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Church, Society, and Religious Change in France, 1580-1730$
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Joseph Bergin

Print publication date: 2009

Print ISBN-13: 9780300150988

Published to Yale Scholarship Online: October 2013

DOI: 10.12987/yale/9780300150988.001.0001

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Remaking the Secular Clergy

Remaking the Secular Clergy

(p.183) Chapter 8 Remaking the Secular Clergy
Church, Society, and Religious Change in France, 1580-1730

Joseph Bergin

Yale University Press

This chapter discusses the problems that arise in the effort to transform the intricate layering of France's secular clergy, which resulted partly from their differing social backgrounds and, partly, from the complex and essentially unchanged benefice system in which they were anchored. Yet a generation of bishops increasingly viewed their objective of a well-regulated diocese in terms of a disciplined, resident and conscientious lower clergy, of whom the parish priests were to be the linchpin. However, such a specific objective could not be pursued on its own, as if the parish clergy were merely the servants and appointees of the bishops, nor could it be divorced from the problem of what to do with lower ranks of the populous secular clergy as a whole. Consequently, there was no miraculous “one-size-fits-all” remedy that could single-handedly transform the lower clergy, actual or future, so that a combination of measures, both old and new, had to be tried.

Keywords:   social backgrounds, France's secular clergy, benefice system, well-regulated diocese, parish priests, one-size-fits-all remedy

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