ABYSSINIA CONQUEST RECOGNISED Will There be a NonItalian Pope?
From Our Vatican Correspondent
Papal recognition of the Italian conquest of Abyssinia was given when the Golden Rose was presented to the Queen of Italy accompanied by documents officially addressed to the Queen Empress.
Many will regret this final decision which they will interpret as the recognition by the Church of a brutal act of aggression. But the Vatican has found itself in a difficult situation. As a fact the conquest is complete and, had the Vatican continued to ignore it, much prejudice to the Church might have resulted.
Actually the method of recognition is an instance of the diplomatic cleverness of the Vatican. It has been done in the way which will draw the least attention. Doubtless the Queen of Italy is a deserving woman, but one wonders whether the presentation of this decoration was not chosen precisely in order to avoid a more official declaration.
What are the prejudices which the Church would have been likely to suffer, had the recognition been further delayed? On this point an article from the Zuercher Zeitung is most important. in it the policy of the Vatican is analysed. Its main line. it says, is to maintain the independence of the Vatican in order to defend the independence of the Church.
Anchoring the Lateran Treaty The Vatican, realising the present somewhat precarious state of friendship on the part of Fascism, is making certain tactical advances to it in order to anchor in history the Treaty of the Lateran and thus to draw itself away in time from all Italian influence.
It is suggested that to complete this policy a non-Italian Pope will in the comparatively near future be elected.' The Zuercher Zeitung goes so far as to suggest that the college of cardinals will be replaced by a wider grouping of world clergy. It is at least a fact that the custom ordaining the election of an Italian Pope dates only from the sixteenth century and does not now correspond to the actual realities and demands. But it cannot be denied that the change which would deprive Italians of their privilege would entail serious risks, especially with a nationalist regime.
Thus the Zuercher Zeitung believes that it is still the hope of the Vatican that another Pope should be Italian, but that after him a foreign cardinal would be elected.
If this is true we are in a state of transition. This fact is instinctively felt by many people in Rome and it is interesting to note that the general view here is that the first non-Italian Pope will be an Anglo-Saxon. (Is it because the Anglo-Saxon clergy has shown itself to he more advanced in social matters?)
One might be more radical than the Vatican and say: Why wait so long? Why not a non-Italian Pope in order to answer the reproach that the Church is linked with a nationalist regime?
I have asked Italians what they think about this. When I asked a Neapolitan Jesuit priest: " Well, what would you think of a non-Italian Pope?" he looked at me to see if I were serious and thoughtfully said : " Even so we'd still remain Catholics!"
It is easy to criticise such a prejudiced point of view, but it is impossible to deny its existence and strength. And if a Catholic priest finds it hard to think of a non-Italian Pope, what about a Fascist, a Mussolini?