Question romaine

Article

May 20, 2022

The Roman question is a political controversy relating to the status of Rome, seat of the temporal power of the pope but also capital of the kingdom of Italy. The conflict, which began in 1870, only ended in 1929 with the Lateran Accords.

The New Kingdom of Italy

Following a vibrant speech during the session of March 25, 1861 in the Italian parliament, Cavour declared that Rome must be the capital necessary for the kingdom of Italy: he recalled the profound historical reasons for this decision and affirmed that the restitution of Rome to Italy and the end of the temporal power of the Church will not cause any diminution of the authority of the popes and the autonomy of their spiritual magisterium, and that on the contrary, the papacy will derive greater moral prestige from it . Rome is protected by Napoleon III who is, at the same time, the main ally and protector of the new kingdom of Italy. By the convention of September, signed in 1864, the Italian government guaranteed the autonomy of the Papal States and had the capital transferred from Turin to Florence, which would retain this status from 1865 to 1871. Garibaldi, for his part, carried out military action aimed at the conquest of Rome and ends with the day of Aspromonte and the battle of Mentana between the Franco-pontifical and Garibaldian troops (November 3, 1867). However, the Roman question is not limited to the single problem of the territorial annexation of Rome; it also refers to differences between the Roman Catholic Church and the Kingdom of Italy, in particular, from 1849, due to the permanent opposition of Pope Pius IX to the Risorgimento. Papal intransigence in asserting the autonomy and independence of the Papal States has harsh consequences: In Italy, three negative consequences for Catholicism: first, a strong increase in anticlericalism, then the lack of representation of Catholics in national political life due to the order given to Catholics not to take part in elections, implying the necessary secularization of the institutions of the Kingdom of Italy; then, Italy is divided in two for thirty years, and finally, everything that happens outside the confessional field appears as attributable to the policy of Pius IX against the unicist will of the Italians. Abroad, the whole life of the Church in the 19th century was conditioned by the Roman question and the need to guarantee full freedom to the pope, which prevailed over all other problems.

The annexation of Rome

In 1870, a few weeks after the fall of Napoleon III, following the battle of Sedan, the Italian army, made up of 50,000 men, led by Raffaele Cadorna entered Rome through the Pia gate. On September 20, Rome capitulated and the Kingdom of Italy proceeded with the annexation of what remained of the Papal States, that is to say the region of Latium. Pope Pius IX is forced to take refuge in the Vatican and then considers himself a prisoner. By law no. 33 of February 3, 1871, the “Eternal City” officially became the capital of the new Italian state of Victor Emmanuel II, King of Sardinia, replacing the city of Florence.

The Law of Warranties

In 1871, the Italian Parliament voted a "Law of Guarantees" so named because it was intended to guarantee the prerogatives of the pope, but also to establish the statute of the Vatican and to regulate relations between it and the State. Italian. The law offers the pope a territory in full ownership, consisting of sanctuaries, palaces and convents, but only for residential purposes. Are also offered a free zone in Ostia, and the sum of two billion lire as compensation (this sum will be invested by the Italian State and transferred by Mussolini to Pius XI in 1929, with considerable interest). By this law, Pope Pius IX becomes a subject of the Italian State