Mr. Bancroft to Mr. Fish.
Berlin, December 8, 1873. (Received December 27.)
Sir: I inclose a copy of the correspondence between the chief president of the Prussian province of Posen and Count Ledochowski, the archbishop of Gnesen and Posen. The antagonism between civil and ecclesiastical power which has here received its strongest expression, is one of which the importance can hardly be rated too high. It is direct and absolute. The president recapitulates the laws of the kingdom which the archbishop has violated, and the archbishop represents himself as above those laws by the authority of the Pope, whom he calls the representative of God, and in his own right as appointed to rule his diocese by the Holy Ghost. With these pretensions the archbishop [Page 436] takes no pains to draw a limit to the questions in which he may interfere, and the Catholic clergy in fact use all their power at the polls and in political discussions of all kinds through the press. The Prussian government is fully aware of the difficulties attending the contest in which they have engaged; but they profess no disposition to recede from their determination to cause the power of the state to be respected by every citizen of the state. Toward the archbishop the steps that are threatened are depositions and the removal of his place of residence to some other part of the kingdom.
Meantime the bishopric of Fulda remains vacant. If the Pope pursues his principles to their logical consequence, he will, contrary to all precedent, himself alone assume alike the appointment and the investiture of a new bishop.
I remain, &c.,