Napoleon named himself consul in 1799 and he, like Mussolini, recognized right away that he needed to cultivate a very specific image to be accepted by the people. Napoleon recognized the need to connect with religion and for that reason, signed a Concordat in 1801 with the Catholic Church. Pope Pius VII and Napoleon came to an agreement that Catholicism would be the primary religion in France but the Church would be an instrument of the state. This was extremely popular because of the importance of religion for the masses. Napoleon said about religion that it is excellent stuff for keeping people quiet. Mussolini also used these tactics.
Duggan pg 435, “He also made highly respectful comments about the Catholic Church, describing religion as a ‘sacred patrimony of peoples’, and reinforcing his words with a number of high-profile gestures such as increasing clerical stipends and reinstating the crucifix in schools, courtrooms and the Colosseum.”
Mussolini used similar tactics in bringing religion into his campaign. He was able to use the power of the church to further his Fascist agenda. In 1929, Mussolini signed a Concordat with the Church known as the Lateran Treaty. It was signed by Mussolini on behalf of the Italian Government and by Pietro Gasparri for the papacy.
- The papacy recognized the state of Italy, with Rome as its capital. Italy in return recognized papal sovereignty over Vatican City
- Article 20 stated that all bishops were to take an oath of loyalty to the state and had to be Italian subjects speaking the Italian language (Napoleon required a similalr oath in his concordat.)
- The state agreed by article 36 of the concordatto permit religious instruction in the public primary and secondary schools and conceded to the bishops the right to appoint or dismiss those who imparted such instruction and to approve the textbooks that they used.
I talked about this in class today but if anyone is interested, this is an interview with John Cornwell, the author of Hitler’s Pope and hopefully it gets you interested. The book is amazing and has quite a bit of information on Mussolini and his relationship with the Church. http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=XXRVn_nFHB0