‘A free church in a free state.’ The maxim of Cavour, which was to become the most influential principle of the relations of church and state in Europe during the latter half of the nineteenth century, had too much novelty to win its way easily to general acceptance. The French Revolution indeed had shaken altars no less than sceptres within the sphere of its direct conquests and even beyond; and had broken the traditional association of church and state. Consequently in England, where emigres from across the Channel, both clerical and lay, were received with sympathy, the clergy of the established church, as portrayed in the novels of Jane Austen, assumed a new character and importance as commissioned officers in the army of the church militant against Jacobinism and atheism. A contemporary French historian, Professor A. Latreille, indeed has fortified this interpretation by arguing that the principles of 1789 were a portent of the modern conflict of the totalitarian state with Christianity. ‘Thence came the demand for total obedience, comparable to a religious obedience, to the State and the Law, and thence the fanatical determination, in case of resistance, to secure the triumph of the principles necessary for social order.’ If the meaning of the French Revolution were to involve the translation of the maxim of Gambetta, ‘Clericalism—there is the enemy’, into ‘Christianity—there is the enemy’ then the nature of the ecclesiastical reaction which followed the defeat of Napoleon may be more easily understood, if not exculpated. In France the restored Bourbon monarchy espoused the closest possible alliance with the church: altar and throne were to be indissolubly bound together; whilst to Rome itself and to the Papal States the Papacy returned in the baggage train of the victorious allies. Even in England there seemed at first to be no visible breach in the traditional policy of denying to dissenters from the established church, whether Popish or Protestant, civil equality with their conformist brethren. But by 1830 the cracks which the settlement of 1815 had papered over were beginning to show themselves again; and signs were evident that a regime of repression could not obliterate the effects of 1789. In 1828 in England the repeal of the Test and Corporation Acts marked the victory of the Protestant dissenters, though these statutes had not been enforced for nearly a century and though their repeal was only the first step in a sustained campaign for complete civil equality and for the removal of remaining restrictions. More significant was the grant in the following year of Roman Catholic emancipation; whilst 1828 also had seen the foundation of University College, London, the first educational institution of university status to eschew a religious basis and to provide a purely secular education. In July 1830, moreover, there came the revolution in Paris which manifested a markedly anti-clerical character. In face of these episodes, the established churches on both sides of the Channel had to work out a new theory and practice of their relationship with the state and to erect new defences against liberalism.
Perhaps the most influential of the attempts to readjust ideas to circumstances was the Liberal-Catholic movement in France, initiated by Lamennais and gathering to its support Lacordaire, Montalembert and Gerbet. It seems probable indeed that this owed much of its inspiration and inception to a parallel tendency in Belgium, where a Liberal-Catholic circle had centred in the Archbishop of Malines, Mgr de Meon, and was led by his vicar-general, Engelbert Sterckx, himself later to become archbishop and cardinal. But the fame of the ‘School of Malines’ was soon eclipsed by that of France. By 1830 indeed the unpredictable genius of Lamennais had already accomplished the first of a series of volte-faces by his conversion from an ardent royalist to an equally devoted liberal. ‘Men tremble before liberalism; make it Catholic and society will be reborn’; such became the maxim of his new policy. In 1828 he had published Des Progres de la revolution et de la guerre contre l'eglise; in which he had urged upon the Gallican church the duty of demanding freedom from the dying regime of Bourbon royalism, and liberty to reorganise its internal constitution, and especially the education of its clergy, in order to prepare for an alliance with liberalism. The anti-clerical disturbances of 1830 seemed at first to presage ill for this new evangel; but in October Lamennais and his disciples launched in Paris a daily newspaper, L'Avenir, in the first number of which Lamennais demanded the union of religion and liberty: ‘God and liberty—unite them.’ The only alternative, however, to alliance with the state was reliance on the Papacy; and the programme of these reformers depended upon support by Rome against the opposition of the French episcopate, which not unnaturally took alarm at the demand for four freedoms: freedom of education (involving the end of the monopoly enjoyed by the state-controlled Napoleonic university), freedom of the press (involving the abolition of the censorship), freedom of association (both for workers in industry and for the formation of religious communities), and freedom of worship (including the right of every church to exercise discipline over its own members). Accordingly everything waited upon the decision of Rome; pending which Lamennais founded the Agence generate pour la defense de la liberte religieuse, whilst the right to form religious communities was exercised by the Capuchins of Aix and the Trappists of Milleray, and an Ecole libre was opened in Paris in defiance of the University. This indeed was a far greater menace than L'Avenir;, this was ‘Catholic Action’; and as enemies both at home and abroad began to close in upon the reformers, Lamennais took the bold steps in November 1831 of suspending his newspaper and of appealing to the Pope himself for an investigation and report on his principles. Unfortunately for the reformers, Gregory XVI had nothing save his name in common with Gregory VII; nor would his position have permitted, even if his personal policy had suggested, the affronting of civil princes in order to rally a reformed episcopate to Lamennais’ standard. When therefore Lamennais, Lacordaire and Montalembert reached Rome in December to advocate their cause in person, they did not secure an audience with the Pope until 15 March following, and then only of fifteen minutes’ duration and of a general and desultory character.
On their way home, at Munich, where they were entertained by the famous Catholic confraternity of Gorres, Dollinger, Schelling and Baader, they were overtaken by the bull Mirari Vos of 15 August 1832, which sounded the death-knell of their hopes. Gregory XVI had done more than disavow the reformers; he had condemned the principles of their campaign. The bull denounced the demand for an end of the Concordat; it repudiated the suggestion that the church needed regeneration and reform or that it should ally itself with revolutionary liberalism; it condemned indifferentism; it fulminated particularly against the chief error of indifferentism, namely freedom of conscience; and it denounced freedom of the press. It was cold comfort that the covering letter from Cardinal Pacca explained that, though the encyclical repudiated liberal Catholicism, it refrained from actually specifying L'Avenir or the names of its editors out of consideration for their past services to the Papacy.
The effects of the bull were far-reaching; for though Lamennais at first submitted, his recantation was transient; and within two years a further fulmination from Rome, Singulari Nos of 7 July 1834, condemned specifically his Paroles d’un croyant as containing ‘propositions which were respectively false, calumnious, rash, inducing to anarchy, contrary to the Word of God, impious, scandalous, and erroneous’. But, though liberal Catholicism lost thereby its leader, his followers, Lacordaire and Montalembert, continued to uphold its standard, not without considerable influence and even success. Indeed, the July Monarchy witnessed the Indian summer of the movement; on the one hand by the apologetic Lenten conferences of Lacordaire in Notre Dame, by the revival of religious orders both for men and women, and by the formation of an association for the laity, the Society of St Vincent de Paul; and on the other hand by a remarkable outburst of missionary enterprise in Syria, India, Siam and China, ennobled particularly by the heroic martyrdoms of the mission in Indo-China. It was ironical therefore that the most permanent element of Lamennais’ legacy should be, not the liberal Catholicism which was his most ardent enthusiasm, but an ultramontane tendency which was to vanquish the Liberal-Catholic spirit in its Gallican home. Perhaps the paradox was well summarised in the contrasting fortunes of L'Avenir and L'Univers. Not of course that Louis Veuillot, the editor of L'Univers, was the most important and characteristic figure of the Ultramontane reaction; though he may have been its most skilful populariser. Another of the ironies of fortune lay in the circumstance that Dom Gueranger, who as a young man had joined the circle of Lamennais, was to become, as abbot of the restored Benedictine house at Solesmes, the principal agent of a liturgical revival, which culminated in the uniform adoption throughout the church in France of the Roman Liturgy. Two years after Gueranger’s appointment at Solesmes in 1837, the bishop of Langres, Mgr Parisis, whose diocese after 1801 had embraced parts of five former dioceses and therewith five varying liturgies, enforced the uniform use of the Roman Liturgy; and the process of reducing the area of liturgical differences progressed gradually to the final stage in 1875 when the diocese of Orleans, three years after the death of Bishop Dupanloup, likewise adopted the Roman Rite. Not least amongst the architects of the Ultramontane conquest of Gallicanism was the studious author of the series of Institutions Liturgiques, Abbot Gueranger, whom Pius IX playfully called Dom Guerroyer.
