State Interference in Church Affairs

On Catholic countries, the (Catholic) Church had, during the Era of Reformation and Counterreformatioin, had, by and large, managed to hold on to her vast estates, the revenues of which were used for a multitude of purposes. It had remained state church and had held on to a certain degree of social control, mainly in the areas of education, marriage etc.
The establishment of the Gallican Church in France in 1682 established the autonomy of the Catholic Church of France; in 1786 the Holy Roman Empire and Tuscany claimed similar status.
In the 1750es the Jesuit Order came under immense political pressure in Portugal and the lands of the Bourbon Dynasties; it was soon banned from their countries and in 1773 completely dissolved, her wide possessions confiscated, the possessions in Europe, in most cases, used to finance modern institutions of education.

The introduction of Religious Tolerance formally did nod alter the status of the Catholic Church as state church, but indicated that her position in society had been weakened, no longer capable of enforcing herself on the entire populace.
This concept of the state confiscating church property/revenue and rededicating it to support modern institutions was taken up and continued by Emperor Joseph II. (1780-1790). He closed down hundreds of monasteries of contemplative orders.
In Austria, Joseph was concerned about divided loyalty of Catholic priests. In order to ensure their loyalty to the dynasty and state, he interfered in the education of priests, by establishing state-control over PRIEST SEMINARIES. The diocesis of Passau - the Bishop a territorial prince in his own right - included large stretches of Austrian territory. This, Joseph II. did not tolerate, and he appointed a bishop of Linz (1793); the pope in 1785 formally established the diocesis of Linz .
Joseph II.'s decision to replace Latin as language of administration, education and jurisdiction may also be regarded as part of his policy to reduce the influence of the church. The seminaries were fora for the development of the vernacular languages into writtem languages, for instance in the case of the Slovak language.

Geschichte des Priesterseminars Brixen, from Seminarium Brixinensa, in German
Geschichte des Bistums Linz, from Katholische Universitaet Linz, in German
History of the Seminary, at the Charles University, Prague

This page is part of World History at KMLA
First posted on September 20th 2003, last revised on November 14th 2004

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