Fathers on the Frontier: French Missionaries and the Roman Catholic Priesthood in the United States, 1789-1870

By Michael Pasquier | Go to book overview

4
Missionary Politics and
Ultramontane Catholicism

In 1846 Archbishop Antoine Blanc of New Orleans, Archbishop John Hughes of New York, and Archbishop Francis Patrick Kenrick of Baltimore joined twenty other bishops at the Sixth Provincial Council of Baltimore in “plac[ing] ourselves, and all entrusted to our charge throughout the United States, under the special patronage of the holy Mother of God, whose immaculate conception is venerated by the piety of the faithful throughout the Catholic church.”1 In 1849, Pope Pius IX requested that the episcopal hierarchy of the United States, along with all bishops of the world, provide the Holy See with its judgment on the question of Mary’s Immaculate Conception—the idea that Mary was born without original sin in anticipation of her future role as mother of God.2 The bishops of the American church responded with a cautious but clear statement of support for the pope’s definition of the Immaculate Conception later that year during the Seventh Provincial Council of Baltimore. In their estimation, such a pronouncement could only help Pope Pius IX lead a “Christian world” in which there were “thrones overturned, monarchs fleeing in fear, society convulsed, destructive errors spread abroad by the untiring efforts of impious men, and confusion and disorder widely prevailing.”3 Five years later, Blanc, Hughes, and Kenrick traveled to Rome and were present when Pope Pius IX declared the Immaculate Conception dogma in the apostolic constitution Ineffabilis Deus.4

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