« PreviousContinue »
21. The Colonial Church Chronicle, January to August, 1863.
London. 22. Why I left the Communion of the Church of Rome. By the
Rev. Father Felix. Calcutta, 1860. 23. Anglo-Continental Society. Report to the Subscribers to the
Special Italian Fund. London, 1862. M HE Italian pamphlets of which we have given the titles are
1 in great part taken up with the discussion of questions which we do not now intend to consider—the lawfulness of the present Italian Government, the relations of Church and State in Italy, and, above all, the temporal sovereignty of the Pope. But they all indicate the existence of a widely-felt discontent with the condition of the Roman Church, and of ardent wishes for change. Not that the changes which the writers in general advocate are of such a kind as English Churchmen would consider to be satisfactory; for almost all declare their strong adherence to the principles of Romanism, and their conviction that the reforms which they urge, far from drawing in their train any alteration of the Roman doctrines, would establish these doctrines—including the spiritual supremacy of the Papal See—more firmly than ever ; that they would deliver the Papacy from its present disadvantageous position of antagonism to the spirit of the age, and would place it triumphantly at the very head of human progress. Almost all are strong in denouncing Protestantism ; and some of . those who are most zealous in agitating for change, and who have suffered most in the cause, are especially devoted to certain doctrines which we regard with the greatest dislike. Monsignor Liverani, for instance, assures us over and over that he is a sound •Catholic'in all respects; that he is a special son of the Holy See;'* he tells us that he wrote a book on Reliques, the purport of which may be guessed from the fact that he dedicated it to two influential cardinals ; † that he bore a larger part than the world in general is aware of in establishing the dogma of the Immaculate Conception; that he relies especially on the patronage of the Blessed Virgin, that he has exhorted the Pope to seek the same patronage in the troubles which beset him, I and that but for her especial support he would have been unable to go through the labour of compiling a collection of ancient writings, which he is about to publish under the title of 'Spicilegium Liberianum.'s And of Passaglia, whose name and
• Il Papato,' &c., 16.
+ Ibid. 84-5.
Ibid. 103-4. $ So called from the Liberian basilica'--the church of St. Mary Major, of which the editor is (or was) a canon. Among other things he promises some inedited pieces of St. Anselm, and some documents, hitherto unknown, which relate to the history of Becket. Vol. 114.— No. 228.
history are better known, we need hardly say that he was the theologian to whom the Pope especially committed the task of asserting the Immaculate Conception, or that at present he professes to limit his desire of reform to the abolition of the Pope's temporal power ; that he holds all Roman doctrine, with the highest views of the spiritual prerogative belonging to the successor of St. Peter. The position, therefore, of those whom it is the fashion with the dominant party to style Passaglianists, is very different from that of Englishmen who look with tolerant composure on the Pope's temporal sovereignty (although they would like to see his dominions better governed), but believe the Roman Church to be grievously corrupt in doctrine. But for us as English Churchmen the questions arise,-With what feelings are we to view the contest which is now raging in Italy? And shall we merely look on with interest as spectators, or is there a call for something more on our part ?
We hope, by the help of the books and pamphlets before us, to give some answer to these questions; and before proceeding further, it will be well to notice some of these works more particularly.
The name of Massimo d’Azeglio, distinguished in literature, in politics, and in art, is enough to bespeak attention to his " Thoughts on Pressing Questions. This pamphlet is for the most part political, and therefore beyond our present range. We shall only mention here that the author, while he wishes to see an end of the Pope's temporal power, would make Florence rather than Rome the capital of Italy; but we shall find occasion to quote his opinions on other points as we go on.
Another layman, Signor Mamiani, late Minister of Public Instruction, is said to be the author of · La Rinascenza Cattolica.' On opening this, we were agreeably surprised to find that, instead of inflicting on us a grave and formal treatise, the author has cast his opinions into the shape of a pleasant little romance. The supposed writer is an ex-student of the Propaganda, who, having gone as a missionary to Japan, and having endured ten years of imprisonment at Nagasaki, is suddenly set at liberty, and finds a passage to Europe provided for him on board an English ship, the · Isaaco Newton. His ignorance of English and the confusion of mind produced by his long seclusion prevent him from picking up any information during the voyage, so that on landing in his native country he is utterly in the dark as to all that had taken place since he left it. At Civita Vecchia, where he is hurried from the quay to the railway station, he has just time enough to observe that the town is illuminated ; and, on asking the reason, he is told that a bishop had been elected a few hours before.
