to Protestants and Jews, Catholicism was acknowledged as 'the religion of the majority of the French'. To resolve yet another legacy from the Revolution, Napoleon convinced the pope to recognize as permanent the sale and transfer of church lands (biens nationaux) during the 1790s. In creating a new form of Gallicanism, the Concordat - and the Organic Articles that Napoleon added to the original agreement - followed certain practices set up by the Civil Constitution of the Clergy, but tempered others. As in 1790, the secular clergy and the bishops would become salaried employees of the state and there would be no attempt to resurrect the vast system of regular clergy from the ancien regime. Avoiding the debacle of the oath of 1790-91, Napoleon specified that the clergy must declare loyalty to the government but did not demand an oath to the specifics of the Concordat. Nor would there be elections of cures or bishops.
Rather, bishops would appoint cures. Napoleon himself would nominate all bishops and the pope would invest them with holy office. The number of dioceses would once again be reduced: only fifty bishops would be appointed within France's pre-1792 borders (sixty including the Belgian and Rhineland areas). Despite Pius VII's hesitations and regrets, the final agreement also stipulated that all current bishops -whether juror or non-juror -had to resign. In essence, this provision gave Napoleon the opportunity to weed out the most oppositional Gallican and Roman prelates and to designate a new clerical leadership that should be loyal and dependent upon him. The Concordat created deep divisions among the episcopate. Thirty-eight of ninety-three bishops surviving from the ancien regime refused to accept it, and some would play an integral role in setting up local resistance known as the Petite Eglise. Moreover, Bonaparte and the pope soon became involved in struggles over the choice of bishops. In the short term, Napoleon managed to override the pope's rejection of twelve constitutional prelates, but years later, when imprisoned by the emperor, the pope simply refused to invest bishops nominated by his captor.
Just before the promulgation of the Concordat, Napoleon added his own set of Organic Articles to the Concordat without the knowledge or agreement of the papal envoy. These seventy-three Articles clarified state supervision of the church hierarchy. Specific regulations curtailed clerical independence. No papal bull could be promulgated without state sanction. Bishops required government permission to leave their dioceses or establish chapters or seminaries. The state retained the right to remove most cures from their posts. Moreover, the Organic Articles created a new Ministry of Religion (Cultes) to oversee and negotiate with the church. The first Minister of Religion, Jean-Etienne-Marie Portalis, shared Napoleon's pragmatic desire to allay the old divisions among
Was this article helpful?