Wednesday, 27 November 2013

ROMAN CATHOLIC CHURCH IN ITALY

By the Editor of the " Western Christian Advocate"

It was our privilege recently to have a long conversation with a person who has spent a number of years in Italy. The Roman Church became the chief subject of conversation. He knows that body of Christian believers as it operates at the centre. He has seen it at the home base. He understands its genius. His familiarity with its policies gave us courage to draw him out in extended discussion of the subject. . . . .

 Change of Conditions.

" What did she find when she began to move?"

"The pope and his vassals found at least four things that gave them a surprise. They failed in their interpretation of the spirit of the times. They seldom do this. They acted with out reckoning with their host. Some how the much-prized and trusted infallibility failed or was misinterpreted. First, the pope found his own ranks divided. Thousands of devoted Catholics who looked upon the mother church with deep affection had come to believe in the separation of state and church. Second, he found a high degree of patriotism controlling the population. He had not reckoned on this. The Italian people had come to have great faith in Italy. Rome and native land were behind held in fond affection. The church had become subsidiary to the state. Nationalism had become the paramount issue. Third, he also found that the opposition had somehow become united: liberal, radical, atheist, socialist, Protestant, Free Masons, and everybody against the old order. There they stood, joined and agreed in the support of the same policy. The Catholic leaders had formed a Popular political party and was ably led by a priest, Don Sturzo, and this organisation had appealed to the masses as a great hope. Its leader was as keen an Italian as had appeared for two or three generations. The hour of the return to power of the Vatican had surely come. Fourth, he found that the Nationalist party felt that Italy could not be a great nation because of her poverty and depleted resources. They saw that the influence of the vatican would be of no assistance. The nations of the Catholic world were on the verge of bankruptcy. But the pontiff and his advisers did not see this. They thought the hour had struck. The people were in a mood to do anything that would lend help in the time of their great distress. Discontent and rumblings were seen and heard everywhere. Even revolution and the overthrow of the present form of government was a possibility. Socialism was rampant. Then came the Fascisti. The black shirt and the strong arm appeared like a spirit in the night. It struck hard blows against the prevailing anarchy. It assumed a dictatorship that ruled with a rod of iron. Men were compelled to bow to its authority. The old regime that had been so helpless and compromising and fearful was turned out as old and senile to graze in the tall grass until it returned "ashes to ashes and dust to dust." Mussolini, a man of the people, and having come up from the depths of society, became the statesman of the hour. He held power in the interest of all the people. He sounded his slogan of nationalism and started on his programme of reconstruction. The marvellous changes he has made are not appreciated by the peoples outside of Italy. He has made good. He will continue to do so. He is not giving the Vatican its way. He is working in the interests of the Italian people. He has come to an understanding with them. He has consented that the time of his control shall be limited to a certain period to be agreed upon by mutual understanding. He is slowly but surely lifting that nation out of its mediocrity to a place among the influential nations of the world. The financial world is gaining confidence. American money is being invested there in helping to solve great national problems. Extensive hydro-electric power plants are being constructed in the southern Alps that will supply motive power and lighting for all the country. The nation is coming into new spirit. Her mind is breaking forth into new creative force. Her literature is being raised to the high level of world interest. The greatest and most popular book on the market to-day which the presses cannot turn out with sufficient rapidity to supply the demands is written by an Italian, Giovanni Papini. The inventors are giving the nation the lead of the world. Marconi with his wireless, and Caproni with his work in the field of aeronautics, have done the most wonderful work in their respective specialities. No man can tell where that people will go in their present development if their leadership acts wisely and wins the sympathy and keeps the growing confidence of the nations."

Italian Progress.


" So you think that Mussolini is making good "

"He has been acquitted before the public mind of despotism and is now being hailed as a patriot of the first rank. He will no doubt in years to come be regarded as a national hero and take his place by the side of Garibaldi and other notables."

"This surely means," we continued, "that the Italian government is going to become closely related to other nations. It is going to recognise the helpfulness associated with trustfulness it will give her people in the coming years. She is not going to four American, or British, or French, or German influence within her own borders. Does not that mean also that she is not going to fear the influence of American ideas in religion?"

" This certainly means," he replied, "that tolerance is going to be the policy of Italy henceforth."

. . . . . .

The World Waits.

"The world waits the outcome of the Mussolini escapade. Do you have confidence in it?"

"Most certainly," he replied. "He has meant a new day in that country. We all await the outcome when days of his control come to an end and the matter is put up to the people. But down deep in my heart is the conviction that they will not fail the hour that places in their hands some direction of the government. The new day in Italy has come to stay."

The, evening shadows were falling across the waters of Lake Erie. The vision he had given us of Italy and the Roman Catholic Church remained with us. It was the apocalypse of the struggle between aristocracy and democracy. While the world awaits the outcome there will be those who will give themselves for a final victory.
Watchman 17 April 1924, 

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