Many to whom the Government of the Roman Catholic Church is a mystery are nevertheless aware that it is the oldest administration on earth, and some would say the wisest; certainly no other has had such an extensive experience of human nature. It is the unique continuous growth of centuries, and though it has been modernized on countless occasions, it still carries with it many a strange relic of the past. Unlike the governments of ordinary states, which think in terms of their years of office, the Vatican thinks in centuries. Time is not important; its policy is based on the belief that while the individual is mortal, the Church is eternal. That was the attitude which exasperated Napoleon. He might kidnap and bully a Pope, but he could not browbeat the Church.Christ promised that the gates of Hell would not prevail against His Church. We thank Him for preventing us from doing even greater damage.
'Do you know that I am capable of destroying your Church?' he once shouted at Cardinal Consalvi, theSecretary of State.
'Sire,' replied Consalvi, 'not even we priests have achieved that in eighteen centuries!"
Tuesday, February 25, 2014
Well Said: Napoleon and the Cardinal
Here's a final story from H.V. Morton's 1957 book A Traveller in Rome, one so true and also amusing that I just had to share it.