HIGH STREET, | TRINITY STREET,
Oxford | Cambridge.
My dear Bishop,
You suggest that British and American friends will be glad to know precisely what work the "Anglo-American Committee for aiding Church Reformation in Italy" aims at doing. I shall best meet your kind suggestion, I think, by briefly detailing what is already doing, so far as I know, for this special purpose. These few details I will arrange under the heads of the Thbeb Objects specified in the statement of the Committee; noting, as I go along, such cases as I happen to know are in need of assistance.
Object I. Dissemination of the Holy Scriptures and other Information. Under this head comes,--
(1) In Milan, a very useful depot--the "Libreria Anglo-Italiana" (Via Pattari, No. 2)--established by our late respected Chaplain in Milan, Rev. J. Williams, and carried on by him, under considerable difficulties, during the last few years.
From this depôt, with which colporteurs are in connexion, have been issued several thousand copies of the Holy Scriptures, with many portions of the same. Also, a large number of the Italian Version of the Book of Common Prayer, with many portions of the same, such as the Litany. The rest of the stock is composed of works selected by Mr. Williams, both from native Italian sources--such as Dr. De Sanctis' [3/4] popular writings--and also from the lists of the Society for Promoting Christian Knowledge, Anglo-Continental Association, and the Religious Tract Society. Upwards of 60,000 copies of small books and tracts have thus been issued; also, many English periodicals of good moral and religious tone have been supplied to Milanese families of the higher classes, who have shown a marked desire for such English reading, of which they find very few specimens in their own literature. Mr. Williams still kindly watches over the work of this depôt. During the past year, it has mainly been supported by the Italian Church Reformation Fund. I know that help for the effective continuance and extension of this useful work will be well bestowed.
(2) Count Tasca, of Seriate, near Bergamo, whose name is familiar to all interested in promoting Church Reformation in Italy, has for several years past been doing excellent service, both personally and through colporteurs and other helpers, in spreading the Holy Scriptures, with a considerable number of Prayer Books and several thousand copies of the Litany and other portions of our Liturgy and other works for aiding Reformation, in connexion with the Anglo-Continental Association and the Society for Promoting Christian Knowledge. Many interesting facts showing the good results of Count Tasca's efforts are recorded in his Reports to the Anglo-Continental Association. Let me mention one, that he told me the last time I had the pleasure of seeing him. A copy of the Bible given by him, a few years ago, to Signor Andrea Moretti, then Deputy (for Bergamo) in the Italian Parliament, appears, under God's blessing, to have produced such a thorough change in Signor Moretti's views as' to have led to his writing two of the most remarkable recent Italian pamphlets--"The Word of God and the Modern Pharisees," and, as a sequel to it, "The Grand Error of the Modern Pharisees" (Bergamo, 1864 and 1866). No one, on reading these, books, can fail to be struck with the unusual knowledge of Scripture, and power of forcibly applying it, shown by an Italian gentleman who, as he told Count Tasca himself, had not read the Bible until the Count gave him [4/5] this copy, not more than five years ago. Also, when Renan's Life of Jesus was spreading like wildfire through Italy, Count Tasca was asked for not less than twenty-four or twenty-five Bibles, by relatives and friends of his own, in order to compare the Gospels with Renan's work; and he had cause to be thankful for the manifest impression made by the Gospels in several instances. Some said, "You know we were good Catholics, but never thought it needful to have a Bible before. Now we find it so different a Book from what we were aware, so deeply interesting, that we don't intend to do without it again." Last summer, during the war, Count Tasca repeated an experiment he had made, with very happy success, during the Italian war of 1859--viz., he published a very small selection of prayers and Scripture readings for soldiers. This selection, with the exception of a few words of preface by the Count himself, is entirely taken from our own Book of Common Prayer--collects, versicles, prayers for time of battle, for sick and wounded, with a few Psalms and short comforting portions from the Gospels and other parts of Holy Scripture; also six hymns translated and adapted by the Count. This little book appears to have been heartily appreciated by the soldiers, and Count Tasca has received many encouraging testimonies in its favour from persons engaged in the hospitals. Both the Italian Church Reformation Fund and Anglo-Continental Association have gladly helped him to spread it. One generous lady recently enabled him to strike off a third edition, which has now reached 7000 copies. Still the Count writes urgently to me to get him further help for continued wider distribution. He says, "The types are kept standing in hope some friendly help may come in. I am anxious to strike off several thousands more. Gradually, as I strike off a number, I send them to commanders of corps or other officers, friends of mine, who charge themselves with their distribution amongst the soldiers. It is a true consolation for me, to see how this little book is faithfully kept by many soldiers, who, on returning to their homes on furlough on their way through Seriate, appear before me (as a magistrate) to sign their way-paper. In this manner, the little book [5/6] will benefit not only the soldiers but also the families into whose bosom they return." Again he writes, "Our excellent friend, the British Chaplain at Genoa, applies to me for a fresh supply on behalf of a good Scripture Header who is partly employed amongst Italian soldiers and sailors, amongst whom he finds this little book very acceptable." The Count adds, "Can't you get me some help from your worthy countrymen visiting Nice?"
Another valuable book Count Tasca has recently published, at the charge of the same generous lady, a member of the Anglo-Continental Association, is a selection of "Christian Hymns," 119 in number, comprising those in our Prayer Book for Morning and Evening, Christmas, Easter, and Holy Communion, with many of our most popular hymns--"Rock of Ages," &c, with some original ones written by the Count himself. The wide circulation of this book would, doubtless, prove a great boon to many poor members of the various recently-formed congregations in Italy, by whom a larger collection of hymns has for some time been desired. At the same time, it is very cheering to find how cordially such a work is also appreciated by Italian ecclesiastics desirous of Church Reformation. Thus, one distinguished dignitary recently wrote to the Count, "I return you many thanks for the collection of your 'Christian Hymns.' I have read them with great pleasure and admiration. They remind me of the hymns of S. Gregory Nazianzen. Holy thoughts taken from the Bible are therein excellently paraphrased, and those magnificent Oriental ideas lift the heart from earth to heaven. These hymns are very edifying. They will contribute well to regulate devotion in spirit and in truth, and will habituate the Christian to comprehend with the mind and accompany with the heart the prayers that with the mouth he utters to the Lord. I thank you also again for your golden and Biblical 'Soldiers' Prayers.'" Such is the testimony of a venerable ecclesiastic whose own learned and able works, advocating the free restoration of the Bible to the people and other points of Church Reformation, give him a claim to speak with no light weight.
 (3) In North Italy, also, two other well-educated Italians are partially engaged in furthering Reformation by personal intercourse and spread of books amongst priests and educated laymen. One of these gentlemen, Signor Gatti, has been connected with the Anglo-Continental Society for two years. The other recently began work in connexion with the Italian Church Reformation Fund. Signor Gatti, in his last Report, says, "I should never end if I undertook to give the names of all the persons, priests and laymen, who are convinced of the necessity of religious Reformation, and are yearning for it."
