Ems Congress

Ems Congress a meeting of plenipotentiaries of the archbishops of Mentz, Cologne, Treves, and Salzburg, held in the watering-place of Ems, in August 1786, for the purpose of defining the rights belonging to bishops and archbishops, and of opposing the exorbitant demands of the papal nuncio. The agreement which was arrived at, and which consists of 23 articles, is called the Ems Punctation. The archbishops of Germany, as well as the emperors, had long been dissatisfied with the endeavors made by the popes, under the pretext of securing the execution of the decrees of the Council of Trent, to steadily enlarge the rights of papal nuncios and legates in Germany at the expense of the bishops. A serious conflict was brought on by the elector Karl Theodor of Bavaria, who, in order to supersede as much as possible the episcopal jurisdiction of other princes of the empire, such as the archbishops of Salzburg and Cologne, over his subjects, induced the Pope to appoint a papal nuncio at the court of Munich. The archbishop of Salzburg in 1785 requested the archbishop of Mentz, as primate of the German Catholic Church, to avert the new danger threatening the authority of the archbishops. The primate remonstrated in Rome, and his example was soon followed by the bishops of Eichstidt and Freising. But Pope Pius VI declared that the new nuncio in Munich, Zoglio, would be clothed with the same authority which had heretofore been exercised by the nuncio in Cologne. The archbishops of Mentz and Salzburg appealed to the emperor Joseph II for aid against this encroachment of the Pope upon their rights. The emperor replied, October 12, 1785, that the Pope would at once be notified that the emperor would never allow an infringement upon the diocesan rights of the German bishops. Nevertheless, the new nuncio Zoglio made his appearance in Munich in March 1786; informed all archbishops and bishops whose dioceses embraced part of Bavaria of his arrival; exercised all the prerogatives which the Pope claimed for his nuncios; and even appointed a subnuncio at Dusseldorf. The archbishop of Cologne remonstrated against these proceedings to the emperor, and the latter ordered the elector Karl Theodor to forbid the nuncio the further exercise of functions which did not belong to him. At the same time, the archbishops of Cologne, Treves, Mentz, and Salzburg forbade their subjects to receive any orders from the nuncios of Munich and Cologne. In order to organize a combined resistance to the papal encroachments, the archbishop of Mentz invited the archbishops of Cologne, Treves, and Salzburg to send deputies to a congress to be held at Ems. The invitation was accepted, and accordingly the Ems congress met in August 1786. It was composed of the assistant bishop Heimes, of Mentz, the official Beckt of Treves, the official Von Tautphaeus, of Cologne, and the consistorial councillor Bonike, of Salzburg. These deputies, on the 25th of August, agreed upon the Ems Punctation, the most important points of which are the following:

1. All those papal prerogatives and reservations which were unknown in the first centuries, but derived from the pseudo-Isidorian decretals, must now be abandoned.

2. The bishops, having, received from Christ the power to bind and to loose, the persons living within their dioceses must not pass over their immediate ecclesiastical superiors in order to have recourse to Rome. No exemptions must any more be allowed except such as have been confirmed by the emperors. The members of monastic orders are forbidden to receive any orders from their generals, or any superiors living outside of Germany.

3. As the bishops have the power to grant dispensations, the so-called facultates quinquennales shall no longer be asked from the papal court; and the bulls, briefs, and rescripts of the popes, as well as all the declarations, rescripts, and orders of the Roman congregations, shall not be received in Germany without their express recognition by the bishops.

4. The nuncios shall have no ecclesiastical jurisdiction, but shall be merely ambassadors of the Pope.

The Punctation, signed by the four archbishops, was sent to the emperor Joseph, who assured the archbishops of his assistance, but also declared, perhaps influenced by the nuncio Caprara at Vienna, that the execution would depend upon an agreement between the archbishop on the one hand, and the exempts, the suffragan bishops, and the government on the other. The papal party, in the mean while, endeavored to excite the jealousy of the bishops against the four archbishops, charging the latter with an intention of extending their rights at the expense of those of the bishops. The archbishop of Mentz was in particular charged with a desire to establish a primatical authority over all archbishops and bishops of Germany. Among the bishops who came forward to attack the Punctation, those of Spires, Hildesheim, and Wurzburg were prominent. Soon particular interests caused disagreement among the signers of the Punctation. The archbishop of Mentz approached the Pope with a request to have baron von Dalberg appointed his coadjutor; the archbishop of Treves (1787) appealed to Rome for a renewal of the facultates quinquennales; and finally, in 1789, all the four archbishops declared that they desired a settlement of the controversy, and that they recognized the right of the Pope to send nuncios and to grant dispensations. The literature on the Congress and the Punctation of Ems is very copious. The results of the congress were at once published in the work Resultate des Emser Congresses (Francf. 1787) [also in Die neuesten Grundlagen der deutsch- kath. Kirchen-Vefassung, Stuttgardt, 1821]. The official reply of Rome is entitled Responsio ad Metropolitanos Mogunt. Trevir. Colon. et Salisb. super Nuntiaturis (Rome, 1789). See also Neudecker, in Herzog, Real- Encyklop. 3:784; Munich, Gesch. des Emser Congresses; Pacca (papal nuncio at Cologne), Histor. Denkuiirdigkeiten (Augsburg, 1832); Stigloher, Die Errichtung der pabstl. Nuntiatur in, Munchen und der Emser Congress (Ratisbon, 1866). (A.J.S.)

Topical Outlines Nave's Bible Topics International Standard Bible Encyclopedia Online King James Bible King James Dictionary

Verse reference tagging and popups powered by VerseClick™.