EMS, CONGRESS OF.
Papal Nunciature in Munich (§ 1).
The Ems Agreement (Emser Punctation) (§ 2).
Further Complications (§ 3).
The Outcome (§ 4).
The Congress of Ems was a meeting of representatives of the archbishops of Mainz, Treves, Cologne, and Salzburg held at Ems (or Bad Ems, a watering-place of Hesse-Nassau, 5 m. s.e. of Coblenz) in 1786, prompted by the prevalent desire of the higher clergy in Germany to shake off their depressing dependence on the curia. This desire was stimulated to new life in 1763 by the book of Johann Nikolaus von Hontheim (q.v.), suffragan bishop of Treves, published under the pseudonym of Justinus Febronius, and a tendency to action manifested itself in1764 in a document of the spiritual electors of Mainz, Treves, and Cologne, in which they besought the imperial protection. Further negotiations followed and in 1770 they addressed new requests to Joseph II. (the so-called "Coblenz Articles"; cf. Stigloher, ut inf. 257-260), aiming at a decided restriction of papal power in German affairs. When, however, the emperor refused to intervene in Rome, the whole matter came to a standstill, only to be taken up again with livelier interest when a plan of establishing a papal nunciature in Munich came out.
1. Papal Nunciature in Munich. From 1771 Elector Karl Theodor united under his rule Bavaria, the Palatinate, and the duchies of Jülich and Berg, which are situated on the Lower Rhine. As these territories were subject in ecclesiastical matters to different bishops, who as estates of the empire were coordinate with the elector, the condition of affairs was disagreeable to him; and as the resultant difficulties could be obviated in no other way, he applied to the Roman curia, which conceded in 1785 the establishment of a permanent nunciature in Munich. The news of this made an extraordinary sensation, because the existing nunciatures in Vienna (since 1581), Cologne (1582), and Luzerne (1586) had proved troublesome because of their interference with episcopal jurisdiction, and because the bishops formerly competent in Bavaria and the Palatinate suffered serious encroachments by the new step. These bishops were: Prince Bishop Count Colloredo of Salzburg; Prince Bishop Baron von Welden of Freising; the Elector of Mainz, Friedrich von Erthal, who at the same time administered the Prince bishopric of Worms; the Elector of Treves, Prince Wenzeslaus of Saxony, who was also Prince Bishop of Augsburg; and finally the Elector of Cologne, Franz of Austria, the brother of the Emperor Joseph II. After unsuccessfully petitioning the curia, the elector of Mainz, with the consent of the other archbishops, handed in a complaint to the emperor as the supreme protector of the Church, and the latter caused a declaration to be made in Rome, that he could not permit that the archbishops and bishops of the German empire should be disturbed in the diocesan rights which had been given to them by God and by the Church; in other words, that he would recognize the papal nuncios merely as delegates for political affairs and matters pertaining to the pope as the supreme head of the Church, but that he could concede to them no jurisdiction whatever. But the curia did not allow itself to be put off by this protest; in May, 1786, there appeared as nuncio in Munich Count Zoglio, Archbishop of Athens; at the same time the nunciature at Cologne was newly filled with Bartholomæus Pacca, archbishop of Damiate, in the place of Monsignor Bellisomi. Zoglio was brilliantly received at the Bavarian Court; Pacca was not even given an audience by the elector of Cologne. All the German archbishops refused to recognize the two nuncios, but nevertheless the latter began at once to make use of their commissions.
2. The Ems Agreement (Emser Punctation). The archbishops of Mainz, Treves, and Cologne did not remain inactive. The Congress of Ems followed, and its result was the "Ems Agreement" (Emser Punktation, cf. Mirbt, Quellen, 326-328), which was signed on Aug. 25, 1786, and at once ratified by the bishops and sent to Joseph II. The subscribers declared therein:
The Roman Pope is and always remains the supreme overseer (Oberaufseher) and primate of the whole Church, the center of unity, and has been equipped by God with the jurisdiction requisite thereto. All Roman Catholics must always yield him canonical obedience with full reverence. But all the other advantages and reservations which were not connected with this primacy in the first centuries, but arose from the later Isidorian Decretals to the manifest detriment of the bishops, can no longer be included in the sphere of this jurisdiction, because the forged nature of the Decretals is now universally recognized. These are to be classed rather as usurpations on the part of the Roman curia, and, especially because none of the remonstrances hitherto made at the Roman curia has been of effect, the bishops are authorized to reinstate themselves, under the supreme protection of his Imperial Majesty, in the exercise of the power committed to them by God.
