Germany, The Catholic Church in
GERMANY, THE CATHOLIC CHURCH IN
Located in western Europe, the Federal Republic of Germany is bordered on the north by the Baltic Sea and Denmark, on the northeast by the North Sea, on the east by Poland and the Czech Republic, on the southeast by Austria, on the southwest by Switzerland and France, and on the west by Luxembourg, Belgium and the Netherlands. Containing a wealth of natural resources—coal, lignite, salt, natural gas, iron ore and other minerals—as well as some of the most beautiful forests and meadowlands, Germany is also the wealthiest nation in western Europe. Heavily industrialized, its exports include electronics, automobiles, chemicals, optical and scientific instruments, and pharmaceutical products. With its fertile soil, Germany also produces agricultural crops of potatoes, sugar beets, wheat, barley and grapes, the last of which provides the basis for another of the country's chief exports: wine.
The following essay is in four parts. The first part treats the history of the Catholic Church in Germany from the period of Christian origins to 1500, the second from 1500 to 1789, the third from 1789 to 1900, and the fourth from 1900 to the present.
From the Beginnings to the Reformation
Throughout its early history, Germany and the Teutonic tribes of its traditional territory were subjected to a variety of influences from the civilizations to the south.
The Roman Period. From 58 to 38 b.c. Julius Caesar and then Agrippa forced the Germanic Ubii tribes west of the Rhine, resulting in the colonization of that area by Germans and remnant Celtic peoples. A similar situation occurred in the area of the confluence of the Rhine and the Main. Military conquests Romanized the new provinces of Belgica, Germania inferior ("Lower Rhine") and Germania superior ("Upper Rhine"), as well as the newly won provinces south of the Danube, Raetia and Noricum. To these were added the Agri Decumates, protected by the limes running from the Rhine to the Danube. Like other parts of the Roman Empire, these provinces were now opened to Christianity, which, in the period of peace and prosperity following the 2d century, gained a scattered foothold in the larger settlements through the efforts of merchants and soldiers from Lugdunum.
By the end of the 3d century there were bishops in the imperial city of Trier, and at the beginning of the 4th century in Cologne (probably also in Mainz and Augsburg). The flowering of Christianity after the Church attained her freedom (313) is seen in the participation of
the bishops of Worms, Speyer, Strassburg, Augst (Basel), Metz and Tongeren in the synods of the later Arian period; the mention of bishops from Noricum by Athanasius; the erection of churches (St. Severin, St. Gereon, St. Ursula in Cologne); and in numerous archeological finds (bowls and gold glasses with Christian symbols and inscriptions). The creation of a metropolitan organization (cologne, trier, Mainz, Milan and aquileia) can only be conjectured; but the center of missionary activity was probably Trier. The migrations of the 5th century were indeed a catastrophe for these areas had apparently been completely Christianized. The succession of bishops for Mainz, Augsburg, and other cities was broken, but small Christian communities somehow managed to survive.
Christianization of Germanic Tribes. The Romanized Germans of these provinces were opposed to the independent pagan tribes of Germania Magna, which, after the alamanni had breeched the limes, had been moving to the southeast since the 3d century. These wandering tribes, by penetrating farther into the Roman Empire, could not, in the long run, avoid the strong influence of Christianity and its culture. The first contact of Christianity with these tribes was with the visigoths in connection with the border fighting along the Lower Danube. At Nicaea a Gothic bishop, Theophilus, signed the counciliar decrees. After 341 ulfilas, Bishop of the Goths, led his people to Christianity in its Arian form, because the Visigoths were at that time allies of an Arian emperor.
This superficial form of arianism was retained by the Visigoths in Spain, from whom it spread to the other Germanic tribes, the Ostrogoths (see goths), Suevi, vandals, lombards and Burgundians. These tribes looked upon Arianism as a national characteristic, in opposition to the Catholic faith of the natives of conquered countries, and stressed their variant outlook on Church-State relations, rather than their theological differences. From the beginning, the king ruled the Church among the Germans, and Church property remained under landlords (see proprietary churches). Whereas theodoric the great was, in general, tolerant toward Catholics in the Ostrogothic kingdom, they were subjected to bloody persecution in the Vandal kingdom of Africa. However, both the Ostrogoth and Vandal states disappeared by the middle
of the 6th century, the Visigoths and Lombards became Catholic c. 600, and by 532 the Burgundians were forced to accept the domination of the Catholic franks.
By the end of the 5th century, the last shreds of Roman authority in Catholic Gaul were eliminated by the Franks. The baptism of clovis (498?) quickly heralded that of the nobility, whereas the people were not thoroughly Christianized until probably the 7th century. Thus the German conquerors and their Roman subjects in the Frankish kingdom were for the first time of one faith, greatly facilitating their merger into one people and making Clovis, in the eyes of Catholics living under Arian rule, the champion of the Church. Also by virtue of this merger, the uninterrupted blending of the culture of late antiquity with German folk custom was made possible. The Frankish kingdom thus became the means of fusing the various tribes, which were henceforth to be held together by the bond of their common Catholic faith and ancient Christian culture. Accordingly, Burgundians, Visigoths and Suevi were quickly incorporated into Frankland, whose Church, to be sure, was forced to serve the political purposes of the nobility in the 8th century. The other great tribes—Alamanni, Bavarians, Thuringians and Saxons—came under the influence of Christianity after the conversion of the Franks as a result of Frankish conquest and missionary activity. So, in the case of the Alamanni after the loss of their political freedom, the estates of the king and of the Frankish nobility became Christian strongholds, and the ties of Alamannic magnates with the Frankish court occasioned many conversions. But the native missionary strength of the Frankish national Church, entirely dependent on the king, was quickly exhausted by upheavals from within the dynasty.
Nevertheless, the Merovingian court, as well as Austrasian Metz, became the base and starting point for Celtic and other missionaries. It was especially due to columban, gall and later pirmin that the mission to the Alamanni in the 7th century succeeded, leading to their conversion. The famous foundations of sankt gallen, reichenau and others provided access to Christian culture and educational centers for these new converts. A Frankish migration to the area of the Main followed upon the conquest of the Thuringian kingdom in 531. The mission to this people reached its peak in the 7th century through the efforts of kilian, and c. 700, the East Frankish kingdom was definitively won over to Christianity. When the Bavarians entered the area bearing their name in the early 6th century, they were exposed to the strong influence of the native Roman Christian population. Nevertheless, only after they had lost political independence to the Franks was the tribe fully converted, through the efforts of Frankish (rupert) and Celtic (emmeram and corbinian) missionaries. But the Church was not fully organized until the time of St. boniface, the "apostle of Germany."
The completion of the mission and the organization of the Church in Germany begun by other anglo-saxon missionaries was due primarily to the efforts of Boniface. The well-organized Anglo-Saxon mission among the various Germanic tribes on the Continent marked Willibrord as the apostle of the Frisians and Winfrid-Boniface as the apostle of Germany. Having worked independently in Hesse and Thuringia since 721, Boniface declared his allegiance to the pope, and according to his native custom, sought support for his work from civil authority, viz, the Frankish mayor of the palace. As archbishop and as papal legate for Germany, he created the diocesan organization that still exists in Bavaria (Freising, Passau, Regensburg, Salzburg); founded the Sees of Buraburg, Erfurt and Eichstätt; and revised Würzburg. Newly founded monasteries (e.g., fulda) were the first centers of mission activity, and convents (e.g., Lioba) became the first institutions for the Christian education of women. As a reformer of the Frankish Church, Boniface fought secularization of church property, commendation and lay control, as well as the moral degradation of bishops and priests in the Merovingian kingdom. In numerous synods, both local and general, he worked for the restitution of church property and the establishment of the metropolitan system, but was only partly successful. On the other hand, he was able to bring the Church, entirely dependent on sectional chieftains, into closer union with Rome at the general synod of 747, and accustomed the Frankish mayors to this association with the pope.
