Pope Pius IX, was the church's longest reigning pope by far, 31.5 years 5 more than the runner up, John Paul II for whom Pius IX was a personal idol.
"Pio Nono" -- as many in Italy call him --is the pope who declared that when popes speak in their special capacity as God's substitute on earth (that's what "Vicar of Christ" means) they speak infallibly. And pious Roman Catholics believe that this man couldn't be wrong about this because, as he said, he was infallible! The Vatican holds "Pio Nono" in such high esteem that they are well on their way to making him a "saint", i.e. a model for Catholics and especially popes to imitate.
"In 1858, a six-year-old Jewish child, Edgardo Mortara, was kidnapped by papal police in Bolognia on the pretext that he had been baptized "in extremis" ( i.e. when in mortal danger) by a servant girl six years earlier. Placed in the reopened House of Catacumens, the child was forcibly instructed in the Catholic faith. Despite the pleas of Edgardo's parents, Pio Nono adopted the child and liked to play with him, hiding him under his soutane (cassock) and calling out, "where's the boy?" The world was outraged; no less than 20 editorials on the subject were published in The New York Times and both Emperors Franz Joseph of Austria and Napoleon III of France begged the Pope to return the child to his rightful parents, all in vain. Pio Nono kept Edgardo cloistered in a monastery, where he was eventually ordained as a priest." (p.11)
. . . "The notion of Jewish obstinacy was a crucial element in the case of Edgardo Mortara (also spelled "Montara"). When the parents of the kidnapped Edgardo pleaded in person with the Pope for the return of their son, Pio Nono told them that they could have their son back at once if only they converted to Catholicism -- which, of course, they would do instantly if they opened their hearts to Christian revelation. But they would not, and did not. The Mortaras, in the view of Pio Nono, had brought all their suffering upon their own heads as a result of their obduracy. (p. 27)
(from the book "Hitler's Pope, The Secret History of Pius XII", by the Catholic scholar, John Cornwell)
"Pius IX's public response to the outcry was published worldwide. To a Jewish delegation he said, 'The newspapers can write all they want. I couldn't care less about what the world thinks.' And to the Jews, partly released from the Jewish Ghetto, he added this threat, 'Take care. I could have made you go back into your hole.' To back up his words, he once again confided the Jews to the ghetto area of the city, and rescinded their civil rights. In 1870, Pius IX publicly declared them to be 'dogs. . there are too many of them in Rome, and we hear them howling in the streets.' "[ http://www.sdadefend.com/History/pius_ix.htm ]
Pope Pius IX, whose lengthy ruled lasted from 1846 to 1878, restored most of the onerous restrictions of the past against the Jews within the Vatican state. All Jews under Papal control were confined to Rome's ghetto -- the last one in Europe until the Nazis recreated ghettos in the 1930s.--
Pope John Paul II thought so highly of Pius IX that in the year 2000 he had him beatified -- the last step before sainthood --.
If and when that happens, in the light of the above and of recent events, maybe they could make Pio Nono "the patron saint of clerical pedophiles and / or kidnappers", as this is the example set by this "infallible saint" .
Among other debatable canonizations for which Pius IX was that of sixteenth-century Spain's notorious grand inquisitors, Don Pedro Arbues de Epilae. He was considered a martyr (witness to the Catholic faith) after some of the family of his Jewish victims managed to assassinate him -- and then suffered grievously themselves.-- It was the conviction of the great liberal theologian of that time, Father Dollinger, that canonizing the inquisitor "served the pope's campaign of riding roughshod over liberal Catholics as well as Jews. The pope was celebrating a man who had sanctioned compulsory baptism of Jews, then inflicted judicial torture to make sure these conversions were sincere.
[ See http://www.jewishencyclopedia.com/view.jsp?artid=1725&letter=A and the article below: ]
An interesting summary of Pius IX's papacy :
"Pope Pius IX ascended to the papacy in 1846. After the death of Pope Gregory XVI, the College of Cardinals faced a difficult decision in electing the next pope. Many Cardinals in the Conclave supported Cardinal Lambruschini, whose extreme opposition to liberalism would have kept Gregory XVI's conservative and prudent Church policies alive. Others sought to elect a liberal and conciliatory pope in order to counter Pope Gregory XVI's confrontational policies with the government. The Conclave chose the latter, and elected Cardinal Giovanni Maria Mastai-Ferretti, who chose the name Pius IX. Cardinal Mastai-Ferretti had been well-liked by Pope Gregory XVI despite the Cardinal's liberalism in terms of Church reform and relations with the secular Italian government. Indeed, Pope Gregory XVI once declared that even Cardinal Mastai-Ferretti's cats were liberals.
Pope Pius IX appeared to live up to his liberal and progressive reputation immediately following his election to the Chair of Saint Peter. The Papal States were dangerously close to revolution due to Italian nationalism, and he promised reforms and changes in order to restore stability. He was responsible for the introduction of railroads into Rome and the reformulation of tariff laws in order to improve trade. He installed gas-powered street lighting in Rome, apportioned a share of the papal charities for the Jews, and abolished the law which required Jews to attend weekly Catholic sermons. He coupled this program of economic and social reform with political reforms of the same magnitude. The pope incorporated democracy into the governing of the Papal States by appointing lay persons to the government of the Church. He allowed exiled revolutionaries to return to the Papal States, and even approved a new constitution that gave an elected body of laymen the power to veto the pope. Protestant leaders from all over Europe congratulated Pius IX, and Italian nationalists dubbed the pope "the most important man in Italy."