Then the archbishops made the following propositions for reform: all persons living within the limits of a diocese should henceforward without exception be subject to its bishop. Therefore appeals to Rome which neglect the bishop should no longer be allowed; exemptions, with certain stated exceptions, should cease; the monastic clergy should be forbidden to render obedience to foreign generals and superiors. The bishop should have the right to grant dispensations from commandments of abstinence and from matrimonial impediments, and also to absolve the monastic clergy from their vows. At the same time limitation of the impediments to marriage and postponement of the age for taking vows was proposed. The bishop should also be empowered to modify philanthropic trusts. In future facultates quinquennales should no longer be sought of the Roman court. The bulls, briefs, and other papal regulations, as well as the decisions of the Roman congregations, should not have binding force until accepted by the bishops. The nunciatures in the form in which they had hitherto existed should cease. It was further attempted to insure the independence of the bishop in filling ecclesiastical positions. The procedure in regard to the "information" (processes informativus) of new bishops should be altered; the oath which the bishop had formerly rendered to the pope as his vassal should be replaced by a formula in accordance with episcopal rights. The annates and the moneys paid on receipt of the pallium should be reduced, and if the pope should therefore refuse his confirmation, the archbishops and bishops should nevertheless perform the functions of office. In spiritual jurisdiction the court of first instance is that of the bishop, the second that of the archbishop, the third is the Roman See, the nunciatures being entirely left out; provision is made, moreover, that national judges should pronounce the verdict even in Rome. At the close, the archbishops declare that, as soon as they are put in possession of the rights which belonged to them, they will take up the improvement of ecclesiastical discipline, and better organization for the cure of souls and for religious establishments and cloisters. Moreover, the emperor, as the supreme head of the empire, is requested to demand of the curia that the council which had been promised in the Concordat of Aschaffenburg (see CONCORDATS AND DELIMITING BULLS, III, 1, § 2) or at least a national council, should be convened.
The answer of the emperor was kindly; he even showed readiness to help; but he advised the archbishops above all to come to an understanding with the bishops under them. This advice was at once adopted, but it was too late. The German bishops felt aggrieved because they had not been admitted to the consultation at Ems, and even though some of them were won over, a part held entirely aloof. This opposition of the bishops found its leader and spokesman in Count Limburg-Styrum, prince bishop of Speyer, who came out in public with his criticism of the resolutions of Ems and thereby started lengthy literary discussions on both sides.
3. Further Complications. The contest between the archbishops and the nuncios had broken out at the close of 1786. Zoglio had appointed a provost in Düsseldorf, internuncio for Jülich and Berg; and Pacca granted a matrimonial dispensation regardless of an objection made by the elector of Cologne. As the latter, like the electors of Treves and Mainz, granted certain matrimonial dispensations in degrees not covered by their quinquennial faculties, Pacca sent on Nov. 30, 1786, a circular to all priests and general vicariates, declaring the invalidity of these dispensations. Then the archbishops of Cologne, Treves, and Mainz gave all their priests the command to return this circular to the sender. In this they were supported by the emperor. The Imperial Council in Vienna published two decrees in which Pacca's action was designated as unseemly and improper and his circular was formally declared invalid. The elector of the Palatinate was, moreover, directed not to concede any jurisdiction to the nuncio Zoglio, and also to prohibit the internuncio appointed by him from executing the orders given by the nuncio. But the elector of the Palatinate objected strongly to this censure, and demanded of the priests of the diocese of Worms that, under penalty of confiscation of their temporalia, they should at once return the archiepiscopal order which had demanded their sending back the circular of the nuncio. He also required that they should accept no directions from the archiepiscopal vicariate without his consent, and laid claim to the power to receive a nuncio as one of his rights as sovereign and made it known to the emperor that his territorial rights might be limited by imperial legislation but not by decrees of the Imperial Council. Zoglio now appointed, with the encouragement of the elector, a subdelegate in Heidelberg.
