About Fraternity – Catholic Herald – Bible Type

About Fraternity – Catholic Herald

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It is interesting for historians to note that the brotherhood advocated by Pope Francis in Fratelli Tutti was an idea that his nineteenth-century predecessors loathed. Fraternity, liberty and equality had been demanded by the French revolutionaries in 1789 and had led to the slaughter of nuns and priests, an attempted genocide against the Catholic population of the Vendée and the destruction of the Church in France.

After Napoleon's final defeat in Waterloo, Pope Pius VII once again became the absolute ruler of Rome and the papal states. Not a blind conservative by nature – as Bishop of Immola he had said that democracy was compatible with Catholicism – he nonetheless believed that after the horrors of the French Revolution, for the sake of order, Rome should support the reunification of the establishment of traditional monarchies, which in turn supported the Church – the alliance between throne and altar. A privileged position was restored to the nobility, frustrating the ambitions of the growing educated middle class. In Rome, those Italians who had profited from Napoleon's rule were pushed aside by returned emigrants, regardless of whether they lacked the merits or talents of the former.

Aside from the fear of further revolutions, there was the obsessive conviction of Pius VII and his successors that the independence of the Church depends on her absolute rule over a substantial part of the Italian peninsula, the Papal States. This, too, prompted them to support the reactionary rulers and condemn insurrections, even if they originate from Catholics who were subjected to the rule of non-Catholic regimes by the Vienna settlement. When Pius VII died in 1820, he was taken over by Leo XII. Released. "A simple, pious man," dismissed Leo Pius & # 39; s liberal foreign minister, Cardinal Consalvi; to stop the introduction of lay members into the administration of the Papal States; and once again confined Rome's Jews to the ghetto. He railed against Freemasonry, heresy and religious indifference, but negotiated concordats with Protestant powers; and when the Catholics in the former Spanish Netherlands rose against their Protestant king in 1830, the Pope did not support them. In the same year. The Catholic Poles rose up against the Orthodox Tsar Nicholas: Rome asked the Polish clergy to preach to their flock that they would submit to the Russian overlord.

The hope that the Church could regain its position under the ancien regime and Napoleon was no doubt frustrated. Pandora's box had been opened – not only by the French Revolution of 1789, but also by the American Revolution of 1766. Both had found that men could successfully overthrow their rulers – that sovereignty was not with the hereditary rulers but with the People lay. The idea of ​​equal worth of each individual was Christian: the difference between that

The Catholic Church and post-Enlightenment thinkers were whether these individuals could attain a level of perfection or whether they had irretrievably sunk into original sin.

Another new and powerful phenomenon that the pastors of the universal Church failed to recognize was nationalism. The battle cry of the ragged but all-conquering armies of French revolutionaries was "freedom, equality, fraternity" and, under Napoleon, "la gloire"; but it was also "la patrie" – the nation – and this was contagious, especially among the Prussians. The popes felt no sympathy for the many Italians who rejected Austrian rule over Lombardy and Veneto: after all, Hungarians, Ruthenians and Serbs belonged to the Austrian Empire. In the event of unrest, it was also useful to have Austrian troops directly over the northern border of the Papal States. It was in keeping with the papacy that the secret societies that arose during the French occupation – the “charcoal burners” or Carbonari – were no better to be viewed as bandits; and the ardent supporters of an Italian nation like Giuseppe Mazzini, the founder of "Young Italy", or Mazzini's student Giuseppe Garibaldi, no better than Danton or Robespierre.

The failure of the church to adapt its policies to the new spirit of liberalism culminated in the condemnation of "progress, liberalism and modern civilization" by Pope Pius IX. Erroneous, even embarrassing, in his Curriculum of Errors of 1864, viewed as paranoid by Catholics in later centuries; But the eradication of Christian values ​​among Europeans was to lead to atrocities in the next century that exceeded those of Jacobean France. We should be careful when accepting slogans. Brotherhood has different meanings for different people at different times.

Piers Paul Read

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