I was just wondering about Bishop Strossmayer's speech, reportedly given during Vatican I (June 2). I read the speech, and was troubled by what sounded like lots of doctrinal problems within the Church. then I read the entry about him in the Catholic Encyclopedia, and became more troubled. According to what I read, the Church scholar making the report made a feeble attempt to make the reader believe it was a forgery proportedly given by a Latino priest. However, what stands out like bright headlights on a dark night is that the Church does not, repeate, does NOT deny that he gave the speech anywhere in those three paragraphs! Would you like to comment?

Len Lisenbee


Dear Len, I am not an historian, but I did do a little bit of Internet research after getting your email. The Strossmayer speech is interesting for a number of reasons:

1. Did Bishop Strossmayer actually give it? Or was it forged by former Carmelite priest, José Agustín de Escudero, as the Encyclopedia article suggests?

2. The Catholic Encylopedia does acknowledge that Strossmayer was opposed to the definition of papal infallibility. Others opposed that definition, including Cardinal Newman. However, his opposition was not because he did not think it was true, but because he felt it was inopportune. At any rate, all this indicates that the issues around papal infallibility were brought forward and debated at the Council. (Similarly, the Council of Nicaea had bishops who opposed the definition of Christ's full divinity - "God from God...begotten not made, one in being with Father.")

3. Whether it was a forgery or not, the document brings forward many arguments against papal primacy. Here is an article which discusses them and gives some responses: Regarding the specific charge that there is no evidence St. Peter died in Rome, see: James White vs. Jesus, Peter, and the Keys

I hope this is of some help. Prayers. Please also remember me in yours. God bless,

Fr. Bloom

P.S. If the speech is authentic, it would indicate a remarkable openness and tolerance on the part of the pope, especially in light of the fact Strossmayer continued to serve as bishop till his death in 1905, even receiving the pallium in 1898. Can you imagine a Soviet official attacking Marx & Lenin and then returning peacefully to his post, even receiving a promotion? P.P.S. The basic equivocation in the speech is a common one: arguing that because Peter did not have the later trappings of the papacy, he did not have the essence - primacy in teaching authority.

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