Church and State in the Modern Age: A Documentary History

By J. F. MacLear | Go to book overview

accepted: Holy Father, the temporal power is no longer a guarantee of independence for you. Renounce it, and we will give you that freedom for which you have been asking all great Catholic powers in vain for three centuries. Holy Father, you tried to wrest some portions of this freedom through concordats, but in compensation you had to grant some privileges -- even worse than privileges, the use of spiritual weapons by those temporal powers willing to concede a bit of freedom to you. We are now offering you in full what you never were able to obtain from those powers which prided themselves on being your allies and faithful children. We are ready to proclaim in Italy this great principle: A free church in a free state. ([Members:] Very good!)

Your faithful friends agree with us that the temporal power, as it is, clearly cannot exist. They propose to you reforms which you, as pontiff, cannot make. . . . I can see your point when you assert it is not your task to proclaim religious freedom. You must teach certain doctrines, and therefore you cannot say it is well done that any kind of doctrine be taught by anybody. You cannot honor the advice of your sincere friends because they beg impossible things of you, and thus you have to remain in this abnormal status as the father of the faithful, obliged to keep your peoples under the yoke with foreign bayonets, or else to accept the principle of freedom, loyally and widely favored in the first-born Latin nation, the country where Catholicism is in its natural setting. . . .

No one can question the sincerity of these proposals of ours. I do not wish to become personal. But may I remind those colleagues of mine who were members of the other legislatures that I have always frankly proclaimed this principle since 1850 when, just a few days after I had been appointed a member of the Council of the Crown, I rejected the suggestion that all church property should be confiscated and clergymen be hired as salaried civil servants of the state.

May I point out, as evidence of the sincerity of our proposals, that they conform to our system, to our belief that freedom should permeate the entire religious and civil society. We want economic freedom, administrative freedom, full and absolute freedom of conscience. We want all political liberties consistent with public tranquillity. The structure we wish to frame will be all the more complete if we add to it that the principle of freedom be applied to the relations between church and state.

Source: Discorsi parlamentari del Conte Camillo di Cavour ( Rome, 1872). XI, 346-348.


SUGGESTIONS FOR BACKGROUND AND REFERENCE

R. de Cesare, The Last Days of Papal Rome, 1850-1870 ( London, 1909).

A. Jemolo, Church and State in Italy, 1850-1950 ( Oxford, 1960), pp. 16-26.

D. Mack Smith, Cavour ( New York, 1985), pp. 243-247.

G. Mollat, La question romaine de Pie VI d Pie XI ( Paris, 1932), pp. 282-367.

-154-

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