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Döllinger's father was a professor of medicine in the University of Bamberg, and his son was influenced, in an unusual degree, by the family traditions and his whole environment. The medical faculty of the University of Bamberg owed its foundation to his grandfather, whose son, the father of Ignaz (as Döllinger was usually called), became regular professor of medicine in the same university in 1794 but in 1803 was called to Wurzburg. It was only natural that amid surroundings predominantly academic the youthful Ignaz should acquire a strong love of books, the best of which were then written in French, which language the future historian of the Church learned from his father. In the Gymnasium he acquired a knowledge of Italian. A Benedictine monk taught him English privately and he learned Spanish at the university. An orderly acquisition of learning and the full development of all his rich gifts would have led to extraordinary achievements. He had also sufficient means to satisfy any reasonable wishes for foreign travel and the purchase of books. All these circumstances, doubtless, combined to render his mind particularly receptive; at the same time the multitude of impressions daily made on the young student led him to outline a plan of studies by far too comprehensive.
On entering the University of Würzburg at the age of sixteen, he took up at once history, philosophy, philology and the natural sciences. In this choice there is already evident a certain mental irregularity the more remarkable if we recall what he said, two years later, apropos of his choice of a vocation, viz., that, "no professor in the faculty of philosophy had been able to attract him to his particular science". The conversion of such men as Eckhart, Werner, Schlegel, Stolberg, and Winkelmann turned his thoughts to theology, which he took up in 1818, but without abandoning botany, mineralogy, and entomology, to which studies he continued for many years to devote considerable time. We quote from Friedrich the following noteworthy utterance of Döllinger: "To most other students theology was only a means to the end. To me, on the contrary, theology, or science in general based on theology, was the end, the choice of a vocation only the means." During his student days he seldom attended the regular lectures on theology but he was assiduous at the lectures in the faculty of philosophy and law; privately, however, he read many works on theology. His studies were better regulated when in 1820 he entered the ecclesiastical seminary at Bamberg and followed the theological courses given at the lyceum. The year and a half spent in this manner made up, but not sufficiently, for the previous lack of a systematic training in theology. He was ordained priest 22 April, 1822, spent the summer at his home, and in November, was appointed chaplain at Markscheinfeldt in Middle Franconia. Despite the profound grasp of dogma and moral theology that his works at times exhibit, his career gives evidence enough that he never took the pains to round out satisfactorily the insufficiency of his early training in theology. The elder Döllinger had hoped to see his son follow an academic career and opposed his choice of the priesthood; among the reasons for his opposition was the conviction, openly expressed (and then prevalent enough among the German clergy), that for physiological reasons a celibate life was impossible.
Döllinger's father soon obtained (November, 1823) for him a place as professor of canon law and church history in the lyceum of Aschaffenburg. It was here that in 1826 he published his first work "Die Eucharistie in den drei ersten Jahrhunderten" an eloquent and solid treatise, still much appreciated. It obtained for him from the theological faculty of the Bavarian University of Landshut the title of Doctor of Theology in absentiâ. In the same year he was called to Munich as professor extraordinary of canon law and church history, and in 1827 was made professor in ordinary. In 1839 the king gave him a canonry in the royal chapel (Hofkollegiatstift) of St. Cajetan at Munich, and on 1 Jan 1847, he was made mitred provost or head of that body of canons. In the same year he was dismissed from his chair, in punishment of his protest as representative of the university on the Bavarian Landtag, to which he had been appointed in 1844, against the dismissal of several university professors. But in 1848 he was chosen representative to the Frankfort Parliament and remained in attendance until the middle of 1849. Then followed (24 Dec., 1849, according to some authorities 1 Jan., 1850) his reappointment as professor, which office he held until 18 April, 1871, when Archbishop von Scherr publicly excommunicated him. Thereupon he laid down his ecclesiastical charges, recognized the binding force of his excommunication and, though he held his professorate another year, taught only a course of modern history. In 1868 King Louis II of Bavaria had appointed him royal councillor, and maintained him in his office as provost of St. Cajetan, even after his excommunication; practically, this meant only the continuance to him of the revenue of the position. Döllinger received in 1873 another evidence of the royal favour when, on the death of the famous chemist Liebig, he was named by the king to the presidency of the Royal Bavarian Academy of Sciences and general conservator of the scientific collections of the State. As early as 1837 he had been made member extraordinary of the Academy, in 1843 a regular member, and from 1860 was secretary of its historical section.
