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C O U R S E 
The French Revolution
Peter McPhee, The University of Melbourne
C O U R S E   L E C T U R E 
The Turning Point in Church Reform
Notes taken on October 1, 2017 by Edward Tanguay
unresolved issues in 1790-1791
creating tensions between supporters of the revolution and and those who thought that its reformers were too radical
the reforms to the Church
the National Assembly includes many members of clerical deputies to the Estates General
the majority were parish priests
very popular because they were the people who started to break rank with privilege in 1789
joined with the Third Estate, i.e. the commoner deputies
a great deal of good will toward the parish clergy of France
when people celebrated the achievements of the first year of the Revolution in 1790, the music written for that occasion by François-Joseph Gossec (1734-1829)
expresses popular Catholic beliefs
God is watching over the developments of the French Revolution
everyone believes that the Revolution needs to reform the church
even the parish clergy
the Assembly takes actions which begin to concern the members of the First Estate
First Estate: clergy
Second Estate: nobility
Third Estate: commoners
Assembly resolves the fiscal crisis of the Monarchy by seizing Church property to be sold off at auction
concerned that Jews have been giving equal rights to Catholics
Civil Constitution of the Clergy
attempt of the National Assembly to apply reforms to the church, administrative matters
salaries and tithes
churches and chapels
assembly decided there are too many churches
many smaller chapels are to be closed down
this rankles people
introduces election by active citizens
just as elections to the local administrative council
this was too much of a change for the members of the Church, who believed that authority from the people instead of from God
this change seemed to be anathema
any clergy had to take an oath to be faithful to the nation
they try to take a limited oath
in secular matters I respect the nation
but they were not able to be full priests
half the parish priests are ready to take the oath
Pope declares that the French Revolution is anathema
the priests that take the oath are guilty of heresy
will be excommunicated
the church was therefore torn apart
in the northwest and west very few priests were prepared to take the oath
in Paris, most were prepared to take the oath
in Brittany, the small parishes functioned as tiny theocracies, and pledging an oath to the French nation was too much of a change
the priest provides the fulcrum of the community
a community of souls
in the southeast
there were concentrated villages
the mass of the parish clergy saw themselves as citizen priests