I. The Roman Catholic Church.
Concordats, Organic Articles (§ I).
Organization (§ 2).
The Clergy (§ 3).
Religious Orders (§ 4).
Separation of Church and State (§ 5).
Effect of Separation on Clergy (§ 6).
II. Protestant Churches.
1. The Reformed Church.
2. The Lutheran Church.
3. Evangelical Work in France.
France is a republic in the west of Europe with an area of 207,054 square miles and a population (legal, 1906) of 39,252,245. There has been no religious census since 1872. The Roman Catholics have been estimated to number from 36,000,000 to 37,500,000; the Protestants 600,000 to 2,000,000; the Jews about 86,000; and there are about 150,000 of other religions.
I. The Roman Catholic Church:
1. Concordats, Organic Articles. From about 1813, the year of the Fontainebleau Concordat with Napoleon I., till about 1880, the Church had a tranquil development, which was only very transiently disturbed (see CONCORDATS AND DELIMITING BULLS, VI., 1). The Concordat of 1813, to be sure, was modeled after that of 1801; but it alleviated in a great measure the executive rulings added to the former by Napoleon; because the pope abandoned the temporal power of the Church. The Concordat of 1801 (see CONCORDATS, ut sup.) was published at the same time as the Articles organiques, which were arbitrarily formulated by Napoleon. The seventy-seven Organic Articles practically enforced a progressive application of the Gallicanism of 1682 (see GALLICANISM), which the professors were expressly bound, under art. 24, to teach in their seminaries. The State's placet, in relation to all documents of the curia designed to be operative in France, was distinctly set forth in art. 1; the State's authorization with reference to every representative of the pope in the land was emphasized in art. 2; art. 20 forbade a bishop to leave his diocese without the State's permission; art. 58 ordered that there should be an organization of ten archbishoprics and fifty bishoprics, and arts. 65-66 provided for their modest allowance of 15,000 and 10,000 francs, which remained the same amount until 1906. The parochial clergy's allowances as well were regulated in art. 66. Through the Organic Articles the magisterial power of the State as affecting the Church came to be operative to the widest extent; though upon the restoration of the monarchy the State allowed most of the enactments which were burdensome to the Church to lapse into oblivion. Hence the complete independence of the bishops from one another, each dealing directly with the pope. After 1822, however, the suffragan relationship was gradually restored. Likewise, written correspondence between the curia and the bishops was carried on independently of the State. The nomination of bishops usually took place in accordance with the recommendations of the cathedral chapters and the archbishops, just as chaplains were appointed for public institutions and in the army on the recommendations of the bishops. The Gallicanism formulated in 1682, however, succumbed more and more, in the clerical seminaries and among the clergy, to the persistent antagonism of literature and of the bishops.
2. Organization. Since the Concordat of 1801 the bishops have greatly increased in number. The present organization of the Church is as follows: archbishopric of Aix (founded before 409; vacant 614-794), with the suffragan bishoprics of Ajaccio (c. 313), Digne (c. 364), Frejus (c. 374), Gap (before 430), Marseilles (before 314), and Nice (before 253); archbishopric of Albi (before 406; raised to archbishopric 1678), with the suffragan bishoprics of Cahors (c. 250), Mende (before 314), Perpignan (see at Elne, 571-1602), and Rodez (before 506); archbishopric of Auch (before 396; raised to archbishopric 879), with the suffragan bishoprics of Aire (c. 506), Bayonne (c. 980), and Tarbes (c. 394); archbishopric of Avignon (before 353; raised to archbishopric 1475), with the suffragan bishoprics of Montpellier (see at Maguelone c. 585-1527), Nîmes (c. 394), Valence (c. 344), and Viviers (before 432); archbishopric of Besancon (c. 180), with the suffragan bishoprics of Belley (c. 412), Nancy (1777), St. Dié (1777), Toul (c. 338; united to Nancy 1801), and Verdun (c. 346); archbishopric of Bordeaux (c. 314), with the suffragan bishoprics of Agen (before 358), Angoulême (before 406), La Rochelle (see at Maillerais 1317-1648), Luçon (1317), Périgueux (before 356), and Poitiers (before 350), also in the French colonies the three bishoprics of Réunion (St. Denis; 1850), Guadeloupe (Basse-Terre; 1850), and Martinique (St. Pierre; 1851); archbishopric of Bourges (before 280), with the suffragan bishoprics of Clermont (c. 250), Le Puy (before 451), Limoges (before 73), St. Flour (1318), and Tulle (1317); archbishopric of Cambrai (580; raised to archbishopric 1559; bishopric 1801-41), with the suffragan bishopric of Arras (c. 500; vacant 545-1093); archbishopric of Chambéry (1775; raised to archbishopric 1817), with the suffragan bishoprics of Annecy (1822), St. Jean-de-Maurienne (c. 577), and Tarentaise (see at Moutiers; c. 420); archbishopric of Lyons (c. 150), with the suffragan bishoprics of Autun (c. 270), Dijon (1731), Grenoble (381), Langres, (before 220), and St. Claude (1742); archbishopric of Paris (c. 100; raised to archbishopric 1622), with the suffragan bishoprics of Blois (1697), Chartres (before 390), Meaux (before 549), Orléans (before 344), and Versailles (1802); archbishopric of Reims (c. 290), with the suffragan bishoprics of Amiens (c. 303), Beauvais (c. 250), Châlons (c. 290), and Soissons (c. 290); archbishopric of Rennes (358; raised to archbishopric 1859), with the suffragan bishoprics of Quimper (c. 444), St. Brieuc (860), and Vannes (c. 448); archbishopric of Rouen (c. 250), with the suffragan bishoprics of Bayeux (c. 390), Coutances (c. 429), Evreux (c. 412), and Séez (2d century); archbishopric of Sens (c. 275), with the suffragan bishoprics of Moulins (1817), Nevers (c. 505), and Troyes (before 344); archbishopric of Toulouse (c. 257; raised to archbishopric 1317), with the suffragan bishoprics of Carcassonne (before 589), Montauban (1317), and Pamiers (1295); and archbishopric of Tours (c. 250), with the suffragan bishoprics of Angers (before 372), Laval (1855), Le Mans (before 451), and Nantes (before 374). [The above dates have been supplied by the editors from P. B. Gams, Series episcoporum ecclesiœ catholicœ (Regensburg, 1872), and in many cases they are too early, especially those for Limoges and Paris, both of which were probably founded about 250. Fifty-seven sees, not included in the list given above were suppressed by Napoleon in 1801; and a few others have gone out of existence at various times.]
3. The Clergy. The clergy subordinated to the bishops, apart from the cathedral chapters, were variously graded with respect to their official powers and the State allowances. The number of vicars-general in 1904 was 185; and these were paid by the State 2,500 francs a year (18 were paid 3,500 francs); the canons received, until 1885, a State stipend of 1,000 francs each. Among the parochial clergy, the majority of those officiating in dependent churches were distinguished, by the State's request, from the parish priests, or curés, as desservants (see CHAPLAIN) and vicaires (curates). In 1904 there were 31,000 of these clerical assistants, of whom 18,420 were paid 900 francs, while those over sixty years of age received 1,000 to 1,300 francs. Those incumbents who by the Concordat's terms were designated as priests of the first class (1,121) received an allowance from the State of 1,500 and 1,600 francs; and priests of the second class (2,530) 1,200 francs. The prêtres habituels (about 4,000), employed more and more frequently in the cities, received smaller amounts. These regulations and the State allowances continued in force until 1906.
4. Religious Orders. The repeal of the Concordat on the side of the State, and the separation law of December 11, 1905, radically altered the situation of the Church. Besides the public instruction law of 1886 had already begun to drive the clergy out of the schools, and the so-called association law of July 1, 1901, had nearly done away with the congregations and religious orders. The law of 1886 decreed that all public instruction should be given only by teachers outside of the clergy; so that no priest can set foot in the schools to give religious instruction, which hereafter can be given only in premises belonging to the Church, and only privately to voluntary pupils. Despite all this, the continued maintenance of schools under church administration, with clergy or sisters as teachers, was still possible, since free instruction under State supervision was not forbidden. Accordingly, on January 1, 1899, the ratio of such schools to State schools was as three to four. The statistical compilation of these facts was promoted by the law of 1901, which was aimed particularly against the existence and the educational activity of religious orders. Even as far back as 1880 the Jesuits had been banished from France, though the measure was not completely carried out; but in 1901 all orders not approved by the State were forbidden to teach in the schools. There were sanctioned only five male orders: the Congregations for Foreign Missions, the Lazarists, the Fathers of the Holy Ghost, the Sulpicians, and the Brothers of the Christian Schools. The latter alone were a brotherhood for teaching and, like the rest, had in law the rights of a person. These rights were not accorded to the female congregations; but their local establishments had received specific authorization. Hence there were 905 congregations of women which were approved by the State. In 1890 the membership of female congregations amounted to about 130,000. While there were only some twenty actual congregations of women, with numerous establishments scattered through the country, the number of unauthorized associations far exceeded the 905 approved ones.
