4 August 1903 — 10 August 1914
In June, 1951,
Pope Pius XII beatified Pope Pius X and on May 29, 1954 he canonized
him. He was the first pope to be canonized since the deadly wound was
inflicted. Pius V sat on the Papal Throne for only six years, 1566—1572.
Pope Clement X beatified him upon the centenary of his death in 1672 and
Pope Clement XI canonized him in 1712. Thirty-one popes served in the
Vatican between 1572 when Pius V died and 1903 when Pius X was elected.
None had been canonized and only one, Innocent XI (1676—1689) had been
beatified. Thus canonization of popes became a rarity. Perhaps this was
a recognition of the scarcity of saintliness amongst those chosen to be
the Supreme Pontiff.
But Pius V was no saint despite that recognition by
the Roman Catholic Church. He was a Dominican. It must not be overlooked
that the Dominicans were the perpetrators of the Inquisition. We turn
once more to Joseph S. Brusher, a Jesuit apologist for the Papacy, in
order to discover the qualities present in Pius V to qualify him for
sainthood. "He served his order in several high offices and the Church
as an inquisitor." (Popes Through the Ages, p. 450) "A former
grand inquisitor, Pius dealt harshly with heretics." (Ibid.)
"Queen Elizabeth [I of England] he excommunicated in 1570." (Ibid.)
He carried out "the reforms of [the Council of] Trent." (Ibid.)
"He published the catechism of the Council of Trent, and an improved
edition of the missal and breviary." (Ibid.)
The Encyclopaedia Britannica (1963 edition,
Vol. 17, page 217), in placing him under the Counter-Reformation Papacy
and one who led the vigorous fight against Protestantism, records that
Pius V was a "former inquisitor of great severity." With such a
curriculum vitae, let us judge whether he fitted the heavenly
criteria of sainthood. He spent much of his Papacy coordinating a
crusade against the Ottoman Empire which had seized Cyprus from Venetian
control. When his fleet was successful in 1571 he attributed the success
to the intervention of Mary and in this mistaken thought instituted the
Feast of Our Lady of Victory.
That such men were canonized certainly calls into
question the process of canonization and devalues its recipients. This
decline should be kept in mind when the beatification of Pius XII by
John Paul II in 2000 is considered.
Cardinal Giuseppe Melchiorre Sarto, despite having
been told by Leo XIII that he would be the next pope, was elected only
because of yet another interference by the Austro-Hungarian Empire.
Cardinal Moriano Rampolla del Tindaro, the Vatican Secretary of State,
received the required two-thirds plus one vote. But the Archbishop of
Krakow (later the See of John Paul II), Cardinal Jan Puzyna "exercised
the veto power enjoyed at that moment by his imperial Master, Franz
Joseph of Austria." (Malachi Martin, The Keys of This Blood,
Simon and Schuster, 1990, p. 536) The emperor had learned that Cardinal
Rampolla was a secret member of the Masonic Lodge.
The Vatican, curiously, in view of the present Polish
pope, went to some lengths to conceal the fact that Pius X’s father was
Polish. The Austrian Empire felt that after "the Congress of Vienna
nothing as good as a Pope could come out of Poland." (Ibid.) Pius
X’s father’s surname was Krawiec. When he fled to Italy he altered it to
Sarto. Both surnames in their respective languages mean tailor. So it
was an appropriate alteration.
Perhaps the greatest achievement of Pius X’s reign
was the setting in motion of the systematization of canon law which was
not completed until 1917, three years after his death. However, this
reorganization did not in any way lead to a reduction of centralized
control from the Vatican, rather it established it on a firmer basis.
The young Eugenio Pacelli, later Pius XII, following in his family
tradition of Vatican lawyers, played a significant role in this
Pius X firmly rejected the French modernist ideas
which seethed in the Paris Institut Catholique. Their views swept
through both France and Italy. They made an attempt to accommodate
modern trends and democracy with Roman Catholic teaching. This Pius
would not abide. He instituted a form of secret mind police to counter
the wave of modernism. Incredibly Cardinal Pietro Gasparri, of the
Lateran Treaty fame, wrote quite negatively of Pius’ course in dealing
with the issue of modernism.
