As the appeals of individual bishops and dioceses had little effect, the minister of the interior, Count Stadion, summoned the Austrian bishops to Vienna in order to obtain a unanimous expression of their wishes. Hungary and the Lombardo-Venetian provinces were not included, as they were not yet pacified. This first conference of the Austrian bishops met, 29 April to 20 June, 1849, in the archiepiscopal palace. Sixty sittings were held. Schwarzenberg, the "German cardinal", presided, and the lately consecrated Bishop Rauscher was secretary. Hungary was represented by the Bishop of Pécs, Scitvosky. Among the theologians were Court Councillor Zenner, of Vienna; Professor Kutschker, of Olmütz; Canon Tarnoczy, of Salzburg; Canon Wiery, of Lavant; Professor Fessler, of Brixen; Canon Jablinsky, of Tarnow; and Canon Ranolder of Pécs. The voluminous memorials presented to the Government by the conference discussed marriage, the endowment funds for religion, school, and student-stipends, livings and endowments for church-services, instruction, the administration of the church, ecclesiastical offices and church services, monastic houses, ecclesiastical jurisdiction. In the resolutions, which cover 207 paragraphs, the bishops marked out for themselves a common course of action. The resolutions of this first confrence of the bishops of Austria were the foundation on which the new structure of the Austrian Church has been built. Before the close of the conference an episcopal committee of five members was formed to press the settlement of the memorials, and to protect the interests of the Church. The chairman of the committee was Cardinal Schwarzenberg, the secretary was Prince-Bishop Rauscher of Seckau. Count Leo Thun, Minister of Instruction, presented the matter at last to His Majesty at two audiences, and the important imperial decrees of 18 and 23 April, 1850, were the results of these interviews. The first ordinance defined the relations of the Catholic Church to the State: Catholics "are at liberty to apply in spiritual matters to the pope"; bishops might issue regulations in matters pertaining to their office without previous permission from state officials; ecclesiastical authorities were allowed to order church punishments; careless administrators of church offices could be suspended. The ordinance of 23 April defined the relations of the Church to public instruction: teachers of religion and theological professors could not be appointed without the consent of the bishop, who could at any time withdraw his ratification; the bishop named one-half of the examining committee at theological examinations; a candidate for a theological doctorate had to subscribe to the Tridentine Confession of Faith in the presence of the bishop before obtaining his degree.
On the 14th of September, 1852, the Emperor Francis Joseph empowered Prince-Bishop Rauscher to act as his representative in drawing up a Concordat, and Pope Pius IX named as his representative, Viale Prelá, the papal nuncio in Vienna. In important questions Rauscher was to consult with the committee on the Church. This committee was composed of Thun, Minister of Instruction; Buol Schauenstein, Minister of Foreign Affairs; Bach, Minister of the Interior; R. von Salvotti, Member of the Imperial Diet; and Freiherr von Kübeck, President of the Imperial Diet. The results of the conferences were to be laid from time to time before the emperor for decision. The negotiations advanced very slowly. The Hungarian bishops presented special desideria (requests), the Patriarch of Venice presented postulata et desideria (demands and requests). In order to expedite matters, Rauscher spent seven consecutive months in Rome, busied with negotiations. The Concordat was at last signed on the emperor's birthday, 1855. It contains 36 articles. Arts. 5-8 regulate instruction: "All school instruction of Catholic children must be in accordance with the teachings of the Catholic Church; the bishops are to have charge of religious training; professors of theology are to be chosen from men whom the bishop holds to be most suited to the position; only Catholics shall be appointed professors in the gymnasia [middle schools] set aside for Catholic children; the bishops are to select the religious text-books". The bishops have the right to condemn books injurious to religion and morals, and to forbid Catholics reading them (Art. 8). The ecclesiastical judge decides matrimonial suits of an ecclesiastical character (Art. 10). The Holy See does not forbid ecclesiastics who have committed misdemeanours and crimes to be brought before the secular courts (Art. 14). The emperor, in exercising the Apostolic prerogative inherited from his ancestors, of nominating the bishops to be canonically confirmed by the Holy See, will in the future, as in the past, avail himself of the advice of the bishops, especially of the bishops of the archdiocese in which the vacant see lies (Art. 19). In all metropolitan churches the Holy Father appoints the highest dignitary. The emperor still appoints all other dignitaries and the canons of the cathedral (Art. 22). The Holy Father empowers the emperor and his successors to present to all canonries and parishes where the right of patronage is derived from the endowment fund for religious or educational foundations, but in such cases the appointee must be one of three candidates nominated by the bishop as suitable for the position (Art. 25). The bishops have the right to bring religious orders into their dioceses (Art. 28). The estates which form the endowment fund for religious and educational foundations are the property of the Church and are managed in its name, the bishops having the supervision of affairs; the emperor is to aid in making up what is lacking in the fund (Art. 31).
The Concordat was intended to be binding upon the entire monarchy, and to be carried out with uniformity in all parts. Thun, therefore, in the emperor's name, called the bishops of the entire empire to Vienna. On the 6th of April, 1856, the inhabitants of the imperial city saw 66 princes of the Church enter the Cathedral of St. Stephen in state. These ecclesiastics represented the Latin, Greek, and Oriental Rites; among them were German, Hungarian, Italian, and Polish bishops. The procession was closed by pro-nuncio, Cardinal Viale Prelá. The assembly presented to the Government proposals, requests, and resolutions concerning schools, marriage, church estates, appointment to ecclesiastical benefices, monasteries, patronage of livings. The closing session was held 17 June. The emperor received the bishops in a farewell audience. On the occasion Cardinal Schwarzenberg said: "After God, our hope and trust rest on Your Majesty's piety, wisdom, and justice. When we have reached our dioceses we shall strive most zealously to extend the benefits of the agreement in all directions". In order to make the Concordat effectual, the bishops held synods in their dioceses: at Gran, 1858; Vienna, 1858; Prague, 1860; Kalocsa, 1863. Fresh life showed itself everywhere. It is now acknowledged that schools of all grades accomplished great things under the Concordat. The primary schools were excellently arranged, a course of study which is still in force was drawn up for the gymnasia, and the University of Vienna gained a world wide reputation under Thun, the author of the Concordat. In 1855 the Institute for Research in Austrian history was formed. Famous members of the medical faculty of the university were the professors: Skodra (percussion and auscultation); Rokitansky (pathological anatomy); Oppolzer; Hebra; Stellwag; Hyrtl; Brücke, and Billroth, the last named being the leading sur-