While Boniface's role in the anointing of pepin may be doubted, the participation of his disciple burchard of wÜrzburg in the legation to Rome that negotiated the change of authority with the pope was significant. With
unselfish dedication Boniface led the mission territories to independence, revived the Frankish Church and made further efforts of foreign missionaries more or less super-fluous, since the Franks themselves were henceforth capable of converting the last of the German tribes, the Saxons. This had been planned by Boniface as a later objective and had already been unsuccessfully attempted by several skilled missionaries. After 30 years of military campaigns and the preaching of the faith, the Saxons finally entered the Carolingian Empire and the Catholic Church when national-pagan opposition lost its leader through the baptism of widukind. Henceforth this territory could be organized with the help of sponsoring bishoprics and abbeys. Thus c. 800, no less than eight sees were successively established (Bremen, soon thereafter transferred to Hamburg, Verden, Minden, Paderborn, Münster, Osnabrück, Halberstadt and Hildesheim). While these new bishoprics coincided with the territory
Cologne Cathedral, c. 1870, Cologne, Germany. (Hulton/Archive Photos)
of the various Saxon tribes, the organization of dioceses in older areas generally conformed to boundaries established in the Roman period, with the exception of Windisch, which disappeared in the south, and Constance, the largest German bishopric, which came into existence in the early 7th century. Parishes with baptismal rights also began gradually to make their appearance.
The Church in the Carolingian and Ottonian Empires. Merovingian royal control of the Church, which the Frankish king had based on Old Testament authority, and the union with Rome created by Boniface, were the foundations upon which charlemagne, son of Pepin III, built the Church of the empire (Reichskirche ). As king he had already assumed the task of expanding missions to the Saxons and to the Slavs on the upper Main and in the Alps, defending the faith against Arabs and Avars, and restoring and ordering the internal administration of the Church and the development of its cultural activities. Besides establishing bishoprics, he also completed the metropolitan system (Mainz, Cologne, Trier and Salzburg). Under his son Louis the Pious, Bremen-Hamburg would also become an archdiocese. The position of bishops was strengthened when Charlemagne ordered regularly held diocesan synods and employed the bishops as his missi dominici. He himself presided at imperial synods that made decisions on dogmatic questions, such as the filioque and the veneration of images. A passion for order prompted him to unify the liturgy and monastic observance. Using his father's plans, Louis would make the benedictine Rule mandatory for the empire.
Above all Charlemagne interested himself in furthering the spiritual life and the education of both clergy and people. By numerous capitularies, he provided for sermons, Sunday observance and the erection of cathedral, monastic and parish schools. The policies of Charlemagne's long administration, permeated with ideas dedicated to the advance of culture, created the "Empire of the West," over which he presided after his coronation as emperor in 800, crowned by Pope Leo III. Prescinding from Charlemagne's personal interpretation of his office, his crowning meant not only the revival of the roman empire and the dawning of the Middle Ages, but also the opportunity for him and his successors to influence the occupancy of the Roman See by confirming the election of the pope. For centuries to come, this coronation also made Germany the intellectual center of Europe and the heartland of the Church. But this event likewise caused Germany, in the following centuries, to be more deeply involved in theoretical controversies and armed conflicts over the relationship between Church and empire, pope and emperor.
The spiritual unity of the West revealed the flourishing cultural life of Charlemagne's realm, and, despite later Carolingian decline, also that of his successors. It is possible to speak of a carolingian renaissance, even though it was hardly a creative and artistic impulse, but was rather a movement that, following the example of antiquity, confined itself to organization and collection. The court school at aachen and the monastic school of tours, under the supervision of alcuin, were the training grounds for generations of officials and ecclesiastical dignitaries. Here they learned classical Latin, the intellectual tool needed for their profession and also for literary work. In the academic circle of Aachen, scholars gathered from all corners of the vast empire. In his Vita Caroli magni, einhard produced the model historical biography. rabanus maurus, Abbot of Fulda and Archbishop of Mainz, made the accumulated knowledge of his century accessible to his contemporaries in great anthologies. Living in the monasteries, surrounded by valuable libraries that had been enriched by copies of ancient works produced in their own scriptoria, were Otfrid of Weissenburg, the author of a Gospel harmony; the poet and liturgist walafrid strabo, at Reichenau; and among the recently converted Saxons, the author of the heliand —the most significant work in the German language of that early Christian period. In theology also, the first independent attempts were made to present and defend the Augustinian theory on predestination and to settle the controversies that had risen over the eucharist (gottschalk of orbais). In Church architecture, the new form of early Romanesque came under German influence (Aachen, Seligenstadt).
While Germany's contribution to liturgy and art may be considered important, its impact on the youthful Church in the area of law was even more significant. The mentality of this era was primarily realistic and intuitive. Abstract intellectual concepts could be grasped only after lengthy and involved discussions. Thus, when a church was established, emphasis was placed, not on the singular blessings attached to the new location, but on the rights
of the owner of the foundation and its property. Similarly with Church appointments, it was not so much the spiritual duties of the office that were of importance as the associated benefices and the investment with rights of office. Church property, which accumulated as a result of numerous donations, was considered a special kind of crown property, to be used by the king only in time of need. The old view of a society divided by class distinctions determined at birth was carried into the Church. The most prestigious monasteries accepted only the highest nobility, and bishops were increasingly chosen only from this class. With this practice, imperial influence grew, especially in the northwest. This influence of the king seemed justifiable, since bishops and prelates, as the administrators of sizable fiefs, were gradually endowed also with political responsibility and sovereignty.
The first climax of this development was reached in Germany under King otto i. In his struggle against the centrifugal tendencies of the hereditary duchies, Otto won the solid support of bishops and abbots. He generously
invested them with royal prerogatives (regalia), particularly with the title and dignity of counts, entrusted them with important offices of the realm, and demanded execution of clearly defined economic and military obligations. Among the German hierarchy were a number of outstanding personalities distinguished in the affairs of both Church and State who were able to harmonize their secular and ecclesiastical functions. Nevertheless, this double role of the lords spiritual—who actually became territorial princes by the 13th century and remained such until the Reformation, and in some cases, down to the secularization of 1803— brought with it dangers and conflicts. Despite the possibility of the effectual cooperation of both authorities, to the mutual interest of Church and State, the danger continued. Both Episcopal investiture with secular possessions and sovereign rights, and the concomitant feudalization of Church property resulted from the bestowal by the king of the symbols of spiritual power: the staff and, after henry iii, also the ring. Such investitures were not only indicative of proprietary Church law and feudal sovereignty, but also, in the light of the theories of uniformity current in the period, seemed to deny the independence of spiritual authority and to derive that authority from royal prerogative, thus making the Church dependent upon the crown.
For years no one raised an objection to this situation. Otto I, who had saved Germany from the pagan Hungarian invasion of 955, revived the empire in 962 and consciously identified it with the German nation. With the new responsibility of an anointed and consecrated ruler, he and his successors frequently freed the papacy from the ignominious control of the factional Roman nobility (see crescentii; tusculani). While papal authority had declined, the preeminence of the emperor increased, evidenced by numerous imperial appointments of popes. Nevertheless, the Ottos and Henry III chose only worthy men. But such intervention seemed to give the appearance of dominance over the See of Peter and brought about a canonically oriented reaction against the institution of the proprietary Church and the inveterate practice of lay investiture.
