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lutely destitute. I am thankful to say, by God's goodness, I belong to the lower clergy, and am at the very bottom of the ladder. I have never tried to find out how it came about. Perhaps Government acted-it is the way of the world-—with much regard for the great, and indifference, if not contempt, for the little; perhaps the present spoliation gave an excuse to the masters to leave off dropping the crumbs; anyhow, such is the case. The basso clero is now thoroughly destitute in Italy, or in most of its provinces, and more miserable and more numerous than people choose to believe or let others believe.'
These priests, whose only prospect of subsistence is about 92d. a day, derived from the saying of masses-itself an uncertain source of income-are completely at the mercy of their bishops, who may suspend them at any moment, 'ex informata conscientiâ.' This implies in many cases little less than starvation. Indirectly this is the means by which the interest in the restoration of the temporal power is kept up, as any priest who betrays unsoundness on that point immediately falls out of the good graces of his superiors.
'A few years ago, in the southern provinces, a good young priest of much promise, and beloved in his native place, was not altogether in favour with his superiors-perhaps because some of his ideas seemed not strictly conformable to those of the Vatican; certainly, having no private resources, he had no way of living but by what he received for masses. This man, having made some respectful remonstrance to his bishop about the time and place of saying mass, which were listened to with the usual sternness, received an intimation that he should go and take his orders from the Vicar. On his arrival, the latter drily signified to him his suspension a divinis ad nutum Episcopi. The youth, naturally of a quick and fervid disposition, was struck as with a thunderbolt; however, he restrained himself, and retired without speaking a word; but he had hardly got to the entrance of the house, when he fell down a cold and lifeless corpse. As was natural, this created a great excitement in the diocese, especially in the poor man's native village, where the Bishop, having had the imprudence to show himself during his usual evening's airing in his carriage, aroused among the population, an exceptionally quiet and devout one, a tumult, in which the carriage had a narrow escape from the stones which were flung at it. The prelate, perhaps more alarmed than was necessary, made off in what was very like a flight; but the next day he had a Te Deum sung in all the churches of the diocese, thanking the Most High for having delivered him from the jaws of revolution, which persecuted the Church and its pastors; nor were there wanting Catholic journals to salute in him a new Cyprian or a second Athanasius !'
Those who are devoted to the Vatican, he adds, ought to
know very well the miserable condition of the basso clero, a new calamity of the Church almost throughout Italy; but they have not known the extremities to which in some cases it could be driven, and have perhaps scarcely suspected what a bondage it was; yet this state of things is purposely kept up at the Vatican, to enable its own system to flourish.
He goes on to show how the lower clergy are made a tool of by the Papacy, as in the case of the 12,000 ecclesiastics who had signed the Indirizzo, framed and circulated in 1863 by the. celebrated Carlo Passaglia, formerly one of the most eminent of the Order of Jesuits for his learning and ability, and selected by the Vatican to be the champion of its new dogma of the Immaculate Conception. Pius IX. was advised, or rather humbly and respectfully entreated, to lay aside, under certain conditions, his claims on the temporal power, an advice which, daring as it was, yet, judged according to the circumstances of the moment, showed considerable sagacity in its propounders; above all, it showed the mind of the Italian clergy. Yet this expression of independent opinion was never forgotten by the Vatican. This was proved in a singular way in the case of Carlo Passaglia himself, the leader of the movement, .who, from the enjoyment of high favour at the Pontifical Court in 1854, in consequence of his great work on the 'Immaculate Conception,' found himself eight years afterwards so completely out of its good graces, that his name was allowed no place on the inscribed slabs of marble in St. Peter's which commemorate the supporters of that doctrine. Podesti, the artist who painted a fresco in the Vatican commemorative of the event, was strongly urged to efface the figure of Passaglia from his work, but declined to do so. Our author tells us of the terrorism 6 practised on the rest of the clergy, and adds, that he has the testimony of a respectable prelate who saw it himself, that the Cardinal, whose office it was to give the last touch to the collations to benefices of any kind, in the years following the presentation of the Indirizzo, used habitually to keep on his desk a printed alphabetical catalogue of those who had signed it; nor would he ever consent to the promotion of any one till he had carefully ascertained that his name was not in this black list; if it were, his consent was inexorably withheld. All this, in addition to what the more zealous bishops did, and perhaps still do, in their own dioceses.
In further illustration of this subject, we may refer to the Appendix, for the writer's account of the difficulties he met with in regard to the publication of his own books, and' of the persecutions undergone, not only by himself but by those
who sympathized with him. He tells the story of a young priest, perhaps the only student in the diocese,' who, stimulated by a conversation with himself, threw off a jeu d'esprit on the existing state of things, and, with the approval of his immediate superior, though against the advice of the narrator, sent it to the press-a thing likely to be forgotten in a week! It was, however, long remembered. Eight days of penitential exercises, a public retractation, and nine years of miserable starvation on half the wages of a maidservant, were its consequences; and this for a man whom the Bishop himself recognized as one of the ablest of his clergy, and who had depending on him poor parents who had made great sacrifices 'per tirarlo su prete.' Meanwhile, in the same diocese, a young priest who, in consequence of his having paid impertinent attentions to a young lady, had to hurry away from a church under fear of being removed by the Carabinieri, received the offer of immediate promotion.