For a period, however, the Liberal-Catholic standard fluttered bravely. Montalembert’s campaign for freedom of Catholic education and for the emancipation of instruction from the monopoly of the Napoleonic University, waxed stronger and more formidable. The farcical penalty of a fine of 100 francs which was the outcome of his prosecution before the house of peers for the foundation in Paris of an Ecole Libre in 1831, emboldened him to publish in 1843 Du Devoir des catholiques dans la question de la liberte d'enseignement, in which he inaugurated his battle for freedom of education at all levels. His influence was seen in the introduction in 1844 of a government bill for education which failed, however, because unacceptable to the episcopate, whereupon Montalem-bert by organising a Committee for the Defence of Religious Freedom, prepared for a nation-wide political contest. In the educational field ‘the sons of the Crusaders’ had openly challenged ‘the sons of Voltaire’. The success of this appeal was seen in the return at the general election in 1846 of 140 deputies pledged to support its demands for freedom of Catholic education, a portent of which the administration was compelled to take cognisance. Accordingly a new bill was introduced in 1847, diminishing though not abolishing the control by the University over voluntary schools. The controversy aroused thereby was continuing when the 1848 revolution occurred; and was not settled until the Loi Falloux was passed in 1850. This statute, thanks to the reaction provoked by the excesses of 1848, was a victory for the Church, though bearing marks of compromise necessary to command the support on the one side of Montalembert and Bishop Dupanloup and on the other of Thiers, and was therefore denounced by Catholic extremists like the editor of L'Univers, and by Victor Hugo from a far different standpoint. The law abolished the University monopoly; substituted for the Conseil Royal de l'University a new Conseil Superieur de l'lnstruction Publique in which the eight University members constituted a minority flanked by nineteen others who included four bishops, two Protestant ministers and one rabbi; in each department a new Conseil Academique for the local supervision of education was set up with authority to grant the certificate of competence (brevet de capacite) as the indispensable professional qualification for teaching; schools were recognised as either public, that is state-controlled, or voluntary; and in the latter the right of state inspection was confined to hygiene and health; whilst members of religious congregations were allowed to teach provided they possessed the certificate. Substantially therefore Catholic action had achieved a considerable victory for the principles of liberal Catholicism; within a year of the passing of the Loi Falloux over 250 new educational establishments were opened, mainly by religious orders. Nor was it without significance that, as in England, popular education had become the battleground for contention between church and state.
Meantime Switzerland had been affected by the successive winds of political and religious doctrine which had blown themselves out in France. Since the overspreading of the French Revolution into its territory, Switzerland had experienced an aggravation of the traditional religious differences dividing its cantons into Catholic and Protestant, by the penetration of the revolutionary maxims of a secular society and of the cult of reason. After Napoleon’s defeat the old order had been restored; and had suffered likewise the first challenge to its authority when the Revolution of 1830 in France revived the doctrines of liberalism. The Swiss ‘Regeneration’ movement achieved perhaps its greatest success in the sphere of public education (cf. ch. V, pp. 108 ff.); reforming the primary schools from top to bottom, establishing training colleges, and also founding universities at Zurich and Berne. Through these educational measures the spirit of liberalism spread widely, arousing enthusiasm in some cantons and alarm in others; and leading to the conclusion of concordats in seven liberal cantons to safeguard their new constitutions and in five other cantons to defend their old status. Indeed, the religious issue was to prove once more a divisive factor. Even in Zurich, the home of Zwingli, the reforms in the primary schools provoked opposition, and the appointment to the university of a liberal theologian led to a popular rising in the country districts in 1839, which spread to the city itself and installed a new civil administration recruited from conservative churchmen. Furthermore, Lucerne in 1841 communicated its new constitution to the Pope and made bold to try the experiment of a democratic form of government allied with the Catholic church.
The stage was therefore set for conflict between Radicals and Conservatives; and the casus belli once more centred in the religious problem. A rising in Aargau by the Catholic minority against the Radical policy was repulsed, and was avenged upon its alleged promoters, the monasteries, which were shortly dissolved. Both within the other Swiss cantons and outside the Confederation, however, this secularisation of the monasteries evoked vehement Catholic opposition. Moreover the conflict now was not the traditional rivalry of Protestant and Catholic cantons, but between a new militant ultramontanism and freethinking. In 1844 the Great Council of Lucerne invited the Jesuits to undertake theological teaching in its seminary; and this defiant riposte to the dissolution of the Aargau monasteries had repercussions throughout the Confederation. The Radicals accepted the challenge and organised an anti-Jesuit campaign. Oratorical extremes were succeeded by armed clashes; and in order to protect themselves the Catholic cantons of Lucerne, Uri, Schwyz, Unterwalden, Zug, Fribourg and Valais concluded a defensive alliance, known as the Sonderbund. When the question of this pact came before the Federal Diet, the accession of St Gallen to the Radical camp gave this party a majority which was used to demand the dissolution of the Sonderbund as incompatible with the federal pact and the prohibition by the Confederation of the admission of the Jesuit Order. These events were the prelude to civil war in 1847, in which the Sonderbund was decisively defeated. The chief European powers, indeed, considered themselves vitally interested in the internal affairs of Switzerland, but their desires to mediate were frustrated by the unexpectedly speedy defeat of the Sonderbund; and their attention was then diverted to the more far-reaching revolutions of 1848 in other states, so that the Swiss were left to work out in peace the adjustments to their federal constitution necessitated by the civil war. The new constitution was characterised by a spirit of moderation and reconciliation; and the relationship of church and state in Switzerland was to remain peaceful until the Old Catholic schism, following upon the proclamation of papal infallibility in 1870.
‘Men tremble before Liberalism; make it Catholic and Society will be reborn.’ Such was the maxim of Lamennais in 1830. For Newman and the leaders of the Oxford Movement in England the exact contrary was the true remedy for a fell disease. Indeed, the English ecclesiastical historian Gwatkin dismissed the movement in a sentence as ‘the backwash of the Reform bill’. Although the liberalism against which Newman proclaimed war to the knife was predominantly religious, the religious issue had arisen from the political. Before Newman left England in 1832 he had commented on the French 1830 revolution that he ‘believed that it was unchristian for nations to cast off their governors and much more sovereigns who had the divine right of inheritance’. Similarly the advent of the Whigs to power in England had raised ‘the vital question.. .how were we to keep the church from being liberalised?’; and if during his absence ‘it was the success of the liberal cause which fretted him inwardly ’, it was the scheme of Irish church reform espoused and carried by the Whigs which provoked Keble’s Assize sermon on National Apostasy. The gentle author of The Christian Year indeed had canvassed the freeholders of his rural parish to refuse their votes to a candidate who supported the first reform bill. It was in an atmosphere of panic therefore that the Tractarian revival was born. Amongst churchmen there was a widespread fear lest Grey’s advice to the episcopate to set their house in order should be the prelude to disestablishment and disendowment. The recently emancipated Dissenters and Roman Catholics might well desire the former; whilst Jeremy Bentham coveted the latter as a means of financing his National Mechanics’ Institute. Consequently the fabulously wealthy dean and chapter of Durham, with the counsel of Bishop van Mildert, resolved to sacrifice some of their revenues to found a university there, in the hope of saving something from the anticipated ruins of confiscation. In these circumstances the prime objective of the Tractarian movement was to furnish a raison d'etre for the Church of England if the cataclysm of disestablishment came suddenly upon it. In the first of the Tracts for the Times, addressed to the clergy, Newman pointedly asked: ‘Should the government and country so far forget their God as to cast off the church, to deprive it of its temporal honours and substance, on what will you rest the claim of respect and attention which you make upon your flocks?... the question recurs, on what are we to rest our authority when the state deserts us?’ The answer was plain: ‘the real ground on which our authority is built—our Apostolical descent’.
