But we need not limit ourselves to Mgr Zinelli in interpretting the canons of Vatican I (despite his essential role in drafting them). As part of his Kulturkampf against the Church, Bismark chose to characterize the canons in 1872 as follows in a circular telegram many read as a programme for a state-run German Catholic Church:
"This telegram claims that the decisions of the Vatican Council have the following consequences:
"1. The pope may assume episcopal rights in every diocese and substitute his own episcopal power.
"2. Episcopal jurisidiction is absorbed in papal jurisdiciton.
"3. The pope no longer exercises certain reserved, limited rights as in the past, but he is the repository of full and entire episcopal power.
"4. The pope in general replaces each bishop individually.
"5. The pope at his own discretion entirely may at any time take over the bishop’s place in dealings with the government.
"6. The bishops are no more than instruments of the pope, his agents with no responsibility of their own.
“7. Bishops in relation to governments have become in fact the agents of a foreign sovereign, of a soveriegn, indeed, who through his infallibility is more perfectly absolute than any absolute monarch in the world.”
The German bishops indignantly responded as follows.
"No doubt the decisions of the Council mean that the Pope’s power of ecclesiastical jurisdicition is *potestas suprema, ordinaria et immediata, *a supreme power of government given to the pope by Jesus Christ the Son of God, in the person of St Peter, a power which extends directly over the whole Church and so over each diocese and over all the faithful, in order to preserve unity of faith, discipline and government in the Church, and is in no way a mere attribution of certain reserved rights.
"But this is not at all a new doctrine. It is a truth recognized in the Catholic faith and a principle known in canon law, a doctrine recently explained and confirmed by the Vatican Council, in agreement with the findings of earlier ecumenical councils, against the errors of Gallicans, Jansenists and Febronians. According to this teaching of the Catholic Church, the pope is bishop of Rome but not bishop of another diocese or another town; he is not the bishop of Breslau nor bishop of Cologne, etc. But as bishop of Rome he is at the same time pope, that is, the pastor and supreme head of the universal Church, head of all the bishops and faithful, and his papal power should be respected and listened to everywhere and always, not only in particular and exceptional cases. In this position the pope has to watch over each bishop in the fulfilment of the whole range of his episcopal charge. If a bishop is prevented, or if some need has made itself felt, the pope has the right and duty, in his capacity as pope and not as bishop of the diocese, to order whatever is necessary for the adminsitration of the diocese…
"The decisions of the Vatican Council do not offer the shadow of pretext to claim that the pope has by them become an absolute sovereign and, in virtue of his infallibility, a sovereign more perfectly absolute than any absolute monarch in the world…
“In the exercise of papal power, therefore, absolutely nothing has changed. It follows that that the opinion that the pope’s position in relation to the episcopate has been changed by the Vatican Council is completely without foundation.”