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 1710–1712)]. On the other hand—this is the major difference with the Roman schools—there 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 forms—a 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.
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[j. m. gres-gayer]
"Ultramontanism." New Catholic Encyclopedia. . Encyclopedia.com. (August 20, 2018). http://www.encyclopedia.com/religion/encyclopedias-almanacs-transcripts-and-maps/ultramontanism
"Ultramontanism." New Catholic Encyclopedia. . Retrieved August 20, 2018 from Encyclopedia.com: http://www.encyclopedia.com/religion/encyclopedias-almanacs-transcripts-and-maps/ultramontanism