Bismarck and Leo XIII

The following is adapted from the Oxford Dictionary of the Christian Church

KULTURKAMPF. The repressive political movement in Germany in the 1870s against the RC Church. It was mainly inspired by Bismarck, who feared that the influence of Catholicism would endanger the unity of the German Empire.

In its earlier years the conflict was very bitter, provoked chiefly by the anti-Catholic legislation. In 1871 Bismarck suppressed the Catholic department of the Prussian Ministry of Public Worship, and in 1872 appointed P. L. A. Falk Minister of Public Worship, under whose aegis the Jesuits were expelled, education was brought under the control of the state, and the famous ‘May Laws’ (1873) were passed. The opposition to this legislation was very strong, and several Catholic bishops, including Cardinal M. H. von Ledóchowski of Gnesen-Posen and K. Martin of Paderborn, were imprisoned. The German embassy at the Vatican was also recalled, and owing to the condemnatory tenor of the encyclical ‘Quod nunquam’ (7 Feb. 1875) the RC Church was deprived of all financial assistance from the state. Further, the religious orders were ordered to leave the country.

Bismarck, however, had misunderstood the extent and strength of the opposition, and gradually became convinced that a concordat with the Vatican was the better solution. He also hoped by a change of tactics to gain the aid of the Catholic Church in the fight against Social Democracy. Hence at the end of the ’70s the previous policy was reversed and peace was made with the new Pope, Leo XIII. By 1887 most of the anti-Catholic laws, with the exception of that expelling the Jesuits, had been nullified. The Kulturkampf had the undesigned effect of creating in some measure a religious revival inside Germany. It certainly strengthened the hold of Roman Catholicism on the German people in the latter years of the 19th cent.

A. Constabel (ed.), Die Vorgeschichte des Kulturkampfes: Quellenveröffentlichung aus dem Deutschen Zentralarchiv (1956). Substantial works incl. J. B. Kissling, Geschichte des Kulturkampfs im Deutschen Reich (3 vols., 1911–16); G. Goyau, Bismarck et l’Église: Le Culturkampf, 1870–1878 (4 vols., 1911–13); G. Franz, Kulturkampf: Staat und katholische Kirche in Mitteleuropa von der Säkularisation bis zum Abschluss des Preussischen Kulturkampfes (Munich [1954]); and E. Schmidt-Volkmar, Der Kulturkampf in Deutschland 1871–1890 (Göttingen, 1962). M. L. Anderson, Windhorst (Oxford, 1981), pp. 130–200 passim; id., ‘The Kulturkampf and the Course of German History’, Central Church History, 19 (1986), pp. 82–115, with further refs. L. Gall, Bismarck: Der weisse Revolutionär (Frankfurt am Main, 1980), esp. pp. 459–502; Eng. tr., 2 (1986), pp. 1–39. R. J. Ross, The Failure of Bismarck’s Kulturkampf: Catholicism and State Power in Imperial Germany, 1871–1887 (Washington, DC [1998]). G. Besier in TRE 20 (1990), cols. 209–30, s.v., with bibl. See also works cited under falk, p. l. a.





St. Toribio Gonzalez
 Martyr of the Cristeros Wars

The Following is adapted from: The Oxford Dictionary of the Christian Church, ed. Cross, Livingstone; (OUP, 1983).

CRISTERO WAR (REBELLION). The pre-Spanish Aztec empire of Mexico appears to have had vague traditions of biblical and Christian ideas, but their source cannot be traced. But within five years of the first Spanish invasion (1519) Franciscan and other missionaries arrived. Conversions were numerous, though not always entirely voluntary, and Mexican Christians have, from the first, kept much of the old paganism under an outward profession of Christianity. From the 16th to the mid-20th cent., hardly any Christians of other denominations entered the country to challenge the prevailing Roman Catholicism.

