24 AUGUST 1850, Page 12


Wrinx the Papacy is, by the sufferance of England, enjoying an insolent predominancy in Ireland, in the Sardinian States it is waging a serious contest against freedom of opinion, after a fashion which revives our regret that the patriots of Italy have not more generally hit upon some mode of improving the oppor- tunity offered to them for acting under a royal alliance. his contest in Piedmont might alone serve as the turning-point of a great revolution with a royal sanction; and with this advantage, that success, and a great step in advance, would be certain. The case is this. Santa Rosa, the promoter of measures which made the clergy amenable to the civil courts—in itself a revolu- tion—was dying; Cardinal Franzoni, who had been reduced to submission under the civil courts, ordered the clergy to refuse the last rites of the Romish religion to the dying Minister ; thus most blindly placing the Church in open and direct antagonism to the Government, to the opinion of the day, and to the humanity of the public. The people called out for the expulsion of the order of regular clergy who had so contumaciously abetted the Archbishop Cardinal, and the order has been expelled.. The Court, the Govern- ment, and the People of Piedmont, therefore, are arrayed in open war against the Church. Austria sides with Rome ; backing the declaration of Cardinal Antonelli, that the Italian states cannot alter their ecclesiastical institutions without the assent of the Pope, and enforcing the de- mand for the expulsion of a newspaper editor who has opposed Franzoni. Here then the Church is on the same side with the "Foreigner" whose sway in Italy is so detested.

Ultimate success for the Italians is all but certain. The Church holds its authority only by. the spontaneous submission of the people : the silent march of opinion has long undermined the clerical dominion; it has been fatally jarred in the recent convulsions of political society, and can never regain its former repute of infalli- bffity. Had the first mild relaxations and reforms of Pius the Ninth been suffered to proceed, they might have postponed the downfall of the Church; but now the Church has betrayed itself to the impracticable position of restoring its absolute and infallible authority, with the further mistake of uniting itself to the hated alien. The tiara bears the two-beaked eagle on its front—the traditional hatreds of Guelph and Ghibelline are united against modern opinion ; and modern opinion has on its side at least one court of the Italian states.

How fine an opportunity for the true patriot statesmen to take their stand here, upon this ground, and in this alliance ! No doubt, the Italians have a right to insist upon "the Republic" if they please ; but it is clear that the Republic is an affair of paulo-post- faturum, while the triumph of nationality and civil guarantee of religious freedom could be gained in Piedmont now. What part is our Government taking in this matter? Any ? none ? or an Austrian part ?