Still greater dangers for the German archbishops arose among themselves. In 1785 the German "League of Princes" (Fürstenbund) had been formed. Its existence was in danger, if on the death of the aged and invalid archbishop of Mainz, Friedrich von Erthal, his successor did not sustain his policy. Under these circumstances Prussia undertook to play the part of mediator in the contest between the elector of Mainz and the curia, and a secret arrangement was made that Theodor von Dalberg, the candidate preferred by Prussia and agreeable to the cathedral chapter of Mainz, should be recognized by the pope as the successor of the elector. This agreement also stated that both the elector and Dalberg promised to remain true to the union; but both took upon themselves as well the obligation of not putting the resolution of the Congress of Ems into execution. On June 5, 1787, Dalberg was chosen coadjutor archbishop of Mainz. In pursuance of this arrangement he openly abandoned the ground taken in the Ems agreement, petitioned in Rome for the renewal of the quinquennial faculties, and raised no objection when the nuncio in Cologne was commissioned to undertake his episcopal examination (processus informativus).
The other bishops also appeared to be more peaceably inclined. Then Pius VI. adopted a measure which provoked great excitement; in a brief of Nov. 6, 1787, he granted the petition of the elector of the Bavarian Palatinate to take a tithe of the incomes of the ecclesiastical property throughout the whole extent of his territories. This concession was all the more important because it was to last ten years and the nuncio in Munich was ordered to collect the tithe and commissioned to punish with all censures, and even with excommunication, those who refused the payment, and, if necessary, to depose them from their offices and benefices. All the German archbishops were affected by this order; Mainz, in the diocese of Worms; Cologne, in the duchies of Jülich and Berg; Treves, in Augsburg; Salzburg, in his Bavarian territories.
This procedure on the part of the curia, to be sure, caused the elector of Mainz to return to the side of the other archbishops, and induced them to approach the emperor again in order to obtain action against the nuncios. With their assent an imperial court decree was issued, which referred to the Diet of Regensburg the controverted question whether nuncios with jurisdiction should be tolerated in Germany. But not even the archbishops earnestly intended to bring about a decision at the diet; they only wished to put pressure on the curia. The negotiations were without issue and finally the archbishops decided to take the advice which had been given them and preferably to reach an understanding with the curia directly; but their efforts in Rome met with no success. The answer which finally came to them, dated Nov. 14, 1789, was in the form of a brief, which was a memorial filling three hundred and thirty-six quarto pages. Therein the pope insisted upon all his demands in their full scope.
4. The Outcome. The curia had made no mistake in its calculations. Under the pressure of the revolutionary trend of the times, which proceeded from France, the opposition of the German archbishops collapsed. The electors fled from their capitals in 1792 when the French General Custine drew near. The abolition of the ecclesiastical principalities, ordered in 1803, together with the still more potent factor of the rise of Ultramontanism, have saved the nineteenth century papacy from a resurrection in power of the ideas of 1786.
The defeat of the German archbishops may be explained on many grounds. It was disadvantageous for them that public opinion, which backed them at the start, soon turned from them and became interested in other things; but the lamentable issue of the controversy was chiefly the result of the character of the opposition movement itself. To be sure, motives of religion and of ecclesiastical reform were not entirely wanting; considerations of German national feeling were not lacking; but primarily the archbishops most heartily desired to benefit their own interests as archbishops and territorial sovereigns--interests in the assertion of which they were hindered by the extension of the papal power. As a result the contest soon took on essentially the character of politics or of church politics. Thereby they lost the support which the sympathy of the Roman Catholic population and clergy might have given them; thereby the harmony of the archbishops themselves suffered. The curia owed its victory to the attitude of the German bishops, who felt themselves threatened by an increase of archiepiscopal power, to the energetic action of the Bavarian Palatinate, and to the emperor's inadequate support of the archbishops; and last, not least, to the commencement of the revolutionary period and to the circumstance that the entire development of post-Reformation Catholicism was on the side of the curia.
Bibliography: Resultat des Eraser Kongresses, Frankfort, 1787; F. K. von Moser, Geschichte der päpstlichen Nuntien in Deutschland, ib. 1788; Historische Denkwürdig-keiten des Kardinals ... Pacca, Augsburg, 1832; E. von Münch, Geschichte des Emser Kongresses, Carlsruhe, 1840; M. Stigloher, Die Errichtung der päpstlichen Nuntiatur in München and der Emser Kongress, Regensburg, 1867; O. Meier, Febronius, Tübingen, 1880; H. Brück, Geschichte der katholischen Kirche im 19. Jahrhundert, part i., Mainz, 1902.