Church and State in the Modern Age: A Documentary History

By J. F. MacLear | Go to book overview

is important for faith and morals, and thus he alone determines the limits of his competence.

The papal Encyclical of September 8, 1864 and its appended Syllabus amply demonstrated, before the proclamation of infallibility, to what matters infallibility is to be applied, in the view of the Holy See. Over against a power so constituted, the state, if it is unwilling to seize upon new measures, must at least reassert its entire freedom of action so that it may confront the encroachments which are almost inevitable.

[ Hungary does not accept the legality of the concordat and therefore is under no obligation to cancel it. But Austria will be compelled to withdraw the imperial patent of November 5, 1855. The government prefers this course to that of prohibiting publication of the Vatican Decrees, which would be at variance with the liberal spirit of basic Austrian law.]

The imperial and royal government, however, is content to return to its entire freedom of action in order to be armed against eventual interference by the power of the church, which was established by the late council's decisions. This alteration, which has been accomplished in the person of one of the contracting parties, as well as the conditions which the other party insisted upon at the conclusion of the concordat, give the government the right, which it now invokes, to regard this act as annulled. In most cases the provisions of the concordat have become impossible to implement. For example, the rights and prerogatives of the Catholic church, which Article I seeks to assure, take on a completely new meaning and a completely different importance from the moment that papal infallibility is proclaimed. The teachings and discipline of the church, which is the subject of Article XXXIV, now come into new domains. The oath of the Austrian bishops, which according to the form prescribed in Article XX pledges loyalty to the emperor, loses its real value if it is to have no other significance than that acknowledged by the pope.

I could easily multiply these examples in support of my view that the Concordat of August 18, 1855 is actually and legally annulled through the decrees of the late council. May those in Rome take full account of the situation as it now stands. For our part, we merely state the facts of a situation which has been brought about without regard to our wishes. The imperial and royal government has not arbitrarily taken the initiative to dissolve the concordat. Rather, it has merely obeyed the necessity which the decisions of the church have forced upon it.

* * *

At the same time assure [the papal government] that nothing is farther from our wishes than to give the signal for a new conflict between the ecclesiastical and secular powers. . . . The state, in upholding its rights, will continue to maintain the rights and freedom of the church. . . .

Source: Alois Hudal, Die Österreichische Vatikanbotschaft 1806-1918 ( Munich, 1952), pp. 207-208.


SUGGESTIONS FOR BACKGROUND AND REFERENCE

F. F. von Beust, Memoirs of Friedrich Ferdinand, Count von Beust ( London, 1887), II, 211- 217.

F. Engel-Janosi, Österreich und der Vatikan 1846-1918 ( Vienna, 1958- 1960), I, 143-180.

-174-

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