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9-08-2015, 17:58

Church and state in Catholicism

Within Catholicism, the relationship between church and state in the development of a rigid system of belief was somewhat different than in Protestant countries, as the pope was both the head of a “state” – a political unit stretching across central Italy – and the universal head of the Roman Catholic Church. In the middle of the sixteenth century, the Council of Trent affi rmed the power of the papacy, and late-sixteenth-century popes created a strong bureaucracy and centralized institutions that paralleled, and in some cases served as a model for, those developing in nation-states. By the late seventeenth century, this consolidation of papal authority increasingly confl icted with the power of both local bishops and secular rulers. Spanish monarchs controlled church appointments, limited papal tax collection, reserved the right to approve papal bulls before they could be published, and directed the Spanish Inquisition. The Inquisition was successful at combating any sign of heresy at the Spanish universities, but this also stamped out any free inquiry, and Spanish universities languished. Despite the Council of Trent’s call for improvements in clerical education, most priests in Spain had little opportunity to obtain more than rudimentary training. Spain had more priests and monks as a percentage of the population than any other Catholic country, but most of them were not interested in intellectual pursuits. Monarchs also increased their control over the Catholic Church in France. As we traced in chapter 9 , Louis XIV, seeking to make his realm more uniform, gradually made it more diffi cult to be a Huguenot. In 1685, these repressive policies culminated in the revocation of the Edict of Nantes, and thousands of Huguenots fl ed. Louis hoped this would also be a way of demonstrating his Catholic loyalty to the pope, for in other ways he was taking measures to limit papal power. These built on a long-standing tradition of hostility to papal authority within the French church, called “Gallicanism,” that began when the papacy moved to Avignon in southern France in the fourteenth century. During the Avignonese papacy, all the popes were French, but when the papacy returned to Italy, almost all the popes were Italian. By the time of Louis XIV, all the popes had been Italian for more than a century – and would continue to be so until the election of John Paul II in 1978 – and the king and many of the French clergy saw the pope primarily as an Italian prince, not the leader of an international church. The French church refused to accept any of the decrees of the Council of Trent that dealt with church–state relations, and in the seventeenth century the French bishops declared that they were superior to the pope when they met in a council. They largely supported the king in his declaration that he did not have to submit to papal authority in ecclesiastical matters. The popes objected, but they could do nothing about the growing royal infl uence on church personnel, or state involvement in matters that had previously been the province of the church, such as education and marriage. The clergy and the monarchs in France did not always agree about how and why papal power should be limited, however, and theological issues were closely interwoven with political concerns. As was true throughout Catholic Europe, the French clergy were very diverse, ranging from bishops and archbishops who were nobles down to very poor parish priests. The church owned a huge amount of land, none of which was taxed, so that high church offi cials were economically independent of the crown, but parish clergy were totally controlled by their bishops. During the seventeenth century, increasing numbers of people began to feel that the church hierarchy was too focused on monetary concerns and the outward observance of ritual. They called for spiritual regeneration, ethical earnestness, and deep piety, taking the name for their movement from Cornelius Jansen (1585–1638), the bishop of Ypres in the Spanish Netherlands. Particularly in his posthumously published work Augustinus (1642), Jansen advocated greater personal holiness, lay reading of and meditation on Scripture, lay participation in church services, and scrupulous attention to morality. Jansenism won converts among middle-class townspeople, intellectuals, rural clergy, and even a few convents and members of the nobility. Its most famous follower was the mathematician Blaise Pascal (1623–62) who became convinced that philosophical reasoning was not suffi - cient to understand God. Jansenist ideas led to attacks on the Jesuits, some