint of evil when defining the doctrine of original sin.

   Column of the Immaculate Conception, Rome - erected to commemorate dogmatic proclamation by Pope Pius IX on December 8, 1854

 For Pio Nono the proclamation of the dogma in St Peter’s was certainly one of the supreme moments of his life, and more than once he was overcome with emotion while reading it out. To commemorate the event he caused a very tall and graceful column to be erected in the piazza di Spagna, at Rome, surmounted by a statue of the Virgin as she had appeared to the novice, Catherine Laboure, at Paris. It is one of the more striking of the many monuments which he left in the city.

From the point of view of the future policy and procedure of the Holy See, however, the most significant thing was not the dogma itself, but rather the manner in which it was proclaimed. A suggestion that the Bishops should be associated with the Pope in the proclamation, was not taken up. According to an article in the ‘Dictionnaire Encyclopedique de la Theologie Catholique’ (1871 edition), it was officially stated that, “if the sovereign Pontiff alone pronounced the definition, to which all the faithful spontaneously adhered, his ruling would furnish a practical demonstration of the sovereign authority of the Church in the matter of doctrine, and of the infallibility with which Jesus Christ has invested His vicar on earth”. Thus the dogma was pronounced upon the sole authority of the Pope, after he had fully consulted both the theologians and the episcopate.
A precedent of the greatest importance was thus set, which had its influence upon the form in which the dogma of Papal Infallibility came later to be defined in 1870.
Similarly nearly 100 years later, in 1950, when Pope Pius XII came to define the analogous dogma of the ‘Assumption of the Blessed Virgin into Heaven’, he followed a method of enquiry, and of consultation with the episcopate, which clearly derived from that employed by Pio Nono in 1854.

On 12 April 1850, Pio Nono rode in state back through the Lateran Gate of Rome, from which he had made his escape in disguise, some 18 months previously. French troops provided his escort, and the Roman crowd was dense and enthusiastic. The Pope, a more cautious and wiser man than previously, would continue reforming the political, juridical, and administrative institutions of his state, but he would not make the same mistakes as before.  In the political sphere, Cardinal Antonelli, as Secretary of State,  exerted great influence but always acted in conformity with the Pope’s wishes.  One of the things the Pope had learnt about himself, was that he was a poor politician, and  it made sense for him to have an efficient servant who would take responsibility, under himself, for the multifarious diplomatic business involved in matters affecting both the Universal Church, and  the  Italian Principality.  The Cardinal, a Neapolitan of peasant origin, in minor orders but never admitted to the priesthood, was street-wise, very capable, courageous, but above all obedient and totally loyal to the Pope.  The limit to which  Pio Nono would go in the matter of constitutional innovation was outlined in his Motu Proprio of September 1849. No mention was made of restoring the Constitution of March 1848, a factor conveniently overlooked by enemies of the Pope who subsequently accused him of reneging on his  promises - promises which had never been made in the first place!
With the return of the Pope, a Council of State was set up. In the same year (1850), the elective provincial and municipal councils reappeared, as did the ‘Consulta’ at Rome, half elected by the provincial councils and half appointed by the Pope. A policy of laicisation was adopted so that by 1856, only 289 ecclesiastics as against 6836 laymen were employed in the administration, with the Heads of  main departments of State often laymen.  The Secretary of State had, by long tradition, to be a cardinal, and he might be, as Antonelli was, in minor orders only.

     Count Camillo Benso Cavour -  by Antonio Ciseri (1821-1891)

During the 1850s, Cavour, the aggressively anti-Catholic Piedmontese Prime Minister, sought to increase secular power in Piedmont, at the expense of the Church. This involved the enforced  closure of all contemplative monastic and conventual establishments, only allowing those to remain that were judged to be actively working for the benefit of society, such as nursing or teaching Orders.  Cavour had long-term political aspirations, which included Piedmontese control of the Papal State and ultimate control of the whole Italian peninsular. It was an audacious conception, guessed at by few even within Piedmont. His first step was his notorious participation in the Crimean War, as the ally of France and England, in the hope of gaining their favours. The King, it has to be said, appeared supportive of the war. Cavour was negotiating this in January 1855, while the Law of the Convents was still being debated in Turin, and even at this early date he was plotting the dismemberment of the Papal State. 

The onslaught upon the Religious Orders in Piedmont, culminating in the ‘Law of the Convents’ at Turin in 1855, confirmed the Pope in the conviction that the whole ‘Risorgimento’ movement was essentially anti-Catholic. The Moderates as well as the Mazzinians, seemed hostile to the Church, with subsequent developments increasing  the Pope’s hostility  and  prompting him to formulate the ‘Syllabus of Errors’ (1864), which effectively reiterated  his earlier public denunciations of Piedmontese persecution.

