The Vatican and Italy


EVER since that fine day in 1870 when the troops of King Victor Emmanuel II penetrated a breach they had made in the Porta Pia and entered the city of Rome, there has been an endless conflict between the Holy See, which used to possess the city, and its new sovereign, the Italian State. This conflict has, however, been tempered by discreet arrangements and secret negotiations. To-day the so-called Roman question has assumed a new aspect, owing to the fact that Italy is no longer ruled by a normal government, but by a sort of second pope, who has adopted the programme of giving this nation a new religion to be put beside its former religion.

But it would be impossible to understand why the negotiations between Mussolini and the Vatican have fallen through, and why an inevitable and increasing state of tension is going to separate these two powers still further, if we failed to recall the relations that have existed between the Church and the monarchy during the last fifty years. I shall sum up these relations in a few words, basing my statements not only upon ordinary publications, but upon statements by prelates and former accredited diplomats who have been close to the Holy See. In short, I am giving here the results of an investigation made on the spot only a few weeks ago.

In the first place, the beginning of the struggle is less tragic than we ordinarily believe. The two persons most responsible were General Cadorna, Chief of Police at Rome and father of the man who was generalissimo of the Italian army during the last war, and Pantaleoni, a politician and a supporter of the General. Neither of these two men, however, had anything to do with the Carbonari or with the Freemasons. They were both practising Catholics who took Communion every Sunday, simple patriots eager to give the new Italy her historic capital. Being what they were, they were guided by a mixture of nationalist and religious idealism. They were the natural successors of those two eloquent priests, Gioberti and Romini, who pursued a vigorous campaign from 1830 to 1850 with a view to preventing the Church from continuing as the sovereign of Rome. During that period the kingdom of Italy did not exist, and these two good priests believed that they would be rendering a service to the Vatican if they were to relieve the sovereign pontiff of the temporal care of administering the Papal States. They thought that the Pope lost prestige and dignity by intervening in the petty affairs of his turbulent subjects, and that it would be much better for him merely to be a sovereign in his own palace, without having to govern a few hundred thousand individuals who lived near him.

It is admitted to-day that the sham assault made on Rome in 1870 was executed after a secret agreement had been drawn up with the Pope. Pius IX wanted the fact to be well established that he was yielding to violence, but he was content to have this violence symbolized by a mere gesture and the firing of a single cannon.

Just when the Italian Government was installed in the Roman capital and the inhabitants of Rome had confirmed in a plebiscite their own desire to be Italians, the State tried to give the pontiff a special statute appropriate to the dignity of the chief of the Catholic Church. Italian statesmen were alive to the difficulties of the affair, for the Pope has two qualities — he is Bishop of Rome, and Head of the Universal Catholic Church. As Bishop of Rome he participates in Italian affairs, while as Head of the Church he has to be entirely independent of any state, for if he showed any connection with any government he would arouse the defiance of states to which other faithful subjects of his belong.

For many centuries this condition of independence took the form of a pontifical state over which the Pope exercised a sovereignty which legally disappeared when Rome became the capital of Italy. The Law of Guarantees, which to-day lies at the bottom of the debate and which dates from May 13, 1871, was at least intended to assure the Holy See total independence.

Many advantages might have been given to the pontiff by virtue of a freely accepted contract, had not Pius IX objected that this law of May 13, 1871, was a law, and not a concordat, forgetting that a concordat had been offered him three times. The law in question confirmed everything that previous negotiations had proposed, but it did not appear to assure sufficiently the sovereign character of the Holy Father. Pius IX, like his successor, Leo XIII, insisted on revindication of the status quo pure and simple — that is to say, the reëstablishment of the Papal States. What shocked him most in the proposed statute was that the Italian State offered him a stipend of thirty million lire a year, which he declared reduced him to the rank of a salaried person. Moreover, he could not accept the idea of having the functionaries and officials of his court all looked upon as Italian subjects. It may also be added in parentheses that one of the most curious consequences of the Law of Guarantees is that now any person of any nationality whatever is treated as an Italian subject once he enters the service of the pontiff.

In spite of the uncompromising attitude of Pius IX, the relations between him and Victor Emmanuel II were not very tragic, and I have it personally from one of the former French ambassadors at the Vatican that Pius IX often wrote affectionately to Victor Emmanuel, to whom he referred as ‘il nostro dilettissimo figlio il rè Vittorio Emanuele.’ In other words, he recognized Victor Emmanuel’s title of king, but not the fact that he was King of Italy.


