VATICAN COUNCIL, or COUNCIL OF THE VATICAN, the only plenary council of the Roman Catholic Church held since the Council of Trent in 1563. In June 1867 Cardi nal Caterine sent a circular letter to the 500 bishops present in Rome at the celebration of the 18th centenary of the martyrdom of Saints Peter and Paul, inviting their replies relative to questions on points of discipline and other matters to be brought up in the proposed council. In September 1868 an invitation to attend the approaching Council was sent to Oriental bishops not in communion with the Roman Catholic Church, and to 'Protestants and non-Catholics.° The bull of convocation was promulgated on 29 June 1869, appointing 8 Dec. 1869, as the day of meeting. A few days before the latter date, on 27 November, Pius IX issued the brief, Multiplices inter, pre scribing the mode of conciliar procedure.
The Council, which assembled on the ap pointed day, 8 Dec. 1869, was the largest ever held, 749 cardinals, bishops, abbots and generals of religious orders being present, or nearly three-fourths of the Roman Catholic episcopate. The number was afterward increased to 764. The invitation to non-Catholics and others not in communion with Rome brought no response in the form of attendance. The Italian bishops numbered 170 and the Spaniards 40. On 10 De cember, at the first congregation of the Council, a bull was published decreeing that if the Pope should die during the Council, that body should at once be prorogued, and take no part in the election of a pontiff, which duty was to rest with the College of Cardinals. Petitions were signed by many prelates, members of religious orders and lay Catholics, asking for the definition by the Council* of the dogma of papal infallibility.
At the second session, 6 Jan. 1870, all the members present recited the Creed of Pius IV pledging loyal obedience to the Roman Pontiff, and took the episcopal oath. The Cardinals president of the congregation, on 20 February, issued rules which should govern the debates of the Council, and the °Constitution on the Faith," known as Dei Filius, was formulated and adopted. It is chiefly directed against modern rationalism. All the 667 members present signed this Constitution, and it was pro mulgated at the third session, 24 April 1870, with papal confirmation.
Next followed the most important work of the Council, a decision that should put an end to all discussion on the subject of papal in fallibility, already accepted as a dogma by the vast majority of the Church. The Constitu tion now generally known as Pastor iEternus asserted the following propositions: (1) That a proper primacy of jurisdiction over the whole Church was conferred upon Saint Peter di rectly and singly, and not mediately through any delegation to him, as chief minister of the Church, of a primacy held by the Church cor porately; (2) that this Petrine primacy vests only by divine institution and right in the line of Roman pontiffs; (3) that the Pope's juris diction is immediate in all churches — that is, he is the universal ordinary, the actual bishop of every see (all other bishops being merely his curates and deputies), and is not a remote or merely appellate authority — so that in questions not of faith and morals alone, but of discipline and government also, all the faithful, of whatever rite or dignity, both pastors and laity, are bound, individually and collectively, to submit themselves thereto; (4) that it is unlawful to appeal from the judgments of the Roman pontiffs to an oecumenical council, as though to a higher authority; and (5) that the Roman pontiff, when he speaks ex cathedra and defines a doctrine of faith or morals to be held by the universal Church, is infallible, and such definitions are accordingly irreformable of themselves and not from the consent of the Church. This document was voted upon, 13
July 1870. Of the 671 members present 451 voted directly in the affirmative, 62 voted placer just° modunt, signifying approval with certain changes of expression, and 88 voted non-placet, but of these many objected not to the essence of the dogma, but to the time—one of great agitation in the political world —as inoppor tune for declaring it. After discussion the newly-defined dogma was adopted at a public session, held 18 July 1870, when 535 voted in the affirmative and only two, the bishops of Ajaccio and Little Rock, Ark., answered "non placet," these afterward joining in unanimous adoption. The Pope confirmed the action of the Council, and on 20 Oct. 1870 the Council was formally prorogued, instead of being dis solved. It is, therefore, technically still in ex istence. The year in which papal infallibility was declared to be a dogma of Roman Catholic faith witnessed the downfall of the Pope's tem poral power, the Italian government having taken possession of Rome, 20 Sept. 1870, and Rome being proclaimed the capital of Italy, 9 Oct. 1870. See CATHOLIC CHURCH ; PAPACY, and consult Arthur, William,