The Concordat of 1801: A Study of the Problem of Nationalism in the Relations of Church and State

By Henry H. Walsh | Go to book overview

PREFACE

ONE of the most outstanding characteristics of the doctrine of nationalism has been its success in winning converts. Christianity has been justly famed for having conquered the Græco-Roman World in the brief space of three hundred years, but the doctrine of nationalism has conquered even a greater area in less than half that time.

The inherent antagonism between these two systems is at once evident. The universal ethics of the Church is nullified by an exclusive ethics of a nation. If both institutions are true to their fundamental doctrine there would seem to be no possibility of peace between them; either the Church or nationalism, as we know it today, must abandon the field. The latter, according to its most recent exponents in Italy and Germany, leads logically to a completely integrated state; the former may not survive in such a state. This is the portentous struggle that is taking place between Church and state today, and it is of vital significance to the welfare of civilization.

The Concordat of 1801 was for all intents and purposes the beginning of the Church's considered attempt to deal with the new problem that had been forced upon it by the French Revolution. This book is an endeavor to make clear the fundamental issues that were involved in the negotiations of 1801 between the Papacy and the French Republic. It does not profess to be a study of the substance and operation of the Concordat itself, but rather of the opinions of contemporary leaders of various schools of thought that were in vogue during the Napoleonic régime. In this regard the especial interest of the book is centered

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