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.
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)