Compendium of Church History - Notre Dame

Nineteenth Century
The Century of the Faithful and the Unbelievers

Napoleon and the Church.
Pius VI was succeeded in the chair of St. Peter by Pius VII. In July, 1800, the new Pontiff entered Rome, greeted by the plaudits of an enthusiastic people. While Bishop of Imola, Pius VII had seen the expediency of a reconciliation between the Church and the republican institutions of the time.

Napoleon as First Consul, convinced that government without religion is impossible, hastened to open negotiations with Pius VII. In 18oi a "Concordat "was proposed, and in spite of many obstacles was carried through. The Pope's advisers thought he was too lenient, while the French ministry blamed Napoleon for his concessions to the Holy See. The oppression of the Church seemed to be at an end. Persecution, however, soon recommenced, and Pius VII, finding himself under the necessity of opposing the ambition of Napoleon, who as Emperor wished to place the Church in subjection to his rule, was brought a prisoner to France. Here he remained until the defeat of the Emperor at Leipsic, four years later.

Restoration of the Jesuits.
Pope Pius VII returned to Rome, and one of his first official acts was to restore the Society of Jesus. This restoration was welcomed with joy by Spain, Switzerland, and France; in fact, the only countries to show opposition were Portugal and Brazil, and the government of both these places was dominated by the Freemasons.

Catholic Emancipation.
The infidelity of the eighteenth century, followed by the excesses of the French Revolution and the desolating wars of Napoleon, had opened the eyes of the European nations, and especially those of Great Britain. In Ireland the attempts of the people to improve their condition and obtain justice had always ended disastrously until Daniel O'Connell, one of the noblest characters in history, took the leadership of the Catholic party. Evading the technicalities of the penal laws, he forced his way into the British Parliament. After repeated trials and failures, he finally succeeded in having the Catholic Emancipation Act passed. By this Act the Church was once more free to practise and preach God's word throughout Great Britain.

The disestablishment of the Anglican Church followed after an agitation lasting for forty years.

The Oxford Movement.
The Anglican Church at the beginning of the nineteenth century, like the Catholic Church in France before the Revolution, was hampered by being too closely united to the State. A liberal school of theologians had arisen at Oxford, which became the center of the Tractarian movement.

Imbued with strong anti-Catholic prejudices, the leaders of this movement found themselves drawn toward the Church by the logic of truth, and many of them were enrolled as members of the true Church. Some.of the leading spirits of the Oxford movement were: Newman, Lockhart, Formby, Oakley, Dalgairns, Faber, and Manning.

In 1840, while the Oxford movement was in progress, Pope Gregory XVI saw fit to increase the number of Vicars-Apostolic in England. This was owing to the large addition of Catholics since the passing of the Emancipation Act. Ten years later Pope Pius IX restored the English Hierarchy, which had been suppressed by the Elizabethan persecution. The year 185o saw the realization of many hopes when the Archbishopric of Westminster, with twelve suffragan dioceses, was erected. The first archbishop was Cardinal Wiseman, who had been admitted to the Sacred College two years before.

Pope Pius IX.
The pontificate of Pope Pius IX was the longest on record, and one of the most memorable in history. This great Pontiff reestablished the Catholic hierarchies in England and Holland and the Latin Patriarchate in Palestine, erected nearly two hundred new sees, concluded concordats with all the Christian states of the two hemispheres, and defended the rights of the Church.

The three greatest acts of his pontificate:

  1. The definition of the Immaculate Conception, December 8, 1854.
  2. The Syllabus of 1864, a collection of propositions which condemned the errors of the age.
  3. Vatican Council, December 8, 1869.

Two years after his election, in the Revolution of 1848, Pope Pius IX was exiled from Rome, and in 1870 the Piedmontese government seized Rome and made it the capital of United Italy. Since then the Pope has been a captive of the Italian government.

Early in 1878 Pope Pius IX died, full of years and honors. He had been preceded to the grave by his persecutor, Victor Emmanuel.

The Catholic Church in Germany.
From the close of the Congress of Vienna up to the year 1848 the Catholic Church in Germany was almost banished from public life. Especially in Prussia did the ministers of the crown aim at subjecting the Church to the State. While the oppression of the Church issued from high places, a Catholic revival was started from the very heart of the people, and brought into the Church such men as the artist Overbeck and the writer Frederick von Schlegel.—Guggenberger.

