“Should Old Pope Leo Die: the political tendencies of his successor. The Cardinal who would probably win the prize – his Polish supporter – affairs in France and
January 23, 1892
A prophetic understatement.
The Papacy since 1870 has been in a position where practically everything turns upon the personality of the Pontiff and his choice of advisers. There can be no more mediocre Popes under whose nominal guidance matters can go on in commonplace routine. Every successor of Peter now must make a big mark in the history of the Church for good or bad. If he is not very strong, he will be found lamentably weak. There is no longer any middle course.
Leo has been one of the strong kind. His fourteen years of reign have been devoted to building a new sort of Papacy beside rather than upon the ruins of the old structure. Considering the great difficulties and obstacles in the way of his task, proceeding even more from within than without, the result is exceptionally successful. Perhaps the outcome of his labors is best described by saying that he has shown those who thought the Papacy need no longer be taken into account in the world’s affairs because
has been wrestled from it that they were profoundly mistaken. The Vatican to-day wields far greater influence in Rome Europethan it has done before since the French Revolution.
But it is a peculiarly personal influence. The next Pope will inherit only the opportunities of securing it for himself, and failing to improve these will be vastly easier than success.
It seems to be taken for granted that Cardinal Raphael Monaco la Valetta [b. February 23, 1827- d. July 14, 1896] will secure the succession. He is the doyen of the Sacred College and Secretary of the Inquisition- an amiable, unambitious priest of sixty-five, who has the very slenderest notions of or interest in the general European situation. He is extremely simple in his tastes, is not in the least stirred by all the great outside social and political problems with which Leo has striven to grapple as a sacerdotal Tory. By temperament he always belonged to the conservative wing of the college. He will assume the tiara, if elected, as its representative and opposed to the small liberal group headed by Cardinal Parocchi. If he stood by himself there would be no risk in predicting that this would be a reign under which the Papacy would lose more prestige than Leo gained for it.
It is very well understood, however, that
Monacois entirely under the control of Ledochowski, that proud, imperious, and able Pole who made such worlds of trouble in the old Kulterkampf day and who has been able to impose his will very often upon even the present Pope. This powerful man was in a German prison when Pius IX created him a Cardinal in 1875. Next year he was released and banished, and he has since lived in Bismarck , devoting his great wealth and talents to building up a militant Ultramontagne party about him. His wrath at the treatment he received at the hands of Rome has colored all his political views. He has hated both Bismarck Germanyand Italyand has looked unceasingly forward to the time when French bayonets should restore the temporal power of the Vaticanin the old . Roman States
If we assume that this spirited and resolute prelate will shortly be ruling the Church through its nominal head, it becomes a most anxious question how he will accept the existing political conditions of
Europewhich have so radically changed since 1875. The new rulers of the Germans have been at pains to show their desire to abolish the last traces of the Kulterkampf. When the pending Prussian Education bill is passed, the German Catholics will be actually stronger than they were before the May laws. During the last half year these dispatches have frequently reflected the new interest which William and his immediate entourage are displaying in the Polish question. Of course a good deal of this has arisen naturally from the contemplation of the necessity of sooner or later fighting Russia: but even more it represents the effort to allure Ledochowski into friendship with by an appeal to his national sentiment. How far this has succeeded will be, as has been said, a most anxious question. Germany
In any event under this new regime there would be an abrupt cessation of pastorals on Socialistic and labor problems and of poems about St. Thomas Aquinas. We should instead see the
boldly embark upon the troubled waters of European diplomacy, seeking alliances and taking desperate risks upon the fortune in the next war. Vatican
Wlodimir (Vladimir) Ledochowski According to Tupper Saussy