FOUNDED UPON THE ROCK: PART VII
THE AGE OF REVOLUTION AND THE NEW PENTECOST
I. In the eighteenth and early nineteenth century, the Church faced the challenges of the Enlightenment Era and then the French Revolution and the Napoleonic Era. As she faced those crises and overcame, them, she also enjoyed an increase in devotions, a greater respect for the papacy, and expansions again in mission activity.
A. The Enlightenment era exalted reason over faith, material observations over the mystical, and the secular over the spiritual. There did not have to be a conflict between the increased learning and faith; and the expanded scientific capacities could be used consistently with the faith, and eventually were. But, during the Enlightenment era and after, many people thought that scientific inquiry had replaced faith, and secular powers often tried to control the Church.
B. The French Revolution and then the reign of Napoleon were at first a colossal blows to the Church. But during the recovery, the Church emerged stronger and more free than before.
C. As the nineteenth century progressed, the Romantic reaction to the Enlightenment Era, and increase in devotional life, a greater respect for the papacy and better training of clergy, and an expanded access to Catholic education made the faith deepen among the common people in many areas.
D. After the Napoleonic Wars, missionary activity expanded and both old and new orders brought the faith more and more to the Americas and to new lands that were opening up.
II. The Enlightenment Era viewpoint became very powerful from latter half of the seventeenth century into the early nineteenth century.
A. The Enlightenment point of view emphasized such things as: (1) an increase in secular learning independent of faith; (2) attempts to rationalize all aspects of life and sometimes even a belief that there was a scientific explanation for all things; (3) a focus on increasing material prosperity more than increasing devotion; and (4) the growth of great political and economic powers.
- The attempts at advancing scientific understanding and solutions and increasing material prosperity and trade were not inherently atheistic, but there was a tendency towards skepticism about religion in general, and ideas of revelation in particular.
B . There was an attempt to promote the use of reason, and later using reason alone, in pursuing knowledge.
1. Even in the late fifteenth century, knowledge of science, particularly in navigation, building, and explosives, was increasing. This increased use of science did not in itself contradict anything about the faith. And in fact powerful clerics and even Popes were among the patrons of scientists.
2. For example, Fredrico Cesi (1585 – 1630), a citizen of the Papal States and the nephew of a cardinal, joined with some friends to establish the Academy of the Lynxes in 1603. The goal was to use careful observation to increase understanding of the sciences. Galileo Galilei joined the Academy in 1611. The Academy did not survive Cesi’s death. But, in 1847, Pope Pius IX revived it as the Pontifical Academy of the Sciences.
3. Nicolas Copernicus (1473 – 1543), a Polish monk, mathematician and scientist, proposed that the universe could be understood better by seeing the sun at the center, and the earth, other planets and the stars as circling around it. That view contradicted the common understanding that the earth was the center, an understanding that was based upon sense experience. He dedicated his great work, entitled On the Revolution of the Celestial Spheres to the Pope Paul III.
4. The controversy over Galileo Galilee’s heliocentric proposal involved largely personality disputes and arguments over power that got in the way of a scientific debate.
a. Galileo Galilee (1564-1642) was a professor at the University of Padua and well known for his research on mechanics and motion. He took the recently invented telescope and used it to investigate the sky and outer space. In so doing, he discovered many new things, such as the mountains of the moon and the moons of Jupiter. His discoveries made him famous and even a celebrity in Rome.
b. Eventually, he proposed in clear terms that the earth must rotate around the sun. There were scientific opponents, most prominently Tycho Brahe and Francis Bacon, who held that the earth was the center.
c. The heliocentric (sun centered) view was controversial, and there was a papal investigation. The committee, headed by Cardinal (later Saint) Robert Bellarmine, concluded that Galileo’s views were contrary to the most likely meaning of the Bible; and therefore, Cardinal Bellarmine told him that he should not continue advocating his theory as fact until and unless he could present definitive proof, which was not yet available.
d. For a time the compromise held, but later Galileo published his Dialogue of the Two Chief World Systems in 1632. That work insulted the proponents of the terra-centric (earth centered) view, and the Pope himself. At that Pope Urban VIII ordered a new trial for grave disobedience and disrespect. That trial held Galileo guilty and put him under house arrest at a villa.
e. The condemnation was certainly a serious blunder. But, as Blessed John Henry Newman pointed out in his Apologia Pro Vita Sua, it is the single case where Church authorities came into conflict with authentic science.
