Civil Constitution of the Clergy

The Civil Constitution of the Clergy (French: "Constitution civile du clergé") was a law passed on 12 July 1790 during the French Revolution, that caused the immediate subordination of the Catholic Church in France to the French government.[1]

Earlier legislation had already arranged the confiscation of the Catholic Church's French land holdings and banned monastic vows. This new law completed the destruction of the monastic orders, outlawing "all regular and secular chapters for either sex, abbacies and priorships, both regular and in commendam, for either sex", etc. It also sought to settle the chaos caused by the earlier confiscation of Church lands and the abolition of the tithe.[2] Additionally, the Civil Constitution of the Clergy regulated the current dioceses so that they could become more uniform and aligned with the administrative districts that had recently been created.[3] It emphasised that officials of the church could not provide commitment to anything outside France, specifically the Pope (due to his power and the influence he had) which was outside France.[3] Lastly, the Civil Constitution of the Clergy made Bishops and Priests elected.[3] By having members of the Clergy elected the church lost much of the authority it had to govern itself and was now subject to the people, since they would vote on the Priest and Bishops as opposed to these individuals being appointed by the church and the hierarchy within.[3]

The Civil Constitution of the Clergy was passed and some of the support for this came from figures that were within the Church, such as the priest and parliamentarian Pierre Claude François Daunou, and, above all, the revolutionary priest Henri Grégoire, who was the first French Catholic priest to take the Obligatory Oath. The measure was opposed, but ultimately acquiesced to, by King Louis XVI.

Je jure de maintenir la constitution
A commemorative plate from 1790 shows a curate swearing the Constitution.

Document outline

The Civil Constitution of the Clergy has four titles with different articles.

  • The document begins with an introduction that introduced why the document was written.
  • Title I focuses on the dioceses and how they were to be administered.
  • Title II focuses on the administration of the dioceses and how elections were to take place.
  • Title III focuses on payment because the Clergy was a salaried employee of the State.[4]
  • Title IV focuses on the living requirements for bishops, parish priests, and the curates.

Status of the Church in France before the Civil Constitution

Even before the Revolution and the Civil Constitution of the Clergy, the Catholic Church in France (the Gallican Church) had a status that tended to subordinate the Church to the State. Under the Declaration of the Clergy of France (1682) privileges of the French monarch included the right to assemble church councils in their dominions and to make laws and regulations touching ecclesiastical matters of the Gallican Church or to have recourse to the "appeal as from an abuse" ("appel comme d'abus") against acts of the ecclesiastical power.

Decret de l'Assemblée National qui supprime les Ordres Religieux et Religieuses
In this caricature, after the decree of 16 February 1790, monks and nuns enjoy their new freedom.

Even prior to the Civil Constitution of the Clergy:[5]

  • On 11 August 1789 tithes were abolished.
  • On 2 November 1789, Catholic Church property that was held for purposes of church revenue was nationalized, and was used as the backing for the assignats.
  • On 13 February 1790, monastic vows were forbidden and all ecclesiastical orders and congregations were dissolved, excepting those devoted to teaching children and nursing the sick.
  • On 19 April 1790, administration of all remaining church property was transferred to the State.

Motivation of the Civil Constitution

The following interlinked factors appear to have been the causes of agitation for the confiscation of church lands and for the adoption of the Civil Constitution of the Clergy:[6]

  1. The French government in 1790 was nearly bankrupt; this fiscal crisis had been the original reason for the king's calling the Estates-General in 1789.
  2. The Church owned about six percent of the land in France.[7] In addition the Church collected tithes.
    • The Church used the six percent of the land they owned for a multitude of purposes which included churches, monasteries, convents, schools, hospitals, and other establishments which served the people of France.[8]
  3. Owing, in part, to abuses of this system (especially for patronage), there was enormous resentment of the Church, taking the various forms of atheism, anticlericalism, and anti-Catholicism.
  4. Many of the revolutionaries viewed the Catholic Church as a retrograde force.
  5. At the same time, there was enough support for a basically Catholic form of Christianity that some means had to be found to fund the Church in France.

