The Specter of Popery: Infallibility and the Vatican Decrees
In his 1874 pamphlet The Vatican Decrees in Their Bearing on Civil Allegiance: A Political Expostulation, Gladstone took critical aim at Pope Pius IX and the papal decree of infallibility. He declared it a dangerous innovation that subordinated Catholics in England to the dictates of the pope in matters of civic loyalty as well as faith and morals. The controversy also drew in famed converts to Catholics Bishop Henry Manning and Cardinal Newman. Peterson examines how Gladstone’s reputation as a champion of liberty continued to advance, except among Roman Catholics, who published withering criticisms of the pamphlet. With a few exceptions, American Protestant and secular papers largely agreed with Gladstone’s warning. His pamphlet was considered a credible and necessary call for lovers of liberty.