Council Of The Vatican, the 20th oecumenical council according to the Roman Catholic church, convened Dec. 8, 1869. The design of calling a general council was first intimated in a consistorial address of Pius IX., delivered June 26, 1867, to the prelates assembled in Rome to celebrate the 18th centenary of the martyrdom of St. Peter and St. Paul. The prelates, in a joint answer presented to the pope on July 1, expressed the wish that he would soon execute his design. On June 6 a circular had been prepared by Cardinal Caterini, prefect of "the congregation of the council (of Trent)," containing a schedule of IT important points of church discipline and morality on which, as well as on others suggested to the bishops from personal observation, an examination was requested with an answer within four months. The points submitted regarded principally the sacredness of Christian matrimony; the tone required in preaching, and the care to base all pulpit instruction on revealed truth; the importance of securing Christian influences in schools; the necessity of a more elevated preparatory training in ecclesiastical seminaries, and the means of encouraging higher culture in sacred and profane knowledge among the priesthood; the policy of encouraging the multiplication of religious associations bound only by simple vows; how to provide worthy incumbents for vacant episcopal and parochial offices, and how to regulate the exercise of episcopal authority over the inferior clergy.
Most bishops communicated this document to their priests; and thus the whole Catholic world was already preparing for the approaching council when the bull of indiction, Aeterni Patris, was issued, June 29, 1868, appointing the council to open in the Vatican basilica, Dec. 8, 1869. For the first time in the history of general councils, no invitation was extended to any of the European governments; only the bull of convocation expressed the hope that the various governments would leave the bishops free to attend. The Russian bishops alone were not allowed this freedom. On Sept. 8, 1868, the pope addressed a letter of invitation to the bishops of all the oriental churches not in communion with Rome; and on Sept. 13 he issued the letters apostolic, Jam vos omnes noveritis, to "all Protestants and non-Catholics," exhorting them " to consider whether they were walking in the way commanded by Christ and leading to eternal salvation." The Greek Orthodox church returned no answer, though a few of its bishops manifested a desire to accept the pope's invitation. The Armenian patriarch, Boghos, accepted, and induced several of his associates to do so; but he was forced to resign his office in consequence.
In the Protestant world, the grounds on which the pope based his appeal were denounced as an unwarranted assumption of right. In Germany Reinhold Baumstark of Constance and Wolfgang Menzel of Stuttgart, editor of the Ziteraturblatt, were among the few who spoke favorably of the invitation to Protestants. In England Dr. Cumming, in the name of the church of Scotland, inquired whether Protestants would be permitted to present to the council arguments in support of their position toward the church of Rome, and the pope replied, on Sept. 4 and Oct. 30, that while no discussion could be permitted of doctrinal questions already defined, he was sincerely desirous of meeting all who believe that their separation is based on solid reasons, by referring them for consultation to the most eminent and prudent theologians selected by himself. No special appeal having been made to the Jewish people, two converts of that race, the brothers Joseph and Auguste Lemann of Lyons, published La question duMessie et le concile du Vatican, which the pope praised in a brief; a further petition, presented by the authors to the council itself, requesting that the Jews should be specially invited, produced no response. - A congregation of cardinals, assisted by theologians representing the principal Catholic countries, was appointed immediately after the publication of the bull of indiction, to take in hand the general work of preparation.
To this were adjoined six commissions, on ceremonies, on ecclesiastical policy, on oriental churches and missions, on religious orders, on dogmatic theology, and on church discipline, respectively, each presided over by one of the seven cardinals. Up to the opening of the council no place was given to the doctrine of pontifical infallibility on the schemata or programmes submitted to the congregations and commissions; but from the first indiction of the council, the religious as well as the political press began to discuss the opportuneness as well as the danger of making this doctrine an article of faith. In France, Belgium, Holland, and Germany (where many of the bishops and inferior clergy had been taught the Gallican views of papal prerogatives, and where the majority of statesmen and lawyers upheld extreme Gallican principles concerning the superiority of a general council to the pope, the absolute independence of the state of all spiritual authority, and the right of national churches to regulate their own temporal affairs) all the controversies of the middle of the 17th century were revived. The Jansenists, who were numerous in Holland, and influential though few in France and Germany, were foremost in their attacks on the ultramontanes.
