The Eldest Daughter of the Church was fortunate in having an indulgent father. The fact that Leo XIII’s francophilism was far from disinterested was an added advantage; mere fatherly affection might not have produced such generous favours. This former Archbishop-Bishop of Perugia, Cardinal Gioacchino Pecci, was eminently a man of common sense. A scholar, of considerable culture, he combined breadth of knowledge with a sturdy sense of what was politically possible. His errors and his blind-spots were mainly rooted in an over-optimistic nature, which assumed too often that what was self-evident to him was equally apparent to others. A patrician of the Roman campagna he had the limited perspectives of a man of his time, most of whose life had been spent in the genial but hierarchic atmosphere of the Papal States, where spiritual and material influence often went hand in hand. Nevertheless he succeeded in transcending many of the instincts and prejudices of a man of his milieu. And more than most of his curial colleagues, he realised that a church without understanding for the aspirations of modern society would forfeit much of its influence.1
KeywordsTrade Treaty Olive Branch Curial Colleague Dreyfus Affair Obsessive Quality
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