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Cyclopedia of Biblical, Theological and Ecclesiastical Literature
a country of Europe, having an area of 204,092 square miles, and in 1886 a population of 38,218,403 inhabitants.
I. CHURCH HISTORY. —
1. From the first Establishment of Christianity until the 16th Century. — France, or, as it was formerly called, Gaul, was among the first of the European countries in which Christian churches were founded. Roman Catholic writers tell us that the apostle Peter ordained bishops for Limoges, Toulouse, Bordeaux, Rheims, Aries, Sens, le Mans, Vienne, Chalons, Bourges, Clermont, and Saintes. This statement is not historical; but it is certain that Christianity was planted in many parts of Gaul at least as early as the 2d century. The first Christians in Gaul doubtless came from Asia Minor. We may assume as certain that the number of churches was already tolerably large at the time of Irenseus (q.v.) who in 198 presided at three provincial synods, and seems to have established a school of catechists at Lyons. At the beginning of the 4th century there was no province in Gaul as to which we have not accounts of bishoprics, or at least of Christian churches. Of the nations which founded new kingdoms in Gaul in the 5th century the Burgundians were already Christians when they left the southern districts of Germany, and settled between the rivers Saone and Rhone and the Alps, before the year 417. Among the Franks, king Clovis (q.v.) first embraced Christianity, together with more than 3000 soldiers, after the battle of Tolbiacum, in 496. In the mean time Christianity became so generally extended in all parts of the country, in the north has well as in the south, that Church provinces began to be farmed everywhere, the capital of each political province generally becoming also thee neat of the metropolitan. The Franks, embracing the Catholic faith while a considerable part of Europe was still under the rule of the Arians, began soon to be regarded as the chief Catholic nation of Europe. Through the establishment of the empire of Charlemagne, France seemed for a time to become only a part of the union of all the German nations, but soon after the division of the empire in 843 it recommenced its development as an independent state. King Lothaire I was obliged to humble himself before the pope, as the hostile princes of his own family stood ready to execute the papal threats, and the Frankish bishops did not object to have the spurious decretals, (See PSEUDO-DECRETALS), used for the first time against, Hincmar (q.v.) of Rheims, for they thought it better to obey a distant pope than a threatening metropolitan at home. But when, after the death of Lothaire I (869), Hadrian II attempted to interfere in the political and ecclesiastical controversies of France, Hincmar gave him to understand that in France a wide distinction was made between spiritual and secular power, and that the bishops of older times had had independent privileges. The emperor Charles the Bald compelled the French bishops to acknowledge Ansegius archbishop of Sens, as the primate and papal vicar for Gaul and Germany; but, under the counsel of Hincmar, they persisted in obeying the holy father only as far as was consistent with the rights of all the metropolitans and with the laws of the Church. In general, the bishops of France, as well as the kings, resisted more energetically than any other nation the ever- growing claims of the popes, and their unceasing efforts to establish an absolute sway over all bishops, synods, and kings. The Gallican Church stands forth ins Church History as the prominent defender of national and episcopal rights against papal usurpations. Urban II, at the Council of Clermont (1095), excommunicated king Philip for his adulterous connection with the countess Bertrade, and, aided by the sympathy of the people, compelled him to give up his paramour. Louis IX (q.v.), though so firmly attached to the doctrines and usages of his Church that, after his death, he was declared a saint, confirmed the rights of the nation by the Pragmatic Sanction in 1269, the great palladium of the Gallican Church. (See GALLICANISM).
In opposition to pope Boniface VIII, who declared every one a heretic who did not believe that the king in temporal as well as in spiritual matters was subject to the pope, the three estates of France, convened in a General Diet (1302), were unanimous in maintaining the independence of the French kingdom, The pope pronounced an interdict upon the whole of France, but popular opinion effectually protested against all attempts to blend the spiritual with the secular authority. In 1303 the king of France even succeeded in having a pope elected who took up his residence at Avignon (q.v.), and for more than a hundred years (until 1408) the papacy remained a tool in the bands of the French kings. The concordat which Martin V proposed to France was rejected in 1418 by the Parliament, which has ever since remained the steadfast advocate of Gallican liberties. The kings, however were not equally steadfast in their opposition to the demands of thee popes, and often made concessions in the hope, with the aid of the popes, of increasing their power at home. Thus the new Pragmatic Sanction, which the Council of Bourges (q.v.) established in 1438, was soon set aside by the succeeding kings. In all the great ecclesiastical movements of the Middle Ages France took a prominent part. Most of the efforts made either to overthrow the papacy for the purpose of restoring a purer forma of Christianity, (See WALDENSES); (See ALBIGENSES), or to reform the Church from within, either centred in France, or found there the most vigorous support.
