« AnteriorContinuar »
France were pledged to assist Italy against the Holy See if the latter should take measures toward peace, replied in the negative, and at the same time stated that the Allies held President Wilson's note adequate response to the Pontiff's peace note. In reply to a more explicit interpellation in the Italian Chamber Borsarelli returned a written statement to the same effect.
The English Government, however, has since asserted in the House of Commons that it will not act in the Roman question contrary to Italy's wishes, and this much at least is clear; it is pretty well recognized that the intervention or participation of the Vatican in the peace negotiations is opposed by the Allies and supported by the German party because they think it against the Allied interests.
The policy of resistance to Roman participation in international decisions was firmly established by the refusal of the Powers to admit the papal envoy to the Hague Conference in 1899 and succeeding events have not tended to change it. On the contrary, the breaking of relations with the Vatican by France in July, 1906, has immensely fortified this doctrine.
To say that only those whose interests are involved will share in the peace conference is equivalent to saying that only international parties will share in this international decision. It will be a political gathering for the conclusion of a political settlement when the appeal to physical force has brought one side to the point where it cannot or will not persist further. Such a political discussion does not, of course, end with purely political consequences. A train of social, economic, and religious effects is involved at each step. But the weight of these factors must be anticipated and exerted before the international conference, because in the world of distinct nationalities as we know it today all other issues are antecedent parts of the national entity which contracts external relations through its political organization. Thus, according to legal theory, the Pope should share in the peace conference if he is a temporal sovereign, for otherwise he is not an international person.
Is the Pope a temporal sovereign? It is commonly thought that the Pontiff, guaranteed the rights and inviolability of a temporal ruler, and endowed with these prerogatives for centuries, is such a sovereign. It is the Ultramontane position, which today prevails among Roman writers; for the Gallican theory, by professing which the English Romanists were freed from their civil disabilities, has been anathematized. As long as the matter remains one of legal theory only, with decreasing practical consequences, its exponents have been free to elaborate it. But when we see such impracticable theories as those of the Russian socialists actually materialize, with no immediate prospect of a more conventional system being established, any political theory seriously and persistently upheld by a strong group may be a reality in the unknown future.
The temporal sovereignty of the Pope is not usually defended as an integral and original part of the Catholic faith, but as a necessary and convenient arrangement, founded in law, supported by tradition, and justified by experience. The law by which it was founded is, to be sure, now substituted by the Italian Guarantees, but a legal basis for it is still claimed. Thus the temporal sovereignty consists of a tradition established in law.
It is unnecessary to return to the universally discredited imperial grants to which the Holy See once resorted. It is sufficient for our purpose that it was a political fact, created by Sixtus IV, Alexander VI, and Julius II in particular; a necessary development forced on the Popes by the weakness and insecurity of their position in the Italy of the 15th and 16th centuries. Ambassadors were sent and received in the See's dealings with other Powers. Because of his commanding position the Pope often acted as arbiter in international disputes. To reinforce his findings, the Pontiff added the ecclesiastical penalties of admonition, censure, excommunication, and the interdict. He claimed the right, often successfully, to establish and depose rulers, and to apportion newly discovered lands. Clerical privilege and immunities were also thus secured and enforced.
On the other hand, it must be recollected that secular Powers, while granting legates and nuncios precedence over other am
bassadors, observed this practice out of respect to the highest dignitary of the Catholic Church, and not because of his standing as a temporal sovereign. The Oecumenical councils, when receiving ambassadors from temporal rulers, therefore gave them precedence over the representatives of the Pope. In spite of ecclesiastical penalties by which obedience was ineffectively sought, the Popes have without result condemned international treaties drawn up in opposition to or independently of the Pontiff's desires, e. g., the Bull Zelo Domus Dei annulling the treaties of Münster and Osnabrück. Such ineffectiveness is a practical denial of sovereignty, and indeed American and English authorities customarily ignore the entire question, inspired by the pragmatic conceptions which govern English common law. Furthermore, formal diplomatic relations are hardly more than an uneven ceremony with incidental advantages all on one side, unless there is an exchange of representatives. Thus while Russia and Germany dispatched ambassadors to the Holy See, they did not receive papal legates, and although England now maintains a diplomatic representative near the Holy See, recognition as a temporal sovereign is not thereby accorded the Pontiff.
