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1911 Encyclopædia Britannica/Gratry, Auguste Joseph Alphonse

GRATRY, AUGUSTE JOSEPH ALPHONSE (1805-1872), French author and theologian, was born at Lille on the 10th of March 1805. He was educated at the École Polytechnique, Paris, and, after a period of mental struggle which he has described in Souvenirs de ma jeunesse, he was ordained priest in 1832. After a stay at Strassburg as professor of the Petit Séminaire, he was appointed director of the Collège Stanislas in Paris in 1842 and, in 1847, chaplain of the École Normale Supérieure. He became vicar-general of Orleans in 1861, professor of ethics at the Sorbonne in 1862, and, on the death of Barante, a member of the French Academy in 1867, where he occupied the seat formerly held by Voltaire. Together with M. Pététot, curé of Saint Roch, he reconstituted the Oratory of the Immaculate Conception, a society of priests mainly devoted to education. Gratry was one of the principal opponents of the definition of the dogma of papal infallibility, but in this respect he submitted to the authority of the Vatican Council. He died at Montreux in Switzerland on the 6th of February 1872.

His chief works are: De la connaissance de Dieu, opposing Positivism (1855); La Logique (1856); Les Sources, conseils pour la conduite de l’esprit (1861-1862); La Philosophie du credo (1861); Commentaire sur l’évangile de Saint Matthieu (1863); Jésus-Christ, lettres à M. Renan (1864); Les Sophistes et la critique (in controversy with E. Vacherot) (1864); La Morale et la loi de l’histoire, setting forth his social views (1868); Mgr. l’évêque d’Orléans et Mgr. l’archevêque de Malines (1869), containing a clear exposition of the historical arguments against the doctrine of papal infallibility. There is a selection of Gratry’s writings and appreciation of his style by the Abbé Pichot, in Pages choisies des Grands Écrivains series, published by Armand-Colin (1897). See also the critical study by the oratorian A. Chauvin, L’Abbé Gratry (1901); Le Père Gratry (1900), and Les Derniers Jours du Père Gratry et son testament spirituel, (1872), by Cardinal Adolphe Perraud, Gratry’s friend and disciple.