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The Organic Articles

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A name given to a law regulating public worship, comprising 77 articles relative to Catholicism, and 44 relative to Protestantism, presented by order of Napoleon to the Tribunate and the legislative body at the same time that he made these two bodies vote on the Concordat itself. Together with the Concordat, the Organic Articles were published as a law, under the same title and the same preamble, 8 April, 1802, and the various governments in France which have since followed one another, down to 1905, have always professed to regard the Organic Articles as inseparable from the Concordat. Pope Pius VII however, as early as 24 May, 1802, declared formally, in a consistorial allocution, that these articles had been promulgated without his knowledge, and that he could not accept them without modification.

The Organic Articles which refer to Catholicism fall under four titles.

It was not long, however, before many of these articles became a dead letter. M. Emile Ollivier, in his speech from the tribune. 11 July, 1868, said: "It would be difficult to cite even one or two that are still kept, even these are not enforced every day but are only dragged from their nothingness and obscurity on great occasions, when there is need of seeming to do something while doing nothing." Even the Third Republic never claimed the right to prevent the bringing of papal documents into France, to fix the dress of the priests, to insist on the teaching of the Declaration of 1682; and the judgments Tanquam ab abusu pronounced by the Council of State against the bishops, have always been mildly platonic.

The Organic Articles as such were the outcome, philosophically speaking, of a certain Gallican and Josephist spirit, whereby the State sought to rule the Church. Historically speaking, the French Legislature in drawing up these articles, which limited the scope of the Concordat, had set an unfortunate example, followed twenty years later by the various German governments, which having in their turn treated with the Holy See, hastened to counteract their own agreements by means of certain territorial enactments.

The law of 1905, which separated Church and State in France, abrogated the Organic Articles at the same time that it abrogated the Concordat.


About this page

APA citation. Goyau, G. (1907). The Organic Articles. In The Catholic Encyclopedia. New York: Robert Appleton Company. http://www.newadvent.org/cathen/01756a.htm

MLA citation. Goyau, Georges. "The Organic Articles." The Catholic Encyclopedia. Vol. 1. New York: Robert Appleton Company, 1907. <http://www.newadvent.org/cathen/01756a.htm>.

Transcription. This article was transcribed for New Advent by Tomas Hancil.

Ecclesiastical approbation. Nihil Obstat. March 1, 1907. Remy Lafort, S.T.D., Censor. Imprimatur. +John Cardinal Farley, Archbishop of New York.

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