Concordat in Alsace-Moselle
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Rot un Wiss, traditional flag of Alsace
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Flag of Lorraine since the 13th century
The Concordat in Alsace-Moselle is the part of the Local law in Alsace-Moselle relating to the official status accorded to certain religions in these territories.
This Concordat is a remnant of the Napoleonic Concordat of 1801. The 1801 Concordat was abrogated in the rest of France by the law of 1905 on the separation of church and state. However, at the time, Alsace-Moselle had been annexed by Germany, so the Concordat remained in force in these areas. The Concordat recognises four religious traditions in Alsace-Moselle: three branches of Christianity (Catholic, Lutheran and Reformed) plus the Jewish religion. Therefore, the French concept of laïcité, a rigid separation of church and state, does not apply in this region.
Several French governments have considered repealing the Concordat, but none have done so. On 21 February 2013, the Constitutional Council of France upheld the Concordat, reaffirming its validity, in response to an appeal from a secularist group which claimed that the Concordat in Alsace-Moselle contradicted the secular nature of the French Republic.
Under the Concordat, religious education is compulsory in public schools, at both primary and secondary level, although parents can now opt for a secular equivalent by a written request. These religious education lessons are given by members of the faiths concerned and under the control of the respective churches.
Religious ministers in Alsace-Moselle (pastors, priests and rabbis of the four recognised faiths) receive a salary from the Interior Ministry, which, by virtue of the 1993 Lang-Cloupet agreement, is linked to civil service salary scales. In 2012, this was said to be costing the French state 54 million euros per year. They also qualify for unemployment benefits. The Bishops of Metz and Strasbourg are appointed by decree of the President of the Republic, after agreement with the Holy See. This makes France the only country in the world where some Catholic bishops are still appointed by the head of state. The actual involvement of the French state is however nowadays considered purely nominal (although a recent appointment to the see of Metz was blocked at an early stage). Chief rabbis and presidents of the Jewish and Protestant consistories are appointed by the Prime Minister. Ministers of the three Christian churches are appointed by the Interior Minister.
The University of Strasbourg includes two faculties of theology, one Protestant, the other Catholic. These are the only theology faculties in France, although the University of Lorraine in Metz also has a theology department. Both faculties are responsible for training ministers for their respective religious traditions. The Catholic faculty comes directly under the authority of the Holy See, and the diplomas that it awards are recognised by the Holy See as canonical.
Other religions and religious traditions
There have been a number of attempts to extend the coverage of the Concordat to recognise other religions, notably Islam, as well as other branches of Christianity.
- "Church-state tie opens door for mosque". New York Times. 2008-10-07. Retrieved 2013-11-02.
- "French challenge to exception of Alsace Moselle from separation law fails". National Secular Society. 2013-02-28. Retrieved 2013-11-02.
- "L'Alsace-Moselle garde le concordat". Le Figaro. 2013-02-22. Retrieved 2013-11-02.
- "Ecjs - Cas Particulier De L'Alsace-Moselle". Dissertations gratuites. February 2013. Retrieved 2013-11-02.
- "Le Concordat fragilisé par la laïcité ?". L'Alsace. 2012-10-14. Retrieved 2013-11-02.
- ""Je ne remettrai pas en cause le régime concordataire", dit François Hollande". 20Minutes.fr. 2012-04-23. Retrieved 2013-11-02.