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Chapter 15 The Catholic Church in the Nineteenth and Twentieth Centuries


The world — in transition intellectually and culturally and therefore spiritually — has been blessed in the nineteenth and the twentieth centuries with very holy popes.

1. How did Pope Pius VII and Napoleon get along together?

Pope Pius VII (1800-1823) was invited to come to Paris to crown Napoleon emperor of France in 1804. While advised not to go, the pope felt it could help the Church. The pope was well received as he traveled through France. Napoleon, however, received him coolly, and placed the crown on his own head after the pope had blessed it, after taking the crown out of the pope's hands. During his entire stay in France, Napoleon was discourteous to this chief Vicar of Christ on eCatholic Church Historyarth.

Napoleon, during his entire reign, attempted to force Pope Pius VII to obey his will. In 1809 Napoleon took possession of the Papal States and the pope was brought to France as a prisoner. The pope was kept from all communication from the outside world. He was not even permitted his breviary for the official daily prayers of the Church.

Napoleon had ambitions to rule the world. In the spring of 1805, Austria, Russia, and Sweden joined England against France. By 1808, Napoleon's Grand Army was the most powerful in Europe. It had annihilated the armies of Austria, and Prussia, defeated the Russians, and forced the Hapsburg Holy Roman emperor, Francis II, to give up his title, held by the Hapsburg family since the fifteenth century. Napoleon's armies, having imprisoned the pope, occupied Portugal and brought all of Europe east of Spain under control.

Spain offered resistance but was weak. The city of Zaragoza put up a heroic fight against the French, as its leader dedicated his cause to the Mother of God in the chapel of the Pillar Virgin. This one city, alone, weakened French troops and morale, even though the Zaragozans finally lost the battle.

In 1808 the British landed in Portugal and, due to the weakened conditions of the French, caused by the Spaniards, succeeded in driving the French out of Portugal. Although the Spaniards had been despised throughout Europe for being weak, yet, due to them, Napoleon's power in Europe began to weaken. Still, Napoleon looked to Russia. His troops marched toward Russia thinking they would have an easy victory. On the snowy fields of Russia, Napoleon's immense army, estimated to be as many as 1 million, was reduced to hardly 50,000 men. Without success, Napoleon tried to build up his Grand Army again.

The Battle of Nations took place at Leipzig in October 1813. The armies of Austria, Russia, and Prussia defeated the French troops, and on March 31, 1884, the Allies captured Paris. Napoleon was sent into exile on the island of Elba.

Napoleon escaped from Elba and came back to France to rally an army around him, as men forgot the defeats and remembered only the glory. A gear battle was fought at Waterloo in Belgium and the power of Napoleon was broken forever. He was taken prisoner and went to the island of St. Helena in the South Atlantic, where he died.

In 1814 Pope Pius VII returned to Rome.

2. Relate the Pope's return to the Eternal City and the tradition of the confidence of Popes in Mary as Help of Christians in the Church's battles with worldly powers.

The treaty of peace, signed at Vienna in 1815, ended the War of Nations in Europe with Napoleon. The Papal States were given back to the pope.

While God respects man's free will, however badly he uses it, yet a close study of history reveals that Jesus Christ is Lord and King, and God is ultimately the author of all history. We recall how in 1571, a huge Turkish armada had set sail to capture the Eternal City and that Pope St. Pius V called upon every Catholic to invoke the aid of the Mother of God under her title Help of Christians. An insignificant Christian fleet was victorious, saving Christendom on that day of October 7, 1571, and the pope proclaimed a new feast in honor of Our Lady of the Most Holy Rosary, as he asked Catholics to storm heaven unceasingly with rosaries.

In 1683 the Arabs tried again with an army of 200,000 Turks, facing an army of 30,000 Christians whom they besieged in Vienna. Pope Innocent XI called upon Catholics to take the cause to our Lady Help of Christians, reciting her rosary. The Battle of Vienna began on the birthday of our Lady, September 8, and the Turkish army was crushed by the small Christian fleet on the Feast of the Holy Name of Mary. The Turkish fleet never again was a threat to Christendom.

Over a century later, in 1800, the French, under Napoleon, succeeded in doing what the Turks had failed to accomplish. Rome, the Eternal City, fell. Fifty venerated churches in Rome were burned and Pope Pius VI was imprisoned in France, where he died (as already noted). The pope died from ill treatment. The forces of atheism seemed to be triumphant. It was thought, "God is dead...the Pope is dead." When the new pope, Pius VII, was elected, anti-Catholic newspapers said: "Not Pius VII but Pius the last!"

As noted, in 1809 Bonaparte again seized the Pope, dragged him to a prison in France, and made most of Europe his subjects. Faced with this, Pope Pius VII, according to tradition, made a vow to our Lady. If she would restore freedom to the Church, he would honor her with a new feast. The Pope succeeded in smuggling a message to the world's bishops to ask Catholics to pray to Our Lady Help of Christians for deliverance.

We have seen how Napoleon, at the head of an army of 1 million men, set out to conquer the world's largest country. By spring, most of his men were dead and Napoleon was no longer emperor. On the same day that Napoleon signed his abdication, Pope Pius VII, who had no armies, made his triumphal reentry into the Eternal City, Rome. He had spent five terrible years in prison. On that very day, May 24, 1814, remaining true to his vow to God's Mother, the pope proclaimed the Feast of Mary Help of Christians as his first official act.

3. Did the Church continue to work to show men how to preserve true liberty?

Yes. In the first part of the nineteenth century the Church worked hard to defend her rights against the new governments in Europe. The Church is a true friend of democracy because she has always preached that before God there is neither bond men nor free, rich nor poor. God respects all persons, and we cannot love God unless we love our neighbors as ourselves. We cannot recognize God as Father if we do not recognize one another as brothers.

