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§ 31. The Vatican Council, 1870.


I. Works Preceding the Council.

Officielle Actenstücke zu dem von Sr. Heiligkeit dem Papste Pius IX. nach Rom berufenen Oekumenischen Concil, Berlin, 1869 (pp. 189). This work contains the Papal Encyclica of 1864, and the various papal letters and official documents preparatory to the Council, in Latin and German.

Chronique concernant le Prochain Concile. Traduction revue et approuvée de la Civiltà cattolica par la correspondance de Rome, Vol. I. Avant le Concile. Rome, Deuxième ed. 1869, fol. (pp. 192). Begins with the Papal letter of June 26, 1867.

Henry Edward Manning (Archbishop of Westminster): The Centenary of St. Peter and the General Council. A Pastoral Letter. London, 1867. The Œcumenical Council and the Infallibility of the Roman Pontiff. A Pastoral Letter. London, 1869. In favor of Infallibility.

C. H. A. Plantier (Bishop of Nîmes): Sur les Conciles généraux à l’occasion de celui que Sa Sainteté Pie IX. a convoqué pour le 8 décembre prochain, Nîmes et Paris, 1869. The same in German: Ueber die allgemeinen Kirchenversammlungen, translated by Th. von Lamezan, Freiburg im Breisgau, 1869. Infallibilist.

Magr. Vict. Aug. Dechamps (Archbishop of Malines): L’infaillibilité et le Concile général, 2d ed., Paris et Malines, 1869. German translation: Die Unfehlbarkeit des Papstes und das Allgemeine Concil, Mainz, 1869. Strong Infallibilist.

H. L. C. Maret (Dean of the Theol. Faculty of Paris): Du Concile général et de la paix religieuse, Paris, 1869, 2 vols. Against Infallibility. Has since recanted.

W. Emmanuel Freiherr von Ketteler (Bishop of Mayence): Das Allgemeine Concil und seine Bedeutung für unsere Zeit, 4th ed. Mainz, 1869. First against, now in favor of Infallibility.

Dr. Joseph Fessler (Bishop of St. Pölten and Secretary of the Vatican Council, d. 1872): Das letzte und das nächste Allgemeine Concil, Freiburg im Breisgau, 1869.

F. Dupanloup (Bishop of Orleans): Lettre sur le futur Concile Œcuménique, in French, German, and other languages, 1869. The same on the Infallibility of the Pope. First against, then in favor of the new dogma.

Der Papst und das Concil, von Janus, Leipzig, 1869 (pseudonymous). The same in English: The Pope and the Council, by Janus, London, 1869. In opposition to the Jesuit programme of the Council, from the liberal (old) Catholic stand-point; probably the joint production of Profs. Döllinger, Friedrich, and Huber, of the University of Munich.

Dr. J. Hergenröther (R.C.): Anti-Janus, Freiburg im Breisgau, 1870. Also in English, by J. B. Robertson, Dublin, 1870.

Reform der Röm. Kirche in Haupt und Gliedern Aufgabe des bevorstehenden Röm. Concils, Leipz. 1869. Liberal Catholic.

Felix Bungener (Prot.): Rome and the Council in the Nineteenth Century. Translated from the French, with additions by the Author. Edinb. 1870. (Conjectures as to what the Council will be, to judge from the Papal Syllabus and the past history of the Papacy.)

II. Reports During the Council.

The Civiltà catholica, of Rome, for 1869 and 1870. Chief organ of the Jesuits and Infallibilists.

Louis Veuillot: Rome pendant le Concile, Paris, 1870, 2 vols. Collection of his correspondence to his journal, l’Univers, of Paris. Ultra-Infallibilist and utterly unscrupulous.

J. Friedrich (Prof. of Church History in Munich, lib. Cath.): Tagebuch während des Vaticanischen Concils geführt, Nödlingen, 1871; 2d ed. 1872. A journal kept during the Council, and noting the facts, projects, and rumors as they came to the surface. The author, a colleague and intimate friend of Döllinger, has since been excommunicated.


Quirinus: letters from Rome on the Council, first in the Augsb. Allgemeine Zeitung, and then in a separate volume, Munich, 1870; also in English, London, 1870 (pp. 856). Letters of three liberal Catholics, of different nations, who had long resided in Rome, and, during the Council, communicated to each other all the information they could gather from members of the Council, and sent their letters to a friend in Germany for publication in the Augsburg General Gazette.

Compare against Quirinus: Die Unwahrheiten der Römischen Briefe vom Concil in der Allg. Zeitung, Von W. Emmanuel Freiherrn von Ketteler (Bishop of Mayence), 1870.

Ce qui se passe au Concile. Dated April 16, 1870. Troisième ed. Paris, 1870. [By Jules Gaillard.]

La dernière heure du Concile, Paris, 1870. [By a member of the Council.] The last two works were denounced as a calumny by the presiding Cardinals in the session, July 16,1870.

Also the Reports during the Council in the Giornale di Roma, the Turin Unità catholica, the London Times, the London (R.C.) Tablet, the Dublin Review, the New York Tribune, and other leading periodicals.

III. The Acts and Proceedings of the Council.

(1.) Roman Catholic (Infallibilist) Sources.

Acta et Decreta sacrosancti et œcumenici Concilii Vaticani die 8 Dec. 1869 a ss. D. N. Pio IX. inchoati. Cum permissione superiorum, Friburgi Brisgoviæ, 1871, in 2 Parts. The first part contains the Papal Encyclica with the Syllabus and the acts preparatory to the Council; the second, the public acts of the Council itself, with a list of the dioceses of the Roman Church and the members of the Vatican Council.

