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Le nouvel État fédéral et la paix confessionnelle

he new Constitution was adopted in 1848 and it encouraged the development of trade and industries. Due to the influence of the progressive Protestants, a certain number of rights and freedoms, in particular the freedom of Christian worship throughout the country was guaranteed. It must be stressed that hitherto in certain Cantons, Catholics and Protestants had not enjoyed the same rights. This freedom was extended to other religious groups in 1866 so as to also include Jews. As in rest of Europe, Jews suffered persecution in Switzerland and often had limited rights. In the 1860’s, they finally acquired the rights to vote and to freely choose their profession and place of residence. The Cantons were assigned the responsibility of managing Church - State relations by the Confederation. Switzerland is currently made up of 26 cantons (6 of which are half-Cantons) which are all autonomous to a large extent. It is for this reason that religious-related legislation varies from one Canton to the other.

During the constitutional review of 1874, emphasis was placed on modernising and secularising the State and its agencies. The Roman Catholics felt threatened given a wave of new laws promoting secularism and restrictions almost exclusively targeted at their Church. In the face of this "Kulturkampf" [Church - State struggle on basic rules of society] directed against their institutions, they decided to form a sort of "underground", setting up purely Catholic establishments such as associations, schools, media bodies, etc. During this period, several Catholic groups were critical of the Roman Catholic Church and decided to split and form the Christian Catholic Church (which also existed in other countries). This Roman Catholic "underground" did not break up until during the first half of the 20th century due to even higher numbers of Catholics joining federal institutions. In 1894 for example, Catholics achieved political eminence at the Federal level by forming the Catholic People’s Party (which became the Christian Democratic Party in 1970).

D 8 octobre 2012    AJoëlle Sanchez

CNRS Unistra Dres Gsrl

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