With the enunciation of this remedy, the Oxford Movement passed from politics to religion. There its first principle was to combat liberalism by asserting the dogmatic basis of Christianity. ‘My battle’, avowed Newman in his Apologia pro vita sua, ‘was with liberalism; by liberalism I meant the anti-dogmatic principle and its developments Such was the fundamental principle of the Movement of 1833.’ Before its rise the dominant influence within the established church had been that of the Evangelicals, who had rekindled the flame of personal religion and developed new patterns of pastoral work. Nor had their importance been unrecognised in political matters. Their leaders had played a foremost part in the campaign for the abolition of slavery, which reached its climax in the very year of ‘National Apostasy’ by the vote of £20,000,000 for the emancipation of slaves; the efforts of Shaftesbury had resulted in that same year, 1833, in a Factory Act to restrict the hours of child labour in industry; and evangelical clergy and laity had combined to encourage missionary enterprise in regions so widely separated as India and Newfoundland. The Oxford Movement was to provide both a corrective and a complement to the evangelical revival by its doctrine of the church, the ministry and the sacraments. In the first of the Tracts, the doctrine of an exclusive validity of episcopal ministries had been laid down. ‘All we who have been ordained clergy, in the very form of our ordination, acknowledged the doctrine of the Apostolical Succession. And for the same reason we must necessarily consider none to be really ordained, who have not thus been ordained.’ This principle, enunciated as a defence against disestablishment, became one of the most potent ecclesiastical shibboleths in England and beyond. Behind the protracted controversies which these doctrines evoked, the Oxford Movement worked a pervasive and far-reaching religious revival; its revival of patristic studies, its emphasis on holiness of fife and its strongly moralistic tradition, its restoration of the discipline of auricular confession and absolution, and of religious orders, and its ceremonial and liturgical interests: all wrought a change in the general standards of thought and practice amounting to a revolution. Not even the presence in its early stages of a headstrong Rome-ward element, nor the spectacular secessions to Rome in 1845 of Newman and in 1851 of Manning, deprived it of its self-confidence and success, thanks to the steadiness of Pusey and Keble In its challenge to the state, however, the Oxford Movement spoke in muffled tones compared with contemporary events in the Church of Scotland, where church and state came into open and dramatic conflict. The dispute arose from local exercise of the right of private patronage of churches; which, though disallowed by the Act of Union of 1707, had been brought back by the united parliament in 1712 and during the eighteenth century had spread considerably. In 1834 the General Assembly of the Church of Scotland reaffirmed the right of heads of households in a parish to exclude by a majority vote an unacceptable presentee; and this was acted upon in Auchterarder in the same year, and followed in 1837 in Mamoch. Meantime the former quarrel had been the subject of litigation; in which the court of session upheld the patron’s authority, and the House of Lords on appeal limited the presbytery’s right of rejection to proved charges of heresy, ignorance or immorality. This decision, though legally impeccable, did not touch the difficult issue of the impossibility of harmonious relationship between a minister forced by a private patron upon a parish antipathetic to him. Moreover, Thomas Chalmers, the leader of the campaign for asserting the rights of the church, exercised a growing influence in the General Assembly; and by 1840 he had reached the conclusions that ‘Scottish patronage is a system not to be regulated but destroyed’, and that it represented ‘that great Erastian controversy in which all states and churches have a common interest’. Therefore in 1842 the General Assembly carried a resolution for the abolition of private patronage with a threat of secession if its wishes were not granted; and accompanied this by a declaration calling ‘the Christian people of this kingdom and all the churches of the Reformation throughout the whole world, who hold the great doctrine of the sole Headship of the Lord Jesus over his Church, to witness that it is for their adherence to that doctrine... that this Church is subject to hardship, and that the rights so sacredly pledged and secured to her are put in peril’. The queen’s administration finding these resolutions unacceptable, the threat was executed on 24 May 1843 when the Free Church of Scotland was founded by 474 seceding ministers, with the astonishing result that within four years this church had raised £1,250,000 and built 654 churches. The contemplation of this dramatic and successful defiance of Leviathan by the kingdom of fairies moved a modem commentator, not otherwise markedly sympathetic to the claims of the church, to record his surprise that more attention should not have been paid to the remarkable analogy between the Oxford movement and the Disruption of 1843 in the established church of Scotland. Each was essentially an anti-Erastian movement. It was against an all-absorptive state that each group of men was contending. There is a striking temporal parallel between the two movements. That of Oxford in the narrower sense begins in 1833 and ends with the conversion of Newman in 1845; that of which Chalmers was the distinguished leader, begins in 1834 with the abolition by the General Assembly of lay patronage and ends in 1843 with the secession of those who refuse to accept what they term an invasion of the peculiar province of the church by the state. In each case, as was well enough admitted by contemporaries, the attempt was made.. .to work out a doctrine of the church which, neglecting the state, gave the church the general organization of a perfect society.
As with the liberal Catholicism of Montalembert, the Church of Scotland had fortified protest with action; and in both cases Leviathan had not prevailed.
A lesser example of successful defiance of the state by the church occurred in England in 1851 with the restoration of a territorial Roman Catholic hierarchy instead of the system of government by vicars apostolic. In 1850 Pius IX had resolved on this change, which was heralded by a flamboyant pastoral letter by the new archbishop of Westminster, Nicholas Wiseman, which in turn aroused the slumbering No Popery alarms of English public opinion. The situation was not improved by Lord John Russell’s ‘Open Letter to the Bishop of Durham’, denouncing this ‘insolent and insidious action’ on 4 November 1850; and there survived until 1930 a nonagenarian Anglican prelate who remembered how on 5 November 1850 the Pope took the place of Guy Fawkes, when he himself took part at York in the burning of a life-size effigy bearing the legend ‘Oh, No, Pio No No’! Unfortunately the demonstrations were not confined to such schoolboy ebullitions; for Russell piloted on to the statute book an Ecclesiastical Titles Act, voted by large majorities despite the opposition of Bright and Gladstone, which prohibited the assumption of territorial titles by the Roman prelacy. Notwithstanding, the reorganisation of the Roman Catholics proceeded according to plan; the penalties of the act were not enforced; and Gladstone in his first administration was quietly to draw its teeth.
Meantime the strife between the established church and the Nonconformists, which accompanied the struggle for complete civil equality, after achieving its primary objectives in the grant of marriage and burial rights to the Dissenters, concentrated on education. The second generation of the nineteenth century indeed saw a gradual transformation of the educational system by the intrusion of the state into what had previously been a field of voluntary enterprise. The year 1833 saw the first governmental grant to education, when the sum of £20,000 was voted for division between the ‘National Society for promoting the education of the poor in the principles of the established church’ and its rival the ‘British and Foreign School Society’, in proportion to the number of schools under their respective direction. With the steady increase of state subvention (for by 1850 the annual amount had risen to £125,000), and therewith of state intervention (symbolised by the creation in 1839 of a committee of the privy council on education, which was replaced in 1856 by an Education Department under a Vice-President of the Council), there developed a severe clash of opinion between the established and the free churches concerning the use of public funds in support of schools teaching a denominational formulary. At first indeed the Nonconformists held fast to their traditional principle of voluntaryism, thus expressed by Edward Baines in 1843: ‘it is not the province of a government to educate the people; and the admission of the principle that it is its province would lead to practical consequences fatal to civil and religious liberty.’ But the accumulating evidence of the inability of churches and other voluntary societies to provide the means necessary for a nation-wide system, and the increasing interest in education evinced by the state, led to a change of position. By the middle of the century the Dissenters were in favour of state education, provided it were either secular or at least non-denominational; whilst the Anglicans, being in possession of by far the largest number of primary schools, refused to hand them over for either of these purposes. In Gladstone’s first administration the Forster Education Bill of 1870 brought the conflict to an issue; by its proposals to continue the voluntary schools (notwithstanding their predominantly Anglican complexion), to increase the state grant which they enjoyed, and to supplement them by the erection of board schools where necessity required. The religious issue was met by the Cowper-Temple clause which provided for non-denominational religious instruction in the new board schools, with permission for parents to withdraw their children from even this instruction on grounds of conscience. The act was a compromise and, like the Loi Falloux, it represented a substantial victory for the established church; and therefore drew the criticism of radical Free-churchmen, such as Dale of Birmingham who declared that ‘not even at the bidding of a liberal ministry will we consent to any proposition which under cover of an educational measure, empowers one religious denomination to levy a rate for teaching its creed and maintaining its worship’. The act did not resolve the interconfessional rivalry therefore, but introduced a further element of discord by accepting a dual system of schools; thereby perpetuating the controversy between Anglicans and Freechurchmen which was to bedevil public education for a further three-quarters of a century.
