Pope Pius IX
- Category : Religion-Popes
- Type : GP
- Profile : 5/1 - Heretical / Investigator
- Definition : Split - Small (1,31)
- Incarnation Cross : LAX Dedication 1
Italian ecclesiastic and Pope of the Roman Catholic Church, elected 6/16/1846. With an attractive personality, he was called, by some, the creator of the modern papacy. Not a well-informed theologian, he was nonetheless generous, devout and perceptive.
Pio Nono, as he was affectionately called, died 2/07/1878, 5:40 PM, Vatican City, Rome.
On 4/04/2000, a delegation of bishops and monsignors officiated at the opening of his casket. The body was "almost perfectly preserved." The incorruptibility of the flesh is one of the requisites for sainthood and Pio Nono's beatification was assured for 9/10/2000. His "heroic virtue" includes the additional prerequisite, a miracle in the healing of a nun's broken kneecap after praying for his intercession. The next step will be canonization, or sainthood.
Pio Nono's sanctity is not without critics as some historians think that his narrowness crippled his church. He was a reactionary who saw the secular state and even civil rights as satanic manifestations. The longest-serving Pope since St. Peter, he reigned 32 years and many feel that during a period of emergence of modernism, he held the church back with outworn traditions.
The ninth child of a minor count, Giovanni Mastai-Ferretti applied as a youth to join the Pope's Noble guards but was rejected because of his epilepsy. He was ordained to the priesthood in 1819 and by 1827, was Archbishop of Soleto. The church hierarchy involved complicated politics; at that time in history, the old order of divinely sanctioned kingdoms was battling models of popular sovereignty and citizenship inspired by the Enlightenment, the French Revolution and the burgeoning presence of the United States. The Pope had to juggle the traditions of the church and the concept that people who thought for themselves were heretical with the emergence of increasing economic and academic opportunities.
Perhaps the greatest single focus of criticism of Pius IX came from the taking of a Jewish six-year-old boy and raising him as Catholic, an incident that has been well-reviewed in historian David Kertzer's book, "The Kidnapping of Edgardo Mortara." The child's abduction by the papal police became an international scandal that refused to fade away, and in 1870 he was quoted as calling the Jews "dogs, howling in the streets."
On the other hand, Pius was accessible and sincere, a truly pious man. He was also excitable, oversensitive and at times, a bully, complex as people usually are. He had no tolerance for unbelievers or those who refused to accept church doctrine, placing good Catholics at odds with much of the world. His most faithful stand was the doctrine of papal infallibility. The final step of canonization is not yet a clear road for Pius IX.