Page:Vactican as a World Power.djvu/383

This page needs to be proofread.


the subject-matter of an infallible doctrinal decision. Nor did the wide-spread fear that arbitrary and ill-considered use would be made of the Papal teaching authority as defined in any sense prove valid. It is theologically uncertain whether any of the Papal pronouncements since the Vatican Council is to be looked upon as an ex cathedra decision. The intellectual tumult which lasted throughout the Council and continued even afterward soon quieted down, at least in so far as Catholics were concerned; and the bishops who had opposed the de- cision also accepted it. Nevertheless a stubborn centre of resistance was formed in the new religious communion of Old Catholics, who, though they were not fully in agreement among themselves, not only repudiated Papal infallibility and Roman primacy but in addition abjured essential elements of Catholic teaching and practice. At the end they were nearer to Protestantism than their name would indicate. Since the days when this secession took place, opinion has on the whole been more just to the decrees of the Council. It is realized that the See of Peter had only drawn the conclusions that followed from the high dignity of its religious office; and it would seem that this deepened awareness of its awesome character has been everything else but an incentive to issue ex cathedra decisions, on any but tie weightiest grounds.

After voting on the question of infallibility, most of the prelates in attendance at the Council left Rome either because of the Franco- Prussian war or because of the summer heat. The general dispensa- tion granted by the Pope was to last until the sessions could be re- sumed in November; but events which happened in Italy immediately thereafter rendered it impossible for the bishops to return. Pied- montese troops invaded the Papal States and occupied Rome. When Pius IX learned on the morning of September 2oth, that Cadorna's artillery had opened a breach in the Porta Pia, he cried "Consttm- matum est" In a sense this might be said of the Papacy, which had achieved its own inner perfection just a little prior to the loss of its temporal sovereignty. Despite all the evils that may be enumerated, the Papal States did a great deal for the religious mission of Peter's successors and not merely for the Papacy as the institutional repre- sentative of an incomparably lofty ideal. They also aided the civic and cultural progress of Europe. But their time and their significance