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The Papacy page 3

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Rome has entered on a mortal contest with forces which are universal, ineradicable, irresistible. She has undertaken to arrest and turn back the mightiest power upon the earth. She has announced resistance to the laws of Providence - silent, patient, but undeviating. Nothing less than shameful defeat can result from such an enterprise. The nations which own her sway cannot now be barred from increase of intelligence - cannot therefore be prevented from contemning as ascertained, foolishness the counsels on whose behalf she asserts infallibility. If Home is unable to reconcile herself to modern civilization, her decline and fall are inevitable.

Just as this great victory was gained, it became known to his holiness that France, "with a light heart," had declared. war against Prussia. In quick succession there came tidings of unparalleled disaster to the "eldest son" of the church. The strong arm was broken which had so long maintained the patrimony of St. Peter against the encroachments of "Satan, his satellites and his sons." The holy father's extremity was Satan's opportunity. The Italian government sent an army to possess the ancient capital. The pope would not voluntarily relinquish any portion of the church's possessions, and a gentle cannonade was found to be necessary. The troops entered Home by a breach which their artillery created.

The people were invited to choose whether they would be ruled by the pope or the king. They were practically unanimous (The numbers were one hundred and thirty-three thousand six hundred and eighty-one to one thousand five hundred and seven. Ever since, the Romans keep holiday on the anniversary of the plebiscite, in joyful commemoration of their great deliverance) in rejecting priestly government and joining themselves to their countrymen. The rights of the pope as the spiritual chief of a large body of Christians were scrupulously conserved. There was guaranteed to him an income of nearly one hundred and fifty thousand pounds sterling. The Vatican - a palace with eleven thousand apartments - was assigned to him as a place of residence. He was endowed with certain ecclesiastical buildings, as beseemed the establishment of a spiritual prince. His free exercise of his own proper sovereign functions was secured. But every shred of temporal sovereignty had now departed. On the closing day of the year Victor Emanuel entered Rome - once more the capital of united Italy.

Defeats came thick on the infallible pontiff, whose lofty pretensions the blinded nations treated with cruel disregard. His clergy, fired by the consciousness of a chief to whom error was impossible, went forth with quickened zeal to reclaim the allegiance of backsliding Europe. They pursued this arduous enterprise in Prussia as elsewhere. In that country the church enjoyed rights of inspection and superintendence of schools, and the priests used the opportunity with undue vigour for the purposes of proselytism. The work was full of peril, but to the servants of an infallible power fear was unknown. Prince Bismarck met their indiscreet zeal by a law which withdrew from the church and transferred to the state the supervision of all educational institutions and the appointment of all inspectors of schools. The Vatican highly resented this diminution of its prerogatives. Many hard words were lavished on the king, "the modern Diocletian," and Bismarck, "his bloodthirsty minister." The church necessarily regarded with disfavour the great revolution which had cast down France and consolidated Germany under a Protestant chief. She was not reluctant to wage war with the newly established order which was so hostile to her own principles and interests. The German clergy were soon in arms against the state, striving by every means to weaken the authority of the government and to conquer Germany for the pope.

Prince Bismarck did not shrink from the inevitable contest. The Jesuits, whose mischievous political intrigue has been for centuries a standing menace to government, were expelled from the German empire. And then there was enacted in Prussia a code of laws for the regulation of ecclesiastical affairs. Prussia endows a Catholic as well as a Protestant Church; and as the priests could not dispense with their incomes, they were well within reach of the arm of the state. Dr. Falck, the minister of public worship, introduced the new laws, which have since been called by his name. The aspirant to a clerical office must study theology for three years at a German state university, and must pass a state examination in science. The royal tribunal might forbid his appointment should his acquirements seem defective or his loyalty to the government doubtful. For offences against public order he might be dismissed from his office by the state authorities. Ecclesiastical discipline was not to be exercised excepting by German ecclesiastical authorities, and every punishment, excepting the most trivial, must be reported to the appropriate state official. Intimidation of electors, an offence to which Homish ecclesiastics are prone, was punishable by fine or imprisonment. A Prussian who chose dissent might now free himself from his obligations of membership in the state churches by a simple declaration before the judge of his district. In all ecclesiastical causes the decision of the royal tribunal was final.

Rome denounced, as "impious and satanic," laws which curbed so sternly her injurious pretensions. The pope declared them void, and excommunicated all clergy who yielded obedience. But none the less for his objurgation were the laws enforced with a salutary vigour which all but extreme Romanists approved.

A year or two later another blow was struck by Prussia at ecclesiastical domination. Marriage was declared to be a mere civil contract. The church was at liberty to attach to it any religious ceremonial which she might deem appropriate, but her operations were no longer of legal significance. Nor was this defection confined to Prussia. In Italy, in Austria, and in France, marriage, ceasing to be a sacrament of the church, has become merely a civil contract.

Pio Nono survived for nearly eight years the loss of his temporal sovereignty. His closing years were full of trouble. From the windows of the Vatican he could see, on the Quirinal, the flag of that reprobate king who had stripped the church of her patrimony. He could see also a scarcely less offensive sight - the depot whence an English Bible Society supplied openly copies of the Scriptures to the Roman people. He never quitted the Vatican, and persisted in speaking of himself as a prisoner. He refused to accept < the income which the Italian government offered, choosing that the dignity of his office should be upheld by the free contributions of the faithful. He had once before said of himself, - "I am weak; I have no resource upon earth; I tranquillize myself by confiding in God." At length, after lingering into extreme and burdensome age, he passed away.

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