Pope Pius IX, devoted ally of
"the Confederate States of America"
[  http://shame-on-the-Roman-Catholic-hierarchy.website/ConfederacysPope.html ]

An Ally in Europe
        "Throughout its short history, the Confederate government sought earnestly and repeatedly to gain some kind of foreign support. The closest it ever came was in 1863, when His Holiness Pope Pius IX sent a letter addressed to the "Illustrious and Hon. Jefferson Davis, President of the Confederate States of America, Richmond," and concluded with a hope for a union in "perfect friendship."1
        Davis interpreted this communication as a form of recognition, even though some measure of his interpretation was subject to false expectations. The letter was reported in Southern newspapers with the implication that Pope Pius IX supported the Confederacy.2 The President hoped that this letter would be the first step towards widespread European recognition of the Confederate government, but it proved to be the only such communication, and within two years, the Confederacy would be dead. Still, the letter does raise the question of why the Holy Pontiff would express public friendship to the Confederacy.

        "Holy See" ?
    Isn't it amusing how English-speaking Catholic churchmen insist on translating the Latin "Sancta Sedes" into the meaningless "Holy See", instead of the correct, but silly–sounding "Holy Seat"?

a papal throne

When the Civil War erupted in America, pitting the North against the agrarian society of the Confederacy, social, political, and even religious organizations were forced to take sides. Two of the country's major churches, the Baptists and the Methodists, divided over the issue of slavery – the Baptists remaining separated to this day. The Catholic Church, however, did not break in half, though its unity was severely strained. Instead of dividing, Episcopal alliances were virtually along geographical lines, and the Holy See took the curious position of showing sympathy for the slaveholding Confederacy. The reason for this was that the pope, Pius IX, saw the same kinds of threatening tendencies in the American North that had driven him from his papal throne in Italy in 1848. These tendencies in both Italy and America came in the form of progressivism towards a more centralized democracy, economic reform, and opposition to aristocracy. They were considered to be liberal in both Catholic and Southern society, and were viewed as dangerous to the spread of Catholicism. Furthermore, the Church's own political weakness in America severely hindered her ability to attempt to change anything about slavery other than the hearts of those who condoned it. The Catholic Church considered the tendencies of the North to be more dangerous than slavery, and considered the conservative Southern society to be more suitable to the spread of Catholicism than the North. http://www.remnantnewspaper.com/Archives/archive-2007-01150rebels_in_rome.htm . . . .
        The most important Catholic opinion on the American Civil War was that of the Bishop of Rome, Pope Pius IX. As noted, after surviving the Italian Revolution over a decade earlier, the pope rethought his past tendencies and adopted conservative policies that reinforced the constant tradition and teachings of the Catholic Church. For the Pope, the situation in America was all too familiar. Liberalism was thriving in the North and progress towards a centralized liberal democracy seemed to remove traditional values from American society. In the South, the pope saw a society that clung to traditional religious and family values, which he believed to be more conducive to Catholic principles despite its support of slavery.47 Until he became President of the Confederate States of America, Jefferson Davis attended Baptist churches. After becoming President, he was baptized into the High Anglican Church. He developed a great respect for the Catholic Church,48 however, probably due to his attendance at a Dominican Catholic High School in Kentucky for two years. He kept this respect throughout his life and developed a personal, although distant, relationship with Pope Pius IX during the Civil War. In Roman Catholics, he saw friends in whom he could trust and who would not turn their backs on the "oppressed." 