5. Francis Bacon (1561 – 1626) promoted using empirical research and experiments to test commonly understood views of the universe. He also argued that practical uses of science are more important than seeing them as reflections of divine order. He was also very much involved in English politics, becoming for a time Attorney General of Britain. In the latter role, he promoted a view that one can ascertain good legal principles from empirical research into the past. In his literary works, he argued that there is no conflict between science and religion.
6. Sir Isaac Newton (1643 – 1727) used calculus and principles of physics to explain motion upon mechanistic principles.
a. Until his day, no one understood why things move at all. He used scientific principles of inertia and force to explain motions, including motions of the planets.
b. He developed calculus, which helped advance scientific measurements enormously.
c. Isaac Newton himself was a practicing Christian and thought of his discoveries as glorifying God.
C. Although the most prominent scientists of the sixteenth and seventeenth century did not intend to undermine religious belief, the scientific perspective led some other thinkers to conclude that a notion of religious faith was a sign of an ignorant era.
1. Empiricism, the view that our experience is all that we can know, began to be popular. Thus, for example, in his 1660 work Essays on the Human Mind, John Lock argued that sense experience is the basis for all of our knowledge, leaving no room for supernatural faith.
2. David Hume (1711 – 1776) argued that all rightful morals come from sentiments that are either useful or pleasing to oneself or society, with no reference to God, an eternal order, or an immortal soul. And he argued that all legitimate knowledge can be established by reason and our empirical experience.
3. Immanuel Kant (1724 – 1804) argued that our experience, combined the ideas inherent in the human mind, are the basis for all knowledge. He considered religion to be rightfully based simply on an experience of the numinous, and interpreted the Bible as an entirely symbolic expression of general moral principles.
4. There were some people, such as the philosopher Voltaire (François-Marie Arouet) and the historian Edward Gibbon, who mocked the idea of religion, and Christianity in particular, as unreasonable. Other thinkers, such as the Americans Benjamin Franklin and Thomas Jefferson, thought of religion as good, but as reducible to principles that can be established by reason.
D. In the meantime, the monarchs of Europe and many other wealthy people were growing vastly in power. At the same time, new secular ideas of government were spreading.
1. The most powerful monarch of the seventeenth and eighteenth century was Louis XIV of France, sometimes called The Sun King. His reign, which lasted from 1643 (when he was five) to 1715, brought France to great prestige, but also to conflicts with other nations and with the Church.
a. France expanded her colonial settlements, which helped missionary activities, but which would eventually bring France into conflict with other nations.
b. France built up her military and political power, and tried to influence the affairs of other nations, including Spain and the Holy Roman Empire.
c. The French government strongly supported the Church. However, the French royal court promoted the notion of Gallicanism, the idea that the French government had final say over the operation of the Catholic Church in France. This view would lead to conflicts, but never quite to a final break with Rome as had occurred in England.
2. In Spain, the War of Spanish Succession was followed by absolutist monarchs taking over.
a. When King Charles II (1665-1700) died without children, Louis XIV tried to place one of his grandsons on the throne, while the Holy Roman Emperor Leopold I also tried to get one of his sons on the throne. The resulting War of Spanish Succession ended with Louis XIV’s grandson Phillip V becoming king of Spain, but with a guarantee of independence for Spain.
b. Phillip V (1724 - 46) and his sons Ferdinand VI (1746 – 59) and Charles III (1759 – 88) ruled Spain in an absolutist fashion. In some ways, they supported the missions, but they also increasingly opposed what they considered to be interference by religious orders, particularly the Jesuits.
c. Unfortunately, with the French and Spanish kings opposing the Jesuits and their willingness to criticize the governments, Pope Pius Clement VIII suppressed the order in 1773. Pope Pius IX would restore it in 1814.
