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§ 36. The Old Catholics.
I. By Old Catholic Authors.
The writings of Döllinger, Reinkens, von Schulte, Friedrich, Huber, Reusch, Langen, Michelis, Hyacinthe Loyson, Michaud, bearing on the Vatican Council and the Old Catholic movement since 1870. See Literature in §§ 31 and 34.
The Reports of the Old Catholic Congresses, held at Munich, September, 1871; at Cologne, September, 1872; at Constance, September, 1873; at Freiburg, 1874. Published at Munich, Cologne, Leipzig, and Bonn.
Joseph Hubert Reinkens: Katholischer Bischof, den im alten Kathol. Glauben verharrenden Priestern und Laien des deutschen Reiches. Dated August 11, 1873 (the day of his consecration).
The Letter of the Old Catholic Congress of Constance (signed by Bishop Reinkens, President von Schulte, and the Vice-Presidents Cornelius and Keller) to the General Conference of the Evangelical Alliance, held at New York, October, 1873. In the Proceedings of the Conference, New York, 1874.
P. H. Reusch: Bericht über die am 14, 15, und 16 Sept. 1874, zu Bonn gehaltenen Unions-Conferenzen, im Auftrag Dr. v. Döllinger herausgegeben, Bonn, 1875 (75 pp.).
Deutscher Merkur, Organ für die Katholische Reformbewegung, ed. by Hirschwälder, Weltpriester. The popular aud official weekly organ since 1871.
Theologisches Literaturblatt, ed. by Prof. Reusch, Bonn. The literary organ of the Old Catholics (10th year, 1875).
II. By Protestant Authors.
Friedberg: Sammlung der Actenstücke zum ersten Vatic. Concil. Tübingen, 1872, pp. 53–63, 625–731, 775–898.
Frommann: Geschichte und Kritik des Vatic. Concils. Gotha, 1872, pp. 250–272.
J. Williamson Nevin (of Lancaster, Pa.): The Old Catholic Movement, in the 'Mercersburg Review' for April, 1873, pp. 240–294.
The Alt-Catholic Movement (anonymous), in the (Amer. Episc.) 'Church Review,' New York, July, 1873.
W. Krafft (Professor of Church History in Bonn): The Vatican Council and the Old Catholic Movement, read before, and published in the Proceedings of, the General Conference of the Evangelical Alliance in New York, October, 1873.
Cæsar Pronier (late Professor of Theology in the Free Church Seminary at Geneva, perished in the shipwreck of the Ville du Havre, Nov. 22, 1873, on his return from the General Conference of the Evangelical Alliance): Roman Catholicism in Switzerland since the Proclamation of the Syllabus, 1873 (in the Proceedings of the Alliance Conference, New York, 1874).
III. By Roman Catholics.
Besides many controversial writings since the year 1870 (quoted in part in §§ 31 and 34, and articles in Roman Catholic reviews (as the Dublin Review, the Civiltà Cattolica, the Catholic World) and newspapers (as the Paris L’Univers, the London Tablet, the Berlin Germania, etc.), see especially the Papal Encyclical of Nov. 21, 1873, in condemnation of the 'new heretics,' miscalled 'Old Catholics.'
The Old Catholic movement—the most important in the Latin Church since the Reformation, with the exception, perhaps, of Jansenism—began during the Vatican Council, and was organized into a distinct Church three years afterwards (1873), at Constance, in the very hall where, three hundred and sixty years before, an œcumenical Council was held which, by deposing two rival Popes and electing another, asserted its superiority over the Papacy, but which, by burning John Huss for teaching evangelical doctrines, defeated its own professed object of a 'Reformation of the Church in the head and the members.' This strange coincidence of history brings to mind Luther's poem on the Belgian martyrs:
'Die Asche will nicht lassen ab,
Sie stäubt in allen Landen;
Hier hilft kein Loch, noch Grab, noch Grab,
Sie macht den Feind zu Schanden.'
