On 5th August, 1898, Pope Leo XIII issued his Encyclical Letter Spesse Volte on the suppression of Catholic Institutions in Italy:
"4. After the downfall of the civil power of the Popes the Catholic Church in Italy was gradually robbed of her elements of life and action as well as of her native secular influence in public and social life. By a progressive series of systematized oppressions the monasteries and convents were closed; by the confiscation of ecclesiastical property the greater part of the patrimony of the Church was taken away; military service was imposed on the clergy; the freedom of the sacred ministry was shackled by unjust exceptions. Persistent efforts were made to deprive all public institutions of their religious and Christian character; dissident religions were favoured; and whilst the widest liberty was given to the masonic sects, intolerance and odious repression were reserved for the one religion which was ever the glory, the stay and the strength of the Italian people."
"5. We have never failed to deplore these grave and reiterated outrages. We deplored them on account of the danger to which they exposed our holy religion, and we deplored them too, and we say this from Our heart, on behalf of our country, for religion is a source of a nation's prosperity and greatness and the principal foundation of all well ordered society. Religious feelings raise and ennoble the soul and instil into it notions of justice and honesty, and when they are weakened men fall away and abandon themselves to their savage instincts and to the pursuit of material interests. The logical outcome of this is bitterness, dissension, depravity, strife and the disturbance of the public peace - evils which will find no certain or effective remedy in the severity of the law, the rigours of the courts, or the employment of armed force.
"6. In letters addressed to the people of Italy We have more than once warned those on whom falls the serious responsibility of power of this natural and necessary connection between religious decadence and the development of the spirit of revolution and disorder. We have also drawn attention to the inevitable progress of socialism and anarchy and to the endless evil to which they expose the nation."