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Concordat of 1801

Concordat of 1801, agreement between Napoleon Bonaparte and Pope Pius VII that reestablished the Roman Catholic Church in France. Napoleon took the initiative in negotiating this agreement; he recognized that reconciliation with the church was politic. It would help consolidate his position, end the royalist–clerical rebellion in W France, reunite the clergy, which had been divided since the French Revolution, and win the support of the large majority of peasant-farmers. By its terms Roman Catholicism was recognized as the religion of most French citizens. Archbishops and bishops were to be nominated by the government, but the pope was to confer the office. Parish priests were to be appointed by the bishops, subject to government approval. Confiscated church property, most of which had been sold to private persons, was not to be restored, but the government was to provide adequate support for the clergy. To implement the concordat Napoleon issued (1802) the so-called Organic Articles; these restated the traditional liberties of the Gallican church (see Gallicanism) while increasing Napoleon's control of church activities. The Organic Articles were not agreed to by the pope, and he did not consider them binding. A century later, anticlericalism, intensified by the Dreyfus Affair, led to the imposition of severe restrictions on the church, culminating (1905) in the formal repudiation of the concordat, thereby separating church and state.

The Columbia Electronic Encyclopedia, 6th ed. Copyright © 2012, Columbia University Press. All rights reserved.


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