Napoleon III. was personally in favor of holding the council, and not opposed to a definition of the received doctrine on infallibility; but the leading members of the French government were known to be hostile to both projects. The Austrian government thought the revival of this controversy untimely and perilous; while at Munich the prime minister, Prince Hohenlohe, and his associates followed the impulse given them by Dollinger; and a circular, now known to be the work of the latter, was addressed by Bavaria, April 9, 1869, to the Roman Catholic courts, calling their attention to the projects entertained by the promoters of the council. " The only dogmatic thesis," the circular affirmed, " which Rome wishes to have decided by the council, and which the Jesuits are now agitating throughout Italy and Germany, is the question of pontifical infallibility. This pretension, once become a dogma, will evidently have a wider scope than the purely spiritual sphere, and will become eminently a political question; for it will raise the power of the sovereign pontiff, even in temporal matters, above all the princes and peoples of Christendom." In June a second circular from Prince Hohenlohe invited the governments to unite in preventing the meeting of the council.
This was seconded by the Italian prime minister, Menabrea; and a joint note from Italy and Bavaria urged Napoleon III. to withdraw his troops from Rome during the sitting of the council. The Bavarian ministry addressed a series of questions to the theological faculty of the university, regarding the embarrassments likely to ensue between church and state if the teaching of the syilabus were made a doctrine of faith. These questions were discussed throughout Germany. The answer of the faculty, though guarded on the main doctrinal points, was unfavorable to the infallibilist view, and arraigned the Jesuits for revolutionizing the public and private teaching of the church. The publication of this answer increased the opposition to the council, and Bavaria sent to the courts of southern Germany a circular urging them to address a similar series of questions to their respective universities. Simultaneously with this an address embodying the most formidable objections to the ultramontane doctrines in general, and in particular against the syllabus, as well as the opportuneness of any new dogmatic definitions, was printed in the principal European languages, and sent to all the members of the Roman Catholic hierarchy.
This was the work of a committee of laymen, who had their centre of action at Coblentz. Another document, known as the "Coblentz Address," was at the same time published in that city, purporting to be a lay remonstrance to the archbishop of Treves on the proposed action of the council, and submitting a large plan of church reform, the chief points of which were afterward embraced in the changes advocated by the Old Catholics. They demanded that the coming council should decree the separation of the church from the state, the government of parishes by local boards, that of dioceses by diocesan synods, that of national churches by national councils, the nomination of bishops by the people, the suppression of the Index Expurgatorius, etc. An identical address signed principally by laymen, which obtained the assent and support of the faculties of the leading German universities, was presented to other bishops. Count Montalembert from bis deathbed adhered by letter to the Coblentz address. The Vienna Neue freie Presse of June 16 denounced the agitation as a conspiracy having its centre in Munich, and Dr. Döllinger for its promoter.
In France the periodical Correspondant advocated the views of the German opposition, but was combated by Louis Veuillot in the Univers, by Laurentie in the Union, by the Tijd of Amsterdam, and by the Catholique of Brussels. As the time for the meeting of the council approached and the discussions of the public journals increased in vehemence, MM. Baroche, Rouher, Daru, and others, by their speeches in the senate and their published correspondence, reechoed the fears expressed by the statesmen, journalists, and theologians of Germany. The series of letters on papal prerogatives that appeared in the Augsburg Allgemeine Zeitung in March, reappeared in a more elaborate form at Leipsic in the anonymous book Der Papst und das Concil, by "Janus," and this was supplemented by Die Reform der römischen Kirehe in Haupt und Gliedem. The bishops of Germany met at Fulda in September, and signed a joint pastoral letter, in which they pronounced groundless the fears about the supposed dangers to the constitution of the church, to her legitimate relations with the civil power, to the happiness and liberty of peoples, and to the just rights of science and civilization.