                                                                Map of Italy 1850-1858

During the 1850s the enemies of the Church constantly sought excuses to invade the Papal States, their agenda being to destroy the Temporal power of the Church and to open the door to the creation of  an Italian Republic.  Thus it was that Cavour lost no opportunity to publicly criticise the Pope and the Roman government . Yet in 1856 a  report on the Papal State was produced by Raynerval, the French ambassador in Rome, in which he stressed  the progress that had been made with the laicisation of the Roman administration.
He ridicules the notion that the Roman government was a bad government: -
          “its weaknesses and imperfections are of the same kind as are met with in all governments.... the pontifical government is a government composed of Romans, acting after the Roman fashion ….. there is, in truth, misery here as elsewhere, but it is infinitely less heavy than in less favoured climates. Mere necessities are obtained cheaply. Private charity is largely exercised. Establishments of public charity are numerous and effective ….. Important ameliorations have been introduced into the administration of hospitals and prisons. Some of these prisons should be visited, that the visitor may admire – the term is not too strong – the persevering charity of the Holy Father.”

After pointing to practical achievements – the expansion of trade, the construction of railways, the building of houses; and demonstrating that the average Roman pays less than half what the average Frenchman pays in taxation, he concludes that “the pontifical administration bears the marks of wisdom, reason, and progress”.
Needless to say, this is not what Napoleon or Cavour wanted to hear, and Raynerval paid the price for his courage and honesty, being removed to St Petersburg the following year.

                  Vittoria Emmanuel II, King of Piedmont Sardinia.

Pio Nono had a surprising  affection for the young Victor Emmanuel, King of Piedmont, almost certainly due to the loyalty and support he received from his mother Queen Maria Teresa, and his wife Queen Marie Adelaide, both of whom corresponded regularly with the Pope, and both  desperate  to see amicable relations re-established between Turin and Rome.  As relations in Turin between Church and State deteriorated, the Pope always sought to excuse the king, suggesting that he was badly advised by his anti-Catholic ministers.  The king, in a letter to the Pope, admitted that he was in perpetual fear of being forced to abdicate should he fail to support  constitutional change, even  though personally against such change, and he wielded  little power in such matters.  Pio Nono was under no illusions as to where the power lay, and throughout his pontificate, in spite of  continual and increasingly aggressive behaviour from Piedmont,  his personal relationship with Victor Emmanuel was one of genuine compassion and spiritual concern.
(to be continued)
Ack. “Pio Nono” by E.E.Y.Hales, published by Eyre & Spottiswood, London 1954.

Wednesday, 4 June 2014

'Pio Nono' - Reform of Religious Orders, and Establishment of English and Dutch Hierarchies.

(continued from previous post on Pope Pius IX)

 The significant reform and renewal of the Religious Orders is one of the least known aspects of Pius IX’s work.  He had begun to implement this work  prior to his exile in Gaeta, and continued it  on his return to Rome in 1850.

                     Pope Pius IX  c. 1860 (ack. hallowed ground images)

Since his first encyclical the Pope had exhorted the Bishops to show themselves in their preaching to be true defenders of the faith.  He had also called them to be vigilant with regard to the formation and discipline of the clergy.Throughout Europe generally, with the spread of Protestantism and the Age of Enlightenment, the 18th century was a difficult time for the Catholic Church, with numbers of religious drastically declining and monasteries and convents closing. Although there was some improvement in the early 19th century, the future of  many religious institutes was under real threat. In October, 1846, the Pope created the Congregation for the Statute of Regulars, with himself as President, specifically to promote a renewal of the discipline of religious and of conventual life.

 In the encyclical ‘Ubi Primum’ (1847) the Pope made clear his intention to address those matters contributory to the decline in  religious life. It was generally accepted that  stricter rules were necessary regarding admission to the novitiate and religious profession; that common-life be gradually re-installed in all monasteries and convents; and that the opportunity to take simple vows prior to making solemn profession, be introduced in all religious orders. Two further rules were added by the Pope, firstly that all candidates must have a letter of approval from their Bishop, and secondly that the admission and formation of novices was the responsibility of provincial and general superiors, as well as just local superiors.

The 1848 revolution in Rome delayed any immediate action, and it was only in January 1851 that these reforms could be effected. When necessary, Pope Pius IX was not afraid to override the canonical rules of appointment, and appoint on his own initiative a Superior of his choice, rather than accept one whom he thought unsuitable. Neither was he loathe to influence and persuade Superiors to adopt the reforms, one particular example being his  friendship with Dom Gueranger O.S.B., the founder of the congregation at Solesmes, and restorer of the Benedictine Order in France.

               Dom Prosper Gueranger OSB - abbot of Solesmes Abbey

The secular clergy were as much the object of the Pope’s special attention, as the regular clergy. Here again the 1846 encyclical had reminded the Bishops of their individual responsibilities to guide and care for their clergy, and to be particularly prudent and patient in their choice of suitable candidates for the priesthood.  Throughout his pontificate Pius IX did not hesitate to admonish bishops who showed themselves ineffective in the formation of their clergy and unable to enforce respect for church discipline.