Another characteristic of the 'perfect Catholic' is apparently Evangelical Abstention, in other words, minding your own business and asking no questions. A priest who says mass, even though he does not understand a syllable, duly observes Easter, and the prescribed days of fasting and abstinance, is a perfect Catholic; and if, not content with blind obedience to the Pope, he joins the army of workers in the cause of the hopes still cherished for the temporal power, he may not only be let off from fasting, he may practically obtain a dispensation from the precept of love of God and his neighbour, and indeed from little less than the whole Decalogue. . . . This reminds of one the days of the great Western Schism, when the Antipopes, in order to maintain their authority, were ready to indulge their supporters with any kind of concession, up to the belief in the Blessed Trinity or the Sacramental Presence. It is obviously impossible that such a system can really benefit society or grapple with the evils of the day. In a word, it is incapable of forming Christ in the heart.'
Much that our author says here might be applied to systems of benevolence among ourselves, which try to deal with the working classes apart from true evangelic Christianity. The lack of personal religion is, as he truly says, the cause of the sterility of modern civilization.' How little is done to form Christ in the hearts of the people,' we may gather from what is said of the Popular Sermons of the Day' :—
'One cannot' (he says) 'speak seriously of those miserable "explanations of the Gospel" offered on Sundays to a dozen women and children by a priest who repeats what he has read up hastily over
night. I am speaking, of course, of the majority. But if my readers are disposed to enquire more closely, I will add everything that they can ever remember hearing preached about all the saints and all the Madonnas, past, present, and future; of all the miracles, possible and impossible. They will remember furious denunciations against the Revolution, and all that it is to-day supposed to stand for; also against the Protestants, who are certainly free and respected in Italy at present, but do not expect (it would be useless for them to do so) to make proselytes. The one thing they will not remember having heard expressly preached about, is Jesus Christ, His works, His miracles, and His doctrine.'
He then speaks of the miserable quality of books provided for Catholic readers:*
'The Vatican, taking for granted that Scripture (including the Gospels) will not be read, is admirably condescending in other ways. There is no religious literary trash which it will not recommend, and even enrich with Indulgences. But among all this heap you
will hardly be able to pick out one that speaks of Jesus Christ. Hence it follows that the Protestants, especially in England, despite the eccentricities of private judgment, preserving, as they do, both among clergy and people the study of Scripture, especially the New Testament, are less ignorant of the sovereign object of our faith than the Catholics. Hence also arises that deplorable severance between religion and morals which we have to bewail to-day.'
Chapter VII. is devoted to the subject of Reform and of the unsuccessful attempts, just before the Council of Trent, under Paul III., who as he reminds us, was himself 'impigliato in un vasto nepotismo politico, per ingrandire la sua Casa Farnese,' and whose old age was embittered, and his death perhaps accelerated, by the harshness of his own family.
'No reform,' he says, 'is really possible in the Church of Rome till the Vatican itself changes. 'Pel centralismo guasta tutto col centro." A pedantic and monotonous formalism reigns at the head of affairs, and so jealous is the Vatican of a higher standard, that it positively discourages those who attempt to live up to one. A young clergyman who succeeds an inefficient priest is actually advised not to trouble himself too much with preaching, sick-visiting, and the like . . . "it would be a tacit reproach to his predecessor.'
A man of learning who shows any enlightened ideas is kept out in the cold, while another, fresh from a term of penal servitude, pro crimine pessimo, has a good chance of preferment as a reward for his diligence in collecting Peter's pence.
While the weightier matters are thus neglected, an absurdly
This passage, which, as in other cases, we have somewhat condensed, also finds its prallel in Rosmini, p. 67.
large amount of time is consumed in settling the most frivolous questions. Some admirable good sense may be found in the remarks on the incapacity of the modern Roman Church to 'see the one in the many,' and its consequent losing sight of great principles and fidgetty observance of trifles. This is illustrated by the present condition of Catholic Christians in the matter of fasting. The spirit is lost sight of, and the forms are kept up by absurd enactments and serious discussions on the most trivial points of diet. 'I was present when Pius IX. jocularly gave dispensation to two or three of his young favourites in violet dresses from meagre diet, fasting, and the Breviary.' Meanwhile the Vatican spends a great deal of grave consideration on doubts and subtleties which remind one of the days of Innocent III. Not to speak of the eight ounces carefully weighed in the goldsmith's scales for the canula vespertina on fast days, which would be too much for a delicate appetite, and would not be enough to prevent a hearty youth of twenty-two from lying awake all night, there are more serious difficulties, for instance, whether, since in certain cases it is forbidden to use meat and fish in the same dish, a chicken might be served with anchovy sauce. The Vatican, after a careful study of the arduous problem, first sent word 'Yes,' and then 'No.' So the observance of one day in seven, God's own institution before the Fall, is almost lost sight of, while the calendar is crowded with all kinds of new-fangled festivals, often, like that of St. Anthony of Padua (June 13th), invented for political
Any one who considers the state of our present practice in these three respects - abstinence, external worship, and religious instruction especially the first, would be tempted to think that the ministers of the Church, inspired by the Vatican, would like to keep society (after their own likeness in some cases) in perpetual childhood; and, since material is never lacking, to be creating around them a race of babies (un popolo di bambini). And since this cannot be done, save in a limited portion of society, if ever the remainder (which it now treats as outlawed, and is too likely to continue in its outlawed state) should think of becoming practically Catholic, the only way will be to do (as Mlle. Montader proposes *) namely, have two Liturgies, two hierarchies, two disciplines, and possibly even two Popes, which she hardly thinks necessary, though she says others have thought so.
'The mischief done by the present state of things is especially
In a work entitled' Fin de la Crise religieuse moderne.' Paris, 1881. This devout and intelligent young French lady died before the publication of her work, which was brought out by her brother, a Dominican, and, with some qualifications, is highly praised by Padre Curci,