They repelled the motive attributed to Pius IX. of wishing to make himself an absolute monarch, the infallible arbiter of doctrines as well as of temporal interests, and of laboring to be the head of a controlling and tyrannical party in the church. Bishop Maret, dean of the theological faculty of the Sorbonne, published in September Du concile general et de la paix religieuse (2 vols.), which was dedicated to the pope, but advocated the purest Gallicanism, and was heralded by the praise of the liberal press, and by a violent controversy between the bishop and the Univers, the leading ultramontane journal. This work was either repudiated or condemned by all but three or four of the French bishops. Between Bishop Dupanloup of Orleans, on the one hand, and Archbishops (afterward Cardinals) Dechamp of Mechlin and Manning of Westminster, a public correspondence took place just as the prelates of all countries were taking their departure for Rome. In November Archbishop Darboy of Paris, who had publicly taught as professor the doctrine of papal infallibility, but was opposed to the opportuneness of a conciliary definition, reproduced the main points of the circular issued from Fulda, in a pastoral letter, which produced a deep impression. - On Nov. 27, 1869, the pope published the official letter, Multipliees inter, establishing the order to be fol lowed in the celebration and deliberations of the council.
In this he repeats the chief reasons for holding it: the extirpation of error, providing a remedy for the ills of the church, the reform of morals, and the restoration of discipline. Three other points are deserving of notice: the right and manner of proposing any matter to the council, the manner of proceeding in general congregation or committee of the whole, and the ceremonial of the solemn or public sessions to be held in presence of the pope himself. As to the first, every bishop has a right to make a proposition to the council; but this must be in accordance with the common teaching of the church, and be previously submitted to the special committee or congregation charged with examining such propositions. If approved by the committee, it is referred to the pope, who decides on the opportuneness of bringing it before the council. As to the second, it is decreed that the doctrinal or disciplinary schemata or resolutions drawn up during the 18 previous months by the preparatory commissions shall be distributed among the members of the council in good time before the general congregations; that four deputations or special committees shall be established by the council, on faith, church discipline, religious orders, and oriental rites, each to consist of 24 members elected by ballot in the council; that in every general congregation, after discussing the matters prepared and submitted, a vote shall be taken thereon, and decrees adopted to be promulgated afterward in public session; in these, after the reading of the decrees thus prepared, the votes of all the members present shall be taken and counted before the pontifical throne, in presence of the pope, who will then sanction them.
On Dec. 2 a prosynodal or preparatory assembly of all the prelates present in Rome was held, the pope presiding. On the evening of the 7th Pius IX. with a numerous cortege went to the church of the Apostles to inaugurate nine days of public prayer for the divine light on the approaching deliberations. With the first break of day on the 8tb, the artillery of the castle of Sant' Angelo and the bells of all the churches in Rome pealed forth. By 6 o'clock the naves of St. Peter were filled, as well as the piazza and the streets leading to it. At 9 the head of the procession began to appear on the square; and more than an hour elapsed before it could reach the left arm of the transept, which had been partitioned off and furnished as the council hall. Mass was celebrated by Cardinal Patrizzi, vice dean of the sacred college, and Bishop Fessler of St. Pölten in Austria, secretary of the council, then placed the book of the Gospels on a throne prepared for it on the altar; the archbishop of Iconium and vicar of the Vatican basilica, Puecher-Passavalli, a determined inopportunist, preached the opening sermon, and an hour was consumed by the members in paying the prescribed homage to the pope.
After appropriate devotional services all who had not a right to be present at the proceedings of the session left the council hall. Two decrees only were promulgated, the one declaring the oecumenical council of the Vatican duly opened, and the other appointing the next public session to be held on Jan. 6, 1870. There were present 49 cardinals, 9 patriarchs, 4 primates, 123 archbishops, 481 bishops, 6 privileged abbots, 22 abbots general, and 29 superiors general of religious orders; in all, 723 members of the council by right or by invitation. Seven general congregations were held between Dec. 8 and Jan. 6, and were employed both in discussing the prepared schemata and in electing the members of the four deputations called for in the letters apostolic of Nov. 27. The deliberations on schemata began on Dec. 30, and were confined to questions of discipline. It became clear in the first days of January that among the persons connected with the various deputations and commissions, there were a few who did not scruple to violate the oath of secrecy; and in spite of an admonition to the members of the council, the Augsburg "Gazette" continued to publish letters from its Roman correspondent professing to describe the most secret transactions of the committees.