Whilst  in exile in Gaeta, the Pope  planned  a seminary in Rome intended for  the best candidates from the papal States. The specific purpose of this seminary was to train good priests, who  after ordination, would return to their own diocese as ‘exemplar’ priests. The Pope chose a Dominican, Fr Francis Gaude, as its first director, who after two years was elevated to the Cardinalate, and was succeeded by another Dominican, Fr Giovanni Tosa, also appointed by the Pope.  Both  directors were convinced Thomists,  ie. adherents to the principles of philosophy and theology based on the teachings of St Thomas Aquinas, which the Pope supported and was keen to promote.
In  1853 the Pope laid down the rules and programme of studies to be applied in the new seminary, also other seminaries in Rome; with two years of philosophy followed by four years of theology, concluding with three years of civil and canon law. The study of Sacred Scripture, Church history, Greek and Hebrew were also obligatory.
The spread of Protestantism had forced the closure of many seminaries in Europe, and colleges for the French, Germans, Hungarians, Poles, English, Scots, and Irish had been established in Rome, followed by the founding of the Latin American College in 1858 and the North American College in 1859.

          Cardinal NicholasWiseman -  (ack.daguerreotype by Brady Studios)

In England in 1829, the government had passed the ‘Emancipation Act’ which accorded Catholics their basic civil rights after centuries of prohibition. The Rev Nicholas Wiseman, an Englishman who had lived and been ordained in Rome, later to become Cardinal Wiseman, preached a series of lectures in London in 1836 on the ‘Principal Doctrines and Practices of the Catholic Church’ which were well received. By the middle of the 19th century England had approaching one million Catholics in a population of 18 million, yet it was still categorised as ‘mission’ territory, governed by eight Vicars Apostolic. This figure included a huge influx of Catholics from Ireland between the years 1845-1850, forced to emigrate by the terrible famine of those years. Additionally there were many conversions from the Anglican Church, in particular the Anglican clergyman John Henry Newman, one of the leaders of the ‘Oxford Movement’, who converted in 1845.

The vicars apostolic commissioned Wiseman to negotiate with Rome with a view to establishing a regular hierarchy in England, to which concept Pope Pius was totally supportive. However the Revolution of 1848 and the Pope’s exile thereafter, meant that official Papal approval was delayed until September 1850, when the Pope confirmed by apostolic letter,  the re-establishment of the Episcopal hierarchy in England, instituting an archdiocese at Westminster, and eight dioceses. The next day Wiseman was created a cardinal in a secret consistory and, shortly thereafter, Archbishop of Westminster. A few days later Cardinal Wiseman addressed a Pastoral Letter – “from out the Flaminian gate of Rome” to the English faithful expressing great joy at the turn of events.
Unfortunately the Pope’s decision and Wiseman’s perceived triumphalism were not well received by English Protestant opinion. ‘The Times’ spoke of ‘the impudence of Pius IX’ and the Prime Minister, Lord Russell, denounced ‘the Pope’s aggression against English Protestantism’. Effigies of Pius IX and Wiseman were burned in the streets of London, and Wiseman was advised to stay away. He ignored this advice and returned without delay to London, when he succeeded in calming public opinion by issuing an open letter and giving a series of public lectures.

                                             Guy Fawkes of 1850  (Punch)

The Pope himself was surprised by this reaction, having been assured in the winter of 1847/8 by Lord Minto, that there would be no difficulty with the British Government. However, since that time leaders and supporters of the Italian Risorgimento had fled to England, and had succeeded in gaining considerable public and private support in their battle for ‘freedom’ against the ‘tyranny’ of Rome. 

In 1848 Pope Pius IX had been the popular liberal Pope, the ‘most enlightened ruler in Europe’, but by the autumn of 1850 he was generally regarded in England as a tyrant. The ‘Society of the Friends of Italy’ was formed to promote “Italian Independence and political and religious liberty’. There emerged an enthusiasm for the Risorgimento and indignation against the Papacy which nourished each other, and it is difficult to imagine a moment less propitious for the publication of the Papal Bull of Restoration and the return of the new Cardinal.

‘Foreign tyranny’ was ‘foreign tyranny’, with no distinction between spiritual and temporal, and although Wiseman weathered the storm and the hierarchy was able to carry on its work,
the Pope never regained his popularity in Protestant England. Malice against the Church was exemplified by an Act of Parliament in August, 1851, which pronounced the new ‘hierarchal’ titles illegal, and the following year public processions and the wearing of ecclesiastical habit in public were prohibited for Catholics. These Acts remained a 'dead letter' from the start, but the ministries which passed them were certainly bowing to popular pressure in doing so. It is not out of place to mention one positive effect of this public agitation, namely the conversion of a certain Anglican clergyman, Henry Manning, who would become a close friend of Pope Pius IX, a Cardinal and ardent defender of papal infallibility, and an inspiring future leader of the English Catholic Church.

                              Cardinal Henry Manning (1880) by Barraud

The experience of restoring the English hierarchy made the Pope cautious when considering a similar step in the Netherlands, where Catholics, found primarily in the southern provinces, represented a third of the population. As in England, the Church was governed by vicars apostolic, who like their English counterparts, wished for    hierarchal establishment.
 In 1849, the Dutch constitution had secured the  principles of  equality of all religious groups before the law; freedom from state interference in clerical appointments; and free communication with Rome.
Following protracted negotiations with the Dutch government, and once the Pope had satisfied himself that Cardinal Wiseman was able to maintain his position in England, the Papal Bull of Restoration in Holland was signed in March 1853. The public outcry in Holland was comparable to that experienced in England three years earlier, and for similar reasons,with one of the the main bones of contention  being that the city of Utrecht, so dear to Protestant tradition, had been chosen as the seat of the new Archbishopric; in England it had of course, been Westminster.
To calm the situation and as an act of goodwill to the Dutch establishment, the Pope required the new Bishops to take an oath of loyalty to the king. This and other conciliatory gestures brought peace and  early rapid growth in the Dutch Church.