2. History of the Roman Catholic Church since the beginning of the 16th Century. At the beginning of the 16th century Francis I concluded a concordat, August 18, 1516, in which he sacrificed many of the liberties of the Gothican Church. After the rise of the Reformation the Roman Church succeeded in securing her ascendency by long-continued and cruel persecution (see below, History of the French Reformed Church). Henry IV, when contesting the throne of France, found the public sentiment so strongly in favor of the. old Church that he thought it expedient, from political reasons,. to change his faith. Henceforth the ascendency of the Roman Church over Protestantism was secured, and the reformatory movements of the Jansenists (q.v.) and others were likewise suppressed, at the request of the popes, by. the secular arm. The Golden Age of France, under Louis XIV, produced also in the Church some master minds, as Bossuet, Fenelon, Bourdaloue and many others, who were ornament of their Church, but were not able to stay the rising tide of an infidel philosophy. The episcopate, under the leadership of Bossuet, reaffirmed the liberties of the Gallican Church at the famous assembly held in 1682.. This assembly, which consisted of eight archbishops, twenty-six bishops, and thirty-eight other clergymen, unanimously affirmed the principles of the Regale (the Pragmatic Sanction of 1438), announcing them in the forms of four propositions, which were registered by the Parliament of Paris March 23, 1682. Though the popes often succeeded in enforcing obedience to their decrees, most of the great theologians of the 17th and 18th centuries adhered to Gallican doctrines, and the Regale continued in force until the revolution of 1789. Monasticism, in the same period reached the climax of literary culture in some congregations of the French Benedictines and Oratorians. Nevertheless the very foundations of the Roman Church were gradually undermined by the spread of French philosophy, and the success of the French Revolution seemed for a time to sweep away the entire Church of France. The National Assembly decreed (November 27, 1790) that all ecclesiastical officers, under penalty of losing their offices, should take an oath for the civil constitution of thee clergy, which Pius VI declared (April 13, 1791) inadmissible. Bishops were chosen in accordance with the new law, and consecrated without having the confirmation of the pope. In 1793 Christianity itself was declared to be. abolished. Napoleon, though perhaps personally indifferent towards all churches, regarded the re-establishment of the Roman Church as the religion of the state as indispensable to. the tranquillity of the country, and therefore concluded in 1801 a concordat, (See CONCORDAT), the introduction of which was solemnized in 1802. Napoleon added to the concordat certain organic laws, which make the promulgation of papal decrees dependent on the authorization of the government, establish an appeal to the Council of State against the abuses of ecclesiastical power, and bind, the theological seminaries to the four propositions of the Gallican clergy of 1682. Two years later Napoleon was crowned emperor by the pope.
When, however, the States of the Church were taken possession of by the French (1808), and when the pope declared every one who laid his hand upon the patrimony of St. Peter excommunicated, Napoleon had the pope arrested and brought to France. An attempt to render, by means of a synod convoked at Paris (1811), the French Church independent of Rome, failed. In. 1813 Napoleon extorted, in a new concordat, some important concessions from the imprisoned pope; and when the pope revoked all he had done, Napoleon published the concord at as the law of the empire on the. very next day (March 25). After the overthrow of Napoleon (1815), Louis XVIII recognised the Roman Church as the religion of the state, though granting religious toleration to every form of public worship. Powerful efforts were made to re-estasblish among the French the belief in the doctrines of the Roman Church, and the leaders in this contest Lamennais (q.v.), de Maistre (q.v.), and the "priests of the Mission" (q.v.) attached themselves more closely to the papal than to the Gallicans school. Gallicanism, at least is its ancient form, began to die out. The Apostolic Congregation, though in opposition to the. inclinations of the prudent king, obtained a concordat (1817) by which the concordat of 1801 was revoked, and that of 1516 substituted for it. So decided, however, was the opposition of public opinion that it was never laid before the Chamber of Deputies. Without the consent of the Chambers, the government of Louis XVIII, and still more that of Charles X, did as much for the Church as was in their power, although, to appease public excitement, a royal ordinance (June 16, 1828) had to close the schools of the Jesuits. The revolution of 1830 was connected with some outbreaks of popular indignation against the Church, which lost the prerogative of being the religion of the state. Yet Louis Philippe made as great concessions to the Church as the origin of his own authority would allow. Lamennais, Lacordaire, Maontalembert, and others anticipated great results from a union between ultramontanism and democracy, but the condemnation of their organ, L'Avenir, by the pope, put a stop to their novel schemes, and drove Lamennais out of the Church. An attempt, made by. the abbe Chatel in 1830, to found a new French Catholic Church, in the spirit of an extravagant liberalism, and without any Christian basis, was an utter failure.