Actes et histoire du Concile œcuménique de Rome, premier du Vatican, ed. under the auspices of Victor Frond, Paris, 1869 sqq. 6 vols. Includes extensive biographies of Pope Pius IX. and his Cardinals, etc., with portraits. Vol. VI. contains the Actes, decrets et documents reccuillis et mis en ordre par M. Pelletier, chanoine d’Orleans. Each vol. costs 100 francs.

Atti ufficialli del Concilio ecumenico, Turino, pp. 682 (? 1870).

Officielle Actenstücke zu dem von Sr. Heiligkeit dem Papst Pius IX. nach Rom berufenen Oekumenischen Concil, Zweite Sammlung, Berlin, 1870.

Das Oekumemische Concil. Stimmen aus Maria-Laach, Neue Folge. Freiburg im Breisgau, l870. A series of discussions in defense of the Council by Jesuits (Florian Riess, and K. v. Weber).

Henry Edward Manning (R.C. Archbishop of Westminster): Petri Privilegium. Three Pastoral Letters, London, 1871. The True Story of the Vatican Council, London, 1877.

Bp. Jos. Fessler (Secretary of the Vatican Council): Das Vaticanische Concil, dessen äussere Bedeutung und innerer Verlauf, Wien, 1871.

Eugen Cecconi (Canon at Florence): Geschichte der allg. Kirchenversammlung im Vatican. Trans. from the Italian by Dr. W. Molitor. Regensb. 1873 sqq. (Vol. I. contains only the history before the Council.)

The stenographic reports of the speeches of the Council are still locked up in the archives of the Vatican.

(2.) Old Catholic (anti-Infallibilist).

Joh. Friedrich: Documenta ad illustrandum Concilium Vaticanum anni 1870, Nördlingen, 1871, In 2 parts. Contains official and unofficial documents bearing on the Council and the various schemata de fide, de ecclesia, etc. Compare his Tagebuch während des Vaticanischen Concils geführt, above quoted. By the same: Geschichte des Vaticanischen Concils, Bonn, 1877. Vol. I. (contains the preparatory history to 1869); Vol. II. 1883.

Joh. Friedrich Ritter von Schulte (Prof. of Canon Law in the University of Prague, now in Bonn): Das Unfehlbarkeitsdecret vom 18 Juli 1870 . . . geprüft, Prag, 1871. Also, Die Macht der Röm. Päpste über Fürsten, Länder, Völker, Individuen, etc., Prag, 2d ed. 1871.

Stimmen aus der katholischen Kirche über die Kirchenfragen der Gegenwart, München, 1870 sqq. 2 vols. A series of discussions against the Vatican Council, by Döllinger, Huber, Schmitz, Friedrich, Reinkens, and Hötzl.

(3.) Protestant.

Dr. Emil Friedberg (Prof. of Ecclesiastical Law in Leipzig): Sammlung der Actenstücke zum ersten Vaticanischen Concil, mit einem Grundriss der Geschichte desselben, Tübingen, 1872 (pp. 954). Very valuable; contains all the important documents, and a full list of works on the Council.

Theod. Frommann (Privatdocent in Berlin): Geschichte und Kritik des Vaticanischen Concils von 1869 und 1870, Gotha, 1872 (pp. 529).

E. de Pressense (Ref. Pastor in Paris): Le Concile du Vatican, son histoire et ses conséquences politiques et religieuses, Paris, 1872. Also in German, by Fabarius, Nördlingen, 1872.

L. W. Bacon: An Inside View of the Vatican Council, New York, 1872 (Amer. Tract Society). Contains a translation of Archbishop Kenrick's speech against Infallibility, with a sketch of the Council.

G. Uhlhorn: Das Vaticanische Concil (Vermischte Vorträge). Stuttgart, 1875, pp. 235–350.

An extensive criticism on the Infallibility decree in the third edition of Dr. Hase's Handbuch der Protestant. Polemik gegen die römisch-katholische Kirche, Leipz. 1871, pp. 155–200. Comp. pp. 24–37.

The above are only the most important works of the large and increasing literature, historical, apologetic, and polemic, on the Vatican Council. A. Erlecke, in a pamphlet, Die Literatur des röm. Concils, gives a list of over 200 books and pamphlets which appeared in Germany alone before 1871. Friedberg notices 1041 writings on the subject till June 1872. Since then the Gladstone Expostulation on the political aspects of the Vatican Decrees, Lond. 1874, and his Vaticanism, 1875, have called forth a newspaper and pamphlet war, and put Dr. J. H. Newman and Archbishop Manning on the defensive.]


More than three hundred years after the close of the Council of Trent, Pope Pius IX., who had proclaimed the new dogma of the Immaculate Conception, who in the presence of five hundred Bishops had celebrated the eighteenth centennial of the martyrdom of the Apostles Peter and Paul, and who was permitted to survive not only the golden wedding of his priesthood, but even—alone among his more than two hundred and fifty predecessors—the silver wedding of his popedom (thus falsifying the tradition 'non videbit annos Petri'), resolved to convoke a new œcumenical Council, which was to proclaim his own infallibility in all matters of faith and discipline, and thus to put the top-stone to the pyramid of the Roman hierarchy.

