Bishop Strossmayer's Speech and Apologetics

When I published Croatian Archbishop Josip Strossmayer's speech arguing against papal infallibility before the council at Vatican I, I did not anticipate the flurry of Catholic responses the post would generate. By far, most of the attempts to deny that such a speech had been delivered before Pope Pius IX and the bishops and others gathered for Ecumenical Council XX. And most were word-for-word lifted from one of those pre-canned online apologetics sites that Catholics ddraw from to defend their lack of knowledge and understanding of things Catholic. The following is an example of the nature of these interactions:

Unfortunately for you, you fail to realize that this speech which you have pasted onto this site has been proven-- on the official level-- a forgery and is recognized as such by theologians and historians alike. None of its content is valid, none is authentic. Thank you.

This Catholic apologist, in common with just about all the others who have come here to counter articles and allegations exposing Rome's lies and heresies, makes bold assertions but provides no documentation.

I provided support for his article by citing the words of a well-respected Roman Catholic source. You, on the other hand, appear to wish us to disregard my argumments and what KLEMENS LÖFFLER (the person who wrote the article that appeared in the Catholic Encyclopedia) wrote. And you would have us lose trust in the worth of the Nihil Obstat issued, in this instance by Remy Lafort, S.T.D., Censor, and also the Imprimitur of John Cardinal Farley, Archbishop of New York? Most of those who post to this board, at least the Christians, understand that neither the Nihil Obstat nor the Imprimitur attest to the accuracy of the information contained in documents bearing these seals. On the other hand, they do assure the reader that the documents teach nothing that contradicts Rome's official teaching. In other words, the Catholic Encyclopedia, edition of 1913, with all its included articles, was approved for publication by senior officials of the Roman Catholic Church. And YOU would have us and all the world disregard all this simply because you claim that some unnamed person, in some unnamed position, has proved the speech a forgery? Give me break!

You go on to assert, again without providing names or source documents, that theologians and historians alike recognize the speech to be a forgery. Sir, I study history and theology, which makes me something of a historian and theologian and, I assure you, I do not consider the speech to be a forgery.

I hate to burst your bubble, but your unsupported opinion and a few bucks will get you a cup of mocha java at Starbucks. Why not get yourself a cup and take it with you to the Religion stacks nearby Barnes & Noble book store? While there, you can sip your coffee and do a little research. Who knows? If you look hard enough, you may just come up with something meaningful to post in rebuttal. I doubt it, but it could happen.

To help you with your research project, assuming you are sufficiently interested to actually attempt to verify your allegations, let me point you to a near-contemporary source where you might find the full text of Bishop Strossmayer's speech - the one you claim was never made. Take a little cybertrip to Hawaii and visit Michael Scheifler's pages. Specifically, I recommend you take a look at this page

There, you will be treated to the words from that speech that was never made, taken from "an Italian version published in Florence, reprinted from "The Bible Treasury" No. 195, August 1872, pamphlet published by Loizeaux Brothers, Publishers, 19 West 21st Street, New York." (Michael Scheifler, Op. cit..)

Scheifler, who really does his homework, then provides an excerpt from a speech prepared by American Archbishop Peter Kenrick, which also was to be presented during Vatican I. Kenrick, in common with Strossmayer, also opposed defining papal infallibility as a dogma of the RCC. Before Kendrick could say his piece, time ran out for debate. This did not prevent the content of the speech from being made available, for it was printed and distributed to the delegates.

Now, should you or any other pseudo-apologist for Rome choose to deny that any Archbishop Kendrick had prepared or distributed any such speech at Vatican I, I urge you to check out the source document Mr. Scheifler lists:

Source: Peter Richard Kenrick, Speech of, in An Inside View of the Vatican Council, ed. by Leonard Woolsey Bacon (New York: American Tract Society, [1872]), pp. 107-109. The original of this famous speech is found in Documenta ad Illustrandum Concilium Vaticanum, part 1, pages 189-226. A translation of it is found in An Inside View of the Vatican Council, issued by the American Tract Society, New York, pages 95-166. (Michael Scheifler, Op. cit..)