The pope seemed to be conceding to the wishes of Italian nationalists who cried in thanksgiving for his reforms: "Viva Italia! Viva Pio Nono!" Liberal Italians expected these policies to continue so that the secular government could gain more power and ultimately become completely separated from the Church. However, Pope Pius IX considered these changes to be the completion of his reforms. When the pope rejected further demands, his popularity waned. He had excited the Italian nationalists with his promises of reform, but he was not prepared to fulfill all of their expectations. The consequence was disappointment and bitterness.
In 1848, revolutions erupted throughout Europe. Italy went to war in order to expel Austria from Italy, but the Italians treated the war more like a crusade than a political war. When the Italians called for the Pope to lead their "crusade," he gave an address in which he explained papal policy in relation to Italy. His new policies took a sharp turn and began to resemble those of his conservative predecessor, Pope Gregory XVI, causing the Italian people to feel betrayed. In his address to the College of Cardinals, Pius IX stated that he would have no part in this war and that he would send no troops to Austria:
When there was revolution over Europe, I sent troops to guard the frontiers. But when some demanded that these troops join with other [Italian] states to war against Austria, I must say solemnly, that I abhor the idea. I am the Vicar of Christ, the author of peace and lover of charity, and my office is to bestow an equal affection on all nations.
According to one authority, this statement to the College of Cardinals "was a douche of icy water on the overheated enthusiasm which had surrounded his first two years as pope."
Pius IX went from being one of the most loved men in Italy to one of the most hated, and this public resentment eventually led to exile. He lost all control over Rome, and Pellegrino Rossi, his Prime Minister, was murdered in November of 1848. The Pope sensed grave danger and, disguised as an ordinary priest, fled to Gaeta in the Neapolitan territory. As revolution continued in Rome and an anti-clerical regime took control, Pius IX called for the Catholic powers of the world to reclaim Rome on his behalf and to restore the power of his office. In July of 1849, French troops re-conquered Rome for the Pope, and he once again took power in April of 1850.
On his return to Rome, Pius IX blamed tendencies such as liberalism and centralized democracy for the Italian Revolution and for his exile. As a result, he believed for the rest of his life that conceding in good faith to the political ideals of democracy only paved the way for revolution. The revolution of 1848 caused the pope to turn against constitutionalism, and he also condemned many of his past reforms which the Italian nationalists had praised. After his return to power, his "liberal honeymoon was over."
Pope Pius IX subsequently issued the Syllabus of Errors in which he listed the modernist errors of his time, including the separation of Church and State. He also condemned the notion that "the Roman Pontiff can, and ought to, reconcile himself, and come to terms with progress, liberalism and modern civilization." In addition to condemning these errors, he tightened his reins on the government of the Church with the definition of the dogma of papal infallibility in the First Vatican Council. No longer would he embrace the modernist and liberal tendencies in the world, but he would condemn and oppose them wherever they existed.
A decade after Pope Pius IX's renunciation of liberalism, the United States was being torn apart by a similar clash of ideals. Industrialization and technology widened the gap between the progressive North and agrarian South to the point where the two seemed incompatible. To some, and especially to Pope Pius IX, the clash between these two cultures resembled the revolution which had taken place a decade earlier in Italy, where those who favored democracy vied for control of one of the oldest and most conservative institutions in Europe: the Roman Catholic Church. Indeed, there were direct political ties between post-revolution Italy and ante-bellum America in that Pope Pius IX's reforms were welcomed by progressives in the United States.
Sympathy and support for Pope Pius IX's reforms in the early years of his papacy were main factors for America's recognition of the Papal States. Additionally, the increased Italian support of the concepts of democracy, liberalism, and a free Church in a free state excited secular Americans and aligned many of them with the agenda of the Italian nationalists.18 In a Philadelphia public meeting addressed to Pope Pius IX, Robert Tyler, a vice president of the meeting, offered the following resolution concerning the changes that were taking place in Italy: "The liberal movement now in progress in Italy under the example and auspices of the Papal Sovereign, awakens in the breasts of the American People, the deepest interest, sympathy, and respect."
In a letter addressed to this public meeting, the Honorable Lewis Cass stated that if Pope Pius IX were to continue with his liberal spirit, "he will become the man of his age." Similar to the North's approval of the Italian reforms, the Italian nationalists also sympathized with many Northern ideals. With the exception of the Catholic clergy, nearly all of Italy rallied behind the Union and their ideals during the Civil War.
Though the North often celebrated what the Catholic Church considered to be liberalism, many Southerners feared these tendencies. As a Charleston newspaper of the time explained, the South believed that a centralized, liberal democracy would destroy their agrarian culture and way of life through rampant industrialization."
