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(en) France, Alternative Libertaire AL #256 (Dec) - In 1905: The law of separation of Church and State was passed (fr, it, pt) [machine translation]
Wed, 6 Jan 2016 12:27:56 +0200
The law of separation of Church and State is the result of the confrontation, which since
the 1789 revolution, opposite the Catholic Church in the Republic. In 1904, relations
between the latter and the former are still governed by the Concordat signed between
Napoleon and Pope. The severance of diplomatic relations with the Vatican July 30, 1904
then makes inevitable separation. But this break-in reality it leads to an act of
conciliation? ---- Under the Concordat of 1801, the secular clergy was paid by the state
and was under the control of the direction of worship. So the Republicans had leverage to
control this part of the clergy. Instead, the monastic orders and congregations are not
affected by the arrangement. Some congregations were allowed, some not, such as the
Jesuits, who in 1876 possessed twenty-nine colleges and 11,000 students are dispensed and
a consistent education to condemnation by Pope Pius IX in modern society. The fortunes of
these congregations was considerable, allowing it to play a social role by its hospitals,
hospices, orphanages and especially its educational institutions, as many levers that
increase its influence and proselytizing.
Thus, Catholic hospices welcome nearly 115 000 people, orphanages 60,000 children. Above
all, its educational institutions are a centerpiece of its influence. Since the Falloux
law enacted March 15, 1850, colleges, held by secular or congregants, gather more than
46,000 students, which, with small seminars, made as many students as the schools and
colleges of the State , which also can also receive religious instruction one day a week,
out of the establishment.
From 1876 and the election of a Republican majority in the Chamber of Deputies, the
Church multiplies the pastoral letters in favor of a return to monarchy by divine right
involving the union of throne and altar. In response anticlericalism experiencing a
significant rise in Republican circles.
The first anti-clerical laws in March 1880 to impose unauthorized congregations to seek
the authorization; Civil funerals are possible; hospitals are secularized; crucifixes are
prohibited in the courtroom; a right to divorce is established; the clergy ousted the
Higher Education Council; high school girls are created to end the monopoly of religious;
the law of 16 June 1881 establishes free public education, and the education of children
from 6 to 13 years is made compulsory.
But from 1894, moderate Republicans return to power conservation to social policy and
religious appeasement. Anti-clericalism is then muted. The Dreyfus Affair will restart.
The Church and the majority of Catholics, inflamed by their press, including newspapers La
Croix and Le Pelerin, almost every position to take a final decision and for the army. The
incidents are increasing, protests, fighting, street fighting...
The anticlerical force
Freemasonry, the League of human rights and free thought, significantly strengthened
during the clashes, have undoubtedly been the driving forces of the law of separation.
Although being fundamentally anticlerical, anarchists have been the spearhead of this
struggle. Probably because a fight to get a law of separation left them abroad. Recall
that expressed by Émile Pouget, deputy secretary general of the CGT in 1905, in the
Almanac of the Father cushy: "Building on the legal stuff to get out of mistoufle is as
illusory as to claim the support of a scoundrel against his partner. The Government is,
inevitably, the friend of the exploiters: they are indispensable to each other. (...)
There will be real jubilation for the rabble that day, thanks to a huge push, the Company
will échenillée the statist and employers vermin and where land will be returned to the
farmers, the plant in the proles, the mine to minors. "
In addition, the anarchists were heavily involved in the construction of trade unionism.
In 1904 Pouget convinces the CGT to organize a broad campaign for the eight-hour day of
work. The year 1905 will be devoted to a lot of preparation. For the first time, the CGT
use very broad means of agitation, including hundreds of thousands of posters. Also, as
stated René Mouriaux, researcher at the Institute of Social History of the CGT: "In 1905,
the CGT, focused on the eight-hour day and the risk of war, the CGT was not paying much
attention to the Separation of Church and State. "She agreed with the principle but the
Amiens Charter deviated debates on" political or philosophical opinions ".
The Republican Defense government will go on the offensive with the Associations Act of 1
July 1901, Waldeck-Rousseau. The 1901 law allows - always - to form associations freely.
And was worth for all types of associations, except for congregations that could not be
formed without authorization by law. Consequently unauthorized congregations, who
continued to proliferate, had no right to teach.
