Publication of Encyclical Testem Benevolentiae Nostrae - Timeline Event
Pope Leo XIII
In 1899, Pope Leo XIII issued the encyclical Testem Benevolentiae Nostrae, which was addressed to Cardinal James Gibbons of Baltimore and condemned the heresy of Americanism. The immediate cause of the encyclical was a French translation of a biography of American priest Isaac Hecker. Tensions between American and European church leaders, however, reached back further. Pope Leo criticized the supposed Americanist notions that the church should adapt to the times and that individual conscience should be the sole guide of people’s actions. The encyclical argued that Catholicism in the United States was not unique and that the church was changeless. Although not mentioned by name, it is evident that the theological and social thought of modernist-leaning clerics such as Isaac Hecker and John Ireland was being questioned by the Vatican. These modernists were quick to disclaim any of the condemned ideas, while their conservative opponents in the church praised the encyclical.
Browse Related Timeline Entries
Religious GroupsCatholicism (Western Liturgical Family): Other ARDA Links
Catholicism (Western Liturgical Family): Religious Family Tree
Related Dictionary TermsCardinal, Gibbons, James (1834-1921)
Pope Leo XIII portrait- Hathi Trust- from Pope Leo XIII by the Brooklyn Daily Eagle
Pope Leo XIII portrait- Internet Archive- from Life of Pope Leo XIII by Bernard O'Reilly
James Gibbons portrait- Library of Congress, LC-USZ62-63469
Book/Journal Source(s)Dolan, Jay P., 2002. In Search of an American Catholicism: A History of Religion and Culture in Tension New York: Oxford University Press.
Fogarty, Gerald P., S.J., 1999. Reflections on the Centennial of Testem Benevolentiae U.S. Catholic Historian 17, no. 1. (Notes: Pages 1-12).
Gleason, Philip, 1993. The New Americanism in Catholic Historiography U.S. Catholic Historian 11, no. 3. (Notes: Pages 1-18).
Web Page ContributorWilliam S. Cossen
Affliated with: Pennsylvania State University, Ph.D. in History