1871-1890 History of Italy 1914-1918

Papacy, 1890-1914

Pope Leo XIII (since 1878) continued in office until 1903. The relations between the papacy and Italy continued to be strained, the popes continued to call on Catholics not to participate in Italian general elections. Therefore, the papacy tended to lean more toward France.
In 1891, the encyclical Rerum Novarum addressed the social misery many workers in the industry had to endure, a document which encouraged a Catholic workers' movement (trade unions, even political parties). This movement, in contrast to the socialist movement, rejected the use of violence categorically. However, when it came to political confrontation, the papacy sided with the establishment. Another important encyclical was Graves de communi (1901), on christian democracy. Here the papacy was inconsequent; while it requested of the French Catholics to accept and support the republic without reservation, she continued on a non-cooperation course with the Italian state; only in 1919 was the Partito Populare Italiana (PPI, Catholic Party) established. Yet Pope Pius X. permitted individual Catholics to take up a seat in the Italian parliament, as long as they did not do so as representatives of Catholics.
Leo XIII. died in 1903; he was succeeded by Pius X. (1903-1914, Giuseppe Sarto). Under him, the revision of Canonic Law was begun. He also conducted a reform of the papal administration. The Catechism for the archdiocesis of Rome, and the Brevier were revised. Pius X. emphasized bible studies and the discipline of the clergy; he turned against the Modernism (Reform Catholicism) advocated by a number of theologians in France, Italy, Britain and the U.S.; their main representatives were excommunicated.
In 1904 France and the papal administration disagreed over the appointment of bishops; France interrupted diplomatic relations and passed a law separating church and state; the pope condemned the law (Vehementer nos, 1906), which reduced the French Catholic church to a private organization. Portugal followed the French model (1911); later other countries would follow.

Biography of Leo XIII., from Catholic Encyclopedia, 1910 edition
Biography of Pius X., from Catholic Encyclopedia, 1913 edition
Rerum Novarum, from Catholic Encyclopedia
DOCUMENTS Encyclicals of Leo XIII., from Vatican
Encyclicals of Pius X., from Vatican
Rerum Novarum, from Vatican
REFERENCE Book Reviews : Papal State, from History Book Reviews

Franz Xaver Seppelt, Georg Schwaiger, Geschichte der Päpste (History of the Popes), München : Kösel 1964, 572 pp., in German [G]
Article : Italy - See and Church of Rome, in : Statesman's Year Book 1895 pp.684-689, 1898 pp.682-688, 1901 pp.769-775 [G]
Article : Rome, See and Church of, in : Statesman's Year Book 1905 pp.1026-1033, 1910 pp.1124-1130 [G]
Article : Roman Catholic Church, in : Appleton's Annual Cyclopedia and Register of Important Events 1902 pp.596-600 [G]
Article : Roman Catholic Church, in : New International Year Book 1907 pp.685-687, 1908 pp.617-618, 1909 pp.621-623, 1913 pp.601-603, 1914 pp.609-610 [G]

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First posted on August 31st 2002, last revised on April 20th 2007

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