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The Signs of the Times, vol. 13

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    March 3, 1887

    “The Papacy and Peace” The Signs of the Times 13, 9, p. 134.

    IN the midst of the alarms of a great European war, the Papacy, as might be expected, is constantly strengthening itself, increasing its prestige, and enlarging its power. The relations established last year between Bismarck and the Pope were only the prelude to more important movements on the part of both Germany and the Papacy, and each one has been a stepping-stone to the steady aggrandizement of the Papacy. And now that the German Parliament refuses to vote the assurance of war supplies and forces for seven years, the Papacy throws all its influence into the scale in favor of Bismarck and the emperor and all their demands for war materials, and for the establishment of the forces upon the strongest possible war footing. Official letters have been sent by the Pope instructing the Catholics in Germany and the Parliament to support the Government demands, and thus he makes complete his alliance with Germany, and his position secure so far as Germany is concerned.SITI March 3, 1887, page 134.1

    For about two years, or perhaps more, the relations between France and the Papacy have been at a pretty high tension; but now on account of the threatening aspect of affairs, France is making advances which the Papacy receives very cordially and graciously, as a matter of course, and at the same time very condescendingly grants favors that amount to nothing, and concessions that cost her nothing.SITI March 3, 1887, page 134.2

    The Papacy has also made overtures to Russia. But as her proffers were rather too extravagant, the Czar would not entertain them at all. We have no doubt, however, that there will be such modifications that, in some way, the connection will be secured. As for Austria and Spain, the Pope owns them bodily, almost.SITI March 3, 1887, page 134.3

    All these negotiations, too, are entirely in the interests of peace! That is, if Germany cannot be placed upon the strongest possible war footing for seven years, there will be war before seven years pass. Therefore, as a “distinguished prelate” stated is, Prince Bismarck “quite unofficially” dropped the merely casual remark that “if the Pope will speak the word now in favor of the Septenate, he will be helping to keep the peace.” And “so with purely peaceful views, the holy father thought it right to speak.”SITI March 3, 1887, page 134.4

    Yet as “purely peaceful” as his views may be, there is one thing that the Pope has in view in it all, and that is the re-establishment of the power of the Papacy, especially in Italy. Said the aforesaid “distinguished prelate,” “The Vatican had serious reasons to believe its intervention would improve the position of the Holy See, especially in its relation with Italy.” That is the one grand view that underlies and pervades all the Pope’s “peaceful views;” it is to make firm his alliance with all these other powers, and then by their united power bring such a pressure upon Italy that she shall be compelled, in one way or another, to recognize the sovereignty of the Papacy, and consent to the restoration of its power. And if such a result can only be accomplished in the end by a general European war, then into such a war all Europe will be plunged without a moment’s hesitation. And such is the purity of the peaceful views with which “the holy father thought it right to speak,” and with which he labors everywhere and in all things in the interests of “peace.” The movements and the workings of the Papacy just now are an important study.SITI March 3, 1887, page 134.5