What now existed in England and Holland, as it did also in Belgium, France, and Cavour’s Italy, was the concept of a ‘free Church in a free State’. It was far from the Pope’s ideal for a Christian society, as he was soon to make clear in his ‘Syllabus of Errors’, but he had shown himself willing to abandon all pretence to special relations with the State, and by doing so had avoided state interference, particularly the right of government to control ecclesiastical appointments, and the right of government to control the publication of Roman missives.
These settlements of the status of the Church in the traditional maritime strongholds of Protestantism by Pope Pius IX, were notable achievements, and should properly be reckoned as among the highest of his practical accomplishments.
(to be continued)

Ack  'Pio Nono' by E.E.Y.Hales. Published by Eyre & Spottiswoode, London,1954.
         'Pope Pius IX, the Man and the Myth' by Yves Chiron. Published Angelus Press 2005.

Friday, 9 May 2014

Pope Pius IX - defeat of first Republican Assembly (1849)

This is a continuation of my post on the pontificate of Pope Pius IX and the growth of the Italian Risorgimento. It is not, and cannot be an in-depth study, but I hope that at least, it paints an interesting and  reasonably accurate sketch of a Pope and pontificate which had a profound effect on the growth and shape of the Church to come.

In March 1849 when Mazzini entered the Assembly in Rome, he declared, ‘After the Rome of Emperors, after the Rome of the Popes, now we have the Rome of the people …. with a new era arising, which admits neither Christianity nor the old authority.’  
The first act of the republican government was to declare all ecclesiastical property to be ‘national property’. While the Constituent Assembly proclaimed freedom of religion and asked the people to pray for a republican victory, there began the occupation of convents, the profanation of churches, and the massacre of priests - the way of all revolutions!
Offers of help to the Pope had come from all over the world, but effective steps could only be taken by France, Austria, Piedmont, or Naples, and political fears and jealousies dictated their actions. The Pope had the sympathy of most European governments, none having accorded diplomatic recognition to the new republican Assembly. Queen Victoria wrote a personal letter to the Pope, the first addressed by any English sovereign to a Pope since the time of Queen Elizabeth the First.
The same month, the Piedmontese army, acting on the militant  'anti-Austria'  policy of their government, attacked the Austrian army at Novala,  but were heavily defeated, leaving Austria in a dominant position in Northern Italy. Urged on by powerful French Catholic opinion which was genuinely  concerned for the Pope's welfare, and by the political desire to anticipate any Austrian intervention in Rome, Louis Napoleon Bonaparte, the French President, authorised the use of French troops to assist the Pope, and on 25 April, General Oudinot and his force landed at Civita Vecchia, reaching Rome five days later.

                                                       General Oudinot (1791-1863)

In the meantime Mazzini’s forces, reinforced by Garibaldi and his legionnaires, and the Bersaglieri from Lombardi, had established themselves in Rome, where contrary to expectations, they inflicted a heavy defeat on Oudinot’s army, taking some 400 prisoners. During May and June fierce fighting continued, and the end result remained in the balance until the French government, humiliated by their earlier defeat and determined to restore national honour, sent substantial reinforcements. Garibaldi declared that future resistance was hopeless, and  in spite of bitter opposition from Mazzini, the Assembly capitulated on 30 June, was dissolved on 3 July, and on  15 July the pontifical banner was raised on the Castel Sant’Angelo and on the tower of the Campidoglio on the Capitol, accompanied by one hundred and one cannon blasts announcing the re-establishment of the legitimate authority of the Pope.   Both Garibaldi and Mazzini avoided capture, Garibaldi withdrawing with his legion before the French entered the city, and Mazzini escaping a short time later to Civita Vecchia.

On 20 April 1849 Pope Pius IX had  issued the allocution ‘Quibus Quantisque’, in which he re-iterated the outrages carried out by the republican revolutionaries on himself and the monasteries in the so-called 'name of the people', and he denounced the spoliation of Church property and effects, and the persecution of clergy and religious.  He openly condemned the proposition that the Church would benefit from the loss of its temporal power, repudiating the revolution and stating that he would not accept any pre-conditions to his return to Rome.
 “Who does not know that the city of Rome, the principal seat of the Catholic Church, has now become a jungle full of quivering animals, full of men of all nations, apostates, heretics, masters - as they say, of Communism or of Socialism? Animated by the most terrible hatred of the Catholic truth, they dedicate themselves, with all their might, whether by the spoken or the written word, or by whatever other means, to the teaching and dissemination of pestilent errors of all kinds, and to the corruption of the hearts and minds of all, with the intention that, in Rome itself - as if this were possible, the Catholic faith will collapse, together with the unchangeable rules of the faith.”.(Quibus Quantisque).

