The term Kulturkampf is a German word, which refers to a series of legislation passed by Otto von Bismarck of Prussia in the 1870s. This legislation focused on silencing protests against the government from the Roman Catholic Church. From the year 1871 through 1878 Catholics felt as if they were being persecuted.
It was Bismarck’s intention to unify Prussia. This would be an incredibly hard task to undertake if religious parties such as the Catholics were to say as they wish. Bismarck went about his persecutions by passing laws such as these:
- All priests were taken off of the state payroll.
- Church’s no longer had control over schools.
- Church’s no longer had jurisdiction over marriage. Basically, marriage had to be supervised by the state.
- Any priest or bishop who protested could be put in prison.
- Religious orders such as, the Jesuits, the Franciscans, and the Dominicans were expelled.
- Also, the training and appointing of church clergy was to be controlled by the state. This one was a major blow to the independence of the church.
- Finally, Bismarck assembled a plan to work with other European Powers to rig papal elections. However, Bismarck’s plan did not come to fruition, as no one was willing to give Bismarck the support he needed.
Bismarck’s oppressive rule over religious orders was finally put down in 1877. A political party known as the Center Party won the majority of seats in the elections of that year. This Center Party had been sympathetic towards the Catholics since its foundation, thus Bismarck was forced to back off.