AskDefine | Define ultramontane

Dictionary Definition

ultramontane adj
1 of or relating to ultramonatism
2 on or relating to or characteristic of the region or peoples beyond the Alps from Italy (or north of the Alps); "ancient transalpine Gaul was an area northwest of the Alps and included modern France and Belgium"; "Cracow was a transalpine university" [syn: transalpine]
3 on the Italian or Roman side of the Alps; "ancient cisalpine Gaul included an area south and east of the Alps" [syn: cisalpine] n : a Roman Catholic who advocates ultramontanism (supreme papal authority in matters of faith and discipline)

Extensive Definition

Ultramontanism is a religious philosophy within the Roman Catholic community that places strong emphasis on the prerogatives and powers of the pope. In particular, ultramontanism may consist in asserting the superiority of Papal authority over the authority of local temporal or spiritual hierarchies (including the local bishop). It literally refers to support by those dwelling "beyond the mountains" (ultra montes), that is, beyond the Alps — specifically referring to the Pope in Rome.
The actual origin of the term is relative and technical ecclesiastical language from the Middle Ages: when a non-Italian pope was elected he was said to be a papa ultramontano, that is, form the far side of the Alps mountains. Foreign students at medieval Italian universities were also referred to as ultramontanes.
The word was revived after the Protestant Reformation. Among the northern European governments and peoples there gradually developed a tendency to regard the papacy as a foreign power, especially when the Pope interfered in temporal matters by favoring some ruler or country over another. This name of Ultramontain was applied in France to the supporters of the Roman doctrines and papal superiority, above all of papal political interference, as opposed to the "Gallican liberties" and Jansenism of the indigenous French Catholic Church, which however remained in full communion with Rome. The term was intended to be insulting, or at least to convey the implication of a failing in attachment to one's own country. From the 17th century, ultramontanism became closely associated with the Society of Jesus, stating the superiority of popes over councils and kings, even in temporal questions.
In the 18th century the word passed to Germany (Josephinism and Febronianism), where it acquired a much wider signification, being applicable to all the conflicts between Church and State, the supporters of the Church being called Ultramontanes. (It is in this sense that Paleoconservatives in the United States are sometimes referred to as being Ultramontanist.)
The word ultramontanism was revived in the context of the French Third Republic as a general insulting term for policies advocating the involvement of the Roman Catholic Church in the policies of the French government, in opposition to laïcité.
In the above cases, the ultramontanist movement acted as a counterbalance to growing power of the state in Europe. Roman Catholic apologists argued that if the Pope has ultimate authority in the Church, then national churches would be more immune to interference from their governments. As a fact of history, however, states which had national churches grew increasingly secular and have either granted charters of religious freedom or have disestablished the Church.
Within the Roman Catholic Church, Ultramontanism achieved victory over conciliarism at the First Vatican Council with the pronouncement of papal infallibility (the ability of the pope to define dogmas free from error ex cathedra) and of papal supremacy, i.e., supreme, full, immediate, and universal ordinary jurisdiction of the Roman Pope. Other Christians not in full communion with Rome declared this as the triumph of what they termed "the heresy of Ultramontanism." It was specifically decried in the Declaration of the Catholic Congress at Munich, in the Theses of Bonn, and in the Declaration of Utrecht, which became the foundational documents of Old Catholics (Altkatholische) who split with Rome over the declaration on infallibility and supremacy, joining the Old Episcopal Order Catholic See of Utrecht, which had been independent from Rome since 1723.
Italian unification under the leadership of Giuseppe Mazzini and Giuseppe Garibaldi dissolved the political entity of the Papal States in 1870. Thus the secular power of the Bishop of Rome, i.e., the Pope, was reduced to one square mile, the smallest sovereign nation on earth (as a result of the 1929 Lateran Treaty which established a Concordat between Vatican City and the nation of Italy). Prior to the demise of the Papal States, the First Vatican Council had been convened by Pope Pius IX.
The Ultramontanist movement after Italian Unification and the abrupt (and unofficial) end of the First Vatican Council in 1870 (due to the outbreak of the Franco-Prussian War), and the opposing Conciliarism, became obsolete to a large extent. Some very extreme tendencies of a minority of adherents to Ultramontanism however, especially those attributing to the Roman Pontiff, even in his private opinions, of absolute infallibility even in matters beyond faith and morals, and impeccability, survived and were eagerly used by opponents of the Roman Catholic Church and papacy before the Second Vatican Council (1962-1965) for use in their propaganda. These tendencies however were never supported by the First Vatican Council's dogma of papal infallibility and primacy of 1870, but are rather inspired by erroneous private opinions of some Roman Catholic laymen, who tend to identify themselves completely with the Holy See.
At the Second Vatican Council (1962-1965) the debate on papal primacy and authority re-emerged, and in the Dogmatic Constitution on the Church Lumen Gentium, the Roman Catholic Church's teaching on the authority of the Pope, bishops and councils was further elaborated. The post-conciliar position of the Apostolic See did not deny any of the previous dogmas of papal infallibility or papal primacy, rather, it shifted emphasis from structural and organizational authority to doctrinal teaching authority (also known as the Magisterium). Papal Magisterium, i.e., Papal teaching authority, was defined in Lumen Gentium #25 and later codified in the 1983 revision of Canon Law.
Some may claim the Vatican II principle of subsidiarity was a victory for the anti-Ultramontanists, but closer inspection shows that it is merely a logical operation of bureaucratic societies to allow local authorities the opportunity to handle local problems and concerns. It did not 'de-centralize' the Roman Catholic Church but it did give more pastoral responsibility to local bishops and pastors of local parishes. Those of an Ultramontanist philosophy could take comfort in the retention of doctrinal and disciplinary (canon law) supremacy by the Roman Pontiff and the Roman Curia which serves and represents him.
Challenges to Ultramontanism have remained strong within and outside of Roman jurisdiction. Ultramontanism has particularly overshadowed ecumenical work between the Roman Catholic Church and both Lutherans and Anglicans. The joint Anglican-Roman Catholic International Consultation published The Gift of Authority (reference in External Links) in 1998 and highlights agreements and differences on these issues.

External links

ultramontane in Czech: Ultramontanismus
ultramontane in Welsh: Trafynyddiaeth
ultramontane in German: Ultramontanismus
ultramontane in Spanish: Ultramontanismo
ultramontane in French: Ultramontanisme
ultramontane in Italian: Ultramontanismo
ultramontane in Dutch: Ultramontanisme
ultramontane in Japanese: ウルトラモンタニズム
ultramontane in Polish: Ultramontanizm
ultramontane in Portuguese: Ultramontanismo
ultramontane in Russian: Ультрамонтанство
ultramontane in Swedish: Ultramontanism
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