Döllinger, Johannes Joseph Ignaz von
DÖLLINGER, JOHANNES JOSEPH IGNAZ VON
Ecclesiastical historian, theologian; b. Bamberg, Germany, Feb. 28, 1799; d. Munich, Jan. 10, 1890.
Early Career. His father was a distinguished anatomist and embryologist whose studies of animal growth and of Naturphilosophie had an important influence on the son's theological development. His pious mother counterbalanced his anticlerical father. After studying at the University of Würzburg and the seminary in Bamberg, Döllinger was ordained (1822) and served briefly as curate to Markt Scheinfeld. In 1823 he began to teach Canon Law and Church history in Aschaffenburg. In 1836 he was awarded a doctorate from the University of Landshut for his dissertation, Die Lehre der Eucharistie in den ersten drei Jahrhunderten, which drew heavily from Antoine arnauld's Perpetuité de la foi de l'Eglise catholique sur l'Eucharistie. Upon the recommendation of Johann Michael sailer, he was appointed to the chair of Church history in the University of Munich (1826).
Döllinger's memory and linguistic ability were phenomenal, and his erudition vast. As a historian, however, he was for the most part unoriginal and derivative in his thought. Thus his inaugural address at Munich, Über die Ausbreitung des Christentums in den ersten Jahrhunderten (1826), was in good part borrowed from Hugues Felicité de lamennais's Essai sur l'indifférence (1818). He joined the Catholic circle in Munich led by Franz von baader and Joseph von gÖrres, and collaborated with them in publishing the review Eos (1825–32). This circle was influenced by contemporary Romanticism and was politically conservative, anticapitalistic, monarchist, and mildly ultramontane. It sought to restore social and religious life on Catholic principles, much as did the French movement of liberal Catholicism. Döllinger stressed the importance of public opinion and engaged in public affairs because he believed theologians should guide the public. He defended Archbishop droste zu vischering in the cologne mixed marriage dispute, represented the university in the Landtag (1845–47, 1849–51) and Lower Bavaria in the Congress of Frankfort (1848–49), organized the Katholischer Verein (after 1849), encouraged the growth of a Catholic press, and convinced the German bishops that they should meet regularly (1848). After a dispute with King Ludwig I of Bavaria concerning the dismissal of four professors, Döllinger himself was dismissed in 1847 but was restored in 1850.
Historian. Döllinger used his historical knowledge to argue that Protestantism, liberalism, and rationalism marked breaks with the historic past. He collaborated in founding the Historisch-politische Blätter (1838) and contributed to it articles attacking the writings of Leopold von ranke and other Protestant or liberal historians. "Organic growth" and "consistent development" were his key expressions. The concept of tradition played an important role in his thinking, as it did in that of Johann Adam mÖhler, the Tübingen school of Catholic theologians, and Joseph de maistre. Döllinger published two works on the Reformation: Die Reformation, ihre innere Entwicklung und ihre Wirkungen im Umfange des Lutherischen Bekenntnisses (3 v. 1846–48) and Luther (1850; Eng. tr. 1853). In both he tried to demonstrate that Protestantism represented a break in historical continuity and development. His other works on Catholic history, which won international renown through many translations, included: Lehrbuch der Kirchengeschichte (2 v. 1836; Eng. tr. 1840–42); Hippolytus und Callistus oder die römische Kirche in der ersten Hälfte des dritten Jahrhunderts (1853; Eng. tr. 1876); Heidentum und Judentum, Vorhalle zur Geschichte des Christentums (1857; Eng. tr. 2 v. 1862); Christentum und Kirche in der Zeit der Grundlegung (1860; Eng. tr 1862); Die Papstfabeln des Mittelalters (1863; Eng. tr. 1871–72).
