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Leonis XIII. Carmina. Collegit atque italice interpretatus est Jeremias Brunellius. Udine, Tipografia del Patronato, 1883-4. Scelta di atti episcopali del Cardinale Gioacchino Pecci. Roma. Tip. dei fratelli Monaldi. 1879.Leonis XIII. Acta. Romæ. Ex typographia Vaticana. 1881.-Discorsi del Sommo Pontefice Leone XIII. ai fedeli di Roma e dell’Orbe. Vol. I. 1878-82. Roma.
IOACCHINO PECCI, son of Count Lodovico Pecci and of
Anna Prosperi, was born on March 10, 1810. He entered the Church at eighteen, became a priest at twenty-seven and a prelate at twenty-eight, and was at once appointed to Benevento, and then to Perugia; in 1843 he was nominated Archbishop of Damietta, and went into Belgium as Nuncio; in 1846 he was made Bishop of Perugia, in 1853 Cardinal, in 1877 Camerlingo of the Church, and on February 20, 1878, after a conclave of only thirty-six hours, Pope. He presents in his own person a complete and splendid example of what an Italian priest may become under favourable circumstances. A member by birth of the lesser provincial nobility, a man of good natural capacity and of high culture, an admirable Latin and a good Italian writer, devout in spirit and rigidly orthodox in opinion, a sincere and entire believer in the past and future of the Church and in the importance of its influence on society even in the present day, accustomed to command, familiar with the habits and methods, as well as with the international relations of the Court of Rome—advancing year by year in experience, in dignity, in authority—such was Cardinal Pecci when the final election of the Conclave made him Pope. Now let us inquire what in the present condition of the Papacy such a Pope has in six years been able to effect.
A somewhat curious impression is left on the mind by a general survey of his Pontifical acts and utterances. The Church which he directs seems to him by turns to be pursuing one unbroken march of victory and expansion, and to be so storm-shattered and foe-beset as
In the pre
to have little time yet to live. His first Act is that of March 4, 1878, in which, completing the work begun by Pius IX., he reconstitutes the episcopal hierarchy in Scotland. amble, no less than in the Act itself, the Papacy shows its old consciousness of universal and paramount authority.
“ From the supreme summit of the Apostolate "—thus runs the preamble" to which, by no aid of our own merits, but by the Divine goodness so ordering it, we are now lately elevated, the Roman pontiffs, our predecessors, did not cease to cast their eyes, as from the peak of a high mountain, over every part of the field of the Lord; that whatsoever in the lapse of years might most conduce to the maintenance, the order, and the consolidation of all the churches they might not fail to discern; and hence, in so far at least as it was given them from on high, they were chiefly solicitous both everywhere among the nations to create new episcopal sees, and also to restore to new life those which by the attacks of time had been impaired."*
To the restoration of the Scotch Sees, in particular, he finds himself encouraged by three considerations : first, the state of the Church in that country, and the daily increasing number of believers and of labourers in the Lord's vineyard, of churches, missions, religious houses, and other institutions of a similar kind, together with a corresponding increase of temporal support; secondly, the liberty allowed to Catholics by the illustrious British Government; and thirdly, the urgent representations made to him by the Apostolic Vicars, and by very many persons, whether of the clergy or the laity, eminent both by their birth and virtues.t
In the same fulness of Papal power, and with a solicitude which seems to spring from a real and deep religious interest in the countries to which he addresses himself, he creates, on May 28, 1878, the diocese of Chicoutimi in Canada; on June 21 the Apostolic Vicariate of Kansuh in China ; on July 31 he converts the Apostolic Vicariate of Monte Video into a bishopric; on September 13 he cuts off a tract of territory from the See of Constantineh and annexes it to that of Algiers ; on December 20 he divides the diocese of Beverley to make a new diocese of Leeds, and in September of the next year makes the Church of St. Anne its cathedral ; on January 20, 1880, he raises the Vicariate of Cracow into an episcopate, and gives it a new territorial definition ; on May 25 he halves the diocese of Yucatan in Mexico and forms that of Tabasco ; on July 29 he divides in the same way the archiepiscopal See of Santa Fe de Bogota, in New Granada, and forms the diocese of Tunja; on July 5, 1881, he constitutes an episcopal hierarchy in Bosnia and Herzegovina ; on September 30 he reduces the number of the Portuguese bishoprics and remodels their territorial distribution.
