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The Civil Constitution of the Clergy, passed on 12 July 1790, turned the remaining clergy into employees of the state. This established an election system for parish priests and bishops and set a pay rate for the clergy. Many Catholics objected to the election system because it effectively denied the authority of the Pope in Rome over the French Church. In October a group of 30 bishops wrote a declaration saying they could not accept that law, and this protest also fueled civilian opposition against that law. Eventually, in November 1790, the National Assembly began to require an oath of loyalty to the Civil Constitution from all the members of the clergy. This led to a schism between those clergy who swore the required oath and accepted the new arrangement and those who remained loyal to the Pope. Priests swearing the oath were indicated as ‘constitutional’, those not taking the oath as ‘non-juring’ or ‘refractory’ clergy.

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