Page images

walls of Rome was occupied by the Sardinians, and everywhere a direct hostility to the Church and its head was shown in the seizure of sacred property, the dispersion of religious communities and the disfranchisement of all who remained loyal to the real sovereign.

The title of the so-called kingdom of Italy to the usurped territory rests on no recognized principle of international law; it was not obtained by inheritance, cession, or conquest in lawful war. It was acquired by fraud and violence, and is maintained in defiance of all. France continued to occupy the city of Rome, with an avenue of ingress and egress, maintaining there the sovereignty of the Pope. When the Vatican Council was convened the house of Savoy made a display of its hypocrisy in a form so astonishing as scarcely to be credible. It asked the withdrawal of the French troops in order to ensure freedom in the action of the Council. Every one knew, of course, that the withdrawal of the French troops would have been followed by the immediate occupation of Rome by the troops of Victor Emmanuel, the dispersion of the Council, and the confinement of the Sovereign Pontiff to the Vatican, stripped of all authority in the Eternal City.

Napoleon III. had yielded much to the treacherous power which he had built up, but he would not renounce the traditional policy of France and weaken his own hold on his Catholic subjects by leaving Pius IX. at the mercy of Victor Emmanuel. But the time came when by his fatal plunge into war with Prussia he sealed the doom of his family, threw away the conquests of Louis XIV. and placed Prussia at the head of a new German empire, a perpetual menace to France. He saw France overrun by German armies, which he could not meet with forces equal in numbers, discipline, equipment, or commanders. He withdrew his troops from Rome. Italy never raised a finger to aid France, to which she owed her aggrandizement. She became the ally of the new German empire, and, as the French troops evacuated the city, moved on Rome. The Eternal City was taken by force and the last remnant of the Pontifical territory was annexed to what is called the kingdom of Italy. Pius IX. was a prisoner in the hands of Victor Emmanuel. The latter, indeed, issued a decree in which he stated: “The Sovereign Pontiff preserves his dignity, inviolability, and all the prerogatives of a sovereign.” “A special law will sanction the conditions proper to guarantee, even by territorial franchises, the independence of the Sovereign Pontiff and the free exercise of the spiritual authority of the Holy See.” The Papacy is of God, its independence is of God, its spiritual authority has the right to its free exercise from God, and it is not for any human authority to prescribe conditions or grant permission which implies the right to prevent its exercise.


We all know what followed. Although Pius IX. protested against the seizure of Rome, Victor Emmanuel left him only the Vatican. All other palaces and institutions were seized. The Bishop of Rome had less power in his own city than any Catholic bishop in England or the United States. The convents, colleges, and institutions which the Popes had created in Rome, all were seized. Even the houses of the generals of religious orders from which communities all over the world were, under the Sovereign Pontiff, directed and guided, were swept away; and this, the world was assured, was done to secure “the free exercise of the spiritual authority of the Holy See."

Yet, to keep up the farce, Victor Emmanuel and his subservient parliament passed, in March, 1871, what they called a law of guarantees. After declaring his person sacred and inviolable, and making any attempt against his person liable to the same punishment as any similar attempt against himself, Victor Emmanuel endeavored to make the Pope one of his menials by assigning him pay as he did his policemen and soldiers.

The powers which the Popes had of all time exercised thoughout Italy were not guaranteed, and though one article assured foreign nations that the Pope was to be free to exercise his spiritual authority, nothing emanating from the Holy See has been communicated to the people of Italy except under penalty of any punishment the government of Victor Emmanuel and Humbert might choose to inflict. They create the judges, the law, and the offence.

The ruin of the whole machinery of the government of the Church which ensued, the outrages on the Christian religion, the demolition of monuments hallowed by the most sacred associations, the erection of monuments insulting to the Popes and the Church, and, finally, the attempt to destroy the Catholic missions, throughout the world, by seizing the property of the Propaganda, are too well known to need repeating here in detail.

Emboldened by the impunity which has attended all its acts against the Sovereign Pontiff and the Church, and disregarding the protests of Pope Pius IX. and Pope Leo XIII., who have constantly refused to recognize or ratify the slightest one, this monarch and legislature, illegally seated in Rome, are now preparing another attack on the Church and its Head.

The bishops and clergy throughout Italy have been discharging their sacred duties to the best of their power, amid a host of difficulties, not the least being the encouragement given by government to infidel and socialistic societies, papers and meetings, all laboring to destroy the faith of the people, and alienate them from the practices of religion. The example of those in power no longer encourages the weak and less instructed; on the contrary,

it seems to justify all disregard of religion and morality. Catholic papers are constantly hampered in the diffusion of articles inculcating sound religion and morality, while every scurrility against faith and morals is permitted in the miscalled liberal journals that flood the country. Amid all this, the clergy have labored on with great prudence and zeal. They have done nothing to excite disturbance or discontent. They have preached patience and forbearance. The riots and disturbances all emanated from the socialistic and infidel element to which the government gave full liberty, until at last it finds that, weary of attacking the Pope, the clergy and religion, the socialists and infidels whose growth it has fostered begin to marshal their hosts for the overthrow of the so-called Italian monarchy. Hostile demonstrations against the government are constantly recurring. Indeed, a well-informed journal declares that scarcely a day passes without witnessing some hostile display against the Italian monarchy in one city or another, from Milan to Palermo. The tiara of the Roman Pontiffs is not more hateful to the eyes of this element than the royal arms have become.

