Pius IX died in 1878 in the thick of the Kulturkampf, the fight with the German government over the relationship of State and Church. His successor was Cardinal Pecci, Archbishop of Perugia, whom he had disliked. Leo XIII, as Pecci became, had a far wider knowledge of the world than had Pius and was keenly aware of the problems of the State in relation to both religion and insurgent demos. For him the most important problem was that of the Eldest Daughter of the Church, France, where the claims of the pretender to the throne were supported by many of the French clergy, and where political reaction claimed that only under a monarchy could the Catholic Church survive. The Pope had seen far more clearly than his predecessor that the ‘Scientific International’, the corresponding societies of the physicists and chemists, the interchanges of the statisticians and sociologists, of the biologists and medical men, of the inventors and the technicians, the spread of the learned journal, were rapidly transforming the world, and that the spectacular growth of population was creating new problems for society and for the Church, above all the Church. Should then the Church continue to support claimants to the throne of France when they and their partisans demonstrated constantly that their ideas were those of the past? The cause of monarchy was dying; the reasons for its existence, unless greatly modified, were in question. ‘The only corpse to which the Church is perpetually attached is that of our Lord Jesus Christ,’ said the Pope.
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