A plan of national education, which placed (1833) the public schools under the superintendence of the: university was violently assailed by the Church, yet the government never ceased. to seek a reconciliation, or at least a compromise, with the Church; and when Thiers called up in the Chamber of Deputies the laws still in existence against the Jesuits, the government executed them with the utmost possible mildness. To the Republican Revolution of 1848 the Church offered no opposition, and. the priests did not hesitate to bless the tree of liberty and pray for the sovereign people. The Church received almost everything she had been in vain demanding during the reign of Louis Philippe. Nevertheless, the dread of the Red Republic made most of the clergy and of the leaders of the Catholic party partisans of Louis Napoleon. Having become emperor, Napoleon III attached a majority of the bishops and of the ultramontane school to his interests by increasing the salaries of the bishops, raising their influence in the supreme educational and political boards of the state and by permitting the bishops to revive the provincial councils which had been in desuetude for more than a hundred years. The ultramontane school, headed by the Univers, readily approved of all the measures of the government by which the political liberties of the nation were curtailed, and many hoped that the emperor would realize their boldest dream — the restoration of a politico- ecclesiastical theocracy under the rule of the pope. Yet many leading men in the Church, especially among the laity, dissented from this view, and organized a moderate school, which not only opposed the political views of the government and of the ultramontanes, but also accused the latter of ultraism in their defense of ecclesiastical institutions and practices. Montalembert, Lacordaire, prince de Broglie, Falloux, Lenormant, and bishop Dupanloup of Orleans were the most distinguished men of the party, the Correspondent and the Ami de la Religion its most important organs. The controversy between the two parties grew not only very bitter and violent; but even led several times to a split between the bishops, whose sympathies were almost equally divided between the two parties. Several bishops. took decided ground against the Univers, and even in Paris it required the mediation of the pope to prevent its prohibitions by archbishop Siboiur. An entire change in the relation of Napoleon to the Church and the so-called Catholic party took place is consequence of the war in Italy (1857) and the attitude of Napoleon with regard to the temporal sovereignty of the pope. The war silenced all the eulogies of the emperor, and only a few solitary voices, like that of Lacordaire, dared to express sympathy with the cause of Italian independence. But after Napoleon had advised the pope to give up a portion of his states, both thee parties, the ultramontane and the moderate, turned against the government. All the bishops except one condemned, more or less explicitly, the course pursued my the government, and every ecclesiastical journal in France took the same ground. Thee government used all means to keep down the agitation of thee public mind on the subject, and to force the leading advocates of the ecclesiastical interests to submission. The Univers and several Catholic papers in the provinces were suppressed, and almost every other organ of the party received an official warning; and the bishops were threatened, in the case of a continuance of the agitation, with the re- enforcing of the organic articles. It is generally admitted that thee Roman Church in France has grown strong in comparison with its condition during the 18th and at the beginning of the 19th century. All the leading religious societies, confraternities, and associations of the Roman Church center in France, which contributes for some religious purposes, as the foreign missions, more than the rest of the Roman Church together.
3. The History of French Protestantism. — The Reformation of the 16th century, soon after its rise in Germany and Switzerland, found many friends and patrons in France; but it met at once with a determined opposition on the part of the University of Paris, which declared against it in 1521. Among the earliest preachers of the Reformed faith were Bucer, Melancthon, Lefevre, and Farel;, somewhat later, Calvin published his Institutes of the Christian Religion, with a dedication to king Francis I. In 1521 the first Protestant congregation was formed at Meaux, the bishop of which city, Briconnet (q.v.), was one of the converts of Lefevre and Farel. The bishop subsequently yielded to persecution and recanted, but the congregation maintained itself. (For a fuller account of the beginnings. of Protestantisms in France, (See REFORMATION). )
Under the reign of Henry II (1547-59), the members of the French Reformed Church had increased so greatly in numbers and strength that it became difficult to treat them any longer as holders of a forbidden religion. The Protestants did not content themselves with seeking to secure toleration, hut, regarding the Roman Church as doomed to destruction, and themselves as called by God to take its place, they often entered into plans for establishing Protestantism as the religion of the state. The adhesion to the Reformation of several members of the royal, family, as the king of Navarre and his brother, the prince of Conde, and several grandees of the empire (among whom the three brothers Chatillon and the noble admiral Coligny distinguished themselves), early introduced into the Protestant Church a political element which: was: strengthened by the cruel rigor with which the princes generally persecuted. it. This element was developed the more strongly as the general spirit of those. times was democratic, and as Calvin himself, the father of the Reformed Church, inclined to theocratic principles. "In 1555 the first avowed French Reformed church was established