Contrary to what one might believe, it was Pope Leo XIII, whose compliance and moderation were so generally admired, who returned to a violent intransigent attitude. He showed moderation toward other countries, but never toward Italy.

Now that we have seen the archives that show how his policies worked, we discover that he spent his entire life patiently pursuing his dream of getting revenge on the kingdom of Italy. He abandoned the French monarchists, who had placed their hopes in him, and adopted the most friendly attitude toward the French Republic, in the hope of inciting France against Italy and driving the two nations to war.

To placate the King of England, Leo XIII sacrificed the Irish Catholics. To get on good terms with the German Emperor, he stopped supporting the Polish Catholics against the Protestant Prussian squires who were expropriating them. He was the friend of any government that he hoped he might be able to align against the Italian monarchy. He lived on vast illusions, pretending that the returns of the Roman plebiscite of November 20, 1870, were falsified, and that the people were really demanding the restoration of papal sovereignty.

However, even under this intransigent pontiff, a kind of modus vivendi between Church and State had been organized. A system of worship that still subsists was created, and the chief of this movement for many years was the Baron Monti. The State paid the bishops and priests, and the King maintained his strict right, by virtue of historic tradition, to name bishops on certain portions of Italian territory.

All these customs gave evident proof that secret agreements had been made between the two powers. The King of Italy, for example, always enjoyed the right of nominating the Patriarch of Venice and the Archbishop of Genoa. In the latter city it happened that the Holy See once named a certain Monsignor Caron, who, according to M. Finnocchiario Aprile, the Minister of Justice, possessed neither the prudence nor the other qualities essential to a man who held such a title, and who by his prestige could exercise great influence on public opinion. The exequatur was refused, and the new Archbishop could not take possession of the mense — in other words, his material prerogatives. Within a month the Holy See yielded and removed him.

Generally, when prelates were appointed to posts of this nature, their nomination was announced the same day in the Osservatore Romano, the organ of the Vatican, and in the Official Journal.

When Pius X, however, succeeded to the pontificate, things took a different course. The new Pope was a man of the people. As a Venetian peasant he had always given ardent proof of his patriotism and of his loyalty toward the monarchy. It was under him that the formal interdiction forbidding practising Catholics from voting at the elections was first ignored on a large scale, whereas under Leo XIII devout Catholics had meekly submitted to it. Catholics at first began regaining permission to do their duty as citizens in a local way through special agreements. Some years later, however, when the Socialists threatened to enjoy a large majority in the Italian Parliament, a kind of pact was concluded on the initiative of a militant Catholic, Gentiluoni, and the faithful were authorized to cast their ballots in order to prevent a victory of the extreme Left Wing parties. Although this return of Catholicism into the life of the nation did not solve the Roman question, it caused great excitement. Ever since the closing years of the nineteenth century, a group of Catholics of humble birth had been developing and advancing a social doctrine of wide scope that later developed into the popular party led by Don Sturzo.

Toward the end of Pius X’s career the Vatican was thus moving toward the Left, but the movement was destined to be much stronger later when Cardinal Gasparri succeeded Cardinal Merry del Val as Secretary of State.

Monsignor Gasparri, who is now in charge of the Vatican foreign relations, prides himself on being a real democrat, both in sympathy and in speech. Under three successive Popes his policy has been to strengthen the position of the Holy See and to solve the Roman question. Thus it was that during the war he entered into negotiations with Germany, which promised him that it would reëstablish the temporal power of the Pope. These negotiations would have remained absolutely secret if Erzberger, the former German Minister, assassinated by the Nationalists, had not left them to be discovered in his Reminiscences.


The war placed the Vatican in a strange position. The Osservatore Romano was subject to censorship, and the Pope could communicate with the Governments and with his faithful followers in Central Europe only via the Nunciature at Munich and at Vienna. Germany, not so much through deference to the pontiff as with a view to securing a powerful ally, made certain propositions in October 1914. According to the terms projected here, Austria was to cede the Trentino to the Pope; the kingdom of Italy was to modify the Law of Guarantees and to regulate the question of financial independence in a form that would be agreeable to the Holy See.