Debate over the Civil Constitution

On 6 February 1790, one week before banning monastic vows, the National Constituent Assembly asked its ecclesiastical committee to prepare the reorganization of the clergy. No doubt, those who hoped to reach a solution amenable to the papacy were discouraged by the consistorial address of March 22 in which Pius VI spoke out against measures already passed by the Assembly; also, the election of the Protestant Jean-Paul Rabaut Saint-Étienne to the presidency of the Assembly brought about "commotions" at Toulouse and Nîmes, suggesting that at least some Catholics would accept nothing less than a return to the ancien régime practice under which only Catholics could hold office.[9]

The Civil Constitution of the Clergy came before the Assembly on 29 May 1790. François de Bonal, Bishop of Clermont, and some members of the Right requested that the project should be submitted to a national council or to the Pope, but did not carry the day. Joining them in their opposition to the legislation was Abbé Sieyès, one of the chief political theorists of the French Revolution and author of the 1789 pamphlet "What is the Third Estate?"[9]

Conversely, the Jansenist theologian Armand-Gaston Camus argued that the plan was in perfect harmony with the New Testament and the councils of the fourth century.

The Assembly passed the Civil Constitution on 12 July 1790, two days before the anniversary of the storming of the Bastille. On that anniversary, the Fête de la Fédération, Talleyrand and three hundred priests officiated at the "altar of the nation" erected on the Champ de Mars, wearing tricolor waistbands over their priestly vestments and calling down God's blessing upon the Revolution.

In 1793, the War in the Vendee was influenced by the Constitution passing due to the devout population toward the Church among other social factors.

Legal status of the Church in France under the Civil Constitution

As noted above, even prior to the Civil Constitution of the Clergy, church property was nationalized and monastic vows were forbidden. Under the Civil Constitution of the Clergy:

  • There were 83 bishops, one per Department, rather than the previous 135 bishops.[10]
  • Bishops (known as constitutional bishops) and priests were elected locally; electors had to sign a loyalty oath to the constitution. There was no requirement that the electors be Catholics, creating the ironic situation that Protestants and even Jews could help elect the Catholic priests and bishops. Their proportion in the French population was however very small.
  • Authority of the Pope over the appointment of clergy was reduced to the right to be informed of election results.

The tone of the Civil Constitution can be gleaned from Title II, Article XXI:

Before the ceremony of consecration begins, the bishop elect shall take a solemn oath, in the presence of the municipal officers, of the people, and of the clergy, to guard with care the faithful of his diocese who are confided to him, to be loyal to the nation, the law, and the king, and to support with all his power the constitution decreed by the National Assembly and accepted by the king.[2]

In short, new bishops were required to swear loyalty to the State in far stronger terms than to any religious doctrine. Note also that, even in this revolutionary legislation, there are strong remnants of Gallican royalism.

The law also included some reforms supported even by many within the Church. For example, Title IV, Article I states, "The law requiring the residence of ecclesiastics in the districts under their charge shall be strictly observed. All vested with an ecclesiastical office or function shall be subject to this, without distinction or exception."[2] In effect, this banned the practice by which younger sons of noble families would be appointed to a bishopric or other high church position and live off its revenues without ever moving to the region in question and taking up the duties of the office. The abuse of bishoprics by the nobility was further reduced in Title II, Article XI: "Bishoprics and cures shall be looked upon as vacant until those elected to fill them shall have taken the oath above mentioned."[2] This unified state control over both the nobility and the Church through the use of elected bishops and the oath of loyalty.

Delay in implementation

For some time, Louis XVI delayed signing the Civil Constitution, saying that he needed "official word from Rome" before doing so. Pope Pius VI broke the logjam on 9 July 1790, writing a letter to Louis rejecting the arrangement. On 28 July, 6 September, and 16 December 1790, Louis XVI wrote letters to Pius VI, complaining that the National Assembly was forcing him to publicly accept the Civil Constitution, and suggesting that Pius VI appease them by accepting a few selected articles too. On 10 July, Pius VI wrote to Louis XVI, indicating to the king that the Church could not accept any of the provisions of the Constitution. The Constitution attempted to change the internal government of the Church, and no political regime had the right to unilaterally change the internal structure of the Church. On 17 August, Pius VI wrote to Louis XVI of his intent to consult with the cardinals about this, but on 10 October Cardinal Rochefoucauld, the Archbishop of Aix, and 30 of France's 131 bishops sent their negative evaluation of the main points of the Civil Constitution to the Pope. Only four bishops actively dissented. On 30 October, the same 30 bishops restated their view to the public, signing a document known as the Exposition of Principles ("Exposition des principes sur la constitution civile du clergé"), written by Jean de Dieu-Raymond de Cucé de Boisgelin

On 27 November 1790, still lacking the king's signature on the law of the Civil Constitution, the National Assembly voted to require the clergy to sign an oath of loyalty to the Constitution. During the debate on that matter, on 25 November, Cardinal de Lomenie wrote a letter claiming that the clergy could be excused from taking the Oath if they lacked mental assent; that stance was to be rejected by the Pope on 23 February 1791. On 26 December 1790, Louis XVI finally granted his public assent to the Civil Constitution, allowing the process of administering the oaths to proceed in January and February 1791.