3. After the Thirty Years War and the resulting Treaty of Westphalia in 1648, the most powerful new nation to emerge was Prussia, whose territory encompassed roughly what would later become East Germany. In the nineteenth century Prussia would forge (and force) agreements with other nations to become the nation of Germany.
a. Prussia was basically Protestant and a force for the Lutheran Church.
b. Its most powerful ruler was Frederick II (later called Frederick the Great), who ruled from 1740 to 1786. He built up Prussia’s army, economy and international prestige.
4. Meanwhile, in Russia the Emperors Peter I (Peter the Great), who ruled from 1682 until 1725 and Catherine I (Catherine the Great, who ruled from 1762 until 1796 built up their armies, economy and prestige of that nation. Like other monarchs, they ruled their country with absolute authority. They did also promote learning and a more free economy, but not dissent. Their increased power allowed them to acquire more and more land, especially in Poland and Lithuania.
5. The Holy Roman Empire survived a threat to its existence under the rule of the Emperor Stephen and the Empress Maria Theresa. However, it unfortunately declined under their autocratic but less capable successor Joseph II.
a. When the Holy Roman Emperor Charles VI died in 1740, he had no male heirs. And so his son-in-law Stephen became Emperor, under the name Charles VII. He was amiable, but not powerful; however, Maria Theresa, his wife and the daughter of Charles VI, proved more capable than anyone thought.
b. Sensing weakness when Charles VII and Maria Theresa rose to power, Frederick the Great of Prussia invaded Austrian territory in 1741 and demanded it for his own. Believing that he would not be satisfied with only a part of the realm, Stephen and Maria Theresa rallied the Austrian people to a defense; the French king Louis XV eventually came to their help. The result was the 7 year War of Austrian Succession, which resulted in victory and a renewed prestige for the Empire.
c. Charles VII died in 1745, but Maria Theresa continued ruling as co-regent with her son Joseph. After the war, she improved the tax system, the courts, and the army and began to promote universal education. She also strongly supported the Church; and, at least compared to other monarchs, she did not try to exert as much control over the Church.
d. However, when Maria Theresa died in 1782, her son Joseph proved to be much less capable and decisive. At the same time, he tried to exert even more control over the Church than his predecessors.
6. The strongly Catholic nations of Poland and Lithuania did not keep up with the neighboring countries in terms of economics and military strength and as a result lost their independence.
a. By 1700, Lithuania had come more and more under the influence of Poland. But Poland itself was becoming more politically unstable and Russia was playing more and more of a role in its affairs
b. By 1770, Frederick the Great and Catherine the Great came up with a plan to divide much of Poland and Lithuania between them. In 1772, Maria Theresa joined with the plan to get at least part of the land for the Catholic Empire. Then, in 1793 and 1795, the three nations took over then entire country with little resistance. Russia and Prussia tried to keep the Catholic Church down, while the Holy Roman Empire was more supportive.
7. The British government grew rapidly in strength in the seventeenth and eighteenth century, establishing a world- wide Empire. As its strength grew, the situation for Catholics gradually became better, but the discrimination continued.
a. The eighteenth century saw the situation for Catholics improve in the British Empire.
- After the so-called Glorious Revolution of 1688, the Parliament and King William agreed to the Act of Toleration, which gave full rights to all sorts of Protestants, but not to Catholics.
- There were a couple of unsuccessful efforts to put the former Catholic King James II and then his son Prince Charles back on the throne in the early eighteenth century. These efforts increased suspicion of Catholics for a time.
- As Britain became more secure and interested in economic trade during the eighteenth century, discrimination against Catholics lessened. The increasing freedom for Catholics led to the anti-Catholic riots of 1780, during which the clumsy and reluctant response of the British armies in protecting the innocent became an embarrassment. After the riots, sympathy for Catholics increased.
- Many members of Parliament wanted to give more freedom to Catholics, but King George III prevented such legislation, thinking that it would be a violation of his obligation to protect the Anglican Church.
b. Meanwhile, the British Empire was growing with increased possessions in the New World and the coasts of Africa and India. Also crucially important for the economy, the British Empire’s navy became the strongest in the world, giving it a great advantage in trade. The British Empire was centered heavily on trade, with India highly prized for providing such very prized commodities as tea and spices.
c. Britain and France fought wars throughout the eighteenth century, which were at first inconclusive. But in the Seven Years War (in America the French and Indian War) from 1756 – 63, Britain won dramatically and established dominance in North America and in trade with the Far East.