But the most curious suggestions were those that saw the light of day in May 1915, and traces of which again appear in the last negotiations between Mussolini and the Vatican. This time it is a question of creating a little neutral State made up of that part of the city of Rome that lies on the left bank of the Tiber and a zone extending to the sea, with a port attached. In order to study the problem, the German Government proposed the creation of an International Committee made up of five or six distinguished Catholics, presided over by a Spaniard or a Swiss. Catholics from all over the world were to be invited to an International Congress that would see to it that the political liberty and independence of the Holy See would be guaranteed and regulated after peace was signed.

Early in December of the same year, the Holy Father himself exposed in a consistory ‘how much the dignity of the Pope was wounded in that the situation in which he found himself did not give him the full liberty absolutely essential to the government of the Church.’ The Allied Powers immediately replied by offering a convention that was already outlined in principle in the London pact between Italy and the other Powers, and according to which the Roman question would in no case be discussed during the peace negotiations. Germany did not give up, however, and at the end of 1916 Erzberger once more propounded his theory of an International Committee as a protest against Article XV in the London pact of April 1915, according to which the Vatican was excluded from the peace negotiations.

But Erzberger also went much further and drew up a projected treaty that was approved by the German Government and by Emperor Karl of Austria. The power of the Pope was here recognized as embracing a domain that included the hill of the Vatican and a strip of land establishing communication with the Tiber and with the Viterbo railway line, and this domain was to be called the State of the Church.

This projected treaty was vaguely known about and, as might be imagined, enjoyed only moderate favor among the Italians. The Holy Father received a number of propositions, one being to move to one of the Calabrian hills belonging to Spain, another to move to Salzburg in Austria, or, again, to accept from the reigning prince of the little State of Liechtenstein, between Switzerland and Austria, the cession of his territory and his sovereign rights.

During the same period, the official review of the German Jesuits, Stimmen aus Marialaach, printed some articles signed by Father Ehrle, who is now Cardinal, completely favoring the reëstablishment of temporal power.

These complicated manœuvres led to nothing, for the Powers were intractable and the Pope played no rôle at the peace conference. As things turned out, victorious Italy accentuated the maintenance of her rights, and it seemed that the Vatican had nothing whatever to hope for. But Cardinal Gasparri, who had long believed that Germany would win the war, and profoundly regretted the fact that none of his pet measures had succeeded, patiently endeavored to renew negotiations with Italy alone. Diplomats who had lived in Rome for a long time knew that every week in the Passionists’ garden the Cardinal met the President of the Council, Nitti, who is to-day in exile, and whom Mussolini looks upon as the worst of his enemies.

These two statesmen made various plans. They were sympathetic toward each other, and the Cardinal had the advantage of having rendered valuable service to Nitti’s son, a prisoner in Germany during the war. This man, having vigorously supported the popular party, even began giving direct encouragement to the extreme Left. The deputy Miglioli, from Cremona, went so far as to acclaim Lenin and Trotsky before Catholic congresses, where he made speeches of which the Roman curia had certainly approved. Unfortunately for this policy, Mussolini marched upon Rome in October 1922, and within a few months the whole Italian situation had changed.

Everything changed except the Cardinal Secretary of State, who remained at his post in the difficult situation of having encouraged to the extreme limit, and even treated as friends, men who found themselves suddenly reduced to persecuted and proscribed enemies of their country. No purely political power could have maintained its position in the face of such a change. But the Church possesses a strength and a wealth of resource that no governments and even no sovereigns enjoy. Cardinal Gasparri studied the situation profoundly. He understood it, and, following the old maxim of the Holy See, displayed patience. Patientia œternum.


The new dictator’s attitude toward Catholicism was animated by two different if not contradictory sentiments. On the one hand, logic obliged him to fight political organizations of the Left. On the other hand, wishing to organize a systematic hierarchy in which the so-called conquests of democracy would give way to a strict organization of all productive forces under one authority, he had to lean on the Church.

Americans must never forget that in Latin countries Freemasonry is utterly different from what it is in Germanic and Anglo-Saxon countries. It is much more secret and is grouped into national powers known as Grands Orients, which originated in the revolutionary associations of the eighteenth century that cleared the way for the great social changes of our own time. These associations aimed to eliminate the power of the king, to destroy the privileges of the nobility and clergy, and to establish equality, and they have necessarily become utterly hostile to Catholicism, which is one of the strongest supports of the old régime. In England Freemasonry is loyalist and the royal family belong to it. Prince Henry of Hohenzollern has been Grand Master of the grand German lodge for a number of years; and in America, where the churches are entirely independent of the State, Freemasonry is not antireligious, but generally devotes itself to social good works.

