Support This Website! Shop Here!

Saturday, March 07, 2009

A Civil Constitution

In 1790, the French Revolutionaries decided to destroy the power of the Catholic Church by forcing all religious and all ordained men to take a vow of allegiance to the state. Any religious, priest or bishop who refused to take the vow was either forced out of the country or into a grave. This naked attack on the Catholic Church was legislatively called "The Civil Constitution of the Clergy."

Read through the Civil Constitution and notice how many modern-day heretics draw on it for inspiration. It reads like a primer from Karl Rahner or Richard P. McBrien.

The legislation solved two problems at once.
First, it broke the power of the Catholic Church in France. The Church was never a big fan of mass murder or regicide, but that was no longer a problem, as their vows would require Church officials to be silent on these matters in the future.

Second, it allowed the state to acquire vast tracts of Church land. The Revolution was chronically short of money, and the land grab filled government coffers in a way few other actions could have done.

The action was not without a reaction. The Catholics of the French Vendee region were in open revolt by 1794, in no small part because of the havoc wreaked on their region by the Civil Constitution. The Revolution was largely an urban, and especially Parisian, phenomenon. Much of the Catholic countryside had no particular love for it.

The Revolutionaries responded by sending 13 columns of French troops into the Vendee. These "colonnes infernales" - columns from hell - killed every living person they encountered.

Why am I recalling this history?

Because Connecticut is making a power grab nearly identical to the Civil Constitution of the Clergy. It proposes to legislatively strip Connecticut's bishops of all governing authority over all Catholic parishes in the state. If it passes, each parish will be run by a corporate board. The only thing the bishop will be able to direct is the teaching of the Faith itself - exactly the single same loophole left open by the Civil Constitution.

When states are behind the fiscal 8-ball, the Church's property always looks mighty tasty.

Will its passage provoke outrage among Catholics?

Will it provoke a similar response?
Do we want to find out?

1 comment:

Bill Hoog said...

I think the tax exempt status of the Church is a Golden Calf,while nice to have, that has hampered the Church in witnessing to the gospel. How much hasn't been done due to being afraid of losing the precious tax exempt status?

The Connecticut proposal is scary. The secular government has NO right to usurp the bishops' roles. They really want to force a schism. Of course there's no shortage of malcontents around who would gladly help the government achieve this horrible goal!