responded to the cries for a constitution by warning that his subjects should not make requests which he could not, ought not and did not mean to grant. He was equally adamant about creating a civic guard. Finally, he resisted the call to champion the liberation of the peninsula, considering the creation of an Italian league presided over by the pope a utopian scheme. None the less, he found it hard to resist the popular clamour and eventually persuaded Gizzi to authorise the controversial guard, but the cardinal, fearing the consequences, resigned a few days later.
Pius reconsidered his stance on constitutionalism following the outbreak of revolution in Palermo and Paris early in 1848, warning he could not violate his obligations as head of the universal church. Only when a special commission of ecclesiastics saw no theological hindrances to the introduction of constitutionalism in the political realm did the pope proceed. Pressured by events, the pope also changed course on the question of the league, and in 1848 moved beyond the commercial league he had originally sanctioned to accept the political and national one earlier deemed inadmissible.21
The pope's subjects demanded more, calling upon him to launch a war of national liberation against Austria. In response, Pius allowed his ministers to appeal to the Turin government to provide a military man to organise a papal military force. 'The events which these two months have seen succeeding and pressing on each other with so rapid change are not the work of man', Pius announced to the people of Italy in an address of 30 March.22 These words appeared to foreshadow an active papal involvement in the national crusade to liberate Italy, seemingly confirmed by the movement of his troops northward. Inwardly, Pius had reservations about declaring war on part of his flock and resented the proclamation of General Giovanni Durando, which labelled the war not only national but Christian. These words created consternation in Austria, where Princess Metternich lamented that the pope blessed the troops dispatched to conquer their provinces.23 Deeming his first responsibility to the church, Pius feared that his association with the war of liberation might provoke a schism in Germany. He was stunned by the April 1848 dispatch from his nuncio in Vienna, which reported that Catholics there held him responsible for the war. Although he understood that Italian nationalism was sweeping the peninsula, Pius proclaimed that he could not declare war against anyone.
21 ASV, Archivio Particolare Pio IX, Oggetti Vari, n. 368.
23 Metternich-Winneburg (ed.), Memoirs, vol. viii,p. 15.
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