A Liberal Pope, 1846–1848
The election of Pius IX in 1846 aroused great enthusiasm among liberals and nationalists in Italy, and the evidence indicates that for the first two years of his papacy, until the Roman Revolution of 1848, Pius's liberalism was genuine. But his refusal to join the war against Austria in 1848 highlighted the contradiction between his role as an Italian political leader and his office as an international spiritual leader who had to retain the support of conservative Catholics throughout Europe, including Austria. When revolution broke out in Rome and a republic was declared, the pope had to flee to Neapolitan territory, and he was only restored to the papal states by French and Austrian arms. The experience changed Pius's outlook to that of a resolute conservatism as he lost any belief that papal authority could be reconciled with constitutional government. Cardinal Giacomo Antonelli emerged as the dominant figure in papal government.
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