in Paris. All the chief towns followed this example. The first synod of the French Protestant Church assembled privately in Paris, May 25, 1559. Owing to the danger of the enterprise only thirteen churches sent deputies. Nevertheless, the foundations of an important superstructure were then and there laid. A complete system of ecclesiastical polity was speedily adopted, for the members of the synod had too vivid a sense: of the dangers to which they were exposed to waste time in unprofitable discussions among themselves. The form of government thus established was thoroughly Presbyterian in its character. It seems to have corresponded very closely to that of the Church of Scotland. The Consistory maybe viewed as representing the Kirk Session, the, Colloquy the Presbytery, while the Provincial Synods of each are analogous; and the National Synod corresponds to the General Assembly. The Consistory was elected at first by the whole congregation over which it was to rule, but vacancies occurring afterwards were filled up by the Colloquy. The ministers were elected by the Colloquy. A minister, on being thus elected, was required to preach before the congregation on three consecutive Sabbaths; whereafter, if no objection was made, the congregation was considered as acquiescing in the appointment. If there was any objection, the matter was referred to the Provincial Synod, whose decision was final. These provincial synods have been generally sixteen in number. The National Synod has met but seldom, owing to the severe persecutions to which the Church has been exposed, and the increasing restrictions which have been imposed upon her. The Confession of Faith adopted at the first synod consisted of forty articles. Its doctrines were strictly Calvinistic. Though the Church was much harassed by persecution during the reign of Henry II, still it greatly increased; so much so that we are told that Beza, who died in 1605, could count 2150 churches in connection with the Protestant Church of France; and the churches were not small or insignificant in point of strength. In some there were, 10,000 members. The church of Orleans had 7000 communicants, and the ministers in such churches were proportionally numerous: two ministers to a church was common, and that of Orleans had five. At this period there were 305 pastors in the one province of Normandy, and in Provence there were 60" (Eadie, s.v.). The cruel persecution to which the Calvinists were subjected after the death of Henry II, under the reign of Francis II, led them to organize the Conspiracy of Amboise, in which some discontented members of the Roman Catholic Church also took part, though the majority of the conspirators were Calvinists, Its aim was the overthrow of the proud duke of Guise and his brother, the cardinal of Lorraine, who were the uncles of the king, and the chief instigators of the persecution of the Protestants. The conspiracy was betrayed, and many of the participants lost their lives. Calvin and Beza had been notified of the enterprise, but discouraged it, though they did not feel themselves bound to betray it. The weak king of Navarre, and still more his brother, the prince of Conde, were implicated in the plot, and nothing but the death of the king saved their lives. The Calvinists henceforth received the name Huguenots, a name whose etymology is not quite certain. (See HUGUENOTS).
During the regency of Catharine of Medicis the Huguenots increased in number, and the court party, which feared that their extirpation was not possible without exposing France to the terrors of civil war was inclined to grant them religious toleration. The dukes of Guise saw the necessity of enlarging and consolidating the Catholic party. They prevailed on the aged and vainglorious constable of Montmorency to form with them a triumvirate, which was soon also joined by the king of Navarre, who was induced by false promises to abandon the cause of the Huguenots. The cardinal of Lorraine even feigned an inclination to the Confession of Augsburg, and, contrary to the wishes of his own party, brought about a, religious conference with the Calvinists at Poissy (1561), at which Beza brilliantly defended the Reformation against the whole prelatic strength of the Roman Church. A committee, consisting of five members of each party was appointed to conciliate the views of the two churches concerning the doctrine of the Lord's Supper. It succeeded in drawing up a formula which was accepted by the Calvinists, as well as by the queen-mother and the cardinal. But the Sorbonne declared it to be heretical, and it was soon generally abandoned. The celebrated edict of January, 1562, granted to the Huguenots provisionally the right to assemble for religious worship outside of the towns, until further provisions should be made by an oecumenical council. Beza and the Huguenots in general accepted this trifling concession with gratitude, but a number of Parliaments, especially that of Paris, raised against it the strongest remonstrances. The duke of Guise threatened to cut it with the edge of his sword, and commenced hostilities in the same year at Vassy, where a number of the Huguenots were massacred. A bloody civil war ensued, in which the Huguenots suffered heavy losses, and which was ended by the Peace of St. Germain (1570), in which the government gave to the Huguenots four fortified towns as security for the future. The Huguenots conceived new hopes; their chief defender, Henry of Navarre, was married to the king's sister; but when all their chief men were assembled at Paris to celebrate the nuptials, the queen mother gave treacherously the sign for that general and bloody massacre known in history as the Night of St. Bartholomew, in which from 20,000 to 100,000 Protestants perished, and among them the great Coligny (q.v.). The Protestants again rose in despair, and received new concessions in the Edict of Poitiers (1577), but the Holy League, which had been organized by