THE PAPAL JUBILEE.
New Zealand Tablet, Rōrahi XV, Putanga 45, 2 Poutūterangi 1888, Page 29
THE PAPAL JUBILEE.
(The Nation, December 31.)
The basilica of St. Peter's at Borne is putting on once more an appearance of its old life. The grand ceremonial which it witnesses this week, and which specially Bignalises the last day of a year not unmarked by significant events, recalls the memories of those glories that have for a time departed from it ; but of which the present may not unlikely presage the return. Not since the disastrous eventd of 1870 has Borne witnessed a spectacle so truly expressive of its own particular fame among the cities of the world. A generation of Romans has almost grown to manhood since the degradation and imprisonment of old Rome's King was accomplished by the Sardinian. The citizens of the Eternal City have been fed on the pageants of a mimic greatness incomparably inferior to that of which Rome was despoiled by the usurper. They will now, however, have an opportunity of understanding what a noble heritage the strange rulers have been en Jeavouriug to destroy, by interfering with the authority of a Prince whose tbrone is the most ancient, and whose sway is the widest or any of the world's sovereigns, and they will learn the difference between Rome the capital of a Peninsula and Rome the centre of the Catholic world. The occasion is the celebration, with befitting solemnity, of the fiftieth anniveisary of Pope Leo's sacerdotal ordination ; and around no Pope more personally worthy of the honour or more truly fitted to express in his person and history the meaning of the august office, the duties of which he discharges with so much dignity, could the ceremonies centre. His career up to the time of his election to fill the Chair of Peter was that of a most trustworthy and most brilliant servant of the Vatican, and, at the same time, a most aealous pastor. As Provincial Administrator, as Papal Nuncio, and as Archbishop of Perugia, he showed his capacity to meet the varied demands of high ecclesiastical office, and his elevation to the Papacy was a most natural term to a long record of great services. Since his elevation he has more than fulfilled the promise of his earlier years ; and the recovery which the last decade has seen in the
apparently ruined power of the Roman Pontiff is not a little due 'to the personal talent of Pope Leo himself. So remarkable has th« recovery been, that the present celebration is as magnificent and of as real import as the celebration of the anniversary of any temporal power. The sovereigns and sovereign peoples of almost every land will be represented there. The Emperor of Germany and the Queen of England, the heads of that Tentonic race which was supposed to have not alone separated itself for ever from both the spiritual and the temporal influence of Rome, bat to have raised itself in everlasting enmity to it, will both be present by deputy. Austria and Spain, among the faithless faithful, will not alone be represented by the delegates of the Courts, bat by embassies of the Catholic peoples. The President of the Great Republic of the West, in the healthy heart of which Ireland has planted the fruitful seed of its faith,' will testify ' by his own hand to the reverence with which a great democracy regard!' a sovereign who is the embodiment of moral law alone. And from the Southern half of the American Continent will come messages even more spontaneous, if not more significant, the expression of the sympathy of the young republics of the South. Even the son of Victor Emmanuel will be there to do, willingly or unwillingly, necessary homage to the sovereign in whose plundered palace ne keeps his Court. Neither prinoas nor peoples are holding back their reverence from the successor ol Pius IX., whose claim to a sovereignty, his by immemorial enjoyment and acknowledgment, the world almost" treated as a joke. Pope Leo is king of no territory, commander of no armed forces, He has neither the wealth to purchase homage, nor the strength to enforce it. He can give no return for all this sympathy and homage. He is the mere treasurer of a moral tradition, the bead of a spiritual kingdom. His office is to interpret the one truly, and to rule the other as independently as may be, ad major em Deigloriam. The letter of the Divine law cannot be changed to suit the presump. tions of either the monarcha or their subjects. The Church organisa* tion has but one law ; it cannot be made to serve two. Yet here wo have the Statesmen and the States whose armies are counted' "by millions, whose State maxima are the codification of the doctrine of force, whose years are spent in intrigue, greedy of expansion, aad only coerced into right-doing by the spectacle or the experience of equal or^greater force opposed to their own, coming to this Undless, unarmed, penniless, king with testimonials of respect such as they lavish on the most puissant of sovereigns. What is the meaning of this f Have the great Powers of Europe begun to mistrust their armed millions f Have they discovered at last the truth that, not alone does might not make right, but that there is a might in right sufficiently coercive in itself to make' it" prevail ? Is there no security in physical force unless there be moral force behind it ? We can find no other meaning in this display of homage to a physically powerless monarchy, whose only claim on the world is as much of its power as will leave him free to discharge the Divine mission, unthreateaed and unawed. The nations pressed down by the oppressive burthen of armed battalions which the modern faith in force has made their only seourity, and kept ever in unrest by the dreadful expectation of the day which shall summon these hosts to their brute work, turn with a natural eagerness to the one sovereign on earth, who, to justify all his claims, and to arraign all his wrongs, appeals to one code, the law which God proclaimed to his peoples] There would be hope for a reign of peace if this homage were rendered freely and from the 1 heart, without any arriere pensee. We ffearr r however, that in more than one instance the spirit of the diplomatic gambler is mixed with the spirit of respect for a spiritual sovereignty , Not all this homage is rendered aa freely as that of the President of the Republic of the United States, or that of the popular assemblies of the young Republics of Ecuador and Columbia. We fear that more than one etatesman who has found the rights of nations and of peoples fragile things, may be under the delusion that the moral law which Pope Leo preaches is flexible to his needs, and that he can purchase the influence ot it by a lip Bervice and a knee worship. If that be so, he is destined to a rude awakening. That law can buttress no tyranny and consecrate no wrong. The tyrant and the wrongdoer, wherever he arises or whatsoever he deserves, can expect nothing from Catholicity but its enmity and its curse. Nevertheless, even if a large proportion of those who are bent in reverence to Pope Leo are render* ing him a homage which is the reverse of honest, the necessity that compels them there will remain. Should they lift themselves oace more in enmity against the authority which they must find be to both unpurchaseable and not to be terrified, it will still be a consolation to people who yet dream of the rule of right, that the hypocrites will not thereby escape the force that has brought them in all their strength to the Court of Pope Leo. To the peoples who in their complete freedom and out of no selfishness have sent their message of sympathy to the prisoner of the Vatican, he can wish no greater blessing than that they may be always aa free to pay untainted and untarnished respect to the Vicar of Christ.