Many attempts were made, by ecclesiastics and laymen, to induce Döllinger to return to the Church. The personal conviction of the latter may be read in his correspondence (edited by Friedrich, Munich, 1899-1901) with Archbishop Steichele and the nuncio Monsignor Ruffo-Scilla. In 1886 and 1887 both of these prelates together with Bishop von Hefele of Rottenburg besought Döllinger to abandon his Old-Catholic attitude and be reconciled with the Church. His response to the archbishop contained these words "Ought I (in obedience to your suggestion) to appear before the Eternal Judge, my conscience burdened with a double perjury?" At the end of his letter to the nuncio he said: "I think that what I have written so far will suffice to make clear to you that with such convictions one may stand even on the threshold of eternity in a condition of inner peace and spiritual calm". He died aged ninety-one, still outside the communion of Church.
It was at Munich that Döllinger began his life-work. Formally, he was professor of canon law and ecclesiastical history, but was soon burdened with the teaching of dogma and New Testament exegesis, a task to which a weaker or inferior mind would not have proved equal. He declined in 1829, a call to Breslau, although King Louis I heartily wished him out of Bavaria; he also refused a later call to Freiburg in the Breisgau. He was offered in 1839, a professorship at an English college, but preferred to remain in Munich. To facilitate the coming of Johann Adam Möhler from Tübingen to Munich (1835), he gave over to him the courses of ecclesiastical history and New Testament exegesis, and when Möhler died (12 April, 1838) he collected a number of essays of this great theologian which for the most part were already in print but were widely scattered, and published them on two volumes (1839) under the title "Gesammelte Schriften und Aufsätze". While Möhler taught at Munich, Döllinger lectured on the history of dogma (Historische Dogmatik). At the request of Abel, Minister of the Interior, Döllinger began in 1838, a course of lectures in the Faculty of Philosophy on the philosophy of religion in opposition to the teaching of the honorary professor Von Baader, the theosophist, and of Schelling. He continued, however, to lecture on dogma and ecclesiastical history. From November, 1846 to February, 1848 Bavarian public affairs were disturbed by the royal attachment to Lola Montez, a Spanish ballerina; the Abel ministry was dismissed, and professors Lasaulx, Moy, Urtsr, Phillips, Höfler and Deutinger either dismissed or reprimanded; Doilinzer, finally as stated above, was removed from his office. After his restoration in 1860 he continued to the end as professor of church history. In 1862 he has made knight of the Order of Maximilian for science and art.
Apart from the aforesaid officers of canon and provost, Döllinger held but one other ecclesiastical office in Munich. After the conflict concerning mixed marriages (1832), he was made defensor matrimonii in the matrimonial court of first instance, later in that of second instance, which office he held until 1862. His circle of friends frorn the beginning quite extensive; the physicians and professors of the natural sciences who frequented his father's house were themselves men of distinction. As a student he formed the acquaintance of the poet, Graf Voll Platen, and of Victor Aimé Huber. Later Platen wished to study Sanskrit with Döllinger, and visited him twice at Marktscheinfeld. In the ecclesiastical seminary of Bamberg he met Prince Alexanderk van Hohenlohe, of whose miraculous cures he said later: "Cures there were, but such as often happen in the history of the Church; the deep stirring of the emotions suffices easily enough to explain them", a remark that fails to account for the presence of deep emotions in the absent sick. On a visit to Platen at Erlangen, in 1822, he met Pfaff, Schubert, and Schelling, the last a friend of his father. In his early days at Munich he was much in the company of the above-mentioned philosopher, Franz von Baader. When in 1827, the famous Joseph Görres came to Munich as professor of history, there formed about him at once a sympathetic circle of scholars, among them the youthful Döllinger. Döllinger's relations with Lamennais, more particularly with Count Montalembert, gave occasion in 1832 to a violent attack in the Bavarian Parliament on Görres and his friends. Lamennais at that time contemplated the establishment at Munich of a house of studies for young Frenchmen (Oeuvre des études allemandes), who might thus come under the influence of Görres, Baader, and others, and on their return to France stand manfully for the defence of the Church. In the meantime Döllinger had met Andreas Räss, the founder (1821) of "Der Katholik" (still published at Mainz), who in 1828 was rector of the ecclesiastical seminary at Strasburg as well as professor of dogma and homiletics; with Döllinger he projected various literary enterprises which, through pressure of other work, were never realized.