the duke of Guise and his brother, compelled the king to revoke everything, and to take a pledge not to rest until the last heretic should be extirpated from France. The assassination of the duke of Guise and his brother by order of the king, who wished to free himself from the influence of the League, stirred up anew the fanaticism of the Catholic population, and led to the expulsion, and, later, to the assassination of the king himself. The legitimate heir to the throne, Henry of Navarre, had been the head of the Protestants, yet, to overcome the hostility of the Roman Catholic party, he believed it necessary to join the Roman Church (1593)He gave, however, to his former co-religionists, by the Edict of Nantes (1598), which he declared irrevocable, freedom of faith and of public worship (with only a few restrictions), their rights as citizens, and great privileges as an organized political corporation. They were declared eligible for admission into the university, and for appointments in the public service, and received an annual grant of 1000 crowns. The remonstrances of several magistrates and provinces against this decree were in vain. Thus brighter days seemed to approach. During the twenty-six years which intervened between the massacre of St. Bartholomew and the publication of the Edict of Nantes only six National Synods had been held, and the only thing that had served to cheer up the drooping hearts of Protestants had been the publication of anew and improved edition of the Genevan version of the Bible. After the assassination of Henry IV (1610) the Protestants were again forced by persecution to take up arms in defense of their rights; but they were disarmed as a political party by cardinal Richelieu, though, by an act of amnesty at Nismes (1629), he secured to them their former ecclesiastical privileges. About this time their number had been reduced to only about half of what it was before the massacre of St. Bartholomew. Louis XIV regarded it as his special mission to break the power of Protestantism in the state. The Protestants were deprived of a great many churches and schools; the utmost efforts were made to convert all who were accessible to fear, promises, or persuasion; children were taken from their parents; "booted missions of dragoons" were sent in every direction (after 1681), and at last the Edict of Nantes was formally repealed in 1685. (See NANTES, EDICT OF).
One mountain tribe, (See CAMISARDS,) in the Cevennes took up arms against the king, but its prophets and heroes either perished on the battle- field, or gained only the privilege of going into exile (1704). It is calculated that from 30,000 to 40,000 Protestants fled from France at this time. Nevertheless, two millions of the Reformed remained, with no congregations except in the wilderness, and in 1744 they again held Their first National Synod. "In the closing years of thee reign of Louis XIV, and during the regency of Philippe d'Orleans, the Protestants were more leniently dealt with. Though now enjoying external peace, the Church began to exhibit signs of internal declension. The chief causes producing this effect were the want of trained and educated men to fill the office of pastor, and the spirit of fanaticism which had sprung up among the members of the Church. These defects were remedied mainly by the exertions of Antoine Court, who has been styled the ‘ Restorer of the Protestantism of France.' He instituted prayer-meetings wherever he could, and also held synods or conferences of the ministers,. along with a few intelligent laymen. By thus exciting a spirit of prayer and a love of order he much benefited the Church. But, while the Protestant Church was gradually recovering from, its depressed condition, it was startled by the proclamation by Louis XV, on May 14, 1724, of the last great law against the Protestants, This law re-enforced the most severe measure of Louis XIV. It sought not so much to intimidate Protestants into a recantation, or to punish them if they refused but rather sought to force them, willing or not, to receive the ordinances of the Roman Catholic Church. For instance, it made baptism by the parish curate compulsory in every case, and declared that no marriage was valid unless performed by a Roman priest. This attempt to force people into the Church of Rome only drove them further from it. Antoine Court (q.v.) was supported by multitudes.
The Provincial Synods, which he had reinvigorated, multiplied; and, to meet the want of pastors, he opened a school of theology at Lausanne, which continued to supply the Protestant, Church with pastors until the time of Napoleon. From 1730 to 1744 the Protestants enjoyed quiet. In the latter years a National Synod was held in Lower Languedoc. When the news of the holding of this synod reached Paris, it caused the king sand his ministers to embark in a new crusade of horrors against the defenseless Protestants. This caused a new emigration. Calmer days followed the storm, and, after 1760, principles of toleration began to prevail. The school of Voltaire, while doing incalculable injury to the cause of religion and morality generally, did good service in spreading the principles of toleration and of religious liberty. The nation gradually became leavened with these principles. Louis XVI, though rather inclined to the opposite principles, was ultimately obliged to yield to the spirit of the age, and in November, 1788, be published an edict of tolerance. The privileges granted by this edict to those who were not Roman Catholics are the following: ‘ The right of living in France, and of exercising a profession or trade in the kingdom, without being disturbed on account of religion; the permission to marry legally before the officers of justice; the authority to record the births of their children before the local judge.' It also included a provision for the interment of those who could not be buried according to the Roman Catholic ritual" (Eadie, s.v.).