He included details of his requests to Catholic powers for help in fighting the machinations of Freemasonry and the secret societies, and explicitly rejected the calumny, which his enemies had spread, that he had himself been affiliated to the ‘sects of perdition’ which, ‘with our supreme apostolic authority, we condemn, prohibit and forbid.’

When news of the French success in Rome reached Gaeta, the Pope responded with the following message:-
                 “To our most beloved subjects:  from Heaven, God lifted high His arm, and to the tempestuous sea of anarchy and impiety He said: you shall go no further.  He guided the Catholic arms to sustain the assaulted rights of humanity, of the belaboured faith, of the Holy See, and of our Sovereign Authority.  Eternal praise be to the Lord, who even in the midst of His wrath, forgets not His mercy.”

It was to be nearly a year, 12 April 1850 to be precise, before the Pope returned to Rome amidst great jubilation by the people, where for the next twenty years he was to exercise his dual role as Head of the universal Church and that of Sovereign of the Papal States.
A census taken in 1853 revealed that the Papal States, which covered a surface area of more than 41,000 sq. kilometres, had a population exceeding 3.1 million, which made it the third most populous Italian state, after the kingdoms of Naples and Sardinia.

                             Pope Pius IX ( from an early photograph) reproduced from e-book  'Italian letters of a diplomats wife' by Mary Waddington (1905)

The conditions for the new Papal government were difficult, for the Republican government had left it bankrupt, and as a matter of urgency a new policy of economic improvement and administrative reform was introduced by the Pope and his Secretary of State, Cardinal Antonelli. Taxes were not increased but over a few years a deficit of more than 2 million scudos was cleared .
A glance at the number of public works achieved over these years is more than sufficient to refute the myth that the Papal States lagged behind the times.

   Cardinal Antonelli - reproduced from e-book 'Italian letters of a diplomats wife' by Mary Waddington (1905)

From 1850 onwards, and over the next 20 years, a great number of municipal works were undertaken. These included:-  draining the swamps of Ostia and the Pontine marshes; building embankments for all the waterways in the Papal States; improvements to the ports, and lighthouses built at Ancona, Citta Vecchia, Anzio and Terracina ; improving and increasing the railways and main roads with the construction or repair of some twenty viaducts, including the huge one between Albano and Arrichia;  modernising the telegraphic services so that by 1860 all the principal towns in the Papal States were inter- connected.
The industrial revolution brought change and development world-wide. The Papal States were no exception, with the creation and development of foundries and mechanical workshops, mills for cotton, silk and wool; paper mills, sugar refineries, machines for husking rice, and industrial plants for processing wood, chemicals and cement, all providing primary materials for a flourishing manufacturing base.


       Viaduct between Albano and Arricchia - built by papal government of Pope Pius IX - reproduced from e-book,  'Italian letters of a diplomat's wife' by Mary Waddington (1905)
Charitable and medical services were provided for;  the city’s biggest hospital, the Hospital of the Holy Spirit, had 1600 beds, a school for clinical medicine, and even its own Bank.
Whilst the Pope was on his way back to Rome, the first issue of ‘Civilta Cattolica’ was published in Naples. This influential and important journal, written and published by the Jesuits, was published at the Pope’s request and constituted his principle theological support. It made a decisive contribution to the Pope’s drafting of the ‘Syllabus of Errors’(1864), to the organisation of the First Vatican Council in 1870, and to the restoration of Thomist philosophy, which he encouraged.
Significant advances were made in the historical and archeological fields, with the discovery and excavation of ancient Roman and Christian sites.
In January, 1852,the Papal government, together with Florence, Parma, and Modena, was one of the first to introduce postage stamps.

                      First postage stamp issued by the Papal States 1852

        In his unique role as successor of St Peter and spiritual head of the Catholic Church on earth, the work to which Pius IX devoted all his strength, was the struggle against the secularisation of society. Internationally, one of his main weapons was the creation of Concordats, intended to protect the Church and the Faith against the onslaught of Protestantism and secularism. These included concordats with Russia (1847), Tuscany (1851), Spain (1851), Baden (1853), Austria (1855), Portugal (1857), Wurtemberg (1857), and several S.American countries between 1851 and 1863, of which the one signed with Gabriel Moreno, the President of Ecuador, in November 1863, can be considered the most perfect.
His achievements on a national level were substantial and will be considered in our next post.

                 Nicholas, Cardinal Wiseman - installed Archbishop of Westminster 1850

In similar vein, one of the Pope’s first acts on his return from Gaeta was the re-establishment of the Catholic hierarchy in England with the papal Bull ‘Universalis Ecclesiae’ dated 29 September, 1850. With this, the Pope constituted thirteen dioceses under the authority of the new Archbishop of Westminster, Nicholas Wiseman, who was made a Cardinal at the same time. This first challenge by Pius IX to a Protestant and Freemasonic England which, under the leadership of the trio,  Palmerstone, Russell and Gladstone, was to be one of his principal enemies, stands alongside the three great acts of his pontificate: the definition of the dogma of the Immaculate Conception (1854), the proclamation of ‘the Syllabus of Errors’(1864), and the celebration of the First Vatican Council (1870).
                                                                               (to be continued)

With ack. 
                    'Pio Nono'  by  E.E.Y.Hales, published by Eyre & Spottiswood, London, 1954.   
                     'Blessed Pius IX' by Roberto de Mattei, published by Gracewing 2004.
                     Project Guttenberg - access to e-book 'Italian letters of a diplomat's wife'.