The God of history has his horas et moras, but he always carries out his designs at last. The Old Catholic secession would have assumed far more formidable proportions, and cut off from the dominion of the Pope the most intelligent and influential dioceses, if the eighty-eight Bishops who in the Vatican Council voted against Papal Infallibility, had carried out their conviction, instead of making their submission for the sake of a hollow peace. But next to the Pope, Bishops, from an instinctive fear of losing power, have always been most hostile to any serious reform. The old story of the Jewish hierarchy, in dealing with Christ and the Apostles, is repeated again and again in the history of the Church, though also with the honorable exceptions of a Nicodemus and Gamaliel.
Œcumenical Councils are very apt to give rise to secessions. A conscientious minority will not yield, in matters of faith, to a mere majority vote. Thus the Council of Nicæa (325) was only the signal for a new and more serious war between orthodoxy and the Arian heresy, and, even after the triumph of the former at Constantinople (381), the latter lingered for centuries among the newly converted German races. The Council of Ephesus (431) gave rise to the Nestorian schism, and the Council of Chalcedon (451) to the several Monophysite sects, which continue in the East to this day with almost as much tenacity of life as the orthodox Greek Church. From the sixth œcumenical Council (680) dates the Monothelite schism. The Council of Florence (1439) failed to effect a union between the Latin and the Greek communions. The Council of Trent (1563), instead of healing the split caused by the Reformation, only deepened and perpetuated it by consolidating Romanism and anathematizing evangelical doctrines. The nearest parallel to the case in hand is the schism of the Bishops and clergy of Utrecht, which originated in a protest against the implied Papal Infallibility of the anti-Jansenist bull Unigenitus, and which recently made common cause with the Old Catholics of Germany by giving them the Episcopal succession.
The Old Catholic Church in Germany and Switzerland arose from a protest, in the name of conscience, reason, and honest learning, against the Papal absolutism and infallibilism of the Vatican Council, and against the obsolete mediævalism of the Papal Syllabus. It lifts its voice against unscrupulous Jesuitical falsifications of history, and against that spiritual despotism which requires, as the highest act of piety, the slaughter of the intellect and will, and thereby destroys the sense of personal responsibility. It has in its favor all the traditions of Gallicanism and liberal Catholicism, which place an œcumenical Council or the whole representative Church above the Pope, the testimony of the ancient Græco-Latin Church, which knew nothing of Papal Infallibility, and even condemned some Popes as heretics, and the current of history, which can not be turned backward.
The leaders of the new Church are eminent for learning, ability, moral character, and position, and were esteemed, before the Vatican Council, pillars and ornaments of the Roman Church—viz., Döllinger,362362 Dr. John Jos. Ignat. von Döllinger, of Munich (born 1799), the Nestor of Old Catholicism, is the author of an unfinished Church History (Lehrbuch der Kirchengeschichte, Regensburg, second edition, 1843, to Leo X.), a polemic work against the Reformation (Die Reformation, ihre innere Entwickelung und ihre Wirkungen, 1846–48, 3 vols.), a Sketch of Luther (1851), Judaism and Heathenism in Relation to Christianity (1857), The Church and the Churches (1860), Fables of Popes and Prophecies of the Middle Ages (1863; English translation, with a Preface by Prof. Henry B. Smith, New York, 1872), and a number of essays and pamphlets. He also edited the miscellaneous writings of Möhler, after whose death he was regarded as the foremost Roman Catholic Church historian. Since his excommunication he delivered, in the great hall of the Museum at Munich, seven interesting lectures On the Reunion of the Churches (English translation, with Preface by H. N. Oxenham, of Oxford; republished, New York, 1872). He was Rector of the University of Munich during its Jubilee year, 1871–72, and at the celebration of the Jubilee, in July, 1872, he acquitted himself with marked ability and scholarly dignity, and received from the University, the King of Bavaria, and foreign scholars, the highest honors. [Döllinger, d. 1890, unreconciled to the papal government. For his later judgment on Luther and the Prot. Reformation, see his Akad. Vortr. I., 76, and Schaff: Our Fathers' Faith and Ours, pp. 108, 635. Works not given above: Beiträge zur Sektengesch. des M. A., 1890, Akad. Vorträge, 3 vols., pp. 188–91, and, in connection with Prof. Reusch, Selbstbiographie des Kard. Bellarmin, 1887.