Religion, Liberalism and the Social Question in the Habsburg Hinterland: The Catholic Church in Upper Austria, 1850-1914
PhD Dissertation (Columbia University, 2006)
By Max H. Voegler

Link to Columbia University Academia Commons


This dissertation focuses on the diocese of Linz in the Habsburg Monarchy during the second half of the nineteenth century, examining how the Roman Catholic Church and its priests adapted to and confronted the broad set of modernizing forces that were shaping the world around them against the backdrop of rising Ultramontanism within the Church. 

The study is divided into three sections. The first section explores the structural and ideological transformation of the Catholic Church in Upper Austria in this period. With a focus on the clergy, it examines the changing networks and structures of religious life; it investigates how the diocese changed under the watch of Bishop Franz Josef Rudigier (1853-1884) and Franz Maria Doppelbauer (1889-1908), and also under the influence of Ultramontanism. The second section examines the confrontation with liberalism. It begins in the 1850s, exploring how two events – the building of a general hospital in Linz and the burial of a prominent Protestant in a small town – inform our understanding of the dynamics of Catholic-liberal conflict in 1850s Austria. Next it turns to the height of the Austrian Kulturkampf between 1867 and 1875, exploring, how liberals and Catholic-conservatives presented a social vision that used the active exclusion of the ‘other’ to define itself. 

The third section shifts from liberalism to socialism, and from a study of the rise of Ultramontanism to that of Ultramontanism in practice. Examining Catholic responses to the social question, the study argues that Ultramontanism created its own internal set of contradictions when converted into policy, especially after the publication of the 1891 encyclical Rerum Novarum. Instead of bringing the different elements together within the Church, the encyclical had the opposite effect; each group began to interpret the document in different ways and to act accordingly, effectively demolishing the image of Catholic unity that existed around Ultramontanism. 

To see how the idea began: See the dissertation prospectus.

Table of Contents

  • Introduction
  • Section One: Linz, Upper Austria and the Catholic Church
    • Chapter One.Upper Austria
    • Chapter Two.The Priesthood in Upper Austria
  • Section Two: Liberalism and Catholicism in Upper Austria, 1848-1880
    • Chapter Three.Liberal-Catholic Conflict during Neoabsolutism
    • Interlude: The Kulturkampf in Upper Austria, 1860-1874
    • Chapter Four.Trials of the Clergy, 1868-1874
    • Chapter Five.A Liberal Church? The ‘Old’ Catholic Imagination
  • Section Three: The Catholic Church and the Social Question in Upper Austria, 1854-1914
    • Chapter Six.From Poor Relief to the Social Question
    • Chapter Seven.The Problems of Political Action
  • Conclusion