REVIEWSrnCollision Coursernhy Thomas FlemingrnPioIXrnhy Roberto de MattelrnCasale Monferrato: Piemme;rn253 pp., £30rnThe polemics engendered by the beahficahonrnof Pope Pius IX are un-rnHkely to go away. When all the falserncharges of anhscmitism arc set aside, thernfact remains that diis one man may haerndone more to stem the tide of liberalismrnthan all the great English and Americanrnconservatives of the past two centuriesrnput together, and the new biographyrn(more of an apologia, really) b’ ProfrnRoberto de Mattel has had the remarkablerneffect of establishing the context forrnthis great man’s career.rnAnd he was a great man, who stoodrnlike the Archangel Michael before therngates of hell, saving “no” to the social andrnpolitical heresies of the l^tli centuryrn(they were also the heresies of the 20th)rnand smiting hip and thigh all the domesticrnenemies of Christendom: modernistsrnand liberals, laicizing Catholic nationalistsrnand Christian socialists, and all thernweaklings who even then were willing torncompromise with the enemy.rnBv one of the quirks of history, thernPope who stood in the way of Italian units’rnwas also one of the most unusual geniusesrnof the 19th ccntuPv’. Born into anrnaristocratic familv in 1792, Gio’annirnMastai Ferrctti was, despite his cpilepsv’,rna brilliant student of the classics. He wasrnencouraged b- his mother to study for thernprie.sthood, but he was ordained w ith thernpro’ision that, because of his condition,rnhe was not allowed to say Mass withoutrnan assistant. Once he became a priest,rnthe maladv went away.rnAs archbishop of Spoleto, he becamernknown for his humane sentiments andrninterceded, during tiie uprising of 1831,rnbetween Italian rebels and the Austrianrncommander. Despite a few nnnor adventuresrn(such as a stint in Chile), he ledrna comparatively uneventful life untilrn1846, when the College of Cardinalsrnc|uickly (on the fourth scrutiny) settled onrnhim as the successor to the uncompromisingrnreactionarv. Pope Gregory X’I.rnThe election of Pius IX was regarded as arnliberal victory, especial]}’ after CardinalrnGavsbruch arrived too late from Milan tornconvey’ the Austrian veto.rnAs Prof de Mattei makes clear in thisrnlucid account of Pio Nono’s contributionsrnto the Church, many Italian liberalsrn(such as Vincenzo Gioberti) believedrnthat their movement would only triumphrnif thev succeeded in putting a liberal ontornthe throne of St. Peter. In Pius IX, theyrnbelieved they had their man.rnA kind and humane man, Pius IX hadrnexpressed svmpatln for the sufferings enduredrnby Italian liberals and rebels, andrnin his hrst years in the papal chair, hernmade careful steps toward reform: Hernamnestied political prisoners, took laymenrninto his cabinet, and cen gavernsome support to the Milanese rebels inrn1848. Liberals were already di.sturbed,rnhowever, by his encyclical of 1846 inrnwliich he complains of the persecution ofrnCatiiolic interests and expresses clear oppositionrnto liberal principles and to thernplots of the secret societies.rnToda}’ in America, the phrase “secretrnsocieties” is an invitation to mockcr’, butrnin die 19th century’, the Freeniasons andrnIlluminists were no laughing matter, asrnthe sober Librarian of Congress, JamesrnBdlington, made clear in Fire in thernMinds of Men. These secret societiesrnrepresented a virulent strain of liberalismrnthat defined itself largely by what it hated:rnthe moral, social, and cultural traditionsrnof Christianity. Even before the FrenchrnRevolution, the’ had formed secret societiesrnto imdermine societv’ and morality’.rnOne key figure (cited by Prof dc Mattei)rnwas Filippo Buonarotti, a disciple of thernsavage Robespierre who returned to ItaKrnto organize a conspiracy he named SuhhmirnMaestri Peifetti.rnThe young Pope believed that herncould embrace the best tendencies ofrnliberalism without compronnsing thernChurch’s inheritance. Austria’s cynicalrnprime minister was, perhaps, wiser.rnPrince Metternich opposed the Pope’srnpolitical amnesty; hearing of Pius’s reforms,rnhe declared: “A liberal pope is notrna possible being.” Metternich was aghastrnwhen he learned that the Vatican’s prudentrnsecretary of state (Cardinal Cizzi)rnhad resigned in protest over the Pope’srnwillingness to set up a civil guard ofrnarmed citizens. Commenting on the situation,rnMetternich said tliat the eventsrnwere nothing less than “a revolution underrnthe disguise of reforms.”rnAlthough the Pope was hailed throughoutrnItaly as a savior and contrasted evervw’herernwith the kings of Piedmont andrnNaples, the collision was inevitable. Asrnde Mattei demonstrates in his refutationrnof “the myth of the liberal Pio Nono,”rnPius IX was no liberal of any kind. Inrnfact, the Pope understood better thanrnanyone in the 19th century what the theologicalrnand moral inheritance of thernChurch meant to mankind, and howeverrnmuch he might wish to reform his government,rnhe had no illusions aboutrndemocracy or about tiie religion of liberalismrnriiat was being created in France,rnEngland, and die United States.rnAfter considering an expedition inrn1848 to protect the Milanesi from Austrianrntroops, he refused to join the war,rnalleging both the very’ real threat of a Germanrnschism if die Church took a nationalrnside in the war and arguing thernChurch’s eommitiiient to peace. Thernforeseeable resrdt was an immediate reversalrnof “public opinion” (which meantrnthen what it means now, the support ofrnindoctrinated liberals) and a virtual rebellionrnagainst the Pope.rnWhen die Pope sent a message to thernemperor, asking him to grant the Italiansrntiieir freedom, the emperor respondedrnwirii contempt. In one brief period, thernPope lost the support of Austria and alienatedrnthe Italian nationalists. The moderate-rnliberal government he had allowed tornform in Rome —under attack from secretrnsocieties and rabble-rousers —collapsedrnin bickerings and rhetorical frenzy.rnWhen Pius appointed a responsible andrnenergetic moderate-liberal —PellegrinornRossi—to head the government, the poorrnman was assassinated and the Romanrnrabble treated this despicable murder asrnan act of patriotism.rnThe onK’ c|nestion for Pius IX was notrn;’/ or when to flee, but where. Altiiough herntook refuge in the reactionary Kingdomrnof Naples, he preserved his independencernby refusing to accept the king’srnhospitality. Back in Rome, Garibaldirnshowed up to lead the military campaignrnagainst die inevitable attack, and Mazzinirnarrived and made himself a virtual dictator.rnMazzini’s real character was revealedrnin diose dav’s, as he attempted torn26/CHRONlCLESrnrnrn