The High Middle Ages. The Salian imperial house, which had recently led the cluniac reform in Germany to victory, now witnesses a sudden outbreak of hostilities. The papal election decree of 1059, by failing to mention the emperor's right of nomination, sparked the struggle, which smoldered until the days of gregory vii and the autocratic intervention of henry iv in Milan. The general investiture prohibition, decreed in 1075 for the reestablishment of "proper order" in the world, represented, in fact, a revolutionary attack on the foundations of the German empire. Its political structure was shaken and the source of the emperor's military and financial power was mortally threatened. The conflict between the two legal concepts and the empire's concern for survival explain the extreme bitterness of both sides in the investiture struggle. The undignified attitude of Henry hindered his party from reaching a peaceful compromise. The reform monasteries (e.g., hirsau) vigorously defended the papacy, whereas the bishops, with few exceptions, supported the emperor. Only after numerous defeats on both sides (the deposition of Gregory, the excommunication of Henry and his submission at Canossa) was the struggle provisionally settled in the Concordat of worms (1122). During the conflict both sides had learned to distinguish the secular from the religious elements involved and to assign them their respective officers.
The investiture controversy had thrust the anointed king into the secularized world, even though the age of St. bernard would again show how in practice the papacy and the empire could be harmonized. It is not surprising, therefore, that the Hohenstaufen attempted to trace kingship back to antiquity, whereas the popes continued to cling to the constitutional significance of coronation as performed by them. This opposition, strengthened by the problem of the enduring bond between the Sicilian crown and the empire, caused the controversy between the two supreme powers to flare up once again. In less than a century the struggle reached such uncontrolled dimensions under frederick ii and innocent iv that it could be concluded only by the exhaustion of one of the factions. It ended with the fall of the Hohenstaufen. The dependence of the papacy on France, which followed the victory, strengthened the religious estrangement of the German Empire from the Curia. In the course of the avignon papacy, a double imperial election led to new controversies. During the imperial interregnum, john xxii claimed the right to administer the empire in Italy and to intervene decisively in the controversy over the throne. The victorious louis iv, the Bavarian, was excommunicated and extensive areas of Germany were placed under interdict. As a national reaction grew against the excessive demands of the Curia, the German imperial election was made legally independent of the papacy at the Electoral Diet of Rhense in 1338 (Golden Bull, 1356).
In spite of these controversies between Church and State, the German Church remained strong. Beginning in the Carolingian period, evangelization was vigorously pursued. Christianity spread from Germany into the north, to Denmark, Sweden and Iceland; in the east to the Avars; and especially from Regensburg to the Moravians and Bohemians; from Passau it spread to Hungary; and from Salzburg to the Carentanians (Slovenes). The Diocese of Bamberg, founded by henry ii, oversaw the evangelization of the Wends along the Main and Regnitz. The mission to the Slavs on the Elbe (Wends), whose racial animus and love of freedom constituted great obstacles, was carried out by the Archdiocese of Magdeburg, founded by Otto I, but would not be successful until after the crusade against them in the Hohenstaufen period, when the Dioceses of Merseburg, Naumburg-Zeitz and Meissen were established. Like Havelberg, Brandenburg and Lü beck, founded earlier, these dioceses, too, came under the jurisdiction of Magdeburg. otto of bamberg was occupied with the conversion of the Pomeranians, while the Prussians and Lithuanians were Christianized principally through the efforts of the teutonic knights. Since the Second Crusade, the German rulers led crusades for over a century, and both secular and religious princes participated enthusiastically and in great numbers.
The religious orders in Germany played a significant role in sustaining cultural and religious life. Among the monasteries, the most outstanding were sankt emmeram in Regensburg, corvey, werden and trier. The reforms of gorze and hirsau eventually included almost all the German Benedictine monasteries. The cistercians and the mendicant orders spread quickly throughout Germany. Efforts to reestablish common life among priests led to numerous organizations of canons regular, the best known of which were the premonstratemsians,
founded by norbert of xanten. Cistercians and Premonstratensians earned special recognition for colonizing and developing the north and the northeast. In the north, foundations of canonesses soon surpassed the convents of Benedictine sisters. Throughout Germany the great martial and charitable efforts of the military orders were supported by donations and volunteers. In the flourishing cities, the mendicant orders were intensively active in the care of souls (see dominicans; franciscans). They successfully guided the poverty movement, threatened by heresy and radicalism, back into the fold of the Church (Tertiaries). Thus, along the Rhine and in southern Germany, heretical tendencies were easily contained by preaching and religious instruction. The convents, especially the numerous houses of dominican sisters, became outstanding schools and centers of mysticism. The mendicants succeeded the Benedictines, among whom special mention should be made of notker labeo and hermannus contractus, as the leaders in ecclesiastical learning. albert the great won for the philosophical thought of emerging scholasticism its earliest universal recognition. His circle of students and the Dominican general house of studies at Cologne, where Albert the Great, thomas aquinas and Meister eckhart lectured, gave direction to the new philosophy and theology. From the beginning,
the young universities of paris and bologna attracted German students in great numbers. In 1348 charles v founded the first German university at Prague and within the next two generations six others were established.
As a counterpart to the scholastic summae (see sentences and summae), German artistic skill in adopting Gothic style created magnificent cathedrals and churches, with a wealth of sculpture and brilliant windows. Since the days of the Hohenstaufen, a lay culture developed side by side with clerical education, often outspokenly critical of the Church (e.g., Walter von der Vogelweide).
The Pre-Reformation Crisis. During the westernschism almost all of Germany stood behind the Roman popes. The efforts of Emperor sigismund on behalf of the Council of constance led to the end of division within the Church. The Council of basel was recognized in Germany until 1438, but after a period of neutrality the emperor and the electors gave their support to eugene iv, who, in turn, agreed to at least some of the German demands to limit papal patronage and financial exactions (see gravamina). The Concordat of Vienna (1448) remained in force until the secularization of 1803. In the following decades, emperors and popes frequently shared the same political views. In contrast to France, Germany no longer officially promoted the tenets of conciliarism.
On the other hand, while true reform of the Church was recognized as a necessity, the reform councils proved too weak to carry it out. The concordats with various princes settled only a few of the problems while creating others. The reform programs of outstanding churchmen, such as nicholas of cusa and zealous preachers, such as geiler of kaysersberg, had only local success. After the troops of the hussites had invaded Germany, eschatological and revolutionary ideas were disseminated by pamphlets and even by more substantial works, giving expression to general dissatisfaction with both Church and empire. The princes, as far as it was possible within the limits of their concordats and privileges, carried out reform only if it could be effected in their own name and to the advantage of their dynasty. The papacy, on the other hand, was completely occupied with the urgency of combating the Turks, and spent tremendous sums of money promoting the arts and enhancing its own court. The general weakening of papal authority and the prejudiced attitude toward everything that came from Rome made the efforts of even sincere popes futile. The religious orders undertook to reform themselves, and were at least temporarily successful. Various reforms among the Benedictines (e.g., at bursfeld and melk) and among the mendicant Observants fought against the abuses of proprietorship, disregard of papal enclosure, etc. But the secular clergy, despite their attendance at the new universities, where generally they followed courses only in the arts, lacked thorough education and ecclesiastical training. Concubinage was widespread. The higher clergy, even the bishops, were excessively involved in disputes over property and benefices, were enmeshed in politics, and often led a wholly secular life. Among the people, there was much superstition (witchcraft) and superficial, often exaggerated, piety. Theology, moreover, was preoccupied with controversy between the various schools of thought. nominalism, after its revival, sometimes associated with william of ockham, soon became the vogue. Among its consequences were the destruction of the medieval harmony between faith and reason, and the weakening of the doctrines on grace and the sacrifice of the Mass. These were also instrumental in emphasizing excessively such nonessential practices of the faith as pilgrimages, veneration of relics and indulgences.
