The Papacy and World Affairs as Reflected in the Secularization of Politics

The Papacy and World Affairs as Reflected in the Secularization of Politics

The Papacy and World Affairs as Reflected in the Secularization of Politics

The Papacy and World Affairs as Reflected in the Secularization of Politics

Excerpt

The secularization of politics may be said to have taken place when at the Congress of Westphalia the Catholic and Protestant princes agreed to disregard the protest of the pope against the treaties of Münster and Osnabrück, which were, after a long period of turmoil and confusion, to become the fundamental law of Europe. The event called the "secularization of politics" had been a long time in preparation. There had been many individual princes and groups of secular rulers who had flouted papal secular authority in previous centuries, especially during the Reformation. But it was not until the close of the Thirty Years' War that there was a concerted effort in both Catholic and Protestant camps to disregard papal authority in the political affairs of Europe, an authority that had been potently and effectively exercised through much of the medieval period.

But it took the papacy a long time to accept the changed situation. It repeatedly protested, without effect, against all those international treaties and other actions of the secular rulers that injured the interests and claimed legal rights of the church. Its protests were most frequent and vehement after 1860 and 1870, when, through the action of the Italian kingdom, the papacy lost the Papal States, which, according to papal theory, were essential in order to give the pontiff full freedom from secular interference when administering the spiritual affairs of the world.

However, the papacy terminated this attitude of protest when, in 1929, it signed the Lateran Accord with Mussolini and agreed not to participate in the settlement of international disputes of the states of the world unless it were invited to do so by the harmonious action of the states concerned. This marked the secularization of politics in its final aspects, when the papacy . . .

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