Pope Benedict XIV

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Benedict XIV, pope (1740-1758), born Prospero Lorenzo Lambertini, belonged to a noble family of Bologna, at that time the second largest city in the Papal States. Elected to the Papal chair in a time of great difficulties, chiefly caused by the disputes between Roman Catholic nations and the Papacy about governmental demands to nominate bishops rather than leaving the appointment to the church, he managed to ovecome most of them. The disputes of the Holy See with the Kingdom of Naples, Sardinia, Spain, Venice and Austria were settled. The conclave which elected him had lasted 6 months; he said to the cardinals: "If you wish to elect a saint, choose Gotti; a statesman, Aldobrandini; an honest man, elect me." 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 his pontificate was the promulgation of his famous laws about missions in the two bulls, Ex quo singulari and Omnium solicitudinum. In these bulls he denounced the custom of accomodating 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 status of the ancestors - is honor paid to the ancestors to be considered 'ancestor worship' or something more like the Catholic veneration of the saints - and can a Catholic legitimately 'venerate' an ancestor known to not have been a Christian? The choice of a Chinese translation for the name of God was also been debated since the early 1600s.

The consequence of these bulls was that many of the converts were lost to the church.

preceded by Pope Clement XII (1730-1740)
succeeded by Pope Clement XIII (1758-1769)