Pope Pius VI's 23 February rejection of Cardinal de Lomenie's position of withholding "mental assent" guaranteed that this would become a schism. The Pope's subsequent condemnation of the revolutionary regime and repudiation of all clergy who had complied with the oath completed the schism.

Obligatory oath

Members of the Catholic Church taking the oath that was required by the Civil Constitution of the Clergy.

Within the Civil Constitution of the Clergy there was a clause that required the Clergy to take an oath stating the individual's allegiance to France.[11] The oath was basically an oath of fidelity and it required every single priest in France to make a public choice on whether or not they believed the nation of France had authority over all religious matters.[1] This oath was very controversial because many Clergy believed that they could not put their loyalty towards France before their loyalty towards God. If a clergyman were to refuse to take this oath of allegiance then they were challenging the Civil Constitution of the Clergy and challenging the validity of the assembly which had established the Civil Constitution of the Clergy.[1] On 16 January 1791 approximately 50% of the individuals required to take the oath went ahead and took it and the other half decided to wait for Pope Pius VI to provide instruction, since he was indecisive on what the Oath signified and how the Clergy should respond to it.[11] It is important to note that all but seven of the bishops in France decided to not take the oath and as a reprimand those governing France began to replace the individuals with those who had taken the oath.[11][12] In March 1791 Pope Pius VI finally decided that the oath was against the beliefs of the Church.[11] By deciding that it was against the beliefs two groups were formed "jurors" ("refractory priests") and "non-jurors" and that was based on whether or not they had decided to take the oath. The Pope condemned those who took the oath and went as far as saying that they were absolutely separated from the church.[13] Additionally, the Pope expressed disapproval and chastised King Louis XVI for signing the document that required the oath to be taken.[13] Since the Pope expressed disapproval those who did not take it stayed unwilling to take it and as a result were replaced by those who had taken it. In addition to not receiving support from approximately 50% of the Clergy the oath was also disliked by a part of France's population. The individuals in France who were opposed to it claimed that the Revolution was destroying their "true" faith and this was also seen in the two groups of individuals that were formed because of the oath.[1] Those who believed that the Revolution was causing their "true" faith to be destroyed sided with the "non-jurors" and those who believed that the French government should have a say in religion sided with the "jurors."[1]

American Scholar Timothy Tackett believes that the oath that was required determined which individuals would let the revolution cause change and allow revolutionary reform and those who did not would remain true to their beliefs for many years to come.[1] Apart from Tackett's beliefs, it can be said that the obligatory oath marked a key historical point in the French Revolution since it was the first piece of legislation in the revolution that received massive drawback and resistance.[1]

Jurors and non-jurors

Carte des prêtres assermentés en France en 1791
The rate of swearing priests in 1791. The department division is the current one.

As noted above, the government required all clergy to swear an oath of loyalty to the Civil Constitution of the Clergy. Only seven bishops and about half of the clergy agreed while the rest refused; the latter became known as "non-jurors" or "refractory priests."[11][12] In areas where a majority had taken the oath, such as Paris, the refractory minority could be victimized by society at large: nuns from the Hôtel-Dieu de Paris, for example, were subjected to humiliating public spankings.[14]

While there was a higher rate of rejection in urban areas, most of these refractory priests (like most of the population) lived in the countryside, and the Civil Constitution generated considerable resentment among religious peasants. Meanwhile, the Pope repudiated the "jurors" who had signed the oath, especially bishops who had ordained new, elected clergy, and above all Bishop Louis-Alexandre Expilly de la Poipe. In May 1791, France recalled its ambassador to the Vatican and the Papal Nuncio was recalled from Paris. On June 9, the Assembly forbade the publication of Papal Bulls or Decrees, unless they had been approved by the Assembly as well.

