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The first vindication and new accusations
'I never cease to thank our Lord for making me understand this consoling truth'
After his return to Stresa, the two books being put on the Index allowed his adversaries to break their silence. The Memoriale, with its incriminating texts, was now ready and was sent to the Pope in April 1850 signed by some twenty bishops. In December of the same year two examiners, charged with checking the orthodoxy of the texts, came out in favour of don Antonio.
This sentence of acquittal, however, was made fruitless by another anonymous book, entitled Lettere di un Prete Bolognese [Letters of a Priest from Bologna], in circulation from the preceding summer, which levelled new accusations against his works especially the theological and moral ones.
A really all out anti-Rosminian campaign was organized, and carried out in print with a view to influencing public opinion. Besides the alleged heresies, he was accused of having liberal ideas, of wanting to make Italy a protestant country, and of having manipulated deceitfully Gregory XVI’s eulogy about him in the approval of the Institute. They even had recourse to direct pressure on the Pope with the object of destroying the esteem and kindness which he showed to the accused. Rumours of the certain condemnation of all his works were purposely spread in major Italian and European cities
At this point, at the express wish of don Antonio, Pius IX ordered an examination of all his works with the aim of finally clarifying the matter. The examination lasted a good four years.
It was a time of real martyrdom for don Antonio, and at the same time an opportunity to thank the Lord. While the examination was taking place he wrote: “The thought that everything that happens is the will of God is so satisfying that it suffices to make us completely serene and calm (…) I never cease to thank our Lord for making me understand this consoling truth, and I feel so happy in my humiliation that I would not want to leave it, unless to make a new act of union with the divine will.”
The trial was so much more painful because he felt the grave harm which came to the Institute as a consequence. But he understood that the Lord required him to suffer also as “father” of a religious family. In fact he wrote: “Only one thing gives me some anxiety and that is to see the serious damage that is done to the Institute of Charity, whose superior is treated thus, still awaiting judgement in a case that is the talk of the whole world, who is in a cloud of suspicion, nor, from what they tell me, is it likely that the matter will be concluded for a long time yet, rather it is probable that it will be drawn out indefinitely. God knows the times and the moments, and therefore I shall never cease to bless him even for that.”
Of the five examiners of Rosmini’s works, only one did not subscribe to the complete orthodoxyof the author. They then had recourse to another expert, who in his turn, overthrew the accusations of the latter, declaring the works of don Antonio to be above reproach. At this point the question could have been accepted as concluded. Instead, no. As a proof of his impartiality, the Pope charged two other theologians to re-examine all the works from the beginning. The silence firmly imposed during the examination was freely violated by his adversaries. All kinds of stratagems were employed to rig the verdict, including initiating a new Memoriale against Rosmini. It was more than ever clear to the Pope that the accused was the object of unacceptable prejudice and persecution.