—Ed.] Reinkens,363363 Formerly Catholic Professor of Church History in the University of Breslau, now Bishop of the Old Catholic Church in Germany. He resides at Bonn, and is a gentleman of great popular eloquence and winning manners. Friedrich,364364 Professor of Church History in Munich, editor of the Documenta ad illustrandum Conc. Vaticanum (2 vols.), and of the Diary (Tagebuch während des Vatic. Concils), which gives an inside view of the Council from his intimate connection with members. Huber,365365 Professor of Philosophy at Munich, and author of works on the Philosophy of the Fathers, on Jesuitism, and against the last book of Strauss on The Old and New Faith. Michelis,366366 Formerly professor at Braunsberg, and once Catholic member of the Prussian Chamber of Deputies, now pastor of the Old Catholic congregation at Zurich, an elderly gentleman of much learning and eloquence. Reusch,367367 Professor of Theology in Bonn, editor of the literary organ of the Old Catholics, and Acting Secretary of Bishop Reinkens. Langen,368368 Likewise Professor of Theology in Bonn, and author of a learned work on the Vatican decrees examined in the light of Catholic tradition (1873). von Schulte,369369 The first canonist of Europe, the lay leader of Old Catholicism, and able president of its Congresses, formerly Professor of Canon Law in Prague, now in the University of Bonn. Before the Council he received many letters and tokens of respect from Pope Pius IX. and ex-Père Hyacinthe Loyson.370370 Born at Orleans, 1827, priest and monk of the order of the Carmelites, formerly esteemed the most eloquent preacher in France. He broke with his order and with Rome in 1869, and is now settled at Geneva as pastor of an Old Catholic congregation. His marriage to an American widow (1872) created almost as much sensation as Luther's marriage to a nun. He has recently withdrawn from state control, and established an independent Church (1874).
The centres of Old Catholicism are Munich and Bonn in Germany, and Geneva and Soleure (also Olten) in Switzerland. Beyond these two countries it has many isolated sympathies, but no organized form, and no hold upon the people.371371 The German origin of the movement operates against it in France, which, with all its Gallican traditions, has, for political reasons, since the war of 1870, become more Romish than it ever was before. When Völk, at the Old Catholic Congress in Constance, alluded to the uprising of the Deutschthum versus the Welschthum, and the intrigues of French Jesuits, Hyacinthe and Pressensé left the hall. Yet the Old Catholic priests, who were elected pastors of Geneva by the Catholic part of the population in October, 1873—Loyson, Hurtault, and Charard—are all Frenchmen. Once more Geneva seems to become the centre and starting-point of a new reformation, which sooner or later will react upon France. Abbé Michaud, formerly of the Madeleine in Paris, so far is the only prominent Old Catholic in France. Among the Irish Catholics there is not the least indication of sympathy with Old Catholicism, not even in free America. Spain and Italy ought to sympathize with it, for the Pope is the implacable enemy of Italian unity and the Spanish republic; but they have kept aloof so far from any progressive religious movement; and Spain has once more surrendered herself to the rule of a Bourbon and the Pope (1875). In England, the famous pamphlet of Gladstone on the Vatican Decrees (1874) has brought to light the Old Catholic sympathies of Lord Acton and other prominent English Catholics. In September, 1873, the Old Catholics in the German Empire numbered about one hundred congregations (mostly in Prussia, Baden, and Bavaria), forty priests, and fifty thousand professed members. Since their more complete organization they will probably make more rapid progress. Heretofore the movement in Germany has been more scholastic than popular. It has enlisted the sympathies of the educated, but not to an equal extent the enthusiasm of the people. The question of Papal Infallibility has no such direct practical bearing as the question of personal salvation and peace of conscience, which made the Reformation spread with such irresistible power over all Western Christendom. The masses of Roman Catholics are either too ignorant or too indifferent to care much whether another dogma is added to the large number already adopted, and have no more difficulty to believe blindly in Papal Infallibility than in the daily miracle of transubstantiation and the sacrifice of the mass.372372 When in Cologne, July, 1873, I asked a domestic of one of the first hotels where the Old Catholics worshiped. He promptly replied, 'You mean the New Protestants. I have nothing to do with sects; I am a true Catholic, and mean to die one.' This seemed to me characteristic of the popular feeling in Cologne. The Dome was well filled with worshipers all Sunday, while the Old Catholics had a small though intelligent and respectable congregation in the Garrison Church, and in the small chapel at the City Hall. Dr. Tangermann read Latin mass like a Romish priest, but preached an evangelical sermon in German which would do credit to any Protestant pastor. On the other hand, however, the Old Catholics are powerfully aided by the widespread indignation against priestcraft, and the serious conflict of the German Empire and the Swiss Republic with the Papacy, which was provoked by the Papal Syllabus and the Vatican Council, and may lead to a thorough revision of the ecclesiastical status of the Continent. Their ultimate success as a Church must chiefly depend upon the continued ascendency of the positive Christian element over the negative and radical (which raised and ruined the 'German Catholic' or Ronge movement of 1844); for only the enthusiasm of faith has constructive power, and that spirit of sacrifice and endurance which is necessary for the establishment of permanent institutions.