The Reformation of Luther found early adherents in France, some of whom suffered martyrdom for them faith, (See REFORMATION IN FRANCE), but the influence of Calvin soon prevailed. In 1648, Alsace, and a, number of other districts and towns in which the Lutheran Church was either exclusively or partly established, were ceded to France by the Peace of Westphalia. Religious liberty was guaranteed to the Lutherans, and again confirmed by the Peace of Nymvegen in 1678. On the same terms France acquired, in 1681, Strasburg, and in 1696, from Wurtemberg, Mompelgard. The congregations of these districts gradually coalesced into the one evangelical Lutheran Church of France, showing the diversities of its origin by the variety of liturgies, hymn-books, catechisms, etc. which are still in use. The free exercise of their worship has not on the whole, been interfered with; yet many royal decrees have favored the Roman Church and proselytism, and the number of entire congregations which have been brought back to the Roman Church is said to be over sixty.
The National Assembly of 1789 gave to all religious denominations equal rights, yet the Revolution soon. afterwards raged against thee Protestant churches as much as against the Roman Catholic. Peace and order were first restored by the decree of 1802, in which Napoleon assigned to the clergymen of the French Reformed and the French Lutheran churches salaries from the public treasury, and gave them, of his own authority, a new constitution. The principal points of this constitution were as follows: The lowest ecclesiastical board for both denominations, is the Consistory, which consists of the pastors of the consistorial district, and from six to twelve laymen. There is to be one Consistory for every 6000 souls, no matter whether they belong to one or to several congregations. The lay members are elected every other year from the number of those citizens who pay the highest taxes. The Cosnsistory is presided over by the oldest pastor. In the Reformed Church five consistorial districts form one synodal district. The Provincial Synod consists of one pastor and one elder from every congregations The president is elected. The synod cannot be convoked without the permission of the government; cans discuss only subjects which have previously been brought to the knowledge of the minister, of public worship, and in the presence of the prefect or an officer delegated by him; and can remain in session only six days. The Lutheran Church is divided into Inspections, the assemblies of which correspond to the Provincial Synods of the Reformed Church, with this difference, however, that the assemblies of the Lutheran Church elect for lifetime one inspector, and two lay, adjuncts, who have the right to visit the churches. Above these provincial synods stands in the Lutheran Church a kind of central synod, called the General Consistory. It consists of a lay president and two clerical inspectors, appointed by the government for life, and of one lay deputy from every Inspection elected for life. This board is subject to the same restrictions ass the Provincial Synods and the Assemblies of the Inspections.
In the interval between the sessions, a committee, consisting of the president, the elder of the two inspectors, two lay members designated by the General Consistory, and a commissary appointed by the head of the state, acts as the supreme administrative board of the Church. This responsible committee, is called the Directory. At first this new constitution was regarded with great favor by the Protestants, but its defects soon revealed themselves. The Reformed Church complained that the Provincial Synods cere never convoked. The want of Presbyterial Councils was so palpable that they were organized in spite of the silence of the law, in the Reformed Church, under the name of Consistoires Sectionnaires; in the Lutheran Church, under the name Conseils Presbyteraux. The larger Reformed congregations also appointed deacons, to have the care of the poor, and this example was imitated by the Lutheran congregation of Colmar. During the reign of Napoleon and that of the Bourbons, no improvement of the law could be expected, because the one was too absolute, and the other too hostile to Protestantism. Under Louis Philippe several attempts were made to reorganize the Church, but dissension between the government and the Church boards, and, in the Lutheran Church, between the Inspections and the General Consistory, frustrated all these efforts. After the Revolution of 1848, both churches availed themselves of the liberty granted to them, and held General Assemblies, which prepared drafts of new constitutions, and also expressed a desire for union between the two churches. Louis Napoleon returned to the principles of the former legislation, and by a decree of March 26, 1852, re-established the law of 1802, with a few alterations. According to these alterations, Presbyterial Councils, based on universal suffrage, are established in both churches; from them Consistories proceed, which elect their clerical president, who must, however, be approved by the government. The Reformed Church receives, moreover, from the government a Conseil Central, as supreme ecclesiastical board, the members of which are appointed by the government. But the Consistories have not yet admitted the authority of the Conseil, which, in fact, is only an organ for the government rather than for the churches. In the Lutheran Church the inspectors are in future to be appointed for life by the government, instead of being elected by the district assemblies. The supreme Church board is called the Supreme Consistory, and the government appoints its president and one member. All the inspectors are also members of this Supreme Consistory, with two lay deputies from each inspection district, and one deputy of the theological seminary.
