Cienfuegos, José Ignacio

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Chilean bishop and enlightened reformer; b. 1762;d. Talca, 1845. He was ordained in 1785 and stationed in Talca until 1813. As a member of the education commission of the new national regime in Chile, he effected his most important action, the union of the Tridentine Seminary with the National Institute, the new foundation planned by the Creole junta. The consolidation of the seminary with the basic college for humanistic, philosophic, and scientific studies, intended for laymen, opened the way for the new enlightened and liberal ideas among future secular priests. The fusion of these institutions was characteristic of Josephinism, current throughout America during the period of independence.

Cienfuegos was banished to the Juan Fernandez Islands at the time of the Spanish reconquest, but returned in 1817, when independence was finally achieved. He was president of the Senate and on various occasions was governor of the bishopric of Santiago, owing to the confidence that the political heads of the new state had in him. In 1821, as plenipotentiary, he went to the Holy See and brought about the mission of Juan Muzi to Chile; it failed and the legislative reforms of the Church were consolidated. Muzi accused Cienfuegos of usurping episcopal jurisdiction since Bp. rodrÍguez zorrilla had been expelled by O'Higgins, but Cienfuegos went to Rome again in 1827 and succeeded in vindicating himself. Nevertheless, he had cooperated with the ecclesiastical reforms and proposed the selection of parish priests by the people in accord with the parochial tendencies then in vogue.

He became titular bishop of Rétimo in 1828 and bishop of Concepción in 1830. In 1837 he gave up his diocese and retired to Talca, where he died. Among his charitable works are his donations to the hospital and the Institute of Talca, and the foundation of a chair of theology. He published a Catechism of Christian Doctrine (Geneva 1829), with commentary, which shows the moral seriousness that characterized his pastoral work. Among the Chilean clergy he is the chief representative of the socalled Catholic Enlightenment.

Bibliography: l. f. prieto del rÍo, Diccionario biográfico del clero secular de Chile (Santiago de Chile 1922).

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