the Vatican decrees, went off to found or join the Old Catholic Churches in union with the schism of Utrecht. In France, the conservative reaction to the violence of the Commune of 1871 seemed likely to restore the French Catholic monarchy, but in 1875 the country drifted into its Third Republic, leaving the church exposed to an anticlericalism which would greatly weaken its influence. Yet despite these setbacks, Pio Nono was the maker of the modern papacy. The loss of the Papal States was a blessing in disguise, as it diminished the Vatican's immersion in Italian politics, and marked its transformation into a more exclusively global spiritual power.
Pio Nono's strategy of opposition to ultra-modernity had its losses and gains, and left a difficult legacy to his successor, Gioacchino Vincenzo Raffaele Luigi Pecci, Pope Leo XIII (1810-1903; ruled 1878-1903). By living to 93, Leo was, until the reign of John Paul II, the second-longest ruling pope in history, only after Pius himself.
Born the sixth son of a minor Italian nobleman, and educated for the priesthood at the Roman College and the Academy of Noble Ecclesiastics, Leo was the last pope to exercise civil authority, as governor of the papal enclave of Benevento in 1838 and of Perugia in 1841. After a brief period as nuncio in Belgium, he remained for over three decades bishop of Perugia, being distrusted by Antonelli. Skilled as a diplomat and administrator, he sought a new modus vivendi with the European states, and was thought too liberal to succeed Pius, though his aims were still more extensive, the re-creation of Catholic Christendom. Leo's vision, like his name, was an imperial one, his favourite pope being the all-powerful Innocent III, whose remains he had reburied in his cathedral of the Lateran, opposite his own tomb.
Leo also looked to the thirteenth century for the renewal of Catholic intellectual life. In the encyclical Aeterni Patris (1879) he declared that all Catholic philosophy should be based on the study of St Thomas Aquinas, thereby producing a revival of Thomist thought that lasted into the twentieth century. Leo's philosophy of society is derived from Aquinas's doctrine of natural law, the eternal law as imprinted on the human mind, which was accessible in principle to the reason of all, but had the church for its guardian and protector. Rome therefore claimed a new universal importance for everyone as the custodian of the one right political and social philosophy.
This philosophy, though medieval in inspiration, was designed for the needs of a living Catholic world. In the 1870s, the extension ofthe franchise and of education beyond liberal middle-class elites to the Catholic masses resulted in the emergence of new populist political parties and social institutions. Catholic newspapers, peasant co-operatives, banks, youth organisations, schools and
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