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Tuesday, 1 March 2011

The Very Reverend Canon the Count Enrico di Campello and the Reformed Italian Catholic Church

Fr John Salter, in Chrysostom for Pascha 2011, writes:

When the Catholic Hierarchy was restored in England in 1850, it was called by Anglicans, particularly Anglo-Catholics, “The Italian Mission”. Some years later Dom Gregory Dix O.S.B., the Anglican Prior of Nashdom Benedictine Abbey, mischievously pointed out that the Church of England was the descendant of the Italian Mission, that was sent by Pope Gregory with Augustine at its head and which provided people with very Italianate names like Augustino, Anselmo and Teodoro and even Cosmo and so on, whereas the so-called “Italian Mission” based at Westminster Cathedral had such aggressively Anglo-Saxon names as Wiseman, Manning, Vaughan and Bourne et al.

What is much less well-known is the English Mission to Italy. This arose after the Oxford Movement and was due to the Anglicans looking for allies against Rome wherever they could be found. The Orthodox Churches provided one source of non-Roman Catholicism, but the establishment of the Old Catholic Churches after the definition of Papal Infallibility following Vatican I provided yet another group of non-Roman Christians who claimed to be Catholics. Furthermore,  they looked to the earlier schism of the Dutch Roman Catholics of the Old Hierarchy, which pre-dated Vatican I.

In Spain, the Primate of Ireland, the hereditary Baron Plunkett, had provided a group of disaffected Roman Catholics with a bishop (Dr. Cabrera), consecrated by Plunkett, and a bowdlerized liturgy that was part Book of Common Prayer and part bits of the Mozarabic Rite. The Pope had been accused of setting up altar against altar at Westminster, whilst Anglicans were ignoring the activities of Plunkett in the Iberian peninsula, who, although Primate of Ireland seemed to have acquired universal jurisdiction!

Encouraged by the Primate of Ireland’s schismatic activities the Anglo-Continental Society saw similar opportunities for a sort of Uniatism with Canterbury on the very doorstep of the Holy Father himself. The person they had in mind for spreading a "pure and primitive Catholicism" was no less than a Canon of St. Peter’s Basilica in Rome itself – the Very Reverend Canon the Count Enrico di Campello, the founder of the Italian Catholic Reformed Church. He was seen as a sort of ecclesiastical Garibaldi, promoting nationalism,unity and freedom. The organ of the Anglo-Continental Society, The Foreign Church Chronicle and Review, enthusiastically took up Count di Campello and his mission.

Enrico di Campello’s family was from the village of Campello near the archiepiscopal see city of Spoleto. He claimed that the family had come from the Scottish Highlands and that the name was really Campbell. He was the son of Count Solon di Campello and his wife, the former Baroness Clementina de'Zenardi. For social and also political reasons the family spent a great deal of time in Rome and it was in the Eternal City that Enrico was born on 15th November 1831. One of his godfathers was His Imperial Highness Prince Henry of Prussia, uncle of the Emperor William; and the baby was given the Italianized form of Henry, after the Hohenzollern prince.

Under the rule of Pio Nono, Count Solon di Campello held the post of a director of the Post Office in Rome, but in 1848 he threw his lot in with the revolutionaries, whilst the Pope fled to Gaeta, and a Republic was proclaimed in Rome on 5th February 1849. Count Solon was appointed Postmaster General. The young Republic was, however, strangled at birth; rule by the Cardinals was restored and Count Solon was arrested. However, on the return of the Pope to Rome, the Pope restored his liberty and his honours and dignities. But there was a price to pay and that was that he should provide a son for the priesthood. The lot fell on Enrico, then twenty-two years of age. He was taken up by Cardinal Serafin, a relative, who was very kind to him and saw him as becoming a "Prince of the Church" - a cardinal. He received all the minor orders then required before priestly ordination in 1854. On 2nd June 1855 in the Pope’s cathedral of St. John Lateran, he was ordained to the priesthood. The following day he celebrated his first mass with considerable splendour and a day later  kissed the Papal toe. But from the time he left his family to the day of his ordination to the priesthood, only a year had passed; and in those twelve months he had spent far more time in being ordained to the various orders than he had in training for the priesthood.

Yet his superiors were pressing for him to become a member of the Curia and to seek a political-ecclesiastical career in the service of the Holy See. The entrance to such a career lay via the Academy of Noble Ecclesiastics, that way led to Nuncio positions at foreign courts and the College of Cardinals. Pio Nono had close the Academy, because its moral tone did not come up to scratch. In 1850 His Holiness re-opened it with stricter regulations for studies and the conduct of the seminarians. Many of the young noblemen refused to enter on these new terms and the Pope had to relax them to some extent.

Father Enrico sought deeper education at the Gregorian University and studied under the Jesuits taking his degree of Doctor of Divinity, followed by a degree in law at the Lyceum of St Appolinarus.

Campello was a favourite of Pio Nono, and, at the early age of thirty, was made a canon of the basilica of Santa Maria Maggiore by the Pope. From Santa Maria he did a great deal of work with the poor and with children and young people. He refused to wear the purple soutane and his fellow canons nick-named him ‘The Black Canon’. The Pope got to hear of this and with his usual dry wit Pio Nono told him that he had never himself worn ‘Purple rags’, but it had not stopped him assuming the papal tiara!

