Napoleon III Silences L’Univers Due to Its Valiant Defense of Pius IX

Print Friendly, PDF & Email
Napoleon III Silences L’Univers Due to Its Valiant Defense of Pius IX
Napoleon III Silences L’Univers Due to Its Valiant Defense of Pius IX

Not content with Napoleon III’s peace treaty with Austria, the kingdom of Sardinia-Piedmont continued to entangle itself in Italian politics. True, King Vitorio Emanuel had dismissed his Prime Minister, the Count di Cavour. The king also recalled to Turin, the agitators his former minister had distributed throughout Italy.

However, on the other hand, the French forced the Austrian troops to withdraw from all the Italian states they had protected from revolutionaries.

The major European powers recommended that Italian sovereigns avoid using force against insurrection. This reticence facilitated the development of revolutionary parties everywhere. These, in turn, could promote riots, confident they would not be effectively repressed. Such acts made the progress of the revolution appear spontaneous. By avoiding its hitherto unofficial responsibility, Sardinia-Piedmont stirred unrest in the Papal States without jeopardizing the policy of its leading ally, Napoleon III. Meanwhile, the French Emperor still pretended to respect the rights of the Holy See while waiting for an opportune moment to side openly with the revolutionaries against the Pope. That resulted in the revolutionary appropriation of parts of the Papal States.

Eternal and Natural Law: The Foundation of Morals and Law

When asked by Italian emissaries to recognize the dismemberment of the papal territories, the Emperor decided to hasten his pronouncement. He dismissed his foreign minister, Count Alexandre Colonna-Walewsky, who disagreed with the policy. He then launched an anonymous booklet titled Le pape et le congrés (The Pope and the Congress) to prepare public opinion and gauge how people reacted. The book’s author, claiming to be a sincere Catholic, invited the Pope to accept the fait accompli and surrender his temporal power. It soon transpired that this pamphlet had been written by state councilor Arthur de la Gueronnière and that Napoleon III had either dictated it or provided its outline. The booklet’s repercussions were enormous.

The revolutionary press applauded the government’s coming betrayal. With few exceptions, Catholic newspapers (including L’Ami de la réligion) protested and refuted the pamphlet. In that emergency, French Catholicism was all the more cohesive because Interior Minister Ernest Arrighi de Casanova, the Duke of Padua, had resigned on November 1, 1859. He was one of the few Catholics who had remained in the cabinet after the Emperor’s change of policies.

To show Louis Napoleon that French public opinion massively opposed his attitude, l’Univers prepared a message of displeasure and reparation to the Pope. The text was published with a notice that it would remain in the editorial office to receive signatures before being sent. The next day, the government prohibited the collection of signatures. Their pretext was that the message was a political action. Even more threatening for the newspaper was a second official warning accompanying the prohibition.

Pius IX could not fail to protest the publication of Le pape et le congré. The world, especially French Catholics, anxiously awaited His Holiness’s response. On January 1, 1860, an episode made it clear that Pius would speak out. The Apostolic Nuncio in Paris was to greet the Emperor on behalf of the Diplomatic Corps. After the usual greetings, the papal representative merely said: “Sir, on this first day of the year, which gathers the Diplomatic Corps around Your Majesty, I am honored to present to you their respectful greetings and homage.” Everyone understood that the papal representative’s brief remark meant the Holy Father was about to make a strong statement of his own.

On that same date, the Pope met with General de Goyon, commander of the French troops headquartered in the papal states. The General who had come to greet him with the other officials gathered in Rome. The Pope ended by saying:

Prophecies of Our Lady of Good Success About Our TimesLearn All About the Prophecies of Our Lady of Good Success About Our Times

“In the humility of Our heart, We ask God to bring down abundant graces and lights upon the August Head of your army and nation so that, thus enlightened, he may proceed in his difficult task of recognizing the falsity of some principles expressed over the last few days in a booklet [Le pape et le congré] that can be defined as a monument of hypocrisy and an ignoble tissue of contradictions. We hope—and even better, are sure—that with the help of these lights, he will condemn the principles contained in that booklet. We are convinced of this because we possess documents that His Majesty kindly sent us earlier, which are veritable condemnations of these principles. With this conviction, We ask God to shower His blessings upon his august consort, the prince imperial, and all of France.”

When the French Government heard of the remarks a few days later, the reaction was to forbid their publication.

Due to postal censorship, l’Univers only learned of the Holy Father’s speech when a government official came to the editorial office to forbid its publication. Veuillot replied that he would not obey the government’s demand. Indeed, he would print the document the next day. Napoleon III then changed tactics and had the remarks published in the Moniteur. They were preceded by a note that the Holy Father would not have spoken in such words if he had received a letter the Emperor had sent him.

The effect of Pius IX’s pronouncement was enormous. However, the letter the Emperor referred to could diminish its effect if left unanswered. In it, Napoleon III sought to justify his new policy as the only means of preventing the progress of the revolution. He expressed his firm resolve to continue on that path.

The answer was not long in coming. In Rome, on January 19, 1860, Pius IX published the encyclical Nullius Certe Verbus (On the Need for Civil Sovereignty). It condemned the entire political orientation of Sardinia-Piedmont and the French Empire. The Pope exposed the Emperor’s duplicity.

10 Razones Por las Cuales el “Matrimonio” Homosexual es Dañino y tiene que Ser Desaprobado

“We asked that he, by his most powerful patronage in the Congress at Paris, defend the integral and inviolate nature of the temporal power belonging to us and the Holy See and that he be willing to safeguard it from evil rebellion. In his letter, the great Emperor, recalling his somewhat earlier proposal to Us concerning rebellious provinces of Our papal states, advises that We should, of Our own accord, surrender the possession of these same provinces since it seems to him to be the only way to amend the present disorder.”

Communications were slow, and the encyclical only arrived in France a few days later. The editors of l’Univers held a continuous meeting as they impatiently waited for it. Finally, on January 26, the Apostolic Nuncio sent for Louis Veuillot and gave him the official text. Upon returning to the editorial office, Veuillot showed the encyclical to his colleagues and exclaimed, “This is our death warrant. The newspaper will no longer exist.”

The editors immediately began translating it to have it published before the government could prevent its circulation in l’Univers. It came out in the January 29 issue. That same day, the cabinet met under the Emperor’s chairmanship and approved the suppression decree:

“Under article 32 of the organic decree of February 17, 1852, we decree:

Art. 1-The Univers newspaper is hereby terminated.

Art. 2-Our Interior Minister is charged with executing this decree, to be published in the Bulletin of Laws.

Given at the Palais des Tuileries, January 29, 1860.”

The decree arrived at the editorial office of l’Univers at half past nine in the evening. After twenty years of struggle, the newspaper had gloriously disappeared.

Related Articles: