Info

Widespread resistance to these measures compelled Bismarck and his allies to escalate the attack. New legislation allowed the state to suspend or exile priests who refused to obey the May Laws. Government officials could also seize church property and, after 1875, suspend financial support from recalcitrant clergy (the 'bread-basket' law). The toll of these measures was considerable. As of 1878, only three of eight Prussian dioceses still had bishops, some 1,125 of 4,600 parishes were vacant, and nearly 1,800 priests ended up in jail or in exile. Approximately 16 million Reichsmarks appropriated to the Catholic Church went unspent. Finally, between 1872 and 1878, numerous Catholic newspapers were confiscated, Catholic associations and assemblies were dissolved, and Catholic civil servants were dismissed merely on the pretence of having Ultramontane sympathies.

Nevertheless, the Kulturkampf ultimately failed. Why? In part, state officials and liberal politicians underestimated the degree to which Ultramontanism had integrated the clergy into Catholic society. Thus, when the state moved against the priests, the laity-and especially laywomen-tookit personally. They staged demonstrations to protest against the arrest of clergy and auctions of church property. They collected money to cover for the funds withheld by the state, helped loyal priests escape to non-Prussian territories, and even organised an underground church. The persecutions also galvanised the Catholics politically, which translated into massive support for the pro-Catholic Centre Party. But the Kulturkampf also foundered because conservative politicians and the Protestant churches refused to endorse it. Indeed, the school inspection laws and the 1873 law that transferred their traditional registration of births, marriages and deaths to civil authorities affected Catholic and Protestant church alike, to the consternation of the latter. Thus, when Pope Pius IX died in 1878, Bismarck decided to reverse course. By the time he resigned from office in 1890, almost all of the Kulturkampflegislation had been either repealed or disabled.

The Kulturkampf was supposed to integrate Catholics into Protestant Germany. Instead, it widened the gulf between Catholics and Protestants. Accused of being national enemies (Reichsfeinde) and vilified as disturbers of the peace, German Catholics increasingly severed their ties with their Protestant neighbours, creating a socio-cultural world of their own that scholars have alternatively described as a Catholic ghetto or milieu. They bought from Catholic-owned shops and read newspapers published by and oriented towards Catholics. Distinctly Catholic approaches to folk literature, church architecture, art, and even historical writing and scholarship also emerged after 1870, all of which the Protestant middle class roundly disparaged. Most significantly,

0 0

Post a comment