Still, in the minds of people, the Church had become closely associated with kings of the past. Therefore many looked upon the Church as the enemy of liberty. Many preached a "separation of Church and state," but meant that the state should be supreme over the Church. These men, called Liberalists, were suspicious of the Church, which was international, and held that man is a law unto himself and there is no divine authority.

When Pope Gregory XVI (1831-1846) became the Vicar of Christ in 1831, he worked hard to educate men on the true position of the Church. He opposed rebellion as a means of settling political questions. He encouraged the world to bring to the attention of the world the true Catholic position on social questions.

4. How did the Church revive in France?

Some Catholic laymen came to the support of the Church, to defend her against the government. One of these was a brilliant newspaperman, who though he made some mistakes, was humble and corrected his position when they were pointed out by the Pope. He then became a Dominican priest — Père Lacordaire, who became a great preacher. All Paris longed to crowd the great Cathedral of Notre Dame to listen to his sermons.

There was also Frederick Ozanam. Formerly interested in law, and besieged with doubts, he came, when only 20 years of age, with seven other young men to found the Society of St. Vincent de Paul. Interested in Catholic education, he worked to develop Catholic teachers so that children and youth would not lose the faith.

5. Tell about the Catholic revival in German.

The Romantic movement in literature, which turned to the study of the history of Germany during the Middle Ages, helped the Catholic cause in Germany, it was learned how the Church had helped the lives of people during the ages of faith.

There were also men like Clement Hofbauer, who became the great Apostle of Vienna; he died in 1820 and was canonized in 1909 by Pope Pius X. The government gave the Church much trouble regarding mixed marriages, until Joseph von Görres, a professor in the University of Munich, wrote a book called Athanasius. It became a best seller and the government was obliged to give victory to the Church. A prominent lawyer, Wilhelm Emmanuel von Ketteler, read the book and gave up his office to study for the priesthood. Eventually he became the bishop of Mainz and a great preacher and defender of the Church in Germany.

6. How were Catholics in Ireland given freedom?

A law that was passed in 1801 united Ireland closely to England and made it possible for the Irish people to be in Parliament, but not if they remained sincere Catholics. Members of Parliament had to take an oath which denied the doctrine on the Eucharist, viz., transubstantiation of bread and wine into the Lord's Body and Blood at the Consecration of the Mass — as well as the sacrifice of the Mass itself and the intercessory prayers of the saints.

Daniel O'Connell was the outstanding leader for the cause of Catholic emancipation. The French Revolution had closed the college at Douai, where Daniel was a student, and as a result he made a vow to become a champion for law and order. In 1827 O'Connell was elected a member of Parliament for Country Clare, after had had been active in an organization called the Catholic Association, which esixted to win equal rights for Catholics in Ireland and England. The British government knew that the popular O'Connell would not take the oath against his faith, and they feared a rebellion among Catholics would break out in the two countries.

The king signed the Act of Catholic Emancipation on April 13, 1829, which permitted Catholics to sit in Parliament without taking the oath that was contrary to Catholic faith. O'Connell became one of the most popular orators of his time, entering the House of Commons in 1830. He fought for freedom for Ireland until his death.

7. Relate the Catholic Revival in England.

Since the Protestant Revolt, the freedom of Catholics in England had been restricted. The Act of Catholic Emancipation permitted Catholics in England to worship publicly. In 1835 Fr. Gentili (from Italy), a member of the Fathers of the Institute of Charity, arrived in England. This group introduced the Forty Hours' Devotion to Our Lord in the Most Blessed Sacrament, devotions to God's Mother through the month of May, and other Catholic devotions once popular among Catholics in England. Passionists and Redemptorists came from Ireland, France and Belgium. The 1846 Irish famine brought many Irish Catholics to England. Non-Catholics were edified at their piety. Interest in the Catholic faith began to develop in England, which had been forced out of the Church under Henry VIII.

The Church of England (Anglicanism) had been losing its hold on the people. Converts began to come into the Catholic Church from the Church of England. Dr. Wiseman, president of the English College at Rome, and who later became Cardinal Wiseman, preached in London and won many converts. Cardinal Henry Edward Manning was a convert in England. As archbishop of Westminster, he wrote the book The Eternal Priesthood, still considered a classic.

The Oxford Movement (1833-1845) represented growing interest in the Catholic Church in the Protestant University of Oxford. The most famous convert in the Oxford Movement was John Henry Newman, who had been considered the most famous preacher among the Protestants in England. He entered the Catholic Church in 1845, then studied for the priesthood in Rome, and returned to England to establish the English Congregation of the Oratory of St. Philip Neri. In 1879 Pope Leo XIII made this world-famous convert a cardinal of the Church. The writings of John Henry Cardinal Newman are considered some of the best explanations of the Catholic faith, and most valuable in anwering problems and questions of faith in the latter part of this twentieth century.1

8. What happened during the early nineteenth century that greatly changed the manner of people's lives?

The Industrial Revolution caused people to leave the farms and villages and to move near the factories in the big cities. This brought many changes in family life, as its members were not so closely united, no longer living and working together on farms. Members of all ages went off to the factories to work, and even children worked long hours away from home.

The Industrial Revolution began around 1769, when James Watt (in England) invented the steam engine. This aided rapid transportation, and large quantities of factory-made goods became available. While this had benefits, it also created social problems: individual, hand-made items became less important while men became almost parts of machines, working in drab factories for long hours.