At this time Monsignor Wiseman, later Cardinal, and Archbishop of Westminster, then professor at the Roman University (Sapienza) and rector of the English College, saw the necessity of strengthening Catholicism in the development of its new opportunities in England, and for this reason was minded to effect closer relations with the learned clergy of Germany. Döllinger seemed to him the proper mediator; he therefore visited Munich in 1835, made the acquaintance of the distinguished professor, and spoke with him of his hopes and plans. Wiseman, already well known in Europe by his "Horae Syriae" arouse in Döllinger so deep an interest, that the next year the latter visited England. His biographer, Friedrich, describes the result of this visit as follows: "Döllinger had a life-long hatred for bureaucracy both in the Church and State; the large independence, therefore, of English public life delighted him and filled him with an admiration that was often excessive. Thenceforth he remained always in close touch with England, kept constantly in his home, and at considerable sacrifice, a number of young English students, and directed the studies of others whom he could not keep under his own roof". In 1850 the youthful Sir John Emerich Edward Acton entered his house as a student, to become later his intimate friend. Later, as John Lord Acton and Regius Professor of modern history at Cambridge he remained in close touch with the Old Catholics, though he never formally severed his connection with the Church. We do not as yet possess accurate knowledge concerning Acton's share in the work known as "Letters from Rome" concerning the Vatican Council (Römische Briefe vom Konzil) published by Döllinger in the Augsburg "Allgemeine Zeitung".
As a rule Döllinger observed with his pupils a strict academic dignity and reserve; among the few whom he treated as intimate friends Acton was easily the foremost. Among those who in this early period exerted the greatest influence over Döllinger was Karl Ernest Jarcke, founder and editor (since 1832) of the Berlin "Politische Woehenblatter", confidant of Metternich, and a frequent visitor to the Bavarian capital. In 1838 came the foundation of the "Historisch-politische Blätter" by Guido Görres, Phillips, and Jarcke; the new organ soon greatly augmented the influence of Görres and his circle of friends, the most loyal and earnest of whom at this time was Döllinger.
The dispute over the question of mixed marriages in Prussia, known as the Kölner Streit (1831), followed close upon that in Bavaria (1831); both were fought out dramatically, and brought Döllinger and his Munich friends to the front as vigorous defenders of Catholic rights. The first estrangement of Döllinger from Görres and his friends came about through the publication of an important manual of canon law by Philips (from 1834 to 1847 professor of canon law at Munich). To Döllinger it seemed that the latter emphasized excessively the extent of the papal prerogative. Nevertheless, he continued for a decade to collaborate on the "Historisch-politische Blatter"; it was only slowly and almost imperceptibly that the change in his opinions came about. Gradually, owing to his opposition to the Jesuits and particularly to the Roman Curia, he sought and found newer friends in Liberal circles. As member of the Frankfort Parliament (1848) he sat with the Right, among men like Radowitz, Lichnowsky, Schwerin, Vincke, and others, he also belonged to the Club "Zum steinernen Haus".
The change that had come about in Döllinger's views during the preceding years may best be measured by the fact that his colleagues in Frankfort obtained his consent to the following plan. General von Radowitz, in the name of the Catholic deputies, was to make this declaration in Parliament: "The orders, including the Jesuit Order, are not a part of the living organism of the Catholic Church; the Jesuit Order is no wise necessary in Germany; the German episcopate and the German clergy do not need its help to fulfil their obligations; German learning [die deutsche Wissenoschaft] needs no aid of this nature. The possible advantages for the Catholic Church accruing from the co-operation of the Jesuit Order should be greatly outweighed by the disturbances and perils that its presence would create. If it were proposed to introduce the Jesuits into any Geman State, moved the higher interests of the Catholic Church, we would protest most decidedly againt the execution of any such plan".
