When all countries lived under absolutist governments, the Churches enjoyed a much closer relationship with the State than they do in democratic societies. The Church happily accommodated some of the cruellest rulers in history.
In recent centuries the Roman Church has always favoured authoritarian regimes that have allowed it privileges, while opposing liberal and democratic governments that have not. For example, in 1862 Pius IX concluded a concordat with the right-wing Roman Catholic President of Ecuador, who had achieved power through a coup against the liberal government. Roman Catholicism was to be the only religion permitted and was to be given a dominant role in the country’s affairs. The Church was granted total control of education. This was the sort of arrangement that the Church would try to emulate wherever it could.
As it still does today, the Church felt itself competent to give direction on political matters. Pius IX forbade Roman Catholics from engaging in Italy’s new democratic process, either as candidates or voters. Pius’s successor, Leo XIII (pope 1878-1903), was a keen critic of socialism and other political theories.
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