Elected!' · Elected !'he asks in amazement—by whom?' And the answer is—By the clergy of the diocese, to whom the whole power of choosing their bishop had been entrusted, until the people should be fit (as it was hoped that education would speedily make them) to share in the election, as in primitive times. On reaching Rome, the autobiographer finds wonderful changes and improvements everywhere. His old college has been extended by splendid new buildings; its library is vastly increased ; its polyglott press is the first of its kind in the world ; and the number of students is thrice as large as of old. The whole aspect of the city is altered for the better. Quarters which had formerly been uninhabited are covered with handsome houses and magnificent public buildings, and a similar change has transformed the swarming and filthy alleys of the Ghetto. Architecture and the other fine arts have received a new impulse and development. The ruins have been cleared out, and are carefully protected; the Campagna has been reduced by tillage to fertility and healthiness—partly through the labour of the mendicant friars, who have been compelled with gentle violence to make themselves of some use in the world. The members of the other religious orders have been employed in teaching schools or in similar works of public advantage. The clergy have been reduced in numbers and greatly improved in efficiency, while a beneficial redistribution of ecclesiastical property has been carried out, without any spoliation and with a due regard to all existing claims. The Pope (who, instead of coldly giving his hand to be kissed, clasps the confessor of Nagasaki in his arms, kisses him on both cheeks, begs him to relate his story, and weeps over the touching narrative) is relieved of his temporal sovereignty, but finds himself strong in the affections of the faithful. Out of regard to the Holy Father's feelings, King Victor Emmanuel refrains from displaying his state in Rome, and resides at a villa near Frascati ; while the Capitol is used only for the greatest national solemnities, and the public offices are studiously planted in parts of the city where they may be least likely to meet the Pope's eyes, and to suggest unpleasant recollections to him. By the opening of new careers for activity, the temptations to idleness are removed out of the way of the Romans; and a Festival of Labour holds a conspicuous place among the religious functions, which are now celebrated with a fervour very unlike the dreary mechanism of former days. Universal toleration is established, and Protestant propagandists, being at liberty to do their worst, are far less successful than when working under disabilities. Men whom the corruptions of the old state of things had driven into unbelief are reclaimed ; conversions from Protes
tantism take place every day. And the story winds up with a sort of vision, in which the Pope, throned on golden clouds and with his countenance transfigured, is seen bestowing his benediction on Rome and on the world.
From such visions it is not pleasant to descend to the realities which are set forth by Mgr. Liverani. To judge by the pamphlets which he has published, we should suppose this writer to be an honest, learned, somewhat vain, and very indiscreet person- just the kind of man whom enemies would find it easy to discredit, but whose weaknesses ought not to be allowed to invalidate the real value of his evidence with any candid reader. Nor can any disparagement which the dominant party of Rome may now cast on him, and on others who have placed themselves in opposition to it, do away with the fact that, so long as they were on good terms with that party, offices of honour and trust were largely bestowed on them. Liverani's pamphlets seem to have raised a considerable sensation, * and the disclosures which they contain must doubtless have been very unpleasant to the persons concerned.
Canon Reali's case is in so far like that of Liverani, that he has very ugly stories to tell of the body to which he belongs, and that, for advocating freedom of conscience and the cession of the Pope's temporal power, he has been visited with heavy penalties. The chief object of his pamphlet, “The Church and Italy,' is to show that, by the principles of the Church, certain declarations of a political kind which were made by the bishops assembled for the canonization of the Japanese martyrs, in 1862, are not entitled to any authority.
Perhaps the most important, certainly the most instructive, of all these pamphlets is that on · The Clergy and Society,' by Perfetti, who was formerly secretary to Cardinal Marini, president of the Chisilieri College, and Librarian of the University of Rome. He tells us in his . Ricordi,' that when he first entered Rome in youth, he viewed everything around him under the enchantment of the ideal ; but the experience of more than twenty years has sadly dispelled his illusions. He writes with a calm earnestness and with an air of thorough conviction, pointing out without unnecessary bitterness the defects of the Church, and suggesting the means by which he believes that they may be healed.
Passing over, for the present, the other Italian publications, we come to Dr. Wordsworth's · Tour in Italy.' The whole time occupied in this tour was less than two months from the 13th
of May to the 9th of July, 1862—and the book is a remarkable proof how much may be done in so short a time by a man who has a purpose and knows how to set about his work. In this tour, as in those visits to France of which he has given an account in earlier books, Dr. Wordsworth's object was chiefly to observe the state of religion. On starting from London Bridge, the learned Canon of Westminster finds himself in company with
some Irish Roman Catholic priests, going to Rome for the great gathering there at Whitsuntide ' (the canonization of the Japanese martyrs); and doubtless he had some controversial talk with them, although no record of it is preserved. But immediately on crossing the Belgian frontier, he gets into explanations with a respectable-looking man, about fifty-six years of age,' and the war is renewed with one Romanist after another on all possible occasions—in coaches, in railway carriages, in steamboats, in churches, in colleges, and in all manner of other places. Dr. Wordsworth relates his interviews with persons of note, whose names are in some cases given, and in others are not hard to guess at. After hearing a Dominican preacher who abused Protestantism, he follows him into the sacristy, and thence into a room where the monk is quietly taking coffee with a friend. As the friend retires, the battle of creeds begins; and at length the Canon wrings from his adversary a declaration that he had not meant to say anything against the Church of England (although the reverend orator had not thought it necessary to make any such distinction in his sermon). In all these contests, it is natural that the Anglican champion should get the best of it, not only because he has (as we believe) truth on his side, or because he has the advantage of being his own reporter, but because so experienced a controversialist was necessarily far better armed for the strife than the average of such chance opponents as he was likely to meet with in his travels. . But, although very decided in his opposition to Rome, Dr. Wordsworth is always willing to acknowledge anything which strikes him in the working of the Roman Church as superior to that of our own Church, such as the attendance of the people at week-day services.
It would be easy to find fault with the composition of Dr. Wordsworth's volumes, and to express dissent from some of his opinions ; but we wish to speak of him not only with the respect which is due to his character and abilities, but with gratitude for what he has told us. To the second edition he has prefixed a letter from an Italian ecclesiastic, and one from 6an English Churchman. Both are valuable; indeed the second letter (which fills about eighty pages) will probably be regarded