Gallicanism

The Columbia Encyclopedia, 6th ed.

Gallicanism

Gallicanism (găl´ĬkənĬz´əm), in French Roman Catholicism, tradition of resistance to papal authority. It was in opposition to ultramontanism, the view that accorded the papacy complete authority over the universal church. Two aspects of Gallicanism are sometimes distinguished: royal Gallicanism, which defended the special rights of the French monarch in the French church; and ecclesiastical Gallicanism, which tried to preserve for the French clergy a certain administrative independence from Rome. Gallicanism in both senses received its theoretical formulation during the crisis of the Great Schism through the conciliar theory, which asserted the supremacy of general councils over the pope. The Council of Basel (see Basel, Council of) further extended the conciliar ideas and in 1438 the French king, Charles VII, legalized these antipapal measures in the Pragmatic Sanction of Bourges (see under pragmatic sanction). For additional chapters in the long struggle between monarch and pope for control of the French church see investiture; church and state; Philip IV; Boniface VIII; concordat. The quarrel between Louis XIV and Innocent XI occasioned the famous "Four Gallican Articles," drawn up for Louis by the French bishops (see also Innocent XII). These declare that kings are not subject to the pope, that general councils supersede the pope's authority, that the pope must respect the customs of the local church, and that papal decrees do not bind unless accepted by the entire church. Gallicanism was much encouraged by Jansenism and remained fashionable at court. It was furthered by the followers of the Swiss theologian Thomas Erastus. No French king, however, sought to separate the French church from Rome, as did Henry VIII with the church in England; nor did any French king, despite the development of Gallican theory, ever manage to gain a hold over the church comparable to that exercised by the Spanish kings. The French clergy generally supported Gallicanism and during the French Revolution had little difficulty assenting to the Civil Constitution of the Clergy. The First Vatican Council in 1870 established the authority of the pope as a matter of dogma, and Gallicanism continued to live on only in the heretical Old Catholics.

See W. H. Jervis, The Gallican Church and the Revolution (1882).

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