Concordat of 1801
The Concordat of 1801 was an agreement between Napoleon and Pope Pius VII, signed on 15 July 1801. It remained in effect until 1905. It sought national reconciliation between revolutionaries and Catholics and solidified the Roman Catholic Church as the majority church of France, with most of its civil status restored. The hostility of devout Catholics against the state had now largely been resolved. It did not restore the vast church lands and endowments that had been seized during the revolution and sold off. Catholic clergy returned from exile, or from hiding, and resume their traditional positions in their traditional churches. Very few parishes continued the priests who had accepted the "Civil Constitution of the Clergy". While the Concordat restored much power to the papacy, the balance of church-state relations tilted firmly in Napoleon's favour. He selected the bishops and supervised church finances.
Napoleon and the pope both found the Concordat useful. Similar arrangements were made with the Church in territories controlled by Napoleon, especially Italy and Germany. Now, Napoleon could win favor with the Catholics while also controlling Rome in a political sense. Napoleon said in April 1801, "Skillful conquerors have not got entangled with priests. They can both contain them and use them."
During the French Revolution, the National Assembly had taken Church properties and issued the Civil Constitution of the Clergy, which made the Church a department of the State, effectively removing it from papal authority. At the time, the nationalized Gallican Church was the official church of France, but it was essentially Catholicism. The Civil Constitution caused hostility among the Vendeans towards the change in the relationship between the Catholic Church and the French government. Subsequent laws abolished the traditional Gregorian calendar and Christian holidays.
The Concordat was drawn up by a commission with three representatives from each party. Napoleon appointed Joseph Bonaparte, his brother, Emmanuel Crétet, a counselor of state, and Étienne-Alexandre Bernier, a doctor in theology. Pope Pius VII appointed Cardinal Ercole Consalvi, Cardinal Giuseppe Spina, archbishop of Corinth, and his theological adviser, Father Carlo Francesco Maria Caselli.
While the Concordat restored some ties to the papacy, it was largely in favor of the state; the balance of church-state relations had tilted firmly in Napoleon's favor. Now, he could win favor with the Catholics within France while also controlling Rome in a political sense. Napoleon once told his brother Lucien in April 1801, "Skillful conquerors have not got entangled with priests. They can both contain them and use them." As a part of the Concordat, he presented another set of laws called the Organic Articles.
The main terms of the Concordat of 1801 between France and Pope Pius VII included:
- A declaration that "Catholicism was the religion of the great majority of the French" but not the official state religion, thus maintaining religious freedom, in particular with respect to Protestants.
- The Papacy had the right to depose bishops, but this made little difference, because the French government still nominated them.
- The state would pay clerical salaries and the clergy swore an oath of allegiance to the state.
- The Catholic Church gave up all its claims to Church lands that were confiscated after 1790.
- Sunday was reestablished as a "festival", effective Easter Sunday, 18 April 1802. The rest of the French Republican Calendar, which had been abolished, was not replaced by the traditional Gregorian Calendar until 1 January 1806.
The Concordat was abrogated by the law of 1905 on the separation of Church and state. However, some provisions of the Concordat are still in effect in the Alsace-Lorraine region under the local law of Alsace-Moselle, as the region was controlled by the German Empire at the time of the 1905 law's passage.
- Nigel Aston, Religion and revolution in France, 1780-1804 (Catholic University of America Press, 2000) pp 279-335
- William Roberts, "Napoleon, the Concordat of 1801, and Its Consequences." in by Frank J. Coppa, ed., Controversial Concordats: The Vatican's Relations with Napoleon, Mussolini, and Hitler (1999) pp: 34-80.
- Nigel Aston, Christianity and revolutionary Europe, 1750-1830 (Cambridge University Press, 2002) pp 261-62.
- Luis Granados (2012). Damned Good Company. Humanist Press. p. 182.
- "France". Berkley Center for Religion, Peace, and World Affairs. Retrieved 2011-12-15. See drop-down essay on "Religion and Politics until the French Revolution"
- Bela Bates Edwards; Absalom Peters; John Holmes Agnew; Selah Burr Treat (1840). The American Biblical Repository. s.n. Retrieved 2014-04-22.
- Aston, Nigel (2002). Christianity and Revolutionary Europe c. 1750-1830. Cambridge University Press. ISBN 0-521-46027-1.
- Aston, Nigel. Religion and revolution in France, 1780-1804 (Catholic University of America Press, 2000) pp 279–315
- Goyau, Georges. "The French Concordat of 1801." The Catholic Encyclopedia vol 4 (1913). online
- Roberts, William."Napoleon, the Concordat of 1801, and Its Consequences." in by Frank J. Coppa, ed., Controversial Concordats: The Vatican's Relations with Napoleon, Mussolini, and Hitler (1999) pp: 34-80.
- Walsh, Henry Horace. The Concordat of 1801: A Study of the Problem of Nationalism in the Relations of Church and State (Columbia University Press, 1933)
- Georges Goyau (1913). "The Organic Articles". Catholic Encyclopedia. New York: Robert Appleton Company.
- Documents upon Napoleon and the Reorganization of Religion: selected text of the Concordat and Organic Articles
- Napoleon's concordat and Organic Articles - text and background from www.concordatwatch.eu