United in their opposition to Separation, the Vatican and the French clergy were dramatically divided over the associations cultuelles. On 10 August 1906 the sombre encyclical, Gravissimo ofnicii solemnly ordered Catholics not to form these associations. The French Church was thereby stripped of the only embodiment that the State would recognise. This act of legal suicide not only obliged the Church to sacrifice nearly half a million francs’ worth of property (see p. 272, n.32); but it also deprived it of the means of rebuilding new material resources on a basis of legal security. It was only when the prohibition was lifted much later, in 1924, that the French Church was able to regularise its position vis-à-vis the law, and undertake new building programmes without risk of legal complication. The property lost in 1906, however, was beyond recovery. It was to take half a century of dreary appeals and collections — and less dreary bazaars and tombolas — to replace the resources that had been so spectacularly discarded.
KeywordsPrivate Capacity Civil Court Factual Circumstance Parish Church Legal Security
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