Monday, 28 April 2014

Petition re. ineffective policing of Abortion Act 1967

 Just a short post to ask for your support 
for a petition on
'', criticising the government's totally ineffective policing of the Abortion Act 1967.
Thank you, and please pass on to family and friends. 

Please join this campaign:

The cry of the Unborn

Hear me O God.  Hear.
From the depths of my condemned cell I cry.
None will hear me but You because You see,
I have no vote.
I did not murder nor did I steal or wound.
Yet I am held here helpless before the sterile steel.
Or the poisoned needle.
A death too brutal for murderers is a death
reserved for me.
No comforting breast nor loving Mother's arms await me.
My body will be given to be burned.
What have I done? I have not earned
this sordid unlamented end.
In sin was I conceived. Unwanted I die
before I shall be born.
O when the metal enters my brain,
when I shall kick my last convulsive agony,
take me, take me to Your arms.
None will console me, none cherish me.
None hear my last suffocated
shriek from the traitorous womb.
Save You, save only You.
O love me God.
                                                   John Francis Collins R.I.P. 

Grateful acknowledgement to Richard Collins -  'LINEN ON THE HEDGEROW'

Wednesday, 2 April 2014

Pope Pius IX and the Italian Risorgimento - flight to Gaeta 1848

 The principal enemy of Pope Pius IX and the Church, from the 19th century onwards, was a group of doctrines and tendencies which can be grouped under the heading of 'Revolution'.
             "Fundamental difference between 'a revolution' and that which has been called 'the revolution' for a century now, is that 'the revolution' is not just a revolt, it is a revolt elevated into a principle and a doctrine. The character of 'the revolution' is not individual but essentially social, it is the revolt of society as society. From the religious point of view, 'the revolution' can be defined as the legal negation of the reign of Jesus Christ on earth, the social destruction of the Church."  (Mgr de Segur 1820-1881)

Another French writer dear to Pius IX, Mgr Jean-Joseph Gaume, defined 'the revolution' thus: 
           "If, stripping off the mask of  'the revolution', you ask, "Who are you?" she will say,  "I am not who you think I am. Many speak of me but few know me. I am not the Carbonari who conspire in secret, nor the uprising which howls in the streets, nor the change from monarchy to republic, nor the substitution of one dynasty for another, nor the sudden subversion of public order.  I am not the cries of the Jacobins, nor the furore of the Montagnards, nor the fighters on the barricades, nor plunder, nor arson, nor land laws, nor the guillotine, nor the noyades.  I am neither Marat nor Robespierre, nor Babeuf nor Mazzini nor Kossuth. These people are my sons, but I am not they. These are my works but I am not they. These men and these deeds are transitory facts and yet I am a permanent state.  I am the hatred of all religious and social order which man himself has not created, and in which he is not king and God together.  I am the proclamation of the rights of man against the rights of God.  I am the philosophy of rebellion, the politics of rebellion, the religion of rebellion. I am armed negation. I am the foundation of the social and religious state upon the will of man in place of the will of God.
In a word, I am anarchy. Because I am God dethroned and replaced by man, this is why they call me Revolution, that is confusion, because I raise up high that which, according to eternal law, should remain low, and I thrust down low that which should be on high."
(Mgr Jean-Joseph Gaume (1802-1879)

 (Continued from previous post)

The plot for the Pope’s  escape was planned with care, and executed with skill. The master-mind was Bavarian ambassador Charles de Spaur, ably assisted by Filipanni, the Pope’s valet in the Quirinal, and the French ambassador, the Duc d’Harcourt.   Spaur was to take the Pope to Gaeta, about 70 miles from Rome, and at that time within the Kingdom of Naples, from whence a Spanish ship would take him to the Balearic Isles, if he so wished.

  On November 24, 1848, Duc d’Harcourt visited the Pope and spent considerable time in the library, behind closed doors, reading out news in a loud voice, while in reality the Pope was otherwise engaged being dressed by Filippani in the clothes of a simple priest. Filippani then conducted Pius down a secret passage leading to a courtyard where a carriage awaited them, which was then driven to the church of SS. Pietro e Marcellino, where Spaur replaced Filippani. They then drove out past St John Lateran and through the Lateran gate, and made for the Alban hills where the Countess Spaur and her youngest son, and a monk, Liebel, were waiting.
          At Aricia, Countess Spaur and her son, in a large 'Berlin' coach, joined the Count and the Pope, whom they found chatting with an unsuspecting group of Carabinieri. The journey was then continued, with the Count and a servant up beside the driver, and the Pope and the Countess inside, with opposite them the monk and the boy. The Pope later disclosed that he carried on his person, the Blessed Sacrament in the same ciborium used by Pius VI when carried captive by Napoleon into France.

