The Roman Question eBook

Edmond François Valentin About
This eBook from the Gutenberg Project consists of approximately 233 pages of information about The Roman Question.

As for the general expenses of the Roman Catholic worship, which in point of fact no more specially concern the Romans than they do the Champenois, a voluntary contribution made by one hundred and thirty-nine millions of men would amply provide for them.  If each individual among the faithful were to give a halfpenny per annum, the head of the Church would have something like L300,000 to spend upon his wax tapers and his incense, his choristers and his sacristans, and the repairs of the basilica of St. Peter’s.  No Roman Catholic would think of refusing his quota, because the Holy Father, entirely separated from worldly interests, would not be in a position to offend anybody.  This small tax would, therefore, restore independence to the Romans without diminishing the independence of the Pope.

Unfortunately the Pope is a king.  In this capacity he must have a Court, or something approaching to it.  He selects his courtiers among men of his own faith, his own opinions, and his own profession:  nothing can be more reasonable.  These courtiers, in their turn, dispose of the different offices of state, spiritual or temporal, just as it may happen.  Nor can the Sovereign object to this pretension as being ridiculous.  Moreover he naturally hopes to be more faithfully served by priests than laymen; while he feels that the salaries attached to the best-paid places are necessary to the splendour of his Court.

Thence it follows that to preach the secularization of the government to the Pope, is to preach to the winds.  Here you have a man who would not be a layman, who pities laymen simply because they are laymen, regarding them as a caste inferior to his own; who has received an anti-lay education; who thinks differently to laymen on all important points; and you expect this man will share his power with laymen, in an empire where he is absolute master of all and everything!  You require him to surround himself with laymen, to summon them to his councils, and to confide to them the execution of his behests!

Supposing, however, that for some reason or other he fears you, and wishes to humour you a little, see what he will do.  He will seek in the outer offices of his ministers some lay secretary, or assistant, or clerk, a man without character or talent; he will employ him, and take care that his incapacity shall be universally known and admitted.  After which, he will say to you sadly, “I have done what I could.”  But if he were to speak the honest truth, he would at once say, “If you wish to secularize anything, begin by putting laymen in my place.”

It is not in 1859 that the Pope will venture to speak so haughtily.  Intimidated by the protection of France, deafened by the unanimous complaints of his subjects, obliged to reckon with public opinion, he declares that he has secularized everything.  “Count my functionaries,” he says: 

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The Roman Question from Project Gutenberg. Public domain.
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