views updated May 23 2018


A term created in the nineteenth century (jointly with its dialectic opponent Gallicanism) to describe the defenders of the Roman vision of the papacy (from the other side of the Alps) against the German or French national conception. In the Middle Ages, as papal claims to power and authority became more precise and also more extreme, they were backed by canonists and theologians from all countries who might well be called "protoultramontanes," but it is only in later controversies that this designation is fully operative, as they dealt not only with ecclesiological particulars but two visions of Catholicism. This "early ultramontanism" represented the concern to maintain or restore a strong Catholic identity by focusing on the Roman center and developing common features susceptible to reunite and expand Christendom. Therefore, to the defense of Roman prerogatives and pyramidal ecclesiology was associated a forceful missionary program. In this perspective there is a direct continuity between post-Tridentine "Romanism" and nineteenth-century Ultramontanism.

Romanism. Already in the later sessions of trent, a majority of bishops realized the necessity to quiet down their objections and fully support papal authority. At their request the reform movement that followed the council was clearly under the leadership of the popes and under the control of their reorganized administration; it could not but stress the bonds between the local church and the Apostolic See. This perspective was accepted by most, who saw in it a guarantee of unity and success. The impressive Catholic renewal that marked the seventeenth century was therefore inspired by a new attachment to the papacy. Especially in countries where Protestants were nearby, such as France and Germany, there was a tendency to stress the constitutive notes of the church including that of "romanitas." In France, the reforming prelates, Du Perron, La Rochefoucault, the reformers of old religious orders and the founders of new forms of apostolate, Bérulle, J. Eudes, V. DePaul, J. J. Olier, were all "Romans," in the sense that they emphasized the authority of the papacy and welcomed its intervention. Though this conviction was propagated by international religious orders, especially the Jesuits, in most cases it was accepted without any resistance. Far from being a bullwark of Gallicanism, the Faculty of Theology of Paris, where the elite of the French clergy was educated, represented a conflictual place, where an ultramontane majority confronted a Richerist or Gallican minority.

This "Romanism" has not been investigated in itself but only in the context of the growth of "gallicanism," which is understandable as it expressed itself mostly in these polemical circumstances. It was, however, an important and rather homogeneous movement, as its main features demonstrate.

A strong hierarchical system, that defends Roman prerogatives and strives to extend them [M. Mauclerc, De Monarchia divina ecclesiastica (Paris 1622)]. Papal primacy is clearly established, together with the exclusivity of doctrinal pronouncement. Papal infallibility is also present, conceived more as a form of direct inspiration than protection from error. As a result of the Jansenist controversy, it has a great extension, including "dogmatic facts" [M. Grandin, Opera theologica, (Paris 17101712)]. On the other handthis is the major difference with the Roman schoolsthere is no claim to direct or even indirect authority over the secular power. Thus the Gallican "distinction of powers" is tacitly admitted (Censure of Santarelli, 1626). The best presentation is in the Tractatus de Libertatibus Ecclesiæ gallicanæ by A. Charlas (Paris, 1682), a refutation of the Four Gallican Articles. It also develops important theological reflections, including the notion of dogmatic progress.

A clerical and authoritarian Catholicism that restrains access by the laity to the Bible or Liturgy. In adopting the regulæ of the Roman Index, it practically forbade any translation of normative texts: Scripture and Liturgy, but also philosophy (Summa of Th. Aquinas), or theology (including the documents of Trent). This attitude was directly in opposition to that of the Jansenists, who favored such an access.

A festive and sociable Catholicism. The clear differentiation between the tasks of the cleric and those of the layman is compensated by the involvement of all in the mission of the church. This is realized by the diverse associations or sodalities, such as the famous Compagnie du Saint-Sacrement, and the structuring of a religious life focused on the identity of the company: chapel, protector saint, specific pilgrimage.

A devotional and charitable Catholicism. This associative life is the starting point of a process of personal and collective sanctification at once educational, moralizing, and charitable. This aspect is better known through recent investigation of sodalities or congrégations in the Europe of the Devouts [L. Châtellier]. The features of "ultramontane piety" influenced by southern Europe, are clearly in evidence: an emotional and intense spirituality, attached to particular Marian devotions or devotions to the Sacred Heart.

