Cyclopædia of Political Science, Political Economy, and the Political History of the United States
CONCORDAT, a treaty concluded between the papal see and the government of a Catholic nation, to regulate, within the limits of the latter, the relations between the Catholic church and the state. This term is not applied to conventions between the pontifical government and any other power for objects purely political; such, for instance, as the treaty of Tolentino, in 1797. These conventions are ordinary diplomatic acts. In concordats the pope makes stipulations as, sovereign pontiff, as the head and representative of Catholicity. Agreements de rebus ecclesiasticis between the papal see and a non-Catholic power are called simply conventions.
—General considerations. The equitable adjustment of the relations between church and state, the reconciliation of the rights of conscience and the necessities of government, is one of the most difficult problems that can be presented for the speculation of philosophers or the solution of experienced statesmen. Three very different ways of effecting this adjustment may be imagined; and each way finds expression in a system of its own. In the first, the state is governed by the church; sovereignty belongs to the spiritual power and the temporal power is merely its instrument. In the second, on the contrary, the state governs the church, and the temporal power absorbs the spiritual. In the third, "the church is independent in the state, unheeded by it; the state has nothing to do with it, and the temporal power no right to take cognizance of religious belief; it permits them to live and govern themselves as they please: it has neither a right nor a legitimate motive to interfere in their concerns." So says M. Guizot. (Civilization in France, 3rd lecture.) In this last system, the state recognizes natural religion only and, professing a serene indifference to all forms of positive religion, it allows them to develop, unhelped and unhindered by government.
—We do not think that absolutely any one of these three systems is practicable, at least in Europe. No matter what be done, unless worship is suppressed altogether, we find, in Europe, in the relations between church and state, three classes of matters which must be taken into account: matters purely temporal, which belong exclusively to the government, such as imposts, the army, etc.; matters purely spiritual, which belong exclusively to the church, such as dogma, worship; lastly, matters of a mixed nature, in which the church and state are constrained to meet, and in which both have certain rights to assert; for instance, public worship, the budget of public worship, and marriage.
—All of the systems just mentioned are defective, because they fail to take into consideration one or other of these three matters. The first ignores the rights of the temporal power; the second, the rights of the church; and the third forgets that there are matters of a mixed nature, pertaining both to the church and the state. It would be useless to concern ourselves here with the first two systems: one of them has too few chances of being put in practice; the other is incompatible with the Catholic church. It prevails, it is true, in England and Russia, and the Christian communions which have accepted it are able to tell what they have gained by it.
—As to the third, it deserves more attention; because, under the seductive formula, a free church in a free state, it has for some time past been often landed, and because it has borrowed a rare prestige from the true principle of which it is an exaggeration. Both church and state can only gain from being free. The Catholic church particularly, would be benefited by the maximum extension of liberty in the world; because, by taking advantage, like every other church, of an unlimited power of expansion, it would, perhaps, be the only one that could stand the test of such a great expansion without losing anything of its cohesive power and unity. But the formula cited above does not truly describe the third system. It is not the free church, but the separated church, which should be spoken of here. But, if we admit complete liberty, we do not think it possible to have absolute separation in practice. The ideal proposed above could not be reached unless religion were restricted to a purely spiritual domain, unless worship were carried on only in the inner temple of the soul; in a word, unless matters of a mixed nature did not exist. But, made for men, that is for beings composed of soul and body, religion addresses the senses in order to reach the heart. Hence external manifestations of the religious sentiment; hence worship, properly speaking. Men are the ministers of religion; and these men can not live by prayer alone. Lastly, there are acts, such as marriage, over which the church extends her empire, and in which the state itself is too much interested to abdicate the right of regulating them by law. These are what we mean by matters of a mixed nature, and it is because they exist necessarily and will always exist, that it seems impossible to assign to the Catholic church and the state regions so distinct that these two powers should move in parallel lines, ignoring one another and never coming into collision. The freer a government becomes, the fewer, in truth, will be the points of contact between church and state. But, no matter how free it may be, it can not, at least in Europe, preserve on all points the indifference compatible with absolute separation of the state from the Catholic church.
—It is of the essence of religion to bring its adherents together for the outward manifestation of their feelings. But what government has been, is, or promises to be, indifferent to meetings of the people. Worship must be supported; the state must needs provide this support or leave the faithful at liberty to provide it. Those who admit neither of these alternatives "forget one thing," says Jules Simon, "that the liberty of worship is a liberty just like any other, and should therefore be sacred even to those who do not believe in the legitimacy of any worship. To grant liberty and withhold the means of enjoying it, is simply to add hypocrisy to tyranny. It should also be taken into consideration that a shabby ceremonial and a needy clergy are at once a scandal and a public peril. It is a fault, both in policy and logic, to tolerate religion in a state, and to condemn it to misery and shame." Now, if the state furnishes the budget of worship, it must know to what use its money is put. If, on the other hand, the faithful furnish it, numberless questions arise full of interest to the state concerning its details, its collection, its distribution. Into these it is difficult to avoid entering. The state and religion have clashed no less frequently on the question of marriage, a matter essentially of a mixed nature. One creed admits divorce, another preaches polygamy. Ought the state to respect their precepts? Can it ignore them? It is said sometimes that the United States has solved the problem which occupies Europe. Is this absolutely true? Have not federal troops been sent (in 1871) to put an end to polygamy among the Mormons, where its practice is raised to the dignity of a dogma? Further, because a system works well in a new country, in the midst of free institutions, to conclude that it would be in place in the old states of Europe, whose machinery is so complicated, and which for the most part admit of such moderate doses of liberty, would be, as Jules Simon remarks, "tabula-rasa philosophy, not practical philosophy, and, above all, not legislation." "The church and state in Europe therefore must needs come to some agreement on matters of a mixed nature. This admitted, how shall the agreement take place? Sometimes the state, of its own motion concedes certain rights to the church, leaving it sufficient liberty, as in the United States. In this case, of course, a concordat is not required; but one is a bad judge in his own cause, and so are governments in theirs. Moreover, governments change, or are modified, and with them the measures they have taken. Hence, oppressive or ill-considered laws, uncertainty and conflict. Out of this situation of affairs a régime for the Catholic church arose, a régime created by the force of circumstances, and which has been in operation for several centuries: the régime of concordats. The Catholic religion has a supreme head whose authority is recognized by all its churches, and who, if need be, has the right to represent them all. In virtue of this right and this authority, this head treats, whenever he wishes, with temporal governments as equal with equal. The chiefs of the two powers determine by positive conventions the limits of their respective domains, fix the rules to be followed on points most likely to occasion disputes, settle or anticipate existing or approaching differences, make mutual concessions, and endeavor to establish on the most lasting basis the state of things best fitted to assure peace in the spiritual and temporal order. This régime is not incompatible with any amount of liberty either in the church or state; for, in a concordat, the separation of the priesthood and the state may be stipulated for, as well as their union, and it has for the church the two-fold advantage not only of being feasible in free states, which are very rare, but of giving the freedom of spiritual interests in each country the solidity of a mutual contract, instead of the fragile and narrow foundation of a simple royal or popular concession." (De Broglie, La soureraineté pontificale et la Liberté.)
