Gregory XVI

Pope from 1831. Born Bartolomeo Alberto Cappellari, he devoted his reign to the consolidation of the papacy as the locus of authority in the church and as definer of religious principles for society. The Revolution of 1831 at Rome faced him immediately with revolutionary principles; he called in Austrian troops to put it down. He determined to implement the ideas he published earlier in Il trionfo della Sante Sede e della Chiesa (1799), which claimed that the church was divinely ordained with an independent and unchanging constitution with the pope the infallible head; the Papal States* were an unchanging patrimony to ensure spiritual independence from all states. Gregory’s two secretaries of state, Cardinals Bernetti and Lambruschini, helped him hold his own, with help from Austrian troops, against intervention by the powers of revolution. The holocaust only broke in 1848 under Pius IX.* In numerous encyclicals he tried to pinpoint the religious errors animating movements against, or at least unsympathetic with, his own religious-cultural ideal. Mirari vos (1832) and Singular nos (1834) were his most significant, occasioned by the troubles in the Papal States and the writings of Lamennais.* He condemned revolution, liberalism, traditionalism, and separation of church and state, and mandated support of the “alliance between Throne and Altar,” and his Temporal Power. In promotion of the Catholic Church he stimulated enormous missionary activity worldwide, especially in Asia and Latin America. He named nearly 200 missionary bishops, as he managed to centralize Catholic missions directly under the papacy. Before election as pope he became a monk (1783), procurator-general (1807) and vicar general (1823) of the Camaldolese Order, prefect of the Propaganda Fide (1826), and cardinal (1826).

See J. Leflon, La crise revolutionnaire, 1789-1846 (1949), and E.E.Y. Hales, Revolution and Papacy, 1769-1846 (1966).C.T. Mc Intire