Website accessibility
Show or hide the menu bar
Main home
Section home
|
Content
Calendar
Links
|
Log in
|
Home

Concordat Watch - France - content area

Napoleon's concordat and Organic Articles (1801): texts and commentary

Napoleon's concordat restored many Church privileges which had been lost during the Revolution, and he called it a “convention” to try to keep it from sounding like a betrayal of the Revolution. However, some of the concessions to the Church granted in the concordat were quietly rescinded by a unilateral addition to it, the “Organic Articles”. Pope Pius VII was furious.
 

Napoleon's concordat: Introduction and summary

The French were to be given just the right dose of Catholicism: enough to “oblige the faithful to pray for the Republic”, but not so much that Protestants were once more driven to rebel. Napoleon's method of doing this was twofold: a Concordat, signed by the pope, and his own unilateral Organic Articles which effectively amended it.

Napoleon's concordat (1801): text

In most of France this concordat lasted for just over a century. During that time, however, Alsace-Moselle became a part of Germany, and when it returned to France, it brought back Napoleon's concordat, though only for this territory, not the rest of the country. There it remains in force today.

Organic Articles: How Napoleon tamed the concordat

The Organic Articles remind us of the ways in which French Catholicism had gone wrong, for it reads like a list of attempts to prevent past problems from re-appearing. These "amendments" to the concordat are intended to head off sectarian strife, clerical abuses and counterrevolution by diehards like the Royal and Catholic Army in the Vendee.

 

Organic Articles (1801): text

This is Napoleon’s unilateral appendix to the Concordat. His method of bringing a concordat under partial legislative control by modifying it retroactively was later imitated in Germany. However, the Vatican now stresses that concordats are international treaties which cannot be overridden by national laws.

Imperial catechism (1806) : Extract

Cardinal Caprara, the papal legate, approved the Imperial Catechism for use in all the churches of France. A preliminary version was issued just two years after the signing of the concordat, when Naploeon knew he could count on the cooperation of the Catholic clergy. According to this, the real meaning of the Fourth Commandment, inscribed by God on a stone tablet that he gave to Moses, is that one should obey Napoleon.

Napoleon’s concordat lives on in Alsace-Moselle and the Kaiser gave it another one

In Alsace-Moselle, beside the German border, the state pays the salaries of the clerics and the expenses of their churches. Although this border area was twice conquered by Germany and then returned to France, an excuse was always found to maintain Napoleon’s concordat. This concordat has been used to justify further ones. In 2013 it was upheld by the French Constitutional Court.


Go to Notanant menuWebsite accessibility

Access level: public

This site uses cookies. By continuing to use this site you agree to our use of cookies: OK