No. 280.
Mr. Walker to Mr. Bayard.

No. 95.]

Sir: As a subject which may be of interest to the State Department and important to some of our citizens coming to this country to reside, I have the honor to inclose herewith a copy in Spanish of the “Concordat” recently celebrated between the Holy See of Home and the Colombian Government, with a careful translation. In making this translation I regretted that I did not have access to the original Latin text in which it was drawn up and signed, but had to content myself with the Spanish translation, which in some of the articles is vague and ambiguous. The first clause of the seventeenth article is so much so that in my translation I was forced to be paraphrastic rather than literal.

As a part of the same subject I herewith transmit a copy with translation of law 30, passed by the legislative council on the 25th of February last, which virtually annuls all civil marriages celebrated at any time in the past, unless the ceremony was also performed canonically. The annulment of the marriage, however, does not illegitimatize the children of such marriage.

I am, sir, etc.,

Jno. G. Walker.
[Inclosure 1 in No. 95.—Translation.]

Concordat entered into between Pope Leo XIII and the Republic of Colombia.

[Concluded December 31, 1887. Ratified by the legislative council of Colombia February 24, 1888.]

In the name of the most holy and indivisible Trinity, the supreme pontiff, Leo XIII, and the most excellent Rafael Nuñez, President of the Republic of Colombia, by their respective representatives, to wit, on the part of his holiness, the most eminent Monsignore Mariana Rampolla del Tindaro, cardinal presbyter of the most holy church of St. Cecelia and papal secretary of state; and on the part of the Republic, his excellency Joaquin Velez, envoy extraordinary and minister plenipotentiary near the Holy See, who, after a mutual exchange of credentials, have concluded the following convention:

