Open main menu

Page:Catholic Encyclopedia, volume 2.djvu/162

This page has been proofread, but needs to be validated.
AUSTRO-HUNGARIAN
AUSTRO-HUNGARIAN
128

and afterwards blessed, from the balcony of the church facing Am Hof, the vast throng which filled the square. But the object of the pope's visit was gained only in part, although it may be said that the Josephinist fanaticism began to give place to a more sober mood. When the Holy Father left Vienna, 22 April, after a stay of just one month, the emperor accompanied him as far as Mariabrunn. Here, after praying in the church, the two parted. The next year the emperor visited Rome, where the Spanish ambassador, Azara, and Cardinal Bernis are said to have had a moderating effect upon him. There was no break with the Curia.

One work of lasting value which this emperor undertook was in connexion with diocesan boundaries. He took from the Diocese of Passau that part which lies in Austria and formed with it the See of Linz; the episcopal residence was transferred from Wiener-Neustadt to St. Polten, Bregenz was made the seat of a vicar-general, and a bishopric was founded at Leoben. The worst blunder committed by Joseph II in his latter years was his obstinate adherence, in spite of the warnings of Cardinal Frankenberg, to the scheme of erecting a general seminary at Louvain. Van Swieten put Stöger in charge of it. Stöger was one of the few Catholic priests who had committed themselves unreservedly to the "Enlightenment" movement. Maria Theresa had dismissed him from his position as teacher of church history, and his opinions were to be found in print in his compendium of church history. The career of Aurelius Fessler is a still more distressing example of the influence of the new spirit. Fessler was born in Hungary and came to Vienna as a Capuchin monk. There he became acquainted with Eybel, and as an offset to Eybel's "Was ist der Papst?" issued "Was ist der Kaiser?" Appointed professor of theology at Lemberg, he entered the Freemason lodge "Phönix zur runden Tafel", but was soon obliged to leave Lemberg "on account of debt and frivolous demeanour unsuited to his calling". He became a Lutheran, established himself in Berlin as legal counsellor in ecclesiastical and school cases, got a divorce in order to marry again, and accepted a professorship in the academy at St. Petersburg. His "Reminischeces of My Seventy Years' Pilgrimage" presents a melancholy picture of long and weary wanderings.

Although the reforms of Joseph II were well-intentioned, yet the independence of the Church suffered detriment through them. His enactments were drafted by Austrian canonists without any previous understanding with the authorities of the Church, and in violation of her rights (jus circa sacra). In many instances the tender germs of religion were killed, and a careless, frivolous way of thinking resulted.

Leopold II, the successor of Joseph II, entered Vienna, 12 March, 1790, and on the 21st of the same month Cardinal Migazzi presented a memorial concerning the painful position of the Austrian Church. As a result, the bishops received an intimation that they were at liberty to point out any serious defects in the existing ecclesiastical conditions. This they did, but, more especially, Cardinal Migazzi enumerated "thirteen grievances and their remedies" in his memorandum. Among these grievances were "the lack of monastic discipline, the general seminaries, the marriage laws, and the Ecclesiastical Commission which had assumed to be the judge of the bishops and their rights". Leopold II virtually suspended the general seminaries, permitted the bishops to have seminaries under their own control, and granted to the monasteries the right to give theological courses. Religious processions were permitted "to a point not far distant" and Saturday evening devotions were also allowed (without Benediction, however), as well as the exposition of relics.

Francis II was a devout and conscientious Christian, and a ruler who wished to be a father to his people. Nevertheless, it was during his reign that what is called the Josephinist system struck firmer roots. In the first place, the struggle with France, which lasted over twenty years, demanded all the energies of the Government, and during this reign both clergy and people grew more accustomed to the Josephinist regulations. But in addition to this Francis II clung with a childlike devotion to the memory of his uncle Joseph II, whom he called his second father. And, furthermore, whenever any concession was made to the Church, the supporters of Josephinism raised an outcry. In 1793, for instance, the Government was informed that in the church of St. Stephen Mass was celebrated simultaneously at several altars, and that in several places, at the afternoon litanies, Benediction was given with the monstrance. A priest had been the informant. After repeated conferences the cardinal obtained permission to have two Masses said at the same time in the church of St. Stephen, but "the Benediction could be given only once at the close of the service". The almost insurmountable difficulty in the way of reform was the ecclesiastical court commission. It was the only means of communication between a bishop and the emperor. Migazzi wished, above everything, to eliminate this difficulty. "I am in all things", he said, "Your Majesty's most dutiful subject. But in his ecclesiastical character the chief shepherd must say boldly that the placing of such fetters upon the guardians of the Church is an offence to all Catholics, and it is a still greater offence that this power is given to men of worldly or untrustworthy reputation, and even to men known to be dangerous or of notorious character." The emperor, indeed, sought to do away with the worst features of the system which had come down to him from his predecessors. He authorized the prayer, the solemn benediction of graves, and the pilgrimages to Mariazell (the first of which, in 1792, was led by Migazzi himself), and the draping of "the poor statues of the Mother of God".

Man cannot at will be stirred to activity or lulled to sleep. However, at the beginning of the nineteenth century a number of circumstances combined to bring about an increase of the religious spirit in Austria. In 1802, the emperor issued two circulars, the first on "the means of elevating the secular clergy" and the second on "the means of improving the regular clergy". To remedy the lack of priests, the first order increased the number of gymnasia, directed the establishment of a theological training school, with a seminary attached, for each diocese, and granted stipends to divinity students. Ecclesiastics belonging to an order were to wear the habit of their order, and must not live alone; a profession might be made in the twenty-first year, instead of the twenty-fifth. Soon after this the emperor transferred to the bishops the supervision of religious instruction (1808) and the censorship of thelogical works (1814). Repeated commands to officials required them to attend Sunday church-services. A university service, with a university preacher, was founded for university students. Two days before his death the emperor directed his successor to "complete the work he had begun of rectifying those laws, principles, and methods of managing church affairs which had been introduced since 1780".

The Archbishops of Vienna acted in a manner worthy of their high office. Migazzi's successor, in 1803, was Sigismund Anton Count Hohenwarth, the instructor of the emperor, and a pastor zealous