The German Catholicism - or German Catholic movement - was one since the mid- 1840s, external in the states of the German Confederation active for several years religio- political movement that was directed against the perceived by their followers as rigid and reactionary dogmatism of traditional Christian denominations and their occasion of the protest against the exhibition of so-called saints Rocks by Bishop Wilhelm Arnoldi 1844 in Trier was. She was an opposition in their time of publication of the late Vormarz time and influenced by the ideals of social liberalism, which sought the establishment of a pan- German nation-state. After the failure of the March Revolution of 1848/49 it was increasingly exposed to persecution of conservative principalities. From the German Catholicism and the Protestant originally light friends the Free Religious movement was born.
After the accession of King Frederick William IV of Prussia changed the relationship between state and church. Visible expression was the Trier pilgrimage of 1844 for " Holy Rock", for the throne and altar the condition and organization of this mass movement created, the half a million pilgrims resulted within 50 days in a remarkable discipline to Trier and the parade to the exhibit over.
The suspended Silesian priest Johannes Ronge protested in a call to publicly against the " idolatrous feast" and turned on this occasion against the " tyrannical power of the Roman hierarchy ." Ronge liked in the eyes of Catholics in the role of a second Martin Luther, but found amazing response. The movement initiated by him declared the rationalistic interpreted Bible as the only standard, rejected the Church's Magisterium and the papal primacy, abolished the veneration of saints, confession, celibacy and the traditional liturgy shapes and recognized only baptism and communion as sacraments. The rationalist conception of the Enlightenment and anti Roman flow reservations against the tough Catholic stance on the intermarriage practice contributed to the fact that the German - Catholicism underwent a short while, but at first enthusiastic acceptance.
Development of the German Catholic communities
The church foundations were an expression of social protest, which was religiously motivated and justified Christian. Centers were the industrial regions of Silesia and Saxony and the Rhineland, who were affected by an economic crisis, which led to the weavers' revolt in Silesia 1844. In 1847, there were approximately 250 communities with about 60,000 members, of which one-third of former Protestants. The lower middle class provided the social base. The German Catholics also developed a social program that was of particular interest to workers. This included the requirement for a public school system, according to industry lessons, time for rest and personal hygiene, poor doctors, poor cash and gymnastics and swimming baths. In the free communities and also the Friends of Light environment, associations developed to practical life coaching.
From the beginning, Ronge was in contact with prominent representatives of political radicalism in the pre-March period, sometimes blurred the boundaries between religious sect and political party. Prominent members of the radical democratic wing of the German Catholics in the Grand Duchy of Baden were, for example, the revolutionary active spouses Amalie and Gustav Struve.
The German Catholic communities were just like the free Protestant Friends of Light until 1852 prohibited especially in the period 1850 and subjected to political persecution because they were considered political currents with a liberal democratic, liberal orientation.
1850, the Friends of Light were banned in Saxony because of their social program and their socialist ideals in Saxony, but could be transferred to the tolerated German Catholicism. The measures provided for in Leipzig on 23 May 1850 Foundation of a religious community of free communities has been hampered by the police, although the constitutional revision of 31 January 1850, the individual religious freedom has been extended to the religious freedom of association and collective freedom of religion. Until 1852 20 municipalities were banned in Prussia, which included the great Konigsberg community with approximately 12,000 members. Despite persecution by state authorities and the withdrawal of many bourgeois members were in 1858 about 300 German Catholic and Protestant communities about 89 free.