Simón Apablaza C.
The question how the papacy was affected by Napoleon’s conquest can be answeredin two ways. The first is the direct influence that it had on the papacy and the Churchduring the time he was the first consul of France. The second is, how the Papacy wasaffected from then on, in other words, how the reign of Napoleon influenced the papacyfor the years to come. In this paper, although we will deal only with the first question,there are some comments referring to the second.We start by saying that Napoleon was brought up as a Catholic, he attended massevery day and vespers, as well as bimonthly communion, monthly confession andcatechism every Sunday. In 1984 he was transferred to a military school in Paris wherehis religious formation revolved far too much around the external practices imposed bythe school discipline, as well as reflecting the 18
century spirit. He possessed arapacious mind finding solace in books, such as ancient classics, but especially in hiscontemporaries Rousseau, Voltaire, Montesquieu, Mably, and Reynald. As a result, therationalism of the Enlightenment penetrated his spirit and displaced his weakly rootedChristian beliefs. In other words, the crisis that caused Napoleon’s detachment from theChurch was intellectual rather than moral. Later he sided with the French revolution.The fact that Napoleon abandoned the faith, did not mean that he could not use it.As soon as he ascended to power as first Consul, he showed himself as someone intent in promoting politics that were less restrictive towards the Church. The people reacted benevolently. He realized that being in favour of the Church served well in wining popularity for himself and contributed to making his rule more acceptable for the people,a rule that became day by day more authoritarian.He looked for reconciliation with the Church. He did it, not guided by religiousmotives but guided exclusively by political interest (see Doc 4.5. pag. 45). He knew thatrural France wanted to remain Catholic. It was better to use, for his own benefit, theinfluence of the priests, than to fight it. We have to remember that Napoleon was anenlightened despot in the 18
century style, influenced by the philosophers of that period.He did not believe Catholicism as the one true religion but believed that all religions had1