Writing in The Christian Activist, in an article entitled FLORENCE 2000? An Open Letter To All Roman Catholics and Orthodox On The State of Rome and Orthodoxy, Orthodox priest, Father Alexey Young, had a few things to say about Vatican I and papal infallibility and, wonder of wonders, Bishop Strossmayer:

"Among Catholics today it is a little known fact that as late as the nineteenth century many Roman Catholic bishops still understood the jurisdiction of the pope in the same way as did the early Church. When Pope Pius IX sought the mantle of infallible supremacy at the First Vatican Council in 1870, Bishop Joseph Georg Strossmayer said:

I do not find one single chapter, or one little verse [of Scripture] in which Jesus Christ gives to St. Peter the mastery over the Apostles, his fellow-workers. . . . What has surprised me most, and what moreover is capable of demonstration, is the silence of St. Peter himself!"[Fahey sourced that statement with: Hasler, August Bernhard, How the Pope Became Infallible]

"This was an important statement, for the popes had always claimed that they are the sole and legitimate successors of St. Peter. But if St. Peter did not possess or exercise authority over the other apostles, then all of the papal claims collapse. Strossmayer's view exactly agrees with the understanding of the early Church, both East and West. In the same statement he continued:

The Councils of the first four centuries, while they recognized the high position which the Bishop of Rome occupied in the Church on account of Rome, only accorded to him a preeminence of honor, never of power or of jurisdiction. In the passage, 'Thou art Peter and on this rock I will build My Church,' the holy Fathers never understood that the Church was built on Peter (super Petrum), but on the rock (super petrum) of the Apostle's confession of faith" in the divinity of Jesus Christ.

Fahey had this comment as a footnote to the latter paragraphs from Strossmayer's speech:

"Bishop Strossmayer was only one of several Roman bishops that refused to accept the dogma of Papal Infallibility. In 1871 he wrote to a friend that he would rather die than accept this false teaching, adding: "Better to be exposed to every humiliation than to bend my knee to Baal, to arrogance incarnate." But apparently the humiliations and threats imposed on him by Rome proved, after ten long years, too much to oppose. He finally submitted to the new teaching in 1881."

You can read all of Fathery Fahey's article at:

Okay, Mr. Roman Catholic apologist, I sourced the statement to which you are responding. Yet you said this information was invalid, without providing anything in support of your statement.

I have responded to your lame attempt at refutation, and I have provided additional source information.

Now it's your turn. Show us what you've got

This is what he came up with, citing the Catholic Encyclopedia:

Afterwards another speech, delivered apparently on 2 June, 1870, was imputed to him. It is full of heresies and denies not only infallibility but also the primacy of the pope. The forger is said to have been a former Augustinian, a Mexican named Dr. Jose Agustin de Escudero.z

What does this have to do with anything? I did not ,ention this 'other speech' that was falsely attributed to Strossmayer. Whether it was false or not, and I am willing to accept that it may have been, this does nothing to refute my assertion that Strossmayer spoke against papal infallibility at Vatican I.

Please note the operative words in the quotation from the Catholic Encyclopedia that you provide:

Afterwards another speech, delivered apparently on 2 June, 1870, was imputed to him.

Did you get that AFTERWORDS ANOTHER? This 'other speech is said to be the Mexican forgery, NOT the speech Jim cited.

Sheesh! There are times I wonder if they still teach reading in schools attended by Roman Catholic wannabe apologists.

Here are a few other sources dealing with that speech that was never given: 1.

Evangelical Outreach on Papal Infallibility

Gladstone, The Vatican Decrees, 1874

Gladstone on Rome and the Newest Fashions in Religion

Ian Paisley, Errors of Rome: Papal Infallibility

A blinding-leading-the-blind Catholic view of infallibility

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