Chadwick in his History of the Popes, p. 55,
quoted Gasparri as expressing his opinion that Pius X—
approved, blessed, and encouraged a secret
espionage association outside and above the hierarchy, which spied on
members of the hierarchy itself, even on their eminences the
cardinals; in short, he approved, blessed and encouraged a sort of
Freemasonry in the Church, something unheard of in ecclesiastical
Cardinal Gasparri had written this opinion in his
submission on the proposed canonization of Pius X. It clearly did not
serve to dissuade those promoting Pius’ cause.
John Cornwell quotes Daly, Transendence and
Immanence, as recording that so intense was Pius’ opposition to
modernism that he claimed that it constituted—
not a heresy but the compendium and poison of all
heresies. (Oxford 1980, p. 51)
And in a real sense Pius had valid ground for his
concerns, for the modernists of France claimed that "The Christ shown by
history is much inferior to the Christ who is the object of Faith." In
his decree Lamentabeli (Lamentable) Pius included this view in
the sixty-five modernist pronouncements he condemned. The decree was
issued July 3, 1907.
But Pius, in his attempt to silence the modernists,
not only instituted a system of secret agents among his own clergy and
ecclesiastical professors, but centralized church administration. So
severe was this move that Cornwell reports that the famous quotation by
the eighteenth century Roman Catholic Saint, Alfonso de Liguori—"The
Pope’s will: God’s will"—found a new currency in the first decade of the
twentieth century. This central control continues, having been loosened
only during the short Pontificate of Pope John XXIII.
On September 1, 1910, Pius issued a directive
demanding that all ordinands and priests in positions of teaching and
administration swear an oath denouncing modernism. This oath, a little
modified, is still a current obligation. But it does not pass without
opposition. In 1997 the Roman Catholic priest, Paul Collins, in his book
Papal Power published in London stated,
There was no possibility of any form of dissent,
even interior. The conscience of the person taking the oath was forced
to accept not only what Rome proposed, but even the sense in which
Rome interpreted it. Not only was this contrary to the traditional
Catholic understanding of the role of conscience, but it was a form of
thought control that was unrivaled even under fascist and communist
These are tough words, plainly spoken, but they do
illustrate the Roman Catholic hierarchy’s desire to control our
Yet when Pius XII canonized his predecessor in 1954,
he lavishly described Pius X as a "glowing flame of charity and shining
splendour of sanctity." (H. Dal-Gal, Pius X, Dublin, 1953, p.
234) That surely was a case of marked hyperbole.
The canon law which Pietro Gasparri and Eugenio
Pacelli, at the behest of Pius X, set about to codify, had been set out
in chronological order rather than in topical groups. But Pius went
beyond this reorganization to strengthen central control of the Papacy.
For instance Canon 218 states that the pope is—
the supreme and most complete jurisdiction
throughout the church both in matters of faith and morals and in those
that affect discipline and church government throughout the world. (Codex
Juris Canonici, Rome 1917)
Canon 1323 states,
All truths must be believed fide divina et
Catholica, which are contained in the written word of God or in
tradition and which the Church proposes for acceptance as revealed by
God, either by solemn definition or through the ordinary and universal
Pius had set the stage for his grandiose view of
papal power, not only in matters spiritual but also political, when
shortly after assuming the Papal role he stated on November 9, 1903,
We shall offend many people by saying We must of
necessity concern ourselves with politics. But whoever judges the
question fairly must recognize that the Sovereign Pontiff, invested by
God with the Supreme Magistracy, has not the right to separate
political matters from the domain of faith and morals. (Cited by Peter
de Rosa, Vicars of Christ, p. 195)
Clearly the Papacy was demanding once more the right
of absolute arbitration over that which is believed and practiced in
both the spiritual and political realms. Such a philosophy was required
and must be generally accepted if the deadly wound was to be completely
healed. Pius X in his eleven-year pontificate contributed no little
effort to that healing.
Pius had taken the apostle Paul’s motto as his
own—"to restore all things in Christ." That he did play his part in
restoring Papal spiritual and political authority cannot be doubted. But
the fact that under his pontificate Pius X ensured that "neo Thomism
[the theology of Thomas Aquinas] would acquire an orthodoxy tantamount
to dogma" (John Cornwell, Hitler’s Pope, p. 22), was a portent of
a move in the last days towards the mentality of the Inquisition, for
Aquinas’ theology dominated the thinking of the Dominicans who zealously
and cruelly implemented that fearful, Christless policy.
Pius left a legacy of centralism which continues to
serve Rome well today.