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Joseph Georg Strossmayer

Bishop of Diakovàr, b. February 4, 1815; d. April 8, 1905

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Strossmayer, JOSEPH GEORG (JOSIP JURAJ), Bishop of Diakovàr, b. at Essegg in Croatia-Slavonia, February 4, 1815; d. April 8, 1905. He came from a family of German peasants who had immigrated into Croatia. After attending the gymnasium of his native town, he studied theology in the seminary at Diakovàr and the higher seminary at Budapest, where he obtained the degree of Doctor of Philosophy when only twenty years of age. In 1838 he was ordained priest and was for two years vicar at Peterwardein. In 1840 he went to the Augustineum at Vienna; in 1842 obtained the degree of Doctor of Theology, and was then made professor at Diakovàr. In 1847 he became court chaplain, prefect in the Augustineum and professor of canon law at the University of Vienna. On November 18, 1849, he was appointed Bishop of Diakovàr, and was consecrated on September 8, 1850. At the same time he was Apostolic Administrator of Belgrade-Semendria in Servia. In 1898 the pope conferred the pallium upon him. At the Vatican Council he was one of the most notable opponents of papal infallibility, and distinguished himself as a speaker. The pope praised Strossmayer’s “remarkably good Latin”. A speech in which he defended Protestantism made a great sensation. Afterwards another speech, delivered apparently on June 2, 1870, was imputed to him. It is full of heresies and denies not only infallibility but also the primacy of the pope. The forger is said to have been a former Augustinian, a Mexican named Dr. Jose Agustin de Escudero. After the council Strossmayer maintained his opposition longer than all the other bishops and kept up a connection with Döllinger and Reinkens until October, 1871. Then he notified them that he intended to yield “at least outwardly”. Finally, on December 26, 1872, he published the decrees of the council in his official paper. At a later date he repeatedly proclaimed his submission to the pope, as in his pastoral letter of February 28, 1881, on Sts. Cyril and Methodius, expressing his devotion to the papal see at times in extravagant language.

In politics he was an active supporter of the Croatian national party and Panslavism. He exerted himself to advance his people in civilization, yet he strengthened national hatreds by his political agitation. He used the large revenues of his diocese to found primary schools, a seminary, the academy for southern Slays at Agram (1867), the university (1874), and a picture gallery also at Agram. Under his direction Augustin Theiner edited the “Vetera monumenta Slavorum meridionalium” (1863). During 1866-82 he built a fine and splendidly ornamented cathedral. He sought to win the Servians who were not Uniats for Rome by the use of the Old Slavonic liturgy.



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