[ from a Southern U.S. conservative blog : http://www.remnantnewspaper.com/Archives/archive-2007-01150rebels_in_rome.htm ]
Another outstanding Catholic historian who offers some great insights on the ramifications of the claims of papal infallibility is James Carroll. In his monumental work "Constantine's Sword, The Church and the Jews", Carroll shows how Pope Pius IX's anti-modernism, anti-semitism and his famous battle with the German theologian, Dollinger were all intertwined:
"Later, in articles and speeches, especially after Pius IX's campaign against modernism was in full swing, [The leading German Catholic theologian and professor of Church History at the U. of Munich Johann von Dollinger] condemned the ways that the modern errors against which the pope had set the Church were so cavalierly identified with Jews. Dollinger shrewdly analyzed the long history of Church abuse of Jews, drawing the connection between antisemitism and a Christian pursuit of power. 'The fate of the Jewish people,' he wrote, 'is perhaps the most moving drama in the history of the world.' Reflecting on his own era, Dollinger set himself against the dominant twin motif of Church resistance to revolution defined as Jewish socialism and Church resistance to materialism defined as Jewish greed.
Dollinger railed against Pius IX's decision in 1867 to raise to sainthood one of sixteenth-century Spain's notorious grand inquisitors, Don Pedro Arbues de Epilae. According to Kornberg, it was Dollinger's conviction that canonizing the inquisitor 'served the pope's campaign of riding roughshod over liberal Catholics. The pope was celebrating a man who had sanctioned compulsory baptism of Jews, then inflicted judicial torture to make sure these conversions were sincere. [ See http://www.jewishencyclopedia.com/view.jsp?artid=1725&letter=A ] Dollinger saw the origins of the Inquisition in a drive to enhance the papacy's `worldly dominion and compulsory power over the lives and property of men. . . In this sense, the decree on Papal Infallibility was the logical culminating point of the Inquisition' Not surprisingly, given such an attitude, Dollinger openly opposed the Vatican Council's decree on infallibility, and was promptly excommunicated (in 1871) for doing so. His position, however, was clear. As Kornberg sums it up, 'Dollinger had linked medieval anti-Jewish hostility to the papacy's coercive temporal and religious dominion as well, thus emphasizing that Jews and liberal Catholics had a common enemy. Hatred of Jews was nourished by the same survivals of the Middle Ages that had produced the triumphs of Ultramontanism, the Syllabus of Errors (1864) and the decree on Papal Infallibility (1870), namely the belief that `we alone are in possession of the full saving truth,' coupled with a lack of respect for the `right of independent action' of others.'
One of the things that makes the Dollinger episode another of those all too rare sanctuaries of a better way in this otherwise unrelieved narrative is the fact, as Kornberg puts it, that this German Catholic theologian 'considered nineteenth-century Catholic anti-Jewish hostility no inevitable outcome of Catholic doctrine, but rather the result of Ultramontanism's fortress mentality. Not `essential' Catholicism, but those who wished to prevent Catholics from being contaminated by modern ideas, had made an unholy alliance with antisemitism.
In 1881, Dollinger delivered an address to the 'festal meeting' of the Academy of Munich, a major convocation of German Catholic intellectuals. His subject was 'The Jews in Europe,' and his purpose, as he said at the beginning of his remarks, was 'to show how the skein [of Jew hatred] was gradually twisted which none at the present day can hope to unravel.' But attempt to unravel it he did. After a long description of the very history we have traced in this book, Dollinger returned to the baseline source of Christian antisemitism: 'The false and repulsive precept that mankind is perpetually called upon to avenge the sins and errors of the forefathers upon the innocent descendants, has ruled the world far too long, and has blotted the countries of Europe with shameful and abominable deeds, from which we turn away in horror.' As a historian, he had set for himself a purpose I attempt to emulate here, to show 'how History, the guide of life, points to her mirror in which past errors are reflected as warnings against fresh mistakes which may be impending. ' Little did he know.
Dollinger was unusual. Far more than from within the Church, opposition to Pius IX's absolutist claims came from outside, and nowhere more violently than in Germany, where the complaint had nothing to do with the Church's antisemitism." [p.484]
See much more on the horrendous role of the Roman Catholic Church not just during the holocaust, but leading up to it and following it at
The REAL Roman Catholic Scandal
See also major Reviews of "Hitler's Pope", by John Cornwell. &
the entire book dedicated to
The Kidnapping of Edgardo Mortara, by David I. Kertzer
How can ANY Christian imagine that Jesus would choose men like Pius IX to be his personal representatives on earth ?
According to Matthew, ch. 18: 1-7 :
At that time the disciples came to Jesus and asked, "Who is the greatest in the kingdom of heaven?" He called a child, whom he put among them, and said, "Truly I tell you, unless you change and become like children, you will never enter the kingdom of heaven. Whoever becomes humble like this child is the greatest in the kingdom of heaven. Whoever welcomes one such child in my name welcomes me. If any of you put a stumbling block before one of these little ones who believe in me, it would be better for you if a great millstone were fastened around your neck and you were drowned in the depth of the sea. Woe to the world because of stumbling blocks! Occasions for stumbling are bound to come, but woe to the one by whom the stumbling block comes!