The Constituent Assembly went back and forth on the exact status of non-juring priests. On 5 February 1791, non-juring priests were banned from preaching in public.[15] By not allowing the clergy to preach the National Assembly was trying to silence the Clergy.[12] This punishment that was imposed by the assembly signified that all refractory priest could no longer practice marriages and baptisms which were public ceremonies.[12] By not allowing refractory clergy to practice these large public ceremonies they were silenced. However, non-juring clergy continued to celebrate the Mass and attract crowds because the Assembly feared that stripping them of all of their powers would create chaos and that would be ineffective towards silencing them.[12] Although the Assembly allowed them to continue working in ceremonies that were not public they stated that they could only do so until they had been replaced by a clergyman who had taken the oath (juring).[12] A large percentage of the refractionary priests were not replaced until 10 August 1792, which was more than a year after the original 50% had taken the oath; by the time they began to be replaced the Assembly had made some changes and it was not as significant that they were practicing Mass.[12][11]

At the beginning, when the Assembly was stripping the clergy of their titles they tried to ignore how the extreme anti-clerical elements were responding with violence against those who attended these Masses and against nuns who would not renounce their vocation.[12] Ultimately the Assembly had to recognize the schism that was occurring because it was extremely evident, even while the replacement was occurring juror priests often faced a hostile and violent reception in their old parishes.[16] On 7 May 1791, the Assembly reversed itself, deciding that the non-juring priests, referred to as prêtres habitués ("habitual priests") could say Mass and conduct services in other churches on condition that they would respect the laws and not stir up revolt against the Civil Constitution. The assembly had to allow this change to control the schism and in part because "Constitutional Clergy" (those who had taken the oath) were unable to properly conduct their service.[12] The constitutional clergy often required the assistance of the National Guard due to the mayhem that would occur.[12]

The division in France was at an all-time high when even families had different views on juring and non-juring priest.[12] The difference in families was primarily seen when the women would attend masses that where held by those who had defied the oath and men attended mass that was provided by clergymembers who had taken the oath.[12] It is important to note that even though priests who had not taken the Oath had the right to use the churches many were not allowed to use the buildings (this was done by priest who had sworn their allegiance) this furthermore demonstrated the division in the state.[12] On 29 November 1791, the Legislative Assembly, which had replaced the National Constituent Assembly, decreed that refractory priests could only exacerbate factionalism and aggravate extremists in the constituent assembly. The November 29th decree declared that no refractory priest could invoke the rights in the Constitution of the Clergy and that all such priests were suspect and so to be arrested. Louis XVI vetoed this decree (as he also did with another text concerning the creation of an army of 20,000 men on the orders of the Assembly, precipitating the monarchy's fall), which was toughened and re-issued a year later. Anti-Catholic persecution by the State would intensify into de-Christianization and propagation of the Cult of Reason and the Cult of the Supreme Being in 1793–1794. During this time countless non-juring priests were interned in chains on prison ships in French harbors where most died within a few months from the appalling conditions.

Repeal of the Civil Constitution

After the Thermidorian Reaction, the Convention repealed the Civil Constitution of the Clergy; however, the schism between the civilly constituted French Church and the Papacy was only resolved when the Concordat of 1801 was agreed on. The Concordat was reached on July 15, 1801 and it was made widely known the following year, on Easter.[17][18] It was an agreement executed by Napoleon Bonaparte and clerical and papal representatives from Rome and Paris,[18] and determined the role and status of the Roman Catholic Church in France; moreover, it concluded the confiscations and church reforms that had been implemented over the course of the revolution.[18] The agreement also gave the first consul (Napoleon) the authority and right to nominate bishops, redistribute the current parishes and bishoprics, and allowed for seminaries to be established.[18] In an effort to please Pius VII it was agreed upon that suitable salaries would be provided for bishops and curés and he would condone the acquisition of church lands.

