Saturday 9 February 2013

hey mister talleyrand or church and state

An obscure and archaic concordat (the name for a treaty drawn up between an ecclesiastic and secular state) between the Kingdom of Bavaria (and its successor, Freistaat Bayern) and the Holy See was quietly renewed at the beginning of the year, pledging public funds for the up-keep of churches, parochial schools and the salaries of bishops, who were in a sense displaced. Prior to the French Revolution and the subsequent Napoleonic Wars, the kingdoms of Germany, within the Holy and Roman Empire of the Germans, were quite unlike their neighbouring domains, never united and made up of a patchwork of territories with all manner of varying privileges, rights, freedoms, and thrall, with many city states answerable to no one but the emperor and with powerful and influential networks.
A parallel clerical hierarchy was its own second state wielding a different influence but also with their own wealth and land-holdings. On-going political pressure from the government of France, culminating in revolution and conquering marches, for unity and orderliness—plus a princeling’s ransom that saved some toy kingdoms from being annexed, resulted in alliances forming in Prussia and land-grabs on the part of defeated and diminished states that prompted them towards mediatisation, secularization of church property.
Bavaria alone acquired some 14 000 square kilometers of land (after having loss some 10 000 sq km in the wars), plus the attending population and revenues from bishoprics, monasteries, abbeys, and convents (in addition to a few autonomous enclaves, principalities and locales with imperial immediacy). The decision to absorb church lands was one of the last of the Empire, but the Vatican brokered a deal with Bavaria in 1817 provides that the government maintains former church property, which is still in effect.
The some eleven million euro annually that Bayern spends is quite a bargain, though some tax-payers might object, for all the gains, and the renewal of agreement did not change this year in kind—only pooling funds for distribution, so that the leaders of individual diocese are not on state payroll. While churches and institutions are cared for (other Europe countries have also negotiated their own care-taker agreements with the Holy See with differing provisions), still it makes for some awkward and immemorial bureaucracy where holy sites fall under the sometimes (yet) competing jurisdictions of government, religion and the league of historical and cultural preservation.