It is easy to dismiss the protracted history of disputes concerning education and the respective rights therein of churches and states, whether in France or in England, as an unusually virulent symptom of odium theologicum. But though the accidents of the controversies may appear trivial, the substance was of importance, as the emergence of the modern totalitarian state has emphasised. Moreover the recent echoes from the past in B. L. Manning’s history of The Protestant Dissenting Deputies, with its denunciation of ‘the woodenness of Gladstone and the maliciousness of Forster’, its scornful contempt for ‘the self-opinionated Gallios of the Board of Education’, and its concluding verdict that ‘the seeds of clerical and anti-clerical struggles hitherto unknown in England, were sown by the ex-Quaker Forster and watered by Whitehall agnostics’, suggest that in matters of religious education the discovery of that magic elixir which maketh men to be of one mind in an house may yet have eluded the English genius for pragmatic compromise. On the other hand, a singular example of this characteristic was seen in the Dissenters’ Chapels Act of 1845, by which twenty-five years’ actual possession was declared a legal warrant for the continuing enjoyment by Unitarians of churches, manses and endowments, originally bequeathed for the propagation of orthodox Protestant Trinitarian doctrine (and so adjudged in a series of judicial decisions concerning particular cases), which had devolved on Unitarian congregations during the eighteenth century. Rarely could the omnicompetence of the British parliament have been more strikingly displayed than in its determination of a theological issue without regard to the terms of trust deeds or the intentions of pious founders, in the interest of practical politics. More commendable were the gradual steps to open the ancient universities to non-anglicans, typified by the removal of restrictions on their admission to the B.A. degree at Oxford and Cambridge in 1854 and the M.A. two years later; and the process was virtually completed by Gladstone’s University Tests’ Act of 1871, which threw open to non-anglicans all offices in the universities of Oxford, Cambridge and Durham, with the exception of specifically clerical fellowships, headships of houses and divinity professorships. This statute opened the way also for the return of the Free-church theological colleges to the universities, to the mutual profit of church, state and academy.
The diversity of English religious life constituted, however, a marked obstacle to generalisation and summary. Whilst the Methodists suffered a severe setback during the first half of the century, thanks to an epidemic of internal divisions and secessions, culminating in the Fly Sheet controversy of 1844-8 and the consequent expulsion of about 57,000 persons, the Congregationalist and Baptist churches made the first moves towards closer association by the formation of their respective Unions in 1831, and the English Presbyterians effected the reorganisation essential to their recovery from the landslide of their eighteenth-century predecessors into Unitarianism. In the novelty of the religious census of 1851, the Church of England was recorded as possessing 14,077 churches with accommodation for 5,317,915 persons; followed by the Methodists (in their various separate groups) with 11,007 churches with accommodation for 2,194,298 persons; whilst the Independents had 3244 churches providing 1,067,760 sittings. The Roman Catholics, in addition to the reconstitution of their diocesan episcopate, had greatly strengthened their numbers by Irish immigration and by the vigorous proselytism of Wiseman, who was succeeded as archbishop of Westminster in 1865 by the convert from Anglicanism, Manning. The dramatic transformation of the Roman Catholic community from the ‘race that shunned the fight’ described by Newman to the vigorous, aggressive church fostered by Manning is most graphically depicted in the autobiography of Bishop W. B. Ullathome, whose long life from 1806 to 1899 spanned this historic century of expansion and consolidation.
Meantime, however, the accession of Pius IX to the Papacy in 1846 heralded a generation of strife in the relations between church and state in various European countries. The portent of his election (which evoked the remark of Metternich that he had reckoned with everything save a liberal Pope) rekindled hope among the Liberal Catholics that at last their cause would enjoy the championship of the apostolic see. But the liberalism of Pio Nono was distinctly diluted, proceeding from the goodness of his heart rather than the conviction of his head; and even its pristine manifestations, as reflected in an amnesty for political prisoners, a commission of inquiry into the necessary reforms in the administration of the Papal States and the nomination of a council of state and a ministry, were destined to perish in the rude shocks of 1848 (cf. ch. XXI, p. 565). For the revolutions of that year affected Rome also; where a republic was proclaimed, causing the flight of the pope to Gaeta, whence he returned in 1849 by the agency and under the continuing protection of French troops, dispatched by Louis Napoleon to outbid Austria and to secure for himself the prestige of defender of the church. The papal flirtation with liberalism was ended. Moreover, during his exile the pontiff had besought the especial protection of the Virgin Mary; and at Candlemas 1849 he circularised the episcopate as to the state of Catholic opinion concerning the elevation of the belief in her Immaculate Conception to the status of a dogma of faith. The suggestion had the enthusiastic support of the Jesuits, and the theological acumen of Professor Perrone of the Collegium Romanum elaborated the distinction between patent and latent tradition, justifying the latter as sufficient for the definition of a doctrine. On 8 December 1854 Pius IX formally defined and proclaimed ‘that the doctrine which teaches that the most blessed Virgin Mary in the first moment of her conception, by a special gift of grace from almighty God,... was preserved pure from all taint of original sin, is revealed by God’. Equally important with the content of the definition was the manner of its promulgation; for although inquiries had been made of the episcopate, and about 150 bishops present in Rome in November 1854 had debated the question at four meetings, the actual proclamation was made without the prior concurrence of a general council.
During the decade separating the definition of the Immaculate Conception from the issue of the Syllabus of Errors, the relations between church and state, particularly in Italy, grew steadily worse. Not only was Piedmont-Sardinia secularising ecclesiastical property and controlling public education, but its foreign policy was pregnant with difficulties for the Papacy. In 1859 the alliance between Napoleon III and Cavour was the prelude to the expulsion of Austria from the Lombard plain, the annexation of the central duchies, the expedition of Garibaldi to Sicily and south Italy, and the extinction of the Papal States, reserving to the apostolic see only the city of Rome, and even this only by grace of the French garrison’s prolongation of its precarious occupation (cf. ch. XXI, pp. 571-4). In an attempt to extricate himself from so equivocal a situation, Napoleon III concluded the September Convention of 1864; by which, in return for Victor Emmanuel’s promise to establish the capital of Italy elsewhere than at Rome, which should be guaranteed to the Papacy, the emperor undertook to withdraw permanently his garrison. But the departing French troops had gone no farther than Civita Vecchia when a further threat to the papal possession of Rome developed, and they returned hurriedly to prop up the surviving fraction of the temporal power. It was amid such portents of revolution and rebellion that the pope resolved to launch upon the world a comprehensive catalogue of erroneous principles and opinions, formally censured by ecclesiastical authority.
