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Chapter XXXVIII, of Cassells Illustrated History of England, Volume 9 page 2


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In reply to the petition of the five hundred bishops, a counter-petition was prepared by the opposition, and received a hundred and thirty-seven signatures, chiefly those of French, German, and Hungarian bishops. But the signers of this document - which was drawn up by Cardinal Rauscher - were careful not to commit themselves to an unconditional hostility to the dogma. They were content with pointing out the stumbling-blocks and dangers by which the question was surrounded, - the thorny controversies, supposed to be long since buried, which it would disinter and quicken into a disastrous activity, - and the as yet unresolved difficulties which passages in the history of the Papacy opposed to the belief in its infallibility.

The controversy, both in and out of the Council, waxed hotter and hotter, especially when the Infallibilists, emboldened it would seem by the hesitating and qualified character of the opposition, as expressed in the counter- petition, brought in, in March, and annexed to the three chapters of the Schema De Ecclesia already submitted, the celebrated fourth chapter, containing the dogma itself, fully formulated. But for the moment discussion ran upon the Constitution De Fide, which was rapidly approaching maturity. The opposition required, and finally with success, material alterations in that portion of the preamble which said so many hard things of Protestantism. The eloquent Bishop Strossmayer, in the course of a memorable speech which he delivered on the 22nd March, said: " With regard to Rationalism, I conceive the venerable Commission to have been in error, when, in drawing up the genealogy of Naturalism, Materialism, Pantheism, Atheism, &c., &c., they asserted that all these errors were the offspring of Protestantism.... The errors above named are, not to ourselves only, but to the Protestants as well, objects of horror and abomination, so that they are of service and assistance to the Church and to us Catholics in opposing and refuting them. Thus Leibnitz, certainly, was a learned and in every respect eminent man, - a man just in his judgment of the institutions of the Catholic Church, - a man of excellent intentions and deserts in restoring concord among Christian communities. These men, of whom there are many in Germany, in England, and in North America, are followed by a multitude among the Protestants, to whom may be applied those words of the great Augustine: 'They err, but they err in good faith; they are heretics, but they hold us for heretics.' They did not themselves invent their error, but they inherited it from perverse parents who had been led into error; and they are prepared to lay down their error so soon as they shall be convinced of it. If these men do not belong to the body of the Church, they belong to its soul, and in a certain measure they participate in the benefits of redemption. In the love they bear to our Lord Jesus Christ, and in those positive truths which they have saved from the shipwreck of their faith, they possess so many particles of divine grace, which the mercy of God will make use of to bring them back to their first faith and to the Church, if we do not by our exaggerations and our short-sighted breaches of charity towards them retard the time of the divine mercy." The speaker met with frequent interruptions and cries of disapproval from the majority during the utterance of these bold and generous sentiments. In the end, the offensive preamble was withdrawn, and a new one drawn up which the minority could agree to. The Constitution De Fide was adopted unanimously in the public session of the 24th April, all the bishops present voting placet, but eighty- three adding the words " juxta modum," by which was meant that the signer adhered to the constitution in a particular sense attached by himself to its terms, and not in any other sense. Strossmayer alone absented himself from the voting.

The Constitution De Fide being now out of the way, that De Ecclesia, with its new fourth chapter, was pushed forward with the greatest ardour. The opposition resorted to the press, and several remarkable pamphlets by men of note appeared. One of these was by the learned Hefele, lately appointed Bishop of Rottenburg; it was a discussion of the well-known case of Pope Honorius, condemned for heresy by Pope Agatho and a council in the year 680. Other brochures on the same side were written by Dupanloup, Bishop of Orleans, the Cardinals Rauscher and Schwarzenberg, and Archbishop Kenrick of St. Louis. The first meeting for the discussion of the Constitution Be Ecclesia was held on the 14th May, and the debate was continued during three weeks. The principal speakers in support of the dogma were, Cardinal Patrizi, Cardinal Cullen, the Archbishop of Malines, and Moreno, the Cardinal Archbishop of Valladolid. One of the most able and effective speeches was that of Dr. Cullen, who endeavoured to convict Hefele of self-contradiction, by contrasting the conclusions of his late pamphlet with the account given of Pope Honorius in his Church History. Darboy, the Archbishop of Paris, made an earnest and powerful speech against the decree; and Simor, the Primate of Hungary, Jussuf, the Patriarch of Antioch, and Dr. MacHale, of Tuam, spoke on the same side. The discussion dragged on wearily. June arrived, and with it the burning heat and the unwholesome air of a Roman summer, and still the names of forty-nine bishops were inscribed, as desiring to take part in the discussion. At this point the majority exercised their right of closing the debate - what is called in France la cloture - and the general discussion was brought abruptly to an end on the 3rd June. Several weeks were then consumed in the consideration of the chapters, paragraph by paragraph. The voting on the fourth chapter, that enunciating the dogma, came on the 13th July. As finally settled, the definition was expressed in the following terms: -

