Carlo Rezzonico (Clement XIII) elected Pope
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. 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, taken out of context perhaps, certainly provided anti-Jesuit ammunition. 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.
Born at Venice, 7 March, 1693; died at Rome, 2 February, 1769. He was educated by the Jesuits at Bologna, took his degrees in law at Padua, and in 1716 was ppointed at Rome referendary of the two departments known as the "Signatura Justitiæ" and the "Signatura Gratiæ". He was made governor of Rieti in 1716, of Fano in 1721, and Auditor of the Rota for Venice in 1725. In 1737 he was made cardinal-deacon, and in 1743 Bishop of Padua, where he distinguished himself by his zeal for the formation and sanctification of his clergy, to promote which he held a synod in 1746, and published a very remarkable pastoral on the priestly state. His personal life was in keeping with his teaching, and the Jansenist Abbé Clément, a grudging witness, tells us that "he was called the saint (by his people), and was an exemplary man who, notwithstanding the immense revenues of his diocese and his private estate, was always without money owing to the lavishness of his alms-deeds, and would give away even his linen". In 1747 he became cardinal-priest, and on 6 July, 1758, he was elected pope to succeed Benedict XIV. It was with tears that he submitted to the will of the electors, for he gauged well the force and direction of the storm which was gathering on the political horizon.
Regalism and Jansenism were the traditional enemies of the Holy See in its government of the Church, but a still more formidable foe was rising into power and using the other two as its instruments. This was the party of Voltaire and the Encyclopedists, the "Philosophers" as they liked to call themselves. They were men of talent and highly educated, and by means of these gifts had drawn over to themselves many admirers and adherents from among the ruling classes, with the result that by the time of Clement XIII, they had their representatives in power in the Portugese and in all the five Bourbon Courts. Their enmity was radically against the Christian religion itself, as putting a restraint on their licence of thought and action. In their private correspondence they called it the Infâme (the infamous one), and looked forward to its speedy extinction through the success of their policy; but they felt that in their relations with the public, and especially with the sovereigns, it was necessary to feign some kind of Catholic belief. In planning this war against the Church, they were agreed that the first step must be the destruction of the Jesuits. "When we have destroyed the Jesuits", wrote Voltaire to Helvétius in 1761, "we shall have easy work with the Infâme." And their method was to persuade the sovereigns that the Jesuits were the chief obstacle to their Regalist pretensions, and thereby a danger to the peace of their realms; and to support this view by the diffusion of defamatory literature, likewise by inviting the co-operation of those who, whilst blind to the character of their ulterior ends, stood with them for doctrinal or other reasons in their antipathy to the Society of Jesus. Such was the political situation with which Clement XIII saw himself confronted when he began his pontificate.