Definition: An agreement between the Catholic Church and a particular country regarding matters that concern both the Church and the State. The parties to a concordat are the Pope and the supreme magistrate of the State. Usually, concordats have been entered into with governments that do not have a representative form of government. The Catholic Church and Hitler entered into a concordat in 1933 which provided hundreds of millions of dollars to the Church through a national church tax in exchange for the Church’s support of the Nazi regime. Another concordat (1929 – the Lateran Treaty) between Pope Pius XI and Mussolini provided for 1.75 billion lire in exchange for the Church’s promise that Catholics withdraw from participation in politics. This concordat was superceded in 1985, when Italy and the Catholic Church signed a new concordat which guarantees religious freedom for non-Catholics. An 1862 concordat with Ecuador forbid any religion other than Catholicism. A year later, Colombia enacted a law providing for freedom of religion. In response, Pope Pius IX wrote the encyclical Incredibili Afflicamur which asserted his right to rescind the laws of Colombia. In 1948 the Church entered into a concordat with Colombia which led to the persecution of the Protestant “sects” and the closure of their schools.
Discussion: Historically, concordats have infringed upon the citizen’s freedom of religion and conscience. They have also led to the support of repressive and violent regimes. It is not the business of the church of Jesus Christ to achieve spiritual ends through such ungodly means (2 Cor. 10:2-4, Mk. 12:17). The Catholic Church has a history of violent persecution of Christians, such as the Spanish Inquisition, through the coercive power of the State.
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