Pope Clement XIII

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Pope Clement XIII (Venice, 7 March 1693 – 2 February 1769 in Rome), born Carlo della Torre di Rezzonico, was Pope from 16 July 1758 to 2 February 1769.

He was born to a recently ennobled family of Venice, received a Jesuit education in Bologna and became a Cardinal-Deacon of San Nicola in Carcere in 1737. Previously he had filled various important posts in the Curia and had been bishop of Padua since 1743; during his tenure as bishop of Padua he visited all the parishes in the diocese, the first bishop to do that for 50 years[1]. He became pope on 6 July 1758. In the same year the Rezzonico family were celebrating Ludovico Rezzonico's marriage into the powerful Savorgnan family. The son of the man who bought the unfinished palace on the Grand Canal (now Ca' Rezzonico) and finished its construction, Carlo the pontiff was notorious for his rampant nepotism.

Notwithstanding the meekness and affability of his upright and moderate character, modest to a fault (he had the classical sculptures in the Vatican provided with mass-produced fig leaves) and generous with his extensive private fortune, Clement XIII's pontificate was disturbed by perpetual contentions respecting the pressures to suppress the Jesuits coming from the progressive Enlightenment circles of the philosophes in France. Clement XIII placed the Encyclopédie of D'Alembert and Diderot on the Index, but this index was not as effective as it used to be in the previous century. More unexpected resistance came in the less progressive courts of Spain, the Two Sicilies, and Portugal. In 1758 the reforming minister of Joseph I of Portugal (1750–77), the Marquis of Pombal, expelled the Jesuits from Portugal, and shipped them en masse to Civitavecchia, as a "gift for the Pope." In 1760, Pombal sent home the papal nuncio and recalled the Portuguese ambassador. The pamphlet titled the Brief Relation, which represented the Jesuits as having set up virtually an independent kingdom in South America under their own sovereignty, and of tyrannising the Native Americans, all in the interest of an insatiable ambition and avarice, whether or not it was completely true, was damaging to the Jesuit cause.

In France, the Parlement de Paris, with its strong upper bourgeois background and Jansenist sympathies, opened the pressure to expel the Jesuits from France in the spring of 1761, and the published excerpts from Jesuit writings, the Extrait des assertions, provided anti-Jesuit ammunition (though, arguably, many of the statements the Extrait contained were made to look worse than they were through judicious omission of context). Though a congregation of bishops assembled at Paris in December 1761 recommended no action, Louis XV of France (1715–74) promulgated a royal order permitting the Society to remain in the kingdom, with the proviso that certain essentially liberalising changes in their institution satisfy the Parlement with a French Jesuit vicar-general who should be independent of the general in Rome. To the arrêt of 2 August 1762, by which the Parlement suppressed the Jesuits in France, imposing untenable conditions on any wishing to remain in the country, Clement XIII replied by a protest against the invasion of the Church's rights, and annulled the arrêts. Louis XV's ministers could not permit such an abrogation of French law, and the King finally expelled the Jesuits in November 1764.

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