Still no place was given in the schemata to the question of infallibility at the beginning of March. Two memoirs presented to the members of the council about this time brought the question of opportuneness to a crisis. The first, bearing no date or printer's name, was entitled Postulata a pluribus Galliarum Episcopis Sanctissimo D. nostro Pio Papoe IX. et Sacrosancto Concilio Vaticano reverenter proposita, and concluded with the demand "that no new definitions of faith should be made, except such as were absolutely necessary." The names of the French bishops were not mentioned, but the document was freely circulated among them. The second memoir was a postulatum signed by 40 prelates of various countries, asking for a formal and explicit definition of the pope's infallibility while exercising his teaching office toward the entire church; and on March 6 it was officially announced that the commission on postulata had recommended and the pope had approved action on this petition, and that a special chapter on this subject should be introduced into the schema of the forthcoming constitution "On the Church of Christ." The first discussion on infallibility was fixed for March 18, and the prelates who intended to speak on it in general congregation sent in their names.
Meanwhile the French minister of foreign affairs, Count Daru, yielding to the pressure of other governments, wrote to Count de Banneville, the French ambassador in Rome, calling the attention of the pontifical government to the consequences likely to arise from the publication of certain doctrinal decrees on the church and the Roman pontiff, the schemata of which had appeared in the Augsburg " Gazette." To this Cardinal Antonelli replied, March 19, that the proposed doctrinal decrees contained only a simple exposition of the fundamental principles on which the church reposes; that they had been again and again insisted on in preceding general councils; that they were especially developed in well known papal constitutions, etc. In the 36th general congregation, March 29, the prooemium and first chapter of the schema on faith were unanimously adopted in the form ultimately given to them by the deputation, and all the chapters were adopted before April 12, when the entire schema was put to the vote, every bishop rising in turn, and saying Placet or Non placet, or Placet juxta modum (this last formula implying that he dissented on a part of the matter decreed, or in the mode of formulating it); 595 prelates voted, of whom 515 voted placet and 80 placet juxta modum.
The third solemn session was appointed for April 24. More than 100 amendments or modifications were submitted; but only two were adopted by the deputation on faith, and voted on in the general congregation of April 19. In the solemn session of April 24 the pope ordered that the proceedings should be made as public as possible; the doors of the council hall remained open throughout, and the partitions and enclosures concealing it from the crowd outside were temporarily removed. The constitution "On Catholic Faith," Dei Filius, was presented to the pope by Bishop Fessler, and read from the ambon. The vote being taken, 667 members answered to their names, all assenting to the constitution. The constitution "On Catholic Faith" purposes to affirm the existence' of the supernatural revealed order, as opposed to rationalism and naturalism. The schema of a first constitution "On the Church" had been adopt/ed by the "deputation on faith" long before the month of April. The theologians intrusted with its preparation had followed the method usually adopted in schools and works on theology; they had embraced all that relates to the institution of the church and its members, before treating of its head and the prerogatives and duties attached to his office.
The outside pres-' sure of the prevailing angry discussions caused the council to intervert this order, and to treat of the head of the church and his office from the very beginning. The opportuneness of a definition of the pontifical authority in teaching was deemed evident by the majority; and this once admitted, it became necessary to hasten the work while the council had not decreased in numbers, and before the oppressive heat of summer began. At this juncture the members of the council were divided on infallibility into three classes, the first in favor of an immediate discussion and definition, the second strenuously opposing the introduction of the question, and the third seeking a middle way by obtaining an indirect and implied definition through the condemnation of all errors adverse to the pontifical prerogatives. A postulatum in favor of this middle course had been drawn up before the opening of the council by Archbishop Spalding of Baltimore, and was favored by many American prelates; but it was never presented to the proper deputation, and its author and promoters soon joined the first class.
