Clement XIV

Clement XIV

Pope (Giovanni Vincente Antonio Ganganelli), was born at San Arcangelo, near Rimini, October 31, 1705. After receiving an education in the institutions of the Jesuits at Rimini and the Piarists at Urbino, he entered, on May 17, 1723, the order of the Minorites, exchanging his baptismal Christian name for that of Lorenzo. He soon distinguished himself both as a pulpit orator and as a theologian, and taught theology in several of the institutions of his order. When, on May 20, 1741, Pope Benedict XIV presided at the general chapter of the Minorites, which was to elect a new general of the order, Ganganelli, in the name of the chapter, addressed the pope in a speech which gained to him the full confidence of Benedict. He was in 1745 appointed assistant, and in 1746 consultor at the Sant' Uffizio (the Congregation of the Inquisition), and in this office won general respect by his moderation, amiable character, and scholarship. On September 24, 1759, he was appointed cardinal-priest by Clement XIII upon the recommendation of the general of the Jesuits. The pope intrusted to him several important missions; but when it was found that he disapproved the uncompromising opposition of the pope to the Bourbon courts, he fell into disfavor, and was deprived of all influence. The conclave, after the death of Clement XIII, lasted over three months. The ambassadors of the Bourbon courts, aided by the youthful Archduke Joseph of Austria (subsequently Joseph II), made the utmost exertions to secure the election of a liberal pope. Ganganelli finally was agreed upon by a compromise of the two parties. The one regarded him as sufficiently flexible and liberal, while the Jesuits' party held that, though opposed to the late pope's policy, he was not hostile to the order of the Jesuits. Thus he was elected by both parties on May 19, 1769. As he was not yet a bishop, he received the episcopal consecration on the 28th of May, and was crowned pope on the 4th of June. He opened his pontificate by making reforms in the administration of the papal states, showed himself a patron of science and art, and endeavored to gain the confidence of the Roman people. But his chief care was to restore the good relations between the papal and the Bourbon courts. He opened a personal correspondence with the Bourbon princes, and carefully avoided everything that could give offense. He abandoned the papal claims to the duchy of Parma; offered himself to the court of Madrid as godfather for the new-born son of the princess of Austria; conciliated the king of Portugal and his prime minister Pombal (who threatened a complete separation of Portugal from the Church of Rome) by appointing Pombal's brother a cardinal, and confirming the episcopal nominations which had been made by the king. This conciliatory policy secured the restoration to the papal government of Avignon, Venaissin, Benevento, and Pontecorvo. But the chief demand of the Bourbon courts, the suppression of the order of the Jesuits, he tried to escape as long as possible. He had held himself aloof from the Jesuits from the first day of his pontificate, and had forbidden the admission of the General of the order to the Vatican. He appointed a committee of jurists to examine the subject; acquainted himself personally with all that had been written for or against the order; and took great care to prepare public opinion gradually for its suppression. In a letter to the king of Spain he publicly admitted the necessity of suppressing the order, as the members had deserved this fate by their intrigues. The bishops of the papal states were authorized to examine the houses of the Jesuits, and to secularize those members who desired it. On June 25, 1773, the seals were put on the archives of the novitiate of the order at Rome, and the cardinal of Aragon was directed to possess himself of all their possessions within his legation. A similar order was given to the bishop of Montalto. Finally, on July 21, 1773, the famous brief "Dominus ac Redemptor Noster," by which the whole order was suppressed, was signed. It was published on the 16th of August. On the whole, the decree was carried out with great regard to the individual members, but the general, father Ricci, was arrested. The brief states, as a reason for the suppression, that the Church no longer derived from the order the advantages which were expected from it at the time of its foundation; it refers to the suppression of other monastic orders by former popes; claims for the pope the right of suppressing an order without previous trial, and explains his long hesitation to take this step from his earnest desire of thoroughly considering the matter. The measure naturally produced an extraordinary excitement; the Jesuits everywhere submitted, but some violent books against the acts of the pope were published by the members or friends of the order, and prophecies from a Dominican nun, Anna Theresa Poll, and from a certain Bernardina Renzi, announcing the imminent death of the pope, were widely circulated. Some months after the suppression of the order the health of the pope began to fail, and he died September 22, 1774. An opinion that he had been poisoned found many believers, and is still defended by a number of writers, but a majority of the best historians have declared it not sufficiently supported. Special works on Clement are, Caraccioli, Ve de Clement XIV (1775; German translation, Frankfort, 1776); Leben des P. Clemens XIV (Berlin, 177475, 3 vols.); Cretineau-Joly, Clement XIV et les Jesuites (Paris, 1847, on the side of the Jesuits); Ganganelli, Papst Clemens XIV; seine Briefe und seine Zeit (Berlin, 1847); Theiner, Histoire du Pontificat de Clement XIV (Paris, 1853, 3 vols.; German edit. Leipzig). Father Theiner, who was a prefect- coadjutor of the archives of the Vatican, consultor of the Congregation of the Index and other congregations, a member of the special Congregation on the Immaculate Conception, etc., at Rome, made use of many unprinted documents in the archives of the Vatican. He tried to exalt Clement as one of the greatest popes, and, in order to achieve this, came out very severely against the Jesuits of that time. His work led to a lively controversy. The French historian of the order, Cretineau-Joly, undertook the defense of the Jesuits, but his book was put on the Index. The general of the order, P. Roothan, fearing that the controversy might turn out badly for the order, declined all responsibility for Cretineau-Joly's work, but at the same time induced P. de Ravignan, the celebrated Jesuit preacher at Paris, to take up the defense of the order. Ravignan accordingly wrote and published Clement XIII et Clement XIV (Paris, 1854, 2 vols., p. 574 and 502), in which he tries to justify both the Jesuits and the pope who suppressed them. See Herzog, Real-Encyklop. 2, 740-742; Wetzer u. Welte, 2:618- 622; Hoefer, Biog. Generale, 10, 770-776; Ranke, Hist. Pap. bk. 8; Hase, Church Hist. § 525; Hook, Ecclesiastes Dict. s.v. Ganganelli.

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