Benedict XIV

Benedict XIV

Benedict XIV, 1675-1758, pope (1740-58), an Italian (b. Bologna) named Prospero Lambertini; successor of Clement XII. Long before his pontificate he was renowned for his learning and wrote a classic treatise on the subject of canonization (1734-38). In 1728 he became a cardinal. He was much interested in the Eastern churches and began (with the bull Etsi pastoralis, 1742) the modern papal legislation that favors the Eastern rites and prohibits activity that is likely to Latinize them. He beautified Rome and restored monuments, and he was munificent to Bologna. He patronized learning and welcomed scholars and artists to his court. He denounced the cruelty to the Native Americans in the disbanding of the Paraguay reductions. He was succeeded by Clement XIII.
Pope Benedict XIV (March 31, 1675May 3, 1758), born Prospero Lorenzo Lambertini, was Pope from August 17 1740 to 3 May 1758.

Biography

He was born into a noble family of Bologna, which was at that time the second largest city in the Papal States. He was elected Pope in 1740. The conclave which elected him had lasted six months; he is alleged to have said to the cardinals: "If you wish to elect a saint, choose Gotti; a statesman, Aldrovandi; a donkey, elect me" (in Italy the donkey symbolizes ignorance). His Papacy began in a time of great difficulties, chiefly caused by the disputes between Catholic rulers and the Papacy about governmental demands to nominate bishops rather than leaving the appointment to the Church. He managed to overcome most of these problems — the Holy See's disputes with the Kingdom of Naples, Sardinia, Spain, Venice, and Austria were settled.

He had a very active papacy, reforming the education of priests, the calendar of feasts of the Church, and many papal institutions. Perhaps the most important act of Benedict XIV's pontificate was the promulgation of his famous laws about missions in the two bulls, Ex quo singulari and Omnium solicitudinum. In these bulls he ruled on the custom of accommodating Christian words and usages to express non-Christian ideas and practices of the native cultures, which had been extensively done by the Jesuits in their Indian and Chinese missions. An example of this is the statues of ancestors - there had long been uncertainty whether honor paid to one's ancestors was unacceptable 'ancestor worship,' or if it was something more like the Catholic veneration of the saints. This question was especially pressing in the case of an ancestor known not to have been a Christian. The choice of a Chinese translation for the name of God had also been debated since the early 17th century. Benedict XIV denounced these practices in these two bulls. The consequence of this was that many of these converts left the Church.

On December 22, 1741, Benedict XIV promulgated the papal bull "Immensa Pastorum principis" against the enslavement of the indigenous peoples of the Americas and other countries.

Benedict XIV was also responsible, along with Cardinal Passionei, for beginning the catalogue of the Vatican Library.

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