Freppel, Charles Émile

views updated


French theologian, apologist, writer; b. Obernai (Bas-Rhin), France, June 1, 1827; d. Angers, Dec. 22, 1891. After studying at the seminary in Strasbourg, he was ordained (1849) and then became director of St. Arbogaste College in Strasbourg (1851), professor of homiletics, and later of patristics, at the Sorbonne (1855), consultor in the preparations for Vatican Council I (1869), and bishop of Angers (1869). During Vatican Council I he was an energetic supporter of papal infallibility. In 1880 he was elected deputy to the French Chamber, where he was a stalwart upholder of the Church and the monarchy. As a teacher and writer he was noted more for brilliance than for profundity. His voluminous writings included more than 40 titles in 80 volumes. Apart from his numerous pastoral letters and speeches as bishop,

his best-known works are Études sur les Pères des trois premiers siècles (11 v. 185993), a history of the sacred eloquence of the Fathers of the Church full of allusions to contemporary history; Bossuet et l'éloquence sacrée au 17e siècle (2 v. 1893); his study on the life of Christ written by renan, Examen critique de la Vie de Jésus par E. Renan (1863, 15th ed. 1866), which was widely read; and, still more popular, La Révolution française (1889), which went through many editions. Freppel was a brilliant orator and very combative. He was one of the most-discussed figures in the French hierarchy, especially because of his sharp, but not always objective, opposition to growing laicism. The impulse that Freppel gave to the social movement in French Catholicism did not advance much beyond the moralizing stage because of his opposition to state action in social problems. At the first Catholic congress on the social question, held at Angers, Freppel presided and claimed that moral renovation and private initiative sufficed to provide the essential remedies for social wrongs. Freppel's hostility to the Third Republic was shortsighted, and it reduced his political influence. His most lasting service was the foundation of the University of Angers (1875).

Bibliography: e. terrien, Mgr. Freppel, apologiste et défenseur des droits de l'Église (Paris 1927); Mgr. Freppel, sa vie, ses ouvrages, ses oeuvres, son influence et son temps, 2 v. (Angers 193132). e. mangenot, Dictionnaire de théologie catholique 6 (Paris 190350) 1:798800. c. ledrÉ, Catholicisme 4:158385.

[v. conzemius]