An expansionist Catholicism. Another component of this attitude is a concurrent opposition to any religious toleration and a strong conversion venture. It is not a surprise that the first missionary endeavors of the time, associating clergy and laity, in close link with Rome's Propaganda fide, were born in this context (Missions Étrangères de Paris, 1658).

Though they did not openly express an ideology, all these components were specific enough to prepare its formulation. In addition, if the opposition raised in most Catholic countries by this vision forced its adherents to keep a low profile, it was never destroyed. It survived the suppression of the Society of Jesus and was able to resist and counter the Catholic Enlightenment in its various formsa stand that the papacy started to acknowledge and encourage in the last decades of the 18th century. But it was undeniably the french revolution, both in its discrediting Gallicanism and in its reinforcing the spiritual authority of the pope, that allowed for an aggressive revival of Ultramontanism.

Ultramontanism. The advance of anti-Roman theories during the eighteenth century did not go without resistance, and, especially in Italy, the defenders of papal authority (Zaccharia, Cucagni, Marchetti, Anfossi, Ballerini, Cappelari) produced apologetic refutations that would become influential in the next century. The pope also prepared the future in the precise condemnations of every attack against his jurisdiction (Censures of Febronius, 1764; Responsio super Nunciaturis, 1789; Auctorem Fidei against the Synod of Pistoia, 1794). But it was in the new generations that new forms of Ultramontanism took shape. Rejecting the principles of the French Revolution in which they saw the realization of a process started by the Protestant Reformation and intensified by the Enlightenment, the "Traditionalists," de Bonald and de Maistre, stressed the necessity of an irrecusable authority, which they placed in the papacy. On the other side, it was because of Gallicanism's allegiance to liberal principles that Lamennais and his disciples rejected it and placed their hopes in a renewed papacy. Closer to early popular Ultramontanism, strengthened by the revolutionary trials, was the group lead by L. Veuillot, which expressed itself in the daily L'Univers. Lamennais' condemnation (1832) and the encyclical Quanta Cura (1864) detached from that movement the majority of the liberal Catholics, who joined a "neo-Gallican" episcopalist faction. The others (P. Guéranger) reinforced the Ultramontane party, bringing with them theological savvy and eager zeal. With more and more explicit support of Rome they launched a wide offensive against the remnants of Gallicanism: substituting diocesan liturgical books with Roman ones, correcting historical and theological class-books, soon replacing them with more adequate editions. The encyclical Inter muliplices (March 1853) marked a direct involvement of pius ix in favor of this centralizing effort. His intervention responded to the expectations of many, against the reservations of isolated bishops and theologians. It encouraged what has been called "neo-ultramontanism," to distinguish it from the doctrine proclaimed at Vatican I: an extreme exaltation of the Roman Pontiff, associated with a high interpretation of his infallibility, closer to direct inspiration than inerrancy. With interesting variations, it can be found in all Catholic countries, with the uncompromising and prejudiced traits well illustrated by L'Univers. The discussion of these themes at vatican i allowed for a beneficial reflection. The constitution Pastor Aeternus that resulted did affirm papal primacy and infallibility, but did not follow the more extreme Ultramontanes in their interpretation.

Four features appear constitutive of 19th-century Ultramontanism:

Ecclesiology. A rather weak theology that forsakes the supernatural and "mysterical" conception of the Roman School (Passaglia, Schrader, Franzelin, Perrone) in favor of a juridical interpretation. The church is founded upon the pope, principle of its unity.

Spirituality. The expression "Ultramontane piety" is used to define a popular and festive religion that accentuates the traits of baroque piety of the early centuries. It represents an integration of local traditions, formerly considered superstitious or pagan, an honoring of miraculous saints and relics, an evolution of the devotions to the Blessed Sacrament, the Sacred Heart, and the Virgin, into a more emotional and penitential type of piety. A great interest in the supernatural is generally evident, often associated with Marian apparitions (Lourdes 1858). Facilitated by new means of transportation, pilgrimages to old and new shrines are also very successful.

Moral theology. In direct opposition to "Jansenist" rigorism, the moral theology founded by St. alphonsus liguori became during the nineteenth century the official doctrine of the Church. This shift supported a more frequent use of penance and Eucharist, perceived as sources of spiritual strength and food of apostolate.