(4) In Turin we have lately lost a very valuable helper, Signor Paolo Pifferi, who died a few months ago. For several years Signor Pifferi had done a quiet but effective work in connexion with the Society for Promoting Christian Knowledge and the Anglo-Continental Association. More than two years ago, he told me he had gradually distributed 400 copies of our Liturgy in Italian, and had reason to know that, in some cases, these were used privately and in family prayers. He also did excellent service as a translator. He edited, on account of the Anglo-Continental Society, "Ten Letters of Ecclesiastics to a Statesman," on various points of ecclesiastical and religious Reform. These have attracted considerable attention. The first three of them (of which the English version will be found at the close of Archdeacon Wordsworth's "Tour in Italy") were, with the sanction of the then President of the Senate, distributed to all the members of the Italian Parliament. Signor Pifferi's last work was the translation of the widely-esteemed "Expositions of the Epistles and Gospels for the Sundays and Festivals of the Church Year," by the Bishop of Gibraltar. Whilst engaged on this work, he wrote to me that he "found it true food for his own soul." The first volume has been published at the Bishop's charge by the Society for Promoting Christian Knowledge, the second is now also through the press. The good old man passed away very soon after this work was finished, but his influence is still felt. For some time, he had been in the habit of gathering a few of his countrymen in his own room on Sundays for a short service, consisting of a simple exposition of Scripture, with a few [7/8] of our prayers. Amongst his frequent attendants, during the last year of his life, were two or three priests. One of these was the well-known Parroco Cavaliere Mongini, whose bold stand against Rome's temporal claims led to the major excommunication being launched against him in the most solemn and direct manner that it is ever brought to bear. He remained unshaken, and appears to have been gradually led on to further and clearer ideas of the need of profound Reform in the Church. Both he and another well-known suspended priest, Don Ambrogio, to whom Pifferi had long been a true friend, attended his funeral, which was solemnized by our own Chaplain in Turin. Don Ambrogio also shortly addressed the Italians present. Mongini is just now anxious for help to enable him to publish and spread widely a letter he is addressing to the Bishop of Mantua, showing there can be no peace in Church or State until the Church is profoundly reformed. He is also desirous to publish a popular journal to promote Reformation. Don Ambrogio continues his bold and vigorous out-door preachings in the towns and country places of Piedmont. Thanks to the kind help of one generous friend, he has been enabled to persevere, despite incessant priestly efforts to put him down. The legal tribunals have, however, almost always decided in his favour. Another friend has enabled him to spread many hundred copies of the New Testament. He has also, on his own account, printed and distributed many thousand copies of his own "Dialogues," mainly directed against the corruptions and superstitions of Rome. He, too, asks help for the wider diffusion of these quaint but telling writings.
One of the most effective workers it has as yet pleased God to raise up in Italy is Miss Burton, whose name is well known, probably, to many of our friends. Miss Burton is gifted to a remarkable degree with that special power of influencing navvies and soldiers which has characterized Miss Nightingale and Miss Marsh at home. A very few facts, mainly drawn from a communication just received from her, will suffice to show the nature and extent of her work. "On the 1st of September, 1858," she writes, "I began to work amongst the [8/9] Italian navvies employed in making Swiss railways. On the 2nd of September, 1862, my Evangelist, Antonio Gazza, was drowned in the Lake of Geneva, the day the last railway was opened. We distributed (during those four years) amongst the navvies 5000 copies of the Scriptures, and 13,000 tracts, and taught vast numbers of them to read the Scriptures, also to write and cipher a little, besides daily reading of the Scriptures along the lines of railway. On the 1st of November, 1862, Barone Cagionini began to work for me as colporteur in Piedmont. . . . The Rev. J. Williams, late British Chaplain at Milan, always said that he considered Barone sold more books than any other colporteur in Italy. He has also sold a great many copies of the Prayer Book (Italian version), upon an average twelve per month." Some of these Prayer Books, Barone testifies, have been bought by men and boys engaged in the choirs of village churches. They have been delighted to find in their own tongue the Psalms, Epistles, and Gospels, which they had been accustomed to chant in Latin in the Church Services. They have taken the book to the Priest and asked if there was any thing "uncatholic" in it, and the Priest has handed it back saying "No," and then they have used it instead of the Latin. On one occasion. Miss Burton went, at Barone's request, to meet a number of her old friends, the navvies, at Domo &' Ossola, when several of them drew out from their pockets the Prayer Books they had diligently kept. On another occasion she was invited to be present at the wedding of three of the navvies, married to women of one of the Piedmontese Alpine valleys, the service being celebrated according to our rite by a Vaudois Pastor--the first Protestant marriages that had been celebrated in that valley. From the beginning of 1863, till November 1866, another agent, Angelo Castioni, was also employed by Miss Burton, chiefly amongst the soldiers, first at Perugia, afterwards, on the breaking out of the war, at Brescia, in the military hospitals. During his last year, the Italian Church Reformation Fund aided Miss Burton in supporting Castioni. During the war, also, Barone worked as a colporteur amongst the troops, and assisted Mr. and Mrs. Williams in extensive distribution of portions of the [9/10] Holy Scriptures, Count Tasca's Soldiers' Prayer Book, and many other books, during a singularly useful and interesting trip to the military hospitals and to Garibaldi's camp. Of this trip Mr. Williams writes (Anglo-Continental Report, 1866), "Having been thrown for just a month among a portion of the Italians who were supposed to be the personification, as a body, of all that is liberal, and so infidel, I mean the Volunteers, I found the usual request was for a book of "the English religion;" and if they were offered a New Testament of the Martini translation, it was refused, and a real Protestant one asked for instead. Many had heard of such books, and now desired to become possessed of them, desiring to know what it is the English believe; and so we had many opportunities of distributing our Liturgy in Italian, in whole or in part, and the "Ten Letters." Again, Mr. Williams writes, "What more blessed work can there be than to endeavour to cast light upon these struggles out of darkness and ignorance; to tell them where pure water may be found to quench their thirst, and to tell them of the Catholic Truth of God? 'O Signora, what a beautiful truly Catholic book that is you gave me!' It was the Gospel of St. John in Italian. 'So you are Catholics,' remarked a wounded Roman, pointing to our Liturgy with the Apostles' Creed. 'Certainly,' was the answer, 'but not Romanist.' 'Bravo! Signor Inglese, so am I too."' To Count Tasca Mr. W. writes, "I cannot describe properly the pleasure our religious books seem to have given to all grades of Volunteers that we have met; but the book that pleased most was your little book of Prayers and Hymns. Do, pray, send us some more immediately." This was the little Soldiers' Prayer Book above mentioned.
Again, in another letter to the Rev. F. Meyrick, Mr. Williams writes:--"I cannot find language expressive enough to make you understand the great willingness with which almost all the Garibaldini would discuss religious matters with us, and ask about our religion. I went among them so dressed that they could not fail to see I was a 'Prete Inglese,' and they themselves invited discussion; and while Mrs. Williams took an active part in the hospitals at the various points, my [10/11] 'wife' and celibacy of the clergy, &c, naturally became topics of our conversation. I cannot help feeling that it was an important opportunity to make oneself known among the Liberal party of Italy, who generally hate Priests, because they see creatures of Rome. We were careful to distribute books, but of a non-controversial character, New Testaments, and portions of the Bible (Gospels, &c), and our own Liturgy (not many, only when asked for), with little books for soldiers especially. And, though I say it, still I am thankful to feel that among the 40,000 Volunteers from all corners of Italy, some thousands can go home and tell of an English clergyman and his wife, and what they did, for the sick and wounded especially. I write thus, as I conceive the exceedingly courteous and hearty treatment we received from all ranks (Garibaldi included), is an answer to the oft-repeated fallacy of many, that the Italians would not listen to foreigners on religious matters."