The origin of the Syllabus may probably be traced to a proposal of the future Leo XIII, then bishop of Perugia, at a council at Spoleto in 1849 that Pius IX should issue a list of contemporary errors relating to the authority of the church and the rights of property. In 1851 the new monthly Jesuit magazine, the Civilta Cattolica, advocated the addition of the errors of rationalism and semi-rationalism; in 1854 a papal commission of theologians began work on the preparation of the scheme; whilst in 1860 Bishop Gerbet of Perpignan (a former disciple of Lamennais!) issued an Instruction pastorale sur diverses erreurs du temps present, which contained eighty-five false opinions. A further papal commission was appointed to conflate these several suggestions; and meantime Montalembert’s activities had supplied further subjects for condemnation. The fortunes of liberal Catholicism indeed during and after 1848 had fluctuated severely. Whereas at first in France the revolution had appeared to inaugurate the desired union of Catholicism and republicanism (as country cures blessed the ubiquitous planting of trees of liberty, three bishops were members of the constituent assembly, and Lacordaire was elected by popular suffrage for Marseilles), the June days darkened the situation, especially when the archbishop of Paris was rewarded for his adhesion to the regime by death during the tumults. Accordingly most Liberal Catholics welcomed the rise of Louis Napoleon. Political liberalism, however, was now postponed to the distant and half-hearted experiment of the liberal empire (cf. ch. XVII, pp. 456-7); and liberal Catholicism could not hope to find the atmosphere of the Second Empire congenial. Its champions had perforce to look abroad for the triumph of their principles. It was at a Catholic congress in 1863 at Malines (where the Liberal-Catholic movement had enjoyed its first Spring and early Summer) that Montalem-bert once more raised his standard. He congratulated Belgium on having understood ‘the new situation of public life’ and having accepted the reciprocal independence of the spiritual and temporal powers; and observed that just as Catholics had nothing to regret in the old order, so they had nothing to fear from the new. Indeed, the history of Belgium since 1830 had justified the alliance of the Liberal-Catholic group led by Sterckx with the political democrats to produce the Constitution of 1831; and Cardinal Sterckx was still directing the policy of the Belgian episcopate until his death in 1867. Montalembert was at pains to make his meaning explicit by affirming his acceptance of religious liberty with the attendant risk of heresy and by equating religious persecution with political: ‘The Spanish inquisitor who said to the heretic: “the truth, or death”, is as odious to me as the French terrorist who said to my grandfather, “liberty and fraternity, or death”.’ Moreover, he uttered a panegyric on liberty. ‘By liberty I mean complete liberty, not political liberty without religious liberty; I mean quite simply modern liberty, democratic liberty, founded upon the common law and upon equality and regulated by reason and justice. For my part I frankly confess that I see an immense step forward in this solidarity between Catholicism and public liberty.’ Such an unequivocal adoption of Cavour’s maxim of a free church in a free state and of democratic liberty without qualification earned for him a formal delation to Rome by Bishop Pie of Poitiers, who pressed for an explicit censure of his opinions by name. Pius IX, however, whilst avowing in respect of liberty of conscience that the church could never admit or approve it in principle but only as a matter of expediency, declined to pronounce a personal censure on Montalembert, and reserved the condemnation of his principles for the forthcoming compendium of errors. In regard to the acceptance of freedom of conscience as an expedient, whilst disapproving it as matter of principle, an article in the Civilta Cattolica of 6 December 1863 on the Malines congress was reported to reproduce not only the ideas but the words of the pope himself; particularly ‘the distinction between the thesis and the hypothesis which is the fundamental theme in the article, is no mere idea, it is also a formula presented by the Holy Father with whom the editors have talked at length on this subject’.
The Syllabus Errorum with an attendant encyclical, Quanta Cura, was issued on 8 December 1864. The encyclical began by recalling that Pius IX had previously condemned the monstrous portent of the opinions of the age, and must now repeat his censure in respect of other depraved and profligate opinions, which flowed from these errors and corrupted both individuals and society. First was the application to civil society of the principle of naturalism and the doctrine that civil society should make no distinction between the true religion and false beliefs; which St Augustine had denounced as a liberty leading to perdition; and which led to such societies being governed only by natural force and public opinion. Next the error of socialism and communism was reprobated, as denying the divine origin of the family and the exclusive right of the church to direct the education of the young, and therefore being hostile to the clergy, who were considered enemies to useful knowledge and the progress of civilisation. Further, these erroneous opinions subjected the church to the state, regarded ecclesiastical law as binding only if enforced by temporal sanctions, secularised church property and revenues, and denied the independent sovereignty and authority of the church. The encyclical concluded with a warning against deniers of the divinity of Christ and with an exhortation to prayer and invocation of the Virgin Mary.
The Syllabus or Collection of Modern Errors embraced eighty propositions. The first two sections condemned pantheism, naturalism and absolute rationalism in seven propositions, followed by a further seven in condemnation of moderate rationalism. Such ancillary errors as denial of revelation or assertion that it was progressive in character, denial of the biblical prophecies and miracles and the assertion that the Bible contains myths, were reproved. Four propositions relating to indifferentism and latitudinarianism were next censured, including the beliefs that salvation is procurable through any religion and that protestantism is an equally sound version of Christianity as Catholicism. A single comprehensive condemnation sufficed for socialism, communism and secret societies, including Bible societies and free church societies. Twenty propositions relating to the nature, rights and authority of the church were arraigned, specifically the denials that the church is a perfect society, that the catholic religion is the only true religion, and that the church has any temporal power, either direct or indirect. Seventeen erroneous propositions concerning civil society were reproved; including the opinions that the civil power had the right to concern itself with religion and morals; that the state should control education; and that church and state ought to be separated. A further nine concerning natural and Christian ethics were condemned, particularly the belief that ethics and morals can be maintained without the basis and sanctions of revealed religion, and the maxim favoured by many states of neutrality or non-intervention in ecclesiastical matters. Ten propositions relating to Christian marriage were reproved; including the denial of the sacramental character of marriage, the assertion of the legitimacy of divorce and generally the belief that matrimonial cases are a matter for civil magistrates. Two propositions anathematised erroneous opinions about the temporal power of the Papacy, which held it to be unnecessary for the liberty and well-being of the apostolic see. Finally, four articles condemned false opinions concerning contemporary liberalism; that it was no longer expedient that Catholicism alone should have the position of an established religion; that in Catholic states immigrants of other beliefs should enjoy religious toleration; that liberty should be granted to all citizens to propagate their own religious beliefs; and that the Roman Pontiff can and ought to be reconciled to and come to terms with progress, liberalism and modem civilisation.
Immediately a controversy arose concerning the interpretation of these two documents. The Encyclical was one of a series of papal pronouncements against modem errors; the Syllabus a brief compendium and summary of various propositions taken from previous papal allocutions and with references to thirty-two utterances of Pius IX; and both were accompanied by a covering letter from the cardinal secretary of state Antonelli to the episcopate. ‘The Pope has already in encyclicals and allocutions condemned the principal errors of this most unhappy age. But all of you may not have received all the pontifical acts. Therefore the Pope wished a Syllabus of these errors to be drawn up for the use of all the catholic bishops, that they may have before their eyes the pernicious doctrines that he has proscribed.’ Taken at its face value, the Syllabus seemed to be a direct assault on the basic principles of modem society and to constitute a decisive rebuttal of all attempts of Liberal Catholics to effect their reconciliation. As such the Ultramontanes welcomed the papal pronouncements with acclamation. But was this the correct interpretation? Or could they bear a comparatively innocuous meaning? Bishop Dupanloup published a pamphlet, La Convention du 15 septembre et l'encyclique du 8 decembre, in which, accepting the distinction between the thesis and the hypothesis—a point well understood amongst theologians and also mentioned in the Civilta Cattolica—he observed that the papal document declared the thesis, that is the absolute principles which ideally should govern a Christian society; but that this did not exclude the practical recognition and even acceptance de facto by the Papacy of the hypothesis, namely the practical compromises necessitated by an evil and gainsaying generation. All that Pius IX therefore had done was to recall the absolute principles of Christianity, which might be forgotten in prospect of the immediate makeshifts and compromises of the present situation. Thus, whilst Rome could not approve religious toleration and freedom of conscience as a universal ideal and absolute right, it could allow a modus vivendi with actual states which had enacted this in their constitution. So the Papacy could accept what was good in modem civilisation whilst repudiating what was evil; it was not progress or civilisation as such which were condemned, but a certain progress and a certain civilisation. The relief accorded to Catholic consciences by Dupanloup’s exegesis was seen in the fact that many bishops expressed their gratitude to him, and the pope himself thanked him for his work. In similar vein Newman in England argued that ‘as to the Syllabus, it has no connection with the Encyclical except that of date. It does not come from the Pope;... and it is not a direct act of the Pope, but comes to the bishops from Cardinal Antonelli, with the mere coincidence of time, and as a fact, each condemnation having only the weight which it had in the original papal document in which it is to be found. If an Allocution is of no special weight, neither is the condemnation of a proposition which it contains.’ To these troubled clerical voices there was added later that of a freethinking Frenchman, Emile Ollivier, chief minister of Napoleon’s short-lived liberal empire, who likewise interpreted the documents of 1864 as of little importance, and particularly minimised the significance of the Syllabus.