49  In 1863, Jefferson Davis penned a letter to Pope Pius IX in which he acknowledged the concern that the Holy Father had shown for America in the letters the pope had written to the bishops of New York and New Orleans. In these letters, the Pope conveyed his sadness over the Civil War, and voiced his desires to see it end quickly. Davis assured the pope that the Confederacy wanted the war to end as soon as possible and that they were merely fighting so that they could live in peace under their own government. 50 That Pope Pius IX referred to Jefferson Davis as the "Illustrious and Hon. President"51 could have been merely formal and respectful language, but behind the Pope's words in the letter seems to lie a hint of implied recognition of the Confederate government, or at least a desire to recognize it. Curiously, Cardinal Antonelli, the papal secretary of state during Pius IX's pontificate, claimed that the pope had not yet recognized the sovereign independence of the Confederate States, but had in fact recognized their belligerency – the first step towards formal recognition.52 In his letter, Pope Pius IX showed his gratitude that the Confederacy was eager for an end to violence, while acknowledging that the North did, in fact, have separate rulers and a separate government and that Southerners were not merely rebels: "May it please God at the same time to make the other peoples of America and their rulers…receive and embrace the counsels of peace and tranquility."53 Pius IX concluded the letter with a subtle hint that he saw a bright future for relations between the Vatican and Confederacy, were it to become a sovereign nation: "We, at the same time, beseech the God of pity to shed abroad upon you the light of His grace, and attach you to us by a perfect friendship."54 What the pope meant by "perfect friendship" is unknown, but it indicates that the pope saw something attractive in the Confederacy – so attractive that he was willing to stand alone as the only European leader willing to formally associate himself with its government.
        Pius IX's correspondence with Jefferson Davis implies that he favored the South during the Civil War and recognized values in the South that were uncommon in the progressive world. The South's respect for religion, rejection of rampant industrialization, emphasis on family, and opposition to strong centralized secular government were very similar to traditional Catholic principles, so the Pope easily could have considered the South the fertile place in America to spread the Catholic Faith. He may have also seen the South as a sovereign nation which would perhaps one day faithfully follow the Church's teachings.
        What is for sure is that by 1863, the Vatican understood that the Lincoln administration seemed less interested in returning the South to the Union than in punishing it into complete submission. When the Emancipation Proclamation reached Rome in the fall of 1862, the Vatican reaction was negative. L'Osservatore Romano condemned it as a desperate and hypocritical measure which freed no slaves but encouraged rebellion in the South. The Jesuit Journal, La Civiltà Cattolica, portrayed the war as a hopeless and unjust struggle of the North to punish the South.