Growing Anti-Romanism. By 1850 a subtle but detectable tincture of nationalism affected Döllinger's work, and in a spirit not unlike the febronianism of the 18th century he began to call for episcopal independence
of Rome, a Catholic Church in Germany headed by a German metropolitan, and education for the priesthood in universities rather than in seminaries. He became so disturbed by what he considered growing papal absolutism that he delivered lectures questioning the further usefulness of the states of the church and criticizing their current administration. He published these lectures as Kirche und Kirchen. Papsttum und Kirchenstaat. Historischpolitische Betrachtungen (1861; Eng. tr. 1862) to contradict a report that his talks were overtures to ca vour. This book was poorly received in Rome. More fundamental, however, was Döllinger's hostility to the revival of scholastic theology, particularly by Roman Jesuits. Döllinger preferred the study of historical theology, and feared the tendency of some scholastics to label as heretical opinions contrary to their own and to suppress them by means of the index of forbidden books. Döllinger minimized Roman scholarship but extolled German accomplishments in history and theology. He argued that scholars in their research must be free from arbitrary interference by Church authorities. His fears seemed to him to be confirmed by the definition of the immaculate conception (1854) and then by the publication of the syllabus of errors (1864). He expressed his sentiments in a speech published as Die Universtäten sonst und jetzt (1867; Eng. tr. 1867).
Vatican Council I. Döllinger was not asked to participate in vatican council i, but he was drawn into the central controversy concerning papal primacy and infallibility. In his attack upon the Jesuits of La Cività Cattolica, which appeared originally in the Allgemeine Zeitung of Augsburg under the pseudonym Janus, he opposed the doctrines themselves, whereas the minority group in the Council merely held that a definition would be inopportune. The book by Janus, Der Papst und das Concil (1869; Eng. tr. 1870–73), was placed on the Index on Nov. 26, 1869, shortly before the Council opened. During the sessions he kept in correspondence with Bishop du panloup of Orléans and other minority leaders. His friends Lord acton (John Emerich Edward Dalberg), Johann friedrich, and the Bavarian ambassador supplied him with information and impressions about conciliar proceedings. Again in the Allgemeine Zeitung under the pseudonym Quirinus appeared 69 Roman letters in which Döllinger attacked the conduct of the leaders of the majority group and complained that bishops of the minority were not entirely free to speak their minds. These letters appeared in book form as Römische Briefe vom Concil (1870; Eng. tr. 1870), but their intemperance injured the inopportunist cause.
Late Career. When Döllinger refused to subscribe to the definitions of papal prerogatives, he was excommunicated by the archbishop of Munich (1871) and lost his professorship (1872), but King Ludwig II of Bavaria befriended him. He considered his excommunication unjust. Although he participated in discussions with the leaders who were organizing the old catholics, he refused to identify himself with this schismatic sect. His subsequent historical work has become somewhat outdated. Promotion of Christian unity engaged him. His most notable efforts in this regard were his lectures of 1872, published as Über die Wiedervereinigung der christlichen Kirchen (1888). After his excommunication, he no longer celebrated Mass or participated in the Church's sacramental life, but he regularly attended Mass. He received the last rites from Johann Friedrich, an Old Catholic priest.
Döllinger had many contacts with leaders of the Catholic revival in Germany, France, and England; but many of his ecclesiological concepts derived from 18th-century thinkers imbued with gallicanism and Febronianism. He exerted considerable influence by impressing on Catholic scholars the necessity of developing a historical as well as a speculative approach to theology. Also he did much to promote among Catholics an interest in scientific research and study of ecclesiastical history.
Bibliography: s. lÖsch, Döllinger und Frankreich (Munich 1955), with complete bibliog. of Döllinger's writings, including Eng. and other tr. v. conzemius, ed., Ignaz von Döllinger: Briefwechsel 1820–90 (Munich 1963). j. e. e. acton, "Doellinger's Historical Work," English Historical Review 5 (1890) 700–744. j. friedrich, Ignaz von Döllinger, 3 v. (Munich 1899–1901), by an Old Catholic and close friend of Döllinger. f. vigener, Drei Gestalten aus dem modernen Katholizismus: Möhler, Diepenbrock, Döllinger (Munich 1926). s. tonsor, "Lord Acton on Döllinger's Historical Theology," Journal of the History of Ideas 20 (1959) 329–352. v. conzemius, "Aspects ecclésiologiques de l'évolution de Döllinger et du Vieux Catholicisme," Revue des sciences religieuses 34 (1960) 247–279. p. godet, Dictionnaire de théologie catholique, ed. a. vacant et al. (Paris 1903–50) 4.2:1512–22. y.m. j. congar, Catholicisme 3:972–974. w. mÜller, Dictionnaire d'histoire et de géographie ecclésiastiques, ed. a. baudrillart et al. (Paris 1912) 14:553–563. A. SCHWARZ, Lexikon für Theologie und Kirche, ed. j. hofer and k. rahner (Freiburg 1957–65) 3:475.
[s. j. tonsor]