He first intimated his intention, June 26, 1867, in an Allocution to five hundred Bishops who were assembled at the eighteenth centenary of the martyrdom of St. Peter in Rome. The Bishops, in a most humble and obsequious response, July 1, 1867, approved of his heroic courage, to employ, in his old age, an extreme measure for an extreme danger, and predicted a new splendor of the Church, and a new triumph of the kingdom of God.263263   'Summo igitur gauaio,' said the five hundred Bishops, 'repletus est animus noster, dum sacrato ore Tuo intelleximus, tot inter præsentis temporis discrimina eo Te esse consilio, ut "maximum," prout aiebat inclitus Tuus prædecessor Paulus III., "in maximis rei Christianæ periculis remedium," Concilium œcumenicum convoces. Annuat Deus huic Tuo proposito, cuius ipse Tibi mentem inspiravit; habeantque tandem œvi nostri homines, qui infirmi in fide, semper discentes et nunquam ad veritatis agnitionem pervenientes omni vento doctrinæ circumferuntur, in sacrosancta hac Synodo novam, præsentissimamque occasionem accedendi ad sanctam Ecclesiam columnam ac firmamentum veritatis, cognoscendi salutiferam fidem, perniciosos reiiciendi errores; ac fiat, Deo propitio, et conciliatrice Deipara Immaculata, hæc Synodus grande opus unitatis, sanctificationis et pacis, unde novus in Ecclesiam splendor redundet, novus regni Dei triumphus consequatur. Et hoc ipso Tuæ providentiæ opere denuo exibeatur mundo immensa beneficia, per Pontificatum romanum humanæ societati asserta. Pateat cunctis, Ecclesiam eo quod super solidissima Petra fundetur, tantum valere, ut errores depellat, mores corrigat, barbariem compescat, civilisque humanitatis mater dicatur et sit. Pateat mundo, quod divinæ auctoritatis et debitæ eidem obedientiæ manifestissimo specimine, in divina Pontificatus institutione dato, ea omnia stabilita et sacrata sint, quæ societatum fundamenta ac diuturnitatem solident.' Whereupon the Pope announced to them that he would convene the Council under the special auspices of the immaculate Virgin, who had crushed the serpent's head and was mighty to destroy alone all the heresies of the world.264264   'Quod sane votum apertius etiam se prodit in eo communi Concilii œcumenici desiderio, quod omnes non modo perutile, sed et necessarium arbitramini. Superbia enim humana, veterem ansum instauratura, jamdiu per commenticium progressum civitatem et turrem extruere nititur, cujus culmen pertingat ad cœlum, unde demum Deus ipse detrahi possit. At is descendisse videtur inspecturus opus, et ædificantium linguas ita confusurus, ut non audiat unusquisque vocem proximi sui: id enim animo objiciunt Ecclesiæ vexationes, miseranda civilis consortii conditio, perturbatio rerum omnium, in qua versamur. Cui sane gravissimæ calamitati sola certe objici potest divina Ecclesiæ virtus, quæ tunc maxime se prodit, cum Episcopi a Summo Pontifice convocati, eo præside, conveniunt in nomine Domini de Ecclesiæ rebus acturi. Et gaudemus omnino, prœvertisse vos hac in re propositum jamdiu a nobis conceptum, commendandi sacrum hunc cœtum ejus patrocinio, cujus pedi a rerum exordio serpentis caput subjectum fuit, quœque deinde universas hæreses sola interemit. Satisfacturi propterea communi desiderio jam nunc nunciamus, futurum quandocunque Concilium sub auspiciis Deiparæ Virginis ab omni labe immunis esse constituendum, et eo aperiendum die, quo insignis hujus privilegii ipsi collati memoria recolitur. Faxit Deus, faxit Immaculata Virgo, ut amplissimos e saluberrimo isto Concilio fructus percipere valeamus.' While the Pope complains of the pride of the age in attempting to build another tower of Babel, it did not occur to him that the assumption of infallibility, i.e., a predicate of the Almighty by a mortal man, is the consummation of spiritual pride.

137The call was issued by an Encyclical, commencing Æterni Patris Unigenitus Filius, in the twenty-third year of his Pontificate, on the feast of St. Peter and Paul, June 29, 1868. It created at once a universal commotion in the Christian world, and called forth a multitude of books and pamphlets even before the Council convened. The highest expectations were suspended by the Pope and his sympathizers on the coming event. What the Council of Trent had effected against the Protestant Reformation of the sixteenth century, the Council of the Vatican was to accomplish against the more radical and dangerous foes of modern liberalism and rationalism, which threatened to undermine Romanism itself in its own strongholds. It was to crush the power of infidelity, and to settle all that belongs to the doctrine, worship, and discipline of the Church, and the eternal salvation of souls.265265   After describing, in the stereotyped phrases of the Roman Court, the great solicitude of the successors of Peter for pure doctrine and good government, and the terrible tempests and calamities by which the Catholic Church and the very foundations of society are shaken in the present age, the Pope's Encyclical comprehensively but vaguely, and with a prudent reserve concerning the desired dogma of Infallibility, defines the objects of the Council in these words: 'In œcumenico hoc Concilio ea omnia accuratissime examine sunt perpendenda ac statuenda, quæ hisce præsertim asperrimis temporibus majorem Dei gloriam, et fidei integritatem, divinique cultus decorem, sempiternamque hominum salutem, et utriusque Cleri disciplinam ejusque salutarem solidamque culturam, atque ecclesiasticarum legum observantiam, morumque emendationem, et christianam juventutis institutionem, et communem omnium pacem et concordiam in primis respiciunt. Atque etiam intentissimo studio curandum est, ut, Deo bene juvante, omnia ab Ecclesia et civili societate amoveantur mala, ut miseri errantes ad rectum veritatis, justitiæ salutisque tramitem reducantur, ut vitiis erroribusque eliminatis, augusta nostra religio ejusque salutifera doctrina ubique terrarum reviviscat, et quotidie magis propagetur et dominetur, atque ita pietas, honestas, probitas, justitia, caritas omnesque Christianæ virtutes cum maxima humanæ societatis utilitate vigeant et efflorescant.' It was even hoped that the Council might become a general feast of reconciliation of divided Christendom; and hence the Greek schismatics, 138and the Protestant heretics and other non-Catholics, were invited by two special letters of the Pope (Sept. 8, and Sept. 13, 1868) to return on this auspicious occasion to 'the only sheepfold of Christ,' for the salvation of their souls.266266   'Omnes Christianos etiam atque etiam hortamur et obsecramus, ut ad unicum Christi ovile redire festinent.' And at the end again, 'unum ovile et unus pastor;' according to the false and mischievous translation of John x. 16 in the Vulgate (followed by the authorized English Version), instead of 'one flock' (μία ποίμνη, not αὐλή). There may be many folds, and yet one flock under one Shepherd, as there are 'many mansions' in heaven (John xiv. 2).