—Sometimes the system of concordats has been accused of striking a blow at the liberty of conscience, by destroying the liberty and equality of forms of worship. This charge is ill founded. A concordat may contain intolerant provisions; but such are not an inherent condition of concordats, their essential object being only to assure the Catholic church a sum of liberty more or less great according to the country with which negotiations are made, but in every case sufficient liberty. It is an assertion of the right of the freedom of religion in favor of the Catholic church; and how could this be the negation of that freedom? As to the equality of creeds, one should not forget, that, liberty being a right, the creed which obtains it merely enters upon its rights. But it may be said, if this right does not exist for all, the one which obtains it enjoys, by that fact, a privilege above all others. This is true; but, then, it is not the suppression, but the extension of this privilege which should be demanded. To reason otherwise would be as if one should, in the name of equality, demand, in a country where serfdom existed, not that the bound should be set free, but that free men should be made slaves.
—History. In the early ages of Christianity the conventions which settled the disputes between bishops and abbots of religious communities were called concordats. Later, the name was reserved to pacts concluded with the holy see. The quarrels of the popes and the emperors of Germany gave rise to a number of transactions of this kind. Among them may be mentioned the concordat of Worms, concluded between Calixtus II. and Henry V., which regulated the question of investitures (1123.)
—At the end of the thirteenth century, the history of Portugal gives an example of a concordat which is interesting by reason of its peculiar nature. In this case the contracting parties were, on the one hand, the king of Portugal, and, on the other, the Portuguese clergy. The pope appeared in it, less as a party than as an arbitrator, and to give his sanction to the agreement. A serious dispute had arisen between the king, Don Alfonso III., and the clergy of the kingdom, which continued under the reign of Don Diniz, his son. The pope intervened, the kingdom was under interdict, and the king excommunicated. Don Diniz resolved to put an end to this state of things. In 1284, in an assembly, preliminaries of agreement were arrived at, after which both parties had recourse to the pope. The king sent two deputies to Rome "with full powers to conclude a treaty by the authority of the pope, and to have it confirmed." The church of Portugal, on its part, was represented by an archbishop and tree bishops. The case was laid before a commission of three cardinals, delegated by pope Nicholas IV. to examine the affair. When all parties had come to an agreement, an act was drawn up by the commission, stating this fact, and a papal bull confirmed the concordat (1289).
—Four concordats were concluded with France: in 1516, 1801, 1813 and 1817. The first lasted till the French revolution: the second is still in force. The other two did not live long. Before discussing the concordat of Francis I., it is necessary to mention two previous acts concerning the rules followed by France in her relations with Rome. Until the time of Saint Louis, there had existed on this subject merely rules, or, rather, traditions, not yet united into a code of doctrine. But between the crusade of Egypt and that of Tunis a grave conflict arose between Louis IX. and Pope Clement IV. on the subject of vacant benefices. The king, after this difficulty, wishing to avoid similar ones in future, published, as it seems, an edict known as the pragmatic sanction.
—The first article maintains intact, for the churches of the realm, the right of collation and the jurisdiction of the ordinary; the second maintains with equal force the free elections of cathedral, and other churches; the third proscribes the crime of simony; the fourth relates to the rules taken from the common law, the councils, and the holy fathers, for the collation of dignities and ecclesiastical benefices; the fifth (wanting in some versions) prohibits the exaction or levy of money by the court of Rome unless sanctioned by the king, and unless for a pious and urgent reason. Article 6 confirms the liberties, immunities and privileges accorded to persons and places in the kingdom belonging to the church. The authenticity of this ordinance, sometimes disputed, is more generally admitted. It is certain, at least, that the doctrines laid down in this document are those which Saint Louis took as a rule of conduct, and which he made it a duty to apply. (Boutaric, France sous Philippe le Bel.) At all events, the pragmatic sanction must have been forgotten after the reign of its author; for we find it mentioned only in documents posterior to Charles VII.
—This prince issued a pragmatic sanction also, which occupies a much greater place in French history than the foregoing. It is well known what laxity there was in the church, and what trouble and scandal in Christendom were born of the schism which marked in so deplorable a manner the end of the fourteenth and the beginning of the fifteenth century. A double consequence was the result. The reformation so long needed, and which Saint Bernard had already called for so eloquently, had become still more urgent: Satis constabat res in deterius flexisse, et in tanto schismate magis magisque in pessum ire. (Bossuet.) Then the rivalry of opposing popes had rendered the authority of the holy see at once more encroaching in its nature and less respected. Yielding to the various exigencies of the struggle, the two rival sees strove to obtain subsidies from the nations which acknowledged their jurisdiction; and, to increase the number of their partisans, they made free use of the power of dispensation. For this reason the whole church desired to see the end of schism, and to engage quietly in the work of reformation. Each separate church wished in future to regulate its relations with the papacy. Hence the various concordats elaborated at the council of Constance, for the nations which took part in it, and published by Martin V. after the close of the council (1418). That intended for France was refused as contrary to Gallican liberties. But, when the council of Basle, wishing to restrict the pontifical power, engaged in a struggle with Eugene IV., and the schism was on the point of breaking out anew, France, inclined thereto by her traditions, and prepared for it by the assemblies of 1394 and 1406, undertook in the midst of the conflict to regulate her own affairs alone. Charles VII. convoked an assembly at Bourges, which, says M. Henri Martin, partook of the nature both of the states general and of the national council. Princes and peers, archbishops and bishops, abbots, doctors, representatives of chapters and universities, were there. The council of Basle sent deputies to solicit this assembly to adopt its decrees. Eugene IV. was represented in like manner; but the assembly issued a declaration by which it appropriated, while it modified in certain points, most of the decrees of the council. Letters patent of the king (July 7, 1438), registered in parliament the following year, gave the force of the law to these resolutions.
