The Mortara Case

The Point

Edited Under Fr. Leonard Feeney M.I.C.M. — Saint Benedict Center

September, 1956


The Point is against the Jews. It is against the Masons. It is against Interfaith. The Point maintains that the Catholic Church is against the Jews, against the Masons, and against Interfaith. And, by way of proving its contention, The Point quotes freely from Catholic saints and popes, who are unmistakably against the Jews, against the Masons, and against Interfaith.

Occasionally someone objects to this Point procedure. How do we know, snips our critic, that the Church hasn’t modernized her ideas since the time of the saints and popes whom we quote in our favor? Or, at least, how do we know she won’t?

Last month, our objector got his answer. It was in the form of a news bulletin from Rome, announcing that Catholics can soon expect to have a new saint; for the cause has been introduced and the first steps successfully completed in the canonization of Giovanni-Maria Mastai-Ferretti, His Holiness, Pope Pius IX.

For those with eyes to see, this announcement is clear and cogent evidence that the Catholic Church, when she acts officially, is most emphatically not “modernizing her ideas,” regarding either herself, her mission, or her enemies.

Pope Pius IX, who shepherded the Church through thirty-two embattled years — next to Saint Peter’s, the longest pontificate in history — was hated by the Jews and Masons during his lifetime and has been remembered by them ever since. He was their enemy, deliberately and implacably; and so abidingly forceful were his utterances against them, so decisive his actions, that he has stood to this day as a symbol of opposition to all that Judaeo-Masonry strives to achieve.

And now this man is about to be presented to the Catholic world as a model: a supreme and shining exemplar of orthodoxy in teaching and holiness in conduct. And as salt for their wounds, the Jews and Masons will note that this celebrated foe of theirs has been carefully and singularly chosen for the dignity he is to be given. For of all the popes of the last three centuries, only he and his admiring successor, Saint Pius X, have been singled out by the Church for sainthood.

By way of introducing “Pio Nono” and of indicating the reasons for the Jewish-Masonic rancor against him, we invite you to consider the following propositions:

“Every man is free to embrace and profess that religion which, guided by the light of reason, he shall believe true.”

“Men may, in any religion, find the way of eternal salvation and attain eternal salvation.”

“In our times it is no longer necessary that the Catholic religion should be the only religion of the State to the exclusion of all others whatsoever.”

“Hence it has been wisely provided by law that in certain regions, Catholic in name, immigrants shall be allowed the public exercise of their own forms of religion.”

Any faithful reader of America’s Jew-dominated press will be quick to endorse these four statements as self-evidently true. They are the very foundation of the Interfaith movement. Without them, “Brotherhood” is inconceivable. The National Conference of Christians and Jews stakes its whole future on their affirmation.

Which is just one of the reasons that the canonization of Pope Pius IX is a wonderful and delightful thing to contemplate. For Pius IX sets down the above propositions in his famous Syllabus of Modern Errors (1864), and flatly condemns all four of them as flagrant and untenable heresy!

Against Freemasonry, rife in nineteenth-century Europe, Pius IX waged an equally fierce warfare. He referred to the ever-plotting, many-faced society as “that perverse sect, popularly called Masonic, which, hidden at first in dark alleys, has finally come to light, to ruin religion and civil society.”

And by way of confirming the Pope’s judgment against them, the Masons, led by the vile, viciously anti-Catholic Mazzini and his eager colleague Garibaldi, stole from Pius IX that swath of lands in mid-Italy called the Papal States — the Patrimony of Saint Peter — which had been given to the Vicars of Christ, for their welfare and protection, since the time of the Emperor Constantine.

Even more than for his anti-Masonic stand, however, Pius IX is today remembered for his iron determination to hold back the Jews. There has yet to be published a Jewish evaluation of the nineteenth century which fails to mention how Pius IX, so “tolerant” toward the Jews during his first two years in the papacy, turned completely about-face, and held adamantly to the Church’s long-established policy of keeping all Jews very well in hand.

The remainder of our issue is devoted to the most-publicized incident, and the ultimate summary, of Pope Pius IX’s courageous fight to protect the Church of Christ from His crucifiers.

The Mortara Case

During the early 1850’s, the Italian city of Bologna was still under the temporal rule of the Pope, a portion of the traditional Papal States. There was resident in Bologna at this time a certain Mortara family, Jews who, while excluded by the Pope from the privileges of citizenship, managed to make a very comfortable living among their Catholic neighbors. Encouraged by the growing revolutionary spirit of the city (which was soon to be out of Papal hands and annexed by the Masonic government of Italy), the Mortaras had lately defied the very explicit Papal law which forbids Jews to have Christian servants. A young Catholic girl of Bologna, Anna Morisi, had been hired as a domestic in the Mortara household.

One day in November of 1857, Anna was describing to a friend the highly serious illness of one of the Mortara children. At the friend’s suggestion that perhaps the child should be baptized, discreetly, before it died, Anna protested that under no circumstances could she do that. She then proceeded to unburden her Catholic conscience by revealing that once before, in a similar circumstance, she had baptized a dying Mortara baby, and the child had afterward recovered — was now, in fact, a healthy six-year-old, and being raised as a Jew!