But the Eastern Patriarchs spurned the invitation, as an insult to their time-honored rights and traditions, from which they could not depart.267267   The Patriarch of Constantinople declined even to receive the Papal letter from the Papal messenger, for the reasons that it had already been published in the Giornale di Roma; that it contained principles contrary to the spirit of the Gospel, the doctrines of the œcumenical Councils, and the holy Fathers; that there was no supreme Bishop in the Church except Christ; and that the Bishop of Old Rome had no right to convoke an œcumenical Council without first consulting the Eastern Patriarchs. The other Oriental Bishops either declined or returned the Papal letter of invitation. See the documents in Friedberg, l.c. pp. 233–253; in Officielle Actenstücke, etc., pp. 127–135; and in the Chronique concernant le Prochain Concile, Vol. I. pp. 3 sqq., 103 sqq. The Protestant communions either ignored or respectfully declined it.268268   The Evangelical Oberkirchenrath of Berlin, the Kirchentag of Stuttgart, 1869, the Paris Branch of the Evangelical Alliance, 'The Venerable Company of Pastors of Geneva,' the Professors of the University of Groningen, the Hungarian Lutherans assembled at Pesth, and the Presbyterians of the United States, took notice of the Papal invitation, all declining it, and reaffirming the principles of the Protestant Reformation. The Presbyterian Dr. Cumming, of London, seemed willing to accept the invitation if the Pope would allow a discussion of the reasons of the separation from Rome, but was informed by the Pope, through Archbishop Manning, in two letters (Sept. 4, and Oct. 30, 1869), that such discussion of questions long settled would be entirely inconsistent with the infallibility of the Church and the supremacy of the Holy See. See the documents in Friedberg, pp. 235–257; comp. pp. 16, 17, and Offic. Actenstücke, pp. 158–176. The Chronique concernant le Prochain Concile, p. 169, criticises at length the American Presbyterian letter signed by Jacobus and Fowler (Moderators of the General Assembly), and sees in its reasons for declining a proof of 'heretical obstinacy and ignorance.'

Thus the Vatican Council, like that of Trent, turned out to be simply a general Roman Council, and apparently put the prospect of a reunion of Christendom farther off than ever before.

While these sanguine expectations of Pius IX. were doomed to disappointment, the chief object of the Council was attained in spite of the strong opposition of the minority of liberal Catholics. This object, which for reasons of propriety is omitted in the bull of convocation and other preliminary acts, but clearly stated by the organs of the Ultramontane or Jesuitical party, was nothing less than the proclamation of 139the personal Infallibility of the Pope, as a binding article of the Roman Catholic faith for all time to come.269269   So the Civiltà cattolica (a monthly Review established 1850, at Rome, the principal organ of the Jesuits, and the Moniteur of the Papal Court) defined the programme, Feb. 6, 1869; adding to it also the adoption of the Syllabus of 1864, and, perhaps, the proclamation of the assumption of the Virgin Mary to heaven. The last is reserved for the future. The Archbishop of Westminster (Manning) and the Archbishop of Mechlin (Dechamps) predicted, in pastoral letters of 1867 and 1869, the proclamation of the Papal Infallibility as a certain event. To avert this danger, the Bishop of Orleans (Dupanloup), Père Gratry of the Oratory, Père Hyacinthe, Bishop Maret (Dean of the Theological Faculty of Paris), Montalembert, John Henry Newman, the German Catholic laity (in the Coblenz Address), in part the German Bishops assembled at Fulda, and especially the learned authors of the Janus, lifted their voice, though in vain. See the literature on the subject in Friedberg, pp. 17–21. Herein lies the whole importance of the Council; all the rest dwindles into insignificance, and could never have justified its convocation.

