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Papal Allocution April 1848

Papal Allocution of April 29 1848

Allocution of Pius IX, delivered in a secret consistory

Venerable Brothers!
More than once have We, in this Our assembly, denounced the audacity of some persons who, Venerable Brothers, had not scrupled to inflict wrong upon Us, and through Us upon this Holy See, by concluding falsely that We had departed, and not in one point alone, from the ever sacred maxims of our Predecessors; nay, horrible to say from the very doctrine of the Church. Nor, in truth, at this day are there wanting men who thus speak of Us, as though We had been the especial authors of the public commotions which have recently occurred, not only in other parts of Europe, but likewise in Italy. And, particularly, we have learned, from the Austrian dominions in Germany, that it is there bruited and disseminated among the people, that the Roman Pontiff has dispatched emissaries, and has by the employment of other arts excited the populations of Italy to introduce strange alterations into the course of public affairs. We have learned, furthermore, that some enemies of the Catholic religion have hence taken occasion to inflame the minds of the Germans, and to separate themselves in the heat of resentment from the unity of this Holy See. We, indeed have not the smallest doubt that the people of Catholic Germany, and the highly distinguished Bishops who govern it, vehemently abhor the wickedness of such men. Yet We apprehend that it appertains to Us to repair, or prevent, the offence that might be taken by some precipitate and somewhat simple persons, as well as to rebut the calumny which redounds not only to the contempt of our own person, but also of the supreme Apostolate which We exercise, and of this Holy See …

… It is not unknown to you, Venerable Brethren, that ever since the later years of our Predecessor, Pius VII,. the chief Sovereigns of Europe have sought to induce the Apostolic See to adopt, in the administration of civil affairs, such and such modes of proceeding, as more conciliatory, and more conformable to the wishes of the laity, than those in use …

… Accordingly, when, by the inscutable decree of God, We were put in his place, We at the outset, not stimulated by encouragements or advice, but prompted by our own singular affection towards the people placed under the temporal dominion of the Church, granted more large indulgence to those who had departed from their duty of allegiance to the Pontifical Government; and we subsequently made speed to adopt certain measures, which We had judged conducive in themselves to the prosperity of the people. And the whole of the acts which We have thus performed at the very commencement of our Pontificate, are in thorough correspondence with those most anxious desires of the European Sovereigns.
But after that, by the help of God, our plans had been brought into effect, not only our own people but those of neighbouring States manifested an exulting joy, and applauded Us with public congratulations and testimonials of respect, in such a mode as made it our duty to take care, even in this exalted City, to keep within due bounds popular outbursts, acclamations, and assemblages, that broke forth with an excess of vehemence …

… But every one is well aware of those public commotions in the Italian states, to which We have already referred; as well as of the other events which, out of Italy or within it, had, or have since happened. If then, any one will pretend, that what We did in good will at the commencement of our reign has at all opened the way for these events, he can in no way ascribe this to our doing, since our acts have been none other than such as, not We alone, but likewise the Sovereigns before mentioned, had judged to be seasonable for the well-being of our temporal dominions …

… Besides which, the above-mentioned people of Germany could not be incensed with Us, if it had been absolutely impossible for Us to restrain the ardour of those persons, within our temporal sway, who have thought fit to applaud the acts done against them in Upper Italy, and who caught by the same ardour as others for the cause of their own Nation, have, together with the subjects of other Italian States, exerted themselves on behalf of that cause.
For several other European Potentates, greatly excelling Us in the number of their troops, have been unable at this particular epoch to resist the impetus of their people.
Moreover, in this condition of affairs, We have declined to allow the imposition of any other obligation on our soldiers, dispatched to the confines of the Pontifical State, except that of maintaining its integrity and security.

