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ROBERT WILLIAM RADCLYFFE DOLLING (185...

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Originally appearing in Volume V08, Page 392 of the 1911 Encyclopedia Britannica.
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ROBERT WILLIAM RADCLYFFE DOLLING (1851–1902), English divine, known as Father Dolling, was born at Magheralin, Co. Down, and educated at Harrow and Cambridge. From 1878 to 1882 he was warden of one of the houses of the Postmen's League, started by Father Stanton of St Alban's, Holborn. He was ordained in 1883 to a curacy at Corscombe, Dorset, but resided in London as head of St Martin's mission, Stepney. In 1885 a difficulty as to the relation of his. mission to Holy Trinity parish, Stepney, led to his resignation, and he next accepted the charge of St Agatha's, Landport, the Winchester College mission. The remarkable reforms he accomplished there may be ascertained from his Ten years in a Portsmouth slum (London 1896). In 1885 he again resigned, owing to the bishop of Winchester's refusal to sanction the extreme ritual used in the service at St Agatha's. In 1897 he visited America, where his preaching made a great impression. He returned to England in the following year as vicar of St Saviour's, Poplar, and retained that living until his death. An account of Dolling's person and missionary work among the poor is given in The Life of Father Polling (London, 1903); by the the famous Syllabus, in which he declared war against modern science and progress (see SYLLABUS). It was in connexion with this question that Dellinger published his Past and Present of Catholic Theology (1863) and his Universities Past and Present (Munich, 1867). We now approach the critical period of Dellinger's life. It was about this time that some of the leading theologians of the Roman Catholic Church, conceiving that the best way of meeting present perils was to emphasize, as well as to define more clearly, the authority of the pope, advised him to make his personal infallibility a dogma of the Church, and urged strenuously on him the necessity of calling a council for that purpose. There was considerable opposition in various quarters. Many bishops and divines considered the proposed definition a false one. Others, though accepting it as the truth, declared its promulgation to be inopportune. But the headquarters of the opposition was Germany, and its leader was Dellinger, whose high reputation and vast stores of learning placed him far above any other member of the band of the theological experts who now gathered around him. Among them were his intimate friends Johann Friedrich (q.v.) and J. N. Huber, in Bavaria. In the rest of Germany he found many supporters, chiefly professors in the Catholic faculty of theology at Bonn: among these were the famous canonist von Schulte, Franz Heinrich Reusch, the ecclesiastical historian Joseph Langen, as well as J.H. Reinkens, afterwards bishop of the Old Catholic Church in Germany, Knoodt, and other distinguished scholars. In Switzerland, Professor Edward Herzog, who became Old (or, as it is sometimes called, Christ-) Catholic bishop in Switzerland, and other learned men supported the movement. Early in 1869 the famous Letters of Janus (which were at once translated into English; 2nd ed. Das Papsttum, 1891) began to appear. They were written by Dellinger in conjunction with Huber and Friedrich, afterwards professor at Munich. In these the tendency of the Syllabus towards obscurantism and papal despotism, and its incompatibility with modern thought, were clearly pointed out; and the evidence against papal infallibility, resting, as the Letters asserted, on the False Decretals, and accepted without controversy in an age of ignorance, was ably marshalled for the guidance of the council. When, on the 8th of December 1860, it had actually assembled, the world was kept informed of what was going on in the Letters of Quirinus, written by Dellinger and Huber while the debates of the council were proceeding. Some of these letters appeared in the German newspapers, and an English translation was published by Rivington. Augustin Theiner, the librarian at the Vatican, then in disgrace with the pope for his outspoken Liberalism, kept his German friends well informed of the course of the discussions. The proceedings of the council were frequently very stormy, and the opponents of the dogma of infallibility complained that they were not unfrequently interrupted, and that endeavours were made to put them down by clamour. The dogma was at length carried by an overwhelming majority, and the dissentient bishops, who—with the exception of two—had left the council before the final division, one by one submitted (see VATICAN COUNCIL). Dellinger, however, was not to be silenced. He headed a protest by forty-four professors in the university of Munich, and gathered together a congress at Nuremberg, which met in August 187o and issued a declaration adverse to theVatican decrees. An immense ferment took place. In Bavaria, where Dellinger's influence was greatest, the strongest determination to resist the resolutions of the council prevailed. But the authority of the council was held by