After extensive and careful preparations, the first (and perhaps the last) Vatican Council was solemnly opened amid the sound of innumerable bells and the cannon of St. Angelo, but under frowning skies and a pouring rain, on the festival of the Immaculate Conception of the Virgin Mary, Dec. 8, 1869, in the Basilica of the Vatican.270270   Hence the name. The right cross-nave of St. Peter's Church, which itself is a large church, was separated by a painted board wall, and fitted up as the council-hall. See a draught of it in Friedberg, p. 98. The hall was very unsuitable for hearing, and had to be repeatedly altered. The Pope, it is said (Hase, l.c. p. 26), did not care that all the orators should be understood. The Vatican Palace, where the Pope now resides, adjoins the Church of St. Peter. Councils were held there before, but only of a local character. Formerly the Roman œcumenical Councils were held in the Lateran Palace, the ancient residence of the Popes, which is connected with the Church of St. John in the Lateran or Church of the Saviour ('omnium urbis et orbis ecclesiarum mater et caput'). There are five Lateran Councils: the first was held, 1123, under Calixtus II.; the second, 1139, under Innocent II.; the third, 1179, under Alexander III.; the fourth and largest, 1215, under Innocent III.; the fifth, 1512–1517, under Leo X., on the eve of the Reformation. The basilica of the Lateran contains the head, the basilica of St. Peter the body, of St. Peter. The Pope expressed the hope that a special inspiration would proceed from the near grave of the prince of the Apostles upon the Fathers of the Council. It reached its height at the fourth public session, July 18, 1870, when the decree of Papal Infallibility was proclaimed. After this it dragged on a sickly existence till October 20, 1870, when it was adjourned till Nov. 11, 1870, but indefinitely postponed on account of the extraordinary change in the political situation of Europe. For on the second of September the French Empire, which had been the main support of the temporal power of the Pope, collapsed with the surrender of Napoleon III., at the old Huguenot stronghold of Sedan, to the Protestant King William of Prussia, and on the twentieth of September the Italian troops, in the 140name of King Victor Emanuel, took possession of Rome, as the future capital of united Italy. Whether the Council will ever be convened again to complete its vast labors, like the twice interrupted Council of Trent, remains to be seen. But, in proclaiming the personal Infallibility of the Pope, it made all future œcumenical Councils unnecessary for the definition of dogmas and the regulation of discipline, so that hereafter they will be expensive luxuries and empty ritualistic shows. The acts of the Vatican Council, as far as they go, are irrevocable.

The attendance was larger than that of any of its eighteen predecessors,271271   As the œcumenical character of two or three Councils is disputed, the Vatican Council is variously reckoned as the 19th or 20th or 21st œcumenical Council; by strict Romanists (as Manning) as the 19th. Compare note on p. 91. and presented an imposing array of hierarchical dignity and power such as the world never saw before, and as the Eternal City itself is not likely ever to see again. What a contrast this to the first Council of the apostles, elders, and brethren in an upper chamber in Jerusalem! The whole number of prelates of the Roman Catholic Church, who are entitled to a seat in an œcumenical Council, is one thousand and thirty-seven.272272   See a full list, with all the titles, in the Lexicon geographicum added to the second part of the Acta et Decreta sacrosancti et œcum. Conc. Vaticani, Friburgi, 1871. The Prelates 'quibus aut jus aut privilegium fuit sedendi in œcumenica synodo Vaticana,' are arranged as follows:    (1.) Eminentissimi et reverendissimi Domini S.E. Rom. Cardinales: (a) ordinis Episcoporum, (b) ordinis Presbyterorum. (c) ordinis diaconorum—51.
   (2.) Reverendissimi Domini Patriarchæ—11.

   (3.) Reverendissimi DD. Primates—10.

   (4.) Reverendissimi DD. Archiepiscopi—166.

   (5.) Reverendissimi DD. Episcopi—740.

   (6.) Abbates nullius dioceseos—6.

   (7.) Abbates Generales ordinum monasticorum—23.

   (8.) Generales et Vicarii Generales congregationum clericorum regularium, ordinum monasticorum, ordinum mendicantium—29. In all, 1037.
Of these there were present at the opening of the Council 719, viz., 49 Cardinals, 9 Patriarchs, 4 Primates, 121 Archbishops, 479 Bishops, 57 Abbots and Generals of monastic orders.273273   See the list of names in Friedberg, pp. 376–394. This number afterwards increased to 764, viz., 49 Cardinals, 10 Patriarchs, 4 Primates, 105 diocesan Archbishops, 22 Archbishops in partibus infidelium, 424 diocesan Bishops, 98 Bishops in partibus, and 52 Abbots, and Generals of monastic orders.274274   See the official Catalogo alfabetico dei Padri presenti al Concilio ecumenico Vaticano, Roma, 1870. Distributed according to continents, 141541 of these belonged to Europe, 83 to Asia, 14 to Africa, 113 to America, 13 to Oceanica. At the proclamation of the decree of Papal Infallibility, July 18, 1870, the number was reduced to 535, and afterwards it dwindled down to 200 or 180.

Among the many nations represented,275275   Manning says, 'some thirty nations'—probably an exaggeration. the Italians had a vast majority of 276, of whom 143 belonged to the former Papal States alone. France, with a much larger Catholic population, had only 84, Austria and Hungary 48, Spain 41, Great Britain 35, Germany 19, the United States 48, Mexico 10, Switzerland 8, Belgium 6, Holland 4, Portugal 2, Russia 1. The disproportion between the representatives of the different nations and the number of their constituents was overwhelmingly in favor of the Papal influence. Nearly one half of the Fathers were entertained during the Council at the expense of the Pope.

