Thus also M. de Brosses, if he could have returned to Rome in 1846, would have found there, by the admission of the Count de Rayneval himself, the worst government in Europe.
And thus the most absolute of governments, as M. de Tournon calls it, still existed in Rome in 1846.
Up to the 16th of June, 1846, Catholicity owned the six millions of acres of which the Roman territory consists; the Pope was the administrator, the guardian, the steward; and the citizens of the State seem to have been the ploughmen.
Up to this era of deliverance, a systematic despotism had deprived the subjects of the Pope, not only of all participation in public affairs, but of the simplest and most legitimate liberties, of the most innocuous progress, and even—I shudder as I write it—of recourse to the laws. The whim of one man had arbitrarily reversed the decisions of the courts of law. And lastly, an incapable and disorderly caste had wasted the public finances without rendering an account to any one, occasionally even without rendering it to themselves. All these statements must be believed, because it is the Count de Rayneval who makes them.
Before proceeding, I maintain that this state of things, now admitted by the apologists of the Papacy, justifies all the discontent of the subjects of the Pope, all their complaints, all their recriminations, all their outbreaks previous to 1846.
But let me ask this question. Is it true that, since 1846, the Papal Government has ceased to be the worst in Europe?
If you can show me a worse, I will go and announce the discovery at Rome, and I rather fancy I shall considerably astonish the Romans.
Is the absolute authority of the Papacy limited in any way but by the individual virtues of the Pope? No.
Does the Constitution of 1848, or the Motu Proprio of 1849, set limits to this authority? No. The first has been torn up, the second never observed.
Has the Pope renounced his title of administrator, or irresponsible guardian of the patrimony of Catholicism? Never.
Is the management of public affairs exclusively in the hand of prelates? As much so as ever.
Are the higher posts in the State still by law interdicted to laymen? Not by law, but in fact they are.
Are the different powers still confounded in practice? More so than they ever were. The governors of cities act as judges, and the bishops as public administrators.
Has the Pope abandoned any portion of his infallibility as to worldly matters? None whatever.
Has he deprived himself of the right of overruling the decisions of the Courts of Appeal? No.
Has the Cardinal Secretary of State ceased to be a reigning Minister? He reigns as absolutely as ever; and the other ministers are more like footmen than clerks to him. They may be seen any morning waiting in his antechamber.