* "Ex supremo apostolatus apice, ad quem, nullo meritorum nostrorum suffragio, sed divina sic disponente Bonitate, nuper evecti sumus, Romani Pontifices Prædecessores nostri universas Dominici ægri partes, quasi de montis vertice, nunquam destiterunt, ut quid Ecclesiarum omnium conditioni, decori, et firmamento labentibus annis magis conveniret, dignoscerent; ac proinde, quantum quidem Ipsis ab alto datum fuit, quemadmodum novas ubique gentium erigere episcopales sedes, ita eas quæ temporum iniuria perierant, ad novam vitam revocare solliciti in primis fuerant.”
+ “Permulti, sive ex clericis, sive ex laicis, generis nobilitate ac virtutem laude spectati viri.”
These acts of ecclesiastical authority were carried out, either—as in England—without any communication with the Government, or else—as in the Austro-Hungarian Empire, in Algeria, and in Portugal—with the knowledge of the Government, indeed, but not in any way by means of its sanction or authority. The redistribution of the archdiocese of Algiers was undertaken, he says, at the request of the then President of the French Republic, Marshal MacMahon ; the creation of the hierarchy of Bosnia and Herzegovina was of the Pope's own initiative, by the favour of the Emperor-nothing more ; the reduction of the Portuguese bishoprics was requested by the King of Portugal after discussion by a common council of bishops and Ministers, the Pope consenting not very willingly, but none the less it was carried out by his sole authority, and no one disputed his exclusive right of action in the matter. Finally, on the 25th of November 1881, the Republic of Uruguay asked for a diminution and alteration of the feasts of the Church, and the Pope accepted the petition and decreed the change.
In former times civil governments contested the right of the Church to create Sees and institute feasts by its own sole authority; or, if they allowed the exercise of such powers, they put forward in every possible way their claim to be consulted and to have their wishes taken into account. The Pope therefore is now using, and using without opposition, a fuller authority than formerly ; and he is doing this not only in the relations of the Church with the State, but in the internal affairs of the Church itself. stituting the Scotch hierarchy, he commands the bishops (volumus ac jubemus) to keep the congregation De Propaganda Fide informed by constant reports of the state of their respective Sees and of the flocks committed to their care; and he abolishes all the ancient privileges and customs of that Church. The dissensions between the Bishops and the Religious Orders in England in 1881 are silenced, and the points in dispute decided, by his supreme authority, and for this he receives the humble thanks of Archbishop Manning. If the English bishops wish to found a Catholic institution, in which studious youth, after completing the college course, may carry on its further education, they ask and receive the Pope's approbation of the scheme. The bishops of the Chaldaic rite elect as Patriarch of Babylon—or rather they pray the Pope to elect for themPeter Elias Abolionan, Bishop of Jezireh, and the Pope gratifies
them. The Archbishops of Nicosia and Adana and the Bishop of Erzeroum apply to him to obtain the restoration of their rights from the Ottoman Government, and—" from the justice of the Sultan,” as he says—he does obtain it.
He puts an end to the schism which had broken out among the Chaldean Catholics of Mesopotamia : with the aid of the English and French Ambassadors at the Porte he settles in favour of the Mansilian Catholics of the Syriac rite the controversy between them and the Jacobite heretics : he extinguishes the Armenian schism altogether, and those who had promoted it return to the obedience of the Church. The Apostolic Vicar among the Gallas tribes in Africa writes to him immediately after his elevation to the Holy See, and he writes back confirming his powers and fanning his zeal. The Christians of Shoa appeal to him, and he not only confirms them in the faith and charges them to conform their lives thereto, but writes to the king of that African region, exhorting him to embrace the Christian faith. Never, therefore, has the Pontifical authority in matters relating to the Church itself been greater or more active than it is to-day.