Apostolate. Under many diversified forms, lay and clerical men and women became involved in the apostolate of the church, thus manifesting both at home and in mission territories a perception of Roman Catholicism as a universal and expanding community.

After Vatican I, the concept of Ultramontanism is only analogical, for instance in the qualification of "integralist" perspectives that arose during the Modernist crisis, or of oppositions to the Vatican II doctrine of collegiality.

See Also: papacy; ketteler, wilhelm emmanuel von; lacordaire, jean baptiste henri; lamennais, hugues fÉlicitÉ; robert de; maistre, joseph de; manning, henry edward; montalembert, charles forbes renÉ de; veuillot, louis franÇois; ward, william george.

Bibliography: j. vidal, Dans l'entourage de Caulet, III, Antoine Charlas directeur du séminaire et vicaire général de Pamiers, 16341698 (Castillon-de-Couserans 1943). a. g. martimort, Le gallicanisme de Bossuet (Paris 1953). j. orcibal, "L'idée d'Église chez les catholiques du XVIIe siècle," in Études d'histoire et de littérature religieuses (Paris 1997; org. pub. 1955). m. nÉdoncelle, ed., L'ecclésiologie au XIX e siècle (Paris 1960). h. raab, "Zur Geschichte und Bedeutung des Schlagswortes 'Ultramontan' im 18 und frühen 19. Jahrhundert," Historisches Jahrbuch 81 (1962), 59173. j. guerber, Le ralliement du clergé français à la morale liguorienne: labbé Gousset et ses précurseurs (17851832) (Rome 1973). h. j. pottmeyer, Unfehlbarkeit und Souveränität: Die päpstliche Unfehlbarkeit der ultramonten Ekklesiologie des 19. Jahrhunderts (Mayence 1975). r. f. costigan, Rohrbacher and the Ecclesiology of Ultramontanism (Rome 1980). u. horst, Unfehlbarkeit und Geschichte (Mayence 1982). t. a. kselman, Miracles and Prophecies in Nineteenth Century France (New Brunswick 1983). j. gadille, Les Ultramontains Canadiens français (Montréal 1985). a. gough, Paris and Rome: The Gallican Church and the Ultramontane Campaign, 18481853 (Oxford 1986). l. chatellier, Europe of the Devouts (Cambridge 1989). k. ganzer, "Gallikanische und römische Primataufflassung im widerstreit. Zu den ekklesiologischen Auseinandersetzungen auf dem Konzil von Trient," Historishe Jahrbuch 109 (1989) 109163. b. chÉdozeau, La Bible et la liturgie en français (Paris 1990). k. schatz, Papal Primacy: From Its Origins to the Present (Collegeville Minn. 1996). m. vÉnard, "Ultramontane of Gallican? The French Episcopate at the End of the Sixteenth Century," The Jurist 52 (1992), 142161. b. neveu, L'erreur et son juge. Remarques sur les censures doctrinales à l'époque moderne (Naples 1993). l. chatellier, The Religion of the Poor (Cambridge 1997). j. von arx, ed., Varieties of Ultramontanism (Washington 1998). j. m. gres-gayer, Le Gallicanisme de Sorbonne 16571688 (Paris 2001).

[j. m. gres-gayer]


views updated May 08 2018


ULTRAMONTANISM is the tendency of Roman Catholicism that emphasizes the authority of the papacy in the government and teaching of the church. Originally articulated in opposition to Gallicanism, ultramontanism stressed the unity of the church centralized in Rome ("over the mountains") and its independence from nations and states. Ultramontane principles can be traced to the struggles of popes and councils in the fifteenth century. The papalist position received a full exposition by the Jesuit Roberto Bellarmino at the end of the sixteenth century. However, ultramontanism acquired its definitive meaning in the conflict over the Gallicanism of Louis XIV in the seventeenth and eighteenth centuries. The term ultramontanism seems to date from the 1730s, although ultramontane was used with various meanings in the Middle Ages. During the eighteenth century, exponents of ultramontanism waged a generally losing struggle against Gallicanism and similar statist movements in other countries, such as Febronianism and Josephism.