E. As the national governments were becoming stronger, secular theories of government were developing.
1. Most famously, John Locke (1632 – 1704) in his Two Treatises of Government defended the idea of natural rights on the basis of a social contract theory of government, focusing on the idea that governments are established by the people for their own benefit and the defense of their rights. Along similar lines Jean-Jacques Rousseau (1712 – 1788) argued in his book The Social Contract that governments are formed by the people and can only be justified to the degree that they are helpful to the rights of the people.
2. Earlier, the British philosopher Thomas Hobbes (1588 – 1679) published his most famous book Leviathan, in which he defended the need for very strong government as necessary to restrain human impulses. It should be noted that he also said that the government should, as a practical matter, limit its scope, so as to perform its duties better.
3. Such theories did have the good effect of focusing government on the service of the people, rather than the interests of the powerful. However, they tended to downplay notions of an enduring morality, with the goal instead what the people perceive as their good. While it was not the intention of most of the philosophers of the time, their views could easily lead to the conclusion that whatever the people want should be granted without reference to a higher law.
III. The beginning of the Age of Revolution upset the order of the eighteenth century, but in the long run had the paradoxical effect of freeing the Church from many constraints of the world.
A. The American Revolution was not initially intended to establish religious liberty here or elsewhere, but had the effect of doing so as its implications played themselves out.
1. The Revolution had backing from such Enlightenment era people as Thomas Paine and Thomas Jefferson. But it also had a strong evangelical religious strain as well, for it came on the heels of the First Great Awakening in the 1740s. The two sides joined forces for the time.
2. Some of the Founding Fathers, such as George Washington and Benjamin Franklin, strongly promoted religious pluralism, in part based on principle and in part to unite the different sections of the country. In addition, with the colonists seeking French help, it was essential to be at least somewhat friendly to Catholics.
3. Charles Carrol of Carrolton, a prominent and wealthy Maryland citizen and a Catholic, was at first not allowed to hold public office in that colony. However, his strong defense of the principle of no taxation without representation and his willingness to put his great wealth behind the Revolution paved the way for more religious liberty there.
4. During the Revolutionary War, the Virginia House of Burgesses passed the Statue of Religious Liberties giving all citizens equal religious freedom. It was an accomplishment Jefferson was especially proud of.
5. As part of the deal to join the new Constitution drafted in 1787, several states insisted that it would soon be amended to contain a Bill of Rights. That demand resulted in the first 10 amendments to the national Constitution. The First Amendment began by stating that the federal government must stay out of religion.
6. There was still much discrimination against Catholics in many parts of the new country, but it gradually diminished over time, although progress was at times halting.
B. Meanwhile, across the Atlantic, the French Revolution dealt a severe blow, at least for the time, to the Catholic Church.
1. The finances of the French government grew steadily worse during the course of the eighteenth century due to the many wars it was involved in, the increasing expense of the royal court, and the very inefficient taxing system.
2. There was also an increasing frustration with corruption, crime and the continuity of vast poverty in the midst of a century that was seeing a vast increase in wealth from trade.
3. Louis XV, a great-grandson of Louis XIV, ruled from 1715 (when he was five) until 1774. At first, his success in the War of Austrian Succession made him popular. However, the losses in the Seven Years War diminished his prestige. And he was unable to carry out reform of the country that he knew were needed.
4. Paradoxically, the French victory in the American Revolution undermined the French government, both by diminishing its financial resources even further and by giving an example of a successful Revolution.
5. Louis XVI, who took over after his grandfather’s death, was a very pious Catholic and married to Marie Antoinette, who was the daughter of the Empress Maria Theresa of the Holy Roman Empire and also a devout Catholic. However, he was often weak in personality; and there were many people who disliked Maria Antoinette’s German background.
6. In 1789, Louis XVI convoked the Estates General, which had not been summoned since 1619, to help stabilize the country’s finances. The Estates General consisted of the First Estates of clergy (mostly priests, with some bishops), the Second Estate of the nobility and the Third Estate of the commoners. The priests of the First Estate joined the forces of the Third Estate to create the National Assembly, for they sensed the need to reform against the nobility and even to some degree the bishops, many of whom were also nobles. Louis XVI, seeing the Assembly going in the direction of absolute control for themselves, tried to suppress it, but an insurrection broke out.
