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Leaders of the Catholic Church taking the civil oath required by the Concordat.

The Concordat of 1801 is a reflection of an agreement between Napoleon Bonaparte and Pope Pius VII that reaffirmed the Roman Catholic Church as the majority church of France and restored some of its civil status.

During the French Revolution, the National Assembly had confiscated Church properties and issued the Civil Constitution of the Clergy, which made the Church a department of the State, removing it from the authority of the Pope. This caused hostility among the Vendeans towards the change in the relationship between the Catholic Church and the French government. Subsequent laws abolished the traditional Gregorian Calendar and Christian holidays.

While the Concordat restored some ties to the papacy, it was largely in favor of the state; the balance of church-state relations had tilted firmly in Napoleon Bonaparte's favour. As a part of the Concordat, he presented another set of laws called the Organic Articles.

Contents

The main terms of the Concordat of 1801 between France and Pope Pius VII included:

  • A declaration that "Catholicism was the religion of the great majority of the French" but not the official state religion, thus maintaining religious freedom, in particular with respect to Protestants
  • The Papacy had the right to depose bishops, but this made little difference, because the French government still nominated them.
  • The State would pay clerical salaries and the clergy swore an oath of allegiance to the State.
  • The Church gave up all its claims to Church lands that were confiscated after 1790.
  • The Sabbath was reestablished as a "festival", effective Easter Sunday, 18 April 1802. The rest of the French Republican Calendar, which had been abolished, was not replaced by the traditional Gregorian Calendar until 1 January 1806.

The Concordat was abrogated upon the separation of Church and State law in 1905. However, some terms of the Concordat are still in effect in the Alsace-Moselle region, as it was controlled by the German Empire at the time of the law's passage.

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