The relations of Döllinger with the German episcopate were frequent, particularly after the meeting of the German and Austrian prelates at Würzburg (22 Oct to 16 Nov., 1848). His report concerning the national church and national synods as submitted to this important assembly, aroused deep interest, was received with approval in many episcopal circles, and assured him the leadership in the acute ecclesiastico-political discussions then impending. Between 1852 and 1854 he visited Northern and Central Italy, and in 1857 Rome. Apart from his learned researches on these occasions, he profited by these journeys to: strengthen his existing relations with numerous Italians, ecclesiastics and laymen, also to new acquaintances and friendships. While Döllinger sought in every way to retain the favour of King Maximilian II, the cleft between him and his former friends as well as his own past continued to widen. For a while the famous professor seemed to stand almost alone, particularly after the stormy scenes of the Munich congress of Catholic savants (28 sept. to 1 oct., 1863). Daniel Bonifatius von Haneberg, Abbot of St. Boniface in Munich, opened this Congress of eighty-four members mostly German theologians, on which occasion Döllinger delivered his famous discourse, "Die Vergangenheit und Gegervart der katholischen Theologie" (The Past and Present of Catholic Theology). Many of those present, among them Haneberg, saw with sorrow that they could not follows Döllinger along the new path he was taking. He held no longer to the universal idea of Catholicism as a world-religion; in its place, nourished by the court atmosphere he loved so well, arose a strictly nationalistic concept of the catholic Church. All ecclesiastical measures he henceforth criticized from the narrow angle of Gallicanism, and ridiculed in anonymous articles and other writings. He was daily in closer communion with the principal Bavarian statesmen, and amid these relations conceived an idea of the Church's office which in the end could not be other than un-Catholic. It may be noted here that his intimacy with the philosopher Johann Huber, a disciple of Schelling, had attracted attention long before this. Nevertheless (and it was a sign of the strong tension of those days and the mental temper of many) a number of German bishops still held to Döllinger, although they had long since parted company with Joseph Hubert Reinkens, professor of church history at Breslau and later first bishop of the Old Catholics. It was not until 18 July, 1870, when the dogma of Papal Infallibility was proclaimed at Rome, that there was a sharp division in the ranks of German Catholics. This compelled Döllinger henceforth to seek friends and allies exclusively among the leaders of the Kulturkampf and the Old Catholics, as also among anti-Catholic statesmen and princes.
Döllinger, as is well known, wrote much and admirably, and his writings exhibit, with a rare fidelity, every phase of his mental conflict. He was still a young man when his profound learning and brilliant diction, coupled with an unusal ease and rapidity in the critical treatment of whatever historical thesis lay before him, earned for him an international reputation. He lacked, however, the methodical training necessary for the scientific editing of original texts and documents, in which respect his deficiencies were occasionally only too evident. He was not content with bare investigation of the fact, and problems of Christian antiquity, or of medieval and modern but sought always a satisfactory solution for the difficulties that confronted the student. His diction was always charming whether the subject were one demanding strictly scientific and well-ordered narrative or the light and rapid style called for by the pressing, but ephemeral, needs of the hour. He was likewise skillful as a public speaker, not only when delivering a carefully prepared discourse but also when called on for an extemporaneous address. A typical example of his ability in this respect was his extempore discourse in St. Paul's Church, Frankfort, on Church and State, apropos of Article III of the fundamental articles (Grundreche) of the Constitution: several of the best speakers had preceded him, and, in order to closely follow their line of thought his whole address had to be extemporized; nevertheless, it was admitted by all that, both in form and logic, his address was by far the best delivered on that occasion. The admiration of his students, no doubt, was due in great measure to the beautiful diction in which he was wont to dress the facts of history.
The writings of Döllinger may be divided into purely scientific and political or ecclesiastico-political. They exhibit for the most part, however, a mutual interdependence and often complete one another. To avoid repetition it seems better to follow the chronological order. It is worthy of note that when writing anonymously his tone was frequently bitter, occasionally even violent, writing over his own name he usually avoided such extremes. His first work (1826) "Die Eucharistie in den drei ersten Jahrhunderten", has already been mentioned. ln 1828 he published the first volumes of Hortig's "Kirchengeschichte", from the Reformation to the end of the eighteenth century. He also wrote frequently at this time for "Eos", a new review founded by his friends, Baader and Görres; most of the articles dealt with contemporary subjects. According to Friedrich he also prepared "Umrisse zu Dante's Paradies von P. von Cornelius", i.e. an introduction to that writer's edition of Dante's "Paradiso". His journalistic activity, however, was far from pleasing to the ministerial councillor, Joseph Freiherr von Hormayr, a somewhat erratic but influential, person who so influenced the king that he wished Döllinger well out of Bavaria, as has been seen in the case of his call to Breslau.
