The Separatist Minority
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It is one of the great paradoxes of the period that Combes’s most durable legacy to France should be the Separation of Church and State.1 There are still many historians who believe that Combes wanted the Separation. Combes himself sustained this interpretation in his memoirs, posthumously published in 1956;2 and there is no doubt that in 1904 Combes made an outward show of favouring Separation, even to the point of putting forward a Separation bill in the autumn of that year. The evidence of both his papers and his acquaintances, however, makes it clear that Combes initially used the threat of Separation as a stick to intimidate the Vatican. He wished to bully Rome into accepting his own rigorous interpretation of the State’s rights under the Concordat, especially in the matter of episcopal appointments.
KeywordsReligious Order Draft Bill Great Paradox Rigorous Interpretation Separation Issue
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