—This pragmatic sanction is too lengthy a document to insert here. It proclaimed the principle that a general council is superior to the pope, and restricted the jurisdiction of the holy see. This law, therefore, so dear to the parliament, struck a severe blow at the pretensions of the papal see. It curtailed both its revenues and its authority. It is not hard, therefore, to understand why, ever afterward, it was the object of incessant complaints on the part of Eugene IV. and his successors. Charles VII. upheld it vigorously; and, while the emperor and German princes, abandoning the neutrality which they had observed during the struggle between the fathers of Basle and those of Florence, between Felix V. and Eugene IV., concluded with Nicholas V. the German concordat (1447), the Gallican church continued to be ruled by the pragmatic sanction. Pius II., apparently more fortunate, obtained of Louis XI. its solemn abolition. But the parliament refused to register these new letters patent, and Louis XI. whose relations with Rome had grown cool, was very little concerned to secure this registration. As long as he lived this crafty prince appears to have held the pragmatic sanction as abrogated or in force as best suited his whims for the moment. The preamble of the concordat of 1516 mentioned another concordat, concluded with French negotiators under the pontificate of Sixtus IV., but which does not seem to play any part in history. The pragmatic sanction observed under Charles VIII. was confirmed, on the accession of Louis XII., by a solemn act. Julius II., throughout his struggle with this king, endeavored to secure the condemnation of this document before the council of Lateran; and all its supporters, whoever they might be, kings or others, were summoned to appear before the council in its defense.
—The death of Julius II. and, after him, that of Louis XII., put an end to personal animosity, and rendered an agreement more easy. Francis I. and Leo X. met at Bologna, and agreed to replace the pragmatic sanction by a mutual agreement, whose conditions the chancellor, Duprat, was commissioned to discuss with two cardinals delegated by the pope. When the negotiations were at an end, Leo X. had the agreement presented to the council, and sanctioned, by his approval, the bulls revoking the pragmatic sanction and publishing the new concordat.
—The first title of the new concordat is merely an account of the negotiations had, and of the motives of the concordat. The second and third titles deprive the chapters of cathedral and metropolitan churches of the privilege of the election of bishops, and declare, that, in six months after the see becomes vacant, the king shall present to the pope a candidate satisfying certain conditions. If the king has not named a capable person, he shall name another three months after having been advised of the fact. If he fails, the pope will make the appointment. The nomination to bishoprics vacant in curia, that is, whose incumbents died while in Rome, belongs to the holy see. The royal nomination is also substituted for elections in elective monasteries, without derogating from the special privileges of certain chapters and monasteries. The expectant favors, (graces expectatives) and the reservations (reserves) are abrogated (IV.), as they had been by the pragmatic sanction. Title V. regulates the rights of persons obtaining benefices. There is a devolutio ad sedem apostolicam, if the ordinary of the diocese violate the established order. The four following titles relate to the apostolic mandates which the pope might issue in the matter of benefices. Titles X. and XI., de causis et appellationibus, contain almost the same provisions as the pragmatic sanction; and the following titles (XII. to XVII.) are identical. The concordat bears the date of Aug. 18, 1516. The last title, the date of which is posterior, contains only the confirmation of the council and the letters patent of the king. Nothing is said of the number of cardinals, which the pragmatic sanction pretended to limit, nor of annats, which were re-established by this very silence, the act which had suppressed them being itself abolished.
—Such, in its essential provisions, is this celebrated concordat which has been exposed, both at the time of its appearance and since, to the most violent and even contradictory criticism. One party considered it as a most brilliant victory of the papacy, attributable to the frivolity or the weakness of Francis I. and Duprat. Others, on the contrary, see in it a triumph of royalty, a daring step toward universal dominion, which was then the object of its ambitious aspirations; and they accuse the pope of having sacrificed the spiritual to the temporal, the elections to the annats. This last accusation is not serious, for the annats were certainly not worth the sacrifice. M. de Pradt, who is not suspected of good will toward the papacy or the concordat, estimates, that, in the eighteenth century, they might produce annually 170,000 livres. Admitting that, in the sixteenth century, this income was greater, it could not have been of sufficient importance to influence the holy see. The object which Rome pursued was rather the abandonment of the principles of the council of Basle. The abandonment of the right of election is explained by the serious difficulties met in their application. Many abuses had crept into the practice, and it was not this innovation that roused the most lively complaints of contemporaries. But, justice done to the unmerited attacks, and justice done to the questions of fact which caused this change, it must be confessed that the substitution of royal appointment for elections opened a wide field to the interference of the state in the government of the church, a fact to be regretted from so many points of view. We should also add that the concordat had been prepared, discussed and signed without any participation of the church of France, while the pragmatic sanction had been drawn up with its co-operation. It was not, however, among the clergy that this convention met with the liveliest opposition. The resistance came more particularly from the parliament, which refused to enroll the letters patent giving it the force of law, and which did not yield till constrained thereto, and which, even after the enrollment, continued to judge according to the rules of the pragmatic sanction. To issue from these difficulties, it was necessary that the declaration of Sept 6, 1529, should turn over to the grand council the cognizance of all the disputes to which the application of the concordat might give rise.
—From the concordat of Francis I., in 1516, to the concordat of Bonaparte, in 1801, there is a long stretch of time, nearly three centuries. The revolution found the concordat of Francis I. still in force, and shattered it, as it shattered everything connected with Catholicism. It would have crushed Catholicism itself, if the enemies of that religion had had power enough to annihilate it. It is certain that a violent hatred of the ancient national religion, a hatred which often rose to the pitch of delirium, characterized the revolutionary movement, and was common to the different parties which composed that movement. It is proper to indicate here the causes of this hatred. The Catholic religion had been the religion of the state under an absolute monarchy and at a time when religious toleration was little understood and still less practiced, not more in Protestant England than in Catholic France. The church, therefore, found itself, by the force of circumstances, connected with a system of intolerance, and compromised in acts of despotism, against which the revolution was bound to react with a despotism more intolerant, more violent still. The clergy were a privileged body, and their privileges had become odious to the nation. The clergy possessed great estates, and it was the impoverished state of the finances that caused the revolution. These were the causes which might be called intrinsic; but there were others The philosophy of the eighteenth century had made the church appear a partner in all the wrongs of the ancient régime. Now it was a breath of this skeptical philosophy that raised the revolutionary tempest. To the zeal of philosophers was joined, in the constituent and legislative assemblies, the low-voiced but stubborn hostility of a large number of Jansenists And then, as if these old enemies were not enough, there arose in the wake of the revolution whole classes of men bound by passion or their interest to complete the ruin of the old church—the apostate priests, and those who had acquired the national property.