The separation process
The 1902 elections bring a new Republican majority with the Bloc of Left-Hand radicals,
socialists and socialist-radicals. In 1902, one hundred twenty unauthorized congregational
schools are closed; in 1903, Parliament rejected all applications for authorization; in
1904, the Act of July 7 removes any congregational education. The relations with the
Vatican very soon will turn into open conflict. On 30 July 1904 the rupture of diplomatic
relations with the Vatican approved by 480 MPs against 90. The restructuring plan is
Under pressure from atheists and free thought, but also face the pressure of
anticlericalism worker who denounces the collusion of the church and the capitalist
bourgeoisie, the moment seemed to have come to pronounce the separation of Church and of
the State. However, the anticlerical camp is far from homogeneous.
Free thinkers, led by the Socialist MP Maurice Allard, intend to continue the fight
against the Church. Thus Allard, during the meeting of April 30, 1905 before the Chamber
of Deputies, draws an indictment against the Catholic Church: "We have the right not to
let up in the midst of the secular state and against him, this State religious group, this
religious society necessarily becomes a danger when it is animated, like the Church of an
essentially hostile spirit to progress and civilization (...). The Church, political risk
and social danger, must be fought in every way, and I am surprised that when we do against
the Church the decisive battle, we are asked to lay down arms and to offer Church told
liberal project as she herself would never have dared to hope (...). What is the
separation we want? It can only be that which will cause the reduction in malfeasance of
the Church and religions. "To achieve this goal, many amendments were tabled, including
the ban on wearing ecclesiastical held in public, the replacement of religious holidays by
secular holidays and on the confiscation of places of worship.
But it was the Masons who lead the game and are in search of liberal solutions. Jaurès
intends it to be "the common task of all Republicans accordance with the laws of the
secular state but also acceptable to Catholics themselves" (1 June 1904).
The content of the law
In the end, the law adopted in 1905, endorses the end of the concordat proclaims freedom
of conscience, establishes the principle of separation of church and state, but guarantees
the freedom of worship and for it establishes chaplaincies in barracks , high schools,
prisons, hospitals, preserving the presence of the Church in public places. The law
establishes the religious associations whose sole object is the exercise of worship and
who are free to entrust the buildings of worship. They can not engage in social, cultural,
educational or commercial, but receive significant tax advantage: receive donations and
legacies exempted from transfer taxes.
Certainly goods such as hospitals and schools are allocated to public institutions or
public utility, and allow that only property necessary for worship to be returned to the
Church the law of separation provides an inventory of his property.
In 1906, when the prefects are forced to use the police and the army to take an inventory
of church property, the satirical newspaper "L'Assiette au beurre" mocks the dispute
between the sword and the sprinkler "I can not drive the gate of a church where the
Blessed Sacrament is. I never pushed the doors of the Labour Exchange, "said the officer.
The reaction of the Church is fast. On August 10, 1906 published the encyclical Pius X
Gravissimo Officii condemning religious associations and urging the faithful to fight
against the Qualified Law "criminal". A fight against inventory begins and, following
deadly clashes between the faithful mobilized by the Church and police, Clemenceau
interrupts inventories which will then be made on an estimated basis.
The Vatican policy expires in 1924, with the acceptance by the papacy diocesan
associations. The Catholic church's situation is regularized. Ultimately, separating
religion from the state, the 1905 law facilitates the coexistence of all and despite all
their differences and requires that freedom of conscience is recognized. But it also
helped end as wanted his followers to a long period of political struggles and guaranteed
the Church a public presence. The Catholic Church found itself in a new situation. The law
gives the guarantee that nothing from the state to interpose between the Church and Rome.
It is the triumph of Roman centralism.
Since this law, challenged multiplied. Let's start with the maintenance of the bankruptcy
system in the Upper Rhine, the Lower Rhine and Moselle, returned by Germany in 1918; in
1940, the Vichy regime restored to the Church the right to teach and two years later
legalized all congregations; after liberation, these laws remain in force; the Debré law
of December 31, 1959 allows public funding of religious education; in 2000, religious
education during school hours in public schools is authorized; in 2002, Lionel Jospin
decided to have regular discussions with representative religious leaders of the various
churches; the Framework Agreement of July 3, 2001 allowed the creation of the French
Council of the Muslim Faith and therefore "the home of Islam in the Republic of table" (JP
Chevènement). The religious weight in the public space is becoming more significant.
Jacques Dubart (U Nantes)
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