In opposition to numerous serious abuses, however, a great, if only superficial upsurge of piety marked the pre-Reformation era. Numerous new churches were built in town and country, and altars, chapels and tabernacles were endowed. Artists, constantly in demand, were unable to fill orders for ecclesiastical sculpture and altarpieces. Foundations of benefices, as well as of votive and anniversary Masses, multiplied. The increase in the number of specific preaching offices bore witness to the hunger for the word of God. The distribution of food, the founding of hospitals, and other charitable works testify to the self-sacrificing fraternal charity of the age, as well as to its concern for personal salvation. The new art of printing produced valuable devotional and catechetical writings, and the Bible was printed in many German translations. Compendia, Biblical commentaries (postillae ) and Bibles for the poor (Biblia pauperum ) also made their appearance, providing religious education for the unlettered. The brethren of the common life devoted themselves to education, especially in more advanced schools, and sought to impart a deep, personal piety (imitation of christ). There was no lack of mystical experience and prayer, if only in the unpretentious garb of personal spirituality. New forms of devotion, such as the rosary and the angelus, spread rapidly, and German hymns were sung with great enthusiasm. Stern dances of death and morality plays were evidence of popular piety, and in the upper class Christian humanists attempted to relate the new scientific ideas to faith and loyalty to the Church. But pre-Reformation piety was altogether too subjective, and, when scandalized by the worldly life of the clergy, gradually led to a deep and insuperable alienation from the Church as a formal institution and from its teachings. The time was ripe for the great catastrophe.
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1500 to 1789
With the ascent of the house of hapsburg at the beginning of the 16th century, Germany, after a long absence, returned to the center of European history during what became known as the confessional period. There she remained until the shift in power effected by the Peace of westphalia (1648) and the Peace of the Pyrenees (1659).
Hapsburg Power. Emperor maximilian i's grandchildren charles v (emperor 1519–58) and ferdinand i (emperor 1558–64) united in themselves the Spanish-Burgundian-Hapsburg inheritance, along with the colonies of the New World. Germany opposed the house of Valois, which, since 1498, had been struggling for supremacy in Italy and had, in sporadic military expeditions, penetrated the western boundary of the Holy Roman Empire. Since 1558 the eastern flank of the empire was exposed to the constant threat of the Moscovite Empire and its expansion toward the sea; it was also threatened by the Turks, who were moving in the direction of Hungary. Within the empire there was need for domestic reform. To achieve this, a supreme court for maintaining public peace (Reichslandfrieden ) and an imperial chamber of justice (Reichskammergericht ) were established in 1495. These measures, together with the formation of Administrative Circles (Kreiseinteilung, 1500 ) and a general reorganization of the empire through changes made by the Peace of augsburg (Reichsexecutionsordnung, 1555 ), were elements in the imperial constitution that kept their essential validity until the end of the Holy Roman Empire in 1806. The ever-increasing power of the territorial state became a dangerous rival for imperial central authority, and its striving for regimentation and particularism weakened imperial control, sometimes completely stifling it.
Need for Religious Reform. The conflicting religious intellectual thought of the period could not be reconciled: along with a strong sense of personal piety— which in itself showed signs of sterility, even forms of degeneration—there were evident, to an alarming extent, incidents of decline in Church life. This was manifested to some extent in the reduced vigor and productivity of theology, as well as in the absence of learning and morality among a not insignificant number of the secular and religious clergy. Strong anti-Roman sentiment in Germany increased when the papacy, under leo x and his successors, steadfastly postponed the thorough Church reform demanded repeatedly by the intellectual class and which the parasite-ridden Curia made impossible. The Gravamina of the German Nation, first formulated in 1458 and repeatedly strengthened at the diets of Augsburg (1518), Worms (1521) and Nuremberg (1522–23), were conveyed with national emotion to large audiences by the German humanists, especially Ulrich von hutten.
Role of Martin Luther. Thus the foundation was laid for an ecclesiastical revolution, which the religious genius of Martin luther introduced according to his theory of subjective justification as he saw it in Pauline theology. As a result, the Protestant reformation became a movement that encompassed Europe. Essentially of a religious nature and scope, the Reformation soon digressed from its original subjective-individualistic elements and led to new confessions, thereby shattering the ecclesiastical unity of the Western Church (see confessions of faith, protestant). It received political assurances and at the same time considerable outside encouragement from the sovereign state, which was ecclesiastically oriented. Luther's friends and benefactors, Frederick the Wise, the Landgrave philip of hesse, Duke Christoph von Württemberg and many other princes, utilized religious strength to expand their territories, for which the confiscation of extensive Church property provided a welcome increase of power. Its popular nature was sacrificed when Luther, in his pamphlet Wider die räuberischen Rotten der Bauern (1525), turned against the peasants, who adopted the principles of the Reformation in order to realize social emancipation. With their defeat in the peasants' war (1524–25) this issue was eliminated as an active factor in the political life of Germany.
In the Summepiscopat (Supreme Protestant Episcopate), where the sovereign was also highest bishop, the Reformation sharply increased the absolutist thinking of the modern state; it created important external prerequisites for the development of the idea of tolerance, which stemmed from different intellectual sources (see church and state). Its strongest influence in Germany was on language, schools and national culture; in the spiritual realm, it liberated numerous intellectual powers, foremost of which was the religious autonomy of the individual's conscience. However, it did not attain its original objective of Church reform, since, on the one hand, wide areas (the Rhine principalities, southern Germany) remained steadfast in their Catholic faith, and, on the other hand, the rejection of the magisterium of the hierarchical Church, resulting from the exaggeration of the Protestant principle of sola scriptura, soon led to division within the reform movements themselves (Ulrich Zwingli, John Calvin) and to a colorful variety of religious enthusiasts (Anabaptists, Socinians, Anti-Trinitarians).
Confessional Debate. The movement that followed in the wake of Luther and Philipp melanchthon split, after Melanchthon's death, into different groups; the succeeding generation of theologians discarded the traces of the dialectic-existentialist theological language of Luther in order to form an alliance with Aristotelian philosophy. This led to the scholastic solidification of doctrine in Lutheran orthodoxy. The formation of a "particular" ecclesiastical system and the doctrinaire isolation of the Reformation from the existing Church only gradually made itself evident, despite the sharp antipapal polemics of Luther—indeed, many people, engulfed by the new religious mainstream, were not at all conscious of any such separation. Consequently, the defensive battle of the Catholic Church was handicapped from the very beginning. The majority of defensive measures taken were halfhearted and indecisive, generally failing in their evaluation of the scope of the revolutionary ideas and often applied with apathy by the bishops. The threat of excommunication for Luther in the bull Exsurge Domine, which Johann eck brought from Rome in 1519, made evident the gravity of the situation, but the means used by the Curia were completely incapable of meeting the adamant demands for ecclesiastical reform. The Curia adopted an anti-Spanish policy and tried to stop the election of Charles V as emperor in deference to the candidacy of Frederick III the Wise, Duke of Saxony (1463–1525), hoping thereby to win his powerful support within Germany. This delayed the process against Luther, and gave the movement a head start of two years (1518–20), which later could not be overcome, either by the Diet of Worms (1521) or by any other measures that were taken.