References

Cited

  1. ^ a b c d e f g D., Popkin, Jeremy (2010-01-01). A short history of the French Revolution. Pearson Education. ISBN 0205693571. OCLC 780111354.
  2. ^ a b c d Text of the Legislation From J.H. Robinson, ed., The Civil Constitution of the Clergy, 12 July 1790, Readings in European History, 2 vols. Boston: Ginn, 1906. Vol 2: pp. 423–427.
  3. ^ a b c d 1950-, Carnes, Mark C. (Mark Christopher),; 1952-, Kates, Gary,. Rousseau, Burke, and revolution in France, 1791. ISBN 9780393938883. OCLC 908192433.
  4. ^ R., Hanson, Paul (2007-01-01). The A to Z of the French Revolution. Scarecrow Press. ISBN 1461716063. OCLC 856869661.
  5. ^ "CATHOLIC ENCYCLOPEDIA: French Revolution". www.newadvent.org. Retrieved 2016-09-02.
  6. ^ 1948-, McPhee, Peter, (2009-01-01). Living the French Revolution, 1789-1799. Palgrave Macmillan. ISBN 0333997395. OCLC 465524553.
  7. ^ 1945-, Tackett, Timothy,. Priest & parish in eighteenth-century France: a social and political study of the curés in a diocese of Dauphiné, 1750-1791. ISBN 1400857147. OCLC 889250730.
  8. ^ "The French Revolution and the Catholic Church | History Today". www.historytoday.com. Retrieved 2017-02-06.
  9. ^ a b Catholic Encyclopedia
  10. ^ Kagan et al. (2001), p. 643.
  11. ^ a b c d e f "CLERGY'S OATH TO THE CONSTITUTION". www.historyworld.net. Retrieved 2017-02-26.
  12. ^ a b c d e f g h i j k l m "The Subjugation of the Catholic Church: A Failed Attempt". www.ucumberlands.edu. Retrieved 2017-03-06.
  13. ^ a b 1950-, Carnes, Mark C. (Mark Christopher),; 1952-, Kates, Gary,. Rousseau, Burke, and revolution in France, 1791. ISBN 9780393938883. OCLC 908192433.
  14. ^ Colin Jones, The Great Nation, 2002 (Penguin 2003 p. 444, ISBN 9780140130935)
  15. ^ 1950-, Carnes, Mark C. (Mark Christopher),; 1952-, Kates, Gary,. Rousseau, Burke, and revolution in France, 1791. ISBN 9780393938883. OCLC 908192433.
  16. ^ de Patris, B. Combes. Proces-verbaux des seances de la Societe Populaire de Rodez. Rodez, Carrere, 1912. p. 128
  17. ^ "Civil Constitution of the Clergy | France". Encyclopedia Britannica. Retrieved 2017-03-06.
  18. ^ a b c d "Concordat of 1801 | French religious history". Encyclopedia Britannica. Retrieved 2017-03-06.

External links

1790 in France

Events from the year 1790 in France.

Abolition of feudalism in France

One of the central events of the French Revolution was to abolish feudalism, and the old rules, taxes and privileges left over from the age of feudalism. The National Constituent Assembly, acting on the night of 4 August 1789, announced, "The National Assembly abolishes the feudal system entirely." It abolished both the seigneurial rights of the Second Estate (the nobility) and the tithes gathered by the First Estate (the Catholic clergy). The old judicial system, founded on the 13 regional parlements, was suspended in November 1789, and finally abolished in 1790.

Chouannerie

The Chouannerie (from the Chouan brothers, two of its leaders) was a royalist uprising or counter-revolution in 12 of the western départements of France, particularly in the provinces of Brittany and Maine, against the French First Republic during the French Revolution. It played out in three phases and lasted from the spring of 1794 until 1800.The uprising was mostly caused by the Civil Constitution of the Clergy (1790) and the levée en masse (1793) decided by the National Convention. A first uprising attempt was carried out by the Association bretonne to defend the French monarchy and reinstate the specific laws and customs of Brittany that had been repealed in 1789. The first confrontations broke out in 1792 and evolved to a peasant revolt, then to guerrilla warfare and eventually to full-scale battles until the Republican victory in 1800.Shorter peasant uprisings in other départements such as in Aveyron and Lozère were also qualified as "chouanneries". The petite chouannerie broke out in 1815 during the Hundred Days and a final uprising ultimately took place during the Vendean War and Chouannerie of 1832.

Civil Constitution of the Clergy Outline

The Civil Constitution of the Clergy (French: "Constitution civile du clergé") was a law passed on 12 July 1790 during the French Revolution, that caused the immediate subordination of the Catholic Church in France to the French government.