Art. 1.
The Catholic, Roman, Apostolic is the religion of Colombia, the public authorities of which shall recognize it as an essential element of social order, and they [Page 417] bind themselves to protect it in all its rights and privileges, and to cause it and its ministers to be respected.
Art. 2.
The Catholic Church shall be free and independent of the civil authority, and shall freely exercise all its spiritual authority and jurisdiction, conforming in its administrative government solely to its own laws.
Art. 3.
Canonical legislation shall be free of the civil, and shall form no part of the latter, but will be respected by the latter.
Art. 4.
The church, represented by its hierarchical authorities, is recognized by the state as a true and legitimate entity, with capacity to exercise and enjoy all rights pertaining to such.
Art. 5.
The church has the right of acquiring, possessing, and administering real and personal property, in accordance to general laws, and its lands and establishments shall be no less inviolable than those of the citizens of the Republic.
Art. 6.
Ecclesiastical property may be taxed in the same manner and to the same extent as the property of private individuals, except edifices for public worship, theological seminaries, and the residences of the clergy, which are exempt from all taxation, occupation, or appropriation to other uses.
Art. 7.
The secular and regular clergy shall not be required to perform public duties incompatible with their ministry and profession, and at all times shall be exempt from military service.
Art. 8.
The Government shall enact such laws as will protect the sacerdotal dignity whenever, for any cause, a minister of the church may figure in criminal trials.
Art. 9.
Diocesan bishops and parish priests may claim from the faithful the emoluments and ecclesiastical fees canonically and equitably established, either by the immemorial custom of the diocese or by the rules of religious services; and in order that such acts and obligations may produce civil effects, and that the temporal authority may lend its support, the bishops shall proceed in accord with the Government.
Art. 10.
Competent ecclesiastical authority has the right in Colombia to establish religious orders of both sexes, to be governed by suitable constitutions. But in order to secure the enjoyment of the rights of a lawful corporation and the protection of the laws, they must present to the civil authorities the canonical authorization issued by their ecclesiastical superior.
Art. 11.
The Holy See will lend its support and co-operation to the Government for the establishment in Colombia of religious institutions, giving preference to those for charitable purposes, for missions, for the education of youth, and for general education, and to other works of public utility and beneficence.
Art. 12.
Public education and instruction in universities, colleges, schools, and in other centers of instruction shall be organized and directed in conformity with the dogmas and moral teachings of the Catholic Church.
Art. 13.
Consequently, in such centers of instruction the respective diocesan bishops, either by themselves or by special delegation, shall exercise the right, in whatever concerns religion and morals, to inspect and revise the text-books in use in the same.
The archbishop of Bogotá shall prescribe the text-books relating to religion and morals to be used in the universities; and to insure uniformity of teaching on those subjects, said prelate, in connection with other bishops, shall choose the text-books for the other schools of official instruction.
The Government shall see that no lectures are delivered on literary, scientific, or general subjects in any branch of learning that inculcate ideas contrary to Catholic dogmas or calculated to lessen the respect due to the church.
Art. 14.
If, in spite of the orders and precautions of the Government, the moral and religious teaching (in universities, colleges, etc.) shall not conform to Catholic doctrines, the respective diocesans may withdraw from the offending professors and masters the privilege of teaching in such branches.
Art. 15.
The Holy See has the right to fill vacancies in the archbishoprics and bishoprics, but the holy father, as an evidence of special deference and to the end of preserving perfect harmony between the church and the state, agrees that infilling such vacancies the previous consent of the President shall be obtained. To that end, when such vacancies occur, the President may recommend directly to the Holy See such ecclesiastics, as in his judgment unite in themselves the gifts and qualifications necessary for the episcopal dignity; and the Holy See, on its part, before making the appointment, shall always communicate the names of the candidates for promotion in order to ascertain whether or not the President considers the candidates civilly or politically disqualified for such positions. Vacancies in the bishoprics to be filled as soon as possible, and in no case to remain unfilled for more than six months.
Art. 16.
The Holy See may erect new dioceses, or change the limits of those existing whenever it is thought opportune and useful for the better care of souls, previously consulting the Government and admitting such suggestions as may be reasonable and just.
Art. 17.
All persons professing the Catholic religion, desirous of contracting marriage, should have the ceremony performed according to the rites of the church.
The civil effects of marriage, in respect to the persons and property of the contracting parties and their descendants, can only be secured when the marriage is performed in accordance with the prescriptions of the Council of Trent. This celebration shall be witnessed by the functionary who may be designated by law for the sole purpose of verifying the entry of the marriage in the civil registry. But in cases of marriage in articulo mortis, when this formality might be difficult of observance, it may be dispensed with, and other proof substituted.
It being the business of the contracting parties to secure the intervention of the civil functionary for the registry, the duty of the clergyman is limited to an admonition as to the requirements of the civil law.
Art. 18.
In order to give marriages celebrated at whatever period, according to the prescriptions of the Council of Trent, civil effect, suppletory evidence of ecclesiastical origin will be given preference.
Art. 19.
Matrimonial causes affecting the married relation, cohabitation, and the validity of espousals pertain exclusively to the ecclesiastical authority, the civil consequences of marriage to the temporal.
Art. 20.
The armies of the Republic shall enjoy the indulgences known as castrenses, to be regulated by the holy father in a separate act.
Art. 21.
Following the divine offices there shall be offered up in all the churches of the Republic the following prayers: Domine salvam fac Bempublicam; Domine salvum fac Præsidem ejus et supremas ejus auetoritates.
Art. 22.
The government of the Republic recognizes in perpetuity as a consolidated debt the value of the redeemed annuities (censos) now in the treasury, and of the estates belonging to the church fraternities, charitable foundations, chapels, establishments for instruction and benevolence erected by the church, which at any time may have been inscribed in the public debt of the nation. This recognized debt is to bear interest without diminution at the annual rate of 4½ per centum payable every six months.
Art. 23.
The income arising from sequestrated benefices and tithings pertaining to charitable institutions, chapels, monasteries, and other separate foundations is recognized and shall be paid to those who have the right to receive them, or to their legal representatives. This payment shall be made without diminution as is provided for in the last preceding article, to commence with year 1888. In case any such bodies have become extinct, the amounts due them by a previous arrangement with the Government shall be applied to pious and charitable objects without in any case contravening the intention of the founders.
Art. 24.
In view of the present condition of the national treasury of Colombia and the benefit derived by the church from the observance of this convention, the Holy See makes the following relinquishments:
(a) The value of the principal of the sequestered property belonging to the aforesaid extinct convents and religious bodies of both sexes, not included in the foregoing articles, and which has not in any manner been recognized, (b) Whatever is due to such extinct organizations for rents or interest already accrued, or in whatever manner resulting, from said sequestration previous to the 31st of December, 1887.
Art. 25.
In consideration of the foregoing favor the Government of Colombia agrees to secure, in perpetuity, an annual net sum, hereby fixed at one hundred thousand Colombian dollars, to be increased when the said treasury is in a better condition, said payments to be applied to the uses of the dioceses, chapters, seminaries, missions, and such other civilizing works of the church, and in such manner as may be agreed upon between the high contracting parties.
Art. 26.
The surviving members of the extinct religious communities shall continue in the enjoyment, for their maintenance and other necessities, of such revenues as may have belonged to them by virtue of previous laws and decrees.
Art. 27.
In like manner shall be paid the rents and incomes set aside by anterior laws and decrees for the support of public worship in churches, chapels, and other religious places not included in article 22. If concerning this point there should be doubt or difficulty, the Government shall communicate with the competent ecclesiastical authorities, to the end that a good understanding may be arrived at.
Art. 28.
The Government shall return to religious bodies such of their sequestrated property as has no distinct destination; but if the owner does not come forward, or if he fills no ecclesiastical office, it may be sold and the proceeds applied to pious and benevolent objects, according to the most pressing needs of each diocese, the proceeding in such cases to be in accord with the ecclesiastical authorities.
Art. 29.
The Holy See, in order to secure public tranquillity, declares, for its part, that persons who purchased ecclesiastical property during the past changes in Colombia, or who have redeemed annuities (censos) in the national treasury, according to the provisions of the civil law at the time in force, shall not be disturbed in any manner by the ecclesiastical authorities, a favor extended not only to those who performed [Page 419] the acts, but to those who, in the exercise of whatsoever functions, may have taken part in the same, in such manner that the first purchasers, as well as their legal successors and those who have redeemed annuities (censos), shall enjoy in peace and security said property, its products and emoluments, stipulating, however, that the Republic shall not in future repeat similar acts of seizure.
Art. 30.
The Government of the Republic shall arrange with the respective diocesan bishops all that relates to cemeteries, reconciling the exigencies of their civil and sanitary character with the veneration due the sacredness of such places and with ecclesiastical prescriptions. In case of misunderstandings on such subjects, they will be arranged between the Holy See and the Government.
Art. 31.
Agreements between the Holy See and the Government of Colombia for fostering Catholic missions among barbarous tribes shall not require the after approval of Congress.’
Art. 32.
The present convention repeals and renders null and void all laws, orders, and decrees, in whatsoever mode or period they were promulgated, in such parts as may contradict or are inconsistent with this convention, which shall remain the permanent law of the State.
Art. 33.
The ratification of this convention shall take place within six months from the date of its signature, or sooner, if possible.

