Petite Église Et Anticoncordataires
The Anti-Concordat Little Church

The French Revolution dispossessed the Roman Catholic Church: some titular bishops were lost and other constitutional bishops and priests were arising. The Church was split between constitutional (jurors) and refractory (non-jurors) priests that were tolerated as the revolution faded. The Concordat of 1801 between Napoleon and Pope Pius VII, restablishing Roman Catholicism as the Church of the great majority, but the State in large-scale control, still made many unhappy especially among some prelates of the pre-revolutionary Gallicans French Catholic Church regime newly and officially dispossessed of their episcopal seats (136 were reduced to 60), with unhappiness in the peasant population as traditions were affected by fewer official and Christian-based holidays, changed marriage laws, and new boundaries of parishes, etc.. Dissident groups arose: Stevenistes (Belgium), Floured (Aveyron), Blanchardistes (Calvados) Filochois (Indre-Et-Loire), Illuminated (Lot-Et-Garonne), Fasnieristes (Manche), Clementine (Lower Seine), Pure (Montpellier) and the Little Church (Lyon). The new concordat concluded in 1817 by the government of the Restoration didn't change matters back.
 The Little Church (Lyon) was the main outcome of the schism. Two former bishops, Coucy (La Rochelle) and Themines (Blois), who had a key role in the organization of schism, did not consecrate bishops. Themines was also reconciled in extremis in 1829. The Little Church, thus deprived of clergy, as its priests died or were subjected to official Catholicism, continued thanks to the tenacity of a few families (and the Texier in Poitou) offering religious education and worship without celebrating Mass. It persisted in the Lyon region and in the dioceses of Poitiers, La Rochelle, Luzon. In 1870, efforts at reconciliation with the Vatican Council by two delegates from Lyon, Jacques and Marius Berliet Duc, meeting the Archbishop of Malines (for Stevenistes) and Bishop Luzon didn't bear fruit.
The denunciation of the Concordat (1905) establishing French State secularism changed nothing (and in fact the French state continued to fund four official bodies into the 20th century from general taxation: Roman Catholicism, Calvinism, Lutheranism, and Judaism - all religious buildings were property of the state and local governments, to be used by the relevant religious organisation at no expense when for worship purposes). Today, the Little Church exists as some groupings in the Lyon region in western France.


Adrian Worsfold (28 June 2014)

Pluralist - Liberal and Thoughtful