The French Revolution dealt a fatal blow to Gallicanism by destroying the monarchy on which it had rested. In the ensuing age of uncertainty, the attractiveness of the papacy as the only stable source of authority stimulated a Roman Catholic revival, of which ultramontanism was the essence. Count Joseph de Maistre forcefully expressed this position in Du pape (1819), proposing absolutism in state and church under the ultimate supremacy of the pope. The traditionalism of Viscount Louis de Bonald disparaged individual reason, for which Félicité de Lamennais (Essay on Indifference, 1817) substituted the "universal consent" of humanity, as embodied in the pope, as the ultimate test of truth. But Lamennais, developing the democratic implications of "universal consent," appealed not only to the pope but also to the people, seeking the freedom of the church in the freedom of society. Thus he commenced the liberal Catholic movement in the context of ultramontanism. The appeal made to Pope Gregory XVI by Lamennais and his associates on the journal Avenir was rejected (Mirari vos, 1832) by a papacy still seeking safety in alliance with authoritarian monarchies. Lamennais left the church. Nonetheless, his more moderate colleagues, notably Count Charles de Montalembert and Henri Lacordaire, were able to build a party, at once ultramontane and liberal, that supplanted Gallicanism as the political expression of French Catholicism. This party seemed to triumph during the revolution of 1848, securing its chief goal, freedom of Catholic education, with the passage of the Falloux law in 1850.

The Falloux law brought to the surface a latent division in the Catholic party, many of whose members had followed Montalembert's quest for liberty only as a means toward the end of the ultimate dominance of the church in French life. Louis Veuillot, editor of L'univers, led an intransigent group that rejected the compromises inherent in the Falloux law and advanced the most extreme claims on behalf of the church and, within it, of the authority of the pope. This new ultramontanism thus rejected liberal Catholicism, a product of the older ultramontanism, and set itself against all forms of liberalism in church, state, and intellectual life.

The attitude of the papacy was decisive. Although Pope Pius IX (18461878) had flirted mildly with liberalism early in his reign, he reacted sharply after the revolution of 1848, which had driven him out of his temporal dominions. After 1850, the church under his leadership regarded itself as besieged and embattled, hostile to all liberalism in political and intellectual life, and concentrating in the pope himself both the devotion of the faithful and the plenitude of authority. This was the final meaning of ultramontanism. Having already overcome Gallicanism, it now fought and defeated liberal Catholicism. Veuillot in France, the Jesuits associated with the periodical Civiltà Cattolica in Italy, William George Ward and Henry Edward Manning in England, Paul Cullen in Ireland, and, more moderately, the Mainz school led by Wilhelm von Ketteler in Germany were the leading exponents of a movement that rapidly triumphed among committed Catholics. The Syllabus of Errors (1864), a set of theses condemned by Pius IX, marked the height of ultramontane militancy. The definition of papal infallibility by the First Vatican Council in 1870 set the seal on its victory. However qualified the wording of this definition, it was manifest that the ultramontane program of a centralized and authoritarian church under an irresistible pope had been achieved.

From the First to the Second Vatican Council, ultramontanism was effectively synonymous with orthodox Roman Catholicism. The movement in its final form had won so complete a triumph that the term itself fell out of use.

See Also

Gallicanism; Modernism, article on Christian Modernism; Papacy; Pius IX; Vatican Councils.


Encyclopedic or reference entries on ultramontanism tend to be either partisan or unhelpful, but F. F. Urquhart's essay "Ultramontanism," in the Encyclopaedia of Religion and Ethics, edited by James Hastings, vol. 12 (Edinburgh, 1926), is a solid brief sketch. Good extended treatments of nineteenth-century ultramontanism can be found in Wilfrid Ward's William George Ward and the Catholic Revival, 2d ed. (London, 1912); Adrien Dansette's Religious History of Modern France, vol. 1, translated by John Dingle (New York, 1961); and especially Roger Aubert's Le pontificat de Pie IX, 18461878, "Histoire de l'Église," vol. 21 (Paris, 1952).

Josef L. Altholz (1987)


views updated May 17 2018

Ultramontanism (Lat., ultra montes, ‘beyond the mountains’, i.e. the Alps). A movement emphasizing the pre-eminence of Roman authority in the Church. It was opposed from the 17th cent. onwards to Gallicanism in France, Josephinism in Austria, and similar attempts elsewhere to promote the development of national churches independent of Roman, but under state, control. In the 19th cent., ultramontanism was closely associated with support for the papacy's temporal power, and for the doctrine of papal infallibility.