On this interpretation, the scattered episcopate would need to engage in considerable historical research in order to be sure of the exact meaning and degree of authority attaching to each censured proposition. For example, they would need to discover that the condemnation of Free Church societies referred only to certain societies founded by Italian clergy of the Piedmontese kingdom which were concerned with the internal politics of Italy. Again, the condemnation of state control of education related only to the law of Piedmont abolishing clerical control of the instruction of youth, and the censure of the principle of non-intervention had reference to the political acts of aggression by Piedmont against the Papal States and the abstention by other European Catholic powers from the defence of the Papacy. Thus also the final resounding proposition was taken from an allocution of 1861 in which the pope specified certain anti-Catholic tendencies with which he could not compromise.
If the Liberal Catholic interpretation were correct, it must be allowed that what Dom Cuthbert Butler wrote of the final proposition, is true of all: ‘as a piece of indexing, this proposition, thus out of its context, was singularly unfortunate’. For assuredly the pope had chosen an unfortunate means of drawing the attention of all the bishops to various of his previous utterances, by abstracting them from their context and setting them forward apparently as succinct, authoritative statements of principle. Moreover, the purpose of circulating the Syllabus was stated in the covering letter to be that all the bishops would not have read all these separate papal pronouncements. To what end was the pith of them circulated without any of the qualifying and restrictive interpretations of their context, and in a form necessitating considerable investigation to establish their relevance and purport?
Two days before the publication of the Syllabus, Pius IX confided secretly to the cardinals of the Congregation of Rites that he had been considering the summoning of a General Council, and invited their counsel. Twenty-one replied; of whom only two were definitely opposed, six gave a qualified approval, whilst the majority accorded unqualified support; and a great number and variety of subjects for consideration were suggested. Accordingly, in March 1865 a Commission of five cardinals was nominated to prepare for the project; and in April a confidential letter was sent to thirty-four selected bishops (including Dupanloup and Manning), whose answers were mostly favourable, though the bishop of Orleans wished for postponement, whilst eight prelates included papal infallibility amongst their suggested subjects for discussion. On 26 June 1867, therefore, the pope formally announced his intention to convoke a General Council. By this time Dupanloup, and a majority of French Liberal Catholics, had swung round in favour of a council. They even professed confidence that it would pronounce in favour of their minimising interpretation of the Syllabus, and be a powerful influence towards a constitutional papal monarchy by emphasising the importance of the episcopate. In reply to the papal allocution an address was signed by 500 bishops, welcoming the proposal, and couched in language described as ‘flamboyant, effusive and even adulatory. But Pio Nono was a very old man, and in a wonderful way the object of catholic affection, sympathy, admiration and enthusiasm.’ Preparations were now accelerated by the setting up of five commissions to deal respectively with matters of faith and doctrine, ecclesiastical discipline and canon law, religious orders and regulars, oriental churches and foreign missions, and politico-ecclesiastical affairs and the relations of church and state. Amongst theologians and canonists invited to Rome as consultors was the most learned conciliar historian of the Roman church, C. J. Hefele (later a member of the council as bishop of Rottenburg); and on 28 June 1868 the bull of summons was published, fixing the date of assembly for 8 December 1869, and referring to a wide and varied agenda of subjects for deliberation, without any specific mention of papal infallibility.
This official reticence did not mean that the definition of this new dogma was not already a matter of widespread discussion and controversy. On 8 February 1869 the Civilta Cattolica described catholic opinion in France as desiring the council to define the Syllabus so as to remove doubts about its interpretation, to carry the definition of papal infallibility by acclamation, and to proceed further to proclaim the dogma of the Assumption of the Virgin Mary. It seems probable that the article was a deliberate ballon d'essai. Its importance was generally recognised; and provoked a reply in a remarkable series of articles in the Augsburger Allgemeine Zeitung by Ignatius von Dollinger, the doyen of the Roman Catholic school of church history at Munich, which were later published with additional matter, as a volume entitled The Pope and the Council, over the pseudonym of Janus. The significance of Dollinger’s learned survey of the historical evidence could hardly be overstated. The fame of the Catholic school of history at Munich, including also J. A. Mohler and Hefele, had been one of the glories of the Roman church; and the mordant articles of Dollinger showed that the new proposal would not command the assent of some of its most erudite scholars. In The Pope and the Council there was nothing of the opportunism which weakened French liberal Catholicism; though from the latter quarter indeed there appeared Du Concile general et de la paix religieuse by the dean of the Catholic theological faculty of the Sorbonne, Mgr Maret, which advocated the position taken in the famous decree Frequens of the Council of Constance, declaring the superior authority of a General Council over the Papacy and the desirability of such councils being held decennially. Both Maret and Dupanloup, however, before leaving France for the Council, issued a declaration of their adhesion and submission to whatever the assembly should finally decree.
In summoning the council, the pope had been faced by the difficult question whether invitations should be sent to Roman Catholic sovereigns. Papal relations with Victor Emmanuel evidently forbade his being invited; and this decision carried the corollary that no other Catholic rulers should be asked to send official representatives. This break with tradition provoked suspicion and criticism among the chancelleries of Europe, whilst by no means solving the problem of the relations of the civil powers to the council. For the assembly and continuance of the prelates depended upon the presence of Napoleon Ill’s troops in Rome; if they were withdrawn, the Italian government would march into the city, and the council would be automatically suspended. Moreover, the position of Napoleon himself was delicate; growing Franco-Prussian tension demanded a close association with Italy; whilst Catholic opinion at home demanded the continued withholding of Rome from Victor Emmanuel. The south German Catholic state of Bavaria was anxious to promote joint diplomatic action by the chief European powers in regard to the programme of the council. Austria was hesitant, however, and Prussia unwilling; but, as Bismarck pointed out, France had the fate of the assembly entirely in its hands. In England Gladstone, the prime minister, was eagerly interested in the ecclesiastical question, closely allied with Lord Acton and sympathetic towards the anti-infallibilists, whereas his foreign secretary Lord Clarendon was briefed from the opposite standpoint by Odo Russell, the British representative in Rome, who in turn was plied with arguments by Manning, whom the pope dispensed from the oath of secrecy imposed upon the Conciliar fathers in order that he might prevent action on the part of Great Britain. In such a delicate diplomatic situation, although the assembly of the council had been unimpeded by political pressure, the course of its proceedings might at any time imperil the uneasy equilibrium.
From the organisation of its procedure such difficulties might arise in various ways. The very intricacies of managing the business of an assembly attended at its first congregation by 679 persons were formidable; and the provisions made in the bull Multiplices Inter of 2 December did not escape criticism. This document vested the right of proposing questions for deliberation by the council in the pope, whose decision was to be final upon suggestions submitted by the bishops. The council was to have as the basis of discussions in its general congregations a series of schemata drawn up by the preparatory theological and canonical commissions; and if after such discussion they needed revision, the task was to be committed to four deputations, each of twenty-four bishops, chosen by secret ballot. When revised, they were to be debated again in general congregation; and the final approval was to be given at a public session, where, after the bishops had voted placet or non placet, the pope solemnly proclaimed them. The first excitement occurred in the election of the deputation on Faith; preparatory to which a list of twenty-four names was circulated by Cardinal de Angelis to all the bishops, in honour of the Blessed Mary of the Immaculate Conception. When these twenty-four zealous infallibilists were elected to this vitally important deputation, to the exclusion of all anti-infalhbilists, the latter felt themselves to have been tricked. This was hardly a promising overture to the council.