7. The king’s army fell apart and the revolutionaries took over. They soon turned against the Church, seizing Church property and taking over the parishes. In 1790, the Assembly demanded that all clergy sign the Civil Constitution of the Clergy, pledging final loyalty to them.
8. Pope Pius VI (1775 – 98) tried to keep control of the situation and forbade clergy from signing the Civil Constitution, suspending those who did so from ministry. The clergy in France were divided, with most resisting the government (and often leaving the country) and some being loyal to the government. In rural areas, those faithful to the Church sometimes held out; the Vendee in western France were particularly heroic in this endeavor. By 1792, the government suppressed all religious orders and took their property.
9. Starting in September, 1792, mass violence began to take place. King Louis was executed in January 1793, followed shortly by Maria Antoinette. The violence increased and became the Reign of Terror spread from September, 1793 to July, 1794, when its leader Maximilien Robespierre was assassinated. During this time, many priests and faithful Catholics fled the nation, with some coming to the United States and strengthening the Catholic Church here.
C. The chaos of the French Revolution paved the way for Napoleon Bonaparte to become Emperor of France. This period was very difficult for the Church, but would in the long run lead to improvements in the situation after his overthrow.
1. After Robespierre’s assassination, the General Directory took over. It was ineffective in reforming the situation. However, the French victories over the Holy Roman Empire, especially in the Netherlands and northern Italy, kept up its popularity for a time. Napoleon Bonaparte, a young artillery general, was central to France’s military successes.
2. Napoleon returned to Paris and arranged to take over the government as First Consul by November, 1799.
3. As a general, Napoleon had invaded Rome and arrested Pius VI in 1798. He was going to bring the Pope to Paris at that time, but he died in the meantime. The cardinals who could get together elected a Benedictine monk as the next Pope after an 18 month vacancy. He would take the name Pius VII.
4. After gaining control of the French government, Napoleon seemed at first to be more favorable to the Church, in part to pacify the rural areas. He allowed the Catholic priests back in and in fact signed a Concordat with Pius VII in 1801. The Concordat allowed the French government and citizens to keep most of the Church property they had seized, but also promised more financing for the Church. The French government would be able to nominate bishops, but the final choice was the Pope’s. However, Napoleon added his own “Organic Articles,” which the Pope never agreed to, that gave him greater control.
5. Disputes over the interpretation of the Concordat led to severe conflicts. In 1809, Napoleon’s armies invaded Rome and arrested Pope Pius VII, putting him in a Benedictine cell. Pope Pius retaliated by refusing to appoint any more French bishops. The acerbic situation continued until just before Napoleon’s overthrow in 1814.
6. Meanwhile, Napoleon, both before and after becoming First Consul and then Emperor, won victories in Europe, gaining most of the homeland. He forced Spain into an alliance and then turned east, taking over the Holy Roman Empire and Prussia. Even after Napoleon’s defeat, the Holy Roman Empire would not be restored.
7. However, due to the British navy and especially its spectacular victory at Trafalgur in 1805, Napoleon could not invade the island nation. And then in 1812 he made the disastrous decision to invade Russia. His Grand Army was wiped out during the next winter. Britain, Russia, and patriots from Prussia and Austria then combined to defeat and overthrow him in 1814. He launched a brief attempt to come back, but he was decisively defeated at Waterloo in 1815.
8. In the aftermath of the conquests of Napoleon and then his defeat, the victorious nations gathered for the Congress of Vienna, which redrew national boundaries and tried to establish a lasting peace. The results for the Church were largely positive, but with problems developing in Spain.
a. Just before being defeated in 1814, Napoleon allowed Pope Pius IX to return to Rome; and he did so in a grand celebration.
b. The grandson of Louis XVI was restored to the French throne as Louis XVIII. He tried again to control the Church, but his influence was greatly diminished. The French nobility likewise had much less influence in the Church. The common folk in the rural areas had held out for the true faith, and the French Church started paying more attention to them.
c. Even the Protestant powers of Europe began to see the Papacy as a positive force, keeping order and stability. The Congress of Vienna restored the Papal States as “the oldest and most legitimate monarchy.” In addition, Catholics in Protestant nations received much more freedom.
