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.

But this union of powers, which would gain by separation, compromises not only the independence, but the dignity of the Pope.  The melancholy obligation to govern men obliges him to touch many things which he had better leave alone.  Is it not deplorable that bailiffs must seize a debtor’s property in the Pope’s name?—­that judges must condemn a murderer to death in the name of the Head of the Church?—­that the executioner must cut off heads in the name of the Vicar of Christ?  There is to me something truly scandalous in the association of those two words, Pontifical lottery!  And what can the hundred and thirty-nine millions of Catholics think, when they hear their spiritual sovereign expressing, through his finance minister, his satisfaction at the progress of vice as proved by the success of the lotteries?

The subjects of the Pope are not scandalized at these contradictions, simply because they are accustomed to them.  They strike a foreigner, a Catholic, a casual unit out of the hundred and thirty-nine millions; they inspire in him an irresistible desire to defend the independence and the dignity of the Church.  But the inhabitants of Bologna or Viterbo, of Terracina or Ancona, are more occupied with national than with religious interests, either because they want that feeling of self-devotion recommended by M. Thiers, or because the government of the priests has given them a horror of Heaven.  Very middling Catholics, but excellent citizens, they everywhere demand the freedom of their country.  The Bolognese affirm that they are not necessary to the independence of the Pope, which they say could do as well without Bologna as it has for some time contrived to do without Avignon.  Every city repeats the same thing, and if they were all to be listened to, the Holy Father, freed from the cares of administration, might devote his undivided attention to the interests of the Church and the embellishment of Rome.  The Romans themselves, so they be neither princes, nor priests, nor servants, nor beggars, declare that they have devoted themselves long enough, and that M. Thiers may now carry his advice elsewhere.


The patrimony of the temporal power.

The Papal States have no natural limits:  they are carved out on the map as the chance of passing events has made them, and as the good-nature of Europe has left them.  An imaginary line separates them from Tuscany and Modena.  The most southerly point enters into the kingdom of Naples; the province of Benevento is enclosed within the states of King Ferdinand, as formerly was the Comtat-Venaissin within the French territory.  The Pope, in his turn, shuts in that Ghetto of democracy, the republic of San Marino.

I never cast my eyes over this poor map of Italy, capriciously rent into unequal fragments, without one consoling reflection.

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The Roman Question from Project Gutenberg. Public domain.
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