It was mostly in England and America that the inventions that spurred the Industrial Revolution occurred. Inventions like the spinning jenny, steamboat, railroad engine, electric motors and generators, telegraph, reaper — all had a profound effect on the lives of people. "Capitalism" developed, by which a few with money could control the work and lives of many. Unequal distribution of wealth and property became more and more evident.

The theory of "laissez-faire" (leave alone) developed, which caused governments not to interfere in the management of capitalists. This led to many abuses: long working hours for children and teenagers, poor pay, inadequate working conditions, etc. Something began to be done about the abuses with the Factory Act, passed in England in 1833, which forbade the hiring of children under 9 years of age. Those from 9 to 13 could work no more than 48 hours a week, while teenagers could not work more than 69 hours a week.

In Ireland, the people suffered terribly as their grain was shipped to England under a landlord system, with the English government doing nothing to relieve the extreme hardship of the people whose stable crop, the potato, had repeatedly rotted in the fields.

9. What other developments began during the nineteenth century?

The spirit of laissez-faire capitalism led to much dissatisfaction among working people. They had little money to live on; wealth fell into the hands of a few rich capitalists; "liberal" ideas were espoused with little respect for authority. All this laid the groundwork for an economic theory of socialism which would have the government take over factories and businesses. Utopian ideals developed whereby life on this earth would be glorious if all men owned everything in common and no one had property of his own. Socialists set up communal farms, but most of them soon failed.

Later, socialists proposed that force be used to effect the goals of the peaceful communes. This was the beginning of communism, which we shall learn more about in a later chapter.

10. What was the Communist Manifesto?

The Communist Manifesto was published in 1848 by Karl Marx and Friedrich Engels, containing some of the most dangerous doctrines to freedom and belief in God in the history of the world. It played into the minds and hearts of working people who were dissatisfied with abuses of the day. It stated: "The history of human societies up to the present time has been the history of the class struggle." It urged class struggle, and the overthrown of all in power by force. Religion is the "opium of the people," used by the powerful to keep others weak and ignorant. All law and religion would be done away with in the forceful overthrow by the "proletariat" (workers).

The false doctrines that had developed from the spirit of the Enlightenment, Rationalism, and revolutionary Liberalism, rejecting all authority and faith, and giving birth to the French Revolution, were to be born again in atheistic communism, with its bible the Communist Manifesto.

The Manifesto concludes: "The communists openly proclaim that the only way they can achieve their aims is by the violent destruction of the old order of society. The ruling classes may well tremble at the thought of a communist revolution! The proletarians have nothing to lose in the struggle apart from their chains. They have a whole new world to conquer. Workers of the world unite!"

11. What other abuse developed during the nineteenth century?

Imperialism. This involved European nations' getting economic and political control over non-Western nations. Such nations as Great Britain, France, Germany, and Italy spread their spirit of imperialism, with Liberal ideas, to Asia, Africa, and the Middle East. Instead of spreading Christianity, the spirit of nationalism fostered the desire for cheap raw materials.

12. Which saint flowered in France in the nineteenth century and is still considered the greatest modern saint?

St. ThérPse of Lisieux, also called the Little Flower, developed a spiritual, childlike form of spirituality, and her autobiography, which she wrote "under obedience," has offered inspiration to millions the world over, until and including the present day. Shw was born January 2, 1873, at Alencon in France and entered the Carmelite Order of nuns when very young. She made a special trip to Rome with her saintly father, Louis Martin, and sought special permission from Pope Leo XIII to enter Carmel at the age of 15, although her superiors wanted her to wait until she was 21.

She was miraculously cured, according to accounts of her life, through the intercession of our Lady. As a Carmelite nun, the Little Flower practiced great penance and mortification. She had a keen interest in the spirituality and work of priests and the missions.

Allowed to enter Carmel at 15, she died only nine years later, of tuberculosis. Her "little way" of spiritual childhood, described in her autobiography, is still a best international seller. She died September 30, 1897, promising to shower roses upon the earth.

ThérPse of the Child Jesus was canonized in 1925 and has been declared patron of the foreign missions.2

13. Who was a great priest-saint in France in the nineteenth century?

St. John Vianney, the universal patron of parish priests, was born in Dardilly in 1786. During the Reign of Terror of the French Revolution, priests were forbidden to practice their priesthood. To observe Sunday services was against the law and all religious feast days had been abolished. John Vianney's earliest recollection of participation in the sacrifice of the Mass consisted of his family and neighbors' gathering in secret in a barn outside the village for this holiest of mysteries.

After the revolution, Napoleon permitted greater religious freedom and the Mass could be offered publicly. The father of the future patron of parish priests Matthew Vianney, was a farmer and taught young John to love our Lord in the Sacrament of the Tabernacle. It was Matthew's practice, while on his way to his farm labors, to stop for a visit at the parish church to pray to Our Lord Jesus Christ in the Blessed Sacrament.

Young John Vianney became a teacher to his fellow youth when still very young. His great devotion to our Lady prompted him to place a statue of God's Mother in a hollow in the trunk of a tree, as he and his sister watched over the grazing cows and sheep. There they held religious services, praying the rosary and singing hymns. This attracted neighboring children, some of whom knew nothing about their Catholic faith after years of persecution. The future priest instructed them about God and his Blessed Mother. He built an altar, and the children conducted religious processions through the fields.

Even at the age of 7 or 8, John Vianney felt a call to the priesthood. The revolution had disturbed education generally and the seminaries in particular, and so, with much difficulty, John Vianney (with the help of a good pastor) was ordained. The young priest was sent to Ars, the most undesirable parish in the diocese. The people of Ars had been without a priest for some time, had little instruction, and most did not practice their faith. The villagers were used to much drinking and carousing.