5. Separation of Church and State. The external motive for the Law for the separation of the Church from the State, passed Dec. 11, 1905, and in force since Jan. 1, 1906, lay in the disputed construction of the State's right to nominate bishops, and in the application of art. 20 of the Organic Articles to episcopal attendance before the pope in Rome. Only rarely in the days of the monarchical governments had any difference of opinion occurred in relation to a bishop, and in 1884 the pope effectually refused recognition of a bishop nominated by the government. Not until 1903 was it definitely demanded by the State that the nomination be recognized as an episcopal appointment. The law of separation first of all repeals all State and municipal appropriations for public worship. Establishments of worship are declared to be abrogated and are to be reconstructed as religious associations (Law of July 1, 1901), to which the property of the abrogated ecclesiastical establishments becomes transferred. For the organization of such associations there is needed a quorum of but seven persons in communities of less than 1,000 inhabitants; fifteen in communities of 1,000 to 20,000, etc.; and only twenty-five in communities with more than 200,000 inhabitants. The churches and chapels, episcopal palaces, and parsonages are declared the property of the State and the communes, and are loaned to the religious associations for a term of two to five years. These associations have to furnish, on occasion of general annual conventions of their members, exact financial reports with respect to their economic activity. Should no religious association be organized in places where church property existed, the latter is transferred to the communal institutions for charitable purposes. The use of churches for divine service is permitted only by virtue of annual notifications to the civil authorities pending the term of their use. Religious insignia or symbols on buildings or on any public site are forbidden. Incumbents who had served upward of twenty years are allowed a pension; the others, proportional allowances of their former stipend, for a term of four years.
6. Effect of Separation on Clergy. The entire law ignores the Church as such, and treats religion as a concern for voluntary associations on the part of the citizens. On the other hand, the Church has complete freedom on the side of its organization, its hierarchy, discipline, and liturgical arrangements (except as regards the announcement of the appointed times of divine service).
The pope, in a proclamation to the French episcopate, declared it to be incompatible with the canonical regulations of the Church to comply with the law of separation; so that some other plan must be devised for the execution of the law, if it is to be carried out without too prolonged disturbances of domestic and ecclesiastical peace. The question of financial provision will the more pressingly assert itself with reference to the parochial clergy; seeing that the cathedral chapters and the scholastic establishments for the clergy had to be supported from the episcopal revenues for the last twenty years. In 1885 the theological faculties attached to the universities were likewise abrogated; and only the vicars-general continued to draw an actually significant State allowance (3,000 to 5,000 francs). Henceforward, indeed, the bishops alone will nominate all their provincial dignitaries, whereas hitherto the so-called titularies of the cathedral chapter were named by the State; while only the remainder, the honoraries, obtained the canonical rank pursuantly to the episcopal election. As a matter of course, the bishops also received power to make all parochial appointments; although in this connection the distinction as to desservants is no longer observed. The dissolution of the religious congregations occasioned much concern for the bishops, as the administrative activity of these societies came to an end; although many individual fraternity clerics continued their labors.
II. Protestant Churches.
1. The Reformed Church: Until 1906, when Church and State were separated, the legal status of the Reformed churches in France rested on the law of April 8, 1802 (afterward altered and extended by the law of March 26, 1852). Each congregation was to have its presbytery, chosen by general vote, over which was to be the consistory, usually including several congregations, and five consistories were to form a provincial synod (these synods, however never came into existence). Up to 1872 the Church had no power to summon a general synod; at its head was only an advisory commission, the Conseil central, which was by no means equal to a synod. From the beginning of the nineteenth century there were two parties in the Church, the orthodox and the liberal, that at first lived together in peace, but at last the peace was broken by the liberals. The famous preacher Adolphe Monod (q.v.) was removed from office because of a bitter sermon against the despisers of the Lord's Supper (April 15, 1831). However, at that time the liberals had not abandoned all positive belief. They still believed in historic Christianity and in miracles. This was soon changed under the influence of the new school of theology, and gradually even the orthodox party deserted the old doctrines and laid stress on only the chief dogmas and on the facts of Bible history. The liberals went still further, attacked the authority of the Bible, and denied not only the divinity, but even the sinlessness of Christ. The founding of the Union Protestante Libérale and Renan's Vie de Jésus (Paris, 1863) hastened the crisis. The split was widened at the conferences of pastors held in Paris every year, and at the one in the year 1864 Guizot proposed and carried a declaration of faith in the immanence of God in the world, the inspiration and authority of Scripture, the divinity, the immaculate conception, and the resurrection of Christ. The liberals took revenge at the conference of Nîmes; and 121 men were compelled to separate themselves and