The following outline of the document, in modern English, includes some explanations of what was implied by the specific Article in the document. The outline is based on two sources in order to provide a clearer explanation of each Article and Title. The Civil Constitution of the Clergy's main accomplishment was placing the church under the state, this document outlines the rules and regulations the Clergy had to follow. For a more in depth understanding of the document and the actions prior to, and after, its enactment please see the Civil Constitution of the Clergy.

Concordat of 1801

The Concordat of 1801 was an agreement between Napoleon and Pope Pius VII, signed on 15 July 1801 in Paris. It remained in effect until 1905. It sought national reconciliation between revolutionaries and Catholics and solidified the Roman Catholic Church as the majority church of France, with most of its civil status restored. The hostility of devout Catholics against the state had then largely been resolved. It did not restore the vast church lands and endowments that had been seized upon during the revolution and sold off. Catholic clergy returned from exile, or from hiding, and resumed their traditional positions in their traditional churches. Very few parishes continued to employ the priests who had accepted the Civil Constitution of the Clergy of the Revolutionary regime. While the Concordat restored much power to the papacy, the balance of church-state relations tilted firmly in Napoleon's favour. He selected the bishops and supervised church finances.Napoleon and the pope both found the Concordat useful. Similar arrangements were made with the Church in territories controlled by Napoleon, especially Italy and Germany.

Constitutional bishopric

During the French Revolution, a constitutional bishop was a Roman Catholic bishop elected from among the clergy who had sworn to uphold the Civil Constitution of the Clergy between 1791 and 1801.

Diocese of Aude

The Diocese of Aude or, more fully, the Diocese of the Department of Aude is a former diocese of the Constitutional Church in France.

Created by the civil constitution of the clergy of 1790, it was suppressed following the Concordat of 1801. Its territory was the Department of Aude, with the episcopal seat at Narbonne.

First Massacre of Machecoul

The Machecoul massacre is one of the first events of the War in the Vendée, a revolt against mass conscription and the civil constitution of the clergy. The first massacre took place on 11 March 1793, in the provincial city of Machecoul, in the district of the lower Loire. The city was a thriving center of grain trade; most of the victims were administrators, merchants and citizens of the city.

Although the Machecoul massacre, and others that followed it, are often viewed (variously) as a royalist revolt, or a counter-revolution, twenty-first century historians generally agree that Vendee revolt was a complicated popular event brought on by anti-clericalism of the Revolution, mass conscription, and Jacobin anti-federalism. In the geographic area south of the Loire, resistance to recruitment was particularly intense, and much of this area also resented intrusion by partisans of the republic, called "blue coats", who brought with them new ideas about district and judicial organization, and who required reorganization of parishes with the so-called juring priests (those who had taken the civil oath). Consequently, the insurgency became a combination of many impulses, at which conscription and the organization of parishes led the list. The response to it was incredibly violent on both sides.

First White Terror

The White Terror was a period during the French Revolution in 1795, when a wave of violent attacks swept across much of France. The victims of this violence were people identified as being associated with the Reign of Terror – followers of Robespierre and Marat, and members of local Jacobin clubs. The violence was perpetrated primarily by those whose relatives or associates had been victims of the Great Terror, or whose lives and livelihoods had been threatened by the government and its supporters before the Thermidorean Reaction. Principally these were, in Paris, the Muscadins, and in the countryside, monarchists, supporters of the Girondins, those who opposed the Civil Constitution of the Clergy and those otherwise hostile to the Jacobin political agenda. The Great Terror had been largely an organised political programme, based on laws such as the Law of 22 Prairial, and enacted through official institutions such as the Revolutionary Tribunal, but the White Terror was essentially a series of uncoordinated attacks by local activists who shared common perspectives but no central organisation. In particular locations, there were however more organised counter-revolutionary movements such as the Companions of Jehu in Lyon and the Companions of the Sun in Provence. The name 'White Terror' derives from the white cockades worn in the hats of royalists.

François de Bonal

François de Bonal (b. 1734 at the castle of Bonal, near Agen; d. in Munich, 1800) was Bishop of Clermont.

He had been Vicar-General of the diocese of Agen and Director of the Carmelite Nuns in France when he was made Bishop of Clermont, in 1776. On the eve of the French Revolution, as he was warning his diocesans against the license of the press, he predicted that visitations of God were coming.

He went as one of the deputies of the clergy to the Estates-General of 1789. To Target, who spoke of the "God of peace," he replied that the God of peace was also the God of order and justice.

