Church and State in the Modern Age: A Documentary History

By J. F. MacLear | Go to book overview

A. Christians owe to the princes who govern them, and we owe in particular to Napoleon I, our Emperor, love, respect, obedience, fidelity, military service and the tributes laid for the preservation and defense of the Empire and of his throne; we also owe to him fervent prayers for his safety and the spiritual and temporal prosperity of the state.

Q. Why are we bound to all these duties towards our Emperor?

A. First of all, because God, who creates empires and distributes them according to His will, in loading our Emperor with gifts, both in peace and in war, has established him as our sovereign and has made him the minister of His power and His image upon the earth. To honor and to serve our Emperor is then to honor and to serve God himself. Secondly, because our Lord Jesus Christ by his doctrine as well as by His example, has Himself taught us what we owe to our sovereign: He was born the subject of Caesar Augustus; He paid the prescribed impost; and just as He ordered to render to God that which belongs to God, so he ordered to render to Caesar that which belongs to Caesar.

Q. Are there not particular reasons which ought to attach us more strongly to Napoleon I, our Emperor?

A. Yes; for it is he whom God has raised up under difficult circumstances to reestablish the public worship of the holy religion of our fathers and to be the protector of it. He has restored and preserved public order by his profound and active wisdom; he defends the state by his powerful arm; he has become the anointed of the Lord through the consecration which he received from the sovereign pontiff, head of the Universal Church.

Q. What ought to be thought of those who may be lacking in their duty towards our Emperor?

A. According to the Apostle Saint Paul, they would be resisting the order established by God himself and would render themselves worthy of eternal damnation.

Q. Will the duties which are required of us towards our Emperor be equally binding with respect to his lawful successors in the order established by the constitutions of the Empire?

A. Yes, without doubt; for we read in the Holy Scriptures, that God, Lord of heaven and earth, by an order of His supreme will and through His providence, gives empires not only to one person in particular, but also to his family.

Source: Frank M. Anderson (ed.), The Constitutions and Other Select Documents Illustrative of the History of France 1789-1901 ( Minneapolis, 1904), pp. 312-314. French text in André Latreille , Le catéchisme impérial de 1806 ( Paris, 1935), pp. 80-81.


SUGGESTIONS FOR BACKGROUND AND REFERENCE

A. Latreille, Le catéchisme impérial de 1806 ( Paris, 1935). References for Document 38.

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