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BENEDICT


434


BENEDICT


■n-ith -nisdom and moderation and introduced many reforms for the purpose of diminishing abuses and promoting the happiness and prosperity of the peo- ple. With a view to replenishing the treasury which had been exhausted by the extravagance of some of his predecessors, especially that of Benedict XIII under the influence of Cardinal Coscia, and because of the enormous outlay for public buildings under Clement XII, he made no promotions to the Sacred College for four years. Measures were set on foot to reform the nobility, a new regional division of the city was introduced for the purpose of greater ad- ministrative efficiency, agriculture was fostered and encouraged by the introduction of new and improved methods, commerce was promoted, and luxury re- strained, while the practice of usury, against which he published the Encyclical Vix Pervenit" (1745), was almost entirely suppressed. (See Usury.) Benedict abandoned none of the claims of his prede- cessors, but the liberal use of his powers had no other aim than the promotion of the arts of peace and industrj'. How serious the problem was is best seen from his own words: "The pope orders, the cardinals do not obey, and the people do as they please."

In purely spiritual and religious matters the in- fluence of Benedict left a lasting impress on the entire Church and its administration. His Bulls and Encyclicals, which have played such an important part in defining and clarifjing obscure and difficult points of ecclesiastical law, were learned treatises full of wisdom and scholarship. The vexed question of mixed marriages, unions between Catholics and Protestants, demanded settlement in consequence of the increasing frequency with which they occurred. Much of the bitterness of the Reformation time had passed away and Protestants sought to have their marriages with Catholics solemnized with ceremonies equal to those when both parties were Catholics. Though the doctrine prevailed in Rome that the con- tracting parties were the real ministers of the Sacra- ment of Matrimony, no general imanimity prevailed among theologians on this point. Without derogat- ing in the least from this theory, Benedict in reply to the questions from bishops in many places, es- pecially in Holland and Poland, decreed by the Bull "Magnas nobis adrairationis" (29 June, 1748) that mixed marriages were allowable only under certain well-defined conditions, the principal of which was that children born of those marriages should be brought up in the Catholic Faith, but that such mar- riages while tolerated, should never be performed with the ceremonies that imply formal ecclesiastical approval.

Rel-\tion-s with E.%5Terx Churches. — Under the skilful hand of Benedict a formal union was con- summated with some of the Eastern Churches. The frequent attempts of the Greek Melchite Patriarchs of Alexandria, Antioch, and Jerusalem to obtain recognition from the Holy See did not for a long time result in any definite union, because of dissatisfaction on the part of the popes with the formulation of the Oriental creeds. In 1744, Benedict XIV sent the pallium to Seraphin Tanas whom he acknowledged as Patriarch of the Greek Melchites of Antioch. The conflicts in the Maronite Church, after the deposition of Jacob II, which seriously threatened its unity were .settled in a national council (1736), the decrees of which were approved by Benedict. On 18 March, 1751, he renewed the p'rohibitions of Clement XII against the Freemasons, and though very few govern- ments regarded the suppression of this society as demanding decisive action on their part, laws were at once passed by Spain and Naples, and in 1757 by Milan. The controversy in regard to Chinese and Malabar customs, or the system of accommodation to heathenism which .some missionaries had permitted their converts to practice, and by which it was said


that pagan ideas and pagan practices had been

f rafted on Christianity, was terminated by Bene- ict XIV who issued two Bulls on the subject, and required the missionaries to take an oath that such abuses would not be tolerated in the future. The Bull "Ex quo singulari", in regard to the abuses in China, was published 11 .July, 1742; that in regard to Malabar, "Omnium soUicitudinum", 12 September, 1744. (See Chix.\, Ixdi.\.) Because of the manner in which church festivals had been multiplied, Bene- dict strove to diminish them. This he did in Spain in 1742, in Sicily and Tuscany in 1748, and later in Sardinia, Austria, and the Papal States. Such a move met with much opposition from many cardinals. Benedict silenced their reproaches by saj-ing that fewer feasts observed in a more Cliristian manner would contribute more to the glory of religion.

Liturgical Reforms. — In liturgical matters Bene- dict XIV was extremely conservative. He viewed with grief the profound changes which had been in- troduced into the Roman Calendar since the time of Pius V. The increase in the number of Feasts of Saints and the multiplication of offices with the rank of Duplex had superseded the old ferial and dominical offices, and throughout his entire pontificate he set himself determinedly against the introduction of any new offices in the Breviary, a policy which he ad- hered to so strictly that the only change it underwent during his administration was that Leo the Great received the title of Doctor. So profotindly im- pressed was he with the necessity of a thorough revision of the Breviary which would eliminate those portions with which the critical sense of the eight- eenth centurj- found fault that he commissioned the Jesuit, Fabio Danzetto, to prepare a report on the subject. This report in four volimies of notes was of such a sweeping character that it is said to have caused Beneaict to desist from his project. The plan of reforming the Roman Martyrologj' was, however, carried to a successful issue, and a new edition was published by his authoritj' in Rome in 1748. The same is true of the "C^remoniale Episcoporum", which Benedict XIII undertook to reform and which Benedict XIV published (1752) in the now usual form. The classical work of Benedict on liturgical matters is his "De Servorum Dei Beatificatione et de Beatorum Canonizatione" which still regulates the process of beatification and canonization. Other im- portant liturgical writings of Benedict deal with the sacrifice of the Mass and the feasts of Our Lord, the Blessed Virgin, and some saints. Besides these he pub- lished numerous works on the rites of the Greeks and Orientals; Bulls and Briefs on the celebration of the octave of the Holy Apostles, against the use of superstitious images, on the blessing of the pallium, against profane music in churches, on the golden rose, etc.

In order that the clergj' should not be deficient in ecclesiastical and historical science, and that they might not lack opportunity to profit by the intel- lectual progress of the period, he founded at Rome four academies for the study of Roman antiquities, Christian antiquities, the history of the Church and the councils, and the history of canon law and liturgj-. He also established a Christian museum, and commissioned Joseph Assemani to prepare a catalogue of the manuscripts in the Vatican Library which he enriched by the purchase of the Ottobonian Library containing 3,300 MSS. of unique value and importance. He founded chairs of chemistrj- and mathematics in the Roman university known as the Sapienza, and many others for painting, sculpture, etc., at other schools. Over all these foundations he exercised the closest supervision; he also found time to carry out many schemes for the building and adorn- ment of churches in Rome. The fact that Benedict never raised a Jesuit to the cardinalate is attributed