In these years, also, he defended with vigour the matrimonial legislation of the Church, in connection with the "Mixed Marriages" conflict (1831) in the Upper House of the Bavarian Parliament, and he was author of an anonymous work "Ueber die gemischten Ehen"; at the same time he suggested as a means of avoiding all conflict, that the civil marriage be separated from the religious ceremony. Meanwhile he continued to collect the material for his scientific works. In 1833 and 1835 respectively he published the first and second parts of his "Handbuch der Kirchengeschichte" (to the end of seventh century). The next year (1836) he brought out the first volume, and in 1838 the first half of the second volume of his "Lehrbuch der Kirchengeschichte" (to the end of the fifteenth century). The essay "Muhammeds Religion, eine historische Betrachtung" was read before the Munich Academy about the time he published the aforesaid work on mixed marriages; early in 1838 he published his "Beurtheilung der Darlegung des geheimen Rathes Bunsen: eine Stimme zum Frieden". A long controversy with Professor Thiersch followed this entrance of Döllinger into the Prussian conflict over mixed marriages (Kölner Streit), his articles were printed in the Augsberg "Allgemeine zeitung" and are apparently his earliest contributions to the Journal which thirty-one years later he was to consummate his apostasy. Karl Von Abel, Minister of Interior, now asked him to publish a popular "Weltgeschichte" or universal history, from the Catholic point of view, also a manual of religion (Religionslehrbuch) for the gymnasia or high-schools; he began these works but, feeling himself unsuited to their composition, persuaded the minister to relieve him from the undertaking. Later on he undertook to explain his failure in the Parliament, his explanation, however, seems quite improbable, and may be looked on as either a meaningless piece of malice or a case of self-deception.
A royal order (1838) that compelled all soldiers to genuflect before the Blessed Sacrament was soon the cause of much friction; in 1843 the matter came before the Upper House, where representatives of the non-Catholic soldiers protested against the measure as contrary to liberty of conscience. Döllinger defended the king and the Government in an anonymous work entitled: "Die Frage der Kniebeugung der Protestanten von der religiösen und staatsrechtlichen Seite erwogen", wherein he treated the question from both the religious and politics point of view; this was followed by a long controversy with the Protestant deputy, Harless. In the meantime he was chosen by the University of Munich as its representative in the Bavarian Parliament, where he protested against the admission of the Jesuits and defended the emancipation of the Jews, both of which acts drew upon him the enmity of many. During this political agitation, and while Lola Montez still held the king infatuated, appeared the first volume of his great work "Die Reformation, ihre innere Entwicklung und ihre Wirkungen im Umfange des lutherischen Bekenntnisses", i.e. on the origin, development, and consequences of the Reformation in Lutheran circles; the second volume appeared in 1847; the third in 1848. A second edition of the first volume was printed in 1851. This work unfortunately remained incomplete; Friedrich says that Döllinger's friends prevented him from publishing the corresponding three volumes, i.e. an account of the conditions within the Catholic Church in the same period. This work long exercised a powerful influence and still remains its value. Johannes Janssen was inspired by it to undertake the exhaustive studies which have done so much to destroy the traditional legends that so long did duty as a history of the Reformation.
The foolish attempt of some zealots to have the temporal power of the pope proclaimed a dogma (Dogmatisierung des Kirchenstaates) excited Döllinger to an extraordinary degree. He became firmly persuaded that theological science could be saved only by the German Catholic Church, not by the Catholic Church in Germany. By theological science he meant chiefly historical theology. All other ecclesiastical interests seemed to this great scholar quite subordinate. His aversion to the education of clergy in seminaries, later quite pronounced, was another result of this mental attitude, the trend of which he revealed on various occasions at the Frankfort Parliament, and in the above-mentioned report (1848) of the Wurzburg meeting of the German and Austrian bishops. Gradually he came to be looked upon as a Gallican, nor was this because of his frequently expressed and strong dislike of the Jesuits. Many persons, among them the best and most loyal supporters of the Church, looked henceforth with a certain anxiety on the course of Döllinger. It could not be said that the nuncios at Munich admired him unreservedly. On the other hand, throughout the ranks of the German and Austrian clergy there was still only a mediocre theological knowledge, the legacy of an earlier period of infidelity and rationalism, and the concept of Catholic doctrine and discipline differed widely from the true ecclesiastical ideal of both.
