Pope Clement XI

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CLEMENT XI, pope (1700-1721). Born Giovanni Francesco Albani, he was elevated to the pontificate in November 1700, and died in March 1721. The most memorable transaction of his administration was the publication in 1713 of the bull Unigenitus, which so greatly disturbed the peace of the church in France, sometimes called the Gallican church. By this famous document 101 propositions from the works of Quesnel were condemned as heretical, and as identical with propositions already condemned in the writings of Jansen. The resistance of many French ecclesiastics and the refusal of the French parliaments to register the bull led to controversies extending through the greater part of the 18th century. Because the local governments did not officially receive the bull, it was not, technically, in force in those areas - an example of the interference of states in religious affairs common before the 20th century.

Another important decision of this Pope's was that by which the Jesuit missionaries were forbidden to take a part in honor paid to Confucius or the ancestors of the emperors of China, which the Clement identified as idolatrous, and to accommodate Christian language to pagan ideas under plea of conciliating the heathen.

The political troubles of the time greatly embarrassed Clement's relations with the leading Catholic powers, and the moral prestige of the Holy See suffered much from his compulsory recognition of the Archduke Charles of Austria as king of Spain. His private character was irreproachable; he was also an accomplished scholar, and a patron of letters and science.


from the 9th edition (1876) of an unnamed encyclopedia

preceded by Pope Innocent XII (1691-1700)
succeeded by Pope Innocent XIII (1721-1724)