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France celebrates the centenary of the separation of the Churches and the State

04/01/2006: France

Coinciding with the fortieth anniversary of the closure of the Second Vatican Council, on the 12th December 2005 the centenary of the law of separation of the Church and the State was celebrated in France. It has been a century since the Republic abruptly emancipated itself from the influence of Christianity after various centuries of incidents in which the Churches and the State were involved.
For the Marists, this event has a particular significance because before celebrating this centenary, various Provinces and countries have also celebrated the centenary of the start of Marist works in their lands as a consequence of the presence of French Marist Brothers who had to leave their country due to the events in their country that concluded with the promulgation of this law.

The years 1901 – 1904, in France, are only a phase of the open war between the “public school” or “public teaching” and the “congregational or free teaching”, a conflict that started in 1880. The expression “free teaching” started in France between 1800 and 1830 with the birth in France of about twenty religious congregations of lay brothers, consecrated exclusively to schools. At the same time as the male congregations, hundreds of female congregations started with the same objective in many towns and cities through the initiative of parish priests, in such a way that “free teaching” and “congregational teaching” were the expression of the same reality, described also by the expressions “fight against free teaching” and “fight against the teaching congregations”.

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