The election of these latter two classes is left to the Church. The Directory has the right of appointing all pastors, subject to the. approval of the government. Soon after the publication of the decree of March 26, a new division and an increase of the consistories of the two churches, and of the Inspections of the Lutheran Church, took place. This reorganization of the two churches afforded to both this theoretical advantage, that each department was assigned to a Consistory, and that henceforth congregations could be formed without having to encounter obstacles on the part of Roman Catholic boards. On the other hand, it was pernicious to the interests of the dissenters, many of whose churches and schools were closed in the purely Roman Catholic districts. In consequence of the hostility of the bishops, and their influence in the provinces, the Protestants had frequently to suffer from articles 291, 292, and 294 of the Napoleonic Criminal Code, according to which all associations of twenty persons or more, without previous authorization of the government, are forbidden. This law has frequently been put in force against the religious meetings of the Protestants, both in the state and in the free churches, in places where there are no church edifices. Many of these grievances were redressed on the establishment of the Republic, when a minister of public worship declared those articles not to be applicable to religious meetings. But a decree of Louis Napoleon, issued March 25, 1852, extended it again to "all public meetings," and subjected the Protestants to many new annoyances. They hope to find some relief from a recent law of March 19, 1859, which takes the authorization of new churches, chapels, and oratories out of the hands of the prefects, and transfers it to the State Council, which is less suspected of yielding to the influence of the bishops and the Roman Catholic party. A great revival in the Protestant churches commenced about 1820. Those who, under the influence of this revival, sought to unite themselves by closet spiritual bonds than the state churches afforded them were generally designated by the name Methodists, although they were not organized as a Methodist denomination. Many of the converts kept themselves aloof from the state churches, and began to lay the foundation of independent congregations. In the state Church a violent contest arose between the Evangelical and the Rationalistic parties. The "Evangelical Association," founded in 1833, was supported as a home missionary society by evangelical Christians both in and out of the state churches. A large number of religious societies sprung up, partly supported by only one of the great parties, but partly also by both. In 1848, Frederick Monod (q.v.), with several other clergymen of the Evangelical school, seceded from the Reformed State Church because the synod of the Church refused to demand from all ministers an adhesion to the fundamental articles of the evangelical faith. With the assistance of count de Gasparin and others, he succeeded in having all the dissident churches united into a Union des eglises evangeliques de France," which held its first General Synod in 1849. The churches belonging to this union, are entirely independent of the state, and their General Synods now meet biennially. In both the state churches some leading men and journals of the Rationalistic party have gone so far as to avow undisguised deistical views, and all attempts to force them out of the Church have failed. On the other hand, when a pastor of the Evangelical school showed an inclination towards Baptist views, the choice was left to him either to recant or to secede.
II. Ecclesiastical Statistics of France. — 1. The Roman Catholic Church. — The Roman Catholic Church had, at the beginning of the year 1869, eighteen archbishoprics, viz. Aix, Alby, Algiers (established in 1867), Auch, Avignon, Besancon, Bordeaux, Bourges, Cambrai, Chambery, Lyons, Paris, Rheims, Rennes (established in 1859), Rouen, Sens, Toulouse, and Tours. A number of the archbishops are generally cardinals (in 1868, five), who, as such, are senators of the empire, and receive a higher salary. The number of bishoprics is 69 in France, 2 in Algeria, 3 in the colonies (Martinique, Guadeloupe, and Reunion); total, 74. Since the overthrow of Louis Philippe, the bishops have claimed the right to meet, without previous authorization from the government, in Provincial Synods, and many such synods have since been held. The archbishops and bishops are assisted in the administration of their dioceses by vicar-generals, whose number ranges from two to fifteen, and by two or three secretaries. The ecclesiastical courts have risen in importance since the re-establishment of the provincial and diocesan synods, and consist of a president, an official, a vice-official, a promoteur, one or several assessors, and one greffier. As the bishops are not elected, but nominated by the government, the chapters have less importance than in other countries. The canons of these chapters, all of whom are appointed by the bishops, form three classes, called chanoines d' honneur, chanoines honoraires, and chanoines titulaires. The third class contains the active resident members. The first class contains bishops of other dioceses; the second class (the most numerous), many pastors, vicars, professors of theological faculties, presidents of seminaries, colleges, and institutions, both Frenchmen and foreigners. Rural deaneries, other chapters, and the office of archdeacon were swept away by the Revolution, but a new chapter of St. Denys (Dionysius), prominent not so much by influence as by high position, has been founded, near the tomb of the imperial family, by Louis Napoleon. It has two classes of members: first, the bishops who have retired; and, secondly, ten canons, with ten honorary members, these latter including the imperial chaplains. The lower clergy are divided into cures, desservants, and vicaires. There are about 3600 of the first, about 32,000 of the second, and more than 9000 of the third class. Besides, there are a number of aumoniers (chaplains) appointed for the lyceums, colleges, normal schools, hospitals, and jails; also for. the army and the navy, each of which has its aumonier en chef. Thus the total number .of the lower (secular) clergy exceeds 40,000. Ins the administration of the secular affairs of the parishes, some members of the laity take part as marguilliers de paroisse (treasurers), or members of the so-called Fabrique (church council).
