Universal and National Function of the Papacy and Papal Rome Part II

According to ITYPETRAVEL, this story of the papacy is of great importance in relation to Rome and Italy. It has welded itself to its traditional location with links that were previously lacking. Papal Rome is getting closer and closer to the life of the Italian populations, and these to that. Popes like Gregory VII and Innocent III could act in any country of the Catholic world, which was still an indistinct unity. Popes such as Pius IV and Pius V, Sixtus V, Clement VIII, Paul V, even after refreshing their spirituality and therefore universality, are difficult to conceive outside of Rome and Italy. Rome emerges from its medieval theoretical universalism and practical isolation and takes on a concrete function in relation to a particular country which is Italy. Here the papacy has built a solid foundation like it never had. Here he has most of the political and religious forces interested in his greatness. The Theatines were born here in 1524, the Barnabites in 1533, the Jesuits in 1539, the Somascans in 1541, the Carmelites in 1562, the fathers of Christian doctrine in 1571, the priests of the oratory in 1575, etc. Here, at the same time, those means of culture which are a condition of prestige and strength.

In the theological struggles to which the Reformation and the Counter-Reformation give rise, the Italian hierarchy blocks: and not only in the face of Protestants, but, in certain cases, also in the hierarchies of other Catholic countries. In the Council of Trent, there was no lack of manifestations of opposing ranks: Italy! France! Spain! The Italian prelates spoke of Gallic disease to be treated, of Spanish leprosy to be cured, alluding to not perfectly Roman tendencies in those countries, reluctant to recognize unconditionally the papal primacy. And vice versa, how many Italians have a bad view of the dominion or protection of the Spaniards, place some reliance on the Holy See, which is interested in keeping them in check. In the same aversion to Protestantism, there is also attachment to an institution that considers itself above all, Italian. The papacy is not only Catholicism, but it is also, not a little, Italy. The exhortations of T. Campanella to the Italians to stay there “in our ancient church and in that belief with which our fathers pulled the world to themselves with stupendous miracles” are, it has already been observed, votes almost more than Italian patriot than a believer. And really, here we have one of the forms that Italian patriotism assumed in the ‘100 and’ 600, even in civil and secularist writers, such as Traiano Boccalini. The papacy must serve Italy. He is praised or blamed according to whether or not he cares, in their opinion, what is considered the good or freedom of Italy. That is, Italy, politically divided, but united in culture, still deprives as it is of its most intimate and proper centers, relies on the papacy in the slow maturation of its national consciousness. As ancient Rome had drawn in its ideal circle, so now papal Rome, in which he saw, alongside a Catholic function, also a national and Italian function. There are those who dream, between the 16th and 17th centuries, of a universal monarchy of the Roman pontificate: but in it, as before within the empire, its physiognomy and specific task must be reserved for Italy.

In short, almost a new phase in the history of the papacy in Italy and its relations, ideal and practical, with Italy, as it lived in the thoughts, dreams and imagination of cultured Italians. There was a correspondence of practical interests that helped the papacy to fight and partly win its battle against Protestantism, in Italy and abroad. Responsiveness, however, mixed with serious contrasts, such as had never existed. And it alludes to that kind of new Middle Ages that the papacy and the Counter-Reformation tried to revive, to the new claim of all ecclesiastical “freedom”, to the new affirmation of the absolute power of the Church, to the control of culture, to the effort to restore the ancient philosophy of the Church, in a country that had lived and propagated the Renaissance and its philosophy, rich in immanent ideas, focused on man, focused on the intimate and intrinsic of things, art, state, nature, etc. And this philosophy of the Church, other philosophies does not tolerate. Like all philosophies, it is totalitarian: it invests, in addition to matters of faith, all of life. And all its life, the Counter-Reformation Church wants to control and direct and inform about itself. Protestantism can be considered defeated in Italy at the end of the 16th century. The outward respect for the Church is now total. But the Church is no longer content with outward respect. He sees the danger of that new philosophy that turned with passion to nature, considered matter eternal and incorruptible and universal foundation of things, not opposed to the spiritual and the divine but containing the divine within itself, like everything that exists in the world. He exalted the dignity of man and his works, his perfectibility and his capacity for progress in general, his power to shape his destiny by himself, on the decisive value not of birth or fortune, but of works and virtue or will: all, in opposition to dualistic tendencies of scholastic philosophy. Humanity and divinity have come closer and closer. In the development of his humanity, man draws divinity. All that is humanly worthy brings about a greater divinity in man. External worship matters little. Positive religions are equivalent, according to the Italian thinkers of the Renaissance. Practical consequences: tolerance and freedom of conscience and thought. Which, in the previous age, were very widely practiced, almost in every field: in some, not freedom but unbridled license. Now no longer. And tolerance and freedom, therefore, they are rising to doctrine. It is carried out by the reformed outside Italy, in comparison with the other Reformed Churches: and it is one of the contributions of Italian Protestantism; it was carried out by the Italian philosophers of the Renaissance – Bernardino Telesio, Francesco Patrizi, Giordano Bruno and Tommaso Campanella, whose intellectual activity, amidst fierce contrasts and tragic persecutions, falls precisely in this time. They are not Protestants. The pious accept Catholicism, recognize the high social and human value of the Church and the papacy, but certainly do not adhere intimately to the doctrine of the Church and the papacy of the Counter-Reformation. A more representative man than the others, Giordano Bruno, among those mentioned above; representative of the Renaissance, as a love of knowledge, a passion for truth, an effort to penetrate the depths of things, abstracting from traditional authorities, from absolute rules, from critical canons and relying on the means of reason, natural light, observation, experience. First and foremost object of their interest, nature, men, history, considered and sought in a way and for purposes other than those of the humanists. Object of philosophical reflection, for them, not so much the books of the philosophers as the concrete things, the same practical activities, the way of life.

Universal and National Function of the Papacy and Papal Rome 2