But I must return from this digression to resume the thread of Miss Burton's work. From September, 1863, to the spring of 1866, she spent seven or eight months each season in Italy, chiefly in Florence, in personally working amongst the soldiers. On several occasions, I have been greatly struck on finding her surrounded by soldiers, quietly sitting round her table, reading a chapter of the Bible, verse about, and earnestly asking questions. Miss Burton never attacked Rome, never voluntarily entered on controversy; but when questions were put, frankly answered them by pointing out what the Bible said on the point. Occasionally, when asked about her own creed, she gave a Prayer Book. I have seen her room crowded with men of all arms of the service, literally from all provinces of Italy, going home on furlough, all come, not only to bid her good-bye and thank her for her kindness, but also to beg for books to take home for their friends as well as themselves; for fathers and mothers, brothers and sisters, had heard of "La Signora Inglese," who occupied herself so kindly, and begged she would send them books also. Thus she has literally been a "sower beside all waters," as the following list of regiments that have come more or less under her influence shows, viz.:--8 regiments [11/12] of Grenadiers, 12 of the Line, besides second companies of 7 others, many of the Bersaglieri--marine Bersaglieri--some few Artillery and Cavalry, also the crews of 3 Italian men-of-wairin Ancona. I may add that Miss Burton's work has not, in any instance, been opposed by the army chaplains, whilst officers have expressed their thanks for her good influence. In only one regiment, I believe, has she ever met with opposition on the part of the commanding officer, and then, on application to the General, the books which had been taken from the men were ordered to be returned. The authorities were, very properly, desirous to know that her work was purely of a religious, non-political character; and, having satisfied themselves on that point by due inquiry, interposed no sort of obstacle. On one occasion, the chaplain of a regiment, many of the men of which had gone to Miss Burton for Bible reading, summoned one of the men in order to appoint him regimental schoolmaster. The soldier frankly said, "Sir, I ought to tell you I am no longer a Roman Catholic. In Florence I read the Bible with an English lady, and I could no longer continue in the Church of Rome." The chaplain most kindly rejoined, "You need not trouble me about that, I know you to be a good man; go and do your duty as schoolmaster." Amongst a body of men so constantly on the move and scattered all over the kingdom, it is, of course, not possible to trace the continued effect of impressions made in many cases; but Miss Burton feels she has good ground to cherish hope that the blessing God has promised shall follow His own Word will be found eventually realized amongst many, both soldiers and navvies. She says, "The parable of the Sower, and the manner in which the seed is spoken of in the Scriptures, is, I think, the best illustration I can give of our work during the past eight years." During the past summer she has continued personally to work amongst Italian navvies, in Switzerland, at Château d'Oex, where upwards of 300 came, weekly, to her for religious instruction on Sundays. Now I am truly sorry to add that, at present, Miss Burton is unable to resume her work in Italy, partly from her health having given way, partly from great loss of income entailed by the [12/13] death of a very old and valued friend, deeply interested in promoting, her work. Her faithful colporteur, Barone, is, however, still kept going by her in North Italy; whilst in Genoa, an energetic Scripture Reader, who works amongst British seamen, under the eye of our excellent Chaplain, is also enabled by Miss Burton to devote a portion of his time to Italian soldiers. Miss Burton feels this winter's rest, at Montreux, essential for her, but she trusts the way may again open for her to resume her personal work in Italy. I think you, and all our friends, will agree in my own feeling that we could not do better than strengthen Miss Burton's hands in any way that would be acceptable to herself, so as to enable her to continue and extend such a singularly useful work as, under God's blessing, she has been enabled to do.
(5) Next I must mention an Italian newspaper, L'Esaminatore (Examiner), which has been quietly doing good service in promoting the spread of Church Reformation ideas amongst clergy and educated laity. This paper was started in Florence three years ago, under the editorship of Professor Bianciardi, a well-known popular writer, who for years had cherished the desire to aid in bringing about a return of the Church to primitive purity, and in the preface to his "History of the Popes," had enunciated many of the ideas since discussed in this periodical. [The King of Italy has just nominated Professor Bianciardi a Cavaliere.] I shall best give you an idea by simply quoting the seven points specified in its programme. These are all avowedly restorations of ancient catholic rights to all orders in the Church, as follows:--
1. To Laity the right of electing parochial Clergy, and of administering the temporal affairs of the Church.
2. To Clergy and Laity the right of electing Bishops.
3. To Bishops and Metropolitans restoration of their ancient diocesan and provincial rights, in lieu of their present servile dependance on Rome. Thus the present Episcopal oath of vassalage to Rome would be abolished, and the efficient action of diocesan and provincial synods restored.
4. Abolition of enforced celibacy of the Clergy.
 5. Free circulation of the Holy Scriptures in the national tongue.
6. Liturgy in the national tongue.
7. The Holy Communion in both kinds. Confession no longer obligatory but voluntary.
On all these points frank and courteous discussion is invited; the fundamental principle of the paper being to examine the actual state of the Church by the threefold test of sound reason, the revealed Word of God in the Holy Scriptures, and the testimony of the Primitive Church, in the belief that such examination, candidly conducted, will lead to a general conviction of the necessity of a Reformation of the Church upon Scriptural #nd primitive bases.
This paper was started anonymously, in order to test the existence of a desire for Reformation. Mainly through the munificence of one friend, it was at first gratuitously spread amongst Clergy, and educated Laity in different parts of Italy. It soon struck the attention of some thoughtful readers, including some members of the Italian Parliament. Subscribers began to drop in, and have gone on gradually increasing. Amongst the Italian correspondents it has called forth, may be named Cardinal D'Andrea, Monsignor Tiboni, Count Tasca, Signor Andrea Moretti, Professor Eusebio Reali, Parroco Mongini, and others, who have openly written, besides many valuable anonymous correspondents, clerical and lay, who, from motives of prudence, have not ventured to publish their names. Amongst these is deserving of special mention a venerable ecclesiastic who has contributed a singularly able series of letters, under the title of "Lettere Piacentine," treating of the actual condition of clerical education, seminaries, confessors, and other topics. One of the most graphic of these letters is on "Preachers and Catholic Reformation," a full picture of Italian preachers and preaching at this day, contrasted with those of the primitive Church, and most forcibly and eloquently pleading for a return to pure Scriptural preaching as the remedy most urgently needed to promote a revival of pure, earnest religion. A very few words only can be given here to show the spirit and tone of the [14/15] writer. He is tracing the steps through which, as he says, preaching has "descended to its present deplorable conditions." "The decay and marring of sacred eloquence began when the word of man was substituted for the Word of God. The treasure of the father of the family was closed to the faithful--treasure that the sacred orators rarely unlock in order to draw forth its stores and enrich with them the Christian people.
"It was said at the time of the Council of Trent, and the sacrilegious sentence still continues to be repeated, that to insist on the faithful studying the Holy Scriptures, and even the citing it too frequently, is a thing that smacks of the heretic..... The Word of God is more potent than the times, than men, than errors, and than prejudices. If now preaching has not efficacy, it is because the Word of God is preached diluted, clouded, weakened by the word of man, because we preach in persuasives of human wisdom, and not Jesus Christ."