The Old Catholic movement was foreshadowed in the liberal Catholic literature preceding the Vatican Council, especially Janus; it gathered strength during the Council; it uttered itself in a united protest against the decrees of the Council at a meeting of distinguished Catholic scholars at Nuremberg in August, 1870; and it came to an open rupture with Rome by the excommunication of Döllinger and his sympathizers.
Being called upon by the Archbishop of Munich (his former pupil, and at first an anti-Infallibilist) to submit to the new dogma of Papal absolutism and Infallibility, Dr. Döllinger, in an open answer dated Munich, March 28,1871, declared that, as a Christian, as a theologian, as a historian, and as a citizen, he could not accept the Vatican decrees, for the reasons that they are inconsistent with the spirit of the Gospel and the clear teaching of Christ and the Apostles; that they contradict the whole genuine tradition of the Church; that the attempt to carry out the Papal absolutism had been in times past the cause of endless bloodshed, confusion, and corruption; and that a similar attempt now must lead to an irreconcilable conflict of the Church with the State, and of the clergy with the laity.373373 The following is the memorable protest of this aged divine, which reminds one of Luther's more bold and defiant refusal at Worms to recant his writings unless convicted of error from Scripture and reason: 'Als Christ, als Theologe, als Geschichtskundiger, als Bürger kann ich diese Lehre nicht annehmen. Nicht als Christ: denn sie ist unverträglich mit dem Geiste des Evangeliums and mit den klaren Aussprüchen Christi und der Apostel; sie will gerade das Imperium dieser Welt aufrichten, welches Christus ablehnte, will die Herrschaft über die Gemeinden, welche Petrus allen und sich selbst verbot. Nicht als Theologe: denn die gesammte echte Tradition der Kirche steht ihr unversöhnlich entgegen. Nicht als Geschichtskenner kann ich sie annehmen, denn als solcher weiss ich, dass das beharrliche Streben, diese Theorie der Weltherrschaft zu verwirklichen, Europa Ströme van Blut gekostet, ganze Länder vewirrt und heruntergebracht, den schönen organischen Verfassungsbau der älteren Kirche zerrüttet und die ärgsten Missbräuche in der Kirche erzeugt, genährt und festgehalten hat. Als Bürger endlich muss ich sie von mir weisen, well sie mit ihren Ansprüchen auf Unterwerfung der Staaten und Monarchen und der ganzen politischen Ordnung unter die päpstliche Gewalt und durch die eximirte Stellung, welche sie für den Klerus fordert, den Grund legt zu endloser verderblicher Zwietracht zwischen Staat und Kirche, zwischen Geistlichen und Laien. Denn das kann ich mir nicht verbergen, dass diese Lehre, an deren Folgen das alte deutsche Reich zu Grunde gegangen ist, falls sie bei dem katholischen Theil der deutschen Nation herrschend würde, sofort auch den Keim eines unheilbaren Siechthums in das eben erbaute neue 'Reich verpflanzen würde.'—J. von Döllinger's Erklärung an den Erzbishof von München-Freising, München, 1871, p. 17 sq. Whereupon Döllinger was excommunicated April 17, 1871, as being guilty of 'the crime of open and formal heresy.'374374 'Crimen hæreseos externæ et formalis.'
