First Vatican Council


Vatican I was the first ecumenical council held after the achievement of American independence (in fact, the first since Trent in the 16th century). As a group, the bishops from the United States were unenthusiastic supporters of the council's main accomplishment, the definition of papal infallibility. Most were "inopportunists" who, observing the suspicion towards the Church that characterized many of their non-Catholic countrymen, thought that the time was not right for such a pronouncement. Archbishop Peter Kenrick of St. Louis was a leading opponent of the declaration of infallibility, though he later accepted the ruling of the council.

Source: James Hennesey, SJ, American Catholics: A History of the Roman Catholic Community in the United States. New York: Oxford University Press, 1981.


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