—And still, at the dawn of the revolution, when all division seemed to die out before the first rays of nascent liberty, there were moments when impulse was so pure and enthusiasm so honest that men might have hoped for better things. But we know what followed religious liberty was proclaimed in every successive constitution from 1789 to the year VIII., but, although thus always proclaimed it was never respected. The law which placed the property of the clergy at the disposal of the state, initiated the division between the revolution and the church. Nor did men stop there: the essential laws of the church were soon violated by the civil constitution of the clergy, which "proves incontestably," says M. Jules Simon, "that, in the eyes of the constituent assembly, religious liberty had no existence whatever;" and from that day the rupture was complete. The civil constitution gave birth to schism, and soon after to persecution. The sad history of this persecution is known, and we shall not try to present it to the world anew. The reign of terror was followed by a régime less violent, which allowed men to draw breath, without, however, restoring freedom to religion or security to its ministers. But the faith which, in its infancy, did thrive under the whips of pagan anger, had, during long centuries, taken firm hold on French ground; and, the moment that lassitude in the governing powers, or a change in public opinion allowed the expression of religious feeling, striking proofs of its vitality became evident. "Numerous petitions are addressed to you," said Robert (of the coté d'or) to the five hundred, "from all parts of the republic; from all sides men ask you to restore religion." (Session of the 27th Prairial, year V.) At the same time Camille Jordan became the interpreter of the religious movement, and his report on religion produced a profound sensation. He demanded that religious liberty should cease to be a dead letter, and become a law. The generous words of Jordan found an echo in the councils, which the elections commenced to fill with new men; and the law of the 7th Fructidor, year V., abolished the laws punishing priests who had not taken the oath. But the directory and the greater part of the men in power who were the children of the revolution, had, as regards Catholicism, remained faithful to the tendencies of the convention. Rigorous measures, suspended for a time, were resumed after the coup d'état of the 18th Fructidor, and were continued until the 18th Brumaire. The régime born of this last day put the whole government in the hands of a single man. The genius of this man was so vast, and his will so mighty, that nothing could escape his all powerful action. On him, then, and on him alone, was to depend the régime to which the church was to be submitted. He, too, a child of the revolution, had, before he strangled it to his own advantage, defended it in a masterly manner against enemies from without and from within. He had been the protegé of Robespierre the younger, and of Barras. His ideas could not have been very favorable to Catholicism, judging from his celebrated proclamation of Alexandria, and yet in the face of this, whether it was by reason of his involuntary respect for the faith of his childhood, or through greatness of soul, or a presentiment of his future destiny, he had more than once broken completely with the traditions and views of the revolutionary government.
—It only depended on him, in the year V., whether he would overturn the government of the pope; the directory wished it; the road to Rome was clear; and Miot, ambassador of the republic at Florence, strained every nerve to destroy the temporal power. (Mémoires de Miot, I. 91.) Still, Bonaparte took upon himself to sign the treaty of Tolentino, which, while despoiling the pope of a part of his dominions, respected the principle on which his power was based. He even showed himself on this occasion prodigal of demonstrations of respect for the person of Plus VI. Some days beforehand, he had assumed the protection of the priests who had not taken the oath, and whom the French armies had found in the Roman states, and he obtained of the directory a decision authorizing the priests in France who had not taken the oath to seek an asylum in the possessions of the holy see.
—The spirit of wise and humane policy which had guided the commander-in-chief of the army of Italy, was seen again in the acts of the first consul. On his advent to power transportation ceased, and the prisons were thrown open. A certain number of churches were restored to the use of religion, and a simple promise of fidelity to the constitution replaced all the odious oaths which had been repeatedly exacted from the clergy. Under the shadow of this newly granted liberty the church was seen to rise slowly from its ruins. But the designs of the future emperor reached far beyond these measures of reparation. It was not his purpose that religion should rise up anew by its own strength alone, and by degrees. He wished it to be restored at once by a brilliant, and as it were, providential act. He wished the restoration to be his work. He had powerful and varied motives for proceeding in this way. He desired to have some religion restored to France, because, having religious instincts himself, he felt the need of religion to a great nation. He wished this religion to be the Catholic, because it was the religion of the greatest number, that which a long alliance and ancient memories identified with the destinies of the people. He wished this restoration to be immediate, because his genius, essentially an organizing one, could not see with indifference the state of trouble which reigned in men's consciences, and because it agreed with his tastes as well as his plans to astonish men by brilliant strokes. To sum up, he wished the restoration to be his own work. Looking on religion as a means of government, he made it a point not to leave it outside his circle of action; and he thought to secure for himself in this way the gratitude of the devout, and the docile concurrence of the clergy. Such were the secret feelings of the first consul, of which he gave the earliest public indications in a discourse addressed to the clergy of Milan, June 3, 1800.
—The following passages were noticed in it, "Persuaded that the apostolic Roman Catholic religion is the only one capable of securing real happiness to a well ordered society, and strengthening the basis of good government, I assure you that I shall devote myself to protecting and defending it at all times and with all means. * * * A society without religion is like a vessel without a compass. * * * France, made wise by misfortune, has opened her eyes at last. She has recognized that the Catholic religion was as an anchor, which could alone steady her in agitation and save her from the power of the tempest; she has, therefore, called it back again to her bosom. I can not deny that I have contributed much to this good work. * * *." Some days later Napoleon, the victor of Marengo, felt his glory sufficiently dazzling and his power sufficiently great, to brave the ridicule of his generals and break the resistance of his environment. In an interview with Martiniani, bishop of Vercelli, he threw out some brief words on the possibility of a reconciliation with the church; and these words, transmitted to Rome in all haste, formed the point of departure for the concordat.
—At that time more than two years had elapsed since the directory had taken possession of Rome, dragged the pope into exile, there to die, and ordered the dispersion of the sacred college. It seemed as though no conclave could be assembled, and that the papacy could not survive this shipwreck. Nevertheless, after the death of the prisoner of Valence, the conclave met at Venice, and in this assembly the best means for restoring peace to the church were adopted, and the envoy of cardinal Martiniani found the new pope at the threshold of Rome, into which he made a solemn entrance, July 3, 1800.