of whom had developed a system of penance they termed “probabilism,” which held people were free to follow their own consciences if they had any moral doubts about an action. No confessor could judge something invariably a mortal sin or refuse to grant absolution, which made probabilists popular confessors and confession an increasingly frequent and important part of people’s religious lives. By contrast, Jansenists held to infl exible moral principles, and suggested people confess and take communion less frequently, thus reducing the role of confessors and other clergy over their congregations. Two papal bulls in 1653 and 1656 condemned some of the ideas contained in Augustinus , and in 1661 Louis XIV ordered all members of the French church to sign a statement indicating their adherence to the bulls. Many refused, including the nuns at the convent of Port-Royal, which, under the leadership of abbess Angélique Arnauld (1591–1661), had become the spiritual center of Jansenism in France, renowned for its piety and discipline. A truce with the papacy quieted the debate for several decades, but in 1705 the Port-Royal nuns were ordered to accept another anti-Jansenist papal bull. They again refused, and in 1709 Louis XIV demolished the convent and banished the nuns to other houses. The writings of the Port-Royal nuns became part of a body of Jansenist literature that continued to circulate, and the fi ght over Jansenism continued. Though some Jansenist priests fl ed France, Jansenist laity continued to hold underground prayer meetings. Jansenism continued to shape the religious life of many men and women in France, encouraging them not only to become literate but to become frequent readers, and to develop their children’s spiritual lives through family devotions. Salvation was not something to be left in the hands of the clergy, but to be sought through personal piety and prayer, an idea that spread among many Catholics outside France as well. In 1713 Pope Clement XI condemned the main ideas of Jansenism again in the bull Unigenitus , which led to a schismatic Catholic church being founded in Utrecht. The French church continued to debate theological issues raised by Jansenism, and the proper level of papal power, right up to the Revolution. Along with Jansenism, what came to be known as Quietism also led to controversy within Catholicism. Quietism was based on the ideas of the Spanish theologian Miguel de Molinos ( 1628–96), whose Spiritual Guide (1675) advocated losing one’s individual soul in God, reaching inner peace through prayer and pure disinterested love of God. Any visible religious activity, including attendance at services or even ascetic discipline, took one away from this passive contemplation. Molinos was arrested by the Inquisition, which argued that his teachings were leading people to neglect morality and reject the authority of the church. At his trial, Molinos refused to defend himself, which his followers interpreted as Quietism in action and his opponents as a sign of his guilt. The pope decided not to make a martyr out of Molinos, and imprisoned him for the rest of his life instead of executing him. Confl icts about church and state also emerged in German- speaking Catholic areas. There was no unifi ed German state to oppose the power of the papacy, but several German theologians wrote works that built on Gallican ideas. In 1763, the auxiliary bishop of Trier, Nikolaus von Hontheim (1701–90), writing under the pen name “Justinus Febronius,” attacked the papacy and called for a conciliar church structure and a stronger role for the secular ruler in church affairs. Febronianism was condemned by the pope, but won support in Germany, where both Catholic secular territorial rulers and princebishops, modeling themselves on Louis XIV, sought to restrict the power of the pope in their domains. In Austria, the Habsburg rulers remained Catholic, but felt they had the responsibility to oversee all aspects of religion. The church, in their view, was simply one arm of government, there to assist rulers improve the lives of their subjects, but not to play an independent role. Joseph II issued an Edict on Idle Institutions (1780), closing hundreds of monasteries and using their property to provide better incomes for rural priests, state-controlled seminaries, and more secular schools. The following year he issued an edict of religious toleration for Protestants and Jews, and later called for civil marriages and funerals. These policies of limiting the economic and cultural power of the Catholic Church are often called “Josephinism,” with Joseph commenting at one point that he viewed service to God as the same as service to the state.

