The role of the Catholic Church in the unification of Italy Paper
The Catholic Church had a positive and a negative role depending on the situation also who is the Pope at the time. Puis VIII abolished Napoleonic legal codes as well as cancelling uniform weights, measures, laws some were seen as unreasonable such as abandoning street lightening, and vaccinations. Nevertheless it is through mutual feelings that people unite whether it is positive or negative. The Italians wanted to get rid of Austrian rule over their state; this was the main reason for unification. The church did play appositive role which was mostly influenced by Pope Puis IX who allowed thousands of political prisoners to be released.
The fact that he was liberal was very promising as his views comprehended with those who wanted change and by having an authority figure like the Pope was very beneficial to the cause of unifying Italy. He was in power when the Vienna settlement was issued. Through it the Pope received the Papal States. He then abolished the Napoleonic legal code, therefore it was no longer fair and also downgraded women s it was not based on rank. Another result of it was the increase of power in government he had. His new rules also include only ecclesiastical being allowed in government.
This therefore meant any changes that occurred had to be approved by the church first. It also means liberal ideas were never presented so therefore never approved. Having control over government allowed the church to have control over the whole country, this was evident by the laws he abolished. Consequently Italy as progressing backwards as they were getting rid of advances that had been made under Napoleonic rule. Possibly because of the fact that they may have felt threatened by the advances made leaving the Italians feeling more secure and better off which they didn’t want for them.
Also this way the Italians would have come to clear terms with the church had taken over as well as the Austrians. Since they both supported each other as well as hating the French who imposed a big threat to them because they were a super power and preferred by the rest of Italy, compared to them. The Napoleonic times were mostly hated by the church and the Pope as their power was seriously reduced as there was a new representative government and standardised laws were introduced. It was these times when Italy was grouped as three States that there was a sense of nationalism that had been divided by the Vienna settlement and the Pope.
They made sure all the Napoleonic advances were destroyed when Italy became once again totally divided. This therefore had a negative effect on unification. Nevertheless Italians weren’t prepared to live under such circumstances. Which lead to secret societies being set up like the carbonari promoting unification in Italy. Although the church had a negative effect it was through this that Italians felt that unification was a possible solution, in allowing the negativity of the Pope to promote unity. Since the church had control over Italy more Italians wanted unity rather than being under the control of the church and Austria.
Press censorship was introduced by the church and they had power over education in piedmont also courts. In education the subject modern history wasn’t taught as they felt it was to dangerous allowing the young generation to gain revolutionary ideas. The law courts were unfair and bias in their verdicts. It was this hatred the church caused that unity was considered. Another negative effect was caused by Pope Gregory XVI who was considered to be anti-reformist. Mainly due to the fact of him requesting help from Austria when the there revolts in the Papal States.
This therefore meant his anti reform were also imposed on others greatly as he had so much power over Catholics. This was common for him to have so much power and influence the view of others who believed and supported his view which is why in 1846, Pope VXI came into power many Italians were pleased. The new pope was promoting unity. Firstly hew was liberal and he began realising the need for reform. Which is why thousands of political prisoners were released from prison and hundreds returned from exile. There was also fair representation in government with laymen not just church people.
Plans for street lighting and railways were being put in place. An electrical constructive assemble was set up and freedom of the press was reintroduced. All of this promoted unification as Italians felt that the Pope would be a suitable candidate for the leader of the new state. The Pope was said to be a follower of Gioberti, who believed Italy should become a confederation headed by the Pope and as writher such as Gioberti and Balbo had influences this meant their ideas were considered. As the Pope was supporting liberalism he had gone against the Austrians very much as compared to Pope Puis VIII.
When Charles Albert’s arm declared war on Austria, the pope became reluctant to this idea as he believed that he could not declare war on another catholic country. This resulted in a negative effect toward unity as he was considered to be the leader of it all. It also meant that support was lost for the unification process especially by those who considered religion more important than political freedom. When the Pope’s chief minister was assonated it resulted in the pope fleeing which allowed a government to be set up in his presences.
A constitution was called and Rome was declared a republic, so it was the end of temporal power as the Pope no longer in charge. However it did not last long as the Pope gained outside help from France and Spain who went an army of 20,000. Garibaldi and Mazzini both tried to defend Rome but it was taken over by the French and the power was handed back to the Pope. Cavour felt to achieve unity the Pope had to be eliminated and the idea of him leading a confederation. He did this by suppressing the church as he knew they may increase in their power i. . take over or stop piedmont from taking over as they were against a unified Italy.
This lead to 152 monasteries and 1700 benefices removed also the influence of the church was restricted. This allowed piedmonts control to be increased and therefore allowing piedmont to take over as the head of Italian unification. Once piedmont had gained control of Rome and Venetia it meant their constituencies were adapted. This was largely hated by the Pope as he believed it was not the efficient way to run a catholic country.
Catholics were forbidden to have any political links with the kingdom and many religions a s it would mean you could go to hell. The pope also became more hostile to the Italians state in 1864 he published “syllables of error” in which he condemned everything which was modern. By 1870 the pope was still against the new state and also remained in the Vatican. He also published the doctrine of Papal Infallibility in which the freedom of religion was apposed. Consequently the church had a great influence in Italy’s role of unification, it can be said that their role was mostly negative.
Especially from the start when all Napoleonic laws were abolished and the church was mostly pleased with its new found power. This meant that unification was very much not promoted as it would mean a decrease in their power. They had a negative role till the very end when the Pope was ready to lead a unified Italy in 1846 was against the unified State in 1861 and he also excommunicated the rules. Even though they had a negative role this added the hatred allowing Italians to consider other opinions. However this is not as strong as having a possible role for promoting unification. A role that did not occur or was not present as much.