In the Roman, Church, the religious orders and communities of thee clergy, and societies and confraternities among the laity, are very numerous. Among the monastic orders the Jesuits (q.v.) occupy a prominent position, both by the number of their establishments and by their influence. Some of their members (e.g. Ravignan and Felix) have shone as the greatest pulpit orators of modern France. The Benedictines (q.v.) have re-established a convent at Solemnes, and have resumed the, literary labors of their order, but have not been able as yet to obtain many members. The Dominicans, though not very numerous, have gained prestige from the reputation of Lacordaire, who re-established the order ins France. Nearly all the monastic orders of the Roman Church have now some establishments is France, and a. number of new ones (e.g. the Oblates, Marists, and society of Piepus) have been founded. Many of the religious orders and communities. devote. themselves with great zeal to the work of foreign missions. At the head of them are the Lazarists (q.v.), whose principal establishment is in Paris. With them vies especially the Seminary of Foreign Missions at Paris, which was founded in 1663, abolished in 1792, and re-established in 1825. It is under the administration of a superior and six directors, and sends out every year large numbers of missionaries to Eastern Asia. The Oblates, the Marists, the Piepus Society, the Jesuits, the Priests of Mercy, the Capuchins, and many other orders and congregations; sustain missions in foreign lands. A new missionary seminary for the missions in Africa was established at Lyons in 1858.
The communities of women, who nurse the sick and the aged poor, or devote themselves to teaching and to the reformation of prisoners and wretched females, are very numerous and prosperous. Many of these congregations and societies as the Sisters of Charity (q.v.), the congregation of the Good Shepherd (q.v.), the Little Sisters of the Poor, etc. increase with a rapidity which is almost without example in the entire history of the Roman Church. The religious societies among the laity also increase in strength and numbers every year. The most important among them are the Society for the Propagation of the Faith, the central missionary society of the Roman Church, to which now nearly all countries of the world contribute. It was founded in France in 1822, has its centers at Paris and Lyons, and its contributions amount to about 5,000,000 francs annually, more than one half of which is contributed by France. The society publishes a bimonthly, Annals of the Propagation of Faith, in various languages. The central children's missionary society of the Church, called the Society of the Holy Childhood; has its central organization in France. Its annual income amounts to about 1,000,000 francs. The St. Vincent Society, for visiting and assisting the poor, has established branch associations is sore than 3000 localities, and expends for the assistance of the poor more than 3, 000,000 francs annually. Primary education in France is almost entirely under the control of the bishops.
Most of the schools are conducted by religious congregations, such as the Brothers of the Christian Schools, the Brothers of the Christian Doctrine, the Brothers of St. Joseph, Brothers of Mary, Brothers of the Society of Mary, Daughters of thee Holy Spirit, and many others. The seminaries, in which those who have the priesthood: its view are educated from their early boyhood (Grands et Petits Seminaires) are now, as they always have, been, under the sole control of the bishops. The relations of the Church to the State colleges were, until the Revolution of 1848, not to the satisfaction of the bishops, although every college had its chaplain. The controversy between Church and State on this point was terminated by the law of March 15, 1850, which grants to the Church the liberty to found free colleges. This permission has called into existence a very considerable number of Roman Catholic colleges and boarding- schools. Faculties of theology exist at Paris (the Sorbonne), at Lyons, Rouen and Bordeaux, but, as the professors and deans are appointed by the Minister of public worship, they do not — enjoy the patronage of the bishops, and have but a limited number of students. Moreover, the course of studies at the three last-named is by no means superior to that of the Grands Seminaires. In order to promote the study of scientific theology, which, on the whole, is cultivated but little, the bishops have organized at Paris an Ecole ecclesiastique des hautes etudes.
Nominally, the immense majority of the population of France is still connected with the Roman Catholic Church. The census of 1851 claimed out of the entire population (35,781,627) 34,931,032 as Roman Catholics. At the last French census the religious denominations were not taken into consideration. In 1866 the Roman Catholic population of the French dominions was estimated as follows: France, 36,000,000; French possessions in America, 314,000; Algeria, 190,000; other French possessions in Africa, 133,000; possessions in Asia, 200,000; possessions in Oceanica, 30,000. A very large portion of these, however, ase practically not only without any connection whatever with the Church, but even decided opponents of it. Among the daily journals published at Paris only a few are considered as Roman Catholic papers. The number of religious journals, ins proportion both to the Roman population of France and to the religious press of other Roman Catholic countries, is small. The most important among the Roman Catholic papers are the Monde and the Univers, both dailies of Paris, and counted among the most important organs of the ultramontane party in the world.
The following table gives the list of ecclesiastical provinces, with number of dioceses, clergy and religious communities in each, as reported in 1868:
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McClintock, John. Strong, James. Entry for 'France'. Cyclopedia of Biblical, Theological and Ecclesiastical Literature. https://www.studylight.org/encyclopedias/eng/tce/f/france.html. Harper & Brothers. New York. 1870.