The world was deluged for years with statements of the incapacity, extravagance and mediævalism of the Pontifical, Neapolitan and Ducal governments of Italy. If that peninsula could be placed under a united, liberal government, the blessings of the millennium would be anticipated by the happy inhabitants of the land, who, wisely ruled, would advance in education, morality and material development at a rate which had never been witnessed on our globe of great aspirations and petty results. What has been the result? This phantom kingdom of Italy has had opportunity, and abundant opportunity, to show its ability to elevate the masses and increase their happiness. It has had no enemy to contend with; it has been at war with no European power, except during the brief term when it appeared disgracefully as the ally of Prussia against Austria, a struggle in which she can record only defeat on land and sea. Yet it would be difficult to find in the world a government which has done less for the people subject to it than this very government of the kingdom of Italy. It has created nothing but an enormous army that drains the life-blood of the people, an expensive navy, increasing myriads of high and petty officials, and, notwithstanding its confiscation of all the religious property throughout the country, an overwhelming and constantly increasing debt. The people who, under the old governments, lived in peaceful competency by the cultivation of the soil, are now crushed and ground down by taxes of every kind, while the young men are drawn off to become corrupted and unfitted for work in the useless Italian army,—an army, created by the fears of the unwise rulers, not by any real necessity of the country. Poverty increases steadily; those of moderate means are reduced to penury; the prices of living increase steadily. With the enormous sums acquired by the sale of church property and the taxes wrung from the industrious and moral, what great work has this “liberal " government effected? We look in vain for the promised drainage of the Campagna, or any great engineering work to begin that scheme; we look in vain for the improvement of the rivers and harbors; in vain for any great institution of learning ; in vain for any great architectural work in Rome, which will tell future ages that the house of Savoy had control here during the latter half of the nineteenth century. They seem to know and to feel that Rome is not to be long their abiding place ; that they are there only to uproot and destroy, not to leave monuments of their grandeur. So frail, flimsy and discreditable are the tawdry structures reared in Rome by this government or under its impulse, that the very photographers are afraid or ashamed to depict them. All that is monumental dates back beyond the invasion of the northern barbarians. A well-governed country can, except its limits are extremely contracted, or the growth of population above the normal standard, retain its children within its own borders. A large, steady flow of people out of a country shows in most cases misgovernment. There must be tyranny, mismanagement or incompetency in the rulers. Fifty years ago there was no emigration from Italy. Now her people leave her fertile soil and glorious climate by ever-increasing thousands. To remain is to face starvation. With nearly a million of her sons drawn from productive labor to don the uniform of the army, there ought to be abundant employment for those not in the ranks; but this is not the case. The small farmers and peasants who could once live on their small holdings and lay up money, cannot make both ends meet by the utmost prudence, exertion and economy; artisans cannot find employment at their trade, and the thousands of unskilled laborers are kept in compulsory inactivity. Emigration is their only hope.

They are arriving on our shores at the rate of more than sixty thousand a year in the port of New York alone, and southern ports swell the number to a degree scarcely to be believed. And what a commentary do these immigrants present on the government under which they have lived for thirty years. You seek in vain for any evidence of public schools, of diffused education, of improved training in agriculture, mechanics, or manufactures. Nothing has been done to educate or elevate the masses, to advance hygienic conditions, to instil manliness, truth, honor, or religion. Even art is dead. There are copyists, but no great painters, or sculptors, or architects. In everything that tends to

increase the well-being of a people, this Italian government is the most amazing and pretentious failure of the nineteenth century. The land swarms with an impoverished and discontented population, who look to emigration, socialism, nihilism, anything in preference to a continuance of their present appalling condition.

Crime increases, and the Italian prime minister, Crispi, has introduced amendments to the present penal code. The hand of the liberal government is to be made heavier and heavier. While he dare not frame a single clause against the most dangerous and destructive communistic bodies, check their utterances in their open meetings, or the wildest outbursts in their papers, he can strike at the Pope and all who look up to him with reverence and respect. To do this he must set at naught all the principles which these “liberal” politicians have been for the last century upholding as inalienable rights of the people; they must deny the right of the people peacefully to petition the legislature for a redress of grievances, to remonstrate against legislation they may regard as unwise or oppressive; they must deny liberty of debate, freedom of speech, and freedom of the press; but Signor Crispi is ready to do all this, and make every one of these acts, which we regard as the heritage of a free citizen in a state, a crime to be punished with all the rigor of the law, even if it be necessary to mete out a punishment greater than that inflicted on the red-handed murderer. And this is the result of the revolutionary attempts to create a free Italy; it is, indeed, an “ Italia irredenta," bound hand and foot by a band of the most insignificant tyrants that ever ruled any portion of that peninsula.

But if the power of the Italian government is waning, if it dare not strike at anarchy and socialism, it is not so blind as not to see that the attachment to the Pope is strong throughout Italy, and on occasions asserts itself. It feels that if the true Catholics were to turn out in their strength at the polls, the government would find it difficult to carry a single measure through the legislature. The government lives in a manner by the non-action of the Church and those who believe in her divine mission. To terrorize the clergy is therefore the aim of Crispi. In his revision of the penal code, he proposes (Article 101) to punish with imprisonment for life any bishop or priest who, in writing or in any public address, advocates the restoration to the Sovereign Pontiff of any part of his former territory. A murderer in Italy generally escapes with twenty years' imprisonment, but here this minister of King Humbert proposes to punish with a life-long imprisonment any bishop or priest who advocates what Victor Emmanuel promised in his very first decree after occupying Rome. Humbert virtually arraigns his own father, who promised "to guarantee even by ter

« PreviousContinue »