In faith whereof the said plenipotentiaries sign and seal this convention.

  • M. Cardinal Rampolla.
  • Joaquin F. Vélez.

Considering (1) that in the celebration of the foregoing convention the Government has acted within the powers conferred upon it by article 56 of the fundamental law of the Republic.

(2) That by this agreement, which satisfactorily and consistently settles all pending questions between the church and the State in conformity with the new national regime, and at the same time responds to imperious necessity and public well-being, which demanded the definition of the mutual relations between the civil and the ecclesiastical powers; and

(3) That its stipulations conform strictly to the provisions of articles 38, 41, 47, 53, 54, and 55 of the constitution.

It is decreed—

  • Art. I. That the foregoing convention is hereby approved and incorporated in the present law.
  • Art. II. The amount to be paid out of the treasury of the Republic to fulfill its obligations thereby created is hereby appropriated, and will be included in the budget of the present fiscal period.

Given at Bogotá this 24th day of February, 1888.

Carlos Calderon. R.,

Jose Maria Rubio. F.,

Roberto de Narvaez,

Manuel Brigaro,

Executive Government,
Bogotá, February 27, 1888.

Let it be published and executed.

[l. s.]
Rafael Nuñez.

Vicente Restrepo,
Minister of Foreign Affairs.
[Inclosure 2 in No. 95—Translation—Extract from law 30, of 1888.]
  • Art. 34. A marriage, contracted in”conformity with the rites of the Catholic religion, annuls ipso jure a purely civil marriage, previously entered into with an other person.
  • Art. 35. For purely civil effects, the law recognizes the legitimacy of the children, conceived previously to the annulment of the civil marriage, in accordance with the provisions of the last preceding article.
  • Art. 36. The man who, after having contracted a civil marriage, afterwards marries another worn an, according to the rites of the Catholic Church, is required to provide subsistence to the woman and his children by her until she marries canonically.