The First Vatican Council was the 20th ecumenical council called by the Catholic Church, convoked by Pope Pius IX on 29 June 1868. Several hundred ecclesiastical dignitaries, including our own Bishop Lynch, convened between 8 December 1869 and 20 October 1870 to discuss contemporary problems confronting the Catholic Church and to define matters of Church doctrine and practice.
|Engraving of First Vatican Council, c. 1870.
Source: Wikimedia Commons (original source unknown)
The Council had met only four times before political turmoil left the Holy Father with little choice but to prematurely suspend the Council. Italian Unification had been a looming problem for the Papal State since the 1860s, and the threat only deepened with outbreak of the Franco-Prussian War. The war prompted Napoleon III to recall his garrison from Rome before ultimately surrendering on September 2nd 1870. Without any protection from the French Empire, Rome was captured and annexed by the Kingdom of Italy on September 20, 1870.
Below is a papal statement made by Cardinal Paracciani Clarelli, Arch-Priest to St. Peter's Basilica, announcing the suspension of the Ecumenical Council on October 20, 1870. (ARCAT Papal Statement Collection, L PS53.01)
The seizure of Rome and the suspension of the Vatican Council were turning points in Roman Catholicism. The effects of these events certainly left their mark on the faithful in our Archdiocese; a newsclipping reveals that parishioners gathered at St Michael's Cathedral to form a public meeting and protest the injustices in Rome.
|Toronto Roman Catholics respond to the annexation of Rome.
Protest No. 4 speaks against the disruption to the Holy Father and the Ecumenical Council
Archbishop Lynch Fonds
Vatican Council I never reconvened after it was suspended, however it did have the significant accomplishment of defining the doctrine of papal infallibility. And, significant for us, it was also during Vatican I that Pope Pius IX raised Toronto to an Archdiocese, making Lynch Archbishop of Toronto.