SOURCE 30 Madame Guyon on prayer

The emphasis on interior piety and contemplation advocated by Miguel de Molinos spread to France, where Jeanne-Marie Bouvier de la Mothe Guyon (1647–1717) became the center of a group of intensely religious individuals, several of whom were mystics. Madame Guyon felt herself called to spread this mystical method of turning inward, and in 1685 published A Short and Easy Method of Prayer . What a dreadful delusion hath prevailed over the greater part of mankind, in supposing that they are not called to a state of prayer! whereas all are capable of prayer, and are called thereto, as all are called to and are capable of salvation. Prayer is the application of the heart to God, and the internal exercise of love. S. Paul hath enjoined us to “pray without ceasing” (1 Thess. v 17), and our Lord saith, “I say unto you all, watch and pray” (Mark xiii. 33, 37): all therefore may, and all ought to practice prayer… You must then learn a species of prayer, which may be exercised at all times; which doth not obstruct outward employments; and which may be equally practiced by princes, kings, prelates, priests and magistrates, soldiers and children, tradesmen, labourers, women and sick persons: it cannot, therefore, be the prayer of the head, but of the heart; not a prayer of the understanding alone, which is so limited in its operations that it can have but one object at one time; but the prayer of the heart is not interrupted by the exercises of reason… Those who have not learnt to read, are not, on that account, excluded from prayer; for the Great Book which teacheth all things, and which is legible as well internally as externally, is Jesus Christ Himself… The method they should practice is this: They should fi rst learn this fundamental truth, that “the kingdom of God is within them” (Luke xvii. 21), and that it is there, only it must be sought. They should then repeat the Lord’s Prayer in their native tongue, pondering a little upon the meaning of the words, and the infi nite willingness of that God Who dwells within them, to become, indeed, their Father. In this state let them pour out their wants before Him; and when they have pronounced the endearing word, Father, remain a few moments in a respectful silence, waiting to have the will of this their heavenly Father made manifest unto them… If they feel an inclination to peace and silence, let them discontinue the words of the prayer so long as this sensation holds; and when it subsides, go on with the second petition, “Thy will be done on earth, as it is in heaven!” upon which these humble supplicants must beseech God to accomplish, in them, and by them, all His will; and must surrender their hearts and freedom into His hands, to be disposed of as He pleaseth. And fi nding that the best employment of the will is to love, they should desire to love God with all their strength, and implore Him for His pure love; but all this sweetly and peacefully: and so of the rest of the prayer, in which the Clergy may instruct them. But they should not overburden themselves with frequent repetitions of set forms or studied prayers (Matt. vi. 7); for the Lord’s Prayer, once repeated as I have just described, will produce abundant fruit. Madame Guyon’s ideas attracted women and men, including high church offi cials such as archbishop of Cambrai François Fénelon (1651– 1715), who wrote that he had learned more from her than from any theologian. She was imprisoned several times and Fénelon was silenced and exiled from Paris on the orders of Bishop Bossuet, the most powerful cleric in France. Bossuet was particularly incensed about her ideas that everyone’s prayers were equally valuable and that external forms did not matter; if such ideas spread further, wrote Bossuet, they would lead to an intolerable lack of respect for authority. After Madame Guyon died, her writings were translated and printed in the Netherlands and England; in translation they became popular with Methodists in Britain and North America. They are widely available in paperback versions and on-line today, advertised for their guidance in prayer and spirituality, not as historical documents. Though in the later seventeenth and early eighteenth century the Jesuits were successful in persuading both the papacy and the French monarchy to condemn Jansenism, by the middle of the eighteenth century the Jesuits were increasingly seen as reactionary and obscurantist. “Enlightened” Catholic rulers resented their autonomy. Education became one fl ashpoint. In the sixteenth and seventeenth centuries, Jesuit schools were the best in Europe, and extremely effective tools in the Catholic Reformation, but by the eighteenth century they had declined, and the education they offered was viewed as antiquated. Jesuit interference in the exploitation of indigenous peoples by colonial powers, and the acceptance of non-European rituals by Jesuit missionaries, also provoked controversy. Reports of native converts continuing to wear Brahmin insignia in India or bowing to ancestral shrines in China led members of other orders (and some Jesuits themselves) to claim that Jesuits were promoting a watered-down understanding of the Catholic faith. Diplomacy was a third area of confl ict, with Jesuit confessors and envoys accused of diplomatic intrigue, or of being agents for internationalism at a time of growing nationalism. A fourth line of criticism was economic, for like all church bodies, Jesuits paid no taxes, despite huge wealth. Anti-Jesuit propaganda fueled this opposition, dragging up old issues and accusing the Jesuits of being behind the regicide of King Henry IV of France in 1610. All these problems led secular rulers in Europe to suppress the Jesuits – Portugal led the way in 1759, with France following in 1764 and Spain in 1767. Rulers pushed for the election of a pope who agreed with them or would bend to their will, and Clement XIV ( pontifi cate 1769–1774) was elected. He universally suppressed the order in 1773, ostensibly for colluding with the French king, supporting probabilism and the power of free will, and participating in ancestor worship in China. The suppression of the Jesuits was not effective everywhere. Jesuits in the Russian part of Poland were protected by Catherine the Great, and a novitiate and headquarters survived there. The effects of the disbanding of the Jesuits were felt immediately in education and missionary work, however. Pope Pius VII lifted the ban in 1814, but this did not reverse the declining infl uence of the papacy in most Catholic countries since the days of the Council of Trent.

 

 

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