No. 245.
Mr. Bancroft to Mr. Fish.

No. 532.]

Sir: I annex to this letter an authentic copy, in its original Italian, of the letter of the Pope to the Emperor William, of August 7, of this year. The effect of the correspondence has been only to increase the popularity and European reputation of the Emperor, and to depress the influence of the clerical party, thus confirming the accounts which I have always given you that the ultramontane political influence can never become vitally dangerous in this empire. The Catholic clergy are obviously beginning to regret having commenced with the state a contest in which it is not possible for them to gain the advantage. The intelligent Catholics themselves, for the most part, support the government, and so have received from the ultramontanes the nick name of State Catholics. This controversy has nothing new about it, unless it be that the Emperor, whom the Pope arraigns, is a Protestant. I need not remind you that in the last century Charles III, King of Spain, made this very question the test in his selection of his ministers, and the Spanish language has a word to designate it, Regalismo, the authority of the state, as opposed to papal interference. The matter was pushed so far at that time, that the King of Spain, aided by the courts of France and Portugal, obtained the total abolition of the order of Jesuits, as it was supposed, forever. I interpret the assumption in our age of a power which was given up by the Roman See a hundred years ago as evidence of a consciousness of the decline of papal authority, and as a desperate attempt to recover it. The attitude of the Emperor William is not only approved by many of the most enlightened Catholics in his own dominions, but also by the majority of the influential Catholics in Austria. Two and a half centuries ago the house of Austria, possessed of the crown of the Holy Empire, was very near extirpating from Germany the Protestant faith. And now the descendant of the principal Protestant prince of that day has obtained not the crown of the old Holy Roman Empire, as it was called, but of the German Empire, and is welcomed at Vienna by the Austro-Hungarian Emperor, with the most marked manifestations of friendship, among them the honorary command of a regiment in the Austro-Hungarian army.

The general result of all is, that Europe, alike Catholic and Protestant, is sick of the boundless pretensions of the Roman See, and is seeking how to avoid papal influence on the external and internal political relations of the state.

The special results for the moment in Germany are a confirmation of opposition to those pretensions, which will manifest itself in the elections for the next legislature of Prussia and in the approaching elections for the German Diet. In foreign affairs the result is a union of the eastern powers in favor of peace; that is to say, in favor of leaving the unity of Italy undisturbed, so that the temporal power of the Pope is as likely to be restored as that of the King of Naples.

I am, &c.,


The Pope to the German Emperor.

Your Majesty: All the measures which have been taken for some time by the government of Your Majesty look more and more to the destruction of Catholicism. When [Page 432] I reflect upon the causes which may have given rise to these most harsh measures, I confess that I can see none at all. I am told that Your Majesty does not approve the conduct of your government or the severity of the steps taken against the Catholic religion. If, however, Your Majesty does not approve, and the letters which you have heretofore written sufficiently show that you cannot approve all that is now being done; if Your Majesty, I say, does not approve this, how is it that your government continues in the path which it has entered, constantly increasing the rigor of its measures against the religion of Jesus Christ, which, while they do so much harm to that religion, are only undermining Your Majesty’s throne, as you may rest assured? I speak with frankness, because truth is my banner, and I speak in order to do my whole duty, which obliges me to tell the whole truth, even to those who are not Catholics, inasmuch as whoever is baptized belongs in some measure, and in a manner which this is not the proper place to explain, to the Pope. I feel convinced that Your Majesty will receive these my reflections with your usual courtesy, and will take such steps as the case requires, while, with all regard, I pray God to unite you with me through the bonds of charity.