Skip to content
Catholic Online Logo

("It is not expedient").

Words with which the Holy See enjoined upon Italian Catholics the policy of abstention from the polls in parliamentary elections. This policy was adopted after a period of uncertainty and of controversy which followed the promulgation of the Constitution of the Kingdom of Italy (1861), and which was intensified by laws hostile to the Church and, especially, to the religious orders (1865-66). To this uncertainty the Holy Penitentiary put an end by its decree of 29 February, 1868, in which, in the above words, it sanctioned the motto; "Neither elector nor elected". Until then there had been in the Italian Parliament a few eminent representatives of Catholic interests–Vito d'Ondes Reggio, Augusto Conti, Cesare Cantù, and others. The principal motive of this decree was that the oath taken by deputies might be interpreted as an approval of the spoliation of the Holy See, as Pius IX declared in an audience of 11 October, 1874. A practical reason for it, also, was that, in view of the electoral law of that day, by which the electorate was reduced to 650,000, and as the Government manipulated the elections to suit its own purposes, it would have been hopeless to attempt to prevent the passage of anti-Catholic laws. On the other hand, the masses seemed unprepared for parliamentary government, and as, in the greater portion of Italy (Parma, Modena, Tuscany, the Pontifical States, and the Kingdom of Naples ), nearly all sincere Catholics were partizans of the dispossessed princes, they were liable to be denounced as enemies of Italy ; they would also have been at variance with the Catholics of Piedmont and of the provinces wrested from Austria, and this division would have further weakened the Catholic Parliamentary group.

As might be expected, this measure did not meet with universal approval; the so-called Moderates accused the Catholics of failing in their duty to society and to their country. In 1882, the suffrage having been extended, Leo XIII took into serious consideration the partial abolition of the restrictions established by the Non Expedit, but nothing was actually done (cf. "Archiv für kathol. Kirchenrecht", 1904, p. 396). On the contrary, as many people came to the conclusion that the decree Non Expedit was not intended to be absolute, but was only an admonition made to apply upon one particular occasion, the Holy Office declared (30 Dec., 1886) that the rule in question implied a grave precept, and emphasis was given to this fact on several subsequent occasions (Letter of Leo XIII to the Cardinal Secretary of State, 14 May, 1895; Congregation of Extraordinary Affairs, 27 January, 1902; Pius X, Motu proprio, 18 Dec., 1903). Later Pius X, by his encyclical "Il fermo proposito" (11 June, 1905) modified the Non Expedit, declaring that, when there was question of preventing the election of a "subversive" candidate, the bishops could ask for a suspension of the rule, and invite the Catholics to hold themselves in readiness to go to the polls. (See M ARGOTTI, G IACOMO ).


More Encyclopedia

The Catholic Encyclopedia is the most comprehensive resource on Catholic teaching, history, and information ever gathered in all of human history. This easy-to-search online version was originally printed in fifteen hardcopy volumes.

Catholic Encyclopedia

Designed to present its readers with the full body of Catholic teaching, the Encyclopedia contains not only precise statements of what the Church has defined, but also an impartial record of different views of acknowledged authority on all disputed questions, national, political or factional. In the determination of the truth the most recent and acknowledged scientific methods are employed, and the results of the latest research in theology, philosophy, history, apologetics, archaeology, and other sciences are given careful consideration.

No one who is interested in human history, past and present, can ignore the Catholic Church, either as an institution which has been the central figure in the civilized world for nearly two thousand years, decisively affecting its destinies, religious, literary, scientific, social and political, or as an existing power whose influence and activity extend to every part of the globe. In the past century the Church has grown both extensively and intensively among English-speaking peoples. Their living interests demand that they should have the means of informing themselves about this vast institution, which, whether they are Catholics or not, affects their fortunes and their destiny.

Copyright © Catholic Encyclopedia. Robert Appleton Company New York, NY. Volume 1: 1907; Volume 2: 1907; Volume 3: 1908; Volume 4: 1908; Volume 5: 1909; Volume 6: 1909; Volume 7: 1910; Volume 8: 1910; Volume 9: 1910; Volume 10: 1911; Volume 11: - 1911; Volume 12: - 1911; Volume 13: - 1912; Volume 14: 1912; Volume 15: 1912

Catholic Online Catholic Encyclopedia Digital version Compiled and Copyright © Catholic Online

Newsletters

Newsletter Sign Up icon

Stay up to date with the latest news, information, and special offers

Daily Readings

Reading 1, Ephesians 6:10-20
10 Finally, grow strong in the Lord, with the ... Read More

Psalm, Psalms 144:1, 2, 9-10
1 [Of David] Blessed be Yahweh, my rock, who trains ... Read More

Gospel, Luke 13:31-35
31 Just at this time some Pharisees came up. 'Go ... Read More

Saint of the Day

Saint of the Day for October 30th, 2014 Image

St. Alphonsus Rodriguez
October 30: Confessor and Jay brother, also called Alonso. He was born in ... Read More

Inform, Inspire & Ignite Logo

Find Catholic Online on Facebook and get updates right in your live feed.

Become a fan of Catholic Online on Facebook


Follow Catholic Online on Twitter and get News and Product updates.

Follow us on Twitter