Setting the Record Straight

The Calumny Against Pope Pius IX

His Holiness, Pope Pius IX

His Holiness, Pope Pius IX (1846-1878)

Now that the Novus Ordo “cardinals” have chosen Mr. Jorge Bergoglio to be their “Pope Francis”, a lot of good-willed Traditionalists in the Vatican II Church are getting a bit nervous, judging from Bergoglio’s prior record as “Archbishop” of Buenos Aires and the first few days of his “pontificate”, which are clearly heralding a return to the days of Paul VI, to put it mildly.

Faced with these undesirable realities, a number of people who had been fooled into believing that with Benedict XVI a sort of “restoration of the Church” had begun — the precise illusion we had warned against shortly after Ratzinger’s election — are now spreading the idea that having to deal with a man like Bergoglio at the helm is really nothing new in the Church, because, allegedly, other Popes in the Church’s history weren’t much better before their election. Within this context, in various internet forums, Pope Pius IX (Giovanni Maria Mastai-Ferretti), who served the longest pontificate in Church history with the exception of St. Peter himself, is being maligned as having been a “liberal” or even a “Freemason” (!).

In order to keep this terrible misinformation from spreading, and to set the record straight, we are providing the following important resources:

The charge that Pius IX was a “liberal” is now being thrown around rather loosely, without much context or clarification. Apparently it helps some Neo-Trads to pacify their consciences about the apostate Bergoglio they now have to deal with. Not being able to deny the horrible facts about Bergoglio-Francis, they simply resort to historical falsehoods or half-truths to keep a semblance of credibility.

Today’s average reader, when hearing that Pope Pius was a “liberal”, will immediately conclude that Cardinal Mastai-Ferretti was a Modernist, a sort of “Cardinal” Mahony of the 19th century, no different from those who today deny Christ by praying with Jews in synagogues or with Muslims in mosques. Yet, nothing could be further from the truth.

What, then, earned Pope Pius IX the label of “liberal”, and what was meant by it?

  • “In 1831 when 4000 Italian revolutionists fled before the Austrian army and threatened to throw themselves upon Spoleto, the archbishop [Mastai-Ferretti] persuaded them to lay down their arms and disband, induced the Austrian commander to pardon them for their treason, and gave them sufficient money to reach their homes…. His great charity and amiability had made him beloved by the people, while his friendship with some of the revolutionists had gained for him the name of liberal.” (Catholic Encyclopedia, s.v. “Pope Pius IX”)
  • “[There were] three different currents of thought. 1) The ‘Austrian’ party, which favored the extension of Austrian rule over all the Legations. 2) The ‘papal’ or ‘sanfedist’ party (which defended the pope and the ‘holy faith’), which not only sought to preserve the pope’s temporal authority in these territories, but also favored the domination of the clergy in social and political areas. 3) The ‘liberal’ party, which wanted to see the end of the pope’s temporal power or, at least, wide reforms in all areas. At that time the term ‘liberal’ included a great diversity of political doctrines and programs…. Msgr. Mastai did not support any of these three parties, in spite of what has been said by some of his contemporaries who, when he was elected to the Sovereign Pontificate, presented him as a ‘liberal.’ Some months after he arrived in Imola, in a letter to his friend and neighbor Cardinal Falconieri, Archbishop of Ravenna, he gave a very description of his ‘golden mean’ approach: ‘I detest and abominate, in the very marrow of my bones, the liberals’ ideas and actions; but I have no sympathy, either, for the fanaticism of the so-called ‘papalist’ party. The golden mean, the Christian golden mean — and not the diabolical golden mean which is fashionable today — is the path I would like to follow, with the Lord’s help. But shall I succeed in this?’ [Letter of June 3, 1833]”. (Yves Chiron, Pope Pius IX: The Man and the Myth [Kansas City, MO: Angelus Press, 2005], pp. 58-59)
  • “As a good administrator he was at pains to show no partisan preference for any of the factions which were striving to influence public opinion in Imola [his diocese]. He had regular meetings with Imola’s ecclesiastics and prominent citizens to study ‘the best ways of promoting the city’s material well-being.’ It was in circumstances such as these that he was led to make the acquaintance of liberals, notably Count Pasolini…. [The] attempt to find the ‘Christian golden mean’ led, in the summer of 1834, to his being accused of liberalism… During the summer Msgr. Mastai wrote several letters to Cardinal Polidori and Cardinal Bernetti refuting these accusations [of liberalism]. The letters are very frank and straightforward, showing that, faced with lies and errors (from whatever quarter), Msgr. Mastai would not compromise…. While the accusation of ‘liberalism’ pursued Msgr. Mastai for a long time, even up to the first years of his pontificate, the progress of his career shows that [Pope] Gregory XVI never attached any credence to it.” (Yves Chiron, Pope Pius IX: The Man and the Myth [Kansas City, MO: Angelus Press, 2005], pp. 65-66)

Related: Resources on Catholicism, Freemasonry & the Novus Ordo Church