Such is one specimen of the teaching which the Usaminatore has drawn forth from one venerated correspondent who was entirely unknown to the editor until a chance copy of the paper brought them into correspondence. I feel that any who have taken interest in its work may well be thankful for such a result.
In the concluding number of the paper for 1866, the editor announced that, after conversing with Baron Ricasoli, Monsignor Brunone Bianchi, Mitred Prior of S. Lorenzo, Florence, and after conference with a small knot of confidential friends, he resolved on proposing to his readers to help him publish the paper this year twice a month. He also proposed to take steps to spread with it the New Testament, issued in a series of numbers, so as to be bound up at the year's end; the seven points of the programme to be still all kept in the field of discussion. I may point out that one obvious mode of aiding such a work would be subscribing in order that a much larger number of copies might be spread throughout Italy; and I have reason to believe that help would be thankfully accepted by its promoters for this purpose.
(6) In Naples, the "Society for the Emancipation of the Italian priesthood" has maintained a newspaper, [15/16] L'Emancipatore Cattolico, for five years past. Its programme is almost identical with that of Esaminatore. Latterly it has been written with an increasing degree of boldness, especially since the return of the Cardinal Archbishop to Naples has brought matters to an extremity between himself and the Liberal priests. Many valuable articles have appeared in it.
(7) If I add that in Naples both the Italian Church Reformation Fund and the Anglo-Continental Association each have an Italian agent engaged in promotion of Reformation ideas by personal intercourse, writing, and by books, I shall conclude the details under the head of Object I., and will pass on to the little I have to tell under the two other heads.
Object II. Relief of poor deserving Priests, suspended or excommunicated for Conscience Sake--suggests the case of seven Priests who, during the last few years, have been mainly dependent on relief raised for them by Count Tasca. The Count has received support for them from the "Alms Fund" of the Anglo-Continental Society, as well as from other British friends. He has earnestly requested me also to procure him aid for them this winter. These men were at first excommunicated for rejecting the dogma of the Immaculate Conception. This new dogma met with opposition on the part of several learned and highly-esteemed ecclesiastics in North Italy. Four such combined in Pavia to oppose it publicly by their writings, and have continued stedfast under excommunication since. One died, being refused all rites of the Church as well as Christian burial, but died in peaceful assurance that the Papal sentence launched against him here for refusing to accept this newest of Rome's additions to "the faith once delivered to the saints," would be no bar to his entering into "the rest that remaineth for the people of God." His three brethren continued stedfast, but are in no need of assistance. Count Tasca's seven poor protégés have not the advantage of private means, and must have been starved out but for his help. Like so many others, these men, having been seriously shaken on one essential point of Rome's teaching, have become further convinced of her errors. They have gladly worked, [16/17] under Count Tasca's direction, in the spread of the Holy Scriptures and other works tending to promote Reformation. The Count has also tried to get some of them employment in country schools, but the Bishop of the diocese has had influence enough to thwart them in this. Two were employed in military hospitals during the recent war. Another poor Priest, who has been thankful for trifling occasional help, is a learned ex-monk, writer of a remarkable book, "Public Confession of a Prisoner in the Inquisition," in which he urges the need of various reforms in the Church. The original materials for this work were found in his cell in Rome, and led to his undergoing several years' imprisonment, in company with another secular Priest, now also settled near him, and, like himself, thankful for a little occasional help. Both these men were friends of good old Signor Pifferi, and used to attend his little gatherings. The ex-monk also occasionally helped him in revising translations, and has otherwise shown himself well-disposed to work in spreading Reformation ideas. On the recent introduction of the Government Bill for Liberty of the Church and Liquidation of the Church Property, several poor Priests wrote, in considerable apprehension, to the Editor of L'Esaminatore, to ascertain the probable results of this measure on their position. Some of them had been suspended, the last few years, for their open attachment to the cause of Italian Unity, but have been in receipt of Government allowances from the ecclesiastical chest. The Editor had an interview with Baron Ricasoli, who frankly stated that, in the event of the Bill passing, the Government could not interfere in the strictly ecclesiastical relations between Bishops and their Clergy; that the law could only recognize in them their character as citizens, voluntary members of a religious society bound together by a mutual compact; and that in the event of internal disputes arising between members of such a society, they would have the same right as all other citizens, viz.--of appealing to the civil tribunals for protection, if they felt their ecclesiastical superiors had transgressed the compact entered into by them as members of a society. In such cases all a Law Court could do would be to see if the compact on [17/18] which the Society was formed, for regulation of internal relations between its members, had been violated by either party, and see that justice was done in accordance with its due legal interpretation. The Church compact, in the eye of the law, would be the Canon Law, so far as this did not clash with rights of the State. It can hardly be doubted that, had the Government Bill passed, many liberal priests would have suffered from Episcopal and Papal pressure, and the more earnest among them would probably have been driven to pronounce openly for Reformation. Professor Reali made a proposal through the Press, that the Bill should be accompanied by a provision granting life-pensions from the Church property to such priests as had suffered from ecclesiastical censures on account of their siding with the Government in the cause of National Unity, and who might prefer to withdraw from their ecclesiastical functions rather than have to retract and submit to Rome. From an elaborate series of articles recently published in the Nazione, it is manifest that the hope of the Government was, that perfect freedom restored to the Church would rouse both Clergy and Laity to a vigorous effort to reassert their ancient rites as members of the Church, and so, by a voluntary internal movement, curb the arbitrary powers of Bishops and the Pope, by reclaiming their due share in Church organization and management.
The return of the Cardinal Archbishop, Riario Sforza, to Naples, and the cession to him, by the Government, of the Palatine Churches2, in which the liberal Priests of the Società Emancipatrice had been appointed by Government to officiate during the last few years, has recently led to the suspension or renewed excommunication, of all these men, and as many others as are known to be connected with that Society. [These were Royal Churches or chapels, under the peculiar jurisdiction of the Royal Chaplain-General, generally a Bishop. Since the death of the late Bishop of Caputo, who held the office of Chaplain-General, no successor has been appointed. The resignation of these Churches into the hands of the Cardinal Archbishop, was an earnest of the intention of the Crown to abandon all interference in Ecclesiastical arrangements, in accordance with the Bill recently proposed.] [18/19] Amongst these are many monks from the recently suppressed monasteries. Rome directed these men, on suppression, to place themselves under the ecclesiastical jurisdiction of the Cardinal and his Diocesans. During the last few years, about thirty Capuchin monasteries, in the provinces of Salerno and Basilicata, had been in open opposition to Rome. Their breach with Rome sprang from their openly siding with the cause of National Unity, but it took a definite shape through their refusal to submit to a General imposed on them by the Pope, in violation, as they maintained, of the fundamental statute of their Order, which requires that all their superiors shall be freely elected by themselves. Their monastic constitution appears to lead them strongly to sympathize with constitutional, if not democratic, forms of government. In the Emancipatore Caltolico, of February 8th, it is stated:--"Up to this date, we are assured, by persons in a position to know the facts, that the number of priests and monks interdicted since the return of Cardinal Sforza, amounts to 300."