After the Franco-German War, when Prince Bismarck was made chancellor, a series of persecutions was begun against the Church. His excuse for this persecution was that the prelates and priests were against the New Empire. The May Laws made the Church completely subject to the State in all matters. Pope Pius IX declared these laws null and void, and as a consequence state support and exemption from military service were restricted to those alone who would subscribe to them.

The German Catholics remained loyal to the Holy See, and under the leadership of Ludwig von Windthorst formed a political party called the Catholic Center, which steadily grew in power until, in 1878, Bismarck was forced to open negotiations with Pope Leo XIII. Concessions were made on both sides, and in 1888 William II pledged himself to maintain religious peace in his dominion.

The Church in Other Countries.
The Russian Czars have employed religious soldiers and police agents to suppress Catholicism in Poland.

In France and Italy, and for a time in Belgium and Spain, many laws against the Church and Christian education were passed by Freemason influence. In France the Third Republic has shown itself ungrateful for the services of the Church. The legislation against the religious congregations and Catholic free schools has become stringent. Religious houses have been closed and their inmates thrust upon the world with no other object than the destruction of religious teaching.

In the United States, meanwhile, as well as in England, the Church is enjoying peace and prosperity.

China, Japan, Korea, and most of the Indian and Pacific islands, have their Catholic missions well established.

Africa has become a vast network of apostolic enterprise.—Guggenberger.

Pope Leo XIII.
On the death of Pope Pius IX, the cardinals assembled at the Vatican before the enemies of the Church had time to concert any hostile plan, and there chose as supreme Pontiff, Cardinal Pecci, Archbishop of Perugia, who assumed the name of Leo XIII.

His pontificate of twenty-five years brought blessings of peace and enlightenment to all nations. The encyclicals of this Pope were of universal application, being addressed to reason and justice as well as to faith.

Encyclicals.—Some of the most important are those that deal with:

  1. Modern Errors, 1878.
  2. Scholastic Philosophy, 1879.
  3. Christian Marriage, 1880.
  4. Origin of Civil Power, 1881.
  5. Christian Constitution of the State, 1885.
  6. The Labor Question, 1891.

Principal Works of Leo XIII

  1. Pope Leo XIII arbitrated between Spain and Germany concerning the possession of certain of the Caroline Islands, and settled the dispute to the satisfaction of both nations.
  2. He aided the French Republic by counselling obedience to that form of government.
  3. He established the Hierarchies of Poland, Russia, and Japan, and reestablished the Hierarchy of Scotland.
  4. He decided the question of Anglican Orders.

Anglican Orders.
To fill the sees which had been deprived of Catholic bishops, Queen Elizabeth, in 1559, invested Matthew Parker as Archbishop of Canterbury. As no Catholic bishop could be found to consecrate Parker, the Queen, "through the plenitude of her ecclesiastical authority," supplied all the defects of his election and consecration. Accordingly, Parker was consecrated by Barlow, the heretical ex-Bishop of Bath and Wells, who had been removed under Queen Mary. Barlow was most probably never consecrated himself, and believed neither in priesthood nor sacrifice. Consequently, Parker, from whom all Anglican Ordinations are derived, was never consecrated.—Guggenberger.

From the foregoing account it can be readily understood why the practice of re-ordaining convert clergymen has subsisted. Anglicans maintain that the Holy See could never have sanctioned re-ordination had facts been properly presented. In 1894 the matter was brought to the notice of Leo XIII, and the Pope determined to have the whole question investigated. A consultative commission, consisting of. eight members, sifted the evidence on both sides. The results of their discussion were laid before a council of Cardinals, who, under the presidency of the Pope, decided that Anglican Orders were invalid.

In February, 1893, Pope Leo XIII commemorated the golden jubilee of his episcopate, and died on July 20, 1903. The spirit of Leo XIII marked itself deeply on the Church.

The Council of the Nineteenth Century

The Twentieth General Council.
The Vatican Council, in the year 1869, promulgated the dogma of the Infallibility of the Pope—that is, that the Holy Father, when speaking ex Cathedra, is incapable of error in faith or morals.

After the second session of this Council, in July, 1870, Victor Emmanuel II invaded Rome, and the Council was indefinitely suspended.