Worse, however, was to follow. The first schemata were all so roughly handled as to need drastic revision, and by this time it had become evident that the conciliar programme was badly out of order. From 25 February to 8 March therefore no general congregations were held, ostensibly in order that improvements might be made in the acoustic properties of that part of St Peter’s used for the conciliar meetings, but actually to seek some way out of the procedural deadlock. This was found by the issue of new regulations; schemata were to be distributed to the bishops for their consideration and for submission of amendments in writing, prior to discussion in congregations. The appropriate deputations, after examining these written amendments, could then revise the schemata and submit them for oral discussion. It would still be possible for further amendments to be made during the debates; but the most important and controversial regulation was that by which closure could be applied to a debate in general congregation if ten bishops made a written request to this end and if the council by a simple majority voted for closure. Ninety bishops signed a protest against this method of procedure, and the ruling raised the delicate issue as to whether moral unanimity, as distinct from a numerical majority, was essential for a dogmatic definition. There was an evident difference between the application of the closure and the sufficiency of a majority vote in temporal legislatures, whose enactments could be repealed by subsequent assemblies, and the solemnity and unanimity requisite for the final acceptance by a general council of a dogmatic definition, which would remain irrevocable and irreversible. By this time the minority was deeply suspicious of the tactics of the majority and increasingly sensitive to anything bearing an appearance of a further entrenchment on its own rights.
On 21 January, moreover, there had been circulated the scheme Concerning the Church which touched all the nerve-centres of contemporary relations between church and state. It was a lengthy document, the first ten chapters of which defined the doctrine of the church, the two following dealt with the Roman primacy (but did not include the question of papal infallibility as distinct from the magisterium) and with the temporal power of the Papacy, and the last three with the relations of church and state. Although the subsequent insertion of a definition of papal infallibility became the principal, and even the sole, topic of conciliar discussion and diplomacy, at first interest centred in the chapters defining the relations of church and state. In these the ideal of the recognition of the church by the state was reaffirmed; the right of the Papacy to pronounce on and to censure the actions of the temporal power in accordance with the Christian revelation was asserted; and the schema claimed for the church the control of education, the exemption of its ministry from military service, the right to set up without restraint religious orders and to acquire and hold property and revenues. Amongst some Catholic states, the claim implicit in this section of the project De Ecclesia that the spiritual power possessed an indirect authority over the temporal caused considerable perturbation; and the question of a concerted diplomatic demarche to the pope was raised again.
Evidently the crux of this issue was the attitude of France, where on 2 January 1870 Ollivier had become First Minister. Ollivier was an unwavering champion of non-intervention in the affairs of the council; but the foreign minister, Count Daru, a friend of several leading Liberal Catholics was anxious to intervene; and the leakage of De Ecclesia to the press provided the occasion. On 20 February therefore, with the assent of the emperor, but without informing Ollivier, Daru sent a dispatch to the French ambassador for presentation to Cardinal Antonelli; but on the following day, when he reported his action to the council of ministers, orders were sent to delay presentation until they had had an opportunity of considering its terms. After revision and considerable toning-down from Ollivier, the memorandum was approved on 23 February. It was not an ultimatum; but a reminder to the Papacy that the issues raised by implication in De Ecclesia were an object of anxious concern to civil powers and an exhortation to the council to walk circumspectly in framing decrees on practical questions concerning the relations of church and state. Even so, if supported emphatically, this warning might have been effective. But Ollivier, increasingly convinced of the fundamental unwisdom of any overt act, set himself to win support from his ministerial colleagues and the emperor for his own policy of strict non-intervention, whilst Daru vainly canvassed the chancelleries of Europe for active support. On 19 March Antonelli’s reply was dispatched, which underlined the distinction between thesis and hypothesis, reaffirmed the authority of the Papacy to censure the actions of civil powers, and dismissed Daru’s fears as illusory. Faced by this retort courteous, which had not receded an iota from the words of De Ecclesia, the French administration resolved simply to iterate its former sentiments but without further diplomatic pressure. Moreover, on 11 April Daru resigned; and the telegram sent from Paris to Rome announcing this event succintly summarised its importance: ‘Daru resigns, Ollivier takes his place, Council free.’ The hope and threat of positive action by France had vanished. Henceforth the council could follow its own course.
The diplomatic episode indeed had been of greater importance in regard to the definition of papal infallibility than to the menaced rights of the civil power. For on 6 March it was announced that a schema on infallibility would be introduced for discussion in general congregation, and its text was distributed. Even so, with other schemata claiming priority of debate, it was doubtful when the new document would obtain attention. Accordingly a series of petitions to the pope were organised, praying him to accord precedence to the definition of infallibility; and these were followed by counter petitions from the minority. Pius IX acceded to the former requests and henceforth gave absolute priority to this question. On 13 May therefore the formal debate began, covering fifteen days, during which sixty-five bishops spoke; and forty more names had been entered when on 3 June a petition of 150 bishops for the application of the closure was carried, which in turn was followed by a protest from eighty bishops. The detailed consideration of the several sections followed from 6 June to 4 July and on 13 July the council took its penultimate vote on the schema defining the papal magistracy (magisterium) and infallibility, in which 451 bishops voted placet, eighty-eight non-placet and sixty-two gave conditional approval (placet juxta modum). After further consideration by the appropriate deputation and some not unimportant alterations, the revised definition was carried on 16 July, and the public conciliar session for the final vote and promulgation of the dogma was appointed for 18 July. On that date therefore, nature cooperating in the solemnities of the day by the incidence of a thunderstorm, 533 placets were recorded against two non-placets', and the constitution Pastor Aeternus was promulgated. Fifty-five bishops had departed from Rome after sending a letter to the pope explaining the reasons for their absence from the final session. On 19 July war was declared between France and Prussia; on 20 September Italian troops took possession of Rome, and on 20 October the pope prorogued the council sine die.
The definition of the papal magistracy and infallibility was thus carried without its attendant sections De Ecclesia, into which schema it should have fitted and of which it was a constituent element. Its first chapter defined the Petrine primacy, its second the perpetuity of this primacy in the Roman pontiff's, and its third declared the power and nature of the papal magistracy. It affirmed that ‘this power of jurisdiction of the Roman Pontiff, which is truly episcopal, is immediate’, that all, both pastors and people, are bound to submit to it in all things, including matters of government and discipline; and that this magistracy is so far from ‘being of any prejudice to the ordinary and immediate power of episcopal jurisdiction, by which bishops, who have been set by the Holy Ghost to succeed and hold the place of the apostles, feed and govern each his own flock as true pastors, that this their episcopal authority is really asserted, strengthened and protected by the supreme and universal Pastor.’ The fourth chapter defined the infallibility; ‘that the pope, when he speaks ex cathedra to define a doctrine regarding faith or morals to be held by the universal church, is possessed of that infallibility bestowed by Christ on his church, and therefore such definitions of the Roman Pontiff are irreformable of themselves and not from the consent of the church.’ The definition as promulgated was a compromise between the desires of a majority of bishops for a stronger and of a minority for a weaker document. In regard to the papal magistracy, the minority wished to omit ‘truly episcopal’ and to explain ‘ordinary and immediate power’; and in respect of the infallibility to insert either ‘and supported by the witness of the churches’ (et testimonio ecclesiarum innixus) or ‘not excluding the bishops’ (non exclusis episcopis), in order to associate formally the authority of the church with papal prerogative. They failed to secure any of these modifications; instead, after the penultimate vote on the schema and before its final acceptance by the council, the infallibility definition was altered by the addition of the words in relation to papal definitions: ‘not however by the consent of the church’ (non autem ex consensu Ecclesiae). On the other hand the careful definition of the conditions of the exercise of the prerogative of infallibility, that the pope should speak ex cathedra and that his pronouncements should be confined to the spheres of faith and morals, were more restrictive than some of the majority had desired. The prorogation of the council as a result of international events prevented further consideration of the rest of the schema De Ecclesia and therewith a possible definition of the respective spheres and degrees of authority of Papacy and episcopate.
