1847 Agreement between the Holy See and Russia
Diplomacy of Pius IX
Upon his election to the papacy, Pope Pius IX (1846–1878) inherited difficult relations with Russia from his predecessor Pope Gregory XVI. The Catholic Church was severely limited in its possibilities within Russia. This was significant, because, in addition to Eastern Catholics, large Latin Catholic populations existed in the Lithuanian and Polish provinces under the Tsar.
The Pope appointed Cardinal Luigi Lambruschini to begin negotiations with the Russian empire with the aim of establishing better relations and increased freedom of action. Russia rejected the term "concordat" with the Pope as a name for the agreement.
Aspects of the agreement
The agreement, which included 37 articles., allowed the Church to create eight new dioceses in Russia proper and Lithuania (Vilnius), while the Polish dioceses continued without change. New seminaries were established and the Russian empire guaranteed the financing of Church activities in an agreed upon sum of 104,480 rubles annually. Bishops were to be appointed by mutual agreement. They were authorized to preside over Church courts, determine seminary education.
Bishops could not intervene in marital or economic matters, which were to be determined by diocesan consistories consisting of several Catholic priests. The agreement of the State authorities was required for the appointment of Catholic parish priests. Their salaries were to be paid by the parishes or, if these were unable, by the Russian state.
Situation of the Church in Russia
Russian Catholics consisted of Lithuanians, Armenians, Ruthenians and Poles, which were the majority. Since 1795, Poland was partitioned among Russia, Prussia and Austria-Hungary. Austria-Hungary was a Catholic empire and therefore, Polish Church and Polish Catholics were able to fully live their faith. In Orthodox Russia, Catholics experienced discrimination and persecution: Russification was enforced together with efforts to separate priests and faithful from their Church.
Short-lived freedoms undermined by Church rivals
Relations with Russia were always difficult because of rivalries with the Russian Orthodox Church. The short-lived freedoms were undermined by jealousies of the rival Orthodox Church, Polish political aspirations in the occupied lands, which used the Church as cover and vehicle, and the tendency of imperial Russia, to act most brutally against any dissension.
- Schmidlin, II, pp 213-216
- Acti Pii I, 110
- Acti Pii I, 110-113
- Micewski 3