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.

The earliest Popes, who were not kings, had no budgets.  Consequently they had no annual deficits to make up.  Consequently they were not obliged to borrow millions of M. de Rothschild.  Consequently they were more independent than the crowned Popes of more recent times.

Ever since the spiritual and the temporal have been joined, like two Siamese powers, the most August of the two has necessarily lost its independence.  Every day, or nearly so, the Sovereign Pontiff finds himself called upon to choose between the general interests of the Church, and the private interests of his crown.  Think you he is sufficiently estranged from the things of this world to sacrifice heroically the earth, which is near, to the Heaven, which is remote?  Besides, we have history to help us.  I might, if I chose, refer to certain bad Popes who were capable of selling the dogma of the Holy Trinity for half-a-dozen leagues of territory; but it would be hardly fair to argue from bad Popes to the confusion of indifferent ones.  Think you, however, that when the Pope legalized the perjury of Francis the First after the treaty of Madrid, he did it to make the morality of the Holy See respected, or to stir up a war useful to his crown?

When he organized the traffic in indulgences, and threw one-half of Europe into heresy, was it to increase the number of Christians, or to give a dowry to a young lady?

When, during the Thirty Years’ War, he made an alliance with the Protestants of Sweden, was it to prove the disinterestedness of the Church, or to humble the House of Austria?

When he excommunicated Venice in 1806, was it to attach the Republic more firmly to the Church, or to serve the rancour of Spain against the first allies of Henry IV.?

When he suppressed the Order of the Jesuits, was it to reinforce the army of the Church, or to please his master in France?

When he terminated his relations with the Spanish American provinces upon their proclaiming their independence, was it in the interest of the Church, or of Spain?

When he held excommunication suspended over the heads of such Romans as took their money to foreign lotteries, was it to attach their hearts to the Church, or to draw their crown-pieces into his own treasury?

M. Thiers knows all this better than I do; but he possibly thought that when the spiritual sovereign of the Church and the temporal sovereign of a little country, wear the same cap, the one is naturally condemned to minister to the ambition or the necessities of the other.

We wish the chief of the Catholic religion to be independent, and we make him pay slavish obedience to a petty Italian prince; thus rendering the future of that religion subordinate to miserable local interests and petty parish squabbles.

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The Roman Question from Project Gutenberg. Public domain.
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