Announcing his obligation to protect the Faith, he accorded the constitutional regime in Naples de facto recognition.2 Metternich urged Rome to condemn the carbonari, considering it complementary to Austria's military intervention against the Neapolitan revolution. The pope and his secretary of state insisted that spiritual strictures were reserved for those societies manifestly opposed to the Catholic religion. Only when the Austrians uncovered the sect's initiation ceremonies, which ridiculed church ritual, did Rome act. In mid-September, Pius VII launched an excommunication against the carbonari for their blasphemous misuse of Roman ritual. Justified on spiritual grounds, its motivation was political, and as such proved a failure. While it did little to suppress the unrest or undermine the sects, it alienated Italian nationalists by identifying the papacy with Austria and reaction.3 Pius VII, assisted by Consalvi, balanced his religious responsibilities with political reality to the end of his pontificate in 1823.
The 1823 conclave was dominated by the zelanti cardinals who disparaged the political realism of Consalvi and Pius VII. Austria's Metternich, on the other hand, invoked a moderate successor. When the election of the intransigent Cardinal Gabriele Severoli appeared certain, Metternich authorised Cardinal Giuseppe Albani, representing Austrian interests in the conclave, to exercise its veto. The frustrated cardinals lined up behind another zelanti, securing the election of Cardinal Annibale della Genga, who assumed the name Leo XII.4 The new pope shared the zelanti views on church-state relations, and in his first encyclical (May 1824) condemned dechristianisation, indifferentism, toleration and freemasonry, tracing contemporary problems to the contempt for church authority.5 He warned the bishops of the sects and railed against the indifferent, who under the pretext of toleration undermined the faith. Leo proved a jealous guardian of the Holy See's prerogatives, continuing the centralising tendencies of his predecessor while abandoning his political moderation.
Pope Leo initially sought to safeguard the papacy by invoking the support of the faithful. During the course of 1826, he moved away from Lamennais's idealistic notion of relying on the devotion of the Catholic masses towards the more realistic support of the armies of the conservative powers. In mid-March, he denounced the masons and other secret societies, renewing the decrees of his predecessors against them. Cardinal Tommaso Bernetti ventured to Vienna, St Petersburg, Paris and Berlin, assuring these governments that Leo renounced
2 Brady, Rome and the Neapolitan revolution, p. 13.
3 Reinerman, 'Metternich and the papal condemnation', pp. 60-9.
4 Colapietra, 'II diario Brunelli', pp. 76-146.
5 Ubi Primum in Carlen (ed.), Papal pronouncements, p. 21.
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