To understand fully the profound changes working in the mind of Döllinger during the critical years from 1847 to 1852 it is well to recall his discourses at the general meetings of the "Katholischer Verein" at Ratisbon (1849) and Linz (1850), also those in the Upper House of the Bavarian Parliament in St. Paul's at Frankfort, and at the meetings of the German hierarchy at Wurzburg (1849) and Freising (1850). To some extent, also, disappointment was responsible for his new mental attitude; his friends and admirers had tried in vain to obtain for him an important German see. It is worthy of note also that about 1855 the author of the work on the Reformation began gradually to modify his views to such an extent that eventually (in 1889) he wrote a panegyric on Protestantism.
The Greek patristic text entitled "Philosophoumena, or Refutation of all Heresies", discovered in 1842 and edited by Miller (Oxford, 1851), at once fascinated Döllinger, and he devoted to its study all the rich powers of his erudition, critical skill, and insight. In 1853 he published the result of his labours in "Hippolytus und Kallistus, oder die romische Kirche in der ersten Halfte des dritten Jahrhunderts", etc, a study of the Roman Church from 200 to 250, in reply to the interpretations of the "Philosophoumena" published by Bunsen, Wordsworth, Baur, and Gieseler. Despite the contrary arguments of De Rossi, Döllinger's opinion has prevailed, and it is now generally acknowledged that Hippolytus is the author of the work in question. Döllinger's essay in the "Historisch-Politische Blatter" (1853) entitled "Betrachtungen uber die Frage der Kaiserkronung", considerations on the imperial coronation, contributed not a little to deter Pius IX from crowning Napoleon III. Concerning the definition of the dogma of the Immaculate Conception Döllinger exhibited a prejudiced mind and a rather superficial historical grasp of the question; the defects in his theological equipment were here most noticeable. Indeed, he was much less concerned with the doctrine itself than with the person who wished to proclaim it as a dogma of faith. It was also his first open protest against a pope who was soon to proclaim that Papal Infallibility which seemed to Döllinger an utterly intolerable doctrine, from his view-point of exaggerated esteem for historical theology.
The year 1857 was marked by the appearance of his "Heidenthum und Judenthum, Vorhalle des Christenthums" (Heathenism and Judaism, the Vestibule of Christianity), the first part of his long contemplated history of the Church, the second part followed in 1860 (2nd ed., 1868) as "Christenthum und Kirche in der Zeit der Grundlegung", dealing with the Apostolic period. The work, as he had planned, was never completed. Most of the abundant material he had collected for an exhaustive history of the papacy was afterwards utilized in an ephemeral journalistic way. The work itself he never undertook, and had he done so, it is possible that he would have come into conflict with the Holy See much sooner than he did.
In 1861 some of the principal ladies of Munich requested him to deliver a series of public discourses on Temporal Power; to this he acceded with pleasure, and the discourses given in the Royal Odeum were followed with deep attention by crowded audiences. His utterances, however, were so imprudent and so clearly inspired by Liberalism that in the midst of one of them papal nuncio, Monsignor Chigi, arose with indignation and left the hall. The impression made by these discourses on the Catholic world was painful in the extreme. Döllinger himself was deeply troubled by the agitation aroused; to justify himself in some measure, also to strengthen his position, now seriously compromised in great haste and issued during the same year his "Kirche und Kirchen, Papstthum und Kirchenstaat". It seems incredible that the opinions and judgements one reads in this work are really Döllinger's own; the reader is haunted by suspicion that he has before him a remarkable mixture of Byzantinism and hypocrisy.