His colleague, Professor Friedrich, incurred the same fate. Other Bishops, forgetting their recent change of conviction, proceeded with the same rigor against refractory priests. Cardinal Rauscher suspended the Lent preacher Pederzani; Cardinal Schwarzenberg, Professor Pelleter (who afterwards became a Protestant); Bishop Förster (whose offer to resign was refused by the Pope) suspended Professors Reinkens, Baltzer, and Weber, of Breslau; the Bishop of Ermeland, Professors Michelis and Menzel, and Dr. Wollmann, in Braunsberg; the Archbishop of Cologne deposed the priest Dr. W. Tangermann, of Cologne, and suspended Professors Hilgers, Reusch, Langen, and Knoodt, of Bonn, who, however, supported by the Prussian Government, retained their official positions in the University.
In spite of these summary proceedings of the Bishops, the Old Catholic party, aided by the sympathies of the educated classes, made steady progress, organizing congregations, holding annual meetings, and enlisting the secular and religions press. With great prudence the leaders avoided or postponed reforms, till they could be inaugurated and sanctioned by properly constituted authorities, and moved cautiously between a timid conservatism and a radical liberalism; thus retaining a hold on both wings of the nominal Catholic population.
In the year 1873 the Old Catholics effected a regular Church organization, and secured a legal status in the German Empire, with the prospect of support from the national treasury. Professor Joseph Hubert Reinkens was elected Bishop by the clergy and the representatives of the laity, and was consecrated at Rotterdam by the Old Catholic Bishop Heykamp, of Deventer (Aug. 11, 1873).375375 In his Pastoral Letter, Bishop Reinkens disclaims all hierarchical ambition, vain show, and display, and promises to exercise his office in the spirit of apostolic simplicity as a pastor of the flock. He lays great stress on the primitive Catholic mode of his election by the clergy and the people, as contrasted with the modern election by the Pope. He claims to stand in the rank of Cyprian, Hilary, Ambrose, Augustine, and those thousands of Bishops who never were elected by the Pope, or were even known to the Pope, and yet are recognized as truly Catholic Bishops. Consecration by one Bishop is canonically valid, though two or more assistant Bishops are usually present. The late Archbishop Loos of Utrecht would have performed the act, had he not died a few months before. Rome, of course, considers this election and consecration by excommunicated priests as a mere farce and a damnable rebellion. See the Pope's Encyclical of Nov. 21, 1872, quoted below. He was recognized in his new dignity by the King of Prussia, and took the customary oath of allegiance at Berlin (Oct. 7). Other governments of Germany followed this example. (The Empire as such has nothing to do with the Church.) To complete the organization, the Congress at Constance adopted a synodical and parochial constitution, which makes full provision for an equal share of the laity with the clergy in the government of the Church; the synodical representation (Synodal-Repräsentanz), or executive committee, being composed of five laymen and five clergymen, including the Bishop.376376 See the Entwurf einer Synodal- und Gemeinde-Ordnung, Sect. III. §§ 13 and 14: 'In der Leitung des altkatholischen Gemeinwesens steht dem Bischof eine von der Synode gewählte Synodal-Repräsentanz zur Seite. Die Synodal-Repräsentanz besteht aus vier Geistlichen und fünf Laien.' This implies the Protestant principle of the general priesthood of believers, and will prevent hierarchical abuses. Certain changes in the cultus, such as the simplification of the mass as a memorial service of the atoning sacrifice of Christ, the substitution of the vernacular language for the Latin, the restoring of the cup to the laity, the introduction of more preaching, and the abolition of various abuses (including the forced celibacy of the clergy), will inevitably follow sooner or later.
The doctrinal status of the Old Catholic denomination was at first simply Tridentine
Romanism versus Vatican Romanism, or the Creed of Pius IV. against the Creed of
Pius IX.377377 Their original programme, adopted at the first Congress at
Munich, September 21, 1871, probably drawn up by Döllinger, was very conservative, and included the
1. We hold fast to the Catholic faith as certified by Scriptures and tradition, and also to the
Old Catholic worship. We reject from this stand-point the new dogmas enacted under the pontificate of
Pius IX., especially that regarding the infallibility and supreme ordinary and immediate jurisdiction of
2. We hold fast to the old constitution of the Church, and reject every attempt to deprive the Bishops of their diocesan independence. We acknowledge the primacy of the Bishop of Rome, on the ground of the Fathers and Councils of the undivided Church of antiquity; but we deny the right of the Pope to define any article of faith, except in agreement with the holy Scriptures and the ancient and unanimous tradition of the Church.