—To understand the feelings with which Pius VII. must have received the overtures made to him, it is necessary to picture to one's self the state of religion at that time in France. At that very period the return of quiet rendered the wounds made by schism more visible. Two and even three kinds of clergy stood face to face. The constitutional clergy were generally despised, but the ex-revolutionists protected them out of hatred to the clergy who had not taken the oath. These pastors, without congregations, retained many churches, however; and, although their number was diminished through apostasy, death and retraction, the most zealous of them, united in council, showed themselves intriguing enough and sufficiently infected with the spirit of sect to be an occasion of scandal and an obstacle to the progress of the faithful clergy. The latter were themselves divided. The greater number of priests who had not taken the oath did not think they were lacking in duty by taking advantage of the toleration of the government and promising submission to the laws. But others, yielding to excessive scruples, or blending political with religious faith, refused adhesion to an act which, in their eyes, implied recognition of the new state of affairs and adhesion to the crimes of the revolution. The number of clergy divided in this manner, was also considerably reduced the scaffold, massacres, the sufferings of transportation, the miseries attendant on a wandering life, had more than decimated them. Most of the bishops had taken refuge abroad. Many were living there yet, and corresponded as best they could with their dioceses. Those who had died could not be replaced, and the misery of the time did not permit the chapters to provide regularly for the administration of the vacant sees. Those priests alone who had promised submission to the laws were able to officiate in public in a limited number of churches, which they were often obliged to share with the constitutional worship and the ceremonies of the revolutionary decade. The others could celebrate worship only in a state of concealment in forests or private dwellings. Among laymen, several had felt their faith grow strong under persecution; but others, in great numbers, lost the habit of the practice of religion, from want of help from the clergy. The church was no longer called upon to baptize children, or to officiate at marriages and funerals. Many were even hostile to the church. To say nothing of the decay of religious edifices, and the want of things indispensable in the practice of religion, the clergy had nothing to live upon. Nothing remained to them of the patrimony which the devotion of past centuries had accumulated for the support of the church and the poor.
—Pius VII. therefore received with joy the message of peace which caused him to hope for improvement in a state of affairs which was sad enough. But if a prompt remedy was necessary, it was difficult of application. "At Paris," says M. Thiers, "there was a party of scoffers, of sectaries of the eighteenth century philosophy, of old Jansenists turned constitutional priests, and generals imbued with vulgar prejudices. These were the obstacles on the French side. At Rome there was fidelity to ancient precedents, fear of violating dogma by interfering with matters of discipline, distrust of everything born of the revolution, and a sympathy for the royalist party with which the church had experienced so much suffering and had so many memories in common. * * * These were the obstacles on the side of the holy see." But if it be true that the spiritual and temporal powers had never been confronted under more serious circumstances, it is also true that "they were never more worthily represented."—"This young man, of such good sense, the governor of France, so profound in his views, so impetuous in his desires—this young man was placed by a strange design of Providence on the world's stage in the presence of a pontiff of rare virtue, of evangelical face and character, but endowed with a tenacity capable of martyrdom if he believed the interest of the faith or the Roman court compromised."
—The negotiator sent by Pius VII. was Monsignor Spina, archbishop of Corinth, who had shared the captivity and closed the eyes of Pius VI. With him, as an assistant, came father Caselh, general of the Barnabites, a consummate theologian. The first consul had chosen the abbé Bernier, the able and fortunate pacificator of the Vendée, to treat with the representatives of Rome. Spina and Caselh arrived at Paris in the month of October, 1800, and negotiations commenced at once.
—According to M. Thiers the original plan of the first consul was essentially the same or nearly the same, as that embodied in the concordat: removal of all the old titulary bishops, new formation of dioceses, 60 sees instead of 158, a new clergy, formed of ecclesiastics of all parties, nomination of bishops by the first consul, confirmation by the pope, nomination of pastors by the bishops, promise of submission to the state, payment of the clergy by the state, renunciation of church property, complete recognition of the sale of this property, etc.
—The court of Rome accepted certain of these provisions and rejected others, allowing itself sometimes to be guided by its traditions which it could hardly forget (thus, it insisted on obtaining for the church the title of state religion), but more frequently listening to a higher voice, as when it forbade despoiling old bishops of their sees, when they would not resign. It forebore to strike venerable prelates, who, through persecution and poverty, had shown an inviolable fidelity to the church; and it is doubtful if it thought it had the right to do so. As to the constitutional clergy, apart from a lively repugnance to intrust them with sees, Rome made a point of obtaining from them a complete retraction of their errors. As to the nomination of bishops by the chief of the state, Rome demanded a reservation in case one of the successors of the first consul should be a Protestant. With regard to the sale of church property, the Roman negotiator, while renouncing the recovery of what had been sold, opposed every formula implying moral approbation of what had been done, or the recognition of the right of selling. He demanded the restoration of property not yet alienated, and the power of acquiring new property.