The Catholic academic circles of Germany in the meantime deeply agitated by the discussions incident to the renaissance of Scholasticism (see NEO-SCHOLASTICISM) in theology and philosophy, and those over the merit of the episcopal seminaries as against the theological faculties of the universities for the education of candidates to the priesthood. There were excesses on both sides that intensified the situation, whereupon it seemed to many that an academical congress would be a helpful measure. An Assembly of Catholic scholars met in 1863 at Munich, before which, as already stated, Döllinger delivered (28 September) the discourse "Die Vergangenheit und Gegenwart der katholischen Theologie" (The Past and Present of Catholic Theology). His views as expressed in this occasion, were calculated to irritate and embitter his opponents, and a reconciliation seemed further away than before. Shortly afterwards, in the thirteenth thesis of the papal Syllabus of 8 Dec., 1864 (see QUANTA CURA) certain opinions of Döllinger were condemned.
It was unfortunate, but not surprising, therefore, that the "Papstfabeln des Mittelalters", medieval fables about the popes (Munich, 1863; 2nd ed. 1890) received no impartial appreciation from his opponents; the pages (131-53) on the Monothelism of Pope Honorius were considered particularly offensive. From this period to the publication of the "Janus" letters, the pen of Döllinger produced mostly anonymous articles, in which his approaching apostasy was daily more clearly foreshadowed. He gave also much thought to the plan of a universal German biography, the "Allgemeine deutsche Biographie". Though it was finally von Rancke who induced the Munich Academy to undertake the now practically finished work which, unfortunately, still shows frequent traces of partisanship, it was Döllinger's ardour and insistence that first moved the Academy to consider the proposition. There is even yet a very widespread conviction, and it was believed by the great Christian archaeologist De Rossi, who was quite accurately informed on all the details of the Vatican Council, that Döllinger would scarcely have left the Church if he had been invited to take an honorable share in the preliminary work for the council. Nor does this seem at all improbable to those who understand his character. It is, in any case, very regrettable that on this point the influence of Cardinal Reisach should have outweighed that of Cardinal Schwarzenberg, and availed to exclude the Munich historian.
Scarcely had the first detailed accounts of the council's proceedings appeared, when Döllinger published in the Ausburg "Allgemeine Zeitung" his famous "March articles", reprinted anonymously in August of that year under the title: "Janus, der Papst, und das Konzil". The accurate knowledge of papal history here manifested easily convinced most readers that only Döllinger could have written the work. At this time he provoked the "Hohenlohe theses" and followed them up with an anonymous work, "Erwägungen fur die Bischöfe des Konzils uber die Frage der Unfehlbalkeit", considerations concerning papal infallibility for the bishops of the council. This work was translated into French, and a copy sent to every bishop. In the meantime Cardinal Schwarzenberg, in unison with French sympathizers, urged him to be present at Rome in his private capacity during the council; he preferred, however, to remain at Munich, where he prepared for the aforesaid "Allgemeine Zeitung", with materials sent him regularly from Rome (even by bishops), the well-known Roman correspondence (Briefe vom Knzil), each letter of which fell in Rome like a bomb, but whose real author no one knew. When Döllinger wrote for the same journal, over his own name, the articles "Einige Worte uber die Unfehlbarkeitsaddresse der Konzilsmajoritat" (a few words on the address of the majority of the bishops concerning papal infallibility) and "Die neue Gesehäftsordnung im Konzil" (the council's new order of business), he was denounced in Rome as a heretic. Bishop Ketteler addressed to him an open letter quite brusque in tone, while other bishops urged him to keep silent. Döllinger yielded, and on 18 July, 1780, the personal infallibility of the pope and his universal pastoral office were declared articles of faith. The foregoing presentation of the actual situation in that critical time is taken from the life of Döllinger by Johann Friedrich, the theologian of Cardinal Hohenlohe during the council and to whom, despite his oath of silence concerning the affairs of the council, Döllinger was indebted for the materials of the "Letters". The declaration of papal infallibility meant naturally for Döllinger a severe internal conflict. The facts however do not justify the statement that he had long previously determined never to accept the dogma. The Archbishop of Munich, however, insisted on a public declaration of his attitude, and Döllinger weakly yielded to the pressure of those who were bent on apostasy, and wrote to the archbishop, 29 March, 1871, declaring his refusal to accept the dogma and stating his reasons in his character as Christian, theologian, historian, and citizen.
Leo XIII and Pius X have both declared, with all due formality and solemnity, that Church and State each within its own limits, are mutually independent; the Döllinger portrait of an infallible pope domineering over the State is, therefore, a caricature. For the great scholar it was dies ater when he wrote these words, for the theologian a period of profound mental confusion, for the Christian a succumbing to spiritual arrogance, for the citizen a full confession of the bureaucratic omnipotence of the State, a kind of belated resurrection of the memories of his youth.
