Pope Pius VI
Pius VI condemned the French Revolution and the suppression of the Gallican Church that resulted from it. French troops commanded by Napoleon Bonaparte defeated the papal troops and occupied the Papal States in 1796. In 1798, upon his refusal to renounce his temporal power, Pius was taken prisoner and transported to France. He died one year later in Valence. His reign of over two decades is the fourth-longest in papal history.
- [We condemn those principles whose] necessary effect [is] to destroy the Catholic religion, and with it, the obedience due to kings. It is with this end in view that they establish, as a right of man in society, this absolute liberty, which not only assures the right of not being disturbed in regard to his religious opinions, but which also grants that license of thought, of writing and even shamelessly publishing on the subject of religion whatever the most unruly imagination might suggest. This monstrous right nevertheless appears to the Assembly to result from the equality and liberty which are natural to all men. But what could there be more outrageous than to establish among men this equality and this unbridled liberty which will snuff out reason, the most precious gift that nature has given to man, and the only one which distinguishes him from the animals?
- Quod aliquantum (10 March 1791), quoted in André Latreille and Joseph E. Cunneen, 'The Catholic Church and the Secular State: The Church and the Secularization of Modern Societies', CrossCurrents Vol. 13, No. 2 (Spring 1963), pp. 220–221
- It is nature herself, therefore, which (decrees) that the usage which each must make of his reason should consist essentially in recognizing his sovereign author. ... In order to make this phantom of unlimited freedom vanish from the eyes of healthy reason, is it not enough to say that this system was that of the Vaudois and the Beguars?
- Quod aliquantum (10 March 1791), quoted in André Latreille and Joseph E. Cunneen, 'The Catholic Church and the Secular State: The Church and the Secularization of Modern Societies', CrossCurrents Vol. 13, No. 2 (Spring 1963), p. 221
- We call upon you to witness, however, in the name of the Lord, beloved sons, Catholics who in the kingdom of the Gauls are united, being mindful of your religion and the faith of your fathers, we counsel you from the innermost feelings of our heart lest you secede from it, inasmuch as it is the one and the true religion, which bestows eternal life and protects citizens, even societies, and makes them prosperous. Take special care lest you proffer ears to the insidious voices of this secular sect, whose voices furnish death, and avoid in this way all usurpers whether they are called archbishops, bishops or parish priests, so that there is nothing in common between you and them, especially in divine matters...in one word, cling to us: for no-one can be in the Church of Christ unless he is unified with the visible head of the Church itself and is strengthened in the cathedral of Peter.
- Charitas (13 April 1791), quoted in Philip G. Dwyer and Peter McPhee (eds.), The French Revolution and Napoleon: A Sourcebook (Routledge, 2002), p. 50
- We consider that our especial commendation and the testimony of our heart may be justly claimed by those who, in this time of apostasy and impiety, have exerted the force of their genius that they might write in defence of the cause of right. ... Amongst them you have stood out as one of the foremost, in that you have composed a famous work to overthrow and utterly destroy the fictions of the new philosophers of France, and have exhorted your fellow country-men...to show indulgences to Catholics born in the realm of Great Britain. ... therefore it is our wish that you should accept with joyful and cheerful heart our congratulations and praises, which have this especial object—that you should more and more exert yourself to protect the cause of civilization.
- Letter to Edmund Burke (7 September 1793), quoted in H. F. V. Somerset, 'Edmund Burke, England, and the Papacy', Dublin Review, CCII (January 1938), pp. 138-148