Skip to content
Catholic Online Logo

Cardinal, b. at Millau, in Rouergue (now Aveyron), 30 October, 1787, d. at Lyons, 25 Feb., 1870. He was the fourth son of the Vicomte de Bonald, the celebrated statesman and philosopher. Destined for the Church, he studied at Saint-Sulpice and was ordained priest in 1811. He was first attached to the imperial chapel and after the Restoration went to Rome as secretary to Archbishop de Presigny, who was entrusted by Louis XVIII with the task of arranging for a new Concordat. Three years later Bishop Latil of Chartres made him his vicar-general. When the diocese of Puy was re-established (1823) Bonald became its first bishop and remained there for sixteen years, until his promotion to the primatial See of Lyons (1839), and in 1841 Gregory XVI made him cardinal. Cardinal de Bonald is one of the glories of French episcopate. His personal qualities, as well as the salient features of his episcopal career, are most easily found in the only work we have from his pen, that long series of "Mandements et lettres pastorales", which show him to have been pious, sympathetic, eloquent, and full of zeal. His zeal seems to have embraced all vital interests. In point of doctrine, Bonald contributed a large share towards destroying all remnants of Gallicanism and Jansenism. The Jansenistic interpolations made by Montazet in the liturgical books of Lyons were, after a long struggle, finally suppressed. Dupin's Gallican book, "Manuel de droit ecclésiastique", was severely condemn ed by the primate, and when the Council of State declared him guilty of abuse (1845), Bonald replied that the censure had not even touched him because "when the Council of Sate has pronounced on questions of doctrine, the cause is not finished". In matters of discipline Cardinal de Bonald corrected many abuses, and he crowned his work by convening a provincial synod (1850), whose statutes touched all the main points of church government. He always took great interest in social questions, and never was more eloquent than when appealing for help in behalf of misery, as for instance during the floods of 1840 and 1846 and the destitution of the Spanish refugees (1842). The closing of silk factories in Lyons gave him an opportunity of showing not only his liberality towards the needy, but also his broad sympathy for the toiling class in general.

The mainspring of Cardinal de Bonald's life, however, was his love of the Church, which he desired first of all to have respected. In 1825 the royal court of Paris, in rendering a verdict, implied that the whole body of clergy was disloyal to the Crown; Bonald in a dignified letter of protest to the king replied: "Were the clergy less loyal, they would not be the object of such hatred ". He also desired the freedom of the Church, and his pastoral letter of 1846, "La liberté de l'Eglise", remains one of his best efforts. Of all the privileges essential to the Church, that of teaching seemed to him first and foremost. On several occasions he wrote either to approve or to condemn the legislation concerning schools. The royal ordinance of 1824 placing the schools under the surveillance of the bishops met with his entire approval; but the ordinances of 1828 establishing a new mode of direction for primary schools and even interfering with ecclesiastical schools for secondary education, as well as the Villemain educational bill of 1844 and Salvandy's project of 1847, he strongly opposed, thus preparing the way for the law of 1850. Having become, by the constitution of 1852, and by virtue of his dignity as cardinal, a member of the French Senate, Bonald showed once more his love of the Church by throwing the whole weight of his influence on the side of the roman pontiff and the independence of the Holy See.

The long episcopal career of Bonald covers many successive political regimes. Although by birth and education a stanch legitimist, yet, as a bishop, he looked above the changes of human government to the Church and her welfare. Because the Revolution of February, 1848, with its motto "Liberty, Equality, Fraternity", seemed to him favourable to the best interests of the Church, he was one of the first bishops to welcome it. He wrote to his priests : "Give to the faithful the example of submission and obedience to the Republic. You have long cherished the hope of enjoying the liberty which makes our brethren of the United States so happy ; the liberty you shall have." The same broadness of view he evinced when he refused to side with the Abbé Gaume on the question of the classics: "We decline to believe that the study of pagan authors has for three centuries instilled paganism into the social body."


More Encyclopedia

The Catholic Encyclopedia is the most comprehensive resource on Catholic teaching, history, and information ever gathered in all of human history. This easy-to-search online version was originally printed in fifteen hardcopy volumes.

Catholic Encyclopedia

Designed to present its readers with the full body of Catholic teaching, the Encyclopedia contains not only precise statements of what the Church has defined, but also an impartial record of different views of acknowledged authority on all disputed questions, national, political or factional. In the determination of the truth the most recent and acknowledged scientific methods are employed, and the results of the latest research in theology, philosophy, history, apologetics, archaeology, and other sciences are given careful consideration.

No one who is interested in human history, past and present, can ignore the Catholic Church, either as an institution which has been the central figure in the civilized world for nearly two thousand years, decisively affecting its destinies, religious, literary, scientific, social and political, or as an existing power whose influence and activity extend to every part of the globe. In the past century the Church has grown both extensively and intensively among English-speaking peoples. Their living interests demand that they should have the means of informing themselves about this vast institution, which, whether they are Catholics or not, affects their fortunes and their destiny.

Copyright © Catholic Encyclopedia. Robert Appleton Company New York, NY. Volume 1: 1907; Volume 2: 1907; Volume 3: 1908; Volume 4: 1908; Volume 5: 1909; Volume 6: 1909; Volume 7: 1910; Volume 8: 1910; Volume 9: 1910; Volume 10: 1911; Volume 11: - 1911; Volume 12: - 1911; Volume 13: - 1912; Volume 14: 1912; Volume 15: 1912

Catholic Online Catholic Encyclopedia Digital version Compiled and Copyright © Catholic Online

Newsletters

Newsletter Sign Up icon

Stay up to date with the latest news, information, and special offers

Daily Readings

Reading 1, Ephesians 3:14-21
14 This, then, is what I pray, kneeling before the ... Read More

Psalm, Psalms 33:1-2, 4-5, 11-12, 18-19
1 Shout for joy, you upright; praise comes well from ... Read More

Gospel, Luke 12:49-53
49 'I have come to bring fire to the earth, and how I ... Read More

Saint of the Day

Saint of the Day for October 23rd, 2014 Image

St. John of Capistrano
October 23: St. John was born at Capistrano, Italy in 1385, the son of a ... Read More

Inform, Inspire & Ignite Logo

Find Catholic Online on Facebook and get updates right in your live feed.

Become a fan of Catholic Online on Facebook


Follow Catholic Online on Twitter and get News and Product updates.

Follow us on Twitter