July 15, 1801 – Signing of the Concordat of 1801 Between Napoleon and Pope Pius VII

On this date in history, an agreement was signed between Napoleon Bonaparte of France and Pope Pius VII, recognizing the Catholic Church as the majority church of France.

Napoleon was not especially enamored of either the Pope or the Church, but he understood that the people of France did not share his attitudes, and hoped for a settlement with the Roman Catholic Church.

In addition, there was a new Pope (Pius VII) whose views on social questions were not thought to be a problem for post-Revolutionary France. Napoleon was eager to eliminate one of the remaining grievances of rebels against his leadership, and so in June of 1800 he opened negotiations with the Vatican. Among other provisions, Napoleon offered to restore full public worship in return for allowing him to select all new bishops from among men nominated by the Pope. He would fund new dioceses and parishes (but he would not restore lands seized during the revolution), and bishops would swear not to “disturb the public tranquility.” Parish priests had to be acceptable to the government, and the government agreed to restore Sunday as a day of rest. Although the document was signed on this date, it was not publicized for another nine months. And a year later, Napoleon appended a number of other restrictions and regulations.

"Signature of the Concordat between the French Government and His Holiness Pius VII for the re-establishment of the Catholic religion in France". On the left is Cardinal Ercole Consalvi, Papal Secretary of State. Next to him is the Pope and Napoleon is in the center

“Signature of the Concordat between the French Government and His Holiness Pius VII for the re-establishment of the Catholic religion in France”. On the left is Cardinal Ercole Consalvi, Papal Secretary of State. Next to him is the Pope and Napoleon is in the center

The Concordat was generally welcomed by the populace except for former revolutionaries, and not by the leadership or the army. Nevertheless, it was officially proclaimed at a mass at Notre-Dame on Easter Sunday, April 18, 1802.

The Concordat remained in effect until 1905.

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