News of the Mortaras’ baptized boy ultimately reached the Archbishop of Bologna. The sacred integrity of Baptism, and the Church’s obligation to provide for the Christian upbringing of baptized children, left only one course of action to the prelate. Under orders approved by the Holy Office, Anna Morisi, protected by Papal guards, left her Jewish employer’s house, and with her there went the baptized child, Edgar Mortara.

The arrival of Edgar in Rome, where he was to be raised as a ward of Pius IX, made hotly-protested news in every major city of Europe and America. There were cries of “Medievalism!” “Inquisition.” “Popish Tyranny!” Immediately, mass meetings of protest were organized in England and the United States. The powerful alliance of German rabbis sent a formal petition to Pius IX, demanding the Mortara child’s immediate release. Sir Moses Montefiore, the Rothschilds’ roving ambassador, rushed to the Papal Palace at Rome to deliver a personal protest to the Pope. Unmoved, His Holiness dispatched Cardinal Antonelli to tell Sir Moses about the Church’s ancient position in the matter of baptized children, adding that by their boldness in employing a Catholic servant, the Mortaras themselves must take full responsibility for any unpleasantness that had resulted. Other indignant callers, and many appeared, got similar receptions.

Within two years of Edgar Mortara’s arrival at Rome, the city of Bologna was seized by the Italian Kingdom. Under this new and anti-papal government, the Jews attempted to institute criminal proceedings against the servant-girl, Anna Morisi, charging her with kidnapping. Anna, however, had since entered a convent, and when it became known that the Jews were proposing to violate the sacredness of the cloister and drag a nun into the civil courts, popular indignation forced them to abandon the cause, and to consider the whole Mortara Case ended.

Actually, the end did not come until 1940. In March of that year, a white-haired Augustinian priest died at Liege in Belgium. He was nearly ninety years old and all during his priestly life he had been known as Father Pius, O.S.A., a name which he had taken in honor of his beloved guardian, Pope Pius IX. There were few who took notice of Father Pius’ death, and fewer who realized that he was the same Edgar Mortara who close to a century before had so electrified the world.

Cut off from the cursed blood of the Jews, fed upon the Precious Blood of the Altar, Father Pius Mortara, we have good reason to hope, is even now, in the Beatific Vision, a happy symbol of the sacredness of Holy Baptism, a witness to the courageous faith of a holy Holy Father.


Throughout the heat of the Mortara controversy, the official position of Pope Pius IX was entrusted, for defense and exposition, to the Jesuit fathers of the magazine Civiltà Cattolica. Pius IX had himself established these priests in their special status as a papal “college of writers, constituted in perpetuity.” And they became his most insistent and outspoken champions.

It was only a few years after Pius IX’s death that Civiltà Cattolica published a series of three articles which attempted to isolate and identify those forces which had so beset Catholic Europe in the wake of the French Revolution; which had warred incessantly against the Pope; and which had gained the enormous triumph of seeing Pius IX end his days as a prisoner in the Vatican, dispossessed of the ancient temporal domains of the papacy.

This series of Civiltà Cattolica articles, dated October, November, and December, 1890, is entitled “The Jewish Question in Europe.” The magazine’s summary statement, faithfully reflecting the mature and saintly judgment of Pope Pius IX, is reprinted below. It is the Church’s traditional position, and, therefore, as our readers will recognize, The Point ’s.

“In order that the Christian nations may be delivered from the yoke of Judaism and Freemasonry, which is daily growing more oppressive, the only way open to them is to go back along the road they have traversed, to the point where they took the wrong turning. If the Jews are not rendered harmless by means of special laws depriving them of that civil equality to which they have no right, nothing useful or lasting will be accomplished. In view of their presence in different countries and their unchangeable character of foreigners in every nation, of enemies of the people in every country that supports them, and of a society segregated from the societies amongst which they live; in view of the Talmudic moral code which they follow and the fundamental dogma of their religion which spurs them on to get hold of the possessions of all peoples by any means in their power, as, according to it, they are entitled to rule the world; in view of the fact that the experience of many centuries and our present experience have proved conclusively that the equality of civil rights with Christians, granted them in Christian states, has had for effect the oppression of Christians by them, it follows as a necessary consequence that the only way to safeguard the rights of Christians, where the Jews are permitted to dwell, is to regulate their sojourn by laws such that it will be impossible for them to injure Christians.

“This is what has been done in the past. This is what the Jews have been seeking to undo for the last hundred years. This is what will have to be done over again, sooner or later, whether one likes it or not. The position of power to which the laws inspired by the Revolution have raised them in our day is digging under their feet an abyss just as deep as the height to which they have ascended.

“It is certain that one of the signs of the end of the world foretold in Holy Scripture is the entrance of Israel into the One True Fold. But we are not convinced that there are indications of that conversion visible at present. This people scattered over the face of the earth … is today what it became after the destruction of Jerusalem, without a king, without a priesthood, without a temple, without a native land, and, at the same time, a most bitter enemy of the Name and of the Church of Jesus Christ, True God and True Man, crucified by their ancestors. We see no proofs, evident or otherwise, that it is likely to change for the better and welcome as its Saviour that Jesus Whom it put to death.”

Civiltà Cattolica, Rome, 1890

great posts stvin!! keep it up.
I'm tempted to place that quote from Civiltà Cattolica in my signature.
do it
Enlightening read!

Thanks for posting that, stvincentferrer.
You're welcome!

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