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Napoleon

2.43 What were the consequences of the French Revolution?

The response of the Church

The French Revolution started in 1789, and was anti-clerical and very violent. The revolutionaries wanted to erase every trace of Christianity and therefore executed thousands of Catholics and confiscated Church property.

Later, Napoleon Bonaparte conquered Rome and the Papal States. In 1801 Pope Pius VII signed a treaty with Napoleon. This was followed by a revival of the Church in France, although the Church was still very limited in her freedom. After Napoleon was defeated in 1815, the Holy See regained control over most of the Papal States.

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The French Revolution led to the oppression of the Church. Popes and bishops took defensive stances. Religious life soon bloomed again.

This is what the Popes say

The French Revolution [was] an attempt to establish the rule of reason and freedom as a political reality... The Europe of the Enlightenment looked on with fascination at these events, but then, as they developed, had cause to reflect anew on reason and freedom. [Pope Benedict XVI, Spe Salvi, 19]