Imperial Concessions. Initiative in defending Catholicism in the first half of the century lay chiefly with the emperor and the Catholic princes. Whereas the diets referred the religious question to a council or a German national meeting (Nuremberg 1523–24; Speyer 1526), the emperor and Catholic elements attempted to suppress the movement by means of political force (the treaties of Regensburg, 1524, and Dessau, 1525). As a result, political parties were formed among church factions, and evangelical princes gave them life, both in the Torgau (1526) and in the schmalkaldic league (1531). The emperor, isolated from the Empire until 1530 by the French wars, threatened by the Turks, and dependent upon Protestant support, was forced to repeatedly postpone enactment of his policies and grant further concessions. Only after the Treaty of Crépy (1544) did he win a free hand. Following initial successes in the Schmalkaldic War (1546–47), the revolt of Protestant princes, led by Moritz of Saxony, forced him to make further concessions, which, first in the Treaty of Passau (1552) and then in the Religious Peace of Augsburg (1555), led to the recognition of the ecclesiastical status quo and sealed the dualism of the confessions (see interims; protestantism).
Territorial Churches. The fundamental principle that henceforth found common acceptance among German princes (cuius regio, eius religio ) interjected a territorial and materialistic principle into the religious question, allowing them to choose Lutheranism or Catholicism as the religion of their state. This gave only a provisional foundation, one later to be repeatedly shaken by religious wars, to the coexistence of the two confessions. Another aspect of this agreement, that of ecclesiastical reservation (reservatum ecclesiasticum ), should have hindered the progress of the Reformation in that it denied the prince bishop, who wanted to become Protestant, his Reformation rights and forced him to resign; this, however, proved to be an aid for Catholicism only in the Rhine-Main area, in Westphalia and in Bavaria. In northern and central Germany, two archbishops and 15 bishops were lost to the Church; by 1570, approximately seventenths of the population was Protestant. The literary-theological defense of Catholicism in the Reformation was led by polemical theologians, such as Johann Eck, Johannes cochlaeus, Johannes Fabri and Friedrich nausea, but it rarely penetrated the fundamental issues of the Reformation. In general, such polemic was content to assume an air of superiority on the individual issues strongly attacking Catholic doctrine. The unsuccessful religious discussions at Hagenau, Worms and Regensburg (1540–41) could be traced to Charles V, who was aided by Gasparo contarini. Confessional debate had become impotent by the time the Council of trent (1545–63) awakened Catholic thought and introduced reform. There could no longer be a general reform council embracing Christianity; it could only attain the lesser goal of Catholic reform.
Catholic Reawakening. The indefatigable efforts of Jesuits such as Peter canisius, established a bulwark of the old faith in numerous foundations in Germany. Not only was Catholicism saved, but its consciousness was so strengthened that gradually a new spiritual feeling could grow, giving birth to the baroque, the last stage of general European culture. Hand in hand with this inner spiritual reawakening was the movement of the counter reformation, whose strongest political leaders were the Bavarian Dukes Albrecht V (1550–79) and William V (1579–97). In the forceful personalities of Archbishop Jacob von Eltz in Trier (1567–81) and Julius echter von mespelbrunn in Würzburg (1573–1617) appeared a new type of religious sovereign, guided by a reinvigorated ecclesiastical spirit.
Thirty Years' War. Within the empire itself the religious parties expanded. Meanwhile, the new confession, lutheranism, within its political context, was strongly weakened by the third confession, calvinism, which gained ground and made itself politically effective, especially in the Palatinate. Toward the end of the 16th century, the constitution of the empire was rendered powerless. The contradictions in the interconfessional politics led them from confessional treaties (Protestant Union, 1608; Catholic League, 1609) to the calamities of the thirty years' war (1618–48). The latter spread, as a result of Spanish-French rivalry, into a power struggle that engulfed Europe. Although the cultural tradition of Europe was not destroyed in this war, a great social and economic debility was felt during the succeeding decades. The Peace of Westphalia (1648) definitively shifted political emphasis from the Holy Roman Empire to the territories; it supplemented, from the religious-political viewpoint, the Peace of Augsburg to the extent that it gave confessional recognition to the reform religions, which had not been recognized until then, and it abolished the principle that the subjects of territories should continue to be affected by the change of religion of the territorial princes after the key year of 1624.
Secular Absolutism and the Church. The Hapsburg monarchy was faced with two tasks at the outset of the 17th century: to defend itself against the conquest policies of louis xiv in the west, and to defend Europe against the Turks. After the Austro-Hungarian power thrust was temporarily secured by the Peace of Ryswick (1697) and Karlowitz (1699), it suffered a new threat in the War of the Spanish Succession (1701–14). The subsequent relatively short period of tranquility was brought to an end in 1740 by the War of the Austrian Succession, from which Prussia emerged a great power in the Peace of Hubertusburg (1763). The dualism between Catholic Austria and Protestant Prussia determined the course of German politics far into the 19th century. In the age of absolutism, the structure of a unified central state began to take shape in Prussia under Frederich William I and frederick the great, as well as in Austria during the reigns of maria theresa and joseph ii. The enlightenment contributed less toward the intellectual downfall of feudalism in Germany than it did in France and England; it did not turn against Christianity, whose morality it sanctioned, but it did reject its claim on absolute truth (G. lessing, Johann herder). Its concept of the state, which opposed a religious doctrine of an authoritative teaching mission and supreme authority over and above the state, such as in Catholicism, theoretically and practically underscored the state's supreme authority in religious matters. This theory developed, on the Catholic side, in josephinism, a system of state protectorship of the Church that alleviated many Church abuses as a result of state aid and thus cannot be judged wholly negative. The consciousness of the scandal of the Church schism did not escape the best minds of the period. While Gottfried leibniz engaged Jacques bossuet in polemical correspondence, the Franciscan Bishop Cristó bal de Rojas y spÍnola and the Capuchin Dennis of Werl (d. 1709) struggled in the great cause of reconciliation.
The same cause motivated the publications of the Trier auxiliary bishop, Johann Nikolaus von hontheim, who, in order to re-win Christians who had lost their faith, demanded that the Church return to its original state in Christian antiquity. His vague theological position based on his practical, canonical views led to the condemnation of his works, but this by no means resolved the important problems he posed. Episcopalism, a movement that identified itself with the febronianism of hontheim as expressed in the Congress of ems (1786), offers sufficient proof of this. Hontheim's goal was not a national church freed from Rome, but rather the curtailment of papal rights and claims by a reevaluation of the episcopacy. The structure of the German imperial Church, as it again flourished culturally in the 18th century, after the losses of the 16th century, was stamped by the mark of feudalism; the nobility, who comprised the cathedral chapters, again elected the bishop, whom the pope approved. As a conservative element of the constitution of the empire, the prince bishops were strongly favored and protected by the emperor, but nevertheless this did not prevent some of the Rhenish-Westphalian dioceses, which had become refuges for the descendants of Bavarian princes, from carrying on independent anti-imperial politics. Along with their dynastic rise to power, the bishops of the house of Schönborn (Speyer, Mainz, Bamberg, Würzburg) were especially active in cultural matters. The main Catholic contribution in the epoch of the baroque and the rococo lies in decorative art, especially architecture (Vierzehnheiligen, Wieskirche, ottobeuren, St. Paulin in Trier, weingarten). The historical research inspired by the French maurists gained ground in southern Germany and reached its peak in the literary work of Abbot Martin Gerbert of St. Blaise. To what extent the Enlightenment was felt either positively or negatively in the theological realm remained an area debated by scholars.
