The Vatican Council was summoned by Pius IX. It met 8 December, 1869, and lasted till 18 July, 1870, when it was adjourned; it is still (1908) unfinished. There were present 6 archbishop-princes, 49 cardinals, 11 patriarchs, 680 archbishops and bishops, 28 abbots, 29 generals of orders, in all 803. Besides important canons relating to the Faith and the constitution of the Church, the council decreed the infallibility of the pope when speaking ex cathedra, i.e. when as shepherd and teacher of all Christians, he defines a doctrine concerning faith or morals to be held by the whole Church.Preview This Lesson
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Eighty-six general meetings (Congregationes Generales) and four General Sessions were held during the First Vatican Council. Forty-six meetings dealt with the Constitution on Faith with the final documents proclaimed during the Third Session. The Constitution on the Church of Christ was discussed during forty meetings with the final vote during the Fourth Session. Each meeting was about four hours long.
However, in a sense, the Council started even before December 8, 1869. During preliminary discussions, several Bishops had suggested to the Holy Father that a Council would be good time to announce the doctrine of infallibility. On February 6, 1869, an article in the Civilta Cattolica, a Jesuit journal, reported that the Council had two objectives — to formally condemn the errors listed in the Syllabus and to proclaim papal infallibility. Some German writers took this chance to spread alarmist views:
In a word, the absolute dominion of the Church over the State will next year come into force as a principle of Catholic faith….In conscience, every Catholic is bound to be guided, in the first instance, in political and social questions, by the directions or known will of his supreme lord and master the Pope, and of course, in the event of a conflict between his own Government and the Papal, to side with the latter. No Government therefore can hereafter count on the loyalty and obedience of its Catholic subjects, unless its measures and acts are such as to secure the sanction, or agreement of the Pope.
from Letters from Rome on the Council, by Johann Joseph Ignaz von Dollinger, reprinted from the Allgemeine Zeiting, Rivingtons: London, Oxford and Cambridge, 1870, pg. 5-6
Chlodwig Carl Viktor, Prince of Hohenlohe and Prime Minister of Bavaria, was so concerned that he circulated a letter to the European rulers suggesting that they should insist upon a voice at the Council. This idea was not acted upon fortunately but the delegates arriving at the Council would have known of the turmoil surrounding the subject of papal infallibility.
Yet, the delegates persevered. The doctrine of infallibility was not even an agenda item when the Council started. Seeing this lack, 450 Fathers in the Council sent a petition to the Commission of Postulates to include the doctrine in the discussions. At about the same time, 100 Fathers sent a petition asking that the doctrine not be in included in the Council.
The wish of the majority was granted and the question of papal inf... Please purchase this lesson to continue learning.
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