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Anton Joseph Binterim

Priest and theologian (1779-1855)

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Binterim, ANTON JOSEPH, b. at Düsseldorf, September 19, 1779; d. at Bilk, May 17, 1855; a theologian of repute and for fifty years parish-priest of Bilk. He attended the Jesuit school in his native town, and then entered the Franciscan Order at Düsseldorf, May 8, 1796. After his studies at Duren and Aachen (Aix-la-Chapelle), he was ordained priest at Cologne, September 19, 1802. On the suppression (1803) of the Franciscan monastery to which he was attached, he was forced to retire from the religious life; after the usual examinations, he was appointed pastor of Bilk, June 21, 1805, and administered the parish until his death. Father Binterim was the author of numerous theological treatises in defense of the Church against the attacks of the rationalists of the day, drawing his material from ancient ecclesiastical and literary sources. His many successes in controversy gained him numerous enemies and particularly the hatred of the partisans of Hermes who accused him of unlawful intrigue with Rome, evil transactions with the Jesuits, and treasonable practices against the Government, At one period, he suffered imprisonment for six months in the citadel of Wesel. Father Binterim wrote indefatigably against the existing evil of mixed marriages and the Prussian legislation of August 17, 1825, on such marriages, depriving the mother of all rights in the education of her child; he advised the formation of societies to protest against such abuses, and urged on pastors the duty of warning the young of the evils following upon marriages with Protestants. Resisting all offers of preferment, he remained in his parish until his death. He left his large library to the people of his parish.

Binterim’s writings are chiefly remarkable for their depth of research into the sources of ecclesiastical history and literature. In particular his principal work, “Die vorzuglichsten Denkwurdigkeiten der christkatholischen Kirche mit besonderer Berucksichtigung der Disciplin derselben in Deutschland, frei bearbeitet nach der Schrift des Neapolitaners Pelliccia (de christiana ecclesia prima mediae et novissima atatis politic,)” (7 vols., 17 parts, Mainz, 1825-41), is illustrative of many points of Christian Archeology. In addition to this mention may be made of: “Pragmatische Geschichte der deutschen Concilien” (7 vols., Mainz, 1835-49); and “Die alte and neue Erzdiocese Koln” (Mainz, 1828-30), a treatise on the geography, statistics, and history of the Archiocese of Cologne. He also wrote a large number of smaller works on theological, historical, controversial, and apologetic subjects, such as matrimonial questions; the use of Latin in the church ritual; the discussion as to whether St. Peter was ever in Rome, or was Bishop of Rome; the Monita Secreta of the Jesuits (Düsseldorf, 1853), an old myth revamped in Northern Germany; the sale of Hosts in Germany and France (2d ed., Düsseldorf, 1852).


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