« Alphæus Alsace-Lorraine Alsted, Johann Heinrich »


ALSACE-LORRAINE (Germ. Elsass-Lothringen): An immediate “imperial territory” (Reichsland), forming the extreme southwest of the German empire, bounded on the north by the grand duchy of Luxemburg, Rhenish Prussia, and the Rhine Palatinate (Rhenish Bavaria), on the east by Baden, on the south by Switzerland, and on the west by France. Its area is 5,603 square miles, with a population (1905) of 1,814,630, including 1,375,300 (75.8 per cent.) Roman Catholics, 406,100 (22.3 per cent.) Protestants, and 33,130 (1.88 per cent.) Jews. The preponderance of Roman Catholics points back to the political conditions of the sixteenth century, when the territory for the most part belonged to the house of Austria, the duke of Lorraine, and the bishops of Strasburg. The Reformation found entrance only in the free city of Strasburg and in certain other cities and minor dependencies; and much of the progress there made was lost under the dragonnades and through the work of the Jesuits in the time of Louis XIV.

The Lutheran Church.

Ecclesiastical matters were little changed by the transfer of Alsace-Lorraine from France to Germany after the war of 1870-71. The Church of the Augsburg Confession is still constituted according to the law of the first French republic as amended in 1852 after the coup d’état of Louis Napoleon. A presbyterial council, chosen by the congregation, under the presidency of the pastor, has general oversight of the spiritual and temporal concerns of each congregation. Its acts and decisions must be confirmed by the next higher ecclesiastical board, the consistory—in some cases representing a single congregation, in others a union of several—which is chosen by a highly complicated system. Its functions are in general the same as those of the presbytery—to maintain discipline, to care for the order of divine service, and to manage Church property. There are also inspection districts, each having one clerical and two lay inspectors. At the head of the Church is a directory, a standing board, and an upper consistory, which meets yearly. The directory consists of two laymen and one of the clerical inspectors appointed by the government, and two lay members chosen by the upper consistory. It has power to review all acts of presbyteries and consistories, manages all Church property, forms the intermediate body between Church and government, and appoints all ministers after consultation with presbyterial councils and 138 consistories. It has a voice in appointing the teachers of the Protestant gymnasium, has the right of nominating the inspectors, licenses and ordains preachers, and executes the decrees of the upper consistory. The latter meets annually in regular session. The business to be brought before it must have the approval of the government and its decisions require government confirmation. Its sessions are limited to six days and a representative of the government must be present. Ministers’ salaries range between 1,420 and 2,840 marks according to position and length of service. The most important foundations are under the administration of the Chapter of St. Thomas in Strasburg; they are partly ecclesiastical, partly educational, the latter being the more important.

Reformed and Other Bodies.

The Reformed Church of Alsace-Lorraine has substantially the same constitution as the Church of the Augsburg Confession. Its congregations are led and governed by similar presbyterial councils and consistories, but the latter are not united into an external administrative unity. It has a numerical strength about one-fifth that of the Lutheran Church. Of other Protestant bodies the Mennonites, with a membership of about 2,500, are the strongest. The government expenditures for salaries and other Church purposes are more than 700,000 marks yearly.

The Roman Catholic Church.

The Roman Catholic Church of Alsace-Lorraine comprises the two bishoprics of Strasburg (Alsace) and Metz (Lorraine), formerly belonging to the province of Besançon, but since 1874 independent of all archiepiscopal or metropolitan jurisdiction. The bishops are named by the reigning prince, and receive canonical institution from Rome. They select all books to be used in church services, and present priests for appointment to the prince, but name directly the lower clergy as well as the directors and professors of the diocesan seminaries, in which the clergy receive their training. They also direct these seminaries and order the instruction in them. Each bishop has two vicars-general and a chapter, which becomes influential only in the case of a vacancy in the bishopric. The salaries of priests range from 1,500 to 2,000 marks; vicars receive 540 marks. Church buildings and rectories by law belong to the civil authorities so that the latter are charged with their maintenance, of the ordinary revenues (managed by a committee of the congregation) do not suffice. Such buildings may not be diverted from their original purpose. Many of the churches are used by both Protestants and Roman Catholics. The cemeteries also are common property, and any resident may be buried in them without confessional distinction. The taking of monastic vows for life is forbidden, and the law recognizes no religious order; nevertheless, more than twenty are represented, the greater number being for females. The expenditures of the State for the Roman Catholic Church amount to more than 2,000,000 marks yearly.

The Jews are divided into three consistories, each with a chief rabbi, at Strasburg, Colmar, and Metz, respectively. Rabbis receive salaries from the State, varying from 1,500 to 1,900 marks.

Wihelm Goetz.

« Alphæus Alsace-Lorraine Alsted, Johann Heinrich »
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