The Pope was well aware that Enrico was having a tough time among the Canons of Santa Maria Maggiore and he moved him to a canonry at St Peter’s. It was very well remunerated, but tended to be a dead end job.
In 1881 Campello resigned and left the Vatican. He issued a statement of faith, which was made public not only in Rome but in London. He stated, “I accept whole and entire the faith of the Christian, Catholic, and Apostolic Church, which was formerly expressed in the ancient creed of Nicaea, and developed in conformity with the Divine revelation in the six Oecumenical Councils. I accept, in a word, that faith which the Catholic Church has always and everywhere taught, and which was by all received as divine. In conformity with this Catholic faith, I hold the sacred Hierarchy to be of Divine institution… I recognize in the Pope of Rome a certain moral influence, a primacy of universal love and solicitude, which primacy, however, by Divine institution of the Episcopate, gives him no other place than that of Primus inter equales. I reject at the same time every other attribute whatever, prerogative, title, whether of honour or of jurisdiction, in the Pope, and especially the decree of his personal infallibility, promulgated in the Vatican council of 1870…” This goes much
further in a Catholic direction than that of the Waldensian Church in Italy, which was much more reformed and sprang from the Reformation.

In the autumn of 1882 Campello, supported by many Anglicans, began to establish the Italian Catholic Reformed Church. He appealed to the Anglican Communion and was placed under the American Episcopal Bishop of Long Island, who was the Protestant Episcopal Church’s Foreign Secretary – Lambeth had no Foreign Relations desk in those days. The Bishop of Gibraltar had qualms about all this, for it smacked of proselytizing, a practice the Diocese if Gibraltar had always tried to avoid. This all came about as the result of Campello’s appeal to the Archbishop of Canterbury, Dr. Tait, to be placed under Episcopal supervision, after being feted by the Anglo-Continental Society, entertained by the Archbishops of Canterbury and York, and visiting various churches in the English countryside to see how country parsons ran their rural parishes.

Campello received this reply from Long Island:
In the name of the Father, and of the Son and of the Holy Ghost, Amen. Whereas the hundred Catholic Bishops assembled at Lambeth, England, in 1878, set forth the following declaration: ‘We gladly welcome every effort of reform upon the model of the Primitive Church; we do not demand a rigid uniformity; we deprecate needless divisions; but to those who are drawn to us in the endeavour to free themselves from the yoke of error and superstition, we are ready to offer all help, and such privileges as may be acceptable to them, and are consistent with the maintenance of our own principles as enunciated in our formularies’… ‘That the great primitive rule of the Catholic Church, “Epicopatus unus est, cujus a singulis in solidum pars tenetur”, imposes upon the episcopates of all National Churches, and upon the several bishops of the same, not the right only, but the duty also of protecting in the holding of that faith and the recovering of that order, those who have been deprived of both by the usurpation of the Bishop of Rome’.
And whereas, the priest, Enrico, Conte di Campello, has been cut off from his communion by the Bishop of Rome, because he refuses to teach or to hold as of the Catholic faith the false dogma which the Papacy has sought to impose upon the Catholic Church by the decrees of the Councils of Trent and of the Vatican:
And whereas, the said priest, Enrico, Conte di Campello has in this extremity appealed to the Catholic Episcopate of the Anglican Communion for ecclesiastical help and protection, in order that he may with due authority continue to labour for the preservation of the Catholic faith and the restoration of primitive order in the Church in Italy; and has given satisfactory evidence that he accepts whole and entire the Catholic faith as defined by the undivided Church; and has promised to reverently obey those who may be set canonical charge over him…
… Now. Therefore, I, Abram Newkirk Littlejohn, Bishop in the Church of God, do declare the excommunication and the anathemas pronounced against the said priest, Enrico, Conte di Campello, by the Bishop of Rome, to be utterly null and void; and I do recognize him as a priest of the Church of God…”
It goes on to authorize the usages of the Episcopal Church and the Latin Church, but di Campello did not remain long under the omophorion of the Bishop of Long Island; he was later placed under the care of the Bishop of Salisbury, who, like the Baron Plunkett, seems to have also assumed universal jurisdiction, in that he was able to place a tiny group of Umbrian schismatics in communion with a diocese in the West Country!
Count Enrico di Campello eventually disappears from the somewhat troubled scene of European Church life. Some of his clerical followers returned to the Roman obedience and it is said that he did so himself. Understandably he did not seek reception into the Waldensian Church, but he could have sought communion with the Old Catholics; but they may have retained too much of the Romanita for his liking; whereas, in those days, the Anglican Communion was not “Latinized”. Shortly after his establishing friendship with the Church of England, Pope Leo XIII, Pio Nono’s successor, pronounced Anglican Orders “utterly null and … void” in Apostolicae Curae in 1896. Anglicans of a Catholic frame of mind, such as Viscount Halifax, were outraged and sought alliances with any group that could be considered Catholic and National. But if Leo XIII had recognized Anglican Orders as equal with his own Church’s orders it would have split the Church of England from top to bottom, since, in the last decade of the 19th century, most Anglicans did not believe in the priesthood as understood in the Roman Catholic Church, and several Anglican bishops, including Ronald and Wilfred Knox’s father, the Bishop of Manchester, said Pope Leo was right in condemning Anglican Orders as not being the same as his own.

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