Action Alert!

Catholic Dictionary




A system of Church-State relations developed by Johann Nikolaus von Hontheim (1701-90), Auxiliary Bishop of Trier, under the pseudonym Justinus Febronius. Influenced by Gallicanism, Hontheim advocated the subordination of ecclesiastical organizations to the State, taught that Christ entrusted Church authority not to the Pope or bishops directly but only through the body of the faithful, denied papal infallibility, and claimed that the primacy was not attached to the See of Peter. The Pope, according to Hontheim, should be subject to the bishops; and national churches, subject to the State, should be created throughout the Catholic world. Pope Clement XIII condemned Hontheim in 1764. Among civil rulers who sought to implement Febronianism were Joseph II of Austria (1741-90) and Leopold II of Tuscany (1797-1870).