Pius IX

   Pius was born Giovanni Maria Mastai-Ferretti. He was consecrated Archbishop of Spoleto in 1827, Bishop of Imola in 1832 and he was appointed a Cardinal in 1840. In 1846, in succession to Gregory XVI, and as a reputed liberal, he was elected Pope. Initially he seemed true to his liberal ideals and he released all political prisoners. However, in 1848 he was forced to flee from Rome in the face of revolution. He was restored by the French, who continued to occupy the Papal States until 1870. In effect the temporal power of the Papacy was over. King Victor Emmanuel of Italy took possession of Rome in 1870 and, under the Law of Guarantees, only the Vatican and the Lateran palace remained in the Pope’s possession. These experiences turned Pius away from liberalism once and for all. He issued a series of encyclicals against rationalism, democratisation and anti-clericalism. In addition, he encouraged the ultramontane party. He de- fined the doctrine of the Immaculate Conception of the Blessed Virgin mary, and issued the Syllabus of Errors. He imposed a new diocesan structure on the Netherlands and England and he established many new dioceses throughout the Roman Catholic world. Then, in 1869, he called the First Vatican Council which formally declared the doctrine of papal infallibility. It was not unanimous; the Old Catholics broke away and the new dogma gave rise to the Kulturkampf movement in Germany. None the less, despite opposition and the loss of temporal power, Pius IX succeeded in placing the Papacy on the highest possible spiritual plane. He was the longest serving of all the Popes and he is particularly remembered for his famous reply to one dissident critic: ‘Tradition? I am tradition’.
   C. Butler, The Vatican Council (1962);
   A.B. Hasler, Pius IX 184678, 2 vols (1977) [no English translation available];
   E.E.Y. Hales, Pope Pius IX (1954);
   H. Küng, Infallible? An Enquiry (1971).

Who’s Who in Christianity . 2014.

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