In France and Italy, on the contrary, the Grand Orient has inherited the political attitudes that it assumed under Louis XV and Louis XVI, which means that it professes to be animated by a revolutionary spirit and that it takes a considerable part in political struggles. The old Masonic formula, ‘In the name and under the auspices of the Great Architect of the Universe,’ has been suppressed in the Grand Orient, where a kind of philosophic atheism prevails. When a Freemason is initiated in France or Italy, he first spends a few moments in a black-lined cabinet in company with a skeleton and several skulls, and he has to sign a kind of political testament in which he undertakes to refuse to participate in any church ceremony that has any intimate relation to his own existence or the existence of his family. Naturally Italian Freemasonry strongly opposes Mussolini, since it is traditionally opposed to any dictator. After prosecuting this movement for three years, the Duce finally suppressed it completely.

His first step of suppressing Freemasonry was extremely agreeable to the Vatican and he made others equally important. The famous Crucifix that once stood in the middle of the Coliseum, which had been removed since the taking of Rome in 1870, was set up again. The figure of Christ once more hung on the walls of schools, in law courts and universities. Members of the Church who were sent on missions to foreign countries were exempt from military service, and Mussolini gave them free passage on Italian ships. The lay schools established under the Crispi ministry were eliminated by a simple decree, and their direction was put in the hands of suitable religious authorities. By various ordinances the Dictator gradually brought to life moral rules of conduct that might have been uttered by the Holy College itself. All this was done in collaboration with the Vatican, with whom he communicated through a curious person, the Jesuit Tacchi Venturi, who was the recent object of an attempted assassination that remains unexplained.

But, in spite of all this friendliness, Mussolini made two mistakes. He could not be discreet or modest. It soon became evident that official relations had been established between the State and the Church. The Fascist newspapers made no bones about proclaiming the fact, and nothing could have put the Pope and Cardinal Gasparri in a more unpleasant position. From the instant that the newspapers announced that the Holy See had agreed with Fascism upon a certain number of dispositions involving the regular and secular clergy, a reaction set in throughout the Catholic world, and the impression became current that the Holy Father had abandoned his attitude of dignified reserve and his position as the imprisoned Head of the Church living in apostolic palaces.

What complicated the situation still further was that the Fascist newspapers not only made numerous allusions to the new relations, but also began to develop a system by which Fascism would absorb the Church, the Head of the Church being able to gain a certain number of material and moral advantages, provided that he agreed strictly to support the new régime. This explains why Arnoldo Mussolini, the Dictator’s brother, made the following declaration in Popolo d’Italia: ‘In the fullness of its political virtue and its right Italy can discuss matters with the Holy See. She has every title to serve as both judge and guarantee.’

Thus, in spite of the services rendered by Fascism, a natural antipathy between nationalist doctrines and the Church remains. Every time a sovereign, whether it were Louis XIV, Napoleon, or an Emperor of the Holy Germanic Empire, has tried to raise patriotism or royal power to the height of a religion, he has found himself up against the Holy See. Various forms of nationalism are the greatest obstacle to the realization of the universal principle of the Church, for what is the point of nationalism if it is organized under the shadow of a really strong single power? Actually it amounts to a kind of religious movement that tends to confine the power of the Church to the domain of the individual conscience. When a strong nation cannot achieve complete separation between Church and State, a struggle between these two organizations begins. In every European country with strong nationalist feelings the theory that civil power should take precedence of religious power is particularly marked. Even such governments as Fascism, which do their utmost to manifest complete deference toward the Church on religious matters, revolt as soon as the Church pretends to exercise what might seem a political influence on its followers.

Ever since Fascism originated, it has understood that the Church was the only organization it would not be able to absorb easily. Sometimes by flattery and sometimes by intimidation, it has showed that it realized how little it could accomplish in the face of such a power. Fascism has abolished parties and suppressed class war by obliging workmen to enter Fascist corporations; it has undertaken the task of supervising commerce, industry, and banking; it has assumed command of military and naval forces; it has organized sporting societies; but the Church has remained at its post, because the Church considers itself above politics. It is the harbor of refuge from Fascism, which, in its turn, will not admit any superior.


Clearly foreseeing this inevitable conflict, Mussolini has for ten years encouraged his intimate friends to search for a solution of the Roman question, thinking that if he could deliver the Holy See from the burden that has weighed upon it since the fall of Rome he would have rendered it such a service that he could always count on its support.