The Fall of the Empire and Reconstruction: 1789–1900
The severe treatment by the armies of the french revolution, which occupied the left bank of the Rhine until 1798, brought about the collapse of the holy roman empire of the German Nation. The chief beneficiaries in Germany were the lay rulers who had for many years utilized Protestant and enlightenment propaganda to speed the downfall of the ecclesiastical principalities and the secularization of their possessions. In 1803 an enactment of the Imperial Delegation (Reichsdeputationshauptschluss ) caused ecclesiastical principalities and Church property to be seized and given to secular princes, partly as indemnification for the property they had lost to France west of the Rhine. The Archdiocese of Salzburg, the three Rhenish ecclesiastical electorates, 80 abbeys and foundations, and more than 200 monasteries lost their civil independence. More than three million Catholics changed territorial rulers and generally found themselves living in Protestant states. The immediate result for Catholicism was a great loss of political and social influence, which could only be regained slowly by internal renewal. Leadership in the German Confederation, founded in 1815, was assumed by predominantly Protestant Prussia, which had been strengthened by reforms since the struggle against Napoleon for freedom. After successful wars with Denmark (1864) and Austria (1866) under the leadership of bismarck, Prussia established in 1870 the German Empire, in which it was the strongest state.
Protestant Domination of 19th-Century Culture. Of perhaps most serious concern to intellectual German Catholics was the Protestant domination of German cultural life. Until World War I the intellectual accomplishments of Catholics remained on the periphery of the nation's creative activity. The ideas of German idealism, as represented by men like Goethe, Schiller, Hegel, Hölderlin, Schleiermacher and Wilhelm von Humboldt, were very influential in establishing the Weltanschauung of educated Germans, at least in the first half of the 19th century; but they did not penetrate Catholic circles. German Catholic poets and writers of this period, such as Joseph von Eichendorff, Annette von Droste-Hülshoff and Adalbert Stifter, lived in isolation and were little known outside the Catholic ghettos. The philosophically less well-defined thought of romanticism did, however, affect Catholic renewal at the beginning of the 19th century. The proximity of various religious confessions resulted in numerous conversions to Catholicism or in vitalizing tensions that enriched Catholicism. Since Catholic universities and cultural centers of formation were nonexistent during this period, Catholics gathered around well-known personalities or in circles of similarly disposed friends. Thus in Münster the circle of Princess Amalia gallitzin included Bernard overberg, Franz von fÜrstenberg and Friedrich von Stolberg. In Mainz the principal figures in the circle around Bishop Joseph Colmar were the Alsatian theologians Bruno Liebermann, A. Räss and Nikolas Weis. The founding of the Katholik (1821) assured the Mainz Circle of a permanent publication, primarily theological in its orientation, which was influential among Catholics.
In southern Germany the devout and mild pastoral theologian Johann sailer, who was, together with Karl von dalberg, the outstanding personality in the German episcopate of that period, had a wide influence on the care of souls, which was felt long afterward, thanks to his numerous pupils. The Munich Circle (or Round Table), which formed around the highly gifted Joseph von gÖrres, was the most influential of these groups by virtue of the versatility of its members, the originality of their ideas, and their political stance. To it belonged the lay theologian and philosopher Franz von baader, who sought closer relations between the Catholic and Orthodox Churches; the theologian Johann mÖhler; the jurist George phillips; and, above all, the Church historian Johannes Ignaz von dÖllinger, who cultivated international Catholic contacts, especially with England and France and who, as the eminent Catholic scholar in the 1860s, engaged in ecumenical endeavors. During the rule of Louis I (1825–48), Bavaria was a center of Catholic life and saw the revival of Benedictine monasteries. The Historische Politische Blätter, founded in Munich by Joseph and Guido Görres (1837), became the leading publication of the German Catholic press in the 19th century. Its development was especially notable under the direction of Josef jÖrg. Munich had a theology faculty from 1825, and the theology faculty in Tü bingen, established in 1817, took inspiration from Protestant scholarship and flourished under Möhler, Johann hirscher, Heinrich klee, Carl von hefele and Johannes kuhn. The Tü binger Theologische Quartalschrift began publication in 1819.
Ecclesiastical Reorganization. The juridical reorganization of the German Church was a slow process resulting from bilateral agreements with the Roman Curia or from unilateral decrees emanating from Rome or from the German state. Thus, a concordat was concluded with Bavaria in 1817, with Austria in 1855, and with Baden in 1859. Ecclesiastical affairs in Prussia were regulated by the papal circumscription bull De salute animarum (1821) for the ecclesiastical provinces of Cologne and Gnesen-Posen; and in Hanover, by Impensa Romanorum Pontificum (1824), for the Dioceses of Hildesheim and Osnabrück. The bull Provida sollersque (1821) erected the metropolitan see of Freiburg im Breisgau, with Rottenburg, Mainz, Fulda and Limburg as suffragans; it concerned Baden, Hesse, Darmstadt, Württemberg, Kurhessen and Nassau.
In the meeting at Cologne during the mixed marriage controversy (1837), German Catholicism for the first time became conscious of its social and political potential in the life of the nation (see cologne, mixed marriage dispute in). The pilgrimage to the Holy Garment in trier, which attracted a half million pilgrims in 1844, demonstrated a religiously vital Catholicism striving for a political voice in order to break the fetters of state control (Staatskirchentum ). The revolution of 1848, warmly greeted by many Catholics, gave the Church new strength. Catholic representatives in the Frankfurt National Assembly even advocated separation of Church and State, as in Belgium and the United States. Although this goal had to be deferred, the Church was able to attain considerable freedom from state control.
Freedom of the press and freedom of assembly opened to the Church new possibilities of religious activity. In Mainz Catholics took the initiative by founding the Pius Associations (Piusvereine), and, under the leadership of Adam Lennig, strove successfully to unite German Catholics in the Catholic Union of Germany. The first Katholikentag met in Mainz (October 1848); it would become a permanent institution in German Catholic life. The German Bishops Conference in Würzburg (1848) was the first general meeting of German bishops; it would continued to meets in Fulda.
The project of a permanent federation of dioceses on the national level was not successful. Diocesan particularism and distrust in Rome, which was horrified by the term "National Church," destroyed Döllinger's plan, perhaps too advanced for its time. The liturgical and pastoral reforms proposed by Ignaz von wessenberg and the scripturally and theocentrically orientated moral theology of the conciliatory Hirscher unfortunately were rejected. Georg hermes in Bonn and Anton Günther in Vienna sought in vain for points of departure in contemporary philosophical systems in order to overcome disbelief and to arrive at an independent theological understanding of Christian revelation. Hermes was loyal to the Church during life, but after his death his system was condemned by Rome in 1835, and his writings placed on the Index. Günther's work was placed on the Index in 1857. neoscholasticism won recognition in Germany in the latter half of the century under the impulse of the Mainz Katholik, whose editor was Joseph Kleutgen, SJ, and whose most eminent contributor was Matthias scheeben. After mid-century tensions developed between the Roman school, which favored scholasticism, and German theology, whose orientation was predominately historical. This divergence led to a crisis in Vatican Council I, and to the defection of such important Catholic theologians as Döllinger and Franz reusch, and lay professors Friedrich von Schulte and Karl von Cornelius. It also resulted in the schism of the old catholics. Like Deutschkatholizismus, founded a quarter-century earlier by Johann czerski and Johann ronge, the Old Catholic sect never constituted a danger to Church life; yet it led able scholars into a defection the effects of which would be perceptible into the 20th century.
