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Encyclopaedia Britannica, 11th Edition, Volume 11, Slice 8 "Germany" to "Gibson, William"

On the 24th of February 1880 the pope


Christianity over the people,

or to confirm in them the belief that the government was the real enemy of Christianity. It was not easy to execute this change of front with dignity, and impossible to do so without forsaking the principles on which they had hitherto acted. Ten years were to pass before the work was completed. But the cause of the conflict had been rather in the opinions of the Liberals than in the personal desire of Bismarck himself. The larger political reasons which had brought about the conflict were also no longer valid; the fears to which the Vatican decrees had given rise had not been fulfilled; the failure of the Carlists in Spain and of the Legitimists in France, the consolidation of the new kingdom in Italy, and the alliance with Austria had dispelled the fear of a Catholic league. The growth of the Catholic democracy in Germany was a much more serious danger, and it proved to be easier to come to terms with the pope than with the parliamentary Opposition. It would clearly be impossible to come to any agreement on the principles. Bismarck hoped, indeed, putting all questions of principle aside, to establish a _modus vivendi_; but even this was difficult to attain. An opportunity was given by the death of the pope in 1878. Leo XIII. notified his accession to the Prussian government in a courteous despatch; the interchange of letters was followed by a confidential discussion between Bismarck and Cardinal Franchi at Kissingen during the summer of 1878. The hope that this might bring about
some agreement was frustrated by the sudden death of the cardinal, and his successor was more under the influence of the Jesuits and the more extreme party. Bismarck, however, was not discouraged.

The resignation of Falk in July 1879 was a sign of the change of policy; he was succeeded by Puttkammer, who belonged to the old-fashioned Prussian Conservatives and had no sympathy with the Liberal legislation. The way was further prepared by a lenient use of the penal laws. On the 24th of February 1880 the pope, in a letter to the ex-archbishop of Cologne, said he was willing to allow clerical appointments to be notified if the government withdrew the obnoxious laws. In 1880 a provisional Bill was submitted to parliament giving the crown discretionary power not to enforce the laws. It was opposed by the Liberals on the ground that it conceded too much, by the Clericals that it granted too little, but, though carried only in a mutilated form, it enabled the priests who had been ejected to appoint substitutes, and religious worship was restored in nearly a thousand parishes. In the elections of 1881 the Centre gained five more seats, and in 1883 a new law was introduced prolonging and extending that of 1881. Meanwhile a Prussian envoy had again been appointed at the Vatican; all but three of the vacant bishoprics were filled by agreement between the pope and the king, and the sequestrated revenues were restored. Finally, in 1886, a fresh law, besides other concessions, did away with the _Kultur Examen_, and exempted seminaries from state control. It also abolished the ecclesiastical court, which, in fact, had proved to be almost unworkable, for no priests would appeal to it. By this, the real Kulturkampf, the attempt of the state to control the intellect and faith of the clergy, ceased. A further law of 1887 permitted the return to Prussia of those orders which were occupied in charitable work.


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