The Romans themselves were remarkably indifferent to the Council, though keenly alive to the financial gain which the dogma of the Infallibility of their sovereign would bring to the Eternal City and the impoverished Papal treasury.276276   Quirinus, pp. 480, 481 (English translation). It is well known, how soon after the Council they voted almost in a body against the temporal power of the Pope, and for their new master.

The strictest secresy was enjoined upon the members of the Council.277277   They had to promise and swear to observe ' inviolabilem secreti fidem' with regard to the discussions, the opinions, and all matters pertaining to the Council. See the form of the oath in Friedberg, p. 96. In ancient Councils the people are often mentioned as being present during the deliberations, and manifesting their feelings of approval and disapproval. The stenographic reports of the proceedings were locked up in the archives. The world was only to know the final results as proclaimed in the public sessions, until it should please the Roman court to issue an official history. But the freedom of the press in the nineteenth century, the elements of discord in the Council itself, the enterprise or indiscretion of members and friends of both parties, frustrated the precautions. The principal facts, documents, speeches, plans, and intrigues leaked out in the official schemata, the controversial pamphlets of Prelates, and the private reports and letters of outside observers who were in intimate and constant intercourse with their friends in the Council.278278   Among the irresponsible but well-informed reporters and correspondents must be mentioned especially the writers in the Civiltà cattolica, and the Paris Univers, on the part of the Infallibilists; and the pseudonymous Quirinus, Prof. Friedrich, and the anonymous French authors of Ce qui se passe au Concile, and of La dernière heure du Concile, on the part of the anti-Infallibilists.

142The subject-matter for deliberation was divided into four parts: on Faith, Discipline, Religious Orders, and on Rites, including Missions. Each part was assigned to a special Commission (Congregatio or Deputatio), consisting of 24 Prelates elected by ballot for the whole period of the Council, with a presiding Cardinal appointed by the Pope. These Commissions prepared the decrees on the basis of schemata previously drawn up by learned divines and canonists, and confidentially submitted to the Bishops in print.279279   There were in all forty-five schemata, divided into four classes: (1) circa fidem, (2) circa disciplinam ecclesiæ, (3) circa ordines regulares, (4) circa res ritus orientalis et apostolicas missiones. See a list in Friedberg, pp. 432–434. Only a part of the schemata were submitted, and only the first two schemata de fide were acted upon. Friedrich, in the Second Part of his Documenta, gives the schemata, as far as they were distributed among the Bishops, together with the revisions and criticisms of the Bishops. The decrees were then discussed, revised, and adopted in secret sessions by the General Congregation (Congregationes generales), including all the Fathers, with five presiding Cardinals appointed by the Pope. The General Congregation held eighty-nine sessions in all. Finally, the decrees thus matured were voted upon by simple yeas or nays (Placet or Non Placet), and solemnly promulgated in public sessions in the presence and by the authority of the Pope. A conditional assent (Placet juxta modum) was allowed in the secret, but not in the public sessions.

There were only four such public sessions held during the ten months of the Council, viz., the opening session (lasting nearly seven hours), Dec. 8, 1869, which was a mere formality, but of a ritualistic splendor and magnificence such as can be gotten up nowhere on earth but in St. Peter's Cathedral in Rome; the second session, Jan. 6, 1870, when the Fathers simply professed each one before the Pope the Nicene Creed and the Profession of the Tridentine Faith; the third session, April 24, 1870, when the dogmatic constitution on the Catholic faith was unanimously adopted; and the fourth session, July 18, 1870, when the first dogmatic constitution on the Church of Christ and the Infallibility of the Pope was adopted with two dissenting votes.