From his prison Louis XVI sent for his opinion as to whether he should receive Paschal Communion. In reply, he was sympathetic, but advised the monarch to abstain "for having sanctioned decrees destructive of religion". Bonal was alluding chiefly to the civil constitution of the clergy.

Having declined to take the loyalty oath to the constitution, he was compelled to leave his diocese and country. He passed to Flanders and later to Holland, was captured and sentenced to deportation by the French, but succeeded in making his escape and spent the last years of his life in various cities of Germany. He was the author of a Testament spirituel.

Gallican Church

The Gallican Church was the Roman Catholic Church in France from the time of the Declaration of the Clergy of France (1682) to that of the Civil Constitution of the Clergy (1790) during the French Revolution.

Gallicanism was the theory that the power of monarchs is independent of the power of popes, and that the church of each country should be under the joint control of the pope and the monarch. The opposite doctrine is known as Ultramontanism.

Joseph Chalier

Joseph Chalier (1747 – 1793) was a French Revolutionist.

Chalier was born in Beaulard, Susa Valley, Piedmont. As a young man, Chalier's family hoped he would take a career in the church. But instead he became a partner in a law firm in Lyon. Because of his job with the firm, he traveled to Levant, Italy, Spain and Portugal. While living in Paris in 1789, he became acquainted with Marat, Camille Desmoulins and Robespierre. After returning to Lyon, Chalier was the first person to be named as a member of the municipal bureau. While in this position he organized the national guard, applied the Civil Constitution of the Clergy, and engineered the finances of the city so that the rich were heavily taxed and the poor relatively spared.

For making a nocturnal domiciliary perquisition, Chalier was denounced in front of the Legislative Assembly by the département of Rhône-et-Loire. However, the Assembly's bar did not disapprove of his conduct. Chalier later ran for mayor of Lyon in November 1792, but lost to the Royalist opposition. Soon after, Chalier became the leader of the Jacobins of Lyon, a move which ultimately led to his demise.

Working with other revolutionary clubs and communes in the city, he led the Jacobins to arrest a great number of Royalists during the nights of the 5th and 6 February 1793. This brought him into direct conflict with the mayor of Lyons, who had the support of the National Guard. Undeterred, Chalier demanded of the Convention an establishment of a revolutionary tribunal and a revolutionary army stationed in Lyon. The Convention refused and the anti-revolutionary party took action. On the 29th and 30 May 1793, the different sections of the Convention rose against him. The Jacobins were dispossessed of the municipality and Chalier was arrested. On the 15th of July, he was brought before the criminal tribunal of the Rhône-et-Loire, which condemned him to death. He was guillotined the next day in Lyon. Soon after, the revolutionary forces during the "reign of terror" held his memory in high esteem, as a martyr for Liberty.

Louis Félix Roux

Louis Félix Roux, (known as ‘Roux de la Haute-Marne’) (25 October 1753, Vichy - 22 September 1817, Huy) was a French politician.Roux was son of Robert Roux, a schoolmaster, and Marie Petit. Roux learned Latin with the parish priest and then obtained a scholarship to study in a Parisian college. He later took holy orders and in 1786 became parish priest of Vignory. He supported the French Revolution and took the oath for the Civil Constitution of the Clergy, following which in 1791 he was named Episcopal Vicar of the Haute-Marne.

Mirepoix Cathedral

Mirepoix Cathedral (Cathédrale Saint-Maurice de Mirepoix) is a Roman Catholic church located in the southwestern town of Mirepoix, Ariège, France.

The foundation stone was laid by Jean de Lévis on the 6th May 1298. Construction continued, with interruptions, over the next six centuries. The cathedral was restored in 1858 and 1859 by Prosper Mérimée, and Eugène Viollet-le-Duc.

The cathedral has the second widest Gothic arch in Europe, after that of the Girona Cathedral in Catalonia, Spain.

It was formerly the seat of the Bishop of Mirepoix. The diocese, created in 1317, was abolished under the civil constitution of the clergy in 1790, and confirmed under the Concordat of 1801 and the territory divided between the Diocese of Carcassonne and the Archdiocese of Toulouse[1].

