Fear > The Civil Constitution of the Clergy
> A Summary of what happened...
Throughout history, the Church had owned 6% of the National lands. Louis XVI and Necker decided to remove the Church from society and give the Church Lands to the people. By doing this, the people would be happier. The changes in the Church which followed the seizure of its possessions is a perfect example of the feeling of the National Assembly.
The Bishops argued that the legislation affected the church so profoundly, in spiritual as well as temporal matters, that individual clerics could not be expected to give their consent until the whole church had considered it. In practice, this meant waiting for papal approval.
Departments were very anxious to fill empty clerical posts, and the first sales of church lands under the provisions of the law nationalizing chuch property on November 2, 1789, were due to begin in the autumn. On November 27, 1790, the deputies passed a decree saying that an oath of loyalty to the Civil Constitution must be taken by all bishops, parish priests, and their assistants. Those who refused to take it were forced to leave their posts. On the 26 of December, King Louis signed that decree. This was a decision he would regret until the end of his life.
The members of the assembly thought that all prelates would eventually swear the oath. They were wrong. Only eight did. Pope Pius VI was against the oath, which did not become known to the public until April of 1791.
The relations between the jurors and the non-jurors became increasingly bitter as the hope that the church would sanctify and back the Revolution faded farther and farther away, just like to the hopes for national unity: the forces of the reaction and the counter-revolution could now argue that they fought to defend the church and religion from attack by the Revolutionaries.