Friday, October 12, 2012
Papal Profile: Pope Clement XIV
Pope Clement XIV was also a very upright and moral man, a pontiff who furthered righteous causes and a patron of the arts (he famously knighted a young Wolfgang Mozart) but he had the misfortune to reign at a time when, aside from the Protestant and Islamic nations, the entire Catholic world had set itself in opposition to the papacy. Even “most faithful” Portugal had broken off diplomatic relations with the Holy See, the Bourbon kingdoms were threatening to do the same and Austria was unwilling to help, but perfectly willing to participate in any partition of papal territory. The reign of Clement XIV highlights how far the political power of the papacy had fallen since the High Middle Ages. With the outbreak of the French Revolution just around the corner, things were not going to improve in the immediate future. The popes had become accustomed to playing the game of power politics and counted on their spiritual position enabling them to ‘punch above their weight’. However, with the Jesuit issue, for once the papacy found none of the Catholic powers willing to support the Pope on a particular issue. That by itself must have been a terribly frightening prospect for Clement XIV.