Making every allowance for the mixed motives which naturally will operate amongst such a number, there can be no doubt, from the evidence of trustworthy witnesses, that there are amongst them good men and true, deserving of sympathy and help. Thus, one friend writes to me from Naples:--"Some of them are of the highest respectability for their learning, and venerable for their old age."
Another, an English friend, long resident in Naples, and thoroughly acquainted with the people, writes to me on behalf of one ecclesiastic with whom he has been intimately acquainted for several years:--"I believe that events have brought a Reform in the Italian Church much nearer at hand than it was; but it must work itself out without any appearance of foreign interference. I believe that Father----, who unites to a great degree talent, courage, and honesty, three qualities seldom found together, will sooner or later play a great part in this Reform, perhaps as great as that of Garibaldi in politics. But nothing would tend more to cripple his influence amongst his countrymen than the premature or injudicious use of his name. .... If you can get him any little help in a quiet and silent [19/20] way, it may save him from dire distress, and assist him to tide over these difficult moments." From my personal knowledge of this remarkable man, I have no hesitation in earnestly backing this appeal from our prudent English friend.
Another careful and experienced observer, also an English friend on the spot, writes--"The condition of the Liberal Priests now is certainly most deplorable, and many good and true men, I fear, are in dire distress; but how can they be helped? The difficulties are immense, and you can easily conceive what they are, even if the character of the sufferers could be clearly estimated. It seems to me a golden opportunity to test the real sentiments of those who abuse Rome and cry for Reform." He adds--"I feel strongly that any effort should be based on an attempt to exhibit by practice what is advocated by precept, and I see no way so effectual as to encourage and directly aid the reformers to establish a service in accordance with the principles they advocate, if such a step be possible. Of course, no effort should be left untried to do this in conjunction with the most able and good men of the Liberal party, and care should be taken to use all means to obtain the sanction of the lawful authorities in the Church; and only when such efforts have failed (as fail I feel sure they must) should independent action be resorted to. It is useless to wait in hopes of gaining the assent of Rome. She will never yield till she is forced; but any step must be taken in such a way as to make manifest its necessity. Opinions will, of course, widely differ on such a question, but I cannot help thinking that a practical common-sense view of the case is what we need, for theoretical discussion has been used ad nauseam. Popular publications advocating Reform in an attractive way, and, above all, a school, or schools, to educate the people in sound Church principles, would be necessary adjuncts of a religious service. I am fully aware of the difficulty of such a scheme, and that it could not be tried without much more competent and continuous aid, both of money and agents, than exists at present. But, if any such attempt were approved of by those interested in Italian Reform, I have no doubt but that means of giving it a fair trial might be found. [20/21] I should also make it a condition of the plan that a certain proportion of the expense should be borne by those who received aid, even though their ability to pay was a minimum. I am so entirely persuaded of the necessity of combining something of an active and visible agency to call forth interest and excite to co-operation with any future attempt to promote Reform, that I would rather see an imperfect scheme set on foot than wait to satisfy my own notions of what is best, provided always that such scheme made a real advance towards Reform, and had in it a power of expansion to meet enlarging views, and offered a reasonable prospect of helping to lay securely some of the foundation-stones of a purer Church." The same friend, speaking of the Bible Schools, of which a graphic account was lately given in the Times, on the occasion of their public fête in a hall kindly lent by the municipal authorities, says:--"I believe that we are doing a work which may greatly contribute to aid Reform, for the statement by the Times correspondent, that most of the children frequent the Protestant places of worship, is quite incorrect, the real fact being that the vast majority are and continue Romanists, but receive in the Schools sound Scriptural education; and this in the future may be largely instrumental in promoting Reform in the Roman Church."
You are aware that the Rev. F. Meyrick has recently made a public appeal through the Guardian newspaper on behalf of the great body of the Naples suspended priests, which, I am thankful to see, the Bishop of Gibraltar has sanctioned. Thus, I think, my few details under this head are concluded. You will not fail to notice what a wide field for exertion is open, and how great need there is for careful and experienced counsel and direction on the spot. Nor will you fail to notice how the cautious and experienced Naples friend, whose observations I have just quoted, suggests precisely the steps recommended by yourself and the Bishop of Gibraltar, in your joint memorandum (Milan, 1866), and adopted by the "Anglo-American Committee" as Object III., viz., that priests desirous of exhibiting in practice the reformed teaching [21/22] and worship they have been theoretically inculcating, should be aided by us in so doing, provided "that such Services spring from a genuine and spontaneous desire on the part of the Italian Clergy and Laity, and that the sincerity of this desire be attested by earnest efforts on their part to meet the needful expenses" according to their means. This leads me to mention the only case at present needing support under this head: viz., a Reformed Congregation at Genoa, which sprang into existence just in the way above contemplated. In Genoa, as in other parts of the country, copies of the Italian version of our Book of Common Prayer had been in circulation during the last few years. It had been occasionally used with good effect at the burial of foreign Protestants whose funerals were attended by Italians. On one such occasion, at the funeral of the daughter of the Hungarian exile Kossuth, copies had been offered to the bystanders in order that they might better follow the Service, and every copy thus offered (nearly fifty) were gladly carried off by the Italians present; and tokens were not wanting of the appreciation of the book by some of them. Our excellent Consular Chaplain had, of course, felt it his duty carefully to confine himself to his own proper work, and not to proselytize amongst the Italians. One day, however, a knot of Italians, chiefly working men, brought him a "supplica," a petition, signed by themselves and others, to the effect that through the reading of the Bible and of our Prayer Book (of which some of them carried copies) they had not only become convinced of the corruptions of the Church of Rome, in which they had been brought up, but also had learned that such a Reformation of the Church was practicable as might enable them to retain what was Scriptural and pure in conjunction with the ancient organization of the Catholic Church; that they found themselves ejected from Rome's Communion--the Sacraments and other means of grace denied to themselves and their children, and no disposition evinced on the part of the Church of Rome to listen to any idea of Reformation; that they hoped the day might come when a Reformation of the Church in Italy might be brought about on a national scale, more or less analogous to [22/23] our own; but that, meantime, they did not wish to live and die without worship and means of grace; that they found our Service in many respects suitable for temporary use, and that a Priest was willing to minister to them according to it, so far as suitable for their national circumstances. They begged, therefore, that the English friends who had been good enough to take pains that the Bible and Prayer Book should be spread in Italy, would now take the further step of helping them to worship accordingly. That they were few and poor, but willing to do what they could to help themselves (some had put down their names as subscribers of a franc monthly). Would English friends help them get a suitable room, and help to maintain their minister? What response could any Anglican Churchman--any clergyman--make to such an appeal? No other, I feel persuaded, could well have been made by any one actually on the spot than that kindly made by our good chaplain, "If you prove yourselves earnest, I will ask friends to help you to help yourselves in this matter." He did so, and through the help of the I. C. R. P. and other friends, these people have thus far been enabled to assemble with their Minister "to hear God's Word, and to pray with him/' according to our fashion in the main, just so much varied as to meet special Italian needs. They, of their own accord, and with their own hands, have put up a tablet with the Lord's Prayer, the Ten Commandments, and the Apostles' Creed, that reminds one at once of