                        Gaeta Castle - residence of Pope Pius IX 1848-50

             Arriving at Gaeta, where they were joined by Cardinal Antonelli, the Pope and his friends could only find accommodation at the ‘Giardinetto Hotel’, a modest establishment where only the Pope had a room to himself. Count Spaur left to take word to King Ferdinand at Naples, while Antonelli with a companion, went off to see the governor of the castle. They were challenged by a German guard as to their identity, but neither was fluent in German, thus immediately arousing suspicion, resulting in the 'Giardinetto Hotel' being placed under police observation. Fortunately King Ferdinand and his suite arrived the following day, and offered the Pope use of the royal palace at Gaeta, which he was pleased to accept.        

           On leaving Rome, the Pope had left a written note accepting full responsibility for his escape and exonerating his personal staff from any blame, explaining that his departure had been necessary in order that he be free to perform the duties of his Pontificate. He directed that the Government be put in the charge of Cardinal Castracane and six others, five of them laymen, which included General Zucchi.
              The Premier Galletti, refused to accept the legality of Castracane’s position,  and with others, set up a Junta on December 12, which published a decree on December 29 calling for a Roman Constituent Assembly, comprising two hundred members, to be elected by direct and universal suffrage, which was to meet at Rome on February 5. Thus was put into effect the doctrine of 'popular sovereignty', the sovereignty of the will of the people, taught by Rousseau, and practised first by the French Revolution in 1792. It was part of the dogma of Mazzini, whose party, through the political clubs, was daily becoming more powerful in Rome.
            The Junta offended many of the moderates, and all except one of the Governors of the Papal States resigned. According to a British naval Commander, Commander Key, in Rome at that time, there existed, 
“a nearly universal desire for the Pope’s return. The feeling now existing against the Constituent, though but little expressed in the provinces from want of union, and in Rome for fear of the troops, is not the less general, and is very evident from the sullenness with which it has been received, and the refusal to join in any rejoicings for its adoption.”
            The Pope’s reply to the proclamation was swift and sweeping, condemning those responsible for the violence, the sacrileges, and the proclamation, as  ......
‘that same gang of madmen which is still tyrannising, with a barbarous despotism, over Rome and the States of the Church’, and excommunicating those leaders of the Risorgimento who had participated in the elections called by the provisional government for the Constituent Assembly in Rome. Furthermore the Pope laid ‘a strict inhibition upon you, of whatever class or condition, against taking any part in any meetings which may audaciously be held for the nominations of persons to be sent to the Assembly we have condemned.”
            The result of this inhibition was reflected in the poll, although in Rome 23,000 out of 60,000 voted, far fewer voted in the provinces. At Sinigaglia, the Pope’s birthplace, only 200 voted out of 27,000.  Overall, apparently the votes cast included some for the Pope, some for the General of the Jesuits, and some for St Peter.
The down-side of the Pope’s condemnation was that loyal Catholics and political moderates were now estranged from government, with the way left open for an influx of Mazzinians.

         The initial meeting was held on February 5, 1849, followed by a second meeting on February 9,  when the Assembly voted  to end  the temporal power of the Pope, and to establish  a ‘pure democracy’ to be called the Republic of Rome. 
         On February 18, Cardinal Antonelli issued from Gaeta, on behalf of the Pope, a formal appeal to France, Austria, Spain and Naples, to intervene to restore the rule of the Supreme Pontiff.

                                                                         Pope Pius IX

 The Catholic powers were slow and reluctant to move, especially as the two most likely to become involved, France and Austria, were at enmity with each other. On the other side, Republicans from all over Italy were pouring into Rome. Garibaldi with his legion, the Polish legion of revolutionaries from Lombardy, the Lombard ‘Bersaglieri’, and other disparate groups, making Rome the rallying place for what would today be called the ‘International Brigade’.
             Garibaldi’s men were mistrusted and feared.  Garibaldi himself had little political sense, and was animated primarily by a fanatical hatred of what he conceived to be tyranny, and of the Church. However he was not an inspirational leader, and for that the Assembly turned to Giuseppe Mazzini, who  on February 12, was granted Roman citizenship, with a further  decree that all  laws and proclamations should be issued ‘in the name of God and the People’ – Mazzini’s own motto.
                                                      Giuseppe Mazzini  (1805-1872)

 By March 29, Mazzini had been elected Triumvir of Rome. The historian Farini, witness to events, records that -
“though the people, of course, continued sovereign, and the Assembly was called sovereign too, the Triumvirs were made sovereigns over both, or rather in fact Mazzini became the autocrat. In the end of March, then, began the absolute sway of Mazzini …. the Roman revolution evolved a new form, or rather took on its preconceived and true form; it became incarnate in Mazzini
    Those who contend that the issue fought out between Mazzini and Pope Pius at Rome in 1849, was not a religious struggle, a struggle between the Church and her enemies, because it was concerned only with the political fate of the Papal States, ignore the attitude of the principal protagonists on either side in the drama. These were the Pope with Antonelli; and Mazzini with Garibaldi.

    The Pope’s refusal to separate the spiritual from the temporal sovereignty,was based on the conviction that the States of the Church were the patrimony of St Peter, the material means given to the Papacy by God to defend its spiritual independence. He was convinced of his religious duty to hand on the patrimony, unweakened, to his successor. 
In his allocution of April 20, 1849, (Quibus Quantisque) issued from Gaeta, he explicitly condemned those who suggested that the abrogation of the temporal power would serve the liberty and good of the Church.