Arriving at Ars in 1821, John Vianney (the Curé d' Ars) began to preach simple sermons on the basics of the Catholic faith, going directly to the people and inviting and exhorting them to practice their faith.

At first the people did not receive the new priest well and he was an object of ridicule. This Curé d' Ars persevered and finally converted the entire village. He practiced great mortification and lived in extreme poverty. He inflicted penances upon his body in reparation and for the conversion of sinners. His devotion to the Mother of God intensified with the years, and eventually his parish was consecrated to the Immaculate Heart of God's Mother. The name of every man, woman, and child of Ars was inscribed on a wooden heart that hung from the neck of the Virgin Mother statue.

God gave great gifts to St. John Vianney, including the ability to "read souls." People began to come to this priest for confession from all over the world. The average day saw him in the confessional for at least 12 and sometimes 16 hours. He also gathered orphan children and formed a home and school for them.

For thirty-eight years this priest labored at Ars, getting little sleep and eating little food. His great sanctity became known the world over in his own lifetime. He died on August 4, 1859, and was canonized by Pope Pius XI on Pentecost Sunday, 1925.3

14. Did the nineteenth century produce any great saint concerned with the catholic education and formation of youth?

Yes. St. John Bosco, the founder of the Salesians, is the patron of Catholic youth, especially boys. John Bosco was born August 15, 1815. When he was 9 years old, his biography relates, God revealed to him how to win boys away from sin and to virtue. It was to be done not by force, but by showing them the evil of sin and the beauty of religious virtue. The Blessed Mother also revealed (the story of his life continues) that she would help him. His mother understood the message as an indication her son would become a priest.

He was ordained in 1841, and his desire to help poor boys grew even stronger. He wanted to build a large school where boys could learn all kinds of trades to get ready for life. His brother priests shook their heads at his supposed madness.

Turin, Italy, was the place where Fr. John Bosco, began his great work, but with much difficulty. Turin was a manufacturing city, and many people suffered from poverty and unemployment. Many poor boys roamed the streets. Fr. John Bosco gathered hundreds of them around himself.

This young priest was hated for his work, and some even attempted to take his life. However, the boys loved their priest and he developed them into strong Catholic men. As other priests saw the success of his work, they joined him, and he developed a religious society under the patronage of St. Francis de Sales, which is therefore know as the Salesians.

Fr. John Bosco had great devotion to Our Lady Help of Christians and built a magnificent church to her honor, laying the cornerstone in 1865. Pope Pius IX helped him, and that magnificent church can be visited to the present day.

This nineteenth-century saint had the greatest loyalty to the pope. On his deathbed he reaffirmed this loyalty, calling upon his followers to be ever "ready to accept the decisions of the Pope, not only in matters of Faith and discipline, but even in those things about which we have a right to disagree." He added: "May they follow the point of view of the Pope, even though he has expressed it only privately."

The Salesians schools of trade spread to every part of the world and their priests do all kinds of pastoral work. Fr. John Bosco died January 31, 1888, and was canonized on Easter Sunday, 1934.4

15. Did God manifest his concern for mankind in any special, supernatural way in the nineteenth century?

God sent his Blessed Mother to Lourdes, France, in 1858, where she appeared to a young girl by the name of Bernadette Soubirous (according to accounts which have survived Church investigations). The Lady at first did not give her name, but later, on March 25, the Feast of the Annunciation, said: "I am the Immaculate Conception." This astounded priests and theologians, for the girl did not understand what the beautiful Lady meant. Four years earlier, on December 8, 1854, Pope Pius IX had solemnly defined it as a dogma of Catholic faith: our Blessed Lady was preserved free from original sin from the moment of her conception. The doctrine that Mary was always free from all sin is called the dogma of the Immaculate Conception.

The Lady asked Bernadette to come to the grotto every day for fifteen days. This is interpreted as in honor of the fifteen mysteries of the rosary. The Lady, on one of her visits, had Bernadette scratch the ground, from which water immediately began to gush forth. It was soon discovered that miracles began to happen when people drank the water and washed themselves with it. Some were cured of every kind of ailment. The Church finally judged that the Mother of God was truly appearing to this young girl.

Bernadette became a nun in 1866. For thirteen years she led a life of bodily suffering as our Lady said that she would be happy, not in this world, but in the next. Pope Pius XI canonized Bernadette on December 8, 1933.5

Lourdes is known internationally and people come by the millions each year to Lourdes, France, to venerate the Mother of God and to pray as they adore their eucharistic Savior. Scientists are baffled by miraculous cures that have taken place at Lourdes.

16. What pope had a long reign in the nineteenth century?

Pope Pius IX became pope in 1846 and ruled the Church until 1878, which was the longest reign of any pope since the first pope, St. Peter. He was only 54 years of age when, as Cardinal Masta-Ferretti, he was elected and crowned. This pope believed in giving the common people more liberty, and so he immediately placed laymen in all the important positions of the Papal States, so that the government would be more democratic. Henceforth, a parliament would conduct the affairs of Rome.

There were eight separate governments on the Italian peninsula at this time and a desire was developing for all of Italy to be united. Two Italian provinces, Lombardy and Venice, were under the control of Austria. Tuscany, Parma, and Modena were ruled by members of the Austrian royal family. In the south, a king ruled Naples and Sicily, who was not accepted by the people because he was supported by the Austrian army.

Despite many controversial positions among Italians, most agreed that disunity was unbearable and so everywhere there was a movement for unity. Some wanted the king of Sardinia to become the ruler of all Italy.