    "The average Christian student of American History is unaware of how close Pope Pius IX came to dissolving the Union during the Civil War years. For a sobering insight as to how the Vatican can interfere with foreign governments, consider the chaos incited by a single letter sent by Pius IX to Jefferson Davis in 1863. Responding to correspondence from Davis, dated 23rd September, 1863, the Pope's reply was formally addressed, "To Jefferson Davis, President of the Confederate States of America, Richmond." This subtle salutation gave the Confederacy a badly needed vote of confidence from 'His Holiness.'
    What followed next is quite unnerving. Whereas the desertion rates of the Northern Armies showed 16 percent for Germans, 0.5 percent for native Americans, 0.7 percent for all others, the Irish figures sky-rocketed to 72 percent! ... The above figures indicate that out of every 10,000 Irish enlistees – almost all Catholics – there were over 33 times as many desertions as among all the other groups put together. The point to be made here is not only the historical one – that the Vatican intervened in the agonies of the American Civil War – but that, in a different context and in a different way, it can do the same in today's conflicts, be they military or political." (William Grady, Final Authority, pp. 225,226) (See also America Or Rome, Which? 1895, p. 88)


During President Davis' imprisonment following the defeat of the Confederacy, Pope Pius IX sent a picture of himself to Jefferson Davis with the hand-written inscription: "Come unto me, all ye who are weary and heavy laden, and I will give you rest."55 Along with this picture, the pope sent a miniature crown of thorns which the Sovereign Pontiff had woven with his own hands.56 Such a gift, said a great niece, was "never before conferred on any but crowned heads." Robert E. Lee, pointing to his own portrait of Pius IX, told a visitor that he was "the only sovereign…in Europe who recognized our poor Confederacy.".
        The Civil War proved to be one of the most trying for the Catholic Church in America, and the involvement of Pope Pius IX shows that the war had many international effects. Because of the affinity between Catholic and Southern moral and social principles, one could argue that Pope Pius IX believed that the Southern culture provided a more suitable atmosphere for the spread of Catholicism, despite the issue of slavery. Spreading the Catholic Faith was the primary mission, and the American bishops believed that the necessary abolition of slavery would eventually follow. The report of Bishop Martin Spalding to Pope Pius IX in 1863 (serialized in L'Osservatore Romano) warned that the immediate emancipation of the slaves would not only force them into an inferior class, but would also make it more difficult to bring them into the Church. He noted that in heavily Catholic New Orleans, almost half of the slaves had been freed by 1860 through a change in their masters' hearts, and had become some of the most devout Catholics that he had ever seen.57
        As late as August, 1864 (eight months before General Lee's surrender at Appomattox), Rufus King, a Federal liaison to Rome, was admitting that papal offices remained unenthusiastic about the Union cause and Cardinal Antonelli was still concerned over the dangers of untimely emancipation. Pope Pius IX himself had recently confessed to a British diplomat that his real sympathies were with the Confederacy.58 The Pope and Cardinal, however, suppressed their feelings in the face of rising Federal fortunes on the battlefield and the promise of a quicker end to the bloodshed. But the evidence exists to believe it plausible that Pope Pius IX would have liked to give official recognition to the Confederacy in its beginning, and mourned its defeat in its demise."
        [ from a Southern U.S. conservative blog : http://www.remnantnewspaper.com/Archives/archive-2007-01150rebels_in_rome.htm
http://www.angelfire.com/la2/prophet1/vaticanpolicy1.html ]

        Very good video about Catholic Church involvement in Lincoln's assassination: [ which may require that you watch it on YouTube ]

"Catholicism and the Old South"

        The following are excerpts from a web site designed to promote both the old Catholic Church and the old South:

"President (Jefferson) Davis was not without solace during confinement.  A rosary sent by some sisters in Savannah reached him.  More notably, comfort was extended by the Vicar of Christ himself, Ven. Pope Pius IX.  It took the form of a crown of thorns woven by the pope with his own hands and a portrait of the pontiff autographed with the words from Scripture, "If any man will come after me, let him deny himself, and take up his cross, and follow me." . . .  The crown, with thorns about two inches long, is such that it is hard to see how the pope could have fashioned it without hurting himself.
        Why did this pope who is a Venerable of the Church . . . seek to comfort Davis, who was not a Catholic?  . . .  (It should be noted that he was the only European prince of the day to recognize — at least in a de facto way — the Southern nation, the Confederate States of America.) . . .  His father sent him as a boy to Kentucky to be schooled by Dominicans.  While among them young Davis - he was but nine — asked to be received into the Church. His desire was not realized. . .
        Certainly the Catholic Bishops of the South were sympathetic. There is no record of any failing to support the Confederacy. One of them, Bishop Patrick Lynch of Charleston, South Carolina, became President Davis' envoy to Ven. Pope Pius IX. . . "heroes of the fighting like the twenty Confederate generals who were Catholic, including, very notably, Gen. James Longstreet, a convert,"
        "The song Dixie, virtually the national anthem of the South, was written by a Catholic, Dan Emmet."
        [ from http://www.catholicism.org/catholicism-south.html ]

       Pope Gregory XVI's 1839 "Apostolic Letter" condemning the slave trade was only addressed to the dozen U.S. bishops meeting in "4th Provincial Council of Baltimore", In the eyes of this pope everything that happened to slaves over the centuries happened in spite of his church and its popes, and any relief slaves had enjoyed or could hope for would come from those same holy people and institutions.. In supremo apostolatus was so inconsequential - even to the council where it was promulgated - that the wikipedia summary of that council (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Provincial_Councils_of_Baltimore) doesn't even mention it.

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