the archbishop of Munich to be paramount, and he called upon Dellinger to submit. Instead of submitting, Dellinger, on the 28th of March 1871, addressed a memorable letter to the arch-bishop, refusing to subscribe the decrees. They were, he said, opposed to Holy Scripture, to the traditions of the Church for the first moo years, to historical evidence, to the decrees of the general councils, and to the existing relations of the Roman Catholic Church to the state in every country in the world. " As a Christian, as a theologian, as an historian, and as a citizen," he added, " I cannot accept this doctrine." The archbishop replied by excommunicating the disobedientprofessor. This aroused fresh opposition. Dellinger was almost unanimously elected rector-magnificus of the university of Munich, and Oxford, Edinburgh and Marburg universities conferred upon him the honorary degree of doctor of laws and Vienna that of philosophy. The Bavarian clergy invited Bishop Loos of the Jansenist Church in Holland, which for more than 15o years had existed independent of the Papacy and had adopted the name of " Old Catholic," to hold confirmations in Bavaria. The offer was accepted, and the bishop was received with triumphal arches and other demonstrations of joy. The three Dutch Old Catholic bishops declared themselves ready to consecrate a bishop, if it were desired. The momentous question was discussed at a meeting of the opponents of the Vatican decrees, and it was resolved to elect a bishop and ask the Dutch bishops to consecrate him. Dellinger, •however, voted against the proposition, and withdrew from any further steps towards the promotion of the movement. This was the critical moment in the history of the resistance to the decrees. Had Dellinger, with his immense reputation as a scholar, as a divine and as a man, allowed himself to be consecrated bishop of the Old Catholic Church, it is impossible to say how wide the schism would have been. But he declined to initiate a schism. His refusal lost Bavaria to the movement; and the number of Bavarian sympathizers was still further reduced when the seceders, in 1878, allowed their priests to marry, a decision which Dellinger, as was known, sincerely regretted. The Old Catholic Communion, however, was formally constituted, with Reinkens at its head as bishop, and it still continues to exist (see OLD CATHOLICS). Dellinger's attitude to the new community was not very clearly defined. It may be difficult to reconcile the two declarations made by him at different times: " I do not wish to join a schismatic society; I am isolated," and " As for myself, I consider that I belong by conviction to the Old Catholic community." The latter declaration was made some years after the former, in a letter to Pastor Widmann. The nearest approach to a reconciliation of the two statements would appear to be that while, at his advanced age, he did not wish to assume the responsibility of being head of a new denomination, formed in circumstances of exceptional difficulty, he was unwilling to condemn those who were ready to hazard the new departure. " By conviction " he belonged to the Old Catholics, but he never formally joined them. Yet at least he was ready to meet their leaders, to address them, and to discuss difficult problems with them. His addresses on the reunion of the Churches, delivered at the Bonn Conference of 1872, show that he was by no means hostile to the newly formed communion, in whose interests these conferences were held. In 1874 and again in 1875, he presided over the Reunion Conferences held at Bonn and attended by leading ecclesiastics from the British Isles and from the Oriental Church, among whom were Bishop Christopher Wordsworth of Lincoln; Bishop Harold Browne of Ely; Lord Plunket, arch-bishop of Dublin; Lycurgus, archbishop of Syros and Tenos; Canon Liddon; and Professor Ossinine of St Petersburg.. At the latter of these two conferences, when Dellinger was seventy-six years of age, he delivered a series of marvellous addresses in German and English, in which he discussed the -state of theology on the continent, the reunion question, and the religious condition of the various countries of Europe in which the Roman Catholic Church held sway. Not the least of his achievements on this occasion was the successful attempt, made with extraordinary tact, ability, knowledge and perseverance, to induce the Orientals, Anglicans and Old Catholics present to accept a formula, of con cord, drawn from the writings of the leading theologians of the Greek Church, on the long-vexed question of the Procession of the Holy Spirit. This result having been attained, he passed the rest of his days in retirement, emerging sometimes from his retreat to give addresses on theological questions, and also writing, in conjunction with his friend Reusch, his last book, Geschichte der Moralstreitigkeiten in der rbmisch-katholischen Kirche seit dem sechzehnten Jahrhundert mit Beitragen zur Geschichte and Charakteristik des Jesuitenordens (Nordlingen, 1889), in which he deals with the moral theology of St Alfonso de' Liguori. He died
End of Article: ROBERT WILLIAM RADCLYFFE DOLLING (1851–1902)
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