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Pope Pius IX

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Pope Pius IX (Pio Nono) was born Giovanni Maria Mastai-Ferretti.  During his long pontificate (1846-1878), Pius IX both initiated and witnessed several important changes, both spiritual and temporal.  In 1849, Pius was forced to flee Rome became a Republic, but soon returned under the protection of French troops.  In 1860, the Papal States were annexed by the newly created Kingdom of Italy, reducing the political power of the Pope to the tiny square mile of Vatican City.

Pope Pius IX

In spiritual matters, Pius IX called for a general conference of the Church in 1869 (Vatican I).  The first Vatican Council is important for publishing the Decree of Papal Infallibility, which holds that the Pope, when defining a Church doctrine on a matter of faith, cannot be in error.  Pius IX had, in 1854, issued the first infallible Catholic doctrine: that of the Immaculate Conception of the Virgin Mary.

Prior to the time of Augustine, Catholic doctrine made a distinction between the stages of pregnancy, with termination permitted before the fetus assumed a human shape.  This was largely predicated on the Augustinian concept contending that the soul could not live in a body that had not acquired human characteristics, and the termination of an early pregnancy was therefore not murder.  In 1869, Pius IX abandoned this position in favor of the belief that had developed in the sixteenth century of simultaneous animation, which contended that the soul enters the body at the time of conception, regardless of the appearance of the fetus.

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