By Owen Chadwick
Continuous and occasionally heated curiosity is proven within the regulate by way of governments over records of their ownership, and within the time within which entry to them is denied - and never purely at the a part of the historians to whom the files are of major situation. Professor Chadwick summarises the sluggish institution of the papal documents right down to the start of the 19th century, after they have been carried off to Paris at the orders of Napolean. Their go back (for the main half) to Rome and the next background of the connection among their guardians and would-be clients supply a full of life narrative of human in addition to historic curiosity. the writer exhibits how a controversy constructed in the Vatican itself among the statesmen who needed rigourously to limit what was once published to the general public and the historians who sought after unfastened entry. this significant examine of the way new attitudes and strategies of historical past affected the Church is predicated upon the author's Herbert Hensley Henson Lectures in Oxford 1976, and may curiosity documentalists and basic readers in addition to ecclesiastical and basic historians.
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Extra info for Catholicism and History: The Opening of the Vatican Archives
He needed the qualities 39 CATHOLICISM AND HISTORY of an administrator. We have no evidence that he lacked these qualities. He had no time. One of the Austrians to whom he allowed copies of documents once wrote with an aggrieved air, * A writer is not suitable for a librarian. '16 The archives were not in good order. Until the French Revolution they were in fairly good order, as is proved by Garampi's catalogues. But from the move to Paris with the acquisition of many papers from religious houses, they had never recovered.
And his editions were somehow suspected of incompleteness not caused by inadvertent omission. The director of the archives of the French foreign ministry reported a case where two different sets of copies of Vatican originals existed, one set by Chateaubriand and the other set by Marini; and in Marini he found * suppressions of things which he thought could hurt the power of the Pope'. 1 Whether such omissions were inadvertent or not, cannot now be known. Marini did the best he could for the archives by his lights, over many years of service.
But in an age of science versus religion, where the truth about Galileo mattered, it would be a worse calamity if the present agents of the Church were seen to be suppressing, or were suspected of suppressing, documents which they were known to have under lock and key; and worse still, if scandals were widely believed and could be reduced by disclosing the authentic papers. Theiner was an eminent historian. Henri de l'Epinois's letter of thanks in 1867 proves that Theiner's motive in releasing the documents was not the quest for historical truth, but a desire to help the present reputation of the Church.
Catholicism and History: The Opening of the Vatican Archives by Owen Chadwick