Fortnight For Freedom: Pope Gregory XVI

Fortnight For Freedom 2015

Out of the Roman States, there is no country where I am Pope except the United States.

Pope Gregory XVI

Pope Gregory XVI was a complicated man.  In 1839 he issued a papal bull condemning both the slave trade and slavery.  He also opposed railroads in the Papal States, calling them chemins d’enfer, “roads to hell” a pun on the French for railroad, chemin de fer,  “iron road”.  He feared that they would lead to more commerce, a larger middle class, and the growth of liberal revolutionary movements that would topple papal secular government.  In the wake of the French Revolution of 1830, the Papal States had been convulsed with revolutionary republican movements initiating a guerrilla war, the papacy calling in Austrian troops to defeat them.

In Europe Republicanism tended to be anti-clerical, and Pope Gregory set his face like flint against these movements, behaving like a reactionary of the deepest hue, opposing the slightest political change, fearing that such changes would inevitably lead to persecution of the Church.  In Europe he was largely correct in his analysis, at least in the short term, but when he looked at the United States, he saw something different.

There a Republican government persecuted the Church not at all and allowed the Church to manage her affairs as the Pope saw fit.  As the quote at the beginning of this post indicates, this gave the Pope far more power than he had elsewhere except for the Papal States, including countries where Catholicism was the state religion with Catholic monarchs who never ceased to attempt to control the Church in their domains.  Perhaps to the surprise of the Pope, his bishops reported that the Church was growing swiftly in the United States, with a steady stream of  converts, the Church proving to be a strong competitor in the free market of religions that existed in the United States.

Pope Gregory took a keen interest in evangelizing the United States and established new bishoprics there.  He was no fan of new-fangled Republics, to say the least, but the United States was different:  a free land where the Church was also free.

It is the difference that Pope Gregory saw when he looked at the United States that we fight to preserve today, against the tendency of government to seek to regulate and control aspects of  Church activities for cheap political gain.  Pope Gregory pray for us!


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  1. The French Revolution and freemasonry set in place the machinations seen through Western Europe over the past two hundred years. Both were anti-Catholic to the core. they infected formerly Catholic states. Portugal and Spain avoided the Reformation but could not avoid what was to come. In Italy a strong nationalist movement took place that was also anti-clerical. It was ultimately successful and Rome, which was under the temporal power of the Pope for more than a millenia, became the Italian capital and the Popes shuttered themselves inside the Vatican until the concordat with Mussolini in the 1920s.

    The Catholic Church has always had its enemies in the USA. Most of them were Protestants. The church survived that challenge, but today in the face of rampant secularism and a popular culture that is nothing if not disgusting, the Church has grown weak and accomodating, at least in its hierarchy.

  2. . Excellent piece. Against railroads but I’m betting he would be for air conditioning advertising unlike you know who…LS sect.55. 260 people died this week in Karachi according to yesterday’s NY Times…from not having air conditioning as it reached 111 F.

  3. And Bill there were power outages there too, and I suppose that was caused by the northern vs southern colonization and theft of resources drivel, etc. Blame free enterprise.

  4. At last I know.
    I am named after my maternal grandfather, Donald Vincent Piper, who was from Cornwall, but of Scottish descent, his ancestors having been forcibly moved from Scotland by the English during the 17th. century land clearances. His family, the Pipers, were the official pipers of the highlander McDonald clan – a fact that Pop Piper used to enthrall us with, and his stories of Flora McKenzie and so on, when I was a kid.

    How much more “Donald” do you need to be? 🙂

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