Such an indirect definition was, however, perseveringly advocated throughout by Archbishop Darboy of Paris. The second class, or opposition proper, was led by Bishops Dupanloup of Orleans and Strossmayer of Bosnia and Sirmia. In the first class, forming the great majority in the council, there was no one leader. On April 29 the Italian bishops addressed to the council and the pope a collective letter, begging that all other matters should give way to the discussion on infallibility. The same day the deputation on faith referred the matter to the pope, who instantly ordered that the chapters " on the primacy and magisterium or teaching office of the Roman pontiff" should take precedence of all others. The discussion on the general question began May 14, and was concluded on June 3. It occupied 15 private sessions of four hours each, and was followed by the special discussion on each chapter, thus affording the opposition an opportunity for renewing their objections. On May 17 all the members of the council received an anonymous pamphlet addressed Soils Episcopis (to bishops only), and proposing the consideration of questions as to the sinfulness of concurring in a definition not clearly founded on Scripture and tradition.
This, together with the publication in May of Ce qui se passe au concile, and toward the end of June of La dernière heure du concile, confirmed the determination of the majority. In the general discussion 65 members were heard, nearly all their discourses touching on the fourth chapter, that on infallibility; in the special discussion on the separate chapter, closed on July 4, 56 members spoke on this same subject, and 60 whose names were inscribed renounced their right to speak. More than half of the speakers were inopportunists. On July 11 the vote was taken on the amendments submitted in writing; and on the 13th the constitution Pastor Aeternus, embodying the entire matter discussed, amended and adopted, was put to the vote in a general congregation. There were present 601 members, of whom 451 voted placet, 62 placet juxta modum, and 88 non placet. On July 15 a deputation composed of the primate of Hungary, the archbishops of Paris and Munich, and the bishops of Mentz and Dijon, had an audience of the pope, and demanded that the words nixus testimonio ecclesiarum should be inserted in the decree after the words cum ex cathedra loquitur, thus making the official infallibility depend on the previously ascertained testimony of each diocese.
As the pope declined to entertain this demand, the prelates wrote him a joint letter, informing him that they persisted in their convictions, and begged permission to return home. On July 17 a letter to the pope, signed by 54 prelates, urged him to interfere at the very last moment and save the church from irreparable evils, by adjourning the council till October, and thereby postponing final action on the question of infallibility. This letter, believed by the signers to be confidential, was not intended for the pope, but was despatched in all haste and printed by the Gazette de France July 20, and by the Augsburg " Gazette " on the 22d. At the same time the agence Hams announced that the minority had drawn up a protest which was to be published outside of Rome. At the fourth solemn session, July 18, of 536 prelates present only two voted non placet, the others voting placet; 65 prelates absented themselves. Of the two dissenting bishops, one before leaving the council hall gave in his adhesion to the pope in person. Cardinals Rauscher, Schwarzenberg, Mathieu, and Hohenlohe, inopportunists, who were absent, immediately sent in their adhesion.
All the other members of the minority accepted sooner or later the doctrine thus decreed. (See Infallibility, vol. ix., p. 265.) The rumor of the impending war between France and Germany made the members of the council anxious to return to their flocks. The pope authorized them to do so, with an injunction to return to Rome by Nov. 11. But the events following the capitulation of Sedan, the withdrawal of the French army from Rome, and the occupation of that city by the Italian government, induced the pope to publish, Oct. 20, the bull Postquam Dei munere, suspending indefinitely the sessions of the council. - See Acta et Decreta Sacrosancti et OEcumenici Concilii Vaticani (Freiburg, 1871); Cardinal Manning, "The Vatican Council and its Definitions" (London, 1871); and M. J. Chantrel, Histoire du concile du Vatican (2d ed., Paris, 1872).