1. Activity at Muenster

Clemens August, Freiherr van Droste-Vischering, archbishop of Cologne, was born at Münster Jan. 21, 1773; d. there Oct. 19, 1845. Descended from a strict Roman Catholic family, he was ordained priest in 1798, and in 1810 became coadjutor to the acting bishop of Münster, who was ill and died Sept. 16. Droste-Vischering was elected his successor, but when Münster came under French rule in the same year the existing diocesan administration


was abolished by Napoleon, Droste-Vischering was thrust aside, and the dean of the cathedral, Count Spiegel, was appointed bishop and commissioned to administer the diocese as vicar of the chapter until he should be canonically instituted. As Droste-Vischering already occupied this office, and as after the restoration of Prussian rule in Münster the Napoleonic changes were rescinded, Spiegel ultimately had to yield and in 1815 Droste-Vischering undertook once more, as vicar of the chapter, the management of the diocese.

Even thus early he stood for principles concerning the relations of Church and State which were quite impracticable in a land where the confessions lived side by side. He was not satisfied with proposing in his publication Ueber die Religionsfreiheit der Katholiken (Münster, 1817) an impossible platform for church politics, but endeavored to put it in practise, and thus came into conflict with the Prussian government, at first on the question of mixed marriages, then by an attempt to cripple the theological faculty in Bonn. In 1819 he instructed the priests to refuse to perform mixed marriages unless the parties should promise to educate their children in the Roman Catholic faith; and he forbade students of theology to follow Georg Hermes from Münster to Bonn, and declared he would ordain no one who attended lectures anywhere without his permission. Soon afterward he laid down his office and lived for the next fifteen years (1820-35) in strict retirement, devoting himself in the main to the guidance of an organization of Sisters of Charity. Even his consecration as suffragan bishop of Münster in 1827 did not allure him from the manner of life which had grown dear to him. But he forsook it later under remarkable circumstances; he was elected archbishop of Cologne Dec. 1, 1835, and enthroned May 29, 1836. What this promotion signified and what later brought about his fall can be understood only by knowing the situation in church politics when he took office, especially as regards the treatment of mixed marriages.

2. Mixed Marriages.

In 1741 Benedict XIV. had waived the requirement that the Tridentine form for solemnizing matrimony be absolutely necessary (cf. Mirbt, Quellen, pp. 311-315). The Prussian General Law of 1794 (Mirbt, Quellen, pp. 329-330) had ordered that, when the parents belonged to different confessions, until the completion of the fourteenth year sons should be brought up in the religion of the father and daughters in the confession of the mother. This paragraph was then suspended for the eastern provinces of the monarchy by a Royal Declaration of 1803 (Mirbt, Quellen, p. 339), because dangerous dissensions had been produced in the families affected; and it was provided that legitimate children should always be instructed in the religion of the father, and that neither husband nor wife should have the right to bind his or her helpmate by agreement to any deviation from this rule. By a Royal Cabinet Order of 1825 (Mirbt, Quellen, p. 350) this law was extended to the Rhine provinces and Westphalia. At the same time it was forbidden that clergymen should demand from engaged couples of mixed confession a promise about the religious training of their future children. These laws, which affected Protestants as well as Roman Catholics, were, however, evaded by Catholic clergymen who, to be sure, did not demand the aforesaid promise, but, if it was not voluntarily given, refused to perform the ceremony. The complaints which the government received caused it to enter upon negotiations with the archbishop of Cologne (Count Spiegel), and the bishops of Treves (Joseph von Hommer), Paderborn (Friedrich von Ledebur), and Münster (Caspar von Droste), who showed an obliging spirit but declared that they could take no steps without the permission of the pope. With the consent of the government they therefore applied to Rome. The result of the negotiations carried on there between the Prussian Ambassador Bunsen and Cardinal Capellari was a brief of Pius VIII. dated Mar. 25, 1830 (Mirbt, Quellen, pp. 350-353), in which the regulation of Benedict XIV. was extended to the four bishoprics above mentioned, and mixed marriages which had not been performed in the presence of a Catholic priest were recognized as valid; but on the real point in controversy, i.e., the promise about the education of the children, no decision was reached. As this brief, moreover, ordered that Catholic women should be warned against entering upon mixed marriages, and that Catholic priests should be forbidden to give the ecclesiastical benediction to such marriages, the Prussian government was not satisfied with the result. It attempted further direct negotiations with the bishops, and an agreement was closed in Berlin on June 19, 1834, between Bunsen and Count Spiegel, in accordance with which the brief of Pius VIII. should be transmitted to all priests; at the same time there was contemplated a similar set of directions for the general vicariates, concerning the practical treatment of mixed marriages. This instruction (Mirbt, Quellen, pp. 355-356) provided that all which had not expressly been prohibited in the brief should be held to be permitted, that the promise to educate the children in the religion of the one or the other of the parents should not be insisted on in practise, and that a mixed marriage should be entered upon in the usual solemn form; that is, by benediction, whereas the mere assistentia passiva of the clergyman was limited to special and exceptional cases. This agreement, to which the other bishops consented, was weak in that it had been reached without any cooperation by the Curia, and it had, moreover, merely the value of a personal arrangement; that is, it would be called in question as soon as one of these bishops died. The case arose the very next year; Count Spiegel passed away Aug. 2, 1835.


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