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Joseph Georg Strossmayer
(Josip Juraj), Bishop of Diakovár, born at Essegg in Croatia-Slavonia, 4 February, 1815; died 8 April, 1905. He came from a family of German peasants who had immigrated into Croatia. After attending the gymnasium of his native town, he studied theology in the seminary at Diakovár and the higher seminary at Budapest, where he obtained the degree of Doctor of Philosophy when only twenty years of age. In 1838 he was ordained priest and was for two years vicar at Peterwardein. In 1840 he went to the Augustineum at Vienna; in 1842 obtained the degree of Doctor of Theology, and was then made professor at Diakovár. In 1847 he became court chaplain, prefect in the Augustineum and professor of canon law at the University of Vienna. On 18 November, 1849, he was appointed Bishop of Diakovár, and was consecrated on 8 September, 1850. At the same time he was Apostolic Administrator of Belgrade-Semendria in Serbia. In 1898 the pope conferred the pallium on him.
At the Vatican Council he was one of the most notable opponents of papal infallibility, and distinguished himself as a speaker. The pope praised Strossmayer's "remarkably good Latin." A speech in which he defended Protestantism made a great sensation. Afterwards another speech, delivered apparently on 2 June, 1870, was imputed to him. It is full of heresies and denies not only infallibility but also the primacy of the pope. The forger is said to have been a former Augustinian, a Mexican named Dr. José Agustín de Escudero. After the council Strossmayer maintained his opposition longer than all the other bishops and kept up a connection with Döllinger and Reinkens until October, 1871. Then he notified them that he intended to yield "at least outwardly". Finally, on 26 December, 1872, he published the decrees of the council in his official paper. At a later date he repeatedly proclaimed his submission to the pope, as in his pastoral letter of 28 February, 1881, on Sts. Cyril and Methodius, expressing his devotion to the papal see at times in extravagant language.
In politics he was an active supporter of the Croatian national party and Panslavism. He exerted himself to advance his people in civilization, yet he strengthened national hatreds by his political agitation. He used the large revenues of his diocese to found primary schools, a seminary, the academy for southern Slavs at Agram (1867), the university (1874), and a picture gallery also at Agram. Under his direction Augustín Theiner edited the "Vetera monumenta Slavorum meridionalium" (1863). During 1866-82 he built a fine and splendidly ornamented cathedral. He sought to win the non-Catholic Serbians to Rome by the use of the Old Slavonic liturgy.