our own churches. A few English friends, travellers through Genoa, were so favourably impressed with the simple heartiness of their Service, that they gladly furnished them with the needful vessels for the Holy Communion Service, and helped them to complete the other arrangements for the decent, orderly celebration of their worship. Drawbacks to their progress have not been wanting. Cholera carried off some of their members, and the excitement of war and the commercial crisis withdrew others, and their little payments fell off; but still the bulk persevere. Of late, the interest seems again on the increase. Thus, at Christmas, Mr. Strettell wrote:--"Corrado had a very interesting Service on Christmas Eve, at which fifty persons were present. The [23/24] Service very hearty." Signor Corrado adds that twelve then partook of the Holy Communion. Again, a few days ago, Mr. S. writes: "I went to Corrado's Service last night. After the Service, which was well attended, there was a kind of free discussion, at which a layman of the name of Sappia held forth for some time, certainly gaining the attention of the people, and, I hope, speaking to their edification. He enlarged principally on Christian brotherhood, and tried to give practical effect to the teaching of our Lord on the subject." Corrado writes that this layman has rendered good service in this way, as he is known through his connexion with one of the newspapers in Genoa. Also, C. mentions that several Roman emigrants have shown interest in the Service, and have promised help toward the secondary expenses. Such is a practical illustration of our Object III. Last spring I witnessed a similar Service in Messina, when thirty respectable-looking persons were present, but that Service ceased on Signor Varnier's return to India. In a recent number of the Emancipatore Cattolico has been published a memorandum addressed by the Society to the Government, praying that a church may be granted them for worship; and as the Society has also published a first specimen of the Reformed worship they aim at, which closely resembles our own, it shows what they are prepared to do if they can accomplish, their aim. This specimen was sent to a number of their leading members in different parts of the country, with a request that they would express their opinion on it through the Society's journal. These opinions were, almost without exception, favourable; so that we may infer that the feeling of need of some Reformed worship is gradually spreading. Whatever shapes such attempts at Reformed worship may at first assume,--whether temporary adaptation of our own Liturgy or parts of it, or, as we should all doubtless prefer to see, genuine native efforts to purify their existing services put into the national tongue,--of one thing I feel assured, namely, that if Reformation tendencies continue to spread and lay hold of the minds of earnest Italians, we must be prepared to meet this class of cases, for they are but the natural, logical, inevitable, results of successful [24/25] efforts to spread the Bible and such other information as tends to promote Church Reformation on Scriptural and primitive bases. We may, at times, meet with tender consciences, like those of the good Pavia priests above mentioned, whose touching language has been, "We feel like children thrust out from home by our father in a temporary fit of insanity; we sit patiently at the door-step, hoping the fit will pass away, and, on his return to reason, he will open the door to us again. Meanwhile, we wait and pray." Their hopes have, indeed, grown fainter as time has rolled on and Rome continues to turn as deaf an ear to them as to Cardinal Andrea's vehement "Appeals to the Pope better informed." But such cases are not common. Men who are in earnest about their own souls will not often continue to live and die without worship and means of grace, merely because Rome denies them, when once they have become thoroughly convinced, from the study of God's Word, of the unscriptural terms of communion now imposed by Rome, and when such conviction is confirmed by what they learn from Church history of the vast gulf that separates the Church of Rome at this day from its spirit, teaching, and practice in Apostolic and primitive days. One other consideration I must not; omit, for it has been repeatedly forced on my own mind and that of other personal observers in Italy by painful experience, namely, that many individuals who have become convinced of Rome's corruptions, and would at first have thankfully availed themselves of the spiritual comfort and support afforded by Reformed worship,--retaining as far as possible the old associations to which they have been accustomed, only purified, and would thus have continued to further the spread of Reformation ideas,--for lack of such opportunities either rush into the opposite extreme, or gradually die away into practical indifference to all religious duties, to the woful deterioration of their own souls. I cannot but feel, and I rejoice to know that other friends, who, like yourself, have personally looked into the present movement in Italy, feel also, that this undoubted danger lays a grave responsibility on us all not to withhold a sympathizing, helping hand from such Italians as manifest a desire to sustain their [25/26] own spiritual life by pure, Reformed worship, remembering that in their minds such desire has been not unfrequently created by the very efforts which Anglo-American Churchmen have deemed it their duty to make in order to enlighten their Italian brethren on the true character of their own Reformed branch of the Catholic Church, as distinct from the corrupt teachings and practice of Papal Rome.
Allow me, in conclusion, to express my deep thankfulness that you, in company with our respected Diocesan, the Bishop of Gibraltar, have been enabled personally to investigate many of the facts touched on in this letter.
I cannot doubt that the recommendations you have jointly issued will command the respectful attention and support of many of our brethren from both sides of the Atlantic.
I have the honour to remain, my dear Bishop, yours very sincerely.
LEWIS M. HOGG.
Nice, February, 1867.
To the Right Reverend the Bishop of Pennsylvania.
In confirmation of my letter, I append a few recent Italian testimonies to the existence of a growing desire for Church Reformation. It should be understood that these are given without reference to their agreeing, more or less, with the line of action adopted by us, but simply as witnessing to the fact that Italian minds are astir upon the subject of some Reformation of their Church:--
(1) An impartial body of Italian witnesses are "The Evangelists, Elders, and Deacons of the Free Christian Church, Milan," as they themselves are engaged in a line of work quite distinct from that of Church Reformation. In a recent Report from these good men I find them saying, "Many Priests are speaking of Reform, and with this view are drawing near to us throughout the provinces of Italy. They are ashamed of the past, and aspire to a future less degrading. More than this: we know that amongst the gentry and learned of Italy there is a strong party bent on effecting a Reformation. True, they add, a Reformation in a Roman Catholic sense, is not at all; nevertheless, it is always a step in advance towards truth. It is important that the fabric of Romanism be moved, for then the Gospel may penetrate. In whatever way this is accomplished, it will always be a victory for the truth as it is in Christ Jesus."
(2) A second impartial witness is the Gazette of Milan, one of the leading purely political journals of that city. From a recent number I extract the following notice, "The Esaminatore is a fortnightly paper published in Florence. We should call it clerical, because it occupies itself only with Church questions, if the epithet 'clerical' had not now lost its true signification, to assume that of injury. That paper bears as [27/28] motto, 'Concord, between Religion and the State' and aims evidently at bringing back the Christian Religion to the purity of its principles; in this enterprise, in truth, it does not find itself alone, there being also in Naples another journal, the Emancipatore Cattolico, that professes the same principles. The spirit of Reform is evidently in Italy in great movement, and we earnestly desire that it may continually develope itself more, profiting by the political and civil liberty we have at length recovered. This development is the more necessary because Rome, profiting by the mistakes of our Ministers, believes that with the aphorism of 'Free Church in Free State,' she will gain on one side what she will lose on the other. The spirit of Reform alone will be able to oppose an efficacious barrier to the tyranny that the Roman Curia will bring to bear on the Clergy."
As tokens of the sentiments of individuals amongst the Priests, learned, and gentry, spoken of by the body of "Free Christians" above referred to, I may give the following:--
(3) On the necessity of spreading widely among the people the Holy Scriptures in the tongue of the people.--"This, said the excellent and learned Commendatore Bianchi, Mitred Prior-elect of S. Lorenzo, Florence, is the best and most obvious mode of worthily re-awakening in the people the religious sentiment most unhappily now deadened, if not spent, in Italy."--(Esaminatore, Dec. 24, 1866.)