"We teach and define that it is a dogma -divinely revealed; that the Roman Pontiff, when he speaks ex cathedra, that is, when in discharge of the office of Pastor and Teacher of all Christians, by virtue of his supreme apostolic authority, he defines a doctrine regarding faith or morals to be held by the universal Church, through the divine assistance promised to him in St. Peter, is strong [pollere] with that infallibility with which the divine Redeemer willed His Church to be furnished in defining doctrine concerning faith or morals, and that, therefore, such definitions of the Roman Pontiff are irreformable of themselves, and not from the consent of the Church."

On this definition the Council voted in the general congregation of the 13th July, and with the following result: 400placet, 88 non placet, and 61 placet juxta modum. About seventy others, though in Rome, abstained from voting. It was now a question with the minority what course they should take. Cardinal Rauscher proposed that they should all wait [for the public session, which had been fixed for the 25th July, and then vote non placet in the presence of the Pope. But more pacific counsels prevailed. A letter was prepared on the 17th inst., and signed by 110 bishops, in which, after adverting to the particulars of the voting on the 13th, they declared to the Pope that their hostility to the definition of the dogma remained unchanged, and that by the present writing they confirmed their previous suffrages, but that, nevertheless, out of respect and affection for his Holiness they had determined not to stay and vote openly, and " in facie patris," in a question so nearly concerning the person of the Pope. The bishops of the minority, accordingly, took their departure from Rome.

The turmoil caused by the approach of war led to the anticipation of the date which had been fixed for the public session. On the 18th July, the Pope himself presiding, the Constitution De Ecclesia, which included the definition of infallibility, was put to the vote and received 533 placets, and two non placets. The negative votes were given by Riccio, Bishop of Cajazzo, and Fitzgerald, Bishop of Little Rock, in the state of Arkansas in the United States. The Pope then read out the constitution to the assembled fathers, and confirmed it. During the reading a violent storm of thunder and lightning burst over St. Peter's, and the darkness became so great that the Pope was obliged to send for a candle. Little or no excitement was visible among the Romans; the Ambassadors of France, Prussia, and Austria pointedly stayed away.

An analysis of the eighty-eight negative votes in the general congregation of the 13th July, shows that thirty- two of them were given by German, Austrian, or Hungarian prelates, twenty-four by French, and seven by Oriental bishops. Two were Irish (Drs. MacHale and Moriarty, Bishop of Kerry); two English (Yaughan, Bishop of Plymouth, and Clifford, Bishop of Clifton); one Colonial (Conolly, Archbishop of Halifax), and five North Americans. Six Italian bishops, six bishops in partibus, and three whose names could not be ascertained, complete the list.

The importance of the definition of infallibility was considered by (politicians and lay society in general to consist, not so much in the assertion and claim which the mere words of the decree contain, as in the retrospective force which it might be used to impart to Papal decisions dating from the Middle Ages, at a time when the power and pretensions of the Holy See were almost unbounded. If such a dogmatic utterance, for instance, as the Bull Unam sanctam of Boniface YIIL, by which it was declared that " if the temporal power errs, it is judged by the spiritual," and that " there are two swords - the spiritual and the temporal;... both are in the power of the Church;... the former that of priests, the latter that of kings and soldiers, to be wielded at the good pleasure and by the allowance of the priest," - if such a Papal declaration, and others of a similar kind to be found in the Roman Bullarium, were held to be ex cathedra, and therefore infallibly true, what a prospect was opened for the non-Roman Catholic sovereigns of Roman Catholic subjects should the new definition come to be generally accepted by the human conscience throughout the Roman Catholic world! It is this alarming prospect which explains the subsequent conduct of the North German Government, and also of the Federal Government of Switzerland. The Roman Catholic population in North Germany amounts to twelve or fourteen millions; in Switzerland it forms nearly one half of the total population of the Republic; it is, therefore, of the utmost importance to the Protestant Governments of both countries that the doctrine supported by the majority at the Vatican Council, involving possible practical applications of the gravest character, should be discountenanced and repressed wherever the influence of the State extends.