In 1848 a revolution erupted in the Papal States, led by Mazini, who desired to set up a republic in Rome. The pope's prime minister was murdered and the pope was enclosed in the Quirinal Palace. The Spanish ambassador helped the pope to flee to Gaeta in the kingdom of Naples. In Rome, the churches were plundered, priests were killed, and there was a declaration that henceforth the treasures of the Church would belong to the people. On Easter Sunday, Mass was celebrated in St. Peter's Basilica by a disloyal priest, and Mazini placed himself on the pope's throne.

When Pope Pius IX begged for help from Catholic powers in Europe, the Austrians and the French came to his aid, and Mazini and his followers fled to England. When the pope returned to Rome, Austria protected the territory of the pope outside the city and the French protected the pope within the city.

17. How did the Papal States end under Pope Pius IX?

Secret societies in Italy and France plotted the overthrow of the Papal States. The king of Sardinia, through an alliance with France, forced the Austrian to withdraw from Northern Italy. Napoleon III was at war with Germany in 1870 and was compelled to recall his troops from Rome.

Victor Emmanuel of Sardinia assumed the title King of Italy and the general of his army, Guiseppe Garibaldi, laid siege to Rome on September 20, 1870. Pope Pius IX surrendered the city rather than have bloodshed. This ended the pope's governing of the Papal States.

All that the pope was able to keep was St. Peter's Basilica and Vatican Palace. Pope Pius IX would not accept these conditions, and until he died he remained, in protest, a voluntary prisoner in the Vatican.

A treaty of peace was not signed between the Italian government and Pope Pius XI until 1929.

18. With the temporal power of the pope crushed, how did his spiritual influence rise?

The pope was by no means occupied only with temporal problems concerning the Papal States. It was Pope Pius IX who, at the urging of bishops and laity the world over, defined the dogma of the Immaculate Conception on December 8, 1854. In the Marian Era he ushered in, the important role of God's Mother in the life of the Church would become even more evidence during the next hundred years. Catholic devotion to Mary would be greatly increased.6

It was Pope Pius IX who in 1864 issued the Syllabus, a list of errors which consisted of eighty condemned propositions and was published with his encyclical Quanta Cura. "Liberalists" were leading the world astray and confusing many Catholics' understanding of the true faith by presenting false teachings. The pope wanted Catholics to know clearly the difference between true faith and errors.7

In 1869 the bishops of the world assembled in the Basilica of St. Peter's and the Vatican Council, which the pope had long planned, began. There were 698 bishops from around the world. Their first task was to define the Church's teaching on God and divine revelation. In an "Age of Enlightenment," it was shown that there is no contradiction between reason and revelation. True faith and right reason harmonize, for all truth comes from God.

It was Vatican Council I which in 1870 defined the dogma of the infallibility of the pope. The Catholic Church cannot err in matters of faith or morals when it speaks through the pope when he defines a dogma for the entire Catholic world. This position of the Catholic Church, which was always part of Catholic faith since the days of St. Peter and the first apostles, was now clearly spelled out in defined dogma. The pope is indeed the rock upon which Jesus built his Church and promised that the gates of hell would never prevail against it (Mt 16:16-19).

Vatican Council, even as it defined the spiritual authority of the Pope for the teaching Church (magisterium), was besieged by temporal powers, for at that very time Italian armies were marching on the gates of Rome. The council was interrupted and was not officially closed until the beginning of Vatican Council II in 1962.

While the temporal power of the pope was crushed in the takeover of the Papal States, his spiritual power and authority as supreme teacher of faith in the universal Church was more recognized and respected than ever before.

19. Did the Catholic Church expand on any newly settled continent in the nineteenth century?

Yes, on the island continent southeast of Asia, Australia. The first Catholics in the country were Irishmen under penal sentence (1795-1804). The first public Mass was offered May 15, 1803. Official organization of the Church dates from 1820, and only in March 1976 did Pope Paul VI sign a decree removing the continent from the Vatican body in charge of missions.

Today, of Australia's approximately 13 million people, about 3½ million are Catholic, or about 25 percent. (Catholics were among those who rushed to the gold mines after gold was discovered in various parts of Australia, and many remained in the country.)

The Catholic population later increased through immigration. The continent has a large Italian area and many other ethnic groups have Catholics among them. Mary Help of Christians is the patroness of Australia. As in other lands where Catholics explored and missionaries evangelized, Mary has had a major role. There is a St. Mary's Cathedral in Perth and also in Armidale, New South Wales. The church at Ipswich was named St. Mary's. The name of the church at Camberwell is Our Lady of Victories.

This vast continent is as large as the continental United States and is the only continent occupied by one nation. It is the last one developed by Europeans. As for native peoples, Australia claims the Aborigines as comparative newcomers. A nomadic people, they migrated from Southeast Asia.

Australia is one of the oldest land masses in the world. Asians called it the Unknown Land long before any white man sighted it. It was explored by the Portuguese, Spanish, and the Dutch, who named it New Holland.

Greeks knew of this land mass during the second century A.D. when the mathematician Ptolemy drew a map of the known world at that time, he sketched in the known coasts of Asia, showed the Indian Ocean as an enormous lake, and placed a huge, unknown land north of it, called Terra Incognita (Unknown Land). Many did not believe in its existence.

The whole land seemed bleak when a Dutch explorer touched at northern Queensland in 1606. The land was considered not fit for colonizing. Botanists, however, showed interest, and in 1770 Captain James Cook anchored at Botany Bay, which was named for its botanical treasures. He returned eighteen years later and claimed Australia for Great Britain.

Another botanist, Sir John Banks, got the idea that Australia should be an island prison for the British Empire. This was accepted and convicts were sent to Australia. The prisoners were used to open the continent for colonization. On January 18, 1788, the first British fleet, with 1,030 passengers and crew, arrived at Botany Bay with 736 convicts and 200 women.