The management of the Council was entirely in the hands of the Pope and his dependent Cardinals and Jesuitical advisers. He originated 143the topics which were to be acted on; he selected the preparatory committees of theologians (mostly of the Ultramontane school) who, during the winter of 1868–69, drew up the schemata; he appointed the presiding officers of the four Deputations, and of the General Congregation; and he proclaimed the decrees in his own name, 'with the approval of the Council.'280280   Under the title: Pius episcopus, servus servorum Dei, sacro approbante Concilio, ad perpetuam rei memoriam. The order prescribed for voting was this: The Pope, through the Secretary, asked the members of the Council first in general: Reverendissimi Patres, placentne vobis Decreta et Canones qui in hac Constitutione continentur? Then each one was called by name, and must vote either placet or non placet. When the votes were collected and brought to the Pope, he announced the result by this formula: Decreta et Canones qui in Constitutione modo lecta continentur, placuerunt omnibus Patribus, nemine dissentiente [if there were dissenting votes the Pope stated their number]; Nosque, sacro approbante Concilio, illa [sc. decreta] et illos [canones], ita ut lecta sunt, definimus, et Apostolica Auctoritate confirmamus. See the Monitum in the Giornale di Roma, April 18, 1870; Friedberg, pp. 462–464. He provided, by the bull 'Cum, Romanis Pontificibus,' of Dec. 4, 1869, for the immediate suspension and adjournment of the Council in case of his death. He even personally interfered during the proceedings in favor of his new dogma by praising Infallibilists, and by ignoring or rebuking anti-Infallibilists.281281   See the laudatory letters of Pius to several advocates of Infallibility, in Friedberg, pp. 487–495; comp. pp. 108–111. To Archbishop Dechamps, of Mechlin, he wrote that, in his tract on Papal Infallibility, he had proved the harmony of the Catholic faith with human reason so convincingly as to force even the Rationalists to see the absurdity of the opposite views. He applauded the indefatigable and abusive editor of the Paris Univers, Veuillot, who had collected 100,000 francs for the Vicar of Christ (May 30, 1870). On the other hand, he is reported to have rebuked in conversation Cardinal Schwarzenberg by the remark: 'I, John Maria Mastai, believe in the infallibility of the Pope. As Pope I have nothing to ask from the Council. The Holy Ghost will enlighten it.' He even attacked the memory of the eloquent French champion of Catholic interests, the Count Montalembert, who died during the Council (March 13, 1870), by saying, in the presence of three hundred persons: 'He had a great enemy, pride. He was a liberal Catholic, i.e., a half Catholic.' Ce qui se passe au Concile, 154 sqq. The discussion could be virtually arrested by the presiding Cardinals at the request of only ten members; we say virtually, for although it required a vote of the Council, a majority was always sure. The revised order of business, issued Feb. 22, 1870, departed even from the old rule requiring absolute or at least moral unanimity in definitions of faith (according to the celebrated canon quod semper, quod ubique, quod ab omnibus creditum est), and substituted for it a mere numerical majority, in order to secure the triumph of the Infallibility decree in spite of a powerful minority. Nothing could be printed in Rome against Infallibility, while the organs of Infallibility had full freedom to print 144and publish what they pleased.282282   Several minority documents, as Kenrick's speech against Infallibility, and the Latin edition of Hefele's tract on Honorius, were printed in Naples; the German in Tübingen. But the Civiltà cattolica, the irresponsible organ of the Jesuits and the Pope, was provided with a special building and income, and every facility for obtaining information. See Acton, Quirinus, and Frommann (1.c. p. 13). Such prominence of the Pope is characteristic of a Council convoked for the very purpose of proclaiming his personal infallibility, but is without precedent in history (except in some mediæval Councils); even the Council of Trent maintained its own dignity and comparative independence by declaring its decrees in its own name.283283   ' Sacrosancta Tridentina Synodas, in Spiritu Sancto legitime congregata . . . declarat.' See the order of the Council of Trent as republished in Friedrich's Documenta, I. pp. 265 sqq.

This want of freedom of the Council—not to speak of the strict police surveillance over the members—was severely censured by liberal Catholics. More than one hundred Prelates of all nations signed a strong protest (dated Rome, March 1, 1870) against the order of business, especially against the mere majority vote, and expressed the fear that in the end the authority of this Council might be impaired as wanting in truth and liberty—a calamity so direful in these uneasy times, that a greater could not be imagined. But this protest, like all the acts of the minority, was ignored.

The proceedings were, of course, in the official language of the Roman Church, which all Prelates could understand and speak, but very few with sufficient ease to do justice to themselves and their subjects. The acoustic defects of the Council-hall and the difference of pronunciation proved a great inconvenience, and the Continentals complained284284   'Id autem, quod spectat ad numerum suffragiorum requisitum, ut quæstiones dogmaticæ solvantur, in quo quidem rei summa est totiusque Concilii cardo vertitur, ita grave est, ut nisi admitteretur, quod reverenter et enixe postulamus, conscientia nostra intolerabili pondere premeretur: timeremus, ne Concilii œcumenici character in dubium vocari posset; ne ansa hostibus prœberetur Sanctam Sedem et Concilium impetendi, sicque demum apud populum Christianum hujus Concilii auctoritas labefactaretur, quasi veritate et libertate caruerit: quod his turbatissimis temporibus tanta esset calamitas, ut pejor excogitari nulla possit.' See the remarkable protest in Friedberg, pp. 417–422. Also Dollinger's critique of the order of business, ib. 422–432; Archbishop Kenrick's famous concio habenda at non habita, published in Naples, 1870 (and republished in Friedrich's Docum.); the work La libertè du Concile et l’infaillibilité, which was either written or inspired by Archbishop Darboy, of Paris (in Friedrich's Docum. I. pp. 129 sqq.), and the same Prelate's speech in the General Congregation, May 20, 1870 (ibidem. II. pp. 415 sqq.). Archbishop Manning, sublimely ignoring all these facts and documents, and referring us to the inaccessible Archives of the Vatican, assures us (Petri Privil. III. 32) that the Council was as free as the Congress of the United States, and that the wonder is, not that the opposition failed of its object, but that the Council so long held its peace. 145that they could not understand the English Latin. The Council had a full share of ignorance and superstition,285285   Some amusing examples are reported by the well-informed Quirinus. Bishop Pie, of Poitiers, supported the Papal Infallibility in a session of the General Congregation (May 13) by an entirely original argument derived from the legend that Peter was crucified downward; for as his head bore the whole weight of the body, so the Pope, as the head, bears the whole Church; but he is infallible who bears, not he who is borne! The Italians and Spaniards applauded enthusiastically. Unfortunately for the argument, the head of Peter did not bear his body, but the cross bore both; consequently the cross must be infallible. A Sicilian Prelate said the Sicilians first doubted the infallibility of Peter when he visited the island, and sent a special deputation of inquiry to the Virgin Mary, but were assured by her that she remembered well having been present when Christ conferred this prerogative on Peter; and this satisfied them completely. Quirinus adds: 'The opposition Bishops see a proof of the insolent contempt of the majority in thus putting up such men as Pie and this Sicilian to speak against them.' Letter XLVI. p. 534. and was disgraced by intrigues and occasional outbursts of intolerance and passion such as are, alas! not unusual in deliberative assemblies even of the Christian Church.286286   The following characteristic episode (ignored, of course, in Manning's eulogy) is well authenticated by the concurrent and yet independent reports of Lord Acton (N. Brit. Rev.), Quirinus (Letter XXXII.), Friedrich (Tagebuch, pp. 271, 272), and the author of Ce qui se passe au Concile (p. 69); comp. Friedberg (pp. 104–106). When Bishop Strossmayer, the boldest member of the opposition and an eloquent Latinist, in a session of the General Congregation (March 22), spoke favorably of the great Leibnitz, and paid Protestants the poor compliment of honesty (quoting from St. Augustine: 'Errant, sed bona fide errant'), he was interrupted by the bell of the President (De Angelis) and his rebuke, 'This is no place for praising Protestants' ('hicce non est locus laudandi Protestantes')! Very true, for the Council-hall was only a hundred paces from the Palace of the Inquisition. When, resuming, the speaker ventured to attack the principle of deciding questions of faith by mere majorities, he was more loudly interrupted from all sides by confused exclamations: 'Shame! shame! down with the heretic!' ('Descendat ab ambone! Descendat! Hæreticus! Hæreticus! Damnamus eum! Damnamus!') 'Several Bishops sprang from their seats, rushed to the tribune, and shook their fists in the speaker's face' (Quirinus, p. 387). When one Bishop (Place, of Marseilles) interposed, 'Ego non damno!' the cry was raised with increased fury: 'Omnes, omnes illum damnamus! damnamus!' Strossmayer was forced by the uproar and the continued ringing of the bell to quit the tribune, but did so with a triple 'Protestor.' The noise was so great that it could be heard in the interior of St. Peter's. Some thought the Garibaldians had broken in; others that Infallibility had been proclaimed, and shouted, according to their opposite views, either 'Long live the infallible Pope!' or 'Long live the Pope, but not the infallible one' (comp. Quirinus, and Ce qui se passe, p. 69). Quirinus says that the scene, 'for dramatic force and theological significance, exceeded almost any thing in the past history of Councils' (p. 386), and that a Bishop of the United States said afterwards, 'not without a sense of patriotic pride, that he knew now of one assembly still rougher than the Congress of his own country' (p. 388). Similar scenes of violence occurred in the œcumenical Councils of Ephesus and Chalcedon, but Christian civilization ought to have made some progress since the fifth century. But it embraced also much learning and eloquence, especially on the part of the French and German Episcopate. Upon the whole, it compares favorably, as to intellectual ability, moral character, and far-reaching effect, with preceding Roman Councils, and must be 146regarded as the greatest event in the history of the Papacy since the Council of Trent.