—The negotiations were long. The agents were full of good will; but Spina could not take it on himself to make certain sacrifices; and Bernier, an instrument of the first consul, full of dexterity, had not the authority necessary to modify the ideas to which his chief was attached. Notwithstanding marvelous sagacity and a penetration of unexampled keenness, Napoleon was a stranger to ecclesiastical questions, and could not appreciate at their value all the difficulties which he met. His imperious will, though still accessible to the voice of reason, was irritated at a resistance which he could not always account for. Moreover, there was no one at his side with authority and learning sufficient to clear his mind. The minister of foreign affairs, Talleyrand, alone could have done it; but, according to M. Thiers, Talleyrand showed himself, by reason of his personal situation, little inclined to assist in restoring the altars which he himself had forsaken. The end was hastened by an incident which at first appeared menacing. Impatient of delay, the first consul summoned the negotiators together, rebuked Spina for the assumed had intentions of the court of Rome, threatened to cut off all negotiations, and sent to M. Cacault, his ambassador at Rome, an order to quit the city if the proposal which he sent should not be accepted within three days. Cacault, an honest and clear sighted minister, a warm admirer of the first consul, and sincerely devoted to the holy see, was stricken down by the news. It was no more possible for the pope to accept the project in its entirety than for the ambassador to disobey the orders received. In this extremity, Cacault, while retiring to Florence, prevailed on cardinal Consalvi, the prime minister, to depart with him and visit Paris to follow up the negotiations. He thought justly that this step would satisfy the first consul; and, on the other hand, he believed that Consalvi had, beyond all others, the ability and authority necessary to terminate the great work. The cardinal arrived at Paris very much disturbed, and greatly impressed by the task which had been assigned him; but at last, after three weeks of labor, discussion and painful struggle, it seemed that an agreement had been reached, and a decree of 23rd Messidor, year IX., appointed Joseph Bonaparte, Crétet, minister of the interior, and abbé Bernier to sign the concordat on behalf of France. The "first consul," wrote Maret, in sending a copy of the decree to Joseph, "desires this negotiation to be ended within 24 hours. He greatly desires that the coming convention should bear the date of July 14." In spite of this desire, the concordat could not be signed on that date, an incident related in the memoirs of cardinal Consalvi (Cretineau Joly, l'Eglise romaine en face de la Révolution, vol. i., p. 282) having reopened the discussion. Finally, at 2 o'clock in the night between the 26th and 27th Messidor, the concordat was concluded and signed, thanks partly to the honorable initiative of Joseph Bonaparte. Cardinal Consalvi set out almost immediately for Rome; and one month later a special courier arrived bringing the ratification of the holy father. On the demand of the first consul, cardinal Caprara was sent as a legate to watch over the execution of the concordat; for there were many details yet to regulate the dismissal of old bishops, the making out of new sees, the choice of new bishops. Portalis, minister of public worship, and the abbé Bernier, did what they could in these questions, but whenever their master had fixed ideas they were powerless. Thus it was, that, in spite of the legate and even of Portalis, the first consul gave the constitutional clergy a large share in the new appointments Two motives, entirely political, guided him in this. He did not wish to appear to repudiate altogether the heritage of the revolution, and, insisting on the dependence of men, he was much more sure of these clergy than of the priests who had not taken the oath. These negotiations, the preparation of the organic articles, and certain absurdities of opposition, which appeared in the bosom of the assembly, delayed the publication of the concordat. It was at last submitted to the chambers in an extraordinary session held in Germinal of year X. At the same time a law was presented on the organization of worship, known under the name of organic articles, and to which we must refer directly. A statement of the reasons for this law, drawn up by Portalis, accompanied the law, which met with no serious opposition. The wish of the first consul was well known. The two bills became law on the 18th Germinal, year X. (April 8, 1802). The first consul assisted at the Te Deum solemnly chanted at Notre Dame, in honor of the fact of general peace and the reconciliation with the church.
—We can not describe here, even in an abridged form, the struggle which the ambition of Napoleon, impatient of resistance, brought about between the empire and the papacy—a struggle which followed quickly after the friendly relations of the period of the concordat, and Napoleon's consecration. The person and the states of the pope came quickly and easily under the control of the all-powerful emperor, but for a long time all this power was broken by the passive resistance of the holy father. At last, a captive, weakened by moral and physical suffering, isolated from his counselors, beset with all kinds of suggestions, Pius VII. yielded to the personal ascendency of the emperor, and signed the concordat of 1813 (Jan. 25). This act involved a complete abandonment of the temporal power; and, as to the spiritual, it narrowed down the authority of the pope. In the matter of canonical institution, it limited the pope to a delay of six months, after which the right of confirmation devolved on the metropolitan. But after Pius VII. had regained his courage, in the presence of his counselors, and taken advice of Consalvi, Pacca, di Pietro, and others, he recalled the consent he had given in a moment of weakness (March 24, 1813); and, the fall of the empire coming soon after, the concordat of Fontainebleau was never carried out.
—The restoration, in its first years, adhered to the concordat of 1801, but the number of dioceses created had become insufficient. The need of establishing new ones, and remodeling the old limits, brought about lengthy negotiations with the holy see. M. de Blacas concluded (June 11, 1817) a new convention, which re-established the concordat of Francis I. That of 1801 ceased to be binding, and the organic articles were abrogated in everything contrary to the doctrine and laws of the church. An endowment of real property and an income was to be assured to the sees already existing, as well as to those to be newly created, also to seminaries, parishes and chapters. The opinion of the chambers, strongly expressed before the discussion, caused the withdrawal of the proposed law, and the holy see was forced to renounce the carrying out of the new concordat. The law of July 4, 1821, was used as a supplement, which authorized the king, in accord with the pope, to establish 30 new archbishoprics or bishoprics. The concordat of 1801 remained in force, and is yet the law by which France is governed.
—Concordat of 1801. A short preamble recalls the fact that the apostolic Roman Catholic religion is the religion of the state and the religion of the great majority of Frenchmen, and that the consuls have made a "special profession" of it. It is further stated, in article 1, that it shall be "freely practiced" in France, and its celebration shall be public, in accordance with the police regulations which the government shall judge necessary for public tranquillity. Articles 2, 3, 4 and 9 relate to the new boundaries of dioceses and parishes, to the dismissal of old incumbents, and the appointment of new bishops whom the first consul shall nominate, and whom his holiness may confirm according to the rules established in relation to France before the change of government.
—By article 5 the nomination to bishoprics which shall become vacant hereafter shall be made by the first consul, and the canonical confirmation shall be given by the holy see, in conformity with the preceding article. Articles 6 and 7 relate to the oath of obedience and fidelity to the established government to be given by the bishops, and clergy of the second order; article 8, to the form of prayer to be recited for the government, at the end of the religious offices. According to article 10 "The bishops shall appoint the priests to parishes. Their choice must fall upon persons accepted by the government." By article 11 the bishops may have a chapter in their cathedrals, and a seminary for their diocese; but the government shall not be obliged to endow them. Article 12 treats of the restitution of churches not alienated; and 13, of purchasers of national property, whom his holiness and his successors will not in any way disturb. By article 14 the government promises to assure a decent maintenance to the bishops and priests; and by article 15, that Catholics may make donations in favor of the churches. In article 16 his holiness recognizes in the first consul of the French republic the same rights and prerogatives which the previous government enjoyed. In case one of the successors of the first consul should not be a Catholic, the rights and prerogatives mentioned in the above article, and the nomination to bishoprics, shall be regulated, as regards said successor, by a new convention.
