In 1852 King Victor Emmanuel’s ministers proposed legislation to recognize civil marriages in the Kingdom of Sardinia (Piedmont). This proposal was opposed by Pope Pius IX and other Catholic apologists who argued that it would result in undermining the official status of the Catholic Church and one of the church’s sacraments. Even worse it would mean that Jewish and Protestant marriages would be recognized. This legislation coincided with Mormon missionaries proselytizing in Torino and the public announcement that the church practiced polygamy. Catholic opponents of this legislation argued that even Mormon polygamous marriages would be recognized if the legislation passed. During fierce debates that took place Catholic apologists also claimed that Mormons formed alliances with other Protestant “sects” to push through the civil marriage litigation. The specter of Mormon plural marriages in a civil marriage system continued to be mentioned until civil marriages were finally recognized in 1865.

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