- For example, in 1829, the British Parliament passed the Catholic Emancipation Act. In Ireland the first seminary in centuries opened at Maynooth in 1795. In 1842, the missionary seminary of All Hallows also opened in Ireland, and would send missionaries to the United States, Australia and New Zealand, helping spread the faith in these lands.
- In 1853, the Netherlands welcomed back a Catholic episcopacy.
d. During the wars with Napoleon, the former Holy Roman Empire became the mostly Catholic Austrian Empire. Although it was briefly conquered by Napoleon, it was restored after the wars and was a pro-Catholic force in Europe. And the mostly Catholic nation of Belgium was carved out of former territories of France and the Holy Roman Empire
e. Among the general public as well, Pope Pius VII’s courageous stance, as well as the suffering and martyrdom of many Catholic priests and religious brothers and sisters, gave the papacy and the Church greater prestige.
f. The political situation in Spain was unstable after the war, with a crisis over succession from 1834 – 1876, when a largely anti-Catholic republic took over. The instability did allow many Latin American nations to achieve independence more easily, and the populace there remained mostly Catholic.
g. The declining power of the Spanish and French kings enabled Pope Pius VII to reestablish the Jesuit order in 1814.
IV. The nineteenth century saw an increase of Catholic piety and missionary activity, partially in reaction to both the chaos in the early century and the industrialization that continued throughout it.
A. The attacks on the Church led to both an increased desire for spiritual leadership and a respect for the clergy.
1. Ultramontanism, the view that the Pope needs to play a central role in the ongoing affairs of the Church in each nation, arose in reaction to the disasters that were falling on national churches. There was also an increased notion of the Pope as a father figure and a force of union, rather than more of a political interest.
2. The very fact that government taxes were not used as much to support the Church led to more of a sense of voluntary offerings and devotion. And the weakening of government control over the Church led to the selection of better bishops.
3. The bishops and religious orders gained more control over seminaries, which resulted in the training of clergy more loyal to the Church and less attached to the prevailing government. For example, the Austrian Emperor Joseph II’s attempt to control all seminaries in his lands was called off. And in France, before the Revolution, many clergy had little training at all. The provisions of Trent were more in force later.
4. With education becoming much more central, new religious orders were founded along these lines. For example, based upon the teachings of St. Francis de Sales, St. John Bosco founded Salesian Fathers in 1845 and Abbé Louis Brisson founded the Oblates of St. Francis de Sales in 1875. In the United States, St. Elizabeth Ann Seton founded the Sisters of Charity in 1810 and it expanded beyond all expectations.
B. In reaction both to the heresy of Jansenism and the more impersonal society, devotion to the Sacred Heart of Jesus and Marian devotions became more common.
1. Jansenism was an almost Calvinist version of Catholicism that emphasized how sinful people are and argued that most things people did were sins and often mortal sins. Pope Clement XI condemned the view in 1713, but the effects of a very harsh morality were still around.
2. In addition, with a more and more industrial society, the social situation was becoming often very impersonal. With people often migrating, familial ties were not as strong.
3. In that context, devotion to the Sacred Heart of Jesus was increasing. This devotion had been in the Church since the eleventh century; St. Gertrude in particular promoted the devotion in the thirteenth century. However, it was the visions of St. Margaret Mary Alacoque (1647-90) that made the devotion ever more popular. In 1765, Pope Clement XIII allowed the French Church to celebrate the devotion as a feast. And, in 1856, Pope Pius IX extended the feast to the whole Church. The devotion celebrates the personal love of Jesus and His emotional support for each person.
4. Likewise, Marian devotions increased rapidly in the nineteenth century as the people sought more and more a maternal figure in the world. The Marian apparitions at Rue de Bac in Paris in 1830, at La Salette in 1848, in Lourdes in 1858, and at Knock, Ireland in 1879 inspired ever more devotion to Mary. In 1854, Pope Pius IX declared infallibly that Mary was conceived without original sin, resolving a centuries old debate.