In 1818 Fr. John Joseph Therry saw a wagonload of convicts rumble through the streets of Cork. Twenty or thirty prisoners in irons were on their way to the docks, bound for Botany Bay and that faraway prison land 7,000 miles from home. The young priest, on the spur of the moment, ran into a nearby bookshop, bought a bundle of prayer books, and threw them into the cart, vowing to follow his countrymen to the ends of the earth to save their souls. That handful of books and Fr. Therry, who was the secretary to Bishop Murphy of Cork, represented early seeds of Catholicism in Australia.

Fr. Therry went to Australia at his own expense and worked among the convicts and their families for fifty years. He built the beautiful Cathedral of St. Mary's in Sydney and is considered Australia's most famous prisoner priest and the forerunner to its Catholic social movement.

Other priests followed Fr. Therry, some becoming bishops and archbishops. The first cardinal from Australia was Fr. Patrick Francis Moran. Archbishop D. Mannix, who had been president of Maynooth University in Ireland, felt called to Australia, and there, as archbishop of Melbourne, he brought intellectual life to the Church on the continent. Bishop Ulllathorne battled for prison and social reform in Australia.

Australia's Church heroine was Caroline Chisholm, who spent her life protecting and rehabilitating women who needed care. She fought for the rights of the children of convicts and paid for the education of many of them, and her piety and religious sense inspired them.

Australia in the nineteenth and twentieth centuries came far in its development from a penal colony. Devout Catholics of Australia claim our Lady had much to do with it. The convicts, who brought their rosaries with them, said them privately and publicly in community. They also had medals, pictures, and prayer cards of the heavenly Mother, who consoled them in their sorrows.

The Catholic children of the convicts grew and prospered in the large continent. They built churches and schools, naming many of them after Mary, the Mother of God and our Savior, Jesus Christ. Immigrants added to their number.

20. Summarize the reign of Pope Leo XIII (1878-1903).

Cathedral Pecci was an old man when he was elected and crowned Pope Leo XIII. People thought his reign would be short. Yet for twenty-five years he ruled the Church with great wisdom and is labeled by historians as among the greatest popes of its 2,000-year history.

Leo XIII was a pope of great intellect and spirituality. He was a great statesman, as evidenced by his settling of Church problems in Germany. The respect of nations for the Church grew tremendously under Pope Leo XIII, and even non-Catholic kings and emperors visited him.

This pope was chosen by God to guide the Church through a period of difficult changes in the world, as the style of people's lives was changed more and more by mechanical inventions, the development of factories, and growing problems for family life and the workingman. The common people suffered greatly under abuses and working conditions in the business of manufacturing. Socialists wanted governments to take over industry so that profits would not go to capitalists.

To help answer the world's questions developed by the problems of industry, Pope Leo wrote the encyclical Rerum novarum (On the Condition of Labor). This caused the study of social problems in the light of Christian principles to be taken seriously on all sides, and Pope Leo became known as a friend of the workingman. He spelled out the position of the state in relation to individual citizens. Writing encyclicals on social questions, he explained workers' rights and duties. He reminded employers of their obligations to the laws of social justice.

Pope Leo XIII encouraged the study of the philosophy and theology of St. Thomas Aquinas. He encouraged devotion to the Sacred Heart of Jesus and to the rosary. He urged parents to dedicate their families to the Holy Family.

Pope Leo XIII developed great Church interest in the missions. He defended the rights of the natives of colonies that were taken over by European nations.8

21. Summarize the reign of Pope St. Pius X.

Cardinal Giuseppe Melchiorre Sarto ascended the papal throne in 1903 as Pope Pius X. his principal aim was "to restore all things in Christ, in order that Christ may be all and in all." He sought to teach and defend Christian truth and law. This pope continued the spirit of the Marian Age by issuing a commemorative encyclical to celebrate the fiftieth anniversary of the proclamation of the dogma of the Immaculate Conception.

Pius X is called the Pope of the Catechism and the Pope of the Holy Eucharist. It was this pope who called for the religious education of youth under the Confraternity of Christian Doctrine. Later canonized by the Church, he called all the laity to Catholic Action, whereby ordinary baptized and confirmed Catholics would share in the work of the hierarchy by working for the conversion of souls in Christ. The work of the Church was to be a total work of all its members and not just the hierarchy, priests, and religious.

It was Pope Pius X who on December 20, 1905, recommended the frequent reception of Communion. In another decree (Quam singulari), of August 8, 1910, he called for the early reception of the sacrament of penance and Communion by children. Children from the age of reason (about 7) should be permitted to receive these sacraments.

Following the lead of Pope Leo XIII in promoting the study of Scholastic philosophy, Pope St. Pius X also promoted it. St. Pius X also had to deal with heretical tendencies, as did Pius IX. On September 7, 1907, Pope St. Pius X, in his encyclical Pascendi gregis, condemned the false teachings known as Modernism which he called a "synthesis of all heresies." This movement had begun at the time of the Protestant Revolt and developed to a point at the beginning of the twentieth century that it was an aggression against true religion.

Modernism, whose dangers still threaten the Church and which surfaced again after Vatican Council II (1962-1965), teaches that the Christ of history and the Christ of faith are different. Jesus Christ, it says, did not personally found the Church or sacraments; it claims these were "historical" developments. Advocates of Modernism seek freedom from religious authority and freedom of conscience, independent of the teaching authority (magisterium) of the Church. Modernism assumes that everything "modern" is more perfect than what had been taught and believed before it. It denies dogma, the power of the sacraments, and the authority of sacred scripture.