Tacchi Venturi, the Jesuit father I have already mentioned, has lately been the intermediary in these transactions. Looking back on past history and on the various propositions that had been put forward since the kingdom of Italy was created, both the Fascist and the ecclesiastical negotiators conceived of various solutions. The simplest of these consisted in continuing the Law of Guarantees of 1871, but ceasing to give it a purely Italian character. Italy would engage herself before the other nations of the earth to respect and maintain this law, and the sovereignty of the pontiff would thus become an international and irrevocable fact.

Another alternative was that the Italian Government, without entering into any engagement, should nevertheless recognize in the form of a special declaration the Holy See’s independent power and its right to participate in conferences between sovereign states or in the activities of the League of Nations.

It was, in short, a return to the position taken by the President of the Italian Council fifty-five years ago, when he said to the Chamber on February 2, 1871, ’The Ministry is disposed to consider the sovereign pontiff at the head of the universal Church as an international person who cannot be dependent upon any State nor be subject to any Government, nor in consequence be subject to any particular jurisdiction.’ But this declaration, instead of being made to the national parliament, was to have been made to the entire world. It represented the limit of legal concession. Even though the concession amounted to only a square kilometre of Roman territory, Mussolini and his advisers felt that this elimination of all territorial litigation was nevertheless absolutely incompatible with the 1871 plebiscite, in accordance with which the population declared its desire to belong to Italy.

But no sooner had the conversation entered this phase than both sides began to draw back. The Fascists at once protested that the word of Fascist Italy was sufficient; and the Osservatore Romano declared, ’Italy has it in her power to create the State that the Church needs in order to exercise its spiritual functions in this world. The Holy See is waiting, as the most eminent Cardinal Secretary of State declared during the war when the question was exploited to the detriment of Italy, and the Holy See still awaits the solution, not through foreign intervention, but as a result of the Italian people’s own feeling for right and justice.’

But the organ of the Vatican promptly went on to add the following restriction, which was incompatible with Fascist sentiment: ‘The foreign Powers will only have to make the usual acknowledgments of what Italy will have done in conjunction with the Holy See.’ This passage referred to the words of the Duce himself, who made the following statement on April 21, 1921, in the course of a memorable speech before the Chamber: ‘I affirm that the Latin and imperial tradition of Rome is today represented by Catholicism. I believe and affirm that the universal idea that exists to-day at Rome is the idea that shines forth from the Vatican.’

Meanwhile the following thesis has developed under the direct inspiration of the Pope and of Cardinal Gasparri. The Roman question is not to be submitted to public opinion or to Catholics all over the world. The Pope himself is to be the only judge. He must deal with Italy as one power with another. Any attempted settlement made by Italy alone is destined to failure.

It became evident that Vatican circles believed that the first arrangement the negotiators had looked forward to was insufficient. As a sign of the sovereign pontiff’s absolute independence, it was necessary that he should be given a sphere of sovereign administration, even if it were only a few settlements round about the Monte Mario and the Monte Vaticano. It was necessary that the people in and about the palaces should be considered legal subjects of the State of the Church, and it was in this way that Mussolini understood the situation. On October 21, 1927, his newspaper, the Foglio d’Ordini, which is a kind of official gazette of Fascism, contained the following passage: ‘It seemed legitimate to deduce from the content of the articles in the Osservatore Romano that the effective political and legal independence of the Holy See demanded a certain reëstablishment of temporal power. It is out of the question for Fascist Italy to reestablish, even in a very reduced degree, the temporal power that ended in 1870, as a result of which the moral prestige of the Roman Church has, in our opinion, gained an immeasurable advantage.’

For some months negotiations ceased, and a certain bitterness remained on both sides.

The spokesmen of the Holy See had been very prudent. Only in ultrasecret conversations did they run the risk of advancing the doctrine of the reconstitution of the State of the Church with temporal power over a few square kilometres. Never was this doctrine expressly stated in the Osservatore Romano. Although both sides lived on misunderstandings, highly encouraging remarks by Mussolini were reported at the Vatican, which remained fundamentally very hopeful.

Yet it all turned out to be another deception. The Cardinal Secretary of State, in conformity with his usual temperament, did not hesitate to give his visitors to understand that the Holy See was painfully surprised by their unexpectedly intransigent attitude. Though he never asked them their secret, he indulged in a few displays to show that he was still master in the Church, as, for example, when he issued an order to the Italian prelates enjoining them to preserve strict neutrality and to abstain from either supporting or combating Fascism. To a régime that lives on the maxim, ‘He who is not with me is against me,’ nothing is more insupportable than the word ‘neutrality.’