Social and Political Projects. In the social movement the work of Adolf kolping was extremely successful. Bishop Wilhelm von ketteler, who made the public aware of the labor question, became the intellectual inspiration for the guilds of Catholic workers that came into being after 1892. The political organization of German Catholics found a voice after the Catholic center party gained a seat in the Prussian parliament in 1852. This party attained increasing political importance in the parliaments of various states, including, after successful German Empire reunification, Jan. 18, 1871, the Reichstag under the leadership of Ludwig windthorst, Hermann von Mallinckrodt and Ernst Lieber.
The self-consciousness of German Catholicism received a great stimulus from the kulturkampf, which was directed by Otto von Bismarck and Adalbert Falk. The Kulturkampf's objectionable effects, somewhat overdramatized by Catholics, were more often in the intellectual than the practical life of the Church, insofar as Catholicism became more isolated intellectually than before. Directly stimulating this struggle was the concept of the state, which had grown increasingly stronger since the founding of the empire; but in the background, the driving power was liberalism's concept of nationalism, which was a priori suspicious of ultramontane Catholicism, and which considered it a natural enemy of the state following the 1864 publication of the syllabus of errors and the development of the movement favoring a definition of papal primacy and infallibility. Bismarck considered Catholics enemies of the empire, lacking in patriotism. Discrimination against them socially and politically was most apparent at universities and in government administrative circles. Until 1918 Catholics in the higher ranks of imperial officialdom corresponded to less than a tenth of the numerical strength of the Catholic population.
Catholic Intellectual Life during the Second Empire. A way out of this ghetto appeared in 1876 with the founding of the gÖrres-gesellschaft and its goal of the pursuit of learning. Other scholarly accomplishments, primarily by historians such as Johannes Janssen, Ludwig von pastor and Franz kraus, were acclaimed by the public. A second generation of historians succeeded them in the 20th century: Albert ehrhard, Heinrich denifle, Franz ehrle, Heinrich Finke, Gustav Schnürer, Sebastian Merkle and Martin grabmann. Much more difficult was acceptance by the nation's intellectual and literary circles, the leading representatives of which had a negative relationship with Catholicism. A new Catholic literature developed whose literary merit was dubious. Carl muth was the first to bring Catholic culture into a meaningful relationship with Catholic faith by founding Hochland (1903). modernism made slight impression on Catholic Germany, which was still weak as a result of the intellectual losses in the Old Catholic schism. The censuring of the Würzburg theologian Hermann schell (1898), who came to grips passionately with the problem of the Church and progress, did not solve the important problems he confronted.
German Church Enters the Modern World
In 1900 the German Second Empire, which consisted of 25 German states united by Bismark, was now under the rule of Emperor von Büow, an imperialist. Now the greatest industrial power in Europe and hungry for new markets, the Second Empire was viewed with concern by Great Britain and France, who felt their colonial holdings in Africa and elsewhere threatened. Germany's strong political/military alliance with the Austro-Hungarian Empire to its south threatened the balance of power on the continent. In addition, the greatly expanded German navy, now a rival of the formerly invincible British fleet, also gave Germany's European neighbors cause for concern. Against this sense of Germany as a growing menace, the assassination of Austrian Archduke Franz Ferdinand and his wife in Sarajevo on June 28, 1914 would act as a spark on dry, brittle leaves.
Growth of Religious Orders. As Germany grew in economic strength under the Second Empire, so the religious spirit of German Catholicism strengthened also. At the turn of the 20th century this was most evident in the religious orders and societies. The fruits of this revival were reaped by the Jesuits, Redemptorists, Franciscans and Benedictines, as well as newer missionary congregations, such as the Society of the divine word founded in 1875 by Arnold janssen. Among the congregations founded abroad that now flourished in Germany were the Pallottines, Marian Hill Missionaries, Salesians, White Fathers and Sacred Heart Missionaries. Still more remarkable was the growth of congregations of religious women dedicated to education and nursing: the Sisters of Charity of Münster, the Borromeans of Nancy, the Ladies of Loretto, the Gray Sisters, the Vincentian Sisters of Charity and also the congregations founded by Pauline von mallinckrodt, Clara fey and Franziska schervier. Inspiring examples of Christian perfection were given by Clemens von droste zu vischering, St. conrad of parzham and Rupert Mayer, SJ (d. 1945). Peter cahensly, general secretary of the St. Raphael Union, founded in 1871, was tireless in aiding German emigrants, despite great opposition from the state. Numerous secular priests cared for these emigrants and settled with them in North America.
The St. Vincent de Paul conferences were devoted to the practical aid of the poor. The Volksverein in Mün-chen-Gladbach, founded in 1890, undertook the social and political education of German Catholics; it had 850,000 members by 1914, and 380,000 by 1932. Influential social theorists, such as the Jesuits Viktor cathrein and Heinrich Pesch, also appeared; their traditions would be successfully continued on a wider scale by Oswald von Nell-Breuning, SJ, after 1945.
The Rise of Nazi Socialism. After Germany joined the Austro-Hungarian Empire in declaring war on the Allied powers in 1914, German Catholic leaders unwaveringly supported their political and military leaders, putting aside long years of discrimination by the imperial government. After the collapse of 1918, members of the Catholic hierarchy and influential noblemen regretted the fall of the monarchy. During the moderate socialist Weimar Republic (1919–33) the Center party, with 20 percent of the deputies, gained control of the government for the first time, and supplied the chancellors Karl Joseph Wirth (1921–22), Wilhelm Marx (1923–25; 1926–28) and Heinrich Brüning (1930–32). As minister of labor (1920–28), Heinrich Brauns, a Catholic priest, improved social legislation along the lines that the Center party had been advocating since Bismarck's time.
The post-World War I generation was especially receptive to religious values and responsive to the liturgical movement, which centered on Abbot Ildefons herwegen, an energetic promoter, whose organizational center was Maria Laach Abbey. Theodor Haecker, who entered the Church under the influence of newman and kierkegaard, had great influence as a spiritual educator. Karl Adam, Theodor Steinbüchel and F. Tillmann contemplated dogmatic and moral theology from the viewpoint of contemporary problems.
One consequence of Germany's industrialization had been the growing neglect of spirituality and religion among the working classes. The owners of industry, even in predominantly Catholic areas, were primarily Protestant, and industrial cities, while Protestant, became increasingly affected by the drift toward dechristianization. Less affected were the Rhenish and southern German cities, which were predominately Catholic. By the 1930s, with the Weimar economy in chaos as a result of its requirement to pay large war reparations, unemployment rose throughout Germany, and the working classes searched for guidance as poverty tore apart their lives.
Communism and National Socialism filled the intellectual vacuum in these dechristianized circles. National socialism, taking advantage of the misery of the working classes, took control of the government under the leadership of Adolf Hitler (March 1933), who directed the terrorism of an unjust regime for 12 years. Hitler's success in decreasing unemployment and in other domestic policies could hardly disguise the totalitarian character of his regime. The warmongering of the Nazis, revealed in propagandist demands for the revision of the Versailles Treaty, led in 1939 to the catastrophe of World War II. Hitler, once a Catholic, played opportunistic politics with the German Catholic hierarchy; he reserved the definitive solution of the religious question until after the war.
