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Johann Nikolaus von Hontheim's Febronius: A Censored Bishop and His Ecclesiology

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image of Church History and Religious Culture

In the second half of the eighteenth century, the greatest enemy of the Roman Curia was no longer French Gallicanism but German Febronianism, since it challenged papal primacy. It gained its name from the pseudonymous author of the book, De statu Ecclesiae (1763). The author, auxiliary Bishop Johann Nikolaus von Hontheim, was immediately censored and later forced to sign a retraction. This essay will provide the first English synthesis and overview of the publishing history of this important work and its ecclesiology, as well as show how the Curia dealt with this dissident theologian.

Affiliations: 1: Marquette University, Theology, 100 Coughlin Hall, PO Box 1881, USA – Milwaukee, WI 53208;, Email:


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