Clement XIII, Pope
CLEMENT XIII, POPE
Pontificate: July 6, 1758, to Feb. 2, 1769; b. Carlo della Torre Rezzonico, Venice, March 7, 1693. His family, which originated at Como in central Italy, emigrated to Genoa and then to Venice (1640), where the family name was inscribed in the Golden Book of nobility (1687).
Ecclesiastical Career. Carlo was educated in humanities and philosophy at the Jesuit college at Bologna, and received his doctorate in theology and Canon Law at the University of Padua; in 1714 he entered the Accademia ecclesiastica at Rome to prepare for a career of diplomacy. Two years later he was ordained, began service as a prothonotary, and was immediately appointed by Clement XI governor of Rieti, then of Fano (1721). Benedict XIII called him to Rome (1725) as a member of the Consulta, and after four years selected him as an auditor of the Rota for Venice. His diligence in this office is reflected in the Decisiones S. Rotae Romanae coram R. P. D. Carolo Rezzonico, 3 v. (Rome 1759). He was created a cardinal deacon by Clement XII (Dec. 20, 1737) with the title of S. Niccolò in Carcere (changed to cardinal priest of S. Maria in Ara Coeli, then to S. Marco), and on March 11, 1743, he succeeded Pietro Ottoboni in the See of Padua; his consecration was performed by Benedict XIV in the church of the SS. Apostoli. His efforts for the improvement of his clergy made his episcopate imitative of those of Charles Borromeo and Gregory Barbarigo. The latter, his predecessor in the bishopric of Padua (1667–97), was a relative through his mother, Vittoria Barbarigo; Gregory was beatified by Clement, Sept. 20, 1761. Rezzonico held a synod (1746) and spent large sums of his own wealth in enlarging and improving the seminary. At Padua he was regarded as il santo, and at Rome diplomatic agents wrote of his conscientiousness, candor, affability, benevolence, and generosity, although some commented on his talento mediocre.
Papal Election. The conclave of 53 days that brought the tiara to Rezzonico opened on May 15, 1758, and became an electoral contest among the Anziani (elders), the imperialists, the supporters of the Bourbons, and the Zelanti, who sought a candidate who would bring vigor to the office. A deadlock resulting from the exclusiva used by the Bourbon party against Cardinal Cavalchini ended when Cardinal Spinelli, leader of the Zelanti, and the imperial Cardinal Roth of Constance proposed Rezzonico as a compromise candidate; his name was fourteenth on the list of those acceptable to Vienna. His coronation occurred July 16. Surprised and humbled by the high office, Clement faced the problems inherited from his predecessor, Benedict XIV. One urgent problem was the anti-Romanism of the rulers of Europe, which expressed itself in the febronianism of Johann Nikolaus von hontheim and the deism of the encyclopedists. Its particular expression, however, was the "family pact" of the Bourbon courts of France, Spain, Naples, and Parma to destroy the Jesuits, who were at a high point in their influence with 23,000 members, 800 residences, 700 colleges, and 270 missions.
The Jesuit Question. The extinction of the Jesuits became the affaire célèbre that harassed the new pontiff, who, inclined to timidity and indecision, relied upon his curial advisers: first, Cardinal Spinelli and the Secretary of State, Alberico Archinto, both inimical to the society, then Cardinal Luigi Torrigiani, successor to Archinto (1758) and a strong defender of the Jesuits. Clement's nephew, Carlo Rezzonico, created a cardinal, Oct. 2, 1758, had neither skill nor interest in diplomacy.
Portugal. The reign of Joseph I (1750–77) was dominated by his chief minister, Sebastião José de Carvalho e Mello, Marquis of pombal, who considered the Jesuits an obstacle to his plans for strengthening the monarchy and exploiting the colonies. Under Benedict XIV he had accused them of opposing the Hispano-Portuguese Treaty (Jan. 8, 1750) that partitioned Paraguay, of organizing the natives for rebellion, and of practicing illicit trade (including slaves) at Maranhão and Gran Pará. On Sept. 20, 1757, he dismissed Jesuit confessors from court and obtained from Benedict the appointment of Cardinal Francesco Saldanha as visitor of Jesuit houses. When the king was wounded by gunshot (Sept. 3, 1758), the Jesuits were included in accusations made at the trial proceedings that sent José Mascarenhas, Duke of Aviero, the Marquis da Távora, and members of his family and household to a cruel execution for treason and regicide (Jan. 12, 1759). By royal edict (January 19) Jesuits were confined to their houses, their property confiscated and a list of their transgressions in the colonies (Relacão abreviada ) was sent to Rome and circulated. Clement's brief of August 18, appealing for canonical procedures in the handling of the Jesuits, and his two subsequent letters were rejected as "unauthorized." On September 17 the deportation of approximately 1,100 Jesuits to Civitavecchia began; there they found refuge and kindness from the pope. Two hundred and fifty other Jesuits (superiors and foreigners) were imprisoned in the subterranean dungeons of São Juliao, São Jorge, and Belem until the death of Joseph (1777), when 60 survivors were freed. Diplomatic relations were severed when the papal nuncio Filippo acciaioli was expelled, and the Portuguese ambassador Almada was recalled from Rome (July 7,1760). The break was made more dramatic when the Jesuit Gabriel Malagria, already indicted in the Távora trial, was declared a heretic by the Inquisition, strangled, and burned in a solemn auto-da-fé (Sept. 21, 1761); Clement regarded him as a martyr. The breach between Rome and Lisbon continued throughout Clement's pontificate.