C. In reaction against the impersonal nature of Enlightenment era thought, the Romantic perspective arose.
1. Whereas Enlightenment era thought elevated abstract principles of reason, universal truths, usefulness and mathematical certainty, Romantic era thought emphasized the importance of sentiment, beauty, personal relationships, nature and national identity.
2. In Europe, the likes of Edmund Burke , Jean-Jacques Rousseau, the poets William Blake and John Keats, and the novelists Mary Shelly (who wrote Frankenstein in 1818) and Sir Walter Scott (who wrote Ivanhoe in 1819) represent this view. In America, the likes of Henry David Thoreau, Ralph Waldo Emmerson, the Transcendentalist Movement, the poets Oliver Wendell Homes Sr. and Edgar Allen Poe, and the writers Washington Irving and James Fennimore Cooper represent this view.
3. This worldview was not inherently Catholic or even favorable to organized religion at all. However, the reaction against the Enlightenment Era and the impersonal society did lead to an increased longing for the virtues of an older era and the more personal Catholic devotion to saints. In addition, there was a greater desire for the beauty of Christian art and liturgy. Thus, for example, artistic portrayals of the saints were more realistic than in the Middle Ages, but also more expressive of emotions than the eighteenth century. Gothic architecture and the centrality of churches in towns again increased in popularity.
D. The expanding European empires, as well as the increased ability to travel, allowed missionary work to expand rapidly.
1. Both before and after the Napoleonic Wars, the European nations were building empires further around the world, and with them missionaries went out with the nations.
2. After the Napoleonic Wars, the Church formed new orders and congregations for missionary work.
a. In 1815, the Vatican established the Pontifical Society for the Propagation of the Faith to direct foreign missions. Likewise, in 1817, Pope Pius VII approved of the Congregation of the Sacred Hearts of Jesus and Mary, which would be very involved in missions to Latin America and island lands, including Hawaii.
b. The French priest Venerable Jean-Claude Colin formed The Society of Mary (Marists) in 1816; and they evangelized much of Australia, New Zealand and Oceania. The Congregation of the Immaculate Heart of Mary (the Missionhurst order) was formed in 1862 and would bring the faith back to China.
3. Despite the losses in the Napoleonic Wars, France acquired colonies in Africa and the Far East, and missionaries followed in their wake.
4. With its vast naval power and superior military, Great Britain likewise established colonies around Africa, acquired most of India, and gained access to China, Japan and many lands of the Far East. And, after the Act of Catholic Emancipation, Catholic missionaries could also go to the British colonies that were forming. The Irish missionaries in particular gained the sympathy of many local people, for the Irish were also from a nation subject to foreign power.
5. In the United States, the Catholic Church increased in size dramatically, largely due to immigration from France in the early 19th century and then Ireland in the mid-19th century.
1. The chaos in Europe led many French clergy and other Catholics to seek freedom in this land, despite the disabilities here.
2. Between 1845 and 1852, the Irish potato famine led to the emigration of about 1.5 million Irish overseas, including about 600,000 to the United States. Cities such as Boston, New York, Philadelphia and Baltimore became largely Irish.
3. The responses in America ranged from sympathy for their plight and desire for a new life to an anti-Catholic nativist reaction, especially embodied in the Know Nothing party of the mid-nineteenth century.
V. As the mid-nineteenth century approached, the Catholic Church had survived threats from European powers and was in a position to bring the faith to the modern world.
A. The Papal States were still in place, but an increasing Italian national movement was building. There was a brief attempt in 1848 to establish a unified nation of Italy, including the Papal States, but the Austrian Empire put it down.
B. Overseas, missions were going to the far parts of the world. They did not make a large number of converts from non-Christian religions in the nineteenth century. But they set the stage for broad conversions in the twentieth century.
C. Despite all of the troubles, the nations that had been Catholic in the eighteenth century largely remained Catholic. However, the revolutions and the Enlightenment Era had increased a sense of skepticism among many people. Furthermore, the mostly failed revolutions in many countries of Europe (e.g., France, Austria, Prussia, Italy) in 1848 made some people see the Catholic Church as a force of reaction.
D. On the other hand, the reaction against the industrialization of the nineteenth century, the desire for more personal devotions, the improvements in the selections of bishops, the better training of clergy, and the increased role of the religious orders in education was helping the Church’s prestige in many areas of the world.