Czerski, Johann

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Apostate priest, sectarian leader; b. Warlubien, East Prussia, May 12, 1815; d. Schneidemühl, Germany, Dec. 22, 1893. After ordination at Posen (1842) he was a curate at the cathedral there, but was transferred to Schneidemühl (1844) after twice being suspended for concubinage. In August 1844 he left the Church and founded the Christian Apostolic Catholic Community, a small group that rejected papal primacy, veneration of saints, fasting, celibacy, indulgences, and remission of sins; he also introduced Communion under two species and the vernacular in the liturgy. Four days after his degradation from the priesthood and excommunication (Feb. 17, 1845) he married Mary Gutowska before a Protestant minister. After 1846 he became involved in the German Catholic movement (Deutschkatholizismus ), which he helped Johann ronge to found. Czerski's followers were few in number, consisting chiefly of Catholics discontented with Catholic teachings on mixed marriage. His religious conceptions were moderate at first, but after 1860 he abandoned Christianity and became a roving preacher of the Religious Society of Free Congregations. As a religious leader he lacked theological and moral integrity.

Bibliography: j. j. herzog and a. hauck, eds., Realencyklopädie für protestantische Theologie 4:583589. Wetzer und Welte's Kirchenlexikon, 13 v. (2d ed. Freiburg 18821903) 3:160315.

[v. conzemius]