So far as it was connected with temporal power, the supremacy asserted for the Pope by the Constitution De Ecclesia was about to receive a notable check and diminution. The Lanzi Ministry, which was at this time in power in Italy, was disquieted all through the spring and early summer by the seditious threats and speeches of the Republicans and Garibaldians. In August, Mazzini, who was known to be the brain and soul of the Republican movement, was arrested at Palermo while wearing a disguise, and placed in confinement at Gaeta. The declaration of war between France and Prussia had been speedily followed by an announcement (July 27), on the part of the Ollivier Government, that France would withdraw all her troops from Rome, and this was soon after effected. The Opposition in the Italian Parliament immediately began to attack the September Convention, and to urge the occupation of Rome; but Signor Lanzi replied that the Convention was still binding, and must be adhered to. But in September, after the fall of the Empire and the Regency, the Italian Government could not afford to overlook the opportunity which the prostration of France afforded, of extending a kingdom which was itself in so large a measure the child of revolution, by a further application of those revolutionary means, of which the violence of the democrats and the weakness of the Pope alike suggested the application. Already, on the 6th September, the Chevalier Nigra sounded Jules Favre on the possibility of obtaining the approval and sanction of the new French Government to the King of Italy taking possession of Rome. M. Favre, though not personally opposed to the measure, was too well acquainted with the feeling which prevailed in France on the subject to give the slightest official countenance to the act, of the imminence of which Nigra informed him. On the 8th September, the King addressed a letter to Pius IX., fulsome in its expressions of affection to the person and reverence for the office of the Pontiff, in which, grounding his determination on the critical condition of Italy, and also on the presence of foreigners among the troops composing the Papal army, he announced his intention to send Italian troops into the Roman territory, who should occupy those positions which should be " indispensable for the security of your Holiness," and for the maintenance of order.

Count Ponza di San Martino waited on the Pope, on the 10th September, with the King's letter, and, according to his instructions, offered the following terms: That the Pope should retain full sovereignty over the Leonine city (that part of Rome which lies on the right bank of the Tiber) and all ecclesiastical institutions in Rome; that the income of the Pope, the cardinals, and all the Papal officials, should remain unchanged; that the Papal debt should be guaranteed; and the Roman Catholic clergy throughout Italy should be freed from Government control. Those terms Pius IX. refused to accept.

An Italian army of 50,000 men, under the command of General Cadorna, crossed the Roman frontier on the 11th September, occupied Viterbo without resistance, and directed its march on Rome. In the course of the 17th and the two following days the city was completely invested. The total strength of the Papal army did not exceed 12,000 men, and the Italian portion of these could not be entirely depended upon. The Pope resolved that just so much resistance should be offered as would make it evident that he yielded only to force, and that his troops should then capitulate, in order that useless bloodshed might be prevented. Writing to General Kanzler, the commander of the Pontifical forces, on the 19th September, he said, "So far as regards the duration of the defence, I feel it my duty to command that it shall only consist in such a protest as shall testify to the violence done to us, and nothing more; in other words, that negotiations for a surrender shall be opened so soon as a breach shall have been made." At five o'clock on the morning of the 20th September the Italian batteries opened fire, General Bixio, on the west side, conducting the attack against the Porta San Pancrazio, while Cadorna himself, on the north-east, directed the principal attack against the Porta Pia. The Papal Zouaves made a vigorous defence; but after the cannonade had continued nearly five hours, a practicable breach was effected in the wall near the Porta Pia, and preparations were made for a storm. In compliance with the Pope's orders, the white flag was then hoisted, and the command passed along the ramparts to cease firing. A capitulation was soon agreed to, by which possession of the city was given up to the Italian forces. The Zouaves bivouacked that night in the Piazza of St. Peter's; in the morning, as they were preparing to march off, Pius IX. appeared at a window of the Vatican, to bid a last farewell to the defenders of his temporal throne. The soldiers shouted loud vivas for the "Papa e Re," and then knelt to receive the Pontifical blessing, after giving which Pius " raised his arms to heaven, and then buried his face in his hands." The Zouaves were then marched out of the city by the Porta San Pancrazio, and laid down their arms; after which they were sent by rail to Civita Vecchia, and thence to Genoa, in order that from that seaport they might regain the countries to which they respectively belonged. The brave Colonel Charrette bade farewell to his English and Irish friends among the Zouaves, saying that, as there was no further possibility of defending the Pope, his duty called him to France, to fight for the defence of his country.

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Pictures for Chapter XXXVIII, of Cassells Illustrated History of England, Volume 9 page 2

St. Peters and the Vatican
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Cardinal Antonelli
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Departure of the Papal Zouaves
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