Civil Constitition of the Clergy

   Decreed at the time of the revolution of 1789 (July 12, 1790) by a vote of the National Constituent Assembly and sanctioned by the king (August 24), this constitution, of liberal and Gallican inspiration (see gallicanism), sought to organize the Catholic Church in France along the lines of the local civil administration (dioceses to correspond to each of the 83 departments; election of bishops and pastors). While waiting for canonical sanctioning of this constitution, the Constituent Assembly imposed on all priests an oath of fidelity to the Constitution of the kingdom (November 1790). From then on, Catholic priests would be divided into juring (constitutional) and non-juring (refractory) clerics. The formal condemnation of the Civil Constitution of the Clergy by Pope Pius VI (April 1790) began a schism within the French Church. This religious crisis was also a political one, as the majority of the refractory priests supported the counter-revolution; some emigrated, many were massacred during the terror.
   See also Grégoire, henri.

France. A reference guide from Renaissance to the Present . 1884.

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