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Bitter struggle by Otto von Bismarck to subject the Roman Catholic church to state controls. Bismarck, a staunch Protestant, doubted the loyalty of Catholics in his new German Empire and became concerned by the Vatican Council's 1870 proclamation on papal infallibility. In 1872 the state dissolved the Jesuit order in Germany. The May, or Falk, Laws of 1873 (applying only to Prussia) limited church powers, and in 1875 the state mandated civil marriage services. Bismarck retreated in the face of strong Catholic resistance, especially by the Center Party. By 1887, with many anti-Catholic laws repealed, Pope Leo XIII declared the conflict over.
This entry comes from Encyclopædia Britannica Concise. For the full entry on Kulturkampf, visit Britannica.com.