But, seeing that some at present desire that We too, along with the other Princes of Italy and their subjects, should engage in war against the Austrians, We have thought it convenient to proclaim clearly and openly, in this our solemn Assembly, that such a measure is altogether alien from our counsels, inasmuch as We, albeit unworthy, are upon earth the vice-regent of Him that is the Author of Peace and the Lover of Charity, and, conformably to the function of our supreme Apostolate, We reach to and embrace all kindreds, peoples, and nations, with equal solicitude of paternal affection. But if, notwithstanding, there are not wanting among our subjects those who allow themselves to be carried away by the example of the rest of the Italians, in what manner could We possibly curb their ardor?

And in this place We cannot refrain from repudiating, before the face of all nations, the treacherous advice, published moreover in journals, and in various works, of those who would have the Roman Pontiff to be the head and to preside over the formation of some sort of novel Republic of the whole Italian people. Rather, on this occasion, moved hereto by the love We bear them, We do urgently warn and exhort the said Italian people to abstain with all diligence from the like counsels, deceitful and ruinous to Italy herself, and to abide in close attachment to their respective Sovereigns, of whose good will they have already had experience, so as never to let themselves be torn away from the obedience they owe them. For if they should do otherwise, they not only would fail in their own duty, but would also run a risk of rending Italy herself, every day more and more, with fresh discords and intestine factions. As to what concerns Us, We declare again and again, that the Roman Pontiff bestows all his thoughts, cares, and anxiety, towards quickening the daily increase of the Kingdom of Christ, which is the Church: not towards the enlargement of the boundaries of the temporal Sovereignty, which it has pleased Divine Providence to confer on this Holy See, for its own dignity, and in order to secure the free exercise of the Supreme Apostolate …

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The European Revolutions of 1848 begin
A broad outline of the background to the onset of the turmoils and a consideration of some of the early events in Paris, Berlin, Vienna, Budapest and Prague.

The French Revolution of 1848
A particular focus on France - as the influential Austrian minister Prince Metternich, who sought to encourage the re-establishment of "Order" in the wake of the French Revolutionary and Napoleonic turmoil of 1789-1815, said:-"When France sneezes Europe catches a cold".

The "Italian" Revolution of 1848
A "liberal" Papacy after 1846 helps allow the embers of an "Italian" national aspiration to rekindle across the Italian Peninsula.

The Revolution of 1848 in the German Lands and central Europe
"Germany" (prior to 1848 having been a confederation of thirty-nine individually sovereign Empires, Kingdoms, Electorates, Grand Duchies, Duchies, Principalities and Free Cities), had a movement for a single parliament in 1848 and many central European would-be "nations" attempted to promote a distinct existence for their "nationality".

Widespread social chaos allows the re-assertion of Dynastic / Governmental Authority
Some instances of social and political extremism allow previously pro-reform liberal elements to join conservative elements in supporting the return of traditional authority. Such nationalities living within the Habsburg Empire as the Czechs, Croats, Slovaks, Serbs and Romanians, find it more credible to look to the Emperor, rather than to the democratised assemblies recently established in Vienna and in Budapest as a result of populist agitation, for the future protection of their nationality.
The Austrian Emperor and many Kings and Dukes regain political powers. Louis Napoleon, (who later became the Emperor Napoleon III), elected as President in France offering social stability at home but ultimately follows policies productive of dramatic change in the wider European structure of states and their sovereignty.

Other Popular European History pages
at Age-of-the-Sage

The preparation of these pages was influenced to some degree by a particular "Philosophy of History" as suggested by this quote from the famous Essay "History" by Ralph Waldo Emerson:-
There is one mind common to all individual men...
Of the works of this mind history is the record. Its genius is illustrated by the entire series of days. Man is explicable by nothing less than all his history. Without hurry, without rest, the human spirit goes forth from the beginning to embody every faculty, every thought, every emotion, which belongs to it in appropriate events. But the thought is always prior to the fact; all the facts of history pre-exist in the mind as laws. Each law in turn is made by circumstances predominant, and the limits of nature give power to but one at a time. A man is the whole encyclopaedia of facts. The creation of a thousand forests is in one acorn, and Egypt, Greece, Rome, Gaul, Britain, America, lie folded already in the first man. Epoch after epoch, camp, kingdom, empire, republic, democracy, are merely the application of his manifold spirit to the manifold world.