France. The unwise speculation of the procurator of the mission of Martinique, Antoine de La Valette (1709–67), brought the Jesuits of the Paris province to bankruptcy and also to the attention of Parlement, which in May 1761, examined the constitutions of the society, and advocated a vicar-general for the Jesuits of France, appointed by the Crown and independent of the generalate in Rome. The Parlement also compiled the Extraits des assertions dangereuses et pernicieuses, where passages from Jesuit writings, were misused to proclaim the society a menace to the state. Louis XV, at the behest of Clement, consulted the Assembly of the French Clergy (December 1761): 45 bishops against six approved the constitutions as they were; of the others, the Jansenist bishop Fitz James of Soissons asked for the suppression of the Jesuits; 27 absent bishops voted favorably on the constitutions. The king, fearful of Parlement and influenced by his mistress, Mme. de Pompadour, and her adviser, Étienne François de Choiseul, ignored the votes of the bishops and petitioned Rome for a special vicar-general, but was refused. On this occasion Clement remarked to Lorenzo ricci, the Jesuit general, "Sint ut sunt aut non sint" (Let them be as they are or not be). His appeal to the king was without effect, and in a final arrêt of the Paris Parlement (Aug. 6, 1762), the society was suppressed and declared "nonexistent" by Louis in November 1764. In protest Clement wrote a solemn bull, Apostolicum pascendi munus (Jan. 9, 1765), restating papal approval of the Jesuits, praising their achievements, and declaring this affront to the society to be equally an affront to the Church.
Spain, Naples, and Parma. Charles III (1759–88), regarded as an enlightened despot and the greatest of the Spanish Bourbons, was at first apparently friendly to the Jesuits, though surrounded by ministers who sought their destruction. Among these ministers were the Irishman Richard Wall, Minister of Foreign Affairs; his successor, Marqués de Grimaldi (1763); Manuel de Roda y Arrieta, Minister of Justice; Pedro Campomanés, fiscal; Count Pedro Pablo Aranda, president of the Council of Castile; and José Moniño (Count Florida Blanca), ambassador to Rome. Moreover Charles still received the advice of Bernardo tanucci, who had been his chief minister when he was king of Naples (1738–59), and now served his son, King Ferdinand IV. The queen mother, Elizabeth Farnese, stayed their influence on the king, but after her death (July 10, 1766) Charles acknowledged the Jesuits as the authors of pamphlets urging insurrection, as conspirators for his deposition on the grounds of illegitimate birth, and as the principal opponents to the canonization of Ven. Juan de palafox y mendoza, Bishop of Mexico (d.1659), whose cause Charles favored. In a session of the Extraordinary Council of Jan. 29, 1767, the Jesuits were declared instigators of rebellion and by a royal decree (February 27) were banished from Spain and its colonies. In a letter to Clement (March 31) Charles announced that the reasons for his action were locked in the royal breast; Clement's reply urging clemency and justice was unheeded. On the night of April 2–3 Jesuits were expelled from their houses and hustled into ships to sail to Civitavecchia; their property was voided to the state, and a yearly pension of 100 pesetas, to be forfeited upon leaving the Papal States, was promised to each member of the society. Because of the diplomatic indignity of this act and the impossibility of settling so great a number of exiles (5,100 Jesuits would converge from the ports of Spain; 2,600 of all nationalities from the colonies), the pope's officials refused their embarkation. Under Joseph pignatelli's leadership, the Jesuits settled in Corsica until 1768 when they were received into the Papal States and the cities of northern Italy.