Nor does it confine itself to dealing with purely ecclesiastical affairs. On January 3, 1881, Leo XIII. writes to the Archbishop of Dublin about the discontents in Ireland. It has been the habit, he says, of the Roman Pontiffs, when Ireland became too passionate in the defence of her rights, to allay her ardour by admonition and exhortation—which perhaps is not altogether true. He reminds him that already, so far back as June 1, 1880, he had given strict injunctions to the Irish bishops generally; and that, later on, he had assured the Irish bishops who came to Rome to visit the tombs of the Apostles that he wished all possible good to their countrymen, but that it was not lawful to disturb the public peace. pressing as usual his high esteem for the English character, he adds, in his usual magnificent Latin :
“Such a manner of thinking and acting accords most perfectly with the precepts and institutions of the Catholic Church; nor do we doubt that it will also be advantageous to the interests of Ireland. For indeed we rely on the justice of the men who hold the supreme power; in whom, assuredly, it is common to find great practical experience combined with political wisdom. It may far more safely and easily be brought about that Ireland may obtain the things which she seeks if she avails herself of those methods only which the laws permit, and avoids all causes of offence.”+
** Testati quidem sumus nos Hibernorum causa omnia cupere ; verumtamen illud etiam adjunximus, perturbare ordinem non licere."
+ ** Tális in sentiendo agendoque modus institutis præceptisque Ecclesiæ Catholicæ maxime congruit; neque dubitamus, quin ipsis Hiberniæ rationibus sit profuturus. Et enim æquitati confidimus virorum, qui summam imperii tenent : in quibus certe magnus esse solet rerum usus cum civili prudentia coniunctus. Multo tutius ac facilius fieri poterit ut ea, quæ vult, Hibernia consequatur, si modo via quam leges sinunt,
These counsels he repeats on August 1, 1882, in another letter, addressed to the Archbishop of Dublin and to the other Irish bishops, in which he praises them for the resolutions passed at their Synod in Dublin, and, emphatically reasserting his confidence in the English Government, admonishes the clergy to conform in all things to the decisions of the Synod, amongst which he approves and supports by fresh arguments that one especially which refers to leagues and conspiracies. “Expediency,” he says, " is to be guided by justice; and it is to be seriously considered that it is a shameful thing to act unjustly in however just a cause. Now justice, as it is far from all violence, so is it especially averse to clandestine societies, which, under a show
a of vindicating the right, end for the most part in disturbing the equilibrium of public affairs."*
He therefore prays the Irish people, " for the sake of the Catholic name, and of their country, to have nothing to do with such societies, which can avail nothing in furtherance of their legitimate demands, and which often lead into crime those who have been carried away by their seductions." He returns to the subject on January 1, 1883, in a letter to the same Archbishop, the main purpose of which appears
be—after expressing approval of a pastoral of the Archbishop's— to lay down a rule for the conduct of the minor clergy, who were mixing themselves up with political agitations ; for he charges the bishops to give leave to take part in public meetings "in which affairs of State are hotly disputed ” only to those ecclesiastics “in whose wisdom they have the greatest confidence, and who, from their age and practical experience, excel in prudence, counsel, and authority, who may therefore, better than any others, lead the excited multitude to what is just and right, may combat the fallacious arguments of the unscrupulous, defend the principles of duty, and make themselves the best champions of the better cause.”+
Finally, in May 1883, Cardinal Simeoni, the Prefect of the Congregation of the Propaganda—writing, no doubt, by order of the Pope—informs the Irish bishops that the Parnell Testimonial Fund cannot in any way be approved by the Congregation, since, « whatever may be thought of Parnell and his opinions, it is at any rate certain
utatur, causasque offensionis evitet.” In the Constitution of May 8, quoted above, he adds, after alluding to the flourishing condition of the Catholic Church in England : “Cujus quidem rei laus non exigua tribuenda est Britannicæ gentis ingenio quod prout constans et invictum est contra vim adversam, ita veritatis et rationis voc facile flectitur, ut proinde vere de ipsis dixerit Tertullianus, Brittanorum inaccessa Romanis loca, Christo subiecta.”
* "Verumtamen honestate dirigenda utilitas est ; ac serio considerandum, caussam quantumvis iustam turpe esse tueri non iuste. Abest vero iustitia cum ab omni vi, tum maxime a societatibus clandestinis quæ per speciem vindicandi juris illuc ferme evadunt, ut rerum publicarum permoveant statum."
+ “In quorum potissimum sapientia confiditis, et in quibus maturior ætas ac usus rerum effecit ut prudentia, consilio, et auctoritare præstent, ideoque possint præ ceteris concitatæ multitudini ad recta honesta duces esse, fallacibus improborum judiciis occurrere, officii rationes tueri, ac defensores esse optimi optimarum partium.”