Church and State in the Modern Age: A Documentary History

By J. F. MacLear | Go to book overview
1. The constitutional law of the kingdom shall no longer recognize solemn monastic vows of persons of either sex. Consequently, the regular orders and congregations in which such vows have been made are and shall remain suppressed in France, and no similar ones may be established in the future.
2. All individuals of either sex living in monasteries and religious houses may leave them by making a declaration before the local municipality, and a suitable pension shall immediately be provided for them. Also, houses shall be set aside to which the religious who do not wish to profit by the provision of the present article shall be required to withdraw. Moreover, for the present no change shall be made with regard to houses charged with public education nor with charitable establishments until a decision shall be taken in these matters.
3. Nuns may remain in the houses where they are at present, and they are expressly excepted from the article which obliges monks to consolidate several houses into one.

Source: Jean B. Duvergier (ed.), Collection complète des lois, décrets, ordonnances, règlements, avis du conseil d'état ( Paris, 1834- 1906), 1, 100.


SUGGESTIONS FOR BACKGROUND AND REFERENCE

P. Nourrisson, Histoire légale des congrégations religieuses en France depuis 1789 ( Paris, 1928), 1, 1-79.

References for Document 28.


31
Civil Constitution of the Clergy (Extracts) July 12, 1790

The ecclesiastical committee of the National Assembly made its report in May 1790, and the Constitution was passed on July 12. The term "civil" suggested the state's concern with external rather than doctrinal aspects of the church and also the clergy's new position as salaried functionaries of the state. The king was reluctant to assent to the measure but eventually did so. The pope did not openly disclose his opposition until the following year. The French clergy divided, a majority of lower clergy and a small minority of bishops at first accepting the new arrangements. The opposition, which grew after the imposition of the oath and the papal condemnation, challenged the right of the civil power unilaterally to alter the constitution of the church. Apostolic succession was barely preserved by the willingness of a few bishops, notably Talleyrand, to serve the Constitutional Church. Yet the schism grew rapidly and involved the laity.

The Constitution reflected Gallicanism in the scant regard paid to papal authority. The Enlightenment was evident in the concern for a reasoned and balanced simplification of the entire ecclesiastical structure, which, in fact, exactly paralleled the provisions in the making for civil administration. The elective principle, permitting non-Catholics to

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