The political aftermath of the council indeed was unfavourable. On i November the pope placed the king and government of Italy under the ban of the church for their invasion of Rome; and refused all offers of compromise, including the law of guarantees, which offered all reasonable concessions short of renunciation of Rome as Italy’s capital. This dissension remained unhealed until the concordat with Mussolini in 1929. In France the collapse of Napoleon Ill’s regime, the Paris Commune and the protracted division between monarchists and republicans sowed the seeds of a fierce harvest of hostility between church and state. The emergence of Prussia as the dominant power in the German empire and the Kulturkampf of Bismarck against Rome presented the Papacy with its most acute conflict. Ecclesiastically, however, the Vatican definition secured easy general acceptance. The French Liberal Catholics were weakened fatally by internal divisions between anti-infallibilists and inopportunists; the former alone opposing the dogma on the ground of the contrary evidence of history, whilst the latter merely argued for the inopportuneness of its present definition. Moreover, the inopportunist bishops had relied on diplomatic intervention by Napoleon Ill’s administration to save them from direct opposition to the wishes of Pius IX; and when this hope was frustrated, their ineffectiveness was manifest. A few prelates east of the Rhine, notably Hefele, Schwarzenberg, Haynald and Strossmayer, held out for varying periods before publishing the decrees and requiring their acceptance; but the most determined resistance came from the German universities of Munich, Bonn and Prague, culminating in the excommunication of professors Dollinger and Friedrich. From this there followed the Old Catholic schism which spread over to Switzerland and the Netherlands. But the dissidents were insignificant in numbers, though influential in erudition.
In Great Britain the affairs of the Church of Ireland, which had caused both ecclesiastical and political trouble throughout the period, came to a head in 1869. During the 1830’s the payment of tithes to the Protestant Church of Ireland by Roman Catholics had provoked a protracted and bitter dispute, and the resultant act of 1838 had fixed a tithe rent charge on landlords, which involved the clergy in the loss of one-quarter of their ancient revenues. Before this problem had been thus settled, the Church Temporalities Act of 1833, the result of the report of a royal commission on the revenues of the Irish church published in 1832, had reduced the number of sees by amalgamation, and in so doing had provoked Keble’s protest against National Apostasy, which Newman regarded as the proper beginning of the Oxford Movement. The grant of Roman Catholic emancipation in 1829 was bound indeed to lead to an increasing demand from Irish Roman Catholics for the disestablishment of the Church of Ireland; though the controversies about education during the middle of the century delayed the assault on the church. What could not have been anticipated, however, was that disestablishment would be effected by Gladstone, whose early views had demanded the maintenance of the establishment both in Ireland and England. The agitation of Cardinal Cullen, Sir John Gray, and Mr W. J. O’Neil Daunt was to be expected; but the conversion of Gladstone in 1865 to the principle of disestablishment and his avowal in 1867 of his intention to discharge ‘a debt of civil justice, the disappearance of a national, almost a world-wide reproach, a condition indispensable to the success of every effort to secure the peace and contentment of that country’, sounded the death-knell of the Irish establishment. In 1869, despite the opposition of the episcopate and clergy of the Church of Ireland, the act of disestablishment and disendowment was carried; though its protagonist had made no practical provisions for the reconstitution of the disestablished church. The measure was certainly a portent of the change of mind on the part of the whilom author of ‘The State in its relations with the Church’; and there was evidence to suggest that Gladstone was even beginning to contemplate in the abstract the possibility of a victory of the Nonconformist campaign for the like separation of church and state in England. The Irish episode encouraged his Free-church supporters in their persistent demand for disestablishment in England; but no further success was to attend their efforts until the Welsh church disestablishment act of 1914.
The churches during this period became much more keenly interested in social questions, and as a result developed a Christian social conscience. Indeed the ‘condition-of-the-people’ question became one of their major preoccupations. In France the intimate relationship between liberal Catholicism and social questions was writ in such large letters in the career of Lamennais that he who ran might read; and his principles influenced many of his followers. Ozanam and his Society of St Vincent de Paul were active in good works, mainly of an ameliorative character in relation to individuals, whilst Buchez became the theorist of Catholic democracy. In 1848 a group of French Catholics associated with L'Ere nouvelle, a journal founded by Lacordaire and continued by Mgr Maret, upheld the principles of a Catholic social order. The victory of conservatism by the establishment of the Second Empire, however, gave little opportunity for the spread of their doctrines. In Germany Ketteler represented a moderate social Catholicism and Dollinger was aware of the existence of social problems and of the need for sympathetic study by Catholic clergy and laity. In England a school of Christian socialism developed from the teaching and practical experiments of F. D. Maurice, for whom competition was antichristian, whilst co-operation was the divine law of the universe. He taught that socialism must be christianised if it was to remain true to its ideals and realise them in practice, whilst the church must accept the fundamental principle of co-operation. His own practical experiments in socialism failed; but he was a prophet bom out of due time, and one of the seminal thinkers of his age. With the close of the Vatican Council, however, one generation was passing and another taking its place. Lacordaire had died in 1860, and Montalembert was to follow in 1870; and new problems and new men were to occupy the stage during the last generation of the nineteenth century.
Behind all the controversies concerning church and state, education and even social questions, moreover, the churches were facing the most serious and far-reaching challenge to the fundamentals of the Christian faith since the thirteenth century, thanks to the rapid discoveries in the various natural and applied sciences and to the movement of higher and lower criticism of the Bible. From the side of science Lyell’s Principles of Geology in 1830 and his Evidence of the Antiquity of Man in 1863 overthrew the biblical chronology of creation worked out by Ussher; whilst Darwin’s Origin of Species in 1859 set forth the revolutionary theory of evolution by natural selection in place of the biblical story of special creation. In 1865 E. B. Tylor’s Researches into the Early History of Mankind raised new problems of anthropology and of the comparative study of religion. But if the impact of these studies upon religion was indirect (though not the less disturbing for that), the assault of literary and historical criticism of the Bible itself was direct and revolutionary. In regard to the Old Testament, the pioneer work of Eichhorn in the eighteenth century was followed in the nineteenth by Ewald’s History of the People of Israel (1843), which interpreted the patriarchal period of the Hebrews as mythical and regarded Moses as the first historical figure; whilst De Wette argued that Deuteronomy belonged to the reign of Josiah, and Kuenen’s Religion of Israel (1869) carried the process farther by contending that polytheism was the original Hebrew faith which survived until the exile. These theories were consummated by Wellhausen’s History of Israel (1878), which elaborated the critical hypotheses concerning the Old Testament writings, placing the eighth-century prophetic books as the earliest and relegating much of the Pentateuch to a late date in Hebrew history. A faint anticipation of these theories had been set forth in England by H. H. Milman’s History of the Jews (1830), which sought to prepare educated opinion for the shocks to come from Germany. More serious were the critical onslaughts on the New Testament. D. F. Strauss’s Leben Jesu, translated by George Eliot in 1846, presented the gospels not as historical biographies but as mythical embodiments of spiritual truth. The author insisted that the religious value of the gospels was independent of their authenticity as historical documents. When the Tubingen school led by F. C. Baur sought to defend the substantial historicity of the New Testament by interpreting it, in accordance with Hegelian principles, as the result of a conflict between Judaistic and Gentile Christianity, which culminated in the evolution of Catholicism, little comfort was derived by the orthodox. E. Renan’s Vie de Jesus (1863) further disturbed traditional convictions. It was amidst this confusion and overturning of long-established opinions concerning the nature of revelation, the historical character of the Bible and the relationship of Christianity to science and to the comparative study of religions, that the churches entered into the last generation of the nineteenth century. The story of their gradual acceptance of the discoveries of science on the one hand and of the principles of biblical criticism on the other belongs to a later stage than the present narrative. Compared, however, with these far-reaching and fundamental issues, the strife between churches and states sinks into secondary place. Furthermore, the nineteenth century was witnessing contemporaneously the greatest missionary expansion of Christianity since the early centuries of its history; and this was chiefly the work of the non-Roman churches, particularly in the United States. Viewed against this vaster stage the quarrels of churches and states in the original Respublica Christiana of the European continent fade even farther into the background of old, unhappy, far-off things and battles long ago.