ABSOLUTE CHARACTER OF THE TEMPORAL POWER OF THE POPE.
The Counsellor de Brosses, who wished no harm to the Pope, wrote in 1740:—“The Papal Government, although in fact the worst in Europe, is at the same time the mildest.”
The Count de Tournon, an honest man, an excellent economist, a Conservative as to all existing powers, and a judge rather too much prejudiced in favour of the Popes, said, in 1832:—
“From this concentration of the powers of pontiff, bishop, and sovereign, naturally arises the most absolute authority possible over temporal affairs; but the exercise of this authority, tempered by the usages and forms of government, is even still more so by the virtues of the Pontiffs who for many years have filled the chair of St. Peter; so that this most absolute of governments is exercised with extreme mildness. The Pope is an elective sovereign; his States are the patrimony of Catholicism, because they are the pledge of the independence of the chief of the faithful, and the reigning Pope is the supreme administrator, the guardian of this domain.”
Finally, the Count de Rayneval, the latest and least felicitous apologist of the Papacy, made in 1856 the following admissions:—
“Not long ago the ancient traditions of the Court of Rome were faithfully observed. All modifications of established usages, all improvements, even material, were viewed with an evil eye, and seemed full of danger. Public affairs were exclusively managed by prelates. The higher posts in the State were by law interdicted to laymen. In practice the different powers were often confounded. The principle of pontifical infallibility was applied to administrative questions. The personal decision of the Sovereign had been known to reverse the decision of the tribunals, even in civil matters. The Cardinal Secretary of State, first minister in the fullest extent of the term, concentred in his own hands all the powers of the State. Under his supreme direction the different branches of the administration were confided to clerks rather than ministers. These neither formed a council, nor deliberated together upon the affairs of the State. The public finances were administered in the most profound secrecy. No information was communicated to the nation as to the mode in which its revenues were spent. Not only did the budget remain a mystery, but it was afterwards discovered that the accounts were frequently not made up and balanced. Lastly, municipal liberties, which are appreciated above all others by the Italians, and which more particularly respond to their real tendencies, had been submitted to the most restrictive measures. But from the day on which Pope Pius IX. ascended the throne” etc. etc.
Thus we find that the not long ago of the Count de Rayneval is an exact date. It means, in good French, “before the election of Pius IX.,” or again, “up to the 16th of June, 1846.”