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Communion, witness, mercy: papal tribute to Pius VII

April 22, 2024

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CWN Editor's Note: Pope Francis received pilgrims from four Italian dioceses on April 20 and paid tribute to the Servant of God Pope Pius VII (1742-1823), who reigned from 1800 to 1823.

“I would like to emphasize, thinking of his life, three key values to which he bore witness, essential also for our personal and community journeys: communion—but not Communion, the sacrament, communion in the Church—witness, and mercy,” the Pope said.

“Dear brothers and sisters, there are many values recalled to us by the memory of the Servant of God Pius VII: love for truth, unity, dialogue, attention to the least, forgiveness, the tenacious search for peace, and that evangelical astuteness that the Lord recommends to us,” he continued.

Meekness, Pope Francis then explained, “does not mean we are stupid, no, no, that is not meekness, no. Meekness, but cunning as the Lord recommends. Simple as the dove but cunning as the snake.”

Pius VII was imprisoned and exiled by Napoleon’s forces in 1809 and triumphantly returned to Rome in 1814. He also restored the Society of Jesus in 1814, four decades after the institute’s suppression in 1773.

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