(4) Another learned dignitary writes to me, a few weeks ago, "I desire to see you, and discourse at length on many points of which you write to me. However, you already well know how many Roman Catholic Priests aspire to two things principally; the first, that Christianity may return to be the motive power of civilization; the second, that all the Churches whatsoever may unite themselves together in the bond of faith and peace. To obtain the first thing, the cessation of the Papal temporal power is necessary, because that is the mortal enemy of progress and civilization. And to obtain the second, it is necessary that the Pope cease to be absolute Monarch of the Church, and return to be constitutional, as we say at this day, such as Jesus Christ has constituted him, which is the [28/29] same thing as to say that a profound and radical Reform is needed, to effect which it is needful that the Roman Catholic Church should go back to its principles, return to its Divine origins, to the Canons of the first (Ecumenical Synods, with those additions or modifications that the present conditions of civilization require."
(5) An earnest layman, an ex-Deputy, recently writes to me, "The sympathy and interest that you and your friends show for what concerns our religious condition, is a fruit of that spirit of charity and brotherhood that moves and unites amongst themselves the true believers in Christ; and I, for my part, feel the duty of corresponding with like sentiments. You desire to know what are my ideas on the actual state of religious questions amongst us. About three years ago I concluded my first pamphlet by invoking from the Rulers and Pastors of the Established Church themselves a conversion, a repentance, a Reform. But since then I am convinced that no true and efficacious Reform is possible on their part, and that sooner or later must come the grand ruin; single individuals will be able to reform themselves and conduct themselves on the right road, and at this all our efforts ought to aim; but Babylon will be Babylon even to the end--Curavimus Babylonem et non est sanata; derelinquamus eam. No other course then remains, but that those who have living faith in Christ, and wish to be built up in the Church of Christ--not upon man, mortal, fallible, and a sinner--but upon the living Rock, that is Christ Jesus, themselves work out their own Reformation in newness of spirit and of life, and propagate it with word and with example,--preaching the Word of God, not the word of men, doing the first works, walking in the old paths, remembering those things that from the beginning were heard and received, combating for the faith once delivered to the saints, shunning profane novelties and contradictions of science, falsely so called, holding fast all and only those traditions that the primitive Christians learned, whether by discourse or by writing, of the Apostles, and preserving among themselves the unity of the spirit in the bond of peace. And I believe that there is great need of remembering that [29/30] religion is not politics, that the expedients of politics are not a whit applicable in religion; that in the Christian truth there is no room for any compromise; that the Christian truth is the Word of God, and the Word of God is such truth that it hath not regard nor respect for any one whatsoever; that it admits not acceptation of persons, whosoever they be, that it suffers not itself to be dissembled or silenced in any part, to be palliated in any way whatsoever, or accommodated according to human conveniences; it is all entirely that which it is, firm, absolute, immutable, irrevocable. Est est, non non. Deponentes ergo mendacium loquimini veritatem. And I am entirely convinced that any talk amongst us of recall to true principles of Christianity is absolutely vain, so long as there be not rejected that greatest of all errors, namely, the infallibility of certain persons in the Established Church, and it be not acknowledged that only the revealed Word of God is infallible, and that the word of men, whosoever they be, on whatsoever argument, and under whatsoever form, hath been, and is, and will ever be, fallible. For I know not how one can find and set a limit, a confine, to the pretensions of those who believe themselves, and are believed infallible in their judgments of faith and morality, to wit in all those things that men have to believe and to do on earth.....Continue you and your friends in that interest and sympathy that you feel for our difficult religious conditions, and offer to God the most lively prayers for your Christian brethren of Italy, for they have very great need of them."
A letter, couched in the same strain, by this remarkable man to the editor of the Esaminatore, was accompanied by a kind donation in furtherance of his work.
(6) Early last year, a distinguished Italian thus wrote to me, in reference to some correspondence from a countryman of his own, which had appeared in an English newspaper:--"It confirms the evils, ancient and generally known, that are weighing down the Roman Catholic Church, for several ages without restoration, and are making more manifest every hour the extreme urgency of a profound Reform, in order that Catholicism may remain purified from its deep wounds, and [30/31] return to be a social force, guide, and complement to the civil progress of the peoples. A wise and truly charitable work is that of employing one's self in the way of reason and civilization, to recall the attention of those who know and can meditate on the terrible consequences that are flowing from the state in which the Church finds itself amongst us. ... And we ought to invoke the benediction of Providence in order that minds be illuminated, and hearts strengthened, and that they may hasten on the fortunate day in which the grand Reform may at least be said to be initiated."
(7) A venerable and venerated ecclesiastic, a learned country Priest, recently wrote to me as follows:--"You ask me of the Bull, Infallibilis Deus, that Pio IX. has published, defining the pretended dogma of the Conception. These Bulls, called dogmatical, are bugbears for children. I find unworthy of serious treatment the question of such decisions ex cathedrâ. Putting ourselves on this ground, we should go a thousand miles backward. We ought to hold their nullity as a thing already judged: whoever wishes to attribute value to them, let him leave off speaking of Catholic Reform, and range himself amongst its opponents. And the Tridentine Council? Every time that my ear is smitten with that name, I am sorrowful, and lose my calmness. It has been a mortal blow given to every good intent of Reform, it has been the divinization of the scholastic teachings, the battle-field that the Roman Curia has won with the arms of dexterity and hypocrisy. Perhaps you will ask me, Do I accept the decisions of the Tridentine? Here is my reply: I take them all, I examine all, and those that are supported by proofs, and stand the test of the Canon of S. Vincenzo Lirinese, I hold for sure; the others I regard as opinions of those skilled and good theologians." He touches upon what they say of the Vulgate, indulgences, and other points in which he finds their decisions unsatisfactory, and concludes, "The Tridentine Council certainly does not fetter me." In a recent number of the Esaminatore I find the following touching words from him:--"I am thinking seriously upon the transactions that are being stipulated in Rome. Perchance Providence wills that the Reform should in no way be owing [31/32] to that impersonal being called the State; perchance it wills that it be faith alone and charity alone that triumph; perchance it will be better that we find ourselves alone, face to face with Rome and her Episcopate, combating without human aids, but with those alone of truth and prayer. For these conquests of the Reform I have not faith in men, nor in any thing that smacks of what is human. I hope only in Him who has already blessed our work. The enemy will, perhaps, be more powerful, and perhaps not, because the Episcopate too will undergo, even without wishing it, the force of public opinion. In any case, we know against whom we must take the field. The arms of our adversaries are old spears and firelocks, we have the needle-gun. I, after many thoughts, feel myself more courageous than before; I feel that the not having either Governments or politics to look in the face gives me new nerve. I have got rid of an entanglement round me; if God wills to bless His Church, even we poor instruments may be capable of all. Now we issue from the uncertain, and I experience a certain feeling of comfort, and there rises in me a certain presentiment of a happy future, so that if I had the honour of presenting myself to the Baron (Ricasoli) I would wish to thank him for these new measures, as for a benefit that he has done to the Church. I add that with the new conventions the Church would altogether cease to be official; so much the better. "We will do by ourselves, we will measure ourselves in the field; we shall fall, but we shall not fall without seeing nigh the dawning of the bright day of victory. Already the first dawns of the fortunate day cheer us. Courage, then, my dear Editor, 'All things are possible to him that believeth.'"
