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The Catholics: General Assembly of the Catholic Associations of the Rhineland and Westphalia (1849)

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In opposition to this, the other side stated that the danger of the schism which one wished to avoid by excluding political questions would be more easily induced by such an exclusion, as experience in Cologne, Werden, and other places has already shown. The Pius Associations are actually not church-related associations. From the outset, they have admittedly, and as a matter of preference, taken on the task of maintaining and promoting religious freedom and freedom for the church. Nevertheless, they have also had to concern themselves with political questions so that they could give the people clear ideas and healthy judgment in regard them. Either one has to attempt to educate the people in Catholic political associations, where everyday questions are treated from a Catholic standpoint, or leave it up to the agitators, who would soon rob them [the people] of all religious and church principles. The people today want to participate in political discussions. If one does not grant any satisfaction to their need for instruction on contemporary political questions within the Pius Associations, they would soon steer clear of them and go over to other, "purely political" associations in which their Catholic convictions would necessarily be drowned out.

After listening to this report, matters proceeded to a discussion about the above-mentioned motion of Mr. Dieringer.

Mr. Dieringer as correspondent for the minority:

I appeal not to your hearts, gentlemen, but to your minds, and I hope for your good will, so that you follow me when I address a dry subject in prosaic language. At the outset I must emphasize that the motion does not read in such a way as to permit absolutely no political questions from being the concern of the Catholic associations. It would be out of the question to prevent regular meetings of the associations from dealing with political matters; we have nothing against individual members using clear insights there to contribute to instructing others about the political situation, [and] to impart specific and consistent views.

At the moment we are dealing with a principle: whether political questions should be a subject of the Pius Associations, whether the Pius Association should publicly admit to being a political association. The Pius Associations must be, as the name and their previous history imply, not political, but rather church-social welfare societies. It remains only to examine what stands in immediate proximity to their actual task. If the words church and state are to mean two different things, then the Pius Associations are not intended for politics; one has to take them as they are. The first Pius Congress held the [same] view that we have advanced concerning the subject of associations; the statute designates them as Catholic associations. They have not only found attention of the church, but also the approval of church authorities; the Holy Father himself has registered his approval, indeed owing to the statute. That the bishops have taken up patronage at this suggestion is a fact; the task of the Catholic associations is thereby a given.

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