concordat (kənkôrˈdăt) [key], formal agreement, specifically between the pope, in his spiritual capacity, and the temporal authority of a state. Its juridical status is now generally accepted as being a contract between church and state and as such it is a treaty governed by international laws. The term concordat has also been applied to other agreements; thus, in the Swiss Confederation before 1848 federal decisions were called concordats. The fundamental antithesis between church and state found particularly violent expression in the quarrels over investiture during the Middle Ages and gave rise to the practice of concluding concordats. The earliest agreement to be called a concordat (see Worms, Concordat of, 1122) was a dual proclamation rather than a bilateral act. The Concordat of 1516 between Pope Leo X and King Francis I of France, which abolished the Pragmatic Sanction of Bourges (see pragmatic sanction), gave the king the right to nominate bishops, abbots, and priors but reserved to the pope the right of confirmation and special rights of appointment. That right was revoked at the States-General of Orléans in 1561, and the struggle between Gallicanism and ultramontanism was resumed, to last until the French Revolution. The Concordat of 1801, most famous of all concordats, regulated the status of the church in France for a century. In the 19th and 20th cent. numerous concordats were concluded. The appointment of bishops still remained an important issue, but the advance of secularism gave increasing importance to the status of religious education, monastic orders, and church property and to the seemingly conflicting loyalties of Roman Catholics to the state and to the church. In the Catholic countries of Latin America the conflicts and adjustments between church and state gave rise to a number of concordats. The concordat of 1855 with Austria gave vast rights to the church, but it was abrogated by Austria upon the proclamation of papal infallibility. The Kulturkampf between Otto von Bismarck and the papacy ended (1887) with a modus vivendi, which was a tentative agreement and not called a concordat. The status of the papacy in Italy was regulated in 1929 by the Lateran Treaty. The threat of National Socialism (Nazism) to the Roman Catholic Church prompted the concordat of 1933 with Adolf Hitler, who violated it from the start. In Spain, where Francisco Franco had abrogated the concordat of 1931, a provisional agreement with the Vatican over the appointment of bishops was reached in 1941. After World War II a number of concordats (notably that with Poland) were abrogated by Communist regimes. A new concordat with Spain was signed in 1953.
The Columbia Electronic Encyclopedia, 6th ed. Copyright © 2012, Columbia University Press. All rights reserved.
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