Pope Pius X (1903-1914) in September 1910 published the Oath against Modernism and required that all priests take the oath.

This same pope drew up a new collection of Church law, the Code of Canon Law, and extended interest in scriptural studies, establishing the Biblical Institute.

The outbreak of World War I is believed to have hastened his death, for he died August 20, 1914. He was canonized May 29, 1954.

The next pope, Benedict XV (1914-1922), wrote twelve encyclicals, dedicating three of them to the cause of peace. He avoided taking sides in the war and was therefore suspected by both sides. This pope was able to have the "Roman Question" negotiated when he arranged a meeting of Benito Mussolini and the papal secretary of state, and this marked the first step to the final settlement of 1929. In spite of suspicions, this pope did more than all other agencies to break down the barriers of hate separating the nations.

22. Summarize the reign of Pope Pius XI.

Pope Pius XI (1922-1939) was elected to the papacy on February 6, 1922, with the aim of establishing the reign and peace of Christ in society. He canonized the Jesuit Martyrs of North America. He instituted the Feast of Christ the King in 1925 to emphasize that Christ is King of Nations as well as King of Individuals and Families.

Although the World War I peace had been declared, hatred and distrust among nations still reigned. The map of Europe had been changed. A revolution in Russia had destroyed the empire of the czars and this prepared the way for the coming of communism. Relations of the Church with Mussolini's government in Italy deteriorated after 1931, when the freedom and activities of the Church were curbed. Relations also deteriorated with Germany from 1933 on, which resulted in the condemnation of the Nazis in the encyclical Mit Brenneder Sorge (March 1937). This pope was powerless to prevent the civil war which erupted in Spain in July 1936. There was persecution and repression of the Church by the Calles regime in Mexico and, of course, persecution of the Church in Russia. Priests and bishops in Mexico, under Communist influence, were put to death or put in prison. In 1926 there were only 4,000 priests to serve 15 million Catholics. In 1935 only 300 priests could function in all of Mexico.

Pope Pius XI settled the Roman Question, after two and one-half years of negotiations with the Italian government. The Lateran Agreement of 1929 gave the "state" of Vatican City independent status and considered Catholicism the official religion of italy, giving the Church pastoral and educational freedom. The state recognized Catholic marriages.

The state of Vatican City became the world's smallest sovereign state, with less than 109 acres within the city of Rome. The pope would henceforth be considered the ruler of this independent territory, belonging to no foreign nation.

Fatima Family Apostolate Book Store23. Summarize the reign of Pope Pius XII.

Eugenio Maria Giovanni Pacelli was elected to the papacy March 2, 1939, and took the name of Pope Pius XII (1939-1958). He canonized the first United States citizen-saint, Francis Xavier Cabrini (Mother Cabrini) in 1946.

Before World War II started, Pope Pius XII attempted (without success) to get the contending nations to settle their differences without war. These nations included Germany, Poland, France, and Italy. He spoke out against the horrors of war and offered his services to mediate the widening conflict. He organized relief work for the victims of World War II. He obtained "open" status for the city of Rome during the war. After World War II he endorsed the principle and goal of the United Nations.

Pope Pius XII has often been called the Pope of Peace, and also the Pope of Fatima (where God's Mother appeared, appealing for peace, as Our Lady of Peace). Pius XII was an effective opponent of communism. In 1949, he decreed the penalty of excommunication for all Catholics who held formal and willing allegiance to the Communist Party and its policies.

The interest of Pope Pius XII in Fatima and his great Marian devotion are seen in a review of some of his activities. On October 31, 1942, Pius XII consecrated the world to the Immaculate Heart of Mary. On May 4, 1944, he instituted the Feast of the Immaculate Heart of Mary, the occasion being the twenty-fifth anniversary of the Fatima apparitions. On May 13, 1946, he crowned the image of Fatima through a papal legate and declared our Lady "Queen of the World." One month later, on June 13, 1946, he issued an encyclical explicitly referring to the message of Fatima.

In 1950, Pope Pius XII defined as dogma of faith the Assumption, which states that the Mother of Jesus Christ was taken into heaven bodily by the power of God. This doctrine had always been believed by the Church, and celebrated as a feast for over 1,500 years, but now it was formally defined. On October 13, 1951, the pope closed the Holy Year for all the world at Fatima, thus demonstrating Fatima's worldwide significance.

On July 7, 1952, Pope Pius XII consecrated the Russian people to the Immaculate Heart of Mary, and on October 11, 1954m in his encyclical To the Queen of the World, Pius referred to her miraculous image at Fatima. He declared 1954 a Marian Year. On November 12, 1954, he elevated the church in Cova Da Iria, where our Lady appeared near Fatima, Portugal, to the status of a basilica. On October 13, 1956, through a papal legate, Eugene Cardinal Tisserant, dean of the Sacred College, Pope Pius XII blessed and dedicated the International Center of the Blue Army of Our Lady of Fatima, which is located behind the basilica and is dedicated to furthering the heavenly message of our Lady.

Pius XII prepared the way for the spiritual renewal introduced by his successor, John XXIII. It was Pius XII who wrote the magnificent encyclical On the Divine Liturgy and The Mystical Body of Christ. He instituted the feasts of Mary as Queen and of St. Joseph the Worker, as well as presented the Church's teachings on devotion to the Sacred Heart of Jesus.

The first half of the twentieth century, with two world wars, offers a sad spectacle of humanity's suffering as the consequence of sin. What is especially sad is the force of destruction that occasioned the ending of the war, the dropping of atomic bombs. On August 6, 1945, an atomic bomb was dropped on Hiroshima in Japan, killing more than 100,000 people. A few days later, on August 9, the "most Catholic" city in Japan, Nagasaki, met the same horrible result. Theologians still discuss the morality of using such destructive weapons.


