Auguste Joseph Alphonse Gratry - Encyclopedia




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AUGUSTE JOSEPH ALPHONSE GRATRY (1805-1872), French author and theologian, was born at Lille on the 10th of March 1805. He was educated at the Ecole Polytechnique, Paris, and, after a period of mental struggle which he has described in Souvenirs de ma jeunesse, he was ordained priest in 1832. After a stay at Strassburg as professor of the Petit Seminaire, he was appointed director of the College Stanislas in Paris in 1842 and, in 1847, chaplain of the Ecole Normale Superieure. He became vicar-general of Orleans in 1861, professor of ethics at the Sorbonne in 1862, and, on the death of Barante, a member of the French Academy in 1867, where he occupied the seat formerly held by Voltaire. Together with M. Petetot, cure of Saint Roch, he reconstituted the Oratory of the Immaculate Conception, a society of priests mainly devoted to education. Gratry was one of the principal opponents of the definition of the dogma of papal infallibility, but in this respect he submitted to the authority of the Vatican Council. He died at Montreux in Switzerland on the 6th of February 187 2.

His chief works are: De la connaissance de Dieu, opposing Positivism (1855); La Logique (1856); Les Sources, conseils pour .la conduite de l'esprit (1861-1862); La Philosophie du credo (1861); Commentaire sur l'evangile de Saint Matthieu (1863); Jesus-Christ, lettres a M. Renan (1864); Les Sophistes et la critique (in controversy with E. Vacherot) (1864); La Morale et la loi de l'histoire, setting forth his social views (1868); Mgr. l'eveque d'Orleans et Mgr. .l'archeveque de Malines (1869), containing a clear exposition of the historical arguments against the doctrine of papal infallibility. There is a selection of Gratry's writings and appreciation of his style by the Abbe Pichot, in Pages choisies des Grands Ecrivains series, published by Armand-Colin (1897). See also the critical study by the oratorian A. Chauvin, L' Abbe Gratry (1901); Le Pere Gratry (1900), and Les Derniers Jours du Pere Gratry et son testament spirituel, (1872), by Cardinal Adolphe Perraud, Gratry's friend and disciple.

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