Restauration Era (1815-1849)
State and Catholic Church

State and Catholic Church

The liberal state, wherever implemented, had insisted on strict separation of state and church, i.e. elimination of church influence on higher education, introduction of civil marriage and divorce (civil registry), and had secularized much of the property of the Catholic Church. The last remnant of the old church, performing the duties of a secular administration as well, the Papal State, was abolished in 1870 when the latter was annexed into the Kingdom of Italy, a liberal constitutional monarchy.
The papacy regarded liberalism as atheistic and condemned it. The pope went so far to forbid practising Catholics in Italy to take jobs in the state administration, to run for office in elections, even to vote in elections.

On the other hand, the states regarded the papacy not only as a backward-oriented institution ('ultramontane'), but also questioned the loyalty of domestic Catholic communities to Rome as questioning national unity. After German Unification, German chancellor Otto von Bismarck, in Prussia's Catholic regions (Rhineland, Westphalia, Upper Silesia, Posen, West Prussia) exercises pressure on the Catholic community in the Kulturkampf (literally : cultural struggle) - he wanted Prussia's Catholics to separate from Rome. The Netherlands in 1870 recalled their embassy from the Vaticano - the Papal State no longer existed. Switzerland in 1874 passed a consttutional reform the nation's Catholic community regarded hostile against them.

Thus there was a conflict between the Papacy / Catholic Church and a number of modern states, each denying to recognize the existence of the other. Yet there were exceptions, most notably Belgium. The country had been created as a liberal, yet Catholic state, separating from the mainly Calvinist Netherlands in 1830. In the early years Belgium had been ruled by the Unionists, i.e. a combination of Catholics and Liberals; later the Catholic and the Liberal Party competed for government.
The Papacy, over time, tacitly accepted the existance of modern states outside Italy and strove to find a modus vivendi with these states. Catholic political parties were founded, the Zentrumspartei (Center Party) in Germany in 1870. It tried to restore some of her influence; a major goal of Catholic policy aimed at the establishment of Catholic universities, the first one being the Catholic University of Mechelen (Malines) in Belgium (1834); it moved to Leuven/Louvain the following year. Further Catholic universities were founded in Fribourg (Switzerland) in 1889/1891 and in Nijmegen/Netherlands in 1923.
Further Concordats were signed with Austria 1855, 1881, with Spain 1851, 1859, with Tuscany 1851, with El Salvador 1862, with Guatemala 1852, with Venezuela 1862, with Ecuador 1851, with Haiti 1860.
In Italy, the Papacy held on to her policy of demanding of practicing Catholics to not participate in the liberal state until 1918-1919 when Don Luigi Sturzo co-founded the Partito Populare Italiano (Italian People's Party).

Article Zentrumspartei, from Wikipedia
Viography of Don Sturzo, from Cronologia, in Italian
Article Kulturkampf, from Catholic Encyclopedia, from Wikipedia
Kulturkampf, from Schweizer Geschichte, in German
Article Concordat, from Catholic Encyclopedia

This page is part of World History at KMLA
First posted on October 30th 2003, last revised on November 16th 2004

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