The National Assembly, after having heard the report of the ecclesiastical
committee, has decreed and do decree the following as constitutional
ARTICLE I. Each department shall form a single diocese, and each
diocese shall have the same extent and the same limits as the
The seat of the bishoprics of the eighty-three departments of
the kingdom shall be established as follows: that of the department
of the Lower Seine at Rouen; that of the department of Calvados
other bishoprics in the eighty-three departments of the kingdom,
which are not included by name in the present article, are, and
forever shall be, abolished.
kingdom shall be divided into ten metropolitan districts of which
the sees shall be situated at Rouen, Rheims, Besancon, Rennes,
Paris, Bourges, Bordeaux, Toulouse, Aix, and Lyons. These archbishoprics
shall have the following denominations : that of Rouen shall be
called the Archbishopric of the Coast of the Channel.
No church or parish of France nor any French citizen may acknowledge
upon any occasion, or upon any pretext whatsoever, the authority
of an ordinary bishop or of an archbishop whose see shall be under
the supremacy of a foreign power, nor that of his representatives
residing in France or elsewhere; without prejudice, however, to
the unity of the faith and the intercourse which shall be maintained
with the visible head of the universal Church, as hereafter provided.
A new arrangement and division of all the parishes of the kingdom
shall be undertaken immediately in concert with the bishop and
the district administration.
All titles and offices other than those mentioned in the present
constitution, dignities, canonries, prebends, half prebends, chapels,
chaplainships, both in cathedral and col legiate churches, all
regular and secular chapters for either sex, abbacies and priorships,
both regular and in commendam, for either sex, as well as all
other benefices and prestimonies in general, of whatever kind
or denomination, are from the day of this decree extinguished
and abolished and shall never be reestablished in any form.
ARTICLE I. Beginning with the day of publication of the present
decree, there shall be but one mode of choosing bishops and parish
priests, namely that of election.
All elections shall be by ballot and shall be decided by the absolute
majority of the votes.
The election of bishops shall take place according to the forms
and by the electoral body designated in the decree of December
22, 1789, for the election of members of the departmental assembly.
The election of a bishop can only take place or be undertaken
upon Sunday, in the principal church of the chief town of the
department, at the close of the parish mass, at which all the
electors are required to be present.
In order to be eligible to a bishopric, one must have fulfilled
for fifteen years at least the duties of the church ministry in
the diocese, as a parish priest, officiating minister, or curate,
or as superior, or as directing vicar of the seminary.
The new bishop may not apply to the pope for any form of confirmation,
but shall write to him, as to the visible head of the universal
Church, as a testimony to the unity of faith and communion maintained
Before the ceremony of consecration begins, the bishop elect shall
take a solemn oath, in the presence of the municipal officers,
of the people, and of the clergy, to guard with care the faithful
of his diocese who are confided to him, to be loyal to the nation,
the law, and the king, and to support with all his power the constitution
decreed by the National Assembly and accepted by the king.
The election of the parish priests shall take place according
to the forms and by the electors designated in the decree of December
22, 1789, for the election of members of the administrative assembly
of the district.
Bishoprics and cures shall be looked upon as vacant until those
elected to fill them shall have taken the oath above mentioned.
ARTICLE I. The ministers of religion, performing as they do the
first and most important functions of society and forced to live
continuously in the place where they discharge the offices to
which they have been called by the confidence of the people, shall
be supported by the nation.
Every bishop, priest, and officiating clergyman in a chapel of
ease shall be furnished with a suitable dwelling, on condition,
however, that the occupant shall make all the necessary current
repairs. This shall not affect at present, in any way, those parishes
where the priest now receives a money equivalent instead of his
dwelling. The departments shall, moreover, have cognizance of
suits arising in this connection, brought by the parishes and
by the priests. Salaries shall be assigned to each, as indicated
The bishop of Paris shall receive fifty thousand livres; the bishops
of the cities having a population of fifty thousand (p. 426) or
more, twenty thousand livres ; other bishops, twelve thousand
The salaries of the parish priests shall be as follows : in Paris,
six thousand livres; in cities having a population of fifty thousand
or over, four thousand livres; in those having a population of
less than fifty thousand and more than ten thousand, three thousand
livres; in cities and towns of which the population is below ten
thousand and more than three thousand, twenty-four hundred livres.
all other cities, towns, and villages where the parish shall have
a population between three thousand and twenty-five hundred, two
thousand livres; in those between twenty-five hundred and two
thousand, eighteen hundred livres; in those having a population
of less than two thousand, and more than one thousand, the salary
shall be fifteen hundred livres; in those having one thousand
inhabitants and under, twelve hundred livres.
The salaries in money of the ministers of religion shall be paid
every three months, in advance, by the treasurer of the district.
In view of the salary which is assured to them by the present
constitution, the bishops, parish priests, and curates shall perform
the episcopal and priestly functions gratis.
ARTICLE I. The law requiring the residence of ecclesiastics in
the districts under their charge shall be strictly observed. All
vested with an ecclesiastical office or function shall be subject
to this, without distinction or exception.
No bishop shall absent himself from his diocese more than two
weeks consecutively during the year, except in case of real necessity
and with the consent of the directory of the department in which
his see is situated.
In the same manner, the parish priests and the curates may not
absent themselves from the place of their duties beyond the term
fixed above, except for weighty reasons, and even in such cases
the priests must obtain the permission both of their bishop and
of the directory of their district, and the curates that of the
Bishops, parish priests, and curates may, as active citizens,
be present at the primary and electoral assemblies; they may be
chosen electors, or as deputies to the legislative body, or as
members of the general council of the communes or of the administrative
councils of their districts or departments.
Readings in European History 2 vols.
(Boston: Ginn, 1906), 2: 423-427