The German bishops incessantly warned against national socialism and threatened Church members with serious ecclesiastical penalties, especially after 1930; but once the Nazis were in power, it became necessary to establish a modus vivendi that would preserve at least the appearance of legality. The hierarchy accordingly accepted the concordat of July 20, 1933 concluded between Pope Pius XI and the National Socialist government (see pius xi), under which the Church could sustain Catholic education and maintain communication with Rome. This agreement was soon violated both overtly and covertly, but it gave the Church during this period of dictatorship a basis for existence. It was, to be sure, a precarious and ever more restricted basis, but it did make possible the Church's continued functioning.
Very frequently the bishops felt obliged to protest the violation of Catholic rights and the ruthless suppression of Catholic organizations. Cardinal Michael von faulhaber, the leading figure in the German episcopate in the first half of the 20th century, protested in his Advent sermons of 1933 against the disparaging of the Old Testament. In 1941 Bishop Clemens von galen of Münster publicly denounced the race legislation, especially the destruction of "useless lives." Urged by the German hierarchy, a dying Pius XI composed the encyclical Mit Brennender Sorge, denouncing Nazi racial theory and other government actions and set it to German priests to be read on Palm Sunday, 1937; meanwhile, bishops Sproll of Rottenburg and Konrad von Preysing of Berlin were expelled from their dioceses in 1938. As the Nazi policies continued, thousands of Catholic laymen and priests would be sentenced to concentration camps or to prisons. Among those put to death were the secular priest Max Metzger (1887–1944) and Alfred Delp, SJ (1907–45). However, the tacit acceptance by many bishops and numerous Catholic laymen of the barbarous Jewish persecution by the National Socialists, especially after Kristallnacht in 1938, revealed, an undeniable moral blindness. Responsibility for this silence can be ascribed to personal factors and to special circumstances in some individual cases, but ultimately it must be sought in the historical roots of Germany's national mythology. In addition, the inability of the newly elected Pope Pius XII to take a firm stand against the German government for fear it would endanger more Jews, frustrated both the All-lied powers and Catholics around the world. When he finally spoke out—in late 1942—his words sounded impotent in the face of the horrors of the Nazi Final Solution. While many felt Pius XII damaged the moral credibility of the Church, historians continued to debate the subject into the next century.
A Country, Church Divided. At the close of World War II, Germany was divided into two regions: the Federal Republic of Germany (West Germany; proclaimed May 23, 1949) and the Soviet-backed German Democratic Republic (East Germany; proclaimed Oct. 7, 1949). With the German capital now in East German territory, the city was divided into East and West Berlin; ultimately political tensions would prompt the building of the Berlin Wall in 1961, which separated families for decades before its destruction in November of 1989. While West Germany hoped for eventual reunification, East Germany gradually declined into a Soviet-backed police state, which continued until popular protest and the fall of the USSR signaled the reunification of the German republic on Oct. 3, 1990. A visit by Pope John Paul II to Germany in 1987 encouraged all Germans to come together, and he was considered to be a major leader in the effort to bring the two Germanys back under one flag.
In the years after 1945, defeated and demoralized by war, West Germany's political and intellectual reorganization depended heavily for support on Christian forces. These were organized in the Christian Democratic Union under Catholic chancellor Konrad Adenauer (1948–63). The Christian Democrats formed the governing party in the republic and in numerous states after 1948. Between the end of World War II and German reunification, West German Catholics participated intensively in the ecumenical movement. Their acceptance of responsibility for underdeveloped countries and peoples was shown by generous Catholic contributions to the works of charity carried on by the organizations Misereor and Adveniat. In intellectual dialogues, Catholic academies, especially the one in Munich, served as discussion and training centers. The Federal Republic retained a Christian government despite trends among the population toward materialism and spiritual indifference.
The situation was much different in East Germany, where Catholics now found themselves living in a communist country with no way to leave. The atheistic communist-controlled government placed great restrictions on Christian life and doomed it to isolation, although fervent Catholics continue to keep the torch of faith lighted. In the 1946 census this so-called Diaspora region was 12.2 percent Catholic and 81.6 percent Protestant, with6.2 percent belonging to other religious groups or to none.
Church Moves into 21st Century. In March of 1990 the first free elections were held in East Germany, with a Christian Democrat winning the vote. While the election results proved immaterial—the region was reclaimed by a united Germany months later—it showed that the conservative Catholic mindset had not been destroyed by more than 40 years of communist oppression. While proceedings were held against those accused of human rights abuses, of more concern to all Germany was the poverty and unemployment of the former East Germany, which had survived on state-controlled industry that no longer existed. Cases of right-wing extremism, sometimes focused against Jews and foreign citizens, followed as Germans grew frustrated with the economic downturn reunification had cost their country. Government efforts to refund the eastern Germany became increasingly successful, and a center-right wing coalition under Christian Democratic leader Helmut Köhl retained control throughout the reunification effort. In elections in 1998 Social Democratic party candidates gained control of the government. In January of 1999 Germany joined together with ten other European Union countries to adopt the euro as their common currency.
While Köhl's government was politically right of center, it supported social policies far more liberal than those advocated by the Church. In April of 1996 the German Catholic Church joined with Lutheran leaders to oppose the practice of Euthanasia by sponsoring a "Week for Life" to attract attention to the growing problem. Even more politically sensitive was the growing debate on birth control, as German Chancelor Köhl made a public statement criticizing the pope's unwillingness to allow artificial birth control. With the unification of Germany, liberal East Germany laws were expanded to permit legal abortions in Germany. Pope John Paul II responded to the changes in German law by ordering Church representatives not to involve themselves in a mandatory abortion counseling program established by the government in 1995 that in essence involved the Church in the legal abortion process through its pro-life counsel. While Catholic bishops upheld the pope' wishes, there were some defectors among the clergy.
When the pope made what would be his third trip to Germany in June of 1996, he received an unpleasant welcome from abortion activists and gay and lesbian groups that opposed many of the Church's social doctrines in support of the family. Between vehement, often ugly vocal protests, red paint was thrown at the pope's vehicle. Visiting the site of the Brandenburg Gate and the Berlin Wall, condoms and paint bombs were thrown at the pope's entourage; despite this he called on listeners to respect human rights around the world. Reflecting on this visit in 2000, the pope noted that Germany, "one of the pillars of the European house," bore a particular responsibility for promoting social and political unity. In a letter to German cardinals, dated March 2001, the pope also expressed concern over the secularization of the German Church, and observed that while Catholicism in Germany "may appear strong on the outside, … [it] has no inner vitality, and has lost credibility in the process."
As a minority religion within a predominately Lutheran nation, the German Catholic Church continued to expand its ecumenical efforts. Such efforts were aided by the work of the Pontifical Council for Christian Unity in October of 1996, when it was announced that after a quarter century of discussion, Catholic and Lutheran leaders had reached a consensus on the question of justification; that justification results from the mercy of God, rather than from good works. Participating as well in the 1996 Council of European Bishops conference, Mainz Archbiship and future Karl Cardinal Lehmann considered Germany's future. "The credo of individualism should not come to mean isolation from the community," Lehmann noted, adding that while democratic governments should value diversity of all kinds, the strength created by a unity among the Christian faiths would create the moral and spiritual foundation required for modern society to flourish. Less successful than works with German Lutherans were the Church's efforts to reconcile with its own Old Catholic schism, which, in May of 1999, in its continued rejection of Catholic doctrine went even further afield by ordaining two women into the priesthood.
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