Church and State in the Modern Age: A Documentary History

By J. F. MacLear | Go to book overview

grief to us that the law . . . proclaims as property of the state, departments, or communes the ecclesiastical edifices dating from before the Concordat. True, the law concedes the gratuitous use of them, for an indefinite period, to the associations of worship, but it surrounds the concession with so many and so serious reserves that in reality it leaves to the public powers the full disposition of them. Moreover, we entertain the gravest fears for the sanctity of those temples. . . . For they are certainly in danger of profanation if they fall into the hands of laymen.

When the law, by the suppression of the Budget of Public Worship, exonerates the state from the obligation of providing for the expenses of worship, it violates an engagement contracted in a diplomatic convention. . . . When the French government assumed in the Concordat the obligation of supplying the clergy with a revenue sufficient for their decent subsistence and for the requirements of public worship, the concession was not a merely gratuitous one -- it was an obligation assumed by the state to make restitution, at least in part, to the Church whose property had been confiscated during the first Revolution. On the other hand, when the Roman Pontiff in this same Concordat bound himself and his successors . . . not to disturb the possessors of property thus taken from the Church, he did so only on one condition: that the French government should bind itself in perpetuity to endow the clergy suitably and to provide for the expenses of divine worship.

* * *

Hence. . . . we . . . condemn the law . . . for the separation of Church and state as deeply unjust to God, whom it denies, and as laying down the principle that the Republic recognizes no cult. We . . . condemn it as violating the natural law, the law of nations, and fidelity to treaties; as contrary to the divine constitution of the Church, to her essential rights and to her liberty; as destroying justice and trampling under foot the rights of property which the Church has acquired by many titles and, in addition, by virtue of the Concordat. We . . . condemn it as gravely offensive to the dignity of this Apostolic See, to our own person, to the episcopacy and to the clergy and all the Catholics of France. Therefore, we protest solemnly and with all our strength against the introduction, the voting, and the promulgation of this law. . . .

Source: The American Catholic Quarterly Review, Vol. XXXI ( 1906), pp. 209-217. Latin text in Acta Sanctae Sedis ( Rome, 1906), XXXIX, 3-16.


SUGGESTIONS FOR BACKGROUND AND REFERENCE

M. J. M. Larkin, "The Vatican, French Catholics, and the Associations Cultuelles", Journal of Modern History, Vol. XXXVI, No. 3 ( September 1964), pp. 298-317.

J. McManners, Church and State in France, 1870- 1914 ( New York, 1972), pp. 166-175. References for Documents 119 and 120.

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