Mexican independence was won in 1821 after a decade of war with Spain but, despite the many fundamental changes which then occurred, the Church’s influence in political, social, and esp. financial affairs remained exceptionally strong. For more than 30 years liberals struggled to reduce clerical power, but it was not until the mid-19th-cent. reform, led by President Benito Juárez, that

Church and State were separated,

all ecclesiastical property nationalized,

and the process of secularization of the clerical colonial society really began.

After the 1910 Mexican Revolution, the 1917 Constitution, which still prevails, incorporated much of the Juárez anticlerical legislation.

The Church was again banned from owning land or mortgages,

Church schools were closed,

the number of priests was strictly regulated,

and the Juárez suppression of all religious orders was reaffirmed.

 These measures were not strictly enforced until 1926 when the so-called Cristero rebellion began and the last major conflict between Church and State took place. The intransigence of both sides resulted in

the closing of churches,

the deportation of bishops,

and considerable bloodshed among both clergy and laity.

By 1929 a compromise was reached: although from time to time there were serious disagreements between Church and State, by and large a modus vivendi was achieved whereby, provided the Church accepted the supremacy of the State and did not intervene in politics, the restrictive measures in the constitution were not all rigidly enforced. The accession to power of Carlos Salinas de Gortari in 1988 marked the beginning of a rapprochement between the Church and State. In 1992 amendments to the constitution

recognized Churches of all denominations as legal entities,

with the right to hold property,

and legalized the presence of foreign clergy,

removing a number of restrictions. In the same year diplomatic relations between Mexico and the Vatican were restored.

M. Cuevas, Historia de la Iglesia en México (5 vols., Tlalpam, 1921–8). C. Alvear Acevedo, La iglesia en la historia de México (Mexico, 1975). C. S. Braden, Religious Aspects of the Conquest of Mexico (Durham, NC, 1930). P. Ricard, La ‘Conquête spirituelle’ du Mexique: Essai sur l’apostolat et les méthodes missionnaires des ordres mendiants en Nouvelle-Espagne de 1523 à 1572 (thesis, Paris, 1933; Eng. tr., Berkeley, Calif., 1966). W. B. Taylor, Magistrates of the Sacred: Priests and Parishioners in Eighteenth-Century Mexico (Stanford, Calif., 1996). N. Farriss, Crown and Clergy in Colonial Mexico, 1759–1821: The Crisis of Ecclesiastical Privilege (1968). W. H. Callcott, Church and State in Mexico, 1822–1857 (Durham, NC [1926]). M. P. Costeloe, Church Wealth in Mexico; A Study of the ‘Juzgado de Capellanias’ in the Archbishopric of Mexico, 1800–1856 (Cambridge, 1967); id., Church and State in Independent Mexico: A Study of the Patronage Debate 1821–1857 (Royal Historical Society Studies in History, 1978). P. J. Vanderwood, The Power of God against the Guns of Government: Religious Upheaval in Mexico at the Turn of the Nineteenth Century (Stanford, Calif. [1998]). R. E. Quirk, The Mexican Revolution and the Catholic-Church 1910–1929 (Bloomington, Ill., and London, 1973). J. A. Meyer, La Cristiada (3 vols., Mexico, 1973–4; Eng tr., The Cristero Rebellion: The Mexican People between Church and State 1926–1929, 1976). J. L. Mecham, Church and State in Latin America (rev. edn., Chapel Hill, NC, 1966), pp. 340–415, G. W. Grayson, The Church in Contemporary Mexico (Significant Issues Series, 14, no. 5; Washington, DC [1992]). K. Bowen, Evangelism and Apostacy: The Evolution and Impact of Evangelicals in Modern Mexico (McGill-Queen’s Studies in the History of Religion, 23; Montreal, etc. [1996]). J. Bravo Ugarte, SJ, Bio-Bibliografia Eclesiástica Mexicana (1821–1943) (3 vols., Mexico, 1949). D. Olmedo and others in NCE (2nd edn.), 9 (2003), pp. 571–86, s.v.

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