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Chatel, Ferdinand Toussaint


French priest, founder of the Église catholique française; b. Gannat (Allier), Jan. 9, 1795; d. Paris, Feb. 13, 1857. Chatel, who came from a poor family, was ordained (1818) after seminary training under the Sulpicians. He served three years in parish work and then acted as a military chaplain until 1830. In that year he was reprimanded by the archbishop of Paris for unorthodox opinions expressed in periodical articles. In 1831 in Paris Chatel started his own sect, l'Église catholique française (French Catholic Church), which gained a limited following for a few years. It was redolent of deism and rationalism and abolished auricular confession, fasting, and clerical celibacy and substituted the vernacular for Latin in the liturgy. Chatel assumed the title "primate of the Gauls" after going through a ceremony of episcopal consecration performed by Bernard Fabré-Palaprat, who falsely claimed to be a bishop. Before long Abbé Auzou, one of the members, parted company with Chatel and took most of the members of the cult with him. Later differences led to further splinterings. The group's political radicalism caused the police to close the temple in Paris (1842). Chatel was imprisoned for a time and then fled to Belgium, but by 1843 he was back in Paris, where he agitated for the emancipation of women, divorce, and socialism. By the time of his death, unreconciled with the Church, Chatel was impoverished and almost alone.

Bibliography: e. mangenot, Dictionnaire de théologie catholique, ed., a. vacant et al. (Paris 190350) 2.2:233950. r. limouzin-lamothe, Dictionnaire de biographie française (Paris 1929) 8:784785.

[l. p. mahoney]

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