Döllinger had definitely severed connection with the Church. Three weeks later (18 April, 1871) both Döllinger and Friedrick were publicly declared excommunicated. The action of the archbishop, under the circumstances unavoidable, aroused much feeling; on the one side it was hailed as a decisive step that ended a situation grown scandalous and intolerable, on the other many rejoiced that the world-renowned scholar had not bent his neck under the yoke of Rome. This marked the rise of the sect of the Old Catholics. At Pentecost of the same year (1871) a declaration was published, chiefly the work of Döllinger, setting forth the need of an ecclesiastical organization. Döllinger also signed a petition to the Government asking for one of the churches of Munich. Hitherto the opposition of this party to the Church had been mostly of a philosophico-historical character, and the dominant statesmen of the time could turn it to little practical account. It was now the hour for a number of inimical canonists whose opportunity lay in the anti-Catholic tendencies of the governments of the period. Prince Bismarck's plan of a National German Catholic Church, as independent of Rome as it was possible to make it (foreshadowed by Döllinger in 1849), corresponded now with the wishes of the apostate catholics, henceforth governed absolutely by the canonist von Schulte (see OLD CATHOLICS). The first assembly of these opponents of the Vatican Council was held at Munich, 22-24 Sept. 1871. On the suggestion of von Schulte, and despite the opposition and warnings of Döllinger, it was decided to establish the "Old Catholic Church". Thenceforth Döllinger followed a policy of vacillation, avoiding on the one hand any formal relationship to the new Church, on the other helpful to it by counsel and deeds; at one time disapproving positively important decisions of the sect, and again placing at its disposal all his influence and prestige. The new "Church" lacked distinction and was personally very distasteful to him; in public, however, though with measured reserve, he defended it. Henceforth formally excommunicated from the Catholic Church, he recognized the validity and legality of that act, at the same time he held it beneath his dignity to submit to the jurisdiction of Bishop Reinkens, for whom the Old Catholics had obtained consecration from the Jansenists in Holland. He stood, therefore, between the two camps, and looked on it as almost a calumny that the most insignificant members of the new sect considered him, more or less, an intimate adherent and sharer of their trials.
The next seven years he spent in pacifying his conscience, or, in his own words in a process of internal criticism; until 1887 he did nothing of importance, apart from a few essays, his academic discourses, and the work "Ungedruckte Berichte und Tagebucher zur Geschichte des Konzils von Trient", unedited reports and diaries useful for a history of the Council of Trent (1876). In 1887 he edited, with Reusch, the autobiography of Bellarmine up to 13 June, 1613, in German; with Reusch also he published (1889-90) in two volumes "Geschichte der Moralstreitigkeiten in der romisch-katholischen Kirche seit dem sechszehnten Jahrhundert, mit Beitragen zur Geschichte und Carakteristik des Jesuitenordens", or a history of the moral-theological discussions in the Roman Catholic Church since the sixteenth century, including studies on the history and characteristics of the Jesuit Order. About the same time he published in two volumes his "Beitrage zur Sektengeschichte des Mittelalters"; after his death appeared (1891) the third volume of is "Akademische Vortrage", or academic discourses.
He retained to the end a remarkable physical and mental strength. Though his latest writings met with a kindly reception in scientific circles they were not considered as superior in merit, either from the view-point of scientific criticism or as historical narrative. Seldom has it been so clearly proven that whenever a man turns completely from a glorious and honourable past, however stormy, his fate is irrevocably sealed.
APA citation. (1909). Johann Joseph Ignaz von Döllinger. In The Catholic Encyclopedia. New York: Robert Appleton Company. http://www.newadvent.org/cathen/05094a.htm
MLA citation. "Johann Joseph Ignaz von Döllinger." The Catholic Encyclopedia. Vol. 5. New York: Robert Appleton Company, 1909. <http://www.newadvent.org/cathen/05094a.htm>.
Transcription. This article was transcribed for New Advent by Joseph P. Thomas.
Ecclesiastical approbation. Nihil Obstat. May 1, 1909. Remy Lafort, Censor. Imprimatur. +John M. Farley, Archbishop of New York.
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