One of the chief reasons for the maintenance of the temporal power as even a legal fiction would be the exchange of resident agents for the making and observance of concordats. Even so, these are not international treaties between sovereign powers, but instruments by which several states elect to dispose of internal matters of discipline. Besides, where such instruments have never existed or have been abrogated, these internal arrangements are usually and satisfactorily made without reference to the State at all. As long as any body of citizens chooses to accept alien authority in matters which do not disturb domestic peace, there is no conflict with the State's sovereign interest, and consequently no necessity for the maintenance of diplomatic envoys. Hence, also, there is no need for territorial independence, or temporal sovereignty for the Pontiff. But this is anticipating a later part of this discussion.
The whole ground of the claim for temporal sovereignty is shifted, when instead of current popular impressions, the facts of modern legal theory are investigated.
The facts show that the Pontiff has not been in possession of an iota of temporal sovereignty since 1870. Whatever may have been the occasion and legal support of the Pope's secular territorial jurisdiction in former times, it has been abolished now for half a century. Down to September 20, 1870, the Pope ruled in a double capacity, but his temporal sovereignty was extinguished by the military decision of that date. A plebiscite on October 2, 1870, testifying to the desires of the inhabitants confirmed this decision, and a royal decree of October 9, in the same year, proclaimed a state of political control from which legal theory must spring, inasmuch as it was the mature choice of the parties immediately most concerned, and this settlement has the support by consent and act not only of these parties since that time but also of all foreign powers. This royal decree proclaimed that "Rome and the Roman provinces form an integral part of the Kingdom of Italy." Thus the Pope is not even the temporal sovereign of the parcel of territory in his possession. The Italian government assumed effective sovereignty of the entire papal territory.
On what basis does the Pope's present status rest? Is not his position, seeing that he enters into diplomatic relations, and his independence is pledged by the Italian government,—a matter of international law as well as of international interest? Here again the legal foundations compel us to deny the Pope secular sovereignty. His position is defined by the Italian Law of Guarantees, of May 13, 1871. In 1868 a scheme had been presented to the Pope by which he would have retained temporal control of that portion of Rome called the Leonine city. But even this arrangement, rejected by the Pontiff, was not submitted to any foreign Power by the Italian government. The existing Law of Guarantees was likewise not offered for the consideration of other Powers, and not only is it a unilateral contract, in return for which the Italian government receives no consideration, but it is therefore entirely a matter of internal
regulation on the part of Italy, the independence of the Pope is a concession granted him, and his position is wholly due to a municipal statute. In law, accordingly, the Pope is neither a temporal sovereign nor an international person. Since he is not an international person the Pope has no right to representation at the peace conference.
The question whether the Pope deserves to be considered an international person as the world's supreme moral authority borders on the theological domain, which I shall not trespass upon. However, it may here be observed that the claim for exclusive jurisdiction in this realm is a relatively recent one, unacknowledged by the early Church, the Fathers, or the Oecumenical Councils, and not consistently advanced by the Popes until an age when it was too late for the force of example to support such a proposition.
Furthermore, when we come to inquire into the means by which the Church's moral authority is enforced, it cannot truly be said that its sovereignty results from the coercive power of its command. The Church's possession of authority depends primarily on the beneficial consequences of its proved tradition. The Church is obeyed not because of the penalties attached to its mandates, for these are either clear warnings of spiritual suffering to be experienced here or pains to be inflicted hereafter. Thus the Austinian theory of sovereignty does not account for its actual exercise by the Church, and in any case, this power does not proceed solely or chiefly from the Pope. Again, a claim to exclusive and sole jurisdiction in the realm of morals inevitably implies equally transcendent authority in temporal sovereignty as I shall point out below.
The declarations of the Holy See during a war, among the first as it is the greatest for an issue primarily moral, have not strengthened its position as a teacher of morals, much less as the supreme judge of morals. The Vatican's acts of political interference have ignored the concrete moral questions and the Pope's peace notes have by their vagueness and futility been justly suspected of Teutonic inspiration, since their proposals