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Concordat of 1851

The Concordat of 1851 was an concordat between the Spanish government of Queen Isabella II and the Vatican. Although the concordat was signed on March 16, 1851, its terms were not implemented until 1855. The concordat remained in effect until it was repudiated by the Second Spanish Republic in 1931. Ten years later, the first three articles were reinstated by Generalissimo Francisco Franco's 1941 Convention with the Vatican. Eventually, a new concordat was signed in 1953.


According to the terms of this Concordat, the Roman Catholic religion was to continue, to the exclusion of every other, to be the only religion of the Spanish nation, and was to be maintained, so far as his Catholic majesty has the power, "in all the rights and prerogatives which it should enjoy according to the law of God and canonical sanction."[1]

The concordat changed the boundaries of dioceses, regulated the affairs of territories dependent on military orders, ecclesiastical jurisdiction, chapters, benefices. The right of presentation to certain of the latter was reserved to the pope; others were left to the queen.


Education in all the colleges, universities. etc. was mandated to conform to Catholic doctrine, and it was promised that the bishops, "whose duty it is to watch over the education of youth in regard to morals and faith," would meet no obstacle in the performance of that duty.

Rights of clergy and religious orders

The bishops, and the clergy under them, were to enjoy the same rights in all else that regards their functions, especially in what concerns the sacred office of ordination. The government agreed to assure the respect due them, and lend its aid, "notably in preventing the publication, introduction or circulation of immoral and harmful books."

Religious orders of men or women, who to contemplation add some work of charity or public utility, as education, care of the sick, missions, etc., were retained or re-established. The Spanish government agreed to pay the salaries of bishops, priests. In addition, it agreed to provide an income to churches and seminaries.

Church property

The right of the church to own and acquire new property was recognized. As to property of which it had been previously despoiled, whatever property had not been alienated was to be restored; but whatever the state had taken may be sold, and the price invested in government bonds, for the benefit of the rightful owner. The Holy See renounced its right to property already alienated. With regard to unforeseen points, the concordat referenced the canons and the discipline of the Catholic Church.


  • “Concordat”, by Gaston De Bourge [a French lawyer and critic of secularism], Dictionnaire de l’économie politique, 1852, translated and reprinted in Lalor, John J., ed, Cyclopædia of Political Science, Political Economy, and the Political History of the United States by the Best American and European Writers, (New York: Maynard, Merrill, and Co., 1899. First published: 1881.) [2]


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