—This act gave rise to two grievances. It was said that the pope had exceeded the limits of his power by instituting new incumbents when the old ones had not thought it their duty to submit, and in promising, for himself and his successors, not to seek the restoration of church property. This opinion, held by a small number of ecclesiastics, and even by laymen, as devoted as they were obstinate, gave birth to a sect known under the name of petite Eglise, which did not wish to recognize the concordat. On the other hand, it was set forth that an excessive latitude in canonical confirmation in the case of bishops had been left the holy see, and that, in the right of refusal, it should have been limited to a fixed period. This is the modification which Napoleon wished to have sanctioned by the council of 1811, and which we have seen introduced in the convention of 1813. De Pradt, yielding doubtless to personal resentment, long sustained this thesis. M. Thiers answered him in these terms: "To fix a delay of some months, after which the papal confirmation should be considered as made, would be to deprive the pope of his spiritual authority, and raise nothing less than the memorable question of investitures." Admitting that the religious authority of the holy see might at times systematically refuse institution, in order thus to obtain concessions from the government, this could only be a transient abuse, and less dangerous than if the choice of bishops were left absolutely to the civil power.
—The organic articles raised more serious disputes, which are not yet terminated. They have been the object of protests from the holy see, and French Catholics have combated them on many occasions. As the greatest of these, we must cite the eloquent discourse delivered by M. de Montalembert before the chamber of peers, April 16, 1844, and a charge of Mgr. de Bonald, archbishop of Lyons, Nov. 21, 1844, which was suppressed afterward by royal command, in consequence of being challenged as an abuse of power. The anonymous author of a remarkable pamphlet, entitled "Religious Liberty and Present Legislation," has criticised it severely from a liberal point of view. The organic articles found also zealous defenders, among whom Dupin showed himself the most ardent. He makes them the foundation of public ecclesiastical law in France, and claims that the state would renounce itself could it ever renounce them. M. Thiers defended them also. He maintained that this law was, for the French government, an internal act altogether, which concerned it alone, and on this account should not be submitted to the holy see. It is enough that they contain nothing contrary to the concordat to deprive the court of Rome of a reasonable ground of complaint. It is true that subsequently these articles became one of the grievances of the court of Rome against Napoleon, but they were rather a pretext than a veritable grievance. They had, moreover, been communicated to cardinal Caprara, who did not appear shocked on reading them, if we are to judge by what he communicated to his court. He made certain reservations and counseled the holy father "not to be troubled by them, hoping the articles would not be executed rigorously." There is much to be said on this judgment. It seems certain that the legate, Caprara, had knowledge of the organic articles, but that, beset by difficulties and annoyances of every kind, he opposed them only feebly. At Rome, however, the matter was estimated differently. In an allocution addressed to the sacred college on Ascension day, 1802, and published immediately after, Pius VII., while announcing that the concordat had just been promulgated, declared, at the same time, that the "joy he felt at the restoration of religion in France, was embittered by the organic laws which had been drawn up without his knowing anything of them, and, most important of all, without his having approved them." At the same time representations were made to the French government to modify the articles. A decree of Oct. 28, 1810, redressed some of the grievances of the church. Thus the prohibition to ordain an ecclesiastic under twenty-five years of age, or without property yielding at least an annual revenue of three hundred francs, was repealed, as well as the law providing that vicars general of vacant sees should occupy their places even after the death of the bishop, and until the appointment of their successors. As to the provisions which still remain, it is evident that many of them do not in any way violate the principles of the concordat, and that some of them provide for its execution; such are the articles relative to the boundaries of dioceses, and the salaries of the clergy; but this is not true of all. If we agree with M. Thiers, that the government alone had the right of itself to make every home regulation, not contrary to the concordat, Catholics and friends of religious liberty ask how one can reconcile article 1 of the concordat, "the apostolic Roman Catholic religion shall be practiced freely in France," with the organic articles, which require the bishops to obtain a government authorization if they wish to meet, at home, or with the rest of the church in council, and which forbade ordination in any case without the consent of the government—an arrangement which enables the state to force the church to self extinction, and which puts dogma itself in the hands of the state, because no bull, no letter, no rescript or decree, either of the pope or a general council, can be received or printed in France without the permission of the government, and because on certain points, it forced in the seminaries the teaching of the doctrine most acceptable to itself. The defenders of the law of Germinal answer, on the one hand, that this same article 1 accords to government the right of framing "such rules as it shall deem necessary to public tranquillity," and, on the other, that the provisions said to be oppressive are nothing more than "the ancient maxims, traditions and usages of the church of France."
—They do not consider that the restriction of this article is not applied in the text, as in reason it can not be applied, except to the publicity of worship, and not to its liberty, which can not depend on police regulations. Therefore there is no ground of complaint against article 45. which prohibits religious ceremonies outside the church, in towns where there are temples, devoted to different kinds of worship. As to the traditions and maxims invoked, it can be shown that, if they are attributed to the church, they form put of an order of ideas and facts at present destroyed, and outside of which they have no reason to exist.
—They are the veritable ruins of the ancient régime, without right of survival. However it be regarded, the law of Germinal, year X, embracing the concordat and the organic laws, is still in force in its entirety, in spite of the protestations of the church.
—Concordats with other countries than France. We here confine ourselves to saying something of the principal concordats concluded since the beginning of the century. There existed, before 1859, various concordats between the holy see and several states of the Italian peninsula, notably with the kingdom of Sardinia (at different times), with the kingdom of the Two Sicilies (Feb. 16, 1818), and the grand duchy of Tuscany (April 25, 1851). It is known how the unity of Italy was brought about, and what are the present relations of that kingdom with the holy see. In this violent and provisional state of affairs it is useless or impossible to give the facts of the different treaties, or the régime which has succeeded them, or that which the future reserves for the church in that country.
—Spain was governed by a concordat passed March 16, 1851, according to which the Roman Catholic apostolic religion shall continue, to the exclusion of every other, to be the only religion of the Spanish nation, and is to be maintained, so far as his Catholic majesty has the power, "in all the rights and prerogatives which it should enjoy according to the law of God and canonical sanction." Education in all the colleges, universities. etc., must conform to the Catholic doctrine, and the bishops, "whose duty it is to watch over the education of youth in regard to morals and faith," shall meet no obstacle in the performance of that duty.