form the Conférence Nationale Évangélique du Midi, which subscribed to the declaration of Guizot. The strife was renewed the next two years; another declaration of belief in the Apostles' Creed and the authority of Scripture was made, so that the liberals were forced to secede. From now on the orthodox party worked for the calling of a general synod, in which they were opposed by the liberals. Finally Thiers decreed the summoning of a general synod, which met June 6, 1872. In the synod straightway appeared four parties: Right, Right Center, Left, and Left Center. The synod, which sat for a month, chiefly split upon a creed, which was finally accepted. Forty-one liberal consistories protested against the decisions of the synod; there was also a middle party which worked for the formation of an orthodox and a liberal church. The orthodox party won the day with the government, and a synod was called to publish the creed, which the liberals did not attend (Nov. 20, 1873). New elections were held for the consistories in which the liberals refused to take part. At last in 1877 there were again new elections in which the liberals did take part, since the government allowed them to treat the decrees of the synod according to their conscience. The liberals and the orthodox then lived under the régime of the official union with common consistories. The orthodox part of the Church grouped the consistories that accepted the creed of 1872 into twenty-one provincial synods, over which was placed a formal general synod entrusted with the direction of the Church. The liberal part of the Church was represented by a committee, the Délégation Libérale. On Dec. 11, 1905, Parliament voted and promulgated a law which decreed the separation of Church and State. The two parties, the orthodox and the liberal, are now utterly separate. A third party, the Center, which had at first tried in vain to unite the two others, forms now a third church. The three churches are called: the Église Réformée Évangélique (orthodox), the Union d'Églises Réformées de France (Center), and the Églises Réformées Unies (liberal).--In 1848 Frédéric Monod (q.v.) and others seceded from the State Church and in 1849 formed the Union des Églises Évangéliques, generally called the Free Church. At first it numbered fifty congregations, but subsequently many returned to the State Reformed Church. See the articles GALLICAN CONFESSION; HUGUENOTS; and FRENCH REVOLUTION.
2. The Lutheran Church: Before 1906 the status of the Lutheran Church also depended upon the laws of 1802 and 1852. The consistories, however, were to form an inspection, and the inspectors were chosen for life. The Church had a central governing body, the head consistory, in two divisions, one legislative and one administrative. This state of affairs lasted until the Franco-Prussian war, when the loss of Alsace-Lorraine, which contained six of the eight inspections, shook the Lutheran Church of France to its foundations and compelled it to enter upon a struggle for existence. The two inspections which were left (Montbéliard and Paris [including Algeria]) were at first suspicious of each other, and that of Montbéliard wished to join the Reformed churches. A general synod, summoned July 23, 1872, brought peace; and a proposition for union with the Reformed Church was voted down, likewise a creed submitted by the Pietistic minority. They passed, however, a project for reorganization of the Church, brought forward by the minority. The head consistory was given up and the Church was divided into two synodal districts, Montbéliard and Paris, almost wholly independent of each other. The inspectors were named for only nine years. There was a general synod constituted for the government of the Church, to meet alternately at Paris and at Montbéliard. The theological faculty at Strasburg was replaced by one at Paris. Owing to the disturbed condition of France after the war, this scheme was not sanctioned by the two chambers and carried into effect until 1880. At the separation of Church and State in 1905, the synod adapted the constitution of the Church to the law of separation, and named the Church the Église Évangélique Luthérienne de France. The parishes became Associations cultuelles.
3. Evangelical Work in France: Samuel Vincent says, "After the Revolution the French Protestants experienced a profound tranquillity very much like indifference. Religion possessed little interest for them, as it did for most Frenchmen; for them as for many others the eighteenth century was still in existence. The law of 1802 insured tranquillity and so relieved them and their pastors from all anxiety for the support of their form of worship, but at the same time that it removed the chief cause of unrest it also did away with that of awakening. The pastors preached their sermons, the people heard them, the consistories met, the service retained all its forms, but no one was interested or troubled about it; religion was outside the sphere of every one's daily life." This condition of things lasted until the third decade of the century when the religious awakening came from Switzerland into France and gave new life to the Church. It roused especially a glowing zeal for missions, and Evangelical work of all kinds was undertaken with great eagerness. The famous society of Evangelical missions among the heathen was founded in 1822, Bible societies were formed (see BIBLE SOCIETIES, II., 2), also several other societies for Evangelical work in France. This great display of missionary zeal, however, has another side: French Protestantism up to the middle of the last century produced nothing noteworthy in theology. But since then matters have improved, societies have been formed, periodicals have been begun, and many learned works have been written. In this work the Lutheran Church has had its share; and the church at Paris especially has become a spiritual force. Since 1896 the Lutheran Church has maintained a mission in Madagascar. The Methodists in France have twenty-five parishes, the Baptists twenty-nine.