3. We aim at a reformation of various abuses of the Church, and a restoration of the rights of the laity in ecclesiastical affairs.
4. We hope for a reunion with the Greek and Orthodox Russian Church, and for an ultimate fraternal understanding with the other Christian confessions, especially the Episcopal churches of England and America. This is the ground taken by the Old Catholics in Holland, and adhered to by them to this day. But the logic of the protest against modern Popery will hardly allow the Old Catholics of Germany and Switzerland long to remain in this position. Their friendly attitude towards Protestants, as officially shown in their letter to the General Conference of the Evangelical Alliance, is inconsistent with the Tridentine anathemas. Tridentine Romanism, moreover, is as much an innovation on œcumenical Catholicism as the Vatican Romanism is an innovation on that of Trent, and both are innovations in the same line of consolidation of the one-sided principle of authority. There is no stopping at half-way stations. We must go back to the fountain-head, the Word of God, which is the only final and infallible authority in matters of faith, and furnishes the best corrective against all ecclesiastical abuses.
The leaders of the Old Catholic Church are evidently on this road. They still adhere to Scripture and tradition, as the joint rule of faith: but they confine tradition to the unanimous consent of the ancient undivided Church, consequently to the œcumenical creeds, which are held in common by Greeks, Latins, and orthodox Protestants. They have been forced to give up their belief in the infallibility of an œcumenical Council, since the Vatican Council, which is as œcumenical (from the Roman point of view) as that of Trent, has sanctioned what they regard as fatal error. Moreover, Bishop Reinkens, in an eloquent speech before the Old Catholic Congress at Constance, disowned all Romish prohibitions of Bible reading, and earnestly encouraged the laity to read the Book of Life, that they may get into direct and intimate communion with God.378378 I give a few extracts from this address, which was delivered in the famous Council Hall of Constance, and received with great applause by the crowded assembly: 'The holy Scripture is the reflection of the sun of righteousness which appeared in Jesus Christ our Lord. I say, therefore, Read the holy Scriptures. I say more: For the Old Catholics who intrust themselves to my episcopal direction, there exists no prohibition of the reading of the Bible. . . . Let nothing hinder you from approaching the Gospel, that you may hear the voice of the Bridegroom (John iii. 29). Listen to his voice, and remember that, as the flower turns to the light, and never unfolds all its splendor and beauty except by constantly turning to the light of the sun, thus also the Christian's soul can not represent the full beauty and glory of its divine likeness except by constantly turning to this Gospel, in the rays of which its own fire is kindled. . . . Do not read the Scriptures from curiosity, to find things which are not to be revealed in this world; nor presumptuously, to brood over things which can not be explained by men; nor for the sake of controversy, to refute others; but read the Scriptures to enter into the most intimate communion with God, so that you may be able to say, Nothing shall separate me from the love of Christ. . . . It is not sufficient to have the Bible in every house, and to read it at certain hours in a formal and fragmentary manner, but it ought to be the light of the soul, to which it turns again and again. I repeat it once more: For the Old Catholics, no injunction exists against reading the Bible. On the contrary, I admonish you most earnestly: Read again and again in this holy book, sitting down in humility and joy at the feet of the Lord, for He alone has words of eternal life.' This communion with God through Christ as the only Mediator, and through his Word as the only rule of faith, is the very soul of evangelical Protestantism. The Scripture principle, consistently carried out, must gradually rule out the unscriptural doctrines and usages sanctioned by the Council of Trent.
