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Organic Articles

1802. A French law unilaterally amending and implementing the Concordat of 1801,* to which it was attached without papal agreement. On grounds of concern for “public tranquility” (Concordat, Article 1), Napoleon hereby succeeded in seizing total control of the French Church, tightly centralized under the state. The law contained seventy-seven articles arranged under four main titles. Title 1 required all papal communications and papal representatives, but also decrees of general councils and any French national or diocesan synods, to receive state approval to be valid. The last three titles provided for a total reorganization of the French Church and seminary structures to conform to secular statist interests, including mandatory acceptance of the four Gallican Articles* (1682) in the seminaries, and minute regulation of worship and salaries. Although condemned by Pius VII and later popes, the Organic Articles remained law, with some parts disused, until 1905.

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