Mariano Rampolla del Tindaro

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Philip Alexius de László : Cardinal Mariano Rampolla del Tindaro with the insignia of a Grand Cross of Honor and Devotion Bailli of the Order of Malta , oil on canvas, 1900

Mariano Cardinal Rampolla del Tindaro (born August 17, 1843 in Polizzi Generosa , Sicily , † December 16, 1913 in Rome ) was Cardinal State Secretary during the pontificate of Leo XIII. and one of the leading figures of the Catholic Church in the second half of the 19th century .


Mariano Rampolla was destined for a spiritual career from childhood. After the seminar time at the Almo Collegio Capranica , he was ordained priest in 1866 ; in 1870 he became a Doctor iuris utriusque doctorate . His career then led him to the diplomatic service of the Roman Church in Spain , where he worked at the local nunciature from 1875 to 1877 . In 1882 he returned to Madrid as apostolic nuncio , meanwhile appointed titular archbishop of Heraclea in Europe , and represented the curia there until 1887.

Pope Leo XIII created it on March 14, 1887 . the Cardinal Priest of the titular church of Santa Cecilia in Trastevere and it convened on June 2, the Cardinal Secretary of State . He had a decisive influence on foreign policy, the primary problem of which was the relationship between the papacy and the Italian government. Even if the Holy See initially sought rapprochement with Italy, Rampolla should not be able to solve this question. The poor relationship between the Vatican and the Italian state also had a detrimental effect on the Church's relationship with the Central European powers, especially after the conclusion of the Triple Alliance in 1882. In view of the distance that had arisen from Austria , Rampolla consequently sought proximity to France and Spain , whereby his previous work in Madrid benefited him. In this way he managed to preserve the church a certain political capacity to act, but he drew the (personal) dislike of the governments in Berlin and Vienna . Another foreign policy opponent of Rampolla was the Russian Tsar Alexander III. whose preferred candidate for the post of Cardinal Secretary of State was Cardinal Serafino Vannutelli . On the one hand, he had already assisted at the coronation ceremony in Moscow in 1883, and on the other (in contrast to Rampolla) nothing against the wish to introduce the Russian language into the Polish-Catholic liturgy. During the Dreyfus Affair in France in the 1890s, Rampolla sided with most of the French episcopate on the side of the latently anti-republican, "cerebral" Catholicism ( Hannah Arendt ) and welcomed the condemnation of Alfred Dreyfus .

After his defeat at the conclave in 1903 , Cardinal Rampolla was considered powerless under the pontificate of Pius X and was on the sidelines in church politics. The sharp anti-modernism , which was largely promoted by his successor Rafael Merry del Val in cooperation with the new Pope and which dominated the Church in the last decade of his life between 1903 and 1913 and in some respects paralyzed it, looked at Rampolla with suspicion. Merry del Val had been the Conclave's secretary and was immediately appointed as Rampolla's successor as Secretary of State, and two months later made cardinal by the newly elected Pope . Rampolla was nevertheless respected, in 1909 he was raised to the less influential post of secretary at the Holy Office and in 1910 was appointed president of the Roman Thomas Academy . He died on December 16, 1913 in Rome, where he last lived in seclusion.

Coat of arms of Cardinal Mariano Rampolla del Tindaro (with the Maltese cross deposited as a sign of the coat of arms of the Honor and Devotion Grand Cross Baillis of the Order of Malta)

Cardinal Rampolla was Honorary and Devotion Grand Cross Bailli of the Sovereign Order of Malta and from 1896 to 1913 its Grand Prior of Rome. In 1894 he was awarded the Grand Cross with Collane of the Order of Charles III. excellent.

1903 conclave

Course of the conclave

When Leo XIII. died in 1903 at the age of 93, Cardinal Rampolla was considered by many to be his natural successor. Indeed, his election would have ensured the continuity of papal policy. The conclave of 62 cardinals began on July 31, 1903; the required majority of two thirds of the votes was thus 42 votes. In the first ballot, Rampolla received 24 votes, in the second ballot on August 1, 1903, 29 votes. The Bishop of Krakow , Jan Cardinal Puzyna de Kozielsko , declared on behalf of Emperor Franz Joseph I that he wanted to make use of his traditional right as the Apostolic King of Hungary to exclude Cardinal Rampolla from the circle of candidates, i.e. to apply the so-called exclusive , a form of veto . In fact, the Catholic monarchs had stipulated such a right of veto since the 17th century , but had always encountered bitter resistance from the Catholic Church, which did not recognize any external influence on the election of the Pope. Both Cardinal Rampolla and leading representatives of the college of cardinals, above all the French cardinals who are among his most important supporters, protested against the announcement. In the third ballot, the number of votes for Rampolla even increased by one, which can be taken as a sign that Austria's influence, which was perceived as inadmissible, had no effect. However, it remains questionable whether a stronger majority for Rampolla would not have formed in the third ballot without the veto. In any case, it was clear that in this situation a sufficient majority for Rampolla could not be achieved.

In this situation, the chances of a compromise candidate increased: the Archbishop of Milan , Andrea Carlo Cardinal Ferrari , presented the Patriarch of Venice , Giuseppe Sarto . Sarto, who had already received votes (5 and 10) in the first two ballots and had already won a considerable number of voters with 21 votes in the third ballot, declared, however, that he felt unworthy of the high office and asked those who had gathered Cardinals plead not to vote for him. On the other hand, the French cardinals tried to persuade Rampolla to withdraw his candidacy so that his supporters could in turn present a compromise candidate that was acceptable to them. Cardinal Rampolla, however, refused to give up his candidacy, claiming that the conclave's decision-making must preserve its freedom from imperial intervention. Many cardinals now saw no other option but to vote for Sarto, who finally gave up its resistance and was selected in the seventh round to the Pope and the name Pius X accepted.

Discussion of the veto

Mariano Cardinal Rampolla del Tindaro in a photograph by Jacob Hilsdorf .

It is unclear whether the so-called Exclusive actually changed the result of the conclave, as Rampolla received one more vote in the third ballot than in the second ballot before the objection, despite the objection. From a legal point of view, the exclusive was irrelevant as it does not appear in canon law and electoral law. The Austrian emperor did not justify his veto before or after the conclave, at that time and also today the following reasons are discussed:

  • Perhaps the emperor feared a strengthening of the Vatican, since Rampolla was a curia cardinal and thus came from the Vatican power structures.
  • Rampolla was considered friendly to the French and thus a potential opponent of Austria's political interests.
  • Rampolla was held responsible for a reaction by the Vatican that was felt to be very cold after the suicide of the Austrian heir to the throne Rudolf (1889).
  • Rampolla was charged with a certain proximity to Freemasonry and modernism ; According to some sources, documents from Rampolla's estate support this thesis. The Austrian authorities had probably been gathering information about this for a long time, especially since Rampolla made public statements that suggested a proximity to modernism.

Web links

Individual evidence

  1. ^ Rampolla Will Not Be Forced Out in The Chicago Sunday Tribune of February 22, 1891, accessed on September 15, 2015 (English, PDF P.4)
  2. List of the grand priorities of Rome ( Memento of the original from September 27, 2013 in the Internet Archive ) Info: The archive link was automatically inserted and not yet checked. Please check the original and archive link according to the instructions and then remove this notice. @1@ 2Template: Webachiv / IABot /
predecessor Office successor
Lodovico Jacobini Cardinal Secretary of State
Rafael Merry del Val
Francesco Cardinal Ricci Paracciani Archpriest of St. Peter's Basilica
Rafael Merry del Val
Serafino Cardinal Vannutelli Secretary of the Holy Office
Domenico Cardinal Ferrata