Monday, September 5, 2011

Prisoner of the Vatican

I recently finished reading this fascinating history of the fall of the Papal States and the birth of modern Italy, along with the contentious early years between the papacy and the Italian monarchy. For many Catholics today used to pontificates like that of the late John Paul II, reading about Pius IX & Leo XIII scheming with foreign powers to undermine the 'godless' Italian state and working for the restoration of their own temporal power, is probably a bit shocking. I can see the need for a sovereign Vatican City but theocracy a la the Papal States holds absolutely no appeal to me. Still, while the papacy may not come across in the best light in this history neither do the early modern Italian leaders. Some of them were just as fanatical and just as objectionable as some of those in the papal party, only from the other side of the spectrem of course. Losing the Papal States was probably the best thing to happen to the Church in quite a long time. One thing for sure is that is helped bring us popes like John XXIII or JPII, who while flawed were both good men and probably never would have sat in St. Peter's Chair if the events of this book hadn't of happened. An interesting bit of history and a book I highly recommend.