Notre-Dame-de-la-Sède Cathedral

Notre-Dame-de-la-Sède Cathedral (French: Cathédrale Notre-Dame-de-la-Sède de Saint-Lizier) is one of two former co-cathedrals of the town of Saint-Lizier in southern France. The other is the Saint-Lizier Cathedral. The town of Saint-Lizier was formerly the seat of the Bishop of Couserans. The diocese was abolished under civil constitution of the clergy in 1790, and this was confirmed by the Concordat of 1801.

Refractory clergy

During the French Revolution, the National Assembly abolished the traditional structure of the Catholic Church in France and reorganized it as an institution within the structure of the new French government. One of the new requirements placed upon all clergy was the necessity of an oath of loyalty to the state before all foreign influences such as the Pope. This created a schism within the French clergy, with those taking the oath known as juring priests, and those refusing the oath known as non-juring or refractory priests.

Représentant en mission

During the French Revolution, a représentant en mission (English: representative on mission) was an extraordinary envoy of the Legislative Assembly (1791–92) and its successor the National Convention (1792–95). The term is most often assigned to deputies designated by the National Convention for maintaining law and order in the départements and armies, as they had powers to oversee conscription into the army, and were used to monitor local military command. At the time France was in crisis; not only was war going badly, as French forces were being pushed out of Belgium, but also there was revolt in the Vendée over conscription into the army and resentment of the Civil Constitution of the Clergy.

Such inspectors had existed in some form under the Ancien Régime, but they were systematized during the Reign of Terror and given absolute power. Some of them abused their powers and exercised a veritable dictatorship at a local level.

Representatives on missions were also used in the more dramatic cases of urban revolts (seen as parts of a single movement, and labelled by the Parisians as "federalism") in cities such as Nantes, Toulouse, Lyons, Bordeaux and Marseilles. Leaders in Paris saw these revolts as work of royalists who had to be eliminated. The representatives on missions were usually sent out with "unlimited powers" to allow them to accomplish the monumental tasks they faced. Such authority was often abused, and the representatives frequently emerged as the most zealous proponents and executors (literally) of the Terror. A total of 82 deputies were sent to the provinces with the official purpose to let people know why emergency measures were necessary and to coordinate those measures. In reality, the representatives main responsibility was to check that the generals and officers were doing their utmost to achieve victory.

Examples of représentants en mission included Joseph Fouché, Louis-Marie Stanislas Fréron, Jean-Lambert Tallien, Jean-Baptiste Carrier, Étienne Christophe Maignet, Jean-Marie Collot d'Herbois and Georges Couthon in Lyon.

Saint-Lizier Cathedral

Saint-Lizier Cathedral (French: Cathédrale Saint-Lizier de Saint-Lizier) is one of two former co-cathedrals of the town of Saint-Lizier in southern France. The other is the Notre-Dame-de-la-Sède Cathedral. The Saint-Lizier Cathedral is dedicated to Saint Lycerius (French: Saint Lizier), an early bishop of Couserans, after whom the town itself is also named. It has been listed since 1886 as a monument historique by the French Ministry of Culture.The town of Saint-Lizier, although now severely depopulated, was formerly the seat of the Bishop of Couserans. The diocese was abolished under civil constitution of the clergy in 1790, and this was confirmed by the Concordat of 1801.

Therese-Madeleine Fantou

Therese-Madeleine Fantou was a religious with the Daughters of Charity of Saint Vincent de Paul martyred during the French Revolution. She is recognized as a Blessed martyr by the Catholic Church.

Coming from a very modest family, she received from her mother a rigorous Catholic education.

At the age of 24, on November 28, 1771, she joined the Daughters of Charity of Saint Vincent de Paul de Plouer and entered the mother house in Paris.

In 1790, the Constituent Assembly proclaimed the Civil Constitution of the Clergy. It unilaterally reorganized the secular clergy of France, instituted a new Church (the Constitutional Church), which caused the division of the clergy into constitutional clergy and refractory clergy. The year 1793 would be the last year for the congregation of the Sisters of Arras. Indeed, the arrival of citizen Joseph Le Bon elected to the Committee of General Safety offered only one solution to religious orders, that of taking an oath to the Constitution to save their lives.

The sisters of Arras would not escape judgment. Arrested and transferred from prison to prison, Thérèse Fantou and the nuns of the congregation refused to accept the constitution. On June 26, 1794 they were beheaded.

With her companions Madeleine Fontaine, Françoise Lanel and Jeanne Gérard, she was beatified by Pope Benedict XV on June 13, 1920. The four Blessed are honored on June 26.

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