—The bishops, and the clergy under them, shall enjoy the same rights in all else that regards their functions, especially in what concerns the sacred office of ordination. The government shall assure the respect due them, and lend its aid, "notably in preventing the publication, introduction or circulation of immoral and harmful books." That concordat changed the boundaries of dioceses, regulated the affairs of territories dependent on military orders, ecclesiastical jurisdiction, chapters, benefices. The right of presentation to certain of the latter was reserved to the pope; others were left to the queen. Religious orders of men or women, who to contemplation add some work of charity or public utility, as education, care of the sick, missions, etc., are retained or re-established. An income is guaranteed to the bishops, the priests, the churches, and the seminaries. The right of the church to own and acquire new property is recognized in its integrity. As to property of which it had been previously despoiled, whatever has not been alienated was to be restored; but whatever the state has taken may be sold, and the price invested in government bonds, for the benefit of the rightful owner. The holy see renounces its right to property already alienated. With regard to unforeseen points, the concordat refers to the canons and the discipline of the church. The execution of this concordat was suspended for a short time by the difficulties which sprang up between the holy see and the Spanish government in 1855; but this dispute was settled, and the concordat re-established. The revolution of 1868 intervened to suspend anew the execution of the Spanish concordat.
—On Feb. 21, 1857, a concordat was signed with Portugal, on the question of the right to presentation to sees in China and the Indies. This was ratified April 15, 1859, by the Portuguese chambers. In virtue of this right the crown of Portugal has the privilege of presentation to the sees of Goa, Malacca and Macao—Catholic, and even Protestant, Germany has a large number of these treaties. The Bavarian concordat is dated June 5, 1817; that of Prussia, July 16, 1821, those of the ancient ecclesiastical provinces of the Rhine, Aug 16, 1821. April 7, 1827; that of Hanover, March 26, 1824.
—A concordat dated Aug. 18, 1855, had put an end to the difficulties which the policy of Josephism had caused between Austria and Rome. This document, and the complementary articles added to it, are too lengthy to find a place here. They may be found in the ecclesiastical annals which form a supplement to abbé Rohrbacher's "Histoire de l'Eglise," (Paris, 1861, Gaume). The right therein mentioned of the priest and people "to communicate freely with the holy see in spiritual and ecclesiastical affairs," may be referred to. The right of the church to hold property is recognized. The emperor has the presentation to bishoprics and benefices. On account of the modifications in Austria, in its form of government, it became a question to revise the concordat in agreement with the holy see; but, not being able to come to an agreement, the Austrian government freed itself, purely and simply, from the provisions of the concordat. The rules, however, regarding the nomination of ecclesiastics continued to be practiced. Wurtemburg concluded a concordat June 22, 1857, and the grand duchy of Baden, June 28, 1859; but this last, rejected by the Baden legislature, never came into force.
—The government of the Netherlands concluded a concordat June 18, 1827. It was not put into execution. Then followed the revolution which separated Belgium from Holland. In 1841 king William II resumed negotiations with Gregory XVI., but the state of men's minds caused them to be postponed.
—At length, in 1853, a papal bull established, with the acquiescence of the government, the Catholic hierarchy in Holland, although the tendency of Dutch legislation is to separate the state and church as much as possible.
—It is known what persecution the Roman Catholic church has suffered in Poland since the conquest of that unfortunate country Pope Gregory XVI. published, July 22, 1842, a statement detailing his efforts "to remedy the ills of the Catholic religion in Poland and Russia," a document which made a sensation in Europe. Some years later Russia signed a concordat which relieved some of the grievances of the holy see (Aug. 3, 1847). The other points were to be settled by a subsequent convention, but this treaty, once signed, was laid aside, and, during the life of the emperor Nicholas, was not even published. It was made public only in 1856, and then but partially. An account of this publication and the manner in which the concordat was carried out may be found in the work of the priest Louis Lescoeur, L'Eglise catholique en Pologne. Swedish legislation has, up to the present, been too much opposed to liberty of conscience for the Catholic church to have its existence in that country guaranteed by a regular treaty. There is no concordat in England, but, thanks to the freedom that there reigns, the Catholic church is now able to raise its head, so long bent under the weight of proscriptive laws.
—The republic of Costa Rica concluded a concordat Oct. 7, 1852. The bishops have the right of supervising education, and the publication of books relating to the dogmas of faith, to the discipline of the church, and the public purity of morals. The bishops, as well as the clergy and the people, may communicate freely with the holy see. Compensation is assured the church in lieu of the tithes which were abolished by authorization of the holy see. The government has the right of presentation to the church of St. Joseph, and the greater part of the dignities of the chapter. The charges of parish churches are granted, according to the prescriptions of the council of Trent, through the agency of public examination or competition. All civil suits of the clergy are within the jurisdiction of lay judges, as well as criminal cases. But for the latter, the quality of the culprit involves certain special measures. Thus, the bishop must be informed at once of the arrest of an ecclesiastic. The right of the church to possess property is recognized. No obstacle to the establishment of religious houses shall be raised. The holy see renounces the recovery of ecclesiastical property which has been sold.
—This convention was the first of the series of concordats concluded with the American republics of Guatemala (1853), Hayti (1860), Honduras (1861), Ecuador, Venezuela, Nicaragua and San Salvador (1862).
—BIBLIOGRAPHY. Fleury, Histire ecclésiastique; De Pradt. les Quatre Concordats, 1817; Thiers, Histoire du Consulat et de l'Empire; Ed. Laboulaye, Des Rapports mutuels, de l'Eglise catholique et de l'etat, à l' occasion des attaques dirigées contre les articles organiques du concordat de 1801 (Revue de législation, vol. xii., p. 449; 1845); Jules Simon, La Liberté de conscience, Paris, Hachette, 1857; La Liberté religiense et la Législation actuelle, Paris, Dumineray, 1860; Dupin, Manuel du droit ecclésiastique français, Paris, Plon, 1860; Conventiones de rebus ecclesiasticis inter sanctam sedem et civilem potestatem, Moguntiæ, 1870; Prince Albert de Broglie, La Souveraineté pontificale et la Liberté, Paris, Douniol, 1862; Warnkönig, Die staatsrechtliche Stellung der kitholischen Kirche in den katholischen Ländern des deutschen Reichs, Erlangeu, 1855. See also the Deutsches Staatsworterbuch, of Bluntschli and Brater, Stuttgart and Leipsig, 1860, vol. v., also the Staatslexicon of Rotteck and Welker, vol. iii., Leipsig, Brockhaus, 1859.
GASTON DE BOURGE.
Return to top