A review of the nineteenth century indicates that the Catholic Church is able to endure every human problem, but in no way does this lighten the burden of the cross, first laid upon the physical Christ 1,900 years ago. The Mystical Body of Christ, which is the Church, lives in the modern world, and just as Christ was mocked, spat upon, and finally crucified — but rose from the dead — the true Church of Jesus Christ would always be treated in the same manner.

The world — in transition intellectually and culturally and therefore spiritually — has been blessed in the nineteenth and the twentieth centuries with very holy popes.

We have seen how a pope had to deal with the aftermath of the French Revolution. We have seen indications that, while often it seems the Church is fighting the forces of evil without special spiritual intervention, God is nevertheless the author of salvation history and, though working invisibly, makes his presence and his power almost visible at times. We have seen God introduce his Blessed Mother, the Mother of the Church, more directly into the currents of history — something to be continued into the twentieth century.

We have seen the devotion of popes to Mary Help of Christians, and how this devotion to God's Mother blossomed in the life of St. John Bosco. We have seen how Our Lady of Lourdes intervenes in the very country that gave birth to the French Revolution, and there, to the present day, continues to baffle modern science with miracles. In a future chapter we shall see how Our Lady of Fatima, in Portugal, will warn the world, flirting with communism, that it is inviting the annihilation of nations.

During the nineteenth century the evils of communism were born, even if conceived years earlier. We shall see that the twentieth century will witness communism's growth, destroying religious freedom and overtaking one nation after another as materialism and atheism reign in the hearts of more and more men and women.

Questions for Discussion

  1. Summarize Napoleon's reaction to the Church.
  2. What significance do you see, in the light of faith, to the final outcome of Napoleon's efforts and the return of the pope to Rome?
  3. What was the unfortunate disadvantage in the Church's having gained the image of being closely associated with the state and various governments?
  4. Was the Church, in fact, on the side of personal freedom for individuals?
  5. Who helped the Church revive in France?
  6. Summarize the struggle for the freedom of Catholics in Ireland.
  7. What great convert came to the Catholic Church in the Oxford Movement? Explain the Oxford Movement.
  8. What happened in the early nineteenth century that changed society greatly? Explain how it did this.
  9. What document was published in 1848 which sowed ideas which still threaten the world? What concepts does that document present?
  10. What abuse spread in the nineteenth century and involved European countries' seeking control over other nations? Explain it.
  11. Summarize the life of the great priest of France, who lived in the nineteenth century and is now venerated as the patron of all parish priests.
  12. Summarize the life of St. John Bosco.
  13. What significance does Lourdes have for the modern world?
  14. What were the chief events in the history of the Church under Pope Pius IX?
  15. Did the prestige of the Church and its influence suffer greatly with the end of the Papal States? Explain.
  16. Which pope ascended the papacy as an old man but continued to rule the Church with great effectiveness for the next twenty-five years? What areas of Church life did he especially affect with great success?
  17. Summarize the life of the Little Flower.
  18. What new continent was settled in the nineteenth and twentieth centuries? How did Catholic settlements start and for what devotion were Catholics in that vast continent noted?
  19. What were the outstanding features of the reign of Pope St. Pius X?
  20. What was the "Roman Question" and how was it settled?
  21. Explain the meaning of Modernism as condemned by Pope St. Pius X. <
  22. What pope reigned during World War I? Why were both sides suspicious of this pope? What did this pope issue to break down suspicions and barriers of hatred?
  23. What happened to the Church in Mexico during the early part of the twentieth century?
  24. Summarize the reign of Pope Pius XII, who was elected in 1939.
  25. What devotion to the Mother of God particularly attracted Pope Pius XII? Explain some of his major actions in this regard.
  26. The "life" of John Henry Cardinal Newman (as well as St. Philip Neri) can be found in Saints & Heroes Speak (OSV Press), by the author of this Church history.
  27. A detailed life of St. Therese will be found in Saints & Heroes Speak (OSV Press), by the author of this book.
  28. The life of St. John Vianney (the Cure of Ars) is found in more detail in the book Saints & Heroes Speak (OSV Press) by the author of this catechism.
  29. The life os St. John Bosco may be found in greater detail in Saints & Heroes Speak (OSV Press).
  30. A detailed life of St. Bernadette is to be found in Saints & Heroes Speak (OSV Press).
  31. For more information on the Marian Era, see The Marian Catechism (OSV Press) by the author of this catechism of Church history.
  32. The Syllabus of Pius IX was followed by the Syllabus of St. Pius X in 1907, again condemning errors of Modernism.
  33. See Addendum for more detailed summary of Pontificate of Pope Leo XIII.

Fox, Rev. Robert J. "The Catholic Church in the Nineteenth and Twentieth Centuries." A Catechism of Church History: 2,000 Years of Faith and Tradition (Park Press Quality Printing, Jubilee 2000 Edition),

Reprinted by permission of the publisher and by the author, Fr. Robert J. Fox.


Father Robert J. Fox is the director of the Fatima Family Apostolate and editor of the Immaculate Heart Messenger. Before founding his own Apostolate and editing his own magazine Father Robert J. Fox for many years was a columnist with leading Catholic magazines, newspapers, and journals in the United States. In addition to being a retiired pastor from the Diocess of South Dakota and now lives in Hanceville, Alabama and offers daily Mass at the Shrine of the Most Blessed Sacrament and Our Lady's of Angels Monastery home Mother Angelica and the Poor Clare Nuns.

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