Charles's edict was duplicated in the other countries controlled by the Spanish Bourbons. In the name of the young King Ferdinand IV of Naples (1759–1825) the regent Tanucci forbade the reading of the Apostolicum pascendi munus, and on Feb. 8, 1768, issued the decree of expulsion; 1,400 Jesuits were marched over the frontier into the Papal States. Pinto de Fonseca, Grandmaster of the Knights of Malta, a feudatory of Naples, expelled 20 Jesuits from the island, April 23, 1768. On Jan. 16, 1768, François du Tillot, Marquis of Fellino and chief minister of Duke Ferdinand of Parma, Piacenza, and Guastalla (1765–1802), ordered a commission to investigate monastic charters. Clement, as traditional suzerain of the Duchy of Parma, protested in a brief known as the Monitorium, which was rejected, and on February 8 in retaliation 170 Jesuits were exiled. The Bourbon courts supported Parma; France occupied Avignon and Venaissin; Naples invaded Pontecorvo and Benevento. The crisis reached its summit when in January of the next year the ambassadors of France, Spain, and Naples placed a formal demand for the suppression of the society. To forestall action, Clement called a special consistory to decide the fate of the Jesuits, but the day before its scheduled meeting (February 3), an apoplectic stroke ended his trials. He was buried in St. Peter's Basilica and Canova created his funeral monument.
Pastor and Patron. The pastoral interest that won him praise as bishop of Padua marked his government of Rome and the Papal States. Nonetheless, his pontificate has been seen by many to mark the final abandonment of reform within the Catholic enlightenment. Still, during the great drought of 1763 and 1764 Clement instituted a monte dell' abbondanza, bought grain and oil, and built shelters for the thousands who crowded into Rome; he also attempted to drain the Pontine marshes, but was unsuccessful (1762). In his name the Holy Office condemned the Histoire du peuple de Dieu … by the Jesuit Isaac Joseph Berruyer (Dec. 2, 1758), Encyclopédie by Denis Diderot et al. (Sept. 3, 1759), De l'Esprit by Claude Adrien Helvétius (Jan. 31, 1759; in that year it was condemned also by the Sorbonne and publicly burned), Exposition de la doctrine chrétienne … by François Philippe Mésenguy (1677–1763), called the "Second Quesnel" (June 14, 1761), Emile ou Traité de l'Éducation by Jean Jacques rousseau (Sept. 9, 1762; condemned also by Parlement), and De statu ecclesiae et legitima potestate Romani pontificis by Febronius (Feb. 27, 1764).
Arts and scholarship were favored during this pontificate. The completion of the Villa Albani was entrusted to Niccolò Savi (1763), and of the Fontana di Trevi to Giuseppe Pannini (1762). The painters Anton Raphael Mengs (1728–79) and Giovanni Piranesi received Clement's patronage, although they shared the dismay of artists when Clement ordered coverings for the "indecent" statues of antiquity in the Villa Albani and Vatican and commissioned Stefano Pozzi to paint over the nudities of the frescoes in the Sistine Chapel. St. Paul's-Outside-the-Walls, the Quirinal Palace, and the Castel Gandolfo were adorned. The vatican library was enriched with Oriental MSS, many formerly owned by the Assemani; the Illyricum sacrum, 8 v. (1751–90) by Daniele farlati, SJ, and the Inscriptiones romanae infimi aevi of Pier Luigi Galletti, OSB, 3 v. (1760) had his support; and Giuseppe garampi, prefect of the Archives, was sent twice (1761, 1764) to Germany on diplomatic missions and was appointed secretary of the ciphers (1766).
Clement advanced the devotion to the Sacred Heart by granting a Mass and Office for Poland, as requested by King Augustus III, and for the Archconfraternity of the Sacred Heart in Rome (Jan. 26, 1765). The Immaculate Conception was declared the principal patronal feast for Spain (Nov. 8, 1760) and the title "mater immaculata" was added to the litanies; the Preface of the Trinity was ordered for all Sunday Masses. On the anniversary of his coronation (Aug. 16, 1767) Clement canonized joseph calasanctius, joseph cupertino, Jerome emiliani, Jane Frances de chantal, john cantius, and serafino of ascoli. He beatified the Trinitarian Simon de rojas (May 19, 1766) and the Capuchin bernard of corleone (April 29, 1768), and declared many venerable.
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"Clement XIII, Pope." New Catholic Encyclopedia. . Encyclopedia.com. (August 20, 2018). http://www.encyclopedia.com/religion/encyclopedias-almanacs-transcripts-and-maps/clement-xiii-pope
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