Vatican State

The State of the Vatican City

In the Eighteenth and Nineteenth Centuries the position in the church of the rulers of largely Roman Catholic states continued to represent an issue. In France the Bourbons developed Gallicanism as a theory to justify their ecclesiastical pretensions; Louis XIV was its chief proponent, but the revolutionists of 1790 used it in the Civil Constitution of the Clergy, banned by Pope Pius VI (1775-1799). In 1796, French troops under Napoleon Bonaparte invaded the Papal States and many art treasures passed into French possession. The weakness of the papacy became more and more evident. In 1798 the French occupied Rome, deported the pope, and proclaimed Rome a republic. When Pope Pius VII (1800-1823)  reentered Rome in 1800 to protect the sanctity of the Holy See, Napoleon reoccupied the city in 1808 and the Pope was imprisoned, and in 1809 Rome was annexed to France. Papal rule was restored in 1814.

Pope Pius IX (1846-1878), who ruled during a crucial period, yielded to liberal demands and granted a constitution. However, disorders in 1848 caused his flight to Gaeta, and once more Rome became a republic, under the leadership of Giuseppe Mazzini. French troops intervened, defeated the republican forces under Giuseppe Garibaldi, and restored Pius IX, who made no further attempts at liberalism.

The Italian kingdom, proclaimed in 1862, included most of the former Papal States but not Rome, which remained under papal rule as a virtual protectorate of Napoleon III. Napoleon's fall in 1870 made possible the occupation of Rome by Italian troops, and, in 1871, Rome became the capital of Italy. Pius IX and his successors, however, did not recognize their loss of temporal sovereignty. The conflict between pope and king (or Vatican and Quirinal, as the antagonists were designated because of the location of their palaces) was not solved until the conclusion (1929) of the Lateran Treaty, which gave the pope sovereignty over Vatican City.

The following popes turned more toward pure spiritual and moral leadership. The growth of Catholicism in areas outside Europe tended to make the pope more and more the single unifying force in the church and therefore fundamentally an international figure. A succession of dynamic popes strengthened this effect: Leo XIII (1878-1903), Pius X (1903-1914), Benedict XV (1914-1922), Pius XI (1922-1939), Pius XII (1939-1958), John XXIII (1958-1963), Paul VI (1963-1978), and John Paul II (1978-2005) strove to reorient the church in the modern world, to combat secularism, and to extend morality in social relations.

 

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