[TO THE VENTIAN ENVOY]
SPEECH OF PIUS II
At the intercession of the Venetian Senate we promised peace to Domenico. We recognized you as mediator in the Senate's place. Among the terms of peace the chief was that if Domenico died without male issue the states which he had received from the Church whether in fief or as vicariate should revert to the Church. You approved this condition. It was approved also by Domenico's agents though there was some disagreement about the method of enforcing it. Meantime the Senate buys Cervia from a man who cannot sell it. One obstacle is the nature of a fief, another is its confiscation on account of rebellion, another is the controversy now pending, another the apostolic letter of investiture which forbids any alienation, another is honor itself. We are discussing in regard to Cervia and others of Malatesta's states how they shall return to the Church after his death. We are discussing this with the Venetians and while we are consulting together the Venetians seize Cervia. Truly a noble act! Behold the integrity of the Senate! Behold the glory of the Venetian republic!
Is this the way you keep faith? Is this your regard for honor? If Jacopo Piccinimo, whose honor has often been sold, if the greatest pirate or brigand to be found in all Italy had assumed the role of mediator between Domenico and us, he would never in the world have been guilty of the disgrace of seizing a town which was the subject of discussion. He would have feared infamy, he would have feared people's talk, he would have feared the name of traitor. But the Venetians are moved by none of these things. The republic is a sluggish thing. It does not know the meaning of shame It does not blush or grow pale or feel embarrassment. It presents always the same countenance and that insolent and shameless. They measure honor by the decree of the Senate, not by right reasoning. What the Senate approves is holy even though it is opposed to the Gospel. Divine law is abrogated by the decrees of the Senate.
"Cervix furnished salt secretly to the Ferrarese. That reduced our income from taxes. We considered how to secure our indemnity. Therefore we shall not be defrauded if Cervia is bought!" Fine reasoning indeed! You seek your own gain at another's loss. Your cause is one with that of thieves and robbers and rests on expediency. On that basis anything that men do may be approved. What man in his senses does not defend his acts by some sort of expediency? The slavedealer and the harlot are in pursuit of gain. You have been considering how much your state would gain, not how much loss you would inflict on the Church of Rome.
There is no limit to your avarice or your ambition. It does not matter whether you amass wealth justly or unjustly provided you amass it and neither right nor wrong stands in the way of your extending the boundaries of your empire. Honor follows in the train of power. God in Heaven you despise. The state is your god. You worship this and abandon the Creator of the universe. This god of yours will perish, I say will perish! Do not think it is immortal. The Athenians were greater than you, so were the Spartans, so were the Carthaginians, yet they perished utterly because y were unjust. No power was ever greater than the Roman Empire and yet God overthrew it because it was impious and He put in its place the priesthood because it respected divine law. Rome became a sacerdotal city and the greater part of Italy became the patrimony of St. Peter, who keeps the keys of eternal life, and of his successors.
All kings and emperors bow before the Pope of Rome as the Vicar of Jesus Christ and kiss his feet and you Venetians spurn the Church of Rome and encroach upon its rights and possessions. You defy its mandates and censures and you think your republic will last forever. It will not last forever nor for long. Your populace so wickedly gathered together will soon be scattered abroad. The offscourings of fishermen will be exterminated. A mad state cannot long stand. Your power is wasting away. A state attacked in its youth by most foul and incurable diseases will not live to be old. Within the memory of our fathers Venetian justice was rated very high. The state was held to be virtuous and temperate and devoted to religion. In our age all piety, all temperance, all regard for justice has disappeared. In their place have come avarice, greed, ambition, envy, cruelty, lust, and all wickedness. With such a character you cannot stand. An empire built on evil foundations must crash. You will pay the penalty for your crimes and your mockery of the Church of Rome will not go unpunished. You are powerful now and insult your mother. You are haughty while favoring winds fill your sails, but the breeze will change. Do not trust the gale. There are those in Heaven above who are mindful of right and wrong. God does not disregard the doings of men. He cares for His creation and He hates all iniquity. You cannot escape His arm. When you think your empire is most firmly established then sudden and unlooked-for calamity will overwhelm you and divine justice will utterly destroy you.