For months there has been one field of activity where the two powers were bound to come to grips some day— the young people’s athletic associations. There exist in Italy about a thousand groups of Catholic Scouts that form the first story in that edifice of unions known as the Italian Catholic Action. Mussolini, having lined up hundreds of thousands of adults in his national militia, began a system of recruiting adolescents into Fascist advance guards and enlisting children in groups of Balillas, which they would enter at the age of six. Fascist newspapers declared on several occasions that this duality could not continue. The Pope, for his part, took alternate attitudes of severity and indulgence.

Ever since November 22, 1925, the Congregation of the Holy Office had condemned in violent terms a book entitled Catechism for the Balillas and the Fascist Advance Guards, which it looked upon as ‘a sacrilegious parody of the Catholic catechism.’ However, this book had appeared with a preface containing the personal felicitations of Mussolini. The laws passed on April 3, 1926, and on January 9, 1927, established the work of the Balillas on a national foundation and gave them a kind of monopoly. Although the Pope had not been consulted, he showed tolerance, because at this time he hoped that the conversations on the various Roman questions might produce some substantial result. He decided that the Government ‘ had no intention of trespassing upon the divine prerogatives of the Holy Church.’ Because of this attitude, he succeeded in preventing the Catholic Scouts from being broken up except in cities of less than 20,000 inhabitants, and in order to make it easier for these little groups to join the Balillas the sovereign pontiff declared them autonomous, which gave them the opportunity to join forces with the local Fascist organizations.

At this point the Holy Father’s forbearance, the secret motives of which were not known, occasioned loud outbursts from similar groups in France, and the Action Française insistently demanded why the Pope, who refused chaplains to groups that asked for them, showed himself so accommodating to the Duce. Ever since the beginning of this year, when it became evident that the Vatican could not expect from Fascism any restoration of its temporal power, the Holy Father’s language has changed; at the very time when Cardinal Gasparri was trying to turn the priests and bishops away from militant Fascism, the Pope wrote in his own hand a famous discourse, regarding which he consulted nobody, and in which he pronounced before the Catholic Junta in Rome a veritable ‘Speech for the Crown,’ attacking the pretension of Fascism to monopolize the training of youth.

It is understood that this speech was solely addressed to the Catholic Centre — in other words, to that group of faithful Catholics who support Fascism, and who had held their meeting at the Capitol without asking for an audience at the Vatican. The pontiff’s words clearly showed what self-control he had been forced to practise during the last three years, and how bitterly disappointed he was in the final failure of all negotiations.

In the light of what I have written, my readers will unquestionably understand the reasons for his attitude. If the fiction of an alliance between the Catholic Church and the Fascist State has been maintained for a number of years, it is because the Pope, who certainly had the settlement of the eternal Roman question in mind, employed temporizing methods. He accepted the advantages of the new régime, even though he saw growing evidences of a system of authority that would sooner or later deny his own prestige. He put up with many vexations and at moments showed a great conciliatory spirit, but for some weeks now he has no longer been in this frame of mind. It all proves that he has momentarily renounced the idea of obtaining at the hands of Fascism the supreme fulfillment of the policy of the Holy See during the last fifty-five years — that is to say, the reëstablishment of a State of the Church.

This does not mean that the conflict will assume violent form. The law suppressing Catholic Scouts will be applied with moderation. It has already been announced that Mussolini, while incorporating these bodies into Fascist organizations, will raise them to the rank of autonomous sections of Balillas under the direction of ecclesiastical authorities, and that he will also give chaplains to the smallest groups of Fascist youths. The Holy See will certainly prefer this misbegotten solution to the complete disappearance of Catholic Scouts; but these are only temporizing methods that ill conceal the resentment that the Holy Father and his chief counselor still nourish against the Dictator. Fascist propaganda, supported by absolute authority, is so ambitious that it will never allow even a spiritual power to exist by its side.

Italy is not the only place where the Holy See is engaged in waging war on Fascism. We must also watch what is going on in Germany, France, and other countries, especially Austria, to understand the instruments at its disposal. When any international affair turns out badly for the Italian Dictator, the political observer who studies the situation at close range will very frequently see that the innumerable agents of the Catholic Church and its hundreds of millions of obedient followers have made their discreet contribution to such a setback.