The chief importance of the Council of the Vatican lies in its decree on Papal supremacy and Infallibility. It settled the internal dissensions between Ultramontanism and Gallicanism, which struck at the root of the fundamental principle of authority; it destroyed the independence of the Episcopate, and made it a tool of the Primacy; it crushed liberal Catholicism; it completed the system of Papal absolutism; it raised the hitherto disputed opinion of Papal Infallibility to the dignity of a binding article of faith, which no Catholic can deny without loss of salvation. The Pope may now say not only, 'I am the tradition' (La tradizione son’ io), but also, 'I am the Church' (L’église c’est moi)!

But this very triumph of absolutism marks also a new departure. It gave rise to a secession headed by the ablest divines of the Roman Church. It put the Papacy into direct antagonism to the liberal tendencies of the age. It excited the hostility of civil government in all those countries where Church and State are united on the basis of a concordat with the Roman See. No State with any degree of self-respect can treat with a sovereign who claims infallibility, and therefore unconditional submission in matters of moral duty as well as of faith. In reaching the summit of its power, the Papacy has hastened its downfall.

For Protestants and Greeks the Vatican Council is no more œcumenical than that of Trent, and has only intensified the antagonism. Its œcumenicity is also denied by the Old Catholic scholars—Döllinger, von Schulte, and Reinkens —because it lacked the two fundamental conditions of liberty of discussion, and moral unanimity of suffrage.287287   See the Old Catholic protests of the Professors in Munich and Breslau in Friedberg, pp. 152–154, and the literature on the reception of the Council, ib. 53–56; also the discussion of Frommann, pp. 325 sqq. 454 sqq. Döllinger, in his famous censure of the new order of the Council, takes the ground that the œcumenicity of a Council depends upon an authority outside of itself, viz., the public opinion as expressed in the subsequent approval of the whole Church; and Pater Hötzl laid down the principle that no Council is œcumenical which is not approved and adopted as such by the Church. Admitting this, the condition is now fulfilled in the case of the Vatican Council to the whole extent of the Roman Episcopate, which constitutes the ecclesia docens, the laity having nothing to do but to submit. But the subsequent submission of all the Bishops who had voted against Papal Infallibility, supplies the defect as far as the 147Roman Church is concerned. There was nothing left to them but either to submit or to be expelled. They chose the former, and thus destroyed the legal and moral force of their protest, although not the power of truth and the nature of the facts on which it was based. Henceforward Romanism must stand or fall with the Vatican Council. But (as we have before intimated) Romanism is not to be confounded with Catholicism any more than the Jewish hierarchy which crucified our Saviour, is identical with the people of Israel, from which sprang the Apostles and early converts of Christianity. The destruction of the infallible and irreformable Papacy may be the emancipation of Catholicism, and lead it from its prison-house to the light of a new Reformation.


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