Rev. Henri de la Chapelle spoke last night in the parlor of Phillips Brooks House on "The Church and State in France." The lecture was the last of a series under the auspices of the St. Paul's Catholic Club on the present conditions of the French church.
The breaking of the Concordat of 1801, said Father de la Chapelle, was in itself an unspeakable act on the part of the government. The government declared that by breaking the Concordat the church and the state would be made independent of each other; but in reality the object of the breach was to enable the state to control the church and appropriate all its property to state uses. When the Pope protested against such action on the part of the state, an agreement was suggested by the latter that worship associations, composed of persons interested in the church, be instituted to govern it. But all priests and bishops were excluded by a technicality and to this exclusion no true Catholic would submit. This suggestion was against the most vital of French beliefs--that of freedom of conviction. The government was thus forced to propose another agreement, which it offered last January, to the effect that the buildings and property of the church might be used for religious purposes, but that the administration, incomes and revenues should all be managed by the government. The priests were expected to defray all the expenses of the property out of the meagre allowance granted them by the state. None of the priests would submit to this agreement, but stood by the Pope in his refusal to accept it. In consequence of this action all the church officials of France were expelled from their offices and the seminaries and church schools were closed.
The reason why France has submitted to such administration and interference by the government is merely that for the last century it has been in the bringing up and education of Frenchmen to submit to the government. The only hope for the future freedom of the church is that the priests will unite under the leadership of the Pope at the next election of government officials.