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Vatican Council, First


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(1869–70),

reckoned by RCs the 20th Oecumenical Council. Convoked by Pius IX in 1868, it was intended to deal with a wide variety of subjects. It opened in Dec. 1869 and began by discussing the schema ‘De Fide’. A revised constitution on Faith, ‘Dei Filius’, was promulgated on 24 Apr. 1870. It contains four chapters on God the Creator, on Revelation, on Faith, and on Faith and Reason. It was decided to turn next to the questions of Papal infallibility and the primacy of the Pope. In the debate on the primacy the minority particularly objected to the definition of the Pope's jurisdiction as ordinary, immediate, and truly episcopal. They also tried to get his infallibility linked more closely with that of the Church. The constitution ‘Pastor Aeternus’, accepted on 18 July, disappointed the extremists on both sides. It clearly stated the infallibility of the Pope, but restricted it to those occasions when, speaking excathedra, he defines a doctrine regarding faith or morals. The outbreak of war between France and Prussia on 19 July and the Italian occupation of Rome brought the Council to an end.

The definitions of the Council aroused serious opposition only in Germany and Austria. In these countries small minorities organized themselves as ‘Old Catholics’, and in Germany Bismarck's opposition to the consolidation of Papal power issued in the ‘Kulturkampf’.

Subjects: Christianity.


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