But it is not necessary on this account that the Old Catholics should ever become Protestants in the historical sense of the term. They may retain those elements of the Catholic system which are not inconsistent with the spirit of the Scriptures, though they may not be expressly sanctioned by the letter. They may occupy a peculiar position of mediation, and in this way contribute their share towards preparing the way for an ultimate reunion of Christendom. And this is their noble aim and desire, openly expressed in a fraternal letter to an assembly of evangelical Christians from nearly all Protestant denominations. They declare: 'We hope and strive for the restoration of the unity of the Christian Church. We frankly acknowledge that no branch of it has exclusively the truth. We hold fast to the ultimate view that upon the foundation of the Gospel, and the doctrines of the Church grounded upon it, and upon the foundation of the ancient, undivided Church, a union of all Christian confessions will be possible through a really œcumenical Council. This is our object and intention in the movement which has led us into close relations with the Evangelical, the Anglican, the Anglo-American, the Russian, and the Greek churches. We know that this goal can not easily be reached, but we see the primary evidences of success in the circumstance that a truly Christian intercourse has already taken place between ourselves and other Christian churches. Therefore we seize with joy the hand of fellowship you have extended to us, and beg you to enter into a more intimate fellowship with us in such a way as may be agreed upon by both parties.'379379 Letter of the Congress of Constance, September, 1873, to the General Conference of the Evangelical Alliance in New York. Comp. also Döllinger's Lectures on the Reunion of the Churches, and Hyacinthe Loyson's letter to the General Conference in New York.
On the other hand, the Old Catholics have extended the hand of fellowship to the Greeks and Anglo-Catholics, and adopted, at a Union Conference held in Bonn, Sept., 1874, an agreement of fourteen theses, as a doctrinal basis of intercommunion between those Churches which recognize, besides the holy Scriptures, the binding authority of the tradition of the undivided Church of the first six centuries. In a second Conference, in 1875, they surrendered the doctrine of the double procession of the Spirit as a peace-offering to the Orientals.380380 See the documents of the two Bonn Conferences, at the close of Vol. II.
In the mean time the Pope has cut off all prospect of reconciliation. In his Encyclical of November 21, 1873, addressed to all the dignitaries of the Roman Church, Pius IX., after unsparingly denouncing the governments of Italy, Switzerland, and Germany, for their cruel persecution of the Church, speaks at length of 'those new heretics, who, by a truly ridiculous abuse of the name, call themselves Old Catholics,' and launches at their 'pseudo-bishop' and all his abettors and helpers the sentence of excommunication, as follows:
'The attempts and the aims of these unhappy sons of perdition appear plainly, both from other writings of theirs and most of all from that impious and most impudent of documents which has lately been published by him whom they have set up for themselves as their so-called bishop. For they deny and pervert the true authority of jurisdiction which is in the Roman Pontiff and the Bishops, the successors of the Blessed Peter and the Apostles, and transfer it to the populace, or, as they say, to the community; they stubbornly reject and assail the infallible teaching authority of the Roman Pontiff and of the whole Church; and, contrary to the Holy Spirit, who has been promised by Christ to abide in his Church forever, they audaciously affirm that the Roman Pontiff and the whole of the Bishops, priests, and people who are united with him in one faith and communion, have fallen into heresy by sanctioning and professing the definitions of the œcumenical Vatican Council. Therefore they deny even the indefectibility of the Church, blasphemously saying that it has perished throughout the world, and that its visible head and its Bishops have fallen away; and that for this reason it has been necessary for them to restore the lawful Episcopate in their pseudo-bishop, a man who, entering not by the gate, but coming up by another way, has drawn upon his head the condemnation of Christ.
'Nevertheless, those unhappy men who would undermine the foundations of the Catholic religion, and destroy its character and endowments, who have invented such shameful and manifold errors, or, rather, have collected them together from the old store of heretics, are not ashamed to call themselves Catholics, and Old Catholics; while by their doctrine, their novelty, and their fewness they give up all mark of antiquity and of catholicity. . . .
'But these men, going on more boldly in the way of iniquity and perdition, as by a just judgment of God it happens to heretical sects, have wished also to form to themselves a hierarchy, as we have said, and have chosen and set up for themselves as their pseudo-bishop a certain notorious apostate from the Catholic faith, Joseph Hubert Reinkens; and, that nothing might be wanting to their impudence, for his consecration they have had recourse to those Jansenists of Utrecht whom they themselves, before their falling away from the Church, regarded with other Catholics as heretics and schismatics. Nevertheless this Joseph Hubert Reinkens dares to call himself a bishop, and, incredible as it may seem, the most serene Emperor of Germany has by public decree named and acknowledged him as a Catholic bishop, and exhibited him to all his subjects as one who is to be regarded as a lawful bishop, and as such to be obeyed. But the very rudiments of Catholic teaching declare that no one can be held to be a lawful bishop who is not joined in communion of faith and charity to the rock on which the One Church of Christ is built; who does not adhere to the supreme pastor to whom all the sheep of Christ are committed to be fed; who is not united to the confirmer of the brotherhood which is in the world.' [This cuts off all Greek Bishops as well. Then follow the usual patristic texts for the pretensions of Rome.]