I might go on adding proofs to the same effect from a large amount of correspondence which has passed through my hands from many different parts of Italy, but I think the above will amply suffice to bear out the correctness of the assertion of the first quoted thoroughly impartial Italian witnesses,--viz., that amongst the priests, gentry, and learned of Italy there is a party bent on Reformation. One additional proof that Italians so disposed will not rest content without worship, [32/33] when driven from Rome's communion, comes to hand at this moment, whilst I am writing, in the last number of Emancipatore Cattolico, which opens with a leading article announcing that the members of that Society in Naples have just resolved on opening an Oratory for worship, as they are turned out of the churches in which they have hitherto officiated and attended. They say they are well aware they shall be calumniated by the "Modern Pharisees "as schismatics, and worse, for thus acting; but they feel strong in their own convictions of their right and duty not to abandon worship because unjustly suspended and excommunicated, and they declare, "specially we find ourselves in full accord with the canons of the primitive Catholic Church, with its traditions, and with its dogmatic teachings." They fortify themselves by references to the authority of S. Thomas Aquinas.
I have also just received an earnest appeal from trusty English friends in Naples on behalf of the "Priests' Asylum for Work," just started by Padre Gabrielli da Viareggio, to whose talents, courage, and honesty witness has been already borne. Seventeen Priests and upwards of sixty laymen were present at the opening, when Padre Gabrielli da Viareggio spoke a few stirring words on "Man is born to labour." Briefly referring to the well-known circumstances under which he and his brother Priests had been driven from their ministry, he said, "To-day, now that we have not bread, to-day we ask this bread from toil." The terms of admission under the provisional "statute" are, "Every Catholic Priest suspended for only political motives, and every other that cannot conscientiously exercise his sacred ministry, is admitted, provided he professes the principle of the Unity of Italy, is of irreproachable conduct, and well accepted by the people." My English friend writes, "The means for providing work, or rendering it profitable, are not easily to be explained; in fact the only way to see if it is possible is to put it to the test. Each day, at 3 p.m., would be given to each inmate 85 centesimi (8 1/2 d.), that being the ordinary pay for saying Mass. They would provide themselves with food for this sum as best they could, and return to the Asylum for the evening. Padre Gabrielli [33/34] da Viareggio spoke much of Reform in a general sense, and of the necessity of the measure being carried out by the Italians themselves, and deprecated strongly the interference of any Church in proposing itself as a suitable one for them. You will so often have heard this, I may say, universal opinion amongst Italian Reformers, that you can easily imagine the ten our of his remarks. The aid, especially in the present crisis, and the sympathy of other Christians, he earnestly sought and hoped to find, and trusted that God would open a way for them out of their dire distress, and help the Italian Church to return to primitive Catholicity." "Now," adds my friend, we felt that there was open to us a fair prospect of aiding in a proper way the actual distress, and we have every security that the money employed will be rightly used, from the known character of Padre Gabrielli da Viareggio. We accordingly decided on sending him £10, to be applied as he judged best in carrying out his plan for relief. The time for action we felt had come, for it is a question of starvation for the sake of principle against Rome's persecution; and if aid be not given, Rome will triumph. All other questions become subordinate in such extremities, and we have tried to give timely aid to a very small amount, until we can learn what hopes there are that larger supplies will follow. The difficulties in the way of giving help only to the deserving are immense, and it can only be done through native agency. I do believe that, as far as human foresight can secure from abuse in such a case, we have such security in Padre Gabrielli da Viareggio and his excellent and efficient fellow-worker, P. Giovanni Fera. I hope that friends at home may be in a condition to contribute to the relief of these men, and I am very hopeful that some direct move towards Reform may spring out of this trial."
Such is the appeal of careful experienced English residents on the spot, through whose hands I can most conscientiously recommend all our friends to send help.
Special help for the "Priests' Asylum for Work" may be sent to Messrs. Clauson and Co., Naples, and will be administered by the three resident English friends already referred to.
 Extract from the Statement of Objects and Modes of Operation of the Anglo-American Committee for aiding Church Reformation in Italy.
The Committee is, at present, composed of the following members, with power to add to their number:--
Rev. E. W. Appleton.
Rev. A. B. Atkins.
Rev. E. Biley.
Rev. C. B. Brigstocke,
British Chaplain, Turin.
Rev. M. Brock.
Rev. Joshua Cautley,
Rev. C. Childers,
British Chaplain, Nice.
Rev. R. H. Falkner.
Rev. J. W. Finlay.
Rev. E. Hoare,
W. Hogan, Esq.
Rev. L. M. Hogg, Secretary.
Rev. W. R. James,
Rev. G. London.
Rev. Pelham T. Maitland,
British Chaplain, Naples.
Rev. Dr. Ogilby.
Rev. S. Paynter.
Rev. E. M. Rolfe,
British Chaplain, Cannes.
Dudley H. Ryder, Esq.
Dr. Sargent, Treasurer.
Ven. Archdeacon Shortland.
Rev. A. B. Strettel,
British Chaplain, Genoa.
T. R. Woolfield, Esq., Cannes.
C. Pemberton Wurtz, Esq.
This Committee has been formed with the view of furthering the objects recommended to the members of their respective branches of the Church by the Bishops of Gibraltar and Pennsylvania, in their joint Memorandum on the subject (Milan, May, 1866).
These objects are--
1. The dissemination of the Holy Scriptures, and such information as may tend to promote a sound, sober Reformation of the Italian Church, on primitive Catholic bases.
2. Toward the support of such Priests, of undoubted moral and religious character, as may, for conscience sake, suffer loss of their ecclesiastical preferment, and consequently fall into distress.
 3. Toward the maintenance of religious services conducted by such Priests, as a temporary and provisional measure.
They hold that an indispensable condition of rendering assistance to this last object, should be careful investigation on the spot, to ascertain that such Religious Services spring from a genuine and spontaneous desire on the part of the Italian clergy and laity; and that the sincerity of this desire should be attested by earnest native efforts to meet the needful expenses.
The Committee invite the earnest co-operation of all British and American Chaplains of the reformed Episcopal Church, together with that of all other friends in Italy, or elsewhere on the Continent, who may be disposed to unite with them in promoting the above objects.
The Committee will maintain friendly communications with Committees of Associations in Great Britain and America for aiding Church Reformation in Italy, and will thankfully endeavour to co-operate with them so far as may be found practicable.
The Committee request all members and friends to spread this statement as widely as they can. They suggest that, wherever practicable, sermons be preached or addresses delivered, in order to call attention to the subject and invite aid in support of it. They earnestly invite all members and friends specially to pray for God's blessing on this work.
From details of cases which have been laid before them, the Committee feel warranted in saying that they have ample scope for the judicious and effective employment of considerable sums, and therefore they earnestly invite support.
Subscriptions and Donations may be paid to the account of Dr. Sargent, Treasurer of the Anglo-American Committee, at Messrs. La Croix's Bank, Nice.
The Treasurer will submit an annual account of receipts and expenditure to be printed with the report of the Committee.
Subscriptions and Donations may also be forwarded through any members of the Committee.