    Equally certainly Mazzini held no merely political view of the contest. For him a political reawakening or revolution assumed a religious significance which he made clear on being chosen as First Triumvir, when he announced that the Roman Republic was,
 “to prove to Italy and to Europe that our cry of ‘God and the People’ is not a lie; that our work is eminently religious, a work of education and morality”
    However, less than a month later, replying to a message of congratulation from the new Republican Assembly at Paris, he wrote, 
‘You citizens, have understood all that is great, noble and providential in this flag of regeneration floating above the city that encircles the Capitol and the Vatican, a new consecration of eternal right; a third world arising upon the ruins of two worlds extinct’. 
 The first of these two extinct worlds was the Roman Empire, and the second was the Catholic Church. 

                                         Flag of the Roman Republic 1849

Mazzini conceived Progress as evidence of God’s working in Humanity.  To him the Mission of Catholicism had been accomplished by the time of the Reformation, that of Protestantism by the time of the French Revolution. The French Revolution had been the supreme affirmation of the free individual human spirit. The Faith of the Future was a collective faith in the destiny of Peoples, freely united as Nations.
     It was a persistent delusion of Mazzini’s that he could win over the priests.  It was not that the clergy were  conservative by inclination,  it was simply that they were Catholic, that Mazzini’s  ‘religion’ made no appeal, and that so far as Rome and the Papal State was concerned, they were quite sure that those lands belonged inalienably to the Church.

                 Abbe Lamennais (1782-1854) - French Catholic priest, one time leader of Liberal-Catholics, separating from the Church late in life.

 Mazzini believed that,
'in our epoch, humanity will forsake the Pope, and have recourse to a General Council of the Church - that is to say of all believers- a council which will be alike, Council of the Church and Constituent Assembly’ (letter to Abbe Lammenais)

    Writing later to an acquaintance, he  criticizes Lamennais for his earlier strong loyalty to the Church, suggesting that if he had not worn himself out in the process, he .... 

‘would have been led by the force of his logic and of his instincts to deny the divinity of Christ and thus to bring back Christ into humanity, and not humanity in to Him; that is the first approach to the Faith of humanity, in which I believe.”
    In the above letter, Mazzini defines the difference between his own revolutionary faith, with its Saint-Simonian,  Carbonari, and Masonic origins, and the Christian revolutionary faith of the Liberal-Catholics of his generation.

                                                     Vincenzo Gioberti   (1801-1852)

 Vincenzo Gioberti, at this time the foremost of  Italian Liberal-Catholics, was born in Turin, and although an ordained priest, had in 1833 resigned as chaplain to  the Piedmontese King, Charles Albert, because his philosophical statements had given rise to doubts about his orthodoxy.  He nevertheless remained loyal to the Church until his death in 1851.

As a young man, his zealous patriotism and his acquaintance with Mazzini and Young Italy’, a new society plotting revolution in Piedmont and the Romagna, led him to be exiled from Italy in 1833, not returning until 1848 when the political situation became more favourable.
Shortly after the Pope’s flight to Gaeta,  Gioberti  became Premier of Sardinia-Piedmont, but his views  on ‘Risorgimento’ had changed. He believed in liberty, but he saw the Church as the surest guarantee of this. He wanted an Italian civilisation emancipated from the arbitrary tyranny of the Princes, and of Austria; but an Italy free from the sovereignty of the People, that notion which Mazzini had inherited from Rousseau. He saw the Church and the Papacy as the ‘chief glory’, almost the ‘raison d’etre’, of Italy, and to them she must look for regeneration. Through the Church, Italy had civilised the west; the Papacy was her richest asset, the closest bond of union between all Italians. If Italy was to become a political reality, it was inevitable that the Pope should take the lead.

He made a desperate attempt to reconcile Pope Pius with the revolutionaries at Rome, hoping to forestall Mazzini and lay the basis for an Italian federation. He sent two envoys to Gaeta to offer the Pope his services, but it was too late.  The Pope had not forgotten that the Piedmontese ambassador had chosen to remain in Rome after he had fled to Gaeta, also that the Piedmontese government had earlier opposed his own plans for an Italian federation. The political instability at Turin created uncertainty, and the request for assistance to those governments trusted by the Pope, and Turin was not included, was already in hand.

Gioberti thus found himself estranged from Mazzini, from the Pope, and from the military party at Turin, and in desperation, in February 1849, endeavoured unsuccessfully to persuade King Charles Albert to back a Piedmontese military intervention in Central Italy. Gioberti was driven as much, if not more by his ideal of a united federal Italy, than by his loyalty to the Pope, although his loyalty to the Church was not in question. Failure forced Gioberti's  resignation, thus ending all hope of a federal Italy with a President-Pope, and all hope of solving the Italian problem in accordance with the tenets of Liberal-Catholicism. 

'Pio Nono' by E.E.Y.Hales.  London 1954 Eyre and Spottiswoode.
'Pius IX' by Roberto de Mattei.  Gracewing Publications

(to be continued)