'We therefore, who have been placed, undeserving as we are, in the Supreme See of Peter for the guardianship of the Catholic faith, and for the maintenance of the unity of the universal Church, according to the custom and, example of our predecessors and their holy decrees, by the power given us from on high, not only declare the election of the said Joseph Hubert Reinkens to be contrary to the holy canons, unlawful, and altogether null and void, and denounce and condemn his consecration as sacrilegious; but by the authority of Almighty God we declare the said Joseph Hubert—together with those who have taken part in his election and sacrilegious consecration, and whoever adhere to and follow the same, giving aid, favor, or consents—excommunicated under anathema, separated from the communion of the Church, and to be reckoned among those whose fellowship has been forbidden to the faithful by the Apostle, so that they are not so much as to say to them, God speed you!'
As the Pope's letter of complaint to the Emperor of Germany (August, 1873), in which he claims jurisdiction, in some sense, over all baptized Christians, called forth a courteous and pointed reply from the Emperor disclaiming all intention of persecuting the Catholic Church while defending the rights of the civil government against the encroachments of the hierarchy, and informing his Infallibility that Protestants recognize no other mediator between God and themselves than the Lord Jesus Christ; so this Encyclical was met by an able, dignified, and manly Pastoral from Bishop Reinkens, dated Bonn, December 14, 1873, in which, after refuting the accusations of the Pope, he closes with the following words: 'Brethren in the Lord, what shall we do when Pius IX. exhausts the language of reproach and calumny, and calls us even the most miserable sons of perdition (miserrimi isti perditionis filii), to embitter the uninquiring multitude against us? If we are true disciples of Jesus—as we trust—we have that peace which the Lord gives, and not the world, and our "heart will not be troubled, neither be afraid" (John xiv. 27). O how sweetly sounds the exhortation: "Bless them which persecute you: bless, and curse not;" "Recompense to no man evil for evil;" "If it be possible, as much as lieth in you, live peaceably with all men" (Rom. xii. 14, 17, 18); "Love your enemies, bless them that curse you, do good to them that hate you, and pray for them which despitefully use you, and persecute you; that ye may be the children of your Father which is in heaven: for he maketh his sun to rise on the evil and on the good, and sendeth rain on the just and on the unjust" (Matt. v. 44, 45). Let us look up to Christ, our example, "who, when he was reviled, reviled not again" (1 Pet. ii. 21–23). "The peace of God, which passeth all understanding, keep your hearts and minds through Jesus Christ."'
The Swiss Federal Government, in answer to the charges raised against it in the same Encyclical, has broken off all diplomatic intercourse with the Papal court. In a new Encyclical of March 23, 1875, addressed to the Bishops of Switzerland, Pious IX. confirmed the condemnation of Nov. 21, 1873, and hurled it with increased severity against the Old Catholics of that country, 'who attack the very foundations of the Catholic religion, boldly reject the dogmatic definitions of the Council of the Vatican, and by every means labor for the ruin of souls.' He calls upon the faithful to 'avoid their religious ceremonies, their instructions, their chairs of doctrinal pestilence, which they have the audacity to set up for the purpose of betraying the sacred doctrines, their writings, and contact with them. Let them have no part, no relation of any kind, with those intruding priests and the apostates who dare exercise the functions of the ecclesiastical ministry, and who have absolutely no jurisdiction and no legitimate mission at all. Let them hold them in horror as strangers and thieves, who come only to steal, assassinate, and destroy.'
The Old Catholic movement in Switzerland is more radical and political than the German, and bears a similar relation to it as the Zwinglian Reformation does to the Lutheran. Edward Herzog, an able and worthy priest of Olten, was elected first bishop by the Swiss Synod, and consecrated by Bishop Reinkens at Rheinfelden, Sept. 18, 1876.
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