|The Coronation of Napoleon, December 2, 1804|
In the course of their revolution, the French had conquered what is today Belgium and the Netherlands, as well as most of modern Germany. They also had seized Italy and Spain where they established satellite states under Bonaparte siblings or allies. Although Sweden was never part of this empire, one of Napoleon’s top generals, Jean- Baptiste Bernadotte was elected King by the Swedish Riksdag (Parliament). Bernadotte briefly was allied to Napoleonic France but he was no fool and disentangled himself from that alliance when it was clear that Napoleon would not prevail. Wherever Napoleon held power, however, he established religious liberty giving Catholics, Protestants, and Jews freedom of worship.
When Napoleon fell in 1815 the restored European monarchs, including Pope Pius VII, were determined to undo as much as they could of the French Revolutionary influence on European societies. Religious freedom was among the first things to go. Outright persecution of religious minorities was difficult to reestablish but limits were put on Catholics and Catholicism in Protestant lands and on Protestants and Protestantism in Catholic countries. The Catholic Church insisted, for the most part without success, on religious liberty for its adherents in Protestant lands but vehemently opposed Protestant rights in Catholic countries. The Papal States certainly did not practice religious liberty. Certain limited freedoms were extended to Jews though they were required to live in the Ghetto until 1882—twelve years after the Kingdom of Italy had taken political control of Rome from the popes. What liberties Roman Jews had came at the price of various taxes and duties. As difficult as the Jews had it, Protestants had a much more difficult time. Protestant worship was forbidden in Papal Rome and no Protestant churches could be constructed within the walls of the city. The Papacy did not approve of religious toleration when it came to “heretics.” It was only with the fall of Papal Rome and its incorporation into the Kingdom of Italy in 1870 that Protestants acquired the right to worship in Rome and the surrounding area. As the papacy did not recognize the authority of the Italian monarchy over formerly Papal territory, neither did they accept freedom of religion in the once Papal dominions. American ex-President Theodore Roosevelt declined an invitation to meet Pius X during a trip to Rome in 1910 because one of the papal conditions on the visit was that the President, an Episcopalian, could not attend a Protestant Church during his visit. (There were other conditions as well that Roosevelt chose not to meet.)
As a result of its intransience on the matter of religious freedom, Rome did not know what to do with the American constitutional policy of Separation of Church and State. American Catholics, for the most part, accepted the American position without reservation. Indeed most probably supported it with the enthusiasm with which they embraced life in the American Republic. Rome chose to ignore the American Constitutional requirement of separation of Church and State as they chose to ignore the reality of republican government. European prelates found freedom of conscience and republicanism to be too reminiscent of the debacle of the French Revolution. Yet the Holy See did not want to imperil the health and safety of the Catholic Church which was thriving in the American Republic under the constitutional principle of Separation of Church and State. It was agreed by Roman officials that American Catholics could live with the Separation of Church and State until such time that Catholics gained the political majority. At that time they would be bound by Church authority to establish Catholicism as the State Religion in the United States and limit, if not absolutely proscribe, Protestant worship.